snapshot: 8/17/14-8/23/14

Hey there.  So, I’ve sorta been away for longer than I anticipated.  I took a brief FB/Twitter/blog break for my birthday.  It was nice.  Almost too nice.  I contemplated going away for good.  But I do like y’all, and I have my hermit moments that I probably need to overcome.  In any case, I’m rethinking the how part and coming back a changed woman.  A while back, I used to do this snapshot thing every week.  I’m not sure why I stopped.  But I thought it might be a good thing to resurrect.  Without further ado, here’s my life this week–as a newly minted 36 year old. (Ack).

reading-2

In case you didn’t know, I’m in grad school.  So, um, yea–I read boring things.  Namely, these three texts right now.

trower

renz

toolkit

When I’m not knee-deep in APA style, I’m trying to diagnose myself and my kitty Rilly.

scratch

hormone

I’ll be more interesting in October.

watching-2

 

Masters of Sex is back in full swing for a second season.  Things have been a bit rocky for Bill Masters.  He’s adjusting to life with a new baby and an increasingly controlling wife, new situations with work–all in the name of preserving his study, race relations, and his ongoing interest in Virginia.  It all makes for a fascinating look at humanity–all through the lens of sex and relationships.  It’s hands-down one of my favorite shows.

Now, of course, you need to start from the beginning.  But, if you want to see what this show is all about, please watch “Fight” from Season 2 first.  It really digs into these two characters and also really tackles some tough subjects like what it means to be each gender.  You really get to see both characters struggling with the idea–trying to find definitions they can live with.  I couldn’t find a great clip to share, but here’s a boring sneak peek at this episode.

So, we recently got  a TiVo, and it makes life a little easier–especially when it comes to recording new TV shows.  Since my undergrad days, I’ve gotten in the habit of recording all the new shows and then watching all of them.  Sometimes, this works out great.  Other times, you’re watching New Girl and hating doe-eyed girls you used to love.  (No matter how hard I try to like that show, I always end up turning it off 2 minutes in).

Recently, my experimental ways paid off.  Truth be told, I probably would have tuned in to this show just based on the name.  I wasn’t sure what all to expect.  I actually thought it’d be a cartoon like The Simpsons.  In any case, I really enjoyed Black Jesus on Adult Swim–and I’m shocked as Hell that I did.  I don’t usually like comedy that tries to be “edgy” or “controversial.”  Usually, they spend too much time on the controversy and not the genuinely funny.  But Black Jesus is great–albeit cringeworthy.  It plays with stereotypes–across the board–whether it’s religion, poverty, race, or gender.  Everyone is fair game, and they do take it all the way.  At first, I was really conflicted that I was laughing at stuff that normally, in another format, would make me really uncomfortable.  I hate stereotypes–so, so much.  But then, I realized I was laughing because the truth of the matter is that these stereotypes are alive and well in our culture.  And seeing them in this light really shows how stupid they really are.  It really makes you think about the stuff we all just take for granted and what it really means.  And it does it by being absurd.  A lot of people will probably be offended–and I totally get why.  But I think it’s all in the name of getting us all to think about the stereotypes we’ve reduced other human beings to–and why.  Give it a try.  Maybe you’ll like it, too.

For the last several weeks, my late night TV binge has been True Blood.  I know.  I didn’t expect to like it, but it became a potato chip show for me.  Once you start one episode, you’re 10 in by 4 am.  It hasn’t helped my insomnia.  I finally caught up a couple of weeks ago–just in time for the series finale.  Seven seasons is a lot of vampy sexy whatever.  I never did like Sookie or Bill.  But I’ve always loved Lafayette, Eric, & Sam.  I’m still hoping Sookie will stop chasing Bill and find her way back to my boy Eric.  I mean–come on–look at him.  The last season has been particularly bad, but I guess I can hang in there a little while longer.

lots-5

 

I’ve had short hair for a while now, and I’m probably going to be growing it out for the wintertime.  Short hair is so great for summer, but I honestly do get cold in the winter with it this short.  It’s basically been this cut and sorta this color for the past several months.  The last stylist I went to didn’t get it short enough (sigh), so I’m left with more of the in-between growth that I wanted to avoid for a few more weeks.

current hair

 

I’m thinking of doing something like this with a lot less blonde.  Probably more of a strawberry blonde and maybe a few fun colors thrown in.  Although I am really into browns for colder months.  I probably won’t do this for a couple weeks, though.

hair aspiration

As I mentioned earlier, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my presence in my own life–whether it’s here on my blog, in the real world, or on social networks.  I’ve been a bit more of a hermit than I like to be, overall.  With good reasons, of course.  I haven’t felt really well in a while, and I’m still trying to figure that out.  Plus, school and a demanding job kind of take up most of my free time.  But I am feeling a push to be more social in a thoughtful way.  In the meantime, since I am busy, a lot of my socializing has to happen online.  But I don’t like how it’s been happening.  So, I guess, if I want change–I have to be the change I seek.

I read this article recently, and I realized I absolutely “like” things to avoid saying something more; to people please; or “be there” for my friends.  It’s a flimsy substitute for actual friendship.  And welp–I’m better than that.  So, from now on, if I do anything on Facebook, it’s going to require some thought and effort.  If I can’t muster it, then I don’t need to act.

I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity.

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close

 

My love of tea, premium chocolates, anything involving almond milk or coconut oil, and avocado.

Ever new ways to be gluten-free and not suffer.

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acure

This stuff is magic.

oil

Satsuma Perfume from the Body Shop

Aqua moccasins.

Poncho shawls.

Cheap, colorful sundresses from Target.

Lacy nightgowns in pastel shades.

Many tank tops.

lots2-6

 

A very long vacation from school & work…not happening…2 more months of school & new project for work.

To watch:

begin again

wish i was here

guardians

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califia

honeylav

lots2-4

weather

listening-2

Flashbulb Fires’ Unseen Things

brand new stuff from a favorite local band who apparently wrote this for William H. Macy.

capturing-2

bird

I’m way behind on photo-editing.  This was from this past February at Wash Park.

lots-2

Breakfast this week:
Overnight Oats + Chia  + Dried Fruit + Pecans or Walnuts + Toasted Coconut + fresh fruit (mangoes, strawberries, peaches)

Lunches & Dinners:

Pesto Crusted Lamb Rack with Sun-dried Tomatoes, asparagus, and pepper salad, toasted pistachios, and roasted sweet potatoes

Cocoa-Coffee Rubbed Beef Brisket with mirepoix demi glace, horseradish roasted parsnips, and herb sauteed squash

Tropical Pork with mango-pineapple chutney, coconut cauliflower, and ginger carrots

Fines Herbs Airline Chicken Breast with roasted red pepper-caper sauce, sauteed kale, baked sweet potato

Spicy Old Bay poached chicken, mixed baby greens, celery, onions, heirloom tomatoes, & lemon vinaigrette

Rosemary & Garlic Top Sirloan with sauteed wild mushrooms, green peppercorn sauce, green onion mashed yams, & broccoli

Accompanying all meals: Wild Rice Salad with Dried Fruit & Nuts in an Orange Walnut Vinaigrette

Snacks:

Boar’s Head Roast Beef & Sausalito Turkey + Dill Havarti Lettuce Wraps
Lots of watermelon & pineapple
Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips with Guacamole

Beverages:

Lots of herbal tea, iced

Desserts:

Gluten-Free, Paleo-Friendly Pumpkin Pie Mug Cakes

Bissinger’s Banana Pecan Caramel Peruvian Pink Salt Chocolate Bar

TCHO chocolate bars

Lake Champlain Five Star Chocolate Bar

lots2-3

leave

calm

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hunter

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My sweet kitties, always.  Even the bad one.

be here

Being here is pretty nice.

sig

the observer

Several days ago, my roommate and I decided to do a cleanse.  I’ve been feeling pretty crappy.  My job and school was causing me a lot of stress.  Which was causing me to eat things that my body can’t handle.  I was undoing a lot of healthy habits and just feeling like I needed a major intervention.  I told my roommate I wanted to do a bland diet–sort of like the one I did a few months ago when I had a horrible stomach flu.  I noticed I felt a lot better, afterwards, and–since I was struggling so much with cutting sugar, soda, gluten, and dairy, I thought it’d give me the chance to make a clean break.

A few weeks ago, my new naturopath diagnosed me with some food allergies and sensitivities: dairy, gluten, refined sugar, eggs, and tomatoes.  She strongly recommended a Paleo diet for me.  Now, I’ve struggled with the food thing for a long, long time.  All of my comfort foods–all my nostalgic foods–are all the things that make me sick.  I absolutely hated the idea of giving them up, but I knew enough was enough.  My body was being attacked every single day.  I couldn’t keep going like this.  Relying on sodas to keep me going wasn’t going to keep me healthy or happy.

When I told my roomie about my bland plan, he mentioned a local juicery and maybe we should look at their cleanses.  Because of my gall bladder surgery stuff, I was actually kind of terrified to do a full-on cleanse.  I mean, I’ve backslid progress-wise when it came to my post-gb body, but it was tolerable.  It took me a long time to get out of the intolerable part.  So, I wasn’t eager to go back to it.  Plus, I’m just damn busy and need my brain to function.  I can’t have a crappy attitude /grump-at-the-world day with the work I do.  I’m exhausted while eating food–so how would I deal with just juice?

I mean, I’d done cleanses before.  The horrible lemon water, prune juice nightmares that meant I’d never leave the house.  I lost weight and felt bad again within a week.  Would it even be worth it?

So, while my roomie decided to do the full-on cleanse–I decided to modify it…allowing myself some rice along with said juices.  Unfortunately, the day before said cleanse, I got super-sick with what was definitely food poisoning.  As much as I wanted to tough it out, my bile reflux was requiring me to eat more than just juice…or even juice and rice.  Needless to say, it seriously complicated things.  I ended up feeling really, really bad.  So, I decided that–to get the reflux under control–I’d allow myself to eat some meat and veggies with my rice and juice.  So, essentially, in addition to the juice, I ate the way I’m supposed to!  I still considered it a cleanse since I was eating pretty barebones and stayed away from everything I’m supposed to.

My roomie did really well on the cleanse, and I did well on my modified cleanse.  I had way more energy.  I slept better.  I had less allergy symptoms.  My skin cleared up.  My persistently getting worse tummy problems started healing.  The foggy feeling I always have went away.  I didn’t have any sugar cravings; I didn’t want dairy–not even cheese.  I gave up my nemesis soda like the bad habit it is without any problems.  By the end of the week, the roomie and I decided to go another week.  Only this time, my confidence buoyed, I decided to try the full-on cleanse…making no promises.  I had modified supplies at the ready.

The first day, I was mostly just tired.  I also noticed I was in a much better mood than normal–more even.  Bad things didn’t upset me so much.  My happy self came out more readily.  It was way easier to access joy.  Some of the juices (ahem, chlorophyll) were hard to drink–but most were great.  My body seemed to adjust right away.  So much so that drinking the final drink of the day–almond milk (so delicious)–was hard on me.  That night was super-rough, though, and I had some weird problems (probably not cleanse related) that made me cave and eat rice the following morning so I could take medicine to deal with it.  By 10 am, I was back to juice and have not looked back.

It’s been actually really good.  I feel a lot calmer.  I’m much more aware of my body and what it needs.  I do feel light-headed if I walk more than around the apartment.  But I have lots of energy and don’t feel like I’m struggling against food addictions.

I actually feel like I can give up all the things I need to.  I’ve made a conscious choice to cut soda out of my life for at least 3 mos…and then I’ll only have 1 every once in a while (if that)–and it better be the best damn soda ever.  I’m even okay with cheese going bye.  I’ve decided to have a 1x/week “cheat day” where I can eat the best quality of whatever I want–but I don’t feel like I’ll really go crazy.  The majority of the time, I’ll be doing veggies and protein with a fresh green juice.

The cleanse has probably been most beneficial in how it’s changed how I deal with my thoughts and emotions.  In the Untethered Soul, Michael Singer talks about the idea that there’s a sacred part of you–that’s the actual you–that isn’t your thoughts or your emotions.  That separate part of you is peaceful and basically just observes.  It’s in control and isn’t controlled by all the stuff happening in this crazy world.

I remember reading that and feeling like it was beyond me.  My existence was all about chasing emotions and overthinking.  I could not separate these things!  I have struggled all my life to do this.  I used to look at people who meditated with so much respect.  Clearly, I was just not cut out for this shit.

Oddly, I found myself doing that with this cleanse–almost immediately.  When things got hard, and my belly was talking to me–I found that I did separate (exactly!).  I realized that this calm part of myself wasn’t part of all those crazy thoughts and feelings.  As much as that part of me wanted to convince me it was.  Normally, those thoughts and feelings would trigger spontaneous decisions to do things that dishonored me…like ordering pizza after I decided to avoid such things–mostly because I knew I’d be seriously ill if I ate it.  This time, I just drank more water, took a breath, and waited.  Within five minutes, the feeling would pass.  I’d feel fine.  This kept happening, over and over.

Yesterday, I had a hard day.  I woke up pissed and everything was going wrong/being annoying.  The first part of the day, I truly grumped at everything–feeling more grumpy for being grumpy.  And then, there was a turning point.  I found myself acknowledging the feeling, but not giving into it or being controlled by it.  I just waited and gave myself permission to be a bitch (within reason).  When I did that, I could laugh at myself.

It’s been so much easier to practice self-care (truly hard for me, normally).  I don’t forget myself anymore.  I might get behind, but I’m on the list.

I’ve also been able to sort of apply this wisdom to my relationship boundaries.  I used to be a very passive aggressive person, and I’ve made conscious efforts to change that.  There are still a lot of people in my life who are like I was, and they assume I still am like them.  When I don’t do what they want or need–because it’s not what I want or need–they get angry and act passive-aggressively toward me.  This usually drives me crazy.  But I’ve been able to handle it–even yesterday–when I was so mad at everything.  I just sort of acknowledged the situation.  I realized, “Oh, I’ve outgrown that person.”  That’s why we’ve been distant.  Unfortunately, their haste to hold on to the situation and inability to see me as I am now–to know me now–has made the chasm grow deeper.  But they just aren’t ready.  They aren’t walking the same path.  They’re still back there.  They’re trying to keep me back there, so they don’t lose me.  But I’m already lost…and not lost.

The thing is–I’m only responsible for my own happiness.  With my friends, I just want their happiness.  I used to be someone who didn’t want that.  I wanted my happiness, and I wanted people to stay–at all costs.  So, I’d manipulate and force things so that those things would stay the same.  That’s a dictatorship–not a relationship.  Healthy relationships should support happiness–for everyone–and that means evolving.  Once that clicked, I realized…if we’re good for each other…if I need this person in my life, our paths will cross.  I can trust myself.  I can trust that person.  I can trust that the Universe is loving and kind.  I can trust and believe that I don’t have to do anything to get what I need as long as I stay true to my own happiness.

That means that–I acknowledge that we’re different now.  I acknowledge that our relationship isn’t what it was.  I am able to enforce my boundary of needing people who call themselves friends to be in my life–really in it–and not just pretending or pulling me along/being pulled along.  Stay or go–it’s alright.  It doesn’t mean goodbye.  I doesn’t mean shame or guilt or fixing.  It does mean living my life on my terms only for me and loving the people who are able to keep me company, whenever they are able to do so.

It makes it a lot easier.  And damn–it’s actually simple.  So simple.  Why the Hell did it take me this long to really really get it?

Protected: a life in plans

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unrecognizable

One of my favorite movies, ever, is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  It came out during what I call the Year of the Cyclone–2004.  The hardest year of my life.  At the time, my mother had just been diagnosed with CHF, and we were waiting for her to be stable enough to undergo open heart surgery.  My heart was literally breaking, too.  My then fiance had moved across the country for a job–without me–and he was miserable.  Then, he came back for a short period of time for a work project–with the intention of moving home permanently.  We had been through Hell & back–but I believed that him actually being here would fix it.  And, honestly, more than anything–I just needed him to be sane.  I needed him to be my rock.  I needed him to get through this awful thing that was engulfing my life.

Only he wasn’t.  I started noticing all the cracks in our relationship–how we didn’t quite fit anymore.  I started noticing how he didn’t really care about what was happening in my life–not in the way someone who loves you more than anyone should.  I just knew it wasn’t going to work.  But I clung on to it–because I remembered that guy who wrote me poems every day–who helped me carry the burden of my childhood–who got me through the grief that fell on me when I finally chose to be myself.

I wasn’t going to give up on that.  So, I tried–and tried–and sacrificed time with my ailing mother.  I made choices for myself that I can now only regret.  Mostly because he wasn’t who I thought he was.  Or maybe we weren’t.  Or maybe I changed.  Or maybe he did.  But–that thing we became?  It wasn’t worth one minute of holding my mother’s hand when she was scared.

I remember watching that movie right after all of that–and just bawling.  Uncontrollably.  Because I just wanted to pretend it didn’t exist…that my heart wasn’t shattered.  That I didn’t care.

Sometimes, I still do.

______________________________

A few weeks ago, I started the massive task of getting my digital shit together.  I decided that I would put all my music in one place.  All my pictures in one place.  All my movies in one place.  And then, I’d back up everything.

While I’m normally pretty responsible about things, I’ve been slacking on backing up these items–simply because of the volume.  I probably have more music than any sane human being.  I have an incredible collection of photos.  Like ridiculous amounts.  And in my rush to collect all of these things, I just put them where I had room.  No logic or rhyme.  It made it hard to manage and organize.  So, this was a good plan.

It was fine in the beginning–though so incredibly time consuming.  And then, one of my hard drives–the one that I was clearing off to use as a back-up–which had most of my movies–started being a bit combative with Windows.  To the point that my trusty laptop seemed to be failing.  So, I bought another laptop and decided to get everything off this drive as soon as possible.  I work from home, from this laptop, so I wanted to make sure I’d have a  back-up plan just in case.

In the process of clearing that drive, it started causing a whole host of problems.  Since it was on the same USB hub as my other hard drives, this was bad.  The other hard drives were also crashing and restarting randomly.  I did error checks, and everything was fine until yesterday.  I knew I was losing that one drive.  That was okay.  Nothing too important.  But this other drive was brand new and contained at least 3/4 of my music collection plus a good 1/4 of my photos.  Yesterday, while transferring data onto it, this drive suddenly stopped being recognized by my computer.  I tried everything.  I even tried the other laptop.  It wasn’t working.  Desperate, I finally emailed tech support for the device.  And then, I unplugged it in sheer defeat and took one more chance and plugged it back in.  It started running, and there was the drive.  It was 3 am.  I immediately signed up for a cloud back-up service.

_____________________________

When all of this was happening, I found myself grieving.  I had no idea what was on the drive.  I just knew that even one lost photo was a loss.  And it could take me years to figure out what I lost, music-wise.  It made me sad to know I was losing something and I couldn’t replace it–either because it was irreplaceable (in the case of pictures of my mother) or it was simply unknown.

Both things made me think about some things.  In an odd way, I started to feel like those photos–while irreplaceable–could never actually be lost.  Mostly because I was there when they were taken.  I lived that life–and while I didn’t have a photo to print out or share–I could hold it forever in my heart.  And then–is it really lost if you don’t know it’s there?  Isn’t it always there in your memory?

____________________________

When I was 26, I was in love with a guy who wrote me sappy poems.  I was naive enough to think that the way that we met–that who we were–was somehow meant to be and could weather any storm.  I lived with rose-colored, romantic sap glasses stuck to my face…mostly because the reality of my life was hard–and I needed to escape it.

Lately, I find myself kind of annoyed by that perspective on life.  When friends I know who are like I was post things on Facebook that hearken back to those times, I find that–instead of being enthralled–I’m kind of sickened.  I’m just not that girl anymore.  Because that girl needed to hide.  That girl needed the pretend.  She needed the photos and the music to know who she was and where she’d been.

Now, I just want a life that works for me.  I want real–the real that comes with trying and failing.  The ugly mess of cleaning it up and somehow getting the pieces to fit when they look like they never will.  It’s fine to hold onto things, but to know that those things don’t matter so much as what they represent.  All things change.  All people change.  And eventually, we all go kablooey.

The things we lose?  Those things aren’t meant for us.  They’re distractions from what really is ours.  And the faster we realize that, the faster we can start living the lives we need to live.

pity parties in introvert paradise

This past Friday, I started the last two classes of my MNM program.  One I’ve been, honestly, putting off for months.  The other is my capstone–which is basically the culmination of everything.  Both are probably the two most demanding classes I’ve taken.  And I’m doing them simultaneously during the final part of the summer.  After not really having a summer or a spring because work and school kept me so busy.  I’ll be in the most stress right around my birthday and probably won’t have time to celebrate.

This weekend, my roommate is out of town.  So, I was looking forward to a weekend to myself–finally.  I call these weekends Introvert Paradise weekends because I mostly do the things I used to do when I lived alone–things I desperately miss doing.  Like singing my lungs out at 3 am; talking to myself; and showering with the door open.  Silly things.  I usually eat nostalgic food, sleep in, and just chill.

I had a few different goals: 1) rest…I was stinking exhausted after last week; 2) watch as many ’80s movies as possible; 3) post an entry at my new collaboration; 4) clean; 5) get a head start on the week; and 6) do some self-work.  Namely, I’ve been wanting to start a Happiness Project, & I wanted to start making plans for the new year of my life–after the crazy settles.  I really want to do some different things in the next few months, but those things require a strategy.  So, I was hoping to get the foundations up.

While I had to start work on class stuff, for the most part, classes start pretty slow.  So, I was hopeful this weekend would be mine.  Only that wasn’t the case.  I already had major things due mid-week.  I also had an external drive go assplodey on me, and I got a summer cold.  This afternoon, I started feeling sorry for myself when I realized I’d done all the things I needed to do–but I never got to the stuff *I* really need for long-term sanity.  I focused on the things others needed from me instead, like always.  I do this pretty much all the time, and I just started beating myself up again…pretty much the opposite of the self-care I was hoping for–and then I beat myself up for that.

Pity Party Alma is not pretty.  She’s an angry girl.  Mostly angry at herself, but really angry at the world.  Like hating on everything since the beginning of her existence.  It’s all rooted in feeling like it’s never my turn, and life is continually unfair.  I’ve worked so hard just to have normal–things most people take for granted.

Then, I sort of kicked my own ass and made myself own my choices.  I don’t believe in victims, and I’m certainly not one.  Yes–I did get handed a raw deal in a lot of ways–but I’ve made the most out of them.  Every single decision I’ve made has led me to better places for me–and yes–I’ve had to work hard.  And no–that means I often don’t get to do all the cool, fun things I really want to do.  But I chose these paths for all the places these things will take me to.  And playing all day every day would honestly be boring, eventually.  I do need to play, but moreso–I need to figure out how to do both.  And not pout about it–because pouting is for whiners.  And I’m not that either.

I reminded myself of who I actually am.  I’m not some frivolous person.  I have big dreams and goals a mile long.  I don’t settle for easy.  I was that girl that crawled out of that life, and I live an existence that is absolutely a privilege.  I don’t get to complain about it.  I was never supposed to be here.  I made this happen, and if I can do that, 8 weeks of Hell is absolutely nothing.  I’ve walked that path a few million times.  Bring it.

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