Friday, October 28, 2011

"Faux-cha"

You would think Seattle would have pity on its citizens and find a way to subsidize the cost of good quality coffee.

But no.

Grad students trying to stretch their loan dollars find themselves wondering how to stay caffeinated through class without dropping $2-4 twice a day on locally-roasted, fair-trade, shade-grown coffee and lattes with velvet foam depicting a heart, flower, or seasonally-inspired pumpkin.

It's not pretty, kids.

Lacking the start-up funds to purchase a bean grinder and french press or percolator, I am already bound to the grim fate of at-home instant coffee. And while Starbucks Via is a serviceable option, it's already feeling too steep for my wallet, which leaves...

Nescafe.

Uggggggh.

How?

With Swiss Miss!

Nothing turns instant coffee into a magically flavor-masked sugar bomb like instant hot chocolate! Top with creamer if you're feeling like a boss. Or better yet, mini-marshmallows.

Snow Berries!

I just made up the name tonight, but I learned this from my mom. When we were kids, we would look at her with her bowls of frozen berries, like, "that's not normal." But we just didn't understand.

Berries are delicious and also probably good for you. When it's not berry season, there are always frozen berries. Eat them. Eat them in the summer, because it's a cooling snack. Eat them in the winter, because there are no fresh berries at the store.

My favorites are frozen raspberries. Frozen strawberries can be pretty big and icy. Frozen blueberries have the taste and texture of hard non-frozen blueberries, which I don't like, unless baked into a muffin, which is obviously not the case when frozen in a bag. So I usually go for the raspberries.

Cut open the freezer bag and dump the frozen berries in a bowl. Then splash with milk. If you really want to be decadent, use cream. I used half-and-half tonight because I'm afraid it will spoil before I use it all up, and because almond milk was my only other option and it is not really on-point with this recipe. Also skim milk is pretty weak, but do what you will if the fat content of your milk is that big of a deal.

The berries are frozen, so the milk/cream/half-and-half will freeze onto the berries, forming an icy creamy crust. The berries will slowly thaw (if you haven't eaten them all already), trailing brightly colored juice through the cream at the bottom of the bowl. Raspberries turn the bowl a brilliant magenta.

SO GOOD. No joke.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spinach Quesadillas with Refried Beans

Ingredients:
fresh spinach
cumin
chili powder
garlic powder
salt and pepper
tortillas
cheddar (or mozzarella) cheese

As you are stumbling from your stats midterm in a daze, decide that you would like to make quesadillas for dinner. This is a good decision because you have tortillas at home, but not much else. You are pretty sure that you have cheese, so this plan should work out better than the test you just took.

Did you go to Trader Joe's recently? I went on Sunday. If you have some bagged spinach, you should pull that out. Throw some of that in a non-stick pan, maybe with some oil, does it even need oil in a non-stick pan? Shake on a bunch of pretend Mexican-ish spices from your spice rack. I use chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, because why not? Also maybe some salt and pepper. Stir it up until it's cooked, not fresh, spinach and smells like that stall at the farmer's market that sells quesadillas.

Throw a tortilla on a baking sheet. If you buy cheese in blocks like a grown up, shred that shit, or cut it in really really thing slices if you don't have a shredder. I don't have a shredder so I pay a premium for pre-shredded cheese. If you bought that pre-shredded cheese a month and a half ago, regard it skeptically. It may smell very yeasty, like rising bread dough. Incidentally, this will smell both delicious and wrong. It will also be explained by the blue clouds of mold holding the cheese shreds together.

Throw the moldy cheese into the freezer so it won't get any worse before you can get it out to the compost. Warily check any other shredded cheeses in the fridge. I found that the mozzarella seemed fine, even though it was older than the cheddar. I decided to risk it.

Throw a bunch of cheese on that tortilla and spread it around. Pour/spoon/toss your spinach on top and spread it around.

Begin to open a can of refried beans, because beans are great. Decide against including them in the quesadilla.

Throw more cheese, then another tortilla on top. Turn your oven to 400 or so and put the raw quesadilla in the oven. Let that get at all melty-crispy while you clean up the mess you made with moldy cheese.

Remember that you half-opened a can of refried beans so you better not leave that out on the shelf. Use a spatula to splat the beans into a pan and start to heat it up on the stove top.

Let everything heat up for a while while you work on formatting an income statement in excel for inclusion in the executive summary of your accounting case.

Remember: there's something in the oven! Check on the quesadilla. If it's not as crispy/melty as you want, leave it in. Otherwise, take it out. Stir the muck of refried beans around a bit and remember that that landlord told you that you are supposed to use the vent when you cook on the stove. Turn on the vent.

Take the beans off the heat and scoop a big pile onto your plate. Cut the quesadilla into fourths, sixths, or eights, depending on the size of the tortiallas. Use a spoon to spread refried beans onto each bite of quesadilla once you realize this will not work like "chips and dip."

Turn off the oven!

Browse Jezebel.com while you eat your awesome dinner. Pat yourself on the back for throwing in something green.

Stop procrastinating and finish your accounting case.

Kale and Potato Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium+ onion, depending on how much you like/dislike onions
oil
garlic, if that's your thing
1-2 potatoes from those bulk sacks at the supermarket
white kidney beans or beans in general if you like beans and want protein
broth of some kind
salt
kale
other soup-y seasonings


Chop/dice a medium onion (depending on how big vs. invisible you like your onions in the soup) and saute in a bit (tablespoon or dollop or whatever makes sense) of oil until soft. You could also throw some minced garlic in there if you like garlic a lot. I don't really know about seasoning, so.

Dice 1-2 potatoes (1 is probably enough but 2 if you LOVE POTATOES and have enough broth to compensate) into reasonably small/bite-size-ish pieces. Throw them in the pot and saute for a few minutes just for funsies/to pre-cook (I don't know if this is even necessary).

Then add your broth! I use chicken broth. I get those rectangular carton-sized ones at the store and dump the whole thing in. Depending on how much stuff you are throwing in your soup/how many people you are feeding you may want more or less. I think then maybe bring it to a boil then cover and reduce heat to simmer? That sounds like a recipe.

Basically I let it all cook for a while and I clean my prep dishes and look at lesbian tumblrs on the internet.

Then I remember: beans! So I throw in a can of cannellini/white kidney beans. Or pinto beans, when I realize they are the only beans in the cupboard. They add to the color scheme, so it can't be a bad thing. You probably should rinse them, but don't if you are lazy like me and/or don't care about sodium content.

And you should "season to taste" whatever that means. For me it means some salt until it's not bland and hopefully I'll stop before it's too salty. If you actually know how to cook, you may know other spices or seasonings that would be delicious. I bet your mom does! I don't, so.

Then I go on facebook and maybe do some stats problems and then remember to check on the soup and poke the potato pieces with a fork until they seem really break-able. I like to cook it down until the potatoes really start to disintegrate around the edges because then the soup gets really thick and potato-y. Presumably you could also just use an immersion blender to mimic this and not wait as long, but I have no gadgets.

When it seems like it would be great as-is, re: seasoning, softness of potatoes etc, add your kale! Hopefully you remembered to wash this and chop/rip it into reasonably eat-able pieces while I was busy surfing the lesbian internet. Kale gets a lot smaller when cooked so feel free to throw in huge handfuls. Especially if you LOVE KALE. Otherwise, maybe be a bit moderate. Stir it up and let the kale cook down. Taste it again to see if you need to adjust the seasoning. I like to eat it when the kale is still pretty bright green and substantive. You may like it softer.

Depending on your foresight/use of proportions, this may be a very thin soup or really thick almost like "pile of beans and kale and potatoes" covered with a bit of broth. But broth is just filler, right? I like mine pretty hearty/consistently fail to make good proportional choices.

It's sooo good! And you will feel like a champion for making it yourself/eating so many healthy things. Then go on facebook and post about how you are soup-making rockstar.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rebuilding Rome

In the past week and a half, I have practiced yoga seven times and walked the perimeter of Green Lake six times. Some days I did only one or the other, but other winning days I did both!

I figure that I may as well cram in as much as possible now, because once classes start it is unlikely that I will have the luxury of a casual stroll around the lake every evening followed by meditation, vinyasas, and shoulder stands. I do hope, however, that I will be able to get at least one hour a day to do something sweaty; I know physical activity is good for me and it's been making me feel great for the past twelve days.

Emotional well-being, physical strength, cardiovascular health, and sunshine-infused Vitamin D: there are a lot of great reasons for me to work out. And I am all about all of those reasons. Unfortunately, I'm also a woman, raised in America, inundated on a daily basis with media messages telling me that skinny is best, and therefore unnecessarily cognizant of how my body looks, not just how it feels.

I mean, I know my body looks fine.

But at the same time, as soon as I begin a regimen of yoga or any other activity, I get irrationally impatient with myself.

I did yoga two days in a row! I should be lean and toned already!

The problem right now is that I previously discovered that yoga is fitness magic for me; I've seen what it can do for my body, and so, now that I've started practicing again, I want it to do it again. Immediately. Make me flexible overnight! Improve my posture in just one hour! Shouldn't I be able to lift this heavy box myself after just a few vinyasas?

I was first introduced to yoga in November 2009, when I accompanied a friend to her Ashtanga studio. My first class felt like purgatory; I was sore and sweaty and out of breath and sore and, did I mention, sore? Everything hurt the next day.

When I learned that the traditional means of learning this type of yoga was not through led classes but through something called "Mysore practice" (named after Mysore, India, where it originated), I cracked wise: Mysore? No thanks! I'm sore enough already!

But I went back. And, unlike almost every physical activity I have tried throughout the course of my life, I kept coming back. Part of it was having a friend to encourage me to come. Part of it was my amazing yoga teacher. But a big part of it was simply the yoga.

I found that I liked Ashtanga yoga. My OCD side liked the fact that there was a prescribed, predictable pattern of postures to learn and apply. My ADD side liked the fact that most poses were only held for a period of 5 breaths, which passes quickly enough that I didn't have time to get bored. Which also was also a plus for my lazy side, which didn't want to feel like it was every trying too hard. And yet, I did get a sense of accomplishment, because each posture was held just long enough for me to recognize the exertion and push myself a little bit more to deepen the pose, or straighten my arms, or heighten my awareness of my breathing. It turned out that yoga was the perfect fit for me.

This was reinforced a few months into my practice when I realized that, in addition to the short-term physical and emotional benefits of going to class once a week, I was starting to see some long-term change in my body. I found it easier to stand straight; if I flexed my arms like an adolescent boy in front of my bathroom mirror, there was some definition in my shoulders and bicepts! My legs felt strong, not their regular doughy consistency. I was dressing myself more and more frequently in my smaller size jeans (like most women I know, I maintain a collection spanning 4 size points).

Apparently, I was not the only person to notice the changes in my physique. One friend eagerly shared that a colleague had commented that I looked like I had lost "a ton of weight!"

I was supposed to think, YAY! What a compliment! EEEEEE!

And there was a little piece of me that was pleased, happy that the change was noticeable to others.

But mostly I was critical. Because when I weighed myself, I had only slimmed down about 5 pounds, in as many months. A pound a month? That's not exactly a "ton" of weight. And without spending too long up on a soap box, I'll just say that I believe that there is something inherently wrong with a value system that equates the phrase "you lost weight" with a gracious compliment.

"You lost weight" is a comment, and one that is not always welcome. There are a lot of reasons you can lose weight. You can be sick. You can be stressed. My ex lost weight because he stopped eating and sleeping after I left him. His weight loss was a symptom of a myriad of problems, not a success story. And so it goes.

It happened that my minor weight loss, while incidental, was clearly linked to healthy changes I had made in my life. But it pisses me off that people assume everybody wants to be skinnier, that everybody should be skinnier, that having weight and curves and heft is a negative.

And that's the other problem with asserting that "you lost weight!" is a compliment; if this new, skinnier me is so great, what did you think of my body before? Was that body unattractive? Did you look at that body and think, "she weighs a ton" or "I can see all those curves, including the stomach and thighs" and did you think how much better I would look if I looked...just somehow...less?

And so all of these thoughts begin spiraling again when I find myself consciously making an effort to integrate regular exercise in my life. The truth is, for me, fixating on some physical ideal as a desired outcome is the opposite of finding my motivation, because it's unrealistic that I will ever meet it. Trying to do so all but guarantees that my workouts will peter out over time, that eventually I'll skip one day, then two, then roll on down the slippery slope from "I don't have time today" to "I don't really care that I haven't gone for two weeks, it wasn't really 'working', anyway."

And so I focus on the short-term, instead. I work out for the rush of endorphins I get from pushing myself hard at cardio, for the feeling of my own breath ragged in my chest, for the salty-sweet smell of my own hard-earned sweat. And I turn to yoga, where "short-term" becomes truly moment-by-moment. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

My breathes stretch hotly into four beats, counting upwards on the exhale:

in-two-three-four
ONE-two-three-four
one-two-three-four
TWO-two-three-four
two-two-three-four
THREE-two-three-four
three-two-three-four
FOUR-two-three-four
four-two-three-four
FIVE-two-three-four

And I flow into the next posture of my practice.

This is how I find myself getting back into shape. When I catch my reflection in the mirror and the voice of sexist size-ist media whispers in my ear like a devil on my shoulder that my abs should be firmer, really, and my shoulders more toned, I remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day. But today, today I walked around the lake and finished 2 songs sooner on my favorite playlist than I did last week; today, I held navasana with my chest lifted and did not use my hands to keep my knees aloft; today I popped up into wheel twice and it felt like my body was shouting for joy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

It has been over seven weeks since I quit my job for health reasons. That is seven weeks since I have woken up in the morning with a place I was expected to be, since I have had the opportunity to earn my own way, however meager. It's almost been like a vacation.

Almost, but not quite.

There are a lot of great things about being out of work, and I am trying to be aware of and grateful for them. Things like: I can stay up as late as I want and then sleep in as late as I want. I can read book after book after book (my current count since the start of July is a delicious baker's dozen). I don't have to go into work and stare at a computer screen as 10,000+ digitized Nordstrom's receipts flicker past my eyes each hour. Instead, I can go places and do things that I would ordinarily not have the time to do. In theory, I could do anything with all this free time!

Except that in reality, I can't, or couldn't, at the start of it. For the first month of my summer vacation, my options were limited by my wrist problems; even using a computer mouse as I browsed the internet or organized pictures in my iPhoto library, or reading a heavy book that required me to use one hand to hold back the pages, could cause a bout of pain and discomfort that would last the following two days. Picking up one or two boxes, heavy or not, was painful and strenuous when attempted freehand, and awkward and pinched when attempted in braces. As a result, I spent a lot of time on the couch at my parent's house (where better to recuperate than back at home with Mom and Dad?), watching Masterpiece Mystery or DVDs of True Blood.

Even as my wrists recovered from tendinitis and retreated away from the cusp of carpal tunnel, there was only so much I could do. For one thing, I spent four straight weeks with my parents in suburban Wisconsin. Guess what there is to do in suburban Wisconsin when you can't bend your wrists or lift things, don't have a car, and are restricted to the budget of the unemployed?

...don't feel bad, I couldn't really figure it out either.

It was wonderful to spend time with my parents; I love them both and enjoy their company. And, after a few years of being single, it was great to live with people who saw fit to give me hugs every single day! My mother also saw fit to bake me near-weekly pies (raspberry, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue that tasted like the sun was a lemon and the clouds were sweet beaten eggs whites). My dad saw fit to take me to Starbucks, to drive-ins, and out for ice cream, which is plentiful and, if you can find the 'Zanzibar chocolate' or it's dolled-up cousin, 'Zoreo,' simply decadently delicious.

Of course, all this pie and ice cream (and the bags of chips I would eat in front of the TV each night after my parents had gone to bed), coupled with the ban my physical therapist put on yoga and my lazy unwillingness to try to go for walks in the 90-100+ degree great outdoors did not go unnoticed by my hips and my soft little belly.

What did I do on my summer vacation? I got a little bit fatter. I don't mind, really; I have a generally healthy attitude towards my body and a reserve of jeans spanning 4 sizes for circumstances such as these. But that's pretty much all I have to show for my time out of work.

In addition to not exercising, I also did not think about my life, my future, my career options, or my commitment to attend business school in the fall.

I was worried that if I thought about it too much, I would realize that I had made the wrong decision; that I could not in fact go forward with my plans to matriculate at UW; that I did not have any better ideas for my future, only a weight like a brick in my chest composed of anxiety and inarticulate grief.

My dad took me to Panera to talk about Foster; he is detail-oriented and has to sit down and "get all the facts" so he can get everything appropriately ordered and processed inside his head.

I got a mocha and a sourdough roll while he worked his way through 2 steaming cups of coffee and a cherry Danish and drew out information about the curriculum, the professors, and the career services that I would have access to in the fall.

I told him what I knew, or thought I remembered from the days when I had still thought I cared and therefore paid attention. Every bit of information felt like a lie in my mouth, not because it was untrue but because the emotion behind it was so misunderstood. My dad believed me to be excited, organized, ready for action.

I felt tears pricking at the corner of my eyes and was glad when he stood to refill his coffee because it allowed me to take deep breaths and swear fuck fuck fuck shit, composing myself in his absence.

I pulled it together.

But I was worried: had I secretly come home just to give up? Was I there in my parent's house, reunited again with the physical bulk of my life, still packed in boxes from Massachusetts and stored under their roof, so that I could run away from Seattle?

I remembered my first night home, walking through the house, the familiar scents of carpet and books and kitchen and family reminding me of Christmas, because that is when I have spent the most time there, thinking to myself again and again: Why did I come here? What was I thinking?

Why did I go there?

Unwilling to burst into tears at my father or ruminate myself into a depressive mess, I spent the rest of the afternoon re-acquainting myself with my collection of Playmobile 1900 playsets, trying to remember the names of each of the figurines and recreate the vast network of families I had established with flowcharts graphed out in colored pencil twenty years ago. I also re-built my Lego Paradiso beach house that day. When my mom got home from work, I paraded it into the kitchen.

"Look what I did!" I crowed.

"That's, great," my mom validated, "you are so creative!"

I had to admit then that I had followed the instructions, and then went downstairs to disassemble it piece by piece before boxing up all the toys and turning to a book for further escapism.

Next I created some projects for myself. I dug into my CD collection as well as that of my parents to identify albums I had not yet imported to iTunes. I began organizing and dating my iPhoto albums and naming the faces of all of my friends. The time at my computer wore at my wrists, but it helped me feel like I was accomplishing something, and I missed that feeling. It also allowed me not to think about Seattle, but to focus on the present and the recent past instead.

By the next week the bulk of the emotional dissonance had passed, but I was still unsettled and unsure. I got a slightly better handle on my attitude after I sent a 20-paragraph email to a friend in Japan trying to articulate everything that had happened in the past 3 months and everything that lay ahead. I told him:

If nothing else, going to grad school will offer STRUCTURE to my life, which I CRAVE. I crumble without structure; I am absolutely horrible at creating a sense of structure when my days are wide open. So I am looking forward to that. And there will be the built-in social network of other people doing the same things as me, so I can make friends, and I will still be in Seattle so I can stay in touch with and hang out with all the people I have met and re-connected with in the past year, and see my nephew grow up, too.

It was true, and framing school that way for a third party helped me accept it a little bit more.

And if I was really going to go to school in the fall, it was important that I return to Seattle at some point and start setting things in motion: there were career services seminars to attend, and student social activities scattered throughout the summer; I needed to find an apartment and orchestrate the transportation of my worldly possessions across the rest of the country; I needed to resolve my worker's comp claim; I needed to get my pie-and-ice-cream-and-chip-eating ass back to the gym.

After 4 weeks in the Midwest I returned to Seattle. I had grand plans for all the things I would accomplish! I would go to the gym every day because, what else was I going to do with my time? I was going to eat exceptionally cleanly to make up for my month of binging on sugars and starch. And I was going to cross of every item on my growing To Do list within the first week or so, and still have a whole month available to write!

Because I hadn't written a word while I was in Wisconsin. As much as I had intended to, I could not sit down and just write. I couldn't write a book, I couldn't blog, I could barely keep up with journal entries tracking my hazy days of rest.

But I was excited to be back in Seattle; I was excited to back in the driver's seat of my car! On my first full day I went grocery shopping for all sorts of healthy foods and living supplies and cooked up some kale for dinner. Kale! A super food! Look at me go! And yet, green nutrition aside, I could not keep up the momentum. It was much too easy to get away with doing nothing all day: browsing the internet, browsing cable, reading more books, napping on the couch. Some days I didn't leave my sublet at all.

I took to bribing myself to leave the apartment: you can buy a coffee if you go across town! you can buy a cupcake if you go to the gym! you tried working out but ran out of energy? at least you tried! go get some gelato! It was motivational, but it also cost money, and didn't help me feel much better about my overall state of health.

Finally I hit a stretch of 3 days in the row when I got myself to go to the gym. What a difference a few endorphins make! Since then it hasn't been perfect, but I've been been forcing myself into the shower upon waking and exiling myself from my sublet almost every day. I found an apartment! I walked my new neighborhood! I updated my resume! I walked the lake! I walked downtown! I met other new students! I walked the park! I am still occasionally rewarding myself with coffee and cupcakes, but I'm also being cognizant of what I eat and how I spend.

Sick of my own sad-sackery, I'm trying to choose to be happy during the short time I have left this summer. My daily excursions are helping, as is actively reaching out and meeting up with friends. I'm cooking myself well-balanced breakfasts of eggs and toast, strawberries and Greek yogurt, kashi with bananas; I'm taking time to start my day with fuel that will keep me going, and meals that will be a luxury once I'm scrambling through my student morning routine to catch a bus to the University. I'm turning off the TV at night instead of mindlessly watching one more re-run of a crime drama. Instead, I'm putting myself to bed by 11, to journal and read, and turning off the lights by midnight so I can sleep eight hours on the right side of morning.

Today, I fixed myself a hearty breakfast, scheduled movers, met up with a friend and then had a series of adventures with her: checking out the beach, grabbing some coffee and cupcakes, and laughing over repeats of 3rd Rock from the Sun before I returned home, read a few chapters of a book, and set up my desktop computer.

I even did yoga. Two postures in and it was like having a conversation with a friend I hadn't spoken with in too long, the kind of relationship that floundered with time because one or both of you should have been trying more, but they didn't, or you didn't. But then you just pick up the phone and are talking and you are so glad to be talking again that it outshines the lost time: let's not focus on the time we were apart, on what didn't happen but could have - let's focus instead on this moment; we are here together, now, isn't that something to be thankful for? In such a way, I am thankful for tonight's yoga practice.

I also wrote (this), inhaled a fresh, green, vegetable-laden salad for dinner, balanced my checkbook, and did a load of laundry. I feel good about how I spent this day.

How I spent my summer vacation was not great. But today was, and tomorrow could be, and I am committing myself to finding ways to live each day fully.

It's true that I still feel ambivalent about business school and the direction it will take my life. It's also true that business school will provide structure, and challenge, and new friends, and career opportunities. What is most true is what I have learned this past year, and what has been terrifying me for the past number of months: what I do with my life now is entirely up to me. And I don't know what I want to do with my life, not yet, not entirely, not enough, I feel, when I see people around me with clearly charted courses forging boldly ahead towards their goals.

So for now, for the rest of the summer, I am choosing how to spend each of my days. For me, for my life right now, what I want are good days. And right now, that is enough to want from my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Next Steps

I accepted Foster's offer of admission!

Notice that I did not say, " I decided to go to Foster." Because honestly, it did not exactly feel like I was deciding, at the time. It was more like I realized that I already knew that I was going to go to UW - and then finally acted on it.

It is reminiscent of a hearing test I had recently. The audiologist seated me in a booth and asked me to say "yes" when I heard a sound. I was fitted with an earbud first in my right, then my left, ear. Each time I heard the tone through that ear, I would say, "yes." It was pretty straightfoward: I would hear a sound, and once I knew that I had heard it, I would say "yes."

The final test was different. I was fitted with a short headband that stretched between my right temple and the left side of my skull, behind the ear. The instructions were basically the same: whenever I heard the tone - through either ear - I was to say "yes."

So I did: every time the tone sounded, I answered in the affirmative. Except that I didn't actually hear the tone. Rather, I simply knew that it had sounded. It was a little bit weird and inarticulate but it was undeniable.

Sort of like my "decision" to go to Foster.

Which, I should note, is basically the same principle that was at play when I was struggling over Tepper. Regardless of the different ways I found to describe my feelings, in retrospect, it was never really about whether or not I would decide to go. The reason I struggled so long over my "decision" about CMU was based in the fact that, almost immediately after being accepted, I knew that I was not going to go but, because I found the program so appealing in many ways, it was very hard for me to accept that I was not actually going to end up at Tepper.

But accept I did. And now I have accepted Foster. Beginning this fall, I will begin working towards my MBA at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington!

It's almost like I have a plan or something.

There are a number of things that I know I need to do over the next couple of months to prepare for business school. But there are also a number of things that I don't know.

Most pressingly, what am I going to do in two weeks?

You see, my roommates are moving in July. They have both just finished school and are excited about their new one bedroom in Capital Hill, which - if you don't know Seattle - is a lively, happening neighborhood for folks our age. So it's a good fit for them, and as much fun as it has been living together, I'm sure they are also ready to enter a roommate-free (they are a married couple, after all) phase of their lives.

But what about me?

For my part, I'm excited to get my own place and work towards really establishing my own home - and identity - here in Seattle.

Except that, until the student loans come in, I can't necessarily afford my own place (not to mention the inconvenient fact that all my pans and towels and forks and cups and tools and books and bed and desk etc. etc. etc. are still in "temporary" storage my my parents' house in Wisconsin).

So I could sublet for the summer - I could certainly afford rent and utilities if I didn't need to put down first/last/security - and subletting would likely land me someplace already furnished, with pans and forks and cups etc. readily available. But subletting would also mean that I would have to move once now, and again in the fall into my own place. And moving can be a nuisance, even without an excess of belongings to take with you.

What can I do if I don't want to officially move or pay rent this summer? Well, I could go home to Wisconsin! My parents would be happy to host me, rent-free, for as long as I could stand to stay with them. Furthermore, Wisconsin is...not Seattle, which would mean I would need to quit my temp job scanning Nordstrom's receipts (@ a minimum rate of 9500 pages per hour). Which would be spectacular.

Especially because I have managed to "strain" both of my wrists. You see, the Nordstrom's receipts come in boxes, bags, and bundles. So in order to scan, first I need to pick up a box, remove the bags, and stack the bundles. Then, before I can feed the receipts into my scanner, I need to un-bind each bundle. So I lift of the lump of 300-900 receipts bound with 2 rubber bands, and with two or three or four flicks of the wrist, remove the two rubber bands keeping everything together. Then, after the set of receipts has been scanned, they are bundled up again - grab, twist, flick, twist, flick - then back into the bag, then, once the bag is done, back into the box.

There is a lot of repetitive motion required of my wrists in order for me to do my job.

Last week, the right one had apparently had enough. I started noticing the tweaking in my forearm when I wad handling especially fat bundles, or making sudden movements with my hands, or doing the dishes. By Friday my wrist was hurting, sore, sparking with pain when I tried to use my hand.

So I tried switching to lefty as the dominant hand - which is not easy, as you may well imagine. But using righty in the ways I normally would was causing nervous discomfort. I picked up a wrist brace at the drug store on the way home, and wore it all weekend. On Monday my left wrist was feeling warm and tired from all the unaccustomed action. I visited the doctor who encouraged me to continue wearing the brace, take anti-inflammatories 3x a day, and begin seeing a physical therapist.

By Tuesday, lefty was spent and pained. I picked up a second brace, to make a complete pair.

I look like I'm strapped into some high-tech gloves as part of a super-hero costume. Or, I could glue on some spikes and look like the Shredder of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' fame (I was gratified when I told this joke at work and everybody got it and laughed, instead of looking at me like, "...").

Having to wear dual wrist braces is not fun or especially comfortable. And even though the braces are supposedly supporting both wrists, I still feel the strain when going through the motions - albeit in a slow, ungainly manner - of unbundling and rebundling receipts for eight hours every day.

What could this sudden onset of job-inhibiting pain mean? This pain that started up the same week I was resigning myself to working overtime all summer - effectively promising myself that I would use my time to earn cash, not pursue hobbies like writing - in order to pay for my very own place? Maybe my wrist "strain" is a Sign from the Universe that I should quit my job so that I have more free time - because what could I possibly do with free time? What do I love that has been on my mind lately, causing me to try and find ways to integrate then into my career path?

Books!

Clearly, my wrists problems are a Sign from the Universe that I should quit my job and write a book. Which I should probably do from Wisconsin, because there I could write to my heart's content while living rent-free.

Writing a book would be awesome!

The only problems with this plan are that (1) Seattle in July is perfect and, in fact, the only nice weather in Seattle all year so it would be horrible to pass it up for hot, humid, Wisconsin summer, and (2) travelling to Wisconsin from Seattle - by car or by plane - would cost money, and in fact, simply owning a car every month costs me money, not to mention my health insurance (which pays for ear exams) and my cell phone and my compulsive need to buy lattes. None of which I could afford at present without a steady income. Which means that I need to have a job. Which I do not have in Wisconsin.

But it would be so awesome to write a book this summer!

OR it could be so awesome to finally, finally, finally - after living with a boyfriend and leaving like a thief in the night to stay on a series of futons and couches and futons again in other people's home - finally have my very own, a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place place.

OR it could be so awesome to just be able to comfortably make ends meet.

And so. I need a plan.