Casey the Conquistador

“… With only a couple of exceptions, all of my friends seemed to be in the same places – emotionally, financially, and geographically – that they were in as of February 2012. And, with only a couple of exceptions, as much as they complained about their situations, they had done nothing and were doing nothing to change them.”

A friend of mine wrote this after a visitation from the Dominican Republic, where she is a Peace Corp Volunteer. I noticed two things about her: She is exhausted. She is more present than I have ever known her to be.

I was unexpectedly hurt by these words, but it has taken a while for me to understand why. A few months ago, I was engaged in a rewarding internship in pursuit of the finish of my college degree. I wasn’t rich, but I wasn’t dirt-poor. I was looking towards the future every day with eagerness. Now, I am a recent college graduate, living off $700 a month, with only a vague sense of direction. I have no savings, no health insurance, a large amount of debt, and a half-working car. I have gone on multiple job interviews with no other results than, “You didn’t do anything wrong; you’re great. We just went with someone else.” … and I am so much happier.

I realized that I couldn’t be hurt by these words from my friend, because during our conversations, I chose to focus on the things I do not have versus the things I have gained. What change could she see?

I took seven years to finish my degree. During the last two, I wasn’t even taking classes. For so very long, this unfinished task kept me chained to a geographical location I wasn’t emotionally committed to. Fear of the unknown kept me from creating a future without a college degree. The greater limitation was my utter lack of self; the result of a tumultuous and abusive relationship that overshadowed most of my “college life.”  Attached to this lack of confidence and direction was anxiety that made basic decision-making seem insurmountable.  In the past six months, I began facing that anxiety with intention, in order to stop chasing a set of pre-determined goals and gain the presentness my friend has managed to attain. I attend therapy, I meditated, and most importantly, I graduated college. Finally.

For a number of psychological reasons I don’t feel like airing on the internet, graduating became a deep fear of mine, one that I constantly self-sabotaged. My internship was like exposure therapy. After it was all done and official, I could feel how every muscle in my body had been tensed for years, because I could suddenly relax. I am able to focus, find quiet within myself, and notice the unnecessary muscles I use in my every day activities.

Am I perfectly content? Of course not, but now I feel actually able to accomplish something … but also aware that “accomplishing something” isn’t a worthy pursuit. So, I have decided something else:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”- Howard Thurman

I was hurt by my friend’s words because this change within me seems so important, because I expected her to know all of this by just being with me — how ridiculous. I’m still looking for work (hey, eating is still a big priority of mine, and paying off my debt is important to my independence), but I’m not worried about it. It concerns me without preoccupying my mind. And that is a difference in my life I didn’t expect.

A To-Do List isn’t Necessarily Chronological

This is an empty blog, but not for lack of guilt or inspiration.

I’d like to say the last couple of months have been hard, and while they’ve certainly been eventful, describing them as “hard” would be a disservice to individuals with more difficult problems. It would also be a disservice to myself — I’ve certainly dealt with a fuller plate, and with more grace.

In the past few years, I’ve developed pretty severe anxiety. This isn’t something that I talk a lot about, but I’m finding that it interferes with my daily life more frequently as time passes. I have had other, more important things to write — legal papers, an internship proposal, e-mails to my employers sorting out their not-actual-firing of me.

I grew up as a member of the Happy Plate Club, and we didn’t eat dessert until we’d finished all of our dinner. Writing for this blog or for any other “frivolous” manner would be eating my dessert with green beans left on the plate. However, my anxiety has prevented me from approaching the essential writings on my To-Do list. Every time I sit down to take care of them, anxiety intercedes until I find it impossible to keep working. My mind goes completely blank, my heart races, and I feel on the edge of an emotional break-down … and all of this for just WRITING something down that I already have formulated in my brain. A complete thought, not even the sorting out of what to do but the actual doing of it. Something in my brain deeply fears the completion of responsibility and it SUCKS. That used to be my forte, the thing that tickled my fancy. All of my loose ends are choking me, and I feel very incomplete without the ability to pursue my strong internal direction.

Frankly, I’m very ashamed and disappointed in myself. This is hard to deal with.

I have some very probable theories on why I’ve developed this anxiety, and I probably should see a therapist, but in addition to the Happy Plate Club I grew up as part of the Bootstraps Pulling Club (yes, my extracurricular activities list was the tipping point for my acceptance into the University of Georgia). For me, it feels pointedly wrong to ask for help. Like an acceptance of personal weakness; the weak do not succeed.

I haven’t come to a resolution on dealing with this anxiety, but I needed to air out these feelings and reward myself with a little dessert. I hate green beans, and I ate a big bowl of them, and there’s more left to eat.

Let’s call this a warm-up exercise for more green beans.

 

New Goal: Post At Least Once a Week.

Okay, so I suck at posting. The problem is, I get a great idea while I’m in the middle of doing something else and then can’t remember it when I have the time to write. Or, I get a late night idea and realize at 1:00 am that I have to get up at 8:00 am, so I better get to sleep. Fellow bloggers: Any advice?

But I’ve also realized something else — I love writing. I shoot my mouth off constantly, so perhaps it would be better to record those ideas in a well-edited format for all of the internet to read.

I had two interviews lately. One for an internship that I absolutely wanted (and should be currently writing a proposal for, eek) and one for a job that I would’ve liked because it dealt with an awesome cafe/bakery that could employ me during non-God-forsaken hours — I type this at 7:22 pm for a reason. The one thing that linked both of those interviews was the question, “What do you want to do when you grow-up?” Maybe not exactly that question, but round-abouts. What do I want to do when I grow up? I want to entertain/inform people with my particular brand of sarcastic insight. Some people seem to particularly like it.

This might be step one. So, I’m going to make this post short and make a pinky-promise to the internet: I am going to post. Once. A.Week.

They might be shitty posts, but I need to set this goal out there so I feel more responsible to unknown persons who could gain some sort of use entertainment out of what I have to share. God didn’t make me a smarty-pants smart-ass to keep it to myself.

Right?

… hello?

Shucks. Maybe if I had finished any of the half drafts I have laying around this dusty blog, I’d have someone talking back to me by now.

I’m a flake, but I love pimento cheese.

It’s been a second, hasn’t it? I’m a creature of habit, and I haven’t yet created the habit of blog posting. I’m still working on taking out the trash every Tuesday. … or, at all.

Since my last posting, I hit the big 2-4. I had a moment of feeling old. Then I remembered that my boyfriend is 31 and felt a lot better.

Now that you’re all updated, I need to let you in on my newest love: pimento cheese. Until recently, I refused to eat it on the basis of it looking unappetizing and having mayonnaise as a main ingredient. The mayonnaise-based things that I actually have tried have all disappointed me: potato salad, macaroni salad, deviled eggs, etc.

However, I recently witnessed the making of homemade pimento cheese with plain greek yogurt as the base. It was a chunky delight, not an overly-processed orange mess like you find in the grocery store. Pimento cheese + various vegetables sandwiches have become my new love for a filling, delicious, and long-keeping lunch.

I decided to make some myself to keep in the fridge in case of withdrawal. Like all the cooking I do, I took inventory of several recipes and then create my own based on:

A) What’s in my pantry, and

B) Whatever cooking method seems both taste-inducing and quick.

This Chowhound thread on the subject of pimento cheese appalled me.

One poster said:

“It’s awesome though and FYI super easy to make (grated cheese, mayo, seasoning of your choice, a little cream cheese, and some pimentos).”

The response?

“I could make pimento cheese a weekend DIY project, but more likely I will pick up the homemade version at Fil-Am Market.”

Whaaa’? It literally takes less time to make pimento cheese than to make coffee. Or a peanut butter sandwich. Or jack off in the shower.

Re-paving your driveway is a weekend DIY project. Making pimento cheese isn’t even worthy of a 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray episode.

So, here’s how you make it:

- Take an amount of  shredded cheddar cheese, maybe a couple of cups.

- Add in an amount of diced pimento peppers (usually found in a jar in the pickles section of your grocery) that satisfies your spicyness. I used half a jar for about half a 24 oz bag of shredded sharp cheddar.

- Add in an amount of a binding agent that you have on hand or find really tasty (plain Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or some Duke’s mayonnaise, if you prefer). I added a few spoonfuls of yogurt. Start out with a little and add until it reaches the desired consistency.

- Optional: Grated onion, garlic, chopped walnuts, WHATEVER. I recommend walnuts and chipotle powder.

You can mix with a spoon until it binds, or throw it in a food processor if you enjoy eating baby food. Take home point? This is hard to fuck up. Almost impossible.

So do it. And try it on a grilled cheese, or with a salad, or mix it with some grapes and stuff it in a pita … or eat it by the spoonful late at night before you go to bed because you’re too lazy to make a real snack.

No, I totally don’t do that. Yes, I’m totally a liar.

What’s most appalling about this is that I’m a Southern girl who only recently has decided to love pimento cheese. Think of the disaster my life would’ve been if I had moved to another part of the country without pimento cheese and never successfully marked this off my “Real Southern Girl” To-Do list. Next? Develop an unnatural tan, bleach my teeth, and in all pictures pose with my hands on hips, standing to the side.

Just wanted to share: While typing this, I received a phone call from a co-worker asking me to pick up something before I came in. “I’m still three sheets to the wind, and fell asleep in the McDonald’s drive-thru while ordering breakfast.”

God bless her and God bless pimento cheese.

The Young and the Worthless

So, there’s this new show on HBO called Girls. It’s about … uh, girls. Girls-bordering-on-women. Girls of a certain age — an age that I share. And if you’re a 24-year-old woman in 2012, you’ve got to watch this. In two episodes I already feel so bonded to these women. I bet we will soon start cycling together, and I don’t mean Lance Armstrong-style.

But this post isn’t about Girls. The girls of Girls represent a characterization of my generation, which defines us as overly-educated and under-motivated, with expecting hands out-stretched. A grain of salt makes this insult easier to swallow, because didn’t they say the same thing about hippies? Yet, I imagine all the reasons that this stereotype would be absolutely true.

Let’s start with my favorite thing in the world: Food. The America attitude considers eating a diet of whole, unprocessed foods to be alternative. How many times a day do you know absolutely every step from whole, raw resource to processed food item? This question can be asked of everything that supports human life for the average citizen in a first-world country. Where does electricity come from, how are houses built, where does my drinking water come from, what are my clothes made out of?

Do you know the answers to all of those questions? I sure don’t, even with several seasons of How It’s Made under my belt.

Money has become the one thing that supports life because it produces all the things we need. Money buys food, water, houses, electricity, cars … but it doesn’t answer that essential question we’ve been discouraged to ask. How does money make these things? If we don’t understand how money could make food, how could we understand how we can make money? We glamorize people who seemingly do very little for their fortunes, like celebrities and politicians. We’re bombarded with advertising imagery that reduces our self-worth to the amount of purchases we’ve made. We, and I mean us Girls-type girls, were told at a very young age that we can be anything we want to be … but they never told us how.

People with money pay people with brains to figure out ways to convince people without as much money and without as many brains to give them more money. And we do it, because no one wants to ask the question: How does money make things? Where do things come from? We don’t even know how to ask.

If you start answering those questions, you become more responsible for yourself. If you know how to do something, that makes you more likely to do it and less likely to pay someone else to do it. So fucking simple.

This is a bordering-trite argument that’s being repeatedly a lot lately. Maybe the people who don’t know how to get money are starting to be tired of not having it and hungry for something more.

You know what I do when I’m tired and hungry? I make a fucking sandwich. I didn’t learn sandwich-making through genetic knowledge, and I certainly didn’t learn it from my mom. (Who could blame her after the metal pan in the microwave incident?) I asked a question: Where does a sandwich come from?

… and Girls would be a lot less funny and lot less true if everyone was just making sandwiches.

 

What a rambling mess.

 

PS:

While waiting for this to publish, I started reading the back of my Julie’s Organic vanilla ice cream (which tastes like shit, please don’t buy it) and had to facepalm.

 

Back of a Julie's Organic ice cream quart full of fail.

 

.. “fresh new and healthy, delicious tasting” … “Listening to our customers suggestions, along with preferences” … “continue to strive, to please and satisfy you, our customers” … “VIRTUALLY FREE”?!?!

Who the fuck proof-read this shit? And at 42% of my daily saturated fat recommended allowance for *0.5*of a cup, this shit is definitely not fresh new and healthy, delicious, whatever that grammatical nightmare means.

inb4 all of my spelling and grammar mistakes are pointed out in the comments

Maybe I should’ve asked, “What group of non-English-speaking foreigners is getting my $7.79 for this QUART of shitty ice cream?”

Warning: Use of the word motherfucker will occur frequently.

Terrible, fuzzy picture of the blog author and her adorable dog who is hating this bus ride.

I’ve got to admit that I googled “first blog post” after two failed attempts of starting this introductory post. The first blog post should attempt to provide a picture of the blog author and the intent of his or her writing … I think. And that’s a tall order, cowboy.

So, I’ll divide this post into two — one section about me, one about the blog. Logical, right?

Chapter One: Author Lady

My name is Casey, and I’m a 23-year-old living in Athens, Georgia. I have one toe in college and the other nine in the semi-professional working world. Or maybe that ratio should be 2:8. Or maybe it doesn’t matter, when you’re a young adult in an economy that crapped out while you were mid-college.

I enjoy making lists and forgetting where I put them, sleeping too much, and cursing. (Yes, those are the ONLY three things I like.)

I also enjoy sarcasm.

Chapter Two: Black Coffee, Yellow Dog?

I’m inclined to think this blog will mostly focus on the two loves of my life: food and dogs. Tangents will inevitably occur.

I’m a drinker of coffee and eater of (almost) all delicious things, and I will journal some of my forays into the culinary world. I’m meat-lite/transitioning to vegetarianism, a local food advocate, and wellness-oriented, so expect an emphasis on things that are healthy and in season. … interrupted by the occasional post on beer-braised pork ribs. (Locally raised and as-humanely-as-possibly slaughtered, of course!)

I have a 6-year-old golden retriever named Emma who is the best dog on the planet. Think your snot-nosed beagle has anything on my dog? Think again, motherfucker. My bitch can find a particular stick thrown out of an entire national forest’s worth of sticks. My bitch can sit quietly on the porch while I read and drink beer, even with dogs dragging their owners passing by and cats hanging out in the yard. My bitch goes hiking, kayaking, and riding in the car. My love for my bitch will allow me to tell incredible lies to strangers on the internet about her abilities. (Did you know my dog can fly? For real! She takes to the sky like motherfuckin’ Superman.)

So, I’m kinda into my dog. I’ve been known to take her on adventures, attempt to teach her tricks, and make her dog food. I’ll share such things with you, captive audience.

… but let’s get down to the dirty-dirty, which is that I’m mostly writing for myself. Like every other blogger, except those assholes who got popular and started writing for money. Fuck you, asshole.

Here’s to hoping you’ll read my blog again and to promising (with fingers crossed behind my back) not to become an asshole.

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