Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to Leave a Little

I hate to waste food. Wasting food to me is what buying ice is to my brother-in-law Jim. I try to plan menus that will use what I have on hand; in fact, many dishes that have been described and photographed here were born of a desire not to waste, a trait I was born with--undoubtedly carried on the X chromosome inherited from my mother and modeled by her mostly in her soups. I won't give myself food poisoning or anything, but I will make a duxelle from mushrooms that are starting to "go," and pasta dishes and pizza seem to be a great place for veggies on the verge.

Leaving a two dollar container of mushrooms to rot in my refrigerator is wasting; leaving food on my plate is my new tool.

I have a kitchen scale, and I use it frequently. I measure out 28 gram servings of almonds and 3 ounce portions of ground beef. I use my measuring cups as frequently if not more. That is, I feel like I have gotten portion control under control and use tools to help me. So:

• portion control: √
• exercise: √
• healthy choices: √

Yet the scale isn’t budging.

(And the wine isn’t going away, so get over any silly notion you might have about that.)

So lately I’ve been trying to leave a few bites alone at the end of my meals. I figure a few bites at every meal will add up to a few meals eventually, and maybe I’ll start to see a difference.

A few bites of food I can leave alone. The wine that goes with? Fat Chance.

Don’t judge me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I was at Haymarket, and I think I know the very moment it happened, when I felt someone way too close, touching me, and I moved over to the side—out of the flow of foot traffic—after flipping him a dirty look, to check that my purse was still zipped. I didn’t know then that my wallet was already gone. By the time I figured it out, he (they? was the woman who stopped short working with the man that was at my back?)had already made it over to the Tufts Medical Center T stop and bought 3 T passes at $59 each. I wonder if they had already spent the 100 cash that I was carrying—uncharacteristically.

I know it could have been worse. Much much worse. They only got that hundred dollars cash and made those three transactions on my debit card before Visa sent up a fraud alert and blocked my card—the only card in that wallet. (I guess it becomes suspicious when someone tries to buy 4 subway passes. 3: not so much.) But there was only that one card. All the frequent shopper cards that filled the other slots in that wallet can be replaced. All my other cards— my license and credit cards and another ATM card— were in another little yellow leather ID holder at the bottom of my bag. I can’t imagine having to replace all of that, and I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t give in and give Liz that ID holder, as much as she wanted it. Simply because it’s yellow. All of my cards and license would have been stolen then, too.

I wasn’t held up, or hurt, and the financial damage was minimal in the grand scheme of things, but I was violated. At a place that has always been magical to me. On a weekend that was supposed to be perfect: celebrating Donna’s birthday in Boston.

I will relive that moment over and over again. I will second guess so much—why I went back to the market for berries instead of going back to the hotel, why I changed purses, why I had so much cash on me when normally I carry none—and I will wonder why it had to happen, why it couldn't have been the perfect weekend after all.

And I will be forever disappointed that Haymarket will no longer simply be that magical place it used to be. As soon as I stop being angry.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Photo Journal: A Good Night

No frills (or goat cheese) required.

Just add magazines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feeling Chef-y

I’d like to say I’m back, I’m out of my rut, that the 74 degree day we had on Friday helped me immeasurably, and that stepping out of my routine on Saturday sealed the deal and got my out of winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but it’s not that easy. Aside from the March snow that has since followed, I don’t want to jinx myself.

All I’m willing to say at this point is that I felt a little chef-y yesterday. Various ideas from my usual array of inspiring magazines and Food Network lineup and the new Trader Joe’s discoveries (steamed and peeled beets and individual goat cheese rounds) that were in my refrigerator culminated into a menu idea for me, by me.

For a creative person who hasn’t felt very creative lately, I know that taking the time to make a dinner that nurtured my body as it honored my creative soul is a step in the right direction. That much I can say. Oh, and in case you're wondering: yes, it was as delicious as it looks.

Salad course:
Arugula with beets and warm goat cheese crusted with rosemary focaccia breadcrumbs and walnuts
 and sprinkled with candied pecans

Main course:
Sauteed chicken in a lemon sauce with asparagus

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Would You Do?...

...if you walked into the teachers’ lounge and found a platter of donuts sitting there…on a Monday morning…and you love donuts but try very hard not to eat them with any regularity…although sometimes on a Friday you’d kill for one…or might even go looking around for one…(maybe).

You eat one, right?

Next question: If you eat it standing and no one is there to witness it, does it really count?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

[Heart] the Popcorn Combo

Akin to smell of roasting chickens that wafts right up your nostrils when you step foot in a grocery store, so goes the unmistakable scent of fresh popped popcorn upon entering Target. And whether you're looking at panini makers or panty liners it taunts you while you shop.

You make it to the checkout lines eventually and look over. There they are: those red bags adorned with white targets and a puffy yellow pile of popcorn behind the glass. You look up and see the sign: Popcorn Combo $1.50. And you want to kill the woman in front of you in line who has an item that requires a price check. But eventually you get there. You throw down the $1.59 for the bag of popcorn you can't wait to scarf in the car. But first you need to pour your own soda. Even though you don't really like soda. (Unless it's ginger ale with your vodka.) But you have to have it. The fizz and the acidity of caffeine enhances the salt burn on your tongue. And sends your hand back--over and over--into the bag that sits on the passenger seat on your way home.

You try to stop yourself at every stop light--not because you don't want to eat the whole thing but because you want to save some for the comfort of home. And maybe you're a little afraid that you'll be attacked by birds when you get out of the car and they swoop down to eat the crumbs and popcorn pieces that are everywhere, including your cleavage and your crotch.(Shoot, you forgot the pantyliners after all!) You roll the bag up. And open it again. Why stop now?

I [heart] the Target popcorn combo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Little Train That Could

March is typically the never-ending month in school: nary a holiday or a president’s birthday in sight, typically no snow days, and two weeks of CAPT testing (read: two weeks of discombobulation). All at the end of a long winter. This year it’s even worse.

This year, after the string of snow-on-the-roof days at the beginning of the February, and a winter vacation that had been snatched from us even before Mother Nature started her antics, February was long and difficult too. So let’s just say then that, between February and March, winter has felt interminable. And there have been days I didn’t think I could make it—without losing my mind, anyway. And even though it’s not over just yet, the end is close. Spring starts in 3 days.

And it stays light out until 7 pm now. (Even though it’s dark on my way to work.)

And I hear birds chirping in the morning. (Even though I still sometimes need to defrost my car.)

The fourth and final quarter of the school year begins on April 4, a mere two weeks away.

And when the last quarter starts, I’ll be able to say, My pool opens in two months.

My window is open now.

Choo choo! I think I can, I think I can, I think I can make it now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dear Tam

Thanks for your comment on my morning post wishing me a good day today. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

During my first period class I caught a kid cheating. So disappointing.

Then second period I discovered that someone—one of my students I assume—cut the cord of my my electric pencil sharpener. Like right cut right through the cord and cut off the plug. So that there’s no way of fixing it. There’s also not even a snowball’s chance in hell that I will spend another penny of my own money buying something anything for my classroom—never mind another 20 bucks replacing this luxury item that I purchased years ago. Let them stand there and crank away at the old school sharpener that hangs on the wall.

By third period I thought I should have stayed home. I thought my head was going to explode—more from my migraine than anything else, although I admit it was getting harder not to write a huge note on my white board: TO THE A**HOLE WHO CUT THE PLUG OFF MY PENCIL SHARPENER: F**K YOU! and to stay grounded in the understanding that not all my students are disrespectful this way. A majority are not, and I could probably name the few, the 8 or 10, who would do something like that….but even that’s depressing. Back when we were student-teaching ages and ages hence before that path diverged in the woods (haha, I don’t know why I decided to quote Frost there), do you remember having to deal with ANYTHING like that?

Oh my god, that just totally reminded me of that time Erika—remember her? I wonder what ever happened to her?—was in the office with her hippie sling bag smoldering. She had put her cigarette behind her back when someone came in the bathroom to haul her to the office and she didn’t know that her purse caught on fire. Well, not fire, but on smoke. And then as she sat on the bench waiting for the assistant principal, the secretary—Mary was her name, right?—saw the plume coming from the bag that was at her feet. Oh my. That was funny stuff. Did we ever laugh “our backs off” as you used to say. Oh, man!

Anyway…where was I?...

I guess it doesn’t matter. I’m home now, and I appears I’m [ahem] on the mend. Thanks for the laughs. And the continued support.

Love you!


In another life, even in one of the previous iterations of my own, I would pick up the phone this morning and leave my secretary a message.

Hi, it’s Joanne. I still have the migraine I left with yesterday so I won’t be in. Can you please reschedule my meetings with the printer and the graphic designer for any day next week? Thanks. I’ll check in with you later, but on the off chance I don’t: have a good weekend.

I’d hang up the phone and head back to bed and let the rain lull me back to sleep. In a couple hours I’d wake up with my migraine gone—fingers crossed—and have the rest of the day to relax.

In this life, I know I have one student coming in after school to make up a quiz and will probably have about a dozen students stopping by with questions about becoming members of the student group I advise.

In this life, or today anyway, it's easier to go upstairs, throw my hair in a ponytail and get dressed, and then fill a commuter mug full of coffee and grab some leftovers out of the refrigerator and go to school.  I'll remind myself all day that I have the weekend to rest, and I'll be glad that I’ve been changing up my routine and did my grocery shopping last night instead of waiting until tonight or tomorrow like I typically do. I'll reschedule my nail appointment and come directly home, rejoicing in the little victories. I hope.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In a Rut

I’ve made the transition from being a happy creature of habit to being in a rut. I’m restless. Bored. In a bit of a funk. I need more than my annual, non-surgical spring facelift. I’m not going to quit my job and go backpacking across the country or anything, nor would I do anything crazy like cut my hair and get rid of my nails, but my daffodils and new tablecloths and fish tacos aren’t working anymore. I used to be able to count on any and all of them for a quick-fix trick, but not this year.

I don’t just want to sit around and be miserable; I know some of this is within my control. I’m trying new things and trying to break out of old habits. I try not to stay in all day on Sunday; I actually leave the house other than to go to the gym. I got new glasses. Not for cocktails, but eyeglasses. I don’t always order the same thing when I go to my regular restaurant. Erika and Shannon have to ask what I’m drinking these days; no automatic cabernet pours for me! Woo hoo! And last weekend in Boston I tried two—not one, but two—new restaurants. And, and—get this: I walked out of Crate and Barrel without a buying a thing. Crazy, hu? Hardly.

I’m not looking for wild and crazy, though. I’m just trying to figure out what can help me out of this funk and make me a little happier than I am. Other than a remission diagnosis for Donna, that is.

That I know would definitely do the trick.
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