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Why I (Still) Love Skechers Shape Ups

18 May

Look, people, simmer down…  I’m so over all the brouhaha this week about Skechers Shape Ups.  They lied!  Everyone who bought them was duped!  They look silly!

Everyone’s up in arms over the the fine slapped onto the Skechers company by the FTC regarding their (admittedly ridiculous) advertising claims that the shoes would do everything from improving posture to magically kickstarting your metabolism into melting those nasty pounds away.

And – shocker! – they used Kim Kardashian to lie for them!

Look, people, if anyone thinks there’s truth in advertising…  Well, let’s just say I have some oceanfront property to sell you in Nebraska.  It’s got a fabulous private beach too.

Come on, people…  I’m a size 16.  Even when I work out consistently and watch every single thing that I eat, and lose a grand total of three inches…  I’m still a size 16.  It happens.  My body is happy there.  The last time I was at the doctor for a physical, she said I was quite healthy, thank you very much.

The point is that anyone who is my size and shape who thought that they were going to get to look like Kim Kardashian just because they bought a pair of shoes is not only gullible but stupid.  There is no magic pill for weight loss.  Let me reiterate this: no magic pill.

Would it be nice if every company that sold a product did so completely without embellishing?  Of course it would.  In my own business I am completely above board and up front.  I make it a point of pride to do so.  Most small business owners are the same.  But when it comes to big corporations, I kind of figure that someone, somewhere, is probably lying.

That’s how you make the big bucks, people.

It’s also why I don’t ever plan to go multinational corporation with my company.

But getting back to my point…

Oh yes.  Why I (still) love my Skechers Shape Ups.

Because I totally do.

I own four pairs right now.  I’ve worn holes in three others.  I wear them for long work days, schlepping wedding supplies.  I wore them on vacation – walked upwards of 50 miles in them – and adore them.

Yup.  I bought Skechers Shape Ups.  More than once.  I’ll continue to buy them too, despite the advertising, um, miscues.

Because that funny little rounded back on the shoes?  It’s done a lot for me.  And made my walking a heck of a lot better.

You see, when I was ten years old, I stepped in a gopher hole during PE at school.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I broke my ankle.  I also apparently aggravated some already-relatively-loose tendons.  I stayed off my foot for a week or two, thinking it was sprained (yup, thanks mom for NOT taking me to the doctor to get that ankle checked out!).  And then went on my merry 10-year-old-tomboy way.  Back to volleyball practice.  And soccer at lunch.  And running around the playground like a hooligan.

And every few months I’d step on that ankle in just the right way.  And it would give way.  Wrench to the left or right, painfully rolling, twisting, and tearing.  It would swell to bowling-ball size.  I’d ice it, elevate it, stay off it.  Or limp around like an idiot in heels, trying to make sure my job got done (oh yes, I recall very well the day of the Yo Yo Ma concert downtown when I didn’t bring any flats with me and had to limp around for three hours straight).  I’d deal with that for almost twenty years before a doctor (finally!!!!) sent me to physical therapy for it.

I went diligently for months, learning to balance on a balance ball, building up my strength in the ankle.  It’s just a bad tendon, they think, but every time it twists, it gets weaker.  Still, there are things I can do.  Exercises.  It helps.  I still do them.  But the thing is, the tendons can’t really be strengthened.  Only babied.  Eventually they figure I’ll have to get surgery to fuse together the bones.

Let’s just say that’s not a good option for me.

I have to admit that I probably would not have tried the Skechers Shape Ups had a friend not told me that her mother’s doctor recommended them for ankle stability.  I’d seen the commercials.  I thought they were stupid (I still do).  They actually turned me off buying the shoes which…  I’ll stop short of saying, “the shoes that have changed my life,” but they’ve come close.

I remember thinking, “How the heck can a pair of shoes improve your stability?” and also, “Ugh, now I’ll look like all those stupid people who wanted a tight butt from the commercials…” but I went to my local Big 5 and tried them on.

And they felt…  Very strange.

I’m a toe walker by nature.  It’s part of the reason my ankles were unstable (probably the biggest reason, actually).  So to have these (big, heavy) heels on these shoes felt… Unnatural.

But I tried them.  I consciously walked heel-first in them.  Rock-step, rock-step.  It felt kind of nice.  Awkward.  But nice.  I was sure I looked like a clown with big strange shoes on my feet.  But hey, I could feel my ankle engaging with every step.

So I bought them.

A day or two later they didn’t feel so awkward.  I learned how to walk properly in them.  Because my heel was making contact with the ground first – subconsciously, once I figured out how to use them – I had very little chance of twisting my ankle.

Do I still?  Of course.  I’m a klutz.

But it’s rare that I’m just walking, in my Shape Ups, around the house or the office or the block, and stumble for no reason.  I used to do that a lot.  I’d just be walking, on a perfectly flat surface, and – BOOM! – I’d twist my ankle horribly and be in pain for a week or more.  Now, if my ankle wrenches, it’s because I was running, or I didn’t see an uneven patch of ground, or I wasn’t in my Shape Ups.  Because I still walk toes-first in my other flats.  I’ve tried to train myself but it’s my natural way to walk.  Which is why I like that it feels very strange in Shape Ups, which forces me to walk the way other people do – heels first.

These shoes are good for me.

And about all the claims of how they’d make you lose weight?  Meh.  They’re about as founded as the late-night infomercials that claim to have the latest fat busting exercise machine that you only have to use for five! minutes! a day!  I do actually feel like there are certain muscles that are more toned since I started wearing them – and I can definitely feel said muscles at the end of a long day wearing my shoes – but there’s not really a good measurement for that.  And since I’m pretty much always going to be a size 16, I’m not too worried about it.

I’m just really happy these shoes exist.

So everyone who’s been badmouthing Skechers and Shape Ups wearers, can you please lay off?!?  Not everyone who bought them was duped by the company.  Not everyone who bought them actually bought into the claims that they’d make you drop a zillion dress sizes in a week.  And some people actually really find them to be good shoes.  Gimmicks aside.  These shoes actually made a difference in my life.  Not the one they claimed to make.  But a difference nonetheless.  I plan to wear them for a really, really long time.  I hope they keep making those funny-looking shoes forever.  Because I love them.  Still.


What a Difference…

30 Nov

A few years make.

Looking through old photos yesterday really drove home the point.  It seems like I just blinked, but really it’s been almost a decade since I graduated from college.  Do you know how old this makes me?  Actually if you don’t… Don’t do the math.  It’s depressing.

I don’t usually feel older than the students I advise (especially if I’m watching what I eat – gluten is still a HUGE irritant).  Oh, I can see it around the eyes.  And in my friends’ gray hairs (I don’t have any, but only because I pull them out when I see them).  But I still feel like I’m nineteen or twenty inside.  I watch shows like Glee and listen to songs from my college years and think fondly of being a young adult.  There are times when I walk around campus and can just feel the energy of those students, the overwhelming IMPORTANCE of everything.

Growing up, I always thought it was the way things were.  You grew old enough and went to high school and college accordingly, got a job, got married, and had kids.  By 23, I was sure, I’d be a mom.  That was so old.  Of course I met my now-husband when I was just shy of 24.  I barely had a date before I was 23.  No, really.  I mean, I had a boyfriend from the end of high school into college, but between his moving out of state and my being totally not ready to be physical…  Not that it should be an imperative in any relationship, but he was.  Ready, that is.  Not that we ever talked about it.  Oh no.  He just found someone who was.  Before breaking up with me.  Yup, he sort of forgot that step for a few months.

I can joke about it now (and actually accepted his friend request on Facebook a few months ago and have appreciated reconnecting with him, since we were actually friends before dating), but I remember so well that phone call, two days before my nineteenth birthday.  By the end of it, and for days afterward, I was a blubbering mess.  Sobs wracked my body whenever I’d think of it.  I don’t think I did anything but sing sad songs and think to myself that I’d never find anyone.  I don’t think marriage actually held the same meaning then as it does now.  I think it was more of the Disneyfied ideal of riding off into the sunset together that I was after, but darnit, I was supposed to marry that boy!

Again, perspective is everything.  He joined the Army after college (in fact he was in college on an ROTC scholarship).  Two years after he broke up with me, September 11th happened, and he fought in the Middle East multiple times, and had we still been together, I’d have spent the next decade or so with my heart in my throat.  Oh yeah, and moving from state to state with his various Army deployments.  At eighteen, the concept of moving every few years while your husband is on deployment doesn’t sound so bad.  It might even be romantic to have to write letters back and forth (remember, this was before we were in a war, so there wasn’t much of a real danger).  Now?  I know I’d never have been happy.  My parents drove me crazy as a teenager, but as an adult I can barely go a few weeks without stopping by to see them.  Not to mention that I go nuts when I’m without my husband for a single evening (if he’s working late, or when he went to Las Vegas for his brother’s birthday, for example).  I’m a homebody, and I like being settled.  I want a house I can be in for the next few decades.  Not for a year or two.

The next New Year’s Eve was Y2K, and I remember very vividly going to Mount Soledad with my high school best friend (a boy, and before you ask, no, we never dated) and talking about how this was the decade we’d conquer the world.  We still thought it was a given that once we got to a certain point everything would just fall into place, and we were convinced we’d find our spouses and start having kids before 2010.  I was sure I’d start dating a ton, soon.  I was over my ex, I thought, and after all, wasn’t that what you did in college?

I actually didn’t have a single date in college, though, at least not after my ex broke up with me.  I kept myself busy, but more than that I was always with my college best friend (who also happened to be a guy).  It didn’t occur to me until about 2 months ago (literally; I was walking on campus and the thought struck me) that there was probably a good reason that neither of us got dates in college.  People totally thought we were together.

Not that we didn’t actually get told – multiple times, by just about everyone – that we should date.  Our friends joked that we were an old married couple anyway, so why didn’t we?  I even tried to wrap my mind around it once (after college, when a mutual friend started dating her best friend – who she’s married to now!).  The idea made me physically ill, and I actually called him on the phone to tell him so (sorry M).  He was offended for a minute, but then started thinking about how weird that would be, and agreed.  Incestuous, even.  I’d do anything for him and I love him like the brother I never had, and I think he’s a handsome guy.  But…  Just…  No.

It’s funny, though, because we easily spent as much time together as any couple.  So it’s not surprising that people would assume that’s the way we felt about each other.  We just didn’t.

We both had crushes on other people during college, though, and I remember us both making fools of ourselves on more than one occasion about them.  Actually both of us made fools of ourselves at the same time about the same person on more than one occasion – one would try to be the wingman for the other and end up looking just as foolish.  We thought we were cool, of course.

My major crush in college was a great match for me – similar experiences and interests, incredibly sweet and highly involved in student leadership.  I was so star struck.  More than once I almost asked him out, but I lost my nerve every time.  Which was probably for the best, since he was probably more interested in my (male, remember!) best friend than in me.  Which was totally ok.  Except that I was sooooo clueless that it took me almost two years to figure it out.  Poor guy probably felt like I was totally stalking him.

After college I had one good guy-filled year.  I mean, I wasn’t exactly Miss Popular – and more than once I ended up in my car blubbering about how I’d never find anyone.  But the more I think about it, I had plenty of guys interested in me, including one who saw me from afar and had his friend come and check if I was single.  It’s funny actually, thinking back on how bleak things looked.  Of course I was still clueless.  It was an overarching trait, and one I actually find is pretty normal to have in your late teens and early twenties.  Even when that guy’s friend asked if I was single, it took me at least 10 minutes to understand.

It took me years, actually, to realize that one boy in particular was actually interested in me at the same time I was interested in him.  Oops.  I tried so hard to suss out his feelings, and to get through his naturally-shy outer shell, and I actually did a decent job overall, even getting him to buy me a drink once.  He was actually the subject of a lot of blubbering.  I thought he’d never like me, and I’d never find anyone.  It wasn’t until many, many years later, and based on more information than I had at the time, that I realized he probably felt the same way.  Okay, probably minus the blubbering.  We’d have made a terrible couple.  He’s an amazing guy, but is better with plants and trees…  And I’m way too much of a social butterfly for him!

I got introduced to a friend of a friend that same year, when I was 23, actually, and while he made it pretty obvious that he was interested in me, he wasn’t interested in the same things I was, to put it delicately.  Remember why my first boyfriend broke up with me?  Yeah, this was round two, except he didn’t bother to date me at all.  Also?  Potentially explosive situation with him.  Excellent guy.  Lots of emotional stuff.  And with my own propensity toward being emotional?  It would have been disastrous.

Again, I can laugh about it now – about them all – and look down my Facebook friends list and see every one of them (hi guys!).  But back then?  Seriously, when “friend-of-a-friend” ignored me for a month, I couldn’t help but sing sad songs to myself and think that I was never going to find anyone.

The irony is that when that friend-of-a-friend finally did get back to me to tell me what a nice girl I was and that he couldn’t string me along (which actually was a very mature perspective, despite the fact that it made me mad at the time), I got pissed off enough to go dancing with friends that night instead of staying home like I wanted to.  And I met my husband.

Perspective is everything.

Had that friend-of-a-friend strung me along, I’d have probably stayed home that night.  And never met my husband at all.  Or been so blind that I’d have ignored him.

And then where would I be?

Songs and Memories

12 Aug

I started writing this post two months ago (the “this morning” referenced was actually in June).  I put it aside because I thought it was just silly.  It is.  But it’s MY silly.  So I’m finishing it.  Because I feel like sharing.  If you’re not in the mood for gratuitous and silly sharing, you can ignore it completely. 🙂

This morning on the way to work I heard Katy Perry’s “Firework.”  I love this song.  So much more than I did when I first heard it.  That’s because it happened to be on the radio on the last day of my temp job in February, as I was driving away.  I managed to hold it together through the day, and was about three miles into the drive home when the song started.  I’d heard it before but didn’t really listen to the words until that moment.  I can remember the second – where exactly I was on that drive and when exactly it was in the song – that I started crying.  I bawled all the way home.  I loved that job and held out hope until the last that they’d find a position for me.  It was suddenly all over and I was drifting again in a sea of uncertainty.  But the words to the song – “Maybe the reason why/ all the doors are closed/ is to open one that leads you to the perfect road” – really spoke to me.  Cheesy I know.  But powerful.  And true, for me.  Not three months later, I started my new job.  I’ve been here for a month now and – dare I say it? – it’s better than the other one.  In those three months I was able to grow my company, too, and losing daytime employment made it happen.  It was an opportunity I might not have otherwise made for myself.

This started me thinking about certain songs and their significance in my memories, especially at very significant times of my life.  Whenever I watch Glee and my husband laughs about how people don’t really sing random songs to express their feelings…  I think, “but I do!”  I realize just how much I measure my life by music.  Yes, this is going to be mostly a post for myself, so if you’re looking for a new recipe, you probably want to check out now… ;).

  • “Stop in the Name of Love” – Carissa and Johanna and I made up a whole dance to this song in the 2nd grade.  On the playground.  Yeah, we were cool.
  • “Straight Up” – Yes, I was a huge Paula Abdul fan when I was 10…  My best friend at the time, Julia, loved her.  So I did too.  I remember very clearly learning every word of this song, and learning how to do the “kit’n’play” dance move to it in Julia’s bedroom!
  • “November Rain” – This also makes me think so much of Julia and being a pre-teen!  Loved this song.  Love this song.
  • “Just Kickin’ It” – I have a very clear, very specific memory of “kickin’ it” with Julia at my sister’s 1st Communion party.  Yeah, we were cool.
  • “End of the Road” – This song played at the end of from Junior High onward.  But I have a very specific memory of it playing at the Army/Navy Academy formal I went to with several friends in the 7th grade.  It was the first time we’d gotten all decked out, with makeup and heels, to go to a dance.  We felt so grown up!
  • “Nothin’ But the Taillights” – For some stupid reason I remember very clearly that this song was playing during our car accident when I was 14.  I still can’t listen to it without getting sort of freaked out because I feel the acceleration of the car and hear the sound of metal on metal.
  • “Take a Bow” – The words to this song aren’t important at all.  Only that the first time I heard it I was laying in the bed in the little room at my grandma’s house, recovering.  At the time I wasn’t really supposed to be moving much at all without my brace on, but luckily I had a ton of books and a radio.  I loved the harmonies when I heard them and still remember feeling annoyed to be stuck but at least enjoying the music.  I remember singing harmony to this song the first time I heard it, just because I could hear where it was going to be going.  Nerdy?  Why yes!
  • “The World I Know” – Cathy’s 16th birthday.  We got scared witless by her brother and fell asleep in front of MTV.  At 4 in the morning I woke up to this song.
  • “I Believe I Can Fly” – High school Winter Formal, Junior year, dancing with the guy who would later become my boyfriend.  I’d known him for something like 5 years at that point, we were good friends (soon to become “best” friends) and sort of had a crush on him.  I’d barely worked up the nerve to ask him to the dance with me and this was about the only song we really slow-danced to.  This song was when he realized he liked me too (even though he wouldn’t say anything for over a year).  For a while after we broke up I simply refused to listen to it.  Trust me, the way things worked out between us was for the best (and we’re finally friends again), and I still am not a huge fan of the song, but when I do hear it I can’t help but feel like I’m 16 again, just for a minute or two.
  • “There’s a Light” (from Rocky Horror Picture Show) – Junior year in high school my friends showed me this movie.  I was scandalized.  If you knew me back then…  I was totally sweet and innocent.  I was pretty much horrified but over time grew to love it.  This song, though, was the only one I had stomach for at that age.
  • “All I Ask Of You” (from Phantom of the Opera) – Fadi and I sang this for a wedding of one of his high school teachers.  Whenever I hear it I miss my drama geek buddy!
  • “1999” – New Year’s, freshman year of college.  I’d gone up to visit the then-boyfriend at his parents’ house.  Yes, it was 1999!
  • “I Could Not Ask for More” – The first time I heard this was the very first day of Orientation during the summer after my freshman year of college.  I was an Orientation Leader (OL) and we had to get up and go at the crack of dawn.  I was in the suite where I’d lived for the whole year, but not in my old room (we were randomly assigned).  A picture of my then-boyfriend (for, um, a few more weeks?) was on the dresser, next to my alarm clock, but the rest of the room was austere, since I would only be there for just under two weeks.  This song came on with my alarm clock at 5 that morning and I laid in bed listening to it.  I guess it’s not all that odd of a chord progression but at the time I just loved how unexpected it was.
  • “I Want it That Way” – I know.  It’s a truly truly awful song.  Seriously.  But it was all the rage during my freshman year of college and it was all over Orientation that year.  Every time I hear it I’m in the OLs’ suite, geeking out with Cristina.
  • “Always” (by Atlantic Star) – Singing an impromptu duet with Lyndon in my Sophomore apartment, the day of our Gospel Choir performance on TV.  A bunch of us were messing around, singing random songs in my room.  As we were leaving to go to dinner or something, my roommates came out of their rooms and asked who’d been singing the duet because it was awesome! 🙂  (Also, since almost every guy on this list was a crush of mine, I feel the need to qualify this – there are no romantic feelings attached to this memory and Lyndon and I are still good friends and singing buddies…  In fact we auditioned for The X Factor together and I’m in his band…  Just wanted to make that clear, though, since this is a love song – it’s just darn good fun to sing with him!)
  • “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” – I apologize profusely to the friend I had a major crush on in college.  He may or may not have known (but I was probably pretty obvious about it).  If he’s reading this, he certainly knows now!  We were driving in the car during Orientation and sang this as a duet.  This was before I realized I was very much not his type.  Like, 180 degrees away from his type.  Again, profusely apologize.  And blush with embarrassment at how silly I was.  But this does make me think of him fondly!
  • “Boyz in the Hood” – the alternative rock version of this song always makes me think of Orientation too.  Lots of memories there, I guess.  It was after the three Coordinators found out some major stuff…  And we were processing it in the car.  I’ve lost touch with Robbie and Susan but at that moment they were my brother and sister, and we were driving in Robbie’s car.  The words to the song were completely irrelevant to us but we were angry and sang them out!
  • “Still the One” – Driving in Los Angeles in Erin’s mustang convertible, singing our guts out with Lynn and Neva.  This was the week after we met.  I am still amazed at everything about that week, and how close we were, already.  This was also the night we shared a pitcher of margaritas at the Mexican Restaurant and told the waitress (falsely) that one of us had just broken up with our boyfriend and we needed a private area so we could be loud and obnoxious! 🙂
  • “Bigger Than My Body” – Whenever I hear this song, I’m in an alley in Los Angeles, standing thisclose to and having a conversation with John Mayer.  No, really.  It’s a pretty cool memory, even though you can only see the top of my head for two seconds in the music video.
  • Name retracted to protect the innocent.  Let’s just say I have a very specific memory of a very sweet boy who made fun of a singer I really liked at the time, and I didn’t really realize that there was probably more to his making fun of things until much, much later, and every time I hear the song he made fun of I think of him.  Again, the way things turned out was definitely for the better but I can’t help but remember being 23!
  • “Take Me As I Am” (from Jekyll and Hyde) – This also conjures a specific memory of a specific (different) boy, whose name is also retracted to protect the innocent.  Let’s just say that there was a lot of flirting and a date-that-may-not-have-been-a-real-date (the jury is still out and probably always will be), but that this was one of his favorite songs at the time.  Also, the boy from the song-that-will-not-be-named was really protective of me about this boy (and, perhaps, a little jealous?).  I actually think that, more than anything, I remember being 23 and single when I hear this song.  Fondly, but not longingly.  Being single and wondering whether this boy or that boy was actually interested really kind of sucked, but the feeling of being young and having so many possibilities in life was sort of fun.
  • “Beautiful Disaster” (the slow live version) – I just realized how many of my musical memories are about boys.  And the last three are from the same year of my life.  Apparently I was boy crazy that year?  This one wasn’t one I heard with the boy.  But it was one I’ll forever associate with him.  Following the amazingly fun weekend I spent with a friend-of-a-friend with whom I was set up.  Great chemistry.  Un-great circumstances.  That song was in my head for weeks before I realized why.  Funny aside – he met my husband just before my husband proposed to me…  And they got along great.  Considering that “the” weekend was only a month before I met my husband, I felt a little awkward about the whole thing, though!
  • “Accidentally In Love” – Erin and I were in the car, on our way to Vegas for my American Idol auditions.  Both of us were thinking of relationships that were too early to call.  Both of us are still in those relationships now!
  • “The Middle” – I was looking and looking for a job.  This was 2005, so jobs were actually plentiful (shortly after the moment I remember when I hear this song, I was offered three jobs in one week!).  But I was frustrated and feeling lost.  This song got me through a very hard week.
  • “Falling” (by Keri Noble) – This song, like “Beautiful Disaster,” would not get out of my head for weeks, until I realized that the words were what was stuck in my head.  The following week I told my husband I loved him for the first time.
  • “Defying Gravity” – This takes me back to finally leaping into the decision to leave my last full time job right away after my transition discussion.  That was a remarkably difficult weekend but I made the right decision.
  • “Hope It Gives You Hell” – Long story.  Very personal.  But it makes me feel good about where I am, what I’m doing, and how far I’ve come.
Am I the only person I know who has such a strong personal connection to music?  I can be sitting in a restaurant or the car or my office and feel myself slipping back years, see the scene in front of me, feel everything that was going on when these songs first made an impression upon me.  This continues to happen (the last song in my list has been around for a while but the specific moment I remember is from just a few months ago), and I literally can’t help it.  I suppose it’s nice to be reminded of past events.  But it’s definitely a strange feeling!

I’m still here!

15 Oct

I know you’re probably tired of me saying how busy I am…  But it’s true!  Yesterday was my day off and I had every intention of updating my blog with pretty photos…  Unfortunately I tripped and twisted my bad ankle (ruined 20+ years ago when I fractured it stepping in a gopher hole at my grade school, and prone to horrific twisting and swelling ever since) and spent most of the afternoon flat on my back.  Apparently, while nursing that injury I favored my right side, thereby tweaking my left lower back.  Yeah, I’m a mess.

So I’m updating this morning.  No pretty pictures.  Sorry.

I did experiment a little bit last weekend with baking – I came up with a beautiful savory muffin recipe that I will make some time soon for the blog.  It’s basically a biscuit dough that you add things to, but it comes out light and fluffy and gorgeous.  I was planning on making my Asti Spumante cupcakes for a birthday party and ran out of time.  Now I remember why I didn’t do too much “fancy” cooking when I was fully employed – lately if I cook it’s been either a crockpot dinner or a casserole I can toss together in under an hour (Last night was a tuna-noodle casserole riffing on my childhood.  The only time my mom would do something separate for me for dinner was when the rest of my family would have Kraft mac and cheese and tuna salad sandwiches; I hated both, so she’d leave a scoop of plain noodles and cook up some onions, garlic, and celery if she had time and I’d mix those with a scoop of plain tuna.  YUM.).

Speaking of fully employed…  I think I said a week or two ago that I’ve been working part-time.  It’s a testament to the whole “who you know is more important than what you know” idea – I got this job through a friend who happened to know the people running the department.  They had an opening, called my friend, my friend referred me, and – presto! – I got hired.  Now, I absolutely adore this department and I would stay here without hesitation, if I had a full-time position (or one that paid like a full-time position) and benefits.  The boss is amazing, the coworkers are incredible, and even when the mood was stressy (I’m working at a University and for the first few weeks of class we had some long lines of students needing help), there was far less pressure than at my previous jobs.  It’s about 180 degrees away from the environment of my former workplace.

Unfortunately there probably won’t be a full-time job for me here.  There’s a tiny possibility that a job will be created, or that the staff member who is currently out of the office will not return.  But the odds are about 100,000-to-1.  So I’m looking elsewhere.  I had an interview on Tuesday for a job that I think I would really enjoy.  Here, too, is a case of “who you know is more important than what you know” – I’m no more qualified for this position than for any of the dozens of positions I’ve applied for – at the same University – over the last year.  But since I have someone who works for the department who can vouch for me, I got called to come in to meet with the boss.  Will it work, so I can ultimately obtain gainful employment?  Who knows?  But it was awfully nice to be called in.  For the record, they didn’t ask any of the scary questions one worries about when one is unemployed for almost a full year.

I’ve had a nonstop barrage of baby showers and other parties to attend, and in the next month and a half I’ll be coordinating a fundraiser and a wedding.  I’m still trying to find time to attend a meeting of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  I’m still working on PR for the production company my friend is launching.  My garden is still teeming with life, including some brand new blooms on my pumpkin plant.  I’ve been helping my husband in his classroom a lot.  Yeah, life is busy!

But I’m still here…  Life is good.  And I’m happy!

What a relief!

11 Mar

I’ve been in a ton of pain this week.  Last year I had major issues with stomach acid and had some major recurring pains.  I was really scared that I had a chronic problem but my doctor diagnosed me as just having an overproduction of stomach acid, caused by a pH imbalance.  I had had a bad case of the stomach flu that apparently really messed me up.  I took some acid reducers for a while and stopped having problems every month.

Enter this January, when I got a nasty sinus infection after weeks of fighting the flu.  I called my doctor’s office to get a prescription for an antibiotic.  When I found out that it was something I’d never taken, and had a list of side effects longer than my arm, I was worried.  Of course I argued with my doctor, who told me that this was the one to take for a sinus infection and wouldn’t change the prescription.

Until I called the office three days later.  I was having every side effect known to man.  And none of them good.  I got the prescription changed but the damage was done.  My pH was officially screwed up again.

I’ve had two bouts with this stomach acid thing since mid-January.  It’s the same symptoms as last year, and I’m sure it’s the same problem.  I’ve been downing antacids this week and eating as blandly as possible.  Which is no fun.  And I’m back on the medicine the doctor gave me last year.

I went to the grocery store this morning to get some water and bananas and I really wanted to pick up a pineapple.  I figured it would be too acidic for me so I didn’t pick it up.  Later on in the day, one of my neighbors (the Earth Momma who knows all kinds of natural healing) asked me what was wrong.  When I told her, she actually suggested pineapple, and said it’s got all sorts of digestive healing properties.  I looked it up on the internet, and saw several confirmations, so I went and bought one.

I’m still feeling some acid pressure, but my whole esophagus isn’t burning the way it has been for the last two or three days.  As soon as I got some pineapple down, I felt a definite relief.  I’m still planning on taking my medicine (sigh) but I am feeling better than I have.

Which makes me wonder: did my subconcious know that the pineapple would help?  I rarely buy them, so it was definitely out of the ordinary to want to.  Was this an example of intuitive eating at its core?  Or was it just random?  I’ll probably never know, but I’m sure glad I talked to my neighbor!

The Omnivore’s Hundred

10 Nov

I was looking through a few of my favorite blogs and found this posted a couple of times.  It’s a bit strange, but I liked the multicultural slant.  I thought it might be fun to share!

This is what you’re supposed to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ganoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh Wild Berries
23. Foie Gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet/Habanero pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda (OMG my grandmother used to make this; the whole house smelled HORRIBLE)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut (ew)
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (YUMMY)
38. Vodka Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal (I guess I read too many British blogs?  I had to google this…  I would try it, but I doubt I’d like it, as it’s apparently an extremely hot curry)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120
46. Fugu/Pufferfish
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (I loooooooove unagi)
49. Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donut
50. Sea Urchin (um, I’m scared to try it though; I saw someone eating it a couple of months back and it looked disgusting)
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (again, had to google it; it’s a Japanese fruit.  Guess I wouldn’t mind it?)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (yick)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% Alcohol Level
59. Poutine (had to google this too.  gravied fries.  looks nasty.)
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (it’s apparently an additive?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (I saw The Next Iron Chef and I’m so curious about this!
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho (it’s good as long as they leave out the cilantro!)
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail (it’s textural, same as the oyster)
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum (don’t like it though)
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (nope; only at a two-star one)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers (several kinds, including ones I grew in my garden)
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate (hmmm…  guess not, after googling it…  but now I sort of want to!)
91. Spam (ew)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa (some strange stuff on this list!)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Coming “Clean”

16 Jun

I have a confession. 

It’s not dirty…  In fact, it’s the opposite.

I love the smell of clean laundry. 

As a kid, I’d wait until my parents were about to take a load out of the dryer.  I’d jump on their bed and wait for them to dump a basket of sheets or towels or clothes on top of me and I’d luxuriate in the warm softness of the freshly-washed garments and linens.  I’d bring a piece to my nose and just sniff and sniff.  Even now, laundry is one of my favorite chores to do, because I can enjoy that smell.

There’s a grate in the alley on the way from my office to the neighborhood Starbucks – it’s a vent from the adjacent hotel’s laundry room and there is always a warm, damp breeze blowing from it.  I try to walk on that side of the group whenever we walk down to get coffee, just so I can smell the comforting scent.

This afternoon I walked down on my own to get a tea latte.  On the way back, not caring if anyone saw, I deliberately walked over the grate, stopped and stood there for a minute, letting my hair be blown by the warm, moist air and breathing big deep breaths of the fresh smell.  Then I walked back to the office with a smile on my face.

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