Thursday, May 28, 2009

Two things

Last night there are two things I realized I want to see again before I move to Portland.
Earlier, I had been thinking, "Nothing. What I see is what I see. They have gardens/mountains/ocean/Trader Joe's/good wine and beer in Oregon." That's not true.

I want to go to New York one more time. I was just starting to learn my way around New York!

I want to go to the Jersey shore one more time--specifically, Sandy Hook.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday thoughts

I had such a great day today! I want to write about it! I went to many different places and saw lots of people. As I was driving from place to place, I thought about how I'd write about the day.
But as I was driving from my last engagement back to my apartment, I started to feel a little bitter. I had just come from a nice, long party with some old friends. Moving north of 78 (the north/central Jersey barrier) has made me renew a lot of old friendships--it's like I'm making new friendships with old friends--and I feel like I'll be leaving in the middle of that. I know that--especially with this thing called the Internet--my move won't kill all of these relationships, but it makes me sad and a little angry and definitely bitter that this move wasn't entirely my choice. I think it was a good choice--I see now (more and more every day) that it would have been impossible for me to stay, but I just keep thinking back to Christmastime when I felt that I could stay for years. See my friends in their new marriages, see their new children grow up, maybe make myself a little home here (complete with a woodland garden.)
Oh well. Sometimes, there's more than one answer, and I'll be happy in Portland. Everyone thinks I will love it so much that I will never look back.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Crap I Have To Do Between Now and June 28th

1. Bridesmaid Stuff
2. Wrapping Up Stuff at Work/Going to Work at Job I Am Leaving on June 12th
3. Find a place to move into on July 2nd or so from 2,900 miles away
4. Finding someone to move into my place in NJ
5. Packing/sorting what to keep, put in storage, give away, or take with me to Oregon
6. I forgot what I was going to write here - I think it had to do with making sure the car, myself, and my traveling companion are ready to drive from NJ to OR.
7. General stuff I always have to do--maintain a clean house, have not-junky lunches and dinners to eat, figure out what to wear to work, do laundry, water my plants


What ever made me think life after college was less busy?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thought

I haven't written about it explicitly, but I am sure I've let it slip out--in hints or by accident--that I've been very, very unhappy at times throughout the past twelve months. I don't want to say that I've been miserable or that I regret the whole year. I learned a lot from the bad stuff and some good things happened, too. There were definitely happy times.
In December, I really thought I had found my place and that I could stay where I was--job, apartment, all of it--forever. In January, I started getting signs that this was all wrong.
In one of my sad moments, I wrote to someone that I did regret all of it--that right after my 24th birthday, everything went topsy-turvy, good and bad, all kinds of crazy things happened and my life went on the wrong path.

I don't agree with that anymore.

However, I do think that the past thirteen months have been really strange, lots of ups and downs (I wouldn't call it DRAMA--to me, DRAMA is like, someone steals your boyfriend and you make lots of loud phone calls about it not caring that you're in a public place, and write passive aggressive things on Facebook), and lots of things that would make a good story! Maybe not one large cohesive story but lots of good small stories! Interesting dating stories, interesting road trip stories, interesting job stories, interesting jury duty stories...etc etc etc.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

!

Trying to find a new apartment in Portland and a new tenant for my apartment in Morristown is kind of a lonely business. I can almost understand why so many of my friends have chosen to settle down in one place.
Almost.

Long day

Today was ridiculous. It was so draining. A lot happened that was good and a lot that wasn't so great and instead of feeling overwhelmed, I just feel like sitting. The news is getting around about me moving to Oregon, so I spent so much time today talking to curious people about what I am doing and why and every possible thing to talk about...I am so tired that I do not want to talk about myself anymore! I want a break from my life--from why I am leaving New Jersey and why I am going to Oregon and what I am going to do out there. I think I am going to read a book or something.
I spent my weeknights this week cleaning my apartment for prospective lease taker overs and making dinner for a friend who was going to sit with me when the lease taker overs came over tonight. All of them canceled on me. I've resigned myself to the fact that I am just going to have to keep the place really clean for awhile, so that someone can come over at any minute, and though sorting and packing makes a mess, as I get crap out of my apartment, it will be easier to keep the place clean.
This would be a good night to start putting things in boxes, but I think that will bring up too many memories and make me think about the past year and eventually find myself drinking cachaca and crying over something like a scrap of fabric or something that smells like my old apartment. (Man do I sound pitiful!) So, I'm going to read or watch TV--do something I rarely do, which is just escape.
I think I am going to make cake, too. I'm trying out this teff flour I bought a whim several months ago--back when I thought I wanted to stay in New Jersey for years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Five things on a Monday

Just to get in the habit of writing, here are five things.

1. I made mujadara from a blog my mom introduced me to. The writer wrote about having something like writer's block, except with cooking. Nothing seemed appealing, etc. For me, I realized that while I loooooove early spring produce...it's like, I burn out on it really quickly. I feel like I'm already asparagus'ed out. So it's hard to get inspiration from what's in season. Thus, like the writer of this blog, I retreated to the pantry. Mujadara is just caramelized onions with lentils and rice. I made it using only two pieces of cookware--a small pan to half-cook the lentils in during the last 20 minutes of onions caramelizing, and my cast iron skillet. (After boiling the lentils for 20 minutes, they go, with the uncooked rice, right into the onion pan with a little more water.) So easy, tasty, and filling. I ate some for breakfast.

2. Work was mildly irritating today, but I had a nice day regardless. I forgot my sandwich; a co-worker and I ordered Vietnamese, and sat outside at a picnic table because, although it was cold out, with hot soup, it didn't matter. So, I got to have a picnic. I had to spend a lot of time on a project, rushing to finish it on time because other people did not give me stuff by the deadline I set, but you know what? At least I was busy all day. I wasn't bored. I took a break at one point and hand-wrote some stuff that I will type later, as well as a List of Things to Write About. I have some ideas for short stories and blog posts. For the first time in years, I feel moved to write a short story. Maybe I should repeat that, in bold. For the first time in years, I feel moved to write a short story.

3. Um....already running out of things. Well, I posted a Craigslist ad for my current apartment. Four people have e-mailed me about it. So, I'm going to spend tomorrow making sure the place is sparkling clean and beautiful and homey looking. Show-worthy.

4. I still can't find a place in Portland. It's making me a little nervous.

5. During the past nine months that I've lived in Morristown, I've been learning all the roads and shortcuts and less trafficky long-cuts to get places. I've noticed that I take these new-to-me routes all the time...even when it's not rush hour but the middle of the night, and it would be much faster to take a main road or to drive through the center of town. (The thing is, the center of Morristown is this horrible traffic-circle-gone-wrong. It encircles a very nice park called "The Green." The goal is to Avoid The Green. I have a suspicion that the reason I take these new routes is not to avoid traffic, not because they are scenic, and not because I am weird habit-forming creature. I think it's because I associate them with the first few months I lived in Morristown, when I was absolutely miserable. I've also come up with a theory that my confusing, convoluted sadness had something to do with the fact that my old life ended broken. I didn't have proper closure. Everything ended badly. I left my beloved apartment a mess, not talking to one of my housemates (though this was never agreed upon, it was silently understood. Side note: we talk now)....I'm sure there were other things. Oh, there was some boy drama. More than one level of boy drama. Ahem.

So far, things here seem to be getting better ever since I decided to leave. Yet, there are still signs that seem to tell me I should leave, that I'm doing the right thing. And if not...then I come back to New Jersey.

For example, one day, I was wondering about my decision, and as I was considering staying in New Jersey, I heard a loud CRACK! A beautiful dogwood tree in full bloom collapsed in the forest next to me. No one saw it but me.

Anyway, I think maybe it's better that this happens--that I leave Morristown on a happy note.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wal-Mart Guy

A couple of weekends ago, I found myself at a Wal-Mart in another town. It was a Sunday afternoon and it was during a heat wave. My skin was pink and shiny with drippy, viscous sweat...but so was everyone else's. After this, the plan was that I would go home, and start sorting things and packing my belongings into boxes. (At this point, I knew there was a good chance I would be moving out of New Jersey and wanted to prepare early.) In fact, I had planned to spend the day doing this, but things kept conspiring against me and I found myself at Wal-Mart in the late afternoon.
At Wal-Mart, all I planned to buy were a couple of pairs of their $2 bamboo flip flops and a box of Band-Aids. Except Wal-Mart cast its fluorescent-lit spell upon me. As I walked in the door, I found myself confronted with rows of bras. I realized that it was high time I got some new bras. For three months I had been wearing a strapless bra held in place by a camisole. I wish I was exaggerating but I am not. So, I spent time picking out tackily cute, cheap bras that I knew would stretch or snap within six months, but who cares. I knew that a navy blue bra with cartoonish anchors and stars and hearts on it was impractical...but so cute! Awhile ago, I wrote in this blog about going to Target and being angry that I couldn't find any bras that fit. This same thing happened again at Wal-Mart, so I decided to try on a different size. Well, at this Wal-Mart, I learned my true bra size...and the day would never be the same.
Well, it set the tone for a bizarre day.
Incidentally, I didn't buy any bras in the correct size because there were only two that I could find in the entire store, and they had wide straps (ugh), and they were ugly. They were off-white. One had small rainbow polka dots on it. The other had rainbow candy-cane stripes of varying widths. Trust me, they were ugly. So I bought the nautical bra in the wrong size.
THEN they didn't have the sandals I wanted!
OK, I know, you're like, wasn't there supposed to be a guy in this story? Get to the point!

Anyway, an embarrassingly (or em-bra-ssingly) long time later, perhaps thirty minutes, I found myself in the hair removal aisle staring, with confusion, at a mixture of men's razors and women's Nair products.
It is a post for another time about how women's hair removal products are always difficult to find in drug stores because, in my experience at least, they are NEVER in the same place and they are NEVER labeled. Why? There are so many embarrassing products in the pharmacy section of a store; how is Nair or Sally Hansen wax strips the most unmentionable product?!
I was looking for Parissa body sugar, if anyone cares. Of course, Wal-Mart did not have any. But I spent a long time staring at that shelf.
When I looked up, a man was standing before me. How long he had been standing there, watching me, I don't know. Watching me holding ridiculous nautical bras and flip flops, while intently staring at jars of Nair.

"Excuse me," the man said.
I stared at him blankly, under the stupefying spell of Wal-Mart, deprived of natural light and air and therefore, drained of the ability to quickly switch to "social interaction" mode.
"Excuse me, I just wanted to say hello to you. You're so beautiful I just had to say hi."

"..." responded Socially Awkward Sarah.

"I mean, really...ever since I saw you in the Wal-Mart, I just had to speak to you!"

A thought crossed my mind--how long ago had he first seen me in the Wal-Mart? Had he been following me? For long? Had he seen me picking out bras!?

"...Oh...um..." I stammered.

"I mean it, I really like your look...you know, everything...your dress...Where are you from?"

"Target," I answered. Emerging from the haze, my shopping-foggy brain had fixated on the word "dress." And so, I told the man that I was from Target.

"No, I mean, where are you from? Are you Spanish?"
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Why do people always ask about my ethnicity? And why, why do so many people guess "Spanish"? I told him that I was French. (The abridged version.)

"French! Wow! You're French? Wow, I don't mean many people from France! Welcome to America!"

"Oh no! I'm from New Jersey. My family's from France." I wondered how he was able to mistake someone with a heavy Jersey accent for being off-the-boat French.

"Oh. Well, can I buy you a cup of coffee?"

All I could think was, "Ugh! This Wal-Mart trip has already taken too long. AND I have to go to Liquor Outlet. AND I haven't started packing yet!" I told him I was really busy.

"Well, can I have your number?"

"I'm moving to Oregon in two weeks." I realized as this came out of my mouth that it sounded like complete bullshit. (Instead of partial bullshit. Two weeks have gone by and I am not yet in Oregon.)

"Really? Oregon?"
"Yes! Really!"
"Why?"

"I got a job out there...and I'm going to take it...because I want to be a scientist!" I found myself telling this stranger all about my decision to run away from home to be a botanist.

"Well, then let me take you out for coffee."
"Where?"
"Dunkin Donuts. It's right outside."

I thought about it. It was true; Dunkin Donuts was right there. It was a safe neighborhood. It was 5pm. I had my own car. Even if this guy was a serial killer, there was a very small chance he'd have opportunity to serially kill me. I sent a friend a text message telling her where I was going and to please call me in thirty minutes. I also thought, how often is it that some guy tells you that you're beautiful and he just wants to talk to you and buy you coffee right now!

I told him I wanted to buy Band-Aids first. I then took an inordinately long time picking out Band-Aids. I asked him where his groceries were; he looked confused, but produced a shopping cart. I was relieved to see that it not only existed, but contained several gallons of Tide and a few cans of Prego pasta sauce. Those weren't the groceries of a creep! (As opposed to what...rope? Something heavy? And something with toxic fumes?)

So we went to a nearby Dunkin Donuts...where we had nothing to talk about. He made a comment that was either racist or I misheard it (and racism is one of my few deal-breakers) and I drew a map on a napkin to explain where Oregon was. Still, he asked for my number. I told him I wasn't comfortable giving him my number; how about e-mail? He said he didn't have a computer. (That's why I feel safe writing all of this on a blog.) Skipping the boring parts of the story, he looked sad, so I gave him my number. He gave me an awkward hug and we got into our respective cars.

And that was how I got asked out in the hair removal aisle of Wal-Mart.
I am going to make an effort to start writing more...again. Things are changing, which means there are lots of exciting things to write about, and even though I might not think I have time, it's good to sit down and document things.
Someday, I will write the story of how I came to decide to move from Morristown to Portland, OR. But I'm not ready to write that to the Internet world yet.
As far as that's going, I have a temporary job out there. Only a small part of me is worried about what I'm going to do when that job ends. My plan is to stay in Portland at least six months. Why? Well, I think that's a good amount of time to give a place a chance. Also, I have enough money saved to live in Portland for quite some time. Even though it's very risky in some ways, I am kind of glad the job is temporary because then I won't feel trapped. It could be the nicest place in the world, but something about permanence upsets me...and I know that's irrational and not the way most people my age feel.
Anyway, I'm trying to keep a list of things to write about. I have had my Post-It notes on my desktop (the Post-It Notes program, not real pieces of paper) with my to do list and addresses from when I went to Montreal...that's been there since Valentine's Day. Because I have been meaning to write about it. Someday.
Also, I need to write The Tale of Wal-Mart Guy. That just needs to be shared.
Finally, I started writing a bit about my recipe to-do list; the things I was making for myself. I think it contributes to the collaborative nature of the blog world to write about and comment on things I made from food blogs (and books.) I realized tonight, looking at my fridge and my Read Later links list, I have exhausted my recipe to do list! How did that happen? Lately, I've been making Mark Bittman's No Knead Bread (how did I not discover this wonder of recipes earlier in my life!?), different "pizzas", and I made the Seaweed Risotto recipe from 101cookbooks.com, which had been on my list since...I think January. I also bought fiddleheads from Wegman's and made the Fiddlehead Soup recipe in Sheila Lukin's USA Cookbook. It was good, but I think I'd be just as happy to eat fiddleheads blanched, or sauteed. I bet they'd be good with aioli on pizza dough. The Seaweed Risotto was awesome--I would recommend it. Except, do as she says and use nori or another mild seaweed. I used hijiki (half the amount of nori that the recipe calls for) and it was great the first two days, but after sitting in the fridge a third day, the flavor got so strong that it was a bit unpleasant. Well, now I know.
Most of my cooking is going to revolve around what's in season and what I'm trying to use up from my pantry before I move. I think it would be fun to list allllll of the spices I have. I kind of collect them. Some have never been opened.
Anyway, the next post will probably be more interesting than some blahblahblah about food and packing. Stay tuned for .... The Wal-Mart Guy Story. !!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Some thoughts and a weak metaphor about the sun

Yesterday, around sunset, I was driving on Route 80 West--toward the sunset--and suddenly remembered where I was May 13, 2008. When I wrote the following, I was feeling so sad...sadder than I've felt at almost any other time that I can remember:
I have this stupid cold which had me wake up shortly before sunrise, so that I could hear the familiar early morning birds chirping and think about where I was a week ago....I tried to fall back asleep, read, go online and look up stuff for my trip, do anything BUT look at photos and my empty inbox and listen to songs with titles like "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine." But this is life...ultimately you end up doing those things.

That was May 13, 2008, a day I woke up at sunrise with a puffy face because I literally cried myself to sleep. I think that was the first time I had done that--before, I thought it was something trite that was only in stories. I really was listening to "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine," and boy, did I really believe it!

All I could think, as I was driving at sunset on May 13th a year later, was how happy I was now. So much happened in those twelve months, good and bad, and from feeling the lowest low, I've come back up and beyond where I ever was before. Happy, going where I want to in life.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I am moving to Portland, OR. It's official now. More writing on this topic (and others!) later.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I found my Safeway card when I was sorting through stuff in my apartment this week. I take that as a sign.
Also, I'm very glad that there are Trader Joe's stores out West.