Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekend To-Dos

1. Buy copious amount of wine in preparation for family gathering.
2. Attend grandfather's 90th birthday. Drink wine.
3. Write resignation letter. Wine.
4. Prep for Tuesday's Season 6 "LOST" premiere. More wine needed.
5. SLEEP.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cellulite and other dimples in time

When Hubs and I took our road trip in July, something about seeing so many different things and being away from my job for two weeks sparked ideas in my brain. Go figure.

I came up with a couple of ideas for novels, and wrote them down in the notebook I carry with me everywhere. If I hadn't come up with these ideas, I'm not honestly sure I'd be quitting my job on Monday.

And that's not to say that they are brilliant ideas. They are just ideas. They are not going to win me any prizes or blow anyone away. They are not necessarily "deep" or meaningful, although they are not without meaning.

Without giving away the plot, I want to tell you that one of my ideas is about a fat girl.

I've always been obsessed with weight, whether it was mine or other people's. Not that I've always had problems with my weight, but I remember my mom always being concerned about her weight. As a child I was thin, but I assumed I was fat and should worry over my bony frame. Don't ask me why - no one ever told me I was fat.

My first diet was in grade school. I was not overweight, I know that now. I was a school sit-up and jump rope champion. I had a boyfriend named Danny and I thought he was the cutest boy in school. I remember seeing my butt reflected in a window some time around the sixth grade and being surprised because I thought it looked nice, appealing.

In the seventh and eighth grades I could run a 7-minute mile. I didn't have boobs yet and rarely wore a bra (I forgot to wear a bra on the day they were checking our spines for scoliosis, which in hindsight is a really weird thing to be done in a middle school). I was still convinced I was overweight, despite the nice ass sighting in the sixth grade and the fact that there was no proof of me being overweight. I envied a popular girl with long blonde hair.

I'm about to get all "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" on you in a second, so consider this fair warning if puberty milestones make you queasy.

I didn't get my period until I was 14 years old. All of my friends had gotten theirs by then. Some of them got theirs when they were only 10 years old (God forbid), shortly after we'd been shown a video about menstruation and babies sometime around the fifth grade. I continued to assume I was a complete freak. If someone were to X-ray my body, I was sure it would look completely fucked up -- unlike any human body that had ever been seen by an X-ray before.

Thank God for the early 90s grunge era, with its oversized everything. I gained weight in high school, inheriting the thighs that were rightly mine, passed down from a long line of big butted German women. And since that time, around sophomore year, when I was suddenly wearing a C-cup, my weight has fluctuated like a motherfucker. I enjoyed a few sweet years in my 20s at a reasonable weight. I felt attractive and happy about my body. The rest of the time I've been at war against myself.

So it stands to reason that I would want to write about a sister in arms, a fellow chub fighter - oh, she of the large thighs that rub together when she walks.

I'll be gathering anecdotes about being a Lady With More To Love and pinning them to the bulletin board that still needs to be obtained and hung in the office where I plan to write. I welcome any observations about those of us fighting the battle of the bulge that you'd like to send. For example, when I lie on my side, my stomach pooches down onto the surface below me, and I rub it and it feels like something foreign that is not a part of me.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Strict New Office Rules

So among the many lists I am making right now in an effort to make sure I don't quit my job and then suddenly start suffering from the delusion that I am a lady of leisure is my list of Office Rules. Any office, whether at home or in a real office, can only benefit from some sensible guidelines on appearance and behavior, otherwise, what will this world come to, I ask you?

Here's what I've got so far. I welcome any suggestions as additions to the list.

1. The boss is always right.
2. Jeans or other comfortable pants are mandatory.
3. Drinking alcohol on the job is encouraged.
4. Music (loud or otherwise) is optional.
5. Whenever the mood strikes, employees are encouraged to burst into boisterous song or simply make funny noises with their mouths.
6. No high heels, under any circumstances.
7. Employees must be showered and wearing makeup each day. (This one comes from my mother, who thinks me quitting my job is a fantastic idea and says, "But you have to get up, take a shower, and put on makeup every day." Yes, ma'am!)
8. Wearing one's fanciest jewelry or insane scarves is encouraged.
9. One should lie on the floor and see if one can touch one's toes with one's legs completely straight when creativity is waning.
10. Web surfing is an integral part of the job and employees should be prepared to read a number of different blogs every day.
11. To garner inspiration, employees are encouraged to take a laptop to coffee shops, libraries, or wherever the hell else they think creativity may strike.
12. Statements of self-doubt will be met with swift punishment via a phone call to someone encouraging.
13. Employees are encouraged to maintain a work/life balance and should ensure they are getting enough exercise and sleep.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Come To Jesus

One thing that happens when you publicly declare your intention to do something is that people will then expect you to do it.

So now that I've declared my intention to quit my job and spend my days writing, my friends and family are perched in anticipation. They are ready (as I'd hoped) with bountiful advice, not the least of which was received from fellow risk-taker and P90X Cabal member Catprick, who has decided I should quit immediately.

Because there are not many reasons for me to wait to quit, unless you count paralyzing fear and guilt. I am equally convinced that I will be successful and a complete failure. I am wracked with guilt for leaving my team at work in the lurch, since we're already down one member. But, as Catprick says, the company would not hesitate for one moment to get rid of me, if it wanted to. Also, every minute I spend sitting in this beige, fluorescent lit cubicle hell-hole is another minute that I have failed to work toward my dream.

So I have decided I am quitting next Monday. That will give me a week to gather my thoughts, figure out a business plan of how I will accomplish my goals, and assemble some kind of schedule that I will try to adhere to so I don't spend my days watching "Family Feud" and eating cereal straight out of the box. It gives me a week to figure out what to do with my 401K and what my new health plan will look like. It gives me a week to work up the nerve to change my life in a huge way.

Now that I've made up my mind that I'm doing this, I'm oscillating between pride and terror. I'm proud to join the ranks of several of my brave friends who have embarked on their own business ventures, and I'm terrified that I will be a complete failure. I'm also worried that I will get lonely working at home or that Hubs will start to resent me, although I know better.

As many people have reminded me, though, if I do fail, the worst that will happen is I'll have to go find another job.

So here's to taking risks! Is it too early for tequila?...

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Decision Has Been Made

After some wine and tears and discussion last night, I have made up my mind about how to meet my rather hazy resolution of Pursuing My Real Dream in 2010:

I am going to quit.

And write.

I am going to take a leap of faith, take a rather humongous risk, and write.

So that is the plan so far. No timeline yet on when I will be quitting. I want to have all of my ducks lined up first and have a clear vision and plan of what to do before I just up and quit. So, I'm thinking maybe in a few months?

It is a relief to have a plan, however vague, and to know I'll be trying something I know I enjoy and think I might be OK at. It will eventually be a relief to be able to go public, put my name on my blog and not worry about my employer finding it (if they haven't already). Because although I tried not to blog about my job, it's too much of a pain in my ass for me not to. I'm a born kvetcher, if nothing else.

So here goes nothing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Pact


On Saturday, at a wine party (That's what it was. A wine party. With wine.), my friend Meagan flashed her She-Ra bicep at me, and it scared me a little. There is pretty much no doubt in my mind that she could knock me out with one punch. And then she said that she'd just purchased a shirt in size EXTRA SMALL. Now, I'll let you in on a not-so-secret: I've never been extra small anything, unless it was extra small motivation to get off the couch and get some exercise.

So it goes without saying that everyone was fascinated with the new muscular development in Meagan's arms and wanted to know just what in hells bells was going on. And she said: It's P90X. And I said: What the fuck is P90X?

As it turns out P90X stands for Power 90 Extreme, and involves 90 days of rigorous interval training that you do at home, while watching DVDs. It was developed by Tony Horton, who is one of these frightening-looking muscle-head guys with a 14-pack.

And as we all gaped in wonder at the beauty that is Meagan's biceps, we made a pact (I later mistakenly called it a "cult," but it's a pact. Yes. A pact.). It's called the P90X Pact (actually, it's now called the P90X Cabal. According to Merriam Webster, cabal means: The artifices and intrigues of a group of persons secretly united in a plot, as to overturn a government; also a group engaged in such artifices & intrigues. It can also simply mean club or group). There are seven members. In no particular order, we are: Catprick, Meagan, crazychristie, Kem, BMAC, D, and myself.

On Sunday, an inspired Catprick set up a Google group for us to join and sent us each an invitation. The invite in my email read: "As everyone knows, the best time to make any decision is when you're super drunk at a wine party. Those are decisions you can stand behind and stick with."

So, in the spirit of Clean Slate and Angry Determination, I shall be participating in the P90X challenge. I haven't yet started, since I had yoga last night. Tonight I need to pick up some resistance bands and then perhaps I can start this Extreme workout. I'll keep you posted on the cabal's progress.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A rare moment

One of the ironies of my life is that I am a former reporter who avoids watching the news. When horrific things happen, I avoid turning on the news and I skip over newspaper articles.

It's not that I don't care. I just don't want to know. I already know something awful happened. My soul aches when I read about or watch people suffering or dying. It haunts me and my sleep. I feel helpless and guilty for my warm home and refrigerator stocked with food and silly problems that, for these people on the news, would be nothing.

With the recent earthquakes in Haiti, I've been avoiding the news like crazy. I know it's terrible, what's happened there. No one can avoid hearing or reading about the tens of thousands of people who have died or the bodies piled in the streets or the thousands of injured people who need medical attention but are forced to wait, outdoors, for some relief from foreign aid.

Last night, I accidentally watched about 120 seconds of the news program "60 Minutes." A doctor with hard eyes was showing a reporter a sea of bloodied, bloating, dead bodies. Thousands. Lying, sprawled in the dirt, legs and arms spread. A tractor was shoveling the bodies into a trailer, preparing to cart them off to a mass grave. There is little choice right now. The bodies are so numerous and rotting in the open, something must be done immediately. Individual graves are a luxury that cannot be afforded right now.

It was right over the line that American news programs usually will not cross. Dead, bloody bodies. No effort to shield viewers from seeing the faces of the dead.

I wept. The crushing horror would be unimaginable if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, protected as I was on my sofa, thousands of miles away. It hearkens back to black and white images of the mountains of dead in the Holocaust, except these people are black, these images are in color, this time is now, and the colorful clothing of the dead is torn and stained with their blood. I felt thankful I was not there, among the dead or the living. I felt guilty.

The program showed a medical team improvising -- using a hacksaw to amputate a small boy's leg. Again, no effort to shield viewers from the gruesome reality of what was happening. Rather, the camera went closer. A doctor sawed. The leg detached. It was placed on a table. The stump lay there, exposed. I was shocked.

Hubs and I agreed to stop watching.

I asked him if we should make a donation. He agreed that I would donate whatever I felt was appropriate. Well, appropriate is relative. We have so much compared to people left homeless, injured, perhaps with their families killed. I donated an amount that, for us, is generous, considering our history of not donating.

I thought it was appropriate to acknowledge the rock in my stomach and the sickening images burned into my brain today. I don't feel better having donated. I just think I have done what I could, and should. I believe many people feel the same.

If you've been thinking of donating, may I prod you in the direction of giving an amount that you are comfortable with? These people are experiencing a level of misery that I hope you and I will never be forced to endure.

Tomorrow I'll be back with my standard light-hearted fare...

Friday, January 15, 2010

The good news is that alcohol exists

It's been one helluva week. I feel hung over, but I haven't been drinking. I feel vaguely sore, like I've been beaten. I feel all full up with crazy, so no more can be poured in. I cannot entertain any more asinine conversation today. I am unable to raise my eyebrows.

This week I started reading "The Lovely Bones," and I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner, even though it's disturbing. It's well-written, and God bless the author for not writing in a cliched way. It's hard to explain, but so often I feel like I'm reading the same sentences over and over.

So far this week I worked out only twice. I am disappointed in myself. I also ate too much chocolate. I might be PMSing.

My Clean Slate Ridiculous Optimism is wearing off, but replacing it is an Angry Determination to remain in control. I have control of me and it's all I've got. If I allow others' behavior to affect me achieving my goals, I've lost the only thing I have.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Clean Slate Recharge

Yesterday I let my job derail my Clean Slate efforts. I was definitely not being Ridiculously Optimistic. I was angry, frustrated, exhausted and overwhelmed. I skipped yoga and went home to lick my wounds. I lay on the couch with my favorite blanket pulled up to my chin and stayed there, prone, for an hour. Hubs came home and I expressed my desire to never move again, but instead willed myself to make dinner, and then promptly ate approximately 9 million chocolate covered peanuts (Seriously, these chocolate-covered peanut things, called Hubs? Are like crack) while watching a recording of "The Biggest Loser."

I expected this. I knew the most difficult thing in my life to change would be my job, and seeing as how I spend at least nine hours a day at it, I knew it would be a source of frustration and would likely make me want to eat my weight in peanut-butter chocolate ice cream. I knew it but I was still determined to make this whole Clean Slate thing work (as an aside, Hubs has taken to calling me "Clean Slate").

This morning I felt mentally incapable of returning to the office but instead, I got up and got ready for work. Fortuitously, I thumbed through "Competitor" magazine (given to me last Friday by my soul sister Christina) and saw an article titled, "Erasing Excuses." Reading it was the mental equivalent of being slapped in the face and having a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. Suffice to say I have hit the reset button on Clean Slate, and am ready once again to kick ass and take names.

I recognize it's all right to have bad days, and even to go careening off the diet plan temporarily, but I will not let outside influences determine how I am going to live now. I am in control now. Not my job. Not anything or anyone else.

So there.

In more positive news, yesterday was the first weigh-in at my office's Biggest Loser Challenge, and I am currently in third place (among 17 competitors) with a 1.7% weight loss. Slow and steady, baby.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thinking Big Even Though It's REALLY BIG

Hubs and I are lucky to have wonderful friends. On Friday night, Christina and John came over for a long planned-for dinner, arms full of gifts: a beautiful photo for our wall, a bottle of wine, two running magazines (for my resolution to run a 5K) and a can of chocolate covered peanuts called "Hubs" (delicious, by the way). And, in true Christina style, she'd brought a list of things she wanted to remember to discuss with me. She was worried she'd forget, since she was exhausted from her new exercise regimen that requires her to get up early and trudge on the treadmill (Clean Slate!).

I don't remember if this was on her list but she mentioned an online class she took called Mondo Beyondo, which was about dreaming big, instead of dreaming "next step." As Christina says, if you set a goal, such as her goal of being Ridiculously Optimistic, what is the worst that could happen? You experience disappointment? Perhaps you'll have better luck next time.

So she has some huge goals and made me feel more ridiculously optimistic about my own huge goals when she admitted that she is not at all certain how to make at least one goal come true this year, given that it appears to be impossible. Because I am not sure how some of my own goals are going to come to fruition. It will take huge strides on my part.

But I'm telling you: There is something about 2010 that is special. This is the year of Getting It Done. Making It Happen. I've lost 4 pounds and feel ridiculously optimistic that it is only the very beginning.

Let's keep this momentum going...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Buh-Bye Chubby Back Fat

Well I've once again gotten involved with a group of women at work with New Years stars in their eyes and all the optimism in the world when it comes to losing weight. They've named this year's weight loss challenge The Biggest Loser Challenge, and we will all be judged based on our percentage of weight loss, much like the "Biggest Loser" TV program does.

There are 17 of us.

I plan to kick all of their asses and take their money (a total of $170 due to entry fee of $10 apiece).

The challenge started yesterday and ends on March 17.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A murderer who made a mean latte

Yesterday I found out that the manager at the Starbucks I go to every weekday morning murdered his ex-girlfriend and then killed himself on Friday.

This is not something that my mind accepts. I accept that people kill each other and that people commit suicide. I just cannot accept that someone who I saw almost every morning for a year would do something like that, and that I would have no inkling that they could be capable of such a thing.

What I knew about him was that he was a salesman's saleman. He was a bit intense. He smoked cigarettes. He had tattoos. He rode a motorcycle. He was polite. He knew what I wanted before I asked for it. He participated in fund-raisers. He always thanked me and told me to have a good day. He always apologized for a long wait. He made a great grande skinny vanilla latte.

Now, it seems, I also know that he shot a young mother three times before turning the gun on himself. My brain has created a film of what happened, but I can't reconcile it with the image of the man who always smiled politely and asked "Your usual?"

Walking to get my coffee this morning, I passed the table with the ashtray on it, where I would often see him smoking, and a chill ran up my spine. If his ghost is lurking somewhere, this is where it is. I entered the shop and it was empty, save three police officers sitting in a corner. That's unusual for a Tuesday morning. I chatted with some of the employees, who are the regular crew that have apparently returned to work. I mentioned that I noticed the regular employees were out yesterday, and one quipped,"We were abducted by aliens." I smiled.

That is probably what it feels like, though. To work for someone who commits murder and then kills himself. It must feel surreal, and like a betrayal, in a way, and shocking, and awfully sad.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Clean Slate

It is officially the first Monday of the New Year, in addition to being a Monday that starts with an even number in an even-numbered year (fortuitous in my household), which means New Year's Resolutions are in full effect.
No worries, I only have 41 resolutions this year. It's a working list. Some of the items have a question mark next to them. For example, I know I definitely want to run a 5K, and I think a 10K is a good next step after a 5K, so I put, "Run a 10K?"
Oops, I just thought of a 42nd resolution, excuse me a moment while I write it down.
There we go.
So anyway, I've been chanting a mantra for a good two weeks now, it's my New Year's motto: Clean Slate. I feel unusually optimistic about 2010. It's a new opportunity to set goals and accomplish things and then look back later and say, "Holy hell! I actually got something done."
So when someone asks me if I've set New Year's resolutions, my answer is something like, "Oh, yes. Clean slate."
During parties over the holidays, I enjoyed many a food item that is not on my 2010 Food Plan, and I excused this behavior with the explanation: "2010 -- Clean Slate."
And I really mean it. I am over myself. Meaning I am over making excuses for myself. Everyone has stress in their lives or even has to bury family members -- it's something everyone has to do eventually. It doesn't help me or anyone to allow these kinds of things to completely derail me.
So: Clean slate.
Say it to yourself enough times and you might start to believe it, too.
Clean slate.
Maybe say it with a "superstar" knee bend and both hands jazzy in the air: "CLEAN SLATE!"

Friday, January 01, 2010

MOAM's Best & Worst of 2009

I can scarcely believe an entire year has passed since ... well, since last year ended. It seems like I tossed and turned in bed, woke up, and the whole year was done and over with, leaving me with the taste of corn pone pie in my mouth and feeling a bit like I'd been beaten with a cast iron skillet.

And in reviewing this year's blog posts, what a year it was! Sometimes I feel like nothing is happening in my life and I am a seriously boring person, but in re-reading a year's worth of blog posts, it becomes absolutely apparent that I am a very lucky, busy person who drinks too much wine.

So without further adieu, I give you The Lists:

MOAM's 10 Best Moments of 2009

10.We adopted our precious, furry sons, Simon and Murray. They are only the BEST CATS ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH, even though Simon totally destroyed the Christmas tree, not to mention the curtains and all of our furniture.
9. I got a new site address this year, which was sort of cool. Changing my web address to www.zeromusings.com has brought me exactly zero new readers!
8. My only cousin birthed the most adorable child one could ever hope to meet: Jordan Elizabeth, who shares a middle name with me. Elizabeth is also the name of my grandmother who passed away in late 2008. As 2009 seemed to be the year of happy babies, my friend Diane also gave birth to baby Elise, who seems content to sit and smile.
7. I lost 11.5 pounds on that crazy ass juice diet (which I did in February if you care to look at the archives). I wasn't sure whether to put this item on the "good" or "bad" list, because I promptly gained the weight back. I then lost it again after contracting swine flu, so whatever. Anyway it made for interesting reading, I think.
6. We went to Alcatraz. My aunt and step uncle visited and the family took a boat to the tiny island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco bay.
5. 2009 was the year of home improvements and purchases. We bought a grill, got a new fence, painted the house, got a new fridge, got a new couch, did a little bit of landscaping... Even with all of this having been done, our home is not housewarming party-ready, much to our friends' chagrin.
4. We took a little anniversary trip to Napa in April, drank bountiful amounts of wine, ate delicious food, and rode on the wine train, which: don't bother (with the train, not Napa).
3. We finished cleaning out Hubs grandma's house, a task that we never really thought we would have the will to complete. But after many, many weekends, we did finish, and managed to get it rented out, which means, insanely, that we are landlords.
2. I received my actual college diploma in the mail. Which, pardon my French, holy fucking shit. I never thought that would happen, either.
1. We took our long planned-for two week vacation, driving the Pacific Northwest, and we didn't want to kill each other at the end of it!! We were also lucky enough to take a fantastically relaxing vacation to Maui just last month.

MOAM's 10 Worst Moments of 2009

10. Well, what can I say except that I am still a roly-poly little pastry eater who can't seem to turn down a carbohydrate when it is offered to her. The task of losing weight will again be added to my list of resolutions in 2010, and I think I'm already headed in the right direction, having signed up for some punishing yoga classes.
9. Still stalled at my current job.
8. Swine flu. A month of it. At one point, lying on the couch, I understood how people die of the flu. Being sick for that long is extremely frustrating, and all I had was the flu, not cancer or something serious. But being unable to take care of myself or perform normal household duties or go to work became maddening, to the point where I spent too much time crying in self pity.
7. Something I'd forgotten about until I read about it recently on my own blog -- I spent about a month with a rash all over my body. Didn't know what it was, but it itched like a mofo and then, thankfully, went away.
6. We went to see Ladytron on a school night in the city and they fucking sucked.
5. We ran into a girl at Panera who Hubs "went out with" with like five million years ago. Awk-ward!
4. Some little punks defaced our sidewalk with graffiti.
3. My grandparents' health is declining rapidly. Enough said.
2. Hubs had to have an emergency appendectomy.
1. Our dear friend's father passed away rather suddenly. His death has left a gaping hole in a number of people's lives.

I'm feeling very hopeful about 2010, and I hope that you are, too. I have a very clean-slate feeling right now, and I think this will be the year of Getting It Done. Happy New Year!