Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Record

Ran ten miles this morning before work.

You know; no big deal.

After an excruciating and embarassingly bad week of training last week (we're talking crawling uphill on a mediocre 6 mile run in a manner that left my spirit broken and soul empty) this is actually a very big deal. Not only that, but it's my longest distance to date. Not only that, but it marks nearly the halfway point in the training program, and is almost at the apex. Once we get a 12 miler in at the end of September, it's downhill from there with two easy weeks before the race.

Miles to date in training: 78.5.
Coconut waters consumed: small, tropical isle's worth.
Days until I am lying on the beach in Key West: 9.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Felt The Earth Move

I was all set to write a post about the crazy weekend I had last weekend (Legs's 30th birthday followed by a whirlwind 24-hour trip to New York that involved a bottle of champagne, a hired car, the best steak dinner I've ever had, a pair of Russian strippers, dancing at Bar St. Mark's [which does not have a dance floor, BTW], a very angry game of Super Mario Brothers at 4am, candied bacon for brunch at The Smith, and then eighteen dollar mimosas at the Garden Cafe at the Plaza...) and then it had to go and earthquake, and, as Jackal says, "I'M ALL ABOUT TRENDING," so I guess I have to write about the earthquake.

OK but seriously, all of the above is factual. I didn't know you could get Super Mario Brothers and a pair of Russian strippers (no way they were twins, as claimed...unless they were somehow twins with different mothers. Or different fathers. Or both.) in the same sentence, let alone the same night. I was glad that New Kid could come out and play with us, even gladder that she allowed me access to her vintage Nintendo system after 4am. She is truly a good friend.

I digress.

I happened to be in a meeting leading a discussion on current goings-on in the organization when I noticed everyone staring oddly out of the windows (which comprised the entire south-facing wall of the room we were in). And then I saw the trees ripple, and my first thought was that Hurricane Irene had somehow jetted up from where it was around the Bahamas at 6am that morning and reached Baltimore at the speed of sound. It looked like wind outside, the way everything suddenly tipped sideways. It sounded like wind. And then, and even I thought it was cliche at the time, I saw the ground literally roll. Like waves. It rolled and the entire room pitched from one side to another. It looked as though the panes of glass separated briefly from the window frames. For a moment, everything was separate from the thing it was supposed to be a part of. My feet were on the floor, but the floor I was standing on was somehow different from the floor the people across the room were standing on. Some people actually fell slightly over, and everyone got up out of their chairs and instinctively away from the wall of windows. But it's not as though they had a choice: it was as though the room were jaggedly propelling them out of their chairs and away from the windows.

I wasn't scared at first because I thought it was the wind. I genuinely thought it was the wind. Maybe a tornado. And I thought, OK, whatever it was has passed. And then someone said, earthquake. And then I was scared. Was it the first wave? Was there another coming? Were we in danger? Should we get out of the building? Later, someone would tell me that she feared a tsunami. I hadn't thought of that at the time, but I'm sure as hell thinking about it now.

I'm born and raised in Maryland. I spent three years in Florida. Storms and wind I can handle. They come, and go just as quickly. I know all the drills, I know where to stand, I know what and what not to do.

But an earthquake? It was my first. It was the first time the earth underneath me has failed to be stable. I can envision floods, I can understand wind. But seismic activity...I have no bearing for that. For an hour after the earthquake, I couldn't get my sea legs.

Like any other national disaster, text messaging and phones were down. Thankfully, I have Gchat on my phone and was quickly able to ascertain that most of my friends and family were OK, just surprised, and still in a state of wonder of it. It will become one of those "where were you when..." Zeitgeists. There are already hash tags, Facebook pages, "likes." It's way trending.

And damn. I totally could have made some "Russian Twins and Mario Brothers!" hashtag and been ALL OVER the INTERWEBS. Ah, well. This shall have to suffice. Shiggity shiggity shwa. And, you know, #earthquakes. #EARTHQUAKES. #EARRRRTTHHQUUAAAAKES.

No, but seriously, I am sort of endlessly grateful it was as minor as it was. No lie, that was scary. We East Coasters are not used to such things.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Glory Run

Completed an 8 mile run yesterday. This is the largest amount of miles I have ever run at one time, and it was one of those Glory Runs where you finish strong and have an inkling of "I might just actually be able to do this!" Glory Runs are the things that keep you going. Because for every Glory Run, you have at least two or three runs where you're pretty sure that you're actually crying while you run, and that you may even be crying tears made of your own blood.

This means I have run a total of 50 miles in the month of August since the beginning of training. This also means I am way past due for a new pair of sneakers. I've been running in the same shoes for a shamefully long time (for a runner, anyway). Also, when I was changing my nail polish the other night, I noticed that half of one of the nails of my next-to-little toe on my right foot is purple. Ew. So, basically, now I have to wear polish at all times. Not that this is problematic. My feet are completely shredded anyway. I foresee an epic pedicure after October 15.

In other news, I went to Happy Hour with Sporty last night. Sporty and I worked together back in The Day (which, in this instance, consists of May 2007-February 2008) and we saw each other through some particularly difficult growing-up times. It was a bright moment to sit at the bar last night, sipping martinis and talking about what train wrecks we were four years ago and how much happier we are these days. And, of course, to discuss at length the Amanda Knox case (the murder of Meredith Kercher occurred when we were working together, and we followed the news trail through to the final sentencing), the Casey Anthony trial, Britney Spears's upcoming appearance at the VMA's (Really? REALLY?!), why Kate Middleton stopped eating, and other, pithier conversations tnot involving pop culture icons or the media. Suffice it to say, we can still both confidently eye one another up and say, "We have been through some THINGS. I'm glad to know you."

In other news, I am making a random, quick trip to New York tomorrow for a dinner in Brooklyn. I am psyched not only for said dinner and because I'll get to see New Kid; who is pure, unbridled awesome; but because my boyfriend splashed out on train tickets. I'm used to Greyhound which, although cheap and utterly convenient, can be rather cramped. We had a bad experience when we went to Philadelphia back in April: couldn't find seats together and somehow wound up on the stinkiest bus in the developed world. It was not a good experience.

In other news, 19 days until Key West. I've already booked a kayak tour, which I am beyond psyched about because the kayaks are CLEAR. I think I may have stated this already, but I'll just reiterate the awesomeness again: THE KAYAKS ARE CLEAR. I also ordered four books from Amazon. For a five-day trip. Optimism.

It had better not hurricane on my parade.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


So, in addition to all of this half-marathon training, I decided it was high time I cut my caffeine intake. I wonder if I might possibly hate myself a wee bit.

(Cut, mind you. As in trim. As in moderate to some degree.

Not quit.

No amount of suspected self-loathing could lead to that nonsense.)

I had noticed, as of late, that 'round 'bout eleven or twelve in the morning, I was tweaking. Like, tweaking.


I mentioned this late-morning freak-out to a friend who politely inquired what sort of caffeinated beverages I was consuming in the morning.

"Typically a large coffee or a triple latte."

"Large as in....?"

"16 ounces."

And that's just breakfast.

Then there's the green tea(s). I keep a box in my desk. For the mid-afternoon slump(s).

Then there's the energy drinks, the Rockstars and sugar-free Red Bulls, the hydrating drinks. And the Gu. Chock full of caffeine, all of them.

And don't even get me started on the sugar cravings.

Partially, I know that I crave these bursts of energy because I'm still learning the whole eating-to-working-out ratio*. If I don't eat consistently - as in, every few hours at least - I find myself in trouble. I either become so completely irritated by everything (THE AIR CURRENTS IN THIS BUILDING ARE INFURIATING!) or I just want to lay my head down on my desk and take a nice little nap. If I find myself swinging violently from mood to mood and lurching between wanting to rip my own hair out or curl up in the fetal position and sleep for an hour, chances are I just need a snack. Most of the time, the equilibrium of my body behaves like a four-year-old.

The eating isn't that big of a deal. I come to work armed with snacks, I make sure I schedule eating around meetings. On weekends, I tend to eat fewer but larger meals, but I still rely on a piece of fruit or a granola bar to see me through.

But the caffeine...that is becoming a problem.

To begin with, I am already an anxious person. Constantly in motion. I am a leg-jiggler (and have suffered the tines of my mother's fork under the dinner table when I start shaking the entire room), a fiddler, a fidgeter. Add in some caffeine, consumed over the better part of the morning, and I become something akin to a jonesing meth addict. Neck-scratching included on particularly bad days.

And, besides, caffeine (shockingly) dehydrates you. Which, in turn, makes you that much more tired when you have to, oh, you know, get up and run eight miles.

I'm on Day Three of this experiment. And, besides the blinding headache that seems to have taken the place of my daily freak-out, so far mostly what I feel is tired. This could be the "waking up at 6am to work out every morning" thing, but the tiredness is a different kind of tired than before. It's not accompanied by the jittery, hand-shaky need to WRITE EVERYTHING IN CAPS or chew the ends off of all of my pens. This tiredness is slower, but steadier.

And, let's face it, I'm not ready to give up caffeine entirely yet. I'm not a masochist. Mama needs at least a little hit in the morning.

Not entirely sure how this is going to affect my penchant for a delicious espresso martini. I guess I'll just have to put more vodka in it.

*Far be it for me to claim to be any sort of expert on half-marathon training (or athletic training in general) but one of the hardest things to learn to balance is what's coming in vs. what's being expended. If you do the amateur math (100 calories per mile, averaging 20 miles per week at the start,) you'd think that's an extra 2,000 calories you get to consume: 285.7 per day! This is false math. It doesn't work that way. While you SHOULD up your food intake, it's better to look at WHAT and WHEN you eat as opposed to HOW MUCH. Forget the "Carbo Load" mentality: protein is your friend. And fiber. And WATER. Half the time, you think you're famished when, oh, you're actually just really, really thirsty. To help me in my quest, I did some research online (with a goal of maintaining my current weight through training) and downloaded the MyFitnessPal app for my phone. It's easy to keep track of what you eat (either look up the food item and enter in the quantity OR download the barcode scanner and take a picture of it with your phone for instant nutrition info) and when you are obligated to tally what you consume, it definitely makes you think twice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Remember When...

I got to Skype with Snickers for a delicious half hour this evening.

Snickers is one of my oldest friends. Not age-wise (she's fabulously thirty), but longevity-wise. She was one of the first people I met in college, and we lived together my sophomore year. In an apartment with six other girls. And two bathrooms. It was a year of Massive Inconvenience, but also fun in the way that "only when you're 19" is it fun to live with seven roommates in a cramped apartment. There was always something going on. Then again, there was always something going on.

Snickers migrated to San Francisco after circling the US for a few years (and the globe for a six month stint), which means that San Fran is now holding two of my most favorite people (Snap and Snickers) hostage. Which means, I suppose, that at some point I'll have to go and visit. Most likely, this is looking to be next year when Snickers gets married.

It was with a bit of sobriety that we realized we're coming up on the ten-year anniversary of September 11. It occurred the year we lived together, and we, along with our six other roommates, sat glued to the TV all day with friends and significant others crowded around us.

We transitioned to raucous laughter that I produced some pictures of us from college. It's amazing how much changes in ten years, especially when it comes to fashion.

"What are you wearing? Oh my God, it's that dress I made for costuming class. That thing was horrible."

"It wasn't that bad! It was...all asymmetrical, and...kind of like a towel. Or...a shower curtain. More like a shower curtain."

"Well here, you appear to be wearing..."

"...a terry-cloth strapless top."

"It's very fashion-y. This is also when you had the crazy stripes in your hair."

"OH and we both had eyebrow rings!"

"Very fashion-y."


It's true. Snickers and I went down to the boardwalk one random September day and demanded that a grossly under-qualified teenager stick needles in our faces. Snickers was late to her psychology class that afternoon, and my mother blew a gasket when she found out about my new piercing. At Christmas that year when I was home, I fell asleep on the couch and woke up with an ornament jauntily hanging off of my eyebrow ring. I took it out shortly thereafter.

In recent years, Snickers and I, and our other friend, Princess, began emailing back and forth. It began when all three of us were inching out of weird situations we had found ourselves in, and just sort of never stopped. None of us had lost contact after college, but something about those emails roped us all in together and we're closer now, possibly, then we've been since we lived together ten years ago. The emails come nearly every day and are an endless source of laughter, support, and a sounding board for whatever we have going on in our lives.

I'm not sure if there's anything better than corresponding with someone who's known you for a long time. Who has seen you at your best--and worst--and still loves you and still thinks you're the bee's knees and worthy of all the great stuff life has to offer. And in whom you've seen so much change and yet still, somehow, the same core person she was when you first became friends so many years ago.

And, although it's relegated to Skype and email (Princess is in St. Louis these days), it's nearly the same as those weekly late-night drives to TCBY we took in college when we needed to get out of our rooms and into the night. Thankfully, Princess always had a car.

And, you know, it's great to be reminded of how fashion-y you were back then. Even while wearing a shower curtain. With asymmetrical hemlines.

Self-Aware Teenagers

So, Snap and I have been obsessing over My So-Called Life recently. She was laid up for awhile after a surgery and took it upon herself to begin re-watching the series, which came out during a pretty influential time in both our lives. I need only revisit our high school journals to see how crushingly important certain issues - primarily involving boys, popularity, and all the ways our parents were ruining our lives - were. But there were other, darker, issues as well. Drinking, drugs; even if we weren't doing them, their presence was everywhere and everyone was talking about it.

I just discovered that I can stream them on Netflix. Since I was a good girl and got my run in this morning before work, I believe I know my plans for the evening...

Monday, August 15, 2011

This Is How Horror Films Start

The Full Moon Run was scheduled for this past Saturday, the night of the August full moon. Otherwise known as the Full Sturgeon Moon (the name lent from the Great Lakes and other massive bodies of water where sturgeon tend to present themselves to fishers during this time of the summer), the Full Red Moon (often seen through haze), the Green Corn Moon, and the Grain Moon. The last heavy moon of the summer, and the one night when the moon remains solely in the night sky and cannot be glimpsed during daylight hours. There was also rumored to be possible sightings of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

But all day Saturday brought chaotic weather patterns. Heavy rain, violent claps of thunder, monsoons raging throughout the day. We weren't sure if the run would be on, if the trail would be washed out, if it would be light enough to even see it.

By 7:30pm, they still hadn't called the race, so my boyfriend and I pounded some energy drinks, had some Gu (GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!looksandtastesjustlikeitsounds), and headed up to the NCR trail head in Hunt Valley. Two hundred people had signed up, but there looked to be barely a hundred or so there. It was completely overcast and foggy, and well on its way to being totally dark. Some of the fog was due to the clouds that had decided to come down a little closer to earth, and some of it was haze on loan from the Virginia swamp fires: thousands of acres of swamp land burning since last Tuesday.

We were given our numbers and told to deck out in glow sticks. Around the neck, through the shoelaces, shoved down the backs of our shirts so that we could be seen by other runners in the woods. No head lamps, no flash lights as they would blind other runners. Just glow sticks. A techno-parade of insane runners taking off into the dark.

The rain held off, the lightening stayed away. And it was completely dark. Even the meager glow sticks didn't hold up, only briefly piercing it with neon brightness. But as runners passed ahead or fell behind, their glow sticks formed hazy auras in the fog before disappearing altogether. At one point, it was just my boyfriend and me, with no runners directly ahead or behind, and for the first time I started feeling twinges of panicked adrenaline. It's a good thing I trust him, because had he been the slightest bit shifty, he might have absconded with me into the dark and sold me into human trafficking. I'm almost entirely certain he had the same thought about me. I'm rather shady.

Because it was dark. I mean, dark dark. You could barely make out patches of overcast sky above through the knot of trees, and the crushed limestone path, which would have glowed in moonlight, was barely visible as a long rectangle ahead and behind, disappearing into clouds of darker matter. There was no visible destination ahead and no way of verifying where you had been. The woods were dark and deep, as Frost declared, but the loveliness was shrouded in an eerie stillness. Nothing moved in those woods, except for us. There was no way to tell if we were headed in the right direction, if danger lay ahead, or if the safety of a water station awaited. There was no way to see if the path was clear and safe, only the trust that the runners that had gone on ahead hadn't returned and weren't lying on the sides of the trail, and so had pushed onward into the darkness.

It was almost like a dream, with the haze from the fog creating halos of dark against darker. You forget how vulnerable we humans are; how utterly unprepared to survive in the wild without the benefit of fire, light, and GPS.

E.L. Doctorow once described writing in this way: "like driving a car at night; you can never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." This felt like that. Six miles in the complete dark, and you can only see as far as twenty or so feet in front of you. If that. But you run, you put one foot in front of the other, and you trust that you'll make it. Having my running partner there was crucial. Had I been alone in those woods, with no runners anywhere nearby, I might have panicked.

In a way, the night run was an adrenaline rush that might not have come had the moon been out in full glory. The creepier elements of the woods certainly hurried my feet a bit more, and nothing was more welcoming than the finish line, laid out in glow sticks. And the pizza we ordered and demolished around midnight once we got home was a welcome victory meal.

The run was the way anything is in life: on a path with limited vision, seeing ahead and behind only as far as you can, and going on the knowledge that if you fall, if you run into something, if you crash, if you get off-course, there will be something or someone there to help you. There is no guarantee and no certainty that danger will not befall you; just the trust in yourself, in what little of the path you can see, and the people surrounding you.

And, of course, the hope of victory pizza and beer to guide you.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Oh. My God. The exhaustion.

Week 2 of half-marathon training, and I hit a bit of a brick wall. Mostly because: it's only Week 2. Brick walls are not allowed. This shall not do.

Went to see Harry Potter the other night. I've been an avid fan since the books first came out, and have seen all of the movies. This one was, truly, spectacular. The special effects were amazing, the 3D not over-zealous. And Mrs. Weasley called Bellatrix Lestrange a "bitch." And Ron made out with Hermione. And.... [insert spoilers here]. Delightful.

In other news, tonight I am going to do something I swore I wasn't going to do. I am climbing aboard an Urban Pirates tour. I eschewed it mostly because I thought it was overrated and it wasn't going to come anything close to Gasparilla. But then the boyfriend uttered the magic words: there will be beer. And I haven't had an excuse to wear my skull & crossbones scarf since Nicole Richie got married up and decided to dedicate her life to child-rearing, accessories-designing, and keeping boho alive.

Tomorrow is the 6-mile race. In the woods. At night. I'm pretty psyched for it, so long as my body holds up and I don't trip on anything or anyone. Mostly, as always, I am excited for the after-party. A guy I know in Federal Hill does competitive biking, and we were comparing the aches and pains and disasters and glories of biking vs. running, and he quoted an author (perhaps Hemmingway?) in saying "I do not like writing; I like having written." The same, it seems, holds true for biking and running. I do not always like running. But I like having run. The satisfaction I get in logging miles, in pinning my race number on my wall next to the others I'm amassing, in comparing times and courses is monumental. The actual running part of it...well, most of the time, it sucks. It's hard and it hurts, and it leaves you feeling about a trillion years old. Sometimes.

And then sometimes you feel pretty damn spectacular. Pushing yourself, training, seeing and feeling results are all substantial positives of taking on something athletic.

And, you know, post-race beers taste the best.


Monday, August 8, 2011

This Is Not A Food Blog

The best part about this blog post? I'm eating the leftovers as I upload.

Pulled chicken BBQ recipe from Eating Well. The recipe doesn't mention anything about parbaking, but I'm glad I did. I anticipated 5 hours of cooking time, but wound up with only four because forty five minutes of it was spent tearing the kitchen apart looking for the can opener my roommates took camping with them, and the remaining fifteen was spent dashing to Lee's house to borrow his. Oh, and there was beer. And wine. And sangria. You know.Parbake chicken: rinse chicken thighs, trim all fat. Lay in glass pan (I sprayed with cooking spray), sprinkled with chipolte chile powder. Bake at 250 for one hour. Before:

And after:

Make sure the chicken has time to cool after parbaking and before pulling. Pulling is fun and greasy. Make sure you wrap a paper towel around your beer so that you don't smear chicken crap all over it. And yes, you should be sipping a beer whilst pulling. 2.5 pounds of chicken to pull takes a bit of time.

One of my side dishes was a corn and bean salad that I often make in the summer. It's super easy, super cheap, and delightfully healthy. As in: you can eat 17 tons of it and not feel like wanting to die. The recipe is simple: 1 can corn, 1 can black beans, 1 can mild or hot green chiles, 1 can diced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and I always add a little paprika or chile powder for spice. Hot sauce is good, too. There happened to be fresh okra in the fridge (my roommates are diligent and creative cooks: don't think that I would just happen to have okra lying around), so I flash boiled some (2 min, then doused with cold water), chopped it up, and added that too.

The cat watched. We are tentatively on good terms.

Hot Curry made some delicious slaw:

Boxed wine is kind of the best thing ever. Thanks, Josh.

Awesome. Fin.

Hot Curry

Week One of Half-Marathon training complete. Logged 14 miles overall and an hour of weight training. Pretty light to start, but it only goes up from here. I am still holding onto my "how to eat an elephant" mentality of one thing at a time. Gazing overly long at the training schedule in its entirety causes immediate fatigue. Best to avoid fatigue when one is training for an athletic event.

In other news, I successfully made pulled BBQ chicken this weekend for Josh, Lee, and Lee's fiance. (She reads my blog and really, at this point, is quite deserving of her own nickname. Except that I really just want to call her Hot Curry. Which she might find hilarious. Or blatantly annoying, one or the other. I should probably give credit to her accomplishments and soon call her "Doc." But that sounds butch. I dunno. This might be an ongoing campaign: procure handle for Lee's fiance.) The evening was quite fun and evolved (or devolved, in some cases) into a very abstract and poignant game of Scattegories. The funniest bits, naturally, cannot be rewritten here as our senses of humor can be somewhat less than politically correct and substantially fortified by bathroom humor.

I actually managed to document the cooking of the chicken and will be posting delicious photos this week. This is part of my campaign to regularly use my fabulous birthday gift from my parents: a new camera.

On the docket this week: 21 miles to run, 6 of which will be done during a night race on Saturday. The NCR's annual Full Moon Run, done entirely under the cover of darkness. I am extremely hopeful that I will not trip and bring down the boyfriend, Cool Runnings-style. Or any of the other runners, of course. But mostly him, because I have to drive home in the car with him.

Also, it's Restaurant Week. Happened into it last night at Aldo's in Little Italy, and enjoyed a three-course meal of Italian Summer Salad (tomatoes, cukes, onions, and basil in a balsamic drizzle with thick brown bread), rib eye grilled in black truffle oil, and a berry panacotta. Delicious.

Photos of culinary adventures to come soon.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vroom Vroom

In case you hadn't heard, Grand Prix is coming to Baltimore city.

This gem of a city fundraiser has involved nearly a year's worth of road work throughout downtown, causing the worst gridlock traffic I've sat in since moving back to Maryland from Tampa. Seriously, awful.

Not that the roads didn't need vast improvement.

They did.

(And it was partially on someone else's dime, so, really: go Sheila Dixon. Well-played on that decision.)

(SRB is the one who's going to have hell to pay if this thing gets royally screwed up anyway, so that was a win-win for the Dixon House of PR.)

But the problem is that the race course stretches across Lombard and Pratt streets, effectively bifurcating downtown and cutting off Federal Hill and South Baltimore from all points north. Considering that I commute from Federal Hill to Hampden, this is...problematic. At best.

So, faced with the fact that I'm going to have to park my car in Fed Hill on Thursday night, kiss it goodbye, and wish it well until the following Tuesday, I figured I might as well fork over some money for tickets to this MAJOR EVENT. THAT EVERYONE IS GOING TO. I mean, if you have to be in town, might as well BE THERE.

I know nothing about racing, or cars, or race cars. I know they are loud. I know there will be beer. The latter is enough to entice me, in general, to pretty much any event.

So, I bought a ticket. Imma go to the MAJOR EVENT with the loud cars and the beer that will probably cost me a chunk of my retirement. I'm going to watch the cars, marvel at the loud noises, and traipse around downtown Baltimore in typical city-event style; with some sort of defining wrist band identifying me as poor because I bought the cheapest level ticket I could find; and try to get things for free, like extra beer, or admission to VIP areas. Both of which I have been smashingly successful at pulling off in the past (in places like, oh, you know, MARATHONS and LAS VEGAS....) I have a feeling the most competitive aspect of the races, for me, will be the garnering of free things and privileges to which I am not supposed to be entitled.

Start your engines.

Via the Cure-ate

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Cat Might Lose Another Life....

See, Mom?

See how diligent I am being in my posts?!

My mother (the queen of noticing unmade beds, finding crusts of sandwiches hidden under plate rims, and gazing steely-eyed through flimsy statements like, "Of course I am not going to ride around in that Mustang with that boy with the long hair without your explicit permission!") is one of my biggest fans. I get friendly little reminders that she's bored of the content of my blog when I don't update enough. And I listen to her. Because the fans shall have what they want! And, you know, she's my mom. Trump card.

I digress.

So, last night was typical Book Club. 7 pitchers of sangrias, probably thirty plates of tapas, three different desserts. Over the years, we have graduated from the $5 wine tasting to spectacular dinners where we always have to leave exorbitant tips because we (a) are loud, (b) drink so fast the wait staff can't keep up, and (c) due to said drinking, have a tendency to become loud about inappropriate topics.

Yes, we discussed the book last night.

I even made a list of questions prior.

Book Club has SOME structure; a free-for-all it is not.

I digress.

Day Three of training, which meant I was up at 5:45am to go to a weights class at my gym taught by a fabulous fellow writer/bartender/fitness enthusiast. This was especially rough given the aforementioned Book Club Dinner which lasted until about 10pm and throughout which wine flowed freely. But I made it through. My body will most likely revolt tomorrow when I go to strap on Ye Olde Running Shoes and discover I have lost the ability to run. Or, you know, move.

In other news, the cat and I are going to have words. I don't understand his insistence on puking. For years, we coexisted peacefully on this subject with a simple understanding: he puked only on hardwood floors, and only where I could easily locate said puke for ready cleaning. Now, all of the sudden, it seems he wants to puke in secret locations, i.e., wherever my poor roommate Jaunt wishes to set her foot.

This has caused her to become very upset when she's already running late for work and has to wash cat puke off of her foot.

This is not bearing well on her already tentative relationship with the cat, who thinks he is incredibly cute and can do disgusting things willy-nilly and expect no repercussions. He and I have had harsh words before regarding his complete inability to think about others. He will usually behave for a day or two, and then, WHAM, puddle of puke on the table by the front door, or WHAM, hairball on the mail.

I have tried to make excuses for the cat. It's spring, he is shedding his winter coat, this causes him to puke more. He dislikes the new food I bought. He is having mental distress due to the federal deficit. I am running out of explanations.

Soon, I'll have to tell him: Jaunt grew up on a farm where animals were not pets; they were working, contributing members of a whole. If he doesn't get his act together, there will be consequences.

That sounds like Jaunt is going to sell and/or consume the cat. I know she would do neither. There is, however, a risk that she might sell and/or consume me, and I am not risking this for the damn cat.

Straighten up and fly right, cat, or we're both going to suffer the consequences. Maybe no more tuna juice for you, hmmm? Or butt slaps. (Show me a cat who doesn't live for a good slap on the butt, and I'll show you a dead one. Seriously. They love it.)

In other news, the big debate this week is whether to go to AVAM's Flicks on the Hill tomorrow night or to see Harry Potter. I am excruciatingly divided. I love FOTH, and it's the closest to camping I'm gonna get this summer. But I'm also jonesing to see the final HP. I've read all the books, seen every movie, and must admit that I am looking forward to this with not a slight bit of trepidation only because when those final credits roll...that's it. Then there's nothing to look forward to until Twilight craps out another glittery sensation or Hunger Games finally releases a trailer. (And both, believe me, will be high points for me and my affinity for young-adult-literature-turned-film-sensation.)

In other news, there's a call out for a short story contest for the Boston Review. I'm tempted. We shall see. Earlier attempts at stunted fiction (as I began to see the short story genre) were not so successful. Then again, a contest creates accountability and a deadline. We shall see.

In other news, 35 days until vacation. I totally purchased the Living Social deal ($27 for a limo ride to BWI from the city - WHAT A STEAL) and so have already raised the bar on the expectations for said vacation. After all, if you can't party with class...I don't know where I was headed with that turn of phrase, but WHATEVER, A LIMO IS SUPER CLASSY. And it sure beats bargaining with friends for a ride to the airport. Oh, the promises I've made in exchange for such...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How To Eat An Elephant

So, somewhere in my complex and ever-so-slightly warped sense of taking on challenges, I decided that I would sign up for - and ostensibly run - a half-marathon this fall.

It's something I started spouting the second I finished the marathon relay last year; six miles to hand off a velcro "baton" to my teammate in the middle of Druid Hill Park. The relay was so much fun, and six miles - why that's nearly halfway there! If I can pull off six miles, I can certainly pull off 13.1. They're practically the same, really.


But, here's the thing: if I say I'm going to do something, and I mean really say it - not like that whole "I'M MOVING TO NEW YORK" half-decade of my life, or the time I was going to move to a writer's camp in Vermont for a summer and cut off all communication with everyone, or the time I thought I might convert to Judaism, or that one fall when I realized that my entire life's work was wrapped up in writing a screen play (and all of this is making me re-think my frequent announcements of Things I Am Going To Do!) - I'mma do it. Mostly. All ostentatious claims aside.

I think the biggest step was plunking down that $85 for an entry fee. Nothing like the greater part of a hundred bucks to say, "Yep, I'm in. Let's do this thing."

The next biggest step was the procurement of a decent training plan. I have many friends who've dared the half before (and some, like Legs, who have gone full-tilt batshit crazy and done an entire marathon), and so I asked for their plans. Everyone's got one, most are cobbled together from racing sites, running groups, even some books and training manuals. Putting together your own plan, however, is a delicate and personal thing.

I'm 11 weeks to the big event, and already running 4-6 miles on a regular basis. My minimal runs (maintenance runs) are about 3-4 miles, and once a week I'll try to log 5-6 as a long run. I ran the Survivor 7-Miler in June with a bit of aplomb, so I like to think that somewhere in my muscle memory I could dredge up 10 miles if I had to. In two weeks, I have a 6-mile run (at night...on the NCR trail...no lights...just moon...). Somewhere in the next two months, however, I have to find 13.1 miles in me. 12 tops to train, then 13.1 for the big day.

It would not be outrageous of me to say that this is one of the bigger challenges I've faced. Writing a thesis, getting a job, running 7 miles...all of those things required diligence and patience and work. Sure. But 13.1 miles is not 7 miles. And this is not something you half-ass.

My goal: I will not walk. I can slow down, I can jog, but I Will. Not. Walk.

What both complicates and makes things easier at the same time is that I have partners in crime. Catalano, my dad, and my boyfriend have all signed up for this adventure too. I will have running friends, we will all push one another, and while we may not cross the finish line all together, we will finish just the same. However solo I've wanted to be in my tasking in the past, having a group of people taking on the same challenge is pretty encouraging.

And then we will drink gallons upon gallons of free beer. It will be glorious.

So, I'm two days into the "eat the elephant one bite at a time" training. That saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," reverberates. How am I gonna run a half marathon? One mile at a time. I did three last night. Four this morning. Good start.

One bite at a time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Daniel Craig In Chaps

So, I did it. I went to see Cowboys & Aliens. And while I framed it primarily as a gracious act performed for the boyfriend (retribution for which I shall reserve until such a point in time I find something truly and deliciously girly), truth be told I was a little bit curious.

Ok. A lot curious.

Ok, I actually really wanted to see it.

I secretly have a penchant for action, shoot-em-up films, but only in movie theaters. I have a fatally short attention span for these kinds of movies on a standard television, but I get readily sucked into them if seen as they're meant to be seen: on the big screen. Special effects, loud noises, things exploding...sign me up. I normally draw the line at gratuitous violence (and have been known to cover my face in the presence of such), but there's something about action films that somehow makes it so over-the-top ridiculous, I can go with it.

Cowboys & Aliens was exactly what I'd expected: completely camp dialogue, horribly predictable plot line, ridiculously archetypal characters, amazing special effects, and some very nice views of Daniel Craig in chaps. It was entertaining, to say the least, though I hesitate to say engaging.

Tomorrow night is Book Club, where we will be discussing Sweet Valley Confidential and heading to Catalano's after dinner and drinks to watch some of the series that came out in the late 1990's. Coupled with last night's action movie viewing, I feel that I may have to do something vastly intellectual quite soon.

Then again, it's also Shark Week....hosted by Andy Samberg....I may just retire any lofty ambitions to be deep and meaningful until the fall.