Lamesauce McLamesauce

This might be awful, but in case it isn’t, here is the rundown on the pumpkin pie situation this year: 

Pumpkin Pie/Pumpkin Cheesecake Double Header

Makes 1 pie, 1 cheesecake

1 package of Pillsbury roll out pie crusts

1 premade graham cracker crust

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 fat can of plain pumpkin
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 t salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 2 packages of Philly cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm pie crust to room temp and place in pie pan. Bring cream cheese to room temp. Mix dry ingredients (sugar through salt) in a large bowl. Mix eggs separately. Slowly add eggs and milk to the pumpkin mixture. Pour mix into pie crust. With second premade crust, cut out shapes with cookie cutter and add to edges of pie. Cook at 450 degrees for 5 minutes, then turn heat down to 325 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, beat sour cream and cream cheese together in mixer. Add remainder of pumpkin mixture slowly. Mix until there are no tiny clumps of cream cheese. Pour into graham cracker crust. Place in oven at 325 degrees and cook for one hour. 

 

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The itch

So lately I have been watching this one video of BabyK aged 17 months, making adorable animal sounds and smiling with those huge baby cheeks. My professor said, “sounds like you’ve got the itch! Watch out!” It’s true – I am helpless in the face of us, frozen with head cold and gappy baby teeth, happy and snuggly and in sync. I remember how I felt like he was so grown up then!! And then came three. Oh three, age of defiance and unlocking doors and wandering into alleys. Age of repeating things that shouldn’t be repeated and making comments about the physical characteristics of strangers. Age of sharp, completely unpadded elbows constantly up in my boobage. Why, oh why?!?!

I don’t honestly think that I want another baby. I remember how awful that was, and how awful at it I physically am. I just want a time machine, when I could go back to my squishy, cuddly little baby who was often difficult but never truly defiant. We were bonded back then in a way that my newly independent, cocky preschooler is so not down for. Of course we were, because we saw each other every four hours all damn night. So I want to take that time machine right on back to my 11 hour sleep time window at night.

But he is still there, of course. That little boy is inside my big boy. I didn’t lose him, per se. But I miss him. And much as I enjoy the relaxation that comes with older kid parenting, it brings new worries. For instance, my little kid DOES NOT STOP TALKING. Ever. When he is cold at night he talks constantly in his sleep. But for all this talking and book memorization and scrawling on anything and everything that holds still (and even his parents, on occasion) it seems like the alphabet business is going no where. I haven’t pushed it, I’ve assumed that he will pick it up when he’s ready and done what I think is a moderate amount of coaching and questioning and all that. But I had expected to see a lot more letter recognition after 9 weeks of preschool. He will volunteer the letter of the week a little more readily but still is just grasping at shapes. I also know for a fact that he could count to 10 ages and ages ago – but absolutely, unconditionally refused to count for me under any circumstances. So I figured that was what was going on – the more I push, the less he displays. Then tonight he told me that 3 was M. And I thought, fuck. My mom has a form of dyslexia. Fuck fuck fuck. So then I am sitting, alone and unattended (as always) googling preschool signs of dyslexia. Some he has, some he most definitely doesn’t. For instance, being slow to pick up new words or find the right word. That boy has words for days. Case in point: Right now we are playing the “I say, you say” game. “Mom, I’ll say Boo and you say AHH!” “I will say no and you will say yes.” Etc. etc. about four more times than was amusing. Tonight, I was kind of half listening and I said, “What can I say?” And he said, “You can say ‘Oh Dammit'”. Which is true – I am a grown up and I can say Oh Dammit and that references our earlier conversation from four months ago about how he is a grown up and a baby but not a big boy because he can say oh dammit but he didn’t like to use the potty (his logic, clearly)… but why can’t you tell me what letter I’m pointing at when I know that you spent FIVE DAYS of tracing and talking and games and activity trying to tell you what this letter is? Why don’t you like to trace the letters? Why is today the first day you’ve made anything resembling letters (which they didn’t really, but I got the idea)?

I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m sure he’s going to be just fine at that perfect school that I have yet to select or qualify or pay for, but this. This lurking dread about the next thing to go wrong, the next shoe to drop. The days and then MONTHS that I spent terrified that he was not going to keep breathing on his own, aspirating on his own gastric fluids in the middle of the night, being malnourished, or killing himself with his uncanny ability to acquire the most lethal object in the room in record time. This I don’t think I could handle again. I don’t think I can handle another miscarriage. I don’t think I can handle another nine months of fear, let alone hours of lives on the line. Perhaps I am a coward. Or perhaps I just know more than your average mom. Or perhaps I just feel so amazingly lucky to have this one awesome relatively healthy kid that it seems impossible to imagine being so lucky a second time – and then, being even luckier and hoping to not be in PT for almost 30 weeks, to not have liver failure, to not have a c-section, to not be up all night for two years straight. It seems too much to hope for. Probably because it is.

 

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My Catholic Habit

Lately, it seems like Sunday is a day of anything but rest. Sunday is the day when I wake up feeling angry, frustrated, silenced, unknown and anonymous. Discarded, pushed out, alone. After the massive clusterfuck that was 2006-2008, I actually said that I didn’t believe in God anymore. And then I spent a year singing a mass led by a man whom I find it impossible to respect. I tried. I hoped. I prayed. I sang and sang and sang. In the end, the entire church got handed over to this person, and people who had spent nearly a decade worshiping and loving and living along with us were gone. Scattered. It became increasingly clear that our home was no longer a home. We would no longer attend this church. I flirted with the idea of not attending any church, of embracing the ‘just be a good person’ agnosticism of our friends. I can’t say that I wasn’t delighted by the prospect of never again being judged by the self-appointed ‘Mommy police’ who loved to gloat and criticize and shame me on our every meeting. But i just couldn’t kill that little sprig of hope saying, maybe it could be better. Maybe this is the time when religion seems to really work out. Maybe. So our church shopping adventures began.

It is true that not every problem with our old church belongs to that dude. There is no youth programming at our old church, and therefore, no youth. A handful of people under the age of 10 does not a demanding demographic make. Our active preschooler was bored and we spent the entire hour chasing him instead of enjoying the mass in any way. There were cracks in the golden bowl, so to speak. And then that guy with his manipulative and insulting behavior took a sledgehammer to it. I wasn’t really ready to leave, and I know that Mr. K wasn’t ready either, given the way he steadfastly refuses to attend any new church with me. (Or by himself, for that matter.) For all it’s faults and judging and oldness and lack of opportunities, it was home. It was home in a way beyond understanding. So, why I am searching so hard for a new church? Why does it even matter, when the truth is my religious beliefs can only nominally be described as Catholic?

I don’t know. I have come to believe that attending mass is something that I need, much like exercise or time alone or time with friends, to get myself ballasted against the swells of daily life. It’s not a rational, intellectual exercise. In fact, it is something beyond rational. I need ritual. I need rite. I need to feel the vibration in my sternum of hundreds of people speaking together, joined in a singular purpose for 60 minutes. I need to sing – oh, how I need to sing. I need to be tied to something older and wiser and bigger than myself. When I am stressed, when I am burdened, it soothes me. Except for now, when it all feels so foreign and not homelike enough and I sense my existential loneliness in a new and even more distressing way.

So there it is. I don’t really buy that Mary was ever-virgin, even though I appreciate the ‘virgin meant whole, entire, not in a genital sense’ apologists. I don’t believe that only men should be priests, and I’m deeply mistrustful of ministers of any doctrine and the Catholic hierarchy in particular. I am skeptical as to the meaning of Christ and I steadfastly refuse to believe in Hell as something that exists outside of the immediate here and now. Until we can provide true agency and equality for women, we have no business outlawing abortion and even then… even then I’m not convinced that it couldn’t be a moral choice. A devastating and heartbreaking choice, but not inherently evil. I am deeply frightened and enraged by the Republican Party and the Tea Party in particular. I know there are many who would say without hesitation that these statements mean that I am not a Catholic, that I have no business calling myself a Catholic. And yet… I just can’t quit it. Where is the church that is calling me to come home? Who wants such an unorthodox postmodern liberal feminist as a parishioner? One who believes God has bigger things to worry about than her foul language?

Who wants to be our new family?

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You May Find This Offensive

A man is dead. That is very sad. I am sure that the people who knew him, and loved him, and felt conflictedly ambivalent about him, are all devastated. But I am not sad because he sold me things and now he will not. Someone else is most definitely coming to sell me things. I only own one thing that he sold, and it is a pretty decent thing. It never changed my life. I don’t think his stuff was all that revolutionary. I think his attitude towards the public was often shitty, and the naming of a piece of technology after a feminine hygiene item was somewhat less than inspired. But apparently FB is engaged in group mourning, and because of this ‘new media’ and ‘age of technology’ there is very little I can do about opting out. Or disagreeing. Or saying, hey, you might be overstating the case there just a little bit? But because I am the type of person who actually cares about how my electronic communications are interpreted by those around me, I can’t just actually TYPE that shit. OMG. Seriously. Social media pariah!!

I think this has been building since 9/11. Never forget! Like that day that still lives in infamy? That day that no one born after 1985 even knows about? That day, which actually changed the course of history and the course of national identity and all sorts of things, including the life of my very own grandfather, that day is one to remember. This day, this awful awful day, was a day when lots of innocent people died, heroes lost their lives, and our country hit a slick spot on a downhill slide that we still haven’t shaken. I don’t feel ennobled by that day. I feel saddened, and mostly sickened, by what the day has come to mean in our popular discourse. I agreed with the Salon article that said the 10 year anniversary didn’t really matter because we’d never stopped grieving and using it as a justification for all sorts of ends. But it’s not the kind of thing that you can say on a social media platform, or at least I can’t say it there.

I guess what I’m saying, at 12:19 a.m. on a rough week night, is that I will be boycotting FB on days of national sentiment or cultural importance. Ha ha. No. I will be reading, and getting irritated, and feeling confused and gagged and disenfranchised. Because for all of our collective consciousness and hivemind and millions of ways to express ourselves, I still can’t say what I think for fear of what other people will think of me. Or for fear of what someone else will think when they unearth that sentiment years from now. Long ago in the days of Myspace, lo, so many moons ago, I started blogging in a very timid sort of way. And I got bold. I got bold about speaking my truth and practicing radical honesty and freeing myself from the straitjacket of perfectionism, which I love to bedazzle and worship every hour on the hour. I got stronger, and I needed it, because boy was the shitstorm ever coming for me. Now that the shitstorm has mostly passed, now that I once again (mostly) sleep through the night, what am I doing but trying to cut pieces of myself off so that I can fit back in that damn bedazzled jacket?

I think it’s time for a little more honesty. A lot more truth. Because I am tired of lying and covering and pretending and scrambling and hustling and trying so desperately to fit in. If this just offended the crap out of your RSS Feed, or whatever super-connected mega corporation software that delivers these words to you in a hypersymbiotic platform of the matrix – sorry. Go ahead and unfollow now.

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Debuting The Word: 2011 Edition

I realize it may be disorienting and confusing to suddenly be presented with a blog post from me, silent, non-blogging little me, a mere 9 months after my last entry. But I stand powerless before the cultural traditions of New Year’s, and the endless American drive to control, shape and change. You might recall that 2010 was the year of “nourish”, and that 2009 was all about “enjoying”. I don’t know that I would say I have been fully successful in these endeavors, because seriously, it’s a year. But I like it. As an exercise, it fills that post-Christmas suckhole. And so, without further ado, may I introduce to you The Word for 2011:

hope

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [hohp]  Show IPAnoun, verb, hoped, hop·ing.

–noun

1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.
2. a particular instance of this feeling: the hope of winning.
3. grounds for this feeling in a particular instance: There is little or no hope of his recovery.
4. a person or thing in which expectations are centered: The medicine was her last hope.
5. something that is hoped for: Her forgiveness is my constant hope.
–verb (used with object)

6. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
7. to believe, desire, or trust: I hope that my work will be satisfactory.
–verb (used without object)

8. to feel that something desired may happen: We hope for an early spring.
9. Archaic . to place trust; rely (usually fol. by in ).

—Idiom

10. hope against hope, to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it: We are hoping against hope for achange in her condition.
Origin:
bef. 900;  (n.) ME; OE hopa;  c. D hoop,  G Hoffe;  (v.) ME hopen, OE hopian

—Related forms

hoper, noun
hop·ing·ly, adverb
self-hope, noun
un·hop·ing, adjective
un·hop·ing·ly, adverb
—Synonyms
1.  expectancy, longing. 8. See expect.

I really really need to work on 1, 6, and 7. Especially at the holidays when the world is very dark and I am surrounded and sometimes submerged in crazy family dynamics, I lose hope. When I go to school with people who are 10 years younger than I am, who have never held a real job and tried to carve out a life for themselves and experienced real heartbreak, I lose hope. I feel like I am slowly crystallizing into a cynical, jaded, burnt out old lady. It is hard to have hope for our country. It is hard to have hope for our world. It is hard to have hope for my family(ies), in particular. It is hard to have hope for me.

The irony here is that of course I have so many things that I have longed for – I have a beautiful family, a fine house, decent health, enough money, schoolwork that is interesting and progressing. But I find myself mourning for things that are gone. My knees. My abs. My energy. My creativity. My innocence. Where is that 21 year old girl? Where is that 25 year old girl, who was kicking ass and taking names and laughing all the way? I feel old. I feel sad. I feel angry.

So. This year I am going to be thinking about hope. About placing my thoughts and will and emotions on the side of the light. On the side of good. I remember what it was like to feel that with enough hard work and enthusiasm I could make the world a better place. I remember what it was like to believe that life was only going to get better from here (I think). I’m not sure right now how I am going to take concrete steps to implement hope, but I am going to be working on it. And maybe even sharing my thoughts about it now and again.

I hope the New Year brings you everything you long for.

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Both Sides Now

In last season’s finale of House, Amber whispers to House: “So this is the story you made up about who you are. It’s a nice one.” And then Kutner says, “Too bad it isn’t true.”

I’ve been thinking on that a lot this week.

I think I have reached the point where I see identity as something we construct from the experiences and influences that we accumulate. It’s not a solid invention, but it does have a certain stability to it, if you are reasonably mentally healthy. It took me a long time to see that I could be the author of that story, that I could be the one to say, “I am this and not that. I am choosing this and I am saying that this experience meant that.” And now I think I have moved past the empowered, self-actualizing stage of that discovery into murkier waters, where the ability to change and shape and edit that story makes the whole narrative a little… iffy. I don’t think that I’m fabricating it wholesale. I just see now that some judicious editing and some shots from different angles can have a dramatic impact on the story itself, so the questions of what to include and how and when become critical to understanding what the story is really about.

What is the story you make up about who you are? Is it an action-adventure? Is it a romance? A comedy? A police procedural? The Office, perhaps? Are you the hero? The antihero? A supporting cast member?

On Monday I am meeting with someone who I hope will be both friend and mentor, and possibly even job connector in the future. I haven’t met her before but she knows people who know me well. What stories does she already have? What story should I tell her on Monday? I think I probably won’t know until I get there.

Last night was a big night for me, mostly on a personal level but certainly on a professional one as well. A night seven years in the making, in fact. It wasn’t perfect, but it was real. It was almost too much to process (hence the sobbing fit in the kitchen in the middle). I think I was hoping it would hold some answers. That the story that they would tell me about myself would make sense and ring true and link so many other important moments together into a single, cohesive arc. Unfortunately I was too drunk to remember all of it, which is a damn shame. I think it did show me something about how people view me, or view my work, or even what my work has been. More importantly, I think it showed me that I can’t hope for someone else to tell me my story. All of my life I have been looking to someone else to tell me who I am and why I am and if there is one thing that I have wanted longer than anything, it is for someone to sit me down and spin me a beautiful fable about a person named K and what her life and her work and her relationships are all about. Is she really a good person? Is she worthy? Does she matter? Do her actions make anything better for anyone?

What has haunted me most from my childhood is that I don’t trust myself as the author of my own story. If someone tells me that I am bad or in the wrong, I believe it. I will usually, after years of practice, work my way back to where I started from, but those first few steps I just follow along. Conversely, I can rationalize away praise in a hot second. I can always find a negative voice to outweigh the positive. Even last night, knowing precisely how much effort and hard work went into showing me how appreciated and loved I actually am (was?) I could list off the people I suspected were being insincere or upset with me or what have you, whether that was grounded in objective reality or not. I was given the gift of being told, very publicly, that I made a difference in people’s lives and they loved me for it, and I woke up this morning being my same, insecure, inadequate self worried about how fat and flushed I must look in all of the pictures and whether last year’s resentments were still simmering and if it even matters now that my life is so different and perhaps I am not that person anymore at all. All that with a hangover and the imminent prospect of toddler swim class ahead of me, no less. What was painfully clear to me last night is that it is one thing to know that you have succeeded in creating something bigger and more beautiful than you are capable of being on your own, and another thing to watch it bloom right before you, feeling every millimeter of difference between you and your creation. I can only imagine that someday I will look at my son in the same way, and I am both dreaming of it and dreading it. It is the difference between being the flower and soil from which it grew.

Which is, right there, the story I am making up about who I am. I am soil. I am something that isn’t anything on its own, but I was able to support and grow something wonderful. But I see that is only one version of the story. A different narrator might paint me as the careful, skilled and patient gardener, who applies years of knowledge and wisdom to nurturing something delicate and new. The story I am telling myself now is that I am both of those narrators. I am looking at my story from more than one angle and in the end it is the story that I make up about who I am that matters. When I tell myself that story, about the fiber and the character and the qualities of the person I am, then I can also tell myself stories about how that person acts and behaves and impacts other people. This has been used to great effect by villains and dictators and even your common, garden variety crazies, I know. I think that’s where the people around you become kind of essential – are they telling you the same story? Is it sort of similar? Not even close?

Perhaps the reason that people who need people need them is that they need to hear their story, repeated back to them in a feedback loop that tells them where they are. An echolocation, of sorts. One of the reasons that I am struggling with this so much right now is that I don’t have my people, and I don’t know my story. I’m stuck between chapters, waiting to see how the cliffhanger resolves itself. And I’m really bad with surprises.

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A Light Snack

So, most appropriately, I have been thinking on the word for the year, nourish. And let me tell you, I think I picked a winner. It seems to be the golden ticket. I have made a few small steps towards nourishing myself, and I thought I would post them here in my little online diary…

1. Realized that the ticket to feeling better about myself, and therefore handling stress in ways other than shoving food in my mouth, is working out. Maybe other people need some other step first, but working out has to be my number one. So the more I make it to the gym, or even just do some yoga and push ups in the living room, the better I feel and the better choices I am able to make.

2. At least looking at the last semester, school is really not good for me, mentally or physically. This is not the same as not being good at school, which I am. I think that a lot of my poor eating choices are about being stressed at school, not to mention chronically sleep deprived (clinically proven to increase sugar cravings, in addition to my complete inability to get caffeine any way but soda) and arriving home at 6:30 and trying to feed myself and my boys. So I am trying to really look at what I can do differently this semester to change that dynamic.

3. I realize that we live in a self-help, empower yourself nation, so this may be blasphemy, but here it is: there are times when it is not possible to do everything well at once. Last semester, it was not possible for me to work out and study and be a mother and a wife to the extent that I wanted to. All of those things happened to varying degrees, but I think I can look back and say I was really just doing the best that I could with what I had at the time. This semester, I think I am more comfortable with being in class, am already getting more sleep (thank GOD!!!! Pediasure, you are my favorite friend!) and have friends and study partners and routines in place. All of that had to be built from the ground up last semester, and I am hoping that I can take that energy and expend it at the gym.

4. I have to feed myself as a creative person. NEWSFLASH! I know. But I was so drained and dried up in that area and now that there is no pressure and no performance dates and no endless emails and personality management crises…. I am feeling some small faint stirrings there. I am reading books. I bought myself some new music with my shiny iTunes gift cards. It is very nice to feel excited and interested in something again, even though that is as far as I have gotten. I feel like if I keep doing this then eventually I will have something to give again. Have some energy to create something new. And no, I really do not even mean a child. Dear Lord.

5. I bought myself some new work out clothes, which I didn’t even realize that I completely needed but man! Those sports bras! They are really something! So I feel better about myself before I even get to the gym, which also helps.

6. Tomorrow I am going to go through my closet and do a big purge. And then I am going to make some strategic lists. And then I am going shopping (probably not all tomorrow). And then, I am going to lose some weight and look super cute and do it all over again. Because I can.

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