Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy, Happy Day!/Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

Couple things:
First, not only was I able to confabulate far enough in advance to plan and coordinate a trip for the kids today that was super awesome (and actually WORKED OUT; how often does THAT happen?!?), but was able to find a decent recipe for my favorite Middle Eastern soup:

(Serves from 8 to 10)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 small hot pepper, finely chopped (I used red pepper flakes)
8 cups water (I used 4 cups chicken broth, 4 cups water and a little bouillon)
1 cup split lentils, rinsed (I totally cheated and used yellow split peas, which was plenty tasty...)

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin (I toasted 1/2 tsp cumin seed and added it as well)
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of saffron
2 Tablespoons white rice, uncooked (skipped this, might add a couple carrots next time..)
1/4 cup lemon juice

Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté onions and hot pepper over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except lemon juice, and bring to boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. Puree; then return to saucepan and reheat. Stir in lemon juice; then serve.

MMmmmmmmm! Shahrazad-a-licious!

Oh, and most importantly:

After enough collective moments of pontification and random bits of insight, I was FINALLY able to make some progress regarding the teenage angst that I've had such a hard time identifying and resolving all summer, and it's about freaking time...

To wit; I've recently joined Facebook, which over the past few days has brought to the forefront ever so painfully how bad I have been over the years at establishing and maintaining relationships with *anybody* thru the course of my lifetime. Whereas the few people I've "friended" have set up their pages and have gone about getting scads of people here and there to become their "friends" (it's an evolutionary process you can see unfolding as people you're friends with make other friends and then can see the friends of their friends and add them once they determine that they sat next to them in the third grade, etc and etc), I've pretty much reached my saturation point pretty early in the game. To make matters worse, I've spent quite a bit of time now wracking my brain trying to remember the names of people I've known over the years, and to be honest-- either I have no recollection whatsoever of their identifying characteristics such that I can find them, or it's highly unlikely they will remember me any better than I remember them, gar! And in addition-- and perhaps worst of all-- as I've been peeking into the pages of those I'm closely related to, I've come to realize that I had NO IDEA how little I know about them, their lives, their families, and how little they know of mine (and then vacillating on wishing that MORE of my family had Facebook pages so I could peek into their lives as well).

I've said in one of my few lucid moments of self awareness over the years that one of the strangest aspects of my life is that there are very few witnesses to who I've been-- very infrequent visits to the homeland, contacts with childhood friends, old boyfriends, school teachers, etc. All the ghosts of my past are far far away, and are rarely-- if ever-- revisited, barely remembered, and over time the memories have faded into nonexistence. New life experiences quickly took over the void that was to become my past, and then POOF! It was as if the first 18 years of my life never happened.

When you add the fact that I have the worst memory ever and barely remember the details of really *anything*, it's not hard to imagine how I was able to develop over the years the ability to keep reinventing myself-- new jobs, locales, people I've interacted with in a superficial and temporary way for years and years, none of whom I've really kept in touch with as I kept mindlessly putting one foot in front of the other. Logistically, I have turned my back on as many as 10 different lifetimes, each full of coworkers, neighbors, jobs, life experiences... never to return. And it's not as if I had set out to do it intentionally-- it's just what I'm good at, what comes naturally to me.

So with the recent advent of my school reunion (sorry to beat THAT horse for the 80 millionth time but it's what got this ball rolling in the FIRST place...), and now this existential Facebook crisis, I've come to realize that I've spent the past 20 years drifting through life in a constant state of new people and new things, day after day after day, while never looking back, expecting to settle down, make friends, put down roots, or touch anything in an meaningful way. I get too close; I get nervous, I keep moving. Life is messy, and I prefer not to get involved... and now it's becoming a pattern: I avoid doing the same things over and over, going the same places, because I don't want to be recognized, be accountable. And strangely, without my even knowing it, what was once a novelty has evolved into a pathology... and so it goes.

And all these many years it's worked for me, never been a problem-- until things like reunions and social networking sites force you to pause and look back on your life, take an inventory, and make you realize that while the past 20 years may have offered you an interesting amalgam of life experiences and novelties to chat about wittily at a cocktail party, you don't have much of substance to show for it.

And that's IT! That's the angst that's been driving me to distraction for months now on end.

Yippie yahooey, hip hip hooray, I figured it out!... And while I'm glad to have THAT mess all sorted out into a tidy pile, the real work begins of how to fix it, start forming relationships with people that will "stick"....and I have no idea how to go about it.




But what is it that they say? A fault recognized is half corrected??

All I can do is hope that the same Facebook mojo that helped me discover the origin of my internal conflict will also assist me in finding a resolution, that magically after all these years I will overcome my distrust of all things human and finally settle down;-)

It can happen...

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