Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting Fit Project Update

So it's a Tuesday, which means it's a Weigh-In Day.  I kind of fell off the wagon two weeks ago when I was on my second cruise with my mom.  Also, things had been going really well for the first few weeks, and now it appears to be slowing down a little bit.  I think that's normal - your body starts to get used to the new level of food you're giving it, etc.  But anyway, this is the 7th week that I've been on this Lifestyle Adjustment, and if I had been losing 2 pounds per week, I would be down 14 pounds now.  Which I didn't make this week.  But dammit, I'm close.  I'm down a total of 13.6 pounds.  So....half-yay?

I'm going to have a brainstorm to think how I can kick it in gear again.  I've been getting a little lazy with keeping my food journal and measuring food.  So I'm going to think about things I can do to jump-start the plan again, so I don't get into a rut.  I'm thinking about adding more exercise (I currently work out aerobically 4 days a week or so, and do situps and pushups almost every day - I could up it to 5 days and then 6) or getting rid of some more calories - I've been hovering around 1900 most days, and could drop another 100 out easily enough.

In terms of what 13.6 pounds looks like in real-life - I've lost 5.5 inches total from the four places I measure (hips, waist, thigh, bust) and can just about fit into my pre-pregnancy Gap jeans (I actually can fit them, if I don't care much about breathing).  A pair of trousers I bought on March 10 are loose on me now, which is funny because I almost bought the next size up because they were slightly tight when I bought them.

So, we're plugging along, but I need to figure out how to take it to the next level now.  This is where it gets tough - any sustained weight loss happens over the course of months, and it's hard to stay motivated to keep it all fresh and new during those months.  I bought a dress a size smaller than I normally wear, and have been trying it on every week, and can just about fit into it now.  That's pretty good motivation.  But I've got to figure out some other ways to keep it new.  So that's the Conundrum of the Week.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Things I'm Giving to the Thrift Store: The "Check in My Bag" Edition

On August 22 2005, I had my first date with J.  Two weeks later, when things were still all new and unsettled, we were going to go to the Fontana raceway for the Nascar races on both Saturday (the Busch league race) and Sunday (the big race).  J came over to my place the night before and we went bowling with some of my friends.  This was a pivotal night for several reasons.  First, it was the last time J drank.  Second, it was the first, and last, time I saw J seriously drunk.  Third, he tried to make out with me in the frozen aisle at Ralph's when we went to pick up snacks to take along to Nascar after the bowling adventure.  He was all drunk and silly, hanging on to me and saying things like, "You're not my chick.  You're my Woman," real serious-like.  Fourth, he was completely hung over all weekend, and realized that if he wanted to keep me, he was going to have to quit drinking - thus, it was the last time he drank.

The other funny thing about that night was the fact that a second guy showed up who I was sort of crushing on at the same time, and J could pick up on it, so he challenged the guy to a bowling duel, and broke a score of 200, his best ever.  I just sat there and watched, amused.

So how this relates to the bag is: earlier on in the evening, before the drinking and bowling duels started, he was going to play a video game or something, and asked me if I had any change.  I was in mid-bowl, and I told him to check in my wallet, in my bag.  So he reached under the seat, grabbed my bag, and looked inside, all natural-like.  This is a pretty big step in any relationship - especially with an only-child-protective-of-my-space kind of person like me. The fact that it felt totally natural to have him digging around amidst my makeup and tampons kind of freaked me out, but was proof of how natural it was to have that kind of closeness with him.

I stopped using the bag a week or so after the Nascar race, but kept it for the sentimental value.  It's been through several rounds of cuts, and has survived every one, but the time has come for this sentimental gem to go.  But before getting rid of it, we decided to stage a re-enactment of the Inaugural Bag-Rooting Session.  

The bag is now at the thirft store, but this picture will live on in cyberspace forever, commemorating the momentous occasion.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In Which I Become Heather of Arabia

A few months ago J randomly read an article on the internet about Singing Dunes - sand dunes that make noises as the wind blows them.  They're really rare - there are only two dozen or so places in the world where they exist - the conditions have to be really specific - certain humidity, conditions of the sand, size of the sand, etc.  One place where those conditions come together perfectly are the Kelso Dunes in The Middle of Nowhere, SoCal.  You drive up the 15 to Barstow, then pick up the 40, go 70 miles west, and turn off to the north, drive down a dirt road for five miles, and then hike for three miles.

When J first heard about them, it became a Thing Between Us because it was August, I was preggo, and I thought that the fact that he thought I could do something like that while preggo meant he was insensitive and not very thoughtful.  I milked it as a martyr for several weeks.  

So anyway, we're looking for new fun things to do, and decided to head out there yesterday. 

Oh my God, it was seriously hard core.  I did not think I was going to make it to the top.  The highest dune is 700 feet high.  That's like a 70 story building.  But the kicker is, you hike for over two miles in the sand.  You know, like, the stuff that you sink into, and then falls away as you try to climb up.  Can you imagine climbing a 70 story building, over the course of 2 and a half miles, in the desert, in the hot sun, in the sand?  Man, it was tough.  We had to take breaks every 100 to 200 steps.  Well, I did.  J could have done it easily, I'm sure.  But he patiently waited while I took a break, and even made shade for me with his shirt.  Awww, bless.

I tried walking in footsteps that were already there thinking it would make it easier.

I know it's hard to see, but there are people sliding down the main dune - they look like little ants!  Sooo steep.
But the reward for getting to the top is that you can slide down the dunes on your butt, and make them sing.  They make this pulsing vibrating noise that's kind of a cross between a jet engine and whale sounds.  It was so strange.  The whole dune-mountain vibrates with it.  Nuts!

But man, I'm SORE today.  Not just sore, but pretty much exhausted.  We spent the day cooking an Easter turkey and taking turkey-induced naps.  The weather was pretty crappy - cold, wet, rainy, foggy - so it kind of felt like Thanksgiving, only falling asleep to baseball instead of football, and eating lemon-meringue pie instead of pumpkin pie.  

This whole Doing New Things experiment is such fun.  It's almost giving me enough to think about so that I don't dwell on the card we got from the hospital sending us their thoughts on the 6-month anniversary of losing our baby boy.  Which, when I opened it in the post office the other day, made me break down and cry.  Right there at the high tables next to the giant recycling bin.  

Sigh.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Onward and upward.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two Funny Mexican Stores: AKA Same Same But Different

Two funny stores in Ensenada I had to take pictures of and share.

There's a pink berry in the logo, but nope, this is not pinkberry.  This is sweetberry.  With a pink berry logo.  Never to be confused with a pinkberry logo.  That space means everything. 

Gap's Kids.  For when you Fell Into The Gap and then procreated WITH the Gap.  Gross, but it's the only logical explanation I can come up with.

Dude, new subject.  I am such a sucker for email marketing.  I had a friend Stacey in the UK - she was American, but lived in London like me, and she used to call me a Marketing Person's Wet Dream.  That's because I'd always fall for the 3 for 2 deals at the bookstores and at Boots.  She'd say, "yes, you got 3 for 2, but you didn't even want one!"  Then she'd shake her head at me and tell me she had oceanfront property in Florida I could buy.  Another fond memory I have of Stacey is going to TGI Fridays in Leicester Square with her once, where we drank all the free refills of soda we could get in before exploding, and munched on ice until our mouths were numb.  

Anyway, I'm a sucker for email marketing because I got my email saying it's Clinique Bonus Time and I am so totally off to Macy's.  I really don't need the little bonus size of Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, and I have an entire collection of Clinique makeup bags that I never use but don't want to get rid of because, as my mom says, "you never know".  Never know what?  Never know when I'm going to need a cheap plastic freebie makeup bag when I've got plenty of good ones? Still, there might be a situation someday where I'm desperate for this makeup bag, and I will be grateful I have it, right?  So I'm hoofing it off to Macy's to get me some Crap I Don't Need, and I'm doing it with style.

Weekend!  Yay!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Italiano Day Deux

I threw in some French there, just to keep you on your toes...

So, in my Quest to Start New Things, this week I am dusting off my Rosetta Stone Italiano Levels 1, 2 and 3 programs that I got from the Amazon Vine program a year ago.

So here's how my desk looked last night

notice my fancy hole-puncher in the background?

As you can clearly see, I'm totally, like, ready.  I installed Level 1 and, after having spent about two hours on it over two days, can now say words like:

run (corro)
egg (uovo)
eat (mangia)
drink (beve)
bread (pane)
sandwich (panini)
bicycle (bicciclete, which I like, because you get to say the word "bitch" for fun)
car (machina)
cat (gatto)
dog (cane)
cooking (cucina)
reading (legge)
writing (scrive)
rice (riso)
apple (mela)

I also know the difference between
he: lui
she: lei
they: loro

Thus enabling me to say simple things like :
Lui legge
Loro cucinano
Lei beve caffe
una bambina mangia riso e mela

I could so totally order coffee, milk, an egg, an apple, and rise in Italy now.

I'm off to a flying start.  Seriously, I haven't had this much fun in a long time.  I've been spending an hour a day on the course, and it just flies by - not at all like those 43 minutes of painful high school German reciting verb conjugations.  Ich bin.  Du bist.  Er/Sie/Es ist.  Let me stick my Stift in my Augen jetzt!  No offense Frau Miller.  You were awesome.  It was just kind of dull, that's all.  And Italian words are so much fun to say.  It's so musical.  Like the whole language is one big symphony.  I love it.  I'm so freaking glad I dusted off this Rosetta Stone thing-a-ma-bob.  Week One of Trying New Things is definitely off to a good start!

Oh, if you're curious about the old man on my desktop in the picture above, it's David Starkey, a brilliant British historian who gives me goosebumps.  It's a screenshot from the Monarchy series that was on ITV a few years ago, and now graces my home regularly thanks to Netflix streaming.  J was teasing me about how much I was watching it, saying I most likely had a crush on said Mr. Starkey (which would be funny, cuz in addition to being, like, old enough to be my grandpa, he's gay).  So I grabbed a screenshot and made it my desktop, so now if J ever uses my computer, he gets to stare at the object of my crush as well.   It's one of those random things that makes marriage fun.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Lighter Side of Jesus

We all know that Facebook is a serious time-suck, right?  And sometimes I loathe the day that I first created an account.  But today I realized the reason that Facebook was invented:  so that I could reconnect with a high school friend on religious matters, share some fellowship, and share our faith journeys.  I haven't written as much as I would have liked to about God in this blog.  And today, catching up with my friend on items spiritual, I got to really think about what I believe, and why, and it was really soothing to my soul.

So Lynda and I were never close friends, but we did hang out from time to time.  I went to Bible Study with her once.  We got seriously lost on a trip to find a Goodwill in 11th grade, and wound up practically in Philadelphia. Good times.  I had always had this idea that she was conservative, as were the vast majority of the people I went to school with - at least those who fashioned themselves as Christians - and I never thought about it again until she started posting links to really awesome faith blogs lately - sites like Dirty Sexy Ministry.  Sex is not a word I associate with Ministry, though it might well be - some older translations of the Bible don't have Mary being a virgin, for example.  That was apparently added to square Jesus' birth with the Old Testament prophesies.  Or so some research has shown.

In the spirit of Easter, I want to share with you my own faith journey, as I did with Lynda today.  It's messy and sometimes incoherent, but I want to share it so that people who might have experienced similar histories with the Church can see other possibilities for worship, and having a relationship with Jesus, which is what it comes down to for me.

So I was raised in Lancaster County, which, seeing as it's Amish Country, is pretty conservative.  Any given Sunday saw people protesting along the main drag with Abortion Kills Children signs.  The general consensus among the liberal people regarding gay people was to "hate the sin, love the sinner."  Those were the liberals.  Most people thought it was inhumane.

But my home wasn't very religious.  My dad had Bertrand Russell books around, though I don't think he ever read them.  My mom grew up being forced to go to church, and, while she would put me in Vacation Bible School, she had no desire to traipse our family off to church every Sunday.

So when I went through my teenage rebellion I - wait for it - was baptised.  You know, with submersion and everything.  At once point I owned sixteen Bibles in various niche forms - the Student Bible, the Bible for Stressed Teens, the Your Parents Are Getting Divorced Bible.  The New Testament on Tape.  I was a Bible Hoarder.  I rocked out to Petra's This Means War.  I went to Bible Studies.  I went to Youth Group.  Along with Michael W Smith, I wondered why people wore their crosses of gold, and wanted to remind them what it stood for.

When my dad started dating my stepmom, I worried for his soul.  She didn't go to church, and I really didn't want the Devil working through her to lure him to an eternity of hellfire.

I was pretty annoying.

There was a lot of "can't" in this version of religion.  There were so many things that you couldn't do, or else you'd get thrown into the hellfire.  You couldn't have hormones.  You couldn't dance.  A lot of women couldn't wear trousers.  You couldn't watch Saturday Night Live.  You couldn't vote Democratic.  You could only be friends with gay people if you made it clear that you hated their sinful ways.  I tried very hard to mold myself into this person, thinking it was the only way to God (ever notice how so many sects think they're the only way to God?  Like God is small enough to be hijacked by one congregation, right?  And like human brains have the capacity to truly understand God in the first place, right?).  I had Bible-verse bumper stickers. I had one that said, "if God wanted us to be permissive, He would have given us the Ten Suggestions."  I had a Jesus-Fish.  Damn, I was putting on a good act.

But then I went to college, I learned about other Gospels that weren't included in the Bible, I learned about how humans chose which books went into the Bible, I learned about wrong translations...and those Bertrand Russell books got dusted off, and I became a strong un-Christian.  Also, I was living in sin with my boyfriend, so I figured that kind of put me out of the running for the whole getting-into-heaven thing.

When I moved to England, I spent a lot of time in churches.  That's where the Renaissance choral music is, with the acoustics that it was originally written for, and I worked near Westminster Abbey, so every afternoon saw me hoofing it past Whitehall to the Abbey, where I'd sit through Evensong service enraptured.  Sunday was Church Day, and saw me starting off at St. Paul's and working my way west.

My friends thought I was a huge Christian, and I would argue against them.  No, don't lump me in with those people.  I am NOT like that.  I am NOT judgmental.  I am NOT someone who thinks they have the monopoly on the Truth.  I am Not someone who believes in Truth-with-a-capital-T anyway.  No No No.

Finally, my Australian friend Paul turned me on to John Shelby Spong, who I have mentioned here before.  I bought Why Christianity Must Change Or Die and it blew. me. away.  Here was an ordained priest who had ordained women and gay people.  And gay women for that matter.  Here was a priest who openly questioned the literalness of the Bible.  Here was a priest who even had doubts about the Resurrection?  Holy Batman, maybe there WAS room in the tent for a questioner like me?

I did the Alpha Course, and realized that I had one big major hangup with Christianity.  Sin.  I don't believe in it.  Didn't then, don't now.

Now bear with me while I explain this.

When I tell many Christians that I don't believe in sin as we understand it, they think that I'm all in favor of murder and stealing and crazy adultery and free drugs and having us all live in one big hippie commune.  I'm not.  But I think you need to differentiate between something that is sinful, and something that just doesn't work for society.

To me, the Ten Commandments are evidence that a society was maturing and growing modern. Just about every mature faith and society has a version of the Ten Commandments.  Because you know what?  Society works when people don't go around killing each other, stealing each other's cows, and coveting each other's shit.  Societies where you can covet and steal and murder all willy-nilly don't work.  Breaking a Commandment isn't a sin.  It's just something that doesn't work within the boundaries and structure of our society, and so there need to be consequences for that.  Stop making it so much heavier than it is, please.  It's a code of ethics that helps a society grow and be more productive, and if you don't abide by it, you get taken out of society in one way or another.  It's really very simple.

In less obvious sins, like lying or adultery, I see it as a matter of keeping your word.  Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true," and when you lie, or break your vow, you're simply not being true to yourself as your word.  And it just makes life hard.  Now you've got to keep your lies straight.  Who did you tell what lie to, and if they meet up with this person, is it going to come out?  It's hard!  Suddenly you're lying to your spouse and keeping secrets and worrying that your secrets will be exposed, and I would imagine that it's just messy.

I'm a big believer in keeping life simple.  Doing a lot of lying makes life complicated, and to me, it's the main reason for living an honest and transparent life.  Not because you're going to go to hell if you don't.

Finally, the idea of sin and evil, to me, is an easy out. You messed up? Well, the Devil was clearly working on you. Personal Responsibility be damned. You couldn't help it! You were tempted and gave in. You're human, born into sin. Of course you messed up and slept with your nanny/lied to your constituents/laundered money/etc. We all do it from time to time, right? And sin is sin, right?

I don't buy it. And you're not going to convince me otherwise. It's an excuse and it makes me cringe.

Now here's where it gets tricky for me.

If I don't believe in Sin (with a capital S, referring to the Sin that most conservative Christians are referring to), then it's hard for me to believe in a Savior to take that Sin from me through His sacrifice.

So while I've never had a problem believing in the miracles, the walking on water, the feeding all the people on, like, a saltine, the curing of the sick...I have a hard time accepting a personal Savior who is saving me from Sin I don't believe I have.

I shared this with our priest at church and she kind of looked at me like I was silly. I was avoiding having a relationship with Jesus because I wasn't sure that I believed in the kind of Sin that people say He died for? Well how stupid was that. Here's this awesome spirit who just wants to hang out with me and be friends, and I'm all, "no, because you've been corrupted into this thing that I can't buy into, so I'm not going to be friends." That's pretty ridiculous. It's not Jesus' fault that all his great preaching has been butchered and politicized over two thousand years.

Here's how I've finally squared it for myself:

I think of sin as anything that separates you from God. To me, God isn't a man sitting in the clouds. Yes, I know we were made in His image, but that verse has been used and abused over the years to justify the rape of our planet, and the abuse of animals and other wonderful creations of God, and I don't read it the same way. I think it's referring to our spirit. And don't go quoting stuff at me. I've already read it. Unless you're reading the original Hebrew, and you're a Hebrew scholar and you know exactly what the person who was writing it at the time they were writing it, you're not going to convince me. You know the game Whisper Down the Lane? That's what I think about my NIV translation. I like the King James version better, but even so, it's still a political hot mess (James I needed to solidify his reign with all the plots going on around him - ie the Gunpowder Plot, etc, and so there is a huge emphasis on the just power of rulers, the importance of rule in society, etc. See Christopher Hitchens' article in the recent Vanity Fair for more on this).

Ok, where was I? Oh, God, sin, right.

So the first thing is, I see God as this universal energy or chi that flows within all living things - me, my cats, the trees, etc - it connects us all to each other, to the world, to eternity, to all that ever was, and all that ever will be. It is universal unconditional love. When I sit on the bed cuddling my cats, I am literally communing with God, because I am appreciating Creation, Life, and Love.

Humans do things to separate themselves from God. We do big things like commit genocides. And we do little things, like litter and stomp all over Creation. We ignore the homeless people. We pretend bigotry doesn't matter. Then we justify our actions. We commit the ultimate affront to God by quoting words that were inspired by Him to say that it's ok. That we can destroy the earth because He gave it to us. That we can throw things at women walking into Planned Parenthood because they're sinners. And somehow, we know this. Somehow, all the knowledge in the vast universe has been giving to a chosen few, and those few vilify the "other" and claim to have the Truth.

All of this pulls us further away from God. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. When we commit these actions that pull us further away from each other, when we look out for our own selfish interests before those of the people down the street, when we destroy the gifts that we have been given...that pulls us away from God, away from each other, away from Life and Unconditional Love. We react to threats with war. We don't seek to understand the people - the other human creations of God - with whom we share the planet. We sit by and elect politicians who authorize bombings and destruction. We sit by and let it happen, and some of us justify it. And to me, that separation from others and from God...that's sin.

That's what Jesus was pointing out. He said that everyone - even tax collectors and prostitutes - can have a relationship directly with God, without needing to sacrifice a goat first, or do any of the things that the Old Testament said you needed to do. He was the ultimate threat to the Establishment. And He died for that. He died to show me the unconditional love that God has for us. He died to show me that every creature on earth is loved by God. He died to show me how to be close to God, how to have a relationship with God, how to be part of God. He died to show me just how far humans will go to separate themselves from the Divine.

Thus, He died for my sin.

Whether you believe in the Resurrection or not, whether you're a fan of Jesus or not, whether you're religious or not, in this season of rebirth and renewal, I urge you all to take a moment to get in touch with your own Divinity and to celebrate being part of creation today. Hug a cat. Hug a dog. Hug a tree. Hug yourself. Hug God, however you see him/her/it.

Happy Holy Week, everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Happiness Project: Take Two

I spent the weekend on yet another cruise - you'd think it was a regular habit with how much I've been on the Carnival Paradise lately - but it was a random coincidence of my mom visiting, and us trying to think of something fun to do with the weekend, and concluding that a boat ride to Mexico would be a jolly way to spend the time.

The special treat for me (having lost 10 pounds) was a Spa Day on the ship.  I got some serious work done on my hair.  Jonathan isn't quite sure who I am at the moment.  I'm pretty much blond, for one thing.  And I have bangs (or "fringe" as they're apparently known in the UK).

But I came to a conclusion.  The conclusion I came to is that this whole Time Off To Heal project is only going to be successful if I actually make an effort to make it happen.  I can't just sit around staring at my naval and expect for the happiness to suddenly flood over me.  Like most things in life, I need to actually DO something about it.

So this is my plan.

First, one of the things that makes me really happy in life is doing new things.  I love, for example, being lost.  Whatever part of the brain is working when you're lost in a strange place, trying to navigate your way back to familiar territory just loves being tickled.  I got really lost in Ensenada on Saturday, and I loved it.  I loved getting to the corner of a street and not knowing which way to go, just puttering along listening to my music on my phone and taking in the smells and sights.  I stopped for tacos at a street stand.  I don't know much Spanish, but I knew enough to say, "dos tacos carne asada y diet coke."  And life was good.  I knew enough to finally ask for directions via playing charades, and made a group of men laugh at my shenanigans.  And life was good.  After I finally found my way back to the main tourist drag, and the ship, I was totally worn out (my pedometer said I had walked about eight miles) but I had good stories to tell at dinner that night, and I was happy.

When you're a kid, you get new stuff all the time.  But as you grow up and leave school, and settle into habits and everyday life, you stop being bombarded with newness as much.  And that makes me sad.

So, given the fact that the thing that makes me the most content and the most happy is discovering new things, I have decided to make it an Official Project, which I will blog about, and report on.

Here's how it will work.

Baby Teysko had been gestating for 21 weeks when we lost him.  So for the next 21 weeks, in his honor, I will do something new every week.  These things will range from simple (try a new recipe) to slightly-more-complicated (go to a new country).

The 21 week period will end on September 13.  It is my intention that by that time I will be in a much different place, both physically (having lost at least another 30 pounds, for a total of 40) and mentally (having, you know, experienced all this happy newness).  So I will be able to start working on getting pregnant again from a place of grace and peace, and not from a place of worry and freaking out.

I will be looking for suggestions of things to try, places to go, and Newness to discover, so if you have any, please send them.  I don't care how crazy or off the wall they might be.  Just keep in mind that I'm a little bit afraid of heights, so I won't be base jumping any time soon.

This is my new project, and I'm going to jump into it, and I will stick to it and not be sidetracked in my ADD. Every week, one new thing.  This is going to be fun!

This week, I'm going to actually go through the Rosetta Stone Italian lessons that I received through the Amazon Vine program a year ago, and never looked at beyond using them for 10 minutes to write a review.  I'm going to go through them for an hour a day, and see how it goes.  I might stick to it after this week and actually wind up learning Italian out of this project.  How fun!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Save CJ Fam

So I always spend part of every afternoon dealing with my self-diagnosed ADD and indulging in Internet Crap.  And because I'm friends with a 13 year old boy on Facebook (Mars, my cousin through my stepmother) I stay hip on what the kids these days are doing.  So I've been hip to Rebecca Black for a few weeks now, because he keeps posting the video and commenting about how much he hates it (thus increasing her youtube views to an even more astronomical number).

In case you've been hanging out on a boat for the past month, Rebecca Black is a client of Ark Music Factory, a company that, for $2000, will write you a pop song, make you a video, and raise your hopes of becoming a pop star via the internet, however they won't pay for your years of therapy once you realize that you probably won't become the next Britney Spears.  She sings a terrible song called "Friday," the only unique feature of which is how she pronounces it with three syllables (Fri-eee-day).  Well, that's not entirely true.  The other unique feature of this song is its ability to get inside your brain and eat all the other music you've been listening to all day, and then it will repeat itself over and over again until you want to stick your head on an anvil and knock yourself silly.

In last week's InfoMania, Sergio did a White Hot Top Five dedicated to the other stars (aka kids with rich parents) of the Ark Music catalog.  They were all Disney-wannabees, with the exception of CJ Fam, a firecracker 4'1" 53-pound (according to her profile on the Actors Pages, which, creepily features a picture of her posing at the beach in a bathing suit) blond-haired Annie lookalike who strikes me as being about as annoying as the giant splinter I got caught under my thumbnail when I was cleaning the deck the other morning.

But since she's only, like, 8, I blame her parents.  Probably her overbearing mom who always wanted to be a star herself, but wound up getting pregnant and marrying her high school boyfriend and staying in Dumbf*ck, Nebraska until she had a midlife crisis and packed her youngest daughter, and greatest hope for stardom into the Ford and drove to LA where, rather than prostitute herself and her Baby Girl on Sunset and Highland, she decided to sign her up with ARK instead.

Actually I made all that up.  I think she's from Florida.

But I do think her mom is to blame because when you click on her youtube profile, the first link is a montage featuring the Beatles' Help to get her "fans" (aka 6 year old girls who shouldn't be on the internet in the first place anyway) riled up to view her videos as many times as Rebecca Black's, in a "Showdown" so that she can get signed by Ryan Seacrest, too.

Listen Overbearing Mom:  I could ignore the fact that you let your Baby Girl sing Lady Gaga songs with lyrics about being too drunk to text while she's dressed like a hooker.  I could ignore the fact that you are pitting her against Rebecca Black in a weird Showdown that evokes images of John Wayne and fake gun battles, thus creating a scarcity conversation in her developing brain so she'll probably be super-competitive with everybody her whole life ("There's not enough success for everyone, and Rebecca Black is getting it, that tramp, so therefore we need to have a Showdown").  I can even forgive you trying to vicariously live your dream through your daughter, and turning her into a little brat that everybody's going to want to beat up and no guy will ask to the prom, in ten years, because she's so annoying.

Even though children's services might come knocking at your door, I can even overlook you allowing your 8 year old to be eroticized in a world of internet porn (see above-mentioned bathing suit photo, and this gem):

It's no worse than pageant moms do all over the country.

But.  I.  Can.  NOT.  Forgive.  The.  Blasphemic.  Use.  Of.  The.  Beatles.  In.  Supporting.  This.  Endeavor.

When will the madness end?  Can't Yoko Ono sue somebody over this?

Remember like 13 years ago when we were all up in arms over Britney Spears looking too hot in her first video?  I know, our precious little CJ Fam wasn't even born yet, and her super-hit, the oxymoronically-named single, "Ordinary Popstar" (I refuse to link to it because I don't want to contribute to the Rebecca Black Showdown) was still years away from being conceived, but I remember that time.  I remember people freaking out over Brit wearing a Catholic uniform and doing some dirty-dancing moves next to a locker, which, incidentally looks like the dancing they did in movies from the 50's compared to what our CJ is doing.

My dad likes to say that things in the 50's were better, and more innocent.  And I'm always like, "yeah, Dad, you're just looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.  It wasn't so great if you were black.  Or a woman.  Or, you know, not Beaver Cleaver or Donna Reed."  We've had arguments about this since I was 16.  But I'm starting to think that my dad could be right.  Maybe we are going down the slippery slope.  Maybe pole-dancing in gym class is coming next?   

(Then again, even being Beaver Cleaver wasn't able to save Jerry Mathers from looking like a dope all his life, which is really apropos of nothing, but needs to be said because I found this picture):

So, maybe Eddie Haskell should win a couple of rounds, you know?  Just to even things out.  Make The Beav look a little less dopey/strung out.

And maybe it wasn't the end of the world when Brit did her thing with her pigtails flying around.

But this CJ Fam thing, it's just out of control.  If it can help her get back to being an Ordinary Girl (and not an Ordinary Popstar) then I will continue to click Rebecca Black's video day and night, bravely facing the teasing of my husband for continuing to sing the offending song even when I know it gives him a migraine, and I will selflessly help her decide whether she wants to party in the front or the back seat on the weekend, and do whatever I can so that she wins this Showdown, and CJ Fam can get back to school and maybe get some guidance counselling or some education in something other than Being a Pop Star 101.  Because Rebecca Black doesn't strike me as a crazy chick whose life will be destroyed if she gets some early success.  I'm worried that if CJ Fam gets big-time attention, she'll wind up being the next Lindsay Lohan, only worse because Lindsay Lohan is really talented and it still couldn't save her.

And lastly, will somebody please kill whatever it is that keeps attacking her legs in her video?

Thank you.
More proof that people from Pennsylvania are awesome (it's the whole Quaker thing).  Garfunkel and Oats, my new favorite girl duo, singing a song that I wish would have existed when I was in the dating world.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting Fit Project Update

Today has been four weeks since I started my "Lifestyle Adjustment" - I have to call it that because, as Dr J pointed out, "diets" aren't sustainable, whereas Lifestyle Adjustments are.

I have been taking my measurements every two weeks, and would be due to take them today, but I'm going to wait until Thursday, which is a month, to see where things are then.  In the meantime, I met my weight goal.  Yippeee!  I wasn't sure how that was going to work out, given the fact that last week I was regularly eating two desserts at each meal (though limiting myself to three bites, thank you very much).  Still, I've lost over 8 pounds, I'm still on target to meet my 40 pound goal by August; and my jeans, which I couldn't button when I was pregnant the last time, keep falling down.  Crazy.

Here's what I'm learning so far:

First, it really does get easier.  A month ago, I couldn't fathom the idea of going to bed hungry.  I mean, intellectually I knew that I wasn't going to starve overnight.  But still, the idea of going to bed on an empty stomach seemed so foreign.  What was the point of a bedtime snack, then?  Of course you had to have a bowl of cereal or a nice big hot chocolate before you went to bed.  It helped you sleep better, right?

The first few days of this Lifestyle Adjustment were so hard because I had to get used to being hungry.  I've said this before, and I will continue to say it.  If you're going to lose weight, you will be hungry at first.  Anyone who says you won't be is a liar.  I was averaging around 2800 calories a day.  Now I'm down around 1800 a day.  You don't just lose 1000 calories and not miss it.

I think that's why I was never able to sustain a weight loss before - I wasn't embracing the hunger, and would quit after the first couple of days.  As soon as I got hungry, I would eat.  That is a normal human response to hunger, but in my case, my idea of hunger was so twisted and unsustainable, I was reacting to habit more than actual physical sensation.  It takes time to learn new habits, and I'm still not there - I doubt I ever will be - that's the thing about addictions of all kinds, you never really get over them.  You just learn how to live with them, and not let them run your life.  But four weeks into it, I'm at a point now where I can be ok with hunger, as long as I'm getting the nutrients my body needs.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine, telling him about how much I obsess about food, and he said that he believed it was good that I had such a love of food, because it's a natural part of life, and I should be able to enjoy it and really love it.  But that's where the distinction comes in.  I don't love food.  If I truly loved food, I would enjoy cooking it, watching the colors blend together, tasting all the flavors, and I would take hours to eat a really good dinner.  I don't do that.  If woofing down a bowl of spaghetti in less than five minutes was an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist.

It's the difference between love and obsession.  A stalker doesn't love the person he's stalking.  He's just obsessed with her.  It's the very same thing.  Just because I've been obsessed with food doesn't mean I love it.  It's the opposite, actually.  If I really loved it, I would savor it.  I would recognize its goodness, how it nourishes me, and I wouldn't abuse it.  No, there's a huge difference between loving food and obsessing over food.

I'd like to get to the point where I can have a healthy, loving relationship with food.  Recognizing the problem is the first step, they say, so I guess I'm on my way.

Now, by next week I should have lost 10 pounds, and my reward for that is I get a full-on Spa Day.  Cut, color, highlights, massage, facial, the WORKS.  While the scale number alone would be reward enough, I'm definitely glad to have an extra incentive.

Monday, April 4, 2011

...in which I come back from a cruise having actually lost weight...

...but have a seriously nasty sunburn on my nose, which has only been exacerbated by the breathe-right strips I wear when I sleep.

That being said, I did lose a pound whilst on the cruise, even when surrounded by chocolate of every kind.  I took the stairs everywhere - the only times I took the elevator were when we arrived and left with our bags.  There were 76 steps from our deck to the lido deck, so every day we were doing that several times, at the very least.  That's not counting the extras up to the track, etc.

I told myself I could eat anything, but only three bites of everything, unless it was salad or fish.  That seemed to work out pretty well.

I walked at least two miles on the track every day.

And finally, I took my scale along.  When the ship was moving, the numbers were all over the map - I couldn't get a decent reading at all - but at least it gave me a reason to not eat the entire chocolate melting cake at dinner, knowing that I would be stepping on the scale in the morning.

All the fresh air, relaxation, and good food was soul-warming.  Though I did have a breakdown the second night.  I haven't been in a place with that many happy and drunk people for a very long time, definitely not since I lost the babies.  I felt terribly alone, like I was the only person there who was going through something.  I know that's not true, but it's hard not to feel like you're on your own grief-island when the hairy chest contest is going on.

So J told me I should share with people, at least at our dinner table.  I hadn't wanted to say anything because I was afraid it would bring down the mood.  But that night, when they were all talking about shore excursions, and asking us what we'd be doing at the stop the next day, I said, "we're not really here to sightsee.  We're here to get away and chill out because I lost two pregnancies in the past five months."  And for a second everyone was quiet and didn't know what to say.  But then one of the girls said she was so sorry, and another one agreed that if she were us, she wouldn't care about any of it either, and she'd just relax on the boat, too.  And then the mood got back to normal, and I felt understood, so it was worth it.

It's good to be home, but I highly recommend sea air for anyone trying to get over something.  It cleanses a layer of grimy sadness right off, no scrubbing required.