Wednesday, June 23, 2010

If *I* Can Cook, *You* can &%$#ing Cook

Isn't it lovely? This is the egg & spinach quinoa back I mentioned in my comments last post. I made this last week to some great success. I wasn't aware I had ever eaten quinoa (KEEN-wah, I think....) before, but, now that I've seen what it looks like cooked, I may have been served some as a side dish at some hoity-toity restaurants before. Basically it's considered a grain.... but somehow related to a radish... I'm not entirely sure. If you want to learn some actual facts about it, not just remnants floating about in my addled memory, check out the "whole grains" product page on the Whole Foods site here. I just bought some millet-based gluten-free bread today, and will let you know how that experiment turns out later. It's actually frozen, which is interesting. I guess harder to keep fresh than wheat bread? Has less preservatives? I don't know.

Anyway. So, last week I was trying out a few recipes. The quinoa bake turned out pretty well - I think it was sort of fool-proof. But it raised my cooking confidence. As a rule, I don't cook. In fact, the pilot light was apparently out in our oven for the first few months Jason and I lived in our new apartment, and I had no idea. I substituted some pre-cut green, yellow, and red peppers for 1/2 the spinach and some egg whites instead of using 8 eggs. I didn't have the right sized pan so mine turned out thinner than in the photo, but it was a nice easy thing to cut a slice of and eat either as lunch or a snack at work. Sadly, I have to take milk and eggs out of the mix for the next week+ so I won't be making it again soon, but will be able to again once the restrictive part of my nutrition plan is over.

The next experiment did not go so well. It was the Turkey Meatloaf, also from Whole Foods. It was actually more labor intensive and satisfying to make than the quinoa as there was all sorts of chopping and mixing and finally, after very carefully washing my hands, mushing the whole mixture together with my hands. That was really satisfying. I think I mixed it very well. Perhaps too well. So I put it in the dish (again, not the right size; didn't really read past the ingredient list when I went shopping.... ) and this is what it looked like:

Yes, it looks oddly pink... I realized later that was partly from the tomato paste. But then I put it in the oven, for LESS time than the recipe called for, I might add, and it came out looking like this:

Hmmm. Still, oddly pink. But now, also, oddly black on the edges... hmmm....

So, we ate it. And, well, it was gross. Kinda dry, and we had no ketchup to mask the dryness. Oh well. At least I got to squish meat with my hands. Jason has a great chili recipe he thinks he can put it in. :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's the new Jan Brady!

Hi, friends! Welcome to the new, nipped-and-tucked Blog 'O Shannon. Not only have I usurped the latest and greatest blogger background, but I'm making some changes and will be cataloguing some new adventures.

First of all, though the blog is titled "But I Digress," I am not going to focus my posts so much on the ADHD stuff. At the time I started the blog, I had just recently been diagnosed with the, uh, "Set of personality traits" and was dealing with how that affected me and integrating this new information into my identity. Don't worry - if I put my car keys in the freezer or the dog in the washing machine, you'll be the first to know. But it won't be all "Forsooth! What is-eth this thing that they call ADHD? Is it animal, mineral, or vegetable? Whyeth must I know no focus and when shall I finally be.... shit, what was the rest of that sentence?"

Cuz that's lame. I'll also try to update more and write shorter stuff cuz, hey, if a magazine article is supposed to be as long as the average human bathroom visit, then I think the average time it takes to read a blog should be "quick enough I can be sure the boss doesn't catch me at work." Or I guess, average bathroom visit, if you have an iPhone (now go wash your hands, you filthy bastard).

Finally, my new adventure. Perhaps there will be other adventures soon, but, right now, my focus is on eating well and getting into shape. I am lucky enough to say that most of the things in my life are going pretty great right now; I have a job I like, I'm writing most weeks, my dog doesn't bark as much as he used to, I have a parking spot, and I'm in love with a super hunky, dorky, smarty-pants man who loves me lots and lots. But this one thing, knowing that I'm overweight and knowing that I'm not so healthy, has plagued me for a while. So, I have embarked on a 6 month long, hopefully lifestyle-changing nutrition adventure. It's a lot of baby steps so I'm not even thinking about the exercise part right now or counting calories. For the last few weeks I've been trying to eat good stuff -- lots of berries, some leafy greens (as much as I can handle), organic meats and cheeses, almond milk, greek yogurt, almond butter and apples, and my daily, super-awesome smoothie.

So come along, children, and join me on my antioxidant-filled jaunt down the path that leads to cardiac health and hot and sexy jeans. If nothing else, I promise it'll be funny.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I was going to write a blog, but I can’t remember about what

My latest post was a bit misleading as I actually wrote it a month ago and just posted it. So now I am actually at the END of my bootcamp. I have to say, it went really well and I would recommend it to AD/HD peeps and anyone just trying to get some stuff done that they can’t quite make happen. A few highlights:

I had four categories to work on – cleaning/organizing at home, developing a daily writing practice, organizing my work day, and finding a new job. Well, at the end of the first week I received an email for a job interview and had that job by the end of the next week. So, hooray, I got to get rid of a whole category. More importantly, I have a new job. Hoorah! I really like it a lot. I’m getting to do more, you know, interacting with humans and so on, and less interacting with, like, paper. I could talk about it a lot but I don’t want to say too much publicly about my OLD job, just that there are several people there that I already miss very much.

So, hoorah – no 4th category! So more time/energy to work on the other categories, right? Um, sort of. I would say that I am well on the way to developing some good habits. I get up early almost every day to write, at least for a half-hour. That is really huge, because I was very worried that I wouldn’t write once my screenwriting deadline had passed. (I’ll need to start working on it again in a few days, but that’s another story)

I also have started “picking up” around the house for a mere 10 minutes most nights. I wouldn’t say it’s a habit yet, and I wouldn’t say that I still don’t dread it. However, knowing that I only have to do it for 10 minutes makes me actually do it, so that’s another 50 minutes of cleaning a week that I might not have done at all otherwise. Our bootcamp director talks about “paying off the interest” rather than “making payments toward the balance,” which means that, if you’re only spending 10 minutes a day either cleaning, organizing, filing, dealing w/paperwork, etc., while you are building a habit, you are probably just dealing with what’s new that day and not getting to the Big, Scary Pile that made you sign up for a procrastination boot camp in the first place (see last blog for photo of Big Scary Pile, with dog). So ultimately I will need to up the time spend a night to 15 or 20 minutes, but right now I am “being kind” to myself and still trying to just build the habit.

I would say that, ultimately, the thing I learned from the boot camp is that I really do have the power to make small changes in my life that make a big difference. I realize this sounds extremely trite, but to someone used to looking at her disorganized, chaotic life saying “I don’t even know where to start,” it is a big deal. It’s sort of like the first time I did Weight Watchers and realized, “Oh my gosh, I can really do this.” I just didn’t really care to do it that long. But THIS change is easier – there’s lots of rewards, lots of self-kindness, and lots of baby steps. As someone used to taking big bites and having eyes bigger than her stomach (and known for mixing metaphors), learning that I can take baby steps and still be successful is pretty huge.

The next step is maintenance, which I will have to get back to you on…
Hey folks. As you can see, over the last year or so, I have been toying with several different ways of approaching my blog. Originally I tried posting once a week, and then later I thought it would be better to write shorter, more “off the cuff” blogs and post more frequently. THEN I thought, hey, what if I just go like five months without posting anything? That’s a good idea, too.

Somehow the last approach has not increased readership so I’ll need to start from scratch again. Luckily, this time, I have help. Woot! I’m currently in the process of a month long AD/HD “Boot camp.” Which means, right now, I am using my daily 30 minutes uninterrupted writing time. Yay! The idea is that a month is enough time to build habits, and we’ve been focusing on “effort, not results” (which I like, a LOT) so that it is more about putting structure in your life than to see magic changes. I won’t go into much detail about the program itself because Kim, our coach, describes it much better anyway. Here is her site if you’re interested: She does one-on-one ADD coaching as well, and she’s really, really great.

So, I’ve run into quite a few obstacles so far in my journey. After our kick-off phone call, I was pumped to get home and start my first task: set a timer and just “pick-up” around the apartment for 10 minutes. The idea is to try to pick up around the apt for 10 min a day to just keep it looking nice, rather than going “OH MY GOD, I need to clean for like 4 hours!” and either a) not doing it (who the hell wants to clean for 4 hours?) or b) doing it and then hating cleaning so much that I never clean again. So cleaning for 10 min: totally manageable. Since we have (notice I say HAVE, not HAD, and this story takes place in the past…) lots of dirty dishes, I thought that would be a good place to start because it’s a nice, self-contained task, but would make a visible difference.

Of course I get home and the water has been turned off. I knew the water was going to be turned off earlier anyway, but apparently they, like, broke something while trying to fix it and now it’s really really off. I am told by a neighbor that it’s supposed to stay off for the next 24 hrs. GREAT. (It turned out it was turned back on like 2 hrs later.) So I go inside, set my timer, and look around. Where the HELL do I start? The apartment looks like a sty. Every flat surface (including floors) is covered with clutter. The kitchen is a mess. I have a pile of clothes sitting in front of the closet that is some dirty, some clean. And of course my dog is like “Hey dude, what’s up? Time to play with me?” I ended up having to chain him to his little dog bed because everything I picked up to clean he thought was a toy, which slowed things down considerably.

I decide to start by clearing the Xmas lights and ornaments off the coffee table because that’s the most embarrassing thing to still have out. So this means finding places for the Xmas stuff, which means finding other parts of the apt that are messy, and thinking I need to clean that, too. In the end, I clean about .01% of every part of the apartment, but not any one part to any degree that another person could tell when looking at it. Effort, not results, right?

Obstacle #2: I’m supposed to get up and write for 30 min in the morning (as I am now). Unfortunately, I left my laptop, keys, and wallet in my friend’s car last night. But still, in the effort of habit building, I get up early, shower, walk dog (in rain), and then get ride from lovely, helpful BF to work. I was planning on writing with a pen on a blank page of computer paper while I sat in the school cafe until I remembered that my co-worker gets in to work early and would have unlocked the office by now.

Aside: Did I mention that we had a fire (or a non-flame fire, just a lot of smoke) in our elevator last week and now neither of our elevators work, AND I work on the 8th floor? And that the 8th floor is really the 9th floor if you count the mezzanine? (I do.) You know, you would think, having to go up and down nine flights of stairs every day would make you BETTER at going up and down nine flights of stairs. So far, not happening. I now look forward to going to work even less.

Anyway, co-worker had come in so now am using office computer to write blog. Because that’s what office computers are for. So I’m glad I came in early after all.

It’s been interesting so far – I will keep you guys posted on the further ups and downs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Years Ago Today

On October 7, 2007, my grandpa on my mom's side, Donald Moore, passed away, early in the morning. Thanks to a very understanding boss and supervisor at the Writers' Program, where I was working at the time, I had spent an entire week with my family by his bedside, waiting for nature to take its course. I finally decided it was time to fly back to California and that morning, while getting ready for my early flight, I got the call from my mom, subdued and resolute, that he had finally passed.

I nodded, a lump in my throat, though she couldn't hear the nod through the phone. "How is Grandma taking it?"

My mom paused.

"She doesn't know yet. No one has woken her up."

My grandma was laying in the hospital bed, as she had done for the last few nights of his life, embracing him as best she could without disturbing the one tube he had inserted into his arm - no food and no fluids, just some morphine for a pleasant send off. And he was dead. But she wouldn't know that until someone woke her up.

I cannot think about this horrible but beautiful moment without getting extremely choked up. It is so tragic to think that someone had to disturb her peace to let her know that her companion of 62 years had slipped away from her. And then I always laugh a little imagining everyone arguing over who had to actually do it, although I can't remember if my mom was alone or if my sister, aunt, or uncle were with her that morning.

My grandma and grandpa were like peanut butter and jelly, only the cutest damn pb & j you ever did see. He was one of the quietest, most introverted people I have ever known, and she is, to this day, one of the most flamboyant, excited, outgoing people I can think of. Yet they went together so well. They would play a game together where she would pretend she had just met him, and call him "Doctor" or "Henry." For their 50th wedding anniversary, I got to make a speech about their "first 50 years" and had the opportunity to interview them (when I say them, it was probably grandma). I learned fascinating things about their early years, such as their Honeymoon wasn't a Honeymoon at all but really a ride on an army bus to Grandpa's next station, while they were in the midst of WWII. I believe that Grandma and her friends came to visit the base at some point as part of a USO effort, and I think it involved an embarrassing song and the wearing of some pantyhose on their heads...

They were so affectionate with one another, even in his last years. He had a rapidly progressing case of Alzheimer's and stopped recognizing a lot of people, but never her, to my knowledge. It was because of the dementia that his passing was probably a blessing, but we knew it would be horrible for Grandma. He had been by her side for 62 years; through wars, economic crises, births of children, grandchildren, graduations, weddings, every little step of life, they had been together. They had trundled along in the motor home from one side of the country to the other, even up to Alaska and back. My grandpa had built not only the house she still lives in, but the famed lake cabin at Loon Lake. His hand prints were everywhere in her life, but he would no longer be there.

I think I understand why they let her sleep a little longer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Inane Facebook Updating: OMG! I love lunch!

My neighbor, Tiffany, was helping me reorganize my closet this weekend by chatting with me while I folded and sorted (she wasn’t being lazy – this was her job which I had asked her to do and it actually worked very well for me). She entertained me by reading from her iPhone a list of totally inane Facebook updates from a specific friend of hers who apparently updates frequently and mundanely. My favorite was “Just remembered I bought muffins earlier!!! YUM!!!!!”

Now, I think that it’s part of the beauty of FB that you can write whatever you want and you can make a headline out of something seemingly mundane. However, I think that some people do this successfully but realizing the mundane-ness of their update, maybe with a hint of irony, and also, not updating every fricking five seconds about EVERY THING IN THE WORLD THAT HAPPENS TO YOU EVER. I once almost updated that I was proud of myself for remembering that I had taken the vacuum cleaner out and then didn’t trip on it on the way to the bathroom at 3:00 am, but decided against it. It seemed really, really, inane, yet it did pass the golden fb rule test: if a friend of mine had posted something about almost tripping on the vacuum in the middle of the night, I actually would’ve quite enjoyed that little, funny window into their life. So maybe I should post it. But it would seem strange now: Shannon is happy that she remembered just in time the placement of her vacuum so she didn’t trip on it on the way to the bathroom, four months ago.

So I suppose it remains really up to the individual what FB update is really interesting enough to post, and to his or her friends whether or not they give a damn. I probably would err on the side of not censoring ones self.

However, because I am only 1 part Earth Mother and 3 parts Point and Laugh At That Person Who Just Fell Down, I have created this list of hypothetical updates that I think we can all agree should never, ever, be posted. We’ll call this hypothetical over-poster Julie Smith.

Julie Smith is really not happy with her current vitamins. Really, isn’t there something smaller than football she could swallow each day??? Hello????

Julie Smith has a commute, but not to bad of a commute. I guess I should be happy about it cuz some people have to drive, like FAAAAR, yo!

Julie Smith is really excited about omelets today. Why can’t every day be omelet day?

Julie Smith just heard the greatest make-up tip ever. DON’T YOU WISH SHE’D SHARE????

Julie Smith totally loves her podiatrist.

Julie Smith just went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and her zit is TOTALLY ready to be popped. Can’t wait to get home!!!

Julie Smith can’t believe how temperate it is today.

Julie Smith had a lot of blood in the sink this morning when she flossed.

Julie Smith oh no, TOO MUCH CAKE AT LUNCH!

Julie Smith is SOOO excited about watching Oprah this afternoon!!!

Julie Smith just took a quiz.

Julie Smith just took another quiz.

Julie Smith took about 300 quizzes and really, really wants to share with you what color she is most like, what A-Team member she would be, what 90s song defines her sex life, and what dead baroque musician her mom most looks like.

Julie Smith forgot to feed her goldfish again. OOOPS!!!!!!

Julie Smith is thinking about doing her homework.

Julie Smith someone just took my favorite pair of scissors aaaaak!


Julie Smith was pronounced dead at 3:51 pm today.

Monday, August 31, 2009

When and when not to take a ritalin vacation


Flap heel toe, shuffle AH-HA!

Sunday, 8/03/09:
For the record, I just walked in my apartment and barked an order at Jason that he must not talk to me until I say that it is ok to. Sorry, Jason. You see, I have the idea for what I want to write in my head right now but I feel much like when I first wake up from a dream and I know I have about 30 seconds to remember the dream before it all slips away, dispersing like morning mist.

I should have taken my ritalin today.

Yet, not taking it gave me a magnificent AH-HA moment where I suddenly remembered an experience from the past and saw it through the eyes of a now-diagnosed with AD/HD present self. (Yet, also, not taking it is frustrating me to tears right now because I’m afraid I’m not going to fully capture my ah-ha moment before the dream slips away.)

So, I went to another tap class today. Since last week’s class was a TEENY bit too easy for me, I decided to take the next level up, which is still called “beginner,” but, since The Edge Performing Arts Center is hard core, is still pretty, uh, hard core. I was hoping it would be the same “whatever!” dude teaching from last week who wore baggy basketball shorts and tap shoes with no socks, but instead I saw a spry young woman who, although she kept complaining that “high school seems so long ago, all of a sudden!” looked about 16. I got to class a half hour early (because you either get really really early or really really late with Shannon) and saw her planning the combination we would work on in class. That was probably a mistake since it looked REALLY complicated but I tried to convince myself that maybe she was just planning a combination for another class or just for fun, like, she was going to dance for her friends at a party later and wanted to come up with something really complcated to impress them.

The class went pretty well for the first half – no, actually, I should say it went pretty well the whole way through, I just had some issues near the end. The steps were honestly not too hard for me and the speed could’ve been dialed back a wee bit for my taste but I made do. The 16-year-old who complained about her impending HS reunion kept reinterating that the important thing was to do the steps at our own pace and not worry about speed so much. As I said, I did pretty well through the warm-up and the across-the-floor combination.

Then we started learning the combination which, again, I could keep up with and made me feel confident. I could even do it rather quickly. Stomp, toe, toe, step; stomp, toe, toe, step; shuffle heel-toe-heel; scuff toe-heel heel, shuffle ball-change. WHEW. Got it. We started out with four counts of eight, went over those a few times, and then move on to the next four counts of eight. As soon as I started committing to memory the next part of the dance, I felt the first part I’d already learn starting to fade form my mind like Marty McFly from the polaroid of the future where he didn’t exist. (You know, in the scene, where he's playing the guitar, and then he looks at his hand and it's starting to disappear...nevermind...) The teacher kept smiling from ear to ear and saying “Got it? Go on?” as she nodded her floppy pony-tail head and I said, weaker and weaker “um..yes…what was the last part with the flap heel toe…um, nevermind…”

As soon as I would learn a new part, it erased more and more from my brain of the beginning of the combination. What I really needed to do was either slow down, do the whole beginning part about 12 more times until it was completely committed to memory and THEN move on, or go back in time and take a ritalin this morning. Since the time and space of the classroom and universe allowed for neither of these things to happen, I just tried to keep up as much as I could, and stick to the parts of the dance that were really easy for me and try to catch back up whenever those happened.

And then: AH HA. I totally remember feeling like this ALL the time when I was a kid in dance class. Whenever we learned a new combination or dance, I would start out confident, and, as we went on, grew less and less able to retain the new steps I was learning, let alone remember what had happened at the beginning of the song. The only things that stuck with me were the parts that really “gelled” with me, i.e., a move I really liked doing or a part that really fit with a particular part of the song at that moment. I totally had a flashback to being 12 years old, wearing my black spandex shorts (with the neon pink stripe up the side), having my hair in a side pony tail, and trying to keep my feet up with all the other feet in the class and feeling stupid and frustrated that I couldn’t. (And then doing something silly and distruptive to make everyone laugh and get yelled at by the teacher.)

I suddenly realized: if I had known about the AD/HD back then, if I was on some sort of stimulent medicine or at least if I had the education and awareness, I might not have been so frustrated. I might not have quit and re-joined ballet 2x and ended up a sixth grader in the class with the 3rd graders, wearing a pink leotard while all of my friends had graduated to the sophisticated black leotards of level IV ballet and above, and later, received the honors being able to dance en pointe, i.e., wear the really awesome shoes with the hard toes that made them able to dance on their toes.

It’s so funny to realize this all of a sudden because I remember really enjoying and yet really being frustrated with dance as a kid, and not really knowing why. I’m not saying this was the only reason, but it did take me back to that “oh, crap, everyone else is getting this and I’m not” moment and treat myself with a little more compassion than I did as a pre-teen.

Back to the present: by the end of the class, I was mostly lugging my body to this side, then that side, then spinning it around, to match the pace of the other dancers. I was actually not doing all that bad, but I know I could’ve done much better and had more fun. Not only would I struggle to remember the steps, but then I would start thinking about struggling to remember the steps and how this would make a great blog and then I would realize I had totally not been paying attention for like three sets of eight counts. The more I struggled to whip my brain into shape, the more mentally fatigued I got and the harder it was to remember even the easy stuff that I had repeated over and over from the beginning of the dance.

Still, I DID have a good time and I do plan to go back – maybe to the basic level again and armed with 30 mgs of FOCUS SHANNON, FOCUS pills. And realizing during the class WHY I was having a hard time made me much kinder to myself and prevented me from getting really frustrated and throwing in the towel as I have done in dance classes of yore (there was a really challenging hip-hop class that comes to mind from the summer of ’02 where I was frustrated with not only my lack of focus and short-term-memory but also the fact that I have very little “soul”).