Monday, July 11, 2011

At the Dentist

I had a dentist appointment today, which I wasn't exactly dreading but also wasn't excited about.  Mostly I wanted to call in sick for the whole universe, so the dentist was no exception.  And although it's a nice place and my chair of doom was facing a set of windows looking out on ivy-covered red brick buildings, and although they had cheery music on, I could feel, as soon as sat down, that I wanted nothing to do with the foolishness that would ensue.  I suddenly felt like all of this fuss about our teeth must be absurd, since my teeth are working just fine, thank you very much, and what if I just suddenly tore the little bib off and in an instant became one of those people that simply does not do the dentist thing?  What then?

But I stayed, dreading and dreading it, as the faces began hovering over me, and a pina colada flavored stick of numbing gel met my gums, and then the sting of a shot, and strange orange glasses they made me wear over mine, I assume to prevent tooth dust (!) from getting in my eyes.  And I thought, see, okay, I'm dealing, but when they start to drill I very much might scream and leap from the chair and karate-chop that tray of shiny instruments.  I wasn't feeling very calm, is what I'm trying to say.

And then they began to drill, and suction as they went, and instead of feeling like leaping, it became sort of lovely, like there was this storm in my mouth with rain and a high-pitched squealing sort of thunder, and somehow in the middle of that I felt safe, in a way I haven't felt in the last couple of days.  This big thing was happening inside of my own head, this physical--even violent--happening, and I tried to breathe very carefully and unflex my feet and unclench my hands and will my quivering chin to cease quivering and find a quiet place.  I thought of a beach in Mexico I walked on once with my family where we saw a lot of dolphins, which is my go-to happy place, and there, in snatches, everything was okay.

Do you have a go-to happy place?  When do you "get to" practice it?  


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Simple Meal: Fish Tacos

Sam and I bring home fresh flounder, a small head of green cabbage, fresh salsa, a perfect avocado, red red tomatoes.

While he sautes the fish, I cut up the veggies on a bamboo cutting board.  I like the way they look once I've cut them--little piles of color--the red of the tomato, deep green of the avocado, light green of the shaved cabbage, black of the olives, the whites of a few hearts of palm and of diced, sweet vidalia onions.

I mix a little mayo with the salsa, which sounds disturbing, but is actually the loveliest fish taco sauce.  Sam has me squeeze a lime on the fish, since his hands are covered in fish juice.  He inadvertently squeezes a paper towel full of fish juice onto the floor and there is some panic about our house smelling like that forever. He adds a bit of chili powder and sea salt.  I heat the corn tortillas in a little pan, spraying pam first, and adding salt as it heats.

I fill my tacos so full I can't begin to close them, planning to eat what spills with a fork.  We sit in the living room, since it's slightly cooler there, and we exclaim profusely about how good these taste.  Or I do at least, though Sam is not unpleased.  Fish tacos are a childhood meal for me; I have memories of waiting at a roadside taco stand with all six kids and both my parents, all of us eagerly waiting for our turn to have another.

Sam and I finish the meal with an ear of corn, so rich on its own that we add nothing to it. 

Do tell: what simple meals have you enjoyed lately?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh, that's self reliance?

I got an iPad some time back, and I am loving it.  But I needed some kind of cover for it.  There's a little special cover that they sell with them, but it flops open if it's in your bag, and I can't have that, so I was using a plastic gallon-size ziploc, and thinking I would have to buy another cover and thinking it was going to cost me 40 bucks or something to get a decent one, and then it hit me: I sew!  I know how to do that thing.  And I have fabric that I fell in love with sometime back and haven't put to use.  And 30 minutes later, I had an iPad case.  I can't describe how happy this made me.  To have a problem, and to have made my own solution and carried it out and had it be pretty to boot.  I kept walking around my house saying, "I made a thing!  I made a thing!" and Sam kept saying, "Yep, you sure did."  It was a happy evening.

I took pictures.  And Sprouty insisted on modeling.  She is the queen.  We must obey her every whim. 

(A note on the button closure: I taught myself to make button holes!  But that's not what I wanted to say.  I wanted to say that at the time it was important for me to make the thing, to be done and have it be free, so I cut a button off an old shirt and sewed it on.  I have since purchased a much snazzier button.)

(Also, have you seen these iPad games for kitties?  I've tried it, and I don't think my cats are smart enough, but maybe some day they'll get it ... )

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On Cleaning

I'm not good at cleaning.  I mean to be.  I want to be.  In my daydreams I am.  I often spend time mentally cleaning my house, imagining putting things away, moving through the rooms like a whirling, order-insisting robot, arranging everything in its pristine position.   

But that's not actual what I'm like.  At all.  Chaos and entropy reign in my house, especially when I'm working full-time. Occasionally I pretend to be that robot and I spend hours upon hours and more hours cleaning everything, and by the end I'm exhausted and cranky. 

And here's the problem with not being the robot, with having a messy house: it makes me sad.  Not like in a literal sense.  I don't look at the messiness and sorrow for it, though a little of that might be involved.  I mean that I've noticed that if I come home on Friday and everything is a dadgum disaster, I feel hopeless and overwhelmed, and I won't even realize it has to do with the messiness.  I think the world actually IS that hopeless and overwhelming.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, so I figured this out, this triggering response, and how ugly it was, and how much I'd rather not feel that way, and I thought and thought of what to do about it.  I found that one thing, the Flylady or whatever her name is, who gives you a list of tasks to do every single day of the year, and that's super cool, don't get me wrong, but I sort of tried to do it for a week or so and it made me even more depressed.  I need my cleaning strategy to be more, well, in and out, get it done, and don't do anything that isn't absolutely necessary.  Then I read some cool blog posts (on this blog and this blog) that seem to approach cleaning in a sassy-pants, practical, no-nonsense, this is real life and let's get on with it approach.  This was totally what I needed. 

I still liked the idea of a cleaning rotation, or certain things that I just do every day and other things I do on a set schedule, and after some more thought and some real time evaluating what I cared about, here's what I came up with.  I hope you're not appalled that I'm only doing these things once a week, or judging me because such-and-such doesn't even make the list.  I'm still fine-tuning, and I tackle other things as they become pressing, but if I seriously just do this, which doesn't take long at all, I am a much happier camper.  I do it in the morning, and then when I come home from work, I feel like things are okay, and I don't spend four hours of my weekend cleaning, either.  Friday nights are less depressing.  I want to play with Sam on the weekend.  I want to spend most of my time writing and reading and sewing pretty skirts.  Cleaning doesn't fulfill me, though maybe it does for some people.  For me, it's just baseline.  I gotta get there or I can't get anywhere else.

Anyway, here it is:

Daily realities: the kitchen (it just has to be done. every day.  there's no getting around this. i've tried.).  cat litter. General chaos/clutter avoidance.

Monday: Swiffer/sweep the whole universe
Tuesday: Laundry
Wednesday: Take out all of the garbagesssss
Thursday: A real de-cluttering, vaccuum
Friday: Bathroom

What about you?  Have you developed a cleaning strategy?  Are you still working on it?  Do tell.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Inner Style Appears to be 1950s Housewife

I've been thrifting lately, too.  If you come to visit me (and well you should!) I will take you to some gems.  A friend took me once and I am hooked.  Absolutely hooked.  If I could, I would go every stinking day.  I feel my insides get sort of restless and look around and say, isn't it thrift-o-clock yet?  Don't we need more vintage skirts?  Don't we don't we?

I mean, I found Prada shoes, my friends.  Prada.  And a long wool bright fushia pink skirt that will be my best friend come winter.  And and and.  Lots of stuff.  When you get rid of your entire wardrobe because of its too-big-ish-ness, you need some new threads.  And buying all those new threads, even on the cheap at my usual cheap joints, is pricey.  Which is why I'm into four dollar shirts.  And seven dollar dresses.  (If those prices seem high for thrifted stuff, remember we are in Boston, after all. Those prices are miracles around here.) A bit of dry-cleaning or throwing it in the washer/dryer to get the old lady smell out, and we're good to go, folks.  Good to go.

Some days I look down at myself and realize that everything I'm wearing is thrifted.  (At least the outside layer ...)  Those are fun days.  I walk around feeling all sneaky and happy.  Here's one of those outfits.

 The shoes are Born ($4!), the shirt is Ann Taylor (5$!?) (loving the little ruffles on the ends of the sleeves), the skirt is your mom's (It might be. You never know ...).  The necklace is H&M, which always serves me well with cheap cheap accessories. 

I threw on a bright orange cardigan (not thrifted), and was ready to roll.  There were two mishaps later in the day: I put my hand in the pocket of the skirt (why did we stop putting roomy happy pockets in skirts? why?), and the seam tore.  Dang skirt.  I held it together with office supplies, namely one of those fierce little binder clips attached to the inside, and I'll have to sew it up before I wear again. 

The other mishap came when I passed my company's president in the hall, who is generally super cool and nice and lovely, and she pointed at the flower clip in my hair (can you see even see it?) and laughed.  She pointed and laughed at me!  She then said, "That's really cute!" but she had already pointed and laughed.  Harumph. 

Here's one more little peek at a thrifted outfit.  Sam was out of town so you'll pardon the mirror picture attempt.  I've been hunting and hunting for fancy shoes in a bright color and had no luck finding them, even in "real" stores.  I've also been hunting for a bright yellow necklace.  And I'm always hunting for a pretty summery dress.  I found all three in one trip!  The necklace might be hard to see, but it's there.  And the shoes are perfect.  I couldn't have dreamed them up if I tried.  I love this part of it, the hunt of it.  And the feeling, when you find the perfect thing, that you've somehow beat the system, like you win more than the clothes themselves, like the universe surely loves you and longs to fulfill your every wish.