07 February 2018

Not a New Year's resolution, but you're probably going to call it one anyway.

Husband did the Whole30 for 4 months to reassess his eating habits and felt so much better during that time that he opted to stick with most of the dietary restrictions after the program wrapped.  I wasn't looking for that hard of a reset, but his experience made me want to take a look at what I was eating.  

I decided to cut out what I suspected were my 3 trigger foods for the month of January: sugar, dairy, and grains.  During the week, I only got sugar from fruits and veggies and skipped dairy and grains all together.  I still allowed myself 2 unrestricted meals on the weekends because a date night and a friendship brunch are weekly necessities for my mental well-being.  And dammit, it's the weekend.

The first few days of January, I felt like I was going through withdrawals. I guess I was. Remarkably, I felt less like a living baguette after about a week. Then my skin started clearing up. Then I dropped 5 pounds.  As I started feeling better, the cravings subsided, my mood evened out, and even my anxiety eased up a bit.  Food science is way cool.

Flash forward. This is the first week of February and the first week I started sprinkling in a tiny bit of bread and sugar during the week.  I haven't been missing dairy at all (until I find myself fantasizing about ice cream and cheese). Anyway, this week, my skin basically smacked me in the face.  It was the physical equivalent of my pores screaming, this bitch just doesn't learn!  So, I think I'm back on the wagon.  

I went into high school not realizing I was chubby (#babyfat4dayz) and kind of wished I'd stayed in that oblivious headspace, because once the realization sunk in, I became super restrictive with my diet. My weight dropped, I started getting cast in bigger parts, and I felt more social, which probably led to having more friends.  But, at the time, those were my driving motives, not being healthy.  I eventually found a happier medium, but as adult, I've been cautious about being too cautious.  That said, January's weekday/weekend experiment worked well for me.  And that's really what it's about: figuring out your body, eating well in a way that's sustainable for you, and just feeling better.

Keep on keeping on,

04 February 2018

Good old days.

A Hindu, Muslim, Jehovah's Witness, and atheist walk into a bar.

Actually, we were 13, so it was more like walking to 7-11 for Coke Icees on the regular.  And Mimi's once when we were having a ladies-who-lunch moment. Their corn chowder has yet to be equaled, in my budget foodie opinion.

I have always been attracted to people who were different from me and these were my closest friends through elementary and middle school.  We did theatre together and were in a number of clubs, mainly focused on academics and community service.  We had secret Batman-themed nicknames (I was Catwoman, obviously) for passing notes in class. This was before cell phones, y'all.  We did splinter off at times and would have our own inside jokes—my Indian friend and I used to refer to ourselves as the Indus Valley Girls. I don't think any of the boys--or some of the teachers--got that one, but it made our moms chuckle.  Anyway, even when we would pair off, I don't recall us ever going through a mean girls phase.  We all just really liked each other.  We were consummate over-achievers, which turned out to be our downfall since we all got into different merit-based high schools. But for a solid six, formative years, they were the best friends a gal could hope for. 

Despite our closeness, one quirky thing about the friendship was how infrequently we hung out outside of school. None of us were ever invited to the Jehovah Witness' house, nor was she allowed to visit any of ours.  I always thought of her as my closest friend, yet we never once went to the movies, had a sleepover, or celebrated one another’s birthdays.  It seems strange in retrospect, but it wasn't at the time.  My weekends were spent with my family, many cousins, or the kids of those in my parents' circle of friends. School friends were left at school.

When I went home a few months back, I found a treasure trove of old photos that I’ve only begun sorting. Here's one from the vault:

Embrace the different. Life’s more interesting that way.

Keep on keeping on,

16 January 2018

No, but really.

My beautiful, smart, talented lady friend shared something today about the maddening conversations she's had on the ethnicity vs. nationality front.

It made me think back to growing up and living in California most of my life.  These conversations are so commonplace to many of us who don't appear decidedly white.  One of my best friends from high school is of Jewish and Filipino ancestry and has had Chinese-directed racial slurs yelled at him.  Another good friend from college is straight up Guatemalan, but has definitely been asked about his Jewish heritage.  

My own ethnic ambiguity has been up for debate much less since moving to Washington. Maybe people just keep to themselves more up here, or maybe the Pacific Northwest winters have made me pasty. Either way, you'll hear no complaints from this half-breed introvert.

But, just for chuckles, here are some actual conversations I've had with curious, nosy, and/or entitled strangers:

Imbecile: Are you Hindi?

Me: That's a language.
Imbecile: Are you Islam?
Me: That's a religion.
Imbecile: Are you Mexican?
Me: The odds are in your favor given my perpetual tan and that Latinos out-number white people in California, but nope.

Imbecile: So, where are you from?
Me: California.
Imbecile: No, but like, where?
Me: Southern California. (Read: I know what you're getting at, but I am in no way obligated to share this information. Plus, I'm really only in this to see how long it takes to get to, "Well, what kind of brown are you?")

Imbecile: But, where is your family from?

Me: My mom is a white chick from California of Northern and Eastern European ancestry. My dad immigrated from Pakistan in the 80's and his parents were from India.
Imbecile: (Triumphant) I knew it!
Me: You mean what I just told you?

Imbecile: So, do you speak Arabic?

Me: No.
Imbecile: But, you're Middle Eastern.
Me: Negative. Pakistan is part of South Asia and they speak Urdu, which written resembles Arabic and Farsi, but spoken sounds like Hindi.
Imbecile: So, like Sanskrit?
Me: No. Namaste.

Okay, maybe I didn't say namaste.

Keep on keeping on,

10 January 2018

Greyt start to the year.

Happy 2018 everyone! We forking make it! Sorry... "The Good Place" is on Netflix. I love Kristen Bell.

Last week, I had a shift at Loxley's former kennel. It's among the very best rescues for greyhounds and greyhound-mixes. If you're looking to adopt and are anywhere near Washington state, you'll find a world of information at Greyhound Pets. We also hold meet-and-greets throughout the year, so come see the pups.

People ask me about Loxley all the time. Maybe I post too many pictures of her, maybe I just don't look antisocial enough on our walks, I don't know. But, here are some things I've learned working with the breed and of course adopting one.

Let's start with the greyt stuff:

+ They're often incredibly, ridiculously affectionate. Just giant cuddle bugs.
+ Greyhounds have 2 settings: on and off. When they're on, they're excited, playful, and running. When they're off, they're cats.
+ They're typically quiet and many don't bark. The howling you sometimes hear when greyhounds get together is called "rooing."
+ They just want to be near you. A bed in every room is the way to go.
+ Loxley is pretty greyt at entertaining herself, given a fair amount of cardboard to chew on, paper to shred, and did I mention, she's a cat?
+ They're very enthusiastic about training, having been bred to be. As long as you know what you're doing and you're willing to put in the work, you can usually count on an eager and focused partner. As a former professional animal trainer (who's worked with a number of mammal species), I can say she's one of the most receptive creatures I've been fortunate enough to train.

And what can be less than greyt:

- I cannot overstate how fragile these dogs are. They're big, but not very sturdy. They have incredibly thin skin, so a little scratch in the yard can bleed a lot. Loxley is pretty young and dopey, and she still hasn't figured out her proportions or turning radius. She's always running into things (greyhounds can run 40+ mph so watch out!). Your owner skills need to be in overdrive because there’s just zero self-preservation instinct.
- They have wacky normals and CBC/chem (blood) levels. Bonus: they often also react poorly to premeds and/or anesthesia. Doses that would be fine for other breeds of comparable size could be fatal to a greyhound. You need to find a vet who’s experienced with greyhounds.
- Separation anxiety is common. Loxley used to roo a lot when we’d leave, but we worked through it by leaving for short periods and then working on duration. And by giving her lots of toys and enrichment while we’re out—mom and dad leaving isn’t scary; it’s playtime!
- Dental disease is common. Plan for $500-1000 dentals at your vet every year.
- This is not a breed that’s going to hang out while you work on your car, like a lab. If they see something interesting, they will run. You need a yard with a high fence. Loxley can clear 4’.
- I think the biggest challenge I see with rehoming retired racers is that people expect too much out of them. Potential owners often think that because they've had race training, they must be house trained. They're not. Most have never had a home outside of a 3x10 kennel. They will need socialization, obedience training, and housebreaking. They can also have the same bed or food related aggression as any other ex-kennel dog. I encourage prospective adopters be patient and have realistic expectations. Remember, no one's perfect in a new situation right off the bat. 

Keep on keeping on,