Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy to be Here

Snowman Ornament

Christmas Tree


Hello!  I didn’t mean to disappear last week, but such is life around the winter holidays.  Before leaving for Michigan on Friday, December 21st, my boss and I (finally, finally) resubmitted our grant, and I’m optimistic about our chances for landing some funding, assuming this whole fiscal cliff business gets worked out in time.  Immediately after submitting the grant, I had to wrap things up at work, go home, pack, and leave the next day for the holidays with my family.

What’s that saying about how the more things change, the more they stay the same?  I’ve had a good holiday up here, in the cold and the snow.  My family is well.  We are celebrating my sister’s engagement to her now fiancée, Scott.  We are also grappling with the first holidays after my brother’s death.  While my brother Scott was not a fan of Christmas, the passage of time is often marked by family holidays and birthdays.  We remember him, even as the time we shared with him in life slips away from the present time.

It’s also been an incredibly busy week, which is why I disappeared with nary a word to all of you!  Being with my family is a total immersion experience—I stand in awe of those of you who are able to blog during the holidays.  I am clearly unable to reach such heights of greatness.  (I’m catching up on all your blogs, too—it’s nice to have a little collection of posts to read!  I have missed you.)  But today I’m having a quiet day with my sister Theresa and her Scott.  While they putter around her house, I’m looking at Christmas photos and writing this blog post.  We had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit, and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.  Later today we will probably head out for a wintry walk in Maybury State Park and maybe hit up Ann Taylor Loft’s 50% off holiday sale.  I’m still in my pajamas, looking something like this:

Silliness with Lydia

Aren’t I lovely?  Yes indeedy.  Hee hee!  (My six-year-old niece took that photo—she brings out the silliness in everyone!)

Anyway, happiest of holidays and a fantastic new year to you!  I am excited to do my year-end post and new year’s resolutions (I see Chrissy has already posted hers!).  I’ve also been working on another post in my freedom series, but that one is more personal, and with blogging, it can be tricky to figure out what is okay to share.  Until then, be well!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012’s Lessons

Butterflies in Christmas Lights

Float on, friends. 

* Speak your truth.

* Get clear about your intentions.

* Sometimes silence is the appropriate response.

* Feel your feelings.

* You are stronger than you think.

* Remember the shared goals.  Don’t let pride become more important than the bigger picture.

* If you let it, love can triumph.

* Love wears many costumes, speaks through many people, will not abandon you in your time of need.

* Do not abandon your physical needs.  Get enough sleep.  Drink water.  Breathe.  You will get through this.

Happiest of holidays to you, friends.  I’ll be back here again, sooner or later.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Through the Lens: 2012’s Photos, July to December

It’s a little odd to reflect on the second half of 2012 because frankly, it’s not pleasant.  It’s when everything fell apart: I received two grant rejections, Matt and I broke up, and my brother died.  There’s just no getting around the fact that 2012 has been a terrible year for me.  But there is beauty in melancholy, and even a sad year has its happier moments.  Here are my favorite photos from the past six months.

Coolest Toy Ever

July: I flew up to Michigan to visit my family, and I was so happy to spend many hours with my niece and nephew.  Here they are investigating my lab timer.  I love how fascinated they both look!

Wobbly Shotglass

August: I am such a nerd.  I bought these cute shotglasses with different adjectives; wobbly is how I felt after a long run one Sunday morning.  Wobbly is also how I felt during the second half of 2012—much of my energy was spent trying to regain my balance in the aftermath of personal and professional failure.

Standing in New Dress

September: I like this photo for several reasons.  One is that I bought my niece and me coordinating dresses (hers is purple with colored stripes), and it makes me laugh to think of us wearing the same dress.  Oh, the perks of being petite!  The second is that I took this photo on a quiet Sunday, and I remember feeling calm, peaceful, and well-rested.  That combination of feelings became so rare this year.  Finally, I have great legs.  (Check out my calves!)  For whatever reason, I made it to adulthood feeling pretty good about my body, and I’m grateful for all the ways in which my body has literally carried me through life.  I feel like we’re partners, a team.

Fountain at Detroit Metro

October: I flew home to be with my family after my brother Scott killed himself.  I was exhausted, sick, grief-stricken, and surrounded by so much love in the weeks after his death.  It was a surreal experience, and this photo of the fountain at Detroit Metro airport is one of the few photos I took during that time.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

November: I spent much of November revising a grant for a December submission.  This Pumpkin Spice Latte was one of many treats that fueled hours and hours and hours of grant work.

Red Bird in Profile

December:  You see him (or her), right?  That little red bird, looking downward.  Perhaps she is bowing or contemplating the earth beneath her.  I love that I managed to catch this little bird with my camera, this little reminder that beauty is everywhere.  You just have to keep your eyes open.

And that, dear friends, is the way I want to feel about this year.  There is joy and beauty, even in the dark moments.  Melancholy is its own splendor, a connection to the sad, the fragile, the vulnerable.  2012 was the year when two of the strongest men I know showed me their cards, and in those moments I knew: I am just as strong and capable as they are.  

What a crazy year it’s been.  Thank you for joining me, for being here, and for all the love.  You are the best.  Really, truly.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Through the Lens: 2012’s Photos, January to June

Last week, Raquelita had a wonderful round-up of her favorite photos from 2012 (or at least January to June).  I am a shameless copycat (meow!), thus I present to you the best of 2012, part one.  I won’t pretend that my photos are particularly impressive from an artistic standpoint, but these six photos are all beautiful, poignant, or funny to me.  They were taken with my little Olympus camera.  Half were taken while I was out and about; the other half were taken at home.  Given my lifestyle, that sounds just about right.

Holy Moly

January: I caught this gorgeous, gorgeous sunset on my way to catch the bus.  I walk or ride my bike past this clock tower every day on my way to and from work.  I like the idea that the first photo is an everyday site made spectacular by the extraordinary light and clouds.

Candlelit Dinner

February: We had a ridiculous amount of rain this winter, and one night the storm knocked out the power at home.  I ate dinner by candlelight, and I love how the light plays off the glasses here.

Blue on Blue

March: I took this photo at one of the many fountains on campus.  I like the many shades of blue here.

Stripes are in This Year

April: This bird cracked me up!  He and I were hanging out in a parking lot when he started acting a little aggressively toward me.  I consider myself a behaviorist, so I love watching animals “in the wild.”  (Also, I like this bird’s stripes.  He’s very fashionable this year.  Maybe he was just trying to show me his stripes?)

Two Moscato Spritzers

May: My sister Theresa came to visit me in Texas, and we had a very busy, very emotional weekend together.  I think our relationship this year has experienced some growing pains because of the changes in our lives: my romance ended, she got engaged, and our brother Scott died.  I value the depth of love that we are creating, but navigating the transitions is not easy.  What is easy, however, is drinking these delicious moscato spritzers.  I think this photo is so pretty!

Flies Like Lemon Too

June: This photo makes me laugh every time I see it!  My postdoc work is focused on fly mating behavior, and look!  Here they are, congregating on my lemon wedge.  The male is on the left, and it looks like he’s about to approach the female.  I can’t believe I managed to capture this one with my camera—flies are not usually this patient.

Stay tuned for part two!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Freeze-Dried Food Recipe: Zucchini Raisin Cookies

Today we have a guest post from the lovely Empress of Drac, Agnes Embile Jimenez.  Agnes asked me if she could write a guest post for Life, Love, and Food, and because I am the curious type, I said sure!  If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog, feel free to e-mail me at lifeloveandfood [at] gmail [dot] com.  I’ll probably say yes, but if it’s a science-related post, you’d better be up to the task.  I take my science seriously around here.

And now for the cookies!

* * * 

It is always important to be prepared when emergency strikes.  A person should amass a supply of food that stays fresh for a long time.  There are many places that sell foods with a long shelf life.  Most often people purchase freeze-dried or dehydrated foods to stock pantry shelves.  These items take up little space and tend to stack nicely.  On the downside, many people do not know how to use these foods in everyday meal preparation, especially when it comes to dessert.  Here is a tasty treat that is easy to prepare from stored ingredients: cookies! 

Before beginning the recipe, it is necessary to reconstitute the dehydrated ingredients.  To rehydrate food, it is important to take into consideration how much water will be necessary.  Dehydrated food normally doubles in size when reintroduced to water.  Many dehydrated products come with instructions that should be followed to obtain best results.  It can take a few hours for food to become rehydrated.  There are many benefits to using dehydrated ingredients in recipes. Since they have a long shelf life, they can remain untouched for years without worries about spoilage.  Also, dehydration is a process that retains most vitamins and minerals.  They are also safer than canned foods because there is no risk of botulism.  In the end, no one will ever be able to taste the difference between dehydrated and fresh ingredients.

Zucchini Raisin Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco*

3/4 cup honey

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 cup flour

1/8 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1/2 cup freeze-dried shredded zucchini, rehydrated (or 1 cup fresh shredded zucchini)

1/2 cup freeze-dried raisins, rehydrated (or 1 cup fresh raisins)

To begin the cookies when all of the ingredients are ready, the oven should be preheated to 350 degrees and the cookie sheets are greased. Crisco, vanilla, and honey are creamed together in a large bowl.  An egg is beaten and added to the mixture until well combined.  In a separate bowl, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are combined.  They are slowly added into the honey mix.  The rolled oats, nuts, zucchini, and raisins are added.  Cookies are dropped by teaspoon onto the cookie sheets and flattened with a fork.  They are baked for approximately 10 minutes until brown, and then cooled on wire racks.  The resulting cookies are a nutritious and delicious dessert treat.

* Agnes recommends Crisco for crispiest results but says that butter could be used as well.  Rosiecat only uses Crisco for seasoning her cast-iron skillet, so she’d lean toward using butter, preferably from cows that got to eat grass in a pasture.

About our guest author:  Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer.  She writes for many online establishments and supports those that offer alternative lifestyles to consumers.  She is a frugal living and self-sufficiency advocate and also a self-proclaimed foodie.  She recommends for those budget-conscious home cooks who want to get big savings in shopping for freeze-dried foods.  You may follow Food Insurance on Twitter.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I don’t normally comment much on the news because honestly (and please don’t hate me for this) I don’t pay much attention to it.  With my tendency toward depression, I just can’t handle the news every day.  I sort of let it filter through to me from friends, colleagues, Facebook, and blogs.  But tonight, I’m feeling very heavy-hearted about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Seriously, again?  I don’t normally quote myself, but I shared the following on Facebook a few hours ago:

“At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think bell hooks got it right: mass shootings are the product of a patriarchal culture that demands boys stop expressing their feelings openly and honestly. Boys become men who are so full of rage that the only way way they know to find some relief from the pressure (now internalized) is violence. Violence is EVERYWHERE: from our rape culture to our homophobia to our industrialized agriculture to our mass shootings. All of this makes me deeply sad and so frustrated. It's not about guns, people. It's about violence as a way of enforcing our cultural values. Jeff Wilson got it right: we need a new set of values, starting with compassion.”

Jeff Wilson is a professor friend of mine who had posted a sentiment similar to mine.  For some of us who aren’t religious, our belief in the need for tolerance and compassion—for self, for others, for strangers, for our enemies—can come close to religious belief.

My eyes tend to glaze over when people start discussing gun control immediately following a mass shooting.  I believe we aren’t going deep enough when we talk about guns.  We need to get to the heart of what drives a person to such desperation, such frustration that deadly violence is the answer.  I believe that a key insight into these mass shootings is the fact that to my knowledge, they are almost always carried out by males.  That seems highly significant to me.  What is it about our culture that is toxic to boys?  Some shootings (perhaps many!) are the result of mental illness, but even mental illness can be a product of environment.  Until we strike at the root of patriarchal culture, I’m afraid we are destined for more tragedy and grief.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Think

Hello, good morning, how are you?  To go along with our recent discussion about freedom, I thought I’d share this wonderful quote from David Foster Wallace, who, I think, knew a thing or two about freedom.

“Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that [this] cliché…is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.  It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from your experience.  Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.” 

(David Foster Wallace, This is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.  Speech delivered at Kenyon College’s commencement ceremony, 2005.  (I found the quote in a little book called All Things Shining by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.))

It’s powerful stuff: become a shepherd of your own thoughts, knowing that ultimately, you are the most powerful influence on your experience of the world.  I started writing this series about freedom because I was annoyed at a TED talk and wanted to understand why my feathers were all ruffled, but the more I write and think about the topic, the more I want to keep writing about it.  So if it’s okay with you, I think I’ve got at least another pair of blog posts to write, including honesty in relationships and a spiritual practice as a way to find freedom.

Have a beautiful day, dear readers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Freedoms I Lack

Continuing on our theme of freedom and what it means on a personal level, I present Part Three of the series.  You can find Part One here and Part Two right here.

The Leaves Hang Down

I don’t like to waste a lot of time thinking about how my life would be better if…[I had a boyfriend/I owned some sparkly shoes/I weren’t such an introvert/insert additional wishes here].  What’s the point of cultivating discontent in one’s heart?  Life is happening right here, right now, whether or not you are wearing sparkly shoes!  I think cultivating gratitude is an art and a science: it’s a mindset, a spiritual practice, and the wisdom of taking a walk around your neighborhood and admiring the way the light filters through the tiny leaves.

That being said, perhaps there is also some wisdom in knowing what you’d really love to have or do if you had the freedom.  It gives you something to dream about, perhaps something to work toward.  Here are two of my wishes:

* Enough time off to do some foreign travel.  I’ve said before that I choose to spend my vacations with my family in Michigan, and that’s true.  But I am really looking forward to the first chance I get to visit Italy…or Germany.  Or Syria.  Seriously!  I love Middle Eastern food, and this post made Syria sound amazing.  Some day…

* The privilege of working at home one day a week.  Oh, how I love working at home!  It is so peaceful, and I always get a ton of work done.  My labtime work usually involves a lot of running around and experimental work.  In contrast, when I work at home, I’m analyzing data, making a presentation, reading, or writing.  It’s a really nice change of pace when I can spend most of the day doing deskbound activities.

Are there any items on your “If I had the freedom” list?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Vegetable Directory

Vegetable Directory

It turns out that in my current, grown-up state, my one true love is vegetables.  Seriously!  They taste good and make me feel good, which are the exact characteristics I’m looking for in a man as well.  Side story: I once had a crazy, crazy crush on this Brazilian guy (which I’ve written about before).  Oh my god, he was so beautiful and everyone thought so, especially the gay guys who used to hit on him in the locker room at the gym.  One time when the Brazilian and I were talking about food, I told him I was a vegetarian, and he responded, “I like vegetables.”  Which is, I think, the best response I’ve ever heard.  It made me laugh—it’s really the perfect thing for a non-vegetarian to say.  I later told Matt this story (truth be told, the Brazilian brought us together), and he said, “I like vegetables.”  Matt knows a good line when he hears one.

Anyway, this week my fridge is bursting with fresh produce, so I made myself a vegetable directory.  I’m such a dork that I can’t hide how excited I am.  Brussels sprouts! kale! yams!  For most of these goodies, I can build a meal around that item.  My meal planning these days has become rather formulaic:

vegetable + protein + carb = dinner

If the vegetable in question is really starchy (like yams), then I count it as my carb and try to add a second vegetable if I can.  My protein options are usually beans or lentils, eggs, cheese or yogurt, or some soysages.  Carbs tend to be bread or rice, though I acknowledge that there are plenty of carbs in the food I’m counting as vegetables or proteins.  I feel like carbs tend to round out the meal and give me some additional calories, which I need.  I like the formula because it’s very easy to build dinner without a recipe and using whatever I have on hand.

So that’s how meal planning works at Chez Rose-Anne!  How do you keep yourself organized and well-fed?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Autumn’s Jewels

My First Pomegranate

On Thursday evening, I bought my first pomegranate.  That night, I learned what all the fuss is about.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d eaten pomegranate seeds before.  They are delicious: sweet, tangy, fresh, and crunchy.  To my palate, they are utterly unique.  But I’d never done the work of excavating my own pomegranate seeds from the fruit, and it turns out that being a fruit archaeologist is utterly delightful work.  It’s messy, too: before I was finished, I’d sprayed both the wall and myself with droplets of dark red juice.  You’d think that I would be smart enough to put on an apron, but nah—I’ll just wear a white t-shirt instead and cover that with juice.

I know others have shared ways to more easily extract the seeds from that webwork of membranes.  I tried gently using a hammer to knock the seeds loose, but that didn’t work.  In the end, my fingers were the best tools (aren’t they usually?), and I let myself sink into the slow task of de-seeding the pomegranate.  At the end, I had a bowl filled with fresh pomegranate seeds and a new feeling of wonder.  Also, I had more than a few pomegranate seeds in my belly—I’m an eat-while-you-work kinda person.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Everyday Freedoms

I’m still over here, contemplating freedom and what it means to me.  Consider this Part Two of another rambling set of posts.  (Part One is right here!)

As all of my regular readers know, I’m a postdoc in biology, and I am lucky enough to have discovered a project that I love and that my advisor has been willing to support.  As far as postdocs go, I am living the dream.  It’s still work, which means it still requires a lot of time, effort, patience, and persistence, but still—I am living the dream.  Now, science postdocs are famous for complaining about how poorly paid they are, and I am here to refute that claim, at least in my case.  How much money a person needs depends on a lot of factors, including where she lives, how many dependents she has, and how much debt she’s carrying.

Money is one of my biggest anxieties, and yet, I live quite comfortably on my postdoc salary.  This month, as I was thinking about Christmas and gifts and whatnot, I realized that I want for nothing.  There is nothing lacking in my life for want of money.  I don’t have a car, but to be honest, I don’t really want a car right now.  I’d like to buy some new glasses, but I’m content to wait until January to make that happen.  I might buy some “grown-up” furniture for my bedroom (which is currently sporting a look I like to call “dorm-room chic”), but I’m happy to roll that into 2013’s big budget items.  For me, budgeting has become such a way of life that it doesn’t feel like deprivation—it’s just me being the planning geek that I am.  And right now, I’m way over budget for travel (damn you, holiday plane tickets!), but I’ll make up for that with contributions over the next few months.  After December, I am not planning to take any big trips until October 2013, so that’s plenty of time to reimburse myself for what is always a spendy time of year.

I’ve been out of graduate school for more than three years now, but to be honest, I have maintained a similar budget to my grad school budget.  Staying (more or less) on that budget has allowed me to save a lot of money, which gives me a certain sense of confidence about an uncertain future.  And that, I think, is a wonderful freedom of the mind.  Who knows what I’ll do next?  I might try my hand at teaching, or science editing, or more writing.  I might find a groovy company doing something really cool and decide to work for them!  In the meantime, I find myself relaxing a bit about money (though I do worry sometimes, like when I have to buy plane tickets for December travel).  It’s nice to feel like I don’t have to pinch pennies any more.  It’s nice to go to Target and feel like I can buy whatever I want.  Like this pretty polka-dotted shirt dress.

Friday Morning Prim and Proper

(The shoes, however, are from Kohl’s.)

It’s that everyday freedom that probably adds the most pleasure to my life.  I worry, of course, that my grant might not get funded, that I’ll be back on the job market sooner than I would have liked.  In the meantime, I’ve grown somewhat lazy about policing my spending.  I toss a bottle of wine into my shopping basket.  I meet with friends for our weekly wine date.  I indulge in a new dress from Target or I comb the racks at Plato’s Closet, just for fun.  Because clothes are fun, and buying secondhand is almost like getting something for free.  I buy big bags of yams and cuties at the grocery store because orange foods make me happy.  I buy a new cookbook because I can’t resist adding just one more to my shelves.

I worried a lot about money in graduate school because I was young, anxious, and naïve.  I wanted my freedom from Mom and Dad, but the cost of that freedom was being financially responsible for myself.  Now, I am grateful for the discipline that was inspired by my grad school anxiety.  Because now I know what my budget can look like during a frugal time, and I know what it looks like when I spend as I please.  And perhaps as much as being able to buy a new dress, guilt-free, at Target is a kind of freedom, I think knowledge is the very best kind of freedom.  Knowledge will set you free.

PS  Interesting in hearing more about my perspective on money?  Check out this post: Survival Strategies, Part Two: On Wallet.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Does Freedom Mean to Me?

I listened to a TED talk last week, and it made me really angry.  Which is a strange and funny thing, because who gets angry at TED talks?  TED talks are amazing, inspirational, and motivating.  They can make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think.  I’m still reveling in the joy that is Gabrielle Bernstein’s TED talk.  When she said, “Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety,” I just wanted to weep with happiness.  YES!  That is the power of a TED talk.

Adam Baker’s TED talk, however, was a different story.  Rather than feeling lifted up and ready to fly, I felt weirdly deflated.  The title of his talk, Sell Your Crap.  Pay Off Your Debt.  Do What You Love, sounded like I should find it riveting.  Who doesn’t love stories about people chasing their dreams?!  His talk was broken up into three parts: 1) birth of daughter, 2) talk with wife about chasing dreams, selling crap, and backpacking for a year through Australia, and 3) rant about American consumerism.  Throughout the talk, he asks the audience, “What does freedom mean to you?”

I tried to ask myself that question.  What does freedom mean me?  To be honest, I’m not sure it’s a question that makes much sense during this season of my life.  I’m finishing a year that has, one could argue, offered me a lot of freedom.  I could have quit my job with good reason.  Matt set me “free” when he broke up with me.  It could have been the perfect time to embrace the upheaval and move to Italy, or Seattle, or anywhere but here.  But I didn’t want that kind of freedom, the kind that untethers you from your life.  Instead, I wanted my life, passionately.  I wanted my work and my man.  So I don’t even know how to think about that question about freedom, when what I wanted were the activities and people to which I had committed.

The part of Mr. Baker’s talk that really annoyed me was #3, his rant about American consumerism.  It’s not that I think he’s wrong.  Yes, Americans work too hard, we have too much debt, and we use consumerism as medicine to soothe our stressed-out minds.  Yes, of course we would be healthier and happier if we got a grip on our spending.  I completely agree.  Mr. Baker goes on to say that we should identify with ourselves and other people based on experiences, not stuff.  And while I agree with that in principle, my truth is a little different.  With regard to debt and work, I’m in a good place.  I have no debt (thanks, Mom and Dad, for paying for my college education!).  I have a job that I enjoy and a career that I am building.  Scientifically, it’s a very exciting time for me as I nurture my project into maturity.

You might recall that I’ve been living in a state of uncertainty, jobwise, for a year and a half.  The reason behind this is that my project does not have its own funding—my boss has been supporting me and my project using other money, and we’ve been working together to secure new funding (which is what all this grant-writing business is about).  A year and a half ago, I took a calculated risk and decided to stay in this job.  I made the decision based on two things: 1) science-wise, I felt confident that I was onto something, that I was on the cusp of discovering something new and cool and 2) I liked my life in Texas.  It turns out I was right: I had found something new and project-worthy.  But it was the rest of my life that gave me the fortitude to stick with a difficult work situation: my comfortable apartment, my friends, my family, Matt, my running/biking/yoga.  It was my other commitments that sustained me during a hard summer.  In November of last year, I had to make that decision again when my boss told me we needed to secure external funding for my project: do I stick with this thing I’ve started, or do I leave for something that feels safer?  I chose to stick with it because again, I felt like I was onto something.  I decided that I’m going to run with this project as far as I can.  Is that freedom?  Likewise, I feel bound by loyalty and love to Matt.  The conventional advice is that after a break-up, you should avoid contact with that person in order to let yourself heal.  I admit, there is a certain wisdom to that advice.  But Matt and I never had a conventional relationship, and my healing seems to have more to do with shifting my perspective than it does with whether or not he and I communicate.  Matt is a part of me, because being with him has changed me.  I could no more cut off my own arm and expect to feel whole than I could cut him out of my life and expect to feel healthy.  With Matt, I have to accept the blossom and the wilt.

Freedom to me is the choice between commitment and walking away.  I chose to stay.

PS  I started writing this post with an end in mind, but I have taken the writer’s path in a different direction.  Next up: another kind of freedom, this time one that is much more mundane yet still meaningful.  Happy Monday, all!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I’m Ready to be a Grandma

Childhood was hard for me, and now I know why: it’s because I’m an old person at heart.  I always have been.  I’m not sure many adjectives that describe young people have ever described me: I’m more cozy than sexy, more quiet than exciting, more homebodied than adventurous, more hot chocolate than shots of tequila.  It’s just not in my nature to command people’s attention with my smashing good looks, my wild behavior, or my shocking decisions.
Instead, I’m like a grandma trapped in a young person’s body.  I found this terrific post at Yes and Yes and decided to steal it for myself.  The comments made me laugh and laugh; you should check it out!  Here are some of the ways I’m ready to be a grandma:
* I love going to bed early.  If I can be in bed by 10 PM—heavenly!  And on nights that I stay up way past my bedtime, I feel sad that I missed my chance to go to bed early.
* I would rather be in my kitchen, baking cookies, than out drinking.
* I am more excited about having a comfortable, beautiful home than I am about traveling the world.
* I’m already hard of hearing.  What did you say?  Speak up!
* I’m also extremely nearsighted.  Where are you?  Come closer, I can’t see you.
* I like old-fashioned means of communication.  I send people cards on their birthdays and prefer phone calls to texting.  I see e-mail as a form of letter-writing and enjoy including greetings and closings.
* I think in most situations, people should try really hard to be kind.  I’m sort of offended by people who think that kindness is overrated.
* I’m always eating high-fiber breakfasts.
* I was a bit scandalized by some dude who was wearing a t-shirt that said, “I love boobies.”  Yeah, I bet you do.  The feminist in me wanted to fight back by wearing a t-shirt that objectified male anatomy, but then I thought, Nah.  That is not a fight you win by fighting fire with fire.
And then there are all of my grandma-like sartorial choices:
* I’ve started wearing an apron!  We can thank my mom for this one.  Here I am, last night, in my “women in science rule!” apron.
Saturday Night Apron-Clad 
Also, check out the wild-eyed paleontologist.  This is kinda what I look like every day at work, except I’m not holding a bone.
Crazy Scientistas
* I prefer flats to heels.
* I like soft materials, all the better in which to hug and be hugged!
* I prefer cardigans to blazers, though I must say that my green “blazer” made of sweatshirt material is really, really great.  So soft!
* As the undergrads wear shorter and shorter things, my skirts keep getting longer.  Soon I might feel scandalized if you can see my knees!  (Actually, it’s not really about modesty so much as I’m enjoying the look and feel of longer skirts and dresses.)
That seems like a pretty good list to me.  How about you?  Do you feel younger or older than your real age?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unsolicited Advice

The best rebellion

A few words of wisdom from a person who never got a tattoo, shaved her head, dated a bad boy, announced she was majoring in art, dropped out of school, or did anything remotely rebellious.  But I think there lives inside each of us a kernel of rebellion, and this is what I did with mine: I followed my mind and heart.

Focus on what you love, and trust the process.