Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sugar and Spice and Everything Evil

In the last 15 hours, I looked temptation directly in the eyes and walked away. TWICE.

Short version 

I'm on a diet. I have PMS. Late last night I craved something sweet, but it had to be healthy. There was a piece of cake. There is STILL a piece of cake, but now there is one less container of yogurt in the fridge. Can I have a *cookie?

*No I cannot have a cookie.

The ridiculously dramatic unabridged version 

I want to lose a few pounds, so I am eating super healthy. But I have PMS, which ups the challenge. (Ladies, you know what I mean: "I must have chocolate, or I'll go murderous!!!"). I am also on day 3 of a modified version of the 4-day Quick-Start Sassy Water diet. One frustrating side effect of lemon water (and Sassy has a lot of lemons) is the fact that your stomach is literally growling minutes after eating. True story. I googled it.

Unlike cravings, many people feel physical hunger when they decide to embark on a lemon cleanse. People experiencing hunger should drink another glass of the lemon beverage to decrease feelings of hunger.

Last night I was craving AND hungry for something sweet. I was nervous. I had a couple things working against me: PMS and a growling stomach. Could I handle this? I had to. I had no choice.

Downstairs in the kitchen, I opened the freezer to see if there was anything in there that was healthy but would also cure my sweet tooth. I was not prepared for what I found. Inches from my face, sitting on top of a box of Special K Flatbread breakfast sandwiches - which I have been eating for breakfast - was a huge piece of cake. No attempt had been made to conceal it. Not even Saran Wrap.

My knee-jerk reaction was "OMG, CAKE!!!!!" and a happy dance. I stopped dancing. I would have to log this in the My Fitness Pal app, and I only have 400 calories to fill to reach my quota. I was already in the red for sugar by 3g (from a V8?! Wow, I coulda had a chocolate!). And this was a BIG piece of cake. Sure, I could cut it in half, but *HAHAHAHAHA!


This piece of cake was beautiful. Innocent-looking with its playful sprinkles, and sweetly seductive; this was no box cake, this was BAKERY CAKE. And it was already wearing me down with its boldness. I took it out of the freezer and looked at it. It had vanilla and chocolate cake layers. It had been professionally frosted. I felt my willpower slipping away, and... I touched it. Just a little, not enough to even make an imprint on the frosting.

Then I smelled it. I lost it. I was now trying to rationalize going for it. I thought, "It's just going to be a one night thing. The app doesn't have to know. Besides, I feel so unfulfilled. I'm constantly hungry!". And to make things worse, every night the app would berate me for not taking in enough calories. Well, this certainly would take care of that, wouldn't it? So, if I look at it that way, I was pushed into doing this!

Still, I knew afterwards I'd feel nothing but guilt and shame. How could I live with myself? How would I face the app? I couldn't keep this from it, and I'm a terrible liar! If I confessed all the sordid details into the app's "Add Snack" field, it would most certainly kill it. Not only would I be guilty of cheating, I'd be guilty of killing an innocent app that was only trying to help. I would be a horrible person.

Once I realized this was not something I could do, that there was just too much at stake for 5 minutes of pleasure (not to mention the possibility I could get heartburn), I put the cake back in the freezer and closed the door.

I looked around for something else. Something told me I wasn't safe, yet, not even close. There was something sinister lurking. I suddenly found myself dangerously close to crossing over to the Dark Side. We had cookies. BAKERY COOKIES.

Now I was just plain pissed off. I opened up the fridge, pulled out a container of yogurt, and mixed in some Kashi cereal. I had won the battle.

This morning, I had to go back to war. I had to summon all my strength before heading downstairs, because, dammit, my stomach was growling again.

In order to get to the breakfast sandwiches, I'd have to confront the cake, again. To get through, I'd have to move quickly. Pick up the cake, grab the sandwich, throw the cake back, and get the hell out. Then I had to get past the cookies to cook it.

My God, this was Scylla and Charybdis!!!!!!

I took a deep breath and went in. Surprisingly, I got the sandwich out without a problem on the first try. But as I walked to the microwave, I could hear the Sirens' call. I ignored them as best as I could. "I am not going to be lured in, sugar.".

Ninety agonizing seconds later, the microwave finally beeped, I pulled out the sandwich, and teleported upstairs; I couldn't eat that close to enemy territory.

Another battle won, but I can't be smug. The war has just begun.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Twelve Years

Twelve years ago today, I received a call from my then-husband from work, telling me to turn on the TV. I was in our bedroom. "Which channel?", I asked.

"ANY channel!".

An airliner had just crashed into the North Tower of the WTC. I was standing in our bedroom in front of the TV, unable to move, watching the aftermath, the reporters, the "breaking news" alerts scrolling across the screen, trying to wrap my mind around what had just happened. Just minutes later, a second plane flew into the South Tower.

I picked up the phone and called my friend Dana, who lived a few houses down. Her TV was off, and her day was still "normal". We spent the next few hours in her living room glued to her TV, terrified, as news broke of a third plane hitting the Pentagon, and then a fourth in Pennsylvania. It was now being declared a "terrorist attack". Rumors were running wild as possible targets were named for more attacks, Atlanta among them. 

Dana and I drove out to the elementary school and pulled our kids out early. We did not know what to tell them when they asked why. They were so young. James was only 6 years old. 

Twelve years ago, to this minute as I write, our country was under attack, and it was all playing out on television: we saw the second plane flying into the building, people jumping out of windows. The South Tower collapsing. The North Tower collapsing. Businessmen in suits and women in heels screaming and running from a huge cloud of smoke and ash that was quickly spreading over the streets. And we felt helpless.

In the days and weeks that followed we began to hear the stories. They were tragic. Heroic. Unfathomable. It was a strange time. Our country was literally being torn apart, but its people were tightly emotionally bonded. We were scared, we were sad, and we were angry,  but through it all we stood together. This was our home. Patriotism was everywhere. We hung our flags. We displayed stickers of the American flag on our car windows. We wore T-shirts with a picture of determination and courage: three firemen raising a flag against a backdrop of devastation. The Phoenix rising from the flame. Political differences were cast aside because we focused on what we shared: respect. And we all vowed to "never forget".

On the first anniversary of the attacks, Dana and I were in Kohl's doing some shopping. We checked our watches so we knew when to have the moment of silence. A voice came over the PA system announcing it was time. Everybody in the store stopped what they were doing. Nobody said a word. Nobody moved. It was still fresh in our minds; we still remembered. 

Twelve years later, most of us have forgotten. We "remember" for one day out of the year, if we remember to check the date. During moments of silence,  we watch the time on our cellphones so we know when we can get back to our day. That is, if we observe it at all.

The families of the victims, those directly impacted by the tragedy, do not have this luxury. They do not have to check the calendar. They are not arguing conspiracy theories on Facebook today. But most of the rest of us have forgotten their names. We remember"That guy who said 'Let's roll'.". "Those people who stormed the cockpit.". We have forgotten what we meant when we promised to "Never forget".

I am not able to throw stones. I am guilty of this complacency. I had to google a timeline of events just to write this post, and I'm ashamed. So today I am reading stories of the names I'd forgotten. It was Todd Beamer.

I am alone in my room, but I am mindful of the time so I can stop typing during the moments of silence. I am forcing myself to recall all the details of that day, all the emotions I felt. It turns out I remember it very well, and it's hard to face it, again. At the same time, it's strangely cathartic. 

I found this video this morning; it's of a phone call I'd never heard before. A voice from within one of the towers to a 911 operator. There aren't any graphic images, but the end of the video has me shaken like nothing has since 2001.

But I needed to be shaken.