Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seeking Coherency

Reviewing my prior posts, I realized just how all over the place I am. It's like my blog suffers from multiple personality disorder. But then again, the schizophrenic approach kind of mirrors how my life has been. The times I get around to posting something are, clearly, few and far between, and usually spurred by either boredom or strong feelings. Looking at what feelings and event have moved me throughout the past years is interesting. I suppose that's the whole point of a journal or diary, and that's essentially what I have used this as. I apologize to all of you who have chosen to try to make any sense of what you read here. It's really not about you. It's all about me (at least in terms of this blog). Part of me thinks perhaps I should find a coherent theme to stick with. Primarily because I've been perusing so very many blogs in my obsession with recipes lately (more and more I've been wanting to go with a complete career change and just become a chef or baker). But really, there's no point in that. I don't want that. I don't post things for that reason. If I later feel the need to do something with more coherence, I'll start something new. But here, I think I'll stick with my random, sporadic, topic-jumping ramblings.

Speaking of topic jumping...

Part of me does want to create some sort of food blog. Partly due to my current obsession with them, and partly due to the fact that I've already got a ton of pictures of previously baked goodies that I kind of want to just put out there. But also part of me doesn't want to (mainly due to not really caring about photograph composition while taking previously mentioned photos...kind of an inferiority complex caused by all the pretty other blogs...but then again, that new blog would still likely be just for me). Hmmm.... Thoughts for further procrastination.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Dream interpretation is something that fascinates me. Not to say that I have to decode every dream I have, giving full credence to the interpretations and changing my life accordingly. I know that the interpretations are often vague and there are often multiple interpretations of one symbol, and sometimes it is not symbolic after all (one of the great examples from a dream dictionary: dreaming of sex can represent merging aspects of yourself...or it could just mean you need to have more sex). But I still feel there can be something to it. After all, there are many generally understood symbols or meanings associated with things (red can be anger, passion, or power; snakes can be a sign of evil; birth is a new beginning), so why can't these symbols represent themselves in various forms in our dreams? And often times the interpretations make sense. The other day, a friend had an odd dream, involving mountain climbing and unsquishable beetles. After looking at the symbolism of the important elements, the resulting meaning seemed to fit her situation to a T. Whenever I have a particularly vivid dream, one I'm still thinking about when I wake up, I always try to look up the elements, and it often makes sense. Sure, there are some elements that don't fit, but even those you can usually recognize where they come from and still decode the other elements.

The other night, my dream involved a friend's wedding, flying in an airplane over a marsh and a forest, two free-standing doors in the forest (one red, one beige) with rabbits on them, and grapefruit trees. The whole thing about the colored doors doesn't really make much sense. A closed door symbolized an opportunity denied, someone or something blocking your progress - that would be a bit of a stretch. I don't feel like I'm facing a lot of closed doors or obstacles right now, but I suppose it could fit. Beige refers to the basics, red is raw energy, passion, power, aggression - again, not terribly relevant, especially linked with the doors. Rabbits symbolize luck and success, a positive outlook on life - well, I did recently receive a newly positive outlook, but I haven't been having much luck or success lately. However, I have been watching Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland a lot. You know, the one where she enters Underland through a free-standing door,with nothing on the other side. Even in my dream, this is what I thought of when I saw these doors. So I think it's safe to say those elements weren't so much symbols, but rather just carryover from waking hours.

So what about the rest of my dream? Well, the wedding symbolizes a new beginning or transition in my current life. Hmmm... I'm sort of starting a new job, which will allow me to make a lot of changes, and feels like I'm getting life back on track, though I currently feel stuck in a transition period. Yup, that one fits. The wedding was of a childhood friend - symbolizing regression to the past, without responsibilities and carefree. Who doesn't wish for such a time when faced with a mountain of stressful adult responsibilities? Check again (also, looking this up would explain why I've dreamt of this friend's wedding so many times - lately it seems I'm often in transition, which leads to a longing to leave responsibility behind). The forest? Again symbolizes transition. The marsh: "To see or dream that you are at a marsh, suggests instability in your emotional realm. You may be feeling bogged down, insecure or unsure about the future or how to go about with achieving your goals." Anyone who actually knows me knows how dead on this one is. The grapefruit trees symbolize talents, belief system and good deeds. This is again not quite a direct fit, but given that I was looking at the trees from afar, doubting whether it really was a grapefruit tree, and feeling like it was beyond reach to verify - well, that again fits with my doubts about my talents. Finally, the airplane symbolizes overcoming obstacles and rising to a new level of status. Which is exactly what I hope the new job will help with.

So in all, the elements of my dream seem to be rather contradictory - positive outlook and changes, but regressing to childhood without responsibilities, instability and insecurity about the future, and rising above obstacles. However, my emotions lately have been going through a very similar roller coaster. One minute I'll be thinking everything is great and going to work out for the best, the next I'm feeling a crushing hopelessness that nearly brings me to tears. So yes, my dream pretty accurately reflected what is going on in my life. But what's the point of all of this? Why does it matter? Some of the information I've read regarding sleep has indicated that it's a time for your brain to reset, and in doing so, work through various issues. Clearly this is what my mind was doing last night. As for what the benefit of my knowing all of this... Well, this particular dream isn't that helpful. I'm already aware of all of these issues and emotions, as well as the cause of them. But this isn't always the case. Sometimes looking for meaning in dreams can provide insight into issues you haven't quite identified, only had a nebulous feeling that something wasn't right. Or, as in the case of my friend's dream, can provide encouragement. Walking over beetles while mountain climbing doesn't sound very inspiring, but pushing on without allowing negative influences to distract you from your goals is encouraging.

Dreams really are fascinating. Yes, sometimes a dream is just a dream. But often, it's a fascinating way for our subconscious to communicate in a way we can decipher, to see what issues we may need to address in our waking hours, or perhaps just a way to work through our emotions. Not to mention, sometimes it's just fun.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just Breathe

No, not like the song. I need to remind myself of this sometimes, when fear makes breathing feel impossible, like there's no light, no hope, nothing. But I need to remember that no matter what, things are still okay. True, they're not as secure or settled or where I want them. But at the same time, I still have plenty of reasons to be thankful. And even if something terrible does happen, again, I know it's temporary. Whatever it is, I can get through it. I remember a dear friend of mine who has been through far worse trials of this nature, and she's still alright, still able to keep her head up and remember to smile and to rise above, again and again. This is what I need to remember. And that I have faith. Faith that my path is in the hands of someone far greater and more powerful than myself. Faith that has let me along this path so far, which is almost entirely different than what I've ever imagined for myself, but it is still the best path. And I know it will continue. I simply need to keep my eyes and ears and mind open to see the signs directing me along that path. And I need to remember to breathe.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

Isn't it amazing how everyone seems to have a higher opinion of your abilities than you do, except for potential employers? Does that mean that everyone else is just being nice and you're right after all? Or is everyone else right, you're being to hard on yourself, and the lack of employment is due to other causes? And it's not just prejudiced friends and relatives, but people with whom you have a more casual acquaintance with who seem to have full confidence in you. I try to tell myself that everyone else's confidence means that I am more competent than I think, but then that attitude starts to falter when I can't even get an interview, let alone a job. Perhaps it's just failings in my cover letter writing? I'd like to think so, as that means I can fix it. However, I've had interviews for two different jobs that I thought were perfect and that I really wanted to do, and neither hired me. I'm so tired of this. I just want a job.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Changes for a New Year

So it's official. I am a lawyer. Not only am I a lawyer, but I'm an unemployed lawyer. How did this happen? Life was going so smoothly, everything falling into place, and I feel lost. I've come to realize that I've never really had to search for a real job. Even my first job as a waitress came to me because a friend worked there and suggested me when they needed another server. The jobs I had during college were equally as easy to get. Even my post-college job, my first "real job", was practically offered to me before I knew it was available. Now, as I try to search for the right job, it feels like such new and unfamiliar territory, I'm not sure what to do. I feel like I'm rather blindly sending out resume after resume, with no clue if the position is even remotely right for me. The two jobs that I did actually think were perfect, and that I did make it through several interviews for, didn't pan out. With both of those avenues shut down (though perhaps not for good), I'm feeling more lost than ever. So what now? After all the major decisions of my life essentially falling into my lap, how do I try to figure out my next step when nothing seems to be coming? It becomes rather depressing, but I know I need to avoid falling into that. I am well aware of how important a positive mental attitude and confidence are in this sort of situation, so I try to remain optimistic. It's hard, but I know I can do it. I recall back towards the beginning of law school, when I was constantly complaining on FB/gmail statuses about stress, studying, my apartment, the T, whatever, a friend of mine pointed out that I had nothing but negativity. I'm sure he didn't think I would take the comment to heart, but I did, and realized I needed to amend that. I strove to find things to be happy about, or at least more neutral, rather than just complaining. And it did help. The more I was able to look at the positive, the less the negative bothered me. Or at least I got better about ignoring unpleasantness, a habit that I'm not so sure was such a good one to develop. I feel like I need that friend to offer similar criticism/advice again to help me keep my focus on track. While I have so many wonderful friends who are supportive and helpful, there's something about talking with a friend who's close, but not too close, to really help you see things more clearly. Such a person lacks the prejudices of those closes to you, and can bring more of an outside perspective, one that you feel you can trust because you respect their opinions. Perhaps it's time for me to reach out to some of those people, and help get my head back on straight so that I can make this the wonderful year I know it is meant to be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Dish!

So I'm going to ignore everything that has happened since last posting (well, okay, here's a quick recap: I graduated law school, took the MA bar exam, went to Seattle and Mexico, moved to Malden, and I'm still waiting for the results of the exam)and jump straight into making my first submission to Ginger's The Dish! Sadly, I did not take a picture, as it didn't quite occur to me at the time. But that's really not such a problem because 1) I don't know how to add pics (yes, I'm sure it's quite simple, but whatever), and 2) Indian food, for the most part, is not the most attractive looking, no matter how freakin tasty it is. Yes, that is what I am reviewing: the Indian feast that somehow snowballed out of a small dinner with a friend. What started with plans for just B and myself (which was actually inspired by my randomly picking up a new Indian cookbook) ended up being a small dinner party also including my roommates, my old roommates, and B's boy (and was also supposed to include another couple, who were unable to make it). And as the guest list grew, so did the menu. At first, I was just planning on two dishes. But half of 2AM doesn't eat red meat, so I needed something chicken. And then I decided I also didn't have enough vegetables. And then I realized I had everything on hand for a dahl recipe, so I figured why not? So as I'm adding more dishes, I'm also thinking that I need to double most of these recipes, which say they serve either four or six. But as I did that, I failed to realize that these serving sizes refer to when that is the only dish, not one of five... Needless to say, my roommates and I have been eating Indian food all week. But at least it was good Indian food! And so now, enough rambling, and on to the menu:

Saag paneer
Wok-cooked chicken in tomato and fenugreek sauce
Peshawar-style beef curry
Cauliflower and sweet potato curry
Tarka dhal
Spiced basmati rice
Cucumber raita
Chile-cilantro naan
Tamarind vodka cocktails
Fresh fruit with rose water syrup
Spiced fresh orange and honey sorbet

I'm one of those odd people who actually enjoys spending the entire day in the kitchen cooking, so I really enjoyed creating all of this. Because yes, all of this was indeed made from scratch. The only shortcut was not making my own paneer, but instead buying it (which, based on the recipes for paneer I've seen, is really the best way to do it if at all possible...kind of like not bothering to make your own puff pastry, even though you can).

Nearly everything turned out perfectly. The only exceptions were the tarka dhal (oddly a little on the bland side) and the naan. I believe the naan is going to take a couple of tries to get the hang of. The dough itself was easy enough, but we had a hard time with the baking. First batch set of the smoke alarm because it cooked much faster than predicted, and while salvageable, was much more cracker-like than the proper soft, chewy bread. The rest, while they were not burned, I believe were too thick. They, too, lacked the proper texture, and were rather stiffer than they should have been. But I am by no means discouraged. I will try again, and hopefully get the hang of it!

The tarka dhal, red lentils with some tomatoes, onions and spices, was, as I mentioned, oddly rather bland. It was simple to make and contained many spices, but, oddly did not taste as such. It was so very disappointing that I will likely not bother with it again, even trying to amend it. (Don't get me wrong, it was by no means inedible, but given the wide array of options, it's not really worth it). It was actually able to serve almost as a starch type to soak up some of the tasty sauces from the other dishes.

By far my favorite was the saag paneer. (For anyone not familiar with the dish, it's the pureed spinach with chunks of cheese [paneer]) Oddly, my cookbook did not have a recipe for it. So instead, I found one from a fabulous blog that I stumbled across a year or so ago, and can be found here. I had used fresh spinach instead of frozen, and I may have drained a bit too much water from it, as the resulting dish was rather dry. So I decided to thin it down with a bit of yogurt (based on other recipes I looked at), and it worked wonderfully, giving it a subtle tang. As I was doubling the recipe, I also discovered that I did not have enough paneer, and the Indian market was not open on Sunday. However, I did happen to have some extra-firm tofu on hand, and so after draining and pressing that, cooked it like the paneer. I don't think anyone noticed. Indeed, I could hardly tell the difference between the two once it was all assembled.

The peshawar-style beef curry was also quite delicious, with a rich, creamy, spiced sauce. And the best part? The creaminess did not come from cream, but instead Greek yogurt, which I used the non-fat Fage kind. An extremely decadent tasting dish that was actually quite good for you. It was also rather easy to make, just needed quite a bit of time to simmer and let all the spices fully infuse the meat with flavor. The biggest thing that helped everything go smoothly is that before I started with the actual cooking, I measured out all the spices and had them ready in little dishes with labels of what they were for. With so many spices, it really helped keep me organized.

The chicken dish had a light tomato based sauce, which provided a nice contrast and did not overpower the chicken. The odd thing with cooking it, though, was that the juices, which were supposed to evaporate and cook down into a bit of a thicker sauce, did not. Instead, there seemed to be more and more juices as I let it simmer. Not quite sure what to do about that. Perhaps it was because I doubled the recipe? Perhaps I should have left out the juices of the canned tomatoes? Not sure, but definitely will be making again, and can figure it out then.

The cauliflower and sweet potato curry was quite delicious, and, to my mind, rather surprising. I guess I don't really associate sweet potatoes with Indian food. But the spicy curry sauce was a lovely complement to them. I'm really glad that one in particular turned out so well, because that's what we ended up with the most of. And somewhat surprisingly, none of the veggies ended up soggy after sitting in the sauce and being reheated as we ate leftovers. Again, another successful recipe.

Finally, dessert was something on the lighter side, after so much food (a change from my original plan of cardamom ice cream). The sorbet (made possible by the use of 2AM's ice cream maker...I really need one of those!) was delicious, spiced with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and a bay leaf (of all things). The fruit was a mixture of strawberries, blackberries, black grapes, pear and orange, and the rosewater syrup (also flavored with cinnamon) was a new and interesting accompaniment. Luckily, no one seemed to think it too odd...

Though speaking of too odd, I'm wondering about the tamarind cocktail. It is basically a juice made from tamarind concentrate, water, sugar and lime juice, then shaken with vodka. It wasn't as tart as I was expecting, with a slightly richer flavor. However, it was still rather tasty, though definitely a bit out of the ordinary.

Overall, quite a successful meal. While I will definitely be using most of those recipes again, I probably won't for a while, because, well, having the same thing for that many days in a row results in needing a bit of a break. But if anyone else would like any of the recipes, let me know, and I'll be happy to share!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can't I have a magic wand and just make it all better?

It's been FOREVER since I've posted. I know that. So what has caused me to come back after so long? That's simple. I'm angry. At what, you might ask? At people. Not at any individual in particular, but at nearly everyone generally. The overwhelming levels of hate and racism and us vs. them just makes me want to scream. Yes, I know this is nothing new. But what really screamed this point to me at this moment was a wonderfully written post by Tim Wise, entitled "Imagine if the Tea Party was Black". If you have not already read this, please read it. It will help put words to what so many of us have felt. And it really makes me wonder how people who deny the truth of it can continue to lie to themselves.

As those of you who have known me are already aware, I've been a registered member of the Republican party. However, even my most staunchly Democratic friends have always given me a pass, because as one put it, "You're a Republican with a brain." Well, no more. No, I have not had a lobotomy. Far from it. But no, nor have I become a Democrat. I simply cannot stand to be associated with either party. I've spent enough years surrounded by Republicans to be aware of just how absurd the leftist extremists can be, and now the right-wing extremists are proving themselves even worse. It's honestly terrifying. How can people express so much anger and hatred and violent tendencies, especially when so many claim to be Christians? News flash: Jesus is about love, not hatred. He is the one who commanded that when an enemy strikes you on one cheek, you are to turn the other. He is the one who said to pray for your enemies (and he was NOT referring to praying for their death). He is the one who commanded up to love our neighbors as ourselves. And yet, what is it that we've been hearing from the supposed Christians of the Tea Party and general right-wing extremists? Nothing but hatred, fear, and death threats. My own aunt had joined a FB group that basically said they were asking God to kill President Obama. How can anyone say such things? In spite of the allegations hurled without thought, Obama is nowhere near any of the horrifying dictators he has been likened to. If you don't support his policies, so what? Does that really mean he should die? No, it does not. Especially when the results are not bringing about physical harm.

When Bush was president, a very good friend, who is very much a democrat, would never spout the general anti-Bush mantras that were so commonly heard. The reason why? He said that no matter who the president was, he respected the office of the presidency, and he reserved his criticisms to logical points related to the actual issues. Now why can't more people be so level headed? Oh, right. A person is rational, people are irrational.

If only I had a magic wand, I could make everyone rational. Then there would be no more irrational hatred or racism or discrimination or stereotypes. People would stop shouting long enough to listen. People wouldn't let fear and bigotry dictate their actions. I'm talking to you, Arizona.

That's another thing that has been making me angry lately. Arizonans in support of the bill claim that they feel unsafe due to the amount of crime committed by illegal immigrants. News flash: The most heinous criminals in our history, including the rampant serial killers, are citizens. And most immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, do indeed fear the police, and therefore don't risk attracting their attention. They merely want to work and live their lives. They are contributing members of society, whether the whites admit it or not. They spend money and provide services that support out economy, many of them pay taxes (yes, even many of the undocumented ones...I've seen it), they live here and raise their families here. And yet they get stereotyped as evil, criminal, trying to play the system, and a threat to our American culture. Funny. What is American culture after all? What was our country built on? Oh yeah, immigrants, a "melting pot". And fear of outsiders. The Chinese, the Irish, the Italians, the Mexicans... All have been feared as a threat to our "culture". Today, we think it absurd that the Irish and Italians would be so reviled. However, the same is not entirely true when it comes to the Chinese and other Asians. Why? Oh yeah, because they're not white. It's disgusting. And yet people use stereotypes to justify it all. Mexicans are criminals, so they deserve to be targeted. But lets look at why. Why are they committing crimes? Generally, the answer is to survive. Stealing to provide basic needs. Joining gangs for protection against the threat they face as a group that is discriminated against. Selling drugs because they cannot get legitimate work to support themselves. Even crimes that are routinely committed by "good" American citizens, such as drunk driving, suddenly are facing much harsher penalties because they don't have a valid drivers license, because they can't obtain one. I'm not trying to defend drunk driving by any stretch, but it does seem inherently unfair that the white guy gets off so much lighter for the same crime. Hell, even things like DV and sex assault are forgiven when white people do them, because it's seen as a mistake, something that was a result of the stress they were under, or was a misunderstanding, but they would never actually do it again so they shouldn't be punished too harshly... But anyone with a brown skin tone? Well, what else would you expect from someone like "that"?


This level of anger is exhausting. I would think that level of hatred would likewise be exhausting. Aren't people ever going to get tired of it? I really want that magic wand...