emotions

My first instinct when I start to experience a strong emotion is to self-police: “You aren’t allowed to cry because of this tribute performance – you barely knew the guy.” or “Why are you imagining a possible future with this person? You aren’t even dating.” or “Stop waxing poetic about going to grad school; you have no idea what you’re doing and the probability of failure is high.”

I’m not the only person who does this knee-jerk negation. Maybe’s it’s some sort of defense mechanism: “Don’t get too excited because then it won’t hurt as badly when it all goes wrong,” or “Stop crying about this because if someone sees you they’ll think less of you.”

I’m equally sure I’m not the only person to apologize for having these emotions in the presence of another person. In fact, my closest female friends do it to me all the time. “Thanks for listening to my ridiculousness” or “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to get so serious” or “Sorry I’m so emotional right now” or “lol sorry I got a little over-excited.”

When I started writing this post I had a point. Which is probably that it might do us all good to be a little more open with our emotions and allow ourselves to experience them. To be a safe space when our friends are grappling with their own feelings and need to share and be supported. To not tell ourselves, “You aren’t allowed to feel this way” for whatever reason.  To be supportive of your own damn self. I certainly need to learn it. Because I’m writing this post instead of texting, “Sorry I started crying at the show,” to my friend, which is what I almost did. I am trying to figure out what I actually want to say to him. Probably, “Thanks for inviting me to that show. It was a lot more moving than I’d expected it to be, even before the tribute. Sorry that the mood I was in afterwards wasn’t conducive to socializing further.” Then I’m not apologizing for having the emotion, but for the fact that I bailed like someone who was pretty sure she was going to cry some more and wanted to do it in private instead.

The Impossible Task of Talking to “Good Guys”

I went to a Halloween party on Saturday night and spent a large chunk of the hours from roughly 12-4 am Sunday discussing gender issues (sticking firmly to my views and trying to educate) with a group of men around my age. It was sort of enlightening, because these were all men who saw themselves as “good guys,” men who have heard some of the stuff floating around their lives and on the internet about consent and about some of the sexism that women face, and they pretty much believed that they weren’t the culprits and therefore this didn’t really have anything to do with them.

I think I taught them that they’re wrong. But I was also tipsy verging on 4am so maybe I wasn’t as clear as I’d meant to be. I know I shouted at one point after a demonstration (groping the breast of a female volunteer), “She JUST SAID NO THREE TIMES!” after one of them said, “She can still say ‘No’ at this point.” They clearly hadn’t considered the “blurry lines” of consent, namely that somebody doesn’t have to say the word, “No” or “Stop” to communicate that they aren’t interested in some or all of what’s going on. Of course at that point we also had to have a sidebar to discuss the fact that they aren’t that kind of guy and that I was talking to the wrong people about this and it made me really sad that they misunderstood so badly, and our hostess pointed out the simple idea that every woman in the room has been taught what precautions to take not to get raped, but who has taught the guys not to rape – which made them cranky and all “not all men” again. Then later one basically said that if you’re dating people on Tinder and you get raped it’s your own fault for not taking proper precautions (clearly having missed our hostess’ point.) I told them that mine was a friend of a friend (and chose not to mention he was also a Tinder date, that we didn’t meet through that friend) and they got a little uncomfortable and, “Oh, sorry that happened to you.”

This was a party. A drunken Halloween party. Yet I actually had a really wonderful time and am glad that I spent several hours having this type of conversation because it was so much better than awkward small talk. But I’m sure that none of them understood that so far every bi- or hetero- woman I’ve asked has a “and then I had sex with him even though I didn’t really want to, because it was easier than getting out of it at that point.” (Non-relevant: one of the guys, the one who disagreed with me the most and was therefore the most interesting to talk to, claimed that woman-on-woman rape was the most common and we called “show me that data” on him.) I strongly believe that this happens because so many people believe that, “No means no,” but anything up until, “No, I don’t want to have sex with you and I’m leaving now” means, “I might still want to have sex with you.”

*Note: when I say “have sex” I really mean “participate in sexual activities” with. I define sex when I’m talking about it like this as any sexual act, not necessarily as PiV sex.

Bodies and Femininity

I made an appointment with my gynecologist today. I’m two months overdue for my yearly exam. This is better than being a year overdue for my annual, which I have definitely done in the past. I’m a sexually active 28-year-old woman with an IUD implanted above my cervix – I should NOT be skipping my annual.

I find it really true that your body is an ecosystem where things effect each other.

I have acid reflux. I’ve noticed bad acid days are also bad asthma days. I’ve also noticed that depression and asthma correlate. (My asthma specialist told me once that regular vitamin D should help my asthma overall and vitamin D deficiency has also been found a corollary with depression.) If I eat corn I feel over-full and have trouble breathing. Every time I’ve been on birth control pills my stomach issues increase and so does my likelihood of depression. My asthma medication increases my acid reflux issues significantly.

I have been getting my “period” more heavily and regularly in the last few months than I had previously. I think I may be past the expiration date of my IUD but am not sure. Anyway this cycle I started having serious stomach and breathing issues. I haven’t really been eating for about 5 days now. I have been making fresh kale/spinach/apple/lemon juice and drinking that for fuel.

It’s amazing how much a person can ignore their own body and the messages it sends. If you’re at the point where you basically can’t eat anything, that’s way beyond a warning sign. I’m not sure why I ignore whatever is going on with my body instead of going to the doctor to check stuff out. Even though it’s terrifying to learn about friends who are getting MRIs and other diagnostic exams to search for the elusive cause for whatever is ailing them, I want my friends to know what’s wrong because if they know, they can fix it or ameliorate it or learn to cope properly. It’s better to know. So thank you, friends, for taking care of yourselves and listening to what your body is saying.

Door to Discomfort

There’s a man I know, a former co-worker, who has a small child with his wife. He posted on FB requesting a babysitter for tomorrow night. My first reaction was, “Can I do that? I can babysit!” immediately followed by this sinking realization that I cannot babysit for this man.

I was relieved when I moved to NY and wasn’t in the same state as him, so that when he said uncomfortable sexual things there was no chance I’d have to see him at work. This is a man that I’m not interested in, not at all. He seems to know that but he keeps up semi-random contact and in my experience they only do that when they want to develop a rapport in which they can possibly make additional sexual comments and then suggest that you sext or do something in real life. I wish I weren’t so jaded.

If I babysit his child, I put myself in his home and become available to him in a way I’m not comfortable with, knowing what his interest in me includes. I’m afraid to even wish him a happy birthday. And it’s not necessarily to do with what he has said and done, but with what I’m concerned he might do or say.

There have been real conversations about mutual interests and work and such. But there have also been conversations like this:

einstein tits conversation

If he really feels that it never hurts to try even though I’ve told him I’m not interested, and even though we have conversations like this where I gently reject him, I just have some concerns that I might end up in a conversation where I can’t just deflect him.

I wish this weren’t an issue. I wish we could be friends and I could babysit his adorable kid. But I’ve been burned before. There’s a man in my life who I’ve known for probably 6 years now. We sometimes have great conversations. But usually when he starts up a conversation out of nowhere, it’s because he’s horny or he’s going to be in my area of town and wants to lead into, “Hey, want to hook up?” No.

The worst part is that I really like both these men. I really would like to be their friend but I can’t be just that. There’s always this little push they have to do. There’s always this concern that the conversation is going to take a turn into a place where I don’t want to be. Some people would say, just be clear about it and end their advances. Those people have clearly never been women pursued by somebody they genuinely like but aren’t interested in. I have been SO CLEAR in the past with a man that I was done. And he reached out again and again anyway. This is the same instinct that makes men continue to try and get up under your shirt or convince you that you want sex even after you’ve rebuffed them more than once.

And you know what? Their persistence pays off. Because we give in. Because at some point the constant rebuffing gets tiring, or they catch us in a moment of weakness. And that one moment teaches them that everything else we ever did or said is meaningless and clearly we lied or changed our minds and every moment from now on where we try to rebuff them again gets set against that one moment in which we failed.

So I can’t babysit his child.

Dehydrated Creamy Cashew Sauce

It sounds SO GROSS when you say it like that. Haha.

So a vegan diet staple is raw cashews, soaked in water, then pulverized into something similar in consistency to Alfredo sauce. There are different spices, etc you can add to give it different flavors, but basically it’s cashew mush. (I’m doing a great job of making this sound appetizing, aren’t I?)

The thing is, I made this one that’s from a Vegan Green Chile Mac and Cheese recipe and it’s actually really delicious.

Okay, actually I changed the recipe a bit for my purposes. Also yes, I know that technically green chiles are a nightshade but I figure if I use one can of them over like 8 servings it’s probably little enough not to bother me. I hope.

Ingredients (doubled and adjusted from original recipe)
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4-6 hours or overnight, then drained
  • 1 cup water (more if necessary)
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 TBSP salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 4-5 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1 4-oz can diced green chiles

Instructions

  1. Sweat onion and garlic in coconut oil until tender.
  2. Pour half the cashews, 1/2 cup H2O, half the green chiles, nutritional yeast, and ALL the spices (including salt and pepper to taste) into your food processor and turn it on. Add more water if it’s more “nut butter” than “creamy” consistency. Let it run for a while (because you don’t want any chunks). Taste it. Remember that all your spices are in this half so if it’s not over-spiced and too salty, add more. (You’re going to combine it all at the end – if I didn’t put all the spices in the first half, I’d forget completely. If you want to split the spices between food processor batches, be my guest.)
  3. Put your non-stick dehydrator sheets onto your dehydrator trays.* I found that this recipe spread out nicely onto 4 trays. Split this first batch of sauce evenly onto two trays and spread it into a thin, even layer using a spatula. Go ahead and pop these into the dehydrator while you blend batch #2.
  4. Pour the other half of your cashews, 1/2 cup H2O, and the rest of the green chiles into the food processor and run it until smooth. Repeat the process of spreading it onto two more dehydrator trays.
  5. Pop them into the dehydrator and run it at ~135*F for about 8 hours. It should be brittle and not at all sticky when finished.
  6. Wash your food processor and leave it to dry while your sauce is drying.
  7. After 8 hours, pull your dehydrated sauce off the trays and pulse in the food processor until roughly the texture of graham cracker crumbs. I recommend doing this in 2 batches like you did when it was liquid.                                    
  8. Mix all the crumbs together in a bowl or ziplock (to evenly distribute the flavors) and then portion out into quart-size Ziplock freezer bags (don’t buy bargain brand!) with your noodles. You want about 3 oz of noodles (something thin that will cook quickly) and 2 oz of sauce crumbs (ew, gross) in each portion. I also added about 1 oz of dried broccoli.

Rehydrating Instructions

Heat 1 1/2 cups of water to boiling. Pour into the ziplock, close bag, and place inside your bag koozie. This one takes 10-15 minutes to rehydrate with the quinoa fettuccine noodles I used.

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It rehydrates nicely though the sauce turned out to be a little more bland than I’d hoped. Next time I’m going to increase the spices and salt when I make the sauce, and add a little corn starch to help it thicken.

*Note: I have a 5-tray Excalibur dehydrator. It’s huge. If yours is smaller you might have to dehydrate in batches.

Cats and Compliments

This feels like a completely insane thing but I think a lot about my hypothetical future children and I have this fear about warping their sense of self-worth through phrases that are built into my vocabulary and which I don’t even realize I’m using.

The thing is that I have two cats. They’re both girls. I say the following things on a regular basis:

  • Who’s the prettiest? You’re my pretty girl.
  • Are you a good girl?

WHY DO I ASK MY CATS IF THEY’RE GOOD GIRLS!? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ABOUT!? And more importantly… am I going to tell my hypothetical future daughters to be “good” girls? Because being “good” or “well-behaved” or “polite” or other synonyms for the same concept is pretty much the highest compliment our society can pay a girl and that’s really not okay with me and also something that I want every woman I know to fight against those tendencies.

Add to that my desire to tell the girls that they’re pretty (though if we’re honest I also tell my mom’s male cats that they’re pretty) and I have serious concerns about what’s going on in my brain. If I can say things like that unconsciously, as a feminist and as somebody who really doesn’t believe that a woman’s best qualities are her beauty and compliance, then what chance do our girls have in a society that’s always telling them these things in earnest, both through subconscious messaging and also through the literal use of those words and phrases?

So I’ve made a pact with myself to stop it. Quit saying those phrases. Call myself out on it when I do. Whether it’s to my cats or to other people’s children. Will you do it with me?

Change of Plans – No PCT 2016

PLP (Platonic Life Partner) found out today that the Navy is going to hold onto her for a little longer than expected, so we’re not able to embark on the PCT in April.

She suggested we could do a section and I countered with this: What if we save the PCT and do the whole thing some other year? Why don’t we do a big section of the AT instead, because that’s a trail better suited to section-hiking and one I was planning to hike in sections anyway.

Naturally this big change happened literally the day after my blog post announcing to the world that I’m doing the PCT this year.

So, new plan: in June/July, we’re going to do a large AT section. Or maybe several different AT sections. Who knows? We haven’t started planning yet.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 10.24.56 AM

I love this part! I’m sitting here with my Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker’s Companion guide, published by the ALDHA and which is similar to Yogi’s PCT Guide but is organized more like a Frommer’s. I’m looking forward to choosing what sections we do, and we’re thinking we’ll probably do the more northern parts. If we do some in NY I’m hoping my NYC Hammockers might join us for a section!

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