Monthly Archives: February 2012

Who am I?

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This is a question I ask myself almost every day. I am in the seemingly-never-ending quest for self awareness. I am self-conscious, but not in the usual sense of the word. I am normally quite self-confident, except when it comes to a few things like speaking foreign languages (I’m really trying to get over that one). Sometimes I am too confident and it hurts me; then I retreat for a few days of embarrassment and reflection before emerging again as Amber. Sometimes I get too comfortable in “me” and forget that as the world is changing so am I, so I need to look back inside again to see who I really am. Almost every time I do this soul-search I learn something new… something that I would have never expected to be there. When I look back at the decisions I made throughout my childhood and teenage years as a supposed manifestation of self, I remember feeling like I was doing the right thing, and there could be no other possible action that could be “righter” or more suited to me. Yet as a grow older I think about what could have been done to better fit me, what could have been thought, what more learning I had to do. This makes me realize that I what I think now to be true, in twenty years could be a misrepresentation of my values.

Throughout my teenage years I regularly would read through old journal entries and destroy the parts that were no longer consistent with who I was or wanted to be. I wanted to be sure that if someone read them, they got an accurate portrayal of my current self. It was a bit egotistical some would say, but I wanted to be cautious. Instead of some people who could look back at old entries and laugh or reminisce, I was extremely embarrassed at how silly I used to be. It was a competition with myself. I always want to be the best, the smartest, the most rational… I haven’t looked at those journals in years and perhaps when I visit my parents’ again I will throw them away, because I am still at competition with myself and I still try to portray myself in a certain way “just in case” someone reads them and thinks something of me that isn’t accurate.

Why am I so concerned about other people? So obsessed to the point of controlling my persona even in the most private of locked diaries? To some extent I still have the personality of my teenage counterpart. I release different parts of my thoughts depending on in which situation I am or with whom I am occupying my time. I won’t speak about my vegetarian adventures with my hunting father, nor speak to my veggie friends about the delicious pork chops I made. Is this a practice of concealing my identity or just understanding social rules? This is a question that will take more time to answer.

My self-criticism goes into overdrive when I move to a new area and must start over making friends. I like to challenge myself and try to become friends with people I really admire, even if that means really editing what I say and do in the beginning stages of the friendship. The problem is when I mistakenly “slip” a piece of my underlying self and face the rejection moment, I am left with a half-friend that I have annoyed. Instead when I easily fall into friendships with people that I can be “myself” with immediately, I become too complacent and often take advantage of the relationship or let it go astray. Why do I need this constant challenge? Why can’t I just let myself have a carefree life and focus my energies on my career or art? This question will probably take even longer to solve than the former.

The point is, I am closer to finding myself now than I have ever been, and I will say the same thing tomorrow. The more questions I find, the closer I am. Although the questions appear to make a person go crazy, I feel great when I raise a new question about myself, because I get another mission. I think many people are afraid to get older but I am really excited to find out who I really am.

Eating Habits

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Today in the grocery store I had a revelation, but I will get to that later.

I am in the transition phase of being an omnivore to a vegetarian. I have never really eaten much meat, and some of it I find to be really disgusting. I never cooked much meat for myself and usually chose the vegetarian option when there was one. This wasn’t because of ethical reasons, but simply for my own taste. Recently I have been studying about world development and have been surrounded by people who encourage ethical choices when purchasing food: eco, fair trade, vege, etc. I really admired these people for having the courage and dedication to make such a change in their lives. I partly wanted to be that kind of person and partly wanted the admiration from them in return. I don’t want someone I admire to think I am immoral for the choices I make. I have successfully given up all caffeine from my diet, so I thought it could be easy to simply cut out the meat I rarely eat anyway.

I started with giving up ground beef. I liked the idea of doing this anyway because I have always been paranoid of getting E. Coli and I usually try to nearly blacken my hamburger before I eat it, and all the flavor runs out by then. Also I guess that ground beef is just all the leftover parts of the cow anyway, which could be……ANYTHING!! It agrees with my philosophy to not waste, but it doesn’t agree with my gag reflex.

After going for a week or so without ground beef I just took the plunge. It went okay, I didn’t really crave any meat. But the problem was that I have a husband who loves to have meat at least once a day, and in order to cook meals to satisfy both of us I had to cook a supplement meat thing for him, and pick it out of the food that he cooked for me. Then I decided to change my rules a bit. Whenever I make something for myself, I will not cook meat. But if some meat is offered to me I may not reject it. Is that a lazy vegetarian? Or just an undemanding one? I mean, no one likes to feel bad when they invite a vegetarian over for dinner only to know such a fact after they’ve prepared the best prime rib they’d ever made. And my father lives for hunting and fishing…. I could not disappoint him by refusing to try the new thing he just proudly caught (which is something that has really bonded us in the past…. and actually I think I get a freebee with this one because the animals were free-range). Or to go to Luca’s home and be an even further picky eater than I already am when his family offers me anchovy paste and raw ham (at least now I could have an ethical excuse not to eat it).

So, I guess I concluded I am an easy-going vegetarian. Anyway, I have been looking at some vege and vegan blogs to find some recipes, because I often look for recipes anyway, and now I can be sure there is no meat. I came across one website that listed all the reasons why one should be a vegan. Including: its bad to eat eggs because of this horrible thing, its bad to drink milk because of that horrible thing, and so on. It really made me feel sick! When I was finished I almost gave up everything for good. But then I started to think critically about it, and came back down to reality. Can I imagine myself not baking any more delicious quiche or having my daily bowl of cereal? And then I remembered a thing that settled it: the best cheese I have ever tasted sold out of a van by a charming man behind a church in the Alps. Sounds skeezy, I know, but I worry it has ruined all other cheeses for me, and that this man has driven away into the distance and I will never taste this fantastic cheese again….. that is how delicious it was. I could never give up cheese. I can’t even imagine the thought of it. So there you go, I won’t be a vegan.

Now we get to the point, my grocery store revelation. I was strolling for dinner, and I came across some meatballs. And in that moment my mouth watered and my heart sank at the same moment. Something I used to eat all the time, and trust me here in Sweden even the frozen meatballs are fantastic. I walked past them and went into the next area to buy a new block of cheese, when I saw the cheese of Sweden’s famous brand Arla … now if you don’t know this brand, they put a cartoon cow on just about everything they make. In that moment I remembered the website I read about how milk cows are kept pregnant and their babies are taken from them and after some years they are killed when they can no longer produce and etc. and then I thought, what is the difference between me buying this cheese and me buying the meatballs? Either way a cow is suffering. What is so noble about giving up something but supplementing it with something else that is arguably just as bad? Even if I buy only cheese from cows who are treated ethically, then I go on about this wasting thing. Should the ethically treated milk cows (if there is such a thing) just die of natural causes and be buried instead of eaten? I know that’s not how it works and blah blah unfortunately the world isn’t really like that yada yada…. but really if I’m going to eat cheese then I shouldn’t have a problem with beef, or leather, or cow tongues, or whatever.

But in the end I left the store with this cartoon cow instead of the meatballs, because I decided I still can’t stand the idea of eating whatever leftovers are in that ground beef. But I did buy a steak.

Ginger

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My new favorite food is ginger. I have used it on and off for the past few years, but only recently have I discovered how much I really enjoy it. Now I will share some of my favorite ways to use it.

I used to really dislike the taste of ginger, then a friend of mine bought me a jar of candied ginger

which I nibbled on over time that got me to associate the taste with something good. They last for a really long time, I actually think I still have some in a jar at my parents’ house, but it is probably about time to throw them away….

Now I have been using fresh raw ginger. I bought a root, peeled it, sliced it very thinly, and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer. Once they were frozen I just smashed them a bit with my fist and they broke apart nicely and I also got some into little pieces in which I can conveniently add to meals. A few nights ago we had dinner at an Indian restaurant and we got yogurt on the side, and it inspired me to use some Indian flavors in yogurt. I used plain Greek yogurt, grated some ginger to add to it, and then added some honey and a touch of curry powder. Delicious!! Then I decided to try some ginger in the yogurt with some frozen berries which wasn’t as good, but I accidentally left it outside overnight on the back of my bike and realized I could freeze my own yogurt to fulfill an ice cream craving!

Today my husband made me some tea, which for me is just hot water and some lemon since I do not drink caffeine (and can’t really fathom spending so much money on herbal teas) and I decided to throw a few pieces of the frozen ginger in there as well, and it was really great! The flavor didn’t seep into the water so much, but you could definitely taste it, and once it was finished I had a yummy surprise at the bottom to make me alert again.

Above all, my favorite use for ginger is to chew on it when I am on an airplane. I get really nauseous in the air, especially when we are on the descent, and whenever I try to take an anti-motion-sickness medicine I feel so out of it that there is no way I can navigate myself around an airport. So I usually suffer. But One day I bought sushi at an airport and decided to save the gari for the ride and I don’t know if it was the placebo effect or what, but my nausea was reduced. Not completely gone, but it seemed to have helped. Now I haven’t tried raw ginger yet but my next flight I’m going to pack some of the frozen pieces and give it a try.