Day 41: Comfort

The first e-mail that I read when I got to work this morning was a blog update from a friend’s parents letting us know that she is dying.

It’s not unexpected, and yet I’m too stubborn to stop hoping for some sort of miracle. Still, it’s devastating and infuriating. I feel crushed and helpless and angry because–and I know it’s cliche to say this–it’s just so unfair. And so incredibly sad.

As hard as it is to feel grateful for anything right now, I know that I am lucky to be able to take comfort in many things this evening. Like R who is finally on her way home from work. Like yoga–I’m debating going to a new class this evening, or just doing some videos. Like cooking: I am making breakfast for dinner tonight and just love the sound that an eggshell makes as it cracks. Like the coziness of our apartment and all of the impulse buys from when I went grocery shopping this evening (avocado, chocolate pudding).

None of these things change the situation in any way. But they make my heart feel just the littlest bit more whole.

Day 36: Garlic

Do you remember learning to peel garlic?

Where were you? Who taught you?

Tonight I was feeling lazy while prepping for dinner. Our sink is overflowing with dishes that need to be washed and, silly though it may seem,  I couldn’t bring myself to add another knife and cutting board to the enormous pile.

And, of course, that was just fine, because you don’t need a knife to peel garlic. All you need to do is put pressure on the clove until it squishes (great word, right?) and the peel will come right off.

It’s a little thing for sure but it’s fun to know the trick.

Despite moving to a brand new city filled with brand new germs, I did not get sick once in our whole first year of living here.

Well, except for that one time when I had strep. But I had (almost) no symptoms. It’s kind of a long story.

Regardless, we’re now on year two, and this Tuesday I woke up with my second bad cold in four months, just in time for the first day back from vacation. I couldn’t bring myself to be the person who didn’t come to work the day after a long break, so I got dressed and went in. And then I couldn’t miss seeing a friend who was in town for just one night, so I went out to dinner. And then I didn’t want to back out on having friends over for dinner, so I cooked for six of us. (And used a TON of Purrell. I’m such a germophobe, even when I’m the one who’s sick.) And then I really didn’t want to miss the 2.5 hour gym-fest that I’d worked so hard to fit into my schedule, so I went to that too.

Maybe these weren’t the best decisions. Certainly, my body let me know that it wasn’t entirely pleased with what I was doing. Like when I fell asleep  on the couch as soon as our guests left the other night before even putting away the leftover food (thanks R!). Or today when, after waking up and deciding I felt better and going to the gym and spending all afternoon shopping, I ended up needing both pre- and post-dinner naps. The best part was when I fell asleep just as I was telling R that I wasn’t tired enough to go to bed because of my earlier nap. Oops.

I know that what I probably should have done was take it a little easier this week. And I did do some of that too. But, despite feeling gross, I had a great week, and mostly I’m grateful for the fact that I didn’t have to miss out on any of the things I was so excited about.

This summer a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and everything about her “normal” life has been put on hold as she fights through it.  What she’s going through, in her words, sucks. And, as cliche as it sounds, it certainly puts a cold or two into perspective. Yeah, it would have been nice to stay home from work. Yeah, I probably would have felt better if I’d gotten  more sleep. Yeah, realizing as Zumba started this morning that I still couldn’t quite breathe without coughing didn’t feel great.  But each of those things was my choice. Ultimately, I’m happy with all of the choices that I made this week and so grateful that I’m healthy enough to have had the freedom to make them.

Day 32: 2012

“What’s easy in your body may take me lifetimes to handle. We all have our own shape and our own needs in each moment. We are entirely our own to discover, create, and re-create.”

I’ve been putting off writing a first post of the new year because I couldn’t figure out how to articulate what it was that I want so much to accomplish over the next 12 months. And then this evening, while reading responses to a controversial New York Times piece about the potential dangers of yoga, I came across the quote above in an article posted on MindBodyGreen.com

We are entirely our own to discover, create, and re-create.

The past year and a half has been such a transitional period, marked by choices that I have made and then abandoned and confusion about where I want to go next. I told myself I would look for work in one city, but later realized I wanted to follow R to another. I started taking graduate classes in hopes of pursuing a degree that now I’m not so sure about. What’s become increasingly clear is that I don’t really know myself well enough yet to know what will really make me happy.

Yoga brings this to the forefront in a concrete way. One of the things that struck me about the piece in the Times was that it seemed like many of those who were injured didn’t realize that they were pushing themselves too far. (The other was the implication that people who aren’t flexible and in excellent shape should not do yoga at all. I would like to keep trying, thank you very much.) The response from within the yoga community has been strong, beautiful, reassuring, and uplifting. A lot has been written about the importance listening to your own body, knowing what your limits are, being patient, and taking time to connect with yourself. But as I read those responses, I can’t help but wonder how you’re supposed to know what your body is telling you and how you learn that safely. And then, why is it that I don’t already know?

I have some theories as to the answer to that last question, some general and others more personal. Among them is this: American culture praises competition and abhors laziness; the heart of the American dream is the idea that success comes only to those who work the hardest. Can we be surprised, then, that so many of us can’t comfortably differentiate between too easy, too hard, and just right?

This year, I want to start to figure out how I define  success and, more importantly, happiness.  And I’m hopeful that as I learn to listen to my body on my mat once a week, I can extrapolate from there to the rest of my life. I want to discover what really makes me happy and  then re-focus around those things. I want 2012 to be an exercise in listening to my body and my heart so that, a year from now, I am a little more certain of and at ease with who I am and what I’m doing.

Day 26: Sparkles!

The past couple of days have been a little bit hard. I said this a couple of weeks ago too, but being home can be absolutely wonderful or challenging, and is often both each visit. This one has been a little harder than  most, and it feels even worse because, while I am not entirely comfortable here, I am also definitely not looking forward to go back to work on Tuesday!

There are a couple things making me smile big this morning, though:

1) Went to a yoga class, mostly in hopes of preventing Monday’s class from being disastrous. It wasn’t great, but I did feel a lot better after.

2) Sparkles everywhere!

Yesterday I got these shoes (on sale! at LOFT)

and then today I got this manicure

and every time I look down at my hands or my feet I just can’t help but smile and laugh a little.

Here’s to a fabulous and sparkly start to 2012!

It is 3:42 am as I am starting to write this post.

Let me tell you how rarely I am up this late. I am absolutely not a late night person. I start taking “naps” on the couch between 10:30 and 11:00 on a good night. I know. I am 85 years old, already. Seriously.

But tonight I am wide awake after having spent the evening with my best friends from high school.  I loved my college experience and R and I are making a lot of wonderful new friends but no one makes me feel as comfortable–or laugh as hard– as my friends from home.

Tonight, in addition to too many cookies and bottles of wine, we made this absolutely amazing Halal Cart Style Chicken With Rice from Serious Eats. Ever been to NY? These carts are everywhere and their food smells incredible.

Don’t eat meat? Let me just suggest always cooking your rice in melted butter infused with turmeric and cumin because it is beautiful and delicious and you will want to just keep eating it forever. And then make the white sauce, and put it on everything you eat. Just don’t blame me when your cholesterol is through the roof.

Really, though. It’s worth it. Even if you’re 85 like me.

Day 24: To life

Two years ago today my dad was in the ICU in an induced coma after a liver transplant.

You would never know it now. In fact, many people don’t. He is healthy, he’s been working again for over a year, he has a lot of energy. I often forget how sick he was and how scary it was. To be fair, I missed a lot of it because I was away in school, which is something I still feel guilty about. It was so hard for my mom and for my brothers who were so young.

Last year, and again this year, my dad has asked to celebrate December 28th as a second birthday. And this time I knew exactly what to make for his cake.

Earlier this summer, food blogger Jennifer Perillo asked her followers to make a pie in memory of her late husband Mikey. In her post, she wrote, “Share [this pie] with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.”

I guess this may seem like a weird juxtaposition. But in celebrating my dad’s ‘other’ birthday, we’re celebrating how very, incredibly lucky we to have today and yesterday and all of the days of the past two years.  We’re remembering how very precious and fragile life is and, as Jennie suggested, making sure to note what we have now, in this moment.

Mikey’s pie is also one of the first recipes that I ever made totally from scratch, and continues to be one of the most complicated recipes that I’ve learned to make. That’s part of what drove my decision to make it tonight too–it just seemed right to make  something that is challenging and decadent. And yes, the whole pie probably has upwards of 7,000, even 8,000 calories in it. But if now isn’t the time to indulge, when is? Besides, no one is eating a whole pie–I hope.

Dad said it was incredible, and the best dessert of 2011. Just don’t anyone tell him there’s cream cheese in there. He’d never eat it again!

The recipe can be found here and a beautiful tribute video here.

When I made it tonight I substituted almonds and almond butter to make it a peanut-free pie. I also only let it sit in the refrigerator for the minimum 3 hours and would definitely recommend waiting longer. It ended up being served in gobs rather than slices– but I’m sure they were equally delicious.

Two things I haven’t been able to figure out with this pie: 1) how to get the crust to go 1 in. up the sides of the pan–both times my 8oz cookies barely covered the bottom and 2) what to cut it with. My knives always get stuck on the hard chocolate layer. I’d love advice on these two!


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