Week 3: Blindness, Belly Dancing and Ham and Cheese Mini-Frittatas

Settling nicely into the third week.  Before I know it, I’ll have finished the first entire month of this year accomplishing some goals.  And making some nice discoveries in the process.

Before I continue, there’s been requests for puppy pictures.  This one is my favorite so far, though it was taken a couple of weeks ago and she’s grown since then.

Why?  Give me one good reason why I can’t have the rest of your french fries.

For those of you that miss pictures of Daphne as well, here’s one of the two of them together.

True Love

I’m starting to really question my sanity at this point.  Caring for Matilda in this early phase of her life has been so much more stressful than I imagined.  Housebreaking is the literal worst, but just worrying that she’ll get into something that will hurt her…it weighs on me.  People tell me how big she’s getting, I tell them “It’s because she’s eating my happiness.”  But after this week’s reading assignment, I can no longer be mad at her…I’ve grown a battalion of love in my heart that is attacking the worry and stress and slowly, but surely…we’re getting there.

Even if my carpets are suffering.  And my vacuum and spotbot have both given up.

The Book

Never heard of this book?  That’s cool.  If not for my swinging job with Nielsen in the mid-aughts, I probably wouldn’t have heard of it either.  During my tenure there, the market research team I worked for was assigned the task of recruiting and surveying an audience for the film version of this movie.  I wasn’t able to attend the screening, but a week or so later, when discussing another possible project on the film, one of the analysts called it “That smelly movie.”

Here’s the thing: the book (one of two major works that helped author Jose Saramago win the Nobel Prize for Literature) centers around an entire city that suddenly goes blind.  The major characters are the first to be infected: a man (Known in the book as the First Blind Man), his doctor (The Doctor) and the doctor’s wife (The Doctor’s…you see where this is going).  There is also The Girl in the Dark Glasses and The Man with the Black Eyepatch.  The lot of them (and some others) are quarantined in a run-down mental asylum and given…basically nothing.  The little food that arrives from the army is fought over and, since none of them can see, personal hygiene takes a significant back seat.  Once they escape the asylum and discover the entire city has been infected, it’s more of the same, only on a much larger scale.  So, when I asked the analyst why she called it a “smelly movie” she explained this situation, saying “the smell of it practically comes off the screen at you.”  And, because it’s the book and can go even more in depth, suffice to say…there’s a lot of feces in the narrative.

The one stroke of good luck our blind patients have encountered is the Doctor’s Wife, who, for some particular reason or other, has not gone blind.  She helps the small band of them survive, not only assisting them in their sanitation and acquisition of food, but also going as far as committing desperately violent acts to keep the rest of them alive.  She is, to put it mildly, a Badass.  The best heroin I’ve seen in a novel in a long, long time, Katniss Everdeen has nothing on the Doctor’s Wife.  She loves without condition, gives without taking and risks her personal security for the good of the whole.  Best of all, she is not a martyr and thinks rarely of herself.  She inspired me to love more selflessly and endure my everyday obstacles with less belly-aching.

In a sea of Dystopian literature, I feel this book has been staunchly overlooked.  It’s packed with literary goodies like foreshadowing and metaphor.  And told in the most unpretentious poetry:

“How it was possible to know that these things happened so and not in some other manner, the reply to be given is that all stories are like those about the creation of the universe, no one was there, no one witnessed anything, yet everyone knows what happened.”

When I first scanned through the book, I noticed that it did not have any chapter breaks.  Very few paragraphs, very little punctuation.  I thought, “Is there no dialogue?  Does no one say anything?”  But as I got into the book I discovered that, like a world gone blind, Saramago has purposely left the book with little structure.  It reads smoothly, regardless of the format, once you get used to it.  I would highly recommend it.

And ironically enough, all the light bulbs in my house starting dying the week I read this.  I think it metaphysically effected my life.

The Recipe

This week’s recipe was the Mini Ham and Cheese Frittatas alluded to in last week’s blog.

It had ham.

I’ve always wanted to cook mini-things in my cupcake tin.  This recipe allowed me to do that.  Though, the entire time I was sure I was doing something wrong.

So…I think it’s really cute that they wanted to cut down on the calories by using mostly egg whites in the frittata instead of whole eggs.  I tried separating the yolks, I really did.  But…I ultimately went rogue.  I put full blown, cholesterolly eggs in there (though I did use two less than the recipe called for).

I’d also like to have a serious conversation with the lovely lady (or gentleman) who wrote this recipe as to what consists of a “baking potato.”  It called for two of them, finely chopped.  I bought the Idaho Bakers that come separately in the store, thinking this is what they meant by “baking potato.”  But by the time I got halfway through chopping the second one, I thought to myself, “I enjoy potatoes, but this is getting ridiculous.”  Indeed, the dish itself came out more than a bit starchy, shall we say.

I added some greens.  Would make a good brunch, no?

I’m all for comfort food, but I’d like to try it with chopped broccoli instead of potato next time, I think.  In fact, I may try some random-stuff-in-a-cupcake-tin frittata next week, just to test my sensibilites.

But, Jason ate it (and went back for seconds – BOO-YA!).

The Fitness

Quite possibly the best part of this week’s docket was Tiazza.  I found this workout after googling “Best YouTube Workout Videos” and coming upon a listicle.  Tiazza was about halfway through.  But, in my book, she’s the tops.  She’s got grace, style, she doesn’t go too fast or too slow and explains the moves in a way that make them easy to execute without feeling like a fool.  And ‘dos abs, tho.

For real, I watched her belly button most of the way through.  It’s kind of mesmerizing.

This workout (and the subsequent training videos that I did after…I might be really into bellydancing) is, in my opinion the best kind of workout because it doesn’t feel like I’m torturing myself and I don’t feel like a pig in a tutu.  This workout got me in touch with my hips.  It made me feel feminine and I held my head up a little higher all day after doing it.  Plus, instead of the sensation of buying into some “latest-craze” fitness meme like some other workouts out there (Burpees, I’m looking at you), I felt more like I was participating in an exotic, ancient custom.  By the end of the video, I was practically screaming “BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE BAPTIST!”  (Matthew, chapter 14).

And I will be doing this one again.  And others like it.

Tune in next week for:

BOOK: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

RECIPE:  Crockpot Beer Cheese Soup

WORKOUT: Jenny Ford’s Latin Zoom

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BookList for 2015

I took a look at my Book List/Schedule for the Year of Growing Personally.  SUPER jazzed that the next two weeks are on the shorter side.   Speaking of which, let me explain how to gauge a book’s length on this list:

The numerical value listed under “length” is the number of locations on the kindle file.  For example:  Next week I’m reading Slaughterhouse Five, which is 215 pages in the mass market paperback format.  It’s 2,612 locations on Kindle.  This week’s Unbroken is 528 pages mass market paperback amounting to 8,990 locations on Kindle.  I clearly gave myself the shorter documents a week after a book that was on the rather lengthy side.

But then, shit went completely off the rails.  I’ve signed myself up to read Crime and Punishment in one week?  What was I thinking?  Am I a complete masochist?  

At the outset, I wanted to get a mix of modern and classics.  I wanted to be able to say I’d read pop-lit like Dexter and classics like Hemingway (because, I blush to disclose, I have never read Hemingway).  But now I’m starting to fear I’m biting off more than I can chew.

So...I might re-work this a little bit (emphasis on the little bit).  My mother has already vehemently suggested, nay COMMANDED that I read Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.  I’m opening up the table for discussions on the matter.  If you’ve read something on this list and you think it totally deserves to be there, let me know that I should not axe it.  On the flip, if you’ve read something on this list and you think it’s completely expendable, I’d love to trim the fat.

And feel free to throw in new suggestions you don’t see present, just in case too much fat is trimmed.

(sorry for the wonky format on the list, it’s cut and paste from a Word table)

Title Author Length Genre Week
The Passage Cronin 14,896 Horror/Zombie/Modern 1: 1/5
The Andromeda Strain Crichton 3,761 Plague/Classic 2: 1/12
Blindness Saramago 4,332 Plague/Modern 3: 1/19
Unbroken Hillenbrand 8,990 NonFic/War/Modern 4: 1/26
Slaughterhouse Five Vonnegut 2,612 War/Classic 5: 2/2
Heart of Darkness Conrad 1,451 Thriller/Classic 6: 2/9
The Poisonwood Bible Kingsolver 7,484 Religion/Modern 7: 2/16
Gullivers Travels Swift 5,287 Adventure/Classic 8: 2/23
Wicked Maguire 7,683 Fantasy/Modern 9: 3/2
Fahrenheit 451 Bradbury 2,190 Dystopia/Classic 10: 3/9
The Shining King 8,292 Horror/Modern 11: 3/16
Heart Shaped Box Hill 5,248 Horror/Modern 12: 3/23
Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky 9,916 Classic 13: 3/30
The Brethren Grisham 5,586 Thriller/Modern 14: 4/6
The Grapes of Wrath Steinbeck? 6,547 History/Classic 15: 4/13
Less Than Zero Ellis 2,494 Drugs/Modern 16: 4/20
Great Expectations Dickens 9,028 Coming of Age/Classic 17: 4/27
Time Travelers Wife Niffenegger 6,900 Romance/SyFy/Modern 18: 5/4
A Farewell to Arms Hemingway 3,138 Romance/War/Classic 19: 5/11
Catch 22 Heller 8,677 War/Classic 20: 5/18
Jurassic Park Crichton 7,879 Fantasy/Modern 21: 5/25
The Lost World Crichton 7,220 Fantasy/Modern 22: 6/1
Brave New World Huxley 3,322 Dystopia/Classic 23: 6/8
1984 Orwell 4,858 Dystopia/Classic 24: 6/15
The Golden Compass Pullman 5,610 YA/ Religion/Modern 25: 6/22
Never Let Me Go Ishiguro 4,019 Dystopia/Modern 26: 6/29
My Sister’s Keeper Picoult 6,130 Drama/Modern 27: 7/6
Room Donoghue 4,533 Family/Modern 28: 7/13
Coraline/Graveyard Gaiman 5,000 Child/Fantasy/Modern 29: 7/20
Common Sense/The Prince Paine/

Macchiavelli

1,000ish Political/Classic 30: 7/27
The Tipping Point Gladwell 3,639 NonFic/Modern 31: 8/3
Cosmos Sagan 5,509 NonFiction/Classic 32: 8/10
Packing  for Mars Roach 4,179 NonFiction/Modern 33: 8/17
Survivor Palahniuk 4,467 Religion/Modern 34: 8/24
Lady Chatterly’s Lover Lawrence 6,000 Romance/Classic 35: 8/31
Lolita Nabukov 4,468 Romance/Classic 36: 9/7
Requiem for a Dream Selby 3,924 Drugs/Modern 37: 9/14
Into the Wild Krakauer 3,250 NonFic/Bio/Modern 38: 9/21
I Am Legend Matheson 2,382 Horror/Zombie/Classic 39: 9/28
World War Z Brooks 5,638 Zombie/Modern 40: 10/5
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Graham Smith 4,982 Humor/Zombie/Modern 41: 10/12
True Blood- Dead Until Dark Harris 4,489 Vampire/Horror/Modern 42: 10/19
Ghost Story Straub 9,790 Horror/Classic 43: 10/26
Odd Thomas Koontz 6,389 Horror/Modern 44: 11/2
Dexter Lindsay 3,619 Thriller/Modern 45: 11/9
Devil in the White City Larson 6,484 NonFic/Thriller/Modern 46: 11/16
Let the Right One In Lindqvist 7,850 Vampire/Modern 47: 11/23
100 Years of Solitiude Marquez 5,961 Latino/Modern Classic 48: 11/30
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Diaz 4,104 Latino/Modern 49: 12/7
Middlesex Euginedes 8,921 Family/Modern 50: 12/14
Oryx and Crake Atwood 5,350 Dystopia/Modern 51: 12/21
Atlas Shrugged Rand 20,753 Dystopia/Classic 52: 12/28

Week 2: The Andromeda Strain, Salsa Chicken and the Dorm Room Workout

Already completed week 2!  Wish to hell I could get these posts out sooner.

So, while Playhouse has been off-the-charts busy this week and I’ve started a new part time job at an upscale condominium building across the bridge, I’m proud to say that my Year of Growing Personally hasn’t completely come off the rails.

In fact, I got this kicky new haircut!

But here’s what happened with everything else.  I promise this time to not be such a hater; In fact…I stumbled upon some real gems this week.  As it happens…

THE BOOK

The Andromeda Strain wasn’t one of them.  This is not to say that it is not an impressive piece of writing, just maybe not my flavor.  Let me explain.  The book is one of Michael Crichton’s first, written while he was in medical school.  It wasn’t technically the first novel he ever published, but could be considered his “big break.”  The “strain” mentioned in the title is an exceptionally virulent airborne microorganism that clots the blood of pretty much anyone it comes into contact with, rendering all others insane to the point of suicide.  The plot revolves around a team of scientists with Project Wildfire who try to contain, study and overcome the spread of the strain.  Wikipedia defines it as a “techno-thriller” but over 1,000 readers on GoodReads.com (1,620 to be exact) would classify it as science fiction.  Count me as 1,621.

I was expecting the type of story that was told in the movie Outbreak, I’ll admit it (which was also based on a book called The Hot Zone and is about ebola.  Mental note: Must read this later).  This book was much more science and much less fiction; in fact, on http://www.crichton-official.com, the profile for Andromeda Strain indicates that many readers in the 60’s wrote to Crichton asking him if it were true.  The style is mock-non-fiction.  Think Blair Witch Project meets the Harvard Chem Lab.  There’s a LOT of techno mumbo jumbo going on, lots of “status reports”, “contamination factors” and “bilirubin counts” and, especially towards the end, a lot of talk about amino acids and bases.  On the plus side, I feel crazy smart after finishing the book.  On the flip: I just couldn’t get that motivated to read it.  It read like a textbook.  Like I said: Impressive, but not my cup of tea.

This was my first outing with Michael Crichton.  I’d always wanted to read some of his work, because Jurassic Park is my favorite movie, as you’ll hear more about in late May/June when I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World before the premiere of the hotly anticipated quadquel Jurassic World.  Halfway through The Andromeda Strain I got scared: was Jurassic Park going to read like a trip to the Natural History Museum?  But then I found out that my husband has read both books and says JP dives right in and stays pretty suspenseful throughout. He felt the same way I did about Andromeda. Yay.

THE FITNESS

Was more up my alley this week.  I completed the Dorm Room/Apartment Workout to smashing success.  I discovered this masterpiece on Pinterest, no less and LOVED it.

First of all…it’s only a half an hour long, much less daunting than the hour requirement for Richard Simmons last week.  To that end, they even had a time counter in the upper left corner of the screen.  It was like my own private cheerleader coaching me on.  I took none of the wimpy “water” breaks that were so popular last week, even though, technically, I was doing (in my opinion) a lot of moves that were more demanding than Disco Sweat.  The only time I hit pause was when puppy Matilda broke out of her playpen and charged at me with intent-to-maul.

Speaking of which, when that happened… I was doing crunches.  You heard me.  I did the crunches.  By the end of Disco Sweat I had been so emotionally drained that getting down on the floor and flopping around like a dying fish just seemed beyond my dignity and motivation.  But something about the efficiency of this workout told me I could do it.  I didn’t make it through all of them, there were some that simply drove by with me still on the metaphorical curb.  But I did over half of them, and that’s a huge improvement from last week.

Overall, the biggest difference between Dorm Room and Disco Sweat was that the instructor prepared me for what was coming, whereas Richard vaguely described what was happening as it was happening.  I didn’t feel as foolish or confused.  Because it was designed to be done in a dorm room, the activity didn’t require as much floor space.  I even got the added kick of role-playing as a college girl, since the instructor quite frequently referenced “the cafeteria” or “carrying those books.”  What a way to make me feel young again!

The best part?  Two days later…I was still sore.  I actually am looking forward to trying this one again.

THE RECIPE

As many of you know, the man I married is a food snob.  I’m literally not allowed to make Kraft Dinner in the house, it offends him.  So, that being the case, I rarely ever cook, since most of what I concoct comes out of a box.  It is for this reason that you should be impressed with the Salsa Chicken recipe I cooked this week:

*blush, blush, blush*  You guys…I did it.  And…it wasn’t really even that hard.  Here’s the process:

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  Boneless and skinless?  Do I have to de-bone this myself?  Ok, Jason says no, just buy it pre-de-boned, as he “doesn’t think I’m there yet.”  Ok.
Salt and pepper
1 cup jarred salsa
Awesome!  I’ve got some peach mango desert salsa in the fridge that needs to get used
Juice of 1 lime
LOL.  I squeezed some lemons in there.
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
I’ve never used fresh cilantro.  Best to buy fresh from grocey?  Yes?  Yes.
2 tablespoons chili powder
That we have
1 teaspoon cumin
That we have
1 tablespoon honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
Cooked rice or warmed tortillas, optional
Ok, so I really have all of this just laying around in my kitchen.  
Essentially, the most difficult part of this recipe was finding the lid to my crockpot.  Seriously.  But, unlike last week’s Shepherd’s Pie, it got me a little further out of my culinary comfort zone.  I’d never done a crockpot recipe; I was nervous at first to leave the house while something was actively cooking, but Jason persuaded me to go out for a trip to Jungle Jim’s.  By the time we came back…dinner was served.  Also: I’d never trimmed the fat on chicken thighs.  This is one of the reasons I rarely cook meat: how do you know when you’ve trimmed enough fat?  The answer: (at least for this recipe) it doesn’t matter.  I’m sure I left a little too much on there, but five hours later scarfing it down…I never noticed.  Served it over some basmati rice and added some shredded cheese and a few lime tortilla chips.   Ta Da!  In the end, it turned out delicious.
And I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Here’s what’s on the docket for next week:
 

Week #1: The Passage, Richard Simmons and Shepherd’s Pie

So, my New Year’s Resolutions are off to the races!  I can tell already I’m bumping into time management issues, but hopefully, as I move on to shorter books (and a hopefully house-trained puppy!) those will iron themselves out.

THE BOOK
My week was mostly dominated by Justin Cronin’s The Passage. The novel was conceived, according to the author, because his daughter asked him to write a book about “a girl who saves the world.”  The plot revolves around an aggressive virus that quickly kills most of humanity, converting ten percent of the leftovers to rabid vampires (Think Zombie Apocalypse if the zombies were actually vampires).  It takes place in two different time periods: the time (in the near future) when the virus erupts, which takes up the first third of the book, with the remainder taking place 92 years later.  Both segments of the book focus in on a girl named Amy who becomes infected with (a version of) the virus and, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably figured out that she is the heretofor world-saving girl.
This book is long.  It’s quite long. It’s Sofa King long, really.  Longer than it ever needed to be.  Though the New York Times Book Review called it “astutely plotted and imaginative” I found it terribly derivative.  Most of the characters (and plotlines) feel recycled from other, more popular material (*cough, cough* Walking Dead *cough, cough* No, seriously.  There’s a colony of people living in a prison, for Christ’s sake). There were precious few of the characters, the titular Amy included, for whom I could muster any amount of empathy.  In fact, when Wikipedia informed me that, because of its similarities to Stephen King’s The Stand (SACRILEGE), many online had theories that Cronin was actually King working under an additional pseudonym I was hardly shocked, although I thought to myself “But the characters are so much more charming in The Stand.”
It’s possible I’m tossing so much hate towards the book because its length just made me genuinely angry.  You’re a vampire book. Get over yourself.  I have a friend from high school who wrote a zombie book that was much tighter and much less contrived with characters I cared so much more about.  In fact, I believe that book was a Stay-Up-All-Night-To-Finish, for me anyway.   Ultimately…my friend’s book is a much better use of your time, IMHO and no, I will NOT be reading the sequel to The Passage (Named The Twelve, presumably for the amount of days off work you’ll need to finish it).

THE RECIPE
Anyway, I still had a good 30% of the book left to read when I got around to making the Shepherd’s Pie on Saturday.  But I figured, “Hey, I’m not going to let this thing dominate my life” (Even though it TOTALLY dominated my life).  I made the pie right before we left for the Ascent Christmas Party (which went well, all things considered.  I ate a lot of meatballs and saw, perhaps the coolest ManCave ever).  
The recipe was, in all, a nice “starter” for my Year of Cooking Adultly.  Although, to be fair, I took a lot of matters into my own hands.  For example…
The recipe calls for 2 cups of Simple Potatoes, but…what is that?  Is that Instant Mashed Potatoes?  No.  And 2 cups? TWO CUPS?  It’s mashed potatoes.  I think mashed potatoes get offended if you don’t make at least 3lbs from scratch (as I did).
The recipe also calls for 3/4lb of ground sirloin, but I had a pound of ground turkey about to go bad, so…
The recipe ALSO calls for 15oz of kidney beans, but to me, those taste like paste wrapped in scotch tape, so I substituted half a can of peas and half a can of corn.  
The finished product
Overall, when I look back to the time I made shepherd’s pie, I don’t honestly think I’ll look back on it.  I’ve made mashed potatoes before.  I’ve made crumbled ground turkey before.  I’ve thrown differing things in concoctions of both.  It really felt too easy; in fact, the word “cop-out” popped around my head on more than one occasion during my hour in the kitchen.  But it was tasty.  And, even though my husband ate literally NONE of it, it was a nice, handy leftover dish to take to work throughout the week.  Anything with mashed potatoes makes the work day better.
Mashed potatoes: Making everything better since Ever.

THE FITNESS
I wasn’t able to touch base with Richard Simmons until Monday or Tuesday of the following week, thanks to The Passage. (I finally finished Monday night!)  I opted for Sweatin to the Oldies Disco Sweat.  And I declare, (and I think my fellow chubby compadres of the 80’s and 90’s will agree with me when I say) that Richard Simmons is not fucking around.    I took about four “water” breaks, which were thinly veiled moments to sit down on Sectional Chocolate and talk myself into not quitting (The fact that Richard repeatedly says “Don’t quit!  If you have to, go slow, but don’t quit!” actually helped, a little.  Not a lot).
Here’s what I learned from Disco Sweat:
So much enthusiasm!  I just…can’t get there.
1.  My living room is NOT big enough for this type of aerobics endeavor.  I maybe need to seriously consider a gym membership.
2.  Both of my dogs, not just the puppy but also Daphne, my cane corso should be banned from the room if I’m going to be able to really “go for it.”
3.  80’s aerobics were…kind of stupid.
No, really.  They were. I’ll take you through my thought process throughout the 66 minute video.
5 minutes in:
I’m probably going to have to let go of that pesky feeling of dignity in order to get through this.  
7 minutes:
Is that woman really wearing a Little Black Dress to work out in?
11 minutes:
Ok, seriously.  Now I’m just throwing my arms in legs in random directions.  If the neighbors see this, they probably think I’m having a seizure.  My dog certainly does.
14.5 minutes: 
First “water” break.  Has it only been 14 minutes?  Do I really have to keep doing this for an hour?
19 minutes:
MOVE, DAPHNE!!
22 minutes: 
Honestly.  WHERE is my coordination?  
26 minutes:
Second “water” break.  Seriously consider throwing in the towel.  There’s no room.  Maybe if I let Daphne on the couch…
28 minutes: 
I think we can all agree that Boogie Fever is truly the gem of this collection.
34 minutes:
Third “water” break.  I’m totally going to finish.  Kudos to all those people who are bigger than me and, yet, haven’t quit moving since this thing started.
35 minutes:
Thank you for saying so, but I really don’t feel beautiful right now, Mr. Simmons.
I Will Survive with waaay too On-The-Nose hand gestures
36 minutes:
Who is this hooker in the green shorts?  She was NOT there for Boogie Fever.  What kind of slacker is she?  Did he NOT think we’d notice?  What else are they editing out?
41 minutes:
Last Dance starts to play.  Richard says it’s our last dance.  Is it?  Is the remaining 20 minutes of video just inspirational speeches?  Am I truly almost free?
43 minutes: 
I feel like I never “grapevined” this much in my life.  And that includes three years of high school show choir.
45 minutes:
“You got the munchies, now you’ve gotta do those Crunchies!” Did he seriously just fat shame me?  Pause this shit, I’m going to take my laundry out of the dryer.
46 minutes:
NNNNOOOOOOO!!!!!  Crunches!  I’m not doing crunches.
48 minutes:
Seriously.  My neck hurts and I have no yoga mat.  I’m. Not. Doing. This.
55 minutes:
Ok, so I slept through the crunches section, not necessarily my strongest finish.  Cool down over.  I feel unfulfilled and somewhat ashamed.  But…wait.  There’s credits?  
62 minutes: 
Huh.  Apparently the Hooker in the Green Shorts (far left in picture above) lost, like…155lbs through Richard.  He truly is the Patron Saint of the Obese.
The real takeaway here?  Give me a multi-purpose room and potentially two or three friends to help ease the “I Feel Ridiculous” vibe and this could totally work.  Especially if you repeatedly did the routines and knew what was coming.  The part that made me want to quit the most, I think, was that I was stumbling all over myself with mistakes in the routine (not to mention clunky living room furniture and 95lb mastiffs).  
But I’m still not doing crunches.

And now back to my week’s reading assignment!  Stay tuned for next week’s adventures:
BOOK: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
See you next week!

The Year of Growing Personally

I hate cliches.  I’ve always preferred to think of myself as a Special Snowflake of an individual.  But, working in the customer service industry as I do, I’ve learned that virtually EVERYONE thinks they’re a Special Snowflake.  Most of us are not.  We like Taylor Swift.  We eat at the Olive Garden.  We wear infinity scarves and grow the ever-ubiquitous beard.  So, even though it’s a cliche, I’ve developed a New Years Resolution plan that will hopefully turn me into a Better (if not Especially Special) Snowflake

Of course I want to lose weight (or at least eat in such a way that I’m unafraid of dropping dead of a heart attack at the age of 40).  Of course I want to save money.  I want to travel.  I want to shop.  I want to get a hair cut and I want do every cliche thing that every cliche woman in every Nicholas Sparks-Hallmark Channel-FiftyShadesofPinterest meme does.  And I won’t apologize for it.  Here’s what I really want:

For years now, I’ve had an ever-increasing list of books that I wanted to read. But somehow, thanks to Facebook timesucks and Netflix bingewatching, I’ve never gotten to it.

For months now, I’ve been trying to get the needle on the scale moving back in the “losing” direction; it seems to be in an upward climb ever since I moved away from the pedestrian lifestyle of NYC and my beloved gym membership at Retro Fitness.

For decades now, I’ve been horrible in the kitchen.  I’ve listened to crappy, recycled music.  I’ve slept through church.  Procrastinated writing projects.  Gone into too much debt. Given excuses to get out of social gatherings.  Gathered too much clutter in my house, on my waistline and in my head.  And I don’t know if it’s New Years, a desire for a post-Holiday detox or the fact that I just got over the worst flu I’ve had in a decade…but I just feel like I can be a better me and that making a conscious effort to do so would make me a happier, more satisfied person.

SO…in 2015, I resolve to grow personally in the following ways:

I’d like to read at least one book a week.  I’ve developed a calendar that will be published in a separate post, but for this first week, I’m reading the interminable vampire/zombie novel The Passage by Justin Cronin.

I’d like to try a new recipe once a week.  I don’t have a calendar for this one yet, but…maybe, we’ll see. Just to manage your expectations, I don’t have a very complicated pallet.  Don’t expect me to be whipping up foie-gras or braising ox cheek or blanching anything.  That’s just not me.  Really what we’re going for here is a better sensibility on portion sizes and the ability to tell when meat is cooked without fearing salmonella and subsequently charring my dinner to a crisp.  First week’s recipe is this Shepherd’s Pie (but I reserve the right to change my mind).

I’d also like to try a new exercise once a week.  This one gets a bit tricky because, from what I understand, there’s only so many different ways to crunch one’s abs or deadlift weights.  I’m also at a disadvantage because, in favor of their newly renovated “gym,” (read: two ellipticals and a bo-flex), my apartment complex has cancelled all of our free memberships to Better Bodies.  Sad face.  So, I’m doing this a la carte.  And, because I was always secretly tempted to purchase the DVDs of it on late night television, I’m starting this bitch off with some Richard Simmons courtesy of YouTube.  Downstairs neighbors Kenny and Daryl, I apologize in advance for all the hootenanny.

And generally exit my comfort zone once a week.  I’m always expressing interest in seeing recommended shows or doing recommended things around town and then ultimately wussing out because I’d have to drive somewhere I’ve never been before or be with people I don’t know.  If there’s an obstacle involved, I can always find an excuse.  This week, I’ll be doing that by attending the End of the Year party at my new job, where I’ve met essentially no one except my husband, who also works there.  And, yes, you can expect this to get more exciting as the year goes on.  Especially around OSCAR time!  (Maybe that’s not very out of my comfort zone, but it’s my favorite, so suck it).

Once I’ve completed the week, I’ll post reviews about the experience in case you’ve ever been interested in, say, Sweatin to the Oldies Disco Dream.  Stay tuned!

For now, I’ve got to get back to The Passage.  I’m only 65% of the way through.