Friday, April 30, 2010


I had something to send in the mail. I thought about the item for a very long time. Then I thought about sending the item for a very long time. Then I got the item to send but I left it on my dresser for two weeks. Then I put it in my purse and walked around with it for a while. I thought do I or don't I. I should just send it because then it won't be on my mind. Yeah but... I should just get rid of this burden and get give it away and then... Yeah but I don't really want to do this. I would rather... Yeah but... And then I had an anxiety attack about it. I woke up and said no don't! Not today. Don't send it. After work I would say oh I should really send it. Just walk over to the mailbox. Just do it. There is one right around the corner. There is a post office right next to work and another one right by my train stop. I put an envelope in my purse but I didn't put the item inside of it. I carried these around for a while.

If I just did this then

If I could deal with the loss of this temporarily and then

If it's gone I won't have to debate anymore

If I just decided it would be ok

Whichever decision will be ok

Yeah but

Then I wouldn't be able to

Then I couldn't take care of

Then I will still not know

So I put the item in the envelope. And I carried that around for a few days. Then I addressed the envelope. Then I put a stamp on the envelope. I said I will send it Monday. But I forgot about it. I remembered much later and didn't feel like walking to the mailbox. I decided to send it Tuesday. I will walk over to the post office right after work. I put it on my desk to remember but I forgot it there until the next day. Wednesday it stared at me and said, "Don't send me! Don't do it! I don't want to! You're stupid!" A friend at work grabbed it and said that she was on her way to the post office and would be happy to send it for me. I stammered. I'm going there later, it's ok. Thanks. Maybe if I did it during my break it won't be such a big deal and I can come back to work and be distracted. I put my jacket on at 3pm and looked at the envelope and took my jacket off. Changed my mind.

Thursday I remembered to walk to the post office after work and I went right up to the mailbox and I.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Am I?

It's another anxiety filled Sunday. Super fun! I just love these evenings when I feel like I haven't done enough and I am about to face another week of entering data into excel endlessly. My friend A called today and said that I am surrounded by too much sadness and I should really spend some time with kids or something. Duly noted.

Recently in trying to have a light hearted afternoon at the mall I fell flat onto my face in public scraping both elbows and knees. Not a soul asked if I was ok. I actually said OW out loud and there was no response other than a faint giggle in the distance. I've written about falling in public before but I have a new perspective on it now. I try to be calm and rational with all kinds of drama around me but sometimes my brain goes a million miles an hour. My behavior turns into a hurricane and the universe decides to trip me up clearly stating, "Bitch stop."

These traits have been inherited by a long line of crazy women. I've already gone over the characteristics of Tsunami Dorit and OCD Grandma. I wish I knew what my great grandmother Bluma was like but from what I understand she was a stone cold workaholic. Grandma told me that her mother never let her out of the house unless everything was spotless and perfectly in place. Since there were four girls in the family they did everything for everyone and to this day my grandma washes, irons, and cleans uncle. That's right. My nearly 59 year old uncle is cared for as if he was still a child. Grandma is slowly realizing what an awful situation she has put her son in because he is a total chauvinist and claims he has no time to clean or do laundry. Since she can't do as much as she used to anymore, how will he live?

She proudly told me that he dusted his room the other day, even under the bed. He did it all by himself. I told Grandma that there is no reason why he can't take care of himself but she said that it's all her fault. She didn't want her kids to work as hard as she did so she spoiled them to death. The reality of course is that she spoiled my uncle to death and forced my mom to do double the chores. At this stage she expects my mom to do everything for my uncle, the notion of which has brought my mom to near insanity. If she survives this ordeal of my grandma's health declining and my uncle's uncooperative attitude without having a heart attack herself it will be a miracle. I told my grandma the other day that I think Mom is stressed out and I was going to try and take her out a little. Grandma said that she thought it was because Mom is spending too much time gardening. Yeah I'm sure that's it.

Where is my place in all of this? I just listen. I really can't do anything else for them and the more I spend time with these people the more I am stunned at their stupid choices. I listen to my mom complain about how she feels completely stuck in an endless cycle of care taking that she doesn't want to do. I listen to my uncle talk about how he thinks my mom is depressed because she is a huge bitch all the time and how my dad is lazy and unhelpful. I listen to my dad say that they were stupid for staying in the same building with Grandma and Uncle for all these years. I listen to my grandma say anything at all.

Yesterday Grandma and I talked about chopped liver. I don't mind sharing this secret family recipe with you because I think it is gross and I have no desire to make it. We were watching an Israeli Iron Chef type show and one woman made the liver pate from chicken. Grandma was intensely watching her and telling me that it was all wrong.

Grandma made "real" chopped liver from: (get this)

sauteed veal or beef liver in onions

then ground in the food processor attachment

then added finely chopped hard boiled eggs

salt and pepper

and served on rye bread or crackers

Eeeeeeeeeew. I mean she had me until she said that she preferred the eggs to be chopped so they added texture instead of putting them through the grinder as well. Ugh. I just don't have the stomach for this type of rich spread. It sounds like pain to me even if it is tasty at first and frankly I don't believe it is. She went on and on about how good it was and how everyone liked it. This wasn't a dish she could make anymore since her heart attack many years ago. The cholesterol was way too high and the whole family gave up liver then. I was a little girl so if she made it then I have no memory of it. She said that she made designs in the pate so that it was ready for a party tray. She also added hard boiled eggs in the corners of the plate which were decorated by cutting a design into. I can't believe how different my palate is from hers. This is not something that sounds appetizing to me with designed eggs or not.

It's nice to hear her talk about something she is proud of. I bought her a paint by numbers kit which she has zero interest in and I challenged her to fix the Rubik's cube but she has no motivation. She used to be able to fix two sides of the cube but for some reason there is really nothing that sparks much in her these days. If she'd rather talk about chopped liver then that is how I will be involved. I'd rather talk to her about the steamed asparagus I made today with the citrus cayenne glaze but I'll make do.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Another weekend of hospital drama. She has high blood pressure that sky rockets out of nowhere and no one knows how it happens. She says she is a nervous person and it might have had something to do with the war. We are all trying to think of meals low in cholesterol and sodium which will not upset an acid reflux issue. I can't come up with anything she wants to eat. The body is just old and rebelling and there is little we can do. Another woman I know is leaving this world and people were with her today to say goodbye. What is the body when it is being ravaged by sickness? All we can do is take good care of ourselves and hope for good health.

So, I made another attempt at a heart healthy meal. If you ever want to make your kitchen smell incredible cook onions, mushrooms, and celery in a stock pot with a tiny bit of water. Although, I'm not sure of what you should do with it after you start this. It was the first step towards a tofu stew that I was very excited about but ended up being bland and blah.

I ate this with brown rice and while it was definitely a hearty, super healthy dish guaranteed to help you poop, no one in the family was willing to try it.

In fact after coming back from round 3 in the hospital with Grandma today my mom smoked countless cigarettes and didn't eat anything all day. I told her that this method of "stress relief" was going to put her back in the hospital only she'll be the patient. She changed the subject.

Grandma actually did put herself into the hospital this time because she was specifically told not to do any bending or lifting for the next 3 months but she did. She has OCD regarding cleanliness and order. If there are two pairs of socks and two T-shirts that have been worn it's time to do laundry. If you use a dishrag once, it's time to do laundry. Grandma does laundry about 3 times daily and since the washing machine and drier are in the basement she has to walk downstairs then bend and lift to get everything in. She can't stand mess. Things cannot be piling up anywhere. She has been known to throw away other people's bills because the papers were sitting on the table too long.

Mom, the tsunami and Queen of Stress, was telling me today that she wished Grandma knew how to calm down and let things go. She thinks that the dust on Grandma's dresser was enough to elevate her blood pressure. My mom bragged about how she never lets things like that get to her when I rudely said, "Are you fucking kidding me?" She claims to have really learned to let things go over time because she used to be much worse. When she first got married she left earlier for work than Dad did and expected him to make the bed. When she returned home she found the bed to be unsatisfactorily made several times and would re-do it! Oh my goodness. That right there is the perfect argument for living with someone before you get married. You should know exactly what kind of psychotic nut job you're dealing with.

I've tried to encourage my family to try yoga or at least yogic techniques in stress relief. Everyone says that it's just not for them. Today I told Grandma about a couple breathing exercises and meditation she could try when she starts to worry or freak out. My uncle nearly doubled over in laughter and made fun of me. Well, what can you do. Somehow I'm keeping my head above water while the stress is mountainous, so I must be doing something right. It's like I said, maybe the best thing you can do for everyone is simply to take good care of yourself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Make and Remake

In an effort to make a heart healthy meal, I made butternut squash and kale risotto. The kale had a wilted mushy quality while the squash was undercooked and of blood orange color. The overall dish was salty with a hint of soap.

I doubt that I will do this over. The recipe wasn't a good one and while the idea is good, I don't know how to properly pull it off. I don't find myself repeating the same dishes since I always want to try something different. My family is the complete opposite. My mom has been cooking so many of the same dishes throughout her life that she is bored and lost much of her desire to play around in the kitchen. I could definitely use more practice with many dishes but I keep leaving them for other things. I wish I had more commitment to a single project.

The other day I went to the phenomenal Matisse exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was a really excellent display of dedication coupled with disregard. Matisse would be unsatisfied with where he placed something and you could see his several efforts to modify. There were layers and layers and scraping and painting and revisions galore. I was staring and just amused wondering what his thoughts were like when re-working for the 15th time. How did he know when it was finished? Change, re-arrange, re-think, second guess.

I nearly laughed out loud thinking that this is the way I work when it comes to jobs and career planning. I have yet to finish that project and probably never will. I truly admire people who can commit to projects. When I read Julia Child's memoir there was so much in it about making the perfect mayonnaise I was shocked. Why would anyone want to make mayonnaise a million times? I don't even like it at all and I definitely did not like this risotto.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blessed Art Chicago

Yesterday was kind of rough. I spent the earlier part of the day focusing on beauty and wellness by going to yoga and then the salon. Part of the salon service included a complimentary makeup job. I know. Poor me. But get this, after my hair and makeup was finished and I looked well let's face it, fucking stunning I realized that I had no evening plans. The staff at the salon were all going wow, where are you going tonight? And I was like oh! I haven't decided yet. Truthfully I intended to spend the rest of the day reading and watching what Netflix sent but it seemed unfair that all this new beauty was going to waste on a la-z-boy chair.

So I made some calls and no one was available. Oh my goodness. That self esteem was quickly deteriorating. I researched some options to take myself out on a Saturday night at least but nothing felt doable really. Where I am in comparison to where I'd like to hang out is a considerable distance and I'd have to drive. I usually drive on the weekends but didn't feel like it if I was going to have to be alone. A movie? I had one at home. A cafe? The ones near me closed early. Nothing clicked. I was actually all dressed up and had no where to go. Ouch.

I was thinking of what I would do in that situation when I was in Seattle and the answer came quick. I would have gone to my favorite tea cafe which I could walk to and was open late, or I would go to my favorite bar where there was always someone to talk to. Two weeks ago I went to my favorite bar in Chicago but no one said a word to me and I kept getting bumped into. I don't know why things are so different for me here. It's like I moved home and found out that it's all new.

Last weekend I was thankfully invited to a Passover Seder at a friend's house. I felt lucky and relieved that I could take part in this holiday instead of spending more time at home. My mom was exhausted from dealing with my grandma's hospital stay and Grandma obviously wasn't feeling great so we didn't have Passover. It's a ton of work. There are several courses to this meal and then reading the Haggadah just takes hours! My family hasn't done this since I was about 13 and I was nasty back then. I totally didn't get it and listening to my mom blather on with the reading just felt utterly meaningless. I took it out of her hands and forced her to stop faking the religious crap so we could eat and get it over with. It's funny how now I wish we had it.

Anyway I went to this party where we all took turns reading from the Haggadah and dipped greens in salt water and put horseradish on matzoh and ate store bought gefilte fish and so on. It made me feel part of something, which was a feeling I had been looking for here for a while. I wish that I had cousins or some more family to do stuff with.

My grandma was amazed that I went to someone else's Passover party and she was even more amazed to find out that a man did all the cooking. She told me a hilarious story about horseradish. She always used to grate horseradish by hand and she did it outside so her eyes could get fresh air and so no one would see her cry. A co-worker of hers wanted to try this so Grandma explained everything and the woman was upset with her the next day. She said, "You know. My mamma die and I not cry so much. I'll buy in the jars." Grandma laughed her head off and told me this woman was a wimp because she couldn't cry a little for all the bitters in the world.

The trick to nights like yesterday is to be grateful for the good nights out and find more to do out by myself. I used to go out for salsa and tango all the time here and but I haven't found the right place or right people for it this time around. If this is home I don't know why it doesn't feel that way.