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Rachael, Kristin, Kaylan, and Kari

Rachael, Kristin, Kaylan, and Kari

Writing a novel is the best thing I’ve ever decided to do.

It’s hard work. It’s frustration and tears. It’s learning about myself one sentence at a time.

At this point I don’t care at all if anyone else loves it the way I do.

 

So, most of my spare time is in some way, shape, or form, given over to this writing project. When I’m not actually sat down at my desk or a table at Starbucks filling blank digital pages with the words in my head, I’m thinking about a character and the way they smell, or talk, or wear their hair. Or I’m thinking of what I need to go back and re-write, what needs to be added, a detail that I didn’t know until I had written this far. Honestly, it’s work that is very hard to step away from and for the first time in my life that’s a really good thing.

Last night I did take some time to step away, though, and I had dinner with my sisters.

All of them. Including my sister in-law.

We had dinner at Abuelos in Austin and then coffee and desserts at Mozart’s after.

It was a beautiful and fun time together.

I figured I’d better enjoy it while I can because someday I’ll write a novel about all of them and then they’ll all hate me. Ha! =)

photo (7)Tonight I went to dinner with my Dad and then into Barns & Noble.  I really love hanging out with my dad, especially in the middle of meeting new man friends, or at least trying to and not getting too far. Spending time with Dad reminds me that there are decent men, somewhere, and that they don’t have to be perfect, just perfect for me.

Being around my Dad is so easy, we eat dinner, we talked about random things, we make observations about the people around us and it’s just comforting.

In our after-dinner-wandering through B&N we hung out for some time in the “Christian Living” section of the store. We found the book about interpreting dreams (which somehow isn’t really about interpreting dreams at all) and both started snickering at the titles of chapters, but especially when I noticed that nightmares and dirty dreaming had been rolled into one chapter. As if they naturally just go arm-in-arm.

Maybe for some people they do, I don’t know. It was fun though and I enjoyed the time with my Daddy-O.

photoThis evening I found myself with some extra free time after nannying late and before a coffee date with a friend. I was hungry and very tired (still getting used to this low, low, caffeine in-take thing), so I decided to do something I don’t get to do very often anymore– take myself to dinner.

There’s this small local restaurant that I like for it’s casual quietness and the best burger I have ever tasted. Period. If you know much about me or my relationship to food (mostly estranged or awkward, but I’m working on it) you know that if am going out of my way to eat it, it has to be a pretty damned good burger. Typically I’ll look for reasons not to eat a burger.

I walk into the restaurant and am greeted by two young hostesses, I’m guessing that they’re eighteen or nineteenish. They both look at me expectantly, waiting to hear how many people are in my party and I have to disappoint them with the news that it will only be me. I learned a long time ago to expect a certain amount of weirdness at this moment, but these two girls acted as though they weren’t sure what to do with me. One of them looked around the not nearly full dining room as though she wasn’t sure where to sit a single diner, even though there were small tables set for two aplenty. Obvious choice, young lady, come on.

I’m seated (at one of the two-seater tables) and wait a few minutes before a waitress comes over.  My menu is closed because this is a restaurant I’m familiar with and I came in knowing what I wanted to order. The waitress looks a little distressed when she asks to take my drink order and I’m thinking maybe she’s just had a rough table. I order water and then she notes my closed menu and asks, sounding even more concerned, “You already know what you want?” I nod my affirmation and give her my order and she hurries off, assuring me that she will be right back. I was really grateful for the attention, but she said it as though she was afraid to leave me alone for to long for fear she might come back to find me trying to drown myself in my water glass in despair over having dinner alone.

At this point I start to notice the eyes of every single waitress in the place. I also notice that I am the sole single diner in the entire place. No big deal, but apparently the staff things something horrible has gone wrong with my evening to leave me on my own for a meal. I’m kind of amusing myself with the idea of waitresses imagining that I had been stood up when my waitress brings my food. She hands me my burger with a look that I feel is meant to be sympathetic but is only coming across as pitying and she asks, “can I bring you mustard?” in a tone that implies that her desire to provide companionship is so great that she’ll do it with a condiment if she has to. I pass on the mustard and she walks away shaking her head. Clearly I have lost all hope.

I enjoy my food, I read my news feeds in peace and quiet and without rushing. I am able to ignore the staring that is unabashedly taking place and I am managing not to be annoyed by the over-attentiveness and what seems like the overwhelming urge to refill my water glass of my waitress. Then the restaurant owner comes by, I know he’s the owner because most of the occasions I’ve been in his restaurant with my Dad the two of them have stopped to speak to one another. He approaches my table with a look of alarm and I’m preparing to hear that there may have been a finger in my burger or something when he asks me how my meal is, while furrowing his brow like he’s looking at a puzzle he just can’t quite figure out.

Having finished my food and paid, I was over it and ready to get to Starbucks, a land in which it is PERFECTLY FINE to be alone… in fact, in some ways I feel like the single customer is rewarded for their independence by being left alone, by being given quiet to work, write, read, or whatever singular activity you might like. In the land of Starbucks the single coffee-sippers are in the majority and they are also the ones looking on with some frustration of parties of more than three who are probably being noisier than is appropriate for a library, which is the ideal noise level for a Starbucks save for the occasional sound of a blender or coffee grinder.

I’m not scared to eat alone. Clearly. I just remember now why I don’t do it very often. Do men go through this when they dine alone? I don’t want to believe that this is just a girl problem, but I almost feel as if the perception is way worse when it’s a woman eating alone than if it’s a man, and I bet, just considering that there are a few more female waitstaff than there are male, that single male diners probably get hit on more often than female ones do.

Anyway, I appreciate Starbucks for it’s single-diner friendliness.

Dinner: Spaghetti in vodka sauce and an orange.

Every week I end up at the grocery store 3 or 4 times. I look into my pantry, see nothing to make (more accurately, nothing I want to make) and head to the store.

I have a sneaky feeling that this is like losing change in the sofa cushions. You don’t notice it while it’s happening, but one day you clean it out and find a small fortune hiding in there.

I found myself wondering if perhaps, now that it is officially sun dress season, if I would have more spare change for new clothes, if I weren’t buying random groceries 3 and 4 times a week? Hmmmm intriguing.

So I went to my pantry and my refrigerator and began an investigation. AHA! There was food in there… now just what to do with it?  While there was plenty, it seemed rather like a lot of odds and ends. So I took my query  to the internet and began google searches with phrases such as “what can you make with [insert ingredient name here]”.  In the end I found that I had a lot to eat and no reason to run to the store (except for some extra milk and eggs). What’s more is that my pantry and fridge were filled with exciting meals I’ve never cooked before! This news inspired me to a challenge… which is the reason for this post.

For the next week I am going to be cooking with what I have and blogging about how it goes.  I’m starting tonight, but I’ll admit the food isn’t interesting yet… spaghetti with vodka sauce and an orange were already on the menu for dinner before I decided to try to make *interesting food out of what I already had.

*Note that I did say interesting food and not delicious food… I certainly hope what I come up with turns out delicious, but I’m not making any promises. =)

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