Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Brenna and Sunkist: Home Alone

Thursday evening we went out for a book fair at Barnes & Noble, then to the RBC Center for the yearly circus event.

In the mad dash to get out of the house, one of us - or all of us - forgot to put Brenna into the crate.

I mentioned before:  Brenna was OK being loose in the house on her own.  But once Sunkist the cat joined the family, Brenna became his henchman.  It's as if, once we got, the cat starts with "Hey, dumb ass!  Over here!  Look...CHOCOLATE!  CHOCOLATE is GREAT for dogs!"

This, and similar antics from the cat, has caused much damage and food to "disappear" while we are gone.

So when we came home from the circus and heard Brenna barking excitedly for us, from an area that she shouldn't have been barking from, we all looked at each other in the car and said "uh-oh".

Sure enough, she greeted us at the door instead of being locked away in her crate.  This is what we saw when we came into the house:

Just to be clear: none of this was on the floor when we left.  The red tray actually had, on top of it, the green cup that is sprawled by the refrigerator, and the small terracotta bowl.  All of this was on top of the counter.

The small yellow towel was also atop a counter.  Luckily, nothing broke.

And that is Sunkist playing like "Whaat?  I was asleep the whole time.  Yawn.  What's going on?"

Rounding the corner, I see a pan on the floor.  I believe this pan happened to be close to the sink, so it traveled far to make it to the floor.

Just as I enter another room, this is what I saw.  The pizza box, fortunately, was empty.  I mean, empty before the dog got to it.  The little bits of stuff around the pizza box is from a bag of Stacy's Pita Chips (which, BTW, are the BEST pita chips ever!).  Tim stated he finished the bag before we left, so the dog just managed to lick the bag into pieces.

This is the view from the room.  The Stacy's Pita Chips bag is what you see on the left side...at least what's left of it.  And the full view of the empty pizza box, sans any cheese or anything else that ends up on the box "naturally".

We thought that was it until we went upstairs and saw one of the trashcans tipped over and sniffed.  There wasn't food in that so there was no mess, but just an obvious trail of potential destruction.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Burn

While reading Born to Run, I related to the part where one of the ultra runners mentioned that "burn" feeling he received, in the pit of his chest...how he loved that feeling.

I understood 100% what he meant.

But not when I run.

I get this when I play wallyball.  Once I get it, I welcome it and feel that I'm in my game.  I love this feeling.  I live off this.

So, I wondered while reading this, why don't I feel the same "wonderment" when i get this feeling while running?

I ran track this past Thursday.  I haven't done any speed since I stopped running last December.  I typically like track: it's challenging and different.  However, my track workouts for the past year have been *extremely* hard.  And while I don't dislike them, I found them more and more intimidating.

I have outlined a program, based on my past plan, to ready myself for my first race of the year (a 5K).  So Thursday, I decided to do a few 400s, continuous, at alternating pace (fast, slow, fast, slow, etc.).

I had low expectations.  I figured I wouldn't make the 2:00 mn 400s, after being out of practice for so long. 

But once I started, that burn came into play.  It's a little different than the burn from wallyball, but not much. 

I decided not to shun this burn and welcome it like I do in wallyball.

I didn't feel like I did anything much different in my stride...I just didn't push the pain away. 

First lap: 1:58.

Really?  It didn't feel that bad!  Sure, I was breathing heavy at the end but I didn't pay much attention while I embraced the burn.

Second fast lap?  1:57.

Third...1:56.

Wow.  This was a pretty great track workout.  My slow 400s were slower than the goal pace but the key, for me, was just making the 'pain' comparable to the pain I gain in wallyball.

I love wallyball.  And while I play, I don't feel anything.  My attention is solely on that ball and winning that point.  When I am done, I then have the awareness about what I just did: panting, chest burn, maybe a pain or two somewhere else.  And then once the ball is in play, all is forgotten until the next break.

Why couldn't I do the same for my running?

We'll see.  It seemed to work for me on Thursday.  But that may be just a fluke.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Did You Hug Your Doctor Today?

I did.

And not just any doctor.  My gynecologist.

She used to be my obstetrician.

She cared for my pregnancies and delivered both my beautiful girls.

She also hugged me the day I found out I miscarried.  I told her "It's OK".  And she said sternly "No.  It's not."

She also was there for me when I had to take care of that miscarriage.

My BFF told me about Dr. Constance Battle when I decided to find an obstetrician for my first baby.  I knew I didn't want to rotate through doctors, barely getting to know one at all.  My girlfriend had gone through this and barely knew the doctor who actually was on call for the delivery.

Tim joined me for my first visit to her office.  It was bustling.  Filled to the rim with women in all shapes and sizes.  We met with one of the staff and she gave us a rundown and tour of the practice.  She then looked at me and she said something like "We believe in intuition and a mother's instinct.  If you feel like there is something wrong at anytime, you call us.  We will listen and we will help."

Wow.  I was so moved by this statement.

And I continued to be moved by every person I met and encountered through my pregnancy with CJ.

Tim and I took our birthing class at her practice.  The teacher was Dr. Battle's primary nurse, Nancy.  Nancy was a hoot.  A stern looking woman who welcomed me and asked how I was doing each time I talked to her by phone or came into the office.  She had four children; the last, she pulled out by herself.  She told me that the first time she "met" Dr. Battle, she couldn't believe it: Dr. Battle was in the room coaching the mom.  She had mistaken her for a midwife.

And that's how life was during my prenatal visits.  A very good process: check-in, give a urine sample, wait in the other waiting room, get blood and other vitals checked, wait for Dr. Battle for the exam.

One visit, Dr. Battle made an assessment for when I should be ready to deliver.  She decided to pick June 19th for inducement.  They did a lot of weird stuff to me, to help dilate me before the procedure (one of which was a foley catheter).  I didn't think any of this would work, but the nurses at WakeMed on June 19th told me that, in their experience, Dr. Battle had an uncanny way of predicting when babies were ready to be delivered.  They loved her.

Inducement wasn't drugs but this foley catheter thing and then some other hocus-pocus stuff.

Dr. Battle sat in my room for about two hours, maybe more...sleeping in a chair in the room, waiting for CJ to join the world.  When she broke my water, she got some contraption out, wrapped a towel around it, and then yelled at me to let go of the arm of the hospital bed - the only thing I felt safe holding on to - and grab the towel.  She then coached me through the entire birth and it was her voice, and only her voice, I heard.

There were a few hiccups during CJ's birth.  The cord wrapped around her neck and her heart rate dropped incredibly.  I had no idea.  I was listening to Dr. Battle and concentrating on the task at hand.

Last but not least, CJ is born and I open my eyes (yes, they were shut nearly the entire time) and see about 15 people in the room.  I kid you not, Dr. Battle "threw" CJ to another doc, where they quickly worked on my baby.  Everything was fine and I got a great picture of me, CJ and Dr. Battle after all the chaos was over.

Going through the prenatal stuff with Mi-Mi was about the same...although I had issues with that pregnancy too.  I was actually 'having a period' while pregnant.  I had to take progesterone to help ensure the early pregnancy would go well.  Everything I read indicated none of this would work.  But it did and I have Mi-Mi today.  A delivery that also involved Dr. Battle telling Tim and I what to do.  I was in the oddest position ever - I don't recall that one in the pregnancy books!  But Mi-Mi was born quickly and without the issues we had with CJ.

So you see, Dr. Battle is one of the most important people I have ever met in my life.

She no longer practices obstetrics.  She is solely gynecology, so I continue to see her, year after year.

And every time I do, I give her a hug.  And we chat.  She has always taken her time with me; I assume she does this with all her patients.

It's sad to visit her office now.  The once bustling, overflowing office is quiet.  The second waiting room no longer in use.  Nancy is no longer there.  It's like a ghost town.

But the pictures of the children she has delivered still wallpaper her examining rooms.  And her face in every photo shows a proud woman with the biggest, most genuine smile.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

When I started reading this book, I thought: this sounds *so* familiar.

I know I didn't read this book before. But the words were something I did read or heard. I had images in my head of primitive runners, running up a steep mountain. Why?

Was this a documentary that I had seen?

My BFF had read this and I would hear excerpts of it during our runs. But not word-for-word text from the novel, nor did he provide any images. So why did I have such vivid memories of reading this text before?

Because he wrote an article, which became the basis of this book, in Runner's World, along with images.

Whew. I thought I was psychic or something.

I tried searching for it to link to it from this post, but to no avail.  

I was enthralled by that article.  And I was enthralled by this book.

It's not what you think either.  It's not a book to get you to run, or if you run, to get you to run barefoot.

It's a book about several people: Micah True, aka Caballo Blanco; Chris McDougall himself; and the Tarahumara Indians.

It also includes many other "characters" - ultra runners - runners who run way more miles than I will ever consider.  Running not only up to or over 100 miles for ONE race, but some in the worst conditions one could imagine: the desert conditions of Badwater or running up and down mountains in Leadville.

It's also a history lesson about the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon from Northern Mexico.  A fascinating, somewhat 'primitive', people, whose population is dwindling from the continued invasion of 21st century drug-influenced-government-influence over the Tarahumara's native lands.  Roads are paving their way through the canyon, negatively affecting the trails that are run by these Indian super-runners.  Or worse, converting Tarahumara communities into 'non-primitive' communities and introducing the materials of this day and age to them, another step into extinction of a tribe.

It's also provides insight to the shoe industry, and the technological 'advances' that they have made in providing runners better shoes.  NOT.  But it does provide an amazing amount of research that makes sense to a non-medical-anthropological person like me.

It is so much more than a book about running.  Inspiration.  Determination.  Crazy mother fuckers who run an insane amount of miles.  I loved it and Chris McDougall has a great sense of humor and writing style to make this an easy, enjoyable read.  I loved his self-deprecation as it's something I tend to do...although he's self deprecating about running 50 miles and I tend to do the same for five miles.

Some aspects of the book I enjoyed the most: learning about the engineering of our foot vs. the engineering of those $100 running shoes; neanderthals are actually a parallel species to homo sapiens (us) and were actually, on paper, a superior species to us; Billy and Jenn and their drunken antics that never stopped them from running ultra-distances; how bad SAD - standard American Diet - is (this is the third item that has brought me more attention to this in the past month; more on that in another post); the make-up of cheetahs and jackrabbits; and most of all, the final few chapters bringing to life the greatest race that ever took place: a 50 miler through the canyon with super-athletes from the US, against the Tarahumara Indians.

The end of it made me immensely happy and proud: the local communities excited by this race that was loosely put together by a lone, hermit American living out in the canyon (Caballo blanco - the White Horse), came together to celebrate this race...decorating the town, scattering people throughout the trail to provide water...cheering each person on during the run and then welcoming them as they crossed the finish line.  This touched me so incredibly. 

Two funny parts to the book that I want to mention:
Billy and Jenn, a couple of East Coast ultra-runners, met up with McDougall and a few others to head out to Mexico for this race that Caballo Blanco was putting together.

The young couple drink all night long and Jenn gets rowdy enough that the group is warned that if she doesn't behave, they will be kicked out of the hotel.  Chris and the gang make sure she gets into bed and gets to sleep.  They have an early start to get to Mexico in the AM.

But around 3AM, the front desk calls the room and asks Chris (who answers) to please come down and bring his lady friend back to the room.  He is shocked because she was passed out cold last he knew. 

But nope.  There she was, in the hotel lobby, drunk and nearly naked, after crashing a wedding party.  He got her back into the room around 3:30; 90 minutes before 'get-up-and-go' time.  Chris tells the others to go ahead without him, he'll stay behind and help Jenn and Billy sober up and see if they are able to go.  He left on time.  Billy and Jenn managed to be up and ready to go, as if nothing unusual ever happened the night before.

The other funny story happens during the big race.  Barefoot Ted - a hyper, talkative ultra-runner, nearing the end of the race, runs into Chris, who is struggling against dehydration and fatigue.  He goes on and on about how he pissed into a bottle to save for later, as hydration for the rest of his run.  But when he tasted it, he had a fit:
It was the worst! The worst-tasting urine I've ever tasted in my entire life.  You could bottle this stuff and sell it to bring people back from the dead.  I know you can drink urine, but not if it's been heated and shaken in your kidneys for forty miles.
Perhaps you have to read this to appreciate the hilarity of both these items.  There is so much more packed into these 281 pages.  An amazing novel that's worth your time to read.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Run

No, this wasn't a race.  This was my long run day.  "Long" being a term that doesn't really apply *but* I got some mileage in *and* this is my usual run pattern: three days a week.  

Ahem.  Actually, I was a four day a week runner but I am still taking it easy but dropping one day (besides the mileage).  Plus, with the Leanest Loser *and* my wallyball season starting, I just can't fit in another day.  I mean, I could, but really?  Do I have to be that fanatical about it?  No.

BTW, that is really how my brain talks to itself.

I thought I'd do a run around the Lake...nothing amazing or dramatic.  But I knew Tim could get a run in today so I asked if he'd like to join me.  And while the day continued before my planned run, I had a great idea to have us run to the local Walgreens so I could pick up some pictures I had ordered.  Knock two birds with one stone!
 
According to google maps, the Walgreens would be two miles away, so a nice four mile run for us.  Tim thought it would be too much for him.  I don't know why since he's one of the most cockiest people I've ever known...but whatever.

Weh-he-hell...it was a nasty run: nothing but up going to the store.  Ugh.  Luckily, I was OK going TO walgreens.  Crossing Glenwood, however, is tricky.  I have done this twice before (two runs from my house to Umstead a few years ago) but I don't much care for it.  There is no cross walk for about eight lanes of BUSY traffic.  I recall at least two fatalities in the past for pedestrians.

But we lived to tell the tale.

Got my photos and then we were off to go DOWN HILLS on the way back to the hacienda.  Only by this time, I was a little bit out of steam.  My breathing was heavily labored, my stride was off.  I was just not feeling such joy. 

I was thankful when we finally rounded the corner to the house, because 1) it's downhill and 2) the house was not on fire (we had left CJ home to babysit Mi-Mi).

And as usual for me and most runners, once done with the run, you find satisfaction and think "I did that". 

And today, "I did that" with my sweetheart on Valentine's Day. :)

What Valentine's Day Means to Me

For some of you, this is not the post you expect to read. OK. Who am I kidding? Those that know me will NOT be surprised by this one < begin evil laughter >.

What does Valentine's Day mean to me?
***N***O***T*** the following:
* flowers
* flowers sent to the office so that I can have a pissing contest with other shallow women who feel the need to have their significant others send them flowers at work so they can show off to everyone...meanwhile, bombarding unnecessarily work for the admins for your superficial crap
* chocolates...just kidding. I like chocolate. You can buy that for me anytime hon. But it doesn't mean anymore on Valentine's Day than any other day...or better said: It means just as much to me on Valentine's Day as it does on every other day of the year.
* Hallmark cards - I'd rather have no card than a hallmark card. You bought me the same card that a zillion other shallow women received on Valentine's Day. How very meaningful. Someone else's words spoke for you. Awwww...
* A dinner out - HEY PEOPLE! The restaurants are taking advantage of your stupidity! Valentine's Day "special" equals higher prices. Oh, and talk about overbooking? No time for you to sit and look adoringly in your lover's eyes. GET THE HELL OUT SO WE CAN GET THE NEXT SET OF MORONS TO SIT AT THE TABLE. Go do your lovey-dovey shit somewhere else.

I'll admit. I did receive flowers from Tim on VDay one year. I just KNEW IT WASN'T for me. Because we have a deal: don't send me flowers on VDay. Surprise me on a random day of the year...but not Vday. But I loved it. Not because he sent me flowers on VDay. But because he surprised me.

Nowadays, I am more conscious of the environmental impact of ordering flowers from florists so I would say that I am no longer interested in having flowers delivered to me any day of the year...unless they come from a local garden...better yet, mine.

Nearly every year, for the past 21 years I have been with Tim, I have made a card, poem, something for him. There may have been occasional Hallmark moments, but I was lazy.

But repeating myself with different words: I'd rather get nothing than contribute just because I think I have to. That defeats the purpose of what, to me, Valentine's Day is all about. A special day to remind us of how much we love one another.

So this year, as we do most years, cards have been created. Handmade. Our own sentiments.

And this year, as we do most years, our meal will be homemade. This year we decided a healthy heart meal would be good, with the foods that we enjoy the most. Tim and CJ have fish; me and Mia will have lobster tails.

Oh and I already have some chocolate that I saved up, taking advantage of the VDay candy specials.

In summary, I would like to say to all you women out there that require:
1) Card
2) Flowers
3) Gifts

SHAME ON YOU!! Stop acting so selfish! As if you DESERVE THESE THINGS every February 14th. Forget yourself and start appreciating your significant other and give her/him your heart on this special day. You'll be surprised at how it will be reciprocated without you demanding such crap.*

*Terms and conditions of this statement is based on having a partner who is not a dick or a bitch and actually treats you with love and respect throughout the year.  He or she helps with the household chores, cooks, cleans, instead of shopping, getting nails done, or sitting in a big recliner, watching the latest sports season, drinking beer and just being a big slob of a person.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peter and Vandy

Tim had a date planned with CJ today, to watch Valentine's Day. She wants to see it; I don't. I almost gave in to watching the POS with more overpaid Hollywood stars than I ever want to see in one movie but Mi-Mi is not quite fully recovered from her tummy bug...so while out and about, we decided it was best for me and Mi-Mi to go home and watch movies here while they enjoyed their date. In fact, had we all gone to the movies, if there wasn't anything else to watch, Mi-Mi and I would have sat separately from Tim and CJ.

It worked out for the best...for me. I hate the premise of that movie. Commercialism. Hollywoodism. Cheesyism. Valentineism.

Mi-Mi decided she wanted to see Jaws. Hey, whatever. It's her choice. We got about a third of the way into it when she conked out. This is day four of a tummy bug that started on one end and is, well, you get the picture. She's tired. Her body is tired.

I didn't want to continue to watch Jaws but being close to valentine's, I did think a romantic movie would be fun to watch. I don't know how I happened on it, but I found Peter and Vandy on Netflix (streaming).

These types of movies are the best: surprises. This was sooooo good and very sweet. And best of all? Two people you may never heard of: Jason Ritter and Jess Weixler. PERFECT.

Actually, Jason Ritter happens to be the son of the late John Ritter. He was on short-lived but very funny sitcom called The Class. As Peter (in this movie), he looked almost exactly like Ethan Hawke from Reality Bites.

The movie focuses on Peter and Vandy: a romantic couple. It goes in and out of time, so eventually you figure out the time, but it's a bit of a mystery trying to figure out where things end up at. But it works.

The in-and-out of time goes from the day they met, to their lives together. It's extremely sweet. And at one point, heartbreaking. The key to this movie, IMO, is how well the viewer understands each character. To get to know their character and to feel the emotion behind their relationship, is pretty amazing to do within 80 minutes.

If you are like me and like to watch GREAT MOVIES by people who don't make 6+ figures for shitty movies...people who care about a story instead of "can I sell a zillion tickets with a lame plot?"...then Peter and Vandy is the one for you.

Slowly but Surely

I am getting back into my running routine, albeit slowly. This week will be the first week that I will run at least twice. I am being premature, but my hope is to put my long run in tomorrow. I'll be gearing up for my Run for the Oaks 5K on March 13th.

I've also been eyeing a half marathon to do at the end of Spring. That's when I know I am getting back into my routine, once I start eyeing other races to partake in. We'll see...

But the foot is feeling, well, GREAT! I have no pain. But I have altered the way I wear shoes now. I have rarely worn heels to work. I probably will make sure that on the days that I do run, I will *not* wear heels.

But I am also looking at how I will purchase new running shoes. I have just donated my old shoes to those recycle programs. But I am amidst reading Born to Run and buying into the barefoot running philosophy. No, I am not ready to run barefoot...but I am ready to consider thin-soled shoes...which could have included the shoes that I had just thrown out!

But I am thankful that I am back in the game. I had to stay home Thursday, since Mi-Mi was ailing from a tummy bug. So I didn't want to leave her home alone and didn't make my usual Thursday run. I had nothing planned for Friday so I got my run in then...after debating with myself for a good 15 minutes about whether I should run or not. Getting out of the habit of a common routine can do that to me...but thankfully, the runner girl went for it and I got it in.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Good, the Bad, the Weird and the Ugly

This morning started off pretty good. I got up early enough to *calmly* get ready for work. It would be an early day, as CJ has to be at school by 7:30 and I had a meeting, in which I would be the presenter, at 8 AM.

Anytime I am presenting, I am anxious. Day after day, I chatter and bulldog my way in meetings but they are _other_ people's meetings. Once I have to do something, I get gun-shy.

But things are going well.

Until Mi-Mi rushed off the couch and ran to the bathroom only to throw up before she made it.

I quickly took action, while Tim held on to Mi-Mi, and grabbed paper towels to start cleaning up...only to have her continue and (here's more ugly) splatter all over our floor...and almost ME!

Don't get me wrong, I was extremely worried about her, but I am on the way OUT THE DOOR with no time to spare.

So Tim takes over after we clean up the mess and I'm off.

But not without a hitch. I carry enough things for an octopus but I have but only two hands. All that's necessary is that my driver's side sliding door opens automatically for me with one click of the button...but NOOOO, not TODAY! Not after all that's happened ALREADY. It must not cooperate. So I am shucking bags over the driver's side seat, exasperated at how the morning is going. Is this a sign?

Once I get to CJ's school, the traffic to get to the drop-off point is not too bad. The problem is that the line I get in is a 'turn left' line. And the last time I dropped off, there was a traffic patrol person in control of the flow from either side (turn righters and turn lefters). Apparently that person was sick today because we just continued to sit in the damn line with no progress. So I'm tense already and I just start cursing at everyone ahead of me: GO! THEY'RE LETTING YOU GO!! PAY ATTENTION!!

Course, if they could see me, they would see some maniacal woman screaming in the car at no one in particular.

Drop-off was painful. But I got my big baby girl off in time.

Meetings 1 and 2 go off well. Now it's time for a wallyball game. I pick up my BFF and partner in crime, Kristin, and we're off to the gym. Once there, I grab my bags and shoes...but wait...where the fudge are my shoes??? I swear I knew I left them in the car.

I start slinging stuff in the trunk, panicked: where the hell are my shoes?!?! They will NOT let me play barefoot.

I turned a panicked face to Kristin depicting my despair. But I think: I will find an RFC person and borrow their shoes. I WILL find shoes, even if I have to "borrow" someone's that's just in my view.

When I walked into the locker area, I noticed the recycle bin for old shoes. I made a bee-line for it and found a pair for me: size 9 1/2. I am a size 8. GDit I'm going to force my feet to fit in there.

And I did. They seemed to be fine, except for the big space at the top of the shoe. I only tripped once over my feet...not used to the inch of space that the shoe takes up in my regular stride. So weird but I wasn't going to be defeated by...well, me!

But the good news: we won. We not only won, but we played like we have been playing forever. There's no greater feeling than playing like that: where you feel like you and your partner are in line.

I told Kristin: wow! I never hit like that before, to which she replied that she saw that I hit better when she set me away from the net and in the middle. And it was true because I believe every hit I made well was right where she said it was. I was so impressed that she could "read" that from our game.

So there it was, a good way to have the bad and the ugly go away from my system. For that, I had to do it. I had to tweet this, and I doubt I'll find a better tweet in my life:

two things I learned today about myself: I like it "in the middle and back" and 9 1/2 maybe a little too big, but I can make it work.

BTW, it would be perfect had I separated "may" and "be"...that does bother me that I didn't do this grammatically correct. So even with a perfect tweet, I still can't be satisfied.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Favorite Pizza

I have a lot of favorites:

The meat pie (don't remember the name) from Lilly's Pizza.
The pepperoni and mushroom from Schiano's...and yes,
the Brooklyn Style pepperoni and mushroom from Domino's.

But at home, there are a couple of favorites I love to make. One is a chicago-style sausage pizza...but most often, this vegetarian pizza is made. I thought I would share it today.
This is my Spinach, Mushroom, Tomato and Garlic pizza. I love everyone of those ingredients and I can add as much of the ingredients as I want, which is *a lot*.

So the first thing I do is saute thinly sliced garlic, about four to six cloves, depending on how big they are, in olive oil. I use about three or more tablespoons of olive oil. NOTE: All of this is eyeballed. I am guesstimating the amounts. I do amounts according to how much I want.

Once sauteed, I take a brush and brush garlic infused olive oil onto my pizza crust. On top of that, I place the individual garlic pieces throughout the pizza. The pizza crust varies from Boboli, Pillsbury refrigerated crust, or my own recipe. The best? My own recipe. The quickest? Boboli. In the picture below, this would be the refrigerated Pillsbury version:

Depending on how I feel, I grate Parmesan cheese on top of the garlic.

Then I pour off any remaining garlic-infused olive oil and saute a whole box (8 oz) of sliced mushrooms (I usually slice whole mushrooms) in the pan. I may have to buy a bigger box because I now have to share the sliced mushrooms with my kids. I. LOVE. MUSHROOMS. Pure ecstasy for me. But because I love my kids, I give them a few. But I would put a whole box of mushrooms on my pizza. Here is what it looks like after sharing...if I had my choice, I would cover it with mushrooms:


Next comes the spinach. I can saute it or put it on fresh, again, depending on my mood. Today, I sauteed the spinach in batches in some of the garlic oil I saved after the garlic was sauteed. I use almost an entire bag of spinach, save two handfuls:

Tomatoes go on last. I like to think that any juice from the tomatoes drain down to cook the spinach (which is why I sometimes put it on without sauteing). I usually use romas, cut thinly, but today I had regular tomatoes that I diced:

A little salt and pepper on the tomatoes, I love salt on my tomatoes, so I think that's what brings the best flavor out. Then I top it off with cheese. I usually use whatever is left in the fridge. Today was mozzarella and sharp cheddar:

After about 15 minutes in an oven heated to 400 degrees, this is what I end up with:

If you love spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic as much as Tim and I do, you will LOVE this pizza!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Name Calling

So my post on being compared to a CARTOON CHARACTER brought back memories of some names I have been called as a kid.

In fact, somehow it came up with my kids last night, to which they laughed hysterically about the names I was called. It's quite silly now but at the time, it was devastating. I stayed up many a night tormented by my deformed body. If only I could now convey to my own kids, or to young kids, to say "fuck you" to the name callers.

OK. Maybe not the f bomb, but the attitude that's behind those two words is what I would love to "give" my kids. Forget what they say. They don't know jack. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about yourself.

First off, my nose has been a target nearly my entire childhood. I come from a mixed race family: my mom pure Filipino and my dad, white American. I ended up with "his" nose: more pointed than my mom's less pointy nose.

This is a big deal in my Filipino family and throughout my childhood years, I endured constant pinching of the nose. You know how people pinch cute kids' cheeks? That's what my nose was to my relatives.

I hated it. It was so annoying. And yet I could do nothing about it. I was already labeled a brat so making any other bratty face just added to my reputation.

But one day...I got a nosebleed after a nose pinch. It could have been coincidence. It could have been a result of the nose pinch. But I was so happy that it happened. Maybe nose pinching would end.

And it did shortly after, but as I say, karma can be a bitch. What happened next is that my nose "led" my legacy.

I became known as "Nose 1" and my BFF, Karen, was "Nose 2". All because our noses were "big".

This was further backed up by a random few folks who claimed I resembled Barbara Streisand. Yes, you are dumbfounded. But when I was a tweenager, I was told by many people how much I looked like her. In hindsight, I think my face hadn't caught up with the growth of my nose and perhaps for a finite amount of time, I may have resembled her. I never thought I did. And I was heartbroken to think I would look like her...but tried hard to find her good qualities (I did :)) so that I wouldn't feel so bad.

The "Nose 1" stuck for awhile. But "chicken legs" lasted for a short time.

Sixth grade track and field day, I came with my shorts and shirt, ready to participate in mandatory track and field day. Side note: if only I loved running then as much as I do now...a totally different outcome.

But I didn't and I still remember running those little races and running as hard as possible, only to end up near the end of the pack. It was disheartening. But what traumatized me were the fellow boys who laughed at my legs and called them "chicken legs". I had never been made fun of before and I had always wore dresses or shorts that showed off my legs, so what was different that day?

If only I had the attitude I have now. I would have known they were just being silly. But what happened was I never wore shorts in public again. It wasn't until I was in the states, at a totally different school, two plus years later, when teen boys were actually gawking at my legs, did I feel certain that my legs were not "chicken legs".

The other name I had, along with "Nose 1", was "butt" or "big butt". My name callers were not very inventive with their names... But when I came on the school bus, I would hear either "There's Nose 1 and Nose 2" or just "big butt".

I was so worried about the way I walked. Did I stick my already big butt out more? How can I make it look smaller? The worst part was when someone stuck my big butt into the trashcan at school...along with the rest of me.

Oh sure. We thought it was funny...or at least I pretended it was funny. But I felt like one deformed girl: chicken legs, holding up a big butt, with a big pointy nose.

I won't even mention, what I call my Voltes V (roman numeral five) that I have on my forehead. TO THIS DAY, it flares up when I get flushed or mad. I don't know who called me that but it still can embarrass me -- only slightly -- to this day.

The rest I am *so* over.