I have written two posts since my last one. Somehow, however, by the time I get round to posting them, they feel soooo last week.
By now, Obama has gone from “Yes We Can!” to “can he really?” though most everyone I speak to is still excited that – criticism and cynicism aside -- he will have a chance to give it a shot anyway.
Life is finally returning to some sort of normalcy. After the wedding had become a sort of catch-all, and by the time we came home in October, there was container parked out front with a long long long list of everything we could no longer put off.
But we did it. The end of the year was back to feeling relatively simple: finish up, polish up, get ready for 2009. Then we bought a house.
Well, we’re trying to. Nothing has been finalized yet so I won’t go into too many details, but yes, we took the leap into serious, four-bedroom (“for the kids”) homeownership.
Our last foray into the world of real estate ended with a woman who had voluntarily changed her human name to that of a reptile screaming down the phone that she was a “fucking peace-loving Buddhist who didn’t fucking judge anyone!”
(While hindsight has gifted me with a sense of humour about it all, I’m going to let dead lizards lie and focus on the present.)
Our current situation unfolded as follows: last week, D was engaged in his favourite form of procrastination, a little hobby I like to call real estate porn. I was sitting over at my desk rewriting a short story when he asked me to come look at a house. As he tends to engage in this perfectly harmless though potentially expensive pastime quite regularly, I have requested that he only show me homes he truly considers an option for us. (In my defence, I sometimes remind him of the time we went to see a house with an asking price about double what we could afford. D then spent the rest of the afternoon calculating how we could scrape the money together for a deposit. It went something like “if we sell our first three children and then you harvest all of your remaining eggs; if I ghost-write a few autobiographies by extremely rich, really dumb people…” While I really loved the house, I prefer a sane husband as well as intact ovaries.)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with our wonderful flat, but we’re busting out of it. Both D and I are also very much looking forward to the day we each have our own office, space, privacy -- at the moment, we share a tiny room behind the refrigerator.
Anyway… I was rewriting my short story when D called me over to look at a charming little house. We both liked the look of the place and it fell somewhat within our price-range. It did tick every box we had decided on in terms of what our deal-breakers were: there was outside space, an eat-in kitchen and enough bedrooms to fit us all (separate offices and future projected offspring included). Best of all, it was only three streets away and almost directly en route to our favourite neighbourhood hangout. D emailed the real estate agent and the next day, as the sun set behind the eternally grey London sky, we sauntered over …
Three days later our offer was accepted.
Now we’re dealing with mortgage brokers, real estate lawyers, selling and letting agents (for our flat), roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc. I think I’ve heard the phrase “the current market being what it is…” more often this week than “hello”.
Until this decision to consciously buy into our next step, D and I have calmly been assessing this past year and everything that has happened. I suspect that, like every year since we’ve been together, on December 31st we’ll look at each other and say “It’s been a year!”
Every year since we’ve been together (this year will make five), D and I have taken an afternoon to sit down and go over the coming year. We’ll talk about plans and agree on dates for holidays. We’ll decide where we want to go, professionally, individually, as a couple. It’s quite a fun way to pass an afternoon, all tangled up in projections and fantasies but once it’s done, we’ve forgotten about it and have gotten on with our lives.
Last Christmas, we shared our little tradition with a friend who, it turns out, does exactly the same. His reaction was way more enthusiastic than we had intended: “Isn’t it great,” he said, “when you set yourself a goal and then actually achieve it? I love that feeling of ticking things off my list.” D and I looked at one another. We burst out laughing. Neither of us had thought of following through enough to tick anything off anywhere. They were ideas, things we bantered back and forth and then actually wrote or didn’t. Never had it occurred to us to actually keep track.
By August our friend had accomplished every goal he’d set for himself in 2008. My goal is ultimately still the same: make a living as a writer, be a great partner, don’t let life get too depressing. Other than that, in my life everything changes by the hour.
I truly wish I could dwell on this past year, and as this month progresses, I probably will. However, before I give myself over to reminiscing, there’s Christmas. For the first time, my mother will be with us as well as D’s parents. During the wedding, they referred to themselves as “the three bears.” I’m way too obsessed with the pressure of all of these firsts being memorable -- making sure our shared meals aren’t too hot or too cold; I need everything to be just right. Does that make me Goldilocks?
“What do you think?” I’ll ask D at any time of the day or night, “Should we have curry roast pumpkin or garlic kale?” “I’m in the loo, sweetheart,” he’ll say from behind the closed door. “Can we talk about this later?” I’ll count my in-breaths, turn on the television only to turn it back off again, I’ll type random ingredients like pomegranate molasses and mace into search engines, but soon enough I’ll be back at it with a hesitant “sweetheart…?”
Me (stirring a pot that I’ve been standing over for some indeterminate length of time): “Sweetheart, can you try this?”
D (happily popping his head round the doorframe that separates our shared office from the kitchen): “SURE!”
I spoon a taste out of the pot, blow on it some: “careful, it’s hot.”
D (blowing a few times): “mmmm”
Me: “You haven’t tried it yet!”
D: “But it smells good”
Me (still holding the spoon): “are you gonna?”
Me: “taste it!”
D opens his mouth and closes his eyes. He pulls back involuntarily when the spoon touches his lips.
D (breathing hard, his hand waving in front of his face): “Hoh-Hoh”
Me: “I told you it was hot.”
Then there is a whole rating system, another spider’s web of pitfalls and sticky bits. At fist I thought D was being dishonest, that he didn’t want to tell me how he really felt. Then I realized that he wasn’t being insincere, he was being British.
I find nuance impossible to read. I don’t do between the lines very well. Unfortunately for me, inflection is what this country was built on, and how it continues to thrive (although with the recession and all, maybe they’ll get the hint?)
In our house, food critique goes something like this:
D’s Determination: It’s good, sweetheart. My Translation: could be much better, there’s something in there that doesn’t quite work for me. Example: haphazard attempts at breads and baked sweets of various descriptions that, being gluten, dairy, yeast and sugar-free sometimes taste like the prototypical health food – the kind that gives good, healthy food a bad name.
D’s Determination: mmm, I like it! My Translation: It’s fine, not spectacular. I probably wouldn’t finish an entire meal of this, but it’ll do. Example: various kitchen sink soups where I used what I had, but what was available didn’t necessarily mesh.
D’s Determination: Sweetheart! My Translation: I was expecting something different. This is much better than what I expected. It doesn’t look as good as it tastes which is a bit of a put-off and why I tried this slightly under duress. Example: a sweet potato, kale and wakame mush that looked like green baby food but was, in fact, delicious.
D’s Determination: This is Great! My Translation: I really like it, but people who don’t usually eat your kind of food, sweetheart, might not be so into this. Example: raw chocolate balls – very chocolaty.
D’s Determination: “Oh My God!” My Translation: This is great. Example: the dough of last weeks’ chocolate-banana protein balls, Sunday night’s chicken curry.
Two exclamations to God in the space of one week… I should have known something was up.
It seems every time I blink, a whole part of my life has gone by. (Sidney Sheldon was definitely on to something!)
Blink – I’m in Thailand – Blink – I’ve gotten married – Blink – we’ve bought a house…
The house was one of those “Oh My God” moments – across the board, no translation necessary.
Oh My God Chocolate Banana Globes (I would call them "balls" although men, no matter what their age, giggle by which point the delectable aspect is all but lost)
-- 1 cup brown rice flakes - Around 1 cup of almond or Brazil nut meal (I used the pulp leftover from making nut milk and it worked great) -- 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut / coconut flakes chopped -- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt -- 100 grams chocolate (I chopped up a bar of 100% cacao -- the original recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate) -- 2 - 4 bananas to taste (I like things a little less sweet so I used 2) -- 1/2 t vanilla extract -- 1/4 cup hemp butter (almond butter can also be used) -- 1/4 cup melted coconut butter (I also added about 1/2 cup of ground gogi berries to the second batch, but that's definitely optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F
Use a dabble of the melted coconut oil to grease a pan
Mash all the ingredients together very very well with your hands (it's a really fun sensation. Children would enjoy participating as well, especially with the gloopiness of the bananas) -- have fun creating the dough.
Roll into little globes and set gently on the tray.
Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (depending on the oven)
(Note: I think they would make excellent cookies as well. Just flatten -- shape and texture are a matter of taste)
Adapted from a recipe found on chocolate and zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier.