This woman was a pinnacle of patience. Listening to her coach me how to put in contacts and take contacts out of my eye Thursday reminded me of that time in college I tried to teach someone how to drive stick. Only she was so much nicer than I was.

Whereas I remember myself saying: Really? Don't you hear that horrible grinding sound the car is making? That's bad. Where you hear that, you're doing something wrong.

She said: Oh, I think you let go of your bottom lid. Let's try again. Remember to adjust the contact on your finger.

Whereas I said to my poor pupil: More gas! More GAS! MORE GAS! Oh, see, if you had pressed more on the gas pedal and less on the clutch, we wouldn't have stalled. At least not in the horribly violent manner.

She said: Yes, they do make contacts that you can wear for 24 hours a day. They're called 24-hour contacts. But you still have to take them out at the end of the month. So you should probably give taking your contacts out another try.

Whereas I said: I wonder if it's possible for the air bags to go off if we keep stalling like that.

She said (as I grossed myself out by managing to get the contact stuck - all folded up - in the inner corner of my eye): Oh, good! It's almost out! It will be so much easier now!

After being on the learning end of such a basic human function for the first time in a long time, I can say I completely understand why adults buy presents for children who are potty training. I TOTALLY felt I deserved a present Friday morning when I managed to get my right contact in, spent five minutes trying to determine if my left contact was inside out or not (which is rather complicated since my vision was half-blurry), put my left contact in, then decide it was (in fact) inside out, took it out, flipped it, and put in back in ALL IN 20 MINUTES.

And there was no cursing!

So what do you think? Me with glasses?

Or without?

(I confess, it's a purely academic question. Now that I have invested three days in trying to get these dratted things in and out of my eyes, there is no way I'm going to let them win. They will go in and out until it's second nature. Or until I scratch the surface of my eye and am told I am better off wearing the glasses for the rest of my life. You know, for my own safety.)
This week, I'm giving away a hot pink New Balance keychain that has a little light at the end (perfect for trying to see your car door lock or the contents of your purse.) 

The rules remain the same:
- Leave one (and only one) comment here. If you comment on the Thorlos sock fundraiser post, that will count as an entry, too.
- If you tweet about this week's Friday FundRAISER post go ahead and enter again in the comments section here. 

Example: 3-dayer @jillianduch shares details about Thorlos sock fundraiser. http://bit.ly/a5O6yb

- If you post about this give-away/fundraising tip on your blog, do the same and enter again in the comments section here.
- The giveaway will be open until next Friday. Then, I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner and post another giveaway. Make sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to get ahold of you if you win. 

And, if you have a few extra minutes, please check out Leanne's online auction here. The braissere purse was made by yours truly (from a new, never-worn bra!), and we'd like to send as much traffic to the auction as possible.
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Everyone needs socks, right? And if you're walking tons and tons of miles, you don't just need any ole socks. Some people swear by super thin socks, but I've gotten hooked on Thorlos thick socks. Last year in D.C, I started out with their thicker walking socks each morning and switched to a thinner (although still well padded) sock after lunch. Everyone should try a few different types of socks out to see what works for them and their feet.

The bad news is: These socks aren't cheap (which even BlackJack can tell, as he seems extra-excited when he manages to steal one.) The good news is: Thorlos offers a fundraiser in which $7 of the $15 per sock cost goes toward your fundraising goal. You simply collect orders among your team/friends, pay $8 per sock, distribute the order when it comes in, and donate the $7 per sock to your fundraising goal yourself.

The minimum order is 12 pairs. I did this last year, because after a few Internet searches, I figured I couldn't find another source for these socks for that much less than $15 a pair, and it was easier to pay that much for a good sock if part of the proceeds were helping my own fundraising goal. Of course, some of your neighbors and friends might want to purchase a few pairs themselves if they are active :)

You can download a flier and order form here. (You have no idea how excited I am that I stumbled across AND figured out how to use this digital dropbox. I feel almost like a computer nerd :))

Anyway, if you have any further questions, e-mail me at jillianduch at hotmail dot com and I'll pass on the contact info for the Thorlos employee who helped me. I didn't want to broadcast her info across the Interweb, but I'll certainly share it in a more private manner. Good luck!

Next week on Friday FundRAISER: A Bubbles for Boobies party that dished up some fun-shaped cookies ;)
About 4 a.m., I was really starting to worry that I had no idea how to cook eggs over easy. As in, I had no idea as to whether that mean the yolks were supposed to be runny (isn't that sunny side up?) or if the term did not refer to the yolks at all.

I was really worried that this shift at the homeless shelter wasn't going well. 

See, there's supposed to be two of us making and serving breakfast. And all the other times I volunteered, the other guy pretty much did it all and just told me to do a few select things: taking egg requests, baking the bacon, cutting boiled potatoes and washing the dishes. I was pretty good at those things. Not so good at cooking eggs to order.

But this time, the other guy didn't show up. So, I sat for an hour figuring he might have just slept through his alarm and would likely appear in any second. (He didn't.) Then, I briefly considered fleeing. No one would notice until I was long gone and back in bed, right? (But that would be wrong.) So, I went and banged on the nursery door until the site manager awoke. The shelter is in a church basement, so thankfully, the nursery was just up a flight of stairs and the woman (also a volunteer) woke up easily.

Less thankfully, she had no idea how to make breakfast either. Our first attempt at making coffee in this mammoth vat with a spigot resulted in volcano-like eruptions of hot coffee out of the top of the vat. I shielded us from the eruptions by putting the top on the vat, but nothing came out the spigot. So, we scrounged up a 10-cup coffee pot and made four pots.

And the homeless people didn't seem to notice that we had no idea what we were doing. She didn't know what eggs over easy were, either, so there were some detailed instructions on preparing eggs. But everyone took it in stride. And the breakfast potatoes were amazing -- mainly, I suspect, because she cooked them with bacon grease. (What the homeless people didn't know about their food couldn't hurt them, right?)

The whole ordeal might provide the perfect argument for upgrading my cell phone to include Internet access. A quick Google search when I got home revealed this recipe - indeed, eggs over easy are what I generally have considered "runny fried eggs." Now I know.
Yes, that was me you saw drinking coffee at the gym yesterday.

At 6 a.m.

It was that, or get up even earlier so the coffee could digest and flow through my veins BEFORE I left the house. And trust me, I appreciated that 10 minutes more of sleep I got a lot more than I would have appreciated proper hydration.

I am on this kick of trying to work out in the morning to boost my metabolism throughout the day, but by Day 2 of this kick, I needed chemical help. Day 3, I just slept right through my alarm. Tomorrow, I am off work and volunteering at the homeless shelter, so plenty of coffee will be consumed before I even think about working out.

As for Friday (Day 4), maybe by then I can settle for grogginess and a few (more appropriate) glasses of water. Progress is all about baby steps, right? :)
It's finally Friday - and time for another giveaway. When you comment, please remember to include your e-mail address so I can easily contact you if you win. This week, I'm giving away a two-tone pink toggle bracelet. I don't remember exactly where I got it, but I'll admit, I've never worn it. It's time for a new home!

Here's how you enter:
- Leave one comment here or on this week's Friday Fundraiser. You can comment as much as you like, but only the first comment will count as an entry (unless you do one of the things below).

- If you tweet about this week's Friday FundRAISER go ahead and enter again in the comments section here.

Example: 3-dayer @jillianduch features advice on how to just ask for money. http://bit.ly/bVxIYJ

- If you post about this give-away/fundraising tip on your blog, do the same and enter again in the comments section here.

- The giveaway will be open until next Friday. Then, I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner and post another giveaway. Make sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to get ahold of you if you win.
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I don't think I've ever verbally asked someone for a donation. I've sent tons of letters and e-mails, but I've never initiated a conversation seeking a 3-Day donation. I just have hard time doing it. And last year, I felt a little guilty asking people for another round of donations after my family and friends had been so generous the first time around.

The reality, though, is simply asking for and receiving direct monetary donations is the easiest way to reach your fundraising goal. When you have to worry about training, hydrating and all the other things that go with the 3-Day, it doesn't hurt to save yourself some time and energy when it comes to fundraising.

So, I turned to my team captain from last year, Cari (who was a superstar fundraiser!) for some advice on how to ask for money. Here's what she had to say:

Fundraising is never easy. Most people enjoy making a difference. They either put money aside and make donations, volunteer their time to a cause they feel is in need or simply do an act of kindness. The people who donate money usually donate to something that has touched them. If they know you are doing something that requires a lot of effort you would be suprised how many will donate to you.

But the most important thing to remember is "It is not about you." It is about ending breast cancer. You are just the vehicle that helps put their money in the right hands to help cure breast cancer. You will be surprised at the people who you think will donate, and don't. But more surprising are the people who make little money or who you barely know, who do.

In my experience their are two good ways to ask for donations. The first is to write a heartfelt note to every person you know on cute stationary, telling them why you are doing this. Include the name of the organization and explain what it requires of you to join this group. Also, include a donation form and a return envelope to make it easy. Mail this to every single person you know, including your friends' parents, your parents' friends, your hairdresser, your doctors, and your holiday card list.

I have found that people will make a donation if they can and won't if they can't. It is that simple. They are not offended by your asking, because it is not directly affecting you. (Well, it really is if it saves you from getting breast cancer). It is not like you are asking for money so you can go buy a new wardrobe for your new job. Having something in writing, that they actually have to make an effort to throw away, seems to tug at their hearts.

The other way to ask for donations is via the Internet. The younger crowd seems to prefer this way, but it is very easy for them to hit that darn delete button and never think about it again. Make sure you include all of the information that makes it easiest for them to donate.

Don't forget to ask everyone you know. You will be surprised how appreciative people are that you are doing such a noble task. Last year, I received a donation from a brother of the friend I had sent a letter. The brother was visiting from out of town, saw my catchy letter about saving boobies and donated $200.00.

Don't forget it is not about you it is about saving breasts. We all have them, including men, and they must be saved.

From Jillian: You can see some sample fundraising letters here. And don't forget to enter this week's giveaway.

Next week's Friday FundRAISER will showcase a Thorlos promotion that allows you to donate $7 to the 3-Day for each pair of socks you sell.
My new roommate is clearly the best thing in BlackJack's life. When he's in his room (where BlackJack, the stealer of socks and eater of any human food, is not allowed), BlackJack lays outside the door with inhuman patience. He has, once or twice when that inhuman patience ran dry, scratched on the door.

He doesn't feel that way about me.

The second he hears my car pull in the garage, he digs at the inside of his crate, demanding to be let out. He rubs his little, curly body all over my freshly washed sheets, as if it is HIS bed, and not mine. And when he's chewing on a bone, he glares suspiciously at me and growls, as if he thinks I'd steal it from him. I swear, that little moptop has never seen me knawing on a bone or eating a dog treat but the suspicions persist.

The other day, I was reading in bed when he ran into the room, hopped on the bed, and nipped me. He wagged his little tail, barked and ran out of the room. He repeated the whole procedure when I didn't immediately follow. LIKE DOGS DO TO OTHER DOGS. Then, he went after my books. ALSO LIKE DOGS TRY TO STEAL OTHER DOGS' TOYS TO BADGER THEM INTO PLAYING. So I played with the little guy, but really.

What did I do to make him treat me like a dog!?! ;)

... Saturday while I was shopping. I've watched What Not to Wear enough that, yes, I know what they'd say. They said I'm a GIRL and should wear a dress every now and then. You know, sometime when either someone I know or I, myself, am not getting married. And then, they said necklaces are the best accessories and I should add some to my almost exclusively bracelet-and-earring jewelry collection.

(new necklace)

And what Stacy and Clinton said, I did. And OH THERE'S ANOTHER CHARGE CARD, did those Ann Taylor Outlet sales ladies see me coming. But I got some cute, professional clothing (plus two dresses - one of which is definitely casual Friday attire) at a good deal. I have a handful of skirts that go into the rotation in the summer, but dresses are a bit more feminine, right? And I love me some low-rise, wide-leg trousers. Now, I just need to lose about five pounds so I can wear them. ;)

(Yes, I did think about what Stacy and Clinton would say to that. And then, I bought the smaller size anyway. When you're between sizes, choices have to be made.)

So, the last time I wore a dress was at wedding in December. And this isn't too casual to wear to the courthouse on a Friday, is it?

I gave myself a two-week break from trying to live healthily/lose weight. There was stuffed-crust pizza, a shameful number of trips through Taco Bell's drive-thru, LOTS of McDonald's iced coffee, and various other transgressions I can't really remember now. I kinda wish I had thought to get another Shamrock shake while I was at it.

On top of bad eating, I didn't exercise. I half-sprained my ankle and soon abandoned my half-hearted intention to do non-ankle-related exercises (you know, things involving crunches and hand weights and punching the air.) It didn't happen.

Why did I do this? Well, I suspected I was plateauing, and I was sick of trying. And trying. And TRYING. Because really, how can someone write down everything they eat in a day, affirm that no more than 1,200 calories have been consumed that day, hit the gym for an hour -- and still weigh the same? I'm sure there's an explanation somewhere, but I just decided to take a mini-diet vacation and tackle the whole thing again in two weeks.

That two-week date was yesterday. Which probably doesn't count as Day One of being "good," since breakfast consisted of - yes - McDonald's iced vanilla coffee and a Volcano Burrito left over from Friday night's Taco Bell run. On the upside, I ate like a pig and ignored exercise for two weeks and only gained four pounds.  

(You also may remember me claiming I was climbing back on the bandwagon after a particularly bad day last Saturday. That didn't happen. This will.)

So, Jillian Michaels is waiting for me when I get home from Panera. And, I limited myself to a 550-calorie Asiago cheese bagel with low-fat cream cheese at Panera (the best place ever, besides my bed, to type away on my laptop) and caffeine-free Diet Pepsi. Earlier, I had vegetarian chili. And a pot of coffee. Later, I might have a salad. 

Cheers to healthy weight loss.
So, I'm starting a new series on Chai Latte Please that will feature a specific fundraising tip or piece of advice each Friday. I know what you're thinking - the 3-Day site offers a million (er, at least 101) ideas, and other online ambassadors have already posted about this. Why are you wasting space on the Interweb with such talk?

Because the more we all talk about it and the more we exchange ideas, the more likely a certain idea is to spark inspiration. And the less intimidating the whole thing will be.

So, each Friday (until it doesn't seem fun anymore), I'll post a new idea and offer a giveaway for those who follow the blog, re-tweet the fundraising post or offer their own idea in the comments section. This week's giveaway is a little pink picture frame with a pink ribbon on it. Perfect for work desk or other small area.

- Leave one (and only one) comment here or on the next post about your favorite fundraising tip.
- If you tweet about this post go ahead and enter again in the comments section here. 

Example: 3-dayer @jillianduch touts the power of a good slogan. http://bit.ly/9SeSgL

- If you post about this give-away/fundraising tip on your blog, do the same and enter again in the comments section here.
- The giveaway will be open until next Friday. Then, I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner and post another giveaway. Make sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to get ahold of you if you win. 
Last year, one of my teammates stood outside an upscale grocery store collecting donations and found herself asking men if they enjoyed boobies. She got a lot of donations -- some men even said they thought about her comment while they were shopping and decided to donate on their way out.

(I think that's how it went, anyway).

Obviously, a certain amount of fundraising success is capturing people's attention. Everyone has a certain comfort level, and one must respect trademarked and copyrighted slogans. But you should think about how you're going to get people's attention long enough for them to write a check or type in their credit card number.

One way is to send update letters/e-mails to your closer friends and family, whether or not they've donated, as a subtle reminder to donate if they are procrastinating. And a nice way to keep them informed on your training and fundraising progress either way.

For casual acquaintances/strangers, a good slogan might do the trick. My favorite, which I actually found in a 3-Day idea list, is : Save a 'pear,' support breast cancer research. I plastered it all over notecards (which sadly, did not sell well) and thank-you notes. I sold little pear-shaped candles. I even considered selling real pears (which was the 3-Day suggestion).

How else can you use it? Maybe make little magnets or business cards with the slogan and include your fundraising page URL as a reminder for people who are considering donating.

What's your favorite breast cancer slogan?

... And if you were around last spring for the wine-tasting fundraiser, I'm sure you know what that means!

Yes, I did rummage through the 36D and 38DD bras and bought four. Thankfully, the check-out clerk was female. When I got home, I unceremoniously began cutting them apart to make brassiere purses. One of which will go toward Leanne's online auction (which hasn't started yet, but when it does, it will be here.) 

No idea what I will do with the others.

But can you believe that padded bra underwires look like this?!?

Here's what a finished "purse" from last year looked like:

Little by little, laylagrace.org has become my favorite blog. Don't go there unless you have at least 30 minutes to read from the end to at least the middle of the story of a Christian family, an adorable little girl and a faith in God that (apparently) stood the test of cancer and death.

Little Layla Grace lost her struggle with Neuroblastoma yesterday. Her mother (and sometimes her father) told their story and hers through Twitter, Flickr and the blog. A little girl in a pink knit cap sucking on a Popsicle. The pain of sending your older two children - who aren't all that old at all - to their grandma's so you and your husband could watch your littlest die. The realization that what you had thought would be a few months left would only be a few weeks. And then the realization that death would not come peacefully.

It's all there. On the Internet. Because even when you think all you have is faith, another most human urge is to tell your story. To be understood. To make others understand.

A few days ago, Layla Grace's dad wrote:

We’re not made of steel, we’re not half as strong as many have made us out to be. We simply hope and believe that God has the power to change anything, even this. We cry and pray, and yell and pray, and shake our fist at God, it’s ok though… he can take it.

His post had 1,370 comments. Then, his wife wrote about refusing to allow her daughter to hear here cry as her little body lay dying:
I have to be strong for her. I have to be the one to tell her that it’s going to be ok. That I’m so incredibly proud of her strength and grace. That I will take her short amazing little life and tell the story over and over again. That she WILL continue to do God’s work and she WILL make a difference in the lives of children with cancer.

Amen. (The amen was mine, not hers.)

And then, at 12:43 p.m. yesterday, there was a Tweet:

Layla went to play with the angels early this morning. Rest in peace precious Layla. 11/26/2007 - 3/9/2010

She has 47,297 followers. Girl never made it to kindergarten, but tens of thousands of people care about the messages her mother doles out 140 characters (or less) at a time. That's more than enough space to describe the incomprehensible:

Claire told the dog 2 stop barking b/c she was going 2 wake up Layla. Tears started flowing. (posted about 8:40 a.m. today)
No, no, I'm not getting married again. I'm trying to sell the engagement ring. And help end breast cancer.

White Gold Diamond Engagement Ring
.65 carat stone set in platinum,
IGI appraised Colorless D clarity I1. Size 7

I think the sun in the picture makes part of the ring look like yellow gold, but it's a nice consistent white gold.

I'm asking $2,500 total. $2,000 will be payable to me through PayPal, and $500 of that will go directly to the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure - to a walker of your choice (I'll help you pick one if you don't know any ;). If you (or your significant other) is a 3-Dayer or an Avon Walker, that money can go toward either of your goals. Not a bad deal for a pretty ring and a decent donation, is it?

Questions? E-mail me at jillianduch at hotmail.com

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I was a woman on a mission last month.

I WANTED to win JessLC's Giveaway Giveaway. Basically, she encourages people to exfoliate (IE, get rid of) one item a week that they no longer need or use. Some people post a picture of the item on her blog for others to claim and others just submit pics of the stuff they tossed or donated on their own.

I had a lot of extra stuff. I also had a lot of extra closet space since becoming single two and 1/2 years ago, so it didn't seem like a problem. And then some stuff needed to be rearranged when I acquired another roommate. And then it occurred to me that SOMEDAY I'll move. And I got a little scared.

So, I cleared out a bunch of clothing in the name of making room for new, cuter clothes. Easy enough. Then, I went through the outer shelves in my main closet and hallway closet, tossing stuff I haven't touched in a year or so. Also painless.

There's a charity thrift shop around the corner from the church where I drop off laundry for a homeless shelter every Wednesday. So I try to have a bag ready to take to them every Wednesday. And garbage day is Monday -- this week the bin was pretty full. I still probably need to clear some more things out, but it's nice to make it a weekly/regular habit rather than forcing a major cleaning on yourself.

And all that photography of things I'm tossing paid off -- I won Jess's Giveaway Giveaway for February. Which means I went on a little shopping spree at JessLC and got $40 off. Here were my selections:

Madison Ave. Crystal And Link Earrings

Astor St. Double Bead and Link Earrings

State St. Medium Eye Earrings

Aren't they cute? And don't worry, I tossed out quite a few cheap and not-cute earrings this weekend, so there will be space in my jewelry box when these get here. And this is the stuff I'll be carting off to the thrift store today:

Stop back here on Friday. I'll kick off a series of "Think Pink" giveaways of some of the cute, breast-cancer related stuff I accumulated over the years but don't use. It's much better that you use it than allowing me to let it sit in my closet for another year or two :)
I've lost track of whether economists and/or optimists think we're in a recession/depression/turn-around. What I can tell you is: I don't have a lot of extra money laying around, and I bet a lot of other people don't either.

I've seen some Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walkers acknowledge this in fundraising letters and ask for prayers and emotional support from those who feel they can't donate. That's really gracious and honest - because the 3-Day journey is much longer than 60 miles and walkers need all the support they can get throughout training, fundraising and blister management.

But, let's be honest, that $2,300 minimum fundraising requirement isn't going to raise itself. And complaining that $2,300 is too much/too hard/utterly ridiculous isn't going to help anyone. Once one has accepted the 3-Day challenge and decided to do something bold, the only option is to move forward. And keep trying.

So, here are my suggestions for how to help a walker reach that very bold goal without spending a dime yourself:

* Get your friends to help. Seriously, take it upon yourself to send a fundraising letter to 10 (or 25, or 50) friends who you think might support your walker financially. Your walker can set you up with some sample fundraising letters you can tweak (or, I've posted some here, here and here). You can either include a print-out of their donation form in a snail-mail letter, or include a link to their fundraising page in an e-mail. I bet it will take you only an hour or two to put together, but the walker will remember your kind support for months.

* Take advantage of your business/church connections. Work out religiously at a gym? Are you best friends with someone who owns a shop with a lot of foot traffic? Decorate a donation jar on your walker's behalf and ask to set it on the counter. Or ask your church's youth group/Girl Scout troop/neighbors to have a change drive in support of your walker. You'd be surprised how much loose change adds up when several people clean our their cars/pockets/sofa cushions in the name of ending breast cancer.

* Put your Facebook/Twitter/blog followers to good use. Really, this one is limited only by your imagination. Challenge your friends to skip a cup of coffee and donate $3 (or $8, if they really like their Starbucks) and link to your walker's page. Share some of breast cancer's sobering statistics: One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. Every 3 minutes, someone else learns of this scary diagnosis. Commit to doing a training walk with your favorite walker and ask your online buddies to donate $1 for each mile you walk.

* Dedicate your credit card rewards or frequent flier miles. If your walker has to travel, he or she will have to tack those costs on top of the costs of shoes, camping gear and dri-wick clothing. Use the free rewards you get for money you already spent on your credit card to get a gift card to New Balance, another shoe outfitter, or a sporting goods store.

* Just click on blog ads. I (heart) Leanne Johnston. I've never met her, but she's a fellow 3-Day online ambassador and a 3-Day rockstar who is taking on the challenge of walking in two events this year. (She walks primarily for her grandma, who died of breast cancer 31 years ago before Leanne was born.) Check out her blog here, click on some of the Google ads, and the proceeds will go toward her fundraising goal. Go back and do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day... Takes only a few seconds, but it can make a difference.

* And in the same vein, vote for Leanne's 3-Day video. Intel is hosting an online contest through March 17 in which participants show through video, slide shows, or photography “what’s at their core." The video grand prize winner gets $7,000 for their passion (Leanne's fundraising would be finished for this year if she wins) and a laptop. Voters are entered into a drawing for a free laptop, too. Leanne's video really illustrates her pink passion -- and some great footage of creative pink walking attire from past events. Vote early, and often, here.

Vote for Me
Access Your Core from Intel

Any other ideas? Feel free to comment on this post - I'd love to hear what other passionate and creative minds have to say. :)

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The early scenes on foot-binding in this 19th-century Chinese story made me gag. And my feet tingle.

I started out determined to avoid cultural judgment and tried to compare foot-binding to breast implants or braces. Then I began to understand that these girls were made to break their own toes by walking on them while they were folded under their feet and bound. Mothers oversaw this relatively dangerous process (I think I read somewhere that 10 percent of girls died during foot-binding) so if she made a mistake - either fatal or simply aesthetic - all that pain was for naught.

But, once you get past this, you get a story about female friendship in a world where women had few public powers but vibrant, strong and colorful traditions too often marked by the harsh realities of famine and war.

The narrator insists that women had no independent value in this culture, but we see a father very publicly mourn his dying daughter, a daughter's advantageous marriage greatly improve a family's finances and a husband's genuine joy at being reunited with his wife after war. We see a son's most important duty being to his mother, so women are consistently vying to earn a great marriage match and then have a strong son. We see what should be familiar (conflicting) attitudes about the propriety of enjoying sex (which they hilariously call "bedroom business") and a more sober example of attempting to justify abuse.

And we see that love so strong that we forget where we end and the other begins can be undermined by our own dark thoughts and insecurities. A beautiful period piece.
What said, "Failure to plan is a plan to fail"? And "It's never too late to do the right thing..."?

Were they people who were trying to rub it in? Because once I made one bad eating decision yesterday, it MULTIPLIED with alarming ferociousness.

It started with me purchasing an egg-white breakfast sandwich and bagel with cream cheese at Dunkin' Donuts on my way to a long eight-hour thing. Not a bad decision all by itself - the sandwich was going to be breakfast, the bagel lunch. Only I ate both on the way to the thing.

Then, I skipped lunch and wanted to GOUGE MY EYES OUT by 3 p.m. or so when that woman was still talking about her personal experiences and not anything useful. I sought comfort in the vending machine (emotional eating, I know) and - just because God likes to laugh - the machine accidentally gave me two packages of cookies. With about 550 calories in each package.

I threw one package away, consumed the other one and then went back for some pretzels. And Diet Coke. Only the machine sent out regular Coke. Which I drank.

And by that time, there was no salvaging the day. My ankle is slightly sprained, so there's no working out for me. And I went out, blithely had a few (calorie-filled) cocktails and swung by Taco Bell on the way home. (I'm too embarrassed to say what I ate, but thanks to Taco Bell's nutrition calculator tool, I can tell you it was 709 calories. Not counting the adult beverages.)

But today is a new day. As is tomorrow, and Tuesday. Back on the bandwagon I climb, after treating myself to a medium Shamrock Shake (550 calories, 120 from fat) for lunch...

(I totally didn't know this until just now, but the Shamrock Shake has a connection to the first Ronald McDonald house. Not that it justifies bad nutrition, but it mitigates it just a tad until my next date with the elliptical machine, right? No, I didn't really think so, either.)