Friday, September 29, 2006

The Pursuit of Quality

I don’t know if I’m just getting used to being alone again or if my non-fiction "Life Writing" class has kicked my self-awareness into overdrive, but either way, I have found that lately, my minds focuses on me, what I’m doing with my life, if I’ve made the right choices, why I have either squandered or bypassed certain opportunities, whether or not things will ever "fall into place" for me. Depressing, right? I have always found this hyper-self-analysis to negatively impact my emotional state, though when I’m alone it’s an exercise I effortlessly revert back to.

I thought to myself this past weekend while sitting on the couch eating Chinese food, "Wow, I’ve been living in Chicago for a little more than a year and a half. Why doesn’t it feel like home?" This was followed by all the reasons it probably doesn’t feel like home: I’ve moved three times to three different neighborhoods in a year and a half; I’ve had two long distance relationships and spent many of my weekends flying back and forth from Chicago to Boston and then Chicago to Ohio; I managed to separate myself from my Chicago friends when my (ex) boyfriend decided to move here; I worked at a company for a year and three months that made me miserable and tired… I’m sure the list goes on.

None of those factors exists anymore. In the last three months, I mutually broke off my relationship; I moved to an apartment in a neighborhood where I plan to stay in until I can afford to buy a condo; I changed jobs and am now employed at an organization that aligns with my values and beliefs about work and, to a point, society; I have reconnected with friends. But it still feels like I’m only half living. Why? Because I’m still searching for something in this city that shouts, "You belong here!" But, I seem to have the kind of lifestyle that whispers, "You could pick up and leave tomorrow, roll the dice, find another city, and see if that one fits."

Gosh, I’m pouring out my heart to you guys today. Sorry. This post was actually supposed to be about "miracle cures" and my belief in them and search for something to cure my lack of energy. I do believe that everything in the body is connected and that my mental state is affecting my physical state and/or vice versa. My friend and I were chatting on Google earlier when she brought an article about biomagnetic therapy. Here’s the link: Therapy hyped for weight loss, cleansing effects.

This led to a discussion of acupuncture (which my family's dog Miss Maggie Moo has been getting since she was about eight years old, she’s now 15, for her back... I’ve seen this "miracle cure" in action even if it was in action on a dog).

Maybe acupuncture is the answer for me. After looking at a few Web sites, I learned that you can get treatments for improving your energy as well as your state-of-mind. So, I’m thinking about it. Why? I’ve got nothing better to do than to try new things and report back to my readers.

You may be asking yourself why I am a believer in the "miracle cure" and its bastard child "the quick fix." Well, a year ago, at the suggestion of a guy who dated a friend of mine, I picked up a book that told me I could quit smoking if I read the book with an open mind. I did read the book and I did quit smoking. And if you peruse the 100+ reviews of The Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Alan Carr, you’ll see a lot of other people did too (and yes, I did write a review). So, if quitting smoking, something I tried to do on and off for 10 years, can be truly be that simple, surely there must be other things out there as that will quickly improve my quality of life, right?

Well, I realize that question/statement may be a bit na├»ve or just lazy of me (I will admit I’m not a fan of the "hard way"), but we all have our faults and my justification may well be along the lines of, "It’s not like I’ve got anything more pressing to do." So, I’ll keep searching and I’ll let you know if I find anything worthwhile. In the meantime, if you know someone who wants to quit smoking I highly recommend the book (and FYI, so does Ellen DeGeneres).

Monday, September 25, 2006

Loserville Population: Me

And you thought it was bad when I went out drinking! Ha! Left to my own devices, there’s no telling what can happen.

Truth be told... I had very little going on this weekend. After finishing a hardcore cardio kick boxing workout on Friday evening, I curled up on the couch with some hummus and pita bread and watched Lost in Translation (good) and Friends with Money (depressing and abruptly ends).

On Saturday, I did my civic duty and volunteered to stand outside a grocery store in crappy weather asking people to register to vote (I got eight people to register. Honestly, most people are so turned off to any strangers speaking to them in public, I might as well have been asking them if they wanted to help me kill a puppy).

Then, in a moment of weakness, which I planned for approximately 45 minutes, I ordered Chinese food and spent some quality time on my couch with my TiVo. Of course, by 11pm, I was already in bed. How restful was my Saturday night? It wasn’t. I stayed up until 3:30am and finished the book Prep, which really served not only to rob me of sleep, but also to depress me.

Prep is about a middle class, midwestern high school girl who is accepted and offered a scholarship to a prep school on the East coast. I can’t say I loved the book, but it certainly sucked me in and evoked strong emotions (severe depression). If you've got some time, it's a quick, "can't-put-it-down" read and you'll definitely have something to say about it! I'm discussing next week with my book club. It should be interesting to hear what others have to say about it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oh The Places I'll Go

The last couple weeks have been sort of a “crash course” in remembering what it’s like to be single again. You know… going out to the bars with your single girl friends, wondering if anyone will talk to you, getting annoyed when it’s only losers who do, never hearing from the guy you gave your number to, and spending lots of quality time on the couch with watching Carrie Bradshaw lead a much more fabulous life than your own (admittedly you’ve seen her live this life seven times already, but it doesn’t get old).

I know what you’re thinking, “Lou, do you really think you should be getting back out there already?”

Ain’t no time like the present my friends.

I’m just kidding. Rather than describe myself as being “out there,” I would say I’m, “not in here” (“here” being my apartment).

More than anything, filling my days and nights with activity, including bar hopping, helps me avoid falling into the deep depression--not to mention the headache--that inevitably follows multiple hours of flipping between Sex and the City reruns and whatever is on the E! Network.

And truthfully, I missed the bars. It’s like reuniting with an old friend who welcomes you back without question regardless of the fact that you ignored them for a year. I missed the ritual of getting ready for a night out. And though it’s usually subconscious, I missed that feeling of “anything can happen tonight,” even though sometimes it’s a little disappointing when nothing does. But, the possibility is there. You pretty much know what you’re going to get if you sit on the couch watching “Child Star Confidential” with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Running and Writing, Writing and Drinking, Drinking and Running

I mentioned about a month ago that I was going to fill the void in my life left by the completion of the half marathon with a creative writing class. Tonight was the first class and as I walked home, my head practically spinning with story ideas, I had a thought that I felt compelled to share with my readers.

When I was training for the half marathon, among other runners, I was intimidated. Those early Saturday morning training runs were often humbling experiences when I would realize just how good “good” really was and how far I had to go to even begin to be mediocre. But away from the other runners, I was proud. I was training for the half marathon and just saying that out loud to people made me feel like a true athlete.

What I realized as I walked up Lincoln Avenue tonight is that I feel the same way about my writing. Despite the fact that I have experience and arguably some professional training, among other writers I feel intimidated. What’s funny is I’m never shy about telling people that I want to write and that I think I’m pretty darn good at it. But, in a workshop environment where people are invited to share their writing, I shy away from the opportunity. I hear other people’s work and I think, maybe I’m not that good. Maybe among writers, I’m just mediocre. It’s scares the hell out of me.

It occurs to me that I’ll never grow as a writer, and possibly a person, if I don’t put aside my bullshit and take some chances. Right here, right now, I’m making a promise to myself and hoping that you will hold me to it. Next week I will speak up. I will share some of my writing, whether I think it’s good bad or otherwise.

I Can't Even See the Wagon

August was a rocky month. The first week of September wasn't pretty either. It’s understandable that getting to the gym has not been a priority, right? Right. It makes me feel better if I come up with good excuses.

After several weeks sans working out (with the exception of a few visits to the trainers where I was forced to own up to my lack of willpower and motivation) I’m trying hard to recommit. Remember when I proudly announced that I had lost 10 pounds right before the half marathon? Well, I’ll spare you an analysis of my emotional eating habits, but let’s just put it this way… if there was a competitive weight gaining sport, I would be a professional athlete.

Point being, it’s become painfully apparent that if I keep gaining weight at this rate, I will probably weigh well over 200 pounds this time next year. So this morning, I made it to my new gym for the first time and ran on the treadmill for 30 minutes, which was more difficult that I expected. It’s amazing how my body forgets the months and months of working out and training after only a few weeks of slacking.

But all in all, it was good to get back into the gym. You know self-esteem and all that crap.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

But I Regress...

How did you celebrate/mourn the unofficial end of summer? I spent Labor Day (appropriate) moving boxes into my new apartment and I’ve got the bruises to prove it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, much of my furniture was sacrificed in the first big move and so the second big move wasn’t quite so big and my place isn’t quite so full. I did finally get around to buying mattresses last Friday. They are being delivered tomorrow, which means I have been sleeping on an air mattress since Monday. Not cool, especially since every 30-45 minutes the air mattress deflates. I might as well be sleeping on a tarp or a trash bag. True story. Luckily (if there is something in this situation that can be considered “lucky”), it’s one of those new fangled air mattresses that has an automatic pump controlled by a remote. I barely have to be conscious to operate it. And yes, it inflates while I’m on laying on it.

The apartment is slowly coming together… sort of. Did you ever notice that when you rent or buy a place you don’t actually realize what’s wrong with it until you move in? Well, I failed to notice one major pitfall in my truly vintage (they weren’t kidding) apartment. There is no outlet in the bathroom. This means that I can’t use a blow dryer, or curl my hair, or even charge my electric toothbrush. And I refuse to brush my teeth in the kitchen people—so don’t offer that as an option!

I’ll figure it out (most likely by creating a fire hazard like connecting extension cords to each other and stringing them across rooms). The apartment does have some charm and I’m a sucker for charm. And I totally heart my new couch.