Monday, November 28, 2011

Why don't you smile?



I have mentioned this before, but I really hate when a guy tells me to smile or that I should smile more. I find it unquestionably bizarre that a stranger or even someone I know would feel the need to tell me to change my behavior or attempt to alter my emotions to please him. I can't imagine saying this to anyone, no matter what the circumstance. There's a subtle difference in telling a woman who is already smiling that she looks pretty when she does, though, for whatever reason, this can make me feel uncomfortable too. What happens when someone insists that a woman smile when she's not in the mood is that the woman's feeling and emotions are denied. Sure, when a woman smiles it's a pretty sight for the viewer, but what does that do for her underlying feelings?

This would be better if she were smiling


I generally have to put on a happy face at work. Things go more smoothly if I do, but I'm also pretty happy at work. It's not that much of an effort to smile when you're in a situation that is enjoyable or confortable. Women who don't make the effort to smile most of the time are often considered bitches. Forget any reasons WHY they might refrain from smiling.

On that note, let's look at a few reasons why a woman might  frown:

1. Setting boundaries.
Frowning basically tells another person, "Stay the fuck away!"

2. Outer expressions
When words fail, a frown says, "I'm pissed off" for you.

3. Fear
Being unable to control a situation can lead to frowning. The feeling of frustration is sometimes hard to verbalize, so a frown is a good substitute.

4. Toughness/intimidation
It has been discovered that women who frown at work get paid more. Apparently in certain situations you really can catch more of certain things without the honey. Of course, it might also lead someone to punch you in the face.

5. Disapproval
Sometimes a frown is a reaction to something stinky. It can also occur when disapproval or disgust is expressed.

6. Fatigue
There's some saying about how it takes more energy to frown and it uses more muscles than smiling. Fuck that. If I'm tired, smiling is an effort and sometimes a HUGE one.

7. Define frown
People often confuse not smiling with frowning. There is a difference.


I would say in my case that the unusually large crevasse in my forehead from frowning began when I was quite young and very unhappy with my life. It got deeper during my running years when I was under too much pressure to race well. Now that it's well established, it has become a part of who I am. I definitely notice that the more relaxed and at ease I am, the less I frown, but when things around me are shitty, it's my go-to response. My brows contract almost instantly when I feel like I can't express what I want too. There are a few situations and places where I never really feel the urge to frown. I'm always glad to have those.

For whatever reason, my meeting with one publisher fell through. As upset as I am, it wasn't something I was counting on for several reasons. I had a feeling it might not work out, so there's not a whole lot I can do about it. It's possible it might work out down the road, so all I can do is keep hoping.

Lately, I've been so disappointed by people and situations that things like this and getting sick a few days before the surgery are just more things to add to the pile. I'd like to say that I don't care, because saying that beings some sort of strange relief. However, these things I do care about. Really it's more of an acceptance that I can't change any of it, and whatever the causes, it's out of my hands.

This is somewhat unrelated, but you know how it is when you go visit your grade school? That feeling of, "Oh wow- what was all the fuss about?" I sort of have that now. I can't go into detail, but it's just a vague feeling I can't shake. When I was a kid, school was such a BIG deal. Everything seemed so oversized and scary but there was so much potential. Going back is like, "meh, these desks are super tiny." Nuff said. When something loses its flavor, I guess there's no getting it back. I have that feeling right now. Fortunately, some other doors have opened and I have other things to occupy my attention. In theory anyway, as I have been sitting way too far outside myself lately. This means my attention is misdirected and focused on the wrong things. I've gone to bed with thoughts racing and end up feeling unrested when I wake after short bouts of sleep.

A slow run made me realize how depressed I am about facing surgery. I'm hoping this time will be a tad easier. Last time I was heading into surgery after having already taken 4 weeks off with the stress fracture. I have noticed that it is getting worse. I haven't done any timed events as a result. I do hard workouts to what my foot can tolerate and use the bike to finish up if I need.

Argh. I have too much to do today and have put off doing it. I better move ~~ M o v e. Yeah.




Thursday, November 24, 2011

No Turkey

I was watching American Horror Story last night, my new TV addiction. I love the show. I can't even explain all the reasons why I do, but it was the same things with Nip Tuck. Actually, both shows were created by the same power duo (Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk) as Glee, so they have that in common. There's a draw of good acting, unexpected turns, a bit of horror and even a little cheese factor going on that's highly appealing. Anyway, in the episode last night, one of the main characters is seeing things. Despite her daughter knowing the truth that her mom is really seeing ghosts that she sees too, the young girl doesn't stand by her mom, and nearly everyone, especially the woman's husband, starts to think this lady is crazy or well on her way. I'll skip the bag of worms regarding the daughter choosing her bad-boy lover over her mother for now. Interestingly enough, the mother is well aware that she's not actually crazy, only she has moments of doubt given all the shit going on around her. A Gaslight reference makes the scene complete, as everyone in the audience realizes how easy it is for anyone to accuse a woman of being crazy, no matter what the circumstances. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "Women are made to be loved, not understood." Right? Fuck that. If you don't understand a woman, you're probably not trying hard enough. The idea is that the woman is always at fault, no matter what goes down. She's crazy after all! They all are!

When I had an issue with a relative once, I was shocked when the police officer asked what I did to make him shove me. Actually, I was more than shocked. I was disappointed, offended and appalled that this was happening in Boulder, of all places. I finally understood more completely all those women's studies classes I had taken in college. I will never understand that kind of response though.

It was refreshing when not long ago I went out with a guy who, when asked what happened in his last relationship, didn't respond with the typical, "She's crazy." So often crazy is how guys describe their ex, but it's always a two way street. For every crazy girl, there's a/an_______ boy at the other end. You fill in the blank. I don't care to right now. It does seem that nine out of 10 times, a guy will cite craziness as the reason a relationship ended. I'm always glad when I hear a few people say that they parted on pleasant terms and are still friends. Fortunately I'm friends with most of the guys I have dated. Unfortunately, I think one or two of them might call me crazy. Even though it's in a joking way, it's still kind of pisses me off deep down. At least one of them jokes about it being OK, because he's an asshole. He's really not, but it's funny that he calls himself one. I guess it makes me feel a little better about the crazy remark.

In AskMen.com's list of "Mistakes women make" there are things that both sexes do. In fact, I would say that going back to "bad" significant others definitely applies to both sexes. I had a friend who had this problem. He's too nice, and people took advantage-that type deal. It's not just about women. I've met as many men as women who go back to unhealthy situations. We're human. There is no perfect, and there are many reasons why someone is drawn to another person. Freaking out about casual sex also goes both ways. Just as often, a guy ends up wanting more or ends up not being able to handle the situation. Why it is that AskMen.com feels it's only women who do this is a mystery. The rest were the same- jealousy, making assumptions etc. all stuff that people in general, not just women do, but it's weird how society accepts this. I love posting this video, because it shows why we are so accepting of putting women down. Most of the time we are so used to it that we no longer even recognize that it's happening all around us. We are bombarded by these message all the time.







All this aside, I've had a strange day today. I learned some things that didn't sit well with me. At the same time, I realized that true friends and family are hugely important in my life, not that I didn't recognize that before. Duh. It's more that it becomes more evident in certain situations. Considering it's Thanksgiving, I have to say that I'm incredibly grateful for the people in my life, past and present, who are and have been so supportive.  In the past few years, I haven't done much Thanksgiving related stuff. In fact, a friend of mine and I used to rent movies and get sushi. At the time, we both felt that the holiday was an anorexic's nightmare. Now it's more like any other day, only I like to enjoy not having to work and generally give thanks for various things.

A week from tomorrow I have my 2nd foot surgery. I haven't been able to run like I want, but I'm glad I can still get outside in this unseasonably warm and mild weather. Today I ran with a friend, something I haven't done in what feels like a long time. It made me realize that I need to do it more. It ended up being a good day. I've also been in communication with a local publisher. After I met him randomly at Alfalfa's Market not long ago, we have been discussing my manuscript. I should know more soon. Stay tuned!



                                     

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Macarons

Chocolate macarons!



Macarons - not to be confused with macaroons, the chewy coconut cookie that has a texture that's almost like a cake - are confections made from egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, flavorings and food color. It's a recipe that has to be followed fairly diligently or the shape and texture will be unsatisfactory. Some recipes call for cooked italian meringue, but most traditional recipes use cold meringue. Either way, the focus is on achieving a crunchy shell that gives way to a more moist bottom layer. A "foot" around the bottom edge is essential. Many things can prevent this frilly part from forming, so it's tricky to get it right. Without the foot or pied, it's not a true macaron. Though there is some controversy over the origins of the sweet treat, it has generally been accepted that the French made it famous. The first macarons were made without any fancy flavors or colorings. In the 1900's Pierre Desfontaines of the famous Laudree pastry shop in Paris upgraded the macaron to what it is today. He added a cream filling between two of the meringue cookies.

Since I have given up chocolate, I have been looking for other treats to keep my sweet tooth from screaming out in anguish. I've tried yogurt and carob covered fruits and nuts, but none are quite the same as a good dose of chocolate. When a lady I know mentioned that she was starting a new business selling macarons, I knew I had to give them a try. There are some websites that are more fun than others. For example, I've always loved DeBrand's website, because it's interactive. You can actually virtually take a bite of the chocolates to see what's inside! The website for Mageline's Confiserie is beautifully done with lots of intriguing images and a nice sampling of the products available. I ordered a box and was thrilled when an elegant package similar to the one below arrived with a thank you note enclosed:


Box of macarons from Mageline's Confiserie



Marci card!

Once past the delightful packaging, I noticed how appealing the macarons are. The colors are festive and even, and they are well formed. The smooth, light and crunchy shell that surrounds a soft, slightly chewy, cookie-like almond-flavored layer is not too thick and allows you to bite easily into the macaron to reach the creamy filling in the middle. The three layers are superbly balanced with the cream filling providing a nice smooth texture in contrast to the more crunchy and chewy outer layers. There was just enough filling for these to be creamy without getting close to mushy. Living in Boulder, I'm not accustomed to very sweet things. Everything here is sweetened extra lightly with agave, stevia, honey or fruit juice, so having real sugar, which is essential in making macarons, was a bit of an indulgence. Still, the flavors, while subtle, grew on my palate and lingered nicely. The near perfect texture of these treats made me crave more. They are quite addicting!

These little gems would make ideal gifts. I highly recommend them. I will definitely order again and think that these served at special occasions would be an excellent idea. I can't wait until I can have chocolate again, because I can only imagine how delicious the chocolate flavors are!

Macarons from Mageline's Confiserie

http://www.magelinesconfiserie.com/

Friday, November 18, 2011

Down time

I Think Sue Ann is right about this!



I'm not blogging much lately. Actually, I'm not doing much online, except mostly work related stuff. Sometimes I need a break from everything, and the time away has allowed me to get a better sense of who I am. I'm still searching, but I'm a bit less lost than I was. The last few weeks have been pretty dark. Facing another surgery has put me in a sad mood. However, this week I returned to the things I love, and I'm feeling better about everything. Everything changed on Thursday when I got absorbed with my volunteer job at the Humane Society. That was the start of things feeling a little better in my world. After that, I went for a pre-op apt, and my doctor was really fucking awesome. He made me feel so much better about everything. So many people assumed I had done too much too soon, but this is really a structural thing. The doc is convinced that either this surgery or, if needed down the road, fusing the bone will allow me to get back to training and racing again. The real turning point in my mood shift was when I spent some time at the local radio station where I volunteer. I guess I feel more in my element there. Nobody judges me or criticizes me in any way. It's just a very safe, very fun place to be, and I always feel better after some time there. I had one last mood lifter for the day when I attended a little party hosted by In Step for the distribution of the women's master's team uniforms. I bought a singlet, just to keep me inspired through all the biking to come.

What was so nice about being at the party, aside from all the free goodies everyone kept handing me, was being around old friends and competitors. I realized that we all struggle with injuries and illnesses. So many of us have come back from some pretty severe surgeries and injuries. It was an honor to be among some super tough ladies. I really hope that I can sport the jersey next year when I step back into running. It's great to be a part of such a supportive bunch of women.

My surgery will be on Dec 2nd. Until then, I'm really trying to get through the days the best I can. I'm still helping my mom as much as possible. I generally stop over twice a day now that I'm not staying with her full time. She's doing really well, all things considered. The nurses told us it will be about six months before she is completely back on her feet. Like all of us in the family, she thinks she *should* be doing more than she is.

This is starting to read like a dull diary entry. I'll shift gears and say that I met Sue Ann Gleason, creator of Chocolate for Breakfast. She stopped in my place of work to say hello. I bought her a few samples of some chocolates I find interesting including some Life Opening Chocolates, Chocolove (it's local and the dark chocolate cherry bar is yummmmmm) and a Theo Bread Chocolate bar. The bread bar is reminiscent of Pain au Chocolat. I borrowed Sue Ann's image, as it is the best Pain au Chocolat image I have seen. It makes me drool. It's so perfectly puffy!

I'm about half way through the three months of no chocolate ordeal. My cravings would probably be lessening if I wouldn't look longingly at the Chocolate for Breakfast website so often. I can't stay away though! Actually, I could. It's amazing how I keep telling myself I can do this or that, because, hell, if I can give up chocolate, I can do almost anything. I guess in this case I choose not to resist the temptation to look at the chocolate images.

Theo Bread & Chocolate bar




Pain au Chocolat



That's all for now. I am feeling very lucky tonight. The more I get out of my head and back into being, the less worried I am. I'll get through this. I know how hard it will be, having gone through it once before, but I'll come out the other end one way or another. I'll be in a cast too, so there's no risk of getting stuck in the shower or anything like last time, though I suppose, knowing me, I could accidentally discover some new and creative way to get stuck. But if all goes well, I'll be wearing that In Step singlet in a race or two this summer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Overabundance of emotions

The last month or so I've been in a swarm of emotional turmoil. Mostly I have felt numb and like I don't want to do anything. It's the depression squeezing me in its ugly grip. I know that. Today I finally feel something. I knew it was coming, but it took facing another surgery on my foot to bring it to the surface. I've been faced with too much stress, loads of conflict and not enough support to manage well lately. Though I have had some tremendous support, it's just not enough or the right kind or for the right thing. Mostly I have isolated myself and kept what I'm going through under wraps. After I got home from the Dr. I felt the kind of sadness that physically hurts- my throat tightened up and I felt that if I cried, I'd never stop. I'm tired.

It's no wonder that this blog post hit me on such a deep level today. There are some profound messages in there, no doubt.

When I was four years old, I wanted to kill myself. I've been hanging in there ever since. I have to admit that the last 10 years have been better than all those years I struggled through when I was younger, but I still hit some rocky patches. I know there are plenty of others struggling out there too, so I'm in no way trying to make it seem like I've had it worse than anyone else. I don't believe that. I do think that I'm sometimes too sensitive for this world. That's why I selectively stick my nose into the world and then feel the need to retreat.

My thoughts are swirling too much to go into more detail, so I will shift gears and remind everyone that tomorrow SmithKlein Gallery will be hosting an awareness night for Boulder Youth Body Alliance. The info can be found here: BYBA Night Nov 11th 6-8PM.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time

There's a lady who has all the good intentions in the world who tells me I have gained weight every time I see her. I mean EVERY fucking time she says it. I think she must mean well, but it always makes me feel like I've swallowed a rock as my stomach sinks and my head spins. I never know how to respond. I might start saying something like, "Oh yeah! I've put on 25 pounds by eating a few tubs of mayo with every meal and snickers bars for dessert." I don't know if I have gained weight since she last saw me, but I don't want to think about it. Blah. 


This next part is unrelated, but it has been on my mind quite a bit lately. 


I once read an odd book about time. In this book was one of the best analogies about senses I have ever come across in literature. It referred to humans and our limited ability to perceive as being like a spider in a web who can only sense the web. There's a whole world beyond the web, but the spider is confined only to that web. His world is that web, though he has some slight sense of the world beyond it. The web is attached to a tree maybe or created in some bushes, but the web is where he spends most of his time. 


Can you imagine how overstimulating it would be if we could sense everything to a higher degree than we do- see all of the color spectrum, hear all the different frequencies and smell with the accuracy and intensity of a macrosomatic animal? It would be overwhelming. Time is something different though. Though some believe that time is an illusion, we all still have a vague sense of time. Our sense of time varies too. I hesitate to say it's all relative, because that tends to make people think I'm referring to the relativistic interpretation of time brought to everyone's attention by Einstein. I'm not talking about physical time here and don't have a lot to say about the differences between Newtonian time or constant time and the special theory of relativity. That might get too complicated. I'm focused more on that odd sensation that time drags when you're not having fun. 


Everyone has had those runs or even moments in an interval or race where a minute feels like 10...or 20..or an eternity. In my case, they usually occur when I'm tired, hurting of feeling off in some way. This occurs at work sometimes too when that last hour drags on forEVER! (There's also this odd 5 minute rule where, no matter what closing time is, people will flock in the doors 5 minutes before closing time.) In order to get through these sluggish moments, I often disassociate. In contrast, there are these wonderful moments that fly by too quickly. These generally happen when I'm in the moment, enjoying myself and not wanting the experience to end. What my mom and I found though is that there's a third time called hospital time. It's much harder to define, because it seems to combine both the time flies theory and the opposite into a mess of Alison in Wonderland type experiences. In other words, time drags by in the moment, but flies over the days. I think it's mostly related to the pain killers. After a shot of Dilaudid, time just whizzes by in a rush of comfort, but as the effects of the drug begin to wear off,  time s  l   o   w       s    d        o        w                         n. 


Hum. I don't know where I was going with this. I have used some of these concepts in a novel I started a few years back. I'm thinking I need to start working on that again. 


I took a few days off the foot and biked.The Dr. gave me the OK to go for a test run today. I can tell that the cortisone didn't help the joint pain, but I should be able to control that fairly well with inserts. It will be interesting to see how the nerve and muscle spasm stuff respond. I'm kind of nervous! AAK! 


What I really wanted to focus on was a comment that someone said that worried me. It was a friend of a friend type thing, so I hope I got the details right. Something similar was said to me, so I know it's not an isolated thought. I'm sure others have has a taste of this kind of thing as well. It has to do with someone reaching out and saying he might be a little bit bulimic. Of course, anyone who has studied addiction will tell you that there's no such thing as being "a little bit" addicted to anything. It's the one time when black and white thinking is accurate. Just like with being pregnant, it's either you are or you aren't, so when someone says something like this, I assume it's because they want help but are afraid to admit that it's a problem or are afraid to change or think that they have more control over it than they do. 


Because I have lived with addiction and know what it's like to be at rock bottom, I also know what it's like to be somewhere in between- not down in it and not anywhere close to healthy. It's an easy place to get stuck. You're not sick but you're not well-to slightly alter some lyrics here. It's easy to dupe yourself into thinking that throwing up or starving or over-training a few times a week is OK, because so-and-so does it daily and this person or that person does it multiple times a day. It's foolish to think that way, but it soothes the conflict of both wanting to be better and wanting to stay sick. Staying sick always serves some need in us. There's a reason why so many people are addicted to one thing or another, living in limbo. The key is to define what it is that keeps us sick. What reward do we get out of staying sick? Is it not taking responsibility? Is it avoiding pain, sorrow or the past? There is always an answer to this question, because addiction, while causing misery, still has a draw strong enough to keep people from escaping it. 


Usually when someone voices some concern about being a little bit bulimic or only binge drinking on the weekends, they are searching for a reaction, something to give them a clue about how others will react to what they are doing, because while they may not be ready to stop, they are either looking for someone to agree that it's no big deal or someone to tell them-give them permission- to stop. Deep down they know it's not healthy, but they need some kind of outside confirmation. If they get overly defensive with a response that solidifies their fears that they really are heading down the wrong path, chances are they are in denial. This happens quite a lot with anorexics who will ask advice but then not take it. We're a stubborn bunch. I still catch myself on this one. 


Wow. I'm totally rambling. I'll have to finish these thoughts another time. 


I want to let everyone know that SmithKlein Gallery on the Pearl Street Mall will be hosting an awareness night for Boulder Youth Body Alliance this Friday evening from 6-8PM, so stop by to learn more about this fantastic group! 










"BYBA was founded in 2004 by Carmen Cool, MA, LPC after meeting a group of passionate high school youth who wanted to do something about the issue of eating problems and body dissatisfaction in their school. These teens, many of whom had personally struggled with their own body image or eating disorder, felt helpless as they watched their peers engage in unhealthy behaviors to drop a dress size before prom, and angry at how pervasive negative self-talk is in their school. After years of working as a therapist with eating issues and body image concerns, along with the untimely death of her sister to anorexia, Carmen longed to create a place where youth could support each other. Instead of trying to change their bodies to meet externally imposed standards of beauty, she helped youth to engage in activities that build self-esteem.
Since then BYBA has directly trained more than one hundred high school students as leaders, to enhance their own body esteem and self-acceptance, and to support their peers. They, in turn, have provided education to nearly 7,000 students, teachers and members of their communities."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anyone up for a quickie?

I just got back from the podiatrist. It has been a crazy day, and it's not over yet. What concerns me more is tomorrow, when things slow down, and I'm supposed to stay off my foot. Yikes! I had to ask if I could bike, and was relieved when the doc said that biking was completely fine, just no pounding on it. I think I will take three days off it, just to be safe. Apparently, there is the trapped nerve, but there's also a muscle that's in spasm. It was weird, because he could actually feel it. It's sort of a ball that kind of snaps when anyone runs their hands over it, not that I have many people rubbing their hands on my feet or anything. Man, the foot is a complicated appendage. I got two shots of cortisone, and if all goes well, that will be it. If not, we will try one more round to see what happens. Hopefully though, this is the end of the pain! I'm supposed to massage it and keep a heating pad on it, which is way better than ice for me.

So, things feel a little more hopeful in my life again. After that race, I was feeling horribly blue at the thought of not being able to train all that hard with the pain. I am so relieved that there are some options. now to be patient.

October was about the shittiest month I have had in forever, so as much as I hate winter, I'm glad it's November. It's funny (but not in that haha way) that as I was in the shower thinking about all the pain I have had in my life and what's up with that, I took a huge chunk out of my ankle while shaving. Embarrassing. Blood was everywhere. You'd think I hacked a body to pieces in the bathroom, but it was just a nick. Well, it was a big one, but it's not like I cut my foot off or anything. Three band-aids later and all was fine.

I was finally able to get back into a routine again too. I missed two rounds of volunteering at the Humane Society of Boulder, with all that has been going on lately. I was stoked to be there today, because I got all the fun jobs- writing and decorating thank you cards to kids who donated money, packaging gifts for employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and mailing a stack of thank you letters. This was much better than the usual data entry, which I totally don't mind. It's just that the other stuff is so much fun. Plus, it's adorable to see some of the ways kids raise money for the cause. For example, in the past one girl made "duck" tape wallets to sell at her school. I'm sure she meant duct tape, but I like that she used duck tape. The ones I made cards for today had people donate to the Humane Society instead of getting birthday gifts.

I have a meeting with a publisher later in November, and I sent my agent the new manuscript and proposal. I never completed the full editing, but it's still much more polished and complete than it was. I'm hoping someone will take a chance. What a random encounter when I ran into this publisher at Alfalfa's. I often go to Whole Foods for dinner on Sunday, but some shit was hitting a fan somewhere that caused me to be extra short on time. I was thrilled to find a ficelle waiting for me there. I split it into three sections, and ate one there with my dinner. Mmmm crust! As I was finishing up, I noticed a guy next to me talking to another gentleman who had a book that looked familiar. I realized it was the book on the front page of the website a friend sent me to in order to get in touch with this local publisher. I somewhat rudely (but hopefully not obnoxiously) stuck my nose into the conversation, and was quite glad that neither one seemed upset about it. Long story short- the guy with the book was the publisher I had emailed earlier! He asked me about my manuscript, and then said he wanted to take a look. We set a date to meet in person, and I emailed him the proposal, the foreword by Lorraine Moller and some sample chapters. he knows some people at Runner's World too, so if he can't take it on, he might be able to point me in the right direction. So Cool!!!

Ooo- I have to run. So much more to do today. Wah- and I feel like sitting and doing nothing. I'm so glad I can be around to help my mom now that she is out of the hospital. Everything is so much better now that she is on the mend. That means I need to dash though. More later...