Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m in between trips and scrambling like mad not to fry in our current heat wave.  It was hot in Texas, but somehow it’s worse here which is just not right.  Thank heavens for AC!

The Texas trip was originally supposed to be to attend my nephew’s wedding, but it morphed into a family gathering at my brother’s ranch (140 acres in the middle of nowhere between my parents’ house and my brother’s place in Houston). They have very photogenic cows 🙂

My mom’s sister was there from California, nephew Rob from Massachusetts, and me from Connecticut.  Rob didn’t stay long, heading west to spend the weekend with his brother (the former groom) and friends going to a baseball game and country western concert.  My youngest niece ran a triathlon that weekend (I can’t imagine doing it in that Texas heat!) but my goddaughter (above) came from Lubbock for the weekend.  We celebrated our June/July birthdays together with carrot cake 🙂

Everyone flipped over my new look and I realized while I was there that I’ve almost lost my mother in terms of weight.  She weighs 115 lbs and I’ve lost 110 – which really is a whole person.  Puts things into very clear perspective.

I had a great time but was glad to come home (as was Tessie).  But I’ve been scrambling again because I leave on Friday for my national conference in Denver.  I have several meetings to facilitate so I have agendas and prep to finish, plus catch up on my paid job.

My conference wardrobe was all thought out, including a few dresses that looked good and were cool and comfy.  Except I’ve realized that all of them – ALL of them – are too big. Great problem but a bad time to figure it out, since the stores are starting to stock fall clothing (just after July 4th, go figure) and only have very picked over summer things.  I did get a few tops today that I can wear with black pants that will work.  I’ll find out soon enough.

I found it pretty easy to eat while in Texas.  My mom generously stocked up on some Greek yogurt, berries, chicken, and guacamole, and there were plenty of good options for me at the ranch.  Mostly people were interested in my choices and asked a lot of questions about the band and how it worked.  It was good practice for going out with more people; I’ve been reading menus for Denver and practicing restaurant eating, at least in my mind.  We’ll see how it goes!

I’ll try to check in from Denver but am not at all sure when I’ll have free time to write.  My time is pretty scripted.  But I’ll check in and at least keep up with y’all even if I can’t write until I’m back.  Stay out of trouble!


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Snow for Winter

Today is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter.  It’s not unusual for us to already have snow by now but honestly, Mother Nature, you outdid yourself this time.  My area only got about a foot of snow, though other places in the state ranged from 0-26″ — but at least we are prepared for snow here.  We know how to drive, we have adequate plows and sanders, people understand you go out and shovel as soon as the snow stops if not several times while it’s happening, just to get it gone ASAP to make for safer walking and driving.

The DC area, and my friends in Virginia (waves to Lori) took a wallop with this storm, which hit at such a terrible time for those shopping and/or traveling for the holidays.  Frances had her flight cancelled and rescheduled for today after a 3 hour wait on hold.  Thousands of travelers will end up stranded because, as we all know, snow and airport closures in one part of the country have a domino effect everywhere.

Last year it was my turn, spending 3 days to go from CT to TX after not one but two storms that came one day apart.  I told my family then that I loved them but that I wasn’t going to do that again this year.  I meant it, and I’m keeping my word – and happy to do so.   I love my family a lot but in these days of overcrowded stressed skies, why push it?

So I’m thrilled that this year I  have family up near me and I’ll have company for Christmas — my football-playing nephew who gets only Christmas Day off.  It’s his first time to not be with his family in Texas and I know he was homesick for family over Thanksgiving.  Weather permitting (and it’s definitely a factor in any plans), he’ll drive down on Christmas Eve after they finish team meetings and spend the night with me.  I have the inflatable bed and a tree and will be cooking him a home-cooked meal, even if I won’t be able to eat most of it.

It’s funny the things that people really miss and that make them feel at home.  We’re having a crockpot turkey breast, my mom’s sweet potato casserole with oranges, his mom’s cornbread dressing, and by request, green bean casserole.  He offered to help me make it so it would be easier, obviously not knowing it’s one of the world’s easiest dishes.  Dessert will be a pumpkin ice cream pie, also a kind of family tradition.  I’m also making a sour cream coffee cake for breakfast (his) and for him to take back with him to share with his roommate.  He couldn’t believe I knew how to make Grandma’s coffee cake, though I pointed out to him I’d been making it longer than he’s been alive.

What’s ironic is that I don’t think I’ll be able to eat much of anything.  I’m going to the doctor for a fill in my lapband today, which means a day or two of liquids only, followed by mushies, and only then by soft foods.  I’ve had some instances of stuck food or just the sensation of it, and frankly am not that interested in eating solid anything.  So the appointment comes at a good time to check in, make sure I know what I’m supposed to be doing instead of making something up out of a lack of direction.

I had a nice visit to NYC last week to spend part of a day with Our Frances.  We did our traditional visit to Chinatown for Qi Dong massages (omg, they are to die for if your body is tied in knots), followed by walking around and being lured into a backroom to check out knock off purses.  Honestly, what’s a trip to Chinatown without knock off purses?  We each bought one 🙂  Then it was on to Little Italy for lunch (a bowl of minestrone for me) and quick subway hop to the Union Square Christmas Fair.  I love going but a lot of the booths look the same now that I’ve been several times.  It’s still fun to be outside listening to Christmas music and being part of the crowds checking out the booths.

I hope you and yours are safe and warm today, not stranded by the side of the road in a snowbank or without power in frigid weather.  I hope you either can stay home or have safe passage on roads to get where you’re going.  Remember – it’s winter now!


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Flu shots, travel, friends and protein powder

Pumpkins on the StairsDid you get your flu shot?  Not the H1N1 version, the one for regular seasonal flu?  I got mine yesterday on campus after standing in line for about 3 minutes.  A simple verification that I’m not allergic to eggs and never had a bad reaction to a flu shot, a little stick, a round bandaid and I was on my way back to work.  Most of my colleagues have had their shots, those who aren’t home sick for days.  Now that our staffing levels are reduced, one person’s absence really makes more of a difference than ever before.  But I don’t want germy people who are feeling lousy to come into work and that includes me.  I do better work if I’m healthy coz my head doesn’t get all fuzzy.

I had a great trip to Chicago last weekend.  The flights were on time and even landed early.  We escaped the tornado watches/warnings.  The AALL work went extremely well; the committee members were in synch and pumped to select and schedule67 programs from 192 proposals for next year’s annual meeting.  You learn a lot about how and how not to write a successful proposal.  It’s amazing how much following directions makes a difference.

After the meetings, I spent the rest of my time with my best friend Phyllis and her family.  She’d moved to a new (to her) house and this was my first time to see it.  I”m a visual person and it helps enormously to be able to picture someone in a place – provides a context.   We went out to eat, played with the adorable shih-tzu puppies, checked out estate sales and did a little shopping – and talked and talked non-stop.  We haven’t seen each other in far too long and this visit was very needed.  Love you, Phyllis!

This weekend one of my errands is to visit the General Nutrition store to investigate samples of whey protein.  Although the expectation is that I will be eating real food as a lapbander (though not in the first two weeks post-op), many patients report using powdered protein in smoothies and to mix in with other foods like soup, pudding, and cottage cheese to boost the protein levels.  I’m to eat a minimum of 60 gm of protein per day and the more I eat, the more I’ll lose – except my hair, which would start to fall out if protein levels fall.

But I need to be able to eat it, not gag.  And obviously all protein powders are not created equal.  All I know is that whey protein is the way to go, and I want to figure out what I want to at least start with since I won’t be out driving around for a week or so post-op.  If you use protein powder yourself, let me know what you recommend.  I’ve heard good things about Unjury, Optimum, and Isopure – but haven’t tasted any of them yet, so what do I know?


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Flying off to Chicago

I’ve been running around like a crazy person tonight after getting gas and making an ATM stop on the way home from work.  I vacuumed, changed the litter box, did laundry, packed, sorted out my computer and paperwork stuff and made a fuss over the cat.   The clock goes off at 4:00 am so I can finish up in the morning, cuddle the kitty, and head for the airport.  Since I am totally not a morning person, this will be interesting.  At least this flight doesn’t leave at 6am; those are the pits.

This is a short combo work/play trip.  The work is first — meetings on Friday from 1:00-5:00, then again on Saturday from 8:00-3:00.  We are selecting programs for our professional association’s annual meeting next summer.  I’m chairing the committee next year so I’m shadowing the current chair to learn the ropes.  My best friend is picking me up after the Saturday meeting and we’re going to just hang out and visit for the rest of the weekend.  It’s not a long visit, but it’s long overdue.  I head home on Monday around noon.

Five weeks from today is my surgery and I have lots to do before that.  Many medical visits for pre-op tests.  My health plan requires that I do the EKG and bloodwork at the health plan building, then go to the hospital for the rest of the pre-admission screening.  Though I’m not totally sure what else there is at that point.  The schedule is getting crowded, though, and I hope I can keep it all straight.  Plus other stuff like haircuts, oil change, cat to the vet for checkup, visit to the nutrition store to check out protein powder, etc., etc.

For now, though, it’s Chicago on my radar.  As soon as CSI is over, I’m off to bed so I can wake up way too early and start the weekend.  Have fun, everyone!


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Happy Birthday to Me – Let’s Take a Train Ride

Birthday cupcakeTomorrow is my birthday and I will spend a big chunk of it on the train with some of my colleagues, going south on Amtrak to Union Station in Washington, D.C.   It’s kind of like a road trip in a really long car with someone else driving.  It’s also very easy transport, especially here in the northeast corridor, where trains are frequent, relatively inexpensive, and much more convenient than flights.  Plus there are plugs so we can charge up the electronic stores that we are bringing with us to this conference – Kindle, cell phones, iPods, laptops/netbooks, etc.  Actually, I have all of those but promise I won’t use them all at once.

I called Amtrak today to see if I could have Red Cap service to help me with my stuff getting on and off the train, as well as getting in FROM the train in DC, which is huge.   I feel a little bit like a fraud since I’m not immobile, but on the other hand, my knee hurts a lot and the service is free, other than tips.  I have a feeling I’ll really need it for the DC end of things, especially coming home.  Walking and standing (which is worse than standing) for the length of the meeting will take their toll and I’ll be very happy for the help on the way home, which I do alone, since my colleagues and I are all coming home at different times.

Birthday dinner will be with some friends who served on a committee together in 1999.  We liked each other so much we’ve had a reunion and this will be another, in the same town where we first celebrated.  We’re going to a Spanish restaurant which promises to have excellent sangria.  I don’t drink much but adore sangria – and it IS my birthday, so I’m planning on having a glass or two.

At this point in my career, much of the conference is about networking, committee work, and spending lots of time in the exhibit hall talking to vendors, as well as selected programs.  It will be busy but there are social events thrown in to keep things balanced — a reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, followed by a reception at the Library of Congress, catching up with friends, a bloggers and tweeters get together, and, of course, karaoke night.  I’ve never actually done karaoke but this could be very entertaining – and a nice break.

Stay out of trouble until I get back!


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Quick Checkin from Anaheim

It’s 5:30am here in California and I’ve been awake for half an hour – after sleeping like the dead for 10 hours.   Yesterday was a very long day, up at 2:30am to do my “get ready for the day” stuff  (I’m not a fast-starter in the morning) and having some cuddles with Tessie before heading to the airport.

Flights went smoothly except for some weather in Dallas, but nothing that messed up flights too much.  After the 3 days I spent at Newark airport on my Christmas trip, a small delay and bumpy air was not a problem.  I sat in rows with moms with small children which is NOT my favorite thing to do – but I had two seats “for my comfort and safety and that of the passengers around me” and on a trip this long, it did make a huge difference.

Food actually was good.  I fixed some little sandwiches of Arnold’s sandwich thins (1 point each) with Laughing Cow cheese, had some cut up apples and Late July cheese sandwich crackers, and some tootsie rolls for a chocolate fix.  In Dallas I picked up some pineapple and yogurt at a little shop along with some soy crisps.  I didn’t eat anything after I got to California other than finishing off the soy crisps.  I just wasn’t hungry and concentrated on downing as much water as possible to help with dehydration.

And I had a massage that was awesome.  The woman used a combination of Chinese and Swedish techniques and really concentrated on some horrible muscle knots and tightness made worse by a long day in the plane.  I’m feeling a little sore this morning but in a good way.

Now it’s time to dry my hair and sit down to a nice hotel breakfast because I need refueling.  I can’t afford to do this every day but a breakfast buffet with fruit, protein, and carbs is a good thing.  The conference stuff starts at noon for me, with a workshop on electronic resource management.

Have a great day!


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Taking My Balance to California

BalanceI leave for California on Saturday to attend a computer users group conference.  It’s one of my favorite events and I’ve attended every one since this started in 1993.  We’ve grown from a group of 300 attendees to 1800 at last year’s meeting.  This year, though, because of the economy and tight budgets, I know that attendance will be down, but it will still be a fun and productive time.

What comes with it, though, is 6 days of eating in restaurants.  I know how to do this but admit that I’m nervous of upsetting my still-new-feeling balance with healthy eating.  Airport eating is particularly hard because I want to eat everything not nailed down.  There’s something weird and “out of place” about airport waiting areas that just make me want stuff, plus there’s a 3-hour time change on this trip on top of having to leave the house at 3:30am to get to the airport in the first place.

I’ve been checking restaurant listings on the local arrangements website to see what kinds of options are available and likely to be visited, and checking foods in the WW book to get an idea of points values.  But really, how hard is it to make good choices – assuming they are available to find in the first place?  I’m bringing some Fiber One peanut butter bars to throw into my bag so I have an alternative to pastries and cookies out for breaks and snacks, and I’m hoping there will be fruit around.  It’s California so hopefully that won’t be a problem.  Maybe I can take a cab to a little market to pick up some stuff after I arrive.  We’ll see.

I just want to be prepared but not so rigid that I can’t enjoy myself with friends while keeping boundaries around this balance that I’ve rediscovered.  To get myself started right, I’m going to a WW meeting on Friday night before I pack, throw some good options in my bag, and not beat myself up if I slip.