Recipe: My chai

July 30th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there are a million chai recipes, but this one is mine.

Kitcheree and chai

My Chai

Ingredients
3 c. water
2 c. whole milk
3 black tea bags
2 whole cloves
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground true cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 Tbsp.jaggery, or to taste

IMG_20140730_123223Method
Add all ingredients except jaggery to a sauce pan, bring to a simmer, being careful not to let it boil over and make a mess of your stove. Reduce heat and cook for about five minutes. Stir in the jaggery.

Strain and serve hot in large mugs. Enjoy!

Notes: For whatever reason, I rarely have ground cloves, so I use whole ones. If you have ground cloves, do use a pinch of them instead.

You can also use a chunk of fresh ginger, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks rather than ground versions of these spices, of course. This is just what I typically have on hand in my kitchen. You can use brown or even white sugar, but jaggery is so freakin’ delicious it’s totally worth finding some. If you don’t have access to an Indian grocery you can order it from Amazon.

In which it really doesn’t matter where you go, because there you are.

Recently, maybe within the past couple of years, the Inner Guru appeared. Or maybe, to put it another way, I became capable of delving into mySelf enough to hear what the seers tell us has always been there. Or by the Guru’s grace — certainly not through my own merit or work — I’ve gotten enough dust off the mirror.

I have no idea how this came to be, but there it is. I can’t even describe my wonder and gratitude nor how utterly close and familiar the Inner Guru is. It sounds exactly like my own thoughts, it just knows shit I don’t, and regularly, if I’m sincere about wanting to know, dumps very large, entire concepts into my skull too subtle to be codified in language. I’ll just be riding my bike with questions about how and why and what for, and BOOM, there it is: I now know something I didn’t a moment before. It’s heart-breakingly loving and sweet and awe-inspiring and miraculous, and other times I forget completely about it. Because I’m human. Which is to say, my ego is still ascendant enough to make it impossible to sustain the wonder that will eventually destroy it.

I work retail in a gigantic industrial building with concrete floors and beeping forklifts and cutting equipment and horrible lighting and multiple incoming lines that ring incessantly. It’s a mile away from my apartment, over a giant interstate overpass not really designed with pedestrians in mind, and I often have to walk both to and from work, as well as untold miles inside the building each shift. I’m in my mid-40′s and my feet never stop hurting and don’t seem at all inclined to acclimate to my non-desk status. My bicycle has a flat tire and I don’t have access to a compressor — well, I do if you count that gas station a mile away in the opposite direction, but I’m not inclined to walk the thing that far to fill it up only to discover it’s a fast leak.

Anyway, I’m being scheduled more hours than I want and my feet hurt and the roads are scary and indelicate and the job is loud and indelicate and I’m exhausted all the time and my brain is buffeted with noise and the ugliness of modern American values and my ego is all up in this trip about how much I’m suffering and how I’m not comfortable and not getting what I want but truth be told I actually like the job when I’m doing it and a lot of the people seem really great and there’s climate control and anyway you have to do something and I’m working on my humility and getting to serve and I’m trudging my tired aching body down these sidewalks on my way to a job I don’t want to go to that’s just going to make me more sore and more tired and more wiped out from the sheer volume of input and I’m spinning around and around in my head just trying to solve this whole suffering thing because it’s not lost on me that these are truly first world goddamned problems and finally about halfway across the overpass in the hot sunshine and choking exhaust I just give up and ask, “How the fuck do I feel better? What do I do?”

And the Beloved within promptly replies with, “Sit here [and on "here" there's the indication of the heart center], and let the organs of perception and action operate themselves.”

Sit in the heart and witness. Let perception and action do themselves. There are, after all, entire laws of nature that define their behaviors. You are not them. They are not you. Let them do what they do. Understand?

Well, yeah. I do. Sort of. I do know that. Or I know about that, which is not the same thing, of course. I’ve read the Gita dozens of times, in as many different translations. But I still don’t know what the fuck the three gunas really are. Or what my dharma is. I mean, lower-middle-class white chick who drinks and sleeps a lot can’t be Dharma, can it? Even in Kali yuga it seems unlikely.

And so I’ve been trying to do that for a couple of weeks now. Trying and trying. Trying to figure out how replicate that spacious, contented silence I experience around Amma, thinking a lot about dispassion and what it really means, trying to quit bitching at my boyfriend about my feet and my fatigue and irritation at being scheduled 35 rather than 20 hours a week (because I really do believe you should treat your lover better than the strangers that are your customers and coworkers), trying to step back from my identification with and habit of having preferences that are, essentially, random and irrational. Doing japa and trying to serve and trying, just trying. And suffering at the jitteryness of it, like a radio station out of range, at my inability to not feel so sorry for myself.

Remember Ram Dass? That book Be Here Now? I bought a used copy at Powell’s Books when I was in my early 20′s. It was even signed. I enjoyed reading it, and kept it for a really long time because I thought it brought me some kind of importance, having a signed copy of Be Here Now, for fuck’s sake, but really my main takeaway from it then was that drugs are okay and you need a guru but you’re not cool enough to, like, go to India and find one, because you’re provincial and you didn’t go to Harvard like all these LSD trippin’ Western devotees. I have no idea what I might take away from it if I were to re-read it now, beyond nodding energetically at the part where he says the guru comes when the devotee is ready. Hell, I’ve still never gotten to India, but Mother came to me.

Well, Ram Dass is still writing and still pointing the way, even after a stroke. I bought Polishing The Mirror and read it and the advice to just sink into Self, to just keep gently coming back when you lose your shit, reminded me of something really important. Mainly that YOU ARE NOT DOING WELL, LITTLE SEEKER, WHEN YOU ALLOW YOUR EGO TO CONGRATULATE YOU FOR STOICALLY ENDURING YOUR SUFFERING. You’re not purifying, you’re not burning karma, you’re just feeling smug that you have decided — because that’s what happened, you decided — you’re miserable and you’re not bitching about it. Is this really a good use of time? Of your life?

And today I had to get up earlier than I wanted to, and when that irritation started I just sank below it, didn’t judge it, just sat in my heart and let it be. And my feet still fucking HURT but instead of thinking “my feet hurt” I just observed that there was pain and that it was okay and I didn’t have to engage my ego in having preferences about it, I just let it be what it was. And I kept gently returning to the heart while doing my morning stuff of coffee and eggs, and didn’t get involved with the whole OH MAN I REALLY DON’T WANT TO GO TO WORK AND I’M TIRED AND MY FEET HURT AND I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT AND WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME THAT I CAN’T GET A JOB MORE FITTING FOR A 45-YEAR OLD TECH WORKER, even though I certainly tried to get involved, oh fuck yes I did, habits die hard, and I sat in the heart while walking to work and didn’t do the martyr thing (much), and the weather was gorgeous and I nearly got lost in the flowers I don’t think I’ve ever even seen before in front of that giant Alianz building even though I’ve walked down that long block dozens of times. And at work I tried to see the souls inside the humans I interacted with rather than the meat.

And it was much less tiring. I mean, my hips and feet still hurt, but I’m just letting that exist rather than investing in it. It just is. And I came home and took a nap. And I have the next two days off to be quiet and NOT WALK TEN MILES IN SIX HOURS. And I had a few moments of really deep light and love, just walking around in the biggest of the big box stores doing my little job/doing my little practice/being here now/sitting in my heart, witnessing, letting the organs of perception and action operate themselves.

I mean, it’s not continuous, but it turns out you don’t try to do it, you just Yoda that shit. When you realize you’ve stood up, SIT BACK DOWN. IN THE HEART. That’s it. No judgement.

There are some great meditations in the book. There’s an expansive meditation that’s really great (reminds me in part of the original IAM technique), and the one on the breath I’m doing like japa, of course, because I rarely ever formally sit for meditation but tend to just do the techniques that attract me while engaged in activity, which Ram Dass actually discusses — maybe some of us just are spiritual debutantes by nature. I mean, it’s never been lost on me that it’s better to dig one deep well to get the water rather than a hundred shallow ditches, but I’ve never been able to want regular formal practice even though I would self-describe with utter sincerity myself as having been applying practices in earnest in non-formal ways at least since I meet Mother, if not long before (albeit in stumbling, sophomoric ways). I even ask Mother every year to help me keep a formal practice, and the desire just doesn’t arise.

But years ago I prayed to always be reminded to do japa, and my prayer was answered. There were many, many little nudges to do japa. Now it goes on by itself half the time I’m awake. It’s often going when I drift off or wake up. I also have a little thing I do to sort of… wipe thoughts away, but I don’t know how to describe it. It just occurred to me at Amma a couple of years ago, and when the mind-thing is just freaking out and chattering and not being at all useful I can wipe it clean. It’s often only for a split second, but that’s better than nothing. Especially when your head’s being a jerk.

And now I’m going to go drink wine and read period romances. Because I’m human. A human being, and a human doing. Dying the cloth, dying the cloth.

Om Namah Shivaya.


UPDATE: Here’s something I found today on meditation, and maybe it’s not always sitting with the eyes closed and the spine straight:

Fried foods

July 14th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Food | Whining | Work - (2 Comments)

In which there’s a snack orgy for Sunday dinner.

I worked all weekend, of course, because nobody gives a shit that I MOVED TWO THOUSAND MILES TO HANG OUT WITH THE GUY I LIVE WITH AND NOT TO WORK AT THE FUCKING HOME DEPOT. Working evenings and weekends sucks.

Yesterday evening my beloved came to pick me up from work at seven and then suggested we grab dinner from Chipotle since our coupon was about to expire, and that way nobody would have to cook.

As we were standing in the always-bafflingly-long line at the closest Chipotle restaurant, my beloved pulled out his phone and proceeded to show me a cheese and jalapeno samosa, which led us both to agree that we could sure go for some delicious Indian snacks…

…and then we left the line and drove to the Indian food store, where we bought five different kinds of frozen Indian snacks and two kinds of chutney — coconut and tamarind — to go with the mint chutney we had at home.

Then we came home and I fried a huge plate worth of samosas, pakoras, tikkis, and kachoris and we ate them for dinner. Indian snacks are fucking amazing. India’s been snacking for thousands of years and they have that shit DOWN.

And Oh. My. God., the aloo tikki is a puck-shaped tater tot stuffed with super spicy lentils and it’s AMAZING. Especially with mint chutney.

Oh, hey, I got Monday off.

July 7th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which there are unrelated things in a list format.

1 – Since blogs are dead anyway, I’ve returned to a klunky old theme I liked. I know it’s dated, but I’ve been blogging for 12 years or some shit and I can pull it off. I’ll probably never change the theme again.

2 – I made dal makhani yesterday, for the first time in my life. It was a project twelve or more years in the making, because I’ve loved the dish since the very first time I tasted it in an Indian restaurant in Fairfield. Urad dal, for the record, takes forever to cook.

3 – Snot. Ugh. #summercold

4 – I’m still applying for jobs whenever I’m home on a weekday. I hope the Universe decides to give me a nice, decent-paying, part time gig during normal business hours, because this retail bullshit sucks.

5 – I’m fuckin’ old. It’s so weird, the things my mind and body are doing these days.

6 – Our neighbor, Nita, gave us a plate full of homemade fried chicken and catfish!

7 – I want a coffee grinder but there’s basically no room left in the kitchen cabinets for adding additional items. I wish I’d followed my instinct and bought that funky $20 shelf thing from Goodwill that one time: it would have made an excellent microwave stand/cookbook storage/kitchen sideboard thing.

8 – I need to get my hairs did. Badly.

Shitty summer cold

July 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Health | Work - (0 Comments)

In which there are germs and self-pity.

Last night around eight I started to feel really icky. By ten I was passed out under three blankets on the bed. By twelve-thirty my beloved was force-feeding me Alka Seltzer cold formula. (Orange flavored and nasty. Like angry Gatorade.)

This morning I felt awful and called in sick to work. They were bummed because I was scheduled to close and they’re eternally understaffed, which is apparently deliberate and part of the business ‘model.’ Now my next check will be even shorter than it always is, because I make poverty-level wages. All of this sucks, but most of the other service desk associates have already called in sick on me, and I actually am sick, so I guess it’s a wash.

My throat itches. My sinuses hurt. My body aches. I’ve decimated a box of Kleenex. UGH, SNOT. Weirdly enough, my sense of smell is annoyingly strong and everything stinks. I thought I was going to have a fit when the grounds were mowed this morning and the scent of fuel wafted in through the open windows.

It’s beautiful outside. Green and mild and fantastic. Really gorgeous. And I have a malady better suited to October! I’m a huge baby and I want my money back.

I’m tired but can’t sleep. I’m hungry but feel too wiped out to cook. There are pans in the sink that need to be washed but the idea of standing there for 15 minutes makes me woozy. I want a mug of tea but there’s no milk. Somebody shoot me: I’m clearly made of stupid complaints.

My beloved came home on his lunch hour to check on me, and I only have a cold. He’s awesome.

I guess I’ll go try to read on the couch for awhile. Ugh. COLDS.

In which there’s THE BEST tomato soup recipe ever. You’re welcome.

There’s a recipe for homemade tomato soup online that’s written very strangely. It has half the necessary tomatoes and six times the olive oil and it confuses the hell out of people. I’m posting my adaptation of that recipe here, because prepared this way it’s my favorite tomato soup recipe evar!

Tomato Soup

Homemade Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

1 28 oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups broth (I use water and a Knorr bouillon cube, but you can use chicken broth)
1/4 c. white wine (I just use the cheap boxed pinot grigio usually in my fridge), optional
1 large bay leaf, torn
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tablespoons butter

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 450F. Strain the tomatoes, reserving the juice, and spread them onto a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

I don’t know if the roasting step is crucial to the deliciousness of this recipe or not, because I’ve never skipped it, but I do know it’s a good way to warm up the house on a chilly day. (I imagine you could roast the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic along with the tomatoes and skip the whole sauteeing step, below, but I’ve never tried that either.)

In a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic and sautee until softened.

Add the roasted tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, broth, wine (if using), bay leaf and basil. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the butter and stir until thoroughly incorporated.

Remove the bay leaf. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until very smooth. Return to low heat until desired serving temperature is reached, adjust seasonings as needed, and serve in warmed bowls.

Optional: For cream of tomato soup, reduce the broth by half a cup. Stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream after pureeing and reheat gently over a low flame.

In which standing is apparently much healthier than sitting but it hurts like a bitch.

While I really enjoy my new job as I’m doing it, my feet hurt, the pay’s lame, and the schedule is horrendous. Don’t even get me started on the noise and the horrible lighting and the concrete floors, or the fact that everything is a three-minute walk from the service desk.

I miss my old newsroom gig. Wonderful hours, a pay rate that wasn’t an insult, and a feeling of accomplishment. Not to mention the relative calm and quiet of the office itself.

I honestly can’t figure out why people who are smart enough to do the service desk job in the first place stay in it for so long when the hours, environment, and pay are so comparatively bad. One of my co-workers has been there for fourteen years, I think she said. Maybe she’s making thirty bucks an hour by now; I don’t know, but there’s no other reason to be there. I mean, the people really are great, but I’ve worked a lot of jobs and there are great people everywhere.

So, in a nutshell, my 20-to-29-hours-per-week part-time job is now 35 hours a week (HEY GUESS WHAT! YOU’RE P/T BUT LOL YOU WORK NEARLY F/T AND HAVE NO BENEFITS!) with weird, unstable hours, and my man and I have been eating restaurant crap for lunch rather than homemade food because I don’t have the time or energy to cook.

I ate lunch at a Panera the other day. Naturally I expected it to be a total carb explosion, but there was sugar in the dressing they used on my goddamned sandwich. The next day, I grabbed salad bar from the grocery store and though I avoided their sugar-laden salad dressings and used vinegar and oil instead, there was sugar in the fucking cowboy caviar! Why does a bean salad need fucking sweetener added?

“Not having time to cook” these days is basically identical to WORKING ON MY CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE because everything is fucking toxic with sugar and various other hidden refined carbs. It makes no sense. There’s sugar in the canned tomatoes we bought, and in the canned black beans. There’s sugar in the Paul Newman’s salsa. What the FLYING FUCK is wrong with the food industry? I’m pudgy because I keep eating potato chips and making bechemel sauce; I do NOT need sugar added to everything else I eat.

Anyway, the weather has been milder than I expected. It’s warm and humid, yes, but not as swelteringly hot as I thought it would be by now. I hope it never goes any higher than the 80′s. That’d be perfect.

Home

We’ve had tons of rain, though. Lots of spectacular storms with thunder and lightning and hail! Half the state is under water!

My Kindle Keyboard up and died last week, so I treated myself to a replacement Paperwhite. I love it! Amazon makes such cute devices with such adorable operating systems! (The Paperwhite syncs to Goodreads, though, which offends me. Amazon should have partnered with the far more legit and nerdy LibraryThing. Word.)

Kindle Paperwhite

The person I live with is wonderful and amazing and fantastic. I’ve literally never been happier. He’s the best thing ever. (He’s working too much lately, too. So grateful we’re taking 4 days off next week to go see Amma in Chicago next week.) I love love.

New Crocs

There were random flowers in the living room when I got home from work yesterday, and my man had done the dishes. Best partner ever.

Flowers

The first month

May 16th, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Work - (2 Comments)

In which I’m employed!

I’ve been here a whole month yesterday! Had two calls from the temp agency, but no assignments. So today I went for an interview with Home Depot and got offered a job on the spot! I went to apply for a part-time seasonal gig in the garden department, but ended up with a permanent part-time job at the service desk. Between 20 and 29 hours a week, just a mile away, buuuut at the absolute bottom wage I was willing to accept. The people seem pretty nice, though, and I think it’ll suit me well for the time being. I was hoping the temp agency would pan out, but at least this way I don’t have to take lots of busses.

Well, full disclosure, employment is dependent upon my passing a piss test and a background check, but I’m sure those things will be fine. And they didn’t even ask me if I’d be willing to remove my nose pin! In fact, I saw a woman at the very job I was offered with magenta hair, so I think I’ll be fine. They don’t have uniforms, either, so I’ll be able to wear comfortable clothes.

I’ve been doing lots of cooking — I have three soups and a curry in the freezer! — and have gotten a wee bit more unpacking done, so I think I’m ready to go back to work. My bank account is certainly ready for it!

I’m very excited to start meeting people. Other than my trip to Drunken Knit Night last week, I haven’t been out at all. (I hope to go again if my schedule permits; it’s the second Friday of each month and the ladies there seemed wonderful.)

Tonight, we’re having tacos for dinner. With fresh guac! #tacos

The weather’s been mild and for that I’m grateful. I’m sure I’ll be bitching about the heat sooner than I’d like! There’s been a lot of rain and overcast days, but it’s been around 50F during the days, with is pretty much perfect bike riding weather.

My local grocery store is seven-tenths of a mile away, but it’s over a freeway overpass so even though it’s so close there are eight. Fucking. Lights, not to mention that half of it’s straight uphill and the exhaust is stinky! Also the adorable bike pulls hard to the left and I elected not to take it to the shop until I got a job AND it’s juuuuust a little bit tall for me so I’m always sitting at lights on my tippytoes… UGH I MISS YOU MY OLD RED MURRAY AND LONEY’S MY OLD VERY CLOSE GROCERY STORE!

I’ve gone for a couple of random rides, but I get bored riding for its own sake and prefer to ride for transportation. Like, TO THE STORE. And now, TO WORK!

In which I got to see the view from the 27th floor.

When I told people I was moving to Minneapolis, they invariably responded, “Oh, for work?” and I kept having to say, “No, for love. I think I’ll temp or something,” because apparently grown people don’t just move two thousand miles unless it’s for a job.

Then I got here and sort of looked around, became mildly overwhelmed (remember, I haven’t lived in a real city in a long time), and thought it would be better to work in the neighborhood, maybe someplace I could get to on my bike? You know, nearby?

Except that, well, the bulk of jobs nearby are retail and pay eight bucks an hour or are in obscure businesses in big buildings I have no easy way of finding anyway.

EIGHT BUCKS AN HOUR. Jeez! I can’t even get out of bed for that, let alone dressed.

So another week went by, I got a better handle on the area, and I returned to the temping idea. I freakin’ LOVE temping. So I applied at three temp agencies… and Friday, one of them called!

Saturday, we took the bus to St. Paul for a Cinco de Mayo street festival, which was fun, but mostly the day’s experience gave me a better handle on public transportation here. There’s a rush hour bus stop on the corner, and, for non-peak times there’s a park ‘n’ ride eight-tenths of a mile away with a bike rack for me to chain the Raleigh to, and the 9 bus goes right to downtown Minneapolis in ten minutes.

My interview at Robert Half went well over an hour, and I got to speak with three different recruiters! They were all really nice, and the meeting was in a conference room on the 27th floor of the US Bankcorp building with an amazing sunny-day view of Minneapolis. I wanted to take a picture, but was afraid it would be tacky to get caught with my cell phone out in an interview.

Now I’m glad that home improvement place didn’t call me back, because I’d much rather temp — I love the variety — than run a cash register for $8.20 an hour, even if it is in the neighborhood! Based on the things the various recruiters said in yesterday’s interview, this company really sounds promising, and I could do both those sudden “Can you cover reception for three days while the employee is out sick, starting in one hour!?” assignments and, apparently, the occasional three month-long project gig. With a bit of time off afterward I’d be quite happy.

So. Very. Excited! Even bought myself a metro transit card!

Listy listy list

May 1st, 2014 | Posted by Mush in Love & Marriage - (0 Comments)

In which there’s basically a glorified to-do list.

I just read a good friend’s post about meeting and reaching goals, and decided to write my own since I’ve got all this free time on my hands.

Work/income I need to get a job before I run out of money altogether. (I also need a reason to leave the apartment.) I want it to be within biking distance of my apartment, to be part-time with decent hours (ideally during Scott’s work hours), and to feature a pay rate that isn’t sub-poverty level. Other than that, I don’t really care what it is because I can enjoy pretty much anything, especially if it’s part-time and somewhat intellectually engaging.

My fear is that any job that meets the first two requirements will pay only slightly more than minimum wage. I honestly don’t know how people can be expected to survive on eight bucks an hour; you’d need two full-time jobs at that rate just to be poor. I don’t even see the point in getting out of bed for a part-time job that pays eight bucks an hour… that’s not even seven hundred dollars a month. It wouldn’t even cover the rent.

If I have to, I’ll take full-time work, but I’d much rather have time to cook and clean and knit and pack lunches than work all the time and eat out and be forever behind on the laundry.

Social life I get weird when I don’t have any social outlets, and I currently don’t know a single person in this town but Scott. Luckily I’ve never had problems making friends!

I have an online acquaintance who said she could hook me up with a Stitch ‘n’ Bitch, so I need to get on that and start meetin’ me some knittin’ wimmins.

And I need to get to an open mic here soon and start meeting musicians. I’m enjoying being gig-free for now, but I know myself well enough to know that that will pass.

Reading I continue to read all the time, as I have most of my life. Lately I’m on a fiction kick, but in the last few years it’s been mainly non-fiction and scripture. Currently on the Kindle:

The Black Moth, Georgette Heyer
The Belial Stone, RD Brady
Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
The Complete Life of Krishna, Vanamali
Homeland, Cory Doctorow
Sri Isopanishad, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

…and a bunch more, of course, these are just at the top of the currently-in-progress list. I find I have zero interest in reading the kinds of white papers I used to read; I think I no longer give a shit about what used to be my industry.

Health Got fat again and need to get off the freakin’ carbs. I hate being fat, and it’s not just vanity. I dislike the fatigue, and the back twinges, and the need to buy bigger pants when all these clothes fit last year and don’t need to be replaced yet.

We’re eating up the pantry items that were here when I got here — sweet tea, crackers, bread, and pasta — but then I really need to quit the carbohydrate bullshit. The man could stand a little carb reduction in his life, too.

I’ll need to find a local dentist, of course, but I’ve been going three times a year for the past 8 years so my teeth are in the best shape they can be for their circumstances.

I still should get a general check-up and discuss my panic disorder with someone, but I’ve needed that appointment for a decade. May never happen, at this rate. Still don’t have health insurance, but will sign up (if I still can) after I become employed.

Since the move, I’m smoking very little, on average about six cigarettes a day. Am drinking about what I was before the move, which is too much, of course, but I don’t think my liver is going to fail any time soon and judging from my lengthening recovery time I’ll soon be too old to drink very much anyway.

I have a bike again and will attempt to use it for transportation as much as I possibly can. I realize this goal may be difficult, considering that I may not find a nearby job and the terrible winter weather in this part of the country, but I will use it as much as I can, as well as follow through on my intention to get us out for walks at least weekly. (Last Friday we went out for dinner and walked to and from the restaurant, slightly under two miles.)

I do yoga at random intervals and would like to find a (non-hot) class I can drop in on occasionally. I have no desire to do yoga all the goddamned time, but one always feels amazing after a class and knowing the poses can help one unkink before things get testy.

Relationship/integrity Now that I’m in a partnership that I cherish, I want to make a space to remember that clear communication is something one does, not something that just happens on its own. My intention is to hide nothing and to nurture the relationship in as many ways as I can, including celebrating it with date nights and remembering about asking good questions.

I really like this human being and our relationship — that’s why I moved two thousand miles to live in the land of shitty weather with him — and I particularly don’t want anything stupid and fixable to happen to it because I wasn’t paying attention, hence the ‘celebrate and nurture’ policy.

Travel Considering my tax bracket, I do very well on the travel front. In the past year or two I’ve been to Portland, Seattle a couple of times, took that road trip with Scott when he flew to Washington to visit, visited Minneapolis, had various away-gigs around the Pacific Northwest from Portland to Montana, and visited San Ramon.

Currently have a trip to Chicago booked for June to see Amma. Would like to visit Michigan, and would love to get down to Fairfield to say hi and out to DC or New York again.

Frugality Recognizing that California’s drought will affect produce prices, I’ve declared that I’ll grow my own herbs and that we’ll shop our local farmer’s markets as much as possible (once they open for the year). I have basil sprouting on the windowsill and have purchased other herb seeds.

We’ve purchased no storage containers as I’m reusing the containers food comes in, like sauce and mayonnaise jars and feta and olive containers. I also use Mason jars for food storage and for packing lunches. I want restaurant food to be a special treat for us rather than a necessity.

I intend to begin to buy dry beans and soak and cook them myself rather than buying canned. We stock up on sale items — like those large cans of diced tomatoes and the cheap skinless chicken breasts that make up most of Scott’s lunches — to keep the grocery bill low. I buy bulk and freeze where ever I can (corn tortillas, for example) and intend to keep a zero-waste kitchen. People who refuse to eat leftovers are assholes.

The furnishings we need will come from Craigslist or yard sales rather than Ikea or Target. I’ll buy most of my clothing from Goodwill and the rest will be sale items. I can knit warm things for winter out of existing stash. In this way I hope we’ll always have savings and a bit of extra for fun things.

Culture Now that I live in a real city, I want to see shows and go to museums and enjoy what there is to enjoy. Scott says he’s amenable, so I’m compiling a list of places to go starting with this weekend’s Festival of Nations and then moving on to museums. Going such places will also allow us to familiarize ourselves with Metro Transit, too, which can’t hurt.

Creativity I have no particular goals for knitting, singing, or photography beyond enjoying them when I feel like it. That’s the beauty of hobbies; they aren’t mandatory!