I’m Kaity. I’m breaking all the rules by writing my ‘About Me’ page in first person point-of-view, instead of in third person. You know, because I’m such a rebel…
Anyways, what is there to say about me? I’m a twenty-something graduate of an east-coast university with a degree in theater, living outside of our nation’s capital. My (unofficial) focus was (and still is) in stage management, but I have deep-seated interests in teaching and events management, as well. Day to day, I work full-time as a teacher, stage manager, and Assistant Director of Programs for an amazing company that provides acting classes to children and teens.
As of Fall 2015, I have officially entered into a Master’s degree program, on a part-time basis! Books! Papers! Internships! Oh my!
I have always had an interest in cooking: picking up a recipe or two of my grandmothers’ during my teenaged years; baking a batch or two of cookies when I was bored. When I went away to college, especially in my junior and senior years when I lived in an apartment with a kitchen and could reasonably cook for myself, my horizons regarding cooking began to expand. When I realized I was gluten intolerant in the Fall of 2010, I was left with only one option for ‘getting back’ several of my favorite gluten-filled foods while on a college budget: cook them myself. And thus, my new life began.
My gluten-free journey is a walk in the park, compared to many others who struggled with their symptoms. For that, I am grateful. One day in late summer, before my senior year of college, I felt queasy and sick. It was the day after a 10-hour road trip, so I figured that I must have eaten too much junk food. But, in spite of returning to my normal eating habits, the lingering malaise never went away, even after we returned from our trip. In fact, it was quickly becoming a daily issue. A few weeks later, I returned to campus and tried my best to keep my discomfort from affecting my life. It was my final year in college and I was determined to squeeze every ounce of opportunity and joy out of it. I was serving on the officer’s boards for two organizations, including the chapter of the theater honor fraternity that I had helped to found. I was auditioning for shows, creating fight choreography for another, and in the early stages of prep for stage managing a second. My life was hectic and I loved it, but no matter what I did, I still felt awful. Day after day, I had constant abdominal pressure and digestive issues. I suffered from headaches and fatigue and I was not in the best of moods for most days. With my busy schedule, I started each day off with a bowl of Multi-grain Cheerios, had some kind of sandwich for lunch, and often relied on another sandwich, or pasta and salad, for my dinners. As the semester progressed, all of my symptoms intensified. The abdominal pressure became painful by mid-afternoon, each day. One day, especially, sticks out in my memory: I was in the middle of a shift at the ticket office where I worked on-campus, and grabbed a package of peanut butter crackers for a snack. After one cracker, the pain in my stomach became unbearable. Stabbing, insistent pain that left me breathless. I finished off the rest of my shift, but couldn’t eat for the rest of the day because of the pain. I think I may have cried in our student lounge. I was so fed up with feeling horrible every day. I was carrying alka-seltzer, tums, and pepto-bismal with me wherever I went and I hated it.
Around that time, I decided to start a food journal. After a few days, I had some suspicions. Lactose-intolerance runs in my family, and I occasionally reacted after a heavy dose of dairy (like a milkshake). I also thought it could be gluten. Surprisingly, our small 100-person theater department had almost half a dozen members who avoided gluten. One silent celiac, one unconfirmed by blood test who had celiac in his immediate family, and several other intolerant individuals. So I was aware of gluten being a reactionary ingredient. The moment of clarity was during Labor Day weekend, though it would take me several more weeks to piece it all together. My roommate and I woke up late on Sunday and hurried off to the pool for the last day it was open. We rushed off without eating breakfast. No cheerios for me. When we finally took a break for lunch, we went to Chipotle and I ordered my usual: a burrito bowl. No tortillas in sight. We hung out at her boyfriend’s all day, so we ate our leftover Chipotle for dinner.
All day, I felt just fine. After a few more weeks of food-journaling, I realized that I was reacting either to something in bread products, or to coffee. With my hectic schedule, I was actually hoping that my problem was the former. I went to health services, simply because I needed a more formal command to actually considering removing bread from my life. The doctor looked through my food journal and agreed with my suspicions. There was an easy way to confirm them: stop eating bread and gluten-filled products for a few weeks and see if my symptoms changed. I had the campus-equivalent of a burrito bowl for lunch (it was nowhere near as good) and waited. My usual spike of abdominal pain never came that afternoon. I was hopeful. I went home and threw away all of my food that contained gluten. I was left with stale tortilla chips, tomatoes, and three avocados. My roommates and I made guacamole for dinner and I went to bed for the first time in six weeks with just the barest hint of a rumbling stomach. Those first twenty-four hours were amazing. I felt so instantly better, in terms of my physical symptoms, that there was no way I was going back. My friends who already avoided gluten helped me to make correct food choices (warning me about things like soy sauce and twizzlers.) I also discovered food blogs. After about two weeks of avoiding gluten, I was walking across campus when I had another realization: I felt happy. Joy was a reachable emotion once again. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how the constant physical ailments had been affecting my mental state, but that moment is almost like a movie scene in my memory. Sunshine emerging from behind clouds, birds chirping, everything in sight glowing softly. I was happy again. A few set-backs with gluten-filled foods (attending a Relay For Life event, where the only food available to starving students at 3am was pizza, late-night cravings, etc) were rewarded with almost immediate discomfort and digestive issues, as well as, without fail, a particular moody day twenty-four hours later. I was convinced. Gluten and I were done. For good.
Nowadays, gluten-free eating is mostly old-hat. And though living gluten-free is a huge part of my life, this blog is not only a place for my gluten-free recipes. Covered here are my newest discoveries, my stories, favorite quotes, musings, ponderings, and perhaps a few pontifications. Food discussions occur often, but always as part of greater Life discussions. It’s just as likely to hear about my dog, the trials of a post-graduate budget, the tribulations of
living with your parents after college making rent, and any number of the tv shows/books/movies that take over my free time.
As you will soon notice, I take many pictures, but almost exclusively on my phone. With my new upgrade to an iPhone 5 from my ancient Droid, I hope the image quality has improved, at least somewhat, but the facts still remain: I (a) rarely have my camera on or near my person and (b) download the photos from it even less often. More so, now that I am working full-time and taking graduate course, I am most often taking photos of dinner…right before we eat it. The light is our apartment is not all that great, and even worse at night-time. Perhaps someday, I’ll have a light-filled house and copious daylight hours to fill with baking delicious goodies. Until then, I hope you will bear with me as I keep it real: no one’s inset-ceiling light is going to make for exceptional photos! Twenty-something life on a twenty-something budget! 🙂
Another note: ‘M’ may be mentioned often. My boyfriend is also gluten-free (and a big reason as to why I was able to recognize my own gluten sensitivity so quickly), and always reminds me when our menu plans need more vegetables.
And finally, there is Punctuation, affectionately called Punc (and unfortunately living up to that name), our Boston Terrier mix, whose escapades keep her featured on this blog far too often.