Thursday, March 28, 2013

enough of this. let's move forward, yes?

The Supreme Court is hearing a case on Prop 8/Defense of Marriage Act today. There's very little left for me to say that I haven't said before. I am 100% in support of gay marriage - it seems silly not to be. If your argument is religion, let me poke holes in it: the Bible says nothing about it, and marriage has evolved from being a religious institution into a legal one. That's why you have to go to the courthouse to get a marriage license - it's a legal proceeding, it's a contract. Contracts are spectacularly un-religious. And as such, it's a gross violation of civil rights to deny this to a significant portion of the population. It's wrong to deny legal benefits to someone just because they might love someone differently than you would.

And don't give me any of this "sanctity of marriage" bullshit, either. The sanctity of marriage is dead. The divorce rate is scarily high, people in Hollywood get married for five minutes in the name of publicity, and it's become a joke. A lot of people don't take it seriously anymore, it's just something you do. Kind of like college. Except some people don't get the right to take it for granted like the straight population does.

I'm tired of this argument, tired of going around in circles. If you don't believe in gay marriage, then don't marry someone of your same sex, the end. But if you're preaching sanctity of marriage then I damn well expect you to stay in your marriage until death do you part, because otherwise you're a raging hypocrite and I don't have time for you.

You're standing on the wrong side of history. Years from now, you will look as intolerant as the people that were opposed to interracial marriage. I hope you know that.

PS This song has been making the rounds. I suggest you listen to it, regardless of what "side" you're on. It's great.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy Purrrthday!

Because I'm a terrible cat mama, I totally missed my precious kitty's 5th birthday last week. But I made it up to her by getting her a brand new collar (hers was getting snagged and ratty) and some kitty treats. I also made her commemorate (commeowmorate?) the occasion in style.

She swears she's not strung out on catnip.

It's going to be all sorts of fivesies this year... five years that I've been at my job, five years that I've been back living in this town, five years since I adopted Miss Kitty... and five years since I've started this blog. And, um, five times two, the number of years since I've graduated high school, which makes me feel super old. Oy. Let's not focus on that.

Here's the thing about the number five... it's technically an odd number, but in so many ways, it feels like a nice even one. I've never understood that, but there you have it.

Also, Dr Seuss was fill of crap. Cats hate hats.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Feel Like the Star of a Romantic Comedy

This post is part of the Scintilla Project, a two-week storytelling extravaganza that encourages bloggers to share stories based on a shared set of prompts. Click the link to visit the site and find out more, or to sign up! Visit the blogroll to find other blogs that are participating and to read their stories, too.

Prompt: Tell a story about something interesting that happened to you, but tell it in the form of an instruction manual. (Step 1, Step 2, etc.)

1. Arrive at the airport without much extra time to spare, because it's a tiny regional airport and you've done this before.

2. Get held up in security because you have an unidentifiable block in your luggage, which apparently could be C-4 but is actually a sticky note cube.

3. Start to anxiously check your watch because your flight has already started boarding. Regret being so blasé about your schedule.

4. Get the all-clear from the TSA agent and high-tail it to your gate, which for such a small airport, seems awfully far away.

5. Be the last person on the plane. Be relieved that the gate attendant waited for you, but feel like an asshole, even though you were only a couple minutes behind everyone else.

6. Find your seat and try to pretend that the other passengers aren't watching you and/or possibly giving you the stink-eye. Make sure to be really flustered and breathless. This is important.

7. Be pleasantly surprised to to find that you've been seated next to an attractive boy who appears to be in your age bracket.

8. Make small talk, asking questions that serve your interests and possibly provide answers as to age, occupation, and relationship status.

9. Determine that he's slightly younger than you, but not too young to be a deal-breaker. Do math. He's still in college but he was deployed for a while; confirm a 2-3 year gap.

10. As the plane taxis to the gate, work up the nerve to state that you're going to grab some lunch during your layover, and ask if he'd like to join you.

11. Be breezy! Be breezier than you've ever been in your life.

12. Try not to look too giddy when he says yes.

13. Have lunch in a tucked away booth in an airport restaurant. His beer lands on your tab, so you pay for it with a coy smile.

14. As the bills are being settled, rip off your gate-check tag and write your phone number on it. Slide it across the table and tell him to give you a call if he wants to hang out when you're both back from your respective trips.

15. Don't forget the goodbye hug when you part ways.

16. When you get to your new gate, text your friends because OMG WHO IS THIS SAUVE VIXEN THAT YOU HAVE BECOME?

17. Complain about hotels charging money for wireless Internet, but spring for it anyway.

18. Wait a day or so, then send him a friend request on facebook. Feel optimistic when he accepts.

19. Don't forget to check your email, too. Discover that you have received a message from a very promising match who would like to get to know you. Decide online dating might not be so bad after all.

20. Wait three weeks to respond because you want to write the perfect response, which you can't possibly do in a hotel room. Fret over this until you realize it's been three weeks and you need to respond with something (anything!) soon before you lose this guy's interest.

21. Exchange several messages. Arrange a date. Send cutesy text messages that build up hope and expectation.

22. Go on date. Continue to date this boy a long long time because he is awesome. Don't be bothered by the fact that the airport boy never called, because you still got a great story out of it, and besides, you found someone way better. You win!

23. Never get around to posting this story and dig it up over a year later and use it for a storytelling project.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

This post is part of the Scintilla Project, a two-week storytelling extravaganza that encourages bloggers to share stories based on a shared set of prompts. Click the link to visit the site and find out more, or to sign up! Visit the blogroll to find other blogs that are participating and to read their stories, too.

Prompt: What's the biggest lie you've ever told? Why? Would you tell the truth now, if you could?

"I'm okay."

Except I wasn't okay. There was nothing about me that felt okay. It was hard to breathe with the weight of the world crushing me, resting on my chest. I felt out of my place in my own skin. Getting out of bed was a monumental task - not because I was tired or lazy, but because all those hours of consciousness seemed overwhelming, and frankly, unappealing.

"I'm okay."

Except I wasn't okay. I had no reason to be this low. I was a sophomore in college, I'd been accepted into a competitive, limited-enrollment graphic design program at a university that I'd fallen head over heels in love with. I was making the best friends I'd ever had. I had the independence I'd always longed for.

"I'm okay."

I didn't want to ask for help - I was fine, there was nothing really wrong with me, people would think I was crazy (maybe I was crazy?), they'd tell me to get over it. I was supposed to be stronger than this. I wasn't supposed to be drowning inside my own mind. Was it normal to feel this suffocated? Why was it so hard to just be? It's normal to spend all your free time curled up in your bed, right? To wade through dark thoughts and become a completely blank shell of a person. It was normal for the straight-A student to stop caring, to skip classes, to half-ass projects, wasn't it? It's just college. College does this.

"I'm okay."

Leave me alone, I don't want to be awake right now. I can't deal with this consciousness, with this unbearable pressure of being. It's too hard. Everything hurts. Living hurts. Stop trying to help me, I don't want help. I just want to bury myself in my cocoon and let the world pass me over. I'll come out eventually.

I'm not okay.

They gave me mild antidepressants when I was 14. They told me they would help settle my thoughts, help with my anxiety-fueled insomnia, but I knew how to read labels. I didn't tell anyone. I knew it wasn't something that you wanted anyone else to know - it would have branded me even more of a weirdo than I already was. I lived in denial for several years, but I reached a point where I couldn't pretend anymore, and I couldn't lie to myself anymore.

When I went in for my annual physical that year, I hesitatingly, tearfully tried to find the words to say that I needed a life raft. I called it an upgrade to "big girl pills" but, really, it's hard to joke about anti-depressants, though lord knows I've tried. I was on the real deal now. My physician explained that they would even out my brain chemistry so that it would match that of a "normal" person. They wouldn't make me "happy" - they weren't that kind of drug. But they would give me a fighting shot at functioning like a human again.

I still take them. I suspect I always will. They're not happy pills or mood elevators. They're the brain version of, say, cholesterol medicine. They keep me balanced. I still have bouts of low-ness, but they're shorter and less overwhelmingly threatening than they used to be. They always pass. I just have to hold on.

Am I always okay now? No, not always. But at least now I can admit when I'm not. And when I tell myself that things will turn out okay, I know I'm telling the truth.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wild Child (More Like Mild Child)

This post is part of the Scintilla Project, a two-week storytelling extravaganza that encourages bloggers to share stories based on a shared set of prompts. Click the link to visit the site and find out more, or to sign up! Visit the blogroll to find other blogs that are participating and to read their stories, too.

Prompt: Tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally able to do so.

I was always... how shall we put this... a bit of a goody-goody. I followed the rules and spent my formative years avoiding anything that would get me in trouble. I was mortified when I got my first speeding ticket because it meant a black mark on my record, and, worse, it meant I had to tell my dad. To this day, I'm convinced that the best parenting technique is not to get mad and yell - oh, no. It's to get quiet and express disappointment.

That said, I never got drunk before I was 21. I didn't even get drunk when I turned 21, in most part due to the fact that I was one of the first in my friend circle to do so, which meant I had no one to go do a ridiculous amount of shots with. For which my liver and dignity will be forever grateful, I'm sure. I also don't even remember the first time I got intoxicated enough to be considered "drunk" - not because it was such a hazy drunken night of shenanigans that it all got blacked out, but because it was probably boring and uneventful and I was probably in bed by eleven. Wait, no. I think I'm confusing my college self with my current self. LOL, right?

I don't have a pile of drinking stories - my best story is actually the one where I helped my friend home on her 21st birthday. That one, I think, we'll still be entertaining ourselves with when we're little old ladies.

I can remember exactly two instances where I consumed alcohol before the age of 21, and in both cases, I was well within the bounds of the law.

When I was 17, I took a class trip to Spain. The legal drinking age over there is 16 (or at least it was at the time), a fact that most of my classmates took advantage of in the evenings when we weren't under the watchful eyes of the parent chaperones. Despite it being legal in that place at that time, I still felt a tremendous amount of guilt at the idea of it. Admittedly, because I had never had it, the mere thought of it made me uneasy, because I had no idea what to expect.

However, one of the last nights we were there, I reluctantly let myself be led into a bar. I drank half a glass of sangria that night (I couldn't even bring myself to finish it, so strong was my anxiety over my perceived rule-breaking) - enough to earn me some cool points with my peers. One even made a comment about the fact that she never expected to see me drinking any sort of booze. I think she was proud.

The second time was over summer vacation when I was 20 - mere months from turning 21 anyway. I was staying at my mom's that particular night and she had gotten home late from work, and needed to pick up some groceries. Night owls that we were, we hopped in the car and headed to the nearby 24-hour grocery store. I'm not sure how it came up, but we got a wild hair to pick up some wine coolers.

You know the kind.

I was strangely excited by this tiny act of rebellion, even though it wasn't really a rebellious act at all because I was with my mother.

We went to check out and the cashier refused to ring them up - not because I was present and technically a minor, but because Iowa law prohibits the sale of alcohol after 2am and we had just barely missed the deadline. (This is also why all the bars close at 2, but of course I didn't know that yet. Iowa bars are also 21+ only.) It was oddly funny because, aside from the fact that it was probably 2:05 or something ridiculously close to it, for all of my mother's years of legality, she had been unaware of this rule. So I learned something very useful that night about our state's liquor laws. Life lessons, guys.

So now we were on a mission, and we went back the next night (at a more respectable hour of 8pm) and picked up a pack or two, and I sat at the kitchen counter with my laptop, sipping a basically-nothing proof wine cooler. I might be completely wrong here, but I think it's legal to drink underage if you're with your parent/guardian. Maybe I just made that up. At any rate, I was in my mom's kitchen, and I didn't even have the slightest of buzzes.

So, that's my super exciting tale of juvenile delinquency. Stunningly lame, I know. And I've kind of come full circle on the whole thing, because I barely drink anymore at all. It's not worth feeling crappy over, and the excitement is long gone. I'll have a girly cocktail or a hard cider or a glass of wine from time to time, but really, who needs the calories?

Monday, March 18, 2013

I Can't.

I was going to start with my Scintilla Project posts today, but I can't ignore the news out of Ohio, and the way the media is handling it. Quite frankly, with each news event that unfolds, I grow to detest the media more and more. Journalism ain't what it used to be, folks, and I'm going to blame the Internet. Anxious for the scoop or the fresh angle, the concept of responsible reporting has gone out the window.

But we're not here to talk about "responsible reporting" - no, that's something else. This has more to do with culture as a whole, that in this case, the media was just reflecting. And the image wasn't pretty.

I was going to let it slide. Guys, I've been trying SO HARD not to stir things up on facebook recently. It's pained me to hit the little red X in the upper corner instead of the share button, so many times over the last couple months. I've held my tongue (well, ok - I've held my mouse clicker finger), and have opted for peace instead of discussion, I've avoided conflict, I've posted cute and funny things instead, I've let a lot of things go.

But this time, I can't.

There's nothing new to be said about rape - I think we can all agree that it's horrifying and wrong. If you don't think it's horrifying and wrong, then GTFO, because you are a sick human being and I don't want you around these parts. It's one of the worst things that humans can do to each other - it's not about sex. It's about violence and control and vulnerability and exploitation. It's violating not just another person's body, but violating their very soul, down to their core.

It's no secret that CNN is catching a lot of (deserved) flak for sympathizing over the two teenage boys convicted of sexual assault. Those poor rapists, their once-promising futures, their football careers... what. the. hell. A news anchor lamented about how they'll have to carry around the label of sexual offender for the rest of their lives. Yes, and rightfully so - because they are sex offenders. To be so callous and cold about it - to not only violate an unconscious girl but to take (and post!) pictures and video and laugh about it to their friends. I suppose we can feel sorry for them - it's a damn shame they didn't realize that this was wrong, that they didn't know better. But to hell with their futures. They brought this on themselves and they need to learn that there are consequences to their actions. The fact that they cried when receiving their verdict might mean that there's some hope for them, that they realized the consequences to their actions. It also might mean that they were sad about their football careers. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not sure I can. I read the text messages that were used in the case. These boys - and mere boys they are, indeed - were heartless.

This Gawker article laid into CNN, bashing them for all but fawning over these two boys, concerned about how this will affect them, blah blah fucking blah. My favorite quote is thus:
"For readers interested in learning more about how not to be labeled as registered sex offenders, a good first step is not to rape unconscious women, no matter how good your grades are... Your ability to perform calculus or play football is generally not taken into consideration in a court of law."

Let's get away from this for a quick minute and on to the bigger thing that is vexing me. It's that, no matter what seems to happen, the victim gets blamed. She shouldn't have been wearing this, she shouldn't have said that, she shouldn't have had anything to drink, how dare she leave her house while being female, she should have known better, she was just asking for it.

In this particular case, there's been a lot of emphasis on how this girl had been drinking, and you know what? I don't want to hear a WORD about how she was drunk. So were they; so were a lot of their peers. There was a whole extravaganza of underage drinking going on, they all made some very poor choices that night. She didn't deserve to be sexually violated, and she sure as hell doesn't deserve to be called a slut.

Why? Why do we do this? Why do we blame the victim? That's the part that frustrates me. I've been lucky; I've never been assaulted, I've never been in a situation where I was truly afraid. I'm one of the most paranoid people I know, simply due to an overactive imagination, and while I live in probably the safest area I know of, I still get a little uneasy sometimes when I'm out by myself and it's dark. This isn't right. But I know the mentality of society, and no matter what would happen, if something were to happen, it would get twisted around to be my own damn fault. Simply for being.

Which reminded me of an analogy that circulated the Internet a while ago and I'm reposting it because it's relevant:

You see how that line of reasoning is bogus, right? The above conversation never happens, because it would be ridiculous. We don't blame people for getting robbed, murdered, abducted, or whatever litany of horrible things could happen to a person. So why do we blame rape victims? That's a legitimate question, and I don't think anyone has an answer for it.

Similarly, there's an ongoing debate about the mentality of "teaching men not to rape versus teaching women not to get raped" and I've heard a lot of varying opinions. I don't have an answer. It sounds obvious, but it's not. Obviously, not all men are rapists, far from it, but there is a degree of education that needs to be involved. One of the articles I read today emphasized that instead of keeping the mentality of "no means no" we need to shift our thinking to teach that "the absence of a no doesn't mean yes - only a yes means yes." An enthusiastic yes, at that. Adolescents and teenagers need to be taught (and understand) the importance of consent and what that means. Boys need to learn to respect girls, so that they'll grow into men who will respect women.

A friend of mine posted this to my facebook page, I'd seen it before, but I'd forgotten about it until now. I mean, yeah.

There are a lot of good men out there - more than the bad ones. I don't mean to imply that there aren't. I wish the men standing up against rape and sexual violence were more visible - I know they're out there. Hell, I wish we'd all stand up. You know the worst part about all of this? A scary-high percentage of the time, it's women blaming other women. Who is this helping? Why do women turn on each other like this? Is it self-righteousness? What is it? I don't get it. I really don't. We're in this together, ladies. Stop being bitches and start being human.

To quote Tina Fey (because there is a Mean Girls quote for absolutely every situation):
You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores.
It's just... I don't know. I can't. I can't think coherently about this, I absolutely CANNOT understand how this still happens, how it's still condoned, how excuses get made on the people committing these acts. I'm worried about our culture. I'm worried about what kids are learning, what they are being taught, what kind of an example is being set. There is too much silence, not enough conversation. It's sad that an argument could be made, earnestly, legitimately, that these kids simply didn't know better. I'm not sure if the boys actually understood the sheer gravity of what they were doing, that it was wrong, and why.

One last quote, from a blogger who I feel really nailed it on the head. (The bolded part is my own emphasis). Her whole post is here.

I do feel sorry for these boys. And not only because they will be put in cages that will not make them any better. I also feel sorry that two 16-year-olds are capable of the things these boys have been found guilty of doing. That makes me deeply, deeply sad. ​That we have created a world in which, at just 16 years old, and even younger, boys can already hate girls this much. That they can already dehumanize and degrade them. That misogyny is so insidious and so effective as to make 16-year-old boys incapable of respecting this girl, of seeing her as a human being with the right to make her own choices, even when drunk, and the right to remain unviolated, even when passed out. I am sorry for these boys that, at 16, some of their humanity is already gone. The cruelty of kids is not new, and I guess it should not shock me, but this specifically gendered cruelty, at such extreme levels and at such a young age, is shocking to me. And I do feel very sorry for these boys.
We also need to teach society at large to remember what it means to take responsibility for your actions, to speak up when something is going down, because a lot of times when it comes down to it, if you don't act, no one will. There's a psychological phenomenon referred to as the bystander effect, which basically means that if you're being victimized (raped, robbed, stabbed, whatever), the more people that are around, the less likely it is that anyone will help you. It's called "diffusion of responsibility" and it basically has been shown that people always assume that "someone else" is doing something. So no one does.

I know this post is fragmented and maybe it doesn't make sense and probably nobody is reading it all the way through and that's okay. I just need to get it out of my head. I need to feel like maybe by adding my voice to the conversation, maybe eventually a crack will form and we can tear down the metaphorical wall. Little by little, I suppose, is the only way change is ever made, but I'm afraid it never will. Our culture is rapidly devolving to the basest of human instincts - greed, violence, ignorance. It's there in every political conversation, in every social movement, in every news story. It's getting worse and worse.

I wish things like this didn't happen. I wish I wasn't so tormented by them when they do. I wish I didn't have to internalize it, I wish I didn't need to make so much noise sometimes.

I wish I could just let it go.

But I can't.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

PAWLIDAY CARD TIME, St. Catty's Edition

Before I dive into two weeks (ish) of prompt-inspired posts, there's something very important I need to share with you first.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adventures in Storytelling

I signed up to do the Scintilla Project this year. Maybe you've heard of it. It's a two-week storytelling blitz run by three lovely bloggers who provide a pair of prompts every day.

Given how much my writing has stagnated lately (I'm averaging 3 posts per month so far this year), I decided I could use a kick in the pants. I've always been hesitant to use blog prompts, but this is sorta different. It's short-term, and it's more of a community project than me relying on someone else's ideas to churn out some content. I had started to build a fantastic writing habit back in January, but as soon as that class ended, I was suddenly very, very stuck. More stuck than I was before I'd started. I think maybe I caved to my own self-doubts and fears and instead of writing something just to get me by, I wrote... nothing. My biggest problem is just getting started. The getting started part is my kryptonite.

My other problem is that during that class, I saw a glimmer of potential in myself, I convinced myself that if I worked hard and kept at it, I could actually be a really good writer. You might think that's a good thing, but it's not. Because now I'm hung up on wanting everything to be perfect and polished, which, let's face it, it never has been, but I think I unconsciously raised my expectations of myself, and I'm too busy fretting about not meeting my own standards that I'm not doing anything. Not trying is failure by default. I think I saw a quote that said something like that, probably on Pinterest.

So: here we are. Lots of fretting and ignoring my blog and my notebooks and not doing any writing at all and spending most of my time thinking about how I'm not writing but not rally moving much beyond that.

But I can't just not write. It's wired in to me. About halfway through my last dream of the night last night, I started narrating the dream as if I was writing it. If I was more coherent in the morning, I probably could have had the start of a story on my hands. (The annoying thing is that I actually do this somewhat frequently, and every time, I get irritated at the thought of having to write it all out "again" once I wake up, because I already did that, geez. Except I didn't, because I was ASLEEP, and Dream-Kelly was the one "writing" it. It's kind of like when you dream that you're getting ready in the morning and then you wake up and you realize that you were dreaming and now you have to get up and shower for real this time and do it all over again. That happened to me a lot in high school. It was awful.)

Back to my point: I need to get over whatever it is that's making me Not Write, and Start Writing. Which is why the timing of this is pretty perfect, and when Dominique poked all of us BiSCuits to sign up, I hopped aboard.

Of course, I'm two days behind at this point, but the party don't start til I walk in. Just kidding. The party started yesterday and just like in real life, I'm the asshole who is late.

Part of the problem, though, is that I'm struggling with the prompts. I don't really feel like I have any good stories that match the prompts, and not because I'm all writer-blocked, either. My life is just utterly devoid of stories for those specific scenarios. Even so - I managed to answer almost all of the prompts for TPOW, so if I could dig deep for those, I can do it again, right? I hope so, or I'll turn into the asshole who signed up but didn't participate.

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day. That's another quote that I heard somewhere once. Except I'm pretty sure I heard it long before Pinterest, back when I had to walk uphill both ways to wherever I was going, barefoot, in the snow. (There's always snow when walking up a two-sided uphill hill).

We'll see what happens, I guess.

Wanna play? Sign up here! See who all is participating here! I'm listed last because I'm cool and start my blog name with punctuation! Whee! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Smoothie That's Changing My Life

Guys, I’m not even sure I’m hyperbolizing on that one.

Quick backstory: I’m in a place where I hate my body. Again. Still. Whatever. I lost 32 pounds on Weight Watchers back in 2011 and kind of fell off the bandwagon around the holiday season and then gained it all back over the course of 2012. I’m back to my original weight. I feel lumpy and squishy and unattractive and fat. Last spring, I started running, a little bit, with my end goal to run a 5K. In October, I ran a (slow) 32 minutes and felt incredibly triumphant, but then it got cold and life and etc and so I turned to indoor circuit training, which, at first, I saw some success with (I was losing inches on my arms and legs each month!) but then, again, those damn holidays and traveling and life and etc and I’ve fallen out of the habit again. I got incredibly frustrated with myself and so irrationally angry at my face whenever I looked in the mirror, like, HI THERE CHIN FAT, WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO BE THERE?

I was feeling really defeated, and I knew I needed to do something, but I was overwhelmed. I don’t know how to eat healthy – while still eating affordably, with little time to cook, with guaranteed leftovers for three days. I don’t know how to implement a workout routine because I DON’T KNOW what to do. I can do Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, sometimes, although the last time I was ready to cry by the time I got to the last ab part, and I can pin all the arm exercises and muffin-top exercises in the world to a board that I don’t look at, but… there’s so much out there, I know it’s not hard, I just didn’t know how to start.

So I just… did. After a particularly self-loathing Sunday a couple weeks ago, I decided I was going to work out every day that week. (I know, I know. Never do this.) On the days where I couldn’t make it to my fitness center, I’d head on over to the BF’s apartment and use his elliptical machine. One night I even made up a routine of crunches and calf exercises and little things like that and kept improvising until it had been about an hour. I had three workouts on the books by that Wednesday night, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. On Thursday, I took the night off and decided to cook something healthy and give my body a day of rest. 

I’d signed up for this weekly health session wellness program whatever something at work, and the lady with a British-esque accent chirped at us about how important whole grains and beans and plants were for you (the consensus at lunch on Monday with my coworkers was that she was trying to push us all to a vegan or plant-based diet, which I am not inherently opposed to, but… I was hoping for tips to incrementally change my habits, not to fling myself into an entire new lifestyle. Big change like that is scary and all I think about are the things I can no longer eat, which always results in FAILURE.) But it stuck with me, and I made a healthy pasta-chicken-chickpea dish last week* which, frankly, if I make again, I’m going to skip the chicken. It added unnecessary prep time AND the olive oil in my skillet started kicking off so much smoke that my alarm went off, which was… awkward. That’s never happened to me while cooking before. Plus, when I actually went to eat it,  I found that I didn’t even WANT the chicken with it, that the pasta was enough. I was pleased with myself. Look at me, being healthy!

*I will post the recipe, someday. Swearsies.

Anyway, as one would expect, I missed the few days (WEEKENDS ARE TERRIBLE FOR WORKOUT ROUTINES BY THE WAY), then got really frustrated with myself, then ended up at a restaurant where I was consumed with All The Guilt from the accumulation of All The Bad Foods I’d eaten. But! Lo! The heavens parted and pushed me to Nicole’s blog where I encountered her post for the Ultimate Green Smoothie.

Now, Nicole is my guru for many things, but I get kind of intimidated when she posts about health and fitness because some of the ingredients are all fancy and expensive-sounding and I don’t really know quite what they are or what to do with them without very specific instructions. I mean, I only learned about six months ago how to pronounce “quinoa” – or what it even was. (PS, it’s “KEEN-wah”, should you be as clueless as I was. Though the BF and I have this habit-slash-game of purposely mispronouncing things while we’re wandering through the grocery store. I am the best mispronouncer ever. QUINN-OH-AH! AH-KYE! CHIP-AUGHT-ELL! [quinoa, acai, chipotle, respectively. I have another really good one too but I can’t remember it offhand.] It’s to the point now where I actually have to stop and think about the proper pronunciation so I don’t make an ass of myself in front of someone who is NOT my BF.

But I decided to try it anyway, because it seemed interesting, and more importantly, it seemed doable. The ingredients were things that I could find or already had. In a dazzling coincidence, I even had some spinach left over from that pasta dish (only the second time in my life, I might add, that I’ve had spinach in my house, and the first time it was of the not-frozen variety.) I skimmed the list and decided that all I really needed to buy was almond milk (which I’d been wanting to try anyway, since Actual Milk makes me pray for the sweet release of death) and some more fruit, because I had pretty much eaten through my entire supply. I even had little packets of stevia already from the last time I made a smoothie, which was probably sometime at the end of last summer. Time flies, right? 

I took my weary little self to Target after work because I had to buy cat food and shampoo (my life, it is glamorous, yes?) and figured I’d see what groceries they had available to me, since I am not fortunate enough to have a Super Target in my town. (I know, right? I don’t know why I don’t move, either.) I picked up a bag of frozen fruit that contained several of my favorites – peaches and mangoes (I have an unhealthy obsession with peaches and mangoes… though, technically, they’re fruit, so maybe it’s a HEALTHY obsession? Yeah? SEE WHAT I DID THERE?), bananas, pineapple. I snagged a carton of almond milk. My smoothie checklist was complete.

But something else happened while I was wandering. I BOUGHT OTHER HEALTHY STUFF.

Channeling the spirit of Health Lady and Nicole, I wandered through our feeble food section and was kind of surprised at what happened next. I read labels. I said no to things. I bought things that included the words “whole grain” and with teensy ingredient lists. I found myself wondering who this strange person was that was pushing my shopping cart.

I’m pretty psyched by the time I get home. (So excited that my tenses throughout this post are completely inconsistent, oops.) I happily retrieve my blender from its hibernation and surround myself with all of the ingredients. Layer by layer, I follow Nicole’s formula. I watched as it blended together to form an incredibly green substance that, well, honestly, looked a little sketchy. I told myself to trust Nicole, she has never led me astray before. But what if it tastes all… green? My brain wailed. We don’t want to drink a salad! Ew! It’s going to be gross. And then look at all the ingredients you just wasted. I shushed it (the brain, not the blender, though that thing is horrifically loud) and opened the lid and peered over the top. It smelled okay. I stuck a fingertip in and licked it off. To my utmost surprise, it tasted nothing like green. It tasted like fruit. I mean, not solely like fruit, but mostly like fruit.

It was delicious.

I dumped as much of it as I could into my cup and plopped down on the kitchen floor and sipped happily through my straw. It was incredibly unappealing-looking, but damn, it was good. I immediately tweeted and Instagrammed it because those are apparently things I do now, and I vowed never to doubt Nicole again.

But that’s not the life-changing part, no. I mean, other than the fact that I got over a fear I didn’t know I had of drinking green things.

I made some food that would have made the Health Lady proud, and then instead of totally blowing my evening, I sat down on my couch (not my bed, mind you – otherwise known as Nap Time) with a book and read for a couple hours. I meant to quit after my self-imposed time limit went off, but… you know. BOOKS. READING. So I finally closed the book around eleven and started bustling around my apartment to get ready for bed. I did some inadvertent cleaning while I searched for my stamps (I KNOW I HAVE THEM!) and then went to bed, feeling pretty good about myself and life in general… which was a far cry from a few nights ago, when I was so frustrated at myself that I burst into tears.

The next day, I packed myself a healthy lunch. I was super productive at work, if you don’t count my lunchtime Pinterest binge. I counted the hours until I could go home and do some form of exercization and, well, go to the grocery store and buy more spinach (I used up what little bit I had) to MAKE ANOTHER SMOOTHIE. I mean, I can always make a “regular” smoothie since I usually have the other stuff, but somehow, it just doesn’t feel right.

The thing is, though? I feel good. I’m actually enjoying this healthy food, and instead of being completely underwhelmed and bored by what’s left after I cut out what I know is bad for me, I’m kind of excited to try new things. And I’m trying really hard to focus on it one meal or one day at a time. If I make healthy choices today, then tomorrow it will be easier, and so on, and so forth, until it’s a habit. The Health Lady told us that your tastebuds re-grow about every 2-3 weeks, so if you want to cut down on something (her example was cheese), try to cut it for two weeks. Your new tastebuds will have never known the glory of cheese, so they’ll be somewhat unimpressed when you do eat it again, and so you’ll want less of it. Or something. She might have been lying.

But it’s been a few weeks since then and I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m making baby steps. My current project is to not mindlessly munch on office food during the down times during the day, and only eat the things I bring with me. Today is Day 2 of that, and I’ve done pretty well. I’m a little more motivated, and I feel less like OMG I CAN’T EAT ANYTHING GOOD EVER AGAIN like I did when I was on Weight Watchers. I’m attempting to build new habits, and it’s not easy, but if I can also learn to not be too hard on myself, I might have a shot at getting where I want to be.

PS - in case you missed the link in that mass of text, the recipe is here. For my version, I use almond milk, spinach, a combination of frozen peaches/mangoes/pineapples/bananas from Target, and a packet of stevia for sweetener. Sometimes I get fancy and add some of the booster things in too.