Monday, April 30, 2007
It's been a while since all of us have been together to mark a birthday, but one thing we usually did when we lived in the same place was to seek out the worst possible cake from Dairy Queen to bring home with whoever's-birthday-it-was name on it. I don't know how the tradition started, or why, but I do know that I miss feeling that rush of delightful wickedness while asking some unfortunate employee to write one of my sister's names out in the most awful of loopy cursive. 'Yes, yes! Can you put a heart over the 'i'? And can you make that 'D' a little more juvenile? It's too legible right now.' (The L. family seems to be genetically programmed to appreciate the inherent humour of teenage cursive. The more dots, loops, and hearts, the better! Maybe it's just us.)
Anyway, since the tradition of cutesy cake giving was rather short-lived, I have only a few photos of nasty ice cream concoctions to share. Luckily, the cream of the crop (so to speak) just happened to be for one of Caroline's birthdays (pictured below). It was originally intended to be a Mother's Day cake, as evidenced by the giant "MOM" scrawled underneath that beaming rendition of a woman resembling Sally Forth (sans black shaggy 80s comic book hair, of course). We got the employee to wipe off the two 'm's and to write Caroline's name on either side of the leftover 'o'. You could (and still can) see the blue smudges from the 'm's underneath, so the employee covered it with sprinkles to disguise the botched icing name job. Sweet.
It's the gift that keeps on giving! Happy birthday, Gare! (PS: Nice red pearl necklace!)
Sunday, April 29, 2007
I'd like to say that I've been consumed with incredibly interesting adventures in between my intermittent posts, but unfortunately, things have been pretty much same old since I started working. You know: eating, sleeping, working, catching playoff hockey, and watching harbour seals. That kind of stuff. Plain old, boring, everyday seal watching.
I've also been knitting, though. Back in January, I promised my dear husband that I would knit him a sweater for his birthday. We borrowed some books from the library so he could pick out the perfect pattern. Then we went to the *cough* incredible local yarn store so he could pick out the perfect yarn. Since then, I've been knitting and knitting. Hopefully, the sweater will be ready in time for his birthday next January! (Slow and steady wins the race, right?)
This whole process has enlightened me about one of the key differences between Marty and I. He's much more aware of his likes and dislikes than I am, and he's also much more able to articulate them to others (whereas I often leave things unspoken, for fear of offending, bothering, or otherwise putting off somebody else. Stupid gender socialization.) This sweater situation is a prime example. Had Marty offered to knit me a sweater, I would probably have picked something plain and simple-- something not too intricate or difficult to knit, especially for a first-time-sweater-knitter (which, by the way, I am). Marty, however, went straight for the cabled fishermen's patterns. He also opted for a button-up sweater instead of a pullover, which means I have to learn how to make buttonholes! And oh yeah, he wondered if I could alter the v-neck pattern to a regular crewneck style. And could the sweater and sleeves be longer? 'Sure, honey! Anything for my sweet love.'
Well, I have to say that ultimately, I'm glad he chose the sweater he did. I'm learning many mad knitting skillz as I go along (lattices 4-eva', yo!), and every successful row feels like a significant accomplishment on my end. Plus, I figure that by getting him to buy into every little detail of this sweater, I'll be able to avoid the dreaded Sweater Curse. (Granted, Marty and I are already married, and the curse normally applies to unwedded significant others, but still... I would hate to knit a whole cabled sweater and have him not like the fit/style/wool/colour/whatever else.) This way, if anything goes wrong with the sweater, it won't be my fault. After all, he was the one who picked the pattern, the wool, the specific length, the buttons, the crewneck (when I get there), and everything else. I'm just the knitter in this situation. Don't shoot the knitter. Everyone knows that.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
When I brought my wares up to the till, the cashier took one look at the chocolate, sniffed "for breakfast?!" in a disdainful tone that would shame even the most shameless of outlaws, and then proceeded to race through the rest of my order like the chocolate-for-breakfast-disease might be contagious. Hmph. Did he think my Greek salad was for breakfast, too?
I was miffed to be judged so early in the morning for my apparent lack of culinary discretion, but then I remembered judging somebody else (a priest, no less- for shame!) for what was in his cart one fine day many years ago. The memory is crisp and clear, as though I scanned the cart only yesterday: frozen orange juice concentrate, cigarettes, and Cheez Whiz lay scattered around the bottom of the cart. That was it.
In the spirit of forgiveness and letting bygones be bygones, I've decided to assume that the priest was only stocking up on some dwindling essentials that day, not subsisting entirely on orange semi-solids like I wickedly assumed back then. And to the cashier that clucked at me this morning? May you one day discover the joy of the good stuff on your tongue as another long day at work drags on. Amen, brother.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
My dad, on the other hand, was by default (or by strategic planning on his part, perhaps) the 'good cop'. He rarely, if ever, made a fuss, and he only enforced discipline reluctantly, at the insistence of my ma, who was tired of always playing the bad cop role. I see now that his style of parenting was the more passive-aggressive and frustrating of the two (especially for my mom, who inevitably ended up coming across as more strict, less patient, and over-reactive), but growing up, all I knew was that the 'good cop' seemed to do a better job of avoiding conflict, and I was drawn to that, because if anything, I didn't like conflict.
Anyway, looking after Robertina for the past 3 weeks has taught me a lot about parenting. (I know that dogs in no way = babies, but nonetheless, petsitting in many ways resembles babysitting.) For example, it seems I'm neither a good cop nor a bad cop. I've tried to be a good cop, rewarding Robertine with treats and pats for every little thing she does, but instead of gaining her utmost trust and respect, she's given me this sly little look that says I've been duped. Well, then. I've tried to be a bad cop, commanding her to sit and stay, and tugging a bit at her leash when she (occasionally) growls at other dogs. She doesn't listen to me. Unless of course, I give her treats-- in which case, she's distracted for a couple of seconds before getting into mischief again. Curses.
So I'm kind of a wishy-washy cop, trying hard to be everything at once but ending up being nothing particularly special in the parenting department. Marty, on the other hand, has managed to blend the good cop and the bad cop parts into a seamless whole, and let me tell you: he's reaping the rewards. Robertine literally worships the ground he walks on! She listens to his every command, even when they're merely whispered to her. She's affectionate and obedient, playful and demure: the perfect dog in every way.
The feminist in me hates myself for even thinking it, but maybe Robertine is so drawn to 'alpha male' Marty simply because he's a man. Maybe my voice isn't deep enough or serious-sounding enough for her to accord it much clout. Maybe she feels more protected by his side than she does by mine, especially because I'm always talking to her in a ridiculous sing-song and giving her treats, rather than making her heel and shooing other dogs away. Whatever it is, I'm feeling a teensy bit jealous. Since when does the disciplinarian parent get all the love?? Since when do the bad cops come out on top?? Sigh...
This isn't to say that Robertine completely ignores or hates me. She just knows that I'm much more of a pushover than Marty will ever be. And if I can't put my foot down for a dog, how would I ever be an effective parent? Well, the good news (for me!) is that another pregnancy-free cycle has just gone by, so at least I won't have to test out my cop roles in real life for another little while. No hermaphrodite prophet for me just yet! Thank goodness for that. No, seriously.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Wow, I'm having quite a dazed morning so far.
Last night, I had a very vivid dream that I was pregnant with a hermaphrodite prophet. Marty and I spent most of the dream trying to figure out if the father was him or Jesus. Yikes! I blame it on the ice cream (yes, ice cream!) I slipped up and ate last night. This just goes to show that cleansing is good for more than my physical health: it also does wonders for my mental health, it seems.
PS: I couldn't bring myself to make the photo any bigger for this post. It's really a horrible shot of me (taken surreptitiously by Marty while I was jetlagged (and coincidentally enough, pregnant, although I didn't know it at the time)... I might as well have been drugged!) I just felt it captured the 'wrong side of the bed' feeling perfectly. Can't you just feel the grossness and grogginess, imagining me waking up from this sprawled-out-sleep-in-socks? Sick.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Anyway, my experiences lately have been stoking ye olde academic fire in my belly, although I'm certainly the last person in this world who would have ever thought my mind could turn in that direction ever again. When I made my grand exit out of university (last April already!), I was given a gentle talking to by my dear supervisor. Like the all-knowing chorus in a Greek play (most likely a tragedy), she seemed unwavering in her conviction when she told me:
"You can't escape the academy, Dana. It's your destiny."
(And yes, she said it just as ominously and outrageously as it seems. This is a direct quote!)
I had laughed her comments off at the time, thinking them to be overdramatic and even a bit preposterous (me in the university?! Forever??!!! Hahahahaha-- good one!) But deep inside, I was shaken. She just seemed so sure of herself. Would I really end up back in the academy? The same university that had sucked my soul out with the intensity of a leech on a vampire using a vacuum in a black hole? (Kudos to ffwd magazine for enlightening me on the degree to which things could suck!) Could I ever escape my so-called destiny?
Well, the first year following my thesis defense didn't prove to be so difficult. If anything, I was still getting over my dry heaves and anxiety attacks until this March at the very least. I thought about the stress-ridden, eternally preoccupied demon I had become during my MA program, and I couldn't believe that poor Marty managed to suffer through it all. He even married me halfway through my program! (Now that's what I call commitment!) When I think of school, any excitement or curiosity that I feel about researching and learning is nearly instantly overtaken by nauseating memories of having no time or life outside of school. And debates. Endless debates and 'critical engagement' with the 'issues'. Blech. I hate debating.
So with all of these nasty thoughts about university, why is it that lately I've been feeling the yearning to learn? I've been searching through university websites listlessly, hoping to stumble upon some program that would jump out and squeal 'take me!'... So far, nothing, but I'm still searching. How odd.
I think I've finally come to terms with what my professor sensed all along: I would never be fully satisfied in a job where my skills weren't fully utilized and where I couldn't flex my brain muscles. Many jobs outside of the university just won't cut it for somebody who has the geeky desire to do research running through her veins! Sure, I'm learning at my job now, but it's not the same. Not at all.
So, in the meantime, although I hear the siren call of... um... proselytizing?... I haven't yet turned my ship towards that sweet destruction. And as far as destiny is concerned, when it comes down to it, I'd much rather have my destiny be to carry out my life in the academy than to kill my mother, marry my father, and then scratch out my eyes in horror when I find out what I've done. Maybe it's just me, though.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I don't know if this will change anything at work. Maybe my employers will be surprised and a bit upset at me for not saying so before they hired me. But maybe they won't care (or even notice!) Either way, I suppose it really doesn't matter. I have perfectly well-thought-out responses to any imaginable reaction I can invoke.
And just to keep you updated on the goings-on of my 'career path', I'm starting to hear a quiet little voice inside, preparing me for my next journey-slash-calling. (And to borrow a bit from Kathy, who mentioned about five times in a recent post that 'no, she's not pregnant'-- no, I'm not pregnant! I think. Hope. Um... We'll have to wait until the next period to confirm.) I just have been feeling more aware of little synchronicities in my life lately, and they all seem to be leading me in a new and exciting (at least to me) direction. I'll have to let these ideas stew a bit more before I come out and set my next Five Year Plan in Soviet stone, but in the meantime, I'm starting to feel more relieved that perhaps I didn't get my MA for damn all nothing.
And speaking of Soviet stone, have any of y'all seen the movie Everything is Illuminated? As a Ukrainian and a big fan of the band Gogol Bordello, I have to highly recommend it. Are you looking for a movie with an ironic 80s vibe and purposely horrible Ukrainian-to-English translations? ("official seeing eye bitch", anyone?) Have you ever wondered what Eugene Hutz looks like without his fu-manchu mustache get-up? Then really, you must, must see this movie. End of story.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
My mom's family is huge. She has six brothers and sisters, and all of them have about 3 children of their own. That's a lot of cousins!
Growing up, we spent a lot of time with the family. Nearly every weekend I can remember from my childhood, we were doing something or other with a group of cousins. Setting up mattresses and 'satin' sheets on a set of stairs and careening down in laundry baskets. Playing Bubble Bobble on the computer until we were hallucinating tiny dragons and fluorescent green bubbles. Listening to the New Kids on the Block and twisting Barbies into obscene positions. That kind of stuff. I knew the ins and outs of my aunts and uncles, my grandparents, and my cousins, and life was good.
Now that I'm an aunt myself, I have very mixed feelings about being so far away from my new niece. Mostly I'm disappointed that I can't be an integral part of Lily's life as she grows up. But then I think to myself that I would hardly even get to see her if I lived in Calgary still. I don't drive, and my sister lives in Canmore, so I would only get to see them occasionally anyway. Plus, being in Victoria helps me cherish each and every little thing I see or hear about Lily. Take, for instance, these photos:
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
How to Cleanse (a la Dana L.):
1. Get to a point where you are thoroughly disgusted with the way you are feeling, eating, or the way your pants are fitting. Some people are able to just do a spring or fall cleanse on a whim (to work in concert with the shifting seasons of the universe), but I find it's much more helpful to have a firm resolution in place before beginning. That way, when temptations come a-knockin' (and you know they will), you can fall back on your unwavering will, rather than on a bed of flowers or what have you.
2. Decide whether you will start cleansing gradually or cold turkey. Again, this is a personal preference. Some people prefer to cut out the 'bad stuff' over time, but I'm more a fan of shocking my system into healthy submission. The first few days usually feel a bit weird without the usual stimulants (caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat/flour, fermented stuff, alcohol), but in a few days, the body adjusts marvelously and feels much more energetic than before.
3. Take measurements! My lingering taste for all things academic makes me take some starting measurements (weight and inches) so I can track my progress empirically. However, other indicators, like the way you feel in your clothes or the amount of stamina you have during the day, offer proof that cleansing actually does make you feel better in the long run. You can literally notice a difference in about 2-3 days of cleansing. On the days when you feel gross and sick (which happens-- the toxins inside need to get out somehow), think to yourself how great it is to get the gross stuff out and forge ahead.
4. Prepare your meals ahead of time. This is one of the most difficult parts about cleansing, I find, especially for people like me who work the whole damn day now. However, having an assortment of cleanse-friendly foods immediately accessible is positively crucial for cleansing success. It simply won't work otherwise. Examples of fun cleansing foods include:
- stirfries with rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Remember not to use conventional soy sauce, as it contains both wheat and sugar. Wheat-free tamari or Bragg's Liquid Soy Aminos make good substitutes.
- almond butter! Nuts!
- Eggs (boiled, scrambled, whatever)
- Hummus with cut-up veggies!
- Baked potatoes with chives!
- Salads! (try to make your own dressings)
5. If at first you don't succeed... cry, then try again. I'm an 'all or nothing' kind of gal, and I get pretty dismayed and disappointed if I fall off the wagon even a bit. However, I'm trying to learn that little slip-ups are not a reason to give up the cause completely. Take this Easter weekend, for example. I resisted and resisted those little Mini Eggs and foil-wrapped bunnies for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, when they went on a drastic overstock sale, of course I had to have some. I just can't resist chocolate bunnies forever! Today, I'm back on track (I hope!).
6. Continue on with this eating plan for 2-3 weeks. Alternatively, you can combine the diet regimen with a 12-day course of cleansing supplements, widely available in most health food stores. I have a Wild Rose cleansing kit ready to go, but I like to ease my way into it. Hence, I'm going to do another day or two (without chocolate) before I start taking the supplements.
7. Take measurements again! Compare your trimmer, healthier, and more energetic self with your sluggish self of last month. Feel great about yourself and even a bit smug.
Whew! I hope this helps (ink...). I'll post for y'all again tomorrow!
Thursday, April 5, 2007
The good news: It's a long weekend, and I've managed to wrestle a whole four days off! (Yeah, that includes Saturday and Sunday, but four days off in a row still feels like a lot! How quickly I've changed...)
Other good news: Last night, we started petsitting for the wonderful Robertina. This means fun-filled weekends of hiking, walks on beaches, and generally trying to tire her out before her owner gets home (we want her to love us the best!) Petsitting also means... (pause for effect)... NO STUPID UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOURS FOR THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!!!! Last night, I had the best sleep of what felt like my whole life. I can't wait for 20 or so more of those.
Even more good news: I'm officially on day 3 of cleansing (after my unfortunate relapse with the cream cheese icing...) and I'm feeling better and more energetic every day. I've been eating like a horse (do horses eat a lot?), but everything that has been put into my body lately has been nothing but sheer goodness. Things are definitely looking up.
OK, now for the bad news. It's a four-day weekend, and I'm sure as hell not going to spend my time off in front of my computer. Sorry, all. I'll catch you again on Tuesday-ish! Happy Easter!
Monday, April 2, 2007
Anyway, I don’t think my reasons for blogging are extraordinary by any means. (In fact, I’m even putting myself to sleep just thinking about my reasons. Not a good sign.) Stifle your yawns and proceed:
I originally started my blog as a way to keep in touch with friends from Calgary when we made the big move to Victoria, but in the process of blogging, I’ve discovered that it’s also an excellent way to meet new people and to re-connect with old friends of yesteryears (rock on, Lea’s Leaders from Grade 7A—woot!). Blogging sure beats phoning every single one of my many friends (oh, the time!), and it also kicks the ass of mass e-mails and typing the same thing over and over until my fingers bleed and my tendonitis comes back (oh, the pain!). Or maybe I’m just lazy. You decide.
I also like to blog because it helps me curb a sorry-ass case of teen angst that has plagued me since well before I was a teen. (When I heard of the Cringe book, it made me curse that I didn’t think of the concept myself. I could have turned my sappy old journals into millions—millions, I tell you!) Back on track, though: I think the idea of having an audience (even if it is imagined one) read my writing keeps it as whine-n-moan free as possible. Perhaps you’re a bit surprised, thinking that my blog is actually pretty whiny as it is. I assure you that the paper alternative of my journal is much much worse.
And now for something that blogging hasn’t changed about me: When I started blogging, I thought it would motivate me to start many a crafty project and then to display photos of said project(s) online. Um, it hasn’t. I’m sure you’ve all noticed an occasional mention of a knitting project in the works, but sadly, I’m so bad at following up with photos once the projects are done. Meh. You’ll just have to settle for the promise that I really did finish those socks, some scarves, some baby stuff, an army of pixie hats, and a couple of pairs of mittens for our trip back to Calgary. I’ve also started a belated birthday sweater for Marty. Currently, it is sitting on my needles and collecting dust.
Oh, and as far as blog accountability goes? I was so good all day yesterday, eating nothing but scrumptous wholesome foods. Then I came home from work and devoured nearly half a container of cream cheese icing. Yeah... I blame it on the rain. Today is a new day, though! Just say yes to homemade falafel and no to anything with the word 'cream' in it.
Sunday, April 1, 2007
I’ve been thinking a lot about food this past week. I haven’t been feeling very well, and my energy has been really low lately. Plus, (not like y’all need to know this, but…) my body has been plagued with a wave of random rashes, sores, irritated spots, and otherwise nasty afflictions of Bible-like proportions since about January. I’ve even developed spring-time allergies for the first time ever. Sigh. My pants don’t fit, my once-muscular physique has melted to mush, I look like a pre-teen with my haircut and the return of my acne, and my cravings for sweets have spiraled out of control… c’mon, world—what gives?
Well, dear readers, my diet is what gives. I’ve been eating nothing but junk, and I guess you can say that I’ve officially ‘let myself go’. I wasn’t planning on it (of course—I don’t usually wake up in the mornings and think to myself ‘you know what would be awesome? Buying a whole new wardrobe in a bigger size! Yes!’), but nonetheless, it’s come to a point now where I need to do something. And fast.
Hence, I’ve decided to take another stab at a spring detox. Last year’s detox didn’t pan out so well (blame it on the cupcakes), but this year, I think I’m feeling nasty and atrocious enough to subject myself to the considerable discipline that a detox requires. You can’t eat flour, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tropical fruits, or anything fermented (mushrooms, yeast, vinegar, etc.) on a detox diet (usually for about 2-3 weeks), and even though it might seem like nothing is left over to be allowed, my 3-month stint on a detox diet about a year-and-a-half ago proved that cleansing oneself can, in fact, be quite enjoyable and even delicious. So starting tomorrow… here I’ll go again.
It frustrates me how difficult it can be to wean oneself off of sugar and other tasty treats. Sugar is absolutely everywhere, and unless you make just about everything from scratch yourself, you end up eating some of it (or its nasty splenda/equal/sorbitol/aspartame varieties). Sometimes, though, all it takes is a particularly poignant reminder of how crappy the food we eat actually is to be able to take the plunge into a healthier diet and lifestyle. In my case, my reminder came last Friday night, when a case of the munchies drove Marty and I into the welcoming arms of our local Tim Horton’s. We felt like eating soup, and being vegetarians, we ordered the most veggie-sounding soup on the menu: Cauliflower and Cheese. It wasn’t until we had the bowls in front of us, though, that it occurred to us to ask if the soup was vegetarian. None of the workers knew (of course not), but one particularly brave soul offered to taste the soup for us and report back on the meat factor. Turns out that the soup had turkey in it (which I suppose is only natural… ?? Since when does turkey logically go together with cauliflower??!) Anyway, we declined to eat the soup. A few seconds later, one of the staff came over to our table and apologized about the soup not being vegetarian (not like it was her fault). Then came the kicker. She said:
‘I don’t know if it will make you both feel better or not, but just to let you know, none of our soups actually have meat in them. We just use a powdered meat-tasting mix. You can probably still eat the soup if you like, because there’s no real meat in it anyway.’
Huh. It’s not like I thought that the ‘homestyle’ soups were actually homestyle, but it had also never crossed my mind that the meaty soups would just be powder… is it just me, or is that disgusting? Whatever your thoughts on the matter, it was enough to make me take a step back and re-evaluate what I’ve been putting into my body. Starting tomorrow, then, I’m taking the plunge. I figure blogging will help to keep me on track (because there’s nothing I hate more than admitting to other people that I’ve failed at something), so you can all look forward to semi-frequent reports on my progress. Goodbye, indigestion!