Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Driving Miss Everyone

I've had a car in the city off and on since I first moved here.

Sometimes it was a blessing and other times a curse (parking and parking tickets).

For over a year now, I've had my dad's old Infiniti and it's helped a lot in terms of my commute to work and short trips to places like JoAnn Fabrics or Trader Joe's.

My friend P. used to drive me everywhere, anytime we went out. I owe her probably a thousdand rides to various locations and if we still talked, I would feel obliged to force this on her.

The thing about having a car is that most of my friends, if not all, don't have one. They rely strictly on public transportation to get from here to there. I can relate since I've done it in the past. It's hard to coordinate meeting times when you're depending on a train or bus. You have to add on a ton of time to walk to and from stops, or to your location. And of course, time is a huge factor, like how late will you have to leave some place and will a bus/train even be running. Most of the time I used to cab it, which was a huge waste of money.

Lately, I do everything I can not to move my car once it's parked at Boat's apartment, since I usually get a good spot right after work. It's hard to find something after 7 p.m. That and the price of gas has been steadily rising, so saving on fuel is good as well.

What I'm getting at is that sometimes I feel stingy with my car. I'll think about meeting up with people and wonder if I'll be guilted into driving everyone home (even if they aren't doing the guilting). Or I purposely won't drive so I can drink. I also factor in how much later I'm going to get home if I leave somewhere late and drop others off.

It's selfish, I know. Especially when I was so fortunate in the past with P. when she would cart my ass everywhere, no questions asked. Then again, we only lived 2 blocks away from one another, but still.

Maybe it's the guilt I put on myself for recognizing how self centered I'm being, but at the same time, I don't think I should feel obligated to be a taxi cab driver just because I'm the only one with a car.

Culinary Adventures

I can't cook.

I've gotten better at following recipes and becoming more patient with my slicing and dicing, but overall, I still have no concept of taste, spices, or just general cooking concepts.

However, I must say that I am quite proud of two extremely simple recipes that have worked well.

One is an Asian style chicken. All you need is four chicken breasts (skinless), a 1/2 cup of reduced sodium soy sauce, some ginger and garlic; combine. You wrap each breast in foil, leaving room for air to circulate, and bake it for about 15 minutes at 375 with the sauce poured over them. The chicken comes out really moist, and the marinade is much like teriyaki, but without the sugar.

The other is even easier. I pan "fried" the orange roughy last night in a tablespoon of olive oil (it was one pound of fish, two large fillets) and added the juice of a lemon and an orange and sprinkled a little black pepper. So yummy. I was shocked to see that the fish only had 80 calories and 1 gram of fat for 4 ounces. And even with a little olive oil, it was still healthy.

I've also realized that there is a desire for all of those kitchen gadgets I never thought I'd need. I'd love a meat mallet, asparagus steamer, food processor and a really nice set of pots, pans and knives. I'd like a bigger, wood cutting board too. And I'm sure there are countless other things I could think of.

In my dreams, I prepare a really lovely meal for friends an family. But then I remember I don't own a dining room table.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Miscellaneous

-Orange roughy and halibut are expensive. I had no idea how much "real" fish, besides salmon, really cost, but I was surprised by the $10 a pound price at TJ's. I really hope I cook it well and follow the directions in my Better Homes' cook book.

-We tried a Moroccan restaurant on Saturday night called Andalous. It was really good, especially since I had no idea what Moroccan food entailed. Boat had the chicken kebob, which was marinated in this great garlicky sauce. I had "The Famous Couscous", which was a huge plate of couscous served with lamb and a variety of really awesome vegetables including two my favorites: sweet potato and zucchini. Boat read that it was a healthy place, and I believe him. The portions were big enough for two (at least my dinner was) and I regret not taking home the leftovers.

-Some people are really huffy about what they perceive as theirs. I went swimming on Saturday afternoon and since the pool was semi-crowded, I had to get into a lane with someone else. I waited for the woman to go down the length of the pool before I started my lap. On my way back, she was standing right in the middle. I stopped and she asked if I minded picking a side (in a rather rude tone of voice). I said "not at all, I'll just say on this side", to which she replied, "will you take this side?". I don't know why she offered to let me choose when she wanted me on the other side, but I was annoyed. People, learn to share. This is a community pool that we all pay for and it doesn't matter if you got there first.

-Shopping when you're saving money is sort of boring, but I did have fun looking at things and seeing what my friend bought yesterday as we perused the stores near Clark and Belmont. I found myself turning down the idea of spending $13 on a skirt knowing it would probably fall apart and not trying on a different skirt I know Target is selling for cheaper.

-An old friend from high school is having a Super Bowl party with his roommates this Sunday. I think I'll be in attendance, though this time I'm prepared and am taking the following Monday off. Drinking before 5 in any situation usually means the next day isn't going to be too fun. Not to say that I'm planning on getting drunk off my ass, but it's been known to happen, especially at this event, which I haven't been to in almost 3 years.

-I haven't been drinking nearly as much as I was a couple of years ago, so it seemed to go hand in hand with my diet. Except now all of the sudden I've been going out a bit more and presented with the problem of whether or not to drink and how much. Unfortunately, everything I consume now automatically goes through this process in my head where I try to calculate the nutritional value and I just can't justify drinking 500+ calories. Do you know how hard it is not to drink at a bar? It just doesn't feel right to not have at least one beer. The other problem is that I have particle's eliminated caffeine from my diet, so not having the Diet Coke option makes things difficult as well.

-I've gotten excited about knitting again. I finished a hat in about 24 hours and knit in the round for the first time. The yarn wasn't right, so the hat was way too big, but I was still proud of myself. I feel bad that I've put Boat's Harry Potter scarf to the side momentarily, but learning something new has put a breath of fresh air back into things.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Adult Relationships with Women

I've come to realize that anyone whoever promised things would change socially once I was out of high school, and that none of the popularity and pageantry would matter after the age of 25, was totally right.

Thank god.

Take Boat's sister, for example. Here's one girl who would have never been my friend or in the same social stratosphere as me. She's a former cheerleader and Homecoming courter and just plain pretty. Of course, I AM her little brother's girlfriend, but I detect nothing but sincerity when we talk or from the numerous thank-you cards she's sent for gifts she's received from us. It's weird to think that even if I had been Boat's girlfriend ten years ago, this scenario would probably have been slightly different.

Another example is a rep. who comes to visit us on occasion. She is about my age, dresses stylishly, and has that bubbly personality of someone who probably hung out with the cool kids in school. But she is sweet as pie and just called to give me her phone number because we're both going to see my co-worker's play tomorrow and since I mentioned Boat would probably not be joining me, wanted to make sure I had someone to meet up with there. As she put it, there's nothing worse than showing up by yourself and feeling the awkwardness that still comes along with that situation.

In general, it's interesting meeting women my age nowadays and figuring out if we would have been friends in our teenage years.

Most of the time that answer is "no".

Seven Drinks and Zero Chicken Wings Later

OK, so I survived the bar last night and only had one piece of celery. I think eating dinner beforehand did the trick, though watching my cousin eat chicken wings hurt my soul a tiny bit.

However, I didn't short myself on the drinking (which may sound ass backwards since we all know alcohol has calories, but shit, it wasn't a cheeseburger, OK?).

Anyway, I had two new beverages, one was a "Dreamsicle", whipped up by the owner himself. It was his birthday gift to my cousin and her friends. It tasted AWESOME. Then again, what drink with half and half wouldn't taste cream-ily good? The second was a shot called "chocolate cake" which was just Absolute Citron and Kahlua (I think?). Anyway, they tasted really good, so I had two. Oh, and 4 Miller Lite's.

Needless to say, I'm not feeling all that great this morning, but it's nothing a couple of Bayer and a lot of water can't fix.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Binge of 2006

The true binge of 2006 already happened on New Year's day when my mom cooked up a feast. But since then, I have begged off such indulgences.

However, I'm well on my way to being Alfred Molina's character in "Chocolate". Remember when he climbs into the shop's window to destroy all of the lovely chocolate statues and ends up binging on them to the point that he passes out?

That's going to be me.

Except instead of chocolate (which I like, but don't LOVE), it's going to be chicken wings, fried ravioli, french fries, potato skins, and any other bar food you can think of.

That or I'm going to drive thru a McDonald's window, order a double quarterpounder with cheese, and never look back, much like I did six weeks into cutting red meat from my diet freshman year in college.

I am just MEANT to blow any diet-like progress, even when the results are somewhat satisfying. Even when I went so far as to rejoin the gym, something I wasn't 100% sure about. Even when I've been so "good".

Because even with the best intentions, I am SO awesome with the "fuck it!" attitude.

I can whip myself into a "you only live once, why would I want to spend the rest of my life eating like a rabbit when we all know I'm never going to have a body like Gisele" frame of mind with ease. I mean, really, is it worth giving up on rocky road ice cream, chocolate glazed donuts, chicken enchiladas suizas, and white bread for a couple of seasons in a two-piece bathing suit...while moving to a city that doesn't even have a beach? Seriously people, is it?

Oh the glory that comes with that first satisfying bite into a bacon cheeseburger or Nacho Bellgrande. And even better, knowing that the dieting is over for good, you give up!, you fail!, whatever! you are FREE... FREE AS A PREGNANT COW!

Lap Swimmer Part II

So I went to the gym for the second night in a row of swimming.

Unfortunately, there were many people this time, and I had to share a small lane with two other people.

I thought I was fast enough to be in the "medium" lane, but I was wrong.

I kicked my own ass for about 20 laps just to get out of the way, and then moved over to the slow lane when someone left. The guy in THAT lane was STILL going faster than me, but thankfully, he left after awhile.

Needless to say, all of that bullshit abut not being sore was a total lie. My arms are definitely feeling it today.

Luckily, I'm taking a break for a few days.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Lap Swimmer

Last night was my first attempt at getting my swim on.

My first mistake was getting there too early (lap swim didn't start until 8:05 p.m. and I walked in around 7:50). So I sort of got into my bathing suit VERY SLOWLY and pretended to put my hair into my cap.

My second mistake was not even knowing how to get into the pool. So after walking around the locker room and ending up in the same place I started, I finally asked someone, who was very helpful.

Walking out to the pool, the life guard was getting the lane thingies in place, so I awkwardly stood waiting, striped bath towel wrapped around my waist, hair in cap and goggles in hand.

I was the only one there, which was nice, though I kind of felt like the life guard was silently wishing I'd drown so he could drag me out and leave for the night.

I swam over 45 laps (a tiny bit more than a mile) and felt energized while going home. But then felt like I was going to pass out around 10 p.m.

The great thing about swimming is that you don't feel sore the next day, or ever really.

I'm not sure if their scale is weird, but it seems I've lost another 2 pounds in a week and a half. Go me!

Now if only I can keep my cool tomorrow at the bar and at Ruth's Chris on Friday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baby Steps

Last night, Boat and I bought plane tickets to NYC for May, so we can find an apartment.

It was the first "big" step towards our move, besides opening the savings account.

More and more it's becoming a reality, even though nothing is carved in stone.

I like that we have a plan, and a back up plan, and a back up to the back up plan.

I'd much rather succeed.

For most of my life, I've landed on my feet. Sure, my parents were there to keep me up sometimes, but overall, I haven't failed when it's come to all of the small life decisions I've made up to this point.

Strange to think we'll be going back to find a place to live almost one year to the day after we visited.

This is probably one of the biggest things I've planned on doing in my life and am actually trying to follow thru on.

I'm scared. But I can't wait.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

1) Bulls losing in overtime by 1 point, but defeating the Pacers on Saturday
2) Driving in the snow to Gunther Murphy's
3) Attempting to help Boat's roommate adopt a kitten, but no luck
4) BeBoBa
5) Tacos al pastor
6) Irazu closed! No oatmeal shakes! =(
7) Getting gyped on my scoop of ice cream from BR
8) Broken Flowers
9) Ed's Potsticker House FEAST
10) Trader Joe madness ("this looks like the New Year's crowd!)
11) Matisse (4 sangrias, hummus and spinach and artichoke dip: $10.59)
12) Million Dollar Baby
13) Sleeping alone =(; Boat at a conference overnight

Friday, January 20, 2006

Typical Tidbits

-Invasion is getting really good.
-I don't know what to make for dinner tonight.
-Go Bulls!
-I haven't felt any post-holiday let down. Yet.
-I like "Make Love" by Daft Punk.
-I hate banana breath.
-I think our cat is lonely.
-I keep saying it's February.
-Everyone in our office is getting 19" flat screen monitors!
-My allergies have been annoying lately.
-Does purple look better with black or gray?
-Can I eat my oatmeal now?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Age Is Just A Number

I enjoyed dinner with my girl friends last night.

Sometimes it's weird to me how conversations have changed over the years. Our topics ranged from someone's husband going out of town, to another moving in with her boyfriend, to someone experiencing their first 9-5 job and another still figuring things out on the edge of turning 35.

We are growing up and that's strange to me. It's a transition that makes age 26 seem so far away from age 23.

I don't know exactly when it all happenend, but suddenly I am very interested in my credit score and my health insurance coverage. I've been sitting around waiting for my W-2's to file my taxes and even decided out of the blue to go to the dentist a couple of weeks ago.

I get my oil changed every three months. I pay my bills on time. I get my prescriptions filled.

I'm annoyed by traffic. I listen to news radio on my way into work. I don't understand teenagers.

I knit. I read (well, sometime). I'm in bed by 10:30.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm squandering away my "youth" too early. Maybe I should be partying like it's 1999 until I really am to old to drink until 3 a.m. and still have enough energy to eat breakfast at Hollywood Grill.

But then I realize that even with all of this adult responsibility, I'm pretty happy, pretty content with life. To be honest: I don't miss the hangovers and the unexplainable loss of $100 in one night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where'd You Get That?

There are two girls I know who dress much like I WISH I could dress, but don't have the fashion know how.

One of them is my friend E. who always looks put together, no matter what she's wearing. Her work attire is very classic, but not boring, and she even looks cute in a hoodie and jeans.

The other is a girl I work with, C. She finds the cutest pieces at the cheapest stores (ex. the last two days I've asked her "where did you get that?" and she replied "Target" and "Payless). She matches her colors really well and never looks sloppy.

Both of these girls can get away with no make up and their hair pulled back. All of their clothes fit well too, which is really important.

I wish I had their eye for style.

On The Brink

I'm sorry about all of the posts on food, but this "diet" is driving me nuts and has been on my mind. Feel free to wait until I have something slightly more interesting to talk about.

For the THIRD day in a row, I will be offered free pizza. Monday was Pompeii, Tuesday was Dominoes and today is Giordano's. I could have also eaten free cake, in celebration of MLK Jr.'s birthday.

This is most untimely, seeing as it, I have my period and my hunger is raised several notches.

It's sad that I feel really guilty for eating one mini bag of Smart Pop butter popcorn and two organic granola bars in a fit of frustration yesterday.

Tonight I'm going out to dinner with some girl friends and again on Sunday to a Chinese restaurant I've heard great things about in Bridgeport. Next week I'm meeting my cousin and her friends at Yak-Zies for her birthday, where everyone will be chowing on buffalo wings and fried ravioli. AND, we're being taken out to lunch during work to Ruth's Chris, who has divine lobster bisque and steaks cooked in BUTTER.

OK, so boo hoo me, right? Cry me a fucking river, yes?

Well let me just tell you that this is hard. And no, I don't want a pat on the back or words of encouragement, I just want to vent about it.

It's true, I have a very small amount of willpower. And in extremely controlled environments, ones in which my bananas are ripe enough to actually eat during the week (mine have been GREEN since SUNDAY) and I don't do stupid things like substituting them with honey wheat pretzels or wheat toast and organic strawberry preserves, I do pretty well.

I've switched from white rice to brown. I try to eat a fruit and vegetable everyday. I steam my broccoli and green beans, adding only a pinch of salt for flavor. I broil my salmon. I bake my chicken. I don't drink alcohol (well, very infrequently), soda or coffee. And I've made a commitment with Boat to try and have only one meal out during the weekend.

Yet I still feel like I'm failing, sliding down the slippery slope, and I keep running into things like donuts, pizza and cake.

It's getting really fucking hard to gracefully say between clenched teeth "no thank you".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's Back

The Bachelor, that is.

Yes, I'm fully wrapped up in the new saga happening in Paris with Dr. Travis Stork.

Am I proud? No. Can it be helped? Not really.

I don't know what it is about this year, but I've come to realize that these women end up becoming their most pathetic selves on this show. And I'm convinced that most of us would given the situation.

Here they are, battling it out with a dozen other beautiful girls, trying to stick out somehow, trying to get this one guy's attention, just so he'll give her a damn rose and she's not sent back to the U.S of A.

There is this horribly desperate feeling that hangs in the air whenever the word "rose" is mentioned. Or worse, they let their thoughts wander into the "he's going to be with other women" territory and then the reality of dating someone who is potentially dating a dozen others kicks in. And oh, what a terrible reality that is.

Jealous much? Insecurity issues? Competition ready?

I see in their eyes as they look at him "Please tell me that you LIKE me, that I'M the one, that you're going to keep me around...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...don't send me away!".

Maybe you wonder why they shed tears as they're sent packing. Well first of all, who wants to leave the south of France? Second of all, who wants to be rejected on national TV? Third, who wants to see the smiling satisfaction of those who get to stay, especially that one bitch you can't stand? And finally, who likes losing?

The sad thing is, sure, Dr. Travis Stork is one good looking man, and shit, he's a doctor. But just like every other man, without true compatibility (and I don't mean having everything in common or voting for the same party), he's probably not the right guy for a lot of these women.

I'd want to fall in love with the dude too, but it's amazing how much can change in three months.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Yes, But Will I Go?

I'm thinking about re-joining the YMCA.

There's no initiation fee and no contact.

It's $44 a month. Plus, I probably wouldn't drive there since parking is kind of hard, so taking public transportation will cost me $2 roundtrip, potentially $24 a month.

I've been wanting to start swimming again and maybe, and I stress MAYBE, start working out/lifting again.

But I'm afraid this is just a half-assed attempt to get into shape and that I really won't go to the pool three times a week like I'd hope to.

Plus, I've been doing my damndest to cut expenses and save money this month and adding this additional cost doesn't really help with that.

So, do I do it?

But He's Really Good To Me...When No One Is Looking

I bowled in a mixed doubles tournament yesterday and had a good time.

I had two different partners, and the guy I paired up with for the second round did well. I think we ended up in 7th place and may even win some money.

There were several people from our league that showed up, including a guy I can't stand. I'll call him Stan.

Strangely, or horribly, enough, Stan actually went out with mom back in high school, but my uncle told him he had better stay away from her, and he never called her again, much to her dismay.

Anyway, Stan is one of those loud mouth jerks who wants all of the attention he can muster, spouting off about this, that or the other. He runs a raffle during our bowling league and gets on a microphone, which annoys the living hell out of me.

His fiance, a soon to be second (third?) marriage, is to someone we often refer to as "Scary Shari". For someone her age (I assume mid, late thirties), she wears clothes made for someone younger than me, had a breast augmentation and fake bakes. She also comes off a bit ditzy.

One year, I drunkenly got stuck at the bowling alley and they were the only two people there and offered me a ride home. Stan, drunk off his ass, insisted that he would drive. Shari tried her best to talk him out of it, and eventually won.

I realize now that she is actually a really nice person, and I shouldn't call her names. I also see that Stan is a huge ass to her, blaming her for all sorts of things and dominating every situation.

I wonder if he's nicer to her behind closed doors and wonder if that's the reason she stays with him. There's a part of me that would like to go up to her and ask why she'd want to be with someone like Stan.

But then I remember that it's none of my damn business.

The Pick-Up Artist

Last night, Fox News featured some dude who wrote a book called "The Game". It's supposedly some manual on how to pick up women.

I tried to remember any specific pick-up lines guys have used on me and the only thing I recall is how much I hated being approached that way. I realize that this is the only way to really meet strangers in public places and coming from someone who bemoaned being single for a good twelve years, I should have liked this sort of thing.

There is one particular night I remember when I went out with my friend from high school and her two pretty sister, she herself, very attractive. We were actually out celebrating her recent engagement.

A guy sauntered up to our table, and while I don't know what his opening lines were, he turned to me at one point and said "so, you're the funny one, huh?". And he was right, of course, but who wants to be the funny one? I wanted to be the PRETTY one or the HOT one, not the comic relief. Eventually I decided to take off and he said point blank "Bittersweet, why are you always the first one to leave?".

He was dead on, of course, it was true, I was always the one to leave first. For one moment I thought this guy might have really seen right through me. But then I embarrassingly realized that this was probably his response to anyone who ever left early.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hodge Podge

-I attempted to make a chili/soup hybrid last night. We'll see how it turns out. I've let it sit overnight in the fridge, so I'm hoping all of the marinating will turn out something good. You'd think chili would be an easy thing to make, considering it doesn't take that many ingredients, but this second attempt at making it from scratch is only going OK right now. At least the corn muffins will be awesome.

-Boat is happy that I have the night off from bowling. I'm not sure what else we'll be doing besides partaking in the chili feast, but it will be nice to spend this Friday night with him.

-Tomorrow I'm headed out to the burbs to hang out with Mom (and get an oil change) before her and Dad go to some fancy schmancy dinner. Or maybe that's next week and this weekend is something different. Anyway, it was fun consulting with her over the dress, shoes and jewelery she picked out. I'm looking forward to going out there and spending time with her.

-Sunday I'm bowling in a mixed doubles tournament, in two heats. Unfortunately, the Bears game falls smack dab in the middle of it, so I think I'll probably miss most of it. I'm hoping to win some money so I have a little spending cash next month in Mexico.

-I do not get Monday off for MLK JR. Day. Kinda sucks.

-Wednesday is the tentative date for Girls' Dinner again, which I'm really looking forward to. A restaurant hasn't been decided, but I'm up for just about anything. And the fact that everyone is down for budget/BYOB meals is even better.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Something About Mary

Mary, wherever you are, I'm sorry to see that your blog no longer is.

I enjoyed reading and hope all is well.

Funny, I was just about to leave a comment proposing we do some mix CD/album swapping since I think we could both recommend something good to the other.

Best of luck.

Sincerely,
Bittersweet

The Chicken Or The Egg

About six or seven years ago, I was hanging out at my apartment on Addison with a couple of friends. We smoked up and got extremely high, to the point we were laying around on a big circular rug in my dining room talking nonsense and laughing hysterically.

I posed the question: which is worse, a runny nose or a sore throat? Seriously, both had their serious downfalls, but which was actually WORSE? I drew comparisons of each to the glee of my friends, who laughed so hard, they cried. To this day, I still wonder which is worse.

Along those same lines, I often find myself either extremely bored or extremely busy/stressed out at various points of the day or week.

I can't quite decide which is more unbearable. Sure, I love having nothing to do. I mean, internet browsing is fun, so is getting up and walking around whenever I feel like it, or taking longer than an hour for lunch. It's also nice not to have something hanging over my head, some project that has to be done by a certain time. I love not having to answer many email inquiries or calling people back.

On the other hand, time ticks so slowly, I swear two minutes is actually one. I get restless and then start thinking about food because I love to eat when I'm bored.

Being busy makes the time fly by. I feel productive and useful; accomplished.

I wish things were more balanced out. A more even mix of not quite bored and not so busy would do my body and mind good.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Tiny Details

Since committing to saving a certain amount of money per month, I've had to take a good hard look at my finances.

It's amazing what setting a true budget can do, and all of the little things you pay for here and there that you sometimes forget to factor in.

Things that I've budgeted for, but keep forgetting about:

-Gasoline
-Dry cleaning (not often, but an expense)
-Stamps (not all of my bills are electronic, and neither is sending thank-you cards)
-Upcoming birthdays (my brother's and my cousin's)
-Valentine's Day (we agreed to spend a limited amount)

And so on and so forth.

It seems even when I've cut out most of everything: eating out, drinking, taking cabs, there are still so many things to account for.

I know this may sounds completely ridiculous to you, like "how did you NOT figure all of this out before?". But honestly, this is the first time I've kept track of my spending under such scrutiny.

It's insane.

Not a No Person

Confession: I ate a fun-sized Snickers yesterday. Yes I did. Was it good? Yeah, it was pretty good. Do I feel bad? Kind of, but I skipped out on my granola bar, which actually had twice the calories, so it sort of balanced out.

Between eating that small candy bar and this morning, 9:30 a.m., I have been given a large french fry AND a donut.

I was able to refuse both, but god, did I want to cave.

It's as if the world is working against me, I swear.

I wish I could just look at food as some nutritional life sustaining substance that doesn't even need to taste good.

But that doesn't sound fun, now does it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

One of THOSE People

I always imagined I could be one of those people who sat in coffehouses all day drinking lattes and working on the New York Times crossword, or reading poetry and arthouse publications.

Or I wanted to be Hugh Grant's character in "About A Boy", a guy living off the royatlies from his dad's holiday jingle, spending his day in increments of time, getting his hair done, shooting pool and buying music

But I quickly learned, having a day off, or a string of days off, results in the spending of money. Because any attempt at leaving the house ALWAYS ends up with a little less in the ol' pocketbook.

Outside of the "I'm going to sit in my pajamas till three and watch all of the shitty t.v. I can til my eyeballs fall out or I get hungry or feel the itch to shower and then I'm going to order take-out and watch a movie and fall asleep at 9" type of day off, a planned day away from work usually starts with some sort of small outing.

A breakfast alone, a manicure, an "errand" to Ulta or Border's or TJ Maxx.

Even mindless walking around the neighborhood will ultimately lead to the purchase of a warm beverage or small meal. At worst, it ends in a full on shopping spree, flush with new underwear and shoes.

What I'm trying to say is that I could never be an entertained, happy unemployed person because without the fruits of labor, I'd be bored stiff.

...And The repercussions

Outside my door, within eyeshot, the fun-sized bag of Snickers still sits.

Still. Sits.

I've done a good job of staying away, not lingering by it, touching the bag, opening it to count how many are left.

The taste, though, sits on my tongue, and I feel the saliva in the back of my mouth build.

I think of all the bad things eating JUST ONE might do, like add a measly 80 calories to the day, or 8.5 grams of sugar.

Or the bigger things, like if I eat this fun sized Snickers, won't it throw me for a giant loop from here on out? Won't my body want a fun sized Snickers EVERYDAY, at 12:05 p.m.? Won't every other temptation seem less threatening, less evil? Won't it be easier to give in to all of the things I have done such a good job of avoiding?

I squeeze my eyes shut and try to imagine the beach, the bathing suit, the reflection of my naked body in the mirror. I try to repeat the mantra "I know what a fun sized Snickers tastes like. I can make it till lunch".

I block out the thoughts I had in the shower this morning when I realized no amount of dietary changes would get me the body I want by the end of next month. That without exercise, only so much progress can be made, and I haven't made any sort of commitment to joining a gym or running around the block.

Or the thoughts about how if I really want to stay away from the things that might cause a backslide, I will NEVER BE ABLE TO EAT ANOTHER FUN SIZED SNICKERS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE AND WHAT KIND OF LIFE IS THAT WHEN YOU CAN'T ENJOY IN THE SIMPLE PLEASURE OF MILK CHOCOLATE, CARAMEL AND PEANUTS?!?!

Focus on your sorry-ass All American "flame grilled" Boca burger with 2% cheese on a whole wheat bun and cup of skim milk.

Focus.

A Passage Of Time

For many of us, years aren't necessarily remembered by an event or specific memory, but by music.

A song, an album, a band. These things put a placemarker for a moment in time.

So it's funny and kind of strange when a particular band comes out with a new album and signifies a new year, a new time that will be looked back upon.

It's an indication that things DO move on, if not forward, in a direction of change and beginnings.

You'll always be able to put in that old record and reminisce, even feel something from the past.

But it's evolved.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I Cannot Change The Past

The other night I sat and waited for someone to look at my apartment.

He never showed.

To keep myself busy, I found an old shoe box I declared "my first year in Chicago", and rifled through old cards, letters, and memorabilia that supposedly represented 1999-2000.

In it, I found some funny things, the pamphets from the Ralph Nader convention, my old GAP Employee tag, an invitation to a Millenium New Year's Eve party.

But the things that stood out most was the overwhelming correspondence from my old best friend, letters and notes, postcards and just because cards. A package came with a small hankerchief with hand sewn embroidery. She said she wasn't sure what I could do with it, but maybe pass it down as an heirloom. It also came with a large stack of neatly written poetry, a sort of theraputic release about the break up with her long time boyfriend. Once she asked me for it back, embarrassed by it's raw emotion and possible overly dramatic sentiment. But I refused.

I felt ashamed for everything that has happened in my life, she's always been there, even in the background, even when she didn't want me in her life anymore, to be a friend.

And now I can't get that back. I don't know how. And worst of all, I can't promise that I wouldn't let it get to this point again.

Ironically, the real slap in the face was the recent add on MySpace of my old friend and roommate, M, who is in the Republic of Georgia serving three years in the Peace Corps. I have yet to mail her ONE letter in the almost two years she's been gone. She writes in her MySpace page briefly about losing touch with friends, both sides to blame. And I'm not trying to flatter myself by saying I know I'm one of these people. The truth is, I am. I know in my heart M. probably wonders why I haven't done a better job of keeping in touch. She's a sensitive soul and I'm sure she's probably pretty pissed. I've let her down.

I know I can't make up for everything.

But I'm making a promise to send out this package. And to try and write as much as I can, as often as I can.

Because I don't want to lose her too.

Who's Wearing The Pants?

I had a hankering for Indian food, so Boat agreed we could go anywhere, my choice, to end my craving.

After reading about it on LTH Forum, I chose Khan's BBQ, a sort of hole in the wall joint on Devon near Oakley.

I didn't know if we should seat ourselves, so I went up to the counter and grabbed a menu. We decided what we wanted and I told the guy we'd be dining in. "Sit down" he told me with deadpan expression.

We selected a booth by the window and he came over to take our order. I ordered for us since I had basically chosen everything.

Throughout the meal, I could tell the waiter was trying to direct things to Boat, as if he were supposed to be in charge and at the end, came right up to him to tell what the bill was.

I found the whole thing kind of funny. I've never really been about chivalry, especially now that I've been dating the same person for over a year now.

We split the bill, but I handed the money to Boat and he went up take care of it.

Sidenote: the food was a great value at Khan's. For $25 (that's with tip), we had: naan, garlic naan, white rice, chana masala, chicken boti and frontier beef. And we had enough to both eat lunch the next day. I'd definitely recommend it for the food...but not the atmosphere.

"True" Life

I watched a lot of t.v. this weekend. Probably too much.

One of the shows I caught was MTV's "True Life", the reality-ish docu-drama with titles like "I'm in Huge Debt" or "I Want The Perfect Body".

Last night I saw "I'm Moving to New York" where they profiled four people moving to the Big Apple.

Besides the 20 year old kid from Wisconsin trying to become a "top model" and the 22-year old spoiled brat from St. Louis who walked out of a boutique saying "I just bought two things for $600. Is that retarded? I really, really like them though, like LOVE them", there were two friends, a girl and a guy, both gay from Ohio, who saved up some money, packed up their stuff and managed to get an apartment in Bushwick Brooklyn. They found low paying jobs and were able to make rent and had been living there for five months, saving more and more.

I know it's MTV and should not actually be inspiring me to do anything, but it did get me excited about our move and made me believe we might actually be able to pull this off, even though neither of us have jobs or a place to live.

If a bunch of 20-22 year olds can do it, I, at the soon to be age of 27, should be able to manage.

Shit, 27...

Friday, January 06, 2006

What the Bleep DO We Know?

Last night I curled up in bed, turned on the warming mattress, plugged in the headphones and watched What The Bleep Do We Know?!?.

It was great.

OK, some of the scenes with Marlee Matlin were a little weird and shot in a way that made it seem like either a B movie or a made for TV type thing.

But the rest of it was really interesting. Maybe it's nothing new. I don't claim to understand quantum physics by any means, but it's sort of a philosophy AND a science, which I like about it.

I'm not going to be able to explain this very well, or in the way I want to, which is to inspire you to think about some of the things these doctors, psychiatrists and physicists talk about. But I'll try.

Here are some things I took away from it:

1) I've always thought about perspective, how each of us as individuals experience the same thing differently, because how we see, through our senses, is actually totally unique. Sure, we all see with our eyes, hear with our ears, etc., but an example I've used before is if I asked you to bring me something blue, it would probably be a different shade of blue than someone else might bring me. Neither of you would be wrong, just different. Why do we all love different music or find beauty in certain art? The movie touches on how the eyes see something and imprint it on the brain and the reinforcement is what we believe to be true. They even went so far as to say that when Columbus came over on his ships, the Native Americans couldn't see them because they had never set eyes on anything like them before, let alone thought of them in their imagination. They were so out of this world, they couldn't be seen. Perhaps there are things we don't "see" because we've never seen them before.

2) The other part that I've been thinking about a lot has to do with control and enlightenment. The control part comes into play when we think about our emotions, why we react the way we do, how are response systems are built. We see certain things and they provoke a feeling...OK, that's pretty basic. Going beyond Pavlov's dog, which is about conditioning, some of the folks in the movie go further to say that the neurons actually create these bridges that become reinforced, and that other responses you COULD have, disappear because they aren't created. This is the reason we react the way we do to just about everything. It's because there are actual emotions that we've built in to respond to situations. The point is, we have the power to change that. We don't HAVE to react to something just because we always have, or because we THINK it's an impulse. Nothing is actually an impulse, it's either a choice to do what we've always done, or to do the opposite. I tried it a little this morning on my way to work. I think I'm conditioned to want to "beat" the person next to me when the light turns green. But why? Instead, I let off the accelerator and reminded myself that there is no first place as then say in driving school. Everyone wants to be "first", but there is no first.

3) On the greater scale, they say that if you've ever wanted to know what the purpose of life was, it's all inside each one of us, it's about creating realities and using our brains to the highest level. I think some of the overall meaning is how collectively, we could make this world, this universe, an amazing place, and that realizing how we're all connected could really lead to peace.

So yeah, it sounds like some weird motivational movie, but it's not. That's what *I* took from it. It's more of a documentary with all of these different professionals discussing quantum physics and "spirituality". They touch on the meaning of time and the possible misconception of moving forward. They also talk about God and religion, which I also found pretty interesting.

Anyway, I've rattled on enough. Watch it. I think you'll like it.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sometimes I Really, REALLY Hate It

Sorry for the rant so early on in 2006. I'll try to sound more whiny than bitchy, OK?

Sometimes I can't stand it here at work. Can't. Stand. It.

Either someone is asking a stupid question or not following directions, or blaming me for their ignorance, or interrupting me whenever they want because we have an open door policy.

Or maybe it's my boss making me fix something he told me to do wrong in the first place, but I can't correct him.

Mostly it's the constant uncertainty of what might happen. Maybe that sounds exciting to some, but I find it unbearable.

Each minute could change due to someone having a problem and making it mine and other minutes it's so boring I run out of things to distract me with.

And there are days, when I'm stressed out and unhappy that I wonder just why I subject myself to this, how ANYone can have a job they loathe like I do and still seem to drag themselves out of bed. How do I spend most of my time passionless and unmotivated?

The answer is not black and white. It's not as easy as "go back to school!", "get a new career!", etc. It's just not.

Not because I'm lazy, not because I'm indecisive, and not because I'm clueless.

It's because I'm already convinced I'm trapped. You know why? Because EVERYONE AROUND ME IS TRAPPED. If I were the only one to hate my job, then I'd blame myself a lot more than I already do.

Instead, I'm surrounded by people who can't stand what they do, or people struggling with how to change.

Maybe if I knew just ONE person, someone close enough to inspire me, I'd feel differently.

For now, I'll just learn to live with it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Deep Down In My Gut

I made it all the way until 6:30 p.m. before my stomach realized I had changed things up considerably.

And boy, was it pissed.

It was pleading with me to fill it up with any sort of calories. So I settled for hot chocolate, made in water.

It didn't help.

But I was a trooper and went to sleep without eating anymore.

I know, like I've known every other time I've tried to change my eating habits, that in a few days, my stomach will "shrink" and not demand that I fill it with junk.

Everytime I think of something yummy to eat, I remind myself that I've had all of that already, it's been done. I don't need a cheeseburger. I know what it tastes like and it's good, but I don't need it.

Right?

The Tooth Devil

OK, so I survived the dentist.

You all knew that I would, but I definitely questioned it.

Outside of constantly closing my mouth to make sure my jaw wouldn't lock and the sweat gathering at my forehead, I did pretty good.

I became buddies, comrades with my dentist's collegue, an ASIAN woman, mind you. Ya Ya Sisterhood! I'm not kidding.

Now the bad news:

The pain on the left side of my mouth, which I thought was just a poor job of filling my last cavitity, could actually be an indication the tooth is cracking and may need a crown.

And while it doesn't need one now, I'm pretty sure it eventually will, sometime in the near or not so near future.

I've already made up my mind that no matter who puts this crown on, I will beg and plead to either be put under or given the laugh-y gas, because there is NO way I will be sitting through that procedure conscious, with all of my tooth/mouth anxiety.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

WHY?!?

On the first day of my 1,009,361st attempt at eating healthy, does my boss bring in a bag of fun size Snickers?

WHY?

Sidenote: my stomach/digestive system has been thrown for an All Bran-Boca burger loop.

Look out.

Blind Fear

I'm a bit of an anxious person.

Over the years, I've had experiences here and there that have affected me mentally, and I'm overly sensitive to a lot of things.

I'm conscious of it, and try to keep myself calm when I feel my heart start to race or the light headedness creep in.

But the one place I avoid AT ALL COSTS is the dentist.

That's probably cliche, but for me, it's a living, breathing fear.

It started a long, long time ago, when I was a baby. Those memories I don't remember so well, but even back then I had cavities. My poor mother was accosted by the dentist who asked her to keep a food log for me. It turned out, the dried fruit she was giving me was causing the problem. This coming from a parent who never gave her child any sort of sugar.

Anyway, the thing I do remember is my horrible gag reflex (cue lewd joke here). Anytime one of the hygenists came near the back of my throat, I'd gag. And once that happen, my whole body tightened up and the panic would strike.

I couldn't get sealants put on my teeth because they couldn't get the smallest of mouth clamps in to keep it open. I couldn't get impressions, so my kind orthodontist used wax to get a mold of my teeth. And more recently, my jaw started locking.

So now, when I go to the dentist, I have to push all thoughts of gagging and a locking jaw out of my head. I have to convince myself that neither of these two things will happen and that the more relaxed I am, the more these two things will be avoided.

There was ONE time I went for my regular check up, back when I was in college, when the whole experience was a complete breeze. I remember being cool as a cucumber and coming out of it wondering why I had been so bent out of shape before.

I think looking back on it, it was because back then I was really stress free, more relaxed. That, or something else was consuming my thoughts enough to keep me distracted.

Either way, tomorrow morning I'm headed for that dreadful chair, those weird smells, the elevator music, and the tray of torturous tools.

And I keep telling myself to "just breathe".

Best of 2005

By month...

1) First New Year's with a boyfriend
2) First Valentine's Day with a boyfriend
3) Really nice dinner celebration with friends for my 26th birthday
4) Les Miserable, Bulls, Outhud, and voice lessons
5) New York trip with Boat, birth of Boat's newphew
6) Sox Game, Printer's Row Book Fair, Ravinia
7) Dinner with my uncle, Intonation, one week off
8) Rachel's wedding, one year anniversary weekend/Geja's
9) Boat's birthday/Wildfire, Sufjan Stevens
10) Chili Cook Off, Dios Malos, Halloween Party
11) Bowling tournament, Thanksgiving weekend, promotion
12) Bulls, aunt's surprise dinner, girls only get together, Iron & Wine, lots of time out, Christmas and New Year's Eve with the people I love

Overall: learning to knit, getting back into music, and "living" with Boat

Good Food, Great Company, In Bed Before Midnight

As Boat and I rode the "L" to BW3 on New Year's Eve to chow down on wings and watch the Bulls game, I noticed all of the people going to their party destinations. I suppose most people going to a fancy affair wouldn't be on the train, but I was surprised to see a lot of jeans.

It got me thinking about previous New Year's and how I spent them. I was reminded that I've never really had THAT great of a time. The most fun was probably all of the anticipation, the prep work of trying to look hot for no one in particular.

I was a little depressed that morning and afternoon since we didn't have big plans, but the evening turned out to be a lot of fun.

As we lay in bed, watching Dick Clark and the countdown, I realized there's a good chance we'll be in New York this same time next year. Maybe not Times Square, but pretty damn close.