Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, 2012

I really don't like pretending that a particular day definitively bookends a set of experiences that can be neatly packed away resulting in a clean slate; it's just not realistic. But I do like the ritual of taking stock, envisioning of our better selves, and purposeful and deliberate thought put into how we want to be or what we want to do differently.

And while 2012 wasn't necessarily a bad year—it was quite good, actually—it was bumpy.

2012 started off with major surgery in January to remove uterine fibroids, which resulted in a hip-to-hip pelvic scar and several weeks of convalescing. And though there were only 1–1½ weeks where I was unable to take care of myself, it was difficult to acknowledge my limitations (however temporary) and let other people do for me. Not something I do easily.

My mother was also here while I was recovering from surgery. I thought she felt somewhat betrayed by our decision to move to North Carolina since we had been talking about moving to Oregon. I thought by having mom visit it would make her feel needed and give her a chance to see where we live instead of having this great unknown blank space when she thought about where we live.

In hind sight, I wish we had planned her visit for when I was more able to spend quality time with her instead of spending most of the first week in a pain killer-induced haze. I wish I had been able to take her out to actually see the area we live in instead of her being stuck in the house with us because Scoob was working and I could not wear a seat belt or ride in the car.

We had originally planned for a 2-week visit, which somehow got extended to 3 weeks. Sometimes I wish we had left it at 2 weeks; there was a lot of stress in the house, and I was ill equipped to handle it gracefully what with being semi-conscious/coherent. But I also think 3 weeks would have been just fine if we all hadn't been stuck in the house together.

At the same time, the 17-year marriage of close friends was crumbling and we found ourselves doing a lot of listening and hypothetical rationalizing. I remember that Scoob and I suddenly became much more attentive and appreciative with each other. We touched more, made time to be together more, and made a more deliberate effort to communicate better. In the end, our friends were not equally committed to working it out and they separated, though it has been reassuring to watch the wife land on her feet and bounce back from having her world unexpectedly upended. She is resilient.

February, March, and April were mostly spent marveling at spring in North Carolina, building and planting our garden, and helping our friends adjust. Though there was a particularly bright spot in April when I learned one of my favorite video bloggers, Ze Frank, was blogging again. I'm not quite sure what that says that this is my stand-out moment for spring, but he never fails to make me think, laugh, or appreciate something in a wholly new way.

I hit a personal wall around May, finally taking a good hard look at how alcohol in my family (in a general way) and my mother's battles with alcoholism (recently and specifically) actually affect me. While wrestling with this, I also pissed off my mom and was more or less disowned. While I may not have completely vaulted that wall, I am much more aware of how it has shaped part of who I am and how I interact with others. (On a side note, I did speak with my mom for the first time since then last week. It was a pleasant conversation, but we did not address the elephant.)

Also in May, my bestie's husband received a heart transplant. I still marvel at how quickly he received a heart after going on the transplant list, at how so very many things had to coincide and happen just so for this to happen, at how well he has recovered. And despite the falling out with my mother, I found myself up to my eyeballs in gratitude. That both my bestie and her husband's families were close by and supportive, that friends and extended family were stepping in to help, that their church family was looking out for them, that they had made the transition a few years ago to homeschooling, …There was absolutely no shortage of things to be grateful for there, but I was also grateful for the peace and calm of our lives here. I found myself making prayer a regular part of my days and nights, and spending a lot of time thinking about faith.

In June, we had a fantastic day at the zoo, and Scoob and I learned we would both be losing our jobs by the end of the summer. My last day was July 13, while Scoob's was August 31. So our summer was spent putting ourselves in order, revising our resumes, and gearing up for the job hunt. And, really, the job hunt has pretty much been our top priority for the rest of the year.

I had some strong leads on jobs and was approached by a headhunter late-October for a job working with ebook conversions. A job very similar to the one I was doing with my previous employer and as a freelancer after being laid off. And after a total of 10 interviews, including a flight to Connecticut for 3 of them, I was finally offered the job; my first day was December 19. Scoob is still on the job hunt.

I've spent the last couple weeks filing HR and benefits paperwork, and training, and adjusting to being a morning person. Even though I'm home-based and work in the US, I'm technically part of the India production teams, which has meant lots of morning phone calls with India. What this typically means for me is setting my alarm for 6:00am so I can wake up enough to check my email—I've missed 2 meetings so far where they emailed me at 2:00am to notify me of a meeting at 7:00am. If there's a meeting, I need to get up and make coffee and breakfast before my meeting starts. And if no meeting is scheduled, I can either get up anyway and exercise, or blog, or read, or whatever (not that this has happened yet or even been an option), or I can grab a couple more hours of sleep and get up to start work by 9:00.

I thought they were sending my out to San Francisco at the beginning of the year, but that fell through and now I am preparing for a trip to India around the end of January depending on when my passport arrives.

That pretty much wraps up our year. It's been a good, if turbulent, year, and I'm looking forward to 2013.

I hope that you're able to see and focus on the positive as you look back over the year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Apricot Canapes

I made these tasty little bites for an appetizer/cocktail party last weekend and they were a hit!

Even better? They were a breeze to put together and a nice option for guests on a gluten-free diet.

apricot canapes

Apricot Canapes

Prep time: 10–15 minutes
Total time: 10–15 minutes

    dried apricots
    goat cheese (chèvre)
    freshly ground pepper
    pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
    kosher salt

  1. Top dried apricots with about a ½ teaspoon of cheese and sprinkle with ground pepper. Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. (Whole lotta sprinklin' going on.)

It doesn't get much easier than that and it's an excellent recipe for little helping hands in the kitchen.

I found the original recipe here, but I cannot digest blue cheese so I switched it out for goat cheese and chose to add the pepper earlier for greater stickability. My pistachios were unsalted, so if you're working with salted nuts, you may want to skip the kosher salt at the end.