I Am That Girl Now

Friday, December 30, 2005

My, it's been a while.

Hello, hello! I've survived the family holidays, am bracing for the New Year's party we're hosting tomorrow night, am desperately trying to convince my cat to stop pooping on the living room carpet, and seem to have graduated from therapy.

More below the cut.

My husband is a genius. I love him so very much. Like many younger children of volitile families, he has developed the talent of reading people and figuring out how they work. This is very, very useful when applied to my family. In this case, he came out with a blockbuster jaw-dropper of a revelation about my dad: that while my dad clearly loves me like crazy, he is completely baffled by me. The things that I'm good at, the things I'm interested in, and the way I see the world are all foreign to him, and when he interacts with me, I never react the way he expects. The parenting techniques that he grew up with worked in some ways on me, but backfired completely in others. He and my sister are a lot alike, and so he understands her a lot more and has an ease of interaction with her that I'd always thought meant favoritism or approval.

It's not that he doesn't love me. It's not that he doesn't approve of me. He just doesn't know what the fuck is going on, and he tries the best he can and never quite gets the results he wants, and he doesn't have the relentlessly introspective nature that I do (my Hub is of the opinion that the rest of my immediate family completely lacks this trait) and so he just muddles along the best he can.

I don't know why this hit me between the eyes so squarely, but really, it seems to have been another huge piece in reconstructing my concept of who I am and how my family works. I am a creative type whose personality didn't work with how my father wanted to raise me, and so I ended up as a type-A, trying desperately for perfection when perfection was defined as "being like Dad" in my mind. I kept trying and trying and trying to prove myself, but I was doing it in such a way that I was trying to push myself into being perfect at things that, if I was perfect with them, would crush my actual personality. I'm just not the type of person who can keep this up. And that's okay.

I think that my ancient frustration with not being understood goes back to the fact that Dad has just never been able to figure me out, and that if I am okay with Dad not understanding me and that he'll probably never understand me, if I manage to switch it in my head so that it's okay and that I am whole unto myself and don't need people to understand me in order for the world to keep spinning... then maybe I'll be okay with all of this. Maybe I won't short out when I get in arguments, maybe I won't panic when people get angry with me, maybe this will be okay.

Regarding food and exercise, a household decision has been reached that a) we're officially, no kidding now, getting the household back on healthy cooking with lots of veggies as of New Year's Day, and b) as of New Year's, I'm not going to be the only one in the house exercising, since my Hub has sworn to take up lifting weights while I jog. I am to remain calm and continue to work on not freaking out about food. This is going to be gentle, but implacable and constant. Hell, most of it we're already doing, this is just making it official.

We have re-invested in the exercise room, replacing the DVD player that shorted out a few weeks ago and upgrading our DVD selection. My sister bought me two very good cookbooks for Christmas. The annual re-working of the kitchen will occur the day after New Year's. New spices have been purchased. Salad has been made and consumed. Life is good.

Really, I ought to go back to my parents' place more often, because if we eat there for a few days we come back home craving vegetables like mad things. It's hilarious. Only my mother can somehow manage to make eating all the wrong foods into such an incredibly dull culinary experience. We got home and went directly to Trader Joe's to buy curry powder and tomatoes and lettuce and apples and balsamic vinegar. Desperate for taste, I tell you. DESPERATE.

In other news, my paternal grandmother has gone shockingly downhill since the last time I'd seen her. She's become one of those old ladies in a nursing home who is so hunched over in her wheelchair that her face is practically pressed against her stomach, unresponsive, drooling, and-- in the few moments I could get a response from her-- looking so, so sad. It broke my heart to see her like this. Granted, she hasn't known my name for ten years, and she's been getting more and more confused and addled as time went by, but she always responded. She was always polite, even not knowing who the hell any of these nice young people were or why they were talking to her or what they were talking about. Even on this last visit, one of her few responsive moments meant noticing my Hub and reaching out to shake his hand in greeting.

I miss her. I really, really do. I'm so sad that back when we still had her mind with us, I wasn't interested in the things I am now, and so I've never had a chance to talk quilting patterns or techniques with her, never had a chance to question her about the doll patterns that she put together (and which now seem to be lost-- I'm trying to recreate them based on measurements, but it's slow going), never had a chance to get any good stories from her on what my dad was like as a kid. My grandma is still here, but she's gone, and now I keep hearing that my other one is starting to lose her mental coherence, too. My grandfathers are both long dead. My Hub's grandparents are all dead. It has just occurred to me that my children are never going to know their great-grandparents at all, and when I grew up knowing several of mine, it just seems unimaginable that they'll be missing that whole generation.


Speaking of kids, we're not looking to get pregnant in 2006, but our current plan is to start trying in late 2007. We'll be as ready then as we'll ever be, I think, and that'll give me enough time to finish my stint on Zoloft and transition off of it for a good amount of time before getting pregnant. (Pregnant. OY.)

Well, anyway. Happy Holidays, folks-- Christmas to them that celebrate it, Hanukkah to the Tribe, Kwanzaa, the Solstice, upcoming Eid Al-Adha, and of course Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us-- and a happy, beautiful New Year.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hee heee

I have ended up on a new online forum and, since I have a gender-neutral handle, never announced my gender, and it's a forum that trends toward a male majority, they all assume I'm a guy. I'm actually kind of loathe to break my cover; I feel like I'm getting some kind of inside view of male interaction. The one problem is that when they refer to me as "him" or "he" or "that guy" it really takes a while for me to realize they're talking about my gender-neutral alter ego.

Truly, this amuses me far too much.

In other news, day 5 of the CCCP (ha!) continues. I've started recognizing the feeling in my face and neck when I'm getting tense about something, and so I'm trying to relax those muscles and breathe deep and use the soothing inner voice on myself before I respond to things. So far, so good. I think the only thing I've gone mental on this week was thin-crust, easy-on-the-cheese canadian bacon & olives pizza, and in retrospect that was probably because I haven't had thin-crust pizza in so long that I couldn't believe that this was all there was to it. D'oh.

I told my therapist about using my "soothing/encouraging the small child" voice on myself, and she was pleased. She said that it makes sense, since pain is pain and fear is fear and tension is tension, regardless of age, and a loving maternal inner voice calms and soothes the inner child. Hooray!

Also, here's an interesting piece of news: yet another "intuitive eating" story. Possibly I'm onto something here. Hrm.

Still walking on the treadmill in the mornings. I intend to get back to running, but right now I'm just walking fast. Sweating like a crazy thing, even in the horrid cold. (I still prefer it to the insane heat of the summer, since I at least have the hope of heating up while I'm exercising in the winter, whereas no hope at all of cooling down in the summer.) It's a very strange sort of back-to-basics approach for me. I will not stress over this. I'm just not going to.

My Hub and I have started, at last, to hash out the Christmas plans. Having waited until the last damn minute, we are left with the options of a) driving or b) flying. Flying is prohibitively expensive, so it looks like we're driving. I got us AAA membership so that we can get help in the event of our car breaking down, and we're trying to work out a flexible days-off plan with work so that we can adjust our plans in case of shit weather. My Hub is cranky at the idea of driving, but really, what can you do? We'll pack emergency gear and just deal with it. We've got six days, counting travel days, and to be perfectly frank I top out at dealing with my folks at about Day 3. Possibly Zoloft and therapy will improve this, but whatever.

Finances are weird, man. I'm trying to figure out how much to have taken out before taxes to deal with co-pays for doctor's visits, co-pays for prescriptions, and over-the-counter medication. Argh. On the up side, I've just figured out that because of all the pre-tax deductions I use, I save about $1,500/year in taxes. Whoa.

The affect of all this on the budget will have to be figured out. I'm not looking forward to that. Sigh. This is going to be a long weekend.

Oh, and re: poaching chicken breasts; there are recipes all over the net, but this is my version:

  • Place a skinless, boneless chicken breast in a pan.

  • Put enough poaching liquid* in the pan to cover the chicken breast.

  • Bring the poaching liquid* in the pan up to the boil over medium-high heat.

  • Simmer for two minutes.

  • Turn the heat off.

  • Let the chicken breast sit in the hot poaching liquid* for twenty minutes.

  • Before declaring yourself finished, check the center of the breast to make sure it's done through. Beware of pink spots.

  • Note that the flatter the chicken breast, the less likely you'll end up with a pink center.

    * Poaching liquid may be water, but for the sake of actually adding flavor-- which I highly recommend you do-- it's not really useful. Three parts: Start with a main liquid, selected to match what you're cooking-- chicken stock, in this case, would do nicely-- or water, in a pinch. Second, you'll need an acid, such as vinegar, wine, or lemon juice; add about 1/4 cup of acid per each quart of stock or water, or until you're able to definitely taste the acid in the liquid. Third, you need flavorings. Add herbs, spices, and vegetables to the poaching liquid. These flavors will be absorbed by the meat and are what poaching is all about. Good things to add include: basil, chives, coriander, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, star anise, tarragon, thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, onions, carrots. Use fresh herbs when possible and don’t worry about chopping things up. Just stick it in the pot.

    My advice is to do a few poached breasts and a) shred them, using the two-fork method, b) cut 'em into cubes, or c) cut 'em into strips. Freeze the suckers in as flat and sealed a layer as possible (a single layer on that spiffy Glad Press & Seal wrap is perfect, but a zip-top bag works, too), so that they can be swiftly defrosted, or if you're going to use them frozen, little will get stuck together. Then the options are pretty much endless. Stir-fry, potato dishes, salads, chicken pot-pie (we did one in record time last night, since I already had the potatoes and chicken cooked), to name a few.

    Potatoes, chopped and roasted and then frozen in freezer bags, are another huge time-saver. Onions cook quickly; potatoes do not. I can make a pretty quick dinner out of pre-cooked cubed potatoes, pre-cooked cubed chicken breasts, and onions-- served with a) cheese or b) a fried egg (for my Hub) on the top. Very filling.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Monday, December 05, 2005

    The Cool, Calm, Collected Plan, Day 3

    I would call it the CCC Plan, but that sounds oddly like something from the Soviet Union, and while I trend toward being a social democrat, communism is beyond me.


    I have a tendency for my brain to yammer in a panicky manner when I'm hungry, or when I'm eating, or after I've finished eating. I'm pretty sure that this harkens back to the ancient childhood/teenagerhood thang where tasty things = sneaking around and hiding it from my father. My adrenaline gets up, and my brain says, essentially, Quick! Before anyone notices! Get the cake! Grab a handful of raisins! Before it's too late! It's stupid, but there it is; it exists, and I just have to deal with it, since ignoring it doesn't make it go away.

    So now, I'm bringing in the soothing inner voice: It's all right. It's okay. You're fine. Shhhh, you're fine. It's pretty much a choice between using the soothing voice or spending the next few weeks being very tense. If I am tense, then I feel like this thing is being imposed upon me, and that I'll need to break free by eating vast amounts of chocolate. If I am calm, I won't need that. Ergo, I use the soothing voice. So far, so good.

    Saturday, I made hot & sour soup, because when we're sick (and lordy, we both still are) we need hot & sour soup. I have an excellent recipe from a light-Chinese cookbook, and this time through I subbed in a few ingredients since we didn't have the ones I usually use. (What the hell, as long as the basic flavoring ingredients are there, it'll work.) Sunday, I made some scallion pancakes to go with 'em-- just three of them, since we only had a single bunch of scallions-- and woke up my Hub and served him hot & sour soup and scallion pancakes, and he declared he was the happiest man in the world. Roasted some potatoes and packed them up so that we could have a pre-made side dish-- with both of us still sickly, the more pre-made stuff available, the less likely we'll order out. I've broken out the Kathleen Daelmans cookbooks again, and I'm slowly nosing through them. I poached a few chicken breasts last night, shredded them, and packed them up, too. The pre-made plan for tonight is that after dinner, I'll make the soup that'll be our lunch for the week. At some point, I'm thinking that it wouldn't be a bad idea to chop up and frizzle some chicken breasts, then pack them into the freezer, so that I would be able to pull out pre-cooked bits for dinners instead of having to face the thawing/trimming/chopping/cooking process... but really, that's an "if I get around to it" sort of thing. I will not push, I will not obsess. Must relax.

    The good news here is that I seem to be oozing back into getting-shit-done mode. I'm trying to stay aware of my headspace while I'm doing it, and if I start getting tense and weird, use the soothing inner voice on myself and relax. Caaaaaalm.

    The holiday season is upon us. I am attempting to remain calm about that, although right me and my Hub are in discussions about what to get ourselves as a Christmas present for the household; usually we buy a bunch of gifts, but frankly, this year we can't afford a) buying all that stuff and b) risking the usual "oh, how nice... um, why?" reaction. Also, we haven't felt very holiday-ish yet, since one or both of us has been sick since before Thanksgiving.


    Staying calm. Walking very fast on the treadmill in the mornings, which is about all the cardio I can do at the moment with my lungs still screwy. I woke up in the middle of the night with a cramp in my left quad, which hasn't happened in a long time; in retrospect, I suspect that a) I was lying on it funny, and b) when my Hub kicked all his covers off, they landed on me, and I was sweltering-- I remember I was really, really hot and sweaty when I woke up. Bleah. Must stretch more.

    Got back to eating breakfast yesterday, stuck with it today. It really does help. Must remember that.

    Caaaaalm. Must stay caaaaaaaaaaaaaalm.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.

    Saturday, December 03, 2005

    I have a plan.

    I think I'm up for it. I think I'm okay.

    This is the plan: 21 days, zero binges, zero grazing. No restrictions on food except that it must be what I honestly feel like eating, and I only get a single serving, and only when I'm actually hungry.

    Because really, I know how to eat. My tastes are, when I trust my feelings on the matter, pretty simple and unprocessed; low on grease, low on sugar. I just have to trust myself, and give myself a gentle guideline.

    I swear, I have done everything backwards. Maybe I'll get it right this time.

    Cut for length-- click to read more.