Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Is This Blog All About Food?

So I'm "reminiscing" on the past year of my blog.  Marveling at brilliant phrases, cringing at others.  But a fascinating discovery - a lot of this blog is about food, which intrigues me because I do have a separate blog about food, but I rarely write about it there. 

As usual, this morning I woke up, stepped on the scale, and vowed to start losing weight again.  And as usual, work intervened, and found me diving for the green olives and red wine when I got home (after eating bean soup and a banana for lunch and becoming ravenously cranky as a result), and plotting one of my favorite comfort food dinners of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the obligatory vegetables, green beans with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (hint, not a match for chicken and potatoes - but I've nailed my gravy recipe).

We got up early, the first snooze of my alarm early, and got to work at 6:00 a.m.  What an ungawdly hour (even though I went to bed at 7:00 last night to compensate).  I worked late, even, and still left work undone.  Not important work.  Busy work, really, interviewing people who we won't hire.  I wonder how some people can be so un-self-aware.  But then again, I'm being cynical.  I've worked in HR for too long.  I don't know how I will handle the next 2 1/2 years finishing my PhD.  I started this semester (okay, two weeks ago) so excited, and now, even that has fizzled.  I have a paper due on Wednesday, a two-page paper, but analyzing, synthesizing, not exactly just writing my position and moving on.  I wonder, once again, why is it that I'm getting my PhD.  The Master's, okay, since I was an undergrad, that was a dream, and I thought it would open doors for me, that came and went, the doors are more closed now than ever - since I am not relocating now. 

What I really want to do, if I had no debt, no obligations, is to go to culinary school.  I am not sure I want to be a professional chef or caterer, but I really want to teach people how to cook.  I want to design curriculum and incite passion in others - and spend the day playing with my food!  How will I do this?  I have grown accustomed to not worrying about money (after 10 years of living near poverty, I can't go back to this state), buying what I want when I want it, having a large walk-in closet the size of most Manhattan apartments overflowing with clothes and shoes, travel, vacations, restaurants, wine.  So I have to find a way to support myself while going to culinary school, somehow in my one-track mind, getting a PhD and teaching at a university would allow this, or getting the letters and writing a book.  Any combination that doesn't include wasting my brain on scheduling and re-scheduling interviews, conducting interviews, or scheduling consultants who we pay to tell us what I can - and charge us even more to do what I can and love to do, or answering stupid questions (yeah, there is such a thing as stupid questions - I get multiple stupid questions a day asked of me) will be a step in the right direction. 

For now, I have to live out my fantasies in the evening, an hour or so at a time in my own kitchen, going to bed and meditating that I live a more fulfilling professional life, that's what I've got.  Stay tuned. 

For now ...

I was somewhat dismayed after our annual retreat/meeting this week.  We stayed at a beautiful hotel, I in the Elizabeth Barrett & Robert Browning suite with a bed that was so tall, I had to take a running start to hop in - but it was a thick, luxurious bed, the one of my dreams, fluffy as a cloud.  Not that it's much fun by myself.

I accomplished a lot last year at work, but then again, I've been doing essentially the same type of work for ten years now, I ought to accomplish a lot.  Then there it was, the white monkey (more elusive and slightly less conspicuous than the white elephant) in the room when challenged that I am talented but not willing to leave Green River.  Twice I heard this same theme.  I must say, I was deflated.  I feel like the work I do now isn't that valuable because I'm not willing to pick up my family and move them to undesirable locations every 18 months.  Now, I know talent management, I've read the research, but our company takes it to the extreme.  If you aren't willing to move when they ask (tell) you to, you become ostracized.  My reasons for staying here are sound, but not respected.  In this uncertain time, I'm not about to ask my husband to give up a well-paying job on a chance he might get another one, in a city that is more depressed than ours, with crowds, higher taxes, higher housing, and the instability of knowing we'd be uprooted again 18-24 months later.  I'm not willing to leave my daughters, who already live 3 hours away from me. I'm not willing to gain more responsibility for a career I don't really love anyway. 

I got to thinking, driving the 2 hours home by myself (after 2 hours of a rare splurge of retail "therapy" for myself, a discounted Coach handbag and accessories, workout clothes and shoes to motivate myself to get healthy again, and some kitchen wares), here's the thing.  If I wanted to leave, to move up, to have the power, I would have found a way to do it.  I've had three chances in the past two years, and none of them have really worked out.  I believe in signs, in destiny, in the power of attraction, and making things happen when they are supposed to.  This isn't my destiny.  I have so many interests outside of human resources, but this pays the bills for now. 

For now ....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Good for the Soul

I have hundreds of acquaintances, but only a few truly good friends.  I think in this lifetime, that makes me exceptionally fortunate.  Yesterday was one of the best days in memory.  After a 3 1/2 hour drive, I arrived at my best friend's house.  We had lunch, we had wine, we bought shoes, and picked up our other best friend for more wine, more food, and a day of soul-friendly conversation. 

My best friend has been in my life about 9 years or so.  I can't tell you the date, but I do remember the day I met her.  She came to the hospital, where I worked in human resources, to do "non-employee" paperwork (I know, it's weird, just follow me).  I helped her through the red tape of being able to teach clinical pharmacy at our hospital, and commented on her pedicure, which had perfect little white flowers painted on her big toenails.  I don't know exactly how it happened, but we became friends very shortly after that.  We were the only ones who'd consistently show up for the dinner parties we threw.  So we eventually stopped inviting other people and just enjoyed each other's company.  We did add two more girls to our mix, it was when Sex & the City was on HBO, and I liked to think of us as that - four independent, fun, talented women in various stages of relationships.  I was in a terrible marriage at that point, and these friends helped me through a divorce, through singlehood, through finding and marrying my husband now, through adjusting to that marriage and finding my way.  I never had the college experience, being a mother of two and the wife of a lazy man during those years, but these relationships I forged are the strongest in my life now. 

I see my best friend, on average, every few months.  We talk briefly on the phone once a week or so, but no matter how much time has passed, we pick up where we left off.  There's no resentment, no jealousy, no anger, no ill will, which is so common in relationships with women (we are complex creatures, us women!).  My other friend, it had been over a year since I'd seen or talked to her, and probably closer to 3 or 4 years since we actually hung out together.  It all fell into place.  We talked about politics, books, movies, music, relationships, careers, everything that we could get out there, we did.  I miss my girlfriends horribly.  As I mentioned, I have many acquaintances, but only a few people who truly know me this well - they know my secrets, my deepest desires and oppressions, my hopes, my dreams, and I know theirs.  It was a day full of soulful goodness.  I need more of those days.  I think we've all resolved to have more of those days. 

After our two Asian meals together, lots of wine and chatter, we headed over to the birthday party of one of my husband's friends - the reason we were back in our old stomping grounds.  My husband was comfortably numb by that point and happy to see me.  I said hi to some friends, well, acquaintances, and continued my conversation with my two best friends.  I had to straighten out a girl in inappropriate clothing who was inappropriately touching my husband, probably not my finer moment, but I don't deal well with drunk women hanging off of him like he's a toy.  Secretly, he might have been happy to have the slight jealousy, even though he knows I trust him.  And at the end of the night, I took my best friend (husband) home to our friends' house, feeling even more fortunate that our relationship has solidified into an amazing marriage.  All in all, yesterday was a wonderful day, and I hope to capture that momentum to get me through the long, busy, but unfulfilling week ahead at work. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Groundhog Day ... Again!

It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.  Credit Phil Connors of Groundhog Day, one of my favorite movies.  I love change.  If I spend too much time doing the same thing, I fall into bad habits.  Unfortunately, it's happening again.  It's bitterly, bleakly cold and icy and miserable, a winter that seems to crop up every couple of years.  Some years we escape the worst, some years, we pay for it.  This year we're paying for it.  I hate the cold.  I hate wearing shoes.  I hate not seeing the sun.  I hate working in a soulless job.  Not shocking news, if you've read this blog before, which again, let's face it, no one is.  But maybe my writings will be immortalized when I'm gone, like Anais Nin, then again, who the hell cares, if I'm fertilizing soil on the beach with my ashes, why do I give a rat's ass what my writing does?  Okay, that was cynical (here's a tip for you, on Word's spellchecker, unless you add my name, Cyndi, to your dictionary, it will suggest "cynical" as a replacement for my name - coincidence???).  

I long for change, for a chance to soar and live my big dreams.  But I know it's not the time.  I have to finish this PhD, which right now is this millstone hanging about my neck (I should stop using that phrase, it was a bible verse I had to remember when I was 13, and I hate bible verses as much as I hate organized religion and bitter cold).  I am stuck, for the next three years.  Of course "stuck" is actually a place where millions of Americans would love to be.  I shouldn't complain about a job that pays as much as mine does without working ungawdly hours.  I shouldn't complain about having a husband who is loyal and loving and hilariously funny and indulgent of my passions - well, that, I don't complain about!  But the best part of my day is coming home, cracking open a bottle of red, cranking up Food Network, the Cooking Channel, Top Chef, or Seinfeld, and making a kick-ass dinner.  That's the good stuff.  My husband's humor, our comfortable house, the feeling of red wine coursing through my veins, that is the good stuff.  Yet, every morning I wake up, eh 2, 3 a.m., restless, mind racing, wanting more, needing more, plotting for more.  I can't explain why every vision includes the beach, water, sunshine.  I've always lived in land-locked states - and hated it.  When I'm on the water, I'm home, I'm happy, the world is my oyster.  This happens approximately 4 or 5 days of an average year.  

But alas, another PhD semester looms with another 3 classes, 9 classes of graduate work, a job that is relentlessly busy now - I'm in charge of hiring 87 people in the next month, people who don't want to come live here.  I have to convince them that this is paradise, even though I know otherwise!  So, once again, my vision remains true - finish the PhD, find a kick ass job on the beach, and continuing living my happily-ever-after.

PS:  This is the ONLY picture I have of us in the winter in Wyoming - and it's inside.  The horrible Snuggies that our friends thought was a funny party.  I was drunk ... 

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Should old acquaintance be forgot ... ?  Auld lang syne.  What does that mean?  The past four New Year's Eves in our house have been "MY" holiday.  I don't have to travel to places I don't want to be, I don't have to follow anyone else's rules, I don't have to eat food out of a can; the holiday, for once, it's mine.  I cook, I have friends over, I drink and am merry.  This year I had only a few guests, despite several RSVP's who didn't show up.  It was cold, bitterly cold, icy, and unpleasant outside, but you can't help but question your hostess hat when this happens.  I threw out way too much food, but all in all, I had a fabulous night.  I was with people I love dearly, people who I can laugh with, love with.  And most importantly, my husband was there.  It can never be a bad night if he is with me, sharing the food I make, toasting with the wine I love, laughing and dreaming of even better days ahead.

Maybe I just need different friends.  Maybe it's time to move on.  As 2011 rolled around, it wasn't monumental.  I'm in a great place in life, and it's only going to get better.  I don't make resolutions.  I try to live each day with all the gusto I can - some days are harder than others! - but my life is pretty damn good.   Sure, I need to drop 50 pounds, I need to exercise regularly, and I need to stop complaining about my job, but I eat well, I love well, and I learn well.  As 2011 comes at me, I'm facing it with grace (I hope!) and ambition.  I hope you do the same!