I know the ideal is to be perpetually positive but let me be honest about something: Part of me dreads the new year. I have crawling fear/anxiety about how the political situation is going to play out for one thing. (Please don’t make me get out of bed.) Plus the prospect of taxes is hovering. This year I’ll be using the self-employed form which means sorting through mountains of business receipts that I’ve been stuffing in folders all year. There isn’t a Demogorgon in my home but there are Tax Folders. My move to Washington at the end of April looms large — it will be a mammoth project. It’s amazing to me to see how energized some people get when physical labor is involved. They just perk right up and whizz around getting dozens of things done. Me? Not so much. Just cleaning my windows once a year requires major internal prodding and hectoring plus a big food reward when it’s all over. This move will involve so much more: pulling crap out; moving, shifting, transporting; and of course lots of cleaning. Maybe I can begin dreading it at the end of February instead of today. (Although as my Dad used to say, There’s no time like the present for regretting the past and fearing the future!)
In the new year I must also get serious about about the physical therapy exercises I was given for my knees last July. With health insurance, that single PT session cost me $300 which, you would think, would be incentive to do the exercises. You would be wrong. The instructions sit on a bedroom book shelf and haven’t been touched in months. At a certain point I have to actually meet my deadline for doing the exercises twice daily every day or admit that the $300 was a waste of money. January 1 is the perfect deadline: A new year, new resolve and a new regime. Or maybe when I get back from visiting my sister.
I must also get more cardiovascular exercise and radically change my relationship to food. Yes: lose weight. For me it’s about health versus disease, not just vanity, because I have a bad cholesterol problem.
I realize that I’m very fortunate and privileged that a surfeit of food is my problem and not a lack. Even with the variety of food all around us, some people regard it as simply silage — fuel to produce energy — and hardly give it a thought. How do I join that team? Unfortunately I’m one of those folks who thinks about food All The Time. The many books I’ve read about how to end emotional eating have availed me nothing (Sorry, Geneen Roth.) Of course food is supposed to be, first and foremost, about nutrition. Whatever. I’m breaking out the neufchâtel, mushroom and caramelized onion dip with home made crostini for consolation, distraction, comfort, reward and enhancement.
Budget-wise, I will gladly eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few days in order to indulge in the restaurant heaven that is my neighborhood. For example, the goat cheese and leek croissants at Ken’s Artisan Bakery that are $4.25 each and the best croissants I’ve ever had, including the ones I enjoyed during a week in Paris. There are the baked green leaf mussels at Mio Sushi with green onion, masago, cream sauce and sweet sauce — a profound culinary experience unlike any other and something my father would have adored, which is the thought that crosses my mind every time I order them. As well as the question of whether to order more. Then there’s the hot and sour soup at Kung Pow! which so hits the spot on a nasty, cold, wet day. Chicken broth, seaweed, bamboo shoots and tofu — a very healthy choice. Or at least it would be if I didn’t always accompany it with two buttered sour dough rolls. These examples, all just a few minutes walk from my apartment, are the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention the fact that a huge Fred Meyer grocery store with all its temptations is just across the street.
Part of my problem is that there’s no family member to dissuade me from, or forbid me, certain choices like my mother did for my father for decades. He had significant heart and cholesterol issues which ultimately killed him despite the fact that he took excellent care of himself. And then there’s the matter of portions. When I buy something, I don’t have to share it with anyone!! Er, I mean, sadly I’m all alone and there’s no one with whom to share my meal. I bought a large meat pie last week from a gourmet pie shop. I decided it was a bit dry and turned it into the beef stroganoff version meaning I made a sauce with mushrooms, onions, Worcestershire sauce and lots of sour cream. It was divine but I won’t be doing that again.
If I have to deprive myself of foods I love beginning in January, perhaps I should fasten my mind on things in the new year that I’m excited about. Like finishing and publishing my novel. (YES!!) Spending more time with my mother and doing fun things together. Working toward a friendship between Trudy the cat and Dexter the dog and watching that process with great interest. Visiting Mom and Dex in February. And visiting my sister and brother-in-law next week to help with a new family member. I’ll be writing about this visit for my next blog post which will be published on Thursday, 1/12 (instead of next Wednesday which would be my usual schedule.)
When my father was still alive, every now and then, he would quote from John Cougar Mellencamp’s song “Jack and Diane”:
Oh yeah, life goes on / Long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.
The second half of 2016 was one of the best times of my life. Right now, 2017 doesn’t look quite so thrilling but I guess I need to have faith that there’s more to life than salt and fat. At least, that’s what they tell me.