Today was actually quite a good day, for a Tuesday. Since I was a little light on work, it worked out perfectly that I had some time to catch up over a nice lunch with an old friend of mine, one I don’t always get to see as much as I should but often enough that it’s always a good time.

I’m a city girl at heart, but I have a soft spot for certain charms that only the central areas of small towns seems to offer, particularly in the Southeast. Sitting in the shade on a summer day (and although it’s March, at 84 degrees, it felt like summer here in Atlanta) with a good meal, good company, or a glass of wine is a particular love of mine that I don’t easily find in the bustling metropolis-like places of the Northeast I typically so love. Listening to a mellow singer with a guitar, strolling around little independently owned shops, and enjoying the world going by is enough to make you forget just how stressful life can be, if just for a short while. In some ways, it reminds me of cities I’ve loved, like New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale, where there’s something simple and romantic in the air that appeals to someone with my imaginative, artistic temperament.

If I should leave the South, there are a few things I’ll miss…and the type of restaurant I had lunch at today (where I’ve also had dinner with The Guy I Am Currently Dating on a few occasions) reminds me of exactly what and why.

I also made myself useful around the house, digging out my much neglected Crock Pot and using some of the ingredients that may otherwise have gone to waste to create a somewhat healthy, low-glycemic version of chicken pot pie; the Southern style, served without the crust, but instead over biscuits (which I may omit entirely, as I tasted the concoction when I was finished, and it was rather rich and filling.)

I must admit, I don’t enjoy cooking or doing most domestic chores—I’ve generally made it a goal in my life to eventually make enough money that someone else can handle such things for me—but spending time doing so once in awhile is a good way to make a place you live feel a little more like home. That’s something I need right now, in the midst of a lot of insecurity.

I also have to admit that I’m rather proud of myself that my chicken pot pie came out successfully! Despite dating a few chefs, I’m not the most inclined when it comes to all things culinary, and I’m a picky eater on top of it all. While I was going through the prep work needed to make the dish (something many find relaxing, and I find tedious in every way possible), I had my computer in the living room, streaming a Muse playlist from Spotify. A friend of mine pointed out I had a kitchen Muse (*lol*), so I will credit the inspirational band for helping me not screw up my recipe for the week.

After taking care of some chores around the house, throwing everything in the Crock Pot, keeping up with e-mails, writing in my journal (today was a poem-inspired kind of day), and putting a piece of mixed media art given to me by a friend in a proper frame for hanging (yeah, I still don’t know how to do that), I felt quite accomplished on a day when most people I know were suffering due to the extreme pollen count.

In terms of pollen, “extremely high” is defined as between 500-1000. Today, Atlanta hovered around the 9,000 mark. We don’t need so many freaking trees and flowers. We are, after all, a city. :P

So, it was not surprising when, on the way to trivia, I started feeling very lightheaded, panicky, and having symptoms of what my doctors call “aura”. “Aura” freaks me out in an emotional way; my body starts to feel numb and tingly, I’ll get this floaty feeling, my vision may seem blurred or spotted or as if someone poured lead in my eye sockets, and my blood sugar typically plummets, as does my pulse rate. I then start to experience extreme anxiety, and if this problem is not addressed correctly, it can lead to a panic attack.

One of my difficult problems is that I am hypoglycemic, and while I feel like I eat a ton of food, I either in reality eat all the wrong food that doesn’t nourish my body but gives it empty calories, (lunch today consisted of half a salad with chicken, and then gluten-free chocolate cake, which I felt should be enough food to hold me over to 8 PM without incident, but it was not.), or I simply don’t eat enough. (I’ve been known to feel like 800 calories a day was binging on food.) Old me used to be able to solve this problem—my body would demand something from me, and I would eat that type of food. Ironically, since my diet has gotten healthier, my blood sugar issues have become more of an issue, because they’re not being masked by Coke and Oreos. The problem is, the medication I’m on forgets to let me know I need something—my blood sugar is too low, I’ve put off eating for too long, I’ve had too many carbs, I took my pills off-schedule–until it’s too late. The cure for this is a simple one provided by my doctor: I need to eat between 1,200-1,500 calories per day, work to build up my endurance to the weight I’ve gained via exercise, limit “bad” carbs, and eat 5-6 small portions of food per day rather than what I’ve done my whole life—eat a small lunch, pig out at dinner, and fortify myself with Coke the rest of the day.

Ironically, although the weight the medicine has put on my body is not healthy, my diet is possibly the healthiest it’s ever been. Yet, I still forget to eat enough, or enough of the proper things.

When I do this on a day when the weather plays havoc with my life, the result is simple: I have a migraine. Fortunately for me, my migraines are short-acting, and are not debilitating in the way some people experience. The scariest part is the 15-25 minutes of “aura” I will experience before the migraine, and the sense of exhaustion I feel after it is gone. The migraine itself rarely lasts more than an hour…just enough to totally screw with my day.

Today, I didn’t let it. I knew it was coming on the way to trivia, but still managed to handle the “aura” sensation without too much anxiety—a pit stop for a candy bar and an Advil helped. After that passed, I realised I was unexpectedly ravenous and needed protein; the more protein I put in my body, the better I felt. However, we didn’t do well at trivia, and that, along with the migraine, made me grumpy company. The Guy I Am Currently Dating has been extraordinarily stressed lately, and my life has just been all over the place…so I don’t often feel like we connect or talk or have things in common. Sometimes, I wonder if we even enjoy spending time together, because there seems to be this great divide between us. I so often feel like we’re not on the same page by the wonder of natural understanding that some people share, and that frustrates me. It is sometimes difficult to communicate with someone who naturally thinks and feels so differently from you, and doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say unless you explain it in detail..and even then, it’s not always so. The result has left me feeling frustrated, and rather alone and misunderstood in the world.

I was simply going to go to sleep early, but then I purchased “The Hunger Games” for my Kindle. Yes, it’s taken me 100 weeks to get around to reading it…and my inner ear problem means I can’t go to the movies, so I’ll need to wait 6-9 months to see the film on DVD. Yet, I am so shocked by how engrossing this story is. It didn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but all I keep thinking is, “Wow…this is reality TV taken to the next level.” I already know that part of me will just want to sit around for the rest of the week reading this….and then the two sequels. Grrrrr….boooks. *laughs*

So, perhaps I’ll read for another 30 minutes before bed. However, I’ll leave you with this little Muse-ing, as I actually didn’t know I liked this song until today. It’s not typical Muse style, and the video is bad..but the words are compelling and meaningful, and the music reminds me of mid-1980′s Depeche Mode.

Muse, "Undisclosed Desires

Even though I didn’t really make that many “New Year’s Resolutions”, so to speak, I find myself being very motivated to make positive changes that weren’t necessarily the first things on my list I intended to focus on, but positive, nevertheless. Not only have I been fairly productive about catching up on work and turning out decently creative content over the past few days, I’ve also been spending less time watching TV, and more time catching up on other interests.

When I was in NYC, a good friend of mine gave me a copy of the book “Shopgirl”, by Steve Martin. Even though it’s quite a number of years old, and I’d seen the movie way back when, I’d never gotten around reading it. Of course, I both loved and related to it, as my friend thought I would. The impressive thing about the book is that there’s really relatively little story to it; rather, it’s driven by a fairly impressive amount of character development that makes the story less about what’s happening, and more about the psychology of what’s driving the action. Steve Martin has a unique voice that manages to be at the same time intellectual and removed, and perceptive and empathetic. I really admire artists that have a number of creative gifts, and while I’ve never been the biggest Steve Martin fan, he absolutely commands respect for falling firmly into that category.

Each year, I make a resolution to read at least 100 books I’ve never read before over the course of the year, which typically works out to two books a week for me. Some years, I’ve exceeded the goal, while last year, I fell far short. I’m happy that this book was my first of 2011, since I felt such a strong connection to it. Only 99 more to go!

In addition, I’m a bit of a magazine fan, although admittedly I only seem to read those that are somehow about fashion, celebrity gossip, and entertainment. Since I know I am not that shallow, I decided to add Timeto the list with one of my free subscription offers. It’s actually one of the more worthwhile magazines to read, and may help me stay current with my trivia. ;) I’m catching up on the Person Of The Year issue, which this year, is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, a pretty fascinating character.

I’ve also been in somewhat of a nesting/organizational stage, since we signed the lease on my apartment for another 6 months. Whenever I find out I’m going to be staying put for awhile, I go through a few weeks where I’m very committed to wanting to improve my surroundings, and create a place that feels as much like “home” as possible. Even though I won’t be getting, or even renting, the thing I truly want—a cute little townhouse— anytime soon, I’m still indulging my “nesting” instinct, and attempting to Alayna-fy my apartment as much as possible. To that end, I ordered a few post-holiday sale items, including a bookcase for my bedroom, and a short little shelving unit to provide some additional storage space in the living room. Of course, it’s that inexpensive laminate particle board stuff that will end up being donated to a recently-divorced friend in a few years, and requires me to put it together, but a small investment for my greater nesting needs.

I also cleaned out my closet a bit, and tossed out old clothes, trash, and everything else that’s lurked but been totally forgotten for a year. In the end, I had four boxes of trash to show for my labour, which gives an indication of the extent to which I am not a naturally organized human being. I think it’s so much a part of my fundamental personality, that it’s not even worth making a resolution about. *laughs*

The most impressive of the “new year, new lifestyle” changes I’ve made, however, has to be the fact that I used my oven tonight, and cooked a dinner that included all the major food groups, and was still under 400 calories. Since losing weight, getting in shape, and developing healthier eating habits are going to be a focus for me in 2011, I felt proud of myself for starting out on the right foot.

Now, if only I could get all the work done I told myself I’d complete today….but not only am I running low on hours, I’m running low on energy, and developing a large headache. A few hours away from the computer may do me a world of good.