The Great Battle

June 10, 2011

Things I find it nearly impossible to do while in a relationship:

1.)    Lose any significant amount of weight. Not a few pounds here or there, but significant weight.

2.)    Well…no, that’s really about it. Truly. It is a crazy phenomenon brought on by a number of things, and after talking to many others about this, I’ve found it isn’t singular to me. Not nearly.

3.)    Yeah, no seriously—just that.

Now, there are a number of factors that go into this phenomenon. Because when single, despite certain genetic—oh, we’ll call them “gifts,” but they will refer to things like curves—I find I tend to lose weight pretty easily by tweaking any number of behaviors. When I’m putting even moderate amounts of effort and/or money into it. Not that I wish to get rid of my curves, mind you, gentle reader. I usually quite like them, and I think they’re highly undervalued in this society’s media. (Curves in general, not mine in specific. Actually, you know what? Fuck. Mine in specific. YOU WILL APPRECIATE MY CURVES, AND YOU WILL LIKE IT!) But my healthier ideal weight is probably around the one I lied about on my driver’s license, so I’d at least like to get to that place.

But when I’m single, I have more money and effort to put into keeping a certain weight.

And aside from having effort and money to put into losing weight when single, I also find that I just lose some weight in general as a singleton, even without the added effort. This is because when I’m bored or anxious/tripping on the paranoia one can only achieve while living alone and realizing that having not left your apartment all Sunday means you haven’t actually heard the sound of anyone’s voice—not even your own—for over 24 hours, I tend to spend all my free time walking. I do love walking to alleviate unpleasantness. It’s so cathartic.

For example, my anxiety and paranoia while single might manifest like so: “Dear god—I haven’t had sex in two months. TWO MONTHS! Wow. Like, I don’t even really miss it…I just didn’t notice. Oh my god, come to think of it, I read once that there’s a pheromone you emit when you’ve been having sex regularly that attracts the opposite sex. Can they smell my sexual inactivity? Is my singleness repelling people??!”  (Said in my apartment alone, talking to my plants.)

And a walk—ooo, a walk just takes all the nasty craziness away and replaces it with sanity and clarity of thought. Like, “Ahhh. Much better now. Frightening paranoia has ended; I’ll just suck on these juicy beta endorphins for the next hour and go sweetly to sleep.” It just clears the air. A walk is like the Glade air freshener of my fetid psychological miasma. That’s poetry. I may stitch that on a pillow.

Only, since being in a relationship, when I’m feeling anxious, there is another sentient being in the apartment at most times who tends to quell the emotional baddies much better than my plants ever did (who still have yet to put a nice arm around me when I’m sad. So, you know what? I quit watering them. Yeah, screw you, you heartless bastards). And when I’m bored while in a relationship, my sig’ o’ and I just do something or watch something together. I’m not complaining; it’s lovely. I just now have no motivation to go walk out of general malaise until I’m too tired to remember what was bugging me. And that seems to rule out just losing weight without really trying.

In in a relationship, there never seems to be enough of anything to accomplish significant weight loss when I am really trying: free time, money, superfluous energy, etc. Even when I feel like I’m putting lots of energy and focus into it, it does not happen. And it’s so irritating; I eat sensibly. My portions aren’t large; I almost never like fried foods or things in butter; the only meats I usually eat are chicken, turkey, or fish—again, not in butter or fried; I seldom go back for seconds; I don’t often fancy dessert; I like vegetables and healthier options generally whenever possible; and I’ve cut out copious amounts of drinking. Hello, body. I’m torturing you with sensible, healthy eating—you’d think you’d shape up.

But I think I’ve boiled it down to a fair number of reasons.

1.)

First, age. I was 24 when I got into my current relationship; I am 27 today. Now, I’m not exactly a card-carrying member of the local gomer club (despite a rather misleading name for my blog), but I’m no spring chicken anymore either. Maybe like a summer chicken. And I’m thinking my body has decided to prepare me for the joys of bearing children and carrying them on my hips whether I make the active decision to procreate right now or not. Much like happens with chickens’ bodies in the summer! True story…

And I’ve come to this conclusion because, most specifically, it used to be easier to lose weight in certain areas of my frame than it is now. Ergo, I’m going to go ahead and say age is one of the villains of this piece.

2.)

Things can’t get any freakin’ better!

Secondly, happiness. It is damned difficult to worry about fighting myself with health food and annoyingly long hours of exercise when I’m too happy to notice. Not that I disliked myself when I was single, by any means. I was just more honed in to the task at hand, you see. The battle with my instincts of “tastes good = is good” and “feeling of laziness = well-deserved sleep,” if you will. I was a warrior in the body fight. And now I’m all, “Tra la la…whatever. Sugar bomb? Meh. I could really go for an orange pop…” I’m all sleeping in on weekend mornings rather than going out for a walk because the bed is such a nicer place to be with my partner there. Damn this insufferable, infernal contentment! What is it getting me?

3.)

Thirdly, I do not live in the constant fear of never having sex again. Say what you will about this statement, but that panic button for me and many others is a big, shiny, red one. It will make you do things you have absolutely no desire to do (when being totally honest with yourself)—things like going out at all hours of the night to packed bars booming with music so loud that you nightly lose your voice just trying to ask the name of the random sweaty person whose hand has been on your ass for the last half hour rather than just staying home with a hot toddy and a decent, quieter, more satisfying form of entertainment. Or suffering through torturous first date dinners with people you wouldn’t want to talk to if they were the only person who spoke English in a 1000-mile radius. Or regular small talk. Or going to comedy clubs for amateur night. Or, I don’t know, jogging. Point made.

4.)

An actual shot in my kitchen last week.

Next, I spend most free time I do have (which is precious little, let me tell you, and that is no understatement) doing relationshippy or couply things rather than at the gym. If I do get a night free, it’s so much nicer spending it at home with the darling male companion. So that’s how I spend most of my free time. And again, “most of my free time” is a small percentage of an already small percentage of my composite time, so have perspective. (I work a full-time job, do freelance work, commute 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, go to meetings and appointments most evenings, and see people constantly.) Also, see “not living in the constant fear of never having sex again.” This fear would trump wanting to spend free time at home if it were a certain reality, but it is not.

5.)

Cakes!

And finally, cooking for two. It has always been really easy for me to lose weight when cooking for just myself because I’m willing to eat some remarkably unenjoyable things. When I was single, since I don’t care about meals terribly much, I would often just make sure I was hitting certain food groups and stayed below a certain calorie/fat content amount. And then I’d eat what I’d made, regardless of whether any of it went together. It wasn’t about the pleasantness of the experience. It was about having fuel, and …doing math, and …eating nearly indigestibly healthy, tasteless things. But now that I cook for two (we have a nice system where I do all the cooking, he does all the dishes), I cook entirely differently.

It’s not that he’s picky; he’s said numerous times he’ll eat whatever I cook. And let’s just all pause now and appreciate a good’un when we see one. He’s a good’un.

But even though he assures me he’s not picky, I don’t want to inflict bad meals upon him. I prefer to give him a nice, balanced meal (taste-wise as much as health-wise). No, I don’t know why. I just do. So I cook things we both want to eat, which immediately ups the starch intake, at least. It also puts more meat where I normally wouldn’t put it, since he works on his feet all day, and I feel he should have a good intake of protein. I still cook things without putting them in butter and have other healthy cooking habits thoroughly ingrained. Still.

But furthermore, healthy food is often fresh food, which as you probably know is pretty damned costly. Health food generally does not consist of things that come out of boxes and cans. And therefore, making meals of healthy food for two people is even more expensive than…well, than making healthy food for one. Which is already fucking expensive! So in order to cut costs, we eat more things like pasta. More bread. More rice. These carbs add up, don’t ya know.

So, despite my continual work to overcome these obstacles, so far, aside from the small weight losses here or there, my efforts to lose significant weight have been fruitless as of late. Similar stories from many, many of the shacked-up people I’ve talked to. Damn. And combined with back problems I’ve had over the last two years that make it difficult for me to do any workout more athletic than walking, I think it might just be one of those things that will continue to plague me for quite awhile.

As will my plants not responding to me.

Heartless.

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Obsessions Bite.

May 26, 2011

Okay, so here is what’s been going on. Here is what I’ve been thinking about every time I look like I’m listening for the past year. Here is what’s been distracting me from writing during my free time. Here is that comment or anecdote ready to burst from my anxious lips; from my hot, erupting brain. The thing that I’ve been visibly holding back in conversation so much of the time. Here is the thing I find it hardest to admit about myself.

**And I feel the need to put forth such a sensitive, revealing exposure of self as a penitent offering for not writing for so many months. Bless you, both of you, who read this. You shall now be rewarded with a large nugget of scandalous truth.**

Here it is. I, myself—she who is too cool for school, too hip for yo’ lip, too fab to…um…grab (and of course, I quote only myself here)—I am a mostly closeted Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanatic. FANATIC. Like, it’s fallen off into complete pathology.

I say “mostly closeted” because, while I will tell people I enjoy the show and occasionally engage in a little light Buffy chatter with like-minded individuals, I do not generally divulge the degree to which I am involved with this show. Even my darling male companion—he who introduced me to the long-gone television drama—only knows snippets of the reality of my sickness. He has grasped the stalactites and stalagmites of my geekdom where this is concerned, but he’s never seen inside the whole big, scary cave.

*waves from inside the cave*  Hi baby. Don’t judge me, mkay?   *vampire bats fly about over my head*

How did this happen, you may ask? Fair question, fair question.

So, I have resisted watching the show for years. As an awkward-appearance, slightly weird, and overly theatrical teen girl existing outside the skinny popular girl social orbit, when the show originally aired, I never felt drawn to the momentary glimpses I had had of the show’s protagonist. Sarah Michelle Gellar—a beautiful, tiny, perky teen girl (who at least starts out as a cheerleader). A cheerleader. No, please. Cheerleaders have always given me the wig. (Yeah, I see you, other Buffy fans who just enjoyed my use of the word “wig” here.)

You see, without having seen the show, I knew this archetypal girl at school, and…well…to put it delicately, she seemed to me a vile, heinous, Satan-incarnate bitch. And at 14, I was far too busy watching Dawson’s Creek to bother with a show that had the outright over-the-top special effects you see in the first few seasons of Buffy. I mean, come on. The Master looks like they put Mr. Bigglesworth’s head on Dr. Evil’s body.

So I never watched it.

Years later (about a year and three months ago, to be exact), I suddenly find myself as an adult (kind of), mostly living with my darling male companion, and this puts us both in the position of having shared programming for entertainment in the evenings. And hey—he just so happens to have all seven seasons of Buffy on DVD. He asked me if I would watch the first season with him, see if I could get into it (since he had seen the series once before and enjoyed it). And since the dear man had sat through every movie from my collection I could think to inflict upon him, I gladly obliged.

Well, gladly is the wrong word. Truthfully, I just thought it would be sort of unsupportive if I didn’t give it a good old try.

So, over the next few weeks, we watched the first season. Thankfully it is short, because the first season is not exactly the series’ finest work. This, of course, will be up for dispute among other Buffy fans, but I stand by it. The monsters in season one can be silly, the drama can be overplayed, and the special effects are old enough now to be more adorable than scary. However, as Joss Whedon is widely regarded for his winning dialogue, it was at least amusing, and I did really begin a love affair with the primary characters. So we moved on to season two.

Month after month, I watched diligently as Buffy, a character I grew to admire immensely for her integrity and general adorableness; Willow, who had my favorite ‘isms of the entire run; Xander, who I would so have dated in high school; and Giles, who I would so have dated right now (actually, Tara too); went on to defeat the Big Bad in story arch after story arch. Some plot lines were regrettable (*coughTheInitiativecough*), some were really compelling, and some ended up being sort of terrifying. That last season was dark, man.

It took us from February until about October to be finished with all seven seasons, during which I—no joke—became preoccupied enough to start subconsciously scanning a room for wooden pointy things the moment I walked in. That, gentle reader, was the beginning.

Two days after we witnessed the end of this show, to which I had devoted the at-home evenings of my every week, I found myself waking up in cold sweats, walking around with the shakes, hallucinating about vampire babies crawling on my ceiling and rotating their heads to look at me, experiencing unyielding hellmouthless restlessness, anxiety, and depression. General malaise. The Buffy and Angel love theme haunted my dreams. I listened to the Once More with Feeling soundtrack several times for a little bump, but it only barely took the edge off. I found myself feeling isolated and alone without my friends. Not, like, my actual friends. But without Tara and Willow. And Giles. And Oz. And Spike. It was full-blown withdrawal, and I was fairly certain it might injure me to stay that way too long.

And then it hit me like a stake to the heart. Oh my god. I had become a total and complete Buffy nerd; I mean absolutely to the core.

So, in order to alleviate my pain, and now that I had identified what I was, I made the decision to begin the show all over again. All the way back to the beginning. I work at a desk job where I can listen to things on my headphones, so I just started streaming it (intravenously) through my Netflix while I worked. I did this mostly in secret. I had literally just watched the entire series, so I was able to merely listen to it and watch what was going on in my memory with crystal clarity. And oh god, was that a relief. The world was back to normal. Joyce was still mothering. Tara was alive and waiting to be discovered. Giles was still a father figure. Angel’s neck wasn’t all thick and obnoxious. I could watch Faith get stabbed again (she annoyed the crap out of me). For that matter, the Mayor wasn’t a blown-up snake yet. (I love him beyond reason.) All was right.

Until I ran through the entire series again. Second time. This time I got through it in three months. Three months, back-to-back episodes. What a high. So, upon finishing season seven, I experienced the same problem. Sweats. Cravings. The fervent desire to see someone turn to dust after a well-timed pun or quip. But I knew what to do this time.

Season one, episode one—we meet again. I went through the entire series a third time. Three times through the entire series within a matter of a year and a few months and  change. I started noticing crazy, little things I might never have noticed. For instance, nearly all the monsters—if you listen to just the audio—are voiced by the Tasmanian Devil, as far as I can tell. Really. Listen to it. I found plot points I had never noticed before. In fact, I unearthed plot hole after plot hole. I know things no socially functional person should ever really know.

And just this Monday was the day I finished run number three.

Now. I sit here, on my computer, staring at the Netflix page I keep open and waiting on my far left tab. How many days will I wait? How many days will I pretend I’m done?

By the time you read this, dear reader, I wager I am already knee-deep in early high school vampire slayer angst.

It’s far too late for me.

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