That time Frank from HTGAWM killed my BFF

This is Frank.

Frank is a character on the Shondaland show called How to Get Away With Murder. Everyone on this show is hot and brilliant and full of secrets (even the ones with little to no hair.) Frank is fascinating and also sleeping with the hottest woman on the show. He’s also got a v. strong henchman vibe, which is probably why my subconscious made him the person who burst into our home and took away Sigot. Why did he take her away? Because she is chronically ill and was not seen as worth saving, so he took her away to EUTHANIZE HER.

YEAH. SCREW FRANK.

I begged and pleaded and tried to stop them, but they made me leave. I had to take a walk around the block and when I came back, it would be done and I could say goodbye to her EUTHANIZED BODY. I SWEAR TO GOD THIS WAS THE DREAM.

So I went on my walk and when I came back, Sigot was not on the…death bed. Frank was on the death bed. In his stupid slacks and stupid black undershirt. I asked him where Sigot was and he would not tell me. He refused. And then I woke up. It was AWFUL. The only good part about the dream was that I knew what caused it. It wasn’t some messed up crap my subconscious dug up. 

It was from my volunteer training last night. Seriously. The shelter used to, sadly, euthanize a majority of the animals they received. The numbers were heartbreaking, especially for injured or seriously ill animals and from only five years ago. Things are radically different now, but my brain internalized that horror and extrapolated it out to Sigot, and even though it was clearly a dream, I still burst into tears the moment I woke up. Because someone EUTHANIZED MY PERSON and that someone was Frank, who probably seduced Laurel when he was done because that’s just what he does.

 

 

Still Loyal, Still True

Proud and immortal
Bright Shines Your Name
Oklahoma State
We Herald Your Fame
Ever You’ll Find Us
Loyal and True
To Our Alma Mater
O – S – U

I love this time of year. Once the calendar shifts from early September to late September and then into October, I begin to feel the weight of summer slough off. Not only does the weather change and the leaves fall, but also my body starts to crave the late afternoon sunshine, the dead grass, the pumpkin spice everything and long scarves. Often times, my thoughts drift back in time to when things were easier and simpler. They inevitably drift back to my childhood, like most melancholy thoughts do. I loved my childhood. I had my own kingdom. Multiple kingdoms, in fact, that I viewed as my domain. My safe place where my mind came alive with stories and characters and transformed simple things like a stone wall into a hedgerow in a field.

One of my safe places was the campus of Oklahoma State University. Like so many people in that region, I grew up bleeding black and orange. Both parents, my brother, and I all have degrees from OSU. My father worked for the university until I graduated from high school, and my mother worked at the university for 10-15 years, as well. I spent many, many hours roaming the halls of Life Sciences East, where my dad worked in a lab. I would later work in the same building as a student, and I remember walking those halls again, as an adult, and seeing ghosts everywhere I turned. The kind old ladies who worked in the main office. My dad’s colleagues in the lab, most of whom were much older than him. They were my honorary uncles and grandfathers.

Because I often accompanied my parents to work during the summer, I spent a lot of time trekking back and forth between their offices, cutting through buildings and trembling in fear at the size of the classrooms and the booming voices of the professors. Life Sciences West had terrariums that held snakes, right there on the first floor, I would stare at them, transfixed and terrified, until I would tear myself away, shivering with excitement and fear.

I got donuts and little cartons of milk at the Dairy Barn, which is exactly what it sounds like: an old dairy barn. Like so many of the old buildings on campus, the Dairy Barn had been transformed into something more useful to humans, and I actually spent some time in the attic of the building as a student, running inventory on things that no one used.

But my favorite place on campus? The entire reason I always wanted to go to work with my parents? The Duck Pond, or as it’s more formally known, Theta Pond. I loved the Duck Pond because there we ducks, lots of them, and also fish and lots of exciting little bridges to explore and dream about.

Theta Pond - Flickr

Theta Pond – Flickr

It was my own little space, a place I allowed other people to enter simply because I was nine and couldn’t possibly keep an entire town and university from crossing through. The trees were my forest and the bridges carried me across rivers too large to wade across by foot. In reality, the water was stagnant and often reeked of…I don’t even know what that smell was. It was and is uniquely Duck Pond-y.

Another chunk of my childhood was taken up by football. Most notably, attending football games with my family and their friends. We’d hang out at a dive bar near campus, back when it wasn’t unheard of to allow children in a bar with their parents. The bathroom was dingy and terrifying and as I grew older, would become the setting for several emotional breakdowns by female characters in stories I wrote because the bathroom was the perfect setting for the dashing of dreams and hopes. It also boasted a pair of paper mache legs that disappeared up into the ceiling. I, of course, was convinced it was a witch who would get me if I went to the bathroom alone so thanks for coming with me all those times, Mom!

The marching band doing marching band things

Marching band, 2002

Football games in Stillwater are a day-long event. Tailgating starts early and goes hard until game time. And then it continues to go hard for those without tickets, those who willingly hang out and listen to the game on the radio and cheer along with the fans in the stadium. Those stoking the fires. We didn’t do a lot of tailgating when I was little. Tailgating for us was the bar and friends and then a happy, loud walk a few blocks to the stadium.

Lewis Field, 2002

Lewis Field, 2002

As a little girl, I watched Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, Mike Gundy, and countless others bring fans to their feet. At that age, I didn’t like football but I certainly liked the energy and excitement and stadium food and HORSES. A perk of growing up a fan of the Cowboys? Horses. So many horses! We have Bullet, our official horse. Bullet runs the field before games and after touchdowns and is as beloved and revered as other live mascots across the country. Bullet is always solid black with light hooves and he’s a special horse — how many horses do you know that can enter a stadium of 50,000 screaming people and maintain calm and precision? He does, however, poop everywhere. He IS a horse, after all.

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

(A quick aside: as a little girl, my obsession with horses was like, ridiculous, and my favorite horse was the Clydesdale. One year for Homecoming, the Budweiser crew marched in the parade, complete with their team of six clydesdales. My dad worked his ~inside connections~ to the university and got me an up-close and personal meet-n-greet with those horses. I don’t remember much aside from being lifted onto the top of a barrel so I could actually pet them. They were beautiful and docile and I still want one.)

The old west end zone, 2002

The old west end zone, 2002

As I grew older and began to think about college, I had the usual rebellion against what my parents had done. I wanted to go to school far away, where I thought I could find…something. I looked at Colorado and Oregon but never applied. I knew, deep down, I’d go to OSU. And I did, willingly. I loved every second of that experience, as miserable as parts of the non-college experience were. As a student, my relationship with the university changed. It became a place where I invested in myself and where I learned about other people and cultures and became a better person.

OSU is my home.

As the news of the tragedy began to unfold through various app alerts on Saturday morning, the first tears I cried were tears of disbelief. Is this Stillwater? Did this happen? Why? How? At the parade? What on EARTH? It was incomprehensible. It shouldn’t have been; tragedy strikes OSU at odd times and with much force: the basketball team’s second plane crashing in 2001, two women’s coaches and two alums/donors killed in another crash in 2011. Ten years span these two events but for the OSU family, that span is much, much smaller. We find ourselves wondering why we’re going through all of this again.

I posted on Facebook and as the likes and comments started rolling in, I silently crossed off names on my list. This person is okay. This person is okay. Oh thank god this person is okay. I texted my brother, who lives a few blocks from the site of the accident. He wasn’t there and was fine. I messaged my bestie and waited, checking my phone every 30 seconds to see if she had responded. As more time stretched, I became more and more fearful. But then the message came. She was fine. Not there. Fine. Her son and his marching band crossed through the intersection with the first responders behind them in the parade. Several minutes later, the car tore through the intersection. Her son was safe. So many others were not. As the day wore on, one of my friends got the call from her boss. I immediately thought of my own work family and wept.

The thing about OSU and the Cowboy family is that we know about perseverance. Whether we gain it from having a really bad football team for duration of my brother’s years at school (do NOT get him started on that because he still holds a grudge) or from a horrible tragedy like this, we know about the strength of the heartland and pulling together. We know about putting rivalries behind us for the good of the state. And this just isn’t a State characteristic. Our biggest rivals, the University of Oklahoma, has been nothing but a class act all weekend. Their band flew our flag during pregame ceremonies and the OU chorus started their performance this weekend with OSU’s alma mater.

We lost four members of our family this weekend. A beautiful little boy named Nash. His mom is a student at OSU, practically a baby herself. A young woman named Nikita, a student from India. I cannot imagine the pain her family must feel, being so far away from their daughter. And an older couple, taken together, perhaps mercifully. They were my parents’ age.

It makes no sense. Tragedy’s defining characteristic is the senselessness. We all struggle to find some sort of meaning or reason when these things happen. She was mentally ill. She was drunk. She was on drugs. She was an untreated diabetic. In the end, those details really don’t matter now. Whatever happened behind the wheel that morning, the consequences are set and permanent. Calling her ‘crazy’ won’t place Nash warm and safe in his mother’s arms. Not allowing women to drive solves nothing. (Yes, people actually said that.) It isn’t a conspiracy theory involving black and orange and the media. (Again, yes.) It’s a tragedy. Someone either made a bad choice or suffered a medical crisis that took four lives with a fifth hanging on and 45 other people injured, many of them children under 13.

Stillwater is a beautiful town. When I fly home to visit my family, we go home to Stillwater. Sometimes I’m sad because the town has moved on without me, just like I’ve moved on without it. But then I’ll see a familiar landmark, a street called Duck. We’ll drive by my old apartment, which doesn’t exist anymore, and I’ll miss my friend, who has moved on just like me. I’ll marvel at the remodels on campus, the new buildings. I’ll head over to Morrill, my home away from home during my four and a half years, and I’ll sit on the steps in the sun with my bestie and reminisce about claiming that spot for our brainstorming sessions in upper level courses. We’ll eat too much food at Joe’s and laugh until our sides ache.

And then I’ll remember that this is Stillwater. This is home.

Pardon the absence, I’m a really bad blogger

Did I ever make my post about finishing the Whole 30? I don’t think that I did, but here’s the short version: I finished it and it was wonderful and life-changing and WOW. One of the biggest benefits, aside from loosening some of the bonds on my relationship with food, is the farmer’s market. I know it seems like a pretty obvious thing — go to the farmer’s market and buy lots of really amazing, locally grown produce — but doing so revolutionized the kitchen for me. Plus I’ve been watching a lot of Food Network lately. Okay, so maybe a lot of this has to do with the constant cooking in front of my eyeballs. Whatever the case, I’m enjoying the kitchen a bit more these days and last night I made this corn salsa that was so good that we ate it all with dinner and now I’m sad that there’s not any corn left to make more.

IMG_8504

I used this recipe as a base and then modified it based on what I had available. I roasted the corn under the broiler by shucking and rinsing the ears, then brushing them a combination of light tasting olive oil and taco seasoning, which I made from this recipe. Popped them under the broiler for about 5 minutes, turned them and let them roast for another 3 minutes. Once they were cooled, I removed the kernels with a knife, tossed in some diced cilantro and red onion, squeezed half a lime in, and added a little salt to taste. I eyeballed all of this because I only had 3 ears of corn and Sigot isn’t a fan of red onion and cilantro, but I did a good enough job that she liked the salsa AND requested more AND scraped the bowl to get the last few kernels.

We had the salsa with taco salad, which is one of my favorite meals EVER because there’s something about all the fucking brilliant flavor of Mexican food in salad form, mixed with tomatoes and avocado and good salsa. My taco salad is super easy:

  • Whatever amount of ground beef you have
  • Taco seasoning of your choice (I used the recipe linked above)
  • Leafy greens of your choice (spinach for us)
  • Salad ingredients of your choice (I used tomatoes, avocado, and the remaining bits of red onion & cilantro)

Brown the beef and add taco seasoning. If you use the recipe above, they recommend 1 ½ tbsp per pound. Prepare your salad while the meat browns! I like to chop my greens because getting a huge mouthful of giant spinach leaves makes eating salad less fun. When the meat is done, drain it or use a slotted spoon to spoon some out onto your prepared salad. Top with whatever you’d like — cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole — and put it directly in your mouth hole.

IMG_8505

I’ve been doing other things in the kitchen, too! I’m not going to knock anyone’s socks off yet but I’m having fun and it’s keeping me somewhat sane, so yay to all of that.

More taco salad

More taco salad

IMG_8509

Gluten free cheesecake with fresh blackberries

Green onions that smell like heaven

Green onions that smell like heaven

Pan-seared steak and veggies

Pan-seared steak and veggies

Stir fry with fresh veggies

Stir fry with fresh veggies

I do breakfast, too

I do breakfast, too

Simple salad

Simple salad

MOAR BREAKFAST

MOAR BREAKFAST

A roast sleeping in a bed a veggies shhhh

A roast sleeping in a bed a veggies shhhh

I am somehow not yet dead

It’s Day Three of our second Whole 30. If you remember, we did one last year and I had to stop after 10 or so days because I was too sick to eat and all the meats and fibrous veggies & fruit were impossible to get down at all. So Sigot completed the Whole 30 on her own, like a BOSS. I returned to my steady diet of not being able to eat but sometimes occasionally being able to choke down an Ensure.

Fast forward a year and some months, and we’ve started another Whole 30! It’s a lot easier this year because I’m not sick, but it’s still hard as EFF and I get cranky a lot because I want SUGAR and also CHEESE and also SUGAR SUGAR and CHEESE. I know that this will pass, so I’m hanging on because these cravings won’t kill me, jfc Self.

Right now, I miss my ⅓ creamer ⅔ coffee mornings and am convinced that by the end of this month, I will be a big fan of lattes. I don’t like lattes right now, unless they are chai lattes. It’s a battle for me. The coconut cream and the cinnamon and the cocoa are fine and all, and I’d be set if I liked lattes. But I don’t. My next experiment will include vanilla beans. I’m excited! But for right now, I might go make another latte because I really love coffee.

We visited the farmers market on Saturday morning for the first time because we are usually slackers and don’t get out of bed in time. I’m glad we were able to get our shit together because we scored a lot of delicious produce for about $30. Bunches of carrots, cilantro, peaches, strawberries, green onions, spaghetti squash. This morning after our run, I grabbed the strawberries, dumped them into a plastic container with a freezer cube, and we took them to the dog park for a snack. I ate like 3 on the way. THEY’RE SO GOOD. Well done, California farmers!

I’ll try to keep you posted on our Whole 30 progress! Like, maybe I’ll take pictures and stuff and show you what we’re eating and how much I already use the immersion blender I bought YESTERDAY.

coffee is complicated now

coffee is complicated now

Chapel Hill shooting: My best friend was killed and I don’t know why

Fusion

21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha was shot in the head alongside her husband and her sister in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday. A preliminary police investigation suggests that the fatal shootings were the result of a parking dispute, but the possibility that it was a hate crime has not been ruled out. A 46-year-old neighbor, Craig Stephen Hicks, has been arrested and charged.

Here, Yusor’s friend, Amira Ata, a teacher, tries to make sense of the tragedy—and recalls an evening when the alleged shooter arrived at the victims’ apartment because he thought they were making too much noise playing a board game. He came to the door with a rifle, Yusor told her. 

As told to Latoya Peterson.

Yusor Abu-Salha was like a sister to me.

We’ve always been together. Starting in third grade, we went through elementary school, middle school, high school, undergrad in Raleigh, North Carolina. We were inseparable.

I’ve never…

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