Category Archives: other

This Message is Brought to You by the Letter “V”

For vegetables.

Here’s my easy, “eat more vegetables” secret for today:

Take whatever vegetables you’ve got and chop them up. Cabbage, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, turnips, carrots, eggplant, whatever. Chop up an onion or two, julienne style, like you’re gonna make caramelized onions. Mix the two in a big bowl with some oil and salt, maybe some chopped garlic, and then spread in a relatively thin layer on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake at 375-400 degrees, stirring every now and then to even things out as they brown. When things are cooked and a little browned, remove from oven. Takes about 10 minutes worth of chopping and 20-30 minutes of not doing anything while it cookes in the oven.

Enjoy.

You’re welcome.

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Something brilliant my coworker just said

“Nothing is the end of the world except the end of the world.”

So so true.

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The Marital Sky is Not Falling

Sound the alarms! Our kids are afraid of intimacy and can’t commit! The world is coming to an end!

Oy.

I heard this story on NPR yesterday morning. and then my Dad sent it to me, just in case I missed it. Has Brenda Wilson been reading too much Laura Sessions Stepp? Yeesh. This reporter seems to be as about in touch with the youth culture as Stepp is.

I would argue that these and similar “news” stories are aimed at trying to explain to the panicking Boomer and older generations why their kid or grandkid isn’t married and providing them with grandbabies yet. What is wrong with today’s youth? Why are they waiting? What’s the cause?
It’s coed dormitories! It’s women’s liberation! It’s their friends! It’s their promiscuous ways!

My dad said Brenda Wilson’s piece really “helped him understand today’s 20somethings.” Up until recently, I was one of today’s twentysomethings, and I don’t think Brenda Wilson describes me at all, nor do I think that she describes the majority of the people that I am friends with.

I realize I’m actually (sadly) a little bit older than the generation supposedly being profiled here, and that our culture is possibly shifting so rapidly under our feet that I may not know what’s going on with the generation just a few years younger. But by all definitions, I’m more part of the so-called Millennial generation than Generation-X, so I think I can speak to what they’re about.

And I go on dates. And I don’t generally “hook up” first. And yeah, ok a fair number of my friends do, but just as many don’t, and I’m talking both women AND men that I know. Moreover, none of the date-first-make-out-second people I know are proceeding that way for religious or prudish reasons, but rather simply because we crave the kind of emotional intimacy and commitment that Barbara Wilson purports that we simply are not interested in.

In my view, the culprit is not the cultural phenomenon of hooking up (which has been around for um, ever). People are getting married later in life in every place in the world that women have attained a more equal standing in society. I read an article not too long ago about how women in Japan don’t want to get married as quickly anymore. Their reasons are similar to their Western counterparts.  They are putting off husband and family to focus on developing their careers. They are also reticent to get married because they don’t want to be shunted into the traditional subservient wifely role that Japanese men still expect them to fill.
Go figure.

I swear I am so tired of reporters, especially women reporters, lamenting the breakdown of romance, intimacy, marriage, family, and whatever else in young people today. Yes, the rules are getting redefined. And if women are truly to be equal partners to men in this society, that’s going to have to happen. And it will probably be really confusing and frustrating for awhile longer. There will probably be a lot more shifting around until we get it right, because we have a lot to figure out, and centuries of horrific inequality to correct.

And we unfortunately have people freaking out and fighting change tooth and nail at every turn.

I say, chill out! Young people have not changed that much. Most of my friends, even children of divorced parents like me who understandably have a skeptical attitude towards commitment, want love, intimacy, commitment, family, and everything in between. Many want more than what their grandparents were willing to settle for though: many want an equal partner, a best friend, a life companion out of the deal, and they’re not willing to settle (despite Lori Gottlieb insisting that all us girls in our early thirties should marry any nice  man willing to make babies with us before we hit 35).

Without clear gender roles, we have a lot more to figure out to get there. Back when women did the domestic labor, and men earned the money, when the man’s role was to try to get sex and the woman’s job was to withhold it until she got a ring, things were definitely simpler for all involved. Especially because a woman couldn’t do so much as open a checking account on her own until the 1970s. But I don’t think it follows that we should head back in that direction for the sake of simplicity. We humans are complex creatures. I am confident we can figure out this new landscape and make new rules (or live just fine without rules at all) without seeing the destruction of romance, intimacy, family and commitment.

Just give us some time.

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Tidbits

There’s been lots of worry recently over plastic bottles and other food containers, and what is safe and what is not.

Here’s what’s safest: #2 and #5.

#1 is okay (it’s what most bottled water is sold in). But you don’t want to repeatedly reuse it these kinds of bottles – they don’t hold up super well over time.

#3 is PVC. Very very bad. Dioxin, phthalates, and other carcinogens. We should not be using this stuff at all.

#6 also not cool. Polystyrene. Styrofoam, generally.

#7, which is what your Nalgene bottle is made of (although apparently not the new ones), is bad. Releases bisphenol A, which is an endocrine disrupter, (acts like a hormone in your body. Bad bad bad.) Canada banned BPA, and there has been a real worry that a lot of baby bottles are made of #7 plastic. Hormone-like chemicals + babies = bad news. Actually hormone-like chemicals + adults = bad news too.

#2, #4, and #5 are fine. At least for now. My Rubbermaid water bottle that I drink from at work is made of #5 plastic. I’d recommend you chuck that Nalgene.


Apparently all that mess about canned vegetables being much less healthy than fresh veggies is not so cut-and-dried. Heat-sensitive nutrients like vitamin C break down in canned veggies, but other phytochemicals in vegetables, such as the ones found in corn and tomatoes, actually increase when they are exposed to heat. So pile on the corn and tomato salsa I guess.


Apparently, our shoes are ruining our feet, and we should all either walk barefoot, or buy expensive shoes that are almost like walking barefoot. At least according to New York Magazine.

I’m somewhat skeptical, as I felt like the article was pushing a particular product pretty hard, but I did find it interesting that women who wear high heels all the time actually cause the tendons in their feet to shorten, thus causing them to eventually only be comfortable in high heels.

I also thought it was interesting that historically, shoes were not made for walking, but were rather a sign that you were so rich you didn’t have to walk.

I also saw someone running barefoot in the 10K I did on Saturday. Makes me want to give it a try (though probably on a treadmill…)

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Two Chicks at Chix

My friend Robin and I checked out the relatively-new Chix, on U Street and 11th. Chix’s tagline is “Eat Responsibly,” and they try to uphold this mantra by offering organic rotisserie chicken (provided by Freebird in Lancaster, PA), black beans seasoned with cumin and orange served with brown rice, roasted sweet potatoes, and juice-flavored water.

All food is packaged in to-go containers, whether you eat in or not, but the plastic cups are made of compostable cornstarch, napkins made from recycled paper, and the cardboard containers are made of compostable sugar cane fiber. Even the restaurant itself is built from largely sustainable materials.

But back to the food. We actually did not sample the chicken, though I plan to when (when, not if) I return. The black beans and rice, however, were wonderful, and the sweet potatoes, roasted to perfection and seasoned with just a little bit of heat, were to die for. The cheese-noodle thing was pretty tasty too.

Given that this is a local venture, reasonably-priced, and in my neighborhood, I plan to visit often and bring lots of friends. Given that the FDA just recently gave the thumbs up on using cloned animals for food, I’m more than happy to put more of my dollars towards local, sustainable, and healthy food.

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Accountability!

Training for the Cleveland Marathon begins next week. I’m already trying to get a head start by reminding my body what it feels like to run more than 3 miles. So far, so good. But if I’m going to make it through the next four months of training, I am going to have to be accountable. I think I only finished the Dublin Marathon because I told hundreds (literally, hundreds) of people I was going to do it, and a lot of them donated to the cause I was running for.

This time I want to do more than finish. I want to smash to bits all of my expectations of what my body can do. My friend Dan turned me onto a book called “4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon,” and he and I will be following the training schedule outlined in that book.

So that I’m accountable this time around, I am posting it publicly here for all to see:

Yep, this is what I’m going to do. Let’s get ready to rock!

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Living at the border?

On my overpopulated RSS feed reader, I follow this woman’s personal blog. She’s a professional blogger, writing for Web Worker Daily among other blogs, but I have really liked a few of the posts on her personal blog.

Her most recent post
, reflecting on the past year, was really startling for me. She talks about “living at the border” – the border being the line where your comfort zone ends.

I have generally long aimed for this ideal. It’s how I became who I am. This year, certainly, I have several times (thought sometimes with coaxing) plunged right into situations that I have found frightening, unfamiliar, uncontrolled, and uncomfortable. When I take those kinds of huge, scary steps, I usually feel really courageous. I also often feel like I’m making strides forward in my life, growing stronger and better.

I think it works really well for me. I make mistakes, but I don’t cry about it, nor let it discourage me. Usually setbacks just motivate me to keep pushing on.

But sometimes, instead what happens is this: I falter. I chicken out. I get insecure. I fall backwards into dark but familiar patterns. Or I somehow decide that I’m being foolish. This retreat leaves me feeling unhappy. Or even like I’ve failed.

I don’t think this means I should give up on seeking to live on the border of my comfort zones. In all honesty, I think pushing boundaries is at least a piece of the whole point of living, and that people who live to tread the same familiar pathways over and over again are stagnating, wasting themselves.

We aren’t here to be comfortable. We are here “to be open fully to the energies and possibilities that are emerging, regardless of their threat to habit, comfort, and stereotyped expectations.” I’ll add to that, regardless of their threat to our understood perceptions about ourselves or others or our place in the world around us. We often benefit from embracing the things that we find difficult and scary and unusual.

That being said, recently I have been rethinking some of my latest attempts to exist “at the edge of impasse”. I don’t like admitting I have limitations, and I don’t like giving up on something just because it’s hard or uncomfortable. But in recently, I’ve just kept on failing and flailing. Should I continue persist anyhow? Or should I retreat from the edge to where I feel safe again? Give myself time to regroup?

Or could I just be wrong about what I am trying to accomplish?

I mean, sometimes there’s a reason to be uncomfortable. If I jumped out of a plane with no parachute, it would be exciting and terrifying and very uncomfortable – particularly when I hit the ground and my body became smashed and very very dead. Sometimes, discomfort is a sign that you’re doing the wrong thing.

Living at the border can mean pushing into new and wonderful territory. But you could also be flirting with self-destruction. Referencing artists, as Anne’s quote does, how many artists’ lack of borders have been tied to a relentless determination to immolate themselves? Is that where I want to go?

Oh, how to know when the border one is living at also happens to be the edge of a cliff…

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My dear acquaintences, a happy new year.

Happy New Year everyone! Here’s a link for a free track from Regina Spektor. (You’ll need iTunes to download it.)

My dear acquaintance, it’s so good to know you
For strength of your hand
That is loving and giving
And a happy new year
With love overflowing
With joy in our hearts
For the blessed new year

Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
For us all who are gathered here
And a happy new year to all that is living
To all that is gentle, kind, and forgiving
Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
My dear acquaintance, a happy new year

All of those who are hither and yonder
With love in our hearts
We grow fonder and fonder
Hail to those who we hold so dear
And hail to those who are gathered here

And a happy new year to all that is living
To all that is gentle, young, and forgiving
Raise your glass and we’ll have a cheer
My dear acquaintance, a happy new year
Happy new year!

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Body Mapping

I’m currently listening to a really interesting interview on Face the Nation: Science Friday about body mapping, and how your mind understands your body.

You can find out more about what they’re talking about here.

It’s pretty neat stuff. One of the things they have talked about is how imagining in your mind doing something physical – doing visualization – can increase the success of physical training. That isn’t anything new, but I guess it’s been proven through experimentation. I’ve experienced this myself in dancing and running. When I imagine myself completing a race or performing a move, it’s almost like practicing, and I always perform better. Visualization is actually really powerful as I’ve experienced it.

Another thing they mentioned which is also familiar to me is how people can be very physically agile at some things like skiing or ballet, but still be utterly clumsy in their day-to-day life. We apparently have lots of different ways to “map” our bodies and our movement and spatial understanding. Our sense of our bodies even extend beyond our actual skin into the clothes we wear – so our understanding of our bodies in a pair of skis or a leotard and tights could be completely different than when we have on our street shoes and clothes.

That’s just a little bit of it. Anyhow, it’s been a neat discussion.

In other news, starting tomorrow I will be off work until January 2nd! It’s very exciting to work in an office that closes down between Christmas and New Year’s. I still haven’t solidified all of my plans, but I’ll probably be staying in the Northeast.

Here’s my wish for the happiest of holidays to you all
.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The biggest reason is because the concept is so simple: gratitude. Thanksgiving is a holiday that has become about feeling grateful for the abundance we have in our lives. And many people agree that the more grateful you feel, the happier you are.

Another reason I love Thanksgiving is because it’s not about stuff, but rather stuffing. In my view, there’s no better way to spend your time than eating a million delicious foods, and my family is southern, so that means cornbread stuffing and sweet potato casserole, not to mention that marvelous jelly cranberry sauce from a can. And then of course, leftovers. Nom.

Some would say Thanksgiving is about gluttony, but I think it’s just about sitting down and breaking bread with those you love. It’s about passing a plate of good will and sharing in the abundance that touches our lives.

It’s also nice that the rampant consumerism that seems necessary for every holiday happens the day after, which is actually just in preparation for that ultimate, get-lots-of-shit holiday that follows in December. I’m not ashamed to admit that I went shopping today, on the evil Black Friday (the luggage I used to travel to Atlanta had broken, and my mom decided she wanted an iPod), and it wasn’t bad at all. So thank you to all who decided to observe “Buy Nothing Day” – you made finding a parking space soooo much easier.

Finally though, I love Thanksgiving is because it is a time to spend with family and friends without some kind of religious affiliation, without a gift-giving requirement, just eating (and did I mention how much I love food?) It’s not a big to do. It’s just about love. (And food. And gratitude. And gratitude for love and food…) We all bow our heads together and just say, “Thank you” to whomever we want, or just to the universe.

All in all, it’s kind of a cool quirky holiday built around what’s basically become more like a folk tale than a historical event. But fortunately no genocide was involved as far as I know (that came before and after). Just people in funny hats.

I am thankful for so much in my life. I have been blessed with a family that loves me, and I am surrounded by amazing friends. I have been touched by many amazing experiences in my life and have been given many wonderful opportunities. I have lived largely free of want. In my daily life I often find my heart filled with gratitude, but certainly I feel it on Thanksgiving, as I bask in the warmth of those whom I care for the most, my belly filled with way too much food.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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