Monthly Archives: January 2013

Feeling Productive

This last week went by in an absolute blur. Lots of work projects going on which kept me up to my eyeballs in Excel spreadsheets at work. A restless dog who managed to tear up a 1099 we got in the mail, then spread it across the living room. He also ate a bandaid, AND attempted to eat a plastic spoon from Wendy’s.

This frantic week also meant cobbled together meals and a lack of trips to the gym. It meant chicken strips at the bar on trivia night (one habit I don’t think I can EVER break). We redeemed ourselves this weekend, at least from the food perspective. And we still are going strong on our month of sobriety…thankfully we only have to make it through one more weekend and I will be able to have beer during the Super Bowl.

I finally finally FINALLY got to the gym at lunch today for a little cardio sesh with my work BFF. It showed me how freakishly out of shape one can get in a few months. We wanted to ease back into things after dropping off the face of the crossfit planet a few months ago, so we did 25 minutes of intervals on the treadmill, which left us enough time to shower after, pick up lunch at the local organic grocery store, and get back to work and still have jobs.

I remembered that the treadmill is effing boring today. I would NEVER get bored during a 25 minute AMRAP but shoot, pounding the conveyer belt next to a bunch of other sweaty people was NOT fun. I’m going to force myself to learn to tolerate it. I decided I need to put together a good, efficient routine of machines/weights and treadmill, something I can tackle quickly, that will get me back into shape and rebuild some muscle. My goal is to get in there three times this week! 2013 Marge is going to kick some ass.

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(Almost) Halfway through Our Month of Sobriety

I confess, I told MAYBE one friend that I was working on a blog, until I posted my book list post to Facebook. I wanted to wait until I felt “established,” and had some positive feedback (in the form of comments, likes, and followers) before I risked throwing myself out there in front of people I actually know. So HI FRIENDS WHO DECIDED TO READ THIS!

Anyways, Shayne and I are almost halfway through our Sober January, and are definitely feeling a difference. I’ve noticed that I have a lot more energy, I’m happier, and have generally just felt better since I’ve been completely detoxed and given my liver a break. And it’s getting easier to be in the presence of alcohol without feeling tempted. Last week we were at a birthday party and I was practically salivating at the sight of pitchers and pints. This Wednesday, I went to trivia night with my friends and downed about eight glasses of water without batting an eye. As long as I really concentrate on my water, I’m fine. I even cooked with wine this week without taking some swigs at the same time. I’ve also felt MUCH more efficient at work, which is great, and makes the days go by a lot faster.

Now I’m just hoping that I can slowly return to alcohol come February without going binge-crazy. Because if we keep up our trivia winning streak, we are going to have a lot of money at Coach’s to blow on beer and fried goods.

As for healthy eating, I’ve been doing so-so. I started the week off good, with a Whole Foods salad/soup lunch. But then I had chicken strips twice. A big ol’ dinner of delicious handmade stir-fry noodles last night. Lots of Starbucks stops to try and stave the migraine I’ve been fighting for three days. BUT, since Shayne was inspired by the results of his Dr. Oz 48-hr Weekend Detox (we now worship The Great and Powerful Oz in this house), we’ve been doing a lot of smoothies in the blender, and that’s been a delicious and filling snack. We’re trying to stay balanced. As I type this, I am ignoring my husband who is packing the remains of our Papa Murphey’s pizza dinner into the fridge…we were watching football, what can I say?

One last thing: GO SEAHAWKS

I’m brainstorming some more exciting things, things that involve pictures, I promise.

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My 2012 in Books

So last year, one of my friends reviewed all of the books she read in the prior year, and tagged all of her heavy-reading friends, so that we would maybe have some new ideas of books to add to our reading lists. I thought this idea was genius, and had been planning on doing it for 2012. Not EVERY book, because when I really get going I read about two books a week, but my favorites.  Thank GOD I started using Goodreads. Here are some highlights:

1. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Hands down, this was the BEST book I read in 2012. I absolutely devoured it. I confess, I stalk the Bestseller cart at the local library like a vulture, and I waited and waited for this to appear, as I’d read great reviews in a variety of magazines and newspapers. Finally, my dreams came true. We often hear movies like The Matrix and Unbreakable described as “mindfuck” movies. Well, this is a mindfuck book. That’s the only way to describe it. A psychological thriller focused on a marriage that’s not what it seems. A husband comes home to find his wife  gone on their anniversary, their living room turned over. The book goes back and forth between Amy, the disappeared wife, journaling the timeline of her marriage to Nick, and Nick’s thought processes post-disappearance. Twists, turns, shocking revelations…this book has it all. READ IT. IT’S PHENOMENAL.

2. Wildwood – Colin Meloy

When the lead singer of my favorite band write a book, I read it. Simple as that. And I’m glad I read Wildwood. First of all, every location is based on somewhere in Portland, so it’s all familiar, and it has a twist of The Decemberists quirkiness. If you don’t know, I’m OBSESSED with fairy tales, and this is a modern day fairy tale for all ages. The gist of the story is that Prue’s baby brother is kidnapped by birds and taken into the Impassable Wilderness (also known as Forest Park, to any Oregonians out there). Adventure ensues, as Prue and one of her friends journey to the “IW” and encounter a variety of talking animals, bandits, and woodsy magic. The illustrations are delightful, the story is equally engaging for children AND adults (anyone who knows The Decemberists knows that their storytelling vocabulary is quite advanced). This is the first book of a trilogy, and I’m anxious to read the second book, “Under Wildwood,” which has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months.

3. The Year of the Gadfly – Jennifer Miller

I love anything that relates to cults or secret societies. I also watched Dead Poet’s Society about a week before I read this book. In The Year of the Gadfly, Iris is forced to move to a sleepy town and attend the mysterious Mariana Academy, rich with history and dark secrets. Iris, who is dealing with a personal tragedy, finds solace in talking to Edward R Murrow, who encourages her to ask questions and root around for answers – who is Prisom’s Party, the secret society that orchestrates an underground student newspaper revealing “secrets” of teachers and students, and throws sociological flash mobs to show the students just how malleable they can be? What happened to bring the science teacher, Mr. Kaplan, back to his alma mater after so many years? As Iris gets pulled further and further into the darkness of Mariana’s secrets, I was drawn into a story that is at once a statement on modern youth and a compelling coming-of-age story. Another quick read for me.

4. Drop Dead Healthy – AJ Jacobs

I always have a hard time answering the question “What sort of books do you like to read?” I’ve started answering by saying “I love books where people do something for a year,” which pretty much sums up AJ Jacobs. In Drop Dead Healthy, AJ tries to become the healthiest person on earth by trying every health fad, minute research discovery, hot fitness class, etc., for about two years. His books are laugh-out-loud funny, as his family tries to cope with some of his zanier experiments. Since I’ve been on a health kick of my own, this book was especially interesting. Not as quick of a read as I anticipated, but engaging, humorous, and definitely an eye-opener. AJ attempted to change his own life for the sake of his Children, and succeeded.

5. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

Celia and Marco are two trainee magicians, locked in a battle they don’t understand, bound to this fate by their respective guardians. Their dangerous game plays out in a beautiful and mysterious travelling circus, The Circus of Dreams, that appears overnight and offers patrons unique and mesmerizing attractions. Marco and Celia are each integral to the circus, and as they become closer to one another, the lines of their mysterious game begin to blur. The language of this book is beautiful; every little detail described comes to life between the pages. A very quick read for me, AND I just learned that movie rights have been purchased. If the film comes close to the beauty of the writing, we’re in for a treat.

6. The Flight of Gemma Hardy – Margot Livesey

This book is an updated (and easier to read) version of Jane Eyre that follows Gemma, who is orphaned and abandoned by her surviving family after the death of her beloved uncle, first to a harsh English boarding school, then to a forlorn island manor to serve as a nanny for the wild niece of a rich banker. Gemma seems to have a knack for working with the wild child, which impresses Mr. Sinclair, who then begins to court Gemma, who learns Mr. Sinclair’s big secret and runs away. Does Mr. Sinclair care enough to come after her? Will Gemma be able to start over yet again, in a new town full of strangers, with no money and no friends? There are lots of negative reviews of this book and it’s Jane Eyre plot line, but I loved it. Maybe it’s because I’m married to an older man, but I find the love between Gemma and Mr. Sinclair endearing. I thought this was worth a read, for sure.

7. The Marriage Plot – Jeffrey Eugenidies

I’d been reading a lot of “fluff” books when I picked up The Marriage Plot, and it was an intelligent, thoughtful, and somewhat depressing breath of fresh air. A kind-of love story that starts off with students at Brown University in the 80s, Eugenidies paints a brilliant picture of that naive and optimistic sense of college intellectualism I remember so well from the not-too-distant past. Madeline and Leonard begin a tortured and dramatic relationship, Mitchell looks on while searching for religious meaning in his life and pining for Madeline. As the three hurtle towards graduation and beyond, Leonard’s struggles with mental illness create a heavy strain on everyone, as Madeline tries to play both concerned caretaker and supportive lover. This book was heavy, really heavy at times, but also really good.

8. The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Before you read this, read the first two books, The Shadow of the Wind, and Angel’s Game. Then read The Prisoner of Heaven. Then eagerly await the fourth book that Ruiz Zafon alluded to when I met him at a Powell’s talk in July. The translation from Spanish to English is beautiful, not at all jolty and jarring, and sucks you into the story of the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, a mysterious place in Barcelona that proves to be forever connected to the Sempere family. As in Ruiz Zafon’s other books, a mysterious figure appears, makes promises and threats, and it’s up to Daniel Sempere to figure out who they are and what they really want. The story of The Count of Monte Cristo is heavily featured, as we learn more about the Sempere family friend, Fermin Romero de Torres, and his sordid past. The Cemetary of Forgotten Books novels are my favorite books, hands down, and I gushed this to the author himself after standing in line for an hour waiting to get my copies signed. Read them in order, but READ THEM.

9. The Hunger Games series – Suzanne Collins

I put off reading this for a long time, but when I finally got around to it, I wondered what the hell I was thinking. If you haven’t read these or seen the first movie, you’ve been living under a rock. A messed up story about a society where children are forced to fight to the death to guarantee safety and security for their families, and the story of a girl, Katniss, who steps up to protect her sister and ends up championing a revolution. The characters in this trilogy are complex and engaging, and the psychological suspense is intense. Read. These. Now.

10. The 50 Shades trilogy – E.L. James

I debated whether or not to include these on my list, but ultimately decided that I couldn’t talk about my 2012 in books without them. Now, I’m not AT ALL claiming that these are outstanding works of literature, because that’s simply not true. In my opinion, the writing sucks. But for whatever reason, these damn books sucked me in. I read the second and third books in about 24 hours a piece. Despite hating Ana as a lead female character, something about Christian is just so likable.  Also, since the book mainly takes place between Portland and Seattle, I’m familiar with about every place they go. And let’s be real, some of the scenes are pretty hot. 50 Shades was a HUGE thing in 2012, and I jumped on the bandwagon for a while. I’m not (too) ashamed.

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I’m realizing that this list is all over the place, and that I should probably start summarizing the books I read AS I read them, instead of relying on my memory at the end of the year (good thing my mom got me that book journal for my birthday). I apologize that my book review skills have gone downhill since high school. It’s so different to read just for fun, after reading for academics for 16 years of my life. I love being able to read what I want, when I want. Now excuse me, I need to go get cracking on my 2013 reading list!

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New Year, New Me? (Cliche, right?)

Ahhhh, January. The month of resolutions, new beginnings, fresh perspectives, etc. etc. It almost feels cliche to simply write the words. After a November and December filled with stress, uncertainty, and illness (stomach flu followed by hypothyroidism diagnosis followed by bacterial infection followed by lingering cold), I had some much needed vacation time over the holidays to clear my head, relax with my hubby, and get things done around the house. We had a nice quiet Christmas, Shayne threw me a great birthday, and we had a nice, relaxed New Years with friends. We also had a lot of down time to reflect on the last year, and what we wanted to change in 2013. We do this every year, and usually when we review our goals the following year it’s a little depressing, but we are determined to break that pattern. Some of our highlights for 2013 include:

-Less alcohol. We both over-consumed on vacation, and it really opened our eyes to an unhealthy pattern we’ve developed. So we’ve gone stone-cold sober for the month of January. It’s been much more of a struggle for me than I anticipated, which is a little concerning to me, but I think I’m finally starting to feel better, clearer, and more focused.

-Less takeout/restaurant food/expensive indulgences. Not only do we waste a lot of money going out, money that we NEED for a down payment on a house soon, but when we go out, we eat like shit. Chicken strips and I have had a long, tumultuous relationship through the years, and we need to see less of each other. We are back to strict meal planning, lots of veggies, lots of fruits, and lots of water. Our kitchen is reasonably clean, and we’ve been cooking up a storm. Today, when I ate lunch at Whole Foods, I had a salad and soup, instead of the chicken strips and fries that are so delicious from the grill.

-We are vowing to LOVE LIFE this year. Struggling with depression and anxiety, especially during these last few stressful months, has really brought us down, and we are determined to turn it around. We are grabbing life by the horns in 2013! Balls to the wall! Go big or go home!

As for a more personal goal, I want to write more on this blog, in hopes of keeping myself accountable and also fostering my former love of writing. I hope to use this as an outlet, a mind map, an extension of my brain with a cooler layout.

Here’s to 2013, our Q4 audit that starts next week at work, and 24 more days of a completely alcohol-free me!

Happy New Year!

(this photo was from a more hard-partying NYE than this year, but I love it)

 

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