Update

So, hi. Been a while. My bad.

2013 was just a weird year, and I’m fine that it is over. Among other things, my job situation changed – again – because apparently it is against some cosmic order that I be in the same career situation for longer than 9 months. What’s the deal with that, life.

And I started graduate school and am a little less than halfway through my Masters of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy at BU.

Oh yeah, that.

I had a lot of very deep fears about grad school. That I would hate it. That I would remember how soul-crushing academia can be. That I would start wondering why I ever thought I was interested in food. Basically I was terrified that I was making a huge mistake.

I wasn’t.

Grad school is kind of awesome. Don’t get me wrong, between working full-time and taking 2 classes at once I have no life. I go to work, go to class or go home and read/write for class, and sleep happens somewhere in between. I’m the only one of my undergrad friend group working while going to school and living at home, which feels very isolating sometimes and can suck.

But from the first day of class, I felt like I was finally home.

I’ve found my people. All of a sudden, I’m not the only one who doesn’t mind debating the pros and cons of industrial agriculture or discussing the cultural implications of white vs. wheat bread for three hours at a time. I leave class at 9 o’clock at night with more energy than I started the day with, buzzing from that deep intellectual engagement we introverts love oh so much.

Frankly, grad school has been a relief. It’s an outlet for all my ideas and general [loveable] geekiness about food, an outlet I never realized I needed quite so badly.

Of course, it’s also terrifying in a completely different way. Visions of PhD and other Masters programs dance in my head, and I’ve been opened up to so many other fields that intersect with food that I’m basically back to square one with the whole career question. Although, let’s be honest, I’m not sure I ever made it to square two.

But…between the crush of work and school, my right brain is screaming for attention. Little by little the writer’s voice in my head (all writers are schizo, dontchaknow) has gotten louder, reminding me that I need an outlet for my creativity too. I also just miss writing to write. Academic writing is nice in its own way, and I’ve enjoyed getting back in to it (even with the stress that inevitably comes with it), but it’s not the same and I’ve started to feel like I’m losing my “voice.” (Blame my inner former musician…the less you practice, the more quickly you lose the muscle memory!)

So sorry if I’m rambling. But I thought it was high-time for an update, and a tentative recommitment to getting back to updating, at least more often than once a year! For my own sanity, if nothing else.

This semester is racing to an end, and the final papers and projects starting to loom – but I have some fun pictures from my trips to South Africa and Prague last year to share, and maybe a post or two about the nerdy goodness that is being in a food studies grad program.

And can everyone just do me a favor and do an anti-snow dance for Massachusetts? Because I’m pretty sure we’re all over this winter nonsense. Thanks.

What do you MEAN more snow?

What do you MEAN more snow?

Update

Alright, here’s the deal.

Since I last updated, a few things have happened. I would say I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, but we all know that’s not happening, so why pretend.

1. I turned 23. Not super exciting, actually was freakishly similar to turning 22 (spent the weekend alone with the dog, made my own cake, generally basked in the glow of quiet and frosting and wine).

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2. I have 2 part-time jobs at 2 non-profits. I think I mentioned that, so really I’m just saying…I still have them. They’re both kind of fake full-time jobs in that I pack about 40 hours worth of work into 20, which translates into a Saturday that is 90% sleep. And while they are both really great jobs, it gets a little difficult after a while to not feel like a part-time human being. I’ve also decided I consider my job too much a part of my identity. Not really sure how to fix that yet.

3. I applied to grad school for food studies.

4. I got into grad school.

5. I officially enrolled at Boston University and will begin my MLA in Gastronomy (Food Policy concentration) program this fall. I’ll be a part-time student, because I’m trying this new thing where I don’t get myself into 7 different jobs at one time. It’s a whole new world.

Preach.

Aside: Grad school applications were not hard and it was one of the most anticlimactic things ever. I got an email on a Friday afternoon on the train home telling me I got in, I said “oh good, so I can start planning my fall now,” signed some papers and that was it. I think this means I’m an adult. Or something like it.

6. I went back to Florence with my brother for Christmas. We ate all the gelato. I had a few panic attacks. Not necessarily in that order.

me & the bro in san gimfirenze IMG_0457

7. The Boston Marathon happened. And then the Friday lockdown happened. So that was deep-down-in-your-soul terrifying. But it also showed how wonderful, strong and generally badass the city of Boston is, and that was pretty great wicked awesome.

8. I just went to NYC for work and remembered why I so, so, so dislike it. But I ate amazing things like morel vinaigrette and roasted radishes and porgy (the fish), so that made up for it. Also spent most of it talking about the amazing organization I work for, so it was mostly a plus.

fresh mozz at EatalyIMG_0600

9. I’m going to South Africa in a week to visit one of my best friends who is there for Peace Corps. Because I don’t pay rent and I’m 23 and I can! Also so that I can start planting seeds about how awesome Boston is and all the reasons she should move there post-PC. True story.

Is this post a little disjointed? Probably. My brain doesn’t have much capacity left to fit in anything else. Thus the blogging hiatus. I’d like to say that’s going to change, but it’s not. I’m not shutting the blog down or anything, but I’m not going to be updating with any kind of frequency or regularity. Just FYI.

Here. Have some gratuitous pictures of Florence.

So.

Hi.

The last time I updated, if memory serves, I was about to go to Seattle for a food conference, I had no job and was getting towards the end of an internship.

A few things have changed.

The conference was great. But it was also one of the most fatiguing experiences I’ve had in recent memory. It was 3 days of relatively non-stop talking/running around like a crazy/losing my phone every 5 minutes/eating. It was awesome, and very educational, but OH.MY.GOD. I got to the end of the second day and literally just sat on the bathroom floor crying for five minutes for absolutely no reason other than overwhelmed-ness. Worth it, though. And I heard Ruth Reichl speak, which was very cool. Gotta love her. (You can watch a clip of her keynote speech here if you are so moved! You might need to have Facebook, fyi.) And then I got on the plane and died. Well, almost – I had a raging feve rthat caused me to shake/shiver violently for the entire 6-hour cross-country flight, at the end of which my body was in an agony I have never felt before and hope never to feel again. I have no earthly idea how I drove home and kept myself in one piece. Then I slept. And promptly woke up with a severe allergic reaction to I don’t even know what that caused the right back side of my neck to swell up like an egg.

Yeah, I was looking GOOD that week.

On the bright side, I also came home to a job. The Dedham School of Music, a local non-profit to which I have several different connections, was in desperate need of an organized office person and I was all, you know, there and stuff. It’s part-time and my responsibilities run from the newsletter and social media to grant writing, and it’s just me and the Executive Director so it’s a nice environment and a great cause. Yay music!

And then my internship ended. And then I got another part-time job with Chefs Collaborative, the organization I started working with as an intern last year and with whom I went to Seattle (it was their conference). I am also the organized office person there, and do much of the same activities as my other job but for an organization that speaks far more to my interests – yay food!

It’s a pretty good set-up. Quite frankly, it’s just so nice to be paid for working I have really no complaints. Not exactly a long-term fix, but I don’t really think at 23 I necessarily want to be in the job I’ll have forever. Maybe that sounds dumb. I don’t know.

I’m also in the process of applying for graduate school. (This program. Fingers crossed, please.) I’ll ramble more about that later.

The election is over. No more ads. MA has an awesome new senator. It’s all good. (Boo on Prop 37. California, that was a fail.)

OH. AND I’M GOING TO FLORENCE AFTER CHRISTMAS. IT’S KIND OF A BIG DEAL. IMSOEXCITEDAAAAAAAAAH.

There’s that.

As usual, I have a lot of thoughts to share about all of these developments. But since we’re all just barely resurfacing from our Thanksgiving food comas, I won’t delve into them all now. Instead, look at this adorable puppy picture.

That’s all.

Dream

Since I’ve come home, I’ve been having intensely vivid dreams every night. I’m prone to these dreams anyway, but I don’t usually have them so frequently or regularly, and they’re really getting old. I wake up completely disoriented and more tired than one should be after solid sleep. And sometimes they really screw with my head.

One of the more common ones I’ve been having involve time. I dream that I’ve woken up too early and tell myself to go back to sleep, or I dream that I wake up and start my day – and it’s so real that I don’t realize it’s a dream. It’s just not comfortable.

My mother made an off-handed comment that finally made these make sense: “You must be worried about time.”

Well, that’s a duh. I’m going to Seattle on Friday, have grad school applications to prep, letters to write, jobs to find, and it basically all revolves around time. Or perhaps a perceived lack thereof. The job stuff especially, because I feel like it has to be handled so delicately.

(I’m going to Seattle for the 2012 Chefs Collaborative Sustainable Food Summit. Ruth Reichl is the keynote speaker. Amazing chefs will be there. I’m running registration. It’s gonna be awesome. Follow me & the Collab on twitter – we’ll be doing lots of live tweeting! #natlsum12)

Oh yeah, and I’ve decided grad school is happening. More to be discussed about that later.

I think one of the greatest obstacles I’ve had to acknowledge and deal with is the two very contradictory messages I’ve been getting about careers.

On the one hand, people tell me “you’re young with your whole life ahead of you – stop worrying about finding the right job and just focus on getting one!”. And then there is this whole other camp – the YOLOs – preaching the whole “life is short, live your dream, don’t settle, <insert inspirational cliche here>.” Basically, pick something because you can always change your mind…but remember what you do now defines what you will do for the rest of your life, so don’t make the wrong decision. Live in the moment…oh, but remember that the next moment will be an aftereffect of this one so try not to screw it up. Keep calm & carry on…but if you don’t focus on what you want right now you’ll really regret it later.

It’s taken me a while to articulate that, but those two forces are pretty strong in our culture, and I’ve been getting two earfuls of both of them. And the funny thing is, neither camp seems to be aware of the other. Yet combined, they’ve left me feeling confused, disoriented, and really really really overwhelmed.

After a year of interning and doing everything from grant-writing to chive-chopping, I hoped I would have a clearer idea of a career goal or at the very least, a clearer idea of what I want to do next. And other than the conclusion that it’s time to go to grad school, I feel less clear than ever about what I want to do, in no small part because I’m overwhelmed with options. (In fact I recently bought this book at a commenter’s recommendation; I haven’t gotten far enough into yet but I’m hoping it helps, even if only a little – I’m sure I will review it soon!)

I have so many interests and ideas and passions (although I’m getting sick to death of using that word), and that makes me feel a little bit like a phony. Like I can’t be fully committed to one thing when I love another just or almost as much. I guess it’s especially hard for me to accept this, because I so strongly prefer to focus on one thing at a time – that said, this is coming from someone who apparently can’t help but hold at least 2 jobs at once (and usually more like 4), and those jobs themselves involve simultaneously balancing different projects. But when I write cover letters to all these different organizations and companies for so many different positions, I feel like they will just look at me and think, what a liar. She’s totally more interested in doing something else.  I know I would excel at any of the jobs I apply to, because I’m an overachieving perfectionist with a pathological need to please others before myself. I just feel like I’m running out of different ways of trying to communicate that. [Seriously, people. You have no idea what you're missing by not hiring me.]

I was really hoping that this year would excite and energize me, make me look forward to all the options ahead, help me find a dream. But it didn’t. I’m exhausted, and the only dreams I have are screwy and disorienting. I do not regret what I’ve done this year for a second; I know I needed to a) not be in school for the first time in 20 years and b) see what the professional world is like and get some actual experience in it. It just didn’t result in what I hoped it would. [Yeah yeah, welcome to life, blah blah blah.]

I don’t know which side is right. Maybe neither. Maybe both. I can’t be the only person feeling the pressure of both. I will figure this out on my own, in my own time, for no other reason than because I have to. This post has no other point than to say “guys. this is dumb.” So thanks for listening.

And at least now that I’ve figured it out, maybe the dreams will stop. Or, you know, I just cleared up brain space for my dreams to focus on my irrational fear of rejection. Super.


The California Experiment

Let me start at the end. I’m not in California anymore. I moved back home to Massachusetts at the beginning of August after a very long, confusing, and painful month of July. I’m finally able (I think) to write about the whole experience and why I left, so here goes.

My decision to go to California was based on a lot of different things. For one, I’ve been hearing for quite some time from many different people how much I would like the West Coast. My dad is from NorCal, but most of my time spent there was before the age of 12 (it gets expensive to fly a family of 4 across the country more than every couple of years!) and my memories of it were scattered and few, making it a new place to explore. After living Italy – and moving back here – I found I was craving that sense of adventure, of exploring another culture, and that prospect was very exciting to me.  It’s also the birthplace of the sustainable food movement in America, so it seemed like a good place for me to continue my whole good-food-career journey. When I got the internship with MESA, it seemed like the right choice, or at least one of many right choices I could make: it would give me greater depth of knowledge about the agriculture side of sustainable food, I could build an organization’s social media strategy from the ground up, and it was in Berkeley. Visions of Chez Panisse danced in my head.

I didn’t go there with it in mind to “recreate” my experience in Florence, but I think to an extent I expected some similarities between the 2 here and there, not the least of which being the enjoyment of a little independence. Ok, ok, and really good food. (And by good, I mean local & sustainably-raised. Delicious is redundant.)

I went to Florence to heal, to get away, and ended up finding myself. I came to California hoping to find more of myself, and ended up getting more lost than ever.

I spent the month leading up to my move mentally preparing myself for the transition, something I’ve trained my introverted & highly-sensitive brain to do in such circumstances. I prepared to learn a new public transportation system, to find some kind of job, to learn as much as possible about the non-profit I was interning with, and to search for a little more clarity regarding my career path.

What I didn’t prepare for – the horridly uncomfortable living situation, the stress of managing 2 internships in one of the most expensive areas of the country, the fact that I had to do everything completely and fully alone – caught me off my guard.

But I have learned a great deal, and it has made the experience worth it.

  • I process things at a ridiculously slow rate. It’s annoying, but it’s also not changing, so I better learn to accept it and deal.

I’m pretty sure this is something everyone does, but I only just became cognizant of how incredibly slow I am with sorting out my feelings and thoughts about, er, most things. We’re talking months. And it’s a real bitch. It often means not taking chances and thinking a LOT before doing, and possibly missing some great opportunities in the process. But now that I’m aware of it, I can give myself the necessary time to deal with things. I’m sure there are people who disapprove, but this is important for my sanity, so I really don’t care.

  • Your gut is right. If you don’t love it or it’s not right, move on. Doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is.

I experienced some pretty intense culture shock, which is not something I’ve really ever come up against. And this was perplexing for many reasons, including 1) I’ve traveled to 9 different countries (and all over this one) and have never really felt culture shock before and 2) I did NOT think it would happen when I’m still in my own country, but it does and it did. And when the culture shock receded and I started learning more about the culture itself, I experienced something else completely new: I did not fit. I felt like a puzzle piece that was being shoved into the wrong part of the puzzle, and this was a very interesting feeling. There is plenty about Italy (and Florence) I could have done without, but it felt like home from day 1. Same happened with my college in South Carolina. They weren’t perfect, but I always felt more or less at home. But the entire 4 months I was in California it just felt…wrong. I don’t really know why. It’s a lovely place to live. The people are very nice. It just wasn’t the right place. And when you’re getting paid next to nothing and living in other people’s subletted living room, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to stay there.

  • I FINALLY understand why people don’t leave their hometowns.

This might make me sound like an asshole, but I swear I don’t intend this to sound condescending: I never really understood why so many people never leave the area where they grew up. And part of this is the fact that both of my parents did leave – my dad is from California and my mom is from Georgia – so I kind of grew up thinking they were the norm, and then I found out they were NOT, and I was kind of…confused. (Until second grade I also thought it was the norm for everyone’s mom to have 2 sisters and everyone’s dad to have 2 brothers like my parents, so I probably should have put 2 and 2 together a little sooner. Like I said…slow to process.) But when I went off to college, I was very specific about wanting to try living in a different part of the country. And I thought of studying abroad as a kind of requirement. I’m very pro-try new things/live in new places. And then I moved to a place where I really didn’t feel like I could identify with the culture, where I felt completely out of place, and I got it. Feeling like that, like a permanent foreigner, is HARD. Building a new network, a new friend group, a new life in a place that you don’t completely get, especially if you have to do it alone? It’s a unique kind of hell, and I do not blame anyone for avoiding it. It sucks. Really, I think I understand how important “place” is; even if I don’t stay in Boston, I do know that where I end up will have to be somewhere I can comfortably and confidently call “home.” It seems I just wasn’t Berkeley enough.


What it’s really come down to is that I simply can’t handle living my life on a temporary, month-by-month basis anymore. And maybe I should be able to. Maybe some think I should suck it up and accept this stage of my life, but I disagree and in this particular case, my opinion is the only one that matters. For the last five damn years I haven’t stayed in the same place for longer than 6 months. A very significant chapter of my life closed when I graduated college, and I was completely unprepared for the emotional side effects of that transition. Seriously, NO ONE told me that it was like dealing with a death. It is. It has taken me a full year to come to terms with that.

I am finishing my internship with WiserEarth virtually. At the moment I’m looking at all my options, including AmeriCorps, Teach For America, teaching English abroad, and of course, grad school. I am trying (but mostly failing) to be optimistic, but the ugly truth is I don’t know what I want to do. I may love food, but the movement behind it doesn’t seem to love me back, and I feel like it’s time to go back to the drawing board. I really, really hate being 22.

Instead of leaving it on that note, I’ll leave it on a better one. Frank is so much nicer to listen to.

Carrot-Ginger Popsicles

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There is something exceptionally soul-satisfying when a recipe you make up turns out as good as you think it will. This, friends, is one of those recipes.

Full disclosure: it’s not technically my recipe – the ingredients & directions come courtesy of this April’s Bon Appetit – but the idea? THAT’S all mine. That, and as usual, I “doctored” the recipe as made necessary by what was in my fridge and my own screw-up ingenuity.

I realize these may sound a little crunchy-granola-meets-overly-enthused-food-snob BUT I promise you that they are delicious, worth it, and really, really easy. Like, make-them-with-your-kids easy.

The base of this recipe is actually from this restaurant, and it’s served as a drink straight up. I learned to love carrot juice when I lived in Florence (where else?), where I became mildly obsessed with mixing a carrot-orange-lemon juice with sparkling water. I’ve yet to see that mixture in the States (at least bottled commercially), but this recipe comes pretty darn close and has the brilliant addition of ginger – the spiciness combined with the sweet carrots & tart citrus is definitely thirst-quenching.

The minute I saw this, I thought one thing and one thing only: epic. popsicles. And they are.

IMG_4704You can use popsicle molds – I bought those for 4 bucks at Bed Bath & Beyond – or you can pour them into ice cube trays or muffin tins/cups to use in cocktails and/or smoothies.

 

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You’ll need:

  • small saucepan
  • fine sieve (if you have it – I didn’t)
  • small-medium pitcher – something you can mix in & easily pour out of
  • popsicle molds/ice cube tray/muffin tin or liners
  • 1/3 c. raw sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 c. carrot juice (I bought bottled, but if you want to go the extra mile and make fresh, more power to you!)
  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice*

*The original recipe calls for half a cup. I only had half a lime and half a lemon in my fridge which combined got me to 1/4 cup, but I found the results plenty citrusy. Your call.

In the saucepan, bring the sugar + ginger + 1/3. c water to a boil. Remove from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes to steep.

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(I accidentally used 1/2 c. water so I think mine ended up a little less concentrated than desirable. Oh well.)

While you’re waiting, you can juice your limes. As I mentioned, I also used lemon because I didn’t have enough lime juice, and I really liked the outcome! Mix in your 1 c. (8 oz) of carrot juice.

If you have a sieve, you can use it to strain the ginger syrup into the carrot + citrus mixture. I did not, so I went old school and just poured it straight from the pot, using my spoon to keep out the ginger.

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Give it a stir and fill your popsicle molds.

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I had some left over, so I used my silicon muffin liners to make ice cubes to throw into smoothies or mocktails.

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Freeze & eat, preferably on a warm summer evening on a porch somewhere.

Now, about that ginger…

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I promise it’s not mango!

You can, if you wish, throw it in the trash compost. BUT, I’m not really a fan of tossing out perfectly usable/edible food. You can eat them plain – they’re a little sweet from the sugar, a little tough, and a lot spicy, but it’s a fabulous post-meal-chew (ginger is a great digestion aid). Or you could do what I did – throw them into some banana-oat muffins or other baked good for an extra kick. I used this recipe and just added them in like you would chocolate chips, dried fruit, etc. I imagine it would also work in oatmeal/hot cereal, especially overnight (it will still be relatively tough/fibrous, so if you’re extra sensitive to textures, that might be a good option to let it soften). Or come up with a brilliant idea of your own – and then tell me about it. Of course.\

CHEERS!

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For The Record

Something has been bothering me lately.

Well, a lot of things have been bothering me, but in this particular moment I’m thinking of my posts on the book I lovingly refer to as my personality bible, Quiet. It is Susan Cain’s defense of the introvert – what it means to be introverted, and all the advantages and disadvantages related thereunto. I really cannot shut up about it – the irony of which is not lost on me – but I still don’t feel that either of my attempts at explaining why it had such an impact on me really got to the core of it, or even got people interested in the topic (although feel free to chime in if you disagree Smile).

Today as I was waking up with my chai tea and toast, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed for some interesting reads to get my brain going. And when my eye caught the headline, “APA Gains Sanity: Introverts Not Nuts,” well, you KNOW I was all over that.

Apparently, last year the American Psychological Association (APA) was thinking about including introversion in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual; the 5 refers to the latest iteration),  the bible of psychological issues – the ultimate reference for medical practitioners. Basically, it’s a big ass book of symptoms and factors to aid a medical practitioner in diagnosing a patient. And they wanted to put introversion in it as a contributing factor for diagnosing mental disorders.

This is a perfect example of why Cain’s book got me so fired up about my introversion. It is this kind of institutionalized bias against introverts that makes me want to put my head through a wall.

I was (still am) a quiet kid. I took books to parties. I hated group work in school. I loved spending hours alone in my room playing with my Barbies. These things made me happy. But the older I got, the guiltier I felt about my instinctive need for solitude. In a culture that praises and rewards (in many different ways) social interaction and with 2 more-or-less extraverted parents, I was picking up on all kinds of signals indicating that my hatred of parties and highly social activities was bad and wrong. So I “pushed” myself to be social. I assumed this was healthy, that my need for alone time was some neurological defect that could be cured with a healthy dose of socializing; in hindsight, I think this mindset is strikingly similar to and just as absurdly stupid as the idea that homosexuality can be “cured.”

Eventually, I pushed myself too far. Going into my junior year of college, I signed up to be an Orientation Leader (OL) for the new class of freshwomen at my school. This meant showing up two weeks before regular classes started to decorate campus and, well, orient the new students to their new home and lifestyle. It’s a crazy and overwhelming time, and I thought I’d be pretty good at it. What the job description didn’t note was that all OLs got up at 7 and went to bed at midnight every single day for those entire two weeks – with not much more than 30 minutes of break time during the day. Orientation and the prep for it involves intensive and constant group work, and being as outgoing and friendly as possible all the while. And there was not a single day of rest between end of orientation and the first day of classes.

All of a sudden, I stopped sleeping. Just…stopped. It was like I couldn’t turn my brain off. I began to doubt everything about myself. I cried for no reason. I distanced myself from all of my friends and acted like an irrational bitch, half because I wanted to keep them away from me, half because I didn’t really think anyone liked me anyway. All I wanted to do was curl up into a ball and disappear. It felt like I was losing my mind.

It took me a long time to work through that period of my life. Honestly, it will always be something I have to deal with, just at a lesser degree. And I’m not saying that the single solitary reason for that “snap” was because I pushed myself too far away from my introverted self -  there were plenty of other factors building up to that breakdown – but it was most certainly and without a doubt the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It was with that memory in particular behind me and with all of those other memories in general of feeling like I was somehow not good enough as long as I was introverted that I read Quiet. All of a sudden, here was this woman telling me it is perfectly fine to honor who I am, and not constantly try to “improve” myself by being more extroverted. She wrote example after example of situations where introverts are more or less screwed over, and I could as well have written them myself. It was a bit of a “come to Jesus”-type moment, reading that book, and it completely and totally changed the way that I see and listen to myself.

And so now, when I see things like major medical institutions making the term “introvert” an official symptom of some serious mental disorder, I think of the girl who sat in her closet crying uncontrollably because she tried so hard to be the outgoing picture-perfect person it seemed the world wanted her to be and failed. I think of a child Cain mentioned in her book whose parents took home from one psychologist to another, trying to figure out what was “wrong” with him that he would prefer reading to playing at recess. And I wring my hands, because there is so much damage to be done when you tell half the population – that’s about 3.5 billion people – that there is something neurologically defective in them.

On the bright side, the APA ultimately decided against using the term “introvert.” But  the current proposal for the DSM update now includes “detachment,” under schizotypal personality disorder:

[Detachment] involves withdrawal from other people and from social interactions.” It defines withdrawal as “preference for being alone to being with others; reticence in social situations; avoidance of social contacts and activity; lack of initiation of social contact.”

Source (article mentioned above)

 

Introverts can be schizophrenic, depressed, and disordered the same as an extrovert can – I’m not saying we’re superhuman. My issue here is with the world preference. I have to use what Dr. Laurie Helgoe said here, because I think she says it best:

It’s important to remember that nothing is diagnosable unless it causes impairment in functioning and/or significant distress for the individual. That said, it seems odd to me that a “preference” for being alone would be considered problematic. To me, preference implies engagement and interest rather than avoidance or incapacity. I do think there are levels of detachment that are indicative of mental health problems, such as a schizoid adjustment in which a person plays out relationships in fantasy rather than incorporating input from others, but there’s a diagnosis for that.

Furthermore, “introverted personality” and “introverted disorder of childhood” are listed in the World Health Organization’s manual, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. This is truly upsetting to me, and I don’t think my feelings are unjustified.

I realize I can (and have) blather on about this topic, but I hope I’ve explained why it’s so important to me and everyone else who was similarly moved by Cain’s book. So, for the record, I just wanted to say that there is nothing wrong with us introverts, and to hell with the psychologist (or other human, for that matter) who thinks otherwise.

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A Few of My Favorite Things II

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. I think that above quote sums up most of it quite nicely. There has been a lot of questioning, and a fair amount of crying.

When these moods happen upon me, which they do more often than I’d like, I tend to turn my focus to the things that make me happiest. Things like…

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Ice cream cones.

There’s just something about the cone experience, I tell ya – cups just don’t do the trick.

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Summer in a glass.

I bought a mini blender for 15 bucks and use it almost every day. This creation was particularly excellent.

Blend: one small fresh nectarine, about half a frozen banana (~60 g), a handful of chopped frozen mango (70g), and 5 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Sip in the sun with a magazine.

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Highly entertaining Stop signs.

delicious dinners

Really delicious, seasonal-vegetable-focused dinners.

Apparently my cooking skills improve ten-fold when I’m having a tougher go of it. My dinners this week were BOMB.

Recipes for dishes from left to right:

1. Sautee 1/4-1/2 chopped onion in oil. Add in greens (I used kale + spinach) and a teaspoon of tamari. Top with half of a mashed avocado and protein of your choice. Eat with chopsticks!

2. Brown some garlic in a small amount of cooking oil in a pan. Add in sliced summer squash and fresh tomato and stir fry until the squash is slightly translucent. Add baby shrimp and some chopped fresh basil; stir til heated through. Serve with more fresh basil, mashed avocado, and a healthy squeeze of lemon. A fresh baguette with good olive oil is highly encouraged.

3. Heat garlic and cooking oil in a pan; add veggies and some black beans and cook til the beans soften and make the mix a little creamy. Add a dash of soy sauce and a little lemon juice. Top with fresh herbs (basil!) and parmesan cheese, and drizzle with some good olive oil. This one was my favorite, I think!

And…

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The creation of a new recipe, all (well, mostly) by myself. Stay tuned for this one – it’s definitely cookbook-worthy!

What things get you through a bad day?

9 Ways Twentysomethings Actually Aren’t Screwing Up Their Lives

I’m a big fan of The Huffington Post. When I need to know what is going on in any of the world’s myriad fields of interest, it rarely (if ever) lets me down. Plus, it’s usually witty, to-the-point, and more or less well-written.

So when I came upon this article, “9 Ways Twentysomethings Screw Up Their Lives,” I was intrigued.

And after I read it, I was just offended.

I’m sure there are plenty of my fellow comrades-in-age who commit the “sins” the author accuses us all of. And I doubt even less that many of the things she described doesn’t reflect how some members of older generations view us. But the 9 things Dr. Jay listed in no way applied to me or any of my friends – and I have the Facebook comments to back that up.

It got me fired up enough to decide it deserved a post. So let’s take her points one by one, shall we?

1. “Spending all your time with your urban tribe–you’re not at Burning Man!”

Twentysomethings are in almost constant communication with the same few people, but those who huddle together with like-minded peers limit themselves…Twentysomethings who won’t ask outsiders for advice and favors and invitations fall behind those who will.

Apparently, we wake up, check our iPhones, and sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the exact same four people who share our exact same views on everything from politics to shoes.

First of all, we are NOT the only ones living in a blur of “constant communication.” The number of job descriptions alone I’ve read that require the applicant to be “on” at all times is proof of that. The constant connectivity is how our society functions right now – and we can go into a long, philosophical discussion of the effect that has on society if you want, but don’t try to tell me it’s all the fault of those twenty-nine and under. And SECOND of all, my friends and I do NOT share the same opinions. Perhaps we share a few political views, and I like getting their opinion on my new dress. But in college I lived with an anti-war, almost-vegetarian music therapist, a violent-movie-loving chemistry major whose diet mainly consists of ham, tuna, and most other forms of meat, and a political science major who wore makeup almost every day and had more shoes than the other three of us combined. These are my best friends. We don’t talk every day now that we are in different parts of the world, but we’re in touch. I love them – especially because we’re all so different.

I don’t disagree with her – I know from experience that new opportunities come from reaching out to your entire network. What I disagree with is the accusation that I don’t do that. That’s just a DUH.

2. “Hoping that Powerball ticket will make your dreams come true.”

“What would I do with my life if I won the lottery?” is about what you would do with your life if money and talent didn’t matter. They do. The question twentysomethings really need to ask themselves is…What do you do well enough to support the life you want and what do you enjoy enough that you won’t mind working at it, in some form or another, for decades to come? 

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Most of the twentysomethings I know are college grads. College is generally a time spent figuring out where your talents and interests meet, and how to make them matter. For four years, we focus on our talents and how we can make money with them. And my generation graduated into an economy that was all but jobless. The ONLY THING we heard our senior years was how to turn path X into career Y. I don’t know anyone who was pinning their life on a lucky number. That’s really just offensive.

3. Stalking on Facebook (and then sulking at home)

Facebook’s most frequent visitors often use it for social surveillance, as a way of checking up on people rather than as a way of catching up. Social spying bombards us with upward social comparisons, ones where our nights sitting on the couch with a Lean Cuisine watching TV–and surfing Facebook–feel low compared to the high life it seems everyone else is leading (at least in the photos). See Facebook pages for what they are, as one of my clients calls them: “self-advertisements.” You have to be aware of what you’re seeing–and what you’re not seeing–or else you’ll never get off the couch and face the real world.

We all use Facebook for, ahem, research. It’s true – it’s more conducive to this than actually “catching up.” And I totally agree that Facebook is the best place to go to feel jealous of others and crappy about your own life, if you really want to. But I generally don’t want to. I do, in fact, use the Book to keep up with my friends: with one in Texas, two in South Carolina, and one in South Africa, Facebook makes keeping in touch easy and interactive. I’ll also throw in the fact that Facebook is pretty important if you’re in any kind of communications work – and that’s no small percentage of the work force.

And sure, I get jealous when I see whatsherfacefromthatclass just took a trip to Tuscany. But I’m fully aware of the choices I’ve made, why I made them, and what I am doing in my life at this very moment – and I like them. My generation was really the first to use Facebook; honestly, we know better than you that all it is is self-advertising. That’s what we ALL use it for. I don’t know anyone who lives through their Facebook feed in lieu of going out into the “real world.”

And don’t get down on people who spend nights with a Lean Cuisine and tv, for that matter – for us introverts at least, those nights are what keep us going.

4. Dating losers

Too many twentysomethings have low-criteria or no-criteria relationships because they don’t think who they date in their 20s matters. But dating down is dangerous when a series of bad relationships leaves us damaged and depressed–or when suddenly that person we never had any intention of staying with starts to look better than starting over.

I realize I might be a minority here – I’m 22, and I’ve been on one date. One. But you know what? Most of my friends didn’t date much in college, either. I realize I have high standards. This is not something that bothers me. Of course I have plenty of “why don’t I have a boyfriend” moments – I have a lot of them, actually. But I also have an answer: 1. I need to live somewhere for longer than six months to have any kind of relationship, and that hasn’t been the case in the past five years, and 2. I don’t just want a “boyfriend,” I want a mature and engaging relationship that develops from a lot more than a free drink. Don’t just assume we hit 20 and our romantic standards go out the window. And by the way, I went to a women’s college – where our noses twitch the minute any male between the ages of 19 and 25 walks onto campus. Just sayin’.

5. Being “too cool” for a desk job

That part-time bartending job and/or pet grooming gig isn’t a longterm economic plan. Twentysomething unemployment and underemployment isn’t cool. Maybe you imagine you’ll get it together one day but salaries peak–and plateau–in our 40s, so people who start careers in their 30s never catch up with those who started earlier.

Who are you talking to that is saying they are “too cool” for ANY job right now? Seriously. I don’t know ANYONE not focused on working towards a rewarding career right now, even though this economy makes it difficult to turn down any opportunity – even bartending or pet grooming. To this, I believe my fellow twentysomethings will agree when I say: STFU.

And also, long-term is not one word. It’s hyphenated. But maybe twentysomethings also don’t know anything about grammar?

6. Spending too much time with your Playstation

The brain caps off its last growth spurt during our 20s, but that doesn’t mean twentysomethings ought to wait around for their brains to grow up. Our 20s are wiring us to be the adults we will be. So step away from the videogames and pick up a book. These are use-it-or-lose years when neurons that fire together wire together. Whatever you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it.

Well, now you’re just being redundant. We get it. Facebook = evil. Technology will suck us in and never let go.

OH WAIT – we’re NOT 12 year-old boys who just discovered  World of Warcraft. We’re twenty-year-old young adults trying to figure out who we are, and I’m pretty sure ALL of us are aware that answer is not hidden in a game console. Life is not a game, but it’s also not an alarm clock. We’re not going to wake up on our thirtieth birthday and realize, “oh, I meant to fix that character flaw in my personality…guess it’s too late for that!” People are not static. We change all the time. Spending too much time on anything is probably a bad idea – moderation and all. But I really, really, really don’t think video games are the major problem of my generation. You were a lot closer with the Facebook issue.

Oh, and P.S.: most of my friends read more than I do—and I was the English major.

7. Shacking up too early

I know, I know. You don’t want to hear this one. It’s just so convenient and fun–and cheap–to live together. But the numbers don’t lie. Couples who cohabitate before becoming engaged are less satisfied and committed in their marriages–and are more likely to divorce–than couples who don’t. Standards for a live-in partner are lower than for a spouse but, once couples split the rent and the dog, staying together seems easier than hitting the bars (or the internet) again, especially when friends start walking down the aisle.

Give me a minute. I think my brain just tried to implode.

*deep breath*

First of all, this is just plain wrong. If I decide to enter into a committed relationship, I think living together before marriage is just plain smart. I have no intention of deciding to spend the rest of my life with one person when I don’t even know if we can spend three months in each others’ constant presence. Now, of course, there are cultural and religious beliefs to consider, but all the more reason to disagree with this point – this is an incredibly personal issue, and different for all couples, so making any kind of blanket statement is simply narrow-minded and inconsiderate.

I also think it is stupid to quote a study (I am assuming that what she means by “numbers”) that says standards for alive-in partner are lower. I’m preeeeetty certain that if I’m going to live with someone – meaning seeing them when I wake and go to bed, sharing small space with them, and most importantly sharing a kitchen with them – you can bet your ass my standards are gonna be high.

And you might have numbers, but I have experience – of three sisters on one side of my family, the only one to marry once with no divorce was also the only one to live with her partner before marriage. I really doubt that’s a coincidence. And I’d rather rely upon real life than two-dimensional numbers and undisclosed studies when making life-changing decisions, thankyouverymuch.

8. Acting like you’re on a reality tv show

Cool it on the dramatics. The twentysomething brain finds negative information–such as reprimands from bosses and rejections from lovers–more memorable and exciting than positive information. Don’t stoke the drama via Gchat and text messages. Teach your still-forming brain to calm itself down with what is going right. Twentysomethings who can control their emotions keep their jobs and relationships. Take up yoga. Or get a therapist. Or read a book on mindfulness. You’re getting too old to freak out all the time. Tantrums are for teenagers.

I’m sorry, but isn’t learning how to deal with your first firing, hiring, major break-up or serious commitment a rather important part of becoming an adult? OF COURSE we’re more dramatic – everything is a first when you’re in your twenties, so everything IS a big deal. That doesn’t mean we’re taking notes on how to create drama while watching “Jersey Shore.” Nor does it mean we all need therapy. Of course controlling one’s emotions is important, but I find the implication that all twentysomethings do this poorer than any other age group downright offensive. And for that matter, it is the extra youthful energy of us twentysomethings that give us the creativity, innovation, and passion we bring to all aspects of our life – including our jobs.

But just take this blog post, for example. When I read this article, I didn’t throw my computer out the window and bang on the walls. I reacted calmly, collected my thoughts, and decided to express my disdain through words. If that doesn’t keep me apart from Snooki, well, nothing will.

And last but most certainly not least…

9. Ignoring your ovaries

Everyone in Hollywood may be doing it but you don’t live in Hollywood or have three nannies or earn enough money to pay for fertility treatments in Beverly Hills. Did you know female fertility peaks at 28? That ≤ of your fertility is gone by age 35? That the average cost of fertility treatments at age 40 is $100,000? That half of childless couples wish they weren’t childless? Planning to deal with kids at 40 is no plan. Empower yourself. Learn about your fertility in your 20s. Do the math.

Well, of course. Because with all the Facebook stalking, Playstation gaming, shacking up, and lottery-playing, how can we fit “deal with ovaries” into our busy schedules?

Empowering oneself with knowledge is never a bad thing, in my personal opinion. And if getting pregnant is in your top three life goals, then this is probably good advice – but if it’s that important to you, you’re probably already taking steps and “doing the math.”

If you’re like me, you’re a little more focused on finding a job and a home that rewards you intellectually and monetarily so that if you get so lucky as to get pregnant, you’re emotionally and financially ready for it. I understand I’m young and I have a lot more to see and feel and do. But I still have two decades worth of life experience under my belt, and if I’ve learned nothing else, it’s that no matter how much you plan out your life, that “plan” has little to no effect on the ensuing reality. Besides this being [yet another] intensely personal point, it is also difficult to plan when life all too often has plans of its own for you.

This article seemed to me to be more of a “I really fucked up when I was in my twenties” act of catharsis on behalf of the author than the insightful, tellin’-it-like-it-is piece the author clearly intended it to be.

After reading it, I posted it on my Facebook and asked if I was the only one who disagreed with it – much to my relief, I received plenty of similar “hell NO”s. From people I know and like and respect, mind you – not people I stalk to make sure my life is somehow better than theirs for an artificial technology-induced ego boost.

I’m not saying these don’t ring true for plenty of people – in a world of 7 billion, it’s safe to say there is a large handful of people doing similar things at any given time. But they are in no way applicable to me or any twentysomething I know. I hope the author does a little more reality-based research the next time she writes on this topic.

I believe I speak for my people when I say: WTF. FAIL.

#firstworldproblems

It wasn’t a great week.

I started to write two blog posts, only to realize I didn’t have the right pictures.

Every time I’m in San Francisco, I miss Boston a little bit more.

Work had its ups and downs. More downs than ups.

My building’s laundry machine just stopped working. After I lost one quarter under the machine. And 3 more dollars-worth of quarters trying to get it to work.

I miss my damn dog.

And when I decided to try out a local bakery because I had seen three different tv show episodes that prominently featured a large, amazing-looking cake swathed in that buttercream I love so much…

That failed too. Note to fellow North Berkeley residents – unless you prefer your buttercream frosting to taste like they took a stick of unsalted I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and spread that over some overly-sweet cornbread, don’t go here for your cake needs. Just don’t.

The world didn’t end. I got nothing on the starving children in Africa. Just one of those weeks where everything that could go wrong and/or rub me the wrong way, did. And I can see quite clearly that I’m headed for a “why am I even here” breakdown in the very near future. [Read: Mom, keep your phone handy.]

I’d really like to say something grandiose or at least articulate about how “this too shall pass.”

It’s not in me today.

On the plus side, I got my hair cut. I discovered a new flavor of kombucha to try. I got a pretty new dress. I made friends with the mailman. I have a crap ton of fresh basil in the fridge. And I started reading a new cookbook I hope to discuss here soon.

Feeling angsty/lackluster/self-indulgent this week? Do share.