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!

In which there’s been lots of consumerism.

So. Much. Buying. Stuff.

We’ve purchased the following things: a dish drainer, Pyrex casserole dishes, an immersion blender, a bicycle, many groceries, a big scented candle, a bike lock, a nightlight, a tiny bungee cord and a bike basket, a box of 25 different kinds of incense, a short coax cable, a small shelving unit for the bathroom and a can of spray paint, herb seeds, a rotary egg beater, and a cell phone.

We’ve been to three different grocery stores, an Indian shop, a junk store, Target, two Walmarts, Menard’s, a bike shop, and a Super America.

The kitchen cabinets have gone from more than half empty to stuffed. The linen and front closets are much less empty than they were. I’m using cardboard boxes in the bedroom for a dresser. I’m about 65% unpacked, with nine boxes remaining to deal with.

I’ve done tons of cooking and currently my fridge is full of leftovers!

I’ve had an interview, talked to a recruiter, and registered at three temp agencies. I think I applied for a dozen jobs last week.

Once the bike shop is done with the Raleigh, I’ll be more mobile and will be able to get the store and back in less than an hour. All I need now is a job! And for it to stop raining.

Life is good!

In which I don’t quite believe what I’ve done.

We bought the plane ticket six weeks ago, because without a set date I knew I’d never get anything done. But I met my goal admirably, even down to guessing correctly how many boxes it would take. (Twenty. Slightly under four hundred pounds.) The goal was to ship five boxes every Friday, which happened twice, but the final half got shipped a couple of days apart during my last few days in Walla Walla.

Room

My flight left at two on Wednesday, so I got up, ate, finished packing, dusted and vacuumed. Off to the airport at a quarter to one.

Had a two-and-a-half hour layover in Seattle, but I needed it because my discount ticket didn’t include baggage transfer. So I had to get off the plane, exit to baggage claim, retrieve my suitcase and take it to the Sun Country counter, check it AGAIN (and pay another goddamned $25 bag fee), and then re-enter through TSA.

It was stupid and cost fifty bucks. But this helped:

And so did the one after it.

Then I flew to MSP and the cutest boy in the world was there to pick me up and drive me home in, well, this:

Thursday we spent lying around and cuddling, then we went out for Mexican food and a trip to Target for kitchen implements. They didn’t have rotary egg beaters, but I did finally get a dish drainer! (I bugged him about not having one constantly when I was here in December.)

Friday, he had to go to work, so I spent the day cleaning and organizing and unpacking and in general settling in. I have my own kitchen for the first time in eight or nine years, so I put the pots and pans exactly where I wanted to. It was awesome! The poor man can’t find a thing, but that’s his problem.

This — plus four more boxes, not yet arrived — is all I have left to unpack:

We’re going to need some shelves. And a dresser. And possibly more shelves.

In which it’s the time of year known as ‘omfg i HATE the dread!!!’.

About once a year or so, usually around this time, give or take a few weeks, my panic and anxiety gets really rough and I get so incredibly miserable I finally consider going into the family clinic and begging for enough pills to get my crazy ass back on an even keel.

I never do it, though, because all the bullshit goes back into remission right after I consider saying uncle, and then I pretty much forget about it until the next year. I mean, I’ll have an occasional isolated day of The Dread here and there, but nothing I feel compelled to medicate. And, to be completely honest, one of the ‘features’ of my little condition is that it makes me utterly paranoid of pills even though my mind knows perfectly well that meds are cleaner, safer, and better-regulated than all the street drugs I did back in the day.

Yes, my anxiety has made me afraid of pills. Fucking fuck.

Anyway, so this is historically the worst month of the year for panic and anxiety and I’ve been having attacks of varying degrees of fucking awful pretty much daily for a month or so. On top of that, I just naturally happened to choose this month to move two thousand miles, so there’s an added level of disassociation and stress.

This is not the normal kind of move, where you put your shit into your car and escort it yourself by driving it to your new home. This is a move where I’m putting my things into the care of UPS and hoping they’ll deliver my life semi-intact to my new apartment.

My new apartment which just happens to be a security building, so the stuff can’t even be delivered. LDBF will have to go pick it all up somewhere.

So it’s panic season, plus moving with its attendant stress of quitting of jobs and bands. There’s also the pre-menopausal acne, which is insult to injury, and on top of all that I woke up this morning with what I think is a stye in my right eye. And I got fat this winter, eating all the white things I know better than to eat. (Sometimes, you just want to order a fucking pizza. (Where “sometimes” equals “like once a week or so.”))

Seriously. I’m, like, the least pretty girl on the planet. Which causes LDBF to tell me I’m the prettiest girl on the planet about every twenty minutes or so. He’s amazing about The Dread, too, listening carefully and saying wonderful safe supportive things and threatening to hug me for a whole month.

There’s been a lot of other support, too, for all my bitching, which I think is in part keeping me from having a total meltdown. Someone I don’t even really know has offered to drop moving boxes off at the house this weekend; the sun is shining; my newsroom co-workers are going out for a beer with me the Friday after next; my brother has a truck for getting boxes to UPS. I’ll get through it, but mostly I’d rather curl up in bed than pack boxes or haul crap to the growing Goodwill pile in the basement.

Honestly, I just want to be moved, past tense. Moving sucks. And on that note, I’m going to figure out how to pack my file box, once I remove the things too important to ship such as my passport and father’s POA paperwork. Ciao.

In which there are Mason, Kerr, and Ball jars.

I like jars. You can get a bunch of them for like twelve bucks, and use them for pretty much everything from juice glass to food storage to coffee brewing. They’re probably less awesome in kitchens with stone floors, but in general if you don’t drop them they’re lovely.

And now for some pictures of things in jars.

Portable breakfast in a jar:

Coffee brewing in a jar:

A sewing kit in a jar:

(Although, if you make one, do use a wide-mouthed jar, as this one requires you to pour all of the contents out in order to get a single item.)

More breakfast in a jar:

A jar transformed into a sippy cup:

And old jelly jar made into a soy wax candle, with an even smaller jar with sand paper glued to the lid holding matches:

My grandmother’s basement is full of old jars. It’s handy as heck.

. .. … .. .

I’ve decided not to buy plastic containers if I can help it, especially not single-use items. So much comes from the store in a reusable plastic container with a lid — Kalamata olives, cottage cheese, etc — that you really don’t need to buy storage containers.

It’s so weird to me that we throw those things out daily and then go buy GladWare, a product with lids that don’t even fit.

I have no idea why Mason jars are suddenly all the rage, but I feel it must have something to do with people’s reactions to the expensive, resource-depleting absurdity that is bottled water.