Thursday, February 25, 2010

That, kid, is the circle of life

Okay, the killer whale.

Those poor, poor kids, and their poor, poor parents. Just out to have a fun day at a theme park and look at all the wonderful sea life. And then the sea life kills a trainer. Ooooohhhh. Not good. “Jimmy, this is Dr. Rosenblatt. Show her with the dolls what happened at the bad place.”

On the other hand, score one for the killer whales. I’ve been to Sea World, and I wanted bite somebody after 2 hours. Imagine 6 shows a day with those yappy bastards in the wetsuits and Janet Jackson headsets. Out of the pool, into the pool. Out of the pool, into the pool. Out of the pool, into the pool. Wave at the crowd, Shamu! If I was an orca I’d be thinking, “Hey, you know, I probably have these choppers for a reason.”

Plus, no matter how big one of those pools is, it’s not the open ocean. For an orca, it’s got to be the equivalent of an 8’x10’ cell. You can take a few laps, but eventually it’s all gonna look pretty much the same.

And maybe the killer whale wasn’t even pissed off. Maybe it was just a bad day. No performer is on every show. Sometimes you’re hitting on all cylinders, they laugh, they cry, everything you do is golden. And sometimes you fall on a trainer and squash her. It pretty much was going to happen someday.

Still. In my book, that’s one for Shamu.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

True Confessions

Well, it’s been a week. It’s been a loooooong week. And I’d say I’d rate myself as 95% successful. I fell off the wagon twice. Once on each count.

The food has really been the easier task so far. I’ve been enjoying the home-cooked meals. Even if I did have to cook most of them myself. And my baked goods are just scrumptious, thank you very kindly. But this is the area where I deliberately and with malicious intent broke the rules. I snapped. Ate half of a Choxie coconut and dark chocolate bar. I did it. Enjoyed myself too. Guilt is delicious.

I blame the fact that I’ve completely got no idea what I’m doing as far as calorie count. You know, when you’re trying to keep track, packaged things have those handy little nutrition labels. Oranges do not. And I think I’ve been low-balling my calorie intake. Not good. When I get to the end of the day, and I haven’t quite made my numbers for the day, and I’m sitting around not watching TV, I’m really vulnerable to sneaky chocolate bars with delicate wrappers that you can just tear right off and that call my name from the pantry. Lesson learned.

The TV thing has been much harder, and made me incredibly irritable. It’s like somebody took my pacifier away from me. And I really have not been handling it well, in spite of a lot of support from friends and family on this. But I did not intentionally watch TV. I was looking at Yahoo, and saw a link for something that looked interesting, which I clicked. And 30 seconds later, while I’m watching the little video “this week in something or other” clip, I suddenly realized, “Oh, this is TV.” Just kind of happened.

But, I’m not going to let it derail me. I’m back on the horse. A little warier, a little wiser. And all the more determined that I’m going to make this work. These are deep habits. And it’s probably unrealistic to expect I’ll be able to make it through this with no mistakes. Like the song says, “Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, start all over again.”

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You've got 2 choices: madonna or whore

Okay, while we’re on the subject of clothes, and office clothes for women, let’s talk about my main pet peeve. Sexy and the office worker. I am so sick of fashion pushing a “sexy” look for the office. It’s like every outfit has a sexy twist. “Oh, here’s a business jacket that you can throw a sexy little cami under!” Where do you work? They talk about people who do that in my office. We’re talking about clothes that I’ll wear to make a living. Uhm. I’m not a prostitute. My wage earning in no way is reliant on my looking like a hot prospect. There are a lot of things I can be concerned with during my work day. Sexy ain’t one of them. I got stuff to do.

Here are the things I do need my office wear to project:

Appropriately fitted

Here are the things that I would like to have in addition:

Attractive (as in people will want to talk to me, not as in people will want to jump my bones)

But also, uhm, I’m not a nun. I do not need to look entirely sexless either. It’s a new day in America, and I do not feel the need to look like a man. I can look like a woman. I just don’t need to look like a woman looking for a good time. No sexy librarian. No executive/dominatrix. No lady in the streets, but a freak in the sheets. No “lingerie inspired” casual Friday. My private life is my private life and my business life is my business life.

So where are the clothes that live in the borderland between sexy and sexless? It’s not like it’s a tiny target. There’s a big difference between a wimple and ho gear. You’d think it would be easy for designers to just whip out something that would fall anywhere in that area. But from the shopping I've been doing, apparently not.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Off the shopping list.

Okay, I know I’m harping on the skinny model thing. But here it is again. From Tommy Hilfiger’s last show at Bryant Park. This young lady is wearing a cabled turtleneck sweater, paper-bag waist shorts and ankle-length, hiking-styled boots. And she still looks painfully thin.

Do you know what would happen if I, a normal-sized woman, tried to wear this outfit? I would look like somebody needs to tie ropes to my wrists and lead me down 5th Avenue at the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. Balloon city. H. R. Puffenstuff. I would have to be eligible for a 72-hour psychiatric hold to think that in any way, shape or form I would look good in that outfit.

Which leads me to believe that Tommy Hilfiger clothes are not cut for one such as I. Why would I even look at their clothes? And in a mass market brand, to be removed from the mental shopping list in one image is probably not a good sales ploy. I’ve bought Hilfiger in the past. But now I’m thinking they are going in a direction that I (and my normal-sized butt) can’t follow. I don’t think every line is for me. Bebe, Juicy Couture, L.A.M.B, anything from the Olsen twins. Too young, too thin, too pricey. But Hilfiger is a brand that’s built its empire on being something anyone who is deluded enough to think they can “pull it off” with a youngish, preppy-ish, hip-ish look. That would be me. And a lot of other middle-aged people.

And I can be fooled by a size 6 into thinking “I might look good in that outfit”. Maybe even a size 4. But a girl who the size 0 probably hangs on? Nope. Sorry. Deluded, but not that deluded. And I wouldn’t even want to try. Not to be that thin, or to buy those clothes.

Studly muffins

Well, so cutting down on processed foods has been a big “yes”. Part of the reason is that it has been cool enough to bake, so I’m not starving. Yesterday, I didn’t have time for a yeast bread to rise, so I made muffins. They were to go with chicken soup, so I wanted a less sweet, dinner roll type bread. I think my tweaks worked pretty well. The original recipe is from Mark Bittman (my kitchen hero at the moment – his “How to Cook Everything” is my new sacred tome) on his New York Times blog for “Whole Wheat Muffins”. Quick, yummy, and, if you use the muffin tin liners, very little clean up. And nothing really screwball in the ingredients. I’m beginning to hate people who toss off things like squid ink or taro flour like I have that in the pantry. Um, no. Actually. I have blue food coloring and flour flour in the pantry. How ‘bout them apples, fancy pants?

Anyway. On to the muffins . . .

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Muffins
Time: 35 to 45 minutes
Yield: 12 to 15 muffins
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, more for greasing tins
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, preferably pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed or puréed sweet potato
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease two 6-cup muffin tins or fill with liners. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, banana, egg and buttermilk. Fold wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined.

2. Fill muffin tins or liners; bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until muffins are puffed and turning golden brown on top. Serve warm if possible.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In just a moment

A young woman in my town died last week. She was a freshman in high school, whose boyfriend was put off a school bus for fighting over a cell phone. She followed (to help? to watch the fight? without much thought as to why at all?), fell, and was killed instantly under the wheel of the bus.

That kind of thing shouldn't happen. One thoughtless action shouldn't be fatal. We should all get those extra seconds that allow us to step back and think. We miss an elevator. A friend calls our name. The bus door jams. And 3 seconds of thought make a new choice.

If the water had been a bit colder the night Jeff Buckley died swimming in the Mississippi he might have stood ankle deep in the water and thought, after a moment, "maybe not." And turning back, he might have had a Johnny Cash-long career, fumbled his way through greatness and failure, and have written and recorded music that a 1,000 years from now some teenager on a spaceship faraway would listen to and love. But the water was warm, and it happened the way it happened. And it was one tiny choice that shouldn't have been fatal, but was.

And would that young woman have had the possibility of something remarkable? We don't know. She was too young to even guess. Those 3 seconds never came. That fleeting thought that would have kept her in her seat. The jammed bus door or the voice of a friend that would have come between her and a something so momentary it could hardly even be called a choice, but turned out to be fatal.

TIME: Quotes of the Day