Exercise in futility

About 3 years ago (or maybe 2.5, but I'm not going to quibble over that .5 of year) I began to experience break outs. Being in my late 20's seemed like an odd time to be going through such a spike in such activity since I'd left puberty long behind over a decade ago. (sidebar: damn, I'm old).

But nonetheless there I was with skin like I'd never had before, even when I was a teenager I never experienced things like it. Beyond just the regular annoying breakouts was the painful, unsightly cystic acne. Seriously, those wankers hurt. They did however reduce in number when I cut milk from my diet. It had been a fairly new addition to my diet since I never particular cared for milk but then I discovered the joy of Snowville Creamery. They do have amazing milk, but I gladly gave it up if it meant I didn't feel like I had a series of large tumor-like things on my face.

They didn't clear up entirely, and were still annoyingly persistent. After waiting 8 months to meet with the only dermatologist in Athens they gave me a prescription for some face cream that would have ended up costing me almost $550 a month! $550! WTF. Seriously.

But it did clear me up just in time for my brother's wedding. I absolutely didn't spend that $550, but instead squeezed every last drop out of the samples they had given me- just in time for me to be unemployed.

You know what is coming next, right? Face breakdown. It was crap, the cystic acne came back in full force, plus the little multitude of red blots all over my face that just wouldn't go away. I felt like a face/skin failure.

I tried everything: hydrogen peroxide, unrefined honey, face masks, different face washes, sulfur masks, ClariSonic*, and on and on.

Do you know what did work for a while this summer? Pool water. Every bloody time I would spend the day in the pool my skin would clear up and be almost nice again. It got to the point that I was carrying around water bottles full of pool water and splashing it on my face at least twice a day in an effort to keep things under control.

Then in a fit of panic/upset one night I ordered the acne.org face kit. Because I'd already thrown a bunch of money at it why not throw some more. And really, the kit wasn't that expensive, like $35ish dollars? Honestly I wasn't expecting much, and the first week+ was rough. My skin dried waaaay out and was flaking like crazy, I seriously looked like I had dandruff on my face if I wasn't careful and applying enough moisturizer.

But soon, I noticed it getting so much better. SO MUCH BETTER.

Now, I will admit I stopped using the face lotion included in the kit. My skin is a delicate flower when it comes to lotions (lots of them burn the heck out of me) which is exactly what happened with the kit lotion. The face wash though seems very gentle and mild, almost like Cetaphyl.

So here is the part of the post where I admit I feel like so many of my problems could have been avoided if I hadn't stopped doing one thing that I always used to do. From the time I was 14 I had a face care routine that included putting Neutrogena On The Spot Acne Treatment all over my face, at least once a day. Guess what the active ingredient in that is: Benzoyl Peroxide.

And the active ingredient in this new face treatment: Benzoyl Peroxide.

Yes, I'm actively kicking myself over and over. Apparently my skin loves this stuff and it is the only thing that makes it sit down and shut up.

Thus the last 3 years have been somewhat an exercise in futility. I'm entirely sure that my crazy hormones played a part as did my increased milk consumption but really, I suspect so much of it could have been avoided if I hadn't stopped using the Neutrogena stuff.

I still get some breakouts, but things have improved and I'm feeling so much better about it all. I can't get over how ridiculously stressed my skin would make me- which in retrospect didn't help matters much. Logically I know my skin was never truly absolutely horrible, I had the dermatologist tell me as much but then again those cystic acne bastards really are just that: painful bastards that swell and left me feeling disfigured.

Benzoyl Peroxide + Me = true love forever.

*Seriously the Clarisonic is an awesome tool and I love it so. It was a pricey investment but so worth it.

Boozed up cherries

From here on out I'm not going to comment on my inability to write regularly. I know with my schedule right now it's probably just not going to be possible. I'm out of the house by 9am and I'm never home before 9:30 a least 3 nights a week, by Thursday I all I want to do is sit like a lump on the couch. And often that is exactly what I do, my brain has turned to mush and making dinner seems impossible. Which is why last week I tore into an entire bag of Archer Farms Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and a whole jar of salsa. That was it, nothing else for dinner.

It seems planning right now is essential to my life, if I don't think ahead and plan meals it means I'm either forgetting to eat until I realize I've got the full on low-blood sugar shakes and am light headed or I'm having to compromise and eat something quick and not so good for my waistline. And lets be honest, I need those extra calories for beer and custard consumption- wasting them on shitty convenience food is a crime against Wisconsin's many culinary delights.

This week I'm trying a new plan- on Sunday (tomorrow) I'll be making a big casserole from the most recent Eating Well and then portioning it out for meals during the week. Perhaps even freezing some of it so I can pull it out for those weeks when I fail at life. I also need to make a couple of really awesome soups and freeze those, but that will have to be next weekend as I've totally run out of time this weekend.

This summer while I was staying at my parents I halved some cherries and made a simple syrup and threw in some booze (two jars were rum another two were vanilla vodka). I sort of winged the recipe after pursuing some online, then I canned them up and passed out some as gifts for helping me move and such. I did keep one jar for myself and sweet baby am I glad I did. These little vanilla vodka cherry bombs are amazing, I tried them a couple of different ways- one with just seltzer water. Sort of very grown up cherry soda, and while it was good I really thought that they were the best of best in Coke. Cherry Vanilla Vodka Coke. Hello, you are delicious.

I know cherries aren't really in season but I feel I should share anyways:

Boozed Up Cherries

- 2 lbs of pitted and halved cherries
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cups of water
- bottle of vanilla vodka
- canning jars, rings, lids (sterilized)

Bring the water and sugar up to boil on the stove top and once hot and the sugar is dissolved turn off (basic simple syrup). Fill the jars with the halved cherries about 3/4 the way full, fill 1/3 of the way with simple syrup, fill the rest of the 2/3 with vanilla vodka.

Then follow standard canning procedures. Wipe down the edges of the jars, place lids and rings and tighten. Then place in a boiling water bath and process for 7-9 minutes. Remove from hot water and allow to cool. Check to make sure they've "popped" and sealed correctly or re-process them.

Again, please use proper techniques when canning- which are easily look-up-able online.

Then placed these lovely jeweled babies on the shelf and crack them open and make up a boozy cocktail after a very long week. When you sigh in happiness you'll know why these are becoming a regular in my canning rotation.

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Wisconsite at last.

So here it is, three months and nary a peep from me. I've become the most craptastic blogger in all the land.

One would think that an entire summer of fun would provide me with endless opportunities to post about whatever fun thing I was doing but instead I failed to write at all. Photos, yes- there are tons and tons of evidence of me having fun. Riding rollercoasters, driving a boat (look at me overcoming that fear of boats and water), running a 5 mile race, visiting my sister in law in alabama/georgia, a fun visit back to Athens and on and on.

I have to admit I've started to feel sketchy about posting my photos here because of my intended future profession. I'm considering purging my old ones, just in case any of my students stumble across these posts and suddenly are like "Oh holy crap, look at this post Mrs. Skeezix* wrote about being totally freaking drunk 4 years ago! WHOA!" and then poof! I'm an unemployed teacher.

That is the crap thing, I love the photos (uh, clearly I'm a photographer). They convey the fun in a way that words sometimes can't. I'm also epically lazy and photos are an easy way to bulk up a lame or boring entry. I have some time to get make a decision.

But that means that I've actually started grad school! Hurrah! It's a week and half into classes and I'm enjoying being back in the swing of things. Class is really interesting and possibly a little overwhelming at times when I think about all the stuff I'll actually have to do once I get into a classroom.

Oh Milwaukee though, I'm loving it so. There is an excellent little tiki bar around the corner from my apartment (and I mean around the corner), I've ended up there almost every weekend since I moved into town. It's cute and hip and the drinks are crazy strong.

I've hit a couple of the breweries in town and sampled some delicious Wisconsin beer plus had my very first cheese curds (oh love). There are still plenty of breweries to hit up and I can't wait to get rolling. I've had a couple of visitors already, a friend who moved to Wisconsin came for a visit and then a friend from Athens who was in town on business. Really! It felt like a little piece of Athens-home here in my new place.

Keep your fingers crossed for me though, I need to find a job and it's been slow going. Which of course is stressing me out more than a touch, I'm paranoid because I've been having to spend money on school supplies and feel like I'm burning through my reserves faster than I planned.

*I realized after I posted this I made myself a "Mrs." I promise I did not have some quickie wedding in all the fun things I did this summer. I'm not sure why I bloody wrote that but it's funny and thus I'm leaving it.

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Learning to relax again

So during my first full day of unemployment I ran, biked, laid out in the sun, knitted while listening to NPR (outside), read some and then took another bike ride and organized some of my knitting needles (whoa boy, organizing knitting needles? That is exciting stuff right there- isn't it?)


Kind of sounds awesome, doesn't it? Well, perhaps not the part about organizing knitting needles.

It was, but honestly- I've been running full tilt for the last 2 months that all this time off I'm not entirely sure how to handle it anymore. For example, two weeks ago I was in Florida for 4 days for work, home for one, drove to Cleveland and back in less than 24 hours, packed a bunch boxes, went to my going away party, and had a house guest. All those things in 7 days.

Now I know I should be exhausted, and I am a bit...but I had Sunday and Monday of this week to do very little and so by today I was just ready to bust on out and do stuff.

Perhaps I should recap moving? Eh, it was moving- same as it ever is...too much crap and by 6pm that night I was just throwing shit away. Every single hanger I owned, a whole bottle of bleach, random cake boards I'd never used, old duplicate photos, a storage bin I'd had since I was 18, etc. There just wasn't room for them and they are all things easily replaced. My storage until was packed to the ceiling, my dad's car was filled with my stuff and so was my car. WHY do I have so much fucking shit? WHY?

I'm hoping to get every penny of my deposit back, and my mom was a champ at the cleaning of the apartment and it looked great. I'll need every penny to fund my unemployed summer of laziness plus a deposit on an apartment in Milwaukee and then paying the rent and utilities until I get on feet. Oh and money to buy food would be nice.

I'm not so secretly hoping that with all this free time I'll really get in some good bike rides and running, by the time the summer is over I'll have really amazing calves and thigh muscles. Then of course I'll have to figure out how to deal with the slow return of my regular body once I lose a majority of my free time due to a job and classes in the fall.

But I will know that for one glorious summer when I was 30 my calves were at their most athletically awesomest.

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Changes are coming like a freight train

How does it happen that I've failed to write for so long? I can't explain it, I've started to write things countless time and then something stops me dead in my tracks (ooh, look at that shiny object over there...wanders away from the computer.)

But here I am again, writing another entry- hopefully to completion.

There is news in the land of the Saucy Trollop. Big news. I handed in my resignation at work and my last day will be May 28th.

Oh. My. God.

I'm heading back to school in the fall to get my teaching license and my masters. It's absolutely terrifying. And exciting. And then terrifying again.

The reason I'm leaving so soon is because my lease on my apartment is up on June 1st, and my new school is in Milwaukee. So for the time being I'll be tossing my stuff in storage for part of the summer and then staying with my parents in Cleveland and visiting my brother in Alabama too. I'm aiming for a August 1st arrival date in Milwaukee, which gives me three weeks before school starts to get settled in and find a damn job. I need to work, my student loans won't cover my living expenses and my classes are built in such a way that I don't have to be in class all day. Plus living in a cardboard box under a bridge would be fucking hard in the middle of winter which would be the result of me not finding a job.

This whole thing is a good thing, I've been needing a change for a while and I know in my heart it is the right move but that doesn't mean that without the slightest bit of provication that I don't burst into tears. Lots and lots of tears. I go in fits and starts, I'll be fine for a while and then all of the sudden it will hit me that I'm leaving this place I've called home for so very long. It's been 6.5 years that I've lived here as a non-college adult and then another 4 for undergrad so almost 11 years in total. My friends here are awesome, the community is amazing. It's impossibly hard to say goodbye to it all.

My poor, long suffering sister has had to bear the brunt of my crying. That woman deserves a bloody medal.

I've mentioned before when I get stressed my stomach goes haywire, I lose my appetite- sometimes I throw up. It is like it turns into a Celtic knot of discontent. I am fairly sure I thoroughly worried my parents this weekend because the sum total of my food that I consumed in their presence wouldn't keep a tit mouse alive (yes, I just said tit mouse- because I'm 13 and it's funny). For those who know me this is absolutely not my usual modus operandi. I love food. I love to eat. Granted earlier in the week I was eating everything that wasn't nailed down (thanks PMS), but on Thursday a switch flipped and poof! angry gut and no appetite.

Which is a pisser because my parents took me out to eat a totally awesome restaurant in Cleveland and I had maybe 5 bites of my amazingly delicious food. Do you live in Cleveland? Please go to Lopez on Lee and eat some of their Iron Chef Guacamole. It is absolutely to die for.

Christ the way this post is going everyone is going to have the impression that I'm not really excited about this move. But I am, I swear. Right now it's just the stress is foremost in my mind and thus taking up 90% of my computing power.

Milwaukee is awesome, the beer. The cheese. The people. A whole new world is waiting for me, and that is an amazing thing.

Just breathe.

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WTF Potluck

I know everyone is desperate to know what I decided to do about my cell phone...I went with Verizon and the Droid Eris. So far so good, a few hiccups with it's fancy-ass-ness. But I've successfully sent texts, photos and made calls. I have also managed to be on the phone with my sister, put her on hold, call my mother, hang up on her, call her back, hang up again and then call my friend, hanging up on her- and finally hanging up on my sister (who was on hold). All in the span of 30 or seconds. It was spectacular.

Last weekend I spent the snow behind for a meet up of internet nerd friends. We've all been posting online in some iteration of our message board for damn near 10 years (some less than that- fresh meat and all that jazz). It was probably the best time I've had in years, so much laughter and hilariousness. It's mind boggling that we've all shared so much over the years (weddings, divorces, babies, deaths, moves, graduations, etc) and not all of us have met. I honestly think my abs may have given up by Sunday because of all the laughter.

One the best parts of the weekend was our amazing WTF Potluck. Over the years we've discussed various regional dishes- the sorts of things one finds in church cookbooks. Things that sound dubious in nature but actually are extremely tasty. In order to win over the doubters it was time to make those dishes and share them with the group. Top of the WTF list was the 7 Layer Salad. In case you are unaware it is a salad of lettuce (iceburg only), cauliflower (or broccoli), peas, cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and mayonnaise. It sounds horrifying but it is great- the mayo layer is provides the salad dressing. I promise it is delicious.

Other contributions include Grilled Stickies from State College, Pa. Which is a breakfast cake/bread that you butter and heat in a pan. It is warm, cinnamony goodness. A classic taco dip, cream cheese covered in chili sauce, beer cheese dip that was amazing. It actually tasted like beer and cheese, I feel most dips of this nature are lacking in the actual beer flavor. Also there was a velveta corn macaroni casserole and the ever classic Hanky Panks. Cheesy beef and sausage on rye toasts, they aren't pretty but they are tasty. And even good cold.

Some other highlights of the weekend included pictionary that went slightly pervy and got very loud, laying in bed giggling like a bunch of school girls over a hilarious joke- laughing so hard the bed was shaking, our walk through the park where we basically looked like a gang of ladies, convincing our host to take us to Bojangles for breakfast, a deep and involved discussion of what a Hurdy Gurdie is, and a hilarious diatribe about solar sun panels and Rascal wheelchairs.

I'm sure some of the above things will make very little sense but I still bust up laughing every time I think about my friend pointing at me and saying "YOU! You will make canned tomatoes!" when discussing her plan if the U.S. government should fall and we are thrown into chaos.

I could really go for a Grilled Stickie right now.

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1, 2, 3, 4...

Somehow this year I sort of managed to avoid the New Years Blues. Maybe I got a little sad but it's been much better than it has in years past. I'm attributing it to having done so much in the last year, checking things off my to-do list.

I'm not a fan of resolutions, because most don't seem to stick. But to-do lists seem different. So far I've gotten a couple of them already taken care of, granted they are simple easy things but totally worth it.

1. Call and cancel HBO and see if there is a special running to lower my bill.

Done. I used to watch HBO all the damn time, then I got a DVR and started watching a ton of regular tv on it and never used it anymore. Plus True Blood isn't going to be back on until June. With the special I qualified for I've knocked almost $40 off my bill. HELL YEAH!

2. Reduce my Netflix plan

Done. Again the DVR is to blame for this, I just haven't been watching as many movies. At the moment I'm only saving $4, but I might drop down to 1 disc a time.

3. Figure out what to do about my damn cell phone.

Partially. I spend about 4-5 hours yesterday looking at plans and contemplating options. My brain hurts. A lot. I'm thinking of upgrading to a smartphone but holy jesus, plans are expensive. Do I really need it? Probably. Then again, maybe not? I'm really hoping to lower my bills but this is one area where it seems like almost any change I make is going to make it go up. Which annoys me and my cold, penny pinching heart.

The issue is that my family, whom I talk to the most, is on Verizon which gives me opportunity to call them without using my minutes. Bad thing about them is their free calling doesn't start until 9pm, so I'd be limited in my calling to everyone else.

ATT is an option since you can add earlier nights and weekends for $9 (starting at 8pm instead of 9pm). Plus you get the pretty iPhone. The con is again, my family is on another network.

Both plans are about the same cost, and I can't fucking make up my mind. I made a spread sheet and I still can't decide.

Part of the reason I'm leaving my current carrier, Sprint, is because they sent me a notification that from here on out I'd be charged an extra $5 a month for having an Account Spending Limit. Which means that should I accidentally go over my minutes or texts I'd could only run up a bill to $200 before they would cut my phone off. This has never happened but I like the added protection and have had it since I became a customer with them 10! years ago. They'll remove the fee from my account if I give them access to automatically withdraw from my bank account. Which is a big, fucking hell no. I pay my bill every month, but I know that giving someone access to your account is a huge mistake and there are horror stories of people's accounts being wiped out when the company accidentally charges your account multiple times in a month. Which has overdrawn people's accounts and taken all their money, then it's a fight to get it back.

There is no administrative cost associated with this, it's all computerized and they've never charged for it before so it pisses me off. It doesn't help that their coverage in my area can be sketchy and their options for cells phone upgrades is limited to 5 options and all of them suck.

Holy hell, did I just write a freaking Trieste on cell phones? Sorry, but I did. Suggestions or flat out telling me who to chose would be appreciated as I am uncharacteristically frozen with indecision.

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