Veritable Vitamin Variety

I am continuing my efforts to improve my diet, and thus my health. Honestly, listening to RuPaul:What’s the Tee? w/ Michelle Visage has been a source of inspiration. Both Ru and Michelle enjoy talking about eating healthier. Michelle has been openly sharing her battle with autoimmune problems. I have no idea if I have any autoimmune problems, but eating better isn’t bad for anyone.

So, I’m coming to that point in my “no sugar cycle” where I really try to step up my game with eating less processed food and less fast food. Granted, this past weekend wasn’t great for that. But I was away at a conference, stressed, and PMSing. Not a great combination mentally. As I’m driving home from campus today, the podcast reaches the episode where they were talking with Suzanne Somers (Episode 68 – yes, I am way behind). They talk quite a bit about healthy lifestyles, including diet, as I’m eating my Southwestern (Grilled) Chicken sandwich, fries, and drinking my large green tea from Wendy’s. While it wasn’t the most unhealthy thing on the menu – by a long shot – it’s not great. For my waistline or my wallet.

As I’m driving, I decide that I need to stop and get some fresh food before going home. I needed to stop and get one thing anyway, so why not pick up some veggies. When I walked in, I made a beeline for the lettuce. Then I picked up some green onions. They also had some good looking pears. Which reminded me I wanted strawberries. But on the way to the strawberries, I found the grape tomatoes and avocados. Before I knew it, my basket was full and heavy with fresh fruits and veggies. A veritable variety of vivacious vitamins in their original packaging. I think that was a sign that I wanted fresh.

Now I just need to keep inspired and eat it all up before it turns into a pile of mush in the fridge. I’ve got a good start. I’ve eaten about half of the strawberries already. Hopefully the momentum will keep going this time and I’ll be able to continue making permanent changes to my diet for the better!

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Now I remember!

I remember why all those times I cut out sugar it didn’t stick. Today reminded me.

I have been slightly foggy lately. I’ve been unmotivated and unfocused. I haven’t felt like constantly making myself a cup of caffeinated tea to stay focused. I’ve been avoiding sugar, but I allowed myself a break on Sunday. Even then it wasn’t completely sugar, just a delicious carrot cake torte. But I can’t shake this fog.

I got going this morning just fine. A travel mug of tea on my drive in and I was great to teach. But I got back to my office and I was very hungry. So I microwaved my lunch. I was still hungry. And quite unfocused and foggy. I accidentally bought a bag of gummies yesterday out of habit and left them in my bag. I tore into them in the hopes that they would at least take the edge off. They didn’t.

This is why I always end up slowly eating too much sugar again and again. My body adjusts to the lack of sugar, but my habits don’t. But this time I’m aware of it. I’m conscious of it.

I’m at the PCA Conference in Indianapolis for the week. I packed food to eat in the room for two reasons. First, to cut back on paying for fast food. Despite getting a pizza tonight. Second, to keep these good habits up. I even stopped by the nearby Wal-Mart for some yogurts for breakfast, raspberry tea for the evenings, and milk for my hot tea. I packed my utiliTEA, three tins of tea, sugar crystals, mug, teabags, and measuring spoons so I can make tea whenever. I even brought my Starbucks travel mug for a cup made here in the morning and refills throughout the day.

Granted, getting enough sleep would help, too.

Stepping back

For whatever reason, I was in a funk recently. During that funk, I was eating horribly. I was eating too much candy and fast food and not enough actual food. Thankfully I realized I was in a funk and decided to start making some changes.

First step, reducing my sugar intake. Right now, that means cutting out pop/soda, candy, and other mostly processed sugar items. I’m still allowing myself things like green tea from Wendy’s, my bottled raspberry tea, sugar crystals in my tea at home – which I’m trying to get back into the habit of drinking instead of the raspberry – and foods with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit. I don’t want to cut out all sugar, but I figure consuming stuff that is basically just sugar isn’t the greatest idea on many levels. I’ve been mostly successful, with only one intentional indulgence because I couldn’t get the thing off my mind.

The next step is going to be a reduction in fried foods. I’ve actually been kind of working on it, but it’s been more out of a desire to spend less money than intentionally not eating them. It also helps that Wendy’s grilled chicken has improved, or I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, I’m back to preferring that when I stop by. I had really developed a taste for Homestyle, which is not the best thing in the world to be eating more than once a week. I’m hoping that by easing myself into this, I’ll be able to build some lasting habits that will help me fight the funk.

Getting things taken care of around here will help too. But I have to remember to stay focused so I can get my school work and unpacking done. Hopefully eating better will help with that. It sure can’t hurt.

Trying to make changes

Lately I’ve been listening to RuPaul: What’s the Tee? w/Michelle Visage as I drive to and from campus (mostly because I would have to use my phone to over-listen to The Hamilton Polka). I am way behind. I’m not sure if I’ve even hit episode 10. But in one of those episodes, Michelle talks about how turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties. It seemed like something worth looking up.

Turns out that turmeric has compounds called curcuminoids, and they… well I’ll just quote the article I’m getting this from:

“Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight.” (“10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin“)

They go on to say that there are supplements that are mostly, if not all, curcuminoids, and that is the most effective way to get it in high doses. Also, in order for the curcumin to be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream, you should take it with black pepper. The piperine in black pepper boosts absorption.

Thankfully the Lucky’s Market I love to go to in Columbus has a turmeric supplement that is 95% curcuminoids and 5% piperine. The article says that most studies have people taking 1 gram per day. These supplements have 450 mg per capsule, so I’d have to take 2 a day to get 1 gram. Considering I’m just starting out – and the bottle is $25 for 60 – I’ve only taken one per day.

In recent years I’ve noticed that I’ve been itching more in places where my skin is sensitive. I was diagnosed with having eczema on my hands back in 8th grade. I have been attributing the itching to that spreading to vulnerable areas. I know that things like stress and eating crappy cause flare-ups. But I noticed that when I’d take my allergy meds (OTC of course), the flare-ups would go down. So I started associating allergies with flare-ups. Probably not the smartest thing in retrospect, but oh well.

After hearing about the way it’s been helping Michelle with her autoimmune problems – she includes turmeric in her green juice – I decided to give it a shot. I really shouldn’t be taking the allergy meds if I’m trying to control something else. Sunday was the first day. I didn’t notice much either way. My palms were itchy all day before I took it and it went away soon after I took it. But I wasn’t sure that it was psychosomatic. Yesterday, my right eye was driving me nuts – something that would have had me running for the allergy meds before. So I took the turmeric, noted the time, and tried to ignore my eye. It didn’t stop itching quickly, but it did eventually. It might have done that anyway for all that I know.

Until about midnight, that is.

My eye started itching like it had before. It had been a little over 12 hours since I took turmeric. It seems that it’s worn off and it’s working! It makes me feel better that I can manage smaller things with the supplement and save the meds for when I’m actually dealing with allergies.

Now if I can just cut back on the sugar consumption and actually stick to it. That would really help with the whole inflammation problem. But that’s for another day.

Am I being punished?

Around the time we started the whole moving process, and the whole me driving 2.5 hours every day, my service indicator went on. I needed to start working on going in for an oil change. But between the moving and my forgetful/procrastination-prone brain, I didn’t. Slowly I watched as the percentage went down from 15% to 10% to 5% to a flashing 0. Then it starts flashing every mile you go past that. I’m over 5000 now.

Every time I would go on to try and make an appointment at my nearby dealership, the next available day for appointments was two weeks away. I realize now that I should have just made an appointment the first time I saw that. I could have always cancelled it if I got in before then. But I didn’t. I would just say to myself, “I’ll get in before then,” and forget to go in.

Then the moving started in earnest. I was making trips to Columbus as well as up to campus regularly. The trips back from Columbus had my car filled with our stuff. All the while my miles keep going up. I was trying to balance teaching and being a student and moving. I didn’t have time to sit around and wait for them to work on my car. I kept coming up with excuses.

This weekend I finally decided to get moving. I went to the nearby dealership, hoping to get a walk-in spot and get things taken care of. They aren’t open on Saturdays. I knew Honda as a company is not open on Sundays, but this dealership isn’t open on Saturdays. I should have known. I had checked their site often enough. So I did very minimal driving yesterday with the intention of going to the one near campus today. I get over to them and the first appointment they have today is 4:15p. I’ve got a meeting at 4p. That won’t work.

So I made an appointment for tomorrow. But I have to drive home and back. Another hundred or so miles.

I feel like I’m getting punished for not going in when I should have back when the light first went on.

I’m going to try the dealership at home tonight. If I’m lucky, they can fit me in…or not. They close at 5p. I guess I’m going to have to drive back up tomorrow. Why can’t I simply get my car taken care of?

How am I going to do this?

Last Thursday night, we dropped off the keys to the first place we have been able to call home. The place we have been living in for almost 8 years. He slipped the envelope with the keys in the slot at the rental office, got back in my car filled with the last of our things, and we drove off for the last time. It was a bittersweet moment. I’m getting a little teary thinking about it. We left our first home. We headed to our new home.

Since I finished my master’s degree, we decided that we cannot keep only seeing each other on the weekends. But he’s still working in Columbus and all of my business is in BG. So we found a new place in between. It’s bigger than the last place – 3 bedrooms instead of 2, and 1000 square feet instead of 700 – and it has vaulted ceilings in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. It is on the third floor, which is taking some getting used to. Although moving helped with that. But we don’t have to worry about upstairs neighbors, and heat does rise.

It’s been nice so far. I’ve been here for over a month now as we slowly brought things up. It’s allowed me to not only be closer to school and get used to the drive, but it’s given me time to get my room/office set up and functioning so I can actually get work done at home. It felt like things had been for the past two years: on my own during the week, home on the weekends. It also allowed me to get things unpacked as I could, keeping things somewhat organized so we can find things later.

It was really useful when we moved the furniture in. We put the couch, TV stand, and TV in the living room no problem. We were able to actually sit down in the living room! We had dinner while watching Leverage. Or at least I watched as much as I could while eating and then came in here to get work done. One of those things I had to adjust to, not being alone anymore.

Honestly, that, not the stacks of boxes everywhere, is what has taken the most adjustment. Not being alone anymore. I’ve become used to being able to make what I want for dinner when I am hungry. I’ve become used to being alone and having no interruptions – aside from my phone. I’ve become used to being the only one here during the week.

It doesn’t help that there’s so much to unpack, go through, decide what’s being kept and what’s getting tossed, and finding somewhere to put things. Unfortunately in the last frenzied week of moving, the living room became the dumping ground for everything that we didn’t already have a space for. Now I make dinner and we retreat to our desks, because they’re the only place where each of us can sit down and have a flat surface to put things on.

During all of this I still have to teach class three days a week, take class three days a week, hold my office hours, drive 2.5 hours a day, and get reading done for class. Why did I think we could move while I was taking/teaching class? Why didn’t we just wait until Spring Break to get the move actually done, giving us 2 months to get everything packed and ready to go in a couple of trips in a truck? It would have allowed us to get everything properly packed and labeled. It would have allowed us to properly go through everything and only move what was being kept. It would have let me keep going to class last week.

If I can just get through the rest of this week and next week, I’ve got all of Spring Break. All of Spring Break to get caught up on my reading. All of Spring Break to get my students’ assignment graded. All of Spring Break to start going through the boxes of stuff. All of Spring Break to get things put away or thrown out. All of Spring Break to recover. But I have to get there first.

How am I going to do this?

 

Grammy’s reactions

I decided to watch the Grammy’s tonight. It was this or constantly posting on Facebook. This won.

Kendrick Lamar. …. just DAMN.

Lady Gaga. No one warned me I’d need tissues!

Yay, Alessia Cara! I don’t know anything of hers but her cover of “How Far I’ll Go”, but it’s awesome!

This says everything, IMO:

Okay, I need to check out Childish Gambino.

This shows how little I know. I didn’t know that was the name of the album he was up for. Very appropriate title. On multiple levels, many of which I am no aware of.

Yes! P!nk! ASL!!!! I love her even more now!!

Subway Car-pool Karaoke!!!

Cardi B and Bruno Mars are giving me 90s flashbacks in good ways!

QUEEN!!! QUEEN GOT A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD!!!

Love the dig at the phones blocking the view. Who has their phone out at the Grammys?! Put it away and just be there! It’s being shown live on CBS.

I can’t remember which friend said it on Facebook, but they’re right. That is Santana’s “Maria Maria” below “Wild Thoughts”. But it’s too distracting. I keep thinking of “Maria Maria”.

Damn it. “Tears in Heaven”? Where are those tissues?
Seriously, though. It’s touching to have this tribute to the music fans who died.

Preach, Janelle! Preach! Time’s up!

Yes girl! “Immigrants, we get the job done”!!!!

I would listen to John Legend read Fire and Fury. But…that is just beautiful!

P-Lo! (aka, Patti Lupone) …wow.

I love that they keep playing “Despacito” before commercial breaks!

Thank you, Logic. That was a beautiful speech and it took courage and strength to say it. Thank you.

Okay. Back to studying…well, maybe dinner first, then studying.

Good News/Bad News time!

On Friday I got a call I had been hoping to get but never thought I would. They needed someone to teach Intro to Popular Culture this semester! I had the weekend to get things ready, which wasn’t hard since I had the class half planned already. So I now have a job, an office, and I’m teaching the class one more time! Which adds to my three class load. So that’s the good news/bad news. Good news: I’ve got a job teaching! Bad news: less time to blog here. So, basically back to the usual around here. Hehehe.

The Next Chapter, aka 2018

While I have technically been an American Culture Studies (ACS) Ph. D. student for a semester, now I really feel like it. I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life. And a new chapter it will be.

I’m going to be taking three classes this semester. Back to full time student!! I’ve got Geneology of American Culture, Critical Approaches in Film Studies, and Global Popular Music. This is going to be so much fun! The first class is required for all ACS students, MA and Ph. D. The second is required for the Media concentration in the Ph. D. program. The third is my choice for the Media track. I am really looking forward to having more than one class. Hopefully I’ll do better at getting the readings done and being able to contribute consistently in class. I’ve been working on it.

We are also working on moving closer to school. Which means no more long drives – especially since I’ll be in class three days a week. We’re trying to find a bigger place as well. More changes. More new. More excitement.

I’m going to be going to BroadwayCon in a few weeks. I’ll also be seeing Hamilton, again, the night before. Then, of course, there’s Marcon in May and DragonCon in September. I’m hoping to be attending/presenting at 3 conferences this semester, 1 over the summer, and 1 in the fall. At two of those conferences, I’ll be presenting chapters of my thesis. I’m hoping to get useful feedback on how to better expand/explain/polish the information. And the rest are looking deeper at topics I’ve written about before. Conferences are a great way to figure out if you’re headed in the right direction, or if you’re just indulging your own interests. So far, it’s been the former. I hope I continue that way.

Hopefully I’ll be able to take 2 classes over the summer. That way when I take my 3 classes in the fall, I’ll be almost caught up. One of my fall classes is one that I should technically have taken this semester, but was told by the professor who teaches it that I could put it off a year so I could focus on Theory and getting the comps passed.

It’s going to be a year of seeing old friends, making new; making new professional connections; adding more to my knowledge bank, and putting it all to use; and so much more that I don’t know about. This is going to be a great year!

Reflections on 2017

Well, the year is almost over. It’s that time of year when we take the time to look back and think about what has happened over the past 365 days. For me, it has been quite the rollercoaster.

Mostly it has been focused around school and classes. I started out the year with a rough draft of one chapter of my thesis done.  A thesis that needed to be completed, approved by my committee, and uploaded by April. Yeah, no pressure at all. But I also was taking a class about the superhero genre in comic books. Yay! I was also studying so I could pass the two parts of the comprehensive exam I would be retaking so I could graduate in the spring. All while continuing to serve as the president of the student organization for Popular Culture scholars and helping to organize our yearly academic conference. There was just a little stress going on.

I buckled down and got my thesis finished. Is it the final product? No. But it is a thesis that satisfied my committee, which was the most important part at the time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start picking away at revising and expanding it so it does reach that final product and I can start looking at getting it published. I went to another graduate student run conference at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. I got to present my paper on “my descent into Hamilton fandom” and make new friends. I presented my first paper on the intentional representation of Deafness in comics at the Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies, which I had quite the hand in organizing and it went off successfully!

I managed to pass one part of the comps, but still failed the other. I was given one last chance to pass it, and managed to fail again. The bottom dropped away from me. I had worked so hard to get my thesis finished and I wasn’t going to be graduating? How would I start in the fall as a Ph.D. student? I could not take another year off. I had taken so much time off already, I wanted to keep the knowledge coming in. Things finally settled and the fall was laid out for me: I would retake the entire comprehensive exam again in the fall (all three parts), I would also start the American Culture Studies Ph. D. program, I would be able to continue in the spring providing I passed the comps in their entirety. In order to prepare for the comps, it was suggested that I only take 1 class in the fall: theory. I also worked with a wonderful professor over the summer to better prepare for the comps.

Still, I was crushed. I wasn’t graduating with the rest of my cohort, my friends. I had to pass this exam that has been kicking my ass repeatedly in order to graduate and continue my studies. I wouldn’t have a job on campus since I was only part-time. Also, it made sense to simply live at home and just drive up for class once a week. That was great for my budget and for being at home with the hubby. But it also meant only seeing my new cohort/classmates/friends once a week. It sucked.

But as the semester went on, things got better. I gave successful presentations at CPAC and MPCA. I finally passed the comprehensive exams and graduated a few weeks ago. I successfully completed my first semester as a Ph. D. student. I have begun a new research project that I can continue to pick away at in addition to my dissertation work, and has been suggested as the topic of my dissertation, if I didn’t already have one.

There were also the more leisure-fun times. Soon after the year started, I had my adventure in NYC. I went to my first (the second ever) BroadwayCon! I got to be in the same room as so many talented legends, learn so much about Broadway, both in front of and behind the scenes, and enjoy being with fellow fans. And, thanks to giving in to an impulse, I finally went to see Hamilton. It is an experience I will never forget. To really experience the show, you need to see it performed. It truly is a combination of music, acting, choreography, staging, lighting, words… Knowing only one aspect does not paint the entire picture.

Which is part of why I went and saw it in Chicago in September. That and gathering more observations on the audience and the performance. It was completely different and completely the same. That cast has really made it their own. I only wish I could see the tour’s Angelica company in LA.

I had so much fun being on panels and just being at Marcon in May. I got three new costumes together for DragonCon in September. If only I had taken the time to make sure the one fit before calling it finished I could have worn all three! I had a blast at DragonCon, making more friends/professional connections. I even managed to amaze someone that a scholar they highly respect – with very good reason – was on my thesis committee. I watched many cool movies (including seeing Star Wars twice!), and even went to see Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time in the theater. I have met many new people and made many new friends. I have added many books to my shelves – both academic and for fun. I have added so much to my knowledge bank. I have so much more to learn.

I am grateful for all my experiences this year, from the very exciting to the extremely depressing. I am looking forward to everything that next year is bringing. But I’ll save that for another post. For now, thank you 2017 for quite the ride. Bring it on, 2018!