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.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

If People Were Meant to Pop Out of Bed, We'd All Sleep in Toasters

It is beyond amazing how much more I'm accomplishing now that my body clock is resetting itself.

For the past three years or so, I've been averaging about five hours of sleep a night, which I'm certain has completely eroded my immune system, my memory, my cognitive name it. And I'm sure it doesn't help The Crazy at all. So about two weeks ago I decided I was going to actually get sleep. No matter what. I was exhausted anyway, so how hard could it be?

It turns out it was actually pretty hard to make myself sleep, and I wasn't prepared for that. Being the master worrier that I am, I usually use the hours of eight to midnight as a time for me to fret over possible life disasters that likely won't occur, ruminate over regrettable things from my past, think about how fat I must look sitting on my bed, berate myself for the mounds and mounds of lard and sugar I had ingested that evening, and so on. So when I started taking away that time from myself to just lie down and sleep, I realized I couldn't do it. It was a hard pattern to break.

When I finally managed to start going to bed at 10 and 11, I was pretty dismayed at how tired I still was even after seven or eight hours of sleep. I figured I'd just jump out of bed, sing to the assorted woodland critters gathering at my feet, whip up a perfect, nutritious breakfast, and flit out the door to work with ribbons in my hair and a spring in my step. (Okay, I would've been satisfied with time for a shower and a SlimFast) But it just wasn't happening. I was still pressing snooze four or five times every morning and on days when I didn't need my alarm, I was sleeping for 10-11 hours at a stretch. I totally went into, "Woe is me" mode, worrying that there would never, ever be enough sleep for me in the world to have energy to do anything except lie there.

I guess if I had been paying attention over the last two weeks, though, I would've realized that I WAS waking up more naturally, just in tiny increments, and that the amount of sleep I needed was starting to reduce each night. Today I woke up completely naturally at about 5:30 and I'm still not a bit tired (the triple espresso I made for myself probably isn't hurting).

There are just two things that bother me about being awake:

First, what do you DO with all this time? I've been up for almost five hours and I've still got like another twelve hours to go. If we weren't having a winter storm I'd go do stuff in the city, but alas. I don't have any hobbies, because for the last two years my hobby has been hating life and writing about hating life. I need to learn to needlepoint or something. I could make wardrobes for the cats.

Second, I'm not so good with being cheerful. It's not really my thing. I'm basically like the biggest, surliest, Gothiest teenager you could ever meet inside the body of a 27 year old woman who shops at Talbot's. Being happy makes me annoyed with myself, and if the goal of getting healthy is to promote the self-love process, how do you deal with the conundrum of simultaneously loving how you feel but also wanting to bitchslap yourself every time you actually embrace something pure and wholesome?

Also, does anyone know what the deal is with DailyPlate? I haven't been able to get on for the last three days.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I am so much better than before.

There were a lot of big changes in my life the past week and a half, none of which are really worth blogging about, but it's why I've been gone. I also was asked to take back my 2007 title of Miss Big Ball of Infectious Diseases this week because Miss BBID 2008 got caught with racy photos on her Facebook and had to step down, so I've been enjoying the pinkeye and sinus infections that come with my old position as royalty. Attractive.

Anyway, during my mid-February Period of Personal Tribulation (I tried to hire a man to follow me around and sing "Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen" but all the good baritones are booked into barbershop quartet gigs around Valentine's Day) I started reading a book by Dave Pelzer called Heal Yourself. If you haven't heard of him, he's the guy from the book A Child Called It, which is an autobiography of his life primarily from birth to age 13, when California authorities took him out of his alcoholic, mentally deranged mother's home and put him in foster care. Pelzer was subjected to, and survived, what is believed to be the third worst abuse situation in California history, including being stabbed, poisoned by bleach and ammonia fumes, beaten, starved, isolated from his brothers and father, and forced to endure ritual humiliation every single day for eight years. His Help Yourself book still recounts some of those gruesome details, but also provides insight on how he survived those attacks simply by the force of his sheer will and determination to not die. It's pretty incredible stuff considering he was just a little kid.

Pelzer's main point of the book, though, is to offer advice for people who find themselves, for whatever reason, unable to thrive and succeed in their own lives. For me, there were two chapters of the book that especially resonated. The first was that sometimes you just have to walk away from things and people that are hurting you, forgive them, love them if they need it, but not let the events eat away at your life. Pelzer cites seeing his mother at the last stages of her life, completely overtaken not only by her alcohol addiction, but also by the sheer amount of hurt and rage and hate she had for her own parents, her husband, her children, and anyone who ever crossed paths with her. She was pathologically angry, to the point it drove her insane before she died.

I don't know if I've ever been perpetually angry like her so much as a relentless Pollyanna instead (a fact that I know causes a lot of chagrin over at AFG, since AngryFatGirlzPlusOneGirlWho'sOnlyAngryAtHerselfForVariousDeepSeatedReasonsIncludingUnnecessarilyLowSelfEsteem
is just not a practical new URL possibility. So my thing that I can't let go is how disappointed I get with situations and people when they don't turn out to be good in the way I hoped they'd be. And moreso than any of the things that have transpired over the last year of my life, way more than the divorce, or the financial strain, or the not so stellar weight loss has been dealing with people and situations where I've been dying for some sort of happy closure or resolution and not getting it. It got so bad by this month that I would come home from work, go straight to bed and obsess over the problem, gorge and gorge myself with food until I couldn't move to get my mind off the problem, and then obsess about it again until the waves of nausea passed. The inertia and not moving thing I was having so much trouble with? I finally figured out it was really more because I couldn't stop ruminating on these couple of people and how to deal with them and their toxicity.

Yesterday after one of the more determined, spectacular binges in my personal history, while I was lying on my bed and gasping for air like a goldfish out of its bowl, feeling my stomach debate whether to accept all this food or to reject it right onto my lovely new sheets, and wishing I could just die from the shame and the stress and the physical and mental pain of it all, I finally finally FINALLY why I was doing this, and I decided to stop it right there. I contacted one of the people, asked one last time for a conversation where we could resolve the conversation, and I ended up getting what I wanted. Sort of. It wasn't the happy, friendly resolution I was looking for, and I was pretty disappointed how things turned out, but at the same time I knew there wasn't anything more I could do to change the person, the situation, or the closure to our relationship. I don't think I was in the wrong, people who know both of us don't think I was in the wrong, but even so, no amount of begging or demanding or sulking was going to get the apology I thought I had needed so desperately for so many months. I had done all I can. It was time to let the hurt, the disagreements, and the person go, because they were all toxic, and they were all seriously messing me up.

And you know when they say "a weight lifted off my shoulders"? I had never felt that before yesterday. It was really nice to feel it.

The second thing I took away from Pelzer's book was judging life by this one criterion: Is your life today better in some small way than it was yesterday?

I kind of puked in my mouth a little bit when reading that, because it was just SO Chicken Soup for the Soul and I'm just not down with touchy-feely optimistic things. But seriously, it's a good message, even though I like to rephrase it as "Does your life suck less today than it did yesterday?" Yesterday, prior to that conversation, while I was collapsed on my bed, using a pizza box like a pillow, hearing my cats crunch around on the box of Bran Buds I had accidentally spilled on the kitchen floor on Wednesday and still hadn't bothered to clean up, I decided I had reached a new rock bottom. (Even though I think I've reached rock bottom about 14 times at least in the last year) But this time was different; a new low, a new level of spiritual, emotional, and physical bankruptcy I didn't think I'd fix this time. But I did, at least part of it.

Things can and will get better for me. I think they'll get better for all of us, no matter what we're struggling with. I think we have to believe that, or what's the point in getting up in the morning? The other day I started an opening paragraph to what I guess was supposed to be a book on recovering from binge eating and depression, but I only wrote a few sentences before I realized I didn't have anything to write about. I was still too upset, and all I could see myself writing about was how shitty I felt each and every day until I died and then someone would fill in the epilogue with "And then she died, and her cats ate her eyeballs. The End."

But I don't know. I think, right now at least, it's doable to find at least one thing I can do to recover and feel better each day. I could start with picking up those Bran Buds, although I kind of like how stepping on Bran Buds is like popping whole grain bubble wrap with your feet.

I'll try blogging about them here, so even if I don't have good news to report on the weight-ridding front, I'll at least have something else to write about. Prepare to get intimately familiar with my glowing revelations about disinfecting trash cans or not freaking out and kicking the bank building when the ATM cash mouth thing eats my money but doesn't deposit it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Weiner Poopie

I am beyond distraught that we are getting dry-slotted for our third winter storm in a row here near KC, so I'm posting a video that makes life still worth living. Via Dooce:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

211.2 and counting

Thanks everyone, again, for pulling my head out of the cyber-oven. Doctor Andy asked me last night if I felt encouraged to keep writing after all the wonderful comments, or if I was frustrated because I really wanted to quit and honestly, it encouraged me a lot. I kind of view this blog as just a chronology of what I'm feeling at the time, and sometimes the things in my head like, "I want to give up" are more just vocalized frustrations than actual wishes. Sometimes, though, things like, "I want to eat four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and wash them down with a bottle of Hershey's syrup" ARE actual wishes and more often than not come true. Sometimes I'm afraid I'm too honest here; that the more I write about being upset and trying but failing over and over again, the more you'll think I'm crying wolf. But as whiny and ugly as my thoughts are at the time, they're really what I'm thinking and I learned during college and the course of my marriage that pretending I don't feel that way never helps the situation either.

I guess I haven't been doing as terribly as I thought, because I managed to lose a couple pounds in the course of all this wasting away in bed. I feel good about that, because I could tell there was something not right happening with my body when I was circling around 215-220 over the last couple of weeks. It just felt distended and toxic and wrong somehow, so it's nice to see the numbers came down when my body started feeling better again. I have had two straight days where I haven't eaten anything nasty--that fancy new grocery store with the fancy organic convenience food is really going to be a life saver, I think--and I'm heading up to the Bikram yoga studio to try out a class this afternoon. I wrote an email to the guy who owns the studio at the beginning of this week asking a few questions about whether the practice is too strenuous for really heavy people and whether I could maybe trade tuition for helping wash the mats or doing secretarial work and he wrote back IN ONE GIANT RUN-ON SENTENCE ABOUT HOW EVERYTHING WOULD BE JUST FINE AND I SHOULD DEFINITELY COME AND DON'T WORRY ABOUT A THING and I was like, "Dude. Whoa, dude. " and then I wiped the blood from my poor assaulted eyeballs and reread the message and it was very encouraging and nice, so I'm feeling pretty good about this afternoon. I hope I don't pass out and die in the room, because then when my parents come and clean out my apartment my mom will find the episode of Louis Theroux's Weird Weekend: Swingers I recorded off BBC America and I just couldn't bear the thought of her finding out her heroic efforts to avoid ever exposing me to the idea that people actually touch their bodies together for any other reason than to pass on the love of the Holy Spirit across the pews in church hadn't succeeded.

A lot of the reason I've been freaking out over the past month especially is because I'm kind of coming to this weird juncture in my life where I'm finally getting my shit together here, but I'm also trying to figure out what to do next. Like, on Tuesday, when I go down to my hometown to vote, my parents are also taking me out to dinner because I paid off all my debt this month. My mom said she was proud of me. She actually said she was...proud of me. That's really huge, because I think the last time my mom was proud of me was in 1997 (or maybe during Thanksgiving 2001 when I poured a glass of milk from a full gallon jug and didn't spill any of it on the counter, which had never happened before and has never again happened since). But at the same time that I'm pretty proud of having fixed my financial situation, there's the overriding sense of shame that I got myself into that mess in the first place and shouldn't have, and that I could very, very easily slip up and do it again. I applied for a credit card, at the advice of a friend who is really good with money, only because I know I need to have some sort of revolving debt to rebuild my credit, but I am beyond terrified of even activating it for fear that somehow just HAVING the card in my wallet will mean that I'll pass out and wake up the next morning somehow having purchased a Dyson vacuum, a Shetland pony, and $600 worth of lip gloss. You snicker, but I have empirical reason to be concerned.

I also am minorly freaking because I've finally settled here, and it's been a long time since I've been settled anywhere. My junior year of high school, we moved out of the house I was born in to a brand new house and ever since then I've been moving. I haven't lived in any one place longer than two years; this address is the first I can count as a permanent one since 1998. I have a coffee grinder, a 401K, a garage, and a lovely collection of cleaning supplies that make my house smell like an English garden. I'm very settled in my job right now. I have friends I can drink a beer with if I'm so inclined, and other than a few little dips into despair, I'm not really THAT depressed. Things could definitely be worse.

It's just that this isn't where I want to be settled, and so I'm looking for ways out. I'm going to take the LSAT in June, and I'm thinking very seriously about law school for 2009-2010. I went to St. Louis last weekend to visit some friends, and I loved the neighborhood around Washington University. I'm going to visit another friend in NYC for a week in March, and I'm going to check out Fordham and maybe Columbia. I could see myself in DC, too, or even Chicago after I start giving myself testosterone injections so I grow enough body hair to handle the winters. I have lots of possibilities. But as much as I'm excited about movin' on up and doing something challenging and intellectually stimulating in fabulous places like DC or New York, I am beyond terrified. How do I pack up four years of work and life and all this stuff and cram it into a studio apartment in Harlem? How do I even begin to afford a studio apartment in Harlem? What happens if the cats go insane from being cooped up in a single room for three years and I get evicted because they won't stop meowing? What happens if I go insane because there's a cockroach in my bathtub? I will move if I see a cockroach, I swear to God. What if I become a lawyer and realize I hate it way more than I ever disliked teaching? What if I don't even get into a decent law school and I'm stuck here for the rest of my life?

And I know, intellectually, that if I want a different life I have to start from ground zero to get there. I know I have to take a chance and just do it. I know moving to a different city with millions of cultural opportunities and where my friends are would be infinitely more rewarding than my life here in Asshole, Missouri where "cultural opportunity" means someone hired the remaining two members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to play on a trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot for March of Dimes week. I also know that I'm creating my own perfect storm of anxiety and inertia by worrying about things that aren't even close to transpiring yet, and I should just be focusing on the things I can control now instead of pricing 5th floor walk-ups in Washington Heights that won't even be available in 2009.

I guess sometimes when I get this way I'd like to be able to put my head on someone's lap and tell them I'm really tired from working so hard to make everything better and not being sure what to do and then maybe that someone would just let me lie there for awhile and they'd even let me watch Ugly Betty while they played with my hair. So, in the absence of that, I put out my frustrations here and then I feel better and then I can go back to the really important things in life, like figuring out how to wash out the stench of gasoline and regurgitated Fruit Loops from my work shoes before tomorrow morning.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Are You There, God? It's Me, Erin.

I am very close to giving up and shutting down this blog.

And I don't want to quit, deep down, but I don't know how long I can string out more and more blog entries about dieting and losing weight and getting healthy when I'm not doing any of those things. I'm getting worse, losing momentum, and I just really want to pull the covers over my head and do the easy thing and just give up.

I know I'm setting myself up to fail. I realize this every single morning when I wake up too late to make breakfast so I grab a doughnut or an Egg McMuffin on the way to work. I know it's my fault whenever I succumb to my usual post-work malaise and burrow in my bed with some kind of junk food and stay there until it's time for to actually go to sleep. I know it's my fault that I don't exercise, and I don't try to make myself cook the food I buy. I know all this.

But I swear, if I COULD make myself do these things I would. I really would. I hate this inertia more than anything in my life. My body has been screaming with pain over the past few weeks because I haven't been moving it, but the idea of exercising or even standing for more than few minutes at a time is exhausting.

I've caught myself praying over this a couple times, and I don't really pray. It's more of a "Dude, help." kind of plea, and I don't know if Jesus or whoever even thinks that counts. But I also know that something has to be pretty bad for me to even subconsciously be praying about it, so that's telling me something has to change. I need something to change.

The more I think about this, the more I'm starting to become convinced that all the problems in my eating disorder, the almost comatose state I go into when I get home, the depression, the anger...they're not the problems. I really think they're just symptoms of some sort of enormous spiritual deficit that I haven't ever identified before. I feel empty. I think I eat and eat and eat because there's a hole inside me that I try to fill in all the wrong ways. I feel like I need more. I just don't know what that "more" is.

Sometimes, even though I'm really cynical about it, I think there is a God that watches over me. I believe this for purely circumstantial and silly reasons, like the time in college when I had thirteen cents in my checking account, and I owed $225.00 in rent by the end of the week and then I received a random profit sharing check from a summer job for $226.00. Things like that tend to happen to me enough that I think there's more than just coincidence to it, although that really doesn't seem to be much of a basis for religious faith. If I wanted to be so precious as to say that God's answered my prayers for help yet again, I guess I should mention that a huge grocery/health food store opened up about ten miles from my house, which means I'd only have to drive 15 minutes to get decent food instead of 30. I also noticed a Bikram Yoga studio had opened up in the same area, which also means I could drive there in 15 minutes instead of 45 or an hour. I don't know why I think those are my only chances to fix this, but right now I do. The yoga classes are hideously expensive; $150 a month, which I cannot afford at all right now, but feel like I need to purchase anyway. I emailed the man who runs the studio and he said he might be able to cut a work study scholarship deal with me if I would commit to going for awhile. I am terrified that yoga will end up just like tango, or aerobics classes, or Jazzercise or the old yoga classes, and when faced with the site of my enormous bulk in the studio mirror, I will leave after the first class and never come back. It'll be another opportunity I couldn't sustain because of the cost, or the driving, or because of my own stupid insecurities. It'll be another disappointment and if it ends up that way I'm just giving up.

Every night when I get home from work and I lie here on this goddamned bed with my laptop and my phone and I slip in and out of a fitful all-night nap before bed I think "This can't get worse. You will never be more emotionally bankrupt than you are tonight. Tomorrow will be better." And then tomorrow's worse. Something has to change. I need to figure out what that something is. Jesus, if you've got me on your Google Reader, I could use a little help. Thanks.