Well it’s just sort of rude if she gets all dressed up and we don’t take her picture, no?
I consider the fact that my brain has stopped obsessing about the ex every minute of the day to be a major milestone. Seriously, I would roll out of bed and as soon as my brain fog would drop, the obsessive thoughts would creep in. I’d walk to the shower, “what is he doing right now? Is he sleeping? Is he up? Where will he go today?” I’d step out the door and walk down my stairs, “Where does he live? Is it a walk up? Does he hate his roommate? Is it a girl? Does his roommate hate him?” I’d walk to work, “Is he thinking about me? Does he care where I am? Is he working? How is he paying rent? What is he wearing?” I’d be at work, “zzzzzzzz” I would walk home from work, “This sky is the shade of his favorite color.” “Is he going out tonight?” “Does he flirt like he did when we were together?” “Are his friends so happy I’m gone?” “Does he get consistent knobbers each weekend from trashy immature girls?”
Now it’s nothing. When I think now, it’s not thinking the thoughts, it’s thinking how I don’t think them anymore. It was as if the switch got flipped and I didn’t know it. It feels like it happened over night, but it obviously didn’t. It is so weird. It’s no coincidence that this improvement in mood and brain function aligns with Spring. That first warm day, that first little baby green bud, that first walk to work where all I could smell were the cherry blossoms – my heart shook off another layer of hurt, and this I could feel.
And this is where I have to look back on some of the things I promised myself I would do to figure out who I am (or who I lost), the things I would do to improve my life, the things I would do to make myself happy, the things I would do to be kinder to myself, with the result being a more whole person with her own interests and life to offer. I think I’ve been pretty good to myself: I’ve tried to keep up with this blog, I’ve been shooting almost every day thanks to a lovely little friend who has a fashion/lifestyle blog. I’ve begun writing about food for another friend’s incredibly awesome blog that I will probably out soon enough. I’ve been going to church every Sunday, but not the church you’re thinking of: BOOT CAMP. It’s outside around NYC and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. A handful of us gather rain or shine and trounce around the playground that is Manhattan. It is taught by a great friend of mine whose brand is all about being good to yourself and your body. She doesn’t bark and abuse you into more burpees, she encourages and applauds. At the end of it, she instructs us to use the final run as meditation and focus on something that could be holding us down or holding us back – and through that run, we have to let it go. Release that weight and not let it back in. It may take a few meditative runs to shake it fully, but it’s an emotional moment.
I feel good. I survived the winter depression, I survived the big holidays, the lame holidays, the non holidays, my birthday, weekends, weeknights. I survived all of this and I’m happy today because of the most important goal I put in front of myself: To embrace my girlfriends. To spend time with the women in my life that mean so much to me (and to not waste time on people that don’t offer anything positive to my psyche) has been the most enjoyable and enriching change to my life.
Spring ahead indeed
It’s beautiful in its simplicity. It is fresh, it is drinkable it’s that good. And the love you put in it is the most important ingredient.
What you need:
- 2 jars of my mom’s tomatoes canned from the garden
- 2 cans plum peeled plum tomatoes (NO BASIL. Do not get the kind with basil. Basil is sweet, and that is a no no in my tomato sauce world)
- 1 can tomato paste
- 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on size. I love me some garlic, so I always go 5. If you don’t want your guests to hate you because now they can’t make out with each other, go 3. If you don’t give a shit because, damn it, this is your sauce, go with 5)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Crushed red pepper (I added this, this is not called for in my madre’s recipe)
- Dried oregano
- Dried parsley
Get your 5 cloves of garlic and line them up like they’re buddies. Then, one by one, you give them a gentle smush, peel them and cut their butts off. My stepmom told me that when you cut their butts off they ooze their good garlic juices into the sauce without depositing chunks of garlic into the sauce. Place the naked garlic back together in a group of friends. Open the paste. Open the other cans. Now, I like to dump all of the canned tomatoes into a big bowl so I can cut all of their butts off. This is because no one wants to bite into a tough green weird tomato butt. Then, I like to squeeze them to break them into smaller pieces. This can get dangerous, I once squeezed a tomato spurt into my eye. So, you know, squeeze gently!
Ok, so pick your favorite pot. Yes, it has to be your favorite. I like to use a dutch oven because it makes cooking this sauce feel like an event, something special. Plop it over a medium flame and go around the pot bottom a couple of times with the extra virgin olive oil. I don’t coat it. You don’t want oily sauce. I don’t really wait long, I just plop the garlic in and let them dance around. I swirl them around the pot so they get oil all over their little bodies and then when they’re a bit opaque (DON’T BURN THE GARLIC!) I add the tomato paste. Brown it. This is the key to good tomato sauce, and it is apparently the Italian way. You can tell you’ve browned you paste when one, it smells friggin delicious, and two, it’s no longer that freshy fresh looking red, it’s a little deeper, browner I guess.
Slowly blorp the tomatoes that you previously squeezed around into the pot. If you don’t do this slowly, you’ll see why you should have done it slowly. Stir it up from the bottom so that the paste isn’t just lazing there, burning like a jerk. THEN! Take your oregano and “dut dut dut” it around the sauce until it is nearly covered in oregano. Then, take the parsley and do have the amount of duts of that over the oregano. You don’t want a ton of parsley, it gets odd. Now, of course, you can add wine if you want. I sometimes do, I sometimes don’t. Sweet wine is a big fat no. Sprinkle the crushed red pepper on top of the parsley.
I wait until the sauce starts it’s first bubbling before I give it that first stir. And once that happens, I stir in all the green goodness, turn the stove top schnozzle down to low and let that simmer for 3 hours.
And I’m telling you, it’s magical.
My dad has pissed me off many times with his answer to what he wants for Father’s Day: “To be left alone” I get him now though. As you get older the attention and the stress that others feel and project around you trying to do something for you becomes stressful itself. I am my father’s daughter in many ways. I’ll tell that really bad joke over and over to the same audience no matter how many times they’ve heard it (“So what happened? How did he die?” Me: “Death got ‘im?”).
And, I think I prefer to be left alone. When my brain gets so itchy with too many thoughts of what I’m doing with my life, why I’m not interested in pursuing love again, why I fail on execution on so many things (but let me tell you, to be fair, that list is really long, and I have ticked a few items off) – when that itch consumes me, I think I’d rather be left alone.
The past three weeks my head has been infected with thoughts of the ex. I didn’t realize it was because our stupid anniversary is coming up. A day he never gave much of a shit about anyway (like my birthday, Wednesday, and waking up with me), but an annoyingly significant day now. I miss him, man. A lot. And it’s hard for people who only know the hurt they witnessed to understand why I would want anything to do with him. He was my friend. I loved him. I still love him. I can’t reach out to him because I wouldn’t be able to properly deal with anything he’d have to say. I know he’s not for me, but if he said otherwise, I’m too weak to think it’s a bad idea. I know he’s not for me, but if he’s with someone else, my self worth and esteem is still too beaten down to not absorb that all internally. It wouldn’t kill me, but I think it would come close.
Anyway, this is actually a positive post, I promise.
That itchy brain? It was soothed last night because I have a roommate. I could have come home from dinner with Lizardbreath and just shut myself in my room like I wanted to, to just close up, but instead I plopped on the couch and listened to his dating stories and asked him if he thought that when dating at our age, if we can’t expect to feel giddy about someone, that we have to just be ok with someone being just ok. I mean, I already was lucky enough to have the giddy and I fucked it up. I got out that itch because it’s a big one. We talked for awhile about dating in our mid 30′s (or in my case, not at all). My roommate asks very honest and pointed questions that are uncomfortable to answer, but they’re like brain Benedryl. The itch gets a little less desperate when you just get that shit out. I admitted that I’m afraid (who isn’t, after getting hurt. I’m not a special snowflake here, I know this), I admitted that I feel like I’m not someone I think someone else will love. This is where I have to stop because you are not my therapists and I know that I need to take this crap to a professional, but for any of you out there who feel the same after a big heart break, there you go, you are not alone. But bloody hell, I don’t want to hang onto that anymore. I’m pretty lovable, someone has GOT to be out there looking for a weirdo just like me, right?
From the big roommate (we’ll call him Frankenstein from here on out) talk, we established I just need to rip the cliche band-aid off. I have this admittedly false view that everyone out there now is a gargoyle or a punishment for failing at love. It’s false and unfair and I just need to go on one date. One that I will no doubt come home from and cry like someone shot my family, but I’ve got to do it.
And that conclusion, my friends, is why when you feel most like isolating yourself, you’ve got to find others to be with. I am so lucky to have Frankenstein every day. This entire experience would be unbearable without him.
My brain itching was also soothed by this post, which I tried to comment on but I’m either in need of meds or the comment thinger is ferkakte. I really liked this one, too, which Caitlin tweeted about and I instantly bookmarked. It’s not what you think, read it.
This weekend I stuffed myself into a new pair of jeans and headed to Williamsburg, the Brooklyn neighborhood (I don’t know why I just wanted to call it a hamlet) my youngest sister calls home with her boyfriend. Their apartment is adorable – it’s full of personality and sunlight. It’s two fresh faced kids (no no, they’re adults of the younger variety) plowing their way through new jobs, big dreams, life questions, and the pressures of city living. They’re happy, they’re normal, they found themselves a charismatic roomy place to live and neighbors to help them when they almost set their sublet home ablaze. It’s so fun to watch them together, they’re just doing the life thing. I try not to fall into “I wish this was how I started my life in New York” spirals because no matter what, the path would have led here. And it’s not always about me. It’s about how they’re starting their life together. I love it. Love it nice. So is family.
I’m caught somewhere in between wanting to do it all again differently and wanting to start all over.
I wasn’t expecting to be overjoyed about my birthday, but I wasn’t expecting to be all moony about it either. Last night something triggered the lingering darkness and I just wasn’t able to get ahead of it today. In fact, I did the whole call the parents crying thing. I haven’t cried since before Christmas, so I guess it was due. I don’t want it to be due anymore. I don’t want to feel it. It just sucks, and I’m under it. I just need to make it through tomorrow and Friday and then I’m taking the train to my parents’ house to spend my actual birthday with them. It’s what you’re supposed to do when your heart hurts, you go home and you let your parents scoop you up. I hope to not be a sad sack.
When I was in high school I loved reading Men’s Health. I thought it was funny and irreverent. I liked the way a non Maxim magazine communicated to men. I was jealous because every Women’s mag communicated in that same cookie cutter way: “How to get him back!” “Ask yourself: Is it me?” “Just because your best friend has bigger boobs doesn’t mean she’s better than you” “…AND THEN THEY SAW MY TAMPON STRING!!!” Yes, there was Sassy, but come on, we can all admit it now – it was trying to hard to be the anti-lady mag. No way in hell was I going to deconstruct a basketball and wear it with stirrup pants. And remember when they covered raves? Yeah.
Anyway, in college I got it into my mind that I wanted to start a women’s magazine that was going to focus on real shit like somehow managing to find silence when you’ve got two kids in a condo. Or meals that taste gourmet, but don’t include gold flecked badger butter than you can only find at Satan’s Organic. I slacked. And now there are fun sites like TheGloss.com and others that have become caricatures of themselves and print mags are dying.
This is probably part of why I started blogging a million years ago in the first place.
Well, you would think that by now ladyparts mags would have evolved to cut the teehee speak and add in more of what I like about the way dudes talk to each other. NOT SO. And to double down on the NOT SO a lot of women’s mag have an “Ask The Guy” section. Because, you know, we can’t trust another woman’s opinion, a guy will tell it to us straight. I discovered such a section when I took one of the free magazines that show up at work home with me. And since I wake up at 8AM on the weekends now, I read through it. Are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. Ok – you asked for it.
From Women’s Health “Ask The Guy Next Door” [I wish you could see my rage eyes while I type that]
“My boyfriend talks about himself compulsively.[TRANSLATION: I am dating a douchebag, and when we started dating, I was turned on by his burly confidence and girthy wang] How can I encourage him to ask me more questions?” -[some timid hot girl with self esteem issues BECAUSE SHE KEEPS DATING SELF ABSORBED DOUCHEBAGS.]
“Stop acting so interested. Seriously. A monologue is nothing without an audience…Tune him out or don’t respond when he finally stops talking…He’ll be looking for a way to fill the silence, which is when you might [MIGHT] casually remind him that, oh yeah, you’ve got a thing or two worth talking about as well.” – Matt Bean, the idiot neighbor.
Matt, I’m sure you’re a real gem in real life, but you basically just gave poor Dyan from Illinois the same advice that doesn’t work for herpes: ignore it and it will go away. And Dr.Ruth, feel free to chime in here, but isn’t straight communication the way? Since when is opting for NO COMMUNICATION better than just addressing it like adults? Oh…wait… are we still treating mean like fragile flowers that can’t handle our powerful crazy caveman adult recognition of an issue that needs solving?
This advice says to me “you don’t want to lose your man, right? Then don’t stop him while he’s blathering on about his pecs and conference room theatrics or he might start looking outside the relationship. No no, gently begin ignoring his stories, he will begin to wonder if you like him anymore and thus begin reacting like a scolded puppy. He may start looking outside the relationship because of neglect, but girl, won’t you feel better that it wasn’t because you were a confrontational bitch?”
Dyan, if you’re reading this because you’re the only person who spells it that way, thus you are the only one who received a Google Alert, my advice to you is to stop dating self centered douchebags. My stepmom taught me, and it has proven accurate, that everyone has their basic core already programmed. The other pieces that surround the core are malleable, can grow and change, but that core chunk of behavior – that shit will never change. Either accept it and keep him, or accept it and look for someone else.
One night, after one of my many manic trips to Westside Market for bags of things (DELIVERED!) that I probably didn’t need, I discovered my Parmesan wedge was wrapped and taped, but the white label had more words than I would expect on a cheese description. They were song lyrics. What I remember is feeling warm goose pimples pluck at my skin as the words I read perfectly captured my state of mind at that moment in time.
What I don’t remember are the words.
From that moment on, I kept an eagle eye on EVERYTHING that I bought from Westside. One cheese declared it was “packed by the INTURN” and I recall that piece sporting some fairly dark lyrics. My room mate and I were perplexed and I hoped that I was the only soul in nyc to make this discovery. “I’m going to blog about this!” I declared. But I didn’t blog about it.
Thanks to my friend, Quail, I found out The Gothamist did! Read about the Westside Market Cheesemonger, who I now have an intense, over the cheese counter love affair with. I’ve always watched him with amazement anyway as he lumbers around the tight corners and basket flinging west siders, arranging wedges, steadying towers, rolling a cheese log. He’s a salty dog, stout, with wild grey hair and a sour smirk. A salty dog. Now my mission is to hug him and also document all of my cheese inscriptions once I’m back on the good stuff again!
Quail’s Gothamist find lit up my heart today. I love that this man exists. I love that he’s at my favorite grocery store. I kind of feel like he’s mine.
The first homemade pasta sauce I ever had was my stepmom’s (label for categorization, not for less love). The smell of it bubbling for hours, the sprinkling of oregano, the times she let me taste it just to make sure – all are such wonderful comforting memories. It’s so simple and it’s never better than when it’s created from tomatoes she has canned from their garden. The first weekend I ran off to CT to try and repair myself after the big disgusting heart explosion I went into her basement and saw the Mason jars with Ball swirling over them lined up like soldiers. I wanted them. After standing there, barefoot, on the cold cement of the basement floor just staring at the rows upon rows of jarred tomatoes, I padded back upstairs and asked if I could take two jars home with me. Without hesitating, my (step)mom said, “of course, honey, you can take whatever you need.”
I needed to take her home with me, to my new place where I was still feeling so wrong. So I did. I carried those jars on the Metro North. I carried them through Chelsea. I carried them up my stairs and into my kitchen. And I made the sauce the way she taught me. And it was so warm, and so good. And it was what I needed.