Saturday, January 30, 2010

Salad Days

Holly and Skipper, c. 1993, Cincinnati
Photoshopping c. 2001
Water balloons are not edited. Nor is the pig doormat.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Don't Call Me

Dear Mr. Technology,

You rock my world. Daily. I love knowing that I can pretend to understand a conversation 'round the watercooler, run back to my desk, Wikipedia the mystery reference and make an "informed" comment the next time I swing by. This is a fabulous convenience: I feel cool.

I also love, Mr. Techie, the way my iPhone gives me instantaneous answers about my bus's whereabouts (downtown, three minutes delayed) and reminders for family birthdays. I couldn't do without these luxuries now that I'm so painfully spoiled. You get me, Techie, you really do.

But Tech, there has been a price for all this luxury. Mostly, I have become That Girl Who Doesn't Get Back to People. It's been a long time coming. People usually expect me to delay in responding to emails, answering friend requests, replying to messages, commenting in return on a blog, texting back my weekend plans, and on and on. BUT WAIT A MINUTE. What is wrong with this picture? There are ten, TEN ways that people can reach me these days.

And ten is way too many. You have created a monster, Techno Man. Home phone, cell phone, text, Gmail, G-chat, Facebook: messages, walls and chat, work email, and work phone. How am I supposed to sustain that kind of communication? WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT? I know I'm not the only one. But I am just not interesting in juggle all of this anymore.

So, Mr. T, I am waving my white flag. You win. I admit defeat. I'm not the girl who can be counted on when it comes to answering the call of duty. If people want to reach me, they can come and knock on my frickin' door. The rat race of "reply all" is ending today. The reply time guilt is whooshing down the drain as we speak. I know you'll try and woo me back. I'll continue to suffer the silent judgment of the Quick Replyers, but you will know who has my heart: Mr. Doorbell.


Holly Elizabeth

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lighter Notes

The summer we got married, Dustin and I had obscene amounts of free time. Being a teacher does come with that perk, and I was just unemployed. At that point, it was still fun not having a job.

We decided to start a little video podcast with reviews of restaurants we'd venture off to, and although we only made it through a handful of episodes, I still like to watch them. Partly because I am vain and need to know what I look like when I talk (freakish amounts of white around the eyes, fyi). Partly because I like to see how much we've changed in the short time we've been doing this marriage thing. It's incredible how much more I know about this person, even when I was sure I knew it all. I knew nothing of Dustin's sink disposal phobias. Nothing of his need to sleep with elbows up, ready to accidentally knock my lights out. Nothing of his willingness to do my laundry. Every. Week.

The links to our little show are here at our old wedding website--hopefully they'll lead you to some fun Seattle haunts and steer you clear of the lame spots. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Could Get Awkward

Okay. Like I said, this could get awkward. I'm already awkward in this first paragraph. But I need to get this off my chest.

Why does everyone feel so uncomfortable talking about mental illness?

For example, there are entire websites that exist for the sole purpose of following cancer diagnoses. And gobs of people read them. They keep family and friends informed of the good news, the sad news, and how to help in between. And they're an incredible tool, I'm a huge fan. But never do people subscribe to blog updates when brothers and mothers and fathers and friends are delusional, psychotic, dangerous to themselves, falling apart. Nevernevernever does some company put a ribbon on a water bottle to support schizophrenia research.

It makes me really sad to know that someone in my life suffers from this hideous disease and is also subjected to so much judgment and misunderstanding. It is just not fair. I want a Fun Run. I want to hear Bill Gates announce a billion dollars in funding. I want to salute a Peace Prize winner who unlocks the key to relief for my loved one.

One way I'm trying to advocate for the mentally ill is to pay attention to my language. We have gotten really good at using inclusive, respectful language in so many circumstances, but the way people throw around terms like... nutcase, wacko, psycho,'s cruel. I have listened to my sweet brother sob because the pain of being ostracized for his illness was infinitely more miserable than his hallucinations, his paranoia. For the record, that was shitty.

As I've learned more about mental illness, and schizophrenia especially, I'm realizing that nobody is going to change attitudes, shift judgment, unless people who have suffered tell their stories. My brother cannot tell his story right now, so I'm here in his place. Telling his story, in all my awkward glory. Without his permission, abandoning my sense of ethical blogging for the sake of following my gut.

I may never write about this again, but I just needed to say, "WE ARE HERE. There are people here who are in pain, who are in pain and who deserve compassion, just like anybody else who is sick and suffering." Thanks for humoring me. And stop calling your neighbors "nut jobs."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Breaking Ground

Learning to cook Thai and Indian food (like they can be lumped together so casually, ha) is one of my top to-dos this year. Last night Kelsey came over and we tackled Thai Coconut Chicken Soup together. I have to say, it was so tasty, the entire pot is gone, less than twelve hours later. We started with the idea from The Williams Sonoma Cookbook, which my dad got me for Christmas, but since we were missing an ingredient or two, the recipe became a little more our own. Unfortunately, there was no time to stop for a picture between bowls, so you'll have to settle for the happy yellow lining of my soup pot.

Harder to find ingredients always held me back from trying Thai cooking before, since I'm not usually the plan-what's-for-dinner-type. But we finally went looking for lemongrass and all the other fixings (which turned out to be rather normal, actually), and the result was utterly worthwhile. Hopefully you'll have time to try this one soon!

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
*serves about six*

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced very thinly
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
1 quart chicken stock
2 cans light unsweetened coconut milk (believe me, it's plenty rich)
1 stalk lemongrass (peel off the top layers, chop it in three inch bits, then plan to fish it back out)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 limes, juiced
1 package Trade Joe's rice noodles
Ginger, about six thin slices (peel it, as the skin comes off in cooking even if you skim it out)
Cilantro and basil, just for a fun little herb garnish
1 cup mixed veggies, such as carrot, spinach and/or mushrooms

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot and cook the chicken strips in batches, just a minute or so on each side. Place cooked chicken on a plate close by. Once the chicken has been cooked, add the chicken stock to the pot and scrape up the yummy bits, then add the coconut milk, ginger, a clove of garlic, the jalapeno (however much you can handle, a whole pepper makes it nice and hot), fish sauce, curry powder, turmeric, and the lime juice. Simmer for a little while the flavors get friendly. Add the carrots now, if that's your thing.

Return the cooked chicken to the pot, and add the rice noodles. Simmer some more while those noodles get soft, and taste as you go (with a clean spoon, duh) to make sure you have the flavors right.

Serve in big bowls with big spoons. Cilantro and basil are fun on top. It's comfort food without the gravy. Enjoy! :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Legacy Leaver

Holly is becoming nothing more than a glorified list-maker, you say. Well, you are right. But I will plunge onward. Substance by damned!

Behold! Helpful Tips from around the House, Volume 1/Generic Post Titles Volume 300:

1. Before opening a can of ______, wipe the dust off the top by swirling the can on your back pocket. When I was about twelve, I asked my mom why she always "buttdusts", and she was bewildered. This doesn't happen to my mom. Then she told me my grandma used to do the same thing, and that it is probably genetic. But anyway, try this. No more lint in your black beans.
2. Ironing is for the birds. Or chumps. Or people who actually have an ironing board. Here at our house, we throw a wet washcloth in the dryer with our wrinkly apparel and look spiffed up in no time. Five minutes is all it takes!
3. Stuffed up? Feeling crappy? Stand over the bathroom sink with a beach towel over your head, blast the hot water, and pretend you're having a spa experience. I'm telling you, the Group Health Nurse Hotline saved me with this one on Christmas morning.
4. Buy enough underwear (and clothes) so that laundry needs not be done more than twice a month, if that. It's the lap of luxury. Be sure to make space in your closet for the massive piles that will accumulate.
5. Arrange your furniture so that you can store junk behind the couch, armoire, etc. Our linens are packed politely behind our loveseat. It's classy.

It's hard to believe I made it through five whole housekeeping tips. I am really full of wisdom tonight.

And to make this reading worth your while, I present, The Pinching Preacher. From my hometown of Parker, Colorado. Watched repeatedly, the laughter will burn a day's calories.

Friday, January 1, 2010


There is something about January 1st that ushers in a pesky sense of ennui for me. It's not that I don't love the holidays, and it's not that I'm really sad they're over, either. I just get really, really lonely, like I've finally become friends with the past year and now I'm moving away.

We've been shuffling through our house these last two days with a combination of relief and exhaustion--just five days of Christmas travel wore us out! But even through the mopes, I can look back on 2009 and see many happy moments. More exciting though (I hope), is my newfound determination to create a Bucket List. No time like the present, eh?

1. Take a cooking class in a foreign country.
2. Share a meal with a famous person who doesn't know I know she's famous (stalking?).
3. Explore the vast variety of Christian traditions... read more.
4. Visit a monastery (see #3).
5. Live in a place where I am a minority.
6. Give away 30% of my income for an entire year.
7. Float in the Dead Sea.
8. Own a Burberry trench coat.
9. Write a book about food and childhood.
10. Learn the rules of soccer so that I may teach my children.
11. Name a child after someone I love.
12. Sew a quilt for my mom.
13. Participate in mental health care advocacy.
14. Find my perfect lipstick color.
15. Appreciate the texture of my hair.
16. Figure out how to make my money grow.
17. Run a 5K. Alone.
18. Run a 10K. With Dustin.
19. Vacation with friends.
20. Care for a foster child.
21. Attend a benefit gala for a museum.
22. Volunteer at big city library.
23. Grow chard with great success.
24. Learn about metabolism.
25. Wear short hair.
26. Appreciate my nose.
27. Knit a baby blanket.
28. Drive a vintage Mercedes.
29. Swim across a lake.
30. Celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary.

I'll keep you posted on how many I can check off in 2010, but I'm hoping I make tracks...