At Year’s End – 2014

I wanted to do this while I was off of work, but every time I thought about cracking open my laptop I had guilt about not checking work email. The formatting is wacky and there are not as many links and pictures as I would like, but I need to just put it up and move on. I went through these (questions courtesy of RA) before looking at last year’s and am not sure if I am relieved that my pants also didn’t fit last year or if I am horrified by the realization that it has been SEVERAL years since I have owned properly fitting pants and I gained weight once again. Anyway, here are some thoughts on 2014.

  1. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 34 this year and in traditional fashion celebrated over multiple days (birthday week is TOTALLY a thing. A thing that is fantastic.) The weekend before I got one-on-one girl time with Caryn who helped make multiple birthday treats (I chose a non-frosted bday cake this year. Very strange.) and attended a work function at the zoo as my +1. On the actual day I went out to lunch with some coworkers – two were actually off so it felt extra special that they came out. We also ordered a scandalous pitcher of margaritas (which they filled me up on and then drove me back to work.) That evening I requested dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with Jesse. I don’t think he was very familiar with tapas style dining, but since we already eat off each other’s plates to begin with it was a lot of fun sharing all the food. Plus when I was indecisive between two cocktails he ordered one of each so we could try them both. The next day I had dinner with my parents – dad grilled my favorite salmon with mango salsa and although Jesse didn’t join us, he rescued me with a phone call to meet him for drink later on. That weekend I got to celebrate with Hillary and J.R. They got a sitter for their kids and we played minigolf before heading downtown. We ate glorious Cuban food, got tipsy, and walked around down by the lakefront in the beautiful weather. Afterward we headed back to their house and had a bonfire. It was one of the finest birthdays I can remember.
Let's just call this ungodly stomach a combination of food baby and exceptional poor posture. My love for the hated orange beams continues evermore.

Let’s just call this ungodly stomach a combination of food baby and exceptional poor posture. My love for the hated orange beams continues evermore.

  1. What are your strongest memories from this year, and why?
    My shitty, shitty boss finally being let go after causing more than a year of misery. Also making it to the 15-year mark with my company and getting an extra week of PTO.

Well my car dying in the middle of the freeway for no-known reason, really sticks out. Still have not resolved the “need a new car” issue, but thankfully that incident has not repeated itself.

Posted every day in February. Perhaps I will do that again.

Friends had to put down their beloved dog far too soon and it was devastatingly heartbreaking. I was overjoyed when they were able to welcome a new furry friend into our lives.

Before Jesse left on his abroad trip we went out for dinner. I typically order the mac and cheese at this place and mentioned a desire to get something else, but I still really felt the pull of wanting the mac and cheese. When our server came back he ordered the mac and cheese along with an appetizer mentioning they were “for the table.” It was just the two of us and it was super cute.

June was one of the biggest clusterfucks of a month I can remember in the last couple of years between a scary biopsy/whirlwind surgery/waiting for results and J being overwhelmed with an abroad class and generally acting like a terrible companion when he finally returned. Stress, fear, and sads are all hard to get through and there were many days I didn’t know how I was going to get through that trifecta. I am sure my tweets from that period are horrific and whiny, but it was the support system I could work with at the time.

My mother completed a triathalon through a breast cancer survivor study. My mother. OMG I am still incredibly proud that she stuck with all the training and COMPLETED this. I am in such awe.

This is my MOM. I cannot get over how awesome this was.

This is my MOM. I cannot get over how awesome this was.

Being bored and buying a bunch of eye makeup to play with at home that resulted in the STY that did not go away for more than 8 months.

Wedding season – we had 3 weddings in August and September and although Wedding Jesse is tons upon tons of fun, 2 out of 3 weddings were for his family and the level of appropriateness I needed to display as the new girlfriend was pretty exhausting (not to mention the caretaking and patience involved in handling Wedding Jesse.)

Some day he might learn to hold his liquor.

Some day he might learn to hold his liquor.

Getting to wear my dirndl for Halloween this year!

Lucky I had the dirndl or I would have had to buy a Ghostbusters uniform like everyone else at the party.

Lucky I had the dirndl or I would have had to buy a Ghostbusters uniform like everyone else at the party.

We made Christmas trains again. Last year Jesse brought over a rice krispies treat train kit and it was ridiculously fun. We had his brother and sister-in-law over this time to join in the festivities and it lived up to all the fun of last year.

Nicki Express makes her return as N2! (even if there are interloping Js this year.)

Nicki Express makes her return as N2! (even if there are interloping Js this year.)

  1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
    I had surgery under local anesthesia/spinal block. It saved thousands of dollars and alleviated some of my fears about going under (I do not do the best coming out from general anesthesia.) but after the anxiety of experiencing all the sounds of surgery I have no idea what I would choose if given the choice again. (Assuming my doctor would let me have that choice again, which now, probably not. Perhaps I would stick with the cost-saving local, just teamed up with a couple of shots of bourbon and a few unisom tabs for less… awareness?)

I was also not sick at all for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s for the first time in 34 years. I really wish I knew the secret to this so I could follow exact protocol forever and ever.

  1. What did you want and get?
    CLEAR MARGINS! The above mentioned surgery was sprung on me with no real notice or time to (over) process it or the preliminary results. Then due to illness and a breakdown in communication between my doctor, her medical assistant, and the Independence Day holiday it was almost 2 weeks to find out the official all clear afterward. It was not a fond time, but I got the best results I could possibly get and I am hopeful 2015 will not be a repeat.

A house that didn’t flood. I am forever thankful I rent and am not responsible for fixing flooding issues, but it was a nice respite to not have flooding in 2014 after the previous 2 years. Let us not speak of the drip I felt from the shower ceiling just before Christmas. That was obviously a fluke of condensation from an exceptionally steamy shower.

A working microwave! In lieu of flooding, my (built-in) microwave took a shit (I would bet money that the previous year’s flooding humidity caused issues to the circuit board) and would only work sporadically and even then in less than 90 second increments. A microwave is not mandatory, and sure I could have bought a cheapy one to get by, but when I have no counters to begin with, and it is IN MY LEASE, and broken for the better part of a year, it became a stubborn sticking point with my landlord. Anyway, the point of this was YAY I finally have a working microwave and it is wonderful.

Fergus Falls Otter T-shirt! After a failed mission to acquire this when we were there in August, Jesse made it a mission to find them on a return trip and surprised me (and his sister-in-law) with them at Christmas. I squealed with delight.

  1. What did you want and not get?
    A new car. (pitiful savings went to surgery bills)

A suitable non-hormonal birth control method. (humanity is terrible.)

6. What would you like to have next year that you didn’t have this year?

A planned vacation with Jesse that involves real time off of work and does not factor in attending a wedding obligation. (To be fair I understand that when you work full time and take an abroad class for a month, it is not kosher to take an additional vacation.)

  1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Well I am unable to even say what my new year’s resolutions from last year were (or if I even made any) so I don’t hold out much hope that I have kept them. Although I embrace the #HoarderLife hashtag and have made many trips to Goodwill this year, I would like to be better about getting rid of the things that do not serve a meaningful purpose in my life. (To be fair, a back up VCR serves a meaningful purpose. Ratty contingency underwear that enables me to delay laundry responsibilities does not.) I’d like to be kinder in my daily demeanor and actions. I want to more often ask how can I help make something better and work to make improvements instead of just grumbling about some injustice. These resolutions are not quantifiable, but I am okay with that. I have to-do lists to track my tangible goals and tasks.

(Apparently I resolved to make a list of resolutions last year, but I am doubtful that was ever done. If it had been done it probably would have included writing more about my Germany trip and I really failed at that.)

  1. What was your biggest achievement of this year?
    Loyalty to a company that may not deserve it. Okay that doesn’t sound like a crowning achievement, but after everything that went down in 2013, when the company began making worthwhile personnel and leadership changes in 2014 I really wanted to give them a chance to see things improve. The company will never be what it once was and I have made peace with that. I don’t know what the coming year will bring, but I am proud of staying even if it sometimes feels like the easier path than making a change. (Looking back at last year’s I had something similar, though it was out of stubborn resistance to outlast a shitty boss and a few short weeks later he was gone!)

I paid off $6,500+ in medical bills in less than 6 months. (goodbye entirety of my savings and overwhelming majority of discretionary spending) This would not have been possible without some surprise commission, but I will count it as a personal achievement nonetheless since that bonus commission was earned, and it was simply a surprise I was actually getting it.

Forging a worthwhile and redeeming romantic relationship with a stranger I met online dating (who had every reason to call it quits after our first date.) Even when I am picking on Jesse and being astonished at how he has gone through 36 years of life thinking some are okay (which are definitely not okay) I am thankful every day to have him in my world.

  1. What was your biggest failure?
    I lost a friend this year and there are reasons and failings and confusion, but most of all I just feel wrongfully accused and abandoned and it hurts.
  1. What did you rely on when you were overwhelmed?
    Twitter. During my worst times I did not call upon my support systems for reasons both righteous and arbitrary and that was really hard (and pretty stupid.) An Ex who has given me no reason to think he would be upstanding on my behalf really came through for me when I reached out and I was thoroughly touched (along with once again feeling the classic sad thoughts that we have never found/ will never find a way to work out.)

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  1. What are your strongest recommendations for entertainment from this year? (books, television, movies, music, etc)

My reading this year was abysmal and often I struggled to read one book in a month for book club.  Notables from that were Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  My favorite (non-bookclub) book this year was Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt  (notable mention awards to Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell) Again, these are well-discussed books almost all of which did not come out this year. I am not breaking ground promoting them, but simply nodding yes and adding my appreciation. I received books by Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham for Christmas that I cannot wait to dive into and will assume they will make next year’s list.

I think this year saw the fewest trips to the movie theater since I have had the autonomy of movie viewing decisions. Since Jesse is a giant party-pooper whenever I suggest going, I am thrilled to have made a new friend who likes going to see movies. We have gone twice so far and it is outstanding. Also, we received a DVD of This is Where I Leave You from Jesse’s parents for Christmas and I recommend it. I heard the book was really good and I might look that up even though I feel weird about the reverse order of seeing the movie first. It was not breathtaking or phenomenal (okay maybe Jesse actually watching a movie I asked to see was) but overall very enjoyable. We did not get to watching it until 2015, but since we received it in December and it came out in 2014, I am counting it. Go watch it.

As for music, I am sad to see the end of Yellow Ostrich, but so glad I got to see them in 2014. Field Report came out with Marigolden and it was thoroughly enjoyable to go to my favorite record store to purchase a physical copy and pour over the liner notes. I also received Wilco’s Alpha Mike Foxtrot rare tracks box set for Christmas. I haven’t been home enough since then to listen to all four discs over and over yet, but so far I am thrilled with experiencing the ebb and flow/distinct releases of a band I admire but cannot consider myself a die-hard fan of by any means.

  1. What song will remind you of this year?
    Well, Take Me To Church by Hozier  became a running joke as the radio would not stop playing it every hour and now we have bets on whether we will hear it every time we get in the car. (I did not link to YouTube as the video is pretty violent.)

Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is exceptionally catchy and due to some behind the scenes circumstances it makes me smile every time I hear it because of this local video.

  1. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year (not necessarily from the song that reminds you of the year).
    “Don’t you think it’s time to change
    And maybe become a better you”

“Karma” by Lady

  1.  What was your most enjoyable purchase?
    I bought myself Jeff Tweedy tickets as an early birthday present. Although Jesse is not a fan, he followed decent boyfriend behavior and came with me (on a weeknight!) The concert was at my favorite Milwaukee venue and it was worth every penny of the stupid online surcharges to get tickets during the pre-sale.
  1. Did you travel? If so, where?
    Went to Baltimore to see a dear friend get married and stayed an extra day to visit with my cousin and her hubs. So delightful and I am still thinking about the delicious biscuit (bigger than my hand!) that we got at the Farmer’s Market. Natalie and Paul also introduced me to the Fargo miniseries, which was one of my favorite TV shows this year.

Roadtrip with Jesse to Fergus Falls (western Minnesota) for his cousin’s wedding. Lots of driving, lots of giant animal statues, and lots of alcohol. It was outstanding and I love his family.

I wanted to take him home.

I wanted to take him home.

Geneva, IL spa trip to the Herrington Inn with Mom. Even though Mom threw out her back the day before we left (rolling a giant rotting pumpkin FTW) we managed to have a great time. I was pampered and spoiled and rubbed. Another excellent year of our mother-daughter overnight tradition.

KarenNickiHerringtonInn2014

  1. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Action. Follow-through. Enacting Change. I spent a lot of time this year feeling hopeless and that circumstances were being done TO me.
  1. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Hmmmm, my first thought is perhaps less stuffing my face as I am at least 10 pounds heavier this year and most of my pants don’t fit.
Worth it.

Worth it.

  1. Compared to this time last year, how are you different?
    I am trying really hard to improve my communication and be more upfront in admitting when something is bothering me or my feelings are hurt. This is also my first relationship without the responsibilities of a dog so my house is not the default. It is an adjustment to compromise on where to spend time, so I am trying to live up to the personal belief that when it truly means more to one person, that person’s vote is weighted heavier. Basically it is very strange to not be the one with the superior bed.
  1. Compared to this time last year, how are you the same?
    Sometimes I am too outspoken and stubborn when I know that I am right and frustrated that others do not agree (A charming trait, I know.) I still love to make a giant mess in the kitchen and have a fridge full of food, though I am begrudgingly increasing the frequency of going out to eat when that is what someone else wants to do. Dear god I still love to sleep a lot.
Sleeping alone is overrated. Always better with a bear.

Sleeping alone is overrated. Always better with a bear.

  1. What’s a life lesson you learned this year?
    It is really hard to sustain constant outrage in our society. There is always the next terrible thing around the corner to divert attention.

Puppy Hugs Snoopy

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There’s Hair Everywhere

I have no idea what to do with my hair. As someone else in my life seems to have very vocal opinions on its length, I have taken that under consideration over the past year partly under an effort to be nice and partly under pure laziness and inability to actually do something about it. He complains often about hair shedding, but I refuse to listen to such things. I shed like crazy and if long twisty hair on every surface is so bothersome, I am more than happy to buzz cut it. (I dream of a world devoid of hair style options, despite knowing I would look hideous showing off my lumpy head.)

I do not have a great track record with hair stylists. For most of my life my hair stylist was my former Sunday school teacher, Mindy. (Also visited by my mother and grandmother, now her daughters work in the salon too – legacy, sunrise/sunset and all that…) She is overpriced, but her willingness and talent at perming my hair gave her lots of leeway. Mindy threatened to never perm my hair again after one in 1997, though I begged for one before a backpacking trip in 2003 and she obliged complete with major eye roll over the un-trendiness that defines my existence. Then in 2006 she contacted me about a free perm if I would sit for longer (beyond the 3+ hrs it normally takes to roll my hair) while she demonstrated on me to other junior stylists in her salon (many of whom had not done a perm since graduation). I was excited for the freebie and to sit for her and be fawned over. The entire salon was disinterested and downright rude, plus Mindy still charged me her insane rate for the pre-perm haircut, which felt like a bait and switch after I took a half-day of vacation to sit for hours. The real breaking point came a few years later when guilt-ed into giving her another chance (via gift certificate from my mom) Mindy cut my hair in the once fashionable wedge shape with it shorter in the back  (ear length) and longer in the front (chin length), despite my insisting that is an un-maintainable style for me (who must have hair off of my face). That wedge only looks good when doused with product, blown out, flat-ironed, and not pinned back – all things I rarely manage. After a couple weeks of stringy, chunky hair tucked behind my ears, I went to a walk-in chain to have it evened out.

A few things about my hair and lazy lifestyle:

  • although I have a lot of hair, it is super fine in texture with minimal volume
  • my hair is neither straight nor curly, more like frizz that turns stringy if you look at it wrong
  • my hair will slip out of braids, buns, and non-friction clips or ties
  • my hair has never been colored or highlighted
  • hair product (#YesAllProduct) makes it immediately look greasy
  • showering at night only works for when I need greasy hair for a formal updo
  • I have never personally blow-dried, curled, or flat-ironed my hair successfully
  • I do not have a standard side or middle part and fail at keeping a part intact for the day
  • I cannot stand hair in my face – it must be pinned back.
  • Ponytails give me headaches

My established looks are to perm my hair – a basic coating of mousse and air dry (lazy person’s dream – just spritz to refresh), french braid my hair (doable but slips out under any sort of exertion), or put half up in a barrette. The last of which has been my standard for 25 years  though I’ve endured constant mother criticism for grade school appearance for it. Last winter I started taking the front forehead section and pinning back with a bobby pin which seemed to fit my requirement for no hair in my eyes while appeasing her with a deviation in style.

Since the breakup with Mindy, I have had my hair cut either from salon gift certificates won somewhere or walk-in chain stores. I had one promising stylist that was convenient, reasonable, and agreeable, so of course she moved away. I aim for getting a haircut 4 times in a year, but it seems to be closer to 2 or 3 lately.  I have no idea how to style hair – I fail at mimicking a blow out at home and this same lack of coordination carries over to curling irons and flat irons as well. Plus I cannot even pretend to not care as I can’t stand it pulled back into a ponytail for more than 20-30 minutes.

I feel hopeless and defeated, but got some inspiration from twitter this afternoon and I may try some new products and velcro rollers. Surely it has to go better than last winter’s experiment with eyeliner that caused a persistent sty for 10 months. Well at least better than my chances of some day winning the lottery and finding someone who can be my personal assistant for vacuuming and blowdrying.

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Bursts of Rage

Call it rage, call it annoyance, sometimes there are just things (stupid, little, non-malicious things) that get me so worked up and make me want to scream. I find the following unacceptable:

  • color paper clips
  • wire hangers
  • when people say what they want/need and expect an unprompted offer of assistance instead of asking for one
  • leaving closet doors open overnight (though I recently got called out on this as I frequently sleep with bedroom door open just fine. Is sleeping with the bedroom door closed a guy thing? a roommate thing?)
  • being left waiting due to an intentional disregard for punctuality (there is a difference between habitual 10 min late personality and selfish/lazy inertia)
  • senior coworkers micro-managing simple tasks
  • cold soup
  • plastic tampon applicators/packaging (total finicky high horse – I will defend tampons themselves until kingdom come, but cannot understand why so much plastic needs to be involved)
  • comfortable leggings being trendy without an equally popular rise in selection of ass-covering tunics
  • hormones – or basically why this post has been brought to you (if it wasn’t blatantly obvious)

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Troubles

Hey look at that – I finally found a way back into my blog. Now if I could remember what password worked to actually get in here.

Like usual all that is on my mind right now are things that are bothering me and that are too long to tweet about. (I mean other than there are not enough free hours in the day to watch all the TV I would like to watch. I love TV.)

I am a firm believer in leaving an area better than you found it (is that a scouting thing?) and I guess this mentality has sorta pushed into dating. There is a lot of effort involved in getting relationships to work the way both parties want. (I don’t mean to come across as condescending like one fixes another person.) If (ahem, when, in my history) the relationship doesn’t work out then hopefully that effort to ease some of the annoyances will carry over for the next person. I think of it more as mutual improvement in general awareness/consideration of things the other person never thought of (or got called out on) before. There was a specific situation with an ex that used to drive me absolutely bonkers. (Not like toilet seat should always be left down, though that is an issue I have been known to nag about) Anyway, I felt that I was battling against this situation and constantly losing. Now I see information where an example of that formerly rigid situation (one where my request would have been automatically denied) was handled differently. I know I should be happy about this flexibility (for the greater good), but damn it sure still stings that it didn’t work out that way during my time.

Okay this one isn’t so much bothersome as just a strange thing. My guy and I went out to dinner Saturday night and for convenience we had our leftovers combined when they were wrapped up. I joked I was getting bonus leftovers this way (I love leftovers.) It was suggested on Sunday that we eat the leftovers, but I offered a different option and mentioned I would prefer the leftovers for my lunch(es). I brought the large/opaque container of leftovers to work yesterday, but ended up going out for lunch so they sat in the fridge at the office. Today I opened the container and more than half the leftovers were gone. I have no idea whether my boyfriend took out a portion Monday morning for his lunch, or whether one of my coworkers stole them. This could easily be remedied with a quick text, but I’m actually baffled at the thought of coworker eating from our half-eaten food having no idea whose it is. This wasn’t a can of soup or an intact sandwich. Food stealing is very common at my work and is basically acceptable (well as acceptable as stealing can really be) as long as you don’t take the last of something or someone’s only option. For example I have stolen frozen meals and soda, but I know exactly whose I am stealing and (mostly) let that person know I did it. (Also, by stockpiling 2 weeks of their damn food in shared space and taking over the limited fridge/freezer I feel our inconsiderate ways kinda/sorta cancel each other.) Those same people regularly help themselves to my personal snack drawer – as in I will be sitting in my cubicle and they will come and throw their hands right into my box of crackers or open my desk drawer to find a different snack option without asking. This is truly horrifying when typing out but after 15 years feels totally normal. My office is really weird.

UPDATE: Checked in with boyfriend – yep a coworker totally ate my leftovers. He was properly mystified, “But I ATE off of that…”

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Pre-Contemplation

I can be fairly suggestible. Hell that’s how I joined FB, Twitter, even started this blog. Back in June after eavesdropping on a My Fitness Pal discussion on Twitter I downloaded the MFP tracking app. It is no secret that my eating habits are pretty atrocious. Even 2 minutes into a conversation a friend remarked, “wow, you’re really heavy on the carbs.” Obviously I opted to make my food diary open to friends because I enjoy being entertaining with my spoonfuls of cookie butter and counted out chocolate chips of desperation.

Observations so far:

My work environment is a detriment to my health. I rarely leave my desk during my shift and and can often pound down an entire box of crackers by 11 a.m. I am sure boredom and dissatisfaction with my job also play a role in my face-stuffing habits, but the computer-staring monotony does not burn calories regardless.

On weekends and vacations I do not snack all day and rarely eat 3 meals.

Although my dog was old so she didn’t walk fast or far, that was still 2+ walks that no longer exist in my daily routine and it shows. Forget 10,000 steps. I am far often under 1,000. I need more walking before my legs completely atrophy. (Yes I’d like another dog eventually, but that isn’t under consideration right now.)

My alcohol consumption has increased significantly over the years. Not to a worrisome degree or level in and of itself, but eye-opening when each portion is tracked. Two or three drinks throughout an evening does not phase me until I see it laid out. Those are calories that I would definitely prefer to go towards butter and ice cream.

Actions so far:

Better portioning – I am no longer bringing entire boxes of crackers or cereal to work. I portioned out Goldfish and Wheat Fats into the suggested serving sizes. I am even measuring my cereal and milk at breakfast. I mean I was definitely still eating 2 servings in the beginning, but one with milk at home and one dry at the office to combat the carb munchies habit. I am not eating any crackers before noon (mostly). I don’t think I will ever get to the point of eating only 2 TB of hummus (#TeamHummus), but portioning out 4 TB instead of sitting down with the whole tub is a start.

One-for-one drink tradeoff – I have always been good about drinking lots of water, especially at the office. When I am feeling snacky, I now force myself to drink a full glass of water. This helps me judge whether I am hungry or just bored and want to munch. When indulging in booze I am trying to have a glass of water for every drink I consume. This seems like logical behavior but it does not always happen, so at least it is moving to the forefront of my mind as a goal.

Pushing for increased movement in everyday actions with more walking and stairs – I am trying to park farther away in the vast suburban parking lots. It feels weird to park my rust bucket car out in Guam but this seems to be an easy thing to do as I am rarely rushed during errands and the weather is nice. Not sure it is going to hold up once I am forced to cross slippery slushy pavement in the arctic temperatures. We shall see.

Drinking seltzer – I have swayed back and forth on diet versus regular soda so many times. I see both sides and I understand the wisest decision is to just not drink soda period. I don’t handle caffeine well anyway and that seems to be one of the major justifications for soda. I think it is a tasty treat to break up plain tap water and I like the carbonation and the acidic feel so I have caved into feeding my love of seltzer water. The environmental impact of this consumption (of bubbly WATER) is not lost on me, but it does feel like a nice treat in the afternoon without the guilt of mass amounts of sugar or fear-mongering chemical alternatives. Again, I am not sure the crisp, cool refreshment will be as delightful once the weather turns.

Where to go from here:

I do not have any specific weight goals. A friend in my book club called this pre-contemplation. I am thinking about thinking of doing something. I am still hesitant to get a scale as I have a history of developing a fixation on that. I go to the doctor often enough so I feel that should be sufficient to see if there are results in the poundage department. I think I set the MFP goal initially to lose 5 pounds in 10-12 weeks or something to that effect.

Mostly I want to not continue down this slippery slope of my pants not fitting and feeling bloated and lazy. I have sensory issues to begin with when it comes to pants and with my terrible posture exacerbating my belly fat it gets really uncomfortable in pants that are too tight. With a very sedentary lifestyle indicated, MFP set me at a goal of 1,500 calories per day. It is reasonable and doable (rum and popcorn dinners aside.) I was doing really well and have always been honest about the tracking (what is the point of fibbing?) but I took a break for a couple weeks around my birthday simply because it was getting obnoxious to see the overage when tracking 4,000 of celebratory calories.

Eating is only a part of the equation and even being under calorie goals is not going to get the results I want. I need to start moving my butt more. My office building is tiny and we are basically in an industrial park so there is not much room to walk even if I was somehow graced with the initiative to do it. I have had gym memberships in the past with very limited success and I haven’t found many home videos that don’t make me suicidal. My favorite activity is swimming, but absolutely hate sharing a lane so I lose all motivation to go when it is convenient (at peak times when everyone else wants to swim.) Since this activity side of things is kind of at a standstill, right now I am trying to focus on what I can do: stop piling the food into my mouth and be meaningful and accountable for what I do shove in there.

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Always Never – Food Edition

Logging in today I see that I have nine drafts from the last six weeks that never got posted. Life has been a tightly-wound coil of stress on several personal fronts and each time I have tried to write my feelings out I couldn’t bear to publish and each time I tried to write about something else, it felt so false. I even stepped away from writing on Twitter for a bit because it felt like a pretense that things were okay when things were most definitely not. There is no true resolution to gloat over; no official devastation ruling to continue moping about. It is time to move forward. I am forcing myself to write and post SOMETHING. Since it is nearly lunch time, my thoughts turn to food. (Honestly my thoughts at work are pretty much always about food. I am a habitual cubicle snacker.)

I will always:

  • Choose pizza if given the choice
  • Salivate over a burger with a fried egg on it
  • Click on a link for a recipe for pancakes
  • Prefer Red Vines to Twizzlers
  • Steal your fries
  • Want popcorn at the movies (even if I just ate)

I will never

  • Want sour cream on my taco
  • Pass on an offer of margaritas
  • Order my steak rare
  • Warm to the idea of cauliflower as a substitute for anything
  • Regret trying the soup
  • See food as merely fuel

 

 

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Baltimore Wedding Weekend

Hey I went to Baltimore <three weeks ago>! Matt, a childhood friend was getting married and my cousins Natalie and Paul live there so it was the ultimate excuse to jump on a plane and get out of town for a weekend of fun. In my delusional fantasy world I would have been accompanied by my +1 and taken a side trip to D.C. to visit other family, but reality laughed in my face instead (he had a mandatory class for his abroad program and my D.C. family was going to be traveling for a graduation.) It was still an amazing little trip and a much needed change of scenery even if it was not the original romantic/tourist vacation vision.

As an over-thinker, packing stresses me out to a ridiculous extreme. I have no explanation (other than a robust week of after-work socializing) for why I did not start packing for this trip until almost 11 p.m. the night before a 5:30 a.m. flight. This was not smart on my part and my neuroses only made it worse. (But I got in a last-minute pedicure, so that’s the tradeoff I guess.) Getting up at 3:00 to shower before calling a cab was downright excruciating, but thankfully adrenaline kicked right back in. My retired father offered to drive me to the airport at 4 which was sweet, but I felt I would be unable to continue my eyerolling when they insist I drive them to the airport at ungodly hours. Since I am less than ten minutes from the airport I sucked it up and called for a taxi (only to have the specific taxi driver call me back to confirm while I was in the utility closet turning down my hot water heater. Nothing like a LOUD, unexpected phone call at 3:45 a.m. while crouched down between machines.)

After finding my way to the right area of the airport (Southwest has switched concourses and 4 a.m. brain takes longer to process) I was accosted by security for having a tube of lip balm in my pocket. Apparently I was supposed to remove EVERYTHING (including paper, tissue, and lint.) By this point I was really ready to get my vacation started. Unfortunately, even in Milwaukee, you cannot get a vacation beverage at the airport before 6:00 a.m. (they will however let you sit at the bar starting at 5:00 a.m.) The flight was not full and I had an excellent boarding position so I was able to get my luggage situated and into my desired window seat without a fuss. The guy who ended up sharing my row sat on the aisle, but used the middle seat and middle tray table in addition to his own to completely spread out his work. It made me want to disturb him to get up simply on principle (you want to work on the plane, fine, but this isn’t a conference room.)

Once we landed in Baltimore I stuffed a muffin into my face checked in with the Super Shuttle service and was on my way to the hotel.  My van driver was really nice to point out a bunch of sites near the Inner Harbor that I was vaguely familiar with from my last trip, but it soon turned into him describing every building whether it was simply a store or bank. (Cool it dude, unnecessary.) I met Hillary in the lobby (they flew in the day before) and I checked in to my room while we waited for her hubs to wake up.

I thought we were going to hit up the AVAM (sparkle building!) but the boys outvoted us and we trekked over (via the Charm City Circulator – oh how I love the Circulator! And the friendly people who give advice about where/when to get off!) to Fort McHenry instead. We learned lots about famous Baltimorian Francis Scott Key, (though we sadly were not recipients of the Francis Scott Key Key) and some really undesirable abuses of power from Lincoln that somehow were left out of the movie. Even though we had to compete with 8,000 school kids it was still glorious to walk around the grounds and in and out of all the buildings (well those of us in the group who were not tied to our phones anyway.) We hopped back to the hotel for some lunch and Natty Bo bottle cap puzzles before the the guys had to take off for setup and rehearsal.

I was pretty wiped working off less than 2 hours of sleep and an abundance of fresh air, so I checked in with my cousin who was driving back from a conference in Delaware and hit my hotel bed hard for a nap. I thought I had turned my phone from vibrate to full sound when I put it on the charger but it seems I mistakenly moved it to the silent setting. I was abruptly awoken when my hotel phone rang hours later and my cousin told me they were in the lobby and we had reservations in 20 minutes. A look at my phone confirmed 17 missed text messages (WAKE UP!) and phone calls, whoops. After I threw on some clothes (no idea what the temperature was like at this point) and dragged a brush through my hair before running down to meet them. We headed over the the Heavy Seas Alehouse and proceeded to order some tasty beverages… and pretty much the left side of the menu. Natalie (amusingly dressed in a gingham shirt like the waitstaff) ate some plastic-y looking seaweed garnish and my mouth still waters thinking of that poutine. Three cheers for my amazing cousins for waking me up, getting me fed with such deliciousness, and then delivering me back safely to my hotel. Also for onion rings. I could have eaten vats of that onion ring batter.

I checked in with the wedding group to see if the the post rehearsal festivities were still ongoing and made my way over to Max’s Taphouse. Yes I am a suburbs girl but I am not automatically scared to walk city streets alone and for the most part the roughly mile and a half walk was well-lit and populated. One corner was particularly dark and while I waited for the light to change a man came up and stood directly behind me and sucked on his teeth. It was unnerving to say the least and I kept wondering if I was better off running into traffic. There’s just something stuck in his teeth, right? He is not going to attack me in front of all these cars, right? As soon as there was space between cars I ran across the street and crossed over down to the next block. Yay for wearing flats, but boo for unreasonably high curbs (what’s up with that Baltimore?) Once safely at Max’s I let the bartenders take care of me (I have been there previously and knew there is no way I can choose between the 150 different beer offerings) and ran into another childhood friend I haven’t seen in years as he waited outside the restroom for his wife. There was much mingling with the groom and two beers later our group moseyed back to the hotel (safety in numbers!)

The next morning I was able to catch  breakfast in the lobby, walk a little in the Inner Harbor, get in a little reading, and then Hillary and I sat outside in the courtyard and chitchatted in the favorable weather while we waited for the boys to finish with their fancy manscaping grooming at the barber. We walked over to Attman’s Deli for lunch and once we were sufficiently stuffed with all the meat it was nap time before the wedding (frequent napping is mandatory on vacation.) All of the out-of-towners were stationed at a hotel near the Inner Harbor for ease of tourist fun, but they chartered buses to get us to the wedding site a good 30-40 minutes away.

Happy groom

Happy groom

Crazy storm predictions meant the ceremony had to be under the tent, but it was still amazing. I really have no desire to host a wedding, but if it was really important to the other person, this is a wedding I could get behind. Everything was so personal (OMG the fantastic and funny vows) and lovely (casual nature, everywhere) and this great group of friends participated to help make it ridiculously special, including a song that turned crowd singalong. Also there were doughnuts. Wedding doughnuts freshly made before your eyes. With toppings. Oh man they were sooooo good. I almost forgot the cocktails – there were old fashioneds! Both the bride and groom are from Wisconsin. There must not be an overstock of brandy in Maryland, so the cocktails were made with bourbon and they were made STRONG. I think the abundance of alcohol also brought out some interesting conversations. Years ago I was involved with the younger brother of one of these friends. (we all grew up on the same street and we reconnected at a wedding of one of the brothers) It did not end well between us and apparently his family was just as much in the dark as I was about the abrupt ending. Hearing about his continued standoff was certainly enlightening (and a little sad he continues to be at such odds with his family, even if I still have hard feelings about the him and our relationship.) Any time we all get together there are always so many good stories about growing up to share along with plenty of teasing to go around.

No kids, no driving, getting our buzz on

No kids, no driving, getting our buzz on

I brought never-worn before sandals to the wedding and it could have been a disastrous move, but they were super comfy and it was wonderful (whew.) The party was outstanding and we were so engrossed in dancing (so much dancing) to the wild music (not a single slow, sappy song the entire night) we didn’t even notice another huge storm come through until other guests were trying to close the tent walls against the torrential downfall. Between pops of rain we were able to walk around the nature center a little bit and standing at a clearing in the woods near the gazebo overpass staring up at the sky the booze kind of hit me. I missed my brother so much and I was so sad and angry he wasn’t with us. This close crowd has been through so much together and I was so happy surrounded by them but his absence was a huge whole in my heart at that moment.

So much love for these guys. (Also alcohol turns me into a muppet.)

So much love for these guys. (Also alcohol turns me into a muppet.)

We made it back to the hotel on the last bus and logically moved the party into the lobby bar for some more Natty Bo and merriment. This extended drink-a-thon made the next morning rough for a lot of folks who were flying and driving, but I was determined to make it up to my cousins for Friday’s nap-a-thon so hungover or not (yes) I was up bright and early to meet them for the Farmer’s Market. Paul did not stay with us long as he was venturing off to meet friends to watch soccer, so Natalie and I navigated our way through picking up produce and meat and biscuits bigger than our hands. We walked back to my hotel so I could get my luggage and check out, and then we took the metro subway back to their place farther north in the Mount Vernon area. We took a selfie at some point near a whole block of stripclubs on the walk back, but I don’t think Natalie posted it. Oh well. I failed completely at photos the entire trip so I only have myself to blame for no picture of us. While she unpacked the goods, I lounged on their couch and we looked up ways to make potato salad for a cookout later that afternoon. Their smoke alarm (on their high, high ceilings) decided to be a dick and randomly beep – the landlord so nicely troubleshooted by telling them to disconnect it completely.

They took (metro bus – more public transportation!) me to another friend’s house where I delighted in eating yummy grilled meat, chatting with new people, and petting a super nice greyhound. We walked over to the Charmery and I had the tastiest salty caramel in a waffle cone made right before my eyes. So good. Although Paul had grand plans of making dinner, we were pretty full from the afternoon of eating and settled on popcorn instead. Yes, someone offered to make me risotto and we ate popcorn. That’s a shamedinner for you. We each got our OWN bowls of popcorn and settled in to watch Fargo. It was incredibly relaxing and low key and exactly what I needed after so much socializing. (Also perhaps a better ending than the last time I partied in Baltimore with them and ended up puking in the kitchen sink after mixing too much high ABV beer and gin cocktails.)

Monday morning Natalie saved me from navigating the light rail on my own and used a zipcar to drive me to the airport before going to work. Super convenient for me and much appreciated, but now I have vowed to come back to Baltimore just to get another mark on my public transportation tour punch card. (It kills me how awful and nonexistent Milwaukee public transportation is). Although the security lines were significantly longer at BWI than in Milwaukee, I was ready and made sure to get all the lint out of my pockets. After getting into a twitter war with random internet stranger about a rude lady completely blocking a restroom corridor I thought I should find my gate. About 40 minutes before they were going to start boarding they made the announcement that there was a problem with our incoming plane and our flight would be delayed about two hours. I went to get some food and while I was savoring my Chipotle (barbacoa, always barbacoa) they announced the flight was back on schedule (guess they found another plane?) GAH. I had to inhale the rest of my burrito bowl and find my place in the boarding line. After disagreeing with a fellow passenger who claimed I cannot just show up late for my spot (uh yes sir, that is EXACTLY what I can do, especially since I paid the stupid extra $12 to be automatically checked in) we were crammed into the super hot plane. The same guy who argued ended up sitting in my row after exclaiming at my desirability that “as a skinny college student I won’t encroach in his space.” Blech. It was a completely full flight so thankfully another gentleman sat between us and I didn’t even care about his spread legs (why men, WHY?) because it meant they were spread into the other guy’s space as well. It was the most turbulent flight I have ever been on and twice I nearly thought I was going to need the sick bag. (Chipotle does not sit well in a bouncy stomach. Duly noted.)

Waiting for my dad to pick me up (I am fine with asking for a favor at 1:30 p.m.) a guy sat down next to me on the bench and pleaded with me for some money. Welcome home. I spent the rest of the rainy afternoon napping in my bed fighting off the nausea. Thankfully I planned ahead and had the whole next day off as well to acclimate back into non-vacation life (i.e. load after load of laundry and putting the rest of my closet back after tearing it all out trying to pack in a frenzy) before heading back to work. Such a wonderful trip, even if it was super short and solo. I know Baltimore has its fair share of issues, but I always look at it fondly. I think continuing to visit in good weather helps immensely.

 <any photos here were gratuitously lifted from FB. Thank you friends for being better at taking photos.>

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