Archive for June, 2010

Sono Americana

Si, si, sono stato in altre paese, abitavo a Milano per anni, in Egitto, in Olanda, Germania…ma alle fine, sono Americana.

Sono andato a fare spesa per la mia amica che abita con me. Lei sta per fare qualcosa buona e dolce per portare a lavoro, e ha dimenticato qualcosa. Allora sono andata per prendere DUE cose per lei – Cool Whip e Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (si si, anche le cose sono molto ma molto americano). Ho preso un paio di cose anche per me.

Sono stato davanti il freezer grande per qualche minuti guardano le mille tipi di Cool Whip: Normale, Più Cremosa, Cioccolato, Fragola, Lite, Senza Grasso e Senza Zucchero. Da quando abbiamo così tanto tipi?! Alle fine, dovevo prendere Normale E Piu Cremosa, se per caso sara necessario…

Quando sono arrivata alla cassa, c’erano una famiglia non Americana. La mamma ha pagato per le cose non tutto insieme, ma per qualche motivo sconosciuto, in quattro modi. Giuro. Prima, la figlia ha comprato Lunchables. Poi, tante cose la mamma ha pagato con suo assegno di lavoro, allora doveva segnalo e mostrare la carta di identità e tutto quello. Poi altre cose pagato con dollari, poi qualcosa non cibo con altri dollari.

Per le ultime cose il uomo ha detto “$10.34.” Allora le ha dato a lui, un cinque, cinque singolo, un 10 centesimo…Io potevo vedere cos’ era nella suo mano. Aveva un 25 centesimo…ma invece di dargli questo, lei ha dato due di 5 centesimo e poi ha cominciato a contare i 1 centesimo.

Guarda, non ero ne anche in fretta. Non avevo nessuna parte di andare. Stavo prendendo cose per fare dolce, non cena. Non avevo un bambino con me, ne anche figli. Non mi costava nulla ad aspettare. Sai che faccio meditazione? Ho studiato anche un po di Buddismo. Ma a quel momento, non c’era niente di Zen di me.

Sono Coreano 50%, Italiano 25%, Tedesco 25%, Americano – 100%.

An approximate translation – not word for word – but all the ideas are there.

Yes, yes, I have been in other countries, lived in Milan, Egypt, Holland, Germany, but in the end, I’m American.

I went to the grocery store for my roommate. She was going to make something to take to work and forgot something, so I went to get these TWO things for her – Cool Whip and Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese (yes, I realize that even these items are uniquely American).

I stood in front of the giant freezer full of Cool Whip for several minutes looking at the million different kinds of Cool Whip, Regular, Creamy, Chocolate, Strawberry, Fat Free and Sugar Free. Since when are there so many kinds?! Finally, I got Regular and Creamy…you know, just in case…

When I got to the check out, there was a family ahead of me. A not very American family. The mother paid for their items not all at once, but in FOUR batches. I swear. First, the daughter bought Lunchables. Then the mom paid for a bunch of food with her paycheck, so then there was the signing of the check, the proof of ID, all of that. Then there was some other things paid in cash, then more stuff, not food items, also paid with cash.

For the last batch, the cashier said, “$10.34.” She gives him a five and then five ones, then a dime…I could totally see into her hand. She had a quarter right there….but she didn’t use that. Instead she gave him 2 nickels and carefully counted out the rest in pennies.

Listen, I was not in a hurry. I did not have any where to go. I was there for dessert items, not for dinner. I did not have a baby with me or even children. It wasn’t costing me a thing to wait in that line. Did you know I meditate? And I have even studied Buddhism. At that moment, however, there was nothing Zen about me.

I am 50% Korean, 25% Italian, 25% German and 100% American.

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Why is it…

that the finale of Monk left everyone happily paired up? I mean, I get that it was supposed to have a happy ending and all that, but why does the happy ending have to have everyone in love and married-marrying? Who says that’s really a happy ending?

Just sayin’.

Party eating

One of the things I have read or heard over and over again is how hard it is for people to maintain their diets during holidays. I have mostly considered this to be unimportant for me. To tell the truth, I am not that social these days. I think I can almost remember at time in my life that I was more social, but nowadays, I really just don’t get out that much. And parties? Yeah, not many of those at all. So whenever I heard that idea, I always thought, well, if you do go to a party, you just eat before and then stay away from the snacks. It’s possible, right?

This week, I went out to a celebratory lunch on Monday to my favorite Korean place. Wednesday night I went to a Rockstar Storytellers show and there was a vegan bake sale. After the show, my date invited me out to a coffee shop. I don’t do coffee – I ate a lovely home made mac and cheese appetizer instead. Today I went to a graduation party – I did eat my healthy swiss chard, bok choy, chick pea salad-y lunch before hand – but I still ate potato salad there. Then I went to a choir party and guess what? Yeah, they had great food there too! I had some lovely whole wheat bread with cranberries, a few pita chips with hummus, and I think 3 pieces of home made poppy seed cake with a delicious cream cheese frosting. And this was AFTER I ate my dinner which consisted of jalapeno cheese bread (from a local bakery) with fake egg salad.

So much for my food things and my healthy plan.

Weight release

So, like I said earlier, I am currently on a quest to release some weight to at least get into the running (ha! No pun intended) for the military internship. I seriously considered NutriSystem or something like it – fuck my food ethics and morals – I need that internship! But then as I considered the money I’d already spent on my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share and all the food I’d have because of it, I decided I’d be better off making up my own meal plans.

Also, I have a number of food “things” that make those kinds of plans not very useful. I’m a vegetarian working towards veganism. I don’t like to eat too much bread or gluten. I am opposed to processed foods. I believe in putting my dollar where my mouth is so I buy mostly organic, sustainable, local foods. I don’t like to eat in restaurants as these generally violate most of these principals. These food things are positive factors, however, if I want to design and follow a healthy meal plan, though, right?

More about me. I’m overweight. Not just by the military standards, in general, I am overweight. I have been for the last 10 years. While this is true, it is also true that I have eaten following many of those food things for more than the last 10 years. And I am a runner who has always liked to work with weights. I am not hanging around on the couch eating bonbons, is all I’m saying. And I have been to my doctor about my weight a number of times, too.

Of course there are exceptions. I had a number of injuries in the last year that cut my running way back. I was married for a while and my eating habits were definitely less healthy in those days. I often get crazy sugar cravings while having migraines. And I give in, too, sometimes. I’m no angel.

But I never really tried anything related to counting calories – in fact, I always scoffed a bit about it. “I work out!” I would say. “I run!” “I eat healthier than most Americans – what difference would counting calories make??” Yes, then about 3 or 4 years ago I met with a personal trainer who heard me say such things and said, “ok, lets look at what you ate today.”

I proudly told him about my meals – which included a sort of pasta salad. It was mostly fresh veggies, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms. There was some pasta, but more veggies than pasta. As I recall it had some kind of dressing I had made – something with fake sour cream. And almonds. The personal trainer was kind of naming out the average calories for what I was telling him and I was doing ok and then I mentioned the almonds. Which I had tossed in for crunch, and hardly considered part of the “salad.”

How many almonds?” he asked.

I don’t know. A handful?”

So, like half a cup? Quarter cup?”

I went for the quarter cup, since I was sure that sounded better. I had also snacked in my car on almonds that day. I did a lot of driving for work and I always had sunflower seed and almonds to munch on. I considered them a healthy snack. I agreed that that day I had eaten probably a half cup. If I was fudging, I was fudging down.

So…anyone want to guess how many calories in a half cup of almonds? No?

Here it is. Half a cup of roasted almonds have 411 calories! 280 of those are from…FAT. Yeah, ok, so good fat, bad fat, healthier than a candy bar, better than a frappuccino, maybe. But if you are trying to cut calories, a “handful” of nuts can seriously screw with your day!

I started just checking my calories on fitday.com – a free service that is pretty easy to use. It was easy to see how my “healthy” food choices were not working well for me. As I recall, I dropped a few pounds right away, just by keeping track. I didn’t stick to it, though.

Now, like I said, I am back on the band wagon. I am working with a personal trainer again, am injury free so my runs are happening and I am keeping track again on fitday.

The church from hell

I live quite close to a church I fondly call “the church from hell.” When I first moved in, I had no particular feelings about living so close to a church, but then they put in that sign. The sign is a large led sign that was so bright when they first put it up that it literally lit up the entire upstairs of my house with an eerie red glow. As the words changed, the light came and went, hence the name.

At some point after installation they changed the intensity and the sign no longer puts out that strong red light, but the name stuck. I look at the sign regularly when I take the dog out, mostly to check the temperature. I know the sign’s text, pretty much, and I know how long it takes for it to come back around to the time and temperature.

I just went out with the dog – here it is just after 1 am. We wandered around from the front of the house and just as I came into sight of the sign, it said:

“Can’t sleep?”

I looked at it a long moment – and was thinking about my answer when it said:

“Don’t count sheep.”

I stood there, staring, till it said:

“Talk to the Shepard instead.”

I didn’t wait to see the temperature.

I’m supposed to be sleeping

I did, in fact, put myself to bed about 10 minutes ago. But as I lay there, looking at one of my bedside books Savor, I began to think about all the different kinds of stress in my life. In the past, one of the things that helped me to get to sleep was to write down all the things I needed to do – sort of a to do list for the next day – but really more of a “get it out of my head and on the paper” kind of list that was supposed to stop the thoughts from spinning endlessly in my head.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes I journal, and getting those thoughts out helps too. But lately I find that blogging has become something like a journal for me, and so, here I am. I actually think late at night is the perfect time for blogging, both reading and writing. I know it isn’t late now, but since I feel like I ought to bed in bed, it feels late enough.

But back to my stressors. I have so many these days that they need categories. And sub categories. Money, for instance is a common stressor. And I can easily claim it for myself. My money stressors fall into different categories. One category would be Immediate Financial Difficulties, like the idea that a check might bounce or a payment might be late. My bank balance used to live there, and in those days, it was kind of a minor stressor. These days, though, generally that is not where my balance lives, and so the slightest chance that it might happen feels much bigger. Anther category would be Consumer Debt – all that money I owe that is accumulating interest at an absurd rate which is directly related to last year’s break up.

That stress is more of a “stupid, stupid, stupid!” kind of stress wherein I say nasty things to myself about the issue. I have ridiculous student loan debt (with a much lower interest rate) that feels more inevitable than stupid, and at this point is a very minor stress (as it is not in repayment).

I have Billing stress which is related both to work and money and is a very high stressor these days because it feels pretty big and if I don’t get it under control, well, I don’t get paid. Which would add to the Immediate Financial Difficulties….

I thought I had more categories for money, but I guess that’s really it.

Then I have graduate school stressors, in order of lowest to highest – stupid poster board presentation, stupid final paper, methodology section to my dissertation, IRB forms for my dissertation, internship application, military application…



Which leads to the OMG I need to “release” (this is my attempt to fix the very imprecise language set-up that we usually use – if you “lose” weight, doesn’t that imply that you will “find” it again someday?) some weight for the military stress. This is a stressor as changing body weight always is – and has the added benefit of needing to do it because your (oh, hey, here it is) Financial health is directly related to it. Also, it seems so wrong to me that I would get into better shape for the military. Everyone knows you are supposed to do it for yourself, right? Not for vanity, but for health. Not for your job, but because you feel better…blah blah blah.

In a nutshell, the average internship will pay about $18,000. I have to manage all my stupid consumer debt and my mortgage on that amount WHILE living in a different state (and so needing to pay rent) with my large dog (ch-ching – add that to the regular rent) who is part Rottweiler (ch-ch-ching) and not being able to do any work on the side. IF the Army takes me…well, the rate of pay is considerably higher, I can stay very cheaply on the military, eventually there is a possibility of student loan repayment…uh, yeah. I kinda feel like everything hangs on this.

Meanwhile, the truth is even if I were svelte (which I shall never be) this is no guarantee that the military will take me. So, yeah, that just leads back to all the other financial worries again.

And this doesn’t even touch the relationship stuff!

I gotta get some sleep.

Migraine

I am having a migraine. I seem to have had a lot of them recently. Back in the bad ol’ days, I was having some ridiculous number – 23 migraine days a month! Then, they got better. I don’t really know why. I have tried a lot of things to decrease them, and I really don’t know what finally worked.

Things I tried:

Imitrex (made me too sick and never did knock out the migraine

Nyquil (before I had health insurance – it helped me sleep, anyway)

Maxalt (worked better than the Imitrex, then my insurance wouldn’t cover it)

Relpax (helps a lot, if taken with Phenergan)

Acupuncture (which helps during a migraine)

Massage (I did have one massage therapist who seemed to make a difference – until he didn’t anymore)

Physical therapy (I had the PT for other reasons, but some things she did seemed to help with the migraines along the way)

I also tried to limit certain foods, but after I saw the list of 800 “common” trigger foods I gave that up and only did testing on foods I didn’t want to have to give up. As far as I know, chocolate does not cause my migraines. 🙂 I did discover while listening to Dave Brodbeck (part of the Thunderbird Six Podcasting Network) that some high sugar foods that I crave when migraining may, for a short time, actually decrease the pain in my head…I often crave Pop Tarts, which I am pretty sure have like, 2 cups of sugar in them. You have to listen yourself to figure out why.

Additionally, my life has been one, giant stress ball for…well, as long as I can remember, really. I know this can have an effect. I’m cool with that. The thing is, I am past several of the large current stressors. I passed comps (that big exam for the end of my doctoral program) and I am no longer running around like mad, doing work and classes and practicum. I am finishing my last (cheering) class, in fact, something that I am extremely happy about. Things are kind of settling down for me. Yes, there are two more hurdles, but they aren’t quite so pressing now.

So, why now? Why have I had 6 migraine days out of the last 10? WTF?

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