Thursday, June 29, 2006

The No-Diet Diet, 7 Day Recap

Foods eaten - 6 bowls of cereal, 6 cups reduced fat milk, 1 Denny's pancake breakfast with real butter and syrup and 1 cup of coffee; 3 grilled chicken salads, 2 veggie wraps and 2 boxed lunches at company seminar; 2 cilantro burgers with salad, 2 Trader Joe's frozen Thai Green Curry, 1 Morton's Steakhouse NY steak and salad, 1 Bertolli's sausage and rigatoni and 1 trip to the Dim Sum place with friends; 1 tin of The Chocolate Factory bittersweet chocolate, 6 pcs of sugar-free butterscotch candy over the week and 1 chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bar to celebrate Sunday; - approximate calories: 1 million

Total workout - 7.5 hours of biking, 2 hours of dancing and 4 hours in a sweltering hot kitchen; - approximate calories burned: at least a half million

2.5 lbs lost in 1 week - priceless.

Okay, so I am not going to win any new diet revolution award but turns out eating the way your mother taught you along with exercise actually works. Who would have thought?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Duck Story

When I was a young girl, no, I did not drink ale but I sure as hell tore up a lot of paper.

Ever since I have been writing I have been faced with the same problem. I would write something down only to find two days later that I no longer liked it. Either I had changed my mind or time had given me a new perspective or what was of utmost importance two days ago was of no consequence today. As a result what I wrote often felt out of step with my recollection of things and having paper documentation of the way I felt/thought/saw life two days ago only conspired to mess with my perception of reality at the moment. For this reason I have never kept a diary or what most people would call a diary which is a chronological recounting of events and emotions.

However, I did write. I wrote fiction. I wrote short stories. I wrote chapters for novels. I wrote reflective pieces, essays and narratives. I did from time to time write down things that had happened to me during the day, the week, the month too but only rarely and only generally to tear out the pages later. Reality in retrospect has always been my reality.

I don't know whether this is normal or healthy or a form of escapism and I am not about to start a debate on the presence or absence of any absolute truth which by extension implies a presence or absence of an absolute reality thereby making reality in retrospect either a completely irrational or the most rational viewpoint to have depending on how you look at it. What I know is that the way I remember things is to me a more honest reflection of how I have lived my life than a factually correct account of events in motion.

Now I am not talking about deluding myself to what really happened. No, I don't mean that the facts change or should be changed to fit into the kind of memory I would like to have. What I mean is that events in isolation can take on a greater or lesser meaning and they have to be put in the right context for full understanding and that that context often does not appear until days later.

For example: Over this weekend a guy cut me off pretty badly on an expressway which made me really angry at the time. The next day I saw a duck fly overhead in a parking lot.

If I was keeping a diary in the most prevalent sense of the word I would most certainly have had to write about the guy on the expressway. And years ago I would have only to tear up the page two days later and write about the duck instead because by day two the anger would have subsided but the surprise at seeing a duck fly overhead in a grocery store parking lot would have remained and I would have come to realize that two, ten, or twenty years from now the duck memory would still make me laugh while the expressway story would be relegated to a non-event that barely deserved a mention.

Of course, I realize this is not true of everyone. There are people who are capable of being inspired/awed/surprised/enraged/enthralled/excited in a moment and recall the same emotions in retelling. Clearly I am not one of them. My mom says she never knows what to cook for me because by the next time she sees me I am sure to have a whole new set of likes. And today Dave didn't bat an eyelash when after he offered to come with me to look at the condo upgrade options I first said yes, then no, then maybe and then no and then maybe again. I left him at maybe at 7:30 looking completely unsurprised.

So, maybe, it's not so much that events need context as that I am inconsistent and I don't want constant reminders. Fortunately the eletronic media is a lot more forgiving than paper diaries which have long memories in the form of reproachful clumps of torn pages that stare back at you from inbetween unblemished ones, their presence mocking you with silent homage to forgotten events.

But the duck story stays.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Far from the Madding Crowd

Watching a man bump into a woman today as I made my way across a crowded street at lunch I realized for the umpteenth time just how far I had come from New York. The man apologized, the woman accepted the apology and no profanities were exchanged. It was politeness all around. And although I still love and miss New York and its general apathy and lack of consideration for anyone but the supreme self (or the extended self in the case of coupled individuals who actually like their other halves) I realized something else for the umpteenth time - that although I still missed New York I no longer missed my New York ex.

This isn’t necessarily cause and effect but there is correlation. Up until a few weeks ago I would not have been able to think of New York without thinking of T. But now my love for one has nothing to do with the other. T could be happy, sad, coupled, single, cheating, faithful. He could remember me or forget me altogether. It doesn't matter. There are no triggers that bring back memories. No tears. No "How could he do this to me?" that eventually gives way to "How could I let this happen to myself?" Not because the questions weren't important or because you have all the answers but because they have lost their edge.

What no one tells you about a bad breakup is that afterwards there comes a point where you don’t want anyone anymore. And it’s not like the way you didn’t want someone when you were younger and carefree or the way you might not want someone whom you didn’t love. It goes deeper. It’s something intangible etched in your psyche pushing you away from intimacy. It’s not fear. Not at surface. Maybe if you took a deeper look. But you don’t want to look because you have finally stopped riding the emotional wave and it’s a nice place to be for a change. And because a part of you wonders if the not wanting anyone new is not really a different spin on a familiar feeling, that of wanting someone old.

And then, some time later, you come to another bend in the road where you no longer want to start anything new but not because you still want someone old. You are done with that part. It’s over. And it makes you neither happy nor sad because it’s neither a happy nor a sad realization. It’s just there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In a New York State of Mind

And just when I thought New York had finally faded out of my consciousness and into the majestic mountains that surround me, it's back. The longing.

I wasn't born in NY, it is inarguably not the cleanest, safest or the nicest smelling place in the world and I am not even sure I liked it all the time while I was living there. -- I know I did not like the time I got gum stuck to the bottom of my pants in Times Square. I did not like the time some 6 ft 200 lb guy pushed me out of the way to grab the cab that I had hailed. And I definitely did not like it when after a really long day at work my train got stuck on the tracks due to some mysterious "mechanical problem" for the third time in one week. -- And yet I miss it. What is it about the city? It's like a guy you can't forget except the guy-you-can't-forget does eventually fade from your memory but the city lingers on.

I guess the thing about New York is that you have a sense of belonging that you don't have in other places. Most cities are just places to live while New York can feel like home. And as someone who will never visit her childhood home again because it no longer exists maybe what I really miss is a place to call home. What I have to remember, what I need to remember, is that it's people who make a home, not places.

Friday, June 09, 2006

What I Want Now

6 drawer Havana lingerie chest
I have stopped obsessing about buying a place only to start obsessing about decorating it. Never mind that the "place" is not ready to be decorated or will be for at least 6 more months. But thanks to a little thing called floor plan coupled with an imagination that, unlike reality, is not constrained by either a budget or lack of space I have found a way around that: the internet. The internet, that last frontier in vicarious living brought to you by rapid mouse clicks, my ally, my friend, ... and a surprisingly non-judgmental one at that who, unlike real friends, will never say things like "You can't buy that!" nor pipe up at the most unfortunate moment with an "You can't afford that" to ruin my pleasure. Okay, so yes, I don't need a roomful of new furniture but it's cheaper than therapy.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Home, Sweet Home

Every time I get upset or stressed I develop writer's block. I can post afterwards, a recap if you will, or during if sufficiently inebriated as I have already proven once, but generally when sane and sober I find it hard to talk or write about things that are bothering me. And then one day things turn around, the block lifts and it becomes an exercise in hyperbole to see how many words I can fit in without really giving away any details at all. It becomes a rhetoric, a summary, or a collection of "previously"s but from an altogether different vantage point than the one that has the most relevance of all, the vantage point of someone living the story rather than merely observing. Some day I may be able to write about things more honestly, for want of a better word, but for now recaps will have to do. If nothing, they do chronicle the before and after state of an event.

Yesterday’s post wasn’t really about yesterday. It was more of a commentary on the inner state of my mind over the last few weeks leading up to the moment of change. A turning point. Hopefully, one that will stick.

There isn't much I can or want to do right now about my relationship status but there is something I can do about my living situation. 1. Buy my first home .. and so, for the last few weeks I have been out house hunting. And yesterday I found one.

It’s very New York in the heart of the Pacific North West. A beautiful 1 bedroom with a den large enough to sleep two guests in a 5-story red brick building with residential units set above ground floor shops. I almost chickened out. And then, I didn’t. Today I signed the papers.

My apartment (I guess I should get used to calling it a condo) is a third floor unit overlooking the park. It's a preconstruction scheduled to close end of December. In the plan it has a real working fireplace with a brick surround and a white wood mantlepiece. The floors are a rich, dark walnut and the walls are finished in eggshell with white satin trims. The kitchen is a dream in state of the art stainless steel appliances and a full granite countertop with the same granite theme carried to the bath vanity with its his & her dual sinks below a full wall to ceiling mirror. And the best part? A view of the mountains from the charming little balcony off the master bedroom.

I still have some doubts. Only 1 bedroom. What if I have a house full of guests? And the wait? Will I even be here next year?

When I first moved here I told myself it was going to be temporary. Too many memories. I needed to be away from the east coast for a while. But now I am not so sure. I like the rugged simplicity of the North West. Life seems less complicated and although my troubles are by no means all far behind me it’s a start. A New York apartment set among the hills. Coffee and white water rafting, both within a short reach. A girl could do a lot worse. And as for guests, that’s why they invented the pull-out couch.


I am like that monkey on the pole. 1 ft up, 2 ft down. Or in my case, 1 step forward, 2 steps back. From restless and frustrated to confused but complacent and back via the scenic route.

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with your life? Chronically dissatisfied with your home, health, career, clothes, relationships, money all at the same time? Like nothing is going your way. Did you maybe tell yourself that you shouldn't resist? Give in and accept the status quo. Get a cat. Get used to being unhappy at your job. Stifle your sense of right and wrong.

Hide. Put on some weight. Put your head down. Give up the dream of owning your own home or of being successful in your career. After all, why not? Isn't that the lot of some 6 billion people in this world? What makes you think you deserve better?

Well, maybe it is that you just don't like giving up. Maybe what you do or do not deserve has nothing to do with it. You want what you want and nothing less will do. Maybe what makes you stand apart from some 6 billion people in this world is that no matter how many times life gets you down, sooner or later you get up... But first, you need to stop wallowing in self-pity.

Wishlist for next birthday (June 2007):

1. Buy my first home
2. Become more car-savvy
3. Find a job that excites me again
4. Lose a few pounds and get a makeover