Friday, January 31, 2014

Weddings and Funerals

What. A. Week.

Last post I claimed sweet relief as I scrambled to fix a graduate school situation that could have prevented me from graduating (stupid scheduling/credit crap). Now, a week after that debacle, I feel kind of whiplashed. Not quite pistol whipped by life, because I feel a mixture of joy, sadness, excitement and pure exhaustion.

My parents arrived on Friday evening for my cousin Erin's wedding which was held on Saturday. Of course it snowed on Saturday morning which was great for Erin who wanted a snowy wedding but not so great for the Rodabaugh's as we tried (and almost failed) to navigate the pinelined streets of New Jersey. We reached the church in the nick of time, catching the beginning of the procession in. The wedding was nice, Erin looked stunning, and it was a Catholic mass so I knew all the responses. I finally learned those new ones (that have been in place for about 3 years now).

After the wedding we traversed the snowlaiden streets to the reception. We had a great time. Erin had a nice cocktail hour with delicious appetizers. Apparently my Uncle and I share a profound love for scallops wrapped in bacon. Dinner was delicious and my mom was especially excited about the "taste of Philly" table which featured cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. We drank and danced and had a blast. My cousin John Patrick gave the most epic speech that had us laughing and muttering "awww" at the same time. Was a great family adventure.

My parents stayed until Monday morning when it was time for me to get back to the grind. Unfortunately as soon as I walked in the door I got slammed with some bad news. A former resident from my work who was an active community leader/board member/networker passed away suddenly over the weekend. I met her last year at our annual gala and helped her get over her nerves before she gave a big speech to the audience. I became known as "the girl who helped me get through my speech" after that. When she'd come to my work on various occasions, she'd seek me out to say hello. She also introduced me to her friends as "the girl that helped me get through my speech." Needless to say in the short time I knew her, she meant a lot to me. As my parents drove off I sat at my computer completely shocked at the turn of events. She was young and had two children. I just couldn't wrap my head around that loss.

I didn't have much time to process the events because I had to work hard and head to school that evening. I started my Arts Criticism Writing class. The following day I worked late, helping the kids with the tutoring program I run. Then on Weds, I got up bright and early since I had to leave work early for school. Weds night I had my Writing Humor class and then it was on to my next adventure: the Philadelphia Point in Time Count.

From 12am-3am, I would team up with a group of people, be assigned a zone and literally count the number of homeless individuals we encountered, survey them, and give them a gift card. Of course nothing is as it seems for I was not assigned to a team at first. I met the other "free agents" by chance and eventually joined a team by association. It ended up being the best damn team I could have asked for. Four individuals from Project H.O.M.E. and their co-founder Sr. Mary Scullion joined us. (She's kind of a big deal in the social work world). We were assigned to part of downtown Philly/historic district and parts of Chinatown. Overall we found about 6-7 people, put 3 in overnight shelter, fed 3 and had a good night. I would definitely do it again!

As I crashed that morning, I was ever thankful for my nice warm bed. I got Thursday off due to the PIT Count running so late. Instead of sleeping my day away, I got up and did a ton of errands that I needed to do. Every year I host a girls only Super Bowl party, so I went grocery shopping to pick up a few things. I had a great conversation with a Trader Joe's worker about "what exactly does it mean to be gluten free?" Since a friend of mine is a gluten free vegan. Then I was in the checkout line and the cashier asked me if I warmed up with some coffee. I told her I was not having coffee that day since I had 20 oz of straight espresso the night before. I told her a little about the PIT count and as I was paying for my groceries she gave me a free candy bar "on Trader Joe's" for my work with the homeless. That was pretty cool. I left feeling great!

I also did my laundry since my parents were here for laundry weekend. It was a struggle and I didn't get home until 7:30pm. By then I was so tired I made a grilled cheese sandwich and passed out early.

Which brings us to this morning. I attended the funeral of our former resident. It was beautiful but emotionally draining. I left the funeral 2.5 hours later feeling exhausted. My brain eventually shut down around 5:30pm and by 6 I was staring at my computer trying to figure out what on earth I was going to eat for dinner tonight. I decided to skip the gym and get takeout. It was a great decision.

So a lot happened in a very short amount of time. I've run a gauntlet of emotions. Oh! Also, Main Course's website is up and running. My classes are going to be really fun (though I have to be more patient with undergrads...they are just learning and everything), I've got a lot of exciting things coming up again including my Super Bowl party, a concert, an art class, and a gym membership appreciation party. Never a dull moment, that is for sure.

Until next time...

Friday, January 24, 2014

As the Dust Settles

You know in the movies when there is some high tension moment and the main character has just seconds to disarm a bomb, or jump onto a train, or rescue someone from a burning building? Life can be like that sometimes. In the middle of a an acute crisis (because let's face it...we never really get advanced warning when a crisis hits) many people panic. I know I do, I start freaking out, cursing out inanimate objects, and picturing the end of the world.

Then it stops. I breathe. The resolve to make it through sets in. I remember when I was hospitalized for my gallbladder surgery. My best friend came to visit me and said "you're very calm." I was. It was at the point where I was hospitalized and I couldn't do a damn thing about any of it. I typically freak out before and after the storm, but in the thick of it, I am focused. Sometimes that makes me wonder if I'd be a good EMT. But I'm bad at math and you need to inject a lot of fluids sometimes.

Regardless of these doomsday musings, I did have an acute crisis pop up last night. While sitting in my Intro to Web Design class, thinking about how epic my final semester was going to be, I realized one very important thing: I was the oldest student in my class. Not only that, but this class was filled with sophomores and juniors in undergrad. That could mean only one thing...

I would not get graduate credit for this course.

Now, in J School, we have the option to take undergraduate classes for graduate credit if they are 3000 level or above. This was a 2000 level class. If I remained in this class that was going to teach me everything I wanted to know about web design, I would not graduate this May. I would be just 2 credits shy of graduating. I'd be left behind.

The good thing is that I realized this early on during the add/drop period. The last thing I needed was to waste hundreds of dollars on a class that would literally hold me back. I was devastated, though. I wanted to take that class more than anything. Web design is such a marketable skill which I want to build upon. But I had to find a replacement course if I wanted to wear a red cap and gown in a few months.

After the initial freakout, I actually got stranded on campus for 45min because SEPTA stopped running and failed to send a shuttle bus. I ended up hailing a cab and riding back to my apartment, miffed and just plain old tired. This morning I started making lists, weighing my options for various courses, examining my work schedule and tried to decide just what skills I need to learn before I graduate.

It came down to three courses, then two, then after a lot of pep talk and decision making...just one. I went to register and BOOM, denied. I needed to fulfill a prerequisite. It is funny because that requirement was for undergrads to prove they knew how to write journalistically, a skill I have mastered over the past two and a half years. I e-mailed the the professor. I e-mailed our program director. I e-mailed and called and panicked and waited.

By 3:20pm my crisis was over. I officially registered for Writing Arts Criticism, an upper level undergraduate course I could get graduate credit for which would teach me the skills necessary to write reviews on restaurants, museums, concerts and art galleries. A different kind of marketable skill if you will. I could take a Web Design workshop after graduation. Besides, I can't write a review for crap so hopefully I will learn a lot.

Writing Arts Criticism and Humor Writing.....should still be a decent semester.

Until next time...

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Have A Dream...

...That I Will No Longer Be Sick.

It is Monday, MLK day, normal people are off from work and school day. I'm at work and I'm still sick. This is day 5. I went from sore throat, to runny nose, to stuffy clogged nose, to painful breathing/coughing, to slightly better breathing/coughing to stuffy nose again. I've taken Dayquil, Nyquil, Mucinex, Cold Ezzz, Antibiotics, my inhaler, Halls cough drops, Benadryll...just about every cold/flu/allergy/sinus/cough drug you can think off. Obviously not at the same time..but the only thing that seems to be helping ever so slightly is the antibiotics. I can breathe without pain now, a much needed improvement from Saturday.

It felt like a less dramatic version of those medical shows where the patient is about to die and the doctor can give the patient medicine x or medicine y. They give the patient medicine x and hope for the best and BOOM it miraculously cures them in the nick of time! I think I saw that on House once. Anyway, that is what happened with the antibiotics because I could not breathe. It HURT to just BREATHE.

This is a death cold. It has been a LONG time since I've been hit this hard and for this long. Sadly I was the girl with the red nose and the tissues shoved up my sleeves at my magazine staff meeting. In fact, I was using hand sanitizer every 5 minutes. Also I'm fairly certain that little trip to the Northeast made me worse. I shouldn't have been out in the elements.

Yesterday was better, I still went out (I'm crazy) to the Ben Franklin Museum because it was free this weekend to celebrate Ben's birthday. I bundled up and went out to see it. I was ok, coughing a bit and sniffing but this trip out didn't ruin me as much as Saturday's did. I also got my notebooks and stuff for school since that starts TOMORROW.

I'm uncertain about this crazy week. We're supposed to get a big snowstorm tomorrow, a polar vortex again on Weds (of course the night I'm supposed to count the homeless outside for 4 hours), school (maybe it will get cancelled tomorrow? I could use an extra not late day this week) and then off on Thursday which is great but will throw off my schedule (count ends at 3am so I get to sleep in on Thurs but not too much to mess up my sleep schedule). Then wedding weekend. I'm a little overwhelmed since I'm still sick and I have no idea when or how I'm going to get to the gym this week. Ugh.

I hate being down and out.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First Cold of the New Year

As I sit at my desk I wonder about the vague possibility of dying right here in my office today because I feel like crap. My throat feels like I'm swallowing barb wire, my nose feels like there is lead inside of it, and my head feels like it could explode like an over inflated balloon.

Much to my chagrin I forgot to take my coconut oil today and I'm planning on taking swings of Dayquill every 4 hours. I'm glad I didn't call out of work today because guess who else is feeling under the weather and is working through it? My boss.

I blame the erratic weather patterns, the runny nosed children and potentially my one tiny client who had a fever the other day. Nothing I can do but pump meds into my body and wait it out, hoping the duration of my duress is only a few days. Some important things are coming up that I just can't be sick for. (So pretentious, I know "I just CAN'T be SICK for xyz")

Main Course magazine launches today. I can be sick for that, actually. We're supposed to go live sometime today. Please check it out at I'm an art columnist for this magazine and I'm really excited about this new venture and where the publication could be headed. We have our first staff meeting this weekend and I'll finally get to meet some of my fellow writers/columnists and bounce ideas off my editor. I'm pretty stoked and I can't be that awkward girl in the glasses with a shiny red nose and tissues shoved up the sleeves of my sweater.

The final countdown begins! Next week I start my final semester of graduate school. Dun dun dun. I'll be taking Intro to Web Design and Humor Writing. Class will be 3 nights a week (eep) and then I have to schedule my comprehensive exams and BOOM come May I graduate with my Masters of Journalism. Almost there!

Next week I'm participating in an unusual endeavor. It is called a "Point in Time" count and basically volunteers gather late at night and survey the homeless in the city. We literally "count" the number of homeless in the streets. It runs until 3am but since each homeless agency in the city is required to have two volunteers participate in the PIT count, I get off the following day. Which is great because my parents arrive the day after the count for... cousin's wedding! Not this weekend but the following, my cousin Erin is getting married in New Jersey and my parents and are I going to attend. I'm really excited because I haven't been to a formal event with "the rents" in a long time. I've been to a few weddings recently and they have been fab. (Got another one to attend in May).

So a lot of stuff going on. That coupled with my new gym membership, a few life goals, and my writing projects. Busy as a bee and can not be sick!

Until next time....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

10 Things I Learned From a 7 Day Detox

As you may have previously read, I embarked the New Year (Jan 2-Jan 8th) on a 7 Day Detox/Cleanse. For 7 days I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables. I allowed myself 3 servings of fruits, unlimited amounts of veggies. I could drink water and decaffeinated tea. I was not allowed sugar except for what naturally occurs in fruits. I was not allowed oils, butters, dairy, alcohol, candy, not even a stick of gum. What I could have beyond the fruits and veggies was a serving of protein halfway through (salmon for me) and towards the end (fried egg white). I followed this regimen religiously and here are 10 things I learned:

1. Prior to the cleanse, I did not eat enough vegetables....not even close
Day 1 and 2, I ate green smoothies for breakfast. My smoothie consisted of juice from half a lemon, an apple, a cup of frozen strawberries, two cups of fresh spinach, and water. During the cleanse I played around with variations. I will say the chard, kale smoothie was gross and the smoothie with cabbage, spinach, cilantro, and celery leaves had a really pleasant aftertaste.

I digress. I love vegetables. Always have. But I rarely eat enough of them each day. The majority of your "plate" should consist of vegetables and you should eat a variety. During the detox, I ate spinach, celery, peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes (I consider it a vegetable), cucumbers, broccoli, squash, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, eggplant and corn. I got a really good variety and ate probably 125% the amount of veggies I should eat each day. 25% over 100? Not much and I ate A LOT of vegetables.

2. I, as well as many Americans, take food for granted
I have a new found respect for those who go without. While the detox encourages you to eat as many vegetables as you want until your full, it is impossible to be full. I was never satisfied, even after an entire plate of squash and onions and peppers. I'd eat an entire bag of frozen vegetables and still be craving something else. I got a very small sample of what it is like to go hungry. I say small, because I never lived in fear that I did not have enough food and I do not suffer the hardships that much of the poor and homeless suffer.

3. I'm a carb girl
I didn't know what a carbohydrate craving was until I went through with this cleanse. Holy mother of carb cravings. I wanted breads, pastas, crackers, bagels, just one taste of a pretzel....carby carb carbs. I guess the takeaway of the cleanse to the general public is : your body will tell you what it wants, and be mindful when you end the cleanse not to binge on that particular type of food. My body still wants carbs as the cleanse comes to an end.

4. 2 days. Sugar Cravings Gone. 
Sugar is probably Americans' worst enemy. You'd think it would be McDonalds but I'm telling you it is sugar. We get dependent on it! Everything has some form of sugar in it. Well, almost everything. We get addicted and then we crave it all the time. Well let me tell you, by day 2 of detox...sugar cravings were gone. That's how long it took. Today a co-worker dangled a chocolate candy under my nose and I didn't even flinch. Another co-worker gave me a donut (yeah work is making me fat haha) and I had no problem sharing half of it and wrapping up the rest to eat post detox. Sugar doesn't do it for me. I'm wondering how much I'll be able to tolerate once I start eating it in small doses again.

5. You can't detox me off coffee
I went 7 days without a sip of coffee and I nearly died. I had caffeine headaches at the beginning and looked longingly at Dunkin Donuts by the end...and I wasn't looking at those donuts. I think if it came between tequila or coffee...and I could only choose would be coffee. Who knew. I can't wait to sip on a celebratory ice coffee tomorrow from Dunkin with skim milk. (just the way I like it!)

6. Smoothies saved my life
I never considered making a green smoothie before, but right before I came back to Philly, I bought a $20 blender from Wal-Mart. I've used that thing nearly 8 times and I've only had it for 10 days. I've finally found a way to eat spinach in the quantity I should. I can make quick and portable/healthy meals using it. AND I am so excited for my peanut butter banana smoothie tomorrow morning! I think it will really come in handy on early workout days at the gym by work. Breakfast in a bottle. They're filling too!

7. More focused
These past few months I feel like I'm in a perpetual brain fog. I don't know if its because of the detox or my improved attitude about the New Year, but I feel more focused than I've ever been. Like, as I'm closing my office door to leave for the day I think to myself  "closing my office door. This is my office. I've been in this office for 4 years." It sounds stupid but I feel more aware of myself and the world around me. It is a really clear feeling and I love it. I think that processed junk clogged up my brain!

8. It takes work and mindpower
Detoxing takes work and mind power. You have to be constantly aware of what you're eating. "Did I have 3 servings of fruit yet?" "Oh! Cookies on the work table!" "Wait. No cookies." Also, you have to prepare the fresh vegetables in advance which involves chopping, bagging, freezing, slicing and storing. It cost me $31 for a weeks worth of produce from my farmer's market...(but I splurged and spent a whole $3 on a bag of grapes....) Today I almost absentmindedly took a sample of Trader Joe's black bean soup...I can' t have that today but I almost forgot about the cleanse. I think that may be why you're hungry all the time, you are constantly thinking about the detox.

9. I appreciate food more
Just in general, I appreciate food more. Especially the food I couldn't have for a week. I really love these cheddar penguin crackers from Wal-Mart and I miss them and I can't wait to be reunited with them in a healthy portion. But I'm paying closer attention to labels. I'm savoring food. Its going to be such a treat to dive into a bowl of Special K tomorrow afternoon and eat my delectable smoothie for breakfast. I'm going to enjoy all of it, be in a great mood, and appreciate every single savory bite.

10. Imagine Believe Achieve
I sat next to a coworker eating Arbys. I grabbed a piece of chocolate candy and saved it for tomorrow without a problem. I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables for 7 straight days. I did it. If you imagine you can do it, believe that you're capable you will achieve great results!

From here it's mindful eating and phase 2. Phase 2 consists of more green smoothies, Special K lunches and lean protein dinners. I'm going to be eating more protein to stay fuller longer. I'm sure my stomach has shrunk (as well as my appetite) from this week and my system welcomed the low taxing cleanse. 30 day gym membership starts this weekend and I'm also on a weight loss challenge at work. Keepin it healthy! So healthy that I've already planned what to eat during our work party this Friday! I know what is on the menu and what I can indulge in and what I need to avoid. Smart choices!

Also I'm learning a whole bunch of new and healthy recipes to try. In an effort to enjoy something warm and hearty, I learned how to make a stew from scratch! It was an eggplant and tomato stew and I used all kinds of herbs and a bay leaf! (Never cooked with a bay leaf before) The final product was delicious. I'm looking forward to getting creative with some healthy vegetarian dishes in the future. I'm not a vegetarian, but those recipes have the most vegetables ;-) I'm also going to be protein powder peanut butter fudge balls! It's going to be great and my body will appreciate the variety. I used to eat breakfast burritos on a bi-weekly basis. They were on whole wheat tortillas with eggs, skim milk and turkey bacon....but there is only so much burrito your system can take before it just wants a nice leafy green vegetable.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Holy Mother of Cold!

Holy Mother of COLD. I thought the news and the weather people were just giving us a warning to dress warmly...but then they got all IF YOU GO OUTSIDE AND YOU ARE NOT COVERED UP YOU OR YOUR EXPOSED LIMBS WILL DIE!!!!

They weren't kidding.

Last night when I took the trash out, I had to post a note for UPS and within one minute I couldn't feel my hand! This morning I looked just like Randy from "A Christmas Story." As I tried to pull my hair out of my infinity scarf I encountered so much difficulty that I almost let my hair sit half in/half out afro style.

The commute was ok until I hit the EL. The platform was over crowded, as was the train when it arrived. I managed to get a seat when a girl got off at the next stop but ended up sandwiched between a cop and my tired looking seatmate. Then came the five block walk to work. Head down, breathing the warm air in my scarf, I pressed on...trying to keep my hood up enough for warmth but down enough so I could see. All the while I did this without my glasses because my infinity scarf around my mouth causes my glasses to fog up. It was treacherous but I made it.

Last Friday I was one of two people from my building who made it in despite the 7" of snow. Yesterday I battled fierce wind and rain to get into work only to find out our heat had been cut off due to an HVAC pipe bursting. I was freezing within 15 minutes. Fortunately the heat returned but it was pretty chilly all day.

The detox is going well. I will be so glad when I can finally have carbs again. I think I'm going to appreciate them more so I won't go all bingefest but I do miss my cheddar penguin crackers AND I miss my coffee. I don't think coffee is doing me any harm. I don't drink the double whipped chocolate chunk, vanilla cream, triple layered frappe crap. I do have to watch out with my Dunkin Donut syrups though. There is a lot of sugar in those. Looks like plain coffee is on my horizon but believe me, I can't wait to enjoy it again.

I think the one thing I've learned throughout this week of fruits and veggies, is that I really need to eat vegetables more often. Like, spinach 3-4 times a week! I enjoy vegetables but when school starts and work gets crazy I like very easy grab and eat snacks. I'm too lazy to cut up some celery. So I need to make sure I don't sink down into those sloth-like ways when the detox is over. More veggies, more green smoothies, a few fresh fruits here and there and limited carbs/fats/meats.

I joined a workout team challenge at work. Basically I have a month or so to lose 3% of my body fat and I am eligible to win prizes. So hopefully that is excess motivation to lose weight and win big. I could use that $50 gift card, not gonna lie.

So I'd say so far 2014 has been pretty good. It started off with epic Mummery and finding $20 on my way home New Years Day. I've been eating a very strict and healthy detox diet, working hard, writing, and finding time for yoga and relaxation. Also, I made my first eggplant and tomato stew from scratch. So far so good.

Until next time...

What if I'm not a Writer?

I've mentioned this before. My first book I ever wrote was a few chapters long. Each page was a new chapter. I was in second or third ...