July 31, 2009

Oh How Fast It All Goes

At 7:45am tomorrow morning I will be en route to Baltimore/Washington International Airport to meet up with my friend Pamela so we can go to our ten year high school reunion. Pamela is one of few friends from high school with whom I speak regularly. I moved to England three days after graduating from high school so I didn't get to spend breaks with friends or that last shebang summer before college with any of my high school friends. So. It will be an honest ten years since I've seen many of the people with whom I spent three awesome years. I'm very excited to go and I really hope my ass is an appropriate size.

I really enjoyed high school. Everywhere we moved was a better social situation for me and it culminated with a great high school experience. I met great people and learned what I wanted to do with my life while in high school. So yeah! I'm fairly excited. I am a little sad that it will limit me to seeing friends only from my class. And even then not all of them. We scattered pretty effectively.

Despite my excitement I can't help but worry that I failed somewhere. I lost my job. I'm not (yet) married. I have no kids. I don't own a house. My life isn't all that thrilling. If I lived in a city being all fabulous I don't think I'd care so much, not that the size of Albany should count against me. Many people from high school got master's degrees, got married, bought houses, had kids and can already afford solo vacations on the Outerbanks. I can claim none of those things. I chose a different path. And I know that. I don't even know why that's really bothering me. I must not be really okay with the path I did pick and where life has taken me. What else can explain this ill-ease? The people I'm going to be spending most of my time with tomorrow night are people who don't give a shit about that kind of stuff. We'll have fun regardless of the degrees we have or the amount of money we make. I know that. So I should just forget my worries and look forward to shooting the shit with my friends while we wait in line for the buffet complete with open bar. Yeah. That's what I'm going to do. And it's going to be awesome.

July 25, 2009

The Day I Said Hello To My Little "Friend"

I'm very proactive when it comes to my health. I go for yearly physicals, yearly gyno visits, get my teeth cleaned at least once a year, and I take so many vitamins my fluorescent urine could sprout a baby from the dirt. So every year I have at least two opportunities to address the searing pain I feel in my abdomen when I sneeze, laugh too hard or cough. It's not every time I sneeze, laugh too hard or cough, but the pain is often. And severe. I feel like my left ovary is trying to punch its way out of my body with shear anger.

This year I decided to really get to the bottom of this so I made my gyno take an extra look. He confirmed the pain was stemming from my ovary by the face I made when he poked around the vicinity of my angry little ovum dispenser. He couldn't feel anything like a cyst so he scheduled me for a sonogram to get a better look of things. I needed a sonogram? Okay. Fine. I scheduled it for a Friday so I could leave work early and not have to worry about it. But the office closes at 11am so I will have to go back to work afterwards. Bummer but okay. Fine. I just hoped I don't feel somehow violated after the procedure. I have no idea what to expect but this does have to do with my lady bits so I assumed the worst.

I assumed that I would need to take something off to get a picture of my pissed off ovary taken so I arrived for my sonogram with easy to take off clothes, cute socks and underwear. I've never had a sonogram before so I had no idea what to expect. Will I have to take off everything? Just my bottoms? Take off nothing? I quickly had my answer. I had to take everything off. Okay. Fine. Easier to do the sonogramming I guess. But once I had my fancy paper gown on and feel the stiff breeze of central air is when I notice the stirrups. I'm kindly asked to place my feet in the stirrups and then a wand is prepared with some jelly. A WAND. I'm kindly asked to help maneuver the wand into my weewaw so the tech can get a better picture of my insides. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. How could I be so ignorant? Oh man, it was so uncomfortable. The tech didn't make any small talk to fill the awkward silence while so I decide to tell a story about a friend of mine who faced a similar surprise. I tried not to laugh because I didn't want to ruin the image of the grimacing ovary so I just drummed my fingers on my chest until she mercifully removed the probe.

I was told to go wait for the doctor in his usual exam room. Where the nurse directed me to TAKE EVERYTHING OFF AGAIN. Back to the paper gown I went. And I proceeded to wait for 15 minutes only for him to come in and tell me my ovaries are perfect and that there is nothing wrong with them. If I want, he can go in surgically to check things out but I figure that is unneccesary. He told me this while he wrote me a prescription for ibuprofen. Okay. Fine. All that for nothing. I have bared all of my lady-bits to two strangers in one day- for FREE- for stupid IBUPROFEN. I could have saved the co-pay and the stiff breeze. At least I know I'm healthy. I just wish I had something to appease the pissy ovary and give me some comfort. Sigh.

July 24, 2009

I Found the Opposite of a Crap Sandwich

I lost my job on Monday. I'm not going to get into the details but it was pretty awful. I wanted to curl up into the fetal position and never come out of it. Thanks to the help of my friends and family I came out of my fear coma to realize that only good can come of this. I was deeply unhappy and I'm now free to move on to better things. I have been given the freedom to explore things I probably wouldn't have explored in the confines of my full-time job. I'm not saying I'm skipping in the streets hollering, "I'm free! Free at last!" (Though I kind of am in my heart.) But I am going for jobs that would provide me with new people, new experiences, new skills, new opportunity. A little part of me is excited. A large part of me is scared.

I was terribly ashamed. I didn't want to tell my father out of fear that he would condemn me and I didn't want to tell my mother out of fear that she would smother me in her worry. I called my father the next day when I was collected enough that I wouldn't cry. His response was one of calmness and support. He's always been calm and supportive but I've never had to tell him I was fired before. And in this economy. I wanted to wait to tell my mom when I found a new job. Sort of a "oh by the way- I lost my job but it's cool because I have this other one." That didn't work since she called my former work extension to find that my voicemail was being sent to another phone. So I had to tell her.

I've been incredibly lucky- my part-time job immediately gave me more hours and put in a good word for me in for a full-time position; I have friends from my old job sending me openings they hear about; my friends who publish All Over Albany threw some more writing assignments my way; my friend Karen brought wine; and my friend Lyndy sang anything I wanted on her karaoke video game for an hour and then slept over so I wouldn't be home alone since Mike was out of town. But most importantly, Mike is letting me cry and be mad and feel frustrated. He is willing to do whatever it takes for me to go for jobs that I wouldn't have before. I couldn't feel more supported and cared for than I do. Thanks to my friends and family I know I'm going to be okay. I have to be. There is no other way to be.

July 14, 2009

Look Out Next Year

The race results are finally posted so I am able to do a post mortem. I did this race last year in 1:32:49. This year's race was completed in 1:33:25. I shaved 45 seconds from my swim, shaved a minute from my run but added two minutes on the bike. I must admit I'm kind of bummed. I am ten pounds heavier this year (my boss says that must be muscle- I don't agree) so that could account for some sluggishness and I wasn't as regimented in my training as last year. I'm okay with how I did. I only really added 45 seconds overall, not whole minutes. It's just I thought I had shaved time off the whole thing and I didn't.

Unlike last year I felt great once it was over. I didn't want to vomit and the weather was gorgeous so I could actually talk to Pat, Lyndy and Mike while we waited for Mike's cousin Diana to reach the finish line. I didn't feel so great at the start. While I was putting my nose-plug on my hand was shaking crazily. This could have been due to the fact that I drank some of Mike's super-energy drink before we went and that stuff makes me shaky. I couldn't have been that nervous.

I think I've learned some lessons for the next race:

1. I need to get toe-clips. Being able to pull up on the bike pedals will help with speed, time and stress on my legs. Hopefully it would make the ride just a little more enjoyable.

2. Get a different water bottle. The one I used wouldn't open all the way for me to get any of my Gatorade.

3. Drinking Gatorade (or trying to anyway) was better in the long run than just water. But just Gatorade will not cut it after the race. I need to eat something immediately afterward.

4. Always get there early. Getting there as early as we did was super! We were able to get to the bathroom when there was no line and we were able to get our bearings and enjoy the beautiful morning.

I am training lightly this week but I only have 43 days until my next race. I'll be doing more bike-centric training for this one. But then once it's over I will be doing nothing but running and swimming. It's all so close! Before I know it I will be running over the finish line of the half-marathon!

July 13, 2009

Did Anyone Notice?

I finally got around to changing my masthead over the weekend. I try to change the image each month though I know not everyone notices. The image is always one that I've taken myself of something that I've done or seen or find particularly striking. This month is from the top of Mount Greylock after the hike of tremendous proportion. The storm that was coming was on the other side of the mountain, behind us, and this was the view with which we were blessed.

Last month's image was of tulips that were planted in a traffic island a few blocks from my apartment. I made people wait at a traffic light while I took the picture from my driver's side door. I kept it up for two months because tulip season doesn't last long enough, if you ask me, and it was too pretty for me to take away. I figured it was time to change it. I hope you like this month's and I hope you like all the others I take.

July 9, 2009

Just a Taste of My Summer Soundtrack

I listen to these songs in all seasons but their frequency is greater in the summer months.

1901 by Phoenix

I can't put my finger on it but there's something really light and airy about this song. It rocks, but it's not heavy. It makes me want to open a window and play it for the neighborhood.

Viva La Vida by Coldplay

This song was in my head during my first triathlon. The strings and the crescendos drive me. I always think of it in my summer races.

Rock the Casbah by The Clash

It doesn't hurt that the song is about people who live in the desert. This almost shouldn't be on the list because I listen to it year round to rock out. But like most Clash songs it's about mischief and mischief's most fun in the summer.

July 8, 2009

They Eat Liver Don't They?

I didn't make enough money in my day job in Fredericksburg to afford moving to Albany. My only option to afford the move (other than my credit card) was to get a second job. I applied around but nothing was really happening until a coworker at my day job got a job at a health store. I applied out of desperation and she got me in. In retrospect working that particular job wasn't the wisest decision because I had to do wacky stuff with my day job since the hours at the health store were pretty much only during the business day. Luckily I had a really flexible boss who really helped me out with that.

My boss at the health store was a vibrant woman. She despised vaccines, behavioral drugs and antibiotics. I'm not saying she totally eschewed conventional medicine or that she didn't have massive silicone breast implants. What I am saying she was alternative in her medicine in every way. She knew the supplements to take if you had cancer, high blood pressure, and twitching eyelids. She knew her shit. And she took it upon herself to educate the masses and shake them out of their Pfizer induced comas. I liked her. Before this job I took one crappy multivitamin. I now take a few more. Let me rephrase, I take a crap load of pills a day. Big pills, little pills, red pills, blue bills. The only prescription is my birth control, the rest are vitamins and minerals. And that's thanks to my boss' direct influence.

She taught me that there is something provided by Nature to heal any affliction and that prescriptions should be a last resort. (She wanted me and a fellow young coworker to stop taking birth control and use fertility beads instead. I politely declined.) There were other incredibly knowledgeable women who worked there but my boss attracted people like an ice cream truck in August. I'm a better person because I worked there and I'm also healthier for it. I make more educated decisions about my health and preventative medicine in general. I'm healthier, Mike's healthier and I like to think my children will be healthier. Knowledge is more than power- it's healthfulness.

But sometimes one can learn too much about alternative medical practices. Is there such a thing as learning too much? I may have found out. I read about a new movement for women to save their placentas for consumption. This nutrient rich ORGAN is said to possess hormones that will help a new mother produce more milk and stave off post-partem depression. Ok. I can understand women's concerns about those things. I'm concerned about these things. But cooking the after-birth and having it for lunch? Uh, no thank you. But being sadistic, I read on. Apparently you can cook it, dehydrate it and then make it into pills. That way you don't have to actually eat it like bloody haggis. My lunch moved back down my esophagus at that point in the article. It didn't seem so gross anymore. I would treat it like eating meat. I would ignore the middle bits and just focus on the innocent enough looking final product. You could think of it like growing your own vegetables. Something healthy for you that you grow yourself. The idea is growing on me. But as for the umbilical cord tied into a heart for a keepsake? I'll pass.

July 7, 2009

Goals, Goals, Goals

This Sunday is triathlon #2 of 2009! I'm really excited. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape and unlike the last race I don't have the swine flu. I have yet to sign up for the August triathlon because of money issues but I am so going to do it. I'm also going to be part of a team in a race this September. I'll be swimming, Mike's brother will be biking and Mike will be running. The Lake George Triathlon (the one we're doing) is an Olympic distance race which means I'll be swimming .9 miles. I almost did the whole race by myself. I'll be training for a half-marathon at that point so the 10k at the end, my only worry, would be no big deal. But I really wanted to be part of a team and I'm always trying to find things for Mike to do with me so this is perfect. I will surpass my goal of three triathlons this year! Next year I want to do four triathlons with the last one being the Lake George Triathlon.

The thing that will be super cool about the race in September is that most of my family will be there to watch me compete. It's a shame they won't see me in a full triathlon but they can watch me swim competitively- something they've never seen me do. That'll be nice. Well, I assume they will come watch me. That's the day of Mike and my engagement picnic. Am I really competing in a race and then hosting a picnic of many people- crazy family people? Yes. Yes I am. The picnic won't be until later in the afternoon and I'll probably swim for less than 30 minutes- less than a normal workout for me. Mike always runs and Joey biked over 100 miles once. This will be a piece of cake for us. We'll be amazing! And I could use the blood pressure benefits of the race. I. Will. Need. It. Bad.

Did I mention the half-marathon before? I'm running in a half-marathon with Mike. I'm trying to get friends to run it with us. So far my friend Pepper has committed. I hope he runs with me. Mike will leave me in his dust. Not because he's a jerk but because he's just faster than I. I'm looking forward to two new challenges this year. I'm going to train better for the August tri and I'm going to be pushing myself in longer swimming and running distances. It would be nice if I lost some weight in the process but that's not why I'm doing these things. I'm finding goals I can actually achieve. What a nice shift of thought.

July 1, 2009

Looks: Three

A few years ago Billy Crudup, a known film and stage actor, played John Merrick (the Elephant Man) on Broadway's The Elephant Man. In the usual press that accompanies such things he said in an article promoting the play (and I'm totally paraphrasing here) that he liked the theatre a little more than film because the stage is much more forgiving to the way people look. For those of you who aren't familiar with Billy Crudup- he looks like this:

I'm going to give him the benefit of a doubt that he meant something like if you're having a bad skin day the stage is a venue that can conceal these things. Otherwise I take what he said to mean the stage has more variety in body types and attractiveness. I disagree totally. There is just as much "diversity" on the stage as there is in film. The people are just as skinny and just as attractive. The theatre wants to sell tickets just like the movies. And they do it with sex. (And the promise of famous people in person.) Theatre is just as guilty.

That's pretty much the second biggest reason I didn't pursue a performance career on the stage. The first biggest is that I am terrible with rejection. I take it all personally even though it is a business. I was not rejected once. I was rejected every time. I was being rejected because I have a voice that only fits the parts that go to the skinny, attractive lead women. I am not that person. In the eyes of a casting agent I am the sassy best friend. I've since lost a lot of weight but I'm still not the kind of skinny The Business is looking for and wants that comes with my voice. And from what I can see, that means I have no place on the stage.

But I know I have a place in front of the stage. While I was learning performance I was also learning management. I love both very much but I love management better because I can bring the arts to more people that way. Maybe one day I can do something that doesn't discriminate and help break down some barriers. That I can try to bring change to people's minds about beauty without being literal. There are dance companies whose sole mission is to showcase diverse body types. It's not like that can't be done with theatre.

Sometimes I wonder if I will regret not trying harder. That I gave up too easily. I really miss singing. My voice was never the problem. My ass was. I will always struggle with my weight. My weight fluctuates as much as a menopausal woman's comfort level. I will never be able to eat anything I want without consequence. I will always have to work out intensely. It's really hard but I'm coming to terms with that fact. I'm willing to put in the effort to stay healthy. But I'm realizing that the best weight for me still hovers over the usual soprano's weight. That's just the way it is.