Tuesday, June 29, 2010

e's Favorite Things: Wrist Sweatbands

After I left Corporate America in mid-2007 and started working on my book proposal, I quickly came to the realization that my wrists were not going to be able to handle my new life as a writer. I was developing nasty purple callouses (for lack of a better term... not really sure what they were) on the inner bases of both palms -- right where my wrists rested on my table when I typed. Something had to be done.

Before you assume that I have some awful set-up that was causing my wrists to become unnecessarily bruised, rest assured that I have a completely ergonomic thing going on and did a ton of research and spent a lot of money to get things just right. One day soon I will do a post on that, because if you want to devote any time whatsoever to writing, you absolutely need to invest in the proper tools to keep your body from revolting after spending hours and hours in front of a laptop.

But for now I just want to talk about the thing that saved my wrists: wrist sweatbands. I suspected that they would do the trick and as a lark I put them on the list of things I'd like for Christmas '07. Yes, I'm in my thirties and still make a list -- but it's done because I'm lucky enough that both my parents and in-laws want to buy me and my husband stuff around the holidays each year, and they'd rather get us things we actually need/want than risk purchasing a gift destined to bear the "Well, it's the thought that counts" label. My mother-in-law took me up on this odd request and got me two or three different pairs. And they have made all the difference. I am never, ever without them when I write. I pack them when I go on trips, too. Sometimes I forget to take them off when I walk my dog in the afternoon and then I look like I'm some hipster trying to start a new trend.

Why it's especially embarrassing when I forget to take them off is because -- as you may or may not be able to see in the picture above -- I wear them inside-out. I learned this the hard way after having stitch-marks embedded in my wrists after a long day. If I wear them inside-out then I still have the pattern of the material running around my arms (it's a thick, plush cotton -- you know what it is... it's just hard to describe), but that will fade more quickly than the horizontal line.

So that's why wrist sweatbands win the honor of being the first of my "Favorite Things" that I've written about in a long time. I don't know what I'd do without them, truly. Perhaps I'd have to bandage up my hands every day as I sip my morning tea?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Let the Weight Gain Begin!

As those of you who read my most recent Lost post know, I shed ten pounds over the last few months while I was finishing up my manuscript. It actually was as much as thirteen pounds at one point, but my eating escapades detailed below have helped me regain some footing.

At first I thought it was just the stress of the writing process that was causing the number on the scale to continue to drop. Then I realized that the situation was more likely caused by my switch to a mostly dairy-free, gluten-free, low-sugar, low-carb, high-protein diet. Those of you who actually know me realize that this undertaking basically meant that I was changing everything I eat. As my husband pointed out, I probably shouldn't have attempted such a drastic overhaul while I was also under the gun to meet my deadline. Because I was already grumpy enough as it was. Then I took away bread and pasta and cheese and ice cream, the four staples of my diet for the past several decades. Dumb move!

Anyway, for about two weeks I was really strict on this new plan (which I did for a combination of reasons I won't get into, but it was advised by a doctor and was NOT done in an attempt to lose weight because I was already right where I should've been... I have never, and will never, go on a "diet"). Those first two weeks were when most of the weight came off and I was a tad alarmed. Then I started hating on almost all of the stuff I'd switched to. Teff quesadillas? Rice cheese? Gluten-free pasta? Soy ice cream? Sorry, but those things are NOT substitutes for the real deal, and I got sick of all of that crap fairly quickly.

Now I've found a nice balance -- I'm still pretty much dairy-free (though I did get a huge waffle cone of ice cream yesterday), but simply cannot stay away from most bread products. At least I always try to choose high-quality 100% whole wheat options.

Since I don't care if I get back to my normal weight, I've been going a bit crazy lately with random treats. On June 11th, the toughest part of my manuscript was behind me and I only had a few smaller sections (About the Author, References, etc.) still hanging over my head (those were due on the 15th), so on the way back from running errands I stopped into Molly's Cupcakes. I quickly spied what I wanted: the Mixed Berry cupcake. And so I got it, as you can see to the left. Unfortunately, the cake part turned out to be a blueberry muffin, but the cream on top was still awesome.

Just a few blocks down the very same street is The Weiner's Circle, a notorious hot dog stand in the heart of the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Now, I don't usually seek out meat -- much less any kind of hot dog -- but on that day I just had to have one. So yes, I ate dessert first and then got my actual meal about 15 minutes later. Which was a Char Polish, and it was excellent.

I found myself craving another one this past Friday, but my husband and I were out in the suburbs, so we went to Hot Doug's instead. Since this "gourmet" hot dog joint was featured on Anthony Bourdain's "13 Places to Eat Before You Die" a while back, there's now always a huge line. My husband waited for 40 minutes in 90-degree weather to get me my polish dog (I was in the air-conditioned car, hee hee); he got a chicken rosemary dog, as well as the famous foie gras dog. Yuck!

We also went out to Red Lobster not too long ago, which was a real treat because -- believe it or not -- there's not one in the city. I used to go there all the time when I lived in Michigan, so I was missing it something fierce. We didn't have a car up until this February, and now we just got a GPS system, so all we had to do was type in "Red Lobster" and then off we went! I truly, truly love their cheesy bread rolls (does anyone NOT love those things?) so of course I ate three of those, got the shrimp-three-ways combo and then we also got some really great mixed drinks -- mine was some sort of mango-berry thing (in the forefront). I was surprised at how tasty it was.

This coming weekend I will continue my quest to regain some poundage as my friend Nerdy P is once again making the trek to Chitown, and we will be continuing our almost-annual tradition of going to the Taste of Chicago. I've written about our past exploits at this ridiculous food fest a few times before (my post about my '09 experience has links to my '06 and '07 trips). Now we are bringing her young son along for the ride for the first time, and her parents, so it's gonna be fun. It's quite a crazy event to witness -- especially if you've never been surrounded by millions of people all crammed into a very small area while trying to eat as much as they can before they pass out from heat exhaustion. I can't wait!

- e

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Psst... I'm Back.

So, uh... yeeeaah.

It's been eight and a half months since I last updated poor, neglected 'According to e' -- consider me thoroughly ashamed. As many of you know, I've been working on a book during the majority of that time, and I finally turned in my manuscript a few weeks ago (the state of my desk -- aka "my kitchen table" -- on my deadline date is to the right. That was two weeks ago -- still doesn't look much different). The whole editing and marketing process remains ahead for me to tackle alongside my publisher (Wiley) in the months to come, but I do now feel like I'm slowly but surely starting to see glimmers of my old life returning.

Though I have a multi-thousand-word Lost finale post hanging over my head that I WILL eventually write, I'm more determined than ever to get back into the groove of posting here at least a few times a week. This site was always meant to be somewhat of a personal diary (isn't that what all blogs originally were supposed to be back in the day -- that day being some time in like 2005?), and since I know it's bound to be a wild ride for me between now and when my book is published in October, I really want to use 'According to e' to capture as much of that experience as possible. What's more, I have several readers who are aspiring authors and have asked about the process I went through in order to get a book deal, so my intention is to also travel back in time over the course of a few posts and explain the various steps I took to make it happen.

And then there's the fun stuff I'm itching to cover -- like the books I've somehow managed to read in the recent past, trips I've taken (including finally loading in more pictures from my '07 Antarctica, '08 Galapagos and '09 Turks & Caicos trips... Lord, has it really been THAT long?) and some of the silly things that have happened to me (or that I've done) since last October that I haven't had time to write about until now.

In order to not get too overwhelmed and give up on this endeavor before I really get going, I'm vowing to keep posts fairly short -- at least for the next few weeks or so -- so that I can just simply get back into the groove of writing something that doesn't have to do with where I used to work (the subject of my book), or movies (what I still write about twice a day every weekday for redbox's redblog), or Lost.

So I hope you'll stick with me! More very soon -- I promise. As in, before July 2010... just so we're clear.

- e