Archive for November, 2009

Belated gobble gobbling

I was at my parents’ home in suburban Atlanta for Thanksgiving last week.  Actually, I was there since last weekend, as my car broke (again!) and I’ve been sort of stranded by my immobility.  I got dropped off there on the way back from a frisbee tournament last Sunday – me and ten of my friends went to Hunstville in a 15 seater van, for a weekend of frisbee, adult beverages, and turkey (there as a full thanksgiving dinner for the 28 teams there – glad I didn’t have to cook that!).

My in-laws spent the holidays at my parents’ too, as did my aunt, uncle and cousin on my mom’s side.  Oh, and did I mention Husband was there?  Husband came home!  Hooray!  Though, booo to the bit where we finally got to see each other in a house chock full of our relatives.  BOOO.

It was a good week, all together, though I was more than ready to come home yesterday.  A little too much family for me, this time of year.  I bribed one of my besties into rescuing me, and now I’m trying to motivate myself into finishing the relatively minor edits necessary to wash my hands of this dissertation stuff.  Almost done…

So, I know I’ve been nearly non-existant as far as the internet is concerned – sort of an NaAntiBloPoMo, for me – I’m hoping I can get my head back into this soon.  It’s just, I’m in this bizarre holding pattern.  I kind of don’t live anywhere right now – my stuff is still here in my house  for another 2 weeks, at which point it will begin the trek to WA; my husband is not here, my friends are all over the place.  I don’t have that much to do, but I’m busy as all get-out, somehow.  My car certainly isn’t helping matters.

I suppose the real impediment is that the inside of my brain, lately, is a catalog of complaints: my car is broken, my husband is way over there, my friends aren’t conveniently located, I don’t have a cat, I’m not sure how to pack my belongings for the move, I have a giant huge enormous zit on my chin (again).  Writing that stuff down makes me feel like an overly-negative (or perhaps overly-entitled?) little whiner.  I’m hoping it passes, but I fear that it won’t until I’m done with this limbo period.  I’m still managing to have a great time with my friends and family before I skip town, but when I am alone and thinking, it’s not the best.  I’m also hoping that seeing Husband last week re-set the clock on the crazy, since now it’s onlt 3.5 weeks till I see him again – but that’s soooo loooooong waaah!  I’m going to get an advent calendar, since he’s coming home on Christmas.

Shit!  No car, no advent calendar.  Le sigh….


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I’ve been laying low for a bit, post-defense (was on Friday, passed, hooray!).  Hopefully my mind will un-smoosh soon, because having jello for brains is pretty worthless.

To bed!

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Mmm tasty-ish

After paying more attention to my diet for the past 5 days or so, I’ve realized that I eat a lot more poorly than I realized.  I mean, I know things have gone downhill as my defense has gotten closer, and since Husband left… but damn.  So basically I kept track of what I was eating for 4 days without changing anything or going out of my way, and then this morning I went to the grocery store.  For the first time in quite a while (2 months…. Husband did it before, and since he moved, I’ve been relying on food from Subway or from my roomies).

I have tried looking up good information on this diet on the interwebs, but there is so much quackery and bullshit that it’s actually been pretty hard.  Really the best info I’ve found so far was on Epicurious, actually, which I think is a bit of a travesty.  There was a federally funded study on the effects of following an anti-inflammatory diet, but the details of the diet followed weren’t available, and nor were the results.  I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised – this diet, named as such, only begins appearing primary literature within the last decade or so, and it’s never delineated that well.  The basic idea, so far as I can tell, is to eat very little carbs (no refined grains, maybe some whole grains or maybe none, no white rice, brown rice is ok…), lots of leafy green veggies, fruits (especially avocado, tomatoes, oranges…), nuts (especially walnuts), very little poultry, beef, or pork, lots of oily fish (salmon and trout), and lots of garlic and ginger and certain other seasonings.

So, I’m sort of a picky eater, in that I never really want anything, I just dislike some food less than others.  Except for cake, I almost always like cake.  And, I do genuinely like food, I can just never decide what I want.  But, I often don’t breathe through my nose while I’m eating, and don’t chew properly so I can eat faster (all of that sounds incredibly weird when I write it out).  Anyway, I was walking around the store trying to get things that sounded good – I like avocados, but I like them as guacamole (…with chips), or with tomato and salsa (…on tortillas).  I love pesto, made with spinach, walnuts, parmesan, olive oil, and garlic (…on pasta).  The recurring problem is that the vehicle for the good stuff is “bad” stuff.  I got some gluten free brown rice pasta… and it was disgusting.  Like.. gluey.  Gross – I would rather just eat straight pesto, but that’s sort of hard.  So, I decided that I am making a solid effort, and reducing the amount of refined carbs I’m eating, but not eliminating all together – I had the nasty pasta for lunch, and regular with dinner.  Plus, I’m not sure if corn tortilla chips (for the guac) or corn tortillas (for the little taco things) are “bad” or not.

I think I’m going to go visit the nutritionist through my university to see if she can help me lay out a diet with good meal ideas, and also just help me get a better handle on what is good and what’s not.  I am feeling sort of pessemistic about it for some reason, I guess I’m afraid it might be too much hippy bullshit, or not scientific enough for me – since I am having trouble finding it myself.  But, I’m trying to quelch that thought process, and hopefully I will have something more constructive to follow next week.  Until then, I’m trying this at least better version of a diet, even if it isn’t quite right.

Oh, and with my pesto pasta, I had salmon, baked with some olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and lemon zest.  It was fantastic.  If I could eat that every day, I would, but my wallet wouldn’t like it… and there’s that whole mercury thing…

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Ok, so over the past um.. forever, my body has a had a range of problems, generally small, that at this point are putting a serious damper on my wallet and my social life.  I get sick only occaisionally, but when I do, I get SICK.  Like, strep throat for 6 straight months, or sustained fever above 103 for weeks for no apparent reason.  Or, idiopathic optic neuritis (a major risk factor for multiple sclerosis), chronic dry eye, and an allergy to my contact lenses.  Lots of random stuff, none of it especially terrible all by itself, but together…  expensive.  Keeping me from playing frisbee, among other things.

So, today I had a follow up appointment with my optometrist for the dry eyes bit.  The lacrimal plugs didn’t do much, so he prescribed me some eye drops that should stimulate tear production.  To the tune of a couple hundred dollars a month, as there is no generic.  He also asked me a lot of questions about my diet and stress levels.  I’ve always thought my diet, while not stellar, is certainly acceptably healthy.  I don’t eat McDonalds, as a rule (though I was forced to while at the hospital while my nephew was making his debut – and it was NASTY), I don’t eat excessively, I generally eat meals prepared from basic ingredients rather than processed stuff.  But, you know, I had a reese’s peanut butter cup for breakfast this morning.  And yesterday I didn’t eat any fruit.  So, not that great.

So, my optometrist started talking about a “proinflammatory diet”, and I admit I sort of started to tune out.  I mean, I’m healthy!  I’m athletic!  I’m smart – I’m a toxicologist, and I don’t need to hear about this cockamamie hippie bullshit.  But, wait – the little wheels in my little stressed out brain started turning, and the overarching message was this: listen.

And so I listened.  And took notes.  And ran home, and started reading primary literature.  And, and, and: it makes sense.  Just because my diet is better than most Americans’ doesn’t mean it is the best diet I could have.  I eat too much meat and not enough veggies and fruits.  I eat more sweets than I ought to, though I eat less than many people.  I love bread, and pasta, and generally anything made from grains.  And scientifically, I know all about the benefits of high intake of omega-3 fatty acids versus omega-6.  I know why, physiologically, the former are great, and the latter suck – omega-6 FAs are used in inflammatory processes.  Being in a constantly inflamed state can lead to all sorts of shit: degenerative diseases, heart disease, cancer.  So why won’t I eat an effing orange instead of that reeses cup?

I think it comes down to accountability.  So, even though this road is fraught with the dangers of mild exercise bulimia if I start doing the calorie thing, I think I’m going to start recording my food intake.   The quality rather than the quantity, because my weight isn’t the issue.  The issue is the constant, basal level of discomfort I am in every day, even the best days.  The issue is that I can’t wear my damn contacts long enough to go to the gym, much less play frisbee or go on a date with my husband.  The issue is the amount of money I spend on medicine and doctors visits.  If I can prevent that through my diet… well, I barely like food anyway, so why not eat things that are good for me instead of whatever seems least unpalatable at any particular moment?  I mean, if I could opt to take a pill every morning that would give me all the perfect nourishment for the day, but couldn’t have a single meal after that, I would.  But, I can’t.  So I will try this instead.

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Turned my dissertation in to my committee a week ago today.  Since then I have:

1.  Hung out with my parents

2. Spent a weekend drinking excessively with frisbee friends in a secluded cabin in North GA

3. Became an Aunt!  Woo baby time.  This involved logging many hours in a hospital, and dealing with some forlorn cats at my bro’s house.  Oh, and nibbling on adorable baby fingers.

4.  Taught my advisor’s classes

So, despite being pretty damn busy…  I’m curious to know why I feel like I’ve totally withdrawn from life for the past week.  Maybe I’ve just been on mental vacation, or maybe it’s because I’ve been so absent from my house (and my roommates).  Certainly it’s because Husband is gone, and that has an odd way of making it seem like it’s been one interminably long day since I dropped him off at the airport.  I think that the next month (or two) will be an interesting mix.  I don’t feel inclined to socialize in my town anymore – most of my network is a minimum of an hour away.  And for some reason, SusieTime (i.e. me, alone in my room, generally watching something stupid on ABC family…) is increasingly important.  Maybe I’m gearing myself up for the fact that, come January, it’s going to be mostly SusieTime for at least a while.  But that seems silly – seems like I ought to be maximizing the fun?

Looking at my little list up there, though, I guess it seems like I am.  I guess I’m just not as mentally present for all that as I could be.  Because mentally, I’m all over the place – Atlanta, Washington, Savannah (hi!)…  I haven’t been fully engaged in most of what I’ve done recently, because I’m always thinking of someone else who is somewhere else.

At any rate, the overarching feeling I’m left with after turning in the dissertation isn’t necessarily relief…  it’s actually loss.  That’s not quite right though.  I guess I just feel kind of unmoored, not sure what to do with myself.

You know, since actually starting to work on my defense presentation hasn’t yet seemed necessary.  Great plan, Susie!  Let’s see what happens.

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