Happiness and The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies You Have Ever Had

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'” – Kurt Vonnegut.
I love to cook, and I love to bake. Something about the almost-scientific measuring and combining of ingredients makes me feel like I’m actually achieving something, and as someone who tends to show affection and respect through gifts and actions, making a home cooked meal is pretty much, to me, the greatest way I can say “I love you, thank you for being my friend”.

Unfortunately, life (well, shows) often get in the way of my moments of quiet in the kitchen, and I’ve realized that along with spending shitloads of money on terrible food during rehearsals, I also feel dissatisfied– like I’m missing out on something pivotal and important when I’m not cooking. I’m no suzy homemaker by any means, but cooking is something I’m good at (usually) and I enjoy (always).

I like winter especially because it’s “cold weather food time”, meaning that my affinity for pasta, soups and roast potatoes is someone more acceptable than in the middle of July.

Awhile ago, I posted a blog about my diagnoses of fibromyalgia, and somehow wound up mentioning chocolate chip cookies in the same post, because I am awesome.

I’ve gotten several emails from different readers asking me what is so flipping fantastic about my chocolate chip cookies, and could they have the recipe.

Yes. Yes you can.

I don’t know what makes these so goddamn good, but they are. Over the years, I have added and adjusted things to get them to the pinnacle of cookie perfection. When I was in college, I entered these cookies into a baking contest and won enough money to pay for two semesters of textbooks and a year of tuition. So, that good.

At some point I will go back and illustrate this with gorgeous food-bloggy type pictures, but it is disgustingly grey outside so everything looks tragically Dickensian. Your patience, please.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Evar

(Based on THIS RECIPE from allrecipes.com)

STOCK PHOTO, BITCHES!

Before you start:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Really. If you  have a shitty oven like mine, pre-heat that shit like a good 1/2 hour before you plan on making these, or they will flatten out and you will have sad flat cookies. No one likes sad flat cookies.

Procure yourself the following:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    • check your expiration date on your Baking Soda and Baking Powder– if they are old or have been sitting out, toss them and get some new stuff. These cookies are dependant on the chemical rising process and they won’t turn out right if your BS and BP are oldballs.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

    MAKE SURE YOUR BUTTER IS MELTED. It also helps if it is at room temperature. So pop it in the microwave and then let it sit for a little bit so it can cool down. Don’t like, leave it sitting out overnight or it will be all disease-ridden and disgusting, but ten minutes or so (I usually let it cool while I’m mixing the dry ingredients) seems to work the best).

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • This is one of those annoying “feel it out” things– I normally wind up using closer to 1 1/2 cups, just because I like my cookies chewier.
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
    • The most I have ever put in is 2 bags, but I added an extra 1/2 cup of flour to hold it all together.
  1. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.** I have made these cookies a million bazillion times. I have done them by hand and also used a mixer. I have found that generally, mixing the ingredients by hand using a wisk gives you chewier, more solid cookies, whereas using a mixer will give you cakier, fluffier cookies. I like chewy cookies, so that works for me. If you like them the other way, then use a mixer.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
  4. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. you know those big-ass cookies at Starbucks and Jimmy John’s? This is how you make that size cookie. You have to cook them at a low temperature for a long time.
  5. The original recipe says  bake for 15-17 minutes, but I don’t think I’ve ever left mine in longer than 12. Just check them out, and when the EDGES are toasted (brown-ish) take them out. Don’t wait until the middle looks cooked or you will have some hard-ass crunchy cookies. Unless you’re into that, then by all means.
  6. DON’T FUCK WITH THEM RIGHT AWAY. The cookies need time to set before you take them off the cookie sheet, so let them sit for about 5 minutes. Then  transfer them to wire racks (or a piece of wax paper if you’re poor like me and don’t have racks) to cool completely.
  7. Enjoy your cookies.

The Possibilities of Cymbeline, or how a box and a sheet changed my life.

I just realized I never updated about our impromptu roadtrip last week. I knew you were all worried.

Last year, I went to New York on a whim with my mom. Standing in line at the TKTX booth, we were arguing over what to go see, and I noticed that there was a single Shakespeare listed on the “plays” side of the board: some random theatre company was doing Cymbeline.

I talked her into it under the promise that I would go see Mary Poppins the next night. The deal made, we set off for Greenwich Village, to the Barrow Street Theatre where my life would change completely in an evening.  Alright, maybe my life didn’t change, but my opinion on the possibilities of theatrical convention were entirely shifted.

I thought that I had written about this before. Frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t, but then I realized, I’m glad that I hadn’t because it took my third viewing of the show last week for what it was about the show to really get to me.

(We’ll get to the 3rd time in a minute).

I often say “the best thing ever” and “it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen”. Here, please note that I really do mean that quite literally, without a hint of my usual sarcasm and/or hyperbole.

Hands down, the Fiasco Theatre’s production of Cymbeline was the best show I have ever seen. Ever.

I have turned into a Fan Girl over this company, and it is a little bit embarrassing. Okay, a lot embarrassing because I’m not the “I get super excited” kid. I’m the “yeah, it was pretty cool I guess” kid. I don’t run out of theatres going “ohmygodohmygod”, I coolly amble out of theatres going “I can’t believe she didn’t announciate the third troche”. (Okay, I’ve never said that in my life, but you get the idea).  Like, I sent them an email. A GUSHY email.

Anyway, so the show, the first time, was kind of a haze of magical amazingness.

Frankly, I don’t remember much about that actual viewing aside from the sheer joy I felt afterwards. That over-arching “holy shit, I can’t believe I got to see THAT happen just witnessed something magic” theatre joy that renders you an addict and keeps high school kids doing drama even after their parents stop patronizing them. That magic. You remember. The first time you saw something that “clicked” and you said “that. that is what I want to do”. That was the moment I had, again. Only it was better, because instead of being excited that people were clapping for me, I was happy for the actors. I was clapping because they got to do this, because they got to see this vision realized, because I got to be there for it.  I was happy that this got to exist.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be to put on a show in new work. I have friends who are playwrights, I’ve written plays of my own, but in New York, especially, where it seems like big flashy musicals are the focus— here was a troupe of 7 performing a 300 year old play with a bedsheet and a wooden box. I loved them for that.

When my mom asked me if I wanted to go back to New York, I had one caviat– that we go see the 2nd to last performance of Cymbeline again. I wanted to re-asses. See if maybe those sneaky actors hadn’t just impressed me with their costume design and their staging but secretly sucked.

Nope.

The 2nd time I took notes. Not like, douchey high school kid doing a report notes, but mental notes. The verse work. The simplicity. Oh, the simplicity. (We’ll get to that in a second, too).  Everything was still amazing. Sure, that particular evening had some snafus, but that made it better for me– see, real people!

It’s ridiculous, even now, because I’m trying to write a fair and balanced account, but I can’t, because I just want to gush all over this blog about OH MY GOD THE BOX and OH MY GOD THE SONGS and well…just…oh my god, right?

So it happened through a series of events that I found out that Fiasco was going to be performing Cymbeline in San Diego. I was bummed, because it was so very far away, but then I realized that on their way out there, they were going to be stopping in Milwaukee.

Holy shit, bro.

I can’t talk about this play as an actor. I can’t because I get far too excited and derpy about the ridiculous attention to detail to in anyway convey that I am a mature, trained Shakesperean actress with actual experience and technique under my belt. I can’t figure it out. I can watch goddamn Captain Picard play Macbeth and be like “yeah that’s pretty cool I guess”, but watching 7 random strangers performing Cymbeline renders me physically incapable of using any terms more complicated than “ZOMG ITS LIKE SO GOOD”.

Anyway, so I convinced a group of friends to tag along, most specifically Jake, which was awesome, because after months of listening to me yap about the show, he finally got to see it for himself.

It timed out perfectly, too– our one night off of rehearsal was the night they would be in Milwaukee, so at 3 that afternoon, we began the trek down. (It is here that I would mention that driving to Canada to see Titus still ranks as the most ridiculous of roadtrips, but the there-and-back nature of this trip made it pretty epic as well).

And…there it was. (Mostly) just like I remembered it, save for the details in the house of the theatre and two replacement actors (who I thought did really well, except that a have a small crush on one of the original actors…and his ukulele).  Anyway, it was the show I remembered with the added thrill of getting to look over at Jake and my other friends during the bits of Particularly Outstanding Awesome and seeing their faces. And then regretting taking them because they’d know that I totally ripped off my brilliant directing ideas. Damn. I guess I’ll have to come up with my own.

Still wonderful, still fantastically simple, still seamless, still brilliant.

The next day, I went back to rehearsal and someone asked me why I seemed so bothered, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, until someone else asked me how the show had been.

Then I figured it out.

What I love about Fiasco’s Cymbeline is that for me, personally, it’s a challenge.

How do you take a small group of actors and produce something extraordinary? You do it with a bed sheet and a box that becomes ALL THE SETS. You do it with music, with sets, with costumes. Right now you’re like, duh, Catie, that’s what a show is—but it’s more than that.

It’s the vision. It’s the simplicity of meaningful words produced in a meaningful way. It’s why I am so excited for Antigone this spring. It’s because I have that chance. I have limitless possibilities to create that magic. It’s not about a complicated set and a bazillion flashy costumes or set pieces or props.

It’s about the words and the action and the seamless blending of the two into something bigger than the elements and the actors themselves. I would kill for an opportunity to work with Fiasco on a show like that, to experience that sort of intense process in creating an altogether seamless show, but I know that is a pipe dream more than something that could ever come to fruition (but if you’re ever looking for a Lavinia, Fiasco…you know who to call.)

What is not, impossible, however, is bringing that aesthetic, that drive, that passion home with me.

I am challenging myself to walk out of the theatre feeling like I did the first time I saw Cymbeline. Granted, Antigone is a tragedy and Cymbeline has a wacky, plot-twist filled happy ending, but I believe at the core, it’s not about the subject matter. It’s about the passion and the knowledge that a wooden box and a bed sheet can create an entire world.

And I want to create it.

Fiasco Theatre <—-clicky link.

A Letter From My Father

Sometimes, I just need to write about things to get them out.

Right now is one of those times.

(You don’t have to read this if you don’t want to).

So tonight, my mom brought over the remains of the crap I had left over in my old room after I moved out. I was dreading it for a number of reasons, most of them being because it was a huge pile of crap– mismatched shoes, old notebooks, photocopied scripts from college, just…shit.

In the midst of all of that shit, however, there was one plain, letter-sized envelope marked “Letters from Dad and Mom”. Jake handed it to me and I ignored it for as long as I could, but eventually, I realized I was going to have to open it. I knew what it was– when we were in 8th grade, one of the benefits of going to a small school meant that the parent/teacher relationship was pretty strong, so she convinced all of the parents of the kids in my class to write us letters– they could be about anything, about their hopes for our future, how proud they were of us, whatever, but she thought it would be nice for us to have something meaningful from our parents.

Being 14, I didn’t think much of it. I remember reading it, thinking “lame and sappy” and sticking them in a musicbox for safekeeping, forgot about them, and that was really the end of it.

Thank god 14-year-old Catie had the foresight to stick them somewhere where they wouldn’t get fucked up, because tonight, after ten years, I got to read that letter from my father again.

This November, it will have been 4 years since he died. I’ve written already about what I would give to have him be here for those key moments in my life, but now, in some small, tiny way, I have a piece of him. Yeah, I have a bunch of his gungy old sweatshirts, but this is different. I have, in his handwriting, a messy, terribly written and awkwardly phrased letter telling me that he is proud of me. That he loves me. That he was proud to be my father.

When I was in Titus, I was really awkward around the guy playing Titus for a long time because I wasn’t used to having a father, and when I finally did get used to it, I didn’t want it to be over. It was weird, I know, and a little creepy, probably, but that show is so intensely focused on the father/daughter relationship (well, at least ours was) that it was really difficult to ignore that dynamic, so once it was gone, I realized how much I missed it, not just in the show, but in real life.

I miss HAVING a dad. It’s weird, and I feel terrible for saying it, but sometimes I miss having a dad more than I actually miss my dad, the person.

Part of that, I think, is because I never got to know my dad as “my dad, the person”. I got to know him as “my dad”, that all-wise and all-knowing, quiet confidant who shared smirks with me at my mom’s freak outs and understood my need for quiet, because he was the same way. I knew that part of him. I know that he loved the Cubs, tolerated football and made amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. I know that he ate the same lunch nearly every day for 15 years, made pancakes on Sunday mornings, wore his socks until they were full of holes and sewed on his own buttons and was always proud when he did. I remember he used to spin me and my brother really fast on that spinny thing at the playground and say he was “Doctor Evil”, an evil carnival worker bent on our destruction.

I know that he had a weird scar on the side of his face because when they called my parents to tell me I was at the hospital, my dad was cleaning out the drain in the bathroom and got so excited that he spilled drain cleaner all over himself. I know that he liked Kirk better than Picard but respected my preference and loved jazz music and hated the Eagles and thought the Rolling Stones were overplayed. I know that he was very choosy about his bananas and reused his paper lunch sacks and plastic baggies like a weirdo.

I know that he was a great softball coach and tried to be at all of my games. I remember his winter coat and his stupid rubber boots he wore over his dress shoes and how hard it was to get him to buy new clothes. He went to George’s Barbershop and had gone since he was a kid, thought George gave better haircuts than Ernie and after he died, they closed– part of me thinks he was the only person keeping them open.

I remember so many, many things about my dad, but I still don’t know so many things. I’ve heard so many great stories and I know that he did a lot of good for a lot of people– and I know that I miss him. A lot. I will regret not getting to know him in other, more significant ways, but in the end, I got what I got and I am grateful even for that.

Tonight, though, tonight my dad reminded me of things that I had forgotten. I didn’t expect him to be able to do that– but he did.

So, 14-year old Catie, way to be responsible.

Thanks, Dad.

That Time I Wore A Wig To A Wedding–Lessons in Growing Up

When I was a kid, I used to be really excited to “grow up”. I had a lot of friends who were older than me, some by a few years, some by a few decades. Being a theatre person will do that to you, I suppose– I have a habit of averaging out my friends’ ages, so being genuine friends with people old enough to be my parents isn’t weird because in my mind, they’re 24.

I remember being an awkward, awkward teenager and telling one of my older friends how much it sucks being a teenager, and she told me “Just wait until your mid-twenties, you will really start to figure out who you are. You’ll get better at it as you get older, but that’s when it starts”.

I used to wonder how I would know when I was grown up, how I would know who I am or what I stand for, because that seemed so exciting– a moment in which you get to choose between right and wrong, between making the “grown up” choice or not, and that would be the moment when you knew you were the person you would be. Or something like that.

This weekend, two of my really good friends got married. I haven’t known either of them for very long, but the gal is one of those people that I immediately found myself drawn to and have since become really close with. She’s smart, funny, incredibly talented, hilarious and an amazing friend. Her new husband is brilliant, and is one of those guys who can be really quiet, and then from nowhere, say something so hilarious the room has to stop and think about it before we all explode into laughter. I love this couple. Together, they are a dynamic duo of hilarity and awesome, and I feel incredibly blessed to have them in my life.

They know me well, and for their wedding, they asked me to write something. I was honored. Not only did I get to use my MAD WRITING SKILLZ to bless their marriage, I got to perform with three of my closest friends. It was— well, it really did mean the world to me.

(Don’t worry, this is going somewhere).

This weekend, I found myself thinking a lot about who I am. It wasn’t exactly an existential crisis, but I was presented with a situation that I was not anticipating– one of the, shall we say, “financial backers” of  the wedding was less than thrilled with my hair.

I won’t get into the sordid details, but let’s just say that from the beginning, it was made very apparent by this person that I was not welcome.

Now, before you read this and think “well, you’re the idiot who showed up at a wedding with blue hair, what the hell did you expect?”, let me say this:

I know that blue hair is my choice, and that sometimes the repercussions of this choice will be negative. However, I’m not used to dealing with this because my friends– the people who I was there to support and celebrate with– had absolutely no issue with it. They know me, they know who I am and what I stand for and that just like some of our friends have brown hair or blonde hair or red hair, I’m the friend with blue hair.

I have been extraordinarily lucky in my life. I’ve been able to perform my poetry for important government leaders, for ambassadors from foreign nations, for royalty, for sometimes actual cash money and spoken to thousands of students across the county, on national and international stages– and not a single one of them ever found an issue with my hair. In fact, most of them complimented me on it.

But here, at a celebration for two amazing friends, surrounded by three other amazing friends– suddenly, I was a terrible person for being none other than myself.

I honestly didn’t know what to do. I went home, and I cried. I cried for hours because I felt like a terrible person. I felt like I’d missed the memo, that I should have known going in, that I should have been smart enough to think ahead– but I think it speaks more highly of my friends and of my happiness that I never assumed anyone would take issue, because, across the board, I am unconditionally loved and accepted by the people around me– hell, even Jake’s parents never blinked twice when I met them for the first time with bright blue hair. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve never been in a situation where my hair has been a Situation. But this weekend, it was.

The bride contacted me, apologizing with nearly every other word, explaining that the “financial backer” was upset about my hair. I told her, without a single moment’s hesitation, that I would gladly dye my hair if it would solve the problem. The bride protested, but I could tell that offering to cover up the blue was the best way to diffuse the already tense situation, so I insisted that it was fine and I was happy to do it. In the end, I decided not to dye it, as I had JUST re-dyed it blue (ironically enough, for the wedding) the day before, so I went out to my local weave store and bought me a weave. I love the weave store.

But the more I sat on it, and the more I thought about it, the more angry I got– not at the bride, not at the groom, but at the third party who thought it was their right to decide how I would look at this wedding.

And you know what? It fucking hurt.

For my entire life, I have struggled to find who I am. I have worked– hard– to become the person I am today. Not incredibly successful, not incredibly rich, but I am happy. I am loved, I am talented and I am confident in the person I am– and it astounds me that something so insignificant, something so trivial would become an issue that resulted in a bride crying at 1AM the morning before her wedding and asking me to change it.

I felt terrible for the bride, who was put in an incredibly awkward position– ask your friend to change or risk the fury of the opinionated “financial backer”….what do you do?

To my friend’s credit, she was a beautiful example of grace and gratitude under pressure. She was kind, compassionate and apologetic, and has stood up for me in every way, and I really do feel like our friendship has grown from this experience– I know that she accepts me unconditionally and that she will always have my back, and knowing that I have friends like her makes me feel so very, very lucky. All of my friends thought it was ridiculous, and they stood next to me and giggled and joked and made me feel loved, accepted and confident in the fact that while there may always be people who give me a second glance and a quick judgement, there are far, far more people in my life who will always be there to support me.

The person who insisted on my wearing what I shall call my “disguise” does not know me, and it became incredibly apparent that they had no intention of attempting to, either. I showed up and, based on nothing but a stupid hair color, it was decided that I was not worthy of celebrating as I was, but instead, I had to hide my hair and my personality so as to…what? Not upset the relatives? Not ruin the photos?

What’s funny is that at the reception, when I took off my wig, I got more compliments on my hair than I did on the writing I did for the ceremony– and we got a LOT of those. I was incredibly proud that my writing had been successful– that my friend were happy with what I had created and that the people at the ceremony were impressed and touched as well– and I was able to participate in their marriage– but there is always going to be a part of me that looks at those pictures and thinks “why did this person think I wasn’t good enough to stand up as myself and represent who I am?”

My hair literally says who I am. My synesthesia is something I kind of keep in my back pocket, because it’s mostly just a stupid party trick and conversation filler, but my name is the color of my hair and the color of my hair is my name. I’m happier and more confident with blue hair because after 6 years, it’s become a part of me. It’s become a fun, distinguishing characteristic and a way for me to own my quirky-ness and my sense of fun…but this weekend, I was asked to choose between hiding who I am or potentially causing a lot of trouble.

Four years ago, two years ago, maybe even a year ago, I would have stomped my feet and made a fuss and been an asshole and insisted on showing up with bright green hair and a clown costume, just to make a point. But this weekend, I thought about it, I thought about what mattered and what was important, and what mattered to me the most wasnt’ shocking the party who made the decree in the first place or teaching them a lesson by showing up naked or something— what mattered to me was being able to be there for my friends and making their lives as easy as possible, and that meant swallowing my pride and wearing a wig.

I am not a martyr, nor am I a saint. I bitched. I moaned. I complained. I cried. But in the end, I think I made the right choice, because in the immortal words of Kyle Broflovski, I learned something that day.

What I learned about myself is that I can make the “grown up” choice. No, I was not happy– I was hot, the wig itched, I felt ugly and it made my face look fat, but I wore it with pride as a badge of honor–I know who I am a little more now, and while I might not always make the best choices or make the right decision, I did in this case, and I am proud of that.

When I look back on this ridiculous situation and laugh, I will laugh because I shared a beautiful weekend with some of my dearest friends– women who I want to stand up with me when I get married, women who I want to represent the love I have for my life and my friends and my community, and women who I will insist come as they are, be it green, pink, purple or brown– because, well, they’ve done the same for me, and I love them for it.

 

Actually Working for Parks and Recreation (adventures in living a real-life sitcom).

I love my job. I really do.

There are days when I want to punch myself in the face, repeatedly, but at the end of the day, somewhere along the line, I started liking my job.

When I first started, my job was literally entering trees into a computer, and I remember thinking to myself “this is going to last two weeks”. A year later, I’m still here.

Granted, at some point, someone noticed that I’m good at design and writing, so I’ve been able to actually use my skills and talents around the office, which has been really nice. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re appreciated, or at least useful. I like being useful. There’s also no such things as an “average day”. One day, I might be designing a poster for an event or program, the next day I might be teaching a group of 7 year olds about my chameleon’s eating habits while he crawls up my hair.

Hands down, though, the best part of my job, though, is interacting with the public. 97% of the time, the people I deal with are kind, considerate and grateful for my assistance. The other 3% of the time, though, that’s where Facebook statuses are born and legends are made.

There have been odd encounters before– the Duck Lady was really my first Great Story, but before and after that, there have been daily (if not twice and three times and four times daily) ridiculous encounters and experiences that have really made this job worth working.

Since the popularity of the NBC show “Parks and Recreation” has taken off, I get asked a lot what it’s like to work for a “real” Parks and Recreation department– and, well…it’s very, very similar to the show. In a good way.

A lot of the strangest things that have happened could be straight out of an episode, but I think that’s kind of the fun part about working here– you just never know when someone is going to kidnap a duck or fall into the river or one of a million other strange complaints and concerns I’ve gotten in the year I’ve been  working here.

While we might be short a real Ron Swanson, everyone I work with is a character– in an awesome way. I  get along with everyone at the office really well—even though I have been dubbed the “Office April”, (which is awesome), and the general “we’re all in this together” feeling means that for the most part, we are all willing to go out of our way to help each other out. Sure, there are some days when covering the phones is really the last thing I’d rather be doing, but, in all honesty, the potential to have an Awesome Story usually gives me the motivation I need when I’d rather be working on a design or something.

There is also just a kind of sense of humor about what we do that I appreciate. I love designing stuff because I just get to have fun with it.

I’ve realized that I might not do this job forever, but I really do love it.  Sure, there are good days and bad days, just like any other job, but the fact that I get to do something I’m good at and I go in every morning with the potential to get a Great Story out of the day is pretty special to me.

In a perfect world, I would be working for a Shakespeare company that rotates between productions of Titus Andronicus and Two Gents, but the fact that I get paid to plan Halloween parties and help people plan weddings is a fair trade off for now.

I’m Sorry that I’m Sorry That I’m Sorry

I am a serial apologizer.

I apologize for everything. Mistakes, failures, missteps– and more often, when I absolutely don’t need to.

It’s strange, really. I never noticed how much I actually do it until Jake pointed out that I apologize, all the time, for things that make absolutely no sense to apologize about, to the point of ridiculousness.

It usually goes something like this:

Jake: Hey, want to go out tonight and do something fun?

Catie: I’m sorry, I’m just really tired and I don’t feel like it. I’m sorry.

Jake: It’s okay, you don’t have to apologize.

Catie: Sorry!

Jake:Really, it’s okay, you don’t have to say you’re sorry. We’ll do something else.

Catie: I’m sorry.

Jake: GAHHHHH.

When my back hurts (well, more than it usually does), I apologize. If I need help with something, I apologize. If I feel that I have, in the slightest way put someone out or caused them the smallest inconvenience, I am wracked with the senseless need to apologize.

I don’t get it. Well, I mean, I do. I apologize for things like not wanting to go out or feeling shitty because, in my mind, I am ruining a night’s plans because of my bastard back or something. I feel bad that I have to constantly be aware of  what I’m doing and for how long– yeah, my whole movement disorder thing isn’t usually a big issue, but I hate that it affects my life in any way.

In some ways, I think my apologies are a denial that what I deal with is a “thing”– an apology means that it’s temporary, that it’s something that will clear up in a week and everything will be fine. “I’m sorry we can’t go to the amusement park today, how does next Tuesday sound, because I’ll be fine by then!”…except next Tuesday, I still might start twitching if I ride the wrong roller coaster.

In other cases, it’s simply a way to avoid conflict. I hate yelling. I hate angry confrontation and that sickly grey-cloud-over-my-head-knotted-stomach feeling that happens when I know someone is mad at me– so I immediately apologize. Even if the other person is in the wrong. I back down and apologize because it’s easier. But it never is. Because hurt feelings stay hurt if you don’t talk about them, and an instantaneous apology doesn’t help to fix that part of the problem– it just ends the conversation, and, more often than not, that’s the exact opposite to what I want to happen.

I also realized that I have started apologizing for being honest– I do it all the time, and I realized that I had started apologizing for being honest here– on MY blog that I write and control—but still, apologizing nonetheless to a faceless public who– might be offended that I occasionally break from my whackity-shmackity daily antics and open up about the more serious parts of my life?

The biggest realization I had was that for some reason, I still don’t think I deserve the things I’ve been given.

I don’t think it’s a leftover ‘catholic school kid thing”– the guilt I feel isn’t nessessarily connected to some unseen deity, it’s deeply rooted to my sense of self-worth. I’ve gotten a lot better about self-acceptance, but what I didn’t realize is that self-acceptance isn’t nessessarily the same thing as self-worth. I accept myself for who I am, but that doesn’t mean that my definition of who I am isn’t flawed or skewed by my guilt at not being able to meet the expectations I ascribe to myself.

I’ve never been a person to flaunt my successes. (Well, most of the time). Occasionally, I will get fired up about something and pull out my “look at how successful I am” card, but in daily life, I’m far from a braggart.

I know that I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished, and not apologize for being good at something– the thought of offending someone because I mention my success is almost ridiculous when analyzing it, but in daily conversation, I do it all the time. I’m a good writer– I always have been– but I often apologize for it, and downplay my success.

I don’t feel like I deserve the success of this blog, or my amazing boyfriend or really, much of anything. What have I done, really, to earn this? Most of my successes involve writing of some kind– something that has always come to me so easily– I was born this way, with this skill. I haven’t worked at it, or really done anything to develop it–it’s just always been there. So why should these successes be deserving of a celebration? Instead, I apologize for bringing it up, mentioning that I have an awesome talent and skill that I would love to share with people.

I wish I understood why I feel so guilty about enjoying things or asking things of others. Jake has never hesitated to give me a back-rub when I’ve been particularly hurty, but I always feel a twinge of guilt asking him. I know he’s more than willing and that he doesn’t mind, but in my head, I’ve decided that it must be a horrible inconvenience for him and he’s probably counting the days until he can dump me and find someone who doesn’t ask for back-rubs during movies all the time.

Stupid, right?

Duh.

I’m sorry.

^^ I just typed that without thinking. Literally. My instinct for sharing something about my life or the way I feel was automatically followed by an apology. It’s strange, looking at it objectively (well, objectively as I can). Sometimes writing on here kind of lays everything out and gives me some perspective.

I don’t know if this is one that I can nessessarily get a huge amount of perspective on, but I do know that it’s something I want to look in to. The first step, I suppose, is trying NOT to apologize all the time for things.

I don’t have an end for this one. Not yet. I don’t want to make any bold promises about a magical shift in attitude, nor do I want to act like everything is fixed.

Sometimes, I just like to type things out and see what happens.

Sorry.

 

 

Juicing…

I would like to begin by saying that I hate the term “juicing”.

It’s annoying. “Oh, are you ‘juicing?” “Did you juice today?” “What’s your juicing goal?” I don’t know, what’s your solid food goal?

Every time someone sees me drinking my (delicious) breakfast/lunch of homemade juice, I get asked about my “juicing lifestyle”.

I don’t have a juicing lifestyle. I just decided it was high time to start eating vegetables, and this seemed like the most practical way to do it.

I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and it was fantastic. I started looking into juicers that day, but it wasn’t a financial possibility until my wonderful boyfriend bought me a juicer for Christmas. We decided to start trying to eat a little healthier and get a little more exercise, but that was it.

I also did a ton of research before I plowed right in, because I didn’t want to wind up with more health problems than I started with. The problem is, it seems to me, that there is a lack of what I shall call “moderate” juicers, who enjoy a glass or two during the day, but don’t make it their life’s goal to subside solely on juice.

I learned early on that an “all or nothing” approach was not going to work for me. Why? One, because I lived for about 6 years in an eating disordered all-or-nothing mindset and it. doesn’t. work. Eventally, I became so fixated on what I wanted/couldn’t have because it’s was “going to make me fat” that about 4 foods were “safe” for me to eat. Sending myself down the same path of deprivation is a very simple thing to do, and the “juicing lifestyle’ promoted on the internet is one, that, I’m sure for some works wonderfully, but for me, it’s too easy to fall back into old habits.

I also just really like steak. Steak with crusted with garlic butter and parmesean cheese with a side of rosemary roasted potatoes. And as much as I love my veggie juice, carrot juice is not a medium rare steak fresh off of the grill.

Making healthy choices is distinctly different task for me. I still struggle to see any difference between moderation and deprivation: In reality, there is no such thing as a “bad” food, there are just foods that should be eaten less often and in smaller amounts. Sometimes foods! (I’m sure Big Macs and DoubleDowns could be listed as “bad foods”.) However, that is far easier said than practiced, especially with our busy schedules and after-rehearsal late-night dinners.

Do I feel better since I stated drinking juice? Yes!
Have I lost weight? Shit yeah.
Does it taste good? Actually, it’s really good. And I’m super picky.

Am I going to become one of those obnoxious youtubers trying to convert everyone I know to juice cleansing? No, because I’m not a hippie.

Do I consider myself as “juicing”? No, I consider myself as someone who is actively taking steps to better their own health one small choice at a time. But that takes longer to say.

Dear Cosmo –An Open Slam

Dear Cosmo

I’ve been having a little trouble recently, and I was hoping that you could help
to begin, see, my hair isn’t as long or as flowing as the models twixt your pages
and I couldn’t help but notice that Manic Panic Shocking Blue isn’t listed
on the hottest hair colors of the season, so I guess
I must be doing it wrong.
I read with great delight the 50 newest ways to please your man, and the funniest thing was
that nowhere did I see anything about being there for him when he’s sick, or helping him through the last level of Mario Brothers or showing any semblance of a personality, but I tried swirling my tounge
around the base of his penis,
and I guess he seemed to like it.
Next month I’m going to Washington DC
because I won a big deal scholarship
and I just don’t know what to wear–
Maybe you could help.
Exactly how much skin do I have to show to prove that I’m a woman?
How much cleavage do I need to cover in shimmer powder to prove that my words have power?
What shade of fingernail polish says “Pleased to meet you, Mr. President, it is an honor to be here today performing for you”?
I suppose “Magnetic Red” will have to do.
Last week, my boyfriend didn’t want to have sex with me, which, according to you,
means that either he’s depressed or I’ve gained weight recently
which I have, so I guess it’s all my fault.
See, I decided finally that it was better to gain a little weight and stop shoving my fingers down my throat after every meal
but I guess I can’t be happy
unless I look just like them, which is fine
except they’re so small
and my dreams are so big
that I don’t know if they’ll fit into a size 0.

Why I Dye My Hair Blue

There was a night last February that I very vividly remember. Jake and I were sitting on the couch and he was talking about an ex-girlfriend of his that had something called “Synesthesia”. I’d never heard of it. Jake went on to explain that his ex had this thing where she saw colors for different letters, like A is “red”, B is “green” or whatever….

I remember looking up at him and going “But that’s stupid—A is yellow”.

It was in that moment that my understanding of my perceptions on the world shifted forever.  Hours of research later, I have come to realize that some things that I take for granted in every day life are things that most other people don’t understand.

I have always attributed certain colors to certain letters, but more than that, different combinations of letters and words create different patterns of color in my mind.  A lot of people ask me why I read upside down. I am a FAST reader—but especially when I am reading something especially “vivid” (Shakespeare, for example, is just absolutely gorgeous—and the colors always work out. more on that later), I get so distracted by the colors that I get lost in what I’m reading….so I discovered that if I turn whatever I’m reading upside down, I am able to focus less on the colors and instead on the text. I’ve gotten really good at reading upside down–I can read about as fast as I do right side up, but it eliminates the distractions and makes me focus.

It turns out there are like a billion types of synesthesia—pretty much any sense can be “crossed” with another to create a synethestic response. I know that I have the color/letter one, but I also have the color/music kind…which is both awesome and supremely frustrating–if I could have one wish, it would be to be able to share the magnificent colors I experience behind my eyes with the people I love. Last year, for our first date, Jake took me to see the Chicago Symphony play the Rite of Spring. By the end, I was openly weeping–not just because of the music, but because of the incredible picture I got to witness inside of my head.

There are a few works that are particularly fantastic, but it makes sense. Beethoven’s 9th, for example—oh, man. But most scholars think that Beethoven himself probably had this, so I kind of like the idea of him writing music to look at something pretty. What is so awesome about synesthesia is that 100 different people with this will give you a 100 different versions of what the 9th symphony looks like behind their eyes–and they are all right. It’s completely random and always, always beautiful.

The problem is that I see sound most of the time–not just with music. With music it is much more pronounced, but, for example, at parties or in large groups, sometimes the noise and the color can be overwhelming. If a sound or piece of music is particularly powerful, I sometimes will get a “Feeling” with it as well–Lincolnshire Posy, for example—is this gorgeous, rich blue and it feels like the ocean.

I also get freaked out by large things—(insert joke here…done? okay. good)–they “feel” wrong. Things like wind turbines and water towers are terrifying to me.

A lot of people ask me why I dye my hair blue. I usually give them a stupid answer, but the truth is….I’ve figured out how to shade my hair into different shades of blue…and if you look at me from the front, my hair is my name in “synesthesia-ist”.