Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 19

Something interesting I've noticed...everyone wants to know "how long" I plan on being a vegetarian. I think it is an interesting social reminder that we do "diet" after "diet" looking for short term results. I intend on being vegetarian for the forseeable future (although Thanksgiving is my one exempt day should I happen to be state-side over the holiday). I decided to tell people one year just so they have an answer and will leave me alone, but it is odd that everyone wants to put a deadline on it.

So far I have been vegetarian for 19 days and I haven't missed meat at all. Sure, finding something on the menu that is meat-free can be tricky but all in all I haven't found myself wishing I could eat the meaty things. Maybe it's because I have lost three pounds already, maybe it is because I feel better inside and out. Maybe it's because we don't really need meat like we think we do. I've been reading The China Study and it describes some interesting findings regarding the intake of full proteins in our diets (especially intriguing/terrifying is the link between protein intake and the development and advancement of cancer; worth a read for sure). Our bodies are fully capable of taking the building blocks of protein and putting them together. We don't need to eat full proteins like we think. This was the biggest myth I personally suffered from before I went meatless. I always worried about how vegetarians and vegans got enough protein to remain functional. I've been less good about going egg/cheese-less (though I've only had cheese twice since I started so that's a lot better than I thought I could do. One of those was purely out of tradition as I didn't know when I could eat Nachos with E at D'Edge again; it could be a loooong time). Our bodies are so much more complex than we think and yet beautifully simple. What goes in determines what comes out in terms of strength, endurance, energy, happiness, or on the flip side lethargy, sleepiness, weakness and fatigue. I have felt sooooo much better the last couple of weeks. And I haven't even had time to really delve into all the great new recipes I'm finding and really work on good full meals. I'm looking forward to having a few weeks off to myself so I can build a solid base for my eating habits. I'm also really excited to be able to work out every morning and start my day with that after-exercise euphoria.

On a more humble note, I have also started embracing the label of Being a Vegetarian. At first, I was reluctant to mention it to anyone. You get a lot of those, "oooohhhh, you're one of those" when you mention you don't eat meat. And even more of the "I don't know if we can still be friends" when you mention you are also borderline vegan (I am still forced to say "borderline" to not get completely cast out of my social circles; and I am part of some pretty liberal social circles, might I add). While I could never be fully vegan (due to the aforementioned cheese/dairy addiciton) I respect the decision to devote yourself to such dietary "restrictions" (I give it the air quotes because, as it turns out, there are sooooo many foods you can still eat if you cut out animal products. It is far less limiting than you imagine). I know that vegetarianism/veganism have hints of hippiness and tree-huggerness, but what exactly is so wrong with that? I know that personally I don't enjoy being defined as part of a certain group because it suddenly becomes ALL you are. I don't like to have people make assumptions about what I like to do, listen to, watch, etc based on one small fact about who I am. I prefer people to learn about me as a person and understand that I am part of soooo many different groups of people and have soooo many overlapping interests I am not definable by one lable. This is the case with every person in the world, of course, which is why I get so annoyed when people make generalizations (ignore the sweeping generalization made in that sentence...). Ok, soap box aside, I have become more ok with the Vegetarian badge being added to my ever expanding list of things I am proud of. I am willing to take the hits that come with it because I am enjoying it a lot so far :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Found While Cleaning Out Work Email

Client Joke of the Day:

What stops an orange from rolling down the hill?

It runs out of juice.

Mwah mwah

Monday, May 24, 2010

Gloomy Sunday

Supposedly, if you listen to this, you will want to kill yourself.  It makes me nostalgic and happy/sad/hopeful/unsure.  I love it.

I liked this

Favorite line from The Maltese Falcon: "Spade flung his words out with a brutal sort of carelessness that gave them more weight than they could have got from dramatic emphasis or from loudness."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bye For Now

This past week has been incredibly difficult for me.  My dear sweet amazing Gram passed away last Tuesday, May 11th.  Just writing that is hard.  It makes it real and I'm still struggling with it being a fact.  She lived an amazing 93 years and, until just the last couple of months, she was incredibly lucid and physically fit for someone her age.  I don't mean to say she was running marathons or anything, but she was very able.  In January, she fell and broke her hip.  Despite our wishes, the doctors used general anesthesia in the surgery.  In September 2008 she had the first surgery of her life and had a hard time shaking off the anesthesia then.  This time it stayed with her.  Seeing her mental capacity fade was incredibly difficult but it was comforting that she knew who I was til the very end. 

Unlike most 93 year olds, her hip healed amazingly well and her vital signs were strong.  Mentally, however, she faded quickly.  She was in a rehab center for a couple of months immediately after the surgery and was confused about where she was and why she was there the entire time.  Bringing her home was a relief for us in many ways but also difficult.  My parents found an incredibly kind caregiver for my Gram, Clare, who lived with her downstairs.  Having Clare around made things so much easier on my parents and Gram.  I know she got frustrated at times but she was so patient with her and had a genuine desire to help her get better.

My dad called me on Tuesday morning about twenty minutes after she passed.  He and Clare had been with her during the morning when she was struggling to breathe.  She finally let go around 7:40am.  Although it is something we had prepared ourselves for, it has been harder than I imagined it would be.  I constantly see things around the city that remind me of her.  Just this morning, I had a client who's beneficiary had the same birthday she did, September 19th.  Normally, it would make me smile and think of her, but right now they are just reminders that she is gone and it hits me right in the chest every time.

I was lucky enough to have her in my life for many years.  As my aunt put it, "you have never known life without her."  That made me realize that none of us have.  The only person who had a life before her that is still around is my adorable great aunt Dorothy (98 years old and still fiesty as ever).  Gram moved into our home when I was four years old so I spent a lot of time with her.  We would do all kinds of things together.  We spent many hours working in the garden, working with her wool (she loved to knit and made her own yarn), and cooking.  When I got hurt, she always had a remedy.  When I was happy, she was always there to be happy for me.  She was genuinely kind and caring and wanted everyone to be content as well.  She definitely had her fiesty side and could be quite sassy and sarcastic in her responses, but those things only endeared her more.

I love her so much.  Luckily I had a chance to spend a few hours with her about three weeks ago.  She was easily distracted but I was able to ask her questions about herself to test her memory and I was amazed at how well she did.  We didn't really have a conversation like we used to do, but just spending time with her was precious to me.  She told me how much she loved me and I told her the same back.  I told her how beautiful she was and she said, "that's so sweet of you."  To the very end, she was unbelievably kind and caring.  She was never a cranky old person.  She always wanted to know what we were up to and was always supportive.  I am sad I will never be able to send her a letter from England to let her know what's going on.  I am sad I will never create any more memories with her.  I am sad I can't hug her or kiss her again.  But I am happy I had the time I did and that she knew I loved her before she left.

Whenever she was on the phone with someone, she would always end the call with, "Bye for now"  So I will just say, Bye for now, my sweet Gram.        

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Something I Pondered Today

Why are wheelchair accessible parking spaces the closest to the building, yet the accessible restroom stalls are allllll the way at the end of every bathroom in the world?

Monday, May 10, 2010


My favorite quote from the graduation party (found scribbled in orange highlighter on the back of the envelope containing my Comcast bill) "Here is your dinner, sir. It is an elegant veal dish" said with a flourish and a soft British accent by miss Carrie Mallon. Hahaha it still makes me laugh

Saturday, May 8, 2010


When I was growing up, my mom made all our meals.  She is an amazing cook who has perfected everything from meat loaf, to chicken soup, to lasagna, to home-made breads (no machine here people, just her two hands).  We always had the perfect presentation: the meat, the veggie, and the side.   I was required to have my homework completed by dinnertime, so I spent a lot of time sitting at our counter in the kitchen working on school assignments while I watched my mom prepare the evening's meal.  She would quiz me on spelling words, math problems, etc. as she moved through the kitchen; adding a touch of spice here, stirring a pot there.

Meals were ALWAYS eaten together.  Frequently, the three of us would sit at the bar in our kitchen and watch Jeopardy as we ate.  These small moments with my parents are my foundation.  When I think back to those times, the sensations of love, warmth, kindness, and nourishment (both physical and mental) are so strong it brings me to tears.  It was the icing on the cake when my mom would help me with particularly tricky schoolwork after our meal.  I loved it when she would write up practice tests for me in whatever subject I was struggling with, and I was always amazed that she just knew EVERYTHING.  It didn't matter if it was math, or spelling, or science, she knew how to do it all.  Looking back, I see now that everything was incredibly simple for her as an adult, of course, but my memories live in the headspace of a grade-schooler and she will remain magical there forever.

Perhaps the upcoming Mother's Day celebrations are causing me to wax nostalgic and digress a bit but it felt good to share those memories.  Back to the matter at mom grew up in Montana eating red meats, biscuits and gravy, sausage, products from the local creamery (which makes some delicious food, or at least does if it is still open), fresh laid eggs, etc.  You know, the usual country fare.  The food she ate then was home-grown and harvested/butchered.  The cattle fed on grass and roamed free in those days.  While her diet was not incredibly healthy then, as the years progressed, the same foods became increasingly less healthy.  Store-bought beef, for one example, is now grain-fed, a horribly unnatural cost-saving measure which makes the meat simultaneously more caloric and fatty (not to mention what this diet does to the guts of the cows who are forced to consume foods entirely unnatural for them).

My mom's blood tests recently have not been good.  She is pre-diabetic and that is terrifying both for her and me.  Her desire to reclaim her heath has been inspiring.  She read the book Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes and has taken it to heart.  Over the last 6 1/2 weeks, she has been completely vegan (ok there was that one morning with that small omelette, but I'll forgive her that).  She has a lot of lost weight and, since she has never been overweight by any degree, this means she now looks fantastic!  She has yet to have another blood test since she started the program so we will have to see if it has made as much of a difference for her inside as out.

This change has not been small for her.  She has always enjoyed healthy foods (lots of grains, veggies, fruits, etc) but for those foods to now be her whole diet, not just a part, is a serious commitment.  In my own culinary life, I struggle with the battle between my desire to eat well (I really do love it and feel so much better when I am eating good things) and the stress of finding meals to make, taking the time to cook, and figuring out how to make it less financially stressful.  Growing up with my mom's cooking did make me a snob about avoiding processed foods.  They taste like garbage to me.  That is great because as I don't have any desire to eat those things, cutting them out is not very difficult.  The hard part for me is in the foundation of my meals.  I LOVE CHEESE more than most things in life.  I eat yogurt daily.  Eggs are my most common source of protein.  I cook a lot of food myself but, unfortunately, putting together ingredients at home does not necessarily make the output nutritional.  This, combined with the fact that my current job is the most unhealthy in my history (in terms of physical exertion, mental peace, and emotional steadiness), has allowed me to see the highest number on the scale I have ever seen and feel the worst about myself I have ever felt.

This August, my life will change significantly.  I will move overseas, on my own, to study.  I am incredibly excited/scared!  Since I was accepted to school last fall, I have seen this move as an opportunity to reshape my life;  revamp my diet, up my fitness, and generally focus on everything healthy I can.  I also want to spend my time there learning as much as I can about my field, exploring the city, traveling to the continent, etc.  I tend to get overly ambitious about what I can do in a given amount of time and therefore ended up overwhelming myself with goals: be this weight by this time, ride a century bike ride, lift weights this many times a week, read this stack of interesting books about England, catch up on current events across the globe and read about the history behind the most key points of tension (my most overwhelming and impossible goal.  Set because my subject of study is international relations and I feel desperately out of the loop having studied finance for the last four years), write a research paper about Rwanda, and many many more.  All of these goals are great but to spend time doing one, I am neglecting another.  And each time I let one goal slack, I punish myself for having failed all of them (if the ultimate goal is to do all these things, then by not doing one you haven't met your goal and have therefore failed.  Not a nice way to motivate yourself).  I came to the realization that, for me right here and right now, the most important thing I need to focus on is my health.

So, with an eye toward my mom's wellness and my own determination to make a serious and committed change, I am taking on the challenge of going through this experience with her.  I spent the morning stocking up on reading material about the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle both to get a sense that it does not doom me to rice cakes for eternity, and to find some good sources of recipes.

Several of my bookmarks are great vegetarian sites I already frequent so I will be spending even more time there.  Some sites are new and quite exciting.  I also have a reading list of books I will work my way through over the next couple months that focus on the natural diet from many perspectives (scientific, humanitarian, kindness to animals, and just plain tastiness).  I will not distract myself with my list of other goals until I achieve this one.  My goal is two-fold (I couldn't get it down to just one but two is manageable):  1. Between Mother's Day and the day I leave for England, I will have followed the rules of the program every day.  2.  I will work out at the gym five days a week (bike rides, playing at the park, walks with Alex... these do not count as workouts.  They are great and fun and healthy but they do not count toward my goal).

The thought of not eating meat is not too scary.  I don't eat it much anyway.  Bacon and burgers (and bacon burgers...yuuummm!) are my two weaknesses.  The hard part for me is the dairy and eggs.  My mom and I have talked about it and since I am not in the worrisome state of health she is, I feel ok about modifying the program slightly and allowing myself to eat those things once a week.  This does not mean a binge one day a week.  Just a small amount of dairy, and one egg.

So there are the facts and the goals.  I will use this blog to keep myself on track.  I will let you know what I am reading and what I learn from it.  I'll share any amazing recipes I find.  And I will complain about it when it sucks.

I read a quote today that said, "the most important step of any goal is to know why you want to achieve it."  I want to achieve this goal because I have a horrible self image and want to see myself succeed and be proud in an area I have consistently struggled with.  I want to achieve this goal because I want to have the energy and stamina to get the most out of my time in England.  I want to achieve this goal because I want to support my mom and her desire to be healthier so she can be around longer.  She may not make me practice tests anymore, but she still knows how to do the things I don't and I I don't know what I would do without her.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What is Wrong with Us?

Ads seen on pages 31-40 of the San Diego Reader (April 29th Edition):

  • Ladies...Lost that loving feeling? (a six month study to evaluate premenopausal women who have been bothered by a decrease in sexual desire. 
  • Overactive Bladder...your senior years should be spend having fun, not on the run
  • Going, going, going Too often at night
  • Menstrual Migraine Headaches: Wishing your period would never come? 
  • Do you have Schizophrenia?
  • Struggling with Psoriasis 
  • Throbbing. Burning. Stabbing. Tingling. If you have painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy, please consider calling. 
  • Are you suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis? 
  • Trying to manage your Type 2 diabetes? 
  • Are you in an excessively good mood?  Easily Distracted?  Irritable?  (between 18 and 65 with bipolar disorder) 
  • GOUT: First Experience? 
  • Afraid to show your feet? (research study to evaluate the efficacy of an investigational therapy for people with onychomycosis, also known as toenail fungus) 
  • Refractory Endometriosis Research Study 
  • Clinical Research Study: Schizophrenia. Depression. Bipolar Disorder.
  • Do you have diabetes? 
  • Attn: Heavy Drinkers
  • Asthma: Do you suffer?
  • Have you taken medication for your depression, but it hasn't helped? 
  • PAIN? Do you have pain from chronic pancreatitis?  
  • Is ADHD robbing your child of SLEEP? 
  • Do you have restless leg syndrome? 
  • Heartburn? Acid Regurgitation? 
  • GOUT
  • Forgetting simple tasks?  Memory fading?  Can't seem to complete projects? 
  • Do you want to quit smoking? 
  • Do you suffer from depression? 
  • Have you been diagnosed with schizophrenia and currently taking medication (side note: the grammar on this one annoys me a lot) 
  • Are you a Military Veteran that has faced a life-or-death event? Do you currently have thoughts or nightmares about the event when you don't want to?  Do you avoid reminders of the event, like crowds, certain TV shows, or loud noises? 
  • Infants and Toddlers are needed for an investigational vaccine research study for RSV and a Parainfluenza virus.  
  • Smoking too much pot? 
  • Too Shy? 
  • Been told you have a kidney stone?
  • Got toenail fungus? 
  • Do you have type 2 diabetes?
Until the next page:
  • Take sex to a whole new level! 
I wonder what is wrong with us?  Why do we have so many problems?  And need so much research to be done on us and pills to be pushed down our throats.  Every one of these ads is for a research study.  Having participated in a couple research studies through my doctor in the past, I know they pay some decent money and are for good causes but Jesus!  How do you know if these places are reliable, clean, legit?  

The next eighteen pages are dedicated to those things California is known for best.  Breast augmentation, face lifts, tanning, skin rejuvenation, fixes for thinning hair, spas, pedicures, manicures, tooth replacement/whitening, liposuction, weight loss, tummy tucks, eyelid surgery, hair straightening, botox, and more.  Apparently everyone is falling apart on the inside so they have to spend all their energy boosting, firming, lifting, and reshaping their outsides to look how they want to feel.