Halfway, Kentucky

I made it out to Kentucky last week for a few days to meet with some colleagues there working on some fancy projects. It was a good trip, and, though I missed my dogs, I am glad I went out. It was a refreshing trip and, though it was for work, I was able to get in some sight-seeing via taking the scenic route through the mountains of NC and TN. Somehow, no matter where I’m at mentally and emotionally, driving through the mountains with the windows down and the radio on always does something for me spiritually. I especially enjoyed some of the sights. I got to see beautiful farmland and rolling hills on my drive, accompanied by the occasional nuclear tower (or NUKE-YOO-ler if you prefer).


I also enjoyed some of the town names, such as Half Way, KY. Once I made it to Owensboro, I was treated to some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. I also learned that the preferred meat for BBQ in Kentucky is mutton. Different, but delicious! They take their BBQ seriously. As well as their banana pudding.



I like my new job, so this trip was enjoyable and not really a needed “break” from the office. More of a meet and greet since I’m new. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to go to work in the mornings and I feel like I can make a positive impact again. My previous job had started that way and gradually changed as my managers changed–this has a huge impact. I went from being able to work independently with a manager that trusted me to working for someone who barely trusted himself, much less any of his reports. This made work infinitely less enjoyable. Being trusted is a huge deal, and I am hoping to continue building relationships at my new job so I can continue being trusted. Not having it makes you appreciate it even more when you’re back in a situation where you are trusted again. It’s exciting, and I definitely work best when I’m not being micromanaged. They also are investing in my development via training and getting my project management certification. Maybe even an MBA in future if I am so inclined.

I haven’t been posting as much, but it’s mostly because I’ve been working on getting my house organized and I’ve actually been enjoying it. The garage is able to contain my car now! Not just boxes! And I’ve been doing some gardening. Mostly container plants so I can take them with me next time I move. My muscadines are filling out nicely and seem to be enjoying running their tendrils over the rough back fence. My peony is going to bloom anytime soon, which is fantastic–I love the giant, bright fuchsia flowers of the Karl Rosenfield. In the future, I’d love to get some darker red varieties and some yellow ones. I also re-potted all of my succulents to give them new dirt. Love the pale green of those. So visually soothing.

I have lost about 10-15 pounds in the last few weeks, as well. It’s slow going, but I’m trying to take better care of myself. Mostly because last year was kind of a shit show for my emotional health which always makes me stress eat and gain weight. It also helps to be back in warmer weather since I am more motivated to get out when it’s not always icy. After a few months now, I know even more than ever that I made the right choice to start this new adventure. For myself and for the dogs. They love it here, too. The city is quirky and I’m still learning about the area, but everyone has been very friendly and helpful. I have met more interesting people in the past few months through work and made some new friends.

My most common emotion these days is grateful. I have a job I enjoy and I’m closer to family now. I have a new nephew as of last week. I have planned time to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen in years. I am taking a vacation this year for the first time in a long time. I also will get to travel to some interesting places for work and continue learning. Maybe after some time I’ll even contemplate dating again. Crazy, I know!

“I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married but Ohio don’t remember me

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know”

“Well I want you as you are
Not some collapsing star
I’ll wait I’ll wait for good
What else can I do

I don’t want you as a ghost
I don’t want you as a fading light
I don’t want to be the weight you carry
I just want to be the man you come home to every night”

“Well I looked my demons in the eyes
Lay bare my chest
Said do your best
To destroy me

See I’ve been to hell and back
So many times
I must admit
You kinda bore me”

 

River Rocks

I found Ricker’s Hard Cider, a delicious treat from Turner, Maine, during my grocery shopping today. It went nicely with the sweet and spicy baked chicken legs I created for dinner. Yes, created. Like from my mind parts. With no recipe. They are tasty! I would’ve taken a picture, but I was too busy getting all gross eating them. Normand assisted by licking my hands off right after. She’s good like that.

This week has been strange. Not bad, just strange. I have been excited about some things, sad about others and oscillating betwixt the two. My tendency is to barrel into everything I do, head first, like a freakish tornado of enthusiasm and idealism. Knowing this, I have been trying harder to stop myself. To be more thoughtful about my choices and about my reasons for doing things. It is harder than it sounds, and I do struggle with being self-aware during my more manic moments. This is easier to do at work since I have more restrictions and guidelines. On my own, though, it can sometimes be a free-for-all when I sink my teeth into an idea.

I have been trying to watch less TV and read/write more in that recovered time. It has been going well, but people do look at you oddly when you tell them you haven’t seen the latest episode of whatever. Although, in my case, they’re usually already looking at me oddly for a wide assortment of other reasons. In talking with some acquaintances, I keep coming back to the realization that I’m not on the same “path” as most of my cohort. Some of them are sure to remind me of that, as if it were something shameful or embarrassing. I don’t choose to think of it like that, which seems to infuriate some of them. Like I am a challenge, with a trophy given for when I can be brought back around to doing things “the way things should be done.”

Thinking about it, I am a relatively flawed individual. I oscillate between healthy living and bad habits according to my mood that minute. I latch onto emotionally unavailable people easily and prostrate myself until I forget who I am on my own. I self-isolate and make excuses for not connecting with people, and, in the same breath, get angry that I am not connected. I get impatient about the weirdest things, sometimes projecting my desires years into the future without acknowledging the reality that we really only have today. I am too easy on people when I should be hard and I’m hard on people when I should be softer. I am great at starting multiple projects and awesome at never finishing the loose ends. I judge people for their affluence or their elaborate emotional support systems when, really, I harbor some jealousy. How could they possibly ever appreciate anything? They’ve never had to struggle for anything! But that is not my place and it is not so simple. They struggle in other ways, ways I likely will never know or understand.

So, I could try sticking to something for longer than a week. Or only give my affection to those that give it first. Remember who I am and find new ways to connect to others. Stop projecting. Accepting. Learn how to better “speak softly but carry a big stick.” Finishing a project, even a small one (blogging for more than a month counts, right?). Minimize my judgments and allow the comments of others to flow over me. Water over river rocks. Not be afraid to be my own kind of strong and encourage others to be theirs. This is what I desire.

A few years ago, I went out with two friends after a really awful day. We got food and booze and took it back to our apartment. After a couple of drinks I decided that instead of venting about how awful our lives were (a common thing for us in grad school), we would go around and each give a good, long “rant” about something amazing in our lives or something really meaningful to us. After only a few rounds, we were in a delightful haze of good memories and hilarious stories. Even now, with a good job and much less stress, I relive that night with an even greater appreciation. With distance, I can see now how that one particular night changed me. I want to get back to that night, in spirit at least.

“This is never gonna go our way
If I’m gonna have to guess what’s on your mind
Say something, say something,
Something like you love me
That’s you wanna move away
From the noise of this place”

“Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
Don’t let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there’s a strength that lies

Don’t let your soul get lonely child
It’s only time, it will go by
Don’t look for love in faces, places
It’s in you, that’s where you’ll find kindness
Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now”

“I’ve made some friends, and I’ve lost some too
Crashed my car, I was 17
My mother in the seat riding next to me
The things I’ve learned from a broken mirror
How a face can change when a heart knows fear
Through all the things my eyes have seen
The best by far is you

If I could fly
Then I would know
What life looks like from up above and down below
I’d keep you safe
I’d keep you dry
Don’t be afraid Cecilia
I’m the satellite
And you’re the sky”

 

Edge of Twenty-Eight

I have been in sort of a funk. I think it will get better with some sunshine and vitamin D. I have been on a huge Stevie Nicks kick this last week. Well, and AC/DC and reggae fusion. My brain is weird. But they all help the lab work go by super fast.

I got to spend my Easter with some friends and their family, which was quite entertaining. It was nice to get out and visit people outside of work. I am grateful that I have friends here that not only accept me, but aren’t afraid to bring me home to be part of their personal lives. It does mean a lot, especially when you don’t have a support system nearby like most of my coworkers. I am also glad that they all have such great senses of humor.

Today was my 28th birthday. Not sure how to feel about it, really, or if I feel much about it at all. It was a busy work day, but good. But I haven’t really ever felt my age. I think it may be one of those things where I will one day feel MORE my age. Like growing into my actual age. Or not. Who knows. I guess it is important to acknowledge anniversaries whether or not we have some emotional attachment to them.

I found out that a dear old friend will be able to meet me in May at our vacation house on the beach. I am looking forward to that more than anything–it’s the most excited I’ve been in a long time. Maybe it’s the idea of reuniting with someone that really gets me. Someone that has seen me through my worst and still loves me. Someone that I don’t have to hide anything from at all or be afraid that they’ll reject me. It’s  easy to take friends for granted and lose touch, so I can’t wait to catch up.

I am thinking of taking a trip sometime later this year. Not sure where yet, but somewhere fun. A trip for myself. I need some space from both Maine and Georgia to recalibrate.

“Well, he seemed broken hearted
Somethin’ within him
But the moment
That I first laid
Eyes on him
All alone on the edge of seventeen”

“Your world keeps spinning and you can’t jump off
But I will catch you if you fall, I can’t tell you enough
I hate to hear that you’re feeling low
I hate to hear that you won’t come home

Why, should we care for what they’re selling us anyway
We’re, so young girl and you know

You don’t have to be there babe
You don’t have to be scared babe
You don’t need a plan, of what you want to do
Won’t you listen to the man that’s loving you”

“My mind won’t rest
and I don’t sleep
Not even in my dreams…

If you ever did believe,
for my sake…
If you ever did believe…”

 

My latest playlist tunes for super awkward lab dancing at the centrifuge:

Layering

“Love is giving someone the ability to destroy you, but trusting them not to.”    – Suzanne Wright

We all layer every day. You may not think much of washing up then putting on clothes and  jackets before getting into your car. It’s all layers, really. We also layer ourselves mentally and emotionally in accordance to our surroundings and the people present. We adapt our language, mannerisms and posture to those around us without really thinking about it. We might give a quiet chuckle with work colleagues and a hearty guffaw with our closest chums. Layers.

“No one will ever love you as much as I do, ” was one of the last things one of my exes said to me. The same person was also physically and emotionally abusive. So, for a long time, I equated love with pain and sadness. I also judged myself as not having value as a person because the only love I garnered came with a price tag of sorts. I built my whole layering system around pushing everyone away and building up walls. Even close friends didn’t make it to my inner circles for fear of the pain they had potential to cause. I assumed that I was unlovable and, therefore, should keep quiet and do my time. That happiness was something for other people. I didn’t get that channel with my sub-par rabbit ears.

I was able to keep this up for several years before I realized that I was so lonely when I didn’t really have to be. It took a few really great friends to help me see my value. That I was worthy of friendship and love and other good things in life. I came to understand that I had been in my own way all along. It wasn’t that the world was out to get me or that I was worthless, but that I needed to be more open. I needed to invest and be willing to take chances.  To do the hard things. To make meaningful changes over time, no matter how small. If I was able to be my own source of calm and “serenity now,” others would see it and want to be part of it. I found peace and I could sleep at night. I was able to get off of antidepressants and start to FEEL things again, both good and bad. But, oh the joy of feeling life again!

I decided that when I finished the Atlanta chapter of my life that I would use those lessons when I moved here to Maine. I could shed my old skin and start new. This would be a good change–a chance to flex my layers. A chance to let new people in and take some risks. Make friends. Teach. Volunteer. Even fall in love. I have had some successes and some failures. It has not been painless. I feel like I am still growing. Far from perfect, but growing all the same.

My choices are to either return to my fortress of solitude or to shed some layers, taking the bad along with the good. Give myself to the mud in the hopes that I can someday grow into a lotus flower.

Banananana Bread and a Brontosaur

Update on Phase 3! It is no longer Phase 3! We have successfully made it to Phases 4 and 5, 4 being “Lookie! Lookie!” and 5 being a combination of “Awww” and “WTF is that?” (common sentiment I have with most newborns). Thus far, our experiment has yielded one blue alien creature, a lovely brown and yellow lizard and even a delightful baby brontosaur!

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While I’ve been catching up on my Criminal Minds and Backstrom episodes today, I HAVE managed to be somewhat productive by finishing some laundry and baking some banananana bread. I used this recipe.

Best Bananananana Bread

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 bananas, finely crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and crushed bananas.
  3. Combine well.
  4. Sift together flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla.
  5. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
  7. Keeps well, refrigerated.

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Ugly loaf, yes. Moist deliciousness? Oh yeah. I’m sure there are other great recipes out there, but this is one of my faves since it comes out soft and keeps well in aluminum foil for several days.

Peas and Quiet

So, more snow today. Others complained quite vociferously, but I find it invigorating to have to shovel everywhere I go. Like your everyday route becomes an obstacle course. And feeling the car float on the parts of the driveway still deep in snow is always riveting.

Upon arriving at the abode, I found that the sleepy puppy wasn’t keen on the windy snow and we both retreated back to the warm heater. I did whip up a tasty split pea soup, but since it’s the color of baby urp, I’ll refrain from displaying it here.

In more exciting news! When I went to the kitchen staging area, I found a new turn of events in Phase 3!

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If we look a bit closer….

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………..

………..

………..

 

This is the only way to express how I feel about this part of Phase 3:

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God, I hope it’s not a raptor. I must now get some rest before Phase 4 begins. I may need to aid the creatures by gently removing pieces of their egg-shell and cooing at them like a psychopath.

Also, I will be featuring a special guest star in my next entry! One of my favorite persons!

Alien Eggs and a Gummy Bear Coma

Today was loads of entertainment, none of which had anything to do with the Superbowl. Squash and I went to get breakfast (eggs, ham, grits, ham, ham and delicious fried apples for me!) and then made a random visit to the Christmas Tree Shop (CTS) to observe their sundries. We were not disappointed today. Among our found treasures were water-assisted hatching “Alien Eggs” and a marvelous brand of gummy bears that has twelve legitimately distinct flavors!

First adventure was the Alien/Dinosaur/Lizard/Duck Egg Experiment. Amusing! Funny! Novel!

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Observe, alien/dinosaur/lizard/duck eggs in Phase 1 (removal from shipping materials, prep of water bowls and randomization performed by Squash to make me less biased when making later observations on the individual species):

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Phase 2 consisted of dropping the eggs quickly into the water bowls, care being taken to ensure their full submersion:

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Now, onto the most exciting phase, Phase 3:

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……………:

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……………still Phase 3:

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………….(heavy breathing)……..:

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Checking the shipping materials, we learned that for Phase 3 there is an incubation period  of 12-24 hours:

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So…my update on Phase 3 status and completion of subsequent phases will be delayed until a later date.

During Phase 3 buffering, we enjoyed these marvels:

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Albanese World’s Best Gummi Bears! Squash first discovered these on a previous adventure to the CTS. I was initially skeptical. Though I love gummi objects, I am often unimpressed with their muddled flavors and poor overly-hardened texture. However, these were a delightful change! So soft and chewy and twelve great flavors in each package! Definitely try these if you find them or order them from their website (you can also order whole bags of individual flavors and sugar-free items!).

I am curious about the Giant Gummi Rattlesnake:

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Over a foot of gummi deliciousness!

For now, I continue to monitor Phase 3’s progress……:

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Maybe if I watch them more closely….

To be continued.