Welcome to my other blog. I started this one shortly after graduating from the C.I.A, to differentiate between my food and my other thoughts. It's a cozy little place with frequent weird but real, honest thoughts.

There's really not much more to say here, as anything mildly interesting is either down below or written in my Armadillo section above.
Hope you can relate to some of my thoughts and situations, even if they tend to be strange sometimes

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Month 2- Cranio Care Bears

I plan on taking this monthly resolution very seriously.

Here are a few rules.

1. I will donate to a different charity every month
2. The only exception to this is food donations, which I tend to do bi-monthly, or the Salvation Army during the holiday season, where change is given to the red kettles at every opportunity.
3. It has to be something I am particularly passionate or compassionate about.

Just wanted to clear that up. I'll probably say it again throughout the experience.

I think "Awareness" is great. But only if it's something we were previous unaware or under educated about. Breast Cancer Awareness is UBIQUITOUS. ALL YEAR. But the very worst part is very little of the pink clothes, keychains, jewelry, pens, paper, shoes, dolls, hats, shoelaces, ETC, very rarely goes to anything. It's to "raise awareness" which means "You just paid 30.99 for a t-shirt. The profits will go to the manufacturer" It's a ruse. A clever game to guilt and bully you into buying crap.

Awareness is great but talk is cheap. Donate actual money to actual cancer that will help research, or take care of those in chemo, or support families of those who are affected. There is so much more you can do than buy a keyring or wear a hat.

 As I said before, "Awareness" is wonderful when you learn something new. I didn't know a lot about quite a lot of things before Awareness Days and Months came about.

I know there are endless amounts of things that can impact someone's life. Such as Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, autism, cancers, Downs syndrome, NF,  Multiple sclerosis, countless birth defects, developmental and physical disabilities/limitations. All of them are equally deserving of help and awareness and attention.

This month, I'm going to be helping Cranio Bears.  
My cousin-in-law had a baby girl the summer of 2012. It was discovered she had craniosynostosis. Because I am completely uneducated and unfit to write a blurb about it, here is a quick overview from the Cranio Bear site.

I've seen and heard a lot about it since her daughter was born and I really want to help raise awareness. I feel like we need to stick together and support each other in our quest to be heard and understood.
The site I am donating to this month offers support and care packages for the (often very young) children undergoing the surgery. They are simple packages designed to give a little love and comfort throughout the process. Which I think is really nifty. And since my family in Ohio received such love through this foundation, I want to support it too.

 I think helping families and the people going through can be as important as researching cures and treatments. Providing care and support and comfort can change a child's or families' outlook and give them the extra love they need to walk through the difficult journey and recovery process.

I know not many people read this, but I am sending this out into the internet world. Trendy marketing campaigns and pink and ribbons and such can be nice. But without the proper research and educated donating, you really wont be helping those who need it most. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County

I decided to start local, and with a cause I find very important. Food banks! I like to give actual food to the donation bin at my grocery store each month, but I know dollars can help do more.

Food was -always- around at my house. I ate meals in-between my meals as a kid. Then ate dinner. Then dessert. Then possibly a bowl of cereal or toast before bed. I never had to worry about being hungry.

But as I grew more aware of my peers and as I grew up, I realized not everyone is that lucky. I love food so much, and it's heartbreaking to think someone doesn't have the access to food most people in the country do. Most of us are lucky; we don't give a second thought to what or where or when we'll eat. This country in general is lucky like that. What's that term? Hunger Anxiety? It's a thing where there isn't enough to eat and you don't know when you'll get food again. I know I'll think of it at 2 am and then wake up with no memory of it.

So after doing some research on Charity Navigator  I wanted to find a local food bank with a high rating. I'm still trying to understand the percentages and such. But the pie charts break down everything into a language I can understand. You want a charity that allocates A LOT of their donations to their cause.

You also want to be careful to donate directly to the intended site. When I clicked "Donate now" it lead me to a third party site. While the fee is 3%-5% to process the donation, it's still better to go directly to the source.

So, here we are at The Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.    .$0.97 out of every dollar is used to benefit the program. Which is actually quite a lot. It has a four star rating on charity navigator and since it is in my state, I'm starting here.

Holidays are approaching, but food is needed year round. Please consider donating food or funds to your own local food banks. It's one of those places were a little goes a very long way.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Year's Resolution in September Inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge

I know it's only October  September, but I'm thinking about New Year's Resolutions. I'm re listening to "The Year of Living Biblically" by AJ Jacobs  and it touches upon many things that I want to improve in my life.  It's actually a pretty good book. Well researched and very committed, AJ takes a journey into Spirituality that I envy a little.

But it got me thinking. I've already lost 90% of the weight I'd like to loose. I'd like to control my temper more and swear less. Cut back on sugar and other "Bad" things.

But what good is that doing anyone but myself?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a brilliant campaign. Really, brilliant. I'm a little jealous. Any foundation wanting to raise awareness to anything would be jealous to even get a fraction of that sort of views and massive coverage. It did a lot of good and I only hope we can continue this kind of mass awareness/donating to more worthwhile things.

Thus enter my Resolution: I will donate to a different charity every month. I will do my best to keep to this. I will do my best  to write a little blurb here or on Facebook talking about the Charity/Foundation/Good Things Doing to let you know what this is and why it deserves help.

Now, it wont be a crazy dollar amount. But it will be something. Some charities, like Cup of Joe for a Joe  is a worthwhile charity that only takes a few dollars.

I wont be spending the money I'd like to spend. But there are so many times when we make plans for "The Future" as in "When we have a little more money, I'd like to donate more" Well, you can't change the world, but you can make a dent. 

Why am I waiting? Matt and I aren't "rich" but we have enough. Enough for me to give a little every month. It will keep me from buying more Doctor Who T-shirts.

If I post it here, it's official. I will stick to it.This isn't "Stop biting my nails" or "loose five pounds". It's going to be a real thing. I'm really looking forward to starting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Good Enough Life

Remember when you were a kid and you dreamed of being a rock star, an astronaut or a doctor? Or all of them? Did life turn out the way you planned? Or do you think life turned out the way you planned because you are content?

I don't remember if I did.  I knew what I wanted. I wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America the instant I learned it existed. I didn't know it then (or maybe I did), but my life changed at that moment.

Maybe that was when my real life began. It lead me down a path. But it saved me. Middle school was so horrific. But I kept thinking if I just held on for a few years, I'd be at the C.I.A, learning all the things I'd always wanted to learn. If I were to speak to Middle School Jenn,  I'd tell her to keep holding on, because a life you always wanted was going to happen.  Or maybe I wouldn't. Timey-Wimey. I might rip a hole in the time vortex or something.

Everyone's Free to Wear Sunscreen came out in about Spring of 1999. I was 13 finishing 7th grade. I was very young and very impressionable. This "song" spoke to me. If you haven't seen this in awhile or never have, take the time to listen to it. It is the best advice in a 5 minute time span.

I learned to be okay with myself. I was still miserable, but encouraged. It does give you excellent advice.  I stopped reading beauty magazines because they did make me feel ugly (I think it is the best advice I have received in my teendom. I have not read a beauty magazine in 15 years, and yes, I think I look fabulous).
I allowed myself to be weird. I took heart that even though life was miserable then, as I grew older and worked at it, life would be better and happier. What I got out of it and still do is live the best life you can. Be happy. Don't worry so much. You don't know what's going to happen in the future. Be strong and confident. I hope Matt and I are dancing the Funky Chicken at our 75th wedding anniversary. "Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The Race is long, and in the end it's only with yourself."  So who am I to compare my life with someone else's?

My dreams were always dull and vague. I wanted to go to college and get a baking and pastry degree. I wanted to meet the man I'd marry in college. I wanted to get a job I liked 75% of the time and have kids eventually.  I wanted to be happy and healthy. I planned on a simple life. Preferably with a college degree, husband, a kid or two and a dog. And a job. Perfectly mediocre. Not quite the "American Dream" because it doesn't involve massive success. But it's probably a bit 1950's.

That was basically it. I didn't want my own store. Decorating cakes was something I wasn't ever and still am not good at. I didn't want a TV show, or a book deal or fame. I didn't even want to be rich. Just happy. Many years, several jobs and Prozac later, I have it. The life I wanted. My quiet, dull life with my husband. I took the long way round, but here we are.
Where helping my cousin move is my idea of a "big, exciting weekend". But I like that life. The "good enough" life.
And what's wrong with that? I have family I love, a husband who is my best friend and partner in life, and a job. It's a "Good enough life" but it's actually a good life. It took a long time to get to this point of happiness. Not comparing my life to everyone Else's. Because to be honest I do not care about going out late. I do not care about traveling. It's one of those "Sure, eventually" things. But not now. I'd rather see family than go to London.

I don't have a need to go to Comic-Con to geek out with my fellow Whovians. Crowds make me nervous. Even if they are as socially awkward and introverted as I am. I'm not adventurous or spontaneous. I am a hobbit. "We hobbits are plain, quiet creatures. Adventures make one late for dinner."

I feel so settled into my life with my husband. We're talking about kids. Seriously talking about them. In the next three years. That's terrifying.  Don't get me wrong. I want kids. Despite the terror and fear of the hundred thousand things that can go from from the Womb to death. I still want them. When I get to see my cousins' kids, or see photos of them growing up, I want that so badly. They are all such good kids.
I know having a kid will be more terrifying, heart-breaking, difficult, frustrating, trying, exhausting, disgusting, agonizing than I could ever imagine. But I also know that the love and joy it will bring me will be unimaginable.

It will be a dull, normal life.  Will I have a mid-life crisis and lament my boring life? Maybe. But probably not. Will I go back to working those 4am shifts? I don't know. What I do know is the minute I know I'm pregnant my life will be about my family. All the time. Which I know will be frustrating and exhausting. Moms seem to get the short end of the stick sometimes. But I get the feeling it will be okay.

I feel like in this day and age, in this generation, it's not okay to want a quiet, settled life. No, our lives need to be full of road trips! Restaurants! Adventures! Late Nights! Selfies! A life full of life! Roller Coasters! Travel! All-Nighters! Foodies! Yoga!  Freak Flag Flying! Okay, maybe not the last one.

 I hate to be a traitor to my gender and feminism, but I want that family life. Not because society told me so. Or because as a WASP I am obligated to want kids and tennis and wine spritzers. I hate tennis.  I want it because I want it.  So does that not make me a traitor to feminism? Because I actually want it?

 "Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much. Or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody elses" 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"Have you ever thought about seeing a therapist?"

"Have you ever thought about seeing a therapist?" He asks
I'm about to smile and chuckle at him, before I see his expression and realize: he's serious.

"I'm sorry?" I ask, still unsure where this is going

"Well, people who tend to 'love to eat' are usually trying to replace something else in their life"

Huh. That escalated quickly.

It was about mid-morning and I'd just told a regular how I just felt like going to the gym. I said I love to eat and I know I can't eat the way I wanted without paying for it. I was half kidding.

Of course I assured him I was quite mentally stable. I did -not- tell him I was already on an anti-depressant so a shrink wasn't necessary at the moment.

How did he go from me enjoying the gym and loving to eat to having a sort of eating disorder.  I gained twenty pounds in two years. Which is the crazy thing. So I modified my eating habits slightly and upped my gym visits. I kept track of my eating and worked out and the weight slowly came off. Which is exactly how I planned it.

I didn't eat only salads, or cold pressed juice or grapefruit, or whatever trendy thing is going on at the moment. I ate like I always did. Just instead of five mac and cheese bites I'd eat one or two. Instead of four pieces of toast I'd have two. With a heck of a lot less butter but ample sprinkling of Everything Seeds.

Still trying to figure out how "loving to eat" is a direct sign of an "issue". I love to eat. I just love it. Textures, smells, taste, mouth feel. How your body utilizes it. It's. Just. All. So. Good. And meanwhile, I sort of went to school for food, so while I might be slightly more obsessed with it than the average person, I am neither drastically over or under weight. I don't think I ever was.

 Twenty pounds over weight was more of something that needed to be "modified" than anything else. Both sides of my family seem to have some sort of Scary Medical Issues and "Losing the extra weight" and "Keeping active" and "Not eating so much butter" seemed like a reasonable thing.

Eating! Oh! The food. The cutting and prepping and cooking. The process of whipping and beating and baking. The end result of something to be proud and excited to eat. Eating is so satisfying.  Eating makes everything better.......Okay, so that may sound like something a person with an eating problem might say.
But really, it does. Especially when it's been busy all morning and all you want to do is eat your toast. Then when you get to eat it, (cold and slightly soggy with delicious butter) a chemical part of your brain  seems to relax. Ahhhhhhhh. Food! I can now function again. 

But enough about food.

Maybe he was more concerned with the fact that I enjoy the gym. Or at least, "justify" eating habits by working out.  But calories in, calories out, right? I cannot literally have my cake and eat it too.
But I like the gym.

God help me, I like the gym. I like having an audio book and zoning out for 20-30 minutes. I don't have to think about who was late to work or who clearly isn't pulling their own weight. Or cranky customers. I don't think about anything. Just my audio book, or whatever drama is unfolding on Dr. Phil, or new music on my iPod. Or just how damp my t-shirt is getting.
It changed my habits over the past few months. After a particularly stressful Saturday at work, my first reaction was "I need to go to the gym and blow off steam" where I'd usually eat. And then take a nap. But working out feels so much better. I can go to bed and sleep well. I feel calmer. The endorphins! "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands." 

Between eating better, working out and keeping on Prozac, I just feel better. So yeah, it's worth working out a few days a week to enjoy the things I want to enjoy in my life.

Anyway, his comment got me thinking. I did not think and still do not think there is anything wrong with me, my eating, or my working out. I always make sure I am eating enough calories. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and know my limits. I like sleep as much as I like eating and the gym.

 There's this one girl who looks to be in her twenties who I see at the gym literally every single time I am there. I don't know if we have the same exact schedules, but she is always there. Her upper arm is only a little bigger than my wrist. My calf is probably larger than her thigh. I think that is a problem. Whenever I see her, I worry about her a little. She's just so thin and working out so hard.  I will never be that person. You see these people on TV shows and you cannot believe someone is that thin. And when I see her, and just how skinny she is, I still can't believe that someone can have such a sickly thin body and still be functioning. 

I know it's probably contradictory to say his comment didn't irritate me, because I am writing a rather long post about it. I honestly thought he was kidding. Because any one else who really knew me would find that funny. Most people know I just love food. I love everything about it. I don't think I'm offended or hurt by the comment. I just find it so absurd.

With that said, it's time to eat!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Externs and delayed words

Over the years I started and stopped a number of blog posts that involved an open letter to my previous-previous job. Most of them were angry, but they were also true. But this isn't that. It's an apology.
For years I've felt very badly over the externs with whom I worked a few years ago.

Girls, I wanted to say I am very, very sorry. As a C.I.A grad I knew it was my duty to look out for you. I was supposed to take care of you and whatever problems arose. And I didn't. This is particularly awful of me because my externship was horrific. Probably just about as awful as yours probably was.

I should have taken better care of you. I only once told Her off that day one of you worked a 24 hour shift. I had just returned to work after an approximetly 1 hour nap and 5 minute shower at about 2 am on Thanksgiving morning. I saw one of you STILL there and was shocked, angry and disgusted. Not at you, of course, but at her. And him. I was furious.

She was bitching how "mommy" had to call and I curtly and not so kindly told her that you had worked a 24 hour shift and how that was really pretty shitty. I wish I told her more. I wish I theatened to call the school, to have them shut down her as an extern site. But I didn't have the balls. When I quit December 31st, 2009,  I went to the school within two weeks to personally tell the extern office about them. I hope they are no longer a site but I am truly afraid they still are.

I'm so sorry. You girls were all so talented, smart, strong and very kind to a weird girl like me. You were tough and stuck it out. I hope you are all in a much better place because you deserve to be in a place where you love what you do about 80% of the time (let's be honest, work can suck sometimes) and you make enough money.  Having you girls around made the place less lonely. Not just less lonely, but less Alone, you know? It wasn't just Me against the Irrational People.

I didn't want to post anything about this particular job before now because I was worried a boss, or an associate or someone who could get me into major trouble/fired would read this, and think I was unprofessional.

But the thing is, I like my current job. I'm terribly shy and nervous all the time because I'm so used to working with Crazy/Unfit/Burnt-Out bosses that when I come across a kind one like I have now, it seriously throws me.
 I can adapt to crazy. I can adapt to unfit. Adapting to nice and Someone Who Seems to Get How to Treat People, is harder.  Yes, I am so neurotic and socially awkward that when people are nice to me, I was weary and suspicious. It's not you, it's me.

So I don't care if the former-former aforementioned bosses "Her" and "Him" read this. "Him" barely can read past a 4th grade level and "Her" is so busy belittling everyone else that she doesn't have time to read this. It really doesn't matter to me.  Also, I don't think I have any evidence left of my old jobs anywhere on either blogs, so unless you know my personal work history you don't know who I mean.

And I would never actually do this to any other job I have ever or will ever work. I liked my old job, and I like my new one even better.  I like my co-workers, I like the quiet moments and the busy moments. I have almost mastered the perfect cappuccino, which is kind of rad. I'm pretty happy, but definitely glad to be there. I wouldn't make marshmallows and cookies for people I didn't like.

This old-old job is just a special case.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Chop Suey, Goulosh.

 At work today no less than three customers told me I "looked tired" and only ONE of them was a regular (and therefore is allowed to say such things to me) I wanted to tell them "No, that's just my face." My face does look a little different from other people. I don't know if it's my gigantic pores or the fact that I couldn't sleep laying down til I was about two years old. (Side bar: When I was born the space between my nose and throat wasn't fully formed, so I had to have surgery to correct it; which involved them breaking that space.) Or the fact that I have NF. And almost every person I know has the same kind of eye area. We have the same darkish circles, with teeny, tiny bubbly-esqe bumps. My eyes look slightly sunken in.
No amount of make-up, sleep, or expensive eye cream can correct it. It makes me terribly unphotogenic. And yeah, it makes me look tired.
 And explaining why that is to a stranger or even someone I work with or regulars is difficult, awkward and totally unnecessary

I also resent when older customers tease me about thinking I feel "old". Yes, I am almost 29, and yes, I feel old.
You kind of tend to feel old when you've had more MRIs by age 12 than most people do in their entire life time. You feel old when you've been poked and prodded and have had your naked to semi-naked body looked at more times than a steak, pork, or hooker.
You feel old when you know NF is going to kill you. You feel old when you know it's going to get worse, not better. You feel old when you worry how it will turn on your future kids. You just....feel worn out.

So no, I don't feel old because "the 90's was 20 years ago" or "I know how to use a card catalog".  I sincerely did not think I'd make it this far. I didn't think I'd be turning 29 with a husband. Seriously thinking about getting pregnant. Thinking about our dream house and  having a career. My doctors as a child sure as hell didn't think I'd be capable of getting this far.

Combine that with former terrible bosses, middle-of-the-night shifts, school struggles, betrayed friendships and a bullied childhood and you get me. Worn out, weary of others and tired of everything.

A customer today commented "Yeah, because you're so old!" when I said "I used to be optimistic". I did used to be optimistic! I used to be more naive than I am now. More sunny and cheerful.  If you were me on my externship and experienced the nastiness, bullying, deep loneliness, betrayal, heartbreak and sheer cruelty of that time in my life, you might understand why I feel bitter, old and tired. 


I never really gave much thought to religion growing up.
It's sort of funny how religion never actually occurred to me until it was shoved into my face and down my throat at catholic girls' school. Then I realized. Catholics are crazy.

My mom's family was raised Catholic. So finding out Catholics were actually this level of crazy surprised me. I never made the connection til I hit high school and met the Crazy People.
 My mom's family is big and loud and kind and big hearted. Gatherings have no less than 5 pounds of food per person. They are all good, hard working, excellent people and I am very lucky to be apart of the family.
When I was a kid, I thought all families were this big and this loud. I thought all Thanksgivings contained 40 people. When a classmate only had one uncle or no uncles I thought how weird and quiet that must be. No cousins to hang out and torture!? I still can't imagine that.  I was actually a little disappointed when I found out Matt only had two siblings. I wanted my kids to have what I had. A dozen uncles, loud holidays and lots of food. But then I realized they'd have a dozen great Great-Uncles and great Great- Aunts and a few dozen cousins besides. (great cousins? Second cousins? How does that work?) So I think my kids will be okay. They'll be loved like crazy by about a hundred people.  It has to be said again that I really do feel lucky to have such a large web of family. It is a blessing to have so many people around.

Back to the Crazy Catholics. 
So I was surprised when I met the Crazy Catholics. At least, the snobby, rich, entitled girls with their Kate Spade bags, Coach Wallets and other fancy things a teenager probably shouldn't own. 

I never really fit in during high school. The small group of girls I was friends with were kind and un-crazy. At least not "catholic" The S.H.A class of '04 had a reunion at some point this summer and I saw that only about a dozen showed up. If I were to be brutally honest, I didn't really like about 80% of the girls I went to school with. The "smart" kids actually treated me like I was retarded. Like it was my fault the SCHOOL put me in A.P ANATOMY only because it "fit my schedule". But one of the girls Michelle (one of about 5 in my class) treated everyone like they were retarded anyway. And I hate to use that word. I know the meaning it has and how terrible a word it is. But she did. She literally did.  She treated me like I had a mental disability. And I loathed her for it. Rich bitch. I think if you didn't own a designer bag you were beneath my classes' notice.

If I didn't see 78% of these girls again, I'd be okay with it. Sorry, but I think most people in high school feel that way, I just have the guts to say it. Also I really don't think any of them actually care or even remember who the hell I am.

On a final note. Being married is awesome.
I don't have much more to say about it, because that's all that needs to be said. It is awesome to have a companion, if you will. It's great to be glad to see someone when they come home. To make weekend plans to watch six episodes of Doctor Who and make pizza.
And also, I thought this post was a bummer so I wanted to leave it on an awesome note.