Tag Archives: writers group

Satisfying My Inner Nerd

I have to blog right away about this weekend before I forget all of the details of why it was awesome.

First, I want to begin by including this video of Wil Wheaton talking about embracing your own nerdiness.

Well, writing, reading, authors, literacy, and the written word.  Those things make my inner nerd squee.

This weekend was the National Book Festival that was put on by the Library of Congress.  The festival used to only be one day, but now it is a two-day affair, which means, I spent two days on the Washington Mall listening to authors speak, collecting free books, bookmarks, and other paraphernalia pertaining to writing, reading, libraries, and the written word.  As an aspiring writer myself, I was in total nerdvana.

The book festival is an amazing, and free, event.

bookfest

I went to Poetry Outloud and listened to young high school students recite poetry, out loud of course.  Then I saw Margaret Atwood, Taylor Branch, the editor of the Washington Post’s food section, Bonnie Benwick.  And that was just yesterday.

Today my friend Lisa and I arrived early and decided we would camp out in the Fiction tent all day.  She wanted to see Khaled Hosseini, (author of The Kite Runner), who was speaking at the end of the day.  We wanted to get there early so that we could get good seats and just camp our butts there all day, which we did. The strategy paid off too, because we were in the first row.

As a result, I got to see Terry McMillan (author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale), Christopher Buckley, Adam Johnson, Roxana Robinson, Mark Halperin, and of course, Khaled Hosseini.

I took some fantastic pictures on my iPhone.  As an aside, I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the iPhone 5’s battery, which died on me both days.  I tried to be conservative about how much I used it.  I only tweeted one picture of each of the authors today and tried to keep my phone off as much as possible, but it still drained very quickly.  Inconvenient to say the least.

From a writer’s perspective, I was in total nerd heaven.  I was able to listen to several prominent authors talk about their creative process in how they develop their stories and decide what is important.  This is like, Inside The Actor’s Studio for writers.  They just share all of this with us for free. (OK, seriously, they are there to peddle their latest wares, also, but so what!  It’s still amazing!)

From a former fat-girl’s perspective…I do not even know where to begin!

I went to the book fest about three years ago I think.  I went with my brother and his wife.  I was so sick.  Between my asthma, inability to walk, severe back pain, this event was just a nightmare.  I had such a hard time getting around, and standing around was equally as impossible.

This weekend, I walked miles and miles.  My friend Lisa drove us into the city and parked at her office, which is about a mile from the Mall.  Then, we walked all over the festival and then back to her car.  We did that both days. Also, today, we met up with friends from our writer’s group and walked to Starbucks after and then back to her car.  It was not very far out of the way, but just a year ago, I could not have done any of this.

I also met up with a former co-worker of mine who I have not seen in more than two years.  Reggie is just the sweetest guy, and although we keep in touch on Facebook, etc, it’s just not the same as seeing and speaking with him in person.  He has followed my weight loss journey via Facebook and this blog, but he still could not get over how different I looked from the last time he saw me.  It was so nice to see the joy on his face and have him tell me how great I looked.  I love that my journey has made the people I care about as happy as it has made me.  I know they want me to be happy and healthy, they are thrilled to see me doing well.  I love to see that reflected in their eyes.

I hope you all find a way to satisfy your inner nerds.  In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the bookfest!

Me & Reggie

Me & Reggie

Bonnie Benwick

Bonnie Benwick

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Mark Halperin

Mark Halperin

Christopher Buckley

Christopher Buckley

Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson

Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan

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Slow But Steady

Well, it appears my scale did not fake me out this am.  I am down one more pound.  I did got on and off the scale several times, as I did the other day.  Then I went to get my camera, got back on the scale, and the one pound loss held.

I have to admit, I have become kind of obsessed again with what the scale says.  I know that I shouldn’t and that “numbers do not really matter,” but I cannot seem to help myself sometimes.

Fortunately, I’m not weighing myself every single day, just 2-3 times a week, but seriously, I need to back off the scale a little bit.

Anyway, here is the pic of today’s weight:

scale2

This is also kind of a momentous number.  I have crossed a new threshold.  I have less than 50 pounds to lose before I reach my goal weight, 49 pounds to go!  I can hardly believe that.

I was so good last night.  I went to my weekly writer’s group and a couple of us went out afterwards.  Now, I did have a small supper before I went to the writer’s group, but I still could have eaten up to 262 more calories.

I wasn’t hungry, I wanted chicken wings.  And I did recognize the difference and therefore did not order them. Wings are one of my favorite food groups.  OMG, it’s bad.  Now, had I ordered them, I probably could only have eaten one or two wings, maximum.  I then would have 8 wings to bring to lunch today.  Still, more wings than I can eat in one sitting, but I love wings, so it’s not a problem.  They would have gotten eaten eventually.

I did not order the wings.  I drank my water and saved my calories.  I did allow myself a teeny treat before going to bed.  I had one small square of really dark chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter.  Something sweet and tasty, very low in sugar (2 grams) and a smidge of protein.

Speaking of peanut butter, wow, I really love this stuff.  I haven’t had peanut butter for years in part because I had developed an allergy to peanuts.  Since the surgery and massive weight loss, my allergies have abated quite a bit.  I decided to give peanut butter a try again.  I went to Trader Joe’s and bought the all natural peanut butter that you have to stir.  (I’ve always loved that the all natural more than the processed stuff.)  I have had no problems eating this at all.  So, I have been having peanut butter and apples for breakfast.  My niece went apple-picking last weekend, and I have a whole bag of fresh-picked honey crisp apples.  They are so delicious and go very well with freshly ground peanut butter.

One thing I’ve noticed about peanut butter that I haven’t noticed with other forms of protein, it really keeps me feeling very full.  Probably because most of the 190 calories in 2 tablespoons of pb is fat, and not the good kind either.  I don’t care.  I still love it.  And I still lost one pound!

Strange And Fun Day

Yesterday was kind of an odd day.  I took the day off of work so that I could get caught up on cleaning, etc.  I woke up with a migraine instead.  I haven’t actually had a migraine in years.  I took my blood pressure to make sure that it was not elevated.  Then I put my glasses on and I realized that my face hurt and I could not breathe.  Allergies.  I took some allergy meds and slept off on and pretty much most of the day.

Then, I got up at 4:00 pm, took a bath, dried my hair, put on a somewhat cute outfit, and went out.  I had to finish reading an article for my Wednesday night writer’s group and I was meeting a fellow writer to talk about a project we are working on.  (More on that another time.)

I started feeling better almost immediately, partly due to the large amount of allergy medicine I had taken earlier in the day and partly because of the rather large steaming cup of cappuccino I drank.  I met with my friend and we had a productive meeting, and then we went to the writer’s group and that was pretty great too.

After writer’s group, we went to Busboys & Poets restaurant and hung out for a good long time.  We had so much fun.  There was lots of laughter and fun, as well as some drinking.  One of our members is moving to Europe for a couple of years.  She got a new job there and has signed a contract for two years.  We will all miss her, but this is a great opportunity for her.

Everything was right in my neighborhood so I could walk everywhere.  I think that’s pretty darn awesome.  I love being able to walk everywhere now.  When you lose the ability to move around easily and then get that ability back, you really appreciate having the ability to walk and not rely on cars/other people to get around.  It also makes you appreciate the people you have in your life who put up with you when you were unable to walk well.  I have the greatest friends.  I really do.  They all celebrate my return to health and cheer me on all of the time.

I also offered a ride home to a friend of mine who lives just across the highway from me.  Since I had walked to all of the events, we had to walk up the giant hill to my apartment building to get my car.  Now, if you all remember, in December, I bought a Smart Car.  Downside to the Smart Car, it only holds two people.  Kind of like a sporty European car, but somewhat less cool.

Our friend Jim walked up the hill with us and was just going to walk back down the hill to his car.  Well, my other friend Sush, wouldn’t hear of it.  She insisted that we drive him back down to his car.  So, Sush climbed into the “hatch” part of the Smart Car and Jim sat in the only other seat in the car that was not mine.  I have to admit, I was kind of terrified for Sush.  Fortunately, the garage where he was parked was not that far away, but it was a hilarious ride.  Everything worked out just fine, thank goodness!

I had such a great time last night.  I’m glad I made it out of the house and hung out with my friends, even if my apartment is still a mess!  Oh well, that’s what weekends are for.  Happy Friday-Eve!

Strange Encounters

So, I am going to take a risk and describe an odd encounter I had this weekend.

As I posted before, I went to Pittsburgh this weekend to help my mom.  I took her out for coffee Saturday night because she kept asking me if we were supposed to go out and do something else that day.  I could not remember any specific thing we had scheduled, but I took her questions as a desire to get out of the house for a bit.  We went to the evil corporate coffee bar down the street from her house, which despite its innate evilness, I really secretly like.

She ordered her cafe mocha and I had my cappuccino with a liberal serving of cinnamon sprinkled on top.  We sat there for quite a while talking about books, movies, life, etc.  when a man approached my mother, pointed to her broken arm, and asked if the other guy looked worse.  He was an attractive, middle-aged man, I’m guessing late 40s early 50s, (my mother is nearly 20 years his senior).  We all laughed and my mother implied that she pulverized “the other guy” in the mythical fight he was implying she had.

He then talked to both of us jokingly and then went off to his own corner of the coffee shop.  I continued having a nice long talk with my mom.

When we got up to leave, he came running across the store.  He told us that he is a writer and had been working on an essay.  He wanted to know if we would give him our thoughts on what he wrote.  My mom interjected, “Oh really! My daughter is a writer!” she exclaimed, pointing at me.

“Well, I’m trying to be one,”  I stated shyly, a little embarrassed that my mom overstated my writing career in an overly obvious attempt to get me a date.

We had a brief conversation about my nonexistent writing career and went over to his table to review his essay, which he insisted on reading aloud to us.  I would have preferred to read it and give him my comments, but whatever.  It was a pretty good essay and I gave him my thoughts.  Then we talked about his book.  He had a copy of a book with him which he had “compiled.”  It’s a book of inspirational quotes.  That’s not really my cup of tea, but I do know some people who like that kind of thing.

Throughout this whole encounter, I thought he was flirting with my mom.  She is a beautiful woman, but she’s 19 years older than him.  Some guys go for that, I guess, but I still found it a little strange.  My mom, on the other hand thought he was flirting quite a lot with me.  She said it was obvious he was just being nice to her hoping that if he made a good impression on the mom, that would go a long way to getting in with the daughter.

I don’t know.  I am not good at knowing when men are flirting with me, mostly because I am not used to it.  Nobody really flirted with the fat girl I used to be.  Plus, I looked horrible on Saturday.  My hair, which I had not washed that day, was pulled up in a pony-tail, and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.  I was not wearing appropriate date-finding attire.  He did give me an autographed copy of his book.  (He did not give one to my mom, a fact she has continually pointed out.)  Which makes me pretty sure he was mostly digging for a good rating on Amazon, which let’s face it, I’d do a little  bit of flirting myself if I thought someone would read my (nonexistent) book and give me 10 stars on Amazon.  A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, right?

Although, he did give me his business card and asked my opinion on where I thought he could send his story to be published.  Clearly, this is a sign.  OK, maybe not.

Still, it was nice to be flirted with even if just a little bit.

Eating On The Road

Eating when away on a business trip is crazy.  It has been years since I have had to do this.  I had forgotten just what a difficult experience it could be for someone who is trying to eat healthier.

First, I stressed out about the flight and airport/airline food and water, not to mention my potential lack of protein/vitamin supplements. That actually ended up being OK.  I was able to take vitamins and protein bars through security and onto the plane.  I also had a few supplemental protein bars and my standard vitamin supply packed in my checked bag for my stay in Dallas.  I was able to get a bottle of water and lunch just near my gate.  I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare so that I could have lunch before my flight boarded.

As an aside, I just have to insert here what a joy it was to fit in the airline seat like a normal person and not need a buckle extender.  I was even able to cross my legs.  Of course, I’m 5’1″ and I have short lets, so I’m sure that helped.  I also managed to scam a seat in the third row of coach due to my upgraded “gold” status.  I have to somehow manage to get that every year because it made the whole airline experience much more pleasant.

Once I arrived at the hotel, the whole diet thing fell apart.  I got some chicken wings at the hotel restaurant.  They were the best wings I have had in a very long times, and I’ve had wings a couple of times since the surgery.  They give you ten of them, I could only eat 4 1/2 with the celery and carrots.  And the sauce that came on the side was phenomenal.  I ordered the sweet and spicy Thai wings, but I think they just brought me the regular buffalo, which was fine by me because they was scrumptious.

Then there was the breakfast buffet.  I did OK at first, I had a tiny bit of scrambled eggs with some spicy salsa on them and mixed fruit.  Then I had two pieces of bacon.  OMG!  What was I thinking!  Well, I came to my senses by lunch and got a small salad with cranberries, blue cheese, and chicken.  Then a side of cheese for my protein snack in the afternoon.

The sales rep took us out to dinner to this very nice Italian restaurant.  Of course I cannot have pasta, so I ordered the artichoke encrusted steak medallions with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.  I can’t have the mashed potatoes either.  I mean, I guess I could have a little bit of them now, but because they are starchy, they have been on the restricted list.  I ate most of the vegetables and one of the steak medallions.  They were 1 1/2 or maybe 2 inches around, but man they just seemed huge to me.  Then the server packed them up for me to take back to the hotel, but really, I’m not sure what I am going to do with them.  (yes, I have a refrigerator in the room)  I’m not sure I want to have red meat two days in a row.  That might be a bit much.  Plus, I’m going out to dinner tomorrow with a writer’s group friend who recently moved back to Texas for some Tex-Mex food.

Don’t even get me started on all of the decaf cappuccinos I’ve had today.  Well, OK one of them had caffeine!

I had to hit the exercise room after dinner tonight.  I rode the bike for 30 minutes and did another 5 minutes of cool down.

I am just not used to eating out this much.  OK, maybe once or twice a week I will got to the buffet place near my office for lunch.  But still, I usually get salmon and vegetables or the chicken with broccoli.  I stick to the plan, though.  Low fat foods.  Protein and veggies.  After my emotional binge eating last week, I have been very strict with myself about the food I eat.  The last thing I want to do after everything I have been through since October is go back to where I was before the surgery.

I have to do better tomorrow.  I sure will be glad to go home!

WTF? Randomness

So, this is me today…

http://www.queenofwands.net/d/20050408.html

I guess you could say that I am a bit cranky.  It started off as a good day, so I’m not quite sure how I got here.  Well, no that’s not exactly true.  I kind of do.

I was up at about 7am and had breakfast, which consisted of a bit of leftover chicken saag from the Indian restaurant I went to the night before.  I was basically full after about four bites.  I turned the news on and then immediately fell back asleep.

Then I had the strangest dream about the house where I grew up.  My mother sold the house oh about 27 years ago, but it still lives large in my memory I guess.  We lived there from the time I was in first grade until after I graduated high school.  When my mom remarried, we moved and sold the house.

In my dream, my brother and sisters and I went through all of the empty rooms finding memories and keepsakes from our childhood.  It was almost as if we were saying goodbye to the house for the last time.  I awoke with the strangest feelings; a little bit of sadness; a little bit of relief; a sense of release and freedom.  It was a little bit unsettling.

I’m not sure what precipitated that dream.  Maybe it had something to do with the workshop I gave this week where I discussed how I use my real life events and create fictional stories out of them.  During the workshop, I discussed one of my stories and the true story on which it was based.  I also mentioned that I wrote a personal essay about the true story.  Someone asked me which helped explore my feelings about the incident, the fictional piece or the essay.  After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said that I found the personal essay to be a better vehicle for exploring my feelings because I could really tell the truth about the incident for the first time.  I felt a stronger sense of catharsis after writing the essay than the short story.  Of course, I wrote the story about 6 years ago and I wrote the essay about a month ago, so the feelings I explored in the essay are more immediate.  In truth, after writing the essay, I really felt as if I could let go of the incident for probably the first time in my life.

What is this incident you ask?  Well, when I was in high school, there was a boy who was in my circle of friends that I had a crush on.  Before I could really have a chance to find out if he felt the same or go through the normal teenage process of having a crush and getting over it when you find out that he does not feel the same, he died.  He was riding his bike and made an illegal turn the wrong way down a one way street and was hit by an oncoming van.

I can honestly say that I never really got over that.  While it has been many, many years since I actively thought about him every day, I know that the incident has affected me my entire life.  Somehow, writing all of my feelings down and sharing the essay with others seemed to lift this invisible cloud I have been living under.  I suddenly feel open to life and the possibilities that it holds.  I have not felt way in a very long time.

My friends have commented on the change in me too.  I know that losing 97 pounds has a lot to do with that change.  They know that I am writing more, walking more, getting out into the world, etc.  A friend of mine told me recently that it’s as if the extra weight was pushing me down, keeping me from living my life.  She talked about how I am much more confident and happy.

Also during the workshop, I share an embarrassing amount of personal information about myself.  I have felt a little bit self-conscious about that, I have to admit.  It could not be helped.  When one is discussing how they use their personal life to create fiction, one ends up talking about their personal life.  I talked about the bullying that I went through as a child in school.  I talked about the death of my friend.  I talked about changing schools.  I talked other childhood friends I have had.  So, I guess it’s not such a stretch that I would dream about my old house and about saying goodbye to old ghosts.

Now back to the link above and the strangeness of today…

I guess I have been sorting out all of these feelings all morning.  First, I realized that I left my iPhone charger at work.  So, I had to go out and get a new chord for the i5 because all of my i3 phone cords do not fit the i5.  Irritating.  I went to Target to see if they had any cords.  They claim to sell accessories for the i5.  Well, I should say that I went there against my better judgement.  I should have known better after their insult to fat people incident.  I had vowed never to shop there again after the manatee gray dress event.  I already hate their selection of plus sized clothes, did they really need to add further insult to injury?  Well, I should have stuck with my initial instinct, which was not to shop at Target for anything.

I walked over to the electronics section, where all of the sales people were all playing with a scaffold staircase thingy that moves up and down to allow them to reach stuff on higher shelves.  So, ten people standing around goofing off and not one of them came over to help me.   Finally, someone did.

When I asked him about cords for the i5, he proceeded to lecture me about being sure that I use only Apple products.  He then further explained how the i5 has a magnetic connection and why it is important to use their products on the phone.

Don’t care.  Not what I was asking.  I only wanted to know, did they have an Apple i5 cord to sell me.  I tried to interrupt him several times to find this out, but he was on a mission apparently.  Finally, I just talked over him, and said, “Fine! Fine! Do you have one?”  At which point he just laughed and said, “No, we’ve been sold out for weeks.”

Seriously?  Was the diatribe necessary?  Couldn’t he have just told me that upfront?  I was never asking about any other type of cord.  I really hate it when I ask for something, and the idiot guy working in the store feels he needs to explain to the stupid woman why she does not want what she came in for.  I was really irritated after that.  I was hoping to avoid going to the Apple store.  I did not want to go there.  The store is in Clarendon.  The traffic sucks and I usually have to pay for parking.  It’s a mess.  But, I did it.  I have my cord and can charge my phone.

In truth, I was probably still feeling the effects of my dream and the strange feelings I had when I got up this am.  But, now I have had some coffee, had my protein snack, and I am at my new favorite cafe writing.  I am already starting to feel better.

I survived!

No, I did not have to be rushed to the hospital for anxiety because I had a public speaking gig on Wednesday.  I survived it and it actually went pretty well.  I did nervously race through all of my remarks in about 20 minutes, which was kind of hilarious.  The leader of the writing group did notice that too.  He just smiled at me and he and another writer actually helped me out by starting a very detailed and lively discussion about my writing “process.”  Everyone asked me a lot of questions as if I am some kind of expert.  Ha! I was actually very comfortable with answering questions, so that went very well. 

The workshop was called From Real Life to Fiction.  I have taken a lot of my own real life events and then fictionalized them, often creating completely different stories.  Some have been pretty good and others not so much.  One story actually received honorable mention in a contest, so I guess that’s something. 

But enough about writing…onto weight loss.

I am down to 201.  That’s a total of 97 pounds.  I am surprised that I lost anything at all this week, I have been very bad food-wise.  One day I actually ate quite a lot, which is not good.  I have also had trouble keeping myself on a normal eating schedule.  I’ve just been so busy.  Plus I have been feeling very bloated.  But on the flip side, the chronic constipation has abated.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep that at bay. 

I am kind of excited about the 201 mark.  In just 2 pounds, I will be in territory I have not seen in more than 20 years…below the 200 mark!  It’s kind of a big deal.  Ok, let me be honest here…it’s more than kind of a big deal…it’s a ginormous deal!  I am also freaking out just a little bit, too.  Dropping below the 200 pound mark somehow makes it all seem like this is all really going to happen.  I am really finally going to be thin, whatever that means.  I have not been “thin” since my early 20s. 

It’s weird, because I never thought of myself as thin when I was younger.  In high school, I weighed about 125-128-ish.  College, my weight went up to about 130-140-ish.  At 140, I may have been a little bit chubby, but I certainly was not fat.  I certainly thought I was, however. 

Self image is a strange thing.  I guess sometimes it is easier to believe the negative stuff.  I know I did for a long time.  I am trying to change that, though.  I still struggle with it, but I try to keep telling myself over and over again all of the things that I want to be as if they are true.  I am thin.  I am beautiful.  I am healthy.  I am smart.  I am a good writer.  I am successful.  I am loveable.  I am confident.

I don’t always feel these things, but I try.  Maybe if I keep telling myself this, I will truly begin to believe them.  Maybe if I keep it up long enough, they will all one day be true.

Enjoy some cherry blossoms.  It rained today, so they are all most likely gone already. 

Cherry Blossoms