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.

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).

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.

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:
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!

One thought on “Week #1: The Passage, Richard Simmons and Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Patricia O'Haver, LMHC says:

    Keep it up kiddo! :o)

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