Comfort food, ch. 3: Oatmeal Turners

Ok, so I know oatmeal isn’t exciting. And I know a lot of people could careless. But let me put this out there: I freakin’ love oatmeal. Yes, I am a living on the edge wild child for the fibre treat. I love hot porridge, I love oatmeal skin products, I love the way it feels to sift through a bag of oats with my hands, and I love to fucking destroy a plate of oatmeal cookies.

The oatmeal cookie and all it’s simplistic glory calls to the Midwestern genetics in me that my mom has worked so tirelessly to destroy (but somethings can’t be helped; this love of sweat pants and trashy TV didn’t evolve on its own, Mom). They’re filling, but not too sweet, so you can eat about a million of them before you feel sick. And, you can convince yourself that since it’s oatmeal, butter, and brown sugar, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal. That makes them a breakfast food. Aw yeah. But more than that, oatmeal cookies remind me of dad’s mom, Gramma.

My Gramma Turner was known for a few things: her incredible piano skillz (she had her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and owned two black Steinway baby grand pianos and a room FULL of sheet music), her swift intelligence, her quilting talent, her art and calligraphy, buying us amazing toys and “forcing” us to do crafts (damnit I wish somone would force me to do crafts now); but she was not known for her cooking. I can’t blame her, she was born and raised in the mid-west, famous for Mayonaise and meatloaf. But these cookies. They made me say gat-damn. 

She had this recipe that just killed. I’ve never had a cookie that tastes like my Gramma’s cookies. They were basic oatmeal cookies, but they were white — which is weird. And they had this taste to them that I’ve never been able to replicate. It was like a raw cookie dough taste, rich, savory, but fully baked. It was plain, but it was haunting.

I couldn’t get enough of them. And whenever we’d visit, she’d always make a batch just for me, and keep them in a big, round, blue tin on the top of the fridge. She’d only let me have two at a time, and it drove me crazy. And I’d get in trouble when she realized I had snuck in there and eaten a handful. #worthit We have her recipe and have tried to make them a few times, but they don’t taste the same. By the time I had the interest to sit down and talk recipes with her, she was deep in the throws of dementia. And then she passed away. Whatever secret ingredient or method she had, she kept a secret.

Enter: Oatmeal Turners.

They’re a hybrid of my Gramma’s cookies, and my mom’s Exceptionally Badass Oatmeal Cookies. They’re fluffy, soft, rich, delicious little oatmeal bites, and they’re the closest cookies I’ve come to my Gramma’s. Every time I make them, it’s like a trip back in time. With one bite, I’m 7 years old, and sitting in my Gramma’s sunporch in Lexington, Kentucky, playing with our Barbie Dream House, waiting for her and my mom to go shopping so I can sneak more cookies.

So get a gallon of milk, make these cookies, and have a good time. You won’t regret it. Fun fact: I’ve also made these Vegan for my plant-friendly pals by using unbleached sugar, and swapping the eggs for Arrow Root powder + water, and the butter for canola based margarine. And they’re still good. Like they always say, getchu a cookie that can do both.

Here’s the low down:

Cast of Players

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ACT 1

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Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla and almond extract
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In a separate bowl, mix the flour, almond meal, salt, baking soda and coconut
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I wisk it all together because it makes me feel fancy
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Cream the wet stuff, 2-3 mins
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beat in eggs one at a time
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SLOWLY mix in the dry stuff (or dump it all in at once. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. It just depends on how much you like cleaning up flour bombs.) Also, scrape scrape scrape to make sure the flour mix is well incorperated.
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The best part of baking is licking cleaning the beaters.

ACT II

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mix in the oats
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realise that mixing this with a utensil is futile, and use your hands — trust me, it’s the easiest way to go about it
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et voila. This is also the stage where you add goodies like white chocolate chips and walnuts, but I opted for classic flavour this time
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using a 1/4 cup measure, make big cookie balls. I use grease paper instead of a buttered pan because it makes the bottoms come out perrrrrrfect
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bake em up! at 325*F//260*C
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I use my trusty “10 mins first” and then “3 mins more” method until they’re done

ACT III

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The trick is to leave them just slightly undercooked. It helps to retain the fluffy softness, and super rich flavours. After about 13 mins, the skewer should come out clean, but slightly damp. That’s when you know they’re done. They’ll be ridiculously soft, so be careful when taking them off the tray (as evidenced by that dented cookie on the left). As they cool, they come more durable.
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Dat bottom. The bottom should be golden brown like the top. If the cookies overbake, then they’ll become extra crunchy when they cool. Like a Nature Valley bar.
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Enjoy!
Oatmeal Turners by Kim Turner
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flower
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup shaved coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • optional: 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • optional: 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. combine butter, sugars, vanilla + almond, set aside.
  2. combine flour, almond meal, salt and baking soda, and set aside.
  3. cream together butter and white and brown sugars.
  4. add eggs one at a time.
  5. slowly mix in dry ingredients.
  6. slowly mix in oatmeal and coconut and other mix-ins (pecans, white chocolate chips)
  7. use 1/4 cup scoop to make balls of oatmeal dough deliciousness, and distribute them on baking sheets
  8. bake for 8-10 minutes at 325*F//260*C
  9. remove immediately from baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack.
Mom’s pro-tips:
  • you aren’t baking successfully unless you’ve dirtied up every measuring device you own.
  • pull the cookies out when they’re almost done. They’ll continue baking when you bring them out of the oven, and it maintains the soft texture/crispy edge harmony.
  • For every baking sheet you bake, you get one spoon full of raw dough to eat.
  • Therefore, use every baking sheet you own.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go eat the rest of these cookies, because I had an IUD fitted today and my uterus is furious with me. But more on that later.

How do you bake oatmeal cookies? Let me know!

xo

Me, too. But not really.

I want to say “me, too.” But I’ve been wrestling with it all week.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve been very fortunate that my experiences with men have mostly been harmless. I say mostly harmless because I haven’t been put in danger or physically harmed — unless you count that time my brother accidentally hit me in the head with a wrench when I was 5. But I have experienced the joys of being female on more than one occasion:

Have I earned less than a man doing the same job as me? Yes. Was I told he had more experience? Yes. Did he actually? Nope.

Have I told a patient/customer/client something, only to be rebuked, and have the same patient/customer/client become compliant after a man literally tells them the same thing I said, and when I’m annoyed by it, have I heard, “Well, sometimes they just need to hear it from a man.” Yes.

Have I gotten a job because “We had a tall redheaded woman in here before and she did the job just fine,” even though I had more than enough skills/qualification? Yes.

Have I been told “You can’t have a water cooler because there’s not a man here to change the jugs.” Yes.

Have I been told that my gynaecological health wasn’t important until I started having sex? Yes.

Was I told that I’d be used for sex the first chance a guy got? Yes.

Have I been told not to wear tops that showed my bra strap or my midriff or skirts and shorts that showed too much thigh or high heels because it’d make me a target? Yes.

Have I walked through dark parking lots clutching my keys because I just knew someone would be after me? Yes.

Did I hear “You’re on the pill? Cool, that means we can fuck without a condom.” Yes. (Did that one statement ensure we never did anything remotely close to fucking? Also yes.)

Have I assumed the primary contraceptive responsibility for my entire sex life, because I’m the one who’d get pregnant? Yes.

Have I listened to the “women can’t be president because they have PMS and therefore can’t be trusted month-to-month to make rational decisions, it’s science.” from both ass-ignorant backwater dick bags, and very educated, normally respectful and like-minded men? Yes.

Have I read articles limiting coverage for birth control, and cutting funding for Planned Parenthood with my fists balled up in rage? Yes.

Did I flirt with a guy I’d known and kinda liked for a while all night, accept a ride home from him, and let him inside to use the bathroom? Yes. Did he ask if he could crash at my place because he didn’t feel like he could drive safely? Yes. Did he insist on sleeping in the same bed? Yes. Did I state emphatically, without a question that we wouldn’t be having sex? Yes. Did he try incessantly to have sex? Yes. Did I kick him out after the third no? Yes. Did he call me a cock tease, and try to guilt me into letting him stay? Oh yes. Did he ever fully acknowledge me in public again? No. Did he ever apologise? Also no.

So I’ve been put in unfair and infuriating situations based on my sex. But I have I been physically assaulted, grabbed my strangers, catcalled, been in a position of sexual intimidation? Nope.

I’ve been molested before, but not by a guy. I was 5, maybe 6? I was at a girl’s house who was a year or two older than me, she had a Power Wheel and I wanted to ride in it. That was the only reason I was friends with her. I can’t remember her name, what she looked like, or literally any other detail about her. But I vividly remember sitting in her room in the dark and her telling me, “I’ll let you ride my Power Wheel if you kiss me.” I didn’t want to kiss her, but I wanted to ride that power wheel. But I remember very well that feeling of agony, the grip of should I? Shouldn’t I? 

I can’t remember if I kissed her or not. I do have a vague memory of hands and her really trying to kiss me. I remember my dad came to take me home not long after because I didn’t feel well. And I do remember I never got to ride the Power Wheel.

I was never pressured into sex — by a guy. When I was 13, a shocking number of girls I knew were already having sex (or at least claiming they were)And these girls were champions at putting me down because I wasn’t having sex. It wasn’t “Nah, nah, Audrey’s a virgin!” taunts while they threw tampons at me. It was more sinister. “He dumped you because Jackie puts out.” “They had sex. He said he likes her a lot more than you.” “He told me he’d like you if you had bigger boobs. Or if he could ever see yours.” It laid the foundation for years of subconscious “he won’t like me if we aren’t having sex/we aren’t having sex he doesn’t like me/only valued for my orifices.” trains of thought that plagued me for most of my adult life.

So it’s not just men who’ve put me in compromising situations. I’m luckier than most in that my compromising situations didn’t leave lasting scars – emotional or otherwise. As I see more and more people I know sharing #metoo sentiments and stories, I think, “well, me too… but not really.” And it makes me feel like it’s inappropriate to share my side — like I’m trying to milk the situation for attention. Yes, I’ve experienced the frustration, the bewilderment and the WTF-ness of it all, but I haven’t lost anything as a result.

But then, that’s not the point.

It’s not a competition.

It’s not “I’ve been through worse than you, I win.” There’s no winner in sexual abuse, intimidation, or harassment.

It’s “You’re not alone. It wasn’t OK what happened to you. And I stand with you.”

#metoo

 

 

 

 

Binding Greatness

Yesterday at work, I ran into a doctor (who, for the record, is probably my age) in our comms room, who was scratching his head, trying to figure out how to use a binding machine.

A Binding Machine.

He asked me if I knew how to bind a book, and I said yes, because I’m an English major, and part of my degree includes expertise in archaic office procedurals. I can also change the ribbon/correcting ribbion/fluid of a typewriter, use a laminator, work an adding machine, and export mailing labels from Excel to Word. Want me to organise your Rolodex? I’ll get it done in less than 2 mins. I’m a master of Shit That Is No Longer Important.

Every binding machine is different, and the fancy ones nowadays are button operated. But once you’ve worked out one, you can handle all of them. But ours is a special kind of old, like purchased when the Institute was originated in the 70’s. There’s one giant crank handle that controls both the hole punches and opening the binding comb, and you have to adjust the space between the margin of the paper and the hole punches by using a dial. So you have to punch and open the comb by holding the crank handle at varying angles. I’m no doctor, but I ran a couple test drives with a single piece of paper and ended up binding the book excellently within a couple minutes.

So, I felt pretty smug. I thought, I’m pretty happy that I grew up with book binding, projectors, film strips, VHS and chalk boards in the classroom. I’m glad I had a typewriter before I had a computer. I’m glad I had to look up books in the library using the card catalog, and that at some point I did a book report using microfiche as my primary source material. I remember when Oregon Trail was not only a thing, it was THE Thing.

I thought, I’m glad I grew up when I did, between generations, right as technology was growing up. I like that I can step back from smart devices and apps and multiline phones and computers and do some simple shit — like book binding — that saves someone heaps of stress. I thought, hey, there’s a place for everyone to be great in this world. One person can achieve greatness by contributing significant data on sleep apnea to world class research and the other person can… make sure their papers are grouped and organised in a plastic comb so it doesn’t fall out. My Doctorate in Shit That Is No Longer Important helps me achieving greatness.

I am achieving greatness.

And then I thought, “the world needs ditch diggers, too.”

jxupg0o

A temporary moment of triumph, followed by swift deflation.

And then I thought, “eh, fuck it. My work day ends at quitting time. And I don’t have work email on my phone. And I’m more than ok with that.”

So if you need me, I’ll be taking down the minutes of a meeting in short hand.

 

Aud vs. Australia: Driving to the Blue Mountains

SO. In my last post, I talked about how I confronted my fear of driving on the high ways here in Sydney by taking a professional driving lesson. I was hella scared and nervous, not because I was already scared about driving, but because on Friday, I made the mistake of telling my friend Josien about my upcoming lesson and how I planned to drive a little bit every weekend until I wasn’t scared anymore. Josien has this really irritating habit of forcing me to do things I’m afraid of and of holding me accountable for my goals, so I have to be careful what I tell her or else she’ll actually make me do it (i.e. I really should tell her everything I want to do with my life). And after I told her about my plans, without skipping a beat, she said “Ok, so where are we going on Sunday?”

Damnit, Josien.

I tried to talk my way out of it, but she wasn’t hearing it. It really was the perfect circumstances for a road trip: we’ve both been in a bit of a slump and it need of distraction, it was a long weekend, I had a car, and I needed road practice. And since Josien was my co-pilot on the very first time on the Australian roads, I figured she knew what she was getting herself in for. So, when I sat down for my lesson, I was actually twice as nervous: nervous to be there in the first place, and nervous that if this didn’t go well, tomorrow was going to be awful.

HOWEVER. My lesson was amazing. And by the end of the day Saturday, Josien and I had plans to visit the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah, about an hour and 40 mins away from Sydney. We were going to leave at 8AM, walk around the gardens, eat lunch on the porch of their restaurant, and head home. PLANS!

Well, Josien showed up and we got to work cleaning off my car. I hadn’t touched my car or even looked at it for 4 weeks when my instructor and I walked up to it. Of course, I could barely recognise the car because it was covered in bird shit and dust and pine needles and leaves, and the side mirrors were pine needles and cob webs (shudder). So I quickly brushed the needles off for my lesson, promising to give it a proper clean before our big road trip. For 20 minutes, we scrubbed the windows with Windex wipes and brushed all the debris off with a hand broom. And then, armed with a GPS and snacks, we were ready to get on the open road.

30 seconds into our drive, I knew something wasn’t right. The car sounded rough. Like there were rocks in the engine. I turned on to the main road and felt like I couldn’t get the car to speed up. And it still sounded strange. Very strange, considering it was driving perfect yesterday. At this point, about 2 minutes into our journey, it dawned on me that I might have a flat tyre (yes that’s how I spell it now). So I pulled off to the side of the road to investigate.

And oh, boy!

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Best start to a road trip!

Ah, shit. I hate flat tyres. I hate them because I know exactly how to change a flat tyre, but I’m not strong enough. It’s my T-Rex arms syndrome. And I hate that when I call roadside assistance and the guy (always a guy) shows up and I’m like, “Hi my tyre is flat,” I get that “It’s ok, little lady, let me just take care of this for ya” and he’s done in 4 minutes and I’ve paid $400 and I hate myself and pledge to work out to get Schwarzenegger arms. But also this time, I didn’t have a jack. And that’s absolutely paramount to the whole tyre changing scenario, or so I’m told.

Also it cost $400 because I had to sign up for membership + lodge emergency service because we were parked in a metro two hour zone. I thought I had signed up for roadside assistance but Joel reminded me that we said we’d get it later because “we probably won’t need it right away.” because that’s exactly how I operate in life. At this point, Karma decided to help me drive over that screw that punctured the hell out of my tyre. But, I got a bonus year of coverage for free, so it’s not all that bad.

So, around 9:45, our tyre was changed and we were ready to go. Except I was a bit defeated, feeling nervous, like this was all a bad idea, and I was ready to call it a day. I was half-heartedly trying to convince Josien that we should just go see a movie and save the road trip for another day, but then she said, “You know if you don’t go out today, you’ll never get back in your car again.” And I hated her because she was right. We had a full tank of gas, a full sized spare, and we still had heaps of day left. And so, I pushed on, against my will, by my friend who won’t let me bail on myself.

After a shakey start (I was literally shakey), we made it to the main road, then the highways, and more highways, and a wrong turn, and then more accidental highways, side winding back roads going up the mountain, and finally, we made it to our destination.

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Intrepid traveler — note the white knuckles and stress veins in my IRONG GRIP on the steering wheel. And this was after I relaxed. ha
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I DID IT!
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Waratahs, the NSW state flower. It’s a protected species, and it’s illegal to pick them if they’re growing wild.
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Josien!
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pretty
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Jurassic Garden. yes, I was thrilled.

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Most plants in Australia look like they were drawn by Dr. Seuss
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Black, like my soul
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Pretty, v.2
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I don’t have a view finder on my camera, and the sun was so bright I couldn’t make out the image on my display screen and thus I couldn’t tell what I was taking photos of. I’m so psyched this came out, in focus.

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Flower Eats Local Neuroscientist
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Pretty, v3
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“Clever Girl”

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Hello, flowers
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Hello, different flowers
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It’s like autumn (almost)

 

 

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this one reminded me of the sun

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It’s believed that this Eucalyptus tree has been around for hundreds of years, possibly before the Europeans arrived.

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We decided to take this unmarked trail
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And it was gorgeous
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And it had a very creepy, zombie proof gate at the end – odd.
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But, after we went through the zombie gate, we got to the entrance of the Lady (Nancy) Fairfax Jungle Walk. So yes, we explored the Lady Nancy Jungle. Or the jungle in Lady Nancy. Either way, it was damp and musty.
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classy
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But also reeeally pretty
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welcome to the Jungle! Gonna bring you to your sha-na-na-na-na kneeeeees

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GIANT tree stump
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GIANT nerd stump (this is me, being a tree) (totes authentic)

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These trees all grow in a circle in the jungle, no one is sure why. The tree experts are… stumped #thankyou
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mountains! You can see an itty bitty city outline in the verrrrry back. I think it’s Sydney. Joel disagrees.

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leeezard, v2

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Gorgeous view from lunch!
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Adorable vines
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Lunch!

We ate an amazing lunch (I couldn’t take pictures because I was so hungry that I immediately inhaled the thiny sliced salmon, perfectly friend potato cake with sour cream and fennel, and spring salad. I wish I were still eating it), with a gorgeous view, and made our way back to Sydney. I had pumped myself up to spend hours finding a parking spot, especially when my FAVOURITE spot was taken (the nerve of some people), but we found one in minutes that I only kinda needed to parallel park into.

All in all, what a fantastic little adventure. Josien and I used to work together, but she’s a doctor now with her own business so we don’t get to hang out 3-4 days a week anymore (once again, the nerve of some people). So it was great to spend the day with her, being huge nerds, laughing, having heart to hearts, scaring people with our show tunes, and listening to Mitch Hedburg and Eddie Izzard. I don’t remember the names of any of the new flowers I saw, but I still feel like I got a lot out of the day. I’m happy to have people like her in my life, who push me out of my sweatpants shell when they know it’s best for me.

Also, I’m still running off my driver’s high from having driven so far. Even if my ass and shoulders hurt the next day from being so stiff in the driver’s seat. But it’s such a good feeling to know that I’m not bound to public transport or someone else driving when I want to go somewhere. Feels good, man.

Onward to the next adventure!