Dear Target Lady

You are always there.  You look like my friend’s mom.  You don’t seem overly jubilant, which I totally get.  However:

You always talk to me.  You always ask or comment about something I’ve bought.  We chat.  You are not crazy.  In fact, the old me would write about how annoying you are and how I am in a hurry dammit and cut the small talk, Lady.

But what I want to say to you right now is I love you.  I love that you engage me.  I can tell that the people behind me in line do not share this love.  I don’t care.  You are making the most of your day, and by doing so, have made a lasting impression on me.

The next time I see you, I will learn your name and I will maybe even creepily hug you.  Because right now, we all need to reach out to everyone, appreciate that this life passes by pretty damn quick, and there is nowhere any of us need to get to so badly that we ignore our sameness, our ability to interact, our humanity.

Thank you.

For everyone behind me in the proverbial Target line, if you have posted recently about “be kind to each other” or “love wins” or whatever the Facebook sentiment of the day is, this is where it starts.  It starts with me.  And you.

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LISTEN UP VEGETARIANS: This Casserole is Your Holy Grail

Tori Amos’ brilliant Boys for Pele is 20 years old this month.  Which means a few things:  I’ve spent a lot of time trying to verify the truth of whether or not the pope indeed has a rubber robe, and I’m really fucking old.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  I lived in another state.  I had a different everything.  But this album holds up.  Tori holds up, I don’t care what anyone says.  I know she’s weird.  Sometimes weird is pretty fucking rad.  Anyway, her lyrics are insane, and as I listened to this album after a too-long hiatus from it, I did what I always do when good music is on and I have time:  I cook.  Meanwhile, since I’ve recently lost my beloved Mister Wallace dog, my cat Fawkes has turned into a total attention whore.  It’s wonderful and snuggly, unless I’m not snuggling and trying to do other shit.  Like cook.  While I have been listening to this album and making this dish, he has been howling at the top of his lungs.  Maybe he just likes Tori.

So I have spent the last month or so trying to perfect this cabbage roll recipe.  Finally after making it three times and being pleased with it each time more than the last, I said FUCK IT NO MORE ROLLING CABBAGE IMMA DECONSTRUCT THIS BITCH INTO A CASSEROLE.  While I got them to totally look like cabbage rolls, it’s just too hard not to break, and honestly, they’re difficult to eat like that.  I’d much rather just pile shit in a bowl and eat it.   America has spoken.  I like vegetables.  I’m guessing if you are reading this, you do too.  I present:

STARFUCKER CABBAGE CASSEROLE 

It’s so fucking good I want to share it with you.

SHIT YOU WILL NEED:

1 head cabbage, chopped and steamed
3 sweet potatoes, baked, skin off
1-1/2 c. mushrooms, chopped
4 c. quinoa/brown rice blend, cooked
2 med. zucchini, sauteed (optional)
1 med. onion, sauteed (optional)
2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs
1 jar Marinara sauce (or whatever.  Make your own.  I’m lazy.)
thyme, fresh or otherwise
basil, fresh or otherwise
oregano, same
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
(all seasoning to taste)

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Mash the sweet potatoes WITH YOUR HANDS.

SHIT YOU WILL DO:

Have the cabbage cut up and steamed, just chop it kind of roughly.  Discard the weird center.  Bake your sweet potatoes the night before or something, because that takes an hour.  You don’t want to waste precious time.  In a bowl, mix the chopped mushrooms, 1 cup of Parmesan, the cooked quinoa/rice blend, and the sweet potato meat together.  I just squeezed the potatoes with my hands.  Satisfying.  Mush it all up so it’s like a delicious paste.  Saute your onion and zucchini, have it sitting off to the side.  I actually add the thyme, oregano, basil, some salt and pepper, and minced garlic cloves to this saute.  But you could really add all that at any time.

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Cabbage/zucchini layer #1.

Preheat oven to 350.  Take a 9×11 casserole dish, put a layer of cabbage and zucchini/onion (about 1/2 of it) on the bottom.  then sploch the sweet potato mixture on top of that.  Kind of spread it out so it makes a layer.  Add another layer of the cabbage/zucchini/onion.  Then cover with 3/4 of the jar of marinara sauce (about 2 cups?  Maybe a little more?)  Get it nice and saucy.  Spread the other 1 cup of Parmesan on top.  Scatter the bread crumbs on top if you want.  I did.  And it rocked.

Cook it for about 30-40 minutes.  Everything is already cooked, all you’re doing is making it hot and cooking it all together.

Try not to punch me in the face next time you see me, because this is so good you’ll want to.  ENJOY, MY VEGETABLE-EATING FRIENDS.

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No Pappy, it’s not a lasagna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dogs. Death. Drinks. Devotion.

You can never know when you wake up that this will be the day you have to put your dog to sleep.  Millions of paragraphs have been written about losing those that we love, but nothing will seem to resonate with you on this day.  No one else can possibly understand what the pit of your stomach feels like as you make all the motions you have to make:  The decision, the comforting of your friend, the doctor as she listens for the stillness of the heart.  And your heart fucking drops at the same exact time.  Except you’re still moving around.

You walk away and immediately duck into the first bathroom and bawl as silently (or not) as possible.  You wipe your tears with the world’s roughest toilet paper and walk out into the all-too-bright February sunlight, knowing that doing the right thing sucks so much that you just want to lay down in the middle of the parking lot.

You drive on auto-pilot.

You go to your house and your friend is not there to greet you with a wag and a kiss, but all of your friend’s stuff is still there.  Like he was just going to the groomer or something.  You wander around the house.  You pick up the toys.  You gather beds.  You gather treats and food to give to someone you love.  And you sob.  Uncontrollably.  Ugly crying.  Unashamed crying.  You don’t know when it will stop.

This was my morning.  February 4, 2016.  Today marks my second year of sobriety.  Today is a day that has been horrible, and yet amazing, because it has forced me to do something I could not do when I drank – I have been forced to feel.  While it has absolutely been one of the most heart-wrenching days of my life, I could have never felt this over 2 years ago.  I would have drowned all this out.  And surprise – I wouldn’t go back to that place for all the money or happiness in the world.  No one is more surprised than I am.

I would never be able to feel the absolute gratitude I have for this little dog that came into our lives 9 years ago.  I had no idea how much he had given me.  He comforted me through so many hard days and celebrated with me on days filled with joy.  He gave me his absolute and complete devotion and love.  He gave me his trust.  He had a full life, and I am so thankful that we were able to give him that.

Sobriety to some may seem like a long list of “nevers” that you have to tick off.  But for me, sobriety is a never-ending book full of “always.”  I will always have the memory of knowing that I was there for him in his last moment.  I will always have an abundant circle of friends and family around me to comfort me when I am in need.  And I will always, always marvel at this magic fucking universe that gives so freely of itself, and fills up my short life with the wonder and size of the love that is within it.

 

The dog, thus far, has only learned how to look cute.  No coffee skills at all.

For Mister William Wallace.  Chase those frogs, buddy.

 

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It’s Not Just About What He Meant to Me

I had no idea how impacted I would be upon hearing the news that a great light has ceased to shine in this universe.  But now, even writing that sentence, I question it:  Will his light ever cease to shine?

I read somewhere among the thousands of words already written today that the connection with Bowie and his music is so personal for each and every one of us that grew up feeling weird, out of place, knowing we didn’t belong.  The appeal was instant, and didn’t only fill our need for far-reaching and fantastic (in the true sense of the word) music – it filled a need for style, for grace, for acceptance, for morphing the things we secretly hated about ourselves into things we could love.

I could tell you about my personal connection with David Bowie’s music, but it would be just so many words on a screen that can be told far better and more eloquently by those of far greater stature in this world than I.  But it was personal.  It has endured through decades.  His words, art, and passion for his craft will continue to inspire long after I’m gone.

Dammit, Starman.  I wasn’t fucking ready to say goodbye, even if you were.  You have blanketed the universe with the magic you’ve given us, and I am so grateful to be the smallest of recipients.


 

  “As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?”

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I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

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I am not a native.  I did not grow up there.  I have never lived there.  I have never, for that matter, lived in Louisiana.  But you know how you go somewhere and you feel like you’ve been there all your life?  That’s how I feel about New Orleans, and I am sure I’m not the only person who has felt that way.  There’s a certain allure about the French Quarter – the steeped-in-history feeling, the grunge, the funk, the quaintness, the overall vibe is exactly what millions of people fall in love with over and over and over again.  Every time I am there, I feel a weird, other-worldly feeling – like I am supposed to be there.  Like I have been there already.  Like the city is waiting for me, breathlessly, until I return.

And of course, it is.  Waiting for me with its endless balconies of weathered wrought iron; with its music that fills every corner – sometimes the jazz or blues it is famous for, other times drunken karaoke sung by a tourist.  Waiting for me with gallons of coffee and alcohol, if I wanted it.  It was something I worried about on this last trip – this was my first trip sober, and I was a little anxious to find out if New Orleans still held all the same mystery it did for me when I was drinking.  It of course did, because somehow I always knew that even though drankin’ is a huge part of the essence of the city, there’s a heartbeat that echoes subtly underneath the booze.  It’s the people, the whispered and passed-down tales, the food (good god almighty the food) and the desperate beauty that is New Orleans.  There’s absolutely no escape from it, at least not for me.

Have I seen absolutely crazy shit there?  Yes.  Hasn’t everyone?  More often than not, however, I find myself walking the streets of the Quarter or any of the surrounding neighborhoods in awe of the care people take with their plants, their porches – as if this is where life is centered, unlike anywhere else in the country.  I can imagine nothing more perfect than to lounge on a plant-filled porch with a book or a pen or some music, watching the neighborhood, watching the sunset, watching all the vibrant colors that New Orleans is.  Watching the night come alive, listening to the sounds of people cooking, laughing, drinking, and luxuriating – yes, that – the way only this one culture does.

I’m not a Christian, but I’m filled with reverence for the dead in this city.  Being among the graves in St. Louis # 1 fills me with not only the sense of “damn I best gather these rosebuds right the fuck now” but also with a stillness and a longing to know more, to learn all I can about the people who have lived here and made New Orleans what it is.  When I visit the small church that is next to the cemetery, it’s perfect and new to me every time I go.  The mosaics, the grotto, the room that is heated with a thousand silent prayers on the wicks of candles – it is gorgeous, it is tragedy, it is human.

New Orleans is faith.  It is us.

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FULL-ON FALL, That’s What’s Happening

I am sitting here in flannel pajama pants and a long-sleeved thermal shirt while I bake a loaf of bread.  BECAUSE IT’S THE GREATEST SEASON OF ALL.  It was 92 degrees today, but who’s counting.  Call me a basic bitch or whatever you want, but I stand proudly by my love of All Things Pumpkin and the crackle of fires and really any reason to be in a kitchen making things and putting those things in jars or my mouf, whatever happens first.

Fall, motherfuckers.  There’s no other season.  It could be Permanent Fall and I would never be happier.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Fall.  Starbucks has made a fortune off of Fall.  They really don’t even need to exist in any other season.  I can make my own damn coffee, but what I cannot make is a nonfat pumpkin spice latte.  I’m sure I could, but it wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have to stand in a line full of chicks in boots and coats asking for half a Splenda in their shit.

So there’s not much to this, I just wanted to share with you all my love of now, and the month to come.  Because hey, it’s Texas, and that’s all the Fall you get.  Then it turns into a weird and dreary wasteland full of filthy cars and sad, dry tree limbs.  But hey!  OCTOBER!!!  Here we are!!  Gotta go drink my tea with some milk and spices in it while I listen to Frank Sinatra and make a hat out of leaves.

GO FOR A WALK!  BUY SOME FLANNEL!!  EAT PIE ALL DAY!!

PIE ALL DAY ERRY DAY

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My Garage: Metaphor for Life

Disclaimer:  If you usually come here looking for laughs, you might find a few in this post, but you might find it more poignant.  If you hate poignant, you might want to just roll out now.  I can’t give you everything.

I decided that after years of neglect and basically just throwing all things I wanted to avoid into our garage, it would be a good idea to rethink that philosophy and try to get in there and clean it.  I thought about this for 8 years.  That’s right.  EIGHT.

This was, undeniably, a task I did not want to tackle.  It seemed insurmountable.  I mean, I had successfully avoided the Garage Issue for a long time.  Because honestly, as soon as we moved into this house we immediately turned the garage into The Land That Time Forgot.  You could technically move around in there, but not well or without difficulty.  It was filled with useless stuff.  Oh, did you need a double vanity with a granite top?  What about a power washer?  Perhaps I can interest you in a smoke machine?  It was a cornucopia of shit on which we could have made a fortune on Craigslist.

But as I said, this shit was daunting, and it wasn’t just a bunch of big weird stuff, there was plenty small stuff as well.  SO MANY NUTS AND BOLTS.  Just strewn everywhere.  So messy and dust-laden and spider-filled.  “Let me in there,” my spirit called out.  “Fuck you,” answered my weary heart.  Until one day.  One beautiful day in a Texas July like no other July.  We had a streak of cool weather (and I mean waaaaay cooler than normal) and I just bit the bullet, opened the garage door, and stared at things.

I think I stared at everything for 10 minutes.  Then something in my brain said, well, nothing’s going to happen if you just keep staring at it.  And thus, I began.

It really amounted to throwing almost all of it away.  And by “away”, I mean I set all that shit out on the curb.  I started, and then my husband joined me later that weekend in Project Free Prizes for Neighbors.  We had people there looking through our stuff as soon as we set it out.  And honestly, that made me happier than any amount of money Craigslist could have ever brought me.  1)  It was gone RIGHT THEN and 2) someone wanted it, they got it.  For free.  That’s great for them, and all we had to do was walk down the driveway with it.  I gathered and organized much of the nut-screw-bolt situation we had going on, placed it on shelves that made sense.  I organized the boxes of Yule decorations I wanted to keep.  Shit was clean-ish, y’all!  I felt a huge sense of not just accomplishment, but a true sense of weight being lifted.  I declared to anyone who would listen that it was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever done.  It felt THAT GOOD.

I have been successfully parking in my garage ever since, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s leaps and bounds better than it was.

It’s not hard for any of you to read between the lines of metaphor.  But for those of you who are musing to yourselves “ok your garage is clean, welcome to being an adult and not living like a fucking hoarder” I say:  It’s bigger than that.  Way.  It’s taken 8 years for me to deal with the crippling obstacle that was my garage.  That doesn’t seem like very long when you compare it with the lifetime of other shit I had successfully (or not) avoided in LIFE.  I avoided it at an extremely functional level as far as your little eyes could perceive.  The twisted beauty of a garage is that as long as you keep the door closed, no one really has any idea of what kind of mess is behind it.  I treated my own person much like that garage:  Just a void where I pushed away anything I thought didn’t matter.  What a shocker when I realized that it actually mattered very much.  I avoided by drinking.  I numbed by taking meds because they helped me be “even.”  I comforted myself with the all-encompassing fuzzy blanket sewn with the Love of Other People’s Problems.  I CREATED A LIFE AROUND ALL OF THIS.  And I woke up every day with my first utterances being angry, hate-filled, woe-is-me-isms.  Good times, y’all.  Good fucking times.

Fast forward, and skipping all the therapy and delving and soul-searching (because hey, that shit never ends, we can talk about that ANY time):

It has been over 6 months since I’ve had a drink.

It has been over 8 months since I’ve taken prescription medication.

I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PRAISE.  This is what has worked for me.  It is my experience.  It is not everyone’s.  And while I can be proud of myself, I’m not special.  I am just like everyone else, with my own issues and ways of dealing with them.  But that’s just it, isn’t it:  I’m dealing with them.  Not just pushing it into a hidden space.

I wish I could say they have been the BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE EVER, and while they have been infinitely better than many times in my life, I’ve been raw, vulnerable, and without any door to fucking hide behind.  It is uncomfortable.  It is sometimes painful.  It is, at all times, awkward and surprising and immobilizing and unfathomable,  and a giant dichotomy inside my brain that I mostly don’t have any way to resolve.  And that is why two words are the only ones that can make any sense to me most of the time:

LET GO.

Because hanging on is for suckers.

I guess now everyone gets to find out who I really am without that door hiding the mess.  Including me.

Should be fun, and I’m really not saying that sarcastically at all.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.  And, more than anything, I am completely cognizant that it took all the other experiences to get here.  I am grateful for every single minute that has led me to where I am, for a garage that I’m not scared to be in, and a door that’s open for perhaps the first time.

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Saturday it’s a Saturday!!

Ten awesome things that happened today: 

1)  Drank a lot of coffee.  

2)  Got this at a garage sale and have already remembered how to play “Faithfully” and am working on “Royals” and will master the entire Tori Amos catalog by September.  MELODIES ONLY CHORDS ONE SWEET DAY 

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EVERYONE IN MY HOUSE WINS

3)  Baked a tasty-ass apple pie for a friend’s unbirthday (32 does NOT get a birthday.) 

4) Got an awesome text from my tattoo-artist-apprentice husband who apparently can’t wait to see me in action with this sweet keyboard. 

5)  DID DISHES, YO 

6)  Got these figs off my own fig tree 

Trees are miracles.

Trees are miracles.

7)  Got to see great friends all day long 

8)  Ate cake balls 

9)  Opened up a liter of cherry Dr. Pepper like a champ.  Not figurative.  Sorry about your pants, guy.    

10)  More keyboard.  THE END 

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Eating Like a Toddler, or How Not to Diet

I don’t care what anyone says.  I was done with trying to lose weight because it seemed like the harder I kept trying, the worse it got and the more I totally did NOT lose weight.  AND THEN, a friend had me read this book:

I EAT WHUT I WANT

OR, I EAT WHUT I WANT, SHUT UPP

 

So far, it is working like a champ in that I have stopped the following actions:

1) Obsessing every day about what the scale reads

2) Weighing at all pretty much, for that matter

3) Without weighing, my day cannot be ruined

4) Only eating certain foods.  There are no more red light foods.  Awesome.

5) Eating when I’m not really hungry

6) (and most importantly) GIVING THAT MUCH OF A SHIT WHAT EVERYONE THINKS

 

Yeah, I am eating apple pie for dinner.  Oh, and some hummus.  And maybe I had some breakfast sausage.  Whatever.  I feel fucking great, have lost 6 pounds, and actually am getting better at realizing what “hey ok ok ok you’re full stop eating” feels like.

 

My lunch today was mini-pancakes and some rice with broccoli.

 

I CAN’T WAIT FOR TOMORROW.

But the big news is this:  There’s just nothing fucking wrong with me, despite what society tells me, despite what people I know tell me, and despite what I tell me.  My doctor has confirmed that all my fancy blood work is STELLAR and MAGNIFICENT and lots of other words like that.

So suck it.  I’m technically overweight.  I jog around my kitchen.  I eat weird food combos.  And I AM ACTUALLY AWESOME JUST THE WAY I AM.

Life’s too short to be miserable about who or what you think you’re supposed to be.  Go out and be what you are, right this minute.  And only this minute.  Because the last one is over, and the next one, well, it will be along directly.

 

DINNER IS FOR PIE

DINNER IS FOR PIE

 

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The Alien Transformation is Almost Complete

Here’s a scene from last night.  This happened.

 

Husband:  “What are you doing?”

Me, while jogging around the dining room table:  “I’m a little freaked out by myself right now.  I think this is like running.”

Him:  “Yes, what you are doing right there is jogging.”

Me:  “Yeah, I don’t know what the fuck it is but I think I kind of like it and that’s really uncomfortable.”

Him:  “…”

Me:  “Yeah, I know.  Just walk away.”

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME.  

 

 

 

 

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