27 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 14: Food!

Food.  It's a topic that I could ramble on about endless and often do.  Writing about my favourite ingredients or sharing recipes with photos would be far too easy.  Instead I will write about some of the very best and very worst meals I have ever eaten.

The Good
Hands down, no question, the most incredible food I have ever glutted myself on was at Animal Restaurant in Los Angeles.  Imagine the most perfect buttermilk biscuit lovingly  with the most perfect sausage gravy with the sort of foie gras dreams are made of perched atop.  Of all the epicurean delights I have enjoyed, sublime enjoyment doesn't do it any justice whatsoever.  (Yes, I know that foie gras is cruel.  I do feel kinda guilty and unethical... until I take that first bite.   I simply cannot resist when given the opportunity to eat perfectly prepared foie gras.  Sad, but true.)

I would choose this over sex.  Always.  I think my heart rate is slightly elevated from relishing the memory of it.  If you've never eaten anything that mesmerizing you are really missing out.

The Bad
This is another easy one.  Raw (it rather has to be) jellyfish salad at a hole in the wall restaurant on the north side of the Chinatown mall in Chicago.  I cannot for the life of me recall the name of it, but I think it may have been "Spring World" or something to that effect.  The food was supposed to be rustic, from some far flung province in China and was directly across from the Chinese medicinal shop (which is the most foul smelling store I have ever entered) where I bought my teas, spicy squid jerky, and ginger in it's various forms (raw, candied, and pickled).

The salad itself was simple and composed of thinly sliced jellyfish and raw cabbage sprinkled with sesame seeds.  I don't know why I was surprised that jellyfish tasted like water flavoured Jell-o.  Obviously you cannot cook something that is between 95-98% water and what else could you expect it to taste like??  It may not have been quite as ghastly on a hot summer day, but I could not resist trying something so unusual on a cold November day.

The Ugly
Choosing which unfortunate meal to write about took longer than I expected.  Through the course of chatting with Yvonne the perfect candidate presented itself.

It was a mummy!

Okay, not literally mummy.  But it looked like one, sans rotting bandages and protective talismans.  However, it was supposed to be a whole, roasted rabbit and the guilty establishment is The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills, CA.  The description on the menu sounded divine: Rabbit roasted with olives  & an extra virgin olive oil garlic tomato sauce.  Yum!  I bet the served that sucker on a platter instead of a plate.  They did!  Sadly it looked like no rabbit I'd ever seen, dead or alive.  It was overcooked and inedible.  So I ordered another mojito and ate more bread dipped in their deservedly famous Bagna Calda (garlic cloves, oven-roasted in extra virgin olive oil & butter with a hint of

I could easily write a dozen haikus (or limeracks) to express my distaste for this sad bunny mummy, but instead I made a collage!  You're welcome.

Honorable Mentions:
Dharma Garden, the freshest and most exquisite Thai food ever created. - Chicago, IL
Hot Doug's,  Dubbed the "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium" it is overflowing with culinary magic.  You'll never thing of a sausage or hot dog the same way. - Chicago, IL
Zayna's Mediterranean,  I've been cooking and eating Middle Eastern food for over a decade; it is my comfort food.  Zayna's has the BEST falafel and walnut bakhlava I have ever eaten and their Arabic coffee is absolute perfection.  Also, they serve beer. - Tucson, AZ

Blog Challenge Day 13: Top Ten!

I love making lists!  Generally speaking I promptly forget or lose them, but I absolutely love writing them.

Today I am taking inspiration from Yvonne's Day 13 post.  However, I am not a fan of horror movies so instead my list will be simply composed of the ten movies that I love the most, regardless of era, off the top of my head and in no particular order (except for the first two, which are tied as my favourite movies EVER).

  1. Charade (1963, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn)
  2. The Thin Man (1934, starring Myrna Loy and William Powell)
  3. The Maltese Falcon (1941, starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor)
  4. The Women (1939, starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Fontaine)
  5. Bringing Up Baby (1938, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant)
  6. Grand Hotel (1932, starring Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, and Joan Crawford)
  7. You Can't Take It With You (1938, starring Jean Arthur, James Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore)
  8. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1938, starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur)
  9. His Girl Friday (1940, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell)
  10. The Big Sleep (1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall)

There are many more, but it's quite obvious that I prefer movies from the 1930s-40s.  I find the writing, acting, and directing to be was superior to most modern film (although there are contemporary films that I have enjoyed).  I consider Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, and George Cuckor to be among the very best directors of the 20th century.

Blog Challenge Day 12: Recovery

This topic was yet another one that I had difficulty determining what I wanted to write about, until it occurred to me while talking to friends about my dog Lola's current health issues.

She was recently diagnosed as having demodex mange, which I had suspected.  Of the two types of mange demodex is not contagious and is an immune system disorder.  Lola's immune system is already very poor due to multiple, severe allergies.  The demodex symptoms (hair loss, itchy and very dry patches of skin, etc.) began to manifest shortly after I had to put Fox down a month ago.  Demedex is most often caused by extreme stress; I had no idea she had been so bonded to him but she did lay around and do almost nothing the first week after he passed.  But then, so did I.  Hair loss and itchiness isn't uncommon for her when her allergies flare up, but one patch turned into two and then four.  Prednisone didn't seem to help.  So off to the vet's for a skin scrape.

Lola is already feeling better from her medicated baths (which decrease the itchiness and inflammation in addition to helping prevent infection from the open skin).  She's also receiving antibiotics and her usual allergy pills.  I'm adding more fruits, veggies, and herbal supplements to her food to help her immune system fight back.

I can say a lot about Lola, but one thing that she is through and through is a fighter.  She was on death's door when I got her from the shelter at 7 months old; emaciated, wouldn't eat, and had pneumonia.  There was a good chance she wouldn't have survived, but she did.  

Thankfully demodex is easily treated and not at all life threatening when caught at such an early stage.  Even with her poor immune system, she has the love and prayers of so many people who care about her.  I can already see how much that is helping her.  She knows and she is grateful.

24 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 11 - Confessions

I feel like I've already written about this, although perhaps it was prior to this writing challenge.  Short term memory isn't always my strong suit.

There isn't much that embarrasses me, which doesn't give me a whole lot to confess.  As anyone who knows me well or has read my blog for a while knows, I am very open about my life.  Personal relationships stay personal, but that's about it.  I attempt not to over-share, but am not always successful.

Hmm.  Okay.  Here goes my attempt at confessing things that don't bother me at all, but may bother others.  Does that count?  Hope so, because it's going to have to.

- Even if Fox hadn't gotten sick with cancer, I had no plans whatsoever to neuter him.  He didn't have papers and wasn't show dog material even if he was; he absolutely had field potential and that is what he was bred for.  Elhew through and through.  I am an extremely responsible dog owner and he had very, very few undesirable behaviors that seem to be expected of intact male.  I put the time and effort into training him, which included manners in the house, with my dogs, and with dogs in public.  His only negative trait is that he was very dominant toward males dogs (especially intact males, for obvious reasons) visiting our house and if he was challenged he would initiate a fight.  In public he had no interest in intact males or any other dogs.  He was all about meeting people and getting as much attention & love as possible.  Fox was a total love sponge.  Also, balls don't bother me.  Even when a dog has gigantic like his that probably made some human males feel unendowed.  Not my problem, dudes.

- One time I spilled some cold coffee on Gatsby's head and never bothered to clean it up.  Does this make me a terrible dog owner?  It's not like you could see it on his solid liver head anyway.

I can't really think of anything else, so this will have to suffice.

Onto Day 12's topic!

Blog Challenge Day 10: Memory

The first memory I had planned to write about was one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.  It also makes me sound like an egotistical, arrogant jerk.  In a nutshell, my first day of kindergarten I cried the whole way there.  Typical.  The teacher, who was used to this for obvious reasons, tried to calm me down by telling me all the fun stuff we'd be learning that year.  Which were all things I already knew.  This was the day I realized that many of the people around me are pretty dumb.

Hey, I sound a bit like a jerk anyway.  Oh, well.  Let's proceed to my second choice of topic.

Just over a year ago I began a running program called "Couch to 5K."  I was overweight, depressed (the dosage of meds I was on were 1/8 of what I take now, so basically they did almost nothing), and I had a dog who was going nuts because he didn't have enough opportunities to really burn off some energy.

I only followed the program for 5 or 6 weeks which was when the running times drastically increased and my asthma because a real problem.  So I began to run as much or as little as I felt like and at whatever speed didn't cause a severe asthma attack or cause pain in my left knee which isn't horrible, but isn't great either.

Admittedly there were times that I wouldn't run for a couple of months or so, then I would take it up again.  Each time I was further along stamina-wise, which was encouraging because I wasn't starting from scratch.  Last autumn I sprained my ankle and had to take 6 weeks off.  It was horribly frustrating, but I sucked it up, gained 12 pounds, and was very cranky.  Within a month of running I'd lost the weight again just in time for Foxtrot (my English pointer) to be diagnosed with terminal hemangiosarcoma.  I still ran, but only twice a week most of the time.  When I had to put him down exactly a month ago I didn't run for about two weeks.

But new running shoes, new ear buds (the sort that don't fall out of your ears), an armband for my iPhone, and Gatsby's impatience got me back out on the trails.  I was surprised at how easily I picked it back up again; I was more or less where I was a month prior.

Now Gats and I are back to running every other day which has over time become something we absolutely love doing together.

Yesterday the thought popped into my head while running that I bet I could run a 5k now!  That has been a goal of mine since I began running, when a two minutes jog had me out of breath.

The epiphany that immediately followed that was, "wait a minute, a 5k is only 3.1 miles!  I do that every other day!"  It is one of the best feelings in the world to not even realize how far you've come and then have it hit you like a ton of bricks!  I was so amazed and proud of myself.

So, who is down for running a 5k??  We can just run our own if there aren't any coming up in Tucson in the near future!  :)

23 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 9: Made With Love

Spicy PB&J Mini-quesadilla.
(Because I ran out of bread and really wanted a grilled PB&J.)

Made with: extra crunchy peanut butter, organic blackberry preserves, 
sriracha, & locally made fajita sized flour tortillas.


Blog Challenge Day 8: Honesty

Honestly I have put off writing this blog post deliberately because I'm unsure about how I want to approach the topic.

Is honestly a good thing?  Most of the time, but not always.

E.G. "Does my butt look fat in this?"  Never say "yes," even if it's true.  The correct answer is, "that really isn't your best colour" and then you suggest something more flattering.

I know I have a big booty.  I don't need confirmation.  Just tell me to wear the flowered dress that has a built-in girdle.  I like that dress.  I will probably listen to your advice.  (For once.)

Hey... I guess I did writing about honesty, albeit accidentally.  And butts.  While referencing my own.




Yes, I know I need to seriously put some time and effort into catching up on the Blog Challenge that Yvonne, Danielle, and I have embarked on.

At least I can blame a paying, freelance writing gig!  ...and Doctor Who.  (Why must you be streaming on Amazon Prime?  How wonderfully, fantastically unfair.)

I'll have a post or two by the end of the day.  Possibly more if insomnia strikes again.

Ta ta for now!

21 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 7: Shoes

Unlike Day 6, this post will be any easy one to crank out.

I don't really like shoes.

I enjoy looking at them then briefly imagining where I'd wear them and what with.

But then I walk on and don't give them another thought.

Weather permitting, I am nearly always barefoot.  Or at least I am while at home or a friend's home.

I never wear shoes around the house unless it's the dead of winter.  During that time I wear comfy and extremely warm slippers because my floors are tile with the exception of my bedroom which is wood laminate.  When it's cold, tiles feel like ice.  I don't like walking on ice, barefoot.  Obviously.

A pair of nice sandals are the only shoes I desire because I don't own any.  Other than that, my "collection" is complete. Black pumps, reddish brown pumps, dark brown pumps, navy/grey slingbacks (I wear a LOT of navy blue), tan/bronze vintage reproduction T-straps, black ballet flats, black/green oxfords, and a pair of very nice running shoes.  With the exception of my Asics running shoes, every pair of shoes I've ever owned requires a painful breaking in process, usually with bleeding blisters and skin removed.  Even with traditional bandages, liquid bandage application, moleskin, etc.

If I do move north/northeast instead of due east I'd like a particular pair of tan/brown knee high waterproof and well insulated boots by L.L. Bean.  However, I consider those a practical investment and hopefully by wearing thick socks I can avoid the usual injury to the bony, scarred back of my ankle.
Shoes hurt my feet.  Not wearing shoes does not hurt my feet.  

Shoes?  Not a big fan.  Shoe shopping is right up there with clothes shopping, but is different in that I'm mostly indifferent to shoes and clothes shopping is instead endless frustration.  That's another topic for another day.

What do Yvonne and Danielle think about shoes?
Yvonne's Day 7 post
Danielle's Day 7 post

Blog Challenge Day 6: Embarrassment

Embarrassment.  This topic is a challenging one for me; I am very open about many parts of my life and there isn't much that embarrasses me now or has embarrassed me in the past.

Hmm.  I used to drink Boone's Farm and Arbor Mist when I first began drinking, but they are basically the booze equivalent of training wheels on a bicycle or a training bra on your adolescent boobs.  They're more a right of passage than something to be properly ashamed of.

I rarely buy a jar of cookie butter from Trader Joe's because I'll eat the entire jar in less than 24 hours.  Seriously, it has the texture of peanut butter and tastes like cinnamon sugar shortbread cookies!  It's irresistible.  The same goes for root veggie chips, but those have never survived longer than 2 hours from the time I brought them home.

Wait!!  I have a good one.  Sometimes I buy hazelnut or French vanilla flavoured coffee even though I'm a sincere epicurean and total coffee snob.  Typically I will only purchase whole bean, single source, Fair Trade coffee.  I prefer East African and Indonesian coffees; Ethiopian and Sumatran are my favourites.  My coffee is stored in airtight containers, away from natural or artificial light.  Every morning I freshly grind the beans and deposit them into my French press, sometimes with added cinnamon or allspice.  I drink my coffee with unsweetened almond or coconut milk.  I do not add sugar, honey, or any other sweetener.  Yes, I'm pretty close to being a purist where coffee is concerned.

So there you have it: the deep shame of rarely buying flavoured coffee.

Does that count?

I highly recommend checking out my fellow blog challengers; they tackled this topic far better than I did.
Yvonne's Day 6 post

Dani's doubleplusgood Day 5 & 6 post

20 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 5: Biggest Fear

Yes, I've been tardy with and fallen several days behind on this blog challenge.  Which simply means that I need to make an effort to catch up and this is precisely what I am about to do.

Why have I fallen off the radar?  To be quite frank, I have been having mixed episodes for days and have not felt up to dealing with the world, even writing something that others might read seemed too overwhelming.  Mixed episodes are, in my experience, the worst part of having bipolar disorder.  For me, over the past several days, my moods have run the gamut from waking up sad and physically fatigued (far beyond feeling "sleepy"), having sparks of what seemed like utter brilliance that fizzled out just as quickly as my focus was nonexistent and motivation also vanished as quickly as it had appeared.  I between all of these were hours of depersonalization, which you can read about here.  Of the five symptoms listed, I suffer from the bottom three.

Am I simply rambling, as I so often do?  Not exactly.  My illness is at the very root of my biggest fear, which isn't my phobia of chimpanzees (and most primates) as some people who know me may expect.

My biggest fear is that I will never be able to find, let alone hold onto, the thing I want most in this world.  A husband and children.  Having a family.  Whatever my positive or exceptional qualities, they come with counterweights that may not always balance.  I feel that expecting another person to have that level of patience and the never ending desire to understand is unfair and expecting far too much.

Although my medications are beyond invaluable to managing my illness and I have made consistent progress in my life (although apparently not quickly enough for some people) that does not mean I will never have episodes.  It doesn't mean that my eccentricity with disappear (living alone for nearly a decade straight is fertile soil to grow eccentricity mental illness or no).  Sometimes I will be impossible to fathom.  It simply doesn't seem right to expect someone else to be prepared for any weather that may transpire.

With the exception of my dogs, I expect that I will always be alone.

This is my biggest fear.

For more Day 5 Blog Challenge posts click below:
Yvonne's Post
Danielle's Post for Day 5 and 6

16 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 4: Pet Peeves

I had planned to write a long and snarky list of the many things that irritate me about people.  Incompetence, ignorance, bigotry, etc.

Instead I choose to take this topic literally.  Pet peeves.

This evening I read an article detailing the results of a survey conducted by the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.  Shockingly the study indicates that younger people (between 18 and 34) do not view pets in a shelter or rescue as acceptable companions.  As some experts have interpreted, I agree that advertisements and marking showing shelter pets as sad, cowering, and sick does not help them find loving, adoptive homes.  Shelters pets have a lot to offer and honestly some of them have a lot more to offer than a puppy or kitten.  Many adult dogs and cats are housebroken/litterbox trained.  So many animals are given up or lost and never reclaimed by owners through no fault of their own.

I am absolutely NOT anti-breeder and know many responsible, conscientious breeders.  Whom all support rescue in one way or another.

The most disturbing part of this survey is that one would expect (certainly I would expect) that younger people would be more progressive.  I find this hard to stomach, but I suppose I am not wholly surprised.  I think the idea of dogs and cats from shelters give many people the idea that they are difficult and require a lot of rehabilitation to be "normal."  While this is true of some shelter animals, in my experience fostering over two dozen dogs in the past three years (nearly all of them from shelters, a small amount directly surrendered from owners) most of them have been easy peasy.  I'd take an adult dog over a puppy any day.  They are easier to train because they have a longer attention span and therefore are more focused.

One of the most common misconceptions I have encountered as the director and founder of a mostly purebred dog rescue is that an older dog (basically older than one year old) will not bond to you as strongly as a puppy will.  This is absolutely false.  I grew up having dogs and cats my entire life, most of which were acquired as puppies and kittens.  I have never  had a dog more devoted and bonded to me than Gatsby, my 8 & a half year old German shorthaired pointer, whom I adopted at the age of 6.  I met three dogs the day I chose to foster him.  He was the oldest and the least interested in me & Lola.  But I had a feeling about him and he seemed nice.  Boy was I ever right!  He is my dog soulmate.

If you find the right dog (or cat) they will bond to you strongly, whatever their age.  All of my dogs were shelters dogs; some rescued by me directly (Lemons and Foxtrot) and some rescued by other rescue groups (Lola and Gatsby).  True, some were easier than others.  Honestly the only dog I got as a puppy (Lola) was the most challenging of the four.  The older boys, even Fox who was basically semi-feral when I got him, were by far easier from day one.

The bottom line, for me, is that there are an enormous amount of dogs and cats out there looking for homes.  They are not damaged.  They are worthy to be your companion and will enrich your life if you just give them the chance.

If you would like to read the article I mentioned above, you can read it here.

Me with Gatsby.
For more Day 4 Blog Challenge posts read:

Blog Challenge Day 3: Bucket List

Yes, I am posting Day 3 on Day 4.  My excuse?  Long day, super long (but fantastic) run with Gatsby, and I fell asleep early watching season 2 of Doctor Who.

Okay, now that we have that out of the way it's time for whatever Bucket List things I can remember this morning.

In no particular order.

- Visit Istanbul (I want to go there more than any place in the world).
- Walk on a glacier.
- Walk on a volcano.
- Eat a javelina.  (Nope.  Not kidding.)
- Ride in a hot air balloon (a proper trip, not just up and then down while tethered to the ground).
- Run a 10k.
- Get married and have a child.
- Name a dog "Hemingway."
- Learn how to make crepes (instead of "craps").
- Eat fugu (poisonous Japanese pufferfish that much be prepared with great precision to remove toxic parts and avoid contaminating the meat).
- Convince everyone I know to love beets!

That's all I can think of at the moment, so it will have to do.

What are some goals on your Bucket List?

Here are Yvonne and Danielle's posts!
Day 3: Yvonne
Day 3: Dani

14 January 2014

Blog Challenge Day 2: Two

Two.  Not alone and not a crowd.

All day I have been tossing this topic around my head off and on, here and there, to and fro.

I still haven't come up with anything particularly interesting to write about.  Instead, the number two has irregularly interrupted me with "hey, here's something!" throughout the day.  Here is an incomplete list of whatever my stream of consciousness decided to spew forth.  Or at least the ones I can remember.

I'm bipolar with moods that swing between depression and mania, occasionally leveling out to something resembling a middle ground, but are more often one of those two (to a greater or lesser degree).

I have two dogs.

Two hands and two feet.  Two of several other anatomical things, but we'll stop here.

I'm torn between two sets of life choices; each with two options.  Leaning toward one and smack dab in the middle of the other two.

As a perennially single person I don't have much experience being one of two.

Currently my hair is plaited into two braids.

All in all?  I'm not entirely sure I care for the number two.  Even with dogs; I prefer to have three.

For more Two-ness check out Yvonne's Day 2 blog!

Day 2 by Danielle!

13 January 2014

The Garnet and Yvonne Blog Challenge Day 1: NEW!

My friend and fellow writer Yvonne have embarked on a 31 day blogging challenge.  Each day, a new topic.  Today's topic is "new."

"New" is not the word I would use to describe the beginning of any of the past few years.  They felt more like a continuation of the same pattern than anything resembling a glimpse of horizon or the crack of a new door.

This year is different.  It didn't dramatically click into a higher gear at midnight on the 31st, of course.  Most changes brew and steep for so long that we don't notice them until they've arrived and smack us in the face.  Of course some changes just up and smack you in the face, but that's a topic for another day.

I began 2013 with two dogs.  I spent nearly all of 2013 with three dogs.  I began 2014, again, with two dogs.  Through the third dog, Foxtrot, I built new friendships with women I may not have otherwise gotten to know.

Fox brought a lot of newness into my life from the day I met him at the airport in Las Cruces, NM.  He was also covered in diarrhea, but I digress...

Fox wasn't an "easy" dog.  He was like an adult human who was raised by wolves.  Or a adult dog  who was raised by alligators and needed to be sent back to puppy school.

At first we didn't always understand each other and became easily frustrated by one another's incomprehensible behaviour.  I've said to many people that Fox's "saving grace" was his exceptionally good temperament even when his manners bordered on barbaric.

The relationship that we shared was a very special one and for the first time in my life a dog taught me more about people than he did about dogs.

You don't have to understand someone or why they do what they do to love them.

Judging a dog harshly for doing something that doesn't make sense to you is pointless.  So is judging a person on the same grounds.

Most of the time when someone does something that bothers you or doesn't do something that you wish/think they should... it's not about you.

Sometimes I'm a hermit.  It's my way of limiting the stress in my life so that I can be healthier and as a result happier.  It isn't a personal slight.

Sometimes Fox would do something like dig a hole into the yard next door to chase a stray cat at 3am and then get too scared to come back though the hole he'd just dug and pace around whining pathetically.  At 3am.  Even though I had to climb onto my shed, over the fence, drag something next to the fence on the other side so I climb onto it and boost his lead butt back into our yard, and then climb back over the fence myself.  At 3am.

I was extremely irritated, beyond tired, and the entire situation was so frustrating I wanted to cry.

But you know what?  It wasn't about me.

Foxtrot stole my Kindle.

Check out Yvonne's Day One - "New" post here!

Hooray!  Dani, my sister in awesome rapid biopolar illness had joined the challenge!
Read her Day One - "New/Nude?" post here! 

10 January 2014

Complete Education

Yesterday I watched a superb TED Talk given by 13 year old Logan Laplante on the shortcomings of traditional education, the benefits of homeschooling/hack-schooling, the vital need to create more comprehensive, innovative methods of educating children and what he wants to be when he grows up.

The topics he spoke about really struck a nerve in me.  As someone who, although highly educated, has very little traditional schooling beyond high school (other than a handful of unfinished college degrees in a variety of disciplines), I found his words both credible and inspiring.

My education, from childhood onward, has been almost entirely auto-didactic.  I left high school after my sophomore year and earned my GED when I was 18.  Even though I scored 68 (only 40 points were required to pass), my lack of formal education has been a source of embarrassment and shame throughout most of my adult life.  Not holding a degree and having dropped out of college multiple times has given many people the impression that I'm uneducated and lack a desire to learn, even though I continue to read and study far in excess of most adults, who so often seem to think that education stops once you have a framed piece of paper.

Gradually I have become less ashamed of my lack of certification to prove that I know-what-I-know and Logan's enthusiastic pragmatism has pushed me even further along not only the path of self acceptance, but into the realm of actually being proud of my unique and unconventional education.  I didn't complete classes or earn grades due to the requirements of the public school system or pressure from college professors and my parents.  My love of learning is motivated by my insatiable curiosity and desire to understand the world around me and the wealth of knowledge that we are so fortunate to literally have at our fingertips.

You know what?  I really am proud of myself and my accomplishments.