Drama! And How Not To

Some people manage to wade through life entirely unmitigated by forces of drama, unnecessary upset or emotional upheaval. I don’t know who those people are.

 

That being said, while many of us like a good intrigue, or some salacious gossip, most of us do not love the drama factory working on overtime. Once upon a time I was a person who would make jokes about putting a sun porch in my drama factory because it was clear I spent most of my time there, so I might as well build a place for people to pull up a chair.

 

But eventually, I got tired, and I wanted to be able to maintain my friendships and relationships without so much upheaval. Most of our friendships tend to ebb and flow a little bit, but the up-and-down can be really exhausting, even if you love the emotional rollercoaster. So here are some ideas I came up with, if you want to slow or stop production in your drama factory.

 

1)    Turns out, drama mostly does not just happen to you.

I used to insist, “These girls! They are all crazy! All of them! They all find me! And bring their drama!” to which my good friend replied, “Yeah, and you shake your butt at drama and say, ‘nyah nyah, bet you can’t get me.’” And she was correct. There is some reason, if it’s about attention, or if intimacy is scary unless there is a torrent of uncertainty and push-pull happening, which distracts from Big Feelings. Whatever it may be, there is some reason you are shaking your booty at drama and daring it to come get you. To which I say, What Are You Avoiding? And What Would Happen if The Drama Slowed Down? (also, another fun project: not calling people “crazy.”)

 

2)    Figure out what it is that you do when things get drama-rama.

As far as I can figure out, most people cause/get involved in drama because of some whack coping mechanism that they picked up a long time ago that isn’t serving them anymore. Like fr’instance, when I was in middle and high school I got really good at instigating fights between two friends of mine, who would then be angry with each other, but instead of talking to each other about things, they would just tell me all the mad mean stuff they were feeling, and I would relay between the two of them. This mostly just escalated things, but it was a highly not-good way of being in everybody’s business, which is kind of like being good friends and having good times and everybody liking me best, right? 

 

Point is, there’s probably something you’re doing that’s not serving you. Some need probably isn’t getting met, somewhere somehow, and there is some funky thing that you are doing to manage your Needs and Feelings instead of addressing them. Turns out those things don’t go away.

 

3)    Sometimes it’s not drama.

Some people refer to anything as “drama” that they do not want to deal with. This goes for feelings, (theirs and other peoples) abusive relationships, hard feelings, transition, change, whole grains, etc. And that is not the same as unnecessary drama. That is Bad News Bears and should be handled accordingly.

 

4)    Use your words.

And I know this is easier said than done, especially because of things like sexism and white supremacy, where people with a historical weight of oppression are discouraged from taking up space and stating their needs because they’re not entitled to have needs. But your words are one of the most powerful things you have to bring to the world, and your relationships. There are a number of Well-Meaning or Nice people who know much better how to engage with you in ways that work for you if they know how. Avoid Not Nice people whenever you can.

 

5)    Nobody can read your mind.

 

This goes back to #4. Hinting broadly does not count. I am a well-meaning doofus most days. I cannot read your mind and neither can most people.

 

6)    Boundaries are good.

 

 No is a complete sentence! It turns out! Even if it may mean people think you’re rude/pushy/frigid/self-centered. Folks who have been socialized to appease other people have a really uncomfortable time setting boundaries and maintaining self care. Sometimes it’s a learned survival strategy. Also, here’s the other thing:

 

7)    You are entitled to have boundaries and get your needs met and take up space.

 

It’s true. Because you’re a person, and therefore you are entitled to those things, even if nobody in your whole life has invited you to take up space or asked you whether it was okay to hug you or asked you what you needed.

 

8)    You cannot control anybody else’s behavior. Ever. At all.

 

Unfortunately. It is much to the chagrin of everybody everywhere that their friend/partner/co-worker/bus driver just can’t get it right in spite of polite reminders/text messages/tantrums/death glares. Most people are open to influence, but most folks will resist being controlled, and really straight up, stuff is out of your control.

 

And while there are lots of things you can do to ease your own aggravation, obnoxious people will probably still continue to be obnoxious, and that is hard.

 

Sometimes, when I am at my wit’s end and I cannot think of anything at all except how bad I want to say cutting things to people, I have one very basic strategy. I imagine what it is like to be that person. In one particular recent case, I imagined what it would be like to walk around every day in a grumpy mood, feeling defensive from the minute I woke up, and snapping at everybody around me. That would suck.

 

9)    PUT IT DOWN. LEAVE IT ALONE. WALK AWAY. RESIST THE URGE TO SEND THE TEXT MESSAGE. USE FACEBOOK FOR GOOD NOT EVIL.

 

10)  Take good care of yourself.

Usually drama is a function of some kind of avoidance of Feelings or Loneliness. You can’t unlearn drama unless you’re figuring out some other way to take care of yourself. Political organizing? Online dating? Gardening? Whatever it is, go find a hobby that you love. Make an active practice of being sweet to yourself. Notice when other people’s behavior pushes your buttons, and before you launch into an anxiety spiral-or in the middle of one-catch yourself. Reel yourself back down to earth and get situated wherever it is that you feel solid.

Good luck darlin.

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carrot salad and black eyed pea soup

Girlfriend asked me to write down these recipes, because they were tasty and improvised, and so I am giving them to the world via dear neglected food blog. Here goes.

Walnut Carrot Salad

Toast about 2 cups walnuts in the oven at 400 until they are brown and toasty. Probably 15-20 minutes.

Rinse off about 5 carrots, and blend them up fine in the food processor. (we have to chop them up pretty small because our food processor is old , but you not have to go to such lengths.)

When the walnuts are toasted, chop them up coarsely, and mix them together with the carrots, 1 1/2 cups golden raisins, and mix them up really nicely with A Lot of lemon juice (maybe 1-2 tbsp?), your choice 1/4 cup veganaise/yogurt/nothing, 4 tbsp brown sugar (or sweetener of choice), and just a tiny bit of salt. It is so yummy.

And, black eyed pea soup:

Boil black eyed peas at a ratio of about 2:1 water: beans, though add water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Simmer for 1-2 hours.

Saute 1/2 onion and 5 cloves minced garlic until brown, eventually adding 2 chopped bell peppers, and cooking down 1 can crushed tomatoes and about 1/2 cup pesto. Throw in the black eyed peas, and allow to stew together until it cooks down. Salt liberally and enjoy.

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veggie ragout

So, here’s a little somethin for ya:

Saute an onion and maybe 6 cloves of garlic until brown, throw in about a pint of cherry tomatoes (or, yknow, as many tomatoes as you can find), mix in a bunch greens (we used chard, but collards or kale would be good too), serve on top of friend polenta. Apparently this is called veggie ragout.

I am learning to like polenta. It lives in the world of Stereotypically Lesbian Food that I have avoided eating until now, when I am deeply In Relationship with a nice vegetarian girl who believes in things like hummus.

I eat hummus now. I never used to. I tried to make it once, and swiftly came to the conclusion that as long as I live spitting distance from Trader Joe’s I shouldn’t bother with buying things like tahini.

Actually, hummus with bell peppers or baby carrots is pretty good.

And I also threw lots of money at one of my favorite produce stands recently, and came home with things like yucca root and nopales and dried hibiscus flowers. What this means remains to be seen, but I think I am going to make yucca fries. Be warned though, although yucca is a lovely starchy gluten-free alternative, there are two kinds: bitter and sweet. If you get the bitter kind, you need to boil it until it’s soft, if you eat it raw it has some chemical component that will turn to arsenic in your stomach. Whoops. I don’t know how anyone figured that out, but it probably didn’t end well.

 

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you’re a no good heartbreaker-triflin’ trifle

trifle! is tasty, and british, and certainly not triflin’ like the title would suggest.

I used to go to tea when I lived up in Bellingham, WA; this adorable tea shop would serve trifle in teacups. It was great.

(i had a valentine-making party. which requires dessert. obviously.)

I recently bought a very cute Mollie Katzen cookbook- called something like the magical land of vegetables (not enchanted broccoli forest) and have so far made the pineapple rice (which has lots of turmeric and mustard seeds and other yummeh in it), and this trifle recipe was another reason for purchasing it. So yes. Onward.

Find or make a poundcake (or like I did, make a vanilla box cake from the co-op and add extra butter, because my mom maintained the difference between pound cake and white cake was butter).

Then cut it up into little pieces, and put it in your favorite medium-sized glass bowls.

Pour over it 1/2 cup “fruit nectar” (mortals call this juice, I think) and 1/2 cup cream sherry (harvey’s bristol cream is what I bought at the liquor store, I was unreasonably cranky about having to go to the liquor store because it is far away, but it is crucial and worth it.)

Over this sprinkle lots of raspberries. I purchased a huge bag of frozen raspberries from the co-op, and they were outrageously expensive, but delicious. These could be substituted for other kinds of fresh or frozen fruit, but traditionally they use raspberries. I wonder if using salmonberries would be neat in the summertime.

So right. Sprinkle raspberries. 3-4 cups. omg.

The recipe instructs you to them “cover tightly and chill for up to 4 hours.” You may do this if you wish.

Dump on some vanilla yogurt (I used all of a 32oz tub), whip some cream and layer that on, sprinkle on some more fruit and slivered almonds and (if you like!) cinammon.

Done!

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squash chickpea fritters

 

But here’s a recipe for you that I have had repeated requests for-my friend found it in it’s original form in Sunset Magazine, and I will deliver to you my own improvised version.

Ingredients:

1-2 cans chickpeas (or you can soak overnight and cook for a couple of hours, if you’re feeling really ambitious)

2-ish cups of roasted squash (acorn/butternut)- this last time I threw in some yams, and sweet potatoes would probably also go over well.

1-1 1/2 cups flour

1- 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

1-2 eggs

spices: garlic, thyme, sage, rosemary, salt, red pepper flakes.

This is how we do:

Grind the chickpeas and squash in the food processer into a creamy pulp. I only recently acquired a food processer in a free box, and it is dinky and sort of surly, but does amazing things also that our blender does not do.

Mix the pulp in with flour, bread crumbs, eggs, and spices. People have really different opinions, and I’m too much of an improvisational cook to give you a decisive answer, about exactly how much flour and bread crumbs there should be. Use however much it takes to make them stick together without getting dry.

Next, put a frying pan on medium with some oil, and get ready to fry these suckers. It’s just like make latkes or falafel. So, plop down a few dollops, pat them down if you can, and flip over when they’re crispy and golden on the one side. That’s a good time to squish them down so they are flatter, and cook through and don’t stay squishy and gross in the middle.

Let them hang out on some paper towels to soak up the excess oil, and eat ’em.

It’s good too with yougurt sauce. (yogurt, with garlic, salt, and thyme, and maybe some dill but we didn’t have any dill)

Enjoy!

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hibiscus orange scones

Orange-Jamaica (hibiscus flower) Scones

4 & 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup chopped dried hibiscus
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried hibiscus and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

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spicy cucumber salad


I got this recipe from the Moosewood website-it’s such a great recipe, had to transfer it.

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Crisp and chilly but spicy hot, this is a very zingy, refreshing salad that adds relish and interest to many of our Moosewood combo plates. Without the optional roasted peanuts there is virtually no fat in this salad, but we think the peanuts are really nice on top. Serves 6
Total time: 15 minutes

Dressing
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ fresh green chile, seeded and minced
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root

2 medium cucumbers
¼ red onion, very thinly sliced
coarsely chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Stir together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chile, black pepper, and ginger root in a serving bowl.

Peel the cucumbers, halve them lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Slice the cucumbers, crosswise into ¼-inch-thick crescents. Add the cucumbers and the onions to the dressing and refrigerate.

Serve cold, garnished with chopped roasted peanuts, if desired.

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