One Post, Three Cliche Topics

The hardest part of anything is starting. The hardest part of yoga is making the trip to the studio. The hardest part of sleeping is going to bed. The hardest part of writing is sitting down in front of a computer and confronting the blank page.

It's much easier to fall out of habits than get back into them. Even the habits that are good for us. Maybe especially the habits that are good for us.

In case you don't know, I've been dating somebody since April. I try to not be too gross about it all over the social media but it's pretty serious and I'm pretty in love and I pretty have alllll the brain chemicals going on that make you need to spend every single second with somebody. Writing is solitary. New relationships are not.

My boyfriend has been out-of-town for two weeks now. Lara was here for the first week he was gone but I've had all this week to sit down and write. To write here, to go back to working on the writing I started offline while I was working on my short cookbook, to write to my boyfriend (who has written me every single day he's been gone), to maybe work on something for an essay contest and instead I've pretty much done anything but. I've drunk with coworkers, I've marathoned tv shows, I read a solid 15% of Infinite Jest yesterday which is A LOT of reading and thought about how I should write. Thought about what I should write. Thought about how nobody needs read yet another person writing about writing. Or falling in love. Or being a twenty something struggling to make it in New York. But I'm already writing about writing, so I might as well give you the rest.

***

If you're like me, then by the time you tell somebody you love them, you've probably already said it a hundred times in your head. Changed a hundred sentences to things that sound more reasonable but really mean "I love you so much my heart might burst if I go any longer without saying it but I'm a coward and I'd rather it burst than break".

But eventually "As you wishes'" have to turn into "I love you's" or your heart doesn't so much burst as wither and that place on your chest that feels like it's been rubbed raw with sand paper only chafes in a bad way instead of the way that makes you grin like a mad man. It's a reminder that you are without armor. It's a reminder that you are cracked open and terrified for all the right reasons.

There is nothing new to be said about falling in love under the sun. There is nothing reasonable to be said about love though the smart stupid logical part of me has lots of thoughts about hormones and neurotransmitters and how long things last. Look, these neurotransmitters don't just fire for anyone, baby. Men that won't get references to The Next Generation, Season 7 Episode 19, need not apply.

I wrote this a month ago, which was a month after I started thinking about writing it. I am head over heels in love, and I'm more comfortable telling you, internet, about when things go wrong, then things going right. Maybe I don't want to jinx it, maybe I think nobody wants to hear the disgustingly cute stuff I think all the time right now or maybe I'm still a little more comfortable managing chaos, than managing happiness.

***

I've lived in Bed Stuy for almost a year now. When we moved in here it was because it is a huge amount of space for about $600 less than what we had set as the maximum price we were willing to pay for rent. At the time, I gave pretty minimal thought to living in the hood because it was just an awesome deal. When we moved in here, rent+utilities+student loans+metrocard equaled about 1/3 of my income. Considering most New Yorkers pay over 1/3 of their income just for rent, that felt pretty comfortable. Fast forward one year later and with my reduced income rent+utilities+student loans+metrocard equals just over half my income. Even right now when I'm working a busy schedule and have had at least ten hours of event pay a week. At this point, I basically live in the hood out of necessity, which definitely doesn't feel comfortable. I'd like to say I've stopped going out with my friends as much because I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my boyfriend, but it's mostly that I'm incredibly embarrassed by how little I can afford and anxious all. the. damn. time.

You want to know the worst part of this, though? I make an above average hourly wage for a pastry cook in this city. I found this article hilarious because I just wanted to scream "Maybe if you want more cooks to stay in New York you should pay them a fucking living wage". I make the same amount of money right now I made 5 years ago in Berkeley. Be better, New York City.

I am having some serious thoughts about whether or not it's worth it to be a chef here. About how being a chef here compromises my values on quality of ingredients, where they come from, how they're grown, how it all affects the economic injustices of our food system. About the ways in which it compromises my values on how workers should be treated. Catering, in particular, creates more waste (both plastic and food) than I ever could've imagined and that breaks every piece of my liberal Bay Area heart.

My cooking class will start-up again with the school year, and I am happy for that. I have fantastic coworkers and open and honest communication with my boss and I am happy for that.

I want to teach more and I want to write more. I guess it's time I commit more time to doing that.

You Can't Run Away, Bunny

To this day, my mother still calls me Bunny, sometimes Bunny Rabbit. My father used to call me Rabbit. He probably still would. It's strange to me, this pet name used by both my parents. Anything shared by my parents is strange. I forget that at some point they actually had a life together, that this is something they must've come up with together, like grilled cream cheese sandwiches. Those are the only things I really associate with both of them- my lapinesque nickname and grilled cream cheese sandwiches.

My mother recorded bed time stories for me when I was a child. By the time she got clean and was back in my life, I was too old for The Runaway Bunny or The Velveteen Rabbit and had stopped listening to them. I doubt I ever told her how much they meant to me. How many times I listed to them. We're not much for talking about feelings in this family, anyways. But I've been thinking about my nickname. About those stories. I think about the cadence of her reading voice. The slight break in it as she read the Skin Horse's wise words. The words that still make me wonder if I'm less velveteen and more something with sharp edges that breaks too easily. I think about how similar my reading voice is to her's. The cadence I hear in my head as I'm writing.

A friend of mine mentioned grocery shopping late at night a while ago and I found myself instantly transported to early childhood. To walking with my father through aisles crowded with flats mid restocking. To the flourescents that seemed so bright in contrast to the midnight outside. I can hear myself insisting on Honey Nut Cheerios and making him promise to make me mac'n'cheese. The real kind, not from a box. How happy I was to be with him, even at a time I should've been exhausted, even at a grocery store. And that mac'n'cheese memory flashes me forward to being a teenager, to me making him teach me how to make it, not knowing I only had two more years of getting him to make it for me.

It's December, and grief, it abides you know.

Bits & Pieces (the second)

Social Life/BiSC:

In the last week, I met Adam, Sara and Bob, which means, along with Rachael, Dominique and Nicole, I have met 10% of the people I'm going to Las Vegas with in May. And I have to say if everybody is both as awesome and attractive as those six in real life, it's going to be the most overwhelmingly amazing experience I've had in a long time. Also, I'm really gonna have to bring my A game.

I made some moderately stupid decisions in the last week so that I could meet those people. And by moderately stupid, I mean I went out twice in the last week once knowing I was getting sick and once knowing I was still sick and should be sleeping instead. The result was working with a fever last Sunday and feeling likc if I had to stand for one more second past ten hours of work I might die for most of the week. But you know what? That's the great thing about being an adult. I consciously made those decisions knowing they weren't the best idea and I accepted the consequences and the only asshole to blame was myself. And then I spent pretty much all of yesterday in bed, spent today at AMNH and wandering through Central Park, came home, took a nap because that's what my body said we should do and pretty much feel like a human again. So I think, overall, worth it.

CA v NY:

It turns out you can take the girl out of California, but you can't take the California out of the girl. My pastry cook is giving up cigarettes, soda and fast food for Lent and everybody tells her it's crazy while I'm like "that's awesome, it's really not that bad". And not to pat myself on the back for not having bad habits I never picked up, I just call that normal life. I think most of my friends back home do too. It still weirds me out that the chefs I work with eat fast food. In fact I'm so not used to people eating fast food (with the obvious exception of In'n'Out) that even non chefs eating fast food surprises me. I mean, this week I'm concerned that I'm eating organic yoghurt from humanely treated cows and bread made at a coop because they come all the way from California and I think that's a perfectly normal way to think about food. I guess it's all relative to what you're used to. Hella NorCal, yo.

Boy Stuff:

I really will make out with anyone when I'm drunk. Pretty sure Sara asked me if I would make out with like 5 different people the other night and I said "yes" everytime. Sober me would not have said "yes" that many times. Sober me is now back in charge of my love life. The "don't get drunk on the first date" rule that Michelle gave me is now in effect. Despite being single for a whole year my friends have been shocked the last few weeks when they've asked about my dating situation because there currently is none. At all. Haven't gone on a date in three weeks. There are no boys that I'm currently regularly sleeping with. (I know, it's weird for me too) I am however, currently writing 6 paragraph messages to a guy on OkC that I genuinely want to be friends with. Or more. But most of the time when I go on dates from OkC I'm kind of forcing myself and I feel like I'm putting myself in such a contrived situation because I don't know if I would always go on dates if I had met the guy IRL whereas this guys seems like somebody I would actually hang out with in the real world. So that's possibly exciting.

New Year's Goals:

I'm currently losing weight at a rate of approximately two pounds a month. Did you know I was trying to lose weight? Probably not. Mostly because I think it's the most boring thing ever to read about on other peoples' blogs and because I'm a small person I feel like people will want to punch me in the face if I complain about my weight. But look y'all, I'm a chef which means my weight has actually been somewhat of a constant struggle since I went through culinary school. It also means part of the reason I don't weigh a lot more with what I eat is because I am on my feet cooking for ten frakking hours a day and lifting fifty pound sacks and running up and down the GD stairs. Anyways, with some portion control and stopping to make myself eat actual food instead of just randomly putting whatever cookie is closest at hand in my mouth when I realize I'm starving, I'm slowly but surely losing weight and starting to feel a lot better about my body and not hate the way every piece of clothing I put on fits. Which is good, because I really don't have enough money to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Dairy is the devil. I've gone back to pretty much cutting it out entirely and feel so much better on a day to day basis.

I'm still obsessed with Blue Print Cleanse juices but have mostly just been incorporating them into my regular diet instead of going all out cleanse. I would like to do another three day cleanse soon though.

Random shit:

I read all three books in The Hunger Games trilogy in two days. I would've liked it better if they hadn't been written in such a way that it only took me two days to read them. This is why I don't usually read YA books. Good stories aren't enough, I want to read that sentence that rings so very true my heart aches, that expresses an emotion so perfectly I'm knocked on my ass. I will say that it was a good story and will probably make a pretty enjoyable movie.

Best for last: My new work schedule is 10 am-8ish pm which means I might get to have a social life again. I've only had it for a week, but I think I might love it. I'm still alternating between having Sunday/Monday off and Thursday/Sunday off, which is really weird but the new hours might make it manageable.

More asking, less waiting.

I just realized that maybe part of the reason I feel like I'm going mildly insane is that it's been two weeks since the last time I did anything out of the work/sleep/errands circuit. January, January was just SO MUCH that I wanted a little recovery time, but then somehow that recovery time turned into more recovery time than I wanted and I have not socialized with people outside of the people I work with for half a month. And guys, only hanging out with other chefs? Nonstop ticket to crazytown.

This whole socializing thing, it's tricky, right? To have friends you have to be a friend and I am always at work or going to work or coming from work or sleeping. Unless it's between midnight and 3am. This schedule, it's getting a little old.

To go on dates you have to respond to OkC messages. Or write them. The initiating part, that shits tricky. I never know what to say.

Hi, I'm Alana and I cook a lot and drink whiskey. Wait, it already says that on my profile, shit.

Hey, I see you live in Brooklyn and have artist/writer/creative as your profession and I'm totally not just sending this message because you're hot because that combo totally doesn't equal OMG RUNNING AWAY NOW to an adult woman or anything.

And then you go on dates with a guy that's all PDA-y and "my schedule is crazy too, but I think it'd be worth it to find time for this" and just when you're ready to let him in, you never hear from him again. Ok, fine, our last date was two weeks ago, so "never" might be an exaggeration, but, hey, if you find my OkC profile you'll discover that one of the things I can't live without is hyperbole. So that statement is helping me continue breathing for at least a little longer.

(Please don't go and try to find my OkC profile now)

And then I think, hmm, this guys was willing to go on dates in the middle of the night on weekdays and was pretty cute and nice, maybe I should call him, maybe he's waiting for me to take the initiative. But I took the initiative on scheduling the last date so it's totally his turn because I'm not the kind of girl that likes to play dating games except WHEN I'M THE TYPE OF GIRL THAT LIKES TO PLAY DATING GAMES. So, he has to call me. No pride swallowing here.

Fact: I am really bad at pride swallowing.

Also, how do people meet people not on the internet? I don't even mean just for dating. I also mean for friends. I thought about going and hanging out at the bar around the corner tonight, just to get out in the world a little bit, but I don't have a physical book to read and reading an iPad in a bar would make me look like an asshat and also I'm not sure whether or not I want to be friends with people at the bar around the corner but I don't know because I've never been there. I've only been to other peoples' neighborhood bars in Astoria and that doesn't make any sense at all. But do people actually meet people at bars? I mean, people they hang out with for longer than a drunken New York minute (which is actually shorter than a regular New York minute but it feels longer because you're drunk so you've already become that person's bff)? Do I have to become one of those people that just starts talking to other people at yoga classes?! Because a) I get really weirded out when strangers talk to me so I don't know if I want to be that girl and b) have you talked to people that are really into yoga? No, really, have you?

Clearly, I really need to start working on liking people more, but that's old news.

Do you know where this post is going? Because I sure as heck don't, but it was one of those dump everything out of my brain so I could be able to sleep nights. Sorry I'm not sorry. Maybe I should get a paper journal but I think that would also require getting a chair for my desk. I really need a chair for my desk. And blinds. Don't ask.

Work is frustrating right now. Like, it's a good thing I'm usually closer to whisks and spatulas than knives frustrating. Selectively sending out my resume frustrating. It's a good place to be in while job searching though because I know I only will take a job if I really want it and they're really going to pay me more money. And it never hurts to keep up your resume writing and interviewing game. The place I was at today wasn't quite what I'm looking for, but they did offer benefits which is pretty much the unicorn of the culinary world.

For the most part, things are ok. I can live off the amount of money I'm making this month (unlike last month), I'm meeting new internet people on Saturday because I'm working an 11-8 or 9ish shift so I can actually go out, I'm kitty/housesitting next week which means I'll be living in Chelsea which is pretty much my favorite thing and I have another job interview in the morning. I'm guessing they can't pay me what I want to be paid. But if you don't ask, the answer is always "no," right?

Hey, I guess that actually applies to all the things I wrote about. Tying it together like a pro, bitches.

I should never quit my day job.

Everything is fine, everything has always been fine, we've always been at war with EastAsia

Photo-6It's a fine line for me between self isolation and self care. I spent a lot of last year self isolating, getting through on a day by day basis. Spending so much time with my family last month has made me realize how much moving across country has stripped away all the stress, all the "taking care of" and all the "setting a good example" that I used to hide behind.

Guys, when you strip away "the one that always holds it together and never asks for help"? There's a world of hurt under there. Abandonment hurt. Codependency issues. Anxiety.  I'm not saying these things for sympathy or pity, I'm just saying that right now, these are the things I'm struggling with. These are the things I'm finally letting myself feel. I have worked so fucking fuckity fuck hard to be everything my parents were not. My eyes have been so focused on the prize of a normal, stable, responsible life that I willingly ignored my emotional instability.

Yes, I know it's always been there. There's no pretending when a significant other says things like "Are you getting out of bed today? You're acting like a depressed person" or when you've spent hours curled in a ball sobbing like the world is ending. When I bring a significant other to meet my family, it's not to see if they can handle my family or if my family likes them, it's to see if they can handle me when I'm around my family. Every muscle in my body tenses and you can feel (and hear) the stress radiating from my body. I am not fun. Unless you give me some valium or some booze. I wish that were a joke.

So no, I didn't actually think I was as normal and well adjusted as I convince people I am (seriously, if I had a dollar for every "but you're so normal!" or "you're so together"...) but I think I had myself convinced I had done a lot more dealing than I actually had. I had myself convinced I had the issues UNDER CONTROL.

Guess what? They're really not under control. I mean, maybe, maybe I've got my shit more together than a lot of people wrestling with the same demons. But basically all that means is, at least I'm not an addict myself. That's no way to live life. I'm tired of defining myself as somebody who is doing pretty ok FOR WHERE THEY CAME FROM. I just want to be somebody who is doing really well. Period. No excuses.

When I decided that today was going to be a down day after a month of doing all the things, it wasn't about lying in bed and watching tv and taking a break from my emotions and my life, it was about doing the things that help me feel more together and healthier. I cleaned, I organized, did yoga, meditated, finally put my bed frame together and finished reading 1Q84. Did I watch some tv? Yeah. Did I check twitter obsessively? Is that even a question? Did I also choose to schedule a date tomorrow after work instead of today when it could've been at a more normal time and I'm sure the guy would've liked to see me sooner? Yes. Because y'know what? I had shit I needed to do and a self that needed some care and it turns out people don't actually get mad at you for saying that.

I'm working on learning the difference between when I'm just using excuses to talk myself out of something and when I legitimately need to say "no I need some time for myself right now". I think part of that might be having to show real life people (not just people who read this blog) that I'm vulnerable and sometimes I need help. I don't know if I know how to do that, in fact, I'm actually 100% certain I don't, but twenty six seems about time to learn.

Home is whenever I'm with you

2011 was the year the city that was my second home growing up became my home. I suppose technically, it was always my first home being born here and all.

It was the year I learned to stop missing my father constantly because, somehow, this place, where memories of him are everywhere, soothes and comforts me immensely. I think it's also because 2011 was the year I was forced to only live for me. I had nobody else's needs to put in front of my own and taking care of myself made me miss having somebody to take care of me less. Also, I know my father would be proud of the things I've done this year.

It's the year I learned how dependent I am on codependency, how hard it is for me to just take care of myself and live my life only for myself. I mean, deep depression, in the bell jar, crying jags, barely able to function break downs. The leg up us children of addicts get on others with depressive tendencies, is that we're extremely adept at hiding emotions and will compulsively make ourselves do things if otherwise we'd be letting others down, even if it means hiding in the bathroom and sobbing every ten minutes. So, hi, Al-anon and therapy in 2012. Let's do this.

I learned the thing that nobody tells you about adulthood is that, yes, you can eat pizza and beer for dinner whenever you want, but you'll get way more excited when you have time to cook a real meal. Also, you will become that person that obsessively makes their bed every day just so they can crawl into it and feel cocooned at night and that thinks fresh sheets are god's gift to mankind. That you will wake up some mornings and just HAVE to clean your room before you can even think about doing anything else and that you will get really excited when you have the time and energy to go to the grocery store. Maybe this only happens when you work ridiculous hours, because this week I discovered that if I only work eight hours in a day, there is just SO MUCH TIME to do everything, unlike last week when I broke down and paid to have my laundry done because it just wasn't going to happen otherwise. But I kind of think being an adult is when you wake up one day and realize you're thrilled to change your sheets.

I think adulthood might also be when you move to new places and your friends are the ones that come to visit instead of your family, presumably because your family a) knows you'll be fine and b) puts the responsibility of plane tickets on you. Also, possibly, because your family thinks you're just going through a phase and will come flying back soon. Sorry, family, here for another year and even after my lease is up, I'll probably be here. You're just going to have to come visit if you want to see me more than once a year.

On the flipside, this was the year that I started to almost understand when people don't want to impulsively move across country because "All my friends and family are here". I have met some really great people this year. But, also, it's really hard to meet new people in a new city where you're going only knowing like four people even if the city, itself, is familiar. And it's double-y hard if you work long ass hours at weird times. I feel like I'm kind of starting to collect a friend group but it's obviously not the same as being at home with people I've known 10-22 years.

Yes, Lara and I have know each other since we were three. And that's probably the hardest because Lara is basically my sister and knows to laugh at me when I go on long angry rants and buy me potato puffs when I'm sad but to not poke at me and make me tell her what's wrong unless I want to. And we're both not great about picking up the phone and calling, so I also don't ALWAYS know what's going on with her and can't try to fix things and did I mention I have a problem with codependency?

Right now, even though I know I'm going to be ready to come back to my Manhattan skyline when it's time, I cannot wait to be surrounded by people that know how to read me, that I'm not always keeping some sort of wall up when I'm around and also, that I know how to read and where I stand.

2011 was also the year that I got back into the things I love. A month didn't go buy without me practicing yoga, sitting and listening to a new album or finding a day to obsessively read for hours, even though it meant I couldn't have clean sheets. 2011 was a lot about opportunity cost.

My word for 2011 was "choices" I wanted to keep all options on the table. For 2012, I'm using "stability". I don't need all the options. I want to focus on the good choices I made and expand those into creating a life where I am not sick and tired all of the time, where I have familiarity and routine, where I really solidify my relationships and I continue to live my life on my terms instead of latching onto somebody else's. I'm excited to keep becoming me. Hopefully a better me, even.

“The shelf was filled with books that were hard to read, that could devastate and remake one's soul, and that, when they were finished, had a kick like a mule.”

Reverb prompt 3: What books did you read?

Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin

(Favorite this year, hands down, just fucking gorgeous beyond words. Also where the title quote comes from.)

“The many lights that shone through the misty summer air also seemed to be fires, and everything below her appeared to be alight. And yet the city was not strangled in its own smoke. It was alive, and she wanted to know it, even if it meant the risk of losing herself within it”

"No one ever said that you would live to see the repercussions of everything you do, or that you have guarantees, or that you are not obliged to wander in the dark, or that everything will be proved to you and neatly verified like something in science. Nothing is: at least nothing that is worthwhile."

"Small scenes can be so beautiful that they change a man forever."

"Manhattan, A high narrow kingdom as hopeful as any that ever was, burst upon him full force, a great and imperfect steel tressed palace of a hundred million chambers, many-tiered gardens, pools, passages, and ramparts above its rivers. Built upon an island from which bridges stretched to other islands and to the mainland, the palace of a thousand tall towers was undefended. It took in nearly all who wished to enter, being so much larger than anything else that it could not ever be conquered but only visited by force. Newcomers, invaders, and the inhabitants themselves were so confused by its multiplicity, variety, vanity, size, brutality, and grace, that they lost sight of what it was. It was, for sure, one simple structure, busily divided, lovely and pleasing, and extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built."

The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy

(I just finished rereading this book for the first time since I was 18. Second favorite I've read this year, again, because the prose is just so stunning.)

“...the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.

“And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these, only the Small Things are ever said. Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”

“Perhaps it's true that things can change in a day. That a few dozen hours can affect the outcome of whole lifetimes. And that when they do, those few dozen hours, like the salvaged remains of a burned house---the charred clock, the singed photograph, the scorched furniture---must be resurrected from the ruins and examined. Preserved. Accounted for. Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.”

Garlic & Saphires, Ruth Reichl

(Obviously, love her, love her books)

"While cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce. The thump of a knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red heart. The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid. The tug of sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes. Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions."

The Kitchen Daughter, Jael McHenry

(Food and grief, sweet and sorrowful and for anyone that finds comfort in cooking)

Just a small rip. At first it looks accidental, but everyone on a bench has a ribbon, and a tear in it. It can’t all be accident… It seems such the right expression of grief. I am sad, so in whatever small way I can, I will tear myself apart."

“I want them to bite into a cookie, and think of me, and smile. Food is love. Food has a power."

 "The rich, wet texture of melting chocolate. The way good aged goat cheese coats your tongue. The silky feel of pasta dough when it's been pressed and rested just enough. How the scent of onions changes, over an hour, from raw to mellow, sharp to sweet, and all that even without tasting. The simplest magic: how heat transforms.”

Little Bee, Chris Cleave

(heartbreaking and lovely)

“Life is extremely short and you cannot dance to current affairs.”

“I could not stop talking because now I had started my story, it wanted to be finished. We cannot choose where to start and stop. Our stories are the tellers of us.”

More books I read:

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto, Joan Reardon

Highly, highly recommend. Julia Child was a pretty fantastic woman and these letters show all the work and struggle that went into changing the landscape of American cooking as well as showing the development of an amazing friendship.

A Dance with Dragons, George R. R. Martin

Obviously.

Summer Sisters, Judy Bloom

Written for adults but in the same language and style of the Judy Bloom of my childhood. Love and loss and growing older.

Wildwood, Colin Meloy

Fun young adult book from the lead singer of the Decemberists. Very much in the vein of "A Series of Unfortunate Events". I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

This is maybe another "obviously" but I didn't actually see the movie. I meant to and just didn't get around to it. It's actually a really great book. Not going to lie, I cried at times.

Bits & Pieces

IMG_1057

Social Life:

I'm not doing a full museum tweetup recap this time just because I really don't have as much to say or as many pictures to go with it. The imaging stuff was cool, but pretty technical so I really don't feel like I could do it justice, unlike the big bone room (no, it won't ever stop amusing me). However, I did make more internet friends! Fuck yeah, internet friends IRL. Some of them even live in Astoria. All of them are awesome and we had a Doctor-Who-a-thon.

I think that it's probably good that I spend some time with non food service people so that I remember how the rest of the world lives.

Work:

I got offered a pastry sous chef job for both a restaurant and a bakery (no, I wasn't job searching) and I took it. Start date has yet to be determined but obviously won't be until August. I will have better pay, more normal hours and be cooking with a lot of my friends. Down side: Longer commute and possibly awkwardness that I got the job when other people have seniority. What can I say? I'm good at my job.

ALSO DID YOU SEE THE PART THAT SAYS "PASTRY SOUS CHEF"?!?!?!?

I mean, yeah, I've technically held the title of "pastry chef" before, but I was only in charge of myself and eventually one kitchen assistant, it doesn't count in the same way.

Life in General:

It's not so much that I want to go home as I want the California Coast to move here. I actually really can't see moving back home anytime in the near future. Or possibly the distant future. I don't know, I'm really happy here most days (even when my schedule feels like it's killing me) happier than I've been in a while. I feel like I'm truly basing my decisions on what is best for me in a way that I never managed to do at home no matter how I tried and mostly striking a successful work/life balance.

Plus, I've become an inadvertant morning person whose pretty damn cheerful most of the time.

I'm sorry, I kind of hate me too.

Side note: Does anyone else feel like it's hard to write anything meaningful when everything is going well?

Boys:

I don't know why I find OkCupid so overwhelming, but every time I reenable my account it takes a week before I'm like "Oh my god, too many messages. What am I supposed to do with these?!".

Things I'm good at: Flirting with one boy at a time IRL

Things I'm bad at: Flirting with ten boys on the internet

Also, apparently I'm really good at filling out my profile because I've literally only gotten one response that had nothing to do with my literary preferences. Also, all the boys wear glasses. And live in Brooklyn. ALL OF THEM. Thank you for confirming that I have a type OkC.

But I really do find it overwhelming.

AND I think I'm kind of crushin' right now.

 

I drank myself to sleeplessness last night, I always do

So I had a job interview for a barista position today that I somehow got from sending this as my cover letter (they asked for favorite band and a current photo, I didn't just include it for fun):

I've never been good at the favorites game. I can never choose just one, and when it comes to music, my favorite changes with my mood. I can tell you right now I've been listening to Band of Horses a lot, that some days my favorite song is "Good Feeling" by the Violent Femmes and that when I need to get my house cleaned I either blast the Old 97's or the White Stripes but The Decemberists are probably my favorite band to see live, with Stars being a close second. I have a soft spot for Willie Nelson, early Tom Waits and Bob Dylan.

I have some previous barista experience though I've primarily been a back of house girl and I am incredibly passionate about excellent coffee. Having recently moved from Northern California, I've found delicious coffee a little short in supply in New York and am anxious to spread the good word. I've worked far worse hours than opening at a coffee shop and survived and I'm comfortable working at a fast pace on my feet for many hours. I learn quickly and have a great a smile. Attached you'll find a picture that shows it.

I mean, I have to imagine there are plenty of actual baristas looking for work but I'm assuming I impressed the manager with my intense hipsterness of music choices. Or the fact that my resume is actually probably really interesting to people regardless of its relevence. It goes something like this: working with drug addicted teens, chocolate, pastry, pastry, pastry, more chocolate, more pastry, fill in front counter staff, cake decorating, teaching English in Turkey, volunteering at orphanages/mother Theresa's hospital in India.

I mean, fuck, if I read my resume I'd want to meet me even if I didn't actually have the skills for the job. I look pretty cool on paper guys.

Anyways I went to the interview and I think I kind of rocked it, despite the fact that I was operating on three hours of sleep. Mostly because the manager looked like she was my age and also seemed to be operating on three hours of sleep and ten cups of coffee. Also she had these big glasses that were super adorbs that made me wish I needed glasses and that if I did I could pull off glasses that awesome. Also, there's a staff book club, how ridic cool is that? (I've decided whole words are doubleplusbad apparently) Obviously the pay is shit because it's a barista job but at this point I have not actually worked for a month and kind of feel like I'm going crazy (that might also be due to the insomnia, but whatevs) so I agreed to come in for a one hour trial tomorrow. Or as Mia puts it, I agreed to go give them my labor for free which shouldn't even be legal. Considering back of house usually has to work for free for at least a whole day, giving away my labor for free for an hour sounds pretty cool.

Of course, I got back from that job interview checked my email and had five actual pastry positions finally respond and I was like "But noooooo, I was sold on the book club, now I'm going to have to give up the book club to work in my actual trade for possibly more money," which really shouldn't sound that bad. The thing is, I'm kind of excited about the prospect of getting back in a kitchen but I'm also kind of terrified.

In the past, Alana in the kitchen=crazy workaholic, no sleep (I AM SO GOOD AT BEING AN INSOMNIAC IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY! Oh my god it's really not I'm so fucking fuckity fuck tired), no fun, career Alana. Or given that I now live with Mia who can drink like I can, Alana in the kitchen might equal workaholic/alcoholic Alana. Alcoholic Alana is pretty fun though, so maybe that wouldn't be so bad (you're going to have to take one for the team, liver).

Really, I think that there are a lot of other circumstances that made me burned out and unhappy in food service and that getting back in the kitchen now might totally rock my world. I'm pretty sure one of the places that responded was the one that said working on menu development was a requirement of the job which pretty much makes me want that job right now even though it's a restaurant not a bakery. So tomorrow after my hour of working for free I've got a lot call backs to make because it didn't seem like cracked out three hours of sleep me who thought it was a good idea to eat half a jar of nutella should talk to anyone on the phone, especially potential employers.

In other news, my room is starting to slowly look like more of a room.

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Note my fancy computer desk/charging station and picture board, both created by covering cardboard with scarves. Someday I'll get some sort of actual tabley/desk thing over there but the free stuff on craigslist just hasn't had anything useful yet. And by "yet" I mean "in the last week". I keep forgetting that I'll only have been here a week tomorrow. Weeks seem longer when you're an unemployed insomniac.

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I just thought you should see how heavily I'm relying on scarves to make my room look exciting and inhabited. They're frakkin everywhere.

Oh also, in case you're wondering why I don't just drug myself to sleep- per the drematologist I'm only allowed to take tylenol for I think another two weeks and then I can reintroduce one drug per week just in case I have some sort of crazy allergic reaction because apparently that's just how I roll now. Remember that time I was hoping for super powers? I'm not even allowed to roofy myself this time. Fail.

My New Home!!!

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This is basically all the decoration there is in my room. I really didn't bring much (or anything) with me in the way of home furnishings and I really have no idea what I want it to look like. The result right now is a little odd, it almost looks like a room someone lives in but not quite. My suitcase still sitting out probably doesn't help.

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Wandering around the neighborhood. I found this yard really amusing. Plus we're hella not in California anymore, Toto.

I don't know if it's the unemployment, the recovering from being on steroids or that I was recently on a plane so possibly actually contracted something, but I'm just feeling bleck. Like that I'm coming down with something but not quite feeling. I also still haven't gotten back to a normal sleep all the way through the night schedule and usually wake up once or twice so that might be part of the problem.

Blurgh.

A Perfect Paragraph is Worth a Thousand Pictures

I love reading. I love writing. Not necessarily the act of writing, but writing itself. The beautifully balanced sentence, the carefully placed comma, the subtly perceived symbolism. Of course my creative writing class encourages me towards comparative lit, tempts me to throw my hands up and just give in to being an English major. I want to read it all. I want to find every single sentence that rings so true I can't help but read it again, turning it over and over again in my mind, wondering how it drives itself straight into my soul.

I love it.

I love it.

Some people read for the story; I read for the words. I read literature for the same reason I watch ballet. I read for the pure beauty, for the art, for the skill so many can train for, but so few will ever achieve.

There are days where I wonder if I've ever written one perfect sentence, if I've written anything so profoundly true it stops a reader in their tracks. I doubt I have. I don't know if I ever will. I've never wanted to be a writer. I'm compelled to type these words out but I've never wanted it. Not in the same I've wanted to be an actress or an activist or a chef. They just happen. My thoughts spill over.

I'm a reader, but I'm not a writer. Don't look to me for the next great American novel. I'm just creating writing's sloppy fan art.

A woman wants her cowboy like he wants his rodeo

You're probably thinking, "Really, we're done with the boy, aren't we done with country music?" but alas, no, because there's still so much "what the fuck were you thinking?" followed by "oh, wait, I see why you were suckered in" followed by me still living in the country which means that I drive around in my car yell-singing "I hate that stupid old pickup truck you never let me drive". (Yes, I just admitted to listening to a Taylor Swift song all the way through, please judge me, I would, the alien that sometimes controls my actions even does) Because I do hate that stupid old pickup truck he never let me drive, seriously, I hated the issue of whether or not I was allowed to drive it. This is never something I thought would come up in my dating life. I really wouldn't care except that he offered me his BMW to drive home one night when I wanted to head in before him (who lets someone drive their bimmer before their truck?) AND he had seen me drive the same exact truck (albeit older and belonging to my grandpa) on many occasions and would comment on how sexy he thought it was. Stupid country boy machismo. Lame sauce.

Back on track, I don't know if I actually ever stated this a year ago in my blog, but my plan after breaking up with Jacob was to remain single for a while. I hear this is the reasonable thing to do if, a) you're ending a really long term relationship and b) you've spent more of your life in relationships than out of them and you're only 24 (or, at the time, 23).

There was no plan when I broke up with the boy, because we hadn't really been dating. I started the whole online dating plan in the period when we were still occasionally sleeping with each other and he was sleeping with other people because I had conversations with five people in two days in which they recommended online dating and Ms. Mae told me she thought the only reason I kept sleeping with the boy was because I was afraid that nothing better was ever going to come around. So I figured I might as well give it a go. Oddly, I'm really happy that I didn't go on any dates before telling the boy I had no interest in being friends or even talking to him anytime in the near future. I proved to myself that I could take that risk of not having anyone other than my incredibly loving and supportive friends and family and that I respected myself enough to not let the boy treat me like shit anymore.

(You might be asking why a woman of twenty four who has spent more time in relationships than out would ever be afraid of not finding someone and it would probably be a reasonable question. I don't know.  I guess I'm just insecure and human like that.)

This time 'round I feel the exact same way in a not at all sort of way. I realized as I was looking through OkC profiles and finding dealbreakers I didn't even know existed (Did you know there are still people that think Dan Brown is a legitimately good author?) like using commas instead of periods for ellipses (I think, why else would you put three commas at the end of every sentence?) that maybe I don't actually want to be in a relationship. I mean, I do. I want someone to bring me that giant bowl of mashed potatoes. But I only want it if it's amazing. I'd rather take the time to take a deep breath and figure out what the hell it is I want before I accidentally go on a date with somebody I've thought was a douchebag since about 8th grade and have the emotional rollercoaster ride of my life for the next ten months because it turns out, he is still a douchebag.

So let's figure it out by breaking it down; every other boy mentioned in this blog vs. the boy:

-Jacob: This would be my high school sweetheart. He's still one of my best friends; we watch project runway, look at cardigans and talk about video games. If I has to suddenly face some sort of major life crisis/event he's most likely the person I'm going to call. He is probably the reason music is such a big part of my life. His college major has changed from structural engineering (wait, or was it civil first?) to electrical engineering to architecture to, finally , math. I would not describe him as manly, but he can wire houses and use power tools, so that's something. An all around very nice, nerdy, well dressed (though it's taken some effort to find clothes to fit his 6'6" frame) guy. This is not at all relevant, but he has a Great Dane puppy named Charles that is the cutest thing ever and can probably already fit my whole head in his mouth.

-Just My Type Boy/The Boy's Best Friend: One of my best male friends growing up. He had a crush on me from sometime in middle school until possibly sometime in the past year, or now, I don't know. I've had crushes on him off and on that whole time. We talk about girls being stupid, video games, traveling and watch really bad movies (Like Conan the Barbarian). We've jokingly propositioned each other so many times that I'm fairly certain we've finally ended up in each other's friend zones. He was a biology major with a math minor. Despite being a seemingly oblivious sort of guy, he always know what to say to cheer me up; whether it be telling me I'm amazing or joining in on the self deprecation. I hear he can be a bit of an ass to date. He climbs a lot of rocks, so he looks pretty muscular and manly until he opens his mouth and you realize he's mostly a pretty nice, somewhat awkward, nerdy guy. He also has an adorable puppy, her name is Claudia.

-Charlie Trouble: In case you've somehow missed the me making out pantless in a bar posts, this would be the boy who I may have crushed on, impulsively slept with and broken the bed of while in New York. He might've announced to a bar that I was his future girlfriend and just didn't know it yet and suggested proposal as a method to keep me in New York. We were both inebriated for one of those statements and neither of us were for the other; I'll let you guess which. I feel like it would be a bit silly to write out a whole bit when I've just written about him. Let's just say one of his jackets has a WoW patch, he has a LotR tattoo, I told him I would marry him if he built me the Enterprise... I think you can see where this is going...

But if you want me to spell it out for you: I am a sucker for nerdy boys.

For serious.

(If I ever start a dating only blog I'm pretty sure it's going to have to be titled "Let's talk math baby, and could you be a little awkward about it?".)

-Ché/The Boy: Apparently had a crush on me from third grade until I broke his heart when he asked me to go to a dance in 6th or 7th grade. I don't remember this at all. We had all the same friends but were never particularly good friend with each other. Sometime in 8th grade this changed, probably around the time I called him a chauvinist ass and he called me a bitch. I have no recollection of why this happened, just that it did. I'm sure I had a good reason though. We mostly avoided each other freshman year of high school and then I transferred out of that god damn hick school to the fine/performing arts magnet and forgot he existed until he popped up in my people you might now thingy on facebook. I remember at one point in time thinking he was a nice enough intelligent sort of guy so maybe I was wrong about the whole chauvinist ass thing. We started writing each other daily. He bought me nice dinners, he has a nice car, he knows how to say all the right things he has the responsibility of taking care of things around his and his mother's ranch, he reads a lot, he once asked me if he looked homeless in all brown when he was wearing a very green shirt and he knows how to use a chainsaw. He was a history major, but mostly only likes the old white guy war stuff as far as I can tell. When he'd come home to find his roomie or best friend and me playing MarioKart he would make funof us. Our common interests include talking about our dead fathers, booze and sex. With a heavy emphasis on the booze and sex.

My friends, his friends and he have all stated that he must have been an incredibly long rebound/I was just going for the opposite end of the spectrum, but I think that's only 75% true.

Both of us have an odd, idealized love for country life. I'm not going to lie, it really does give me great joy to drive around in a giant truck blasting country music because it's just straight up fun, so is drinking by candlelight in the barn and being in a house full of people drunkenly shouting along to "Friends in Low Places". However, I do not want to do those things all the time. I like the environment so I like my fuel efficient car. I like going to indie rock shows. Also the ballet and museums. I'm a contradictory sort of girl.

But I think there's a part of me that's a sucker for the ideal of the educated, sensitive country boy. You know, he knows how to have a good time but he also can take care of his responsibilities. He appreciates food cooked from the plants and animals he's grown. He spends days with the woodsplitter so his mother can have firewood for the winter. He'll probably mostly make sure you're happy and you get what you want, but he's not a pushover. He can fix things And, obviously, he knows how to handle a gun when the zombie invasion comes 'round. (And yes, the boy is part of the constantly talking about the zombie invasion club.) This was the impression the boy gave me when we first started seeing each other. I am not actually a sucker for the country boy who wants to get drunk every single night, tells me I can be a god damn feminist as long as I still shave my legs and would like to be able to use his guns to shoot pretty much anyone that pissed him off.

The country boy image still appeals to me, but I'm pretty sure that if I have to choose my type, I'm going back to nerdy but preferably with some of those other qualities thrown in.

I would like a boy that is something like 75% nerdy, 15% country (I may settle for not a pushover and can fix things without actually being "country") and 10% hipster (alternatively, not actually hipster, but likes music a lot).

So basically, right now, I'm going to be ludicrously picky because I'm not in a hurry and I don't ever want to pretend it could possibly work with someone not even remotely my type again. I'm sure I'll relax my standards once I've been single long enough. Maybe I'll even stop judging people by their taste in authors and ability to write out full words (when hell freezes over) but I don't really know.

And the part where I feel exactly the same as last year...

Once again, how does this whole single thing work?

Well there's three people In the mirror And I'm wondering Which one of them I should choose

It's a done deal. There's no going back. I've given notice on my apartment. I've given notice at my job. As of July 1st, home will be home. As in the middle of nowhere, in a studio my family likes to refer to as "the condo", where the grocery store is a good 20 minutes away, shopping is at least half an hour (or the 1.5 hour trip to San Francisco if I want real choices), the beach is fifteen, same as the river, redwood trees are my backyard, I can see the stars at night and I'll be able to spend the rest of my Summer yelling at tourists for driving too damn slow and taking all the parking spaces in my two block town (ok, fine, I admit it, there are actually four whole blocks). And I don't have a job lined up. Yet. It'll happen, if there's one thing  Sonoma County and Berkeley have in common, it's the ridiculous numbers of delicious, slow food eateries. So I'm not too concerned. By which I mean, I'm totally freaking out.

I'm totally freaking out in general. Am I insane? I'm leaving the slow food capital of America, my job at a top reviewed bakery, my wood floored, large windowed apartment in walking distance to BART and the gourmet ghetto to go live in the boonies and go to the J.C.. Rumor has it it's one of the top ranked community colleges in the state but that doesn't change the fact that it's a community college. The place where people go to spend fifty years taking classes and still not have the credits to transfer.

Also, there's that whole figuring out what I'm going to school for bit.

Yes, I've agreed to talk to a career counselor (my grandma's offering to pay, who am I to argue) and I've read and done the activities (well, most of the activities) found in "What Color is Your Parachute". I've discovered that I like to teach, bake and want to work towards bettering society. Shocking, I know. Mostly I've spent a lot of time reading the descriptions and programs of majors I'm interested in and perusing craigslist, seeing what jobs interest me for which I'm not at all qualified . If I go by my highly scientific craigslist approach, I would like to be a kindergarten teacher or a social worker of the counseling variety.  At this point I've narrowed it down to transferring into Sonoma State's Liberal Studies program in the pre-credential track or into Sonoma State's Psychology program in the clinical psychology, counseling and social work track and either way probably minoring in early childhood education. Right now I'm leaning towards psychology and then going to Berkeley for a master's in social work (because, let's face it, an undergrad degree in psych is useless) and becoming a licensed clinical social worker. I realize this is all a lot of schooling, but I'm actually pretty excited about it. I haven't been in real school since high school (I spent a year on basically independent study through a super hippie school and a year going to culinary school- they don't really count) and I think 5 years is a long enough break to get over my burnout. I'm just going to make sure that I don't get too over eager and take so many useless, but interesting seeming classes that I can't transfer than graduate in the shortest amount of time possible.

But tomorrow I might think something totally different. In case you haven't noticed, I've been a little lost. I feel like I'm getting there though. Slowly, but surely, grounding, centering and finding myself again. Remembering who I want to be in relation to myself, others and the world and working towards that ideal a little each day. Hopefully a change of location and pace will help me figure it all out just a little bit more.

In the mean time I'll just keep writing these 300 m.p.h. torrential outpour blues...

I just don't know what to do with myself

I'm officially bored with watching "What not to Wear". I never thought it would be possible. It might just be because I'm sick, and focusing on anything while I'm sick is impossible. I always think that I'll be able to spend the day reading when I'm sick. Yeah, that might be true if I read more "beach reading" types of books, but somehow my tonsil swollen, fevery self can't quite make it through a page of Anna Karenina right now. Surprising, I know. Then I think, "yes, sick days, this is why television was invented!" but you  know what... daytime TV fucking sucks. Yep, a lot. I have On Demand and I'm still done with it- though I did watch "Seven Year Itch" this morning purely because I've never seen it and it seemed like something to do... and it was in the free movie section. So far the only things I've actually enjoyed today are eating the popsicles Lara so kindly provided me with this morning and listening to music just a wee too loud. (That's right... f you upstairs neighbors and your late night battle hymn of the republic blasting ways... I'm sick and you are going to have to listen to the Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist soundtrack... yeah I know you're probably not home...) Oh, and this whole writing thing seems to working okay as a thing to do at the moment. I am, however, aware that a blog post talking about how being sick sucks is... well... kind of obnoxious. I'm pretty sure we're all aware that being sick sucks.

For me, it's another reminder that I no longer have a significant other. So far I've been doing pretty ok working out this whole single thing. It hasn't been that hard to learn to function as a solitary human being. But when you're sick and in a relationship you get used to having someone listen to you bitch, calling to check in, renting mindless movies for you, fetching your popsicles for you so you don't have to leave the couch, snuggling you when you just can't get warm, kissing you all better, just sitting next to you being a comforting presence... so here is my second obvious truth of this entry,  being sick and single sucks (this might be my third if you count the statement that daytime TV sucks).

Now, I'd just like to clarify here, that I'm not the type of girl that often lets her self be taken care of or constantly relies on other people. I've always prided myself on my self sufficiency, possibly to the point of fault, and I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that right now, I would really really like to have somebody to take care of me.

Yup, it's taken me a whole month to come to the realization that I'm probably not ever going to be one of those "single and happy" people. I thought maybe I could be but I just don't think it's going to work out that great for me.

At least I have Pilot and a roommate that buys me popsicles before going to work.
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Also, a job where I get to pause before finishing the pear pie to take this:
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The Voyage Out

I would just like to state, for the record, that the person who wrote the back cover summary (that must have a technical name) on the Barnes & Nobles Classics edition of The Voyage Out (Virginia Woolf) should probably get a new job. If changing careers is too much to ask of them, I suggest they read the books that they write the blurbs for before writing the blurb instead of after or, more likely, never.

Since it seems likely that most people will never read this book because most people don't spend all their casual reading time reading classics (because apparently people who are not me find them boring as fuck) I will share with you why I feel this way... DO NOT read past this point if you ever plan on reading this book...

**serious spoiler alert**

This is what is written on the back of the book:

"We meet young, free-spirited Rachel Vinrace aboard her father's ship, the Euphrosyne, departing London for South America. Surrounded by a clutch of genteel companions- among them her Aunt Helen, who judges Rachel to be 'vacillating,' 'emotional,' and 'more than normally incompetent for her years'- Rachel displays a startling maturity when she finds her engagements to the writer Terence Hewet listing toward disaster. As she soon discovers, 'tragedies come in the hungry hours.'" Problems:

a) Her engagement is never "listing towards disaster".

b) Unless you count her getting some sort of tropical fever and dieing.

c) In which case, I offer, "How the hell does a dead person show 'startling maturity' or learn that 'tragedies come in the hungry hours'?"

d) Seriously, WTF? Who approved this blurb?