Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gibberish and mumbles--and my reward

I got some good karma today. I went to sit on the back steps at the library to eat an apple. There was already a guy there, and from behind he looked like a student. I said, “Do you mind if I join you?” And then I realized he was a homeless dude chillin on private property and that he might get in royal trouble with the campus police.

I sat with him anyway. He talked to me a little, but mostly he talked nonsense to himself. I really liked his sweater though, and I kind of wished I could trade him something for it. That’s a tangent.

So generous Christine kicked in (I know, you totally didn’t know that side existed). I said, “Hang out for a minute, and I’ll be right back.” I took him the grapes from my lunch. I couldn’t tell if he cared.

He asked, “Do you have a book I can read? I need something to read.”

I went to the discarded book cart that was on its way to be free books for students, and I found him a book of short essays and poetry. I still couldn’t tell if he cared.

I didn’t mind that I couldn’t understand him; I knew I’d done all I could to make his life a little better. That’s all I can do. All I can expect to give. Now I feel a little lighter.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Staples in my skin

Short staple cotton. I loathe short staple cotton. Like, I don’t know if I can use words to describe all this without using swears and visual aids. Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera with me, so you will probably get swearing without visual aids.

You know those nice, crisp, fresh sheets that stay soft without feeling limp? Those are good old-fashioned long staple cotton sheets. They don’t get pilly, they stay smooth, and they feel the most refreshing on your skin.

“100% cotton” sheets that get pilly where you sleep on them, seem stringy and kind of chunky, feel velvety at first but turn on you and feel disappointing—those are short staple cotton sheets. You have them. I know you do. You probably got them at a deep discount (or got fleeced) at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. You were probably sucked in by the term “Egyptian Cotton.”

First off, “Egyptian Cotton” is a shit term that means nothing. Sure, cotton from Egypt *can* be nicer, but that’s long staple cotton, not the leftover fluff from the carding of the longer fibers. Short staple cotton is cheaper and more widely available. If you want those nice, crisp sheets, you have to shell out bucks for long staple cotton. This is extreme, but one year someone wanted to spend $200 on me for Christmas. What did I want? A $200 set of sheets (minimum 200 thread count per square inch, but that’s a completely different rant). Nothing else. She was incredulous. She didn’t know there could be $200 sheets. You don’t *have* to pay $200 for long staple cotton sheets, but I didn’t want her bargain hunting for the wrong thing because she didn’t know what to look for.

Short staple cotton looks tired in clothes. Ever washed something and it dried bedraggled and droopy after one wear and wash? Short staple cotton. For example, it’s used in shirts designed specifically for discount stores like Dress Barn or Gap Outlet. I’m a frequent Gap Outlet-er because we have one two miles away, but I know I’m paying for shite. I know they’re lulling me in with their brand name but that the collar and wrists are going to stretch and that the width is going to bulge. I know I will look disheveled and poor. Yeah, that’s right, poor, I said it. Short staple cotton doesn’t flatter you and makes you *look* like you paid less.

And the sheets, oh the sheets. I’ve been fooled. Beautifully sheened cotton machine folded into a perfect cube—oh, heart’s delight! But, inside that zippered vinyl bag--lies and broken promises. You wash, and you realize there are little fibers poking out loose all over looking like soft fuzz. First you think the sheets are downy soft, but, after a couple of washes, the sheet begins to distort and not cover your body correctly.

Short staple cotton. Bane of my existence. And cheap cashmere. Don’t get me started on the farming practices of cheap cashmere and its global impact. Sheesh.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weird Al Yankovic (re: "I'm Fat")

I have discovered that I am fat. This was not an overnight sensation, but last night I realized that the mirror ain’t lyin.

I wore something that turned out to be seriously unflattering last night. I caught a look at my butt in the mirror, and, gasp! It was huge! I turned this way and that to see if any view made my wide load look any smaller, and, no, it didn’t. Not at all. In fact, it seemed to be mocking me and looked larger every time I shifted my perspective.

I turned from looking at my enormous ass to look at my profile in the mirror. Counterbalancing the rear, my belly looked huge and distended. No wonder people in Chicago who saw me infrequently asked me if I were pregnant: I looked more like a house every time they saw me.

Five pounds here, ten pounds there: I climbed the weight to height ratio in the stratosphere. I typed in my data in the Mayo Clinic health calculator, and I’m obese. I tried another calculator, and it too said I was obese.

WTF? Why did I let this happen to me? I remember all the brownies and the cookie dough and the carrot cake, and now I think, “what the hell was I doing to myself?” I don’t know. I was just so unhappy that sugar was the only thing that made it feel better, even if it were just a temporary release.

As one of my doctors glibly stated, “It’s a lot easier to put it on than it is to take it off.” I let that be my mantra for a while, my excuse. “Oh well, if it’s so hard to do, then I’ll just live like this.”

But living like this led to more brownies and more ice cream, and now I have to put the brakes on it all. My regular breakfast of cereal and coffee. Lunch is now salad with some protein and an orange. Dinner is home cooked lean meat. Snacks are yogurt and popcorn.

“Diet.” What does that mean? The food you eat, the dining habits you break, the grueling trek up the stair climber? I don’t want to drink the Weight Watcher’s Koolaid, but my friend is right: “diet” is a mean word with all its connotations of deprivation. “Lifestyle change” is the right combo. I am remembering not to order all that bacon and sausage at IHOP. I am going to eat spinach omelets. I am going to get protein from avocados and olives. I am going to learn to eat sardines.

I don’t own a scale. Presumably I’m “lifestyle changing” by the way my pants fit. Lemme tell ya, they ain’t no better yet.

I’m a fattie boombalattie. Until Sunday, I had fat pride. “This is my body, deal with it.” I don’t know what happened to my ass in that mirror on Sunday night, but my body composition is totally transformed: this is not how I want to be. I don’t want to look pregnant forever.

And husband? He makes fun of fat people when we’re out in public. When will that be me? When will he look at me and say, “Jeez, put down that cupcake already”? I don’t want my belly to see that day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lifehack: Mission Dinner

Just in case you haven't received one of my whiny e-mails, you may not know that I am allergic to the top most common food products: wheat, chicken, and peanut. (There are others, but they're more arcane.)

Having the general yuckies, I wondered what to do for dinner tonight. No chicken soup. No beef soup with noodles. Ah! Beef broth and rice!

I cooked some short grain brown rice, heated up some beef broth, poured the former into the latter, and voila! Anti-allergen-under-the-weather soup.

However, this beef broth doesn't look like the stuff that comes from beef noodle soup. We'll see how mystery soup turns out.

***Update. It wasn't quite "right," but it was edible.

Darwin and me

Today we celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin. Here’s a quote from him that Google found for me:

I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.

I admire Darwin immensely, and I use a personalized version of this quote for expressing my disbelief in a higher power.

I am a devoted atheist. I don’t know the exact word for what I am, but I often use Existentialist—ultimately, we are individually responsible for the destiny we create for ourselves. (TonyN should find that statement a pleasant visitation to the past.)

I believe in the sanctity and beauty of life, that there is no reason that the world couldn’t have evolved to create such beauty in ourselves and nature. As Darwin stated, why would a super-being have created complex symbiotic predatory relationships when they seem generated of necessity to adapt to one’s environment? And why isn’t that scientific rationalization beautiful enough to say there is no god? Isn’t there beauty in belief that the universe can create itself in all its complex iterations?

OK, I can’t write more on my dissertation for atheism. I have a bad case of the yuckies, and I’m feeling sort of vertiginous.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Overheard on campus

"If I were to get hit by a bus, it would be like ..."

"You mean there's nothing you would regret?"

"Not a thing."

***So, now wait, are they too young to have regrets, or just too young to realize they have regrets?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

What does that even mean?

"She had a crush on me. She was really into Robert Palmer. Went to one of his concerts. Do you know who Robert Palmer is?"


"I guess she was addicted to love."

"Did I ever tell you what I used to think that song said?"


"'Bite his little face and you're addicted to love!'"