A Chocophile Gives up Sugar

Four weeks ago tomorrow, I gave up sugar. Those of you who know me know that I am a sugar addict; giving it up was a very difficult thing to do. In fact, it seemed like (and many told me it was) a crazy thing to do. Why give up something you love so much?

Four weeks ago, I was listening to a CD lecture about physical fitness.While I am by no stretch a health nut, I do want to take care of my body. God has called us to be good stewards of what he has given us, and the first thing that we receive from him is a body. The speaker on the CD said that there were three things that one could give up to vastly improve one’s health. I was immediately interested. Surely I could do three things? Besides, who doesn’t love a challenge? Those three things were:  MSG, hydrogenated oils, and sugar. MSG isn’t too much of a problem in my life. While I do like Chinese food,I am otherwise good at avoiding MSG. Hydrogenated oils are more difficult. They are in everything. I decided to wait until my self-control pertaining to food was a bit stronger before attempting to cut them out of my diet. But sugar? I thought about it. I could give up sugar. I mean, sure, I like sugar. Yes, I have a monstrous sweet-tooth. Indeed, I put two or three spoonfuls of the stuff in my tea. But that doesn’t mean I can’t give it up, right?

I did some research and made myself some guidelines: I could have up to
forty grams of sugar a day. I would give myself a once-a-week cheat day
in which I could eat whatever I wanted. My cravings could wait until then.
The first day was easy. I had just made the decision, and all I had to do
follow-through. I informed my parents what I was doing (they laughed and
assumed that I was joking), and began to check the labels of everything
that I consumed. It turns out that sugar is in a lot of foods. No matter–
I could do it. The second day was more difficult. I wanted sugar! I had
to have something sweet. The solution turned out to be this:  If I were
very good throughout the day (less than 20 grams), I could have a very
small portion of ice cream in the evening (three and one half ounces of ice
cream, depending on the type, has only seventeen grams of sugar).

The hardest part was shifting from sweetened to unsweetened tea and coffee.
As I said, I like my tea on the sweet side. Two months ago, I couldn’t
drink more than one sip of unsweetened tea at a time. Now that I’ve adjusted,
however, I’m guzzling my English breakfast without sugar. I still have to
put creamer in my coffee, though (the creamer I use has five grams of sugar
but I don’t add more).When I told G about my personal challenge, he informed me that he had (unintentionally) done the same thing. Since he had moved, he simply hadn’t had anything sweet. This was something that we could do together, even as far apart as we were. After three weeks, though, G had to stop; he was losing too much weight, and needed to put sugar back into his diet. I have not had that problem, so I am continuing with my forty gram a day limit.

I’ve only lost control twice. Once was my great-uncle’s birthday party, and
I felt it necessary to eat the cake (it would have been rude not to, right?).
The other was last week. I wasn’t feeling very well, so I went to Sonic and
got some ice cream. It was worth it. Other than those two slip-ups, though,
I’ve managed to keep myself in check. Now if I could only make myself work
out as much as I should.

Jane Eyre Part III: Conclusion

Jane Eyre Part III: Conclusion

For those of you who are new, my good friend RJ and I have been reading Jane Eyre together. You can find RJ’s blog here, and my previous posts can be found in the “Reading with RJ” category of this blog. This is my concluding post on the novel, because we have finished it this week.

When I finished Jane Eyre, I was not sure what I should write about. My previous post concerned the novel as a whole, so I didn’t want to do that again. I could write about the last chapter, which struck me as more of an epilogue than a chapter, and, in any case, I did not care for it. It was an ending that did not fit the rest of the novel. I could mention the excitement I felt at the uncertainty of Jane’s fate. Unlike with most romances, I did not know whether Jane and Edward would be together in the end. I like that. I like having doubt about a happy ending. I could write about the film, which I watched this evening, but I would rather this post focus on the novel (though perhaps a later post will be about the movie). After all this deliberation, I decided to write on St. John (whose name, I learned, is pronounced “Sinjun.”).

St. John both fascinates and repulses me. When he first appeared, I liked him very much. He is kind to Jane when she needs kindness, and is very generous toward her, despite the fact that she is a stranger. He is introverted and a bit harsh, but gives every indication of being a good man–which I still believe that he is. St. John, however, is not a nice man, though a good one he is. His expectations of others are too high, and while he is generous with his wealth, he is stingy with his forgiveness.

There are many things about St. John’s part in Jane’s tale that I was expecting: as soon as St. John asked Jane to learn Hindostanee, the language of the people to whom he planned to bring the gospel of Christ, I knew that he would propose to her. Since Jane had earlier proclaimed to herself that he would make an awful husband, I knew that she would reject him. I did not, however, anticipate the nature of St. John’s proposal.

That proposal goes down in (literary) history as the worst proposal of all time, beating out even Fitzwilliam Darcy’s to Elizabeth Bennet (which, if you have forgotten, was along the lines of, “I have struggled to smother my feelings for you because you are not worthy of them, but I cannot stop loving you; will you marry me?”). It takes an idiot to come up with a worse proposal than that, but St. John E. Rivers managed quite well. It was to the effect of: “I don’t love you, but you would make a great missionary’s wife, so will you marry me, so that I can take you to India? Now, remember, I don’t have feelings for you, but God wants us to get married.” What self-respecting woman would acquiesce to that? None. Only a desperate woman, one so desiring to please others that she would reject herself, would agree to such a marriage. There are many good reasons for marriage, not all of them eros, but allowing yourself to be bullied and following a cousin to India do not count as good reasons, at least not to me. So I am glad that Jane turned him down, and not only for her own sake. St. John is the type of man who is happier when he has responsibilities towards no one.

I think that I can learn many things from St. John, despite the fact that I lost my respect for him after that monstrous proposal. I will settle for describing only one. I, like St. John, tend to hold my personal standards and expectations high, and I am disappointed when others do not try to hold themselves to the same standards (though I like to think that I am not quite so difficult as he is). Watching St. John has shown me what an unattractive trait that is.

St. John is not a nice man. He is not even a reasonable one. Despite these things, however, St. John is
a good man. He worked hard to do what he thought was right, even when it meant sacrificing his happiness. I respect that.

[On an unrelated note, this is my first attempt to write in HTML. I just thought that I would share that.]

Adventures in Renovation

Because my father has retired, he and my mother want to move back into the house they lived in before Dad’s job transferred him, a.k.a. the house in which I grew up. They have been renting it out for three and a half years, though, so there is a lot of work to be done before it is livable again. Besides, it is a twenty-two year old house; it could use some fresh paint. Since I recently graduated college, I decided that I could spend my free time helping them before I move away.

Examining the house was an adventure. We found black mold. And termites. I wore a mask until the mold was torn out.

Then there was the decision-making concerning interior design. My mother wanted beige paint, taupe carpet, a tan rug on the brown hardwood, and beige linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom (replacing beautiful stone tile). Any of these on their own would have been fine (except the linoleum; who replaces stone tile with linoleum?), but together, they would have created a monochromatic nightmare. Eventually, they decided: pale cucumber paint, taupe carpet (only in the master bedroom), no rug on the hardwood, and to keep the pretty tile.

We all worked in different parts of the house, so I can’t say much about what my parents did, but here is what I have been doing lately, along with some useful tips I’ve learned along the way.

Task One

I pulled up carpet with my dad. The last renters had two kids and a dog, so the carpet was nasty. the floor was littered with random objects (marbles, spare change), and smelled distinctly of dog excrement, some of which we found, still on the carpet. It had to go. Pulling up carpet is actually pretty easy. You find where it starts and tug until the carpet is no longer attached to the floor. Moving that carpet outside, however, poses a problem, as does taking up the tack strips. Unless you want to cut the carpet into several manageable pieces, have friends help you move the carpet, because it is heavy. Crowbars are useful for taking up tack strips.

Task Two

I scrubbed walls. Two kids can do quite a bit of damage to walls. Some of their most dangerous weapons include markers and greasy hands. Paint sticks best to clean surfaces, so the walls had to be scrubbed before we could do anything else to them. Magic Erasers are great for this; however, if you are scrubbing hard over a large surface area, beware: Magic Erasers wear out quickly. That is why I would suggest buying the extra power ones: they last so much longer. Grab a small bucket of water so that you can keep the Magic Eraser wet, and get to work. It took me hours just to get through one room, so be patient.

Task Three

I peeled wallpaper. This is an arduous task. I was up on a stepladder for six to eight hours peeling wallpaper border. When stripping wallpaper, a bucket of water and a sponge are your best friends. Use the sponge to dampen the wallpaper, find a seam, and peel the wallpaper. In my experience, only one of two layers will come off at first (NOTE: Sometimes, depending on the type of wallpaper, dampening the first layer is useless; wait until you’ve peeled the first layer off, them dampen the second layer). Once the first layer is off, use the sponge again to soak the second layer. Wait about thirty seconds, then start to peel it off in strips. A helpful tip: after dampening the second layer of one section, peel off the first layer of the next section, then dampen that underside as well. This will save time and keep you from sitting like a lame duck while waiting for the water to weaken the first section.

Task Four

I tore out drywall. It was great. Giving a recently broken up, unemployed woman a hammer and telling her she can take out her frustrations and aggressions on the wall is the best gift a dad can give, I think. Also, I just like destroying things, which was much more motivation that any frustration I may have been feeling. When tearing out drywall, it is important not to knock down the studs. They are keeping the wall up and, if it is a load-bearing wall, they are holding up the ceiling as well. If you know where the studs are, take a pencil and make a quick mark to designate each stud. If you don’t know where, I would suggest tapping the wall lightly at first to find out without damaging the boards. Also watch out for electrical outlets and plumbing. Those issues dealt with, take a hammer and knock a few holes in the wall. That finished, use the pry bar side of the hammer to pull out the drywall.

I’ve also cleaned windows, polished doors and wood paneling, scrubbed tile floors (get a sponge mop with a scourer), and completed various other tasks, as have my parents. Even so, we are not even halfway finished with this project. I’ll update later about further accomplishments, and hopefully post pictures of the final result.

Jane Eyre, Post III: Novel in a Blender

My friend RJ and I are reading Jane Eyre together. You can find my previous posts under the category “Reading with RJ,” and you can read RJ’s blog here.

One of the things I like most about Jane Eyre is the way it smoothly flouts the borders that separate genres from one another. Jane Eyre is a gothic novel: a lunatic is imprisoned in the attic of a dreary
mansion. It is a romance: the relationship between Jane and Edward is the central focus of the story, after all. It is a bildungsroman: Jane grows from a young, immature child to a grown woman who is in many ways the opposite of her childhood self. Finally, it is the modern young adult tale: Jane discovers that she cannot trust the person closest to her, a theme found in most young adult novels these days; she is disliked by her guardian, another characteristic that many young adult novels have; and it is written in first-person. While the last of those may not be strongly associated with adolescent literature, I have noticed that much of the young adult literature that has become popular in the last few years are all written in a casual first-person voice; therefore, while the pair is not always together, I believe that the first-person voice belongs in the young adult category, in this instance.

This blending of genres makes Jane Eyre a novel that appeals to an enormous demographic. While I am not fond of romances, and I am picky about my adolescent novels, I enjoy gothic novels and a well done bildungsroman story. The novel’s characteristics of the latter two work in such a way with the former that I can appreciate all four genres that contribute to the story.

Jane Eyre Post II: Jane the Enigma

My friend RJ and I are reading Jany Eyre together and writing about it. You can find RJ’s latest post here, and my previous post here.

I am a character-driven reader. If I do not like the main character of a novel, I cannot continue reading it. Usually for me, liking a character requires identifying with said character in some way, understanding why they choose the actions that they choose. Jane Eyre, however, is different. I like Jane because I am fascinated by her actions, because I do not always understand why she does what she does.

At the beginning of the novel, I was slightly annoyed with Jane: I saw her as whiny and self-pitying, though understandably so. There are so many novels with whiny protagonists, however, that even understandable fussing is too much. However, as she grew older, Jane become more tolerable, though also more distinct and, therefore, more mysterious.

While I can understand her behavior towards Mr. Rochester when she first moves to Thornfield–she is a governess for his ward, much lower than Rochester is socially, and has been told her entire life that she is ugly–when she has not only ascertained Rochester’s affection, but is engaged to him, she becomes even more distant from him. She refuses treat him as her fiancé, or to allow him to treat her as his fiancée.

This and other actions throughout the Thornfield portion of the novel rouse my interest, so that, despite my differences with Jane, I can read her character with ease. She and I are different enough to keep me on my toes, never able to guess what she will do next, or where it will take her.