One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

03.25.2010 Games People (Hopefully) Play March 29, 2010

Filed under: Friends — onefabulousthing @ 10:16 pm

I am realizing that some of the things I select as the One Fabulous Thing of the day have the quality in common that they are, in fact, “things.” That is to say, material objects that cross my path. I am also realizing that some of these things are items I purchase that hint toward the life I would like to be leading, but maybe not exactly the life I am leading.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this per se, because material items can serve as tangible stand-ins for things that are more ephemeral. I do believe in the Art Buchwald saying, “The best things in life aren’t things,” but I don’t think it’s always an either/or propostion. An example of this is the Fabulous Thing for today: The game Anomia.

I read a reference to this game online today, and after reading the description I ordered a copy. The first thing that attracted me was the description of the game itself, which is centered around random knowledge and information. That is a game that is right up my alley. A few years back, I impressed not only a potential suitor but my own sister with the volumes of random crap I was able to pull out during a winning round of bar trivia (Viva la Team Awesome-O, if any of you are reading!). This marginally-useful but endlessly amusing skill is something that many of my friends share, and it has led to many fun rounds of Trivial Pursuit, Scattegories, Catchphrase, and Cranium over the years and around the country. My husband and his friends are no slouches in this category either.

This is what I was thinking of when I impulsively hit “send” and ordered myself this game: how fun it would be to have all of our friends and family sitting around our (mysteriously much bigger in my fantasy world) living room, playing this game. Of course, they are separated by a lot of distance from one another and from us; but the hope remains that there will be times when they are closer and the kids will be in bed and there will be enough good drink and good food and we won’t all be too tired, and there will be this great game to play and laugh about for hours.

Then afterward, when the people shooting the beer commercial have left, and our friends have gone home, we’ll have a ton of new inside jokes with references to trade on for years.

So, Fabulous Thing #84: A small investment in memories that haven’t been made yet.

 

03.24.2010 Just Keep Stirring March 27, 2010

Filed under: Food — onefabulousthing @ 10:24 pm

Today, I made risotto. Risotto has always been one of those sticking points in my culinary repertoire, the thing that I have had a mental block against due to perceived difficulty and fussiness. Also, I am generally known to be rice-challenged.

Say What?

Yes, that’s right. I can’t cook rice so that it is the appropriate texture. It is either tooth-crackingly underdone or a pile of mush, and it has gone down both roads using equal amounts of water, the same amount of time, and the same pot. I am absolutely certain that this curse has befallen me because I masterminded a shell game of housewares that resulted in my husband’s much-beloved but undeniably ugly and unitasking microwave rice cooker being passed on to his cousin a few years back.

My fallback plan has become the packets of frozen microwavable organic brown nice from Trader Joe’s, and they have provided a serviceable base to pile stir frys on and a worthy companion to chicken, pork, and other proteins. I bought a container of aborio rice for a slow-cooker risotto recipe recently, and decided to bite the bullet and try the basic risotto recipe on the side of the container.

As I cooked the shallots in the butter and olive oil, I started to get a little panicked about timing. I was cooking salmon on the stovetop as well, and wanted to incorporate a green vegetable in there somewhere. I got the chicken stock and the cup of rice in place, knowing that once the rice hit the pan there was no turning back. I added the rice and cooked for a few minutes, then one cup of stock. I stirred gently in a figure eight pattern as I had been instructed, trying to coax the grains into absorbing the stock.

At a certain point, I had to use my stirring hand to get the salmon going. I put the silicone spatula down, knowing that I was most likely dooming my risotto to failure by leaving it for more than a second. But you know what? It was actually OK. I started the salmon in a separate pan, and returned to the risotto, stirring and adding more stock and adjusting the heat when it felt like it needed it. The recipe had no time on it, so I went with what seemed to make sense, tweaking things as I went along.

When the salmon was just about done, I tasted the risotto and was pleased with the creamy texture and the still-intact, but not too hard, grains. I threw caution to the wind and added a handful of parmesan cheese and some frozen peas with a grind of fresh pepper. A minute later, the peas were perfect and the risotto was served, on time, with the salmon.

Lesson learned. I let some things get built up in my mind to be so precious and difficult; but when I actually get my hands into it, it’s easier than I thought.

So, Fabulous Thing #83: Risotto, conquered.

 

03.23.2010 Hung Up – A Haiku

Filed under: Household — onefabulousthing @ 9:31 pm

By today’s sweet end

All clothes in their proper place

Husband, meet hamper.

So, Fabulous Thing #82: No clothes on the floor, or in baskets on the couch, for this one moment.

 

03.22.2010 MiniMe March 25, 2010

Filed under: Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:52 pm

In the past few positions I have held, one of my responsibilities has been recruiting, interviewing, and hiring therapists for various programs. The realities of community mental health centers and their operating budgets mean that the majority of these candidates are recent graduates from their Masters programs. Over the past seven years, I have met many men and women this way, and have selected some of them for positions.

Through this process I have learned that I should trust my instincts. The skill set needed to succeed and thrive in a job where you work to help people who sometimes don’t really want help (but yet somehow make them think it was all their idea to begin with), and where you have to go to their homes to do it (where often they are not present for your scheduled appointment), and where sometimes at the end of the day you are left feeling more like you are living the life of a mythological character rather than a professional therapist is varied. Being a little nuts helps. Being really flexible and open to new experiences is important. Being OK with using a lot of public bathrooms on the road is a necessity. These are hard things to assess in an interview, though if someone is really nuts quite a bit of that peeks through early on. (I am a therapist myself after all – I am trained to spot this).

What my instincts have told me is that people who are like me do well in jobs like these. “Like me” is a pretty varied skill set as well. Quirky sense of humor helps. Relentless optimism about the amount of impossible things one can do in a day is important. Being OK with a lot of domesticated animals crawling all over you is a necessity.

It is also essential that someone come into a job like this willing to learn new things. As a supervisor, it is a challenge to try to help people learn things who aren’t open to learning them, while they are trying to help people who don’t really want help…you see how it goes.

Today I was able to offer a position to a woman who meets all of the above criteria. She is a lovely, intelligent, passionate young professional who will be a great addition to the team. In addition to that, she has shown herself to be conscientious, professional, and unfazed by the things she has heard about our experiences in the field. Her enthusiasm about accepting the job to work with us was a little catching, and through it I was able to connect myself back to the time in my life when I was in her shoes. It’s nice to have those sparks once in a while that reignite your interest in the pursuits you have chosen.

In addition to that, it made me think about the wonderful clinician I had as my first field supervisor, and how much I absorbed from her about clinical skills, effective management style, and how to find the best public restrooms. We are still friends today even though our career paths have led us in separate geographical directions, and my experiences today made me think that I should acknowledge her positive influence on my life in some way. I am happy to be a part of the process for the clinicians I have supervised, and I hope that I can be a positive influence for them.

So, Fabulous Thing #81: Reconnecting to my chosen field by remembering where and who I was when I started out.

 

03.21.2010 I’ll Just Go Ahead and Say It

Filed under: Humanity,Politics — onefabulousthing @ 10:15 am

I’m really glad that Congress passed the Health Care Reform bill today.

A lot of people (or at least a very vocal segment of the population) look at these reforms as some sort of handout, and I have seen and heard a lot of references to people on welfare, people who don’t work for a living, and so on. What I think these people fail to realize is that our tax dollars already pay for all of those people to get health insurance. And what is wrong with that, exactly? Are they concerned that if people have to stay below a really low income level to continue to receive benefits, then they won’t have any incentive to go out and work?

I am concerned about that, and that’s why I’m glad the reform bill passed.

The other part of this whole “handout” meme is that it is somehow un-American to get any type of support from the government, and people should be more self-sufficient. Are they concerned that young adults getting out of college will have a hard time moving out and becoming independent? Well, they already do have a hard time becoming independent, and many parents support their offspring in various ways well into their 20s. Having to worry less about getting benefits and concentrating more on getting their careers established and getting on their feet will hopefully help that. Besides, their parents can always choose to kick them off the plan or have them contribute their share of the premium if they choose. That’s a parenting decision, not a government decision – but at least now thay have the option of extending good, affordable group plan benefits to people who might not otherwise get them.

Regarding self-sufficiency, the options that will become available after these reforms mean that it will be more realistic for people to start their own small businesses or work independently, without having to worry that they are leaving themselves and their loved ones without a safety net in the event of catastrophic illness or say, a pregnancy. What is more American than entrepeneurship? Do you think the Founding Fathers really expected that we should all end up working for large corporations or the government? (I will save my comments about how deliciously ironic it is that a lot of people who view any type of government involvement in healthcare as an abomination are people who have benefits that are paid for by taxpayer dollars, and who luuuurrrve Medicare…oh wait, I guess I just said it.)

Even if I believe the group of people who say that these health care changes will cost us one trillion dollars over the next ten years (and I don’t), I’d still rather have that money spent on keeping our citizens healthy, happy, and productive than on killing people in a nation that never seriously threatened our national security. I know that the comparison is not that facile, but I do feel compelled to point out that there seems to be some funny lines drawn about where “we” spend “our” money. Also, if my premiums go up slightly on my very, very good health insurance plan in order to ensure more sensible coverage and treatment for other people – I’m OK with that.

If you are one of the people who bristles at the idea of being “forced” to have health insurance coverage, then I am sorry. But if you choose not to cover yourself, you better have the money to pay when you do get sick or need care. Otherwise, kindly refrain from using my money to go to the emergency room in that inevitable circumstance.

Most people are one or two crappy twists of fate away from being in a situation where they or a loved one in need of medical care with no means to pay for appropriate treatment. I know it’s hard to think about, but it’s essential that you do before judging whether or not these reforms were needed. How do you get your health insurance? What happens if the policyholder loses their job? Do you know all of the things that are not covered under COBRA, or if you would even be eligible? How much money do you have in the bank? Enough to pay $100K for emergency open heart surgery, or $30K for the safe delivery of your child?

As the great Jerry Maguire once said, we live in a cynical, cynical world. I, myself can fall into that trap sometimes. But no one wants to see kids left without health coverage, or parents who are demoralized because they can’t work their families out of the poverty level for fear of losing their benefits. No one wants to see senior citizens choosing between food and their medicine. Everyone wants to see those strange characters who artificially tan themselves into skin cancer taxed for that particular brand of crazy. (Or is that just me?)

Is this a perfect solution that will meet everyone’s needs? No. That probably doesn’t exist. But this is heading us in the right direction, I think.

So, Fabulous Thing #80: Health care reform.

 

03.20.2010 First Day of Spring March 21, 2010

Filed under: Family,Style,Weather — onefabulousthing @ 9:09 pm

The first day of spring found my son and I on the beach before lunchtime. We headed to the paint store in the morning, where a lovely and knowledgeable woman helped me select the appropriate products for painting the wood trim in our house as part of my Spring Cure efforts, then carried the things out to my car for me so I could wrangle the kid.

After that, we poked around a consignment store and found a Raggedy Ann and Andy toybox on wheels that should be helpful in decluttering his room, with the added bonuses of adding a retro touch to the decor and saving one thing from the landfill.

Next stop was supposed to be a gardening store to pick up some soil to start seeds, but my son’s patience was wearing thin. Because I am a lucky duck, our route home from errands passes right by the town beach. It was such a gorgeous day I decided to pull in and see if the baby wanted to feel the sand in his toes for a while. He did.

I happened to have my camera in my purse in case I saw any home furnishings that inspired me, but it turned out my inspiration today was less stationary and more sandy.

We stood holding hands at the edge of the water, and let the icy cold waves lap at our toes. Two very nice girls watched my purse and our shoes. My son made a beeline for some other child’s shovel and pail, and I made a mental note to get him his own as soon as possible.

At home the windows were all open. The baby ate his sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich with a small side of sand, then crashed for a nap. When my husband got home from golfing and the baby woke up, we went for a walk around the neighborhood and talked about very important things and very silly things.

Back at home, the baby went down for bed and I cooked dinner. There were pastries for dessert. We didn’t go to bed too late.

Welcome, spring.

So, Fabulous Thing #79: I can’t find one thing about today that wasn’t fabulous.

 

03.19.2010 Sick Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — onefabulousthing @ 8:16 pm

I didn’t go to work today, and my son didn’t go to daycare. Here’s what happened today:

  • We both stayed in our pajamas until 10:30
  • I got a jump on the weekend laundry
  • I took a long, hot shower while my son played on the floor of the bathtub
  • I fell asleep in the chair in my son’s room while he took a nap in the middle of the afternoon
  • We took a walk around the neighborhood before dinner and enjoyed the sunshine

Here’s what didn’t happen:

  • Someone calling me from the office to say that all work had ground to a halt without me there
  • The productivity police coming to my door to give me a fine for mid-afternoon napping
  • My son’s daycare questioning whether or not he was really that sick since we were able to go out for a walk
  • My husband coming home and asking why I hadn’t gotten more done during my day at home

So, Fabulous Thing #78: An unexpected day at home, and not too sick to enjoy it.