A Berry Oat Cake for the Birthday Girl

It’s my birthday today! To celebrate the magic of the big 3-1, allow me to share a recipe for a sort-of-healthy birthday cake. Full disclaimer: I doubt I will actually bake this cake for my birthday today. I’ll probably be lazy (AGAIN) and let somebody else do the work, if I have cake at all. Chocolate could very well be involved in lieu of cake. My kitchen love affair gets a little cramped in the summer months. ๐Ÿ™‚

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I’ve already established how much I enjoy working in the kitchen on this here blog, yes? (I know for a fact I’ve already confirmed what a nut I am when it comes to cooking for road trips, and I’m pretty sure I’ve also demonstrated the peculiar/OCD issues I have with using other people’s kitchen utensils before, so if you’re not convinced of my love for cooking just yet, let’s just pretend that being a compulsive, nutty, non-borrower of other people’s crock pots equals Big Time Kitchen Love.)

I love making things from scratch whenever I can, and I’m also somebody who strives to waste as little as possible, food or otherwise. I’ve been making our own almond milk for over a year now and, after documenting a few initial mishaps (which of course were Freshly Pressed– WordPress loves celebrating failure!), I’ve become a well-oiled machine with the process: Soak almonds. Add water. Blend. Strain. Blend again with vanilla and dates. See? Simple!

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about making almond milk from scratch was having the almond grits left over. What to do with a bunch of soggy almond bits, save for tossing them in the compost bin? I tried making chocolate truffles with them before, but the results were mushy and gross, to put it politely. (I have a serious chocolate addiction and even I didn’t want to eat these truffles, if that says anything.) Anyway. I wanted to doย somethingย with the leftover almond curds, but unless I wanted to excel at food failure, it seemed that the compost heap was the only viable option.

Almond grits in all their glory

Enter the Berry Oat Cake.

The recipe for this cake (which is more like a mild afternoon loaf than it is like a hyperactive kid’s birthday cake) secretly came from a “diet” book (sssh!), but given the amount of times I’ve eaten a quarter-plus of a pan in one sitting, I can safely say that I’m not losing any weight from it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ What I like about this recipe– aside from its addictive, not-too-sweet quality– is that I can easily and deliciously incorporate my almond grits into it. So what if I make this cake exactly as frequently as I make almond milk, i.e. weekly? At least I’m not wasting any food by doing it! “Eat up, honey bunches”, I tell my husband when yet another Berry Oat Cake emerges from the oven: “We’re recycling!”

The edible version of “waste not, want not”

(Marty is an eco-warrior, too. He does his bit for the environment by dutifully eating his share of the berry oat cake each week.)

It goes without saying that this cake can be made without soggy almond grits, too. You don’t even have to make it weekly like we do– I’ll just keep my snide judgments about your commitment to recycling/future generations/God’s Green Earth to myself.

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Berry Oat Cake

(revised from the O2 Diet book recipe by Keri Glassman)


You Will Need:

– 1/2 cup finely ground almond meal (or soggy almond grits!)

– 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (looks big and crunchy compared to regular white sugar)

– 1 1/2 cups oat flour, plus 1 Tbsp oat flour (I’ve made this before with spelt flour and it was fine. You could probably even use regular flour if it pleased you.)

– 2 1/2 tsp baking powder

– 1/2 tsp sea salt

– 1 egg (or vegan egg replacement equivalent)

– 1/4 cup high quality cooking oil (canola, etc.)

– 1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your preference)

– 1 tsp vanilla (I use my homemade extract, obviously)

– 2 cups mixed frozen berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries– all of these will work in any combination)

Directions:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a square (8″x8″) baking pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine almond meal, sugar, oat flour, baking powder, and sea salt.

3. In a small bowl, whisk egg with a fork, then add oil, vanilla, and almond milk.

Whisk together until emulsified and add to dry ingredients. Stir together until combined. Batter will be thick and sticky.

4. In a medium bowl, toss frozen fruit with extra 1 Tbsp oat flour to coat. Stir fruit into cake batter and transfer to square baking pan.

Hey– nobody said it was going to look pretty. Appearances aren’t everything, you know.

5. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Makes 9 diet-sized portions (or 2 to 4 “Hungry Man” portions. I won’t judge you if you eat half a pan at once, because I’ve been there before, not to mention last week.)

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Do you have a sweet tooth, dear readers?

ย  ย  Do you indulge your sweet tooth under the guise of recycling like I do?

Any birthday wishes for yours truly (hint, hint)?

Lucky Sevens

I’m taking this opportunity to highlight some of my favourite posts, including ones that might have been missed or overlooked by newer readers:

1. Most Beautiful

“Beautiful” isn’t usually a word I would use to describe my own writing, but if I had to choose my most beautiful-ish post, it would probably be Are You There, Margaret? It’s Me: God. A post about love should never be ugly, right?

2. Most Popular

One would think that my Freshly Pressed Post, Crying (and Cursing) Over Spilled Milk— in which I outlined the trials and tribulations of making almond milk for the first time– would be my most popular. Surprisingly, it is not. Rather, an otherwise nondescript post about ugly Christmas sweaters crushes the entire competition. In Search of the World’s Worst Christmas Sweater has nearly 4 times as many hits as any other post on my blog, including my Freshly Pressed post. Most of the search engine terms that lead people to my blog also have to do with ugly and horrific Christmas sweaters. Go figure.

A bit of sparkle from a gigantic Ugly Christmas Sweater I borrowed from a colleague. Unfortunately, it reeked of Bounce sheets and gave both Marty and I allergies. We couldn’t even wear it as a joke. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

3. Most Controversial

I have two categories of controversial posts– the first category deals with issues of censorship and the boundaries around what we choose to share online. A Visit from the Overshare Fairy chronicles the fallout of posting a little bit too much information about myself on the internet.

The second category of controversy is controversial only because it contains graphic details about a circumstance which many women face, but few women talk about openly: miscarriage. My This Day In History series– parts One, Two, and Three— address the messy range of emotions that Marty and I faced when we lost a pregnancy back in 2006.

Not me– this is my sis when she was pregnant with our niece, Lily

4. Most Helpful

In case you haven’t noticed, my primary objective on this blog is not necessarily to be helpful. I write mostly to entertain (or be entertained), but one of my posts inadvertently became helpful to others and continues to generate a lot of ‘thank you’ e-mails. Chlorella: Superfood, My Ass! was originally written as a flippant, eff-you homage to the nutritional supplement that renders me paralyzed with projectile vomit. It’s not an especially well-written post by any means, but lots of people have since discovered it and written me privately to say thank you– either for naming the substance that was causing them severe GI distress or for simply acknowledging that not everyone does well on so-called superfoods. (So in case you were wondering, helpful posts can have the word “Ass” in the title. Who knew?)

5. Most Surprisingly Successful

The post that continues to garner many surprising hits (although not new comments) was written way back in 2008. Talk to the Hand recounts my experience visiting a palm reader at our local mall. If my site stats and search engine terms are any indication, lots and lots of people take to the internet to learn more about mysterious beauty marks on their palms. Hence, if you need to boost traffic to your blog, might I suggest writing about finding the ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ line on your palms? And vomit– lots and lots of projectile vomit. ๐Ÿ™‚

6. Most Underrated

It must be a Universal Blogging Experience: you write a new post, congratulate yourself for your expert use of prose and scintillating adjectives, and then hit ‘Publish’– fully expecting a tsunami of Online Fandom to come crashing down in your comments section. But it doesn’t. To make matters worse, not only are you not ravaged by a destructive gale-force wind of admiration, but you also don’t even seem to make a ripple in the blogosphere. Maybe one person comments on your post… out of pity. The rest of your readers are already on to the next blogging sensation, and your Fantastic Post dies a quiet death in a lonely corner, all by itself.

The post I would like to offer up for your resurrection consideration is The Most Important Evening of Our Lives, in which I fail miserably as a wife, hairdresser, and a general human being.

At least *my* hair looked good on The Most Important Evening of Our Lives

7. Most Worthy of Pride

It probably seems a little strange, but I’m really proud of a post I wrote about eggs. The Dirty Dozen: My Initiation Into A Life of Crime came together effortlessly and incorporated all three of the essential ingredients in any winning post: hippies, Hollywood, and the Russian mafia. Every time I see this title in my “Your Recent Favourites” sidebar, I foolishly beam with the pride of a mother who has just watched her little Johnny hit a home run in a T-ball game. Other moms might not think my Johnny is a big deal, but I’m proud all the same. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Shocking Admissions From A Failed Bulimic

Greetings and welcome to another cheery edition of my blog! Are you new here? Hello! Bulimia! Hi!

Let me start off by saying to the more tightly-wound among us (ahem) that I fully realize that eating disorders are both prevalent and serious issues in our society. Many of us have friends or family members who suffer from some type of disordered eating; some of us are the friends and family members who suffer from disordered eating. My post today will take the usual detours through humour, dry sarcasm, irreverence, and cheeky tangents, but please don’t misinterpret my written sass for an overall callousness towards eating disorders. That is not the case at all. I’m just attempting in this particular entry to lay the foundation– however crooked it may be– for future posts about my long and obstacle-ridden journey towards radiant health and wellness.

First of all: I’m starting from the assumption that many (if not most) of my regular readers think that the foods I eat and cook are a little… out there. Different. Unusual. Am I right? Hey? (Let me hear you say “Yeah!” YEAH!!) I thought so. ๐Ÿ™‚

My mom thinks I'm cool...

Some of you might listen to me sing the praises of kale and quinoa and wonder what on earth I’m talking about (or why!) Others might think that I’ve probably always led a crunchy and holistic lifestyle, that I’ve easily followed an almost-vegan lifestyle since fetus-hood, and that I inevitably get the proper daily amounts of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, water, exercise, sleep, sex, and whatever else is good for me.

Easy, breezy, beautiful raw foods meal

This is not the case at all.

With that said, I wanted to take this opportunity to give you some background into my Personal Food History, just to let you know how far I’ve come already and also maybe to spark a bit of hope in some readers that it’s never too late (or impossible) to incorporate healthy changes into your lifestyle. Baby steps, right? So please bear with me while I reveal the sordid truth about my past relationship with food…

Part One: VERY Picky Eating

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when I was growing up, I was an extremely picky eater. Practically every food had an objectionable texture to my discerning palate, so I downright refused to eat plenty of healthy foods, including most cooked vegetables, many raw vegetables, meat, legumes, and whole grains. I loved carbohydrates and dairy, though. Loved loved loved. My diet for many years literally consisted of the following foods and nothing else: white rice, commercial soy sauce, butter, margarine, bread, cereal, milk, processed cereal bars, instant soups (not even the kinds with the dehydrated peas or carrots in them– noodle-based ones only), peanut butter (not the natural kind), jams and jellies, fruit juices, raw celery or carrot sticks, cheese, potatoes, corn, white pasta, canned tomato sauce, baked goods of all sorts, the occasional boiled egg, and candy. Lots of candy.

My parents desperately wanted (and tried– god knows they tried) to feed me a nutritious diet. My poor mother spent countless hours in the kitchen concocting homemade wonders that would nourish my body and, more importantly, hopefully make it past my Ultra Sensitive Texture Detectors. (They rarely did.) Did I eat her homemade baked beans that took her hours upon hours to prepare? Of course not, although I did enjoy her fluffy, white waffles with tablespoons upon tablespoons of brown sugar or maple syrup heaped on top. Would I happily slurp up her vegetable marinara sauce, which was chock full of fresh produce and loving energy? Definitely not– not even if my mom blended it to a smooth pulp beforehand. I would take canned Catelli tomato sauce over my mom’s homemade “crap” any day! If I knew (or even suspected) that something nutritious was hidden inside one of her recipes, that was it: there was no way I would eat it. I’m not sure why this was the case, but that’s how it went with me for many, many years.

Part Two: I Fail Anorexia

Don’t be misled into thinking that I never ate, that I limited my portion sizes in any way, or that I exerted any control whatsoever over my intake of calories. No way, man: I loved to eat, even though I was very, um, selective about my foods. There was no chance I could ever be considered anorexic, because I couldn’t stop myself from eating (or more like bingeing) at every opportunity.

By the time I was 9 or 10 years old and taking public transit en route to and from school, I was guaranteed to buy a chocolate bar surreptitiously from the nearest gas station if I ever managed to save up 75 cents. Absolutely guaranteed. I purchased and sneaked candy whenever possible, and I would stuff my face with cookies, muffins, granola bars, chips, licorice, slurpees, or even spoonfuls of plain peanut butter and worse: powdered hot chocolate or powdered iced tea crystals (!!) whenever I thought somebody’s back was turned. I would effortlessly devour an entire box of “fruit snacks” by myself when I was babysitting and my charges had gone to sleep, and then I would hope that their parents would assume we had all partaken in this particular treat. I would wake up extra early in the mornings before school and make myself a whole package of Kraft Dinner for breakfast. I could even vacuum my way through a Costco-sized box of processed cereal bars in a matter of mere days, and that was only because I was “showing restraint” and “leaving some for other people”. (If left to my own devices, I could easily have eaten a dozen granola bars in one sitting. Easily.)

Amazingly, I was not grossly obese on this all-carb, all-sugar diet of mine. I’ve always been a pretty average size, if a little on the busty/curvy side, but I’m completely astonished that my body didn’t betray my binges with a serious case of Size Eleventeen Hundred XXXL Pants. (Instead, my body decided to tell me that something was very wrong with my “diet” by signaling me with severe GI distress and a pretty nasty case of acne… neither of which I acknowledged with any degree of seriousness or respect for decades.) So I was a picky eater with a penchant for sweets and obscene amounts of baked goods… but did I ever alternate these binges with purges?

Part Three: The Answer is No. I Also Fail Bulimia

Despite my near-constant bingeing on food and my nearly-as-constant feelings of guilt and shame, I could never bring myself to purge. Call me squeamish, but I couldn’t stand the thought of making myself throw up. (Plus, I know from experience that I’m not exactly the most discrete person when it comes to vomiting– I hurl with gusto: loud and proud, baby!)

I would eat grossly unhealthy foods, often in secret, to the point of feeling extremely unwell and/or nauseous. However, I never purged afterward– not even with exercise– unless admonishing my lack of willpower via the scathing written word in my journal counts as purging. Many of my journal entries from the time just asked myself Why? Why must I purchase the entire stock of leftover Halloween candy on November 1st and eat it all by November 2nd– if it even lasted that long? Why must I make myself a hefty pot of packaged pasta, smother it in powdered alfredo sauce and a generous splash of heavy cream, and eat the entire thing by myself in under 10 minutes? Why must I eat 4 or 5 cupcakes in one sitting? Why must I make a recipe for Rice Krispie squares and down the whole shebang before it even gets into the proper pan?

Why, why, why?

Don't be fooled by their angelic appearances-- cupcakes are actually a gateway drug

The truth is, dear readers: I have not always lived a virtuous life when it comes to my relationship with food. Not even close. Most of what I ate from the ages of 2 to 22 was incredibly processed, starchy, full of refined sugars, or salty. (Or a combination of all of those things.) Many times, I ate compulsively or for emotional reasons– alone– rather than when I was actually hungry or in the company of other people. Food was not nourishing for meit was simply comforting. (“Comforting” for a while at least… until it would make me feel guilty, shameful, and/or physically sick.)

So. If that was my shameful starting point, how did I possibly end up where I am now– with a fridge full of leafy greens and a pantry stocked up with whole grains, dried seaweeds, and nutritional yeast? Easy:ย 

I fell in love.

I know, I know. It sounds horribly cheesy and clichรฉ, but when I met Marty, things started looking up for my diet. A lot. During our first few weeks together, Marty cooked me all sorts of delicious dishes– soups, stir fries, homemade sushi rolls, and salads. I had never tried most of these dishes before and, in all honesty, I would have normally refused to even give them a chance, but…

I ate them initially because I was trying to impress Marty.

Then, over time, I ate the dishes because I actually enjoyed them. Fake it until you make it. Take it from me: if you pretend to enjoy eating things like collard greens enough times (even if you are simply trying to impress somebody with your culinary openness, over and over again), you eventually will enjoy eating things like collard greens. For real! Practice makes perfect, right?

During our nesting phase, Marty and I spent nearly all of our spare time in each other’s company. I discovered that I had less time to sneak food– since I was always with Marty– so I just started eating foods that were healthy, ‘acceptable’, and that would cast me in a ‘favourable’ light to him. Again: fake it until you make it. We still enjoyed sweet foods like chocolate and cheesecakes together, but now I ate these foods more in moderation, not to mention in public. It was a big deal. My universe was opening up and my life was changing for the better. (Aside: I don’t mean to suggest that I was pretending to be somebody I wasn’t when I first started dating Marty. In actuality, I just found myself being more open and receptive and deliriously in love with this man. Picky eating just fell to the wayside, especially in the face of good food and great company!)

My palette has expanded enormously since I met Marty. I am still a vegetarian with a sweet tooth, but now I find myself naturally turning to vegetables first and then grain products second. I’m eating foods more for fuel than to satisfy some gnawing emotional need, and I genuinely get excited to prepare and enjoy foods that make my body sing.

Did I mention that my mom thinks I'm cool?

My transition from OCD Junk Food Junkie to Salad Munching Tree Hugger was long and sometimes arduous, but it wasn’t impossible and it’s made me feel so much better already. (And my Beauty Detox Journey is still just beginning!) Anyway. If you ever read my food posts and feel like I’m from another planet (possibly The Planet of Left Field) or like I’m on an entirely different plane of existence when it comes to eating healthier foods, please remember this: it hasn’t always been this way. I started out in the ghetto of Refined Sugars and Starches and gradually (very gradually) incorporated some changes to steer my eating in a healthier direction. It’s never too late to start, and even small changes can have a big impact for the better. Onward, ho! ๐Ÿ™‚

Half A World Away

Believe it or not, today marks the 5-year anniversary of my escape from the Ivory Tower. (Well, I didn’t so much “escape” from university as I “successfully defended my Master’s thesis”, but the fight-or-flight hormones were pumping all the same that day!) I am so far removed from the person I was in grad school that it’s hard to remember even being there. Ever. Some of my friends like to tease me and say, ‘Hey! If you weren’t such a quitter, you could have finished your Ph.D. by now’, but I can’t imagine having spent the past five years still in school. Talk about torture! ๐Ÿ™‚

Hmmm... five more years in university or a World Cup soccer game viewing in Old Town Square, Prague? Decisions, decisions!

Going to university after I graduated from high school never seemed like an option for me, and by that, I mean I always just assumed that I would go to university. (In retrospect, I’m glad I felt this way, but my parents would have loved me all the same if I announced I was going to take up semi-professional karate after Grade 12. Their love for me is the very definition of ‘unconditional’.) But yes: There was no choice involved in me heading off to post-secondary school– it just was. It was almost as though I believed that getting an undergraduate degree was as mandatory as attending K-12. So I got a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and then applied for a Master’s Degree in the same field, because WHAT’S ANOTHER $15,000 and 2 YEARS DURING THE PRIME OF MY LIFE when you’re already in that game? ๐Ÿ™‚

Me (via dramatic re-enactment in Prague): Gee, I might as well keep hanging out here...

Well. My lifelong love of school and my mad academic skillz were put to the extreme test about 2 days into my MA studies. Listening to one of my peers babble on and on excitedly about some “critical issue” or another in my COMS of Biotechnology class, I realized with a mixture of surprise and boredom: Maybe I don’t love Communication Studies as much as I thought I did, and Perhaps I’d rather die a slow and grueling death than be a university professor in the future. This was not a fun (or timely) discovery to make, seeing as I had just started the graduate program, so I resolved to “give it some more time” and, failing all else, to force myself to graduate. Unfortunately, time did nothing to soften up my bad attitude, so I ended up undertaking, writing, and defending a 100+ page thesis, hating everything the entire time. I was a smart girl, and I was not a quitter. I would earn those “M.A.” initials behind my name if it killed me!

And it nearly did.

My personal Coat of Arms during my Master's Program. (Actually, this is inside one of the chapels in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.)

During the 17 months it took me to complete my coursework and write/defend a 105-page thesis on women’s experiences with various methods of contraception*, I transformed from a positive, life-loving young woman into a anxiety-ridden, majorly stressed-out basket case. I carried a gigantic burden of PAIN and SUFFERING with me the whole time, and every. little. thing brought me to ugly tears. I remember my dad phoning to wish me a happy birthday after my first year of grad studies and not knowing how to react when I responded to his cheeriness with high-decibel wails and frustrated sobs (probably about discursive theory or something equally rage-tastic).

I couldn’t help myself.

Me vs. Me

I developed a considerable case of first-time depression during my MA program, and I worried constantly about alienating my remaining friends and even worse: losing my still-new marriage to Marty. (Poor man had a rough go when his blushing bride morphed, almost overnight, into a screeching banshee!) I became hyper-vigilant and continually monitored my behaviours and thoughts, which only made me become more robotic and Not At All Fun To Be Around. I should have more fun. Why am I not having fun? I’m no fun to be around. Why would anybody want to be with somebody so un-fun? I will lose all the friendships I’ve ever had because I’m not fun. BEING NO FUN IS NO FUN AT ALL!!

I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about Grad School that caused me to become such a horrible shadow of my former self. Was it the workload? Was it the forced classroom dialogues over issues I could care less about? (Foucault again? Really?) Was it the extremely rocky relationship I developed with my former supervisor? The subsequent fallout I had with my former supervisor? The fallout that effectively burned a gigantic bridge between us and precluded me from ever using her as a reference again, forever and ever amen?

In any case, once I became so stressed out and apoplectic about everything, I had a very difficult time recovering. Marty would try to take me hiking on the weekends so I could have a few hours of *not* thinking about my thesis. Of course, the entire time, my panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains would be obstructed with thoughts like “I should be working on my thesis. All of my classmates are probably working on their projects right now. I feel guilty for not working on my thesis.” I’m not even exaggerating the extent of my awfulness. Somebody else from the Legitimate Science Department could have undertaken a quantitative study on “The Degree of Dana’s Horribleness During Her M.A. Program”, and the objective, hard data results would have come back: 98th Percentile of Terrible.

After months and months of withering away into a toxic, shriveled-up crisp of a person, the day finally came for me to defend my thesis. I was the first in my cohort to bring my thesis up for defense, and boy oh boy, was I a wreck! (Aside: I was not the first in my cohort to use academic-sounding words like “cohort”. Not a chance! I just threw that in there to sound smart.) Anyway. I had developed a severe stutter the night before my defense, and as I tried to rehearse my opening speech beforehand, I had poor Marty’s ears panicking (and probably bleeding). C-c-c-critical f-f-f-em-in-in-ist dis-dis-dis-course. I kept telling myself: Three hours and then it’s over. Three hours and then I can have my life back. Three hours of PAIN and SUFFERING and then everything can go back to normal… if I pass. (For the record: failing my thesis would have been soul-crushing. It’s rare for students to fail a defense, unless they plow ahead with the exam against their supervisor’s better judgment. Me? I had tickets booked to Europe for June, so I needed everything done and behind me before I left. PASS OR DIE!!!)

For the record: a nice, long trip to Europe cures any/all school-related blues.

I had allowed my exam to be “open”, meaning that anybody could come and watch. Yes, anybody! (The alternative was keeping it “closed” but risking tougher questions from the panel, who wouldn’t have an audience to hold them accountable for their meanness.) I ended up with an audience of about 5 people– Marty included– plus my panel, which consisted of my supervisor, the Department Head of Qualitative Psychology, and the Department Head of Women’s Studies. Tough. As. Nails.

I managed to get through my opening speech without stuttering, which was a miracle in itself. Then all I remember is saying “discourse” and “discursive” about 8 billion times over the course of a few hours. It was a blur of discursiveness. Marty watched on politely the entire time, trying not to let his eyes glaze over with the residue of Academese. What a champ! The tough questions came to a close. My panel conferred in private. It was announced that I had passed. Just a few revisions needed to be completed on my thesis, but then my program would be over and I could officially have my life back.

WHEEEE!!! Let's go and BE GYPSIES for a few months!

It took me a long time to fully recover from grad school. The program had pulverized my soul and heart with dramatic, overzealous kicks and stomps, so the transition from She-Beast back to Ordinary Woman did not happen overnight. I still have a difficult time staying out of my head, so to speak. It’s natural for me to analyze and over-analyze everything, and as much as I detest debating for the sake of debating, occasionally I find myself making a gigantic deal over nothing, just because I can. (I’m always so ashamed to catch myself doing this!)

If you can believe it, I seriously considered pursuing a Ph.D. in Sociology soon after I finished my Master’s Degree. (Yeah, a Doctorate in Delusional, maybe…) It wasn’t because I wanted to do it, but because I felt I should. My supervisor, channeling a Greek chorus, told me that I belonged in the university and that I could never escape my destiny, and for a while I believed her. But then my paltry iota of Street Smarts finally (FINALLY!) kicked in. I didn’t want to be in school for another 5+ years, and then possibly for the rest of my life!!! I wanted to travel, to work at a ‘real job’, and to just plain old live for a little while. Screw the Ph.D.! I would dig a hole out of my so-called destiny and chart a new path!

My starring role in "The Shawshank Redemption". Just like Tim Robbins, but with a darker tan. And only one leg in this shot (??)

Looking back, I feel okay that I pursued my Master’s Degree. It still doesn’t feel like the *best* thing I could have done with those two years of my life– and I definitely wasn’t rendered any more intelligent or competent by real world standards because of it– but then again, what would have been the best thing to do during that time? Take up semi-professional karate? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I take comfort now in believing that I am taken care of by the Universe, even if I don’t understand the bigger picture at any given point (or at all– let’s be honest here).ย  Part of me also secretly believes that an opportunity will present itself one day and will demand a Master’s Degree (in COMS, no less) as a pre-requisite. Then, won’t somebody be glad she went through hell and back to earn those silly initials behind her name…

Anyway. This was a really, really long way of saying Happy Five Years Of Being Out of Grad School to me! I’m happy to be sharing the more cheerful version of myself with all of you, but I’m certainly not above signing this particular post off with the initials that rendered me decidedly less cheerful than I am now:

Dana, B.A., M.A ๐Ÿ™‚

Inadvertently looking smug. I am the Master of Smugness.

*Don’t ask me how this topic relates, in any way, to Communication Studies. My logic: People spoke to me about their experiences, and Speaking = Communicating, therefore I win COMS thesis writing!