• Speaking My Mind

    Moments of Self-Doubt

    I got into a horrible fight with my mom on the last day of spring break. She had gotten back from a difficult medical seminar and she was trying to relax at home when I came downstairs from my bedroom to sit with her and my sister. It was late, around 10:30pm, and they were planning the family trip to Disney to celebrate my graduation.

    I was joking with my sister and mentioned how I was turning twenty-three this year, which prompted my mom to ask me what I am doing with my life. Assuming she was joking too, I responded that I don’t know (which is pretty true though). For some reason, this response instigated the fight, which was essentially about how I need to get a job and how I’m not doing enough and how what I’ve been doing my entire college career has been a waste of time.

  • Yummy Recipes

    How to Fuck Up Dinner: Ground Turkey and Sweet Potato Noodles

    I feel when people write about recipes, it’s primarily because they want you to try the recipe. Unfortunately, that is not the case with this recipe that I’m about to share with you all the details about.

    Please heed the warning: do not make this recipe at home!

    I was inspired to make ground turkey because one of my friends prefers it to cooking chicken. In fact, she has never made chicken because she’s afraid to handle the raw meat. I felt similarly until my mom taught me before I moved into my apartment, but anyway…

    I was sick of eating chicken all the time so I thought that I should try out ground turkey. My mom isn’t a fan of ground turkey so I’ve never really had it before, and I now understand why.

  • Poetry

    Self-Portrait at Twenty-two

    I.

    A reflection

    Of a forlorn face

    In the grimy window

    Of the bus as it creaks along.

    I try my hardest to look beyond it

    To look at the landscape as we drive along

    But the grimy windows don’t seem to permit it.

     

    II.

    The white smoke escapes my lips

    While black tar enters my lungs

    I sigh, in bliss

    My head buzzing and ears ringing

    Enjoying the silence from the cold evening

    The stillness

     

    Later, I reenter the party

    Mingle and mix with everybody

    And smile because for this one night,

    I’m not lonely

     

    Even later, there are

    Dark bedrooms and

    Faceless bodies with

    Forgettable names but

    Regrettable moments

     

    III.

    An accident.

    Blood…

    Broken bones…

    Barely breathing…

    The absence of a heartbeat.

     

    IV.

    Relief.

    In the form of a woman

    Caramel skin and dark,

    Almond-shaped eyes

    A soft smile when her lips say my name

     

    V.

    The golden sunlight-

    An unwelcome guest

    Shines through the cracks

    Of the closed blinds

    Seeping through the thin skin

    Of my eyelids

    Making itself known

     

    The sunlight illuminates the caramel skin

    Of the woman wrapped in the sheets

    Entangled in my limbs

    Breathing soundly

     

    Eventually, I succumb to its insistence

    That I arise

    I disentangle my limbs and

    I welcome the sun

    To this new day

    Stretching my arms over my body

    In salutation

    Then folding over my feet

    Bowing in respect

    And appreciation

    To be alive

     

    © 2018 Vic Romero

    All rights reserved.

  • Speaking My Mind,  unzipped lips

    Investing in Myself

    Welcome to the first official blog post on my new domain! Wow!

    I never expected to take my passion for blogging further by purchasing my own domain, but I did it! My supportive and loving girlfriend was part of the process toward believing in myself and taking that leap of faith…the Truth + Dare Podcasts have also been instrumental in me reaching this point.

    All of my posts were uploaded from my free WordPress blog yesterday, and then I played with the design, edited my “about” page, and created an email and wham! here I am! I was super excited yesterday to see it all come to fruition…to be honest though, now I’m a little nervous.

    Although I’ve mapped out some goals I have for this blog as well as some unique blog post ideas, I have no idea how to create an online presence. Yes, I’ve blogged on different platforms before but they had a social component where almost everyone else that viewed the site was also a blogger…so it was a supportive community. Now I feel like I’m on some island by myself, trying to figure out how I can get back the mainland when I have to create my own boat and/or bridge. I will probably have to get wet. By that I mean…I won’t succeed right away. I may have to do things that make me uncomfortable/nervous to reach my goals. I may even have to reevaluate my goals.

    It feels cumbersome researching methods for marketing your blog to gain an audience, considering how I’m now doubting any previous success I’ve had with blogging before. I suppose I just need to refocus the intention of this upgrade.

    Unzip These Lips’ Purpose

    I blog to express myself; to put language to my feelings and experiences and to help me take action. I want to connect with people that can relate to this struggle as well as to my experiences and feelings. I would like to create a dialogue about issues and challenges we face. A successful blog would consist of several followers that communicate with each other and with me to share ideas related to the topics I write. A successful blog would develop a community. My blog is like a personal lifestyle blog but an intimate one…which makes me unique to other blogs. So I would connect with people through the intimacy I share to help them and to help me.

    This is a very long purpose but for now, it is sufficient.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind,  unzipped lips

    Getting What You Want

    When I finished the second season of the Podcast, “Homecoming,” I played the latest episode of my other favorite Podcast called “Truth + Dare.” The Journey Junkie, who is my favorite online yoga teacher, produces it with one of her best friends. They are both currently live on a boat with their husbands, and I find them to be super inspiring.

    Anyway…it was so ironic that the first episode after their break was about Difficult Conversations because I’ve been avoiding a difficult conversation myself. The conversation I’m afraid to have is with my sister, who is a year and a half younger than me, but for some reason, I have a very small backbone when it comes to addressing issues with her. The issue I am having with her right now is how I feel like she completely ignores my girlfriend most of the time. I always give her the benefit of the doubt because 1. I don’t want to confront her and deal with whatever that entails and 2. sometimes it seems like she does acknowledge my girlfriend! But I shouldn’t be like “oh, she said hi to her this time so everything is fine” because she should be showing common courtesy every time, not just when she feels like it.

    The negative impact of avoiding a difficult conversation has been manifesting in my relationship with my girlfriend as well as in my overall mental health. My girlfriend and I have been discussing the conversation that I need to have at length, I went to therapy recently to talk about it, and it consumes my mind. I’ve been worrying in the shower that I will never be able to be my authentic self unless I move out of state, away from my family, and rarely talk with them. It’s gotten pretty ridiculous, but it was perfect timing for this podcast to be released!

    I didn’t even finish the podcast yet but one of the messages that really resonated with me was a quote that they shared from Elena Brower.

    “What you are afraid to say is the doorway to your freedom.”

    This isn’t new knowledge for me by any means, especially considering how one of my majors is Women’s and Gender Studies and this theme is critical in our discussions. Plus, this quote closely aligns with my favorite Audre Lorde essay, which is the premise of my blog!

    I suppose that being confronted with this specific message again at this time was just because I needed to hear it again. In my WGS seminar yesterday, we talked about how the different contexts for when you’re reading something affects the significance of what you’re reading. For example, if I wasn’t afraid to say anything, then the quote probably wouldn’t have resonated with me as much.

    Unfortunately, I am afraid to address my sister and therefore, I am suffering. I must talk to her though because it’s causing so much toxicity in my life that can be avoided. So I’m going to go through one of my DBT worksheets I got from a group therapy session in the summer to think this through. Perhaps this model will be helpful to y’all too.

    How to Liberate Yourself By Asking for What You Want

    (Based off of DBT handout 5)

     

    1. Describe the situation.

    2. Express your feelings about the situation.

    3. Ask for what you want.

    4. Explain positive effects of getting what you want and/or the consequences of not getting what you want.

    1. So…I will describe to my sister how I feel like she is not particularly courteous with my girlfriend.

    2. I will say that it makes me feel uncomfortable when we’re all together and by ignoring her, it hurts me because she is very important to me.

    3. I will ask my sister to be more courteous toward my girlfriend because everyone deserves that, and if she had a partner or a friend around, I would be considerate of them.

    4. Then I will explain that it would make me more comfortable hanging around with her and like I have a more cohesive identity because she takes an interested in the people that I am interested in.

    Some arguments that my sister may have may include that she doesn’t like my girlfriend, that she didn’t realize she was being rude, and/or that she is jealous that I spend more time with my girlfriend than I do with her.

    I can counter by saying that it’s okay if she doesn’t like my girlfriend (although perhaps she should consider getting to know her more before making that rash judgment), I just want her to be more respectful and courteous. If she says she didn’t realize, I will ask her to please be more conscious of it going forward, because it upsets me. If she says that she is jealous of my girlfriend and that she wants to spend more time with me, I will respond by saying that…I guess this one is the trickiest one. Perhaps I can suggest negotiating this with her more but reaffirming that it is critical that she be more courteous.

    I found this exercise to be particularly helpful! I want to ponder the last counterargument a bit more but otherwise, I feel a little more prepared.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Family and Significant Others

    How do you navigate this? By this, I mean the title of this post. Specifically when your SO is the same gender as you are.

    I worry that I’m not dealing with this appropriately…lemme explain.

    My family knows about my girlfriend and they’ve met her. She’s come to the house several times. They don’t seem to have any objections (believe me, if they did, they would make it known) but they also don’t seem particularly excited about her. I can only assume it’s because she is a woman, but honestly, who knows. Reasons I have come to this conclusion though include:

    1. They never ask me about how she is.
    2. They never ask me about how we are.
    3. They don’t get excited when she is around, whereas I would expect them to get excited if she was a guy.
    4. My sister barely acknowledges her when she’s literally next to me. Perhaps she feels shy/uncomfortable though?

    constantly worry about how they perceive her, and why they perceive her a certain way. For this reason, I tend to be hesitant to share activities we do together and anything that kids may tell their immediate families about their significant other.

    I’m stressed that either 1. they don’t take our relationship seriously and/or 2. they’re just tolerating her because they care about me, but they don’t really like her, or accept her, for whatever reason.

    I’ve been considering to bring it up with them but then I don’t want to address it because I’m afraid of instigating a dispute or an intense conversation…I just want them to more openly welcome her and to care about her because I care about her.

    Of course, I’ve discussed it with her at length because I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable or bad about anything. She says she fixated on it before but she doesn’t let it get to her anymore…unfortunately it continues to affect me because they are my family.

    If anyone has any suggestions for me in regards to how to navigate this, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate it.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Trusting the Universe

    I should do this. So should you.

    “You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

    -Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata

    I seem to frequently forget this when I’m pitying myself and inviting anyone close to me to join…but my girlfriend kindly reminded me. She wasn’t being intentional when she reminded me, she was talking about her excitement for life after college (which is the main theme of my pity parties lately), and she said something about things always working out. Which reminded me…things generally, eventually work out for me too. So I should stop throwing these pity parties. Besides, they’re not a good look.

    But yeah…the universe unfolds as it should. It didn’t forget about me. I’ve written about this before, several times. There are years of evidence that whenever I feel like my life is going to crash and burn for whatever reason, the universe tends to swoop in and keep me afloat, and I usually am able to even swim too.

    So…in regards to this “after-college-job-search,” I’m going to get a job offer! Soon! I’m going to continue to sell myself and be the best I can be and someone is going to eventually come around and love what I have to offer. I am a desirable candidate who is intelligent and who has a lot to offer!

    I will keep this in mind when I attend the job fair this week. Wish me luck!

    xx Vic

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Swallowed by the Grey

    Everything has felt so miserable.  I haven’t done anything fun because of school, which I’m not doing too well in anyway…my bestie didn’t come to visit me for Halloweekend this year and I’ve been spending most of my weekends wallowing in my room.  I can’t wait for this semester to end and to graduate, but when that happens, I’ll be going back home and I won’t be seeing my girlfriend nearly as frequently.  Our relationship will change because we’ll be in two different places, both physically and emotionally.  We only live about an hour away from each other but if I’m working full-time (at this rate, I won’t be because I stopped applying for jobs) and she’ll be at school full-time…we’ll have different, busy schedules.  I don’t think it’ll negatively impact our relationship but I’ll just miss seeing her every day and I’ll miss spending as much time together.  I also won’t be seeing my sister as much…I’ll miss being at school with her.

    My birthday is tomorrow and my sister and I may not have a voice due to laryngitis caused by allergies.  Dinner with our parents will be incredibly silent.  This happened to me last February for the first time since elementary school, and I was hoping it wouldn’t happen again but alas, it appears it will.

    I’m quite sad that tomorrow is my birthday…I am not where I want to be.  Then again, I’m never satisfied with where I’m at.  Why is that?  What will it take for me to be happy, even if I’m not “the best?”  Why make myself miserable?  How can I change the way I value my life so that I’m positive and kinder to myself?  Perhaps value societal expectations of me less?  Perhaps value academic excellence less?  Perhaps value the way I feel about myself more? How do I go about valuing myself more?

    Anyway…I went to the city on Saturday to combat all this negativity.  I went with my girlfriend because we had been talking about wanting to go for forever but for one reason or another, we haven’t been together yet.  It was pretty spontaneous because we kept going back and forth with it but then we both got train tickets and hopped on the train and we were off!

  • Speaking My Mind,  Yummy Recipes

    The Autumn Harvest

     

    I just had my first midterm this semester and I think I bombed it, which is depressing.  I had a nice lunch with my girlfriend afterward though and now I’m in my room relaxing before I pick her up to go to Trader Joe’s.  A Trader Joe’s just opened in the area and we went once already a couple of weeks ago but we’re going to go again today.  After that, I’m going to do some work around the apartment like do laundry, sanitize my room, finalize my resume and apply for some jobs, and study for my last midterm on Friday.  I’m less stressed about it but I have a ton of preparation to do still.

    Anyway…I’m considering seeing my therapist again because I’ve been feeling a little depressed.  I’ve unfortunately been taking it out on my girlfriend a lot as well as my family…but she suffers more because I’m around her more frequently than I am with my family.  It’s not fair to her and I don’t like constantly picking fights with her because I’m in a bad mood.  I’ve been doing several things to take care of myself such as yoga, cooking, and writing…perhaps I don’t need more outlets though…perhaps I need to do more professional and future plan-related development.  I’ve done a ton of that but I feel like it’s been futile so…I feel stuck.

    Anyway…let’s talk about food!

    The first dish I made with my girlfriend, and it’s pizza!  We made this over the summer, in late August.  We made several errors here…one is that we used way too much dough for the small pizza tray we had, and ended up with deep-dish style pizza.  I don’t quite remember what we put on the pizza…she did most of the work.  I was doing a puzzle but she added mushrooms, jalapenos, three or four different cheeses, pepperoni…spinach probably…onions…yeah it was intense.  The toppings were great but because she added so many of them and because there was too much dough, the toppings all fell into the center.  I think the pizza would’ve been better if we executed the dough part better.

    The next two pictures are two different adaptations of tomato sandwiches.  My family friend’s mom grows tomatoes so he brought some over and my mom decided to make tomato sandwiches to really savor the freshness of them.  Tomato sandwiches consist of toasted bread, a thin layer of mayo on both sides, fresh torn basil, and then the tomatoes! it’s super easy and it really highlights the deliciousness of the tomatoes.  The first version is with Italian bread, which is great but cuz it was so crusty, the tomatoes slipped out.  The sliced bread was better because the tomatoes stayed inside.  When I went back to my apartment, I made another variation (not pictured here) with sliced and toasted wheat bread, butter, dried basil, and then the tomatoes.  It was good but it’s definitely better with at least fresh basil.

    The other pizza photo is a grilled pizza my mom makes on the grill.  Making pizza this way has become popular but my family swears she came up with it first.  But yeah…it’s super delicious.

    The first pasta dish is penne with butternut squash from the In the Kitchen Food Network app.  I never cooked with butternut squash before so I was excited to try it, especially because I know I enjoy butternut squash.

    I had to peel and cut the butternut squash, which was kinda difficult because it’s hard like cutting a raw potato.  I won’t be making butternut squash a regular part of my diet just because the preparation takes too long.  Anyway…this dish includes the butternut squash, cremini mushrooms, black pepper, fresh garlic, red onion, red pepper flakes, parmesan, and oregano.

    My mistake here was using shitake mushrooms instead of cremini.  Shitake mushrooms, which I’ve never cooked with before, are super smelly and cooking them was incredibly unpleasant.  I feel like if I used a less stinky mushroom, such as the one they suggested, I would’ve enjoyed this dish more.  Otherwise, I loved this dish because it’s seasonal and overall, pretty simple.  I served this dish with a side of fresh tomatoes and sauteed spinach.

    I didn’t make the next plate that I pictured.  It’s actually from an organic made-to-order cafeteria on campus.  They use a ton of vegetables, lean meats, and different sauces.  One of my favorite sauces is raspberry jalapeno.  The one pictured here is papaya lime.

    The next two pictures are of an omelet I made.  I really enjoyed the flavors so I took a photo.  Plus, I’ve been making perfectly round omelets!  The omelet ingredients I chose were pepperoni (leftover from the pizza), red onions (leftover from the penne dish), and the stinky shitake mushrooms, also leftover from the penne dish.  The odor was unpleasant but it tasted delicious, especially when topped with feta which melted a bit, so good!

    Some of the next dishes were brought to you by the local farmer’s market that comes to campus!  Unfortunately, last week was the last week of the farmer’s market.  I love the farmer’s market because it entices me to try new vegetables and I like supporting local farmers.

    The first meal I made with ingredients from the market was simple and also from the app.  I got okra and sauteed it with fresh tomatoes I still had from my mom’s friend, garlic, salt and pepper, and a splash of cider vinegar.  I put it over pasta to make it a meal and damn, it was tasty.  I love okra because it’s slimy, but I don’t eat it as frequently anymore.  I will definitely have to change that because it’s easy to prepare and cook, and it’s healthy too!

    The waffle ice cream is a dessert I made with my girlfriend in the dining hall.  I just thought it looked nice.

    The next dish in the pan is white eggplant I got from the farmer’s market sauteed with fresh tomatoes.  (I had a ton of tomatoes for awhile).  I splashed some balsamic vinegar in there and it was good…white eggplant didn’t seem incredibly different to me than purple eggplant except the skin is tougher.

    There is another waffle ice cream….lol they’re soooo good!

    The dish after that is pho I prepared in the dining hall at school.  I love pho and there’s an authentic place down the street that makes it but I never go…but the dining hall does a pretty decent job.  I get chicken and chicken broth and either sweet potato noodles or some other type of noodle…and then I season it with lime wedges, fresh jalapeno, lots of bean sprouts, and whatever else they have.  I enjoy the crunch of bean sprouts and the contrasting flavors of jalapeno and lime…it’s so damn tasty.

    The next meal I made included banana peppers from the farmer’s market which I stuffed with sausage, bread crumbs, egg, parmesan, and seasonings.  I then cooked it until golden and served with homemade tomato sauce I made probably a couple of months ago.

    My mom made homemade mac and cheese and then baked it at the end…so delicious.  I shall make it myself one day but experiment with cheeses and flavors.

    The next meal is a sweet potato I seasoned with honey, olive oil, salt and pepper, cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg.  I baked it until it was soft.

    The last photos pertain to an old family classic dessert my mom makes for me, but this time I made it myself!  As you can see, my girlfriend and I have hoarded many apples from the dining hall.  The dessert I made with the apples is called apple crisp.  I made it by peeling the apples, slicing them thinly, and then seasoning them in a bowl with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.  Then I put the mixture in a glass baking pan.  Next, I made the topping which consists of brown sugar, raw oats, flour, and tons of butter.  After I mixed it up, I spread it over the apples and then put the entire thing into the oven to bake.  Then you eat it when it’s warm and serve it with ice cream!

    The next couple of things I’m going to make are from the farmer’s market too!  I am going to make a dish with celeriac and poblano peppers.  I’m also going to try making ginger tea with fresh ginger.  I’ve learned that I greatly enjoy ginger but I’ve never really had it fresh, so I’m excited to try it!

    Happy cooking!

    xx Vic