Jul 20, 2010

Six Months

I never take things in small steps.  I'm always going for the big goal, the one that becomes insurmountable simply because it's a fucking mountain and I'm a mouse.  I hate that I do this to myself (all the time), but it's even harder to imagine setting smaller, boring, wussy goals.  They're not really wussy, but that's what my brain tells me all the time.  I'm working on shutting my brain up a little more often.

I have a deadline, an important one, and it's related to my writing.  I leave in September for a week-long writing seminar held and taught by one of New York's premier agents.  I've been wanting to go to one of his workshops for years.  As part of the program, he'll critique the first 50 pages of your manuscript.  For those not in the know, that's a BIG EFFING DEAL in the publishing world.  Getting a single page of your manuscript out of the slush pile--the industry term for the pile of unsolicited manuscripts agents and publishers receive from writers who want their work read in the hopes of landing a book sale--is nearly impossible to begin with, and even if your pages do manage to get into the hands of an actual reader, it's probably someone's assistant.  Or an assistant's assistant's third cousin who was hired for the weekend to see if there's anything good in the slush pile.  I wish I was kidding.  I'm not.

So big agent guy is going to read 50 pages of my stuff.  One would assume, then, that I'd want to break my fucking back to make sure it's the best 50 pages I've ever written in my life.  And so I have to work and polish and rewrite and revamp...and submit in the next 25 days. 

Related to that, in a bizarre way that's fitting for my life these days, I took a hip-hop dance class last night.  It was more work than I'd ever thought possible, and I ache from shoulder blade to ankle, but I can't remember the last time I sweated that much in a 60-minute period. 

Which got me thinking--what are my goals, my REAL goals, right now?  It always comes back to two things: lose weight and publish my book.  But those are huge goals, bigger than my whole head, and so I procrastinate.  But I can't waste the money I've spent on this workshop, so I have to get those 50 pages ready in time.  Al helped me come up with a time budget, allotting a few pages a day until deadline.  It's still hard work, but it feels a little better.  That said, I ain't done it yet, so the jury's still out on how effective this method will be.  Usually I'm the cram-study type who works best when there's a ticking clock in the background.  But I hate that tense feeling, plus I'm too old for all-nighters anymore, so I'm giving this a try.

Which led to the idea of weight.  I wondered if, at my current pace, how long would it take me to finish my book?  And by finish I mean polish, revise, revamp--the works.  I figured six months.  Sounds like a lot but it's really not bad at all.  Time does fly, as we're all painfully aware.  So, what about weight?  What could I do there in six months?  With 40 pounds left to lose, over six months, that makes 1.5 pounds a week.  Now, before you go thinking that's nothing, I've been stagnating at 192 for months now, for fuck's sake, and it's been driving me nuts.  So that might be more of a challenge than it seems.  But maybe it'll help to see it written out.  Who knows?  Priority number one is to finish my pages and stay away from the really bad foods and keep moving my body.  Yes, those are three priorities, but let's not nitpick.

But if anyone wants to join me at hip-hop class, it's Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 in Bethesda.  Just wear sneakers, bring water, and try not to hate the Soulja Boy music.

Jul 16, 2010

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction | Video on TED.com

Having moved a lot in my life, I can totally relate to the idea that "My imagination is the only suitcase that I could take with me."  And she's right: authors shouldn't just write what they know but rather what they feel.

A beautiful presentation, for writers and everyone else.

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction Video on TED.com

Time for a Change

I updated my resume yesterday and submitted it to a few jobs.  With the state of things these days, who knows if I'll get any interviews, but that wasn't the point anyway.  The point is change.  With the marriage and the move, I've been feeling the need for a change.  Question always is though, what kind?

My ex called me a miserable bitch the other day.  At first, I was pissed.  Then I really thought about it.  I guess I was a miserable bitch when I was with her.  I don't mean because of her, just that during that time period of my life I admit I was miserable a lot of the time.  I can remember several tearful nights when I would go on and on about how useless it all was, how awful life was for me and why even bother to make an effort anymore.  It sounds so dramatic now but I really felt that way then.  Change takes effort and it usually hurts, so I procrastinate. 

They say that the most common cause of procrastination is setting a goal that's too big.  I've always set huge goals for myself and have only partially achieved any of them.  I don't do well in bite-sized pieces of things.  I want it all in one big gulp.  I don't want to finish revising a chapter of my book; I want to finish my book, period.  I don't want to lose five pounds in the next month; I want to lose forty in the next three. 

I loved the movie Forrest Gump.  Mostly because it was a great parody of how a person who completely focuses on one thing at a time can conquer the world.  I'm terrible at that, the one-thing-at-a-time thing.  But here I am, thirty-six years old, good at a bunch of things, great at nothing.  I want to be great at something.  And even though I sent my resume to jobs I'm technically qualified for, I don't want to be great at techie stuff or secretarial jobs.  I want to be a novelist.  I want to write books with characters who are impossible to forget. 

Why is it always so fucking hard to put your energy into shit you actually love, as opposed to shit you just know how to do well?  When it comes down to it, does my brat upbringing mean that I'll always wuss out when the really hard work comes into play?  If I'm so fucking smart, why can't I do this one thing?

Jul 15, 2010


There's a whiteboard in my office that hangs on the wall opposite my desk.  It's directly in my view.  Sitting on the top are four markers, blue, red, purple and orange.  I've never written anything on this board, yet it's always covered in messages.  Right now it reads, "I [heart] U".  Earlier this week it was covered in so many different forms of "I love you" messages that I could no longer tell which one was written by my wife.

And it dawns on me, sitting here, how lucky I am and how much I take that luck for granted.  People love me.  Good people, ones who could pick and choose to love anyone they wanted, and they chose me (among others).  So why can't I love myself enough--still, after thirty-six long years--to take care of myself properly?

I'm no stranger to hard work, except when it comes to self-discipline.  I can budget money and squeeze a week's worth of groceries from a half-week's food allowance, but I can't budget my calories or control my eating.  I can't manage to drag myself out of bed an hour early and go for a walk.  I'm tired of asking what's wrong with me.  I want answers.  I want the people who love me to be proud that they do so.  I want to follow through on everything that I promise myself, and yet all I can think of are dreamy visions of junk food and me sitting on the couch watching our new FIOS television with all the movie channels.  I hate feeling so lame.  But, as always, I apparently don't hate it enough.  Not yet.

I've always said that it's impossible to achieve the Holy Trinity of Food: Time, Money and Health.  You can have any two of those things, but never all three. 

If you want to save Money and your Health, you can clip coupons, search for deals, and plan and prepare healthy meals.  But it will cost you Time. 

If you want to save Money and Time, then you're stuck with microwave meals or fast food.  There goes your Health.

To save Time and Health, you can purchase freshly made, healthy, prepared foods, or eat out at organic restaurants.  So long as you have the Money.

Right now, after purchasing a new home and furnishing it, we're trying to save Money.  We both work long days and now have a house to run along with the boy to raise and the pets to care for.  Time isn't an option.  No surprise which part of the Holy Trinity of Food gets sacrificed. 

And the cycle continues.  I'd feel better if I had a plan of action, but right now I'm overwhelmed with obligations.  The family, the house, the book, the job, the food, the exercise.  All but a couple are pleasurable and so get the majority of my attention.  But that scale keeps climbing.  I need a plan. 

Jul 12, 2010


April.  That was the last month that I posted anything.  Old habits die hard, and my biggest habit (besides food addiction) is laziness. 

I've written this entry countless times in my head, but what good does that do?  I always mean to do it, I think up a title and a few lines and then...  And then life keeps moving forward.  It's the way of everything in my life, it seems. 

I mean to eat well.  I mean to walk more, work out, do pushups and yoga, take dancing lessons, work on my book.  I mean to do it all, and I mean it with a sincere energy and effort; but I guess, in the end, I still don't mean it enough.

So much has happened these past two months.  Allison and I married; we bought a house and moved; she started her teaching institute.  All good things.  The not-so-good things: I stopped taking all of my meds and we lived in a hotel for almost two weeks.  It was sweltering outside so I didn't walk nearly as much as I used to.  Combined, that was an ugly cocktail for disaster.  I won't know where my levels are until I go back to the doctor in September, and I'm not looking forward to it.  I gained back 7.5 of the pounds that I'd lost and kept off for months, and that dinged my confidence more than I'd like to admit.  I've been ignoring my health as I deal with other life events, but it's always there, just behind my shoulder, tapping me every so often as a reminder.  I keep pushing it away with the idea that I feel fine, but that's not true, either, not really.  I don't feel bad, I don't feel like I did in the beginning of this epic fucking journey--like I was forcing my body to do things it just didn't have the resources to do.  But I don't feel good, either.  I'm tired all the time, just like before.  My energy level is way down and I'm reaching more and more for those bad foods that I need to stay away from.  Most of it is mental, which leads to the emotional breakdown (the hardest kind to come back from).  I've stopped counting my Weight Watchers points, I don't log my food, I don't drink my green lemonade anymore.  My carbs are up and my steps are down.  I haven't worked on my book in months.  I had to hit the pause button on my life for a couple of months and now I'm trying to get back into things.

I've never really known how to do that.  I'm not a person who likes routine.  I wish I did.  Maybe I'd actually fill one of the many beautiful journals I have in my nightstand.  Maybe I'd finish my damn book.  But I am who I am, and I know I won't change.  Instead, I have to learn to work through and around my shortcomings.  I still have my goals: lose 40 more pounds and finish my book.  I'm not sure how I'm going to get there, but I know that I still want to. 

Current Weight: 194.2
Goal weight: 155

Organic Oatmeal
3 squares of dark chocolate
Ollie's Trolley cheesesteak and fries