What a year it has been for all of us! I’m hoping 2021 will be an improvement and things will start to get better by Spring, but I won’t hold my breath (with this new strain of COVID and the entire restaurant/hospitality industry in shambles, shit might get a lot worse before it gets better). I’m just thankful I am still here, having survived a mild case of COVID, my friends and family are all healthy, my boyfriend’s parents are healthy, and I am still gainfully employed (for now…. ).
I thought my senses of smell and taste had fully returned after my October bought of Corona-virus, but for some reason I am now smelling a phantom smell of wood smoke 24/7. It started when I was at my parent’s house for Christmas – they have a wood stove, and I thought there was a back-draft because even in the bedroom at the opposite end of the house, I was smelling smoke. Well, I am back in my Brooklyn apartment and I still smell wood smoke, even in the absence of a fire. I guess there are worse phantom smells I could be smelling. I am hoping that eventually my senses will return to normal one day soon. There are obviously much worse things that could have happened to me with this virus, but I feel I am starting to go insane when I can’t focus on anything but the smoke I am smelling that’s not actually there.
Christmas was quiet one, but I was thankful to be home with my family for several days, instead of just the 48 hours I usually seem to have with them for Christmas (it was the first year in 8 years that my boyfriend didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve… what a treat….). We spent Christmas day at my parent’s house with my sister’s family, and had breakfast and dinner together. It was nice to stay home and not have to cart a bunch of presents and hot dishes elsewhere for the larger family dinner we would normally have. The next day, once the rain and snow had stopped, temps dropped to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the windchill made it feel like 12 degrees, but that didn’t stop us from getting together with my mom’s side of the family for a 3-hour outdoor get-together. It was frigid, but we had a fire and hot beverages and certainly made the most of it.
I wish I could post quality videos here, but the quality is always compromised. I saved all of my Christmas pictures and videos of deer, the big snow fall, and peaceful mornings upstate to my Instagram highlight reel titled “Winter 2020” (in case you need some bucolic scenery in your life).
Anyhow, here we are on the last day of 2020. I would say good-riddance, but 2020 had a few perks. It was nice to have an excuse to say ‘no’ to people more often, regarding social functions etc. Before this year, I was constantly feeling burnt-out and never had any real down-time. Any time not spent working I felt like I had to engage in social functions or hanging out with friends, even when what I really needed was some quiet time to myself. It has always been hard for me to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty, but this year’s emphasis on self-care really opened my eyes. It’s OK to do nothing sometimes.
With that being said though, I think I’ve had enough quiet time now, and cannot wait to go to a mega-concert or a rave. I miss being surrounded by happy, united people – all sweaty and smiling, having fun and enjoying themselves. That is what I miss the most. I hope that by summer 2020 we can all attend concerts and big parties again.
I never keep my New Year’s resolutions, and the resolutions I made last year were pretty much impossible to keep with the global pandemic and lock-downs happening worldwide (ex. “travel more”….. RIGHTTTT). This year, I’m sticking to resolutions that won’t be influenced by outside forces, and also giving myself some leniency!
My New Year’s Resolutions:
Stop drinking alcohol (will make exceptions for social occasions such as birthdays, holidays, and romantic dinners out (if those ever happen again….)).
Go *mostly* vegan (will make exceptions for bivalve-mollusks, farm-fresh eggs (i.e. eggs picked up directly from the farm where I can see the chickens for myself), and from time-to-time, cheese (if it is a special occasion and good-quality cheese)).
Get out for a walk each and every day, no matter what (2.5 miles minimum).
Write more often.
Save more money (should be easier to do since we still can’t have social lives, and also since I won’t be spending money on wine and booze).
That’s it. These should be fairly easy goals to stick to for me, minus the daily walking, which can be difficult when the weather is shitty or if I get stuck working a 15-hour day (which has sadly happened a few times over the course of this year).
Cheers to healthy, happy and prosperous New Year – let’s hope 2021 is even a fraction better than 2020 has been!
Can you believe I started writing this blog a month ago and never finished? I sure as hell can. It’s been forever (what’s new?). This year is almost over, and the sad reality of a COVID Christmas season is upon us. I know I thought I had corona virus back in March, but I guess I was mistaken, because I actually tested positive for Corona last month, in October. Cheers fam. I survived unscathed… apart from the fact that four weeks later, I can still barely taste or smell. But if that’s the small price to pay for not being critically ill, well by God I’ll take it! So yeah, if you follow me on Instagram and wonder why I haven’t been cooking as much, it’s because for the last few weeks I haven’t been able to taste or smell ANYTHING. You could have held dog shit or the world’s most expensive perfume under my nose a couple of weeks ago, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference because I wouldn’t have smelled either. As far as taste, that is also coming back. Two weeks ago I could only taste extreme salt or sugar. I couldn’t taste spicy though or sour. I could eat chocolate or Nutella and it would just taste sweet, but not chocolaty. I still can’t really smell or taste coffee. Thankfully, my sense of smell of taste and smell are slowly coming back… SLOWLY.
Leading up to my positive diagnoses, I had a slightly elevated temperature and felt a bit “off” for about a week prior, but I thought it was the change of seasons. Honestly, a common cold would normally include worse symptoms than what I experienced. My throat didn’t hurt, but felt a little “tight.” Kind of like when you first turn the A.C. on when summer hits. I had no body aches, no cough, no real fever (my temp was like 100 degrees one day, but I thought it was because I was hungover). I knew that I needed to go get tested though, when I lost my sense of smell and taste one night… since normally I have the sensory capabilities of a bloodhound (I can usually smell if someone had one drink 6 hours ago and what the neighbor two floors down is cooking). I went to a walk in clinic knowing I was going to test positive, and sure enough I did.
Needless to say, I wasn’t very hungry for the first couple of weeks that I couldn’t smell or taste, and much to my entertainment, I lost a few pounds. This was the only upside. Sadly, after I tested negative, I went home to watch my sister’s kids for five days (like all day and overnight… not just “babysitting”), on top of also working from home. The stress of this arrangement caused me to senselessly binge eat for five days straight and gain back all the weight I’d lost plus some. I can never win. I am honestly just thankful that I didn’t pass the virus onto my sister or to my niece and nephew, because they are the only people that I hung out with (other than my live-in boyfriend) for the week leading up to my diagnosis. I am also thankful that I lost my sense of smell and taste, otherwise I might have never gotten tested and unknowingly passed it onto my parents.
SIDE NOTE (after watching kids and basically being a single mom for 5 days):
If you are reading this and you are a mom, I applaud you. Legit props to any mothers out there, especially working moms. I don’t know how you do it, because I was ready to off myself numerous times throughout each day that I watched two kids, and I was so damn tired each night that it was honestly all I could do just to scroll through Instagram after the kids were finally asleep. Kids and motherhood are a beautiful thing for some people, but I’ve decided I am NOT cut out for that life. Furthermore, we all know that moms do like 90+ percent of the work when it comes to child-rearing and keeping the house clean and running functionally, so like, extra extra props to all of you.
Anyhow, despite this last month that is both a total blur and a total shit-show, I’ve still been cooking (just not regularly posting what I cook). Because I have been cooking for so long now, I know how much of and which seasonings and ingredients to add, regardless of whether or not I can actually taste/enjoy the finished meal. It’s a true gift…. possibly the only thing I was gifted with in this life, besides my twisted sense of humor.
I don’t think that we are going home for Thanksgiving this year do to COVID cases picking back up and my boyfriend’s work schedule (and mine). It’s honestly not that tragic for me. Having worked a few years of retail in the past, I’ve missed a couple of Thanksgivings in my life, and I can honestly say that there are some upsides. I won’t have to dodge questions about why I don’t have any turkey on my plate. I also won’t end up binge eating for 4-days straight, which is usually what happens on any given weekend spent home (the stress of being with family, coupled with the availability of my favorite snacks, paired with the boredom of being in a rural town always sends me into a tailspin…). Honestly, missing Christmas is much more tragic… I’m hoping that doesn’t happen.
Also, my sister and her family will be overseas, so that really takes away from the joy and excitement (kids really do make holidays better…my mom wasn’t lying). I think I’ll do a vegetarian or pescatarian Thanksgiving for just me and my boyfriend here in the city. I will plan to make all of the sides (mashed potatoes, *mushroom* gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, etc.) and then do either a fo-turkey, or lobster or scallops as the main dish. I mean, you can’t pour mushroom gravy over seafood, but l’ll improvise and adjust all the dishes once I know for sure what the game plan is. My favorite Thanksgiving dishes were always stuffing and green bean casserole – both of which I have perfected in the art of making vegan, so that’s a done deal.
As the pandemic drags on into the 10th month, and winter is fully upon us, the outlook seems bleak. The days are shorter, and we have complete night by 4:30pm each day. The impending doom of another shutdown/lock-down is also making anxiety and stress levels go up across the world. With everything being so dismal, it is important to take time out (when we can) and take care of ourselves (to the extent we can). I mean, if I was really taking care of myself, I’d probably need to see a therapist weekly, start hitting the gym, and stop drinking wine. But, alas… since these things aren’t possible in the time being, I resort to long baths and painting my nails. One of the worst things about the entire last ten months has been the fact that none of us (most of us) don’t really have anything to look forward to (or so it seems).
It’s hard finding motivation to take care of yourself when you aren’t regularly seeing people or socializing. I find myself asking “what is the point?” more often than not. I miss being able to have future plans that I looked forward to – concerts, travel, parties, etc.. I know that these will come back one day (hopefully sooner than later), but in the meantime, I honestly don’t know what to look forward to, because even weekends kind of suck now.
Anyhow. The way things are going, I am prepared for a very emo holiday season. Christmas is normally my favorite time of the year. This year is not looking so bright or merry with cases picking up all over the globe and everything shutting down again. Things were so promising for a few months – why the fuck couldn’t we keep it that way?! I’ll tell you why – because we got careless and sloppy and now we are all paying the price (myself included in this demographic).
I am scared about getting laid-off if things haven’t improved by early next year. I am also scared about another shutdown of restaurants/bars here in NYC, since my boyfriend and most of my friends are working in the hospitality industry, and have either been out of work for months, or will be out of work again. Scary fucking times ‘yo. But honestly, what can we do? I guess all we can do is take it day by day and to appreciate the little things in this life. Or, rather, appreciate the important things.
If you have a roof over your head (even if you’re scared of losing it in a couple of months), food in your fridge and in your belly, a small network of friends or a family who you know will help you out when times are tough, and if you are healthy, you are doing better than most of the world. Be thankful for all of these things that you might regularly take for granted. The worse this world gets, and the more uncertain my future is, the more thankful I am for even the things I used to take for granted (my health, my *sometimes dysfunctional* family, the people who love me unconditionally, having food to eat, etc.).
I’d like to start this blog off by acknowledging how lucky I am – I am still employed and able to work from home (for now… that may all change in the coming months), I have a roof over my head and food in my cupboards, I am healthy (physically-speaking… mentally, not so much), my family and friends are healthy, I’m not working from home while trying to parent/educate my children at the same time, and I am not a health care worker or food-service worker who has to put my own health at risk each and every day. Shout out to everyone still going to work each day in the health industry, food-service industry, or whatever line of retail or service industry that has you leaving your house to deal with the general public – you’re the real MVPs.
However, this quarantine, now that it has been extended another month, and the state of the world in general has made me feel extremely depressed, and has me wondering what the purpose of life is, if things will ever really get better, and feeling like nothing really matters.
I have lost interest in things that brought me joy, like cooking (food shopping and cooking isn’t nearly as exciting as it was when I was trapped in an office all day and looking forward to coming home and unwinding by cooking something labor-intensive and exciting), writing (I started 3 different blog drafts about three weeks ago, finished none, and haven’t logged back onto WordPress until now), and painting (no inspiration whatsoever). I feel trapped inside this apartment, trapped inside my mind, and I don’t even have a date to or event or anything to look forward to to keep me motivated. It’s really hard to stay positive when you don’t even know when quarantine will end, or if things will ever go back to being even remotely close to how they were.
Will we ever be able to go to concerts or festivals again? Will restaurants and clubs and bars be the same when this is over? Will we constantly be anxiously awaiting the next pandemic or disaster? Even when this pandemic ends, there is still global warming and all of the shit that entails to deal with.
I’ve tried to keep myself active by getting out for walks, if not daily, at least every other day. They seem to help while I am on them, but after I return to my apartment and the high of walking 4 miles wears off, the depression sets in again.
It’s a struggle not binge-eating because there is nothing else to do BUT eat, and I constantly have an empty void inside my soul that needs to be filled with something – whether that something is shopping, cooking, fun activities, or now, food. If I eat too much than I get more stressed than ever, since I am not getting nearly the amount of physical activity I was when I was going into the office each day. I’m not trying to body shame anyone, but the last thing I am going to deal with on top of all of this other shit is hating my body, since I have to live in it and see it every day.
I miss my family and not knowing when I can go see them again without the fear that I might be carrying the virus and infect someone unintentionally. I mean, I could get in a car tonight and drive upstate to stay with my parents, but that is not what we are supposed to do, and like I said, I might possibly and unintentionally get someone sick if I have been exposed to the virus.
My boyfriend and I haven’t been to Italy together since August/September 2018. We were looking forward to a trip this summer to spend time with his parents in Venice and to see his friends and travel to other countries for our own pleasure, and now all of that is not only on hold, but we don’t even know when travel bans will be lifted. It’s just really stressful and anxiety provoking not to know what the future holds. We cannot even make plans so that we have something to look forward to when all of this ends.
My skin has been breaking out terribly, probably from a combination of stress and poor eating habits (excess sugar, excess fats, excess dairy in the form of cheese…). This in turn makes me even MORE STRESSED and fucking crazy. I am trying to remain calm, but it’s kind of hard to do with this current state of affairs. My skin is inflamed and aggravated with ugly, red, painful zits all over my cheeks and chin. It is definitely a combination of hormonal acne and wearing a fucking mask every day when I go to run an errand or take a walk. By the way – I know all of this is trivial bullshit compared to what others are dealing with and going through right now. I know that this is trivial bullshit… but it still fucking blows.
I wish I had a yard to sit in and to take in some fresh air, sans-mask. I wish I had some woods to walk in or a lake to take a paddle boat or canoe out on, or just anything other than these ugly, grey, dirty NYC streets.
I’m really trying to stay positive because I know having a positive mindset is everything… it’s just really hard right now. Work has slowed to a crawl… which is scary but I also have more time to take an afternoon walk. I guess only time will tell. In the mean time, I am trying to focus on the things I can control… like staying semi-healthy and fit.
I’m sure many of you reading this feel the exact same way that I do right now, but holy shit… what a time to be alive!! Am I right?! As if the last few years haven’t been mentally and emotionally taxing enough given the current political environment, global warming, mass extinction, catastrophic natural events, threats of war, and impending societal collapse, it now feels like we’re all living in some surreal world, or, rather, in one of the many apocalyptic movies that came out between 2006 – 2016.
We’ve basically reverted back to medieval plague times – I feel like Beetlejuice when he makes the joke about having ‘lived through the black plague and had a pretty good time during that.’ All I can do to stay sane right now, is keep cracking inappropriate jokes and making memes about Coronavirus. I know this virus isn’t a joke, but we’ve basically shut down the entire world, the economy is crashing and isn’t going to be able to recover for a long time, many are losing their jobs and sources of income (depending on the industry they work in), and people are going insane stockpiling supplies and food like they’re anticipating nuclear fallout! It’s the insanity of the media whipping everyone into a crazed frenzy that is going to lead to the most devastation, I believe.
How is it that people have gone so far off the deep end, that grocery store shelves are empty, and psychos are fighting over packs of toilet paper and hand-sanitizer? This is everything that is wrong with our world, and more specifically our country today. This is why the world is going down the toilet. I understand the immense pressure being placed on the healthcare system and hospitals and healthcare workers right now, and the lack of testing and resources – it’s a major issue, and certainly one that the U.S. should be panicking about and enacting cautions around (i.e. recommending people to stay at home and cancelling concerts and events). But how is hoarding toilet paper going to help with that?
I am worried about the elderly and those with compromised immune systems as much as the next person. I feel sympathy for anyone who has already lost a family member or loved one due to this virus. I worry about my boyfriend’s parents in Venice, and my own parents upstate. The fact that there is now a travel ban in place is what really makes me nervous though – what if we needed to go to Italy to take care of his parents???? It’s crazy to think that weddings, funerals and births have all been affected, postponed, or not gone as expected as a result of the travel bans in place and red-zoning happening around Europe.
I’ve still been commuting from my apartment in Brooklyn into my office in Manhattan all week. The subways have been empty and the streets quiet, not only because of people working from home, but also for the lack of tourists. It took my company until today to recommend that we all work remotely, starting on Monday. I was excited at the prospect of this a couple of months ago when I first started reading about Coronavirus, but now? Not so much. I like having routine in my life, and I’m scared if I am home I will be bored and binge eat and start fights with my boyfriend. I honestly don’t care if I get the virus, I know that I will be fine. I understand the reason we’re all going into quarantine mode, working remotely, and avoiding public gatherings is to stop the spread of the virus, and to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. It is also an attempt to not overwhelm our already-fragile healthcare system. But the media really does seem to be going overboard.
This virus is really making class disparity all the more visible. People who have the capacity to work from home (‘white collar’ jobs, so to speak), have been doing so for over two weeks now. In my own office, all of the partners haven’t come into the office in about two weeks time, as they have the luxury of working from home. Retail workers and workers in the hospitality industry (hostesses, servers, dishwashers, line cooks, bartenders, managers, etc.) have no such luxury, unless they’re working in the corporate sector of their respective industry. They have to show up to a brick-and-mortar store or restaurant to work their shift, and on top of that, be exposed to a rotating cast of the general public who patronize their venue. Same goes for teachers, gym instructors, dog-walkers, nurses, daycare workers, construction crews, etc.. People who are financially well off enough have been taking Ubers or other car services into work so as to avoid the subway or public buses. Most people can’t afford to take private cars into and from the office each day. Now that everyone has seen what happened in Italy, with towns being locked-down, those who have secondary homes are fleeing NYC to go to the countryside, so they don’t get stranded here in the event that no one is allowed out or in.
What about the rest of us poor slobs? I guess we’re just left exposed to extra germs and carrying on as usual. I walked to work a couple of days this week, just because I am ambitious and enjoy walking, but what about everyone who has been mandated to come into an office or restaurant or retail store, and has had no option but to ride a train or subway or take a bus? I feel especially bad for gig workers – the babysitters, personal trainers, tutors, pet-sitters, etc. of the world who have had jobs/gigs cut since everyone who employs them currently has reduced need for them. We live in a society where 78% of the population lives paycheck to paycheck. Unless the government steps in with stipends or some sort of compensation, how will these people pay for rent and food and medical expenses? Especially considering that the majority of gig workers do not have insurance….
Maybe this will be part of the wake-up call that Americans need regarding the need for universal healthcare and/or childcare.
If this city does get shut down, I have approximately 1 large sack of white rice, 1 bag of oats, 1 bag of split peas, 1 bag of lentils, a couple boxes of pasta, and 2 rolls of TP (TP = toilet paper, for those of you who didn’t already know that) to see me through a quarantine. Hopefully, in the event that I am housebound for a few weeks, I’ll come out looking ‘as thin as a needle,’ to quote Britney Spears. I also hope to come out on the other side with better skin, since I will be getting way more sleep if I don’t have to commute into work each morning. I’m looking on the bright side here guys….
Maybe the Illuminati sold our entire world/human population to aliens, and they need us all to be complacent and contained when the aliens touch-down their UFOs to enslave us next week. We will all be like sitting ducks, trapped in our homes and cities when the alien takeover occurs.
Just kidding with the above. I’m not really one for conspiracies, but I am pretty sure this virus was intentionally released or accidentally released from a lab in China. I don’t doubt that. I don’t really know what to think or how to feel in today’s world, honestly. Anything is possible. I put nothing past anyone or any government.
In the event that “they” tell us not to leave our residences (like they have recently enacted in certain cities in Italy – Venice, included), I think I may go insane. If I can’t get fresh air and some physical activity, I risk going off the deep end.
I hope everyone out there (all five of you who read this), and everyone’s family and friends are staying safe and healthy during this trying time! Hopefully it will be over soon and we can all resume life as usual.
I started writing this post like two or three months ago (I want to say right around Thanksgiving), before Australia had totally burned to the ground and before Trump decided to provoke Iran, thus destroying any chance we have at all for a future. Let’s be honest here, I don’t think humanity is going to make it another five years.
Since this post was initially written, the holidays have come and gone, the New Year has arrived, and I have decided to stop buying fast fashion, or any new clothes at all… yes, I will continue wearing the same damn shoes until I receive warnings from HR about how my foot odor is offending people at work.
I have also decided to become a vegan (not sure how long I can last without cheese or eggs, but I will try), and give up alcohol and other illegal substances. I am also going to try to be more consistent with this blog. Cheers, kids.
Daydreaming about Robbie Williams….
TIPS FOR SURVIVING A RECESSION (Blog entry from November, 2019):
I wanted to write this blog a few months ago when I started reading about another oncoming recession all over the news. I figured I have some viable tips for those of you who were too young to really experience the recession of 2008 firsthand, or those of you who weren’t affected the first time around (consider yourselves very lucky). I survived the great recession of 2008 – just barely though: I haven’t touched my student loan debt, I don’t own a house nor can I afford to, I work just to pay bills, I throw money to the wind each month, renting an apartment I will never own, and at this rate (and given a number of other extraneous factors such as global warming, imminent nuclear war / terrorist attacks at the hands of Iran, and societal collapse on the horizon…) I doubt I will ever have children. C’est la vie…. at least I’ve got my cats.
Anyhow, I’m currently sitting here browsing slutty clothes and 7-inch platform boots on DollsKill.com. Hey – life is short, and no matter what, I’m not going to be able to afford a house or kids, so I might as well purchase some cheap thrills while I’m still semi-young (not that I’m young) and decent looking (not that I am that either). I can honestly say I never spend money on lunch or coffee… I don’t even eat lunch. I think I deserve some frivolous party shoes once or twice a year to compensate. The press is always bitching about Millennials wasting money on Starbucks and avocado toast, but when you’re $50K in the hole with no future in sight, you kind of have to live in the moment and treat yourself to the tiny luxuries that you CAN afford. If we never went out for a night of drinks once every month, or bought a new winter coat we desperately need, our quality of life would be even more miserable than it already is, just trying to save and pay our bills.
I digress though. I graduated in 2011 when the recession was at its’ worst and the unemployment rate at its highest. The times were basically rock bottom in terms of available jobs/work. I have two worthless degrees in fashion merchandising and theatre. I still sometimes hate myself for not swallowing my pride and my passions, and just going to school for engineering or to become a doctor. At least then I would have a lucrative career. JK…. I would never. I’d rather continue to struggle and live paycheck to paycheck with enough time to still pursue some of my passions on the side (i.e. this blog, a social life, cooking, my cats, etc.).
When I graduated, and I’m speaking generally here, one was lucky to even find a part-time RETAIL job. I’m being serious. This isn’t a lie or exaggeration, kids. Even jobs that required no degree and minimal experience were extremely scarce and hard to come by. And finding a job in your own home town (if you came from a small, rural town)???? FORGET ABOUT IT. I started working at the Shiseido makeup counter at Macy’s, which was a 30 minute drive from my parent’s house where I lived after graduating. I got “lucky” (I use this term very loosely here… ) to have a friend who worked for Abercombie & Fitch as a manager and hooked me up with an interview there after I’d spent the summer of 2011 playing with makeup. I thought I’d scored big-time, because at least the job with Abercrombie required a 4-year degree, had benefits like a 401K and insurance, and paid time off. Little did I know, I was in for a real ride….
One day, when life affords me the luxury of no longer having to work a 9-5 day job, you can read all about my days with Abercrombie/Hollister on my old blog, which is currently incognito on the inter-webs. I had to make the blog private for the purposes of my current, corporate job…. since I didn’t hold back in terms what I wrote about or discussed online back then. I could write a book about my time with A&F/HCo., and one day I truly hope to do so…
Enough about that though. I eventually saved up a decent chunk of money and moved to NYC with no job lined up in the fall of 2012. This is where the struggle truly began, and how I learned to thrive (or just barley scrape by, rather) in the midst of the economy’s worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1920’s.
It took me three whole months to find a “job,” and then, the job I had was working only part-time at a night club/concert venue as a cocktail waitress and weekend hostess. I never knew if I’d be working 5 seated-shows a week (the most lucrative type since people would order food and drinks), or only 2 standing-room-only shows with an audience of underage kids (the least lucrative shows… obviously). My paychecks ranged from $120 on a terrible week (i.e. 4 dark days and 2 nights of hostessing) to $480 on a decent week, working 4-5 seated shows. Of course there were take-home cash tips, but those were usually spent going out for after-work drinks at the Irish dive bars on 14th street with my fellow co-workers, where we would commiserate over how little we’d made that night, how awful the crowd was, and how depressed and poor we were working at this shitty venue when the lot of us aspired to so much more in life (i.e. artistic endeavors, full-time employment… sugar daddies…).
My rent was only $650 when I first moved to NYC (don’t ask… I literally had the most baller apartment for what is the BEST DEAL ever heard of). My rent quickly increased to $800 after a couple of months, and then to $1,000 after a year. My fickle work as a server wasn’t allowing me to even make rent, so I swallowed my pride and went back to HCo. on fifth ave, working as a manager, where at least I had a consistent paycheck and health insurance.
Between 2012 and 2016 when I finally landed a decent job, were the toughest four years of my life, financially speaking. This is when I really honed in on my skills as a chef, learning how to survive on one bag of frozen peas a week and a handful of uncooked rice. I learned how to scrape together just enough money to pay rent doing whatever it took – whether it meant counting spare change, taking on babysitting jobs in the morning before working closing shifts at Hollister, or forgoing what most people consider household essentials, like coffee creamer, paper towels, and well…. food in general.
Given the current state of the economy, and the fact that things have been slow as hell for me at work in the last month or so, I’m growing nervous that it’s true that another recession is on the way. This time, I’ll be prepared though…. bring it on baby. Nothing can hurt me now. You know what actually makes me feel even more carefree these days? The fact that we’re probably all going to die in a nuclear war or from complete global destruction due to climate change before I ever even begin to pay back my student debt….
MY TIPS FOR SURVIVING A RECESSION
There is no such thing as job security. Never get too comfortable – it can be taken away from you at any time through no fault of your own. Never take your job for granted either, even though you hate it (we all do). You need money to pay rent and bills and to purchase enough food to survive and/or enough alcohol and drugs to make you occasionally forget how fucking shitty and pointless your life is. No job is permanent and any job can be taken away in the blink of an eye (usually when you least expect it to). You could be laid off if the economy tanks and your company can no longer afford your position. This happened in the last recession… workers who’d been with the same company for 25 years and were only 3 years away from retiring lost their jobs and their 401Ks. Pretty shitty, right? This is why I wake up each day with the fear of God in my heart. It’s better to be scared about losing your job then it is to be too confident that it can’t happen to you. It can happen to you, and living life with anxiety over job security simply prepares you for the worst. It happened to me once and it wasn’t even the recession. The start up company I worked for in 2016 tanked after five months and couldn’t afford to pay me. No notice… no nothing.
Girl, you better WORK. One does what one must to make rent and put food on the table. Even if this means selling yourself short of your credentials/qualifications/education/desired salary, or, in some cases, literally selling yourself (I’ve never done it, but I know girls who basically have sex with someone they’re not really into, in return for having their rent paid or fancy dinners here and there or like, a Mysterland ticket and nice hotel). I’m not saying this is noble or respectable, but sometimes desperate means call for desperate measures. If you’re young and attractive and don’t have a family to hurt, stripping is always an option too. In a major city it will definitely be much more lucrative than elsewhere, and people less likely to find out if you’re trying to keep it on the down-low. If you’re attractive and young, in fact, I highly suggest capitalizing on it while it lasts – because it doesn’t last forever. You might as well make a decent living off of what your mama (or your plastic surgeon) gave you. There are always ads out for bottle servers, hostesses, bartenders, etc., and in this city at the right venue, you could make a SHIT TON of money doing any of those service jobs. You don’t really need experience if you’re young and hot and/or know the right person. It’s also good to be flexible in tough economic times, and willing to do shitty work. I mean, if your standards are too high and the economy crashes, you’re not really going to survive if you’re not willing to do some less-than-savory jobs to make ends meet. For example, I cleaned houses and a church on a weekly basis at one point in college, because it was impossible to even find a part-time retail job. I’m not making this up. In 2008-2009, I cleaned a church rectory on a weekly basis, and then a few older ladies at church inquired about me cleaning their personal residences, and I did. It honestly wasn’t a bad job – kind of gross to clean someone else’s toilet and bathtub, but the money was decent and not taxed, and old people are generally very sweet and lovely to talk to. I would do it again. Hell, I would probably do it now, if someone asked me if I had availability to do so. Could always use some extra spending money…
Learning to live on a bare-bones diet. Have you ever cried because you’re so hungry and all you have in your house is some white rice and mustard? I have. Have you ever had to choose between buying paper towels to clean your counter tops, or some coffee creamer so you didn’t have to keep drinking your coffee black? I have. It’s all about priorities – and sometimes we think that we can forgo food, or at least eat minimally to save money, especially when we also prioritize thinness. Well, when your parents already put some extra money in your bank account but you used it to pay rent and then foolishly bought a couple of $5 vodka sodas at McKenna’s (because you don’t know how to tell your friends that you’re broke), and now you don’t even have $6 to buy a box of pasta and some Prego at the local grocery store, shit really hits home. You’re going to have to learn how to get creative with some frozen white bread and a couple of teaspoons of Parmesan or how to make a meal out of lentils, curry powder, and some frozen corn last you three days. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about the next time that you can afford to get drunk and order a pizza at 2am, since you’ll likely be malnourished as fuck.
Interviewing: It’s not you, it’s THEM. Just because there isn’t a real availability of viable, living-wage paying jobs, doesn’t mean there won’t be hundreds of listed positions and interviews which you’ll desperately go, on trying to make something work. You’ll probably apply for jobs you have no interest in whatsoever, just because you need a paycheck: part-time retail positions at a shoe store that sells ugly clogs, a dog-walking position, a nannying position, even though you hate kids…. the list goes on. If you’re like I was (and still am), you’ll apply for and go on hundreds of interviews and you won’t get offered any of the positions, even though you are mostly likely A) qualified, B) experienced, or C) could easily do whatever is asked of you. I started to think it was me and beat myself up. I decided I wasn’t getting hired because I was too old, too ugly, too short, too fat, too nice, etc., etc.. I honestly probably wasn’t getting hired, because they were saving the position for the assistant manager’s brother-in-law who just graduated and wanted the job. Jobs go to those with the personal/family connections when there aren’t many jobs to be had. Don’t take it too personally or it will really wear away at your self-confidence.
This blog will eventually get to the food/cooking/recipe aspect that it was initially intended for. I’ve taken a slight detour along the way and have started incorporating other bullshit into my blog, as I need a safe space to express myself and the world today is not a very safe place at all (no more abortion in the state of Alabama… like WTF? I guess we’ve gone back to the dark ages…. don’t even get me started, we live in a fucking sickening time in history… how did we let it come back to this????).
If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted lately (which I doubt you are, since no one actually reads this piece of shit blog…), I’ve been too busy being a cat-mom (basically a full-time job within itself… unless you’re actually a BAD cat mom), and cleaning non-stop (obviously my TRUE calling in life).
Yes, what a gripping life I do lead! (I want to say that’s a line from Notting Hill, but I could be wrong… might be Bridget Jones… I used to be OBSESSED with Hugh Grant when I was 12… I still might be… I digress).
If you didn’t read my last blog, please do – it’s writing I’m actually really excited to share and want to do more of/with. I have way too much fun writing this kind of stuff. For the next installment of ‘Indigo Wren,’ Indigo is going to sail his hand-crafted raft to France, make his way to Paris, and then attempt to live like Ernest Hemingway while also becoming gender neutral. I know… this blog has basically evolved from what was originally supposed to be a food/cooking blog into the madcap nonsense of yesteryear (aka, the shit I used to write on my old blog, God rest its soul). Yes, I’m twisted.
Last week, I spent basically the entire week cleaning up after my sick cats; first Tuna (the kitten), followed by Mr. Peeper. I took Tuna to the emergency vet that’s open 24/7 last Tuesday, after several psychotic, older women on the ‘Persian Cat Health Board’ I belong to, and subsequently posted to, advised me to do so, IMMEDIATELY!!! Their reasoning was that I should bring Tuna to the vet ASAP since he is still a little kitten and was basically shitting his brains out in addition to vomiting last Tuesday night – they said he could dehydrate and die easily. Obviously, that freaked me out and since they’re all cat experts and/or breeders, I listened to their advice and I went. The 24/7 vet not only cost a pretty penny (which I would have preferred to spend on new heels and/or partying), but it also ruined my entire Tuesday evening since I didn’t get home again until after 11 p.m. and then couldn’t sleep until 2 a.m.. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t cooked anything noteworthy lately (which you’re not, because you probably order take out every night), it’s because I’ve been so tired and busy raising a kitten that I have no energy left when it’s time to cook.
Luckily, Tuna was fine and was back to his crack-baby self the next morning (he didn’t swallow any objects and doesn’t have any terminal illnesses – what a relief). However, whatever he did have must have been a virus which he then passed it onto Mr. Peeper, and it was 10 times worse for poor Peeps. Peeps started throwing up Wednesday night around 10 p.m., and threw up 6 more times before I went to bed at 1:30 a.m.. He also had a couple of explosive BMs (Bowel Movements), if you know what I’m saying…. (sorry for being gross, but it’s true). I hadn’t slept much the night before because of Tuna, and then I had to stay up a second night in a row cleaning cat vomit and worried about my baby Peeps.
I hoped he’d be better when I woke up the next morning, but I walked out of the bedroom to a living room/kitchen/bathroom area covered with at least 6 additional puke spots. But the worst part, if you must know, was that poor Peeps was laying behind the curtains in the living room window, with the 6:30 a.m. intense, dawn sunlight coming in directly upon him, not moving, non-responsive, not hungry for breakfast, and totally covered in his own shit. Good morning indeed! I started crying because I thought he was going to die… he didn’t even acknowledge me when I came out of my bedroom and he didn’t want breakfast.
I called out of work immediately and spent all morning giving Peeper a bath (he hated me, but was so weak he hardly tried to escape), cleaning the floors, disinfecting everything, and feeding him liquids out of a syringe. Yes… I transformed into a nurse. I thought I was going to have to drop another $300 I don’t have on the vet, and I happily would have it meant making my baby better, but luckily he didn’t throw up or shit again and kept down the combo of goat’s milk and Greek yogurt I gave him… I’m basically a registered cat nurse now.
Anyhow. I haven’t had time to cook anything that spectacular lately. I did make a pretty legit seafood risotto on Friday of last week, once the house was clean, the cats were better, and I finally had some ambition.
The dish I made the week prior though is where it’s really at:
Yes, this dish was time consuming as hell to make, and it took a lot of ingredients… but it’s fucking worth it (just like you, darling).
1 bag of small potatoes, unpeeled and diced, OR… 3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 medium white (or yellow) onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 cup, diced cherry/grape tomatoes
1 cup frozen sweet corn (preferably shaved off the cob)
1 lb. mussels, steamed and de-shelled
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups dried, gemelli (or similar shape) pasta
4 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
2 Tbs. freshly chopped parsley
Rinse/clean the mussels and then steam them until they open!
Once mussels have opened and are cool enough to handle, de-shell and set the meat aside in a bowl
If you’re working with a bag of small potatoes, dice them; If you’re working with three large potatoes, peel the potatoes first and then dice them
Heat some olive oil and/or butter in a wok or large saucepan over medium heat
Sautee the diced potatoes in olive oil and/or butter until soft (aka penetrable with the tines of a fork)
Add the sweet corn into the saucepan and cook until it’s fully de-thawed
Set 1/3 of the diced potato/corn mixture aside (I just threw it on top of the mussels), and put the other 2/3s of the potato/corn mix into a blender, with a cup and a half of chicken stock – pulse until completely blended (add more stock as necessary until liquid is a thick consistency)
Cut the cherry/grape tomatoes into halves and set aside
Heat the butter and/or olive oil in a wok or large, deep saucepan
Add in the minced onions and sautee over low-medium heat until translucent
Add in the garlic and sautee another minute (*DO NOT BURN GARLIC*)
Add in the halved tomatoes and sautee until they become glossy and soft-ish
Add in 1/2 cup dry white wine and simmer for about 2-3 minutes
Add in the potato puree (the stuff you blended)
Add in more chicken stock if necessary and heavy cream
The sauce should be thick-ish, yet not so thick that it can’t fully coat other ingredients that will be added shortly!
FOR THE PASTA:
In another pot, bring heavily-salted water to a boil
Add in the gemelli (or other similarly-shaped-pasta), and boil until al dente (do NOT cook until soft… it will finish cooking IN THE SAUCE)
Drain and set pasta aside!
BACK TO THE SAUCE:
Throw in the rest of the potatoes/corn mixture that was previously set aside (this adds texture and makes the dish more aesthetically pleasing than if everything had been blended into a puree)
Add in the seasonings: Salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano
Add in the mussels and fresh basil
Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until everything is cooked through and warm again
Add in the pasta and cook another minute or so
Let sit for 5-10 minutes and serve in a shallow bowl or plate
I haven’t written a blog in a couple of weeks because I’m feeling lazy and uninspired, yet also simultaneously busy (working, maintaining the household, maintaining a very high-maintenance cat, watching my niece and nephew after work here and there, basically maintaining everything but myself it seems…), and I’ve also been trying to take advantage of the warmer weather by walking more. The increased exercise doesn’t seem to helping my body much, unless I’m gaining serious muscle and am too blind to see it because I have body dysmorphia… but I’m pretty sure the scale doesn’t lie.
Can you tell I’m in a bad mood? Because I really am.
I feel like I only work and live to pay bills sometimes (all the time, actually), and only eat healthy and work out for my body to stay exactly the same and fluctuate wildly depending on that time of the month. Have I mentioned how awful it has been since going off birth control? I mean, we’re in the midst of the 6th mass extinction of flora and fauna and it’s caused entirely by humans, Notre Dame Cathedral burned down on Monday, there are starving children in Yemen, abused and abandoned animals wandering the streets, and dead whales washing up everywhere with plastic bags in their stomachs, but yeah…. I am still bitter about my insurance not covering Natazia (on top of all of the aforementioned issues… the Natazia is just the straw breaking this camel’s back, so to speak).
Like who the fuck gains weight when they go OFF birth control? Don’t most people gain when they go on it? Also, who knew that in addition to PMS bloating, you can also bloat during ovulation… so basically, I only look skinny about 3 days of the month now – and that’s the week my skin flares up with hormonal acne. I never really feel good about myself 100 percent anymore. I’m either bloated or broken out and both make me feel self-conscious and not like myself. By the time my cystic zits go back down, and are just red, flaky marks on my face, a whole month has gone by and then the cysts come right back again along with some added water retention.
It’s OK though… we’re all going to be dead someday, and probably sooner than later at the rate of global warming, pollution, and general discord among the nations…. so why should worry about my thigh gap and a couple of zits on my chin? I’ll tell you why – because it takes away from my worry about microplastics infiltrating the food chain and never being able to afford to have children thanks to astronomical rent prices and student loans… that’s why. I need to focus my anxieties and stress into something I can control… which is precisely why I’ve started carrying a tote bag to the grocery store to haul my groceries home so as to avoid plastic bags…
I was going to make chicken piccata tonight for my boyfriend, because at some point today I had more energy and felt like cooking something fancy, but after working all day, commuting, doing groceries on the way home, taking a bath, giving my cat a bath, and picking up the house, and now writing this blog, I am absolutely fucking exhausted, and ordered Chinese food instead.
It’s one of those days, and I seem to be having a lot of those days lately, despite trying to stay positive and take a pro-active approach to my life and wellness and happiness.
I have been trying to take it easier on the weekends (i.e. going to bed before 2am, not binge drinking, not making poor financial decisions when I’m binge drinking), which leaves me feeling slightly more mentally stable. I picked up my new glasses last week (fucking finally) and have knocked out all of my annual doctor’s visits, bi-annual dental cleaning, so at least I’m up to date as far as my health is concerned. I also started a new painting and made good progress for the few hours I’ve put into it so far:
In other news, while the world falls apart and I futilely attempt to lose the weight I’ve gained since January, I made the best meatballs I ever made (beef and mortadella), and also the best risotto I’ve ever made and that my boyfriend has ever eaten (his words, not mine).
I want to write out the recipe and ingredients but it’s going to have to wait because I’m physically, mentally and emotionally spent for today.
I’ll try to update this tomorrow to include a recipe… I’m falling asleep now.
Here I am, yet again…. avoiding my taxes like the bubonic plague…. 😀 After I write this blog post, I’m really going to try to make myself finish them – no matter how devastating the outcome. Time to face reality….
I had a most relaxing day yesterday, as one is wont to do on a Sunday. I found a new wine bar that’s so amazing – they have way better pricing than most wine bars do ($9 – $13 a glass as opposed to the typical $13 – $18), a great tasting menu (I had a cheese plate), and the bar was super cozy with a real stone fireplace, which I was lucky enough to sit right in front of. Major score on my part. The place is called Black Mountain Wine House, and despite being about a 15 minute drive from my apartment, was totally worth it. If you live in Brooklyn, I highly suggest.
The fireplace in the wine bar was super hot and cozy and made me reflect on Panther Room (the side room of Output, which closed forever a couple of months ago). I used to love going to Panther room on a Sunday night when I had Monday off and getting all kinds of funked up and then sitting in front of their fireplace… it was so perfect in the winter. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Panther Room and all the good times I had there… I digress….
So nostalgic right now… ❤ (sigh)
Moving on. I have recently become obsessed with beets. I really love foods with earthy (aka ‘dirt’) flavors, hence my love of anything with truffles, mushrooms, super rank cheeses, and BEETS. Lately, I’ve been cooking them once every couple of weeks. They pair so well with goat cheese, and also sour cream and dill – you can use them in a hearty winter salad, or as a main in a thick-ass borscht.
This weekend, I prepared beets for a salad with (you guessed it) GOAT CHEESE. A match made in heaven – right up there with peanut butter and jelly. I know… I get it – beets aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But this recipe is simple, healthy, and could honestly be made into a main meal if you want to add some hot lentils or quinoa to make the salad a main dish!
When you buy fresh beets, you’ll want to first trim off the beet greens (the leafy stems) as well as any root portion growing out the end of the beet. Next, while they’re raw, use a vegetable peeler and peel the beet all the way around. Give the beets a final rinse in cold water just to make sure any dirt is rinsed away (they are a root vegetable, after all). In order to ensure the beets cook faster and evenly (since a bunch of beets usually includes beets of differentiating sizes), quarter or cut them in half depending on their size.
Boil the beets in some salted water for about 20-25 minutes, at a rolling boil. Stab them with the tines of a fork to make sure they’re cooked through before removing from heat.
Baby spinach or baby kale pairs best with beets….beets are definitely not a good mix with romaine or iceburg lettuce (and lord knows I really actually prefer romaine to spinach or kale …). Then of course, the goat cheese is essential – any time you add cheese, nuts, beans or any sort of protein to a salad it becomes more than a salad… it becomes worthy of meal status… this is great if you’re trying to be healthy but also want to feel full.
I also threw in some pine nuts, which really complimented the beets, goat cheese and spinach. Cherry/grape tomatoes go well with just about anything (apart from blue cheese… the acids from the blue cheese and tomatoes do NOT mix… take my word), so I threw some of those in, and then drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar reduction, and sprinkled with freshly ground salt and pepper.
In the past, I have found thinly-sliced, green apples really pair well with beets and goat cheese, as well as walnuts – but this is more of a summer salad to me. As I previously mentioned, you can very well make this salad into a meal by adding some cooked lentils or quinoa.
Now for the main attraction:
The vodka sauce – yet another example of bastardized Italian food. Vodka sauce is uniquely Italian-American… doesn’t exist in Italy, only in America. But if you’ve had it, you’ll know it’s fucking amazing:
INGREDIENTS (for the vodka sauce):
1 cup vodka (can be cheap vodka – the alcohol cooks out regardless)
1 large can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) (28 oz.)
1 tiny can tomato paste (6 oz.)
1/2 Spanish (yellow) onion, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (aka Paremsan)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano flakes
1 tsp. dried basil flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh parsley
DIRECTIONS (for the vodka sauce):
Heat the oil over low heat, and add in the minced onions – cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and cooked through.
Add in the minced garlic AND the red pepper flakes. Cook another 2-3 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally and being careful not to burn garlic.
Add in the can of crushed tomatoes, stir and increase the heat to medium.
Add in the vodka and continue to stir for another minute.
Add in the can of tomato paste, and stir thoroughly.
Add in all of the seasonings (basil, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper)
Taste test the sauce to see if it needs more seasoning… add as necessary
Add in the heavy cream and reduce to low heat. Sauce should be a nice orange color after adding the cream
Add in the grated Parmesan cheese AND the chopped parsley, and stir until incorporated
Add in the butter (this can be optional – it gives the sauce an extra richness)
This sauce is perfect to serve as is with the pasta of your choice after completing the above steps.
If you want to make a heartier meal, go ahead and make the ballz too. In this case, I used turkey meat (recipe for vegetarian ballz coming up this week…).
INGREDIENTS (for Ballz):
One package (1.3 lbs) turkey meat (93% lean, 7% fat)
1 large egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
Dash of worcestershire sauce
*** more bread crumbs if too soft when you attempt to roll into ball
DIRECTIONS (for Ballz):
Add all ingredients listed above together in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands (yes, your hands… don’t be a pu$$y – a spoon isn’t gonna work)
Turn the pasta sauce to a medium heat – you’re going to cook the ballz directly in the sauce this time! (it keeps them so tender and moist)
Once all ingredients are mixed together, grab a chunk of the mixture at a time and roll into a small ball (or large, if that’s how you likey…. 😉 )
Drop the ballz as you make them into the hot vodka sauce
Keep making and dropping ballz into saucepan until you’ve used up all of the meat mixture
Stir EVER SO GENTLY with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, so as not to fuck your ballz up and massacre them (gently rotate them around the hot saucepan)
Cook on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes
Serve finished ballz and sauce over pasta or polenta (or if you’re on a “diet,” without either)
Yeah… definitely not doing my taxes now. Oh well. I should just pull an Anthony Bourdain and not file my taxes for years … except unlike Anthony Bourdain (God rest his soul), I will never get rich and be able to pay them off in a major lump sum someday after neglecting them for 10 years running.