I got an errant side email from The Roommate while I was at work the other day: “By the way! I need to show you a picture when you get home…I THINK you’re gonna like it :)” I didn’t get home straight away like I normally do; I had to stop at Kroger to pick up some items for a sickly neighbor, I trudged into the apartment, navigated a howling Spook-monster, de-robed and got into gray gauchos, a black peasant shirt with a light blue bandanna. While sitting down on my bed the roommate comes into my room and shoves his open cell phone in my face. I stare. I sit back and he laughs at me. I said “Wait. I need to process what I just saw” I took off my glasses, grabbed his phone, and put it 1 inch from my eye so as I can certainly not mistake what I was looking at (my vision is poor, that’s as close as it has to be for me to truly see detail). I shook my head in disbelief. This is exactly the conversation that followed:
“The Antique Shop down the street”
“I dunno, $89?”
“When do they close?
“Not sure. 5?”
“What time is it now?”
And before he knew it there was a jangling of keys and a streak of teal that ran out the door as I grabbed my teal hoodie and flip-flops.
Heeding no sign man-made or commonsense to speak of I tore down the roads buzzing with rush-hour traffic. The turn into this antique ‘mall’ (as it is so-called) is monstrous to get into. Eternity passed in two minutes as my foot tapped the pedal obsessively.
My car sped into the parking lot, spattering gravel everywhere. I ran out of the car and into the store, which was blissfully still open. I got a number of stares as I raced down the isles in my ill-matching outfit, clutching my cell phone to my ear to get directions from The Roommate. After several agonizing minutes of combing, I found it.
It was much smaller than I anticipated. I plucked a few strings, checked out the body, lifted it, turned it, tapped it, plucked some strings again. Satisfied that it was playable, I purchased it right away. When I initially asked the proprietress if she had a “Chinese harp” as The Roommate had described it, she said she wasn’t sure. When I returned to the counter with it in hand she said she recollected something of the sort but it wasn’t labeled as harp. It was, in fact, labeled as “Music Stand”. Tsk, tsk. She asked me if “Chinese harp” was really what it was, I said no, I think it’s Thai. When I got home, The Roommate said “The website said it’s from…um…..M-Y-A-N-M-A-R…?” (The cute ones are usually dumb, folks. Go easy on him because I sure as shit don’t.) I rejoiced, but did my best not to rub it in, at my musical-geographical accuracy. Burma is quite close to Thailand and the “paisley” end to the neck lead me in that direction.
This is a Saung (pronounced sawng-ah) also known as the Burmese Harp or Myanmar Harp. Of the three possible body types this one is called Thezin Khwe; it is reminiscent of an orchid stem. It is a later model that uses 16 strings; older models have 3, 7 or 14 strings. A famous harpist, Alanka Kyaw Zwa U Ba Than (Than?! Than what?!), added two more strings during World War II.
It was clearly made to be some tourist-trap buy for the unschooled. The body is actually quite flimsy and made mostly of plaster. I can see a bit of a crack at the base of the neck (where it needs to be strongest) but otherwise it is in fine shape. It is even strung in the traditional fashion with only rope and no modern tuning pegs.
Now my only obstacle, apart from keeping it in a Spook-proof area (aka. the top shelf of the closet), is how to tune it! I’m actually very hesitant to try it myself; I’m afraid I might break the already delicate neck. Which makes me wonder if this thing should really be played at all!
In the mean time, until I figure out what the hell I’m doing and get the thing tuned, enjoy some of this great harpist’s masterful playing.
This is a bit unusual (or perhaps this is a new trend for me!) but this post is serving as both a game review and recipe review! For Christmas my best friend got me a copy of “Personal Trainer: Cooking” for the Nintendo DS. As soon as he gave it to me I greedily went through all the recipes and I was immediately impressed at the international scope and variety of recipes; from Belgium to Korea they had borscht and bulgogi with descriptive information and photos for all ingredients.
Like any good student, I went through the recipe steps before I actually attempted executing it. You can manually review the recipe or go through the actual “live” cooking instructions. When I began cooking I was pleased at how easy to use the interface was. When you were finished with a step all you had to do was say “OK” and the little chef in the corner went to the next step and told you what to do. No more messy scroll pad or (if you’re old fashioned) pages to turn! What did prove annoying was that if you did say something that sounded like OK or next it went to the next step (or back!) And if you hit a pot too hard and the microphone registered the sound it would ask you to repeat yourself. Tricky part was finding a safe splatter-free area to prop up the DS! Oh yes, the music is also annoying. Supremely.
The game definitely takes the training approach, assuming that the player is a novice. The steps are extremely detailed – chop the onion, chop the celery, chop the garlic, chop the ginger, now sauté the onion, celery, garlic and ginger – which could have been easily summarized for those more experienced. And that’s what I did with the condensed recipe below. The recipe suggests turmeric rice with naan to serve with the saag but I don’t really eat rice often; so I ate this as it is and was satisfied by the difference in texture between the onion and the creamy spinach. I’d like to make some paneer to serve with it! This recipe is easily “Vegan-able” and can serve as an excellent side dish. I will definitely be making this again! Next time there will be pictures. I ate it too quickly to take any this time!
Spinach Curry (Spinach Saag)
Rinse and chop spinach. Fully cook the spinach in a pot or deep pan until it turns a deep green (this is where the 2 tbs of water come in but I think that the water from the rinsing his plenty). Transfer to a blender, or using an immersion blender, puree the spinach completely.
Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium heat and sautee the onions until golden brown. Add garlic, ginger and tomato and cook until the raw smell of the ginger and garlic becomes sweet and the tomatoes have fully broken apart.
Add the spinach paste, salt, ground cumin and garam masala to the onion mix. Mix well and cook for about 3 more minutes until all spices have been married to the vegetables.
To serve, mix in the cottage cheese. If you are making this to eat for a later date I found that adding the cheese after the curry has cooled a little is just fine before storing it.
I FINALLY beat my record today on the bike!
7 miles in 30 minutes on resistance 7!!!
Well, to be fair, the first 15 minutes were at resistance 5 then I pumped it up to 7 for the last 15 but I STILL DID IT! WOOOO!
Since my progress in weight loss has not been going “as expected by the medical community for someone who has undergone surgery” (my words, actually) I was looking up South Beach Diet recipes again to see if I can’t hash together some things that are more to my tastes. I came across a recipe that reminded me of some breakfast muffins I used to make based off of Whole Foods’ Egg Soufflé recipe (I left out all the butter and put in crumbled chicken sausage and put the whole thing into muffin tins). In this new South Beach Diet recipe I remembered how often Ricotta cheese is used in the South Beach Diet. I also found this post from First Look Then Cook. Yeah. No es bueno. Torn between decadent, eggy muffins and the stuff that I know will be better for me I decided to combine the two recipes and got something pretty awesome.
I love learning new things that can save me money and ease my conscious of purchasing goods with questionable ingredients or are of questionable origin. I decided to do the Ricotta cheese from scratch using Bell’Alimento’s recipe. I’ve made cheese before, Paneer in fact, but it turned out more like Ricotta cheese with a more savory taste to it. This time my ricotta turned out quite good but be warned it is a bit labor intensive; if you can call waiting around for a pot of milk to boil and not scorch labor intensive. The process took several hours so make sure you have some time on your hands. The end result is worth it.
I am by no means an experienced baker. I don’t know what kind of chemical reactions are going on in the bowl and in the oven so I’d like to toy with this recipe more in the future and see if I can omit the flour entirely or find a comparable replacement. Now, bacon is by no means South Beach friendly but its what I had on hand and decided to make use of it. Using Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon would make this a very South Beach friendly recipe.
Mine came out very easily from the tin; putting my cutting board on top and turning over the pain and they slid right out! These are really filling and high in protein and I am sure you could make many different variations of sweet and savory ingredients! I’d love to know if you make anything based off of it.
Links from this post:
I totally forgot to mention last week. I altered my workout routine to include the elliptical the Wednesday before last. I shortened my stationary cycle routine to 15 minutes and then 10 minutes of elliptical.
I wish I had not done this.
My left knee has been in absolute agony since then. I had problems with my knee when I was in high school, never quite this bad, but it went away and would only give me problems when my period came or the weather took a turn.
The cold weather and recent storms have not been helpful. If I could have a heating pad wrapped around my knee at all times I would. I’ve been having a heck of a time trying to find a knee brace that fits my lusciously ample thighs (har har!) but can’t give up my search. I took the entire week off from working out and it sucks. I am looking forward to going back on Monday. I must make a mental note to use their sauna!
In another totally off-topic, angsty rant, is it must me or have most movies lately been total crap or just not living up to their best potential? Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief, Inkheart…now…I know these aren’t new by any means at all, but their subject matter is the stuff that I demand rather high expectations on. Both have fallen very short in my expectations.
I do have to say that one movie definitely surprised me (because I had never heard of it) and moved me in its care and grace.
It’s Samurai Jack meets Ireland.
On Wednesday, instead of doing my 30 minutes on stationary bike, I did only 15 and tried to do the elliptical for 10 minutes straight. It went well, it definitely got my heart rate up to 150 and kept it there for 10 minutes but I kept it at the minimum resistance to keep things easy on me. Wasn’t a big deal honestly! Not extremely exerting. Buut I wasn’t feeling all that great that day so I my whole head heart and body wasn’t into the workout itself. I cut my weight lifting portion short and went home. But by Friday my left knee, the one that usually gives me problems around my period and weather changes, was starting to hurt. But Saturday, it was hurting pretty bad. Today, it’s still hurting and the CVS is out of my size of knee braces. Tomorrow I will try to visit the local medical supply store to see if they have something that will fit properly.
In the medicine realm things are doing pretty decent. My mood has improved and despite that the larger part of me believes I should stay down where I belong. I have also noticed that I am eating less since I started the Armor Thyroid. Hmmm…..
What was I said in my last post? That I’d write piecemeal little excerpts of whatever is on my mind? Has it happened? Hell the fuck no. Am I disappointed in myself? Hell the fuck yes. In more ways that I can probably portray. I am trying to turn a lot of things about my life around because I am intensely unhappy and change must occur if I am to move forward with my life and my plans. But I am letting the same obstacles and excuses to block my path as usual. That is not to say that progress has not been made. I joined an all female gym down the street and have been working out 3 times a week for 1-1.5 hours at a time. I have not seen any weight progress at all but I most definitely am noticing a muscular difference. I am constantly pushing boundaries to see how much I can handle and trying new things to see where I need more work.
My routine thus far is as follows: I start off with 30 minutes of stationary bike. Cardio isn’t my strongest suit but I have been told by the trainers there that I am doing well (I am not using a trainer at this point, I am just using my own body as a guide) 30 minutes on bike starting at resistance 5 and increasing to as high as 9, this gets me about 5 miles. I’ve been told that’s a good amount. I have no idea. I just know I sweat like crazy and my thighs feel like you could bounce a quarter off of them.
After that I hit the weight machines. Waist/hip rotary machine thingy where you sit in the seat and twist from side to side starting at 50 pounds, 2 reps of 20 on each side. Full spectrum of arm exercises. I have weak girly (and flabby) arms. I usually start off at 30 or 40 pounds and do 2 or 3 sets of 12 or more depending on how strong I feel that day. I have noticed a lot of new muscles in my upper arms. I am trying to work out my shoulders as I have had shoulder problems since high school and it runs in the family ending in surgery. Unpleasant.
Back extensions start at about 150 also doing 2 – 3 reps of 20. If I am feeling up to it I lessen the range and push the weight to 190 and do 2 sets of 20 at a very limited motion to work the tiny muscles.
Hip abductions and adductions (or whatever they are called. Both where you push out and in) start at 120, also 2 – 3 reps of 20.
Leg presses start at about 120 and go up. I am disappointed with myself here. In high school I once did 4 reps of 400 pounds without hurting myself. Alas. I am no longer a teenager.
There are a variety of other leg workouts I do but I don’t remember their names. The one where you place the cushioned bar in front of your ankle and push upwards and it works out the front of your thighs (to death!) I am surprisingly weak there. I do 4 sets of 20 reps at 40 pounds and get a good workout there. My knees still creak but don’t hurt (unless the weather changes or I get my period, then it aches like crazy) so I am trying to build this set of muscles to help support my poor knees.
Aaaand the newly introduced seated crunch thingy where you have to lift your legs up to your chest. I avoided this thing for a while because it was the first thing I tried at the gym and was confused as to why I couldn’t do a damn thing on it. Now that I have more experience with the machines I am more comfortable with it but that is certainly the one I am weakest at. I started out with a minus 10 weight. I was very surprised. But I am proud to say that I am at the minus 5 mark. There. Progress!
I have no set routine, I work out the parts I feel need to be worked out. If I feel a body part has had enough time to rest while I was working something else I go work out that part till it gets tired again.
But alas. As I said. I am not seeing any weight loss. I am still at 265. At times I feel like I can eat a lot. Other times, not at all. For example, this morning (or afternoon really) when I woke up, the milk I was drinking was going down very slowly. Tightness is common in lapband patients when they first wake up. I have heard this has to do with the presence of some kind of hormone we have in our system when we sleep.
I don’t eat like a saint. By any means. I just made a batch of flapjacks for gods sake!) But I do not eat like someone who isn’t watching what they are eating. I can’t stand fast food. Thankfully the fast food here is dreadful. I try to only go out to eat once a week and am fairly successful. And when I do, I only eat half or 1/3rd of what is served and take the rest home and eat it the next day. Pretty good huh? Definitely better than pre-surgery.
I always cook my food for breakfast lunch and dinner. My food in my little 1-1.5 cup glass bowls. I can put away about 2 cups at a maximum (of course dependent on what kind of food it is!) I am trying not to over-analyze these things but I have moments when I question if I should be able to eat this much down the road. I am currently at 9.42 cc’s out of 11 for my Realize band. You have to remember that every person is different and feels restriction at different levels. I am not all the way there yet. But I am working on bettering myself for certain when it comes to eating.
What IS discouraging is the lack of lapband doctors around here. There are two places and the one place requires that you join their weight loss program and pay $500. All adjustments after that are treated as doctor visits but are not done with a fluoroscopy. Oddly, I am considering joining this program when I learn more of it. The $500 will pay for itself with just 2.5 lapband adjustments.
But, at the moment I am struggling with several other issues. The subsequent impending move to a new apartment. Unless we can find 2 bedroom for less than $590 in a good are it looks like that is our best option. At least this will not be a blind move. My friend from work lives there and I have visited on several occasions. The complex is nice, the community QUIET and respectful. I stand to save at least $150 a month just by making that move. And the funny part? It’s only 1 mile away from the current apartment. The downsides are that it is a smaller apartment and only has 1 bathroom.
My biggest issue right now is the job. I have been ready to leave this job for a long time. Just before we were told about this relocation I was bound and determined to put in my 2 weeks notice after 2 months. Then the opportunity came to get out of LA on someone else’s dime. I’d be stupid to say no! I’d have a job when millions were desperate for work and I’d be in a healthier, less polluted area. All of this is true! I still have my job. I am in a better area. But it still does not change that I absolutely loathe the job. Man is not made to work in a box in front of another box that glows punching bits of information with their fingers on a bunch of little tiny boxes. But this is part and parcel of today’s world and we all have to do what we must to get by. I think I’d be willing to cope with a menial job if it would allow me the time and headspace to think when I get home and be able to work on projects. But honestly? This place demands 120% all the time and hasn’t bothered to give me a raise in over 4 years. Not even for the higher job position I applied for and got almost 2 years ago. The job, truly, is one of my biggest obstacles when it comes to initiating and sustaining my projects. Like this blog. Am I 100% blaming it? No, more like 90%. I’m still unwilling to believe that if I pushed harder I’d accomplish more when I am flat out exhausted sometimes that all I want to do is sit down and watch a movie when I get home. The emotional energy is not there because it’s spent keeping my defenses up during the day. So I am trying to work out a plan that will get me out of this job and segue into something new. But I don’t know what yet. And I’m afraid that if I leave this job that I’ll be unable to get more stable work. I dunno. Fear is crippling. I am hoping that I can change my perspective enough that I will be able to have a secondary, creative career after work. Incidentally, I am not the only one at work who is really having a hard time. In fact, every person that I speak to that has relocated plans on leaving when our 1 year commitment is up. That is if they don’t let us go before then which is highly possible as well!
My biggest and deepest issue right now is loneliness. Yes. I live with my best friend. I work with some awesome people that I can identify with. But I had to cut the emotional strings of someone left behind in LA. It’s been incredibly difficult when I know they are suffering and are unwell. But there is only so much healing I can offer. And when they aren’t open to receiving it I am pouring my efforts into a bottomless well that I will very likely not see a rise in the water level. That person must put as much effort into healing as I do. Where does this leave me? To wander the vast desert wastelands once again. To try and find my way back to where I was before. Alone. And happy. Truly happy with my solitude. I could have seriously been romantically alone for the rest of my life with that mindset. But along came someone special and I felt rewarded; and for three very happy months, and for the first time in my life, I was ecstatic. I had no idea they were emotionally unwell and that things would take the path they did. But they did. And we both found our way back to light after a while. But now that I have moved it is as if a river has diverged. Will they ever converge again? I don’t know. I can’t wait around with the hopes that they will. In the meantime I am trying to cope with that bottomless sensation of loneliness and wonder how I can ever countenance being with someone ever again if it took 28 years to find just one.
So I write. Here. On a long neglected project. And in my mind for things to come and hope that it will be a serviceable distraction.
I forgot to mention the following! Very good stuff that I am hoping will make changes for me:
I was fortunate enough to find a very good general practitioner right across the street from work who did an in depth review of my blood labs and included extended thyroid testing that I don’t think my previous endocrinologist did for me. He found out that I have a high Reverse T3 level.
Let me give a very broadstroke understanding of the thryoid function.
The brain creates TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) that tells the thyroid to create T4 which is then converted in the body int T3 that controls EVERYTHING in the body. Synthroid is a very common medicine given to people who cannot create T4 (hypothroidic patients). The drug works however due to stress and other external factors the body creates reverse T3 which causes the body to go into a “survivalist” mode. This occurs in times of stress or famine or extreme circumstances. In those extreme circumstances this is very good as the body will survive off of what the body already has. In regular folk who are not in extreme circumstances, it causes weight gain, lack of energy (I have tons of energy mind you since I lost all that weight) and depression. So he changed my medicine from Synthroid (T4) to Armor Thyroid which is straight T3 hoping that this will reverse the reverse T3. I am only starting the 2nd week on the new drug so I will post updates on how that goes.
For some reason I just had the notion that I don’t HAVE to make every single post a study in verbosity and length. Therefor if I so have the chance to post something, be it a short thought or novela I will post it and not feel the worse for it.
The following I have been working on for days. It’s not finished…so…here it is.
I awoke this morning to the ghastly realization that today was a Thursday. August 5th 2010, to be exact. Precisely two days have passed and I hadn’t even given so much as a glance at the calendar to acknowledge this milestone.
I shall, of course, first address the physical as most people are keenly interested in this point.
As mentioned in my previous post, I am not doing as well as the medical caste would like. As it stands I am currently 33 pounds down from my cut date. This amount was closer to 45 pounds prior to my Exodus from Los Angeles. I allowed myself a certain number of luxuries and far too many free passes than I should have probably permitted; my entire life was packed in boxes and in tumult from dealing with the insanity of work and the insanity of moving myself and my best friend relegated me to almost exclusively eating out for about 2 weeks. That time extended during the trip which was limited to packed snack food and the good graces and good food of those we stayed with. It extended even further for about 2 weeks after our arrival to our new home. And now, recently, I made an excursion to Atlanta for about three weeks on business and was completely reliant on eating out for sustenance. Prior to my trip to Atlanta, I got back into the swing of cooking, full force. I made a number of bariatric friendly, low carb dishes. I will have to post and share these recipes. I’ve only been back from Atlanta for about two weeks and decided to not get back too heavily into cooking again as I will be visiting my best friend in Dallas. I tend to put a great deal of preparation and thought into what I cook so having only two weeks at home did not seem like a good enough time to get back into things. In the mean time I have been eating conservatively, more fresh fruits and whole grains to help purge the toxins that have been acquired lately. And eating less. I noticed some time ago that the less I eat, the less I eat. I surmise that the less I eat, the more sensitive my pouch becomes to excess amounts of food, therefore making it a bit more difficult when attempting to eat a bit more, faster…which you shouldn’t do. But how easy it is to re-acclimatize the pouch to larger portions! Constant diligence is necessary. I have been slowly chipping away at my list of “to does” in my new life here and unfortunately finding doctors haven’t been high on my list. My surgeon, Dr. Kai Nishi, gave me two names of Realize Band surgeons here but have not reached out to them. Nor I have reached out to any other doctor (except the dentist but I had to cancel that due to my impromptu trip to Atlanta). But it is time (HIGH time) that I do as my Synthroid prescription has run out and my old doctor has made it politely known to me that now that I am no longer under his care and out of the state that he cannot give me a recurring prescription. This information was passed through to me by the fact that when the pharmacy called to have my prescription renewed, he only authorized 1 month. So be it! I have no qualms against it. It will help me to detach. Yet I will lose the mystique I inherited when the pharmacist questions the origins of my drugs “*looks at bottle* From Los Angeles, huh?” to which I politely confirm, make a smart turn and sashay away.
The emotional end of the spectrum, I fear, has been dismally gray. There are a number of issues stemming from work. Annoying, irksome issues, but tolerable. Prior to the move, I spoke often to coworkers that I would give myself a year to “decompress” and figure out what I want to do with myself. Somehow, I forgot about this and was plunged into a terrible depression related to my feelings of apathy and lack of productivity. What I didn’t realize was that was, in itself, the act of decompression. Just this morning (August 15th – see how long it takes me to write a post?!) I woke up and realized that my wishes of leaving my company in a year is unrealistic. I have become rather entranced by the number of antique shops here and the accessibility of REAL furniture. Solid wood, none of the awful and cheap particle board that most furniture is made of these days. In our first week here, I was privileged enough to bear witness to the most amazing vanity in gods creation. It had to have been 12 feet of carved mahogany (probably, I dunno), 20 feet high with a mirror almost near to that in height, and topped with pink marble. A Bacchus watching down upon you from it’s peak. All for a measly $32,000. I started saving the moment I left the store. When I beckoned John over, he stopped and said nothing for a moment, looked at me and said “I’m not putting that in my van…”
To compound things, the adorable lost puppy I took in for a few days (about 2 months ago) has bequeathed fleas to my beloved Spookums. We are currently on a course to eradicate the infestation.