Tag Archives: Pizza

Crowded, dumpy Pizzeria, 12:30pm: This is Happiness

Claire, Pizza, Happiness  2

So much of the human experience is spent in the pursuit of happiness. People define/redefine happiness and then spend the rest of the time looking for it, as if it was a lost puppy they’re certain to recognize and love once it’s found.

Happiness has become a destination, an X at the end of a long, squiggly line that’s pressed between folded pages and tucked beneath an old pair of blue jeans on the top shelf of a storage closet—the best place to keep the best things that will be the best when they finally get used.

The things people do to be happy, the journeys taken, the experiences had, they are a means to an end. Happiness is the great if/then statement when it should be a fond feeling in the ever-present, ever-fleeting now.

For Me, Today was Different

Today, my wife and two daughters (Claire, four and Maren, five-months old) met me at work. We walked two and half blocks to a nearby pizzeria—my favorite in our little city. The Pie Hole is dumpy: it’s covered in flour, the walls are lined with empty PBR beer cans, the tables and chairs are rickety, the crowd is diverse and constantly coming and going, and the pizza is the best in town.

On Mondays, five dollars gets you two slices and a drink. We spent ten dollars, dusted some crumbs from a vacant table, found a third chair, and sat down to lunch. Maren was in my arms and wouldn’t stop pressing her legs against the edge of the table. I’d pull her back, her legs would drop, and she’d lift them right back up again and press them against the table. Claire, across from me, a mouth full of half-masticated pepperoni pizza, thought this was the funniest thing in the world.

I looked at my oldest daughter. I squeezed my youngest. I glanced at my beautiful wife. This was happiness. It didn’t matter what happened on the walk back to work. The next day, the next year was irrelevant; for in those few minutes, in the thick of a crowded, dumpy pizzeria… I was happy.

Claire and Pizza an Happiness 2

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My Diet, My Breakdown

DISCLAIMER: So as to not disappoint you when you find no breakdown worthy of a trip to the ER in this post, just know that my breakdown was me being depressed (quite depressed actually) that I couldn’t eat an inviting slice of supreme style pizza in an open box, on my parent’s kitchen table; all because I was vacationing in Diet Land.

When I started my diet I weighed 168 pounds. Not bad, except that I should weigh 150 pounds. Now, I don’t expect you to cry me a river or write a book listing 184 reasons the residents of earth should feel sorry for me; just know that I didn’t feel comfortable or good at 168. So, I set a goal — I was going to lose 18 pounds.

I’ve never been on a diet; not really at least. I’ve had three days here or a week or two there that I made wiser food selections and actually exercised, but that’s grown-up, normal life stuff, right? Or at least it should be. A diet is something else.

One of those embarrassing photos where the husband (me) pretends to also be expecting (taken forever ago):

Let me be a hypocrite and do something that always annoys me — offer a definition of the word diet, found on the world wide web:

Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight.

And I will include the awesome sample sentence that was attached to the above definition:

“It is difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes.”

Fact. Except, truth be told, I’m more of a pie guy. Although, there is this cupcake place in Phoenix, AZ that will send you traveling, bare foot, on clouds of flavor and joy, all before you are surprisingly dropped in to an abandoned alleyway just to have your insides murder you; all for your time piece.

One more thing: not only would it be difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes, it would be difficult to live in a house full of cupcakes. I’d like to imagine myself swimming through the cupcakes like Scrooge McDuck swam through his money, but get real, swimming through cupcakes or trying to move around in a house full of them, would be awful, and sticky.

Back.

I wanted to weigh 150 pounds; and so, like the definition says, I restricted the amount and types of food I ate — I started a low calorie, limited food option diet. I could eat most white meats, red meat sparingly, vegetables, and fruit. Other than Total for breakfast, that was basically it. The menu was fine; I’ve always loved and eaten fruits and vegetables; I enjoy chicken breast and fish; all was well or so I thought.

The first week was great; I didn’t mess up or cheat; I even discovered that pickles have no calories. That was all before visions of Mexican food, thin sliced cheese pizza and Tom Yum Ghai danced in my head.

The blues I was feeling were not caused by eating yet another chicken breast with broccoli and 6 baby carrots as a side, they were caused by seeing my wife eat the steak ranchero plate from one of our favorite Mexican restaurants; it was my sister and mom bringing home a Costco supreme pizza, of course after 7 pm — when I can no longer eat — and of course, after I’d already consumed my limited calories for the day (like I could eat the pizza anyway).

My breakdown. I do not exaggerate when I say I stalked the pizza like a lion stalks a gazelle. I paced around my parent’s island, pretending to be casual but casting dangerous eyes at the pie. Rinda kept telling me, “James! Get away from the pizza, that’s not going to help. You only have 4 more days of your diet, you can do it!”

She was being a good wife; but that didn’t change the fact that I wanted to punch every diet, especially mine, in the neck and lunge for a slice; and then proceed to scarf it down — like Buzz did with Kevin’s cheese pizza in Home Alone. Instead, I chose to pout. I literally sat down at the counter (right next to the pizza) with hate and gloom painted all over my grill. Rinda: “What’s wrong? I was just trying to help you out, you have lost so much weight already. If you want to eat a slice of pizza, go ahead.”

I had lost 11 pounds but I didn’t care about the weight loss, I wanted pizza. When she saw me, still mad, Rinda said, “James! just eat some pizza.” I resorted back to my 4 year old self and whimpered, “you’ll be disappointed in me;” she kind of laughed (I am almost 27) and she said, “James, I’m not going to be disappointed, it’s one slice of pizza.” My sister chimed in with, “if it’s going to make you unhappy…just eat a piece of pizza.” Needless to say, I did not eat pizza that night.

Instead, I chose the mature route: I stood up, packed our things, and we left my parent’s house, leaving my family and their blasted pizza behind.

I have since assimilated that it was not the particulars of the diet that was making me unhappy, it was the lack of choice — I felt like I was trapped. From this diet I have learned the importance of balance. Go ahead, eat the things you like, even the unhealthy ones, but if you do, make sure the other meals you eat (that day or the rest of the week) are healthier; and for heaven’s sake, do some exercise.

Now, by no means am I a champion exerciser — the only time I’ve ever been to a gym is when they forced me to lift weights in 8th grade. I don’t like rooms full of exercise machinery. However, I do love being outside, especially in the morning; and so I use that as inspiration to get out and a run a mile or two. I like movies; so I watch one while I’m on a stationary bike; I like Rocky; so I pretend I’m him while I jump rope. You get the point — if you hate exercising (traditionally speaking), find an activity you do love and add exercise to it. Do you like bad radio music? Do some jumping jacks while you listen to it (not while driving).

I have lost 12 pounds. I have two days left in my diet. Pray for me.

UNFUNNY HUSBAND MOMENT: I’m a genius when it comes to reworking the words of existing songs. Rinda just LOVES it when I roam around the house singing my rendition of Hakuna Matata: “hakruna makrata, crhat a cronderfuld craze, hakruna makrata, craint no crassin craze, crit creans no crurries cror the crest of crure crays…crits crure croplem cree, cricosophy, hakruna makrata.” Thank you. Thank you. I know. I know.

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