Monday, January 26, 2009

Fabulous Fixations

Fabulous Terri has passed around the "Fabulous Blogger Award," in which you are supposed to name five things you are addicted to. Not too difficult, since I am a person of many obsessions, and narcissistic enough to enjoy talking about them. (Definition of narcissist: person who writes a blog about herself.)

Addiction is a loaded term, of course, and as someone who works with persons who struggle with drug and alcohol dependency, and as a person with food addiction issues myself, I am a little sensitive about throwing around the word addiction. So let me assure you that I intend this in the most colloquial of ways, with no intention of offending anybody with genuine addiction issues.
Okay, that brought the mood down, didn't it? On the lighter side, I am defining an addiction as something you are obsessed with, that you tend to overindulge in, that you would not want to go without, and in fact would have a hard time giving up.

The first thing I am not including on my list of five is running. Don't get me wrong, running is very important to me, I enjoy it (mostly) and the benefits it gives me, and I wouldn't really want to give it up. In fact, you could even say I am obsessed with it and possibly that I tend to overindulge in it.

However. The things I am including on my list are things that I would indulge in without question, at any opportunity, without any struggle. In fact the struggle, if any, would be in resisting these temptations.

Running, I must admit, is a bit of a struggle every time I go out. Getting out of bed, getting out the door; I really have to work at making myself go. Even races that I am looking forward to give me qualms and trepidations. Once I go, I'm glad I did. But running does not go down with the ease of a chocolate bar. So, while it is extremely important in my life, I'm not sure I'm quite addicted to it the way I am with these other things.

I would say, although I'm not putting it on the list, that I am addicted to the concept of exercise. That includes running, cardio machines, any classes I might take, as well as other activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, walking and hiking. I do have it in my head that I have to get some exercise almost every day, and in fact I have quotas of how much I need to do. If I do less I feel deprived and guilt-ridden. If I have to miss a planned workout, I am frustrated and concerned. Unless, of course, I plan to miss the workout in order to engage in some superior activity.

But enough. On to the fun stuff. Here are the five things I am addicted to.

  1. My BlackBerry. Call me Obama. I know now why some call it CrackBerry. It is compulsively addictive! Before getting the BlackBerry, my cell phone was utilitarian; sure I used it, but I wasn't on it all the time. I'm not one of those people who goes around with a bluetooth in my ear and appears to be talking to myself in the streets and elevators. I never really got into texting, because typing on the number pad was such a pain. But once I got that BlackBerry, with its complete keyboard and connection to my email, I never looked back. I can use the 'Berry at home in the kitchen, in court with the sound turned off, on trips where I can't use my laptop, even in movie theatres if there aren't a lot of other people around to be offended by the lit screen. And that little flashing red light that tells me I have a new message? It's like a jolt of adrenaline. I can't wait to check the message. (Of course, half the time it's junk mail. But still. It's a whole new world.)
  2. Shopping. I know this borders on a truly harmful addiction, but I do love to shop. Clothes, books, plants, antiques. I go through phases where I obsess on one category for a while, then "get over" that but move onto another. Antiques, for example. My house is pretty well furnished (okay, full), so I really have seriously cut out the furniture and home accessory shopping. But that bumped me right into clothes. When I lost weight a few years ago that particular obsession went through the roof. I know now that I have enough (too many) clothes (and shoes), so I've cut back immensely, but then there's books. (Which I will get to in a moment.) Like a "bad" addiction, successful shopping gives you such a rush. (I have, however, made good efforts to restrain myself and get my endorphin fixes from other activites. Like running. Etc.)
  3. England and all things English. If you're aware that I have another blog, you may gave gathered that I'm a bit of an Anglophile. I have traveled to England so many times that people have stopped asking whether I am ever going anywhere else, and just ask me when I'm going back to England. I'm on a mailing list to receive a daily exchange rate email. My first trip to England was in 1986, when I was a junior in college (and, like now, the exchange rate had dramatically dropped from around $2 to the pound, to under $1.50). But though my love affair with England didn't truly begin until then, the seeds were planted much earlier in my childhood reading, the books of E. Nesbit, and Betsy and the Great World, even Peter Pan* and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As an adult, I devour books that are not just English, but take me to England, from London Holiday by Richard Peck (an American), to the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher, the very English romantic fluff written by prolific Katie Fforde, and other popular writers such as Sophie Kinsella, Jane Green, Anna Maxted**, and Mike Gayle.*** Not to mention my beloved Bridget Jones's Diary and About a Boy, both of which are also amongst my favorite movies.**** My very favorite travel guide (I highly recommend it) is England As You Like It by Susan Allen Toth. (She also wrote another book called My Love Affair with England, which tells how she first fell in love with England, like me, as a college student studying abroad.) Why, you may wonder, am I so enchanted by England? Everything about it suits my tastes perfectly. Old buildings and houses and history that goes back a thousand years. English "country house" decor is my decorating style too. The amazing, beautiful gardens, and the English devotion to gardening. Acres of rolling countryside dotted with sheep. Beautiful china and porcelain (which used to be a steal, and maybe is again with the recent exchange rate—although I don't need any more—see above, shopping). The crazy road system, the one-track roads and road signs intended to perplex the Germans during WWII (this may be a myth)! Miles and miles of footpaths throughout the countryside, open to the public by law. The fondness for tea by one and all. The many, many different kinds of cream to be had, including the king of creams, the amazing decadent clotted cream, famous with scones and jam, but also commonly dolloped on desserts of all kinds (known as puddings). And all kinds of wonderful cakes, biscuits (cookies), and candy (English toffee, anyone?). Oh yes, they love their sweets in England. (Which makes it good that I only go there for visits.) Clearly, I am hooked. And I'll be back on a plane (British Airways of course) on March 9, bound for the Bath Half Marathon on March 15.
  4. Books and magazines. As you may have gathered, I am also addicted to reading material and reading, books and magazines of all kinds. I am addicted, I fear, to the extent where I amass more books, and certainly magazines, than I can get to. My study is full of stacks of books, awaiting organization, and/or reading, but probably not disposal, because I have a very hard time getting rid of books. I am happy to loan them out, though, so let me know if there's anything you want, and you don't have to hurry about returning it! I have also always subscribed to and bought more magazines than I seem to have time to read. A few years ago I let most of my decorating magazine subscriptions lapse (key word, most), but have replaced them with running and fitness magazines. The only magazines I do get through reliably (I bow my head in shame) are the celebrity gossip magazines, which I bring to the Y and read while I am on the cardio machines. I go through those like it's my job. Whenever I travel I pack plenty of reading materials, books and magazines, loading down my luggage, and even for just a short outing I pack along a magazine (and maybe a book) to fill in any down time or odd moments. I read when I watch TV, I read in bed at night, and often find my book dropping from my hand as I doze off.
  5. Starbucks lattes. Oh, I love them so. Nonfat lattes with sugarfree caramel, one shot of espresso per four ounces of beverage. (Yes, that means that a grande has four shots.) I try to restrain myself to one a day. Try. Oh yes, I think you would call it an addiction.*****

So there you go, five things that make my day—and without which my day might not happen! I am supposed to tag five other bloggers, but lots of people have already written about this one, so just feel free to jump on the bandwagon if you like!

*Particularly the Disney film and Disneyland ride, with their arial views of London.

**Please note, I am talking about the novels in this list of books, not the other titles!

***Clearly I am foreshadowing another one of my obsessions here.

****I am a connoisseur of movies that are not only set in England, but really evoke the England I love. I did an Amazon list of my favorite "English" movies, though I haven't updated it since 2007.

*****In a pinch I can substitute lattes from other espresso stands, but Starbucks have definitely got my number.


Laura Essendine said...

If you love authors in the Rosamunde Pilcher style may I suggest Penny Vincenzi, Judith Lennox, Kate Saunders and Maeve Binchy. Also Susan Howatch's early novels - Cashelmara, Penmarric and The Rich Are Different.

Be prepared to ignore your family once you get involved in them - they're addictive.

And don't eat too much clotted cream or cream teas - you'll need to run a very long way to work them off!!

Laura Essendine
Author – The Accidental Guru
The Accidental Guru Blog
The Books Limited Blog

Amanda said...

I share every one of your addictions except the all things English, don't mind English things, it just wouldn't be on my list. And I love "But running does not go down with the ease of a chocolate bar." No truer words were ever written, I totally agree. I love the benefits and often love running, but each run is still a struggle to some degree.

Terri said...

I am with you when it comes to the magazines thing. A lot of people also buy me subscriptions - right now I think I have 7, so it's hard to keep caught up with the blogging, the knitting, other reading from the library, etc. Bill calls our house the branch of the Wilmington library.

Database Diva said...

I would have to say that tea is my fixation. I have quite a variety of tea in the cupboard, but my favorite (and first cup of the day) is Bigelow Vanilla Hazelnut. When the stores stopped carrying it, I started buying it direct from Bigelow. A few months ago they e-mailed to tell me they were discontinuing it. Since then I've been hoarding it. I've got more than 10 cases, which means I've got a couple of years to discover a new favorite!

I adore high tea with scones and clotted cream!