Karma, I’m The Chameleon

I’m not sure when it happened, when I stopped believing.  No, not really stopped believing, more like not feeling it, not feeling the entity known as “God”.  It’s been awhile now, I was just afraid to put it down in writing, to actually get outside of my head and acknowledge it.  Afraid of repercussions, perhaps?  Afraid of that bolt of lightning coming down from the sky?  Afraid to admit to my family and friends that this life-long Lutheran, this zealous church-goer/church-dragger no longer believes in a higher entity? Yeah, that last one is pretty much spot on.

It started with my break from the church we were currently attending.  I was super-involved in the church life- Sunday School, Youth Group, Council, Book Club- even heading up the major redesign and renovations to the interior sanctuary.  Throughout my life, I’ve always been involved in church stuff, mostly with kids.  My parents were involved, therefore I got involved.  Not so much my kids, but that’s their decision- I brought them up in the church from Baptism through Confirmation, after that they were on their own.  And not one of them looked back.  In retrospect, I should have taken their lead.

Anyway, yeah, I was super involved.  After attending for almost 16 years,  I got close to the Pastor and to some extent, his wife.  I babysat their birds (one of which died almost immediately when they brought it home, oops), I redesigned their kitchen (pro-bono, of course), we acted in plays together, we travelled to Youth Events across the country together, he commandeered my mother’s funeral.  I confided in my spiritual advisor on many occasions and I thought we should have been considered friends, or at least close in the service of the Lord.

I should have known better.  I never learn.  I’ve thought the same of half a dozen people in my life and the end result was never good.

There were little things that started to piss me off- things we (the Youth Group) would do that would be ignored, or forgotten.  Attempts to pin down dates or plan trips or events would never be acknowledged.  Things would be done behind my back, planned with someone else.  Look, I can take a hint- I’m incredibly perceptive- if one doesn’t want my help just sit me down and talk to me.  Don’t go behind my back in front of my face.

And don’t…do not…insult my child.  Do not insinuate that she did not work on her Confirmation project.  If you know me, or know my family you would understand our work ethic.  We do not do things to get over, or take short cuts.  We give our all and if you asked us to do something and gave my daughter permission to use it as a project you don’t get to speculate whether or not she did it.  And you should not speculate or insinuate in front of the other Confirmands and their families at the official dinner the lack of my daughter’s role in her project.

Yes, I understood he was sick and maybe not himself.  I tried to cut him some slack, I really did.  But right after she was Confirmed, I stopped going to church.

I was hurt, but this next part was truly the icing on the butthurt cake…

I stopped going to church and not one person- not the pastor, not the secretary, not the council, not my neighbors, not my friends who also go to that church- not one of them called me up and asked my why.  Not one of them said “Hey, we miss you.  Come on back.”  Not one of them texted, emailed or Facebooked me.  Months went by and my tithing amount was being taken out of my account.  I emailed the secretary (also my friend) and asked for the form to stop donating.  Not one word was said when the form was sent.  Still, no outreach.  After all that time, after all I did, I felt that no one cared enough to want me back.

Was I hurt? Beyond belief.  Was I mad? Oh, hell yes. Did I get over it?  After many years, yes.  Only two people knew why I drifted off and now I’m finally able to type it out without alternating crying with cursing. Time heals sadness and anger.

I’ve been to a few churches since then, trying them on, see if they and I were a good fit.  Warily, I sang the songs and listened to the sermons and tried not to read the brochures where they were looking for volunteers.  I liked the Holy Roller/Rock Music church I went with my friend to a few times but the last time I went I felt something else other than the LOVE they were fervently preaching.  It took about a year for me to realize it was disbelief.

Agnostic? Atheist? Neither of these actually describe what I think I believe.  I do believe we’re all connected some way.  There are too many instances of Synchronicity in my life to argue otherwise.  And there may be a force at the center of that big web of inter-connectedness, but I don’t feel we should be worshipping it, or praying to it (and why are we still saying “God Bless You” when someone sneezes?  It’s an expulsion of  body fluids!)  I believe in Jesus Christ- the person- and I believe he did die for “our” sins and because he loved “us”.  His message to me is to be kind to my fellow persons, live a clean, good life and do good works.  Do I need a god-figure to tell me to do that?  Do I need a preacher to remind me of that?  Karma plays a big role in my belief these days- rattle that web between you and I and what goes out will definitely come back.  Good and/or bad.

Maybe I’m Buddhist, I don’t know.  Let me meditate on that.

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Serious Eats for One Month- Fettuccine George

Did you ever have one of those days where you wanted to rip someone’s head off and hurl it through the window?  When the injustices were stacked so high against you that you felt you couldn’t take a breath because you might scream?  When the stupidity level was so far off the charts you needed to go into the next room to see them?

Every time I meet with my team, I feel this way.

We just finished up an auditing project, one to raise the accuracy of our database and our floor plans.  My grade was better than I thought- my plans needed a little cleaning up since I’ve been so busy this past year- but it was a good exercise in standardization and mastery.  Yes, I do my needlepoint and Christmas cards and plan bridal showers and weddings at my job, but I never shirk my responsibility and my work never suffers for it.  I’m good at what I do, I know how to budget my time and I know how much I can get away with.

Some of my teammates don’t understand that.  If one gets a grade of “F” (fail) on practically every aspect of the audit, do not have the audacity to tell us (US!) that you’re too busy to do your walkthroughs.  We see you on the internet watching soccer, reading the paper and ordering parts for your hot dog truck business.  Do not tell us (US!) that you can’t get your reports done on time (they’re due on the 15th of every month, it’s been that way for years) because you’re “in love”.  Don’t try to baffle us (US!) with your bullshit.  It may work on your business managers, your move managers and your project managers, but We. Know. Better.

What we don’t know if what you have over your boss.  The same boss that will joke about you being on the internet (or phone…or late…or just not there).  The same boss who, when learns about your failing grade will take certain aspects of your responsibilities away and make someone else responsible for them.  The same boss that gives your day to day work to someone else to “save her job”.  You know something about this person, you must.  Why else are you still employed?

So when you have a day like this, seven hours of banging your head on the table and drawing “stupid” buttons to press whenever the stoopid gets too thick, you need to go home and either a) drink heavily, b) break every dish in a fit of rage c) eat all the Halloween candy or d) make comfort food.

I chose “d”.

It was quick, it was easy and it was delicious.  It was the Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo recipe that didn’t taste light.

Lighter Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine, or 12 ounces dried fettuccine
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 medium clove)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Minced fresh parsley or chives

Procedure:

Combine cheese, heavy cream, egg, cornstarch, olive oil, and lemon zest (if using) in a large bowl. Season lightly with salt and heavily with black pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until cooked but still very firm (not quite al dente), about 45 seconds for fresh pasta or 1 minute less than package directions for dried pasta. Drain pasta into a colander set over a large bowl. Transfer 2 cups of cooking water to a liquid measuring cup and discard the rest. Transfer pasta to the now-empty bowl. Add the garlic and butter and toss to coat.

Whisking constantly, slowly add 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water to the bowl with the cheese mixture. Transfer the cheese mixture to the now-empty pasta cooking pot, scraping the bottom to make sure you get everything. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 45 seconds. Season sauce to taste with more salt and pepper as desired. Transfer pasta to sauce mixture and turn to coat. Just before serving, stir in more pasta water to thin the sauce out as necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with minced herbs, black pepper, and cheese, and drizzled with additional olive oil.

I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious.  Redemption from the enchilada escapade.

Now to have a beer, smash a dish and eat a Kit Kat. Because I have to do this all again tomorrow.

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite. Whatever They Are.

I’m sitting in my little cube farm at work trying not to openly scratch.  I lean my head down to below the partition to surreptitiously run my nails through my hair.  I squirm to and fro on my chair, scratching the backs of my thighs.  I slide my old-fashioned wooden ruler down my back under my shirt to provide delicious relief.

I know it’s all in my head.  IN my head, not ON my head.  All because I read the headlines in today’s Newsday:

BEDBUGS, HEAD LICE MAKE THEMSELVES AT HOME ON LI.

Oh, ew.  Now I’ve been itchy for hours.

I ‘ve had this terrifying fear of bedbugs since I first heard about the epidemic in NY.  Now I not only have to worry about touching anything on the subway, I have to watch who I stand next to.  How far can bedbugs jump? 

The minute I get home from work, I strip and throw all my clothes in the laundry basket.  My work clothes are taking a beating being worn and washed constantly.  I just can’t stand the feeling that I’m bringing home bugs (or germs) from the great unwashed masses on mass transit.  If I could make my home a shoe-free zone, I would.  Unfortunately, stepping in dog drool in your stocking feet is grosser than the thought of trekking in all those city germs.

This fear reached epic proportions a few weekends ago as I spent an hour on my knees scrutinizing my mattress, then the girl’s mattresses and the couches for anything round, brown and moving.  Thankfully, only dustbunnies live where I sleep.  The thought of these little homewreckers gives me more creeps than the scariest Halloween thriller.  If I see you scratching, I’m running the other way.

And lice?  Crap, not again.  Our school was hit a few years ago with an outbreak that infected all of Z-girl’s friends.  Thankfully, she was spared the nit-picking.  The day my mother died, one of my soccer mom’s called and asked me to help pick through her daughter’s really long lice-infested hair. 

(I think she wanted to take my mind off of what was going on.  A nice thought, but I could think of 50 other things that could have distracted me AND not grossed me out.)

There we were, Soccer Mom, the kids grandma and I going through this mess of hair with three separate nit combs.  I got so fed up (yeah, I was upset to begin with) I asked for permission to cut the kid’s hair.  If she wasn’t so tired of us pulling and poking her scalp, I don’t think she would have let me take my electric razor to her.  I cut around eight inches off, giving her a really cute cut, and that made it so much easier for us to see and pick. ( I felt so guilty afterwards I took her to Walgreen’s and spent a fortune in headbands and clips.)  The mom and I took turns checking each other out.  Friendships can’t never be broken when you’ve picked through each other’s hair looking for bugs…

God, now even my eyebrows are itchy.

The school nurse told me the outbreaks of lice occur mostly after the holidays when kids go to their native countries for visits.  They bring back souvenirs, pictures and dirty buggies.  Do the airlines fumigate after every flight?  How can one not notice if your kid is constantly scratching his or her head? 

In the Newsday article, they quoted Kathy Zappulla, the owner of DeLiceful in Hauppauge.  She’s a professional nit-picker.  She probably makes a fortune examining and treating lice-infested kids.  Honestly, it’s a brilliant idea.  Wish I would’ve thought of it. 

(scratch, scratch)

On second thought, I don’t think that profession is right for me.  I would never sleep again if I had to deal with buggies day in and day out.  I’ll leave that to DeLiceFul.

I’m on a full-out assault to prevent the invasion of bedbugs.  No one is trying on clothes in stores, no one is borrowing anything made of fabric from anyone else and sorry to say, Z-girl won’t be having any sleepovers for awhile.  I want to disinfect Beena when she comes home since she works in a retail clothing store.  AND student teaches.  I feel we’ve been asking for it since our good-night mantra to Zombiegirl since she’s been tiny has been “Sweet dreambles.  Don’t let the Bedbugs bite” and she would reply, “Whatever they are…”

I need one of those bug-sniffing dogs.

Rose Colored Glasses

One of my Web Pals, Here in Franklin, posted this to her blog.  If she lived in NY, I would’ve hunted her down and kissed her.  I’ve been wanting to post my feelings about this since October 1st and she gave me the courage and the focus.  Plus said it so much more succintly than I ever could…

I am truly sick to death of the color pink. 

I have two separate ranting trains of thought regarding Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  First, there’s that damn color pink.  Several of my friends made their Facebook profiles pink, and they’ve been posting cutsey status updates using paranthesis and periods.  I’ve seen pink ribbon sweatshirts on too many flabby tourists these past few weeks.  Every website I visit has a pink ribbon banner or button on it . Last Sunday’s comics looked like they got washed with one of Zombiegirl’s red soccer socks.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, schedule your mammogram.  Do a self-squeeze.  Save the tatas.  Buy a ribbon, and wear it if you must. 

Just spare me the triteness, okay? 

MR and I went to that new wine store on Hempstead Avenue to get a bottle of wine to take with us to dinner at Frankly Thai.  (If you haven’t eaten in this Franklin Square restaurant yet, get over there now.  Say hi to Frank the owner for us.)  We didn’t know what to get (MR likes red, red gives me migraines) so we roamed the aisles looking for something to catch our eye.  We find a display of Fat Bastard Chardonnay.  C’mon.  Who can resist a Fat Bastard? lol!  I’ve bought this wine for my brother-in-law, who is neither fat nor a bastard, and I’ve been wanting to try it myself.  The selling point for this wine was not only the $10 price (I am a cheap date) but also the hang tag around the bottle neck with a pink pin on it.  Great.  They’re going to make a donation to breast cancer research.  We buy it, and when I get in the car I put the pin on and read the hang tag.

They’re going to donate 25 cents for each bottle sold.

I am underwhelmed.  It doesn’t seem like a lot.  Their website states “by the end of this year’s campaign, Fat bastard wines will have raised over $500,000 for Breast Cancer awareness and research.” 

I can understand the research part, but giving money to awareness?  I want to know which PR firm has breast cancer as a client, because if you aren’t aware that you NEED to check your boobies for early detection, then you must be living under a rock.  What we NEED is more research and a cure.  Not more silly, useless, ineffective pink gestures.

Yes, breast cancer sucks.  ALL cancer sucks.

Which leads me to my second ranting train of thought- why all the hype about breast cancer?  I must admit, my anger as Pink October comes around stems in part from jealousy.  Why is breast cancer getting all the hype?  Why not skin cancer?  Mom passed away from squamous cell cancer, which metastasized from basal cell skin cancer.  My brother Robbie did not survive  synovial sarcoma- it took him at the tender age of 25.  Where is all the “early awareness” hoopla for these types of cancer and the boycotting of tanning salons?  When does skin cancer get it’s own month?  When we got our tattoo, there wasn’t even a good color for a squamous cell cancer ribbon- we opted for purple, since that was Mom’s  birthstone color. 

I guess I’m just vying for equal awareness rights.  Maybe we should start a “Cancer Sucks” movement?  Use the color orange (it’s my favorite).  Advocate eating right, exercising, getting regular checkups and stop doing all that bad shit to your body.  Lump (no pun intended) ALL the cancers into one huge awareness campaign and give all proceeds to medical research.

Cancer sucks.  So does the woman in the pink ribbon t-shirt I saw on 49th Street yesterday smoking a cigarette. 

Stepping off my soapbox now.

In 1492, Chrisoffa Corombo Sailed the Ocean Blue

Really, why do we celebrate this so-called holiday?

 Seventy-three years ago, President F. D. Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a federal holiday after the Knights of Columbus organization put a little squeeze on him.  (I can’t help humming the theme to the Godfather as I write this!)  And I can’t help laughing when I think about who they’ve picked to honor.

Chrisoffa Corombo (his real name before it was Anglicized) isn’t really a person we should look up to.  The fact that he discovered America? That little notion taught to us in school is a little skewed.  Backed by the Spanish monarchs, he did discover the “New World”- the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba- but he never set foot in North America.  That distinction belongs to the Amerigo Vespucci and the Vikings- the people I’m partially descended from.  Why don’t we see any Viking parades going down Fifth Avenue?

We’re taught in school that those who opposed Corombo thought the Earth was flat, but that wasn’t the case at all.  Even in ancient times, sailors knew the Earth was round and scientists not only suspected it was a sphere, but were even able to estimate its size.  And speaking of sailors, it wasn’t even Corombo’s idea to sail west from Spain- it was his brother Bartholomew’s idea.  Arriving in the Carribean, Corombo and his crew forced natives into slavery, tortured and killed thousands while serving as their governor, and brought syphilis and gonorrhea and smallpox from Europe.  He was an opium addict and a womanizer.  He frequently hanged members of his crew for disobeying him. Hmmm.  Not a nice man at all.   Far  into his old age, Corombo was still convinced he had sailed the coast of Asia.  Confused much?

As a kid, I remember making little paper ships (I can still smell the paste) and naming the three ships of Columbus. The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria- the schools didn’t even get that right.  The Nina was really the Santa Clara- it was nicknamed the Nina for it’s owner, Juan Nino of Moguer.  I guess it flowed better in the school poems we were taught calling it the Nina.  Corombo was not well-known or well-liked in his lifetime.  In fact, he was not revered until hundreds of years after his death by British colonists in the States who didn’t want to honor pioneer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto), since that’s who the British government commisioned to explore the world.  Good work, guys.  Honor the drug addled killer…

So once again, I’m working on a day when most of the rest of America is home or apple-picking or on a Church retreat or in Vermont having a good time.  I’m in the city watching a parade of thousands of mis-informed Italian-Americans supposedly celebrating the life of a mediocre explorer, shaking my head at the lunacy of it.  Meh.  Another excuse to eat and drink too much and carry on in the subways.  At least my commute was quick and easy today.

Is Klutziness a Disability? If So, I Should Totally Get to Ride For Free.

I’m either the clumsiest person in the world, or the MTA is out to kill me.

And have I mentioned recently that I hate the N6 bus? No? Let me reiterate.  I hate the N6 bus.

I left work yesterday evening a little later than usual since MR and Zombiegirl weren’t going to be home (she was trying out for the Red Bulls elite training academy. Go Red Bulls!) and I wasn’t in any rush to spend time with the dogs. It seemed that the rest of Manhattan had the same idea and all wanted to go to Hempstead with me. The F train was a sardine can- I stood up until 169th street, which isn’t great since I get off at the next stop- 179th St.  At the bus stop in Jamaica, I let two packed buses go by hoping to get a seat (uh, right) on the next bus. After waiting for about 20 more minutes, I resigned myself to stand and got on the next (also crowded) bus.

It’s okay though! I have Enjoy Suduko to keep me happy and occupied while being stepped on and prodded in the ass by the backpack on the kid behind me. I start my travel home hanging on to the pole above swinging helplessly into the personal space of the stern lady sitting primly in front of me. She keeps giving me dirty looks.  No worries! I avoid her eyes and continue to play Suduko with one hand s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g my thumb into the upper left hand corner…

After a half hour of this hell, the bus driver decides to make it even worse by slamming on the brakes to avoid hitting the asshole that cut us off. Of course, I’m not paying attention (looking for that BUG- the only square with three numerals in it while all the others have two) and someone slams into me on the left, dislodging my non-Suduko hand from the pole. Somehow (and I swear this has happened before in the seconds before my hapless traumas) I make a complete turn and end up on the floor on my ass. I land on shopping bags and feet and I think another body, so I didn’t hurt my lower region. (I’m unusually padded down there anyways.) What seemed like a million hands helped me up, grabbing me under my arms and pulling at my hands and forearms until I’m back in an upright position and shaking like a leaf. Okay, so big deal, I fell over. I do that all the time so I’m not surprised. Shaken, but not surprised.

What I am surprised at is the amount of people asking me if I was alright and NOT GETTING THE HELL UP AND GIVING ME A SEAT. Here I am, a fallen woman (hah!) shaking and biting her lip not to cry and the fat pig I was standing next to had used my injury as a decoy to jump into the seat of the prissy, prim lady and she had the nerve to ask me if I’m okay? Bitch- get the hell up and let me sit for a few moments and collect myself! Really? At least three other people SITTING asked me if I was alright. I flew four feet down the aisle, pushing people out of the way and ending up on my ass and you can’t even get up and let me sit and cry a little in peace?

There is no hope for humanity.

I managed to keep my phone in my hand, and my pocketbook on my arm (I hope I slapped the fat pig in the head as I was going down…)  but I also managed to wrench my shoulder and sprain my thumb, probably from being so abruptly and forcibly detached from the pole I was holding.  My back and neck of course are now out of whack so a visit to Dr. Evelyn, my chiropractor, is urgent.  I finally get a seat, finish the Suduko game I’m working on (using the hints since I’m too upset to think) and stew the rest of the ride home.

Walking home from the bus stop I realize my nightmare is not over.

I… don’t have my house key. I’m locked out of the house.  MR and Z-girl are not due home for another hour and a half.

Of course.  This is the way my life runs.

Instead of hanging out in the dark on my stoop or in the dark in my backyard, I trekked it over to the library since the mosquitoes in the backyard were finding my thumbs especially delicious.  I found a few books on my Goodreads list and SURPRISE! I actually was carrying my library card.  I found a nice overstuffed chair and curled up and waited for MR, my knight in shining armor, to pick me up.

Today?  It hurts to type.  I’m stiff and sore.  And I came up with a great idea for a padded, bubble-wrap suit.  I can patent it and make millions and ride around in a limo.

And cut off all those damn N6 buses.

Update:  I just discovered a bruise on my thigh that looks remarkably like a shoeprint.  FML.

Pay The Damn Piper

The day after our disasterous camping trip found me on the couch trying to catch up with the local news.  Times in our neighborhood haven’t been too good what with the fire at the school and at least five muggings that I’ve heard of.  Even one of our neighbors had enough and started putting together a neighborhood watch.  It just seems like our little slice of heaven fell on the floor buttered side down.

During the break in the news, Cablevision’s editorial guy (don’t know his name, but he always looks tired…) starts speaking of Leandra’s law- making it a felony to drive drunk with a child younger than 15 years old in your car- and how breathalyzers are now mandatory in cars owned by anyone with a DWI conviction.  This sounds like a good plan, albeit one with a few holes.

Such as… what prevents someone else in the car from blowing into the breathalyzer?  What prevents that convicted drunk from driving another car?  How long will they have to have this device on their car?

I know, but it’s a start.  If it can deter one person from getting behind the wheel while impaired, it’s worth it.  I was all for this arguement until Mr. Editorial started explaining that the DUIer’s were complaining.

What on earth do these people have to complain about? 

The cost of these little units is about $180, then there is an $80 monthly fee.  They’re complaining that it’s too much money to lay out.  They feel they’re being mistreated.  They want the county (then, ultimately, the state) to pay for it for them.

The editorial man even used the term “indigent drivers” when referring to these whiny babies.  Excuse me, Mr. Editorial Man- if one is indigent, should one even be driving a car?  I’m by no means indigent  and I can barely afford to keep our cars with the upkeep, repairs and the damn insurance.  So, which would suit you better, Drunk Driver?  Paying a paltry sum to keep the rest of the world safe from your actions, or giving up your car permanently.   Because you’re DEAD?  How about paying a TON ASS of money to your lawyer?  Or paying restitution to the family you mangled because you had to have those last two beers?  Suck it up (then blow it out) and pay the fee.  It’s not fair that we will ultimately have to pay for your punishment.  Give something else up, like, maybe not going to the bar?!?

In all fairness, Mr. Editorial man was (I think) against the State paying for these breathalyzers.  I say “I think” because he certainly didn’t say it as succinct and as passionate as I did.

Don’t do the crime if you can’t afford the time, asshats.