Archive for May, 2011

May 29, 2011

that summer

My younger sister graduated high school on Friday. Something about spending three hours in your old high school gym looking out over a sea of caps and gowns  stirs up your memories. Weird, I know.

I couldn’t really remember much about my actual graduation, what it felt like to sit for three-plus hours, to stand at the podium and give a speech, to do all that posing and picture-taking and what not. It’s blurry. It’s been awhile.

But I do remember a lot about that summer, about what came next.

It was probably the worst summer of my life.

I had a summer job – a day-camp counselor at the local YMCA – but I worked five days a week with really weird hours. I worked the “extended hours” of the camp,  getting to work every morning before seven a.m. and punching out at 11, but coming back in at 3:00 and staying until the last kid left at 5:30 or 6:00. I was also first in line as a substitute for the normal, day-time camp counselors, which meant an extra 70 bucks, but that also meant working for twelve hours straight wrangling small children in and out of school buses and counting on my mom to drop me off a packed lunch before we left for the day.

But there was some fun stuff, too. My boyfriend of over two years was home from college and for the second summer we joined the cast of the community theater musical. We’d had a lot of fun the summer before playing biblical husband and wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I was fresh off my stunning performance as Ethel Toffelmeier in The Music Man, and we would be reunited with many of our summer theater friends in Li’l Abner. But this also meant rehearsals two or three times a week. I would run in late, my camp lanyard still around my neck and hit the stage for two or three hours and skipping out on late-night socializing in favor of sleeping like the dead.

Things were okay until July. I got my wisdom teeth out and it really knocked me out. I suppose I’m not one of those people who can bounce back quickly after oral surgery: I spent a few days laid up on the couch, a few more hopped up on painkillers, and I couldn’t eat much of anything for over a week. Returning to my long hours of work coincided with play rehearsals ramping up, which was even harder to manage with a diet of ibuprofens and applesauce. I went over to my boyfriend’s house after rehearsal one night, tired and starving, and scrounged his cupboards for anything soft enough to eat. I found a dented old can of soup that looked decent…. and then spent all night sick to my stomach with what I’m guessing was food poisoning. I was out of work/rehearsal for the rest of the week.

But behind all this physical exertion and malady, there were two other things going on that summer. First, I was leaving for college in the fall. I was buying a computer, getting my roommate assignments, buying shower caddies and extra-long sheets and feeling sad and stressed about leaving my friends and family.

Second, my boyfriend was breaking up with me, in that slow and painful way that seems to happen to me a lot… that kind of extended, emotionally painful tug-of-war where neither of you are happy with the current status quo but the person who is pulling away (him) can’t muster the balls to actually confront the person they used to love so much (me). While I was working and going to bed early and convalescing and stressing out of about college, he was making new friends with our theater crew and letting another girl woo him away. I had the unpleasant task of actually ending the relationship, even though I was the one essentially being left behind.

So after an exceedingly awkward and tear-filled week of nightly rehearsals, performances, and cast parties spent in the presence of my ex, his new squeeze, and a cadre of friends in favor of their inevitable union, July spat me out into August.

And that’s when things started to get really weird. I was going to start college in the Fall with my boyfriend in the dorm next door, and then I wasn’t. I had a crazy, exhausting job, and then it ended. I had nights filled with theater friends and parties and movies on my boyfriend’s couch, and then I didn’t.

After a month like July, though? I wasn’t unhappy. The girl he chose over me wasn’t exactly a popular lady among the cast: a few of my new friends sided with me, one of whom I ended up dating for a bit. He was smart – going to Kenyon College on a full scholarship – and funny and lived in a house in the country with his brother and sister instead of his parents. We listened to Dave Matthews and Original Broadway Cast recordings and went to Cedar Point together. I was fresh out of a long relationship, ballsy, and wasn’t afraid of doing things wrong. I also wasn’t afraid to tell him that I wasn’t up for an Ohio-Central Michigan long distance relationship.

We were barefoot in the corner of my front lawn at night, standing under the pine trees. He told me he was falling in love with me. I said, “You’re leaving for college in three days.” He didn’t call me after that.

I remember visiting my best friend at the tanning salon where she worked and giving her a framed photo collage as a “going away” present.

I remember her hitching a ride with my ex-boyfriend the next weekend to visit me at my dorm and being so happy to see her.

When I sat in that stinking hot high school auditorium and waited while my 354 other classmates walked across the stage, I couldn’t have predicted any of that summer. I couldn’t have told you that I would learn to love college, that I would be okay with B’s sometimes instead of A’s, that I would be okay by myself.

I couldn’t have told you, sitting in my white cap and gown, that in the next six months I would have had my heart broken then left for college, alone, where I learned how to dance at bars, how to drink, how to kiss boys I didn’t know… that that all of those things would have had to happen for me to fall in love again.

That I would, indeed, fall in love again, before Christmas.

That eight years later, I would be living an almost unrecognizable but quite lovely life.

My sister graduated high school, and in three months she will move to Ann Arbor. She will be attending the University of Michigan’s nursing school. She wants to get her BSN and then work toward being a Certified Nurse Midwife.

I don’t think I’d wish “that summer” on anyone, but I hope that by September, she is feeling ballsy. Feeling ready. Feeling like there is something out there for her in the rest of the world, because there is.

It might be crazy, exhausting, painful, unexpected, and the absolute last thing you thought you wanted…

… but something good is out there, waiting.

May 25, 2011

just a quick trip

Last night I was chatting with My Beloved about air travel.

The conversation went a little like this:

Me: “Argh. Stress.”

Boy: “Aren’t you a little excited to fly?”

Me: “Argh.”

(… like so many of our conversations)

I used to like to fly. I really did! Back when all I had to do was hold my Dad’s hand in the terminal and try not to imagine anyone having to use one of the complimentary barf bags? Yeah, flying was fun. And I’m a little sad that my poor deprived boyfriend never had the luxury of being a piece of carry-on luggage rather than an active, adult flyer.

I think I’m developing adult-onset plane-phobia. I’ve never been a nervous flyer, but now the whole process of flying seems to put me in the state where take-offs and landings have me squeezing my eyes shut like I need a Xanax or twelve. Flying has become two days of straight nerves – of packing, making last minute decisions, arrangements, and waiting for it to all fall apart.

My plane leaves for Michigan in an hour. Just a quick week at home. Little sister Caroline is graduating high school. Two of my friends had babies earlier this year that I have yet to squeeze. I am charging a cut and color to my credit card.

Low stress… but last night I couldn’t sleep because there was a last minute confusion about how I was getting to the airport. The problem: I had TOO many rides. This had my heart racing at midnight, laying in bed, staring at the ceiling.

All I can hope for is that today goes a little smoother than my last flight.

So far, so good. Alarm clocks went off properly. Arrived at the airport a grand three hours early. Checked bag wasn’t too heavy. Didn’t get a pat down OR a naked body scan at security. Found the Starbucks. I have a little Sarah Dessen and a little Tina Fey for airplane pleasure reading and a few episodes of Community to block out the turbulence anxiety.

Yes, I wrote my flight in on the wrong day of my planner (again),

and left my boarding pass at the Starbucks (on the complete opposite side of the terminal),

but let’s just cross our fingers and hope that I make it to Michigan in a single piece, eh?

May 23, 2011

well well well…

A few weeks ago, I was flirting with the idea of visiting a chiropractor. I’ve never been before, so I did what every sensible/shameless person does when they need medical advice: I asked every single person that I see regularly for their recommendations or opinions.

I’m not exactly sure what this means about me or my circle of friends and acquaintances, but I didn’t talk to a single chiropractic enthusiast during my research. Instead, I had variations of this conversation:

“Urgh. Chiropractors? Really? That’s scary. And you get addicted. And why don’t you just go to a doctor, anyway?”

Which is a very good question that led me to having even more awkwardly medically detailed conversations with my friends, but really got me thinking about my body, my health, and what has changed in my life in the past few years.

I am, on the whole, a healthy person. I don’t get sick a lot, I don’t have a lot of strange ailments, I go to the doctor for physicals and the occasional Rx for antibiotics but not much else.

My third year in college, however, I started to feel like crap.

It started with a stomachache. Nothing gross, nothing even particularly describable. Just an unpleasant, after-eating sensation that I translated roughly as “Food, body does not want you.” It was worst after dinner – I’d find myself curled up in bed with a book or TV until I got tired enough to sleep most nights of the week. And even the nights I wasn’t sick, I was tired. Really tired. Tired when I woke up, tired when I was in class, tired when I got home.

So I went to the doctor. I saw a nurse practitioner who I loved. She was seriously nice. But she also prescribed to me a battery of tests and bloodwork, enough that my parents were a little alarmed by the bills being sent home.

My blood proved that my tiredness wasn’t Lyme’s Disease, but it could be allergies or slight anemia. Get thee to the allergist for tests. A chest ultrasound revealed mitral valve prolapse… maybe. This could make you tired, but there’s nothing to do about it anyway. No h. pylori in my blood so I didn’t have an ulcer, so off to a abdominal CT. 64 oz of disgusting liquid later, I have “slight ascites” but have otherwise healthy-looking organs.

By the time I finished all my visits, I had nothing but a handful of Allegra-D samples, an Rx for over-the-counter antacids, and some prenatal vitamins.

During the next year, I started having a lot of sinus troubles. It started with something like 10 common colds in six months, two or three of which turned the corner to full blown sinus infections. When I moved home – away from all those collegiate germs – I stopped getting sick so often, but sometimes sinus pressure would creep up on me and stay for a day, two days, a week. These headaches were unlike anything I’d ever encountered: I wasn’t stuffed up at all, but it would hurt like hell to breathe through my nose, my face would be tender, my ears and teeth would ache. My whole face would throb when I bent over or stood up too fast. Tylenol did little to help.

My next physical was with a new family doctor. I told her about my rash of colds and sinus infections, and my persistent sinus headaches. She said, “Well, there really isn’t anything we can do about that.”

So I found myself a new doctor. I was optimistic. She re-ran some of my bloodwork from two years prior and saw those pesky allergens and referred me to an allergist (and also noticed that my prenatal vitamin was actually elevating my iron levels TOO high). My new allergist demanded a new set of skin-prick testing (ouch), and based on my symptoms expected me to have a dozen hidden allergies causing my discomfort.

Alas, the tests came back with only two, neither of which severe: dust and mold.

I signed up for allergy shots – for a year, I went diligently, twice a week then once, and read my book in the waiting room for fifteen minutes before leaving. I tried every allergy medicine under the sun, but the only thing that gave me any relief was the straight-up, meth-makin’ pseudoephedrine. At that point I’d discovered Excedrin, as well: whenever my headaches hit, I could knock them back with a few pills. They made me loopy and relatively pain-free, but after a few weeks I started to get anxious, jittery, and my heart raced over 120 beats per minute after a minute and a half on an exercise bike.

The system wasn’t working. I went back to the doctor for adjustments on my meds, and while I waited for my magical allergy shots to kick in, I went back to the doctor.

First, an ENT. A camera into my sinuses revealed no polyps or growths. An MRI of my head revealed no blockages and an only minorly deviated septum. Hearing those results – my head aching that day, my ears painful to the touch of his little ear scope – was the first time I cried in a doctor’s office.

He felt bad and wrote me a referral to a neurologist. I told him, the only guy in town, that the headaches were usually one-sided. He told me they were migraines, then, and asked me if I wanted medicine to stop them or prevent them. I chose prevent. He wrote me an Rx and told me they would make me gain weight.

I filled it, but never took one. And I stopped going to the doctor.


That was about two years ago.

I didn’t even go in for a yearly physical after that. After almost a month of completely bizarre, out-of-character insomnia, I visited my new family doctor for advice. She asked me one question – what medications I was taking. I told her I was taking my allergy medicine – but that I’d stopped taking the daytime pill (Sudafed) because it made me too crazy, and that I was only taking the nighttime pill (no Sudafed), but only sometimes, and most of the time in the morning and not at night.

She said, “Oh, that must be it. Stop taking your allergy medicine and see if that helps.”

I said, “Are you sure? I just told you that I don’t take it that often and that it’s a specifically “Nighttime” kind of pill.”

She said, “Yes. Most definitely.”

I was enraged. Not because she was wrong. She was probably right. If I couldn’t take the daytime pill, I probably couldn’t take the nighttime pill either.

But what she didn’t do was listen to me. She didn’t look at my patient history. She didn’t ask me if I was doing double shots of espresso before bed, or double shots of vodka. She didn’t ask me if I was staying up late or going to bed early or just got fired from my job or was applying to grad school or perform any sort of physical exam.

After years of prescriptions, tests, and medical bills, I almost completely gave up on “organized medicine.”

And two years later, I’m still here.

I don’t currently take any medications or get any allergy shots

And guess what I don’t have?

  • Sinus infections
  • Post nasal drip
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Stomachaches
  • Insomnia
  • Debilitating Headaches
  • Racing Heartbeat

I am obviously far from a licensed medical-advice giver, and I still am struggling with a few medical-type issues, but this is what works for me, and it’s nothing that a doctor ever told me.

For sinuses and post-nasal drip and allergies…

It helps to not get sick in the first place. Wash hands. Take vitamins. Eat vegetables. Get enough sleep.

If my sinuses start to bother me, I don’t wait around to see if they will “get better.” I pop two little red Sudafeds (THE STUFF FROM BEHIND THE COUNTER) and get on with my life. They are fast acting and not slow-release like my other allergy medication, so I don’t get much SudafedOverload/MethHeadSymptoms.

Drink hot water if your throat hurts. Nasal irrigation (I just do it when my sinuses are troubling me, but my boyfriend says daily irrigation is a musician-trick for keeping healthy and moist and such).

It could be that my new home in Boston is just less allergic than my parents’ abode, but I really don’t have any of those sinus symptoms I had for so long, and when they do show up they are associated with illness or a change in the weather.

For stomachaches…

For me, these are 100% related to stress and diet.

I eat smaller portions of food more often rather than waiting for a Big Dinner.

I try not to eat after dinner unless my hungry stomach is going to keep me awake.

If I’m stressing out, I don’t eat something that’s going to just make me feel sick (a pepperoni pizza) and instead eat something mildly healthy (anything that’s not a pepperoni pizza).

Get enough sleep.

For insomnia and racing heartbeat…

Dropping the daily Sudafed was a first step toward the larger goal of Paying Attention to How Substances Work In Your Body and with your daily life.

Example: during this “racing heartbeat” period, I was going to the gym after work. Of course, I was kind of TIRED after work, so I thought a little extra caffeine on my drive home would be okay if it would help me reach my goal. I think Mindy Kaling talked up these little drink-mixer things on her blog, so I decided to give them a try instead of my normal Diet Coke/sugary energy drink. It took me a few weeks to realize that they were making my work-outs crazy – my heart would race, I’d come home after a normal workout and die. It took me months later to read about one of the ingredients – stevia – and how some people are just sensitive to it and it makes their hearts race and generally go nuts.

I used to be in a bad way caffeine-wise. A normal day could include 2-3 shots of espresso on my way to work, 2 refills on a 32 oz. Diet Coke at lunch, an energy drink at 3, maybe another Diet on the way home from work, maybe another 32 oz fountain Diet Coke after my work out.

That is not really an optimal way to live.

On a day to day basis, I drink coffee in the morning. When I’m writing a paper or something, I might have some more caffeine in the afternoon or evening, depending on what I can get a hold of, but that is very rare – two or three times a semester.

I don’t take caffeine after 3 or 4 p.m. because it keeps me up.

I don’t really take fake sugars any more, either. They kind of give me a headache.


For debilitating headaches…

For me, this was a little of The Sum of the Parts.

Getting Enough Sleep helps. Not having a Sinus Infection helps. Not being so stressed out helps a lot.

But Listening to Your Body was a big part here.

I do still have headaches, but I understand them more.

Maybe they are sinus related, allergy related, maybe they are migraines. But if they are, they are still triggered and complicated by muscle strain and stress. 

My guess is this:poor posture + old tennis injury + carrying my stress in my neck and shoulders = muscle tension. Muscle tension travels down the arm, down the back, up the neck, to my head, etc. Somewhere in there, some nerves start firing that send the pain all over. When I say they are one-sided headaches, they aren’t just one side of my head – I can have pain on one entire side of my body. The firing nerves inflame my sinus cavities/nasal passages/face. The muscle tension wires up my jaw and hurts my ear. Sometimes, this turns into a full-fledged, nausea+aura migraine, but it starts with the muscles.

Not a sinus polyp or a dust allergy or a brain malfunction or an infection.

Just a muscle.

So I’ve gotten better at noticing when things are getting worse and trying to prevent the headache from spreading. I don’t carry heavy bags on stressful days or walk to work, or even to the train sometimes. I only work one 12 hour day a week (I’m not sure I’ve gone a single 12 hour day without starting to get some kind of headache). If my shoulder is hurting when I get home, I lay down with a heating pad or an ice pack. If my shoulder is hurting during the day, I slap on an IcyHot patch and take an Excedrin right away, before it gets out of control. Lately, I’ve noticed “flare ups” from typing too much in a certain position, so I try new ones. I go to bed early if I’m not feeling well.

Pay Attention.

This is still the weirdest physical thing that has ever happened to me and I have yet to read about a single other person with similar symptoms, and this is one of the reasons I was quizzing people about chiropractic care in the first place.

But during the past three of four years, I’ve gained some control over my health, without the help of doctors. I used to be at work with a headache, unable to focus on anything at all, and just cry. Cry because I was in pain, cry because I was frustrated, cry because I just felt like a hopeless, unwell person.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

So I’m writing this oppressively long blog post not so I can gross out my friends and family with all of this overly detailed medical history and other assorted TMI. I’m writing this so that maybe somebody will Google some combination of symptoms that they’ve spent the last months Googling, looking for some single other person who isn’t quite “sick” but can’t get a hold of their health and as much as they’d like them to, doctors just aren’t helping?

Here I am.

I’m not 100% healed, I’m not 100% perfect, but I am well.

 P.S. Get enough sleep.

May 22, 2011

to-cook list

Last night I realized that I had quite the to-do list for today.

More like a to-cook list, actually.

Good thing I like it.

A lot of work, but the kind of work that comes with ready (tasty) rewards.

Sunday is a good day to spend in the kitchen.

May 21, 2011

Summer Reading List – 2011

Those Books I Should Really Get Around to Reading

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Birds of America by Lorrie Moore

Books By Authors coming to Summer Institute

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

Sarah Dessen Books I Want to Re-read

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

Adult Non-fiction Titles

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller

Bossypants by Tina Fey

The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert

That New YA Everyone’s Talking About That I Didn’t Have Time to Read

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Now that I Have an iPod… Some Audio Books

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The Pigman and Me by Paul Zindel

Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt

May 20, 2011

questions of the day

What does it mean to be focused?

What does it mean to be disciplined?

What does it mean to be committed?

What does it mean to be prolific?

Some ideas…

1. Able to stay singularly attentive to a specific task for a period of time.

2. Consistent in execution of a task, accepting no or few excuses.

3. Invested in the outcome of a task and using focus and discipline to achieve the best outcome possible.

4. Able to repeat that task over a long period of time with increasingly better outcomes.

May 17, 2011

what we talk about when we talk about young adult lit: YA in the New York Times

I love it when the New York Times publishes articles on children’s literature.

No, really! I do!

Most of the time, these articles are somewhat… um… problematic. Booksellers, librarians, teachers, bloggers and other Children’s Literature People threw themselves into a tizzy when the NYT talked about the death of picturebooks. When the mainstream media gets a hold of OUR literature, the claws always come out: something is always misrepresented, there is always some commentary to be made.

But normal, non-Children’s Literature People step in the fray, as well. I just wrote a rousing really awful paper on Julie Just’s 2009 article, “The Problem with Parents in YA.” Again, the article was problematic in and of itself – I spent almost 2,000 words examining those intricate problems two weeks ago – but what I found fascinating was the COMMENTS section. In case you don’t feel like clicking links, I’ll share with you the top comment on this article

I’m an old, old, person. And I don’t read young adult novels. To me, little can be more boring than a story designed for a child. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

And that right there is why I love when the New York Times publishes articles on children’s literature, and why I love studying it and am glad I am in this program and not some random other English MA program:

There is something about children’s literature, specifically,  that gets under everyone’s skin,

and inspires EVERYONE to share their unexamined comments, opinions, prejudices, and random opinions.

Even if their response to a thoughtful, albeit slightly misguided article is  the ever-useful, unapologetic observation that

“those books are boring.”

That is just a fascinating impulse to me. Compare these articles and responses to, say, a random book review for a new “literary” adult title by any unnamed author, or perhaps an article talking about classic literature. Nobody feels a need to jump into the conversation – they leave the literary discussion to the experts. Everyone assumes that the author of said article knows more about that kind of literature than they do. If the NYT posts an article about War and Peace, most people haven’t read it, or read it under duress, and aren’t interested enough to speak up. There’s also an unspoken understanding that just because you’ve READ War and Peace does not make you an expert on Russian Literature. You haven’t read War and Peace enough, read it in the right way, read enough other Russian Literature to speak about it.

There is something about children’s literature that makes EVERYONE feel like they are an expert.

This has various implications for the legitimacy or the perception of the study of children’s literature, but I love it. I love it! It is so INTERESTING to see these conversations going on in a public forum, and it’s a helluva nerdy-good-time watching everyone reveal themselves when they open their mouths.

The flavor of the NYT week is Lisa Belkin’s review of two new young adult novels about teen dating abuse.

Ms. Belkin opens her article with this little doozy:

“The purpose of young adult literature is often twofold: to tell a story, and to send a message, usually in the form of a much-needed lesson.”

Which, even reading it for the third or fourth time now incites the same reaction in me:

“Oh…… honey……”

There is so much going on, even in that first line, that is just ASKING for the Children’s Literature People to rally their forces. I really like Ms. Belkin’s Parenting Blog – I think it’s smart and relevant. But this goes to show – there is something about children’s literature that makes even smart, relevant people make unexamined, unsupported statements IN THE OPENING LINES OF AN ESSAY.

Can you imagine an article talking about Jonathan Franzen or Jennifer Egan’s new works opening with “The purpose of adult literature is often twofold: to tell a story, and to send a message?”

First of all, nobody ASSUMES that adult literature needs to HAVE a purpose, eh?

And, NOBODY would assume that even if there was a purpose, it would be to “send a message,” unless it’s some kind of religious or political propaganda, right?


The article rolls out, assumption after assumption after assumption. In the first three paragraphs alone, Ms. Belkin seems to believe that:

  • Parents’ perceptions of the contents of a young adult novel are important to the discussion of the genre. (Parents appear in the article immediately after that zinger of a first line)
  •  Teen books don’t appeal to adults. (Although she has at least that Julie Just commenter on her side…)
  • Teens like young adult fiction because it doesn’t appeal to adults.
  • Good young adult books do MORE than tell a story and send a message, but it is implied that they must ALSO do both of those things.
  • Bad young adult books feel like “after-school” specials.
  • “Where ‘Bitter End’ and ‘Stay’ fall short is more a reflection of the pitfalls of the genre than the talents of their authors,” seems to imply that even great, talented authors would have trouble writing a TRULY great young adult novel because the genre REQUIRES that AWFUL message to be there.

Correct me if I’m off base, but I think Ms. Belkin’s central thesis is that YA lit requires both STORY and MESSAGE, but that somehow, these two novels she examines (Stay by Deb Caletti and Bitter End by Jennifer Brown) fail to do either well because the story gets in the way of a clear message and the message gets in the way of good characters and plot.

Two of the more popular responses to this article are from other young adult authors – Sarah Ockler and Bennett Madison – although I’m sure other Children’s Literature People will get their own 2 cents in soon enough.

Ockler and Madison’s beef is the assumption that young adult literature must have a MESSAGE.

Literature should be literature. Stories just stories. Nobody should try to impose a moral meaning on a text, nobody should expect there to be one, nobody should examine a book in terms of its “message” or judge a book on the quality of said message.

But I find even THAT to be another ASSUMPTION.

Perhaps slightly more examined than Belkin’s rampant assumptions (oh, that first line… you were just ASKING for it, Lisa!), but still an assumption.

I counter your arguments, Belkin, and your counter-arguments, Ockler and Madison with this genius piece by the one-and-only M. T. Anderson…

who surely needs his assumptions to be examined as well.

The central thesis of this post?

This is a never ending cycle and it will never cease to engage me.

There is something about children’s literature that gets everyone involved.

And I’d like to figure out what that something is.

May 16, 2011

I wish…

…… that my boyfriend would want to see Bridesmaids with me.

…… that we would win at trivia again tomorrow so we could start a TRIVIA WINNING STREAK!

…… that Sarah Dessen books didn’t have to END. (Seriously. I always put them down with 20 or so pages left so I can deny that fact.)

…… that my roooooommate would come home.

I know it’s not Phoenix, but it’s not THAT cold!

…… that I could be in Michigan RightNow.

…… that the sun would come out once in awhile.

…… that lunch tasted good with coffee.

…… that my still-working-30-hours-a-week  pseudo-vacation would last


May 12, 2011

oh, honey honey – an update

I can’t believe it’s almost been a month since I posted this really long thing about cutting back/cutting out sugar from my diet!

Finals, maaaan. They just do me in.

But allow me to update you on my progress/lack thereof.


I really succeeded at

Operative #1: Reformat Breakfast.

  • I have eaten zero bowls of sugary oatmeal/yogurt/cereal
  • I have eaten one piece of honey & toast (but that wasn’t for breakfast, so it doesn’t count)
  • I have eaten zero pancakes or cookie-based breakfast-meals.

And it’s really working for me. No complaints.

A side-bonus: I’ve been thinking a lot more critically about my breakfast foods and adjusting the how and when and what according to what will best suit my needs.

Breakfast mostly equals: egg sandwich + banana + peanut butter

Last week, when I was staring down 7, 9, 12 hour days, I’d do an egg sandwich with 3 scrambled eggs and either choke down the banana (twss) then or take it with me to eat at work when the hunger hits around 9:30 or 10:00.

Now, I’m doing some going-to-work-late days. If I want to go for a run in the a.m., I will sometimes eat my banana and peanut butter on a slice of toast right away, and do 2 fried eggs on the other slice of bread.

Same food, rearranged.

Lately, I haven’t even been craving the banana (twss!), so if I’m not too hungry, I’ll skip it all together.


I have really REALLY rocked-the-socks-off

Operative Two: Quit the DoubleTallTwoPumpMocha Habit!

Thank you, thank you. You are all so kind.

After that first plain-old-latte, I just haven’t gone back. Yeah, it sucks and it’s pretty gross, but it’s not too gross and it does get the job done.

Side bonus: I now feel more comfortable drinking coffee places other than Starbucks. A latte (two shots in a small) is fairly straightforward. I am no longer Long Annoying Order Girl.

I also think that if I was to order my old standby, I would probably think it much too sweet, which is exactly the result I was hoping for.

(P.S.: Exception: Frappuccino Happy Hour. But it will be over soon!)


Operative Three: Stop munching on sweet crap because you have nothing better to do/eat

……has been difficult

This is partly finals related, which I’m okay with. Finals week is not really conducive to things like “buying groceries properly” or “cooking meals properly” or “exercising restraint of any kind.”

So while I wasn’t being too strict with myself over it, I noticed some weaknesses, including but not limited to:

  • Free, celebratory baked goods
  • Free, easily grabbable, individually wrapped chocolate candies
  • Alcoholic beverages

It’s hard to say no to a tasty cupcake or cookie that someone brings into your office or classroom. Harder still if you haven’t eaten for a few hours.

The candy? Candy usually isn’t a big problem for me. I will chalk this one up to “stress.”

As much as I’d like to think that having a Disaronno and Coke is okay if the Coke is actually some kind of fancy, locally brewed Cherry Cream Cola from City Feed… well… it’s still got 20+ grams of sugar.

So this is where I will focus my energy for the time being:

1. Remembering not to be drunk+stupid and resisting the Siren Song of the Disaronno, the margarita, the vodka and cranberry.

2. Saying “no” to the slippery slope that is the BakedGood (once you start eating, then you start baking at home, and then? Crack cocaine)

3. Filling my diet with tasty, sugar-free things so I don’t get too hungry or resort to buying a 2 dollar pineapple yogurt (18 grams of sugar?!?) from the school cafeteria dinner. Like today.

I haven’t noticed any significant “feeling better”-ness since this month began, which I’m taking as a good sign – my sugar consumption is not super out of control. I have definitely become more sensitive to what it feels like to have TOO much sugar, which makes saying no easier.

I’m very proud of myself regarding Operatives 1 and 2. I’m definitely feeling a bit of the healthiness “snow ball effect” going on – when you start to adjust your habits, other things shift around your choices. You are more attentive. You are more likely to change some more.

I like it.

May 11, 2011

it is over, it is over

I have a love thing and a hate thing with the 16 week schedule, this academic undercurrent that pulls me from month to month.

I’ve definitely had worse semesters, but their endings never felt this triumphant. I worked on my last paper until shortly after 3:30 on Monday, walked with my roommate to Starbucks for Frappuccino Happy Hour. From there, a small celebration for our comrades graduating with MAss and MFAs. Three glasses of champagne, then straight to the bar, a mess of us, delirious and drunk, squeezed into a hallway together and happy happy happy on a Monday night.

I had to work in the morning, but you’re only young and finishing a semester of school once, right?

Surely I felt this relaxed last December, last August, last May, but this feeling – relief, contentedness, respite – feels foreign. I probably use this particular metaphor too much but it feels like I’ve just crawled out of a cave. The sun is too bright, my bones a little achy, everything looks weird and I don’t know where to go next, what to do.

What DO I do when there is no school to do?

It’s been more than two years since I was 100% sure of myself,

since I started to leave one life and enter another.

This is only a temporary respite – a few weeks of work, then a trip home. A few weeks back to work some more, then add classes to the mix. Then it’s August, then it’s the fall.

I’m just now starting to feel like things will be okay. That my life will still be there, even when things get crazy, that I will still be there. That I can find a meaningful, enjoyable existence no matter what life throws at me.

Is there a stable me left behind this graduate student to fall back on?

I feel like there is, but I don’t know who she is yet, what she looks like.

And since the anxiety of moving/adjusting/constantly-going-going-going is starting to pass,

for the first time in over two years,

I am kind of excited to meet her.

August 2009 – April 2011