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Fat Chance.

In my never ending quest to figure out what the hell my problem with eating is… I found the book Fat Chance on the library shelves last week. This was a week or so after watching a movie called Hungry for Change (available on Netflix and highly recommended as well).

ImageHere’s the deal: Much as I love the four hour guy and all his craziness, I cannot quit eating all carbohydrates and start eating all protein. It makes me sick. And if it makes me sick, I refuse to believe that this is what my body wants. And as my stepmother says, a life without bread is not a life worth living. I agree. I would also say that neither is a life without apples. On the other hand, a live without white-flour bread is just fine fine fine. And apples.

Here’s what I’ve figured out: If I quit eating sugar–yes, all sugar and all white processed things– except for one teaspoon in the morning in my coffee (one cup only, down from three with a tablespoon each in them)– I stop craving sugar and white processed things. I also stop eating lots of food in general. And wanting lots of food. I started doing this a week before I found this book (after watching the movie) and lo and behold, three days later, went to a party and did not even want to eat cookies. You would have to know more about my relationship with cookies to get how unbelievably crazy this is. Let’s just say that last Thursday after my sugar fast was kind of kerfuffled up by Christmas (though not nearly as bad as it would have been), I ate five of my aunt’s gingersnaps in an hour. Five may not sound like a lot, but frankly, I’d already eaten most of the bag and these were the last five, so I couldn’t technically eat more. I would have. The next day I went back on the sugar fast again and the cravings have gone away again. (Much much easier the second time.)

That’s what this book is about. How sugar is as addictive as alcohol. How badly it messes with your hormones and insulin and leptin responses that frankly, you’re so screwed there’s no way out by trying real hard. How MSG actually is what they inject mice with to make them eat until they are obese so they can test stuff about obesity. Because otherwise mice won’t eat themselves fat. Seems cruel–food manufacturers are doing it to us. And hiding it–guess how many different names MSG is hidden under. Just Google it. It’s crazy. Side story: A family friend took my daughter to the store today and Michelle bought chips and dip to take to a bible study. The dip actually has Monosodium glutamate on the label. I said: “This is exactly why you can’t stop eating this crap.” Michelle said: “Heather called it crack.” (Closer to the truth than imaginable.) Helluva Good, I think not.

Anyway, read the book. Get off the sugar and white processed things for three days. See what happens. And read the book. You want to know this stuff. I have to admit too: I read Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories and his follow up to that, and he says a lot of the same thing. I wasn’t ready to do it then. I wanted it to be about something else. It’s not.

I will tell you about the green smoothie adventure soon. I know you can’t wait for this one.

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Long absence

Nobody's Hero for Kindle ImageI’ve been really neglecting this blog, but every now and then, somebody sends me a comment, usually something along the lines of “Thanks! Now I can listen to Chamillionaireon my Net10 Phone!” To which I say, One Minute Dance Party! (I always think of that now because of 30 Rock.)

This makes me think that maybe I should stop slacking. But blog posters are very prolific and I have no intentions of being a daily poster. On the other hand, how do you keep people reading without new content? This is the quandry which caused me to just abandon the thing. There must be a word for abandoned blogs– if not, we should make one up. But it’s too early right now.

I do have news, in that I posted one of my novels at the Kindle Store on Amazon. So if you have a Kindle, if you know someone who has a Kindle, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch (or if you know someone… ) Or if you don’t mind reading novels on your laptop… Here’s the link. Nobody’s Hero

Maxed Out!

Here’s a guy who was studying hard, long before the teacher announced there’d be a test– James Scurlock, author of the companion volume to his documentary, both entitled Maxed Out.  Anyone who’s held a credit card in their hot little hands probably knows the subject of these projects, but what’s amazing is the prescience with which Scurlock announced the house of cards Americans were living in. I haven’t seen

Maxed Out

the film yet, it’s on hold at the library, but I read the book last night and today, and with a copyright date of 2007, plus the lag time of the publishing industry, you have to be sort of astonished at the questions Scurlock asks. Questions like: how long can we sustain this faulty American Dream of living on credit, backed up only by the illusion that home prices only ever go up?

The answer, as it turns out, is until about the middle of 2008. 

Reading the last chapter made me recall the days when I’d get credit card offers, with limits up to about $10,000. I’d open them up and shake my head, asking my husband if these people realized that I didn’t have a job. The answer, of course, is yes, they knew all the important things like that, because credit isn’t based on your ability to repay it, the way it used to be, it’s based on your history of making payments on the debt. I remember when my mother couldn’t get a credit card, because she was divorced, because she didn’t make all that much money, because it would be difficult for her to pay back the unsecured loan. I often wonder how much better off we were growing up that way. I didn’t have everything I wanted– white leather Nike’s with a powder blue swoosh come to mind immediately–but in the early years my mom’s little family wasn’t given the opportunity to overextend ourselves to the point of collapse. We couldn’t buy a house for years, because she couldn’t qualify for a mortgage that she couldn’t repay. Not a problem anymore, in the days–or maybe they’re now the former days?– of interest only, creative financing. If home prices were limited to a person’s actual ability to repay a mortgage, they never would have flown so high in the first place, would they? Okay, you wouldn’t have made a couple hundred thousand on your 4,000 square foot house in Vegas in one year’s time, but then again, you wouldn’t be heading to bankruptcy court either… unless maybe that new law means you can’t do that either.

The problem is, as Scurlock says in his book, bankers used to understand that simple truth of human nature: If you give someone credit, they will probably use it.  And if you give them more credit, and more and more, then you create a trap that Scurlock descriptively refers to as the bear-trap–I’ve seen a picture of one of those things, and felt it from Citi, Chase, and all the others. I commented to my husband last night that there’s nothing so peaceful as sitting in a financial firestorm with no debt outside of a reasonable mortgage, and money in the bank. Not enough money, he pointed out. Where’s your Dave Ramsey fully funded emergency fund? Working on it.

In the end of the book, the funny part is… well, funny might not be the word exactly…that all the regulations that banks once were forced to operate under –you have to read this book to remember them– were largely put in place to protect banks, to protect consumers, and they were instituted as a result of, well, the Great Depression, and the fallout of unregulated lending of that infamous era.

God willing, we’re headed back to a time of better regulation. For now, I’m heading over to Americans for Fairness in Lending to see what else there is to do. The only people who don’t have lobbyists are the ones with illegal arbitration clauses in their credit card agreements.

By the way, if you’re in Ohio and you haven’t voted yet, the correct answer is Yes on Issue 5.

oh my goodness.. it’s Erin Hunter

Quite a thrill

Quite a thrill

Yesterday was the most exciting day of my daughter’s young life. Yes, Victoria Holmes, aka, Erin Hunter was in town, and for nearly three hours we were permitted to bask in her glory.

If you don’t know who Erin Hunter is, you must not be spending much time with any tweens lately. Erin is the main author and originator of the Warriors series, which causes eleven-year-old girls to spend inordinate amounts of time on YouTube making tribute videos to Firestar and other Warrior cats with similarly bizarre names. (Fun fact—Victoria is tired of coming up with these names so now the fans create them for her. Someone compiles all the suggestions into a spreadsheet and when she needs a new cat name, she just opens up the spreadsheet and picks one.) Videos are produced while waiting for new books in the series. I just found out there’s a Warriors Wiki out there in cyberspace.

I planned to bring my own reading for this event (The Good Guy by Dean Koontz, very nice), but it turns out Victoria Holmes is British, which is always fun to listen to, she’s absolutely hilarious, and she talks to children like they’re adults, which was a hoot. She also shushes them sharply when they talk out of turn. What’s not to love?

And she dislikes cats immensely. Nasty little creatures, she called them. The kids she called greedy, which is why she has to have help churning out these books.

I wish I had an idea for children’s books, just to get those rapt adoring fans. That was something to see.

Cover to Cover, waiting for a signature

Cover to Cover, waiting for a signature

Oxygen

In the never-ending quest to find a really great novel, I tend to consume a lot. I don’t consume much junk–at least by my definition–anymore, because one day I finally stopped finishing everything I started. There’s not as much time left, and I guess I subconsciously knew that.

And every once in a while I find one that sucks me in and makes me stay up too late, read during the daytime (a strict ban in my life) and parks me on the couch when I should be doing something else like cleaning this rathole up before my mother shows up unannounced again. Or worse, my aunt.

Slick was that kind of novel. That one kept me reading through dinner, which is not technically allowed in my house. I try not to break the rules I make too often, because it sort of usurps my own authority, but with Daniel Price’s hilarity rising to yet another crescendo every time I turned a page, I pressed on in anticipation and fixed the behavior problems of the family later. Besides, at that rate of reading, we’re only talking about checking out for a day and a half. That was four years ago. (UPDATE 3/1/17– Slick went out of print and Daniel Price bought the rights back, published it for the Kindle and made some changes. Buy it, read it. I mean it. This is the best news all week.)

This week, joy of joys, I found Oxygen. The irony here was I had just finished reading Pushed, a non-fiction work subtitled “The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care.” Having birthed the last two babies at home myself, this was right up my alley. But it must be said that coming off the dim view of doctors to pick up a novel about a doctor, a doctor involved in a medical malpractice suit over the death of a young girl– an anesthesiologist no less, one of those doctors who in her spare time performs epidurals on laboring women in too much pain from Pit Drips to survive another second– it’s a testament to Ms. Cassella’s golden keyboards that she sucked me into the hospital again, willingly and enthusiastically.

Try reading the first page and see if her words of breathing don’t make you want more. There’s a wonderful story behind that, full of description that set my writers’ envy on full tilt, characters who have depth and breadth of fully human beings, and a gut wrenching ending that a writer with less courage would never have inflicted on her heroine.

In my opinion, few have deserved to reach that fairyland world of published fiction more in years.

Sigler Fools Day–the Adventure Begins

April 1st dawned gray and chilly, but the dreariness of the Ohio weather would not dampen our enthusiasm nor deter us from our mission. The schedule was packed full; only a brief half-hour available at noon to fulfill our quest. A scramble of activity before and after, but the mission deserved our sacrifices, and Scott Sigler, our unwavering devotion.

Soon, we spotted the destination, the site where the dawning of the new era would be manifested. There was no parade, no brass band playing to herald the arrival of the new age. All appeared less than extraordinary.

Arrival

We knew different. Inside, we checked the places of honor, disappointed that the likes of lesser artists were displayed in plain view. Even the custodians of the symbol of the new dynasty seemed unaware of the true value of the object we sought, the true value of what they stored inside their sacred walls, blind to the power it represented, and frankly, not even certain of its exact location.

But we would be deterred. Like all great pieces of art, its worth was under appreciated and underestimated. Perhaps our seeking demonstrated to the custodians that proper respect should be paid. (Or at least slightly rearranging the table to move the stack of books to the corner spot. It was something.)

Our quest was over. The new era has begun. We have witnessed –and help to make– history in a Barnes and Noble’s bookstore.

We are INFECTED.

already looking a little scary

rainy hair day, but worth it

Sorry for the laziness

I didn’t even want to look at the last time I posted here, it’d just make me feel guilty. I’ve been flip-flopping between writing this book– or ditching it and writing another one I’m thinking about– or pushing everybody involved to get the podcast going on my second novel. So as is par for the course for me, I’m sort of doing all three and not very well.

I think since I’m feeling ambivalent about Iced Out, which is normal midway through a novel, I’m losing touch with it. Also got stuck, so that’s probably why I started feeling ambivalent in the first place. Then since I was stuck, the question was whether I should even be doing any of this, is it worth the effort, am I any good at all, yada yada. My friend Nick calls all this boring-to-everyone-in-earshot garbage “Artist’s Angst.” He’s a singer/songwriter and very experienced in the condition and its symptoms, and since he’s actually quite wonderful at what he does, I imagine there’s no correlation between the angst and ability levels. Or maybe it’s inverse– considering the number of people who get rejected at American Idol tryouts, all the while protesting: “I know I can sing!”

I know I can’t sing, so I’m angst-free on that front. As for the writing front, I can’t say.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d throw up a chapter, see if anyone cared, and then make some pizza for my kids.

I will be blogging soon– with pictures this time– because Scott Sigler’s amazing novel Infected will be in bookstores on April 1st. Danny & I are going to B&N on his lunch hour to buy it and prove to Scott that even Buckeye fans have their good points too.

Okay, here it is: Lucky 13. As it turns out, this is kind of lucky, because this scene was the first one I thought of, before I had an idea for the book. My friend Lennox once made a comment about wanting to be in a movie where all his character did was make funny comments about what was going on around him. Whether Henry has turned out to be funny is not a question for me to answer, but I woke up in the middle of the night soon after, with an image of three guys sitting in a restaurant booth, griping about the weather. What the hell they were doing there, I didn’t know until quite some time later, but fortunately I wrote it down that night.

If you like it, let me know! Iced Out, Chapter 13