Small victories

I had an “old-Andrea” type of morning. Despite getting 8+ hours of sleep, I awoke exhausted, snoozing long enough to make me hurried but not long enough to make me late. I forgot: coat, notebook, bag, lunch, earrings and card (as in greeting, not bank).

Several of those things were needed – but not necessary – for a meeting this afternoon, so I took a chance and ran home at lunch.

In addition to acquiring all forgotten items, I also quickly made a delicious grilled cheese sandwich with spinach and tomatoes on whole wheat bread and washed it down with CSA apple cider.

All this, and I made it back in forty minutes. Whew.

(Vent)

I kinda hate that “I’m so ADD” has become a thing to say. Because chances are, you’re not. You may have forgotten something or even some things, because you’re really busy. Or you might be distracted, because there sure are a lot of things vying for your attention these days. Or you may just be feeling like it’s tough to focus on what you should be doing because you’re thinking about everything else you need to do, too. That’s all pretty normal. But that’s not AD(H)D.

I know. I do. Chances are also pretty good that you don’t mean it to be hurtful, and that you don’t realize the pain and frustration and turmoil that actually being “so ADD” causes. You probably haven’t given much thought to what it would be like to have relationships impacted by the incapacitating inability to listen and engage in conversations or decision-making, or to have a career influenced by what you can’t do rather than what you can.

Sometimes I look at the things Avi does and says and I wonder, is he just being five or is he being like his mother? I see patterns in his behavior and I worry, is that a kid thing or a me thing? And I hear us “get in trouble” for the same types of things – and use the same excuses – and sometimes, it scares me.

I spent the first 25 years of my life developing reasonably successful techniques to work around my deficiencies. I’ve spent the past six years (with occasional breaks due to pregnancy and outright irresponsibility) on medication. The difference to me, and the people I’m closest to, is remarkable. But I was a adult when I made that decision. I could articulate the way I felt before and after to my doctor, my partner, my self.

It’s waaaaaaaaay too early to be freaking out about my awesome kid and the possible chance he’s inherited some of my less desirable traits. So I’m not. I try to keep my sometimes-thoughts in check and focus on all the incredibly great things he does that are entirely, totally 100% not like me. And the good stuff from me, too, of course! I’m not being intentionally self-deprecating here. It will be something we discover about him like every other thing he does and he is – and like everything else we will love him and support him and help him grow to be an awesome adult, too.

But maybe I’m feeling a little extra vulnerable the night before my baby starts kindergarten, ya know?

Chicago, Part 1

Note: All of my photos transferred small and funky. I blame iPhoto. But still, it sucks. If I can restore them at a higher quality, I’ll replace them below.

I’m FIIIINE.

Really, everything is great. My job continues to be incredible, Avi is doing well, D and I went out of town (more on that in a bit in case you failed to notice the title of this post) and our future is brighter by the minute thanks to some other awesome developments. I’ve just been busy and tired. And lazy. And unmedicated. But I got that last part corrected, and lo, suddenly I have time and motivation and follow-through and sticktoitiveness again. #science.

So last weekend we went to Chicago. And I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my best friend for also being D’s cousin, thereby ensuring that friends=family. It’s tremendously convenient. Also, thanks for marrying an incredible gal we also went to school with, creating in us the most awesome foursome ever, with an infinite number of inside jokes and shared experiences to draw from. The only part of me that doesn’t thank you are my sides, which spend much time splitting when we are all together.

We drove Thursday evening, leaving a lot later than we would have liked. This was more of an issue Friday morning when I got up to work remotely, but at the time we were energized and excited for our trip. The drive is a simple one, and Ohio isn’t so bad to drive through when it’s dark. We got a discount at a truck stop in Indiana because the cashier was from Mt. Pleasant, i.e., Pittsburghers rule.

Our first glimpse of Chicago came at about 4am local time.

Isn’t it beautiful?

And of course the lateness didn’t prevent us from hanging out for awhile before we all crashed. Three of us had to work Friday, but we were rewarded with reservations at a lovely little spot in JAAK’s old neighborhood, Yoshi’s Cafe. And thus began the real theme of the weekend: food.

Note: Gawd, these pictures are terrible.

Appetizers were plentiful and delicious. Tuna tartare. Served with guacamole and an oyster shooter, which normally I’d be horrified by but this one had sake, yuzu ponzu (a citrusy vinegar sauce), cilantro and jalapeno.

Note: I seriously die a little every time I see that amazing food in such a crummy photo.

We also tried a shrimp tempura roll with avocado and onion rings because, why not?

Dinner was party-style so we could share. In a place like this it would be criminal to do it any other way.

First up: a burger like you’ve never seen it before. Wasabi blue cheese and carmelized onions on the most remarkable Wagyu beef.

Look. At. The. Juices.

Next, salmon and catfish served with corn (fresh from the cob!) and asparagus.

There was a light pesto sauce with salmon and a wasabi mayo with the catfish, but in my opinion both sauces were superfluous. The fishes were excellent.

And finally, sirloin steak and rosemary french fries.

Note: Dying.

Dessert was possibly even better than dinner. And efinitely prettier.

This was magic between two layers of magic, topped with ice magic. Flavors of chocolate and cinnamon and maybe pecan or butter nut? I have no idea. It was magic.

We also had chocolate lava cake. And berries. Made better with more chocolate.

Thankfully there was  long walk to get back to the subway Metro train El (is that right?) because otherwise I probably would have fallen asleep in the car.

Part 2: more Chicago food in more Chicago places.

Part 3: Chicago food that we cooked ourselves.

Stay tuned.

Three things

I was given a homework assignment today at work.

Next week, as part of our special group retreat, we have been tasked with bringing in three items to share. Yes, like show-and-tell. What? That totally counts as homework.

We’re supposed to “…pick out three items that are meaningful to you to bring…think of family, hobbies, trips, education, work…whatever is most meaningful…”

So of course, being the ever-diligent student that I am, I’ve been turning ideas over and over in my head since I first read the email. What do I have that is meaningful? Is it what I own? What I’ve done? How do I demonstrate meaningful experiences with tangible objects? Am I overthinking this?

This is kind of a big deal, since it’s my new job with new people and new opportunities to share new (and old) parts of my life. That’s a lot of new, so I think my indecision is somewhat expected. And it is indecision as opposed to anxiety, so that’s a plus. For now.

I’m absolutely a sentimental person by nature, but over the past several years I’ve had to become far more pragmatic in practice. For me, visual clutter is a major trigger for mental clutter, especially if I’m stressed. Most of the time I gravitate to the cleanest, sparsest room in the house (which even then isn’t very sparse by modern design standards) because it’s easier for me to think straight without the distractions. It took years for me to realize that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by keeping every scrap of every daily memento, but even now if I’m feeling nostalgic (or unmotivated) (or unmedicated) I can easily slip in to old patterns.

All of that is to say that I don’t actually have a ton of physical schtuff to go through looking for my three perfect items, and instead I’m trying to approach this task by identifying three parts of the whole (me), and then finding the object to represent the parts (of me).

Yeah. I am totally overthinking this.

Maybe I should just bring in something like this portrait Avi made on the back of an Old Navy box of me with curly hair and a hook for a hand.

He was very apologetic about the hook, especially since I don’t actually have one. I didn’t mind, though.

At least I have a week to figure out what I should do. And just like the student I have always been, I’ll no doubt wait until Tuesday evening to get my objects together.

So what three things would you bring?

Infatuation

Many of you know that the Sharp Edge and I go way back – through both good times and bad. The Beer Emporium in Friendship has been a constant in my life for over a decade (again with the good and the bad) and it has relatively recently  reclaimed its rightful spot as my favorite neighborhood bar.

I was pretty excited to hear they were opening another location in downtown Pittsburgh, right down the street from my office. Perfect location for pre- and post-theater dining, and not too annoying to access if you’re coming into town from elsewhere. Now that I have a new job a couple blocks over (P.S., I won’t be on campus, I’ll be downtown.) the trek from office to beer will be a bit longer, but that turns out to be a good thing. If the past six days are any indication, being farther away may help me keep my impulsivity in check.

Because I’ve already been to the new Bistro three times.

And can I talk a minute about the waffles?

Oh.my.god. The Liege Sugar Waffles are out of this world. I got a chance to visit the new Bistro last week before it opened and had one with raspberry sauce on the side. I seriously have no words to describe how delicious it was. I made plans to come back again this week for lunch and maybe possibly perhaps okay totally spent a lot of time this week thinking about having another waffle.

Except it wasn’t as transcendent of an experience this time! It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t like, OH MY GOD THE WAFFLES good. Now none of this would make much of a story except for the epilogue: I learned tonight via @sharp_edge that the reason my waffle today was good but not criminally delicious is that the batter was too cold. They’re still working out the kinks of the new place, and as you might except, there are occasionally some inconsistencies.

I rarely wax poetic about social media from a professional standpoint, but in my opinion, Sharp Edge is doing it right. Whoever is behind the curtain with their Twitter account is responsive, personable, pleasant, informative, honest and funny. I’m a reasonably brand-loyal person when it comes to local restaurants and bars, and my interactions with @sharp_edge have improved my enjoyment of their establishments and increased the likelihood that I will visit them. Like three times. In six days.

So check out the new Sharp Edge Bistro downtown at 922 Penn Avenue. They’re doing a lot of things right, and working on others to get even better. Welcome them to neighborhood.

And tell them the crazy waffle girl sent you.

Not now, Soon

Yesterday and with no warning whatsoever, my friend Jeffrey posted one sentence:

Things are going to change, I can feel it.

Besides getting the song in my head (arg), I’ve adopted that statement as my personal mantra this week. I am so very close, I just have to take it one day at a time and keep things in perspective. (Insert additional cliche affirmations here.) But since impulse control has never exactly been my specialty, I awarded myself extra special props for not jumping the gun or acting before thinking through the consequences. So yeah, go me.

In other news of things on the horizon, albeit with a bit more content than the paragraph above, a couple of my pieces (probably printmaking – I haven’t totally decided yet) will be up for auction at this year’s Rock the Streets on June 12th in East Liberty.

There is an incredible list of musicians and artists involved, and I am humbled to be included. Tickets can be purchased at the link above, and 100% of the proceeds benefit Community Human Services. Hopefully a bunch of yinz guys are already planning to attend.

One of my plans over the next couple weeks is to get our third floor studio back up and running, giving both Avi and myself a place to “work”. Yes, part of this plan includes purchasing a small air conditioner if we’re really going to make use of the space this summer, but that’s my serious intention. I have three illustration projects and some independent layout/graphic work I’d like to get a move on, so hopefully once the studio project is complete the motivation will follow.

Food Rules

I love food (obviously) and I’m a pretty adventurous eater. I really enjoy trying new restaurants, and of course I’m a huge fan of experimentation in my own kitchen.

But I also have some very strict food rules by which I abide. These absolutes are for me and me alone; I’ll never judge you for not adhering to my rules, but please please don’t make me try something that falls within the no zone. It can only end poorly for both of us.

1. Cheese is always savory.

2. Fruit and cream cannot be mixed in a sweet way. (i.e., banana and milk on cereal, yes. Fruity yogurt, no.)

3. Cake is usually unnecessary, but if you must, mild angel food or spice cake is preferable.

4. Icing is almost always gross. So is syrup.

5. Tuna doesn’t come from a can. Or a bag.

6. There is never room for Jell-O.

7. If the choice is between an oil-based sauce or a red sauce, always go with oil. If the choice is between a red sauce or a white sauce, always go with red.  If there is only white sauce, hold the sauce.

8. Ixnay on the owdered sugar-pay.

9. Ketchup. Unacceptable in any form on any item.

I’ve found over the years that my friends like to try to come up with exceptions to my rules, but I’m not aware of any that have passed muster.

I’m not going to like your cheesecake, and I’m truly sorry. I’m sure it’s delightful to everyone else in the room, but if I could just politely decline, that would be awesome. You make a to-die-for tuna noodle casserole? No thanks, I’d actually rather die. Yes, I’m eating my waffles plain. Yes, I know they were engineered with “little nooks for holding tasty accessories and for getting proper syrup soakage.”* I’m still going to pass. Cottage cheese for lunch? Perfect. But if you come near me with those canned pineapple chunks to put on top I will stab you with my little plastic fork.

And so on.

I can’t be the only one with food rules. What are some of yours?

*Actual conversation in which my dismissal of the true purpose of waffle topology was ridiculed.

The Numbers Game

This post originally appeared at Loser Moms on March 2, 2010.

I’ve lost 30.8 lbs since January 9, when I unboxed the scale purchased especially for this contest, stepped on and tried not to cry. When I weighed in on January 15 for the first time officially, I was already down 9 lbs from that original scary number. (New number: still scary) I attribute that quick and sudden drop to a lot of things, but I’m fairly certain it’s accurate. You see, after years of being anti-scale, relying instead on clothes sizes and family photographs to measure my successes (and failures) at weight loss, I am now totally and hopelessly committed to my little bathroom scale. I’ve become a full-fledged player of the numbers game.

I weigh myself daily, sometimes more than once a day, but I only record the number first thing in the morning. I’m using the Lose It! iPhone app, and I will admit to a bit of a thrill when I open it and see the steady downward slope of the weight line. I record negative changes by the ounce as they occur, but I prefer nice round numbers. Who doesn’t?

But how much is too much of the numbers game?

During February’s snowpocalypse I fretted over my loss of momentum and will power being stuck inside for most of a week. I gained 8 ounces in 4 days, then worked twice as hard to lose that and more to get back on track. While I have heard similar stories from everyone else on the East Coast dealing with being cooped up this winter, I’ve started to notice other trends in my numbers game. For example, we are going to the beach at the end of August, and I recently added up my weekly average weight loss so far (about 4 lbs) and applied that to the remaining weeks until we go (about 24) to come up with a ridiculous potential additional loss (96 lbs). When I giddily shared that aloud, my partner was quick to admonish me. Goals are one thing, but this had never been about the number for me in the past. Why was it now? (He has been incredibly complimentary and supportive, by the way. Important to note.)

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think the numbers game is a product of several factors. First and foremost, it is EXCITING to see that scary number going down! I am so proud of myself, and I feel great. I posted to Twitter yesterday that there must be something about 30 lbs that just opens the door for people to notice, because all of a sudden this week people are. And that is AWESOME. But it’s also the way I’m going about this that is in fact all about numbers – my weight is just one of them. I’m tracking calories, fat, protein, sodium, fiber, carbs, sugar and cholesterol with Lose It! I enter every single thing I eat into the app and record every minute of exercise. (We joined the brand new gym in our neighborhood and I go at least four times a week with a gym buddy.) I cook daily, experimenting with recipes and dutifully writing down alterations to ingredients, portions and procedures. I’ve cut out almost all processed foods so I’m constantly dealing with calculating the numbers from combinations of raw ingredients.

Sure, weight loss was never about the numbers for me, but it is now. And it’s working. I think as long as I keep things in perspective and continue to approach it in a healthy, realistic way (i.e., no more multi-week pound projections!) I might really be on to something here. It may have taken five years, but I’m pretty confident I can finally lose that thousand or so pounds I gained when my son Avi was born. Thanks to the numbers game.

drink this wine that i pledge you

last night i experienced first hand why there is a warning about mixing ritalin with alcohol. which is not to say that i got smashed or anything – far, far from it. however, i definetly was more sleepy from one beer (one beer!) than i ever thought possible. that’s fine with me, since that’s all i’m really reccommended to consume anymore. and i guess to be fair it was a british pint, so slightly more than a single beer, but still well below what i would typically drink if i wasn’t being so responsible and taking my meds.

right, just to clarify, that was prescribed ritalin, not hey-wanna-check-out-this-great-stuff-i-got?-from-some-guy-in-
the-parking-lot ritalin. there is a huge difference. as val and i were discussing yesterday, i don’t get the benefit recreational users get because um, well, it just pretty much does what it’s supposed to for me, which is clear my head and allow me to focus on well, life.

thus endeth today’s bearing of the soul.

anyway, today i am also tired and sluggish, mostly because mondays are so insanely booked anymore, AND i went out after studio. i had good and frustrating results with my prints yesterday. i think when avi takes his next nap i’ll post them, but i do believe that i will take advantage of this particular slumber with a short nap myself.

today’s title is from the musical (who knew?) beowulf