The Ongoing Adventures of Naked Girl

The story of my quest to look good naked -- really good.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Book Challenge

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Carl has a Spring fantasy reading challenge that I have decided to join since I have so many unread books, I thought this would be a good kick in the butt to get me reading. After much debate, I have decided to start with the following books:

A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore (finished)
The Good, The Bad and The Undead, Kim Harrison (in progress)
Tithe, Holly Black
Time and Again, Jack Finney (re-read)
The Rebellion of the Beasts, Leigh Hunt
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
The Mirror of Her Dreams, Stephen Donaldson
The Princess Bride, William Goldman (re-read)

That's the first round. If I finish, I'd like to add:

Valiant, Holly Black
A Man Rides Through, Stephen Donaldson (sequel)
Eragon, Christopher Paolini
Eldest, Christopher Paolini

Of course, to finish the challenge, I will read A Midsummer Night's Dream.

That will keep me busy for a bit. By the time I get done with this, I should be ready for my summer reading list!

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Feels A Lot Like Summer!

We broke a temp record yesterday here in Minneapolis - 83 degrees! It was wonderful. Don and I spend some time out on the deck. We have a busy schedule today - hike with the dogs, gym, yoga, Wild hockey game. I just love vacation! It's not scheduled to be as warm today - more like the mid-60s, which is typical for March here. It's hard to believe when I woke up this morning it was 43 - a 40 degree drop in just a few hours. I hope my friends to the east of Minneapolis are enjoying the fine weather!

Besides doing some reading, I also got my teeth cleaned and had a partial yearly exam. I still have to go in for my pap, but that's a few months off. I also saw my psych and we decided I need to go back to my PCP to discuss the depression/anxiety to see if there is a medical (e.g., drugs) remedy I can use to get me through this stage. She's also retesting my thyroid to see if my levels are off which may be causing my sweatiness (yeah, TMI, I know).

Don and I are meeting with our financial planner tomorrow and we have some good ideas for how we are going to deal with debt, savings and budgets. Thanks to Jen, I also found a lot of
helpful tools at Oprah's Debt Diet. I will be playing around with some of the downloads today.

I did a good portion of the spring cleaning over the weekend - all of the upstairs is done with the exception of laundering the guest bathroom towels. Don vacuumed the downstairs and swept the garage and basement. I need to tackle the laundry room, clean the stove and fridge. One of the best parts of going from winter to spring is changing the flannel sheets for cool, cotton ones. I love sleeping in fresh, crisp sheets and the windows open (even if it did get into the 40s last night!).

Off to take the frisky pups (actually they are lying on the grass in the sun) on our lake hike. When we took them on Saturday, the part of the lake shore we let the dogs romp around was still frozen, but I think after yesterday's "heat wave" we might have some more meltage so the dogs can wade a little bit.

In case I haven't said it, I love vacation!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

3:30 AM Ramblings and Such

So, I can't sleep. I have been up since at least 1:00 AM, and downstairs since 2:30, doing dishes, making lunch for tomorrow today, catching up on blogs.

Depression is a funny (no pun intended) thing. It can manifest itself in many ways. For me, it can mean uncontrollable sobbing (very unlike me), lashing out in anger, withdrawing, insomnia. I like to be in control, so to "lose it" is very telling. The more I try to keep things in, the more likely they are to slip out in bad ways. Part of me feels the safest place for me is in the back corner of a dark closet where no one can find me. And maybe, if I stay there long enough, the bad will have passed me by. I have way too many responsibilities to hide, although the thought is mighty tempting.

My mind is spinning over possible solutions to our immediate debt problem. Of course, that only means consolidating the debt and not really getting rid of it (yeah, we didn't win the lotto this weekend). Of course, managing one or two large payments seems easier than managing several smaller payments, but I don't know if that ultimately solves our (my) problems.

Yes, I say my problems, since I am the one with not a budgeting bone in her body. I am the one who "needs" the monthly mani/pedis, hair coloring, latest books (even though I have about 50 unread books in my guest room), cute clothes (hey, do you know I'm in a size 8-10 now??), yoga classes, wine clubs, etc., etc., etc. Don's only vice is taking me out, where I end up giving the dogs 2/3 of my meal because "I don't do leftovers." So we can spend $100 for a meal out, and it really should only cost half that if I stuck with splitting his meal or ordering an appetizer portion. So, yeah, this hole we've dug - mostly my fault.

And that's hard to write. I mean, Don will come back with, "We're a couple, this is our problem," but I have this fear that he does, deep inside blame me. I mean, I do most of the spending - whether on groceries or crap. I don't take him to Target (aka the $100 store) so he can rein me in, as in, "Why do you need to supply $30 worth of candy to your office? (unsaid implications - "When you don't need/can't have the candy anyway?")."

Yes, I should have been more open and honest about our financial situation, but when I really started down the whole dark path to depression last fall, I wasn't thinking about the money. I just wanted to get the bills paid (somewhat) on time, even if that did mean robbing Peter to pay Paul down the road. I don't think I even knew how serious it was (reason number one not to let a depressed person manage most of the finances) until this month. I am kicking myself knowing if I had been even a smidgen aware of what was going on back then, it could have saved us 5 months of this crap.

There are options. It's amazing how many financial institutions want to extend us credit of some sort. It will still mean making some hard decisions, and giving up things that I kind of took as "rights" - 3x a week latte, eating out 2x a week, buying lunch instead of packing it because I was rushed in the morning, pre-made protein shakes, new clothes instead of considering Goodwill or consignment stores, gym membership (especially if I opt to find a second job), etc.

I'd love to keep things mostly status quo, but that isn't going to solve the problem. The good news is I have next week off, and I can focus on a lot of the details of getting something in place ASAP. I am also meeting with my PCP and can discuss a better solution to the depression/anxiety issue than wine and Tylenol PM.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Trying To Keep It Together

Sorry for the lack of posts, but life & work is kicking my butt right now, and I'm just trying to keep my head above water.

First the good news - my eating and weight seem to have stabilized. The more I see my weight staying the same, the less I am stressed about eating the right foods. I'm getting pretty consistent about eating 3 meals and 2 snacks. I am getting 80+ ounces of water in per day. I am doing pretty good at getting 2-3 servings of fruit and veggies in every day. I've expanded my foods to include things like sesame-encrusted tuna steaks, cornbread stuffed pork loin with dried cherry sauce, blue cheese grilled ribeye, Asian glazed salmon. Tonight, I'm making one of my signature dishes - spinach, mushroom, blue cheese stuffed chicken breasts with mushroom risotto and steamed broccoli. Yum. I think one of the keys for me is variety - not just with ingredients but with tastes and texture as well. I am holding steady at between 164 and 167 and I am comfortable with that. One of the big wins is that I am weighing 2-3 times a week instead of every day.

Work is really hopping now. I have a lot of projects going on, a lot of deadlines, emergencies popping up left and right. As my personal life spirals out of control, I am finding it harder and harder to keep my head in the game at work. Next week will be a bit of a break as I will be getting certified in teaching a customer service class which will be a huge initiative for our group in 2007. It's a pretty big thing, since I'm not in the training department and it will mean a week away from my own job, but it's a growth opportunity for me, and I'm pretty excited about it.

On the personal front, I am still coming to grips with the depression and anxiety hovering over me like my own personal black cloud. I found one of the key root causes - the huge amount of debt we're facing. I have been juggling bills monthly, and it's starting to collapse to the point where we need to make some decisions about what is and is not important - gym memberships, pedicures/manicures, hair appointments, lawn care, house cleaners. One of the big revenue generators will be downsizing, but that's not something that will be accomplished overnight. Plus, you need to spend money to get the house ready, keep the house clean, etc. The worrying about money is causing some tough emotional issues for me as well as how they manifest physically - tension, stomach problems, general feeling of malaise. Now that it's out in the open between me and Don, it will be easier to work out some solutions. The good news is that we're getting money back from our taxes - not a lot - but enough to help out some.

Anyway, therapy and having Don as my rock is helping. Also, the two dogs keep me very engaged when I'm at home. I mean, they don't understand depression and how can one remain depressed when one has puppy kisses and tail wags?

Off to work on dinner. It's pretty easy, but it takes a lot of prep work with dicing, stuffing and breading. The end result is mighty tasty, though.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Springing Forward

I'm back safely from Las Vegas - no worse for wear, and only down about $60.00. The conference was great - some good information, great networking, and just a nice time to be away from real work. Of course, Las Vegas is hardly my kind of town and there was a lot of eye-opening scenes. I mean, who is still gambling at 6:00 AM? I would go down for my coffee, and there were people gambling, drinking, smoking. Sensory overload, that's for sure.

I had a great dinner with my brother, his wife and my friend on Saturday at Bradley Ogden. The tab was $750+, but Gavin got it comped so we just chipped in for the tip. I met him on Sunday and we had dinner at his place so I could see my nephews and meet their new dog, Angel. That was great - Brant & Evan put on a "concert" for me and Angel fell in love with me...

The funny thing was that both my best friend and my brother didn't recognize me at all. That was a weird thing - approaching them and they totally didn't know who I was. I am still working on seeing myself as others might see me, and it's not always easy.

Anyway, signs of spring are starting to show themselves. We have had major meltage here, with ankle-deep puddles, slushy snow, muddy puppy bellies. I can't believe last week I was watching my plane being de-iced and this week I am trudging through mud and slush with the dogs. I love it! I can't wait for Don to get the snow off the deck so we can break out the patio table and chairs.

We did look at two open houses today, just to get a feeling for what we would be looking at, both space-wise and price-wise. The second house we saw was great, although not perfect (1-car garage, no master suite bathroom) but easily fixed. The space is much better used than what we have here. We will continue to explore the option of down-sizing, but this house seemed pretty close to what we are looking for.

As I get back into the real world, after being in Sin City for 6 days, there is much I want to blog about - mostly surrounding adoption, addiction transference, yoga at the gym...

Anyway, I'm off to catch up on my readings to see what you all have been up to while I was gone! Hope you've been good!!

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Winter Minnesota-Style

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Digging Out

I'm not sure of the exact totals so far, but when we went out to play with the dogs at around 5:30 last night, the snow was knee-deep in most places, with some drifts even higher. The dogs, of course, thought it was great to plow through chest-high drifts, and they slepts like rocks last night. Trust me - I tried to move Jager several times and ended up having to sleep around her.

Don was great this morning; he got up at 5:00 AM to snow blow the driveway while I got ready for work. I'm so glad we don't have to do this on a regular basis. I mean, for the 2.5 winters we've lived here, this has been the most snow accumlation, and we hadn't even revved up the blower until this past weekend this winter, so I can't complain too much.

The roads were icy and snowy on the way into work. They don't look nearly as bad now that the sun is up and more traffic has sluiced away a lot of the muck. I am hoping to get out of here between 11:00 AM and noon so I can finish packing and spend some time with the dogs and Don before abandoning them for warmer climes.

My flight is showing delayed about 45 minutes to wait for incoming aircraft, but the original flight time is 5:25 PM so I'm thinking there's still time for it to go out as scheduled. Tonight is still up in the air, but I think I'll hook up with Patty and John, we'll eat at the hotel and do a little gambling. Not sure what we are going to do during the day Saturday - I'm bringing a bathing suit since it's going to be in the 70s, but Patty says it's too cold for her to be pool side. Say what? Crazy Californian!

I'm a little nervous about the conference. I will only know my co-worker and we will be attending different break out groups. I don't socialize well with people I don't know, and this is my first real event like this since surgery. I was a total wallflower at 336 pounds, and I'm not sure how I will react in a big social situation now that I'm 165. I am checking TWO bags. I will be there for 5 days and will need work, play and dress clothes. I do have workout clothes packed, but those may go in favor of another outfit. Yes, I have become quite the diva. I used to only pack 1 pair of shoes - now I'm looking at 3 or 4 (all black, of course).

Anyway, no posts until I get back on Wednesday night. Unless I get home early enough to put some up of the snowy back yard. Have a great weekend!!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Snow!!

Yep, another snowstorm dropped about 3 more inches on top of the 8 we already had, and we're supposed to get between 6 and 9 more before midnight. Thank goodness I'm getting out of this snowy hell and going to Las Vegas on Friday.

Seriously, I don't mind the snow but it can make for some rough mornings at work, trying to staff phone queues and clients not really caring if half the staff is snowed in. I do wish it was spread out a little more, like 2 inches here, 3 inches there, instead of these big multi-inched dumps. I do have to say, Minneapolis keeps up the roads pretty well. My drive into work was smooth - nothing more than excess water on the roadways - no ice, slush, snow drifts, etc. Our street hadn't been plowed when I left at 5:45 AM, but enough cars had gone by I could follow the tire marks.

So, yes, I'm off to Las Vegas on Friday. I have a work conference that begins on Sunday night and I'm going in a few days early to see my brother and my best friend is coming in from Los Angeles with her boyfriend. It should be a lot of fun. I'm staying at the Hilton on Friday and Saturday night and then moving to Caesar's Palace for the conference. Saturday night, we're going to Bradley Ogden, which should be great. I wanted to try Mesa Grill, but I still might have a chance before I leave LV since it's in Caesar's. I don't have any specific plans other than doing a lot of people-watching. I'm not a huge gambler (I work way to hard for my money to blow it all on slots or Blackjack).

Work is crazy with all the snow. We are starting to let people go home early because schools are closing and my normal 30-minute commute could easily be 1+ hours. Great - I have a 4:00 nail appointment I really need to go to before I head to Vegas. For safety's sake, I should go home, but vanity will win out and I will have lovely nails. At least the salon is close to home. We are even looking at overnighting people downtown just so we have people on the phones in the morning.

I still need to pack, and it looks like I will have to actually check bags. Normally, I could totally carry on, but I will be gone for 5 days and need work, play and evening wear. I did break out some of my summer clothes and shoes I packed away last fall. Only 1 skirt and 2 shirts even fit - the rest are too big. At least
it went in that direction - I think when I put the clothes away for winter I was worried that they'd be too small because I just wasn't confident that I'd be able to either stay the same size or be an even smaller size in 6 months. Wonder what will happen when I store my winter garb?

I have one more meeting before I can head home. I hope the snow lets up enough for the commute to go easily, and that the salon can take me early.

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