Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Delights of Detoxing!

Ok, well, I am being just a tad sarcastic.

I have been battling with my weight ever since I was a child. I remember my pediatrician telling my mum that I was "slightly obese," and she encouraged my mom to enroll me in some type of exercise class.
So, she enrolled me in a swimming class, BUT, she still continued to buy junk food - well, that was my dad...he used to shop at the Hostess Thrift shop for expired Ring Dings and other assorted, wholesome snacks!
My mom was always in the garden, or sewing...she always busy doing something...so, when she wasn't looking, I would climb up on the counter and attack the Ring Ding box! I am sure I would devour 2 or 3 at a time. My mom never, ever told me not to eat, etc. I'm sure she noticed that the boxes would become empty in no time!

Ah well, she had her own problems, and did she ever. Now, looking back, I can see that I used to eat to fill the emotional emptiness that I felt growing up...and, now that I think of it, it may be a reason I continued to do so as an adult.

In my 20s, I started to drink so much that I would regularly black out after most parties. I thought that's what people did when they got drunk. In hindsight, I can see that I switched from one "drug" to another to fill that void. After some friends showed me pictures of how I actually looked at parties (scary) I went for counseling, and the counselor suggested I join AA. I did that for awhile, and stopped drinking for about 3 months, but, then my husband(boyfriend at the time) and I took a trip to England, and, well, I couldn't avoid the pubs!

I was able to control my drinking for many years, but, when my mom died (and while she had lain in the hospital dying) I started to drink whisky and Jack Daniels on a regular basis. I even had a stash and used to drink in the morning, because the pain of losing her was unbearable. When my dad died, I drank alot too, but not in the morning and not secretly. I think losing my mom was even harder than my having brain surgery (which I had in 2007). It was absolutely devastating to see your mother shrivel and die before your eyes, as we watched on, helplessly. (Her death is too complicated to explain, but she died in an open eyed coma which she sunk into for 3 months, after a "minor" procedure went awry).

My dad died 3 years ago- and that was, of course, traumatic for me - especially when I had to clean his apartment. He was a horder, and he lived like a homeless person. SO, for the last three years, I can see that my drinking increased and again, I was out of control many times, blacking out maybe a dozen times (?). I am not sure. Anyway, I finally came to my senses and slowed things down, choosing ONLY beer.

BUT, beer. Oh dear. Beer. I love it, and it shows! I put on a ton of weight since moving to Taiwan 4 1/2 years ago. Some of it is due to the fact that I injured my back, BADLY back in December of 2010. Before injuring it, I was working out enough to at least maintain my weight, although I still gained a bit, thanks to my drinking habits (mostly). BUT, besides drinking, I STILL had an awful sweet tooth. For example, I bought "Anjoli" (my daughter) a 5 pound bag of Gummy Bears...but, within a month, I had polished it off! We always have cookies around, and if they are in the house, I would always have 1-3 a day (I was good about not finishing a bag of THOSE, though). Still, it was mindless eating.

My back pain/sciatica was really starting to depress me - I have gone to three different doctors/centers for therapy....thank GOODNESS that the third center has been the charm! I receive acupuncture, cupping, electrostimulation, traction and amazing therapeutic massage - all in one visit. Each visit is two hours, but it is surely time well spent...I am FINALLY feeling SO much better!

I am NOW 12 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight since we've moved here, though, so that's good news!

I went APESHIT (sorry for the language) over the holidays this year. From Thanksgiving to Chinese New Year (which was the end of January) I just ate and drank up a storm...but, I felt TERRIBLE! I was DRAGGING my body everywhere I went, and I was SO incredibly STIFF. We went to India over Chinese New Year break. One of the hotels where we stayed had two levels and I had to put a stool in front of the bathroom to get into it, or else get on my hands and knees (it was an unreasonably high step, but STILL!). We climbed these dunes in the desert and I was just cursing to myself the entire way up. I think it was at that point where I gave myself a good talking to. That was the last straw, really.

When we returned to Taipei at the end of January, I knew that Lent was coming up. Now, I haven't gone to Church, really, since I was 18 years old...but, I was desperate, and I knew I needed SOMETHING to give me structure/incentive. Even though I am not a Church going type, my faith is VERY important to me, but I keep it to myself. When I was recovering from brain surgery, I was actually suicidal, and I prayed every day (sometimes all day) with a "prayer shawl" that a sweet woman sent to me after the surgery. (It was knit by nuns and laypeople at a monastery in Pennsylvania). My faith saved my life, it really did.

So, in India, I heard a voice telling me that, for all that the Lord has given me (and I rarely speak this way, but He has blessed me abundantly), why don't you suffer a little and give up the things that are the MOST difficult for you to do without! Of course, I knew there was a silver lining...that if I gave up drinking and eating sugar, of course I would feel better, and certainly lose weight.

So, I went to Mass on Ash Wednesday, which, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed...I even sang the hymns along with a young woman who strummed a guitar!

That was 21 days ago.

It's been said (I can't remember WHO said it) that it takes 21 days to cultivate a new habit. Now, I don't know if the same can be said about KICKING a bad habit, but, I can safely say that I am actually getting used to not reaching for my daughter's candy, or taking the dog out for her evening walk and picking up...um...4- 5 pints of Taiwan Beer (for my husband and I). I can share now that I would think nothing of downing 3 pints a night on my own, since my husband travels so much and I am on my own.

Some of the bonuses of this detox: I feel much lighter (but according to the scale it's only a 3 pound loss). I no longer DRAG my body up the two flights of steps to my house every day. I run up them now! I can actually bear looking at myself in the mirror now - that bloated look is gone! Hurrah!

A few weeks ago, my husband bought me an iPhone for a 20th Anniversary present. I kind of resisted getting one, mostly because I am SUCH a Facebook addict. I didn't want to be able to log on wherever I went! I do enjoy it though, especially the Siri feature, and I love the fancy shmancy pedometer, too.

About the time I got the iPhone, I was invited to a Blues Concert via Facebook. I quickly RSVPd...we so rarely get out to see live bands here, so, I knew Sujoy (hubby) would be into going. One day, the band leader, Nelson, PMd me. We started chatting back and forth...and he asked me how well I spoke Chinese. (Don't ask). He suggested that we have a "language exchange." hmmmmmmmm....nah, that didn't appeal to me,for the obvious reason (I don't know this man) and also, I really do not enjoy speaking Chinese (sadly). SO, I asked him, "How about I SING with your band, instead??? Can I send you a demo??" He replied: "Sure!"

Well, it just so happened that the night BEFORE, I was "in the mood" to record my voice using the memo feature on my iPhone. A few nights before THAT night, I had dug out Rachel Fuller and Pete Townshend's In the Attic cd...and I was really digging Pete's acoustic version of "Drowned." I listened to it several times whilst folding laundry, cleaning my room, etc, and of course couldn't help sing along with him.

I was in a chilled out mood when I recorded the demo, feeling good ("clean"), and I was pleasantly surprised when I played back the demo. I sang with feeling and well, heart, I think. I love that song, I love the Who, I love Pete and Rachel, I love to sing...I think that came across in the demo.

I emailed the demo to Nelson, and he wrote back to me: "Wow, your voice is perfect! I have an idea , maybe you can become my band’s
special guest singer in the future (maybe start in April)
you can sing 2 ~ 3 songs at my band’s gigs every time we play."

Nelson gave me 7 songs to learn. Today, he sent ANOTHER email, asking me if I would perhaps like to be a formal member, as in their vocalist, because he is not sure if their vocalist will stay on with them!

So, that is the silver lining to my new life. I don't think the beer drinking Sue would have even had the nerve or the energy to make and send out a demo!

Giving up sugar and booze has definitely made me stronger, because, I can honestly say that I have been tempted several times (especially on Friday nights and the weekend nights) to give in...no one would know...Sujoy was/is traveling and Anjoli goes to bed early. BUT, I knew I had to be true TO MYSELF. I wanted to be able to look at myself proudly in the mirror in the morning...so, when I was tempted, I prayed like crazy...and THAT is how I got through!

Now that I have DIRECTION and know that I can actually fulfill a life long dream of singing in a BAND, I will treat my body like the temple that it is, and nourish it with healthy food and positive vibes. My body is my instrument! Amen. xxx

Friday, December 23, 2011

Calling an angel...

I had the pleasure of living in Montreal for one year, way back in 1996. Ok, well, to be honest, my husband and I couldn't endure the bitter cold days of a Montreal winter, so we REALLY only lasted 10 months.

Whenever I think back to those days, I am filled with a mixture of loneliness, but also a longing to live there again. I enjoyed the French influence, and the Bohemian feel of the city. I felt like I was living in Europe - I would shop at the markets every day (positively Euro,indeed), and I got to know some of the shop keepers. I was a regular at a Middle Eastern market, and the owner, this sweet old man with a cute wrinkled face, had these brilliant baby blue eyes that used to light up at the sight of me! "Ah!" He would sigh, and smile. "So beautiful, you are. So beautiful!" Ok, I am a sucker for ANY man who adores me, but, he really used to make my day. He was forever telling me that he had a delivery service, and could he please deliver my groceries? Please? Ah,no. Sorry. You can idolize me in your store, but it stops THERE!

I used to spend hours perusing through old books, cds and albums at the many used book shops on St. Catherine Street, near our house. I made a good friend in one owner. We both agreed that all we really needed in life were cds and books (oh, and a few loved ones), but, as far as material needs...little else mattered. He was sad to see me go, and I still remember saying goodbye to him. My best find in his store was an original book of poetry by Leondard Cohen's favorite poet,Garcia Lorca. I still read it, in both Spanish and English. It was a truly special find. I especially love:

Somnambule Ballad

Green, how much I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship upon the sea
and the horse in the mountain.
With the shadow of her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, hair of green,
and eyes of cold silver.
Green, how much I want you green.
Beneath the gypsy moon,
all things look at her
but she cannot see them.

I dubbed 1996 in Montreal my "Leonard Cohen Year." My husband and I were exposed to hours on end of Cohen's music for a year in Dallas, where we lived prior to moving to the great northern tundra.
I was enraptured by Cohen's music. Some find him depressing, but I find his music mesmerizing.

Leonard was born in Montreal in 1934. I know this, because I picked up a wonderful Cohen biography shortly after moving to this fair city. I actually lived on the edge of Westmount, the upper class ritzy neighborhood where Mr. Cohen grew up.

Since I could not work in Montreal, I volunteered for two organizations. One was called Compeer Montreal, where I befriended an older woman who suffered from bi-polar depression. The other organization was Meals on Wheels, where I would prep food for meals for shut-in elderly people once a week. The synagogue where I volunteered once a week (in Westmount) was actually built by Leonard Cohen's grandfather. I used to walk by the large park which he described in detail in his book, The Favorite Game. In the book, he mentioned that he lived next to the park, so I was always curious about exactly which house was his.

One day, a driver for Meals on Wheels popped into the kitchen and asked if someone could please help her deliver meals, as her partner was sick. So, I volunteered, and a woman named Margo took me up the mountain to Outremont, and as we were driving, she popped Leonard Cohen's Greatest Hits cassette into the car's player!

"I LOVE LEONARD COHEN!!" I gushed. "Oh, you do, do you?" was her response. "Well, I will have you know that I used to go out with his best friend, Morty Rosengarten (who was portrayed in Cohen's The Favorite Game, as his best friend)". I must have squealed. "WHOA! That is just too cool." So, of course, I pumped her for every single "Leonard" story she could share, not that she seemed to mind. The bottom line, Leonard Cohen can be summed up into one word: "beautiful." Yes, I can still hear Margo saying that he truly is "a beautiful man." Margo's best friend ran Leonard's Buddhist Center in Montreal, and whenever Margo saw him, he always had some "pretty, young thing" on his arm! It's refreshing to know that he really is a ladies' man!

The volunteers at Meals On Wheels all had their Leonard Cohen stories, too. "Oh, Lenny???? My cousin used to go out with him in high school! Such a sweet man, he was." I heard nothing but positive things about "Lenny!"

So, that was fun....saturating myself in Leonardness....

The year we spent there, I listened to nothing but Tori Amos and Leonard Cohen. I was on a HUGE Tori kick.

Being in such an art-infused city, I started to write a bit, and wrote a song, which was a "calling" of sorts. I was really intrigued by Cohen's comments on one of his better known compositions, "Suzanne." He said that he wrote that about a friend's wife- she was very eccentric, but lots of fun. She was not, a lover, however.
Several years later, he DID meet the love of his life, the mother of his two children, and HER name was ALSO, Suzanne. So, he described the song he wrote as a "calling" for his soulmate.

My husband and I had been trying to have a child, but, thanks to our partying lifestyle, it was no surprise that we were not having any luck in that department.

When we moved to Montreal, I started to take better care of myself and I worked out at the YMCA and walked for MILES and MILES every day in this beautiful city, a city meant for walking.

Whilst walking one day, a song came to me. A calling...I had a gut feeling that I would one day have a girl, and she would be quite musical.
I STILL haven't finished the song (I do have a melody)...so, I guess it's a work in progress.

(no title, yet!)

Hey little one with the angels in your eyes (heaven is in your eyes)

Hey little one, well, how 'bout a nice surprise?

'cuz I've been living here on this lonely earthly plane

and I've been missing Nirvana- have you seen Kurt Cobain?

(it needs another verse here)


So come on in
The water's fine
Come on in
The water's mine
You can bring your Gibson, and your Fender in to play
"Let me entertain you," she said
"Just show me the way.
Show me the way."

Well, I have to say that my "gut" was pretty much spot on target.
On March 8, 1998, I gave birth to a gorgeous baby, a little rocker we named Anjoli Simone Guha.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Home, Home Again

"I like to be here when I can!"

Sorry I was unable to post/blog much on the road. The internet connection wasn't so hot in Taitung...and I was too tired in Kenting.

We had an incredibly wonderful trip. I promise to post a detailed blog about it very soon.

I actually have to WORK tonight for 2 hours! Sheesh.

I am burned silly from spending 5 days in a convertible in the Taiwanese sun.

I got a cool tatoo...of course it's not real, but I like it so much, I think I am going to get a REAL one with the same design. It's small, and very cool. It may be aboriginal..

Here is a pic taken shortly after I got it touched up! (I smudged it a bit shopping for a t-shirt).

The non-smudgy version:

I keep hearing The Who's Tatoo in my head over and over. PT is SUCH a clever man...


Me and my brother were talking to each other
'Bout what makes a man a man
Was it brain or brawn, or the month you were born,
We just couldn't understand

Our old man didn't like our appearance
He said that only women wear long hair

So me and my brother borrowed money from Mother
We knew what we had to do
We went downstairs, past the barber and gymnasium
And got our arms tattooed

Welcome to my life, tattoo
I'm a man now, thanks to you
I expect I'll regret you
But the skin graft man won't get you
You'll be there when I die

My dad beat me 'cause mine said "Mother"
But my mother naturally liked it and beat my brother
'Cause his tattoo was of a lady in the nude
And my mother thought that was extremely rude

Welcome to my life, tattoo
We've a long time together, me and you
I expect I'll regret you
But the skin graft man won't get you
You'll be there when I die

Now I'm older, I'm tattooed all over
My wife is tattooed too
A rooty-toot-toot, A rooty-tooty-toot-toot
Rooty-toot-toot tattoo too
To you

Hugs not drugs,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We're Having a Lovely Time!

Wish you were here!!

Sujoy and I are in the southernmost tip of Taiwan- a beautiful area called Kenting.

I will write a more detailed account of our trip when I get home...I am exhausted at the moment!

I will post a few pictures for y'all to enjoy!


This is actually an area near Alishan...it's a long story,but we weren't able to make it to our cabin, so we had to bag this part of the trip and continue onto Kenting.

Matching Shoes! sick sick sick!

Our room in Kenting. If you are jealous, you should be!! hee hee

There are two rooms, plus the bathroom (duh).

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I have been thinking of ways to spice up my life lately.

I ADORE the kids I teach, and they fill my heart with so much love...it's a great feeling...but I am really in need of a challenge.

Yes, I take Mandarin lessons with a wonderful private tutor, and it's not easy, so I DO enjoy the challenge (although I am lazy about studying it!).

I REALLY want to go back to school, but I have been hesitant because I am not sure I want to pursue a teaching degree.

My first love always has been alternative medicine...well, I would rather call it Complementary Medicine. I have been thinking that it would be wonderful to combine a naturopathic "degree" with a Master's degree in Public Health.

Maybe this is a far fetched dream- but I would love to help integrate traditional and "natural" medicine in hospitals and clinics.

I KNOW the two can be combined. I am living proof that this combination works.

By the time I finish my training, we'll be ready to move back to the US (or not?).

I just want to study something I am passionate about.

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Real Me

I think I haven't been blogging, because I feel that I must present someone interesting and different to the world.

I just feel so boring lately...it's funny...even though you move somewhere exotic, after awhile life is just the same old same old.

I DO love the new house we now living in though. It's nestled in the foothills of Yangmingshan Mountain. The blaring roar of scooters has been replaced with the soothing sound of birds...ok and the screech/thumping of cats fighting on our roof!We had fun redecorating - we wallpapered all of the white walls (except for the pantry) and did the kitchen over a bit: we put black glass over butt ugly tile, added a faux wooden ceiling , and added a small bar, and I had drapes custom made in the fabric district. My neighbor brought me to Dun Hua Street- the oldest section of Taipei. Such a wonderful place- I was in awe of the beautiful fabric selections...I could spend an entire day there looking at fabric!! (I told you I was boring now!!!)

I took pictures recently after cleaning it furiously...here they are!

(I will post pics of the garden and deck as soon as I can find them!)

Our Sunroom

(I need to post some daytime pics!)

The Livingroom

The Dining Area and Kitchen

Anjoli's Crazy Bedroom!

Fireplace (obviously!)

Master Bedroom (I detest the wallpaper...but the solid red textured pattern we wanted wasn't available and Sujoy chose this without asking me first...so that is that. We'll see how long I can bear it!).

Our teeny tiny Guestroom

The bathrooms are not very exciting...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lame Girl

I have really neglected my blog...so sorry.

So much has been going on, but now things are quieting down a bit.

I promise to write a real post soon with an update of the happenings in Suesjoy's world...
but the big news is that I am a MOM again!


Is she a doll or what?