Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Yeah, that chick? Not me.

Lately I’ve realized I grate my teeth during my drive to work. Matt says I do it while asleep, too. I think this means something.

My dear friend who had a pitiful time in her 20’s and now is experiencing some semblance of enlightenment at 31 told me I should practice mindfulness (this is after I said a strong “NO” to meditation – I guess I’m not all that granola). I know nothing about Buddhism except the Dalai Lama is one jolly guy (isn’t he?!), but she told me it’s being completely in-tune with our body and consciousness, and not thinking of other things – simply being in the moment. I tried this on the drive home from our dinner together, but all I could think about was, “Is Parks and Recreation new tonight?” and, “I can’t wait to use my new carrot cream that came in the mail from The Body Shop” (fo’ real, people – this is what my life consists of….carrot cream and sitcoms).

Then I took Penny for a walk and said, “Don’t think about work, don’t think about work!” but in turn, I was thinking about work. Then I took a shower and thought, “Shower…mmm…nice, hot, sudsy”. I was taking this very literally, as you can tell. Then I realized I was missing “30 Rock” – damn television foiled me again!

So much for mindfulness.

Then I decided that the perfect thing to calm me to create a sanctuary. Naturally, I cleaned my bedroom for the first time in months – at that point, I was already 90% there. I also splurged on a jarred peach candle from Target and applied more carrot cream. (I think by this point, you should really be intrigued by this carrot cream, so here’s the link: I used to save up my money in high school and buy this stuff, and I know this sounds super hokey, but it brings back memories of simpler times…really).

I think the point is, I’ve been trying to really tune-in to what I do have, instead of what I don’t. It’s a whole lot of “duh”, I know, but I’m finding it works, or at the very least plugs the holes in the boat so I’m not full-fledged drowning here. The weather is also helping tremendously: I am happier when it’s sunny. I’m a very simple being, it seems. This weekend is supposed to be nearing 80 (80!) and saturated in sun. My Crohn’s? Controlled for now. The baby thing? Sigh, trudging along – but I’m now determined to calm down (well, a bit) and enjoy our (semi) quiet life. Things could definitely be worse.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Morality of Insurance

Oooo...that's a heavy title.

I think – and worry – about health care a lot because I use it. A lot. Matt, on the other hand, couldn’t tell you what type of insurance plan he has, co-pay and deductable amounts, or if he has a primary care physician. Insurance companies must love him: he is pure profit. This is just another way we balance one another out.

And that is the crux of insurance: to balance and spread the risk. Sometimes you take more than your share of the draw, and other times you give. But it is all for the collective well-being of society. I’ve been thinking a lot about the accompanying opinion piece: it discusses charging people with unhealthy habits more. Along the lines of, “You smoke, so why should I have to pay for your treatment when you get lung cancer?” and “Well, you’re obese, so you’re at a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes and I work hard to maintain my weight” and the list goes on and on. Although, on the surface, I agree (I am an unyielding snob when it comes to smokers), it’s a damn slippery slope. And like the piece says, we all have bad habits (Oreos, anyone?). I agree, only I should get my hand slapped because I can’t keep my fingers out of the cookie jar. I am an overweight woman and little will power. But it’s so much more than that. I go to the gym, I walk my dog, and I eat my share of vegetables.

The less you make, the more you weigh. Should we blame nutritional ignorance, our education system, or the corn subsidies that make our packaged food that much cheaper? (I’m with the latter.) When do genetics come into play? How can you really ascertain the origins of a condition?

I’m with the article’s author, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar. None of us enjoy paying the cost of illnesses that could have been avoided. But, as a modern society, is that the fix we want? To burden those already burdened?

Read more HERE.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Luscious, luscious food

A normal person would be able to quantify their depression by the fact they consumed an entire package of Oreos (with nary their partner's help) in two days. I wish I had that excuse.

I love food. Bad food. Good-for-you food. All of it.

Hence the new layout! Thanks, Blogger. You really treat a tech-adverse girl well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coming Home

Long time, no post, huh? I'm in San Francisco for business, and it's all much more sexy than it sounds (trust me). But I like saying that...."I'm in San Francisco for business....". I'll let it linger there on the tongue.

I do not have a job where I travel across the country, but by chance I am here, sitting in a hotel room (facing a highway and not the bay, alas), and taking stock of things. Traveling always puts me in a contemplative mood. I sometimes travel regionally for work and I relish the alone time. I think Matt does, too. You're never very alone with yourself and your thoughts in everyday life, you know? I like removing myself from my suburban life for a bit, even if it's just a late train ride from New York or a hotel in central Pennsylvania. I like missing home; it reminds me what good I have.

This trip is no different, and I needed to take stock. To breathe in. To exhale. I haven't had a deep breath in three months. I wish I dealt better with stress, but my body tightens and it's fight or flight all day long. And poor Matthew. Every night I cry and he looks on, helplessly. Matt is never stressed. It's a gift because I often am. But, he admits, he has it easy. He loves his job. He is in perfect health. Above all, he has the perfect wife (okay, okay, it's a joke!).

Stress and Crohn's do not mix well, but my intestines have behaved. Usually before a flight I run to the bathroom no less than three times, my nerves working their churning magic. I hate flying, and I hate the thought of limited bathroom access. But this week's flight I sat at the gate, eating my bagel and...was fine. This afternoon I have the window seat home. It's enough that my bowels constantly inconvenience me, but now I have to inconvenience two other people when I ask them to get up to use the bathroom? Those two innocent souls have no idea what they're in for.

I was at dinner with a dear friend last week. We talked about work, about my health, about my fruitless baby making, and how I thought I'd have more to show for myself by my late twenties. She is her early thirties and said, "I hated my twenties! Do you remember how depressed I was? I'm so much happier now." So now I think everyone has a late twenties rut, and agony likes company, right?

I'm enjoying how this trip put things in perspective and how much I want to walk through the front door. For me, that's where it begins, and ends.


I realized I haven't written about the health care bill being passed. I found out of its passing at 5:30 am on Monday, screamed upstairs to Matt by simply saying, "It passed!", and did an early-morning jig with the dog looking wearily on.

I'm still smiling.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Martha's Tofu Stir-fry

There are several websites I visit compulsively (Slate, NYT, DListed) and now it's I love Martha because she's a haughty you-know-what, and I can just imagine her staff is absolutely terrified of her. And she's absolutely off her rocker if she thinks the American public is going to attempt 2% of her crafts. I don't craft. But I cook.

When I was in the tofu section at Wegman's yesterday Matt bit his lip but didn't say a word (good boy). I've tried cooking tofu before with disastrous results (soggy slop, mainly). Yet when I announced that I was going to make a tofu stir-fry this evening, his immediate response was, "Is there a back-up?" No, dearest, you are going to eat this sweet, sweet tofu, I replied.

And you know? The recipe worked. The tofu was crisp and the stir-fry simple. Martha calls for snow peas, and I could care less about those darn things, so I opted for sugar snap peas. All in all, a very proud evening for yours truly. And yes, Matt did eat it. (And I dare say, with GLEE.)

Tofu Stir-Fry
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 small onions, cut into wedges
  • 9 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 large red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch squares
  • 1 1/4 pounds bok choy, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, stem and green pieces separated
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed
  • 5 paper-thin slices fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons cold water
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  1. Halve tofu block lengthwise; slice each half into 8 rectangles. Arrange on a paper towel-lined baking sheet; top with more paper towels and another baking sheet. Weight with canned goods or a skillet. Refrigerate overnight or at least 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer tofu to a shallow dish. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil with 1 tablespoon water; pour over tofu. Marinate 5 minutes (reserve marinade).
  3. Heat canola oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook tofu until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set tofu aside.
  4. Stirring constantly, cook onions in skillet over high heat until browned, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook 2 minutes. Add red pepper and bok choy stems; cook 3 minutes. Add peas and ginger; cook 1 minute. Add marinade, cornstarch mixture, bok choy greens, and tofu. Cook until heated through. Season with soy sauce as desired. Serve with limes.

Man I love me some freshly fried bean curd!

It's not so scary when it's hidden amongst the vegetables.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

27 going on 60

I am the only person I know, who, in their late 20’s, gets short of breath (in the bad way) when thinking of retirement savings. I can’t help it.

My co-worker Courtney called me neurotic as I sat fidgeting in her office chair waxing poetic about long-lost private-sector pensions. I recently found out about how lush teachers’ pensions and benefits can be, and have been nursing a mean jealous streak ever since (and the urge to ditch it all and become a teacher). I tell Matt things like, “We need a Vanguard account!” (Note: I know nothing about mutual funds or Vanguard accounts…I just like to say it). Matt tells me to, essentially, shut-up. “We have 40 more years to figure this out,” he says. The thought of working 40 more years is almost as depressing as our bleak financial future. Sometimes he says, “You might not even be around 40 years from now, so quit worrying.” (Lovely.) He follows that up with, “We’re young – who do you know who puts money into their 401(k) like we do?!” to which I reply, “EVERYONE!” and bury my face in my pillow. In a moment of panic this week I upped my 401(k) contribution from 10 to 15% and demanded Matt do the same. I also like to say we need a Roth IRA. I have NO IDEA what a Roth IRA is but I heard Suze Orman talking about them, and I want one.

Two weeks ago I announced, over omlettes, that we needed a budget. “We need to control our spending!” I huffed. Mid-chomp, Matt said, “What spending? I don’t buy anything,” to which I replied, “Well, I do.” We then logged on to view my credit card statement and, after subtracting things like food and gas, I was left with what I spent on a skirt and dress and some odds and ends I picked up at Target. I replied that they were obviously necessities and they didn’t count, but the crux of my argument was that, “You’re a guy; you wouldn’t understand”, which I don’t think he bought. So much for our budget.

I wouldn’t call us particularly thrifty, and we’re definitely not spend thrifts. We’re just…normal. I will forever be a champion of economy cars and the thought of having a Coach bag just ticks me off, but I love going out to eat and furnishing our home (relatively cheaply, of course). And damnit, if that frilly skirt is $100 bucks but I swear, swear, swear I’ll wear it all the time and I love it and I won’t buy another thing that month, then YES, I’m buying it. Look, it’s all about balance. And a good skirt.

I bring this up because I also worry about medical expenses. For example, like many of my surgical Crohn’s brethren, I have to bear a monthly B12 shot for the rest of my life. The negotiated rate with my insurance carrier (I am on a high-deductible plan, so I essentially pay in-full until I meet my deductible, but all “in-full” prices are the negotiated and preferred cost through the carrier) is $156. One hundred and fifty-six dollars for a shot of …a vitamin. Per month. Negotiated rate. The “negotiated” rate for Pentasa, my maintenance drug, hovers slightly under $500 a month. So, yes, I worry about money. And insurance. I think I should.

It is a bad thing to have Crohn’s and be a neurotic worrier. Stress makes my symptoms worse. And duh, stress also inhibits your ability to conceive. Last month my ob/gyn told me I need to reduce my stress. This statement elevated my stress. Couldn’t she see that was futile? That I’m having trouble with work, with trying to had a kid, and by golly, with the fact we have no retirement savings and no solid plan in place?! I thought that but all I said was, “Okay.” That’s pretty much how it always goes.

Matt will often sit me down and say, “What can I do to help you relax?” The first answer is always food. Tortilla chips or chocolate are often involved – but that really goes without saying. After that, it gets a bit grey. I’d like to believe I’m the least high-strung member of my family – it’s in the genes. But I ask for impossible things. Past answers have been, “New intestines and/or immune system”, “my own dog hotel business” (no laughing!), “you making 200k a year or winning the lottery”, and “a 30 minute back rub” (trust me, the last one is impossible). He’ll respond with, “Well, what about one of those puddings in the fridge?” “With whipped cream on top?” I’ll ask. “Yes.” “Deal.”

Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to go study for a test I have tonight that I’m worried about.

PS: You may have noticed (well, probably not, who am I kidding?!) that my posts have been less frequent. I’m enrolled in a class that will hopefully prepare me for a professional certification exam I’m taking in May. It would be a lie to say I have no time to post, but I love to watch t.v. on my time off. I adore t.v. I am nothing but an uneducated commoner, what can I say?! Posts until the end of May might be less frequent, but don’t worry, they’ll still be filled of my complaining (about health care, money, oh, you name it!) and of course food (that’s a given!).