Thursday, April 28, 2011

lean with seeing others eat

my neighbor's part time position has been just changed to a full-time one. I know this because that is the subject of the conversation all around me. I am not a part of these conversations.

I would like myself better if I were the kind of person to be happy that his part-time staff position has been upgraded to full-time. I am not that kind of person.

But what about me? He is very relieved to be able to give up his other part-time job, to have health benefits and tuition benefits (after a period of time).

But what about me? I have no security in the world. I have no job. I have nothing waiting for me and nothing to fall back upon.

(yes, of course this is my own doing. I should have remained satisfied with my assistant manager position at Discount Retail Store X and not reached out for things beyond my station. I understand this.)

I am not a part of this office. No one asks if I'd like to join them in lunch or on walks. No one says "hey, we're ordering X--want in?" Mostly I don't mind. I am not unhappy to be left alone. And certainly it doesn't make sense to befriend a mere graduate student who will be gone in another year.

On the other hand, not fitting in doesn't help me professionally. No one here would go out of their way to help me out in future endeavors. Not many (if any) would help if it were "in their way."

This would be fine if I were otherwise secure--I'd learn to freelance and (somehow) to write so that I could work alone and on my own time. I prefer that anyway (and that is one of the best thing about my current position--I am a solitary worker, no one checks up on me, and I have a lot of freedom in the way I structure my time.)

But I am not secure. I have no reason to believe that I will ever have a job once I graduate. I have no reason to believe that I will not be homeless within three years.

Usually I can shove such thoughts aside. Today my envy overwhelms me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

things the magazines won't tell you

you don't need a microwave to pop popcorn.
(no, you don't need a lumberjack to pour your milk, either.)
suggesting that overweight women/women struggling with weight issues might consider switching from "regular" microwave popcorn to "reduced fat" microwave popcorn is just sneaky marketing.
telling fellow readers that just such a switch  helped to turn you into a weight-loss success story is revealing and sad: giving up one food product for another is not a success.

How to Make Popcorn:
Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil (grapeseed, corn, safflower, or peanut would be good; olive works but you'll have more unpopped seeds) into a 2-4 qt saucepan. Make sure this pan has a lid. Add 2 tablespoons of popcorn kernals. I like white, blue, or red ones. Yellow ones are tasteless and less crispy.

Place pan on a burner on the stove and turn the burner on. Medium heat.

Keep the pan on the burner until the popping slows down considerably. Shake popcorn into a bowl. Salt. Eat.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn (if the thought of popping on the stove is too terrifying for words):
Place popcorn kernels into a paper bag. Fold the bag shut (tiny folds: you want as much space as possible). Microwave 2-5 minutes. 

Cheap. No "butter flavor." No added coloring. No preservatives. No artificial sweeteners. No TBHQ or partially hydrogenated anything. Less packaging. Less waste. More flavor.

If popcorn is the one thing standing between you and your skinny jeans, you might want to rethink things in general though.

I, on the other hand, am the one so irritated by the magazine copy that I have devoted an entire blog post to it. So I might need to rethink some things too...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Okay May, I have a Project for you

May will be (as much as can be possible) the month of paying only with cash for everything.

Exceptions to be paid by check: rent; electric bill.

Exception to be paid by credit card: phone bill.

Everything else will be paid for in cash. Not with a debit card even. Only cash.

Monday, April 11, 2011

more books I have read lately

A Girl of the Limberlost
The Secret Garden
The Kind Diet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Gifts of Imperfection
Jane Eyre
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The Return of Sherlock Holmes
A Study in Scarlet
The Hound of the Baskervilles
A Book of Silence
Listening Below the Noise
In Pursuit of Silence
Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life

monthly projects are hard

The Month of Xtreme Thr!ft was great. I ended the month feeling happy and well balanced and in control of my wallet. I learned more about my spending habits and spending style and, even if I did spend a lot in March, I am very confident in nearly all of my purchases. yay.

The Month of No Complaining was horrible. I did learn a lot. I learned that I complain a lot. I learned I complain most to those I love the most. So not cool.

In exchange for not complaining, I offered myself treats--lots of cookies! Very bad idea.

For the past three weeks or so, I've felt very off balance. After I turned in the first draft of dissertation chapter two (March 16, not that I noticed) I read several memoirs about silence and the search for silence. One of these books (A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland) was wonderful. I look forward to reading it again and I am worried to read it again--what if it doesn't live up to the feeling I currently have for it? I digress. Reading Maitland's book, I had a two-pronged "aha" moment--first, I require a lot of alone time and second, I don't like to multitask when it comes to sound.

I enjoy my time with others much more when I have had enough quality solitary time. I knew already that I am and can be quite satisfied with my own company. I hadn't quite realized that I need solitary time of a certain kind (or of certain kinds) in order to relax and behave around others. Wasting/wasted time is not quality alone time. Sitting on the couch wondering what to do next, wandering from kitchen to office putting off chores, lying in bed when I am no longer sleepy are not restorative for me. Time spent reading fashion magazines or trashy novels is not restorative. Watching movies can be mildly restorative or neutral.

Following a routine with my chores and keeping up on them is restorative. I vacuum on the weekends. I do dishes morning and evening. I do laundry once every week. I sweep every other day. When I am not overwhelmed by mess, maintaining my space is relaxing.

Time spent reading lovely books is restorative. Time spent walking along the lake is restorative. Time spent exercycling--as long as I make it at least 20 minutes--is restorative. Time spent in the Art Institute and reading certain blogs is restorative.

I seem to require an aesthetically positive and/or productive element in order to feel whole, balanced, and prepared to engage with others.

I don't like music when I take care of housework or when I read or when I write. I find it very distracting. I would rather do nothing else if I am listening to music. When I perform chores, I would rather focus upon them as chores.

Learning this was and continues to be very helpful.

Perhaps the fact of new or heightened awareness about my needs has left me a little sensitive, and perhaps this contributes to my sense of imbalance. Certainly learning how frequently I complain, feel sorry for myself, and make excuses for myself has been a disappointment.

I'm sure things will right themselves soon. But I am sensitive and then I am critical and snappish and then I am aware of my criticism and snappishness and become even more sensitive and even more disappointed. I need to sit down before I tumble into despair.