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.