Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food, Health, Weight, and the Freedom to Make Your Own Choices

I went shopping the other day, and it felt like freedom.  It is really, really nice to have the food I like to eat available in the house.
groceries: tortillas, cheese sticks, raspberries, pudding, egg whites
And this is what freedom looks like.
"I found a neat recipe on Pinterest," I told my mom last night.  "But it takes a whole cup of sugar."  

"That is a lot of sugar," said my dad.  "You should use high fructose corn syrup instead."

My mother and I both want to lose weight.  I want to lose weight because I want to feel better, have more energy, and I know it will get harder when I get older.  I gained thirty pounds over the school from stress, eating too much, and not having the time to cook right or exercise.  They say it's important to be a healthy weight before you get pregnant, too, and I want that in my future. I think my mom wants to be healthier too.  We don't talk much about it.

"We should join Weight Watchers together!" says my mom regularly.  She is trying to be supportive.  It feels, sometimes, like she wants to let me know that my weight isn't healthy.  I already know my weight isn't healthy*.  I maintain that university is not a healthy environment: you don't have time to cook healthy food (or exercise), and you don't have money to buy healthy food (or, worse, you're locked into a meal plan.).  It's full of stress, and you don't have financial resources to offset the stress, because you've already paid the university all your financial resources (and then some).

My weight bothers me in part because worrying about weight is such a gendered phenomenon.  You don't hear vitriol spewed toward men with beer bellies, but if a woman is overweight, everyone seems to feel entitled to comment. I don't want people to comment: it isn't my job to look pretty for them, and it isn't their job to care about my appearance or my health**.

I hear it around the holidays, too, from other parts of my family.  "Oh, you look so good-- did you lose weight?" (Sometimes I get this even if I have gained weight.)  Or: "You know, you gained some weight-- that isn't very healthy."  I know when I gain weight, thank you very much, you didn't need to point it out.

And so I do not want to join Weight Watchers. I don't want to hold myself up to an outside standard, even a kindly one.  I know it works for a lot of people, but I have a nifty app on my phone that tracks my calories and my current weight, and that works for me***.  If you want to bond with me on a weight-loss quest, we can exercise together or trade recipes.

I want to feel good, and I don't want to worry about people commenting on how I look.  I want my clothes to fit, and I want to be able to shop for clothes that are not labeled as "plus" sizes.  (I'm medium-tall and I have hips-- anything smaller than a ten is never going to happen for me.)  I want to be healthy, and I want "healthy" to happen on my own terms.

*My parents are both physical therapists, so they care a lot about being healthy.
**Unless you are my physician.  Then, you may comment on my weight if you would like.
***I know it works for me, because I was able to lose significant chunks of weight when I was away from school on internships.  They key element to the weight loss, in my opinion, was having the time and money to establish a routine.

Monday, May 28, 2012

When Home Isn't Home, Even Though You Love the People

"There's a good ant.  Eat your neurotoxin."
-Dad, on pest control
As will surprise no one who knows me at all, I'm pretty territorial. I like my own space.  Visiting home hasn't been a problem over the last few years, so I figured that moving home (for the foreseeable future) wouldn't be too much different.  There's a light, after all-- K graduates in December, and, from his employment history, Lady Awesome Jobs smiles on him regularly.  We'll be out and on our own in no time.  So, I reasoned, living at home for practical purposes will suit me just fine for the next few months.  After all, multi-generational housing was common and usual for all but very recent history-- this will be fine, right?

Unidentifiable red foodstuffs in a ceramic dish
I found this in the fridge.
Wrong.  The food in the house is not the food I normally eat*.  The kitchen has Rules, because my dad is just as territorial about Where Things Go as I am-- and I have no idea where anything goes.  I hesitate to set up my video game system: I know my parents don't approve of what they call "screen time".  I have yet to adjust to 5:30 family dinner time (as I'm used to turning to K at around seven and saying "hey, what do you want?" and figuring it out from there).

So, it's a challenge.  I'm going to have to figure out some compromises to suggest regarding kitchen space.  I'll need to go out grocery shopping, and I'll need to learn where everything goes again.  I'll to eke out some space for the food I like.  I may also find a corner of my room and set up a mini-pantry of non-perishables if I can figure out how to appropriately ant-proof it.

Part of this transition is cleaning out my former room, setting up a space I can live in.  (For the past three years, it's been a dumping ground for old class notes and miscellanea I haven't had time to sort through, shuttling back and forth between internships and school and two sets of family.)  Right now, it's a work in progress, and I am pleased to report that I have successfully passed the stage where "cleaning" has been more akin to "playing Rush Hour"**.

Piles of papers.
Sorting through the papers.
I'm getting there.  Hopefully, my room will provide a functional space for job-hunting after the rest of today's efforts.

In other news, I keep trading hard posts for easier ones. Over the next week, I should write about my frustration with "Walden" (by Henry David Thoreau) and some feelings about gender expression and professionalism.  You may prod me with a blunt instrument of your choice if you do not see these posts by Saturday.
*My brother read some book on primal diets and, as a result, has cut all dairy (except for butter, which he eats for inadequately explained reasons), grains, legumes, and sugars (except for minimal fruit) from his diet.  He consumes something like three pounds of vegetables a day and gets the balance of his calories from meat and, I think, oil.  This significantly impacts the balance of food in the fridge.

**Or, in the words of the fictional Sergeant Colon, "a case of no one being able to move because of everyone else." -Night Watch, pg. 364, Terry Pratchett.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jobs, Flowers, Glasses

Had an appointment with the Career Center at my university today.  They reassured me I was hitting the major points and gave me some tips, particularly as relates to finding work the next several months until I know where K's job will land.  

We have agreed that it makes more sense for him to look seriously first for few big reasons:
  1. I want to start my own business, and there are lots of different geographic locations I can accomplish this.
  2. He wants to work with video game engine design, robots, or the commercial space industry. There are only a few geographic locations he can accomplish this, but apparently they're on opposite ends of the country.
  3. Since he worked for four or five years straight out of high school, he's got a better chance of finding his dream job than I have of finding a dream job, and, for this and a few other reasons, his dream job will probably have better earning power, so it doesn't make sense for him to move for me.
So, we'll work it out one way or another.  Apparently, it's totally normal not to have a job for a couple months after graduation in any event, so I'm trying not to worry too much. (Not easy: I am a worrier.)

Flowers and Making Things at Home

Today, I noticed some wildflowers growing next to our driveway.  So, I picked a couple and put them in a vase.
White, purple, and yellow flowers in a vase with ferns.
Cost: about 15 minutes.
Not bad, I think.  When K got home, he and I attempted to make some homemade garlic mayonnaise, per here. K loved it, but the olive aftertaste seemed off to me, and I think we should probably buy better oil if we want to make a habit of homemade mayo.

I also remembered (finally!) to make sun tea.  One of my uncles keeps bees, so we have some homemade honey to put in it, and K had the brilliant idea to squeeze raspberries into it (over my skepticism).  I admit freely I was wrong; it is delicious with the raspberries.

Glasses Update

Empire Vision called yesterday about my glasses!  They were early, so I was impressed, even if they apparently have no idea how long glasses repair.  (On my initial visit, they said I'd wait an hour if I didn't leave my glasses.  When I showed up after the lens came in, they said I'd wait thirty minutes.  I actually waited for just under and hour and a half. I had my Kindle, so I didn't care too much.) I can see now, it's like magic.

It's strange how much wearing glasses becomes part of your identity. On one hand, my dependency on a piece of hardware makes me a little bit nervous, especially when I need to hire someone else to make it work properly.  On the other hand, if I got my eyes surgically fixed, I can't imagine a morning without reaching for my glasses first thing, often before I open my eyes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Glasses and Travel

K and I have been traveling the past few days.  A lot of driving: the trip odometer read over 800 miles by the time we touched back down in our college town.  We saw both sets of family, caught a baseball game at Fenway Park, and I got in some interviews.

Hands on a brick wall
Outside Fenway Park, waiting for the game to begin.

I noticed during the baseball game that I was having some trouble reading smaller text across the ballpark-- text I should have been able to read.  A brief field inspection of my glasses indicated that something odd had happened to the coating on the left lens.  They're still under warranty, so I brought them in to Empire Vision, where I bought them last September.

I explained the problem.

"Your new lens will be here in a week," the nice professional in a lab coat told me.  "Would you like to leave your glasses here? Do you have a backup pair?"

I do have a backup pair which I had brought, but the thought of not having my primary pair for a week made me blanch.  I'm fairly near-sighted, and I wear my glasses all the time because I occasionally get headaches when I don't.  I can't drive without them.  A few days of backup-pair glasses is fine; a week is not, especially since the Empire Vision was late with my glasses when I first bought them.

Glasses lenses with coating snafu.
The weird smudges don't clean off.
I hope that the lens fix will resolve the vision issue. Depending on how quickly I find a job and what my money situation is, I may replace them whether it does nor not.  I don't love these glasses.

In fact, these particular glasses have been nothing but trouble since I first put them on.  "This doesn't feel right," I told the optometrist moments after first trying them out.  "These glasses are making me feel seasick."

"Oh, don't worry", she told me.  "That's perfectly normal.  It will go away in a few days."

I gave it a few days.  It didn't. I couldn't read the board from my front-row seat in the classroom, and I would take off the glasses because it made my head hurt less.  I went in on a Saturday during their posted business hours to see if they had perhaps made a mistake with the prescription.  They were closed for the long weekend: the Monday after was a national holiday.  I went back when they re-opened on Tuesday and confirmed that they had indeed made a mistake in the prescription.  (Apparently, making a mistake on a glasses prescription is a fairly common thing.)  They fixed it, but it took time, and I wasn't pleased.

So, I'm stuck here (in this small college town where I purchased them) until the new lens comes in.  Since the original plan was to leave Wednesday after consulting the alumni services my university offers, it doesn't bother me as much as it might.  I get a few extra days with K at the expense of a few days with my mom.  I'll spend my time applying to jobs in either location.

In the meantime-- does anyone have any thoughts about laser vision surgery?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Passed My Last Semester

Final grades are in!  I'll graduate!  I can't wait to see my parents and grandparents this weekend.

In the meantime, our entire living space looks a little bit like a tornado hit it.  We're working on it, I promise.  It's just going slowly: K's summer job has already started, and I've started my post-graduation job search in earnest. (Step One: figure out what exactly I want to do.)

I'll spare you pictures: they're not pretty.