About thedorkygirl

My name is Karen, and I am 25-years-old. I moved from the suburbs to the city of Dallas last year, and I have been trying to figure out how I want to live my life - from getting enough exercise and eating healthfully to writing a journal, a blog, poetry, and fiction.

To a Native from a Transplant

Him’n that pillow, huggin’ it out all night.
Makes him look younger’n he is.
But I’ll never tease him or hide it away,
‘cos he needed that pillow, given-a him
in the blanched glow of the hospital,
when fear nested deep in our hearts.

Him’n that pillow, years later, still there,
‘neath fancier fellows by day,
but come dark, he’ll clutch it tight to his scarred chest,
grandad and his pillow.

 

poetry

Can we blame the fact that Dallas dropped 30 degrees overnight this week?

I have a bad hip, which can be blamed on a number of things. Apparently my family has deformed hips. I stepped off a porch wrong one drunken night at 22. I swell up for no reason whatsoever, and it has even given me lovely stretch marks on the back of my knees and pulls my body crooked, putting stress on my joints.

And finally, the worst trigger: I am not made to have sex with men who have bigger hips than I do, or at least I haven’t figured out how.

Most of my exes are stick figures, tall and lanky, but I have the occasional football player in my black book (jk that would kill me), and Jesus Christ, they are not fat men, but they are definitely not slender men, either. So if my dumb ass climbs that mountain, I pay for it later. Sometimes for a few days or even upwards of a week. I have been paying for my last excursion for almost a month now.

It’s pretty bad today, had been building up to it all week. I’m really swollen, which could be the kitten or could be the weather, who knows. Today is the worst hip pain I’ve ever experienced – I cannot cross my legs and I can barely rise from my chair without wincing. My knee isn’t happy either, so in all honesty, I would like a cane. And get off my lawn!

Last month after the blood test results came back – they took over half a dozen vials – and nothing stood out, I got frustrated and sad and angry. I canceled several appointments with specialists and haven’t rescheduled them. I haven’t gone for my allergy shots. I am simply too worn out right now from the discovery of ‘nothing’ once again to contemplate continuing right now. Don’t get my wrong – my rheumatologist and immunologist are both awesome doctors, but the prospect of multiple MRIs (6! Expensive!) and additional referrals to additional specialists is too much right now.

I need to sleep early to wake early so I can take the dog for a walk before work. I hope that gentle exercise will help me. That, and I’m carrying about fifteen more pounds than I want, and summer is fast approaching. Cyrus, my boy, get ready to pull at the leash until you choke yourself into a cough again! #standyourground

P.s., does anybody know how to tango when you’re petite and your partner isn’t? :/

We will not be having coffee

I was recently contacted by an ex-boyfriend, and the experience helped remind or reveal to me several things.

One: I have memories of incidents which I am far away from them, almost as if I were reading them.

Two: I have a compulsive need to write down and explore these incidents, or I will lose the emotional impact of them. Was this created in my childhood of constant journaling and constant memory suppression?

The first time I sat down and selectively eliminated memories, I was 7 years old (thank you, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and an early self-taught awareness of cognitive behavioral therapy – I said to myself: “If I don’t just forget these things about which I can do nothing, I will not be able to move on. What do I need to get rid of?”)

I started my first journal that same year, though I did not become obsessed with journaling for another two years. It’s almost as if strong memories cannot be recalled on a primary source basis, but only by the separation of writing or discussing them with other people. I can have stronger memories of writing out something than of actually experiencing it.

Three: I date narcissistic men, and I seek out playing the victim.

I came to the third startling conclusion while reading the letters from my ex. He was a real stunner, and though he didn’t realize it at the time, he was emotionally and sexually abusive. I don’t think he realizes that now; he just thinks that he was an asshole to me. At the time, I knew exactly what was happening, but for some reason, I just didn’t give a damn that it was going on. In fact, I reveled in the knowledge that I was putting up with his bullshit and let him attempt to play mind games on me. Every time he yelled at me, I took it as practice in closing down my emotions. I had recently gone through a very traumatic & violent experience, and he was almost like a punishment to myself because I didn’t believe I deserved what I really wanted (which I HAD PURPUOSELY TURNED DOWN to date this guy!).

As I sat there recoiling in horror at my memories the relationship, I thought about the things which had drawn me to my ex, and then compared them to things which were what had drawn me to my main long-term ex-boyfriend, and then things that had drawn me to many men in the past.

Confidence, humor, a willingness to impart knowledge to me in subjects that I wasn’t learned in….

I’m not saying that any of these men – most boys – were cruel or bad people. Only one was truly in need of anything more than therapy and some sense knocked into them by life’s lessons. But in their own ways, most of the men I have dated have been selfish and patronizing and, somehow, “better than” me.

Why was I drawn to people like this? I like people whom I can admire, true. My friends are all AMAZING people whom I am desperately, platonically in love with. Why then do I take it to the extreme – why do I involve myself in men who make me feel as if I’m not good enough?

For a lot of the men, it was a trade off. There was some way that I was superior to them, and I knew that when I dated them, and it was fine to take their small abuses because I could play the victim and feel like a better person than them.

As I’ve gotten older – especially in the last three or so years (post that ex!) – I have gotten better about not going after men who show strongly negative narcissistic tendencies. I definitely haven’t cut the cord completely, but I approach men on a more even playing field. After having actually becoming the victim, I refuse to play the victim.

I knew a lot previously about myself choosing men over whom I felt power or superiority, and I have actively avoided easy targets (which are SO EASY). Why date losers, right? But now that I see this victim-role I put myself in, I can be more watchful of myself and hopefully avoid or curtail it in the future.

I still make bad choices in men, and I am still picky as all hell, but in the last two years, I’ve only had one strange affair, recently and finally closed, and he was simply deeply self-absorbed, not narcissistic.

And perhaps this time I’ll become interested in someone who carries conversations, not delivers soliloquys.

edited in for clarification The amount of fucks I did NOT give about this guy probably saved my ass from a lot of emotional repercussions. Other than being a little bit afraid of him to this day, I really came out of the relationship with very few issues. Thankfully, I was already damaged goods, and he wasn’t throwing anything I hadn’t been obsessively reading about since I was in grade school

International Red Lentil Soup

A chef I happened upon at the grocery store gave me this recipe, which I recited back to him several times to commit to memory. I call it International Red Lentil Soup because it traveled to several countries before it reached me in Dallas.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 white onion, diced well
  • 1 nest egg angel hair pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup red lentils (dry measure)
  • 1 whole organic lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp tumeric
  • 1 ½ tsp curry (punjab)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

COOK

  • Put onion in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about a minute, no longer.
  • Crumble angel hair nest and stir into pan.
  • Add the water.
  • Next, rinse the red lentils really, really well, and add them to the pan.
  • Add the lemon juice & spices.
  • Cook, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

The lentils get soft and almost disintegrate when the soup is finished. It smells divine and tastes even better. This is a fabulous dry goods recipe to have on hand!

This soup is my first experience with lentils – the gentleman who gave it to me was in the spice department when I was looking for ground ginger. We began talking, and in about 15 minutes time, he had loaded my basket with the items for this soup and given me instructions on how to make it!

His biography: He is an Iraqi who studied culinary arts in Italy and owned a restaurant in Sweden. International indeed!

Thank you, sir!

they have more vitamins, probably, like carrots unpeeled

When you’re a little kid, trips to the store stick out in your mind. The mall with the skating rink, or the carts that had the bottoms covered in plastic so I could ride on them without my hair getting tangled in the wheels (that was a CVS or Walgreens, but I always loved those carts when we visited!)

I remember one time when I went grocery shopping with Mom. It was AWESOME. I recall, for some reason very specifically, we got celery. But in any case, we got a lot of food, and I was so happy!

But Mom gave all the food to the Big House. Almost every bit of it, including the celery. I remember a few days later standing in the kitchen at the Big House, and the Wife was peeling potatoes. Mom had bought those potatoes, I knew, and I was hungry. Really, extremely hungry, almost desperately. I remember that especially. I asked for some potato peels. I got some of them, but the rest went to the chickens in the yard.

I was 5, almost 6 years old, and that was the first time I explicitly understood that Mom was paying rent for a traphouse by using food stamps, but it wasn’t the first time I’d gone hungry, or had fatass druggie adults eat in front of me, claiming that hadn’t eaten all day. I hadn’t eaten all day, either – it must have been a weekend, because I got free breakfast & lunch at school.

I still almost have a panic attack if I don’t have food near me, or in my cupboards. I still like the taste of raw potato peels, and I still think about chickens when I eat them.

a memory of a summer spent wishing i were swimming

When I was like 11 or 12, we were going whole hog at volunteering at brother’s school. He has nonverbal autism, and the school was comprised entirely of special education students. It was summer, and we were all going to go to the swimming pool. I remember I rode over in the car with one of the teachers aides, an Indian man. He put on a song on the radio, I suppose in Hindi, and started laughing, and said that it was a sexy song and it was about this or about that.

Of course it creeped me out, and I didn’t go back to volunteer at my brother’s school for the rest of the summer. My grandmother told me derisively, “Oh, Karen went swimming,” never even asked me why the hell I had just dropped out of the whole thing like that. My sister was the little darling who helped all that summer.

Couple years later, that asshole got caught molesting the kids in the bathrooms. There were multiple teachers involved, if I recall correctly.

Huh, maybe she should have asked me, after putting me in the dangerous situation of ALONE IN A CAR WITH A MAN I BARELY KNEW, why I didn’t want to go to volunteer anymore. Instead, I was told I was selfish. Just another example of me protecting myself.

Spicy Vegetarian Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

This is another delicious vegetarian slow cooker recipe that I can make in bulk and freeze – though I don’t think it’s going to last me as long as my bean and vegetable chili! This is spicy and just the right consistency; the suggestion for ridged noodles to help scoop up the sauce is a great one. I call my version ‘spicy’ vegetarian spaghetti sauce, but the slow cooker helps mellow out the taste considerably.

Spicy Vegetarian Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

spaghetti sauce over noodles

it tastes as good as it looks

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 9 hours
Storage Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours from cutting board to freezer shelf

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped thinly
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 8 oz. can of pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained; I used preseasoned varieties – 1 “italian herbs” & 1 “basil & garlic”
  • 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Preparation:

  • Cook onions and garlic in oil in large nonstick pan over medium heat. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. If you’re allergic to onions (like I am), this is a good time to take out any if you think maybe it’s “too much.”
  • Add carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, jalapeno, olives, and bell pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes.
  • Place vegetables into bottom of 6-7 quart slow cooker.
  • Add remaining ingredients into the slow cooker. I took a few minutes to spread the sauces evenly over the vegetables; the added step of mixing everything together before layering them over seems unnecessary, and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Cook:

  • Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • Uncover, stir thoroughly, then leave cover off and turn heat to high. Cook, uncovered, for 1 more hour to thicken sauce.

Storage:

  • At this point the sauce can be frozen. Divide into smaller portions and cool in refrigerator. Wrap, label, and freeze the sauce up to 3 months.
  • To thaw and reheat, thaw sauce overnight in refrigerator. Pour into skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 15-20 minutes or until sauce bubbles and is thoroughly heated.
mostly eaten spaghetti in a delicious sauce

you’re going to enjoy it as much as I did!

I took the original of this recipe off about.com’s “Busy Cook” section, but I made several changes to the original recipe to make it more to my tastes. I added a jalapeno pepper, tons of olives, a fresh tomato, and a little bit more canned sauce to the recipe, calling for a slightly larger crock pot size. The original can be found here: Vegetarian Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce.

“Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller

The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s a solid ancient Greece fanfic. It has semi-legal teenage gay porn, genderswap, wifeswap. I’m not saying that as a bad thing – just not my cup of tea, so I’m not going to finish it. Anybody who has read the Iliad knows how he dies, anyway (Achilles throws a fit).

Also from what I can tell, the relationship between the 2 main characters ended up being the whole point of the book. Even Lizzie Bennett had to deal with an entail and a skanky little sister.

Why did I smoke? Why did I quit? Can I make it?

I’m not entirely sure when I quit nicotine entirely. As a rule, I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself at my ‘quit date’, and so this time, as I tapered, I purposely set no goals further away than 5 minutes into the future. If I could meet that goal – and most of the time I did – then I could relax until the next craving and next goal showed up.

I estimate my approximate no-patch, no-gum, no-snus date as about 2 weeks after my last cigarette & occurring on as June 20, 2012. If we say that nicotine takes 3 days to leave your body, that means that nicotine has been out of my system for 3 weeks. Wow!

I’ve learned a lot about my smoking habits in the last few weeks. For example -

  • I smoked to calm my nerves. I knew this, but it was interesting how often *that* was my breaking point when it came to quitting smoking. I made sure to taper down slowly during a period when I wasn’t stressed.
  • I smoked during transition - literally either just after I left a building or just before I entered one, I would smoke a cigarette! If I were to be going from one place to another, I lit a cigarette.
  • I smoked to cover social anxiety/have something to do in public. I definitely noticed that this is when I wanted a cigarette the most! Waiting for my train and trying not to make eye contact with people, I certainly wished I could light me up that cigarette.
  • I smoked when I drank. Definitely became an excuse to light a cigarette during “quit times.”
  • I smoked because I smoked. I smoked because I bought cigarettes, had them around me, and was addicted to the nicotine & other additives in them.

I don’t miss it much. For example, I almost never miss my after meal cigarette any longer, which I thought I would crave heavily, and only occasionally do I wish I had a cigarette before I walked into work. In public waiting areas, I’ll read or write in my journal.

How do I calm my nerves? I’m not sure (breathing exercises?)- but I don’t crave a cigarette! I am not a smoker, and it’s awesome.

Part of my issue with quitting smoking was trying to understand why I smoked and why I wanted to quit. The above list of reasons – those were all my excuses for smoking, and until I admitted that I could finish a meal, deal with stress, walk from my front door to the bottom of the stairwell without lighting a cigarette, I wasn’t going to give credit to the reason why I wanted & needed to quit:

  • Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it is expensive.

I understood that not only was I buying cancer at a ridiculous mark-up, not only was I exacerbating my asthma, but I didn’t have any excuse for it. I smoked because I smoked. I smoked because it was a habit and addiction, but that is no reason to smoke. Once I realized that I wanted to quit, truly wanted to end my reliance on nicotine, I was able to finally kick that habit to the curb.

Some of the benefits of not smoking for me have featured more largely than I had anticipated they would.

  • I can wear nice perfume. As a smoker, I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone if I tried to cover up the smell on my clothes with body sprays, and if I spent any considerable amount of money on a scent, it was money down the drain. Non smokers smell cigarette smoke, plain and simple, and you can’t mask it.
  • My skin is better. I don’t just mean that it’s clearer (it is!) but that the color, the texture, the elasticity of my skin has improved markedly in the last few weeks. I’ll take this over a nic hit any day of the week!
  • Sinuses. Nuff said, eh? Less congestion, less swelling, and less SNOT.
  • Food tastes awesome. I was missing out on so much!
  • Sense of smell is HERE. Which isn’t always a good thing. People – you stink. I’m not saying you have to shower daily. Remember what I said about not masking the scent of cigarette smoke with perfume? You can’t hide your rancid body odor with perfume, either! Take a washrag to your pits.
  • I’m presenting a positive, non-smoking image to my nephews. And that’s what matters most, isn’t it?
Non smokers for life!

My grandfather quit smoking cold turkey – & I hope that Joey & Johnny never pick it up!

Even though I get the occasional desire for a cigarette, I wouldn’t call it a craving, and I’m proud of myself for staying nicotine free. Have any of you quit smoking?? What about it was the most difficult thing? And who all went BACK to smoking years after they’d quit – I’ve heard of people being quit for 5 or 6 years and starting up again. Have you seen or experienced that??