Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hippie woo woo

Wow, a somewhat consistent posting schedule! Maybe.

First, a quick update on the bellydance coverup. It's in time out. I was trying to be a good little dancer and affix rhinestones to my new garment. And I MELTED A BIG HOLE in the damn thing. On the front. There is no getting around this. It'll get a patch, but only when I can look at it without glaring.

Now, onto the main point of this post. I've been chipping away at the goals I've made for this quarter, and I'm going to try a slightly different tack for the weight loss one. I've been making it to the gym fairly regularly, and have added a second bellydance class, and have been cutting the carbs down. Through all of this, I have not lost any weight. It's really quite irritating. I'm doing everything right (or well), and my body is just hanging on to the pounds, despite the fact that this has never been a stable weight for me in the past-I've always been able to gain and lose fairly easily through this particular weight (there are known stable points about 10 lbs. heavier and 15 lbs. lighter than where I am). I was complaining about it to my dad, when he recommended that I might consider trying something that a business friend of his did. It's called NAET, which stands for Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique. Trolling the internet, I've seen fairly mixed reviews, so I'd like to toss my hat in the ring on this--I'll let you know how it works.

The concept is this: your body is exposed to allergens (food, environmental, and emotional) every day, and this treatment works to re-program your body to recognize harmless substances as such. However, the definition of "allergen" is a bit broader--it also includes things that might not be tested in an allergist's office (that is, it wouldn't elicit an immune response), and your body might respond in different ways. For instance, with a grain allergy, you might not be celiac, but you might not process the grain very well. Because of this, your body might hold on to fat, or become bloated, in an effort to hang on to the energy it *can* use, and protect you from something it thinks is a poison. This enters into hippie woo-woo medicine, because they address emotional crap as well. (Though I may have a lot of work that could be done there....)

It sounds intriguing, and I'm willing to give it a whirl. It's not solely for weight fact, most of the folks in this area seem to specialize in skin problems, and chronic upper respiratory ailments--symptoms you would associate with traditional allergies. As far as I know. I don't have any food allergies, but I do have a few environmental ones: something metal, aspirin, poison ivy, and an ingredient in hair dye. My first appointment is Thursday. I'll let you know what I find out

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I spent a bit of time this weekend sewing (no pictures yet, sorry!), and I had a little bit of an epiphany about color. I purchased this particular fabric a couple of years ago when I was at a conference outside of San Francisco. At the time, I loved the fabric. I thought it was interesting, and nuanced, and I thought it would make a great cover-up for my various bellydancing exploits. Over time, that love faded, until I was left with "what the hell was I thinking?" So it sat, while I avoided looking at it.

In the spirit of fulfilling some of those New Year's resolutions, I pulled it out with the idea of sewing it up just to get it out of the closet. I mean, it's a cover up. Not a fashion statement. I cut the pattern out, set to work, and tried it on in a half-finished state, just to get an idea of what it would look like. Now, I'm hopelessly IN LOVE with this garment. It makes my skin light up, it's elegant, I can already SEE how wonderful this garment is going to be. I saved the scraps (there weren't many)...I will need a tank top out of this. I NEED this fabric in my every day life. This coming from a person who doesn't need much in the way of polyester satin.

The entire exercise threw everything I'd read about color theory and skin tone into sharp relief. It's not a color I'd normally included in my shopping excursions. I definitely will in the future!

Saturday, January 01, 2011


Ah's the New Year, and that means another attempt to get this poor, abandoned blog up and running with some semblance of regularity, to say nothing of a cohesive theme and all that. All in all, though, I don't feel too guilty. 2010 was a pretty good year. There were some disappointments, but I learned a lot, and feel like I've come out ahead, in the end. It's certainly not one of those years where I'd say "good riddance!" and do my best to shoot the year in the ass as it walked into the history books (see: 2001, 2008).

If I had to give 2010 a name, it would have been the Year of the Plan. I think I learned a lot about planning for the goals in my life and I saw the success of some of them. Some plans failed to materialize the way I envisioned, as well, and I think I learned how to better plan because of them. Back in September, I was reading a book about goal setting, and one of the statements the author made was that people tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in one day, and underestimate what they can accomplish in three months. He added that a year was too long of a time frame for most people to think about, and led to procrastination. With all this in mind, I made a bunch of goals for the last quarter of 2010. I accomplished a few, made progress on a few, and didn't even get to some. All in all, though, it ended up being very helpful for me. So, in the spirit of accountability, I'd like to share my goals for Q1 2011:

Physical/body goal: Lose 10 lbs
To accomplish this, I will continue doing WW, but will also modify it slightly and lower my carb intake. I'm starting to notice that my carb intake is inversely proportional to my mood. And I like being in a good mood. I'm also going to add a second dance class and keep up my gym attendance.

Career: Finish a draft of the alpha-pinene paper aka The Thesis
Seriously. This damn thing follows me around like Marley's ghost. It's time to scratch it off the list.

Social/emotional: meet more people
This one's a continual challenge: find more single people to hang out with. All my married/committed friends are wonderful, but I am the third wheel on some occasions. I'm thinking about seeking out a singles group of some stripe to make this happen.

Creative--lots of goals
I want to move sewing back up to the front. There's dance costumes that need making, street clothing that needs making, and all number of smaller things I need to finish. I have a long-promised Spaceman that WILL get out of my closet this quarter, and you can pretty much shoot in any direction in my stash closet and hit a sewing project in some stage of completion. It'll be like spring cleaning, but for finishing. I also want to read more--so I'll add that I want to finish 3 books, too. Finally, writing. I want to write a bit more. I write for my job, so I tend to get all my word-smithing Joneses met that way, but the net result is that my own work doesn't get attention (see: Thesis). So I've taken some steps to build a space for that, and wish to post something here every other week. (at least) We'll see how it goes.

What about you? What did you learn in 2010? Any plans for 2011?

Whew! That's everything. For this quarter.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Wowzers. It's been ages since I've posted last. Eons. Nearly a year? Sad and pathetic.

I'll not try to catch everyone up on the past year, because you've either been keeping up (more or less), or you don't care at this point. The general themes are the same: no one has died (thankfully), I have the same work (thankfully), and I live in the same geographic area. Of course I moved. My household goods are practically trained to jump into a moving truck at this point!

I suppose what prompted this post is that I've been pondering several things, and am willing to put the resulting thoughts out into the world for criticism, or, more likely, neglect. About a year ago, when I finally pulled out my sewing machine to give it some proper use, I was talking to a coworker about what I wanted to make, and we were joking about the general style (or lack thereof) in the office. One of her comments was that, in general, the men were more smartly dressed than the women, and this turned general expectations on their head. Giving in to curiosity, I asked her what she thought my style was. She answered "grad student".

Grad student? Not exactly a fashion look I aspire to. After a few fits and starts, and some reading, I started whittling out things that didn't fit--either my body or my lifestyle, and was left with this:

That, folks, is four seasons worth of clothes. Really. Special occasion clothes have been removed (as have shoes and outerwear, such as coats and hats). Personally, I think it needs a lot of fixing, expanding, and improving. One thing I did notice as I was doing this exercise was that I have a lot of "statement" pieces, and very little by way of basics. Until a couple of months ago, I did not own a black pencil skirt. Nor did I own black pants. Oh, there were times when I SHOULD have worn those things, but for whatever reason, going out and trying to find some that fit properly and I really loved didn't happen.

It's hard to launch off into anything if you don't have a trampoline, so one of my first steps has been to build that trampoline. Thanks to the Bernina, I churned out a pencil skirt I'm mostly happy with, a plain brown linen skirt that would be good for layering, and a white blouse that I rather like (my gripes with it have to do with the way the pattern was drafted than any failure on my part).

In general, though, I want to update my work wardrobe. This is a bit of a challenge, because every day is casual Friday around there. While I am not complaining about this situation, I would like to look less like a Poor Student and more like an Adult With A Paycheck. That being said, hopping straight in to business casual is neither necessary nor appropriate (except for a few days a year). This leads to the question: What does a single woman with a paycheck look like?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sydney v. Melbourne posting the rest of the Australia tales. Life has interfered, it seems, and is prohibiting me from getting anything written up! In the meantime, I can offer an entertaining teaser or two. (well, hopefully they're entertaining!)

One of the questions that followed me around Australia was "Which city do you like better? Sydney or Melbourne?" The proper answer was, of course, Melbourne, because the people asking me were from there and therefore heavily biased. :) There is a long-standing rivalry between these two cities--the national capital, Canberra, was created and built simply because the two cities could not agree which one of them would be the capital. To further soothe the rivalry, Canberra is situated halfway between the two cities. Melbourne, though, hosted the government until the city was finished.

These two cities did have their differences, as well. Very different moods prevailed in each place, and I walked away with distinct impressions as a result. Whether they were a result of my experiences in the city or the city itself, it's tough to tell. Anna gave an interesting description of each place over some cheese naan and wine while in Tassie....


Sydney, according to Anna, is like Paris Hilton. She's blonde, ditzy, a showman without much below the surface, popular, and everyone likes her. Sydney shamelessly flirts with you, but doesn't really want any sort of long-term relationship.

I'm not sure if this assessment is entirely fair, but I agree with a lot of it. I found Sydney to be this pretty, sunny city full of smart-looking professionals enjoying their morning tea and evening opera, as well as lots of tourists (including myself) walking around, gawking at the sites. The locals were fairly happy to shove you in the direction of whatever site you were looking for--here's the Opera, there's the Harbor Bridge, and over there is Bondi. Tourist activities were openly advertised and promoted, and gosh darn it, everyone is just so happy you're here. Though I wouldn't say that Sydney was as flighty as Paris Hilton, there were definitely a lot of similarities. The sunny personality, for instance. Everyone knew they were living in a beautiful city, surrounded by beautiful things and other beautiful people. Life was, and is, good, and they knew it.

Melbourne, according to Anna, is like Angelina Jolie. A bit darker, more complex, and oozing sex appeal. A lot higher 'cool factor', and someone that it would take time to get to know.

Several parts of Melbourne reminded me of New Orleans. This is because New Orleans is this very interesting city. People flock there to visit (or, at least they used to), and there really wasn't much there to cater to tourists. It was as if the citizens of the city said "Hey, we're glad you're here, but we've got our own thing going, and you're going to have to figure out things to do on your own." I found the same to be true in Melbourne. Of course, the hospitality was INCREDIBLE (if I spend the rest of my life thanking A-M and AD, it just might cover it), but once I ventured beyond their walls, I felt like I was very much on my own. I had to work a little bit harder to find ways to amuse myself. There wasn't much in the way of "Hey Tourist! Over here!" The rewards, though, were just as sweet as those in Sydney. Melbourne had plenty to offer, she just made you work a bit more for it, and was not going to go out of her way to shuttle tourists into a particular area. In that sense, I left feeling like I had gotten to know the city a bit more, because I had to really beat the streets (sometimes several times over) to divine what to do and where to go.

Towards the end of my stay in Melbourne, this conversation came up with AD (using initals to protect the innocent) while walking back from the Queen Vic Markets. AD's take on Anna's assessment was that Melbourne was like a geeky girl. She was a bit awkward and into nerdy sorts of things like art and such, and was the sort of city/girl you'd blow off initially, because she's not very flirty. However, if you stick around and get to know her, you find that there's a lot of substance, and that she's really quite cool and has a complex personality, and then you fall for her. In his mind, Melbourne didn't have the sex appeal of Angelina Jolie, but she had a lot of charm and personality just the same. In his mind, I think, that was worth more.

So there's your teaser. Both descriptions have given me a lot of food for thought, and I wanted to share them with everyone. I've been thinking about what sort of personality Chapel Hill and North Carolina has. I don't have an answer yet, but I'm working on one. The trees are going to start turning here in a couple of weeks, and then she'll really have the charm going---I love autumns up here--but otherwise, I just don't have a good personality for this place. I'm willing to entertain ideas, though!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Update 2.full

Okay, funsters, here is the rest of the update, now that I've got some internet time on my card again!

You got the surf update. The rest of Noosa proved to be quite a learning experience. This experience came in the form of the other people I was staying with. If you are looking for Americans in Australia, go to Noosa. That's where they're hiding. In one hostel, split among two rooms, were six Americans: myself, two girls from California, one girl from St. Louis, one girl from New York, and a guy from Maine. It was hanging out with them that I learned a few things about travelling. First, I learned that I am very glad I am travelling alone. The times that we all went out together, we tended to hang about as a group and talk about American things--the news in the States, our respective lives back home, etc. When I struck out from the group and did my own thing, I was much more likely to engage with the locals. And every time I went out on my own (say, to dinner) I received an invitation to share a table, or share a drink with a crowd. I met lots of very lovely people doing that, and learned about how life is outside of my own little bubble. (A lot of similarities, and some differences, too).

Second, I learned that many other people are REALLY crazy. A lot of the Americans (one in particular) claimed that they came to Australia to find answers. To what, they didn't know. All they knew was that they were going to do all sorts of things (one day of surfing, one day of hiking, one day of meditating in the mountains), in the search for these answers. I'm not sure how they were paying for this operation, as they didn't have a working holiday visa, and were there for several months, but that wasn't my business. They seemed shocked that, after my tale of how I got there, that I wasn't searching for answers of my own, but rather, just here to enjoy life and all it has to offer. The statement "I did my soul searching, already, thanks," just mystified that crowd. I didn't have time to help them find answers to questions they hadn't defined, so I didn't hang around that crowd a whole lot.

That was Noosa.

On to Sydney!

Sydney is a very charming city. It's big-huge, really, when traversed on foot and bus, and four days isn't nearly enough time to see it all. I spent the first evening getting to my lodgings--by the time I got plane and train sorted, it was rush hour, and getting dark quickly, and ended up walking from Central Station out to Glebe. This wouldn't be a bad walk if it were just a ramble, as it's only 3 or 4 km. However, this distance became huge when loaded down with 50 lbs. worth of stuff and sporting two blisters (earned in Noosa). I was not a happy girl by the time I arrived, and so I just stayed in and vegetated the first night. The first full day in Sydney (Tues), I decided to strike out and aquire opera tickets and wander around the city and see what it had to show me. I successfully navigated the bus system, and stumbled upon Hyde Park Barracks, a museum dedicated to the history of the City and the different roles the building had played over the years since its construction: convict barracks, legislative building, and records storage. It also documented the archaeology and restoration of the building to its' present museum state. I wandered around the courtyard, and stumbled upon a group of schoolchildren in a tour group, learning about how the earliest settlers lived..and the were all wearing slop shirts (1860s cut--history dork!) and making bricks out of wet sand. The difference between what these children were doing and activities that you would have schoolchildren do in the States was astounding. (For the record for the Aussies reading this, it would depend on the site, but would likely be some sort of farming activity, though the convict colonies were S. Carolina and Georgia, so they might be making bricks there) Then again, you might find something equally eye-opening at a Civil-war era site that didn't apologize for slavery. Tough to say. At any rate, the museum was interesting, aside from the choice to include mummified rats in the displays (I understand they made a mess of the building and made the lives of the occupants hell, but do you really have to include the mummies?)

From there, I wandered up and found the Opera. I went up to the window to get my ticket, and was quietly informed that if I bought a backstage tour of the opera for $35 (which I wasn't going to do, despite being mildly interested), I could get any ticket for that night's show for $50. For reference, the cheapest seats for the opera started at about $100, and after Noosa, I was looking for a deal! I dashed over and got my tour ticket, then came back and scored a seat in the stalls that normally ran for $198 for a mere $50. Woohoo for that! And I got a very interesting tour of the Opera to boot. I was glad I did it, in the end. It went into the details of construction of the opera, and took us through all the different concert spaces. In addition, we got to wander in and listen to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearse (Sans-Saens cello concerto) for a few minutes. It was really cool stuff. There was another tour that took you all through the backstage, but it was only once a day, starting at 7am, so no luck there. While on the tour, I ran into a couple other tourists (a comedian from Los Angeles and a tourist from Germany) and we ended up wandering around together for the tour and having lunch afterward. It was quite pleasant.

After all that, it was time to return home, clean up, and get back for a 7:30 show. I wore my cute new Fluevogs, along with a really great dress I got at Kohls (great because its a wrinkle-free jersey). While sipping champagne and watching the lights from the ships move about the harbor before the show (It was the Sydney Opera, how could you not??), I was chatted up by two little old ladies who commented that they loved my shoes. They came to the opera often, because they loved the music and loved watching all the people. There's no dress code at the Opera there, so it provided ample opportunity for "what on earth are they wearing?" moments. :) You could see everything from formals to converse sneakers and jeans. One of the ladies runs a bed and breakfast three doors down from the hostel I'm staying in.

The opera itself was wonderful. It was just the way opera should be: beautiful music, beautiful singing, decent costumes (Fidelio is set in an 18th C. Spanish prison, there's not much room for pretty), and HORRIBLE acting to match the overdone story arc and absolutely over-the-top lyrics. I'll definitely seek out some opera in Raleigh.

After the show, I was hungry, and wandered into the only shop serving that late (10:30pm). It was a Guylian Chocolate shop, and I thought "I'm on vacation, why the hell not?" and ordered myself an incredibly decadant dessert for dinner. And another glass of champagne to go with it. While waiting for my death-by-chocolate dinner to arrive, I was invited to share a table with three very charming women: Imalayah, from Sydney, her friend (name???) visiting from the Phillipines, and her friend's aunt Tess, who also lives in town. Within minutes we were laughing like we'd known each other all our lives. One of the lovely serendipitous moments that could only happen because I was travelling alone...

Today was a trip to Bondi beach, to see the place where all the Beautiful People play. It was cool and windy, and the water was pretty cold (I checked with my toes), but the surfers were still out in full force, and they looked to be having a pretty good time. I'd seen pictures of the place on Christmas day, when every square inch of sand is covered by people with their coolers and inflatable Christmas Trees (I could do Christmas like that), but the beach was much more empty today. I was surprised by how small the beach was--maybe 100 yards long, and surrounded by a rock outcroppings upon which townhouses perched. What it must be like to live that close to the ocean, far enough south that you can live reasonably certain that you won't be blown away by a hurricane/typhoon? Seems amazing to me.

At any rate, I'm out of time (again), having spent the entire hour writing this, so I shall return in a couple of days for another update!

Up next: the rest of the day at Bondi, and a daytrip out to the Blue Mountains. Then on to Tassie!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sheet in ze boosh

Well, that was the words of Stefan, the French surf instructor...that to surf well, one needs to look like they are "taking a sheet in ze boosh, not ze Eiffel Tower" This wasn't my problem with surfing. I had lots of other problems! The last two days were really instructive, and it was good, because the waves got progressively harder as the time wore on (nature's doing, not the school's)...I got up once or twice, but in general just struggled. Surfing, I have decided, is REALLY HARD. It didn't help that I am a switchfoot, it seems--I surf equally poorly with both my right and left foot out front. Sort of like trying to bat right or left handed...I was switching back and forth. I'm not really surprised that I was doing this, as I do it for lots of other sports (tennis, bowling, etc), and so I knew that it would probably be frustrating (if I let myself be frustrated)...but I didn't care. I was out, having fun playing in the ocean, so all was well. But my instructor got a bit frustrated, because he couldn't figure out what was making me so horrible at the whole thing. In the end, though, I think I'd like to try surfing again...I suppose I'll have to head out to the Carolina coast when I get back.

Noosa in general: I heard (once I got there) that iwas one of the top three most expensive streets in Australia. I believe that...Sydney is cheaper! One can dine on The Rocks (bayside views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge) for the same price or a little less than what is found in Noosa. It's insane.

Well, the Internet cafe tells me I'm out of time. I have lots more to say, but it'll just have to wait until tomorrow.

Bec, signing off