Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Healthy Dose of Vitamin P is Dinner Good Enough for Me

The Setting: Settling into a rainy afternoon following a sunny and productive day of errands, chores, tennis, and reading by the pool.

The Soundtrack: Ask This Old House on PBS...though I'm wishing it were It's Complicated on DVD. That movie gets better every time I watch it, but Hoosband is not as freakishly eager to test the replay capabilities of DVDs as I am, so I won't put him through that.

On the Stovetop and Steaming up the Oven: Homemade Bread for the week; Black Beans, Carnitas, and Homemade Corn Tortillas for tonight.

The Scenario: Making the most of the last days of summer.

Hoosband must return to work in a week or so, and the reality of another year in the trenches with the Faces of Tomorrow is setting in. The foreignness of concepts like Accountability, Responsibility, Respect for others, and Work is as prolific among this crowd as their eager embracing of iPhones, free lunches, new shoes, and a general sense of entitlement. But that's another topic for another day, or a memoir best penned by another.

I am glad to have a few more days of stay-at-home Hoosband before he reclaims his primary breadwinner status, and I am glad that we have come to some decisions about the future.

This draft may be a so-light-it's-barely-blue-print, but it's good enough for me, good enough for now.

Hoosband's date with the GRE did not go as well as we had expected. His scores were quite good, certainly better than mine would have been had I been in the hot seat, infinitely better than average, but not good enough.

As we considered the next step--to take the test again? to scrap all PhD plans?--we tentatively concluded that five years toward a PhD was five years holding us back from making more money, starting a business, starting a family, The Dream.

Why not take the same five years, complete a one-year Master's program, pop out thoroughly employable for quasi-interesting and high-paying jobs, obtain such theoretically stimulating employment, and start that sixth year with a baby fund and a business plan?

The PhD would make sense if it and its direct results were an end in themselves. But we have bigger plans; we are looking for means to a veritable cornucopia of ends.

So we went to bed early last Saturday, set the alarm for an hour when roosters don't crow, and set tires to Gainesville so I could spend my day off making peace with would likely be our land of Master's-seeking opportunity.

We drove around town and dined at a charming bistro a few miles off campus where I savored one of the best salads of my life, and by the last bite of fudgey German Chocolate Cake, I was convinced a year in Gainesville was the way to go.

I received my own "Way to go" when I was greeted at work on Monday with an extra dollar-per-hour on my paycheck.

I knew there was the chance that my recent job review could mean a review of wage, but I wasn't convinced my review was good enough to equate to a raise.

Here's to Good Enough!

To celebrate slightly formed plans and slightly more money, pork will be necessary. A fatty cut with oodles of connective tissue to be coaxed into submission in a long and gentle oil bath in the oven.

Hunks of velvety-tender flesh will fall into a fiery-hot skillet and sizzle till they can in good conscious be called Carnitas.

Black beans will be their companion.

Soft, flat-pressed yet pillowy, homemade corn tortillas will be their final resting ground, as they are adorned with freshly diced onion, tomato, cilantro, roasted poblano, and a squeeze of lime, and then devoured.

A last lick of the salty rim, a final drop of tequila and lime, and Bedtime.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The Setting: Gazing out the window at my thriving basil plant whose vibrant green vitality strikes an enchanting balance with the calming wave of the palm frond lounging lazily over the terra-cotta-colored stucco of my apartment framed by "it's a boy!"-colored skies and marshmallow-cream clouds....

The Soundtrack: Tap, tap, tapping of computer keys, as my own and my husband's create a disorganized symphony of hope and possibility.

Steaming up the Oven: Technically nothing, but I've got the idea of some no-cook Pumpkin Pie Truffles burning a hole in my head, and I'm about to do something about it.

The Scenario: Tomorrow, tomorrow....

Tomorrow my husband will take the GRE, and when he leaves the testing facility, he will have his unofficial scores, and a pretty good idea of which schools and programs are legitimate possibilities.

Tomorrow I will have my job review, and when I leave work, I will have either a shiny, happy glow of success or an overwhelming sense of meaninglessness and doom--give or take some slight hyperbole.

I am in love with the company I work for, but I don't want to be in my current position forever. It is challenging and exciting in all the right ways, but I am restless and too capitalistic to be fully content doing the same thing for long.

Still, with the knowledge that this time next year I could be packing for Cambridge or New Haven or Chicago, it's hard to think too much about climbing the company ladder.

I already lose sleep thinking about work: nightmares flood my mind with thoughts of lost margins, excess spoilage, failure to comply with company programs, or my most legitimate concern, forgetting one more time to actually clock-in.

At work I am a machine, or at least this is my goal. Efficient, effective, whatever I have to be to put a check next to as many items on my worklist as possible, this is what I strive for. There is never enough time in the day.

My daydreams, when I can squeeze them in, are brief flashes of the things I really want: recipes to try, stories to write, languages to learn, classes to take, places to go, parties to throw, puppies to housebreak, businesses to start, boats to sail, fitness to achieve, and somewhere vying for space on the list, children to conceive. Is there ever enough time in a life?

I hope so.

I hope my job review goes well because I enjoy my job, and I am especially fond of affirmation.

I hope my husband's test goes well tomorrow because he deserves affirmation as much as I, and, impersonal though they may be, numbers can be pretty affirming.

Mostly I hope that tomorrow brings, in one form or another, a sense of proactivity and nextness.

I'm really not all that into change, but I'm getting restless here in Limbo.