02 August 2012

Le Cordon Bleu Folsom

So in a few days the boy and I will have been married for seven years. Which depending on how the words are stressed could sound like *forever*. Our anniversary is the perfect time to reflect on just how much we have grown from the young, starry-eyed couple in our wedding photo. One of our greatest accomplishments to date has been our capacity to treat the kitchen like a sacrosanct place where one does not murder one's spouse over very fundamentally different approaches to cooking.

A little bit of background on how the harmonious truce developed over many, many 'discussions'. And like so many diplomatic agreements between nuclear countries, it's not perfect but it works. For now. When the boy and I met I was still in college and relishing my body's ability to take whatever I gave it (beer/cheeseburgers/more beer) and stay relatively skinny and carefree. The boy recognized the situation and went about 'fixing' it with gourmet meals and ingredients to help wean me away from the world of food that came wrapped in paper and cost roughly two bucks.

Yep. This is how they reel you in ladies.
 or gentlemen. 

Unfortunately, in the blessed haze of young love induced-delirium something very important was miscommunicated. My general unwillingness to cook did not constitute an inability to cook. Ours being a generally equitable relationship I soon felt the need to contribute to our daily meals.

Didn't I do a great job ordering this?

Alas, it was not to be. Apparently pizza three times a week is frowned upon in some societies. 
of freaks. 

So now I really had to start cooking at home for real "like a grown up" which implied all manner of grocery shopping, and utensil dirtying and taking "some people's aversion to perfectly normal food" into consideration. (though here my husband would interject something about Other people's unreasonable pickiness, but it's not his blog so he won't)  This all was a learning curve in and of itself. However, having lived on my own since graduating high school I felt fairly confident that I had the rudimentary skills needed for things like  knives, pans, tempered glass baking sheets. Hahaha, silly girl! How wrong, terribly wrong and naive you were. 

The boy and I come from two very different cultural circles and if there was a pie chart of how much energy went into navigating those waters it would look something like this: 
The land he grew up in had both specified utensils for other specified utensils for specific jobs. The rubber coated things go on the Teflon coated things but the metal things can be used against metal things but not against ceramic things. 
In my world you grabbed what worked that was closest to what you were doing.
His method preserved utensils so that they could one day be passed down to his great-grandchildren embodying tales of epic history. Or so I guess. 
My method. Well, my method saved lives. More specifically, his life. (see, I can be specific too!)

A typical evening of my cooking dinner would begin thus-
Scene: Kitchen. 
Me cooking dinner. Boyfriend slides in to grab a taste of what's on the stove. 

Boy: Mmm, what is this?
Me: Something with mushrooms. Maybe some tomatoes, not really sure. (chopping vegetables)
Boy: It could use some salt. 
Me: Well it's not done yet. I'm not sure what I'll put in it. 
He glances over to watch me cutting. Winces.
Me: What?
Boy: Nothing. 
Me: Whatever, I saw that. What am I doing wrong?
Boy: alksdjfasdfwaeihjr lknlkdfhjpwiefr
I am sure he is using words here but I am not really into the latest culinary critique. 
Me: I'm sorry, did you want to be doing this?
Boy: I didn't say that. 
Me: Then why are you in here?
Boy: Just visiting. (begins stirring vegetables. adding seasoning. and fucking salt.)
Me: (mentally stabbing him) You know, I got this. 
Boy: I was just trying to help.
Me: Oh believe me, I know. Also, that sex later. Canceled. 

Which is why it's so funny that I ever managed to get knocked up! 

Now I can look back at those younger days and laugh at the fact. Well, the fact that both of us survived mostly. 

30 July 2012

Bonjour! Parlez vous 'Mathematics'?

About two years ago I began to seriously consider going back to school. My career in flowers was beginning to appear that I couldn't go much higher without opening my own shop and my experience with friends who had done that showed that getting a flower shop up and running successfully meant a time investment at the expense of my first priority: my family. This decision came to a head rather quickly when my job that I loved in a shop that I adored had to be given up so that the my family could fully commit to my daughter's education. I had originally tried to move down to part time and unfortunately it was a fit that didn't work for either of us. So now I had the time and the opportunity to get very involved with the unconventional school choice we had made for the kiddo. And it turns out, I loved it. I really, really loved being in the classroom. It nourished my soul to pour my energy into the class and it opened a door that I had never before considered. Realizing that I wanted to be a teacher came with the bone-deep certainty that I had only experienced as a new mother and a new wife. It was like discovering a whole new side of me that was so, so true to my authentic self.


The authentic new self has some pretty big obstacles to navigate before getting her own classroom.

Because if I am going to take on the challenge of a whole new career there was not going to be any compromising and I was picking the subject I loved come hell or high water. I was going to teach Biology. Whatever it took, that's what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. As a special bonus, the university program incorporates chemistry and environmental science into the teaching certification/degree. Hooray! Three career opportunities for the price of one!! I'm one hell of a bargain shopper. Oh, and there is just one teensy, weensy part I forgot to mention.
Math. A lot of Math.
And even more than just the idea of learning math was that I needed to learn it AND love it well enough so that I could teach it. And not just 'teach' it but get my students excited and involved with it in a way that I never was at their age. Oh yes, the paradigm has begun to shift. Because now I am old enough and wise enough not be defeated by something just because it is daunting. Labor is daunting and yet women keep doing it and the human race keeps going. No. Daunting was not going to kill my dream. My dream of having kids learning like little valued, intelligent mad scientists.
Because that is how the world gets better and I am so determined to do this. I don't have hyper-intelligence but I do have stubbornness and a positive attitude. So I am taking my fears in hand and am working on building a super positive approach to math. I am reading, doing a lot of reading and studying before classes start to shore up my rusty skills. My husband has been drilled into not saying anything remotely negative when math comes up in conversation. And I am treating it like a language. I am going to learn the language of mathematics.
There will probably be some swearing involved.

Mmm, sweet camera porn

Isn't it delicious? Here is my dream camera, the one, my love at first sight. I have never owned a medium format camera but it has been one of my lifelong aspirations and this is the rolls royce of medium format cameras. At a cost of over 55K it's still a bit over my budget. I briefly considered selling my child but I couldn't see her snagging more than 12K. She can be a handful. I guess I am also supposed to technically say I couldn't love this camera like my child... but that line isn't as cut and dry now that she is older and is fully capable of driving me insane. The camera would *never* do that. In case this seems a little extreme, it is obvious that you have never experienced some of the phase one capabilities. Below are some examples from flickr:
Upon owning this camera you will immediately have beautiful people clamoring to get naked for you. 
Pictures don't lie. 
Also, you become some sort of cyborg model from the future. 

Last but not least, animals will love you more. Look at the love in this dog's eyes people! It's like ten times the normal amount of love I get from my dog. It's the fifty five thousand dollar camera. It must be.

22 July 2012

An open letter to my Dad

So... I googled you today. It turns out you really don't have much of an internet presence. Which is funny, considering that in my mind your presence is comparable to encompassing the world in it's entirety. Yet, when I go to find you, the world takes scarce notice of your existence.

What does that mean?

I grow older and richer with life's experiences and it has been interesting to remember that you have played no part in that. Well, that's not true. Whenever I think a silly thought I hear it in your "chef" voice and can picture the t.v. chef you were imitating. Other times I am struck by a certain shade of yellow or a breeze of orange and am instantly transported to my child-self who delighted in crunching fall leaves as I walked beside you in the forest. My memories all hold a fascinating glow and you are the person who hold my attention. As if the world itself was revolving around you.

But it turns out that I am capable of making those big decisions that meant taking a good hard look at the person that is you. Understanding the person that I always imagined you were. And letting go.

It's funny that if we were to bump into each other at a gas station that we might not recognize each other. That my family would be as foreign to me as yours to me and yet we both carry some of the closest titles people can bear. Father. Daughter. Grandfather. Aunt.

What steps brought us here that might have been altered? Is there any redemption for us? Sadly, I really don't think there is. Funnily enough, it wouldn't be for myself alone that I would reject you. It would be for my child who has no concept of your place in my world. It would be for my husband who has had to pick up the broken pieces of me that your absence places in my heart. It would be for my younger sister whose wound from being abandoned has been an invisible pit she has had to slowly dig herself out of. It would be because you know none of this. You know none of this yet you are the architect.

My own turning point came in the form of my husband. It came in the form of a man that I know would never, never absent himself from his daughter's life except in death itself. That our own relationship is independent of his devotion to her. That she would never know what I know. That her father could start a whole new family and leave behind the children who are no longer convenient to his new life.

This letter might strike you as angry, but truthfully it is not. Lacking emotions was the greatest gift to come of our estrangement. A couple of years ago I was struck by the random realization that I had, or have really, no idea if you are still breathing or not. This thought brought nothing to me. No desire to attempt to reattach our connections, no frantic leap into the internet to prove the idea wrong. Nothing. It held the same importance as a flood in Zimbabwe or a coup in India. Surely it must be important but the effect on my life is negligible. Is my apathy a defense mechanism? Or is it just the natural evolution of human relationships that no longer impact your life?

So why did I google you tonight?  Honestly, it came after randomly wondering how a couple of my ex's were getting along. I was wondering if any had started down the path of parenthood yet and was just curious. When I started thinking about parenthood you came to mind.

This letter really won't ever reach you even if it's online. I know this because one day not so long ago you encountered my husband and didn't even recognize him. He recognized you though. So I know that you don't know my married name or even who I am married to. It's likely you wouldn't recognize your granddaughter's name since the last time you heard it was the day she was born.

And really. That's ok.

17 July 2012

Why Technophobe Geek?

     Well, the Geek part is really simple. I am one! Though that was not something I would have admitted to before getting hitched. Sure, I may have been really into broadsword fighting in high school but it wasn't something to be *talked* about. Oh, and I could be into the X Files and Star Trek but only late at night with no one to witness it. All those sci-fi books I may or may not admit to owning but somehow lined my bookshelves. Those teen and early adult years being obsessed with looking obsessed with everything "normal" came to a fantastic, crashing halt after finding someone with who I could really, really be myself with. Instead of feeling ashamed of my true geeky interests I was suddenly able to embrace them. They had always been there and now I could wear them proudly because I began to learn that that's where my genuine pursuit of happiness lay. Because really, who was benefitting from my denial? Not me, that's for sure.

    The Technophobe part is a little trickier. My husband is a techie in the full sense of the word and my day is filled with smart phones, iPads, iMacs, etc. Yet I personally am usually deeply suspicious of new personal levels of technology. Our home television is set to off 90% of the time and we don't subscribe to cable. I really do think that we can be Too connected and that it's important to unplug from all the devices around us to avoid missing out on the present world around us. It is very easy to tune out on the internet but I want my life to stay tuned in. This is largely driven by being a parent to an energetic and smart little girl who would love nothing more to be just like her daddy and spend endless hours on a computer. I want her to relish nature, other people, and to be mentally present to all of these amazing experiences around her.  So in our house I am technology police for both husband and daughter. Shutting off the television and reminding dad to put his phone away for a while and to have both of them come be a part of this great family we are making together.

We're live in 5, 4...

Welcome weary traveler to the birth of my brand new blog! Unlike human birth that should be kept behind as Many Closed Doors as possible. This little spot on the internet will be dedicated to sharing my own personal journey starting now.

So my promise to myself is to bring honesty and humor to all the little adventures that get shared. Hopefully we'll find others who want to join in! I'll be writing in between school work and family life and hopping on to share things I need to vent/laugh off, common absurdities and things I find interesting.

Here we go!