Dispatches from Dietland

Two weeks before my friend’s wedding (and a too-tight bridesmaid dress) I decided to go on an all-out diet. I am feeling emotions I didn’t know I had – I didn’t know existed! The roller coaster of emotions has really thrown me through a loop. I’m a week in, and now I’m starting to level out long enough to process emotions.

First, I was all in. ALL IN! LET’S DO THIS!!

hhlg

Then, I started to get real, and you have to say good bye to the good friends, the great company, you won’t be able to keep for the next few weeks.

Good bye, cheese.

Pretty-cry

Good bye, chocolate & baked goods.

lccry

And the hardest one of all… good bye, alcohol intake.

Homeland-Claire-Danes-Crying1

You turn to television for sweet relief… something to escape. And you realize how much advertisement is about food. All the food you vowed not to eat.

tv

Because that’s all you can do now… watch TV. It’s the only thing you have enough energy to do.

The Food Channel is forbidden! OH MY GOD WHY IS THE TRAVEL CHANNEL AIRING THEIR “FRIED HEAVEN” ROAD TRIP SHOWS? You start convincing yourself the world is out to get you.

Everyone hates you and they have a vendetta against you.

I SWEAR EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE BACON.

Just as your energy reaches a new low, it’s time to eat a measured cup of cantaloupe melon. SUGAR RUSH!

paaaaaartykristenwiig

For 10 minutes straight, you start thinking ” I can totally do this, what was I bitching about, this is AMAZING.” And you believe yourself ,too! This is easy. This is real. You can do this! (You give yourself this pep talk several times a day.)

You also start realizing how many hours there are in the day. How many of them can you sleep? 3 out of the 5 stages of grief passed by, and it’s not even noon.

This is all an internal battle, a solitary struggle. But then there is family. Some of them are supportive, a sort of cheerleading section.

cheering_minions

You appreciate this bunch. You also question them. Did you really gain that much weight? (This can also be the lack of sugar in your system talking.)

There is another group of lovely family and friends that love you for who you are and therefore will not be impartial. They tend to say things like “you look great just the way you are,” and “you don’t need to diet!”

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They are clearly lying liars! YOU STEPPED ON THE SCALE! YOU KNOW THE TRUTH! YOU PUT THAT DRESS ON!!

Oh no… here it comes… rage. Angers from my feminist side at my need to general society’s thin-obsession. DAMN PATRIARCHY! I DO ME!

angry

It’s already post meridian, and your crazy has reached new levels. You can’t be trusted with anything.

You. Must. Develop. A. Plan. Something to channel all frustrations. Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”

1) Lettuce! Add lettuce to everything!

omnomnmnom

lettuce

 

2) Turn off the television, start making collages, wash your hair, take the dog out for a walk – it’s summer. Walk around, see people outside enjoying the day, ugh, people enjoying things. They are grilling, there’s meat on a grill and it smells soooooooo good. You’d eat the charcoal just to have a taste of that delicious pig on a stick.  Pretty soon you’re delirious. IS SOMEONE FRYING SOMETHING? WHY DOES EVERYTHING GO BACK TO FOOD?!

punchface

You head back inside. It was too much, you weren’t ready. But just like that another day has passed. Sleep is the most fun. You can dream about food without eating it.

The days pretty much look the same. But then, weirdly, you start developing a rhythm. Yeah, gurl, you got this!

chuckcontrol

You start using the phrase “natures candy” un-ironically, about fruits. Who are you?! Who cares? You are halfway there, living on a prayer, and this time next week you’ll be eating, drinking, dancing, and all this will be a distant memory!

crazydancing

shove food

 

I WIN, DIET! I WIN!

 

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Summer Pot Pourri

Now that Labor Day is just around the corner, I thought it was the best time to update my blog on the summer city-escapades!
And for arguments sake lets pretend I meant to do this entry now, and not that I let time pass and am now somehow playing catch-up. Try and say it, I’ll deny it!

Moving on… this was actually quite an eventful summer. I convinced my brother to move to Chicago, I graduated from the Second City Training Center Improv program, kept up my training for the marathon, did a drinking trolly (not my proudest moment), and Grief Bacon (our sketch/improv girl group) made several appearances throughout the city of Chicago.  Yeah, I’m cool like that. I’m kind of a big deal… in my head.
Most importantly, I convinced Jose to move! His “look-see” trip started with a meal at an Irish pub in Old Town.

I’m already winning.

Gratuitous food shot.

The weekend Jose came was also the 8mile run for training, and I made him come with me to the run. The forever trooper he is, he came and he ran 6miles. I promised him crepes and farmer’s market.

I think I delivered!

On Sunday I followed up with a Red Sox v Cubs match up. Yeah, Old Epstein v New Epstein. Little did we know at the time that it would also be one of Youk’s last games with the Red Sox. He bleached them soon thereafter.

Big Pappy was *thisclose*

That’s Youk!

Beer and baseball go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So… In my never-ending quest to convince my brother to move to Chicago I packed the weekend in with cupcakes AND comedy!

Red Velvet and cream cheese frosting between baseball and comedy.

Yes, it was perfect and hilarious. We met up with Aimee and Jen for a drink and then all headed over to laugh with not at: Marc Maron (my favorite), Hannibal Buress, and others – hosted by Sarah Silverman. Silverman was great, and on point! I laughed so hard I had tears coming down my cheeks. I also felt more neurotic after than I did before.

Funny side note about the evening: when we left it was POURING. There were no cabs, and there would still be so much walking after we rode the train that Jose and I thought it was best just to walk all the way back to my place. We were soaked through. Worth it. Totally worth it.

***

Well, the trip wasn’t over, and we were celebrating. SO, I made a reservation at Girl & the Goat

It’s all it’s hyped up to be and more. It’s also where I ate meat. You don’t go somewhere with goat in it’s name and eat peas. I would put up with the illness JUST to eat. So, I did. Below is a series of pictures of the food. It’s just food porn. It is. Don’t look if you’re hungry, it won’t be pretty. But it was so pretty, and we had such a good time, it was hard to choose the pictures! And I edited, so there’s more where that came from!

Harmasa Crudo

Roasted Beet Salad

Green Beans

Goat Loin

Proof of the meat eating that would make me sick for the following week. Worth it. Worth. Ever. Bite.

PIG FACE!!!!

How Pig Face looks after you’ve mixed it together. YUMMMMM!!!!

Dessert #1

Dessert #2

Followed Swiftly by Food Coma.

***

We ran again. I think we felt guilty about the gluttony that we committed. Not really, this was the 312 run. We ran for beer… and company. Alyson, Jose, Laura, Melissa and me owned those 3miles in the blistering heat. They cancelled the 5miles because of that heat, so yeah, we’re badasses.

And we got sweet wayfarers.

I will now go back to thinking about my life in a vacuum. I’m going to tear and examine every single choice that I’ve made or not made, why I chose like that, decide if I should change anything, and ultimately be too lazy to do anything about it. This Saturday will be exactly 2 years since I moved to Chicago. I’ve managed to accomplish some things, but like Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” I want more.

OK, I don’t want to sound like the entitled little jerk she was at the beginning of the Disney movie, but you know the reference, and I bet you even sang the line. I just now need to think about what my next steps are going to be. I finished Second City, my reason for moving here, what do I do now? What am I doing in Chicago?

And this, we shall see.

That’s right, no resolution just yet. This is my summer cliff-hanger.

***

The Reluctant Vegetarian

If you know me, you know I love bacon. Not just a little… if I were a pig I would have a hard time not eating myself.

My love affair with bacon was torrid at best, so, when 3 years ago I got sick  I had to end it abruptly and try to find a new happy place. However, like with many things in life, my issues did not start 3 years ago, but when I was a tween. Because tweens.

When I was 11 and starting my 7th grade year. Some of my friends and I decided that we wanted to go all Greenpeace and save all the little, furry creatures on the face of the Earth. While they all backed out the second our school cafeteria served “canoas” (delicious sweet plantain concoctions with ground beef, marinara, and cheese that look like a canoe) I tried to stay strong and had a grilled cheese. Then, I was told by both one of those friends AND my mother that I wouldn’t last more than a couple of months and that it was just a phase. Well, if they didn’t know then, they were about to find out. I am a very stubborn individual, to a fault, really. To my own fault.

Cut to 7 years after that. I’d had it. I wanted chicken BBQ, pulled pork, filet Mignon… bacon. So, I cut all ties with my vegetarian self and started eating meat. (It was slightly prompted by visits to nutritionists and an alarming low level of iron.) Just like that, I was eating animals again. I took the “it’s the circle of life” approach.

Yet again, life had other plans. A few years after my omnivore change I got very sick and had to enter a very strict diet. Slowly, I was able to start adding items to my diet. Much to my chagrin, animals are still not on the list of nutrients my stomach is allowing me to ingest. One nutritionist told me that it could be my own body rejecting it from the early developmental years in which I deprived myself of meat. Another nutritionist said these things happen and I may be able to eat it again. Either way, I have no one to blame… well, maybe I can blame my mom a little*… firstly, for telling me not to, and secondly, for indulging me and making me separate “vegetarian-friendly” meals.

(*not really, she’s an AMAZING woman!)

Now I spend my nights and days trolling the Inter-webs in the search for the perfect vegetarian recipe that will  not leave me hungry, have enough protein,  and doesn’t rely to heavily on cheese. Believe it or not, just becoming a vegetarian doesn’t mean automatic weight-loss. Well, not if you really enjoy cheese, and could easily substitute it for anything.

In this continued effort to expand my palate, I bought Brussels Sprouts, broke out the tofu, and tried to make something resembling a full meal out of it. While it may not make you jump out of your chair in excitement (I get it, a sirloin steak would put this to shame, you don’t have to be a jerk about it) it was enough to make me feel full, and it was quite “meaty” for lack of a better word.

Adulthood: coming to terms with our limitations, embracing them, and searching for options.

Brussel Sprouts – Cut in halves

Adding Tofu for protein, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and raw almonds.

The final (edible) product.

***

Easter Sunday, Brunch, and Other Uncharted Waters

EASTER!

Well, growing up Catholic meant that after a couple of days of no T.V., no fun music, no candies,  no snacks, no nothing that ever made you happy, you overdosed on a single day… and then proceed to live life as you did before Lent. Oh, and you’re doing this in the name of Jesus Christ, so guilt trips in full swing. This is only a preamble so that you may understand the grave importance that this day has in my life no matter how much I rationalize its insignificance in the grand-scheme of life. (Also note, I gave up cheese and beer for Lent… I ate a lot of cheese on Sunday.)

Yeah, I make a big deal out of Easter. Although, I must admit it’s mostly for the fashion. It’s a huge hoopla, with the hats, the dresses, the men wearing their pastel-bests, and the subdued hues… they tug at my heartstrings. I just can’t help myself! American Easters are also quite a novelty for me. We go all out in PR too, but as long as I can remember this is what my Easters looked like:

Back in the day, my mom would always take us to the beach house at Palmas del Mar in Humacao, PR. It made the bunny and his candy quite superfluous at a certain point in my childhood. It also made religion fun… I mean, it allowed me a week of sitting and watching this.

My lovely mother sent me this picture on Easter afternoon so that I may never forget what I was missing out on, and how much she misses me. I miss you too… and the sunsets.

But I digress (this happens often)… back to the story at hand. Traditions change, and making new ones is just as exciting as following the old ones. So, brunch among friends and expanding horizons is thrilling and uncharted waters. I also went to my first non-Catholic service. I know, tons of first. Not as big of a deal as I’m making it sound, but it’s fun to muse the historical consequences of a Catholic in a Protestant setting. Yes, I nerded out to religious history on Easter. I’ve been to synagogues, and Jewish weddings, but I expected the difference, I knew that I would sit, listen, and learn. This was slightly different. These are the kinds of thoughts that keep me entertained during long hours of services, this wouldn’t have happened in previous centuries, Martin Luther and his thesis, the printing press, the proliferation of the written word, the English crown, France, Spain, Europe’s turmoil in general, and all the crowned kings and queens that made decisions that would shape generations to come… the very foundation of this hemisphere.

OK, back to planet Earth… as I sat through the service I saw how little there really was of a difference. Well, except that they allow women to be preachers. Go figure! In this century? Sooo off-putting. (*Please note sarcasm!*)

Well, as always, my thoughts get the better of me, and I tend to get long winded (it’s exhausting to be in my brain.) So, lets dull it down a bit and look at pretty pics!

*CHICAGO*



The roommies get decked out. My dress was an absolute find at Lu Lu’s Vintage Jewelry & Clothing in Chicago. I love this boutique, makes me feel like I’m in a French boudoir, complete with dog.

I must point out Alyson’s adorable outfit, paired with a Polish designer’s fascinator, nude patent leather pumps, and insane calf muscle definition. You can follow her blog here: Eat Little Sleep Well and cheer her on!

This was the line (one of the sides) around Fourth Presbyterian Church on Delaware and Michigan (Water Tower.) They were handing out hot cider to keep everyone warm and cozy during the chilly windy wait.

Funny story at our expense: While Micki (Alyson’s mom), Alyson and I waiting we kept looking at this man across the street in front of the Four Seasons. We kept talking about how amazingly still the mime-man stayed. Oh, he would put Marcel Marceau to shame. Well, joke was definitely on us… it’s a statue. Very realistic, and I wondered if any cabs ever stopped to pick him up confusing him the same way we did it. Look, it was 8:30AM on a Sunday morning… ungodly early, and we were barely awake.

Brunch begins at Bistro Margot in Old Town.

First Course: Brie Puff with a Balsamic Reduction and Candied Walnuts.

Second Course: Veggie and Cheese Quiche with Mixed Greens.

Here I am with Alyson’s mom, Micki. We both made the excellent decision of ordering the bread pudding.


MMMmmmmmmmmm.

***

After eating our weight in cheese and bread, we thought it would be most wise to go for an afternoon stroll. Well, it was either that or enter a food coma. We chose the walk. It was also too beautiful outside to

Cailloux was very excited about the walk. Just before I snapped this picture she was nose-deep in the tulips – she stopped to smell the flowers.

There was absolutely no cloud in the sky on Easter Sunday. It was such a pleasant walk, but it tired us out. I think I need another vacation to rest from all the eating and excitement.

***

*All puns are intended.

Mid-Morning Snack

Just a quick note: mid-morning snacks = GREAT!

I’ve developed a dependency on VitaTop Muffins. Just 100 calories and 100% flavors. I also wanted to take the chance to highlight the doodle on the background. It’s by Ike Barinholtz from Mad TV, doodled to raise money for my former teacher Judy Fabjance. I have it on my desk at all times to remind me why I moved to Chicago!

Along with a copy of USA Today, we just started receiving it at the office. Not exactly sure why, but now I feel like I’m having a snack at a hotel! Fancy that!