November 30, 2009

A Fresh Start?

Today is the last day of November and that means the end of the daily posting. Last year felt easier. Maybe it's because I had only been blogging for a few months and had some stuff bottled up. Who knows? I know I can write about whatever I want to write about but that's not really true. I can't really write about my family because they are easily offended, not that any of them read this anyway. I also find it hard to write about my dreams or aspirations because I'm afraid if I don't follow through I've let more than myself down. Instead of owning my "failures" and talking about them, I want to hide from them. Like one of my first posts was about how I was doing a push-up challenge with some coworkers. I totally let that fall by the wayside and never followed up on it on the blog. Though only one person at work involved in the challenge kept up with it, not finishing it because I sent it out to cyberspace made me feel more accountable. And that's scarier for some reason.

But I'm not going to let that matter anymore. I think I'm going to put myself out there and see what comes of it. It's been said that your dreams can never really come true until you write them down. From here on out I'm going to write what I want to write. I'm not going to censor myself but I'm not going to write anything that I can't say to someones face. People have really appreciated some of my more honest and open posts. I'm not going to get revolutionary or say crazy things or write something heart stopping tomorrow. I'm just going to let myself feel free. I need to feel unfettered somewhere. Why not here? A place of my own making? Well, here I go.

November 29, 2009

This is What I Do

Mike and I treated each other to a play in New York for our Christmas gift to each other. The show is called After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber, the playwright of Closer and the movie Notes on a Scandal. I like his work very much and I love the play After Miss Julie is based on -Miss Julie, a Swedish play from 1888. So I was really really excited to see the story about class struggles, politics and sexuality taken out of the original context and put in the context of 1945 England. To put the cherry on top of my cake, Jonny Lee Miller was playing the only male role in the show. I have had a boner for him since I was thirteen when I saw him in Hackers. Needless to say, I was excited to see this show.

Our seats were in the second to last row of the mezzanine but it was a small space for a Broadway show and we could see everything. The set was fantastic- it was an English estate kitchen with a real slate floor and beautiful set decoration. The show started off quiely and that's okay. I appreciate a good slow burn. But then Sienna Miller showed up on stage as the titular Miss Julie. I was a little skeptical of her before the show. Her experience is almost totally in film and not a lot of film actors can make the shift to stage acting very well. It's a totally different acting skill than film. An actor can be brilliant in film but suck on the stage. I wouldn't say Sienna Miller is brilliant in film but she proved my point today. There was absolutely no subtlety to her role. She was at the same level of eleven the whole time. And it really upset me. That left very little for her two costars to work with. Jonny Lee Miller was working so hard to connect with her and it looked like he was trying to act with a cardboard cutout. She was just terrible. No motivation anywhere. I wanted to hit her with a rock to get her to convey anything other than hautiness. It left a lot of frustrating questions to be answered.

Luckily there was a question and answer session after the show and we got to stay for it!! Whenever we get a q and a session I always wait too long to ask my question. This time I wasn't going to let that happen to me. So, as soon as the opportunity came, I shot my hand in the air like a jack-ass. Sienna Miller and the other actor, Marin Ireland, came out at first. So I addressed my question to them, "What about this play do you find relevant to today's audience?" You thought I was going to ask Ms. Miller if she knows what it means to act, didn't you? Well, I'm not that mean. I wanted to see what message the actors and directors wanted to convey to the people of 2009 America. Give the play a frame. Unfortunately, I got a non-answer. Both women stuttered around and mentioned the fact that the play took place during tremendous political upheaval, an upheaval some would say we're going through now. Then they wanted to know what I thought. I was offered the microphone to respond and I was like, "I didn't know if you were going for a political angle or a sexual angle." In the middle of my sentence out came JLM and he listened attentively to the last of my statement (sigh) and then listened to the moderator's better answer about how class is still an issue today and simply said, "Cruelty is timeless." He made me wish I waited for him to ask my question.

I kicked myself for the terrible exchange but Mike assured me I asked a good question just simply got a bad answer. Then we were subjected to terrible questions from old women like, "I don't know what happened- did you kill yourself at the end?" Miss Julie walked off stage holding a razor to her neck. What do you think? And that woman wasn't even the only one who didn't understand that. I think that's a testament to Ms. Miller's unfocused performance. Anyway, it was painful and I wished I thought of something better to ask.

I'm critical. I'm sure plenty of people liked the show but I looked up the Times review of the play while writing this post and the critic pretty much said everything I said here but better written. Seeing shows like that make me want to direct or act again. If I watch plays so critically I should be able to perform them with the same specificity. That's what is missing from shows that I don't like. Specificity. So get on it Sienna Miller!

November 28, 2009

Always An Excuse

There are these scrawny rose bushes in front of my apartment building that produce the most beautiful, fragrant blooms. I've shared a picture of a rose from these bushes with you before. I love walking by them every morning. I literally stop to smell the roses every day there are open buds. I don't know how but these poorly cared for bushes bloom for what feels like forever. The blooms start to appear in the mid-summer and continue until it starts to frost. Just a lovely treat to start my days.

One day a few months ago the wind was just terrible and it was knocking the tallest bush up against the brick steps. I thought it was the end of the roses since the temperature was starting to drop significantly and it was starting to get frosty but there was one beautiful bloom left. I decided to save it and I cut it off the branch with my car key. I took it up to the apartment and put it in some water. The rose opened up within a few hours and was so fragrant that its scent filled the room. I felt a little bad about taking the rose because I would be really upset if people took the communal roses but I figured no one would enjoy it if the wind killed it.

Well the frost still hasn't come yet and the bushes are still producing blooms. And this morning there was another terrible wind. And there was one lovely bloom left. And I took it. And I hope it enlivens my friend's apartment like it enlivened mine. But for some reason I don't feel any guilt. I guess I feel that I'm doing my part to prune. But seriously, I can't keep doing this.

November 27, 2009

Forget You, Clown

Do you have memories that you can't tell are real or fake? I recently read an article that said many of our memories are made up because our memories can be manipulated. And manipulated easily. All it takes is people being insistent in creating or altering the memory in which you are "involved." This has happened to me before, with a fairly fresh memory, but I'm thinking about other memories that could be literally unreal. Earlier today my sister and I were talking about things that freaked us out when we were younger and I was struck with this memory involving Florida, a trailer park, and a maniacal clown. She was too young to remember it no matter whether or not it's true so I have no one to corroborate this story. Except maybe my dad since he was driving the vehicle but I'm pretty much on my own here.

If I remember correctly, and I'm going to go with that I am, my mother was involved in something that either none of us were interested in participating with her or we couldn't participate even if we wanted to. So instead, my dad took us driving around. I'm very confident this was in Florida because that was the only place we ever spent time in that had tons of sand and a plethora of trailer parks. We meandered down some unmarked roads out of boredom and came upon this one decrepit trailer park. There were broken down trailers everywhere and it appeared it was empty. We were convinced it was an abandoned park until a clown came out from behind one of the trailers, in full costume and make-up. He made a bee-line for our car. My dad put that car in reverse so fast we couldn't even tell if he was deranged or just drunk. I don't remember being scared. I remember laughing my ass off because the whole thing was so surreal.

Somehow this memory came rushing back to me today. Now I'm trying to figure out if it was real or I dreamt it. That's the stuff nightmares are made of. Like, for reals. If only I could get someone to remember it with me, then we could figure out what really happened and what I changed with the passage of time. I wonder if I have other memories like that.

November 26, 2009

Nothing Says Congrats Like a Fresh Bouquet


I buy myself flowers to celebrate big occasions. Going out to dinner can be pricey and you can only enjoy the meal right for a moment with a few people. Clothing is a great treat because you can be reminded of your accomplishment but it's a private celebration. There's something wonderful and fresh about flowers. It brightens everyone's day and brings a smile to everyone's face. What isn't to love about sharing your joy with others?

Not Reaching for the Stars, Reaching for Branches

I'm really searching for topics here so I used my writing prompt Plinky. I haven't used it lately because I haven't seen a lot of prompts that I like. It's all user generated prompts so I should start submitting topics that I would want to answer. It's a great website so I regret not using it for so long. I think it's been months since I've signed in. Anyway, I'm telling you all this for the blogging challenge. I did post original material today, just from a website that facilitates writing. So to cover my bum, I'm writing all this fascinating information. So... Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 25, 2009

What a Happy Coincidence

I totally forgot to tell you all this awesome story from the weekend. As you know, I made Thanksgiving dinner. And Mike made a pumpkin pie. It was a new recipe we used, I don't for the life of me remember where I found it, and I made sure we bought all the items that one doesn't usually have in the house. You know- pureed pumpkin, pre-made pie crust, ground cloves, etc. And considering we were at Mom's boyfriend Bob's house, he doesn't have anything in the house so I bought ground cinnamon and ginger. Bob doesn't cook. At all. In fact, his garlic powder has solidified in the shaker and the company that makes it is now defunct. I checked.

So Mike's whisking the pie concoction to a perfect blend and I'm bringing him stuff and taking stuff away to accommodate the lack of counter space. I go to get the sugar only to discover that Bob only has cubed sugar and sugar packets from circa 1977. I look at Mike and look at the sugar. A decision was made. So to the packets we went. We opened every single, ancient sugar packet we could find. And miraculously, it was the perfect amount of sugar. Somehow, Bob knew that one day we would need 3/4 cup of sugar and he collected just enough to make that dream a reality. And thank God for it.

November 24, 2009

She's Turning It to Eleven

Mike and I came home on Sunday to two large dollops of cat poop. In the hallway. Right outside the bathroom. I immediately checked the bedroom and bed. She didn't do anything in there. Just in the hallway. She obviously had digestive issues so it wasn't revenge poop, it was probably the-carpet-is-helping-her kind of poop. Don't worry- I completely disinfected each spot, Mike cleaned the litter box, and I made sure she had lots of water.

When I got home from work yesterday there was another little present from Fluffy. In the same spot but on one of her toys. If she didn't like the toy she could've just said so. Again I checked the bed and again it was clean and clear. And like usual, there were smear marks on the bathroom floor. The cat looked surprised to see them there, like "Woah! Who did that?!" Cheeky monkey. There weren't any dollops this morning so I'm hoping she's getting better from whatever it is.

She's done this before but only when she's constipated. I once set up cat grass for her to eat instead of my plants- which she happily did- but it blocked her up and I found poo smears everywhere. So I took the grass away and she was fine. But lately, if we leave dry food out for her to eat she'll develop problems. I guess I should try and figure out if there's something she's allergic to in the dry food and try another brand like I did with the wet food. I'll tell you, she is quite a dry run for parenthood.

November 23, 2009

Prick Up Your Ears

I've been playing around on Youtube to get more familiar with some artists that don't get a lot of airplay. I'm going to share some of them with you.

My sister introduced me to an electronica band called MSTRKRFT. I immediately fell in love with the traditional piano paired with the drum machine. I love, love, love it. This video is the only embeddable version I can find worth posting. The sound quality is awesome and I enjoy watching him dance. "Heartbreaker" by MSTRKFT with John Legend:

(This dude has an entire channel on the tubes to him dancing to MSTRKFT. All of them in his basement. I kind of love that a lot.)

The same record label that represents MSTRCRFT represents Klaxons, a British band that I found a few years ago. I have a few of their singles and all of them are pretty solid. Klaxons probably aren't going to catch on in the States simply because they are somewhere between a British rock band and a British glam rock band and their videos are usually abstract and arty. "It's Not Over Yet" by Klaxons.

November 22, 2009

The Waitress Asked if I Wanted Meat How Could I Say No?

Today is a day that I don't know what to write about. I am at a loss not because I've run out of topics but because I'm with people who refuse to interact with each other in any sort of normal, acceptable way. I can't think of something else to write about and I can't write about what's going on. My mother doesn't know that I have this blog. I've told her about it. She just doesn't understand and doesn't try to. She thinks they are called blobs.

Anyway. Butterflies and rainbows. I miss my therapist.

Mike and I went to breakfast yesterday morning with my good friend and mentor and we went to breakfast with my oldest friend (she's not old I've known her from high school but I'm sure you figured this out already) and her beautiful, happy toddler. When I go out to breakfast I usually do it up. Like, for reals. I get pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast and if it's available grits. But both mornings I tried to keep it light. I was really looking forward to a fruit bowl and some oatmeal and of course neither place had them. So what do I do? I get french toast one day and fried eggs, toast, home fries and bacon. What is the matter with me?

November 21, 2009

Not a High Point of Either's Day

At around 3pm today I had my hand up a turkey's ass while my sister blew my nose. It was a very intimate moment for all involved. You have to understand- my nose was running and I was having a hard time figuring out if I got all the gibly bits out of the turkey before I shoved it in the oven. While all the cavity searching was going on, my nose decided to turn into a faucet. I couldn't blow my nose, re: bird's ass view, and there is no soap by the kitchen sink at my mother's boyfriend's house. In order to get rid of the avalanche of snot I would have to put down the bird, go to a bathroom and wash the salmonella off my hands to blow my nose and wash my hands again. So, when I hollered for help with the gibly bits my sister came to my rescue and kindly held a tissue to my nose. My brother came up to help with one last blow and the crisis was averted.

I was making a Thanksgiving dinner. A very good Thanksgiving dinner if I say so myself. I've cooked a turkey before but I wanted to do this differently- no prepackaged spices for me this time. I was nervous about what I was going to do with it. There was some leftover sage and thyme from the rutabaga stew so I figured I would bring it with me to Virginia so it wouldn't go to waste. Yes, I flew with organic sage and thyme in my suitcase. And it was thrilling. I covered the bird in vegetable oil to crisp up the skin, surrounded it with yellow onions and covered it with thyme and sage. I cooked it at 350 degrees for 2.5 hours in an oven bag. I wasn't nervous about it being undercooked, I was just nervous about it tasting good. And I think I reached my goal. At least everyone said so through filled mouths. The bird wasn't dry and it wasn't pink. It was perfect. And my nose cleared up.

November 20, 2009

Maybe My Bunk Mate Can Teach Me the French Braid

I'm nervous about retirement. I know I only have forty years before retirement (holy crap that's a long time!!) but I'm young and I really need to be aggressive here. The problem is, I have no idea what's going on. There are so many financial services commercials that I am terrified by the lingo the not-really animated cartoon people are saying. Annuities? Roth IRA? Traditional IRA? Pre-tax? Penalties? It's all French to me. I try to read about these things so I can wrap my brain around my future financial security but it's really hard. It's dense material and I'm convinced that trying to navigate all this by myself is going to land me in IRS jail. Where unsanitary things happen.

But why now, Katherine? I have a retirement account from my old job that I'm trying to figure out what to do with. I really just want to rollover what's in there and set it up to be aggressive (B E aggressive!). My current job doesn't match retirement contributions so I am on my own to find a company. I asked a friend of mine who knows a little about finance and her best advice was to find someone who will walk me through everything and take care of it. She has a person she really likes working with for her retirement and it seems like his fees are very reasonable. So when she brings in his contact info I'll give him a call.

Besides not going to money jail (it's not a state-run spa for reals), I very much want to do what's best for me and my future family. I don't want to get to retirement and realize I could have prepared better. I just feel more ignorant than prepared. And I really hate that the worst way to save for retirement is to put actual money, that you have actually made, in a regular savings account to accrue interest. Instead, the actual money, that I have actually made, is going to this imaginary place where it very well could disappear. Maybe I won't roll over after all and just start putting money in a jar and bury it in the yard. That feels much more concrete. And safe.

November 19, 2009

A Reluctant Twerd

My friend Lyndy is a huge Twilight Saga fan. I mean, massive. She has read all the books multiple times, published ones and unpublished ones; she has an Edward Cullen Christmas stocking; she got the soundtrack before it was released; and she has a life size cardboard cutout of Edward that lives in her main room. Whenever someone starts to discuss the legitimate literary value of the books Lyndy defends the books with such fervor that the debate is killed on the spot. This woman bleeds Twilight.

Me? Not so much. I hadn't even heard of the books until a year ago when the first movie was going to come out around the same time as the fourth and final book and I wanted to know what all the hubbub was about. I've since read all the books and seen the first movie. Though I couldn't put the stupid things down until I read the whole canon, I don't think the books are that well written. Stephanie Meyer is too much with the telling and not with any showing. For an English major she didn't pay much attention in her literature classes. It's almost like she skipped those to take a quickie how-to on writing a cash cow. Complex characters? No. Complex storytelling? No. The normal girl getting everything she wants with little or no sacrifice? Amazing, compelling fiction! (Don't even get me started on her Mormon anti-choice and premature marriage propaganda. I was getting pretty angry towards the middle of the fourth book.)

Anywhoodle! Tonight at 8pm I will be right there with Lyndy waiting in line to see our 12:07am showing of New Moon. We're going to play cards and Balderdash while we wait. The movie theatre has rooms that you can rent for a party and then you go right into the movie with a snack tray that is included in the party package. That's what we were planning to do but when I first called to reserve the room it was too far in advance. When it got time to reserve the room my family and I had made plans for an alternative Thanksgiving starting the opening day of New Moon. So instead of the party room tomorrow we are going in the middle of the night with a bunch of screaming mimis. And I'm probably going to tremendously enjoy the movie in spite of myself just like before. Wish us luck and keep your fingers crossed that I don't throw a shoe at someone.

November 18, 2009

Just a Taste

I am a pretty big Kurt Vonnegut fan. I've read his short stories and Breakfast of Champions (which I totally own but can't find- Mike's convinced I made this up.) I really loved Breakfast of Champions and wanted to read more and when I found out more about him as a person he was immediately endeared to me as more than a favorite author. A humanist and humorist, reading this wonderful collection of short stories and societal commentary made me want to go out and make the world a better place. This book wouldn't exist, nor would the Vonnegut that we all know and love, if it weren't for the fact that he survived the bombing of Dresden in WWII. He writes about war affecting people in quieter and more hurtful ways than killing one another but also in the hope of humanity on the personal level.

Upon hearing about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I decided I had to read it. One thing was getting in my way- I've never read the unadulterated Pride and Prejudice. Though I know how it ends thanks to countless adaptations and people spoiling it, I'm really, really loving this story. It took me a few chapters to get in the groove of the language but now I'm moving through and loving it. I'm finally reading my first Austen and it's not that bad. I can't say I'm going to rush out and buy all her books after this but I'm pleasantly surprised.

Here is a book that I can't say I recommend. Nancy Atherton released a new book in the Aunt Dimity canon this past spring and there was some literary hubbub over the release. I wanted to check it out so I asked for one for my birthday. Well, my mother got a little overzealous and bought me four of the books. That would be awesome if I liked the book but I didn't. I found it to be trite and lazy. All the characters are rich and just too nice. The only conflict in this book is created by a character that never materializes. Yes, a good villain doesn't have to be present in order to have an affect, but in this case when the threat, that took up the whole book, became reality, the climax took a paragraph. I read stuff like this when I was twelve and loved it but at 28 I'm just bored. At least it doesn't take too much concentration. I can read the others on the bus.

I don't really have anything in mind for when I'm done with Austen. I can't tell if I'm in the mood for fiction or nonfiction. I have an urban homestead how-to and a chi-running how-to that I've been meaning to crack open but I'm a sucker for something that I can get lost in. And I can't really get lost when learning about running from a book.

November 17, 2009

Bright Lights, Big City

After people found out I was a theatre major the next question would be, "so when are you moving to New York?" At the time this conversation happened the most I was planning to go to Chicago, a city with a rich non-profit theatre community. I would always have to explain why I never really felt New York was the place for me and why Chicago was a better fit. It's not that New York doesn't have a massive non-profit theatre community but it's not the same as a city that relies on non-profit groups for their theatre. I also really liked the idea of moving to Chicago- a place I've never been with few people I knew. It really would've been an awesome, probably difficult, adventure.

Needless to say, I never made it to The Windy City. And that's okay. I really do love Albany. Sometimes I wonder what-if, but it's never more than a what-else-would've-happened kind of way. But I'm surprising myself lately and kind of wishing I lived in New York. I don't know why. This is a totally new development. I don't know if it's that I would've made more tangible progress in my career or if it's something else. The culture, the weird sense of community, the accessibility of it? I don't know. But it's glittering lights are looking mighty purty.

Realistically speaking I'm sure I wouldn't like the reality of it. Yeah, we'd make more money but our cost of living would skyrocket and negate the increase. Whenever I'm there I get a little claustrophobic (granted I spend the most time in Manhattan. Brooklyn wasn't so bad.) There are so many people everywhere! I feel like I wouldn't be able to stop and smell the roses. Figuratively or literally. Yeah, my career would actually have a projection in NYC and I definitely envy that imaginary life. But I feel like even the most impatient New Yorker is more patient than Mike and I are. Maybe I should just go visit a friend for a long weekend. Let them show me around. Perhaps that's all I need to kill this wanderlust.

November 16, 2009

Getting My Namaste On

When I lived in Fredericksburg I used to practice yoga weekly. There was a great studio near my apartment and I would go every Monday to do my power yoga and align my chakras. It was a really great class and I learned a lot about myself and my abilities. Unfortunately I haven't found a yoga class at the Y that I like or even an affordable studio. The classes at the Y are less about the spirituality of yoga and are more about the physicality. That's fine and all but I find classes with that as the focus have less of a flow and I lose the meditative effects. I think I'm going to start going regularly at the Y anyway. I really need to work on getting my flexibility back. Since I've been running things aren't what they used to be.

On my run last Friday my hip was really giving me a lot of trouble. I couldn't stretch the pain away with "normal" stretching so instead of a long run yesterday I decided to pull out a yoga DVD and look for some hip openers. There were none specifically listed on the menu but I figured if I stretch everywhere what can it hurt (no pun intended)? The problem most likely isn't really in my hip but somewhere else and the pain is just manifesting itself there. Away went the furniture and out came the yoga mat.

Boy oh boy. I didn't do anything really advanced but there were quite a few times I had to just hang out in child's pose and wait for the guide to move on to something less painful. It was so upsetting to realize how much all the other activities I've been doing these past few years have had a negative affect on my body. I stretch after workouts but it appears I've been cheating myself. I am sore all over the place today. That's great, I know. That means my body was worked in a totally different way. I just wish I had more of a relaxing experience and not one that hurt so much. I know if I keep up the yoga practice I'll be more balanced (literally and figuratively) so I'll just have to do that. One more workout to add to the to do list. But this can only be good in the long run. I know it.

November 15, 2009

A Great Experience

The grants meeting was productive. It had to be, we were only meeting for one day. It was so long, though. Eight and a half hours of grant overview. Sheesh. I can't be specific but I will say I wish we had more money to give away. It was really hard deciding how much money, if any, a project could get. And even after all that, we had to cut almost every amount given because there just wasn't enough money to go around. We had to get pretty pragmatic (our administrator said we were getting heartless but what were we supposed to do?) in the end.

Next year I am going to have a totally different approach to the grants approval process. My group approached our grant appropriation with the idea that we were going to fight each amount grant by grant but the committee didn't do that until the end. Other groups had more of a solid number to give and a more solid recommendation. Now that I know how to break it down I think next year will be even better and perhaps go smoother. I think we had a lot of newbies like me this year.

When it all comes down to it, on a personal level, I had a great time. It was so much fun talking about various arts projects and groups in the area. I now have a bunch of groups and activities that I would like to check out. I wish we could've talked more to each other about non grant stuff. There was a musician, some dance people, a lot of visual artists and some community members who know grant writing. It was really refreshing! I'm looking forward to auditing these events next year. I think it will be so great!

November 14, 2009

It's Not Over Yet

I made the rutabaga stew last night and might I say it was a massive hit!! I love the recipe because everything in it was fresh (except the chicken broth but I think I'm going to try to make some myself soon.) But fresh herbs and fresh veg- awesome. Mike loved it and I loved it. I wanted to take it to lunch for the committee meeting today (more on that tomorrow- I am brain fried) but I forgot it on the counter in my rush to the gym. Sad panda. It's one of those recipes that will be better the next time around so I'm looking forward to it. I didn't cook the veggies to complete softness so they won't be complete mush in the encore serving.

As for the celery root? I am sad to report that I couldn't even unwrap it because the whole thing rotted out. It shouldn't have because it was supposed to be good for two weeks in the fridge and it had been only five days. I figure it must've been on the outs when we bought it. Man, when I picked it up to chop it... nayasty. I checked out the other celery roots at the grocery store today and they weren't that mushy- some mush, but not much at all. I was really starting to look forward to trying celery root, too. Oh well. I threw a potato in to make up for it. Next time, celeriac. Next time.

November 13, 2009

They Better Have Cataracts. Otherwise They're Just Losers.

With some investigation I've come to the following conclusion- my neighbors are the reason my cat needs to eat constantly. You see, when I come home, almost every day, my hallway reeks of pot. It's every weekday and most Sunday mornings. It pretty much stays in the hallway but sometimes it permeates into our living room. Where the cat hangs out. I should start charging those ass hats for all the cat food I'm going through. They're the ones giving her the contact high.

I don't care that they smoke pot. If that's how they want to spend their time and their money then go for it. Waste all of it, I don't care. I only care when it gets into my space. I shouldn't have to smell it. They should do everything they can to keep the smell in their apartment. I wonder if calling the landlord would be a course of action worth taking but it'd be like calling him if I can smell someone's cooking in the hallway- what's he going to do about it? There's no real proof that's where the smell is coming from (though it's painfully obvious) and I'm not going to knock on their door and ask them if they've been hitting the bong. I'll just make a fool of myself. (Really, I'm terrible with drug slang. It's embarrassing.)

At least they're quiet pot smokers. Don't even get me started with the f*ckers who lived next door before them. Those were noisy pot smokers. Hey, the only residents of that apartment who weren't pot smokers were the old couple from three years ago. What's with all the pot in that apartment? Is there a little weed garden that comes with the place? For the last three years my cat has had a contact high. Maybe I should have the landlord take my cat food costs out of my rent. That seems like a fair trade. He keeps putting those idiots in there. Maybe I will make a phone call afterall.

November 12, 2009

What Will It Be Next? Bets?

Mike is cool enough to drop me off at the Y on his way to work. It's literally on the way so it's no skin off of his teeth and I've timed out his routine so I don't make him wait to leave. It's nice because I get two hours to an hour and a half to work out and we get to spend a few minutes together in the morning. It's pretty seamless. And very awesome.

I get my stuff together the night before so it only takes me about eight minutes to do all I need to do before we head out. I've been pretty good at having the stuff I need to go ready the night before. Last night I was packing my stuff and I was surprised at how light my backpack was. I wasn't planning on swimming this morning so I just assumed that the missing hair dryer and swim gear made the difference. I double checked that I had my bra and knickers (thank goodness I checked) and went on to get my food together. As we were leaving this morning I realized why my backpack was so light- I forgot to pack my towel. I didn't have time to run upstairs so I asked Mike if I could use his sweatshirt for a towel. I got a resounding no so I popped the trunk to see if there was something that would suffice. All I could find were a pair of sweatpants so I grabbed them.

I'm in the locker room getting stuff out for an easy grab so I'm not standing around all naked-like later when I realize I forgot MY SHOWER SHOES. Not only did I have to dry myself off with a lint ball and God-know-what-else, now I have to shower unprotected. I comforted myself with the fact that I've only seen two separate people use that shower, each with flip flops, and went on with my workout.

When I was stretching I meditated that Whatever would make an empty locker room for me. There was no one in the gym so I hoped there would be no one in the locker room. And behold! There wasn't. So I stripped and hopped in the shower, took the quickest one I could whilst still getting clean and grabbed the sweatpants. Yeah. Not so much. The layers of fabric made it impossible to get a grip. So on to plan B. I ended up standing by the sink drying myself off with a combination of paper towels and the Y-provided hair dryer. It's working pretty well when someone comes in and sees me. I stopped immediately. Thankfully I was dry so I got dressed and went on with my morning.

Something tells me I need to make a check-list for tomorrow. Or suck it up and rent a locker.

November 11, 2009

Project This

I really love going to weddings that have pictures of the bride and groom from before they met, after they met and all the friends and family they've had along the way. It's fun for many reasons- you get to see your friends as babies, you get to see them as awkward teens and you get to see their parents at their age. I've been trying to figure out the best way for us to do this at our wedding. One couple took time to show everyone, one couple had it playing in the background during dinner, and another had pictures near the desserts on a poster board. I think playing it on a loop in the background is the best for us. We want to have a massive, four hour long dance party as our reception so time is of the essence and space is limited. The biggest problem, how are we going to play the slide show?

Mike has been taking a class for professional development that seems to have a lot of grant money to throw around. The class is about using multi-media in the classroom so it makes sense when Mike comes home with a ridiculous loot. He's come home from one class with a net book, and another class with a video camera and a projector. All to keep. For himself. Even if he never teaches again. Since then, I've become an Internet widow who is constantly being videotaped. As is the cat. The projector is still in the box, thank goodness. So, the problem of playing the slide show is solved! Now we just need a scanner. I wonder if Mikey has another class coming up?

November 10, 2009

Tell Him What He's Won

The man known as the "Beltway Sniper," John Allen Muhammad, is set to be put to death tonight by lethal injection in a Virginia prison. I remember when all that happened because he shot two people in Fredericksburg, VA where I was attending college at the time. One woman was shot leaving a Michael's and she survived. The other was Dean Harold Meyers, a Vietnam veteran who was pumping gas. He did not survive. Meyer's death is what ultimately got Muhammad the death penalty. Though he terrorized my community and the communities of my friends and my family, I can't say I agree with putting him to death.

I remember it being all so surreal. Since Fredericksburg was built-up around I-95, Muhammad just hopped off the interstate, set up and started shooting. That was what was so strange and unnerving- there was no rhyme or reason to whom or where he shot. Before the police realized how he chose his locations, being on a college campus created some unease. Some students were afraid he would get on a roof and start taking us out. We bobbed and weaved on campus, in parking lots and on the street. Unnecessary, yes. But it was the only levity we could bring to the situation. It was literally too close to home for comfort.

There is some evidence that Muhammad suffered brain damage and PTSD from his time in the Gulf War. But so what? His actions were reprehensible and unfathomable. He cold-heartedly killed people. Regardless of how ill he may be, he is guilty. He deserves to be in jail- in solitary confinement- for the rest of his life. But the death penalty? In a nation where we have the death penalty as the ultimate punishment- yes give him the death penalty. But the threat of the death penalty didn't stop him from shooting those people. And it doesn't stop other people from committing horrible, terrible crimes. Is killing the killer going to bring peace to those families? I really hope it does. Otherwise he's just another pointless death. Like all the others.

November 9, 2009

No Offense to Rutabegas. Or Coconuts.

I didn't do a lot of cooking until I joined Weight Watchers. I baked a lot (see: being fat) but didn't cook much. Now that I think about it I have no idea what I ate when I was living on my own until WW. I didn't have much of an example set for me. My mother is hardly what you would call a food person and my dad was into quick and cheap. Chili with noodles? Oh yeah. Chicken and rice? The bomb. Mom made the same five recipes that were rotated through the week and we always ordered pizza on Fridays. She says her limitations were set on what we would eat but she didn't really try anything new. (In all fairness to her, as a group we were painfully picky.) I've since branched out significantly, and am really enjoying the journey.

When I started WW I began looking through the myriad of recipes trying to find things that looked pretty simple for the novice chef. I ended up having a great time. I was trying new recipes weekly and since I was cooking only for myself I had plenty to eat. (Which was good considering all the kitchen staples I had to buy. I had no herbs and no other stock culinary necessities. Weekly grocery bills were huge.) Over time, I became more comfortable with what worked and what didn't and I started making very simple things off book, like quesadillas. And since I had tons of post-college time to kill I would spend hours making dinner. Through trial and error I figured out the fastest way to chop an onion, how to coordinate so things would come out at the same time, and that lemon zest is not something you can find in the store's herb section- no matter how hard you look.

I'm no Julia Child but Mike is willing to try anything I cook as long as it lacks the following- mustard, tuna (sad face), raspberries, baked fruit and balsamic vinaigrette. Other than those main things he'll eat anything. And I am eternally grateful. When I had to cook after my mom left, I wanted to throw plates at my siblings' heads. They really wouldn't eat the simplest things like green bean casserole. One Thanksgiving I tried a cornbread recipe and my brother actually spit it out. He's since repented and will eat what I make him when he visits but man, I do not envy what Mom went through. So I have Mikey (who really does like it) and thanks to his willingness the kitchen is a source of solace for me. I don't cook something from scratch every day but it feels really nice gaining confidence in the kitchen thanks to some great support.

Lately, I've been on an inadvertent soup mission. I found two soup recipes that I'm all excited about. I already tried one yesterday- a Weight Watchers' "Baked Potato Soup." I added leeks to the recipe because I LOVE leek and potato soup. I almost took the leek and made it into its own soup because I didn't know how it would go with other ingredients but I threw caution to the wind and went ahead and did it anyway. And it worked! The other soup is from my Natural Solutions magazine and it's a vegetable stew with rutabagas. I LOVE rutabagas so I'm very confident I will LOVE this soup. My only concern is that it requires 1/2 cup celery root. And I'll tell you something, you can't find that in the herbal aisle either. That shit is nasty. It looks like the aborted baby of a rutabaga and a coconut. But hey, adventure! Right?

November 8, 2009

15k? Check

Okay!!! Woo!! Woke up to the sunrise and had a nice leisurely morning before we headed out on the empty streets at 8. We got there with plenty of time. The start was on the fringe of Schenectady's Central Park, in the neighborhood, and the organizers had set up anticipated pace signs so you were supposed to start with the people of your pace. They didn't have a section for those slower than a nine minute mile so I stood with Mike near the 9 miler marker so I would have plenty of people to pass me along the way, and we would actually be together for a fleeting moment. It helps me feel not so alone, having people constantly pass me for a few miles. I'm reminded that I'm not last. We were standing there waiting for the start pistol or horn when all of a sudden we just started running. On we went!!

I had a really difficult time finding a pace maker, probably since I started in a group that ran four minutes faster than my average, but that's okay. I finally caught up with someone I realized I could stick with until the last mile. She walked/ran a lot more than my last pace buddy so I caught up with her more frequently and she had more energy at the end to run faster at the push. Man, I was really, really hurting towards the end and she took off. Total morale killer.

Those hills? Mean. I must've merely glanced at the elevation chart or I can't read. I kept an 11 minute mile pace until the first real hill at mile 5.5. I was really pushing myself. Then I got to that hill. It was really hard to recover from that. My running pack all walked up the all the hills, I trotted. I wonder if I walk/run then I will have an overall better time. I insist on running the whole of every race and do worse than people who walk probably a total of a mile. I'll have to reassess that tactic. Nevertheless, I finished around 1:50. Not too far from my goal of 1:45!

I want to say though, this race was worth it just for the people. The people who were out this morning were really amazingly kind people. All the pedestrians cheered us on. Even some of the winos. There was one guy who set up his drum set on the sidewalk and played for us. When I got to him I waved and thanked him and he waved his drum stick at me with a huge smile. All the volunteers and cops were really supportive too. It was just what I needed. That's the very reason I keep doing these crazy races- I'm reminded of the kindness of strangers.

November 7, 2009

Well Helloooo Schenectady!

Tonight Mike and I are eating a chicken casserole to carb/protein load before our 15k tomorrow. Mike is sort of meh about the whole thing but I'm feeling pretty excited! We're running in Schenectady- a town we've never done a race in and it'll be GORGEOUS tomorrow. It's November 8th and the temperature is going to be a high of 61. FanTAStic! The race doesn't start until 9am and we've already picked up our packets so we don't have to get up all that early. I think it's all super great.

The reason Mike isn't as jazzed as I is because he doesn't feel prepared. I do but I don't. I've been keeping up my cardio and I've added lifting so it's not like I'm going terribly cold. I did five miles on Thursday and my foot is feeling fine. Overall I think I'll do okay. The race course closes after two hours so I need to be speedy! I am aiming for under 1:45. That's my simple, please-dear-God-achievable, goal. I'm pondering if I want headphones or not. I could always bring them and decide then. Right?

There is a two mile incline (200 feet over 2 miles and that isn't too bad) otherwise it's a fairly flat course through a park and old town Schenectady called the Stockade. The Stockade (the race is called the Stockade-athon, the oldest 15k in the country) is a really, really old part of town that used to be the market, like, back in the 1700s and stuff. I'm excited to check it out. I've always wanted to go and I think this'll be a great way to do that. I don't know if I could have a better Sunday morning- fresh air and exercise with like-minded people and my sexy man-friend? All before noon? Awesome.

November 6, 2009

If I Were Queen of the Forest

I am terrified of my bike. I'm a little scared of falling off and I'm a lot scared of getting hit by a car but that's not my point. You know the old adage "you are scared of what you don't understand?" Well I don't understand my bike. And am therefore scared of it. And furthermore, don't ride it unless I have to. I haven't even looked at the thing since August. And that's not unacceptable.

It's the reason my weakest portion of triathlon is the bike. I am not scared of swimming and I'm not scared of running. Those events are all on me and me alone. But the bike? If the bike breaks I have no idea what to do with it. I'm too scared to ride it up to the gas station with my valve adapter to put air in the tires. What if I explode my tires? I don't know what it is that intimidates me so much. Is it because it cost so much money? Is it because I haven't really done much mechanically? I'm not bad at putting things together and fixing things that are broken but those things weren't really on the same complexity level as a bike. See what I'm doing here? I'm talking myself out of my capability. I need to snap out of it.

I took a brief bike familiarity course with the Albany Learning Center just so I knew which parts were supposed to move and which parts weren't. I remembered how to take my front wheel off and that there are two kinds of bike valves. That's about it. The problem with that course was that it wasn't hands on. I watched an experienced bike dude do all this stuff on a brand new bike that looked nothing like what I had at the time. So it was marginally helpful. My friend, very bike savvy friend, told me about this bike rescue in Troy, across the river. There are two nights- one night is a supervised fix-your-own-bike thing and the other is (probably exactly what I need) a hands on how-to-use/fix-your-bike workshop. So I'm going to check it out because I really want to feel more comfortable with my bike and subsequently ride it more.

Now I just need to work up the courage to go.

November 5, 2009

I Know You All Wanted Updates

The costume went over super well! I bought a wig from the same shop where I got last year's Tina wig and all I had to do was trim the bangs a little. It wasn't so much a pageboy as it was a short bob but it did have purple in it so it looked pretty accurate. People kept looking at me strangely all night because I looked so different. (It was starting to bum me out until the next day Mike said it was great to have his curly-haired fiance back. That was really good to hear.) Someone didn't even recognize me- he started to introduce himself when he realized it was me. So yay costume!

The grants meeting was also a success! There was some great discussion and it was really awesome to get to talk to people about their art. One member was able to show me her work space because it was only two doors down from where we met. I got to see a bunch of original works by her and other, mixed media, artists. My other comrade works in textiles. She uses one of the purses she made as her own bag so we were able to see what she does. I didn't have anything to share. I don't really carry my collages with me and I wasn't about to burst out into song so they took my word for it. I can't wait for the full meeting in a week and a half! I'm sure I'll freak out about it a little because there appears to be some strong personalities but my colleagues said it all works out no matter how heated it gets. I just wish there was more variety in the submissions.

Finally! I am so freaking glad the Yankees won the World Series. I can go back to watching my stories. Someone has been hogging the television with the DVR. And it's not Fluffy. Also, my friends can fully participate in parties and events without baseball on in the background. Now on to the Giants. Sheesh. It's never ending is it?

November 4, 2009

Let It Begin With Me

I think anti-gay marriage legislation is just plain mean. It's certainly not nice. It's not even civil. There's emotional mudslinging, slurs and vicious verbal attacks. I just don't understand why anyone would want to get in the way of other people's happiness and stability let alone taking it so far as to do it through the law. If you don't want gay people to marry, don't marry one. The world didn't end when the slaves were freed, women began to vote, when schools were desegregated or when people of different ethnicities were legally allowed to marry. Why will it end when gays can marry? I really need someone to explain it to me.

Kurt Vonnegut said that we all need to be unusually kind to each other. I agree. It makes total sense. Do unto others, right? But when you really get down to the brass tacks, everyone agrees with that in the abstract but not in execution. And that should change. I'm not saying it's easy to be nice to someone who is short with you has different values than you. I'm not always very nice. I can be pretty impatient with people and I know I need to change that. So I'm going to try. And everyone else out there should try too.

November 3, 2009

Just Can't Hide It!

A few weeks ago I was asked to be a member on a community arts grant panel. The panel is the second step in the approval process for groups to receive state funding for the following year's projects or events. This panel serves three counties in my area- Schenectady, Albany and Rensselaer. Readers of this blog (people who already know me, really) know that I care deeply about the arts. All of the arts. I love dance, print, mixed media, theatre, music- all of it. I want to make supporting and promoting the arts my career. So when I was asked to be on this panel I was elated and honored to become more of a direct proponent for arts in my community.

I'm really looking forward to this process for many reasons- I'll meet more artists who work in different fields; I'll find out about all the area groups that flew under my radar; I'm required to check in on events that get funding so I become more of a participant; I'll learn about a crucial step in the grants process; and overall I'll meet many interesting people who also care deeply about our artistic community. I couldn't believe I was asked. I'm so lucky that I can participate! This is just so thrilling for me I can't express it enough.

I meet with my committee tomorrow and I really hope I don't sound like a jack-ass. I'm the only newbie in the group so I'm going to try to be very prepared when I get there tomorrow. The first step to being prepared- eating something so I'm not preoccupied. The second step to being prepared- take copious notes on our assigned proposals. The third step to being prepared- remaining calm. The fourth, and most important, step to being prepared- being confident in my opinions and criticisms. I can do this and I can do this well. So excited!!

November 2, 2009

My Cat is an Asshole

Every morning as soon as my alarm goes off Fluffy starts her routine- walking all over me, clawing all over me, drooling all over me and biting my neck. Every blue moon she's pleasant about it- she'll just curl up next to me and start purring. When she does that I feel connected and part of a loving relationship. But if she's not in the mood I get mauled. All you have to do is look at my right arm for evidence. She claws the shit out of me. If I leave her dry food overnight she only hates me a little. But she's got to lose weight. I can't have her getting the diabetes and dying on me. That would be terrible. So I don't leave her food overnight and face the consequences in the morning.

I try to keep a routine so she can figure it out and leave me the hell alone. I get up, pee, brush my teeth, take my pill, shower, get dressed, do my make-up and hair. Then I feed her. It's the same every morning unless I go to the gym. Either she's mentally challenged or doesn't give a shit because she'll bite my legs while I'm on the toilet or getting into the shower. She's obviously not scared of me because once it gets to that point I throw her out of the bathroom and slam the door in her face only to have her come back and squawk at me. But once I get into the bedroom she's like, "Oh- you're doing your make-up? That's cool. I'll just wait over here and look adorable." She even curls up under my feet, no biting, when I'm blow-drying my hair. Wtf? But once I'm in the hallway she's in my way, tripping me. What a jerk. She's getting what she wants and she's still annoying the hell out of me.

Maybe this is all her little plan. She'll give me cat scratch fever (totally real), or make me fall in the bathroom and smack my head, or trip me in the hallway and land on something sharp (not like I leave sharp things lying around but the one day I do...) all to make me die and give her an endless supply of food. This whole time she's been sizing me up trying to figure out how long she can live off of my dead body. What an asshole.

November 1, 2009

Is This What Runners Deal With?

When Mike and I were in North Carolina a few weeks ago for a wedding, I ran a lot. It was the week after the half marathon and I wanted to keep the distance momentum going. I went for one two hour run and then for a one and a half hour run the day after that. I was feeling just fine until the night after my second run, while we were dancing at the reception. After I was done bringing sexy back, I couldn't put any weight on my right foot. It was really, truly painful. We drove home the next day so I had no choice but to stay off of it.

The pain was really strange. It wasn't in the ankle and I couldn't stretch it out. The pain ran along the right side of the heel, towards the toe. It didn't hurt to rub my foot or touch it- just standing on it caused pain. It was worse when I wore flats without my orthopedic shoe inserts. So I only wore my inserts. I was freaking out because I don't have health insurance until December. What if I developed a stress fracture with all the distances I was running? I would have no way of finding out and it could get worse. I really didn't know how to proceed.

It hurt for about a week. I swam and lifted weights for my exercise so I wouldn't put constant pressure on my foot. After three pain-free days I decided to try my foot out and go on a 5 mile run. Mike and I would like to run in a 15k (9.3 miles) this coming weekend and I want to keep my running up. I made it one mile in my run when my arch started to hurt- but not the usual location of pain. The more I ran, the more the pain moved around my foot to the spot near my heel. I cut the run short and went home.

That was last Wednesday. My foot hurt for only two days and I waited one pain-free day before I went running, which brings us to today. I wanted to see if running with the inserts would solve this problem. I made it through mile one just fine. In fact, I made it all five miles without a problem and my foot isn't hurting post run. If tonight's any indication I'll be able to make it through 9 miles. I'll take it easy this week and do some cross training.

It's all so strange and new to me. Is this normal?