Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Batten down the hatches!

According to Wikipedia (love), the DEFense readiness CONdition (DEFCON) is a measure of the activation and readiness level of the United States Armed Forces. During peacetime, we here in the ol' U.S. of A. are at DEFCON 5 and the number decreases with the severity of the situation. To put a little perspective on it, during the September 11 attacks we only made it to DEFCON 2. There is no record of the U.S. ever reaching DEFCON 1.

Ladies and gentlemen, Operation Shrink A Bootie is at DEFCON 1. We are at war. Rally the troops and batten down the hatches cuz we're comin' in hot! The target? Fat. Rally point? My ass. Mission? Destroy the enemy and leave no evidence of its existence. Modern day civilian translation? Make fat my bitch!

It has become apparent that all previous methods of defense were inadequate. All ground we may have gained with those tactics has officially been lost. Luckily, the enemy has not defeated us. We will prevail!

In other words, my meeting last night proved as tragic as expected. I'm weighing in at 366. I know, I know. Dressed, after eating all day, water retention, holiday, yada yada yada. Regardless, I've pretty much gained everything back...again. What is my plan of attack? I'm going to treat my weight loss with the same tenacity as I do my education. I am a 4.0 student and refuse to accept less than that. I put my all into my grades and making sure that I excel in this program. I'm going above and beyond the call of duty on most assignments and paying ridiculous attention to detail. I'm focused. I'm determined. I'm driven.

Monday nights I have my new Weight Watchers meeting. Tuesday and Thursday (for this upcoming term anyway) I'll have class from 8am to 9pm (roughly) and who knows when I'll be pimping videos. I'm going to schedule my exercise just like I would my classes and consider attendance points vital to my grade. Journaling and meal planning are my homework. If I want to keep my 4.0 then I not only have to do the homework, but get the answers right. I may not pass every test, but it's the overall effort and understanding of the material that determines my grade. It's the extra credit, the participation, and the willingness to learn from my mistakes.

This is the most important class of my life. I cannot fail this one. This class affects the rest of my life and the success I have in it. I WILL be on the Dean's List! Hoorah!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ice ice baby...too cold, too cold.

What would this blog be without a nod to the lyrical poet Rob Van Winkle. You, Mr. Ice, with your rag-top down so your hair can blow and your girlies on standby waving just to say hi? The way you rocked a mic like a vandal and lit up a stage and waxed a chump like a candle? Legendary. It's in your honor that I flow like harpoon daily and nightly (or at least in this blog). Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it.

That being said, it's cold...too cold in fact. Oregon got dumped on. We broke 40 year snow records. Not just that, but we had ice ice baby. Six inches of snow, with a 1/2 inch of ice 'wiched between that and another six inches of snow. Nightmare. My car didn't leave the driveway for over a week. My mom and I chained up her Bronco and drove up to Portland to get my sister so she could make it home for Christmas. The trip should have taken 2 hours max; it took 6.5. Six and a half hours of sliding, gut wrenching, white knuckling, exhaustive driving...and I was just a passenger. When it was all over I asked my sister if that meant that she was now our bitch for the weekend. Mom said, "I don't know about you, but she's mine!" Nothing like a white Christmas to bring the family together.

I tried to get to a new weight watchers meeting last week, but couldn't. Now that we're all dug out and sufficiently melted, I'm venturing that way tonight. It won't be pretty. My scale is off its meds and the multiple personalities are flowing freely. One day I'm 330 and the next day I'm 360+. I don't have a clue where I'm at; I'm not sure I ever did for that matter. I do know that I'm going to take whatever number they give me at the meeting and run with it. That's what I need...a stable number. Not a number that fluctuates with the tides. Not a number that gives me false hope of being rescued by a crazy hot lifeguard one day and leaves me crashing against the reef the next. Stability people, stability. Although, if that number is higher than three sixty something I might throw myself in front of a Ben & Jerry's truck. There are worse ways to go.

I have plans, big plans, but I'll save that for after the meeting. I'm off...like a heard of turtles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Walking in a Winter...

clusterfuck! Oregon is famous for one thing. Rain. We have no football team, no baseball team, we had a basketball team once (I kid, I kid...go Blazers and all that). When you tell someone that you're from Oregon you can expect a comment about the rain (and occasionally a reference to crowbars and kneecaps, but we aren't proud I assure you). Try as you might to convince them that it truly does NOT rain all the time, it is futile. As familiar as we Pacific Northwesterners are with rain, we are just as unfamiliar with snow. Yes, we have Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, and are a hop skip and an eruption away from Mt. St. Helens, but down here on the valley floor? Snow is a rarity. Thus, when it does happen, we freak out.

We don't know how to drive in it, walk in it, live in it. Some people have snow chains, somewhere, but if they can find them, they probably don't know how to put them on. The evening news becomes the all day news as we watch the WINTER STORM OF DOOM 2008 broadcasting live from Sylvan Hill where we have one inch of snow and a 10 car pile up. Schools are closed, roads are closed, businesses are closed. Add ice to the mix and we might as well be undergoing chemical warfare of some sort cuz ain't nobody going nowhere (it's not often that I get to spout double, dare I say triple, negatives in a sentence...freeing, but I feel stupider for having done so).

On Saturday night, one such cold spell struck. Typical winter temperatures in the Portland Metropolitan area are in the 30's, we are currently experiencing the low 20's and the teens. By Sunday morning the ground had about an inch of snow on it. The problem was, all the aforementioned rain that we had before that was frozen solid underneath. I got sucked into the broadcast of ARCTIC BLAST 2008 (I shit you not, it's covered in similar intensity as natural disasters like Katrina around here) and watched as car after car couldn't make it up portions of the freeway. I listened to ODOT, Trimet, PDOT, and any fool stupid enough to walk past news cameras give their take on the impending doom.

Sunday night it only got colder and slicker. My parent's house is on a sharp curve that slants and has large ditches on either side. We're just outside City limits and sanding our road wasn't a priority...until we had 11 cars in our ditch at one time. ELEVEN. Tow trucks slid into cop cars, gravel trucks slid ever so Stars on Ice like between two of the stranded cars without even touching them, and bystanders are falling on their asses like drunks in a 3-legged race. Soundtrack provided by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

I haven't left the house since my last class of the term on Saturday morning. The sun is out, but it's still only in the upper 20's out there. The rest of the week promises more rain and snow...and I love it. It's so peaceful and calm when the ground is covered in snow. I wake up in the morning and I know, without even having gotten out of bed, whether or not it has snowed. There is no sound of speeding cars on the road outside, my room is brighter, and everything is so...silent. It all affords me the luxury of being able to do nothing. To think. To sort through clutter and find some sense of clarity under it all. I don't need to be out in it like I did when I was a child; I enjoy just watching it. I don't like footprints in my snow; I prefer it untouched. I don't need hot chocolate with marshmallows; I do need coffee with eggnog in it. I'm no longer a child; just a child at heart.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Five years. 260 weeks. 1,825 days. 2,333,000 minutes.

A few years ago someone I worked with was talking about working on the five year plan for the company. I never understood the "five year plan" concept. The "Where do you see yourself in five years" question has always seemed stupid to me. My life has always been the same and for so long I felt like it always would be. I was never the little girl that fantasized about her future wedding because I never thought anyone would want me. I've never been the person that fixated on what her life could be like because it was too painful to realize it might never be. You see, MY life, was not my own. MY life was in someone else's hands. I would simply go through the motions as if a roll of someone else's dice determined my next move. It wasn't until recently that I realized that I have a say in it. My destiny is what I make it.

I was at Starbucks last weekend before class and as I waited for my Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte chalk full of fat and whip cream (don't judge me) I saw a book. On the cover of it was a de-bossed number 5. I looked closer and it said "Where will you be five years from today?" Interesting enough. There was a paper wrapping on the front that said, "The greatest day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. The gift of life is yours--it is an amazing journey--and you get to determine the quality of it. Live the next five years on purpose. Now is the time. Imagine the possibilities. Go places, have adventures, make a real difference, do what you love. Follow your dreams, they know the way." I got chills. Here I was coming out of a very dark place and these words couldn't have meant more. I opened it up and saw "DECIDE what's next in your life and STRATEGIZE how to get it." Well, fuck me. SOLD! I got back in line and bought the book. It's been sitting on my desk ever since because I wanted to wait until classes were over before getting into it. Classes were over Saturday and now it's time to strategize. To make my five year plan. To live my life on purpose.

The book itself isn't very intense. It's full of inspirational quotes and aids in doing things like determining your values and writing a mission statement. It asks you which 5 people support you the most and would help you reach your goals. It asks you when the last time was that you did something for the first time. An easy enough read if not for all the thought provoking that it does. I'll keep you posted, natch.

"Don't say you don't have enough time. you have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein." -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Changing life's aperture setting

Last spring I took a digital photography class at school. I've always had a secret crush on photography, but never had a sassy enough camera to take a serious class. I never had a grasp on terms like shutter speed and aperture, but I thought we'd be best of friends if only we could become properly acquainted with one another. This class was amazing and so is my Nikon D60. I quickly discovered that when I found myself with camera in hand, nothing else mattered but capturing the perfect shot. Unemployment wasn't a concern. Weight wasn't a concern. Life wasn't a concern. My concern, in that brief shining moment, was quite simply...photography.

Among the many things I learned in that class, aperture was one of the most important. Aperture is the setting that controls the amount of light allowed in by adjusting the size of the hole it passes through. By adjusting this setting you can help control the depth of field. More plainly put, you can control which part of your photo is clear and which part is unclear. You can bring out of focus the less important aspects of your composition. If the elements right in front of you are what you feel the focus should be and the things in the distance are of lesser consequence, then you can adjust accordingly. There are other factors involved in achieving depth of field such as lighting and distance (and possibly alcohol), but aperture is as amazing as I'd always dreamed it would be (my professor would be so proud).

I've had far to wide a depth of field as of late. I was trying to focus on everything and lost site of what was important. I've been depressed and barely able to get out of bed in the morning. If not for the intense pressure of school, I'm not sure I ever would have. I created the illusion of happiness most of the time, at least for the people close to me, and it eventually got to be too much. Just when I was on the verge of breaking, there was a family dispute that pushed me soundly off the edge. I couldn't stop it. I couldn't control it. I couldn't snap out of it. I had a complete breakdown. I, quite frankly, was scared I wouldn't make it out safely. One day my mom even walked in during a right proper meltdown. I was sobbing uncontrollably and she just hugged me (we're not much of a hugging family what with being Dutch and all...er, the Dutch are habitually unaffectionate). I said things I shouldn't have. Not hateful, just things I know scared her. I said things I've never verbalized. I said things that I needed someone to know for fear I'd explode.

I'm better now. Though I was without it for a few weeks, I've managed to get more unemployment money thanks to the extensions signed by George W. (bout time you did something smart). I should have money coming in for quite a little while if all goes as they tell me it should. I'm still a video pimp on the weekends and I still hate it, but it's slightly less agonizing for the time being. This term is almost up at school and I'll have 3 weeks to recoup before the next battle begins. I'm still on the prowl for a job, but still hoping to find something that will work with my school schedule.

So now is the time to adjust my aperture setting. To find out what's most important to me and make that my focus. I think I need to focus on what's right in front of me and take things one day at a time. As of right now, my weight and my education are most important. I may not be able to be a fanatic about losing weight with the time constraints of school, but I certainly need to make the two mesh come January. Everything else will fall into place. So, what's your aperture setting? What are you focused on?