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Friday, January 28, 2011

Lost in Space

Last week I had a long conversation with an old friend, during which I confessed that I've been a little out of touch these days.

"I'm not sure where I've been, lately.  Just lost. Mentally lost in space."

I've been bored. Restless. Snowed in. Tired. And did I mention...bored?

"You've just been so...itchy," the Husband said a couple weeks ago. Which is quite an interesting word choice because we celebrated our seven-year anniversary last August. Could this be the Seven-Year Itch? I'm pretty certain my restlessness doesn't have anything to do with my marriage.

Before I track down a DVD of the Marilyn Monroe film for research...maybe I should revisit Betty Friedan's classic, The Feminine Mystic, in which she discusses the "problem without a name," a sense of dissatisfaction experienced by American housewives in the 1960s.

Is my current state at all similar to that of housewives 50 years ago? Educated women spending their days at home with dirty dishes, dirty diapers, and dirty laundry? Isn't it different for us now, after the Second Feminist Wave, now that Dads are more involved, now that we have the Internet, Facebook, and cable TV?

Anytime I mention my boredom to another at-home mom, I am invited to another play-date. And while I'm so grateful for their generosity, for their offering of time and company (really I am), I think the last thing I need is another play-date.

But what do I need? That is what I don't know.

So what do you think? Is this just the winter blues? Is it time for me to go back to work? Or, is it time for another baby?  Maybe I should just blog more, and whine less.

Truth be told, I am bummed about a few things: Keith Olbermann's split from MSNBC last week was a bit disconcerting, especially considering the fact that I was not tuned in last Friday night and didn't even get a chance to witness the live goodbye. I have been a Countdown viewer for nearly three years, and now, with little warning, it airs no more.

While I'm on the topic of politics, I've got to admit I continue to be bummed that during this time when our nation faces such huge problems, when so much is at stake...I live in a state where both Senators seem more interested in the agenda of their political parties (GOP and TEA) than the welfare of Kentuckians. Seriously, I never hear either of them say anything to the national media about what they intend to do for Kentucky. It's all "Tea Party" this and "ruin Obama" that. McConnell is scheduled for Meet the Press this Sunday, and I intend to tune in and see if he has anything -- anything at all -- to say about Kentucky, or if it'll be more of his grumpy talk about ensuring that Obama doesn't get a second term.

Like any good wife, I can also "blame" the Husband for bumming me out. I've got two beefs with him right now. First, a few weeks before Christmas, anticipating the flood of new toys, the Husband turned our dining room into a playroom. It is magic, pure magic, to have the Bear gated in there, flipping through her books while I'm working nearby. But it is also devastating (just a little), because my dining room is now a friggin' playroom!!! It's as if we have admitted defeat. We have surrendered, and the toys won...the kid stuff won!

My second beef with the Husband is that he put us on a money diet. It is just what we need after the gluttony of the holidays; it is just what we need to pay for college (ours first, then the Bear's) and reach some other financial goals. Generally speaking, I enjoy a little belt-tightening and penny-pinching, and I am well aware that people all around me are struggling financially in ways that we have never struggled. But when your personal allowance is slashed by tend to feel a bit devastated (just a little). And so, if teasing the Husband, (say, calling him the Rand Paul of the household) helps ease that devastation....Well, it does.

All in all, I love my life. I love, love, love the Husband and I love, love, love the Bear. My gut just keeps filling up with a mix of euphoria and dread, with this sense that there is so much to do and say...and yet, I'm not acting on it because I'm not sure what it is I am supposed to do or say...

Any ideas?


Friday, January 21, 2011

Chicken Fest

If you recall, back in November, I roasted a chicken. Remember? I roasted a whole chicken, left my iPad at Whole Foods, and gave the Husband (and myself) reason to believe that we might need to start shopping around for a more responsible household CEO. (Good luck finding one who'll work for free!)

Back in my library days I had a colleague who loved the Barefoot Contessa. He told me on more than one occasion that her roasted chicken recipe is pure perfection. You can find the recipe here.

It was by chance that I finally tried the recipe. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had planned to buy a roast chicken for $6.99, the Monday special at my local Whole Foods. However, I arrived too early; the chickens were still in the oven.  Feeling oh so resourceful, I pulled up the Barefoot Contessa recipe on my iPad (which I don't usually have with me at the supermarket because I'm afraid I'll lose it. Hmmmm...certainly a realistic fear!). I purchased the ingredients and a disposable roasting pan, and went on my merry way, so excited about the fortuitous birth of Chicken Fest 2010 that I parked my shopping cart in the return corral and all but skipped back to my car, oblivious to the fact that I had abandoned the family iPad.

Several hours later, abashed and annoyed, yet grateful to have the iPad back in my possession, I assembled all the ingredients and followed the recipe to a tee.

Before going any further, I have to say, I was a vegetarian for about three years back in my 20s. (Who wasn't?)  And seriously, although I realize that I made the choice to go back, I was not very happy when meat made its way back into my life and then back into my diet. For the most part I really don't enjoy eating meat all that much. I'm not sure why.  And what I really, really don't enjoy is handling raw meat, especially raw meat that resembles the animal it once was. (Ground beef is one thing, but a whole chicken? With skin and bones, and a sack full of giblets inside...Yikes!)

Nevertheless, I have decided that if I am a meat eater (I am) and if I am serving this to my family as food (again, I am) then I must be willing to see it and touch it with my hands and know that a life was given for our sustenance, you know? (Okay, I realize I might have just lost some of you, but for whatever reason, saying that was important to me...I would love to hear from others about post-vegetarianism guilt!)

Moving on...let me get back to that day in November: I rolled up my sleeves, rinsed that chicken, patted it dry, and then stuffed its cavity as if I were Ina Garten herself, making dinner for Jeffrey and a handful of other sophisticated friends:

My finished product was a little beauty:

When I prepared this meal, we were swimming in a surplus of squash and root vegetables. That night dinner consisted of roasted chicken, whole wheat couscous, some steamed greens, and (much to the Husband's distaste) roasted radishes and turnips:

Losing the iPad was dumb, but roasting a chicken (once I was done touching the raw parts!) felt smart, especially because I was able to use the leftovers in three other recipes.

Chicken Nachos, White Chicken Chili, and Chicken Stock to follow...