Day 18: The Old Job

I picked up a shift at my old job tonight – returning to my hospitality roots, so to speak. Currently standing here at the front desk of a little boutique hotel just outside of the French Quarter, bopping along to a live rendition of “We Got the Funk” being played across the street. Maybe the dancing will help work off the bagel I just ate when I lost all self control and broke into the continental breakfast supplies.

It was a pretty good bagel, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Have I mentioned how much I adore bagels? They’re up there with New England clam chowder on my most desired foods list. When I went to NYC for the first time a few years back, I spent a month obsessively researching bagel joints to make sure that I’d get to try everything worth trying in my short trip. Spoiler alert: I did not even make a dent in my “must try” bagel list during my trip. I love bagels. As in, why did anyone ever bother inventing sliced bread? I think I’m just going to say “the best thing since bagels” from now on.

Anyway, it’s Day 18, and everything’s OK. Didn’t get to hit the gym today, so looking forward to doing that tomorrow. Haven’t had a true binge since I started the blog, so I’m feeling pretty good about that. And it put me in such a wonderful mood to get here to this job this afternoon (after leaving my other job) and feel so welcomed and loved. I really enjoy working the front desk here. So many opportunities to be kind to people, and to really help improve lives in tiny ways. It’s days like this that I remember that I got into hospitality so that I could learn, learn, learn and run my own little albergue one day.

Today’s Weight: 190.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: Standing here at the front desk has to have gotten me somewhere, right? My feet are killing me!

Day 17: Graydreaming

You might not know this about me, but I’m terribly prone to flights of fancy. I spend a great deal of my time in fantasy, either retelling stories of my past, imagining possible stories of my future, or just plain writing fiction that has nothing to do with anyone I know. It’s an escape mechanism, and though fun, is not especially helpful in allowing me to cope with my day-to-day, when I encounter it. The key to mindfulness is endeavoring to be completely present in the moment at hand, and I have spent a lifetime endeavoring to not be present at all if possible. It’s a sharp contrast, and a bitter one at times.

The anxiety that I was suffering all weekend dissipated on Sunday afternoon, and I was briefly fine, mentally. But by last night, I felt myself sliding back into depression. I have hovered on the verge of tears since then. I cried myself to sleep last night, after telling myself a story about why I was so sad (a story that might or might not be true – how can I even tell anymore what’s reality and fantasy in my world?) Now I’m eating wasabi peas for dinner, and wishing that I could write the story I feel inside me, fluttering to get out. But I am not in the writing space. Not the fiction writing space, anyway. Assuming that this, by contrast, happens to be nonfiction.

If nothing is real, how can anything I write be truth?

Guess we just have to go on blind faith that certain things are more real than others. And in the meantime, while we wait around to become just another story that someone tells their children (or in my case, barely a blip on the memory map, as I intend to create no progeny), we find things to cling to. For me, it’s beating this binge eating thing, and going hiking a few more times. Today my hip hurts, and it terrifies me for no reason. It’s just a strain. It will be better if I stay off of it.

But I am reminded that I don’t have anyone to hike with. I have no one to fight for. I am always the one to fight, to persist, to march on, but no one follows my banner. No one fights with me in mind. I am lonely today. I’m too focused on the present, and the present is gray and fuzzy.

Today’s Weight: 191.8 Lbs.

Day 16: Paleo Curry Dill Chicken Salad

I had grand plans for today’s blog, but the evening moved on too quickly, and now I’m tuckered out. So instead of talking about deep, important matters, I’ll give you a recipe for a week’s worth of my go-to chicken salad recipe. No photos, since the kitchen is a complete mess. Maybe I’ll add some at a later date. (Don’t hold your breath.)

This is a very simple recipe that I improvised based on a trail meal our guide whipped up one day on my backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon last November. I replaced his precooked chicken-in-a-packet with fresh rotisserie chicken, and added some celery, since it just doesn’t feel like chicken salad without crunchy celery in each bite. The best thing about this salad is that it takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together, and one batch can feed a person at least five or six hearty meals. I serve it on a baked sweet potato, but it’s great with avocado or served on fresh greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken (Pick this up pre-made at the grocery store. My local Rouse’s sells them for $5.99, which is far less than it costs to buy and cook my own from any store in walking distance.)*
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries*
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 – 1.5 cups mayonnaise (This depends entirely on how much chicken ended up coming off of the bone, as well as your preferred consistency. I like to stretch the ingredients a bit, so I err on the side of more, rather than less.)*
  • 1 tbsp creole mustard
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground dill
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

The most time-consuming thing about this whole process is the first step: strip all of the chicken meat off of the bones. I tend to refrigerate the chicken overnight, and do this part when it’s already cold. I also like to save the skin and add it to the mix, as well, but I find that people either love chicken skin or hate it. Do as you please. The most important thing is to be very careful to strip out any and all bones, so you don’t kill anyone (like yourself) with your delicious chicken salad.

After you’ve separated out all of the meat, chop it up and put it in a big bowl (Make sure to choose a container that’s large enough to mix this whole mess up in just a bit – you don’t want mayo and chicken all over your kitchen because you were too lazy to wash the correctly sized bowl. Who do you think you are, me?)

Chop up the celery, cranberries, and walnuts. I like to rough chop the celery, and chop the cranberries and walnuts to be a bit more fine. You might like to keep similar consistencies throughout the dish – experiment and do what suits you best. Baby, you’re a star!

Throw the resulting bits into the bowl with the chicken. Add the mayo, mustard, dill, curry, cayenne (if you’re going spicy), and salt & pepper.

Mix it! Taste it! Make your own damn decisions! You need more mayo? Add that shit! Want more kick? Dash in some more cayenne! Suddenly remember you hate dill? That sounds like a personal problem to me. 🙂

Enjoy!

*Note: If you’re paleo or sticking to the Whole30 diet, please make sure to research the items you’re buying and make sure there’s no added sugar or questionable preservatives in the chicken or cranberries. Additionally, you can find Whole30 compliant mayo commercially, but it’s difficult. If you’re being strict, here’s an easy Whole30 mayo recipe that tastes fabulous.

Today’s Weight: 193.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 17k steps, including running a mile straight (woot!), 15 minutes on the elliptical, and the Paleo Run workout on 8Fit.

Today’s Interactions: Called my cousin Amy, chatted with Theo at the gym, shared a video of my cat playing fetch with a coworker, and got invited to a concert with another coworker.

Day 15

Anxiety is gripping every word, plucking them back before I can force them out. It was a hard day. I don’t have…whatever it is, the word that I’m looking for. I don’t have it. Not going to force a post when I could barely force myself out of bed.

I did walk to the gym and sit in the sauna with my friend Theo, then went grocery shopping and bought all healthy stuff. I ate a sensible breakfast of scrambled eggs/spinach/mushrooms/salsa, but after a similarly sensible dinner of salad and roasted turkey, I got carried away and ate an entire pineapple (the mysterious pineapple that I found the other night).

I have to go to the doctor tomorrow. The appointment is for 7:20 in the morning, which means I need to take an Uber to get there. I wanted to take the bus, but I don’t have any change, and you can’t buy a transit card with a credit card on the bus, and I forgot to go to Walgreen’s to buy one, so now I can either walk or Uber, and walking would take an hour and a half, but Ubering is going to cost me money I don’t have, so either one is the wrong choice. I should cancel the appointment and reschedule, but then how am I going to get my anxiety meds refilled? But who’s to say that this doctor would refill them, and wouldn’t just make me make another appointment with a different doctor? At which point I’m back to worrying about how expensive it is to get to the doctor’s office, and if I’ll even have that kind of money on hand…omfg, this can’t continue. I can’t live like this, my mind just cycling. But I don’t have any money to tip my Uber driver, either, so I’m going to spend $10 each way to get an Uber to the doctor, but then I won’t be able to tip the driver, and that’s something only a total asshole would do. I guess I could call a cab, instead, so I could tip from my card, but then it’s going to be like twice as expensive.

I’m going to bed. Let’s let 6am Anna worry about this. No use in making 9:30pm Anna any more agitated. Maybe I’ll set the alarm for 5am, and decide then if I’d rather walk it. Even if I only walk half of the way, it will still be a lot cheaper to Uber. I need a car. But then I’d just stress out about car payments and gas and upkeep, so what’s the point.

 

Day 14: In Which Anxiety Rears Its Ugly Head

Things are not OK in Anna-land today. There’s nothing specifically wrong, exactly, but I am freaking out. My thoughts are scattered, I am shaky and just the slightest bit dizzy, and I am having a lot of trouble just typing these thoughts in a way that reads somewhat well. I’ve been working on this paragraph for going on a half an hour now. Hello, anxiety.

Last night, my old coworker mentioned that he’s going to be moving out of his rent-controlled apartment in a month, and asked if I’d like to consider renting it. He has an “in” with management, and thinks he could get me to the top of the applicant list. My other old coworker also lives in the building, so it would end up being a pretty fun arrangement.

But while I should have been over-the-moon, my initial reaction was closer to dismay (though it makes so little sense). The new apartment is $650/month (!!!), 750 square feet with a large bedroom and bathroom, has central air/heat, a dishwasher, a washer & dryer, and is in a condo building that’s well-maintained. My current apartment is $750 a month, 425 square feet, has a window unit that blows moldy air directly onto my face at night, no water pressure in the kitchen sink (and no dishwasher), and no washer & dryer. I’m currently so broke that I hand wash all of my clothes in the tub and drape them over the balcony outside my door to dry. Cat hair is clinging to everything. No matter how much I sweep and vacuum and scrub, there’s always a fine dust of cat litter over all surfaces because the place is way too small for two litter boxes and three grown cats.

There should be no contest. I should be scrambling to secure my place in the cheaper apartment. But instead I’m frightened. Yeah, my current place is too small and has no amenities, but I love my neighborhood, and had harbored a desire to move further into the Bywater, to be with artists and freaks like me. But the new place is in the Warehouse District, which is pretty much as bougie as this town gets. It’s Uggs and pumpkin spice latte all the way down. And yes, not everyone is that, and yes, I’m not all that cool, myself, but will it be possible to make the ever-so-colorful mental and physical versions of myself sync up if I go back to live in the monochrome world I left behind when I moved to my neighborhood three years ago? For that matter, was it ever going to happen? Should I just give up and find a pair of Uggs? Ack.

I also started my current relationship around the same time that I moved into my current place, and we’re not exactly on solid ground right now, so I’m probably scared that giving up my apartment will simultaneously put the finishing touches on our relationship. There’s also the fact that moving back to the Warehouse District is going back to the place where the death knell of my old relationship occurred, and I’m probably nervous about dredging up old memories (especially after the other night). Plus, it’s about a mile closer to my work, so what if I end up getting less exercise each day as a result of the move? (Yes, I can counter all of these thoughts with realistic solutions, but this is just what’s happening in my head currently.)

The only real “con” of the argument would be the neighborhood/leaving my current neighbors. But the “plus” side would include all of the aforementioned amenities, a built-in cat sitter (since I’d have a friend in the same building), more room for the cats to live and play, cheaper rent and utilities, much closer to the vet and the grocery store, and a cleaner, more polished appearance and lifestyle, since having a washer and dryer would revolutionize the way I care for my house and my clothes. I could potentially be more successful in my career just by having an improved appearance, and the money saved each month would help get me closer to paying off my debts, which could lead to better overall quality of life.

Plus, to live in this building at a reduced rate, I’d have to make an artist’s statement and dedicate more of my time to actually achieving my artistic pursuits, so it would force me to work on my writing. And if the boyfriend and I work out, it could be a more inviting place for him to come over, since there will be more room for us both. For that matter, it will be large enough that I can actually have friends over to play cards or watch a movie, which is not a possibility here.

I guess I must have slept on the decision process and freaked myself out in my dreams, because I woke up anxious, and my thoughts have become a louder, jangling discord as the day has gone on. I tried to talk it through with my boyfriend, which was helpful in a way, but also made me feel more anxious and out of it. And now I am feeling an intense urge to eat to make it stop. I want to go to the grocery store, buy soup, sushi, a chai, a bag of marshmallows, gelato, and a bottle of wine, and see if packing those in will help drown out the thoughts. (Obviously, this will not happening. I’m trying not to make any food decisions at all until I can get my shit reined in.)

I wish I could explain why moving to another neighborhood feels like such a huge negative in the face of all of these positives, but it’s entirely based in my emotional brain, rather than my rational brain. It feels like giving up and retreating. It’s a literal physical representation of where I don’t want my life to go – living a cookie-cutter life in a cookie-cutter neighborhood full of cookie-cutter people. My rational side says that I don’t REALLY know this to be true, but my anxious brain is insistent on it. Side note: I am clenching my teeth, tapping my feet, and chewing on my cheeks as I write this.

Man, this is Saturday. Don’t most people have lives and go do things with their friends on Saturday? OK, that’s it. I’m wrapping this up and finding a craft project to work on to get my mind off of things. And I’m ordering Chinese food for one via Postmates. So there.

Today’s Weight: 191.6 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: Existential Terror

Day 13: …

It was our Ops Manager’s last day before moving on to a cushy sales position, and the office flowed with snacks all day today in celebration of his promotion. There were doughnuts at breakfast, and I was able to avoid the box until they were gone. But then lunchtime rolled around, and they brought out the chicken wings and fried rice, and all bets were off. I ate a piece of cake, and drank a can of coke, too. Oh well, I was planning a gym visit for the afternoon, anyway.

At the gym, I was proud to up my running time a little bit. I’ve been doing 35 minutes on the treadmill, alternating five minutes of walking with five minutes of running. Today I felt a little bored after my first five minutes of walking, so I cut down my walking time to four minutes the next round, then three minutes, and then sprinted the last minute, too. It felt great, though my hip has been hurting since last week, so I really need to take care not to stress it out, even when it feels so good to be running again.

After the gym, I got a text that my old coworkers were having drinks in my neighborhood, so I went out to meet them for a second, and ended up staying for a couple of hours. They offered me a drink, but I had a club soda. It was a nice chat, and I really liked the little bar patio where we were perched up, talking. When they went home, I walked over to the grocery store to get a piece of pizza, then talked myself into a package of smoked salmon, instead. It’s one of my favorite “treats” and so much healthier than a big slice of bread with cheese and tomato sauce slathered all over it.

Man, this is the most boring post ever. I am just flat out exhausted. It’s almost midnight, and I’m yearning to be in bed. Very proud of my actions today, overall, though. I’m also happy that I woke up in the 180’s this morning. I can’t tell you the last time that I weighed less than 190 lbs, but I do know that it was not in the recent past. And for that, I’m going to bed without doing dishes. Woohoo, I’m wild and crazy!

Today’s Weight: 189.8 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 18,782 steps (including a 30-minute treadmill run/walk), 10 minutes of rowing, a 10-minute tabata routine via 8Fit, and some TRX stretching/foam rolling

Today’s Interactions: A 2-hour gym/gab session with Theo, and another 2 hours at the bar with Loc and Vic, talking about all kinds of stuff that would typically make me anxious and possibly trigger a binge – marketing, social media, money, politics. I stayed pretty cool, though, and really enjoyed hanging out outside my apartment, and for free!

Day 12: Running On Empty

Today was insanely long, so I’m going to keep this short. I am tired, and tomorrow afternoon can’t possibly come fast enough. I ate some terrible things today, but I didn’t binge, and I did use mindfulness to regulate my behavior and rein myself in, when I had the opportunity to really go off the rails. That being said, I hit an emotional low tonight that felt truly terrible, and I’m not in the mood to have that happen again, like, ever.

Without going into heavy specifics, I had a lot going on at work, and hit the ground running as soon as I got in at 8am. I didn’t bring food with me to work, and the first thing I ate this morning was a couple of praline squares, so I started the day with a dose of sugar. Then the bistro ran out of bacon and eggs before I could grab breakfast, so I didn’t get my customary protein (and I’d neglected to bring any backup boiled eggs, so nothing there, either). I didn’t get to slow down until 12:45, when I was required to go to this work luncheon, where it turned out that every dish had sugar in it. The base ingredients of everything I ate were fine – pork loin, greens, sweet potato – but everything came with added sweetener. By 3pm I was crashing.

Then, at 5:15 I had the choice of walking to this post-work networking event, or of taking the bus. It was almost 3 miles away, so I decided to save time by taking the bus, but the bus ended up being an hour late. I was steaming mad by the time the bus came, and managed to rein it in once I got to the networking thing, but once there, I drank two beers. I did the networking, then dipped out as soon as it seemed socially acceptable to do so, and started the walk home. At first I was OK, but then I started to get weepy and sad, and grew increasingly more despondent as I walked home through a neighborhood I used to live in about ten years back. I cried all the way back to Canal Street, and honestly would have continued crying had one of my best friends not called to talk, and snapped me out of it.

Though the emotions I was experiencing were based in some reality – a sense of loneliness, melancholy at time passing, and regret at not being more by this stage in my life – in general they were a result of eating absolute crap all day, starting my day off on the wrong base (too much sugar and caffeine, not enough whole foods and protein), being at work for far too long of a stretch, being uncomfortable in the networking situation and pushing myself to be friendly and approachable, and drinking a sizable dose of depressants on an empty stomach. I mean, of course you’re going to feel like crap and start having a temper tantrum – you need a nap and a healthy meal, lady!

So now I’m home. I had a great talk with my best friend/college roommate Trin, and gave her the skinny (ha) on my binge eating and recovery efforts, and what’s been going on in my head as of late.

I also found a pineapple on the sidewalk on my way home. Isn’t that weird? A perfectly nice pineapple, just sitting there, waiting for me. I hope it doesn’t end up morphing into its true shape as a Decepticon once I go to bed. I wish the Transformers were all vegetables, and the Decepticons were fruit. Yup, this is all that’s left of my poor, poor fried brain. It’s time to go to bed and start afresh tomorrow.

Today’s Weight: 190.8 Lbs.

Today’s Exercise: 20,031 steps, and enough emotional acrobatics to give Cirque du Soleil a run for their money.