Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mama Police

Let's get one thing out of the way- I have a potty mouth. No! I have the mouth of a pirate ship that's been lost at sea for three years, battling scurvy and entertaining loose women. Before Jack I never gave a thought as to who I was potentially offending (old ladies on the bus, my English teacher) and I just let the f-bombs and s-storms come flying when and where I felt fit.

"It makes you sound uneducated."
"Whatever. I have the highest GPA in the damn English class. So that notion can go fuck itself."

Fast forward a few years and now I have Jack. When Jack was an infant I figured he was too mesmerized by his own hands to notice the "son of a motherfuck"s I was tossing around when it came to breastfeeding, sleep deprivation, healing c-section sites and general Arizona summer weather. Surely he didn't notice the in-depth expletives I served up my malcontents on the road. No, my son would never understand "donkey dildo shit eater" from "Ohhhh, loooook at the duckies!!"

Until he did.

After Jack dropped his very own f-bomb the other day while mimicking me, I slammed the brakes.

"Uuuuuhhhh nooooo! Okay, listen. Mama has a bad, bad potty mouth! And she needs to STOP! No bad words okay?"

And we moved on to more pressing matters like apple juice refills and guitar playing.

But, habits don't just end at the snap of a finger. And by dinner I had "an accident".

"*pop off oil landing on my skin from the skillet* Oooowww fuck!"

And then I see this curly head of hair peek around the corner, with an expression I can only describe as "unimpressed Martha Stewart", points at me with disgust and says-

"Ohh, oh yes, I'm sorry dude. You're right! No bad words! I'm sorry."
"That's okay."

And so it has begun. The reform of my rebel tongue. It's just kinda f*@ked up that a 2 year old had to point it out.

Classy Amanda, reeeeeal classy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The thing about being happy...

Last Saturday after taking in the Sean Lennon concert, after the band left the stage, after the vodka cranberries had evaporated from the glass and into my bloodstream, I started walking towards 4th Avenue in search of more. More music, more alcohol OR sobriety. There is no in between with me. I must either find my head on a friends couch or in my car, free of the poison under my skin, making my way back home.

There is no in between.

I tucked my hands into the pockets of my black pea coat and listened to my boot heels click and echo on the pavement of an underpass I had passed under countless times in my life. By now comfortable enough in it among the vagabond street bands and the faces that blur past. I recognized one that night. He went to high school with me. A friend of a friend and then a friend of mine. We had made jokes occasionally, shared music and small talk. Our eyes met and the recognition took place awkwardly. We continued walking a few paces until the air of familiarity pulled our shoulders around and made us feel it was okay to make conversation.

"Oh my god! Hey!!"
"Hey! I thought that was you but you looked too happy to be Amanda."
"(giggling) You two are drunk aren't you?"
"Yeah, we live right up the street so why not? What are you up to?"
"Just heading to Che's. Sean Lennon just got done playing Congress. His band is out mingling on the patio right now, you should go catch 'em before they leave."
"Yeah, maybe we will! Have fun!"
"You too!"

And we continued on our paths. Only this time his words hung around my head.

" looked too happy to be Amanda."

At first I smiled to myself thinking "god, I must have really been a sad sack in high school". But he's been a friend of mine on Facebook for a couple years now. He'd seen me since high school, even on the superficial level of social networking.

Was I happy? I hadn't really asked myself that before. I just assumed I was when I was and I wasn't when I wasn't. I hadn't thought of it as an entity that could envelope ones disposition enough to be able to call it out in the dark of the night.

There is no in between.

The last six or seven years of my life have been, for lack of a better analogy, a roller coaster. Parent's divorce (after 15 years of constant fighting), recovering cutter (I had poor coping skills when it came to depression), end of a significant relationship, graduating high school, new job, new relationship, unplanned pregnancy...adulthood before 20. I hadn't thought about happiness as a thing that possessed me. I rolled on with life, hopping from one stone to the next, trying to keep my balance, avoiding the fall. I never thought twice about what my face conveyed. Whether my anger pushed people away, whether my hurt drew them in, whether my smile played an active role in my life.

The thing about being in your own world, trying to navigate it as best you can, is that sometimes you forget about the ones floating around you and what they see.

I handed my i.d. to the doorman at Che's and settled into a booth in the back. I ordered a Pepsi, there was no need for anymore alcohol. There was no need to fake it. I smiled and embraced my friends words instead of trying to understand them, analyze them.

It's nice when somebody compliments your outfit, your haircut, your family. But when somebody points out something you didn't think you were carrying with you, that's something different. Invigorating. Validating even. Free of ego and twice as rewarding.

Since last week I've carried those words with me. I found them when I was laying in the bath a day or two ago. When I rolled around the ground with Jack at the park, blowing bubbles in his hair. When I cooked. When I laughed or had something to share.

" looked too happy to be Amanda."

I guess I've changed. For once I'm happy about that.

One more time, with feeling...

Okay, so my friend is off enjoying the Mexican coast while I sit and drink the lukewarm green tea/Tazo Passion tea blend I concocted this morning. So enjoy the beach you jerk! Here's my "Let's Go Surfing" mix (for those of you who are screaming "enough of the m*$@#rf*%king mixes already!"...hang tight).

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And if you keep posting pictures like this-

I may cry...

The Favorites prt. 2

In my last "Favorites" playlist I was going to explain the meanings (some have more than others, some just have lyrics that resonated) to me behind each song but as you can imagine, it became a bit drawn out. In the end I was kind of bummed that I didn't just go for it, wax nostalgic and bear little pieces of my soul through song, so this time I am! Here's "The Favorites Part 2" (with commentary by yours truly)-

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1. "The Sun Was High, So Was I" by Best Coast- I just think this is what a crush sounds like. It is waking up with the sun on your face and going through your day with one person in mind the whole time. It also really makes me want to sit at the beach and breathe in that salty air.
2. "Dry The Rain" by The Beta Band- One day I came home from what I assumed was "the worst day ever" (although I have these about once or twice a month, so take that with a grain of salt) and I was just...done. I threw myself on my bed ready to marathon cry like a champ and when I turned up my c.d. player this song came on. By the time Steve Mason came through with "if there's something inside that you want to say/
Say it out loud/it'll be okay/I will be your light/I will be your light/I will be your light/I will be your light", the tears stopped. I picked myself up off my bed with those lines running on repeat in my head and walked to Eegee's for a sandwich and suddenly the world was back on it's axis. To this day, if I need an instant pick me up I flick on this song.
3."A New England" by Billy Bragg- My dear friend and fellow music junkie/pusher Tyler put this on a mix for me about a year or two back and I've been in love with it ever since. I love the rawness and echo of the guitar and his voice. It sounds like he's playing to an empty auditorium and you're the lucky sucker who just happened to walk by. The lyrics are awesome too- "I saw two shooting stars last night/I wished on them but they were only satellites/ Is it wrong to wish on space hardware/I wish, I wish, I wish you'd care."
4. "At The Bottom Of Everything" by Bright Eyes- I was a Bright Eyes FIEND in high school. I had every c.d., knew every lyric. But this song, I think, can speak to everybody. Conor Oberst still stands out as one of the best songwriters of our generation and I'll forever love him for his words.
5. "Lovers Spit" by Broken Social Scene- Not much to say about this one. It just feels like a wave washing over my body every time I hear it.
6. "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl" by Broken Social Scene- It's all in the title. This song takes all the feelings of a crush, of adolescence and growing up and mixes them into an ear orgasm. When I listened to this song for the first time I went out and bought "The Virgin Suicides" (Jeffrey Eugenides) and read it cover to cover. My heart felt like it was going to break.
7. "Robbers" by Cold War Kids- This reminds me of walking downtown on an empty weekday afternoon for some reason. As a result, I listen to it often.
8. "Bad Girl" by Devendra Banhart- If you've been reading for the last couple months it's no secret that I'm bloody obsessed with this man and the music he makes. The thing that sticks out in this to me is the almost self-mocking "wah wah wah wah". It's totally endearing and heartbreaking in equal measure and the "mama I ain't waiting/I ain't waiting/but I'm still holding on"? My chest almost seizes up every time I hear it. His voice is absolute perfection and he uses it with a beautiful conviction that resonates almost too loudly.
9. "Gloria" by The Doors- If you're a Doors fan you're either damned if you do, damned if you don't when you talk to people about them. We'll I do. Or at least I did. Jim Morrison awakened a sexual energy at 17 that I didn't know I had. He took the wallflower and provoked her enough to be the one who calls the shots. And in this song, well, it's quite obvious that he does the same with others as well. That build up and explode, that was teenage erotica at it's finest.
10. "The Old Days" by Dr. Dog- If those keys at the beginning don't pull you in instantly I don't know you.
11. "Opus 23" by Dustin O'Halloran- The beauty I find in this song is the simplicity. There is no pretense, just a beautiful and haunting piece of music.
12. "Rose Parade" by Elliott Smith- When we were trying to figure out what to name Jack, "Elliott" almost won for his middle name ("Lee" won in the end, it's a tribute to Greg's family, fine by me!). I pretended the idea didn't derive out of my love for Smith and T.S. Eliot...but I'm a damn liar. It totally would have, for good reason.
13. "Orange Blossom Special" by Johnny Cash- Why wouldn't Cash be on here?
14. "It Ain't Me Babe" by Johnny Cash and June Carter- If you don't sing along to the "nah nah no" part you aren't listening to this song properly.
15. "The Rain Song" by Led Zeppelin- Listening to this, on top of a mountain in the rain, on my 18th birthday, was, to put it simply- a moment.

And there you have it. Part 2. I'll be working on these when I can't find anything else to write (sometimes that happens...). Here's hoping you don't get sick of them!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Scene From The Movies I Make In My Mind*...

July, hot but not overpowering. They unpack boxes from the moving van still sitting outside, they still have 5 hours left on it so it sits idly in the unpaved driveway. He walks in on her taking pictures out of a box, lining them on the floor, stepping back and thinking, then another, step, think, another, step, think.
Hand on her shoulder, she turns around.

The door closes.

Insert song

*I do this all the time, hear a song that makes my heart kick and instantly think "if I were to make a movie, where would I put this song?" Just figured I'd get it out somewhere.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh, look another music post...

I was originally going to give myself a pedicure tonight, a sort of reward for all that cooking and doing about 2 hours worth of ironing (my most loathed of chores) today...but then I got distracted by my i-tunes. So I decided "why not post my FAVOURITE, OVER THE MOON, CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT, ALL TIME TOP, OVERUSE CAPS LOCK UNTIL BORDERLINE OBNOXIOUS, CRAZY WITH THE CHEESE WIZ, IF MY SOUL WAS A PIÑATA AND YOU BEAT IT WITH A STICK THIS IS WHAT WOULD FALL OUT songs. There will be more to follow. Here's one-

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Oh! And I also came across this and the joy was almost too great (and I'm not one for Pixies covers!)-

More to come...

To cook a schmorgesborg

Yesterday I did something that I thought I'd never do- I cooked for people. Now, I may make dinner for my family, but by no means am I what one thinks of when they think "cook". I probably fall more in line with "weirdo" or "split end picker", maybe "weird sense of humor haver". But "cook"? Well, I suppose I could add it to the list among "trash tv watcher" and "jig dancer".

Sunday night I cooked my in-laws a vegetarian/vegan meal. And from what I heard, it turned out great. Though I'm suspicious the rave reviews may be due to my being bound to them by law now. I've had their cooking before, there's no way I did THAT good. But here it is nonetheless.

Here you have me doing my best Julia Child...if Julia Child was a cheesy dork.

The menu was-
Vegetarian lasagna Florentine (I wanted to make something they would be more familiar with)
Couscous with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing and cucumbers (vegan)
Minestrone soup (vegan)
Coconut creme pie for dessert (vegan)

Cooking up some of the lasagna innards (onions, mushrooms, zucchini)...which turned into this-

I forgot to take photos of the other stuff I put in it- spinach, cottage cheese, mozzarella and parmesan (in case you were wondering, no, I did not eat this lasagna, I was more than happy with the soup anyway).

Before the oven.

If this were a show, now is where I'd have an elapsed time segment where I dance with a cane and top hat and tell horrible jokes. In reality, we mostly just forgot to take a lot of photos. So here's the end result-

Family getting ready to chow down...

End result. Now, the lasagna looks odd and even a little burnt but it wasn't. I almost didn't want to take a picture of it but I did FOR THE REALNESS! I KEEPS IT REAL PEOPLE!

Jack "I Eat Lasagna Like A Mo'fuggin Champ" Martin

The World's Heartiest Bowl Of Minestrone Soup (this was my dinner and I couldn't even eat the whole thing! Whoever says vegans are starving doesn't know their ass from their elbow.)
And for dessert-

Coconut creme pie, made more fun by the fact that it was TOFU! Yes, tofu. Turns out tofu can be incredibly versatile and I was shocked when I was making the pie at how much it tasted like the real deal.

So there you have it! We actually made so much we have a TON of leftovers in the house. I think I won't have to cook for a week which is fine by me. I can resume what I'm normally good at like being a "bath lounger" and "compulsive vacuumer". But "vegetarian/vegan cook for the day"? I'll be happy to put that in my arsenal.

The challenge is almost up and I can safely say that it has changed me. I've learned so much and have experienced nothing but positive change that I feel it would be a waste to go back to my old habits. My decision was basically solidified once I stepped on the scale at the in-laws (I don't have one in my house) and learned that after three weeks I'm 8lbs lighter. I haven't been able to shed any weight for the last 2 1/2 years, even after exercise and diet. I've discovered that this diet works well for me and I'm going to keep rolling with it.

What I ultimately want to say though, to all of you, is THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart. Everybody has been so supportive and I cannot thank those of you who have followed and cheered me on enough. It was the fuel I needed when cravings got strong and I wondered if this was the right choice. I kept everybody in mind when I cooked, when I ate and in the end, when I felt full and happy, it was mostly gratitude that hit the spot. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, what shall I celebrate the end of the month with (vegan still, that is)?

Thoughts Before Coffee

I've decided that glockenspiel may very well be my favourite word. I also like "favourite" more than it's soulless counterpart "favorite". And "colour" more than "color"...but back to what I was originally here for-

Glockenspiel glockenspiel glockenspiel glockenspiel

Yes, it makes me dizzy.


*Coherent post to follow. Just doing my brain calisthenics.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Moooosica! Musica!

I was going to post an update about the 30 Day Dare, but it's kind of mundane. Still vegan, still loving it. That's about all there is to update on. I'll be ending this dare with my favorite recipes, an interview with the people who have helped guide me along this challenge and their thoughts on it and I'll be preparing a three course vegan meal for the in-laws (which will be documented here of course!). Since starting the challenge and realizing how well my body has responded to it, I've decided that after it is over I'll be going vegetarian completely, with a vegan lean. This may or may not be due to my viewing "Earthlings". I'd recommended it but it definitely isn't for the weak of stomach nor for those who really want to see what's going on in our meat, fur, pet industries. I cried and had to cover my eyes multiple times and while it was almost torturous to watch, I'm glad I did because it gave more meaning to this challenge and catapulted me into really thinking about my ethics.

Jeez, I guess that's an update right there right?!

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to post some songs I've been obsessed with for the last couple days. So here you go-

Jack White's lovely wife seems to be just as talented as her counterpart (and reminds me that I need to touch up my roots)-

For those of you who enjoy Natalie Portman being cute and odd videos (I regularly shake my groove thing to this while cooking)-

Because Iggy Pop never gets old to me.

I never tire of hearing these Swedish (there must be something in their genes that allows them to make awesome music)lads and lasses-

And since I was coming up short, I asked for help from my guidance counselor in all things music, James over at TucsonScene (for you locals or future Tucson explorers). Here you have "The Last of the International Fey Boys"-

So there you have it! Tonight I'll be getting cozy at one of my favorite haunts to see The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl) which sounds like-

So I'm quite jazzed. Here's hoping you all a lovely and musical weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Don't F*@king Do That: Lessons From the Marriage Frontier"

Part one*-

The shower is not a slip and slide. If I wake up to go the bathroom and my feet step in random puddles, somebody is going to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. That somebody will be you. And that side of the bed will be the floor.

*Somebody is coming up with a new segment...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dude, Where's My Toddler?

Jack, when we first moved into our apartment...

Jack now.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

Last night I decided to embark on a night of good ol' fashioned 4th Avenue merriment. Bands play at almost every bar/venue (saw about 3 or 4 last night) and drinks are cheap (we Tucsonans are spoiled by our bars). Naturally, I had to get dressed-

Outfit Details (as if they matter)
Dress- Buffalo Exchange from a million years ago.
Cardigan- Target
My, my, my, my, my boogie shoes- Jeffery Campbell
Necklaces- Cost Plus World Market & thrifted locket that I wear out the yang
Purse- Vintage via Desert Vintage

It had been awhile since I did one of these outfit posts so I figured "why not".

I'm incredibly tired. In fact! Here's a picture of Jack doing in impersonation of me this morning-

It was a good night.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh la la! An award and Friday Fondue...

First, the lovely Mrs. Eva at Lovers in a Dangerous Time, gave me a "Stylish Blogger Award"! Thanks Eva! Although I received this award in a slouchy sweater and no pants (underwear though! it's something!)...the irony is not wasted on me.

As these things tend to go, now I must divulge 7 random things about myself and pick some other stylish bloggers to pass this award on to.

7 Things-
1. I have had almost every type of pet, from childhood to now. I wanted to be a veterinarian so I figured I should learn how take care of animals from the scaled to the furred. I've had everything from chinchillas to iguanas (which were actually one of my favorites, after it would rain I'd take them out and let them swim in puddles and climb little trees). Each and every one has enriched my life. I strongly believe that animals have a therapeutic aspect to them (there's a reason they have therapy dogs and cats at children's hospitals and retirement homes).
2. If I could wear boots everyday I would.
3. I have a thing for vintage hats. It started with this deep purple velvet one that has pearl, sequin and rhinestone embellishment on the top. It's a stunning hat and I've only worn it out once (people didn't "get it"). But I keep her (yes, it's a her) around for constant inspiration. I need to get back to collecting them.
4. I've been having a longstanding love affair with burlesque (before that god awful, inaccurate movie came out). It has changed me in so many ways for the better. I strongly recommend taking a burlesque class if you're feeling self conscious. I can not begin to describe the gratitude I have for it.
5. There is a chance (even if it's slight) that Greg could be transfered to either California or Germany for his job. I have little daydreams of blogging from my German apartment, eating apple strudel. But I'd miss Tucson too hard.
6. I hate the sound of sneezing. I don't know what it is but every time somebody next to me sneezes really loud I get anxiety. I feel like an asshole about this weird aversion since they can't help it. I keep it to myself mostly while my teeth clench in my head.
7. Sometimes I make this noise that sounds like an old gramophone, for fun. It sounds like the into to "Chicago". I pretend I'm a flapper. Greg laughs at me.

Now, I must pick 15 bloggers to pass this along to.
1. Cole, Ryan's gorgeous wife over at Pacing The Panic Room.
2. Mrs. Woolf, of course (I don't expect these bloggers to participate in this, they're likely too busy, probably being stylish and awesome).
3. Keiko Lynn
4. The lovely, newly pregnant with numero two and still rockin' Chelsea.
5. Emery, who hosts seasonal Fashion Weeks, and inspires us all to get gussied up and has played cupid to many of us in discovering new blog friends.
6. Emilie and Erin over at Preen, who I happen to be lucky enough to live in the same city with. They own the most adorable vintage shop in Tucson.
7. No Model Lady, though I think she could be one!
8. Jess over at The doe or the deer.
9. Samantha Moeller, founder of the former Missbehave Magazine and badass mom with style.
10. Marcella (and the insanely adorable Pella) over at Mar & the Peej.
11. The crazy lovely Adriana (and her heartbreakin' Hendrix) at Just By Living.
12. Jasmin at Vintage Vandalizm. Does this girl know how to bring sexy back or what?! So envious of her hair.
13. Blogger girl crush, Hannah Metz at Hannah and Landon.
14. Molly started her very own style blog awhile ago! Check it out here.
15. Bebe at Fated To Be Hated.

There you have it! Thanks again Eva!

Also, since I haven't done my Friday Fondue shtick in a bit here's some things that sparked my interest via the interweb.

1. A funny, all too familiar tutorial via McSweeney's.
2. One adorable Tumblr.
3. Cannot wait to get addicted to this hilarious new show.
4. Going to make these this weekend!
5. Crazy adorable clothes here, here, here, and here.
6. Songs I've been digging as of late- Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear, Let's Go Surfing by The Drums (thanks James! James happens to be Tucson's resident music connoissuer and I find myself lucky that he shares these little gems with this amateur. You can read his blog here.), First Song for B by Devendra Banhart (absolutely GORGEOUS song, I even took my years mantra from it) and I Want The World To Stop by Belle and Sebastian.
7. A totally NSFW video that is hilarious, ladies and gentlemen, Streak Fail.

Well, I think I've pretty much linked this post to death. Hope you all have wonderful weekend. Kiss your babies, eat good food, watch a movie and spoon your spouse/boyfriends/lovers/people of affection, a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down the pants.

Amanda OUT!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

30 Day Dare- Week 2

I haven't been posting these as frequently as I wanted to. A lot of it has to do with the fact that I tend to cook more than I need to so I don't have to cook the next day which means we end up with a lot of leftovers. Yes, I'm proactively lazy. I am the person that cleans the house before bed so I'm not obligated to really do anything the next day. I call it "smart" but whatever...

So the last couple days I have been eating at-home Chipotle bowls. I figured out how to make them and they taste pretty similar so I've been going crazy with that lately.

Sunday the in-laws had us over for the usual family festivities in which I talk and possibly drink too much (they keep my glass refilled so it isn't MY fault, they're just really good hosts!) and made me a vegan meal! My mother-in-law made a kind of stir fry with her delicious mushroom sauce and it was so simple yet absolutely scrumptious! The fact that they're so supportive and willing to go the extra mile for my silly ass is what really made the dinner lovely though. They've always been this way. I feel like a stray, mangy puppy that they adopted, bathed and spoil. I mean what mother-in-law calls you up to say that "they're so happy to have you in their sons life and in their family"? I want to cry when I think about how blessed I am to have them in my life.

Other then that I'm just happy I'm still on the ball with this challenge. To sum up so far-

Changes- 1 inch lost in my waist, skin is not dry anymore, my palette is changing (I REALLY like veggies now, more than fruit even!), more energy.
Iffy changes- My hair. It seems to have lost a bit of the luster it had. But I think I can remedy that with a mask and a ton of avocados!
Thoughts- So far so good! The positive changes are what's been keeping me from reading too far into my cravings (I REALLY want a Reuben). My palette has changed. The first week I thought I was going to go crazy with the amount of things I had to cut out, the biggest being cheese! But I've just learned how to become more creative. Now I don't really crave cheese too much. My appetite has gotten smaller. Most days I can run on two meals and my morning coffee and feel great. I'm looking forward to the rest of this challenge and have been thinking of where I want to go after it's over. I'm thinking I will very likely go vegetarian after all is said and done, but I also want to utilize vegan cooking into our diets.

Here's to week two (even though I'm almost through with it!)!

What kind of mother are you?!

I wonder this all the time.

"What kind of mother am I?"

I have been pregnant and I've had a baby. I've raised that baby into toddlerhood and yet...

I feel like I'm not REALLY a mother. Like somebody is going to come in with a degree, a job, a mortgage and take Jack to a land of responsible parenting.

I wonder if I'm fucked up for liking sex and music and clothing. For enjoying wine and staying up late (sometimes). For cursing and wondering too much. Being unsatisfied with routine, finding it to be a shackle instead of something that children need. I heard that somewhere.

When I was pregnant I would have episodes where I'd cry for hours thinking I was going to damage the life that was thriving inside me. I thought that because I wasn't done growing up that my growing pains would effect him, make him hate me for bringing him into a world I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate in and sometimes fight with.

Sometimes I still think this. When I turn on Yo Gabba Gabba to finish a paragraph. When I lose my cool. When I tuck him into bed and kiss him goodnight before slipping my feet into shoes not meant for motherhood and disappearing into the night to meet old friends in old places.

I am torn between being a MOTHER and being myself and combining the two in a decent balance. I feel like I'm getting there...reaching for the surface...finding clarity through the ripples.

I feel alone a lot. But I know that's a joke. I know that the mothers at the playground must all be grappling with the same thing. I have to think that because it will drive me crazy if I don't.

The thing is, in thinking I forgot to read the manual I also forget that there is none. Some days I have the answers and some days I don't. Some days I feel motherly and invincible while other days I wonder who these people are why they're calling me "mom" and "wife".

My name is Amanda. And I'm both.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Show Must Go On

These last few days I've been feeling guilty for finding anything pleasurable. The after effects of Saturday still find themselves lingering in my head. How could it not? I live a stones throw away from the scene. I was reminded of it today as I was driving from the park with Jack, grievers and flowers lining the corner in my rear view. And though I can't stop thinking, though I wake up from nightmares of guns and empty arms, I realized today that I could only do one thing-

Live still.

I refuse to be allow the fear consume me, make me fear or doubt everybody's motives. Living well is the best revenge. Keeping the memories alive and holding Tucson tighter is what will help heal us.

So, I have given my moments of silence. I have cried, held in the anger, wondered why, prayed, hurt. I won't forget. But I also won't hold myself back. None of us should.

"I wanna see you be the one whose first light
Harbours in the new day
And see you settle into yourself
And never be afraid"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hate (and guns) Kills People

Saturday afternoon as I was cooking up the usual potatoes o' brien, I received a text of a disconcerting sort-

"Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head at Safeway on Ina and Oracle."

I stopped cooking, why bother, my appetite had instantly vanished. I went to my computer and looked for the news, for more information on how, why, this had happened, and in my backyard no less.

I learned that a young male, a male my age, had went up to Giffords and shot her in the head, point blank. I learned that after that he went on to fire rounds off at random people, killing several and among them a nine year old girl. A girl who had nothing to do with the hate in this mans heart. A girl who had probably anticipated many more Saturday afternoons. I learned the male was mentally unbalanced and had likely acted on hate fueled by the mouths of people in the press, in politics that toss it around so casually.

I never learned WHY something like this would happen. WHY somebody would act out in such a way that would force the life out of others in an act of pure hatred. WHY we've become a nation that uses violent banter as a means of communication. WHY we've allowed guns in our grocery stores while we tie up our dogs outside.

My mind is still spinning. Still trying to catch up with information while trying to solve the unanswered questions. Trying to fathom even though the act has been done, the funeral arrangements made, the IV's and prayers of broken hearted Tucsonans doing their best to make sure Giffords can one day see how much we care for her, need her.

I'm scared for humanity. That's all I keep coming back to. I'm scared of the hate that has consumed so many for so little purpose. Should we all be watching our backs? Checking for monsters under our beds in a country that says it's free?

We aren't free. Not as long as things like this happen. Not as long as hateful rhetoric continues to infect and damage. Not when other peoples freedoms are taken away in mere moments, in violence.

I'm not a religious person but I find myself praying, lighting candles, hoping. Hoping. Hoping...

For Giffords. For the lives lost Saturday afternoon. And for all of us.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Day 6- Chili con no carne

The cold weather has been inspiring me to make simple yet hearty meals. I want something that's going to stick to my insides. Something that makes me not want to turn on the heater and definitely make me curl up like a feline and drift off to a happy place of 30 Rock reruns and socks that can at least give the illusion of warming up my feet (seriously, nothing can keep them warm!). So today I got a craving for a bowl of chili...

The recipe I used was a variation of a variation of this one.

I used Earth Balance butter and Tofutti sour cream. I left out any cheese and used some Soyrizo to add some "meat" to it.

It's incredibly easy to make and absolutely hits the spot. Since Rebecca posted this recipe we've made the original dish countless times and it was fun to put a vegan spin on it!

This batch was actually a tad spicier than normal, I'm sure due the soyrizo, but it was still awesome!

Jack thought it was pretty good. He even brought his bowl to the counter after he was done and said "thank you momma!" I almost died.

And Greg...well...

There WAS chili in that bowl. However, it was quickly scooped up in some bread hovercraft. It was easy to load the dishwasher tonight.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Of Jacks and kings and queens

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
-Lewis Carroll

Lately Jack has been alien to me. He has been talking to us more in somewhat coherent mini-sentences. He asks for food and straps his shoes by himself, brushing my hand away in what I hope is not an omen into his future teens. He gets mad and frustrated in a way that speaks more to me now than a mere bought of irrational broken banana hysteria. He knows when he's being fucked over, when I'm being unavailable. And he knows how to push the right buttons to flip it instantly upside down. He sings songs in the car so loudly and so exactly on cue with whoever is singing it, it has become a road hazard due to an almost overwhelming desire to turn around and watch him and cry. At my boy. My boy. MY boy with his mouth wide open singing out, releasing an imaginary world that I can not see. Cannot fathom.

I try to imagine him as an 8 year old, a 17 year old, a 25 year old. I wonder what he'll wish for when he lays in bed at night. What his first girlfriend will write to him in teenage love notes. What he'll want to be when he grows up.

"He'll be a musician" I say, all the time. And why not? He's my son. The same bean that grew in me while I rattled the shell that separated us for nine months with songs from my headphones.

"Hello Jack. Your mother is feeling melancholy today. Here's a song to brighten up your day. Also, enjoy the coconut curry shrimp I'm sending your way in 15 minutes." I'd tell him. Hoping that my voice would find its way to him in between 60's pop songs and music from the 80's passed down from his grandmother and then, with a slight embarrassment, from me.

"He'll be an actor or a comedian" I say, with the adoration for the minuscule only a mother possesses. The tiniest charismatic smirk, the most expressive utterances of nonsense.

"Purple cats! Airplanes are in the sky! Those leaves are indeed brown and have holes! You're a genius! Can I have your autograph tattooed into my heart please?!"

How can somebody love somebody they've known forever but don't know at all?

I still haven't wrapped my head around parenthood. Every time I think I have I end up laughing at myself, shaking my head in embarrassment for thinking I knew everything all along. Thinking I know how he'll be tomorrow or next month or 25 years from now.

I know nothing and in a way I'm glad. He keeps me on my toes that way. Keeps me changing to catch up with him. Keeps me pondering what I really want out of life. Keeps my mind open and my heart pounding with purpose.

"Whatever he'll be, he'll be him which is the best thing to be anyway" I say.

It seems he keeps on teaching me as well...

*Yes, he has a mustache tattooed (temporarily) on his face. He's a gentleman of course!

Day 5- In Which I Sell My Soul For Chipotle

As I mentioned yesterday it is a frustrating thing to walk around in a world that caters mostly to omnivores, something I very much took for granted in my previous omnivore status. The world was my succulent oyster and I...a food pirate. Anyway, I wanted to prove to myself that I COULD have fast food vegan options and one better! I could have it in my favorite place of stomach pleasures ever- Chipotle*.
I've been a fan of Chipotle since I tried it about 5 years ago. I love the freshness. I love the taste. I love the fact that I've never even seen a Chipotle commercial on TV but know where just about every other Chipotle in Tucson is located and which employees screw you on the rice. After my first tattoo Greg and I got a couple of Chipotle's mammoth burritos and called it our first date so I think maybe I've associated it with comfort (it took my mind off my throbbing, freshly tattooed hip) and thus my addiction was born. Usually I would be asking some chick behind the counter for "a carnitas bowl and put some stank on it!" But wanting to uphold this challenge I did my research, found that most of the ingredients they use (save for the obvious meat and dairy) are vegan approved and hauled ass to the closest one. I thrust our debit card at the poor blonde behind the cashier and had to resist singing this. Clutching my bag of pure Nirvana I skipped to the car excited for what was to come...

And my friends, it was good. I liked it so much I considered putting a ring on it.

So, there you have it. Chipotle: Vegan tested, Amanda approved.

*This was obviously when I needed to re-color my hair.

To make it vegan at Chipotle I suggest-
Rice, black beans, fajitas mix, pico de gallo, lettuce and guacamole. I threw some Chipotle tabasco on it when I got home too after I ate about half it. Satisfied the very same way as my old carnitas bowl would have. Home sweet home.

*I was not sponsored by Chipotle for this post. But I wouldn't mind. You hear that Chipotle?! Hook a girl up!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Day 4- Changing the things I can, accepting the things I can't...

Today I had my first craving for my old habits. This was likely due to my leaving the house and being bombarded by about 500 restaurants and all the smells they tend to waft around them. Suddenly I wanted meat. I wanted meat and cheese and fatty, food coma inducing goodness. It's been relatively easy to go vegan at home. I rarely need to use butter for anything and can't figure out the last time I really used it. I haven't had a glass of milk in years due the fact that I'm almost lactose intolerant (I can have some cheese on things) so it wasn't like I was missing out on that. The lasagna I made the first day has lasted us through now as well, so it's not much of an issue inside the house (Greg is trying to go vegetarian with me in a gesture of solidarity and Jack, well, the kid would probably eat nothing but french fries (his main vice), "skettis" and apples if we let him, he JUST screamed at me for his third carrot in the last 15 minutes).
This is what I thought of when I deemed this a "challenge". I can't just go out and pick something up. I have to take everything into consideration. Is that cooked with butter/beef broth/milk/eggs/honey? Does it have any of that stuff in it? If I want anything I now have to look it up to find out more information about it.
Along with the recent more thorough label checking, I've started reading some of the books Colleen let me borrow. As expected this one is tickling my fancy. I'm such a comfort food fiend so I'm excited to try out some of the recipes.

So far, I feel good. Well, save for one thing but it's kind of an side effect of a good thing- I'm beat today! Why? My energy level has increased a lot. I think a large part of it is due to the more regular exercise. As a result I've been buzzing off of this increased energy until the early a.m. Something I haven't done since Amanda B.C. (Before Child) and something that I probably shouldn't do in Amanda A.C. ( get this I assume?) since said child wakes up everyday no later than 7. So I'm tired from being unable to get tired the night before. Not too shabby though.

Tonight I'm tucking into a long hot bath, some mango sorbetto and "An Education". And Friday I'll be making my first video appearance here.

As I mentioned in the comments section yesterday, here's Jack with a mustache tattoo-

This particular style is called "The Gunslinger" and we have quite a few more to ham it up with.

I also wanted to say "thank you" to everybody who has been so positive and offered up encouraging comments. It makes this much easier and worth it. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 3- The Veg-ina Monologues

Well, today has, so far, been a rather interesting day for my dare. Today I got to deal with what they call "the haters".

The thing is, I started this whole idea based off of my wanting to push myself out of the box, give myself constant fodder to write about. NOT start political arguments or lifestyle judgement. But it seems some things just can't be helped. When you open yourself up to comments you get them, good or bad.

Today I saw a couple FAMILY members come in and leave snide comments on a post on Facebook (oh Facebook, you little drama whore!). At first I accepted it as good ol' fashion familial ribbing.

"Hey! since a cow's diet is basically a Vegan, and I eat the cow, doesnt that qualify me as a Vegan? A big Juicy T-bone...yum"

I can accept that! I can even laugh at it because it's actually kind of clever! But when you get-

"see Amanda, I told you so, liberal vegans are all the same - I see you deleted my earlier comments and those of Adams - dont post stuff if you cant take the response - oh by the way happy new year to You, Jack and Greg - love you - "

The thing is I hadn't deleted any comments. I posted two pictures of my lasagna on Facebook. One on my wall and one as a note with the link to this blog. The leaver of the aforementioned comment simply mistook one (that Adam had commented on) for the other (that Adam HADN'T commented on) and assumed I deleted their comments. Simple enough, people make mistakes. I sent the wrong text out to somebody just the other day! But what I can't excuse is false, disrespectful blanket statements.

I replied with the basic gist of the last few sentences. It made me upset. Don't insult me and a large number of others just because you don't get it. Different strokes for different folks. I was upset at being challenged over something that I'm doing for fun and new perspective, and for what? Because you like meat? Eat your fucking steak! I DON'T CARE. I think most meat out there is crap pumped full of hormones and fed shit while living in just that, shit. But I've also been an omnivore for 22 years so it's not like I'm missing out on the glorious flavor of the flesh. I've had my share, believe me I've had my first, second and third share and it's time for something new. I'm doing this for me. Not to make others feel bad about their dietary choices (your body, your life, your business). Not to make some sweeping gesture. Just to do it. What's wrong with that?

Before the rant goes on longer, I'll cut it off there. I'm 3 days into this dare and I've already just felt a little bit of backlash so I can't imagine how it is for people who do this all the time. Frustrating. That's the only word I can come up with.


So far I feel great. I did the elliptical at the gym today for what it digitally told me was 4.5 miles. I thought I'd be hungry after these workouts but it seems to have an opposite effect. The endorphins are too busy tickling my brain for me to notice any sort of hunger. Today I had a cup of coffee (with soy milk, dairy is a no-no now!) this morning and contemplated eating some oatmeal just to say I ate some oatmeal because I just wasn't hungry! By 3:30 I felt a little rumble and I cooked up my one of my favorite comfort foods- potatoes o'brien! I'm so obsessed with this stuff.

Potatoes O' Brien con lots of ketchup. Or catsup if you're old school. Or "fancy ketchup"...if you eat it with your pinky extended and/or wear a top hat.

For dinner I'll likely have some of the left over lasagna, but I'm still not really hungry. I think the plant based proteins and fiber of vegetables are keeping me full longer. Drinking lots of water has helped too.

So far, so good. Colleen lent me a few cookbooks tonight so I'll be cooking up something new soon!

Here's a picture of Jack!

He rocks out 'til he knocks out.

30 Day Dare, Day 2: Let Them Eat Steak

Today was what we would call a speed bump. Only 2 days in?! But of course. Today I got to experience life as a vegan outside of my home.

We had dinner with the in-laws today and being that I started my challenge just yesterday I neglected to inform them of my spur of the moment new lifestyle. I didn't feel they should have to prepare an entire separate entrée for me when this is MY choice. I figured I'd wing it and nibble on the most obvious vegan pieces of food I could find. Except tonight we had pot roast. And so my friends...I slipped a bit. She separated the potatoes, carrots, onion and celery for me, but the fact remained- they had been cooked in beef broth.

I'm not to bummed about it. At first I was but it quickly went away because well, duh! I hadn't told them! And I still wasn't eating meat. So there was that. I had to confess, it just wouldn't be right otherwise.

But! We still have tons of my lasagna left over from last night to eat and I'll be cooking up my second recipe soon.

Sorry for the rather mundane post. I stayed up waaaay too late last night and have been a little off all day because of it.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Kids Might Be Alright

Today my youngest brother and his first real girlfriend broke up. Secretly my jaded old soul was kind of relieved. "They're teenagers," I said with the gruff tone of somebody who thinks she knows better. "They have so much life to live."

I seem to have lost touch with my heart for a moment. Forgotten or shellacked over holes in my plastic armor. I forgot what it feels like to hang up the phone, indefinitely.

It was the first time I felt like a big sister. There are seven years dividing the two of us. I was always doing my own thing as my brothers sort of grew up together in their own world of boyhood. A world more concerned with asserting their own prepubescent testosterone through the jumping off of roofs, the scraping of elbows and jokes that earned punishments instead of laughter. They knew nothing of my birth control or hidden life of secret parental deceiving . My perpetually locked door kept out any inquiries as to what it was like to be a seventeen-year old girl. My turned up speakers leaking out hormonal disenchantment and a heart too blue to be true from under the door acted as a translator for the alien tongues us boys vs. girls spoke. We had nothing in common but the name and blood we shared and the love that punctuated boughts of sibling torture. And before they evolved out of their baby fat I had already moved out.

When he posted heartsick status updates on Facebook tonight I felt a twinge of pain in so many different ways. I felt bad for him sure but I also felt guilty. I felt guilty for not being there enough. For not counseling him more through our parent's divorce because I was too busy running away from them and finding myself.

"But I was alone for everything," I try to justify.

But it isn't about enduring the pain alone that defines oneself is it? It's about what we do for others in THEIR pain, in their time of need.

And so, I ignored the part of myself that plays the wiser when I know I'm not. I'm just another human being. And I commiserated and listened. And I remembered the day I thought I'd never be happy again and all the songs and angry, hurt lashing out that followed. I spoke honestly and I hoped it helped.

I think kids of divorce perceive love differently. For my brother it was tragedy to see something fall apart because he wanted to be different than my parents, wanted to keep believing in love and holding on to it. For me, well, I'm still trying to work on not seeing every relationship as impending heartache, a broken home; restart at thirty-nine with little to nothing but mouths to feed and hearts to mend.

Cynic or believer, we had both had a broken heart. And now we had something in common.

I sent him a text before bed and I reminded him that life goes on. That experiences that he won't even be able to perceive yet will happen. That people are good. That yes, yes, you'll probably be depressed for awhile but one day you won't and things will be different. And that I loved him.

Even if he didn't love anybody, or feel loved, tonight.


Today my ipod got me through my workout (my ipod gets me through A LOT though, so I don't know if that's saying enough anymore) and I figured I'd post some of what pumps me up and keeps me going when I'd soooooo much rather be eating cheesecake.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

This playlist does not use nor condone the usage of steroids.
Any physical injury sustained by listening to said playlist is that of the listeners responsibility.
Stretch after listening to playlist because, really? Owww....

Day 1- Because You Can Can CAN!

Well, Day 1 "Operation Go Vegan" seems to have been a success. Since this phase is the "Vegan For Dummies" stage, I chose something familiar.

But before I post the results I wanted to talk about the process of getting there.

We made a detailed list for the store and I walked into it feeling pretty fearless...until I got to the bakery. Here's the thing, I LOVE CAKE. I like the smell of cake, I like the taste and texture of cake, I even like that on the anniversary of your birth you GET a cake all gussied up in fire! That's delicious AND badass! What I didn't realize was that by going vegan, cake was out of the picture. Kind of. Store bought cake and pastries are now a thing of the past for this challenge. Why, you may be wondering? Eggs. Those tricky little freaking eggs (and butter!). "The Incredible Edible Egg"? No! How about "The Tricky Little Ninja Asshole Who's Keeping Me From Sweet Cake-y Nirvana"! I texted Colleen, baffled that she hadn't had regular cake in I don't know how long, and begged for answers.

"What do you do for baked goods?! Everything has eggs and butter! Do you just bake your own?" And a part of me feared the answer because I secretly knew it and didn't want to admit the truth but then-
"Yep! I recommend "The Joy of Vegan Baking" or Lovin' Spoonfuls* or Epic has some stuff."

So, I accepted the fact that cake and I would be taking a break, getting our space, if you will. And I moved on. Throughout the store I stared at a lot of food I realized I would have to turn down and I felt the challenge of my decision. "How do full on vegans do this?!" I thought, wandering the aisles lit with different perspective now. It takes some real creativity and care and for that I take my hat off to you vegans out there who do it for more than just a challenge, but for the planet, for animals and ethics or simply for yourselves.

When we got home I pulled out my recipe, turned on my ipod and got to my business. It took about a half hour to prep and a half hour to bake and...

The Eagle hath landed.

My Review (from a usual omnivore)- Went well! The tofu concoction simulated ricotta very closely. I never knew tofu could be so legit! I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, a tablespoon of oregano and an extra clove of garlic but I felt it could maybe use a bit more oomph (I'll add mushrooms, maybe some squash, etc next time) but there was nothing really wrong with it.

Verdict from (the usual carnivore) Husband-

Once he high fived me from across the table the previous feelings of maybe missing my old comfort foods dissolved. I had made my first vegan lasagna, hell, my first lasagna period, and it had satisfied and impressed the person who is most honest (and skeptical) with opinions. I kept my cool though, and smiled and put away our left overs and did the dishes. "Beginners luck maybe," I said as he settled into a post-dinner lounge. Little did he know I was shaking my ass all over the kitchen in a haphazard victory dance.

First post of 2011, first day of the "30 Day Dare"

Happy New Year to you all. I hope it was an eventful night for everyone whether that means cuddling with your family or getting gussied up and taking on the town. I fell asleep at 11 because I'm a big ol' baby who loves sleep too much. Seriously, Dreamland is the only place where I can own baby tigers, get down with Don Draper and go to the bathroom without somebody bothering me. In Dreamland, all things are possible...

I'm sorry, I spaced out.

Anyway! I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed and hit the gym where I ran 2.5 miles. Not too shabby considering I haven't really ran since shortly after Jack was born (I would jog here and there as soon as I could after the c-section) and if my P.E. teacher were giving me marks for my last two years of physical activities she would have said something like- "D+. Your toddler really isn't your personal trainer." And I would have ditched class and smoked cigarettes with dudes in Che shirts behind the school. If we're being real here. I guess what I'm trying to say here in my endorphin laden haze is I'm feeling good and ready to start my first "30 Day Dare" (I guess that's what I'm going to call it).

This month I'll be going vegan.

I think I'm going to do it in increments. The first week of the challenge is what I'll be calling Veganism for Dummies. This will include simple foods and ways to prepare them so it isn't such a shock. And week by week I'll be upping the ante and getting more creative.

We're going to the store today (if it's open, I picked the worst day to start it seems with these holiday hours) and will be stocking up. I'll be back here with my first meal and a video hopefully.

I'm going to add some guest appearances and recipes from my friend Colleen who is for all intents and purposes my Obi-Wan Kenobi on this journey.

Colleen and I. This drink- totally vegan! Pardon my lack of makeup.

Ready or not, here I come...