The Abbess of Barking

pexels-photo-47221

A quick missive from the girl who did NOT die…

I didn’t take the vitamins yesterday and stopped OD’ing on clementines.  The feet again…feel better.  Zero idea if that is at all related. Not perfect.  But also not all Icy-Hot.  There was a bit of extra walking around Union Station that was required today and the time spent searching the grocery store aisles and it never got to the point where I thought, oh, shit.  It was just, it’s there, but it’s less.

I still feel weird like there must be something coming at me, cold-wise, but it can’t seem to find a purchase.  I so rarely get sick which is why that Italy experience feels like such a good comparison.

I don’t know.  Maybe it’s all psychosomatic and reflective of a desire to…I don’t know.  Stay? Go?  I will keep you and myself posted.  I can’t help but do that much.

Since I don’t have to spend the evening thinking entirely about how near I am to the edge of everything (closer to and further away ye olde Ravine as always), I can say that I am going to figure out exercise.  I have tracked pretty carefully.  I have put some vegetables into my person.  I am going to do more than nothing, both on the bike and in terms of the novel.

I have accidentally fallen into a brief moment of Chaucerian remembrance.

….

Do the work, do the work, don’t drift off or away.  This year is a year about something more than lying in wait.  Rather than stand still and waiting for the worry to blow over, I can do something more than nothing.  It doesn’t have to be the way it always was.

I am really comfortable eating a lot less, calorie-wise, than I would have thought.  I am comfortable tabulating out the fact that I can have 3/4 of a cup of ice cream and that’s it and eating it out of the measuring cup and feeling full and not pushing and scrunching to get a few more bites in.  I am comfortable not aching to eat out every night.  Mostly, for me, I think this is happening by making sure that I know that I can.  Not every night, but it’s there, accessible.  It’s not under lock and key and you naughty girl anymore. Bread and chocolate and pizza are not these exalted, magical goods that fix things.  Well, they are, but only if you actually exalt them.  If you actually ceremonialize them and revere them and make them special and allow them to fully invoke memory and nostalgia.

We don’t, or at least, I don’t do that.  It’s just stuffing yourself.  It’s just staving off loneliness with chemicals.  It’s just eating to keep yourself quiet and slow.  To stop wanting or wishing or feeling.  There’s no limit to what you need for such a particular magic as that and there’s no final word to that spell.

But the magic it can do, if you let it, acknowledge these properties, is it can make you feel connected to a long line of bakers and makers.  To kitchen witches and those who made a craft of meals.  Sometimes, when I make something in the kitchen that has that certain je ne sais quoi, that I’ve hung over and experimented with and learned from, I feel the power of creativity and nourishment.

I gotta stop fearing food and this year, I think, is, in part, about that.

Tomorrow, I want to feel better than today.

Sugar Sugar

food-colorful-dessert-sweet

It’s a snow day or it was.  I am glad and grateful, but thrown.

I have a few projects left to complete – they’re both work and personal so dallying seems like a poor choice right now.  Not terrible for not really getting started until noon.  Those early morning texts when you’ve stayed up until 2a.m. the night before unable to turn off or stop listening to some genealogy-based show or calm down after seeing some gross shocker image that was tagged as clickbait on some innocuous blog content.  I won’t go into details because I’m glad that I’ve only dwelled on how sick it looked aggressively four or five times today.  Last night I could barely think of anything else.  Fun.

So, yes.  Snow, of some margin, turned up and made the boss lady decide that we should not make the trek in to work.  Then, as it always does when you’ve a day off unexpectedly, the roads warm and start to melt off and you wonder if you couldn’t have just made it and if it would have been worthwhile to just force yourself.  It wasn’t my choice, though, and it wasn’t my call.  No hooky for me.  So I am doing my level best to be responsive to the boss and do the work I brought home in case exactly what happened did.

Yes.  I realize it’s 9p.m. when I’m starting to contemplate this.  I think this is good for me who would, more likely than not, just close my brain to the fact that I was stressing and wanted to get a leg up to reduce stress and add to my own crap pile.  I did, though, talk to the boss and had a productive and positive conversation and sent her what she wanted after spending a good hour doing the necessary re-calculations.

I know I would have felt terrible shame before about not having this already done.  But I didn’t and now I do and that is so much better than trying to just not think about things.  Address your shit, heal thyself and whatnot!

Since there was snow and snow and me have this friendly little agoraphobic situation going on, there wasn’t much plan to run out and do the grocery store shopping I need to do.  Instead, leftovers, exercise bike, tracking, not giving up, etc.  It was good.  The Lean Cuisine chicken tetrazzini thing was not good, but the not really needing food to do more than food does today was great.

I made this recipe  in the microwave – it’s a chocolate mug cake.  I was way under on calories so I thought this would be a good way to keep myself from prowling around our rather bare cupboards looking for trouble.  A little chocolate tempest in a teacup.  I might add more sugar next time, probably less cocoa, but good.

Um, right.  I have angst, of course, there’s boy stuff in my brain.  There’s novel writing that has been tabled that I will get back at.  There’s a Galentine’s Day party.  There’s a lot more than nothing.

When Bertha Mason Loved a Man

pexels-photo-38990I am well and truly in the grips of Saturday’s fugue state. It is snowing, sincerely, which is Colorado for you as I was traipsing around regretting my coat this afternoon. In the out of doors, in fact. Yes. We took a brisk walk with the dog who is always eager to join us and it was possibly seventy degrees. We went over hill and dale, or at least 2 miles out and back in the little suburban development that newly adjoins my parents’ now old growth suburban development, and my legs are noting the difference between stomping around to exercise videos and treading pavement. It was good. It’s one of those things where you feel really excited about having done it despite while you’re doing it, contemplating every few moments about stopping and laying down in the street.

I also left my phone charger in the car and I’ll have to figure out how much I want to have that tomorrow – is it worth braving the snow? It always has to be something idiotic. Just to keep my feet on the ground. Just so I don’t get ahead of myself.

After a questionable session with the scale this morning, I’ve deduced that I have lost 3 pounds. PROBABLY. I can feel those 3 pounds, but the feeling that this isn’t enough is certainly present. If I were doing low-carb it might be double that. But all I can do is be gracious to it, and say three is better than zero if I can sustain it. If it doesn’t rely on me having a specific shake, or making this specific OCD ritual of a two-week behavior that is unrelated to my actual life, maybe I can see it as actual change.

If I don’t feel deprived or relegated to specific layers of the food pyramid, maybe I can handle telling myself no when I want everything and everything now. Stopping myself in eating situations has been a bit easier, I’ve noticed. Like I could eat a certain amount of ice cream that I’ve budgeted for and I can, put the container back in the freezer fairly close to that point. Not perfect, but I can lay down my weapons of choice and bli I want to see what a year of doing this means to my body. Is it going to just be 3 pounds. I don’t don’t know, but I doubt it. This was also a month with birthday cake, pizza, restaurant food, unexpected calorific meals and me just seeing if this was even possible.

I think it is.

I’ve been good on the food. My chicken thigh ably fed me this evening with this little garlic butter sauce over rice with green beans and carrots. I think I’ve kept within the margins as best I can. I am earnestly trying.

Now I am doing what I can to relax into the few hours before some hairy, scary work days and the hairy, scary place my brain can sometimes choose to be. It’s okay. We’re talking on Twitter about negative self-image and it’s sort of amazing to be walking what feels like the most isolated path and it turns out we’re all headed somewhere together. We just have to decide where that’s going to be.

I’d like to suggest, scary and hairy though it is, that we aim for up.

L’Ananas

art-water-1545399-1279x1917

I don’t know.  If I’m honest about it, it feels weird.  But one of those weirds that is based in curiosity and interest and the unsettled feeling running through me is foreign, but not unwelcome.  This is the second day – it’s not even enough of a trend to feel like it might take root into a habit.

I used to think I would exercise more if it made me feel something other than discomfort.   I don’t know why today, as I was traipsing around my bedroom to an oddball playlist and a muted Leslie Sansone 2-mile walk, I thought..this feels good.  And then, out of the surprise of that, I thought back through the general sense of exercise experiences in my life.  Most of them have been fraught with the same kind of fear that informs my driving/life anxiety and panic.  I recall some gym class where we asked to do situps and other physical activities and needed to do a particular number in a stipulated amount of time.  Running a mile in fifteen.  I would come face to face with these tests and find my muscles shivering.  I thought there was something really fucked up with me.  Everyone else could do it and my stomach shook and got stiff and refused to pull me up.  I remember this as scary, as shaming, as embarrassing.  Just don’t do it and the feeling stops.  The fluttering, elevated heart rate needed to be slowed – nobody can live at that speed! The idea that you just needed to strengthen the muscle didn’t occur to me and no one mentioned that I was fine, I just needed work a bit more and strengthen up.  My body was, and is, this traitorous pedestal for my thoughts.  Pushing it to do more risked it turning off all together.  Not unlike Amelie’s incorrect and uninformed diagnosis from her father that she had an irregular heartbeat and that exertion was a potentially fatal risk, I decided for myself that I didn’t have a body meant for full bore living.

I don’t imagine this is a unique experience – being shaped by the first sensation that your body is different and doesn’t necessarily behave the way everyone else’s does.  I do think that my reaction might be a bit off the bell curve.  Over the years, I’d pick up exercise programs and throw myself into them with no premeditation.  When I got lightheaded doing something gentle like yoga, I thought, stupidly, viscerally, out of the powerful, out of whack pituitary that it reinforced the truth.   Then, my self-identified Emily Dickinson-inspired writerhood has no room in its mythos for sweaty armpits and

Exercise can’t be fun if you’re doing it on a knife’s edge.  If it’s an all or nothing proposition of skinny, rock-hard muscles training for marathons that would explode your heart with its intensity or laying very still and waiting for death…I thought for a long time that, by necessity, by logical standards, I had to pick the latter every time. Nobody was putting that choice in front of me, but that’s how I saw it.

Today…did not feel that way.    Today’s half an hour felt bouncy and buoyant and let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!  That 30 minutes felt the same as ten.  I felt like I could keep going.  It felt like a brief, natural high where all my worries and griefs could be shifted to one side.

And we have another walk planned in an hour or two for the dogs and I feel fine about that.   More walking means, I think, more ice cream and dried apples and more of whatever I eat for dinner after this morning’s lengthy attempt to make huevos rancheros needlessly complicated.

And writing! There’s time and energy to write now.  I feel several percentage points clearer in my skull.

This is good! Remember this when tomorrow I’m made of custard and hate everything.  Remember this when I can’t remember my ability to crawl out of bed.

I am always trying to measure and control and reduce excessive excitement.  If I start believing in something, especially related to my own dreams and influence over them, it’ll boil over and come to nothing.  I miss the bubbling.  The OH SHIT, this is possible.  I keep doing this, I give myself more security over my health, not less.  My little year-end secret knickers project for myself becomes more viable.

Come here with me, into my little teapot.  Here there is a roaring tempest and the storm cries: It’s good! It’s good! It’s good!

 

 

Merry as a Grig

pexels-photo (1)

I know I need to write on the novel.  I do, I do, I do, or at the very least start editing a few other things, having some word fun.  The Faithful Light (i.e. the very cleverest, most loyal part of my inner eye that watches all and guides towards higher ground) said today that it is only doing the work that will save you, not the dreaming of doing the work.

So I heard her, but I have applied it in a different arena today and have tracked food, eaten a little that felt like a lot (still have room for some ice cream, caffeinated ice cream which I don’t need), and have done a little in-home cardio for 30 minutes rather than the baseline 10.  Also, it appears that I have nearly (.8) lost the first pound of the however many I end up losing and leaving lost.  Almost wish it was frameable and could be stuck on the wall to remind me.

But it’s not even a whole dollar’s worth of a pound yet.  And who can say what my body will do as I collar it and yank it around the exercise pen.  There’s always push-back.  There’s always stress headaches and skipping food and long days rather than three day weekends and food cooked for you to fuck it up.  It will happen.  But today, today was grand for its clarity.  Also washed all the pots and pans and watched a bit of The Tribe, so I feel well sated for intentional living.

As shitty as yesterday was, we boomerang around to feeling alright.  Thinking about my birthday coming up.  Happy about it, actually, because I’m both working on myself so I’m not Queen of the Slugs, and because I’m free to enjoy it.  Actually enjoy it and not have to consider how much I have to pinch and cut to make it “justified,” or insisting that I was going to throw caution to the wind and just gorge myself.  Now, it’s just going to be a nice day and I’ll read on it and write on it and dance on it and sing on it and possibly cry and mope on it and it won’t be catastrophe.

So long as I get my dutch oven.

Alright.

2102

+300 story words.

 

Lust-Cult

skull-2-1311009-1279x1705

Learning about when British women could get drinks from a pub.  The answer is currently unclear.  Probably never.  This may mean I need to rewrite something.  Not sure.  Displeased by historical accuracies.

Feeling like a beast that skulks the frozen wastes at the same time I feel like Betty Homemaker, skulking the frozen internet for Huevos Rancheros recipes that have calorie counts.  Fuck, sometimes I am over myself.  I find myself annoyed by every possible direction my brain wants to run out of this briar patch.  Language is failing me.

It is a nice impulse to cry.  To reach towards a catharsis rather than shrug it off.   There’s been such death, such dark spectres, the feeling of winter if not the weather hanging low and close to me of late.  Enough that I want to throw everything out the airlock and, not even start fresh…not even start anything until I can know for certain it won’t curdle under my attentions.

I can work my way out of this.  Might just have to get on the bike.  Those ten minutes are nothing, probably, if you’re asking for giant weight loss leaps, but they are, also, precious.  Vital and restorative. Every time I haul myself up on the seat, I am proving that I can do more than nothing.  Something more than sitting in my own despair and circular thinking.

Today – I noticed – and I only noticed because I was tracking that I ordered way less than I normally do from Panera and I felt more full than I usually do.   I also figured out that the low-fat mango smoothie I like is so goddamned sugary that it should be illegal.  At least in terms of what I’m trying to watch.  And that a clementine is often sufficient dessert for me.   They’re perfectly ripe right now, as good as any candy.  I used to hate it when people would say that, but it’s true.  All I wanted to be able to do was track and I’m doing that!

Alright.  Endorphins are bubbling up.  I’ve been amused by a few clever people on the internet.  I’ve gathered a bit of a sense of my own reckless frustration not getting me anywhere and I do, actually, want to go so somewhere.  Breathe, the Faithful Light tells me. Now that I have stopped banging pots and screaming, I can hear her clearly.  It is not horror! to have a dental appointment in a month.  It is not DEVASTATION to have to re-write this scene in one way or another – I’m smart enough to figure that one out.  It is not the deepest, most seismic desolation that will cause me to evolve.  It is the tiniest of the tiny earthquakes.  You don’t even feel the shift, but you keep shaking.

Okay.  Okay.  Enough.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll stop, but I haven’t stopped today.

….

No more rhapsody.  It was funny.  The fact the boss called me to laugh that she had figured out why the skin on her feet was so dry.  The creepy delight I am taking in a Twitter joke and some YouTube videos.  Eddie Izzard.  You laugh or you revert into the primordial muck.

 

The Cant-ery

orange-kitty-1388816-639x708

The unending allure of cat fluff.

Ack! Okay, mes amis, the day is coming to a close and I have yet to get any legitimate writing done.  I will not rush this – I am always rushing about at eleven o’clock in the evening and I have to wonder if it isn’t an unhealthful thing to do.  There is plenty of time to write five hundred words and put some sort of substance in them.

Like cauliflower.  I found myself with a head of cauliflower and this oddball taste for cauliflower soup.  This is not something we grew up with, so I can’t claim it was a craving borne out of nostalgia.  Perhaps some evening I watched them making it on America’s Test Kitchen, I’m not sure.  Wherever it came from, it coincided with a craving for creme fraiche.  Obviously, (obviously?), I didn’t grow up with fancy ingredients in 99% of our meals.  Eating something like a caper or a pate always took place with a little dose of suspicion because you just never could tell.  Growing up, in fits and starts, I’ve expanded that palette so that now and again I’ll buy an ingredient just because I know it makes everything taste better than the blue-collar, factory-frozen, salted to oblivion, prepackaged food that typifies my diet.  Just for kicks.  But I didn’t really have a plan for it.

The recipe took care of both of them in one quick stock pot.  It’s essentially, cooking up some onions and garlic with butter and olive oil and another ingredient I consider to have cache – a goddamned bay leaf, before adding 3 cups of stock.  I used water and added the bouillon-type stock starter powder I have.  Brought it all to a boil and then added the chopped up head of cauliflower.  Cooked that on a heavy simmer for half an hour, used a magical immersion blender and suddenly, thick, velvety soup.  Added in a few dollops of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of dill and I felt like, I don’t know, the Barefoot Contessa?  I’ve seen it done with leeks as well, and would like to try that.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked leeks.

The official recipe is here: http://www.theharriedcook.com/2011/05/cauliflower-soup-with-creme-fraiche.html and the lovely photos on that blog are not unlike my effort at all, which made me pretty happy.

Not eating breakfast and having this for lunch with a ton of bread and then a ricey, soupy, chicken for dinner with cheese is not making my daily totals look great.   But I have to feel much better that the calories for today all came from kitchen experimentation and not out of a paper bag with Chipotle written on the side.  I did my ten minutes, I did my situps, I didn’t lose focus.  So, booyah.

And then! Then! Skyping with the absolute lovelies about Seattle which is shaping up to look just like what I need (I can’t say I need a vacation after just coming back from 2 weeks off, but I think come May, I will need just this –  a plane ride and an adventure on the horizon.  A short-term goal for head, heart and the canister that hauls them both about.