Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Total Freak

Maybe you didn't know this about me, but I'm a little quirky... and I don't just mean my fear of birds or feet or the joy that comes to me when I read recipes. A recent, shall we say quirk, that has developed is a defective jaw.

I first noticed it when I was working on a very chewy granola bar last week and my jaw felt really sore & kind of
loose. After that, I found that occasionally when I opened my mouth too wide, or moved it in a certain way, it would pop out of joint completely, and I couldn't get it back in. Conveniently, this happened minutes before I was to speak in front of 800 college students. Thankfully, it popped back in before I went up front, and I was able to open and close my mouth the the greatest of ease while giving my riveting talk.

Since then, any time I open my mouth just a little too wide, it slides out of joint and stays out for... well, as long as it wants. On Saturday, I couldn't close my mouth for about 1/2 hour. On Sunday for a few minutes while we were eating lunch with friends, I couldn't smile or laugh. I have to cut my food into tiny bites and make sure it's nothing too chewy or sticky. I'm a total freak.

My question is: what should I do? Do I see a dentist? An Orthodontist? A Chiropractor? My
dental insurance sucks, plus it totally hurts when it pops out of joint, so the last thing I want to do it sit in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open. Such a dilemma.

I wish, sometimes, that I had normal problems, like a fear of spiders or public speaking. For now, I fear giant bagel sandwiches and laffy taffy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Old Flame Rekindled

Tonight, I rediscovered a long lost love.

I can't remember the last time I made my famous chocolate chip cookies (which are actually my mom's famous chocolate chip
cookies), and I am sad to say that I have been led away by the siren call of other, fancier, new & exciting recipes. But fear not, my love, I have returned.

If you have never experienced these buttery beauties, then you are either 1) a stranger reading my blog, 2) a new friend or 3) someone I have shamefully excluded and who deserves an apology. If you fall into the last two categories, you should subtly hint that you would like a sampling, and I would be happy to oblige.

In my years on staff with a large Christian organization, I have learned that there are five "love languages"-- ways of giving & receiving love (In case you're curious, they're: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service & physical touch).

I have decided that I give love in a sixth language (kind of like a sixth sense... but a little less "I see dead people-y"), and that language is chocolate chip cookies. In college, whenever someone was sad-- or happy, or had a birthday, or an important event, or a Bible Study, or if I just had a final coming up & didn't want to study-- there was always a plate of chocolate chip cookies to say "I love you". Our wedding favors were small boxes filled with chocolate chip cookies... one box for eac
h of our 200 guests, every single cookie made from scratch with lots of love from the bride.

Well, like I said, I have strayed away from my first love for a while now-- but tonight I returned. We met a group of students on campus tonight, and it seemed appropriate to have a huge batch of cookies for them (they seemed to think it was appropriate, too. They were very happy!). A plate of chocolate chip cookies just makes any occasion a little more festive & special.

So, because I have great love for anyone still reading this ridiculous blog, here is the famous recipe. But if you make these cookies, you have to promise that it will be for the purpose of bringing joy & love
to the world.

  • 1 1/2 stick butter, room temperature (not quite soft)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (Guittard are the best!)
Preheat oven to 375. Mix first 5 ingredients in a mixer until smooth. Add flour & baking soda & mix. Mix in chocolate chips. Scoop onto a baking sheet (about 2 Tbsp per cookie) and bake for 7-9 minutes, until crispy on the outside & slightly gooey in the middle. Transfer to cooling rack immediately. Enjoy, and spread the love.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Self Discovery

For the last several weeks, it felt as though I didn't quite know who I was... or where I was, or what the heck I was doing. I was in a gray viral fog that only lifted for brief periods of time (which were glorious). But now, after 4 weeks and one round of antibiotics, all that remains is a sniffly nose and a sore throat. Hallelujah. I'll take that.

Now that the clouds have lifted in my brain, I am left looking around at the damage: weeks worth of emails that I barely remember receiving (and never answered), students & friends who have forgotten I am alive, piles of clothes on the bed, and a body whose muscles have atrophied into little whithered shrubs (not that they were much to speak of before).

And, sadly, now that the clouds have lifted inside, there's a huge storm raging outside. Chris & I decided to take the dog out for a long walk before the storm blew in early this afternoon, and happened to meet it head-on at the top of Bernal Hill. We laughed and held on for dear life as 70 mile an hour winds, rain & hail pelted us all the way down the hill (Gavin was having a ball). Quite the adventure.

So now we are forced to have a mellow weekend indoors-- which, after being gone for a week (more on that later), is actually quite welcomed. But even more than a relaxing weekend, I am glad to have a functioning mind and a sense of self again. Laying on a couch in a daze for three weeks can really make you forget...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I'm Going to Make You a Meatball You Can't Refuse

Last night was a good night. Last night I was able to do several things I haven't been able to do much since I've gotten sick: cook a big meal, enjoy a big meal, and unplug & relax with Chris.

Picture Christine in her [tiny] kitchen, wearing a red apron, making spaghetti & meatballs, singing along to Dean Martin and drinking
wine. (When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore!)

What was the occasion? We were watching The Godfather for the first time-- and I have to say, with the wine and the amazing spaghetti & meatballs and all, it was a really enjoyable experience (let me know if you would like the recipe for the best spaghetti & meatballs ever!)

I feel like I am truly an American, now that I have experienced this chunk of culture I've been missing out on. I have to say, I laughed my head off at the horse head scene (I'm sure it was shocking in it's time, but there have been so many spoofs on it, it's hard to take it seriously), and I had no idea how many famous (and incredibly young!) actors were in it (Diane Keaton was in The Godfather? So out of place! How did she go from that to The First Wives' Club?)

Our enjoyable evening was followed by an even more enjoyable morning. We woke up early to
take Gavin to his annual vaccination, and treated him (and ourselves) afterwards by going to Fort Funston. (Gavin was so wonderful with the vet-- all he did was pee on Chris' leg in fear when we had to pin him down for a blood test. But I understand-- I come close to wetting myself when I get blood drawn, too)

Now, Fort Funston is everything it's name implies-- it's this rustic stretch of coastline (that was once a military base) with miles of sand dunes, and adventure upon adventure for any puppy. You can wander along a lovely path through the dunes & plantlife, or you can hike down to the beach, watching happy dogs explore, sniff & play.

It was an amazing day-- the first I can remember since returning to San Francisco where I wasn't wearing a jacket, a scarf or mittens. It was warm and sunny, the waves were huge and the wind kicked up a nice spray from the water. I can't tell you how therapeutic sunshine is!

Now Gavin is happily napping, and I am preparing to join him (in my own bed-- we don't actually sleep with the dog) to recover from my big outing (the first time in a while I have been away from my bed for so long!). There's something much more acceptable about being sick in bed when you've just spent the morning on a sunny beach =)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Go to the Mattresses

According to Tom Hanks in "You've Got Mail", going to the mattresses means going to war.
The Godfather is the sum of all wisdom. The Godfather is the answer to any question.
-What should I pack for my summer vacation? "Leave the gun, take the cannoli."
-What day of the week is it? "Maunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday."
And the answer to your question is "Go to the mattresses."
You're at war. "It's not personal, it's business. It's not personal it's business." Recite that to yourself every time you feel you're losing your nerve. I know you worry about being brave, this is your chance. Fight. Fight to the death.

The fact that I am quoting "You've Got Mail" in my "I'm going to be a hard-ass, angry blog" nullifies any scary threats I could come up with, so I guess I won't even try.

The reason I'm going to the mattresses is that I got a letter from a collections agency for $744 for a credit card that I haven't used in years. At first, I thought it was fraudulent-- that someone was trying to get me to call in and give my information, and then steal my identity or something.

It turns out that $200+ charges were made on a credit card that I thought was canceled, and the interest has been piling up for years. The weird thing is that as the interest piled up, no letters ever came.

I spend several horrible hours this afternoon with the credit card company and the collections agency, holding back tears the whole time as they berated me with details and a lack of details (details on the dates of like 30 letters they supposedly sent that were somehow all mysteriously stolen from my mailbox, and a lack of details on where the original charge came from). It was so frustrating.

Just as I was about to fold and pay the money, I decided to do what any independent, self respecting woman would do: I called my mom for help. And she told me to do what any mature, thinking adult would do: call any friend I knew that was an attorney.

So, after having, um talked to my lawyer (gosh, that sounds so good!), I have decided that I am going to the mattresses. No giant credit card corporation is going to take me down! No shyster, slick talking scary collections agency is going to intimidate me! I'll break their knees! Yeah!

Okay, I honestly don't know if anything I say will work. I feel pretty trapped, but I also feel my sense of justice kicking into overdrive, and I am ready to fight tooth and nail for that $744.

Wish me luck. And if you know any lawyers, send 'em my way =)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I'm going on two weeks of being sick now. I'm so tired of sleeping, of laying around, of being stuck in my own sick thoughts (not sick like "dirty", sick like "I can't seem to hold one line of thought for more than about 15 seconds"). I've even gotten tired of complaining.

Being sick for a few days isn't so bad. Normal people call in sick from work and lie around the house guilt-free in their PJ's, reading books, watching movies, and sleeping like they were in college again (that is, until 1pm). It turns out, I am not a normal person.

Because work is at home (for the most part), it's really difficult to "call in sick". To make things worse, while I sit and moan on the couch, Chris sits at the computer working. It's such a buzz kill to have someone working all day in front of you when you're trying to be a sloth.

Every time I find a little once of energy, I find myself answering emails, planning things, and making pathetic attempts at creativity. I get nothing done, but I don't feel rested, either. It's like a vicious, sleepy cycle.

For some reason, I don't feel justified in actually relaxing. Maybe it's because I'm not throwing up-- I'm just achy, sniffly, and incredibly wiped out. Tonight, when Chris left me to go to my creativity workshop, I answered emails & worked.
I tried to read a depressing book on the fate of Africa for our Uganda trip, but I couldn't concentrate. I could be lying on the couch watching a chick flick, but somehow I feel guilty doing that. Instead, I'm huddled under a blanket, trying to squeeze out cohesive sentences onto a blog. Something is seriously wrong in my head.

So here I slouch, sharing my muddled, sick thoughts with the cyber world, hoping that someone will tell me to get off the computer and turn on Pride & Prejudice.

Help me.