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:

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'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: When you join remember to answer the three questions or we won't approve your membership.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Bat Fit 2020: Goals

Hello my lovelies! Hello! I hope your holidays were joyous. If not, may you find peace and comfort as you recuperate from December's festivities. Can you believe that it's New Year's Eve? This Modern Day Flapper is quite smitten that it's going to be the Roaring 20s once again! WAHOO! I'm also very relieved that this horrible decade is going to be finally over. While there was some good stuff -- like earning my PhD -- there was also some really awful stuff, like my Mom dying and my siblings suing me over her will and estate. It has been a decade of challenges, mourning, struggle, disappointment, and a WHOLE LOT of change. It seems like I've been on a 10 year journey into myself, only to return to where I started. Granted, I'm wiser from the experience and maybe a bit more jaded, but sheeze! I'm exhausted.

These past two weeks I revisited my Samhain resolutions and goals, most of which I haven't stuck to or accomplished. How could I? We had to euthanize my beloved pup, Pumpkin just a few days before Samhain (his birthday) and, a month to the day, we had to do the same to our Moo. It hasn't been a Happy Holiday season at all because we didn't have our fuzzy kids getting into everything and snuggling on the couch as we watched holiday movies. Hell, I gained 10 ADDITIONAL pounds since Pumpkin died, bringing me right back to my pre-Bat Fit 2012 weight: 245 pounds. To make matters worse, I'm probably at my most unfit for a number of reasons: healing after the hysterectomy, hours sitting at a desk, no will or motivation, depression, etc.

Of course, it's a vicious cycle. I'm angry with myself for gaining back the weight and not exercising. I'm angry that I haven't figured out alternative ways to deal with my stress and sadness. I'm tired of feeling like crap all the time and I'm tired of feeling weak. I get winded walking up stairs. My calves cramp horribly when I'm walking. And my knees, ankles, and arthritic toe are constantly hurting, so much so that I pop Advils like candy ... which, of course, upsets my stomach. I hate not having energy. I hate not being able to sleep well. I don't even want to think about what this is doing to my blood pressure and sugar levels. Something needs to be done, once and for all.

I'm not looking for the "magic bullet" or a quick fix. I lost this weight and got fit before, I can do it again. That's not the challenge this time around. My challenge is going to be finding alternative methods of dealing with my stress, anger, and sadness. Food and, since my Mom's death, booze have been my emotional crutches, my go-to, my comfort. Hell, it's a family trait. My Mom used to eat a bag of potato chips when she was feeling particularly stressed or sad. I'm not the only kid in my family that has a problem with using food as a coping strategy.

With that said, my Bat Fit 2020 goals are:

  1. I am going to actively explore productive and comforting methods to cope with my stress and sadness. I'm going to give myself the time and space to find what works and discard what doesn't. By the end of this year, I will have weened myself off of food and drink for comfort.
  2. I am going to work on losing 50 pounds and keeping it off. This will be an ongoing goal, so there's really no end date. However, it would be nice to lose at least 30-35 by June -- 6 months at 5 pounds a month sounds reasonable to me. Once I lose my desired weight, I will focus on maintaining it. 
  3. I will strengthen my core muscles (especially my stomach!!!) and work on being limber. I will do this by lifting weights, stretching, and doing a cardio exercise like biking, swimming, or walking at least four days a week. I don't intend on being a gym rat -- 1-2 hours a session seems reasonable, especially if I'm swimming.
  4. I did very well on the 1950s Weight Management Diet. I was never hungry. I enjoyed preparing our meals and I especially enjoyed the more formal dining experience. It made me stop and enjoy what I was eating. It also made me appreciate the ritual of mealtime with my darling Ed. The goal here is smaller portions of good food lovingly cooked by me. 
  5. We will reserve eating out to once a week as a special treat. I'd like to focus on the foods we really love -- Thai, Indian, and Middle Eastern food. So often we just settle for pizza or Chinese food because it's convenient. Eating out should be a treat and an adventure!
  6. As for my mental and emotional health, well, that's where pursuing my goals, dreams, and hobbies come in. I plan to research and write, make art, knit, sew, hike, and camp this year. I also plan to rekindle my spiritual practice, something I desperately need. Maybe more of this will help me cope with my stress and sadness?
  7. Financially, we need to tighten our belts a bit. Our rent is way too high for this crap-hole apartment, food costs have skyrocketed, and NYC has gotten super expensive, even in the cheapest borough, Staten Island! So, that means we're going on a budget. The plan is to move out of this apartment into something we can easily afford, and that means downsizing. It will give us a great opportunity to go through our stuff and lighten our load. It's also going to force us to eat home a lot more. Win-win!
So what are your goals for the New Year and New Decade? And don't forget to join Bat Fit on Facebook: Make sure you answer the three questions when you join or I won't approve you. I take everyone's privacy seriously!

Tune in tomorrow for our first Bat Fit Challenge of 2020! WAHOO! Happy New Year, Everyone! Let's make it a healthy one. MUAH!


Saturday, December 14, 2019

Coming Back Home to Academia and Teaching

After much thought and self-reflection (and a lot of tear-filled conversations with Ed), I have decided to leave the MLS program and go back to teaching/ academia. I’m going to continue working at the N-YHS, of course, and get well-needed experience in curatorial research. However, the grant ends in November 2020, just in time for the next academic job season. I’m going to be looking for full-time teaching gigs in the NorthEast, Mid-Atlantic, Washington DC and Virginia, but I will also be looking for campus gallery/collections curatorial positions.
“Why?” I hear most of you saying. 
Let me bring you on a little journey, if I may ... and let me couch this with this statement: I owe none of you an explanation of why I change my mind, why I try things, why I leave/stop things when they aren't working out, why I am who I am. One thing is for sure: I am not impulsive. My decisions are products of months of self-reflection, weighing pros and cons, talking to Ed (and when she was alive, my Mom), and talking to my most intimate circle of friends. Just because I don't let the world in on my thoughts and decision making doesn't mean it's reactionary or emotionally driven. For Goddess sake, I'm 48 years old. I've been living on my own since I was 23. I've had another career before going into academia ... hell, I had two! 
Taking the full-time teaching gig at Texas A&M was both a blessing and the worst thing I've ever done in my life. I met some extraordinary people there. Taught some brilliant students. And I spearheaded some awesome initiatives. I learned more about online teaching, Universal Design, and 508 compliance than I care to think about. I learned how to write good rubrics and SLOs, and I learned all about the accreditation process.
I also learned that I wasn't ready for it, mentally and emotionally. I knew deep down in my gut that I should have stayed at Seton Hall as an adjunct for one more year as I caught my breath after graduation and got my footing. This is something that I, PERSONALLY, need to do to thrive and I didn't do it. I was still in the throes of mourning my Mom ... mourning my Pop resurfaced just after graduation. I was still dealing with my brothers suing me over my Mom's will. I was not mentally or emotionally ready for that HUGE step.
Was it honestly Texas? Maybe a little. I hated where I was ... but I loved some of the people I worked with. My boss was tolerating my big NYC mouth because it came with a willingness to bust ass and make things happen. But being so far from NYC and being in the state of emotional health I was in really screwed me up. Add to this my growing health problems and doctors who told me that my fibroid, which was blocking my urethra and causing severe back pain, was because I was fat or all in my head. I was not happy and I was certainly ready to go home, crash and burn, and lick my wounds.
And that's what I did: I moved home. I let my contract end. I wasn't tenure track anyway. I was more like a highly paid adjunct. I stopped teaching and applied for the MLS program because I just didn't know what to do. I let myself cry. I let myself mourn. I let myself be angry and hurt. I let myself hate academia. I let myself try new things. And now I am letting myself go back to something I truly love.
These two semesters and my library gig gave me a taste of what I could expect ... and I honestly didn’t like it. I hated it. I’m no shrinking violet and can’t see myself processing collections 9:00-5:00. I also couldn’t see myself spending more time and money on another degree only to start at ground zero in a new career! I’m wasting time that could be spending on writing and researching my own stuff. It’s time to live. And more importantly, I seriously miss teaching. I miss students. I miss my colleagues. I miss the art, the craziness, the conferences. I just miss it.
What's wrong with that? What's wrong with knowing yourself enough to understand when you need a break? What's wrong with trying things? Nothing. I'm going back home and there's nothing wrong with that.