Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Win Some. You Lose Some.


It seems my role in life is usually relegated to that of translator, diplomat, & guide.  I don’t mind it, but I also wish people could see where I come from as easily as I see it myself.  I find the best advice is that which is random and taken out of context.  In fact, one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received professionally is, “you win some, you lose some”.  Try applying that when you have a tendency toward insanely detailed perfectionism.

Today I had a conversation with someone who I am just getting to know.  I really like our interaction so far. I feel like this is a person who I “get” in many ways because he reminds me of myself.  He recently shared an experience of “feeling something inside him break” and he came into work announcing that he wasn't going to let anything get to him.  I’m not sure that he realized how big of a deal that was.  I got a chance to tell him so today.  We vaguely talked about our issues and I tried to explain how my understanding of Buddhism has really helped me understand my own social anxiety issues and helped me cope and how the experience he had was one that many people are willing to pay for; the experience of letting go of what we can’t control and accepting that the only thing that’s real is the here and now. 

He wants to get a tattoo that reminds me of some Buddhist philosophy, but was, in fact, Greek origin and I said something to the effect of “Truth is truth no matter what the origin”.  This, of course, reminds me of how I came into Buddhism. 

I grew up in a “liberal” Catholic family with some treks to the Lutheran church my great grandmother attended.  We were a family that accepted the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Mary, Saints, evolution, ESP, auras, horoscopes, and reincarnation.  Yeah, we were not your typical Catholics.  So I felt free to explore and I remember becoming very disgruntled at an early age. In fact, I was so distraught by my philosophical musings that by the age of 9 I had decided I was an atheist.  In high school I grasped for meaning and belonging and tried to find my place anywhere that was what I considered “anti-christian”: Satanism and paganism.  My resources were limited. I fell in with people and ideas that were part of an agenda more so than anything real on my end.  But it was never serious.  I think in high school, religion was not that big of a concern so I wanted to be evil because it was the anti to what I was angry at as a younger person, but I didn't really understand enough about it.

In college, I finally had some real experience with some of those groups. I got involved online with a group of Satanists (Church of Satan, not “devil worshipers") and I learned rather quickly that I did not fit in with them either. I explored aspects of paganism at this time as well. While I agreed with the basic principles and desired the aspect of ritual and community, I couldn't find a place there either.

It wasn't until I took a class called Philosophy and Religion of India that everything came together and became clear to me.  Now, I admit I had somewhat of preference for non-American culture at the time.  I had traveled to England, Scotland and France and loved it immensely.  But, I never sought out Eastern Philosophy during my soul searching days of yore. 

Have you ever had the experience of knowing that you have learned something new and it was amazing?  Like a light went on in your mind where there was just darkness?  That’s one kind of learning experience - and I've had a few of those as well.  But in this class, I had an experience altogether different.

When I began reading what the basic tenants of Buddhism were, in the context of it’s Hindu origins, I had the experience of: “Ahah!  This is how to articulate what I already know to be true about life”. Not: “this is new information”.  It was odd to find a language to express these deep sentiments and feelings about life after searching and giving up and just feeling so lost.  This also gave me a language to understand and discuss Western religion for the first time.  For the first time ever I understood that the religion I had grown up with had a historical context and that I could understand that context and appreciate the message instead of feeling constricted by dogma.

If anything, this experience reinforced one of the Buddha’s teachings that I came to hear much later. “If you see the Buddha in the road, kill him”.  What this means to me is that you shouldn't take a person’s claims to be enlightened at face value, but also that our expectations of “the Buddha” will cloud our judgment and it’s possible that we've already come face to face with that “being” a million times without realizing it.  “kill him” is not to be taken literally.  It means, destroy the concept in your mind of this perfect “enlightened” being you call the Buddha, because he only exists in your mind.  It also refers to who we accept as our teachers.  If we take on a teacher, they are not Gods.  They make mistakes and that doesn't change the teachings.  If a teacher or teaching goes against what you KNOW in your heart to be true, maybe the teacher or teaching is wrong. 

What I just realized as I type this is that Buddhism, for me, has been a way for me to learn to trust myself. To trust my instincts about life.  And you know what?  I am rarely wrong in that.



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Korean Tofu Soft Tacos


Inspired by another recipe for Korean Tofu Tacos, I whipped this up for brunch this morning and it was quite delicious!  I didn't measure ingredients because although much of the time cooking is a science, it is also an art!  

I started with approx. 8 oz. of firm tofu (half a standard sized package) and the basting liquid came out to about 1/4 C.

Blend the following in order, to taste (should be balanced between sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy):
-Brown sugar (start with 1 Tbsp and add other stuff to taste)
-Rice vinegar
-Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or Soy Sauce)
-Garlic chili sauce (Vietnamese)

You should make just enough to baste the tofu.

Cut Firm tofu into ½” thick slabs, pat them dry in a paper towel or clean cloth towel and then brown in a skillet, with or without olive oil or non-stick spray.  Spoon the sauce over the tofu and spread it evenly on the top side.  When tofu has started to brown, flip it over and repeat, generously covering the top of the tofu. Cook until liquid is absorbed.

Heat a flour tortilla, spread a scant amount of Veganaise on it, layer some lettuce leaves, sweet onion slices and Mexican pickled carrots with a few tofu slabs, fold it, eat it, yum!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Breakfast Frittata Quesadilla

Breakfast Frittata Quesadilla
(makes one large quesadilla for 1-2 people)

Step 1:
1/2 C chopped onion (I use Maui sweet)
1 C (approx.) chopped cauliflower
handful of chopped mushrooms (optional)

Sautee these in a skillet on medium heat until cauliflower is tender. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Step 2:
2 eggs
1 tsp Smoked Paprika (or to taste after you've made the recipe once)
dashes each of garlic powder, salt, and pepper

Blend together well, then add to the skillet, covering all the veggies. Cook on medium-low heat until set or you can flip sections over to cook the underside.

Step 3:
when the eggs are almost done heat up two flour tortillas (I use the "soft taco" size). I use a griddle pan which makes this easy: Start with one Tortilla, melt a layer of cheese, add the egg and veggie mix, another layer of cheese, the other tortilla. Press with Spatula until melty, flip and toast the other side for a minute...Voila!

Top it with avocado or salsa. Best eaten with a knife and fork, in my opinion.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Changing careers is imminent.

Then I watch DR. WHO and feel good about being alive....  and I watch Warehouse 13 and wondering about changing careers...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

F U BOOK!


Facebook is a “social network” but I don’t think people think much about what that means.  The first mistake is calling everyone you add to you social network your “friend”. This causes a lot of awkward situations when people invariably opt to “unfriend” people for various reasons, most of them not reflecting any real relationship status.  For example, suppose I added someone that I barely knew to begin with or someone that I hadn’t spoken to or seen in 20 years AND after receiving their “news feed” consisting of daily updates on what they’ve had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner – I might decide that I don’t really care about keeping in touch after all.

Facebook is basically 1 part novelty, 1 part nostalgia, 1 part networking, 1 part keeping in touch with people you give two craps about but don’t have time to talk to on a regular basis, and 1 part communicating with your actual friends and family.  Once the novelty of seeing how your best friend or arch nemesis from high school has been doing all these years wears off, you are left with a hollow feeling because as an older, wiser person you probably care more about real relationships than you did back then.  And it takes a while to sink in, so for a while you keep repeating the process because each new “old acquaintance” you rekindle fills the void left by the last one who left you high and dry mid-comment thread.

The other major mistake that Facebook users make is thinking that interacting on Facebook REPLACES maintaining real friendships in the real world.  Some people (myself included) need body language and voice inflection or a whole damn lot of chat time with someone to UNDERSTAND what they are communicating.  If we don’t have these things, conversations can turn nasty in an instant when people misunderstand one another, ESPECIALLY with people you feel particularly close to.  This leads to people being offended by off-hand remarks and differences of opinion, because in the real world, timing is everything, and you’d know when to keep your mouth shut by the look on someone’s face.
Katrianne (my blood-elf rogue), wearing beer goggles at Brewfest...
At a certain point, I decided to stop taking Facebook so seriously.  I mean, I have tried to “use it” for my own purposes and discovered that it is alive and has its own agenda.  So every time I see someone’s status that says “If you don’t want me to delete you from my friends…do this…” or “I know nobody will repost this because you don’t care about children dying of AIDS..” or whatever, I IGNORE IT COMPLETELY.  Because, that’s NOT why I am on Facebook… I don’t need to advertize myself because people aren’t going to understand who I really am anyways.  I’m not selling myself because nobody is there to buy my product anyways.  I’ve already caught up with the 20 people that don’t hate me from high school and I’ve managed to find peace with the fact that one of my ex-best friends in real life “unfriended” me on Facebook and real life because of a comment thread… on, you guessed it, Facebook! 

I’m tired of taking it personally when that cute guy that you have a great rapport with in person doesn’t even respond to your personal messages anymore.  I’m tired of seeing my friend with a small child post shit on Facebook every day and then turn around and NEVER respond to any messages I send her.  I’m tired of family getting offended if I say Fuck on my page. I’m tired of feeling like I have to hide my true personality for fear of offending someone who hardly ever gives me two seconds of their time in real life.  And I’m tired of hearing other people complain about Facebook drama. 

As someone who has at one time or another felt betrayed, abandoned, ridiculed, misunderstood, and yes… even offended, by people’s public displays of idiocy and carelessness with words on Facebook, I just don’t care anymore.  I think I’ll go outside and feel the wind in my hair or maybe even read a book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who am I?

I have a confession of sorts. A few months ago, I started paying attention to this guy I barely know but who is my Facebook "friend". I didn't have the guts to talk to him until recently.  And even so, it wasn't until I was drinking one night that I managed to write and say “Hey, we have stuff in common. We should hang out.”  He responded enthusiastically, which is awesome.  There are a lot of things I have learned over the past few years. One of them is that I do better with organic relationships (meaning the kind that just happen because of circumstance as opposed to the kind you go looking for on purpose like dating sites).  He reminds me of that.  Because we know each other from a real world situation and have many friends in common, i think we would have hung out at some point, even if I hadn't sent that email.

I have been thinking about how much my last real boyfriend affected me.  Sure, I have dated people in the last 3 years, but really, I haven’t had a committed relationship since then.  When I left my ex, I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore.  I didn’t know what kind of music I liked, movies I liked, decorative style I had, among other things.  And when I left that relationship I was definitely scarred on the inside. All the things that he was into became a symbol of things I didn't want to do anymore because I needed to find myself.  In many ways, I went the complete opposite just to get away from the memories.  But now as I enter into a friendship with someone who doesn't remind me of my ex at all but is into ALL the same stuff, I feel it may be time to let go of that boundary I set for myself.  It is time I healed that wound.

After a time I accepted the reality that I may not get married.  I am not against it, but I’ve never been one of those girls who sought it out either.  I also don’t seek out having kids.  That’s not to say I don’t see the value in the experience of raising children or deny that I would consider having kids with the right man.  I just don’t want to be a single mother.  Sue me.

A guy once commented on how much I liked to cook. I feel pretty domestic at times.  He felt that my attitude of liking to cook, especially liking to cook for a guy, was a reflection of oppressiveness.  I tried to explain that when I cook I feel in tune with women in my family (and women from the beginning of time) because my family is matriarchal.  We’re a very creative bunch and I feel I’m communicating creatively and artistically by cooking and crafting and anything else I do at home. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Awesome

At the risk of sounding self-absorbed or conceited, sometimes I get sad when I realize that people don’t know how awesome I am.  If we wore our experiences in life on our sleeves like the merit badges they should be, then people could tell just by looking at me that I have been a world traveler, a performer, an archaeologist – among many other things.  But sadly, we carry these extremely important parts of ourselves inside, where only we can see them most of the time. 

Let me be clear; I am not just talking about myself here.  I don’t know how awesome YOU are either and that is heartbreaking.  So next time you find yourself not knowing how awesome the person next you is, you should try and find out.