Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Week four round up and some thoughts on writing

pounds lost: at least 13 but I forgot to weigh yesterday
Dinners in: six
Gym visits: at least three but I think four

I am feeling pretty good as the weight loss continues and I am noticing a difference in my clothes and my general health. I feel better than I did a month ago, and I'm not losing my mind with hunger. I just hope that as I I get further in to the school year I can keep up the routine. I gear up from 3/4 of a mile to a full mile every time I swim starting this week, so I'm curious to see how tired I'm going to be. My son of a bitching shoulder is still wonky as all hell so I think I'm going to have to go to the PT again, which is both a hassle and expensive. Also I need to go to the dentist, so someone should start harassing me about that until I go.

Ah, school. It is a difficult as I feared it would be but immensely worth it as it is already so much more rewarding than previous semesters. Thank God for no more 200 level classes or group projects or core classes or bullshit as I don't think I could take it anymore. Graduation hovers like a benevolent angel in a not-so-distant future and it is, as I imagine all angels would be, both terrifying and glorious. There is also something a little sci-fi about that simile and the idea of actually graduating, FINALLY, as Mamala would say. Lawd help me, Jeeezuhhss!!!

I had an amazing class tonight that served as a great reminder for why one of my majors is English. As much as I love love love reading, it is often such an isolated pastime that it can make me feel a little disconnected from people. I don't know how many times I have wanted to share the special brilliance of a passage or prescience of a viewpoint with no one to talk to about it, and ultimately feeling creepy as I laugh out loud and corner the cats with newly minted bon mots. I love talking about writing as much as I enjoy reading it but you can't make people love what you are reading from an anecdote and trying will just make me weep and pull my hair out. Glory glory the writing workshop. I am taking a creative nonfiction workshop, a class that meets just once a week but for three hours. It's not fiction, and it's not journalism but it borrows from both. It's often memoir but it doesn't have to be. I hope to steer clear of the all-memoir-all-the-time bent as there is PLENTY of navel-gazing being done right here, on this here old blog. Anyway anyway, we basically write and then critique one other which is good and makes you a better writer but the REAL JOY (for me) is making a group of people read a great and moving piece of writing (essays and excerpts from established writers) and then putting them in the same room and forcing them to FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT!!! Yes Lawd! Woot! This is like my dream come true! No more cats that are afraid of me!
OK, so tonight we had another professor sub for the regular professor who is in Nova Scotia or some nearly imaginary place. The sub was none other than the famous and universally beloved Dr. John Kessel, whose classes I have been trying to take, literally, for 10 years. He was, seriously, a-MAZ-ing. We talked about this extremely effective essay by Scott Sanders called "Under the Influence". What is so damn good about this piece is that is easily could have fallen into cliche, as it is about Sanders' memories of his drunken father, but he adroitly avoids sentiment and cliche. A man writing about his drunk father is like the masculine version of Mommy Dearest but at no time does Sanders evoke the "poor me" vibe of say, a Pat Conroy novel (whom I love but you know, I know what my weaknesses are). Instead, Sanders brings you under the emotional affect of the ten year old boy he was, and it's easy to empathize and sympathize with the child he was, avoiding the prat fall of a grown-up whining about how shitty his parents were. In fact, he only refers to the man he has become selectively, and just briefly, so the glimpses are powerful. In addition, he creates scenes that could be found in the best fiction: descriptive, pungent, visual words that pummel you. Emotional wording is limited, but the reader has no trouble realizing the emotional impact of witnessing your father drink himself to death. The power, as it so often is, resides in the details. In the end, his father is not demonized, but instead a study in dichotomy ; sometimes a monster, but often a weak, frail, and deeply sick human being. He also provides portraits of others: his mother, his neighbors, the adult children of other alcoholics. These portraits provide a resonance and a thoughtfulness that is lacking in most memoir nonfiction by going beyond personal experiences. The most interesting structure of the piece is composed of how the narrative unfolds. Sanders tells us in the first paragraph of the essay that his father died, "body cooling and forsaken on the linoleum of my brother's trailer". What in fiction would be the denouement, he gives to the reader within 50 words of starting the essay. The spectre of his father thus hangs over the reader, a menacing version of the ghostly grandfather from The Family Circus. Additionally, the real drama is in the integral suspense of of the progression of time, and his father's surprising but doomed 15 year dry spell. Like Hitchcock says, suspense is more interesting than surprise. His father's sober period is like a bomb on a bus that only you know about, and which explodes just like you knew it would. The piece reminds me of a eulogy, one that you might want to deliver, but never would. Funerals are for the survivors, after all, and so often is memoir.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Week Three Roundup

Pounds lost: not sure
Visits to Gym:4
Dinners in: 6

I have lost at least 9 pounds since we started the diet but certain factors are preventing me from getting an accurate reading on the scale. But I feel OK about where I'm at and I am continuing the gig at the gym. I am already fitting back into clothes I gained too much weight to wear since last summer so that's positive reinforcement.

School starts tomorrow and I am already freaking out about how I'm going to fit everything in. I'm just going to take it one day at a time and set a goal of three gym visits a week that I think is doable.

I've been sucked into my own little domestic world as of late because we adopted a new cat, Prince. You may have read about him in the Independent in an article about animals that were the least likely to be adopted. When I read about it it broke my heart but I figured with all the exposure that he would be adopted. It turned out that even a week after the article came out he was still being fostered. I couldn't stand it and due to a certain incident that involved Bourbon, a trip to the Taj Ma Teeter for baking soda at 5:30 am looking like a crackhead and vomit all over my prized Red Sox jacket, the Bagel owed me one.
So we talked about it for a week and after it struck us (muuuuchh too late for my own liking) that his name is Prince and would fit in the established pattern of music names for pets (see also our cat Black Sabbath, our cat Coltrane and our dog Bruce "Bean" Springbean) we officially decided to adopt him and picked him up on Saturday.
Bean is ecstatic; the cats are not thrilled.
I was balling last night after being ignored by the cats for three days and when we went to bed they deigned to come in the bedroom at least, if not on the bed. Straight bitches.
So between this insanely insane project I am working on for my job and the animals and working out and cooking I have been busy and it will only get crazier tomorrow.
You know what's nuts? I have a class with a professor who is the father of an acquaintance of mine, as well as the father of another acquaintance of mine who took his own life a few years ago. I'm stoked to be taking his class as he is supposed to be amazing, but I am a little weirded out about knowing something so personal about a teacher, when he has no idea that I know. What would y'all do? I plan on saying nothing, except maybe after the semester is over.

Also, see the movie Doubt as it is some of the best writing I have experienced in forever. It's funny, as an Atheist I am often drawn to eloquent expressions of faith. (See Haven Kimmel's Indiana trilogy or Killing the Buddha for prime examples.) In dedication to the unknowable future I give you an excerpt from the screenplay of Doubt written by John Patrick Shanley in which one of the characters gives a sermon on doubt, set in the year after President Kennedy was shot. Substitute Presidents Kennedy being assassinated with 9/11 or even this economic meltdown and it feels prescient.

Last year, when President Kennedy was assassinated, who among us did not experience the most profound disorientation? Despair? Which way? What now? What do I say to my kids? What do I tell myself? It was a time of people sitting together, bound together by a common feeling of hopelessness. But think of that! Your BOND with your fellow being was your Despair. It was a public experience. It was awful, but we were in it together. How much worse is it then for the lone man, the lone woman, stricken by a private calamity?

‘No one knows I’m sick.’

‘No one knows I’ve lost my last real friend.’

‘No one knows I’ve done something wrong.’

Imagine the isolation. Now you see the world as through a window. On one side of the glass: happy, untroubled people, and on the other side: you.

I want to tell you a story. A cargo ship sank one night. It caught fire and went down. And only this one sailor survived. He found a lifeboat, rigged a sail…and being of a nautical discipline…turned his eyes to the Heavens and read the stars. He set a course for his home, and exhausted, fell asleep. Clouds rolled in. And for the next twenty nights, he could no longer see the stars. He thought he was on course, but there was no way to be certain. And as the days rolled on, and the sailor wasted away, he began to have doubts. Had he set his course right? Was he still going on towards his home? Or was he horribly lost… and doomed to a terrible death? No way to know. The message of the constellations - had he imagined it because of his desperate circumstance? Or had he seen truth once… and now had to hold on to it without further reassurance? There are those of you in church today who know exactly the crisis of faith I describe. And I want to say to you:
DOUBT can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone.

Friday, August 14, 2009

There is no self-created replacement for being genuinely loved.

I've been thinking a lot about living in a fantasy world lately, both as thought experiment and while watching some people in my life trudge through ones of their own making.
This, in turn, got me to thinking about how much I want to see Where the Wild Things Are. That book teaches us that the fantasy worlds we create to escape the problems of our lives can't hold a candle to the genuine article, and in the end, it's best to accept our messy, problem filled lives and return to reality, where one can hope to find hot supper waiting for us.
These worlds, however, still live inside all of us, and we remain the kings of our own self-designed kingdoms, that's the beauty part.
I hope I get to watch this with my own kid someday, after having read the book a million times.
This is the new trailer, and man, it makes me cry like crazy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Love, Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Today has been a shit day.
I did have one bright spot, though. My terrific friend Julie, aka, The Beauty Whisperer, owns a great business,Beauty Ethics,that offers services such as haircuts, color and style, brows, waxing, facials, etc. Anyway, the BW is helping me get my skin in line after it has freaked out over being submerged in chlorine three times a week for 45 minutes. Hopefully things will improve with my new skin care routine.
Outside of that I have cried on the phone twice and in altogether separate incidents I have been disappointed by two people I love.
I have issues opening up to people, I'll be the first to admit that. But it doesn't help when people you care about consistently treat you as an afterthought. It also doesn't help when you ask someone to be there for you and they have their head so far up their ass they turn what you need into something all about themselves. This is not about the Bagel, btw as he is nearly a saint and a lovely person all the way around who always puts me first. Except when he drinks too much bourbon, but that's for another time.

I think I'll be glad when school starts again, as being busy prevents me from investing in other people.

Anyway, my giraffe necklaces from ETSY is shipping from Canada so it's going to be awhile. Something to look forward to.

So I've been thinking a lot about the school of Sociology that I went nuts for, Symbolic Interactionism (SI) lately, as my life has changed pretty drastically in the last three weeks, all because of what I am now defining as success and as my goals. Basically the dude who coined the term SI, Herbert Blumer, defined the basic premises as the following:
1) We act a certain way toward things or with things (including people) because of the meaning that has been assigned to them, i.e we do not brush our hair with a fork but rather eat with it because we learned that's what we do from other folks. Unlike Ariel.
2) The meaning that is ascribed those things we interact with derives from interaction in the greater world, or people in society. That is, meaning is not inherent, it is ascribed and that is not done by individuals but collectively.

3) Each of us then takes those ascribed meanings and interprets them through a process that has also been shaped by interaction in the greater world. That is, no man is an island, we depend on others to help us define the world, even when we are privately interpreting something.

All that to say, I really really really believe in this process, and I know that when I interpret the actions of others I try to use this paradigm as it seems to me that it makes what people do a little less deliberate.

So I started reading the textbook for my Gender class last night (yes that is the sound of glasses being pushed up my nose) and read a really interesting article called "Beyond Pink and Blue" in which the precedent of the medicalization of intersexuality was examined and debated. (Intersexed, btw, means those who, as the author Sharon E. Preves says, "...inhabit bodies whose very anatomy does not afford them an easy choice between the gender lines". The article's focus is on contemporary gender studies and how my man Erving Goffman and his theory of stigma or spoiled identity, wherein "Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity" applies to the development of identity by the intersexed. Needless to say, I love this shit and find it endlessly fascinating. It also reminds me of how we all develop our identities and how we all manage at times with a spoiled identity and what we must do to overcome it.

I am definitely mad at some people right now, and more than that, hurt, but at least they didn't cut off my clitoris when I was a baby for no real reason or make me grow up as a girl when I was in fact a boy. Pat Conroy says "In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness", but seriously, I am not so sure. Also, he's an alcoholic.

My scale is a piece of shit btw, and I did lose weight last week, three more pounds. From now on I'm only using the scale at the gym and the doctor's office.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Week Two Roundup

Pounds lost: 0
Visits to the Gym: 5
Dinners In: 4 (plus one at the in laws)
Ovulation: check!

God I am so pissed I didn't lose any weight this week. I don't know if it's because of where I am in my cycle or because the world hates me, but it's so disheartning to work this hard and have nothing happen. I went to the gym five times this week, I changed up the workout, I swam, I did abs, I'm eating less than 1500 calories a day, what the fuck do I have to do!!!

Number Six sent me this fascinating article that definitely gave me pause, especially considering this past week. In it there is so compelling evidence that exercise won't help with weight loss. It's not that exercise doesn't have positive value, but weight loss tends not to be one.
The conventional wisdom that exercise is essential for shedding pounds is actually fairly new. As recently as the 1960s, doctors routinely advised against rigorous exercise, particularly for older adults who could injure themselves. Today doctors encourage even their oldest patients to exercise, which is sound advice for many reasons: People who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases - those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated...The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Jesus Christ Bananas. Sigh.

At least I ovulated.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More Waiting but "Coming Soon", They promised!

As Liz Lemon says in 30 Rock, "I want to go to there". A documentary about how awesome and funny Arrested Development is? Yes, Please.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ovulation Celebration

In celebration and in convergence of nerdery, here is a fractal image of an ovary.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I need something to read

Before the semester starts and I have no time for true pleasure reading, I need one more book that will totally wow me. Any suggestions? I like long, complex, character driven stuff of the Contemporary American stripe. Right now I am reading some Kurt Vonnegut non fction and I just started Jane Smiley's Good Faith.
I bought a totally kick ass giraffe necklace from ETSY today, can't wait to get it.
I started a new ab work out yesterday, and I'm going to ramp it up again this afternoon. I'm taking the day off from swimming and I'm just going to do some strength training.
Made delicious pita sandwiches last night with balsamic marinated grilled chicken, arugala and a sun dried tomato vinnagrette. Delish! It didn't hurt that we had the best sesame pita bread from Neomonde as well as cous-cous salad. I've tried making my own but it doesn't even come close. I love this little piece by Kurt Vonnegut becuase I like to think we both were goofing around in Indiana at the same time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bad Mood Rising

I talked to the Dr. today, as I have been on the medicine for 9 days with no apparent cycle. I was freaking out but apparently I have 15 more days to wait. If something doesn't happen by then I go back to the Dr. for more tests. Wheee. So cross your fingers for me and send me fertility charms!

It has been one of those days in which the time just disappears,magically. What did I do today? I worked, I went to the gym and cleaned the kitchen and then cooked dinner. Why is it 10:40 already? I am really cranky about dinner, because I tried a fairly ambitious risotto, and it rejected me like the fickle, traitorous "rice" it is. It was way too something, starchy, I guess: like 3 day old oatmeal. You know what? Risotto is a stone cold bitch, that's what. Hopefully the rest of the recipes for this week will turn out a little better.

Risotto, you will regret meeting me, yet!

Also, does your back hurt when you use a treadmill? I am in constant and severe back pain every time I use one. What gives? I'm going to stick to swimming, I think.

Ugh, a bad mood rising, on the left.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week One Round Up

Pounds Lost: 5
Gym Visits: 3
Dinners at home: 6

Well it's officially been a week and I am already feeling way better. The diet is going well and it feels good to return to the gym though my hair probably hates me and is going to fall out from the chlorine and the constant washing.
I still haven't begun ovulating despite having been on the medication for a week now, and I have called the NP to see when I should expect to. I hope to hear from her by tomorrow.
I should say, there has been a tremendous outpouring of love and support from an abundance of you. I have heard from so many of my friends and family members, some whom I don't get to speak with often and it has done me well. I especially appreciate the numerous people who have written in with PCOS success stories, as it give me a little more hope with each one. Please continue to read and leave comments and email me as it's nice to know this blog isn't just "a bone thrown from the void that lies quiet in offering to thee" as Joanna Newsom says.
This weekend Bruegers Coffee (BC) and Future American Business LEader (FABLE) came and brought My Hot Pepper (MHP). We also had over Ruthless Rummy Ringleader (RRR) as The Wrestler and Queens Blvd. #1 (QB1) were in New York City over the weekend. It all went pretty well but was stressful due to 1) too many cooks in the kitchen 2) running behind schedule 3) I am a crazy person on these god dang hormones. Later I got sick because the food was too rich and I have to be really careful as I am on Alli. I am one of the few people who has zero side effects as long as I stick to my diet so it sucks when I make a mistake or underestimate the fat content of a meal.
I can really tell how much I am being affected by the medicine when I get stressed out as I start freaking out so easily and screaming about the smallest things. I managed to yell at Momala despite the fact that she's still recovering and we were discussing a hypothetical situation. I am an assahat. I have also cried about sixteen times this weekend, mostly over documentaries or movies. We watched Gran Torino last night and it far surpassed my expectations, and of course, made me cry a lot. Clint Eastwood portrays the first likable racist I've ever encountered and thus his performance at times left me conflicted. He just so damn entertaining. I also identified with certain parts of his character, like his disbelief in religion as evidenced by what he tells an overeager priest: "I think you're an over-educated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life. " Wow. It's probably a bad thing that I connect to such a horrible person, and despite his late in life transformation, he was a really lonely person who wasted a lot of time being angry and hateful. It was a pretty good reminder that life goes quickly and if you aren't careful you can alienate the people you love, or be left by them until you are all alone. And then you have to befriend the Hmong neighbor kids to save them from a fate of poverty and violence. That doesn't seem like something I would be into.
All that to say, I am sorry if I am a crankmonster, I don't mean it.

By the way, last night I fixed what might be my favorite diet recipe ever last night, potato corn chowder. When we had BC, Fable, MHP and RRR we grilled a bunch of corn that we did not even eat as there was a lot of other food. Instead, I used the corn for this recipe and made a couple of substitutions and additions (more potatoes, skim instead of 2%, ground sage). It was flipping delish and light enough that we could have big 2 cup portions. Definitely a new keeper.

Goals this week include getting a haircut, cleaning the pantry and swimming a mile at least three times. I also need to send out thank you cards for our wedding (almost a year ago!) as my time is definitely going to be limited after school starts.
In tribute to everyone getting along here is my favorite viral video ever, which a lot of people accused of being a hoax but here is a hilarious fake budget for the supposed cost of the hoax that the Matt dude presented in a speech at Macworld.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fantastic, indeed

This is a trailer for the new Wes Anderson movie, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox. I love it when there is convergence between two things I love.