Settling in for the summer

Life has been quite complicated lately. The first week of May was finals week. The end of my first year as a Ph. D. student. I didn’t write the best papers for my classes, but they were good enough to get me Bs. It took me almost another week to get caught up on my grading. But, my students didn’t seem to hold it against me too much. I got some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten. Even their problems and critiques were useful, not just “it sucked”. I am so happy and grateful to have had this class. They really helped me to become a better instructor.

The weekend after grades were due was Marcon. It was so nice to get to see my friends again, go to panels, and be on panels. I’m starting to realize that my attitude is keeping people from approaching me in costume. I don’t know how to change that. It’s who I am. But as much as I am an introvert, I do like getting compliments and recognized when in costume. I put a lot of work into the whole thing, from the clothing to the props to the make-up. But if it doesn’t seem like I want to be approached, no one will. I need to be more aware of it when I can. Lets face it, sometimes you have ten minutes to get all the way across the con –  which is a very long distance at DragonCon. Sometimes you can’t be stopped.

Anyway. After Marcon, summer semester began. Well, the first term of summer semester. We have two terms over summer, two six-week classes that contain all the information of a 15-week class. In order to get caught up with where I should be, I’m taking one class each term. My first class is online, and it’s a split undergrad/grad student class. That is the more interesting aspect of it, not being online. Grad students have different readings and different responsibilities. Thankfully, because of my two theory classes and International Popular Culture, it’s going over topics I’m already very familiar with. It’s from a slightly different angle, but similar enough that I’m not too stressed over it.

At the beginning of the month, my dad moved to New Hampshire. It’s a very good move for him. He didn’t need to take any furniture with him, so I got to take some things off his hands. We now have a dining room table, the old microwave hutch (which is at least 20 years old, probably more) that is now our bar, one of the end-tables that my parents have had since before I was born, and an almost 20-year-old wood futon frame. The futon is in my room, patiently awaiting the spring mattress to arrive so I can finally properly use it to stretch out on and study on.

But those weren’t the only things he couldn’t take with him. He couldn’t take Harry. We have had Harry almost his entire life. He’ll be 15 at the end of July. But between his age and the fact that he’s black, we knew that he wouldn’t last if my dad took him to the local humane society. He’d be high on the list to go if they needed more space. We’ve been taking care of him until Saturday. He hadn’t adapted well to being here, and we just can’t take care of him properly right now. So I drove him to Columbus to a no-kill shelter. They couldn’t take him. They had no space, but, more importantly, they couldn’t have taken him even if they did. He’s never been to the vet. Without vet records, they couldn’t take him. The lady there said that at his age, the best thing would be to have him put down. He’s perfectly healthy, as far as we can tell, for a cat his age. Why would I do that? So after a breakdown in the car, I decided to take him to Columbus Humane. But they require you to make an appointment to surrender a pet, and charge more than I can afford right now.

So I changed plans. I found Marion Area Humane Society and headed there. I felt bad because it wasn’t cool out yesterday, and he had been in the carrier for over an hour at that point. But he seemed to be okay. We got to MAHS and I started to break down again. He had been part of the family for almost 15 years. They had space for him. As they processed his information and mine, I talked with one of the volunteers. She said that they get people looking for older cats sometimes. More importantly, she told me that they are a no-kill shelter! He is going to be taken care of for the rest of his life. I am completely fine with MAHS being his home for that time. They are going to take care of him. Last night I had to fight the urge to check on him behind the futon – where he had made his home. I miss him, but he’s going to be fine!

Remember, always take your pets to the vet. You never know what will happen to you. They may have to go to a shelter, and vet records are required by some before they will take your pet in.

Well, that went longer than I thought it would. I’ll just leave this here and get back to working on the paper and presentation I need to have ready for CPAC and my summer watchlist.

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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!

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.

Hella Healthy Habits

Since going from living on my own during the week and only being home with the hubby on weekends, I have had some struggles with my eating habits. When I was on my own, I was doing really well. Mostly because I only had enough food in the apartment to get me through the week. I didn’t keep much in the way of snacks around. I also was living on tea, with my utiliTEA right on my desk. It made making tea so much more convenient.

Moving back home changed things. There’s more food in the apartment because I’m not the only one buying food. I’m also making dinner for the two of us, not just me anymore. Which means I need to take his tastes into account. **I am not complaining at all. I love my hubby. It’s just going from living single to living together again.** There were plenty of times during the past school year when I would make chicken thighs for myself every night and not get tired of them. Not only does he prefer white meat, but he wants more variety in his main dishes, which is fine. I was also drinking less tea because it isn’t right in my face all the time anymore.

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Because my tea is all on it’s own table now! And as I type this I realize how much this has changed since I took the picture…

Basically, I had developed a set of habits while I was at school, but hadn’t brought them home with me. I was snacking out of boredom. I was drinking Pepsi (made with real sugar, delicious!) instead of tea or water. I was creating mounds of food on my plate for dinner and eating all of it, despite being full. I was eating a small meal when I got home from work so I wasn’t starving while waiting for hubby to get up for the day (he works third shift). I was eating candy and fast food at work.

But, over the semester I’ve noticed these problems and worked to change them. And I’m noticing the effects. I’ve been making a point of having at least one travel mug of tea for work each day. The caffeine wakes me up and helps me stay focused. Having something healthy to drink keeps me away from the pop in the break room. I’ve been working on snacking less at work. It’s better for my waistline and my wallet. I’ve also been making an effort to drink more tea at home as well. Both from my vast stores of tea and pre-made cold tea from the cooler at the grocery store. Yes, it’s not as healthy as drinking tea I’ve brewed, but it’s still better than drinking Pepsi.

I’ve also been changing up my eating habits. If I stop by a drive-thru for food, I am making healthier choices. I order only the amount of food I actually need – usually a sandwich and a drink, no fries – and it’s not a double cheeseburger with bacon every time. But, more importantly, I’ve been changing my eating habits at home. I’m keeping lots of healthy snack choices/meal components around to keep me from overdoing it. Like the bag of LÄRABAR Bites. That way when I want just a little chocolate – like last evening – I can have one or two, instead of going for the Snickers. I’ve got fruit cups and cheese crackers and cheese sticks. That way I can have one or two things to tide me over until dinner without being full once dinner’s ready.

I also noticed that I don’t necessarily need to go gluten free, but I need to be careful about how much bread I’m eating. I feel better overall when I’m not eating a ton of basic breads. Breads like pumpernickel and rye and sourdough are friendly breads. Multi-grain bread too. I’m also putting more thought into dinner. I’m trying to make things from scratch more often. I’m also allowing myself to be okay with leftovers. I put as much food as I want on my plate. I can always go back for a little more if I want, which is better than forcing myself to clean my plate.

Since being more mindful of what I am eating, how much I am eating, how I feel about what I am eating, I feel so much better! My clothing is fitting much better. My skin is clearer – both from acne and eczema. And, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or denying myself anything. I’m letting my body tell me what to eat and it is really appreciating it. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Eventually it’ll get through to your brain and you’ll feel so good!

Panic and Stress

My life is a mess right now. Or at least that’s how it feels. I’ve got a job that really doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m somehow making a paycheck stretch. I still don’t know if I’m graduating in December with my master’s degree, which means I don’t know if I’m going to still be in the Ph.D. program in the spring.

I’ve been watching Better Things on Hulu. It’s a great show. I just watched episode 5 where the oldest daughter is worrying about her future at age 16. Sam points out to her that even if you just have a job and get by, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to actually have your shit together to look like you have your shit together.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to hear that just finding a job that doesn’t drain the energy out of me on every level isn’t a bad thing. I needed to hear that I can still do what I want with my life without the degree to “back it up”. I can be an independent scholar and work at Barnes and Noble. I can write about Doctor Who and Bitch Planet and Hamilton without Ph.D. after my name. As much as I do want to teach, I don’t have to teach.

I feel so much better. I have been stressed and in a fog lately. I had a great weekend at the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (MPCA) Conference last weekend. But somehow, after getting back, this week has been a mess. But I feel so much better. Allowing myself to think that everything will be fine no matter what. I feel so much better.

Introvert in an Extroverted family

Yesterday I went to my cousin’s wedding. I had an absolute blast! There are a couple of reasons for it. But the main reason was a personal realization. My gut always says “It’s okay to sit or stand to the side and watch the fun!” My training always says “Why aren’t you out there with the rest of your family?!” I said that last night to my hubby early in the reception.

I am so glad I did. Saying it out loud helped me to realize that by observing, watching my family celebrating, I am participating in my own, comfortable way. It also helped that this was a much more informal reception where no tables were assigned and we never sat down. We found spaces that worked for us to stand and be out of the path of traffic, but still be a part of things. We sang along with the music. We even danced to a few songs.

It felt so good finally finding my place in a big party/celebration like that. It allowed me to be a part of things instead of trying to maintain my walls and worry about what people are saying because I’m not out there like everyone else. I came home just as, if not more, energized than when I arrived! No introvert hangover this morning!

This is really going to help me out at DragonCon this year. It’s another place where being an introvert can be draining. But if I just remember that I’m there for the same reason as everyone else – DragonCon – I’ll be just fine!

Boxing Bull$*!#

On Friday, I arrived home to find three packages waiting for me. One had The Hamilton Mixtape cassette, one had 3 bars of Native deodorant, one had a corset. I was pissed off. Let me show you why.

I am not exaggerating. The box on the left was used to ship a cassette tape. The box on the right:

Three full-sized bars of deodorant. They fit three bars of deodorant into that box while the other contained a bunch of air-filled packing materials and a cassette tape. When I ordered the tape, I figured it would arrive in something small that would fit inside the mailbox. I’m planning to e-mail them and point this out. There is no reason to use a box even a 1/4 that size to ship a cassette tape.

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but it’s the first time it’s been to such a drastic degree. I’m not going to stay quiet about it anymore. It’s a ridiculous waste of material and resources. I’m tired of it. I’m definitely not buying anything from Urban Outfitters until they change their shipping policies. I guess we’ll see if they listen to what I have to say. But Native is a company I will gladly keep supporting!

Going Native: Week 0

Now that I finally have my Native deodorant, I can start using it! The little card that came with the deodorant says to wear it daily and that it can take up to 14 days to get the “maximum effectiveness”. So I’m going to start checking in with the progress of this amazing new product!

Since it is a 3-pack, it gives me options. The lavender & rose and unscented are going to be going back to school with me. The coconut & vanilla is staying at home. I figure it’s one less thing to pack for my remaining trips back and forth. I like both of the scent combinations, but I like the lavender & rose a little bit more, and hubby likes the coconut & vanilla better. This way everyone’s happy! And they both smell amazing. The scents are balanced wonderfully and compliment each other. Hopefully I’ll be posting again next Saturday with glowing news. I’m really looking forward to using this product! I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to using a deodorant so much.

Again, I am not in any way associated with Native. I just really like their product and want to share it with all of you!