March 1, 2004

This morning, I'm thinking scrambled might be nice.

Last week I was on a Sunny-Side-Up kick: two perfect circles of golden egg goodness, smiling up at me from the skillet every morning ... all crispy and brown around the edges, fragile and quivering in the middle, sprinkled liberally with cracked lemon pepper and served on our very best wedding china. To me, a fried egg is the quintessential breakfast comfort food: the Grandpa's lap of breakfast foods, as it were. I could eat fried eggs every single day ... and last week that's precisely what we did, along with the requisite Canadian "bacon" and six-ounce glass of V8 juice. (Drinking V8 in the morning took some getting used to, until I forced myself to start thinking of it as a Virgin Bloody Mary.)  Technically, David and I have moved into Phase II of The South Beach Diet, which means that we're no longer required to eat eggs for breakfast every morning: we can have oatmeal and strawberries on bike-riding Saturdays, for instance, or slices of melon and whole grain toast on leisurely Sunday mornings. But during the hectic work week, we both like eggs: they're cheap, they're quick to fix, they're filling, they're versatile as heck. Some mornings when I'm running low on time, I grab a handful of leftover vegetables from dinner the night before and toss them into the pan along with the eggs. Spinach is good. So is asparagus. So is, somewhat improbably, cold slices of zucchini. Other mornings -- like last week -- I take my time and fry the breakfast eggs carefully, with finesse, in a spritz of olive oil cooking spray and a blizzard of pepper. Biting into a perfectly fried egg is like a little bit of warm squishy heaven in your mouth.

Even so, one of the deal-breakers of any diet is boredom. So today I'm thinking scrambled eggs would be a nice change of pace ... maybe mixed with a little chopped green onion, and topped with a spoonful of that chunky sugar-free salsa we found at Trader Joe's.

I open the refrigerator and methodically reach for the egg carton.

There is a sameness to my life these days -- a predictability, a familiar rhythm -- that I find either comforting or stultifying, depending on my mood/my hormones/the alignment of the planets/the contents of my *In* Basket at work. Mornings are exactly the same, day after day: shower, Maybelline, blow-dry, breakfast, commute. The drive to work is exactly the same: Imus on the radio, my hand on David's knee as he navigates downtown Oakland traffic, a quick hasty kiss goodbye in the parking lot next to my building. My workday is exactly the same: phones and photocopying, phones and soil density reports, phones and filing, phones and phones. Evenings are exactly the same: home, dinner, lunch prep for the next day, dishes, TV, coma. It all seems to be moving a lot quicker than it used to, too: one minute it's 5:10 a.m. and I'm crawling out of bed into the bleak and unfriendly world of morning ... the next minute I'm crawling back into that same bed at 9:02 p.m., a frazzled weary mess. One minute it's Monday and I'm looking at the endless work week, stretching out before me ... the next minute it's Friday afternoon and I'm singing along with the radio again.

One minute I'm standing in the kitchen, cooking the breakfast eggs ... the next minute I'm standing in the kitchen, cooking the breakfast eggs.

David emerges from the bathroom as I'm cracking two Grade-A Extra-Jumbos against the side of the aluminum mixing bowl. His hair is damp from the shower, and he's got a blob of shaving cream affixed to the lobes of both ears, like Grandma's clip-on earrings. "Scrambled today," I tell him, and he nods agreeably. Fine by me. I think he would eat anything I put in front of him in the morning: eggs, All-Bran, weasel patties, ground lightbulbs. He trusts me to run this diet of ours, and so far I think I've been doing a pretty decent job of it. 2003 was a disaster for us both, fitness-wise -- basically it was fifty-two weeks' worth of *Chocolate Month* -- and we are determined to turn things around in 2004. So far, the South Beach Diet seems to be a good fit for us. We've each dropped fifteen pounds since January: that's an extra chin apiece ... we're never really hungry, even between meals ... we feel better than we've felt in months, especially now that we've cut back on all the sugar and highly processed carbs we were scarfing down last year ... plus we genuinely like the foods we can have, especially vegetables and whole grains, and we're not obsessing over the foods we can't have. (We don't even miss our Saturday night Triple-Pepperoni-and-Feta Alameda Special. Much.) Once we combine the diet with regular bike-riding -- which we've already started, albeit in a sort of desultory, unfocused, Do we feel like it today or don't we? sort of way -- we'll be back to our wedding weight in no time.

In the meantime: we're having eggs for breakfast. Again.

While I'm cooking, David takes his seat at the computer, just as he does every morning, and reads through his message boards. I whisk the eggs together in the mixing bowl, along with a handful of chopped scallions and a dribble of milk, then pour the foamy mixture into a heated skillet and poke at it with the spatula for a few minutes. When everything is ready, I ladle it evenly onto two plates and pour two glasses of V8. I tuck a length of clean paper towel into David's open collar, just as I do every morning: a minor indignity he suffers with stoic good humor. He eats his eggs in front of the Super Fun Time Message Boards, just as he does every morning, while I eat mine in the bedroom with Matt Lauer. 

When he's finished eating, David says "Thank you for making breakfast." He says it in a way that lets me know he really means it, too: in a way that lets me know that I'm appreciated, that my effort is valued, that he loves me, that all of the fuss and mess and work of this diet are worth it ... that he really would eat a breakfast of weasel patties and ground lightbulbs, if it were prepared by the loving hands of his incredibly fabulous wife.

That's the sort of sameness I can live with, every day of my life.

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~ nil bastardum carborundum ~

it's NOT atkins, ok?
it's NOT low-carb, either.
[and it definitely does NOT involve weasel patties ... although i'll bet
if we mixed them with some ricotta cheese and a little almond extract, they might not be half bad.]