Yesterday, Anevay and I took a wonderful walk and then stopped at our neighborhood meat market (the amazing Marlow & Daughters) to pick up an impromptu dinner. We waited 25 minutes for the butcher to hack apart a sheep, and came home with some beautiful lambchops (holy SHIT did they taste good).
Anevay and I decided to share this sort of luxurious, slow meal at least once every other week. I know, that doesn't seem very often, but we're busy girls!! I feel lucky to have the time we do have.
After a strange many months of feeling somewhat sorry for myself, I've snapped out of it. Snapped, I suppose, isn't the right word, as my departure from depression was very conscious.
What was I upset about to begin with? I felt cursed- homeless, in a way. I no longer felt as though I belonged to NY- I was, except for freelance and the book, unemployed. I felt this pressure to be somewhere else- someone else. I watched married friends and wondered if I had missed my chances for happiness. I was down on myself for not yet having finished the book. I thought I was a loser for still needing roommates. I let myself get wrapped up with people who gave me next to nothing (despite me being there for them).
A couple of days ago, my attitude shifted. I wrote down the things that were troubling me, and saw that they're not as bad as I had thought. I've had a year to devote to my kid, to my writing, to figuring out what's important. I've come up with answers. I know exactly what I want. A year ago I wasn't so sure.
I start a three-month full-time gig on Monday. Not my dream job, but not a bad job, either. I'm hoping it leads to other situations. I've been told the prospects of this happening are good.
I am nearly done with the book. I know I will finish it. I am excited to have other projects in various states of completion, ready to work on when I've passed along the book for the final time. I'm entering chapters into various contests. Two days ago I made out a time table for when everything needs to be sent off. It felt good.
I examined the relationships around me, and realized that most of them aren't my cup of tea. I'm pretty independent. I can't deal with the bitchy words many couples share. Seeing it happen grates on me- I feel embarrassed when occasionally I see friends fall into this behavior. Lately, I was acting slightly like this- not in a relationship, but in a friendship that had become complicated. I had been hurt by this friend, you see, and instead of giving myself space from the situation and then taking control of it, I let myself get so wrapped up in it that I made myself miserable. I've since removed the complications, and, voila, I'm not feeling weird or bitchy at all. I'm feeling like... myself.
Today, I count my blessings. I have two amazing roommates- they care for me and my kid- it is clear. I have a beautiful family. I'm not homeless. The things that were making me think this thought are out of my control, so I need to let them go. I have a home. I AM my home. My body, as they say, is a temple. I will treat it as such. And my mind is a gift. I will love it- I will cherish the freedom I feel when I use my imagination. Sartre once said, "you are condemned to freedom." Ha!
On Saturday Anevay, Clare and I went to the Farmers Market and picked up a beautiful array of vegetables- I then went to Marlow and Daughters and bought a couple of chickens. I spent the afternoon making chicken stock, roast chicken, stuffed acorn squash, and, on Sunday morning, polenta with maple syrup and marscapone cheese.
Heaven. What a wonderful way to relax...
Portabella Stuffed Acorn Squash
For the stuffing:
24 ounces multigrain bread, cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium portabella mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 1/2 teaspoon herbs/spices of your choice (I used thyme, rosemary, celery salt and cumin)
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1 cup water or veg broth (I used some of the chicken stock I had made... even better!)
1/2 teaspoon blk pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used course)
1. Dry bread on cookie sheet for 20-30 min, uncovered, at 250
2. Heat olive oil/butter in large saute pan. Add carrots, celery and onion, saute over med heat for 3 min, until lightly caramelized. Add mushrooms, pecans and herbs/spices, continue to saute for 2 min. Add parsley and transfer to large mixing bowl, then add bread-cubes, and mix well with water/broth. Let sit for 30 min until bread absorbs all liquid and stuffing appears fluffy. Season with salt/pepper. Set aside.
For the squash:
4 med acorn squash, halved, with seeds removed (save seeds, as I did, for roasting!!)
1 cup water
1/4 cup OJ
2 or 3 teaspoons tamari
1 tablespoon honey
juice of a lemon
1. Preheat oven to 375. Place squash halves cut-side down on cookie sheet lined with foil. Add 1/2 cup or so of water and bake for 50 minutes, until nearly tender.
2. Combine OJ, tamari, honey, lemon juice and pepper. Mix well and set aside. Place squash cavity-side-up in a roasting pan. Brush generously with the glaze. Fill cavity of each squash with stuffing- really pack it in there!
3. Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan and bake for 30 min, until squash is lightly browned and stuffing is thoroughly heated.
HOLY CRAP is this squash good... ENJOY!
Rinse under cold water extremely well. Mix with a bit of olive oil, curry powder, cumin, pepper, course salt, and bake at 350 until you hear them gently pop. I tend to leave them a few minutes longer, as I like them to be a little burned...
Oh, if anyone is interested in my chicken stock recipe, let me know... It's a little more time intensive than the recipes above, which is why I didn't include it.
Last night was awesome. Evy invited me to her place for a BYOP (Bring Your Own Pumpkin) party, and I had so much fun. I needed a great night... Today, I feel like myself again- powerful and wonderful and ready to take on the world.
(In case you're curious, Anevay and I carved the spider pumpkin... You can't really tell from the picture, but I also carved a man with a moustache. Tis the season for facial hair!)
This has been one of the hardest years of my life. Navigating the unemployment system, making ends meet, working my fingers to the bone to complete various projects, and finally finding work (a three-month gig, but it's a good one). In addition, I lost a good friend a few months ago, have been dealing with some heavy personal stuff that goes back many years, and, most recently, am in the process of feeling quite a lot of heartache, caused by the irresponsible and thoughtless actions of one of my nearest and dearest. Today, contrary to my busy and productive nature, I stayed in bed all day, exhausted by life- quite forlorn and despondent. Attractive, I know. If someone else were writing such pitiful sentences, I'd be liable to groan.
But just when I'm at my worst, life has a way of treating me to a moment of joy...
Those of you closest to me have probably visited my home for dinner or brunch, and have noticed the beautiful lithograph on my wall by artist Emmi Whitehorse. I looked at it every morning- it gave me a great sense of balance, and in my eyes, it really symbolized the birth of my daughter and then my move to New York. More than that, it symbolized freedom, my abilities to prevail, to deal with unwarrented abuse, and to love. The piece meant a great deal. It was with a heavy heart I sold it recently to a dear friend. I was beyond hard-up... I needed a lifeline. Last weekend I delivered the piece to my friend and installed it for her. I'd post a picture of what it looks like, but I'm feeling a little too sensitive right now to look through the pictures. Soon... The only thing that made me happy about selling the print was that my friend will get joy out of it.
But tonight, something happened...
I checked my email, and found waiting an email from Emmi Whitehors, offering a print that she had made to benefit the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Her husband had set up a Google alert for Emmi's name so help track exhibitions and such. This is how they happened upon my blog.
Here's what the print looks like, taken from a work called 'Morning Song'.
I can't tell you how touched I am. It makes me want to send Emmi something. One of the art works I've made, perhaps? A little special something? Just a simple thank you card? It was hard to express to her via email just how much her print has meant to be each day for the last eight years. The print she is sending me will by no means replace the loss of my print, 'Drift', but restores at least a small portion of my faith in humanity- something I so desperately needed right now.
It's strange, to be so heart-sick and yet so thankful.
Well, people, last weekend it was finally time to bid adieu to my Emmi Whitehorse print. I cried for the week prior to taking it out of my house, but am happy that it's now hanging on the wall of a dear friend. Perhaps I'll have it on my wall again at some point in the future. I hope so, as the piece means a great deal to me. I never thought I'd see it gone, but this was a tough summer, and I needed to let go of some of my things. Sigh. No one said being a single mom in NY sans child support would be easy, especially after being laid off from a job. But life has a funny way of moving forward.
Things have been looking up. The beginning of November I start a three-month job- and other opportunities have been surfacing. I realized lately that I was quite depressed this past year (in a not so obvious way to outsiders, perhaps, but depressed none-the-less), and am taking the next couple of weeks to get things together before starting the position. I'm still diligently looking for full-time perm work, but I'm so thankful for this upcoming opportunity. I'm also FINALLY working to finish my book. Finally, I'm totally overhauling my loft. I've taken the last two days to clean out closets and my room, and am going to tackle Anevay's room. My place was a disaster this past year (yes, I wrote year). Cleaning seemed impossible with everything else going on. Now I'm feeling orderly once again, and want my environment to reflect this. I have a lot of work left to accomplish.
Anyway, even though my life is slowly coming together, my Emmi Whitehorse print is still gone. I find myself looking at all sorts of pretty things on-line- today artist Bovey Lee send me info about a limited edition paper cut-out she's made...
Her work is amazing, but usually pretty pricey- if you have a little extra, I would highly advise you to purchase one of her more affordable, $500 cut-outs. It would be a great investment- she's a great artist, up-and-coming, with beautiful work. Check out Bovey Lee's website for more info.
I am SO getting this book. Now that autumn is full-on, I've dragged my knitting bags out, and have various projects left from last winter that I'm trying to finish. I think this book will make me add a new one...
Not only does the book have fabulously fun patterns, but the website has a list of free patterns! Yep, FREE! If you're over knitting scarfs for everyone in your family, how about a tassled G-string?
Click here to read Ian's touching liner notes and listen to an AWESOME 'mixtape'. My kid had a sleepover last night, and this morning the three of us are dancing around to great tunes such as The Miracles 'I Like it Like That', Shirley Collins 'The Clapping Song', Rufus Thomas' 'Turn Your Damper Down', and Archie Bell's 'Tighten Up'.
(insert happy sigh, here)
By the way- Carlos used to volunteer at a program Ian used to head. The program helps to send legal info to prisoners. Perhaps you might be interested in checking out the website, and volunteering some of your time to helping with a program Carlos held dear?
I am Melissa Banigan. I've been many things under the sun, but am currently a single mom raising an amazing kid in Brooklyn, writing novels and short stories, and working on some art (canvases and paper). I also, under the moniker melifera, produce off-the-cusp embroidered clothing and bags.