Friday, December 31, 2010

How do you measure a decade?

Instead of rehashing the past year and it's broken resolutions, I decided to take the lead from a college friend and look back over how the first ten years of the twenty-first century have treated me. As the arrival of an invitation to my high school reunion recently reminded me, I’ve changed a LOT.

2000 – I graduated from high school and broke up with my boyfriend of three and a half years. I moved out of an extremely over-protected home in a small town and began college at Western Washington University, where I immediately became overwhelmed by being on my own for the first time. I drank too much, stayed out too late, and dated the wrong guys. After being put on academic probation for failing grades (I had an almost perfect high school GPA), I spent Christmas break nursing a severe case of mono.

2001  I was feeling uninspired by my pre-declared major in psychology, so I decided to pursue a career in the medical field. I enrolled in a local community college with plans to complete my prerequisites and transfer to a nursing school in Seattle. I became involved in relationship where I was manipulated and emotionally abused constantly, but I couldn’t seem to get out. I began taking anti-depressants and struggled to get average grades in my classes.

2002 – I quit my part time job at a restaurant to work in a medical office, but this situation combined with my school courses quickly made me realize I would not be happy in the medical field. People just kind of gross me out. Uninspired, I began working in retail at the local mall and taking generic classes with no specific goal other than completing my associates degree. I continued to let the same bad guy jerk me around, convinced we were meant to be.

2003 – I continued taking community college courses and working at the mall until I eventually became so discouraged and depressed about where my life was headed that I dropped out of school and moved to Waikiki with one of my girlfriends. We lived near the beach and I worked at an ice cream shop and a clothing store to make ends meet. My parents were less than thrilled. I eventually started to feel claustrophobic and lost on the island, so I reapplied to WWU and was accepted to begin classes in the fall. I decided on a journalism focus and for the first time in a long time I started to feel confident about school and the direction it was taking me.

2004 – I took huge credit loads every quarter to make up for lost time, and was getting almost straight A's in all my classes! I felt confident and motivated, and all my professors loved me. But I basically lived on campus and my personal life began to suffer. I gained weight (which my boyfriend at the time never failed to point out), and felt left out by my roommates, who were enjoying senior year slack off partying. I went to school full time and worked a part time job on campus while simultaneously completing an internship at the local newspaper. Even though I felt amazing about what I was accomplishing academically, I felt miserable about my personal life and relationships. I graduated in December and was relieved to put this part of my life behind me.

2005 – My boyfriend and I had been together for about two years at this point, and planned on moving in together wherever he got a job. In the meantime, I moved home to Olympia and lived with my parents while working as the city government and health reporter for the Centralia Chronicle. My boyfriend got a job in Seattle and subsequently broke up with me over the phone. So I did what any single, lonely girl would do in this situation... I got a job and moved to the city by myself. I re-kindled some friendships with girls I had known in college, lost about 40 pounds, and started to feel good about myself again.

2006 – In between partying it up almost every night with my friends, I dated one bad guy after another. I quit my job at the newspaper, where I had worked in real estate advertising, and took a job as an account coordinator for a real estate marketing company. It didn't take long for me to realize I was completely miserable working for a crazy husband and wife duo, but I didn't know what to do about it so I stayed. I continued to drink too much almost every night with my friends, and when my rent went up I moved into an apartment with a girlfriend to save money.

2007 – Following another particularly painful breakup, my roommate introduced me to Stewart. We became good friends and soon enough, more than friends. We started spending excessive amounts of time together, which took a toll on my friendship with my roommate. I became miserable enough at work that I quit my job and spent the first part of the summer unemployed. Eventually I began working as an administrative assistant for a real estate development company and for the first time in a long time I was happy with my job. Things with Stewart and I continued to progress even though I was dealing with some major insecurity issues.

2008 – I became totally infatuated by my new relationship and loved spending every single second with Stewart. He inspired me to start doing all kinds of things like snowboarding, wakesurfing, and camping. We spent a lot of time integrating our friend groups together and had so much fun taking trips and hanging out in the city. In October we bought a condo in Ballard and moved in together. Neither of us had ever lived with a boyfriend/girlfriend before so it took a bit of an adjustment period, but eventually we settled in and loved cohabiting!

2009 – I was starting to feel like all my dreams had come true. I had amazing relationships with my boyfriend, family and friends and was filling my time with tons of fun activities (other than drinking to excess in the Seattle bars every night). Stewart and I were experiencing many adventures together and we were both very happy in our careers. I started doing boot camps and exercising more than I ever had in my life and was really feeling good about myself mentally, physically and emotionally. I celebrated my 28th birthday in Whistler with some of my best friends and felt so lucky and in love.

2010 – Stew and I celebrated our third anniversary in San Francisco, one of my all-time favorite cities. We continued our adventures and even went skydiving. We spent a ton of time with our family and friends, and I attended my North Thurston High School ten year class reunion. That summer we also started planning a trip to Europe, which Stew had been promising me since we met. We flew out in October to spent almost a month in England, Ireland, Italy and France, and it was hands down the most amazing experience of my life. We were hiking in Cinque Terre, Italy when Stewart dropped to one knee and proposed. Of course I said yes!!

It's truly amazing how much your life can change in the course of a decade. When I read this summary, it seems like I was incredibly sad and lonely for a really long time, although while I was living through it, it didn't seem that way. Hindsight is always 20/20. Maybe things don't seem that bad until you reach a point where you learn what being truly happy is. But I think that's what being in your 20s is for... figuring out who you are and what makes you happy. What your goals are and how you want to achieve them. What I do know is that I'm happier now than I've ever been, and I can't wait to see what the next decade of my life will bring.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Watch Out, Lance Armstrong!

Today I picked up some new exciting toys… bicycles! I don’t think I have ridden a bike since I was about 12 years old, so this will be an interesting adventure. But Stewart and I have been thinking about getting bikes for a while now, and since summer seems to have (finally!) officially begun in Seattle, we figured there’s no better time than the present.

We’ve already identified quite a few friends who also like riding, so we’re planning some little trips and I’m so excited!

Don’t worry though… I promise I’ll never be one of those annoying Seattle bikers… you know the type. The ones who ride 20 miles per hour below the legal limit down the middle of the street with a line of traffic behind them. Who dodge in and out of cars waiting at a stop sign in order to fly right through the intersection against the light. Who ride down the sidewalk screaming “LEFT” while little old ladies careen to the side, walkers and canes flying. Basically the people who give me road rage on a daily basis. No no, I won’t be that type of bicyclist.

Instead, I plan on some leisurely afternoon trips up the Burke-Gilman Trail to have lunch and drinks at the Redhook Ale Brewery. Or an evening ride down to Golden Gardens Park for a barbeque. Or hauling our new fancy toys across the state to ride around on one of our many camping trips.

So basically… watch out, Lance Armstrong!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A promise is a promise.

When Stewart and I first started dating, he promised to take me to Europe someday. Unfortunately for us, planning vacations around our busy schedules has been really hard throughout the past few years, and we’ve barely been able to organize some long weekends (Las Vegas, San Francisco) and camping trips in the three years we have been together.
But now that I am officially done with school and will not be attending law school in the fall (more on that later), and Stewart is no longer a probationary firefighter, so we decided to take the plunge and really make it happen.

We bought our plane tickets today (for a steal of a deal) and I could not be more excited! We fly into London on October 17 and fly out of Paris a little more than three weeks later, on November 8. I know this isn’t enough time to get even a snapshot of everything that I want to see, but at least I will be able to get a little taste of Europe… finally!

I am one of the only people I know who has yet to travel abroad. Stewart is a seasoned veteran. A British citizen, he’s had a passport since the day he was born and traveled to Europe every couple years as a kid. He even lived in England for 15 months shortly after graduating from college. So I will have a very experienced tour guide on my hands!

So now, we’re at the point where we need to start making some plans and developing a realistic itinerary. We know we will start in London and the surrounding areas, where we will visit Stew’s family and friends, followed by Dublin (which I am desperate to see since my mom’s side of the family is 100% Irish!) and then from there we need to prioritize. Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna… I’d like to see them all. Rome is on our “must see” list and we will at some point make our way over to Barcelona to meet up with my friend who will be living in Spain at the time. And of course we will have to eventually make our way up to Paris and will spend a few days there before flying home.

So many amazing places, so little time. It’s really overwhelming at this point, but I’m sure that over the next few months we will settle on a good schedule. My organizational nature just can’t have it any other way, even though I’m sure Stew would prefer that we just head over there and travel by the seat of our pants.

Bon voyage!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HACKED... sort of.

As most of you know, I updated the URL for this blog a few months ago. When I started My So-Called Life in 2006 I was a novice blogger who had no idea that it probably wasn’t a good idea to have the site address contain my real first and last name. So at the risk of losing loyal followers I posted a warning, waited a week, said a prayer, and switched URLs to something a bit more generic.

I’ve been really happy with the new address and it seems like I’ve somehow been able to retain the majority of my readers. THANK YOU all for sticking with me! Especially Bek from Australia, who sent me the most thoughtful message via Facebook last night...

Bek alerted me that something strange has been going on over at my old URL. Apparently, those who still have my previous site address in their feed readers suddenly began to see postings again… WHICH WERE NOT WRITTEN BY ME. Apparently, “Paul” has obtained my old site address (did I mention that it contains my first and last name?) and is using it to post his “Insurance Thoughts.” Strangely, when I go to the link I can’t see any of the posts, just the headline.

WTF?!

“Paul” has no email address linked to his profile and no information listed other than that he is a male Leo, aged 36, from the Bronx.

I find this whole situation to be a little weird and frankly quite aggravating, because I made the decision to switch URLs specifically because I do not want a site address out there containing my real FIRST and LAST name! I have no idea what to do about this. I used Blogger’s Help feature to report it as a spam blog, but I don't know if that will really accomplish anything.

Ugh, I’m annoyed.

Does anyone have any advice or can you tell me why or how this happened?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

On Marriage...

My parents celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary today. Now that’s an accomplishment to be proud of, if I do say so myself!! They’ve had their ups and downs over the years, but I really admire them for sticking it out, and these days their marriage is stronger than ever.

Sometimes I feel really terrified about the prospect of getting married because I don’t want to fail. Two years ago I was a part of four different weddings, and since then half of them have ended in divorce… there’s that 50% divorce rate you're always reading about, I guess. Statistics like that, especially when they hit so close to home, just make me feel slightly wary about the whole situation. Almost like… why even bother if your chances of making it are so slim?

But then I look at my parents and the life and family that they have built together, and I think that maybe someday I can make it work, too. Here’s hoping…

Congratulations, Mom & Dad, on 31 fantastic years together!!

Are your parents still married? What are your opinions on marriage in general?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Adrenaline Rush

I jumped out of a plane on Sunday, and lived to tell about it. Yep, that’s right, I can finally cross skydiving off my Bucket List!

As a graduation present for Stewart’s stepbrother, we made an appointment at Skydive Oregon last weekend, and by Sunday morning we were on our way to the jump zone. Surprisingly, I didn’t even feel that nervous. We arrived at 10 a.m. and less than an hour later we were walking across a field and climbing into a teeny, tiny airplane. You’d think panic would have started in by this point, but I was actually feeling great! The short flight to 13,000 feet went by quickly while we enjoyed the gorgeous views and got some last-minute pointers from our instructors. Then the door opened and it was time…

All of the sudden, Patrick was gone. As I inched my butt forward on the narrow seat as Stew looked back, gave me a thumbs up, and then he was gone. I scooted my toes toward the edge, looked to the right and gave my photographer a big smile, and jumped. (Okay, my tandem instructor might have had to give me a little push…) But there I was, experiencing the thrill of freefall for almost a full minute! I’m pretty sure I had a ridiculous grin on my face the entire time. The sensation wasn’t even like falling at all, it was more like flying. All I could think was, “Is this really happening?!” Then, the parachute opened and we began our swaying decent, enjoying gorgeous views of the mountains and Portland on the way. My instructor even let me steer! Awesome.

I am so excited that now I can say I have been skydiving! I never thought that I would do something like this, and I even paid an extra $95 dollars for photos and a video of the entire thing, figuring that it was a once in a lifetime experience that I would want to remember forever. However, now that I’ve done it, I would definitely say I would go skydiving again at the next opportunity! Woo hoo!

As if that wasn’t enough, I decided to max out my adrenaline for the day and sign up for another first… riding a motorcycle. I’ve always been terrified of these death machines, but Stewart’s dad rides and since it was such a gorgeous day we decided to take advantage of the opportunity and he offered me a ride. This is going to sound strange, but the motorcycle ride was much scarier than skydiving! I felt way more out of control flying down the highway on the back of that bike than I did jumping out of an airplane. Very weird. But when you skydive, the ground is so far down that it’s almost like your body can’t process what’s happening… it doesn’t even know to go into panic mode. But on a motorcycle, the pavement is just a few feet away, and it’s absolutely clear that if the driver loses control, death is right there to greet you in the form of smashing into the pavement. Yikes!

So I think I’m done defying death for now. I’m still coming down from my adrenaline high and I’m sure this feeling with last me a while. I still have bungee jumping to cross off my bucket list, but that can wait… for now.

Have you ever skydived? What are some items you’d like to cross off your Bucket List?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I got VD in Portland

I have been wanting to go to Voodoo Doughnut ever since I saw it on Man v. Food last year. Voodoo Doughnut is a little independent doughnut shop in Portland that is known for its unusual doughnuts and d├ęcor, and when Man v. Food host Adam Richman visited he sampled treats like the Bacon-Maple bar, a traditional maple bar topped with strips of fried bacon, and the signature Voodoo Doughnut, a gingerbread man-shaped pastry with a pretzel stick stabbed through its abdomen and red jelly “blood” filling. I just had to check this place out.

A trip to visit my sister and her husband outside of Portland last weekend provided the perfect opportunity. Late Friday night we headed into downtown Portland in search of Voodoo magic (the shop is open 24 hours a day). About 11 p.m., as we drove slowly past our destination, I noted a huge line of people stretching down the block and around the corner. “There it is,” my brother-in-law exclaimed. I insisted that could not be the line for the doughnut shop; there must be a new nightclub opening next door or something. But no! Another drive-by revealed that the line was for Voodoo Doughnuts, and it was getting longer by the minute! We decided to drive across the bridge and check out Voodoo’s second location, hoping the wait time would be a little more realistic. 

At Voodoo Doughnut Too, things weren’t looking much better, but that just made me all the more determined to find out just what is so special about these doughnuts! Even though the line was almost out the door, we entertained ourselves by checking out the shop’s eclectic decorations which included a photo booth, pinball machines, and a bench made out of a coffin. As we gazed hungrily into the display case, the sweet smell of sugar and fried fat tickling our noses, we were completely overwhelmed. In the end, we decided on a Baker’s Dozen filled with traditional varieties.

I was in love with the Bacon-Maple bar (it was just like dipping sausage in your leftover pancake syrup!) and the Grape Ape (a raised doughnut with vanilla frosting and grape powder). We also tried an Old Dirty Bastard (a raised doughnut covered with chocolate frosting and crushed Oreo cookies and drizzled with peanut butter). Unfortunately, we never did try the Cock and Balls doughnut, featuring cream filled “balls.” Too bad, I would have loved to watch Stew enjoy that one, ha!
Have you ever been to Voodoo?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Nerd: Better Off

Let’s just say I read A LOT. I’m in two book clubs. Nerd alert. When I was a kid I used to get in trouble for reading under the covers with a flashlight. In hindsight, I wonder what my parents were so worried about… at least I wasn’t glued to the boob tube. Anyway, since literature constitutes such a large part of my life (mainly, my morning and evening bus commutes), I decided I would share little tidbits with you here every now and then.

Don’t worry, my intention isn’t to turn this blog into a book review site, but I think a few quick opinions here and there might be interesting to at least some of my readers. So here goes…

Last night I finished Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, by Eric Brende. I originally bought this book because I noticed several other bus commuters reading it, and I thought it seemed interesting. It’s a true story about a young couple (a MIT grad and his new wife) who have become disillusioned with the way technology has taken over our lives. So, as an experiment, they move to an undisclosed community where the lifestyle is considered ancient even by traditional Amish standards.

The book is written like a compelling story, and even though it is non-fiction I was really drawn in. It highlights the couples’ struggles and triumphs throughout 18 months in the community, including the birth of their first child (all without the help of modern technology). In the end, they did choose to leave the community, but to this day they live with a very limited amount of technology in their lives. The author still doesn’t have a computer at home and only got an email address at the insistence of his editor.

The thing I especially liked about this book is that the author took a very objective and non-religious standpoint. He looked at the benefits of the community’s lifestyle without getting into the religious implications. It makes the reader ask the question: How much technology is needed for human comfort and leisure? Now, I find myself pondering how technology influences society, and wondering if there is too much of it in my own life. Maybe I should close my Facebook account. Or not... Just interesting stuff to think about.

It’s a quick read and I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for something to make the wheels in your head turn for a while.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Free Money

If you ever have the chance to opt into a class action lawsuit, do it. I’ve received paperwork several times in my life offering the option to participate in these types of lawsuits. Usually I fill out the paperwork, mail it in, and forget about it. Then, months and months later, a check magically appears in the mail! Not for a lot of money, but still I feel like I got something for nothing. Very exciting stuff.

This weekend I received a check for $37.50 from the iPod nano Cases Settlement Fund. Apparently, when I purchased an iPod nano several years ago, the cases scratched easily. I never really noticed or was bothered by it, but hey, I’m not one to turn down free money if it’s offered!

What, oh what, will I do with all my extra spare change?! Let’s see, it is enough to…

  • Pay half of my cell phone bill for this month
  • Purchase seven used items from my Amazon.com Wish List
  • Buy myself lunch for an entire week
  • Go grocery shopping so I don’t have to buy myself lunch for an entire week
  • Get myself a skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks every morning for two weeks
  • Go to happy hour twice (or maybe just once)
  • Buy some adorable wedge sandals
  • Make my favorite Real Change vendor think he died and went to heaven
Decisions, decisions.

What would you do with an extra $37.50?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Has Sprung

My boyfriend and I actually had “Spring Cleaning” marked on our calendar this weekend. Yes, we planned it out in advance. Sometimes things like this really make me face reality… I am getting old.

Because I have to admit I feel super excited about what we accomplished. I know, I know, it’s super nerdy to feel such tremendous pride about two days of deep cleaning, but I really do feel awesome. All those little things that have been nagging me for months are finally taken care of. Windows washed, shower tile scrubbed, floors under large pieces of furniture mopped, blinds dusted, and the list goes on…

And to top off just how dorky I am, my main thrill of the weekend was finding these absolutely amazing wipes that make your stainless steel look just like new! I’ve been struggling to find a cleaner to use on our refrigerator, dishwasher, and other various appliances for months that will take off the fingerprints and watermarks without leaving streaks, and I finally found the perfect product. If anyone really wants to know the name of it I can look it up for you.

So now our condo is bright and shiny as a new penny, and my new goal is to keep it that way. We’ll have to see how long that lasts.

I was able to fit in a couple other slightly less domestic activities this weekend, too. I went to an old friend’s birthday party on Friday night at The Parlor in Bellevue. I’ve never been there before but it was a super cool venue! I really want to catch a comedy show there sometime. Saturday I met up with my former boss to work on some materials for a law school that has waitlisted me. She wrote me a killer supplemental recommendation letter that I hope will help my chances. We had a bite to eat at Duke’s on Lake Union and I forgot how much I love that place! On Sunday I had brunch with the girls at Hector’s in Kirkland. If you are ever there, please try the Hector’s Rancheros, it was absolutely dreamy. Then, once Stew and I finally put away the last bottle of Windex, we rounded out the weekend by having dinner with another old friend at Tawon Thai in Fremont. Yum.

So my weekend basically consisted of cleaning and eating. Not the most glamorous, but I still feel like I got a lot done.

How was your weekend?

Friday, April 09, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

I recently received an email from the wife of one of the other firefighters at my boyfriend’s department for an unusual charity drive… prom dresses! She is a high school counselor for a local school district, and started a program collecting donations of prom dresses for girls who may not be able to afford one themselves.

Most women I know have at least one or even several fancy dresses still in great condition tucked away collecting dust in the back of a closet. Old prom dresses, bridesmaid gowns and dresses from fancy benefits that you know you will never wear again. So why not give them to a young girl who might not be able to attend prom, otherwise? Genius!

I immediately set to work contacting my lady friends to collect dresses in all sizes, colors and styles. In less than I week I was able to gather twenty beautiful dresses that will now be put to good use.

What a great opportunity to help give girls who are less fortunate a stress free prom experience! I’m quite proud of myself! Thank you to everyone for your incredible generosity, you really helped make this a success!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Poisoned, Again?

I wonder what actually causes headaches, anyway. I'll have to Google that one of these days. Because sometimes it feels like your brain has swelled so much that it's going to burst through your skull, and there's nothing else that could possibly cause that much pain.

That's what happened to me at 4 a.m. this morning. I woke up with an absolutely mind-numbing, brain-splitting headache. I only get migraines once a year or so, but this was a do-sie. I have no idea where it came from, but it woke me out of a deep, dreamless sleep. I rushed to the bathroom and popped three ibuprofen, expecting to fall asleep again twenty minutes later. But it never kicked in!!

Three hours later the sun had started to come up, and I had to transfer my tossing and turning to the bathroom floor (the only totally dark place in our condo) because the sunlight was making the whole thing twice as intense. I felt like I had been whacked in the back of a head with a two by four. My eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. The throbbing was indescribable. I wanted to cry, but I knew that would just make everything worse. And on top of everything I felt ready to hurl at any moment.

Finally, around 8:15 a.m., the pain had ebbed enough that I was able to drag myself into the shower to get ready for work. I arrived very late and still with a persistent (but, by then, manageable) headache. What could have caused such a thing!?

I did go to happy hour the night before... But I had one sangria and shared an appetizer, and was home by 8 p.m. Nothing out of the ordinary. However, my boss has since informed me that she definitely thinks it was that sangria that did me in. Apparently, this particular drink can be mixed with all different kinds of wine and booze, and maybe the combination just added up to bad news for little ole me. I guess I'll never know for sure, but I'm still wondering...

What exactly does cause a headache?

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What Makes You Gag?

I don’t consider myself a picky eater at all. There are a few foods that I dislike in general… bacon, marshmallows, eggplant. But even these foods I will eat every now and again if there isn’t another option available, or they are part of another dish and impossible to avoid.

But there is absolutely nothing worse than the dreaded banana. Everything about them grosses me out… the flavor, the slimy texture, the weird stringy things inside the peel, the little black seeds. Sometimes I will order a smoothie and even though I chose a recipe that didn’t contain banana, if the blender wasn’t washed out well enough after a previous banana shake, my own smoothie is ruined. All I can taste is banana and it just sicks me out. Banana bread, banana pudding, banana yogurt… I’d rather starve. I can’t tell you how many brunches I’ve attended where perfectly delicious fruit salads are poisoned by banana.

And don’t even get me started on artificial banana flavoring. It takes me twice as long to get through a box of Jelly Bellies because I have to make absolutely certain I don’t accidentally ingest a banana flavored bean. Runts… I won’t even bother with them. There are always more yellow ones, so I end up throwing about half of them away. Even the smell of a banana flavored Laffy Taffy makes me nauseous. And I can’t tell you how many times someone has offered me a handful of Mike and Ikes that I’ve had to spit out because a strawberry/banana flavored candy snuck its way in there.

However, I get these strange cravings about twice a year. Sometimes I will feel the urge to eat a sliced banana on plain Cheerios, and other times I just need to eat a banana with a little peanut butter on every bite. But lately, my appetite has increased. My boyfriend is constantly buying bananas for his breakfast, and a couple times last week I grabbed one on my way out the door. And somehow, lo and behold, a banana with peanut butter has become my favorite breakfast food!

Someone once told me that your taste buds change every seven years, and that’s why as an adult you begin to like foods you once hated as a kid. I guess I buy that… I can list multiple items I used to hate but now think are delicious: beets, seafood, spicy food, coffee… the list goes on.

So either my taste buds have changed, or I am just finally getting used to the dreaded banana. Thinking of it mixed in with anything still makes me gag, though.

Are there any foods you particularly dislike?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's A Lifestyle...

Wake. Brush teeth and hair. Makeup. Clothes. Bus. Work. Bus. Gym. Home. Make and eat dinner. Dishes. Pack lunch. Shower. Brush teeth and hair. Sleep. REPEAT.

I’ve discovered that when you decide you want to live a healthy lifestyle, the schedule begins to consume your life. I feel like I don’t have time for anything anymore other than sleep, work, exercise, hygiene and food preparation. And I couldn’t say that any one of those things are more important than another.

I read books on the bus when my motion sickness doesn’t get too bad. I watch TV and chat with my boyfriend from the kitchen when I am dealing with the aforementioned food preparation. I socialize with a friend before and after classes that we take at the gym. But there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fit in any other “me” activities – at least not while I am attempting to obtain the perfect summer bathing suit figure.

But it’s going on three weeks now and I am exhausted. My weekends have been filled with family and other obligations, and the few hours to myself I do end up with on Sunday evening must be spent on grocery shopping and food prep, in order to save a few precious minutes during the week. I’m just so tired, and the monotony is really getting to me.

However, which is worse… monotony or guilt? I am going to happy hour on Wednesday after work to catch up with an old friend. Maybe I will splurge and get a diet coke. But even if I don’t sample any of the delicious half price appetizers, it’s likely that I will get home too late to squeeze in a workout, and instead of feeling good about reminiscing with my friend who I haven’t seen in six months, I will feel guilt over not hitting the gym. I definitely need to find more of a balance.

Does anyone have any tips? How do I maintain a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy a full and happy personal life… guilt free?

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Bunny Hop

I got to celebrate Easter twice this year. My mom accidentally booked a Hawaiian cruise on Easter weekend this year (a very strange mistake for a devout Catholic), so I trekked back to my home town last weekend to celebrate with her a week early.

I’ve never had strong feelings about Easter either way, but in general it seems like a holiday that’s mostly for kids and religious people. The Easter bunny, egg coloring and Easter egg hunts, stuffed annimals and loads of sugary-sweet treats in every variety you can imagine. Since I am neither a child nor religious, I don’t pay much attention to this particular holiday, except to show up at the annual obligatory family gathering. For my mother, however, Easter is “the most important holiday of the year,” and she was absolutely devastated when she realized her scheduling blunder.

My mom loves Easter. Each and every year she seems to forget that she has children who are adults, and have been for some time. So we opened fully stocked Easter baskets from the Easter bunny with oohs and ahhs, and we colored eggs at the kitchen counter, just like old times. And every morning at work last week I had to explain to one co-worker or another why I was eating pastel tinted eggs.

Then this past weekend came time to celebrate with my grandparents. So we once again make the journey down south for some quality time with the fam. I didn’t give anything up for Lent this year, but I’ve been on a strict diet for weeks and weeks, so I decided that for just one day I was going to eat a normal sized meal… carbs and all. I just can’t resist dinner at Grandma’s house. Ohhh, but it was dreamy! I even finished it off with a slice of homemade apple pie.

However, I paid dearly for my indulgences and spent the rest of the evening in bed with a stomachache. No regrets though.

How was your Easter? Do you have any family traditions?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Disappointed

I take back what I said about Queen Bee Nails and Spa. Things have really gone downhill there. I first started going to Queen Bee about a year and a half ago, and documented my amazing experience here. The shop is right across the street from where I work, so it's very convenient. I've continued to go in for mani/pedis once every couple months since they first opened, and the service has gotten worse at every visit. Today was especially bad. A mani/pedi used to take about an hour and 15 minutes, today they rushed through both in only 40 minutes. Surprising, since the salon was not busy and several of the women who work there were sitting around painting their own nails.

During my pedicure the woman barely even bothered to scrub my heels or calluses, one of the mail reasons I go in for pedicures. She only rubbed one of my legs and sort of halfheartedly thumped on the other one for a second. I thought she was probably having an off day, and since a different woman was doing my manicure, it would be better. It was even worse. I asked her to cut my nails shorter, but she left them all different misshapen lengths. The edges were left jagged and with polish all over the surrounding skin. She didn't use any sort of cream or oil on my cuticles, which are now dry and scratchy. I'm probably going to have to take the polish off and re-file my nails when I get home.

Overall, very disappointing since I went in because I'm going to a wedding tomorrow and wanted my nails to look nice. I've been mildly disappointed the past few times I've gone in, but today was by far the worst... it's likely that I won't go back. It's sad they have let their standard of service slide so much, since I used to recommend this place to friends. I won't, anymore.

OK, I’m off to copy this review to Yelp.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What ever happened to D.A.R.E. anyway?

I really don’t know how I am ever going to be a parent. I just don’t think I am capable of handling the stress. Every time I have to deal with situations in my own life that give me a little taste of what it will be like someday, it puts me into a mild state of anxiety and panic. It’s so hard to watch someone make the same mistakes over and over again.

The great state of California has been working diligently to legalize marijuana, and my little brother seems to think this has given him the right to carry it around with him wherever he pleases. Problem being, we live in the not-necessarily-so-great state of Washington, where cannabis is 100% illegal, especially on college campuses and for underage youth.

As if it’s not enough to have to worry about getting the dreaded “minor in possession” citation… I just can’t understand why my brother needs to pile on the additional risk. He was already cited last year for possession, and now he’s in the same pickle once again. And I just don’t know what to say… I have a feeling that, “Told ya so!” isn’t going to be the best advice in this situation, but I’m just at a loss.

I am a rule follower by nature. Not to say that I didn’t indulge in my fair share of underage drinking, and even other substance abuse, in college. But I was always consumed with paranoia and guilt, and I constantly avoided any unnecessary risks… Never carried alcohol or drugs on me, would not consider driving or getting in a car with someone who was under the influence, blah blah blah. I guess D.A.R.E. taught me well.

Maybe it’s the difference between males and females. Do men feel the need to take more risks? Is it the need, the thrill of the adrenaline rush of not getting caught? Or is it a rebellion against authority… does the notion that since pot supposedly “should” be legal in my brother’s eyes give him the self-imposed right to carry it?

Who knows. But now my baby brother is fighting to not get kicked out of his university, and that scares the crap out of me. It's so hard to be the much older sister, trying to give advice to someone who is living these things for the first time. I realize that we all need to make our own mistakes to learn and grow. and hindsight is alwasy 20/20, but it’s just hard to watch someone's actions when you already know what the outcome will be.

And those are just the feelings of an older sister. I can’t imagine how much more magnified they will be when I am dealing with the inevitable mistakes of my own children. I just don’t know if I will be able to take the pressure.

Which reminds me… did I take my birth control today?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bottoms Up!

As a reward for some overtime work and for completing several large projects, my office manager indulged some of my co-workers and me in a Friday afternoon at Spa Nordstrom. Oh, it was heavenly! We checked in and changed into fluffy white bath robes before heading to the relaxation room, where we soaked our feet and enjoyed tea and lemon water before being escorted off to receive our various treatments. I indulged in an antioxidant cocktail facial followed by a 60 minute massage. And all the while I couldn’t help thinking: I am getting paid right now!!

Of course, I had to leave this incredibly relaxing and therapeutic haven eventually, and my kind hosts had left an entire tray of recommended “products” up front for me. All at retail price, of course. I was able to resist each and every amazing, expensive, and ultimately unnecessary item, including exfoliates, scented neck pillows, and… what’s this? A ten-day cleanse… hmmm…

As a person with persistent digestive issues, I’m always looking for a miracle cure, so I couldn’t help myself from picking up the box to ask some questions. Recommended by the woman to did my facial, OCEA DRAINE claims to help eliminate in-depth, helping regain lightness and well being thanks to its 100% natural formula, combining organic plant complex and algae. It is recommended before starting a refining diet, and enhances a radiant complexion.

That all sounded wonderful, and combined with the glowing recommendations from several spa counter girls, I was suckered in and watched my hand as it handed over my MasterCard. (Is it necessary that I also admit to purchasing the most amazing mascara ever from Lancome? But, I digress…)

It wasn’t until Monday at work that I realized this product is a little strange. It is made in France, and I struggled to even find the English directions, which are simple enough: Daily, dilute one vial in a glass of water or fruit juice, and continue for a period of ten days. What, you may ask, does a vial of cleansing fluid look like?

Upon opening the box, I discovered ten of these thin glass tubes. After finally locating instructions in my native tongue, I learned that I needed to simply (simply?!) break off the fragile ends of one of the vials and then dump it into a glass of water to enjoy the pleasing orange taste. I felt a little bit like a druggie as I tried, as inconspicuously as possible, to use the little plastic tool to snap off the ends of the first glass tube while sitting at my desk at work. Then I spent some time using a bent paperclip to remove glass shards from the end before adding it to my glass of water and having a sip. It tasted like bong water with a slight hint of orange.

This is definitely one of the stranger cleanses I have ever done, and so far it hasn’t seemed to jumpstart the “waste removal process” as the box claims. But I’m only two days in, so we’ll see. At least it hasn’t seemed to upset my system at all, which in my world is always a plus, and I’m allowed to eat normally on it.

So, bottoms up!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Official

That's it. I'm DONE with my law school applications. Each and every one is signed, sealed with a kiss, and delivered. There's nothing more I can do except wait. Ten schools in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Maine (just to mix it up). I'm experiencing conflicting emotions. I'm relieved to finally have the whole thing out of my hands, but now the apprehensive waiting game starts. Realistically, I finished the apps for the schools I really want to go to months ago, but since then I've been applying to the obligatory "backup schools." Moving to another state to attend law school isn't really a feasible option for me at the present time, considering my mortgage on a beautiful Seattle condo that I live in with my even more beautiful long-term boyfriend. BUT, I think getting accepted to some of these so-called backup schools might take the sting out of the fairly likely rejection I will receive from my native state schools.

Point being: I am officially done with the applications and now I begin the waiting game. Please, send good karma out into the admissions universe for me! I'll be sure to update you as the results come in.

This is Sarah, your hopeful pre-law applicant, class of 2013, signing off.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Counting Calories

Thanks to the daily calorie counter I've started using at http://www.everydayhealth.com/, my favorite new fascination is how many calories certain types of foods contain. 

Today, I was headed to Subway to pick up lunch for some people in my office, so I decided to find out if I would be able to eat a sub myself without exceeding my 1,200 calories per day limit. Luckily, current nutrition information is easily accessible from restaurant web sites, so I was able to go online and calculate exactly which sandwich would be healthiest for me. Besides the Veggie Delight (no thanks, not enough for me!) the verdict was:

A six-inch turkey breast & ham sandwich on nine-grant wheat bread with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cucumbers, olives, pickles, salt & pepper, and fat free honey mustard... all for a total of 360 calories. A totally agreeable percentage of my daily calorie intake, I think.

However, as we were eating, one of my co-workers mentioned the obscenely high calorie content of one of fast food's biggest stars: Jack in the Box. Interested, I immediately pulled up the restaurant's nutritional information. I decided to check out one of my college midnight snack favorites, a Jumbo Jack with cheese. Surprisingly, this burger only packs 625 calories... I expected much more.

I realized that if I had eaten a foot-long Subway sandwich, instead of just six inches (which I have been known to do more than once), I would have consumed 720 calories... MORE than that greasy cheeseburger! Of course, one would never eat just a burger without about 450 calories worth of fries on the side, but still. I found the comparison quite interesting.

The more I read, and the more math I do, the more fascinated I become. It's just so easy to consume astronomical amounts of calories each day without even thinking about it. And now that I realize how many calories I was likely eating every day before I was more aware of these facts, I'm wondering... Since I've probably cut down my daily calorie intake by at least HALF (if not more), how long until I start to get skinny, dammit?!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Preliminary Review of a Quick Fix

I think Jillian Michaels' QUICKSTART Rapid Weight Loss Program might have poisoned me.

But it could be a combination of factors... I took both the maximum strength calorie control pills and the maximum strength fat burner pills all day on Monday (as directed). In addition, I started a healthy 1,200 calorie per day diet (although I only ended up eating about 600 calories total that particular day). Also, I went to a Step class at my gym on Monday night, and it was basically the hardest I have ever worked out in my life. I was dripping sweat, which I never do, and I had to leave the room a couple times because I thought I was going to puke.

Afterward, I went home, took some more pills, had dinner (even though I wasn't really hungry) and went to bed. I woke up around midnight feeling just horrible. I felt like I was on an incredibly intense caffeine high, my heart was racing, I was shaking all over and I felt super nauseous. I never did throw up but I was basically awake all night tossing and turning. It was not fun, to say the least.

Tuesday morning I opted not to take any more pills, but that morning at work I was still so nauseous I could barely eat breakfast... which I ended up throwing up. I went home from work around 11:30 because I just felt too sick to my stomach to function. I haven't taken any more pills since, but I couldn't even ride the bus to work today because I was still feeling so queasy.

I still have no idea what the exact culprit is, but not enough calories + intense exercise + diet pills = no bueno.

I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. I usually have pretty intense reactions to medications / drugs. I think they were just too much for me and I was taking them too late at night (because I eat dinner so late and you're supposed to take them every time you eat). So I may try them again once I am feeling better, but at only half the dosage and not after about 5pm so I will be able to sleep. Because they really were working before I got sick... In one day I ate only 600 calories but I didn't feel hungry at all!

My boyfriend was making fun of me even though I was sick, because he says I need to stop focusing on "quick fixes" and instead just on diet and exercise. I explained to him that I am doing those things too, but he still thinks diet pills are dumb. Maybe they are... but these ones are from Jillian Michaels, and I just know she would never give me something bad!! She cares about my health! Right...?
 
What do you think?

Monday, March 22, 2010

QUICKSTART

Spring has sprung, which means bathing suit weather is right around the corner. I've been eating like a cow lately, so it's really time to get my jiggly butt into gear. I'm trying a new approach with several tiers:

DIET: I've cut myself down to 1,200 calories per day, which I am tracking on a food and fitness journal at http://www.everydayhealth.com/. I went shopping yesterday and bought loads of healthy vegetables and proteins, cutting out all carbohydrates, sugars, and unhealthy fats. Basically I'm going to be eating a lot of chicken, seafood, and veggies.

SUPPLEMENTS: In addition to a daily multivitamin and extra vitamin D supplement, today I started Jillian Michaels' QUICKSTART Rapid Weight Loss Program. It consists of a maximum strength calorie control pill taken three times a day before meals, and a maximum strength fat burner pill taken twice daily.

EXERCISE: My plan is to hit the gym every night after work. I'm currently on week three of my Couch to 5K running program, and I'd really like to finish the entire program before starting a morning Boot Camp around the third week of April.

I feel incredibly motivated, but I'm not even halfway through the first day, so who knows how long this exhilarated feeling will last. I have my fingers crossed though! My goal is to lose 15 pounds before Memorial Day. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Obsessed With Refresh

Well, my company IT department finally decided to block Facebook. It's been a long time coming, and even though I'm not nearly as active in this particular social networking scene as I once was, I sort of feel like I've had a limb amputated. Okay maybe not an entire limb... maybe more like a pinky finger. But still.

So this leaves me with email. And I've realized this week that I might have a serious problem with my Hotmail account. My behavior is bordering on obsession, and I'm wondering if it's considered normal and/or healthy...

I find myself clicking the refresh button over... and over... and over. About every five minutes or so, sometimes even more often. I email back and forth with various friends all day long. While doing my regular job, I find myself in a constant state of multitasking. I'll send a work-related email, and then automatically open Hotmail from the bottom of my screen so I can click refresh and see if I've received a response any of the emails I sent three minutes prior. I'll answer a phone call... refresh. Compose a document... refresh. Schedule a meeting... refresh. It's become as automatic as blinking.

I've thought of conducting an experiment in which I don't check my personal email account once during an entire workday. But this line of thinking immediately brings on a mild anxiety attack, so I've never gone through with it.

Ah well, I guess there are worse things to be addicted to. Clicking refresh and seeing the bolded number indicating one (or more!) new messages is just such a satisfying little adrenaline rush. So I look forward to receiving your emails, friends!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hiatus

I’ve come to the realization lately that I’d like to make the inner workings of my crazy mind a little more private. It’s not that I have anything to hide, I’d just prefer that my blog not come up in a Google search anymore (I’ve scrubbed the entire thing, including comments, of my first and last name many times, but for some reason those dang web crawlers keep finding it).

And of course, I’ve committed the ultimate sin of becoming a blog slacker. I haven’t posted in months, but there’s really no excuse. Sometimes I feel like writing… and sometimes I don’t. However, since making this blog private a few days ago, I’ve gotten several emails from friends, wondering where I had gone! It was really nice to know that they’re still interested in my life and ramblings.

So if you happen to have become a loyal “Follower” of My So-Called Life, left a recent comment, or somehow or other expressed to me that you're even mildly interested in this blog, I’ve sent you an email inviting you to continue to view it. I have no excuses or apologies, but I hope to be posting here more often in the future, and I hope that you all enjoy what you read. I’m just an average girl trying to make it through this crazy thing called life, yo!

I hope everyone is having a happy, healthy and prosperous start to 2010! XOXO.