28 February 2009

Denied

I've decided to keep my theme of one word titles for just a little longer. I come to you this morning not from the road heading to Vegas, but from a coffee shop just up the street from where we live. What you see is my consolation from Jesse, who knows the pleasure I get from sweet treats. It's been a disappointing morning and I suppose I have no one to blame but myself.

We were scheduled to go back to Vegas this morning to get the rest of our stuff out of storage. It's costing us money just to have it sit there, and it could sit in our place for free. I shopped and reserved the smallest vehicle to fit our needs. I cleaned and did laundry during the week to leave nothing for the weekend. We bought fruit for road trip snacks, charged and uploaded new songs on the iPod, and cleared space for our soon-to-be-home possessions. But, as I mentioned, we're still in dreary San Francisco.

One cannot rent a car (or cargo van) with an out of state license and a debit card. In that case there must be a credit card. My credit cards are currently in a block of ice in the back of the freezer. It's very important to me that I not use them this year. My license is still from Nevada, where I took an awesome picture. I did plan to get a California ID, but I was trying to give myself a break from the DMV. No license, no credit card, no cargo van, no money saved on storage. I was devastated.

I am dramatic. I plan thoroughly. When something does not go according to plan (or according to any of my back up plans) I immediately try to come up with the fastest solution. It's kind of what I do at work, and I admit to applying it to my life. So once I saw no way to get a cargo van today (and no way to get our stuff out of storage immediately) I broke down. I did not listen to any of Jesse's rational ideas. As far as I was concerned, all of our stuff was going to have to be thrown away. The end. We (and our backpacks full of bananas, pineapple, strawberries, and grapes) walked back toward home. Jesse suggested coffee and a brownie, but all I wanted to do was throw up. I mean really - since when is cash not okay? He took me too The Nook, where he had coffee and a brownie and where I had a macchiato and cranberry muffin. I sampled a yellow bread with blueberries thinking I'd compare it to my own lemon blueberry bread. They're not the same at all, and I think if I hadn't set myself up for similarities, I wouldn't be so disappointed.

So now I need to get studying - to get my license so I can get my stuff out of storage. Ridiculous? Yes. But I was going to get the license anyway, and this way my credit cards can stay in the freezer. I've regained my composure and am now looking forward to having an available weekend without errands. I'm useless if I don't have a plan. Meanwhile Jesse never thinks far enough ahead to make one. We're opposites. Days like this remind me to appreciate that.



~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

27 February 2009

Thwarted!

I shouted Thursday's success to the world, and didn't even give pause after a friend made a comment about street cleaning. I flashed Henry's lights this morning as I left for work - mostly to find out if I could. I smiled at him as Jesse and I went to the grocery store, still so very tickled. I told Jesse to be on the lookout for street cleaning signs, but I didn't think there would actually be any. My neighborhood is full of very narrow streets. How could a cleaner get through? And why would anyone clean *these streets? They're lined with cars as far as the eye can see. But you see the proof as clearly as we did. Street cleaning on Mondays. Operation "Find A Good Parking Spot & Never Leave" was thwarted. I'm at work at those hours. And sure - that's probably why the cleaning happens when it does - but I've just been sentenced to race my neighbors home every Monday. It means parking all over again. It means I don't "own" that spot, which truly is a shame.


I noticed most (but not all) streets have cleaning notices. That gives me hope. If I could manage to move Henry to a street that's allowed to stay dirty, I may get to quasi- abandon him yet. Still, I'd rather have the spot I have. It brought me peace of mind for the last 24 hours, and I want more. Where will I find my next fix?

~ Danie D.

Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

26 February 2009

Joy!

My car (Henry) is California certified. I could tell you how awful it's been - parking in a garage accessible to car thieves, paying $10 a night for pretend security, upgrading to a truly secured garage for $199/month, refusing to actually take the car because of *where the garage is, getting $200+ in parking tickets, or spending 45 minutes looking for street parking - but that's all behind us now. Talking about those things would detract from the awesome things that happened today.

I set myself up to sell Henry. I don't use him and he costs me a lot of money. He's a great car, and has all of his maintenance on time and at Hyundai dealerships. I looked at the numbers though, and realized I owe more than he's worth. Some who wish to incur my wrath would say I was "underwater." Those people should not talk to me, unless they want to hear about stupid phrases coined by faceless clowns and disseminated on TV. For everyone else, I'll say I'm keeping my car. And today I'm okay with that.

I took Henry for maintenance today. His oil was changed, tires rotated, filters checked, and bolts tightened. I also replaced a wiper and bought touch up paint for some of my parking garage escapades. Earlier this month, he was registered, license plated, and parking permitted. All that prepared Henry for my ideal; a long term parking place.

I was willing to parallel park on a hill to find Henry a nice place. What I found was significantly better. It's a block from where we live, on my way to the gym, and not on an incline. My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw it, and I blame my shaking for my first awful parallel parking attempts. in the end, it was a perfect fit. And I see a long future for my well maintained car. All is right in the world.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

23 February 2009

Less Writing, More Thinking

I've written less lately because I've had too much to say. My thoughts have been going in so many different directions, I haven't been able to focus any one of them. I think the only way around this is to do what I had been hoping to avoid: explain everything.

Even after deciding not to get an MBA, I gave a lot of thought to it. I got a call from a school here that has a good program, is relatively cheap, and was willing to waive the GMAT based on my undergraduate GPA. This program also has rolling admission, so I could have started this summer, and be almost done by the time my MFA classes started. I'm looking at two MFA programs and neither has spring admission. One starts in June 2010, the other in September '10. It's kind of anti climatic for me. I finally make a decision and have to wait a year to implement it. I gave the MBA program additional thought because it seemed like a good way to pass the time. Also because several friends recommended it to me, and I do not like to disappoint or ignore advice, But even I know "passing time" is not a good reason to do something as strenuous as getting an MBA. So I'm for real not going to get one. Decided.

Instead I'm going to use this next year before school to prepare. I'm going to actually take the time I have and use it in the best ways I can imagine. It's been a while since I wrote creatively on a regular basis. I know I need the practice. It's also a great opportunity for me to read more, which I want to do anyway. This weekend I wrote out goals by month, starting with February. They're realistic, they're specific, and there are consequences for not meeting them. I work best under deadline.

I'm also trying to get Jesse to go back to school as well. The reality is it's difficult to find a job here. He doesn't have an "in" anywhere. There are about 200 applicants for every opening and with city and state layoffs coming, it's not about to get easier. He doesn't like the idea of potentially living off student loans, because he's never had any debt. (Amazing, I know.) But the alternatives are dwindling. He could move back home and surely find work there - but I'm not good at being apart. He could stay here and I could support us both - but he's not okay with the idea of being "kept" and really, that just wouldn't fly. He can (and will) keep looking and maybe temp as much as possible. But I don't think it can hurt to go back to school in the interim. Plus I don't want to be the only one with homework. That just won't see fair.

There you have them - the things that have been keeping me in my own thoughts and away from my blog. I've also been keeping up with exercising, because I only have 24 pounds (of fat) to go. I've kept off 75ish pounds so far and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm almost done and I'm more motivated than ever.

In case you were wondering, the goals for February are:

- Get my car tuned, touched up, and listed for sale

- Have the proper permit for street parking

- Empty the storage unit in Vegas

- Compile the notes I've taken since I started this job.

Next month: home decor.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

18 February 2009

Mr. President: Please Stay Home

I am taking issue with what I dare call hypocrisy in the Obama Administration. The President has made the economy a significant part of his agenda. It was the focus of the majority of his talks way back when he was "Senator Barack Obama / (D-IL) Presidential Nominee." Once he was "President-Elect Barack Obama," it was all economy, all the time. "President Obama" is even more fiscally focused. So why is he wasting money traveling to Denver and Mesa to do things he could do from home?

The harshest and sobering statements about the economy have come from the President. After visiting Elkhart, Indiana (more wasteful spending), Mr. Obama said:

"Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine. And if there's anyone out there who still doesn't believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside
down because they don't know where their next paycheck is coming from."
I don't doubt the President's veracity, or question the severity of the recession. He has used strong language repeatedly to compel lawmakers to pass the ARRA. He's painted such a bleak picture, Suze Orman has asked he stop talking about just how dire it is. But the reality is as he says. I see it in my new state of California, where state workers are being furloughed and fired, and where my boyfriend is trying to find a job. I see it nationally, in job cuts and foreclosures. President Obama said Tuesday - with the stimulus bill "We are putting Americans to work doing the work that America needs done." He's promised to pay attention to government waste. I say he starts by working from home, or at least from his office.

It costs a lot of money for the President to travel. He and the Vice President travel separately, using jet fuel for Air Force One and Air Force Two. The planes are significantly heavier when there's a press corp on board. Once they arrive, there is the cost of extra police officers - which must be covered by departments that may be already over budget. There is the cost of media coverage, with tv stations sending extra crews along the President's route and skipping commercials to bring viewers the presidential address in their area. It costs someone money to set the stage for the President's speech, It costs taxpayers to print those pens he uses to sign bills. It costs companies productivity when people miss work to see or protest the President's visit. There are costs to a presidential visit and I think President Obama has to practice what he preaches about eliminating government waste.

He's not the only one. Nancy Pelosi is in Vatican City meeting with the Pope. She's part of a Congressional Delegation. Excuse me. I thought we had a $10,000,000,000,000 national debt. I thought it was crucial to cut government waste. I thought we had a tech-friendly president. I thought it would be obvious America can not afford to send a Congressional Delegation to Italy. Congress lambasted the automakers for asking for money, yet flying in private jets. Pelosi is in succession for the presidency. I doubt she flew commercial. I also doubt she used her debit card to pay for the trip.

Again I implore the country be run more like a household. If lawmakers want to travel, they should pay for it on their own. We have a Secretary of State, whose job it actually is to travel the world promoting the United States. Everyone else (President Obama included) should looking into diplomacy by videoconferencing. We are broke. It's time to scrap appearances, forget keeping up with the Joneses, and put the "fiscal responsibility" in fiscal responsibility. That means the President use the Oval Office provided. It means members of Congress change their lifestyles to reflect the economic reality. That should also mean not wasting paper printing the ARRA, since lawmakers only had 2 days (before a vacation) to read 1000+ pages. The less money I have, the more I want to them to be aware of how they're wasting it. And I demand the President set the example.

17 February 2009

Significant Change In Plans

It's been a very thought provoking week. I'm officially done thinking though, and ready to start doing. Here's the plan:
  • I will go to graduate school.
  • I will not be getting an MBA. (Plan B)
  • I'll study travel writing. (Plan C)
  • I'll go for an MFA in Creative Writing. (Plan C.a)

If you have a few moments (and this will take at least that) I'd like to take you through my thought process. Action items are italicized.

Wednesday:
We had reality update at work. Our company is losing money. Rather than wait for corporate to mandate cuts, our management is taking chances. These chances will cost a lot of the money we already don't have while creating awesome opportunities. I left that meeting at work thinking the best thing for me to do was spend money studying the technology about to come to us for free. Ryan made me realize I was sticking too close to what he called a hobby, and what I call specified career development. Other people at work agreed it would be a waste of money to take classes when I could play with the fancy equipment for free in my off time.

Friday:
I received a requested brochure from the Academy of Art University and realized the coworkers were right. I already work with several of the people who shape the "cutting edge" in San Francisco. There's no reason for me to spend money to get information they'll likely gladly give me. So. Once the new equipment comes, I'll stay after work, or come in on weekends to learn how to use it. At the minimum, I'll have more skills to compliment my producing.

I thought a lot about my conversation with Ryan and decided to get an MBA or a MA in Project Management. Practically speaking, it's a great idea. An MBA makes me a viable candidate for management, even in business-type jobs outside of television. Project Management (I believe) would compliment my producing skills more, but leave me with fewer job options. Yes, an MBA requires math. But I don't deny I'll do well. I don't like to fail. So I spent the weekend determined to get an MBA, and asking (MBA Recruiter) Michelle for her take. She's with Ryan.

Monday:
I started telling more people, mostly because my logical decision did not feel right. I had gotten over the math and the undergraduate classes I'd need to get the MBA level. I requested information from the reputable programs here. I had a plan that was going to work and benefit me professionally and financially in the long run. Still, I was not excited. And why should I do something that doesn't excite me?

Someone asked me what I'd do if I knew the world was ending three years. I took that as: "What if you were going to die in three years? What would you want to have accomplished?" I'd would want to travel and write. I'd want to write about the places I visited. I'd want to write a fiction novel. I'd want to write a memoir. I would not want to make a bunch of money just to have it. If I knew I only had three years, I'd want to give "practical" a break (I couldn't throw it away entirely) and do what excited me. Why should that be any different than if I had 5 years? Or 50? Why do I have to list what I want under "hobby" and not "career?"

Ryan & Michelle love the MBA idea. They also both happen to have jobs they enjoy. Ryan went through what I would call the longest job interview process in humanity by choice and Michelle works from the beach. I think they're happy doing what they do in their respective settings. And while I know I'd do well, I don't think I'd be as happy as I'd be writing. Therefore I'm going to start going to travel writing seminars and figuring out how that business works.

But the more I thought about going to school, the more I liked that idea too. It couldn't hurt me to actually take some college math just in case I change my mind again. I also miss Spanish more than I thought I could. I miss speaking. I miss eavesdropping. I miss not thinking about it, and just knowing it. But my undergraduate days are over. If I'm going to study, it's going to be intense. So I'll be going for my MFA in Creative Writing. I had considered teaching English in other countries, but the reality is I'm not a very nice or patient person. I want to write and an MFA program will push me to at least start writing one of the books taking shape in my head. I'll also be enrolled in a school that will likely offer math and Spanish classes. And all those ideas excite me.

I realized - while I really enjoy what I do - there are other things I enjoy as well. And I don't have to feel guilty for basing my "Plan B," (Plan C in this case) on something else I really want to try. Maybe this is Jesse wearing off on me. He's certainly the less practical between the two of us. If so, I'm glad. I promised myself I'd be more like him. In the next two years I'll still produce, learn additional media skills, study Travel Writing, get an MFA in Creative Writing, learn some math, and pick up the Spanish that's fallen by the wayside. It might not be easy, but I really do think I'll have fun.

16 February 2009

Life Handed Me Lemons...

And I was almost done making lemonade.

A coworker named Simon brought these to me two weeks ago, on day five of my detox. I mentioned I was going through nine a day and he was thrilled, as his neighbor has a lemon tree. I guess the lemons fall all over Simon's yard and he's quite sick of them. So he happily dumped these on my desk. I was excited, because (while lemons are cheap in my neighborhood) it's impossible to explain buying 30 from the same place within three days. No one asked me, but it felt like it would be a strange purchase to watch.

But things were not as they appeared. I learned a lemon is not just a lemon. I went 27 years without knowing there are varieties of lemon. These are Meyer Lemons. The Internet told me:
Meyer Lemon is a variety of lemon that is known for having a sweeter flavor, tasting mildly like a tangerine. It is often used as a seasoning for fish, providing a fresh aroma and a sweeter flavor than the standard lemon. This lemon is often used to season fish and seafood. When a Meyer lemon's flesh or juice is added to a dish, it adds a sweet and only slightly tart flavor. Meyer lemons are more difficult to find but as they increase in popularity they are becoming more available in specialty markets.
I don't know about specialty markets, they're plenty popular in Simon's yard. I used them for the last two days of the detox and at the end of the week, I still had almost two dozen left. I had lived on a lemonade variation for a week, so I had to find other things to make. It was significantly more difficult than I thought.

Most recipes that involve lemon involve just the zest. I was out to use as many whole lemons as possible. I also did not want to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients I'd only use once. So (based on what I already had) I made three lemon-based items.

Lemon Blueberry Bread
I like baking more than cooking. I'm not sure why, it could be baked things are always full of sugar and butter and therefore appeal to my baser urges. I chose this bread because it used both lemon juice and lemon zest, and also because the blueberries convinced me it was healthier than a lemon cake. Of course I can't leave any delicious baked good at home with myself, so I sampled, saved a piece for Jesse, and brought the rest to work. Survey said:

Danie: Delicious
Coworkers: Outstanding
Jesse: No Thanks

Jesse has an aversion to most sweets. I only thought he'd like the bread because he likes blueberry muffins. Then again, he also prefers canned blueberries to fresh or frozen. So he's clearly a nut.

Baked Lemon Chicken
I ventured from baking to actual cooking with the Baked Lemon Chicken. It had a lot of ingredients, but we had them all and I felt up to the challenge. The chicken was simply breaded and baked. The lemon was only involved in the sauce. I kept it at home for us, instead of bringing it to work. Survey said:

Danie: Delicious
Jesse: Out of the Park (Great)

Lemon Bars
As one of my coworkers put it "I never met a lemon bar I didn't like." I haven't either, but I was nervous to make them. I followed the recipe this time, but will use less sugar in the future. I also thought there was too much crust. In the future I'll build it higher along the wall of the pan. Fun fact: lemon bars get their color from eggs, not from lemons. I also brought these to work, after letting Jesse have just a bite on a sample. There was no hope for this one.

Danie: A little too sweet. A little too much crust. I'd still eat the whole pan.
Jesse: Gross
Coworkers: Perfectly tart. Delicious.

Now it can be argued people in news will eat (and enjoy) anything. I've seen that to be true over the last seven years, with the exception of chicken feet. Apparently even we have our limits.

I still have nine or so lemons left, so send your recipes this way.

11 February 2009

Get Over It Goodman

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is asking President Obama to apologize. The mayor has taken offense to a comment made Monday. I think Goodman is deliberately taking it out of context with the (successful) hope of getting media attention. But there are bigger things (and actual issues) worth news time. And now my former mayor has gone and annoyed me.

"You can't take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime," - President Barack Obama, 9 February 2009

That's the statement President Obama made Monday in Elkhart, Indiana. I think it's self explanatory when taken as a message to financial institutions - which is what it was. Mayor Goodman saw it slightly differently, telling the President his "comments are harmful to the meetings and convention industry as a whole and Las Vegas specifically." Excuse me Oscar, you seem to be missing the point.

As a taxpayer, I do not want to be funding trips to Vegas if I can't afford to take one myself. The President was specifically talking about banks like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, which received TARP funds and have not yet used them for their intended purpose. I lived in Vegas. I know tourism is it's bread, butter, milk, honey and steak. I doubt the President (or anyone who cares about the economy) is advocating businesses cancel trips to Las Vegas, as long as those businesses pay for the trips themselves.

I have been against the $700 Billion TARP since it's inception. The lack of oversight is just one of my qualms. I am against wasting money, and doubly against wasting my money. How would Oscar feel if someone came to him crying financial ruin, then used a substantial amount of his money to live lavishly? It's rude. It's not how people treat friends, and should be unacceptable for tax dollars.

That's my interpretation of President Obama's statement. When he was Senator Obama, he visited Nevada several times. He knew the importance of the Silver State and I presume that came from an understanding of its economy. The President had nothing to say about the Consumer Electronics Show or AVN Adult Entertainment Expo coming to Las Vegas. They were both pre-inauguration, but I still don't think those are the businesses he'ds targeting. He is not pretending to create business models for specific companies or industries - provided they did not accept government funds. Mayor Goodman is a smart guy. A man who conducts business flanked by showgirls should understand context. But the onus is not solely his. Las Vegas media have some explaining to do as well.

Mayor Goodman did not back down when asked about companies receiving TARP funds. He says those companies still need "to do business and offer incentives to employees." It must be nice for Oscar, to still have "employee incentives" while companies are cutting everything they can to avoid cutting more jobs. I think the story is less that Oscar Goodman wants an apology and more that Oscar Goodman is out of touch with reality. Oscar says whatever he wants to say, and I think media are obligated to put it in context. In this case I do not think they did - especially considering Las Vegas on one of the hardest hit cities by the mortgage crisis. For the same companies responsible for ARMs and foreclosures to reward their employees with the tax dollars contributed by people bordering on homelessness is ridiculous. I hope the President either ignores Mayor Goodman entirely or replies reminding him of efforts to eliminate wasteful spending. And I hope Oscar learns a lesson.

10 February 2009

Self-Serving Altruism

I filed our taxes this weekend. It gets less pleasant year after year. We're not married. We don't have any children or own any property. Basically we're sitting ducks for the IRS. I've been able to avoid them in the past by making less money, withholding nothing, making a lot of donations, and losing money in the stock market. But I've made some career advancements, decided to keep more of my earnings, and stopped trading. Now I only have donations to save me. The stuff we donated, plus the non-reimbursed costs from the move kept me from owing this year, but just barely. Now (while I'm in the tax mindset) I'm thinking of ways to avoid owing next year.

It's not that I'm a money hoarding Republican, or a tax avoiding Democrat. It's just that I don't like owing. I'm rarely willing to part with money I've saved. If I knew I was going to owe a year in advance, I'd pay it along the way and be okay with that. While that is an option, I'd still rather get cash back. I see as the government saying "thanks for being a good citizen." So I'm choosing to be a good citizen in advance, with the primary of goal of getting a financial kudos next year.

I've picked 7 charities and will donate to all of them throughout the year. I picked the Multiple Sclerosis Society just in case my money is enough to cure my mom. I chose the Rape & Abuse Crisis Center of Fargo Moorhead because I used to volunteer there and I know it provides fantastic services. I've also volunteered at the San Francisco Food Bank and know my money will go far there. The guy with the hair runs a tight ship. I found out about Students Rising Above through my job. It's a scholarship fund for high achieving high school students who have had terrible childhoods. The other charities (United Negro College Fund, Red Cross, Salvation Army) are for the parts of me that think globally. In another month or so, I plan to set up automatic payments. It's self-serving altruism, but I'm ashamed to say it will work.

I should donate more. I know that. The most I ever donated was when I first moved to Fargo and made significantly less money than I make now. Yes my cost of living is higher, but that's no excuse. So now I'm hitting myself where it hurts. Charities can have my money. The government can't.

09 February 2009

If I Don't Spend, Who Will?

I'm doing well in not buying anything extra this month. I'm proud of the last nine days. I went grocery shopping Thursday and even though everything in the grocery store looked fantastic, I did not stray from my list. Six days of not eating and I only spent $47. I did buy a lot of things that were on sale though, saving $30 with my club card. Not buying will help my bank account and help me relax. But David brings up a good point:

I understand what you mean...but how are we going to get this economy moving if people aren't willing to spend money? Maybe it's not something you need...but every little bit helps!

Spending money is what the economy needs. The more people spend, the more small businesses can hire. And as I've learned, small businesses are the best opportunity for growth. I should spend. You should spend. A friend of mine says spending makes her feel more patriotic; although she's also the person who gave me the idea for the "no buy months." Knowing and doing are different though, and I've decided I have to do what's best for me instead of what's best for the country.


I have to save cash and eliminate debt. I am obligated to make sure Jesse and I are in the best financial shape possible. We're about to go into a depression. The state of California is out of money. That translates to no tax refund for me, and to no food stamps or unemployment checks for my neighbors. I paid my extra fine at the DMV, and still the staff there has to take two unpaid days off every month. I believe (economically) things are going from worst to terrible. And for the same reason I carry a tape measure in my bag, I can't spend. I have to be prepared.


The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not the answer. My apologies to the President. It will essentially print $1,300,000,000,000. It's like when you play Monopoly and run out of bills. The country is broke. But unlike a household with a credit limit, the United States can make its own money that has some value. That value comes from devaluing the dollars that are already out there. Our assets are the same, but there are more pieces of them. Printing another trillion dollars is not going to do what we need done. But no. I don't have a broader solution.


I want the country to be run like a household. If there is no extra money, there is no extra fun.

No NASA, you can't experiment with billions of dollars until the national debt is paid. No Congress, you can't get a raise in your allowance. In fact, it's being cut until the bills are paid.


Americans have to choose to spend their money wisely but our government doesn't. People who don't, suffer. I don't have faith in the stimulus plan. I think it costs too much. I'm one of those politically left, financially right people. I believe it can be achieved if the right sacrifices are made. Unfortunately I don't see any of that forthcoming from Washington.


If I had my way, I'd scrap the bill we have on the table now, identify five areas that need immediate (within 30 days) help (manufacturing, construction, mortgages, etc), and come up with a bill to get those improving. I'd make the bill short and concise, give lawmakers one day to read it and another to debate and vote on it. I'd tell members of Congress to wear comfortable clothes and to think like real people who don't have staffs or drivers. In my fantasy efficient things get done.


Until I have faith in my government to protect my economic interests (and I would like that), the only one who can do that is me. Even Jesse would spend wildly if I let him. I'd like to be finishing our apartment, buying stock, and planning a cruise right now. But the most responsible thing I can for myself is save.

07 February 2009

It Must Be Noted

Two hours after eating Friday night, I had a vicious leg cramp in my left inner thigh. It was excruciating, and (in my mind) directly related to eating. Had I still been not eating, I firmly believe the cramp would not have happened. It was especially annoying because I can't think of what caused it.

My feast started with a banana, then went to another. I never finished the second banana though, because I got nauseous. It passed, and I enjoyed a main course of rice and peas. There was white popcorn (popped in olive oil, served without butter or salt) for dessert and at the end I was neither full nor hungry. I was neither satisfied nor craving. I had eaten and for all the satisfaction it brought, I could have not. Once my thigh began seizing, I was wishing it was not.

I admit the possibility of coincidence. I had been without potassium, magnesium and calcium for 9 days, all of which I take specifically to prevent leg cramps. I had also been exercising, which has in the past given me increased leg cramping. But rationale is no comfort when you can hardly walk. And I was surly when I went to bed. I later woke up to cramps in both legs and decided food was evil.

I'm not sure what it was about what I ate that made my body so angry, but I took the reintroduction of food very seriously Saturday. I ate more bananas and blueberries and chose egg whites, cheddar, and turkey sausage for my first proteins. Breakfast wasn't an easy decision. I'm finding I'm just as concerned with quality now as I am with quantity. Basically, I'm looking for foods that are both low calorie and as close to raw as possible. I don't want a lot of preservatives. The fact is (from what I've been reading) preservatives, vitamins, medicines and food all go through the liver. Usually they stop in the gallbladder first, but in my case that does no good. The liver is also responsible for breaking down belly fat. It has to work harder for fatty foods, alcohol, and potatoes (not sure why - you try googling liver + potatoes and see what you get). So I'm going to be nicer to my liver to encourage it to sort through my belly remaining belly fat. I'm not going to go entirely raw, just be more aware and cook as much as possible.

We'll see how that goes, and how my liver repays me. I must admit I haven't been it's best friend in the last decade or so. Whatever I'm about to get, I'm sure I deserve.

06 February 2009

"And Scene"

The detox is just about over. I have just under two hours left and I figured I'd write about it now, in case I put myself in a fruit and vegetable coma later.

The detox was success. I was in a really good mood all week - to the point where my director accused me of being delirious. I assure you I was lucid the entire time. I just didn't get worked up over anything. All of my walks were pleasant and my customer service experiences good. I don't know if that was directly related to the detox, but somehow I think it was.

I didn't feel hungry, but I did want food. My teeth were sticky from not chewing. I brushed my teeth and tongue a lot, but it barely helped.

I'll do this again, but probably not for 7 days. The program recommended 3 - 5 and I realize that's probably the time it takes for the pills to work their magic. After that, I think the body just loses weight. I've lost 10 pounds over last 9 days. I'm sure I'll gain some once I start eating again. Then again I gained 2 pounds overnight this week from (presumably) all the liquids. So maybe I'll get to keep my loss.

A new chapter begins once I start to eat. Immediately I'll be on a restricted diet like I was when I started. It will be a shock to my system to have to break down food again and the reaction might be less than pleasant. After that I plan to change some of the foods I ingest. I'll be eating more lemons, because they're good for the liver. I'll also be avoiding all - purpose flour, and using bread or cake flour depending on the recipe. Apparently, there are differences. I'll also be trying to swap refined sugar for maple syrup, as it's natural and an easy substitute for cooking. Overall, I plan to eat less processed food and cook more. I'm excited.

And if you're wondering, I'll be eating fruit, rice, peas, and maybe popcorn tonight. There are a lot of things I want to try but I have a feeling I'll get full early.

Auntie Danie

My nephew, Donnell something, was born today. So far I don't have weight, length, or middle name. But my mom called from the delivery room and I heard him screaming. He sounds perfect.
Labor started this morning and was briefly interrupted by the baby taking a nap. Being born must be very difficult, enough to tire one out. Obviously he woke up and found the strength to go on through the birth canal. Good for him. Pictures when I get them. He's still being cleaned, and doused in "new baby" smelling stuff.
~ Danie D.
Courtesy of my Verizon PinkBerry

05 February 2009

90 Day Challenge | 83 Days To Go

It's been a week since I issued my 90 Day Challenge. Having no clear rules makes it difficult to measure success. So today I asked myself: "what have you done to make your life better?" And I am pleased to report I have taken steps. No I haven't signed a law for equal pay or created a middle class task force like the president. But I'm also not endorsing a bunch of tax cheats, so there.

I have detoxified, which I do believe is good for my physical and mental health. There's the willpower test of having food, having the ability to eat that food, and not eating the aforementioned food. And there's whatever is going on inside. The fact that I'm not hungry makes me think the program is working like it's supposed to and I'm being cleansed.

I've also declared February & March as "No Buy Months." This is an idea I'm lifting from another blogger. I will not waste money on the non-essentials. This will mean not going out to eat, not buying clothes, not going to Target, and not making any whimsical purchases. If I see something I like, I'll wait until April. If I still think I must have it, I'll debate it again. I'm not trying to save so I can splurge. The point is to curb spending overall. I have trips planned in both April and May and credit cards are not an option. Plus, Jesse is on a job hunt. We have no place living high on the hog.

There will be exceptions. At some point I will have to get my hair done. I also still have one flight to buy. We will be buying groceries and paying bills. But there will not be room for anything else. Right now I think I'll miss going to the movies the most. But it's just two months. And we have Netflix. More than that, we still have a city to explore.

So I will say the 90 Day Challenge is going well. I will hopefully have more money saved when it's over.

On another note: I like this picture. It's from the White House Blog, taken Super Bowl Sunday. I like President Obama's ears. I also like his focus. I don't know why. It just made me smile.

04 February 2009

Post Detox | Which Way To Go

I've decided to eat Friday, seven days (to the hour) since I had my last meal. I realized part of my earlier indecision was not knowing how to move forward after the detox. I am resetting my palate, and the first things I eat have to be important. That's probably not technically accurate, but it's the idea in my head and I will respond to it. I will have to ease back into complex foods like proteins, refined sugars, and dairy. And that will help me not go to Taco Bell right away. It should be noted I typically don't like Taco Bell. But its food has looked especially delicious in recent commercials.

Of course I plan to avoid fried foods. I'm not supposed to have them because of my defunct gallbladder. I'll also be avoiding as much salt as possible. It's crucial to controlling my blood pressure. Theoretically, that means I should also avoid cheese. It's both bad for the gallbladder and loaded with sodium. Unfortunately, I really enjoy cheese. I do not think I would be being honest if I said I would give up cheese. I may limit it though. I hope.


Do I go back to drinking coffee? There is research showing three to five cups a day may help prevent dementia. But the withdrawals from the start of the detox made me question if I ever wanted coffee again. It was painful to not drink it. Then again, I survived that just fine. And I do know how to ween myself off caffeine if I know I'll have to go on without it.


What about bread, breaded chicken, pasta, and sugary desserts? I saw a dessert on Burning Pasta that I will be trying. It does not appear to be unhealthy, but if left alone with it at home, I know I'd eat the entire thing. I'll have to save it for a potluck or for entertaining.


I want to eat well. I want to eat more fruit, more vegetables, fewer processed foods. I have an opportunity here to put only good and healthy things in my body. I'm not sure how, but I plan to take full advantage.

03 February 2009

Not Eating Is Boring

There is part of that thinks you're checking the blog to make sure I'm surviving the detox. I am. Things are going better than one might think. I haven't eaten since Friday, but I'm no worse for the wear. People are looking for signs of fatigue, and they're not finding it. I was actually accused of being giddy today. I admit I don't feel 100%, but I'm definitely a solid 90. Still, I may call this off earlier than planned. I think the detox is making me more boring.

I'm trying not to overexert myself. Even though I'm not woozy or delirious, I know my body is operating on lemon juice, maple syrup, and water that doesn't even have natural minerals. It would be foolish to lift weights, or run a lot of errands in one sitting. I'm fine as long as I work, do some light cardio, and sit at home. I can't go out with friends; when was the last time you were at an outing that did not involve food? I've been at home, and that doesn't make for any good stories. Jesse's out of town, so his antics aren't documented. I'm obviously not cooking anything I can share. Food (I have learned) is less important than eating. Eating, preparing food, even grocery shopping all take time. Now that all of that time is free, I find there's no easy way to fill it.

So I'm thinking of doing 6 or 7 days instead of 8. Wednesday will be day 5 and that's a milestone I've already reached twice. So I'd like to do more. Six days seems so minimal. But what's the difference between 7 and 8? I'm leaning toward 7. That will give me the full weekend to ease myself back into eating. Does that make me a quitter? We'll see how I feel Friday. I still have plenty of time to not eat.

I do, however, have a medical victory to declare. I had a check up Monday to determine if it was a good idea for me to stop taking my blood pressure medication. My doctor suggested I stop two months ago. I had to promise to exercise though. Unchecked high blood pressure will cause a stroke. I did not exercise as much as he wanted. He specifically told me to lose weight and I made minimal progress. I could offer excuses but the bottom line is I didn't do what I was supposed to do. Still, my blood pressure was 125 / 70. It was 130 / 110 & 170 / 105 when I was first diagnosed (accidentally by my gyno) in late 2005. This means I'm off the pills for good. Take that genetics. In your face family history. I have to go back in two months for another check. And I'm not throwing my pills away. But I had been facing a prescription for my entire life. I'm 27. That was going to be a long time. now I have a reprieve and I am not going to screw it up.

Anyway, I was reading about my previous detoxifications. You should too, if you have the time. You'll have to skip the first few posts. They're recent and you really should have read them already. Enjoy.

01 February 2009

Making Lemonade

This is what I'll be consuming from Saturday to Saturday. I'll be mixing distilled water, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Somewhere in the planning process, I decided freshly squeezed lemon juice would be best. I also decided I had to do the squeezing myself, and that I therefore had to buy a squeezer. There must be something in my DNA that loves spending.

The detox guide says the juice can be from concentrate, and recommends the Minute Maid brand. But that comes in 7.5oz (less than 1 cup) bottles and the mixture requires 12oz (1.5 cups) a day. If you can even find this juice, you'll end up buying 3 bottles for every 2 days of the detox. I used that the first time. Then decided to find a way to spend a little less.

I switched to the ReaLemon juice that's easily found in the juice aisle. Know what? That's expensive too. Furthermore, the ReaLemon doesn't look right if you pour it in a cup. It's yellow, but looks a little off for being lemon juice. So this time around, I'm not using it.

There are cons to the fresh lemon juice plan though. It takes 9 lemons to get 12oz of juice. Here in Chinatown, lemons are 3 for $1. I'll have spent $21 on lemons when this is done. That seems ridiculous. But I really think I would spend more if I were using bottled lemon juice. If only I hadn't bought that squeezer.

Real lemons taste better anyway. It's the difference between powdered lemonade mix and actual lemonade - or in this case between something I don't mind and something delicious. The 1/3 cup of maple syrup leaves no syrup taste. As far as I can tell, it just acts as sugar to make the lemonade sweeter. Waste of money or not, I am having the best detoxification mixture ever.

It should be noted I prefer tart lemonade, and used to eat lemons when I was a child. My parents will tell you it contributed to what they call my "heartless" personality.