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My Keto Story - I (heart) Tuna

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Here is why I don't buy groceries:  I spent $83 on things that need to be cooked, and then bought food out all week. Today I finally decide to "cook," which means opening a can and a jar. On the plus side, the $2.59 can of Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil really is better than the $.99 on sale Wild caught Albacore I usually eat, and the Goya artichokes are seasoned with comino, more Latin-style than Italian (like the Centa brand.) It's good to have options.I'm just lacking fresh leaves - I have mint in the yard but yuck.

I planted Lime Basil yesterday, and when that's grown it will be perfect for this combination. The leaves really taste like lime and basil. At $2.50 an envelope, it really doesn't hurt much if you throw  them on the ground and nothing grows - it's a lottery ticket.  I'm all for taking chance that won't leave you ill, incarcerated, or homeless.

This bowl of yumminess is keto-friendly because it's largely protein and fat. It doe…

Any Type of Relationship: Double Duty vs. Do Unto Others

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Part of Adulting, New Age Model, is self-care. It's a huge part, intersecting with all other directives. Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First.
This can be confusing. I was taught to be mindful of others: how would I feel if someone said that thing to me? I became very introspective. How would I actually feel? Taking the time to calculate scenarios may have made me somewhat prescient and somewhat slow. It also left me in a void when I learned, by trial and error, that not all persons were making the same calculations. In fact, there is a whole subset of humans who rate interactions on how well you consider their needs. You know; you've dated some of them. You end up doing double duty, caring for yourself and them, or just caring for them.
It is daunting to understand HOW to take care of yourself the way you take care of others. It isn't wrong to think how our actions will make other people feel. It's an important lesson because it mitigates our natural solipsistic tendenc…

Here is Your Rain - for Heather

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My memories of Michigan are overcast and gloomy, punctuated by violent thunderstorms and mitigated by the mysterious wisdom of fog. Our neighborhood was situated between two lakes and a pharmaceutical factory; maybe the dismal ennui between foggy days makes them seem more frequent than they were.

I learned a completely different appreciation for rain in the desert. That song isn't joking - there's a week-long monsoon that every local celebrates. One of my favorite photographs which exists only in my mind is a view into the neighbors' screened-glass door: they held their four-month-old twins up to the window, showing them the rain pouring out of Heaven, faces aglow (well, the parents; the twins were just sort of staring.) I worked the overnight shift at the hotel at that time. I rode my bike 2.5 miles, gleefully, in the downpour every morning. Sometimes I was flat-out laughing by the time I got home.  There was never any thunder, though.

When people talk about their clima…

On Being Part of a Venn Diagram vs. Being an Artist

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Our accountant is a wonderful, naturally supportive person. My empathic sensors (and logic) tell me that she has her own set of problems but she doesn’t let them get the best of her. She asks me regularly whether I plan to ride my bike to work on Friday.  She shares pictures of her grandson and tells me about her quilting group. Last week, my Project Get Over Myself project was bringing some of my paintings into the office and letting people see them; now I’m flagged (read: outed) as a painter. She sent me a link to a fine arts festival happening over the weekend.

As usual, I have two points I have to digest. I dislike the bins people put me in, and I dislike art fairs.
I have to get over my knee-jerk when people stick a pin in me that has a label attached; it’s not as serious as all that for them, and it also means they find me interesting and are trying to connect. The thing I want the most is the thing that scares me the most. Accountant is awesome because she does not try to get me …

Weekend two-fer: Surprises for Moms

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This weekend I was the official Unofficial photographer at a surprise birthday party. Let me tell you how that happened:

Facebook told me my co-worker Emily knows my cousin Jill, probably better than I do. I was invited to Emily's wedding in case Jill was going to be there, or in case she wasn't I could represent. Jill was unable to travel from Indiana, so I took a bunch of pictures for her. I was introduced as "Jill's cousin," which felt really weird since everybody at the wedding knew Jill, probably better than I do. I had tangential celebrity status.

A lot of those pictures came out really well, which always takes me by surprise. My coworker Roxanne asked if I could take pictures at her sister's wedding.

"How much do you charge?" asked Roxanne.  You know by now that everything I do is for the story. This was already a story. I said I'd be willing to trade services, but I didn't know what I wanted, maybe my car speakers fixed.  In the end…

Self-Medication vs. Adulting, aka I Get My Demons

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I just discovered a really good whisky. I'm not even gonna tell you which one because I don't want it to become fashionable and then unavailable. I already can't afford it.

I'm also learning something new about my social drinking habits; I get to play Mycroft this time.

When I was growing up in Michigan, beer was deeply ingrained in the culture. The favorite sport was bar-hopping: driving all night through the back roads, hitting little secluded joints. It can be a dangerous sport, and is probably the basis for the creation of MADD. Good job, MADD Moms, you've done impressive work over the years.

As kids, we drank to get drunk. We started partying as soon as we could convince people to buy for us (that's a separate sport for teenagers.) We thought it was awesome, like big people. My dad always had alcohol in hand; probably the parents of my friends were the same. Alcohol was validated.

We drank because it was cool; we drank because we were bored. Once you do i…

Rules for Boundaries: Your Mom-lecture for the Day

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Boundaries as a term is bordering on being the new catchprase, clickbait even.  You read it here first, kids.  However, the concept is crucial for healthy living. Let's get ahead of the curve and set some now, before hipsterdom catches the wave.

Realise that you have them.  You always have had them, and your first set was probably handed to you by adults you trusted as a child.  This may or may not be problematic: the boundaries you were given may be inappropriate for you (maybe for anybody) or you may have outgrown them. I'll give a personal example: I was taught that I should sit down, and if somebody wants me to have something they will give it to me.  I can fairly assume that I was being an Annoying Child, but even then I was a literal child, and I sat, and I waited. Guess what, everybody?  Nobody brings you anything. At some point, somebody who'd been handed different boundaries laughed at me and said, "If you want something, you have to ask for it," and was…

UPdate on Things: Coyote the Trickster, aka Remember That Time I said I wasn't gonna blog today?

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Only it didn't *just* happen. It's been marinating. It spoke to me some little time ago - not that long ago - in the middle of a conversation about somebody else's vision.  Visions are sneaky like that. They move like electricity, making leaps, and they can shape-shift. They don't necessarily mean the same thing to the same person, or the same thing at the end of their travel as they did when they started.  It doesn't matter.

My job as an artist is to convey messages which already exist in time-space, and try to do it as clearly as possible when you don't have access to the language which was the original conveyance.  It's my favorite game.

This is done now for the second time, and at the heart of the message is a feather given me by someone else who apparently received the message. Stay tuned, Etsy-friend...our story is leaving the ground.

Today I bought the Coyote a new suit, in the form of a $4.99 thrift store frame. I brought the painting in with me, t…

Tandoori Days, Bachata Nights, aka Why You Should Go Ahead and Do It.

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I wasn't gonna blog today, but I have to explain to you how I live my life, and why Annandale may actually be perfect for me.

I feed my landlords' cats when they are away, and they pay me for this. It's fair, because I have to commit to showing up twice a day (whereas were I a horn player, I'd just noncommittally show up, or not.) So the landlord paid me today, and I've had biryani on my mind, so I thought I'd go get some.

There's a local restaurant called Tandoori Nights that makes amazing home-cooking-quality Nepalese/Indian cuisine. I usually go there when the sun is still shining.

Ah, but tonight there was club lighting and a police officer out front.  It could be argued that this was a warning sign, and that I should go elsewhere. If you've met me, you know I'm oblivious - warning-sign blind.

"Hello, ma'am," he nodded as he let me pass. I sat at the bar and waited for someone to realise they should speak to me. I asked if I could…

#allpackagesmatter - Thank You, @Sean Carter

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So I've been spending a lot of time talking about myself lately, which is probably not a surprise. It's my blog, and I've been avoiding Facebook and its inherent drama, so that leaves me as my #1 topic.  Today, though, I got sucked into a good one, and I'm going to talk peripherally about Sean Carter, because he's awesome. Thank you, Sir, for keeping the faith.
All Packages Matter, people. Add this to your list of causes.

I lived in DC (That's short for Our Nation's Capital, #2 Black majority city after Philly) for 13.5 years. I watched my neighborhood gentrify, and as a person who started out as the minority, I can tell you I had mixed feelings. I appreciated the restaurants that popped up down the street - Red Rocks, El Chucho, and Room 11 - but I was sad to see houses emptied one by one, as the original occupants passed away and their relatives sold the houses to flippers.  Do other cities have Luxury Condos with Used Tire Mart views?  Dunno. I do know…

Mermaids vs. Scary Spiders aka Happy Birthday, Charlotte

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So I learned some things yesterday:

1. 4-year-olds are exhausting just to be around 2. 4-year-olds are wiggly and you have to paint fast 3. 4-year-olds are the best possible clients. 
::dab some paint on wiggly small person; hand wiggly person a mirror::

"What do you think? What are you?" Artist waits for approval.

Client bursts into sunny smile.

"I'M A _____________________________!" Mermaid, Spider (requested by girls), Octopus - yep, I sold that to a 2-year old. I went in with this as a plan.

Octopus Kid worried me, because he cringed just slightly as he watched the brush approach, like it was a needle. Dad was squatting nearby and giving encouragement, so I wasn't convinced the kid was doing this willingly.  But then he pursed his lips in a way that seemed not apprehension but complicity  - like "go for it" - so I went for it. His slow smile as he looked into the mirror was the best possible answer.

"No, adults don't get face paint,&…

*Flash Fiction* Self-Help

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The early morning sun bounces off the ripples in my coffee. She dips a finger to retrieve the gnat, its wings like oars on the inky black.

"Look - I rescued him." She presents her finger, gnat-wings plastered to her skin, for my inspection.

"How can you tell it's a him? Tiny balls?" I snigger. I feel her eyes roll as she focuses on peeling the wings loose.

"You're such a pig. Shit. I think I broke one. Shit."

I know better than to laugh. She believes - we both do - that every life is precious and deserves an equal chance to be happy.  Happiness does not seem to be the fate for this gnat. But I put my mug on the wooden spool table, and slide across the seat of the porch swing until our legs are touching.

"I'm sorry, baby. Is he still alive?"

"Yeah." She uses a fingernail from the opposite hand to slide the soggy insect onto the arm of the swing.  "He's walking, or trying to. Damn." She leans against me and he…

*POETRY WARNING* Space, aka

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Speaking in symbols
can lend something more than words,
boundaries eclipsed.

Let's not fill your head
with my palabras today.

Road to Recovery vs. Some Things You Never Get Over

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I miss knowing every inch of his face, its bone structure, the thinness of his skin. 

I miss his funny walk and the surprising strength of his core. I miss the smell of leather and Head-and-Shoulders in his long, thick hair which he somehow could tuck up into a baseball cap. 

I miss the way his eyes darted to each side before that inevitable barb rolled off his tongue. He was a master of subtle timing; even he didn't understand that. 

His nature erupted into everything he did, from playing guitar to tenderly nursing plant cuttings. Chicks called him for his meatloaf recipe, but he took real pride in the chocolate eclairs. My kids refused to eat them so he retired, devastated, into the neighbor room. 

 Some things aren't meant to be gotten over.  Everything still exists, somewhere; nothing is linear, not really.

So, you see, it's okay to say no. Nobody should ever say yes until they are comfortable knowing there is no competition.

Business Tattoos vs. Deb-utante Ball aka My Coming-Out Party

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Last night I worked out some business card designs, because I realise I need them. I've come to that point in the conversation a few times recently, and I had no business card to hand over. So.

My waking thought this morning was that business cards are actually a huge deal. HUGE. They signify that I'm willing to BE IDENTIFIED, not just in the moment, but also later. That I am willing to let select individuals be able to locate me and ask me to do things for them, that I will consider their proposals. I am not only admitting but committing to the Universe and to myself that I will do things. Envoys take what is offered, Takashi.
I have to brand myself, like a tattoo. Unlike a tattoo, I can change my brand later (well, sort of like a tattoo - even there, we have options.)  And that's always been one of my pet neuroses:  avoiding a label. 
I can't stand it when someone asks me, "Are you a ________________?" Writer, artist, poet, chef, dancer was once floated an…

*POETRY WARNING* Spontaneous Afternoon Tanka

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Behold thee, Redbud:
Blooms erupting from thy skin
Break my heart for joy.

These droplets don't come from me
But Spring cries for both of us. 

Then vs. Now - When an Ex Husband Calls

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January 29, 2017:

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I keep vacillating between the latter two, with anger flaring up again here and there. Denial is complete, and the bargaining is now, too.

There shouldn't have been anything wrong with him.
I should never have come here.
I feel like the Wrong Alice.

We are clear, though, on the why:

I am leaving because he makes me really, really crazy and I can't choose that any more.  I need my brain back, please and thank you. And he needs, I need, to start with a foundation which is true. Nothing is sacred which is founded on a lie.

As I sort my belongings from his (there are no "ours") I am briefly angry when I find the false starts: the Turkish coffee pots, half-finished canvases, a reclaimed wooden window with glass panels intact, for example.  I threw the Panama hat out into the alley, along with the rubber balls he uses to play cricket in the house. This is valid; they were …

Getting Myself vs. Getting Over Myself

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...so I've been crying, quietly or not, for at least 20 minutes now, which is no big deal because it's what girls do, right? Why is that, exactly? Why do guys not do it? Does crying make me girly? Go ahead and cry, guys. I give you permission.

It makes me human. It makes me hurt and unresolved. I seriously dislike lack of resolution - this is why I watch detective stories. There's a neat wrap-up at the end.

Also, it is a big deal. It's a big deal when anybody hurts enough, for whatever reason, to sit and cry alone in a room. When you do it, give yourself a hug and also a pat on the back for allowing yourself to feel. You don't need to suck it up. You need to listen to your body, and do what you need to do. In all things.

I feel like I have a hole and it's the source of the crying - a void with raw edges that I manage to patch up on most days, so that nothing falls into it and nothing leaks out. It has a voice and it wants something I can't identify. Unsate…

Godzilla vs. Moe - This is what my Panic looks like

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Sometimes I know exactly what's real, and it terrifies me.

I've been up since dawn's early crack, having followed my own advice and having been asleep since n*PM last night. Asleep is a relative term - these days it means that several times I woke up enough to tell Netflix yes, I was still watching, and roll over again. I blame years of shift work for being unable to relax in a dark and silent room. My brain is too loud without external noise to mitigate it.

I'm rarely awake to see the sun come up, but it's one of my favorite things. I turn off the TV and listen to the birds.  Ideally I have coffee and go back to bed, but today is a work-day, a heavy one. I'm going to try and tell you what my panic attack is like. I use the familiar term, but it doesn't mean the same thing for everyone.

My work-space faces a window that looks out into the woods across the landlords' back patio. I can see the rooftop of the house over the hill, and I know that between m…

Purging vs. Growing - A Story of Date Rape

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...so you may remember my banyan tree. I grew it from seed, killed it three times, and vowed to never kill it again.

I have a simple gauge of a person's nature: tell me something you have maintained for at least ten years. My answer is this: I have a pile of unfinished projects, furniture I've shucked from state to state, and I had this tree since my second year of marriage. In a way it represented the marriage: it kept reviving itself after near-death experiences. I moved it with pride to Annandale from DC. I was excited about moving forward.

And then I got distracted and left it outside to freeze.

I developed an interesting bundle of emotions this weekend and decided to burn the stump in a sort of cleansing ceremony. I even folded the pages of a book - Urdu for Beginners - to use as firestarter. The landlords are away and I wouldn't have to explain the blaze in the driveway. And then I realised I don't care. I don't require a ceremony to absolve myself of this f…

The Other vs. Stigma, aka Acceptance vs. Support

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Man, what a day for etymology. I really liked this one - thanks, Linda and Paul.

If you have read more than two of my posts, you know that #equality is a huge topic for me. I was raised by my momma to know that all people are equal in value. We have a baseline of not-despicable and our worth is what we make it from there. Let me go off on a tangent before addressing the connotations of words.

It's likely that I feel strongly about #equality because I was taught to accept each person as a person, and then I went to kindergarten. Kindergartners can be horrible people. I was mocked for my clothes, for not being able to read, for speaking my mind. I quickly learned how to read, because I could control that. I couldn't choose my own clothes and I couldn't shut up. Still can't.

My bestie in Kindergarten came from a Baptist family, and my parents were Catholic. This meant that on any weekend I could go to church up to 5 times, depending how we chose to arrange our social sch…