Sunday, November 25, 2007

Carb-loading and loaded words

At left: More pretty foliage on the ODU campus.

Oh, dear. I don't know how much more turkey I can eat! I had been luxuriating in leftovers, but turkey seven lunches and suppers in a row is a bit much. Today I got creative and made a sandwich with bread, a layer of turkey, a layer of stuffing and a layer of mashed potatoes and gravy. It was, of course, most insane culinary concoctions are. Yes, I'll have carbs and protein and carbs and carbs with more carbs on top! The mashed potatoes and stuffing are slowly but surely disappearing, but the turkey? I eat it and eat it, and there's hardly a dent! I finally had to break down tonight and eat something else for supper. The turkey is still moist and delicious, but I just couldn't take any more.

Now for the loaded words portion: Last week Tom called me, so this week I called him. The chat went well. Then at the end, he said something along the lines of: "As always, if anything major changes in my life, I'll let you know." My mind was racing with a thousand questions, but there were none I could ask without it being awkward, so I replied something like, "Great. I'll talk to you soon. Bye."

"As always, if anything major changes in my life, I'll let you know?" What does that mean? Maybe Tom thought I had been calling too much and he wanted me to stop. No, he called me last week. I'm reciprocating. It's not like I'm calling him a lot or out of the blue. I've been asking about his job hunting. Maybe Tom was tired of that and wanted me to stop. Maybe he (or a friend) read about the Jake thing in my blog, and Tom wants me to know I can tell him about it. Maybe Tom's warning me that he's about to tell me about something major that's happened to him -- like he's started dating...Aaah! Or Tom could just mean exactly what he said, which is a bit awkward, but much less alarming than any of the other options. Todd thinks the statement is brilliant in its ambiguity, and Rose thinks I should go with the final, reassuring interpretation. I agree, though that is the interpretation in which I am the most neurotic. Hello, neurosis!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I decided to make my first Thanksgiving dinner. Hooray! I decided to brine my turkey, then stuff it with apples and cook it in white wine. All was going well.

Thank goodness Mom warned me to thaw the turkey for four days. On day three, it was time to rub the turkey with kosher salt, and there were still big chunks of ice inside! I don't own a pot big enough to brine a turkey, so I put the salted turkey in a large plastic bag, put them in a roasting pan, and filled the bag with cool water. I then put the whole thing in the fridge.

Yesterday I also pre-chopped all my veggies and made a practice batch of stuffing in my little Crock Pot. I accidentally used oregano instead of sage (!) but I decided to go with it. I added some fresh, chopped garlic and called it Italian stuffing.

Today it was time to dump the brine down the sink. I took the pan out of fridge and carried it to the sink. I needed to lift the turkey in the bag. I tried to lift it and...the bag exploded! The top of the bag popped open, and water whooshed into the air and splattered in every direction. My roomate was stunned. Todd had looked over just in time to see the burst of water. We grabbed tons of towels and rags and paper towels to sop up all the salty turkey water. Ew.

After that was cleaned up, I stuffed the turkey and finished preparing it. Once it was in the oven, I started a new, more traditional batch of stuffing. I also started "roasting" pecans in the microwave and halving them for pecan pie. Then I peeled and chopped potatoes to cook and mash. Mashed potatoes are actually quite easy. Todd provided green beans. I used a few store-bought items for dinner: gravy, a tube of biscuits and a pre-made pie crust. Thank goodness I did! As it was, my whole day was taken up on cooking, eating or cleaning up.

I like the turkey recipe I chose. The advantages to cooking a turkey in white wine are moisture and flavor. The disadvantage is it is terrifying to try to lift the heavy pan of turkey. I was scared I would slosh boiling-hot liquid on myself. Todd came to help. As a team, we lifted out the pan to flip the bird and returned it to the oven. My turkey actually cooked an hour faster than I expected. It's a good thing I peeked in at it! The little button thing had already popped up. Todd helped me pull out the oven rack to check the bird's temperature, so we lifted it out again and slid in the pie. Later we slid in the biscuits. It all turned out just about perfect!

Todd carved off a drumstick for each of us, and we covered our plates. I only ate one plate of food, but ended up stuffed to the gills. After the meal was over, we finished carving up the turkey and packed everything away into Tupperware. Then we went on a walk to a little man-made lake a few blocks from the apartment and took a turn around campus. At 9:30, I finally had just enough room to taste the world's tiniest sliver of pecan pie with a little dollop of vanilla ice cream. YUM!

I hope all of you had a happy Thanksgiving with your families or friends. If you had it by yourself, I hope you found reasons to give thanks anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not ready

(I mentioned a while back that If I didn't have a photo to put up with a post, I'd use a random doodle. Here's one I did on the back of an envelope.)

There's a certain talk that I've had to have over and over. It's the I-just-want-to-be-friends talk. I make friends with a guy and then he wants it to be more and I don't. The sad part is, once the subject is broached, we can almost never go back to the way our friendship was.

Well, here I am again. This time it's a little bit different. In the past the problem was that I wasn't attracted to the guys involved. I think I find Jake attractive, but now I realize I'm not ready to date. I'm not over my ex-boyfriend. In fact, when I was discussing the situation with Rose, I slipped and said, "I'm not over my boyfriend yet." Oops. Not a good sign.

"You think you find him attractive? Well, can you picture yourself kissing him?"

"It's more that I picture slipping my arms into his jacket, around his waist, and having him hug me."

"Aww," she replied. Yeah, the extent of my fantasy life is hugging. It's frickin' adorable.

Here, in short, is what happened: Yesterday Jake texted me to see if I wanted to go out for drinks. I didn't think anything of it at first, because we hang out sometimes, but then I wondered if it was a date. After that I couldn't decide if I wanted a date. I decided to go and see. I had fun, but quickly realized it was just too soon. It's been months since Tom and I broke up, so I'm kind of annoyed with myself, but there it is.

I have to tell Jake something along the lines of: "I find you attractive, but I've just realized I'm not ready to date and you're one of the three people I really consider my friends here, so messing that up would mean losing one-third of my friends." Now I am dreading it and putting it off. Wish me luck, courage and tact.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Embracing autumn and preparing to give thanks.

It's finally starting to look and feel like fall here in Virginia. The leaves are turning all over campus, and it's so gorgeous that I had to go out and take pictures. This week I also started researching recipes, and yesterday I went shopping for the ingredients for Thanksgiving Dinner. One of my roomies, Todd, is sticking around for the holiday, so he agreed to pitch in some cash for the feast.

I had been thinking about spending the Holiday in NYC. I like helping a mission in the city make thousands of diners. I love the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love how cheerful everyone in the city is that day.

Then I decided not to. Bus fare plus going our for dinners and drinks would add up to a chunk of cash quickly. I would end up spending a big hunk of break on a bus.

Also, I'd end up with a crick in my neck for the next week. If I don't get an inflatable travel neck pillow for Christmas, I'm going to buy myself one. I don't care how dorky they look. If they work as well as the online reviews suggest, it'll be worth it. Until I get myself one, however, no more uber-long bus rides. Also, I'm going to be spending a week in January staying with my friends and I don't want to wear out my welcome.

Instead I decided to stay home, get some studying done and make my first Thanksgiving Dinner! When I was a girl, my mom told me a funny story of her first Thanksgiving, and it always stuck in my head. Yesterday, I had her tell me the story again.

"It takes forever to thaw a turkey. Give it four days in the refrigerator."

"Seriously? I was going to start on Tuesday, and I thought I was overdoing it."

"Yeah, that's how much time they say it takes, but it's never enough. I always end up trying to thaw it in water in the sink. My first Thanksgiving, I didn't give it enough time to thaw, and I missed one of the bags of organs. There's a high bag and a low bag.

"What do you mean? High and low?"

"One is stuffed in the neck cavity, and the other is in the... the anal cavity, I guess? I found one, but not the other. So not only was the turkey frozen, it had this frozen bag of parts inside."

Mom also had a tough audience. Dad's younger brothers were picky eaters, and Mom had made squash. The boys wanted corn. There was no corn. Mom was already upset because of the turkey. She proclaimed, "You will eat what I made or you won't eat!" Poor Mommy.

I'm just glad I made her retell the story, or I would have had a frozen bird, too. And I knew about the "low bag," but not the "high bag."

Thanks for helping me out, Mommy. That is the whole point. It gives me something to do on a holiday away from my family and friends and gives me a low-stakes opportunity to to perfect my Thanksgiving-Dinner-making skills. If any of you have a great Worst Thanksgiving Dinner story, please post it in the comments section. Help others learn from your life experience.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I love my friends.

My New York friends have gone crazy. Hee. Here’s what happened.

Friday night at 6 p.m., I get a text message from Carolina: "Alert!ALERT!T1 sighting across Bronx bar we have not yet engaged the target."

I thought this meant she had spotted a boy she wanted to flirt with, so I replied, “How hot is target?”

Soon my phone was ringing and Laura explained that I’d misunderstood. Laura, Carolina and Ryan went out for dinner and drinks after work. They spotted someone they thought might be Mr. B, a.k.a. Tom 1.0, across the bar. Apparently it had been a rough week at work, because tipsiness had already set in. They had decided to engage in some kind of covert mission to discover whether it was, indeed, Mr. B. I suggested, “Just go ask him.” This set off a flurry of debate. “Fine,” I replied, “I’ll just call him and ask where he is.” But Mr. B didn’t answer the phone.

The next think I knew, Ryan was giving me a play-by-play as Laura crossed the room, discovered it was Mr. B and brought him over to the group. Then Carolina had the phone. “Do you want to talk to him?” “I don’t know,” I replied. “Just say, ‘Yes, I want to talk to him’ or ‘No, I don’t want to talk to him,” Carolina said. And by “said,” I mean “yelled,” because the bar was obviously loud. So loud, in fact, that I had to yell, too, for her to hear me. Anyway, she’d been yelling this with him standing right there, so I said, “Sure, Carolina, give him the phone.” Then I heard, “HERE. ERIN WANTS TO TALK TO YOU!” Hee.

When he picked up, I said, “My friends are being weird. I’m so sorry.”

“What? Perverted?

“No, not perverted. Weird! MY FRIENDS ARE BEING WEIRD.”

He laughed and we chatted briefly. He asked what I was up to and I tried to explain, but he couldn’t really hear me. I yelled that my friends could tell him what’s up. He asked if I was ever coming back to New York, and I replied that I’d be back for a week in January. He said I should call him while I’m back, because he wants to see me. Me: “Okay, sure.” Erm…okay, sure? Well, I’m friends with most of my other ex-boyfriends, so why not?

Carolina got the phone back. “You’re not mad, right?” “No,” I said, “I’m not mad.” “Good,” she replied, “because you can’t be! There is alcohol involved, so you can’t me mad. And if you’re not mad, you can’t put it on the blog in a negative light.” Heh.

“Not in a negative light,” I replied, “But the story will be told!”

“Well, I guess we have to give you that.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a coma!

Not much is new this week. On Friday, the writing center was supposed to come and make a presentation to my class, but they didn't show. I had to make up a lesson on the fly. I had everyone write all period while I went around and conferenced with them individually about their writing. One tough young man was working on a poem about missing someone. It was a little vague, so I gave him some examples of specifics: "Sometimes people compare it to a missing limb. You feel like it's still there, but you reach down, and it's gone." He started crying. Oops. I asked if he wanted to get a drink of water in the hall so he could collect himself, but he kept his head up and said, "Nah. I'm fine." Hee. You gotta love a big, tough athlete who's not afraid to cry. He told me he got my point about how much more powerful a concrete image can be.

In other news...a while back, I was browsing for art supplies, the type that might be suitable gifts for the young people in my life. I spent a while considering Aquadots, which looked cool. Now I'm so glad I didn't buy them. Good gracious! It's a toy that, if consumed, is metabolized as GHB -- a date rape drug! It's making little kids sick, and putting them in comas! You can still buy it some places. I like to think none of the younguns in my life would eat Aquadots, but I remember a time when I was little and didn't have any gum so I chewed on Silly Putty for a while. It was not my finest moment. I'm just saying, even smart kids sometimes do dumb things.

Thanks, Chinese toy manufacturers. First we discovered the lead-painted toys, and now this. They were supposed to use a certain non-toxic chemical to coat the dots, but instead chose a similar, cheaper toxic chemical. Scary, scary, scary. Have fun Christmas shopping, parents out there.

New Topic: My friends called me last night while they were all out to dinner. It was so nice to hear from them. I missed my girls. They had recently been checking out this very blog! Their conclusion: 1-Wow, we sometimes show more cleavage than we are aware of and 2-When we're out drinking, we should always take the pictures before we get too sloshed to look our prettiest.

Another funny note: I've been going back and writing entries starting from my birth. Usually, to maintain privacy I'm really careful not to use anyone's full name. For some reason in my birth story I used my principal's full name. He Googled himself, found the blog and read the whole thing. At least, that's what he told my MOTHER. Yes, Mommy is now aware of the unedited blog. Hi, Mom. Hi, Mr. Blaker. Welcome to the land of too-much-information. It's basically the same blog, just with more cursing, drinking and making out. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kitties and gimmies.

Please click this link and watch the animated video, "Wake-up Cat." It is adorable and hilarious and reminds me of the cats I've had (not to name names or anything...TUT!).

A while back, I jokingly posted a link to my wish list. Yesterday, I chatted with my mom, and now she might use the thing for real, so here's the link again. I always have trouble coming up with a Christmas list on the fly, so I figure this is easier. If Mom wants, she can shop for me without leaving the house. It's like writing a letter to Santa, only electronic!

On the other hand, it feels a little too gimme-gimme-gimme. Here's how most stuff got on there: I would think to myself, "I want Thing X, but I don't need it right now" or "I need thing Y, but I can't afford it right now." Then, when I had a little extra money*, I'd go to the list and buy a little treat. Instead of grabbing some random thing in a store, it was always something I'd wanted for a while. That made it a little more special, and that way I never had buyer's remorse. The wish list is window shopping. I get the fun of shopping without spending any money.

I probably won't have any "extra money" for a long while. I'm going to have to get creative for gifts this year, too. Is it too late to learn to knit and make copious scarves? Never mind. I barely have time to get all my work done as it is, and I bet really pretty yarn is as expensive as many nice presents I would buy. You've got a link to what I want for Christmas. In the comments section, post what you're asking Santa for.

*Extra money was money left over after bills were paid and a portion was put into savings.