Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun, but not really

My Tarot card for today:

The World represents the completion of a cycle and the attainment of inner peace and contentment. It is time to celebrate all that you have accomplished and bask in your successes. You have achieved a heightened sense of self awareness and a new appreciation for your surroundings. While this card doesn't rule out discomfort in your life, it does indicate that many of your trials and tribulations will soon be overcome. Everything is finally starting to come together!

Not bad for the last day of March Madness.

There is a part of me that feels like I have come a long way. There is a part of me that feels like there is much to get done. There is a part of me that feels like "everything IS finally starting to come together" but is kind of a boring, everyday life kind of way. And then there is a part of me that just wants to eat a cookie.

Last Friday at work, I started to get really stressed out at work. I left feeling grumpy and emotional. I met up with Dan and his friends to go see a movie called Chapter 27, which is directed and written by one of Dan's friends. After the movie, everyone was going to go out and celebrate and I bailed and went home. There were a few things. I was tired. My feet hurt. My bag weighed 80 pounds. I couldn't drink anyway. Most mostly, the work stress still weighed heavily and I was just feeling anti-social and didn't want to deal with anything. This is the Yvonne of the old, pre-trip days. The un-fun pig. Although I was so relieved to leave and go home and sink into my bed, I felt bad that the old Yvonne was back.

Luckily, it was temporary. It had to be. This weekend was jammed packed with social flurry from Liz's engagement party to brunch with Stacy and Mike to dinner with the Jackson's. By the time I got home Sunday night I realized that I had maybe an hour for myself this entire weekend which I spent exercising. By the time Monday rolled around, I was ready for a new weekend to start. Work wasn't so bad today, and I came home and got a big check in the mail and then I remembered why I work.

In the midst of the social flurry, I am happy to announce that I have a new member in my family. My niece Tiffany and her husband Greg welcomed a baby girl, Audrey Victoria on Friday. Little Dillon, Tiffany's son, fell in love instantly. I am sure I will, too. I can't wait to meet her.

Love at first sight.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The pants fit.

Do I look skinnier sideways?

I definitely lost an ounce. This morning, feeling very sorry for myself because I had nothing to wear AGAIN, in desperation, I pulled out a pair of pants that I bought pre-trip that no longer fit post-trip. I slipped them on and they fit perfectly. FINALLY! VALIDATION that giving up my true love (cookies, cakes and ice cream) has some rewards. Something to wear! I keep checking myself out in the mirror thinking I look all cool in my "new" pants.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cake person.

Okay, so they're not Buttercup. But I was dying to bake something, anything--and so I decided to make these very healthy, no sugar added pear bran muffins from the Bob Greene Best Life Diet book. They're alright, but let's just say, after eating one, I am not itching for another one. Might as well, they have a lot of fiber and eating too many might lead to an unpleasant experience.

I have been aching to bake, so I watch Everyday Baking to make me feel better, and I dream about the day when I am making some of these:

I do know how to torture myself.

I emailed my friend Kristina, one of the Germans. She is now in Krakow for the semester, studying and living in Poland. It seems really far away right now. It's kind of crazy to think that it's nearly been three and a half months--the length of my trip--that I have been back. And how quickly the trip has slipped away to real life.

Kristina wrote me: "To say the truth I cannot imagine you sitting at a desk in a marketing company...for me you have your tennis shoes, your backpack, maybe the camera in your hand, and a cake in front of you."

What happened to that person?

Monday, March 24, 2008

March Crummy-ness

FUN: My old high-school friend Chris came to visit me this weekend.
Chris brings me a bag of Easter-themed cookies. Her mom makes the most delicious cookies that everyone in my childhood would go crazy over--especially me. I haven't had one in years. It was so nice that she thought to bring some, but I couldn't eat one or I wouldn't be able to eat any desserts at my mom's house at Easter. That bummed me out--big time. (Dan ate one and claimed they weren't that good. He knows nothing. Then he ate another.)

FUN: Chris and I dine at the the festive Beyoglu
restaurant where we ate very yummy Mediterrean food.
NOT FUN: ...which would have tasted much more yummier with a glass of wine.

FUN: Dan and I went to NJ on Saturday where my mom made freshly baked brownies (the best!) and had ice cream on hand.

NOT FUN: I watched Dan eat it while I cried on the inside.

FUN: Easter brunch with the family. After eating Polish Ham galore, I finally ate my brownie and ice cream treat of the week and man, it was excellent.
NOT FUN: I wanted another one, but instead watched Dan take seconds, third, fourths...until he experienced shoulder pain.

FUN: Yesterday at work we had a going-away party for a co-worker.

NOT FUN: Buttercup cupcakes. Are these people trying to kill me?

No, I don't spend every minute of my day thinking about food, but this week-end was particularly hard. If it makes anything better, I am number one in both of Basketball March Madness pools.

Last week of March--gotta finish strong!

Me and Chris at the Natural History Museum.

Easter brunch: Lots of Polish Ham.

I'm pooped.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arts and crafts

I did something completely insane at work today.

I went and bought dolls online. Not one. Multiple. For myself. And get this: they are not even put together. I bought doll parts.

I innocently checked up on my new BFF Alicia's blog and saw that she was selling these adorable clothespin dolls that she made and also kits on how to make them yourself. Suddenly I felt compelled to have them. And if I must have them, why shouldn't I make them? So with my brain screaming simultaneously: "Get the dolls!" and "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?"--I shhhed my overactive brain and bought these things, my heart racing as if I were purchasing a high-priced prostitute. I have the intention to be crafty and make dolls. I have no idea what I will do with them. Perhaps I will give them to people I like dolls. Any volunteers?

But don't they make you happy just looking at them?

Speaking of craftsmanship, while there was not one peep of my mentioning Elizabeth's nest (hello, are there any commenters out there?) apparently this tale has caused a great deal of excitement and activity at the former workplace, including an art sculpture inspired by the nesting bathroom activities.

Created by the apparently crafty Michael Small (who knew?), my former boss and Hollywood film composer (who knew again?), the piece is all about (in his words): “Girl finding comfort in a womb-like nest, escaping from her fears, and realizing that she is supported and protected in her cocoon on a spring day at noon.” Either that or “Small plastic figurine on a pile of toilet paper.”

Like all art, it's open to interpretation. My friend Amanda (weather guru? and religious poet?) thinks it should be called "Sensitivity Training in a Nest." Feel free to share your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's over.

Duane Reade is like an abusive boyfriend that I keep going back to.

I keep thinking that this time it's different. This time he's changed, but you know what? He never does. It's the same old bullshit.

I already vowed never to go back, but then we move to the new hood and there is one right across the street. Like I can see Duane when I look outside my window. And he speaks to me: "ah, aren't i convenient."

And so I went back slowly. Popping in to buy some candy (in the old days). Or a package of cookies (again, in the old days). Accompanied Dan to purchase tooth paste (he refuses to use my Crest because he says it tastes horrible, which it does, but I refuse to throw it away and be wasteful.)

And so when I asked my doctor friend to call in a prescription for me because I am still working out my health insurance and can't plunk the change to go to the doctor, I reluctantly gave her the number for Duane.

I went in Sunday to pick it up. Pharmacy closed already and the place isn't even 24 hours. Convenient it is not. So I went again today and they told me my doctor did not call it in. Which is a complete lie. And then they gave me their phone number--which is the same number I had.

So that's when I decided. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

I am through with you, Duane Reade! And I am not eating candy and cookies anymore so you're completely worthless to me. Go shove it with your horrible pharmacy and your constant long-ass check out line no matter what time of day it is. I'm done.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend highlights.

1. Chocolate ice cream with brownie and chocolate chunks on a sugar cone. So good. So deserved.

2. Taxes complete. Refund a'comin'.

3. Paycheck in the mail.

4. Brunch with Hila=inspiration to get my ass in gear. We talked about adding creativity into our lives and after our meal, I found myself sitting at my dining room table with a sketch pad and my drawing pencils doodling away.

5. Four miles in Central Park. I'm getting stronger.

6. Stinky Dan. Sick people apparently do not shower.

7. Clean Dan. Tylenol Cold Severe and some running water later....and much better!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I love this chick.

It's my job to come up with marketing programs at work. I made up an idea on Friday about a reader photo contest and I wanted to call it "Capture the Moment." Sometimes I double-check my program titles on Google just to make sure that they're legit (if the title has a bunch of hits, I know it's fine. If there are none, it's often that my title makes no sense or is grammatically incorrect--which happens sometimes). Anyway, I did the google check and found a blog called Capture the Moment which is all about creating cool homemade stationary with stamps.

I am not a crafty person, but I am fascinated by this stuff. Drop me in a Michael's or a Kate's Paperie, and I am like a kid in the candy store. I love looking at all the paper and stamps and paint and projects and I think about how I would love to do all of them. (Believe it or not, I used to be very artsy as a child, sketching in notebooks all the time, but that sort of disappeared into adulthood). Every time I leave the store empty-handed. I just convince myself that it's not neccesary at this time to make a card or create a scrapbook or make a counting cross stitch of a cat.

So this blog completely sucked me in stirring up that crafty artsy fartsy ambition inside of me. Yes, I need to be making some stationary. Then I started clicking on her inspiration blog where I found my new role-model Alicia Paulson.

Alicia is one of these crafty types that I really admire. She's like one of those people who actually lives out the life you read in Martha Stewart Living--but even cooler. She cooks really beautiful food. (It appears she bakes some kind of awesome sweet every other week). She creates crafty projects like crocheted sweaters and funky dish towels and painted dolls and whatever else she feels like working on. She used to have a store, but now she just works out of her studio which looks like the most inspirational and sunny place to work and sells her stuff on the internet. Her photographs are amazing, and she is a book writer and her blog has a crazy following. Hello, 100 comments on a post?

Suffice to say, in a matter of 24 hours, I became Alicia's biggest fan, finding myself in the craft section of Barnes & Noble today, devouring books on knitting and stationary until Dan told me it was time to leave. Grrr...

It's quite possible that all of this excitement and inspiration will all fade as quickly as it came. But all I know is that this year, I gotta be making my own Christmas cards and making gingerbread houses and making my own clothes and doing some serious cooking and baking. (after March Madness, of course.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tina's birthday party in the conference room.

I did not have one. But man did they smell good.

March Madness is all about negotiating. This morning, I woke up extremely tired and like every morning, I had this fight in my head:

"Stay in bed."

"No get up."

"Come on, stay in bed. It's so warm."

"No I have to get up."

"You can work-out in the evening."

"Oh, yeah! Oh no! I have plans this evening."

"Well, if you don't workout now, you won't work out later either."

"Okay then, I'll get up."

And I do. But literally, it's that same conversation. In my head. Every morning. I almost always get up. If I have no plans, sometimes I cave. But usually I can convince myself it's more trouble than it's worth.

And that is what happened in the conference room today. Negotiation. Another version of that same conversation. I wanted a cupcake, but I knew I was going out with my friends tonight where I would want a glass of wine, and do I really have my treat of the week and my drink of the week in one night? No. I'll have wine tonight. Dessert this weekend. It's done. They still smelled good.

I met up with some old work-mates--Amanda, Elizabeth and Anjali--and forced them to go to my favorite place--where else, Divine Bar East Side. I love that place. And they agreed to come, so why fight it.

I drank my wine so so slowly and it was so so good. The highlight, however, was hearing Elizabeth tell us a story about how she was having a really bad day at work, and so she decided to go to the bathroom, lock herself in the stall, build a little nest for herself, sit on top of the nest with pants still on and fume.

I had laughing tears in my eyes as she was telling this story. I just love the idea of a nest made out of toilet paper and watching her rotate her hand in a circular motion to indicate covering the toilet seat. I never thought about it that way before. We all agreed that the nest is what we will take away from the evening.

(The thing that is great about Elizabeth is that she started working at my old job when I was totally over it, and I was so cranky and uninterested with any of the new hires by then. And I just remember one day bumping into her randomly in the kitchen and being like, "So how's the new job going?" and then ending the conversation with "Yeah, sorry I never talk to you." I remember thinking: She probably thinks I am so much more weird talking to her than not talking to her. But we have talked lots more since then, and I find that she is quite enjoyable to talk to and my social grace has improved since then--kind of).

So all in all, we had some good conversation, tapas and good drinks (well, drink for me), but then we started talking about constipation, and when our discussion was literally going down the toilet, we called it a night.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

One ounce.

While it has not been precisely measured, I am convinced that maybe I have lost an ounce.

No one will probably notice, it is ever so slight, but I feel like I am a little bit skinner and tighter than I was 12 days ago.

I got an invitation to a work birthday party for Thursday. Exact wording: "We're going to have cupcakes."


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yellow Gloves

In the same spirit as the polar bear pants, I have worn my favorite yellow cashmere gloves until they grew holes. I tried to ignore them, even when my fingers would fall out of the holes, or how every time I put on my gloves, they would get bigger.

Finally Dan saw that I was wearing these holey gloves and told me I looked like a homeless person.

I wore them a few more times and decided this morning that I should retire them even though they are the best gloves I have ever owned--both in comfort, softness and yellowness.
I pulled on some new-old gloves today--these grey numbers I bought a few years ago and never wore reguarly (they lack the comfort, softness or yellowness). And I decided that these were the gloves I would now wear with the yellow cashmere scarf which is still in peak condition.

But then I dropped one on the bus, and I figured it out as the bus was pulling away. And that was the end of the grey numbers. I threw the other in the trash can.
I am tempted to go back to homeless yellow once again. Can someone send me a paycheck already so I can buy myself some respectable hand coverings?

How can something that feels so right be so wrong?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ring around the rosey.

Me and Dani at Tiffany's.

This entry is going to make the mom readers very excited.

The other day Dan asked me what kind of engagement ring I would like, and I had no idea what to tell him. I've never been a woman rushing to get married, I don't have my entire wedding planned out and I have never been a ring person. I don't even wear rings. Whenever someone gets engaged in the office, I never run over and look at her hand. I always make a point to look at her face and express my happiness about her decision to get married, not my excitement that her boyfriend bought a rock for her finger.

I asked my friends what I should do, and they told me that I should go to Tiffany's to try on rings to get an idea of what I want, and then Dan can take the design to a jeweler and pay a normal price for it. Apparently, no one really buys anything at Tiffany's. It's just inspiration.

Still, I felt a little weird about the whole thing. So I asked my friend Dani if she could help me. Today, on a rainy Saturday, we met at Tiffany's where I tried on nearly every engagement ring in the place. I am so glad I brought Dani because she was all business--pointing through the glass at rings I should try and asserting her opinion--yes or no--right away.

Lucky for Dan, I found out that big diamonds look strange on my thin fingers. I also figured out that the square-shaped diamonds I admired on my friends looked harsh on me. There were two rings--somewhat different looks--that I liked very much and felt completely natural on my hand. They just seemed right. The woman at the counter circled them in the book. Dani was beaming.

We rambled around Fifth Avenue and peeked into some more jewelry stores, tried on some more rings, but they all started looking looking the same to me and none matched the "rightness" of the other two.

I came home so excited, I was jumping up and down. It's like all these years I have been repressing the excitement that comes with getting a really nice piece of jewelry. Of course, Dan rolled his eyes at me and sighed deeply after seeing the Tiffany prices and tried to maintain my expectations.

Then over a steak dinner, Dan told me, "Well, now I am going to have to wait a long to time ask you to get married so you forget what the ring looks like."

Sorry moms. It's not that time yet.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Biennial

Dan at the Biennial.

The angel and the devil came back.

This week, the magazine I work at made some management changes which means that all of the things I've been working on have been put on hold until the dust settles. So that means for the last three days I have been creating Excel documents for the sake of having something to do. I am so bored I could die.

So I began to wonder, in between checking brashlion for the twentieth time in an hour, should I have taken that permanent job?
At least then I am spending my day doing something worthwhile. I am taken with respect. I am not asked to make copies for meetings that I am not invited to attend. I have a paycheck that comes in every two weeks. I have health insurance. My career will advance. I will progress.

But isn't it a sign of insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result?
Because I am not sure that going back to what I used to do would bring me happiness either.

And quite frankly, despite my complete and utter boredom, this job is just what I need because I come home with so much pent up energy that working on my book in the evenings is a nice release, a letting go of the creative energy that I've been denied to use all day. So I am wondering if this is just a case of "be careful what you wish for" combined with "the grass is always greener."

I guess what's troubling me is that if you asked me really honesty, where do I want my career to go, the real answer is I want to be a published author, and that's all. And quite frankly, I'm scared as shit. Because I know that 99% of the time, that answer does not work out. What makes me the exception? Am I fooling myself? Should I just grow up and get a real job?

My thoughts on all this heightened on Wednesday to the point where I almost said fuck the madness and shove M&Ms down my throat, but instead I didn't. I quietly went home, amused myself with an enlightening episode of Girls Next Door, and then joined Dan and my friend Danielle to go to a special evening at the Whitney Museum's Biennial, an exhibit that highlights new up-and-coming artists.

I was hoping to walk away inspired by all the artwork, but like most modern art, I looked at the random crap hanging on the walls with a shrug and instead fixated on the super cool artsy clothes that the attendees were wearing.
If being an artist means wearing clothes like that, then I'm in.

The first week of the madness came to an end, and the angel and devil quit battling by Friday, my email in-box buzzed with freelance job prospects that I cannot accept since I am "working." I worked out 6 days, I ate my vegetables, I did consume some white carbs (I asked for brown rice at the sushi restaurant but they only had white--what can you do?). I had one glass of wine. I did not eat one sweet thing and believe it or not, I am still alive.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

They told me it would happen...

...and I didn't believe it would happen to me.

But I just had to turn down a freelance job offer because I am already working.


Now let's hope the offers will be there when I am not working anymore.

Fourth Day Update

Four days in and I am feeling a little cranky.

My body is sore. I feel it in my back and my legs.

I was dismayed to learn this morning that the 6:15 am spin class was filled. I have never seen that happen for a morning gym class before. This new gym on the East Side is just too crowded. Does that I mean I have to get to the gym at 5:30 just to get a bike? Ugh! I ran instead, and it all worked out, but I felt like kicking people on the overcrowded exercise mat during my ab routine.

I come to work and there is a giant jar of Hershey's Kisses sitting on a table in the marketing area. This jar is conveniently located in a place that I walk by anytime I need to walk anywhere. To the printer, to the bathroom, to the copy machine--that table stands in my way. And every time I walk by I have to remind myself, I do not want Hershey's Kisses.

Then I had to conduct a meeting while sitting at said table with said Hershey's Kisses jar inches in front of me. While everyone unwrapped Easter-pastel foil off their chocolates, I pretended to be very interested in what I was talking about. They were more interested in the chocolate.

But I am good, fine.

I am eating well. I am working out. I am writing. I am planning inspiration outings. I am attempting to live the life I want. And that's far better than a chocolate kiss, right?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The madness continues.

Last night I dreamed about desserts. Lots and lots of desserts. I was at this fair where there were tents filled with all kinds of choices of cakes and candies and delectable looking things and I couldn't have anything.

I woke up very hungry. I had oatmeal topped with strawberries.

After a very satisfying run in Central Park, I showered, made some lunch, and then sat down in front of the computer and started my book. Because I know I am bound to get the question
, my book will be an extension of the writing I did for Polish Ham. But it will be much bigger than that. While Polish Ham was mostly about traveling, my book will be a love letter to Polish people, my family and my life as a Polish-American woman. That's all I know about it right now, so that is all I want to say about it right now.

Look who's writing! And yes, it made me grow an antennae.

Dan got a haircut.

My dinner: Salad with chicken, black beans and mango.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Let the madness begin!

Tough stuff.

So one priority of March Madness is getting my butt back into shape. I have come up with a list of criteria that I am following for the next 31 days:

1. Exercise 5-6 times a week
2. Drink 2 liters of water a day
3. Eat healthy. Lots of fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken
4. Avoid white carbs (whole wheat only)
5. No soda
6. No snacking after dinner
7. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night
8. Dessert and/or alcohol only twice a week.

We all know what is going to be the hardest for me.

While I know I am not fat, I am probably at my most overweight that I have been in a long time.
Everyone gave me a hard time about eating cake once a day in Europe, but honestly, I don't think that is what did me in. Every time I ate sweets in Europe, I would sit down and really enjoy it, and I often substituted dessert for lunch. Then I would spend the rest of the day walking it all off. My pants felt loose in Europe.

When I got back to the States and back to work, suddenly, I am spending most of my days sitting down in a cubicle. I take the subway to work, so not much walking anymore. And I find myself mindlessly munching on M&M's when I am working in front of the computer or comforting myself with cupcakes when I had a bad day. Not the same thing. Need to revert to my Euro ways and use dessert as enjoyment, not anxiety filler.

Today was the first day of exercising and eating right. Two moments worth of mentioning: Me stepping on the scale at the gym and thinking I was at an average weight for me until I realized I was reading the kilograms and not the pounds. I am four more pounds overweight than I had thought. And those four pounds make a huge difference. I didn't get upset (I actually don't care about the numbers--just how my clothes fit me) and if anything seeing the number motivated me more and made me see that I am doing the right thing.

The second moment, I was shopping in Soho and I passed by an ice cream shop and I nearly just walked in there out of habit. I literally had to remind myself that I couldn't go in there. See, it's all about breaking habits. And if I only can have two servings of sweets and alcohol, I am saving it for the good stuff.

My "before" shot.