Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So this is the new year

Oi vey, if I tried to go over all the things I have learned/done this year this post would never end. I'm having trouble even reliving everything. A year ago I was home on the couch, watching the Travel Channel with my dad and fighting my very first UTI (real special, I know). Not the best start to 2008.

In February Jim and I had our two-year anniversary, and I found out I was headed for Delaware in the summer. The next month we had what I call a hiccup. It was - bad. Maybe it didn't have to happen exactly as it did, but our relationship needed a serious come-to-Jesus moment. It wasn't easy to work to where we are now, but I think it was worth it.

April, May ... not a lot there; I spent a lot of time worrying about Delaware and Jim's move to D.C (I started Pratfalls, though, which has become more than I ever anticipated). I spent a steamy afternoon in early June packing all his kitchen things in newspaper. He left, van nearly dragging the ground, and I walked home an inky, teary mess. But I survived long enough to take my very first flight three days later. June, July, and the beginning of August were spent at the University of Delaware, where I learned about disasters and had several crises about The Rest of My Life. I was also lucky enough to visit Jim a few times, discovering a city I can't wait to know better.

I spent the last three weeks of August vegging out and doing preliminary work on my thesis. September marked 22 years for me. In October I went to Miami and presented the paper Dr. T and I had labored over for far too long. In November I got to see Jim again, and a week later I started work at Sears. December I spent working, obsessing over my thesis, and getting very tired of Christmas music.

Along the way I picked up about 10 pounds. It actually happened pretty quickly; between June and September. I discovered that I love ellipticals - 35 minutes and the endorphins start flowing. I'm in a better place with food; it's still a daily fight but it makes me less tired. I've come to enjoy cooking, especially when I do it with someone else. Liking my body will take more time, but I'll make it there. I think.

Happy New Year, y'all. Remember: "'I live in hope,' said the priest to the princess." And a big cookie to anyone who can tell me where that phrase comes from.

Baking - not for the weak

My mother loves German chocolate cake. Last year she made one for her own birthday. This got me thinking - surely, Lisa, you can do something to change this situation.

Two hours ago I began concocting my bastard German chocolate cupcakes. Holy crap, it was a lot of effort. The recipes I used are courtesy of the FatFree Vegan Kitchen and can be found here and here. Yep, that's what you think it is in the cake batter.

They're decent. I'm tired. And rather floury.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Early New Year's

There's one resolution I have to make and keep this year. I need to stop picking at my nails.

It's embarrassing to admit, but I'm 22 years old and have the fingernails of an eight-year-old with generalized anxiety (so, really, me at age 8). I can't remember a time I didn't pick at my nails. I don't bite them much, except when a hangnail needs to go (I'm disgusting myself just talking about this). But when I don't have anything to do, my nails are constantly picking and peeling at one another.

I was really conscious of this the day I interviewed for Teach for America. I shook a lot of hands, and my nerves the day before had reduced my fingernails considerably. I'm not saying that nice nails will get me hired somewhere, but they'd be better than the raggedy messes I have now. And if every media outlet is to be believed, I'm going to need all the help I can get in this job market.

Two very different things

1. I had a WONDERFUL weekend. Not only did I get to see (and talk to and kiss) Jim, I got to spend time with his family. They're so warm and welcoming; I think they might actually like me. I used to be terrified of other peoples' families. I'm still terrified of my first boyfriend's mother. Once she came into Kroger while I was working in the deli, and my sister, who worked in the photo lab, called me and told me. I hid in the cooler - that's how scared I was. But Jim's mother is nothing like that, and neither are his siblings and father.

2. The only thing more terrifying than that woman is my thesis. I have a shit ton of work to do. I can do it, it's just not going to be particularly fun. But that knowledge doesn't keep my stomach from knotting up each time I think about it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gluggy pudding

Eating what I want at our Christmas gathering = good, right? For the ED maybe, for my belly not so much. My guts aren't used to so much rich food (ie, a shit ton of sweets), and my stomach felt like a rock. I went home, took some pepto and napped for an hour. I feel much less gross now. Believe it or not, the rest of my family had Cincinnati chili for a late dinner. Their intestines are much hardier than mine, apparently.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yo ho ho ho

Happy holidays, y'all. I don't have to go back to work until after the 28th. Friday I'm going to visit Jim's family, where there will hopefully be no Muzak or slow cookers. I'll have to warn them to hide it.

UPDATE: Presents! Family tradition holds that we open presents from each other tonight, and then the kids get gifts from "Santa" tomorrow morning. I got a sweet hat my sister made, a Whole Foods gift card, and a pretty cobalt track jacket.

With some (rummy) cocoa in my belly, I hope I'll get some kind of pleasant visions dancing in my head tonight.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

That was bad

It just took me two and a half hours to make a journey that usually takes 30 minutes.

The roads were bad earlier; they were fine by the time I went home. Ice-wise, that is. There were just so many cars. Every resident of Brown County (believe me, I've been casting aspersions on their characters all evening) decided to leave his or her shopping to the last minute. I didn't go over 30 miles an hour the whole way home.

And then I got stuck on my own road. I would have made it, too, if I hadn't stopped to see if my neighbor, who had gone off the road, was okay (he was). No good deed goes unpunished. It took my parents, a neighbor, and a shit ton of road salt to get me up the hill and carefully, slowly into the driveway.

I'm tired. I didn't eat dinner at the mall (good work there, sport) and so was starving the whole way home. I got the shakes once I was inside, and I don't know if it was from hunger or stress.

Ugghghghghgg. That was so frustrating. At least everyone I know is okay.

Monday, December 22, 2008

To travelers

To all my far-flung friends who are returning to Ohio for Christmas:

Welcome home. It's five degrees.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A weakness

I know, I know, liking certain foods is not a "weakness." I've bared my soul about my enormous sweet tooth and am living without shame.

But damn, there is this food that I feel like I could eat until it makes me sick. The anorexia that lingers in my head is sick just thinking about Monkey Munch, also known as Puppy Chow. But oh my stars, that stuff is delicious. It makes sense: chocolate+peanut butter+powdered sugar is a no-brainer. It's just. So. Good.

And it would be considered a very, very "bad" food ... if such foods existed. And they don't. Right? At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Too much reality

Dear self:

You are not going to solve all the issues facing you tonight.

Yes, there is a lot on your plate. That stopped being funny a while ago, didn't it? But you are an intelligent, hardworking, capable person. You will finish your thesis, you will get a job, and you will move to D.C. You will get to see Jim next week. You will have a wonderful Christmas with your family. About that - your weight will not balloon. It hasn't these past few weeks, has it? You're fine.

One thing at a time. Remember everyone you have in your corner. Remember everything you've gained and all you have to offer. People like you because you are worth liking.

Now go enjoy some wine and cheese with your sisters. And watch a movie.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I'd guess the man was in his seventies. He was looking over the Kitchenaid mixers when I asked how he was doing today.

"Fine, just fine. Do you know Jesus?"

Blink. "Not personally." Honestly, I didn't mean to be such a smartass. I blame my parents.

"You know, you really should. Christmas is coming! Bless you, miss," he said.

That time I managed to swallow the sass ("Is he on Facebook yet?"). But it didn't end there. Thirty minutes later the man returns, creeping up on me and making me jump.

"I was walking through the mall and kept thinking I had something to give you. I looked all over and then God told me to put my hand in my left pocket and there it was!" He presented a business card that read "JESUS: He is coming to take me to Heaven. I want YOU to come with me!"

What could I do? I smiled and said thank you. Four years ago this would have driven me nuts. At that point I was very much The Heretic among my fellow Sunday school students. The instructors would make a statement about something controversial and then directly ask me, "Lisa, what do you think?" I grew pretty damn hostile as a result.

Though I'm still a smartass, I've mellowed a bit. The petition at church yesterday was different - it was mean-spirited and exclusionary. The man was doing something that he felt would truly benefit me. At one point I might have been immature enough to make fun of him; and sure, it could be construed as arrogant and assuming. But I think he really wanted me to find whatever happiness he had, and even if I disagree, I can't mock him for that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My big sister is home! I'm quite excited. Last night we yakked over the Woodchuck ciders I bought as a treat (she and I both love them). She's not feeling great at the moment, but hopefully she'll rally and we can play Scrabble later tonight.

My younger sisters continue to amaze me. Not just for the length of time they spend in the bathroom, but for the interesting people they're becoming. It's so strange to look at them and realize they're seventeen - I remember pretty vividly what my life was like at that age. Some mornings I wake up and still think I'm sixteen or seventeen. I'm doing my damndest to tell them that they're amazing; even though I think they have fewer self-esteem issues than I did at that age, it's still something they need to hear. Jim has a seventeen-year-old sister who's pretty cool herself. Hmm, I wonder if our families are ever going to meet, and if so, if they're going to get along. Jim's family has always been so warm to me. My own family is pretty warm as well, so I think it'd be okay.

My brother is home as well. Joe's a year younger than me, and he amazes me, too. After I moved to OU, he seemed to grow up in an eyeblink. He's more mature and put-together than I am, plus his business education is somewhat (okay, hugely) more practical than mine. Of all five of us, my parents are probably counting on him the most. And he's so fun to talk to.

Frustrating as home can be, I'm so grateful to have these people around.

Monday, December 15, 2008


1. My first customer of the day: "Your hands are orange."

2. Me: "Hi, how are you doing?"
Male customer #s 4, 9, 10, 13, 23, 24, 25, 31, 40, 42 ... "Just fine how are you."
My breasts: Um, she's up a little bit.

3. Female customer: "I got this shopping pass in the mail that's good from the 14th through the 16th. I bought these items on the 11th. Can I get the discount now?"
Me: "Um, no."

4. Male customer: "blah blah blah, I just bought a house with an annuity, blah blah blah Freddie Mac blah blah, don't have to worry about that blah blah, I have a double fireplace blah blah blaaaaahhhh."
Me: Blink. Blink. Nod. Blink. Nod.
Co-worker: (after customer has left): "It's like you're wearing a sign."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookies that calm

Today I got all het up by something at Mass. This happens - I only go because it means a lot to my mother. For those of you who haven't experienced a Catholic Mass, there's a bit where a lector, the priest or a deacon reads petitions. These are big-ticket prayers, like for leaders of the church, world peace, etc. The prayer is read, and then the congregation responds, "Lord, hear our prayer."

At the parish here, the petitions come from a variety of sources - the archdiocese, the staff, and sometimes parishioners. So I don't know who came up with this gem:
"That we strive to remember Christ not be concerned about political correctness and resort to trite replacements like 'happy holidays."
I was thoroughly peeved. When I say "happy holidays," I mean it. I don't give a damn what you do this month - unwrap presents, light candles, roast a goat, or dance naked around a pine tree. It's not that I'm worried about offending someone, necessarily; I just like to be inclusive. If someone beats me to it and says "Merry Christmas," I say "thank you." Mom said that the church has a vested interest in promoting Christmas, and I suppose they do. She also said that the majority of people that purchase toasters from me have trees in their living rooms, not menorahs. That's probably true, but it's not the point. Don't assume someone who says "Happy Holidays" does so because they're soldiers in the imaginary war on Christmas.

But then I had the most wonderful afternoon baking cookies with my family. Sure, they were Christmas cookies; again, that's not the point. I got to spend time with wonderful people and managed to eat myself silly with cookies - and I didn't keep track. For the first time this month, I actually felt happy about the holidays. So now I'll be able to say it with even greater sincerity.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A request

To all recording artists:

If you are considering making a holiday album, I beg you to make that decision very carefully. I understand that Christmas and Hannukah tunes are rich in memory and emotion. I understand that "O Holy Night" shows off your chops like nothing else. But please, please remember that someday, millions of retail employees will be forced to listen to your songs, along with other dismal covers by aging pop stars, for eight hours a day, five days a week (at least). Please think of them and their ragged sanity.

If you must proceed with this endeavor, then please believe me when I say that the world does not need another version of "The Little Drummer Boy." I don't care how jaunty or jazzy you try to make it. That song is done.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm thinking it's a no

The more I think about it, the less I feel like I have a chance at Teach for America. It comes down to the personal interview. The woman asked me what would be the deal-breaker after I had started teaching - what thing or event would make me quit. I told her that if my work was ruining the relationships that mean the most to me, that I would quit. It would be an awful, wrenching decision, but I'm not willing to destroy the things that make me most happy. I don't know if I would be a decent teacher if I were miserable, and I would resent the experience if it made me that way.

Plus, I think the whole D.C.-or-bust thing will count against me. Something like 97% of applicants get placed in one of their highly preferred regions, but most applicants have more than one such region. I like the city and there are people (one in particular) there who make me very happy.

At least things with my thesis have turned around. Now only if this Christmas-muzak-induced headache will go away, it'll all be gravy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well that's done

The interview is behind me. The morning session went fine, actually - I volunteered to teach my lesson first, just to have it done. I'm really glad I didn't choose to teach the difference between a simile and a metaphor, because another girl covered that. If I try to be objective, I think mine was one of the better lessons. I spoke too quickly, but that always happens.

The group activity was awkward, because all of us were concerned with how we presented ourselves - no one wanted to seem too pushy or too quiet. The individual problem-solving "quiz" was okay.

The final personal interview was the hardest part. I think she (my interviewer) was frustrated by the lack of internet access, which kept her from seeing my resume. For whatever reason, we just never seemed to connect. I felt like everything I said was just hanging there, dangling with all its blunderousness on display.

So who knows. I'm not going to obsess over it, and I'm going to work on other applications while I'm home. I'll know by January 20th if TFA worked out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I can't resist a good meme. And lord knows I need to stop obsessing about thesis/interview/impending adulthood. This one is via a certain free human being.

3 things I was doing 10 years ago (I was 12):
1. Getting up ridiculously early to make the school bus, which arrived promptly at 6:30 A.M.
2. Attaining record levels of social awkwardness.
3. Entering a blessedly brief love affair with silver glitter eyeshadow.

3 things on my to-do list today:
1. Go to work.
2. Call professor to have mini-freakout.
3. Work out.

3 things I love about my [boyfriend]:
1. He challenges me.
2. We have amazing conversations. They can be amazingly deep or amazingly absurd.
3. I can only pick three things? He’s helped us stay sane and together through our now almost-six-months of long-distancing.

3 jobs I have had:
1. Cake decorator and deli clerk.
2. Research assistant.
3. Sears sales associate (small appliances).

3 movies I have seen more than once:
1. The three original Star Wars
2. The Last of the Mohicans
3. Garden State. You know you did too.

3 places I have lived:
1. Pleasant Ridge, Ohio
2. Athens, Ohio
3. Bethel, Ohio

3 places I have visited:
1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Cocoa Beach, Florida
3. Washington, D.C.

3 T.V. shows I watch:
1. The Office
2. 30 Rock
3. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

3 things you may not know about me:
1. I’m much less vain about my hair since I cut it.
2. I cannot stand olives. I try them periodically, but I just can’t make myself like them.
3. I answer to Lisa, Little Howie, and Lele

Doubts and worries

Sometimes when I talk to Jim about something that's on my mind I wind up more confused than before. Our conversation last night made me realize there's a lot of thinking I need to do before I decide what to do after I graduate.

Before the TFA thing presented itself, I was planning to work for a non-profit for a few years, then go back to school at some point to get an MA or an MPH. That's still a viable option. With TFA, if I make it in and turn out to a) enjoy teaching and b) be a good teacher, I can get my MA through the program and continue on. If I don't like teaching, the experience still is a gold star on my resume. I don't know if it'll necessarily help me get a job in non-profits, except maybe education-related ones.

I don't know. Both of those routes sound like something that could be good for me. I want two things out of my career: 1) to be able to help people and 2) to be happy doing it. Of course, there are a million ways to help people and a thousand things that go into making me happy. I want to live in D.C. with Jim and keep growing this relationship we've got. I want to be able to have some time to indulge my hobbies (earring-making, reading, going out, watching Lifetime movies with wine and cheese and Jim). I'd like to work with like-minded people. I need a decent salary and benefits, especially since living in D.C. is hella more expensive than living in BUFU Ohio.

At the moment, though, my current employment calls. I will think on this hard for the next couple of days.

PS - the interview is tomorrow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yesterday and Today

Yesterday was exactly what I needed. Surprisingly, I get my weekends off - I work early on weekdays, and the little high-school scrats work weekends and evenings. Because of this at-times-frustrating situation, I was able to go shopping with my mom, my cousin, and three of my mother's sisters. We started off with breakfast at Bob Evans, which meant a ginormous bowl of oatmeal for me. It carried me through a good four hours of shopping, during which I was quite virtuous and spent mostly for others (and a little for myself).

I can't get over how fortunate I am to be so close to my family, both physically and relationally. It's not that we can't have a good knock-down fight now and again, but such events are pretty rare. They're such good-hearted people. I'm only bummed that my sisters weren't able to go - I know Kathy would love Whole Foods and they'd both love Anthropologie (even if the prices might cause an infarction).

And the cherry on top? I got my hair cut today. I will not be a shaggy puppy at my TFA interview. I will be poised, self-confident, and ballsy. But nicely so.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I just wrote a very whiny, self-pitying post and deleted it. I hate that in the middle of so many wonderful things - my family, the holidays - I dwell on negatives. I'm losing sleep over my thesis. I'm so worried about my Teach for America interview. Even now that I'm back on my meds I dig myself into these anxiety-holes and that's all I can see.

I could be in DC right now, sitting at a "banquet" at Medieval Times in celebration of a friend's birthday and Ph.D. I could be drinking a flagon of mead and cheering jousters. I could be sitting next to Jim. Instead I'm snowed in at home - on my day off. The last indignity? I couldn't even get my hair cut today.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Still there

I haven't been posting much about my anorexia. I'm not sure why, because parts of it still feature very strongly in my daily life. There are definitely still "safe" and "unsafe" foods. There were fat-free brownies sitting around my house for three days and I didn't have a single one. Chips, fries, cake - nope. Mom remarked how much I like to eat on a schedule, which is true. But there are quite a few more foods I consider "safe" now. I'm more flexible with my lunches - I kind of have to be. My oatmeal breakfasts are an inexact science, as I don't precisely measure the things I add (cranberry sauce, peanut butter, etc). I'll have one or two crackers while I'm making dinner. I'm just looser about things.

That's translated to some changes in my body. I'm not imagining it; I'm definitely bigger now. The boobs are back, a little bit of butt. I can't feel as many bones as I once could. I never was an hourglass shape before anorexia, and when I was too thin I looked like a bisected rectangle. Now I'm just a rectangle - again. My face isn't gaunt. Some of these things are good. Some are not - I cannot stand my stomach. It's not concave anymore, true, but it's not flat or washboard. It bothers me. I still, still, still catch myself comparing myself to others. I'm doing so much better on the outside, but my head is still a mess sometimes.

So I don't know.

Recognition and the joys of oatmeal

So yesterday one person did recognize me - in the hesistant, "is that you?" way. But at least it's evidence that I haven't completely changed my face.

Many other bloggers have posted about the wonders of oatmeal, but I feel the need to add to them. Oatmeal is saving my butt now that I'm on my feet all day. There's no way my former breakfast of energy bar+fruit would be able to carry me from 8:30 to 1:00, but oatmeal+fruit+peanut butter does. Stove-top oatmeal is miles better than microwave pouches, too. And I love it because Jim was the first one to really cook it for me. On our last weekend, we pretty much slept until noon and then ate a giant pot of oatmeal for lunch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More about body image

Just when I thought I knew what I look like ... apparently I don't. Since I started work at Sears, I've seen four people with whom I went to high school. Each one of them has looked me straight in the face and not recognized me. I wear a nametag, people. I know it's been some time since we've seen each other, but I recognize them without any trouble. Does losing 50 pounds and gaining back 20 change the whole shape of your face? I guess it's possible. My hair is dramatically shorter, too. But what about Facebook, people? There are a few pictures of new-haired me floating in the ether.

Then again, it's not like I want to dwell too much on high school. At least I know I'll amaze everyone at the reunion ... or just confuse the hell out of them.

Speaking of hair: he's baaaaacccckk!

Monday, December 1, 2008


I'm trying as goddamn hard as I can to be grateful for my job, boring as it is. I'm trying so hard to make things work for my thesis and it is just. Not. Happening. It's the one thing I need to do to graduate and it just isn't coming together, and I don't know what to do.

At least I can sell a fucking coffeemaker.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Squash Story

I cooked a spaghetti squash tonight after being inspired by Kath Eats Real Food. The instructions she lists are really as easy as they seem, and the outcome is delicious. It's fun to scrape out the strings, too.

But there's more - and more evidence that food is more than just fuel. When I brought the squash home, Dad said he remembered having that as a kid. Tonight, he topped some squash with some jarred pasta sauce, took a bite, and looked at me. "Lisa, I haven't had this since my dad was alive." Now, my dad is not the most emotionally open person you'll meet; "gruff" is a good word to describe him. The way he said that made me pause - I could tell he enjoyed the squash for more than the taste. I felt really good about that.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Boredom is draining

You get a rush every so often, but for the most part retail is boring as hell. I'm not used to just standing around at work. At Kroger, there's always someone at the deli counter, always markdowns to be done. As my boss was fond of saying, "if you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean." At Sears it's just ... stand around. I would walk through my department making an idiot of myself, saying hello and how are you and can I help you, because I was so goddamn bored. Besides me, there are three boys in my department: two seventeen-year-olds and a sixteen-year-old. The sixteen-year-old is all right, but good lord. I forgot what an alien breed teenage boys are.

I hope I'll have more energy when I get used to the schedule. In the meantime there's a tree to decorate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Did you find everything you were looking for?

That's a somewhat existential question for a cashier to ask.

Aside from the early start, work wasn't so bad today. Only two people swore at me. The fellow who worked with me for most of the morning said I was doing "really really great." The vast majority of the people that I rang up were indifferent or actually in good spirits.

After the shift, I was tired and more than a little peevish ... and then I got to have lunch with my sister and two of our dearest friends. All I had was salad and chicken noodle soup, but it really hit the spot. Getting to see two wonderful people helped my mood as well. I bought some cheapo and rather ugly jewelry to de- and re-construct. I've been inspired by a fellow blogger to expand beyond the pog earrings.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I felt kind of sick most of today. I ate more than normal, of course, but this wasn't the regular oh-I-ate-a-lot full feeling; it was pain. The food was great - I mean, my grandmother's stuffing really can't be topped - but I think that whole gastric-slowing issue kicked in again. For readers who might not be as familiar with the effects of anorexia: when your body is in starvation mode, it grabs on to any food it gets and doesn't let it ... out. Yet another reason why recovery is so hard.

There were plenty of good things about today - I should focus on those, and not on the leaden-stomach feeling. Animals were a surprisingly significant portion of the conversation. After dinner, we played trivia games - with a buzzer set. My family is such a funny, interesting, and exceedingly good-hearted bunch of people.

My job is among the many things for which I'm thankful. But ... 5 AM? Really? The good thing is I'll be out of there by 1-ish, so I'll have some day to myself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I feel heavy. My feet, my head, my legs, my arms. And especially my belly. I'm trying so, so hard to get those thoughts out of my head, but I just can't seem to shake them.

I also need to get some motivation and do some of the mountains of work that need doing. If I can't do thesis work at the moment, I can at least work on a final draft of my summer paper. Or that lesson thing.

My sisters are watching one of those wedding shows. I seriously do NOT want a big fancy wedding, whenever that time comes. Walking down the aisle was not something I fantasized about as a kid. Simplicity is the keyword. I want an inexpensive dress that makes me feel pretty, I want my family and close friends there, and I want to have a fun, easygoing reception with a quality open bar and good food. Actually, I'd be okay with eloping, except my mother would be really hurt. I don't want a diamond (unless it's one of those nifty lab-created ones). I do not want a dress that costs more than my classes, I do not want an elaborate sit-down dinner with organic truffle-stuffed figs (my sister is a picky eater), I do not want out-of-season orchids from the mountains of Indonesia. I just want people (including me) to have a good time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gee, thanks, WebMD! Part Deux

Kids, this article is a trigger. Just so you know.

This month's helpful holiday hints: "You Gonna Eat That?" Or, How to be an Exercise Bulimic in Time for the Holidays.

Though I guess I'm being a tad hypocritical. I'm not sorry I relaxed and ate what I wanted, but there's almost always anxiety afterward. Jim told me, explicitly, that I look good. I can't even explain how much that means, because he's seen me through a good portion of my recovery. But try as I might, I can't stop the sneaky thoughts, the fears. I'm literally afraid to weigh myself - even though I know, I fucking fucking know, that it's just a fucking number. Food journal? Considering it.

Come on. I'm happier now, there's so much that I can do that I couldn't do while I was restricting (like think clearly and understand jokes). This damn tug-of-war is getting old.


To Every Teacher I've Maligned:

I'm sorry. Your job is hella hard.

Okay, I know what I'm doing at the interview isn't really teaching. If I get into Teach for America, I'll have a subject, a grade level, curricula and learning objectives. I'll have stuff to work with (with which to work - forgive me, I'm thinking about grammar lessons). With this assignment, I can do anything I want, for any grade level. It's too much: the First Amendment or the difference between a simile and a metaphor? Subject and predicate agreement, writing concisely or the 1970s oil embargo?

Part of the problem is that I haven't done this in a long time. College classes were such a wonderful change from what I knew - I didn't have to ask before I went to the bathroom! No one was going to give me detention for gum or a travel mug! Now I have to go back to all those memories and try to dig out the good lessons, the ones that stuck and made sense. Oi.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Don't call on me, don't call on me, don't call on me ...

Yep, back in the real world. I have a face-to-face interview with Teach for America - it's December 11 at UC. I have to read a bunch of articles, dress up pretty (read, "conservative suit"), appear intelligent, and oh, yeah, make up a five minute lesson. And then teach it.

That thud you just heard was the reality check heard round the world. What the flying fuck was I thinking when I applied for this? Sometimes I can't coherently create a sentence - how can I teach a child?

At the same time, it's kind of neat. I can teach anything I want, as long as it's capable of being understood within five minutes. I could talk about a poem (not T.S. Eliot, unfortunately). I could talk about a little-known-but-important historical event. Ooh, grammar! People have said that, in my writing, I'm good at taking complicated concepts and making them easier to understand. And I can bring any kinds of materials I want.

So. Within the next three weeks, here are things I need to do:
1. Prepare for interview.
2. Finish "final draft" of my paper from this summer. My mentor told me I was "pretty much done" when the internship ended this summer, so it just needs a final re-drafting. I shouldn't worry. But I do.
3. Re-ignite thesis progress. Everything was going well, and then it all just ... dried up. Ughhghg, thinking about that makes me regret that second helping of soup.
4. Get in touch with my internship director and work out exactly what I'll be doing.

C'mon, Lisa. Make it fucking work.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


My goodness, what a weekend I have had. Just ... two months is a very long time to go without seeing someone you love. I'm so glad I got to visit - I needed this.

Tomorrow morning I have to rejoin the real world. And I can't sleep.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Going to see Jim today! I have icky pre-flight jitters - not about the actual in-the-air portion, but about getting my boarding pass, going through security, successfully boarding the MARC train at BWI, not losing my bags or my head, etc. However, Jim told me his fireplace is now functional (whether he has a couch yet I still don't know), and there's nothing my cold feet love more than a crackling fire.

Maybe I will make roasted veggie soup for us. I am inordinately proud of myself for that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In the kitchen

I actually made something that involved more than steaming vegetables and adding jarred pasta sauce! Last winter Jim and I made roasted vegetable soup for my sister and our friends, and I thought I'd give it a try tonight. I cut up carrots, parsnips, radishes, a little onion, half a squash, and half a red pepper, tossed them in a little olive oil and some spicy seasoning blend, then stuck them in the oven. It was a little haphazard - I guessed and set the oven at 425 degrees, and the veggies took about an hour to get soft. Then I blended them with some chicken broth and reheated everything.

It was so good! Even my parents liked it - Mom said she never would have tried something like that. I'm pretty proud, if I do say so myself. I had seconds.

Yearbooks again

After looking through old yearbooks yesterday, I wondered what had happened to the ones I was actually in. I found my senior yearbook stuffed in the corner of one of our overflowing bookshelves and paged through it. Volleyball, Drama Club, Academic Team (proud captain and Nerd Extraordinaire), the newspaper - you know, it wasn't all terrible. I'm not saying I want to go back, but there were friendships I had there that I'll always treasure. And hey, how many people can say they wore a fur suit in front of the entire student body?

Once I got over the initial nostalgia, though, I came a slightly uncomfortable realization.

I was not fat. Not. Fat.

My parents were right. My English teacher was right, my math teacher was right, the administrative assistant was right. My ex was right. There was not a damn thing wrong with the way I looked. Why had I hated every picture of me? I have a great smile! Four years of orthodontia was money well spent.

I can't go back and keep myself from developing anorexia. It happened, it's still something I struggle with. But damnit, we have got to stop making weight and our bodies a moral issue. Not everybody goes clinical, I know. But enough shit happens in high school without that additional stressor.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home again

Whew, what a day. I haven't really stopped moving since 9:30, when I turned in my paper. Then I drove home, scarfed lunch, did some quick thesis communication, and went back to the mall for another interview. Ta-da - I got hired! I'll be cashiering in the small appliances section at Sears. So if you're in the market for a stand mixer or a microwave, I'm your girl.

Tomorrow is a free day. My sisters don't have school, so we might do something together. I'll have plenty of time to pack up for Thursday.

In other news, my mom picked up some old yearbooks from the Bethel Historical Society. They're fascinating. This year's book with be the 125th one ever issued! Mom used to complain that she had to put her number on her "jersey" with masking tape, but she never had to wear bloomers like the class of 1923.

She also brought home the school's copy of the 1998-1999 book. Let me just say that I'm so, so glad I'm no longer in high school. Those four years are good for no one.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I'm all a-jumble today:

1. The quarter is just about over. My only sit-down final was at noon, and tomorrow I have to turn in a paper that just needs a conclusion and some editing. Then I zoom back home for another job interview.

2. I'm finally making progress with my thesis. I can't write much more than that, but suffice it to say that "thesis" actually means "big hairy awful life-eating project."

3. At my grandparents' on Sunday, my new healthier/happier self was briefly discussed. And it didn't freak me out, because they know me, it was part of a larger conversation and dangit, they're right. I do look better.

All right, time to get writing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Well, the day certainly didn't begin promisingly. After driving through cold rain to get to my first interview, I was informed that the online system often didn't fully process applications. As a result, there was no one there to conduct my interview. Before I could stop myself I blurted "Are you serious?" like the 14-year-old I am on the inside. I came all the way home this weekend to interview, and this is what happens? I quickly apologized and explained, and the woman I spoke with got me rescheduled for next week.

I made my way to a certain holiday kiosk. I'd spoken with a manager and received an email about open interviews today. The employee I spoke with looked at me like I was from Mars - apparently the email had been sent out by mistake. What's worse - I'd missed the manager by about ten minutes. She gave me his cell number, but said she wasn't sure if he could make it back.

I contemplated chucking it all and going home, but damned if I was leaving without a fair shake. Once I called the guy, my luck started to turn around. He came back and our interview went well - I made him chuckle a few times, and it seemed genuine. I'll know if I have the job in a couple of days. While I was at the mall, I filled out an application for a children's clothing retailer. They're having open interviews on Wednesday.

I made it home and worked on my paper until dinner, then waited anxiously for my Teach for America interview. It went pretty well, I think. My interviewer said that as she typed in my responses, the numbers coming back were "excellent." She said "excellent" a lot, actually; I think it was a verbal tic with her.

So now I just ... wait. But I have next weekend and a trip to D.C. to look forward to. It's been almost two months since I've seen Jim.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is our children learning?

Yesterday I found out I made it through the first round of applicants for Teach for America. My phone interview is tomorrow night at 8:30.

Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it through. The program is selective and a lot of the applicants come from Ivies. I don't know if my essay and personal statement were all that good. I'd waffled for a while about whether or not to apply, and I wound up submitting the morning of the deadline.

I'm trying to think like an economist (thanks, Jim). There are benefits: I'll have a job with health insurance. I'll get to work with students directly. I'm convinced that good schools positively impact the surrounding community. It's like my work with Zienzele - it's not going to fix the system, but it could help the person who will.

There are costs, too, but they don't seem as tangible. Like it or not, I will be a young, white, privileged college graduate traipsing into a situation I neither know nor understand. No wonder there are reports of resentment among existing faculty. I don't want to be Princess Whitey rescuing poor brown children. After two years, I'm out of there - on to bigger and better things. Is there something wrong with that? And would my talents be put to better use trying to fix the system?

Okay, so that last bit was more anthropologist than economist. I'll keep thinking about it, and tomorrow I'll try to bring it up with my interviewer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


This quarter I've been working with a professor in the College of Health and Human Services on something called the Healthy Schools Project. I named it, actually - it was just an amorphous thing we inherited from another prof . Our goal is to help local schools coordinate foodservice staff, parents, administrators, and students in order to improve the nutritional content of school lunches.

This has, at times, made me uncomfortable. Apparently the childhood obesity epidemic is the scariest thing since nuclear winter. Unfortunately, a lot of the literature I've read is along the lines of "OMG the kids are fatties here give them celery all better." I'm exaggerating a little, but the effect is similar. I agree that some cafeteria foods are crap. The so-called "pizza boat" that was available in my high school consisted of a giant slice of greasy pizza and a large sack of fries. Most people ate this with a packet of ranch dressing. They weren't obese or even overweight (most of my friends were slender), but that ain't good for anybody's arteries.

Unfortunately, the nutrition literature sometimes skims over the link between poverty and obesity. Foodservice and management writers get it - schools without much tax or state revenue sell "competitive foods" - the pizza, the Doritos, the Little Debbies. There's lots of other things mixed in, too - competitive foods have higher prestige, they're quicker to eat, they taste familiar and good. So the problem isn't necessarily going to be solved by cutting competitive foods and force-feeding kids celery sticks.

One project we're working on is posting nutritional information in cafeteria lines. I'm ... I'm not sure how I feel about this. There's the infamous NYC law that's caused a flurry all across the blogosphere. On the one hand, information is important. On the other hand, calories aren't everything (I tell myself that every day). I spoke up at a meeting last week and said I feel uncomfortable posting straight calorie counts. I don't think elementary and middle schoolers understand how to work that into a daily dietary plan - if kids are even thinking about that at all. Post information about fiber content, calcium, vitamins and minerals. Help kids choose foods that are going to nourish them - even if they have more calories! An eleven-year-old is going to do better with a turkey sandwich with cheese, tomato, lettuce, and mustard on whole wheat - which has protein, fiber, calcium, fat, and vitamins - than a side salad that might have fewer calories, but doesn't have all the other good stuff.

And I'm really trying not to let all this be a trigger.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bustin out all over

Recovery from anorexia is a lot like puberty. You're moody, you fight with your parents, and your body starts doing bewilderingly strange things. Like this morning, when I stepped out of the shower, looked down ... and my chest just seemed to announce itself. We're BAA-AAACK, my bosom said. And, like when I was fourteen and this happened for the first time, I felt happy and scared and weird all at once. But I wasn't imagining it. There's definitely more jiggle there than there used to be.

And sure, it makes me nervous. I was never really comfortable with my body before I developed anorexia, and I was eighteen. It must be even harder for people who developed ED at thirteen or fourteen. My body was this strange, uncooperative thing that bulged in all the wrong places. It wasn’t - I wasn't - small enough to tuck myself next to a boy, or huddle with a group of girls under a blanket at a football game. I was clumsy, both physically and socially. I still trip over myself frequently, but I feel much more at ease with people. And usually social grace trumps physical grace. And hopefully I'll be able to learn how to manage these ta-tas. This time around, I'm much more sure of who I am.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday - here we go

Wash your hands, but try not to create superbugs while you're at it.

"Census of Marine Life"
is a neat as it sounds.


Facebook: not just for posting party pictures anymore.

And note to self - clothing purchased while underweight doesn't usually fit once a healthy weight is attained. HEALTHY weight, Lisa. Remember, you can give blood now. You can get new clothes (or Goodwill clothes).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Game Plan


  • Prep for survey distribution
  • Turn in thesis prospectus
  • 12:00 PM - group meeting and presentation run-through
  • 1:00 PM - Presentation 1
  • 3:00 PM - Presentation 2
  • More prep for survey distribution


  • Distribute 800+ surveys to local schools. Local, out here, means 20 miles away
  • Buy roommate lunch/dinner for being my chauffer
  • Prepare poster for presentation 3


  • 10:00 AM: Presentation 3


  • Pick up surveys
  • Ride back to Bethel, collapse


  • 10:00 AM - Job interview 1 (Sears)
  • ???? - Job interview 2 (Hickory Farms ... yeah, I'm going to sell sausage all Christmas)

Other things I hope to accomplish: exercise, meet with Zienzele point person, do thesis work, find out if I qualify for a Teach for America interview, write final for Anthro, study for Epi final, fix computer. No sweat.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oi vey

Lovely readers, I am exhausted. My main computer is still on the fritz - I've run the virus-scanner/deleter CD three times, and it still keeps finding new icky things to delete. How did this happen so quickly? The pop ups started just a few days ago. And though I've never tried to buy a car, going to computer services gives me a foretaste of how absolutely stupid I will feel.

I've spent the past two days selling baskets for The Zienzele Foundation. I'm hopefully going to be doing an internship for this group next quarter, so stay tuned for more about them. For now, just check out the link. Spending seven hours out in the cold takes the mickey out of you, but I feel great about how much we accomplished in a couple of days.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Quirk #7

Computer issues have the unique ability to turn me into a frustrated, angry, tantrum-throwing child. Seriously. I can't stand it. A problem that remains unresolved caused me to MISS THE OFFICE, and now my roommates are watching something and I can't watch 30 Rock. SUCK MY BALLS, MCAFEE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

0 for 3

Stocks are down and so am I. Here's why:

1. I almost fainted/puked while working out this morning. I was mimicking Denise Austin like the good little monkey I am and suddenly I didn't feel like an "a-the-lete" (that's how she says it) any more. I felt hot and cold and sickish all at once. I sat down, ate a few crackers, and after my shower I felt better. But not a good start.

2. The Bethel school levy failed. Oldewhig, I know we talked about this and I've thought about it a lot. But in the end, my sisters, my cousins, and my family are going to get screwed - whatever the underlying reason. They're going to miss out on things that I was lucky to get, things that improved the quality of my education. And that makes me sad - I can't help it, I can't change it. I'm just sad about it.

3. I missed my meeting with my thesis advisor this morning. It was so stupid - I was doing my laundry, I was talking to Jim, I was working - and it completely slipped my mind. I guess this makes us even for the time she double-booked me with another student, but - guh. It makes me cringe - I hate being so irresponsible.


There is still hope that this day will not be entirely craptastic. I have a meeting with a school wellness committee at 4:00. Hopefully I'll make some connections and we can develop some projects - I might even get a chance to help write a grant. I have a group meeting at 8:00 - not fun, but I think we just need to work on a couple more things. Then, at 10:00, I'm going to a benefit concert set up by one of my classmates. The proceeds go to a civil-rights group working in Burma. Ten points of extra credit goes to me. Here's hoping I'm home by 11:30 with a cider in my belly. Oh lord, a tall frosty Woodchuck would be indescribable right now.

**Update*** The meeting went well, so now I'm 1 for 4. However, my advisor has not yet replied to my fervent email and voicemail apologies. Keep in mind, this woman and I have exchanged emails literally minutes apart. Is she angry? Out of town? Passive-aggressively trying to make me feel bad? In all likelihood she has more important things to do than respond to her neurotic, forgetful advisee. But in any case, here's a link to Passive-Aggressive Notes!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrating weight gain

Since I voted early and couldn't get a sticker today, I decided to do something I haven't done in a while - give blood. I happened upon a volunteer directing people to the room in the student center and made a spur-of-the-moment decision.

In the 20 minutes or so I waited, I realized this is one very clear, very good thing about gaining weight. The nurse told me I "just squeaked by" at my current weight, which is NOT true. But regardless, I hadn't been able to donate blood for a long time. It felt like something to celebrate.

How do you celebrate being at a healthy weight?

Seriously, folks

The election excitement in my college town has reached epic proportions. Cynicism notwithstanding, I voted late last week. The only thing I'll reveal is that I voted FOR the Bethel-Tate schools operating levy. For the maybe two Bethel-area people who read this - please, please vote yes tomorrow ... actually today. Bethel's been rated "excellent" for several years now and spends less per student than most schools in our region. If the levy doesn't pass, the school will almost certainly have to cut all extracurriculars and possibly even bus service. I'm really concerned about the latter - attendance could drop so significantly that we'll lose our rating. It's a shitty time to ask for more money, but your local schools are worth it.

Enough stumping. For everyone else, please vote. If nothing else, you get a sticker. If you want to go the extra mile, help each other vote: carpool, watch somebody's kids while they go to the polls. And for the love of Cheez its, take your ID!

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm It!

Yay for memes! I got tagged by Gaining Back My Life, and here are the rules of the game:

1.Link to the person who tagged you
2.Mention the rules on your blog
3.Tell 6 unspectacular quirks about you
4.Tag 6 following bloggers by linking to them
5.Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

I've been reading this on a million different blogs, so I don't know who I'll tag ... Anwho:

1. If I'm not wearing earrings, I feel naked. I didn't get my ears pierced until I was sixteen, and I figured I needed to make up for lost time. There's no pair too big, too weird, or too dangly! My collection ranges from stuff found at 10-for-$5 sales to the absolutely gorgeous sapphires Jim got me for my birthday. I've got ones from England, Ghana, India and Peru.

2. I enjoy doing laundry - when I don't have to pay for it! It's so darn soothing. The only thing about it I don't like is matching socks, mostly because they never come out even.

3. I miss my old job like nothing else. I worked for my professor inputting historic intake data from prisons around Ohio. I helped finish a database of over 37,000 prisoners from the Ohio Penitentiary and started one for the Boy's Industrial School. It was glorified data entry, but oh, what data! Names, crimes, ages - did you know they sent 5-year-olds to the School for "incorrigibility?" I loved talking with Dr. T about patterns I saw and avenues for research. Alas, funding for my position is no more.

4. I can't play video games. Well, not quite - I enjoy Wii games and Rock Band. But if you hand me a traditional controller, chances are you'll get it thrown back at you within ten minutes. And don't stand over me and tell me "turn left! Now go straight! Left again!" because I'll make you eat the controller.

5. The most frightening sound in the world is the sound of tornado sirens. When I was about ten I developed a huge fear of severe weather and tornadoes - I would shake like a leaf and more often than not get sick. In southern Ohio they're not all that common, but we get our fair share of well THAT'S an ugly cloud moments. There's just something about that sound that makes my stomach drop, even after spending the summer learning about disasters and writing a paper on communication during warnings.

6. I do an inordinate amount of crosswords. Yesterday I was disappointed by how easy the Washington Post's "Sunday Challenge" puzzle seemed to me. When I go home on the occasional weekend, Mom makes a copy of the Sunday crossword in the Cincinnati Enquirer for me to do on the ride back to Athens.

All right, I'm tagging:
The sister
Ai Lu

And I'll have to think of a couple others later.

Oh, btw - belated pic from Halloween:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Property value?

This article describes the community of Pella, South Africa, and the townspeople's rejection of a proposed film studio construction project. The village is surrounded by what, to our eyes, appears to be lots of dry, empty land punctuated by the occasional hill or ridge. A similar studio was built in Morrocco a few years ago. The company, Desert Star Studios, sent a 102-page proposal to the local government outlining their plans. The villagers of Pella would be provided a 74,000 acre location 50 miles away in which to build a new town.

Desert Star, however, went to the wrong people:
The Rev. Cyril Smith, whose cathedral would have been made into a Mexican village film set, says the consortium miscalculated the level of opposition and the legal status of the land. "They should have consulted the residents first but they didn't, which made them very angry," he says. "The government, as trustees, aren't allowed to sell this land without their consent, so the film studios will not happen."
The land is sacred to the people of Pella (note to CSM: putting quote marks around that word is inappropriate. Nobody calls it "holy" Communion). Rudolf Markgraaf, one of the first producers to line up a film at the yet-unbuilt facilities, seems amazed that the villagers would turn it down:
"This area is desperately poor with 70 percent unemployment, high rates of AIDS, and limited facilities like hospitals and schools ...
"We had letters of support from the [African National Congress] Youth League, the ANC Women's League, and another group begging us to make it happen," Markgraaff says. "They're not doing anything with this land."

"You only have to look at Quarzazate in Morocco to see the potential," says Markgraaff. "There was nothing there before they built production facilities – now they've produced 42 films in the past 10 years attracting investment of $1.2 billion."

Lack of property values and security are sometimes cited as reasons for Africa's current last-place standing in the global economy. Here's an apparent victory: the people who own their land got to hang onto it. But is it really a victory? At first I thought: but the studio would be such a step forward! They could build a school, more jobs would come in, the town could really grow.

But I was applying my own values to the situation, even after all my profs' attempts to beat the ethnocentrism out of me. Mr. Margraaf, Desert Star and I don't understand the connection the people of Pella have to their land. What looks like "not doing anything" to our eyes could really be something entirely different. And as for the success of the Morrocco studios, what were the on-the-ground effects? Are the massive profits and investments really making a positive difference? When weighing the costs and benefits of the construction project, the villagers decided that land tenue surpassed any other concern.

Part of me is still struggling to figure it out. I know that in one way or another, the village is going to become incorporated into the regional economy whether it wants to or not. Frustrated here, Desert Star will probably find another village in northern South Africa and build there; the increased activity will no doubt affect Pella. I might think I know what's best for the villagers, but those opinions come from within my own cultural framework. To say that I know what's best for them is paternalism. The people of Pella got what they wanted - to keep their land. We'll have to see what happens next.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hometown pride

You can take the girl out of Cincinnati ... The Ohio Republican County that Could Tip the Election.

It might be more interesting if they profiled the next county over. Clermont, I think, has even more issues.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Endorphins whee!

I actually felt hopeful when I walked back from the gym today. Thirty-five minutes on the elliptical seems to be the perfect workout time to get the happy-chemicals flowing.

And I was thinking, you know? I'm going to be okay. It's going to be tough to get a job, but I'll get one. It might not be all brie and wine and backrubs when Jim and I first move in together, but we'll work on it. I voted and I really, really hope the school levy in my hometown passes. And if I eat a shit ton of Reese's Pieces this weekend, then so be it. I will not be a worse person because of it.

It also helped that today was a fracking gorgeous Indian summer day. It's colder now, but I'm going to brave it in my flapper dress. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Much as I would like to be, I'm not the kind of person who goes with the flow. I can't throw a pair of underwear and a toothbrush in a duffel and hit the road - I mean, what if you need a sweater? I'm not saying that I'm completely at odds with spontaneity - just that it's harder for me that most people.

I like control - you've probably already figured that out. And right now I feel like I don't have any. I'm nibbling all the time - all the damn Halloween candy doesn't help with that. I'm running out of time with all my projects, and I've been neglecting my job - you know, the one I get paid for - horribly. Note to self - setting own hours INVITES procrastination. And then there are the big, scary after-graduation questions: will I get a job? Will Jim and I get along living together? Will we be happy? How will we afford an apartment and food besides ramen? In babies they call it "failure to thrive." That's what I'm afraid of.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Jim, probably more than anyone else, is aware of my floundering when it comes to finding and landing a job. Last night he told me to make a three-circle Venn diagram. One circle was labeled "Passions," one circle was "Talents and Strengths," and the last one was "Economic Engine." Fill them in, and what winds up in the middle is what you should focus on.

For the life of me I can't get it to show up in the blog post, so you'll just have to make one for yourself. It's pretty simple, straightforward. Right?

Not so much. I'm aware of my strengths. I can write - no, really, I can write at a much higher level than what y'all see here on this blog. For instance, I would never use "y'all." I can write for a variety of audiences. I can listen, I can ask questions. I can do research, I can enter data and do some analysis. I'm good with linking abstract concepts to the way they're lived on the ground. And I can decorate a cake like nobody's business.

Passions I'm a bit foggier on. I've thought about it since Jim gave me the idea and they fall under the vague label of "helping people." I want to work with - work for - people
who get lost in the healthcare system or can't get it at all, people who don't know about or don't understand ways to improve their health; people who need clean water, who don't have access to education; people who are in dire straits simply because they lack the same opportunities I've been lucky enough to have. I love doing research, whether it's digging up policy documents, getting data, or talking to people. I want to take that research and use it to foster real change. I love cheese and wine, too, and Jim, but I think we're going a bit more career-oriented here.

It's broad as hell, I know. But look at my scattershot work history: almost three years in a deli-bakery, two years of data-entry-and-analysis research, two awful months at a call center, a summer research internship, and now this interesting but frustrating Healthy Schools project. I've done some big projects along the way, too: sophomore year I assisted with beginning research on a biocultural community; last year I conducted a ponderous content analysis of doctor interviews and set up a roundtable on Kenyan election violence; this year is my lovely thesis on abstinence-only education and my work with a nonprofit (more about that later). All of which leaves me with a variety of skills, but no singular leading drive. Rather, I have a history of stumbling upon a project and throwing myself headfirst into it (and not always wisely). Give me a problem, dammit, and I'll figure out as much about it as I can.

As for the "economic engine," I've been looking mostly in the non-profit sector, though there's a consulting firm in Alexandria where I'd love to work. Thing is, most organizations are already stretched thin, and they usually ask for a higher degree than a B.A. I'm looking into a one-year paralegal program - I don't know if I'd be any good, but the pay is decent. There's a three-month internship program that might help me get myself in gear, make connections.

And the kicker? The venn diagram is called your "hedgehog." There's a parable explaining it, but hey, anything to do with hedgehogs is good with me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The weight I've gained has done jack to help insulate me from the cold. I feel so weak and silly to complain about it - 38 degrees (feels like 30 with wind) isn't all that cold, really. I don't know about anyone else, but it's physically painful for me to be too cold - my face, my hands, my feet, even my bones; it all stings and aches. I know that there have been many benefits to my recent weight gain, but that it hasn't helped in this respect annoys the crap out of me.

Of course this makes me worry about how I'm going to get my workouts done. Lord knows I don't want to borrow a car and drive , but I dread the long walk over there. I guess I will just have to suffer through Denise Austin, even though I much prefer the quiet of an elliptical.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I made it back to Athens by 2, but I just couldn't drag myself up to the second half of my 1 pm class. I needed to unpack, to put something warm in my belly, and go to sleep. As I've accomplished the first two, I'll get working on the third.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Fat Joe just got off a plane and walked by me. I gaped. Go me.


Presentation complete! Besides the other presenters, the discussant, the chair, and OU people, there were THREE WHOLE PEOPLE in the audience. So, not scary. Dr. T said her rival was taking notes while I was talking. The few people who were there liked what I'd done and had some thoughtful suggestions.

Afterward I walked around a little strip mall and got lunch - a Greek salad that was far too expensive and kind of crappy, but was saved by the intensely wonderful chunks of feta on top.

And now I wait. It's 3:30 - my flight doesn't leave until much later, but I didn't know where to hang out until then. I'm stuck in Tampa all night, and I'll finally get to Cincy at 9:45. And then 2.5 hours back to OU. Maybe food and sleep somewhere in there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


1. Three years of Spanish at Ohio University failed to provide me any functional grasp of the language. My conversation with the two Honduran men in the elevator was humiliating.

2. I totally got hit on by a silver fox on my flight this morning. The man next to me was a sharp-dressed executive from Columbia who wanted to practice his English (wink wink). No, really he did. We had a nice conversation about America and Columbia and the war on drugs. And NO, he didn't ask me if I wanted to be a mule, you silly American.

3. My hotel is creaky and old and shabby and I kind of love it.

4. Oh hey, guess what? I'm presenting tomorrow. Wow.

5. If you're ever in Miami, check out Pecorrino's. The good Drs. T, D, and B took me out to dinner there - it's really flavorful, well-made Italian food. Steamed mussels are so much better when you know they were still swimming this morning (Jim - the ones I had at Rustico were in a tastier broth, but the mussels themselves were ENORMOUS and even fresher).

6. Dr. T's rival is also presenting at my session tomorrow. He has funny hair. I hope I hold it together.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Please list your last four employers, beginning with the most recent

Kohl's, JC Penney, Sears, Dillards, Borders, New York & Company, Toys R Us, Busken, Hallmark, Time Warner Cable ... please, someone hire me. All I ask for is roughly half a day off a week so I can schedule some thesis work, if the need should be.

I was sure I'd be able to get work done while I was home - not so much. There's an Are You Afraid of the Dark marathon on. My sisters are too damn interesting. Mom made pizza, which is delicious but leaves me feeling like a slug. Well, more slug-like than food normally does.

I miss my big sister. I miss Jim. I miss my brother. Getting to see my grandparents today was wonderful, but it made me remember all the other people I haven't seen in so long.

All right. Must go pack. Call me a dork, but I love travel-size toiletries.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

These things are true

I just need to make myself believe them:

1. I will make it to Miami.
2. I will not pee my pants while giving my presentation.
3. Skipping workouts two days in a row does not make me a bad, lazy person.
3a. I do not need to lose weight.
4. I will make D.C. happen. I will make it fucking work.
5. I'm not the only one who's made mistakes. I will be okay.
6. I will find a job this winter.
7. I will get my thesis done.
8. I have people who love me and I'm so intensely lucky in that regard.


A woman in Missouri touched off a propane explosion - with her remote control. Aaack.

Sasha Fierce is actually not Tyra Banks.

Miss Teen Louisiana FAIL.

There is so, so much you could do with this headline.

There's a bit of a disconnect going on between the article, its headline, and the photo illustration. By "scientists try to stop hunger with retooled foods," they mean that they're trying to suppress the supposedly boundless Western appetite ... not help that poor little starving girl. Editor FAIL.

Ever seen the word "walloping" in a news article?

I'm heading home to Bethel this afternoon. Friday I'll be gathering job applications for the winter, and Saturday and Sunday I'll be in (hopefully sunny) Miami.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Adios, mis pantalones

Dear Size Two Khaki Pants:

You were a mind-fuck when I bought you. I was not a size two - I was a fatty, had always been and always would be. I tried a six, a four - both too big. How could it be that such a tiny number fit my enormous body? And yet you fit, you buttoned; I could sit down and you were comfortable. The fact that you were on sale made you even more comfortable.

Alas, Khaki Kants, I can no longer have you in my wardrobe. I have gained weight since that fateful day at New York & Company, and you are uncomfortably snug. It is possible that you shrank - the Size Two Black Pants I also purchased still fit fine - but the former scenario is equally likely.

Does this bother me? I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But it's really your loss, as you won't be accompanying me to Miami this weekend. My much older, Size-Unknown Khaki Pants will have that privilege.


Reality check

I was all set to write a bitchy email about the work I have to do - three presentations, an annotated bibliography, research for my job, looking for real job opportunities, and that whole Miami thing. Oh, and how all y'all are either too chicken or mature to respond to my last post.

Then someone in my Epidemiology class started talking about her roommate's recent death from surgery complications. She had the operation done at one of the notoriously crappy hospitals in the area. When she went into anaphylactic shock from the anesthesia, she was flown to Columbus. Four days later she died. (Note - I was across the room when she said this, so it's not like I was in Super-Creeper Eavesdropper mode).

Sometimes you need a punch in the gut to put things back in perspective.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


No, it's not about my closet (though it would hold true). I realized that my Denise Austin post contained an alarmingly suggestive opening clause.

So, my lovely readers, I'm asking for your participation yet again! Using the most absurd, lurid, mad depths of your imaginations, finish the following sentence:

"When I finished, surprisingly sweaty, I thought ..."

I know the educational backgrounds of some of my readers (ENGLISH MAJORS), so my expectations are pretty high. Check out the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for inspiration. It doesn't have to be dirty, necessarily. Just entertain me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is my confession

I have a massive sweet tooth.

Scandalous, right? Sweets are "bad," so admitting that you like them means you like something you shouldn't. I've outright lied about it. When friends would talk about how something was "just too sweet, I can't eat it" or "you know, I can't handle that much chocolate," I would nod along. I was embarrassed at how much I loved my grandmother's buttercreme icing, her pineapple upside-down cake, at how I practically saturated my pancakes with maple syrup.

Some of you probably winced at that last description. I don't doubt people when they say they don't like their food too sweet. It's just that I do, and I don't want to feel ashamed of that anymore. A preference for sweet food is just the same as a preference for swiss cheese or cauliflower - something you like. I know that a lot of sweet foods tend to have fewer nutrients and more simple carbohydrates; like anything else, they're a part of a healthy, balanced diet. Part of a complete breakfast/lunch/dinner.

I love apples, kiwi, melon, tangerines and especially strawberries; I use inordinate amounts of sugar-free maple syrup in my oatmeal. Coffee and tea are just better with the pink stuff, or amaretto and creme de cacao.
If they start selling the chocolate filling in E.L. Fudge cookies in a jar I'll die a happy woman. With chocolate breath.

C'mon now - what are y'all's secret food loves? I told, now it's your turn.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Curse you, Denise Austin

Friday I decided to do an exercise DVD instead of going to the gym - it was a time issue. I dug out the Denise Austin Cardio Blast workout, which has two twenty-minute segments: one for cardio, and one for strength. Okay, I usually do 35 minutes on the elliptical, so I'll just do both of the workouts, I thought. I'm in better shape now than I was a year ago when I bought it, so it should be fine.

Ohhh, how wrong I was, my friends. That perky blond potato-shiller had me wheezing two-thirds into the cardio workout. When I finished, surprisingly sweaty, I thought, the strength one won't be so bad, right? Wrong again. Yesterday getting up from a chair was a painful, multi-step process, one that is only slightly less so today. Fire in the loins? Good (except syphilis). Fire in the groins? Not good. Going to the gym would just hurt.

I still want to work out, of course, but I'm sticking with my gut (hahaha). I overdid it on Friday, and a two-day recovery break is a good idea. I just have to fight the tubby feeling.

Razor burned

I abosolutely love getting my hair cut ... usually, that is. Yesterday I went to the same place as always, but got a stylist I hadn't had before. He gave me a thorough massage, which was fantastic, and lulled me into a sense of complaceny. When he started using a razor for the cut, I remarked that no one had done that before but I didn't say anything else. Things were still going fine when he started SCRAPING THE BACK OF MY NECK. HARD. Now, I'm rather self-conscious about my hairline - as much as I love our non-human primate relatives, I'm not proud that I have hair on my nape that would rival a chimp's. When I wasn't eating, I was half-bald, but my shoulders and upper back were covered in this dark body-fuzz that still hasn't entirely gone away. My stylist spent a long, agonizing time back there ... or maybe it just felt that way. On top of all that, he ruffled me into a guinea-pig-like state and then fogged me with hairspray. Alcohol-based spray + raw neck skin = OUCHIE. And he took length off in the front when I told him that I liked how it was.

And I still tipped him. Because not to do so would be rude, right?
Dammit. I need to be more assertive.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Q: When does Lisa know she needs a haircut?
A: When she wakes up and realizes she looks like this:

No country for this hair, my friend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Well, balls to that

I got on the scale this morning and was magically three pounds lighter than I was yesterday. WTF? BMI is now just a shade to the left of "normal." I mean, I know weight can fluctuate throughout the day, but I weighed myself at the same time, under the same conditions as I always do.

I'm done with weighing myself for a while. It's one more thing I don't need to obsess over.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Love Your Body (Already) Day

I found out from Elizabeth that today is Love Your Body Day. I figure that makes it as good a day as any to write about my weight.

Yesterday I hit my highest weight in four years. When I first started treatment, my mother clung to the idea that getting me back to a certain weight would mean recovery. We've both realized it's more complicated than that. Just because I weigh X pounds now doesn't mean I will cease thinking about food, quit dividing to find the calories in a single cracker or pretzel, or venture too far from the soup and salad portion of the menu. Food is complicated, messy thing for me, and that's not going to disappear just because my BMI is finally "normal" (not that that means jack).

But what does it mean, then? It means that I'm not in immediate danger; I haven't been for a long time. It means that I have a more realistic idea of what my body needs to get through the day, and I'm willing to give it that. It means I can resist that urge to prove to everyone that I'm so driven and hardworking that I don't even have to eat. It means physical changes, too. There's "give" where there wasn't before. My legs are bigger, and my stomach, as I've written before, is no longer concave. Other people tell me I look better.

Still, I fall far short of what today is meant to encourage. There are times when I admire my body - when I get up in the morning and actually feel rested, when I crack a sweat at the gym, when I climb one of Athens' many hills. But love? I don't think so. When I'm reminded of my body, there's an initial discomfort. I focus far too much of my perceived flaws to love my body.

I'm not giving up, though. Gaining weight has been a long, arduous process. Since I really don't know what my body's "set point" is, I don't know if I'm finished gaining, even. But I hope that as time goes on and I become accustomed to the new things going on with my belly and thighs, I'll eventually come to like them. Maybe even love them.