December 4, 2010

New clothes

I had originally planned on writing about running today, but last night I had an amazing NSV that I simply could not wait to share!

Yesterday was the last day of teaching for the semester, so to celebrate, I went downtown to do a little shopping. I always feel a little guilty buying myself things, especially right before Christmas, but I need some new clothes desperately. I could also justify this trip because it was to be paid for with birthday money - my friend Lorelei gave me a $25 Visa gift card for my birthday since she knows I've lost a ton of weight and I really need some clothes that fit.

Confession: I'm still wearing all my clothes from 79 pounds ago.

It's not so much emotional attachment as an attempt at frugality, I suppose. It's just hard to justify buying new things when I know the weight is falling off and none of the new clothes will fit in a few months.

I decided to go to Old Navy and look around - with all their holiday sales, $25 would go pretty far! When I walked in, my 345-pound-Mary instincts kicked in, and I headed right for jewelry and winter scarves. I've always wanted to shop at Old Navy, and while they do offer plus sizes, they only sell them online, not in stores. So whenever I am in there with family or friends, I usually pretend to be completely fascinated by shiny necklace and earring sets or holiday socks so I have something to do.

I drifted away from that stuff, and headed towards the actual clothing. There were so many cute tops! And sweaters! And coats! I headed over towards the jeans and decided to try on a pair, just to see how much more work I needed to do to get into them. Katie asked me the other day what size I am wearing these days, and I admitted that I honestly had no idea since besides a pair of track pants for running, I haven't bought any new clothes. So I grabbed the biggest size they sell - 20 - and headed for the fitting room.

sobfest 2k10, but worth it
This is me, in an Old Navy dressing room, wearing size 20 jeans. They fit over my calves. They fit over my thighs. And they button - without having to suck in or anything. No muffin top!

Not going to lie, I cried a little. I've never owned pants from Old Navy before - ever. The only bottoms I ever owned from Old Navy was a skort I had in eighth grade ... ten years ago. That was a 20, also, and it was tight when I bought it. These jeans are made of that stretchy denim, and it feels like I maybe could have bought 18s. Un. Be. Stinkin'. Lievable!

Needless to say, it took an awful lot for me to not sleep in the jeans last night; I wonder how many calories I burned doing a happy dance. It's so amazing, and yet at the same time, totally unreal to me. I mean, 79 pounds is an awful lot, so I knew I wouldn't be wearing the same size pants as I was in July. But somehow, I still find myself completely blown away by this. I can buy pants at a normal store!!!

December 3, 2010

Roses and thorns

For me, writing is an incredible stress relief - letting go of these thoughts really helps clear my head, whether via hand-writing them or typing them out. Ich liebe Gl├╝hweinThis has been a pretty emotionally heavy blog week, and I want to thank everyone not only for hanging in there while I told these long stories, but for all the great comments - I cannot thank you all enough for your support!

Offline, though, this week has been pretty much the opposite - it's been fairly relaxed emotionally. I'm down another five pounds, making my current weight 266 and my total loss 79 pounds. I really kicked butt this week with exercising - I had some slip ups with C25k (which I will write about tomorrow), but I got right back on track last night, running 2.5 miles (oh my goodness, I cannot believe that [a] I just said that [b] I actually did it!). So my total for Jess' December Merry-thon challenge is 2.5 miles so far - looking good! And as far as work goes, I'm on top of most of my work stuff, so no all night grading marathons next week like I used to do in grad school! There's a lot to do, don't get me wrong, but I have more than enough time to get it done and still sleep, eat, exercise, and even have a little fun.

Today is the last day of classes for the semester, and I can hardly believe it. I'm more than ready for a vacation, and I'm very excited about what Spring 2011 has to offer. I'm going to have most of my students again next semester, which is good - it makes everything a lot easier since the majority of the students will already be used to my teaching style. the bean!I will be teaching the last of the basic French courses, and although I have taught the material before, it was during an accelerated summer session (16 weeks of work in 4 weeks). So there will be challenges, but nothing outside of my capabilities.

I have a little bit of time in Chicago before heading to my parents' home in Connecticut for two weeks. I want to get ahead with lesson planning for the spring, get caught up with my laundry piles, and explore the city a bit, since Chicago at Christmastime is unbelievably wonderful. Ice skaters in Millennium Park (on my to-try list - I've always been too scared of falling!), the decorated store windows at Macy's, and the giant Christmas tree and the German Christmas market at Daley Plaza ... if that doesn't fill your heart with Christmas spirit, I don't know what will!

December 2, 2010

Part Three: Steve

After Sam graduated, I found myself trying to move forward. A friend suggested online dating, which produced more than its share of really terrible first dates. Like the guy who wanted to meet in the school cafeteria - the entire date lasted about seven minutes. Or the guy who made me pay for dinner because he drove - I don't mind footing the bill, but really, he drove 1.2 miles, and I was vegetarian at the time, so the bill was comprised of my $4 plate of steamed veggies and his $28 sushi boat. Or the guy who went on a fifteen minute tirade about how the French are a bunch of "surrender monkeys" - though, admittedly, it was pretty great later when he asked my major,e-town map love and you could see his mouth opening and his foot heading right for it.

My first first date, though, was remarkable. Extraordinary. Life-altering. And over four years later, still capable of devastating me.

I got a great job in summer 2006, working on-campus with a bunch of my friends - we got to stay in the dorms and basically get paid to hang out all summer. Incredible! I usually moved back home with my parents for the summer, so this freedom was going to be life-altering. I made plans for the whole summer, with everything from the usual promises (lose weight, get active) to a few new resolutions (stop sleeping around). The eating went awry after a few weeks, and with all my friends around, it was a lot easier to choose laying around in the air conditioning and watching movies over going out and exercising. But somehow, I had lost about ten pounds, and I was feeling really positive. And so, I decided to give online dating another chance.

Near the middle or end of May, I met a guy that I was certain that I would marry. We were so similar - we were both shy, intelligent, and we had a mutual love for the music of Belle & Sebastian. His name was Steve, and he was 24. We sent each other e-mails at least once a day for over a month - always long, always very interesting. It was so different than talking to Sam or Scott - this love was a real love, a love without pressure or expectation. It seemed really genuine, and after being so completely devastated by what had happened with Sam, I was very deeply affected by the things Steve would write in his letters or say on the phone. It just seemed so much more genuine. For example: my maternal grandmother passed away shortly after we started talking, and it was one of my first times that I grieved the loss of a loved one. If for nothing else, I was grateful to have Steve in my life at that time for the kindnesses he expressed and the well wishes he extended my way.
I hope you're doing well. I just hope, above all else, you've found some good people to hold you. I've been falling asleep each night with twilight convictions of seeking you out to find out how you are and give you a big hug...
But of course, Steve was complicated - he had gotten married the summer before with a girl whom he had met in college and who had been his only girlfriend. a picture he had sent me, i hardly remember this faceThey were in the middle of a divorce, and with all the maturity of a 19 year old girl, I thought that I could have waited - and not only waited, but waited as long as necessary so that we could be together.

I like to think about the two of us at that point in time as two shooting stars falling towards each other. It seems lovely and romantic, until you realize that really, we're both burning out with each inch we travel. I wish that I had been more familiar with the idea of transitional objects, because then perhaps I wouldn't have fallen so hard. The problem was that we were both in the midst of serious changes in our lives. Could we have fallen in love and ended up together? Yes, without a doubt. But only at another time or in another place. Under other circumstances, things could have ended up much differently than they did. We claimed to be looking for love, when really, we were looking for distractions.

And, oh, the poetic distractions.
... there is physical attraction for me. I like that you're a little on the short side. I like your glasses, and your curly hair. I like that you don't wear much make-up regularly, and that you wear comfortable clothes. Your neck and shoulders look soft, and I want to touch them, put my face in them. I'm fairly certain I could lose myself to your eyes...

...right now, what I want more than anything else is to smile at you and see you smile back.
I suppose that I was even more vulnerable than before because of everything that had happened in the preceding few months. a very very very fine houseThe random hookups were fun but emotionless, and really, that was what I needed to feel satisfied. I fell for him, hook, line, and sinker.

Finally, we decided to go out, and since we were decidedly not the kind of people who would be content with dinner and a movie, we decided to vary the theme a little. There would be dinner, but the rest of the evening, we would be squatting in his parents' old house (it was empty, they had recently moved but the house hadn't been sold yet). When he came to pick me up, it was overwhelmingly emotional for me, and I was very proud of myself for keeping my composure. I was flooded with sadness and remorse for everything that had transpired with Sam, with Scott, with the others. This was the one I was supposed to have waited for.

Dinner was lovely, and near the end, he leaned in and asked if he could hold my hand on the ride home. It meant everything to me. I was aching over having given Scott nearly all of my most important firsts, but the pain was soothed by the simple action of him taking my hand in his. This moment was all ours.

In the vacant house, we took his laptop and went up to what was formerly his father's office. We laid on the floor with a nest of pillows and blankets, and began to watch a movie I had brought: Jean-Luc Godard's "A bout de souffle" ("Breathless"). We got about ten minutes in before I realized he wasn't watching the film, he was looking at me. I scooted a little closer, and he began to caress my face and my neck. It was perfect. We kissed, and it was the exact fireworks moment I had dreamed it would be. It was soft and tender and unlike kissing Scott, there wasn't emptiness. This wasn't a placeholder, a mandatory stop before whatever was to come next - his kisses felt like there was something much more emotional behind them. One kiss became two, and then three. The socks came off, then the overshirts, then everything else. Yes, it was a first date. But after dozens of personal and intimate letters, it felt like I was being reunited with someone I'd known forever.

And then, as quickly as it had begun, he stopped. He said that he was feeling conflicted, that he was technically still married, and that he could not go any further. Suddenly, we were Adam and Eve, postlapsarian. We were aware of where we were, what we had been doing, and what exactly we weren't wearing. We scrambled to get dressed, then fell asleep on opposite sides of the room. We woke the next day with noticeably decreased excitement about being together, but we still spent the day together the worst of it now, i can't remember your face- complete with the most awkward lunch at a Japanese restaurant where he put his wedding ring back on. (Lesson learned: sushi dates and me? Not meant to be.)

Interestingly enough, we maintained contact for a few weeks after he dropped me off that afternoon, and we had even planned on a second date. His letters became more and more rare, though, and their passion was proportionate to their frequency. Finally, a day or two before our second date, he sent me a letter full of sadness and anger. He was sick, depressed, and he didn't want to go out anymore. He said he would send me an e-mail as soon as everything got better; I was ready to wait for him as long as he needed.

I waited a day, and then two. Then a week, a month, six months. An entire year went by before I got another letter from him. He told me that he was sorry, that he regretted having hurt me, and that he wished me all the best. In retrospect, I should have realized that our "love" story couldn't have ended any other way. He had left his wife without saying a word - how could I have assumed that he wouldn't have done the same thing to me? But so many things conspired against me with Steve - I was young, I was vulnerable, I was in the middle of an emotional growth spurt. And so, I ached and grieved for much longer than I should have - how can a person justify years of sobbing and difficulty falling asleep when there was hardly anything lost in the first place?

In June 2009, I decided that the statute of limitations was up on my feeling bad about everything that had happened. So, I bought a round trip plane ticket, Chicago to Paris, and spent a week trying to enjoy life and forget about him. I brought printed copies of all his letters and left them in France. I wish it had worked as well as I had hoped, but his ghost continued to haunt me for a few more months.

I had always fantasized about a "Casablanca"-esque reunion where I cursed the fact that of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, he had walked into mine. But as it turns out, a friend request via Facebook is my generation's signature heartbreaking romantic moment. We were "friends" for a few weeks before I subtly removed our connection. He was seeing someone else, which wasn't actually the most devastating part, as I was nine hundred miles away at that point. The worst was realizing I had spent years aching for this lost emotional connection, and he seemed wholly unscathed.

if you've read all this whining, you deserve a gold medal, seriously
And so, that's where I am today. I waiver back and forth with uncertainty about whether or not I can ever trust a guy - what if he's sneaking off with some blonde neighbor? Or what if I'm the one he's sneaking off with? And what if he just up and leaves?

My weight-related self-esteem issues were a lot of what got me into this mess in the first place, and yet obesity has been my shield. Thanks to this body, I generally remain alone, and no one can hurt me or leave me. At times, it makes for a very lonely and sad life, but I've felt safe. I've remained obese for so long in order to assure that no one sees me as a love object - if no one loves me, no one will leave me. It's terribly backwards thinking, but then again, logic has never been my strong point.

I am not simply on a quest to lose weight. I'm on a journey of self-discovery and identity establishment. I am seeking health in every aspect of my life, a major component of which is emotional weight loss. Having written these stories down the past three days, I feel as if some of the burden has been relieved. There's an incredible lightness, and I'm just as proud of that as I am of all the physically lost pounds.

December 1, 2010

Part Two: Scott

After hearing from Sam that I was not where I ought to be in terms of sexual experience, I sought to change the status quo. In retrospect, my logic was completely warped, and I really ought not to have taken his words seriously - he himself had a strange sexual past, including losing his virginity at fifteen to a friend's mother (which technically means he was raped). He had his own problems to worry about, and I should have recognized that instead of taking his words to heart. But at nineteen, confused and craving attention, I focused only on finding what I considered to be a solution to what he considered to be a problem.

The where and how of meeting Scott is better left unsaid, but put in the most simple way, he was a professor at the university I was attending. A few brief exchanges, conversations quick and to the point, and then, it happened. from blog dot newsok dot com slash bamsblog - not as random of an image as it may seemOnly a couple of months after Sam had told me I lacked experience, I began making up for it in that very same dorm room. It was fast, and more scientific than emotional - I didn't care about Scott at all. I was mostly thinking about the fact that what was happening, was happening. And that being on the other side of this ridiculous exchange would change part of my personal definition in a way that would change the way Sam saw me and thought about me.

I feel completely disgusted thinking about it now ... the fact that it even began, the fact that it continued to happen for as long as it did, and the fact that I continued to speak to Scott even after I found out he was married. I didn't know that he was married when I lost my virginity to him, and I guess I naively assumed that if he was willing to sleep with me, then of course he wasn't otherwise obligated. My only concern had been with my own awakening, my personal awareness.

I did not sleep with him again after learning this, but still, I didn't walk away like I should have. We maintained contact for a couple of years, in fact. I often wonder if the awful relationship-related things in my life are karmic retribution for this. But I hope not - if everyone was punished for the rest of their lives for stupid things they did as teenagers, absolutely everyone would walk around constantly suffering.

After Scott flipped the "non-virgin" switch, there were other men that I hooked up with, no strings attached. It had a drug-like effect, comparable to the way I feel after a severe binge. I was addicted to the attention, to the feeling of power that sleeping with strangers gave me. I had the power to command this kind of reaction in men - and I interpreted it as adding to what little personal value I had when I kept my legs together. The number of men is still fewer than I can count on one hand, but more than I should have. I'm not that kind of girl, and five years removed from the situation, I can honestly say that if I sat down with the girl that I was during that time, I'm not sure I would recognize her.

One evening, Sam came to visit me, and we took a nap together. He kissed my eyelids, my cheeks, and then, very softly, my lips. I almost cried of happiness. Finally, success! We laid there, and I listened to his heartbeat and the tick of his wristwatch, felt the rise and fall of his chest and the stubble on his face. upon waking.The alarm clock went off at 6:45, since I had to go to work at 7:00, and he hugged me and said goodbye.

Like many literary heroines in their moments of weakness, I foolishly believed that changing myself would change him, and that now that I had sacrificed my morals, everything would be smooth sailing from now until forever.

After our nap, I went to work, and he left my bed to visit that of another girl, a blonde who lived in another dorm building. I remember that it was shortly after Facebook had introduced the ability to add photo albums, and that evening, he was tagged in a pretty scandalous photo - essentially, her straddling him. He was smiling in a way I hadn't seen before, and it devastated me. Even now, I still feel heartbroken, an immense regret after having sullied myself for him.

I was making mistakes left and right, and the worst part was, I wasn't learning from them. I knew Sam was going off with this girl and others, but when we were alone, it was like I forgot all about it. And the problem was, if we were together, we were always alone. He was okay with taking naps with me, or with kissing and laying together watching a movie. But in public, it was quick waves or very quiet hellos.

The thing is, I don't doubt that Sam genuinely liked me as a person. We hung out a lot - almost daily, in fact. He was a writer and an actor, and he would read me his stories or scripts or we would watch a movie together and talk about it in that interesting way I always assumed college students and grownups discussed things.

my generation will have the shittiest relics of youth
And so it seemed fitting that one of the last times we hung out, I delivered a scene right out of an award-winning romantic comedy. He had showed me a wonderful book he had found, and he let me borrow it so I could sketch some of the drawings I liked from the cover. When I handed it back, he found it full of handwritten Post-It notes.
i will love you when your movies are hits, and i will love you if they aren't.

i will still love you if you have no money and you just write scripts all the time,

when you're in between jobs and cannot offer me anything except your love and a few dedication pages.
He said he loved me too, and immediately upon hearing it, I knew it wasn't true, at least not in the way I wanted it to be. I am not some character in a period romance, I don't want a secret love. I only want your love and your kisses if you're willing to admit to them publicly. He graduated later that semester, and luckily, out of sight meant out of mind.

I tried to go out with other guys after him, but generally without success. I tended to seek out guys who were a little strange and awkward, since these were the men I deserved. It seemed to me that I needed to find a man broken into as many pieces as I was, when really, what I need is to find some glue.

Tomorrow, part three: Steve.

November 30, 2010

Part One: Sam

I found this photo earlier this summer while organizing computer files. How young I was! And beautiful! And (compared with the day when I found the image) ... thin! i wanna go back in time and hug this kidI took this photo six years ago, at the beginning of my sophomore year of college. I was living in a suite with seven other Honors students - a "learning community," they called it - in a dorm typically reserved for juniors and seniors. We fought for the suite, saying we wanted a place where we could all study together - but really, it was about drinking and partying with older boys. I was never much of a partyer, but my college friends were, so I followed.

This picture makes me a little sad, if I reflect on the little girl that I was here - totally innocent, totally naive. One month after taking this photo, I met a young man who would set in motion several events that would change my life. His name was Sam, sort of. His name was actually Harrison, but he always went by Sam - his parents had named him after Harrison Ford, and when his grandmother heard that, she said that they were crazy and that she refused to call him that. She called him Sam, and so that's what he went by.

While working in the building having the residents sign in their guests, I became smitten with this boy that I always saw walking around. He had brown curly hair and always wore a sport coat, and I thought he was beautiful. I never spoke to him, but occasional glimpses always left me breathless. It was exactly what I thought my first real love would be like. there are far worse things to regretI finally got up the courage to talk to him, and as it turned out, he was even more incredible than I had imagined. Creative, artsy, interesting. We got to talking, and one night when all my suitemates had gone home for the weekend, he came to visit me.

We spent the entire night together listening to jazz music and talking while a thunderstorm raged outside. There was a little lamp in the common room that set a soft blue ambiance, and we talked about many things, eventually ending up talking about love. Laying on the common room floor, curled up in a blanket next to him, I admitted to him that I had never done anything like this before with a guy, and he responded in a surprisingly critical way:
"Really?! That's what high school is for, you know."
We need to step back a little, then, to talk about what high school was like for me. I was always very academically motivated, I was active with lots of afterschool clubs and organizations, and I had a part-time job in a florist shop. Dating was not a high priority - in fact, it really wasn't a priority at all. My grandparents met on a beach and my parents met in an elevator; I assumed that this part of my life would fall into place when the time and the circumstances were right.

When I went off to college in 2004, I decided not to go to UConn like half my graduating class, but to a different school in Connecticut to try and meet new people and make new friends. I loved my friends very much, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and start over. My friends were good students, quiet and shy, but we were all ready to get to college and experience all of it fully. she's my rushmore, maxAnd among my friends, it was universally decided that I would be the one most likely to meet my husband in the first week at college.

So to hear this from Sam, that I was innocent to a fault? My heart was broken. With all the wisdom of a nineteen-year-old girl, I interpreted his comments as meaning that I had catching up to do, and so I decided that I needed to cultivate sexual experiences so that this boy could love me, and so that I wouuld know how to love him.

Six years later, I can recognize the flawed logic. But at that moment, all I wanted was for someone to love me. I'm not proud of what I did, but at the time, I believed it to be necessary.

Tomorrow, part two: Scott.

November 29, 2010

The speed of life

I ran 2.25 miles last night, which is more than I've ever ran without stopping, and I'm more than pleased. In the start of my run, though, a familiar feeling came over me: sometimes when I run, I feel like I could keep going and do a whole marathon. Usually the feeling only lasts about a mile, and then reality sets in. My legs start to get a little tired, and I finish up whatever distance I have left feeling grateful that I can run at all. It's not my body that thinks I can run a marathon right now - it's my mind.

My body and my mind tend to travel at different speeds, and the role of the faster one alternates between the two. On nights like last night, when I am pushing myself to my physical limits, my mind feels like it can go forever. artwork by kurt halsey - kurt halsey dot comI am so much more capable than I was only a few months ago, and I want to go out and maximize every day. The problem, though, is that despite losing over seventy pounds, I'm still very obese. There are still physical limits. Yes, I can test them and push them and sometimes I can do things that surprise me. But no matter how much I want to do almost anything and everything, I'm still somewhat limited by my size.

At the times when my body gets ahead of my mind, it is largely internal. Despite the fact that I used to weigh 345 pounds, and despite the fact that as of my last weigh-in I was in the 270s, I'm still a twenty-four year old girl, and there are things that both my body and my mind desire. My body feels amazing and full of energy and wants to go out on dates and have the normal twenty-something experience, but my mind keeps putting the brakes on. In my mind, I can always justify not going out and trying to obtain the life that I want - which is obvious, I think, since I ended up twenty-three years old and 345 pounds. artwork by kurt halsey - kurt halsey dot comBut I feel so weighed down by the idea that even though my seventy-four pound weight loss is great personally, it still isn't enough for everyone else. Someone meeting me now would have no idea how much progress I've made, he'd only see what I currently have to offer.

Which I guess begs the question, At what point will it be enough? And then I wonder if it will ever be. That's something I need to figure out myself, I suppose. My mind and my body need to meet up and travel together at the speed of life. Even the thinnest people, people who have never had to consider losing three-fifths of their body weight, have things they don't like about themselves. I know that a huge part of my journey is working on my self-confidence, and I need to put in a conscious effort now during the journey so that when I get to where I want to be, I am prepared. There is no switch that will automatically flip once the scale reads a number I am satisfied with. Lately, it's been power surges, followed by brownouts.

For some reason, a lot of my recent self-confidence issues stem from dating and relationships. My past experience has always been that settling for less than perfect and putting up with a lot of poor treatment because I was lonely and being mistreated was better than being alone. More than anything, I want someone in my life, someone here with me to share in this journey - a boyfriend, a workout partner, a culinary guinea pig, and a co-adventurer. But my mind interjects and starts arguing. artwork by kurt halsey - kurt halsey dot comI worry about the things I will have to explain to someone who isn't aware of where I've been, like loose skin. And why would I get someone involved now when everything about me is changing?

These things might not matter to the right guy. But for now, in my mind, these are dealbreakers. I don't like feeling vulnerable, and in my non-blog life, I have a very difficult time letting people in. I hurt myself enough in the past, I need to recover from my self-inflicted wounds before I let down my guard and retreat, fully exposed, from behind my shield.

I do have some savvy with dating and things like that, and so for the rest of this week, I am going to do a series of blog posts talking about my history with the three guys who have (like it or not) shaped a good deal of my ideas about and experiences with relationships and the like. I collectively refer to them as "the pains in my S," as their names are Sam, Scott, and Steve. It's just not my lucky letter, I guess. For me, these are very heavy, impactful tales, and even though I am currently feeling very good and positive about my journey, I feel like I need to express them now so I can try and ease some of the burden of my emotional weight.

November 28, 2010

Drop dead gorgeous

My positive sign for the week:

she's just so lovely
Not sure what happened to flip the switch, but in the past two or three days, I've felt really beautiful. I know I still have a long way to go before I get to my goal weight, but it's nice to enjoy the ride a little. I guess I've loved myself all along, even at my biggest, and even though I hurt and mistreated my body. And I love this girl now, because she is lovely and motivated and capable of incredible things. And I just can't wait to see how things keep going for her!

Challenge start weight: 332
Current weight: 271

Of the 74 pounds I have lost, 61 have been during this challenge!

Progress on my DDGbG goals: I totally love making new recipes. They've almost all been successes, and I like mixing things up and trying something new. For this week, I made Thai peanut turkey burgers ... and holy moley, were they good!

ughhh so delicious
It might not look like much, but it was seriously amazingly delicious. I found the original recipe here, but (surprise, surprise), I modified it a little. For example, I only had regular peanut butter and not all natural. I omitted the sesame oil, because it seemed extraneous, and it turned out that I was right. I accidentally bought scallions instead of shallots because I'm forgetful and still learning about how to cook, so I used about a quarter of a sweet onion chopped up small. I also used about 10 baby carrots instead of one medium carrot, because it's what I had in the house.

In the original recipe, the author also made a chili-cilantro mayo to spread on top, but I skipped it for a couple of reasons. First, because the taste of cilantro is absolutely the worst flavor in the entire world. And also, because mayo just isn't worth the calories to me. The burger was spicy, delicious, juicy, and flavorful - no accents needed!

I told my sister Katie about these burgers, and she said they sounded amazing - she really likes spicy Thai food too, so I will probably make these when I am in Connecticut!

ONE thing that you are proud of for the week: I had hoped to finish my Thanksgiving 8k in 90 minutes (about 18 minutes per mile) - I ended up finishing in 80:29.8, or 16:12 per mile. Go Mary, go!

ONE thing that you can improve upon for the following week: Keeping up the good work. Besides errands, I spent most of yesterday at home doing housework (mopping, dishes, dusting, sweeping - the works!), and I spent all day Friday at the office grading and getting ahead for work (the sooner I finish, the sooner my vacation starts!). I'm finally getting caught up on the things that have been stressing my life, and so everything else is going smoothly and falling into place.