Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Fridge ...

It's been nearly a month now that I've been consciously selecting my daily meals to meet certain nutritional goals (a month in which I've lost 12 pounds so far, thankyouverymuch), and I've noticed a startling change in my eating habits. Specifically, I'm no longer interested in the high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar content foods that dominated my cravings as recently as December. For instance, I have had two mini boxes of the delectable candy-coated candy known as Nerds sitting on my desk for the past week and a half. Two! In October I'd practically down these things two at a time, if given the chance. I'll eat them eventually, I'm sure -- it's not like I've stopped loving their crackly dissolving sweetness -- but it'll be a box at a time, probably several days or weeks apart, when I've easily come under my calories for the day and want a little sugary treat. Totally doable.

Further evidence: I had a particularly stressful meeting today and hadn't eaten lunch yet (nor was I very well-hydrated) when I stopped at a colleague's desk and spotted her candy dish. Behold, an individually-wrapped Reese's peanut butter cup! I snatched it up instinctively, joyous at the prospect of such bliss. And then, nothing. I didn't open it, haven't eaten it, and haven't wanted to. It was so much of a pick-me-up to have it in my hand, I didn't need to put it in my mouth. Like the Nerds, I'll probably have it eventually, but I find it odd and somewhat reassuring that I'm not greedily scarfing it down.

I did have a bit of a treat today, though. When I did make it downstairs for lunch, I made up a salad -- another strange development in my eating habits, I must say, the way a salad can suddenly sound so good -- but because of somewhat meager offerings on the bar today it wasn't a very big one and I knew I would need more sustenance for the rest of my day. I browsed around a while and finally selected a container of rice pudding -- oh, how I love rice pudding. Really, 140 calories wasn't going to break the bank by any stretch and given I'd eaten exactly zero grams of fat all day, I kind of needed some. Balance, after all. The thing is, it was almost too sweet and too heavy. I didn't want that much of it, and what I did eat left a lingering taste in my mouth that was almost distracting in its artificiality. The pudding wasn't any different. I've had it many, many times before and I can attest to its perfect sameness. I suspect that it's me who is different, which is both an exhilarating and a worrisome prospect. After all, I want to live a healthier lifestyle and be more fit and provide a better example for my kids, but I also think I will miss the cookie-cutter ease of a fast food combo meal or a mid-afternoon vending-machine-candy-bar-boost, and I'm not sure I'm up for all that work involved in planning and preparing smarter options. My life is stressful enough as it is.

Then again, if I don't like those types of foods anymore, I guess it follows that I won't really miss them and that seeking out the foods that I do crave won't seem like such a chore.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Writing the Rest

Here's the thing: I'm kind of obsessive.

Not to sound full of myself or anything, but I have a talent for writing. It's been more than 20 years since I discovered that fact, hence I'm confident and free from guilt in saying so. But I am OBSESSIVE about getting it right. I edit and revise and cut and paste and start over several times mid-first-draft. Obviously this makes for slow-going in the finishing department. It's not the only reason I don't finish -- that's a psychological fishing expedition for another day, I'm afraid -- but it has a significant impact. How do I buck the trend, then?

It occurred to me today that I like a lot of songs purely for a particular line or turn of phrase, be it the hook of the chorus or a throwaway couplet in the second verse. Even if the rest of the song, the meat of the song, is mediocre or twee or downright nonsensical, a great lyric will endear it to me forever. This is what I want from my writing now: one great line, one sublime paragraph, or a perfect piece of dialog. That's what I'm striving for. If I can get one solidly great sentence out of every piece, it'll be worth it. The rest will come. It's a new year and a new decade, and I'm in the mood to let go.

This is me letting go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's in a Name?

So, my boyfriend has a blog and last night we were talking about his last post, in which he mentions me. Sort of. That is, he calls me Mistress Shilayla of the Forest, a name that originated when we were first getting to know each other more than three years ago. I assume he did this in part to preserve some privacy for us, which I appreciate, but I know he also did it because he loves that name. Loves. It.

It came about like this:

We were talking about his name, which is the same as his father's. His father, incidentally, goes by his middle name, Mike, which is also what my boyfriend has been called by his family since birth. However, as an act of rebellion some time during his school years, and almost certainly also because in an official capacity (for work and school and government offices) it's easier, he began using his first name. Now he practically has dual identities, where all his old classmates and co-workers call him by his first name and his whole family refers to him by Mike, his middle name. I assimilated to this situation pretty easily; all my mother's sisters go by their middle names at home, so it wasn't a new phenomenon to me. However, we agreed it's hardly the norm and so it would be odd for someone to assume a person goes by any name other than the one given on, say, a class roster or a job application. Which brings me to my point.

For whatever reason, people far and wide have trouble with my name. Granted, Jessica was just coming in to fashion around the time I was born, so I can understand it being odd or difficult to remember years and years ago. But today women named Jessica are EVERYWHERE, so to still be called Jennifer or Rebecca or (I'm not kidding) Esther, is sort of mind-boggling. I promise I am not that forgettable. Similarly, I have found myself in several instances in which someone (a college professor, a job interviewer, etc.) has asked me my name and then asked if that's what I go by. ...Seriously? I just don't know what kind of question this is. You've just asked my name, I've given it to you, and then you ask if that's what I want to be called. What else would I want to be called, if not my own name? How on earth does someone answer this question? "Yes, my name is Jessica but I would prefer it if you referred to me as Mistress Shilayla of the Forest."

And so it goes. He's never said so, but I strongly suspect that's the moment my boyfriend first fell in love with me.

What does this have to do with this blog, you ask? Nothing. Except that names carry a significance for me. I decided last night, during this conversation with my boyfriend regarding his own blog, that I should bite the bullet and start my own. I've done so before, time and time again, only to get off-track. Now is the time to change that pattern. I need to just write, dammit. And that is a perfect name for a blog. Not just to write, either, but to ALWAYS write. Every day. As much as possible.

I also like the clever wordplay. Because, as my dear friend Laurie can tell you, she knows everything, but I, on the other hand, am always right. Dammit.