Friday, December 30, 2005

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

Oso recently wrote that he has been ill. Jokingly I suggested to him that he go to the mercado and get some chochitos. Many Mexicans use homeopathic medicine when they are not feeling well - part of this consists of going to the local market and buying chochos, which means little pills or sprinkles (a cookie with sprinkles has chochos and a medicinal capsule also has chochos).

Not knowing what chochitos were, Oso googled it and got this page. As it turns out chocho has multiple meanings. It is one of those words in Spanish that can get you in trouble if you use it some place other than your native land. In Spain, chocho is a vulgar term for vulva, which Oso believes would make him, or anyone else for that matter, feel better.

In my attempt to find proper uses of the word online, I came across a recipe from Venezuela where chochos seem to be a type of food (yet another meaning!). I quickly ran it through the google translator. I did not get a translation of chochos - however if you keep in mind the Spanish definition, this is a quite amusing recipe. Never mind that it calls for some pope and a pricked onion. Moreover, you get to guild yourself and the pope. Without further ado, here is the recipe:
Locro of chochos

- 1 cup of bare chochos
- 2 pounds of Pope, in slices, heavy half, half thin.
- 1/2 milk cream cup
- 1 1/2 liters of water
- 1 milk cup
- 1/2 cup of pricked white onion
- 2 spoonfuls of mantequilla
- 1 avocado in slices
- 1 tomato in rodajas
- sauce of red pepper to the pleasure
- encurtidas onions
- salt and pepper to the pleasure
- lettuce leaves

To warm up mantequilla, to add the onion and to fry until I gilded myself.

To add the Popes and to fry to upper middle fire of five to ten minutes, to remove constantly until the Pope is gilded.

To add to the cream and milk when boiling to add the hot water, the salt and the pepper. To cook by twenty to thirty minutes or until the thin slices of Popes undo partly, to thicken locro.

To liquefy half of the chochos with a little soup until forming a cream, reserving until the moment for serving.

To add the rest of the chochos, to the soup and to let boil, add the cream of chochos and extinguish the fire.

To serve adorned with a slice as avocado, average leaf of lettuce, one rodaja of tomato and encurtidas onions.

Taken from the recipe book of the national program of leguminosas station Santa Clara. (July 1998)

Envoy by Sara N. Boada Andrade
Resident of Caracas, Venezuela
You can find the original Spanish version here.

I still am not sure what Venezuelan chochos are. There is a Venezuelan take out place a couple of miles away that I have been wanting to try. Should I ask there? What is they are people who have lived in Spain? I might get into some trouble.

In any case, Oso did not take my advice. Instead he listened to others and had Sopa Azteca, which as far as I know has only one meaning (although several ways of preparing it). It seems to be working and he is feeling better, just in case you were concerned.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Yes, it is that time of year. I have a stack of final projects to grade so I can submit final grades. Last week I thought final grades were due sometime this week. I found out, though, that they are due January 3. Ha! An excuse to procrastinate. Instead of sitting myself down and grading last Friday, I put it off.

Now the 3rd is approaching quickly so it needs to get done. Having failed to make much progress with them at home, I took myself to a coffee place, bought a big cuppajoe, sat myself down, and began to do my business (no, not that business, although all that joe did make a couple of breaks necessary).

I was about two thirds of the way done, my back was aching, my legs were cramping, and the place was getting crowded, when the woman at the next table came over. She was holding a plug. Her laptop's battery was about to die and she knew there was an outlet just behind my chair. Despite my determination to plow ahead, this gave me an excuse to escape. Since she was sitting at a table and I was in a plush arm-chair, I knew she would jump at the opportunity to move into the welcoming warmth of the cushioned corner. I told her I was about to leave and she could have my spot.

I was right.

Now I am home, easily distracted, I smell like coffee, and I still have papers to grade. I vow to finish them tonight. But now I must run to rid myself of more of that joe.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Late Evening Musings

I saw a cardinal today. It was just outside our kitchen window. This may not be a big deal to most people in this part of the country.

It was to me.

The cardinal is ubiquitous as a pictured bird: as the mascot of many sports teams and the official bird of many states. I have only seen a real cardinal a few times, though. And everytime I see one, I am amazed by its color. It is so bright, it almost seems unreal.

I watched it with fascination. I thought about how predators could easily spot it (as compared to the drab sparrows that were popping about nearby and blended in with the dirt and rotting leaves). I also wondered what it was doing around here. If I were a bird, I would be headed south to warmer places.

Dumb bird.

It still made me happy to see it. Just like when I spot a great blue herron or an eagle or a falcon or a wild parot. They are majestic creatures. It probably also has to do with one of my desires. Deep down I have a wish I could fly. Someday I might take flying lessons. Or maybe take up gliding (in a glider or maybe even hand gliding). Skydiving isn't as appealing. That basically is just falling. Falling with a view. I guess gliding is falling too, but you have more control. Flying - that probably would have been the eight item on my list of things to do before I "kick the bucket." I guess it also something I cannot do - at least not right now.

Moving on.

Yesterday I posted about Kurt Vonnegut. As it happens, today's Boston Globe has an op-ed by his son, Mark Vonnegut. Mark is a pediatrician in the Boston area. Before he got his medical degree, he was crazy and a hippie. He wrote a book about it. The title he chose for it was The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity.

Would you take your child to see a physician who has been diaganosed as severely schizophrenic? Perhaps if your child is having issues with mental illness. If I had a child I would not have any qualms about taking her (or him) to see Dr. Vonnegut. I think I am in the minority, though.

Sara has read his book. After reading his op-ed, I want to read it too. In fact, I just bought it on Amazon. Talk about your impulse buying.

After this discourse on red birds and crazy writers/physicians, time has come for bed.

Rats. I always seem to escape these things, but Mariposa pegged me. I will bite the bullet and do this thing:

Seven things I plan to do before I kick the can:
1. Visit all the places I dream about visiting
2. Go to Canyon Ranch with Sara for a total indulgent time
3. Learn to scuba dive
4. Learn another language (I really would like to learn Nahua or Maya)
5. Find out just why I have to kick the can
6. Get tenured
7. Let Sara know everyday how much I love her

Seven things I can do:
1. Think
2. Love
3. Teach
4. Explore
5. Listen
6. Empathize
7. Walk the dogs

Seven things I can't do:
1. Dance well
2. Sing (in a way that dogs don't howl and Sara won't throw things at me)
3. Make the clicks used in the !Kung (!Xũũ) language
4. Enjoy hot and humid weather unless I am in a tropical paradise
5. Have a baby
6. Tolerate hate based on ignorance
7. Play Beethoven on a toy piano

Seven things that attract me to another person:
1. Intelligence
2. Makes me laugh
3. Kindness
4. Sense of adventure
5. Smile
6. Uniqueness
7. A story in their eyes

Seven things I say most often:
1. Oh no! (and all forms derived from this such as crap! etc.)
2. Que flojera!
3. Moooo... (long story...)
4. Damn Boston drivers!
5. I love you (to Sara).
6. What good dogs!
7. I need a vacation!

Seven people to do this little blogger game:
1. Sara, of course
2. Sherri
3. Scott
4. Oso
5. Frankie
6. Ktrion
7. Beaver

Monday, December 26, 2005

Digital Short Story

Moving on with the times...

I bought my first digital short story online today. I will still have to print it out. There is something wrong about reading on the screen. Unless it is someone's personal online journal (aka "blogs"), of course.

Fifty cents - that's what it cost. What would have Dickens thought? Twain? Hemingway? Somehow I can really picture those three writing blogs. Would they have become literary greats (I know some my have a quarrel with that label) had they been distracted by the cyberworld?

I am reading Vonnegut's latest booklet. It's a hoot! He eschewed technology - never moving past the typewriter. I think he would have pushed the cyberworld into new dimensions had it overlapped more with his life.

Anyway, that is my literary post for the year. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


All I ever get is Peanuts...

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Found through Ktrion

I have always wanted to play Beethoven on a toy piano, but I never have succeeded.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Another day, another rejection letter.

The first few were easy to take, but as they have been streaming in it has gotten a little more difficult. It is hard to keep a positive attitude.

In better news, Sara and I found a great place to eat. More on that later - it is lunch time and writing about food is not a good topic. I am off to eat!

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Thank you for your interest, but...

Yes, the multitude of job applications I sent out are beginning to spawn the return rejection letters. I have gotten three already:
  1. University of San Diego
  2. University of British Columbia
  3. Lehigh University
<--- Keep track with the handy counter in the sidebar.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mental Leftovers

As you may recall, Sara and I went down to DC a couple of weeks ago for a conference. While we were down there we accomplished many of the goals we set for ourselves, professional and personal. I won't go into detail about the professional ones - they are rather boring.

Our personal, or tourist, goals included:
  • Sara needed to go up the Washington Monument
  • I wanted to see the World War II Memorial and the American Indian Museum
  • Sara wanted to see the corpse plant at the United States Botanic Gardens
  • We both wanted to get some Ethiopian food

We had tried to go up the Washington Monument twice before (I went up twice before I met Sara). Once it was closed for renovations and the other time it was in November 2001 (so it was closed as a result of paranoia/cautiousness). This time we were successful, but not after a few obstacles. We got there only to find out that you needed a ticket. The ticket is free, but it is timed. I was able to get tickets, but we had an hour and a half wait.

[All pictures courtesy of Sara and my camera]

As you can see it was a bit nippy that day, but we decided to walk down the length of the Mall to the Botanic Gardens to see the corpse plant. On the way there I got to see the outside of the American Indian Museum, which was enough for me at the time.

The corpse plant expedition was also successful, although it was a bit wilted (a bit like how I have been feeling lately, so I could relate). Unlike me, however, the plant did not stink anymore. This is what we saw:

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This is what we would have seen had we gone a couple of weeks earlier:

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While we were there we also got to see some beautiful orchids and a bunch of other plants.

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The roaming and screeching children were a bit irritating though. Who knew that I had become a grumpy old man?

We made our way back to the Monument and got to go up. We saw the WWII Memorial from the air. It was smaller than I had pictured it (and no, it is not just because I saw it from far away).

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The images in the media can be deceiving, but I should have known that already. Back on terra firma, we decided that it was too cold and we were too tired to spend more time outside. We did pop into the National Museum of American History to warm up, have some coffee, and check out an exhibit on Polio that we saw advertised during our previous stroll down the Mall.

From the Museum we hopped a cab and made our way to Adams Morgan to my favorite Ethiopian Restaurant in DC: Meskerem. This visit did not disappoint. We ate well and basked in our accomplishments of having achieved all our goals.

Despite the wonderful day, I did see something that left me feeling a bit uneasy. During our cab ride we drove past McPherson Square, which is a couple of blocks from the White House. The square was completely littered: with newspapers, trash, and people. There was a van handing out food and drink. I know homelessness is complex problem - I teach about it in some of my courses. Nonetheless, it is a shame on this country that we (as a wealthy society) cannot care for these people and that they become human litter that live only blocks from the residence of our leader. I thought about how we had been cold earlier in the day and were able to escape it by going into museums, hailing a cab, and returning to our hotel room. How petty was it of me to feel burdened about the weather...and what of the hypocrisy of our "Christian" leaders who do nothing to address the situation.

Ok, end of rant. End of this episode of mental leftovers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Just in case you were wondering...

...yes, I am still alive. Despite this:

This is the view from my home-office window. The snow got so bad today that I could not see the houses across the street. The snow itself seemed to flow down the street. The only way to describe it is like a river of snow. I guess it also reminded me of when you fly through a cloud and you can see it rushing by through the window.

And there was lightning and thunder! I guess it can happen during a snow storm, but I had never experience that before.

What's that I hear? Sunny California beckoning...."Come, come, my warmth awaits you..."


There is more to say on other things...maybe tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 27, 2005



I have been feeling uninspired over the past week. It is probably because I missed Sara while she was in New Mexico. She came back on Friday, so my mood has improved. So much so that I was even able to finish a journal article I have been working on. I was supposed to have it to the editor by November 1 - so it was just a little bit late. Ooops!

I can't believe we are heading down to DC on Wednesday. We will be attending the Anthropology meetings which can be fun just because anthropologists are very strange creatures. At the meetings you will see people of every color and flavor. What is not fun is that I have to give a paper that is yet to be finished. Hmmph! I should also be networking and perhaps even interviewing while I am there, but the employment room is one of the most stressful places I have ever been in. So I will avoid it as much as I can.

I do have a non-academic agenda for our time in DC. Sara has never been up the Washington Monument, so we are going to give it a try. I also want to see the new WWII memorial and the new museum of the American Indian. Most of all, I want to get some good Ethiopian food!

Ok, I should get to the title of this post. Thanksgiving Day I left the television on in the morning when I went to work on my article. When I came out to the living room, the dogs were on the couch watching the television. Mind you, they are usually completely oblivious to the television unless there is a dog barking, a cat meowing, or a doorbell ringing. Even then, the attention is fleeting. This time, however, they were completely engrossed. From where I first spotted them, I could not see what was on the television, but then I walked further and discovered that they were watching the Philadelphia Dog Show!

Some people watch football on Thanksgiving, other the Thanksgiving parade. Our dogs prefer the Philadelphia Dog Show! Posted by Picasa

Since I was posting dog pictures, I just thought I would add these two.

Posted by Picasa Whatcha want?

Ever consider getting some odor-eaters? Posted by Picasa

Yes, that is my giant shoe by Zephyr's head!


Sara's Feet

Sara's Feet

People have been clamoring to see the recent artistic addition to Sara's feet. So without further ado:

The recent addition is the map and compass, which is still a work in progress (there will be color added to it sometime in the future). The tiguana (a mix between a tiger and an iguana - I know it is hard to see) was added in July, while the centipede (note the capsaicin molecule on its back) was added in March. The snake was the first inhabitant of the feet, arriving when Sara lived in New Mexico - a long, long time ago.

As you can see, the artist is quite talented - one of Boston's best (if not the best). Hence, the wait to have him work on you is about four months long. He is fond of Sara because she asks for interesting and unconventional work.

If you have any questions, you can ask Sara. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

My horoscope today:

Libra Libra
Daily extended (by
Think about this: When was the last time you actually went away on vacation? Traveling for a business trip doesn't count, either. It's been far too long, hasn't it? Okay, so what are we going to do about that? Visit the travel agent on the way home from work tonight, just to get inspired. Then you can spend some time online looking at room and flight rates. One way or the other, you really should treat yourself to a trek.

I usually don't believe in astrology, but this was right on. Of course, who doesn't need a vacation, so it is just one of those tricks where they state the obvious and it seems to fit right into your life.

Still, I need a vacation - I need that treat.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Answers to Mariposa's Questions:

1. If you were a book which book would you be?

This is a tough question. I probably could ponder that one for a long time. I won't say that my dissertation, which I hope will soon be a book, for that would be a cop out. Instead I will mention the two that first popped in my head.
I feel that each of the brothers in the Brothers Karamzov by Fyodor Dostoevsky reflects an important part of my personality and as such I think that it would be a fitting book to represent me. I also feel that Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut illustrates the randomness of my life. So one of those two.

2. What are 3 things in your fridge?

Many types of cheeses, apple cider, and strawberries.

3. When are you and your wife coming to Chicago?

I have no idea. There are no upcoming conferences there and neither of us has applied for any jobs there. Actually, I am mistaken...Sara will be there tomorrow, but her presence will only be for an hour or so as she changes planes at Midway on her way to Albuquerque.

4.If you were a painting which one would you be and why?

Again this is a question that I could ponder forever. Unlike the books, however, nothing jumped in my mind. The first thoughts were something by Picasso for its complexity, something by Monet for its vagueness and softness, something by Rivera for its richness, or something by Dali for its absurdity. I am going to have to pass on this one and think about it some more.

5. What's in your suitecase or backpack?

Books, book, and more books. I also have pens, pencils, paper clips, change, Buddhist wrist beads, a wooden W with a wolf on it, old cough drops, asprin, and a highlighter.

If anyone else has questions or wants clarification on my answers, just ask...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Thank you to those of you who offered up suggestions as to what I should write. I will get to them in due course. While I do have a little free time at the moment, my brain is past the point where I can be thoughtful and coherent. And your questions deserve better answers than I can offer at the moment.

I have some other things I also want to write hopefully I will get to them over the next few days.

Friday, November 11, 2005



No se porqué pero hoy tengo tantas ideas que corren de aquí para alla en mi mente. Se confunden y no logro a distinguir lo que quiero entender.

Le lingue si confondono. Faccio il salto di una all’altra senza sappere perché. Saranno i nuovi farmaci che stanno faccendo uno scherzo nella mia mente?

Je ne sais pas. C’est possible…

Es ist schwer für mich – sehr schwer. Ich habe keine Ahnung. Veliecht werde ich ein bischien veruckt sein.

Eu quero saber porque a minha mente nào funziona bem. Mais eu não tenho nenhuma certeza...

It is time for me to leave. I am getting the needles put in to move my energy. I shall leave you with this …

Tell me what to write about and how…help me focus my thoughts into something you would like to know.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


I voted!

Did you?

Not that there was much to vote on. At stake are:
  • The Boston mayoral election that is all but decided.
  • Four at-large city council seats.
  • An unopposed district councilor.
When you think about it, my vote is more powerful on days like today when turnout is going to be low. So who did I vote for?
  • The first Asian-American running for Boston city council (he is Korean).
  • A popular Puerto Rican who might be Boston's first Latino mayor in the future.
  • The only woman in the race.
  • The last choice was among a bunch of middle-aged Irish-Americans. One of them is the sitting City Council president. He recently was shot at, so I was tempted to vote for him since he might have a new perspective on life in the city. His mass-mailings annoyed me, though. Another candidate lives near where we do, so I was tempted to vote for him. But I didn't. You might be thinking, well where do they stand on the issues? They are all mostly on the same page, so that couldn't be a determining factor. Well, all issues but one. Rent control. I voted for the one in favor of it - who also happens to be the one endorsed by the Boston Globe.
Ah, democracy in action - you gotta love it!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The weekend is almost over and most of the things I needed to accomplish remain unfinished. Rats!

There is much I would like to write about, but the time and energy are both short.

I need to get back to my class prep for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



Yesterday, as Sara and I were driving somewhere, we pulled up behind a van that had So-and-So's Cutlery Service written on the side and back. I had never seen a home-service for cutlery at in this country.

However, it brought back a flash of my days in Mexico where some guy on a bicylcle would ride around the neighborhood offering his cutlery sharpening services. He had a sharpenning wheel on the back of the bicycle which would spin as he pedaled with the back wheel propped up.

I had not thought about that in a long time.

We also ended up going to our neighborhood Mexican restaurant for dinner. It turns out that this week is the Tri-national Gastronomy and Culture of Mexico Week (link in Spanish only). Several Mexican restaurants in Boston (and elsewhere, I assume) are offering special menus featuring some of the regional specialties from Mexico. I knew about the offerings at a restaurant in Sommerville that I have been wanting to try. Unfortunately, Sommerville is not an easy trip for us and this week is really busy, so we would have to miss it.

Our local place, however, was also participating. The owners are from Yucatan and they were offering some dishes from that state. We had ceviche, relleno negro, cochinita pibil, flan, pan de muertos, and hot chocolate. I had been looking around for pan de muertos because I always loved having it when I lived in Mexico. Apparently there are not enough Mexicanos in Boston to warrant a Mexican bakery. I was a little disappointed, but such is life. I was able to get some, however. The owner of the place said that he got it from a bakery in Providence. I think I remember the place he was talking about.

I wrote about the Day of the Dead/Halloween in Mexico a couple of years ago if you care to read more about it. Whereas there I felt I was a part of both, here I feel somewhat alienated from both. Maybe that's just part of growing up...

Nonetheless, the food and the memories of the cutlery sharpening guy on his bicycle made me a little nostalgic.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Very busy.

  • Got my car back from the body shop - did not get charged my deductible!
  • Psychiatrist appointment - I have been wanting to write about this, but not have found the time nor the mental space to do it.
  • More acupuncture - also want to write about this, but [see above]
  • Evening social with the Latino Student Association: this needs no description.
  • Candle-pin bowling social with the anthropology department I am at right now (It was more fun than I expected or care to admit - the bowling, I mean).
  • Halloween party with some of Sara's friends - she can tell you more if you are interested.
  • Our first snow on Saturday - what? where did that come from?
  • Our 6th anniversary on Sunday - a wonderful day. More on that later.
  • Many, many job applications (13 to be exact). Will they lead to anything? Probably not...
  • Grading...
  • Class prep...
  • Lecture.
  • Many dog walks - all too short for the dogs (and for my body - I definitely need to step up on the exercise).
I need a vacation. Soon!

Postnote: Alma wins the brownie points for the closest guess on that picture below. It is an Italian enchilada. I had a bit of fresh lasagna pasta and sauce left over after filling the baking dish. I rolled the pasta around some cheese and spinach and covered it with sauce. I then baked it for about 20 minutes. It does not look to appetizing (especially if you read Oso's comment), but it was actually pretty tasty. I am sure I have offended many Italian gastronomic sensibilities with my culinary exploration, but I don't care. Italians offended my sensibilities with what they claimed to be Mexican food over there. So we'll just call it even!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Lazy Morning

The Season has Changed

We are back to winter here in New England. While Wilma did not visit us, she did contribute to a nearby storm to produce the season's first Nor'easter. We woke up to a very windy, rainy, and cold day.

How did I feel about it? I will let Zeus answer that...

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Yep, getting out of bed and working was particularly difficult today.

I like the theories for the previous picture - keep them coming!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Italian Enchilada

Damn Blogger!

I just wrote a post explaining this picture and Blogger crashed as I was publishing it. I don't have the energy to explain it now, so just use your imagination. Brownie points for the best story left in my comments.

What is this? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My Life in Pictures

This is the little car I need to drive around for a week. It is not a bad little car, just keep in mind that I am 6'5". Actually it has a lot of headroom, so I should not complain. It also has pep until someone else gets in with me.

The Speck Posted by Picasa

Here is Zeus tracking the path of one of his nemises: jingle cat.

Jungle Dog Posted by Picasa

And Zephyr generally just looks a little confused.

Distracted Posted by Picasa

I have a lot of work: grading, book reviews, article revisions, etc. I really don't feel motivated to get any of it done. But off I go...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Random Thoughts

While Sara indulges her guilty pleasure in the living room, I will take advantage to goof off for a while.

I took my car into the body shop yesterday. It is going to take them about a week to fix it. Fortunately my insurance covers a rental for me to drive around in the meantime. Of course, it is nothing fancy. I call it a "Speck" because it is so small. I will have to take a picture of it and post it one of these days.

The job application assembly line is in full motion now. Nine applications have gone out so far and there are ten waiting in the sidelines that will have to go out over the next couple of days. Sara is joining in on the fun this time. I hope you caught the cynicism in that last sentence.

Sara and I have noticed the surge in commercials for remodeling products that you just place over your existing bathroom/basement. The ads show some nasty mildewy bathroom or basement beging improved by placing the liner over the tub and/or walls. I said I would not be surprised to see an ad for a liner to place over your whole apartment:
Is your apartment a complete mess? This can change with our new Pseudo-Clean apartment liners. Just lay over your cruddy mess and just like that, the disaster is gone! Call now for an estimate.
Or even an ad for a liner to cover your spouse:
Remember the days when you were attracted to your spouse? Get those days back with our new Spouseliners. Just place over your fat, hairy, and smelly spouse, and like a miracle, you will have an attractive and sexy spouse again!
I realize that this may make no sense to you. It has been a long day in what already has been a long week. I also did not get much sleep last night thanks to a dog (who will remain nameless) who seemed to wander aimlessly around the apartment all last night, poking my face with his/her very cold and wet nose every so often.

Is it just me or are things in the world getting to be a bigger and bigger mess? I think the Earth's antibodies are trying to eliminate the pathogen that the human race has become.

Thinking about that is just too depressing. I think I will join Sara for the last ten minutes of her guilty pleasure...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sara and I had Ethiopian food for lunch today. I must say that there is something I find appealing about eating with your hands. It must be adding yet another sense to the eating experience. Perhaps it is that I also associate eating with your hands with Ethiopian food, which I love. The cuisine is so rich and complex: multiple spices mixed in with meats, legumes, and vegetables all packaged in to bite-sized morsels in the spongy bread. Being able to feel the textures of the food with your fingertips just adds another layer of complexity.

I also love being able to smell the spices and other flavors on my (and Sara's) fingers hours after we have eaten. The scent of honey on my fingers (from the dessert) actually made me smile.

Perhaps we should eat other foods with our hands - and I don't mean fast food.

Now that I think about it, in Mexico I did tend to eat more with my hands, even when there were utensils around. There might be a formative component in all of this as well.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Flying Dog

Now for a change of pace...

Things have been too serious around here lately, so I am posting something that makes me smile. I hope it brings a smile to you too.

About to take off... Posted by Picasa

Zeus can run very fast and at times he gets a little airborne (with a little help of ear flapping, of course). This picture is from Washington state (somewhere in the Blue Mountains) - not sure when I took it, probably February or March.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Long Road

The Long Road to Nowhere

Now that the cat is out of the bag, I am going to post just how I got here. No need to read it, it is just part of my own process of recovery.

I first became depressed following the separation of my parents when I was 13. My father moved out our home when we were visiting my grandparents in California over the summer. After he moved out I heard rumors about him being unfaithful and I felt utterly betrayed. I felt as though he cheated on the whole family, not just my mother. I also felt that he did not love me enough to try staying or to rectify the situation. I felt much anger towards him, although I did not vent this anger. I really did not discuss the situation or my feelings with anyone. I felt ashamed that my father had moved out.

My anger quickly turned inward and began affecting my outlook on life. I felt burdened and worthless. With time, I became good at hiding these feelings as I carried on with my circle of friends.

When we moved to the US when I was fifteen, I suddenly found myself without the crutch of my friends and in a culturally very different environment. Growing up I had always considered myself American for I felt different from the Mexican children I lived with. However, upon my arrival to the US, I discovered that I was not American either. These feelings of inadequacy just mounted on the simmering anger and self-loathing that was inside me.

By my senior year in high school, the depression became too much for me to conceal or even bear on my own. Upon my mother’s request, I tried psychotherapy again, this time with a psychologist who had emigrated from Mexico. This proved to be successful and gave me the strength and confidence to begin college. In college, I could feel myself slipping into depression again. I used the colleges counseling services to try to cope with these feelings.

During my last few years in college and my first couple of years of graduate school I felt like I overcame my depression. In retrospect, I believe that I learned to cope with the severe symptoms of my depression, but the lack of self-esteem, sadness, and occasional feelings of hopelessness were still there. These feelings grew and became more intense after my Masters and when I entered the work force. The mundane nature of a 9 to 5 job exacerbated these feelings. The depression abated somewhat as I returned to an academic routing for which I felt better suited. Again, I think the feelings remained, I just was able to suppress them better in a more familiar environment.

When Sara and I started living together, there was someone who was directly influenced by the feelings associated with my depression. I thus became more conscious of them. I did try to hide and suppress them, but that was ineffective. When it became obvious that these feelings were affecting my relationship with Sara, I sought help again.

I had avoided treating my depression with medication because I saw being physically ill as being stigmatizing. I believed that my problems were a result of the circumstances I had encountered in my adolescence and that they could be overcome without the need to resort to “drugs.” I saw medication as something negative and the need to take them as stigmatizing. I did not see my problems as an illness to be treated, rather as a condition to be overcome. Realizing my inability overcome my circumstances over the period of fifteen years, I decided that I had to change my approach.

The prescribed medication was helpful in giving me a feeling of serenity and stability that I had not experience before. I did recognize some of the issues I needed to address and I felt better equipped to do so. Unfortunately, the therapist I was seeing (in addition to the psychiatrist) was not very helpful. I stopped going to therapy and tried to address my healing on my own.

I stopped taking the medication because I felt like I was making progress and I was going to be in Italy for six months. Getting my medication there would have been difficult. I felt like I coped with my time in Italy and the period just after my return well. There were moments of high anxiety (which I will get to later) and short episodes of depression. Compared to what I had felt in the past, these felt inconsequential.

As we prepared to return to Italy for another year of fieldwork, I began to feel immensely anxious and overwhelmed. A few days before we were to leave, the events of September 11 took place, which exacerbated these feelings. The year in Italy was a difficult one, especially the first few months. The feelings of depression began to stealthily creep into me.

The return to the US was welcomed yet difficult too. It was hard readjusting to the culture in addition to having to face the prospect of writing a dissertation. The feelings of inadequacy and lack of worth began to swell inside of me. After eight months of these feelings growing, I went to see a psychiatrist again. I began taking a different medication and I had psychotherapy sessions with the psychiatrist. The medication made me feel excessively lethargic and unable to focus. After about four weeks, I switched to to a different medication, which worked better for me.

I did not regain the serenity I experienced before, but I did have a sense of stability. The psychotherapy helped my focus on certain issues from the past and the worries of my dissertation and my future. I slowly tapered off the psychotherapy, but I continued with the medication.

After graduation and as I got ready to move to Washington state for my postdoc, I considered going off the medication, but I felt I still needed the stability in order to get through all the changes that were about to occur. Most of you have read about the trials and tribulations of last year, so I won't go into detail here. Just before the end of the academic year and my return to Boston, my housemate who had also been dealing with depression got acupuncture treatment for it. Her experience seemed to be positive, so I decided to try it when I returned to Boston.

Despite trying something new, I also knew that I needed to go back to the beginning and readjust my medication.

So once again, I am visiting the doctor, tinkering with my doses, and trying to talk the beast out of my head so I can better deal with it. I would like to kill it once and for all, but that probably will not happen. What I am doing, however, is taking baby steps in the right direction.

Baby steps...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thank you all for your continued encouragement. I am continuing to move forward one step at a time. I am tackling this problem from several angles, so hopefully it will become more managable and less intrusive.

Sara's father's recent health problems does put things into perspective and makes me reflect on life. Nonetheless, I still have these issues to deal with and I will continue to do so.

I will probably be writing more as time allows. Right now I am feeling rather swamped with preparing for my course, writing, applying for jobs, and picking myself up. I have found that writing out my thoughts and emotions has been theraputic, so I am inclined to continue (in the past I have found it frustrating as my mind runs ahead, my thoughts leaving my ability to write them down behind).

More to come...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Depression I


Warning: What follows is a rather personal and emotional post. Read at your own risk.

First, I want to thank those of you who left words of support and encouragement to my last post. While a small message may seem insignificant, it is something tangible one can hang a bit of hope on.

As I have mentioned before, I have been getting acupuncture treatments since late August. I never really mentioned what lead me to get acupuncture in the first place. Some of you may have guessed that it had to do with the tension and stress that I often complain about in this space. You would be partially correct. I do tend to stress too much for my own good and I carry that tension in my back and shoulders. Massage has proven helpful in the short run, but it seems to be treating the symptoms and not the cause. So I decided to see if this alternative form would help address this problem.

My real motivation, however, was my attempt to battle a beast that has plagued me for most of my life: depression. And a horrid beast it is. It lives deep inside of you, haunting your thoughts and emotions without you realizing it. I have tried confronting it directly, ignoring it, trying to marginalize it – all without much success. It is a monster that can lie quietly for extended period of times, lulling you into a sense of complacency. When you least expect it, though, it ambushes you.

What does this beast look like? It is hard to say, for it evolves, often camouflaging itself so that you can’t readily identify it or blending itself into other concerns and emotions. Currently, my feelings are of intense sadness, hopelessness, lack of self-worth, and feeling overwhelmed. I have had episodes of crying and withdrawal. I have not made any plans for harming myself, and right now I would doubt that I would. Death, however, feels like an escape and I even have had dreams of dying. So far, my depression has not interfered with my teaching other than a lack of preparation and enthusiasm. It has, however, distracted me from my writing and research. Worst of all, it has affected the interaction I have with Sara and this disturbs me a great deal.

I have written a history of my struggles with depression. I still have not decided whether I want to post it or not. It is rather personal and I am not sure whether I want it floating “out there”. My condition is something I have tried to hide, even from myself, so airing out might be difficult for me. This post is a beginning.

Yesterday and today have brought about a more optimistic outlook as I take one day at a time and try to take the small steps in a positive direction. I still have a long way to go, though. As for the acupuncture, it has worked well for the physical conditions I was looking to treat. However, I have felt the feeling of depression increase since I began. The practitioner said that this might happen as the negative energy that I have been carrying around begins to lift. At this point I will continue with the treatments, but I do feel that I need to address my issues with a more traditional (from a medical perspective) methods as well.

I have decided that I will try to write more about this process and my thoughts as I proceed with this struggle. Again, I may post these or not. I am still not sure. Whatever I decide to do, I will, however, keep you informed as to my general progress.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I am going through a really difficult time right now.

My self-esteem could not be any lower.

Maybe I will write more later.

Friday, September 30, 2005


As if things were not stressful enough, someone tried to break into our apartment last Wednesday.

When I got home from work, I noticed that the hose on the side of our house was running. When I went to turn it off, I then noticed that the window above it was open and the screen was pushed up. A garden chair was placed over the shrub that was below it.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

I ran around to the front and I went in the front door. The dogs were there and they were fine. That was when I let out my first sigh of relief. I looked around and everything seemed to be in place and nothing was missing. The stuff above the sink was also all in place. Second sigh of relief.

I inspected the screen and found two small slits just above the bottom. This is where the would-be home invader put his/her fingers through to move the slots to push the screen up.

My guess is that the dogs ran into the kitchen barking and scared the bastard away.

Good dogs!

Zeus can sound and look pretty viscious when he wants to. He has one scary snarl (actually he has more than one).

My feelings quickly turned from relief to anger. We have been robbed before and it just feels crappy. I don't care about things as much as it pisses me off that someone invaded our space.

I called Sara and told her about it. She was scared and creeped out by the incident. It did not help that I was supposed to fly to DC the next day.

Needless to say, I am still in Boston. I cancelled my trip. I sent the organizers the text I was going to present and someone there is going to read it for me. I felt bad, but I was not about to leave Sara here on her own. I know that the likelihood of something else happening is low. However, that feeling of vulnerability and violation takes a while to lift and until it does or at least begins to, I am going to stick around.

The extra time has given me a little time to unwind a bit and catch up with a few things that had been simmering on the back burner for a while.

There are so many thoughts running through my head right now - I do need some time to sort them out and I need to do it before they drive me nuts (or more nuts, as the case may be).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Things have been hectic (stressful) around here. Highligts include:

  1. Having a delivery truck hit my car - just a small gash on the front, but annoying nonetheless.
  2. Having to teach a class right after number 1.
  3. Having to prepare to go to DC on Thursday.
  4. Trying to find medical care.
  5. More accupuncture.
  6. Grading.
  7. Insurance paperwork - for almost every aspect of your life, including #1 and #4. Perhaps I could get #5 covered, but I just don't have the energy to find out right now.
  8. Job applications. Yes, deadlines are popping up. Again!

I need a vacation.

P.S. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. Those are VERY appreciated even though I still don't like my birthday. More on that at some other time.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More Accupuncture

More Accupuncture

I had yet another accupuncture treatment today. I want to discuss it, but I need to finish writing my lecture for tomorrow, so it will have to wait.

Another topic that I want to write about but will have to put off is that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. I was there and I still remember it clearly.

Thank you all for the expressions of sympathy for Y. I am sure that someway and somehow my friend and his family can feel the comfort of your collective embrace and positive thoughts.

Back later...

Saturday, September 17, 2005



Yesterday my mother called me to give me the news that my best friend from high school's step-daughter passed away. Here is the last entry from her CaringBridge page:
Friday, September 16, 2005.
Y was admitted this past sunday to hospice due to her respiratory distress and incoherence. Y has been fighting her cancer for almost 3 years and today at 2:05 am, she lost her battle to cancer. The staff at hospice made sure Y was well cared for and she was given the kindest of care while admitted. We are all very proud and will miss Y dearly. She was a real trooper and fought very hard to the very end. But alas, the progression of the disease was just too much for her in the end. Y went peacefully in her sleep. She did not suffer through her transition. She was well cared for and made comfortable. We could not have asked for anything more than that. Y is now at peace. We will miss her forever but she will still be in our hearts and in our prayers from now till eternity. We love you so much Y, you were truly one of a kind and your spirit will live on.

I remember Y running around my mom's yard playing with Zeus. She was a vivacious child always wearing a bright smile.

I know that death is part of life and it has been part of my experience of life (three grandparents, a cousin, and an uncle have passed on). However, I can't comprehend why a child suffered like this and had to pass on so soon. And I can't understand why my friend and his wife had to endure this. It just makes no sense.

So while I know we have all been hit up for donations for the victims of Katrina lately, I would still like to put in a request. If you happen to have an extra dime, please consider donating it to support research on cancer in children or to hospice care. You can do it in memory of Y.

May her spirit continue to live on in all of us.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Viva Mexico!

Viva Mexico!

Today is Mexican Independence Day. The party always start the night before with El Grito, a commemorative re-enactment of the event that began the fight for independence in 1810.

When I was young, we would stay up and watch it on tv. The next day there was a big military parade in the Zocalo - the main square of Mexico City - that was also on tv. The Mexican Air Force would fly its aeroplanes above the city. Most of these were clunky old prop planes that the US used in World War Two and then gave to Mexico. Nevertheless, when I heard their drone, I loved running outside and spotting them in the sky as they flew over our house.

I always wondered, though, why the Independence Day parade in Mexico was a military one, while the one's I had been in the US for 4th of July were parades with floats and fire engines.

In any case, I am happy my fellow country people rose up to kick those pesky Spanish out of our country 195 years ago.

In that spirit, I want to point out that Elena Mary is running for a seat on the Institute of Mexicans in the Exterior (a bad name that occurs when things are translated directly). She has been a longtime advocate of us Mexicans and Mexican-Americans abroad. She would appreciate your support in her campaign. Visit her site and show her your support (and while you are there ask her how you can help her campaign).

I hope this institute can give a voice to the many people who for a long time have not been able to be represented in the governmental bodies of either the home country or that one in which they live. I also hope it does not become just another bureaucratic swamp. With someone like EM as part of it, that would be highly unlikely.

Suerte EM!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Today was round 3 of my accupuncture treatment.

It was, by far, the most intense treatment so far. For the first two treatments I was on my back and the needles were placed on my front side. This time I was on my stomach and the needles were places on my back, hands, feet, and head.

Some of the needles almost burned as they went in. The practicioner said that my body was responding to the needles a lot. And, yes, I did feel like something was going on.

Once all the needles are in, you sit and wait for 45 minutes or so. I fell asleep during this time, but it really wasn't sleep. It was more of a meditative state. I lost all track of my thoughts (something that is very difficult for me to do - my mind is usually always racing) and even of where I was. I would drift back into and then again out of consciousness. It was a pleasant experience, except for the needle in my left wrist started to itch and burn a little. Also, the remaining mucus in my sinuses started to pool and create pressure that led to a sinus headache.
When the needles came out, I was rather groggy. And when I left, I felt rather tired, but a bit euphoric. After an intense work out or perhaps a little like after sex. My back has become a little sore this evening, again a little like being sore after working out, only it is not the muscles nor the skin that is sore. It is hard to describe.

I am curious to see how I feel tomorrow and over the next few days.


Monday, September 12, 2005


It has been a while...

Yes, I have not been writing much lately. I have been lurking, however, so don't let your guard down.

After a nice weekend away I returned to the chaos of the first week of school, preparing for a busy semester (which includes two conferences and the beginning of yet another job search adventure), and eventually a cold to close out the summer.

Coping with all of this led to a depletion of energy that prevented me from writing anything down - at least here.

We are now into the second week of the semester and things are not settling down. If anything, the chaos is picking up. I seem to be dealing with it in a more capable fashion.

I don't know if this has anything to do with my increased coping abilities, but I had my second accupunture appointment at the end of last week. I did get over the cold in a much quicker pace than I usually do. I am still agnostic on the whole matter. The accupuncturist also taped two small magnets on two spots where I tend to carry tension. I was fairly skeptical as to whether this would do anything, but low and behold the tension is gone from those spots (or greatly reduced). Of course I have other spots that are now tight further down on my back. I don't know if the tension spots migrated there or whether they were there all along and I just did not notice them before.

I go back tomorrow for the third session. This time I get the needles in my back. I am going to ask for more magnets, though.

The course seems to be going well. The students seemed pretty excited about it after the first meeting - a few who had not registered were asking to be let in. Always a good sign. Today's class I felt did not go as well. I lectured a lot - there are a lot of theoretical issues that I needed to cover before we move on. I felt scattered and not focused. Hopefully that will improve.

I have been ignoring/avoiding the Gulf Coast situation and the Supreme Court issue. I find it all to aggravating and frustrating to deal with right now. I do have a Tulane student in my class who will be at this university for the semester (maybe the year). So in a small way I am doing my part. Other than that, there is little I can do to change the situation, so I should avoid letting it get to me.

In the good news department, the US made it to the World Cup (soccer) and so did Mexico. So there is something to be happy about.

One last thing - today is my mother's birthday. She does not read this, nor does she know that it exists, but I want to send her good wishes nonetheless. Today she turns 60.

Sara asked me if she would be freaked out since it seems to be one of those "big" years. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and a school shooting survivor. I think after scares like that those, little freaks you out. Certainly not a birthday.

I am off to call her to wish her a great day...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Busy Weekend

We're back from our little get away.

We had a nice time (I will write about it later), but now it is back to work time. Tomorrow is my first class. First days are always difficult - both as a student and as a teacher. Nonetheless, I need to be I am off to prepare.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

We're off to Maine for a wedding.

Back on Monday. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Thoughts on New Orleans

As I gape at the images from the Gulf Coast, especially the chaos and anarchy that is consuming New Orleans, I keep thinking that we need to send the National Guard and the military there to impose order.

Then I remember they are all busy doing that in Iraq.

The National Guard is supposed to be our resource for a rainy day when things don't go well in our country. The rainy day has come and gone, but we have squandered our resources and our safety net. Those responsible, however, will not be held accountable - unfortunately.

More thoughts later.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Meet Barney

Meet Barney

As per popular request, I am posting more dog pictures.

This is my mother's new dog. His unfortunate name was my fault. When I saw a picture of him I commented that he reminded me of Barney Rubble from the Flintstones: a little guy with a big head. His former name was Brownie, but my mom did not like it. Barney was close enough and she liked it, so it stuck. I guess it is better than Stumpy, which was a name floated around. I tried to sell her on Tlaloc later on, but failed.

Meet Barney Posted by Picasa

Barney II Posted by Picasa

Can you figure out what kind of mix he is? I still think he is Shepherd and Corgi, but who knows.

Monday, August 29, 2005


My energy reserves are running low.

As you probably have guessed, detox is over. We celebrated by getting a pizza - I got a simple margherita (fresh mozarella, tomato, and basil).

I have enjoyed having bread again. And chocolate. And dairy.

Do I feel any different? No. I certainly don't feel "cleansed". It was good to do, nonetheless. I find it helpful to take some time to re-evaluate everything I am putting in my body and why.

The end of the summer is here and thus begins the period of running around for us academics. The bliss of denial is no longer with us (that is, the "oh, I still have all summer to get that done" attitude).

I was invited to give a paper at a conference in Washington DC at the end of September. It will be a good conference to go to. I will be able to network a little - a good thing since I am on the job market- and I will be able to meet with some publishers to see what kind of interest there is in my dissertation. Still, that means I have to put together a presentation for the conference - more work.

Tomorrow I head down to Providence to meet with my old graduate advisor. This man is the type of person that writes a book (a good one at that) a year. Although I know that he is an academic super-human, it still makes me feel inadequate when I meet with him. I feel like I should be more productive in my academic career and that this career is going to stall for lack of such productiveness. Nonetheless, he has been kind and helpful to me, and it is in my best interests to keep in touch with him.

On top of this - Zephyr seems to have injured herself. She yelps anytime she brings her head up when she is lying on her side. I had hoped she would get better with some time. After a couple of days of no improvement, I took her to the vet. As I suspected it is a pulled muscle in her neck. She got some steroids to help it heal quicker - good thing she is not racing anymore, she would have been accused of doping. Not good in these days when baseball is under scrutiny and Lance Armstrong is out defending his honor.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Poor New Orleans

Things don't look good for the Big Easy. I am glad we had a chance to visit before it becomes the Venice of America.

  • After this I don't think they are going to sell Katrina and the Waves at any of the music stores down there. It will either bring back bad memories of destruction or the susto they got.
  • Maybe people in Lousiana will start believing in Global Warming and elect people that might do something about it (it doesn't seem to have happened in Florida and Alabama).
  • Now I bet the people down there wished they had not destroyed as much of the wetlands as they have (wetlands function as a protective barrier against storm surges).
  • Perhaps some of the Cajuns will move back up to Maine and the Canadian Maritimes (where they once came from and were formally known as Acadians). I sure would like that - I like their culture and their food. It would be nice to have it closer by.
I do hope for the best, which at this time just means that the storm center will track to the east of the city. This would mean that the winds would come off the land, pushing the storm surge away from the coast.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Why I am happy I don't live in Mexico City anymore (part 1)...

Why I am happy I don't live in Mexico City anymore (part 1)...

Mexico City Air Posted by Picasa

Picture from here. I will post and comment on more of these photos later.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Detox - Day 5

Detox - Day 5

Weight: 233
BF: 28%

I am looking forward to the end of this. Feeling better today, but no better than I did before I started this thing.

I really miss having choices.

Today I went in to the department where I am going to work. A friend of Sara's got hired there for a full-time tenure track position. I ran into her while I was there and had a nice chat. We decided to go to the student center cafeteria for lunch. My choices were severely limited. At first I thought I could get a veggie wrap, but, wait, I can't have wheat. Soups were all meat based. Things were looking grim, but fortunately there was a salad bar with a few options. They also had bottled carrot juice and they had apples. So I was able to put a meal together.

I had heard that there is a store I like, Wild Oats, near where I will be teaching. I went by to see exactly where it is and check it out. It is close and it will be convenient to pick up things on my way home from work (if I drive). I bought a few things while I was there, but it was hard not buying a lot of things I am not supposed to eat.

Tomorrow will be the last day of this. I know it supposed to be seven days, but I think I have had enough. I will continue to eat in moderate amounts and I will slowly reintroduce foods. I think I will continue to take some of the supplements (since we have them, we might as well use them).


Accupuncture update.

Yesterday evening one of the places where I had a needle got swollen and hurt for a couple of hours. It was quite strange. I did feel slightly euphoric as I went to bed and I did sleep well. I haven't noticed any major changes today. Again, it is hard to tell what corresponds to what since I am subjecting my body to numerous things right now.

I am more intregued and curious to see how the process progresses.

I'm hungry. Off to find some fruit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I fought the Law and...

...I won! I heard back today from the Town of Brookline that my parking ticket has been dismissed. I really thought that I would have to pay it, especially as I was opening the envelope. It was a nice suprise.

Case closed!!!
Detox - Day 4

Weight: 232
BF: 27%

No real news. I feel about the same as I did yesterday. I am still hungry fairly frequently and fruit and veggies just don't seem to satiate me.

Last night, in a half-kidding mode, I told Sara I was really looking forward to retoxing.

This should be a step in the direction of a healthy life, but I still believe that moderation is key. I also believe in choosing quality over quantity. I do need to become more active. I am looking to enroll in a yoga class and I am searching for a tai chi class as well. I am walking more because the dogs force me to. However, when autumn and winter roll around I don't think any of us will be too eager to head outside. I will have to keep on doing it, though, even if the dogs choose to stay home.

Along that vein, I had my first accupuncture appointment today - actually a few hours ago. I won't go into the symptoms I am having treated today. I went in with an open mind, not sure what to expect. While I tend to side with certain aspects of medical science, I also believe that doctors in this country are part of a very miopic culture that is more and more being dominated by commercial interests (read pharmaceuticals and insurance providers). I don't blame the doctors themselves for I have know some medical doctors and I know they work very hard and do have the patients interests at heart. However, I also believe that they are limited as to by what they can do and how they must practice by the larger system.

Now as to alternative medicine, I believe there are multiple ways of healing (and what we should actually be aiming at - staying healthy) and I am in favor of exploring these avenues as a holistic approach to medicine. That said, I also think there are many scam artists and self-deceived individuals who are out to push alternatives for their own benefit. So I proceed with caution and skepticism.

One way to put it is that I believe in the shaman, but only if the shaman is invested in my well-being. This includes the shaman being willing to say, "I don't know." You could also substitute doctor for shaman.

Ok, enough of a disclaimer. Accupuncture: how was it?

Interesting. The pressure points are sensitive areas and my body was stimulated when the practicioner inserted the needles. It did something. Of course it is much to early to know whether the something will have the intended consquence of addressing the issues I went in for, but I am inclined to be optimistic about it.

Most needles did not hurt going in. It felt like when you have an annoying tag on your clothes poking you. A few did hurt and some I did not feel at all. Once they were in, I hardly noticed them. Occasionally one would hurt a little or itch, but it would go away. I did notice a sensation of energy spreading from the point - kind of like an electrical impulse. It was strange, rather pleasant I would say. I did not feel the needles coming out, except for the one on my forhead. That one did hurt, but the pain was fleeting.

My next appointment is not for two weeks - so it will be a long wait for part two, but I am already looking forward to it.

Back to detox - we are going to cheat a little more for dinner tonight. I forgot to defrost the fish for dinner, so I thought, "Hmmm, maybe we could go out for sushi."

The menu for tonight was to be fish, brown rice, and veggies. Sushi is close. Ok, white rice that is sweetened is not the same as brown rice, but we can have fish and seaweed (we can also order seaweed salad). So two out of three isn't bad, right? I ran the idea by Sara and she agreed.

I am getting very tired of the same diet over and over again. I miss bread, I miss pasta, I miss cheese, I miss yogurt, I miss chocolate, I miss cereal, I miss variety.

Variety and moderation (except for chiles, of course) - that is my new mantra.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Detox - Day 3

Weight: 233
BF: 27

I am back among the living. Although I must admit we cheated a bit. I would not say we fell off the wagon, but we dangled off the side a bit.

Last night I could not stand my headache anymore so I took some asprin. It helped, a little - enough to get me to sleep. Sara had a more difficult time: read her account if you are interested. This morning we decided that we would bend the rules some more. Here is how:
  • We can have a little coffee in the morning (I had half a cup, Sara one).
  • Hot peppers are now allowed.
  • So are nuts.
  • Sara is dropping the weird supplements.
  • We might re-introduce other foods as the week progresses - although we are going to stay away from sugar, wheat, corn, dairy, and meat (I know fish is a meat, but you know what I mean).
I think these are sensible amendments. We are detoxing, not torturing ourselves.

As to how I feel, the fog has lifted. My stamina is still a little low. I have gone from craving sugar to craving fresh baked bread. Ice cream and chocolate are also sorely missed (but that is to be expected in any normal human). Yes, I do realize that those are sugar bearing foods, but I think I would have them even without the sugar.

The thing that has surprised me the most so far is that I had expected to spend much more time in the bathroom. That hasn't been the case. Actually my visits have been more numerous, but that is to take care the other business - a result from the increased intake of liquids.

Tomorrow we are both aiming to take on a work routine. I need to go into the department and Sara is going into her office. Hopefully all will go well.

In other news (I know the world doesn't stop just because I am detoxing):
  • I have my first ever accupuncture appointment tomorrow - the whys and hows are for a story to be told at a different time.
  • My best friend from college is having his first baby (yes, it is his wife that is having the baby, but again, you know what I mean).
  • My mother got another dog (her second). I will post a picture of it here soon. It is an odd looking dog. It has a huge head on a medium-sized body and he has stumpy legs. My guess it that it is a mix between a German Shepherd and a Corgi. I will let that image ruminate through your head before I post the picture.
One again thank you all for your comments, suggestions, and words of encouragement.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Detox - Day 2 (Part 2)

I am in pain. So is Sara.

We are dealing with some really bad headaches. Mine seems to shoot up my neck and up and around over the top of my skull. Sara's is a throbbing one which gets worse if she moves around.

Although the rules don't allow it, I am seriously tempted to take some asprin.

The meals were better today. I made some lentil stew with veggies and tumeric and cinnamon seasoning for lunch. Dinner was some Tilapia with tumeric, lemon, and basil, arrugula salad with radishes, strawberries, and blueberries and a lemon-basil dressing.

I had to make a run to Trader Joe's to get some more fruit. That was a test of my will power. As I went in, a woman was walking out with a very nice looking bagette. In the store the fruits are right next to the cheese display. I was good: no snacking, tasting, sampling, or stealing.

Mentally I seem to be more alert, but that just makes me more aware of this stupid headache.

As part of the program we are doing stretches and hydrotherapy. Our tub doesn't really work (not that I would fit in it anyway), so we just have to make do with the shower.

This whole process would be easier if we could actually do it at Canyon Ranch where it is part of a program. There others worry about your food, there are scheduled yoga classes, and you are not exposed to all sorts of tempting images, smells, and foods. Of course, we cannot afford that..

Thank you everyone for the support and ideas. At this point I need all the help/best wishes I can get. Off to drink some water...
Detox - Day 2

Weight: 232.6 pounds
BF: 25 %

I don't feel so good. I have a headache and my body aches, especially the back of my legs. I still feel like I am in a fog. I wonder how much of this is psychosomatic. I have gone days before without coffee and not felt this way. I have also eaten a "healthy diet" for a stretch of time without falling into this state.

I do notice the tension that was in my back, neck, and shoulders more now. Thinking that a massage might help ease this, I looked up massage in the local neighborhood phone book. It had two listings: one was for so-and-so physical therapy and the other was for "Sensual Alluring Ladies". Sara objected to my checking them out. She right, I am in no shape to get arrested right now.

As to the details of the detox program we are doing. It is one designed by Mark Hyman, M.D. who is the medical director at Canyon Ranch Spa in the Berkshires. A while back we read a book he co-authored called Ultraprevention, which we liked and thought made sense.

Need to run...more later.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Detox - Day 1 (Part II)

I am STARVING! Ok, not starving, but really hungry. We had salmon, brown rice, green beans, and carrot juice for dinner. So it was more like a regular meal, but somehow still not satisfying.

Hardest part of this:
1. No sugar. Yes, I have a sweet tooth and I am feeling it now.
1. b) Right behind no sugar - no peppers/spiciness. Dinner would have been improved ten fold if I could have put some hot peppers, chile sauce, or salsa on my food.

We managed to get out of the house. Sara wanted to go to a fabric store and I had no better suggestion, so that's where we went. While Sara looked at yarn and beads, I spaced out sitting at a table with pattern catalogues, occasionally being startled back into consciousness by some screaming child or some loud woman. After this draining excursion, I came home and took a long nap. Naps are good. Everyone should still have nap time.

The dogs got walked right before dinner. I honestly don't remember much of it other than we saw a cat with what appeared to be a field mouse or wood rat in its mouth. Of course Mr. Cat Hunter became the hunted as both dogs made an attempt to make it the victim. Mr. Cat Hunter can thank the leashes for its longevity.

I hope tomorrow is easier than today. I will try being a little more creative with the menu, but the options are quite limited. This detox really better work...

Day One
Weight: 236 pounds
Body Fat 25 percent (according to our crappy scale, which I don't trust one bit).

Breakfast: Lemon juice in hot water, fruit shake with rice protein powder and flax.

Snack: Fruit shake, mint blend tea

Lunch: Brown rice, brocolli rabe with tumeric and garlic, vegetable broth, carrot juice, and a mango.

Thoughts: It is strange going from eating for pleasure to eating for fuel/nutrients. I mean generally my diet involves a combination of the two. I find it sad when the highlight food of your day has been brown rice - I did think that before I had the mango, which was pretty good.

In fact, after lunch, my exact thoughts were: "that was unpleasant."

I do feel a little "spacy" and fatigued but not as bad as I thought I would. So far I have not experienced the "coffee withdrawal headache".

The only other thought I have had is that I have noticed how unsweet everything tastes. I already knew that I have an adiction to sugar and sweets. I am just realizing how sweet foods dominate most of my diet.

I don't know for how long we will keep this up, but we have planned for a week. We'll see how it goes.

Friday night we went to a concert. We saw Gogol Bordello, which is a difficult band to describe - they refer to themselves as Gypsy Punk. Opening for them were Reverend Glasseye and Throw Rag. I liked the first band a lot. They were quite original and the bass player was excellent. The second band was not my cup of tea - too punk without the angst.

I like Gogol Bordello a lot, but I did not enjoy the concert. I guess it is because I am a stiff square. First, it was generally too loud. Second, the bass overpowered all the other instruments - which are worth hearing. But the most annoying thing is the people. I don't enjoy having to shove drunk people off of me or have them spill their drinks on me. In a certain sense, it is interesting to watch if you can distance yourself enough. There was one guy who was barely standing flopping around like a fish. It seemed like he was alone. What drives someone to that state and that behavior. There was another woman, who also seemed to be alone, who seemed to be having orgasms to the music.

We have tickets to another concert: Bloc Party. We will probably also go to Bauhaus in November. I was thinking of going to see Rusted Root in October - I would have to go on my own because Sara doesn't like them all that much. However, after the experience on Friday I am having second thoughts. I am not sure why I can't enjoy concerts like other people. Everyone else seemed to be having fun. Oh well...