Thursday, May 29, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The first one I ever attended was a rally for Paul Wellstone, who was running for re-election when I was a senior in high school. I was still too young to vote, but our high school let us take the day off and provided buses to the Target Center because that day President Clinton (also running for reelection) was campaigning along with Senator Wellstone. That was likewise a very memorable experience if for no other reason than I got to listen to President Clinton, who was (and still is) a person whose presence was palpable, a remarkably charismatic man. The interesting thing about seeing Senator Wellstone was in the context of my own political experiences. I knew what I believed but I wasn't necessarily in tune with the greater political atmosphere then and comparing what he was speaking about to the direction in which we ended up heading as a nation is stunning. What Senator Wellstone spoke about seemed perfectly reasonable to me and completely aligned with my core values and beliefs. It was only in later years, after becoming more politically savvy, did I realize that people saw Senator Wellstone's views as progressive and somewhat radical. To me, they were what I expected and hoped for from my government. It wasn't until his death that I realized exactly who Minnesotans and the Senate had lost, and what it meant that Norm Coleman, the newly-minted neocon had won Wellstone's seat in the aftermath.
The second rally I went to was a John Kerry rally, which had all the desperation one might expect from a Democratic campaign in the fear-laden climate that was post-9/11 America. He didn't fill up the Sundome and I think everyone there knew he was doomed. Granted, Florida Democrats, I've noticed, generally have a much more defeated air about them than Minnesota Dems. What I enjoyed about the rally, that I didn't get around my school mates eight years earlier, was the sense that I was with among people with which I had so much in common, without ever having to open my mouth. I felt self-conscience going by myself (many of my lab mates are apolitical because they are international students and unable to vote anyway). My embarrassment was quickly alleviated when strangers started talking to me out of blue because we already knew what we could talk about, a phenomenon that rarely occurs in public outings. In social situations one learns to veer away from politics, unless a rogue bumper sticker or refrigerator magnet gives away one's leanings. Political rallies, where you can make profound assumptions about the core beliefs of the people surrounding you, are a lot like how I imagine church might be if I actually bought what organized religion was trying to sell.
That is why I felt no qualms about going to the Obama rally by myself yesterday. Since it was at noon on a Wednesday, Dean had to work and I didn't even ask many of my friends who have real jobs. Besides, as I alluded before, rallies can be quite, well, political and I didn't want to cause any later awkwardness for dragging someone along who may not be on board. As I expected, I talked with people in line around me and enjoyed seeing the plethora of creative Obama t-shirts ("Obama - he had me at common sense" was my favorite). The rally was extremely well-organized. We were let in nearly an hour before gates were supposed to open due to the lines and the approaching heat of the day. There was not really anything different in his speech from what I had been seeing snippets of on CNN. But it didn't matter. I was roughly 12 rows up and simply seeing him in person was awesome. We just exploded when he came on stage, and it was several minutes before he could speak through all the commotion. He even had to urge us to sit down so we could actually listen to what he wanted to tell us. The arena had this electric feel, like we all knew we were a part of something big happening. This connection with voters is what has fueled his campaign and that feeling was what made the event special. The feeling that I am participating in a political process where so much is at stake and where I feel like the people have a real shot at starting to take back our country.
Tampa has a very large African-American population, and if I wasn't in the minority at the event, it was close. Of course I've been listening to pundits and pollsters break down the black vote, the white vote, the female vote, the educated vote etc. etc., but it wasn't until I saw all the elderly African-Americans at the rally who had obviously lived through segregation and the civil rights movement that I was rendered speechless by the magnitude of Obama's candidacy in the African-American community. I support Obama because I feel that even though he is inexperienced, he has sound judgment, fresh ideas, fair approaches and brings a different type of politics into the race. I feel he understands the plight of the average American and can reach out to new voters, independents, and Republicans to unite our ailing country. I know that politics will change him, that I am being idealistic, that what he will actually achieve will fall short of the promises. But heck, sometimes it feels good to put your faith in someone, and I feel good about the guy I'm backing.
Monday, May 19, 2008
What is the nearest big city to your home?
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?
8 I'd like to do better, but I have a tough time. I tell Dean everything and I assume people tell me stuff knowing I'll tell him. Does that count?
Describe your hair (color, texture, length).
Dark brunette (almost black) , wavy/curly, getting pretty long
What kind of driver are you? Courteous? Aggressive? Slow?
Anxious. I'm too nervous to drive on the freeway and my general level of discomfort on the city streets is getting worse. Otherwise, courteous. I let everyone in!
When was the last time you had a really bad week?
Last week. Emotional roller coaster with the job search. Enough said.
Monday, May 12, 2008
But that's not what I chose to write about today. I decided to write about weight. You see, way back in another life when Dean and I were just starting to "get comfortable" (i.e. "let ourselves go a little") and I had to be put on antidepressants, the numbers on the scale started creeping up and up until the whole thing gave me such a complex I couldn't stand to watch anymore. But I couldn't stop eating eating either. I tried several times to lose weight the normal way, you know yo-yo dieting and overextending myself at the gym until I could no longer keep up that lifestyle.
Then I tried to go the more resigned, slow route of buying an exercise bike, and making proper dietary changes so that at least if I was going to be "plump" I would be healthy. Even riding the bike on a regular basis wasn't enough to lose the weight, but I think it stopped me from gaining any more. My frustration was so deep that it was actually a big reason I decided to go off the antidepressants because even my doctor confirmed that they were definitely impeding weight loss.
But no sooner had I gotten off the drugs than I spent the summer in Minnesota, where I vowed to walk around the lakes to shed the pounds. Unfortunately, Minnesota also has its fair share of excellent restaurants and food became even more a part of my social life and personal reward system than it is here. Not to mention that my dad and stepmom are phenomenal cooks who were more than happy to show off their culinary prowess while I was in town. Needless to say, I didn't lose any weight in Minnesota (if anything I packed on more) and I didn't even have the meds to blame.
Before Dean and I got together and before the medication, I never ever had weight issues. I've never been skinny, I've always had curves but the curves that got looks (and got Deano!) and I've always preferred to be voluptuous rather than stick-like. Unfortunately, its us curvaceous women who are often betrayed by our metabolism. That's why I felt like I had gotten slapped in the face when during my rounds at the doctor's offices in November I was told how extremely healthy I was, but that I could "stand to lose a little weight". Ouch.
After that when I was starting to think about writing my dissertation, I had a heart-to-heart with myself. The goal was "damage control", not gain any more weight before graduating. I thought it would be impossible to actually lose weight while writing my dissertation. I had less time to exercise and we'd in all likelihood be eating out a lot. The guidelines I made for myself:
(1) No excuses, get on the bike at least 5 times a week. I might not have as much time on my hands, but the mental clarity exercising brings is worth the time set aside to do so. Instead of the "breaks" that I would certainly allow myself while working from home, the mid-morning break was reserved for the bike. It became a routine for me to get up, drink a cup of coffee and work on my dissertation for two hours. Exercise for 30-35 minutes, shower, return to work. This actually made it a lot easier to look forward to getting on the bike (a "break" where I got to listen to podcasts for 30 minutes to clear my brain) and easier to return to work when finished.
(2) Since I was going to be eating out a lot, every meal had to still have a veggie, at the expense of one starch. I could still have a hamburger or chicken wings, but had to have a salad or steamed broccoli instead of fries. I did this more to keep my immune system strong. I don't even like french fries that much anymore.
(3) No more alcohol. Since I often worked late into the night, I drank iced tea with Splenda instead of beer or wine at restaurants. Once every few weeks I'd splurge and get tipsy at a ball game. But the "new tipsy" happened after far fewer beers than the "old tipsy". I was a cheaper date, too.
So the result? I was too scared to weigh myself when I started with this new plan. But after my pants felt a tad looser, I bit the bullet and tracked my progress for fun. I've lost somewhere between 20-25 pounds since November. I'm down two pants sizes and the great part is I've kept up my rules and have no intention of stopping. The only change I've made is to work out in the early morning because these days I actually go into the lab again. But possibly the best part is that Deano has watched me make these small changes, seen the results and about six weeks ago decided to make changes of his own. He has lost 15 pounds (I know, guys' ability to drop weight makes me sick as well) and is still satisfied with his eating and work out regimen. It's funny how when you stop thinking so hard about both weight AND food, the results start to show up. About a month ago I had lunch with a friend of mine who I hadn't seen in a while. Her first comment was, "Wow, stress agrees with you." That's the upshot.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Saturday evening Dean and I went to the Clearwater Thresher's game, where we laughed at the group date where the girls wore too much makeup and the boys too much cologne. We didn't pay too much attention to the game, just enjoyed the weather and the minor league atmosphere. The reason for our trip to Clearwater wasn't the game, it was to try the new Clearwater Famous Dave's. As we are both fans of Famous Dave's, this was a big development for us. We anticipate many more Clearwater trips before leaving the region. Each Famous Dave's has a different theme - the one in Uptown Minneapolis is like a St. Louis blues bar, the one near the University of Minnesota Campus is decorated like an old time gas station, and the one at Mall of America is like a rustic Northern Minnesota cabin. Fittingly, the Clearwater location is decorated like a beach house with old time life jackets and water skis. Very cute. And the food was just as good as I remember.
And lastly, we have spent the last several evenings caring for and being entertained by these guys:
They are the offspring of my last fertile female, and they are Dixie's half-siblings so it is no surprise that they are utter maniacs. When I first caught them they were pretty freaked out
But now they are playing and enjoy being handled. They are about 5 weeks old and into absolutely everything. They spend most of their time in a cage on the balcony but for a few hours each night I lock up our cats and let the babies run around in the living room. There is one boy and one girl. They have nearly identical markings. However, like most solid-colored cats, as babies they have faint tabby markings under their top coat. The boy has stripes, and the girl has swirls. They will grow out of their "tabbiness" though and be beautiful tuxedo cats in only a couple of months.
On Sunday they are going to the Animal Coalition of Tampa as part of their "Street Kitties" program. ACT will spay/neuter them, along with de-fleaing, de-worming and first round of vaccinations. Then they will go to PetSmart where I'm certain they will be adopted by the first person who lays eyes on them because really, who could resist?