Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have . . . quirks. I'm not sure if that's the best word for them, but yes, that's pretty much what they are. Sometimes they're my Achilles' heel, but most of the time, they just make others chuckle at my own uniqueness.

I got caught yesterday singing and (sort of) dancing in my car. I drive with the windows down and the music up -- at times, regardless of temperature. Last night, I was in a turn lane going home from work and a van was in the turn lane next to me. As I was nodding my head and singing along to my favorite Steve Miller Band song ("Jet Airliner," if you must know), I glance over and notice the guy in the van with his window down, giving me a thumbs up. Apparently I passed muster with the electrician -- my musical tastes are acceptable. Embarrassed, I smiled and gave a little wave. Thankfully, at that moment, the light turned green.

Welcome to my life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The ABC's of Robyn (because I got bored at work)

A is for . . . Alex - my adorable boyfriend. I really wish he were closer. I feel like a bad girlfriend for that, though -- it is quite a selfish wish.
B is for . . . Boobs, because I can't stand mine. How am I supposed to sufficiently strap these down for running? I mean really . . . B could also stand for 'bruises,' which I seem to be covered with at any given moment. (Case in point: a lovely little blueish-hued patch on my shin is forming after said shin collided with my desk.)
C is for . . . Clumsy, which is a pretty accurate description of me and one that goes hand-in-hand with B for bruises.
D is for . . . Dogs. I love them. I never thought I would be a dog person, but I totally am. I miss the babies at my parents' house and contemplate clever ways to kidnap them and take them to my apartment. D could also stand for 'directionally-challenged,' which seems to mark my everyday existence.
E is for . . . Elizabeth, my middle name, which I've never especially loved but feel like I'm slowly growing into.
F is for . . . FAIL, which is a resounding chorus when I attempt a great number of things.
G is for . . . God, who reminds me to slow down, stop trying to take the wheel and be thankful for my many blessings. G is also for Grammy, a human being who also reminds me of many things I think God wants to teach me.
H is for . . . Health -- something I'm striving for in many ways, but am sometimes too lazy to really commit to. I slack off, I cheat, I rationalize my lack of activity with my (somewhat) healthy eating habits. I am working on it, though.
I is for . . . Inspiration, which I struggle to find but nevertheless feel profoundly when it happens.
J is for . . . Jokes, which I seem to make a lot of. J is also for "joe," as in a cup of, without which I couldn't function as a human being.
K is for . . . Kites, which I have never flown.
L is for . . . Long-distance. I seem to love it: long-distance drives, long-distance running, long-distance relationships. I don't know what my draw is to any of these situations, but I have an inexplicable pull towards all of them -- perhaps because the first is pacifying, the second is challenging and the third allows to grow my abilities to pay attention to, make time for, and care about a person other than myself.
M is for . . . Manners, which I am told some are a stickler for. I know I'm not perfect, but would it kill you to return calls or messages? I mean, really, getting married is no excuse . . . I've known people with more to do than work and plan a wedding who are a million times better than you at this. Which makes me wonder . . . If you've got work, school and no wedding to plan, how busy can you be that 30 seconds of a text message or 4 minutes for a phone call is TOO much in a 24-hour day?
N is for . . . Nonsense and the fact that I really try not to put up with it. I call it like I see it (mostly) and do what I can to bring up issues so I don't blow up over them later.
O is for . . . "Oh crap" -- my favorite daily expression. Also stands for "optimistic" -- something I struggle to be on some days, but find no problems with maintaining on others. (Why is that?)
P is for . . . Patience, something that I don’t think I've ever possessed. This particular 'p' word makes me think of my friend Hollyanne and her husband, Simon, and how I could learn oh-so-many lessons from them.
Q is for . . . Quick wit, which I'm told is something I actually have. Hurray for small victories!
R is for . . . Random -- the story of my life. Could also stand for relationships, which also say a lot about my life.
S is for . . . Silence, which at times tells me so much more than words ever could. Often silence is peaceful, but when coming from a phone it can be painfully deafening. S is also for standards and mine are high.
T is for . . . Therapy, which my future children will need much of. 'T' is also for tonsils, which I still have.
U is for . . . Understanding, which I try to be - especially when I'm hearing things that I really don't understand. I hate excuses, cop-outs and lame offerings of apology, but if you really want me to understand something, please explain . . . I'm curious.
V is for . . . Vehicular manslaughter, which is I guess is the appropriate term for what I would do to all of the rude people I encounter every day. Also stands for "vivacious vixen" which is what I envision myself as when I'm actually jiggling all over the treadmill. (See "h" and the note about "working on it.")
W is for . . . Watermelon. I could eat my weight in it, quite literally. It's not officially summer until I've had some.
X is for . . . Xmas, which is the most annoying misspelling I've ever seen. Really, you're too lazy to spell out "Christmas"? Dang . . . I feel sorry for you, son.
Y is for . . . YOU -- who are probably more important to me than you'll ever even realize. Y is also the distinguisher in my name - Robyn. I get the biggest kick out of people spelling it right on the first try without asking.
Z is for . . . Zero - the number of things that I can think of to say at this point, the number of excuses I'm usually willing to accept and the number of times I have been to San Diego, which seems like a travesty.

On a crisp morning . . .

I'm drinking coffee sweetened with a bit of raw sugar. (I know, I know - I gave it up, right? I felt weak this morning . . .)

I have a lunchbox full of goodies -- miso soup, spinach salad, avocado, tomato, and an orange. And kombucha! Can't forget that . . .

I'm listening to Simon & Garfunkel.

I'm supposed to be working on webpages (in a minute . . .).

I am thankful. Life is sweet in this moment - even the stuff that's not so fun or sweet, I can ignore for just a second to embrace that overall, things are good. In a few short moments, I will likely be pulling my hair out or jumping the gun on something, but right now, I'm good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Results are in!

The dal turned out DELICIOUS! I'm posting a picture below, but I promise it looked prettier! (I put in the dollop of yogurt and realized as I started to stir that I wanted a picture much like Rachel's, where I found the recipe.)

Next time, I'll make the trip to get the jalepeno pepper -- it would have done well to have that additional heat to the dish. Rest assured, though, if you're not a fan of spicy, this is still delicious without it.

It took me a while to make . . . probably close to 35-40 minutes, but it was my first time, so I was a little nervous about a.) having everything, b.) doing it in the correct order and c.) not just 'winging it' as I often do. I'm almost positive I'll be able to cut about 10 minutes off my time the next time I make this.

Happy cooking! :)

P.S. Whole Foods designed an iPhone app that allows you to search recipes based around special diets (gluten free, vegan, etc.). This will make my culinary experiences so much more fun, I think.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vegetarianism: Week 2

I've finalized my challenge details: one new food each week, using it in as many recipes as I can. (And by "as many," I mean "most likely 1-2".)

Will be cooking lentils tonight. I have never cooked lentils before, but this seems interesting. I have the spices needed to make dal, an Indian lentil stew (sort of), but I have no experience. This could be interesting . . .

Things I'm loving today:
- my boyfriend texts me this morning to tell me that he drove from his house to school with his glasses on top of the car (I really did laugh out loud at that point)
- kombucha
- my salad (lettuce, tofu, avocado and chardonnay vinaigrette)
- going home to a (somewhat) clean apartment (Laura came over for dinner last night, so I frantically tidied up proving that I need to have company over more often)
- the prospect of cooking

Friday, November 13, 2009

Cat Stevens (see also: Why I'm in Love.)

I love Cat Stevens. I have a collection of some of his more well-known songs, but I aspire to own every album he's made on vinyl. No joke. Below you'll find me jotting some thoughts about my favorite songs by him:

This song makes me want to dance energetically and joyfully. I can hear this come on in my car and it automatically propels me into a much better mood. Of course, I have never heard it on the radio, which means I'm forced to listen to it on my CD player . . . on repeat of course. ;o)

Father and Son
I think I literally wept hearing this the first time. The discourse between a father and his son (hence the title, Robyn), it really gets to me. At one point, his voice breaks with emotion and you can feel your heart wrenching . . . just a little.

Peace Train
My inner hippie loves this . . . I love the optimism, the camaraderie.

Where Do the Children Play?
This song breaks my heart just a bit with the truth of it. I always picture an inner city neighborhood and try to imagine what it's like to be a kid playing baseball in a not-so-safe park. Though he's not really talking about that, it's what comes to my mind.

The First Cut is the Deepest
I think what gets to me every time about this song is how bright, almost cheery it sounds . . . until you listen to the words. The hurt, the pain is very carefully played upon in an almost tongue-in-cheek way, which I have always thought to be very clever. This is probably his most well-known song, but that doesn't deter me at all.

Anyway . . . Just a few of my (many) favorites. My CD of his music is getting worn out and I've only had it a few years. :o)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The accidental vegetarian

At the end of August, my family put down one of our beloved golden retrievers, Scooter. Throughout the last few years of his life, the words "asshole", "punk", "jerk" and "bully" were bandied about to describe him. He was the kind of dog that wanted to be the alpha dog, but since Rosie (our oldest golden and the REAL alpha dog) put him in his place about it, he settled for stealing toys from Hunter, our middle child and total pushover.

Scooter once swallowed a dishtowel. (Yes, you read that correctly.) After a very expensive operation, he was fine, but before it had blocked him up so bad he couldn't get anything down. (The dog didn't just eat it, he swallowed it whole.) After that, he had some intestinal issues from time to time.

Then, last summer, we noticed that he was having problems with more frequency. In March, we thought we were going to lose him when he couldn't even keep water down. He was severely dehydrated and stayed overnight at the vet hospital because he had been vomiting so much and couldn't even drink water. They said there wasn't a blockage, that it didn't look like a parasite, and were fairly confident that whatever had hit him had passed but they kept him to keep him hooked up to an IV for the night.

Flash forward a few months . . . The vomiting is happening again. At first it was occasional and we figured he had just reacted to eating too quickly. It became more frequent, but the vets we were taking him to couldn't find anything wrong. Labs, ultrasounds and other tests were coming back clean.

Ten years ago, we lost our first golden retriever, Sam, to lymphoma and in the midst of all of Scooter's health problems, the terrifying thought hit us that we were experiencing the same thing all over again. Scooter started to refuse food, partly I think because he knew he couldn't keep anything down. At this point he was on a diet of boiled rice and chicken, which isn't really healthy for dogs but it's easy on their tummies when they're sick.

We finally came to terms with the fact that there wasn't anything we could do for Scooter. He had no quality of life and our snugglebug was suffering. The last Saturday in August, we took him up to Elk Grove (where we have always received excellent vet care) and had him put down. Our vet in San Jose had weighed him the week before and he clocked in at 80 pounds (he was a big boy). Dr. G in Elk Grove weighed him before we put him to sleep and he was 68 pounds.

I don't care what the lab panels say, if he lost 12 pounds in a week (15% of his body weight), there was something eating him from the inside. Dr. G said that we had every reason to believe that he had something serious that would likely only show up when it was too late. We said it probably was too late. The dog was too young for more surgery (he'd had several over five years), was too sick to eat and was suffering.

As hard as it was, we truly believed we were being merciful by putting him to sleep. And even months later, we're still struggling with it. We miss seeing him. I miss the way his eyes would close when you scratched his head in just the right spot. I always laughed at him because he seemed to think he was this petite puppy who could cuddle up to your neck -- perfect snuggle size -- except he was 80 pounds of blonde ambition. I'm chuckling as I write this because I'm picturing Hunter on the floor, chomping away on a Nylabone and Scooter walking up to him and snatching it. No contest from Hunter.

My dog was a great dog and I still wish there were more things we could have done. But the only thing we could do to ease his suffering was put him to sleep. He died with dignity - we couldn't bring ourselves to let him go on and not be able to do normal things (like eating) without major intervention and if we had, he was slowly starving to death already.

Yet so many animals die horrible, ugly deaths needlessly. I don't care if they can't communicate with me like a human being, they still can experience pain, fear and suffering. And it's because I couldn't stop Scooter's suffering that I feel the need to stop the suffering of other animals. I can't change anyone's mind on this (and I'm not sure I'd want to purposely do that), but I can feel peace with myself for not creating a greater demand for meat - one that causes other animals to suffer.

Culturally speaking, I could never imagine eating dog meat. However, I have (up until now) seen no problem with beef. There are parts of the world where this is exactly the opposite and really it's our social, cultural moors that define which animals we feel okay with consuming.

I've dabbled with vegetarianism before, but it's only been recently that I have really thought through my feelings about animals what I feel I can give back to them. And I'm pretty sure choosing not to eat meat is a big start for me. Scooter was a part of our family - a very important part - and there still seems to be a shadow on the house when his name is mentioned. We had him cremated and the box of ashes was on the mantle until it became just too hard for my mom.

I love animals and I don't think I'll be eating them anymore.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fines and fees

I'm so glad the library let me pay my fees online -- I never even had that option in Fresno which meant if I wasn't able to physically go down there and pay my fines, they would acrue even higher until I did.

Of course, I probably should be returning my stuff so as not to incur fees, right?


Better luck next time, kid . . . Of course, two days late gets me $3 in fees for six DVDs, but still, it's the principle of the matter. The nice thing is, they let me renew the DVDs (even though they were overdue - some libraries don't do that with media), so I have a few more days to watch the movies I set out to watch in the first place.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Life, and the need of one.

I really do need a life.

I feel like one of those pathetic girls who goes to work, does what she's told and goes home to wait for her boyfriend to call.

Seriously. That's exactly how my days have been going so far. While I love my job and think my boyfriend is a pretty great guy, I feel an itch to be doing something more. I was kicking around the idea of an evening class at the nearby JC, but obviously, that's not something that can happen right now since we're well past enrollment. Maybe next semester.

In the mean time, I'm dying to climb again. I have no calluses on my hands. No rock climbing muscles . . . I used to love climbing so much. (And from a girl-who-is-trying-to-watch-that-figure's perspective, you'd be amazed at how many calories you torch in an hour of climbing -- upwards of 800. No joke.)

During the summer after graduation, I recommitted to the sport that I'd only engaged in a mild flirtation with -- and I ended up with a broken heart. Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but I did rip open a few of my fingers and sprain my ankle when I fell about 15 feet off the rock wall and I wasn't clipped in. (Yeah, not one of my brighter moments.)

Getting back into climbing after that was tricky. Initially, I'd go back to the gym, clip myself into the auto-belay and try to climb on. I never made it to the top, I'd drop myself down before getting 3/4 of the way up. The first try was the most successful, but I compulsively checked my waist to visually confirm that, yes, I was clipped in, I was secure, I was fine. However, looking at my waist also meant peripherally looking down, which would catch my breath and drain the blood from my face quite literally.

About a week later, I was at the gym trying to get back on the horse (er, wall). I grabbed holds, put my feet on the wall and climbed another two holds. My feet were about five feet from the floor, my head closer to ten, but I couldn't do it. Every time I dared reach higher, nausea hit my stomach and I felt lightheaded, fuzzy and faint.

I've never been an especially skittish person. I've not shied away from many challenges, but those walls were so beyond daunting. It took actually belaying with a friend about a month after the accident to help me feel more secure (I could feel the tension in the rope- ergo, I knew I couldn't fall.)

Yet I miss it.

The Arillaga Sport Center (the most accessible rock wall for me) at Stanford offers membership to Stanford employees for $20. Total. For that bargain price, I get a badge that I swipe at the door and I can climb to my heart's content.

So back to my original point of getting a life . . .

I've also filled out a volunteer application with San Jose Animals. I'd like to volunteer at a shelter, socializing dogs and cats to be adopted. But I also signed up for customer service work as well. Wherever they'll have me, I'll go.

Between the gym and animals, I think I'll have a much more interesting life. Or so I'm hoping . . .