Lost and Floundering, But Otherwise, a Nice Vacation…

Most of my readers know that I went to Walt Disney World last week.  For those of you who don’t, I went to Disney World last week.  My in-laws very generously took us for four days.  We stayed at one of the Value Resorts in the Disney compound.  There were excellent times:

 like Joey spinning me so hard that I almost puked on the teacups;).

and Joey having a gift pack waiting in the room themed after one of my two favorite Disney movies ever!

to now owning every size of Stitch that Disney makes (don’t judge me).

to learning about one of my favorite topics in the world…

There were other cool things…we ate dinner at a SciFi-themed cafe in Hollywood Studios that played movie trailers from old movies…THREE of which had been MSTied, which was nerdily thrilling for Joey and me.  We got to ride Star Tours after all of the Star Wars folks finally left the park.  We had a swanky dinner at Jiko, the super-nice restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

On the flipside, the AC didn’t really work in the room, which really sucked, but at least Joey was able to get a one-night refund on both of our rooms.  And I had a panic attack the night that we got stuck in Magic Kingdom during the parade/fireworks show/child-stroller-apocalypse.  I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t really like being around that many people.  And, of course, the conspiracy theorist in me wonders how many terrorist attacks on those parks are foiled each year.  It’s just such a huge crowd of people.  So anyway, while I’m glad to have gotten to do it once, I’m undecided as to whether or not we’ll take our kids there.

Also, the frequency with which I became overwhelmed on trip, and my current state of malais-ey dread about the backup of work I’ll surely see tomorrow has left me kind of floundering right now.  I want to blog, but I get overwhelmed.  I take a day to relax and do nothing, and instead I end up spending all day thinking about how behind I’ll be at work and how I should be working on my thesis.  I used to like to make lists to motivate myself, and now I’m just overwhelmed whenever I even think about making them.  I have an appointment with a new psychiatrist on the 24th, so hopefully this will all get straightened out soon.

For now, I’ve got plenty of new stuffed animals to comfort me:)

And my Kins, who I missed a LOT:

I’ve had to spend a lot of today making up for our abandoning her.  And, even though we did have three pukes, we didn’t have any pees!!

I Got Nothing…

This is happening right now:

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You may notice that she’s in her harness.  We’re trying to get her used to it as we are working on getting an ultralight camper in the (relatively) near future and we want to be able to take her with us, which would require that she be on the harness/leash pretty constantly.  After half an hour of flopping around like she was dying, she’s discovered that the harness is not a torture device and is contentedly napping between my knees.

Today is supposed to be a thesis-working day, but thus far, I’ve made myself breakfast and watched the DVRed season premier of The Deadliest Catch.  I do intend to work hard on it today, though.  I promise (Dad).

The past few weeks haven’t been so great, honestly.  I need an adjustment to my meds, which won’t be coming until the 29th, and I’m going to have to pay out-of-pocket, which also sucks.  Work has been really stressful, which is both good (we’re getting more business, which is *excellent* for us) and bad (I’m having trouble keeping up with it all). My grandma fell and broke her wrist and her hip and had to have surgery.  We did get a nice weekend in the mountains last weekend, though (pictures to come…it was beautiful).

Unfortunately, this week showed me the ugly side of corporate America.  We had some “restructuring” which didn’t impact me directly, but affected the guy who took a chance on me six years ago and hired me even though I didn’t have any experience and knew nothing about the industry.  He’s a really good man and a good leader, and I feel blessed to have gotten to work for him.  He’ll still be with us, but in a different capacity, and it’s been a really hard thing to process while trying to keep up morale among us.  I still have a job, though, and I am grateful for that.  And I’m even more grateful that I love my team.

I’m also struggling with trying to let go of the desire to accomodate everyone.  I’ve always been that way, and it often leads me into friendships where I care about the other person more than they care about me…which breeds a lot of resentment on my end.  Detaching myself from that is something that I’m vowing to work on.

There’s no detaching me from this right now, though:

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🙂

Secrets of Successful Thesis Writing

I promised myself that I could blog as a reward for rewriting my introduction of my prospectus.  I don’t know how I’m going to bribe myself to get the rest done.  However, I will say, now that I have part of the rewrite under my belt, I am feeling much better.  I’ve also spent two hours or so corresponding with my advisor, and she has been really helpful, so the chances that I’ll spend tonight sobbing about anything/everything like I did yesterday are much lower.  It’s amazing to me how much being overwhelmed about this project can affect my ability to handle anything at all.  That and being home alone because Joey is on a trip with the guys (note to any freako pervs who may read this and want to break in:  I will shoot you dead.  And you can believe that).  I’m doing better with the solitude today, though.  It’s funny to me that, even though I enjoy and value time spent by myself, I don’t really like being alone all that much.  I can remember being a kid at home and crying all by myself when my parents went somewhere and I was home alone.  I wasn’t scared or anything, I just liked having them around.

I am getting more done without Joey here, though, so this is a blessing for me.  And, since he’s gone, Shelli is having to settle for second best and is currently sleeping on the couch with me.  I love this.  However, I am a slow coffee-drinker and have a bladder the size of a hamster, so I’m currently sitting here with lukewarm coffee and an intense need to pee.  Ah, the price we pay for the happiness of our fur-babies.

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Here’s what the other half of my immediate surroundings looks like.  Except now, there’s an empty tupperware container that had sliced deli ham in it.  Lunch of champions, folks…coffee and sliced ham.

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I’m totally amazed at the writing process for this prospectus.  I cannot begin to imagine what the next few months hold in the actual thesis-writing process.  I can tell you a couple of things I’ve learned thus far, though:

  1. Your first draft sucks.  Expect it.  Send it in, get criticism, pick out a few sentences that work, and then scrap the rest.
  2. Research *anything* that you think might have to do with your topic…not just about the novels you’re discussing.  In addition to the three novels I’m working on, I’ve ended up researching mental illness among Latino communities, mental illness and feminism, feminism in Caribbean literature…you name it.
  3. Think of your research as a pot of spaghetti; do a ton of it, and toss it at the wall to see what sticks.
  4. Ask, ask, ask, ask questions.  Dialogue with your advisor…about lots of things, not just the paper at hand.  This is a lot harder if you’re doing DE, but it’s worthwhile.
  5. Cut some slack in other areas of life.  I had to beg off on a slumber party last night that I was looking forward to.  I didn’t want to do it, but a peaceful evening at home spent sobbing about life and this paper, followed by a good night’s sleep left me refreshed and prepared to take on this paper this morning.  Some times you’ve got to be okay with letting things go.

OK, back to it.  Enjoy your Saturday!

2011: A New Year!

Today is going to be a good day!  It’s MLK day, so I’ve got the day off, and the morning is being spent like this:

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I can never pass up a Shellikins on the lap; it’s a rarity for me, since she usually wants to be on Joey all the time.  So, it dawned on me that, because things were so crappy, I’d neglected to post the resolutions I finally came up with for the year.  Here we go!

  1. Further My Education; (1) Graduate, (2) complete PhD applications
  2. Improve my health, fitness, and weight.  (1) reduce takeout to once a week, and make it last two meals if possible.  (2) Plan meals one week in advance. (3) eat mostly paleo and reduce refined carbs, (4) incorporate exercise every day!
  3. Lead a more peaceful life/reduce stress:  (1) Yoga at least once a week, (2) read Bible and pray every day, (3) have one fun outing with Joey every week, (4) establish morning and evening routines, both for myself and with Shelli, (5) incorporate 15 minutes of cleaning the house per day.
  4. Be a better friend/more thoughtful person
  5. Tighten back up financially, (1) the aforementioned reduction in takeout, (2), meal planning (getting our grocery/toiletries budget back down to $50 per week)

In an effort to improve both #2 and #5, we bought a Wii with the Wii Fit Plus package!  It was a bit of a steep up-front cost, yes, but when we did the math, we’ll save about $300 over the year over our memberships to our gym, which just isn’t convenient to us and doesn’t really fit our schedules.  I prefer to workout in the morning, but to do that, I have to get there at 5 am, right when the gym opens.  As much as I’d like to, I just can’t get myself up at 4:40 to be ready to leave at 4:45.  However, I can get up at 4:55 to do thirty minutes in the morning before I get in the shower!  Or even get up at 5 to do 30 minutes since it won’t really hurt to be five minutes later.

Here’s our home-screen:

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Initial thoughts:

  1. I do not appreciate that the little voice goes “Oooh!” when I step on the balance board/scale.
  2. It hurt to see my BMI and have the little voice tell me I’m obese and to imitiately change my Mii (avatar) into the chubby girl you see above.
  3. It’s TOTALLY awesome that you can enter your pet!  Shelli is just under 8 pounds, by the way, which is very healthy for her, so we’re not trying to change her weight with it.  However, she did NOT appreciate being held so that we could get her weight.  She got pretty pissed.
  4. It’s FUN!  It’s really nice to have something to work toward, and the games are great for a workout.  When I played it at my friend Katie’s house over the weekend, I was really sore the next day from the workout that I got…but it doesn’t usually feel like exercise because it’s a game.  Good stuff!

In other news, my prospectus draft has been submitted and I’ve gotten feedback, so the next step is revision and resubmittal, and then hopefully it’ll be good enough for submission to my committee for the meeting.  I’m feeling positive about it now rather than overwhelmed and my advisor is very involved in my progress, so I don’t feel nearly as lost.  Middle Eastern Lit has been interesting so far; I’ve read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, which was thought provoking and made me uncomfortable with my own thoughts/beliefs and assumptions.  That’s the sign of a good book, my friends; confronting uncomfortable realities isn’t a bad thing.  Too many people shy away from it.

That’s all; Maury is about to come on!

Snow Day Part Deux!

My office closed today!!!  It’s supposed to get progressively worse throughout the day, moving from snow to freezing rain, so we’ll see what happens in the morning (I’m guessing a delay), but for today, I’m totally satisfied at having gotten the snow day that I was wishing for. 

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That was just about sunrise…it’s *really* coming down now…can’t wait to make snow cream after lunch.  Shelli’s feeling a little camera-shy today.  There’s also been some Dirty Jobs today.

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And a most excellent omelette.  And lots and lots of coffee.

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So, I started eating paleo again yesterday.  With a few exceptions, of course.  Like snow cream, artificial sweetener for my coffee, and low-carb dairy.  However, I’m not going to be eating as much meat, but the crap-ton of veggies thing works just fine for me.

I’m so freaking overwhelmed by this thesis prospectus thing. *sigh*.

New York and Halloween Spookiness!

Howdy!  I finally got my pictures together and got some time to myself, so I thought I’d share the past couple of weeks with you!  I had to get stuff ready to lead discussion this week at school and had a paper due, and I’m still dealing with this hacking cough thing, so I buckled down and focused on what I needed to do (that, and I’ve been ODing on tv since we got DISH Network and I have channels now!!  Brain Atrophy, let’s begin!!)

So, here we are at the airport, me and Katie:

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Saturday, we saw a show:)….and it was awesome…over-the-top, fun, everything a musical in New York should be!

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Sunday, we went to Ground Zero, which was probably the most important thing I did.  When we entered the gallery, it was just as though it had happened yesterday.  I won’t post a lot of the pictures, but this one gripped me:

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At the end of the gallery, there was a room with a table and these cards where you could share your thoughts.  They were posted all over the room.  Here’s what I wrote:

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Monday morning, we walked Central Park.  We ended up reading the dedications on the park benches for most of the walk.  Here was one of my favorites:

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Here are Katie and I with the promo poster for the concert; let me tell you that the experience of preparing for and singing in Carnegie Hall was surreal.  Saturday, we had eight hours of rehearsal, broken into two sessions with a lunch break.  It was like being in a very detailed, advanced music class.  The director threw technical elements at us, and there was a diction coach who taught us different ways to pronounce the words we were singing so that it would come across correctly to the listeners in Carnegie Hall.  On Monday, we had a four hour dress rehearsal before the actual concert.

The concert hall was incredible.  I don’t have any pictures because of Union Rules…the only one who could take pictures in Carnegie Hall was the union photographer.  We’re supposed to get them emailed to us at some point, so I’ll post those once we have them.  Suffice it to say that it was beautiful.  Melinda Doolittle was so nice and adorable, and Travis Cottrell was great, too.  I really feel blessed to have gotten to do this.

Last weekend was pumpkin carving time with the BFFs…here are the boys, being silly as usual:

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Shannon’s pumpkin:

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My pumpkin:

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Joey and James actually carved two sides of the same HUGE pumpkin.  Here’s James’s side:

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And Joey’s side:image

Joey’s feeling pretty sick right now, so we’re hoping that he’ll start to feel better because we’re planning to hang out with James and Shannon tonight and I’m making a special meal as part of The Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program!!

Here’s a super-spooky Kins-shot for you.  Happy Halloween!!

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Knitted Yarmulke, Baby Gifts, Camping Pictures, and Sob-Inducing Books

I knitted a yarmulke the other day.  It’s kind of awesome.

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I also finally finished my knitted gifts for my favorite blogger, Heather of Heather Eats Almond Butter.  I wanted to wait until I knew she’d gotten them before I posted pics of the finished objects.

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The Sleep Sack is Comfort Wool’s Owlie Sleep Sack.  It was my second attempt at cables, and it was amazingly easy…this is a great beginner pattern for someone looking to try their hand at cables…the cabled portion is short and sweet, just enough to push you out of your comfort zone, followed by ten inches of mindless stockinette, during which time you can silently rejoice over your conquering of the dreaded cable needle;).  The owls blocked out really well.  I used Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Cotton, which was insanely soft.  I’m totally going back to spend some green papers on more of that to make myself a sweater sometime in the near future.

And here are some camping pics…I intended to post these earlier but somehow didn’t feel like posting during my recent bout with the plague (come on, freaking left ear….pop already).  Here’s the campsite

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It was fabulous…secluded, wooded, spacious.  There was an elevated pad for the tent, which was nice…it rained on us Sunday, and if it had poured, the tent pad would have kept us from getting flooded.  Check out this fire ring…

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It was HUGE.  We could have put a whole tree trunk in there…Joey actually had a little trouble managing to fit the cooking grate in it.  You’re looking at our breakfast Saturday (9/25)…potatoes, leftover chili, and hot coffee.  Food is better cooked over a fire.  I don’t know why.  It’s just that way.

I’m leaving for NYC on Friday, to sing with the choir at this concert at Carnegie Hall.  My voice is starting to go (for some reason, that’s always the last thing to happen when I contract the plague.  Once, I lost my voice for three weeks).  I’m hopeful that I won’t end up lip-syncing during what’ll probably be my most outrageous singing experience ever (of course, I’ve said that before and here I am heading to NYC). 

I’ve re-discovered how much I hate shopping.  Before leaving, I needed:  a bag to carry around the city, a duffel bag for packing, a black top for the concert, new black shoes for the concert, and jeans (I only have one pair that I can get in right now).  I have been to EVERY (affordable) store in Charlotte.  And I hate it.  I’m a mercenary shopper…I run in, attack the racks, try things on in an insane frenzy of elbows and hair, sweating and ripping things back off and half-putting them on the hanger right.  But I’m finally done…four pairs of jeans from Goodwill, a bag from Burlington, black top from Belk (in the south, it’s “Belk’s”), and Aigner shoes from The Shoe Dept (on clearance for fifteen bucks!).  I don’t want to shop again for the rest of the year.

So, I’ve watched Criminal Minds, Joey’s watching a show on PBS about the Moral Majority and abortion…they totally just showed a clip from the 80s where Jerry Falwell was giving a speech about abortion and got a pie thrown at him.  Wow.  And I wish that I had remembered to get a decaf latte at Caribou when I met my parents after work.

Oh, and this week’s book for class, Our House in the Last World, by Oscar Hijuelos, reduced me to a snot-dripping, crying, basket case for half an hour this evening.  It’s a great book, but for once, I’d like to read one that doesn’t make me cry and wonder what’s happened to my life.  It also makes me want to write things that are that important.  But I don’t know if I really have anything that important to say.

Here’s the baby…sleeping soundly on Vellux.

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Love to all…

Apple Cider Vinegar, My Left Nostril, Kitty-Melodrama, and Shopping Woes

**edited to add**  I am absolutely not contagious.  I went to the doc on Tuesday of last week and got an antibiotic, and I am contagion-free.  Just not snot free.

I’m on the fence about this apple cider vinegar thing.  Right now, it’s just making my stomach burn and making me want to puke a little.  It hasn’t worked to clear my sinuses like all of the websites say (don’t ask which one…it’s all of them.  Trust me.).  Maybe I’m supposed to actually flush my sinuses with ACV, but I have a feeling that would burn even more.

Lingering issues are my left nostril and my left ear.  My left nostril is still stuffy and my left ear needs to pop, more specifically (I almost typed “poop”…hehe).  I have most assuredly had enough fluorescent yellow snot to last a lifetime.  I’m pretty sure that I’m going to cough up a lung during this concert at Carnegie Hall and it’ll fall onto the stage and Melinda Doolittle will slip on it and slide across the stage and into the well-dressed, mild-mannered crowd.  If you hear that story in the news next Tuesday, you’ll know I was the culprit.

Shelli is growing increasinly dramatic about her food lately…even though her bowl is still well-filled, she has taken to scratching incessantly at the office door (which stands between her and her plastic carton of food) as though she hasn’t been fed in weeks and is making her last attempt to procure nourishment before resorting to going all “Donner Party” on us in our sleep…It’s kind of cute.  But mostly annoying.  And a little unnerving.

I hate shopping.  I have to find a black dress shirt and black shoes for the NY trip.  I found a shirt, but I’m not really thrilled about it.  Whenever I shop by myself, I wander aimlessly through the store, randomly touching things, until I get frustrated and leave.  Sometimes, I’ll flip through the clearance racks, but if I can’t find something absolutely glorious for under ten bucks, I’m pretty much guaranteed some sort of inner tantrum.  This problem has only been exacerbated by the fact that I have to go to the “Women’s” section sometimes.  When in the hell did I become a “Woman?”  Not “Misses,” not “Petite.”  I grudgingly let go of the Junior’s department when I hit my mid-twenties and everything in it started looking like it came straight out of a whorehouse.  But entering into the “Women’s” department is a whole different animal…it’s like they expect you to age up a decade the minute you move into a Size 14.  I will give it one more try before I leave for NYC.

Recipe, Cat-Quirks, Smelly Office Fish, Insanity, and Panini

First, check out my Crockpot Taco Soup Recipe!

I’m all about easy recipes.  I tossed the stuff in the crock pot on Tuesday, let it go all day, and we had a super-easy dinner when we got home.  Can’t beat that.

Check out Her Highness getting the spa treatment from Daddy:

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Shelli-quirk factoid:  she doesn’t really like to be combed, but she LOVES to be brushed (which does nothing to remove hair).  What you can’t see in the pic is the brush in the floor that she’s rubbing her head on; it’s a bribe tool…she lets us comb her as long as she can roll around on the brush, and then when she gets irritated with the comb, she gets brushed as a reward.  Cats are weird.  But wonderful:).

So, someone brought fish into the office today for lunch.  Talk about breaking one of the foundational rules for maintaining harmony among coworkers.  If you’re going to funk up the office, expect to be talked about.  And Office Karma will get you.  I’m certain of that.

I was forced to take desperate measures to maintain my productivity…

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After an amazingly deadly Insanity workout, we noshed on chicken-and-feta paninis on na’an.  I used a skillet as the weight.  I did wipe off the bottom first so we didn’t ingest skeevy incinerated-burner-dirt.  The sandwich was awesome.

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I ate it with some cucumbers.  I turned in my paper.  And so commences the night of MST3K and The Smoking Gun Presents:  World’s Dumbest.  Peace out.

Blisters Suck and Quinoa Rocks

Shelli, shortly before a spaz attack

I’m going to have to figure out a good way to deal with blisters if I’m going to be successful at this running thing.  I put bandaids over my blister from yesterday and it hurts even worse today.  I didn’t let it stop me, though.  I heard electrical tape or duct tape works, so I’ll probably try that Saturday when we go.

Today is my Dad’s BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!  Happy Birthday, Dad!!!  You are most definitely the bestest dad in the entire world.  And, for the record, my dad is totally B-A.  Which is awesome:).

I tried Quinoa for the first time tonight.  It’s really easy to make…the instructions are virtually the same as for white rice, but you get something of much greater nutritional value.  It’s a 1:2 ratio (quinoa:water)…bring to boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  The taste?  Slightly nutty and corny, and chewy.  I thought it was fantastic.  And it’s cute, too, with the little curly tail.

I’ll have a pic of my dinner and a recipe for you tomorrow (stupid Picasa hasn’t uploaded it yet).

Now, time to take my tired arse to bed.