Blast From The Past: The Good, The Bad, The Familiar

Today’s Happy Note: I just scored myself an entire set of Encyclopedia Brittanica encyclopedias.  All A-Z of them.  1957 Edition.  For free.

Let me explain.  The apartment I live in is sort of a relative’s.  Sort of.  This relative has had the apartment in her family for over 60 years.  Her father died last year at 90-something.  He saved everything.  Everything.  This place is a veritable museum.  War rations from WWII?  Check.  1950’s GI Joe toys?  Check.   Yearbooks from various high school’s in Manhattan that no longer exist?  Check.

Entire set of unused encyclopedias?  Check and check.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am aware of this thing they call the Internets.  And I like the Internets a lot.  I really do.  But books have a certain irreplaceable value. I find them soft and cuddly and fun and enlightening.  Especially old books.  I like all historical artifacts, but books are my favorite. I enjoy physically holding a tiny — but important — piece of history.  Important words.  Good thing I work in a library full of old books.

I have no idea where I am storing this set of encyclopedias when I move out but I do know that they are mine.  All mine.  I don’t care if not a single other person born after 1970 has a set of encyclopedias.  Old books are comforting.  Old books cannot hurt me.

What can hurt me?  The present.

Namely, this morning’s spin class.  I met up with Missy at a gym downtown (who knew the express trains ran so fast early in the morning???).  I have only done spin once or twice before and found it incredibly hard.  Today was the same way.  I always think my legs are strong from running, but I find biking especially exhausting.  Maybe it’s a different muscle group.  The funny thing is, it doesn’t make a difference how many times I ride a bike — it’s exhausting every time!  My thighs, quads, and hamstrings just feel drained.  Does spin just take a really long time to get used to, even for someone who is really fit?

Sometimes I do feel seriously hurt by living in the present.  I know it’s good for me, but at the end of the day, if I can escape with a good book or a historical artifact, I will be a very happy girl.  The important thing for me is not to live in the past.  And for the most part, I have a pretty good balance going on.

For example, with food: I try new things sometimes, but the base of my diet follows a clear and distinct pattern based off of what has worked in the past.  This is one of those things that “ain’t broke.”  I don’t rely on familiar foods in a disordered way, I rely on them because I enjoy them and they make me feel good.  What’s not to love?

Lunch: Mixed greens tossed in lemon pepper and EVOO topped with asparagus, broccoli, and salmon burger.

Other things I actively work to change, too.  While I see nothing wrong with my adoration of, say, nineteenth century newspapers, I do actively have to work to change my social life.  There have been periods in the last few years where I have isolated myself from others because I thought that was what “worked” — what made me happy, healthy, and functional.  But you know what?  Being alone all the time does none of those things.  It lowers my self-esteem and makes me think no one wants to play with me.  Over the last few days I’ve spent a lot of time with friends.  Which means I spent a lot of time smiling, laughing, having fun, and chatting about, well, everything.

SIABs work.  Running works.  Dark chocolate works.  Running around in the pouring rain wearing paper-thin flip-flops and sans umbrella?  Doesn’t work.  Writing as an emotional outlet?  Excellent.  Other artistic endeavors?  Not so much.

It’s hard to know when we are limiting ourselves by restricting our pursuits and passions and relationships based on the past.  I think it’s important to continually integrate and try new things.  Like spinning.  Or chocolate coconut topped peanut butter brownies.

New things I want to try this summer: knitting, real outdoor rock climbing, momofuku, getting a mani-pedi, and dating.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tackle that list.  Right after I prepare the exact same lunch I had today for tomorrow. 🙂

Happy Sleep, Happy Eats, Happy Self

Today’s Happy Note: I just saw the cutest commercial ever.  It was for chiquita bananas and showed a little baby banana traveling to our stores….adorable.

Seeing commercials for things like bananas makes me happy!  Better advertisements for bananas than Lucky Charms and Double Stuf Oreos.

Speaking of produce. Go read this article.  It talks about organic vs. non-organic produce in terms of pesticide contamination.  Holy wow!  Many common produce items contain 47-67 pesticides!  Egads.  I think the best option is local; I get as much produce from the farmer’s market as possible.  After that, I get organic when affordable.  Some organics are priced similarly to conventionals, while others are a bit outrageous (like grapes).  One of the scary things about this article was that it put forward the idea that some pesticides can’t even be scrubbed off of produce — the chemicals actually seep into the entire plant.  Yuck.  As a student constantly on a budget, this is something I worry about.  Do you worry about this? Maybe it’s not worth the worrying.  I do the best  I can.

No workout today!  I read a post on Fitnessista the other day where she mentioned she woke up tired and skipped a morning workout.  So simple (and obvious –duh Caronae) but so brilliant!  I often drag myself out of bed in the morning to get a workout in before the rest of the day takes over.  Today I opted for the sleep.

Early morning wokrout pros:

  • It’s over and done with
  • Energizes me for the rest of my day
  • Cool outside, not too humid
  • Leaves time in the evening to relax
  • I can’t put it off

Late afternoon/evening workout pros:

  • Sleeping in a bit
  • Leisurely breakfast/morning
  • Less likely to be late for work
  • Makes me tired for bed

In my mind, morning workouts work better for me.  The only problem is that I need an inordinate amount of sleep.  It’s taken me a while to come to terms with this.  I’m not one of these 6-7 hours a night people.  I need 8-9 hours if I am going to be functional and energetic during my day.  I’ve been doing well going to bed early, but sometimes I want to be out with my friends.  I think this is something I’ll have to play by ear; some mornings are going to be more inviting than others.

Lots of happy eats today!

Dinner: exactly what I was craving.  Vanilla Almond Butter and raspberry jam with a side of apple slices.  Disordered eating fact: I have a secret fear of eating fruit (as opposed to vegetables) with dinner.  Fruit has more calories and more sugar, obviously, but it is also perfectly good for you.  And I had plenty of veggies with lunch.  Tonight I was really craving an apple so I went for it!  Perfect little side dish.

Notice the little G&B?  Green and Black’s 70% is my go-to dark chocolate.  Never fails.  Creamy but also deeply chocolaty.

Mental Health Note: No therapy this week (L on vacation)!  Makes me a little nervous.  I’ll probably do some journaling tonight, maybe a little bit of stream of consciousness type of stuff.  I need to at least get some thoughts out; sometimes in therapy I just spew and spew and spew.  I’ll miss L’s insights and kindnesses this week.  But that just means I’ll have to come up with my own!  Here’s to being kind to myself!

Super Saturday Adventures: Swim Sandwich And Seafood Throwdown

Today’s Happy Note: Watching a TV show about giant river fish right now!  I love fish.  Fascinating creatures!  Other animal loves: all birds (especially cardinals), elephants, unicorns, and dinosaurs.  Which are so totally real.

Mental Health Note #1: It’s been a spectacular, head-clearing Saturday!  I love that about summer: Saturday is time for me to do what I want, to be free all day from work and school.  Sometimes I spend it with friends.  Other times I’m content by myself.  I like to do things that I want to do; things that will make me happy; try new things.   Saturday — and all the fun opportunity it holds — is not something that I will ever let depression take away from me!

The morning began with an awesome, “new”  workout.  New in the sense that, while I have done plenty of running and swimming, I’ve never done a real “brick” workout.  Actually, I like to call this a sandwich workout: I wanted to do a long(ish) run and I also wanted to swim (it was terribly hot).  I planned out a fun route to an NYSC with a pool.  I ran 6 miles there (the gym is 4 miles away but I threw in extra bits), swam for 30 minutes, then ran the 4 miles back.  I actually ran the way there wearing my swimsuit under my shirt and shorts.  I carried a small running backpack with my cap, googles, emergency cash, phone, keys, and clean undergarments in it.  It was easy peasy to hop in the pool when I arrived, and I just dried off with the towels there afterwards, put my clothes back on and headed back out the door.  There you have it.  A Run-Swim-Run Sandwich.

After speed showering and inhaling a mango-vanilla-peach smoothie, it was time for an Adventure!  In case you didn’t read yesterday’s post, I have changed Adventure Fridays to Adventure Saturdays for timing purposes.

The Adventure involved the Union Square Greenmarket.  And food.  And cooking:  A Seafood Throwdown! Sounds random, but it also sounded fun and I’m so glad I went.  CENYC and NAMA put together a competition between chefs from Colors and artists from SPURSE (a very random, very strange, spacey arts collective).  The goal of the event was to promote sustainable, local, aware seafood consumption.  We often fret about where our tomatoes come from, but we don’t know so much about our seafood.  The event was literally a throwdown style format — like Bobby Flay, just less formal.  There were even food network judges (although I had NO idea who they were — anyone recognize them from the pictures???).

The Secret Seafood is…Black Sea Bass!

Above right: a seafood paella and sea bass ceviche with strawberry-cucumber salsa from Colors.

Okay, so I’m not showing you all the dishes from the SPURSE team because…well, some of them were a little kooky.  I’m all for holistic living, but these people were a little much.  The guy who talked about them struck me as straight up crazy.  No other way to put it.  He said things like “we try to incorporate the idea of the air and the sea and where they meet into our idea of cooking…and it’s not cooking it’s art.”  They believed in using the entire fish in their cooking.  In theory, I agree with this.  In practice, I don’t: they made a soup out of blood and a stew out of mushrooms and the fish’s tongues, cheeks, and eyes…yeah.  I just wasn’t into it.  I must say, however, that their simpler dishes — like poached sea bass with roasted potatoes and ceviche with fresh sweet peas — seemed great.

Judges judging.  And the winner is….

Okay, so I don’t actually know.  I was near the front and getting really tired from standing in the sun and wanted others to see, so I left to do my greenmarket shopping.  I looked on the website but it didn’t say the winner.  My vote would go to Colors for simplicity, elegance, presentation, and some degree of normalcy.  If this were based entirely on creativity, on the other hand, I might be rooting for SPURSE.

It was really fun to watch the chefs collect local ingredients from the farmers, prepare and cook their dishes, and present and explain them. It was just a fun — if ridiculously hot — event.  It made me feel like I was on food network or something!

The day didn’t end there though; I would have liked to just relax, but had to do some work stuff (GRRRRR MTA bus system) that took forever.  And I meant to do laundry but didn’t.  Crap.

There were loads of fun eats to keep me going through such a busy day!  I was in and out constantly from 8 to 6!  I probably walked another 3 or 4 miles in addition to the workout described above…

Fueled myself with good eats of course!

Greenmarket nibbles!

Plenty of cereal with pb and chocolate (my favorite post-long run snack!).

I knew I wanted loads of veg and some solid protein for dinner.  But for some reason, this just made me feel sick.  Sometimes when I have a lot of veggie servings at once, this happens.  Also, it’s just so hot.  Even warm food wasn’t a good idea.  I’ve been having smoothies for dinner every night for a reason, apparently.

Mental Health Note #2: Adventures are good for me.  Good for all of me.   They make me happy and give me something to focus on and look forward to — sometimes, depression makes me retreat inward.  This tends to make things worse.  Going out and seeing new people and fun things and just exploring the world takes me outside of myself for a little while.  Yes, I come home in the evening and still feel a bit lonely.  Sometimes I long to meet someone on an Adventure.  Like my soul mate might also be having an Adventure too.  But my time will come.  I know that.  For now, I just need to make myself happy.  That’s all I can really do!

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