Sunday, May 4, 2008

Final day of working for the man

I went in late, and did almost nothing work-related all day.  It was kind of anti-climatic for being my day of liberation.  

So now I just have to finish up school, and get moved to Austin - while learning an entirely new OS on the side.  I've just switched from Windows machines to a MacBook, and am still getting used to how everything works.  It's not too bad.  I just have to learn all new shortcuts after having used DOS, then Windows machines my entire computing life - which is pretty damn long considering I've been using computers of some sort or another for over 20 years.  

But, I'm nothing if not adaptable, and I do love playing with new toys and figuring out how to do things in new software, so I'm sure I'll get good on it in no time.  Which is pretty important since I'm entering into a new venture with Melomel creating iPhone software.  

Also, in other news...   I had the final test for my Essure procedure Thursday, and I am confirmed sterile.  I was just a little sad leaving the office - not that I now want kids suddenly, but perhaps mourning a possibility that is now gone for good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Freedom at last!

Yesterday I put in notice at my job. My last day of work will be May 4th. I'll be taking the remaining 12 hours needed to finish my degree over the two summer sessions, and I'll be graduated with my BA by mid-August!

It's a bit nerve-wracking to be unemployed for the first time in about 17 years. I've been continuously employed for all that time. I've always had another job lined up before I quit the current one, so this is a little scary. But it's also very exciting to feel as if the future is wide open for me.

As soon as I finish the BA, I'll be moving to Austin, starting my new life with melomel, and enrolling in grad school at UT. The future is looking very bright indeed!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I'm such a slacker, and other musings...

I'll take any excuse not to do what I need to be doing. I should have gone to work yesterday, but the ex called to see if they could come by and unload more stuff. So I stayed here and watched them load stuff up, and bs'd with them a bit.

He still says they'll be paying off my truck and giving me some money toward the joint debt I've already paid off. I believe him on the truck because he needs me to sign off on putting his vehicle in his name only, so he has an incentive to pay mine off as well. I believe he has intentions to give me more, but I'm not holding my breath. If it doesn't happen I won't be disappointed, and if it actually does happen I'll be pleasantly surprised.

He's talking about wanting to take the dogs back with him again when they get their place in NM or CO. I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, he'll have a large property in the mountains for them to live on. On the other, I'll miss them terribly. But three large dogs are a major handful for one person who's trying to go to school and completely rearrange her life. I know they'd be well cared for - his fiance is a veterinarian, and he'd give his life for those dogs.

The same reasoning I gave for him bringing them back to me is about to apply in the other direction. My life is about to be in major flux. I don't know where I'm going to be living, or how long I'll be in any one place. I won't have a lot of time to spend with them - I already don't spend enough time with them as it is. As much as I don't want to admit this, it may be better for him to take them with him once he has a permanent home for them. I don't want to let them go - but I'm afraid I'll only be keeping them with me for my own selfish reasons, and not truly considering what's best for them.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I hate waiting. For people, for things, for events to unfold... whatever it is, I hate waiting. Especially when I don't know how long something is going to take. If I have an ETA, it's not so bad. But if I'm waiting indefinitely for something that I know is going to happen, just not when, it drives me crazy.

Anticipation can be a good thing in those cases where I do know when something is going to happen. It can give the days and hours leading up to it a certain energy, a little more flavor. Of course it can also cause a certain level of anxiety if there's an unknown outcome.

Right now I have several things I'm waiting on. Some are known outcome (as much as we can ever know what the future holds), but unknown timeframe. Others are known timeframe, but unknown outcome. They're all driving me a little crazy right now. But I have to say, my days are definitely full flavor and energy.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Depression is funny

After having a great weekend trip to San Marcos to see my family, and a very successful date with someone in Austin that I'm looking forward to spending more time with whenever I'm down that way, you'd think I'd be happy... yet I find myself slipping toward depression.

I think it's because I'm in limbo right now. I have to finish this semester before I can consider moving, but I'm probably going to be here until the end of this year while finishing school and packing up house to make the move. Knowing that I have to continue for an undetermined time in a job I don't care about is like a dead weight on my shoulders. I think it's the perception of my helplessness to make the changes I want to make now that is sending me on that downward spiral. I'm finally looking toward a future that isn't bleak, and I want to get to it right now!

So I'm committing myself now to doing at least one thing every day to reach one of my goals. It could be working out to work on my goal of getting more fit. Or, I can perform some task related to my ultimate relocation, such as putting something up for sale on eBay, or packing up some things I know I won't be using anytime soon, or going through things and deciding what to donate or discard, or researching information for my enrollment in grad school. I have so many things I can be working on right now that will make relocating much easier if I get them done ahead of time. I tend to do better at things that I'm avoiding (for whatever reason) if I commit myself publicly to them, so here it is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thoughts on risk

I've had a few conversations with different people lately about taking risks. I was never one to take risks in the past. Fear has kept me from doing a lot of things over the years. I often wonder where I would be in life had I taken some of those risks. My desire for security, safety, and stability ultimately led me down a path that ended in a place I really don't want to be.

A few years ago, the director of the department I worked in decided that we all needed to read a book called Who Moved My Cheese?. Now I'm usually the first one to scoff at such books, and would never have been caught reading it voluntarily. But it was mandatory, so I read it. And it was every bit as cheesy as I expected. Okay, bad pun... let's all groan together now.

As silly as it was though, its basic message was actually quite good. There were a lot of stupid little sayings in it, and the reason we were reading it was to try to improve morale in a horribly managed department. However, it did make a difference in my life - no matter how much I hate to say so. One of the messages has stuck with me ever since... "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

Ironically, not very long after we read that book, I got an attractive offer to go to work for another company. I hesitated at first, having almost five years at my current job. I was comfortable with my duties, and was extremely good at my job. I knew I was safe there. The new job offered better pay and benefits, and a better potential for advancement - but it also offered the potential for failure. And then I asked myself what I would do if I wasn't afraid. I took the job.

While I have ultimately realized I don't want to do this job, I'm still supremely glad I took it. I've enjoyed working for this company, and these people - much more than where I was - and it's been a great boost to my confidence to know I can excel here as much as at my previous job. I've just come to realize that I don't want to work in this industry, or for Corporate America in general. Hence my decision to pursue grad school once I'm able to finish paying down my debt.

Of course grad school carries its own set of risks... and I'm both excited by the idea, and terrified by it. But I know it will be good for me. That's been my mantra for quite some time now - what scares me is good for me. Obviously there are some times when fear is an appropriate response... but if the only reason I can come up with for not doing something is that it's scary, well that's not good enough.

I've been working under this premise for some time now - definitely since I split with my ex, but I've been gradually taking more and more risks ever since I read that stupid little book. After the ex left, I began to almost systematically go after my fears and inhibitions. Instead of just retreating from something that scares me, I now try to stop and ask myself why I'm afraid, and what I would do if I wasn't.

The expressway may be safer and better maintained, and will probably get you there faster, but it's not nearly as interesting as the smaller highways and back country roads. Just as I've always looked for the little dotted lines signifying smaller roads on maps when I'm traveling for pleasure, I've started looking for those little dotted lines on the road map of my life. Choosing the less risky path may be safer, but you miss out on so much really cool stuff.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


What is it about the sound of a chickadee's call that always makes me smile? I can't think of any other bird song that has the same effect. I love hearing bird calls of all types - can sit listening to them much longer than anyone I may be with cares to usually - but none will put an instant grin on my face like the chickadee.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why do I put my demons on display?

I've had more than one person tell me they think it's brave of me to put myself and my demons out to the general public in the way that I do here. I suppose I can see why they'd think it brave, but it really doesn't feel that way.

It does lead me to wonder why I feel compelled to put my demons on display. Obviously I get something out of it... we rarely continue doing anything in our lives that doesn't reward us in some way or another. But what exactly? It's not as if my posts here always paint me in a positive light. Far from it. I'm always somewhat surprised when someone tells me they've read my blog, and are still interested in getting to know me. I generally want to ask them, "You do realize how screwed up I am, don't you?" But, as I was recently discussing with someone... I've come to realize that everyone is "absolutely bat-fuck bonkers" (his words). We're all just crazy in different ways.

So why the compulsion to lay my psyche bare to the world? There are a couple of things I can think of... First, I've always been able to work things out better when I journal them. And this is basically an online journal. It works better than carrying a paper one around because I can post to it from anywhere as long as I have either my phone and a signal, or internet access. And second, by exposing these thoughts to the light of day, I weaken their grasp on me. It is because I've put all this out in the public blogosphere that I've realized that everyone has demons. Many, many people have read these posts - both friends and strangers - and the only feedback I've ever received has been supportive and complimentary, or commiserating or concurring with what I've written. (How d'ya like that for alliteration?)

I link to this blog in my profile on an online dating site - a move that the same someone referenced previously described as "a little heavy." Although it is less a desire to be honest, as he suggested, as it is a bit of a shortcut. This is me. It's not the entire me, but I think anyone who has read much of it has a fairly good impression of the sort of person I am - at least part of who I am. It provides some of my back story... the sorts of details someone could spend months learning about me. Also, if someone has taken the time to read much of this, and still wants to get to know me - perhaps even wants to know me more after reading it - they're probably more likely to be interested for the right reasons.


Yesterday seemed to be full of serendipity. I decided Tuesday to go down to San Marcos next weekend to visit my mom and family. I received an email yesterday evening that one of my favorite Austin bands is going to be playing in Gruene, just a short ways away from San Marcos, that Friday night.

I didn't realize there was going to be a lunar eclipse until one of my coworkers mentioned it yesterday afternoon at work - to complain that we wouldn't get to see it because of the clouds we'd had all day. On my way home, just a few miles from the house, I noticed I could see the moon quite clearly, and it was almost fully eclipsed. It was a very pleasant night, so I sat in the front yard eating the dinner I'd picked up on the way home and watched the eclipse. It was incredible.

I'd been observing the eclipse for a while, and had just come back out from getting a beer to enjoy while watching the rest of it, when I noticed my neighbor had just pulled up next door. I invited her over to view the moon through my binoculars, and we started chatting. Turns out, she and her husband are getting divorced. We talked for quite a while about it, and then she told me she'd like to learn more about being vegan and what I eat.

This led to a discussion of the evils of our current systems of food production, and the misinformation we all grew up with. I suggested she read The China Study and recommended The American Vegetarian Cookbook from the Fit for Life Kitchen. I like to recommend the Fit for Life cookbook to people who aren't ready to go vegan yet, but want to cut back on meat consumption and try eating more vegan food, because it's full of simple recipes made from everyday ingredients you can find at just about any grocery store. It uses honey in some recipes, and I'm always sure to tell them honey is not vegan, but otherwise it's a great book for someone who just wants to learn some basic vegan cooking. And Half Price Books always seems to have one or two copies available for less than $10 - another plus.

If the clouds hadn't parted at just the right time, and I hadn't been outside viewing the eclipse, we may have gone weeks without catching each other and I may never have gotten the chance to plant the seeds with her that I was able to plant tonight. Serendipity.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ok, the pity party is over

After indulging myself in a deliciously pathetic wallow in self-pity, I'm ready to move along. Hey, if you can't throw yourself a pity party on your first spend-money-on-cards-flowers-and-candy corporate holiday as a single person after 17 years, well when can you?

Being horribly ill for the last week with bronchitis certainly didn't help my mood or energy levels either. Who can blame a person for being a little depressed when they can't sleep because they can't stop coughing at night? Not to mention that I've now used up just about all my sick time for the rest of the year. Guess that means I can't get sick again... did you hear that immune system?

In my boredom and melancholy, I ventured into the world of online dating via OkCupid. Of course all my closest matches are halfway across the country. I get the same feeling filling out the profiles on these sites as I do job applications. And I've never been very good at those either. If they're just looking for experience and qualifications, no problem. But if I'm expected to sell myself - well, I suck at that. I always have.

I gather you're supposed to put something witty in there to distinguish yourself from all the others. It's not that I'm not witty, I'm told I am quite so... but it comes through in conversation, and after I get to know someone. Perhaps I need to treat the profile as a one-sided conversation with an old friend... but then again, I wouldn't have to tell an old friend all these basic things about me because they'd already know. Ack!!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day

Perfect day for reflections on love and loneliness I suppose. I have to wonder why I'm feeling so down and lonely today, when this holiday never really mattered to me when I was married. I'm sure it's just the symbol, the reminder that I'm alone... that I'm probably going to be alone for a while.

No matter how much I tell myself that I can and should be happy on my own, I so yearn to find a partner to share myself and my life with. I thought for a very brief moment that I might have... and I know that's adding to my melancholy. It is hard to believe that I'm likely to find another person so seemingly well suited for me - but I have to believe they're out there somewhere.

Friday, February 1, 2008

No babies for me

Well it's done. Two days ago I had the Essure procedure done for permanent sterilization. Within three months, my tubes will be permanently blocked, and I will no longer be able to have children.

I've pretty much always known I didn't want kids. But I left the option open until now, just to make sure I wasn't going to change my mind. At 38, I think I'm past the point that I'm going to change my mind. And even if I do, there are so many unwanted children I could give a home to -- rather than risking my life and the baby's by trying to have one at this age.

I truly believe there are far too many people on this earth already. Unfortunately, as a friend's signature line says, "The stupid people are winning the breeding war." It does seem it's generally the more intelligent and thoughtful who choose not to have children. So perhaps those of us who choose not to have children have a responsibility to try to educate the younger generations and pass on the ideas and ethics we would have given our own children had we had them.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Just happened to notice...

I love it when I catch random number sequences. It's a little hard to see, but if you click on the picture you can read the odometer... it's at 65,432 miles.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Embracing being single

I've realized I have many things that I need to deal with before I can hope to move into any kind of healthy relationship. So I am working on, as a friend puts it, embracing being single - becoming comfortable with being alone. Having been married most of my adult life, this isn't an easy thing. I've written previously about missing that constant caring presence of having a partner. I still miss that terribly. But I can't allow that longing to drive my feelings about people, or my decisions about relationships. I can't just rush into something, no matter how good it might look on the surface, just because I don't want to be alone.

Somewhere in this great wide world there is someone who is right for me. With any luck, I'll meet them some day. Until then I have two choices... wallow in self-pity about being alone; or learn to be comfortable with myself, and enjoy being on my own. I'm thinking I'll go for option number two.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Want to know how to drive me crazy?

Don't talk to me. Cut off all communication whatsoever, and ignore any attempts I might make at communicating with you. My mind comes up with the worst scenarios, and I pick over every little detail of previous conversations to try to figure out what's wrong.

Of course this only works for people I care about talking to, but it is the worst of torture for me to have someone just stop communicating with me. I'm all about communication, you see. I love talking to my friends, having great conversations... even just saying hi and chatting about the weather for a few moments. Even those littlest moments of contact remind me that I'm not alone, that there are people out there who care about me and think about me. They also give me the chance to check in with those I care about, find out how they're doing, and let them know they're in my thoughts as well.

Electronic communication and the internet makes it so much easier to stay in touch with people, and I am an email and text message junkie for sure. But when you only know someone through electronic communication, it makes it very easy for them to do exactly what bothers me most. With a few clicks of a mouse, an electronic acquaintance can be removed from virtual existence: blocked from IM, filtered out of email, removed from friends lists. The hardest to take is when someone does this without any explanation. It could be for reasons that have nothing to do with you - frequently is I'm sure. But of course, my mind starts mulling and churning, and pretty soon I'm positive I've done something to drive them away.

This ties back to my thoughts on attachment, because the reason why it bothers me so much is attachment. Either my attachment to that person, or the feeling of being cared about, or the desire to know what the problem is, and the often misguided certainty that whatever it is can be fixed. I become attached to a certain outcome, and not being able to bring that outcome about - not even being given the chance to do so - bothers me immensely.

A book I've just started reading, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach, Ph.D., talks about the "lens of personal insufficiency" that many of us see our lives through - the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with us - and how it leads us into so many unhealthy behaviors, and robs us of so much joy in our life. I bought the book months ago, and probably could have gone many more months without ever picking it up, but my experiences of the last few months have made it clear to me that I am very much in need of its message right now.

It is this feeling of personal insufficiency that makes me think that I am the problem when someone stops communicating with me. And even though I may know intellectually that's probably not the case, as long as that feeling is there, somewhere in the darkest corners of my heart, I will always believe my deficiencies are the cause.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Recent experiences, conversations with a friend, and my desire to pare down my possessions, have all had me thinking about the nature of attachment.

It is amazing how easily I get attached to things, ideas, habits, people... I've been a walking billboard for the Four Noble Truths lately. I've experienced a lot of suffering in the last several months - last year really. And now I've finally recognized that it is entirely my tendency to attach and obsess that's creating my suffering.

This isn't a new concept for me. I've been studying Buddhist ideas and philosophy on and off for several years now. However, I think this is the first time I've really been able to make the direct connection to my personal experience, rather than it just being a concept.

A situation that might in the past have sent me into a tail-spin of hurt and depression, has instead been the catalyst for a much clearer and more direct understanding of the nature of suffering and its basis in attachment. I've had an epiphany - there's really no other word to describe it. Perhaps the Zen Buddhist stories of instant enlightenment are based on experiences of immediate clarity such as this. It's a wonderful thing actually, and I'm thankful for it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Unearthing the tomb...

I shut myself off for so long to numb the unhappiness of my marriage. My longings, desires, hopes, and dreams were buried under six feet of misery. Now that I've begun to exhume my heart, old demons are clawing their way to the surface as well.

I know them for the monsters they are by the poison they spit into my mind. Insidious stuff, it eats me up from the inside out until I can't think straight, and I begin to believe the most ridiculous things. Sadly, I've been known to sabotage myself time and again because of it.

I refuse to fall into the clutches of these old demons again. I know the taste of their poison well, and I will not allow it to undermine my happiness anymore.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And here I thought I was cured...

The ex came by unannounced last night with his girlfriend - fiancé really - and stayed for a couple of hours. I've gotten fairly comfortable being around them together. There's no jealousy there, or even any animosity toward her - she is stuck with him after all. But it can still be a little awkward at times, so I was glad that most of the evening went smoothly. He mainly wanted to discuss getting his things out of the house and garage, and some financial stuff that still needs to be cleaned up.

We talked quite a bit about those subjects, and then moved onto talking about the dogs. He wants to take Tanka back to New Mexico with him once they find a place to buy. My first instinct is to say no of course... but he and Cassie have been having some dominance struggles since the two males came back, and I'm afraid they're going to escalate. I'd never let him take Bear back - it's too cold for him having the short hair that he does, and I'd miss him too much. But I'm thinking about sending Tanka with him, as long as I see proof he's got a suitable place for him that will be permanent. I've dealt with dogs having dominance issues before, and I was lucky that no one died when it blew up. As it was, there were thousands of dollars in vet bills, and many months of recovery for the loser.

Back to the title of this post though... I thought I was cured of his being able to trigger my insecurities. I was wrong. We had been talking throughout the night about how I understood why he left - mainly because we were both miserable. As they were leaving, his fiancé had gone on ahead outside and it was just the two of us in the house. He told me he wanted me to know that he didn't understand what he wanted until he'd been on his trip for a while, and that it was very important to him that I know he didn't leave me for her - that he didn't leave me for another woman.

With those few words he dredged up a whole mess of emotion that I thought I had excised quite thoroughly. Apparently they were just in remission. And I'm still not certain why it should affect me so much to hear him say that - to know it's important to him that I not believe he left me for someone else. But it does somehow - I'm just not sure exactly how yet. Unfortunately it's brought all of the insecurities, resentment, bitterness, hurt, anger, etc... all to the surface again. Nowhere near as intensely as they've been in the past - but enough to have me dwelling pretty heavily on them.

You'd think I'd be happy to find that out... or at least relieved. You might even think it would banish some insecurities, ease some of the hurt of feeling rejected and unwanted... but it seems as if it's just brought it all back to the surface again. Maybe it's just a short-term resurgence... a last gasp for all that crap. I certainly hope so. Because I really want to be past all this. There are a lot of good things happening in my life right now, and I don't need these feelings muddying the waters.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A new semester, and soon a whole new existence

The spring semester begins tonight, and I'll be taking Asian-American Literature - because that's what I could get to fit my schedule. That describes how most of my class choices have been made throughout my now 14-year-long college career. The choices were much more plentiful in previous years of course, since I had so many more classes I needed to take. But now, it's down to five classes - all of them advanced literature classes. Not so easy to find at nights.

This is why I will be moving to a night shift sometime in May. Besides offering a hefty shift differential (12%), it will also afford me the ability to take classes throughout the day. I've worked deep nights before (the shift will 7pm - 5:30am) so I know I can handle it, but I was much, much younger then. My ultimate hope is that I'll be able to complete my degree by the end of the year by making this change. Now that I've decided I want to go to grad school, I'm eager to finish this chapter of my life so that I can move on to the next.

I'm also very excited about developments in other areas of my life. I've recently begun corresponding and conversing with someone unlike anyone I've ever met before. I eagerly await each new contact, and could spend (have spent) hours at a time talking to him. I generally don't want to hang up each evening from our calls. If it weren't for this pesky need for sleep, I probably wouldn't. The greatest thing is, I know he feels the same way.

He's told me that my blog, and the frank candor with which I write, is the reason he became interested in conversing with me. Which of course peaked my interest as well. But it is his direct and open manner that I find so endearing.

I don't like games - I'm no good at playing them - so I'm usually a fairly direct person. I've been told by almost everyone who spends much time with me that I can be incredibly blunt and to-the-point. I take that as a compliment. I generally don't like to bandy words or dance around a subject. Finding someone else who seems to be as forthright as I am is so refreshing. Finding someone like that with whom I have so much else in common... it's almost enough to make me believe there is a god. Okay, maybe not...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rollercoaster times

Seems like my life has been all highs and lows for the last year. Sometimes both at once - like now.

My cat Han Solo hasn't been home for 4 nights now, and I'm beginning to lose hope that he's going to return. I've wandered my neighborhood a bit looking for him, but there are so many dogs and so much other noise, that I'd never hear him if he was crying - he has such a soft voice.

And yet, other things are happening that have me feeling very happy and positive - almost giddy. I feel a bit guilty for feeling good when Han Solo is missing though. I know moping around about it won't bring him back... but it just seems weird to me to be in such a good mood while he's missing.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Finally, direction...

Now that I've started thinking about grad school, I'm getting pretty psyched and feel very positive about it. Also, it's nice to have direction. I'm already thinking ahead to needing to get rid of a lot of things and pare down to the bare minimums if I'm going to move in a year or so.

So now I have a real motivator to finish the Bachelors by the end of the year, and pay off as much debt as possible. I can do this...

I will do this.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Looking forward

I've been working on getting my Bachelors degree for so long that I never really thought beyond getting the paper. But I need to begin thinking about what I'm going to do with it once I have it. My first thought is take a year off, and then go to grad school for writing. I was looking at UT Austin's MA in Creative Writing today. In truth, if I am going to continue on to grad school, doing it at UT makes the most sense. I have family in the area who would put me up, so I could probably swing going full time and actually get it done in two years. But what then?

I've pretty well drifted through my life up to this point. I've never really had a focus or direction... just wandered into this or that. Which is how I've ended up working in customer service in the financial industry - and I hate it.

The only things that have consistently stayed with me through the years are my dual loves of photography and writing. Recently I've had the urge to use them both in some way to promote veganism, or benefit animal causes, or even just to make people think about their world in a more critical way. I don't have a clear vision of how this might come about, but I'm working on it. If anyone reading this has any ideas...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm determined

I want to be more active with my blogs this year, and try to do some real writing for them, rather than just making them a journal of my every day life. Haven't quite decided what I'm going to do yet, but I'm thinking about it. It'll gel for me eventually - always does.

It's time to really clean house and simplify my life. I have too much stuff cluttering up my home, my life, my mind. I need to pare it all back, find the core of who I am, and who I want to be - keeping only what is essential.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

It's a new year

Let's hope 2008 is a big improvement on 2007. Not that the year has been all bad. I met some awesome people, and have had a lot of good times. But I've also had some of the lowest points of my life as well. I've learned a lot, including that I have a lot to learn.

This year will be about finishing school and getting out of debt. I've started working out again, now that I'm fully healed from the surgery, and I intend to actually use my many vegan cookbooks and learn to cook healthy meals for myself.

Healthy and happy in 2008! Sounds like a campaign slogan...