The Burning Crash at the end of this Whole30

The entry formerly titled “Re-Entry Continues”

Stories of failure are always more fun to tell than stories of success. It’s the one redeeming quality they have over being the shittier of the two in experience. (Side note – arguably a pretty big redeeming quality, as you can tell a story again and again, but the experience of the moment passes?) Stories of success don’t do anything but either make people feel bad for not doing something similar, or inspire others to reach beyond what they thought they could personally do into a whole new and better life. Whatever, right?

I was doing so-so, slowly slipping off the Whole30 wagon. I had written this stuff:


Re-entry Day  (4/10)

I have Whole30 everything except the muffin I cave in and eat midmorning because a bunch of them were left in the room and one was poppyseed. Not worth it — gave me the drowsies, as I knew it would have to. Gonna have to think more than twice next time.

Re-entry Day  (4/11)

Today is strictly Whole30.

And was gonna go back and fill in the gaps and the rest later, when I found out my grandmother had passed away (more on this later. Maybe). Although she was living in Georgia at the end of her life, she’d spent most of mine (and hers too, I’m pretty sure) in Michigan, which is where her husband was buried and where everything was set for her to go, too. So I cancelled my Saturday appointments (Easter weekend and all) and made a drive.

I even packed Whole30 snacks and lunches for the ride up. And non-Whole30 trailmix for the ride home. I knew.

I knew Whole30 was over. Pretty much as soon as I crossed the Michigan state line, it was. (Partly because driving through Ohio was the worst)

Part of traveling, being a guest, hospitality, is food and eating. I was not going to be that guy who shows up to crash at the house of cousins not seen in years and then stick my nose up at any offered food or drink. Nope.

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings, and I ordered a burger. On a bun n’ urrthang. With cheese. (I did decline the very sweet looking strawberry margarita offered me by my aunt) The next morning my dad poured me a cup of coffee, and because he knows me and I’ve always taken it cream/no sugar, that’s how he made it.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Had a beer in the afternoon. That night my dad wanted to treat me to ice-cream. Again, I could have said no, I guess. After that all bets were off. I ate like five donuts Sunday morning (at which point my dad even commented, “Man, when you go off, you go way off.” We had Mickey-Dees for dinner. I slept in in the mornings, lethargic. I did a lot of sitting, but I didn’t run. My ankles swelled up (especially after the drive). I had what I retrospectively think was a migraine* the day I drove home (which struck just as I got out of the car, and which I at this moment am suddenly realizing I should be grateful did not strike on the road…). I didn’t go blind, but I did have a headache that got worse and worse and eventually made me nauseous hours and hours later.


So in the world of predictable outcomes, I fell hard off the wagon and it hurt. I am now navigating toward a more reasonable middle path. I won’t really be cataloging it anymore, although I am still noticing how different foods make me feel. I used to be able to drink a whole pot of coffee by myself and feel fine, but now it makes me jittery and I have trouble sleeping. Sugar is definitely a factor in all of that. I am once again a victim of the after-lunch logi pretty often. I get sleepy in the afternoon.

The school year is headed toward it’s end (which means students are just about at their worst), and my training program is about to begin. I am scrambling to make enough money to cover myself during my training months when I won’t be able to work as much, and I’m also knee-deep in pre-work for the course. I’m also keeping up with my Couch-to-5K program (mostly), so finding the time and the energy to invest in cooking as I had before has gotten much harder. We still grocery shop pretty well, but when I’m subbing, I buy cafeteria lunch. I don’t get the cookies or puddings anymore. But when we have appetizer fiesta and other teachers bring cookies, I don’t say no. There is often regret.


*I used to get blinding migraines, like I would know it was coming on because I would have a spot in my vision where I couldn’t see anything. Sort of like when you look at a light and look away, except it wouldn’t fade, and if unmedicated, would slowly grow to fill more and more of my field of vision, as gradually my head began to hurt like crazy and light was impossible to bear and I became nauseated. This only happened a handful of times in my life, mostly in like middle and high school, I think once in college.

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Stuff I’m Into: Podcasts

I’ve been listening to a bunch of podcasts lately. I accidentally overreached my data-speed limit (so my phone doesn’t cut out or charge extra, but it does slow down my data after a certain amount) by listening to so many, because sometimes even at home I had turned off the wi-fi settings. I would listen while driving, doing chores, and sometimes even running or walking.

I re-visited a list of podcasts generated for me almost a year ago by a friend whose tastes are similar to mine, and so whom I trust to curate media. His recommendations for listening and viewing content have always been pretty spot on.

I also had recently started listening to (see: binging on) a podcast my friend Catie had tuned me in to, called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. I really got into it, and managed to catch up right before they started in on the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (more on this later).

For my drive to Michigan (more on this later also), I pre-loaded a bunch of them so that even in dead zones with no reception, I would be able to listen to them.

I’m using Stitcher, the app for my phone, and have started using the “Listen Later” list. I have it set to download that content (dead-zone friendly), and so when I have time, I go in and add things to the list that have popped up in the podcasts I’m following. When I don’t have time to browse, I can just hit the list, and it will take me to stuff I’ve already picked out for myself.

I have a completeness complex, and it’s hard for me to popcorn listen to episodes without trying to also pick up the older recordings. Some of the podcasts actually do tell a story in order, so it makes more sense to start at the beginning, and others are topic-oriented and don’t require that at all. I’ve been slowly getting better about just picking a topic here or there to listen.

Some of them are informative, some are story-oriented (story telling, creative nonfiction type stuff), and others are fictional. I’m finding I enjoy the sciencey ones quite a bit. I have always loved learning new things, and while we all engage a lot of functional modalities in learning, I have always considered myself to lean on the aural side.

Some of these I’ve been listening to for a while (from the aforementioned friend’s list, but also from using the NPROne app). But in general, I like this more organized and systematic way to control what I want to queue up and when.


Some of my favorites lately have been:

– “Each episode examines a new dark tale from history in a style similar to a campfire experience. Lore exposes the darker side of history, exploring the creatures, people, and places of our wildest nightmares.”  I like Lore because it combines history with a sort of sense of the occult that I like. I’ve been listening to this one for about a year now, though I haven’t listened to every episode yet. Episodes run about 30 minutes.

Myths and Legends
 – “This show brings you folklore that has shaped our world. Some are incredibly popular stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories that might be new to you, but are definitely worth a listen.” I like Myths and Legends because I like stories, and I like learning about cultures.




Stuff You Should Know – This one is a new listen for me, and ranges all over the place. Pretty sciency, super interesting. This is part of the bigger How Stuff Works family. The topics seem random, but the podcast is informative and fun.




Radiolab – This one is also fairly new for me, though I’ve heard talk of it in the past (and it probably popped up from time to time on the NPROne app). Sciency, social-studiesy, super interesting.




Planet Money – Economics, of course. I started following this one as part of the NPROne App also. Episode lengths vary, but they’re usually quite manageable (around 20 minutes). I never liked much or understood economics in school but lately I find it fascinating.



Outside Podcast – I got totally hooked in the Science of Survival episodes first (freezing to death?! Dying in the desert?!). They also do interviews, but I’m not fully caught up yet. This is sort of like adventure stories plus some sciencey stuff.




The Black Tapes – This one is fiction, although it presents like investigative reporting. Really enjoying the story that is being spun so far, though I’m only about halfway into season 1. I don’t want to spoil anything, but… supernatural shit, y’all. Happenin’.




S-Town – This got some good PR a little while back, but I’m enjoying it so far. The vibe is similar to Serial. It’s a story, non-fiction, and the characters are really intriguing. Nine episodes, about an hour each, and really pretty website. Also the exit song gets stuck in my head every. single. time.



This American Life – The proto-podcast, in my mind… my podcast savvy friend was listening to this weekly on the radio back before podcasts were an on-demand thing. Of course this stuff is always interesting. Stories on a theme, nonfiction.




The Truth – “Movies for your ears.” Fiction, one-shot episodes. I’ve only just started listening to this one, too. They vary in length, and are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes reflective and thoughtful, so far, all interesting.



Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
, as mentioned above, has me re-reading a beloved series and finding all kinds of new meanings in thangs. As mentioned, I rocketed through the first two books/seasons and am now reading along with season/book 3.




Sawbones – A Marital Tour of Misguided Medicine. I really really just started listening to this, but it’s showing promise: a physician wife informs her layman husband about the medical uses of some thing or other. It’s funny and informative, and I sometimes find myself laughing out loud.


So that’s the top handful for the moment….  My Michigan drive was definitely made better by a bunch of the above, mostly Lore, Black Tapes, S-Town, and Myths and Legends, plus Career Day (the episodes I listened to were all still “Career Day” episodes), and some Stuff to Blow Your Mind.

Do you listen to any podcasts? What do you like? Why do you like it? Leave a comment and tell me about it!


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Blame Mercury

I used to be more into astrology. I have always liked the way the planets move as symbols through that picture, and can be woven as a story. Much as any intuitive style non-science, it’s easy to make fun of astrology as vague, useless, completely based on rubbish, but I think that it’s pretty cosmic… that humans want to feel like their own small dramas are related to the grander picture of the cosmos, and so feel more connected to something larger than themselves.

“It must be a full moon,” is something you’ll hear when people are acting crazy. When technology rebels, “I bet Mercury is retrograde.”

The tiny planet Mercury is a symbol of communication, speed, and travel, as befits the mythological god who zips across the skies in order to messenger for the Olympian gods. Retrograde is the state of a planet’s apparent backward motion (from the perspective of earth) — like when the train you’re on drifts forward slightly, but the train next to you is still, so it looks like that other train is backing up (this is weirder when you’re stopped at a light, and the truck next to you moves, and YOU feel like, visually, at least, you are going backward, and you panic because OH SHIT you do not wanna crash the car behind you, that would be so stupid, and you thought you had your foot on the brake, and .. oh, you do. Whew.) This is much more palpable when the thing you are looking at takes up your whole visual field, robbing you of other stationary objects that ground your senses and remind you of what motion is real.

Anyway, Mercury retrograde gets blamed for all kinds of tardiness, mishaps, communication errors, and tech fails. And today I’m going to add to the pile.

I got home Monday afternoon and tried to use the internet, but there was no connection supported. It was that horribly annoying message “Wifi secure, no internet connection.” You’re like why the hell do I want to be on the home network if it doesn’t connect to the wider world? I have nothing to say to my printer or other devices that I can’t just walk in there and tell them myself.

The previous day, I had gone to my tutor assignments, and not one but both students were no-shows (…I had never had a no show before in this tutor life).

Over the weekend, as mentioned, I brilliantly left my laptop charging cable at school under the teacher’s desk (not actually the first time I had left a cable under that desk, but before it was miniP and so Not Really A Problem). I ended up using miniP for all my weekend computer needs, which means I basically didn’t use computers much, because miniP is excruciatingly slow. This one was a failure of my own attention.

Friday afternoon I had an online lesson go completely toiletward because of messed up connections. At the time, I was convinced it was the server, but now I know better. (I was also nervous because although I knew I had enough battery for this lesson, I was also using up a very limited resource at that point.)

Now, my phone is really, really going. Like, it’s been a brick for a while, but I tend to not worry about that until it becomes such a hassle (like it actually won’t do the functions that matter to me) that I am forced to deal with it. The time has come. The battery can’t last the day. This, like the internet box (it turns out), has been fading for some time, but it seemed to intensify at an alarming rate just in the last four days or so.

As of today, the internet box is replaced. Apparently, the other one was just old. They sent us a fresh version (of exactly the same item) and I plugged in all the wires last night, and viola, welcome back to the world.

While I was on the phone with “Help help my internet is out plz fix” (for an hour), the lady asked more than once if I had been noticing any issues with the internet lately, with speed, or connectivity, and I stubbornly insisted that I had not. But, actually, I have. I’ve had connectivity drop, but then reconnect fairly quickly. And once you reconnect, you can forget about and ignore the momentary lapse. It was nothing, because it’s gone now.

I still need to deal with the phone. I have… have to call today, to see if I can switch my service to the nicer one I have inherited, or if I will have to buy a new one.

Mercury retrograde is getting the blame for all these things. I was sure it was the ’cause’ and, lo and behold, retrograde is currently happening.
But, I would also like to point out that while all this tech breakdown is annoying, it does make me fix all the things I would never otherwise fix. So, there’s that.

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Whole30 Week 5 (Re-Entry)

I have to admit that I weighed myself last week. It’s technically not supposed to be allowed on Whole30, because you aren’t supposed to be thinking about your weight during the protocol, but I gave in and stepped on the scale at the gym. I had in fact lost a little bit. I think it’s more the running, coupled with the fact that I have just not been eating as many carbs (I haven’t had any white potatoes, even! Just.. the recipes I’ve been making don’t call for them, so I’ve not been doing it!). I don’t say this to gloat.. if anything, it shows that you will likely lose weight on Whole30, even if you aren’t restricting the amount you eat in any way.

Because it’s not the kind of diet that has anything to do with amounts. I have eaten more food this month than I normally do. I have simply eaten almost no un-food. I did not consume calories that left me empty yet. But I sure as heck never ‘went hungry,’ in fact I felt fully justified in eating any damn time I felt anything resembling hunger because, at worst, it was a misguided sense of biological clock that suggested it, and what was I going to do, overdo it on bananas? So give me the bacon (sugar free), the fried chicken, give me so much soup I can’t sit up properly anymore. Give me the scrambled eggs and the sweet potatoes and all the healthy fats…

I’m not underweight like I was during the dark times, so don’t worry. I’m still within a healthy range, and I’m looking and feeling fit, rather than scraggly. (Like if you need numbers… my ‘normal’ range from Japan life was 125-135, changing seasonally. Lately, I’d been holding steady at 130 for many months now [this is only important to me because I wanted to be able to deadlift my own weight]. In the dark times I was as low as 112. I don’t like to talk about it because everyone thinks stress-not-eating is a better than stress-eating, but it isn’t better, it’s just a different response that is just as unhealthy. However, I’ve been really happy with the 130 readout, and wouldn’t mind a bit more if it came in the form of muscles! The only problem here is that shape changes require new clothes… sigh).


Anyway, that confession aside… it’s time to work on re-entry!


I am still on the fence a bit about whether to do it in order or to slow-roll it. I think I might do a little of both. It’s a lot of work for me to plan out a daily meal schedule (hah.. hahaha) so for now… I just allowed myself to cruise the grocery store and decided that legumes are not off limits, and neither are things with a negligible amount of sugar.

Re-Entry Day 1 (4/2)

Sunday. I treat myself to the grocery store buffet line and include bacon even though it has sugar in it from the curing. I also get white potatoes which I somehow had not eaten until this day.

I feel more or less the same.

Lunch is a weird mashup of fish and finely chopped carrots, red onion, and celery, all mixed with mustard. Not super good, but passable.

A hearty snack of unsweetened banana chips and almonds, mmm mm.

For dinner I make some baked turbot as fast as I can, because I was tutoring and then RPG-ing and it got late and I was still hungry.

Re-Entry Day 2 (4/3) – some legumes?

Today I actually ate some legumes. Just a little. I used soy sauce in my morning bradycakes and then had a snack in the afternoon that was a little bowl full of dried crunchy chickpeas (kinda spicy!) that were on sale at the store this week. I feel a liiiiittle bit gassy after the chickpeas, but I have also been told if you eat the beans without the rice, you’ll have the gas (but if you eat the beans together with rice it completes the protein and you don’t have gas… I’m not basing this on anything but hearsay)!

Anyway… lunch was leftover turbot and some applesauce (actually this apricot-applesauce, not sweetened or anything — apples are sweet enough!) and some handfuls of banana chips and almonds because I was just bored and munchy.

At dinner time I made some Spicy Cauliflower which turned out pretty good, to go with the last of the turbot.

I guess tomorrow I’m back on the Whole30 for a couple of days, but it’s easier once you’re used to it. I should have tried peanut butter, but we don’t actually have any (Scott eats almond butter and for months I just haven’t).

Re-Entry Day 3 (4/4)

Well the chickpeas are definitely getting blamed for making me gassy. I had another small bowl of them after dinner just for funsies. To be fair, I am not saying all legumes are responsible for this effect, because these are a specific kind of dried product with other stuff in it too (I should have thought about the other ingredients in the spice blend that covers the chickpeas!).

Tuna-avocado bowl for lunch with some chickweed. Generous helpings of banana chips and almonds. A whole pot of coffee (with cinnamon!) in the afternoon (oops…). To be totally honest, I’ve been sleeping rather well with this Whole30 business, even when I have had a whole carafe of coffee to myself in the afternoon. So… you know, there’s that.

I’ve made my peace with eating baby animal so long as it comes from somewhere nearby. I used to buy the stuff from New Zealand, and I got nothing against NZ or their baby animals, but if there is lamb to be had at the farmers’ market from my favorite farm, then I am so down. So I made lamb burgers with non-dairy tzatziki, which is a-ma-zing (the lamb? Or the sauce? BOTH, my friends. BOTH.)… So delicious. A handful of chickweed, the last of the cauliflower, and I’m set to go.

Tomorrow is a day at school, so I’ve got to be ready with packed lunch and snacks!

Re-entry Day 4 (4/5)

Breakfast bradycakes, and then lunch is a great leftover set, including lamb burger and the non-dairy tzatziki, with some cut up carrot and celery sticks to also dip in the tzatziki. I brought along a little hummus for some more chickpea attempts, and dipped the carrot and celery in that too. Plus the almonds + banana chips that has become a go-to snack.

For dinner I do baked salmon with the delicious nuts and herbs and coconut oil (which is still almost painfully amazing), and a round of baked veggies. I use this recipe, although instead of just sweet potatoes, I also used some red onion and brussel sprouts, halved. Made the sauce, too. Delicious, though all told, pretty time consuming.

Re-entry Day 5 (4/6)

Bradycakes breakfast, and leftovers lunch (salmon, yes please, with some of the veggies and sauce to go on ’em!), with the snack of almonds + banana chips, and applesauce.

For dinner I make Mexican Pressure Cooker Beef, and then later do some Brussel Sprouts Slaw. I end up really frustrated because of my evening schedule having to build around an online lesson smack in the middle of everything (from 6 to 7pm), and the MexiBeef being done looooong before the veggies. I’m frustrated again by how long some of these things take to make, and how much prep is required. (The beef is relatively easy.. the slaw is a timesuck. I just keep making it because it is tasty. And I love Brussel Sprouts Chips.)

Re-entry Day 6 (4/7)

Bradycakes as usual for breakfast (now I’m doing combos of blueberries and smashed up frozen raspberries), and leftovers for lunch — the last of the MexiBeef is coming to school with me (along with a tiny thing of cilantro leaves) and a container of sprout slaw.  And a baggie of almonds and banana chips of course, the last of them (until grocery trip).

I stare longingly at muffins that are offered to me, leftovers from a class breakfast before a field trip.

In fact, I know they are in the staff room right now, and that are calling to me. I don’t even like this particular flavor of muffins, but oh, muffins as a class of food… I almost broke for thee. I wondered, why not, I mean, I’m done with the 30. But gluten-bearing grains with that much sugar aren’t supposed to come til later. And if not later, then I wanna wait for a muffin flavor I really like to consider worth-it enough to capitulate.


Also there is nothing left for dinner in the house, so we end up getting burgers. I do my best, but I’m pretty sure there was a little dairy in the sauce that was a little bit still on the burger I ate. No bread or cheese or whatnot. Um, but also fries. Ingredientially fine, habitually problematic, and so delicious. Probably not okay. But I sleep well.

Re-entry Day 7 (4/8)

Grocery store in the morning, and a huge helping of the old standby (eggs n’ sweet potato hash).

Today I threw in the towel and had some shwarma from Newroz Market. Worth it! The first bread I’ve had in a loong time, and it was so good. Very fresh (made in house), and the seasoning on the meat (I opted out of sauce because I still wanna keep away from dairy and sugar as much as possible) was amazing, and they are a Halal place, so I figure it’s gotta be clean stuff. This sandwich was delicious. Also, it was way past lunchtime and we were tooling around south of town, totally pushing the foodclock.

I did take a nap later that afternoon, and I can’t say it wasn’t the breadcarbs, but still worth it.




I’ve been having technical difficulties (ranging from forgetting my power cable places, limiting my computer use, to losing home internet until a new modemrouter is shipped)…. so I’m gonna go ahead and post this, although it might need some edits later. I just wanna post it so I can leave this internet-having place and go to internetless home.

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Where your ‘pissed-off’ meets the world’s need

Just before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s calendar day, I was half-listening to the daily presentation/devotional at the school where I sometimes work as a substitute. It’s a Christian school, and the presentation that day was by the lady who runs the on-campus service learning center. She was encouraging the kids to take advantage of the no-school Monday to engage in community service.

At that school, all students have community service built in to their graduation requirement. Like most mandates, this has the effect, for many, of being another box to check. How many hours do you have left to do? What events can you attend that will count towards it, and when will you be done and able to let it go and focus on other things. Which I get. I still like that they have to do it, though, because it might have a chance of leaving some trace of impression on at least some of them, and when it comes to shaping high-schoolers, I have learned that you can’t make them appreciate what you want them to appreciate – you can lead those flighty young horses to water, but that’s it.

Anyway, after reminding them and us that Dr. King said anyone can be great, because anyone can serve, she projected a quote.

“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” (Frederick Buechner. Although the quote may more accurately be “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”) She said that where your joy meets a need in the world, that is where you must serve.

And I was thinking about this, and had just recently finished reading A Man Called Ove, which if you haven’t read it, first of all, please do, and second of all, you should know it’s about a curmudgeon who does not seem to feel much nor express any joy. Where he serves is where he gets irritated. And I sort of laughed to myself and thought, for some of us, maybe instead we should serve where our greatest pissed-off-ness meets the world’s need.

And then I started to think about what pisses me off.

I like to think I’m a pretty easygoing person, that I love things, and that hate has no place for me. But I hate waste. I just hate it, and I always have. This is in my sociological DNA. I am a product of two sides of the same coin — and while I don’t actually have a memory of my parents telling me “Waste not, want not,” it was encoded into the way they were brought up, because their parents had no choice. So even though, as I live in modern America, I do typically have a choice, I am still an echo of my grandmother who nearly starved to death in Europe during the Second World War.

It isn’t only food waste that I hate, because I hate wastes of time and other things as well – materials, produced things, energy. I hate wasted effort, even.

The only other thing I hate is carelessness that leads to wanton destruction. So, people who text and drive and thereby endanger everyone else on the road at that moment? That makes me angry. People who can’t be bothered to find a trash can (to say nothing of any attempts that could be made to like, I don’t know, reduce trash in the first place) and who just throw their shit out the car window? Yeah, that makes me strangely apoplectic, which can be absurd as there is usually no one around by the time I’m walking across that parking lot and there is just trash strewn about. It also pisses me off when our landlord puts yard waste (like branches or whatever) into our trash can — because fuck, those are just sticks! Sticks don’t need to take up space and emit gases in a landfill as they decompose! They need to just decompose and enrich the fucking soil or something!


Okay. So I guess there are actually a lot of things that piss me off.

The problem with motion motivated by your greatest anger rather than your joy can be how overwhelming the negative can feel. I’m never gonna be able to stop assholes from throwing trash out of their cars, even IF I were to run up on one of them and give them what-for. Even if I take the branches out of my own trash can, I can’t stop the landlord and anyone else on the block from putting sticks in their own trash cans.

My pissed-off hits the pavement in a place where I kinda feel powerless.

But, that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. I’m kind of heartened when I see other people and other groups moving on the same stuff that bothers me. I did a few mornings with the Nashville Food Project, gleaning from Whole Foods (which was actually really quick, just cruising through and picking up the stockpiles of donations they had set aside for us), sorting and then helping a bit with food prep. It’s encouraging to see that there are in fact some systems in place to scoop up the unsold food and repurpose it.

Over winter break, I was part of a group discussion about gleaning ugly vegetables for processing (chopping, freezing, etc.) to sell to local restaurants, so that the restaurants can boast “local produce,” and the ugly stuff can be consumed instead of just picked over because it isn’t perfect looking. (Because heck, if you’re in a grocery store and you have a massive bin of apples, you’re going to pick the nice ones. Why shouldn’t you? Even I do this. I could very easily nom on the misshapen one, or cut off that tiny tiny bruise or bad spot, but why should I?) But I’m starting to see ads on social media for a home-food-ingredient-delivery service that does just this out of Cali.

While I’m disappointed that it seems that boat is sailing without me, I am also glad to see it’s sailing.

I also just signed up for Compost Nashville, because through a series of misadventures in composting by myself, I have finally given and and admitted I should leave it to the pros. But I’m glad there are pros. And I feel like… I could be one, too, I would just have to narrow my focus and choose it.

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Obsessive Tendencies

For the past few days, I’ve been thinking a great deal about something.

It almost borders on obsession. And normally, that’s cool. When I’m having a fangirl moment, I can turn to outlets like this blog, and then whether my devotion is temporary or long-lived, it gets expressed, and I can move on.

Friday, for the first time in a long time, I locked my keys in the car. To me, doing this is a signal, a sort of symptom.* You are massively preoccupied. It normally correlates to a weird kind of anxiety, a spacey kind. My normal anxiety leads me to fastidiously check on things, to pat my pocket before I shut the door, to follow the habits I’ve built to guard against this very accident. There’s a level of nervousness that drives this, because ain’ nobody go the time or the money to deal with a lockout.

But when those safeguards fail, and when I slip into that weird stare-at-the-wall-before-breakfast kind of melancholic anxiety, well… that yields different results. (One of which is enlisting the help of one math teacher, one security guard, two maintenance men, and the locksmith [huzzah] friend of said maintenance man to assist in breaking in to your car. A little scratched paint and gritted teeth, but no $80 fee.)

I won’t say this recent preoccupation is the direct cause of this event. But I am observing that they are happening around the same time.

It isn’t something people discuss in ‘polite company.’ It’s money.

I prefer not to think about money. This was all fine for some of my working life. I have no idea how it worked in Kansas, but somehow we lived within our so-meager means. In Japan, we were basically subsidized foreign explorers without much (most of us, anyway) in the way of responsibilities (most JETs don’t have families to feed, although some do have debt). It puzzled me for a little while, that we as JETs were making the basic equivalent of 36K a year, and that was such abundance, but the thing is, my expenses were quite low there – subsidized rent (I paid less than half what I now pay), plus no US income tax for those years meant that the 36K was pretty much the take-home pay. They were also good years to be earning yen because the dollar was up at that time. I digress. What I mean is, there was hardly a question of having enough, even given our desires and propensities to travel on breaks and try things like skiing for the first time.


I have what I call “obsessive tendencies,” which have been observed to serve me well in some ways (I can pretty much ascribe at least half of my good-grades record to these tendencies), but which can be massive bringdowns in other circumstances.

When I obsess about something, pour my energy into thinking about it, it’s not really voluntary. I could probably force myself to stop thinking about whatever it is for at least a little while, but it would take a massive effort, possibly some chemical assistance, and I think all the while some part of my brain would still be gnawing on it, unable to let it go.

This is part of what makes teaching a potentially terrible career choice for me. Teachers are never done anyway, but if you can’t learn to shut it off and take time to be a real person, you’ll eventually implode. I kind of imploded. I did learn resistance, but it still took such an effort, and yielded such half-assed results, that I ended up leaving the job at the end of last school year despite not having a solid plan.

When I was a teacher, I didn’t really have to think about money, either. I was still making more than I spent, though not by much (and partly because I had no time to go and spend it on things), so I didn’t crunch numbers and I didn’t really think about it.

Now, though, because I work three jobs, I do think about it. I have a spreadsheet that I built to help me calculate how many hours I need to schedule for myself in a given week to ‘break even,’ and I just recently recalculated it and re-calibrated it to a more realistic set of numbers (using actual averages, rather than just budgeted projections of what I hope I think I spend), and I had to face the sobering reality that I’m still not making ends meet. I’ve been losing money for six months now. Some months more, some less, and to be fair, I have a cushion (thanks, Japan life), but the fact that it’s happening, that I can calculate it and see how much it is happening, is something that has begun to weigh on me.

Sometimes, I crunch out the numbers and schedule out the week, and then the week flies by, and I feel like I have converted all my time into dollar signs, and my time is actually meaningless, because I’m spending all of it just to scrape up as much as I can, to slow (not stop, not yet) the hemorrhaging of funds from my savings account.

It sort of fucking sucks.

It’s a spiral of suck, in some ways. What I hate most about it is how stingy it makes me, how ungenerous of spirit, how I start to see things in terms of guarding what’s mine, how selfish it makes me feel, like I have to be selfish, even unto myself — I can’t ‘afford’ to give myself time off and must relentlessly make myself work more hours so that I can try to break even this month.

It’s also existentially depressing, seeing all my time as portioned off, and not really seeing tasks to accomplish, but rather hours to be invested, hours of billable work. If all my time is to be portioned out thusly, what purpose is really in any of it? It makes me appear reduced, even in my own eyes, to a stack of hours in a column on a calendar.

I recently heard a podcast about scarcity, so I wanted to share the link for that here as well. It’s Hidden Brain: The Scarcity Trap. I think my obsessive tendencies do relate to this in some ways, although I don’t want to act like I’m in the truly dire straits faced by some. I just have this terrible fear of getting into those kinds of traps, and, perhaps pompously, feel that I shouldn’t have to worry about that, because I am an intelligent, educated, practical and capable young woman.

I also fear that I will look back on this time and think, man, I was so free to determine my own schedule, and I didn’t even take advantage of it. I should have let the bank account slip a little bit, and taken the time available to me to do more creative projects and invest time in things like relationships, and learning new things.

If, in the future, I am in a somewhat demanding, structured, and decently paying job, I can totally see myself looking back in this way. From that vantage, where money is not an issue anymore, the value would then be placed on time and freedom as a resource, and I will look back at myself worrying about money and think it must have been silly to do so, because I ‘should have known’ it would turn out okay, that I would end up with a decent ‘real job’ that I could tolerate and which would replenish what savings were lost. But from here, where that future is not guaranteed, it’s hard to not obsess and worry about the money stuff. I’m torn between these two realities: the obsessive tendencies and the spreadsheets with numbers, and fighting against turning myself and my life into just numbers.

I’m more than that. Right?



Anyway, better go. Time’s a-wastin’ and I had scheduled this to be billable time. Better go clock in.



*It always makes me think of the day I locked my keys in the car twice. In one day. Back to back. It was utterly stupid, but it happened during a time of high stress when I didn’t think I was feeling stressed.

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Whole30 Week 4

Day 25 (Monday, 3/27)

I made butternut squash cakes for breakfast, along with an egg. But my cakies did not look like that. I have a tendency to try to flip things too soon if they are in a pan and require flipping. If you read that recipe, you’ll notice that nothing holds the cakies together except the act of being fried together. I’m not good at this. So I mostly had a mashy pile of hot butternut puree with some crispy bits. Still good though, still quite good.

So… if something is tasty, you just keep eating it.

For lunch, I had leftover halibut and cabbage slaw.

I had a snack of almonds and some dried apricots (basically candy… whoa, remember candy?).

For dinner, I had leftover halibut and cabbage slaw. This wasn’t super nice of me, because after that there was no ready food for Scott. (Sorry!) Oh, and the rest of the butternut puree, I ate that too. So remember how I said there is no substitute for ice cream? I was wrong. This is it. This shit is amazing. Although it’s basically baby food? I do not want to stop eating it, and am stopped only by the bottom of the tupperware. It was good warm, and it’s good cold too.

Day 26 (Tuesday, 3/28)

Breakfast! Is more of those mashy butternut cakes and an egg. I do better with the butternut stuff this time, but it’s still not holding together well. It’s still tasty, though.

For lunch I experiment a little more with eggs and make some Thai-style omelettes, which turn out better than I expected. Before making these, I put some short ribs in the slow cooker, although they will at this point not be done til like 9pm.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Whilst waiting, I pull a redux of the brusselsprout slaw, and it is again very good.

Day 27 (Wednesday, 3/29)

I start dinner first thing in the morning! Because it’s kalua pig slow cooker.

Breakfast is the last of the butternut squash cakies with some bacon. And an egg.

Lunch is the rest of the short ribs and my first try of cauliflower rice (just the frozen kind you get in bag), which was not half bad when drowned in shortrib sauce. Oh and some of the leftover Brussels sprout slaw too. And later like a million almonds because I was so bored trying to make myself work on grammar rules for the ACT.

Later I make some more red cabbage slaw, because I still have some sauce and half a red cabbage and we need a side for the massive amount of meat that will be ready in a few hours and Scott said he liked it! (Many reasons)

I premake tomorrow’s lunch too (some avocado tuna on greens, etc.) because I’m not working from home tomorrow..! Ahh!

Day 28 (Thursday, 3/30)

Back to raspberry bradycakes for breakfast, and my lovely pre-packed lunch of tuna avocado salad, the rest of the broccoli slaw, an apple, a banana, and a bunch of almonds.

After my programmer school interview I scarfed the ’emergency food’ Larabar I had stashed in my car, too. I immediately regretted it, because it was rather sweet (mostly dates), but also I wasn’t hungry, so that means I was eating it out of some kind of reward reflex or comforting ritual. I may have changed the ingredients, but I haven’t changed my mind, and it’s been 28 days!

For dinner I puree some curry-broccoli soup and fry up some of the pork to put in just as suggested. It’s really tasty, especially the bites with pork.

Day 29 (Friday, 3/31)

Going to work again (and locking my keys … and my lunch… in the car), same ol’ breakfast, and lunch is some pork, and some of the red cabbage slaw. Also a bunch of almonds and some dried apricots.

I snack on these anyway because unlike Thursday, on this day I do not have an interview, so I am not as worried about the adverse effects of the sugars dried fruit seems to be having. I’m blaming the ingredient-fine but consuming-wise-not-fine Larabar from the day before for making me feel so blah most of this day. I didn’t end up eating the pork, because I wasn’t near a microwave and didn’t want it cold.

More soup for dinner (again with the pork in it.. yum!), and some applesauce for dessert.

Day 30 (Saturday, 4/1)

This is funny. I didn’t realize my day 30 of Whole30 would fall on April Fool’s Day, but it’s totally appropriate, because do you think your Whole30 experience is over?! Time for cheeseburgers, milkshakes, and beer?! HAH! Think again! You still got like 12-15 days of re-entry protocol if you wanna do it right. Last year, I didn’t do this part right. I was so focused on making it to 30, that I paid no attention to what comes after 30. Not so this year! Whole 45! Whole forever! Okay that’s pushing it a bit…

Anyway, breakfast (and lunch, because why not eat the same thing twice in a row) is a return of the sweet potato hash and eggs! So good, and so stabilizing. I’m ready for something I know does me right, after almost a whole day previous of uncomfortable gas.   >.>

Dinner is gonna be leftovers (soup, pork, and red cabbage slaw).


It’s time to start looking at reintroduction plans!

Honestly, I will probably stay Whole30 until I have figured out exactly where this gassy feeling is coming from. I’ve blamed the dried fruit, but there is some possibility that it’s the almonds. I don’t want to test and falsely blame one of the reintroduction groups by going in too soon. But, I still want to start planning to buy and make some of this stuff!

Also, I’m really excited about non-gluten grains, because Scott has been toasting these gluten-free waffles that smell great and I really miss the waffles (and the muffins.. because muffins are like cake, but without the icing, and that is my favorite kind of cake).

Maybe I’ll take the slow roll… there are still a lot of compliant recipes I haven’t had a chance to try yet. Plus, planning an eating schedule that places the reintroduction in order and on the scheduled days seems like a lot of work.


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