Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Clandestine density... yeah, that's right... density

For three weeks now, John, Nate, Jaucelynn, Tank, Chuck, and myself have been in a weight loss competition with one another that will last a total of sixteen weeks. Each Monday, we all weigh in... I'm the only one who can't show up at the house to weigh in with everyone else, so I had to buy an identical scale and video tape my weigh-ins, then email them in so that no one thinks I'm lying. Whoever's lost the largest percentage of their original body weight by the May 1st deadline wins a cash prize (each of us has put in fifty bucks). Here's the weird thing... after three weeks and two weigh-ins, I'm actually winning.

It's not what I expected. Granted, I'm not likely to hold on to my lead... I mean, John and Chuck are both doing very well, and working really hard at it. Besides, I've got a pretty messed-up metabolism, what with my thyroid being... um... gone. Besides, I've got the furthest to go... of everyone in the competition, I'm furthest away from my ideal weight, least hydrated, with the highest fody fat percentage... it doesn't make sense that I should be doing very well at all. Then again, I did sell my car. Wanna lose weight? Sell your car and move to New York. Since I've been here, I've lost... wait for it... thirty-four pounds. Scary. And I haven't even been working out. Okay, yes, I walk everywhere. Yes, I fence once or twice a week. And, okay, there's absolutely no fast food in my diet (because there isn't really any around for me to get most days... I may have a hot dog on the street once in a while, but that's about it). So okay, maybe, despite not working out, I'm doing things that are somewhat equivalent to working out. Still... it's hardly work.

Something else about all this has been rather nice. Of course, there's the idea of fitting into clothing and feeling better about it. And there are health benefits, to be sure, just as I can easily say that my energy levels have drastically increased. Still, there are the little things.

When I came to New York, I defnitely didn't look as heavy as I was. I would tell people, even stand on a scale to show them, and they still couldn't believe it... my magic number when I set foot in New York City was, incredibly, 234, although I didn't look an ounce over 180, maybe even less. Now, I'm at a flat 200. Granted, I didn't look as heavy as that six months ago, and I certainly don't look that heavy now. Therefore, the numbers on the scale never mattered much to me, given that they never say much about how I really look. All the same... 200 is a huge benchmark for me. I've weighed over 200 pounds for a good while now, and, despite other people never knowing it, I've known it. The first time I saw that I weighed just over 200, I hadn't looked at a scale in a long, long time, so I didn't exactly watch it happen. It just was. Suddenly. Just like that. This weight loss, on the other hand, hasn't been painfully gradual... sort of accidental, really... but I've definitely been around to see it. And now I've got a damn scale, and I see those numbers, and they're not so scary anymore.

Right now, I'm on the brink of being under 200 pounds for the first time in who knows when. Each week, I lose a little more. In fact, I've begun to include a workout into my routine... nothing awe-inspiring, just a couple of days a week on the eliptical machine. Since the start of the competition, I've lost just over 8 pounds. Yesterday's weigh-in had me at 200 pounds... might I actually be below that next week? Woah... if so, I'll definitely take it. meanwhile, John's doing a great job... he's working out almost every day, eating healthier than I've ever seen (and of his own free will, no less)... already, he's worked off 7 pounds these last three weeks, and he's nowhere near slowing down. Chuck, who's an old pro at the weight-related self-deprecation and punishment by going into diet and exercise overdrive, is also doing plenty of damage so far, having lost about 5 pounds (without exactly trying, mind you... just wait till he really gets going with the guilt). Meanwhile, there are three more of us, and it's been an interesting struggle to witness. Everyone seems to have a theory on what will work for him or herself, how to regulate things in their lives, adding and subtracting here and there. So far, success for Jaucelynn, Tank, and Nate has been touch and go, but they've certainly not thrown in the towel, and have become more and more determined with the passing weeks. I consider myself their biggest fan, their most energetic cheerleader.

Oh, yeah... I got into the Vagina Monologues. Go figure. Hopefully, I can be ten more pounds lighter by the time the show goes up in March... It would be nice, I think, to make my... um... New York theatrical debut weighing in at under 200 pounds. Maybe it's petty of me, but I can't help thinking it would still feel pretty good.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Taking the sumptuous road to sloth

On most weekends, it's just another couple of weekdays. I'm just as busy on my Saturdays and Sundays as I am on any other day. This weekend, I decided to do things a bit differently.

It's been about two weeks since I've been back, since I've gotten back into the swing of school... classes, teaching, pushing my thesis through, and so on... to tell the truth, I'm not feeling tired, necessarily, or stressed, or worn out, or frazzled in the least. It'll probably catch up with me at some point, though, which is why I decided that, this weekend, I'd do something to curtail it.

Rather than go off and stomp through the city, or go to an open mic, or go to campus and do work, I decided, against some of my better judgment, to stay home and do absolutely nothing. Recharge my batteries, as it were. My Saturday was nice... worked out a little with my new excercise ball and my dumbells throughout the day, watched a good bit of television, caught up on my emails, worked on music a touch, and ate now and then. Lovely. Today, I took an unusually long shower, sat around in a bathrobe (reminiscent of being back in Texas), covering myself head to toe in scented lotion like it's going out of style, and even practiced applying my new makeup... and believe me, I need the practice. So here I am, reclining on my futon, in my dressing kimono, in full makeup, sipping hot tea, listening to Jude on my iPod Nano, thumbing through a couple of my textbooks now and then, jotting down lyrics for new songs when they occur to me... I could realy get used to this.

Actually, no. In spite of how admittedly nice this has been, I haven't been able to escape the nagging feeling that I'm missing out on getting things done. It's hard, really, to have a little vacation that you don't feel you're remotely entitled to, so you spend your down-time in a not-so-down place stress-wise, silently obsessing about what you're going to have to catch up on or what you'll have to do to make up for your sinfull indulgence, until it becomes a droaning, numbing, continuous grumble everpresent in the background of your thoughts, which are all the while bent on relaxing. So you fight it... "Relax, damn it!" You begin to self-depricate, hating yourself for being such a freak about not being able to relax and enjoy the idea of doing absolutely nothing. Then you become determined, in that instant, to defeat your own neurotic tendency toward constant productivity, to be normal for a second and relax into doing nothing and actually feeling good about it. It's then that you realize, as far as you're concerned, that what you think is normal... enjoying the idea and the activity of non-activity... just isn't normal for you. In short, yes, I'm liking this, but I'm still glad that it'll be over by tomorow. For now, I'm fine in my kimono and my makeup and my layers of lotion... I wouldn't mind a phonecall, though. I'm starting to forget what it's like to interact with other people... their ways are becoming... strange to me...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A return to the ordinary?

Not quite, I'd say. In all things, I'm a sucker for peer pressure. Or even pressure from non-peers on occassion. Undergraduate pressure gets thrown in there once in a while.

I auditioned for the Fordham production of The Vagina Monologues earlier this evening. I was exhausted, and I was pretty far down the list, which meant a long wait, but at least I can say I did it. Most importantly, I don't have to go to bed tonight kicking myself for not having gone to the audition. Usually, that's what gets me... regrets of things I didn't do for one dumb reason or another. Well, none of that this time, because I did it. I was given four or five different monologues to choose from, and I couldn't decide which one to do for the audition, so I went in there and let the pannel pick... they chose "The Angry Vagina," which I'm sure is pretty self-explanatory. It was a funny monologue, I guess... there has been better writing in the history of the world, but whatever. After that, they asked me to read a second monologue, a quick little ditty called "Cunt." Again, it was what it was, and I did it. We'll hear back at some point soon, but I'm not holding my breath. In other words, I don't have any kind of dire emotional commitment to this one. Still, it might be kind of hilarious, yes? For me to do a show again would be a good time... if not, there'll be others, no doubt. At least I did the audition. Yeay for me.

On the topic of peer pressure, I was talking to a few folks about singing and trying to get my stuff heard, trying to get myself recognized, etc. I was told by just about everyone that I need to start wearing makeup... not because I'm hideous, but because it's simply what's done. If I want to be - and look - professional, I need to wear makeup on a daily basis from now on. I don't know about every day, but I don't suppose it would hurt for me to have some makeup on hand, at the very least, and maybe eventually wear it now and then. So I went to Sephora (oh, yeah... I went in, and they didn't throw me out or anything), and some woman did my makeup and told me what to buy. I told her I needed something simple, and she heard me... I got a powder that serves as concealer, foundation, and powder all in one, some cream eye shadow that looks good even when I'm the one applying it to my face, and some goofy lip gloss stuff. I also got the other necessaries... brushes, blushed, mascara, eye liner, bla, bla, bla. All in all, I think I'm set. Now, the big question... will I actually wear this crap? Let's just say that, given the money I spent on the experience, I'll seriously consider it. Or at least I'll try.

I did manage to have a return of sorts to the way things were before the break... I had my first recording session of the new year today. Jeeze... it's about time. I'd really missed Craig, and he missed me... we have a sacred bond, and it's beautiful when we share ourselves with one another. (Insert soundtrack of tweeting birds and soothing harp music here.) Yeah, yeah, it was good to be back, and we got some work done, mostly polishing things we left undone over the break. The fruits of our labor are now posted on my music site (for the curious, it's www.emilymcspadden.com), so I can feel like I'm still doing things that are conducive to getting this damn album cut and done. In the meantime, I have to pick and choose where to perform over the next couple of weekends, then put that on the site as well... for now, I'm perfectly happy with baby steps. I'll just keep recording (I have a new song in the works... finally... that Craig seems to like so far, so that should keep me busy for a while), and we'll see how things go.

And if I was getting at all relaxed on the academic front, I've just received an email from Dr. Sherrod, the head of the Applied Developmental Psych department. Apparently, they've finally gotten around to discussing my status in regard to my masters thesis, and he wants me to come in and discuss it, along with what possibilities exist for me where transfer credits are concerned. If they choose not to accept my thesis from University of Dallas, I at least get 8 credits transfered, and that's at least something. If, on the other hand, they do accept it, that means up to 30 credits... big difference, I'd say. Anyway, I'm a little nervous... thank goodness for all this free time I've got to relax. Seriously... my sleepless nights, despite the lack of sleep, are actually quite relaxing. Oh, yes... things are most certainly back to the "ordinary"... time, once again, to hurry up and wait.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

In search of large, pliable beasts of burden

That is, if I can't figure something else out for the transport of my laundry. I'm sorry, but I can't do it... I can't even think about the trip up the stairs lugging my laundry without feeling pain everywhere. If I could just get some large, obedient idiot to carry it for me, I'd be in business. Sure, I could do it in waves, taking a little at a time. That would mean getting through my laundry at the end of, say, three months or so. I mean, there's a lot of it. So, until I can figure something out, I'll dig tunnels through my laundry to walk through my room. At least it makes for good insulation in the winter, though it may be a bit of a fire hazzard. Anyway, if there's anyone out there who thinks they might be willing to do a little manual labor, definitely let me know. Hell, I'd be willing to pay at this point... not much, but more than I'd be getting paid to do it.

Meanwhile, it's life as usual. Courses and teaching have started up again as of last week, as has choir; fencing is next week, so I'm getting myself warmed up for the exertion, which I need after the long, fat kid break I had in Texas over Christmas. I start recording again next week, too, which is great... that may have been the thing I missed the most while I was away. Anyway, that's on Tuesday. Besides, I've been working on some new things, and I'm looking forward to running them past Craig, to see if there's anything there that we ought to record. Speaking of Tuesday... I've had another stupid idea.

It wouldn't be so stupid if it wasn't me, doing everyhting I'm up to now, smack in the middle of actually working hard at school. No, this one's pretty stupid, and it's on Tuesday. Actually, it's on both Monday and Tuesday: auditions for Fordham's production of The Vagina Monologues. It's not that I have an enormous affinity for the show... I mean, I don't hate it, but parts of it have always sort of irritated me... bits of it seemed a little trite to me back when I saw it a few years ago. Still, it certainly has its redeeming moments. Otherwise, how could it be so popular, aside from the obviously intreaguing subject matter? Truth is, there are a couple of monologues that I think might be rather fun to do, and I haven't been in a stage production in a couple of years (well, in terms of straight-up theatrical drama, that is), so I miss it. There it is... I miss it. I know it's stupid that I even consider the audition, but I have a pretty hard time turning away. The worst that could happen is that I don't make the cut. Or, perhaps, the worst thing that could happen would be for me to get in. I haven't decided if I'm gonna do this thing yet... but it's looking pretty bad so far. Ah, well... there goes my spare laundry time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The short version

Here it is... I got back to New York, went to two days of rehearsal, sang with a big high school choir at Carnegie Hall (long story... I might cover it later)... right before that, I did something weird and auditioned for the baritone solo in the "Libera me" from Faure's Requiem, just for a laugh (actually got a callback, which was hillarious)... some producer guy was walking by and heard my audition, then offered me some weird job (voicing the music or something for a documentary on homeless people, or somesuch), says he'll call me in two weeks when he gets back to Orlando, since he's working on Survivor right now... yeah, whatever... so I gave him my number, and he marched off after a frantic handshake, with three other people following him and holding little notebooks. Weird. Then, after the concert, the people who were running the Carnegie Hall thing took us on a two-hour cruise around Manhattan, complete with free beer for the grown-ups. Random, but welcome. The next day was my first day of class (today, incidentally), so I've been on campus for most of it, getting my office in order and doing random searches online when I ought to be reading my brand new, grossly overpriced textbooks. It's cold and windy here today... think I'll stop by the diner on the way home and grab something somewhat healthy to eat before wasting my late night in front of the television, expectantly awaiting the latest episode of Project Runway. I promise I'll be more prodictive tomorrow. That is, at least I'll try.

There... that's all that's gone on since I've been back. Oh... and I also may have found out that a friend from college has died, but I haven't been able to verify it yet. Aside from that, nothing out of the ordinary... so yes, I'm definitely back in New York.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Okay, okay, so it's been a while... hence, a vacation

Ah, the holidays. The break I've been waiting for all these months. Or something like that.

I first finished up tying up a few loose ends into neat little bows in New York. I popped in for one last recording session with Craig, finished my presentations and finals, did one last choir gig, then got the hell out of dodge. I got to Texas and its unnaturally warm climate (even for Texas) about a week before Christmas, happy as who knows what to be with John again. At last.. quality time together, yes? Now, now... not so fast.

Remember, I arrived to find myself held tight in the grip of the Christmas season. There was family to see (my folks, as well as two sets of family on John's side), a slew of friends (in waves), and let's not forget the ever-important gift shopping drama that's so inextricably linked to this marvelous season of comercialistic debauchery. Yes, of course I'm happy to see everyone again. Of course I love being back in warmth and sunshine and all of that jazz. Still, a little... um... taking of marital stock, you could say... might be nice. I expected this lack of private time, this deluge of prescheduled engagements and appearances. Take it in stride, then, and bide your time, right? Sure, until the end of the day, when you're finally to yourselves, and you're too exhausted to keep your eyes open, let alone... um... chat.

Then, there are the new living arrangements. They were aggreed upon before I left, but it's still a big change. John now has two roommates, which is helping him maintain his sanity in my absence. Still, it certainly changes things a bit. I don't suggest that I'm unhappy with our housemates. On the contrary... I'm grateful that they're here. Jaucelynn and Nate have been godsends, as far as I'm concerned. Still, it does change things, and it's taken some adjustment. On top of which, we all seem to keep bizzare hours, between fluctuating work schedules, vacationing, and even something as mundane as meals. I can't say I've gotten much sleep since I've been here, but that's not something I'm unaccustomed to anyway, so I'll live.

Sleep isn't the only thing that's been strange for me here. I'm not accustomed to driving everywhere, or, more specifically, not walking all the time. I can already feel myself swelling as a result of my reaffirmed sloth. Still, I find comfort in the thought that it's only a temporary relapse into this way of life, that I'll be back to my old pedestrian self in no time... a week, to be exact. I miss New York. There. I said it. I mean, come on... was there really ever any doubt? And I miss my friends, particularly my roommate, and Aunt Jenny's sure to be wanting her chauffer. Yes, I'm sure I'm bound to miss everyone here when I leave. John, of course, is on the top of that list. He's finished up and sent off his application to Fordham, though, so it won't be long before he's up there with me. And there's also one of John's new roommates, Jaucelynn, who goes by Jay (or J... I don' know which is correct, in terms of spelling, but you get the idea); we've grown pretty close these last couple of weeks, and have forged a pretty solid friendship. There is, however, a possibility that she might be moving to New York when John comes up, likely to work on her own college studies. Aside from them, I have several dear friends here in Dallas, but we keep in touch well enough, and they haven't exactly fallen apart since I've been gone. So yeah, I think I'm ready to head back to New York now.

I leave here on the 14th, next Saturday morning. Classes begin again the following Tuesday, so I don't have much time to kick back before things get rolling again. I think it's a good way for things to be, though. And, in spite of the oddities of my stay, it has indeed been restfull. I mean, I've spent entire days in my bathrobe, for crying out loud! I tell you, that's no small thing for me. Enough of the easy, laid-back-ness of Dallas, though. One more week, and it's back to the grind. It's been a good little breath I've taken, and I think it was just what I needed before round two of my Fordham experience. Besides, I'm dying to get back into the studio, back to performing, back to writing (I've been slacking off in that department lately, with no guilty conscience to speak of)... I'm starting to feel more and more as though New York is... well... home.