October

The week leading up to my birthday, I was sick and gross. My way of trying to deal with that was having a lot of green smoothies.

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Then the night before my birthday I realized that I was going to continue to be sick on my birthday and wasn’t going to do any cooking (Trader Joe’s frozen snacks saved the day at my party). So I got myself some tasty vittles from the taco truck. A pupusa, a sope, and a horchata. Delish! The cat was interested too 😀

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Random pics from the following days…

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Hazelnut biscotti and cafe au lait at Johnnys, reliably great…

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Avocado toast and eggs with sprouts at Fosters… just okay. Fosters is famous and I will not judge them by that meal. I should’ve gotten something more classic my first time there (I had an awkward time gap between clients at work and just grabbed lunch near me).

Also with an awkward-length break, I went to Parker and Otis. I got myself a fairly normal sandwich but I drooled over the beauty and descriptions of these Halloween-themed chocolates.

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The sky looked pretty in the gym parking lot one day. I took a pic.

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I had a scary movie night with some girlfriends.

We had yummy pizza (and I was a total dietitian and brought a side salad)

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Another night my friend had a campfire hangout at her place. We were celebrating her excellent and much-loved backyard before she moved (I have so many homeowner friends now! Crazy!)

For that get together, I threw together birthday party leftovers to make this trifle-ish dessert. Layers of crumbled Halloween Joe-Joes, chocolate pudding made with leftover milk from White Russians, and whipped cream. Tasty!

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The campfire was dreamy but most of the people there knew each other from running together. They all do marathons and stuff. I have nothing to relate to them with hahaha.

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So I focused on warming my footsies. My lazy, lazy footsies.

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My sweet friend Lesli had her annual pumpkin carving party.

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Boo the Halloween cat supervised everybody.

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My pumpkin had naturally spooky eyes so I designed a face around that. I was going for a cat but it got a little rodent-y, IMO.

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I had it on my front stoop for a whopping two days before the freaking deer knocked it down and ate a chunk out of its face. Oh well.

SPOOOOOKY OOOOOOOH!

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John and Emily and their pumpkins.

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Lesli and her witch making brew and Garrett and his alien

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Alex and Sam and their potion!

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Snacks were REAL good at the pumpkin carving party. Apple cider sangria…

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… Chili and cornbread muffins…

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SO GOOD pasta salad- Lesli later brought it to Thanskgiving

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Now please enjoy this amusingly Halloween-decorated lawn I stumbled upon in Carrboro.

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A little more Halloween goodness:

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I threw together an EXTREMELY low-effort, last-minute Halloween ensemble to go to a Halloween party over the weekend at the Michael Myers house- basically, a random dude has built an exact replica of the house from Halloween in the middle of North Carolina. And, understandably, hosts a big Halloween bash there every year that involves house tours, beaming horror movies onto a projector (we enjoyed the truly terrible My Bloody Valentine), dressing up, etc.

Here’s a closeup of my makeup, which was fun to do. Props to my sister for the black lip gloss.

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On Halloween itself I visited one of my new favorite places- Brewery Bhavana. It is a brewery, dim sum restaurant (!), book store, and flower shop (!!!)

It wears quite a few hats. I can attest that it EXCELS at the dim sum so even if the other ventures were not successful I’d be happy indeed.

Behold, one of the best things I have ever tasted:

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Scallion pancakes with bone marrow and oxtail jam. Swoon. I am not that into meat, but yknow, I was there with a boy, and then I tasted this and it made me want to cry it was so good.

We also had (unpictured) crab dumplings, a turnip cake…

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And lil moon cakes filled with something barbecuey as I recall.

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Plus unpictured cocktails 😀 The last day of October was also the yummiest day!

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life lately

The beginning of this post is word heavy. The end of this post is both word and picture heavy. Prepare yourself!

Thing #1: I have become addicted to Body Pump.

Cons: I sound like a tool saying that.

Pros: everything else. Guys, it’s been so good for me. For your bones, for your metabolism, for everything- especially if you are a woman, you really ought to be psyching yourself into strength training. Body Pump (a class taught at many many gyms all over the country, if you’re not familiar with it- a full body strength training circuit with low weights but lots of reps, set to music, led by an enthusiastic instructor who gives you tips on proper form) makes it bearable for me.

I cannot handle: wandering uncertainly through a weight room, speculating which machines might be appropriate for strengthening which muscles, totally inventing how many reps at what weight, listening to gross grunting coming from sweaty and stinky men around me.

I can handle: someone telling me when to go up on my weights and when to go down, proper form, doing countdowns of how many reps I have left, whie Uptown Funk is playing.

I’ve been doing it about once a week for about four months and I’m really happy with the results- subtle toning in my arms, shoulders, and abs; and my legs, which were already fairly muscular, are really impressive now. And wowza do I have junk in the trunk. My booty is high and tight and I’m into it!

Thing #2: I have grown very fond of the My Favorite Murder podcast

Cons: It’s messing with my capacity to trust humanity

Pros: It is THE BEST commute entertainment

So if you’re in the know you probably know true crime is having A Moment right now. I have an aunt who’s a producer for Investigation Discovery and she says like their entiiiiire audience is women. And weirdly, their viewership spikes at like 2-3 am. Apparently the modern American working woman is waking up in the middle of the night and going, “You know what will help me relax? Watching a TV show about murder”

When I started my job, I had just gotten a new car and had a free three-month trial of satellite radio, which is really pretty much as great as everyone says it was- more variety (though they still play a lot of songs too often for my taste) and NO COMMERCIALS! After that I attempted to go back to listening to regular radio and it was just terrible. (Also, for obvious reasons, listening to the news on NPR makes me want to kill myself. I’m really proud if I make it through about 30 seconds of news and then they start the word “Presi-” and I get a hand spasm and have to change the station real quick)

However, I spend a really unreasonable amount of time in my car for work, driving around doing home visits with my clients. I was going to go insane without something to entertain me. So, I was on the hunt for a podcast to listen to on my way to work/ on my way around town for home visits. I was reading the always excellent submissions to Jezebel’s true scary stories contest and noticed a lot of people speaking positively about My Favorite Murder. And so I gave it a listen and thus an obsession was born!

It’s a show about true crimes (specifically, murders; with the occasional near-misses/terrifying but ultimately empowering tales of survival to keep morale up). And it’s hosted by two very funny comedians. If it sounds like something you’d like, you probably would. If it sounds like something you’d hate, you probably would. Go with your gut on that one.

The show is also a treasure trove of recommendations for various true crime books and TV shows. That’s how I’ve gotten into Mindhunter on Netflix (pretty good- the best part is the actor who plays Ed Kemper, the coed killer, who’s freaking incredible), the book Devil in the White City, the book Lost Girls (which I’m reading now).

Thing #3: I started doing the online dating thing this year. As you will guess, this will be the lengthiest part of this post, heh. I joined in late June and have finally reached a place where I can put my thoughts together.

Pros: If you’re a 20something (ugh, barely guys, I turn 30 on my next birthday and may have to evaluate them) and are looking to meet somebody, I think Bumble is the way to go.

I went on OKCupid for like ten minutes a year or two ago and did not like the experience. You can put in all your stuff about age ranges you want, your interests, etc. and you still get messages from 60 year old (!) ex cons (!!) who thank God live 100 miles away. No thanks.

In Bumble, you may only converse with folks in whom you have expressed interest (via swiping right) and who have expressed interest in you. I like both aspects of that- I also really hate rejection and it seems less painful if you know someone has found you at least vaguely appealing before you message them. Because that’s Bumble’s real claim to fame- it’s the feminist dating app! The woman must make the first move to message the bloke you meet! (Note: I don’t know how this works for the same-sex folks)

Bumble also limits how long your profile is- you don’t do some lengthy personality analysis. I kind of like that too- one must choose one’s words wisely and decide what’s important to emphasize. And still an amazing number of dudes don’t say a single word in their profile- no thanks bro!- so they’re easy to screen out hahaha. I think having a wee profile is helpful, but honestly the conversation you have and then, hopefully sooner rather than later, the in-person chemistry and good vibes and so on are just so much more important.

Cons: Online dating doesn’t solve anything in particular. Dating is still often maddening!

You cook a delicious meal for someone (homemade brinner: eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise with lovely wild salmon instead of Canadian bacon pus lovely farmers market tomatoes; and homemade hash browns on the side):

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Then they cook a delicious meal for you (homemade egg rolls and sesame noodles):

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And then not at all after that they disappear for three weeks and you have one last, unsatisfying, conversation over pizza before they ghost you for good.

Admittedly the pizza was great. Glad to finally try Pompieri Pizza. My lil piza had mushrooms and enough garlic to slay a vampire:

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They give you scissors to cut your pizza, fun!

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His was a white pizza with incredible goat cheese that was real real good drizzled in spicy oil.

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Cons: A con of online dating is a con of all dating/life…

I sort of wish that there was some magical light that went on when you are the happiest you will ever be with someone else so you know that this is it, that you’d better soak it up, because things will just go downhill after this. In most dudes I’ve hung out with, I can point to that moment in retrospect, but I find myself wishing I knew it at the time.

But let’s say that light did exist. If you knew it at the time, would it suck all the joy out of that moment? Let’s be real, hope and possibility and excitement at the beginning of a maybe-relationship is a great feeling. Maybe this dude will really get you! Maybe he has no flaws!

Or, if that light went on, would it send you on a feverish quest to beat fate, and obsessively act to bring back the fun/joy/excitement you once felt with and for a person? Or is that what you do anyway when a relationship is going downhill?

This is Deep Thoughts With Ileana, heh.

Anyway.

So yeah things tanked with that dude, which is maybe okay. He was 6’3″, frighteningly attractive, and made me go all stupid and jumbly-worded. He also was a bit wounded and hung up on his ex and that is catnip for my codependent tendencies, which is no good.

Pros: You get to meet people’s cute pets!

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The dude mentioned previously had an adorable boxer dog with a really great overbite.

This other dude, A, who I’ve mentioned a couple of times and have spent quite a few months with, but with whom things now seem to be tanking, has the sweet little kitty pictured above. Her name rhymes with my cat’s name, too- fun lil coincidence, no?!

Pros: Trying new things on dates can be fun.

A and I went to Crossties Barbecue, a place I’ve been meaning to try. And when you get two meals you can share the more horrifically unhealthy menu options, like deep fried deviled eggs:

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A is very into music, and is actually cool about knowing bands and things, so I got to hit up some shows with him. I went to Red Hat Amphitheater with him, which is smack dab in the middle of downtown Raleigh and is REALLY cool and pretty.

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Especially lovely at sunset! We saw Gov’t Mule. The band was good but I had to wash my hair when I got home cause it reeked of all the pot smoke in the air lololol.

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Another show:

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The lawn of the NC Museum of Art is a super cool setting. And I liked both Waxahatchee and Superchunk a LOT.

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Another date. Bull City Ciderworks has all right cider:

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But honestly the best part of it is that people bring their pets there- I met this precious angel Baxter-

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and that they have games there- I am the queen of Bananagrams.

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There was a little early-in-a-relationship drama in there.

But then it got better and then it got really very good indeed. A went on a business trip to Switzerland and brought me this RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING box of chocolates:

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And we had what was maybe that “This is the happiest you’ll be together light” moment: a perfect Saturday that involved wandering the Carrboro farmer’s market and then eating some of the yumminess from there…

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Followed by an unpictured hike with some of my friends and some of their cute dogs…

And then delicious food at the Wooden Nickel! He wanted wings, which I never think to get. But man these were solid:

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And then we got glorious burgers! Him with garlic fries, me with tater tots. Omnomnomnomnom.

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It seems like the later end of this list seems like all pros of online dating and like ooh girl soulmate territory!

Except here’s the thing.

Con: DATING IN 2017 IS RUBBISH. Maybe dating has always been rubbish- I can only speak from my own experience. Until 2017 I met the (few) people I dated in organic circumstances, mostly at work actually. 2017 is the year I embarked on seeking out strangers with whom to make a connection.

2017 dating, especially when one opens oneself up to the Internet, offers abundance. There are lots of people. Some of them are even attractive. One can include the word “feminism” in one’s online dating profile and still get interested dudes.

However, one can still find oneself seeing someone for months at a time and not yet have anything resembling exclusivity. There’s no preexisting foundation of friendship, there are not necessarily any overlapping people in your life, you may have no common interests whatsoever and it becomes really apparent that the only thing that brought you together is the mutual desire to have someone to date, which as it turns out may not be enough.

One can find oneself saying, “I think one of my needs in a relationship is that the other person actually cares about me.” This is the kind of curve we’re grading on, man!

So we will see. This was a mind dump of a post and will not end with any particularly impressive conclusions. But I’m curious to hear (is this thing on? Anyone reading?) if anyone else has thoughts to share.