Archive for June, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Almonds

June 28, 2010

Yesterday marked Eve’s very first (and honestly, considering my apathy towards baseball, possibly her last) visit to a ballfield. It was a company sponsored picnic, and one of my coworkers had been gracious enough to treat us to tickets, so despite the heat (which was well into the 90s), we met them at the park and spent a few hours thanking every cloud that covered the sun for even a few moments.

We slathered the baby in sunblock, strapped on her sun hat (which she tried to pull off every time she remembered it was on her head), and hosed her down with cool water every few minutes. She wore only a diaper and a t-shirt (which remained wet the whole time – her shirt, that is), and despite the fact that she’d skipped her morning and afternoon naps, she remained cheerful. She did very well in the heat, despite my worries.

The temptation of the day came in the form of an overpriced Rita’s stand as well as the enticing aroma of roasted almonds. The almonds were $4 for a small ($7 for a large!), and Marcus managed to convince me not to waste the money. I knew I could make a huge batch of my own for a fraction of the price, and so I did!

The recipe that I used and tweaked for my roasted almonds was exceedingly easy to follow, and I got to separate egg whites, which I actually take a lot of joy in doing since it was something I’d always been afraid to attempt for so many years. I didn’t measure out 4 cups of almonds, mostly out of laziness. I’d bought two 6-ounce bags of whole unsalted almonds and just used those. I added half a cup of brown sugar to the coating, and instead of a half teaspoon of cinnamon, I used a full teaspoon of pumpkin spice (I pretty much always use pumpkin spice whenever a recipe calls for cinnamon).  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the egg whites. Rather than using a jelly roll pan, I spread the almonds out in a single layer over a baking sheet with parchment paper for the baking.

The end result was not as sweet as I’d thought they would be, but that’s actually for the best, I think. I ate way too many before bed and still had more than enough to bring to work. I actually think that these will last me a while, well over a week if I don’t gorge myself on them. Since the recipe called for stuff that I always keep in my kitchen anyway, it was a quick and convenient snack to make.

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Link Love: Objectification, Intent, and Writing About Africa

June 26, 2010

I’ve been meaning to start making regular posts in which I link to posts that have really made me think for a while now. Better late than never, so here goes!

amandaw from Feminists with Disabilities explains how Feminism Objectifies Women:

“The assumption, when this person says “we have to be able to make some sort of systemic analysis and that will mean some choices have to be wrong” they are almost always assuming some specific things.

* Women have been historically locked in their homes tending their houses and families, and larger society pushes against women’s ability to participate in the workforce, and women should participate in the workforce at the highest level possible.

* Women are oversexualized, and that sexualization takes specific forms, such as high heels, lipstick, makeup, dresses.

* Women are stereotyped as demure and submissive, soft and giving, caring and intuitive.

* Women are forced into roles as family carers, encouraged to have as many children as possible and to be the primary carer to those children, stereotyped as having special natural ability to raise children.

That’s just a few.

Here’s the thing. Everything I just said above about “women”? Isn’t true for women. Rather, it is true for white women. Or cisgendered women. Or nondisabled women. It is not true for women as a class.

Genderbitch Kinsey tells us why “I didn’t mean to be transphobic/racist/whatever!” is a pathetic excuse in Intent! It’s Fucking Magic!

“So say, if you make a bunch of racist jokes, instead of contributing to the systemic oppression of POC, the bewitching might of Intent (I’m capitalizing the I now, to give it proper respect as a primary element) spreads out, blocking every single person from fully hearing the awful racist shit you just said, further preventing them from internalizing it and using it to justify actions. It also prevents it from creating an environment where racist behavior is seen as more acceptable, by twisting the very threads of fate there as well! And, the best part? If you say it in earshot of someone who’s offended or hurt by it, the occult powers of Intent change everything! Now, instead of hearing a hurtful slur or sentiment that reminds of past abuses at the hands of privileged fuckjobs, the marginalized person in question only hears the beautiful natural sound of birds chirping. Or whale noises! Because you see, Intent is just that powerful. It literally keeps anyone from getting hurt by your fuckery!”

And last but certainly not least, a short video entitled How Not To Write About Africa (click the link to read the original essay) based on the essay by Binyavanga Wainaina. I’m not a big video watcher personally, but this is well worth the few minutes. Also, Djimon Hounsou’s voice is super duper sexy.

Recipe of the Week Recap

June 25, 2010

I know I haven’t been keeping up with the recipes of the week, but not because we’ve been eating poorly. To the contrary, I’ve had difficulty remembering all of the new and fun things we’ve been trying, and forgetting exactly how I tweaked the recipes. Here’s a short list of the stuff we’ve tried within the past month:

  • Roast leg of lamb
  • Fresh garlic and rosemary butter (I learned how to blanch!)
  • Slow cooker pork chops
  • Pot roast with roasted shallot and red wine sauce
  • Meatballs and marinara sauce (each from scratch)
  • Baked garlic and rosemary french fries
  • Goulash

I’m probably forgetting a couple of random things, but the point is that Marcus and I are on a ROLL. Trying out one new recipe every week has not only forced me to learn new cooking techniques (as well as important Dos and Don’ts), but has introduced a LOT of variety into our meal plans. We used to eat just a lot of white rice, frozen spinach, and either steak or chicken – and that was mostly it. Now I’m starting to get familiar with previously spooky and unknown spices, vegetables, meats (although to be fair, I rarely handle raw meat myself; the credit goes to Marcus for that due to my salmonella paranoia*), whatever. I’m learning more about my food and exactly how various components blend together to make the flavors and textures that I enjoy. And I’m becoming a lot more confident in the kitchen, leading to more experimentation.

So what’s new in your kitchens, friends?

—-

*It’s not completely unfounded. I already had an aversion to handling raw meat, and that was before I found out that one of Marcus’ cousins, a healthy twenty-something year old woman, died within 24 hours due to salmonella poisoning and poor meat handling practices. Whenever I handle meat I end up washing my hands no less than six or seven times (after handling the meat, after handling the packaging that wrapped the meat, after handling the tongs I used on the raw meat, etc) and that is no exaggeration. I don’t fuck around.

What Happened to the Honey?

June 24, 2010

Years ago, when I first started talking to white folks about race, I used to tread lightly. I knew that the vast majority of white people can quickly get very defensive and shut down easily in discussions of race, so I bent over backwards to accommodate them. I would spend hours typing out huge responses that were as pleasant and non-accusatory and educational as I could possibly be.

And what happened whenever I did this? I was accused of calling people racists, even though I had specifically gone out of my way not to do any such thing and never even used the word. I was accused of playing the race card. I was accused of being racist myself, because I dared talk about race and my experiences with race and didn’t pretend that race is meaningless.

I can’t pretend that race is meaningless. Pretending that race is meaningless would mean pretending that racism is meaningless. And since racism costs actual lives (as in, racism MURDERS people of color), that’s not something that I can brush off of my shoulder.

I learned, over several years, that my tone did not matter. How many educational links I posted did not matter. How many statistics I referred to did not matter. How carefully I coddled the feelings of white folks who just couldn’t stand the thought that they might not be the shining beacons of tolerance (which, by the way, is a word that I hate) that they hoped they were did not matter. And I learned that my hurt, my exclusion, the deaths and demonization of my people, did not matter. Any time I dared speak about race, I was labeled a racemonger. I was considered an angry black bitch, no matter what I said or how I said it. I was dismissed, ignored, or actively antagonized.

And so over time, I tossed the honey to the side. I stopped making up nicer ways to frame the truth. I stopped hiding my anger. I stopped beating around the bush and started telling white people the things that they were and are doing to us, to me, and to my daughter. I stopped being afraid to use the phrase “white privilege” and stopped playing the role of friendly, non-threatening, smiling happy black girl (whose heart was secretly breaking with every racist attack).

I’m an angry black bitch and I agitate. I call out racefail. I use exclamation points, sarcasm, cuss words. And I’m not sorry, not one bit, for any of it. I’ve found that the most efficient way to separate the wheat from the chaff, the true anti-racist white activists from the self-serving snivelers, is to be honest. And so that is what I do. I have no interest in white folks whose only concern about matters of race is how to make themselves look good; whites who do not want to destroy their racism but only want to hide it are of no use to me, and need not apply. We have work to do, and those people are only going to hold us back.

And I ain’t holdin back.

Absentee

June 18, 2010

I know it’s been slow around here this week. It’s been particularly demanding at both work and school (I got 100% on yesterday’s quiz, go me!), so I never found a moment to blog. Next week things should be back to normal.

I’d write a long and interesting post today, but we’re going to an amusement park (yay, a break!) and we’re already late meeting our friends.

I’ll catch up with you all next week.

First Quiz

June 11, 2010

I took my first quiz for Sociology 101 last night. I didn’t learn about the quiz until Tuesday, so I spent the 48 hours between the two classes studying my ass off, trying to get the vocabulary down and remember the accomplishments of the dozen or so sociologists that were mentioned in Chapter 1. I depended on the textbook entirely since I had no notes, as we hadn’t actually had a lecture on sociology yet; all we went over in the first class was the syllabus. I was nervous, naturally, and yesterday I couldn’t wait to just get it over with. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried, because I studied so hard, and I breezed right through the 25 multiple choice questions with no problem.

Just kidding. I needn’t have worried, and I shouldn’t have stressed myself studying so hard, because I had no chance of passing that quiz anyway.

We took our quizzes online, in the computer lab. When she gave us the go-ahead, I braced myself and opened up the quiz session.

The first question stumped me. It didn’t have any resemblance to anything that I had read in Chapter 1. I breathed deeply and immediately skipped it, deciding to go back later.

The second question stumped me. It named people that I had not heard of and referenced studies that I had not read about. I looked around the room quickly, glancing at my classmate’s faces. Everyone looked calm, no one seemed to be as taken aback as I was. I started to wonder if I had the wrong edition of the textbook or if I had studied the wrong chapter.

And so the quiz went. Out of 25 questions, I only truly knew the answers to less than 5 of them. The rest were educated guesses based on my powers of deduction and completely wild eeny-meeny-miney-mo guesses.

The man to my right finished his quiz in less than ten minutes. The woman to my left finished a minute later. I took almost twenty minutes to complete mine, struggling to deduce the best possible answers for all of the questions that I didn’t know. I was one of the last to finish, and I wondered if my classmates had done theirs so quickly because they knew all the answers (but how? why didn’t I know the answers??), or because they’d given up.

Shortly before we were told to go back to the classroom, I made eye contact with the woman next to me and mouthed, What the fuck? Her eyes widened and she shook her head slightly. I don’t know.

A couple of students took another ten or so minutes to finish up, so the rest of my classmates and I spent that time in the classroom (the professor was in the lab with the other students) wondering aloud what the fuck had just happened. As it turns out, everyone had finished so quickly because they just gave up and guessed randomly at each question.

When Professor G returned to the classroom, she started to set up the projector, which happened to be right in front of my desk. With her back to me, she asked the class, “Can anyone tell me what sociology is?”

With my head in my hand and without missing a beat, I said (in the most dejected deadpan voice ever), “The systematic study of the relationship between the individual and society and the consequences of difference.”

Professor G asked, “Did you just read that out of the book?” as she turned around to face me. When she saw that, no, I actually had memorized the definition since it was the first vocabulary word in the first chapter of the text (and the title of the fucking class), she looked pleasantly surprised, applauded me a little, and told me, “Good job!”

“Yeah, that wasn’t on the quiz,” I quipped. The class laughed. The professor  went back to her projector and her slideshow, oblivious.

Nobody said anything to Professor G about the quiz, at least not during class. I emailed her this morning asking her what exactly I should be studying and how I can better prepare for the next quiz. I mentioned that the majority of the questions on the quiz were not in the text (at least, not in Chapter 1). She hasn’t responded yet but I hope that she does.

If every quiz and test is going to be like this, I am not going to pass this class. And failing a 101 level Sociology class is really not how I wanted to start my new scholastic career. Hopefully, after grading and realizing that everyone failed horribly, she’ll be more clear in the future about what her expectations are and what materials we should be focusing on.

Short and Sweet

June 9, 2010

Today’s entry is going to be super short because I have to STUDY.

I had my first Soc 101 class last night and we have our first quiz tomorrow. Over the next 8 weeks we are going to have to complete 15 quizzes, 3 exams, 5 papers, and a couple of PowerPoint presentations (I don’t fucking have Powerpoint, so yay!). This professor is heavy on Blackboard use, which sucks because we don’t have Internet access at home.  So…yeah. Gotta study. Quiz tomorrow.

Bye!

Raising a Woman of Color, Part IV: Intelligence

June 7, 2010

Last night my family (including my brother and parents) was invited to a cookout with family friends. While we were there, we were introduced to Blokus, which turned out to be quite the addictive game. During one of the many rounds that were played, I watched as Marcus competed against my brother, my parents’ friend Mark (who was a little silly and drunk on wine, drawing many eyerolls from his wife as the night progressed), and his daughter Morgan, a young woman whose pleasant demeanour became very quiet and serious during gameplay.

Morgan and Mark played competitively against each other, with Morgan defending her corner of the board and Mark trying his best to weasel his way in any way that he could. Finally she made a bad move, effectively blocking her dad but also locking down her own corner in such a way that she could make no more moves. Everyone watching (and playing) the game winced a little when they realized what had happened. She was out of the game, and Mark teased her a little, gloating cheerfully.

I said, “Wait until she turns nine, Mark. You won’t stand a chance.” Everyone burst into laughter. My brother added, “That puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?”

Morgan is seven years old, and she played the game just as competitively and confidently as any of the adults around the table. She didn’t win, but she certainly could have. “Smart” doesn’t even begin to describe this child, who started speaking in full sentences at 16 months.

Morgan receives frequent praise for her intelligence. She attended my parents’ daycare for the first 4 or 5 years of her life, and my mother brags about her almost every time she comes up in the conversation. Last night, everyone at the table (myself included) expressed their amazement at her ability to compete with the adults at least once.

So today I’m thinking about intelligence, especially in regards to children, and how we treat children that we perceive as intelligent. To do that, first I’m going to have to define intelligence. According to Wikipedia, intelligence is:

“an umbrella term describing a property of the mind including related abilities, such as the capacities for abstract thought, understanding, reasoning, planning, problem solving, communication, learning and learning from the experience”

Well, that’s a start. I consider some parts of it arguable, especially about communication, but let’s just go with it for now. The vast majority of people that I know can agree that having the abilities as outlined above is a good thing. But why is it a good thing? The answer that first comes to my mind is that intelligent children have a better chance to accomplish their goals, to have their needs met, and to find the tools that they want and need to find their own happiness. But again, I have to ask why. Why do intelligent children have these advantages?

The easy (and in my opinion, wrong) answer is, “Because they’re intelligent!” There is a common assumption that intelligence itself – and nothing else – is what allows people to succeed. I don’t think so. We, as a society, treat people that we perceive to be intelligent differently than “other” people. As kaninchenzero of Feminists with Disabilities so succinctly put it in her ableist word profile about intelligence:

“…we can’t talk about intelligence without talking about stupidity, and stupidity is all tangled up in ableism. If some people are intelligent, some people are stupid. It just falls out that way when you start sorting people on a hierarchy of value. Some are capable of more — so we allocate more resources (money, education, employment, health care) to them — and others are capable of less, so they get less. Less money, less education, worse housing, more abuse.”

There is no question that those who are deemed less intelligent or of below average intelligence are given less and abused more. For example, at least 70% of women with developmental disabilities (I’m giving FWD a lot of link love today!) are estimated to experience rape in their lifetime, a statistic that is breathtakingly horrific. Despite this reality, rape as an issue is frequently framed by mainstream feminists as being mostly the concern of temporarily abled women; the experiences of those who rank lower on the hierarchy of intelligence are rarely – if ever – mentioned at all.

So how much of an intelligent child’s ability to, as I mentioned above, accomplish their goals, to have their needs met, and to find their own happiness is a result of their own intelligence and how much is a result of the willingness of others to praise them, to give them second chances, to offer them opportunities, to push them towards success? How many children that have been deemed unintelligent are even asked about their goals, their needs, or their happiness? How many are actively discouraged from dreaming big?

Morgan was praised many times for playing a game with us, even though she made mistakes and even though she didn’t win. Would a child of “average” or “low” intelligence been praised? Would any other child even be allowed to play, let alone invited? If a child without Morgan’s level of intelligence lost the game to a table full of adults, would that be used to confirm our preconceived notions about that child’s abilities? Would I still have quipped, so quickly and without much thought, about such child’s supposed future abilities?

Children are taught early on that “smart” = “good.” When we say to a child, “You’re so smart!” we are not praising them on how hard they study, or on how willing they are to ask questions, or how graciously they accept losing or making mistakes, or anything else that is actually within that child’s control. We are praising them for being born the way that they were lucky enough to be born, and we are privileging a quality that they cannot help or change, while at the same time sending the message that those who were not lucky enough to be born that way don’t have anything to be proud of because…well, who wants to be stupid?

Intelligence (or the perception of intelligence; more on that shortly) is an unearned privilege. It opens doors to those who happened to be born that way while simultaneously shutting out many others. Children who have this privilege are nurtured, challenged, bragged about on their parents’ bumper stickers. Children who do not have this privilege are looked down upon and frequently treated as nuisances. (And while children who are privileged by their intelligence are frequently treated like adults, adults who do not have this privilege are frequently treated like children.)

Now. About the perception and measuring of intelligence. The fact is that there is no ironclad method of measuring anyone’s intelligence. IQ tests are inherently flawed; at best, they only accurately measure a person’s ability to take IQ tests. To borrow from this comment from reader Baskelia on a Racialicious article about the “theory” that black people have a lower IQ than whites:

“And even when discussing the black white IQ gap, proponents of the difference in IQ theory stay away from studies that buck their conclusions. None of them can explain the Flynn effect.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

None of them can explain variances in IQ scores taken at different times (i.e. I have a 10-15 point variance)

None of them can explain how programs described in Arthur Whimbey’s Intelligence can be taught can take minority children from an IQ of 80 to an IQ of 115 in such a short period. Whimbey’s techniques are essentially techniques that middle and upper class individuals already use. The SAT correlates to IQ tests. If IQ was genetic, then why do people spend so much money prepping for the SATs (Kaplan etc).

None of them can explain Stereotype threat and that whites actually perform poorly on tests than blacks if they are primed with the suggestion that the test in question is one that whites normally do worse than blacks on (a message that we blacks get every day of our lives).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereotype_threat

In addition to the fact that IQ tests are flawed even for those of us with typical communication styles, how accurately can a population with a certain method of communication design and administer a test for those who communicate or process information differently? What happens when a child with autism takes a test designed by and for neurotypical people? As this article notes:

“Mittler (1966) was one of the first authors to acknowledge the possible adverse affects of autistic symptomatology on intelligence testing. He noted that intelligence scores of individuals with autism may be inaccurate, especially when refused items are counted as failures, as they are on most performance scales. Mittler also stated that verbal measures of intelligence may be inappropriate because of the language deficits often present in children with autism.”

Kaninchenzero has this to say about it:

“Stupid is a perception, usually based on the perceived ability to communicate. A person with communication impairments is going to be perceived as stupid. The same word means ’stupid’ and ‘unable to speak’ for a reason…Someone with cerebral palsy who requires that the rest of us slow down and wait for xer to communicate at xer speed is going to be perceived as unintelligent. Someone who can’t speak under stress (I stammer and eventually become dysphasic on bad days) is going to be perceived as unintelligent at those times. Deaf people are perceived as unintelligent. None of these conditions have a damn thing to do with cognition and everything to do with communication.”

You don’t even have to be actually unintelligent to lose the privileges of intelligence; if people assume that you are unintelligent, based on your methods of communication or your disability or your gender or your race, then they will treat you accordingly and close off those opportunities, withhold praise, and roll their eyes when your perceived lack of intelligence inconveniences them in some way (even if that inconvenience is really only imagined on their part; the time it takes to sit down with a gifted child and teach them how to understand a concept that they are struggling with is frequently not given the same value as the time taken to sit down with a “slow” child and teach them how to understand a concept that they are struggling with).

I remember being a child in summer representation band, which was a program for the best musicians in the local Catholic schools. A few children from each school in the Archdiocese were handpicked to play a huge summer concert together. The music was significantly more challenging than anything we ever played back at school in our tiny band, where I was the only trombonist. There were about 8 trombonists in representation band; I was the only female trombonist and one of only a couple black kids in the entire band, so all of the other trombonists were white boys. During one band practice I remember the conductor going down the line to see who was playing off-key at a certain part in one song. When it was my turn, he asked me to play the note once, which I did; he then snapped at me and told me that I was to only pretend to play that measure during the actual concert, that I shouldn’t even bother trying to play it. When he got to another trombonist, he spent five minutes unsuccessfully trying to coach that boy into tune, and finally told him, “Don’t worry, we’ll work on that.”

Same measure, same note, same instrument, but we received wildly different treatment from the conductor. I was told to not even bother trying (and I was no slouch – this band was made up of the area’s best players), while another child was coached and further encouraged to work on it. Whether or not this difference in treatment was a result of sexism and/or racism is irrelevant right now; what I’m trying to illustrate is that the director’s perceived impression of my ability had a dramatic impact on the amount of help that I received (in my case, none), on the conductor’s tone and attitude, and on the promise of help in the future (which was, again, none).

Another issue I have with “intelligence” is that there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on which kind of aptitudes count as intelligence (and are therefore of value) and which aren’t. In the Racialicious post I linked above, Nancy Leong asks:

“Well, first, ‘intelligence’ itself is a notoriously slippery concept. Intelligence at what? At trigonometry? At sentence diagramming? At computer programming? At analogies? What kind of intelligence matters, and how can we measure that – and nothing more or less – on a test?

…Intelligence tests don’t measure qualities like charisma, judgment, creativity, work ethic, collegiality, foresight, and drive – qualities that have far more to do with success in most fields than the skills measured on a typical so-called intelligence test.”

I can’t do even simple math in my head, but I can figure most stuff out if I write it down or use a calculator. I can dogdge a ball but I sure as hell can’t throw one. I can read faster than anyone I know, but I can’t retain much of what I read even a day or so later. I know the meanings and spellings of lots of big words but I can never remember how to pronounce many of them. I got a 1250 on my SATs but just a 14 when tested in fifth grade on the US states and their capitols (and I studied my ass off for that test). I have a talent for relating to many kinds of people but I’m absolutely lousy with plants. I can ride a unicyle but I can’t change a flat. I can read music but have absolutely no imagination for writing it. Which of these things about me are indicative of my intelligence level, and which are not? Which of these things matter and have value and say something about my value as a person, and which do not? Why do some of these things, each of which undoubtedly make up a part of who I am, count towards marking my ability to learn and understand, and others do not?

You may be wondering, after reading 2300+ words, what all of this has to do with raising a woman of color? It’s simple. Intelligence as a concept has been and continues to be weaponized against women and against POCs. A lack of intelligence is the excuse that was given for European colonialism: the natives were too stupid to use the land “properly” so whites had the right to take it forcefully, and Africans were likewise stupid and therefore needed whites to “care” for them by enslaving them. Women were too stupid to understand politics so they were withheld the right to vote, among other things. Even today there are plenty of white people arguing that black folks are genetically wired to be less intelligent than whites.

For far too many, the color of Eve’s skin is going to be a sign that she is less intelligent and therefore less deserving of resources and protection from abuse. She is going to be marked as less capable, and she is going to have to prove herself over and over again that she is indeed an equal to her white and/or male peers, not only in the capacity to learn but in every way possible. She will have to put in three times the effort to get half the recognition, and at the end of the day, she is still going to have people calling her value as a human being into question.

So why not, as both Nancy from Racialicious and kaninchenzero of FWD ask, do away with intelligence (or at least, measuring and ranking intelligence) altogether? Does the concept really have any value, especially when it is so frequently used to dehumanize people with disabilities, minorities, and women (there goes that pesky intersectionality again)? Should children who are intelligent be praised for their intelligence, or should they be praised for their actions?

Many people, my husband included, have remarked many times before and since Eve’s birth that they hope that she is smart. Most of the time I let the comment go, but sometimes I have to ask, “So what if she’s not?” Would she be any less deserving of support, of education, of encouragement?

Before she was even born, I told Marcus that I don’t care if Eve is smart or not. What I care about is her ability to find her own happiness, reach her own goals, and achieve her own success. What I care about is if she is kind, compassionate, considerate. What I care about is if she loves herself enough to be herself and to be proud of herself, regardless of what any IQ or SAT or whatever tells her. Being smart doesn’t guarantee that one will be loving or hardworking or happy, and these are the things that hold value to me and what I will encourage her to find value in as well.

Recipe of the Week: Liver & Onions

June 5, 2010

I don’t really know what made me decide to look up this recipe, but someone must have mentioned it to me. I remember having it a couple of times and liking it well enough as a child, although I remember liver being pretty tough and having a very distinct taste, one that I wasn’t sure I would still care for much as an adult. But as a chronic iron-deficient anemic, I decided that the nutritional benefits of adding a little liver to my diet might be well worth the experiment.

I found this recipe, boldly titled the Absolute Best Liver and Onions. I try to avoid handling raw meat, not because I’m squeamish but because I’m paranoid (and this was before I found out that my husband’s cousin – a healthy twenty-something – died suddenly from Salmonella poisoning after eating a burger years ago), so I wasn’t looking forward to slicing up the liver as the recipe calls for. Fortunately, it came from the market already sliced (whew!), so the only time I had to physically touch it was while rinsing it under the sink; the rest of the time I used tongs.

I followed the recipe almost to the letter, except for the salt and pepper. I seasoned it with Creole seasoning blend instead. Unlike the tough as leather liver of my youth, the end result was very very tender, almost to the point of literally melting in my mouth, and this was pretty much the recipe’s downfall. I don’t like food that is too buttery and tender: smoked and raw salmon gross me out for that very reason. It still had that very distinctive liver taste, which I don’t mind that much – but Marcus was disgusted. I ate at least enough to get my daily value of iron and then gave the rest to my mother.

Conclusion: if you like liver and if you like buttery food that melts in your mouth, then you’ll like this. If not, steer clear.

New School Jitters

June 4, 2010

School is starting next Tuesday and I’m starting to get a little (more) anxious. Yesterday I spent a few hours on the campus: I paid for my summer class (Sociology 101, 3 credits), registered for my fall classes (Statistics, 3 credits and Principles of Biology, 4 credits), and picked up my parking pass and student ID. (I hate the picture on my ID; I always forget how much my body has changed since having Eve until I see a recent photo of myself. It’s not that I don’t like my body anymore, it’s just that it’s…so different. I’ve lost 20 pounds since having her and I’m still 20 pounds heavier than I was before getting pregnant.)

You could say that I’m a little overly eager to start the semester; I downloaded a flashcard app (check it out here, it’s actually pretty effin awesome) to my phone last night and created flashcards for all the vocabulary in the first two chapters of my sociology textbook. It’s not that I’m an overachiever (honestly); it’s that I’m a control freak. I want to know that I’m going to get into the nursing program when I apply. I don’t want to spend several weeks wondering “Did I make it? Am I in? Can I quit* my job now?” And since admission is based solely on GPA, the only way for me to guarantee my admission is to get the highest GPA one can possibly earn. My goal, every semester, is to score an A in every class. So I’m studying now, four days before my first class even begins, because I intend to ace Sociology 101.

This is all kind of unreal. On May 17th, when we had that disappointing encounter with Eve’s pediatrician, this whole school thing was not in The Plan. I had no idea a month ago that I’d be enrolled in a school and turning our entire lives upside down (not necessarily in a bad way, but as I’ve mentioned before, this requires some pretty big changes) in order to support my ability to see this through.

And scoring As in all my prereqs and general reqs is just the beginning. After that I still have two more years of nursing practice, then I have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam, then I have to find a job, accrue 1000 hours working with lactating mothers, take lactation classes, sit for the IBCLE exam (which only comes once a year), find a job as a lactation consultant, and start and somehow fund a nonprofit… I’m trying not to hyperventilate just fuckin thinking about it! Thank goodness I’m young, because this is going to take a while.

I’m nervous, but confident, that I can do this. At this point I’m just chomping at the bit to get started.

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*With the way that the nursing program is scheduled with corequisites and such, it would be impossible for me to enter the program and still work at my current company. I will have to quit and Marcus would be the primary breadwinner for the next two years. I might get a part-time job (or maybe even work as a La Leche League Leader) at the same time but may opt to just be a full-time student if we can swing it.