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In February I made the bold proclamation that I'd give up drinking for Lent. I'm proud to say that aside from a few shots of Nyquil from when I wasn't feeling well, I made it through the entire season. I was fairly certain I'd learn a few things about my relationship with alcohol and my own body during this time and I did. In that I didn't.
1. Giving up drinking was easier than I expected. Just saying "I gave up drinking for Lent" out loud helped establish what I was doing and nobody questioned it in social settings. I confirmed that I can go out with friends and have a good time drinking Diet Coke and not wine. It was a lot cheaper, too.
2. But it also never got any easier over the long haul. I figured the longer I went without liquor the less I would miss it, but that was not the case. On Friday nights, especially, at the end of a long week, I badly missed unwinding with my husband in the kitchen over some wine. Even in the last days of Lent I had to give myself pep talks, saying what a shame it would be to come that far just to blow it.
Today I speak with beloved blogger Jen Larsen, whose recently-published memoir Stranger Here details her experience losing almost 200 pounds via surgery – and her discovery that weight loss is not a magic bullet for happiness.
Larsen was the featured blogger at Condé Nast's now-defunct Elastic Waist, and her columns have been syndicated on Yahoo!'s Shine Network for Women. She is a contributor to Big Fat Deal, a blog about weight in popular culture. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, Emprise Review, and South Loop Review, among other publications. You can read a lot more about and from her here.
Why did you use a pseudonym when writing for Elastic Waist?
Let's be real: Pasta Madness has been a lot more exciting and fun than actual March Madness. No matter who you are, your bracket has been completely busted to hell by now and your favorite team has probably already long been eliminated. But pasta will always be there for you. Even when your team loses you still win, because, pasta.
Let's look at the latest games:
Linguine vs. Gemelli. Linguine's got a lot going for it and really nothing is wrong with it, per se, but Gemelli just has more. Gemelli is, by definition, twin pastas, and two of something great is always going to have an edge over just one. It's like, would you rather have one beautiful wife or two? Plus, as a short pasta, Gemelli is a more female-friendly pasta because you can just fork it up, as opposed to worrying about splattering one of your top three most embarrassing places on your body, like you would with linguine. I know I'm sort of like the Ken "Hawk" Harrelson when it comes to Gemelli: I've been a fan since day one and am not ashamed of it. Well, deal with it. I'm here to cheer for Gemelli until they fire me. Winner: Gemelli.
Pappardelle vs. Farfalle. This game is a little bit like what happens when the snobby rich kids (pappardelle) play the down-and-out scrappy kids from the other side of the tracks. Only in this case, the rich kids win because they're better in every way.
The secret to Chicago is not getting through winter: It’s being able to withstand spring.
Winter might be colder, but big picture, it doesn’t feel that long due to the holidays. You have New Year’s, then Valentine’s Day, then Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and before you know it’s March and it’s spring. Whee, right? Lambs springing about, daffodils poking through the ground, delicious new-season produce, sunshine!
Not so fast.
You most likely live here so you know what happened the first day of spring. Something that looks like this:
And ever since that day it’s been the same, over and over again: gray and tedious, the weather equivalent of an orange you spent a lot of time peeling that turned out to be dry, bitter and tasteless.
Round One is where the chips start to fall but Round Two is where hearts start to break. Everyone is already a winner and so it's heartbreaking to see starches that have made it this far stricken. But somebody has to lose.
For this round I found myself doing Google image searches on the pastas in question to see which would most likely be eaten, and in mass quantities, by me. Some of them were easy (Fusilli making it this far was a bit of a fluke) but others weren't quite as clear. Linguine seems like a slam dunk...or is it? Read on to see who won this week.
Ditalini vs. Linguine: At first this seemed easy, if unfair, sort of like Duke playing some school you've never heard of but you're rooting for because they're playing Duke. Linguine is a standard. Who ever heard of ditalini anyway? But I love an underdog, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness. Maybe a big bowl of ditalini would be fantastic. Could you use ditalini, perhaps, in lieu of macaroni and make ditalini and cheese?