Confused About Cooking

cooking

If my Grandma was reading this right now, she’d be rolling over in her grave. Or shaking around in her urn.

Gram was the best cook I ever met. She could cook anything from scratch, without a recipe — chicken noodle soup, pastas, cookies, nut rolls, blueberry pies and pancakes, the berries fresh-picked from her backyard. After she retired, she even volunteered to cook for the nuns at a nearby convent, and all the men who married into our family liked to say they gained at least twenty pounds the first few years of being around my Gram’s cooking. Any time someone asked for her advice on how much of a certain ingredient they should add to make their gravy or icing juuuuuust right, she’d shrug one shoulder, wave her hand, and say, “Enough,” then laugh when we stared at her, mystified.

Her daughter, my mom, can hold her own in the kitchen. While I don’t think she’s ever enjoyed cooking as much as my Gram did, and relies a little more on recipes, she can whip up delicious soups and stews, and makes a mean peach cobbler and melt-in-your-mouth brownies.

My younger sister is a whiz in the kitchen too. She’s not afraid to try new, exotic recipes, and anytime she decorates cookies or cupcakes, the end product looks like something you’d see on Pinterest.

But the cooking gene must have skipped me.

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Looking back, I never had any interest in observing my mom or Gram in the kitchen. I was always in awe of how they created a delicious finished product from the wide array of ingredients, but the thought of making something myself was too overwhelming. I guess you could say cooking made me anxious. Surprise, huh?

By the time I was a teenager, Mom would leave simple instructions for me to follow to get dinner started before she came home from work. Browning ground meat, chopping vegetables, boiling water for noodles. For the most part, I think I handled things well. But I do remember several occasions where I had to call her at work for some random disaster or clarification on a certain step.

Once I started working my first series of jobs after high school, I began to branch out a bit more with food prep. I had my own schedule that didn’t always jive with my parents’ dinner plans, so I took to making simple things like stir fry and chicken pasta. Aside from the one time I burned rice, everything turned out pretty much okay. (I burned the rice because I’d never seen anyone actually read directions for rice. I figured you just dump water in a pot, boil it, add rice til it’s fluffy. I didn’t realize there was a perfect rice to water ratio you had to adhere to).

But when I attempted to move to the intermediate level of cooking, things went awry. Cookie dough, cake batter, and sauces never seemed to be the right consistency and I didn’t know how to fix them. I inevitably, well, ruined, a roux any time I tried to make it. (Side note: I was approximately thirty years old before I knew what the word roux meant. My mom’s family, being 100% Slovak, called it “zaprashka.”). Regardless of what the stuff was called, I simply couldn’t pull it off. And somehow the amount of time and ingredients listed in recipes never seemed to work for me. I remember one time in particular when I wanted to cook a homemade meal for J for our very first anniversary in 2009. I found an “easy” recipe for Alfredo sauce made from scratch. It was only supposed to take something like twenty minutes. But somehow I was still scrambling, stirring, and sweating forty-five minutes later and was nearly in tears by the time J arrived.

Things did not improve when J and I got married and bought our house. For a long time, the most intimidating part of my day was making dinner. J was working night shift then, so I had no one to help me. There were (and still are) times that I avoided recipes all together because I had no idea what certain words or phrases meant. (ie: Blanch vegetables. Risotto. Shallot. Xanthan gum. Arborio rice. Majoram. Chutney. Quinoa. What does it mean to “prepare a baking sheet?” And how the hell do you get egg whites??) My feelings were that if I had to Google something, it was way over my head and I shouldn’t even bother attempting to cook it.

Over the years, my cooking has improved and I’ve become a tiny bit more adventurous. But there have been some doozies —

  • The time I tried to make heart-shaped sugar cookies for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple:
    cookies
  • A few weeks ago, when my mother-in-law gave me one of those “complete meal delivered to your house with step-by-step instructions.” The dinner was supposed to be steaks, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. The difficulty level was medium. Well. One hour, many tears, two panic attacks, and dozens of swear words later, all that was edible was the asparagus. The steaks were somehow simultaneously bloody and burned and I’d ruined my best pan in the process. Plus the mashed potatoes had only amounted to what I have dubbed lumpy potato water. I called my sister in a panic and I got so frustrated and confused while she was trying to help me that we ended up hanging up on each other and I ate cereal for dinner that night.
    mashed potatoes

pan

  • Most recently, for Christmas Eve, I decided to try an “easy” recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough dip. The total time was only listed as 5 minutes and there were only 6 ingredients. You didn’t even have to use an oven! I couldn’t screw that up, could I?
    Yes. Yes I could.
    Here’s what the dip was supposed to look like:

    photo & recipe courtesy of https://www.thecountrycook.net

    And here’s what mine looked like:

cookie dough

 

“How could something so simple go so wrong?” You ask. I’ll tell you!

First of all, I don’t have my own mixer. Because, you know, I can’t cook. So I asked to borrow my mom’s. “Just so you know, its only setting is ‘hyper.'” She warned.

Truer words.

So there I am, holding a bowl of softened butter and cream cheese in one hand and the mixer-on-steroids in the other while clumps of the mixture sprays all over my just-cleaned kitchen and the hoodie I bought in London, all the while thinking that one little slip of my hand is all it’s going to take for the beaters to cut my fingers into ribbons. I attempted to hand-mix the concoction, but the ingredients weren’t cooperating. For some reason I thought that adding the brown sugar and powdered sugar would help matters, but of course that only complicated things. After only a few stirs with my rubber scraper, I had greasy batter all over my hands, my hoodie, and the counter top, and granules of brown sugar embedded under my fingernails. The bag of powdered sugar was precariously perched on the edge of the sink, where a thin film of the white stuff had coated the silvery surface. Not to mention that prior to all this, I attempted to salvage five-year-old brown sugar from my canister on the counter but soon discovered it would only be removed with nothing short of a jackhammer. So chunks of said substance were crystallizing near the drain.

sink

In the end, my husband ended up finishing off the mixing, considering he was able to control psycho-mixer more effectively. Once the dip was finally a smooth consistency, I added the chocolate chips and attempted to clean up the bowl it occupied.

The dip tasted okay once paired with graham crackers, and luckily there were only a handful of people present for Christmas Eve, all of them understanding family. But I was still irritated that something supposedly so simple had turned complicated for me. And I also didn’t understand why mine looked like it could barely feed a toddler while the picture made it look like it could feed thirty people.

I’m not sure where I stand when it comes to cooking and baking. Sometimes I try things like vegetable lasagna and they turn out fantastic. Other times I fail epically at the simplest recipes.

All I know for sure is that if there is an afterlife, Gram is laughing hysterically.

 

 

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Some Updates!

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Hey, all!

Just wanted to send a quick note out to all of my readers and followers about a piece I recently had published that is very close to my heart. You can take the short cut  to my “portfolio” page if you’re short on time, and be sure to check out my updated my “about” page as well.
Quirky, Confused, & Curvy is more than a year old now and I wanted the blog to reflect more of my personality, as well as have a place to brag about the fact that I actually have had a few things published! If you have a few extra minutes (and a bit more curiosity), see below for the sentimental background behind this latest accomplishment …

Most people who know me know two things about me – that I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 11 years old, and that I have anxiety.
Both of these things have been with me most of my life. In my twenties, the writing ambition died a bit but the anxiety definitely thrived.
Over the last few years, I’ve worked really hard to get my anxiety under control and make writing a priority in my life. I’ve had a few pieces published since then but getting this acceptance email was extremely important to me.
Coming home to myself has been the most important thing I’ve ever done for my mental health and my writing. This article, kindly published by Heart and Humanity, tells about my journey.
Thanks for reading and please feel free to share. I hope this is only the beginning.

Let me know your thoughts, and if you’ve been a follower for a while or are new, thanks a million from the bottom of my heart!!

 

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So You Want to See a Therapist

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Someone close to me recently began seeing a therapist for the first time ever. The decision was made after years of contemplation, and helping this person through the process reminded me that deciding to see a professional can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially for anyone dealing with the demons of anxiety and depression.

Since I’ve been through this process myself at least half a dozen times, I wanted to share some insight into what I’ve learned about choosing a therapist and what to expect during your first few sessions.

(insert legal/common sense mumbo jumbo about how I’m not licensed or educated enough to give professional help or diagnoses).

If you’re depressed or anxious, the task of finding a therapist to help you through your junk can add to your stress or anxiety — it’s difficult to know where to start.

I found my own therapist at Psychology Today, which lets you search by zip code or city. Some employers also offer hotline numbers you can call or websites you can visit if you find yourself needing someone to talk to. You can also ask your PCP for recommendations, or a family member or friend who might have their own therapist.

(Side Note: If you live in the good ol’ US of A where quality healthcare often times seems as unattainable as dragon or unicorn, keep in mind that there are many therapists now who offer rates on a sliding scale. This means you pay based on how much money you make. This practice is becoming increasingly popular and is no longer limited to family or community health clinics like it was even ten years ago. If you do have insurance but your co-pays for “specialists” are outrageous, see if they’d be willing to offer you a “no insurance rate” which is often much cheaper. Do NOT let the inability to pay stop you from seeking help).

Since you’re bound to come across hundreds of names, I suggest narrowing it down to maybe 5-8 people close to where you live or work. Then whittle down your choices depending on whose office hours jive with your schedule and who accepts your insurance. Once you have it down to maybe 3-6 names, get out your pen and paper. (Yes, you’re going to have to do some homework).

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For me, nothing was more frustrating than doing all the leg work of finding a therapist, only to waste precious time and money sitting in their office and discovering that your personalities clash or you don’t find their methods effective. To curb this, I suggest jotting down a handful of questions to ask when you call a perspective counselor to set up your first appointment; treat it almost like a job interview. Here’s an example of what you can ask:

  • I’m dealing with (anxiety/depression/grief/PTSD). Do you have experience treating this particular issue?
  • What method of therapy do you offer? (Keep in mind some therapists simply listen to you talk/vent without saying much. Others are more hands on, doing things like hypnosis, reiki, or EMDR. Still others focus on coping mechanisms, positive thinking, and cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a good idea to do a quick Google search of different types of therapy so you can decide what appeals to you most).
  • If you’ve tried other treatments (or seen other therapists) in the past, make sure you tell the perspective new person. Explain what did or didn’t work for you and ask if they can offer something to supplement or build on what you’ve already learned.
  • Whether you’re already taking meds or thinking you may need to start, ask if they have an on-site psychiatrist who can write prescriptions or if there’s someone off-site they recommend.  While I don’t like doctors who just toss random pills down patients’ throats, I’m certainly not against meds, especially if its it’s in conjunction with therapy.

By now you should be able to narrow down your search to one or two professionals. I can usually tell if I’m going to jive with someone’s personality after a 5-10 minute phone conversation, and that usually makes me feel more confident going into the first appointment. When I was looking for an EMDR therapist a few years ago, the first few people I spoke to were actually a bit rude. Most of them couldn’t understand why I wanted to do EMDR therapy when I hadn’t experienced a tangible trauma like a car accident or something. But within ninety seconds of the first phone conversation I had with the woman who ended up being my current therapist, I knew I had struck gold. She just GOT me.

Hopefully the therapist you chose ends up being a good match. And although I totally understand that you want things to start improving, like, YESTERDAY, please try to be patient and understand that the process does not work that quickly. That being said, don’t waste a year of your life going to see someone who you don’t think is helping you. I’d suggest giving it at least 5 or 6 sessions before you decide whether or not to stay or find someone new. Finding a therapist is kind of like dating — you need to give the person a fair chance before you decide if you want pursue a future or not.

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Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind as you begin your therapy journey:

DO be honest and open. They can’t help you if you’re not being upfront.

DO ask questions if you don’t understand something they say or suggest.

DO speak up if you feel like you’ve reached a stand still or plateau at any point in your treatment. (And if this is the case, it’s 100% okay to tell your therapist that you’re going to seek someone new. You don’t have to do it in person; an email or voice mail is fine).

DON’T be afraid to cry (yes, guys, even you). They have tissues in their office for a reason.

DON’T hide anything. Your therapist has probably heard it all, so don’t be embarrassed by your thoughts or feelings.

DON’T be afraid to tell a therapist if you’re feeling worse. Sometimes feeling worse is part of the healing process since you’re uncovering all sorts of old junk, but it shouldn’t be so overwhelming that you’re even more depressed or anxious than you can handle.

Again, I’m not licensed to give any sort of professional advice on this sort of thing, but I’ve been through the ringer with therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists over the years, and I just wanted to pass on the information I’ve found useful. I hope this helps steer you in the right direction if you’re in the market for a therapist, whether it be your first time pursuing therapy or if you’re looking for someone new.

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The Liebster Award!

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Well I know it’s the season of giving, but two blogger awards in 2 weeks?! So exciting!

Thanks to just a bit further for the nomination. His posts are always insightful and calming and have plenty of pictures of beautiful places.

What is The Liebster Award all About?

The Liebster Award (Liebster is a German word that means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome) provides new bloggers with the opportunity of discovery, as well as to support and connect with the community of bloggers. Bloggers nominate fellow bloggers with this recognition.

The Rules of Liebster Award

  • Thank the person who nominated you and put a link to their blog on your blog.
  • Display the award on your blog.
  • For the Liebster Award 2018, write a small post about what makes you passionate about blogging.
  • Provide 10 random facts about yourself (optional).
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.
  • Create new questions for your nominees to answer.

*** Since I just did the Sunshine Blogger Award last week, I’m going to skip the 10 random facts and stick with the same list of nominees for other bloggers:

Endastories

Historian Ruby

K. Alice Compeau

Kesley Schmitt

MadMeg’s Musings

My Boyfriend is in India

Pointless Overthinking

Sadie Wolf Blog

Streaming Thru America

So what makes me passionate about blogging? Hmmmm. Well, I still consider myself relatively new to it, but I enjoy it more than I ever thought I would. Being dedicated to posting once a week has helped me maintain discipline as a writer as I work to get reacquainted with the writing world, and I love how welcoming everyone on WordPress has been so far. It also gives me a platform to write about what matters most to me or something that’s been on my mind for awhile. Sometimes I feel like what I think, how I feel, or what I write about is weird or stupid or meaningless, but blogging about it helps me reach other people and identifying with a stranger is always reassuring.

I will, however, answer the questions posed to me in just a bit further’s post since I love answering random questions and taking surveys.

Here are my questions:

  1. How did you pick your blog’s name? I wanted something that told readers a little bit about me and what my blog is all about. Basically I’m a quirky, curvy girl who is often confused about a lot of things in this world.
  2. What advice can you give someone who is just starting out in the blogging world? I always have the same answer to this question  – don’t obsess over technical junk. I let my lack of knowledge about a lot of things hold me back for a long time, but all you have to do is just write.
  3. What is your perfect comfort food? Oh, Lord. It depends on what day it is. But I love chocolate in any form.
  4. Who is your favourite blogging person you follow? And why? Hmmmm this is a tough one! Refer to my list of recommended blogs. They all have such different attributes!
  5. Describe yourself in three words. Quirky, Confused, and Curvy (insert wink emoji here)
  6. What is your guiltiest pleasure? I don’t watch much TV, but the stuff I do watch could be considered questionable — Teen Mom, Ink Master, and Top Model to name a few
  7. What is your most prized possession? Not to be a Debbie Downer, but my friend just lost everything she owns (including her 2 dogs) in a house fire so I’m just going to say my home.
  8. What single quality do you most appreciate in people? Being real — no pretense, no drama, no ulterior motives.
  9. What do you love most about blogging? connecting with others.
  10. What’s the favourite post that you’ve published? (Link, please!) I talked about my favorite blog post in the Sunshine Blogger Award so I think I’m going to go with my second favorite where I talk about our best day we had on our trip to London back in October.

As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for another award!

 

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Sunshine Blogger Award!

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Oh yay! Another blogger award! These are always exciting and fun, and the Sunshine Blogger Award may be the most sun us Pittsburghers will see for three months . . .

Shout out to Rust Belt Girl for the nomination!

Award rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.

2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.

3. Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

4. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.

5. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

  1. If you could live in a book setting, where would that be? I’m going to be really boring (or just use the opportunity for shameless self-promotion) and say the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which is where my novel Rum Lovers takes place. It is my favorite place on earth though and plenty of books take place there, so OBX it is.
  2. The best kept secret about your town or city? Pittsburgh’s diversity. Everyone knows us as the “City of Champions” because of our sports teams and the fact that we used to produce steel. But we are SO much more than that. We have a huge arts and music scene. A ton of  places for outdoor adventures like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and swimming. Dozens of museums. Great libraries and universities. Unique food and independently owned restaurants. Fascinating history. We even kind of have our own language!
  3. What do you hope 2019 holds for your blog? A few new followers would be nice, but probably my biggest hope for now is being invited to guest post for someone else.
  4. Are you a blogger who writes or a writer who blogs? A writer who blogs. My focus has always been fictional novels, but I’m really having a lot of fun and learning a ton writing creative nonfiction and blogging.
  5. Your favorite singer/songwriter or band? This is SUCH a hard question for me, considering I like pretty much everything from Mozart and Broadway musicals to Greta Van Fleet and Christina Aguilera. Right now I’m on a huge Ed Sheeran kick. LOVE that Ginger. And he’s even more amazing live than he is on his records.
  6. Cake or pie? I’m a curvy girl. Gimme both.
  7. Favorite blogging or writing advice? As far as blogging goes, don’t get wrapped up in all the technical junk like SEO and fancy widgets. Just write.
  8. One thing you want your blog followers to know about you? They have no idea how absolutely thrilled I am that strangers on the internet like and comment on something that’s come out of my own head and heart. It really means the world to me.
  9. Which is better–a lotta likes or a few comments? hmmm, probably comments. I like reading and I love talking so the more comments, the merrier!
  10. Your favorite blog post of yours? Go ahead, brag it out!  Probably this one where I talk about a dual-surprise birthday party for two of my great uncles — one turned 90 and the other 70.
  11. Your favorite image on your blog–either yours, or credit someone else? Definitely this amazing picture of my Gram and her nine siblings, which went along with the blog post mentioned above. We think my Gram is the one in the dead center with the rounded collar and chin-length hair. (one of the kids is unidentified – probably a neighbor).Hlavach

Now for my nominees:

Endastories

Historian Ruby

Just a Bit Further

K. Alice Compeau

Kelsey Schmitt

MadMeg’s Musings

My Boyfriend is in India

Pointless Overthinking

Sadie Wolf Blog

Streaming Thru America

 

And my 11 questions:

  1. How did you come up with the name for your blog?
  2. Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:
  3. Read any good books lately?
  4. What is one fact about yourself that people always have a hard time believing?
  5. What’s the last thing you bought for yourself?
  6. Do you have a favorite blog post you wrote or favorite creative “thing” you’ve done? (painting, knitting, running a marathon, etc).
  7. What’s your earliest memory?
  8. What was your first job?
  9. Mountains or oceans?
  10. Goals for 2019?
  11. Have you always wanted to be a blogger/writer or is it something you stumbled upon?

Thanks again for reading, sharing, and nominating!

 

Meet my Mom!

Hello readers! Today’s post is one very close to my heart because I’m going to tell you all about my number one fan — my mom.

Now this isn’t your typical “my mom brought me into this world and has always believed in me” post. While my mom has of course always been there for me from the day I was a tiny newborn to that time a few years ago when my bathtub leaked through my ceiling, there’s something even more extraordinary about my mom that I feel needs to be shared with as many people as possible — the fact that I almost lost her quite a few times.

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me & mom, probably sometime 1985

When I was about six years old, my mom was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Polyarteritis Nodosa (or PAN). In my mom’s case, the disease seriously damaged blood vessels in her kidneys. The doctors expected that she’d be forced to start dialysis within a few short years. But my mom didn’t like that prognosis, so she sought out other opinions, started taking extra care of herself, and somehow managed to set her mind to the utmost positive she could manage. I grew up never really thinking my mom was “sick” – she continued to work full-time until I was 18, cooked all our meals, read us bedtime stories, and went on vacations. During these years, she had her share of setbacks and complications, luckily none of them serious.
But right around the same time I graduated high school (and my Pap – her dad — passed away), Mom’s kidney function function started declining again. She was forced to quit her job, and two summers later, had no choice but to start going to dialysis three days a week.

From 2005 to early 2015, Mom drove herself to the dialysis clinic and sat patiently while a machine performed the duties her body no longer could. In these nine years, she had countless procedures and surgeries related to the dialysis itself, as well as all the other health issues that go along with PAN and kidney disease, like low and high blood pressure, thyroid problems, and neuropathy, which primarily affected her feet and made it difficult to walk. Still she insisted on driving herself as often as she could to maintain her independence.
Then in 2010, an infection of her peritoneal cavity spiraled out of control and landed her in the hospital for three months. We spent most of October through January at the hospital, including the ICU, wondering if this was the end and if Mom had finally had enough.
But like she had countless times before, Mom came back to us. She spent another several weeks in a rehabilitation facility considering she was so weak she could barely roll over in bed under her own strength, and finally came home mid-January 2011, just in time to see me get engaged.

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mom & me, summer 2002ish?

 

Somehow through nine difficult years, Mom maintained her positive thinking and trusted that she would one day get a transplant. Then one random night in January 2015, she got the call from her transplant coordinator that a kidney was on its way to Pittsburgh from California.
Mom underwent yet another long, complicated surgery, and we were thrilled when the surgeon and her regular doctors were overwhelmingly optimistic from the get go. Mom was dialysis-free within a few months, and nearly four years later, her kidney is still functioning properly.
While she still has some residual health problems, Mom is miles from where she used to be. And the best part is that she doesn’t have to rely on dialysis as a form of life support anymore.
That being said, Mom still has to take a slew of anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life. Even with insurance and Medicare, out-of-pocket expenses can be overwhelming — to the tune of around $1200 a month. At the bottom of this post, I’ll share a link to an amazing organization that helps patients like my mom cover these costs, so if you’d like to help, even a little bit, she would greatly appreciate it.

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me & mom dancing at my wedding in 2013

 

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Mom & Dad dancing to Brown Eyed Girl at my wedding, 2013

I don’t want this post to be one hundred percent about Mom’s health problems. While her medical issues are a big part of her life and our family’s life, they don’t define her as a person — unless you count the strength and resilience she’s showed time and time again. But Mom is so much more than her kidney disease. She loves traveling, especially to the beach, and loves all aspects of nature, namely bird-watching and anything to do with horses. She even took an equine massage certification a few years before her health took a turn for the worst. Mom is also a big reader, a good swimmer, and an awesome cook. When she was still working, she was a legal secretary, and a damn good one at that.

Her professional skills carried over into her personal life at times, like whenever she had to write strongly-worded letters to companies and doctors offices about unfair or downright wrong treatment. And I distinctly recall her encouraging me to write my own very first strongly-worded letter to Lisa Frank Company when I was about eight years old and my brightly-colored mid-nineties-style binder fell apart only a few weeks into the school year.

Mom has always encouraged reading, writing, and imagination for as long I can remember. She read me and my sister countless stories when we were growing up, and was always in awe of our imaginations whenever we played as kids.  When I started writing short little stories around age 9 or 11, she made sure I knew how cool it was and encouraged me to keep at it. Now, she’s the first one to offer to proofread and edit anything I write, and the first to post all over Facebook anytime I get any sort of recognition for said writing.

The fact that my mom has been encouraging me to pursue my writing dreams for as long as I can remember means the world to me. But maybe the only thing that overshadows her unending support is the fact that she’s also a huge inspiration for how to live life in general — to always get up one more time than you’ve fallen, and never let anything break your spirit.

Mom’s 60th birthday is on December 18th, and I’m excited to see what she does her with new lease on life over the next few decades. If you’re inspired by this amazing woman like I am and have some cash to spare, please consider donating to help pay for her lifesaving anti-rejection drugs so she can continue to live life to its fullest. And thank you, from the bottom of my family’s hearts!

https://helphopelive.org/campaign/6356/

 

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Quirky, Confused, & Clumsy??

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When I first started this blog, I toyed with the idea of including the word “clumsy” in its title. I wanted the site to reflect my most obvious traits, and clumsiness is definitely something I come by honestly. And quite frequently. But being clumsy can be rather embarrassing, and curvy sounded better, so Quirky, Confused, & Curvy I became. Still, I assure you that clumsiness is still very much a part of my almost daily life, so I wanted to share a hilarious story from many years ago that still makes people laugh today.

Back in December 2007, I was working as a receptionist at my first full-time job. I had been employed by the forklift dealership for about six months and was feeling quite comfortable and proud of myself for securing my place in the “real world.” One day I was filing documents in a narrow “L” shaped hallway towards the back of the building. I filed one folder in the lowest drawer of the end cabinet and thought I closed said drawer all the way. But a few minutes later, when I returned to the same cabinet and opened the top drawer, the thing tipped over and knocked the nearby fire extinguisher off the wall.

Now. It would have been bad enough if the cabinet had just spilled hundreds of documents all over the floor in a pile of unorganized miscellany. But when the fire extinguisher was knocked over, it hit the tile floor and went off. Considering the forklift dealership was chock full of diesel engines and such on the other side of the very wall where I stood, the extinguisher was not full of the typical white foamy stuff, but instead a yellow powdery substance. In a matter of seconds, the entire hallway was engulfed in a cloud of yellow dust. It quickly spread to every cubicle and every surface in that wing of the office. Since I was standing so close to where it had happened, my clothes, hair, and face were coated in yellow. I even breathed some of it in, which tasted like chemical saw dust. Yum.

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Once HR confirmed that no one was hurt, they sent me home so I could shower, change, and lick my wounds. While I was wallowing on my couch in embarrassment and wondering if I was going to get fired for destroying a facility that had been standing since the mid-forties, I got a call from the president of the company asking if I was okay and telling me all that mattered was that I didn’t get hurt. He affectionately called me “Crash,” then told me to take it easy for the rest of the day and that he’d see me tomorrow.

Going to work the next day was mortifying. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t in any trouble, but at least six of my co-workers had to temporarily relocate their offices and a disaster-clean up team had to be called in to extract the yellow powder from the carpets and the air vents.

A few months later, I ended up being promoted to the sales department secretary, and spent four years working for the dealership. I made plenty of good friends at the company and learned lots of valuable life and workplace lessons, but no one ever let me forget my infamous incident with the fire extinguisher.