Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pray for me

I just adjusted my debt payments. I am now seriously entailed until September. Sweet Jesus, what was I thinking?

Breathe, breathe, breathe. I can do this. I can do this. I can.

I need some chocolate ice cream now.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Time, time, time, see what's become of me

Sorry, I'm in a very '80s mood at present. It's been a weird two weeks. Well, week and change, it's not going to be two weeks since my last post for...three more days.

Last week was interesting. I had a few moments of surprising personal strength and growth, and came out of the whole kerfaffle feeling a bit stronger, a bit more solid within myself for it. I managed to overcome two decades of learned insecurity and actually enjoyed a bit of male attention without feeling threatened or mocked; I actually felt a bit flattered. I may have to find some low-cut blouses to repeat the experience. Well, some more low cut blouses, actually. I have at least one, obviously.

That paragraph will read strangely, but if you lived in my head, it would be perfectly reasonable to feel mocked and vaguely threatened by male attention. I was that girl in high school that everyone made fun of and the guys teased mercilessly for being ugly. I sort of gave up on men by the time I was 20, which is sad, when you think about it. This latest round of therapy has helped me come to terms with and actively mourn my past, and once one has taken their past in to themselves and embraced it, one can let it go. For once, I didn't think a verbal slap was going to follow the initial tease, and it felt nice to just...I dunno, be treated like a girl. Even if I am way past the age at which 'girl' is an appropriate descriptor. I even found myself (rather tipsily; I confess, there was a bottle of Soft Red in me well before lunchtime) thinking to myself that if that one guy, who I really have no interest in beyond the (frankly) "he flirts, he's cute, and he might do for some amusement, although I wouldn't actually date him because he's completely toxic to me, but I can see where some woman somewhere would benefit from him" sort of level of attraction had followed me into the office when I went inside to eat lunch and change out of my Goth Doxy costume (yes, it was a costume event; don't ask, just accept), I would have let him take advantage of me. An action, by the way, which would have been heartily approved of by upper management. I think I work for the only company that not only openly encourages employee relationships, but has its own eugenics program. They take pride in the marriages that they've inspired. Personally, I find it a bit depressing. If you're at the office so much that the only available dating pool is puddled around your cube, then maybe you should get out of the office more. But perhaps that's just me.

Anyway, drunk or not, thinking about a little supply closet lovin' (and not in a 'heh, yeah, that will happen--like nevar!!!1!!' but in all seriousness and, perhaps, a bit of wistfully) is a huge leap forward for me. My mental corsets are coming off, and oh, boy, I'm sure it's going to get all interesting up in here. Heh, heh, heh. I can see it all becoming a total dog's breakfast, but I'm actually enjoying the thought. My life is far, far too orderly and predictable. I need some good, old fashioned chaos to liven things up. And isn't that a strange thought for me!

So. I got to thinking again (which is dangerous in my present state of mind, which feels very, very familiar yet ever so strange) about what holds me back. What stains my pride. In order:
--my debt and living situation
--the pale flab rolls over my knees
--my absolutely abysmal cardiovascular, which all but guarantees that if I had gotten some closet lovin', it would have, of necessity, would have been brief, because I simply haven't got the endurance.

So (again.) I think to myself, Self, why not go all out? You've got a safety net (sorta) of savings, you've thisclose to paying off the Regret Debt of your 20's (but not the student loans; I'll be in my sixties before I get those paid off). If you push, absolutely beggar yourself, you can pay off those debts in four months. Anyone can do almost anything for four months! People have survived death camps for longer than four months; if they can do that, you can survive this, you big puss. And if something goes wahoonie shaped, you've got savings and/or you can always scale your payments back (although it's automated; once I set it, I'll leave it set.)

And, hey, since you won't be going anywhere and you'll be living on the food you get as part of the deal you've got with the 'rents (food and board and the occasional Starbucks hit, when Mom wants one), you can take the same four months and get into an exercise habit, too. You won't be paying to get yourself into movies, you won't be driving much (ouch), you won't be buying any yarn (yes, I've been bad and building stash--perhaps it was a nesting behavior, like pregnant women do; I built my stash because I felt the yarn drought coming on). You might as well start eating like a college student again (in as minute a quantity as you did as a student--it worked then, why not now?) and save up calories as well as cash and do the two birds one stone thing? And then in September, when you get your first unencumbered paycheck in fifteen years, go out and get some nice, new, low cut tops. You'll have a sense of pride since you've decreased both the debt and the fat rolls over the knees, you'll have increased your cardio capacity from walking/doing exercise tapes/crunching yourself into oblivion instead of shopping for yarn, and you can use the low cut tops to attract something with which to enjoy that brand new cardio capacity and maybe in your own apartment again. God, not since I made the fateful decision to go back to grad school has that thought crossed my mind!

It seems like a win-win sort of thing to me. And, the best part, it's only four months. Surely, surely, I have the nuts to do this. I read an article today that suggested that when you're doing something uncomfortable or new, instead of counting up to a date (starting on Day 1), count down to the end date (start at Day 120.) It gives you a better metric of how far you've gone, and the "down" aspect to the count encourages you to keep going, because it seems that the load is getting smaller and smaller (which it is.) Yes, it's a question of semantics, but I'm going to be living tighter than I have ever before for the next four months (starting June 10th), so I will play whatever little mind games I have to to keep myself sane. I just have to keep my eyes on the prize and keep thinking It's only four months, it's only four months and before I know it, it will be over and I'll have improved my life.

Bonus recipe: Poor Man's Soyless Stir Fry (which I just invented today. Go me! Only called "poor man's" because I used stuff I've had in the fridge for ages, so it was probably more like "Cleaning Out The Fridge Before The Stuff Goes Completely Off And Starts To Smell Rank Soyless Stir Fry", but that hasn't got the same ring)

1 chicken breast, skin on or off, whatever floats you
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (splurge on this stuff; you don't usually need this much and the bottle will last)
3 cups cooked brown rice
chopped onion, red/green/yellow peppers, chopped celery (I used the leftover and wilting pre-diced packets we used for a macaroni salad--I'd say about two to two and a half cups of diced veg in all-use whatever you prefer, but this mix gave it a more Oriental flavor)
oil for the pan (I used olive; please yourself on this, but I think it makes the balsamic a bit sweeter)

Chop your chicken breast up into bite-sized chunks and soak in vinegar until it takes on a dark color--mine went all day thawing in the vinegar, but I'd least half an hour. Cook your rice to package specs and set aside for later. Heat the oil and wilt your veggies over medium high heat in a high sided pan, stirring. Right before they get to the soft and translucent stage (call it "al dente", which is a ridiculous distinction in veggies, but it's how I think of it), toss in the chicken. Push the chicken to the bottom of the pan and bury it in the veggies (just for fun), cook until it's white all the way through while stirring (I cut open the biggest chunk in the pan to test)--this takes between 5-10 minutes. Seriously here: don't do this over high heat. The vinegar has a lot of sugar in it and it will burn. Keep it moving, keep the heat lower than absolute high. It won't take long, trust me. Remove the pan from the heat. Toss in the rice and stir to mix it all up and coat.

I swear to you, this tastes just like I remember stir fry tasting, except a little sweeter and a lot less salty. If you want the salt, go for the soy sauce, but I like the sweeter flavor of the balsamic, myself (as well as the lack of anaphylactic reaction, but again--that's just me). The celery mimics the more expensive water chestnuts, and I don't know about you, but I've always got half a pepper or two silently wilting away in my crisper drawer.

This would probably totally rock out with broccoli. Broccoli and beef (marinated in the balsamic--this makes it taste even more like soy sauce, as the beef is naturally saltier than the chicken), bigger chunks of celery (because you get bigger water chestnuts in beef stir fry; don't ask me why), and the rice. Mmm.

I'm hungry again.

Later this week: More yarn porn. I've got some new stuff, and started a new thing or two. God knows I'm going to be needing the distraction soon, very, very soon....

Friday, May 9, 2008

I'm 'live. Sorta.

Yes, yes it does. Or it cures, which is also quite possible. Both sensations are very similar.

I guess it was a summer cold, because I've been knocked on my arse for the past week. God, it's been miserable! Worse yet, around about Wednesday I was going stir-crazy from being cooped up indoors (when you're so wiped out you can hardly blow your nose, going walk about is not an option), so I asked for today off so I could just get outside already when I wasn't napping. I decided to do the multiple birds, one rock thing, so I set the following schedule: wake up at around usual time, eat a leisurely breakfast, go the the state museum to see the travelling exhibit about knitting arts, head up to our art museum, wander the grounds, take a nap, skip music lessons and then go to the symphony (ironically, I was miserably ill this past February and had to miss a show that I'd bought tickets for; I called, sounding all pitiful, and the nice ticket person had mercy on me and let me trade my ticket for tonight's show instead--which, as a non-season ticket holder, I should not have been allowed to do. I so totally <3 our orchestra people!) It went just about that way, too, which is a first. When I got to the state museum, I was pleased to note that I could take pictures, so long as I didn't use the flash. Fine by me. So I caught the gentleman above at the door (he greeted all visitors to the gallery), and then found this intriguing piece around a corner:
It's an unravelled rug. That seemed to be a theme, actually--unravelled lace, unravelled cloth, etc. Deconstruction. I'm sure it means something, but I just found it pretty.

This is a dress knit out of shredded one dollar bills (something like $800 worth), and the notes from the artist indicate he found it amusing that he could take that money, destroy it, use the remains for a completely different object and the value of the item now becomes something like 200% greater than before. Le sigh. Too bad I can't find something like that to do!

I rather liked this dress. It's like a cross between Spiderwoman and a hateful bondage gown. It looked as if it might either itch, or maybe cause rash, but perhaps that's part of the discipline process.

Outside the museum building, set into the walls, are...tiles, celebrating each county in our state. Some of them are quite clever: they're set high up on the wall, and when viewed from a distance, they make no sense. Get up close to the wall, however, and stare straight up, and suddenly, they make sense! For instance:
Say what? Looks like something unfortunate happened to a caterpillar. But from below:

Can you tell? Would it help if I noted that it celebrates our state beaches? It's a sand dune with scrubby twigs and grass growing out of it. Ha! How clever! And this wasn't the only one you had to be in a special place to appreciate. It was fun, trying to find the proper angle on each one.

This is a close up of a glass panel that was about a waterfall riddled county. I really just liked the way the glass rippled and swayed.

This was another inset I liked. I liked the ones that weren't just concrete formed and pressed, I liked the ones with color and glass and moving parts. This county has natural gas deposits. I like how they actually depicted that with blue gas. Granted, I had no clue at first what it was about. I go by the labels.

After circling the building at least one and a half times (to find them all; some were actually a bit farther away in the landscaping as opposed to on the building proper), I moved on to the art museum. I took a breather by having tea with my sister as she ate lunch, and then she offered to get me into the fashion exhibit (she's a member and can get up to six people into the pay exhibits for free.) Unfortunately, there are NO pictures in the art museum--mostly because some of the pieces belong to the museum, some are only on loan, no photos are allowed of the ones that don't belong, and there's no notes as to which are what are where. Ah, well. I'm going to have to buy the book, because some of the shapes I saw were...fascinating, and there was a shawl there--a pretty bog-standard spider pattern, but with beads at the center of each spider and a beautiful fringe. I'm inspired to both knit a shawl and maybe a corset (they figured pretty large into it, too.)

Anyway, after getting my feet back under me vis-a-vis how the galleries were set up (we just had a massive remodel), I trudged back into the gardens. There were many, many pretty pictures, but this is my favorite: *
He's a sundial. Cheerful little saying around the bottom about sunny days and being merry while ye may, which vaguely depressed me. But it's still nice sculpture.

Can you see what he's got on the string? What functions as the dial part of the sundial?
Where's little Miss Muffett when you need her?

*I know it's not really necessary, because we're all grown ups and stuff, but here's the disclaimer: I only got to take pictures of the grounds because I'm just using them for illustration, not profit. Don't steal them and use them for profit--they might start charging us to get into the museum (we have one of the largest free art museums in the world) and that would make all the poor college students in my town really pissy. And some of them are physics students, and you really, really don't want to piss a physics student off. Really.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer cold

Either that, or just rampant allergies. I have a bit of a sore throat today, and last night was wretched-- I woke up around 4 am and couldn't really get back to sleep again. I kept dozing off, but I'd wake up. It's that sort of sore throat that's more an itchy dryness than outright pain, and it's irritating. I'm trying to rehydrate today (I've been dehydrated a bit lately; I'm very bad about drinking any water and the new news articles that say you get most of your hydration needs met by eating and drinking coffee, tea and soda, despite the caffeine, have only made me less likely to actually drink H2O) and it's nasty. And it's not helping. Oh, well. Whatcha gonna do? Personally, I've got a bottle of Drambuie, a lemon and box of tea with my name on it for beddie-bye night-night time, and I'm quite looking forward to it. I might even toss a slug of fat-full milk in (my one vice...well, one among many, but it is certainly a vice in dairy terms), just for added flavor.

Can I just say that whole milk dairy is certainly a vice I can afford, unlike drinking, because hot damn, folks. Drambuie is about as expensive as I'll take my liquor, which tells you how cheap I am right there, and buying my bottle was about as painful a purchase as I'm likely to make this week? How do people afford alcoholism? Yeesh. Makes my yarn habit seem economical. At least I generally end up with something useful out of the yarn I bought (even if it is only fiber insulation), unlike cigarettes, which give you tumors that are generally more expensive to get rid of, or alcohol, which eventually kills your liver and can be expensive if you get caught DUI'ing. My vices are indeed vices, to be sure, but at least they're not entirely useless vices. Yarn, whole fat milk and dark chocolate are pretty candy-ass when it comes to vices, and I no longer feel as guilty for having them, although, I confess, I feel a bit amatuer.

I've got the kids tonight, and we're going to see Forbidden Kingdom, with Jackie Chan and Jet Li, because hot diggity dog, doesn't the phrase "Jackie Chan and Jet Li" just give you chills? It does me. If they want, I might take them to see Iron Man, which I saw on Thursday night (and still haven't recovered from the sleep deprivation). It was very good, and I say that not only because Robert Downey Jr. got his money's worth and pocket change back from his personal trainer (ooh, lawsy. That man's ass is tight) but because it was genuinely a good movie. I liked Tony Stark despite his asshatted behavior, and there's a scene where he asks his friend for help and is dismissed out of hand, and RD jr manages to show the...abandonment and disappointment in that moment, in that second, and I swear it looked like he was about to cry for a second before getting it under control. He's got some seriously expressive eyes, you know? And let's just say that particular feeling resonates strongly with me, so when it flashed across his face, I knew what he was telegraphing, and suddenly I realized how good he is as an actor. Yeah, it's a scripted moment, but he acted it in real time, and that's pretty damn impressive. Robert Downey Jr, you've lived performance art-as-real life that no one should have to go through, but I'm glad you came out the other side and I think you came out the better actor for it. Keep on doing that voodoo that you do so well, please! <\former theater student worshipping someone who does it right, but only because she knows how hard it really is>

Anyway, yeah. Last week, I took Dog for walkies. The trees are blooming like it's their job right now (oh, wait...) and the colors and light were so beautiful.... I'm going to have to get a better camera to capture the glory around me. I'm such a pretty scenery hor!

The neighbors who own these trees have a little terrier type critter that always tries to take Dog on. This amuses Dog, who gazes down on the little canine with paternal affection as he bounces around Dog's ankles with rabid hatred for All Things Bigger And Canine On MY Territory, snapping and snarling, and then he looks up to me with a bemused smile and wag as if to say, Look, Mom, isn't it cute? Let's take him home, he seems so sweet.

Dog has a finely tuned sense of irony.

I've decided I really need to get serious about getting healty. I don't have the energy to cope with anything anymore, and success in life is all about energy management. A theory I'll expound on another day, when I've got more energy. ;-) Anyway, I find myself a bit depleted this morning, so I got one of these:
Odwalla Blueberry B Monster. I love this stuff. I could mainline it, but I doubt I'd get the same level of enjoyment from it if I did, as taste is part of the joy. And I don't like needles, but whatever. It's got all sorts of fruits mushed up in it, including the titular blueberries (heh, I said titular--what, I'm tired, remember?) and some mangoes and bananas, and they add in all sorts of tasty B vitamins as well to deal with stress. I should drink this stuff by the gallon. I must be low a few vitamins, because after just one of these jobbies, I do feel a little clearer. Then again, it could also be the 32 ounces of water I just chugged. Blech. I feel dirty on the inside right now.

Oh, my ears and whiskers, look at the time! I need to get a nap in, then head off to church to do my singifying (if I can croak it out--oh, stop it, I know you can sing through post nasal drip; it's just a. not as fun, b. you can't cheat on the breath support and c. I'm tired. And have an itchy throat and some muscle soreness to boot. If I make unpleasant sounds tonight, at least I have a reason instead of just an excuse.) then trot off to grab the chitlins for dinner, a movie and home to bed/television until three am. I swear, I don't know where they get the energy....