Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Revising a What If

Jon and I went camping with a few friends last May over Memorial Day weekend, and aside from the teeth-chattering temperatures and blood sucking mosquitoes that lurked in the night air, we had a really good time. We'd brought enough alcohol and s'more makings to last a month and we didn't dare let any of it go to waste.

I'm bringing this up now, 4 months later, because on our last night there, while huddled around the campfire, I was asked a question I haven't been able to get out of my head since:

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only a CD player and 5 albums, what albums would you want to have with you?

It seems like a simple enough question, but music is extremely important to me. I've even been known to be so dramatic as to say it's the reason I breathe, it's what pumps the blood through my veins. My mood, whatever it may be at a certain time, determines the music I have to have with me at that time, just as the music I'm listening to determines the mood I'm in. I mean, I named my freaking iPod for crying out loud! I live it and I love it and I have been banging my head against the walls since Memorial Day, trying to pick just 5 albums that could satisfy me for a lifetime.

My original answer went a little something like this:

1. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes
2. Ani Difranco, To The Teeth
3. The Decemberists, Picaresque
4. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
5. Death Cab for Cutie, Plans

I knew it was wrong a mere 2 minutes after the list left my mouth. Could I really stomach another 10 years of Little Earthquakes after it was the sound track of my teens? It's a great album, I still think Tori Amos is amazing, but I overplayed her big time, and she may bring back too many lonely memories to bare while stranded on a deserted island, alone. And not 1 but 2 Decemberists albums? Really? Do I not need more selection than that when I've only got 5 choices to begin with? And Death Cab for Cutie is great--a little more mainstream than I would prefer--but I don't think it's so much Death Cab as it is Ben Gibbard why this album is on here. Truth be told, if I wasn't married, I'd be all over Ben Gibbard like Mary is all over Michael Phelps in that AT&T commercial. Oh right, I'm already like that, but whatever. The point is I'm not so sure Death Cab is the direction I should have taken with that last pick.

So, I've had 4 months to think about this and I've come to the conclusion that this just isn't possible. I need the musical equivalent of Netflix on my deserted island so I can switch out my albums every couple of weeks.

It is possible, however, to pick 5 albums I would take with me if I were leaving on a cruise tomorrow. We can just pretend that my ship sank but I awoke to find myself washed up on the shore, and 20 yards away was a waterproof bag containing a CD player, an endless supply of batteries, and my 5 albums:

1. Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Love Bad News
2. The Postal Service, Give Up
3. Kate Nash, Made of Bricks
4. The Decemberists, The Crane Wife
5. Ani Difranco, Revelling

There, and I even still have me some blissfully poetic Ben Gibbard, just in his mailman persona. Now, to make the list absolutely perfect, I really do need one of the other cruise passengers, God rest their soul, to have stuffed The Decemberists Picaresque into a little zip lock baggie and send it floating on over my way. I don't know how I'll ever make it forever without hearing The Engine Driver again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Girl Disappearing

“I know this is a personal question, but are you losing weight?”

“I am.”

”I thought you looked slimmer! How are you doing it? Weight Watchers?”

“Nope, I’m just eating right and exercising.”

“Well good for you! It sounds so easy, but it’s hard, isn’t it?”

“It was hard at first, but it’s gotten a lot easier with time.”

“Well, you look great. It’s really starting to show.”

I’ve lost 31 pounds since May 22, 2008. Even though 31 pounds sounds like a lot, I don’t see much difference in the mirror other than smaller hips and more defined leg muscles, so I have to rely on comments like the one above from a co-worker, and the fact that I am continually moving to a smaller notch on my belt every couple of weeks as reassurance that I’m doing this whole weight loss thing right. 31 pounds doesn’t show a lot on me, because in the big picture, I have a total of 110 pounds to lose before reaching my ideal weight. Of course, now I only have 79 to go, but that’s a piece of cake, right?

Actually, with the exception of that first month when I lost a lot less than I had hoped, it has been relatively easy. Once I was able to accept “slow and steady wins the race" where weight loss is concerned, and that losing nearly 8 pounds a month actually rocks, I began to look at all of this as second nature. I have changed my life. I have changed my relationship with food. Food was once something I ate because it tasted awesome and made me happy for a few hours, but now it's something I eat to fuel my body and help it run as efficiently as it can.

I also learned very early on that I shouldn’t deny myself anything, even absolute junk, because depriving myself of something I really, really wanted was an express ticket back to my old eating habits. I have to watch portion sizes, but because I eat junk less frequently, and because I still find a way to work it in to my daily calorie allotment, it hasn’t slowed my progress at all. I’ve lost 31 pounds even though I still eat at Chipotle once a week on average--I’m just not having McDonald’s for breakfast, and Burger King for lunch beforehand.

I don’t know why I’m rambling about this. I’m not trying to sell you on anything, I swear. I think I’m doing this more to satiate my own shock, actually. I can’t believe I’ve come this far and I’m not miserable or ready to give up. As someone who resigned herself to being fat for the rest of her life, I’m shocked I didn’t give up the first day. I wasn’t happy where I was even five months ago--I was inconsolable, in fact--but I didn’t know how to change something that had always been, so I just accepted it, and appreciated the fact that my husband loved me exactly as I was even if I didn’t understand why.

I’m ashamed of how stupid I was, to have yielded as easily as I did and not trying to do this sooner, but the truth is I was defeated back in elementary school when I was called to Principal Kimbal's office and told that someone with thighs the size of mine should only wear shirts that came down to their knees. Yes, I just typed SHIRTS, not SKIRTS, and it was on purpose. Apparently, my childhood thighs that fit into a size 10 jeans (no, not an ideal size for an 11-year-old, but not nearly bad enough to merit such attention) were too hideous for her to stomach and should be covered, completely, and preferably by a bulky sweater. Principal Kimbal tried to teach me about modesty, but really only walked away with a huge chunk of my self-esteem. A few years later, in middle school, a scrawny kid named Josh asked if I wanted some butter to go with my rolls. He was just trying to be a jackass, and I knew it, but he may as well have dealt me his best right hook and shattered my cheek bone, because he left me with an ugly scar to carry all these years. And while I can’t blame my old principal or Josh for letting myself get morbidly obese—I’m the only one to blame for that—they, and the comments of a few others, broke me mentally.

As a result, I disappeared into my own little world. I tried to become invisible thinking people wouldn’t comment or poke fun at something they couldn’t see. The problem was I couldn’t hide from myself. I am my own worst enemy, and I am a brutal critic.

But in the last 4 months I’ve found myself again. I’ve found real, honest to goodness happiness within myself. I’m not willing to let it go anymore. I’m not giving up. I look and feel phenomenal, and having people notice only provides that much more validation.

I started this little journey at 242 pounds. I was 242 pounds of blubber with eyeballs and a big heart. I am now down to 211 pounds with some muscle definition and a relatively tight butt. My ultimate goal is to get down to 132 but that’s not set in stone. I’m taking it 1 pound at time and if I decide I’m happy at 150, I’ll stay there.

I’m still a girl disappearing, but this time it's not into my head, it's in my own clothes.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Dear Lord,

Thank you for Friday. I was beginning to think it would never get here.

Yours faithfully,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An Uncanny Resemblance

I should be in bed right now, but I thought I'd log on to the internet real quick to see what I'd missed throughout the day, and of course there was something I couldn't resist mentioning.

When Jon is really concentrating on something, like hitting a nail on the head with a hammer, lining up the ball for a foul shot, or gunning down villains in a video game, he has the tendency to stick out his tongue and fold it up over his top lip.

So when I saw this photo of Chuck I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My "Spanish" Comedian

They say having a television in the bedroom can kill romance, but it’s a double-edged sword in our house. The romance is already dead if neither of us can get enough sleep, so we go back and forth with the TV argument all the time. I need the murmur and soft lights of the television to fall asleep and Jon needs pitch black and silence.

We've been able to work it out most recently by me going to bed an hour or so earlier than he does. I turn on the TV, watch an episode of Home Improvement or something of equally mindless entertainment, and slowly drift off to sleep. Jon will come in when he’s tired, turn off the TV, and rest in silence.

It was working out just fine, until a few nights ago, when I started falling short on my end of the bargain and staying up a little too late, forcing the two of us to be heading to bed at the same time. But surprisingly, there’s been little arguing, only a few minor instances when threats of separate bedrooms came up, but it was fairly easy to come to a compromise: I could keep the TV on only if he had full control of the remote (read: he could watch ESPN highlights). I agreed and have been falling asleep to football analysts predicting this year’s Super Bowl Champions even though it’s only three games into the season.

Last night was a little different, though. I’m assuming he got his fill of sports from Monday Night Football, because he abruptly flipped to a Spanish soap opera before settling into bed. I must have been extremely tired because I didn't think anything of it. I didn't even realize the expensive-looking man was consoling the very distraught woman in Spanish until Jon started doing voice-overs:

“Please, darling, you have to tell me what’s bothering you.”

“It’s just…I can’t believe you could do that…how could you burn the dinner rolls? Tonight was supposed to be beautiful, and now it’s ruined!”

“Oh, my love, I am so sorry. You must know I didn't do it on purpose.”

“You didn't? You mean you still love me? Then I forgive you!”

“I do! I love you so much, I promise I’ll never burn another dinner roll for as long as I live!”

I waited until he was finished before I gave him the crazy eye. I had two things in mind after watching his acting debut: 1) WTF? and 2) There was no way this was his first time creating impromptu lines like this; his timing was a little too in sync with the actor’s emotions, he didn't struggle to come up with material (although it probably should have involved a murder or an affair--instead of dinner rolls--to properly fit a soap opera), and he wasn't laughing at himself. My husband is a freaking pro at adlibbing Spanish subtitles.

“What?” he asked when he noticed me eyeing him from my pillow, “Haven’t you ever done that before?”

“No. I can’t say that I have.”

“Oh. Sometimes, when there’s nothing else on, I just turn to the Spanish channel and pretend like I know what they’re saying. It’s some of the best television I've ever watched!”

If I had to choose between romance and witnessing my husband’s goofy humor for the rest of my life, it would be his humor, every time. He doesn't know it yet, but he just forged our new bedtime ritual.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Even a Coupon Clipper

I felt the color drain from my face, and I heard Jon let out a whoosh of air when the cashier said our total was $94.98. That’s $95 dollars for one week’s worth of groceries, for two people. I felt the urge to throw myself down on the scuffed linoleum floor, kicking and screaming about the insane prices of everything from strawberries to toilet paper. I imagined the whole scene; me, on the floor, screams eventually fading into a soft whimper, my legs stop kicking as I slowly curl them up to my chest, and I begin quietly begging God to stop corporate America from continually raising the price of dog food so that, you know, maybe I could eat, too.

We blew budget by twenty bucks, and I really shouldn’t have been surprised. We blow budget all the time anymore--on everything--not just groceries. Every time I pay bills I open the Excel sheet containing our monthly expenditures and I’m constantly tweaking something--moving money from the planned savings column to the gas column, or from miscellaneous spending to utilities--because no matter how much I adjust, or how much I move an amount from one to another, it’s still more expensive the following month. Money is being taken from me so fast that I honestly can’t see where it’s going, and that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, like I’m incapable of adding up the numbers, or that I’m being careless with my paycheck. It makes me feel unworthy of owning the things that I do, to be having the fun that I have, no matter how modest or low-key it all really is. Sure, we’ve made some pretty dumb financial decisions in the past, but we made it through--we corrected them--and we learned our lesson, but yet, here we are; making sound decisions and only getting shafted.

Okay, I’m wallowing in the drama of it, and that’s not the point. Twenty dollars does not break the bank, but every dollar suddenly being stretched to the limit, and prices all around us steadily inching upward to the point that I can’t even estimate a correct budget, and the money coming in moving at a turtle's pace in comparison—that’s why the bank is broken. That’s why my system doesn’t work anymore. This economy is killing everyone, and I suppose Jon and I should consider ourselves fortunate for only feeling the effects of it in the last few months.

But my question is when does it end? Who can fix it? I’m not holding my breath for McCain or Obama. Neither one has convinced me they have the ability to right our wrong economy. Neither one has convinced me that we’re not going to be facing another 4 years of the same old crap.

For future reference, to whom do I have to sell my soul to keep from spending another $95 on produce, bread, meat, and dairy products for another week?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Verdict

"I love wine!" I announced on the drive home from Sarah's Vineyard last night, "I could drink it every day!"

You could say my new found appreciation for wine was due to my intoxicated state after the first few glasses, but I like to think it's because of my maturing taste buds, and my new philosophy--I can enjoy anything if I just put my mind to it--with the exception of mushrooms, of course, because my mind will be long gone before I can eat a mushroom without gagging.

My memory is a little hazy, but I do remember tasting multiple types of wine; a white, sweet Ohio table wine, an American blueberry wine, a dry, red table wine, and chardonnay. I was a big fan of the sweet white wine, blueberry wine, and the chardonnay, but the red table wine; a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Chambourcin, and Frontenac grapes with the title "Miserable," was at the bottom of my list. I don't even know enough about wine to know what I didn't like about it other than it hurt going down. And I don't know about you, but I prefer to avoid anything that burns as it travels down my throat--that's what cough syrup is for.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

If I Were Edible

I'd be a Seven Layer Tex Mex Dip; soft, spicy, a little rough around the edges, but entirely palatable.

Jon and I are going to a vineyard tonight to celebrate a friend's birthday. While I don't know much about wine other than I like it buried in a lot of fruit a la sangria style, I've never met a guacamole or avocado I didn't like, so I'm bringing the dip along as my food contribution.

Wine, like vegetables, is one of those weird things that I've always wanted to like but never acquired a taste for. But if the last few months of force-feeding myself vegetables and then recently coming to like them, very much actually, is any indication of what I can do with wine, then hand me that bottle and corkscrew because we're going to have a good time tonight!

Who knows, maybe tonight is my first step toward becoming a wine connoisseur.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Veggies Don’t Bite

Vegetables and I have a very strange relationship--carrots especially. My parents never did a very good job of force feeding fruits and vegetables (of course, I never made it an easy job to force anything so I can't blame them) and as a result I've grown up to be an especially picky eater who literally has to shove any vegetable, excluding the simple canned variety of corn and green beans, down her own throat. I only have one very old and vague memory of actually choosing a carrot as a snack and it was when my brother and I were much, much younger. We were building a snowman in the backyard and we ran back into the house for the finishing touch--a carrot for a nose--only we grabbed three carrots from the vegetable drawer; one to complete the snowman, and one for each of us to eat. My memory of eating raw vegetables abruptly ends there, some 20 or so odd years ago.

I asked our family doctor at my last check up if it was a safe and practical idea to force vegetables on myself in the hopes that one day I would actually enjoy them again. Her response was comical and helped me realize how silly my fear of edible plants was--she cocked her head to the side, the edges of her mouth visibly straining to keep from smiling too much to not leave me feeling too ashamed for asking, and she said, "Katie, I can tell you, in my own professional opinion, it is not going to be harmful to you, in any way, to eat more vegetables."

So, with my doctor's blessing, I have faithfully packed 18 baby carrots (two servings) in my lunch every day for the past 3 months. The only problem is I don't always eat them. I find myself eating around them instead. I'll dig through my lunch sack for an apple, or tuna sandwich, or yogurt, pushing the carrots further down each time until around 5:00 when I reach in for the last time and come away with only a bag of vegetables. I swear it's a psychological problem, because all I have to do is get over the hurdle of eating the first 2 carrots and then I remember, "Oh yeah! I really like these!" and the other 16 are gone within minutes. So, in theory, my plan worked, I really do like them, but the habit of not initially cringing is proving to be hard to break.

I did it again today. I spent my last hour at work staring at a ziplock bag of carrot sticks wishing they were Cheetos--one of the most tasty yet nasty of my old food addictions. The whole time I was trying to reason with myself, explaining to myself that I needed the fiber, I needed the vitamins, I needed the vegetables to complete my food pyramid for the day, but it was looking like another day that they would go uneaten. But eventually I broke down--I must have gotten hungry enough--and ate the first 2 carrots fifteen minutes before it was time for me to leave. I spent half the drive home munching on carrots and singing along to music until eventually I reached my hand in the bag and came back with nothing. The carrot sticks were gone, and I was disappointed.

Yesterday, I told my little sister that she shouldn't feed her son Cheetos, and I still think it's sound advice, but I also think it came out a bit too harsh, so Kristin, if you're reading this, I am proof of why you shouldn't feed your son Cheetos, so that one day when he's an adult trying to lose a few pounds or just looking to be as healthy as he can be, he's not staring at a bag of cancer-fighting carrot sticks and wishing they were fried corn meal sprayed with a powered cheese of unknown origins.