Keeping Up Appearances

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This morning I was running late for my rheumatologist appointment. So I had to make a decision almost no woman wants to make: hair or makeup?” Ultimately, I chose makeup since my face is breaking out like I rubbed my face with deep fried, chocolate covered Doritos. I rejoiced in it being cool enough outside that I could wear jeans. I chose a loose peasant top that would disguise my “I had two babies and it wrecked my body” belly and the “Lyrica made me gain 20 pounds” back fat. I had already done my check to make sure the sight of my feet/pedicure wouldn’t cause people’s faces to melt off like Toht’s. I was reasonably presentable.

For as long as I can remember, what I looked like and what people thought of me was important. My mom and I constantly fought over my clothes and appearance upon leaving the house. You can’t wear spandex; you’re too big for it. You really shouldn’t wear chokers; your neck’s too short. Your hair looks like broom straw/greasy mess.
On top of that, I live in the DC/Metro area. Appearance matters. Period. Which neighborhood do you live in? Where did you go to school? Where do you work? Where do you vacation? Which shade of beige is your minivan? (Note to self: Shades of Beige = AWESOME fanfic idea. Must get on that shit!) Oh my gosh, I loooove your Coach purse. Only $400? What a bargain! The cult of personality also lives here. Introverts need not apply.

You can imagine how all of this might make someone who already has anxiety issues not want to go places. I can’t go to the mall. What if people….notice me? All of these neuroses became supersized once I became a stay at home mom. All of a sudden, I was thrust into a solitary world where all my friends either worked or didn’t live close by. I needed some new comrades, ladies who understood my plight and could provide some much needed companionship for both my children and me. I needed some kindred spirits.
So I compartmentalized. I became what I felt like I needed to be in order to get along with people, to be accepted. I tried to stay positive at all times, (which is especially awesome while battling depression and the chronic fatigue of undiagnosed fibromyalgia.) I tried to engage in socially appropriate small talk, (which, as we all know, socially awkward introverts are extremely good at.) I tried not to say anything shocking or offensive, like fuck. (Conversation tip: mentioning how awful it is that they’re going to air commercials with images of aborted fetuses during the Super Bowl is an effective method for abruptly ending a conversation.) You should have heard the silence in my Christian aerobics class when I mentioned that I wasn’t sure that I believed in God. I’m pretty sure I saw some take a step back as their eyes widened at the admission, and I, once again, wrapped myself in the familiar Snuggie of social awkwardness. (Oooo, another great idea! Hot damn, I’m on fire today!)

The thing that I’m finally starting to realize is that compartmentalizing requires walls, and keeping those walls up is exhausting. I need to allow myself to be myself…fully. I need to revel in last night’s Elder Sign victory AND get the cutest blouse ever at Loft. I need to feel free to say that something can suck my left tit when it pisses me off AND own the fact that I like planning and throwing successful parties which allow me to tap into my creative side. I need to be okay with joining the PTA AND saying fuck more.

Maybe I shouldn’t say fuck AT the PTA meetings.

Purple potatoes are delicious AND alliterative

I first saw purple potatoes on Chopped on the Food Network. Since then, I’ve been wanting to make them because….they’re purple potatoes. Over the weekend I spotted a bag of mixed purple, new, and Yukon potatoes at Costco and snatched them up.

I gotta say, I did squeal a little when I sliced the first purple potato open. I got all Sally Field on it: It’s purple! It’s really purple!

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Since they cook up just like any other potato, I decided to roast them all together in the oven. Don’t they look like little jewels?

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I coated them in some vegetable oil, (you can use other oils, like olive oil. I’ve found vegetable oil yields the best texture with potatoes, especially if you want some crispiness. Soggy, oily potatoes are just gross,) season them well with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. 425 degree oven for 40-45 minutes and you have delicious and pretty potatoes.

Avocados are tricky bastards

It would seem that Mike is not content to let it rest until everyone in the known universe knows that I sliced my finger off while making the guacamole last night. A blood bath ensued, I was rushed to the hospital where doctors tried desperately to save my finger, and the surgeon screamed, Don’t quit on me now, you bastard! no less than three times after I passed out. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to save my finger. We had a private memorial service this morning with pictures of my finger through the years set to Green Day’s Time of Your Life.. We finished the service with a funeral pyre and bagpipers playing Amazing Grace. It was beautiful.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Mike is holding it over my head that I cut my finger pretty badly while slicing the avocado for my guacamole last night, though. But seriously, it’s not my fault! You know how you’ll be drinking something and everything is just fine, but the ice has melted together and it suddenly rushes toward you and now you’re like the coach who won the Super Bowl? It was like that…but with avocado. And it’s not like I get injured ALL the time. That’s the worst injury I’ve had since slicing off the tip of my thumb with a mandoline in January.

……..seriously, it’s not my fault!

Anything you can do, I can do….maybe?

I used to HATE to cook. It was just stressful and time consuming and confusing and whywon’tthisgravycometogetherGAH!
But after I started staying home a couple years ago, I found I had a little extra time on my hands. (Funny how no longer working 8-5 will do that for you.) I also found that one of the few things I could watch with Rachael in the room that didn’t involve Mickey Mouse counting out coins to give to Pete to get into Mickey Park, (seriously? It’s HIS fucking park. It says “Mickey”! I can’t wait for the episode where the gang flips their shit on Pete and cuts him,) or reruns of How I Met Your Mother was Food Network. So I watched and learned. I watched Chopped and learned what different ingredients were, their flavors, and how to improvise with them. (I’m sorry, but you will never get me to try geoduck. It is the penis of the clam world. Just….no.) I watched Anne Burrell and learned tricks of the trade and technique. I watched Giada and learned the reasons why you do what you do, and that if you don’t pronounce it spa-geet-e, you are an uncultured swine. I watched Ina and learned that you too can cook French-inspired cuisine and be super awkward around all your gay friends.

The point is, I realized that once I learned some technique, like how to hold a knife and chop properly, cooking doesn’t suck so hard. Or at all. I’m still far away from being a culinary genius, but I’ve got enough experience under my belt to look at a recipe and say, “Um, in what universe is that true? Screw the recipe,” or to go to a restaurant and come home and say, I could totally make that.

Friday night we were at a restaurant, we’ll call it Blue Bluebird, eating dinner. Wanting something different, I ordered their “West Coast Fowl Sandwich”, which was comprised of grilled chicken breast, guacamole, provolone, and bacon.

Okay, I have to go off track here to talk about bacon for a second.
1) If you’re going to advertise your sandwich as having bacon, then put bacon on it. Don’t give me flavorless, flaccid pork leather and call it bacon.

2) Clearly, I love bacon. (See item 1.) I always have. Although, I don’t love it enough to eat a half a pound package in one sitting. Nope. Never done that. *whistles nonchalantly* The thing I want to know is, when did loving bacon become a geek status symbol. It was like I woke up a couple years ago and all of a sudden, if you didn’t love bacon, your geek cred was in serious trouble. Bacon is awesome, and will always be awesome, without geeks being all orgasmy about it. No one wants jizzy bacon.

3) People who eat only one or two pieces of turkey bacon for a “protein-packed” snack and are full enough to last until the zombie apocalypse are adorable.

The sandwich was decently good, bacon rage aside, but I decided I wanted to try making it for myself and do it even better. I figured I could make it lower points, (hellooooo Weight Watchers) and it would be cheaper than going out to dinner. So here’s what I did.

Here are my ingredients for the guacamole. A lot of recipes call for cilantro, but I really just don’t like it, especially in guacamole.
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A couple of tips:
You’ll tear up less when cutting an onion if you leave the root intact.
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Personally, I love raw red onion, but plenty of people don’t. So, once you’ve cut your onion how you want it, rinse and soak it in some cold water for a few minutes. It gets rid of the overpowering burny bite, but leaves the flavor and texture intact. Along the same lines, many people don’t like biting into raw garlic. So I chose to use a microplane grater with a clove of garlic. It’ll give you the same texture as the smashed avocado and avoid the embarrassment of accidentally ruining your make out session with your vampire boyfriend. Finally, if you’re like me and tend to have a losing streak against jalapeños or any other hot peppers, do yourself a favor and wear gloves.
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That way you won’t be standing over your sink pouring milk on your eyeball because it has been set ablaze due to what was apparently inadequate hand washing after handling the pepper. Not today, jalapeño! Mwahahahahaha!
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Mash, mix, season, and voila!
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Now, I was going to grill the chicken in a grill pan, but then I thought or OR OR I could just sauté the chicken in some of the bacon fat. 😈
I was really happy with the final results. I thought it was better than the Blue Bluebird sandwich. The bacon was crispy. The guac had great texture and was a cool, fresh counterbalance to the hot chicken. Julie for the win!
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The Value of Weakness

This is my first post, but I’d rather skip the whole, This is my first post and what you should know about me thing. So let’s just pretend like we’re already good friends and that you would totally hold my hair back for me while I drunk puke. Okay? Okay.

The following synopsis of Phineas and Ferb has a point. Stick with me?
This morning I watched the Phineas and Ferb/Marvel Universe crossover episode, Mission Marvel. (Disney’s all, Vertical cross-integration geeky zeitgeist synergy nom nom wheeeeeeee! This, plus acquiring Star Wars, makes my eye twitch a little. But that’s for another post.)
In the episode, Dr. D’s inator accidentally bounces off P & F’s satellite and drains Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Hulk, and Thor’s powers. So, of course, the villains get all villainy and try to destroy everything. Even though the heroes are devoid of power, they refuse to stand by and just let things happen. So they improvise on skateboards and golf carts while Buford’s all What’s up, mothafucka! with a fish. (It totally happened that way, cursing and all.) And you know what? They totally get their asses handed to them without their powers. Red Skull proclaims no one will care about them without their powers.

So as I sat there, bathing in the geeky glow of the tv while my 2 year old jumped on me yelling, Pooper pow-uhs! I thought about how we tend to be as a culture. We honor and lift up strength, especially in adversity. When people’s stories are told, they always highlight things like, Despite both legs being chewed to a bloody pulp by piranhas as she swam down the Amazon, she persevered to the embankment where she promptly birthed sextuplets naturally, all while blogging about the cute labels she used on mason jar drinking glasses.

Yes. That is totally awesome! Bravo! But not everyone can do that, or even wants to do that, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make someone “less than” if their achievement is getting the dishes done while their back is in agony and their kids are screeching at each other like ferrel cats. That was my day yesterday. I live with fibromyalgia, and so that was fucking huge for me.

I think we need to learn, not only to glorify martyrdom, but to find celebration and value in our weaknesses. They allow us to need each other, to connect with one another. They make us evaluate, not only who we want to be, but who we need to be. For me, fibro has given me an opportunity to slow down and really reflect on me. Who am I? What am I capable of? What am I not capable of? I think it’s given me the gift of forgiveness when others have their weak moments. Most of all, it’s allowed me to see the value in small victories: taking a walk around the block; reading to my daughters; cooking dinner; not losing my temper; writing a blog post.

No matter how much (or how little) strength you have, you and the things you choose to do, have value.

…unless you’re a troll. Take that over in the corner. No one wants to see that shit.