Aside

Mississippian Musings

2 Oct

I usually don’t feel that my day-to-day life merits commenting on. However, it’s evident that glimpses of the past couple of days require further discussion. They’re a bit random, and therefore unfit for a casual ‘how’s it going’ conversation. However, considering the ‘whatever goes’ (as long as it’s well-written, mind you!) nature of this blog, I think it’s safe to proceed:

1. On Saturday, I made a run to the grocery store, my mind focused on mangoes and granola bars during the drive. That is, until the following sign caused me to abruptly shift gears (no pun intended), and to instead contemplate how, semantically speaking, I could potentially purchase a human being post-grocery store:

Image

Eh, I’m not that crazy about flowers. Perhaps if she could teach me how to grow blueberries, too, it’d be a tougher decision.

2. I did, however, make a pit stop at the liquor store prior to arriving back at home. Yes, I am a borderline social-situation-alcoholic. But in this particular instance, I was merely buying Jack Daniel’s as a housewarming gift. So I made a beeline for the whiskey aisle, which I’m sure made me immediately seem conspicuous. And then I purchased the second to largest bottle size. Yes, I was the only girl in the whiskey department. No, it is not especially crazy to purchase whiskey, I know. But considering that only three years ago I thought a couple of sips of beer could cause inebriation, I’ve really come a long way!

3. I’ve been forcing myself to run outside. These runs are a constant battle between psyche and lower body strength. But at the moment, my legs seem to be hanging in there!! Sometime last week, during one of these bouts of physical exertion, I made a tragic discovery on the side of the road – a dead kitten!! A very cute one, too. I know it’s twisted of me, but I felt the need to take a picture of its carcass after it had been left there to rot for several days. Take a look, but please don’t enjoy:

dead_kitten

4. After attending an interesting community dance concert with friends on Saturday evening, I attempted to go to bed. But the ‘Sippi ‘Skeeters, who had spent unasked for time with my feet earlier, decided otherwise. My feet were so desperately itchy that I could not sleep. However, thanks to an educational post by blogger Geraldine of ‘The Everywherist,’ I was given several home remedy options, ranging from vodka to ice. The ice works wonders, but is a bit awkward to snuggle with in bed. The home remedy I found both effective and nighttime-compatible was…toothpaste! With one stipulation: put a band aid over it!

5. On Sunday afternoon, my mom telephoned. Somehow we started discussing how often I clean my sheets. As it turns out, my mother likes to eat snacks in bed, and as a result must wash her sheets once a week. I made it quite clear that I do not eat snacks, or anything else, in my bed. However, my mother was convinced that because I read in my bed, I must eat snacks in there too! I don’t know if anyone else has conversations like this with their mother, but this one made me consider recording future ones and possibly turning them into podcasts. She’s that funny to me! 😀

If nothing else, I hope this post will help you to reflect on, and appreciate, something a bit odd or bizarre that has happened to you recently. I can’t say I’m happy, at all, about the dead kitten. But it has become part of my ‘Byram Running Adventures.’ The other incidents I’ve detailed above just make me laugh. Sometimes you need to think about those quirky moments that make you smile, like when you’re driving to work and you don’t particularly feel like going there, or when you’re reluctantly running on the treadmill after a long day, or even when no one has texted you in hours.

Considering the jumbled stream of information I’ve just presented y’all with, please do also accept the following, equally jumbled recipe. It was inspired by not going to the grocery store. Fancy that.

ORZO, LUNCHMEAT, & VEGGIES (Servings: 1)

INGREDIENTS: orzo_meat_veggie

-1 cup chicken broth or 1 bouillon cube

-1/3 cup uncooked orzo

– 2 garlic cloves, mashed

-1/2 white onion, chopped

-2 cups frozen veggies: I used broccoli, but substitute as you please

-Handful of snow peas (optional, but add a great crunch)

-1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, hydrated

-2 to 3 slices Oscar Mayer Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken Breast (or whatever lunch meat you have on hand, really)

-2 Tbs. reduced fat feta cheese

-1 tsp. parmesan cheese

-Seasoning: chili powder, salt, onion powder (you can play fast and loose on these/substitute as desired)

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the orzo in the chicken broth. Add more water if needed. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sauté the onions in water; add garlic, frozen veggies, snow peas, and sun dried tomatoes. Add the orzo to the vegetables, once cooked. Chop up the lunch meat and add to other ingredients. Finally, add feta cheese and seasonings. Cook on medium heat until nice and hot. After transferring to dinner plate, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

CALORIES: 400

Aside

Some-body

7 Sep

Lately, I’ve been wrestling with my body image. I believe this is in part due to a recent venture into online dating (which will, by the way, fuel a deliciously good future post). When creating my profile, I struggled with the ‘body type’ options, which are: ‘slender’, ‘athletic and toned’, ‘about average’, ‘curvy’, ‘big and beautiful,’ ‘full-figured’, ‘heavy set’, ‘a few extra pounds’, and ‘stocky.’ First of all, it irritates me that there are five or six options that are code for ‘I’m fat’ but only three or four options that characterize the vast array of normal shapes. Second of all, for the sake of accuracy I would have really liked to fill out this section of the profile on a body part to body part basis. From my perspective, my arms and legs are ‘athletic and toned’; my stomach/hips are curvy; and my butt might just be verging into ‘full-figured’ territory. So in conclusion, no, I cannot place my body type into a neatly packaged one to four words.

Based on my life as an American thus far, which I’ve lived across four different states, and a wealth of time spent reading tabloids at grocery store checkout lines, women in our society desire to be lean and toned. On the other hand, most guys I talk to like curvy. Oh, with a flat stomach, that is. Conclusion? The majority of women have achieved curvy, thanks very much…in all the wrong places. And if we ever reach lean and toned, we’ll have to be happy with a flat stomach and diminished good curves. It’s a Catch 22, short of plastic surgery.

I’ve decided that yes, I’m going to always battle with self-loathing. Yes, I’m going to continue to attempt to eat healthy and exercise, then have a brownie binge when I can’t take it anymore. But at the same time, I’m also going to let go and celebrate not being a stick, yet also not being overweight; not being perfectly toned yet also having great arms. I’m not going to always win the incessant battle with my overly negative brain, but I can at least win a couple rounds here and there, right?

2 Days In Paris_Julie Delpy

Delpy, in ‘2 Days in Paris’

This helps, too: watch Julie Delpy in the film 2 Days in Paris. Delpy is in her mid-thirties, somewhat fleshy, and fashion-apathetic. Yet I think she’s beautiful. Maybe it’s her French accent, which causes her to pronounce all of her vowels funny; or her nerdy nuggets of information, such as a theory that people with opposing immune systems are more attracted to one another; or her affectionate yet boisterous relationship with her parents; or the fights she picks in French with a taxi driver she’s assessed to be racist, fascist, and with Nazi leanings, and across a restaurant with an ex-boyfriend who dumped her to sleep around, even with third world 12-year-olds; or how invested she is in every conversation, even if it’s just about her cat’s recent weight gain; or her ability to tolerate a self-involved, fickle, neurotic boyfriend; or her willingness to be made fun of and picked at. All of her idiosyncrasies, vulnerabilities, and causes, even her dysfunction at times, make her far more attractive than if instead she weighed 20 pounds less.

Well, not to feed (literally!) the drive to constantly be thinner, but I’m posting two sweet potato recipes. And as it turns out Matthew Morrison from Glee ate only sweet potatoes for three days prior to his photo shoot for the cover of the December 2010 issue of Details magazine. One recipe is for lunch; the other is for dinner. Enjoy! And don’t feel fat while you eat either of these, please!!

BROCCO-CHEESE SWEET POTATO (Servings: 1)

INGREDIENTS:

-1 plastic-wrapped sweet potato (these are available at most grocery stores)brocco cheese sweet potato

-2 cups or 4 spears of frozen broccoli, depending on type purchased

-2 Tbs. low-fat mozzarella cheese

-Small amount of ketchup/light mayo, mixed

DIRECTIONS:

Microwave the sweet potato for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes, until tender. Remove from plastic and place onto plate. Cut lengthwise. Place broccoli and cheese on top of potato. Microwave until broccoli is warm and cheese is melted. Salt and pepper to taste. This may seem weird, but once I get down to the potato skin, I like to dip it in a mix of ketchup and mayo.

CALORIES: 250

TEX-MEX SWEET TATER

INGREDIENTS: 

-1 plastic-wrapped sweet potatotex-mex sweet tater

-1/4 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese

-2 stalks green onion, chopped

-1/2 large tomato, diced

-1/4 cup black beans

-1/3 cup frozen corn

-1/4 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

Microwave the sweet potato for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove sweet potato from microwave; place on baking sheet. Cut lengthwise and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted. Meanwhile, chop green onion and tomato, and thaw frozen corn. Combine tomato, black beans, and corn in small bowl. Remove sweet potato from oven. Top with tomato, black beans, corn. Then top with yogurt. Finally, sprinkle with green onions.

CALORIES: 340

Aside

On Twister and Not Following Your Dreams

14 Jul

Charles Foley is the one on the left.

Charles Foley is the one on the left.

Charles Foley, one of two inventors of the game ‘Twister,’ died on the first of July. The MSNBC news blurb caught my attention on this past Thursday. It has been on my mind since, but certainly not because I ever liked playing Twister. I like games which make it very clear how to win, and whether you have won or lost. In my grade school experience with ‘Twister’, there were entirely too many grey areas that knees and elbows would find themselves in, without elimination of the knee’s or elbow’s owner from the game. I was a competitive 7-year-old, yet too shy to question people when it seemed clear their last contortion had not worked out. And so for me the game was an endless rotation of re-positioning oneself without even getting to count it as exercise.

I believe the reason Foley’s death caught my attention is because he made very little money off of the invention, yet according to his son, Mark, Charles didn’t feel cheated. He had begun inventing at the age of eight, by creating a locking system for the cattle pen at his grandfather’s farm, and died with 97 patented inventions to his name. But ‘Twister’ was, by leaps and bounds, his most memorable invention, and he didn’t even care how little he reaped from it. He just liked inventing, particularly in the realm of kids’ toys and games.

As Americans, we live in a confusing culture that initially promotes the concept of “doing what we love” (think back to your overly optimistic high school counselors).  But we then get slapped in the face when we discover that the money doesn’t always follow. I chose to be practical, and majored in engineering mainly because I wanted a job, and I like making money. And to be perfectly candid, I sometimes wonder if doing what I love, as a living, would make me not love it after all.  Currently, I work as a process engineer at a small plant in Jackson, MS. At that plant, we manufacture the base media that goes into liquid filters. I like my job, and I’m grateful for it, but I do not go to bed at night eagerly anticipating returning to work the next day.

I guess I was initially jealous of Charles Foley. Maybe the news posts I read over-glamorized his career, or omitted periods in which he wasn’t having fun coming up with novel twists on toy helicopters and darts. Or maybe he was just a happy, passionate guy who happened to be gifted in an area that lends itself to a more interesting obituary.

But my final conclusion is that it’s perfectly OK to NOT do what you love. If you have a general appreciation for life, you will find aspects of your job that are worthwhile. I am an angst-ridden 24-year-old who creates a different career goal on a day-to-day basis. But the truth is as long you have a job with challenges and growth opportunities, it’s good for you! Yes, I will continue creating escapist plans, and may even shed a few tears of frustration from time to time. But work wouldn’t be work without irritations, mundane aspects, and difficult people. And if I can do my job well, with those less appealing aspects in place, then maybe there’s no need to envy Mr. Foley. Maybe I should just celebrate navigating my way through sticky situations, because I think that’s the secret to being happy in the workplace. If you’re still not convinced, please hop on over to Penelope Trunk’s blog post on the same subject. It’s refreshingly spunky!

Linking back to Foley’s knack for inventing, I present a challenge to you: how would you re-purpose leftover tiramisu? Google’s answers to this question are far and few between. I have some leftover tiramisu that I would prefer not to eat in its tiramisu-form. My idea was to make crepes, then top them with the creamy, non-cookie layers of the tiramisu (I’m sure any Italians reading this are cringing at my loose terminology). However, what I am really looking for is a recipe concept that would re-purpose all layers of the tiramisu, in one new dish. Please, please, please send me any and all ideas you have! They can be as quirky as you wish.