the gregarious homebody

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Top 5 Running Songs

I NEED music to run. HH hadn't charged my iPod one time (I'm a kept woman and I LIKE IT, okay?) and I actually turned around and came back inside to wait until it charged.

Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

1. Back in Black (ACDC)--I need a strong beat, especially when I start my run.

2. Barracuda (Heart)--another great song from the 70's. I can't not move when that guitar riff begins (and Ann Wilson's voice makes me feel strong).

3. Everybody Got Their Something (Nikka Costa)--great beat and I know it's dorky of me, but it's also *motivational*.

4. Wish You Were Here (Incubus)--this one's in simply because the dude has an amazing, sexy voice. I'm easy.

5. Almost anything by The Foo Fighters-- Some may find it strange but I find all their songs so uplifting. I obviously like loud music judging by the first two songs, and Dave Grohl can really yell, but their songs make me smile. And if you live in Bethlehem PA, and you see a zaftig women running and smiling like an imbecile, chances are it's me listening to my Foos.

What are yours? I only have about 20 on my Running Songs playlist, so I'd love to add some more. I'm gonna tag Finny.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's interesting to me that personalities can change depending on who you're with. I'm speaking specifically about how I am with my New York Family. For many many years I was quiet, attentive, and quick to agree. I was so focussed on getting them to approve of me, to like me, to take me in to their family, that the irony is that the Me they were starting to (maybe) like wasn't M at all. While I do like to think of myself as attentive (at least most of the time), those other descriptions weren't about Me at all.

I am loud and sacracastic. I am opinionated. I am passionate. I am a hugger and a huge laugher. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I will LOVE YOU if you let me. That's how my friends know me and that's how PA Family knows me.

Slowly, slowly over the years I've been letting the Real Me out of the bag with the NY Family. My fabulous nephews know the real Me. My wonderfully sarcastic brother-in-law knows me and I'm so happy to say that one of my sisters-in-law has come to know Me and actually likes Me (and me her). But the Others in the family are starting to see Me and I don't know if they feel the same way. Why? Because I have become The Incredible Hulk.

I'm just barely speaking metaphorically. Barely. It's like when I get in the room with them, the shirt of my personality starts to strain under the pressure of niceness I was forcing myself to display. I start out pleasant enough, asking everyone how they are, etc., and then one of them says something *instructive* or condescending and something inside me roars. And while I'm searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have... an accidental overdose of gamma radiation interacts with my unique body chemistry and I become maybe not so much The Hulk, but instead

Sarcastic and Profane Girl!

WHAM! ZAP! POW! I'm throwing zingers left and right, talking like I was raised in a biker bar, and shooting down ideas I would normally totally agree with! I can't seem to help myself. The actual parts of my personality have been blown up to 1000% and I don't even like it.

Luckily Handsome Husband seems to enjoy this side of me. I think so anyway (although I must must must curb my talking about one of his sisters as some kind of Demon Spawn. That *might* be going too far). I think that maybe, just maybe, I'm getting away with things that he's wanted to do and say his whole life. Maybe I'm speaking for both of us. Or maybe I'm just obnoxious. This has occured to me.

I think next time we're together with the NY Family, I'm going to try my best to just listen. To not insinuate myself into every conversation to argue about it and to refrain from saying "Eat me" to anyone. I'm not going to NOT be Me, but maybe I'll give HH the floor and see if his inner Super Hero comes out. I hope it's
Take-THAT! I- AM- Good- Enough-in- Fact- I'm- Better than -You -People Man!
Now that I'd like to see.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No More Hills=Success!

I've cleared another hurtle in this running thing I've got going on. 4 minutes of running/2 minutes of walking, only 1 or 2 minutes of feeling like I'm going to either crap my pants or throw up. Success!! I found the secret. No hills. And although I know there are going to be some hills in the 5K I'm running in *gulp* less than a month, I think it makes more sense to actually get to the point that I'm running for 3 miles no matter what the terrain than get myself bogged down running a more accurate-to-the-race course.

And, for all you runners reading this, if this does NOT make sense, I don't want to hear it.

Thanks, Finny, for your encouraging words about my feeling like a poopy pants lard ass old lady. I can't wait to read how you rocked your half-marathon yesterday. And I know you did.

One thing this running thing is good for besides clearer skin and tighter butt cheeks is clearing my head a bit before challenging experiences. We're off to NY today for a family birthday, so I'm glad I got a run in beforehand.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Tonight I'm making the most delicious non-recipe for dinner. It's Black Bean and Salsa Soup and the title almost has all the ingredients in it. It's found here on this site, but below is my slight twist on the original:

2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained
1 cup salsa (I use Wegman's brand Santa Fe style medium salsa)
1 1/2 cups broth (I've used chicken and I've used vegetable with equal success)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Dump everything in your blender or food processor and puree. Put in saucepan and heat over medium-low until warmed up. Top with sour cream, guac, grated cheese, or anything else that warms your heart.
It's nuts--there's no added fat (just a tad already in the salsa) and because the salsa has cooked onions in it there's a complexity built right in. Yum. Just the ticket on this rainy-ass day with some boxed pierogies and a salad. Fancy!
I miss my mom.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Girls

When I got the job I have now as a sorority chef I was happy and slightly horrified. Happy because I had been at a place that was a nice place to work at but incredibly boring and not-in-the-least-bit challenging. And there is nothing worse to me than boring. My idea of a great day at work is when I have to figure out how I'm going to get all my stuff done in time, NOT one in which I get everything done early and then hang out for a few hours. I'm weird like that.

Anyhoo, I was happy that I was going to have to slam out lunch and dinner weekly for 51+ girls. It's the *sorority* that had me horrified. First of all, I myself went to a college that not only didn't have Greek Life, it didnt't have a football team or any other common sport. SUNY Purchase had Ultimate Frisbee (boys' team: Atomic Dogs; girls' team: Atomic Bitches) and instead of sororities and fraternities it had a Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Union that was extremely well-attended. Oh, and I was a Women's Studies major. You get the picture.

So I had a preconceived notion of sororities, mostly comprised from Animal House (remember Babs with her pearls?) with a dash of the bitchy sniping of some of the snotty girls I went to high school with. HH and I always thought of the Greek system as one in which *friends* were purchased. He still, 1000 years after college yells "GDI!" when someone asks him if he was in a frat.

But I was hired by the closest thing to perfect that a sorority could be for someone like me. Nice girls who came in all shapes and sizes--athletes and dancers, brainy geeks and bubbly goofballs, born rich and working class. A house that is a sort of microcosm of the Real World (if the real world had secret rituals and Hell Week because yeah, there is a bit of that there too). I was hired by a 19 year old in the sophomore class who was waaaaaay more nervous than I was at the interview. And though I had to TRY OUT (huh? never had to do that before), I felt almost immediately that I was going to get the job simply because I talked to the girls and made them laugh. Well that and the chocolate mousse cake I served.

So I started the job with a lot of notions in my head (and yes, there are a lot of sororities who fit the stereotype here too), but also with a mind willing to be open to this new experience. Before long I totally got the whole sisterhood thing. Lehigh is an extremely competitive college and has only been coed for 30 years. And, whether they realize it or not, I think women still have to prove themselves worthy of being there, let alone being there as engineering majors. The sorority house provides them with a place where it's okay to be a goofy girl and I think that's really valuable. I didn't have that experience at my school because for one, the gender lines were blurred and two, were celebrated for that. As my dad like to point out, my college's colors were lavender and white.

So why am I feeling sort of nostalgic about the beginnings of this job? Because my sophomore class is graduating. I've only been there 2 1/2 years but I feel about them like I feel about my own kids in that I can't believe they're this grown up already! They were the class that hired me and because they were also the class that fired the former cook who made tuna casserole at least twice a week and also made them too scared to come into the kitchen, they remember what it was like before I was there and so, consequently, they LOVE me.

They are an amazing group of girls too. A few of them wowed me almost daily with their insightfulness and maturity. One of them is someone who I'd like to be when I grow up. A good number of them are the kind of girls I hope my daughter becomes. I will miss them terribly next year and think of them often. And though they laugh at my assertion that I will just be a blip in their college memories, I know that I won't be hearing from the majority of them anymore. It makes me sad because they've made an impact on me. And I think with all my heart that they'll make a real impact on the world when they get out there. And I'll be so proud to say that I knew them when.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Better than Cats

Just saw Iron Man with HH and the kids. LOVED it. I've always been a fan of Robert Downey Jr.'s and it's just so nice to see him looking healthy, happy, and back to his lovably snarky self. Jeff Bridges was an evil greedy bastard, Gwyneth Paltrow is a natural, and Terrance Howard was good (only exception--he wasn't in it enough. He's great). All in all,
Fun for the whole family!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

My daughter said something tonight that scared the crap out of me. She was telling me how she coughed so hard on her way home from school that she threw up. Then she says "After I threw up I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt so empty."

Why does this scare me? Because from the time I was 19 until I was 22 years old I was actively bulimic. I'd always had to watch my weight and hadn't been truly *thin* since I was probably 4 years old. So I went on Weight Watchers and began to lose the weight pretty easily. But the weighing and measuring and writing everything down tapped into the OCD part of my personality--which, up until then, had really only manifested itself in wondering each night "did I put the cap back on the toothpaste??" until I had to get out of bed and check. Followed by "did I close the cabinet door?" You get the picture. Anyhoo, I was writing everything down, I was eating exactly how I was supposed to according to The Plan, and there was no room for error.

This is not how Weight Watchers is supposed to be followed. I don't blame them. It's how I am combined with WW that was a bad mix. So I followed it and followed it and steadily lost 4 pounds a week for maybe 3 weeks. And then I snapped. I don't know what started it. I don't remember the day. All I know is that at least once a week I began running to the bathroom in my college apartment and running the water in the sink while I made myself throw up whatever I'd eaten in a frenzy a few minutes before.

I did this for a long time. My roommates never knew. My boyfriend (the very same HH who is still around) didn't know. I was looking fantastic (not too thin like an anorexic--no one would've guessed) and I while I had a kind of hangover of shame later, immediately after I threw up I felt euphoric. Yes, euphoric. Weird, I know. But according to some studies about seratonin and bulimia, There is a definite “high,” which comes with the purging, and which has no analogue in anorexia. I felt in control. I felt light. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Now do you see why I'm scared?

When I was pregnant and after I found out I was having a daughter, I had some really serious panicky feelings about raising one. Did I have my shit together enough (because it never really ends--it's a lot like alcoholism except you need food to live) to NOT pass on this skewed way of looking at food to my little girl?

So now here we are today. And I forgot to mention that she told me all this after we'd just gotten done swimsuit shopping. Even skinny girls hate shopping for swim suits. And M had a really tough time finding a suit because, along with my dazzling personality I've also passed on my hips to her. And she was saying things in the dressing room like "It's not the suit that's bad. It's my body."

And, remember, SHE'S NINE YEARS OLD!!!!!

So, you may be wondering what I did after these statements, how I responded. Well, in both instances I stayed calm. I told her that there was nothing wrong with her, that it was just the way the bathing suit bottoms were cut. I suggested two things: a one-piece (although I love love love that she still has the confidence for a bikini) and/or a pair of board shorts from the junior section to go with a bikini top from the suit she liked and had at home but didn't fit into bottom-wise. Success!! She came home, tried everything on and modelled it so I think, for now, we dodged the bad body image bullet. For now. And I'm still trying to stay calm.

My mother said to me when M was really little "Don't make your issues hers." Good advice. Sound advice. But she didn't tell me how. I wish she was here to help me with that. But the really screwed up thing is that, if my mom were still alive, she'd probably be on a diet.

Now here's one trend that should be brought back! Right?!


My son's coach sent out an email to the team saying that if anyone *found* the lost MP3 player, could they please return it, no questions asked, and someone did! I cannot wait to tell my son he's off the hook for the $50. I even tried to call him at school because I wanted to take that weight off his shoulders (evil HH wanted to make him stew a bit) but I couldn't get through to him.

He's still grounded to make the point he needs to be more careful. I think the lesson has been learned.
Warning: today's post won't be funny. Unless reading about the punishment of a sweet, kind, and usually upstanding child is your cup of tea. So right there you know it's not about M because punishing her is a bimonthly event at least. This time it's about my 12 year old son. Ugh. He's easy to be frustrated with because he's almost totally incapable of finding things which are RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FACE and and because he can be,at best, obtuse. But he's incredibly hard to stay angry with because he is possibly the sweetest and most well-meaning boy in the world.

Here's what happened: he took his MP3 player, which is virtually attached to him, to baseball practice and put it in his jacket pocket. When practice was over it wasn't there. Did I mention that it was a $150 MP3 player? Well, it was gone. He looked around with his coach for awhile and then skulked home. I was so mad. I HATE when the kids lose shit. ESPECIALLY expensive stuff. It's really really important to HH and I that they understand that if special things are given to them, they now have the privilege and responsibity to care for them. I'd hate if our kids would be the kind who take things for granted. They can take me and my love for granted at times, they can take for granted that they will have hot meals, clean clothes, and a place to live, but to a certain extent, we expect them to earn the extras.

So he's grounded from tv, computer, and seeing friends for 2 weeks. The Wii is gone for an indeterminate amount of time. And he owes us $50 to pay for his part in the MP3 player being lost/stolen. And he needs to pay it back by the end of the summer.

Oy, my heart hurts. Because this kid is not the kind who sloughs off his parents' anger easily. He cries easily and he hates to disappoint. I suggested he take a shower after we talked because I know how much I like to cry in the shower. And HH said he could hear him talking to himself in there, so I guess I was right.

Parenting is so hard.


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