Monday, January 13, 2014

It's 2014 Mo-Foes

So I made about four new years resolutions this year. Usually I don't make any. But this year I threw caution to the wind, and decided to live a little.

But before I reveal these amazing goals (and if you follow me on twitter, you already know them! Spoiler alert!), let's recap a couple of the things that I did this year that I feel warrant merit.

#rapturethesis2013
I wrote a thesis. I defended said thesis. I passed.
Read: I have my master's degree in film, media, and digital studies.
I didn't know this was possible. I'm pretty sure that I am the first person in my family to get a master's? Maybe? Not entirely sure, but certainly no one in recent memory. And let's be real. It's not like I come from a family of academics. Neither parent went to college so suffice it to say, an advanced degree is a pretty big deal. At least it was for me. Especially since this degree began as I was ending a 10 year relationship, a house was being foreclosed on, I was working full time, and training for a marathon.  As if my life wasn't busy enough, I decided to add the stress of a new relationship to the mix, you know, for funzies. I don't regret any of it, and. Well. I did it. I have yet to receive said diploma in the mail, but when I do, I will most assuredly post a photo of it here. Because I deserve to brag and show off.

#marathon
Uh. Yeah.
I totally ran a marathon. I kind of half-assed training (well I felt like a half-assed training), but I squeaked into medal-land. So. I can say I ran a marathon. I killed my sciatic doing it, and the last 6 miles were torture, but I can't wait to do it again. Taking my training a bit more seriously, and hopefully finishing will a little bit more buffer. But I ran from Grafton to Milwaukee. And I ran almost the whole thing (minus the sciatic six).

#vegan
I was a strict vegan for about 9 months. I have since fallen off of the vegan train (because I seriously missed cheese. A lot). But it taught me a lot about discipline (yeah, I trained and ran a marathon whilst vegan), and being creative with food! Plants are pretty amazing, and flavors really come through when not doused with dairy. I still try to work vegan recipes (that don't use a lot of substitutes) into my repetoire. Not ready for veganism? Try to work in a vegetarian meal once a week.

#wuvtwoowuv
Ugh. THIS STUFF. Well. I somehow managed not to dick up a pretty great thing I have with my bf! He still wants to hang out with me, and AND he seems to want me to stick around. What? Weird, I know. We've decided to add a new chapter to our lives entitled COHABITATION. We're both excited (although I have to say I was a bit nervous until I realized I would still get my precious alone time that I have become so accustomed to whilst living single queen latifah style)

#lifechanges
Rather than pursuing a PhD in English (which was the reason I initially got my MA), I have decided to switch gears. I have always always always wanted to teach. 50% of those I talk to say I would be great at it/will like it. The other 50% tell me to run. I have no idea which half I will fall into, but it's important to me to try to make a difference. And what better way than teach my love of books and film to others? It's something I believe in and I think it so important and can help people see the world and themselves differently. So. I've decided to get my teaching certificate! I might be most assuredly crazy, but I won't know unless I try it.

I think that is pretty much my year in a nutshell. Got my master's, said goodbye to a dear, dear, misunderstood friend, ran a marathon, and celebrated a year with boy I love.  Unsure what the new year will bring (more school stuff, another year with the bf I hope, another marathon), but here are some things that I would like it to bring.

THE GREAT RESOLUTIONS OF 2014

#40402014
I hope to read 40 books this year, and watch 40 films. I have already read two books! And am currently reading Wuthering Heights (again) because it is winter and it is what I do. Tomorrow I will be watching One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, which I have seen before, but haven't watched critically.

#30#
I hope to lost 30 pounds this year. A crazy goal? Perhaps? But I am pretty sure I can do it. After my binge of chinese food tonight (whatever, I'm running tomorrow, get off my back)

#writeorwrong
I totally just made that one up. But I hope to write more. My thesis committee told me that I have a good brain, that I am smart, but I have no confidence (which is totally true) and no work ethic (also true when it comes to school). So. Even if it's just random ramblings here (which my friends seem to enjoy?) or me pontificating on rapture films or other films/books. I should do it more. I don't know if this will lead to fiction or just more blogs/random pieces but. It's what I hope for.

In other news:
I still love dogs (as if that was ever in question). I still love living in Riverwest. I love serving/bartending (but I truly miss my old work crew). My bf is awesome. My friends are awesome. I'm a lucky gal.







Saturday, August 3, 2013

On Losing a Pet: Topper's Tale

Let me begin by saying that this post is purely for vanity. It's to help me feel better about an excruciating decision that I recently made. And to remember my mostly-sweet boy, Topper.

Topper was a black greyhound who came into the adoption group I worked with about 2 or three years ago. He had been returned because he was grumbly with his then-family. These issues presented themselves from what we thought was a lack of leadership from his family. The group decided he just needed a firm hand, and so into a foster home he went.

He did not do well in said foster home. Knowing that he wasn't going to be easy to place, and running desperately low on foster homes, the burden of Topper came to me, the foster coordinator. As the then-foster coordinator, I would often take the dogs that had "issues." And he did have issues.

At first, one couldn't even walk by his dog bed (or anywhere near where he was laying) without him growling. We successfully trained this behavior out of him (mostly, his behavior was, if anything erratic). But then one night, while I was out, and my then-partner was sleeping, Topper attacked our sweet senior greyhound, Super.

Super pulled through, although it wasn't pretty (when a dog gets attacked, it is never pretty; even less so when a greyhound is involved as they have no body fat).

A couple months later my partner and I split up, yet were still living together. The dogs could sense this and were both decidedly on my side. Super took to peeing on his pillow (she was perfectly house trained and he had taken the bed, while I was on the couch). Topper took to viciously growling at him while Topper was eating. This is the only time I saw Topper so outwardly aggressive about his food. I secretly relished these transgressions and even took solace in them as I was going thru a rough time, and it was nice to know that the other residents of the house were on my side.

Super passed away due to what the doctor suspected was cancer. This was the first dog of my own I ever had to euthanize. I still get sad when I think about it. She was my first greyhound, and I had her for 9 years (she was 11 when she passed). The vet told me she was in a lot of pain, and due to her age, I knew that treating her for cancer wasn't going to be an option. It was completely unexpected for me.

Fortunately, Topper was there when I came home. I absolutely have no idea what I would have done if I would have come home to an empty house. My friends carried me through that night, and for that I will be forever thankful (that and Xanax).

Shortly after Super's passing, Kessie came into my life. She was another "misfit" who had multiple bites on her history (possession aggression, and supposedly space aggression, which I have never seen exhibited) She looked a little like Super but had the most playful, happy personality. She was a bundle of energy, and her and Topper got along extraordinarily well. It was a strange match, but I knew they were going to be mine forever. She had a spirit about her that I couldn't get over. Just like the Cars' song, she was just what I needed.

So there we were, a bunch of misfits living in my huge decrepit house with me. After making the decision to formally adopt Topper and Kessie, Topper bit me in the face.
Yep. In the face.
I have a jagged, Harry Potter like scar on the right side of my face.
He was sleeping in the bed with me (as he was wont to do), I moved, he startled and attacked.
Why he startled this time, and not the countless other times he had slept in the bed with me? I have no idea.
He immediately snapped out of it, and followed me to the bathroom as I inspected the wound (I initially thought he scratched me or something, I was shocked at the fact that I needed 18 stitches. I think I have a ridiculously high pain tolerance).

While I didn't brush this incident off, I did realize I was playing with fire. I knew Topper had sleep aggression, and like an idiot, I thought it was gone.
 New precautions were taken.
Topper would be muzzled at night

Things went smoothly with this situation. A new, permanent boyfriend entered the picture, and while he's not a crazy dog person, he respected my insanity.

I moved to a new place, Topper and Kessie seemed to love it. Topper didn't like to meet new dogs on leash, but again, it was something I could manage. No big deal. Not IDEAL. But not necessarily a deal breaker.

In his time with me, Topper learned to LOVE meeting new people. At first a bit shy with strangers, and even growling at friends when we first got him, he learned that strangers gave pets, and sometimes treats! He would often seek people out on walks, knowing that they would often ask if they could pet him, and I would always acquiesce.

So things were going well. I was managing Topper's aggression as best as I could. He and Kessie were muzzled when I wasn't home, and at night, during bed time. I could pet Topper when he was laying on his dog bed, and his recall was getting really good, with me being able to call him off the bath mat (his recent favorite spot) to be gated in the living room.

Then one night, I didn't muzzle Topper. I had some people over, drank too much, and went to bed. In the middle of the night, the boyfriend heard a rustling. Topper had gotten a bag of Oreos off the kitchen table and was trying to eat them. Boyfriend, half asleep and perhaps not knowing/realizing Topper's dumb issues, reached for the Oreos. Topper went for his face. BF quickly turned around and Topper bit him in the back. It didn't break the skin or rip his shirt, but it was still a major step back. I could tell he was upset and shook up (and rightfully so).

So I placed an email to a trainer that came highly recommended.

Four days later Topper was able to get the baby gate unlatched (don't ask how, both BF and I were confused as this happened twice during this night). Topper was in the kitchen. Not responding to my offers of treats, he wouldn't move. I walked over to him and latched a leash to him (often my last resort with him, but always successful), and started to lead him towards the living room. He was having none of it and immediately started growling, and when I tried to tug (gently, obviously) he charged me, baring teeth, eyes wild. I have no doubt that if he hadn't been muzzled I would have been bitten. This happened multiple times, with it escalating when I pulled a dining room chair between us to block him from getting close to me.

By this time it became a battle of wits.
I could have let him stay in the kitchen. But that was not the rule of the land. And as dumb as it sounds, he would have gotten his way.
By luring him with a piece of bread, I got him in the living room.
Again he unlatched the gate.
Again he acted insane when I tried to get him to go into the living room.
I had never seen him this bad for so long.
As I said previously he usually snapped out of it right away but he wouldn't this time.
I was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.
I knew that I was going to have to make a decision that I didn't want to make.
Topper ended up in the guest room that night.
I cried myself to sleep.

The next day I alerted close greyhound friends of my plans. All were tremendously supportive.
One friend said a dog like Topper is a huge liability.
Another said only I knew him best.
Another suggested I do a full blood work-up, and research vasculitis, a condition he was diagnosed with upon first getting adopted (upon doing research, from my understanding the vasculitis is an auto-immune disorder that often occurs because of a major infection. In this case, it was because Topper's tail wasn't healing properly, and eventually was amputated. From what I could tell, it doesn't cause pain after the original, underlying cause is found--in this case, it would have been his tail).

And while I wasn't against doing a full blood panel, he had had multiple panels done before (over the years) and all posted WNL.

What I saw that night scared me.
And I've been bitten in the face.
I don't scare easily.
I couldn't continually, in good conscience, put my friends, BF, dog sitters, my own dog in danger by having him around.
Why he reacted in such a fashion is beyond me. Nothing was different about that night. Furniture hadn't been re-arranged, nothing was left in the living room that should have been there. It was as typical of a night as any.

So I made the call.
My vet graciously fit me in.
We discussed Topper's issues (she knew of them), and she reassured me I had done all I could. While I'm sure it was just lip service, it was still nice to hear.

I have seen countless euthanasias. I used to work at a humane society where I was actually trained to perform them. And I did. It wasn't fun, but it is, unfortunately, part of shelter work.

Topper did not go down easily. I watched the doctor administer the drugs.
The vet tech was extraordinarily gentle.
I was stroking Topper's hocks.
And then a door shut.
The vet coughed.
And Topper.
Oh Topper.
He lost it.
He made what I can only describe as the worst sound you'd ever hear.
It wasn't purely pain.
It wasn't purely aggression.
It was like this weird mix of pain, aggression, confusion.
I don't know.
The vet and the tech, apologized profusely, and ended the procedure as quickly as they could.
It wasn't their fault.
The catheter was in properly, the vein wasn't blown out.
He was just reacting the only way he could.
He was losing control, and wasn't able to react in the way he wanted to.

After the procedure, the doctor and I chatted a bit.
I asked her if she's ever had a dog react that way.
I told her about my euthanasia experiences, and how I've never seen this.
But with her years of experience, I thought surely she must have.
She said she's witnessed some vocalization, but nothing like this.
She also said, that right before he started vocalizing, she could see his eyes change. She said it was fascinating to watch, as unfortunate as that sounds. I told her I understood what she meant.

While some may interpret this experience as a bad one. I only thought this reinforced my decision.
Even in death, Topper didn't have a normal reaction.
Was their something wrong with his brain?
Was he just wired wrong?
I won't ever know the answers, and I'm sorry that I couldn't fix him.
Or manage him as the case may be.

A couple days later I received a call from the trainer I had previously contacted.
I sheepishly told her that I had, unfortunately, made the decision to euthanize him.
She asked me if something prompted that decision.
I explained the kitchen episode.
She then went on to tell me that as she was reading my initial email, she was left somewhat aghast.
She told me she was unsure if she would have even been able to help me, and that without meeting him, and just knowing what I said, that I had made the right decision.

We chatted a bit more and she gave me her theories about aggression (which I believe were culled from another behaviorists theories):

Aggression can't be cured. It can only be managed: this was like a god-send to hear. I'm sure people will say that they cured their dog of certain types of aggression, she likened it to smoking. No one is 100% sure that they will never ever smoke again. We can THINK that we will never smoke again. But we don't KNOW for sure.

She said that one type of aggression can often be managed with success.
Two, you're pushing it, but maybe its doable, depending on what types of aggression.
Anything over two and you're getting into dangerous territory

Topper had possessive aggression, sleep aggression, space aggression, leash aggression (with other dogs). And these were (aside from the leash aggression) all unpredictable.

She respected my knowledge as a former shelter worker and the work I've done with my adoption group. She said this type of aggression in a greyhound, for one, is a red flag. These are not highly aggressive dogs (sure they can be sassy and have their issues, but most are not aggressive).

She asked how the procedure when.
"Well. Not good."
"Let me guess, he didn't go down easy."
I explained what happened, and she agreed with my theory on the subject. Something just wasn't right and he was reacting in the way he knew how.

It was just a really great conversation to have. Two people who obviously love dogs, and want them to be well, but yet still know that we won't know everything there is to know about every situation. I think it really helped my healing process.

The other thing I have to mention is the outpouring of support that came with this horrible event. I posted on Facebook, and received "likes" and comments from friends and strangers. Friends of friends, people who have never met me, sent me condolences. It was truly humbling, and showed me how strong this connection is that we have with our pets.

These are creatures that we see everyday. We feed them. We take care of them. We pick up their poop! They make us laugh and giggle at their silly antics.
They frustrate us with their incessant naughtiness and sassy streaks.
And they always, eventually, make us cry.

Hug your loved ones, pets or not, a little closer tonight. How we ever got lucky enough to have them is a grand mystery.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hipster Music Post

Let's begin by saying we are all hipsters. Every one of us. So just shut up about it. Embrace it. Wear your Chuck Taylors that you've been wearing since the beginning of time with pride. Own your musical tastes.  ISN'T THAT WHAT COMMUNICATING/LIVING IS ALL ABOUT.

Oh I haven't heard of that band.
Why do you think I'd like said band? 
Oh. That sounds interesting. Perhaps I will give it a try. 
Thank you for sharing.

Let's just be excited for things. Can we just do that?
We are better than a lot of people.
And worse than a lot of people.

I like flip-flops and I try to keep a vegan lifestyle.
I like skirts and jeans and tank tops.
I like some bands.
I like some books.
I like some movies.
I like wine.
I don't really like beer.

So with that being said, let's enter my annual (not really, I think this is the first-ever) concert review blog!

Thus far, my favorite concert of the summer, if not my life has been Paul McCartney.
Who is Paul McCartney you ask?
Just kidding.
Everyone knows who Paul McCartney is.
He was the lead singer of Wings.
And a member of a little pop band called the Beatles.
He's real.
He's 71 years old.
He's a vegetarian.
He was recently in Milwaukee.
And I was extraordinarily fortunate to go to the show.
It was.
It was bloody fucking fantastic.
I don't really know what else to say.
He didn't play Uncle Albert, but he played Let Me Roll It.
He didn't play No More Lonely Nights, but he played Mrs. Vanderbilt (which we learned Ukrainians love)
He didn't play Silly Love Songs, but he played Hi Hi Hi
He didn't play Jet, but he played Band on the Run.
He didn't play Martha My Dear, but he played Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.
He didn't play Maxwell's Silver Hammer, but he played Lovely Rita.
Lovely tribute to George Harrison by playing a ukulele version of Something.
Lovely tribute to Linda by playing Maybe I'm Amazed.
Both tributes moved me to tears.
Oh.
And he also played Live and Let Die, complete with the most ridiculous on-stage pyrotechnics I've ever witnessed and fireworks.

I just can't really get over how amazing the show was. It was awesome.
And I fully understand my privilege in being able to go, and am forever grateful to a friend who offered me an extra ticket at face value. I will forever be indebted to her, and this unforgettable experience.

Billy Idol.
What?
Yeah, I saw Billy Idol.
And it was a riot. He played all the hits, and I had fun.
Am I Billy Idol fan? Not necessarily, but the guy was ridiculous, and funny, and also in amazing shape.
Plus I was surrounded by besties, and that makes any concert (usually) better.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Shortly after seeing Billy Idol, we got to see Tom Petty.
If I'm being truthful, it wasn't my favorite concert of his. When you see someone 8 or 9 times, this starts to happen. Not every show can be the best, and while it wasn't a bad show, by any means, it wasn't my favorite. It could have been due to the fact that I wasn't seeing it with my usual Petty Crew (moms, pops, JS), but I was with the bf, and my bestie, Prude.
But I think the major factor was the rain.
As you all know, or at least you do now, I really hate getting wet.  I take showers in record time, and I can't remember the last time I went swimming. So although I was a trooper and realized I was just going to be soaked, it still put a damper on the experience.
The plus side was that he played some Traveling Wilburys (aside from every other major hit you'd want to hear including some choice covers), and that's always fun.

Smith Westerns
The last time I saw Smith Westerns was at Turner Hall, in Milwaukee. While I love the historicity of the venue, the sound is often something to be desired. They were touring on their "Dye It Blonde" album and their song "Smile" was a favorite whilst residing in the bell jar. So I was very excited to see the show, but a little worried as their sound is a little retro, with feedback and wall-of-sound-type tones. And the show (in Milwaukee) was a little concerning. I feared, as a friend had suggested, that they were just a studio band. Would they get better? Was their success just new?
Yes.
Upon seeing them last night (FOR FREE! Wisconsin is really batting 1000 with free music this year, methinks), they have matured wonderfully. Their sound was lush and full and their vocals had vastly improved. They weren't perfect, but the band was engaging, and were most comfortable playing their early songs.
I wish they would have played longer, but that is a common complaint of festival shows.
But yeah, excited to see how they've grown musically (love their third album), and professionally (showmanship).

Tonight I will be taking in some musical theater!
Because I'm super classy!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

I was outside already.
Give me a break.
Once an indoor kid, always an indoor kid.

So it's a common quandry.
I have the time.
The muster.
And absolutely nothing to say.

Dogs are snoozy.
Which is how they are most of the time.
Topper still hates meeting other dogs on leash, and got snarky with another greyhound.
ONE OF HIS OWN.
Kessie, of course, wants to meet every dog and become every dog's BFF.
Maybe Topper is just jealous of this, since Kessie is his BFF.

The Brewers are winning which isn't as common as I would like it to be.
But it felt good to weed the garden (oh it's not even close to being done, but I'm out of garden waste bags so I'm taking myself out of it) and have the boys on the radio.
Or radjio as Grandma Dorothy would say.

Recently watched "Behind the Candelabra."
That was amazing.
I knew nothing of Liberace other than that he was gay and from Milwaukee.
And it was all so...
QUEER.
The acting was divine, and everyone deserves awards.
So you should totally watch it.
This is my advice.

Also just watched "Cabin in the Woods."
WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME BRADLEY WHITFORD WAS IN IT!?!?
Do you realize how much I love that man?
AND
The best part is he basically played Josh Lyman in the film.
Snarky, cocky, but also kind of nice.
The film itself was also good!
WHAT!??
A movie I actually enjoyed!?!?!
It's true.
Although, for some reason, I thought (if my memory serves, which let's be real, it might not), I thought there were twists in it? Seemed pretty straightforward to me.

But I'm really good at watching movies.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon of a Holiday Weekend

When you can't thing of things to write about, but you're dying to write (or BLOG as the kids are saying these days) what do you?

Start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start.

So I sit at the Alterra in my new neighborhood.
Tum full of vicodin and a hummus wrap and coffee and soy milk.
I'm not even a pill popper, you guys.
I had my wisdom teeth out.
Give me a BREAK.
(although let's be real. If I had more more, I would totes be a drug addict. I think we all know that)

Random thoughts:
Sometimes feeling like a grown-up is okay.
Not everything I do has to make the world a better place.
I still don't shop at Target.
I still try to eschew shopping at box stores.
I try to patron local businesses as much as possible.
I can't save all the dogs, but I've saved a couple at least.
Sometimes I have good ideas.
Has anything been written on the Lord of the Rings being anti-semitic?
If I didn't hate the text so much I might research this further.
Remember when that guy in my class thought I was a lesser being (i.e. female) for not liking BORED of the Rings? LOLZ!
Being vegan is challenging but it's a good kind of challenge!
I miss running!
I got my wisdom teeth out two days ago and went out to dinner with school chums and then went dancing.
I'm A WINNER!
Sometimes I think I'm really really smart, even though my grades don't reflect that.
I need to get my bike(s) tuned up. It's really dumb that I drive to work everyday.
My tank top addiction has been replaced by a thrift-store skirt addiction, which I haven't actually begun yet, but revel in thinking about.
I hate that my self esteem is dictated by my grades and attention from dudes and my weight.
I think I have a new hairstyle I want to try out.
The UK Being Human is really good.
Pretty sure the bf is a creative nazi who doesn't realize my creative genius. This will probably change soon.
I have a love-hate relationship with academia.
Having a life plan is strange.
I miss smoking.
I already read Crow After Roe and am now reading World War Z. Then I'll move on to reading books on my shelf. Probably read Less Than Zero again. Taking recommendations.
Reading is all sorts of cool.
I still have library fines. At both the public library and the UWM library.
I have a love-hate relationship with judging people.
I wish the Brewers were playing better.
I still need to plant.
My first CSA came and it is chock full of asparagus and potatoes!
I will probably make a vegan rhubarb/strawberry/apple pie for my Procrastination Birthday Celebration. Among other things.
Just realized a vegan gyro with homemade cuke sauce is in my future. Details to follow.
Going to LA soon.
I never tire of hearing about people's relationship with food or exercise regimens.
Just realized if/when I graduate I will be the first person in my family's history (as far as I know) with a Master's Degree.
I will also be almost 100g in debt.
But I'll have time to work on the next novel to define a generation.
Remember when people thought I was a good writer?
"I am a writer. I writer of fiction."--The Decemberists
They got proggy didn't they.
Good thing I like Yes and King Crimson.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Class Issues

I'm pretty sure I was who Shakespeare was referencing when he wrote "green-eyed monster" in Othello. I am an insanely jealous person.

Not so much about material things.
I don't care if you have a nice car, or if you have nice clothes (well I kind of care--like where you purchased them from, but I'm pretty sure that is another topic).
But.
I am really jealous of people who have an insane amount of privilege AND they don't realize it.
Or.
They realize it and squander it.

This all began upon listening to an old Savage Love podcast (which is a godsend when I'm about to stab my eyes out writing copy for glitter-bomb sweatshirts). A caller was wondering what to do because she was dating an older man that her parents didn't approve of, and they were threatening to cut her off financially. She was getting her bachelor's degree in something that required her to continue on to graduate school. So she was going through a first-world Sophie's Choice.

Because, you know who put me through college?
ME.
The plus side: I could do whatever I wanted during my college years (which are still going on by the way). This meant I could move in with a boy I like. Or not go to class because I didn't feel like it. I didn't have grades to keep up or anyone to answer to financially.

The down side:
I had to work through college. I still have to work through college. This not only means that I don't have the free time that other students have, but I don't have the option of getting an unpaid internship which could give me other connections/experiences which could help me get a job/ins/contacts for the future.

And this is just the business side of things. As a graduate student who works full time, I'm unable to attend roundtable/brown-bag lunches and/or take part in other academic endeavors that tend to take place during the work day. While my work is currently VERY flexible (and I am SO VERY THANKFUL FOR THAT), they aren't THAT flexible. I can't take two hour lunches without me staying until 8pm, which would then cut into my homework time and...you see where this is going?

AND I HAVE IT EASY.
I am an adult. I know I have to do certain things, and I have made certain choices. I chose to go to graduate school when I didn't have an assistantship. I could have quit my full time job, but I was left with a house due to a split, yadda yadda yadda. I understand that these are the choices I've made.

But think about people who aren't as fortunate as me.
There is an excellent New York Times article which talks about this issue in depth, by following three low-income girls who succeeded in high-school but are having a tough time succeeding in college. It's a class issue. I was raised in a middle class family, or maybe I just thought I was? Except for my first semester of college, I went to public, state schools. Upon completion of my master's, I will have $40g+ of debt.

College costs are going up. It's not fair (and yeah, I know life isn't fair. I'm just venting), but what are people/kids supposed to do?  Think of those who don't have flexible jobs, or people with kids who are trying to better their position? How are they supposed to compete with those who don't have those responsibilities?

I don't have answers.
I'm not saying that my life is SO HARD.
Cos it isn't.
I love school. I actually do really like my job. I am super-duper fortunate that I even have a job and an undergraduate degree and an almost master's (first one in my family, yo!). But sometimes, I get a little testy when I hear people complain about their free money getting taken away. People get by on so much less all the time. And I sometimes wish people would be cognizant of that. Not everyone has the luxury of pulling allnighters or going for that internship.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vegan Challenge Week One: COMPLETE!

You may or may not know that I'm participating in a psuedo-family vegan challenge. My aunt and a couple of uncles are taking part as well. And....

IT'S GOING REALLY WELL!

I'm super broke, and thus can't be super creative yet. And I've had to use what I've had in my pantry, which isn't a whole lot (I moved in November and got rid of a TON of stuff).

So.
With that in mind, I think the challenge is going really well.
While I've had to fall back on a couple of old stand-bys:

  • veggie refried beans/onions/lettuce burrito
  • pasta with red sauce and/or olive oil and veggies
  • salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over it
  • vegan bread from an AMAZING local bakery, Rocket Baby (full disclosure, the owners are friends of mine and I have worked part-time for them in the past. WITH that being said, I don't live in the neighborhood and will be back when my current bread supply runs out).
  • a terrific vegan chili from The Vegan Slow Coooker, which when I get paid, will be a mother-loving god send. Even if you're not a vegetarian or vegan, this cookbook has amazing recipes for the slow cooker.
Pros:
I am being more creative with cooking/using up what I have.
I always look at labels, so that hasn't been too different.
The fake butter isn't awesome, but it isn't terrible and it's half the calories of regular butter (yes, okay, FINE. I would be lying if I said I wasn't doing this to lose a little weight. I'm not a big fan of the way I look right now, and I'm hoping this, as well as the other regimens I've implemented) will help me tackle that).
Oh! And it's cheap! Not buying cheese or milk is fairly easy on the budget.
Yellow Tail reds are vegan (actually, their whole website is super helpful and says upfront which wines are vegan AND gives nutritional information)!

Cons:
I'm craving sweets? I don't know if this has to do with me being vegan-y, but I almost bought a pack of windmill cookies at Walgreens!?! What!? Totally not me, and in the end I didn't do it, but...
Wine. A. LOT. of wine is not vegan. As I'm really trying hard to not be a super huge burden on people, I have drank some wine that isn't for sure vegan. Barnivore has been a godsend in regards to booze, but it has sadly informed me that cider and certain wines I like are not vegan.
Since I'm cooking almost everything, the clean-up SUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKSSSSS.

All in all.
I feel good. 
Energy is decent.
Excited to make new things!