Thursday, November 10, 2011

Damn, I'm good.

Today I got hard-earned praise from the director of my agency. Yesterday, I had two supervisors e-mailing each other and me about how good my work is.

I revamped a project that wasn't quite working out with my knitting and got it right. I can't stop gushing about how beautifully the colors I chose work together.

I was the only person in my group that read our book. I explained all the topics and took the lead in coordinating our presentation. I made requests, got contact info, and created strategies.

I role played as a therapist in 2 different scenarios and was extensively praised by my classmates for how I set boundaries, focused conversations, handled group dynamics, and asked questions.

So, I must say.... damn, I'm good.

In line with my last post, I think it's far too easy for us to look down on ourselves or feel guilty for being proud of our own achievements. I think we stigmatize self-confidence by calling people "full of themselves" or "too proud" or "self-involved." But as I've come out of many years of being made to feel less than, I know it is my job to create the best life I can for myself, and to do so by caring about myself and giving myself every ounce of praise I deserve. Today it hit me that I am very, very good at what I do, and have come to this naturally. I feel no shame in saying that I have succeeded extremely well in my career, a career I never entirely expected to happen.

What are you proud of? Find something. Give yourself a reason to look in the mirror and smile, whether it's putting together a good meal, doing well in school of any level, finishing a project, or even just being happy. Remind yourself how damn good you are.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Miss Representation

As part of my graduate program, I have two internships to do. This year I work 16 hours a week with my university's Campus Safety Project. Part of a grant, we work on a campus level and far beyond about domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault, civility, and social norms. I am steeped in programming, language, and thoughts about these subjects at all times, particularly when I am also volunteering for the domestic violence shelter/24 hour hotline on my personal time. This has become extremely important to me, and begun to change how I view my own relationships.

Tonight we screened one of the most important films I've ever seen, Miss Representation. I suppose as a caveat I should state that my favorite film genre is "documentaries that make me angry," a love created by one of my most influential professors, Jerry Marx of the University of New Hampshire. Needless to say, this fit the need. Though one is best served by going to their website and learning directly from them, this film is largely about how women are represented and devalued in our media, and how we have internalized that and expect women to conform to these stereotypes. This is not a typical presentation, however. This film is absolutely impossible to ignore, as one is constantly impacted by statistics, facts, and horrific examples of what our media projects, not just in the places where sexism is a given like beer commercials, but the horrible things our news people say or the difference in how women are written about in articles when compared to how the men are described.

Before the title card had even come up on Miss Representation, I felt terrible. I felt profoundly guilty for my own behaviors, thoughts, and self-objectification that have contributed to the problems identified in the film. I wake up every day and look for clothes that make me look good, and, ideally, thin. I log my calories on my phone, with an absurdly low goal that is shaming at best. I put on as much makeup as I have facial features for. I have deluded myself into believing skin tight pants and a low cut shirt are “comfortable.” I look at other women and judge each and every inch of them. Although I don’t intentionally look at celebrity or gossip sites, and feel quite smug about that, should I happen to be sent a link to an “article” on one, I find myself lost for hours, looking at images of people who are pretty for a living, and who are subsequently derided by a public eager to punish them for normalcy. I compare myself to other women. I compare other women to myself. I am no better than the producers of objectifying films, or the marketers of beer and sports cars, or the magazine editors who order retouching on models.

I was overwhelmed by how much work there is to do. I’m 25 – I’ve always had protected access to abortions, birth control, most schools, sports, been told I can do anything I want. I’m not used to having to fight. I don’t think most women now feel there are still things to fight for, if ostensibly we’re supposed to have it better now. In high school, when I was on student congress, we would frequently discuss the Equal Rights Amendment and bringing it up for ratification again. I never understood the power of this amendment and I never saw the point of it until tonight. I truly regret that I hadn’t been more attuned to its importance then and fought for it; though we were a mock setting, I feel I could’ve given myself the knowledge and fire to change the woman that I grew into, the woman described in the first paragraph. When I left Wishcamper, I saw a sign pointing to “Ph.D in Public Policy,” and I whispered “see you next.” I’m struck now by the fact that during this film, the people I was drooling with admiration for were those who were directors of policy institutes or the leaders of organizations like NOW, and of course Rachel Maddow. I was not admiring the “sexy” women like I have been taught to do. I was planning to send the children I do not have to Montessori Schools and subscribe them upon birth to New Moon Girls magazine so that they may have a better shot at growing up believing their worth is greater than their bodies. I immediately began to fantasize about changing the world, about what I can actually do as soon as I get home to change the reality I no longer accept.

The statistics blew me away. I’m used to “my” statistics as a person who works with domestic violence programs, about how many women will experience abuse in a lifetime. With Miss Representation and the Be an Ally retreat also put on by my internship, it’s been a slap in a face to see that this statistic comes from somewhere – our cultural devaluing of women, tricking them into believing they deserve to be an object, to be treated poorly, to live to serve men. Additionally, men are socialized to believe they have to be macho, free of emotion, and exercise control over others to prove their worth. As a commenter in the video said, “this is not a genetic trait.” We have taught ourselves to behave this way. We teach each other to fit into these roles by punishing them for stepping outside of them. Each and every one of us is guilty, without even knowing it – it’s become so engrained in what it means to be male or female

Working with the Campus Safety Project has brought up a myriad of uncomfortable feelings for me. These feelings have also served to empower me to look more critically at my world, on micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Whether it was when my abuser showed up in the cafeteria while I did healthy relationship programming and I got an education in No Contact orders at USM, or when I was planning on seeing a person who has attempted to manipulate me into unwanted situations multiple times, and the conduct committee training I was at made me realize that this is not okay and so I chose not to go out with him, or Miss Representation firing me up to change the world, I have become uncomfortable… and that is the first step to change. I hope to go on and make many others uncomfortable, as well.

View the trailer for Miss Representation here:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Things I Ate In Boston

Pita bread
Greek salad
Fried calamari
Waffles with Nutella
Samurai chai tea
Sam Adams Oktoberfest
Homemade apple cider
Pizza with green peppers and black olives
Cannoli dipped in chocolate with chocolate chips
Red wine
Bombotelli with lobster, shrimp, marinara
Caprese salad with roasted red peppers
Bread and olive oil

Not really sure why I came home.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This isn't as fun as I thought.

Turns out, full time job, full time school, and an internship all at once kind of blow. Things are getting put off that shouldn't, and I'm putting myself at the bottom of my priorities. I've gained a lot of weight, which I'm trying to starve off, since its not like I have time for food anyways. Overall my mood has been lower since September. I get mad at myself for not getting things done, yet its hard to work up the motivation to get started despite that. I have no energy, though I can't sleep.

So overall, I'm doing pretty good.

Being able to knit with your eyes closed is a good skill for when you don't have any energy left but feel guilty (because whether its caused by your workplace, your schoolwork, or your eating habits, you always feel guilty) just doing absolutely nothing.

The least helpful thing anyone has said to me during all this has been "you need a vacation." And if I was allowed to take one that'd be great. But for now, all I can do is just keep slogging through. Eventually, it has to get better, right?

Monday, September 12, 2011

That about sums it up.

Jenna: I'm a little bit high strung.
Professor: I can tell.

It's already been that kind of semester. I've gained 5 pounds, I have no free time, I'm a loss for what I should be doing and when. Sounds like September.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Let the stealth blogging begin.

7 minutes away from the first class of this year and I'm already checked out.

So far its really nice to see the other part timers and connect with them again. It's hard to feel like you're part of something when you're not full time, where you don't have that shared connection as strongly.

Professor just came in; so far I like him. I have a good feeling.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What next?

I haven't written in forever. And the longer I go without writing, the less likely I am to write because I feel like whatever comes next has to be epic enough to justify the pause in between. If there's even anyone out there reading this or who had been wondering for months where I've been. Sometimes I like to at least link this and force it on people. Usually silly entries about baking. Which reminds me, I now own TWO frosting bags. I find them exactly as messy as the turkey baster plan. And my frosting just melted, anyways. I will never ever achieve grocery store cake frosting. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong but I assume I need to have a lot more chemicals in my arsenal.

The most immediate "next" in my life is school on Monday. I opted not to have a Summer class because I was still getting used to the new job and just wanted a few months without having to be somewhere or be involved in projects and papers and research. Basically, I knew the next few months were about to suck hard, so I wanted to just enjoy myself and postpone having to think about it. Which has worked well - I took a different approach to life this Summer, as opposed to last Summer when I worked the whole time, and I've actually enjoyed myself. I've visited friends, had people over, been impulsive as hell, gone to the beach, and above all else, made myself a priority, something that's been a massive challenge for many years.

Still at a loss for what to put here, but in a few days, I'll be bored in class, and the posts will flow.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Couch to 5k. Literally.

I once made it through a third of Day One of Couch to 5k. As in, I was taking a walk, ran for a minute, then only ever walked the rest of the time. And never ran again.

I was running at the gym for a while. But running at a good clip for a half hour on the treadmill apparently only = running one block and then wanting to die when out of the gym. So fuck it. I take a long walk once a week.

I had signed up to do an AIDS walk/run this weekend. I was walking, because, obviously, 5k of running would be embarrassing and bad. So yesterday morning, I made my journey south, to a great little beach town. I got there and registered and got to hang around for an hour. Which would have been more fun if I hadn’t come an hour early, hadn’t been alone, and there had been a single heterosexual man under 40 there. But I killed time by knitting by the beach and joining a fun impromptu yoga group.

Then it was time to start. They had us all line up to start, and runners and walkers were all lining up at the same spot, doing the same course, starting at the same time. I was fully planning to walk this, because I have the lung function of my 78 year old recently finished with radiation for lung cancer grandmother.

Then everyone took off running.

Well shit.

I figure, ok, I’ll run up to the ramp (like 30 feet away) with the pack and then walk. And I was happy and people were cheering me on and I had my ipod on (playing BILLY JOEL) and I was pumped. So I kept pushing.


Now, as I said, this was NOT the plan. Which means that I ran 5k in skinny jeans and ballet flats. On an empty stomach. After having french fries for dinner the night before. And no training. Ever. My time was 33:20.

I realize this was very, very stupid. But IT FELT SO GOOD.

Well, mostly. It also felt like my shoulder was covered in my own spit as I tried to dispose of excess mucus while still running, and like nap time could be awesome right now. And like running on sand is a whole new level of horrible.

But it also felt like I was a fucking god. People cheered me on. I passed other runners. Someone complimented my hair. A child handed me water. When I would let myself have a walking break I was back into a jog in a minute. Because I was fucking PUMPED.

There is no way in hell I could have built up to this. I had to just be in the moment and make it happen. I’m either all in or not involved. There couldn’t have been a little light jogging and then a long walk. Go big or go home, that’s how I have to do everything. And if my body was in the mode to run with it (heh), well, I was happy to oblige.

Surprisingly, I don’t want to die today. I whimper a little when I stand up, but it’s gotten better throughout the day.

And obviously, I immediately bought running shoes.

Let’s get it on.

Monday, April 18, 2011

oh god new best smoothie ever

1 banana
handful of chopped walnuts
glob of kefir
half cup? of blueberries? I just throw stuff in until it feels right
2 ice cubes


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Going veg again

For a little while. I really don't eat much meat... I don't remember the last time. But I've been eating all these beautiful and creative vegetable based dishes, and they have me wanting to be veg and be proud again. And thus, I give you...

The Most Beautiful Salad

1 bag Spring Mix salad mix
Half pound kale
One can mandarin oranges
Quarter of a red onion
4 beets, with greens
3 teaspoons flax seeds
2 ounces goat cheese (unless Vegan)
Sprinkle of chopped walnuts
Great big bowl - I had to use a soup pot

Wash and peel beets. Individually wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes - until you can easily put a fork in them and remove it again
Remove leaves from the stems of the kale. Remove leaves from beet stems, tearing into smaller pieces. Toss with spring mix.
Chop onion into long slices and toss in.
Slice beets thinly, combining with salad. Add mandarin oranges and flax seeds.
Crumble goat cheese (if you please) over the top of the salad. Sprinkle in walnuts. Toss with two large spoons.

Great on its own, but I have an excellent lemon dressing that brings it all out. "Lemon Goddess" by Drew's. I got it at Hannaford. Whole Foods has a great lemon parsley dressing at their salad bar.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's almost comical now.

This past weekend.
- I read 5 chapters of Research Methods in Social Work, and really, why even live
- I took an online exam from hell
- I wrote an entire paper in one shot
- I researched for two papers
- I planned for a group presentation

Today, I discovered the class that I did an exam for over the weekend also has another exam. This coming weekend.

Sometimes, things are just so awful they don't even bother you. So let's look at my coming weekend.
- More reading than I care to fathom (or probably do)
- Take another online exam, also from hell
- Make a cake for my grandmother and buy her a birthday present
- Spend Sunday afternoon/evening at said birthday party
- Finish writing those two papers

And next semester, it gets so much worse. I'll have three classes instead of two, plus my full time job, plus my internship 16 hours a week. 8 hours of which must be during the same hours I work. Mondays will be 14 hours long.

Remind again why I'm doing this?

Accordingly, the smoothie of the night:

half a banana
2 scoops thin mint ice cream
half bar german milk chocolate
big splash rice milk
splash whipped cream vodka
2 ice cubes


hate grad school so much less.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Continued adventures with a blender

Vegans love kale. Scientific fact. My 3 Vegan friends never stop talking about kale. I'm not even sure what the hell it is. But I do know two things:

1) I've had a smoothie at Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe that they snuck kale into and it didn't kill me.
2) Kale is 99 cents a pound at Shaw's right now.

Naturally, it was kale smoothie time.

2 big kale leaves (reasonable people would add much more, and I will next time)
glob of applesauce (told you, I don't measure anything)
couple of small pineapple chunks
handful of mango chunks
1 banana
3 ice cubes
teaspoon flax seeds, since why not make it as weird as possible

Combine. Revel in how surprisingly not terrible it is.

I always make myself so happy when I eat a vegetable.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Heart wants me to create.
Body wants me to move.
Brain wants me to work.
Mind doesn't want me to do a goddamn thing.

Things are hard right now. Too many changes all at once. Despite my assertion that I'd be ok, that's a lot to ask with the sheer amount I have to do right now. The school assignment list is daunting enough on its own. Of course, when there's that much to do, nothing happens. I know what I need to do. And I know what I'd like to do. But lately, there's too much of a disconnect between that and what really happens.

Which scares me.

It'll come together. It always does. It's just hard as hell being stuck in this cycle until it does.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

An unhealthy obsession with a blender

Sometime last fall, I stayed over at a friend's house, and when I got up, he was making smoothies. All he had to do was just throw together a bunch of frozen fruit from Trader Joe's and soy milk. And it was amazing. My God, even I could manage this! If I had a blender. Which I do. At my grandmother's house. This fluttered in and out of my head all winter, but I found out it was in her shed which was totally blocked by ice. Then March came and it had been nice for a while so I figured I was safe. I bought a bunch of frozen fruit and yogurt and was ready for action.

The shed, however, was not.

So now I have all this stuff, and all this momentum, and no blender. I did consider that I have an electric mixer for my baking, and there's a slight chance that might work, but that's not really a 7:30 am kind of experiment. So naturally, I immediately ceded defeat and bought a blender, as patience is not my virtue (don't let the knitting fool you).

And then, it was ON.

I've been making morning smoothies every day, always trying new combinations of things. Thought I'd share some recipes here. Unless otherwise mentioned, everything comes from Trader Joe's. You could probably buy these things elsewhere if you're not a disciple of Joe like me. This has also lead to me having a constant supply of bananas in the house, and doing things like going to Trader Joe's at 9:30 pm in flannel PJ bottoms with cupcakes on them, because THERE IS A STORM COMING AND I ONLY HAVE ONE BANANA.

The Elvis Smoothie

1 banana
2 spoonfuls raw honey (it will never die)
3-4 spoonfuls of whatever peanut butter you have - mine is chunky
1 teaspoon flax seeds if you're into that sort of thing
Couple of spoonfuls of yogurt/kefir/something along that line to thicken, or a splash of non-dairy milk & handful of ice cubes if you're Vegan

Blend all of the above, put on blue suede shoes. Note - it doesn't really matter if you're already using chunky peanut butter, but if you're using creamy and don't want random chunks of stuff in your smoothie, you could use flax seed meal or oil instead of the seeds, as there is no way in hell you're going to blend those down to invisibility.

The Standard

1 banana
Handful of frozen strawberries - I have small hands so around 4
Generous amount of rice milk, soy milk, real milk, or yogurt - whatever you have. Note that the differing thicknesses of these will alter the consistency of your smoothie.

Basic strawberry banana smoothie. You can add any number of things to make it more interesting. I like to throw in raspberries to make it a little tarter, and make it a little more berry than banana.

Tropical Smoothie

1 banana
Big handful of pineapple chunks
Handful of mango chunks
2-3 slices of orange (or you can use a splash of orange juice if that's what you have)

The nice thing about mango chunks is that they blend so nicely into such a nice smooth texture that you don't have to use any additional thickeners like yogurt. If you like your smoothies to be easy to get through a straw, though, you might want to water it down a little with some rice milk/skim milk.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Banana Smoothie

1 medium banana
3 spoonfuls chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon flax seeds (very optional)
Half bar of chocolate
Splash of dairy-like beverage - I use rice milk
Few squirts of chocolate syrup if not chocolately enough
4 ice cubes

I use the flax seeds because, well, someone I like suggested them, and I already feel smug about eating stuff with all natural ingredients (ignore the chocolate syrup) so I might as well level up the health benefit with something that doesn't add much flavor, though it's kind of fun to eat the little seeds. For chocolate, I used half a bar of German milk chocolate that I had on hand, when a friend gave me a bunch of them a while back. I found this wasn't enough chocolate flavor, so I added few squirts of some chocolate syrup I bought at Wal*Mart (I'm sorry) a while back for mudslides. This helped greatly. I'm sure this would be just as good, possibly better depending on how smooth you like your smoothies, with creamy peanut butter - this is just what I had on hand.

I've made a million more different combinations, but these are the ones distinct enough to remember. I really approach ingredients like Rachel Ray - just throw stuff in until it tastes right - so I don't know about exact numbers. As always with food, adjust to taste and preference.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


My last post was about taking meditation time, looking at the moon, reassuring myself about the coming changes in my life. Some are good, some are bittersweet, some are wonderful, some are terrifying. But all are happening and all are important.

I won't go into the ones that need not be on the internet, but I've made it clear that my job at a homeless shelter was extremely important to me. Note the use of past tense. I've had an opportunity to take a full time job with a new agency. Having a full time job that won't disappear after 4 months due to grant funding is huge, and a massive step for me. It's also one if those things that's too good to pass up, even if that means incurring losses.

I grieved my job at the shelter, grieved the friends I'd made there on staff, grieved the relationships I'd built with clients who I no longer have the time to check in on. This has been my world, my self-definition for the last year. And now everything is different.

The first two weeks have been sort of a terrifying learning experience. Week one was orientation, which I suppose I got something out of, like long drives in the snow, which can be nice if you're not trying to get to an unknown place on time. This week has been the real thing. Or at least, shadowing the real thing. It's been a variety of things to watch, some useful, some perplexing.

As with all things, this transition will work out for the best. I'll get the hang of the job. It's just exacerbated by everything else going on with school, family, relationships. I'm at a point with school where the assignments have piled up and I so don't care, much like happened last time I started a job. And because research methods is a horrible class. Which I am currently sitting in.

All things for a reason, and a plan for everything. Always my mantra, no matter the transition.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Tonight, a friend texted me about how the moon was amazing. After another friend and I lamented missing the "super moon," I figured I better go see while I still had a chance. I wandered all over, somehow being unable to find a giant moon, which resides in the sky. I ended up at a giant grassy hill that overlooks the water, sort of my happy place for the last year. I looked at the moon and the stars, and I contemplated life's transitions. I thought about a lot of the things that change for me this week, and how it'll all be okay. About how peaceful this all is, and how it's ok to just be idle, no book, no phone, no knitting. Trying to stop my mind from racing, always racing, is hard. And why I don't sleep so well. But maybe I'm on my way there.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A rundown of Jenna's day

7:15 am: Wake up, contemplate death, meeting for job #6 in Augusta.
7:45 am: Get to work, work on the desk from 8-10, then do the mail from 10-11:15.
11:15 am: Get gas, after one failed attempt when I can't get to the pumps on the same side as my gas tank. Go to library, pick up Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs. Attempt to make phone calls to figure out where this meeting is, fail.
11:45 am: Back to work to supervise lunch. Eat cheesecake.
1 pm: Bail as fast as possible to car. Plug in GPS, having used phone's mobile internet to figure out where I'm going. THROW THE HAMMER DOWN.
1:15 pm: "Drive 52 miles on I-295 North."
2 pm: Is that the State House? Do I have time to slap Paul LePage?
2:01 pm: Oh dear God I have no idea what I'm even looking for here
2:05 pm: Oh, hi, giant sign with the name of my employer.
2:15 pm: Begin meeting.
3:30 pm: Finish meeting. Feel hungry. Decide to look for some nice local place.
3:40 pm: Eat at Burger King.
4:15 pm: Back on the road. Become consumed with finding a Wal-Mart to buy a blender. Ignore fact that there is $125 in Wal-Mart gift cards in my apartment.
5 pm: Pull off random exit looking for Brunswick Wal-Mart. Am actually in Topsham. See sign for Target. Rejoice.
5:15 pm: Locate blender for $17.99. Declare victory.
5:40 pm: Back on road. Decide to go to Freeport to go to LL Bean to try on hiking boots for no apparent reason.
6:00 pm: Somehow succeed in totally driving past all 5 exits for Freeport. Get off interstate in Yarmouth, backtrack via Route 1.
6:10 pm: Try on many pairs of hiking boots of various heights. Am slightly unsure how these are any better than my clunky black shoes from Payless. Decide I like the higher cut better because they look more like hiking boots and thus I can lie to myself that I need them.
6:30 pm: Attempt to leave, somehow run into two different past-coworkers from two different former jobs.
6:45 pm: Back on road again. Still not planning on going home. Go to school to go to gym.
7:00 pm: Go to gym, work out while reading book. Feel so intellectual.
8:15 pm: Change clothes, go home.
8:30 pm: Put away yesterday's laundry, wash some of yesterday's dishes. Make smoothie. Fail at getting the balance of ice right. Do not spill all over self and kitchen. Therefore, victory.
9:00 pm: I should probably work on that paper.
9:15 pm: Add two sentences and a cover page. Decide any further editing will rip my soul in half.
9:16 pm: Begin endless blog entry, try to remember exact minutes of entire day.
9:35 pm: Write this sentence. Remember have endless job application to fill out.
9:57 pm: Finish application. Remember rest of smoothie on counter 10 feet away. Contemplate how little I want to get up to put it in the fridge. Back to Facebook.
10:18 pm: Seriously. Get the smoothie in the fridge.
10:23 pm: Sleep for the next... not enough... hours.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Push it to the limit, give it more

I've had this bug up my ass about wanting to go the gym for a while. See, I live in Portland, Maine, where everyone rides bikes and swims and runs and my body slowly decays. Honestly, my grandmother, who's been smoking for 60 years and has cancer (more on that later) and I probably have similar lung capacity. But I'm skinny, so you wouldn't know.

Every once in a while, usually when my pants don't fit, I get gung ho about the gym. But if I have to pay for it, fuck it. Of course, I've been a graduate student since September, and it finally occurred to me that implies I could probably get into a gym for free. But whatever, I don't like to sweat.

But then there's that cancer thing.

Something about the fact that my grandmother has a tumor has made me do a lot of re-evaluating of my own life. Like that makes me so unique or something. I feel like I have a lot of energy - as noted by the thirty seven jobs - and I often feel like I could really be pumping it for all it's worth and really pushing my body. So I walk to work when it's nice. I realize this is bullshit. But when I used to try to run, I'd make it about 10 feet and feel like my lungs were about to explode. I can walk for hours. But fuck running.

But everyone runs.

And goddamnit, if there's one thing I've always wanted to be, it's marginally normal.

And then of course, someone had to ask me WHY it is I don't go to the gym. And that little question stays inside you and eats you and makes you think and makes you contemplate ridiculous things like "I couldn't run from a rapist" until you can't take it anymore and DO SOMETHING. So I packed up my sneakers and my stupid windpants and my big Electric Six shirt and went to the fucking gym.

I spent about half the time I was there texting a friend about how much I hated it. But I was texting while treadmilling, so, I've got that going for me. I'm not like other girls that go to the gym. I do not want to be seen. I want to be invisible. When I saw all the guys lifting weights, I wanted to sink into the floor, lest anyone see me power-walking on the treadmill or using the bike at zero resistance. I do not wear short shorts. I do not wear spandex. The large yellow shirt with a cobra on it may be pushing it, but at least you can't see my figure. I wear the giant windpants I've had since high school gym, when I also wanted to disappear in shame. And not shave my legs for class.

I hated this so fucking much. My pants are too big and I was terrified of tripping on them. And then, against all reasonable judgment, I got on the godforsaken treadmill. And it wasn't too bad. No incline or anything, but when I turned it up to power-walk speed, I felt like I could go faster. And I actually found myself jogging. At a respectable speed. And this was after I found 5 pound weights too light and moved up to the 7.5s. Suddenly, I had confidence.

So I came back the next day.

And then the next.

And suddenly, I loved this. I could feel it. I could feel my body being able to be pushed more. I could see that I could move a little faster up the stairs at work. I could sustain a harder pace longer on the machines. I felt okay around other people. I texted a friend about the quality of the "mancandy" here. I found myself dancing on the elliptical as I worked it. Because I'm sophisticated, I was listening to Usher and Willow Smith and actually whipping my hair back and forth. I... actually like the gym.

I sicken myself.

I took the next day off, since I didn't want to be sweaty for my evening plans, and I took Friday off because those evening plans involved puking at 7 am. But Saturday, after I baked a cake (so clearly, weight loss is not the goal here), I went back. And I ran 10 minutes at my fastest pace ever. And I lifted more weight on some machines. And I had a great time. No time to go today, but I'm sure I'll be back Monday. I even bought decent workout pants on Friday so I could feel a little more confident and a little less at risk of imminent harm.

The most important part of the gym is the iPod playlist, of course. So here's some of songs that always get me going.

1. Willow Smith - Whip My Hair
I don't care how shameful this is. I love this kid, I wish her nothing but the best, I admire her positivity and confidence and style, I love that this isn't about getting validation from a boy. And it gets my confidence way up. Even if I did just cut my hair and can no longer whip it back and forth.

2. Electric Six - Jam It In The Hole
Anything by Electric Six is good for the gym - upbeat, fast tempo, and easy to keep pushing yourself with.

3. OKGO - You're So Damn Hot
After all, when I'm doing cardio, I'm so damn hot. In order to be so damn hot.

4. Usher - More
I like any song that I can generalize to what I'm doing, as every moment I spend on the repetition of exercise, I'm pushing it to the limit and trying to do more. Plus, it's just so uplifting.

5. Scissor Sisters - I Don't Feel Like Dancing
Most any Scissor Sisters song is good - anything that just keeps me rocking keeps me from saying "oh god, it's only been two minutes?"

6. Jay-Z - Dirt Off Your Shoulder
When I get full of myself for actually going to the gym, well, I am the motherfuckin' greatest.

7. Cee Lo Green - Fuck You
One song I can't help but sing along with... while wearing headphones. Ain't that some shit.

So, if we've learned anything here, it's that I really, really like pop music. Oh, the shame, it burns my hipster soul.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

It hasn't gotten any better.

I have a job interview Tuesday.

I started a job yesterday.

I still have strong potential to be interviewed somewhere else as soon as the interviewer is back from medical leave.

I've already worked at five other places this year.

This is not how normal people live.

To be fair, with the exception of the forthcoming interviews, all of these gigs are per diem. As much as I'd like hours at some of them, they just don't exist. Or one schedules a month in advance and another schedules 3 days in advance. I might rather work at the 3 days place, but I can't risk not getting called and losing hours I could have gotten at the 4 weeks place. So what the hell choice do I have but to keep increasing my ability to get some work? There's only one solution, and that solution is a job with a SCHEDULE. For four blessed months of my life, at the best job I ever had, I had a schedule. I changed it up once in a while if I didn't have classes or had to come in or leave early for whatever reason, but in general, I knew what days and what hours I would be working. Because I'm an asshole, I also worked more hours everywhere else on top of it, and those fluctuated, so my free time didn't hold to any schedule, but at least most of my work week could be predicted with accuracy.

And of course, not having a job with a schedule means your employers don't have to give you benefits. I have not had health insurance since May of 2009. It is March of 2011.

Everything is wrong with that sentiment, but that's a rant for another time.

And then of course there's the fact that while I've had jobs with schedules, none of them have been permanent. I was a long term sub when I was teaching and I was grant funded when I was at the shelter. I can assume I'll always be able to get a few hours at least at the day shelter, but there's no guarantee of getting enough to live on.

In lieu of all this, it gets easier to see why I hoard jobs and why right after I got contacted for an interview today, I went back to to see what else was out there. I haven't felt safe for a long, long time. If I could just land a regular, full-time job, or even a regular part-time job, just to have some sense of permanency in my life, I'd finally breathe a little easier.

So I still have a work addiction. But under these circumstances, wouldn't you?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Be gentle, it's my first time

When I do something, I do it hardcore.

I got it in my head that I was going to finally do my first blood donation in honor of someone that might have cancer and finds out next week. When a close friend heard us, he got us scheduled right away for a drive today. Ahh shit.

I was scared and against this for a while, even though I only had a week of warning. So I started prepping right away. I started drinking more water. I researched iron-rich foods like it was my motherfucking JOB. I decided to take a few days off from being vegetarian and learn to cook a steak. I ate half a pound of raisins in a day. Which mostly made me fart a lot. I ate a shitload of almonds and drank buckets of water. I ate so much red meat in the last 48 hours. See, the problem is, this ended up being period week (hello, internet). I've never been diagnosed as anemic during that time, but I wasn't about to take the chance. So I started an "Iron Woman" campaign to get my hemoglobin rockin'.

The appointment was at 1:45 today. I worked all morning until 1, and then Paul took me out so he could support me through my first donation. I did feel much safer having him there. I brought a million things to distract me, as if there was some way in hell I could knit a scarf during this. So we got out to the movie theater it was being held at, and oh shit, it was on.

My time came, and I was pumped. I got to answer all these weird questions about my history with drugs, people that use drugs, time spent as a prostitute, if I’ve ever had diseases I’ve never heard of (obeiosis? The fuck is that?), or if I’ve ever slept with someone from Africa. I passed, surprisingly. Then came the finger prick. Which was totally the worst part. Couldn’t look. So now I wait and see if my iron-loading was successful.

2 full points over the cutoff. I fucking win.

Of course, then it sets in, I’m really doing this.

The nice, fairly attractive young guy who did my preliminary stuff gets me set up for my donation. I was turned away when he was drawing the dot on my arm, because I’m an idiot and thought that was the needle. I was also a little concerned by the massive swath of skin he disinfected, wondering how much of a target he needed (I know, gotta make sure nothing can get in). So he warned me not to look while he put the needle in, and before I knew it, it was in!

I did so great. I played checkers on my phone the whole time. Then he said I was already halfway there, and of course, that’s when I started getting lightheaded. But he just put my feet up a little and I came right back. I was NOT going to pass out. And before long, I was done! I think maybe 7 minutes, max. Paul was taking pics of me and sending them to me the whole time. I was listening to all the nurses tease each other. I had to sit for a little while, and then I was approved to go sit in the cookie and juice section. I was feeling a little hot and blurry, so I just held the cold can until I felt better, and then I was great, scarfed down two cans of juice and some Oreos, and played Bejeweled on my phone to kill time. I felt great! Not tired, not dizzy, great!

I took myself out to a huge late lunch to celebrate, as the best way to up one's fluids is with a milkshake full of chocolate cake and cherries. I'm so proud of myself. I'm going to do it as soon as I can again.

For anyone interested, I’ve linked pics of the experience. Fair warning, I do look dead in one pic because I have no makeup on, it was the end of the donation, and I was still coming back from the lightheadedness. But I wanted to get a pic of the bag of blood, because I’m a grim bitch, so Paul snuck it for me. Thought anyone who’s thinking about their first donation might be interested in seeing some of the process.

Me in the chair - no blood content
My arm with the tube taking the last of the donation - blood content
At the very end - bag of blood and corpsey looking jenna content

Monday, January 10, 2011

Who the hell gets a cold without leaving the house?

But you know what's good for a cold?

Raw honey.

I think I've been set up.

I started sneezing and having a really stuffy nose last night while a friend was over. I thought it was a pretty inconvenient time for my perpetual sniffles to come on. And then today it's definitely a cold. HONESTLY. Two days back in the shelter and my immune system freaks out. So I did nothing today, although to be fair I would have done nothing either way, and watched the mound of tissues on the floor slowly build up. My tea cup now permanently tastes of the honey that I keep adding to it. Which I've been eating straight out of the jar and enjoying its waxy goodness. Of course, with the shape of that bottle and the fact that it's completely solid, it's sort of impossible to use. I couldn't spread it on my toast, so I had to put chunks of it all over the bread and then microwave it into submission. Perhaps then making it into regular honey. Still good, though. I suppose eating honey straight out of the jar as a snack means I'm turning into Pooh Bear. I'm okay with that.

I get to work at Frannie Peabody again on Wednesday. Then I paid-work at the restaurant. I get to go out to Indian food on Thursday. Maybe Friday I'll get to knit with friends, although it looks like I could be used at the shelter for my first full overnight. That might be nice - I like the two regular staff that are on Friday overnights. I'm planning a cupcake party for the 22nd, with a pre-party for 2 friends that want to bake with me. Things are going very nicely for me. So I earn a lot less money for a month. It's time to just be happy for a while instead.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

What in the sweet hell am I going to do with a pound of honey?

I can be talked into anything (hello, fellas). As my friend Kate once described her shopping habits, "is that a sparkly bag of NOTHING? $50? I'll take 2!" This is the real reason I don't go shopping. It's not that I just don't feel a need. It's that I know I'll just buy a sparkly bag of nothing.

And is there anything more awesome than grocery shopping? I live alone, and I'm rarely home, but I have the kitchen of a professional chef trying to feed the Duggars. I will grocery shop like there's an apocalypse coming and I'm the only one that knows, so I better buy all the food now. Realizing this, I try to at least hold back on the fresh vegetables I'll probably never eat. I also have food rules, like "nothing goes in the crisper." The crisper drawer, while seemingly a good idea, is where food goes to die in my house. If I can't see it, I have no recollection that it was ever there. And that is when I learn science lessons like "lettuce, left to its own devices, can become a liquid."

I spent Summer and Fall working across the street from a farmer's market. Every Wednesday, I can go buy BERRIES! Oh, and you know what, why don't I get some lettuce. Maybe I'll try this squash. Oh, pears. Wow, you can grow hot peppers here? I should get some. Oh shit, they have the farmer's market on Monday now, too? And there's ANOTHER one down the street on Saturdays?!

So when I discovered the "winter farmer's market" was about to be starting, I knew I was fucked.

I debated dragging myself out of bed for this on Saturday, as 1), I am astoundingly lazy, and 2), I knew exactly how this was going to go down. But having not showered or changed my clothes in 3 days, I thought it might be nice to get out of the house. I still didn't shower or change my clothes, but at least we both got a chance to air out a bit.

The farmer's market had a lot of gourds and squash, mostly, and while that was tempting, I had to remind myself, I am never going to learn how to cook that. There was also a table with big jars of Dilly Beans for $5, so that was a given that they were coming home with me, but they also had a lot of honey. Some of it looked like honey. And some of it looked like a giant jar of beeswax. Hooray, wax! Because my life is a 4th grade field trip, I asked about why some honey looked different. Apparently that was "raw" honey. What the hell is raw honey, you ask? So did I. That's honey that's unpasteurized (that already sounds appealing and not dangerous) and unfiltered, so it looks thick because of the chunks of beeswax still in it.

Well sign me right up!

As I'm going back to my car, I'm excited, since I have dilly beans for the first time in a long time, and they come in a mason jar, so I can FINALLY join the hipster scene here and drink out of a mason jar. I still don't understand why the hell that's any better than a travel mug, but apparently I'm just so bourgeois with my cup that doesn't splash hot liquid all over me. And the honey comes in a pretty neat bottle too, and I have a friend whose wife melts bottles in her kiln (it looks awesome) so I bet she'd love it.

Of course, I still haven't solved the problem of what to do with a pound of unpasteurized beeswax. Apparently this is better for you, as all gross-looking things are. So, I'm going to chronicle what I've managed to do with this stuff, so watch for the tag "raw honey." I don't even really like honey, but, as stated, I will buy anything. Today's experiment was on French Toast. And it was fucking awesome. So, honey. I think this might work out just fine.

Other ideas:
  • I used to make this sandwich in college I saw on TV once, called "The Flying Elvis." Peanut butter, banana, and honey, warmed up and pressed flat in a panini grill. There's an alternate version where you spread peanut butter inside a hot dog bun, plop a banana in the bun, and drizzle honey over it, but you look like an idiot eating it.
  • I bought a new cupcake book, and want to make everything in it. Honey might make a good topper.
  • I realize honey can be used as a sweetener in baking. But I want to take this a little more hardcore first.
I should stop going to the farmer's market on an empty stomach.

Friday, January 07, 2011

It Hungers!

Let me begin this story with some scene-setting. I am 5'2", 117 pounds. I am not someone that you look at and think, I bet she can pack away the food. Today, however, I was Takeru Kobayashi.

We're pretty much the same person.

So, I'm not working at all this week. I've had the opportunity to do so, but I just said fuck it and decided to call my life "vacation" instead. Which means every day I hang out with friends and either go out to lunch or dinner. I've managed to spend more when I'm not working than when I am. I also had some grand plans for the week (visiting friends out of state, power levelling on WoW, finishing the godforsaken curtains) that never came to fruition, as I chose instead to be incapable of getting out of bed, reading there for a while, falling back asleep, and eventually getting up when I was too hungry or had to go to the bathroom too much to ignore. Then, it's time to move to the couch. For 6 hours. Where I experience such wonders as staring at Facebook, watching Intervention on Netflix, knitting and then frogging a sweater sleeve, and texting furiously to plan human interaction. Strangely, this has been amazingly satisfying. The sheer fact that I can do something before 9:30 pm, or have 15 minutes to walk to the bank (not that I actually did) is an amazing and liberating change.

Last night, while watching Big Fan on Netflix, I became consumed with needing Chinese food. I wasn't actually hungry, though, and it was like 8:30 pm. I opted to table the desire. But soon, it would be on.

I have to work 6-11 tonight, so getting people together for dinner was out. I could try for tomorrow. But fuck it. I want food now. So I walked up to Pom's Thai Taste, which is not Chinese food, but whatever.

It's always slightly nerve-inducing to eat alone at a restaurant, but it's more annoying to try to coerce a friend into finding a mutually agreeable time to go out to eat, coordinate where and when and how to get there, make conversation, and then go through the "oh, I only brought a card and you only brought a $50 bill" check splitting nonsense, when you just want to eat. And eat I did.

The first order of business was seaweed salad. Anytime I'm at any sort of vaguely Japanese restaurant, I must eat a seaweed salad. It's such a given that I don't really factor it into the final total or the amount of food I'll eat. I'm here, I'm eating a seaweed salad, these are the facts. Of course, there's also nothing more terrifying than an Asian restaurant menu, particularly if they have a sushi bar, because there are FOUR HUNDRED THINGS on the menu. And you don't want to stick to your comfort zone, what with the four hundred things and all, but you also need a week and a half to read through it all. And because I am the personification of an anxiety disorder, I can't make decisions. If someone suggests a restaurant I haven't been to, I have to sneakily get online and look for their menu. I don't even know why. I just have to. So at least the seaweed salad is a given. Now I just need to form a meal.

Okay. Sushi restaurant. I need sushi. Spicy crunchy tuna is always a given. But there's so much sushi here. I need to expand. I could try this. Or that. Or this. There's all these noodle dishes, too. And appetizers. I could skip the sushi. But I really want sushi. But 6 pieces of sushi and a seaweed salad isn't much of a lunch.

I know.

Seaweed salad.
"Godzilla roll," which, disappointingly, did not contain Godzilla.
Sesame noodle dish, with chicken and "shrimps."

In the words of Jay-Z, you are now tuned into the motherfuckin' greatest.

The waiter comes to take my order. I tell him I'll start with a seaweed salad, which at this point, Portland Asian restaurants should just start readying when they see me. And then I tell him I'll have the Godzilla roll. At which point he says very good and takes my menu away.


I wasn't done.

I start to wonder... perhaps this is enough food. This is lunchtime, after all. When normal people eat less. And I'm not dying of starvation. But I came here to gorge. And gorge I shall.

I caught the waiter's attention when he came around again and asked him for the sesame noodle. For here? Yes, for here. Because I'm about to go all Man Vs. Food on this place.

Usually, when you order a seaweed salad, it's the size of a coaster, just enough to get you started, not enough to be a legitimate appetizer on its own. Instead, I received a bucket of seaweed. This was when I began to suspect I may be in over my head. The waiter again asks if I want the noodles for here. In for a penny, in for a pound. Hell yes, for here.

My bucket of seaweed was excellent, and as an added bonus, very confusing to the old women sitting near me. "WHAT are you eating?" The ocean, bitches.

The Godzilla roll arrived soon after. And this is when I realized why my menu was taken away. All the sushi I've eaten lately is from grocery stores and each roll is the size of a quarter. Of course I can put away 6 of those in a minute. Any asshole can. But restaurant sushi is different. According to Pom's menu, the Godzilla roll is "White fish, and yellow tail roll (Seaweed outside), lightly Tempura style. Topped with crab stick salad and hot sauce." They don't mention the tiny orange balls. And that is for a reason. But the sushi is delicious. Oh holy crap. I chose wisely. But between all this sushi and seaweed, I could probably be comfortable and good. But there is still sesame noodle. YES FOR HERE. Bring it the fuck on.

At this point, my table is covered in plates and tiny dishes and sauces, to the point that there's no way I'm going to fit ROUND THREE on the table. I manage to condense down to one plate, only slightly covering myself in a variety of things from the ocean. I goddamn inhale the sushi. And I get to thinking. Tiny unidentified orange balls on top of my raw fish in an Asian restaurant. I am eating fish eggs. Strangely, this does not bother me, it merely enhances the experience. Hell yeah, I'm eating a fish egg. Why the hell not.

Sesame Noodle arrives. At this point, the staff is coming by to make bizarre comments like "you skip breakfast!" It is at this point that I begin to realize... I have terrified this restaurant with my gargantuan hunger. For I am a beast, a beast that demands the ocean be drained to satiate my mighty, mighty appetite. Yes, I could have stopped before this. But I demand to see things through to completion. And I shall complete this meal.

A woman arrives with a paper bag and a take out box. "I know you need this." Oh hell lady. Now it's a challenge. Now I have to eat all this, because I'm one of those assholes that when they're told they can't do something, must. And then I think about it rationally. I could stop. I could bring this to work tonight. I could have a nice dinner. There's a box already here for me. But oh my God, it's such a tiny box. How will I ever fit all these noodles in it? What the hell am I supposed to do with such a tiny box? And why would I crap out with such a tiny little amount of food left? Now the pressure's on. This tiny box is just here as a taunt.

I finally brought this afternoon to its inevitable conclusion and opted for "only a moderate amount of pain and a nice dinner" instead of "unspeakable pain to prove a point and leftover soup from 2 days ago for dinner." I left a $7 tip on a $25 check because of the terror I wrought upon the kitchen. She is but one tiny girl... but wants food for three people?! Alert the authorities; there is a monster afoot.

In the words of Ice Cube, today was a good day.