Father’s Day

Ever since I wrote a Mother’s Day post, I have been attempting to construct one for Father’s Day, but it has always seemed more difficult for me to do so. Our relationship has often been more contentious that either of us have wanted it to be, but that’s sometimes the case when people are alike in certain ways.

When I was very little, I was afraid to be taken care of by anyone but my mom– that included my dad. I would cry whenever she left me alone with him. I know that had to be difficult since I am an only child. Later on, though, we bonded over the 1966 Batman TV show, orange and spice tea, reading the Sunday morning comics, and wheelbarrow rides in the fall. They didn’t plan on having any children, and after I was born, they decided not to have any more. I don’t know if my dad had wanted a boy, but if he did, I never felt it. He played catch and frisbee with me– with varying degrees of success, given my poor eye-hand coordination. He showed me how to troubleshoot a running toilet and replace a kitchen faucet. He showed me how to check the oil, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids in my car, how to change the oil, and how to replace the air filters and wiper blades. He showed me how to properly use all the tools in the tool box he gave me when I moved into my first apartment by myself. He helped me with my math homework. I never felt like my dad ever treated me “like a girl.” He raised me to be a capable person.

One of the things I’ve found most impressive about my dad is the fact that he changed careers at the age of 40, which was hard enough, but made more difficult by my untimely arrival in 1984. He made a drastic shift from medical microbiology to accounting, which involved an entirely new skill set. Luckily, my dad is an avid student of the world– he never stops learning new things, cultivating an interest in American history, medical advancements, the economy, local flora and fauna, the environment, and classic film, among other topics. The bookshelves of my parents’ house are filled with nonfiction books on all subjects under the sun and he follows current events religiously. I consider my dad the reigning opinion on all things financial and political. I hope to one day be as well-informed as he is, though I suspect that would require me to spend much less time browsing Buzzfeed and Facebook.

For all of the knowledge he’s shared with me, I find, to my shame that I know very little about his personal history aside from rote facts, like where he was born, who his siblings are, what colleges he’s been to and the fact that he was drafted and served in the military. I would love to know more. I long to hear about more of his specific childhood and teenage experiences and how he felt. What his college experiences were like and how he made friends. I find that most of what I wish I knew have something to do with emotion and lived experiences, and it may not be possible for me to learn as much as I would like to. My dad keeps his cards close to his chest sometimes. Generally, I don’t mind this, since I tend to do the same thing, with the notable exception being this blog, where I put anything and everything out on the internet for the world to see.

I didn’t change my last name when I got married, and that’s partially because it’s just such an awesome last name, I couldn’t let it go. But another reason is because of the unquantifiable gifts that my dad has given me. The best way I know of to repay or pay forward those gifts is to strive to do an amazing job every day at whatever my job is and put that name all over my work. Everyone who sees it should know the value of the person who gave it to me and taught me so much of what I know.

Clean Eating Challenge, Day 2 and 3

So it didn’t take long for me to skip a day to post– I still did participate in the challenge, but I didn’t have time to post yesterday. Today is a double post.

Yesterday was day 2. I didn’t have the overnight oatmeal, since I woke up at 2pm. I did make the Napa cabbage wraps for “linner” without the mangoes because I used all my mango for the smoothies. The only mangoes I could find at the grocery store were the small yellow ones, so I bought 2. Turns out, that’s not enough mango.

The cabbage tacos still turned out well, except I still don’t have olive oil, so no vinaigrette, which was OK with me. The food police still haven’t caught on, so I’m safe for another day. And there were 2 cups of arugula that were listed in the ingredients and not mentioned elsewhere in the recipe. Where did the arugula go? Is it missing? Do we need to send a search party?

The “dunch” salad with kale, fennel, chickpeas and Parmesan was delicious, although there are disadvantages to bringing chewy, fibrous vegetable matter to work when I only have 30 minutes to eat. That was the fastest I’ve ever chewed in my life. I felt like a rabbit.

I had the tomato, basil, feta snack– which was delicious– as well as the clementine snack, which for me, was a Valencia orange snack because they’re cheaper than clementines here.

So overall, Day 2 went about as well as Day 1, since I was able to eat all the food except breakfast.


Day 3 started when I got home from work at 3am. I was starving. I’m not sure if this is due to the dunch salad, but I’m not usually that hungry when I get home from work.

So I had Day 3’s breakfast, Greek yogurt, blackberries, and almonds. I was supposed to only use half of the package of blackberries, but when I examined the package, I found that most of them were moldy. One meal this week will be missing some blackberries. I’m not going out to buy more food this week, since the fridge is packed as it is. If it’s missing, then it’s missing.

It was worthwhile to have them in the yogurt, though. That was a delicious bedtime snack and I’ll definitely make that again sometime.

The “dunch” salad was quick work– I just chopped up half a head of Napa cabbage, a carrot, and some almonds, sliced up some chicken. Easy peasy. No olive oil, no vinaigrette, but I did add lime juice from half a lime and a bit of tamari.

For “linner” I made the cauliflower steaks and lentils. They turned out picture perfect, exactly like the recipe image. The cauliflower was super easy to prepare, just some oil, salt, and pepper. I used coconut oil instead of olive oil, which is an easy enough fix when something is going into the oven. It doesn’t work so well in salad dressing, since coconut oil is solid at room temperature.

The lentils were also pretty easy to make, although once again, there was a listed ingredient–honey– that wasn’t mentioned at all in the course of the recipe. What did I do with the honey, then? I just stirred it in with the vinegar and tamari at the end. Seemed to turn out fine and I would be glad to prepare and eat them again.

There are still so many vegetables in the fridge right now, I don’t know how I’m supposed to eat all of them by the end of the week. Likely as not, some of them will go bad in the meantime, which will, of course, defeat the purpose of having bought them in the first place, but I still like having them in the fridge already. It’s nice to not have to go out to buy groceries multiple times during the week, which is what I normally do, and it’s probable that I spend just about the same amount for food on a regular basis as I did on Saturday, it’s just spread out over the week, so I don’t notice how much it really costs.

As for today, I still have two snacks left, and we shall see if I get around to eating them at all today.

Day 1 of Clean Eating Challenge

Today, I actually embarked on the Clean Eating Challenge and all things considered, it seems to have gone well.

I didn’t eat the scheduled salad for lunch, since I usually only eat two meals a day. I did eat both the snacks, though. You can’t go wrong with snacks.

For breakfast, which I had around 3pm– night shift, remember– I had the prescribed smoothie. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a smoothie with kale in it: one. It’s not bad. Kind of fibery and green. It’s on the menu again later, and I won’t be sorry to try it again.

The chicken and kale I cooked exactly according to the website’s directions– they turned out perfectly well. Both recipes were extremely basic and used only salt and pepper, so they were pretty much idiot proof.

They were supposed to be served with quinoa, but I read that the increased demand for it here in the US is making it too expensive for people whose diets depend on it elsewhere, so I don’t eat quinoa anymore. I used brown rice instead. I didn’t explode or have the food police come barging in, reading me my rights, so no harm done.

I also didn’t make the orange vinaigrette that’s supposed to go with it. When I went to the grocery store yesterday, I didn’t buy olive oil since I figured that of all the ingredients I already had in the pantry, surely olive oil was one of them. It’s a staple, like salt and pepper.

As it turned out, today when I opened the pantry to gather ingredients for the vinaigrette, I realized that I didn’t have olive oil.

Well, that’s too bad. I’m not going out just to buy olive oil. I just didn’t make the vinaigrette. The chicken-kale-brown rice bowl tasted fine without it.

So I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly. I left out a few things, but from what I did make, the recipes taste good and are really easy to prepare. The Clean Eating Challenge gets an A+ for the first day.

I’m trying a brand new food thing!

Long time, no post.

It’s been a busy few months. For one, I lost a job, then I got two jobs– a part-time at-home job and a night shift job. The 6pm to 2:30am shift! So I haven’t had much time to do any blogging– or really any cooking at all.

Instead of blogging, I spent most of my free time on Buzzfeed, where I recently saw their Clean Eating Challenge, 2 weeks of cooking all your meals and eating no processed foods. After so many months of not making anything from scratch, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to revitalize my cooking-fu.

Starting Sunday, I will be following the meals posted to Buzzfeed’s site almost to the letter. (I don’t have chia seeds. So sue me.) I’ll also be blogging about it, just for kicks.

Today, Saturday, was grocery shopping day. I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time in the produce section. I bought just about every leafy green they had, kale, spinach, collards, arugula, even Napa cabbage. I got real friendly with the produce section. We got to know one another in ways we never had before. It was a special moment.

According to the grocery list from Buzzfeed, I bought only whole food products and no packaged or processed anything, which means a couple of things: primarily, my grocery bill was astronomical– much higher than I’ve ever paid for a regular week’s groceries– and also I am going to have to wake up before noon for the first time in several months.

That may not sound difficult to you, but try staying up until 4 or 5am every day for a few months, and it won’t be so easy to get up while it still morning-time. It’s going to be a challenge, and I’m not really too sure I can do it. Honestly, I’m not very good at sticking to a routine. Ask anyone.

So today, I packaged up salmon and ground turkey in freezer bags labeled with dates. I packed ingredients for smoothies and put them in individual bags– for the next 2 weeks. It’s unlikely that I have ever done anything so far in advance in my life. I cleared space in the fridge for the massive amount of fruits and vegetables that I purchased. God forbid we need to put anything else in there. It’s never going to fit.

Tomorrow, I will have to actually cook things. We shall see how that goes…

I am from…(synchroblog for SheLoves)

It seems like all I have time for these days is work and sleep, but I heard about SheLoves synchroblog in celebration of Heritage Day in South Africa. The original post is beautiful– you should check it out.

I was inspired to join in and submit my own 2 cents worth. Nothing really to write home about, so to speak, but a little something of my own.

I am From

I am from Texas, from big backyards and chain link fences,

suburban kids making the street a playground.

From Nate the Great and Amelia Bedelia books fresh from the library,

and sugar cookies fresh from the oven.

I am from calorie counting, and early morning jogs,

watching the sunrise from the trail every day, rain or shine.

From waist measurements that never seemed small enough,

and $7 meals that were never satisfying.

I am from cherished friendships

laughter shared over late nights watching favorite TV shows.

From long conversations in dark rooms,

and road trips to festivals and amusement parks.

I am from learning about Jesus in classrooms, apartments, and schoolhouse gymnasiums.

I am from experiencing grace in my living room, and my kitchen.

I am from humility and failure, and “not trying hard enough.”

I am from knowing my life has a purpose, but not knowing exactly how it should be spent.

Let’s submit to each other. 1-2-3… Go!

It will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone to find that I am a feminist. And I’m Christian. Yes, really. Even with all that patriarchal business mixed in. The cultural patriarchy of the Bible is, I think, a challenging to work with in modern Christianity, specifically, for many in this day and age it’s difficult to wrap their heads and their theologies around is the idea of female submission to male authority. I have always had trouble with this idea, personally speaking. Even though I’m not married, it’s always been in the back of my mind that one day I would need to figure out what those verses mean to me. It seemed as though single women were somehow free from the requirement to be submissive to a man– without the ring, I am equal, but once married, I am less than. As though married women have an identity first as a wife, and then as a person. I know that’s not necessarily true for all married women, but it’s always seemed that way in my mind. It always makes me cringe to hear “Oh, she’s so-and-so’s wife” used as a descriptive characteristic of a woman.

The fact that everyone expects married women to change their last name really doesn’t help. There’s just something proprietary about re-naming someone. God does it a few times, but He’s God, so it seems OK when he does it.

My last name is very important to me and I’ve always wanted to keep it forever because it’s a really awesome name and besides, it’s part of who I am, fundamentally. I identify with it; it reminds me of where I come from. Any other last name wouldn’t seem right somehow. I don’t know if I can define that any further, other than to just admit to the blogosphere at large that one of my primary motivational forces to actually complete my PhD was the prospect of keeping my name forever unchanged. Take that as you will; I’m just not feeling the name change.

These days, it just seems overly complicated to change one’s name legally. Have you checked out how many places your name appears on record? Too many places. Is it really worthwhile? And for what?

But regardless, many women change their names when they get married. Why?

Because of culture. Our culture shapes our society. We do the same things we have done for centuries, long after the significance of why we do them fades away. People crave love and companionship, but beyond that, I think marriage was and can still be purposeful, even if it’s not a proprietary arrangement between two men, or a monetary arrangement between 2 families, even if it’s only a covenant arrangement between 2 people and the Supreme Deity they put their faith in. But only if both parties involved are equal parties, since it’s pretty common knowledge these days that the only differences between men and women are physical, and have nothing to do with intellect.

Back in the day, a young woman was a commodity. She was purchased with a bride price and came with a dowry– basically accessories, fully loaded. She kept her thoughts and opinions to herself and was not asked who she wanted to marry or whether she’d rather spend the rest of her life doing something other than being the wife of somebody. The Bible was written in times where customs like these were common among certain portions of the society. Wealthy upper portions, usually, and this was the culture and audience toward which these New Testament household code verses were written.

The main verses in question are Ephesians 5:21-6:9, Colossians 3:12-4:6, and 1 Peter 2:11-3:22. These sections of scripture are commonly known as the household codes and they contain some of the most frustrating pieces of teaching known to womankind. Are these scriptures meant to provide specific instruction to men and women as to how they should relate to each other? Are they telling us that God placed women below men, as subjects?


I don’t think so.

Here’s why: take a look at the verses immediately before each passage. Ephesians 5:15-21 is a collection of basic guidelines for living; “do not be foolish…be filled with the spirit, always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” They boil down to verse 21, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Then the text launches into the household codes.

Preceding the codes in Colossians, the text from verse 3:5 to 11 has another set of guidelines, “put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth…” concluding with “a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all and in all.”

And in 1 Peter, the beginning of Chapter 2 leading up to the passage in question gives us these guidelines again, and tells us that we are a “Holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God.”

What does all this mean?

Well, these are unifying verses. They tell us how to relate to each other. They also tell us that we are subject to one another and that there is no distinction between those things that our cultures tell us should distinguish one from another. Things like race and sex. That’s where I think God stands on this whole “submission” issue. We should be submitting to each other, mutually, no matter who the “other” is. A woman submits to a man, but a man also submits to a woman.

Why do we even need to go over this?

Have you heard the leaders of our day stumble over how to interpret these household code verses, trying to squeeze them into our culture? They try to say that a woman should respect her husband and that he should be the final decision-maker. Or they say that these are culturally applicable to the author’s time period, but irrelevant in our own.

In the recent past, there’s been a trend toward interpreting the Bible in a pseudo-literal way. I suppose the idea was to make scripture culturally relevant in a way that most people could get on board with. There are 2 big problems with this strategy: first off, you don’t find droves of Greek scholars around to help us overcome the limitations of English–which are many. So the problem with trying to modernize these particular verses to suit this culture is acknowledging the fact that the verses don’t actually say “respect,” they say “submit” or “be subordinate to.” Respect and subordination are not the same thing, and if you try to force these verses into our context, you’ll end up corrupting their actual meaning for the sake of trying to uphold some kind of “literal” interpretation of the Bible, and that’s the second big problem with pseudo-literalism. Understanding their culture is key to understanding how it relates to ours.

On the other hand, if we’re not supposed to interpret these verses literally within our own culture, how do we relate to them? You can’t really throw them out, but in order to not dismiss them entirely, you need to understand a whole bunch of historical context, not just culturally, but legally as well. If you tried to explain it aloud in a sermon, you’d end up with a history lecture instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not going to be a hit with everyone.

Now, there are many good articles presenting a case for interpreting these verses in context, with proper translations for the original Greek texts, and all of them are collectively better than this one, so you can read them, if you want. (like this one, or this, or how about this, and so on, and so forth)

All I want to contribute is this food for thought: Speaking in general terms, the verses preceding and following all of these household code sections are all related in some way to unity, right thinking, and presenting a good witness to the world. In the culture of our time, where it often seems that the individual’s needs are above the needs of the community, how can we best represent Christ to the world?

When we submit, one to another, and we are all thinking with the mindset of Christ, with the influence of the Holy Spirit, the only individual whose needs will be placed above the rest will be that of Jesus.

An Ode to Pucca (and those like her)

I was watching cartoons, because I’m a well-adjusted adult and I can watch whatever I want—and I found this great little show that I just fell in love with and had to tell everyone I know.

So I put it on the internet.

My Ode to Pucca:

How I love thee, let me count the ways.

I definitely love you more than Garu, your ninja love who can never get the best of you.

I love the quirky, simple style of your short episodes.

I love your supporting cast, some of whom require more explanation—stick figure people: who are they? Why are they? Santa Claus: why is he in your little Japanese village?

I love the episode where you dressed up like Garu and beat up his nemesis.

In fact, I love how you always win because you’re never a damsel in distress, not because you stay out of trouble, but because you never rely on someone else to help you out of it.

I love that you’re a non-verbal character but not a voiceless one. You may not use words to make yourself heard, but we know how you feel by how you act and what you do. Because voiceless does not equal powerless. Other characters may speak enough dialog to fill a book *cough*Bella Swan*cough* but volumes of verbal diarrhea do not a powerful character make.

You are always the master of your fate; you go out and get things you want and you make your voice heard without words. You are a rare bird in the menagerie of cartoon princesses and young adult fiction heroines who say plenty and do nothing. You say nothing and do everything and your actions say enough to make you the kind of character we should be paying attention to.

When you fight battles, you win them. You go after what you want with all your heart and you protect the ones you care about—especially Garu. You protect Garu so well he doesn’t even realize he was ever in danger.

You are the type of female character we should be creating more of in bulk. You are the kind of girl we all wish we could be. Not an Anastasia Steele, who makes bad choices and knows she is making a vast number of mistakes, but chooses to go right ahead and make them anyway. Not a Katniss Everdeen, who starts the Hunger Games series as a powerful and independent character but finishes the series as a pawn in the game she started. Not like Catherine Earnshaw, who was so easily swayed by beautiful manners to abandon her friend, or Tess Durbeyfield, the sacrificial victim of society’s norms, or Sleeping Beauty, or—dare I say—the latest incarnation of Lois Lane in Man of Steel.

We need more like you, Pucca, or like Elastigirl in The Incredibles or Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, or Mulan.

It frustrates me more than I can articulate when I see books like 50 shades of junk or its stunningly poor inspiration, Twilight become popular with massive audiences of women because in this day and age we should know better than to accept these shallow, unsympathetic, powerless and foolish representations of womanhood. Nor should we then throw them into the spotlight and pile them with acclaim. We can’t even protest innocence, or blame patriarchy because these books were written by women!

And they’ve been consumed by women who really ought to know better and should be teaching their daughters not to accept some milquetoast “heroine” who can’t make a decision and who meekly follows the guidance of an unstable and abusive male without questioning him or thinking of her own safety.

It’s even worse when I see self-published teenage authors who have written—brace yourselves, now—even more terrible examples of lame female characters, mostly as protagonists of ill-conceived fantasy novels. Someone has failed these young authors. Someone somewhere was tasked with proofreading and editing these books and they neglected to point out the frailties of not only the shakily-constructed plot, but also the lack of agency by the female protagonist. Or maybe the author, in a massive delusion of grandeur, published their magnum opus with—gasp—no proofreading at all!

Look here, my young padawans, there is a basic test you can use to determine whether or not you have created a character with a truly lamentable lack of agency. You don’t even need another person’s help, if you’re certain that your manuscript is stuff of such brilliance that it could unhinge the mind of the mere plebeians around you. It’s called the “hamburger test.”

If you go through your massive Word document and use the lovely “find/replace” tool to replace every instance of your character’s name with that of a common food item, and after reading your newly edited text, you find that the narrative structure is hardly disturbed at all by the change, then congratulations! You have failed entirely to create even a decent character. One could almost say you have sculpted Galatea and failed to pray that Venus would bring her to life. Thus, she remains a stiff and immobile object, pushed about and manipulated by her circumstances and the characters around her.

Now, you have 2 choices: you could publish your novel as is and ignore all that you have learned through the Hamburger test, or you could spare the world from the noxious poison of yet another badly imagined and poorly constructed stereotypical female character created by a woman who probably has enough education to know better. You can spare me one more example of how this isn’t the patriarchy’s fault, it’s ours for accepting and celebrating mediocrity.

You can instead choose to make another Pucca.