Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Nesting: The Quarantine Edition

YAY! I have a kitchen! Excuse the grainy photo.
Hello from good ol' New York City. Yes, we're ok. We've been sheltered in place since we moved in on March 17th. Besides a few runs back to the old apartment to finish moving our stuff out and cleaning up, we haven't been out ... not even to take walks. We most certainly haven't had contact with others. No takeout. No grocery store runs. Nothing.

We've been busy unpacking, working from home, and trying not to drive each other up a wall. I mean, come on! Ed and I adore each other, but we can be colossal pains in the ass when we're stressed and anxious. Have I told you how stressed out we are? Yeah, the move was stressful enough without having to move my entire class online in a week. Hell, it was so stressful for all of the faculty that CUNY decided to give us another break to "recalibrate" and reboot. It's not a normal semester, that's for sure. 

As for anxiety, good grief. Living in NYC and waking up to the news about more deaths, overflowing hospitals and unprotected healthcare workers (and ALL essential workers), and the city that I adore being ground to a halt, has absolutely killed me. I know to a lot of you these are just numbers and statistics coming out of an overcrowded "Big City." It's happening "somewhere else" and not in your hometown. But for me ... well, these are my neighbors. These are my fellow New Yorkers. These are my people and this IS my hometown. Think about it ... Ed and I watched those towers fall that fateful morning on 9/11, changing the city forever ... we hunkered down as Sandy ripped through Staten Island, destroying whole neighborhoods and killing our neighbors ... and now this. It's just too much to bear. The least I can do is hunker down so I don't get in their way or worse, get sick.

I need to keep distracted and busy. Bijou is most certainly helping with that. Our cutie little Noodle Kitten is very quickly growing into a full-fledged cat. She's been having a BALL climbing all over the stacked boxes!

And she's been one snuggly kitty -- something both of us need these days. There's nothing better than having a warm fluff ball purring away on your lap, that's for sure. Bijou has adjusted to both, the move and being in her forever home, like a champ.

She's definitely a Momma's girl and will sleep on the bed while I am at my desk working. Yes, my home office is now sharing space with our bedroom and ritual room. I gave Ed the office because I thought he'd be working from home all the time while I was at school or at the museum. Sheeze, was I wrong! I had no idea that I would be working from home as well. Ah well.

HURRAY for Girl Scouts! A big thanks to my friend's daughter, Molly! 

Food wise, we're doing ok. We've been getting some stuff from WholeFoods, Target Home Delivery, and Amazon Pantry. WholeFoods has been a pain in the ass to schedule delivery and the fresh produce has been a huge disappointment. So much so, that I complained today and got a refund for a bag of green potatoes, a rotten cucumber, and two wilted and crappy lettuces. Pffttt ... it's just not worth buying produce these days, at least not from WholeFoods. Our local Mom and Pop Italian market delivers, so we're going to support them. We did try getting milk delivered by a milkman, but he overcharged us for a box of frozen pizza. Yup, the milk was $4.00 -- the usual price -- but the box of pizza was $67.00. You read that right and yes, it's madness. We won't be using THAT crook anymore, that's for sure.

Hello Fresh to the Rescue
Knowing that we would be sick of eating out, I restarted our Hello Fresh account before the move. I thought it would be nice to have homemade meals while we were busy unpacking. I had no idea that these meals would become the backbone of our everyday meal planning during a pandemic!

My Hello Fresh Prep Mess
Teriyaki Pork Luau Bowl. Verdict: YUMMY!
Knowing that I'm getting four meals a week has made managing my anxiety a whole lot easier, especially since Fresh Direct, WholeFoods, and Amazon Fresh have all been impossible to get a delivery time.

Ed fancies himself a "Gaston"

And my picky eater, Ed, likes them, which is always a good thing.  

Haven't been wearing any makeup and my hair hasn't been dyed since February.

Now all I need to do is calm down so I can focus on teaching and work. I've been AWFUL about getting anything done. I've been having terrible anxiety dreams and feel exhausted much of my day. I just don't have the the mental and emotional capacity for much of anything, never mind very mental work. This is our new normal ... at least for a few months or the rest of the year ... and it's best that I start accepting it. I know that unpacking will do me a world of good. Having my stuff around will at least "feel" normal. 

Stay safe and healthy, my friends. Until next time -- ONWARDS AND UPWARDS!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

It's a Pandemic! So Let's Blog

There's nothing quite like a pandemic to knock you out of your self-indulgent comfort, to destroy all of your future plans (ah, museum closures = layoffs and no jobs), and to force you to restart a blog simply because you need somewhere to dump your brain before it explodes in your head.

Hi! I'm here ... I'm back ... I'm blogging again for my own sanity. You're welcome to join the ride. The class I'm teaching at City Tech moved online and I'm working from home for the New-York Historical Society. I will have plenty of free time because I'm not commuting. Sure, I'll be spending most of it grading, researching, writing, making art, and working out; but, there will be more time as we hunker down to ride out the pandemic that is ravaging our communities. No one is going out ... YOU SHOULDN'T BE GOING OUT! Events are being cancelled. And we're all stuck at home with no social contact. That means we need to connect with each other online, and goddamn it, that means I'm going to blog.

What a I going to write about? Everything: my move, my plans for the future, how I'm spending my time, etc. Perhaps I'll resurrect "Cooking with the Professor," or begin the series that I've wanted to do, "Tales from the Big Gold House." I'll figure it out as I go along. I always do.

Oh wait, you didn't know I moved? Yup. We planned a nice, easy move. We took the new apartment March 1 and planned to spend the month slowly moving. HA! Then the coronavirus hit NYC and BOY HOWDY! it's been a whirlwind of moving insanity. We originally scheduled our movers for March 27, then we moved them up to March 20 ... and then Mayor DeBlasio announced that he wants to have New Yorkers "shelter in place" (quarantine). Panic. We moved on Tuesday, March 17 and we've been rushing to be in our new place before the end of this week. We are 99.9% done with the move. Tonight we will be completely moved over and then we being our self-quarantine period of weeks or months. sigh ...

Anywho, yes, I'm back. Now, go wash your hands.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Tons of Awesomeness

Hello lovely readers! Hello! Can you believe that it's only been two weeks and a few days since the beginning of the New Year? In these parts, it feels like two months have passed because there are so many fabulous things happening right now. You better go get yourself a cuppa and settle into a comfy chair. I have a lot to tell you.

You already know about the beautiful, tiny Bijou, our new kitty. She's settling in nicely and isn't hiding anymore. She's eating like a champ, playing with her toys and with us, and using her litter pan. We took her to the Vet yesterday and she's healthy and happy, albeit underweight. She was definitely in competition for food at the rescue. The Vet said that we need to make sure she gains some weight and that she gets her exercise. Even though the rescue had her tested for FIV/FELV and her results were negative, we had our Vet do a Snap test just in case. We're waiting for the results of that and her stool sample, which should be before the end of today. 

 So what's all this fuss about good news? As you might already know, I have a part-time, grant-funded position as a curatorial research assistant at the New-York Historical Society. I'm working on the upcoming Winold Reiss exhibition and having a complete ball! This position is over in November, but who knows if there's any other research or curatorial work at the N-YHS!

The real news is that I applied for an adjunct teaching gig at City Tech for this Spring. I had my first interview two weeks ago and then the final interview last Monday. I was offered the job -- teaching one class, The History of Graphic Design -- with the possibility of teaching three classes in the Fall!!! At least one of those classes will be The Art of the United States! WAHOO! I'm back in the classroom and I'm over the moon! How cool is it that I'm working in a museum in the curatorial department doing what I adore -- research -- AND I'm teaching, something else I adore. I'm currently working on my syllabus, assessments, rubrics, and classes. It feels so good to be back. I feels so ... right.

The other bit of awesome news is that I was able to get a research residency at the New York Public Library. Yup, I was able to get my space in the Wertheim Research Room again. This is the very same room I occupied as I wrote my dissertation and as I desperately tried to write my papers and book. I have my space and shelf, and that means I can re-start my research and writing projects. I'm excited, that's for sure. I have a very distinct feeling that this year is my second and final chance at teaching and publishing. I better make it happen.

And how is Bat Fit going? SQUEE! I lost 7 pounds since January 1 just by not drinking alcohol and eating smaller portions of good, homemade food. I haven't been back to the gym yet because Ed's work schedule has been crazy and I've been all over the place trying to make other things happen ... which are all happening! Ed's traveling for work this week and that means I'm on my own. There's no better time to jump start my exercise program! While it may not be engrained in my daily routine by the time he gets home on Thursday, it will be well on its way! It's much easier to get Ed onboard when I'm already excited about going to the gym.

As for "Dry January," I haven't touched a drop of alcohol since ringing in the New Year. I have to say, it has been a lot harder than I thought it would be! I had some terrible sugar cravings the first two weeks and restless sleep the first weekend. I am learning just how often I reach for a glass of wine or a beer when I'm stressed or upset, and it's disturbing. I'm also learning how much alcohol is part of academia and socializing in general. Dinner party? Wine. Summertime BBQs and pool? Cocktails. Cold winter nights with friends? Hot spiked cider. Gathering together with colleagues at a conference? The hotel bar. Graduate student socials? Wine. It's ridiculous. I'm not sure where this "dry" thing is going to lead me, but it has certainly helped me be more aware of my own drinking habits. It has also shown me just how much we, as a society, depend on drinking to socialize, relax, and "have fun."

Until next Sunday! Have a good week.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Ringing in the 20s and a Pretty, Little Bijou

Me and My Fella
We're almost two weeks into 2020 and BOY! do I have tons to tell you. A lot of it is pending and I'm not 100% certain that things will actually happen. I do believe that the odds are in my favor. You, dear readers, will just have to wait until next Sunday for my weekly blog. Yup, in order to keep content fresh and ongoing, I've decided that Sundays are the best days for blogging. My mornings are quiet and I have the headspace to reflect -- a perfect combination for blogging. Besides, I better get on some kind of schedule with all the cool stuff coming down the pipe.

Off to a New Year's Eve Party.
We spent New Year's Eve celebrating with our close friends, bunkered down in their basement since their pups freak out with the fireworks. My pal, Cat, always makes a delectable spread and there's always lots of giggles and geeking out. Last year we were invited to come in our pajamas. This year, however, we fully embraced the 20s!

My Fella Looking Dashing.
No Great Gatsby themed party for us! Instead, we focused on retro-inspired glad rags and 1920s recipes. Cat did extensive research on what types of foods were popular at the time. She laid out an impressive spread and made a most delicious champagne punch. I was in charge of prohibition era, non-alcoholic drinks. I made a Klondike Fizz and a ginger ale punch. Of course, I took the costuming in Ms. Fisher's Murder Mysteries as the inspiration for my outfit. Ed chose a smart suit and vest, Cat embodied Agatha Christie's signature look, Chris went for a Red Ragger, and Marcy was a quintessential flapper. Poor Mark was sick and had to stay home. I'd post everyone picture, but they would MURDER me, so I won't.

Happy 2020, My Friends!
We had a wonderful time hanging with our extended family. As always, it was a marvelously calm and pleasant way to welcome in a New Year.

Meet Bijou!
Finally, I am very please to announce a brand new member of our family, Bijou! She's a 8 month old rescue who we saw at Petco yesterday. The rescue person did all the checks and house inspection, and dropped her off today! She's really freaked out and is hiding under my couch and cabinets, but I did get some lap time with her and she let me show her the litter pan and her bed. Here's hoping the potty is no problem and she comes out to explore. It's so nice to have a baby in the house again! Ed and I desperately needed it!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Bat Fit 2020 January Challenges

Happy New Year, my dear readers! 
I hope that your New Year's Eve was filled with wonder, beauty, and much happiness.
Here's to a Happy, Healthy, and Fabulous New Year and New Decade!!!

As promised, I present to you the first of twelve Bat Fit 2020 Challenges. This is a two part challenge that is aimed at keeping us on track this year and also striving towards a happier and healthier mental and emotional health.

Before we embark on this journey together, I feel that it's necessary to post a disclaimer. I have a PhD in Art History; I do not have an advanced degree in nutrition, health, mental health, or medicine. Bat Fit does not replace a visit to your doctor, nutritionist, mental health specialist, or the like. I have NO idea what your health is, what your triggers are, and what is best for you. You really should consult with your healthcare professionals before starting any kind of health or fitness program. Bat Fit 2012-2020 is merely a support system of like-minded folks who happily cheer for each other and who want to approach health and fitness in fun and sustainable ways. We do not endorse any one method of becoming the best person we can possibly be. It's up to you and your health care team to develop those methods based on your needs.

Ok, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's have some fun! This month's challenge is to start and keep a Bat Fit Health Journal and a "Good Things 2020" jar. Long time Bat Fitters will recognize these challenges because they're oldies, but goodies.

My Bat Fit 2020 Health Journal

Bat Fit Health Journal

When I first started Bat Fit in 2012, one of the first things I did was buy a new notebook to keep track of what I ate in a day, the types of exercise I did, my emotional and mental health, any pain I was having, etc. I wanted something that I could show my primary care physician and GYN when I went for my yearly check-up. I have Hashimoto's Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that affects your thyroid. Its symptoms and treatment are very similar to those of hypothyroidism. At the time I was also having horrid periods and PMDD. I would often forget to discuss related symptoms, pains, etc. with my doctors because the appointments were filled with procedures and discussions. A Health Journal helped me become an active participant in my own healthcare, and my doctors were grateful for solid information instead of a faulty memory.

Write your goals and commit to them!
I've kept some version of a Health Care Journal since. This year, I chose a cute hard-covered notebook that I bought at Target during their back-to-school sale in August. I printed out the Bat Fit 2020 logo and pasted it to the first page. Of course I had to decorate it some more. The first entry in my journal contains my goals for 2020. These are the same goals from yesterday's post -- I added some more personal goals that I don't want to share publicly.

What I ate and will eat today, January 1, 2020.
Every day I will write a similar entry to the one above. These entries track all of the food I've eaten throughout the day. Notice that I'm focusing on the amount and not the calories. Tracking calories makes me nutty. My goal is to fall somewhere between 1500-1800 calories a day. In order to do that I make sure I have a basic understanding of what a portion looks like and how many calories are in that portion. Some days I may eat more, some day less. The goal is not to starve myself, but to eat small portions of good, real food. I find Ellie Krieger's suggestions and recipes to be very helpful.

Other things I might add to an entry is how I'm feeling mentally and physically, if I'm sick and for how long, anything major that happened in my life that caused stress, and any changes that I notice. And yes, I take note of how much water, tea, and coffee I'm drinking, what my urine and stools look like and smell like, etc. Urine and stools are two of the best indicators of health and should be monitored daily. For example, sweet-smelling urine could be a sign of high glucose levels and diabetes while continuously pencil thin stools could indicate colon cancer. And if there's blood, note whether it's bright red or tar like and sticky ... then get your butt to the doctors IMMEDIATELY. And don't forget, if you eat a lot of beets (borscht) it will turn your stools red and can turn your urine pink!

Ready for all of the good things that will happen this year!

Good Thing 2020 Jar

This is one of my favorite things to start on January 1st and continue throughout the year. You probably have already seen something like this floating around social media and other blogs. The concept is simple: grab a big mason jar and write "Good Things 2020" on it. When something awesome happens to you, write it on a small slip of paper, fold it, and drop it into the jar. Some things I've kept track of were getting a new job, having a paper accepted to a conference or for publication, or having dinner with a friend that I haven't seen in a while. Some more everyday things can be a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer, learning how to knit, and baking your first loaf of bread. A good thing doesn't have to be monumental or life changing; it just needs to mean something special to you.

When you are feeling defeated or sad throughout the year, dump those slips of paper onto the floor and read each one slowly. And at the end of the year, read them all aloud to yourself or to someone you love and trust. From my own experience, these little slips of paper have the power to completely cheer you up and make you so very grateful. They have the power to make you really aware of what goodness is in your life. My favorite part of the process is watching the slips fill the jar. And if you run out of space, just make a new jar for the rest of the year!

Image Source: https://alcoholchange.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/dry-january

My Personal January Challenge

In yesterday's post I mentioned that I've been consuming way too much alcohol for my liking. Since my Mom's death, I noticed that I consume alcohol to relax and relieve stress and sadness. I often drink at home and not with food; while I'm never alone, it's not a good habit. I have spent way too much money on booze these last few years and it has negatively affected my waistline. I don't even want to know what it's doing to my liver and blood sugars. Let's face it, I have diabetes in my family. This is not a good habit to maintain!

With that said, I am participating in the AlcoholChangeUK.org's Dry January challenge. My goal is to avoid alcohol for the entire month of January and then to only drink socially and at special events. What I mean by socially is the once-a-month (or less) dinner parties, special events, and celebrations. I do not mean every week when the Gal Squad gets together! When I do drink it will be with food and no more than 10 oz of wine or cider. That's two proper glasses and not the monstrous glasses folks drink from today.  Who knows if I'll ever go completely dry, but I'm open to it.

Good luck my friends! And remember, join the Bat Fit conversation on our Facebook Group:https://www.facebook.com/groups/691691137560863/about/. When you join remember to answer the three questions or we won't approve your membership.