The Contest

Friday, May 30, 2008

(First, let me preface this post (ha, like I even need to tell you I'm going to preface a post, that's like my signature blogging move) with a huge thank you. I really had no idea what would happen when I hit "publish" last night. I was so worn down and when I woke up there were 7 encouraging comments. When I checked again tonight (after my car died and I had to call AAA and get a new battery, which was actually the least complicated car thing I've ever done), I had 5 more. I cannot begin to tell you how much it means to me to have your support and kindness. I'm not sure how I would make it some days.

Also, for anyone interested, the boob was looking really good this morning, but over the course of about 2 minutes between taking off the little kids bras and getting in the shower, it had already started to drain again. Not great news, but there are still 12 days for this to sort itself out and I'm working really hard to maintain the positive thinking. I just checked the incision and it's looking really good right now. I'm hoping that if perhaps I get some actual rest tonight rather than staying up until 3 in the morning and getting up at 8 or 9, my body might begin to heal. We'll see.)


So onto the contest! It has come to my attention that we have a problem that needs solving. I have, for the year I've been blogging here, referred to my better half as "The Fiance." His name is not being disclosed per his request, though he has approved the following contest. Obviously, after 10 days from now, that name will not work. It just won't make sense. I considered switching to The Husband, but it just seemed bland. I don't know. I think it needs some spice.

So here's the deal:

I need a new name for him. I can't tell you his name, but I can disclose some facts that might help you in your quest. He is in medical school (1 year left), he lives in New Orleans, he's about to be married to me, he thinks he's a comedian, but is definitely not, he is the mayor of passive-agressive-land and oh yes, I love him a lot. He is also a handsome devil (a very amazing one who has dropped about 13 pounds in a month! Wowzer!), he hates shopping and he loves fruity girly drinks.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with a new code name for The Fiance. No profanity, and if you know his name (cough*NOLA and Pete*cough) you can't use that to your advantage. The judge will be The Fiance himself, so keep that in mind.

What's that? A reward? Yes, there is. The winner of this contest will receive a souvenir from our Hawaiian honeymoon and perhaps a little New Orleanian trinket (if the winner is not from New Orleans, I can throw in something Californian in if a NOLA person is crowned). It won't be anything big, but we will be very grateful, and really, it's the thought that counts.

I'm going to put a cap on this as running through Tuesday night at midnight California time. Leave all entries as comments to this post (if I post any new blogs I'll include a link down here, or you can, you know, scroll down the page) so we don't have to go on a wild goose hunt to find them. The wedding crunch is going to hit something fierce starting on Thursday, so this way we can sort through the entries and post the winner on Wednesday. You can enter once a day until then (so if you catch this Friday night you have 5 chances) and the entry will be chosen based upon whatever weird-ass criteria The Fiance decides. I can't promise he won't close his eyes and choose one without looking, but I'm going to encourage him otherwise.

Sound like fun? I think so. So enter, feel free to link it up elsewhere, the more the merrier. I need the brain trust, so bring on the ideas people. Show me your creative juices. Wait, on second thought, keep your juices to yourself.

Good luck!

Questions

I want to preface what I'm writing tonight with a disclaimer. I've been struggling the past few weeks with several things in my life and I've been trying to keep them to myself. Tonight I need to talk and it's coming in the form of questions. These are rhetorical and though many of them scream martyrdom and are fishing-for-compliment-esque, they are not intended in either way. I just really need to say some things, to no one in particular, because they need to be out of my head. I need to ask these questions and I need to have a few moments to just experience what I've been thinking and I can't find another way to do it. So please understand that this isn't me looking for sympathy, it's just me needing to talk it out and try to gain control (before I do something like shave my head) again.

Oh and please come back tomorrow, when I ask the big contest question, and hopefully will have gotten some sleep, leveled my hormones out a little and be back to sunshine and rainbows, like usual.

Who is responsible for the fact that there are absolutely zero A cup sports bras at target? I'm serious. Not only that, but nothing smaller than a 36 around either. Who on earth planned that? The fact that I am now the proud owner of 7 little girls department sports bras makes my soul weep. Even more so when I think about the fact that they are MEDIUMS.

What the hell was I thinking having this surgery 6 weeks before my wedding? How on earth could I have been so stupid? I know I was scared, but how did I not foresee this situation? I had 6 weeks before my wedding, 6 weeks that should've been pain and stress free. 6 weeks to get everything done. And through no fault of anyone's, 4+ weeks later, I have not healed from that surgery. What is wrong with me that I don't learn and don't anticipate this? What did I do that 99% of other surgical patients don't that caused me to be in this predicament? What should I have done differently? What did I do wrong? If I had gone to the doctor on Monday instead of Thursday would it have gone away? If I had not gone to the doctor in April (if I had kept my scheduled May appointment), would I have had this stupid surgery? Did anything good come from this?

Where am I going to be able to find the time to finish everything that needs to be done in the next 10 days? Methinks I've taken on the impossible.

When will I get to sleep for more than 6 hours? And will that level out these hormones? Will that make me remember how to be a normal human being? Will I be able to not pick fights and not make my Fiance feel like crap? When will I stop trying to push people away to prove that I am unloveable?

Why are my in-laws the way they are? What defect is this? The fact that my poor Fiance had to listen to a full days worth of "wrongdoings" regarding the wedding is not okay. What the hell did he do? And why is it wrong that we planned the wedding the way we wanted it? We're footing a BIG chunk of the bill (which is one of MANY things we've done wrong) and they're not. I don't understand how they get to tell him or me what to do.

And what good is it to tell us now, a week and a half before the wedding that we shouldn't have paid the photographer in full before the wedding (a photographer recommended to us by our wedding site, he's more than trustworthy), or that Mardi Gras beads really would've made the wedding so much better? Can we go back in time and un-do this? Then why can't it be let go? And how on earth does anyone have the gall to suggest that their fucking dog should be the ring bearer rather than my cousin, whom I have known and loved since the day of his birth? I do not understand. And moreover, how does anyone expect me to not cause a forest fire with the bridges I'm going to burn after spending this next week with them.

How does anyone get through the wedding planning and execution with a shred of sanity. Or without killing their family?

Logically, in my head, I know that the boob complications are not my fault. I know that I had every reason to believe that this would heal up fine, and for a time it did. But functionally, in my life, I can't help but think that I've ruined my honeymoon. I feel like I've lost my control over my health again and I'm so incredibly upset about this. I know we'll have a good time, I just know that if it doesn't heal, I will remember forever, that we couldn't enjoy the beaches of Maui and the snorkeling therein because I was too stupid and impatient to wait 2 months to have it done.

I also know that I should tell my in-laws to blow it out their asses, and I might do that, though with some respect and decorum (not that she's offered me any). I know that I should not let their inability to be kind dictate my attitude, but it does to a certain degree, despite my wishing otherwise.

And I know in the end, that no matter how much worry and trouble is involved in planning this wedding, that it's worth it. Even without the dress, the flowers, the music, the photographer, without any of it, the heart of this, our marriage, is worth all of it. But I won't lie, I wish it was easier. I suppose the best things in life aren't free.

Brainsurgiversary

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So yesterday, among a lot of the other things, was the 6 month anniversary of the brain surgery.

I know, I really can't believe it either. 6 months was this magical mark that my physical therapists set in front of me, saying that thereafter, everything should be healed. And while I didn't feel any different yesterday, I'm just so freaking glad to have reached this milestone. I am going to Disneyland next week (and I will ride the rides for the first time in 3 years, I've been cleared!), I had my hair done today with no pain, put a veil on and it didn't hurt. I wanted to pinch myself.

Now being 6 months out of this surgery, I can say with complete confidence that it was the best decision I've made for myself. It was not easy, it may not be the path that most people would've taken, but it was the right one for me. It was elective surgery, but most surgeries are when you get right down to it. The difference was that in my case, the alternative wasn't death, at least not literally, but it would've meant the end of me, the end of who I was, because the pain had taken a greater toll than I realized. It's only with the hindsight of good health that I realize how bad things had gotten, and just how fortunate I am for having found a wonderful surgeon, having a remarkably supportive Fiance and very minimal complications. I am, without a doubt, incredibly blessed.

In the 6 months since the surgery, my coordination has vastly improved, my vision has gotten better (peripheral vision at least, I don't really wanna talk about the bifocals), and above all else, my head does not hurt all the time. In fact, it doesn't hurt most of the time. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have many more days without any head pain, than days with it. I don't think you can appreciate what a miracle that is until you've experienced it, but I feel alive.

I know I've said this a lot lately, but I feel like me, like I've been given a chance to start over and be the person I was always meant to be. I feel like the person I was a long time ago before the chronic pain. I feel like the person I was before my eyes went haywire and my reflexes got out of sync. I am not rainbows and sunshine, but I never was. But I am happy, and I am not being held down by pain, my life is being dictated by me.

All that said, I realize I've also been promising you a post about how you were right and I was wrong, so I'm lumping that together with this anniversary post as they are essentially on the same topic. But let me say first that not all of you were right, in fact, many were wrong wrong wrong, but I won't point any specific fingers. Except maybe at me.

So back in December, I, for lack of a better word, freaked the fuck out about my hair. Or rather, the lack thereof. It was a combination of hormones (yea, I have some) and just generally being out of control in my life at that point. I wasn't aloud to take a shower alone, walk down the stairs without a spot, and my head had been shaved. In a moment of weakness, I took control and cut my hair off.

Unfortunately, due to the crashing of my computer earlier this year, and my total laziness in copying The Fiance's stock of pictures, I don't have any pictures of my hair pre-surgery. It was about down to the top of my bra clasp strap before the surgery, pretty long for me.

And this is what the surgeon did (sorry, slightly gory...)

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All the hair below the tops of my ears was gone. All of it. So this is what I did in retaliation...

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I cut the rest of it. And many of you told me not to. You told me to wait. You said that while that part would probably not be long enough to be in an up-do for the wedding, I wouldn't know until that point came and cutting off my hair was not the solution. And here it comes, get ready because I don't say this often...

You were right. Which I suppose, hypothetically speaking, makes me, um, wrong.

Oh what a mistake it was. Oh what a mistake. I mean, it worked. I regained some measure of control in my universe and it did grow. In fact, after about 2 months, it looked like this:

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Not bad. But not really growing all that quickly.

Today, at 6 months post-op, and 5 1/2 months post-stupid haircut, my hair looks like this:

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Yes, it is much longer, but it is not long enough to compensate for all that is missing still.

And here's where some of you were wrong.

My little hairs, they did not grow quickly. Someone suggested it would grow an inch a month. Lie. Big fat lie. It's been 6 months and my hair is no where near 6 inches long. In fact, it's probably barely 3. Don't believe me? here's what the underside looks like, taken minutes after the previous picture. I know, you're jealous, you wish you could rock this hairdo

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(note the bug bites on my back. What is the deal?) Yea. 6 inches my ass.

Here's another picture from today, just in case the light wasn't good enough in the last picture for you to see that I look like a freak-a-zoid.

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It's bad. Rather bad. Believe me. I can't wear a normal ponytail without turning a vast number of heads and eliciting more obnoxious comments.

Today was my practice wedding hair appointment and we discovered that there's just no way to do an up-do. I simply don't have enough hair to compensate for the fact that 1/3 of my hair is 3 inches long. She mentioned that if I had longer hair on top, we probably could've worked around it. Yea yea. And she suggested extensions, but frankly, I'm way too lazy for that.

Instead she did a very lovely half-up curly do that will work perfectly. It's not what I dreamed of, but I'm learning that weddings require you to set aside some of those things and come down to reality where you realize that can't have a billion butterflies burst out of the plants at the very moment you kiss, or that the perfect first dance song won't fall into your lap and subsequently please everyone.

What you should walk away from this experience with is the knowledge that I realize that you're right, and very wise. I was way totally irrational, and way totally wrong. Oopsies. But, because of this, beginning tomorrow, I'm going to use your wisdom for a contest. So bring your thinking caps, and come back because I need you.

Seriously, based upon my current haircut, I obviously need you something fierce.

The Wedding Questionnaire: Part 3

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Okay, first, a couple of updates, then the finale. The contest will begin tomorrow, so be sure and come back sometime after then and check it out.

If you didn't know already, my friend Nola was a little jealous of all my medical maladies and decided to have her gallbladder removed in Dallas while on vacation. In all seriousness, hop over and wish her well because the experience sounds royally unpleasant, and no way is that car ride home going to be fun. Though I commend her on the entirely coherent blog today. Clearly she handles her anesthesia better than some of us.



In my own health update of sorts, the seroma is, well, different I guess. The wound has been getting smaller and smaller, which is GREAT and it has become increasingly difficult to pack, which is also a good sign. I gave my surgeon a call today and she said to see if I could force fluid out of the incision and if so, then to continue forcing it to drain until no more came out. I'll admit that I was a little skeptical that anything would happen because it hasn't really been draining much since Sunday, but low and behold, a rather copious quantity of bright yellow fluid came out upon my maneuvering. Blar. But, the incision is still pretty well closed, only a small part is open and it seems to be completely drained. And now, I am to keep the area really well compressed (2 sports bras and about 4 packages of gauze), so that it won't be able to fill itself back up with fluid. I have to repeat the routine in the morning to make sure it's not filling up again as seromas often do. If it stays dry and doesn't reform, then I can soon stop packing the incision, let it heal and we might be able to declare it finished.

The tricky part is, if the seroma (accumulation of proteinous fluid) reforms, it'll have to re-drain which means the incision will continue to not heal. Where this becomes a real problem is the honeymoon (as far as the wedding day, there are plenty of things we can do to deal with this, lots of wrapping of the boobs can occur), because I can't swim, ocean or pool, unless the incision is completely healed. It would suck to be in Hawaii and not be able to swim, but it would suck more to have a raging abscess, so I've made a decision that I will not let this ruin my wedding or honeymoon. The first vacation The Fiance and I ever took together was a cruise and I had a broken leg at the time (incidentally, not the same one as when we met) and subsequently a non-water-proof cast. And you know what? We had a damn good time. I will make it work, and I will enjoy my Hawaiian vacation. This my friends, is the power of positive thinking. Watch it work some miracles.

So anyways, now that I've driveled on about my boob for a while, I present you the remaining 2 questions. Sorry for the comment whoring yesterday. I've been in an odd mood lately and I just missed hearing from you. I promise I'll cut the whining to a minimum, I know y'all have lives and I certainly understand that you can't always leave comments. And, um, so perhaps I haven't commented on anyone's blog in an eon. Not a hypocrite at all.

Anyways, without further ado, the conclusion of the wedding questionnaire...

Question 7: What are the most important things for you in this relationship? What makes this relationship different from others that you have had?

(My response)
For me, respect and understanding have always been incredibly important. When TF and I met, I had been in a bad relationship where my significant other had tried to push me beyond a point I was comfortable with. That person was unable to see my need to slow things down. TF listened and let me know that he was happy stay in a holding-hands phase of a relationship for as long as that needed to happen. He respected me and my needs, without question. He never asked for more than I could give and he let me be who I was, not who he wanted me to be, that was and is invaluable.

TF makes time for me. Even though he’s in medical school, working for free in hospitals, studying for exams, reading up on strange diseases and trying to please his Attending Physicians, Residents and Interns, TF still finds a way to be with me each day. He is willing to get up at the crack of dawn to read a paper if it means spending that 30 minute window with me at night. He takes time to think about what I need, what we need and he really cares for me and for our relationship.

This relationship is different from others I’ve had because TF is different from any person I’ve known. He is literally the complete package. He has a goofy sense of humor, is incredibly intelligent, committed and focused (when he wants to be). He knows his limits, but isn’t afraid to try something new and he loves without reservation. TF never put me in a position where I felt like I had to choose between him and anything else, he made himself available and he let me be me. Before I met him, I genuinely did not believe in love. I thought it was a ruse, and now, I find myself more in love with him each day. Having him in my life has made my life seem so much more valuable and I feel like each day has a new purpose and I can see a future that wasn’t there before him. TF helped me find who I was, without forcing me to be something I wasn’t. And he has given me a future that I can’t wait to see. And no one before him has ever come close to filling those shoes.

(His response)
Ok, I’m not even gonna put the sarcastic answer of what is most important to me in this question. Really, it’s that no matter what I do or how I mess up, I still feel unconditionally loved, encouraged, and given the sense that I can do anything, even if I’m too lazy to get off my butt to do it. I have never felt this love, or felt so strongly that I can be who I am unconditionally and be just the right person for her.


Question 8: What is your vision for your future together? Where do you see yourself a few or several years from now?

(My response)
We have a few crazy years ahead of us. In a year, we will be uprooting ourselves to wherever TF matches in a residency. Oddly, I don’t find this even slightly unnerving. I know that it means starting over again, but I’m just so excited to have a life with him that all the rest sort of fades away. Where exactly we may be, I have no idea and frankly, no cares or concerns.

In a few years, I see him finishing his residency, me finally finishing the graduate program I am working towards and hopefully, beginning a family. I see us having several kids and watching them grow into young adults. I see us growing old together and I see our love, though imperfect, enduring whatever obstacles the future holds. I see our lives full of happiness, family, love and life itself. Our future isn’t crystal clear or planned to a t, but I genuinely believe deep within my heart, that it will be wonderful, regardless of where or how we get to where we’re going because I see myself living the rest of my life with my best friend.

(His response)
MARRIAGE! He he. I imagine moving to a new state in a year, helping Katie through her schooling as much as she’s helped me, and after being out of school a year or two, starting a family with her. Two, maybe three kids, have not decided if there is a gender I’d prefer. Sorry, I have obviously petered out by the end of these questions, so hopefully Katie has provided more. I love Katie more than anything or anybody in my life, and can not wait to both begin our lives together, and to live all our years together for the rest of my life. I can’t wait for her to be the mother of my children, my partner through what will be an amazing life together, and my best friend to talk well into our golden years. She is my future, and it looks amazing.


(All together now, awwwwwww)

The Wedding Questionnaire: Part 2

Monday, May 26, 2008

For the 4 of you who are still reading (apparently I've gotten rather boring lately, who knew? echo...), I'm going to post the next 3 questions. You'll note that suddenly The Fiance's answers get really short. His attention span is rather like that of a small child, but what he lacks in length, he makes up for in content. Which is not to say that my verbosity isn't quality, just, you know, wordy quality. Whatever. Look for a contest soon. But not until after I post pictures of the amazing-ass hotel we're in tonight. I heart California!

Question 4: In what ways are you different? In what ways alike?

(My response)
I hate mayonnaise, but love mustard. TF loves mayonnaise but hates mustard. He is very organized, I am very messy. He is very non-chalant about a lot of things, I am very uptight about some. TF loves Zombie movies, I hate any movies that are even slightly gory and/or scary. I love to shop and TF’s hatred of shopping makes anyone he takes shopping eventually hate it too, just ask anyone who’s ever shopped with him.

One of the most common traits we share is a severe indecisiveness. I cannot begin to estimate the hours and days that have been spent having the conversation, “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” Over and over and over. It’s like our weekend dialogue and there are days where we don’t do anything because neither of us can come up with anything (to his credit, he is getting a lot better at this, I’m trying, but failing miserably).

We both love television more than we should, both new shows and old classics, we both have a great interest in most things technologically related and we both have a small addiction to Sour Patch Kids and video games (though the wedding diet has curbed the Sour Patch Kids problem somewhat). We are both extreme home bodies and I think I can safely say that we’re both never happier than when we’re at home relaxing together.

(His response)
Different: I have no interest in starting arguments. I hate all things associated with being in the kitchen, but she likes to cook. Oh, she is obsessed with studying and getting good grades. Me, I am not so good with the buckling down and putting in the hours.

Similar: we both love video games, tv watching, movies, and RACQUETBALL!

Question 5: What do you admire about each other?

(My response)
I admire TF’s passion and commitment. I asked him recently a question that I had been asked at work- if you had 20 million dollars and 10 years to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? Without hesitation, he said yes. I think that having that kind of passion and drive for something is amazing. He has put in so much work to medical school and I’m just so proud of what he has accomplished with that passion.

When TF sets his mind to something, he does it. If he needs or wants to achieve a certain grade, he does it. There was a time when to get the grade he wanted in a course he had to get a 94% on a very tough final exam. It’s not that I didn’t believe in him, but I mean, it was a really tough exam. And he got the 94%. If he really puts his mind to something, he’s unstoppable, which is why I know he’s going to be such an amazing doctor.

I also admire TF’s patience with me and with life’s situations. He has not always been dealt the easiest hand and I think a lot of the time I make things more challenging for him. For example, right after we started dating, we were on the way to work when TF said, “I love you too” which sent me into a long monologue into the risks of saying “I love you” too soon in a relationship and how I had been down that road before, etc, for a good 10 minutes of just pure lunacy. TF patiently waited for me to finish my rant before pointing out that he was talking about the band U2, not actually declaring his love for me. He knew that it would take more time for me to reach that stage in our relationship and he waited, patiently for me to get there. He has never pushed me, and I am really amazed at his ability to just let things roll off his back, even when I know they’re driving him crazy.

The impact of Katrina was enough to knock anyone down, but TF got back up and succeeded (granted, his house was spared). He doesn’t let things like that stop him, and I don’t know that I have that same strength. He knows what he wants, and when things get in the way, he deals with them. He doesn’t spend a lot of time woe-is-me-ing about it, he just deals with whatever it is that needs to be dealt with, and I think that’s highly admirable and impressive.

(His response)
I admire her ability to put up with me and be seen in public with me. I admire her patience with me, and her ability to constantly support me despite how much I put myself down. Her encouragement to spend as much time in residency as I need to to achieve the job I want. I admire her body.

Question 6: Tell me about your communication style, how you’ve grown, what you’ve learned.

(My response)
This should be fun. I am a talker. When something is not right, I want to talk about it, as soon and for as long as is humanly possible. TF would rather never ever have a serious conversation if he could avoid it. As I’m sure you could imagine, this has made for some very interesting situations. I won’t lie and say I’ve learned completely to pick my battles, but I am trying to. I am beginning to see when having an argument or conversation will have no benefit and I’m trying to learn to stop myself before I make a mountain out of a molehill. It’s a work very much still in progress..

I’ve learned that TF’s life experiences shaped the way he communicates, and my life experiences, likewise, have influenced the way I communicate. TF’s parents are still married, but like most people, they argue. My parents are divorced, but oddly enough, they never argued in front of my sister and I. In my mind, not arguing is tantamount to letting things build until they reach catastrophic levels. In his, refraining from an argument is a good thing because it decreases the chaos. I’ve had to learn that he will probably never think the way that I do and I have to be aware of that when I try to engage him in conversations and arguments. Lately we’ve been working on learning how to share frustrations without being malicious or accusatory and I think it’s going to be a good step towards better communications for us.

I’ve also learned that TF had a tendency to sleep when people are talking to him with any sort of anger in their voice. It’s something I think he’s working on. He may disagree with me there. I’ve learned to not let it drive me completely crazy. Sometimes. Okay, pretty much never.

(His response)
My communication style is to talk about the things that are important and to let the little things go, after some time. She believes that things should be “talked” about no matter how big or small so that nothing festers and become something bigger. I’ve grown to try to have more talks about things that are bothering me without having to be prompted over and over again, and that not all talks are fights, and that it is better to just say what’s on your mind, in a nice way, of course, than to try to force it out of it.


Just 2 more left, and do come back, there will be a contest, with a real concrete prize this time. Seriously. I might even send it within a decade of the winner is chosen.

The Wedding Questionnaire: Part 1

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm still on the road (a much better day today, I should add), but I decided that rather than doing another boring ass update about the roadtrip, I'd start ushering in wedding-mania (2 weeks from today!) with a cool thing The Fiance and I had to do for the Rabbi. He sent us a set of 8 questions to answer alone and then to share with each other and it ended up being a lot more fun and insightful than I ever thought it would. I won't put all of them down in one entry because, well, my answers take up 9 double spaced pages (his is um, 4?), but I can start with the first 3 or so. The Fiance is much funnier than I probably give him credit for, but you'll soon see how it's sometimes difficult (er, impossible) to get him to answer any question, no matter how simple.

So, here goes...

Question 1: Tell me when and how the two of you met? Did you begin as friends or did a romance spark right away? What drew you to each other?

(My response)
I met TF in late June, 2005. I had just come back from studying abroad and had gotten a summer job at a camp in Los Angeles. The first night we met was the first night of staff training. It was a Friday night and what I remember most is that he was wearing a bright green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle t-shirt. I know that I commented to him about it because I used to love one of the TMNT movies, but otherwise, that first night was fairly unremarkable.

The second day of staff training was when we really met each other. In the middle of a brutal game of capture the flag (which my team won), a rather large guy foot-tackled me and tore several things in my ankle. TF, as it turns out, was not a counselor at the camp, he was the EMT. So he took care of me physically and then sat with me for about 2 hours while we waited for my sister to come and pick me up. We talked about everything under the sun and found that we had a mutual love of television and video games (a fact that my mother is incredibly proud of, I’m sure). The conversation came incredibly easily and I felt as though I’d known him forever. I remember telling my roommate about him that night and she was amazed that I knew so much about him so soon.

After talking with him that night I learned he was going to be living about 10 minutes from me and we decided to carpool to and from work. Within about 2 weeks of that night and the beginning of the carpooling, we went on our first date, a movie…Shrek 2. We went on several other dates and within a month we had that discussion outlining our relationship. Our formal anniversary is July 9th, but we had been seeing each other for several weeks before. We didn’t have a typical friendship to relationship stage, but he quickly became my boyfriend and as importantly, my best friend.

As for what drew me to TF, I would say, without a doubt, his sense of humor and bubbly personality. TF sings all the time, he tells terribly corny jokes and when he thinks something is funny, his laughter is so loud you can’t help but laugh with him. He is also incredibly intelligent and loving. He made me feel more like me than I had felt in years and I have never felt so at home with another person as I did with him, from the very start.

(His response)
I met Katie in June of 2004. She had just been hired to work as a counselor at a day camp in Los Angeles that I had worked at for the last four summers. Prior to this summer, I had worked as a counselor for 5 and six year olds, but this summer was my first summer as the onsite EMT (or camp nurse, if you will). One of the camp rituals is that on the second evening of training all the counselors play a large game of capture the flag, to kind of capture the spirit of childhood. It was during this game of capture the flag that one hard-headed, ummm, determined and strong willed, lady decided that she could stop a lumbering 250 lb charging man through her sheer ability to stay absolutely still. Needless to say, she was wrong (one and only time of course).

Anyway, inertia dictated that lumbering man would not be able to gracefully sidestep her, and the result was him accidently stepping on her foot when he bowled her over, tearing three ligaments in her ankle. So the counselors stop and call for Nurse TF. I came over, took a look at her, and helped her off the field. I proceeded to talk to her for about the next 2-3 hours while the rest of training continued around us. It was immensely enjoyable. We talked about what we wanted to do with our lives, how we wanted to impact both those close to us and the community in general, our takes on drinking, dating, and who knows what else (she might, ask her. I’m the one who has memory issues.) Eventually, her sister came and picked her up. More precisely, she came to give her her automatic car to drive home so her sister (Claire) could drive Katie’s stickshift home. Apparently Katie actually drove to the ER, though made no mention of wanting to go there while we talked. The next morning I called my boss to ask for Katie’s number so I could call to make sure she was alright. By the first day of camp my boss already touted that I was madly in love with her and by the end of the first month was asking if I thought I would marry her, cuz she did.

Anyway, one thing our talking revealed was that we were living close to each other that summer, so we started to carpool. It was very friendly. I do have to explain that up to this point Katie had not dated too much and was somewhat, ummmm, awkward around me. We finally decided to hang out together outside of work and saw Shrek 2 together. Gotta love someone who loves animated movies as much as me (ok, not as much, but a good amount). She was so easy to talk to and be around, and we shared very similar outlooks on life that I soon myself getting really into her. We went out a couple of more times, and since I wasn’t getting any signals from her, flat out asked her one day if she was at all interested in me. “I wouldn’t keep going to the movies with you if I wasn’t.” And that was it.

(I know, I'm such a crazy romantic)


Question 2: At what point did your relationship begin to take on a deeper quality, a point at which you felt that you had become a couple? Did it happen gradually or was there some moment or event that made you feel somewhat bonded?

(My response)
TF will be the first to tell you that I was hesitant to begin the relationship. I had not had the best track record with previous ones and I was afraid of this one not working out. I definitely made it difficult to get to that deep level of relationship, but he persevered.

I would say the point at which our relationship took on a deeper quality to me was fairly early in our relationship, we went for a walk and talked for a few hours on a bench under some trees at my college. We discussed our lives, our goals, our values, our past, our ideal futures, just literally everything we hadn’t talked about the first night we met. I expressed to him my concerns about the future and about our future and he took me and my concerns seriously. I felt like at that point that I knew I could trust him. And it seemed like from that point on, I couldn’t imagine a future without him in it.

(His response)
I think I addressed this already. I asked if she liked me, she said yes. I should have passed her a note instead. But that was really only a minor step in our relationship. If I had to guess, I would guess that she’d say she fell in love with me while I sang a Billy Joel song in the car and she thought it so romantic she melted right then, but I don’t know when it happened. I could tell you when it didn’t happen. How about when we were driving in the car (a lot of the beginning of our relationship was spent in the car) and U2 came on the radio. Being one of my favorite bands, I commented that I love U2. Katie, not hearing me correctly and thinking I was professing my love to her after 2 or so weeks of dating, proceeded to give a rather longwinded 10 minute exasperation of how she believes people say that way to easily in relationships and use that word to freely and that she could not believe that I would say that to her after only 2 weeks. She really flipped out, and upon my explanation of my loving U2 comment, was consequently mortified.

It also prompted the subsequent rule that she would have to be the first person to say I love you, since I certainly wasn’t going to venture down that path, accidently or otherwise. Which I guess would lead me to the natural conclusion that the night where after much squirming and trying to get out of being the first person to say I love you, she finally gave in and told me that she loved me. That would certainly be a major stepping stone in the relationship. But by and large I would say it was a gradual process. We dated for a year, then did long distance for a year while I was in Houston (relocated from New Orleans) and she was in Bakersfield, then got a cat together, and now are marrying each other. It was a very fluid, easy path we took together. At least for me.


Question 3: In what ways do you compliment each other, that is, bring things to your partner that fills him/her out as a person? What does he/she bring to you?

(My response)
I am very much a care-taker. Nothing in the world makes me happier than when everyone around me is fed, happy, etc., so in a way, I think I bring that to TF’s life. I cook, I clean (not as much or as often as I should) and I try to take care of him. TF’s life is so hectic with school that I like to think that I make it run a little more smoothly. He may not agree with that all the time, but I make a good effort anyways.

I am also a planner. Deep down he is too, but something I do is force him to enumerate his plans so that we get things done (which is also because I’m incredibly indecisive, so in that way, he definitely compliments me). He always has good intentions and good ideas, I think that I help him get them finished and maybe help him sort the important from unimportant stresses.

On the other hand, I am rather, um, high-strung. TF is one of the few people who can get me to relax, to see logic (even if not on the first try) and who can help ground me back in reality. When I get stressed out, he helps me see some perspective and he is really good about knowing when I just need him to be quiet and let me rant.

TF also is spectacularly organized. One might even say compulsively. He has helped me get myself better organized and that has definitely been a good thing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as organized as he is, but I find that I’m losing things a lot less often and that everything seems to have a place now.

(His response)
Complement each other. Hmmm. I’d say our two favorite date activities are bowling and miniature golf. She invariably beats me at miniature golf, and I always win in bowling. As long as we alternate, we strike a good balance, and I complete her? But on a serious note, I would say Katie often gets bogged down in the details of things. She breaks things down into their most minute parts, and focuses in. I, however, am a big picture kinda guy, and like to believe that I help her to take a step back and look at things more for what they are, and less for certain aspects of the whole. Similarly, she is able to get me to buckle down and actually get to work on little things. I think I also lend an open ear. I also do the vacuuming, usually, which she hates to do. Other compliments: “You look nice today,” “hey baby, come here often,” and “you are the most beautiful person I’ve ever known because I love you with all my heart and soul.” She brings me an unending source of encouragement, compliments, and a general sense that somebody loves me for who I am and that she is proud of me.

Road Trip 2008: Day 1

We logged about 730 miles yesterday, but at least 100 of those were spent at every offramp from San Antonio to Sonora, Texas (mapquest it, it's no short jog), trying to find a frigging hotel room. We were so ready to just settle in and do some shopping and relax, and more importantly, find someplace in the realm of sterile that I could deal with this dressing situation, and be done for the day. But no. San Antonio is FULL of people. Apparently the Spurs play today (Sunday) and it's graduation weekend and it's Memorial Day weekend. So even shitsplat towns like Kerr and Comfort did not have any hotels.

We got in around 10:30, whereupon I dealt with the dressing that in the 14 hours it was on had grown very attached to my incision and subsequently made it bleed and leak again (which it hadn't since dinner the night before) and really freaking difficult to re-pack. And now, after a night of sleep at the Best Western, we're getting up and getting ready to hit the road. The only objective is to make it the hell out of the remaining 400 miles of Texas. 460 of the miles we logged yesterday were in this freaking state (I'm sorry, I know some of you live here, but Texas hates me and I've grown to reciprocate the feeling) and I'm jut ready to be somewhere home-ish for a few consecutive nights.

I'm sorry, this is neither funny nor entertaining. And believe me, it's as apparent to me as it is to you. I'm living it.

Katie's Law: Take 3

Friday, May 23, 2008

How did I not see this coming? I got a job this week, finished my job that I disliked today, so clearly, some other shit was waiting around to fly at a fan. And yes, that post I’ve been promising all week is being pushed back again because I need to rant. If you don’t want to read about it, then don’t, but so help me, if you leave me a nasty comment on this rant, I will hunt you down and make you regret it. I can be twice the douche-bag you’ll ever be.

Another disclaimer, this rant contains some less than especially pretty images and again, because welcome to my life, it has to do with the boob surgery. So if you’re a man or have a weak stomach or just don’t care, stop reading. There is a more generalized rant at the end if you want to skip ahead, but I won’t be offended.



So I mentioned that I was having some issues with the boob from the surgery earlier this week. Basically, this weekend the incision opened up and there was literally just a small hole there. It wasn’t infected, but it wasn’t really okay either. I tried to band-aid it together (like you would do with one of those butterfly bandages) in hopes that it would mend itself, but, alas, this is me, and it did not. It got bigger instead.

I called the doctor and was seen yesterday. She explained that the opening was because there was a pocket of moisture deep to the scar tissue that had begun forming and when that happens, it causes the scar above it to open up. What has to happen in these situations is that the area has to heal from the bottom up, otherwise, just letting the top heal will begin a ridiculous circle of healing and reopening wounds.

So she got what looked like a really long matchstick, only the end of it was covered in SILVER NITRATE (which is science talk for really freaking painful stuff) and she stuck the silver matchstick into my boob-hole. And rubbed it around real good. She coated the entire opening with it, which is supposed to stop the top from healing so the bottom could heal first. It basically irritates the hell out of the tissue and it is about as pleasant as it sounds.

And then she took a piece of gauze and using the non-silver end of the nitrate stick of death, she shoved, or “packed” the gauze into the hole, a process that I was told to repeat twice a day until it got better, which she said should be less than 2 weeks. Fine. Unpleasant it was, but completely survivable. It was remarkably painful all day yesterday and when I went to pack it this morning I noticed that it was, um, oozing a little, but nothing terrible, so I went to work.

Here’s where it gets gross, just fyi. When I got home from work I wanted to check and see if the gauze was still in, which naturally it wasn’t, but as soon as it was not compressed by my bra, the hole started draining a shit load of fluid. Bright yellow fluid. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it looked like my boob was urinating, which is not something it should do.

I’m sorry, that is just not okay. It’s just not. I overreact a lot, but even The Fiance said I was right to be freaked this time.

So, of course the doctor’s office was closed, but they have a number on their answering machine that you can call if you “really need to speak with the doctor.” So I called and it was actually the doctor’s cell phone, and she answered it. The gods were with me on that one.

Apparently, this is called a Seroma. Basically when they took out the tissue, my body compensated by filling the area with fluid (actually, fluid and some proteins, hence the yellow) and now that fluid has a direct route from my boob to the outside world and is making really really good use of it. There’s not anything that can be done, which I guess is good and bad news. I have to wear tighter bras (I know none of you are going to feel sorry for me here, but I don’t think they make smaller sports bras, the one I’m wearing is an extra-small. I’d really rather not shop in the kids section…), keep packing it and switch out the gauze when it gets saturated with boob fluid.

Oh, and also, just to be safe, she’s putting me on Levaquin again to try and prevent an infection. Fine, I dealt with the insurance mess last time and the pharmacy insurance people assured me that I’d just have to pay the remainder of my 100 dollar deductible (15 dollars) if I had another brand name prescription to fill this insurance year.

I know, it seemed too easy to me too.

I’m not sure why I was surprised when the seven little pills rang up as 60 dollars this time, but I brought it to the attention of the pharmacy people and asked them to double check it (sidenote: to the woman at CVS, I wasn’t holding up the line because I enjoy being at the pharmacy, so you feeling the need to say loudly three separate times that there were “other people in line, you know” was just not necessary. Trust me, I noticed you and I took a slight bit of pleasure in wasting your time after you started being a snarky jerkface).

You’re going to love this. Despite the fact that this is THE EXACT SAME PRESCIPTION as the last time, my insurance is requiring me to pay because it’s not their “preferred drug” for this particular problem. Excuse me? Insurance company, are your breasts leaking yellow fluid? No? Are you my doctor? No. Then you do not get to tell my doctor what the preferred antibiotic is to prevent my boob from being infected. I’m sorry, you don’t. And would it be freaking impossible for you to be open at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon so I could explain that to you in a very loud enraged tone?

The pharmacist suggested that I call my insurance company on Monday, sort it out and then come with my receipt and get a refund for whatever the difference is. You see the flaw here, right? That would be that I’m leaving for California tomorrow. She said that’s fine, as long as I come back within 10 days. I explained to her that I would be in California until the end of June and her response (which made me laugh through my rage) was, “well, you’re screwed. Hold onto your receipt just in case.”

I am so ridiculously pissed off (and not hormonal at all) about this whole thing and simultaneously scared shitless because I’m about to take off on a 3 day drive through the middle of every tiny-ass town in Texas with a very creepy leaky boob. And if it doesn’t clear up, what the hell do I do? I can’t wear a sports bra under my wedding dress and I am sure as hell not going to wear one on the beaches in Hawaii. To say that I’m worried and upset would be the understatement of the millennia.

Moreover, this whole debacle totally overshadowed the good news I had planned to share today, which is that I’m finally finished with my job. I am no longer a teacher, which is ten different kinds of awesome. And I have a job lined up for when I get back, which is also spectacularly great.

However, I’m also completely losing my shit, and a lot of fluid and unfortunately, that’s getting a little more of my attention than it should.

Dear Assface, I mean Anonymous...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I think we need to have a talk, because clearly there is some confusion here. Unfortunately, this will once more derail my planned post, but it needs to be said, so here goes.

This is my blog. It's not yours. It's mine.

You read it by choice, by your own volition. No one is forcing you here and no one is forcing you to comment. In fact, if it was you who left the comment this morning at 10:22am, telling me that "maybe there was only one comment for a reason......" well, then I officially uninvite you. You are not welcome here anymore and henceforth your comments will be deleted as soon as I see them.

As an aside, an ellipsis, (which I'll define since all signs point to you being relatively uneducated- it's that set of dots you threw in at the end of the comment), is actually only supposed to have 3 dots. It's not like, add as many as you want to convey your sarcasm or wit. It's more like, you put 6 dots to indicate that you're not smart enough to even know what the punctuation you're using is. But your illiteracy aside, the bottom line is that you are not wanted here, not appreciated here, and most definitely not needed here.

If you have something snarky to say, give me your real name and stop being such a pussy. I won't be responding to your comments anymore, they will just be deleted. If you have something you'd like to say to me that you really feel is so incredibly important, email me, or, [gasp], leave your name. I'm sorry, it's just chicken-shit to criticize someone without leaving a name. It indicates that you know you're being a douche-bag and you just don't want to be in trouble for it. Life doesn't work that way. Seriously, grow a pair.

To be perfectly honest, my mind truly boggles with the concept of being a troll on someone's blog. Do you know me? I'm doubting it. Have I done you wrong in someway? Again, doubting it. Is it unacceptable for me to make a coy remark about having fewer than normal comments? I'm thinking no, since, oh that's right, IT'S MY BLOG. Would it have been so fucking hard to hold your tongue when I've just finished writing a blog about good things? I just don't understand you. You don't believe me when things are bad, but when things are good, you try to knock them back down. It seems like you have issues with my life. Is it jealousy, or something else?

In the end, I don't really give a crap why, because I'm sure that the reason is so spectacularly stupid that it won't be worth either of our time and frankly, I think you'd be better off using that time with a licensed psychiatrist. But back to the point, this is a blog. It's not some place where you can come to crap on other people whenever you feel like it. It's not a place where you should feel free to put me down because I'm writing on the internet. And most importantly, it's not being written for you. If what I'm writing bothers you, then shut the freaking window because you will so not be missed.

Grow up or go away. Those are your only choices and this will be the last time I deal with you.

Things I got today...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

besides slightly bummed that only one person commented on my stressed out post yesterday. Harumpf.

Anyways, today I got:

-Wii Fit! It was my birthday present, but Nintendo pushed the release date back from my birthday to today, so now we have it and it's awesomely awesome. Except that somehow, my fitness age is 29 and The Fiance's is his actual age. So. not. fair.

-An appointment with the boob doctor (for Thursday), who is apparently back in town. When I explained the situation to the nurse (I'm not going to explain to you, just trust me when I tell you that you don't really want to know) her response was, oh yes, you definitely need to come in. Think lots of no-more-stitches thoughts for me.

-Thai Food! And it was as good as last time, perhaps better. Seriously, you must go there and you must eat the calamari appetizer.

-And last, but not least, A JOB. I'm starting July 1st. It's exactly the job I needed and wanted and I'm so freaking stoked, I can't even begin to tell you.

So that post about you being right and me being wrong, yea, it's going to have to wait another day. Tomorrow, I promise!

Things I don't want to talk about

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

but which are stressing me out endlessly.

-Work: We have to give and grade exams in the same day, in addition to calling all the parents of any student who receives a D or an F for the semester to inform them that their child is required to go to summer school. Because those conversations always go swimmingly. Oh, and it's a super-good reflection of your teaching abilities when 1/3 of your students fail their exam. Which is graded on a 10 point scale. With a 5 point curve. Holy hell.

-Job Interview: Tomorrow beginning at 1:30, ending, at the earliest at 3:30. Am so stressed I could shit my pants over it. The worst part is, if I don't get the job, I'll know it's because I wasn't good enough. They don't have a big list of people they are interviewing and there's no advertisement for jobs, they just said they had room for another person and they needed to make sure I "fit in." I really really need and want to fit in.

-Wedding Shenanigans: First, is it really so hard to send in a pre-stamped RSVP card? Really? Is it? Because there are about 40 people who seem to think so. So now we're having to call people so we can figure out our actual number, which is probably going to be smaller than anticipated, so we're thinking about upgrading the meal, but we can't do that until we have a final count. Add to that, that we have to re-decide on a first dance song because my mother-freaking future in-laws ruined the one I loved (and posted last week). Please don't tell me just to tell them that it's my wedding, it's so not that simple. Because if it was, that would be pretty much the only thing I'd ever say to them. There is another issue with them right now (besides their offering advice on our honeymoon since they've now returned from it) that I won't talk about because it's just too personal but I am pissed to hell about it.

-Packing: I'm leaving for California on Saturday, which means I have to have everything packed by Friday when my mom arrives and we begin the drive. We won't be back until July, so I need a month's worth of clothes, all the dresses I'll be expected to wear to rehearsals and graduation in addition to all honeymoon clothes and wedding materials that need to be transported. Just a few things to do in addition to everything else.

-Dentist: I loathe the dentist. With a deep burning passion within my soul. Which is why I haven't been for 2 1/2 years, which is why I know that this visit won't be pleasant. That's Thursday, anticipate much ranting afterwards.

-Boob: Something is awry, I don't want to talk about it and I'm hoping if I give it a little time it will fix itself. Also because my doctor is out of town for the week, so there's not really anything that can be done. Sigh.

So that's why I'm not writing the blog I'd planned to do today, which is all about y'all being right and me being wrong. That one will have to wait until after tomorrow's interview and a big ass chill pill.


P.S. Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes yesterday. I had a superbly wonderful birthday filled with really good food (Jacques Imo's mushroom stuffed salmon...YUM), presents (including Wii Fit when it comes out tomorrow!) and just a nice relaxing day.

Twenty-Five

Monday, May 19, 2008

One year ago, on my 24th birthday, one of my life's fairy tales unfolded before my very eyes. The Fiance got down on a knee, presented me with the most incredibly beautiful ring I have ever seen, and asked me to be his wife. And saying yes was by far the best decision I've ever made.

At 24, I began planning a wedding. I took two classes in summer school, I worked at the same summer job I had worked at the 3 previous summers. I came home in August and began my second year of work at a job I didn't like.

At 24, I also made the second most important decision of my life. I chose to have an invasive neurosurgery that changed my life. I spent months recovering, I dealt with setbacks and pain. I fought through the fears, the physical therapy, the follow up tests and struggles and I can tell you beyond a shadow of doubt, that I am better today for having made that decision. My quality of life is better than it has ever been, I feel more like me than I have in years.

At 24, I faced a scare that most women my age will not face for another 20 years, if ever. I had a surgery that removed 1/4th of my breast. I received news that my chances of developing breast cancer are 5 times greater than the norm. I cried, I yelled, I prayed, I struggled, and ultimately, I learned and I accepted it. This is my life and I plan on being around for a really long time.

At 24, I struggled with doubts, fears, anxiety and arguably, some periods of depression. But I believe that I have come out ahead. I have learned, I have grown, I have become a person I want to be. I have taken control of my life and started making decisions for me. For my future.

At 24, I rediscovered myself. I began to look ahead instead of behind me. And though I've only lived a few hours as a 25 year old woman, I have a feeling that this might be the best year yet. Not because I can rent cars now or because I'm officially a half-century old (please stop reminding me of that), but because of what I have endured, because of all the things that happened at 24.

At 25, I will be marry the person that I love more than anything or anyone else in the universe. I will begin a new job, I will take the first real steps to get into a graduate program that will allow me to (eventually) do what I want to do. I will live my life and not take it for granted. I will be me and I will be happy.

24 was a year of trials and a year of growth. 25 is shaping up to be a year of beginnings. And I can't wait to see how everything turns out.

Cooking lesson the second: Caramel Oat Chocolate Bars

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Okay, so this is a secret recipe that I'm going to share with you. I almost changed my mind at the last minute because I've never given this recipe out, but I just love y'all that much. I have been making these bars for years and they're damn good, if I do say so myself. They're also spectacularly unhealthy, which is why I typically only make them if they're soon to be leaving my house. I could eat them all in one sitting, but I'd instantly gain 15 pounds. It would be so worth it.

First up are the ingredients:

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Butter
Flour
Sugar
Brown Sugar
Oats (the slow cooking/old fashioned kind)
Baking Soda
Salt
Chocolate Chips/Chunks
Caramel Ice Cream Topping

So the first thing you're going to do is take 3, yes, I really did say 3, sticks of butter and melt them in the microwave. Admittedly I used 2 sticks of butter and one of margarine, but it did change the texture and I won't do it again. I have been told that the recipe still works with 2 sticks of butter and may try that sometime when I'm not making them for other people, but right now you're going to have to trust me that it's worth it or you're going to have to take the texture into your own hands to save the calories and fat.

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You'll need to nuke it for about a minute and a half to melt it completely and then set it aside.

Measure out 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 cups old fashioned oats (do not substitute quick oats, it will not work, I promise), 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Do not put the flour away, you'll still need a little more later. Mix this a little bit with a fork, don't worry about getting it too mixed up, you just want there not to be a big pile of baking soda on the top.

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Now pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients and mix, using a fork (you don't need your kitchen aid for these). They don't need to be perfectly mixed, just well combined so that there aren't big puddles of butter or big pockets of flour.

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Now, take this fabulous concoction and press about half of it into the bottom of a LIGHTLY greased 9x13 inch pan. I like to press it up on the sides a little bit so it will contain the fillings a little bit.

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Keep in mind that the dough has no eggs in it, so there's just no reason not to sneak a taste here and there. It's goooooood. Now put that pan into a preheated (350*) oven.

While your crust is baking, pour the caramel into a bowl and add 6 tablespoons of flour to it. The best caramel I've ever found is not sold here in NOLA, but if you can get it, Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel ice cream topping is the shit.

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Now mix, but do so carefully, otherwise it's going to get everywhere. Not that I've done that every time I've made these, but I'm just saying. It'll end up a few shades lighter and a little thicker than it started. It still tastes really freaking good.

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Now set this aside for now.

The original recipe said to bake the crust for 10 minutes, but here's what mine looked like at 10 mintues...

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Just not brown enough for my tastes, so I put it back in for 5 more minutes (15 total). You want it to be very lightly brown, but neither overcooked (then the final product will be way crunchy), nor undercooked and mushy. There's a fine line. This looks a lot more like what I want.

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Now, take the bag of chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks and they worked out great), but to be honest the best chocolate chips for this recipe are the ghirardelli double chocolate chips, they're so worth the extra cost. Anyway, sprinkle about half the bag's worth of whatever chips you chose all over the crust that you've just pulled out of the oven.

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Leave them there for a few minutes to soften. Don't rush the softening, otherwise you'll rip the crust apart on this next step. They'll start softening in no time, just be patient grasshopper. See, about 3-4 minutes later, they're all melty.

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For this next step I use a frosting spatula, but any knife would do. Gently, without ripping your crust apart, spread the chocolate all over the crust. I don't go quite all the way to the edge, but pretty darn close. And I definitely lick the spatula when I'm done.

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Now, take the caramel flour mixture you've set aside and pour it carefully over the whole crust. Don't get too much anywhere, you want it to cover evenly. Do NOT mix it with the chocolate, we're going for layers here people.

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Now, remember the half of the crust mixture you had lying around? Or rather, what's left after you sat there and dipped little chunks of it into the caramel concoction (not that I did that...). You're going to use your hands and sprinkle little chunks of it all over the caramel mixture. This is an area of personal preference we're about to enter. I almost never use the entire remaining half of the crust mixture because I don't want the top to be a fully covering crust, I want there to be little areas of caramel peeking through. If you want to cake the top layer on, by all means, have at it.

Either way, once you've covered it to your heart's desires, very gently press down the oatmeal chunks into the caramel, I mean very gently, just so that it's not floating on top of the caramel, it's really more snuggling up against it. Oh, and hello sparkly ring. How are you today?

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Now pop this beautiful pan into the oven. The original recipe says to bake for 15 minutes, but once again, it just wasn't done enough for me. I think in the end I ended up baking for 18 minutes. Like I said last week, I tend to set timers and ignore them. There are no eggs here, so underbaking won't hurt anything. On the flip side, you do not want it to overcook them, because the bottom will get really crispy. They'll still taste good even if overbaked, they just won't be quite as melt-in-your-mouth soft. Here's what mine looked like after 18 minutes.

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Now, this next part is incredibly important. You will want to eat these because they smell SO good. But you must let them cool. And not just for like 10 minutes, like an hour, probably more like 2. If you cut them when they're still warm they won't hold a shape, they'll just sort of melt out into a puddle. A super good tasting puddle, but a puddle and not so much a cookie bar. So try really hard to refrain from cutting them until they're no longer warm to the touch.

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And after you wait, you will be rewarded. I realize that this is a horrible picture, but I'm pretty sure it's because a camera cannot capture the true beauty that is a caramel oat chocolate bar. Yea, it's most definitely the beauty and not the terrible photographer.


Caramel Oat Chocolate Bar Recipe

Ingredients
2 cups flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, melted
1/2 bag of chocolate chips
1 (12 oz) jar caramel ice cream topping
6 tbsp flour

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.
2. Stir together 2 cups flour, oats, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Add in melted butter. Press half the mixture into the bottom of the 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
3. While the crust is baking, combine the 12oz of caramel with 6 tbsp of flour. Mix until well combined (will be lighter in color).
4. After the crust comes out of the oven, sprinkle half a bag of chocolate chips (or more if desired) over the hot crust and let it sit (outside of the oven) for 3-5 minutes to allow the chips to soften. When they've melted, gently spread the chocolate over the crust, covering the bottom evenly. Pour the caramel mixture over the top and spread so that it covers evenly.
5. Take the remaining crust mixture and and sprinkle it over the top, covering evenly. Gently press the oats down into the caramel.
6. Place back in the 350 degree oven for 15-18 more minutes, or until the top crust is lightly brown.
7. Allow to cool completely, then cut and enjoy!

Money money money, Money!*^

Friday, May 16, 2008

(Yes, I know it's somewhat crass to talk about money, deal with it)

So it's May 16th. I got paid last Friday and as of last night when I paid my credit card bill (just the monthly required amount, no where near the entire balance) I was already beginning to worry about making it through the month. I wasn't low on cash due frivolous spending, but when your refrigerator breaks with 100 bucks of groceries in it, you have to make some extra purchases.

So anyway, I went to the bank today to deposit a check that I've been holding onto since, um, Easter, and when I got my receipt, it was immediately evident that something had gone remarkably right. I had roughly 600 dollars more than I did when I checked my account last night.

My first emotion was concern, because surely a check must have bounced or something must not have gone through and that's why I got money back. And then I remembered the only thing Republicans have ever done that I've truly supported- tax rebate. I gots me one and I loves it. I can buy my sister a graduation gift and my mother a belated birthday/mother's day present. I can even buy food next week.

Add that awesomely awesome news to that fact that my insane credit card company extended my credit limit again, so really, I'm just swimming in it, except for you know, the vast sums of debt all around me.

Good things just continue to happen to me and I continue to be petrified by how karma is going to balance itself out.

p.s. New cooking lesson tomorrow- not low fat, but absolutely awesomely wonderful. If I do say so myself.

*Edited at 12:31 am to add- now covered in hives. Can honestly say that I'd give all the money back to MAKE THE ITCHING STOP.

^Edited at 5:41 am to add- no more itching and apparently no more sleeping. If this is what money does to a person, I may reconsider my decision to leave teaching.

Occupation: Almost Unemployed

Thursday, May 15, 2008

So you may have noticed from the last post, that I am looking for a new job. It occurred to me that I haven't really talked a whole lot about my career change here, and frankly, it's been on my mind a lot lately, so, we're going to talk about it. More funny tomorrow, I promise.

When I got to college, I was all about being a lawyer. I wanted to save the world, become president and bring about the all-elusive world peace. With time and age, I realized that I was a lunatic. I could not save the world, I would not be president, and I could not produce peace, despite my deep desire to. And about that time, the registrar sent me an email that said, you must declare your major by Friday or we'll start fining you until you do. Er. Hrm.

So I looked at my transcript, which read like a palate of different flavored classes: Economics, History, English, Diplomacy and World Affairs, Cognitive Science, Geology, etc. And then I found which category had the most units, and that subject became my major. And that, friends, is how I came to get a Bachelor's in History. I do enjoy history, but it has become evident since my graduation from college 3 years ago that it is not a very functional degree. I can be a student working toward something else, or I can be a teacher.

For a long time, I thought I wanted to be the latter. I minored in education and began a credential program in California right after college. And from day 1, I was great at it. I know that sounds really boastful, but there are very few things I am naturally good at, and teaching was just one of them. I could write a mean lesson plan, I could be creative and I could get a point across. It also become evident almost as quickly, that I hated teaching. Well, maybe not hated, but definitely did not enjoy it.

I tried to convince my family that I had made a horrible mistake and that I needed to stop before I got myself farther into debt than I already was, but everyone insisted on and on that I see the program through and give it a try (my mother, father and step-mother were all teachers and are now all administrators). So I did. Mostly just because what the hell else could I do? So I got a teaching credential and a job. I have now taught for 2 years, the same subject (oddly not history) to the same age students. And in 6 work days, I will officially be unemployed. I will be a retired teacher. I will be part of the statistic about teachers who quit within the first 5 years of starting.

Teaching is such a remarkably noble profession. I wish it was for me, I really do. The students absolutely kill me, there's not a day that goes by that one of them doesn't say something that almost knocks me over with laughter. When a student raised her hand and asked me what a "pah-shio" was the other day, I simultaneously laughed and cringed when I discovered that the word was, in fact, patio. But in all seriousness, I love relating to them, helping them, being a support for them. But I do not like teaching them. I cannot handle students who waste their potential. I cannot handle laziness. I cannot handle quitting. I never realized before how big of a problem this was for me than I did today when I was grading a quiz where a student had given up and written the answer "I don't know" in the blank space for the answer. Some of these kids are wasting their potential and it just rips me up inside. I've learned that though I genuinely want the best for them, I really cannot provide it. I can't motivate the unmotivated and I can't stand aside and let them fail either.

I want to make a difference, and I think that's why I thought I might make a good teacher. And I have arguably been a fairly good teacher. I have gotten through the curriculum with time to spare and am seeing great improvements in my students' standardized test scores. I've taught them. I've imparted wisdom. But being good at it just isn't making it fulfilling. I have not once in the past year and a half, awakened in the morning excited to go to work. I know it sounds dramatic, but I really only go because I know I have to. Because I'm out of sick days (and then some). Because I need to get a paycheck. Because I signed a contract and I will keep my word.

About a year ago I realized that my passion wasn't gone, it was just somewhere else. Somewhere that required more schooling, learning, training and time. So I've been taking 2 classes and a lab each semester to try and get everything I need to eventually enter this new program. If everything goes according to plan (which it almost never does) and I'm able to get into a program in the same place that The Fiance matches, I will graduate from this new program at the age of 29. I will have taken out more loans than I can even really calculate in my head right now and more than anything else, I hope to God I will find the fulfillment I have been so desperately searching for.

In 6 work days I will finish packing up my classroom, I will turn in my gradebook and teacher's edition textbook and I will drive away from my job, my coworkers, my students and hopefully, dive headfirst into something completely new. It feels like for the first time I'm finally doing what I WANT to do, instead of what I've been told I need to do. It's like I'm finally in control of my life.

And I'm scared out of my mind and thrilled, all at the same time.

A Cacophony of Good Fortune

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So last week I got on the phone and called up 10-15 different businesses in the field I'm trying to get a job in for later in the summer and next year. About half of them had no openings, 5 of them told me to fax in a resume and 1 asked me to fill out an application in person.

So on Sunday, which was very decidedly errand day, I went to Kinkos and faxed my resumes all over the city. Have not heard a peep from anyone, though I'm not all that surprised. Today, a day with no doctor's appointments (finally), I was finally able to make it out to the place where I had to fill out an application in person.

Now, first, this place is in Kenner, which is about as far from my home as you can get without crossing the lake, but that's fine, that's something I can deal with later. It is on this mythical magical road that everyone talks about and I cannot ever find. Seriously, this particular street traverses like the entire length of Metairie and Kenner, and I've never ever managed to get myself on it. So you can imagine my surprise when I made a left and suddenly was on the street. It was a driving miracle, and those NEVER happen to me. I once got caught in the middle of a parade on a Wednesday afternoon in the French Quarter when I was trying to find Veteran's Blvd. That's what usually happens, so seriously, a miracle it was.

I did still managed to get lost, but I arrived with plenty of time, filled out my application, attached my resume and gave it to the receptionist who said, "let me give it to the owner and see if he wants to meet with you now." Oh. Okay. Totally had not mentally prepared myself for that. I did the quick check of the teeth, finger brushed the hair. Tried to cover the mustard stain on my pants and then met him.

Truly, I've never seen a man smile as much as he did. He asked me a few questions related to the job and my life and said that I seemed like a great fit. He wants me to come in next week for 2 hours and work there just to see how I interact with the people. He hugged me on my way out (I know, I'm not really a touchy-feeling person, but you hug a man who might offer you a job, no questions asked) and I'm going to call and see if I can come in on Wednesday (if I can move my gynecologist appointment. Or you know, cancel it. Either way. Yea, I'm a super hypocrite, I know, but if the choice is potential job or being violated, I'm always going to pick potential job) for probably the 2 most nerve wracking hours of my life so far.

Seriously, never has anything gone this smoothly. Like never. I'm waiting for the piano to come crashing out of the sky or for my arm to fall off or something. This is so not my life, but damn if I'm not enjoying the hell out of it.

Silver Lining

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today was a rough day for several reasons I don't really want to talk about right now. That said, there was one bright spot I'd like to share.

It seems we've possibly chosen a first dance song. I'm sticking a youtube clip of it (live) for your listening pleasure. However, I'm posting it with the understanding that if you don't like it, you'll keep it to yourself, because we really do like it and that's what really matters. I realize I'm as much as asking all the trolls to come out and ruin this song for me, but I'm also trusting you to be adults, so without further ado...

Katie's Law Strikes Again

Monday, May 12, 2008

So on Saturday we went to a Farmer's Market (2 actually) and got great fresh foods, including fresh shrimp, hummus and berries. It was great. Yesterday and I went grocery shopping and spent about 75 bucks on groceries in an attempt to begin eating healthily again. I was actually pretty pleased with myself and rather looking forward to dinners of tequila shrimp (with cilantro rice and black beans), chicken stir fry and my current favorite, tortilla soup.

And then yesterday our refrigerator stopped working. And do you know how quickly fresh shrimp stops being edible after the refrigerator stops cooling? Quickly. So quickly I couldn't safely cook it for dinner last night. And so we cleaned out the entire fridge and put as much food as we could in two mini fridges and put everything in the freezer on ice and contacted our landlord about fixing the situation.

She emailed us back- the fridge guy will be here Monday morning.

Yea, that would be NEXT Monday.

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Okay, admittedly, I completely forgot that today was Mother's Day. I haven't seen my mother since Easter (and Christmas before that), so I do have a slight excuse. I will be calling her and my step-mother and my grandmother later today when they're all awake and I will get my mom a gift before I see her next, but I definitely did not get into the spirit of it the way I usually do.

And today's post is going to take a slightly different tone. Most of my readers are women, save for a few men here and there. But all those men know women and so this should be applicable to everyone. I've been trying to figure out how I wanted to go about typing this up for some time and today just seemed like a good day to do it. Consider it my Mother's Day gift to you.

The past month, hell, the past year and a half, of dealing with breast issues has made me realize how incredibly important it is to be proactive about your health. If you are a woman, you have breasts and you need to take care of them. That's the bottom line. I know you don't want to hear this, but I'm stepping up upon my soapbox, so just listen here for a minute.

Whether you are 18 or 80, every single month you should be doing a monthly self exam. The best time to do it is one week after your period (yea, I just said period, deal with it), which is when your breasts are the least tender and when your hormone levels have evened out a little. It's not fun, but it doesn't have to take more than a minute. Though it sounds dramatic, that one minute that could literally save your life.

I found my lump myself. I sat on it for about 2 months before I told The Fiance and another month before I scheduled an appointment (much to his dismay and frustration). I was only 23 and I had no risk factors, and I assumed it would be fine. When I finally saw my gynecologist she took it rather seriously because it did not feel like a typical fibroadenoma (which is a normal breast change, many women have lumpy breasts, it's telling the difference between normal and abnormal lumps that's a challenge), and she sent me for bilateral breast ultrasounds. They showed nothing, but thankfully with my ultrasounds came a referral to a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast lumps. She did her own ultrasounds (she didn't even look at the ones the lab had done) and immediately found what we were talking about.

She gave me my choices, which were to leave it alone a month or two and then decide, or just do the biopsy and get it over with. Knowing my penchant for worrying, I had it biopsied. And yes, it was uncomfortable, but it wasn't terrible. And it was benign. Since then I've been back to that doctor every few months watching and waiting and then when things grew back again, we went ahead an re-intervened. And what we found were hyperplasias that increase my risk for developing breast cancer somewhere between 2 and 5 times the standard risk. And I NEVER would have known that, had I not been proactive about my health. Or rather, if The Fiance hadn't forced me to be proactive about my health.

Having a yearly mammogram cannot be pleasant. I don't know this first hand because instead I've had to disrobe monthly for ultrasounds, but given how many women are willing to take the risk to put it off, it must not be pleasant. The thing is that breast cancer develops slowly. It doesn't just show up one day unannounced. If you get yearly mammograms in addition to your monthly self exams, you can and will catch it early. If you have an increased risk of breast cancer- a family history or one of the other listed risks you really just cannot fool around with this.

Breast cancer found early on a routine mammogram has a 98% 5-year survival rate. NINETY-EIGHT percent. If it's detected after it has metasticized (spread) to another body part, which means you haven't found it early, the 5-year survival rate drops to 27%. Friends, that is a very big difference. It's the difference between a long life and an early death. That's probably the most terrible sentence I've ever had to type, but it is the truth and it needs to slap you in the face because for some reason, women still aren't getting mammograms. There are programs for those without insurance, there are groups devoted entirely to getting you there. There are pamphlets and websites
and races and fundraisers shouting to you about the dangers of breast cancer, and for some reason, some of you are still not getting it done. It cannot possibly be worth it.

If you're under 40 and therefore not getting mammograms yet because your breast tissue is too dense, then your responsibility is to do monthly exams. And as much as it pains me to advocate this because I mega-loathe it myself, you must also do the yearly gynecological exam, so that your doctor can perform a slightly more thorough exam. It's not pleasant (mine's next week, expect a blog with my ranting about that soon) and we all know that, but you have to do it, you just do.

I understand that this isn't the kind of mother's day present you were looking for. It's not wrapped up in a box with a bow, it doesn't sparkle or look pretty. It isn't what you asked for, it isn't what you wanted, but it is what you need. Do it for you, do it for your children, do it for your future and for theirs.

Cooking Lesson the first: Junior Mint Brownies!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Alright friends, the day has come. I love to bake. It fills my heart and stomach with several different levels of happiness. I love to take a recipe and tinker with it until it's mine and I can claim ownership over whatever changes I've made (I like to call them improvements, but I realize that people might take offense to that). I never leave a recipe alone and I almost never make it the same way twice until I'm completely satisfied with it. This one, I am satisfied with.

Today's recipe is for Junior Mint Brownies. They are technically based from a low fat recipe, and though I've made modifications, I think they're pretty much still not too bad, especially for brownies.

Your ingredients:

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Butter
Junior Mints
Flour
Baking soda
Salt
Sugar
Unsweetened cocoa
Large egg
Large egg white

I would expect that aside from the Junior Mints, few of these aren't already living in your pantry. But just as a word of advice, don't store your baking soda under your broken container of honey, or it might end up looking like this. Note that even if it looks like this, it's totally still usable.

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Alright, onto the good stuff. Put the butter and one box of Jr. Mints into a microwaveable bowl and microwave for about a minute to melt. Stir them together. Butter and Jr. Mints will not want to mix initially, but don't give up (use a fork, it's better), it'll be worth it. And when it's completely combined, it'll look like this:

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Set it aside to cool, you don't need it just yet. Try to refrain from eating it, but only because right now it'll burn the crap out of your mouth. Not that I know that or anything, I'm just guessing.

Now, combine your flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. It need not be this big of a bowl, I just couldn't find a smaller one. No real mixing will occur in this bowl.

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In a new mixing bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, egg and egg white (and vanilla if you're so inclined). A trick I'm sure most of you know- for separating an egg yolk from an egg white, break the egg in half and alternate sliding the yolk back and forth between the halves. I'm trying to demonstrate it here, but with one hand to take pictures it's somewhat more complicated.

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If you have a mixer, let this do the work for you. If you have two kitchen aids, then you can just let one of them look pretty while you use the other.

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Ahem, anyway, mix by mixer or hand until it's combined and looks a little like this. Well, you'll want to scrape that cocoa on the sides in, but you get the idea.

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Now add that wonderful mint/butter concoction you've set aside into the cocoa mixture. Definitely don't leave a little behind in the bowl to lick later. I mean, that would be a little uncouth.

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Now mix until just combined.

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Add the flour mixture, but only mix (or let it mix) for like 5-10 seconds. You don't even want to fully combine everything, just introduce the wet and dry ingredients together.

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This step you can do before, but I never remember to, so I just pause and go do this. You're probably wondering what the extra box of Jr. Mints was for, huh? Here's what I do. I take the box and spread them out on a chopping board. I then take a steak knife, and while trying not to slice my fingers off, I chop up the Jr. Mints roughly. You don't have to do this, but I don't want a gigantic Jr. Mint lump in my brownies, but I do like smaller gooey chunks. It's up to you. Frankly, you don't have to put extra ones in period, but you'll regret it if you don't.

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Now add the chopped jr. mints to the partially combined mixture. Or if you're me, add them to the partially combined mixture and all over the counter. It's a good thing we don't have a bug problem in my house.

And now mix again, but just until combined. You never ever want to overmix anything with flour in it. The flour has a component in it, where, if you over beat it, it gets tough. And no one wants a tough brownie.

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So now, pour this mixture into an 8x8 pan you've sprayed with cooking spray. My pan sucked enormously, so seriously, don't use this kind of pan, but any metal or glass one one will do. Spread the batter out so that it covers evenly, and make sure and scrape out the bowl, but you know, leaving just enough to snack on later.

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Pop this into a preheated 350 degree oven. Now, here's where it becomes tricky for me to impart wisdom. I set timers and then ignore them. I would set the timer for 20 minutes with the knowledge that it's going to be more like 25. You want a toothpick to come out clean, but you don't want to overbake them either. I prefer mine to be a little fudgey, but my stupid pan definitely changed my cooking time. Darker pans typically take less time to cook in, but that's why you set the 20 minute timer, you can gauge the doneness that way. So somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes and they'll look something like this

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Only yours might not be missing a chunk of the edge. I don't for the life of me know how that happened. It definitely wasn't because I don't have any self-control. Definitely not. Let them cool a little (as long as you can stand) and then serve. I've been storing mine uncovered (risky in the cockroach house, I realize) and they're still moist, so you're not likely to mess these up too much with your storage method. That is assuming that you don't just eat all of them in one sitting, which I promise you, you will be compelled to do.

Enjoy!


Junior Mint Brownies (recipe originally stolen from Cooking Light Magazine)

Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
2 boxes Junior Mints (I think they're 4.5oz boxes)
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 egg white

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray bottom of 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
2. Put butter and one box of junior mints in microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45-60 seconds to melt. Mix until well combined and then set aside.
3. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Combine sugar, cocoa, vanilla, egg and egg white. Mix until it's an even color and consistency.
5. Add melted chocolate to the cocoa/egg mixture. Mix until everything is combined.
6. Add the flour mixture to the cocoa mixture, mix only for 5-10 seconds, just to barely start combining them together.
7. Roughly chop up the remaining box of Junior Mints (or don't, it's optional) and throw them into the barely combined mixture and mix for another 5-10 seconds, it's okay if there are lumps, just mix until the flour is just mixed in.
8. Pour the batter into the greased baking pan. Spread so it's even and pop in the oven. Bake for between 20 and 30 minutes, depending up on the pan. Dark pans will bake faster, flimsy plastic bakeware will take a lifetime. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.