Archive | April, 2013

Our Lazy Weekend and Going “Media Free”

toast!David’s final grad school class was on Wednesday. I fell asleep on the couch waiting up for him, but had had the foresight to decorate the apartment with a cheesy Graduation Party Decoration Kit from Target and chill a mini bottle of prosecco  I picked up on my way home. I woke up when he came through the door, and we had a sleepy, heartfelt toast to his awesome accomplishment.

His graduation ceremony isn’t until mid-May, so we’re mired in a bit of a nebulous wait until then, even though he has no other requirements to complete; he’s finished, but not finished-finished. Still, the relief has been buoyant and immediate. Even though I’ve spent plenty of time thinking about it I don’t believe I truly understood how burdensome graduate school has been for the two of us until we were suddenly free of it. In only a handful of days things have swiftly changed for the better, and not a minute too soon!

All weekend long I kept referring to it as “Our Lazy Weekend” even though, truly, it was anything but. We went to a Twins game on Friday night with the members of David’s cohort, and then out for drinks afterward. On Saturday we went food shopping, stopped by a liquor store, a record store, and a bike shop, David worked on his bike at home, I made an ice cream base, and did a load of laundry. We cleaned the apartment (including heavy duty stuff like the bathroom), and ate three home-cooked mostly healthy meals. In the evening we had company over and stayed up far too late (at my insistence) playing Carcassonne and drinking craft beer. On Sunday David and I indulged our mild hangovers and slept in until 8:30, showered and then had breakfast in bed, read books and magazines for a few hours, then got up and watched the free game of the day on mlb.tv (Red Sox!) while bustling around the house. I baked a loaf of oatmeal molasses sandwich bread and churned my ice cream, David took his bike out for a spin in the afternoon and made us dinner. I ironed while listening to The Splendid Table podcast. We were in bed ready to pass out by 9:30. It was awesome.

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“This is the best weekend I’ve had in the history of ever,” I said to David as we were sitting on the couch, waiting for the promised afternoon thunderstorm that never arrived. “Except maybe our honeymoon. But otherwise, best weekend ever.

And it really felt like it was. First of all, David was actually around. Not at the library for hours and hours. Not chained to his laptop working on papers or presentations. With the exception of our wedding and one or two major holidays, this is the first weekend that David and I had “off” in twenty-one months. It. Was. Glorious.

And aside from the baseball game? We really didn’t spend too much time in front of screens.

Ok, yes, I instagrammed some (I’m addicted) and refreshed facebook a lot, because my phone never really went much farther than my hand or my back pocket. But I didn’t spend hours on it playing games–something I’ve done all too much in the last 21 months. In the brief snatches of free time that we did have during grad school, David and I got in the habit of using technology to “de-stress.” We watched several seasons of West Wing, Top Chef, countless other competitive cooking shows. We downloaded games and apps onto our phones and fiddled with them endlessly. We completely and totally zoned out, and did it with the excuse that it was more relaxing than doing anything else (not true) and that it helped us unwind and connect after all the frantic hours spent working and studying (also not true).

Prior to graduate school, we occasionally used to have what we affectionately referred to as “Media-Free Nights.” We’d ditch our phones and the internet entirely (we don’t have tv, so that wasn’t a problem) and spend the evening with each other’s faces. This weekend reminded me of how NICE that was. And then this morning Meg of A Practical Wedding had a fantastic post about unplugging, which also reminded me that today is the start of Screen Free Week.

I’m in.

Here are my personal rules for the week:

  • I will eschew screens from 5:00PM to 8:00AM Monday through Friday. No Netflix, no browsing the internet, no Facebook, no twitter, no (gulp) instagram. No Words with Friends. No Bejeweled. No Angry Birds. No blogs. No laptop. No desktop. No screens.
  • I CAN do the following on a computer: use iTunes or Pandora.
  • I CAN do the following on my phone: talk on the phone (weird, right?!), respond to texts, use functional apps that help facilitate my days (alarms, calorie counter, weather, songza, google maps). I can also use my phone to take pictures, but I can’t post them anywhere, or edit them (ha! Like I ever do that), or play with them in any way.
  • For the purposes of this week my Kindle Touch doesn’t count as a screen (I can’t do anything except read on it, anyway).
  • I will be using internet at work because aspects of my job require it. I am going to try hard to limit my internet usage to strictly work-related things, but if my coworkers email me a buzzfeed article about extra-cute stuff, I might end up clicking on it.
  • My phone is scheduled to automatically go on Do Not Disturb mode (with phone calls allowed) from 5:00PM to 8:00PM–no notifications will hopefully ease my pain.
  • No screens at all for the entire weekend.

I’m excited! (But also feeling twitchy already). I’ll report back next week and let you know how it goes! (And I may have scheduled a post to go up later in the week, but it’s already written, so I don’t feel like that will break any rules).

Are you participating in Screen Free Week at all? Are you as addicted to instagram as I am?

soft serve style

Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Personal

Pita & Tzatziki

Gyros, or sandwiches

Our poorly-lit homemade version of Zorba’s delcious gyros.

I lived in Astoria (a popular residential neighborhood in Queens) for four years and that’s where I learned to love Greek food.

Astoria is packed with Greek diners, cafés, and upscale restaurants, but I really fell in love with Greek food at a hole in the wall place called Zorba’s. In good weather David and I ate there weekly at least. We sat outside in rickety metal chairs that scraped the uneven pavement, our massive overflowing plates crowding the plastic tabletop. We sat in the lingering heat of the evening with supremely generous glasses of wine and ate.

I am a person who finds something I absolutely love on a menu, and then insist on ordering it every single time. I always got the same thing at Zorba’s: a chicken souvlaki platter with pita and extra tzatziki sauce. They served their pita sliced in triangles. I’d stuff each precious slice with the spiced, marinated grilled chicken, some feta, a tomato or cucumber or two, a few french fries, and then slathered the entire thing in tzatiki. A perfect, perfect bite.

Zorba’s is definitely one of the restaurants I miss most in New York, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to recreate those simple, heavenly flavors. Luckily, I’ve come pretty damn close.

Tzatziki

My own recipe, after much trial and error
Yield: Quite a lot

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of plain Greek Yogurt (I use an entire tub of Fage Total, which–at 17.6 ounces–is just over 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tablespoon of lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Fresh dill (I can’t give you a measurement on this. I use a LOT. Like… 1/4 cup. A few Tablespoons will probably suit you just fine).
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt

Directions:

  • Place cucumbers in a strainer and add salt, tossing to coat. Set aside and let the cucumbers drain for at least one hour and up to three hours. You want to pull as much moisture out of the cucumbers as possible so that the tzatziki stays nice and thick instead of getting runny.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients and let the mix chill in the fridge. One the cucumbers have drained, blot them with a paper towel and gently fold into the yogurt mixture. You may eat immediately, but flavors will meld beautifully overnight. Best served chilled. Will keep tightly sealed in the fridge for one week.

 IMG_6202

Pita

Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 8 pitas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (bread and all-purpose work equally well. Up to half–no more–can be whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients until a shaggy dough is formed.
  • Knead by hand (10 minutes) or by mixer (5 minutes) until dough is smooth and elastic. It should not be overly wet or sticky, nor should it be incredibly dry. If you need to add more water, do it one Tablespoon at a time.
  • Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover (shower cap!), and let rise for one hour. It should be close to doubled in size.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces (you can weigh them out if you want to be super accurate) roll into balls and cover with a clean, very damp towel. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If you have a baking stone, this is an excellent time to use it. If not, find a large, flat cookie sheet and stick it in the oven.
  • Roll out one dough ball into a roughly six inch circle. You want the dough to be thin, but not TOO thin. If you can see through it, start over–you’ve rolled it out too much.
  • Place the circle on a piece of parchment paper (not wax paper, not aluminum foil) and put the whole thing in the oven directly on your stone/baking sheet. Bake for anywhere from three to five minutes (check it at three, if it hasn’t puffed, let it go two minutes more. If it STILL hasn’t puffed, take it out and enjoy your delicious flatbread. We’ll fix the problem in a minute).
  • If you first pita doesn’t puff, your dough is either rolled out too thin, or else it’s not moist enough. In which case, roll out the next piece, and then spritz it with some water. A spray bottle is perfect for this, but if you don’t have one handy just shake a few drops of water onto the dough with your fingers. Don’t over do it and soak the poor dough, you just want to get a little extra moisture on there. Pop it on the parchment paper, and into the oven it goes.
  • Repeat for all 8 pieces. If the pita isn’t going directly into your mouth as it comes out of the oven (and I wouldn’t blame you if it did) wrap it in a clean towel to keep it soft. Once pita has completely cooled it will keep in an air-tight container at room temperature for a week.

PUFF

While you could certainly just combine the pita and tzatziki and call it a day, we also love to make gyros and other sandwiches, Greek-style nachos, and use tzatziki as a dipping sauce for fries or crudités (or just a spoon, because really? It’s that good). YUM.

Greek Nachos! Ground lamb, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and tzatziki on toasted pita chips.

Greek Nachos! Ground lamb, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and tzatziki on toasted pita chips.

 

Baked, seasoned fries with tzatziki

Baked, seasoned fries with tzatziki

Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Food

Boston

I have never lived in Boston. I grew up on the North Shore, and I went to college out of state before moving to New York City and then finally St. Paul, so I never lived in Boston.

I had friends who lived in Boston. I dated guys who lived in Boston. In dorms on Boylston Street. In an apartment at the corner of Charles and Pinckney, just a block from the river. Over by Fenway and way out in Jamaica Plain. I spent my summers there, my winter nights. In bars, in alleys, sprawled out on the esplanade. I’ve cried until I thought my heart would truly break in that city. I’ve laughed at least twice as much.

My first memory is of being with my grandmother in a T station, singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with a busker. I was wearing a pink dress.

I have walked the Freedom Trail. I have stumbled  through the streets after last call with the full finality of summer’s end in the air. I have driven up on the city’s skyline after too many months away and seen the holy glow of the Citgo sign and smiled, because that is when I know I’ve come home.

I had family and friends in Boston yesterday. Some of them were working, some of them were watching the marathon, and I know a handful of people who were running it. Everyone that I know is safe, and still I am so heartsick for them. I am devastated for those whose loved ones are not as fortunate as mine.

I never lived in Boston, but I always believed that someday I would. My life has taken so many turns, and I know now that living in Boston is one of my dreams that will never come true. I will never live in that city. But I will always call it mine.

Boston is the city of my heart; its streets are etched on my bones. There are no better people, no people more ferociously loyal and fiercely loving, than the people I know there.

I am so fucking1 proud to be from Massachusetts.

I love that dirty water.

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  1. It’s a post about Boston. You really think I was going to make it through without swearing?
Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Personal

Quest for the Perfect Pizza Dough: Take One

We make pizza at home. Even as a child I remember doing this with my family. We would buy frozen pizza dough, and after school I would set it on the countertop to thaw. We stretched it to fit our rectangular baking sheet, slathered it with sauce and shredded cheese, and bam. Pizza.

I still make pizza at home, but over the last few years we’ve gotten more adventurous with our toppings. That, and I make the dough from scratch now. I started making bread in 2008, when I still lived in New York. I didn’t own a stand mixer or a bread machine, so I did it all by hand. I made a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread, and to my surprise I got two perfect loaves the first time out. I’ve had many failures in bread-making since then (if you’ve ever browsed my facebook photo albums you know that I can’t make a French baguette for love or money. Some of those failures are pretty epic). Bread may be temperamental, but it’s not difficult to make. Having been lucky with my first loaves of bread, it was no big deal to start making my own pizza dough. I started making it every once in awhile. Then we moved to Minnesota, and I started making it a lot.

Pizzas we’ve made: olive oil, potato & scallion, white sauce, asparagus, bacon, & eggs; tomato sauce, mozzarella, & venison pepperoni; tomato sauce, assorted veggies, & mozzarella; Margherita pizza.

 

Minnesota doesn’t have good pizza. I apologize to everyone I’ve just offended. If there’s an excellent pizza joint you think I’ve over-looked, feel free to let me know about it in the comments, but be aware that I grew up outside of Boston and then moved to New York and I promise you that the bar is very, very high. In the three and a half years that I’ve lived here I have yet to find pizza that hits the spot (see also: bagels, Chinese food).

Now, don’t misunderstand me. My homemade pizza is nowhere near as good at the professionals back East. But I’m determined to make it as close as I can get. Hence, the Quest for the Perfect Pizza Dough. I’ve tried half a dozen pizza dough recipes over the years. Some of them are great; some less so. But I never keep track of which is which, and it’s about time I started. David and I make pizza from scratch on Friday nights, and I plan to try a new dough recipe each week. I’ll report back here with the recipe and the results.

I suppose I should mention the things that I believe make a great pizza crust–since I’m sure there’s a lot of varying opinions. I’m a pizza crust LOVER, so I have high expectations. I want a dough that’s easy to work with, the produces a flavorful crust that blisters and bubbles up along the edge of the pizza. Sometimes I am in the mood for something crispy, but floppy pizza can be ok, too (I’m the type of person who folds her slices in half before eating).

First up?

Smitten Kitchen’s Rushed Pizza Dough

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Yield: Dough for one pizza

photo_1I love Deb Perelman, and I love all things Smitten Kitchen. Her website is my go-to resource when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired. I was so, so excited when her cookbook was released this past fall. She’s got two pizza dough recipes in there, this “rushed” dough, which comes together comparatively quickly, and a “leisurely” dough, which requires an overnight rise in the fridge. I decided to try the “rushed” dough first.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup warm–not hot–water (I always need more than this).
  • 1 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more to dust the counter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Olive oil, for coating the bowl

Directions

  • Turn oven to warm (200 degrees) for five minutes, then shut it off.
  • Pour the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it stand for 5 minutes. The yeast will start to bloom as the granules expand. This is called “proofing” the yeast, and is done to make sure that the yeast is still alive.
  • Add flour and salt and mix until a shaggy dough forms (if you find you need more water to keep it together, as I often do, add warm water one tablespoon at a time. Don’t overdo it). If using a stand mixer, knead for 5 minutes with the dough hook. If kneading by hand, flour your counter lightly and go for ten minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic when its ready; tacky to the touch, but not sticky.
  • Drizzle a little bit of olive oil into a bowl, and place your dough inside, rolling it around in the oil so that all sides are coated. Cover your bowl (tip: a shower cap is the absolute best thing for this. Cheap, reusable, and SO MUCH EASIER than struggling with saran wrap. I keep half a dozen shower caps in my kitchen at all times) and place it in the oven for one hour. Make sure the oven is shut off!
  • Remove the bowl from the oven. The dough should have risen until almost double in size. Press a finger gently into the dough; if the dough remains indented and doesn’t spring back right away it’s ready! Gently press down on the dough to deflate.
  • Roll, toss, or stretch to your desired shape, top with deliciousness, and bake (usually at your oven’s highest heat, for 10-12 minutes)

Verdict

This dough is designed to be done quickly, and the number one rule of breads is that time = flavor. Flavor was lacking, here. David described it as “neutral” but I’m going to go ahead and call it bland. My other main complaint about this dough is that the outer edge of the crust just did not rise at all. I’ve made this dough a few times recently, and that’s been a consistant problem every time. I am a crust-loving gal. I want to get to that pillowy, bready crust at the end of each slice, and it’s just not happening here.

I did love how quickly this came together, and although it was disappointing it wasn’t offensive, or anything. I’d keep it on the back burner for weeknight emergencies, but the quest for the perfect pizza crust continues!

Toppings

We topped this pizza with olive oil, fresh ricotta, grape tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, bacon, and fresh basil. This was delicious and fresh, a perfect reminder that spring IS on the way, even if there’s still snow outside. (Yes, it’s still snowing in Minnesota. Yes, it’s mid-April). The toppings made up for the lackluster crust; I’ll use these ingredients to top more pizzas in the future!

Do you have a pizza dough recipe you think I’ll love? Leave a comment and let me know, or shoot me an email! This quest is serious business.

Posted by on April 14, 2013 in Food

Good Things on the Internet

Today was horrific. Lots of things went wrong this morning, the worst being that my car hit a patch of ice while merging on to the interstate. I was able to regain control of the car, only to immediately skid out on a second patch of ice and go careening off the side of the road down an embankment into a very steep ditch. I’m physically ok, and by some stroke of luck the car is, too. But emotionally? Kind of a wreck. I’ll write more about that later.

In the meantime, I was in need of some serious cheering up. So I turned to the internet, and the internet provided. Here’s what made me smile today:

Fascinating Photos of Famous Authors as Teenagers

Anaïs Nin at 19.

Anaïs Nin at 19.

 

Recycled Movie Costumes

Left: Jeanette MacDoland as Mary Blake in 1936's San Francisco. Right: Billie Burke as Glinda in 1939's The Wizard of Oz.

Left: Jeanette MacDoland as Mary Blake in 1936’s San Francisco. Right: Billie Burke as Glinda in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

 

Times Haiku: Serendipitous Poetry from the New York Times

nythaiku

 

 

Heidi Jo Gilbert

 

What links are you loving lately?

 

Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Personal

I Work in Book Publishing

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Me, age 5, the day the West Branch Library opened.

Today I read an amazing manuscript. A book that emotionally devastated me in incredible ways. This is the best part of my job.

I work in book publishing.

I started in New York with a handful of unpaid internships, and was eventually hired on as an assistant to two literary agents at Writers House. From there, I went to Harold Ober Associates. I had to put my career on hold when we moved to Minnesota, but I did some freelance reading here and there, and always knew I’d get back in the game as soon as I could. Now I work at Llewellyn Worldwide dabbling in all three imprints there. I handle all contracts, do lots of typical administrative tasks, and I also read books.

I am a reader from way back, from the beginning. My mother read aloud to me when I was young and even when I was not-so-young. My father says that when I was little I used to ask for “two books and a ball” every Christmas.1 Reading is so much a part of who I am that I have trouble talking about it.

All the things that people say about books are true. Books are revolutionary. They are transformative. They offer escape, they offer validation, they offer criticism. They are beautiful and terrible and important.

There is the expectation that the publishing industry is the same. Most of the time it isn’t.

Most of the time, I have an office job. I read and write a lot of emails, make photo copies, and live and die by excel sheets. I gather and sort data. I draft contracts. I submit paperwork requesting payments. I track and record everything I do.

I keep my workspace extremely organized and neat (which does not come naturally to me at all) because I have learned the hard, hard, hard way that piles of paper make a sharp, dry grave.

Yes, the contracts I am drafting are for authors. For people who write books. And the joy they have upon getting their first book contract is unparalleled. It’s a great part of my job, to be the person who mails those contracts out with a post-it that says “we can’t wait to work with you!” But, I mean, I’m still mired in legal jargon. And I still have to tell people “no” much more often than I’m able to tell them “yes.”

Mostly, my job is an office job. I do a lot of behind-the-scenes work that helps get books published.

But there is a part of my job that is about reading. There is a part of my job that allows me to say, “I get paid to read books!” And a lot of the books I read are bad. And a number of the books I read are very good.

But sometimes…

Sometimes I get to read a book that wakes up every nerve in my body. A book that is so great that I don’t know how I’ll be able to get through the rest of the day after reading it. A book that haunts my thoughts for weeks to come. A book that has me so excited that I lie awake at night and think about how I can’t wait for that book to be real, to go from a word document on a computer screen, or a 300 page print out, to a real bound book that I can crack between my hands. A book so fantastic that it makes me want to read every book I’ve ever loved all over again.

Sometimes I get to read a book that is so damn wonderful that it makes me feel honored to do what I do. It is the very best part of my job.

 

 

  1. Was that not the most precious thing you’ve ever heard, or what? So cute it’s gross!
Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Personal

Soundtrack for Spring

Every spring I make a playlist. Music is an ever present part of my life year-round, but every spring when the air dampens, when the sun streaks through the grey clouds and the windows are all thrown open wide, when the world feels possible again I comb through my music library and I make a mix, a soundtrack for the season. It’s usually eclectic, a mix of old and new, mellow and buoyant, and invariably something about them surprises me. This year is no different.

 

  1. Amos Lee, Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight
  2. Nice & Smooth, Sometimes I Rhyme Slow
  3. Mike Doughty, I Hear the Bells
  4. Citizen Cope, Son’s Gonna Rise
  5. Caroline Smith & The Goodnight Sleeps, ;;;
  6. Ani Difranco, Mariachi
  7. Passion Pit, Little Secrets
  8. Jane’s Addiction, Jane Says
  9. Eliza Doolittle, Pack Up
  10. Sublime, What I Got (Reprise)
  11. Knoc-Turn’Al, Muzik
  12. Wreckless Eric, Whole Wide World
  13. Mozella, Hold On
  14. The Black Keys, Lonely Boy
  15. Mac Miller, On and On
  16. Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps, Eagle’s Nest
  17. Atmosphere, The Best Day
  18. Ice Cube, It Was a Good Day
  19. Childish Gambino, Sunrise
  20. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead

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Posted by on April 7, 2013 in Personal

I’ve Got the Blues

One night in the early stages of our engagement, David and I invited over two of our friends. Somehow those cheesy newly wed “How Well Do You Know Your Spouse” quizes came up in our conversation. Meredith and Anika had been best friends and roommates for years, and figured they could ace one of those questionnaires no problem, so the four of us found one online and took it.

The quiz was set up so that you answered each question twice: once for yourself, once for your partner. Then you go through and see if they match. When the question “What is your partner’s favorite color?” came up, I groaned. I don’t really have a favorite color.

I’m a person who has serious favorites in life, so that fact that I can’t single out one color I prefer to all the rest sort of irritates me. Sometime in high school I decided my favorite color was red, because I needed to pick a favorite, damnit. So when filling out the questionnaire I wrote “My favorite color is red, but David will say it’s blue.”

And he did. I wonder why?

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I am obsessed with this color lately. I just walked around the apartment for a few minutes and gathered up everything in sight that fits into this color family. This isn’t even counting any of the clothes I have in this color, or other larger things, like a side table, spice cabinet, and several storage bins.

And yet I’m still reluctant to label this as my favorite. I’m wondering if it’s just a phase, like that time a few years ago when I suddenly started buying a lot of purple stuff and I don’t even like purple! (I may have a hard time choosing a favorite color, but I’m firm in the ones I don’t care for). Grey, hot pink, and mustard yellow are other colors I’m drawn to lately.

Do your favorite colors change often? Do you have a hard time picking just one?

Posted by on April 6, 2013 in Personal

The Ghost in Our Lives

My husband has three weeks of graduate school left.

He has worked so hard, and I am so proud of him, and that is not what I’m going to talk about right now. That is for later. That is for when the stage has been crossed, the diploma received. For when beers are in hand and confetti is in the air. The congratulations, the gratitude, the overwhelming swell of appreciation and admiration are for the finish line.

And right now is for me.

David has been in his graduate program for two years, and I am exhausted. His pursuit of higher education is the ghost in our lives. After working brutally long days implementing the Affordable Care Act in our state, David comes home and wrestles the ghost. The ghost always wins.

Class just one night a week doesn’t sound so bad, and maybe it isn’t. Except that it is. Because on weekends he is at the library. Other nights he’s working late. There are papers to write. Projects to complete. The ghost is always there.

David started school less than two months after our engagement. A year later we cut our honeymoon short so that he didn’t have to miss a class.

I know that his friends and family miss him. He only gets to see them rarely, now, and part of the whole reason we moved here is precisely so that he could see them more. He tries to be present during the brief times he is with them, does everything he can to leave the ghost behind, to talk and laugh and listen. To connect. It isn’t like that at home. After the first year, we tried to implement “Husband and Wife Mondays” where for one night a week graduate school was not on the table: no studying, no homework, no stressing about the lack of former. It didn’t last.

I am talking strictly about the ghost, here. David has been amazing. He is dedicated to school and to me at the same time. I don’t know how he manages it. I don’t know how he has room inside of him for all of it at once. He has taken so much care to make sure I know that I,  us–our marriage–is still priority number one. But that reassurance is the most he can do, because the ghost rattles its chains, swallows him whole, steals him away.

Oh, there were shining moments. Our honeymoon–though short–was a precious oasis. There have been date nights, and dinners out, and concerts caught. In January we celebrated our annual Stay In Bed All Day day. We closed the door on the ghost, locked him out, and spent the day in our pajamas playing board games, drinking whiskey, making out. But the day ended, we opened the door, the ghost came in.

And it is exhausting to be the One Who Is Not Doing. I’m not the one who went to class, who studied constantly, who wrote essay upon essay upon essay. But I am the one who cleaned the house, made all our meals, ran the errands. And sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I didn’t clean the house, or cook, and we were cranky and survived off junk food until I got it together again. Sometimes I was selfish. There are things I wish I’d handled with more grace. Most of the time I remembered that David wasn’t going to graduate school to punish me. Most of the time I remembered, but sometimes I forgot. I woke up when he was already out the door for work some mornings. I went to sleep alone before he came home. I wrote him notes and stuck them on the fridge and loved, loved, loved to find a note from him in return. Between sleeping and exchanging notes, somehow whole months passed. I did my best to comfort him when things were hard. To be his champion. I am the one who shouldered my husband, who chose when to push him to do more and when to persuade him to do less. Sometimes, I chose wrong.

It is hard, and it is lonely, and it is exhausting to be the one who keeps it together. The one who waits. The one who is standing still. But worth it. Graduate school is a choice we made for our family, for David’s fulfillment, for our future. We sacrificed a lot, but we gained a lot, too. We rely on each other. We express what we need. We are partners.

In three weeks I will celebrate my husband’s enormous accomplishment. Today I celebrate my own. This ghost has haunted me, too.

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Us, on the last night of our honemoon.

Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Personal

O Frabjous Day!

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I took this photo just now in my office.

Hi! This is my new blog. I am so very, very excited about it.

I originally started blogging because I was moving to Minnesota with my boyfriend (now husband!) and thought it would be a nice way to keep in touch with my friends and family.

Nice idea. Didn’t happen.

Blogging felt like a chore. I didn’t know what to write about, I hated the blogging platform I’d chosen, and I had no idea what I was doing. The blog died and guilt consumed me.

Until now!

Since I know nothing about building or designing websites, I hired my dear friend and former roommate to tackle this project for me. JJ set me up with my own domain, taught me how to actually update and maintain my site without wanting to claw my face off, and above all did all the design work.

I am not a person who can translate my ideas visually. I can’t draw. I hate my handwriting. When I was sixteen years old my bedroom was painted white, rag-rolled over with cornflower blue, and dotted with pale yellow accents, so clearly I know nothing about appealing color palettes. I had no idea what I wanted the blog to look like, and anytime I thought I had an idea it was a terrible one.

I started making a list of all the things I like, no matter how disparate or far-fetched.

Kelly: Eggs (we will not be designing a website around my love of eggs, although I do really, really love them), Little Red Riding Hood, pie, Ron Weasley, just to pick a few of the crazy ones.

JJ: HA!

Kelly: Cardigans just made it on my list. I’VE GOT IT. CARDIGAN-WEARING EGGS! I AM SO GOOD AT THIS.

JJ: … You asked for it.

 

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ONE OF THE EGGS IS WEARING A STRING OF PEARLS. I’m dying!

Luckily, for the sake of the entire internet, we decided not to go with the cardigan-wearing egg theme. We actually ended up pulling our inspiration from some of the decorations I made for our wedding last fall, and I am deliriously in love with the result.

JJ blogs at Uncreated Conscience, and if you’re looking to spruce up your blog or website I could not recommend her more highly (I mean, the eggs speak for themselves. LOOK AT THEM).

 

What can you expect to find here in the near future? I’ll be blogging regularly about my life, books, and food, and other secret things along the way. Here goes nothing!

 

 

Note

The post title is a quote from Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, meaning “wonderful; extraordinary.”

Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Personal