A letter to my parents

My life did not really begin until I moved to South Seattle in 2006.  I was 35 years old and finally started to live my life as my authentic self.  I started to only do things that I felt matched my belief system and only included people into it that I deemed uplifting.  I am grateful for the past that helped me find my true self, I am just sad it took me 35 years to find her.

Dear Mom

I am separating these letters because they address different things.  Mom, I am addressing you first because you were the one who was most prevalent in my life.  You were the nurturer and the counselor.  First off I apologize if this seems cutting and cruel. As part of my healing I need you to know and understand exactly how I feel and the pain I have gone through.

In the past I have blamed you for many things.  I blamed you for not being a good parent, for being abusive and neglectful.  I blamed you for forcing me to do things that were not in my best interest but most of all I blamed you for this sense of guilt that I carry with me over the things that were truly out of my control, yet i felt responsible.  I always thought you loved my sister more than me, I blamed you for giving up on my brother and for doing everything to control my life until I left home.

In the end it was not all your fault, I see that now.  I want to address some specifics.  Things that I found most painful and tell you how they affected me.  You always told me to reign in my rebellious spirit.  You even told family, friends and the pastors about my rebellion.  What you did not really understand was that rebellion is part of who I am.  I was not rebelling against you necessarily, but against those things I viewed as wrong in the world.  I found that suppression of my spirit so painful and stifling.  What you may not have realized, this caused me to hate myself,  I have low self-confidence because that voice in the back of my head that says reign in your rebellion.  I now see most of my actions as rebellion and a bad thing.  I often fall asleep thinking of myself as a bad person.  I do not trust my intuition and I tried for years to fit in because that was what was expected.  It took me moving away and not telling anyone for 6 months where I went to get any sense of place and belonging.

I tried for years to be a good Christian.  Going to church often, praying and putting money I could not afford into the tithes.  I tried to have faith in this imaginary being in the sky.  I tried so hard to connect, but could never find that connection, I faked it often.  I always felt that I was not ever going to be good enough.  This stems not from you so much as from the church.  I do not know if you were ever told about that night of the New Year’s Eve party at Jim and Cathy’s home?  I arrived with my sister and all the cool kids were outside in the street singing and being obnoxious because they were all drunk.  They were at the party with the pastor but they were all drunk.  I met a new kid that night, much younger than me.  He and his brother had moved in over Christmas break and they did not know anyone or anything about the town we lived in.  I told him there was a park near the school.  He was shocked he had no idea there was a park.  I took him down the road showed him the park and the school, it was still light out at that point.  I guess I should have told the someone where I was going, but the cool kids were all outside drinking, like anyone was paying attention to me?   I got back and Cathy grabbed me by the neck and threw me into the back bedroom.  She screamed at me and told me if I left the house again she was going to call my mom and tell her what a whore I was.  I was still a virgin and those words stung so deep.  I knew she was going to tell you something happened and I would get beat for it anyway so I had my first sexual encounter that night.  Rumors spread fast after that.  Not that the boys at school needed any more ammunition.  To this day I have an open view of sex and sexuality.  I have been called a whore so often that it does not even bother me anymore.

The next thing to address is how much I resented you for not hearing me.  I used to think you just liked to see me in pain, but now 30 years later I realize maybe you just could not hear my cries for help.  I begged to go live with relatives, I begged to move out of our school district, I even took a half day class through a college program just to escape.  You see the cries you did not hear were from daily abuse.  I was sexually assaulted daily and harassed so much that I gained weight after high school in an attempt to hide any form of attractiveness.  I married the first man who showed enough interest in me.  I never really loved him, but I needed to escape.  I married because I was basically told that was my only option.  I do not even know if those words were ever uttered, but the idea was embedded in my head so deep I could not let go of it and see the bigger picture.  I always thought this was another form of  your trying to control me, to make me submissive, by making me finish school in a place that tortured me daily.  I had one moment when you stood up for me, but that was more standing up for yourself as a parent, but I did appreciate you telling the counselor that I did not wear inappropriate clothes and you would not allow them to tell me my clothes were why people treated me like that.  It was just over half-way through my junior year, I think, maybe my senior year.  And yes you were right, I got more and more rebellious the closer I got to my 18th birthday, because I saw a way to escape.  I finally could walk away from the constant abuse.

Sadly that did not stop even after I left home.  Men at the bar I worked at would touch me and try to stick their hands up my dress.  That was the point I started to gain weight, I though I was pregnant and they seemed to back off quite a bit.  It gave me some power back.  Being fat gave me a tiny bit of power.  I do not know if you knew that my husband’s father was a little touchy feely with me as well. It is amazing I am not some kind of drug addict to be honest.

The final thing I want to address is when I was fighting my ex for custody, you said something that cut so deep, I never thought I would speak to you again.  It was part of the reason I moved away and told no one where I went.  You told me maybe the kids would be better off with my ex.  I seemed to want my freedom and they seemed better off with him.  What you did not know is that he is mentally abusive and Jessica was going to suffer the same low self-esteem issues I did if I allowed him to bully her over every aspect of who she is.  You cavalier attitude about my custody battle and your lack of support hurt so bad.  In the end I know it was more about putting my nephew back with my sister.  You always made me feel like you thought I stole her kids from her.  Here is a big piece of myself I am going to share.  I do no like kids, I never wanted them.  I resented you telling people who I had my nephew not because I stood up and took on the responsibility, but because my sister made the best choice for him.  I took on a child that had attachment issues, one that could not build a bond with me.  I struggled with him every single day and you made me feel like a failure about it all the time.  You made her to be the saint and me to be the child thief.  That probably hurt the most.  You could not or would not acknowledge that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took on a responsibility that was not my own.  One I was not prepared for.

In the end I am done playing the victim.  I am done blaming you for the pain I have suffered. I am letting it go.  I finally realize that some of that pain was not your fault.  It was not that you wanted me to suffer in pain, it was that you were unable to hear my cries.  Maybe you were too busy dealing with your own pain, maybe you were too busy trying to be a good Christian, or maybe you just were not able to hear, whatever the case, I am letting it go.  I do want you to know that you were right, if you had divorced dad and he had moved away, I would have gone with him.  It was never really you that I was trying to escape, it was the pain inflicted on me by my peers, my pastor and the school.  I was trying to escape that little hell hole as fast as I could.  I do not know if you realize that coming home causes me to physically be sick each time?  I get anxiety and fear overwhelms me just driving in that general direction.  It took finally escaping to understand how much pain I went through.

Dear Dad:

Since you were gone more often than not this is a short letter.  I feel my relationship with you is much stronger than the one I have with mom.  But you are not blameless in this pain I suffered.  I resent being lied to. I have you to thank for that.  You were always a chronic liar, I suppose it was not your fault.  I resent being called a liar, and there were times you allowed mom to go off on me and you knew I was telling the truth.  Like the time there was a beer bottle on the car floor.  It was yours, you told me so and asked me why I did not toss it out when I found it?  Because it was not mine and I did not want anyone seeing me with it in my underage hands, that is why I did not toss it out.  Or the time my sister took all your change and there was a ton of it, and I got blamed for it.  I ran away and was gone for hours that day, because no one believed me.  Every time a car drove by I dove into the brush or ditch to not get caught.  I know that you cannot help your lying, but allowing me to be accused of infractions I did not commit is deplorable.

Another thing I want to address is your lack of support.  You just allowed mom to assume the worst about me.  You allowed her to deny me things based on her warped perception.  To top it all off you partied for years with the kids I went to high school with when I was not allowed.  Do you think this helped my self-esteem issues or the ongoing abuse?  Hell no it did not.  I got to hear about what a cool guy my dad was every Monday.  How my dad drank with them all and partied like a high schooler.  You made friends with my abusers.  You allowed them to tell me how cool you were while they sexually assaulted me daily.  I never told you about this because you were so distant and you seemed to not really care about us.

The final thing is you moved in with my ex boyfriend.  The man who owed me a ton of money for supporting him for two years.  You betrayed my trust.  How could I ever trust you after taking that idiot in?  Do not worry you were not the only one, my best friend did the same thing.  As did another friend who allowed him to hide something of value at their home so I could not sell it, who the hell needs a $600 weed whacker?  Yeah he was supposed to pay mom back for a car she sold us, but instead the fucking idiot buys a $600 weed whacker!  Yeah I am still resentful because mom held that over my head for a long time.

Ultimately I guess you never heard my cries, because you were too busy being anywhere but home.  You were too busy being cool.  But I forgive you, you had your own stuff to deal with.  I just have a hard time accepting that you might have slept with some high school classmates, and that makes me feel very creeped out.  Sorry but it does.  It also makes me wonder if some of my abuse was a direct result of your actions?  I will never know really.  Because even if you told me the truth I probably would think you were lying.  We all reap what we sow.

So mom and dad, I am done blaming you.  I am done playing the victim.  I need to take back control.  I need to let go of the pain and let go of the past.  This does not mean I am coming home, because it never truly felt like home.  I always felt like a foreigner in an unforgiving land.  What this means is that I am letting go of my anger and blame.  I cannot heal and move forward until I do this.  I am moving on, you are no longer going to clog my energy.  I love you both, and I wish you the best.  I thank you for raising me to adulthood and just so you know all that abuse and all that pain made me a very strong person.  I have a refusal to give up that just never stops.  I still have self-esteem issues and a lack of faith in my own decisions, but I never stop fighting for those I feel are abused, and that is all due to my pain and suffering growing up.

I just wanted you to know that I forgive you, for things you probably had no idea I blamed you for, because as I said, you probably could not hear my cries.


Finding the courage to call for help

So here I am still struggling.  I take not being able to get hired very personally.  I guess the fact that I am middle-aged and have no current job speaks volumes to employers.  I just wish I did not have to stress on this.  I want to work, I want to have an income, but more importantly I want a sense of purpose.  If I had confidence in myself and my ability to build up my own business I would likely take that route, but I fear failure more than stagnation.  This is starting to take its toll on my health and mental health.  I fear soon it will start to wreak havoc on my relationship.


Well I finally took the steps needed to secure a counselor.  I have 3 free sessions, so I hope that is enough.  The counselor I will be seeing sent me a slew of registering paperwork.  One was this huge questionnaire.  As I sat down to fill it out, I started out being pretty general.  As it got more in-depth I realized that I need to be honest if I wanted help.  I had to be honest with myself and with the counselor, even with Richard.  I put honesty above all else, except when I am dealing with myself.  I have been down this road of unemployment before.  It is a struggle, it is stressful and it makes me crazy.

As I filled out that questionnaire I found myself looking at my behavior in the past month and I noticed something familiar.  When I lost my job after my divorce and faced losing my home I began to drink often, and to excess.  It helped numb my feelings.  It helped avoid dealing with reality.  It helped me pretend life was happy and I was ok.  This was all a lie.  I am seeing this behavior again.  The difference this time is that I have someone stable to support me through it and I am not responsible for two children.  I examined myself and found that I was not coping but covering up.  I know that this is not helpful and eventually you end up having to face the issue and then it is often so big it becomes insurmountable.

In my packet I was honest about this.  I admit that I use food and/or alcohol as a way to hide from my pain.  I also admitted that I am still hurt by my lack of friendships in the area.  In the end I have taken the first step in getting help, I reached up and asked for it.

For the next few months I am trying to cut back my alcohol intake and focus on better coping mechanism.  Hopefully this counselor can help me navigate all the pent-up emotions I have been burying.

Learning to co-exist.

I often pride myself as being super accepting and non-judgmental.  I take pride in this considering my upbringing from a super religious Pentecostal and judgmental.  For me to look beyond the outside of a person and see them for who they are is a great stride for me.  I grew up in an almost exclusively white background.  I grew up in a small-town with a small-town mentality.

I used to look down on my sister, who was a drug-addict.  I raised one of her sons from diapers to adulthood.  I raised the other one from 2-5 while she served her time in prison.  I looked down on her for her poor choices.  My mother always defended her and I resented that.  She never stopped supporting my sister, which is great from a parent.  But, she never admitted her faults, which is not so great as a parent.  I still resent these things.  I guess I resent that my mother never supported me like she did my sister, who in my eyes was forever a screw-up and left her problems for others to fix.  (My sister is now clean and sober and doing very well, but the emotional trauma is still felt.)  There, this is my one judgment that I cannot let go of.  I cannot forgive and move on, I guess until someone recognizes the sacrifices I made and the struggles I went through.  If that even makes sense.


I brought up my past to understand my present.  I do not often realize that I carry the past into my present.  I cannot separate where I came from, as much as I want to, I cannot.  I was raised small-minded, slightly bigoted and very judgmental.  I can reign those aspects in but I am often unaware of them, so sometimes I need it pointed out to me.

This week I was privileged to attend a Diversity and Inclusivity training.  Several revelations came out of this.  I have issues with people who I perceive as having wronged me and cannot move past those aspects.  I have a need for an apology.  Without this acknowledgement I cannot move forward.  It is a long dated hurt from my childhood.  So kudos to the training for allowing me to find that perspective.  But there is oh so much more.

One of the things touched on that I wish would have been a focus was intent vs. impact.  This one hit the ball right out of the ball-field for me.  Intent of your words are not relevant to the impact they make.  In a situation where someone from a culturally different background feels hurt by something you say, your intent does not matter.  If you try to defend the statement, which is often exactly what I do, it only words to invalidate the person’s feelings.  This is where all the good deeds in your life can just fall flat.  If you invalidate the feelings of anyone you are essentially saying that your feelings are wrong.  You took my words and made them something they are not.  In reality a simple apology is all that is needed.  An apology is so much more important than an explanation.


For the longest time I thought things that I said, which were coming from a place of love and admiration were interpreted as such.  The reality was they were offensive and hurtful.  I had no idea.  The sadness I felt is likely nothing to the pain I had inflicted.  And worse than the pain was the fact that I then tried to justify and quantify my statements.  In reality I should have just said, “Man I am really sorry that I hurt your feelings, it was not intended and I apologize for that.”   If the person then asks you to explain what you meant, this is your opportunity to then quantify your statement.  Unless they ask for this, your intention is not important.  The impact is what you need to focus on.

So in my need for an apology it is more about the impact of actions and words than the intention.  The intention may have been from a place of love, the impact bruised me to my core.  Justifying the intension only serves to invalidate my feelings.  All this does is deepen the hurt.  The impact is what drives the pain and anger, not the intention.  This rings true for intercultural relations as well.  Saying people are just too sensitive only serves to invalidate a real hurt.  There are those who just think people need to suck it up and move on, which is something I did, but that only serves to fester that hurt.  Without addressing it, it most often sits in the person and fester into a real burden.

I feel more at ease now.  I finally understand not only my own feelings but how to apply this understanding to my interactions with others.  This is not just about the cultural other, but about the other in general.  The most important thing for me is that I am the other.  Because I know exactly how much words hurt, I am the other, so if I am hurting someone with my words, no matter the intent, I am hurting myself.  I have never intended on hurting others, so if I have said anything that seemed hurtful or disrespectful to you, I apologize.  I feel an immense amount of pain when I find out I hurt someone.  My intention was never to hurt anyone nor was it to create hostility in any way.

Much of the daily struggles we have is that we seek equality but we fail to see the difference between equality and equity.  You see equity is a fair distribution of resources.  Equality is equal distribution.  There is a great picture here.  The thing that we as aid workers should really be focusing on is the systemic barrier that creates the inequality in the first place.  The system is not fair, so instead of focusing on creating equality we need to focus on the systemic barriers that can be broken down.  If we are truly going to find peace we need to start not only with finding words to express ourselves without a negative impact.  The second step is to be vigilant about recognizing the systemic barriers and trying to break them down.  Without recognizing the inequity in the World, we can never move those who are pushed out back into the strength of society.

You can never quite outrun your past, but you can overcome it.

I hate this.  Just before a major change in my life, I meditate on how I got here.  It is not intentional and I cannot help it.  It invades my dreams and my thoughts randomly.  It is like I cannot escape yet it really has no effect on my current situations.

Most notable are my past relationships.  I want to point out here that in no way am I sad by the end of those relationships.  But they sometimes haunt my thoughts.  Why?  Most likely because without the struggles and the abuse of my past I would not be at this very juncture in my life.  I would not have moved forward this far.  I would not have found my voice and my strength.  I would not have found the courage to pursue my dreams. So this post is not looking at specific incidents but more at the result of those incidents.

What most of us forget is that our struggles make us who we are.  Without struggles our lives never grow, we simply exist.  It was one of the most frustrating things about growing up religious that I encountered.  So here is where it begins, my childhood, which I resent passionately.  I resent being force-fed religion and being bullied into submission if I questioned what I was being fed.  I often think about how during my church days the pastors always suggested to me that my struggles were do to lack of faith on my part, or lack of full commitment.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I never waver, I am either all in or not at all.  There is no fence.  It was often suggested that my life would be perfect and struggle free if I would tithe and get more involved.  I tried to get more involved but I was never quite good enough.  Tithing is difficult when you have no money for food for your kids.  Paying the church $200 a month could mean living on Ramen or having real fresh food for that month.  Trust me I tried to have faith in that, but it pained me to see my children suffer.  In many places that should be considered child abuse.

Think about this fairy tale for a moment.  The perfect life, free of struggle is yours if you struggle right now.  Ok so life without struggle, what does that look like?  I envisioned a life where kids are perfect, money is never an issue, you have a home and reliable transportation and you go to tennis lessons.  You sit down as a family, there is not conflict, life if like Leave it to Beaver!  Think about this for a moment, would you be happy in this life?  A life that is predictable and boring?  A life that is just too perfect to be real?  I would and it took me until my 30’s to realize that this life was not only a fairy tale but also just plain damn boring.  Without struggles we become complacent.  If there is not challenge there is not reason to strive to improve.  If we are handed the perfect life, then what is left?  I imagine Heaven to be a very boring place.  No struggles, no challenges, how very well  perfect to be frank.  How perfectly boring.

So I embrace the struggles of life.  Not knowing if you can pay the bills, not knowing if you will be able to eat today, these struggles are a little harsh.  Yet they cause us to be creative to learn to trust ourselves.  These struggles give us strength and allow us to realize how much we can carry.  In those days I used to say to myself, I am not Job.  I do not want to be pressured this hard, I cannot carry the burden.  What I did not realize is that I could handle the pressure but the dream was a fairy tale.  When you realize that the goal is not attainable, you give up hope.  What your really need to do is figure out what it is that is attainable, and reset our goals.  It is this weird trap, you set yourself up for the perfect life, which you will never be able to attain.  You fail, you lose all hope and you give up.  When you find yourself in this space it is time to realize that society set you up for it.  Whether it be religious leaders or societal leaders, they guide you to this unattainable goal.  They make it look perfect and happy, but the reality is, it is never going to be reality.  It is a way to keep us in line.  If we start to question these ideas we become dangerous to the underlying norms.

This was probably my biggest lesson.  When I made another decision or went into another relationship the goal was ultimately the same.  To get to that perfect life.  Even those times I chose the baddest boy I could find, the goal was to gain that perfect life.  The choices I made were also a bit of rebellion at that goal.   I did not want to achieve it in the traditional paths.  I wanted the perfect life, but I wanted it on my terms.  I have since learned that my terms will never get that perfect life anymore than the traditional paths.

Once you move past those realities you begin to see things more clearly.  This is the gift of my past.  Those struggles and failed relationships enabled me to move past this fairy tale goal.  They helped me find my true passion and my real goals.  Without those struggles I would still be seeking that fairy tale.  I would still be hoping for Prince Charming and  little house with a white picket fence.  I would still be expecting that perfect struggle free life, instead I seek out adventure.  My life now is about living not waiting.  It is about adventure and learning and growing as a human and not about seeking the perfectly boring life.  My life is now about the Journey not the destination.  The journey itself is the goal.  It took me a very long time to realize that, it took me through abusive partners, partners who took financial advantage of me, partners who never considered my goals or desires, but I made it.  I made it to the point of having the best partner I could ever ask for.  A partner who supports my dreams.  A partner who loves me for who I am and is not afraid to let me fly.  I would not change anything about my life, except maybe how long it took me to learn the lessons I needed to from the bad relationships I have been in.  Sometimes letting go is the only way to learn to fly!

I learned everything from Little Golden Books!

I bet you remember these from your childhood.  These great illustrated little books with the fun gold binding.  These books that told fairy tales, helped us learn our alphabet and numbers, colors and shapes.  These little books that had an entire collection about bible stories and church.  These little books that I loved as a child, so much that I found them in boxed sets for my children.


I grew up with them, my children did too.  As I have stated before I do not buy gifts these days.  I have never as an adult bought presents for my mom, or at least not many.  My mom tried to guilt me in claiming that I ruined Christmas for her, when the reality was she drove me away.  That is probably my mother’s worst fault, never accepting responsibility for her emotional state.  She has a horrible habit of pushing blame on everyone else for her sadness.

My mother has finally accepted that I do not want gifts for Christmas, I hope my partner’s parents understand that as well.  This year for the first time in years I had a couple of gifts to unwrap for the holiday.  I am glad they were small gifts and not extravagant items.  I am simplistic and try to keep my life that way.

My mother has spent Christmas with my sister for the past decade.  I do not mind, we lived in a City my mother hates to drive to.  This year I saw something that I could not pass up for my mother.  Actually I found two similar items and my mother’s birthday is today, so I got her a gift for both Christmas and her birthday.  I called her last night to see if she understood the gift.  She said she was so excited to open it.  She and my sister sat down and looked through it and talked about all the memories it brought back.  What was it, you ask?  It was a compilation “Little Golden Book”.  “Everything I need to know about Christmas, I learned from Little Golden Books”, was apparently the best present ever.  My mother also grew up on Little Golden Books, and the illustrations brought back many memories for her and my sister.  I am sad that she did not open the second one that night as well.  The second one is “Everything I need to know, I learned from Little Golden Books.”


She loved the first one, she will love the second one, she just won’t have my sister there to share it with.  It was actually a thought in my head when I saw the books at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago.  I saw them and thought immediately of my mom and then of my children.  I got home and surprisingly was remorseful for not buying them for my mom.  I immediately went online and found them at half the price on Amazon, and they deliver.  I really wish I could have put an inscription inside the covers for her, I hope she at least keeps the cards inside of them.  My mom and I do not have much of a relationship, but she is my mom and I do love her.  For all the times she has made me feel like a lesser person, for questioning my motives and my decisions, I still love her.  For the times she made me feel like she hated me and favored my sister, I still love her.   For the years of emotional torment that was partially real and partially put forth in my own mind, I still love her.  For all the times she told me things, that no daughter should ever know about her parents, I still love her, I hate her for that as well, it is a slippery slope on that one.


In the end, no matter what relationship you have with your mom, she is and always will be your mom.  Sometimes it helps to move far away.  To only have letters and phone conversations makes the sharp edges of rejection much less painful.  Keeping my distance makes the good memories so much better.  And that is the best gift I can ever receive.

Thanksgiving with a twist.

For the past 5 or 6 years I have spent my Thanksgiving with the people I love the most.  Not my family, but the family I have found support in.  This year I was supposed to be in Africa, but that changed.  So I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my chosen family in Sacramento with my chosen partner in crime.  He is on call today.  This means he could have to leave at any moment for any sort of cable outage.  He cannot drink, and for us, drinking is a huge part of our holiday.  I know we are supposed to sit down and talk about all the things we are thankful for, but seriously we should be thankful every single moment of every single day!  Why set aside one day a year to show people we love them and are glad they are in our lives?

Being a vegetarian, I obviously do not eat turkey.  Being that it is just the two of us, if I made a turkey, Richard would have to consume 5 times his weight in bird goo!  I wanted to make a decadent meal.  As a person who probably should have become a chef but never realized it, I look forward to events where I am able to show off my culinary finesse.  I sometimes even make up reasons to do so!  This year was no exception, except for the fact that my kitchen is really not set up for any sort of baking.

We started off our day with my favorite, french pressed coffee and a few glasses of water.  My coffee is one of my favorite rituals.  I hand grind my beans and then put them in the french press.  I add a teaspoon of organic vanilla extract, not the imitations stuff.  I also add a teaspoon of nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves, I then add the water and allow it to “brew”.  I have been thinking that I might change-up my spices and try cardamom.   I then use a coconut creamer.  I savor every last drop of this magical blend and I never have to add sweetener to it.  One of my greatest joys in life is a cup of coffee as I look out my window.


I was going to make breakfast, but that just did not really happen.  Instead I proceeded to make this Hungarian dish called a Galette.  I got the recipe from Eating Well Magazine, November/December 2014.  This was delicious and I told Richard after he ate a couple of pieces that it had chard on it.  He was surprised, he does not like chard, normally.  I thought this dish was delicious, although I did not have ricotta so I subbed in cottage cheese and used just a few teaspoons. Sometimes you have to be inventive.  I did not have a food processor or a hand mixer so I used a blender, which required some holding in the air and tipping in different directions, not something I would recommend.  Also when the dough needed to be rolled out, I used a glass jar full of flour to replace a rolling-pin. Sometimes you just use what you have.  While that was cooking I set out a bit of brie and goat cheese with crackers. I also warmed up my pumpkin dip.  This was made by roasting a very small pumpkin two days before and the night before peeling and blending it with ground cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, green onions and a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese.  It turned out brilliant!  We snacked all day on these items.


After noon I pulled out my Sangria.   I prepared it the night before, with a bottle of red table wine, some bourbon, orange juice and some fruity limeade.  I also dropped a chopped persimmon, lemon, fresh mint and lime into the mix.  This morning I dropped an apple core from the kale salad in it and some triple sec.  Richard had the same combination without the liquor.


Yesterday I did the unthinkable!  I beat some meat to a thin tender pulp.   Richard wanted schnitzel instead of traditional dinner.  So I picked out  a nice pork loin and I beat it down.  The funny thing is, I do not have a meat tenderizer.  I had to compromise and use a sturdy pint glass.  I must say this works very well.  Once the meat is beat down I dredged it through flour and wrapped it up in the fridge overnight.


I cooked down some veggie broth with some shiitake mushroom bits in it for a very long time this afternoon.  This was the base for the gravy.  I cooked up some brown rice and mixed it with homemade celery soup, simply because it was what I had left over and needed to be used up.  I added green beans and portabella mushroom bits.  Richard loves green bean casserole, but I wanted to at least cut out a bunch of the preservatives.  I even made my own french fried onions for the topping.  I used regular milk instead of buttermilk and they turned out fine.  One thing I did was let them sit overnight and then put them on a cookie sheet the next day and baked them for 25 minutes at 350.  This helped dry them and crisp them up.  Sadly the rice and celery soup were too under seasoned.  I will pay attention to the flavor before I bake it next time.


For myself I made a portabella cap in a similar fashion to the schnitzel, minus the beating it down of course.  We had decided to eat around 5, so I tried to time the food to that time.  I made a rue, with butter and flour and slowly added the broth with the mushroom bits for the gravy.  It turned out very well.  It is a bit more difficult to whisk the clumps out with bits of mushroom floating around, but if you keep the broth hot and add it slowly it seems to work well.  I put a pot of water on for the dumplings.  These are items I picked up at a German sausage maker’s shop.  You simply drop the pouch into cold water and let it stand for 10 minutes.  While that was happening I heated up some oil and took the pork out and dredged it through some egg and then through a panko bread crumb, paprika and pepper mix.  I really like to use the panko crumbs, they seem to crisp up the best.  Once the meat is breaded, I gently drop it into the oil.  I then prepare the next piece of meat.  By the time I drop the second piece of meat into the oil the first one is ready to flip.  While all this is happening the mushroom cap is on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet in the oven.  I simply pull the meat off as it gets done and stick it on the pan with the mushroom.  I am very careful not to allow them to touch.  During this process I turn the dumpling water on medium and let it come to rapid boil.  By the time all the meat is done, the dumplings are ready to remove from the water.

I pulled the mushroom from the pan and put it in a cast iron skillet and fried it up to crisp the coating.  Everything worked well timing wise and we had a lovely dinner.  Last night I prepared the cookie dough for our dessert.  I opted for this crazy rich chocolate snowcap cookies.  I also found the recipe in the Eating Well magazine.  Funny they had a whole article on a German themed Thanksgiving meal.  I also found a kale salad recipe.  This morning I was busy half the morning baking cookies.  I should have halved the recipe, 4 dozen cookies is too much for just the two of us.


The one thing I think I am proudest of is that I kept my kitchen clean.  This is not normal for me.  I was expecting a FaceTime call from my friends in Seattle and so I wanted to make sure the place was clean.  I kept all the dishes washed, and due to having limited resources I used them plenty.  All in all it was a very nice day.  We ended it with a walk along the river and a FaceTime call from friends.  I have the greatest people in my life.  My friend Johnny got a bit teary eyed and he said that he had never tried to Skype or FaceTime before, but it made him feel like we were right there.  I got a few calls through out the day from people who felt like I should be there. That is something to be truly grateful for!


This is what love and support look like.

I love Richard.  He is the best.  When we fight it is usually because we are both so drunk we cannot figure out the intention of what the other is saying.  I told him that once, he has not gotten that drunk since I mentioned it.  That is the most important thing in our relationship, we listen to each other.  He tells me that I am doing something that bothers him, and I try to change it.  I tell him he does something hurtful and he tries to change it.


So I like to live life on the edge.  I really do not believe in living conventionally.  You can see it with my food choices, my lifestyle, my education, you can see it in almost everything that I do.  My relationship is no different.  It is unconventional.  I left two summers ago to bike across the country.  Last summer I left with the Peace Corps, technically I should still be gone, but Ebola happens.  I have just accepted a new position with the Peace Corps to work on environmental education in Jamaica.  I am so excited to be doing something that I am so much more passionate about.

So what happens to my relationship when I leave and come back all the time?  Well for many this would be a deal breaker, but for us it is akin to having a spouse serving in the military abroad.  You just kind of go with it.  Richard was asked last week why he put up with me running away so much?  His response was the best ever.  He told me after I made him two sandwiches before I went to bed Tuesday night since he had to work at midnight, this is what love looks like.  I had forgotten that I left him a little note with his sandwiches.  I used to leave them on his car or truck back when he worked strange hours.  He keeps the notes, every last one.  I guess maybe when he feels lonely he digs them out.  He told his co-worker that he puts up with my leaving because he is not a dream killer.  He also told them that this was what love looks like.  He said he supports me because I have always supported him.  It is not about finances, but it is about knowing that you have someone and something to come back to.  I cannot imagine doing the things that I do and not having a place to come back to.  I would likely never come back if there was nothing to come back to.

I am lucky, I get to live my life the way I want to now.  It was not always that way, but I have finally lived my dreams.  It sounds selfish, I know, but if he did not have obligations to support his children, I would support his treks around the World as well, or we would do them together.  Either way, this is what love looks like.  There is not guarantee that I will come back, there is no guarantee I will still be here when his time for dreams comes, but love is not expectant.  Love just simply is, in the moment, it is.