Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's All In Who You Sleep With

This morning I got home from my workout and a fantastic prize was waiting for me. A FWB called and told me he has an extra ticket to THE biggest football game in the PAC 1o this year! So not only do I get to cheer on Oregon as they kill USC, I might get laid too! Oh, happy day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Parents Just Don't Understand

Most of you know that the kids and I have moved in with my parents to weather this economic crisis. Griffin and Molly are overjoyed. They get an acre to run around, chickens, a dog, a big house, multiple TVs, computers, and toys. Plus, dinner on the table every night at 6:00 with their grandparents. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Not so much.

Let me start with the good stuff. I'm living here rent free! My parents ask for NO MONEY in exchange for feeding, clothing, and housing all three of us. Oh, and they gave me a cell phone too. And I'm not the one who has to make that 6:00 dinner every night; it's only my turn two nights a week. I do get along with my parents superficially. We don't stray into any deep conversation, but we watch Survivor and The Amazing Race together. As long as I stay agreeable, everything runs smoothly. But here's the hitch: I'm not always agreeable. I know, you're surprised!

When I moved back in my parents informed me that I would be living under their rules, which is fine. It's their house. But what they failed to mention was that these rules would be the same rules that I lived under when I was SIXTEEN! Whatever they ask me to do, I must respond, "OK, Dad" or "OK, Mom," otherwise the shit hits the fan. That means any chore, at any given moment. It also means that they can do whatever they want. For example, my dad makes breakfast every morning and then leaves for work. I come in and the coffee supplies are out, the peanut butter, jelly, whatever. If he gets home later and it's his night to cook, I hear, "Jen, the kitchen needs to be clean for whoever is cooking that night." What? Then clean up, you stupid old man! They go out and get high on the front porch and the chips and bottles will stay out there for a week. I leave my mail on the table for an afternoon and I'm "not picking up" after myself. "OK, Mom." They gave me the cell phone so that I could check in and tell them where I am and when I will be home. If I don't, you better believe they'll be calling me. Here's the icing on the cake. They are both in their 60s and my dad has had a minor stroke. They both have NO MEMORY. So I'll tell them what I'm doing and they don't remember anyway! We've lived here four months and they still don't know what nights the kids are with Angus! Every fucking week, "Where are the kids?" ARGH!

LOL. I know, I know. I should shut up and deal with it. On the scale of things, I don't have it bad. I know people whose relationships with their parents are waaaaaay more fucked up than mine (I'm talking to you, Pitrey). But I'm feeling particularly crazy about it right now because on Monday we all leave on a five day trip to Disneyland. My mom got it into her head that my children "deserve a wonderful memory." What, taking them to eat at the pizza place with a playland is not good enough? So she booked flights and four nights at the actual Disneyland hotel. "Oooh, Jen. There's a Rainforest Cafe at the hotel! We HAVE to do that!" Holy Jesus, please help me!

I'm not sure why I am dreading this trip so much. It's an amazing thing, right? Except, it just one more thing that I HAVE to be grateful for. I have to be giddy about it or else I'm a bad daughter. What woman would be giddy about this trip? I'm the one who has to do all the packing. I'm the one who have to keep the kids on good behavior during their sugar fueled death march through the Magic Kingdom. I'm the one who has to be polite and make conversation with two kids and two grandparents for five days. I don't have anything to say to ANY of them! Oh my God. Listen to me. I'm full of shit. The kids are going to have a fabulous, ridiculous time. My parents are paying for everything. I'm sure I'll have fun. And I'm sure I'll gain back five pounds.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stupid Elizabeth Gilbert

Ok. I'm still in a great mood today, but here's the journal entry I wrote on a day I was feeling particularly bitter about the last couple of years of my life. It's ok to laugh; crazy people are funny, and I'm the craziest.

I hate Elizabeth Gilbert. She is a peddler of false hopes. You know that book she wrote? It’s complete bullshit. I read it right after my divorce/cataclysmic life-meltdown (or CLM) and I thought it was enchanting. An educated woman, freed from the bonds of marriage, goes on an exotic sojourn and empowers her mind, body, and soul, all while eating luscious food yet remaining beautiful enough to have romantic liaisons with a Brazilian. How absurd is that? In reality, there is no exotic trip to a holy shrine where one can meet a cowboy who will speak with the wisdom of Yoda. There are no beautiful Italian twins waiting to teach you the language of romance. There is definitely no cosmic hermit ready to reveal the true nature of your being.

I heard that Julia Roberts is going to play Elizabeth is the film adaptation. That’s the cherry on top. As if the book wasn’t enough of a pipe dream, we can imagine that we will handle it all with the beauty and sass of Pretty Woman? If, by some weird Hollywood accident, my life were made into a movie, they would have to find an actress that looked like the love child of Rosie O’Donnell and Rosie Perez, with the personality of Don Rickles.

After a CLM, there are many adventures in store, to be sure, and they are all educational in their way. Home foreclosure, bankruptcy, automobile fires, STDs, repo men, cancer, and abortion are a few of the things that were in store for me. I didn’t handle any of it with beauty or sass; there was certainly no grace involved. Did I grow as a person? Yes. Can I say that I am now free of the habits that put me in those situations? Hardly. But let’s face it, that’s not the stuff of an Oprah book. Everybody wants the transformative moment, where the heroine shakes off the blinders of the past and embraces herself as the goddesses she is meant to be. Catharsis!

You might be thinking that I’m bitter; this is all so much sour grapes. You’re right. I am bitter. Elizabeth wrote a beautiful book that I actually highlighted some of (but don’t tell anybody). I shouldn’t detract from what she went through, which I’m sure was intensely painful for her. What pisses me off is the way this book is celebrated as something any woman can achieve. She did this amazing thing by taking a year of her life to travel and sculpt her life into what she wanted it to be. What about the rest of us? Where’s the book telling me how to survive if I don’t have a glamorous career that will allow me to travel to three countries to find myself? Where is the book that would have clued me in to how crazy I was going to feel and the crazy-induced decisions I would make and the crazy-fueled places I would end up? That would be one hell of a travelogue! That’s the book I want.

Do I have to write it myself?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It Ain't Where I Been, But Where I'm 'Bout to Go

I woke up today in a good mood. I've decided that this whole process is like going through detox. Your body is kind of on a roller coaster, along with your moods. Anyway, I was psyched to try out my new, expensive running shoes that I bought yesterday. I went to a running store and everything, just like a real athlete! (LOL) I've been nervous with this running plan that I wouldn't be able to do each step up. Every time it called for more time or distance, I was sure I wouldn't be able to do it. But every time the intensity has increased, I've managed it with no problem. Today, I finally believe that if I follow the plan, then I am going to be able to run a 5k at the end. Which got me thinking, what could I accomplish after that? Hmm... half-marathon? Stay tuned.

On the career front, I got some disappointing news yesterday. My connection at the U of O informed that it's not a sure thing that I can be a research assistant this year. When we first met, I got the impression that she could hire whoever she wanted. The reality is that she is required to do an open search and as she put it, "some amazing applications have come in." I think that's code for: you can't compete, Jen! She said she would do what she could, but I should be realistic. At first I was bummed, but then I realized that it wouldn't be so bad to be an at-home mom this year and focus on my own personal growth. And I don't need the job to get into the grad program, it just would have looked good on the application. But I'm still capable of getting in on my own. I just need to buckle down, write a killer essay, and kick-ass on the GRE. I can do that.

And finally, Trish asked me yesterday if I've ever read, "Eat, Pray, Love." I have and I love it; I actually read it twice. But it reminded me that once (I think it was when I found out that Julia Roberts is going to play her in the movie), I wrote this snarky entry about the author in my journal. I want to share it with you because it's pretty funny, but I'm going to have to wait until I'm in a nasty mood. I just don't feel like tearing somebody else down today. We'll see what the roller coaster has in store for tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No More Medicating

When Angus told me he was leaving, after 14 years together, it literally felt like somebody had reached into my chest and tore out half of my heart. I walked around with a sucking chest-wound for a long time—2 years really. Little by little it started to scab over but it never felt right again. It was like the old part couldn’t grow back. Gnarly scar tissue could only cover up the hole. Then I met Robert and my heart started to bleed a little bit, like that scar tissue was getting pulled back, so I could let somebody new in. That scared me a lot. I thought, “What if I let him in and then we don’t end up together? We have to end up together or I’m going to end up even more damaged!” And I made some stupid decisions in my panic. Ultimately, my irrational behavior drove Robert off. So I brought about the very thing that I was most terrified of having happen. And now I’m left with this open wound again.

Here’s the thing that they don’t tell you about being healthy: you can’t numb yourself. I use food to self-medicate. Other people use alcohol or drugs. For me, it’s always been food. It makes me feel comforted and safe, like I’m doing something nice for myself. And also, I’ve been thinking that being fat was what I used as my excuse for why nobody wants to be with me. If I’m fat then it’s not because I’m broken. It’s because men are shallow, not because I’m too fucked up to be with.

But what happens when you can’t have the food? You just have to feel the pain; there’s no way to dull the feelings. Now I feel pain all the time. It’s not going away. I cry every day and I don’t know how to escape. You just have to bear it. It’s no wonder so many people use food, drugs, alcohol, or sex to hide. It’s exhausting and it doesn’t stop. And the worst part is the realization that even when my heart stops bleeding again, it won’t be whole. I’m going to have to learn to use a scarred and damaged heart. I know logically that it can be done and I’m most likely strong enough to do it. But thinking about the energy and grief that lies between me today and the day that I know how to use my heart properly is so demoralizing that it almost stops me from moving forward.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeling Blue

I woke up depressed today and I even emailed Robert. That was stupid because he only had a smartass response. I so badly wanted him to apologize and make things right. God, I have such a knack for setting myself up for disappointment.

I did go to the gym, and since my foot is messed up, I rode the bike. Then I did all the weight machines again. It went more smoothly this time because I kinda knew what I was doing. In total, I was there for an hour. That felt good.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not Much to Report

I spent yesterday in the Coast Range watching college football and eating cupcakes. OSU lost but still embarrassed USC, so I'm happy about that. Mostly I'm happy about having two good friends who are so generous with their time, home, and hospitality. Karin and Misty treat us like part of the family and always make us feel welcome. The kids and I had a great time hanging out, doing art projects, watching football, making cookies, and playing games. We stayed all day and over night. I think it's better to have a few great friends than a bunch of acquaintances.

The second date with Brian was interesting. I think I feel ambivalent about him or maybe just dating in general. I don't feel that normal drive to make something happen. I had a good time and he makes me laugh but there's no chemistry really. But I like hanging out with him so maybe that is what I need right now, just somebody to have fun with. And I'm sure I'm setting my expectations too high wanting romance instantly.

Oh a side note, while we were walking together on campus, I slipped and fell on the sidewalk. Besides from the embarrassment, my foot twisted in a weird way and is now swollen. I'm hoping I can still run tomorrow but I might have to try an alternative like the stationary bike.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Small Victories

As of today I've lost 10 pounds! Yay! I went to the gym yesterday and did my running plan first. Then I stuck around and tried all the weight machines. My thighs and calves are killing me today. That means I worked hard and that's pretty awesome.

Also Brian asked me out for a second date. I'll give you the update tomorrow. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I seem to be over my various ailments now. I don't have any more excuses to avoid exercise or eating on plan. Today I joined a gym. Well, I joined the community rec center that has a fitness room. It's a bit run down and the exercise equipment is kind of shoved in a storage closet area, but it works and it's cheap. They have about 20 cardio machines like bikes and elliptical things. They also have a bunch of weigh lifting equipment that I have no idea how to use. I'm going to have to do some research on that.

Anyway, I promised myself 20 minutes and I decided to try one of the elliptical things with the swinging arm bars. They have pre-programmed workouts, so I punched the one called "weight loss" and went to it. Holy shit! That was hard. Sweat was pouring off me. I wanted to quit so bad but I promised 20 minutes. Let me tell you, I didn't do one second more! I can see why the gym is better than doing stuff on your own. The programs or settings won't let you cheat and go half-ass. If the treadmill says 3 mph, you better do it or you're going to fall on your face. This was a good decision.

I commit to going every weekday morning. I'm going to drop off the kids at school and go right to the rec center first thing. No excuses. No detours.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Of Course...

Guess who's allergic to Tamiflu? I am now covered in a bright red, itchy rash!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Funny story... While under the influence of this medieval plague I forgot to take my crazy pills! I've been so caught up in fighting the flu that I completely overlooked my regular routine, which includes Cymbalta: Mother's little helper for depression and anxiety. So while I was battling real illness, I was also going through withdrawal symptoms. Hello, meltdown! Please excuse the last post for the raving hysteria that it was. :) On a positive note, I was going to call Robert yesterday (while I was blubbering) but instead I wrote that post. So at least it stopped me from making a complete ass out of myself.

Today is day 4 of Swine flu. I woke up without a fever today and since I remembered the Cymbalta last night, I'm feeling relatively clear-headed. My lungs still feel like they're filled with marshmallow fluff so I won't be exercising today, but I'm going to try it tomorrow if I keep improving. I also missed my Weight Watchers meeting this weekend, but I'm trying to be ok with that. I tend to quit really easily once I slip a little, so it's taking a lot of patience to be accepting of this illness setback. I just know it's going to take a large effort to get back on plan Monday, tracking my food and getting out for a walk/run. I typically am the first one to say, "Oh well, I've blown it now. Might as well throw in the towel." That has gone a long way in keeping me unhealthy. This time I'm going to say, "Oh well, I got sick. Today is a fresh start."

Do any of you watch The Biggest Loser or any of those "reality" weight-loss shows like Ruby or DietTribe? I'm kinda sickly fascinated with them right now. Anyway, I've been thinking that I might need to see a psychiatrist in this process. That's a recurring theme on all of these shows. And hey, who can you trust more than your TV?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Swine Flu Takes An Ugly Turn

I can't stop crying over Robert today. It's probably because I'm tired and feverish, but I miss him so badly... I can't get myself together. I love him so much and we were so great together. I keep thinking about all the plans we talked about for the future; what our life could be like. I can't understand why he cut me off. I know I'm supposed to think it's because he's damaged or immature or whatever, but what if it's just me? What if I'm not worth loving? What if nobody wants to be with me? Why is it only my girl friends and gay friends who tell me I'm amazing? That's like your mom telling you you're pretty. She has to say that; she's your mom! Meeting somebody that you're such a good match with is like catching lightning. It not something you throw away... Nobody is so damaged that they would throw love away, right? So, it must have been me. He probably wasn't in love with me in the first place. I wasn't worth the effort.

Crap. I'm such a baby.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Diet Plan From Mexico

Thanks Stephanie for finding the silver lining. I went to the ER last night with a temp of 103.8. They gave me tamiflu and codine. Then I had weird fever dreams all night. I dreamt that I couldn't breathe and I was convinced that it was because I'm so fat. I took one of my mom's new designer, pastel knives and tried to cut my fat off! Suffice it to say, I'm not doing day 3 of the running plan today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Short and Sweet

I have the Swine Flu! Going back to sleep now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That Didn't Take Long...

Today was Day 2 of the running plan. I woke up with a dozen excuses not to do it: it's raining, I have a cold, my legs are still sore from Monday, I don't wanna. But I did it anyway. I'm sure people don't like getting dialysis but they force themselves to do it anyway. And yes, in my mind, being lazy is the same as liver failure. I did the run but bitched internally the whole way. Towards the end I was picturing Jillian from The Biggest Loser screaming in my face, "Yes, you CAN!" I love it when she yells at the whiners.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Pillow Never Dries

Bad night last night; cried myself to sleep again. I have to figure out how to deal with loneliness. It’s crippling me. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the story…

Sunday afternoon I went on a blind date. I am constantly cycling through boys that I meet through personals. I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly, except that I want someone my age to hang out with and laugh with. I don’t have any friends my own age here. I go to the movies by myself, watch TV by myself, pretty much do everything by myself, unless I’m with the kids. Anyway, I think that’s why I fell for Robert so hard (who I also met through a personal ad). He made me laugh all the time. We liked the same things, so we just had FUN together. I want someone to have fun with!

So, yeah, Sunday I went out for lunch and a movie with a new guy. I thought we hit it off right away. We both read comic books, so we talked about that for a long time. We both laughed about our love of odd movies. I mocked him for his overuse of his iphone! We had a great time at the movies. (Side note: Zombieland is really funny.) He even kissed me goodbye. It was a chaste peck, but still, right?

I got home and wrote him an email that night saying basically that I really had a great time and I would like to see him again if he was into it. Now, he’s an IT guy. I know, I know. I have the SHITTIEST luck with IT guys. They leave gaping holes in my heart because they’re such immature bastards. (Cory excluded, but he’s gay, so that also screws me!) But, they’re smart, which is a basic requirement, and they laugh at my weird, black humor, which is also pretty mandatory. Anyway, an IT guy is going to check his email, right? Of course! He probably got it on his iphone the minute I hit send.

24-hours later… no response. I guess I just didn’t make a good impression. Or maybe I was too fat for his taste? Or not girly enough? Or who knows? But, seriously, wtf? He was really fun and maybe not THE ONE, but why can’t I find someone who just wants to spend some time with me? So I cried about it. It hurts so badly to be alone. It’s weird, I don’t miss Angus at all. I’m not even sure I miss Robert particularly. But I soooooo miss having someone to talk to as you fall asleep. Or cook with. Or mock Republicans with. What is wrong with me that I can’t have someone special?

So today is Tuesday and I woke up wanting to get this off my chest. And that guy? He emailed me in the middle of the night saying he had a great time too and he’d like to see me again…

Monday, October 12, 2009

If you want to be a runner, you have to run.

I hate to exercise. I've heard again and again how it gets better after a while the more in-shape you are, you get an endorphin rush, a natural high, etc. What a load of crap. I have always hated exercising and it never gets any easier. But that's not really what I wanted to write about today, I just had to get that out up front.

Ok, so a few years ago I read somewhere that when you complete a marathon you get a medal no matter what. Whether you're first or 397th, if you ran it in two hours or walked it in six hours, if you cross the finish line, you get a big fat medal. I thought, "That's the sport for me." Of course, I then discovered that a marathon is 26.2 miles and my brief fantasy of being a runner died an early death. However, I did take up the sport long enough to finish a 5k and get a t-shirt and that felt pretty awesome. I especially liked pinning the number to my front. "Look Ma, I'm an athlete!"

Fast forward to the present and here I am again wanting to get healthy. I know that exercise has to be a part of my life; good food choices are not enough to make real change. Besides, I still want a medal. So today I started running again and yes, it sucked. Nonetheless, I did it. I am following a training program called Couch to 5k and I AM going to run a 5k race when it's over. The end of the program happens to correspond with Winter Solstice and Eugene happens to have a race that day. I will be there, I will finish, and I will get my damn t-shirt. Then I'll think about that medal.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dr. J

Pragmatism has been my guiding force for the last 20 years. Every decision I make is weighed out and measured, and only when the practical choice becomes clear do I move forward. I could fill a page of all the things I've done or rather settled for because it was the practical, read safe, thing to do.

When I first learned that I was going to be laid off from Montessori, I went into a tailspin. Montessori is what I'm trained to do; it's what I'm good at; I love it. If I failed at that, what the hell should I do next? I knew I couldn't pick up and move to another state where the Montessori jobs are. That's not practical at all. Besides, I have a moral obligation to help the children have a father in their lives. He's in Oregon, so we stay in Oregon.

With no Montessori jobs to be had here and without a regular teaching license, I knew teaching was over for me. 6+ years of school and work down the drain. So demoralizing. In a complete panic I decided to take up a new vocation. I would be a bookkeeper: I like math, going back to school means student loans to live on, and it's a very practical and marketable skill. I could get a 2-year degree at the community college. I enrolled and took classes summer term. Done. The only problem? I don't want to be a fucking bookkeeper. "Best not to think about it. Let's go get a cheeseburger and fries."

At the end of the summer came the transformative trip to San Francisco. On the last day, I was lying in bed and Cory comes and climbs in with me. (After kicking Adam out for the day, which was ridiculously kind because if you've seen Adam you know nobody in their right mind would kick his hotness out.) We starting talking about all the things I was going to have to do, move in with my parents (That's a whole other blog), leave education, be unemployed, whine, whine, whine. Cory started telling me about his mom and the work that she does at the University of Oregon. She has a PhD in Education and works with advanced technology in the classroom. I got very excited and animated talking about education with him: my beliefs, my politics, what I would like to see for the future. For the first time, it began to dawn on me that maybe I didn't want to leave education. But a PhD? That's the most impractical thing imaginable. I would never consider it. No way.

Cory sent me home with a seed planted in my head and the contact information for his mom. I decided, what have I got to lose? I called Candy and asked her out to lunch. At first, on the phone, she explained how stupid it would be to go for a PhD when you are a single mom and have two young children at home. Uh, ok? Then she said, what the hell, I'll answer your questions. We went out to lunch and had a FANTASTIC conversation. I remembered why I went into education in the first place, I got excited about what Candy is working on, and I saw myself taking the path of getting a doctorate and working in education research. Long story short, Candy offered me a job in her department as a research assistant, which will lead me into a PhD program with her as my advisor! I left that lunch renewed. I'm going to get a doctorate. I'm going to do what I set out to do in the beginning: change the face of American education.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

250 pounds?!?

What the hell? This is me and Franck on the day I almost had a coronary "strolling" around the Castro. In reality, I was red-faced and gasping for oxygen. I honestly had no idea how out of shape I was. Denial is a powerful thing. My standard coping mechanism for depression is eating and then eating some more. I've been stuffing my face ever since Angus left 3 years ago and 2009 only saw an increase in calories. When Cory sent me this picture, I just cried and cried. How can I love myself and yet treat my body so poorly?

I joined Weight Watchers as soon as I could scrounge up the money. So far (first 3 weeks) I have lost 8 pounds. No more Burger King for me! Tonight, I went to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner and most of you know how remarkable that is for ME! I also started walking, which has improved my energy level immensely. Next time I will be able to keep up with the boys when they drag me up and down those damn San Fran hills! To get down to a weight that my doctor considers healthy for my height, I need to lose a minimum of 110 pounds. I'll be keeping you posted on what is sure to be a life-changing struggle for me.

So this is my "before" picture. Franck represents what I might look like "after." :)

A Journey of a Thousand Steps...

"They" say that you have to hit bottom before you're motivated to change. 2009 has been the bottom for me. It started with losing my teaching job. Then my doctor found cancer cells on my cervix. Next, the guy who I thought was The One dumped me. And all of this culminated in me reaching a whopping 250 pounds. Nice, Jen.

I tried to escape my misery by hiding out in San Francisco for a weekend in September. That turned out to be the best decision I'd made all year. It put me on a new career path, a new health and fitness routine, and gave me the slap-in-the-face I needed on my choice in men.

Someone once told me that if I have a goal, I should share it with those that I love because I might cheat myself but I would never want to look like a failure in front of people I respect. This person knew how ridiculously competitive I am. (No comments please, Stephanie.) So I am going to blog my climb back to mental and spiritual health for all of my friends to witness and hold me accountable.

Stay tuned for explanations and updates on what I'm doing. Please leave encouraging feedback and stern reminders when I get off track.

Love, Jen