Sunday, March 2, 2008

Psst...Over Here!

The cats and I have moved ourselves to the new and improved Mighty Minx site.

Please redirect your bookmarks and readers here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dairy Detox Day 3 (Saturday)

I now officially know I'm old because I threw a party for a friend who was launching a little side-business venture, and I stayed at her place until about 2:00, and I had to go to work this morning and instead of being buoyed by adrenaline and staying up all day Saturday and repeating the same late night again because you can always sleep it off Sunday, I pretty much just crashed after work. Like, drool on the pillow, don't remember actually falling asleep while reading the news, old lady dozing off. I have friends who've either turned thirty or who are staring at thirty head on, and a few of them party, like, three our four nights a week (granted they're partying with college students who probably look up at them for being more than a fetus when The A-Team was in its prime and I think that's a little bit sketchy but this morning I dropped a particularly nice looking Shredded Wheat out of my Ziploc baggie of cereal into the feet area of my car and I had to REALLY talk myself down from fishing for it and blowing it off at a red light so I don't get to judge anyone again until tomorrow at least), and I just absolutely cannot do that anymore. I really just need to give into the inevitable and get my Murder, She Wrote boxed set and my lap blanket and call it a life.

The party itself wasn't too hard in terms of being tempted to eat cheese or meat, but the preparation for it was just awful. The night of Day 2 and all through yesterday (Day 3) I finally started realizing I couldn't just eat the meat and cheese anymore, and as Lunabella said in yesterdays' comments, it started to make me really cranky. The only way I got around it was to imagine the summer sausage I was cutting up as little baby pigs in a pile, and the melted cheese on top of the bruschetta was glue that would eventually make its way into my stomach and work its fiendish plan to hold my poop hostage for a week or so (you know that's how cheese rolls). All day yesterday I was just HUNGRY, despite having a pretty decent breakfast and lunch. I hadn't been hungry at all the two prior days, so I think it may have been more psychosomatic than anything. I'm hungry right now, too, but I think that mostly has to do with still being a trifle hung over from the glasses of wine my inebriated guest of honor kept asking me to finish for her and also sleeping through lunch. I should probably eat something.

I bought three very promising looking vegan cookbooks from Amazon--Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Veganomicon--all by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who is the host of the Post Punk Kitchen show on NYC cable access, and generally regarded to be an all around awesome vegan chef. The books kind of read like novels, so I'm excited to dig into one tonight. I'm going grocery shopping tomorrow, so I may try cooking again, hopefully with better results than lass month's misadventures.

Also, I didn't make this connection the other three days, but I also stopped drinking coffee the week before I stopped eating dairy, so I'm not sure which symptoms belong to caffeine withdrawal and which are dairy related. I have had some pretty spectacular side of the head headache bursts, which I'm guessing belong to caffeine, but the ongoing dizziness, listlessness, and feeling like nasty stuff is sort of surfacing and then disappearing from my body is likely dairy related. I'm still not sure if I believe if detox really happens like that, so take it for what you think it's worth.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dairy Detox Day 2

There are a lot of times I feel really sorry for myself for not being married with kids. It usually happens at work, where I am the only single woman without kids there, and so have very little in common with the forty women there who all seem to be either constantly pregnant or menopausal and obsessed with their grandkids. I have no C-section scars to talk about, no opinions about breast pumps, and I can't joke about planning my ovulation calendar so I can give birth the day after Christmas and stay on maternity leave until Spring Break (Which is apparently like the ultimate goal of any pregnant educator. I had no idea.) Sometimes when I get home to a quiet, dark house, and the only living things there to greet me are the cats in the living room and maybe a cricket or two in the garage, I get a little lonely and wistful.

But then, when I'm at the grocery store and am busy filling my cart with alcohol and party food and waaay overpriced organic cleaners that make my house smell like a flower shop, and I have my cell phone in one hand and a Starbucks in another and I'm clacking along with my splurge handbag and my splurge heels and my splurge sunglasses and I bump carts with a woman my age wrangling one of those kiddie shopping carts filled with five dirty, screaming, wriggling children, all under the age of seven, and all of whom answer to the name Keegan or some screeched variation thereof, I have two very clear and distinct thoughts in my head:

1) This woman is a superhero.

2) I really must make sure to get my birth control refilled.

Day 2 of veganism was way easier than Day 1. No more shaking or nausea. Just a touch of headache and the omnipresent peculiar sensation of emptiness all throughout my body. It's hard to explain, but it's kind of like the knowledge of not ever having gooey, melty, creamy stuff again kind of makes my body feel cleaned out. Or something. I think it's probably just a huge placebo effect.

Tomorrow's going to be interesting, though, because I'm having a party for some friends and obviously they're not going to be down with eating tofu bean dip. I have some regular food and I'm going to attempt to make some vegan party food for me, too. If it's not a complete disaster, I'll post the recipes over the weekend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's For My Own Gouda

I believe I am many good things.

I am kind to children and animals. I will kick your ass twice over in games that involve manipulating words or letters. I make a good pot of coffee, and I think I have nice hair.

But there are, of course, skills I haven't yet acquired in my twenty-seven years on this Earth. I have a black thumb, for instance, and the only green living thing in my house right now is a very tenacious ivy plant that will not die no matter how infrequently I water it or how long I left it outside after the first October frost. I am clumsy and just yesterday found out I have atrocious balance for tango, which will be the source of a tortured, whiny, overphilosophical entry once I get the tango page up and running.

But one of my worst flaws? I have absolutely shit taste in men.

Not every single guy I've dated falls under this category, but an alarming number of them do. To paraphrase Our Lady of the Single Gal with Saddlebags, Ms. Bridget Jones, if there are any "alcoholics, workaholics, megalomaniacs, emotional fuckwits, or perverts" within a 50 mile radius, I will find and date them. This pattern started in college, after having a very respectable relationship throughout high school with a very respectable boy, but not two weeks after hanging out with Real College Boys and seeing that they would be just totally awesome at preying upon every single insecurity, obsession, and bad habit that laid dormant in my otherwise placid character, I called up the high school boyfriend and dumped him, ostensibly for being too far away, but in reality for not being abusive and emotionally retarded and so therefore boring. Just recently, actually, I realized I was falling into the same pattern over and over, and I put a stop to it by going on "dating detox" and trying to get use to liking myself before I went out and liked someone else again. So far being an intentionally single cat lady is a lot like being an unintentional one, except I shave my legs less frequently which is COMPLETELY AWESOME.

So the reason why I'm writing about this nine years later after learning this lesson over and over and OVER, is because suddenly all my bad ex-boyfriends are reminding me of cheese. Stay with me, people.

As my eating habits are getting progressively better and better, I find myself being able to talk myself down from cravings, or emotional eating, and I find the more I stay away from binging and trying to hurt myself with food, the less I want to do it. (Duh.) But I think there's one last piece of the puzzle with this, and so I'm trying to decide if there are just some bad news foods that I'm going to have to cut out of my diet because I just can't trust myself around them.

It's probably going to be dairy, and especially cheese for me. My weakness is ice cream, or nachos, or milkshakes, or bagels and cream cheese, and I can never seem to moderate those foods like I'm able to with other stuff. The other night I was driving home from work and completely worn out and disinterested in popping in yet another frozen meal, so I thought "Hey, I haven't had pizza in awhile" and rang up Pizza Hut. And I kind of knew in the back of my mind that it's never a good idea to buy a whole medium pizza for myself and really expect to ration it, so I decided to try a little experiment--I decided to let myself have as much pizza as I felt like I had to have to get over the desire to eat pizza, no matter how much it took. And seriously, it was so not satisfying as a meal, I probably could've eaten the whole thing just to get that one moment when things felt and tasted as good as I wanted them to in my mind, but I finally just made myself stop because eight pieces is just ew. Everything was just gross...the way it made me feel, the congealed cheese on the top, the way my stomach never felt satisfied and I just kept eating and eating it, and finally I had to stop with the realization that I had ingested about 1,200 calories and really hated every bite. The whole thing made me realize that if a food that I think I love so much can make me feel this nasty, maybe I should somehow stop loving it.

The next day I took the remaining pizza for my lunch at work, and this is where the loser ex-boyfriend analogy really resonated for me. I realized as I sat down with my leftovers that I wasn't going to be satisfied with pizza and water and an apple like I had planned. Of course I needed a can of Coke and a candy bar, because that's how pizza OUGHT to be eaten. I needed the flavor combinations of cheese plus sugar plus chocolate or else it just didn't feel right. One thing lead to another in that situation, and again, for something that's supposed to be so enjoyable, it didn't feel good at all. It's like the loser boyfriend who's super romantic and sweet on the first date, but then he takes you to McDonald's for the second date, and by the fifth date you're bringing him the food to his mom's house because he moved back in with her to "sort out some things" and then by three months into it he calls you on your birthday (which he's forgotten about) while you're sleeping off a midnight shift at your summer job because his truck's run out of gas in Kansas and he needs a ride back and while you're both driving he asks you to pull over at this one dude, Tino's, house so he can "say hey to some friends" and before you can smoothe out your bedhead in the rearview mirror he's selling dime bags from his backpack to the guys who work at the local Mexican restaurant in Tino's driveway and laughing at you while you cry and tell him you have BIG COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS, damnit, and he's fucking everything up.

Not that ANY of that has ever happened to me. And I've digressed.

I've talked about this a little bit before, but my point is that I don't want to have an emotional attachment to my food, especially not food that makes me feel so shitty and makes me have irrational emotional attachments to other foods. So I decided to just finally bite the bullet and go vegan because it seemed right and I feel intellecutally good about it, and I think I'm on hour 26 of dairy detox. I'm not sure if there's really such a thing as dairy detox, but I know I feel like shit. Headache, joint pains, the shakes, nausea, dizziness, and I've had about 100 oz. of water today and I'm not peeing AT ALL and my stomach is swollen and hurts like a mother and I really don't know why. I apologize for the graphic detail, but I think it'll be nice to reread this in six months when I'm all vegan-glowy and shit and smiling serenely as I eat quinoa or something vegan-y.

I'll keep you updated on this if I don't die in the process, and keep your eyes open for the birth of the tango blog, coming very soon!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bump in the Road

On President's Day I drove up to Kansas University to visit with an old professor who had recently job there. The last time I had been to Lawrence was for summer camp when I was thirteen, and my only memories of the place were how every single building in the town seemed to be at the top of this big giant hill, and no matter where you went you had to go up. I drove in through artfully planned "quaint downtown" part of the city and stopped for lunch at a regional landmark, Local Burger. If you're ever within driving distance of Lawrence, I highly, highly recommend stopping for food there. Best veggie burger I have ever eaten in my life, and the rainbow slaw and vegan smoothies are fantastic.

I wanted to visit this professor to talk about possibilities for doctoral study, and to find out what I needed to do to be attractive for the admissions committees. I posted a few weeks ago about seriously considering law school, and how I had already bought LSAT test prep materials, and I was really working hard on the test, and researching admissions statistics, and figuring out what kind of personal essay would make me seem like I had more to offer than the ability to wipe the noses, tie the shoes, and button the jeans of 15 kindergartners while singing "All Around the Buttercup" and never dropping a beat. (I chalked that up as multitasking. Also, high tolerance for snot, which I'm sure is obviously a big prerequisite for high-paying corporate jobs) But the more I looked into it, and the more I got into playing the numbers games and comparing myself against other applicants and all of that, the more I realized that's really not my bag at all. I admire people who are attorneys; I respect their ambition, and the discipline it takes to throw yourself into a high-stress job, and I really like their money. But it's not me. I don't really have that kind of desire to climb the salary ladder, or to beat out other people for recognition or promotions. When it came down to it, I think I wanted to be a lawyer for the money, and honestly, even the prospect of an entire closet full of Louboutins and fifty dollar underwear is worth doing something I'd potentially hate.

So, after realizing this and being okay with it, I moved on to my other idea of going to back to school for a doctorate in some kind of education-related field. It was exciting, because since the competition for education degrees is so much lower, the chances I would've gotten into a really good school were higher, and there were all kinds of programs at places like Teachers' College in New York and Harvard that I was interested in. And the following part is the only reason I'm posting about this, because otherwise it's not a huge deal:

When I started looking at colleges in high school, my test scores, grades, and extracurriculars were strong enough that I had a pretty good chance of getting into schools like Harvard or wherever. And I wanted to go, although not for really good reasons so much as I just wanted to be able to say I got out of our little pissant town and did that, because it doesn't happen very often. But when my parents and I sat down to have our first talk about schools, they told me there wasn't any money. Not for tuition, not for trips out there for campus visits, not even for the application fees to the fancy schools. We simply did not have the finances to look beyond Missouri for college, and I needed to go to the school that gave me the best scholarship package, and that was the end of it.

And that's what started a very long resentment with my parents about what happened with my education and my future, even though I finally realized I was really just angry at myself for not ever trying to prove that there were alternatives and ways around the huge costs of going to school. I didn't know we were poor enough to qualify for grants and Ivy League poor people scholarships, and I assumed they had researched those things themselves. When my school guidance counselor told me to stop applying for scholarships because it was rude to take money from other people who needed it, I listened, and I was embarrassed for being greedy. I still told reporters and adults in town that I was planning to go to Harvard to study political science, but I secretly knew that the farthest east I was going to go for the next four years was Mizzou, and that was the end of it.

The same thing happened with my husband, who told me I couldn't go out of state to get a graduate degree, because that would separate us. One of my professors tried valiantly to get me to move on, even making a last minute phone call to a dean of her alma mater to see if they'd accept my application late and under the table. I kept refusing, because I thought it was my job to stay here and make money so my husband could go to school. So I stayed in Missouri again, and had an okay time, and did a good job, but all with the terrible feeling in the back of my mind that I was slowly boxing myself into a life I didn't want with every single day I kept saying "Yes, okay" to other people.

My brother, who is eight years younger than I am, and who took notes while all this was going on with me, ended up going to Yale. My parents did the research that time and found out college was completely affordable in the Ivies if you're poor and Midwestern, and my brother just kept telling people what he wanted until he got it to happen. And I watched all of this and just kept silently building bitterness, mostly at myself, until my whole life was centered around being resentful of my future versus his. And it was just one of those things I had to let go, you know? Just like the being angry at my husband, and the being angry at the people who've hurt me...all those things. I had to finally get over it after two years and just plan to find a way to exploit my potential on my own terms from now on.

So the reason I wrote about that wasn't because I've gotten accepted to Harvard or Columbia or anything. In fact, my crappy day last week was because during my meeting with my old professor I found out it's not even advisable to apply for a PhD in education programs until you've taught for five years in one district (which is a long way off for me). I just wanted to write about it, because in the course of breaking the news to my parents and holding my breath for their reaction, they totally came through. They told me they didn't care where I went or what I did, but that they wanted me to do SOMETHING more with my life. That they were sorry for holding me back, and that they'd support me in whatever I chose now. And it was a big, big deal for me, because I really thought I wouldn't have been happy without some sort of pretentious diploma, but really all I wanted was their blessing to get one.

I also figured out that I'm not going to let other people stop me from getting what I want, and I know that I need to get away from this place next year. And I've found some pretty promising options that I'll write about in the future as they pan out, or don't. Or I may end up serving out the rest of my tenure here in Asshatville because I figured out a Ph.D. is the smartest option for me. Who knows?

The sweetest reward in all of this, though, isn't the prospect of Fullbright scholarships or a bigger salary. It's that no matter how much I screw with my future in the coming years, I'm going to be doing it on my own terms this time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday, February 19th

I kind of had a shitty day today, and I'll probably write a little about that tomorrow, but I just needed to note for posterity's sake that resolving to do something constructive with bad news makes the actual bad news easier to get through than wallowing in it.

I didn't stay under 1600 calories today (closer to 1800, probably), but I also didn't binge while I was upset and I didn't even go get any awful fast food tonight, so I feel good about that.

I did indulge in a little retail therapy, but before my Favorite Person calls me up with a lecture, I can say that I think I've justified it very well. I had originally decided to use my new credit card to pay for yoga classes at the Bikram Place because they were $150 dollars and then I could pay it off every month and that would put revolving credit back on my report which would increase my credit score even more since I started fixing it after the divorce, but every time I thought about the cost of tuition, plus the driving involved I just couldn't see how it'd be a very good idea. So, since I'm not going to have that planned expense, I decided to buy one pair of tango shoes that were TOTALLY reasonably priced and would be better for my ankle than the ones I have now. I'm not really in love with the color combination, but it was the closest thing I could get to all black from a company in the U.S., and I know it's a reputable brand, and I can always send them back if they're not good. Also, I think the stilettos look killer in this picture.

And finally, just in case you haven't seen Argentine tango before and you're wondering why I obsess over it (besides the shoes, obviously), here's why. This is my current idol, Graciela Gonzalez, who proves that you can be in the Sisterhood of the Badonkadonk and still move like a goddess. I watch this video at least once a day, which is kind of like how I used to listen to the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack every single night before I went to bed in 8th grade, except now I don't fantasize about marrying Christian Slater at a Renaissance Festival.

Well, not often anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The smell of redemption is a Taco Bell burp and Drakkar Noir.

I am very surprised I didn't die of a heart attack in high school.

Because I am an unadulterated nerd, while all the other kids I knew were busy doing authentic teenagery things, like having sex in the back of Camaros, and getting drunk on Boone's Farm, I chose to pursue things like band, speech and debate, mock trial. I matriculated through high school basically walking around with a full body chastity suit made out of marching band uniform and encyclopedia and reeking of Eau de Social Retard.

Not only were the activities I chose largely uncool, but they were also super stressful. People in debate and band took their business SERIOUSLY, and so for at least twenty weeks out of the school year I was actually at school from about 7-5 each day, and I spent my weekends bussing to and from various metropolitan areas, pushing around one of those little rolling briefcase things, and living out of suitcases in hotels so I could live out my life of pretending to be a pharmaceutical sales representative, except with cheap shoes and without the never-ending supply of those cool pens with the herpes medicine logo on them. On top of the incessant travel, the late nights and early mornings, the McDonald's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner unless our teacher was feeling generous and took us to Shoney's for "something special", and the sense of never being clean because you basically spend 36 hours of your life each week sitting on the floor of high school gymnasiums in polyester business suits and pantyhose, there was just the stress of actually performing at these things. The stomach gnawing, have to go pee RIGHT NOW oh wait never mind, body chill inducing, can't sit still or I'll die kind of nervousness never, ever went away, no matter how good I got or how many times I had seen my opponents. I was a walking nervous breakdown in patent leather Mootsie Tootsies, and I kind of liked it that way.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've been that nervous since, but it's never quite approached the restrained hysteria I used to feel in high school. I think I got shaky at my first real job interview, and I know I thought I was going to throw up during my divorce proceeding, but that's about it. I am such a cool cucumber now I'm practically comatose.

But yesterday, as I maneuvered my steamboat on wheels into a parking space next to the Presbyterian Church that hosts the weekly tango milonga (yes, THE milonga where I have been humiliated and tortured and have whined about it here many a time), I got a huge case of the old high school panic, to the point I could barely pull my keys out of the ignition because my hands were shaking so badly. I really don't know what possessed me to go, other than the prospect of my spending yet another night with my cats watching Clueless on HBO2 making me want to off myself, but there I was, hooched up with stilettos in hand and staring through the doorway at the very same man who always makes me cry every time I go. I knew tonight was going to be pivotal, because it was the third time I went to this particular milonga, and I kind of also knew in the back of my head that if I ran out tonight like I had the last two times, I wouldn't ever be back.

This time was different, though, for two reasons. First was a conversation I had with the friend who introduced me to tango in the first place, and who's endured my venting about how difficult it was for a year now. She told me that for her, tango absolutely sucked every single time she went for a really long time. It was hard. She was embarrassed about her body. She hated herself. And then one day she realized she had to get over it and it started sucking less and less. And it was very nice to hear that B had gone through the same shitty experiences I had, because I really thought I was the only one who felt too massive to do this.

I had also decided to just stop having such a defeatist attitude about everything. The big conversation with The Friend on Friday made me realize I have the right to stand up for myself, and to get the things I want, and I really want to tango. I'm allowed to tango. It's not my problem if the men in the dance hall don't like my body. It IS my problem if my body isn't in shape to dance the best that it can right now, but my appearance isn't tied to that at all. It IS my problem if I shoot myself down before I even get a chance to figure out if I suck or not, and it's my problem if I decide before I even get in the door that the night's going to be a failure.

So I decided to try, no matter what, and I decided to make sure my body language and the way I interacted with everyone communicated that I belonged there. I practiced for the hour we were supposed to practice, and then when the actual social dance part of the evening happened I resolved to sit there and wait for someone to ask me dance no matter what instead of scuttling out the door after the first five minutes and crying in the car for being a pathetic freak.

And lo, it totally worked. The panic set in after the first round of dances ended and no one had asked me yet, but there were seven women to four men and one of the pairs was dating so they were always together, and two of the other women were ballerina types , and the other three were just plain fantastic, so I was obviously the low girl on the tango pole for the evening. So I just kept sitting and smiling and trying not to look desperate when Hell officially froze over because the Tango Nemesis walked up to ME AND ASKED ME TO DANCE. In front of everyone. In front of people who might see him dance with big-assed, no experience me. Internets, I nearly shat my gauchos right up in that Presbyterian church basement.

And honestly, it was a lovely dance and he even murmured "Bravo" a couple of times to me and didn't criticize me once except to say I needed to get different shoes and we danced an entire tanda and then he ruffled my hair like he was Ward and I was The Beaver and that was that. And you know what? Since he danced with me, another man danced with me and said I did a good job, and another and another until I had danced with every single person in the room. And I was soaked with sweat and out of breath from never resting and wobbling in my heels, but it was totally awesome. Even with the guy who kept burping Nachos Bell Grande in my face and definitely was picking his nose over by the water fountain when I thought no one was watching.

I just can't get over how powerful actually being determined, and positive, and persistent really are. I always kind of chalked it up as Norman Vincent Peale self-help bullshit, but making a conscious effort to stop telling myself "no" every time I get an idea has made a monumental difference in just this weekend. I might actually dig this whole healthy, happy thing after all.