As you may know, I am not usually all "into" the Christmas season. I mean, I like it, but sometimes it's just a lot of work and stress. This year, however, I am SO on top of things and it's making my holiday season awesome with a capital fucking A.
I had my Christmas party -- it was super fun and really helped me get my house in order for the holidays. Now I can work on Christmas wrapping and present-making in the beauty of my decorated home. The tree is lit up in the corner and the garland across the mantle is gorgeous. I may have a party every year on the first weekend in December to kick my ass into gear.
We are also sending out Christmas cards this year; a first in 9 years of marriage. My fab friend Jen did a photo shoot for us at City Creek and they turned out great. I've promised myself that each card will have a personal note written inside. It shouldn't be too hard because I'm only sending out like fifteen, mostly to the people that see me all the time and wouldn't need a picture of me, but still ...
Most of my shopping is D-O-N-E. (Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.) I went the easy route: I made a spreadsheet for everyone I needed to buy for and then filled in the presents as I decided and bought. Amazon.com saved my (Christmas) life and sent it all to my door step. So I have very little leg work left and it's only the 10th! The best part about being on top of the whole gift giving thing is that I really enjoy giving people I love things they love, but sometimes my procrastination means I have to give something they'll just "like" or "use." My preparation made it possible to think of (I hope) thoughtful presents for everyone.
I've been listening to Christmas music all month, especially The Carpenters' Christmas Portrait. It's my absolute favorite and puts me in the festive spirit like nothing else. I'm looking forward to Christmas -- and all the days leading up to it.
I hate accounting.
My professor is a really nice guy and he clearly loves this subject.
(Actually, his enthusiasm sometimes bugs me because accounting is so boring. And he should know that.)
But oh.my.god I want to die during class.
Instead of paying attention I
party plan on facebook
facebook stalk people
read the news
read my blogroll
search for new books to read
text my hubs
read articles for my other class
plan my Etsy store
organize my email
drink a lot of water hoping that I will have to pee so I can leave the room
Accounting wears on my brain. It just doesn't like it. I see the value, I really do ... but holy Jesus, I wish it didn't exist. I'm sure survival of this class is made more difficult because I know it's the last one I'll ever have to take. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
Survive the next two classes. Then the nightmare will end.
As you know, I am a person who needs to commit and recommit (and possibly commit again) to goals that I have set for myself. One of my biggest goals is to lose some weight and lock in healthy eating habits before my 30th birthday. Well folks, we are down to only 161 days to my birthday. 23 short weeks.
Here it is by the numbers:
115 workouts: 23 yoga classes, 23 cycle classes, 69 days of cardio & weightlifting.
23 potential BONUS workouts.
158 days of eating within my caloric total. (Minus Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. I refuse.)
362 liters of water
And some fun things I want to do on my birthday as a reward for all my hard work:
I will do 5 complete pull-ups. (Current count: zero.)
I will run (no walking) 5 miles without stopping.
I will wear the dress my husband gave me when I was 17.
I have several projects in the works. I hope I can make them ALL come to fruition, not typical Johanna fashion where it's half started, half finished, forgotten.
*Number 1* Ladylike Ladies Night
A party with ladies in which we will visit the UMFA, have a classy dinner, finishing with card playing and cocktails at my place. Do you think it's too much to ask guests to wear gloves, a day hat, and a long skirt -- a la Downton Abbey?
*Number 2* Christmas Preparedness!
I am notoriously horrible at preparing for Christmas -- SO this year I am all about the online shopping. I already have several items waiting in my cart, to be ordered en masse (EARLY mind you) and then I can spend weeks beautifully gift wrapping presents for loved ones. I also am making my papa a blanket for Christmas so I've promised myself I will devote Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday evenings to working on it. Don't forget decorations: they'll be up by the 1st! I have the entire last week of November (after the Thanksgiving madness) to purchase and decorate. Ta da.
*Number 3* Etsy Shop
This may take me a little longer ... and I'm allowing myself to say that this project might bleed into next year ... but I am starting an Etsy shop! The shop will have beautiful doodles of flowers hand-doodled by moi and then made unique and beautiful with watercolors. I will have stationery, personalization available, and wall art. I've been thinking about it for a while and I'm very excited to see if anything sells. My MBA program is robbing me of all creativity; gotta amp up the left side of my brain.
*Number 4* Fabulous Holiday Party
Nothing says fun like the holidays. So of course you must have a fabulous party. I want to have lots of embarassing games, and I know white elephant can be so lame, but with my group of friends I think it will be hilarious. Good food, lots of drinks, and warm company. Love it. Just what everyone needs to survive the Christmas season.
So. In just six short months, I will be (shhh) thirty. And I've been telling my husband and everyone: "OH! Thirty is SO YOUNG!" and "Age is nothing!" and telling myself that thirty won't effect me because I still look young (staying out of the sun and Asian genes have helped) and I'm healthy (thanks to vegetarianism) and I'm in a great place in my life (so happy, tra la la). I will have my MBA next year. My husband is still my best friend. I have a great job. I have awesome friends and family.
I can feel, deep in my gut, the ticklings of panic.
And now I'm telling myself that by thirty I should have done so much more with my life. I should already be published. I should already be making six figures. I should own a home. I should have a super fit fantastic body.
Obviously it's goal setting time. Here are four things I want to accomplish next year, not necessarily by the time I hit thirty, but before I'm thirty-one (i.e., absolutely ancient <--- I'm totally kidding. I think).
Get a new job. I enjoy the job I have now. I love my coworkers and I feel valued in my workplace as someone who is reliable and competent. But I've been there since 2002 and it's time to move on. It's time to expand my knowledge and hopefully my paycheck.
Get a new body. I enjoy the body I have now. It is cute and fun and gets me from A to B. But now, I need to have a rocking body because, let's face it, it may now begin the period of loosening and sagging that comes with my age. I don't want to have a young looking face and a crap body. So this means I've got to commit to controlling my portions and working out. A lot. I can do it.
Get published. I always talk about blah-blah-be-a-writer and blah-blah-be-famous and guess what? That shit ain't gonna happen unless I a) write and b) submit it for publication. I'm not saying I want to have a fucking NOVEL done by next year, but I do need to heft up my portfolio and COMMIT to writing. Less TV, more reading and writing.
Save more money. I don't want to buy a house necessarily but I do want to have gobs and gobs of money in savings that I can take lavish vacations, feel safe, and whenever I feel like it, buy a house.
Like all control freak, OCD, type A personalities, setting goals and making lists makes me feel as though I have a handle on my fate. I can make anything happen if I just work hard enough. And if there is one thing I know in life, it's how to work hard for things that I want.
I have several movies that have been watched hundreds of times. Started, then fell asleep to. Watched while studying. Memorized. Most of them I owned on VHS and during my becoming-an-adult years, they were like old friends, helped shape me in that way that characters do when they get in your bones. Maybe that's just the dramatic part of me acting out, but regardless, here's the list of the ones I love and can't live without.
1. As Good As it Gets
2. Sliding Doors
4. Shakespeare in Love
6. Fifth Element
7. Marie Antoinette
8. Little Women
10. Ever After
11. Far and Away
12. Runaway Bride
13. Gone with the Wind
14. First Knight
15. My Best Friend's Wedding
16. You've Got Mail
17. Practical Magic
18. Sleepless in Seattle
19. Hanging Up
20. The Thomas Crown Affair
I'm reading this because I heard about it on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. The interview was absolutely hilarious and reminded me why I love Betty Friedan and will always claim to be a feminist, no matter how unpopular.
Because -- let's get one thing straight -- I am a woman and I am fond of all the perks that come with suffrage and the feminist movement.
Voting. And being able to vote different from my husband if I so wish.
Birth control -- like the PILL and my beloved RING and IUDs and all that loveliness.
Reproductive control -- like family planning, i.e., not having children after 9 years of marriage.
Vagina entry rights -- like not being forced to have sex with my husband because I'm considered his property; rape of any kind being illegal is pretty important to me.
Driving a car.
Dyeing my hair any color I please and not being seen as a trollop.
The right to get divorced and have a life after that divorce.
Not wearing a corset. And sometimes not wearing a bra.
And on and on.
Of course, regardless of how "in touch" I am with my whole being a woman and feeling comfortable being a woman and all the ra-ra-women-are-awesome feelings I have, Caitlin Moran makes some good points about silly things we women do for society or men or a male dominated society. Things which we aren't even aware of being "sexist" or purported by males and then adopted by us females because, let's face it, we still live in a society where no woman has ever been president and Hilary Clinton still gets called a "bitch" and "feminist" is still a word that conjures up images of un-shaved armpits and the possibility of (shh) lesbianism. And just in case you think that we're still not the mysterious (read: witch) OTHER (read: lesser) sex, read this.
So I'm reading "How to Be a Woman" and I come to the chapter "I Become Furry!" in which Moran posits that we women have become addicted to shaving/waxing our pussies completely free of hair because of pornography. According to Moran, pornography sets up our socio-sexual norm and because most kids learn about sex from porn/media, we all grew up seeing either hairless vag in the pornos or hearing about hairless vag from our friends.
I started chopping my furry muff down to size around the age of 13. I don't know why I started doing this; I'm sure from some shame/puberty/changing-body-anxiety reason. And then of course I started dancing and that meant leotard sans underwear 4 nights a week. God forbid I be one of those girls the other girls made fun of because of (ewww!) pubes. So I started shaving my bikini line. And once I was in high school, I just started shaving all of it off -- too much potential for pube seeing when changing in between dance numbers and for plays. And besides "everyone was doing it." I imagine it was much the same for you too.
Now, I'm not saying I agree with Moran's desire that we all have "big furry minges" and lie around in hammocks finger-combing our "Wookiees" until the "minge fro" is bouffy and "you can gently bounce the palm of your hand off it, as if it were a tiny hair trampoline."
But I do like this idea:
"Walking around a room, undressed, in front of appreciative eyes, the reflection in the mirror shows ... a handful of darkness between your legs. Half animal, half secret -- something to be approached with a measure of reverence."
Ooo. Sexy, right? Powerful natural woman.
I very briefly thought about growing mine back.
Isn't that great literature? It's making me THINK about habitual actions previously un-dissected.
But here are my reasons why, after much thought, I'm NOT growing it back.
I never really liked it. I don't think it was due to some societal pressure, but just because I, as a human being, am not fond of body hair. I have very little and so to have pubes just seemed weird.
I, like all true feminists, will do as I please. After all, the feminist movement is about CHOICE. It doesn't matter what anyone says about why I do what I do, I like not having any hair down there.
I don't get rid of my hair out of a desire to be more sexually appealing. I (that's right, me) like the clean look of it. And the clean smell of it.
It's not as if I'm completely hairless and my husband is a disgusting hairy beast who expects me to be hairless. It's personal preference that we both be nice and tidy. (TMI?)
I think this is a generational thing. And I actually think it's something that we women started. It may have begun with male-dominated porno industry shaving, but once adopted by real world women, we started expecting our men to be smoother than before and trim their own bush. So really, in a roundabout way, pubic hair maintenance by both men and women is just feminism at work.
Pubic hair is just a sign of the times, and my friends, they are always a-changin'.
Someday we may be "soooo uncool" with our hairless wackies.
So I'll tell you a story. At the bright age of 12 I was allowed to start wearing makeup. It didn't take long for me to discover that even mascara could not change my straight straightstraight eyelashses into model-long curls. Thus began a decade long struggle with curlers, smudges, types of mascara, and a general loathing of my eyelashes.
So about 6 months ago I noticed that my chosen brand of super-curling-waterproof-blackest-black mascara by Maybelline was disappearing off the shelves. It was getting harder and harder to find. I realized too late that it was being discontinued -- couldn't find it ANYWHERE and couldn't buy it online straight from the manufacturer either -- so late was my discovery of the discontinuation. I mean, was I being an idiot? Yes, I was in denial.
So now I have this horrible dilemma where I'm absolutely out of MY mascara. And that begins my search for an alternative. I do extensive mascara research (Googling "mascara curling Asians" hoping for a tried-and-true Asian-approved mascara). I try every kind of curling mascara at Sephora. They all suck. Within hours, nay, minutes(!) my eyelashes are failing to look skyward but droop like Snuffleupagus. Hideous.
So I now begin researching eyelash extensions. I investigate eyelash salons. Look into eyelash types of curls, lengths, brands, etc. I post on FB, asking for my lady friends' opinions and get a slew of "NO!" and "YES!" and "My friend does them for $1!" <-- not exactly but you get the idea.
So I end up getting eyelash extensions. After 2 hours and 15 minutes in the chair, I know -- without a doubt -- they are the most wonderful things to ever happen to my eyes. I love love love them. I look wide awake and glamorous all.the.time! The only downside is ... wait for it ... they hit my glasses. They flutter up and down so beautifully and then snag on my glasses. This is as annoying as shit.
So yesterday I went to the optometrist and got contacts. Victory! I managed to overcome my fear of things near/in my eye and put the gooey orb in and out of my eyeball. As Tom says, "I'm becoming a grown up."
Why am I telling you this story? So you can see how one small change brings about big change, brings growth, opens you up to new possibilities and new experiences you never thought you'd embark on.
I have been so busy living my life this summer that I haven't written since my birthday.
I am very negligent.
But I've been having an oh-so awesome summer.
We were forced to move out of our adorable little cottage into an even bigger cottage. (Will post pics later and tell the horrific story of the moving-out situation ... or maybe never; I'm trying to forget the trauma.)
Progress towards my MBA is moving right along.
We went to Cancun and -- literally -- did nothing. We just read and read and read and ate a little and drank and met fun people and swam in the ocean and snorkeled and played beach volleyball. Best. Vacation. Ever.
The puppy turned 3.
Tom turned 29.
We celebrated 9 years of marriage. Go us!
With the bigger house we've been enjoying lots of company. Movie nights, dinners, parties. It's fantastic to have the space to entertain ... something we didn't have in the old house.
My favorite person moved back to the USA.
My brother and I had an awesome sister-brother date.
I got kinda fat ... working on it!
My wonderful friend C gave birth @ 41 to a beautiful baby boy. I cried when she called with the news. I never do that but her story is an amazing one.
And -- I hate to say it -- I didn't blog AT ALL. Too busy reading and watching gobs of trash TV, and good TV, and just loving the awesome weather and all of my ultra fab friends and family.
So sorry if you've been missing me. Chances are if you read this blog, we were actually hanging out so you weren't missing much.
Coming up -- fall and winter. Gag.
I am working on a new blog for the puppy which is part of a whole move to exploit/market my little dog.
I am working on an update to this blog ... possibly an actual .com address.
I am working on my body for my up and coming 30th birthday (AAAHHHH!).
I am now getting eyelash extentions. It's one of the most wonderful things to happen in my cosmetic life.
I was eating a grapefruit, carefully extracting each segment and then sucking out as much juice and pulp as possible, and listening to a 'This American Life' podcast from a few years ago. The stories on this episode were about parents trying to impart wisdom on their children and how best to get that child to remember. The first story was about a young woman who's mother passed away from cancer. The mother knew she was going to die and she wondered how she could make her daughter remember her, how to make her know how much she loved her. So she decides to write her daughter letters, to be given by her husband on birthdays and her wedding day. These letters obviously were very emotional for the daughter. She feels love from her mother, she feels guilty that she has disappointed her mother for leaving the Mormon church, she feels inspired by the encouragement her mother writes.
In short, this could have been me and my mom.
And as the story came to an end I found myself crying over my grapefruit. Just recently, we had a scare that my mom's leukemia was taking a turn for the worse, and I ran through the mental preparations for death and funerals and life-after-mom. It's something I've done many many times. She's had leukemia for over half my life now. She was diagnosed when I was around twelve and intially they told her she had six to nine months to live. I don't remember how I felt then. Was I scared? Was I sad? Did I cry? I must have done all those things but they are so distant and I've felt those same things so many times, that those first feelings get lost in the wash. She's had many scares, many times when we were on the "last chance" and after living with that for seventeen years -- you start to wonder how many chances you have left. How many lunches you have together. How many phone calls remain. Looming death does strange things long term. You simultaneously hold your breath and move on. You take things for granted. You cherish stupid things. You wait.
But during all this waiting we've been doing, life has been happening. And I've grown into one of those cliched daughters that starts saying, "Mom really knew her shit." I realize now that every.single.thing my mom did for me or said to me, magically composed a Johanna over the years. My mother is one of those incredible people that loves so fiercely, it's completely encompassing. I have so many memories of her, vivid, vivid memories, that she will never die for me. And it's been a comfort to know that even when she passes on to whatever is after this, she was such a strong person that she left a massive imprint on my life, on my world. She is larger than life -- therefore, she is capable of surpassing death.
I've done the whole return-to-ballet thing. It was tough. Super hard on my body and even harder on my schedule. Now that I'm back in school, I don't have 5 nights a week to commit to 2 hour ballet classes ... and if you don't put in the time, you don't progress. Ballet is something you can't do half ass. If you try, you'll be so pissed off at how you can't do your splits, can't grand jete worth a damn, can't fouette, and your feet will hurt and hurt and hurt.
But modern jazz? That's something you can hop in and out of and really enjoy. Your old skills come back and you end the once-a-week hour-long class feeling like you had a fantastic time and actually danced ... (ballet can be a lot of technique, followed by more technique). Plus, my high school chum Becks is back in town for the year so she and I and our partner in crime, Hope, are abandoning our families on Wednesday nights in order to dance, dance, dance.
The other day (post finance class freak-out) I actually thought: what would I be doing if I hadn't stopped dancing? If I hadn't been sensible and chosen a "career"? Once upon a time, I think I was actually pretty damn good. And better at modern than I was at ballet, simply because my body wasn't made for ballet even though my heart was. I could be a teacher, dancing every day. I could be dancing every day with a company. But this is a dream. In reality, I probably couldn't have cut it. I get sick of artsy people. I need boring stability, if only to make my quirkiness seem more original. I like creative people in small doses ... except for myself, of course.
With that dream long gone, it makes me smile that I can still dip my toes in and revisit my old love.
So, because of THIS (<--- stupid thing I wish I'd never heard about), I've been trying to go more vegan -- making the effort to cut out dairy and eggs except for every once in a while as an added indulgence. Of course, this means I have to search for recipes that are non-vomitous AND non-dairy/non-meat/non-egg.
"Laksa" is a yummy coconut milk based noodle soup that is a fusion of Malay/Chinese elements, most often found in Malaysia and Singapore. You can make it with any thickness of rice noodles, I'm using regular width but I'm sure vermicelli is yummy, and probably extra wide too. I'm definitely NOT going to make my own curry paste -- so I'll invest in a ready-made Laksa or Thai curry paste; check your local grocer. For your two cups of mixed chopped vegetables, I suggest (and so does the author of this recipe) red pepper, carrot, and zucchini julienned ... or cut into baton-like strips. Recipe serves three.
I think Laksa Soup has the potential to become a much loved weekly menu item.
3/4lb [350g] rice noodles
2oz [60g] Laksa paste or other Thai curry paste
1 Lg can [1 1/2 cups] coconut cream
2 cups mixed chopped vegetables (see note above)
Handful of fresh basil leaves
What to do with your ingredients:
Place noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 1 minute then massage to loosen into individual strands. Drain.
Meanwhile heat 2 tablespoons of peanut or other vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add curry paste and stir fry for 30 seconds. Quickly add coconut cream and 2 cups boiling water. Bring to the boil and add vegetables. Simmer for 2 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking.
To serve, divide noodles between 3 bowls. Pour over soup and vegetables and top with basil leaves.
I made spoon pens (pens with spoons super-glued to them as an anti-theft device) for the office, upon which I drew little friendly faces; the one with the kitty has already been stolen. People are such assholes.
I look super fat in these pants.
I can't stop thinking about The China Study and how I must stop myself, family, and friends from eating animal protein so that we may all live long, healthy lives.
My hair has a weird bump in it.
The library charged my late book as "lost" so now I have to fight with the librarians.
The coworker I hate has been put in charge of a project, making him very snarky.
That terrible JLo song "On the Floor" is stuck in my head.
Damn you, Punxsutawney Phil.
Six more weeks of winter can kiss my ass.
I hate winter and even more, I hate this sort of non-winter we've been having.
There's no snow which is definitely a plus.
But the mild days make me long for springy days and hot summer nights.
And now the stupid groundhog says that won't happen for 6 more weeks.
How accurate is Phil? His own website, obviously biased, says 100%. Others say as high as 80% accurate.
It's important to point out that he's only NOT seen his shadow 16 times.
Conventiently enough, meteorlogical winter runs from December 5th to March 5th.
I won't pretend I'm not crushed ... and a little disappointed in Phil.
But hopefully his seeing his shadow will hold marginal sway over that great and powerful being: weather.
After all, winter doesn't seem to be putting up much of a fight this year.
At the New Year's Eve Masquerade we went to, a tarot card reader was there in hope that guests could see what 2012 held in store for them. Obviously we did it for the hell of it (Tom and I are both far too cynical to set much stock in cards, palmistry, fortunes, Ouija boards, mystical spirits, etc.) and because we were in a jolly party spirit. Plus, "everyone else was doing it" and it was free.
My reading was pretty accurate with the exception of one huge falsehood: I'm pregnant. At least, that's what she said -- that I either was already pregnant or would become pregnant very soon. Clearly a lie. But I'll have to admit, she read me pretty well. The rest is quite accurate ...
* I'm private but public. She likened this to being like a politician (is that good or bad?!), further clarifying by saying that people will feel like they know me very well and I'll divulge what seems like endless information about myself, but the true depths of my self, the most inner parts of me, are reserved for loved ones only.
* I'm a real lady (Oooo!) -- meaning I know how to act and behave appropriately in every situation I find myself in.
* I stress about money.
* I like a clean house for company but also have a natural messiness about me. I might still have clothes on the floor in the bedroom behind closed doors. I try to be a very tidy and clean person, but sometimes I just pile my clothes on the floor and the dishes in the sink.
* I have a very healthy ego, meaning: I know my worth.
And this last reading, the last turn of the card, spoke to me loud, very loud. The entire scope of my personality and the decisions I make in my life and the way I interact with people all comes down to this one aspect of my self. I know my worth. And it took a stranger to make me realize this truth. Oh friends. If only I could grant this knowledge to every person in the world. If people would stop underestimating their capabilities, we could do SO much. If everyone knew their worth, we would be unstoppable. I love the idea of every individual tapping into all the happiness that comes from being at peace with one's self.
Of course, I don't feel like this every waking moment of every cotton-pickin' day. I have days where I hate myself and doubt every.single.thing I do; my body is fat, my face is boring, I should be a better daughter, why did I go back to school? But that's normal and it passes. I'm not saying this to brag (I hope it doesn't sound that way) because it's not a matter of pride. More, it's something that brings lasting happiness and clarity. I wish it for everyone, the peace that comes with a strong sense of self.
I now consider myself a complete professional when it comes to partying all night (i.e., drinking and dancing) and waking up in the morning loving myself. I know all the tips and tricks to never having a hangover and never being sick. For example: I danced in 2012 with a Diet Coke vodka in my hand, went to bed at 3AM, then woke up 4 hours later feeling, you guessed it, AWESOME. Here's how:
1. Prepare with hydration. Drink. Water. Lots and lots and lots of water. Not like a binge gulp right beforehand, but all day long. Not anything but water; no artificial anything, no Powerade, Gatorade, Lifewater, SoBe, energy drinks. Just water and lots of it.
2. Eat a well balanced dinner.
3. Add no sugar to your alcohol.
4. Dance and stay active while drinking. If you just sit around it's much easier to believe you're not as tipsy as you actually might be.
5. Drink some more water.
6. Don't ever over do it. No "good time" is worth that left-for-dead feeling the next morning.
7. Know your limits and don't be afraid to say, "no more for me, thanks."