Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yoga Hurt

My mind jumbles easily.  I often have multiple thoughts on various tasks colliding in my mind  like multi-colored bumper-cars on an amusement park ride. I search out activities that help me clear my mind and provide it with much needed rest.  One such activity that clears my mind is golf.  I feel incredibly cliche' about becoming a Texas golfer but I'm hooked.  The reason I love golf is because when I set up for a shot I can't think about anything but that shot or my game is doomed. 

Fast forward a year later, and three days before my 35th birthday, to an evening complaining about getting older.  My knees now make all manner of noises when I stand up and my hamstrings are so tight I can barely sit Indian style anymore.  I mentioned off-handedly to my wife that a co-worker has tried to convince me to try Yoga for flexibility and I continually refuse.  She tells me that it is probably a good idea and I scoff - which is my usual reaction to avoid doing something I fear. 

Why do I fear Yoga?  It starts in High School - as most of my neurosis do - when the guys were brought up from the gym for an aerobics class.  Complaining and joking all the way up the stairs with my buddies, we arrived and proceeded to get our a$$e$ kicked.  I had no idea how much strength it took to sit against a wall and my balance resembles a walrus practicing on a beach ball for the circus.  I am not going to repeat that embarrassment for any amount of money. However, thanks to Netflix you can embarrass yourself in the comfort of your own home. 

Netflix streaming has an array of several yoga training videos and so - at 10:00 pm - we settle down for a relaxing evening of yoga.  Ten minutes into the exercise I'm sweating like a pig, parts of me I didn't even know I had hurt, and I discover that my balance - if it can be believed - is worse than in high school.  Twenty minutes in I'm improving, slightly, and a funny thing happens - my mind clears.  I cannot balance on one foot with my ankle resting on my knee and my arms wrapped like Madonna in her Vogue video without complete concentration - who knew?  Forty minutes into the video we are doing the last steps of cooling down and relaxing breathing - which is impossible when you are re-living your defibrillator training from work as you exhibit the symptoms of the victim. 

When everything is over, I can't help thinking about how nice it was to have my mind cleared for a short time. That evening and the next day my thoughts are more organized and I don't feel as jumbled because my brain got a breather (no pun intended - never mind, I totally intended that pun).  Now I'm at the end of the day and my mind is jumbled again and it's too late and dark to golf.  If I buy a unitard someone please shoot me.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pad Thai Traveler

My favorite thing to eat when traveling is Thai food. It is sometimes difficult to find but always worth it. Of all the places I've been for work and play only one city was unable to deliver - Chattanooga, Tennessee. They tried but the concierge mistook an Indian restaurant for Thai food. The Palak Paneer was good there, but I was hoping for Pad Thai. I haven't been travelling for work much lately - thank heavens - and have missed my standard dish. I decided to make it myself tonight. I found this recipe several years ago and it is simple, but very good. The recipe follows the picture - enjoy!

1/3 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
1 Tablespoon Red Chili Paste (more if you like it with more heat - I use Sriracha Sauce)
1 Tablespoon grated ginger root
3 Cloves of garlic (minced or crushed)

Combine peanut butter and soy sauce and mix until combined.  Add rice vinegar, sesame oil, red chili paste, ginger root, and garlic.  Mix until combined.  Set aside.

8-10 oz Linguine, spaghetti, or rice noodles
1 pound broccoli flowerets
1/2 pound carrots sliced
Shrimp or Extra Firm Tofu (this recipe uses Tofu and the preparation is included below)
4 scallions (chopped)

Bring a large amount of water to a boil in a 4 quart pan.  Add pasta and carrots and cook for 5 minutes, add broccoli and cook for another 5 minutes.  If using shrimp add them with the broccoli and cook for the full 5 minutes or until pink.  Drain the pasta and vegetable mixture and put it back in the pan.  Add the sauce and scallions and toss until coated.  Serve warm.

For Tofu:

Wrap Extra Firm Tofu in two paper towels and set something heavy on it to squeeze water from the brick.  This takes appoximately 30 minutes and you can prepare the rest of the meal while you wait.  Put a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet and fry it on all sides.  Cube it and add it at the end when you are tossing everything together.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Slump 101

We all have slumps and I'm having one.  Life fell out of orbit a few days ago.  I stopped writing daily because I didn't know what to write next.  I hit a wall and rather than pull out the sledgehammer and start swinging I walked away. 
I started sleeping longer, eating more than I should, skipping the gym, and generally fell apart.  Why?  I figured it out while golfing yesterday.  
Golf has a huge mental component to it.  I'm still new to the game and am trying to break 100 this year.  I was playing well yesterday and then my game went south.  I decided I wasn't breaking 100 today and gave up trying thinking that would help me relax.  Did my game improve?  Nope.  It got worse.   I still needed to finish so I pressed forward.  
After a couple more bad holes my game improved for no reason I could figure out.  The last hole is a par 5 and I am at 95.  I'm not good enough to ace a hole and get under 100, so that's not how this story ends.  I got 101, but that's the closest I've ever come to my goal.
I didn't need to take a break and rest or let my mind clear - I needed to keep playing.   I start my writing ritual of 1000 words a day again today and NO MORE BREAKS until I finish.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a surprisingly great read. The premise: A zombie falls in love with the living daughter of a general fighting for human survival when he saves her from a zombie attack. This premise caused me to buy the book and I'm glad I did. The story is well told, the characters are believable, and this all could have easily gone horribly wrong if not treated delicately. There were several places where I expected a cliche to creep in an ruin the story. It never did.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happily married with two wonderful children means a wonderful celebration on Mother's Day!  I have learned to love my own mother more from observing the mother of my own children.  I enjoy reading and writing about fictional characters, imbued with personality flaws, and struggling to learn how to overcome the trials that confront them.  Some characters never learn from their mistakes and endure unnecessary pain through their unwitting mistakes or stubbornness.  However, this is fiction and the reader can always close the book. 

Mother's are in charge of creating the character of their children.  They are responsible for helping them navigate their personality flaws and struggles so that they become good people capable of navigating this sometimes cruel world.  This is not fiction and they do not get to choose when to close the book and deal with problems at a more convenient time.  They also don't have the option of putting the book down permanently because they don't like what they are reading.  Thank you to my own mother, the mother of my children, and all the mothers out there who continue to read and write the stories they brought into this world. 

In our house most holidays, including Mother's Day, are celebrated with food.  Specifically, dinner and dessert.  The honored guest chooses the menu.  We recently purchased an outdoor grill and my wife wanted me to use it for her holiday.  Dad did the cooking, with the help of the children.  We enjoyed steak, shrimp, broccoli (everyone knows mom chose this item), and a brown rice salad.  Dessert was gone before Dad could take a picture, but it was Lemon Meringue Pie. 


Friday, May 6, 2011

My Own Worst Enemy!

I have often thought that the thing standing in the way of what I want is me.  As the blog states, I have two obsessions (food and fiction).  These happen to be my two most ardent weaknesses as well.  My wife is currently reading a book called Potatoes not Prozac.  A small battery of tests last night has convinced me I am "sugar sensitive", which is a nice way of saying I'm a junk food addict.  I wage war each day against my own appetite to avoid a host of diet related diseases and the other harms of poor diet.

My fiction weakness is the opposite problem.  While I can't get enough sweets I can always find something other than writing the fiction I so desire.  I want to write novel length fiction to show that I can do it and because I would love to have a novel, no matter how amateur, associated with my name.  Despite this strong desire I sometimes need to be forced into my office to move my story forward.  My fear of failure or the task at hand often halts my progress. 

The best antidote for my self-destructive behavior resides with my wife who pushes me when necessary and my children who help me remember that life is not something to be taken too seriously.  I am thankful each day for family.