Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Every Moment Frontin' and Maxin'

Yeah, I know that headline is about as relevant to 2008 as my last headline, which made reference to the Olson twins' weight, which hasn't been news in five years. But the first hint of beautiful weather every year will forever remind me of Fresh Prince's "Summertime," and I'm totally OK with that. (Plus the line about hustling to the mall to get a shorts set cracks me up for its specificity, just like that Usher lyric in "Confessions Part II" about, "hand in hand at the Beverly Center, like, man, not givin' a damn who sees me..." You go, Usher, all up in the Beverly Center with an Ice Blended and a Cinnabon. Maybe lyrics about going to the mall are just inherently funny?)

Sweet Jesus, it is an insanely gorgeous summer day out there. I had been slipping on my New Year's resolution to take lunch breaks since award season took over my life, but I'm going to try to get back on that wagon. I walked to the bank and back, and I'm shvitzing like a gavone. It's 80+ out there.

This is good news because I have been craving thermons, and scrambling to put together the best possible spring vacation under some limitations of time and loot. We started out with grand dreams of Tulum, then briefly considered Hawaii, but now we might be priced out of our airfare budget on account of it's going to be Easter weekend and crazy expensive. So, somehow this trip is being rewritten into a Sequoia hiking jaunt, or a Palm Springs foray. And those both sound divine, but a girl is trying to go snorkeling. SNORKELING IN WARM WATER is what I see on the inside of my eyelids when I blink. It's all I want. So stay tuned.

That said, the local B12 is doing me good, and I'm counting my blessings that my health has been restored. Yesterday, I felt like myself physically for the first time since before I got sick. (I have been dividing everything in my assessment into categories of BIGS—before I got sick—and AIGS—after I got sick). Last week, after the delightful vomiting attack mercifully subsided, it gave way initially to a lousy feeling of utter fatigue, like I was dragging 50-pound weights around by my ankles. Maybe it was just effects of the dehydration, or the result of my inability to stomach enough calories to sustain a robust life, or maybe I was even still sick. But I was beginning to panic that it was going to be a semi-permanent state. Wrong! I am back up and running at full capacity (and that means that I am in the condition to go to boxing class tonight and get whooped).

And I shudder to think here might be one particular reason why: BIGS, my coffee, alcohol, and Ambien intake was healthy (and by healthy I only mean vigorous). AIGS, I essentially cut out most of the coffee, booze, and sleep aids all at once. I think I can feel my insides getting all scoured out as a result. Day by day, I am becoming one of those creepy L.A. non-substance-using hiker types. And I can be OK with that. (At least for a while).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In Which I Shrink to the Combined Weight of the Olson Twins

Gather round, children, and I will share with you the story of the Great Stomach Flu of aught-eight.

[Spoiler alert: This piece contains graphic descriptions that may not be suitable for easily grossed-out readers.]

It started on Sunday, when I was frantically asking all the women at EW's going-away party for menstrual painkillers, because that's what I thought the problem was. Turns out, it was not ovary cramping, but stomach cramping that was ailing me, and it's a miracle I got home before the barfing set in. Keep in mind that I haven't barfed in earnest since 1998—curse that raw spinach salad from the commisary at 20th Century Fox, where I interned the summer of my 21st birthday!—so this is not something I am used to. It was shocking.

The cramping, which hit in rolling intervals, became so severe that my folks insisted on coming over late Sunday night (even despite my protestations on account of fear that their presence might heighten the drama rather than diminish it), and the poor things had to bear witness to the gnarliness and the moaning in agony. It's funny: because I've not been married or had a baby, I haven't had that level of doting devoted exclusively to me since, say, college graduation. I could hardly say anything when my mom was rubbing my face and neck with a cold washcloth, but if I had been able to speak then I would have told her thank you, thank you so much for being one person on the planet who will always do this for me, do anything for me, no matter how awful I look, and no matter what else.

By Monday morning, I had determined that there was a predictable pattern: After each time I threw up, I had a period of about 15 minutes during which I felt better, before I felt worse again. I would use this time to close the shutters that the cat had opened, or plug in my laptop, or stretch my legs by taking a few steps around the house (I was confined to bed the rest of the time, except when I had to run to the toilet to barf, when I found I could move surprisingly quickly). I even used one of my post-barfing respites to give an interview to an Us Weekly reporter working under deadline on a story about Oscar parties; I was impressed with my fortitude on that one, believe me. But it is not a good week to take off a day of work altogether, so alas that was not an option.

Other than those precious moments, though, it hurt to do anything. I had to brace myself each time I wanted to do a quarter turn in bed (from right to front, or from left to back), because I was afraid it would make me queasier or exacerbate the pain. I couldn't even watch TV for much of yesterday because it made me too dizzy, and at the worst points I couldn't even open my eyes because I was too light sensitive.

At some point, I remember the blue-eyed boy came over and put on People's Court, and there was something about a girl who was suing her landlord for sexual harassment, and I was curious whether or not she was cute, but I certainly couldn't turn my head or even open my eyes to look. The blue-eyed boy took a wet towel to my lips to try to allay the discomfort from the dehydration; I had had to stop taking even water because it made me ball up in pain and then vomit. It's possible our relationship has surpassed another milestone, now that he's seen me heave bile (that's all I had left) while sobbing and praying out loud for death to take me.

I was counting on my stomach bug to run a typical 24-hour course, but I was panicked that it would not; my sister recently had it for two days. I was counting the hours (more like minutes) in abject desperation. Off and on, I slept from 7 p.m. last night until 8 a.m. this morning, and when I was up, I was better. Sweet mercy!

Now, look, I don't want to get all M-K Olson on y'all, but I know people are curious if I lost any weight, and believe me—I was too. I stepped on the scale several times during the ordeal. By this morning, the digital scale was vacillating between 124.8 and 125.0 pounds, people. (Yes, in a bizarre twist, I just put my weight all up on the Internet.) I haven't weighed that since I was like 4-foot-9 with no boobs in grade school. And it's a shame that most of those few pounds I lost are the result of dehydration. When I gain them back, I'm going to be totally buggin because it will take me months to lose them for real—if I ever do—just through working out and eating right (which, admittedly, has lately been paying off quite reassuringly too). All told, it was about 44 hours that I had nothing to eat, half of that time with no water either.

If I had known I was going to get that banana bread for free—that was the last thing I ate on Sunday—I wouldn't have made all those lower-fat substitutions in the recipe and I certainly wouldn't have used Splenda...

Anyway, morals of the story: Purell and obsessive hand washing. Nobody wants what I had. Nausea and vomiting are the cruelest tricks of fate out there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm It

Capella tagged me! And apparently that means I have to respond by writing half a dozen unimportant things about myself in this public forum. But I hate to be left out of anything (junior-high backlash) so I will have to hop on this bandwagon.

1) I am desperately afraid of the wisdom-teeth-removal surgery that I have to schedule this spring. Terrified. So much so that I cried in the office of the surgeon during the consultation, as she was showing me the teeth in my head on the X-ray, and saying something about drilling to carve away the bone. Anyway, this fear comes from the trauma I experienced when I had oral surgery in junior high. I remember that before that surgery, the doc had said that I should ask my parents for a CD, which the staff would play in my headphones as I was being sedated. So I asked for Depeche Mode 101; I thought I was being super stealthy because that was a double CD set! Ha! Score TWO for me! But not. What I went through with the pain and the bleeding all over the pillow was not worth all the Depeche Mode tracks in the world, which was saying a lot for 13-year-old me.

2) I can't believe it's the 25th anniversary of Thriller. What happened? Dubin and I used to have that album, which was one of those fold-out numbers on which, if I recall, Michael Jackson had a leopard draped over him or something? A jaguar? At any rate, it was one of the few records I remember us having, along with the theme from Grease, and the story of Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo. (Holla if you remember that too!)

3) My cat, Cali, has a pathological clothes-eating issue, and therefore his insurance policy does not cover gastritis. What's the point then, jeez?

4) I have this weird thing where, if I watch a movie with a lot of hand-held camera action, I feel very nauseated. It's an equilibrium issue or something. This happened for the first time when I saw Murderball at the Landmark Sunshine in New York. I eventually had to leave the theater and walk around the block. This happened again more recently when I saw Babel at Century City. I spent most of the last half hour of that movie in the bathroom over the sink, sweating, and trying not to barf. Nasty.

5) I never pulled all-nighters in college, mostly because I have always hated procrastination. But I came close to pulling one for work on Sunday night after the Grammys, when I came home at midnight from three parties after the awards and still had four stories to file. It was a very surreal kind of thing. I kept rubbing my eyes like a baby who needs a nap, but I totally did it. Anyway, that segues into the last useless tidbit:

6) I am not a late-night person. I realized this early on, when mom let me see a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in junior high (three junior-high references in a single post—snap!) and I totally fell asleep during it. I thought that was so incredibly lame of me, since I rarely got to do anything cool that started late like that. Even in college, I wasn't a late-night person either, and sometimes I would even offer to be the designated driver into San Francisco so that I could manipulate everyone into leaving when I was tired, because the BART had stopped running by then. (Sorry, girls! But I assure you this was not always whysometimes it was because I was just an awesome friend with a Ford Escort, willing to be selfless for the team.) I just don't have the all-night gene. On Friday nights, I like to do the same walk-to-Trader-Joe's-to-buy-the-same-salad-ingredients routine, capped off by a glass of wine and the blue-eyed boy's signature Tabasco popcorn (next to no oil, please) and a few DVR'ed episodes of California's Gold on the couch. Call me lame, but I cover events for a living. A girl's got to sit on the couch with Huell at least once a week, mmmkay?

So there you have a bunch of useless info that no one with a job will read fully, but whatever. Anyway, apparently the rules of this tagging game mean that I am supposed to tag four other people to also write six things. I can't tag my sister, who already did it, or Capella, who also already did it. So that leaves LF, who only blogs in haiku form, so I'm not sure how that will work. But it sounds interesting. I'm also tagging Megan. And CJ, who blogs on MySpace, but he's hella funny and usually makes reference to some contemporary fashion designer who borrows inspiration from Vanessa's sweaters on The Cosby Show but won't cop to it. And the fourth person I'm tagging may determine him- or herself based on whomever has the time and interest.

No presh.

PS: It took discipline not to write about the gym here, but I have a complex that I write about the gym too much. But a) I am gym obsessed lately, in a good way, and b) it's one arena that it is not dangerous to write about because I don't care what anyone there really thinks of me, nor does anyone—with one exception—even know my last name enough to Internet search my blog. Oh, and look: I just wrote about the gym again, dang.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Who You Callin...?

It was another beautiful winter day out there on Saturday, kiddies.

Have You Seen Me?

Several months ago, I made a gross error in judgment. I saw a great pair of sandals on sale at Bloomingdale's— and I let them go. They were marked down from $410 to $142, and I thought I was being a disciplined, liberated woman by telling myself, "That's $142 more than you need to spend on shoes right now. Just walk away, and after you do, you will not think about those shoes again." Nope, wrong.

I called the department store the next day, but the sandals had been sold. I've searched up and down (the Internet, the mall, the outlets) since then, but have only found the equivalent pair in army green—I'd wanted the nude—and even then at twice the price.

Marc by Marc Jacobs. Style name: Goat. Any shoe purveyors out there recognize this fine pair? They're the ones that got away.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

On My First Time Boxing Since 1999ish

There were a total of five of us in the class—three super-athletic looking dudes in muscle shirts, one six-foot-tall gal in a black sports bra with six-pack abs and a 24-inch waist, and me. But nothing is more inspiring than fear.

Side note. I have often said that, if I write my memoir, it might be called, Motivated by Coffee: The AD Story. In response, my best friend from J-school once told me, "Mine would be called Motivated by Fear, Fueled by Coffee: The JB Story." Touché.

Side note part deux. Tonight I was reminded of when I used to take boxing class in Berkeley, and I really wanted to buy those pink Ringside boxing gloves, but I felt like I would be a poser if I got them just because they were rad if I wasn't really serious about the class. So I got serious, I got the gloves, and then they became lamp decoration in the hard-drinking (although it was all relative, of course) New York years.

So tonight I was back at it. And it was a major, major undertaking. In boxing class, you just have to drop and do push-ups. You just drop to the hard-ass floor—in gloves no less—and do your push-ups, with your hands in fists, in the wraps, under the gloves. None of this "OK, everyone get your mats..." to soften the experience business that they chatter about in other classes that I always thought were hard. I was thinking Is you out your damn mind...? (And BTW at the end of boxing class, you are not guided through even 60 seconds of stretching, because apparently that is for sissies—you just run like hell into the night. Or at least I did.)

But I did it. I punched the heck out of that bag, I jump roped until I was all rosaceaed out, and I ran in a loop around the gym with my fists flying in punches. And now I feel amazing (although I may never use my arms again). Best. Therapy. Ever.

My only wish is that I had been able to wear my trusty Polar heart rate monitor (the gloves prohibited wearing the wrist part). Because I swear to you I burned at least, like, five million calories, no joke.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

If I May Dork Out For a Moment

I just voted. And it felt great.

I was so looking forward all day to the experience, to the ritual of taking the walk over to the polling place, to the little chik-chung of pushing the poker into the ballot, to the smug walk home. I remember this little march fondly from the days when I used to do it hand in hand with my folks (very fine and interested role models for astute political opinion and, in my mom's case, involvement).

In fifth grade, I remember being traumatized by a Newsweek article (I was always, always news obsessed) in which were portrayed graphic crime-scene photos of a slaughter of voters in a Haitian polling place, and even then I remember feeling assured that America was not the kind of place where that sort of terrible thing could happen. I folded the paper in sixteenths and stapled it to itself a million times so I would never be templed to look at it again. (Why I didn't just throw it out is another story; I must have known I couldn't make it go away regardless.)

Back to Super Tuesday, 2008. I had signed up to vote by mail, but had been undecided while the postmark deadline came and went. So when I got to the polling place, I had asked a little bit meekly if it would be OK to vote in person instead. The poll workers asked if I had my physical ballot with me and I did not (left it at work), but they let me vote anyway—because this is America! And here you always get to vote! I had to do it provisionally under the circumstances, but a vote is a vote, and mine will be counted.

Maybe I get so excited about this because we are not Mayflower-type people; I come from immigrants, who spent their entire lives in pursuit of a path that would allow their grandchildren to have nice things, and to vote. And because it's a thrilling election year. And also because it occurs to me especially when I vote that being a U.S. citizen is a privilege and a blessing, like having your health and having friends.

So, like most people I know, regardless of what Democrat they voted for (what, like I know any Republicans?), I will be wearing my "I Voted" sticker tonight in fully dorky American pride. You just can't beat it. You can't.