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rituals
Friday. 11.13.15 10:16 pm

Successes:
- Got a promotion at work, which means a $.50/hr. increase and more responsibility
- Almost finished with Christmas shopping and it's only November
- Celebrated six months with R
- Almost completely sorted out everything with these last three credits of my college education

Now the entry.

I'm not a religious person, but one thing I do appreciate about a lot of religions is the use of rituals--the day-to-day tasks that help strengthen the human-deity bond. I'm attracted to the intimacy of these rituals, how many of them are both formal and informal, at once. That speaks to me, as an approach to closeness.

It's for that reason that I've only been doing the French braiding portion of braiding my hair, at night, and letting R do the rest. When I think of love and intimacy, I think of washing another's back in the tub when they're unwell, or feeding a child soup when they're sick, or braiding someone's hair for them, before they go to sleep. Those small, everyday gestures speak to me, carry weight...it's just lucky that he feels the same.

We've been nothing but smooth, throughout this relationship. Fights happen...maybe once every couple of months, and they're always resolved within the same day, and we come out of them more attuned to each other's sensitivities and needs. (Will that always be the case? I'm optimistic that maybe it will be, but realistic enough to know that some things can't be fixed so easily or learned from. Most of it seems like it's a matter of wanting to protect one another and having the big, uncomfortable talks early on.) We talk regularly whenever we can (at least every day), and support each other in whatever we're going after. Part of functioning so well is the fact that we already have a past and have hurt each other very badly, before any of this relationship business ever started, and I suppose the other part is us both having so much experience in functioning in environments where teamwork is crucial. It's so easy, in a relationship, to call yourselves a team, but to function as one is sometimes difficult and always a deliberate choice. Both of us have recognized that and made the choice, every single day, for six months. I'm proud of that.

And where did we find ourselves, on our six month mark? Eating a home-cooked meal that I'd made while he picked his classes. Me, sitting on the couch, knitting a scarf and watching a movie with my headphones in, while he wrote a couple of papers. Sitting in bed, me in front of him, while he finished my braid for me. No big, extravagant anything--he wrote me a long letter, I made him a card and half a dozen apple roses (recipe below). We smiled at each other a lot.

I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.



Apple Roses (recipe makes 6-8)


Ingredients:

Preserves, marmalade, or fruit/nut butter of your choice (I used apricot preserves)
1 standard sheet of puff pastry
1-1.5 large baking apple(s) (honeycrisp and envy apples work well and produce a nice sweetness)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups water
Cinnamon sugar (to taste)

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. If frozen, set puff pastry out to thaw. If not, leave in fridge.
3. Peel apple and slice thinly so that slices look like so:

4. Heat lemon juice and water in saucepan to boiling; take off of heat and pour over apple slices in bowl, or add apple slices to saucepan until apples are pliable.
5. Throw down some flour and roll your puff pastry until the pastry is evenly thin; cut into strips about 3.5 inches tall with a sharp knife or, preferably, a pizza cutter.
6. Spread marmalade/preserves/apple butter long-way across center of puff pastry strips; place softened apples on the topmost inch or less of puff pastry strip, curved-side up and showing over edge.
7. Fold puff pastry in half so that the flat bases of the apples are folded in and only the curves are showing, then roll the pastry lengthwise--first tightly for the small petals--until the finished product looks like the photo above. Tuck any slices that slip out back into place.
8. Place in greased cupcake pan, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I only used a pinch on each--this is a naturally-sweet pastry and doesn't need much help), bake for 20-30 minutes (I suggest making an extra you can cut open and eventually eat, since the baking time counts a LOT on how much you rolled that pastry out).
OPTIONAL: Dip each apple (curved part only) in red food dye or rub with blueberry juice to stain pink. A little bit of red food dye goes a LONG way, so be very, very careful with how much you use--you will be able to taste it, if you stain the whole petal. That's why I'd suggest blueberries, instead--no icky taste.
OPTIONAL 2: Set some pastries so the apple slices show point-out instead of curve-out, if you want to make lilies (drag blueberry juice up the lengthwise center of each apple slice to make pink lily design).

Best served warm with half a scoop of French vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. An argument can be made for butter pecan.

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I gotta say
Saturday. 10.10.15 10:16 pm

So I started my day (at 7am) by listening to Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day," and he did not disappoint.

Today was a good day.

I got into work a couple hours (and several coats of mascara) later, where we were unloading products from the shipments that just came in onto the shelves. It was quiet and relaxing, which was cool. Opening went without a hitch--a couple people here and there, but nothing overwhelming. And then a woman comes in, and I can tell that she isn't happy (after three years of working for the school and having to deal with parents, these things become apparent).

Clearly, she did not start her day off listening to the same music I did.

So she tells me that she had a shitty experience, the last time she came in, and that she almost decided to take her business elsewhere, because of it.

To be honest...I wasn't flattered by the fact that she decided to give us one last chance. I have a roof over my head and three hot meals a day--I don't beg for money, that isn't my style (and it won't be, so long as I'm relatively taken care of). But I could tell that she was frustrated and just wanted someone to help her, and that very much so is my style. So I bit my tongue and spent the next hour talking to her about different products.

She came in for one $40 item and left with that, an $18 cleaner, a $30 spray, a $20 concealer, and a $20 brush.

Bless.

She also stood there and gave me her highest praise in front of my manager, then donated to the charity we have going (which counts towards my tally--if I get the most donations, I win a prize), then agreed to fill out our survey and mention me there.

Be still my heart.

So, despite all the weird, unprofessional crap going on around me (associates and even managers being negative around guests, talking about personal situations, not encouraging each other), I finished my shift with a big grin on my face, because I killed it.

So I run to my locker, and I'm putting in the combination, grin getting bigger and bigger by the second, because not only have I just proven myself as the person to grab when you have unhappy customers, but I also have someone coming to pick me up.

Phone reacquired, I text him, "I'm off!" and walk a little more quickly to the front of the store. I'm outright smiling like an idiot, jingling my keys, tapping my toes, as I wait for the manager to release me from my employment prison, and then there's a familiar car rolling through the parking lot.

Outside, it's an outright trot. He's just pulled in and is climbing out the car, so we wrap each other up in a huge hug, and I'm home.

He hands me flowers (pink hybrid tea roses, they're beautiful, I love them), and I want to cry, because he's just...everything I ever wanted, and so many things I didn't know to want. I'm having a spectacular day, and the person I love has just rolled into town and handed me beautiful roses. I don't know if there is a better, more gratifying flush of emotion out there.

We go to lunch, where I relinquish my appreciative grasp on my roses and make him let me pay, since he drove down AND drove us to the restaurant. The rest of the afternoon is spent enjoying the nice day--beauty of nature, and all that.

I hated saying goodbye--I always hate saying goodbye--but the short visit made it easier. I just miss him. We bring up cohabitation regularly, now, and that's not just from missing each other, but also from 1. seeing it as a financially-smart move, and 2. the fact that we love each other and feel stable and mature enough to make this move.

The latter being the more important reason.

...But it does make a huge financial difference. Like, huge. Enormous.

Anyway...distance sucks...but today made it suck a little less. A few hours was a great recharge.

AND ONTO THE NEXT DAY.

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normal happenings
Tuesday. 10.6.15 2:41 am

Teenage customers call me "ma'am."

STOP. NO. I'M THE COOL OLDER SISTER YOU NEVER HAD, NOT YOUR FREAKIN' AUNT WHO WANTS TO RELIVE HER BEST YEARS VICARIOUSLY THROUGH YOU.

COME ON.

That said...I helped one woman pick her wedding makeup, tonight. The other day, I had an entire conversation with someone just about enhancing eyebrows. I even rang up a shy high school senior who'd just applied to my alma mater, and reassured her of how great it would be while scanning her items.

Like, some of it is chaos. I still understand why people steal things, but seeing how calculated some people are with their theft...it makes me a little angrier than I used to be, when they weren't preying on me, specifically. Knowing that someone is scoping out my personal tendencies in order to find a window in which they can successfully take things...well, that just makes it a little more personal, and a little creepier. I also hate standing for so long, and am currently researching good gel insoles. ...I also have redeveloped my eye twitch, because it's so fast-paced and completely nonstop, from the moment I walk in to the moment I walk out. My psychiatrist should advertise to sales employees specifically--she'd make a killing.

But, I leave re-energized. Dealing with people all day sounds like a GREAT day, for me, and that's exactly what I get. My manager has repeatedly let me know that she appreciates my work, and told me, tonight, that I'm at the top of her list to call when she has open shifts ($$$). She also tells me that I might get a small promotion to one of the positions with more responsibility in the near future, if I keep up my efforts. Which...yeah, I want that. $$$$$$. As long as I'm with this job and nothing more related to the field I want to work in comes along, I'm going to try to move as far up as possible.

Basically...we're Knopeing this. WHO SAYS I CAN'T HAVE IT ALL?

Speaking of Leslie Knope, a quick cute thing (maybe):

Situation: R is teasing me. It's playful, so I send him this:


He sends this back, almost unusually quickly:


He's so cool. So cool.

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moving forward
Monday. 9.21.15 2:27 am

"Check out Tuft & Needle and let me know what you think," he messages, and I do. Looks nice, affordable, and it doesn't look like it will feel like bricks, unlike a certain bed (mine) that I won't mention (but I will and I did, it's my mattress, I hate it and look forward to visiting him because he has a nicer bed than me).

My VSB (very serious boyfriend)* and I are talking about acquiring a larger, comfier mattress, for the place it appears we'll soon both be living in.

Is this weird? I feel like this is weird. I feel too young to be moving in with my boyfriend and going to breweries with him. I'M ONLY TWELVE, I CAN'T POSSIBLY BE OF DRINKING AGE.

As for the last entry...I totally gave up on getting input, because I realized that I should have added a few questions on demographics to the survey. I realized this after going through response hell. Everyone disagreed in their responses--seriously, if there were five responses, each would have come in at 20% selected. The only thing they disagreed on that worked for me was the logo; about half liked the blue background with a pale red-pink heart, and about half liked the blue background with a brighter heart.

"[Bleepin'] easy," I said to myself, and then I just changed the color of the heart to something that represented the best of both worlds--pale, but a bluer pink. That's the only thing I really needed help on (the rest I'll probably just discuss with a few people on a personal basis), so...good. Wonderful. My shop has a logo.

In other news, I start at my new job, most likely, in around ten hours.

I should really be asleep.

They had me fill out the application again because apparently my application expired DURING THE HIRING PROCESS (naturally), so I'm doing that now. I have to call in the morning and see what I need to wear (they might have me just go ahead with training). But hey, after that, I'll be making money and teaching people to apply makeup. Yas.



*My friend Steve who is not midday once told me he got a response text from a girl that said, "LBVS," and he told me that it apparently meant, "Laughing But Very Serious." I'm so into that, guys.

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