From Left to Write.
The first of those two book was a debut novel by Chris Pavone, called the Expats. The book is pretty good - an intriguing read, well-written, full of plot twists. This post isn't to review the book, though. As part of the book club each of the members writes a post about something inspired by the book.
I was instantly in love with the idea that the main characters could pick up their lives and family and reroot themselves somewhere else. I know plenty of people, given the choice, that would stay right where they are, or not go very far, to raise their kids. My husband and I are exactly the opposite - what could be more fun and adventurous than experiencing the world with our kids?
As Americans, a long weekend trip for us can still find us in the United States. Certainly a quick one does. The advantage of living abroad is that a quick trip for the weekend can take you somewhere completely different from whatever your 'everyday' is - and as a complete history nerd I love that idea. I get all kinds of excited just thinking about all the places we could go!
Before my xenophobic friends get upset - yes, I know I can do that here. But there's something enticingly adventurous about doing it abroad ;)
This post was inspired by mystery thriller novel The Expats by Chris Pavone. Kate Moore sheds happily sheds her old life become a stay at home mom when her husband takes a job in Europe. As she attempts to reinvent herself, she ends up chasing her evasive husband's secrets. Join From Left to Write on January 22 as we discuss The Expats. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
I flew back to the East Coast from LAX on Sunday, and it was less than fun. My first flight had mechanical problems (the air system was pumping 144℉ air into the plane, and fixing of it was going to cause me to move my connector home. So they sweetly pulled me from the flight (instead of making me spend the night in Cleveland), and moved me to another one. Except by the time the gate agent sorted the second flight and packed me off to the gate, I missed the gate change announcement and therefore missed the flight. An hour later, after one of the worst panic attacks I've ever had, it was all sorted, and I had a direct flight to Dulles (which would then be accompanied by a 4 1/2 hour drive home). I won't even get into how lost my luggage is.
If you know me even a little, you know I'm a control freak. I can handle chaos, as long as I have some teensy measure of control to put on it. Doesn't matter what it is - just some small area I can affect change. But standing all alone, so far from home, with no one to help solve the problem of how to get home....that sent me over the edge. The problem with panic attacks is that they can come from nowhere, and even if you take all necessary steps to prevent them they will roll right over you if they want.
So picture me, insisting to a total stranger that I just need her to find a flight home, and I'll be fine. Except I can't get the words out, because I can't breathe. Nor could I stand, because things were getting spinny - so I sat. Right there on the floor, at the help desk, lol. It made sense at the time. And when I insisted I didn't need the damn paramedics, they came and respectfully stayed away, until I was calm enough to move. Then they checked to make sure I didn't want the oxygen they thought I needed. Seriously? Paramedics? No thanks. But they walked me to a fairly quiet corner where I sat for almost an hour, until I felt like I could get up and go with the super sweet gate agent who made sure I found the right gate home.
In the end the third scheduled flight of the day brought me home (or close to it), hours later than intended. And it left me with plenty of time to think about how much panic attacks suck. I'm pretty sure the flight staff was alerted to the fact that I might break (and already had once), because they were beyond nice to me. But really - it is so awful to feel out of control, and helpless. Awful doesn't even begin to cover it. For every single thing to be beyond my ability to fix is frightening. And it's like I step outside of myself, and watch it all fall apart. I can rationally understand what to do to make it better, but that massive wall of crazy won't let the rational mind take over. Hence, helpless - can't breathe, can't think, can't speak...just terrified.
The after effects are horrible. I feel like I've been twelve rounds with a prize fighter (and got my ass handed to me). Every muscle in my body is screaming at me, my chest hurts from trying to get air that wouldn't come, and under my eyes looks rather bruised. 48 hours later, and I've definitely got a face only my husband and kids can love, lol.
At the time, the whole episode seemed unsurvivable. Because that's what panic attacks are for me - sheer terror. Looking back, it was an epic fail on my part. But at least when (and it's definitely a when, not an if) the situation happens again, it won't be so unfamiliar, and the cliff I feel like I'm falling off of will seem a bit closer to the ground.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Here in the US, it's Thanksgiving today. And every day I'm grateful for the countless people in my life who pick me up and help me keep going, who are brave when I cannot be, and who love me more than I deserve. I am constantly in awe of the people I love - both friends and family - because they love me back. Fiercely. And there are no words to tell them how very much they mean to me, today and every day.
So, in that spirit, here's my quick list of people and things I'm thankful for. And if I leave you of of here inadvertently....I'm sorry.
- My beloved husband - I know you know. So I won't even say it.
- My darling children - the rightest things I have ever done. I try every day to be everything you deserve in this world, and you make mine infinitely better just be being in it.
- My parents (all of them) - thanks, for always being there, whether I wanted you to be or not. I get that kids take their parents for granted, and now that I'm a grown up I appreciate beyond words every sleepless night and sacrifice you've ever made for me. I hope I've finally made you proud. Thanks for believing in me.
- My siblings - my baby bro (who became a Dad this year), and my beautiful sisters-in-law...could I ask for a better family? Thank you for sharing your amazing children with me!
- My darling grandmother - for being a saint on Earth
- My Pondie girls - whatever would I do without you? I think we've reached the point where I can't remember you NOT being part of my life. And when I've been a crap friend, you always wait patiently until I'm ready to hear it - then you pounce! Everyone should have a group of people in their lives like you.
- My dear Kate - for reminding me that I do know who I am, and that there is a backbone in there. You have brought so much joy to my life, and I'm so glad we're friends.
- My fabulous boss - you just make my days good :)
- My crafty friends and followers - you all inspire me in unimaginable ways, and push me to be better than I am. I'm where I am today because of your support. And I thank you for sharing your creativity with me.
- My job - what can I say? I get to do what I love, and that is beyond amazing.
- My books - I love the way they just sort of pile up, waiting to teach me something.
- My iPhone (with its fabulous Tardis phone case) - don't laugh.
- My Ron Swanson bobblehead - someone has to keep me on track all day long!
I hope you, your friends, and your families have a wonderful holiday together!
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Sunday, November 18, 2012
I love chickpeas. More than is probably normal. I also have a love of jalapeños, so when hubs decided recently to combine those two things for me, I was a very happy camper. Here's what he did (I sat on the kitchen island and watched, and drank a beer - I was on "moral support" duty!):
We started with one of our favorite recipes one of our favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. We pretty much love everything Mark Bittman has ever written or cooked; this book is an essential for your shelf (even if you aren't a vegetarian, I promise). Equally fab is his How to Cook Everything - we've never made anything from either volume that hasn't surpassed our expectations. But I digress...back to the Roasted Chickpeas.
What You Need (For this version, pictured above):
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (any neutral oil will work - we always go with evoo, though)
- 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained until dry (*serious tip: we always, always, use cooked ones - they have SO much more flavor when you start with dry chickpeas and cook them. We always have them in the fridge. Just do it - it isn't hard)
- 1/4 cup lightly sauteed sliced jalapeños (NOT pickled, if you want them spiciest. Just slice a jalapeño and cook it in oil until slightly soft. Ours happened to be leftover from a triple jalapeño pizza - I collected all the ones that fell off as we ate it, lol!)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (or more, to taste - we like more, so we add a few cloves of garlic....and get a head of garlic, and mince the cloves yourself. Don't cheat and use the jarred stuff!)
- Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cumin
What To Do:
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. In an ovenproof pan or skillet large enough to hold the chickpeas in one layer (we use a 12" skillet), add the oil and put on stove over medium heat. Once it's hot, add chickpeas, jalapeños, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin. Make sure all the chickpeas are well coated.
- Put the skillet in the oven and roast, until the chickpeas start to brown (about 20 minutes, for extra crispy ones). At five minute intervals, remove the skillet and shake it a bit, to keep them coated.
- Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper, and serve hot (they're also good at room temperature).
We often eat this over rice, but it's good by itself (as pictured above). And remember how I said I was sitting on the counter, providing moral support? I *told* my husband to remember that the handle of the pan was crazy hot, and he was all "Yeah yeah, I'm not dumb". And then he promptly tried to pick it up, and burned his hand. He's smart, though, and managed to NOT drop my beloved roasted chickpeas. Good boy ;)