Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Valentine’s Day 2010

Today the world (okay, maybe just the U.S.) celebrates romantic love, the color red, chocolate, and presents.  Even though it feels like a Hallmark Holiday, it’s actually a very old celebration dating to Roman times (when St. Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14 for secretly marrying couples against the emperor’s ban on marriages).

For the last month, escalating last week, we’ve been bombarded by ads from jewelry store and florists, Hallmark and candy companies.  Stores are packed with stuffed animals holding little red “I Love You” hearts, bags of Hershey’s kisses and heart-shaped boxes full of chocolates, pink or red sappy sweet cards, and red roses.   I noticed yesterday, though,  that those are moving to the Clearance section to make room for sparkly green St. Patrick’s Day stuff.

But many of us would rather skip this day.  I’m not presuming that all single people don’t like it, but I don’t, and I know plenty of others for whom the celebration is more proforma than real.  The love of my life is a cat and she cares for crunchies, catnip, and mommy.  No cards, no chocolate, no red.  I’m happy staying home quietly with her and not being out and about having Valentine’s Day slammed in my face.  And no, I’m not a crazy cat lady.  I’m a middle-aged single woman with a cat; big difference.

If you are lucky enough to have a love of your life who isn’t four-footed and furry, may this be a happy day full of shared love with or without the flowers, candy, jewelry, or red presents.  If not, love yourself enough to celebrate anyway, doing something you enjoy and makes you feel as special as you are.



Thanksgiving 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I spent the day home with the kitty, except for a little trip to Walmart to see if I could nab a fake Christmas tree before things go bananas tomorrow with the Black Friday shoppers.   I went to the dinky little store near my house, which is a really terrible store, and their selection was meh.  If I’m feeling up to it, I may go to the real store later this weekend – or else just be content with a 5′ fake tree I spotted at Home Depot.  I’m allergic to real trees, which is why I bother.

Last week I was able to add fish into my diet, and that went well – tho to be honest, the idea of actually cooking fish just to get a 2 oz serving wasn’t appealing, so I mostly just had tuna, which is soft and comes in little cans perfect for taking into the office.  I’m not in love with plain tuna, though, so looked forward to being able to add chicken this week.  For Thanksgiving I cooked a small chicken in the crockpot, yielding so much meat I wondered why I did a whole chicken instead of just a breast.  Oh well, lots to freeze for future meals.

So far my system is doing well.  It’s been 4 weeks today since my surgery and I had my first fill of 1.5 cc of saline into the lapband on Monday.  My next one will be just before Christmas.  So far I’m not noticeably less hungry but am still limited to 8 oz/day (tho I’m kind of stretching it a little bit).  Still, I’m taking in under 350 calories/day at this point and as soon as I’m healed up, I’m looking forward to having more variety.   Here’s the total change since April:

Last weekend I was up in Foxboro, MA, to visit my nephew who plays football with the New England Patriots.  He’s been on the practice squad for a month and his dad flew up for the weekend and went to the big game with him on Sunday.  It was great to see them again after almost a year, especially since the family will be in Texas for Thanksgiving without either of the New England contingent.

I’m looking forward to a low-key sleep-in long weekend.  I have no leftovers except chicken but am just as happy not to be in a carb-coma on the couch after eating too much food I didn’t really want or need.  My two weeks off post-op really spoiled me for lazy quiet days so I’m thrilled to have these now, and the promise of a long Christmas recess break in just a few weeks.

For now, hope your holiday was happy, your family and friends are healthy, and your weekend is relaxed.

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The Parents are Already Home

Mom and Dad at Mystic SeaportI had a wonderful visit with my parents this last week.  They arrived late due to a flight cancellation, so we ended up missing 1.5 days.  We didn’t have big sight-seeing things lined up, since we did so much on their last visit.  More of our time was spent catching up and talking about everything, having computer lessons, watching movies, and going over family genealogy (I’m the record keeper in the family).  Our biggest outing was to Mystic Seaport, which was celebrating an 1876 anniversary commemoration of the

We lived in New Jersey when I was growing up, and my mom grew up there as well.  We moved away in 1970, which is a really long time.  But Mom and Dad have stayed in touch with friends from their days there, and on this trip we visited with two of them – Phyllis from NJ (last seen 39 years ago) and JoAnn who was in K-12 with my mom (last seen 61 years ago).  It was fun to see them pick up almost as though they’d seen each other yesterday.

As for me, I always worry about managing my food when I have company.  I sometimes eat weirdo off-cycle meals, with bigger lunches than dinner, and I didn’t know how that would work with the parents here.  But it actually was fine.  I found my way to a Friday WW meeting, since the Saturday ones were cancelled because of the July 4th holiday, and that helped me reinforce eating carefully.  Which didn’t stop me from having a Friendly’s happy ending sundae when we went to Mystic on Saturday.  It was yummy but not as good as I remembered and I don’t really want another. That’s progress.

I was aware as we talked this weekend that I was probably more honest with my parents than I’d ever been about my weight and life as a fat person.  It wasn’t defensive or argument, just not hiding who I am anymore.  I told my mom when we went out to lunch and looked at eating on the patio, that I was afraid I would get stuck in the flimsy chair.  On another day, my worry that I wasn’t sure I could actually walk from the distant parking down to the dock where we’d hoped to get on a harbor cruise.  My honesty about how hard it was to find clothes that fit that I actually liked, and that I wouldn’t be wearing shorts out in public because my legs are so lumpy.

We also spent time talking about weight loss surgery.  My packet of information arrived from the surgeon’s office in response to my doctor’s referral.  I am to be assessed by a clinical nutritionist and a psychologist, and answer a long questionnaire from the surgeon.  I also picked up a copy of Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies (thanks, C, for the recommendation!) which will already be a good resource.  My parents are 100% behind me in making this choice and understand the need to lose weight before I can have the knee surgery I also need (Dad had a double-knee replacement 8 years ago so he really gets it).

When I got home from the airport after seeing the parents off, I ran around doing laundry, tidying up, changing the bed, paying bills, cuddling with Tessie.  Some of that was done through tears.  I never know when I see my parents if I will see them again.  I’m almost 55 years old and incredibly blessed to have both of them alive, active, healthy and aware.  But time marches on and I know there will come a time when I won’t have them to hold and love and support.  Now matters.  So do they.


Thinking Beyond Myself

Wrapping Presents with CatsI’m having a hard time caring about food things right now. It’s not that I want to eat everything not nailed down, though I did have four Lindt truffles today that were an impulse treat. I don’t have tons of parties to go to and pretty much eat the same basic foods in a random rotation so I’m not really worried about meals.

No, I’m just tired of thinking about food and worrying and fretting every waking moment that I’m slipping off self-expected standards. I’m also tired of complaining to myself about clothes that don’t fit well and buying a new puffy coat that makes me look like a giant eggplant. I don’t want to do either one anymore, sweating over every bite and sweating over not being the shape I want to be.

I want to be thinking about other people and not myself for a little while. Living alone, it’s easy to just be so self-focused that I forget that I’m not the center of the universe. Now Tessie is but she’s a cat (don’t tell her, she thinks she’s a people).

Sunday morning I spent a good 90 minutes wrapping packages for friends and family, making a giant mess of paper, tissue, and curly ribbon, and enjoying every minute of it. Presents had been collecting in a waiting area and surprised me by their sheer number when it came down to wrapping. Most of the little things I’d completely forgotten about – things that didn’t cost much or that caught my eye weeks ago, as perfect little extras for people I care about. It’s the thought that matters, not how much is spent.

I want to hold on to that. Thinking of others and not just about myself. ‘Tis the season, isn’t it?


Martha Stewart Holiday Calendar

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all there is to do for the holidays?  Take a peek at this version of Martha Stewart’s Holiday Calendar.  It’s been around a while but always makes me chuckle so I’m reproducing here, with an update or two.

Holly with berry faces

December 1
Blanch carcass from Thanksgiving turkey. Spray paint gold, turn upside down and use as a sleigh to hold Christmas Cards.

December 2
Have Mormon Tabernacle Choir record outgoing Christmas message for answering machine.

December 3
Using candlewick and handgilded miniature pine cones, fashion cat-o-nine-tails. Flog Gardener.

December 4
Repaint Sistine Chapel ceiling in ecru, with mocha trim.

December 5
Get new eyeglasses. Grind lenses myself.

December 6
Fax family Christmas newsletter to Pulitzer committee for consideration.

December 7
Debug Windows Vista.

December 8
Decorate homegrown Christmas tree with scented candles handmade with beeswax from my backyard bee colony.

December 9
Record own Christmas album complete with 4 part harmony and all instrument accompaniment performed by myself. Mail to all my friends and loved ones. Post podcast on my website.

December 10
Align carpets to adjust for curvature of Earth.

December 11
Lay Faberge egg.

December 12
Erect ice skating rink in front yard using spring water I bottled myself. Open for neighborhood children’s use. Create festive mood by hand making snow and playing my Christmas album.

December 13
Collect Dentures. They make excellent pastry cutters, particularly for decorative pie crusts.

December 14
Install plumbing in gingerbread house.

December 15
Replace air in mini-van tires with Glade “holiday scents” in case tires are shot out at mall.

December 17
Child proof the Christmas tree with garland of razor wire.

December 19
Adjust legs of chairs so each Christmas dinner guest will be same height when sitting at his or her assigned seat.

December 20
Dip sheep and cows in egg whites and roll in confectioner’s sugar to add a festive sparkle to the pasture.

December 21
Drain city reservoir; refill with mulled cider, orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

December 22
Float scented votive candles in toilet tank.

December 23
Seed clouds for white Christmas.

December 24
Do my annual good deed. Go to several stores. Be seen engaged in last minute Christmas shopping, thus making many people feel less inadequate than they really are.

December 25
Bear son. Swaddle. Lay in color coordinated manger scented with homemade potpourri.

December 26
Organize spice racks by genus and phylum.

December 27
Build snowman in exact likeness of God.

December 28
Take Dog apart. Disinfect. Reassemble.

December 29
Hand sew 365 quilts, each using 365 material squares I wove myself used to represent the 365 days of the year. Donate to local orphanages.

December 30
Release flock of white doves, each individually decorated with olive branches, to signify desire of world peace.

December 31
New Year’s Eve! Give staff their resolutions. Call a friend in each time zone of the world as the clock strikes midnight in that country.


A Better Eggnog Option

Edy’s Eggnog Slow Churned Ice CreamEggnog is a major holiday weakness for me with its rich flavors. Spiked is wonderful but I’d drink it almost straight from the carton. Being around for only a few weeks once a year makes it so easy to pick up when I’m grocery shopping – no need to go anywhere special, it’s right next to the milk.

It is, however, deadly for the diet. One cup of eggnog (which isn’t much when you really like it) has 342 calories and 19 grams of fat, and 34 grams of carbohydrates. That works out to 8 points if you’re doing WW and who wants to waste 8 points on one cup of something, even if it is wonderful? It doesn’t last as long as real food.

So I was thrilled to see that the good folks at Edy’s have come out with Eggnog Slow Churned Ice Cream in a limited edition for the season. 1/2 C. has 110 calories and 3 grams of fat, for 2 WW points and lots of yummy rich flavor. That’s much more reasonable to include in my menu planning than 8 points for a cup of the liquid version – and it takes longer to eat, too. These things matter.

There will be food everywhere for the next 5-6 weeks. Chocolate candy from vendors and homemade cookies at work, dessert parties, lunches and dinners out – and eggnog. At least now I have one option to let me have the taste without the damage.

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Quiet Thanksgiving Eve

Pilgrim holding a turkey

The campus was deserted today. Students were already gone with no classes to attend, and the only people I saw around on the streets were staff and there weren’t many of us; faculty were MIA. The air was still and quiet under a gray sky and the leaves still hanging around on the trees and fluttering to the ground below were translucent and almost watered down yellow instead of brilliant gold. Winter is coming.

They released us early and people scattered to the four winds promptly at the stroke of 1:00 to head out of town or home to whip up mountains of food. I needed to kill time before my 5:00 Weight Watchers meeting and knew that if I went home, I would just stay there and not leave again.

So I filled the time with an amble over to the campus bookstore to look at Christmas cards and new books all shiny and interesting, then continued walking on to the health center to pick up my sleep meds, then on to the parking garage. This didn’t eat up a lot of time but it was progress.

Next stop was Home Goods where I found a cute pair of silver Christmas tree earrings long enough to be seen beneath my hair (I rarely wear small earrings now), then happily poked around in the spa products and napped a few Christmas presents. Shhh, don’t tell. Sitting on top of a fancy basket of lotions was a black shearling hat with leopard lining. Miracle of miracles, it fit like a glove – not too tight, not too loose. In just a few weeks, this will come in very handy when I’m out shivering at the bus stop.

There was an Asian mother and child in front of me in line, speaking something exotic and laughing with their friends, and I was reminded how much we take for granted that everyone here will speak English while we rarely bother to learn the languages of anyone else. I don’t think I’m quite up for Chinese but it sounded fun.

I wasted more time at the drug store and then picked up a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream to take tomorrow to my Thanksgiving hostess. The liquor store is three doors down from the WW Center, so I was getting closer to my goal. At 5:00 the waiting — not hordes, but there were at least a few of us — ran in to weigh before skipping the meeting to head for grandmother’s house. I was among them, pleased to have lost 0.6 lbs after some mini-meltdowns this week, but anxious to get home to put my trusty frozen peas on my sore knee.

Tomorrow I can sleep until Tessie insists I get up to show her the food already in her bowl. There’s the Macy’s parade to watch and family to call before I head out to share Thanksgiving with my friends. I’m not going to obsess over the food; I’ll do my best to be reasonable but after all, this is only one meal out of 21 this week. Why let myself get bent out of shape?

I wish you a happy and grace-filled Thanksgiving, wherever you are and however you spend it.