Posts Tagged ‘grousing is not writing’

You know what really grills my cheese today, Internet? People who don’t follow the rules. Why? What is it about some people that makes them so confident they are ABOVE the rules? Or that the rules don’t apply to them? See ANY NEWS ITEM ANYMORE for plentiful, deeply disheartening examples.

Today, specifically, I am directing my rule follower rage at the woman who not only brought her cart out into the parking lot – which is strictly forbidden at my grocery store – but then LEFT IT THERE, on the tiny concrete divider between the parking spaces.

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there is some physical disability at play. But, honestly, that excuse ain’t gonna cut it, sistah, because our grocery store offers – purely because of the no-carts-in-the-parking-lot rule – courtesy bag loading into your car. It’s totally free! There are even signs everywhere that say NO TIPPING (although I still tip; people tip and I don’t want to be The Woman Who Doesn’t Tip, especially given that I go there every week), so she can’t even blame the lack of cash in her wallet.

Okay, okay. I KNOW there could be other perfectly valid reasons – like maybe she has an emergency that she learned about exactly at the moment she was done checking out and can’t fathom waiting in the bag loading zone for the two extra minutes it takes the cheery bag loader staff to load your bags into your car. Or maybe she just got some terrible news and, completely gobsmacked (why is gobsmacked not a word, Word?) by the terribleness of it, she is floating through the store forgetting her eggs and not really paying attention to her cart.

But my overall experience with people is that there often ISN’T a reason, besides an inexplicable certainty of being the center of the universe and therefore able to flout rules whenever the whim takes hold.

See also the people who go zooming down the shoulder of the freeway when everyone else is stopped, waiting for an accident to clear. Who ARE those people? And why do THEY get to decide THEIR needs take priority over everyone else’s needs and safety?

Well. I am in A Mood, apparently.

It’s the week before my family’s Thanksgiving, so I’m a wee bit anxious about that. Pre-exhausted, still, even though I was pre-exhausted two weeks ago.

And I am yet again faced with planning and making meals for myself and my family. Whatever shall we eat?

Dinners for the Week of November 12-November 18

Note: I went to three different grocery stores to find the haloumi, which is a firm cheese that this recipe recommends pan-frying and turning into croutons. I DID find the haloumi at the third store, but it was $9.99, so I did not buy it. I will do a lot for the sake of an interesting-sounding recipe, but it turns out I will not spend just shy of $10 on a block of cheese. Instead, I bought something called bread cheese, which sounds similar to haloumi, although I guess we’ll never know, and was a much more reasonable $6.35. Sigh. That is STILL too much to spend on cheese, but I did it. I will report back on whether it was worth it.

Note: We did not eat this last week, even though it was on the menu. So I am making sure we eat it THIS week. Also, I do not particularly like roasted carrots but I saw a bag of rainbow carrots at Trader Joe’s and I was powerless to resist it. 

Note: This is an old standby. Good when I have no inspiration.

  • Chicken with Zucchini

Note: Speaking of no inspiration — this is like… just the basics. I have chicken in the freezer, a plethora of marinade possibilities, and a pile of zucchini, so I’m ready for whatever day requires a super easy meal. 

  • Pork Chops with Broccoli

Note: Same as above, but with pork, obvs. And I even splurged and got pre-cut, bagged broccoli this week. Maybe this will help me stick to my menu plan and not make a last-minute decision to go eat Mexican food. 

Note: I made the MOST AMAZING impromptu pizza this weekend, and I am going to make it again for dinner on Friday.

  • Breakfast for Dinner

Note: Breakfast is one of the few foods that Carla eats reliably – and she will even eat scrambled eggs if I bribe her with pancakes. A few commenters suggested this last week, and I never do it, even though it is SO easy, and relatively healthful. Well, now I have bacon in my fridge and I’m stocked up on eggs and freezer pancakes and READY TO GO.



What are you eating this week, Internet?

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We had a few days of 50 degrees and sunshine, then a few days of 70 degrees and sunshine, and now it’s raining and in the 60s. My allergies are all amped up about the constant temperature flux. It’s super fun to have to make a beeline to the nearest box of Kleenex at any given moment and to have my eyes suddenly start streaming at very inopportune times – trying to check out at the grocery store, having a conversation with Carla’s principal in the school hallway – and to constantly feel as though a sneeze is about to burst out and say hello and by super fun I mean I literally want to cut off my nose to spite my face. I feel very spiteful toward whatever internal mechanism is directing everything in my face to method-act like a faucet.  Probably cutting off my nose would just provide it with more reason to produce tears so I’m going to resist the impulse.

Last night I took a much-needed Benadryl before bed – getting up every five minutes to blow my nose is not restful. It did its job, but I think I took it too late in the evening because I slept through my alarm and have been feeling bleary and underwater all morning. Maybe I am underwater. Maybe that’s why most of my face is damp.

Anyway! Dinners! I am trying to do the bare minimum but also… I think I am being over ambitious. Time will tell.

Dinners for the Week of October 22-30

Note: I got some miniature zucchinis at Trader Joe’s and some green beans and I will roast them up with some onion and throw them in the farro. I am unreasonably excited about this. However, I was excited about it YESTERDAY and then failed to make it and instead made my husband pick up takeout from California Pizza Kitchen so we’ll see if the excitement lasts today.

Note: Another zucchini recipe. Is that too much zucchini for one week? I suppose time will tell. Anyway, we haven’t had this one in a while and it sounds yummy.

Note: Yum.

Note: Is this too much flavor? Are we going to be overwhelmed by all the sauce/spice? Time will tell, which is apparently my motto this week.

Note: Wait a second. A THIRD recipe with zucchini in it? Am I over-zucchini-ing? Why does the word “zucchini” look so ridiculous to me? This is what I ordered from CPK yesterday, and it was fine, but my version is better. (And the CPK version somehow also had regular noodles in it? I thought it would be JUST zucchini noodles. But I was wrong.) My husband doesn’t love this as much as I do, so I’ll make it the night he has a board meeting to attend.

Note: We haven’t had this in ages and it sounds DELICIOUS. I will add bell peppers and NO ZUCCHINI and maybe some onion because I like my curries full of veggies.

  • Chili

Note: Is there any better meal to eat while watching football? I don’t think so.


What’s on your menu for this week?

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Changing gears from yesterday: let’s talk about food and the practical concerns of getting meals on the table.

One thing that has become quite the quandary is how to feed my child now that she has more after-school activities.

She’s always done activities, but they were mostly right after school or on the weekend. Now, she has practices and lessons that don’t even START until after five. These are no longer after-school activities, they are now EVENING activities and I don’t like it. (I don’t dislike it enough to remove her from the activities, apparently.) Carla is a child who absolutely NEEDS eleven to twelve of sleep a night, so my husband and I are trying really hard to make sure she is in bed with the lights out no later than 7:30 pm. But when an activity ends at 6:30… how am I supposed to squeeze nourishment into the tiny space between “traveling home from activity” to “bedtime preparations”? It seems impossible.

(Perhaps you are thinking “McDonalds”! I have zero qualms about buying my child a happy meal. I ate fast food probably twice a week as a kid before gymnastics and piano lessons. But Carla does not eat fast food. Or, if she does, it is so rarely I cannot count on it as a reliable food source. Her palate baffles me.)

Options I have explored so far, with varying but mostly discouraging results:

  1. I made a big pile of sun butter and jelly sandwiches that I could freeze and defrost whenever we needed a quick meal. Carla ate one and pronounced it was terrible. Another night, she ate a few bites of a sandwich and refused to eat anymore. And then we lost power for many days and the rest of the sandwiches perished.
  2. Lunchables, accompanied by fruit.
  3. Snack dinner: some combination of pepperoni, cheese, crackers, olives, roasted chickpeas, sugar snap peas, and fruit. This is, I think, the most successful option. But it’s also challenging, because Carla prefers the same things over and over but then grows tired of them and then we are SCREWED.
  4. Bagel with cream cheese, accompanied by some combination of pepperoni, sugar snap peas, cheese, and fruit.

I have also been trying to bulk up Carla’s after-school snacking game. So on a day she has an activity at 5:00, I give her the usual banana right after I pick her up from school and then make her a yogurt and fruit smoothie to eat on the drive to the activity. Hopefully this is providing her with some extra protein and fat and vitamins, in case it’s a night where she only eats a Lunchable.

Over the summer, we were able to eat dinner as a family a lot more frequently than we ever have. But family dinners have gone right out the window since school started, what with Carla’s earlier bedtime and my husband’s work schedule. So that’s a bummer. But I am prioritizing my child’s sleep over everything else right now and I feel good about that. Carla is so busy and learning so much, I really want her to be well-rested so that she can get the most out of everything she’s doing.

The other Kid Activity-Related Issue that’s derailing my meal plans is that I am so flustered by what Carla is going to eat that I keep throwing up my hands and scrapping my own adult dinner plans in favor of Panera or takeout or prepared foods from the grocery store. Which are all fine options, but tend to be less healthy and more expensive than the food I’ve already planned to make. It’s just that I am TIRED by the time Carla is in bed. I am still doing my own thing during the day — a day in which I never seem to have enough hours — but on top of that, I feel like remembering which outfit she needs for that day’s activity or washing outfits for the next day’s activity or making sure we are stocked up on banana and frozen mangoes or rushing to pick her up from school or rushing to get her into her soccer uniform or rushing to get her to swimming on time is taking a lot out of me. And sure, it’s nice that she can come home after school to play for a while before ballet, but then I am driving to and from school and then to and from ballet when it would be much easier to go directly from school to the activity. The chunks of time between school and activity are too short to do anything of substance. I am constantly watching the clock or gathering necessary equipment or preparing snacks or driving or waiting in traffic or urging Carla to don her appropriate gear or prodding her to eat eat eat or brush your teeth or get your jammies on. It’s nonstop until she’s asleep, is what I’m saying. (HOW do you people with multiple children NOT COLLAPSE FROM EXHAUSTION?) This is what it is like to be Mariah Carey’s personal assistant, right? THEN, if I wait until 7:30 to start making dinner, well, we won’t be eating until 8:30 or 9:00 and that’s… later than I like to eat. More relevant is that I am TIRED. I don’t want to be chopping and sauteeing at 7:30. I want dinner to be ready to go. I can accomplish this, of course; it just means more meal prepping on shopping day, which I can totally do if I grit my teeth and just do it.

If you are a parent, you have my fist bump of empathy. If you are a parent of multiple children with (or honestly without) activities, you have my abiding awe and respect. If you’ve figured out the Kid Activity/Dinnertime solution, please let me know.

In the meantime, here’s what I’m planning to make and eat this week:

Dinners for the Week of October 15-21

 Note: I loved this the last time I made it, and, once again, I will make the peanut dressing from Damn Delicious for my husband and the teriyaki dressing from Le Crème de la Crumb for me.

Note: This is an old standby. It’s super easy to make, so my plan is to marinate the salmon and chop/wash the broccoli in advance and then make this on one of the late activity nights – I can shove everything in the oven and let it broil while my husband is reading to Carla.

Note: I plan to make this on another late activity night. It’s a slow cooker option – and, honestly, I need to expand the number of meals I can make in the slow cooker. This way, dinner will be ready to eat as soon as Carla is in bed.

Note: To make this easy, I need to make the yogurt sauce in advance and chop the bell peppers in advance. I can do it.

  • Pizza

Note: I haven’t decided yet if we’ll have traditional pizza or if we’ll do a taco pizza. I am leaning toward the latter, especially considering we are skipping taco night this week. But I will make a game time grocery store time decision on this one.

Note: I’ll probably save this for the weekend, because it’s a new recipe and because it seems somehow “special.” Probably because of the novelty. Also, I like to shop for fish on Saturdays. There is no reason, it’s just how I am.

  • Out



What’s on your menu for this week, Internet?

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You may have noticed that I have been posting a lot more regularly in the past few weeks. This is because my novel is…

…going horribly.

HORRIBLY. I hate it and everything about it. Every sentence I write is excruciating to craft. Every word is the wrong word. Every character is selfish and one-dimensional and stupid. My metaphors are overwrought. The plot is boring. I know exactly what needs to happen and when and why but it’s NOT HAPPENING and it’s making me mad. I feel like I have zero control over my characters and their whims and their actions and interactions. I feel like new characters pop up out of nowhere and make no sense. I feel like I’d rather sit on needles than open my manuscript. Every time I read something I’ve already written, I roll my eyes. If I try to write fresh, without reading previous pages, I write something I’ve already written. Is it better than what I’d already written? Hard to tell, when they’re both CRAP.

You’re supposed to just WRITE, even when things are bad. So I am pretending that blogging counts as writing, and I am blogging like it’s 2009 all over again. And it’s working! I am getting TONS of ideas and inspiration and desire to write!

But, um, for the blog, not for the novel.


People always ask me these two things about my writing, so I will tell you:

How much do you have left to write? I would estimate that I am about 75% of the way done with the novel. Plot-wise, that is. I have about a quarter of the way to go in explaining the plot. But I would also estimate that there’s a LOT more than that: backstory and build up and detail and blahblah that has to go in as well. And I don’t know how to estimate THAT.

How many pages have you written so far? My best guess is that I have around 250 pages. The program I use to draft the novel (Scrivener) lists word count, so that’s how I think about my output: in words. Not necessarily pages.

It sounds like a decent amount, right? Well, it SHOULD BE, after TWO YEARS. But let’s also keep in mind that a lot of the existing words/pages will get cut. And then more will need to be written. And more cutting. So it’s hard for me to say with great confidence WHERE I stand, exactly.

A friend asked me recently how I was doing, and I told him how horrible it was, and how much I hated the stupid novel and everything about it, and he said something along the lines of, “Well, you gave it a shot. Are you going to find a job now?” And I got really mad. (Not really at him; it was a reasonable question.)

No way in HELL am I giving up. So what if the book is shitty? Plenty of books are shitty. So what if no one ever reads a word of it? Plenty of books never see the light of day. So what if I hate every minute of it? That’s not true always. Sometimes I am quite pleased with what I’ve written. Sometimes I can write for hours and it feels like minutes. I am trying to treat the writing of this novel like a job (although, let’s be honest, if my boss weren’t so understanding, I would have been fired LONG ago) and sometimes jobs suck. You go through rough patches. You have projects and tasks you can’t stand. And you do them because it’s your job. This is just a rough patch.

To violently switch metaphors, I am going to see this motherfucker through to the bitter end. It may not be a happy ending, with flowers and beautiful piano music and lots of people standing around saying wistful, loving things, and angels holding out their welcoming hands in a swath of holy light. No. It might not even be a gruesome, bloody end, with stab wounds and a heaving chest and the buzz of adrenaline over ohmygod what did I just do. It might just be me standing over this stupid novel, choking the life out of it, and getting tired, and listening to its weak gasping, and then squeezing the breath out of it again, slowly, painfully, both of us in agony and just wanting it to be over already my GOD. But it will end, dammit! It will end, and when it does I will be there, standing over it, breathless and kind of grossed out, but victorious!

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Do you know the difference between these two bottles?


The righthand bottle is plain old saline solution. It’s for rinsing and storing your contact lenses. The lefthand bottle is a special enzyme-cleaning solution for your contacts. You put it in a special case with your contacts and the case contains a neutralizing material that does the crucial neutralizing over many (six, I think) hours. You can see right up on the top of the bottle in big, bold letters that you should NOT put it in your eyes. If you are a contact-lenses wearer, you probably already know that. I have been wearing contacts since fourth grade so I DEFINITELY know that.

And yet, the other day, I removed my contacts from the case, put one lens on the tip of my finger, and instead of filling the lens with normal saline as I have EVERY DAY OF MY ADULT LIFE AND MUCH OF MY CHILDHOOD, I filled it with the enzyme cleaner instead. And, not noticing my HEINOUS ERROR, I put the enzyme-solution-filled lens in my eye. And then I died.

No, I didn’t die. But I was felled by immediate, searing pain. I literally collapsed to my knees, on my bathroom floor, in a very dramatic fashion.

I like to think this act of unfathomable stupidity was a test of my emergency-handling skills. Okay, I will admit that my immediate reaction was to crumple to the floor and screech loudly and wonder who in the hell was going to call 911 for me (I was alone in the house), which doesn’t bode well for fires or murderers.

But then my logical brain took over, and I started flushing my eye with lots of cold water. My eye refused to open because the last time it did, I tried to murder it. So I soaked a washcloth in water and pushed that up against my eye until it finally did let me open it a crack. Then more flushing until I was finally able to pry to contact out of my eye. More flushing still. Then I was able to google what a person was to do if she was so ridiculous as to put enzyme solution directly in her eye. Flush with water, is the answer. Contact your eye doctor if the pain and irritation remains after several hours.


Let us now look at a soothing hibiscus bush.


Yesterday, there was a single blossom… today, many! Just like popcorn, where you wait and wait and wait, and then all of a sudden your bush is full! But of hibiscus, not popcorn! Which I don’t put on shrubbery anyway! This metaphor has gone awry!

Before and since the Solution Incident of ’18, my eyes have been bothering me for a different reason. I am going to guess “allergies,” given the fact that I also sneeze a lot.

Whatever the case, my eye are constantly red and itchy and uncomfortable. I am constantly rubbing them and trying not to rub them and wiping them with washcloths. In the morning, they are encrusted by… well, crust. It’s really delightful.

I have been self-medicating with over-the-counter antihistamines and allergy eyedrops. They work a teensy bit. The great and all-knowing internet suggests that my best recourse is to stop wearing makeup and contacts. Blah. I like wearing makeup. My face looks naked without at least mascara. And I like wearing contacts. It’s almost a necessity, in summer, because I need to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes against the solar glare. And I don’t have prescription sunglasses, so I can’t wear them unless I am wearing contacts.

Well, I will give up both. If I have to. But the goal here is to have eyes that a) can see and b) can do so without redness, itching, or total nakedness.

Nothing I am doing on my own (eyedrops, antihistamines, rubbing) is working. I think I need either a) a diagnosis and an actual treatment plan or b) an updated glasses prescription so I can get some sunglasses with prescription lenses. In either case, I need to find a new eye doctor.

You may choose to skip this ranty/boring part:

The last time we discussed my eye doctor, I was frustrated by insurance issues. (Which we ended up paying; to make a long story still unfortunately long, my husband and I both got a bill from our eye doctor for the exact same service. Our insurance was covering part of my visit, but not part of my husband’s. Our insurance claimed that my eye doctor was no longer a preferred provider, so they wouldn’t be covering charges. Turns out he WAS a preferred provider, but only became one a month or so after my husband’s visit [and a few weeks before MY visit, which means the insurance company covered part of my visit out of the kindness of their hearts] [he’d just joined a new practice; previous to that he was a preferred provider according to our insurance].) Anyway, we thought we got the insurance issues sorted out. But recently, my husband made an appointment to see the eye doctor and once he was there, in the waiting room, for his appointment, they informed him that our eye doctor is no longer a preferred provider under our insurance plan. SIGH. So we paid in full for covered services for my husband two years in a row. And now we all need to find a new eye doctor anyway.


I do not WANT to find a new eye doctor. I want my OLD eye doctor. And I want him to be covered by our insurance. Yes, yes, I know I am very fortunate to have eyes and a selection of eye doctors in the area AND insurance that covers eye stuff. I can still be grumpy about having to find an eye doctor.

You know what this means, right? Research, and then calls to the doctor to see if s/he is taking new patients. And then calls to my insurance provider to see if the doctor is covered. And then calls to the doctor to make an appointment. It sounds like only three calls, which I acknowledge is manageable if mentally TRYING, but let’s agree that it will actually require many, many more than three.

Let us now look at a charming and probably hypoallergenic baby deer that would totally be a preferred provider lookit his little spotties awwwwww.

Fawn 2

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