A big, fat mistake.

One of the reasons my husband claims to have married me was because I am a good cook.  When we were dating he would marvel as I would work my magic in the kitchen.   Smiling with anticipation, he would be giddy as I placed a plate in front of him.   He was one of those people that would take a picture of what I made, post it to Facebook and let the world know how much tasty goodness I made for him.    When we got married and relocated to the middle of nowhere, I started cooking like I wanted to try out for Iron Chef.    I did this partly because I enjoy cooking, but mostly because I love eating.   With a lack of great restaurant options at my disposal, if I want to eat it, I have to cook it.   For the past few years, this has been fine, I have been well fed and so has my husband, until now.

Last week my husband made a declaration that he is too fat and that it is my fault.   I feed him too much, he says, and make him too much good food.   It is not his constant snacking or love of a good cheese plate to tide him over until the main course.  Nope.  It is my cooking.  It is not his middle of the night pilgrimages to the kitchen where he proceeds to eat the entire trifle cake I made or the pudding he decimates.  Nope.  It is my cooking.   I will admit that if I didn’t make the trifle cake, it wouldn’t be there for him to eat, but am I to blame for him eating it all in one sitting?  According to him, I am.   Every week I hear his complaints that there “is no food in the house” despite weekly food shopping trips that top well over $150.  To avoid the cries that he is wasting away, I give in to his request to buy pretzels, ice cream, and cookies.  In his eyes, if you can’t open the package and eat it right away or if it involves more than putting it in the microwave for 2 minutes, it just isn’t food.

So here we are.  My husband has put on the poundage and is taking action.  He has decided to go on a diet.   Diet is a four letter word.  I never go on diets.  I have lived enough of my life as a starving student and as an entry level low-paying job adult to know what not eating is like and it stinks, so for my husband to purposefully opt to not eat the food I provide makes my head spin.     I suggested that it’s not my cooking that has caused him the added weight, it’s his snacking.  Maybe, I said, he should just cut out the snacks and see what happens.   He wasn’t hearing that.  He claimed that I always give him a larger portion.  That is simply not true and in fact, I usually eat more than him and my weight has stayed steady.    Well, my husband is not going to let facts or rational thought change his mind.  He is going on a diet, which means I’m going on a diet.

What does going on a diet mean for me?  It means salad and more salad; salad every night.   Yes, we are going to top our salad with salad!   My nose is already starting to twitch like a bunny rabbit.   It also means measurement.  He is calculating, measuring, weighing and monitoring every last gram of food and due to the miracle of modern technology he has a plethora of gadgets and apps to help him accomplish this.   It started with his heart / calorie monitor so he knows how many calories he is burning and then he downloaded the app to calculate calories he is eating.  Not being enough, or perhaps questioning the accuracy of correctly identifying the food items he was logging, he downloaded another app that scans barcodes of items in the pantry and instantly tells him how many calories are in his salad accoutrement.

My husband is a man of strong will.  I know he will see this through, but I know what will happen.  He will lose weight and I will find it.   I never crave food so badly as when I can’t have it.   He starts chopping the salad and I start craving the mac and cheese.  He looks for the caloric content of a handful of olives and I reheat the pizza from last week.   This will not end well….for me.

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From Married Girl to Working Girl….

A year ago I got married.  I went from LA media executive to housewife faster than you can say “Honey, get me a beer.”    I left my big time gig and the big time city to move to the Midwest farmlands thinking that maybe I’d install my own chicken coop or possibly learn how to milk my own cows.   I didn’t get that far, but I did become a fan of scratch cooking.  By scratch cooking, I mean everything was from scratch.  Bread?  Baked it myself.   BBQ sauce?  Created my own recipe.   Pesto?  I grew my own basil.    A typical mid-week dinner could be chicken roulade, a gourmet pizza, or scratch made butternut squash raviolis in a bourbon cream sauce.  Every night was special.   I channeled my A-type personality and turned into a younger version of Martha Stewart.     When I was close to the brink of weaving my own cloth, I got a gig at a NYC based software solution company providing media buying solutions to all the big time advertising agencies.   It couldn’t have happened soon enough.   In my downtime preceding this new gig I had time to reflect on how much of me is my job and career.   I also reflected on how each of my different jobs shaped and educated me.

I’m not a feminist, but I am a realist and sometimes there are some facts that can’t be ignored.  My first jobs taught me this.  It made me wonder if the statistic that women make .75 cents for every dollar men make holds water.   I know the argument that women make less because women take time off for child rearing or don’t press for raises as hard has men do; that may be true or it may not.   I do know that when I was 14 and 15 years old, if I baby sat for the neighbors for an hour and a half I would get paid anywhere from 3-5 dollars.   When the boy down the street mowed our quarter acre lot, which took about 30 minutes, he got paid 10-15 dollars.  Babysitting was girl’s work, mowing the lawn was man’s work.  I saw that boys made more mowing the lawn, so I started pushing to have my parents and neighbors to hire me over the neighborhood boys.   I’m still confused as to what this lesson taught me but I can say this, mowing the lawn was MUCH easier work than dealing with a couple of kids.

My first “real” job, well, real as in taxes were taken out was Burger King.   I was a burger bitch.  I endured the humiliation of a really bad polyester blend uniform, name tag, and hair net.   I made $4.25 an hour.   I only worked there for two weeks because they suggested I be the one to mop out the men’s bathroom.  I had to quit.   I did learn my first and most important lesson in sales.  QSR’s (quick service restaurants) call it “rounding out the meal” or the “would you like fries with that” method of driving up a ticket.   This upsell philosophy has been used by me in each of my sales roles and, be it basic, it’s the quickest way to make your numbers.   Essentially, if someone orders a burger and a soft drink, you ask ‘do you want fries with that.’  Most likely the answer is yes, but if you didn’t ask, you never would have made the sale.

After my two weeks of burger bitch-dom, I became a hostess at a local restaurant and got myself a raise.  I was now making $5.00 an hour and felt like I was rolling in it.  Looking back, I was definitely rolling in something but it wasn’t ‘it.”    I ended up working in various capacities in the restaurant business – I was a bartender, bar back, hostess, caterer, food preparation person, dish washer, waitress and bus girl.  I worked at that restaurant for 8 years.   It inspired me to go to culinary school.   Once I made it to culinary school, despite my love of the restaurant business I learned that it was not what I wanted to do with my life.   Sometimes jobs lead you to where you want to be, others act as a directional beacon that steers you in a completely different direction.

I had this brilliant idea that I wanted to interview and party with the rock stars I listened to on the radio.  I moved to LA thinking that this plan would take me years to achieve.  At this point, I was caught with my proverbial pants down.    In just about a year I want from taking trash out to the loading dock of a restaurant in West Warwick, RI to hanging out in 20 million dollar mansions kicking it with artists who had number one hit records.   It was at that point I realized…oh shit, I thought that this plan would take a lot longer, I’ve done this so what’s next?   What did I learn from that?  Well, no matter how big you think your dream is, it’s closer than you realize.

Since this epiphany, I’ve used that knowledge to change direction in my life numerous times.   Take a step back to take a step forward.   I have gone from culinary pursuits, to performing art school, to a music industry career, diverting to a juris doctorate, realizing that a JD needed to be financed and then landing an interactive radio sales gig to pay for it all.     Now I’ve once again moved away from my comfort zone and on to the next phase.   I have been lucky enough to always follow my passion and my dream, I hope you are too.

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The Local Library Peeping Tom

If you ever thought your deepest darkest secrets, desires or freaky obsessions were something only your therapist, spouse or nightstand drawer knows about; think again.   I have a special job that provides me insight into how you think, what kind of person you are and what you are up to.   No, I don’t work for Rupert Murdoch, the CIA or for Google.  My operation is way more low tech, yet highly effective.  I’m on to you – I know you are pregnant, have a parent with Alzheimer’s and that your 2006 Toyota Camry broke down and you are going to try to fix it.    I work at the library and I pick the books out of the stacks that people request.  I’m peeping on you and you don’t even know it.

 

Every week I walk through the stacks with sheets of paper listing out in perfect Dewey Decibel order what book requests we get through our library’s website.  It might not sound exciting or interesting but sometimes if feels like my neighbor left the window open and the lights on and they are standing there naked rubbing Jell-o all over their body.  I never wanted to see it, but it was there and you can’t help but to pause for a minute watching, thinking, “What the Hell is my neighbor doing?”

 

This past week I pulled some particularly disturbing or at least odd books.  Most weeks there is a solid mix.  The pregnant woman reading “What to Expect When You Are Expecting,” the obese person checking out “The Diabetes Diet, Lose Weight and Fight Diabetes,” or the “How To Operate Your Computer For Dummies” manual.    This week a pregnant woman was checking out “Orgasmic Birth.”  I had never heard of it, but I just had to stop and look.  Orgasmic Birth, really?   Apparently, this book teaches a pregnant lady how to have an “intense, ecstatic pleasure during birth.”  Now, I’m not an expert but I’m thinking nothing short of a serious dose of opiates and drugs might give you pain relief, but as far as ecstatic pleasure?  I don’t think so.   I hope the woman who checked out the book isn’t too disappointed when she doesn’t climax during labor.

 

After pulling “Orgasmic Birth” from the stacks, my next book was slightly more disturbing.   The book was about using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorders that focused mainly on obsessive thoughts of rape or murder.  At this point, I wanted to wipe my fingerprints off this book, thinking it might be evidence against a psycho who wants to rape and kill people.   Who else would read this book, a therapist?   I hope not, if they have a person obsessed with murder and assault and they don’t know how to handle it I am doubting the book would provide enough guidance.   At the very best of the worst, there is a person out there that is neither psycho nor psychiatrist but finds the OCD habits of rapists and murders interesting.

 

Today’s cook book was for gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free, sugar-free, dairy-free deserts.  No egg, no gluten, no sugar, no cream?  No problem!  It’s called not a desert!  I then picked up an AP Statistics book and really felt bad for some kid.   You know this student’s parents are pushing the kid to over achieve and the kid will eventually break.  AP Statistics, Booster Club and Science Fair winner this year, passed out on the college quad in a puddle of their own puke next year.   My final batch of books were for the desperate housewife crowd.   They were a bunch of those tawdry, poorly written soft cover, soft core romance novels.    I must have pulled about twenty of them.  I am assuming they were for all the same person and I’m not sure why they felt the need to take a good portion of the Library’s inventory.   In full disclosure, I’ve never actually read any of these kind of books, I wouldn’t even burn them for fear that even the smoke would stink.  I judge a book by it’s cover and when you write a series of books and each of the titles is almost the same:  “Guilty Pleasure,” “Lonely Pleasure,” “Only Pleasure,” “Wicked Pleasure,” “Hot Pleasure,” “Forbidden Pleasure,” etc, I don’t have high hopes for what is on the inside.  One story, swap names and swap places, print and repeat.   It’s bad that those books get published, it’s worse that they get read.

 

Every week it’s something.  Whether it’s the lonely lady with five cats who wants to learn how to knit a monkey from a sock or the man who checks out “Overcoming Sexual Dysfunction The Natural Way,” I’m looking into the window, please put away the Jell-o and get dressed.

 

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Not Such a Boob

“I’m gay and even I like boobs.”    I think that quote says it all on how men feel about boobs.  Even if they are not attracted to women they still like them and are fascinated by them.   I’m not quite sure how it came up, but we were sitting around the table this weekend with some friends and I might have mentioned that I didn’t understand the obsession people have with our mammaries.   Sitting around with a bunch of guys, they just looked at me like I was crazy.  Even our gay neighbor had to add his two cents and affirmed his love of all things booby.   All the guys chimed in and they thought the bigger the better, fake is fine and at the end of the day, any size will do.  Indeed.

I am not a boob gal.  I mean I have a pair, small and perky.  My boobs will never be reaching my knees.  Maybe one day my they could hit my belly button but I would have to start hopping around sans a bra for the next 25 years.   I have always been fine with barely filling out an A cup.  It works for me.  I have very broad, almost linebacker type shoulders so I end up having to buy a size large in shirts, just so they fit me width wise.  The sleeves are always too long, but that’s okay.   I have always had a hard time finding a shirt that fit and if I had bigger boobs I would probably have to go to a plus size store just to get a top.   I got great legs and a nice butt, I don’t need a huge set of knockers.

InLos Angeles, I had a ton of girl friends that had, what my husband calls “bolt-ons,” or better known as fake tits.   I can say without hesitation, I love my friends, but every single set of those things just looked ridiculous.  Even if they were “well done” and “looked natural” as soon as I would hug them it was like pressing against a couple of hard cantaloupes.   I’ve never met a pair of squishy fake ones.   I never understood why any of these smart, attractive, successful women felt the need to augment their body.  I know their reasons, they were all straight forward.  They either felt like there boobs didn’t look like they did after child birth or they wanted to look more attractive in certain clothes or they felt that having boobs was a self confidence builder.   To each point, I still don’t understand.  The girl with the fake boobs after child birth looked like she was hiding two watermelons under her shirt, as for the better fitting clothes I always shop for clothes that fit me (not the other way around) and finally, I don’t see how a piece of silicone or saline infused bag can build confidence (if it could, why not just carry one in your purse and avoid going under the knife?)

I have been offered a pair of boobs.  I mean it’s hard not to live inLos Angelesfor 11 years and not have someone offer up some augmentative surgery.   I refused.  I tried to convince the “generous” donor to maybe hook me up with a new car or pay off my law school education but they just didn’t see the practicality of that.  (Obviously, by ‘practical’ they meant what they would find practical, not me.)   My husband would not be so bold (or should I say stupid) to request I go under the knife, instead he suggested one of those bras that is so padded you can go up three cup sizes.   Sure, when you put it on you look like you are hiding a football player’s should pads under your shirt, but dammit – you got BOOBIES!   I tried to sport that bra and I was really uncomfortable.  I feel like I look ridiculous and I can’t help but think that when I hug someone they are going to ask me why I am hiding what feels like two rolls of toilet paper in my bra.   I tried wearing it out in public once and I noticed exactly where all eyes were focused on and it really weirded me out.  I think I’ve gotten too used to people looking into my eyes….maybe that’s my issue?

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Masochist, Cheap or just down right not that smart… My Return to Bikram Yoga

After my last posting about going to Bikram Yoga I received one question repeatedly, namely, “Would I ever go back again?”   To most the answer might seem obvious and that obvious answer would be a resounding “Hell No!”   Well, that answer would come from a reasonable person.  I am apparently not reasonable.  I might be masochistic, cheap or just down right not that smart and in the case of returning to Bikram Yoga today I am guilty of a little from column A, B and C.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m one of the more frugal people around.  I do not like to spend money and I don’t like to waste money.  I am the person that showers at the gym so I can use the shampoo and conditioner provided rather than spring for the $5 bottle of Pantene at the local WalMart.  I steal all the free soap from hotels when I travel.   I keep the house at 59 degrees in the coldest part of the winter to save on heating costs.  I never buy coffee out, I always home brew to save the $4 a pop at Starbucks.  Yes, I am that cheap and to a point some might say is detrimental.    I revel in my cheapness and those who know me grow to love it…well, at least tolerate it.   With my frugal nature there was no way I was going to spend $30 for unlimited classes and not try to make every class I could to take advantage of the deal.   That is not even a point I would discuss.

Deciding to go back after an hour or so of total discomfort and lack of oxygen to the brain might be construed as a bit masochistic.  Why would I subject myself once again to the horrors of the Torture Chamber?   Well, I refused to admit defeat.  I am in shape and by the appearances of the people I took the class with I looked like I was the more physically fit, so I should be able to do it.  I thought that maybe I needed to get used to it.  I needed to work on my breathing and once I get into a groove I would actually enjoy it.  I spend up to 45 minutes in the 165 degree sauna at the gym and love it, so an hour and a half in 104 degree heat should be a breeze.   With a positive mindset, I laid my mat and towel out and was ready to conquer the class.

Armed with a positive attitude a new instructor positions himself at the front of the class and begins.   If the previous instructor went Tiger Blood on us this guy went Dragon Blood.  But he didn’t just go Dragon Blood on the class, he went Dragon Blood on me.   The best way I can describe my Bikram experience today is to refer to the boot camp scene from Full Metal Jacket.   I was trying my best to do the poses with my physical limitations – I have a shoulder that is partially frozen, limited range and a bulging disc that causes neuropathy in my hands.  I am going to physical therapy and was cleared to go to yoga, as long as I didn’t push it and listened to how my body was responding.  My drill instructor, or in this case my Bikram yoga instructor, refused to believe that I couldn’t raise my arm or that I was in pain trying to do some of the positions.  He decided to single me out and when I tried to explain that I physically couldn’t do certain things he proceeded to argue with me.  After 15 minutes of being made to feel like the resident yoga gimp, I picked up my mat, towel and water and walked out.

I know I won’t be going back, but I’m still pissed I spent the $30 bucks

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My First Time In The Torture Chamber

The other day I got an email from Living Social, that discount site that gives you 50% or more off on restaurants and various activities.   Most of the time the offer is for something in a town that is just a little too far away to even justify the cheap price of the deal, but the other day was different.   I got an offer for unlimited classes at Bikram Yoga in my town for two months for only $30!  The normal price for an unlimited month is $100 so this was a deal I could not refuse!   Without hesitation or investigation, I signed up and was so excited to be breaking out my yoga mat.

I had taken a few yoga classes in LA and always loved the Zen like meditative state I found myself in during a class.   The instructors were hypnotic telling us to breathe, close you eyes and honor your body.  It was about relaxation.  It was about connecting your chakras and becoming one with your third eye.  I never knew what any of that ever meant, but I always liked the way it made me feel.   With my Living Social deal in hand, I was ready to try my hand at Bikram yoga.

I didn’t really know very much about Bikram yoga except that they keep the room a little warm.   I looked up the place I was going to see what classes were offered and for directions.  While on the site, I noticed there was no beginner or advanced class, it was one size fits all.   Okay, I thought, this should be fine.  The site said to be there on time because they lock the doors once the class starts; easy enough, I’m punctual.   The site also instructed me to bring a mat, a towel to completely cover my mat, and a supply of water.    I could do that – this was going to be great!

I arrive early, sign in and ask if I can go in the room to lay out my mat.   Everyone was waiting outside the studio, which is why I was hesitant to walk in.  Once I got into the room I immediately knew why everyone waited outside.  The room was 104 degrees.   It was a little stuffy.  I lay my mat and towel down in the back of the room.  They want the newbies in the back so we can learn what is going on.   I was situated in the back corner where the wall heaters came together, so it was extra toasty.   When class began we were instructed that this was a 90 minute class and no one is allowed to leave the room early.   I immediately started to panic, what if I have to pee?  What if it’s just too hot?  Why are they locking me in here?   Didn’t I read on the website that they lock the doors once class begins?   Holy crap!  They are going to slow cook us!

I calmed myself down long enough to do our first breathing stretch.   In the nose, out the mouth, breathe in and breathe out.  I felt just like the Karate Kid.  Once our breathing stretch ended, we were told that for the remaining hour and twenty minutes we were not to breathe through our mouths.  We were only allowed to breathe through our noses.  This was a challenge for me because most of my deep breathing is done in the nose and out the mouth.  How was I going to breathe when it’s this hot and I am exercising?   We move through a series of postures and poses.  I am quickly learning that the level of heat isn’t the only thing that differentiates this style of yoga from what I am used to.  In all the other yoga classes I’ve taken the mantra from the instructor was “honor your body.”  In this class the teacher went Charlie Sheen on us telling us to tap our inner Bengal tiger.   Work through the pain, push yourself, this is your chance to change your life.

At this point I was beginning to feel that the only way this class was going to change my life is that I would go from being alive to being dead.  My heart was pounding but what was more disconcerting, was the fact that I could not breathe.  It wasn’t that I was out of breathe, it was that I felt like I wasn’t getting any oxygen into my lungs because the air was so hot and thick.    As I’m trying to Zen myself into a place where I can get oxygen into my blood cells, the instructor continues by saying that we all have come to the Torture Chamber and we need to work through the pain.  Really?   Where did this method come from… the offices of Josef Mengele?

I was at yoga and I was fearful for my life.  How did this happen?   I was out of air and was afraid to leave the room.  I didn’t know if the instructor would go tiger blood on me.  When it got to the point where I realized if I didn’t walk out of the room at that moment, I would have to be carried out by a stretcher,  I raised my hand and said I had to leave.  From the looks of the instructors and my fellow classmates you would have thought I just said I killed a baby seal.  They looked pissed, disgusted and disappointed.  Oh, well….it was hot enough in there; they can sweat all of that out.

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In My Wifedom I’m becoming an Ideal Candidate for What Not To Wear.

I am so glad it is getting warmer out.  We break 50 degrees and I’m sporting shorts.  One of the best things about living in SoCal was the opportunity to wear as little as possible for most of the year.  One of the shortfalls of living in the Midwest is  that wearing as little as possible for most of the year might get you frostbite.   Sure, wearing layer upon layer of thick clothing can cover up a lot of the fat you put on while sitting in front of the TV all winter because you are stuck inside but that layering is binding and confining.   I love nothing more to prance around in a tank top and booty shorts.  It’s comfy.  It’s cool.  It reminds me to step away from the donut.

When I was a digital marketing executive in Los Angeles I didn’t prance around the office in booty shorts.  I conformed to corporate policy with a never ending supply of business dresses.  I hated dressing for work.  There is the underwire bra that digs into the ribcage.  Then there is the requisite Spanx, also known as my generation’s version of our Grandma’s girdle.  I actually have a nickname for my pair and I call her Ester.  In the winter, when you need to don nylons or tights over the legs the material restricts and tends to get itchy.  All of these articles that are meant to suck, squeeze and lift my body into shape are very binding.   At the end of the day, I would come home and the first thing I would reach for was my comfy cozies.  My comfy cozies consisted of a tank and booty shorts or if it was chilly, a sweatshirt and sweatpants.   The feeling of pulling Ester from my skin and unhooking the bra was so liberating, occasionally I’d rejoice around the apartment singing “Born FREE, Free As The Wind Blows.”   Life was good until I had to suck it all in the next day back into a form tailored outfit.

Through the winter and spring I’ve started to notice that my dressing habits have started to resemble more of the Born Free philosophy.   I have been avoiding dressing up like the plague.   I think I have taken a lot of liberties in the casualness of my dress for a few reasons.  First, somewhere in my being I think I’m still a teenager even though I’m getting into my mid-30s.  Secondly, I think because I’m not too well endowed up top the bra option, is well, optional and besides, who do I know that would notice if I look good or not.   This train of thought, or this train of rationalization was working good for me until I took a good look at my ragamuffin self.   Here I am wearing a t-shirt with a stain, a pair of sweats with a rip and my Sunday socks (they are holy.)    I’m a mess.   I have become a poster child for that TV show “What Not To Wear.”   I went from not going out of the house in LA if I was wearing nothing less than True Religion Jeans or the latest from Bebe to a perpetual state of comfy cozies and constantly looking like I just rolled out of bed.

I need this to change.  I have taken the philosophical approach to this.  If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound?  If I walk around looking like a hot mess and no one I know see’s me, does it really count?   One thing is certain, I have to look in the mirror, which I did, and all I could say was OUCH.  I then thought about it, this is what my husband has to look at and I think two things:  first “sorry honey” and second, “I think you need to take me shopping.”  ;-)

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