Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Upstaters" love us some craigslist!

Craigslist started out as a network in the trendy San Francisco Bay area and in fifteen short years, the very non-trendy Hudson Valley region of New York State has taken it and ran with it like only we can! If you live in New York City, you probably consider Westchester County almost upstate and where I live, a bit further up the Hudson River, completely upstate! I happen to think that you're not officially upstate unless you can't take a Metronorth train to the city. If you don't live in New York, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about! Anyway... I am a big fan of craigslist and so are my fellow "upstaters."

I remember back in my twenties (Oh my goodness, that sounds sooo old) when I used to take the 85 minute train ride into the city on weekends to hang out, I would hear people talk about craigslist and of course I would nod and pretend I knew exactly what they were talking about. I would claim that I couldn't really comment on the conversation because I didn't use craigslist because I didn't trust it. I was also telling people that I was from Westchester and living on the Upper East Side. Oh how easily the lies poured out of the mouth before I embraced my country-bumpkinness!

The truth is, craigslist wasn't really something that was widely used outside of major urban centers ten years ago. Oh lord have things changed! I guess because so many more people have internet access in their homes up here in more rural settings, craigslist has really caught on. If you compare the various regions, you can get a flavor for the contrasting populations. Really, its not hard to see why we up here love craigslist. This is the land of the yard sale!! Where else do people make an entire day of driving around with a Pennysaver from one yard sale to the next? Try driving around any one of the rural Hudson Valley neighborhoods on Junk pick up day (for my urban friends, that is the day you put all your junk that doesn't fit in your garbage can on the curb). There are people who LIVE for this day!!! They drive around at 10 miles per hour examining every pile to see which pieces of garbage they can possibly salvage. Why do they want those things??? BECAUSE THEY ARE FREE!!! We love free/cheap stuff!!! We also love getting money so when we saw the possibilities craigslist offered to try and make a few extra dollars (to spend on Quickdraw and beer... C'mon who are we kidding??) we ran with it!!

Take a look at some of the ads we post on craigslist... if someone is selling a table and chairs, you would imagine they would be photographed nicely in a clean kitchen, perhaps with a small centerpiece. Not up here baby! That table is in the basement, that's where it will be pictured with beat-up cardboard boxes and the boiler in the background!!! Selling a bedroom set? You would think it would be in a bedroom with nice linens. Ha!! That white laquer and mirrored (think that scene in Goodfellas when Henry Hill and his mistress are blowing lines and sweating and about to get caught) set is in the driveway in front of the 1975 Ford pick up truck!! Just to add class, the picture was taken with a camera phone. Need to furnish your dining room? Its hard to imagine how a hutch will look in your home when it is covered in your entire collection of Country Goose plates! Just watch out when people describe things as "shabby chic." HA!! Usually... just shabby!! Even though it is 2010, something purchased in the 80s is not yet '"vintage" or "antique" especially if you purchased it in Caldor.

All of this being said, I'm totally all over Craigslist and have furnished a good deal of my house with things I've found on craigslist and am constantly trying to sell my crap on there... I am a proud upstater who loves a bargain and to make a buck when I can. On an interesting note, the lower-income areas have taken up something that was once once exclusively for urban dwellers, usually those with higher incomes. Since the recession, the popularity of things like Kmart and Walmart, long time standards up here, has grown in urban areas... So my urban, financially challenged friends, I invite you to come on up this summer and we can cruise for crap on bulk pick up day!!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back again!

Oh its amazing the things one will do instead of grading tests!!! I haven't touched my blog since August!! I've been busy! Molly came into our lives and a big chunk of my summer was taken up with making hourly trips to the yard!! Lame excuse- I totally still could have been blogging!

So since I last wrote, we have officially adopted Molly. She is a mix of a black lab and a plott hound. She was born on St. Patrick's Day 2009- hence her Irish name!! She is the sweetest little (not so little anymore- 45lbs and growing!) thing on the earth. She has such a gentle and loving personality. We can't believe how quickly we have become attached to her. Ok- so it was not lost on me that my need for a dog has a bit to do with my biological clock.

Having the dog has increased my activity level... slightly. I do go on more walks (when it is not raining- while Molly comes from two strong, hunting breeds, my little princess does NOT like the rain!) but I now have a new excuse not to go to the gym "have to get home to the dog!!" I have, however, been a member of Weight Watchers for 10 weeks. If I had been minding my ps and qs I'm sure I would have lost more than 5 lbs. But hey- this is the longest I've ever kept going to the meetings!! It really helps that I'm going with my mom. When she told me that she wanted to go back to Weight Watchers and maybe I wanted to go with her, it was her gentle way of telling me I needed to lose weight! Knowing that she is counting on me to take her to the meetings helps me to stick to it. Now by stick to it, I mean show up and get weighed. It would be great if I also meant counting my points and staying within them.. oh well, all in good time!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sometimes the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and sometimes it is on your ass.

Oh fat. There are so many clich├ęs to use when we talk about weight gain or weight loss. We are so obsessed with it!!! I really would like to think I'm over and above being obsessed with weight but its hard when not one but 2 doctors inform you that several of your medical issues are linked to your weight. WHAT??!!? That's something they say to really overweight people, not cute little things like me who could stand to lose a few pounds. Whose humongous arm is that in that picture and why is it attached to my face?!?! OMG that's right- ITS MINE.

So I waited a month for an appointment with my amazing gynecologist at Columbia Presbyterian. I drove an hour and 10 minutes to her office in the Dominican Republic of Washington Heights. I cowered in the office door and politely did whatever her over-worked angry secretary asked me to do and then patiently admired her photos of Obama and Oprah. I waited for an hour and a half to see the doctor (thank God for Eclipse! I totally read 68 pages!) only to find out that my menstrual problems are due to the fact that I need to lose weight. Umm she didn't even need to put me on a scale. Apparently she could estimate my weight on her own or perhaps she saw some ketchup on my face from my 3 EGG AND CHEESE WRAP WITH HAM. Oh but it was on a "whole wheat" wrap which clearly makes it healthy. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
So after paying a $20 co-pay and $27 to park and driving an hour and a half home, one would think I would be super-motivated to head right over to the gym and jump on the treadmill! Wrong-o!!! I immediately crawled up on the couch and took a nap to wake up and eat ALL of the previous night's leftover fried rice. Like enough rice to sustain a small Asian village. I probably ate more rice in two days than Chris McCandless did during his entire Alaskan expedition.
I love eating. I just really love eating. I tried to do a three day flush that required having only protein shakes for a day. I only got to 9 am before needing an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese and a large coffee. So I think meal substitution diets are out.
I did- after my rice meal- head over to the produce store and buy tons of veggies for grilling and an amazing swordfish steak. So at least it is a step in the right direction that I will be eating healthy things instead of the leftover piece of baguette bread that Panera gives out with their soup- in a bread bowl!!! No wonder this country is full of carb-sucking fatties.

I must exercise. How do I not make time for this??? I make the most impressive load of excuses- most of which revolve around food. Its always too soon before I eat, too soon after I eat, I might be thinking about eating, I might have to nap... None of it is rational, I know. I'm looking forward to having a dog so I know I'll have to walk at least twice a day for the dog. ('But Becky, you need to walk now, for you. Isn't your health as important as the dog's?' Yeah there's no immediate danger that my fat ass is going to shit on the rug.)

Diet books are annoying. I'd really like to develop my own- please, any input would be greatly appreciated. They act like the people reading them are idiots. Seriously?! Is there really anyone out there who is amazed by the fact you should only eat a small piece of chicken breast the size of a deck of cards and not the half a chicken covered in buttery skin that you are given with three sides at Boston Market???? Is it really a revelation that a Ceasar salad covered in creamy dressing, parmesean cheese and croutons is actually not a smart choice??? Please! Can someone write a diet book that doesn't treat the reader like a moron?!?!

I also don't want to see the list of "rules" that can be found in every diet book of which the first two are "No alcohol and "No caffeine." NO THANK YOU!!!! Look- I can accept that diet soda is bad for you- its made of all kinds of funky chemicals that weren't even in existence 50 years ago and it has some sort of crack effect that leaves you trolling the streets for it when you run out. But alcohol- this is ancient stuff, handed down to us through history. They drink it in Beowolf!! Jesus! Speaking of Jesus- He wasn't turning water into wheatgrass shots at that wedding- he turned it into wine, baby! He knew! How can that be bad for you?!?!? And coffee- its a time-honored morning tradition. It signals to my body that it is awake! Its delicious! It comes from a bean, from nature, HOW CAN A BEAN BE BAD?????? My diet book will not include these alcohol and caffeine restrictions. It will also not include the words "moderation" or "just one glass/cup" when referring to these substances. Why? Why you ask? Because sometimes one is just not enough and the frustration of attempting to limit myself and failing will just cause me to eat more!!! That's why.
And so I go forth, making promises to myself that I will do one hour of cardio a day etc. etc.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Welcome to Becky Burress at 30- Sentimental beginnings and gentle warnings

Hi!! I'm Becky Burress. Well, no, I'm not. I'm using a psuedonym so that no one (ie- students and students' parents!!!) can Google me and know all about my life. I just want my friends (and any potential publishers who may be blown away by my witty observations) to know who I am and access the blog. It's a pretty cool name! I took my favorite, gun-dropping-but-winning-touchdown-catching football player's last name! Like my man Plaxico, I am not perfect and I make some bad decisions. I plan on being painfully honest in my blog- because its the only way to be. So, if there are things you may not want to know about me (mom), or you might not feel comfortable knowing and not telling my mom (facebook savvy uncles and cousins)think about that as you pick and choose the entries you decide to read. Topics I plan to conquer: weight gain and loss, the wonders of food, binge drinking, and anti-depressants, and how inappropriate behavior, bad decisions, and waking up in strange places in your twenties makes you a better person/wife in your thirties. I'll try to give the heads up in the titles.


So, what makes me think you want to read about my life and my opinions about things? Mostly because I'm a bit narcissistic. I've decided you really have to be when you are a teacher. There is a lot of talk about "student-centered" learning, but c'mon, the teacher is the sun and moon in their classroom. Actually I am the captain of the ship and the queen of the castle, at least that's what I tell my kids. So naturally I assume that the whole world should be paying the same rapt attention to every utterance that falls out of my mouth as I expect from my students. Also, I've just outgrown the one sentence forum of the facebook status update!


Seriously- I enjoy writing. I've always thought about writing but thought that I lacked the motivation and self-discipline to stick with it. I realized that I do, however, make the time to update my facebook status daily and to check up to see what every single person I've met since nursery school happens to be doing. I kept a blog a few years ago when I went to Spain. I toyed with the idea of keeping a blog about what happens right here in the USA. I thought about it but still didn't do it. I was further inspired by the biographical memoirs of Jen Lancaster. I kept thinking about it and then doing other important things like scouring Craig's list for the perfect bistro table (still haven't found it) or succumbing to the Twilight books (yeah- I gave in but they are AMAZING) I needed more inspiration...


Finally, inspiration literally came flying through the window. A bat flew into our living room and circled around for an hour before a friend finally came and captured it on a decorative shelf. I had an hour, standing out there on my lawn, screaming at the top of my lungs like a lunatic, to fully appreciate the situation and listen to the messages the universe (God, the angels, the Holy Spirit, the secret, Buddha)were sending me. During his brief 33 year life my father published a much too small collection of published written pieces. One of his pieces was about the under appreciated bat. He was able to draw on his knowledge and his experiences working in the bat house at the Bronx Zoo to actually make the winged rodents a sympathetic character! When my husband looked at me and said, "Who could we call?" I immediately thought of my father, who hasn't been with us in over two decades. I'd like to believe that night, he was smiling at me from Heaven, his half smile that I've memorized from years of pouring over pictures. I'd like to believe that little folly was his gentle nudge to me to get writing. With only nine years together on Earth, my dad wasn't able to give me a lot of gifts- a raccoon bank that I rubbed all the fur off of, a leather key chain I still keep on my car keys. He did give me a love for the written word. I can remember falling asleep to the sound of his typewriter or watching him read a Louis L'Amour novel, standing up next to my bed because I couldn't sleep. These things were what made me the avid reader- and sometimes writer- I am today.

Alright enough with the sappy stuff!! So here I am... post-mystical nudge, writing a blog and who knows where that will take me. Who knows, once I get the juices flowing I may write an article or a book or those wedding thank you notes I've been procrastinating over!!