Sunday, March 29, 2009

All About Me

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Yes. My dad named me after his favorite character on a soap opera. Yep, you read that right. My dad used to watch soap operas. He is very manly, but loves crap like that. And Lifetime movies. If I had a nickel for everytime my mom walked into the room, exclaiming, "Paul, are you watching another Lifetime movie?" I'd have at least a dollar. I guess he likes the smut!

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? During Grey's Anatomy on Thursday.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I hate it. My mom claims I never learned to hold a pencil right. Maybe that is why I have the handwriting of a doctor?


5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Not yet, someday hopefully.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I would hope so! Who would say no to this??

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? Who me? Never.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Nope. Got them taken out when I was a Freshman in college.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Yep - did it in New Zealand. I'm a chicken and am afraid of heights, so I have a VHS tape of it to prove it. I would do it again - it was AWESOME!

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Used to be Cracklin' Oat Bran. Now that I am Gluten Free, it's Corn Chex.


13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Vanilla. I'm a purist.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Whether or not they are smiling.

15. RED OR PINK? pink

16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My complexion. I want my older sister's milky, blemish free complexion.


18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO COMPLETE THIS LIST? Yep, leave a comment if you do this so I can read it!

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I'm wearing pink scrubs and no shoes.

* what happened to #20?


22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Probably pink since that's my fave color.

23. FAVORITE SMELL? Coffee brewing



26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? I don't really like sports... but I love the Summer Olympics

27. HAIR COLOR? brown

28. EYE COLOR? Dark brown

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yep, I am blind as a bat.



32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Before Sunrise

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? White and blue striped. I used to wear it to work at my previous job... until one of the guys I managed said I looked like Beetle Juice. Now it's part of my pajama t-shirt collection...



36. FAVORITE DESSERT? This chocolate pie that my mom makes. It's the only choc pie I like, though.




40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? No Mouse Pad, I have a laptop.

41. WHAT DID YOU LAST WATCH ON TV NIGHT? Millionaire Matchmaker. I'm sort of addicted to that show...



45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?I can tie the stem of a cherry w/ my tongue.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Breckenridge, MN

47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? anyone who will actually do this!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Stick a fork in me, I'm done!!

With paper-writing that is. I still have 5 weeks of classes, one midterm (which should technically be called a 3/4-term since it falls on week 10 of 14, but whatevs), and a bunch of Derivatives homework.

But the paper re-writes, which have been weighing on me, are done. I cranked out both papers today, so it's been a long day. But it's finished. I will NEVER write an academic paper again. Ever. Alleluia. I'm kicking myself for not picking up a bottle of $3 buck chuck when I was at Trader Joe's today, so I could pour myself a glass of wine and toast to being done with these damn papers. But the toasting will have to wait. Plus, it's not good to drink alone, right?

My mood has improved about 1,000-fold. Seriously. The finish line is in sight. Grad school is nearly a thing of the past. Amen. Now I can start focusing on figuring out a restaurant to go to for my Graduation Luncheon. I'll walk through on May 18th, which is 7 weeks from Monday. How lame is it that my graduation is on a Monday morning? Luckily my parents are going to come and my awesome aunt & uncle, Barb and Paul, might come too, so I'll have some fans in the audience.

Finishing this degree has been WAY more challenging than my undergrad degree. I will say that my Math Degree was more academically challenging than my MBA, but working full time and doing school part-time has made this degree tougher & more rewarding than my undergrad degree. So to reward myself, I am throwing a big party at my parents' cabin. My brother is going to bbq something amazing (he's uber talented in that department), and I am going to serve a fun drink - maybe a margarita or mojito?

Oy, I can't wait. I just hope it has warmed up by then! If I had been in a coma and woke up this week - I would have told you it's November, not March... here's hoping spring is on the horizon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Enough with the whining...

Wow, my last post was uber whiny. I guess I was having one of 'those days'. I have this complex which I like to title the "Chicken Little Complex." I am going to assume that no matter where you lived or grew up, you read this book. In case you didn't, it's basically about a chicken that gets hit on the head by an acorn that falls out of a tree. The Chicken freaks out, gets all aflutter, and assumes, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

I think I have always sort of been like this. I remember many conversations that I had with my mom during my childhood where she'd remark, "Lisa, you are making a mountain out of a mole hill."

But I am feeling much better than I did days ago. My professor returned my email and we are meeting today at 4:30. So soon enough, that class will be history. Graduation is a mere 8 weeks away, so the finish line is in sight. I can do this.

I was thinking about the stress I was feeling yesterday and realized how trivial it is in the grand scheme of things. I have a job, a house, a car, health insurance, and money in savings. I'm sure we've all received that forward about how a shocking % of the world's population doesn't have food to eat or a warm place to sleep, etc, etc, so I am really doing pretty darn well.

And the vacation to NYC will come together, just like all of the other vacations I've taken have come together.

I just need to calm the heck down and realize that life can't always be perfectly planned and doesn't always fit in the confines of a excel spreadsheet. What can I say - I am a work in progress...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This is so my theme song right now...

Earlier this month, Jess, a blogging friend (yes, I have blogging friends - don't judge!), talked about how she sometimes thinks - if life was a movie, what song would be playing at this moment?

Being a music-lover, I sort of do the same thing.

And right now, if my life was a movie, the theme song that would be playing would be "Under Pressure" by Queen. (Btw - everytime I hear the opening sequence of the song, I immediately think of the song "Ice, Ice Baby")

Last week was spring break and I was feeling oh so carefree and stressless. Classes resumed last night, and the stress bug, or whatever you want to call it, has returned. And when I start stressing about one thing, it sort of snowballs and before you know it, I'm tossing and turning at night, worrying about the most ridiculous things.

Like last night, it dawned on me that my NYC trip is less than a month away and I have no idea what I am going to do when I am out there... I have 5 people to visit and haven't even started coordinating everyone's schedules so I can figure out who I should visit on which days while I am out there.

Then I thought - this is ridiculous. I am stressing myself out about a freaking vacation.

I know that once my strategy professor returns my phone call/email to set up a meeting to discuss my paper re-writes, I will be feeling much better. But the stress of that whole re-write situation is spreading to other areas of my life, making me feel very tightly wound and on edge about darn near everything.

And it's making me wish I could hop in a time machine, and re-do this semester. If I could do it over again, I would NEVER have taken that class & instead would have signed up for a finance one instead. So I am sort of kicking myself for registering for a class that is making my last semester of grad school pretty darn hellish.

If only said time machine existed.

Until then, I am sucking it up & waiting until the soundtrack of my life switches from something like "Under Pressure" to "A Good Day" by Priscilla Ahn... (a very good, mellow artist that is worth checking out, btw)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Sharper Your Knife

I just finished reading, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," by Kathleen Flinn. In this book, the author chronicles her time at Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, France. It reads part memoir, part cookbook. Each chapter concludes with a recipe - either a recipe learned at Le Cordon Bleu or a recipe crafted by Flinn or one of her culinary friends. This book was a great read - I'd recommend it to any foodies out there! Especially if you are curious about what it is like to attend Le Cordon Bleu! It sounds like quite an intense, intimidating experience - it's definitely an impressive accomplishment to add to a resume!!

I guess you could say that I am a culinary-wanna-be. I've really only started to branch out & try to make things besides spaghetti during the past year. I am easily intimidated in the kitchen and always doubt my ability to successfully execute a recipe. I come from a family of amazing cooks, but I somehow missed out on the culinary gene! I don't want to be the kid that always shows up at the family gathering with a box of crackers or a bag of chips, so this is a skill that I am working on developing!! The recipes in this book are downright intimidating... but when things slow down a bit, I might enlist my aunt Barb's help, and see if she'll do a culinary boot-camp session with me. The woman can cook anything, so I am sure she won't be intimidated by the recipes!!

The book had a wonderful message to it - throughout the book, the Chefs at Le Cordon Bleu instructed the chefs-in-training to "taste, taste, taste" - they cautioned against plating a dish without tasting it throughout the cooking process. By tasting, the chef will be able to make adjustments to the dish that will enhance the taste of the finished product... and possibly prevent a train-wreck from occurring. It is difficult to fix a dish once it is plated and presented to the Chef for judging. This "taste, taste, taste" concept should apply to all aspects of a person's life. As Flinn says, "you can't wait until the dish of life is done."

On an off-topic note, I'm still feeling so drawn to France... I really think that sometimes, God puts these passions inside of a person for a reason. So I am going to follow this passion. I finish grad school this spring, and plan on taking a break from classes. But after a summer and possibly a fall off, I have decided to take French Language classes. There is a branch of a great international organization, Alliance Francaise, here in Minneapolis. They offer a language lessons, cultural events, lectures, etc, so I think this will be a great place for me to develop my language skills. After all, if I am going to return to France eventually, even if just for a vacation, it will help to have a better grasp of the language! I'm sure my mom is sort of chuckling as she reads this... I always proclaim that I am D-O-N-E with school and never intend to return... but here I am, 7 weeks from graduation, and already planning to take more classes in the future. What can I say? I love learning - especially when it's something I am really interested in. I mean, learning about financial derivatives is great and all, but it's not nearly as interesting as learning how to speak another language.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I wish I had a green thumb....

A month ago today, my Grandpa passed away. It's kind of hard to believe it's already been a month. The last month has been so busy between work and school - it's probably good that I have kept so busy.

My grandpa got so many plants & floral arrangements at the wedding, each of us grandkids got to take a plant home. Um, I am terrible at keeping things alive. Seriously. I got one of those bamboo plants when I was in college as a gift. And it died. I don't know if I under-watered it or over-watered it? No clue. It turned brown & died.

So when my aunt encouraged me to pick out a plant, I tried to explain that giving me a plant was not a good idea. She persisted and said that I could keep it alive. Oh, she's a florist, by the way. So basically a plant goddess... I should take a class on the proper care and feeding of a plant someday or something.

So it's been a month, and I was pretty proud of myself since it was still alive. Then I came home from work yesterday, and the plant looked like this...

If you can't tell, it's extremely droopy. It's basically the plant equivalent of the sad Christmas tree on the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

It's perking up now that I watered it again... but now I am worried I am going to over water it... Word has it, I can get some sort of contraption that you fill with water & stick in the dirt, and it will release water when the plant needs it?

I clearly need to look into this... I will feel incredibly guilty if I kill this plant... I am considering sending it home with my Mom at Easter - she's great with plants, so I know she will keep it alive...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dating & tips...

So I got into a bit of a discussion argument with a co-worker yesterday about tipping.

Why would we argue about such a thing? Well, I recently went on a date, and the guy really under-tipped.

It's customary to give 15% to a server, and more if their service warrants a better tip. On this particular date, my date left a tip of approximately 12%. Yes, I realize that is close to 15%, but it's still under-tipping. Plus, we had great service & had sat in the waiter's section for about 2.5 hours. That's a long time. Servers are all about turnover - the more times your table turns over, the more money you will make.

I feel strongly about this since I worked as a waitress all through college. I realize in other countries, tipping is not customary since the servers make a higher wage. But in the US, if you don't properly tip, you are a complete arse in my book. And if you don't 'believe' in properly tipping, you should stick to establishments like McDonalds or Hardees.

Am I being a snob here? I mean, said date was in his 30's - there's no reason why he shouldn't understand dining etiquette. His poor tipping leads me to believe one of the following is true: 1) he is extremely cheap, 2) he has poor manners, or 3) he is not very refined.

And no, this wasn't the 'deal breaker' that made me decide not to go on another date with him. It was just one of multiple 'red flags'. Like how he swore a few times during the meal. Or when I said I was trying to come up with a restaurant for my graduation luncheon, he suggested Famous Daves. Seriously????????? Gee, that would sure be a 'special' graduation lunch. Nothing like rewarding 3 years of hard work with a plate of ribs and some fries.

I had already agreed to see this guy before I put the moratorium on internet dating. Big mistake.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Paris is still on the mind...

So earlier this month, I had posted on how I was missing Paris.

I thought it was a passing emotion. I was in the midst of the winter doldrums, and needed to focus on something bright and lovely. Like my time in Paris.

Well, those emotions of missing that fine, fine city have not gone away. I keep stumbling across more and more blogs. Just this week, I added a few to my Google Reader - all of which are about Paris and food. Like this one. And this one. And this one. Seriously, reading all these blogs is not helping my obsession with that city.

And now today, I started reading this book.

The title is, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," which is a memoir of the author's time at the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school - one of, if not the, most famous cooking schools in the world. Oh, and why did said author decide to go to cooking school? She was a 36-year-old middle manager, trapped on the corporate ladder. Then her job was eliminated, so she decided to take the lemons of life and make them into lemonade. I just started reading this book, but will be sure to post a review when I finished it. I think it's going to be good - I am so into memoirs!!!

Then on a design blog I read each day (are you noticing a trend here? Maybe I should have given up google reader for Lent!), I came across an Etsy seller with the most fabulous prints. I've been looking to buy some prints to hang in my bedroom, and might purchase this one...

It reminded me of a painting described in one of the first stories in the book, "From Paris to the Moon" - it's a book of short stories by Adam Gopnik. It was one of the MANY books I read before going to Paris last summer. Seriously, I read so many books, if my apartment ever became a book store (it's bordering on being that right now, I have that many books...), I have enough Paris books to have a Paris section...

So yah, I just keep feeding this obsession with Paris. As I walk through the skyways, I think to myself - 'hmm, what sort of career would allow me or require me to spend an entire month in Paris?'

But another trip to Paris is not realistic given the economic conditions and the uncertainty of so many things in 2009. But perhaps in 2010 I can return to that fabulous city. I have never thought I would return to a place in Europe - there is so much I still want to see on that ginormous continent. But I would love to return to Paris. I know there are certainly lots and lots of critics out there who dislike the city, but it was a downright magical trip for me. Plus, it represents a significant time in my life - a huge turning point where my broken heart was finally healing and I was coming to the realization that being single certainly wasn't the worst thing in the world. And it was my first foray into the blogging world...

But for now I will keep dreaming and reading about that fabulous place...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Spring is finally here! It was 60F here yesterday, and it felt fantastic. I went for a run around Lake Harriet after work - haven't done that since last fall. I despise the treadmill so am happy that it's warm enough to do outdoor runs again!

I'm not a huge St. Patty's Day fan - I've never really celebrated the holiday. One year, I was in Chicago on St. Patty's Day, which was fun. I went during spring break of my senior year in college. The river that runs through Chicago was died green and everywhere we looked, there were drunk people. It was quite the experience!

In honor of St. Patty's Day, I am posting some green items that I am quite smitten with...

This dress from Ann Taylor Loft would be perfect for a spring wedding... or it would be a great rehearsal dinner dress for Abby since that is her wedding color!

This is actually my Easter dress, which I got on sale at Banana Republic. Yes, I am 28 and I still buy myself an "Easter Dress." I have such fond memories of the Easter outfits my mom picked out for us girls. Actually, it wasn't so much the dresses as the hats... Maybe some day I will scan some photos in so you can see some awkward photos of my younger years. Oy, it's painful to look at them. Mom - I know you were just following the fashion trends of the time, but ouch. I actually don't know what was worse - the hideous, plasticy hats or the terrible page boy cut that I had for like 10 years as a child... I can't completely blame my mom for all those years of fashion faux pas, though. When I was home for my grandpa's funeral, I was sorting through pictures, trying to find some for the poster boards we displayed in the church basement - I came across this hideous picture of myself. I can't remember what I was wearing for a top, but for bottoms I was wearing these hideous striped shorts (which I had rolled up) with dark, plum colored tights and then some whacky shoes. I was so mortified to see this picture & asked my mom what the heck I was wearing... She said, 'oh, you had very interesting tastes back then, Lisa'. Oy. Thank God my sense of style has developed over the years... I was seriously a walking 'What Not To Wear' advertisement back then!

Last, but not least, is this bag. Ok - it's a little more fall/winter, but I figured I should post something besides dresses on here. This bag is hand-made by this Etsy Seller - she is actually in Italy. It's kind of fun to read her product descriptions - since English isn't her first language, the translation is a bit muddled at times. But so cute.

Have a safe and wonderful St Patty's Day, everyone! I am treating myself to a facial tonight, so my evening will be sans green beer. Which I am totally ok with since I really, really don't like beer (and can't have it anyways since it has gluten in it)


Thursday, March 12, 2009

New York, New York

So you may remember a post, way back in December, where I declared that I was going to Peru. I was so excited to check out Machu Picchu and see the other sites of that beautiful country. My guidebook had been bought, and I started contacting various tour companies that line up the Machu Picchu trek.

But then my world sort of got tipped on its side in January... and my future is now a little bit up in the air. And everyday I come to work wondering if today is the day they are going to tell us that our jobs have been eliminated... So taking a grand vacation to Peru doesn't seem like such a good idea any longer.

I still wanted to go on a vacation as a way to reward myself for getting through grad school. So instead, I decided to keep it domestic. So I am going to NYC!!

I've only been there once before, and that was such a quick trip. I was there in January of 2004, visiting 2 girls that I studied abroad with back during my junior year in college. I had a wonderful time, but didn't as much of the city as I would have liked. So it's time for a return trip.

Plus, I now have 5 friends that live out there. I will be there April 21 - 26th and absolutely can't wait. Mostly, I am just excited to wander the streets aimlessly. And maybe catch at Broadway show. And get caught up with my 5 girlfriends.
So if you've been there and have a 'can't miss' site that I must see, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There are a lot of jerks out there...

So my dating life had been going through a bit of a dry spell.... oh, who am I kidding - it was like the Sahara. I hadn't been on a date since August. I talked about that with my friend Katie on our way up to Winter Homecoming and she challenged me to try to go on a date by mid-March. I like a good challenge, so vowed to go on a date by March 15th.

After getting back from Winter Homecoming, I thought - crap. Now how am I going to meet a guy & go on a date? Obviously I'd gone from August - January without meeting a single potential guy, so I really needed an action plan if I was going to meet someone & go on a date w/in the next month.

So, after some prodding from friends, I decided to try I hated the idea of meeting someone on the internet but figured it was time to take matters into my own hands. I know there is not as much of a stigma around internet dating as there has been in the past, but I still think it's a less socially acceptable way to meet a guy... But I decided to still give it a shot...

So I had been corresponding back and forth with this Brian guy back in February. We had exchanged emailed and had decided it would be a good idea to meet up for a cup of coffee. I had said I would call him on Saturday, February 21st. Then my mom called that morning and told me about my grandpa passing. So I sent Brian an email that morning, telling him that my Grandpa had passed and thus, I would not be calling him as I was heading home. I said I would try to touch base with him when I returned.

He never responded. Which I thought was odd. I thought - what kind of person doesn't acknowledge the receipt of an email from someone, saying their grandfather had passed. I guess I was just expecting a brief 'sorry for your loss' email. But I didn't hear a word from him. So I thought - 'you know what? This is a sign. I don't think I want to get to know a person like this.'

So I didn't call him when I returned from Wyndmere. And I didn't send him an email.

Then he emailed last night, saying, 'sorry about your grandpa, but I am wondering why you haven't called me?' I really didn't want to explain my reasoning for not contacting him - I don't believe in confrontation when nothing will be gained from it, so I just said I was taking a break from dating (which is actually true - I went on a date in February so my dry spell is over and my mission has been accomplished). I wished him luck with his search.

Then I got the most rude email back:

I talked to one of my girl friends and she told me that the whole story about going to a bachelorette party Saturday night and then suddenly emailing me Saturday morning about your getting notified that your grandfather suddenly passing away sounded like a lie to her. I just think if you were so close to him and knew he wasn't well that you wouldn't have even planned on going to the party. If you can't be honest and just say that whatever I said in an email didnt sound interesting to you then fine you can lie. I knew after that email you sent on Saturday that you were making an excuse so I'm glad I didn't have to meet a liar like you.

See, the week before, I had been talking about how I was going to a Bachelorette party. At that point, my grandpa appeared to be doing better. So I was moving forward with my life - going to work, going to class, accepting invitations for nights out with friends. I never thought my grandpa was going to pass away that quickly.

I just can't believe that this person would think that I would make up a death in the family to get out of meeting him. And then to go as far as to call me a liar?

So I responded w/ a link to the obituary. I know I didn't even need to dignify his email with a response, but I really want him to realize how much of an asshole he is. Seriously - who jumps to conclusions like that.

I really didn't talk much about dating with my Grandpa, but when we did talk about dating, he would always say - 'Lisa, be careful. There are a lot of jerks out there.'

And, as usual, he was right.

So I am done with internet dating. My profile has been deactivated and removed from the website. I fulfilled my end of the dating deal since I did go on 2 dates (both weren't matches...)

So it's back to the dating desert for me. And really, the desert sounds pretty good today, compared to biting emails attacking my character and integrity.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Must Read: The Reader

I just finished reading "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink. The book had caught my eye before and when it was made into a movie, that pushed me to purchase the book so I could read it before seeing the movie. The book is wonderful. It so well written, which is impressive since it was originally written in German. Sometimes words just don't translate as well when going from one language to another, but the translator definitely got it right with this book. So props to her!!

When the story opens, we meet 15 year old Michael Berg - he falls ill on his way home from school and is assisted by Hanna, a woman twice his age. When Michael's health improves, he returns to Hanna's house to thank her. And an affair begins. A very steamy affair. Which is sort of hard to read about! It sort of brought back memories of the details of the Mary Kay Letourneau affair - remember her? She was his teacher and became pregnant with his child when she was 34 and he was 13?

Anyway, back to the book. Michael and Hanna have an affair for quite awhile until it ends very suddenly - Hanna leaves town with no explanation. Michael moves on with his life and assumes he will never meet her again.

The book then flashes forward. Michael is now in law school and is taking a course that observes a post-WWII trial. It turns out that Hanna had worked for the SS and is now on trial for a war crime. While observing the trial, Michale is puzzled by the fact that Hanna is not defending herself, and realizes she is harboring a secret that she considers more shameful than murder.

I can't say much else as I don't want to ruin the book for any potential readers. I can't wait to see the movie - although I will be prepared to be disappointed as the movie is never as good as the book, of course! This movie has 2 of my favorite actors, though - Kate Winslet & Ralph Fiennes - so I am hoping that I won't be too disappointed.

Now that I know I will be reviewing most of the books I read (btw, I read more books than I review - I only do blog posts on the ones I really have an opinion on!), I find that I read these books differently. Now I bend down the ear of pages with passages that I want to revisit when blogging about them*. There are alot of really great passages about the shifting of a relationship. Here is one that made me think about the dissolution of past relationships:

"When an airplane's engines fail, it is not the end of the flight. Airplanes don't fall out of the sky like stones. They glide on, the enormous multi-engined passenger jets, for thirty, forty-five minutes, only to smash themselves up when they attempt a landing. The passengers don't notice a thing. Flying feels the same whether the engines are working or not. It's quieter, but only slightly: the wind drowns out the engines as it buffets the tail and wings. At some point, the earth or sea look dangerously close through the window. But perhaps the movie is on, and the stewards and air hostesses have closed the shades. Maybe the very quietness of the flight is appealing to the passengers."

If you read it, let me know what you think.

* Random note: Bending down the pages of books makes me feel terribly guilty... and it makes me think of my Grandma McDougall. She was also a lover of books. I remember getting the set of Little House on the Prairie books from her as a Christmas or Birthday gift. One week we went up to visit her & I wanted to show her how far I'd gotten in one of the books - she saw that I had folded down the ear of a page as a place marker & was APPALLED! She basically told me I was abusing the poor book and that I needed to invest in some bookmarks. I have never bent the ear of a page of a book since... until I started blogging about books. I still feel guilty when I do it, but it's the easiest way to keep track of passages I want to revisit. I know I should invest in some of those post-it tabs... But maybe, someday I will pass this book onto someone, and they'll be curious to see what passages I was most moved by...

Friday, March 6, 2009

On Being Gluten Free

Good morning & Happy Friday! The temperature is finally above freezing - is it possible that spring is here, finally? I certainly hope so!

Well, I have been Gluten Free for 5 days and so far it's going pretty well. I got my test results back from the doctor & the Celiac test was negative... which didn't really surprise me that much as the doctor had warned me that the test might come back negative but I should still continue to remove Gluten from my diet. She said to try it for 4 weeks and see how I feel - if I feel better, we've found the culprit. If I don't, she'll refer me to a GI Specialist and he/she will probably do a scope of some sort to rule out other possibilities.

So how is it going so far? Pretty good. I will say - this is definitely not a diet adjustment for the lazy. I'm not expert on this, unlike my cousin Suzanne who's been dealing with this for much longer, but so far I've learned to just basically stay away from anything processed. And stay away from lists of ingredients that I can't pronounce. Which is probably something everyone should do regardless of their dietary needs. I was eating Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones for multiple meals each week, and that is no longer an option for me, so that's a bit of an adjustment, but an adjustment for the better. Going Gluten Free will force me to go grocery shopping more often, eat more produce, and cook more of my own meals. I know those are habits that everyone should have and I am sure some people will read that & think - 'you weren't already doing those things?' I know I should have, but the answer is no. My weekends are usually filled with homework meetings and paper writing, etc, so sometimes I just don't find the time to go to the grocery store as often as I should. This will change, though. And I am looking forward to cooking more as it is something I do really enjoy when I take the time to do it.

I don't know if it's the warmer temps or the removal of gluten, but I already feel sort of different. Which doesn't seem possible since the doctor said I probably won't notice a difference for 2 weeks. But I feel less tired. Especially in the mornings. Last fall, on the days I would drive into work, I would struggle to stay awake on the drive in. Sometimes I'd drive with my eyes sort of half open and when I got into downtown and was waiting at a stoplight, I would close my eyes, count to 10, and re-open them to see if the light had turned from red to green. Sounds silly, but I always felt so exhausted. The last couple of days, I haven't felt like I had that 'veil of exhaustion' hovering over me. Again, it seems odd that I'd notice a difference this quickly, but we'll see if this continues!!

My toughest meal of the day is definitely breakfast. I was a cheerios or oatmeal kind of girl & those are just not options anymore. There is a GF oatmeal, but I hear it is pretty pricey so I am trying to come up with some more economical options. I've been eating really, really random things. Like Cherry Tomatoes. I plan on making a big batch of brown rice this weekend in my rice cooker (a must-buy if you don't own one!) and will start eating that for breakfast next week. I know it sounds kind of abnormal to eat something like that for breakfast, but I need something fast and easy, and something with some substance to it. Even though I am feeling less tired these days, I don't quite have the discipline to get up early enough to make myself an egg white omelet or something like that, so the brown rice will have to do for now.

I'm going to Trader Joe's this weekend to check out their GF section and looking forward to cooking up some GF pasta this weekend!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

This should be my new mantra...

I am loving this quote mentioned here, found here.

"I must learn to love the fool in me -- the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.

It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant who I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my fool." -- Theodore I. Rubin, MD

Isn't that beautiful?

I am such a type-A, perfectionist. I am always trying to live a life that mirrors the 2nd paragraph of that quote: the self-controlled, masterful tyrant. The person who never fails at anything and does nothing in excess.

But it's sort of exhausting to be the perfectionist. But it's all I've ever known - I have been like this since I was a small child. A few years ago, my mom put together all of my scorecards from K-12 and gave them to me to read. It was interesting to read them - as early as first grade, my teacher was commenting, "Lisa is too hard on herself." And that comment was a central theme through my years in school.

And it's still a theme in my life. I am going through a 'character building experience' right now in Grad School. I am really struggling with my Strategy class. My professor and I are just clearly not on the same page and as a result, I have done so so so poorly on my papers. So poorly that I am meeting w/ her next Monday to talk about them so I can re-write them to improve my grade.

I talked to her this morning & tried to explain that this is just not me. I am not the student that struggles academically. I'm the annoying person who gets frustrated with an A- or got mad when she got a 94% on a Differential Equations test due to a silly mistake on one of the problems.

And I am so frustrated because I thought I was done with the paper writing & could just focus on the Derivatives Homework; which is also challenging, but in a completely different way. And is something that I sort of excel at since I am a numbers person.

So it was very timely for me to read this quote today. Because it reminds me that I still haven't really truly learned how to deal with set backs. And these set backs will help develop my humility.

And maybe someday, 10 years down the road, I'll be managing an employee who just isn't on the same page. And I will think back on how I felt being on the other side. And I will be more understanding and compassionate.

At least that is what I am telling myself now to keep that voice inside my head from saying, "You are such a failure right now."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Re-surfacing of an Ex

I've mentioned in other posts, like this one, that I am not on speaking terms with my last boyfriend. We haven't spoken since last February and the last email exchange occurred last April.

So it's been awhile since I've had any communication with him. It was tough to completely cut Ryan out of my life. We were best friends before we started dating and probably ate lunch together 3-4 times/week (we worked together, but don't anymore). So it was difficult and sad to completely ax him out of my life. But it was what I needed to do last spring, so I could move forward with my life.

It was best for me, but it wasn't easy. There were a lot of times when I so badly wanted to talk to him. Like when I became an aunt again last April. Or when something really good happened to me last November.

Or when my Grandpa died last month. Ryan had met my Grandpa. He knew how much he meant to me. I'll never forget the day I introduced Ryan to my Grandparents. We went over to their house when we were home one weekend. My Grandpa totally gave him the firm handshake and said something like, 'You take care of this one, she's special.' He said it in a light tone, but you knew the man meant what he said! When I was at my Grandma's when I was home for the funeral, we reminisced about that meeting.

I have had alot of support from friends/family since my Grandpa's passing, but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking - "I wish I could call Ryan and tell him about this."

Then I talked to my mom this week and she had some surprising news. They had received a Sympathy card from Ryan. A day later, I also received one. I was so touched by this act of kindness - it was so unexpected, but meant so much.

It was also kind of hard - in an effort to get over the relationship, I had focused on all the bad parts of the relationship and sort of made him into a bit of a monster in my mind.

But then he did something like this and it reminded that he really is a good, kind person. No, we were not right for each other romantically, but he was a very good friend of mine.

So I sent him an email, thanking him for the Sympathy card. And we've emailed back and forth a few times. It's bugged me that we weren't on speaking/emailing terms since he was such a good friend before we dated, so it has been nice to hear from him. We've exchanged a few emails and given each other the 'nickel tour' of the last year of our lives.

It's been nice to re-connect. I've healed from the hurts of that relationship and have come out a stronger, healthier person. It'd be nice if we could figure out some way to have some semblance of a friendship. I don't know if that is possible, and I won't know unless we give it a shot.

For now, the lines of communication are open. So we'll see where it goes. I'm friends with Brian, my high school boyfriend, and my pre-dating friendship with Ryan is very similar to that friendship with Brian, so maybe we can figure out a way to be friends.

And maybe we won't. But I won't know unless we try. Time will tell.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Missing Paris...

I stumbled across this blog today - it's about an American couple, living abroad in Paris. She's a freelance writer & her husband's job isn't geographically constrained, so they decided to move to Paris for 6 months. How fabulous would that be?

I'm scrolling through her pictures and am missing my days in Paris so much!! They are living in my favorite area of Paris (The Marais), along the Rue St. Paul. Oy, that would be fabulous!

I feel like my job will always be geographically constrained, so doing something like this probably isn't in the cards for me. Unless I write a book someday, which is something I dream of doing. And I can't imagine a more inspiring place to write - I can just picture myself sitting at the little sidewalk cafes, sipping a cappuccino, and writing.

Ok, probably not a practical dream, but dreams aren't supposed to be practical, right?

For now, I am reflecting back on those wonderful days I spent in France last summer, chronicled here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thanks ABC

So I have been embarassingly addicted to the Bachelor & Bachelorette for multiple seasons. It's like a train wreck - I don't want to watch, but I can't help it. I get sucked in every time. And no, it never seems to work out, w/ the exception of one couple, but I still watch to see how it will all turn out.

Well, this season is just terrible. Seems so incredibly scripted. So I'm officially done with the series. It's all so scripted and man these people are terrible actors. Terrible! I won't say anything in case anyone reading this hasn't watched it. But wow. Ridiculous. But at the same time, it's sort of comical watching it. It's like a lesson in how not to look genuinely surprised. ABC should have sent these kids to some acting lessons!!

So thanks, ABC! Now I'll have many hours in the future to spend doing something productive. Like reading so I can actually post book reviews more often!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cooking with Curry

I took a brief hiatus from cooking since the last 2 weeks have been chaotic, to say the least. But tonight, after working on Derivatives homework for 4.5 hours with my homework partner (insert sigh), I figured it was time to take a break and do some cooking!

I love Curry so decided to try making a Curry dish. I was a bit really skeptical that the ingredients in the recipe were actually going to taste good together. The recipe calls for chicken, a granny smith apple, onion, green pepper, ginger, raisins, and curry among other things. But the ingredients all came together surprisingly well!

I started off by sauteeing some of the veggies, garlic, and ginger.

Then I added the curry powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Then I added the chicken that I had previously cooked and let it simmer until it looked like this

Before eating it, I topped it with some toasted almonds, and voila!

All the random ingredients tasted so wonderful together. I am really not familiar with curry recipes so am wondering if it's common for the spice to be paired with sweeter ingredients like apple.

If you want to try the recipe, let me know and I will email it to you.

Tomorrow morning I get tested to see if I have a gluten intolerance! I know most people hope for negative test results, but I am actually hoping that I test positive. It would just be really nice to know what the culprit is and why I feel like I do. Even if I don't test positive, I think I am still going to remove gluten from my diet. My cousin Suzanne has Celiac and knows I am looking into going Gluten Free, so on Friday night, she brought me a couple of delicious treats from a Gluten Free bakery called, Cooqi. They are so delicious & I'd never guess they were made with gluten-free products!!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!