Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's good to be home!


I've officially been home for two weeks now, and the novelty still hasn't worn off. I was in the beginning of the unpacking stages at the time of my last post, and it wasn't pretty for a while... but thanks to my 5 day weekend, I was able to get fairly settled in and have some much needed recuperation time. Look, I even cleared the living room after emptying all my bags in front of a Hoarders marathon!
A shoddy representation of my living room before and after unpacking

What else did I do on my five-day Andrea weekend in Huntsville? I deep-cleaned the kitchen, washed and vacuumed my car, did some training for my next race, went to couple of amazing Bikram classes at the new hot yoga studio in town, and slept... a LOT. All much needed, and incredibly enjoyable.


One of the best parts of being home has been the fact that I can hang out with my friends after work, spend time with my family on the weekends, and chase my dog around the house (she secretly loves this). The fact that my little brother is home for the summer has made it even better! He's so close in age to me that he generally acts like the older sibling, but we (usually) get along incredibly well. We joke that we have the weirdest family dynamic- he's a conservative Beef Cattle Nutrition major, while I'm the crazy vegan liberal. Somehow we make it work, and our relationship is absolutely perfect.

Aside from family time, I've gotten to play with some of my favorite people in Huntsville these past few weeks. My good friend Meghan and I had a fun meal at Pane e Vino, a cute little pizza cafe at the art museum downtown, and then went back to her house to watch True Blood. Earlier in the week, she had taped a giant Justin Bieber poster to her roommate's door, and unwittingly started a war with the male victims. When we pulled in to the house, there was something different about the yard...

The bottle of Coors Lite was a nice touch, boys...
Every month, my coworkers Amber, Kellie and I make it a point to go to dinner together and catch up on non-work things. We ate at my favorite Huntsville restaurant, 1892 East (which I think I've blogged about at least 4 times now), but nothing on the dessert menu struck our fancy. So we grabbed ice cream afterwards instead, and Amber showed us the correct posture for avoiding the dreaded cookie-dough-on-the-shirt when you're eating an ice cream cone.

It's all in the strategy


I joke that I'm the worst vegan ever because I'm deathly afraid of a lot of veggies. I can eat salad all day long, but the list of things I won't eat is rather lengthy. But in order to stay healthy and get the nutrients my body needs, I know that I need to face my fear and at least try the veggies that scare me. Greens are one of these scary vegetables- I don't mean dark lettuces or spinach, those are easy. But kale, collards, bok choy- they scare me to death! So I used my mad Google-ing skills and discovered that if you put kale in the oven with some olive oil and salt, they get super crunchy, like chips! I tried it, and though they were totally weird at first, they were completely addictive and delicious.

My fear of veggies is largely a texture thing, and the crunchiness of these totally put that to bed. I used Alicia Silverstone's recipe, but there's tons of ways to make these fun, like tossing them in dressing with different spices.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Out of Oklahoma

I’m not going to lie- my last two weeks in Oklahoma were a rough few. My attitude towards everything was, well, terrible. I could try and blame it on the weather (106 F every day) or my 7-day-a-week work schedule, but I think the real issue was the fact that I was just homesick. I missed my dog, my bed, and just the idea of having a home. And then my angry side won out (“I’ve been in a hotel room 45% of the year so far? Who signed me up for this job?”), and thankfully, rational-Andrea decided not to blog during this period.
...and that's just since January!

I’ve been home a whole 2 days, and thankfully I’ve dug out of the self-pity hole and gotten a grip. I’ve realized:               
  • I, in fact, was the one who signed me up for my job.
  • I love my job, even when I articulate otherwise.
  • That even though being away for long periods of time isn’t easy, the soldiers I’m with every day have it infinitely harder than I do. They have babies, other careers, and are prepared to be in a warzone for a year.
And once again, I’m humbled by the people around me. A common theme, for which I’m very grateful.
Like I mentioned, I can always count on my “kids” to cheer me up, and this trip has been no exception. The unit I worked with had some of the most hilarious and kind people I’ve ever met, and all of them were nothing but sweet to me. Several of them are now people I can call my friends… and friends do nice things to each other. Like have them captured and interrogated. Right?

Before being waterboarded with a bottle of Perrier
One of my kids, Chas, knew that I was coming to our field site that day and printed out posters warning his fellow soldiers that a known terrorist operative (me) was armed and dangerous, and was to immediately be escorted to the main operation center. I channeled my inner Nina Myers, but to no avail.

When I decided to go vegan, I knew that I had to put a lot of focus into adopting a healthy plant-based diet, and not rely on processed meatless junk food. I’ve relied heavily on Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, which emphasizes fresh vegetables, whole grains and beans and gives a well-rounded approach to a plant based diet. Following this philosophy has made me feel great, and I can’t begin to express the benefits it’s brought to my body. Within a month of changing my eating habits, my skin cleared up, I had a ton of energy, and I just looked… better.
A must-read for those interested in plant-based diets
Over the past few weeks, I’ve kept the general basis of my diet, but started adopting some unhealthy vices as a result of my stress and crankiness, like coconut-milk chocolate ice cream (nondairy but fullll of sugar) and the occasional order of french fries. I don’t attribute these to being vegan- if I still ate meat and dairy, I’d have done the same, but with Ben & Jerry’s and Chick-Fil-A nuggets alongside my fries. But now that I’m home, I’m back to focusing on Alicia’s “Superhero” foods, and I have no doubt that it’s played a major role in getting me back to normal.
PS- It’s my sweet boyfriend’s 31st birthday tomorrow (or today, where he’s at!). He has been so supportive of me through everything- always finding time to talk to me around my crazy work schedule while he’s in a warzone, and making me laugh when I feel sad and miss him like crazy. Happy birthday Jeremy, and thank you for being so wonderful to me!