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 say...at 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....

1 comment:

Marigold said...

Yay for you! living like a college student sounds like a great idea, especially if it's just four months (I would hate to do it for longer than that...i remember the no cars, no eating out, no movie days, too). and the "company eugenics" had me rolling on the floor :)