Rules

May 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm (About Me) (, , , )

I ended up with a rather busier Memorial Day weekend than I might have wished for myself.  It didn’t leave a whole lot of time for spending on the computer (although some of that was just me avoiding the computer because I wanted a technology break).

I ended up spending a lot of time reading, which was nice.  I poked a bit around my little garden, since more of my plants are blooming now.  I also spent some time just thinking.

I’m pretty sure a lot of people think I’m rigid.  Call it that, or stubborness, or any old thing – it all amounts to about the same thing.  My family especially likes to point this particular trait out to me, usually because they think I’m too rigid (or stubborn or whatever).

The older I get (and I realize I’m still not that old), the more impatient I get with being dismissed that way.  Because in so many ways, it is completely a dismissal.  People think, oh, we don’t need to listen to Mary, because she’s just being stubborn.  She’s not able to be flexible, so she isn’t seeing the world as it really is.  Maybe that viewpoint is sometimes true, but I don’t think it is nearly as often as I’m made to feel it is.

The fact is, the world exists because of rules.  I happen to find those rules pretty fascinating, perhaps because of my interest in history, or perhaps just because.  Every society has their own set of rules, and some societies even codify them.  The most fascinating thing about those rules, really, is the fact that even when people say that they’re outdated and ridiculous, most people still follow a large chunk of them.

So the fact that I know many of these rules (call them etiquette, call them manners, call them society, or anything else) and recognize both their value and their hold on people does not make me rigid.  Wanting to follow them myself does not make me stubborn.  Wanting to preserve a standard that is based on the ideal of a smoothly-operating society does not mean that I will apply that standard rigidly in every case I see.  But when I do apply it rigidly, that doesn’t mean I’m blowing things all out of proportion.

It might very well look as though I take offense at things that I would not have been offended by several years ago (before I actually learned these rules).  But I think what’s really happening is that now I know what I have a right to be offended over, and what I don’t.  So instead of a vague feeling of discomfort a lot of the time, I’m able to brush off things that shouldn’t offend me, and focus my energy on dealing with those things that do.  Ultimately, those rules of society apply just as much to myself as they do to anyone else, if not more so.  They help me figure out what the best course of action is in sticky situations, and come out the other side without pissing off everyone around me or burning any undeserving bridges.

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Enchiladas

May 18, 2009 at 8:30 am (About Me, Cooking) (, , )

I made enchiladas yesterday for dinner.  Here is a list of all the things I probably should have done differently:

  1. Start enchiladas sometime before 5 pm if you want to eat before 8.
  2. Use less chili powder (2 tablespoons is OMGWAYTOOMUCH).
  3. Use less oil to saute onions and chili powder.
  4. Let sauce cool before trying to do anything else.
  5. Use fresh tortillas, not some that have been sitting in your freezer for 3 months, that you have to pry apart and let dry on a dish towel on your counter.
  6. Don’t use an enchilada-sauce-covered utensil to retrieve tortillas from the hot oil.  Enchilada sauce will fry, and that is not at all delicious.
  7. Get a flipping cheese wire, or at least find a better way of slicing the Monterey Jack into pieces.
  8. Don’t expect your enchiladas to actually be discrete pieces after they’re cooked – better to treat it like the casserole that it probably is at that point.
  9. Use meat of some kind for the filling if you don’t want your boyfriend to complain about the fact that there’s no meat in your meal (although I was perfectly happy with the cheese).

The end result was cheese enchiladas that were actually pretty good, aside from the fact that they were so spicy they made my tongue hurt all night.  Dumping a whole lot of cheese on top (instead of just a sprinkling) and eating them with sour cream helped, but they were still spicier than I’d like.  My mom told me I’ve just lived outside of Texas for too long, but I’m convinced that she burned her taste buds off years ago with all the spicy food she eats.

And, God help me, I’ve got these enchiladas in my lunch today.  Should be fun. 🙂

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Finished!

May 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm (About Me, Hobbies) (, , )

So, I finished planting all of my new plants, and arranged them on my patio in a way that I hope will give them all enough sun (or enough shade, as the case may be).  But gardening is very tiring work!

Anyway, I put my spider plant in a new pot:

It looks a little sad, because Im a bad houseplant mommy.

It looks a little sad, because I'm a bad houseplant mommy.

It’s a rather lovely little pot, that I even got on sale!  I’m hoping the gravel I put in the bottom will keep it draining well.

And here is a picture of my “work in progress” that I took this afternoon before getting started:

Its too bad I dont get more of that lovely sunlight on my patio!

It's too bad I don't get more of that lovely sunlight on my patio!

It prominently features my lovely little nandina (in the bronze pot).  The red leaves at the top are the new growth.  I’ll have to figure out if this plant requires pruning before the summer is over.

And here, we have a lovely little jumble of plants waiting to be put into containers:

Such nice colors, arent they?

Such nice colors, aren't they?

Those are impatients (the white/pink and the purple flowers), lobelia (the blue flowers), and diascia (the trailing pink flowers).

And I also have some fuchsia hybrids and a plant that I couldn’t for the life of me identify (it lost it’s little label):

This is only about half the planter.

This is only about half the planter.

I’ve also got a shrub that’s called Hebe.  It’ll eventually have pink flowers (although I have no idea if it has bloomed already or not this year), but for now it’s just rather leafy:

Its pretty small right now, but Im hoping it will get bigger soon.

It's pretty small right now, but I'm hoping it will get bigger soon.

And finally, I have some lovely gerbera daisies that I’m really hoping don’t die on me.  They’re a bit of a risk, since they can be fussy, but they sure are pretty:

Here is my orange-ish one...

Here is my orange-ish one...

...and my red one.

...and my red one.

So, there we have it!  I’ll leave you with a shot of my cute little patio garden:

Also included is my extra bag of soil - I was so close to guessing the right amount!

Also included is my extra bag of soil - I was so close to guessing the right amount!

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Discipline? What’s that?

May 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm (About Me) (, , )

It’s a lovely spring/summer day here today.  I think it’s supposed to get up near 80 ultimately, although I’d be quite happy if it stayed at 70 or 75.  But even so, it’s a perfect day for gardening.  I was just out planting some things, and am taking a break before I go out and plant some more.  Container gardening on a patio that gets very little sun is terribly frustrating sometimes, but I have to admit that it is rather nice to have the whole set up 15 feet from my living room couch.

It’s got me thinking, though, about one of my most common personality traits.  I’m really very bad at following through with things.  I have lots of big ideas about all sorts of things, but most of them never make it past the idea stage.  Even some things that do, I don’t finish.

It’s not a trait I particularly like about myself.  It’s just not very nice to think about all the things I want to do, and remember all the things I haven’t done.  I don’t do this out of laziness, since a lot of the things I want to do and never finish are pretty sedentary activities (like movies – I am so bad at actually finishing movies).  I sometimes half wonder if I have a very mild form of ADD that, because I can function in society without any external assistance, isn’t really a disorder.  Because the reason I don’t end up following through on ideas is that I just have so many of them, and the one I’m currently working on is always the least interesting of them all.

And the other part of the problem is that I just have so many interests.  It’s not exactly true that I’m interested in everything, but it’s not actually as much of an exaggeration as it might seem.  Still, there are only so many waking hours in each day, and I have to devote a whole lot of them to working.  I’d probably have more time to devote to useful pursuits if I didn’t genuinely enjoy goofing off, too.  It’s a luxury that I intend to hang on to as long as I can, because this is the first time in my life when I’ve truly been able to do that on a regular basis (and I know that won’t last if I have kids).

Despite all that, I’m taking it as a good sign that this whole gardening project has managed to keep my interest long enough for me to actually buy plants, and plant them.  I’m not done with the planting part (mostly because it’s hard work, and I enjoy it more if I take breaks each time I finish with a container), but I’ll finish it today.  I think what I really need to do is learn to tailor all of my interests to this known and seemingly intractable personality trait.  Maybe I’ll never be the best at most of what I do, but that doesn’t really matter as long as I’m good enough to please myself.

So basically, I think the reason I might actually manage this gardening thing is that I’ll spend the bulk of my free time this weekend putting plants into containers…but then all I really have to do most of the time is keep them watered.

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Happy birthday to me!

May 4, 2009 at 8:50 am (About Me)

Man, I haven’t posted in ages.  I’ve been fairly wrapped up in other things for the past couple of weeks.  Then Amiel got sick (and then I got sick), but now I think everything has settled down a little, and I may actually have something to say someday soon. 🙂

Amiel and I went and saw Spamalot over the weekend.  It was a traveling Broadway production, and I have to say, it was very enjoyable.  I wasn’t completely sure it was going to be my thing, but it was pretty funny.  Either way, it was for Amiel’s birthday, and he probably enjoyed it more with me than he would have going by himself.

It’s actually kind of funny at times, having a birthday so close to Amiel’s.  Mine is today, and his is next Monday, so the most natural thing for us is to celebrate them jointly.  It seems a bit silly for him to give me a present, and then for me to turn around and give him one.  Ditto for things like going out to dinner or making a big production out of just one birthday at a time.  It ends up being a lot more fun if we just combine everything (presents, celebrations, etc.), since we’d be celebrating together in any case.

Although Amiel did buy me flowers yesterday.  I saw some roses that were a really lovely shade of orange (sort of a pinkish orange, if that makes sense), so Amiel bought them for me.  One thing I’ve been happy to discover is that roses that have multiple blossoms per stem tend to be cheaper than the regular long-stemmed kind.  What’s even better is that you get more blossoms, and I like that kind of rose better anyway (in part because the flowers are a little bit smaller).

Anyway, it’s the weirdest thing, but I just can’t drum up very much enthusiasm at all for my birthday.  It could be because it’s on a Monday, and enthusiasm is often rather elusive on Mondays as a general thing.  It’s also possibly because Amiel and I were both feeling a little sick this weekend, which meant that I couldn’t really hang out with anyone but him.  What’s interesting to me, though, is that I’m not really bothered by my lack of enthusiasm.  24 isn’t exactly an exciting year, and I feel like I’m past the point where I should really expect anything else than the standard good wishes from my nearest and dearest.  And, lucky for me, all of my nearest and dearest remembered. 🙂

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April 8, 2009 at 9:14 am (About Me) (, )

Sometimes, after you’ve just been sort of cruising along for awhile, not having to deal with anything out of the ordinary or anything unusual, life seems to just sort of hit you with a whole lot of things at once.  They’re not always bad (and in fact, sometimes they are good), but it can be surprising.  The past week has really been like that for me.  I can think of half a dozen different posts I could write just about the last 7 days.

For now, I think I’ll just stick to writing about Houston.  The strangest thing is that everything there was so incredibly familiar.  I knew it would be familiar, because I grew up there and haven’t honestly been gone that long, but it felt as though I’d never left.  The only way I could tell that I’d been gone for a year and a half was that my memory of street names was a little fuzzy at times.  But otherwise?  I could have just been returning from a short vacation.

I just never expected the familiarity and, really, the comfort of it all to hit me so hard.  I immediately remembered all the reasons why I’d wanted to go back, as well as most of the reasons I was happy to be away.  That’s what made me think so strongly that “this is home” – I wasn’t just remembering the positives so suddenly.

Even with all of that swirling around in my head, I’m extremely glad I was able to visit.  I was able to see nearly all the people I wanted to, and eat in most of the restaurants I’d been missing. 🙂  I had a lot of really good conversations with some people, and they’ve given me a lot to think about.  I’ve been reminded of just how much I appreciate some people, and just how much I think I’m needed by others.

My flight home was a little rocky, but only because the whole trip started out late, which meant that my close connection became even closer, and my bag didn’t make it on the same flight as me.  Fortunately, it arrived in Portland several hours after I did, and I’m supposed to get it via FedEx this morning.

But the most amazing thing about this whole trip is that I don’t know that I realized just how…torn I am between where I live now and where I grew up.  Because that instant familiarity I had with Houston?  I had it when I got home, too.  Even though I was gone for nearly a week, it was as if I’d never left.  I slipped right back in to my life here with barely a stutter.

How is it that one person can feel so strongly about two places?  And yet, they don’t actually compete with each other.  I feel equally strongly about Oregon and Houston, but it’s still different.  Houston is and always will be the home of my childhood, and I’ll always feel a very close affinity with it for that reason alone.  Oregon is the place where I’ve settled into my adult self.  And I’ve been and will continue to be happy here.  I think I’ll always want to be able to visit both places, for the people and just for the places themselves.

But it struck me that I’d really better get used to this feeling, because it’s only going to amplify as I get older.  Because of the circumstances of my life, I will not be able to settle anywhere permanently for awhile, unless I just get really lucky.  I will almost certainly spend my 20s being relatively nomadic.  Unless I just refuse to put down roots in all the places I live, pieces of my life will always have an indelible association with the location where they happened.  Certain times of my life will always be wrapped up in where I was living at the time.  I know this is completely normal, but I don’t know that I really understood exactly what that meant until now.

Fortunately, the idea of all that doesn’t scare me as much as it once might have.  I’ve proven to myself that I can make a home in a new place that I’ve never been to before, and that I can be happy with it.  It’s frequently hard, and it often sucks, but I’m doing it.  Surprisingly, I actually look forward to doing it again.  If anyone had told me I’d say that 5 years ago, I’d have called them crazy.  But even knowing that it will be hard and it will often suck, I still look forward to the experience.  Maybe it’s false optimism, but I think I sometimes need to be forced out of my comfort zone.  I know that every time I ever have been in my life, it’s been good for me and I’ve ended up liking myself that much better.

And you know, if being happy is living truly without regrets (and not just saying that because you wish you could), then I am.  When I look back at my life so far, the times when I have been the most dissatisfied and unhappy are those times when I wished I could have done things differently.  The times when I have been the most comfortable in my own skin, and the most happy, are when I think I did everything just exactly right.  At the moment, if I were to have a chance to live the past couple of years again, I don’t think I’d change a single thing.

Who’d have thought that one small vacation could teach me so much?

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A bit of an experiment (and a bit about me)

January 12, 2009 at 6:31 pm (About Me) ()

So there’s a saying I always heard my mom say when I was growing up.  “You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.”  My parents moved to California right after she was in college, but moved back to Texas just a few years later.  They’ve lived there ever since, but my mom is always mentally kicking herself for leaving California.  When I asked her why she moved back, her answer was sometimes that particular saying.

I always thought it was kind of a funny thing to say, but I think I get it now.  I moved to Oregon about a year and a half ago.  I don’t regret it for a minute, but damn, do I want to move back to Texas.  I miss it so much it hurts sometimes.  I miss it especially when I’m looking for a job.  The longer I’m out of the state, the more I cling to the pieces of it that I carry around with me.

So, the tagline for this blog is referring to the fact that you can pry my Texas out of my cold, dead fingers, thank you very much.  Part of the reason I cling so hard to it is because I miss it, but another really big part of it is that I just always feel the slightest bit out of place here on the west coast.  There are plenty of things to like about Oregon, but every so often, I take a small mental step back and think, this place is crazy.  I mean, Texas is pretty crazy, too, but it’s my crazy!

So anyway, I’ve used other blogging software for years, but I’m sort of thinking about making something of a clean break.  Or cleanish, anyway.  I think it might end up being a nice change for me to have a blog that’s really not associated with any others, and that has something of a theme beyond “random stuff I felt like posting today.”  There’s certainly a time and a place for that, but I think I might ultimately appreciate a record of my life in Oregon…and all the other places I’m likely to live before I can get back to my own personal Holy Grail.

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