L’Ananas

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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!

 

 

Lust-Cult

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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.

 

Fumbling Towards Adequacy

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Green grass is not that far away.  I hope we pay attention to the turn towards spring when it comes.  You only get so many Johnny Jump-Ups in your life.  So much verbena and stargazer lillies and clematis vines.  You only get so many January 12ths, as a matter of fact.  And I can’t piss and moan too much because I can wear tights and wander the streets and it’s still the dead of Winter.

I am distracted, as I have to write something romantical for the novel, or something at all for writing group which I am finally returning to.   That feels a little eerie, having left it to manage on its own and now turning up again. Mostly the displeasurable thoughts linger around driving, which is stupid, but they linger so we acknowledge them and go the fuck on anyway.  I need to write or read, and so I find myself here, fumbling towards ecstasy.  Or just adequacy.

Watching more David Bowie interviews, including one about the Internet where he seemed particularly prescient and engaging.   It’s just sad.  A lonely sadness that has to be held and batted about, encouraged, before it can fly away.

On much more physical terms, there’s something oddly pleasing about having the period-tracking app Clue notify you that “You appear to be late” (I am paraphrasing. I don’t think they accuse you, the period-haver, of any particular failing) as it has decided it thinks I need to bleed (like a modern day witch-doctor appraises you for a good leeching) and a few hours later, be able to spit in its metaphorical eye.  Yes, I press into the screen, my endometrial fluid is punctual as fuck, so don’t go around second-guessing it.

The State of the Union.  In another heavy lump on the pile of things that will no longer be, I thought it was really a nice speech.  We still have the year left, but it’s sad and exhilarating to realize that we were given eight years of a President of such intelligence and good intent.  Who knows what the future will bring – aside from

Exercise.  It’s going well, in that it is going.  It’s strange to be able to do the same ten situps and feel like it is simpler to do them.  Less fight, both in the doing and in the willingness to do them.  It has the ease of muscle memorization, a motion down by rote.  Not so well-known and practiced that it isn’t a challenge, I just find my body able to assume the position, ahem, without fussing and mewling and rationalizing skipping a day.  I have taken away the question of whether or not I will do it and that seems to make all the difference.  I don’t think this means I have lost weight, or even if I will, but I am alert now to why it could never possibly work before.  That pizza I love, that fills my stomach so well, that I could eat day in and out – 800 calories.  Meant for two people.  After 12 days of trying to pay attention, it’s harder to eat as much, and it’s easier to stop myself.

I have this whole other thing to say, but I am tired and done and those both mean I should stop.

The Cant-ery

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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.

 

 

Punky Brewster

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Feelin’ kind of punky tonight.   I have lost 0 weight this first week.  In so doing, I have failed nothing.  I want to lose it as a concept a few percentage points more now, just organically, by keeping up these habits and knowing I have more effort left in store to give this.

Went to the Texas Roadhouse and did mostly as was intended, mostly.   That fucking bottomless bread that has some sort of hidden sweetness in it that I don’t even like.  It was really nice, though, that we were all able to talk like a human family together.  A bit irritable about something work-related (on a Saturday, too!) that is not immediately resolvable (is this a word?), and feeling just funny and punky and lonely and weird.   Writing things other than this really poorly, but enjoying the fact that I can do it even when the Crone and all her nodding retinue swears that I can’t.  That I’m blocked and locked up and don’t know my characters, when I do.  Bitches, I know them so terribly well they’ve been tattooed on me for aeons.

I am caught up on A Chef’s Life.  Tomorrow: soup.   I continue to read my third book of the year (happens to be Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – feel a bit like someone distilled my most optimistic, empathetic, romantic regards for writing and I’m not sure if I taste the saccharine in it or if I’m just being a punk.   Have had some positive self-thoughts today, tried to be sarcastic, but this time the disingenuity was wholly on the part of the jerkface parts of me.  I kept thinking nice things.  I should stop before I end up believing them.

Figuring out that as soon as I want something to happen and I stop with my bullshit and get after it, I can have it.  It is basically tantamount to just needing to turn my head to the left.  Not even figuring that out, I know that much, just realizing the whole fucking psychological ping pong game my life is. Yearning being slapped back by vulnerability being slapped back by over-defensiveness being slapped back by desire being backhanded by shame.  Can we just sit still a moment, please?  One person, under her own power, indivisible.

Tonight’s soundtrack:

1.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PinTAGbIsV4
2.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYvmhpIRmoM
3.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SyBR-M2YvU

+300 story words.

Wherein Ingrid Bergman Gets Real Positive About Life

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Fridays are good days to get listy.

  • I am feeling good because it’s Friday, and because I started on the road to take care of something work-related – other steps are not mine to take – but I did as was asked of me even though I was pretty anxious about it.  Mostly because anything under the sun has the potential to make me anxious, but yeah, it was tackled today, it was not left to rot over the weekend.
  • Sometimes I feel like I should do hardcore low-carb, but it doesn’t teach me how to live, how to chill the fuck out about food and how not to allow it to be a sedative. Right now, I feel as though even if I’m not eating all the vegetables I might or even if I’m eating a fair bit more sodium than I should, I  have awareness of it.  Like I am aware of the fact that the restaurant we’re going to tomorrow – Texas Roadhouse (we have a gift card and are taking the parents) – has a brownie on the menu. Eh, I like brownies.  I eat that brownie, I’m not breaking a rule, I’m not “naughty” or “failing” – but I am eating 800 calories.  800 calories! And my body would slow down to a crawl to process that and I would go drifting into a sugar coma and I’d lose the rest of the weekend.  It doesn’t have to be that way anymore!  Tracking – even after the fact – is just helping me learn the impacts of the habits I already have so that as I gently course correct, I want to do more.  I want to win the day by eating a bit less than I might have, not prowling the kitchen when I might have, not picking the fattiest, heaviest thing on the menu with this defeated attitude that it is the only thing that would make me happy.  I don’t want to feel defeated by eating under 20 carbs for weeks and weeks and not getting anywhere and then saying fuck it all, and not daring to look at the scale for another six months.  That does get you somewhere – 20 pounds away from where you started and having to cobble together enormous force to start dieting.  Instead, I am tracking, getting on the bike for 10 minutes of physical activity, doing 10 situps, and reiterating my business to myself over and over so I know this is what I’m working towards.  I want to be free.  I don’t want to be beholden to patterns of food or being made to feel okay through food anymore. So I’m probably not going to order the brownie.  I’ve been able to keep up these things so far this year and I feel good about that.
  • And tomorrow, instead, for dinner, we’ll try cauliflower soup with creme fraiche.  I can do all sorts of magic shit you don’t even know I can do.
  • I’ve finished 2 of the 52 books I aim to finish reading this year.  Mindy Kaling’s Why Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? which I liked, but didn’t love.  I would get close to relating to her, close to finding it hilarious, close to delightful, but in the end, not really.  Sorry! Ah well, on to the next one.

On to tomorrow!

That’s Pretty Dang Good

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Strange how even making tiny life changes does sort of give you a bit of a hangover.  I didn’t drink at New Year’s this Year and today I feel like I blacked out – possibly for the past 10 days.  A head and neckache to beat the band. Strawberry red in the face for no apparent reason.  Precious.

Melodramatic? Yes.  True…eh, possibly?

Today has been a mentally manic sort of day. Reliving the halcyon days of watching Radio Free Roscoe live, thinking about how much I love Loreena McKennitt, continuing to play an excessive amount of Sims 3, needing to play Dragon Age and allowing lovely shippy, spoilery YouTube videos to suffice, put my can on the seat for 10 minutes on the bike that I am going to have to work hard to not allow to keep me up all night (last night, I must report, went really poorly as a result and I gotta be doing this earlier – I thought it was cool, but it wasn’t, omg, it wasn’t), laid down on the floor and did 10 situps despite reading some new report that suggests they are destroying your body, logging my embarrassing food choices on MyFitnessPal, getting a delightful shitton of information and recipes for my new food processor including stir-fried grated sweet potatoes, working hard and enjoying working hard on good ol’ Bookerie McBooken, finally turning the phone back on and hearing from the boss and not learning that the sky has fallen.  Maybe it has, but we don’t have to do that whole stressing so hard we practically bite our tongue off when we sleep thing anymore.  At least not tonight.  We have two more sleeps till Reality Bites and instead of hunkering down, I’m enjoying who I am right now, outside of all of that.

Things are happening, but it’s not all the things.  It doesn’t have to be ALL THE THINGS.  I can’t be.  I feel the desire to do more than I am doing which is such a nicer feeling than constantly being let down by not being able to all or nothing my life.  You are not a letdown when you’re imperfect, you’re dead-on human and you’re worth recognizing for turning up.

People laugh at that, but it’s one of those laughs where you respond because it touches truth.

+139 random story words from editing and futzing on the novel.