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Archive for November, 2010

The mango and I have a relationship. It’s not always a good one. It can cause me pain. Not sure it hurts the mangoes at all though, other than in that they are eaten, but despite some claims that vegetables (and I will generalize to plants) can, in fact, scream, I cannot feel bad about the act of consuming them in a PETA (Plant Eating Tastes Awesome) sense. Mangoes however, have an undeniable power over me. I love everything about them.

Nutritionally, they are fabulous. Lots of oranginess, which generally means lots of carotenoids that can be converted to vitamin A by humans as needed, potassium, and vitamin C. There’s also lots of healthy dietary fiber to make you feel full and move along, all the while fighting colon cancer. All that for a scant 135 calories, with a hell of a tasty flavor kick in this bad-ass fruit that is a member of the Poison Ivy family. Which is, incidentally, why some people’s lips swell if they scrape the mango skins with their teeth- the oils in the skin are the potentially problematic bit.

I just love mango. Fresh mango, dried mango, mango salsa, mango-flavored bubble tea, etc. I can’t seem to help myself! Which is the problem, unfortunately. I taste mango and I am like a junkie- no self control, I just keep eating until there is no more available for me to eat! Costco has dried mangos for sale, which are like fresh mangoes, but even more concentrated! And they’re chewy, which is just as delicious as them being delicious and juicy fresh! The problem, however, is that they are sold in 30oz bags. That’s just under two pounds of dried mango.

According to one site, fresh mangoes are about 80% water. I found that 1c fresh mango is 107 calories is about 165g. 107 calories of dried mango takes up only 38g, meaning they’re about 13% water. which all translates to that one bag of dried mangoes being the equivalent of  about 17 fresh mangoes. SEVENTEEN. Thats a lot of mango. You would think. Except, you see, I am incapable of stopping.

I would be hard pressed to eat 17 fresh mangoes. The time it takes to cut and eat each one and the effort adds up. I would probably be bloody from accidentally stabbing myself if I tried. But when they’re delicious and prepared in such an easy to eat form? Why would I NOT eat 17 mangoes? So that is what I do. I, with great effort, managed to make a bag of these dried crackgoes last three whole days once. It was a record for me.

But, here, you might begin to see why the mangoes’ power over me might not be entirely, 100% a wonderful thing. Because as much as I love every second of eating those tantilizing, wonderful mango strips, my gastrointestinal system is not generally equipped to deal with the influx of 17 mangoes over, on average, 24 hours. It results in, we’ll say, a bit of a fiber overload. I can and do deal, because I cannot stop myself, and it causes no long term harm. But I do not learn. I do not learn how to self-regulate my mango intake.

I will fight you for that last mango strip. You have been warned.

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What is it about a song or music that affect us so deeply? I don’t know for certain that all people are susceptible to this effect, but it seems likely that a majority of people are, since music has been sunk so deeply into our human psyches as a power or even magic. It is rare ceremonies that don’t include music of some form, be it a band, a choir, chanting, or a simple bell ringing. Music’s effect on the thoughts and moods of an an individual seems almost taken for granted in some circumstances and incidental in others.

Incidental in the sense that if you catch yourself speeding down the highway you might notice a certain song that moves you helping move your more quickly along. For me, it’s songs I love, happy songs, that make me drive a bit more quickly. I think for others, anger and drums might do it. Perhaps the mood and music suited to a particular action might vary, but the ability of music is still there. This is true even in folks like me who might as well be tone-deaf. I love karaoke, but sure as hell can’t sing. The music still makes it fun anyway.

I wonder at times about the chicken and the egg of it though. Do I appreciate a certain sort of song because I am already in the mood, or does the song change my mood to match? To be sure, there are times I think, “Hey, I really want to listen to that particular song!” And through the wonder of technology, make it so. But more often, I am already there. I am singing, or stomping, or dancing, or crying and the music, when finally noticed, somehow manages to match.

I wonder about the art of putting together soundtracks because it has a similar, almost subconscious feel if it is done properly. It’s a thing where, if it is perfect, you don’t always notice until after the fact. Matching mood to music, using the deeply embedded pathways it weaves in our mind is a skill that I imagine it must take time to master.

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Cold

I am a cold weenie as it turns out. I just don’t like it, at all. If my nose hairs freeze, it is too cold. If my fingertips get so cold scraping the windshield even though gloves that they hurt like hell as they thaw, it is too cold. I can do rain. I can do grey, overcast dreary skies for months on end. While the sun on the snow can indeed be beautiful, I’m really not a fan of it for more than about two days. When my pickup’s clutch pedal is stiff and feels like I’m shoving it through molasses, it is too fucking cold.

I have decided that I need to move somewhere warm. No idea if it will really pan out, but I am trying. I’ll live there for a couple of years and then decide if I really am a heat person. There is a chance that I’m not. I might really just be a coastal person, someone who likes the middle range forever. If that turns out to be true, I can definitely live with it. As it stands though, I’ve never really lived anywhere where an air conditioner was really useful for more than about three weeks out of each year. We’ll see what I think of it. I know I don’t like mosquitoes, but they can get pretty bad here too when they want to, so I’m not sure any place is really safe on that front.

Only 6 months from now and then I’ll finally be warm again!

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Exhaustion? Failure? Surrender?

It is now a full day after the most important test in my life. Unfortunately, I do not think I am exaggerating. This test was years in coming and I have spent the last three and a half year and tens of thousands of dollars preparing for it. Then I had the privilage of paying $550 dollars in order to spend seven and a half hours in front of a computer screen taking it. I have had the last three weeks ‘off.’ Meaning that none of my normal duties were required, but I studied. And studied. And then happened to study some more from a different resource. I find out if I passed sometime after the new year

The days immediately before the test were an oddly surreal time. The thing, the thing that had been the focus of so much time, energy and pain was nearly at hand. There were moments of odd surrender when I knew that there was no time left. What I did not know by now was not going to be learned in the feverishly panicked moments that I spent reading over and over and going through lists once more. But during those panicky moment I KNEW that if I failed by just a little, just a few points, I would know that I should have studied that one chart, that one packet, just that much more closely.

I ate terribly. I did not exercise. I had beer, wine, and spirits in occasional blowouts or blowups of stress. My stomach began to revolt and tried to dissolve itself in protest. I did not enjoy the last few days before this exam. I would pass people in the hallways of the hospital and shoot random questions at them. What drug do they think would be most effective for this disease? If you open a patient up with this condition, what organ will you see first? What would these symptoms mean to you if the patient was from this certain geographical region. And, most of all, which bacteria/virus/parasite/fungus/toxin/etc causes X, Y, or Z? It would be accurate to say that this test consumed my life for a while.

Then, I went and took it and if I had to guess, I’d say I failed. But that’s what everyone says they feel like. Often with very colorful language just before they go binge drinking to purge the memories. I am no different. Fortunately, something like 90% of applicants that are qualified to sit for the test do pass it. So on that end, at least, odds are good, and that really is some small comfort. The misery loves company sort of comfort.

Today was an odd day though. There is still much I have to do, most of it on a timeline and all of it requiring a significant outlay of effort, but I feel entirely disconnected. I feel like I am severely hung over. I am exhausted and feel slightly sick. I am sore, my stomach is still unhappy, and I can barely stay awake. I want nothing more than to melt away and have no responsibilities for a good while. The fear that has been driving me is gone, and apparently in it’s grasp, everything else has been worn away. I’d be surprised if I do not come down ill with something after this, just because so much stress for so long and not taking care of one’s health followed by a break seems to be the recipe for a cold. I got the flu vaccine just for this, so that I am less likely to be taken advantage of by that opportunistic viral demon.

Now that the fear has faded, I hope I can learn to be a real person again in the oncoming weeks.

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Starbursts of Joy

Sometimes you just need a good day. You can’t make them happen, not the really good ones.  You can make okay, or sorta good, or even fun days happen, but the Really Good Days are something that happens when the stars align and declare that it shall be your day. And then it is. Things just work out, and things are awesome.

You oversleep, but it’s okay because you don’t actually have to be anywhere at any time or do anything other than a couple light errands. You might just have overslept because your bed was the perfect temperature, neither too hot nor too cold, and even your toes were perfectly warm. The somewhat odd, very vivid, but not unpleasant dreams lull you back as well since it really would be interesting to know what happens next. You even have a cuddly kitty purring next to you, more than happy for you to stay still and comfortable.

You might meet a very attractive person of the gender you prefer whilst talking to a friend that also happened to be at the supermarket. It turns out that your friend knows this hottie and knows they’re single. You talk a little, you flirt, and then you go about your business with a huge grin on your face and the music turned up because they were hot, you were hot, the conversation was fun, and in this situation, even if nothing more ever comes from it, a fun memory was made. But there is definitely potential.

The weather is even okay. Not that you have to be out in it, but that you could and it would be sunny, even if a little cool for your taste. But just cool enough that the double latte from the corner barista that you bought with the gift certificates you were given after doing a Good Deed feels perfectly warm and appreciated against your fingers. You might sip it as you run errands that need to be done at friendly local businesses that know you by name and smile when you come in.

Then, that evening, you are able to catch up on a couple episodes of your favorite shows as you snack on the delicious food you made from your spoils of the earlier supermarket trip. You chat with a buddy, in person or online,  and have a energetic and slightly risque exhange in good fun and later listen and discover a couple new, soon to be favorite songs with Pandora. You aren’t worried about the things that you’re “supposed” to be doing because right now, all is right with the world. It makes for the Good Day.

Tomorrow I may be back to the regularly scheduled grind, but today was a lovely day off.

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Outage

I have temporarily lost internet at my home, so updates may not happen and will not be on schedule if they do for the next week or so. Sorry for any inconvenience this causes. Rest assured, regular postings will resume once the technical difficulties are resolved.

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What the hell is up with mood swings? Sometimes they make sense, if something particularly unpleasant or something awesome happens, it would make sense from you mood to become sad or happy. But I don’t really understand the random, for no reason blahs. Or worse, the sudden inexplicable onset of the desire to smash something into itty bitty pieces.

According to a quick google search, these swings mean that I may have manic-depressive tendencies, be deficient in B vitamins, or I may be smoking too much pot. That’s an interesting trifecta of possibilities, but I’m going to tend towards it being the combination of Boards happening soon, a paper and presentation happening soon, having to travel soon and the stress of feeling completely unprepared for all of them.

There are many things I could do to combat this. Go for a walk, meditate, medicate, prepare, plan, study. But actually enacting any of these possible plans would require a little thing called motivation which the anger has apparently eaten. Instead I am typing. Because it is a sideways activity, meaning it neither takes the energy fixing the issue would, nor does it aggravate it. Sideways it is.

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