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I hope I’m certifiable

Federal Court Interpreter certifiable, that is. This past Tuesday, I finally presented the oral portion of my FCICE. I had identified my weaknesses and strengths and had prepared myself by focusing on my weaknesses and really brushing up on certain interpreting modes. Turns out, I focused too hard on one thing, and ended up neglecting the portions that were my strengths to the point where I’m not entirely sure how I did. :/ I guess I’ll find out in six to eight weeks…

Through the past couple months, I’ve been constantly reminded how lucky I am. I have received constant patience, love, and support from my family and friends. Calls, chats, text messages all full of encouragement and motivation.

Thank you. I never would have made it happily through with my sanity mostly intact if it hadn’t been for all of you… and I appreciate it more than words could ever express.

July 16, 2011   3 Comments

Happy Birthday, Schmoopy

Today (or well, yesterday, now that it’s after midnight) was George’s 32nd birthday. In typical and wonderfully-charmed-life fashion, a short essay he wrote on the final shuttle launch was featured on Jalopnik.(And speaking of “charmed life”, today he got to do what no one gets to do: say goodbye to Atlantis ON THE PAD before she goes…)

It was a great day: I woke up early to prep his presents and make one of his favorite breakfast dishes, eggs benedict, and wow am I glad I did. It took me for-freaking-ever to get the poached eggs right (only one soldier egg was lost in battle). I highly recommend smitten kitchen‘s tips on how to poach a perfect egg, and this amazingly quick (and d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s) recipe for hollandaise sauce. The result (as always, click pics for larger versions):

So delicious. I really hope George enjoyed it, because I’m not really excited on embarking on that little adventure again any time soon. Breakfast should not be that much work!

Tangent! Before going to bed the night before, I was planning this breakfast in my head, so I had a nightmare about it. In my nightmare, Diane (my mother-in-law) and our friend David Precht showed up and demanded plate after plate of eggs benedict. I couldn’t prepare them quickly enough, they got progressively angrier, and George’s birthday ended up being a disaster. (Disclaimer: my mother-in-law is in no way a nightmare — she is, in fact, an angel. I can’t say the same for David Precht, though!)

After doing some yard work/work around the house, we went out to lunch (or rather, were treated to lunch) at Thai Thai by the lovely Maia, along with Frank and his brother, here for tomorrow’s STS-135 launch.

Mmm… bento boxes, how I love thee.

When I got home, I was surprised to find, in usual George fashion, a present for me on his birthday: Pyyyyyrexxxx. (I cannot be the only weirdo who gets excited about kitchen utensils, please tell me I’m not alone.)

All in all, an amazing day for an amazing person.

I love you, babes. Happy Birthday.

July 8, 2011   9 Comments

Paper or plastic?

We are what some might call dirty hippies. (I am?)

TANGENT TIME! Yep, I’m one of those annoying people — we are those annoying people that start using “we” for like, everything once they’re married. Fact is, George and I not only share a lot of the same opinions on The Big Subjects in Life™, but as roommates who get to make out without disappointing our parents by being libertines (yep!), we spend basically all of our free time together. So, yes, I will annoyingly overuse this plural personal pronoun (say that five times fast!), but only because it just makes sense. For us. (heehee See what I did there?)

Anyway! We are what some (though, I hope not a lot of you) might call dirty hippies. Recycling. Composting. Reusing things. Repurposing things. And taking reusable bags with us to the grocery store to eliminate the need for plastic or paper. That said, I respect everyone else’s opinion to disagree. You don’t recycle? I won’t judge you. You don’t reuse? I don’t care if you don’t mind wasting money! You don’t believe in global warming? That’s OK by me!

TANGENT #2! If you don’t believe in global warming because of the really brutally cold winters we’ve been having, let me just stop you in your tracks: “weather” and “climate” are not the same thing. “Global weather” averages out. It’s always raining somewhere, flooding somewhere else and sunny in another region. There is a GLOBAL AVERAGE SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE, and there’s no denying that with emissions and general mistreatment of the planet, that average is steadily climbing. Global warming causes increased precipitation, increased precipitation causes hail, snow, etc. as well as more violent storms of all types,not to mention longer periods of drought and bigger floods. But, if you don’t believe in it for any other reason than using the temperature/climate/global warming argument, then I’m not going to disagree with you.

Yesterday evening, I pranced on over to Publix for some groceries with my reusable bags in hand. At the register, I handed them to the bag girl and she visibly rolled her eyes. I’m going to assume it was because she was very sleepy and they were dry or because she has some sort of weird new eye-rolling disorder called ocular rotativitis. She started putting away the fruits and vegetables and made the usual comments, “Tee hee, do you eat any normal food?” Lady, that IS normal food. Junk food full of preservatives and artificial coloring is what is not normal. I smiled and checked my Droid and tried tuning her out…

“Why didn’t you put each type of produce into one of those separate plastic bags out there? It’s easier to sort them at home. And they’re free!”

Yes, I didn’t use them because I’m cheap. “It takes the same effort for me to put the stuff in the produce drawer when I get home if the stuff’s in individual bags or not… also, you know, the environment?” I pointed to the reusable bags, indicating that clearly I don’t like additional waste. She ‘harumphs’, finishes bagging, and has a couple things left that don’t fit.

“Paper or plastic for the remaining things?”

“I… can just carry them in the cart.”

“You don’t want to do that with the pineapple,” now she has telepathy? “There are germs all over.”She struck a nerve. I agreed to plastic, figuring I could use the bags for trash. I watched her use two separate bags, one for the pineapple, one to take the eggs out of the bag in which they already were.

“No, that’s fine, I don’t need two. They can go in the same bag.”

“The pineapple will crush them.”

“But I don’t want another bag.”

“But it will crush them. They need their own bag.”

“I don’t want it…” The cashier looked at me with pained, pleading eyes. The people behind me were starting to get impatient. “FINE. FINE.”

I’m sorry, Planet. I tried.

July 6, 2011   16 Comments

Baby Seals

I feel quite blessed to have married someone who has the same quirky, twisted, messed up and dorky brand of humor I thought was matchless. I simply assumed I was doomed to go through life sad every time I giggled because a baby reminded me of a troll doll or someone said “penal code” (yep, I’m that mature).

About a year ago, George and I came up with this animated GIF in our heads. IN OUR HEADS. We never made it a reality, we never saw a similar one, it was never actually real, we would just laugh about it really hard because it was real in our imaginations.

So now, in this most serious and busy time in our lives, at 1am on a Sunday night/Monday morning, what did I decide to do? I decided to make George find me images while I played in Photoshop. And this? This is our brainchild. Our masterpiece. Our magnum opus, I dare say. (Click to enlarge. You know you wanna.)

You’re welcome, Internet. You’re most welcome.

July 4, 2011   7 Comments

I think it’s time to stage an intervention

Hi, my name is Lorenia, and my husband is an addict.

I don’t use the term “addict” lightly — just to make sure you are fully aware of his addiction and will support me when I find the help he needs, let me tell you what happened yesterday…

Our phones occasionally do not register phone calls. I don’t know what it is on George’s phone, but on mine, it happens sometimes when I switch from 3G to WiFi. It’s like my phone just becomes a tiny computer and loses its ability to text or make/receive calls. Yesterday, George was on his way home from work and tried calling me a few times. My phone had been on WiFi, so obviously, no call went through. To him, it appeared that he was calling and it just rang and rang and went straight to voicemail. He knew something must be wrong, because even when I’m mad at him (which I never am, because I am the most patient, even-tempered, kind and sensible woman ever, RIGHT?) I always, always answer (and never with a “Harumph” or a “Yeah, WHAT?” or anything like that, I am sweetness personified, shut uppppp). He began to picture coming home, finding me laying on the floor unconscious, with no pulse, and was brainstorming what to do. Should he carry me to the car and race to the hospital? Should he call the ambulance and wait for them to show up while he embraced me and attempted to resuscitate me? Should he sell the house and get rid of all our shared memories because the pain of remaining here would be too much to bear? (Yes, he actually had these thoughts run through his head. Yes, he actually said as much to me. Think about THAT next time you assume I am the drama queen here.)

Instead of calling a neighbor to have them come over and check I was OK/find my lifeless body being nibbled on by kittens, what did my loving husband do?

I’ll tell you what he did, Internet. He composed, in his head, the tweet he might post for all of you to read in the case of my untimely demise… in 140 characters or less.

“Dear Friends, my beloved wife Lorenia has passed on to the next world. Please, for the love of God, pray for the progress of her soul.”

This is how I know I’m married to a Twitter addict. Let’s find him some help.

Editor’s note: While this post makes him seem kind of silly, that’s obviously because it’s SUPPOSED TO DO SO. I swear George is quite literally a Rocket Scientist.

July 1, 2011   11 Comments

PSA: Reverse Racism

I’m sure you all have things that just annoy the ever-loving crap out of you. I sure do! Tons. But few make me as angry as when people make serious comments about “groups”, ethnic or otherwise, because they themselves have at one point or another felt targeted, so they feel justified “getting back” or because they are related to someone who is OF the minority (I will occasionally jokingly say “retarded” and mention how my retarded aunt called me a retard, but I’m not serious, so don’t include me in the Pioneer Woman category, I beg you). For example, when a minority says, “All entitled white girls look the same.” First of all, bitter much? (Note: I am not a white girl.) Secondly, how would you feel if you were say, Korean, and someone from another ethnicity said you look just like every Japanese person they’ve ever met? Pretty insulted, I’m guessing, and there are a lot more “Asians” in this world than whiteys.

“Reverse racism” is never OK, especially not to teach someone a lesson in a passive way. How in the hell do you expect people who are lumping you into a category to reflect on their words/actions if you behave in exactly the same way instead of taking the high road?

My annoyance here, though, is that reverse racism doesn’t ACTUALLY exist. It’s just freaking RACISM, people.

*hops off soapbox to continue studying, humming that “The more you know!” tune*

June 29, 2011   2 Comments

My favorite day of the week: Caturday

It’s official: my brain is mush.

I’ve been doing so many memory exercises, studying so much vocabulary, and recording so much of my own voice doing consecutive translations that I am no longer a real human being. I am an interpreting robot. All I’ve had a real desire to do today is listen to music, play video games, and take pictures of our cats. A reasonable and responsible use of my time, right?

In my next life (let’s ignore the fact that I don’t believe in reincarnation for now, OK?) I would like to come back as a cat, please. Thank you.

June 18, 2011   3 Comments

Let them eat cake! And cupcakes!

Being gluten and casein free gets a little complicated around holidays/special occasions… particularly birthdays. And if you’re hosting a party and have a million things to do, and you’re starting to feel old and tired (I know that saying that while still in my 20s should be forbidden — sue me!), the last thing you want is to take a full day to make some elaborate dessert that you can actually enjoy on your own birthday… right before you yell at those damn kids to get off your lawn. 😉 That is why I am, once more, grateful for Silvana Nardone’s Cooking for Isaiah. I found a couple of recipes I fell in love with: chocolate cake (to please George) and strawberry cupcakes (in true “fresita” form!). The results were absolutely delicious, so I thought I’d share the recipes. (For full size pictures, click on the images!)

First, make sure you still have some of the same all-purpose flour blend from this entry. It works for every single recipe you can think of that uses normal flour, achieving a taste that is just as good (and sometimes better!) than regular wheat flour. Next…

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting
If you overwhip the chocolate frosting, just add water, a drizzle at a time, to make it glossy and smooth again.
SERVES 12 • PREP TIME 30 minutes (plus cooling) • BAKE TIME 30 minutes

  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups water

    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease two 9-inch (22.5cm) round cake pans with cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the paper. To make the cake, in a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder and boiling water; let cool slightly. Whisk in the cold water, vanilla, oil and eggs.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just combined; divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.

    3. To make the frosting, in a large microwavable bowl, melt together the chocolate chops and water on high power, about 2 minutes; stir until smooth, and let cool to room temperature. With a handheld electric mixer, beat the chocolate mixture on medium-high speed until light and whipped, about 12 minutes. (Note: this has not worked for me either of the two times I’ve made this cake… but then, I live in Florida, so room temperature is pretty warm. I end up having to pop it in the fridge a few minutes before whipping.)

    4. Run a knife around the edges of the pans to release the layers. Invert one cake layer onto a cake plate, flat side facing up. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread about 2 cups of the whipped chocolate frosting evenly on top. Invert the remaining cake layer, rounded side up, onto the frosting. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes before slicing. (Another note: you can add sliced strawberries in that middle layer, and it will be amazing. I also had extra frosting left over, so I just piled it on the bottom of the cake plate, like a little cake skirt, and took advantage of it being strawberry season and decorated it with strawberries all around the cake. Delish!)

    5. Roll your eyes (or blush, maybe you’re a prude) as people make inappropriate noises while they enjoy this cake and exclaim how they can’t believe it’s GFCF.

    Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
    MAKES 12 cupcakes • PREP TIME 18 minutes • BAKE TIME 20 minutes

  • 1½ cups Silvana’s All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup strawberry puree (about 5 ounces/150g strawberries)
  • ½ cup rice milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops red food coloring
  • ½ cup all-vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 2¾ confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup strawberry puree (about 5 ounces/150g strawberries)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Sprinkles, for topping

    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. To make the cupcakes, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

    2. In another small bowl, combine the strawberry puree, milk, vanilla and food coloring. (Note: I used fresh strawberries and lightly pureed them in the blender. This gave the cupcakes an incredibly fresh and real strawberry flavor.)

    3. In a large bowl and using a handheld electric mixer, beat the shortening on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Alternately add the flour mixture and the strawberry mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan until each cup is two thirds full. Bake until the cupcakes are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.

    4. To make the frosting, in a large bowl and using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the shortening, confectioners’ sugar, strawberry puree and salt on medium-high speed until fluffy. Pipe or spread over the cooled cupcakes; top with sprinkles.

    I’d recommend you make two batches of the strawberry cupcakes — if you want a chance to enjoy ANY of them before they’re devoured by everyone else!

  • June 11, 2011   4 Comments

    A rose by any other name would not smell like poopy paws

    We’re those kinds of people: the people that think up non-animal names for their animals. Leo Tolstoi. Spartacus. And… Princess? Well, Princess was a fluke. When we got her and Spartacus, they had coccidia, which involved finding her back paws covered in poop five minutes after every feeding. Appetizing, right? Anyway, we started jokingly calling her “Princess Poopy Paws” because we were still debating other names (Catherine the Great, and just “Cat” for short? Cleopatra, “Cleo Cat”? Etc.) and as usually happens when you don’t want a stupid nickname to stick, it stuck.

    The first time we took them to the vet, I registered her as Princess, too embarrassed to admit the full name we’d unintentionally baptized her with. But a few weeks ago, when I was messing around with their online animal profiles (our vet is high tech!) I changed it to Princess Poopy Paws on a whim, assuming no one ever actually checks those profiles.

    Until today.

    Today I had a little voicemail symbol on my Droid after I took a shower. I just checked it, and it was priceless to hear the prim and proper vet tech say, “Hello, this is _______ from _______ Animal Hospital, just calling to follow up on Spartacus and Princess Poopy Paws (a pause here, disbelief and slight giggling creeping into the message) after last week’s appointment… so, um, if you want to give us a call, well, please do so?”

    So worth it.

    June 3, 2011   6 Comments

    Home is where the… wife feels professionally fulfilled?

    After two weeks of interpreting at conferences in Cancun, I finally flew back on a basically empty plane last Friday. (Click image for larger view.)

    I think there were maybe 20 of us on that flight, which makes me wonder how JetBlue is able to afford the fuel and the salaries on flights that open. It was just as well that there was no one around, though, I was kind of “in a mood”.

    George and Justin (our Aussie houseguest turned house-sitter who came to us via CouchSurfing) picked me up for a night on the town before heading home. I was kind of quiet and cranky on the drive to Merritt Island, and I didn’t really know what was wrong with me… until I saw the sign for exit 49, the first on 528 for Merritt Island.

    I kind of lost it when I realized we really were approaching the suburbs. After many tears, much talk, and a bit of tea and perspective, I (we?) came to a lot of realizations.

    I’m not entirely happy in the suburbs. (There’s a shocker!) While I don’t mean to be ungrateful (George is an amazing husband, we have a lovely and spacious home that allows us to have guests whenever we like, etc.), for me, quality of life outweighs material goods. Spending two weeks in Cancun near my family, in a location right in the middle of the action, with weather ever more delicious than the weather here, the food I grew up on, and a steady flow of work, I was kind of dreading coming back. My mom and I even made silly excuses for reasons why I should change my ticket — the only thing that kept me from going through with it was missing G.

    I guess I had never realized how important interpreting actually is to me. I love using all of my mental resources every second I’m live. I love that giddy feeling of knowing exactly what term to use before the speaker even says it. I love having to cram and learn new vocabulary for each event: today I am an expert in rheumatology, tomorrow I will be an expert in medical devices, and the day after, an IT expert. I get to wear all those different hats, I get to be a specialist in a field for a day. Maybe this is why actors love their craft so much. This is my craft; this is what I have consciously prepared myself for my entire adult life, and unconsciously my entire life, period. All of those different countries I lived in, all of those cultures I had to learn and understand, all of the inside jokes I had to decipher? It all makes sense, it was all worth it, if what I’m doing with my time is interpreting.

    It’s strange — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a housewife or a stay-at-home mom, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the skills I’ve acquired to teach or to translate documents from my desk at home. It’s just not, for lack of a better term, my bliss. Interpreting is.

    The conclusion we’ve reached is that there will be a lot of changes this year. And while I’m not ready to talk about the specifics and there will be a lot of work to be done to get to those changes, I think I feel a lot better being aware of exactly how I feel… and feeling supported and like it’s OK that I’m not happy being a mediocre version of myself.

    May 25, 2011   3 Comments