Monthly Archives: December 2013

Monday Madness: F*ck! I’m in My Twenties.


This is the title of a book I got for Christmas. Yes, it was on my wishlist. Because I am in my twenties. And it’s kind of weird.

The book actually has that asterisk. I guess you’re not allowed to actually write “fuck” on a book cover, because Go the F*ck to Sleep had the same thing. CENSORSHIP. PROTECT US FROM THE DIRTY WORDS PLEASE, BECAUSE THEY’RE THE REAL PROBLEM AROUND HERE!!!

You might not be surprised to hear that things have been a little bit crazy lately. Between the holidays and visiting family, the emotional mess I became in the few weeks before the holidays (for no reason, really), the unusual work schedule, and the weather (it turns out I actually hate winter, so, yeah), I feel like I haven’t had a chance to really relax pretty much since Thanksgiving.

That’s all about how I spend my time, though. I need to figure out how to manage time and money effectively. Less procrastination. In my last year of college I resolved to do my homework as soon as possible and never put it off. That didn’t happen, of course, but I think I finished everything at least the day before it was due. Unfortunately, I have no actual deadlines to work with now…

I would really like to spend January on vacation. I don’t mean out of town, away on some tropical island somewhere–although I guess that would be nice too. I was actually thinking staycation. Because all I want to do right now is nurse my creativity. I want to read all these books I’ve had around, many for over a year now, and absorb the literature and the art. I also want to re-read Memoirs of Hadrian and The Waves, both fantastic books I’ve only read once. I need to finish Pride and Prejudice, finally, and read at least some of the entries from History of the World in 100 Objects. I got it as a present a long time ago, because I claimed to want it very very much, and I haven’t actually read a single word of it.

And then I want to delve into the stories in my head. There are so many, and they’re tired of being unseen. It’s like my productivity as a writer is a frozen river; it’s flowing, but I just can’t get to it through this layer of ice.

That ice is day-to-day life. It’s an 8-hour work day plus an hour of commute at each end. It’s forcing myself out of bed in the morning when I’m still so tired, and trying to get through the morning quickly enough that I’ll get to work on time (sometimes…). It’s those evenings when you get home and make dinner, and do the dishes, and then take a shower, and then you pretty much only have time to go to bed.

Because I spend way more time complaining about all this stuff than actually taking steps to improve my life, I feel the need to make a certain point here: this stuff is a lot easier for some people. Plenty of people wake up on time (even if they don’t enjoy it) and they go through their work day and they get home and are productive in their free time. I suspect that these people are well-adjusted ones who had mostly happy adolescences and were never lonely or excluded, because they were “normal.”

I am not one of those people. For me, the idea of coming home after work and cleaning and writing and doing the things I want to do that would make life nicer in general is at times quite impossible. Making some kind of sandwich melt in the toaster oven and then watching shows on hulu for three hours always seems so much simpler and more attainable of a goal.

But I’ve got Resolutions this year! (One of them is making the updates to this blog I talked about in an earlier post.) I’m thinking of them as Non-New Year’s Resolutions, because I don’t think New Year’s Resolutions actually work. I’m planning to make a youtube video about it and posting it early in January… I’ll link it, so keep an eye out if you’re interested. In a nutshell, my resolutions are about getting off my ass and actually trying to do the things I want to do. But it’s more particular than that.

With a reluctant sigh, I guess I should get back to that “life” now and get something done…

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Monday Madness: Why Do I Holiday


Madness indeed. I don’t really feel like writing anything. Everything’s just a mess, there’s no time to do anything, and I’m off to the family Christmas traditions tomorrow morning. All I’ll have time to do between now and then is pack and eat breakfast. Maybe some reading.

It’s strange how stressful work can get when there’s any more than a day or two off in a month. How am I supposed to finish my work? AAAAAGH!!!!

Today was weird, and almost bad, but I had a really nice time at lunch and tasty food. Just about made up for the unfortunately icky weather.

What is there to say? My mind is already on vacation. Anything I type right now is going to be mediocre at best. That’s the Joy of Christmas, folks!

Fingers crossed that my train tomorrow won’t be too crowded, and that eggnog will cure my silly brain. Eggnog inspires productivity, right?

Damn If I Know


Off and on for a few months now, I’ve had a craving for a hot dog. This is probably the strangest craving I’ve ever had. I never really liked hot dogs that much. I always smothered them in ketchup, to the point where most of the flavor was, in fact, ketchup. It would be easy enough to buy hot dogs at the store and just have one, but the problem is that I just want one. One hot dog, one time. If I bought a whole package of them, at least four would go to waste. And I know you can get them at some restaurants or food trucks, but if I’m going out to eat, I’m not getting a hot dog.

Besides, the whole mystery meat thing is pretty off-putting.

People who use a nextbus-like app will know what I’m talking about now:

Sometimes, I’ll check the app to see when the bus will arrive as I’m waiting. The app predicts that the bus is running on time, and updates accordingly. I refresh as it gets close to arriving to make sure I’m not missing something. I watch the road. The app says the bus has come and gone, but it definitely hasn’t.

What’s that crap about? They don’t track buses that aren’t running, so… what’s the deal? Did the bus take some weird detour and skip that stop? Did it drive off into an alternate dimension? Probably.

Life’s strange mysteries.

Monday Madness: Naked Santas and Overspending


First, I want to say that what happened Saturday night was barely a snowstorm. In Boston, it had completely stopped by Sunday. And yet, this morning there were too many stupidly icy sidewalks (hint: one is too many) and ridiculous traffic because no one can ever remember how to drive once there’s the smallest amount of snow. So I give up. If we have another snowstorm, which seems likely, I’m just not going to leave my house until spring. I’ll do that peapod thing to have my groceries delivered and order lots of pizzas.

Now, a quick thank you to everyone who liked my cupcake post. It’s nice to have that validation, since no one I invited over to have some thought it was worth the trip–either for having the cupcakes or for hanging out with me. I mean, that’s a major fail, right? But I realized I hadn’t done a real food post for a while, so there you go. There are still about four cupcakes left, but by now they’re on the stale side, so probably not worth a trip at this point anyway.

Logically I know people are just busy and sort of far away (unfortunate consequence of living in Boston: only friends who live in your neighborhood are actually easy to get to), but emotionally it just feels like everyone’s rejecting me. I started out December being really excited about Christmas, but now I’m kind of depressed.

I’ve been shopping way too much. And then, you know, the second you say “Ok, that’s it. I’m going to be good and not buy all this stuff I don’t need,” that’s when something comes up and you end up spending anyway. Like Christmas presents (I didn’t spend that much, but combined with everything it adds up), or the $20 off a $50 purchase from Sephora with a time limit (how could I pass that up?), so you can get that $34 container of moisturizer without feeling so bad about it. The good news is, that one container is probably going to last me at least six months. I think it might be time to trade in my coins for Real Money. It won’t be that much. Probably somewhere between $10 and $20. But it’ll do me more good in my pocket than sitting in a jar on a shelf.

Ok, I know I’ve been teasing you. You’re wondering about the naked santas, right? Well… Read the rest of this entry

Eggnog Cupcakes: Success


(but could be better)

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There they are, slippy-slidey goo of frosting and all. This won’t be a recipe or much of a process post, because if you really want instructions for baking cupcakes I am not the best person to ask. Here’s basically what I did:

  • Add a bit of eggnog and a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg to a cake mix.
  • Fail at making frosting
  • Look up recipe: add a bunch of powdered sugar to a little bit of eggnog, probably still too much, blend, drop on top of cupcakes like gooey mess.

Then they were slowly devoured. The frosting hardened a little after a while, so it wasn’t just goo sliding across the cake tops forever…

They were (or are: there are a few left) very tasty, although not at the level of the bakeries I like to buy from. They were pretty good for homemade, mix-based cupcakes. That’s all I can really say. No one wanted to come over, so the only other person who could form an opinion on them is my roommate, and she said they were good.

Lesson learned: don’t assume you know how to make something like frosting, even if you did it once several years ago, because until you know, you don’t know.

Head over to my youtube channel (link in the “referred sites” section of the sidebar), where I have posted my video documentation of making the cupcakes.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDVblVfQPoU

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Iced Coffee in the (Half-)Dead of Winter


On the bus, as I’m waiting for blood to circulate back to my numbed ears, I look out the window and I see people carrying iced coffees. Large ones. Perhaps I should rethink my theory that I’m insane. But, you know, maybe these people are made of volcanoes.

Ok, maybe I’m still insane…

But at least I’m not crazy enough to drink iced coffee when it’s this cold out.

This morning was day 1 of my new project: being able to wake up like a normal person. Yesterday, after sleeping way too late yet again, I searched for articles about how to wake up more easily. Some of the tips were stupid, but some were helpful, and the most helpful-sounding ones were repeated over and over again.

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Take some time to “wind down” before bed (I’m giving it at least half an hour). That means turn off electronics, don’t eat anything heavy, maybe meditate.
  • Turn lights on/open blinds right when you wake up. I’ve always noticed this definitely does help, but now that the internet has confirmed my observation, it’s officially true.

The articles actually suggest setting your alarm every single day, including weekends… I’m not going to do that this weekend (at least, not both days), and not on Christmas, but I will probably start to do it soon. My winter-induced urge to hibernate does not match up with my daily life. Supposedly, if you stick to the routine, after a little while you’ll fall asleep and wake up naturally at those times.

I’m also going to try, for a little while, to reduce my caffeine intake after 2 or 3 pm. I’ve been known to drink coffee right up until sometimes 9pm, although usually I stop closer to 6 or 7. However, I think that until I get used to falling asleep earlier, having unnecessary caffeine in my system probably won’t be helpful.

I’m not a decaf person. I’ve rarely ever had it in my life. Does it taste different? Is it worth even getting it? Because I feel like it would change the flavor. Maybe it’s just the idea of it–if I didn’t know it was decaf, it would taste exactly the same. I want to do this experiment. Someone, please give me decaf coffee, tell me it’s regular, and we’ll see if I can tell the difference.

Probably not. But I do like to think I would.

That also means less black tea in the evenings. I have no idea what I’m going to drink now. Probably water and green or herbal teas.

However, as I might have mentioned, my policy is not to deprive myself of foods (apparently, this is the European way?) or drinks, so if I really want chai or coffee after work, I’ll get it. I just might hold off for this week, to try to get myself used to actually falling asleep.

If you’re like me, and you’re not a morning person at all in terms of energy, you might like to hear how this project goes. I’ll update occasionally as my sleep patterns change or don’t change, so pop back in next Monday or so.

In the meantime, avoid iced coffee if you live in New England (or Canada, or somewhere else where it’s almost winter). For me.

Monday Madness: Slushy Sidewalks, and Health Insurance (unrelated)


From my window on the third floor, I looked down and there was a nice white sheet on the ground. “Hey look, snow!” Then I went outside, about 1/2 hour later. “Oh… slush. Fuck.”

Snow would be ok. Light, powdery, fun snow. This is more in the freezing rain category, making sidewalks just slippery enough to be a potential problem, and causing giant icy puddles to form at the edge of every curb. This is disgusting, completely unacceptable weather.

Speaking of unacceptable weather, I haven’t managed to complete my health insurance application for the program that’s supposed to replace Commonwealth Care–and don’t even get me started on the fact that they can’t for some reason just transfer everyone over to the new service. You know, like this: “If you qualified for [this program] under the old policies, you will now have [this program].”

I keep thinking, people whose jobs provide them health insurance must have it so much easier, because their employers give them all the forms and whatnot. They don’t have to figure it out themselves.

One reason the application is taking so long is that the website is always having glitches. The first two times I went to do it, the whole thing just wouldn’t work. Now, every time the wording of a question makes me go, “No, neither of those actually apply,” I end up somehow getting kicked out of the application and then I have to go through it from the beginning.

If anyone reading this has managed to do the application and has any tips on how to complete the damn thing, please let me know.

Anyway, considering that you have to register and pay, not just do the application, by the 23rd in order to have insurance in January, it’s looking more and more like I’m getting screwed out of health insurance for the beginning of next year. By a fucking website.

Simple Veggie Cheese Bake–Success!


Does this happen to you? Tell me, please:

After a certain point, your kitchen sponge just smells, no matter how hard you try. Not really notably. Just enough that you can’t really notice it until you use it, and then your hands smell like sponge. Fucking. Gross. But how often should I reasonably expect to throw away these sponges? I’m not made of sponge-money, you know.

Today I threw together dinner with half of a medium-sized eggplant and a summer squash that was starting to go squishy. I chopped them up and threw them in a baking  dish with some grape tomatoes, drizzled (or, more likely, wading) in olive oil and sprinkled liberally with thyme and smoked paprika. After baking for 5-10 minutes I smothered it with shredded mozzarella and then baked it another 5-10 minutes. I don’t know how long it really was. If you do this, just keep an eye on it so you don’t burn the cheese.

When I took it out, the cheese was nice and brown, but not burned. I let it cool a while before trying to serve it, because I’m tired of getting minor burns. When I scooped out a nice big serving, I saw how much oil had pooled at the bottom… could have used a little less. But that’s not really my style.

It wasn’t a fancy or special meal, and it probably would actually be better as a side dish. Still, it was yummy and a low-maintenance alternative to sauteing or stir-frying, my most frequent vegetable modes, which require more attention. I would definitely make this, or rather, some variation of it, again.

Unrelatedly, I still do want to throw away that sponge.

Monday Madness: Really, it’s Egg Nog Season


It’s not Christmas season, it’s eggnog season! I swear, it’s one of the things I look forward to most. And I don’t mean cocktail style, with rum or whatever people put in it. Just plain old, ridiculously sweet, rich, freaking delicious eggnog. Last year I made pancakes with it. This year I’ve been thinking about making cupcakes. Spice cake with eggnog frosting. I’m pretty excited.

I keep thinking about the pumpkin saturation we’ve been seeing the last few years. every fall, or rather, late summer, pumpkin starts creeping in, and by the end of September you can barely take a step without colliding with something pumpkin-flavored. Maybe it’s that fact, or maybe I just don’t like them as much anymore, but I’m pretty much “over” pumpkin coffees. I’ll get a handful throughout the pumpkin spice season–somewhere between 5 and 10, I’d guess–but I don’t crave them every day and I don’t get that excited for them to come out.

I reserve that feeling for the delicious, probably not nutritious, eggnog latte. Starbucks started having it just before Thanksgiving, so I’ve already managed to have two. Cafenation is advertising one as well. I’m not sure if they have them yet or if I’m going to have to wait a bit longer, but I’m really looking forward to it. Cafenation does everything well, so I’m sure I’ll love it when they combine two of my favorite things, coffee and eggnog.

This should not be such a big deal. You can in fact get eggnog any time of the year, and I suppose I could get an espresso machine (although at this point I don’t really want one), but eggnog has always been seasonal for me. We had it every Christmas morning. And probably Christmas eve. Now I tend to drink it all through December, padding a little in November and January depending on availability. I don’t want it at other times of the year.

That’s probably a good thing. It’s not exactly the best everyday food. But it is THE BEST holiday drink.

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