Monday, August 5, 2019

A Poem Long Time Coming

**Heavy post and trigger warning for victims of gun violence**

This is not something I've done here before, sharing poetry or my opinion on an issue other than butter. But I couldn't think of another forum in which to share this so here goes.

I wrote this back in March, it was for a class and I picked the topic before a mass shooting took place which almost made me feel the subject I chose was even more poignant than intended. I didn't want to share it beyond my class though. Since the world was temporarily reeling after the shooting, I thought it wouldn't be the right time and it made me nervous to share my writing and in doing so, potentially spark a debate I didn't want to have on gun control.

But it also felt like something that needed to be shared eventually and I had a moment where I thought "it's okay, I can publish it later after the next mass shooting". And I realized that I've accepted that there will be another one. And another one. And another one until we do something about it. Not just offer our prayers, our thoughts, our condolences. This is our reality until we act to change it.

I'm not looking to start a debate and I'm not saying I have the answer. I'm saying that I can map my life in mass shootings. I can remember where I was, what I was wearing, just like with 9/11. I remember when we stopped doing school drills for natural disasters and started doing them for active shooter scenarios. For awhile, it felt like these tragedies were inching closer and closer to me, that inevitably they would hit my life full force. But I've realized that it's not that it's getting closer, it's that it's getting bigger -- it's spreading. And unless we change something, it will indeed be a reality, not just an inevitability.


Touch me. Feel me. My edges, my grooves, my curves. Push through my resistance, one
last obstacle -- are you sure you want to do this?

I am cold. I am heavy. Laden with guilt and power and regret.

My burden is easily discharged but that leaves me heavier than before. My purpose, my destiny, is only to tear apart, to destroy. To end.

I try to stop, to resist, but I cannot -- one, two, twenty, fifty. They fall. I see them all before me and see no difference -- a can, a deer, a human. A child, a son, a mother. Black. White. They fall the same.

And they all look the same when we meet. Indifference becomes disbelief becomes alarm becomes fear becomes nothing. I see brightness. I feel heat. I smell metal.

I do not hear them though. My own anguished cry deafening to the point of nothingness, a vacuum, void of sound.

And when all is said and done, there is a twisted peace. It is quiet. It feels cold. It smells metallic.

I leave in silence, heavier than before.

Monday, March 11, 2019

On Adulting

Did you ever have a chore chart? I didn't, we just did the chores and that was our "contribution to the family" (I wish I were kidding but that is still a phrase used today by me and my now grown-ass adult siblings when we do something for our parents or pay for something). But we had a chore chart at camp so we would keep the cabin clean and while we were at activities, the 'cleaning fairy' would inspect the cabins and give a sticker for clean bunks. If you got a week straight of stickers, the whole cabin went for ice cream. Incentive. I should also note I was not a camper, I was a counsellor. So I was the 'adult' encouraging the children to clean so I could also get free ice cream. Win-win.

Well now I'm an adult and I pay my own bills (I buy my own diamonds -jokes- and I buy my own rings), get myself to work, clean my flat, wash my clothes, cook my meals: where is my gold star?! Where is my reward for adulting?! My sister gave me a sign for Christmas that reads "I can't adult today" which is something I will sometimes text her (I also text her gold star emojis for myself when I do things like pay my bills or save money).

I think the simple answer is the reward for adulting is life or rather, control of one's life. "Adulting" wasn't even a thing before we millennials made it a verb. Adult was a stage of life. So far as I know, and maybe I'm just uncool, there's no term for "teenagering" when they have an emo tantrum or storm off in the middle of dinner, they're just "being a teenager". Well this is called just being an adult. The issue I think we millennials have with it is it's permanent: for a generation that is all about 'follow your own path', work-life balance, gap years, living abroad, an overall transient and experience-based lifestyle, being an adult is terrifying because it's FOREVER. We will from now on be an ADULT.

I read this article that talked about part of why we have created this term for just being a certain age and independent is because we are actually just burning ourselves out. It's not 'adulting' it's another fun buzz word: 'millennial burnout'. We have been given the pressure, by ourselves and/or society, to 'make it'. Make it where?? Make it hoooow?? Apparently to adulting.

So we've gone from Peter Pan-syndrome to Adulting to Millennial Burnout. Are these official diagnoses yet?

If I had a dollar (or 1.30 pounds) for every time I've thought to myself (or directly been told) "you have to make it worthwhile", I could stop adulting altogether and just retire to a small island. We are stereotypically a spoiled generation where our parents' investment (because yes, we were their beloved children but we were also expensive to send to school when tuition was on the rise and more kids were competing for fewer slots so we had to have a leg up in the form of SAT prep class or private school or lessons in some obscure activity that would set us apart) in us must be returned in the form of 'worthwhile'. But we also have more flexibility and opportunity than our parents to work crazy (or not) hours, to take as much vacation as we want (or at least more than our parents did) and have less formal relationships with our coworkers which goes against previous generational definitions of success and therefore 'worthwhile'.

So whatever you're doing, gold star! You got yourself to your friend's birthday on time: gold star! You remembered to bring a card for said friend: two gold stars! You even remembered said friend's birthday before Facebook told you: get yourself some boozy ice cream because you my friend, are a bonafide adult.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Expectations vs. Hopes

I'm a planner, if you've ever met me, this is quickly apparent. If you haven't met me--trust me, I'm the planner. I love hosting a good theme party or dinner. Friendsgiving? Check. Royal Wedding? I've got your tea sandwiches and bunting right here. Valentine's Day? Okay I might one day invest in a black heart pinata and baseball bat but for now settle for a solid girls' night dinner. Mind you, most of this never made it on the blog, oops! But I've roasted a turkey and made wedding cupcakes with Harry & Meghan's faces on them like the best of 'em.

Recently I had a couple people comment that I shouldn't set my expectations too high for these parties/plans so I'm not disappointed if they don't turn out the way I envisioned. Valid. But it got me thinking about the difference between expectations and hope. I posed this to my sister who unfortunately misinterpreted the question, sent via text, to be a frustrated rant/cry for help (which to be fair, is usually what I'm doing). But she wrote this post quickly to answer my question and then I clarified that it was really a musing about how we are encouraged to hope and dream while simultaneously told not to set expectations.

So how do you have hope and dream for something without setting expectations? Isn't a dream an expectation? No no, a dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep, duh! Couldn't resist a Disney plug. But seriously, we don't say "don't dream" or "don't hope" but we do say "be mindful of your expectations" and my personal favorite as a singleton getting unsolicited advice from people in long term relationships that suddenly makes them experts on dating: "maybe your expectations are too high".

(or Philosopher's Stone for the Brits)
Are my dreams too high?? Is there too much hope in the world?? Doubtful. If anything, I don't like to hope for things because that leads to disappointment (did I just answer my own question?). Expectations feel more concrete, black and white achievements. They are met or they aren't. But hopes and dreams have a spectrum, it's more emotional to me. Your expectations could be a 10 and you hit an 8, that's not failure. That's an 8/10! That's above average! So double rainbows didn't spontaneously shine down on you (that would be an 11) and Bradley Cooper didn't buy you coffee (dreamzzz--but that would be like a 25) but things were still great!

So from one hopeful dreamer masquerading as a black-hearted pessimist, have hope and courage to dream. Just don't expect them to come true (kiddinggggg...sort of...).


Thursday, February 7, 2019

WTF, January

Pardon my language but what the actual frick, January?! I thought it was just me who felt like this month dragged on and on and on but given the number of memes popping up about how January lasted for 5 months, "30 days has September, April --- all the rest have 31 except January which has 95", companies offering promotions for "surviving January" --it's not just me!! Also, man, 30 Rock was a great show.

So why did January feel so awful and long? Yes, it has a bonus day, a few actually if you compare it to February. And yes it's dark and cold but we're past the shortest day of the year and on the up and up! January had New Year's, returns from the holiday and therefore short work weeks. It had routines and ambitions and resolutions. And it also had over-estimation, over-commitment and over-work written all over it.

Maybe we get so focused on improving ourselves and changing ourselves, doing all these new things, we get lost along the way. In trying to start the year off well, we actually start it off overwhelming ourselves. And even if we're past the shortest day of the year, it's still dark most of the time and when it's not, we're stuck at work. And it's still cold and rainy in London or the US (well, dark and snowy and cold af). We didn't have to fix it all in 31 days but it certainly felt like it sometimes. 

So as we enter February where we have a groundhog tell us whether winter will be longer than usual, another set-expectations-too-high-holiday (Valentine's Day), and loads of chocolate to comfort us as a result, just remember that in a short bit we'll be in March (#birthdaymonth) and that much closer to spring (and a holiday devoted to drinking which is far better than devoted to cheesy romance). So what did we learn from January? Be kind to yourself, don't over-commit (I say this as I currently have 0 free nights for two weeks), and remember you've got people to lift you up who also feel like January lasted forever.

Of course there were moments of joy last month but if I were to Marie Kondo it and pick up the month of January and ask myself "do you spark joy?" it would be a hard pass from me. Thank you for your service, bring on February.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Waffles for One

A few years ago, I read a book called Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, a collection of essays and stories about the crazy meals we make when we're just cooking for ourselves. Cereal, beans and rice, ramen, Oreo cookies, popcorn! Often my dinner alone is whatever snack food I have around--or cheese. While I'm really good about meal prepping my lunches, something about cooking dinner just for myself is unappealing. And when it comes to breakfast, weekdays it's typically a smoothie or cereal but the weekends, I like to take a little more time to myself and usually make eggs (and I don't even really like eggs but it feels lush to spend extra time making breakfast for myself).

Maybe it's because recipes are made for large quantities that it deters us solo diners from putting in the effort. Lunch meal prep typically means eating the same thing for lunch every day of the week, something I don't mind doing but I know some people get bored and want to mix it up. And while Joy the Baker has cracked the Single Lady Pancake, which at one point I could make from memory bleary eyed pre-coffee, I'm a big fan of waffles.

Growing up, my dad would make waffles on Sunday mornings, a tradition we maintain to this day when we are together. So when he came to London a couple years ago for Christmas, a waffle iron went straight into my Amazon cart to carry on this time-honored breakfast tradition (and because it also meant bacon). And since I have the waffle iron, naturally I want to make waffles! But do you realize how many waffles you end up with, even if you halve a recipe?? A lot. You get a lot of waffles.

On the slightly more philosophical side of things, maybe it's not about recipe yield/quantity at all but that we're more open to putting in effort for others than for ourselves. We'll make a cake for a friend's birthday but not for ourselves. We'll host large meals but not make one solo. Put the effort into yourself because no one deserves it more! And not to be a pessimist but if I don't do it, who will? (No one, see note on solo/alone)

So now, I bring you: Waffles for One. Because #treatyourself and #selfcare definitely applies here. Spend that extra time on yourself preparing a delicious breakfast and some fresh coffee (preferably pumpkin spice). Oh and bacon. Which I didn't do here but do on my birthday.

In retrospect, you can also make a normal batch of waffles and freeze the ones you don't eat, to be toasted at a later date. But let's not ruin the magic of single portion waffles with logic...

Yields 4 waffle squares or one giant waffle and sense of satisfaction 

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1.5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg to your liking (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  1. Heat up your waffle iron and lightly grease
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk, melted butter and egg until smooth. You can also add vanilla here if you prefer
  4. Stir together the wet and dry ingredients until combined. Some lumps is okay
  5. Pour the batter into the hot waffle iron and cook until golden brown (usually there's an indicator light on the waffle iron)
  6. Smother in syrup, berries and whipped cream. Enjoy with hot coffee or bacon while jamming out to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Party for One" and dancing around the kitchen in your pajamas