I got mugged when I was in culinary school.

I think I was like 20 – I was out late, way too late… there was a stupid boy, there was a last minute cigarette run on my way home, there was not wanting to pay for the safer parking spot and picking a place way up the street from my crappy studio apartment…  there was so much bad decision, and young-and-stupid, and WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, that even my 20-year-old dummy self knew it.  No one had to tell me, I played the tape of all of that shit over and over in my mind as I brushed off my instructors’ concerns about the bruises and the weight loss and the daydreaming though class.

Finals were coming, and my singular concentration turned to chicken.  The perfect, crispy skinned, dripping-juicy, impeccably seasoned roast chicken I just *had to* construct and cook for my practical final.  EVERYTHING ELSE was falling apart, everything else was beyond my control. But that chicken?  That chicken was mine to win or lose.

I practiced and I practiced, in my itty bitty apartment, fighting the temperamental gas oven that never kept a consistent temperature, rubbing butter and thyme under the skin and stuffing the cavity with onion and rosemary, starting at a high temp and dropping the oven as soon as I stuck the roasting pan in.  Then submerging myself in my huge clawfoot tub to wait out the timer, since there was always hot water, but rarely actual heat, in the building.

Cooking was my avoidance tool of choice, and the methodology of perfecting roast chicken was the pinnacle of the avoidance.  The prep, the actual roasting process, the breakdown of the completed product, the boiling of the leftover carcass for stock.  It was a process I moved through, one step to the next, automatically but passionately. Lost but focused all at once.

Since then, when the going gets tough, the girl roasts chicken.  I just hadn’t noticed.

It never occurred to me until tonight, in the dim light of the under-cabinets of my kitchen, stripping down the chicken that had been cooling on the stove top since I pulled it out just after the dinner dishes were done.  It washed over me – the combined memory of all of those culinary school mugging chickens, the dinners and frozen leftovers and big pots of soup made for my boyfriend and his punk rock band roommates when I was on the cusp of my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, the piles of chickens I roasted and turned into all manner of frozen meals in the final months of what had been a nerve-wracking pregnancy with Jr, and so many major and minor moments in between, all punctuated by chicken roasting in the oven.

My friend died last week.

Actually, I talked about her early this year.… She got another half a year after I posted that.  A gift and a miracle by her words, to spend with those she loved, who love her.  Her daughter is almost exactly Jr’s age.  She had 34 years on this planet. 34. We have already established that I am woefully inadequate to address death in words.  (You know who wasn’t?  Shannon.  Spend some time reading her words. I said it months ago  – her voice is gifted and clear, and all you won’t find here.)

Me?  I make the chicken.

Ironically, perhaps, I stand in my kitchen, breaking down my mourning chicken, preparing to assemble green chile chicken enchiladas to take to a friend when I go to visit her and her beautiful new baby girl.  I think about how I break something down, and something new is created.  Like life, maybe.

I think of the young girl who sought  to steal back a minuscule amount of the control a bully stole from her in the middle of a deserted midnight crosswalk, one perfectly executed step at a time.  I don’t really remember if it worked back then – but I burned it into my cook’s soul, and it became second nature.  I know it isn’t working now….

But I stand in my kitchen, and I shred away at what was that can’t stay, hoping to find something new from where it came.

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Easy there, Cheer Bear.

I have a confession to make.

It dawned on me some time in August, but I haven’t even allowed myself to get all the way through the full thought of it, LET ALONE actually speak it out loud and bring the being of it forth into concrete reality.

I am happy here.

Deliriously, disgustingly, and freakishly so – if not really totally and completely so. (Did that sound like the Lollipop Guild should be singing it? Because I went right to “Lollipop Guild” in my head. Which sort of fits perfectly.  Quelle horreur.)

Just BAM!  There I am, in whatever store or restaurant or brewery or WHEREVER, walking around, greeting everyone and catching up and smiling and waving  and whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith show and shit. (Just kidding, I can’t whistle.  But when I see myself in my head acting like I find myself acting, I totally see me whistling that, so I am going with it.)  If I saw me on the street, I would probably want to trip me, to be honest – at this point my “rah rah hometownieness” is kind of gross.

A few weeks ago while looking through some old things with my parents’ in there basement, I stumbled on this:

My sister and I each got one the year the city celebrated their silver anniversary.

My family has a brick in the library sidewalk with the date we moved here and our name engraved into the face. BUT we still call it “the new library,” since some of my fondest memories are of trips to the children’s library in the basement of the little building over in the back of the Garden Center in the old heart of the city.

The American flag we fly outside our home is one that was used in a local memorial to honor the victims of the attacks on 9/11/2001 – my parents got one for each of us.

I have a history here, and I see it connecting to my present.

This weekend is the big annual festival, and I am comically excited to go, and to take Jr and enjoy seeing friendly faces, from past and present, and watch the parade and see the local vendors (and drink some local beers,) and just take it all in with him.  It was always a highlight for me growing up here, and now it will be for him too.  I can’t wait.  Andplusalso –  the event that I feel actually flipped the switch and started me down this road to embarrassing levels of love for my current situation is actually coming up again at the end of the month, and when my editor asked if I would like to go again, there was BEYOND zero hesitation, I could not get the “hell yes!” response email sent fast enough.  MAKE ROOM IN THE MINIVAN, fellow mega-subdivision ladies, we goin’ OUT!!  WOOP WOOP!! (Whoa no.)


If you see a unicorn pooing out a rainbow traveling north west away from the Valley Highway, it is probably headed over to siphon some of the happiness overload off of me to recharge.  (Seriously, if you know me at all by now, you know I am cringing at my own damn self, so you can join in – I totally get it.)

Maybe they spike the water out here with something.

Not sure – and can’t stop to lament now – it’s food truck night in the ‘hood, and I wouldn’t want to miss seeing everyone and joining in.  Gah – I am so gross.


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Next time I’ll just get Tex-mex. Just Sayin’.

Did a little “Happy Hour at Home” situation with a girlfriend yesterday (drink wine, eat, talk, and cackle while the kiddos play in the back yard happily? YES PLEASE,) So I rolled into the local BBQ joint to pick up some to-go for us.
It went a little something like this:
Me: ::staring blankly at board, mouth gaping and eyes squinting::
Owner behind counter: ::approaches register while watching for visual cue that I am ready to order::
Me: “Sorry, I am just suffering from option anxiety today….”
Owner: “Ha ha – I haven’t heard that before…. I will have to use it.” (really!? You haven’t heard that? Option anxiety is a constant struggle for me. I use that term on the regular.)
Me: “I’ll do a half pound of the brisket, a pint of mac and cheese, and a pint of potato salad. Do you think that is enough for two women who like to eat?”
Owner: “Well, maybe – but what you could do is add on a side of hot links…”
Me: “ oh no – we don’t like the sausage.. Not just your sausage, we don’t do anybody’s sausage, we aren’t sausage kind of ladies.”
Me: “no no… that sounded like I was making a whole different kind of statement then I meant to. We like the…. We are married ladies… we have husbands… we….”
Owner: :::mouth opens. Nothing comes out. Face turns red.:::
Me: “Let’s just add a half pound of the pork too.”
Owner: “ yeah, that is probably best.”

I should come with a warning label or something.
“Warning – awkwardness of woman is much larger than it appears.”
Just sayin’.

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The only two songs my kid will listen to.

Jr looks a lot like The Mr.

Like, A LOT A LOT.

When they handed his burrito-swaddled brand-new little self to me in the hospital, I literally gasped because it looked like someone had thrown my husband into the hot cycle of the dryer, shrunk him down, and stuck a tiny snow hat on him. He is a total Mini Mr.

Watching them sometimes, being all twinny-looking and laughing at the same jokes (because a boy is a boy is a boy, no matter how old… so burps and made up words are mega funny,) and just generally matching each other, I feel a little left out.

Where is the part of him that is from mommy? What of me reflects through him?

It isn’t much, but there is one thing. Music.

My kid is straight up mine when it comes to musical taste right now – he doesn’t go in for any “Grateful Deadful” junk that daddy tries to lay on us in his car. NO NO – he is all in for the mom jamz.

And mom has some wiggity wack taste in tunes, so him sharing that with me (for now) is kind of everything.  (We’ve already determined I am kind of all over the place… It is my birthright as a Gemini)

HOWEVER – since he is 4, he is smack in the center of the “if I love something I will play/read/listen to/watch it over and over until everyone near me kind of wants to kill whatever it is dead” phase.

So with that in mind I present to you, the only two songs my kid will listen to:

This honky tonk lament, which takes a second to get actually going, that he refers to as “The Fibble Song” (Fiddle)

And this little piece of punk perfection which he requests by commanding “PLAY OK, PLAY OK” from the back seat of the MUV.

That he loves these two so fiercely and so equally fills me with parental pride.

Yep… he’s just like mom.

(Treasure the thoughts of your shared fart jokes while you listen to your crunchy jam-bands alone, husband – Jr’s on board the momma music train.)


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That perfect look. Just Sayin’.


Not for long, Swarm!

Ahhh… Nothing like a day where your whole look just comes together…
Hair on point, outfit bangin’, even the bag is hanging just so in the crook of your arm.

Get it girl.

And then you trip 2 feet from the front door of the office building and throw your bucket-sized iced green tea all over the front of yourself.

Why do I even try?
Just Sayin’.

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