January 15, 2011

I was meant for the stage

I have a record player in my kitchen, complete with a crate of records that I have rescued from bins at various thrift stores in both Connecticut and Chicago. There are a lot of Christmas albums, some nice classical/opera/jazz stuff, and a few classic rock records ... but mostly, I have old Broadway soundtracks. Without a doubt, I listen to those the most - especially when I'm washing dishes. On any given evening (and most Saturdays), my poor neighbors have to put up with me belting out selections from "South Pacific," "The Sound of Music," or "Bye Bye Birdie." from when it was in my dorm room in college - total hipster street credI turn on the player, fill the sink with sudsy water, and sing along until the needle clicks and I need to dry, put away, and flip the record.

I've always loved singing even though I was never the best singer, and as a kid, I wanted to act - kind of. I have never had the desire to be a movie star, but I desperately wanted to be in the community and high school plays. I was sold on musical theater in first grade when the local high schoolers came to my elementary school - they got to rehearse, and we got to see a little bit of a show - win, win! They put on a couple of scenes from "Guys and Dolls," and I was in love.

I think part of the attraction to theater was also "the crowd." I was an incredibly shy kid who read voraciously, and I was always so enticed by stories of teenagers figuring out who they were in high school - finding a group of friends with common interests, finding a boyfriend with common interests, having something to do every weekend. These theater kids had it figured out, and it all sounded so dreamy to a little kid who felt pretty lost in her own world most days.

When I was in fourth grade, a friend called me up and said that her mother was taking her down to the town hall to try out for that summer's community musical: "The Music Man." I remember wearing a denim hat with a big pink flower on it (1995 was an interesting time for fashion), and I remember being given sheet music for "Seventy-six Trombones" and quickly taught a little dance. I thought I had done a great job, and I left the audition confident that I would be singing and dancing on that stage again for the next four months, that this was just the beginning of my teenage career in musical theater, the first step towards the future I fantasized about constantly.

The cast list was posted about a week later, and my name was surprisingly (to me, at least) absent. It devastated me - I even asked my mother to let me stay home from school the next day because I was so heartbroken. At nine years old, I decided that my life as an actress was over before it had even began.

This small defeat may just have altered the course of my life - my high school friends weren't the theater kids, I never dated in high school, and I never again tried to sing or dance in any sort of production - but I don't want to say that I'm sad or upset, or that I could have been a totally different person or in a completely different place and/or situation. I believe that I am exactly where the universe has destined me to be right now. But still, it's interesting to consider. It forces me to think about how many dreams I have had over the years that I have abandoned because of small defeats.

And so, I am choosing this moment, right now, to declare that I'm not going to give up on my dreams anymore. I'm choosing this moment to fortify my resolve, to get going even when the going gets tough, to pick myself up when I fall instead of letting myself slide. My weight loss so far has been a tremendous success in the fight to live my dreams, but my body is only half my battle. I'm choosing this moment, right now, to listen to my heart, to stay strong and courageous, and to have faith in the universe's plan.

January 14, 2011

Roses and thorns

As of this morning, I'm at 250, a four pound loss for this week. Hooray! And - I hit a goal this week! Yes, it was a goal I chose simply because I like numbers that end in five and zero, but nevertheless, I met it! On top of the goal, I now have only five pounds to go for my hundred pound loss. I'm positively giddy, which is great, because I spent a lot of this week feeling wishy-washy.

Between the stress of the beginning of the semester, adapting to going back to work after four weeks of vacation (and readapting to going to the gym an awful lot more than I did when I was in Connecticut), and all of the introspection that last weekend has inspired, I have been feeling odd - no appetite for a couple days, a nervous stomach ache, and tired all the time. I brought my gym bag to work on Wednesday with the intention of running, and I was so tired by 3:30pm that I just went home and laid around all afternoon, then went to bed around 9.man, i hope this works In fact, I think I was in bed by 9:30 most nights this week! Now that I'm not a student, I tend to give in whenever I feel really tired like this - clearly this is what my body needs.

Teaching has gone fairly well so far. I have three sections of the same course, which is terrific - only one set of lesson plans to do! I have taught this material before, but during an accelerated summer course where we did 16 weeks of material in 4 weeks, so slowing down and making sure they totally understand is something I need to work on. I'm very lucky to have a lot of students that were in my courses last semester, so the classroom atmosphere is already very comfortable, I think. Unfortunately, though, one of my sections has already established itself as the "trouble" group - not coming prepared to class during the first week of class is not a good sign for how the rest of the semester will go. I'm optimistic, though, and tomorrow I'm bringing my subject/verb beach balls for some fun review. If a game doesn't get them thinking, what will?!

Because this was the first week of classes, I have finally experienced my own wave of "resolutioners" at the gym. I don't mind, to be honest - last night it was really crowded so I ran on the track instead of the treadmill, and it was wonderful. I did 50 laps (3.33 miles) in 46:06 - not bad, considering it was my longest run since I did the 5k. I've been doing the recumbent bike, which I have never really tried before but I definitely enjoy. I have also been back in the pool a few times, but I'm taking a break from it until I get a new bathing suit ... mine from this summer is far too big. It was okay for a while since there's a skirt on it, but now it's so loose that I'm concerned about showing a bit too much!

January 13, 2011


Amy gave me two blog awards this week - because life *is* good right now. How sweet! Thanks, Amy!

I'd like to pass them on to Lesley, who has totally been kicking butt lately, and on all fronts of this battle - something to aspire to, for sure!

1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you aren't anonymous, do you wish you started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?
It's anonymous, mostly. I don't use my last name or too many specifics, but I don't mind showing my face or telling people I'm in Chicago ... it's a big enough city. The things that I write about are so personal that I'm not sure I could maintain it being anonymous for too long.

2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.
I'm not sure I have an inner stubborn side. I'm pretty flexible and easy-going, to be honest.

3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
Some days I am more positive than others, and it's something I'm honestly trying to work on. The positive days outweigh the negative days more lately, which is a major victory compared to how I used to be. And even the negative days aren't terrible - it's not so much that I don't like what I see, but that I am just meeting this person and she's tough to get to know for some reason. So I guess I see a work in progress.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
An Arnold Palmer - about two-thirds unsweetened iced tea, one-third lemonade. Totally delicious and refreshing! Plus, I don't like drinks that are too sweet, so it's a nice balance.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
Take naps! I absolutely love napping - even just a power nap can do wonders for your attitude.

6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life?
I want to find a permanent job in a city that I love. I want to ride a bike through the south of France. And I want a family of my own.

7. When you attended high school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?
I was definitely an overachiever - though my Senior Superlative was "Class Individualist." Fancy way of saying quiet-kid-we-don't-really-understand.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?
In 2001 when my sisters and I got the phone call and found out that our brother had just been born. It was happy and sad, for a lot of different reasons. But definitely a day I remember every second of.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog, or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people and events?
When I write about myself, I almost always relate it to other people and events. I'm comfortable with both, though, which is surprising. I'm entirely honest here, and in my "real" life, I am extremely secretive and afraid of letting my guard down.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?
I love reading, and talking on the phone makes me anxious. Easy decision.

January 12, 2011


One of my favorite things to do after returning to Chicago is to have dinner and/or tea with my cousin Sarah. We saw each approximately other every other summer growing up, and since my first visit to Chicago in 2005 (and my eventual relocation here) we've become quite close - she's the older sister with the wisdom that comes from real life experience that I always wanted. She's my strongest support in real life - an emotional e-mail from her was one of the catalysts of my deciding to lose weight - and so a cousins date with Sarah is always so wonderful. I always walk away feeling very confident and reassured, no matter what's on my mind.

Last Friday, we had dinner and great conversations at her place - she asked me how I am feeling these days, and it was really nice to sit back and reflect on that. A lot of people ask me, "How do you feel?", and while I don't find it offensive, it does give me pauseblue star art - there are two ways to read the question, I guess, and so I have to stop and wonder which question the person is actually asking.

Most people ask in terms of physical feeling: so many people have never had to consider losing more than half their body weight, so the idea of losing nearly a hundred pounds is mind-boggling ... especially when it has been lost so quickly. The idea of a life at 345 pounds is as unfathomable to them as a life at 135 pounds is to me.

Sarah's question, though, was more in terms of emotions - and in my opinion, it's the much tougher one to answer. Emotionally, I am in a very tough place. It's hard to describe, as it's neither high nor low. It's just ... foreign. I'm in a place I have been before but that I do not remember exactly, except that I'm generally happier now on the way down than when my weight was on its way up.

After explaining some of my conflicted emotions and feelings, we talked about how it's kind of like I'm going through puberty again. There are so many changes I am faced with, though not all of them are physical. Yes, I have this new body that can do things I never knew it could - from running miles without stopping, to turning heads. But there are also so many things I need to learn - like how to understand both the new powers and the new responsibilities.

January 11, 2011

There are no teams (Toon Tuesday)

The awesome and artsy Loretta invited me last week to join her and Anne for Toon Tuesday, where they both create art for their blogs every week. It's something I'd like to do seriously, and the next time I make some art (likely soon), I will share it on a Tuesday. I don't think these are quite the drawings that those ladies had in mind. But I wanted to tell this story a little differently, and drawing really helped me sort through the events and deal with it myself.

In case you were concerned, please know that I will never, ever run out of things to write about ... because as long as I walk this earth, I will have awkward experiences that leave me with way too much to think about - which I will then share with you.

So, without further ado, here you go: here is a pictorial representation of events/thoughts related to my date from Saturday night. (I apologize in advance that all the couch ends turned out looking pretty phallic. And I forgot a couple of torsos. Torsoes? Oh well.)


I have a lot of growing up to do still.

January 10, 2011

WWW: Week Two

My picture for the week:

old navy half button peacoat, je t'aime
My sister bought this coat for herself but it didn't fit her properly, so when I was in Connecticut, I tried it on and adopted it right away. I think it would be safe to say that I am in love with this coat. I've never had "cute" clothes - clothes for me have always been functional; as long as something fit, I bought it, and I'd get it in five different colors to keep me good for a while. This coat feels like success to me, and I love how happy I feel just wearing it!

What have you done this past week to help you achieve your goals?
Lots, actually! (1) As of Friday's weigh-in, I'm nine pounds away from my 100 pound weight loss! (2) I've been running, not as much as I should have, but between coming back from Connecticut and forgetting that the gym has winter hours, I've been thrown off a bit. Spring hours resumed yesterday, so I'll be back on track this morning! (5) I tried a new fruit! Persimmon - loved it. (6) I went to the Art Institute on Thursday night - a lovely retreat from the cold! My favorite is the Impressionist section. (9) I did a mud masque and just relaxed the other day - it was so dreamy. I've been pretty busy with trying to get back on schedule lately, so it was nice to just sit and enjoy my own company for 20 minutes.

Are any of your goals repeat offenders (i.e., have you made them before and not succeeded)? If so, what do you intend on doing this time to ensure you achieve them?
Though it seems like the easiest, I think the hardest one for me will be doing something every week to make me feel gorgeous. I tend to get very wrapped up in my work and fixate on one thing at a time, so to have to put aside a little time every week to do something just for myself? Tricky!

Do you have a support system in place to help you achieve your goals?
For some I do - like training for the 8k. I'm running the race with a friend of mine from work, so we have been going to the gym together.

Are you a planner when it comes to meeting your goals, or do you tend to "wing it" and hope for the best?
Planner - always, not just with challenges. I need to have a plan.

Who knows about your blog? Are you on blogger lockdown or do the "real" people in your life know about your blog/read your blog?
Right now, none of my friends or family have the address, though a few know that I keep a blog. One of the things I am weighing with my decision to possibly move off of Blogger and onto my own site is the idea of building bigger readership, and that might include my "inner circle." I'm really torn over the idea, to tell the truth - if I wrote strictly about what I eat and how much I exercise, that wouldn't be too big of a deal, but I write a lot about the emotional struggles I am experiencing with weight loss. I pride myself on how honest and open I am here, and having friends and family reading might compromise my openness.

January 9, 2011

Lentil barley stew

Getting back on track from being away for over two weeks has been easy, which I am pleased about; since coming back to Chicago, I have eaten quite well. For example, baked chicken nuggets and zucchini:

spicy and wonderful
Or chicken curry with rice and asparagus:

not the part of the evening that left the bad taste in my mouth
Yes, I eat chicken a lot. And yes, there are two plates set in that second picture. But that's a story for Tuesday. (The story is about the two plates, not about my eating lots of chicken. "I eat lots of chicken." End of story. Boring.)

I really liked trying one new recipe a week for DDGbD, so I am going to try to continue that, and I will post the recipes on Sundays.

I really love cooking, I always have. It's very therapeutic for me - I'm very much a person who enjoys order and rules, and cooking requires both. Plus, the artist in me loves taking raw materials and putting them together in such a way that something new and wonderful is created.

This week, I made lentil barley stew - after two weeks with my family, I definitely needed a break from heavy meals. This was perfect: very filling without the weight of meat (especially red meat, which my family eats comparatively often - I have it once a month at most, it just isn't my favorite. Chicken's for me!).

so yummy!
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. minced fresh gingerroot
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. dried lentils, rinsed
1/4 c. medium pearl barley
1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 c. water
1 c. vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
In a large saucepan, sauté the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and ginger in oil until crisp-tender. Add lentils and barley; cook 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomatoes, water, broth, and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add soy sauce; simmer 20-30 minutes longer or until lentils and barley are tender.

Yield: 3 cups; a 1.5 c. serving has 304 calories, 5 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 15 g fiber, and 11 g protein

I found the recipe in Cooking for Two, and adapted it a little: for the sake of sodium reduction, I did low sodium chicken broth and skipped the soy sauce entirely. (One serving of theirs has 1356 mg of sodium!) Didn't miss it at all. If skipping the soy sauce makes the ginger too much for you, just use less ginger. Or none! Problem solved.

Also, there are some green flecks in mine because the can of diced tomatoes that I had in the house had some spices in it. It ended up delicious still, though next time I will definitely be more mindful at the store - I bet the chilies would have been pretty interesting!