Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nearly Christmas

The countdown to Christmas is almost done. 5 days to go!

I've not completed my shopping, but it's getting there. And I've decided that gift wrap is over rated. I am possibly the world's worst wrapper.

But, our tree is up and looks great, and the cookies are baked. We still have no idea what we will be doing Christmas Eve, but Christmas day I'll be joining my sister at our parent's place for a nice steak dinner. It's a low key holiday this year, which is funny because Dylan is aware of the whole Santa thing. We're not sure if he gets the idea of presents yet, but every time he sees Santa he exclaim "SANTA!" and then goes back to whatever he was doing. Makes you wonder how much ole Chris Cringle is pushed down our throats if a 1 1/2 year old knows who he is.

But as the holiday approaches, I'm happy to be off from work for 4 1/2 days, and look forward to seeing some friends over the weekend.

So...Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sleep patterns of a new era

Who doesn't love sleep? I really haven't heard anyone say "Man, I never want to sleep again!"

Unless you're in a Nightmare on Elm Street movie of course.

I adore sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream! And a chance for the body to be restored. Hamlet was talking about death when he said that by the way, and the type of sleep he wanted wasn't restorative.

Thinking back to all the sleeping I have done in my life, I particularly zone in on the college days of sleeping. On the weekends there were no alarms, and I recall lying in bed for 15, 18 hours. Just napping and laying about. Jumping forward into my late 20s there was the possibility to do that on the weekends, but a sense of responsibility crept in, making it seem slothful to sleep past noon on a Saturday (unless I had been up until 4 of course).

And then the baby came. And sleep was transformed.

It wasn't that I didn't sleep. While my son did wake up every 2-3 hours at night he wasn't a raging maniac. He ate and then went back to bed. I only had to "walk the halls" once with him. That's not too bad considering the other horror stories I've heard. But I feel like since he's been around I've had a veil of sleep around me at all times. I've always been able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat no matter where I was (like the back of a Dropkick Murphy's concert. zzzzzzzzz. I was tired!), but now it's ridiculous. Sleep is always just seconds away, looming. But it rarely lasts long. And that's what is different about having a young child, you sleep but are constantly woken up.

For me, the effect of that is two fold. First, I cannot do everything I used to do mentally. Well, that's not true. But it's more challenging now. Before Baby (BB) I went to work, got everything done and watched TV all afternoon. Now...I come to work and BAM it's 4 o'clock and I've gotten the bare bones of my job done. I do have to say I am more open to distraction now, but I can feel my brain working harder to do the mundane tasks that are required of me.

Second, (and the first is probably directly related to this) is that I find myself in a haze. I drift off, staring into space, as though my mind is taking mini-naps while my body keeps going. So I'm getting stuff done but it's not the high quality that I previously did.

Over the past month I've been paying attention to the amount of sleep I get. I'm logging about 5-6 hours a night. Almost the recommended amount. Almost. Adults need 7-9 hours per night. So I'm under the recommended, but not by too much.

But you're child will get older, my reader(s) are thinking. And that is true. In fact, he already is. He rarely wakes up in the middle of the night anymore (except all of last week), and he is asleep at 7:43 each night until about 7 the next morning.

"What's the problem?" you're thinking.

Well, in this new era of my life (still unnamed) my main problem with sleep is that it's interfering with my life. I would LOVE to go to bed each night at 8:30, but it's just not feasible. I have too much to do. I work all day, come home and take care of my son until he goes to bed, then eat dinner, exercise or go to a meeting, clean, do laundry, make lunches for the next day, and then when I go to sit down for a second it's 11:45 at night and I need to go to bed because I have to be up in 5 hours to get up and meet my crazy new friends at the track for early morning sprints. Luckily enough, I take the train into work each morning, and that 60 minutes can be harnessed as a nap. So this morning I packed a pillow in my bag and really got comfortable.

But now it's 9:15 AM, and I've been at work for over an hour and have yet to reply to an email. I'm not tired, but my mind is in that haze. And I can't go to bed before midnight until Sunday night due to a work dinner and babysitting this weekend, and the most I'll be able to "sleep in" is probably 8 AM tomorrow. IF my son doesn't come running into the room at 7 AM. He always finds me hiding beneath the covers.

I think the Mayo Clinic has it right:

"Although some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep a night, research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep a night. Additionally, studies among adults show that getting much more or less than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate. "

My complex mental tasks are coming in low. A higher mortality rate. At this point I guess I'll sleep when I'm dead. Perhaps Hamlet had it right.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Poems and writing

Last night I was struck by a vivid image in my head that I had to write down. It occurred at 12:10 AM just as I was trying to brush my teeth and hit the hay. I had spend the last hour cleaning my kitchen because I wouldn't have time again until Saturday to do it, and my mother is babysitting tomorrow so that just wouldn't do. There was cat food all of the floor, a sink full of dirty dishes, and counters that had dust on them. Dust. So I stayed up and cleaned, finishing with a swiffer of the floor. Perhaps it is the mundane task that spurred on some creativity.

This scene in my head was important. It was character driven, and looking into the mirror as I brushed my teeth I saw the scene play out like I was watching a movie. It begged to be recorded. So instead of waiting to the morning to try to recapture (and remember) it all, I turned the computer on and wrote. I also sat on the cat, but that was her fault. She was in my chair.

It has been awhile since I last did that. Sat and wrote fiction. I only knocked out 250 words, but it felt nice. I usually try to remember the scenes the next day and come up with empty generalizations.

Man and woman in hotel room. Woman jumps out window.

I'm pretty sure something is missing there.

I used to write down all my crazy thoughts and have notebooks full of scraggly handwriting from my 20s that could possibly get me committed if someone thought they were journals and not writing exercise books. This morning I read over the only poem I've had published--about 8 years ago--and edited it on my second read through. I could do much better now.

So I'm pretty happy right now that I have 250 words of a scene done, and hope it grows into more. Especially because right now I am writing an article on a stone wall for the paper. Dull as bricks it is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bulk shopping: from fire to friend

A month ago we joined BJs. If you don't know what BJs is, congratulations. You have managed to avoid American big box culture. For all others, I know, it took us a while to get on board.

I don't hate BJs. Let me start with that. (And men, stop giggling.) Costco, BJs, or whatever other feedstore is out there that requires you to buy everything in bulk is more acceptable to me than Walmart. Walmart has stripped the American economy of any individuality and left a wide path of destruction among the American small business [here, here, and here for example]. I try to avoid shopping in Walmart, and have often "stayed in the car" while others in my party have gone in. To be honest, my opinion of Walmart is also affected by my personal experience there in the fall of 1997.

I was with my college roommates on a trip out of our dorm and the car we were in wouldn't start in the parking lot. We thought it had overheated, and listened to music while it cooled off. After a bit, I decided to check under the hood as I was dating a mechanic at the time and had watched him work on cars long enough that I figured I could see if something looked out of place. To be fair, every car I had driven up to that point needed some sort of fiddling to start (open air filter vent, pump gas pedal 5 times, etc). Well, it turned out the car engine was on fire.

Yes, on fire.

I quickly shut the hood and told everyone to get out. Now.

The four of us quickly secured the car and stepped about 10 feet away. Then realizing that wasn't far enough, we ran into Walmart to get help. The friendly, elderly greeter at the door responded to our cries for help by handing us the sales flier, and the "customer service" desk refused to call the fire department because the parking lot was not their jurisdiction.

Plus, it was the 2nd car fire there that week, so they had some concerns about insurance.

Meanwhile, we went back to the car which now had smoke spilling from the front grill...which attracted some attention, but not as much as you would think. However, one person who did come over was a very, very, very tall man from Africa. He said that in his country (I don't know which part of Africa he was from, but realize Africa is not a country) people had to help themselves and not rely on the government. He proceeded to open the hood, which I had not shut all the way, and throw dirt on the fire. Except we were in a landscaped parking lot in Latham, NY and there was no dirt. There were wood chips. So, this man added wood chips to the car fire.

At this point I ran to a pay phone (oh, the era before cell phones!) and shouted at the person using it until they hung up and then I dialed 911--who were not concerned about our situation until I said we attended the local college . They must have thought we were trouble makers as they said someone would be there right away!

And they were. At this point the very, very, very tall African man had disappeared and we were left huddled together watching the fire fighters spray down the engine. Then, they looked inside and began pulling the wood chips out.

"Did you throw WOOD on the fire?" they asked us.

We attempted to explain about the very, very, very tall African man but we sounded a bit loony, and they didn't want to hear it. Instead they started making fun of us.

The car needed a tow and we were out of there. Walmart never was the same for me.

But BJs is different. While the three leading bulk sized stores (that's what I'm calling them, I'm sure there is a proper name) [Sams Club, Costco, and BJs] can be considered an obstacle to the lower economic classes as they have yearly membership fees and sell in bulk so you must pay more for the product up front, we decided that bulk shopping may be for us. So we joined. We are lucky enough to have the money up front to do so, and pay for the membership fee [Disclosure: we are the middle...right in the 50% of that 99%. I don't do math, but I think you get the point.] I had been in a bulk store before as my roommate in college worked at Sams and we used to visit her, and have also worked in the food industry and been sent out to one of them for giant cans of caramel.

My first time there as a member was overwhelming. Did we really need 40 rolls of paper towels at once? How many boxes of cereal equals that large box? Plus, I wasn't sure we were saving money. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same. And I'm not buying meat from BJs. I just have a hard time about that...I'm sure it's fine, but we have access to a farm for beef. But it turned out we do need those paper towels. And my husband is building us storage cabinets. And...we've turned into peanut butter speculators.

My husband heard through some news report that the peanut crop was bad this summer, and decided to stock up on peanut butter. Sure enough, there is now a limit on the number of jars you can buy at BJs and the price has gone up. We're stocked up though.

Know what they also have there? Appliances. Gift baskets. Free samples. Everything. They have everything. It's amazing.

Essentially, we're on board. Bulk shopping, I need you. You make me feel like a hoarder in a good way, and I get surprised when I find I did not run out of that essential pantry item.

Plus, based on my encountered with staff at BJs, I am pretty sure they would call the fire department if there was a car fire in their lot, although they may ask to see your membership card first.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reunions and Thanksgiving meet ups

The end of November not only signals a giant turkey dinner with lots of family, but also the time when people return to their home towns and attend their high school's grudge match football game.

If your high school had a football team and you are in to that.

Well, my school did have a team and I would love to attend the DS-Medfield game on Thanksgiving morning--like I did for 4 years in HS as a cheerleader--but a few things stand in my way. One being a road race I'm running, the next the giant meal I have to help prepared for 21 people coming to my house, and the fact that I'm a good 45 minutes away from my old school. But mostly it's because I really don't care that much. I'll be excited for my son when he begins to have games each season, but life goes on.

The first few years out of high school the night before Thanksgiving was a big night meeting up with people. In the town I live in now it's known as Orange and Black night (school colors) and the many bars spill over onto the street. But that does happen often. I'd be more likely to go to Black and Orange night than whatever it's called in my old town (Blue and White night? Warrior night? Big Blue eve?) All over New England (I can't say the US, as I have no idea) Thanksgiving brings together people who spent the better part of their tumultuous teen years back together. But now we are self assured adults. Mostly.

But this year is my 15th high school reunion. It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Boston, and I'm debating on whether or not I should go. I want to because it's at a Legals , but I'm leaning towards no. With Facebook these days, I know what most of my classmates are up to without having the awkward conversation with them in a loud bar with overpriced drinks. Plus, I would have to get a babysitter, which I don't want to do at this time because I want to go out the weekend after for my birthday. Lastly, most of these people didn't really speak to me in high school, what should I say to them now? I have no part of me that requires validation. In fact, if I go I run the risk of ruining the nice self image I've built for myself. What if I turn out to be a Liz Lemon?

I do have to say I went to my 10th reunion, which was at Felt in Boston. It was OK. I ended up being cornered by the girl who tried to steal my boyfriend senior year as she cried (really, she cried) about how her life sucked (no vindication there...I seriously worried about her state of mind), then caught up with a two girls I was friends with in the 10th grade. But mostly drank some beer and saw how the personalities of people developed in the previous 10 years. There weren't too many surprises. No one was horribly bitchy or overly mean. No one was excessively nice or apologetic. No man walked up and professed his hidden love for me (I do have a funny story about that from my freshman year in college, but it really just made me feel like an ass.) It was like high school on Prozac. Although had I taken Prozac in high school I may have had a much nicer experience and been able to hold a decent conversation.

Don't get me wrong, there are still one or two people I want to know what happened to, but they probably aren't going. And while I would love to walk up to and smack a few others, 15 years is a pretty long time, and I wouldn't be smacking the person I wanted. They are just scratched out photos in a tossed aside year book. I need a time machine for that satisfaction.

Unless I provoked them into showing hostility towards me. Hmmm. No, no. Then I would be the bitch.

All in all, I'm not going. Instead, I will....OK, I have no plans, but at my age I don't need them. I just don't want to go.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Things you tell strangers

The people have spoken!

I was thinking about this blog on my drive to the train station this morning, and how I kind of don't want to write down what I tell strangers, as my friends and family read this blog. Which is the whole point of telling strangers your biz-nuss I guess. They don't know you.

This came about during my last half marathon, the Lowell Sun one Sunday in October. First off, I usually run alone. It lessens the risk of being embarrassed when people want to speed up, I like to get lost in my head, and I particularly enjoy the silence of running. I knew the race had some scenic portions (Yes, even in Lowell there is nice scenery) and I lined up by myself at the start line ready to have a 2 hour sojourn into the workings of my head while my body beat itself up running.

However, I heard someone call my name. It was Miss Debbie, Dylan's music teacher. I knew she was running the race, but not being friends, we had made no plans to meet up for it. In class we had said figured we wouldn't run into each other. To clarify, Miss Debbie (sorry, I have trouble calling her just "Debbie" as she is a teacher) is Dylan's Music Together teacher. For 12 weeks or so we meet with her for 45 minutes a week and sing songs like Teeny Weenie Spider, Shoo Fly, and jam on little tambourines. Basically she gets to see me act like an idiot trying to keep my 18 month old engaged in the class. However, the class is over in two weeks and I'm pretty sure I wont see her again. Unless we take her again in the spring.

We exchanged hellos and the race began. And...we were running together. Now, I can turn into a Chatty Cathy if I am in the mood and I guess that day all my usual running habits were gone as someone was running next to me who was pleasant and was working a lot harder than I was. So we began to chat. At first I wanted to distract her from her laborious breathing, but then I got on a roll.

And the floodgate opened.

Around mile 6 I realized I was in the middle of telling her about my bad reaction to anesthesia during my last surgery. It was like I snapped back in my body as the words "shot of epinephrine and Jon looked over the screen at my stomach." Not only was I telling her of how my heart kept wanting to stop or blood pressure bottomed out...it was the story of my c-section and labor.

To be fair (and reassuring to myself) she seemed fine with it. Not only was she probably not listening because she was trying to breathe, but she was a mother 2 times over, and I think (THINK) she had started the labor conversation.

However, when you run races you are often not alone. Runners keep to packs for timing purposes even if they don't acknowledge you. I took a quick look around and sure enough, three men were running right behind us. And they all looked at me very strangely. One, I realized, had been coughing lightly...most likely to alert me to the fact that he was there. Miss Debbie just kept nodding and then told me about how her daughter was also a c-section. Here we were, two women who barely knew each other, speaking in public about operations and labor.

This is just one example of my lack of filter. Or failure to use it. Now, if someone I know asks me about my labor, I say it was long and ended in a c-section. That's it. I don't get into the gritty details. But this woman (and the men behind me) know things that most of my friends don't. So what is it about strangers? True, you'll never see them again. But that just leaves room for more...

Another example of something I have told strangers is the common one: lies. This one dates back to college, when it was considered safe to make up a fake name. That way if the strange men you got to buy you drinks came up to you another night you could say that wasn't your name and be on your merry way. My friend Janet (or is that her name?!) and I used to do this at the larger Albany bars where SUNY students went. We only knew each other and the bar was ours for the taking. We could be anyone, and chose names that we could barely remember half the time. I also went through some interesting majors in those conversations (most memorable: anthropologist, with a detailed plan for my senior thesis of visiting tribes in the Amazon). However, I also carried it over after college, having fun with people and telling them wild tales of my life in Russia. Ahem, yes. I admit I have told one or two people in the world that my name is Petra and I lived in Russia for a large portion of my life. To be fair, I didn't want to be talking to them, and pretending not to speak English is very convenient to get strangers to leave you alone. It was also quite amusing. Another one of my favorites is "It's ok, I used to be..." fill in the blank. I've used waitress (That IS true), in the band (just funny really), a sound engineer (my, I'm creative when I want the music in a bar to be turned down), and a nurse.

But the biggest culprit of stranger sharing information in on public transportation. Sitting on a bus next to a friendly old woman, or being stuck on a train in a tunnel for 45 minutes makes people really talk. I've had a man tell me about his dead mother and how she haunts him. A woman who told me about her cocaine problem, and how it wasn't really a problem. Once in the street, a man told me about his three children who he had basically left with their mother and wasn't going back.

Oh, and what happened at the race? At mile 8 I realized I didn't want to bore the poor woman anymore with my stories and true confessions and I pulled ahead and finished 12 minutes in front of her. So I ran away. I actually ran away from her.

Of course I saw her the next Wednesday in class and she was back to being Miss Debbie. The happy music teacher. I think she must have blocked all of my ramblings out in her focus to finish. Or, I'm just really boring and nothing stuck with her!

Essentially, strangers are free therapists who could possible follow you home and kill you. Just like real therapists.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October ate my soul

I really meant to write more in October. I even kept a running list of topics to blog about. But I got side tracked. We redid our roof, had the driveway redone, I went to Albany, ran a half marathon, prepped and attended a major conference for work, banged out articles for the paper, attended a 5 hour long town meeting, made Halloween costumes, got snowed on, was nearly killed by a tree (ok, it COULD have killed us but didn't so that is good), now have a giant tree resting on the roof and garage, and whoops, that was October.

My schedule left little time for writing outside of work mandated things. By the end I was mainlining coffee and writing articles in my sleep. However, here is the list of stuff I wanted to write about for this blog, which is my fun writing.

1. How rain wrecks things.
2. What Friendly's means to me (and why Im sad the one near me closed)
3. Music and children
4. Ski mountains
5. Allergies and aging
6. Things you tell strangers
7. Visiting your college 10+ years after graduating
8. I found another Friendly's near me!
9. Why am I presenting this data at 9:30 PM on a Wednesday?
10. Reasons to not like the government...I think I'm a Libertarian
11. Ladybug wins 2nd place
12. BOOM. Or how I did not die.

I making November my clean slate for chaos and also ushering in a favorite project of mine, NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write a 50,000 word story in a month (1667 words per day). I have a vague outline and am just going to write up a story I've had in my head all year called In the Year of the Bunnies.

However, in an effort to not ignore this blog, pick a topic from above and post it in the comments and I will write it!

Friday, September 30, 2011

The music in my head and zombie stuff

Since my we signed my son up for a music class last January, I have the wonderful opportunity to get children songs stuck in my head. I can tell you there is nothing more annoying that having "Paolo Paolo Paolo" stuck in your head, especially when I don't speak any Spanish and the ENTIRE song is in Spanish. So, it's just the words "Paolo Paolo Paolo" over and over to the tune.

But this morning I woke up with a real song in my head! "Cough Syrup" by Young the Giant. Of course now we are on hour three of it in my head and I've not only listened to it four times but also read the full lyrics to see if it will go away.

I'm always surprised at song lyrics. I usually get the gist of it and had the chorus of this down. But I had no idea what was in this song...especially verse 2:

"Life’s too short to even care at all
I’m coming up now coming up now out of the blue
These zombies in the park they’re looking for my heart
A dark world aches for a splash of the sun" [thank you lyricsmania.com]

Zombies in the park? Noooooo!!

I'm tired of zombies. I'm over them. By like 25 years.

When I was a child I watched the Living Dead series (um, see previous posts about no restrictions on movies that were on Saturday afternoons!)...and I loved horror and gore.

But not now. The Ring ruined me for horror movies. I couldn't look into a mirror for months without seeing that little girl in the movie behind me. I couldn't even watch I Am Legend all the way through. (Which I did NOT realize was a zombie movie when I began watching it!)

My husband recently rented season 1 the Walking Dead. I refused to watch it, so he waited until a night I went to the gym to enjoy it. He then told me a bit about it, and sure enough I had nightmares that night about zombies.

I guess the point of this post is this: Go away zombies. I was really enjoying that vampire craze!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

To do lists

This past month I've manage to accomplish a few things, and I know this because I've been tracking them with "to-do" lists.

I love making lists. I do it for packing, food shopping, organizing my day, gardening. Name it, I list it. Then I lose them. Or only do half of them. Often times I combine my different roles in life onto one list.

1. Return library books.
2. Send request for COI forms
3. Go running
4. Interview so and so.

Bam. Right there I realized my problem. That's 4 things for 4 different roles. Mother, editor, runner, writer. This month I did the unthinkable. Had 4 lists running at the same time, in different locations.

And I got stuff done.

At work I caught up on emails. From June. Yes, I replied to emails people sent me in June that I hadn't gotten to yet. Embarrassing, but it's done. I've also enabled Outlook to send me reminders on long over due emails, so hopefully that wont happen again. Especially when one of them shouldn't have been replied to and I think I created an article submission we don't really want anymore.

At home I did food shopping and didn't forget anything. Amazing. Even more, instead of crumpling to do lists in my pocket or laboring over them in the memo function on my phone (yes, I do know there is a grocery shopping list app and I've tried 3 of them and hate them), I took a picture of the white board in our fridge where we write down things we need and just used that. Success.

At the gym (or just health in general) I've taken to using a guilt-ridden group I helped start force me to work out. On FB the member of a private group "Healthy 30s"pushed me to work out at lunch, count walking as exercise (hey, if I'm going to walk 2 miles I may as well add it to my fitness scores).

And in my writing, well. It's been working for writing that has deadlines, but my creative writing is suffering. I tried to put it on the to do list, but did you know Fall TV is on again?! It seems that my procrastination skills become heightened when I don't have an actual deadline. Instead of sitting down and typing up a few scenes, I go to AC Moore and buy crafting supplies and make a wreath for my front door.
Or make a giant batch of pizza sauce. Because after all, season changes and rotting tomatoes that bring hordes of fruit flies to the kitchen are the most motivating deadlines out there.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The bright side of weariness

In the past month I survived my first vacation with a toddler, a tropical storm, and an earthquake. To be honest, I didn't notice the earthquake, perhaps because I'm too shaken from dealing with a toddler...who wanted to go outside the entire time the tropical storm was going on.

My little son, who I adore more than anything in this universe, has decided to showcase his personality this past month. He's sneaky (loves to hide), funny (love to make faces and weird sounds), head strong (knows what he wants and isn't afraid to do anything to get it), and very strong and tough (fell off a wall yesterday, stood up and brushed himself off). He also has developed a strong mommy attachment that prevents me from leaving him in the gym daycare for an hour while I work out. I was asked to leave, but I'll go back once he calms down a bit.

The work/life balance is hard for me these days as work becomes heavy heading into conference season. There are many days where I should be working late but have to do daycare pick up, and I've gone into the office at 7 AM to get stuff done far too often. On some weekends my son is like a child who is visiting...I give him extra special treatment because I haven't seen him most of the week, then spend the next few days worried I am spoiling him and that he sees the daycare people are his "real parents."

However, yesterday he showed me in a very public way that I'm doing OK.

I work from home on Wednesdays, which gives me some time with the little guy. We walked down to the library for a story time, where the kids are given free reign to wander around the room as long as they are not too disruptive. He sat in my lap for the first story, and during the break headed over to the rug where some of the older kids were sitting. But instead of sitting down he went to the adults and said "my mommy" and pointed over at me. He said this to each adult in the room then returned to my lap for the second story.

I have to be honest, my heart melted.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pause for interlude

Growing up I never really put too much thought into my future. Even though pretty much middle school and high school is a constant prep for the after, I never seriously considered what I was going to do, be, live, etc. I just rolled with the punches.

You see, I have this gift for selective thought and memory. Some things just go right by me. A little bit clueless I am. Maybe. Or a master of denial.

I blame my parents a bit. But only a little bit. I think I just have a problem thinking ahead long term. Next week? Planned, hour by hour. September? Consider it booked. January? Nope. Not even on my radar. So how could what I would be doing at 20 be important to a 13 year old? I mean, really. Outside of my day to day schedule at that time existed sleep. I had basketball, softball, cheerleading, long winded phone conversations with my BFF. But where to go to school, what to study, and to what end? No idea. And I didn't care.

Now maybe if I had cared I would be successful ________ now.

But one thing that I took for granted was that I would be at home with my children. (Cause for some reason marrying and having children was always an assumed thing for me...maybe I should check myself into therapy to discuss that with someone).

However, due to the economy, poor (aka, fun) choices in my 20s, and a strong work ethic, I am not home full time with my child. Nor have time to clean my house or do other 1950s housewife duties. After some thought and creative budgeting I decided to get outside help to clean. Because when I come home after work, I don't want to scrub the tub, I want to play with my child. But the tub must be cleaned somehow, and the spiders living in the corners of the bathroom don't seem to be pitching in.

So we hired a cleaner. I was excited. For a reasonable price, these people would come in and scrub my floors, do the windows, and organize my bureau top. I interviewed--in person--the company and chose them because they were nice and affordable. They were a Brazilian couple who, despite making a disparaging remark about my age and my single child status (they were proud grandparents 3 times over at 42), seemed promising. However, she barely spoke English. Not a problem, he promised. He was fluent.

Hubby was a bit more nervous as he had never had a cleaning service before. My mother had at times during my teenage years hired cleaning people in, much for the same reasons I was looking for someone. Except by that time she wasn't looking to play with us as much as she didn't want to hound us to clean anymore. Or clean after working the night shift at the nursing home and then wake up to make it to whatever sporting event, theater performance, or awards ceremony we had. My sisters and I had been more pliable as preteens in her bribes to make us clean the house than when we were in high school. Because by then the promise of pizza no longer carried much weight when we could jump in our cars and get the pizza ourselves.

On Tuesday, the day of the first cleaning, I sent many reassuring emails to husband about the cleaning company. Yes, I had checked references. Yes, I trusted them. No, we really don't have much worth stealing. Yes, I told them about our cats.

Arriving home Tuesday I was excited. We walked in and the back porch was clean. Floor washed, furniture spaced properly. Kitchen was immaculate. The house smelled clean. Like it never had before, despite my investment in every single brand of plug in air freshener.

I felt satisfaction. I could sit. Play with the kid. Maybe, just maybe, even make dinner.

Then it happened.

Husband came out of the bedroom with a frown.

"They broke the shower door."

Our brand new glass shower. I ran in, expecting to see shards of glass and quite possibly blood from some poor cleaner on our new tile.

Really, that may have been preferable. Not the blood, but a big break. But it was a piece of the bottom roller on the shower. It helped keep the two glass doors together and sealed the bottom. Probably a $2 part really. But, it was broken.


No note or explanation left. The piece had been tossed into the center of the shower. We couldn't even figure out how it had snapped off.

The next day the agency called to see how we liked the cleaning.

"Not bad, but we would like to know what happened to the shower door," I calmly said.

"What do you mean? You like job?"

"The shower door is broken, what happened?" I remain calm.

"I don't know what you are talking about. Something broken? These things happen. Maybe it was already broken," he said.

Sigh. Great. Not only does he claim to not know what happen, but then goes the whole, not us route?

"It's a brand new shower. It wasn't broken before today. Your company broke it. We're not angry, but we need to know what happened. And we also need to know why you don't know about it, and why a note or something wasn't left."

Guess what happens? His phone begins to go in and out, his English is suddenly "not so good," and he wants to schedule the next appointment. I told him that he can call me back when he knows what happened and then we can talk about our next cleaning.

I could almost hear the phone being moved to and from his mouth when it started to go in and out. Not good.

Until then, we are back to cleaning ourselves. At least we have a base clean to work from.

Maybe I can start training the spiders.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Running away from it all

So then I took up running.

In 2008 I decided I would train for a half marathon and finished the Big Lake 1/2 up in New Hampshire. Then another friend tricked me into something.

My friend California Girl (CG) wanted to run the New York marathon. Now, there are some marathons you can just sign up for. For example, the Lowell Sun marathon or the Manchester marathon are open to anyone who wants to run them. Or walk. Whatever. Then there are the competitive marathons like Boston where you have to qualify for them--or beg for a number from a charity and raise an obscene amount of money for them (more on that later). New York is a little different in that anyone can run it, but you have to be chosen through a lottery.

Seeing that I never win anything by lottery or raffle, and being slightly interested in marathon running, I said I would do it with her.

Well, you can guess what happened. I got chosen and she did not. So now I was locked into running (they require your credit card number at the time of lottery entry and automatically are charged the hefty entry fee if chosen). I had gone from biker to 5k recreation running to marathoner in very short time. And then I had to train.

NY is run in the fall, which means summer training. Brutal. So I trained through the wet summer, and was up to 21 miles at a time. Really. Turns out you never run the full 26.2 miles while training because theory says that your adrenaline will kick in and push you those last 5 miles on race day. I found a running buddy for the marathon, a long lost friend from my childhood days in New York, and the first weekend of October that year I ran it. The entire thing. And the last 5 miles were the hardest by the way. Theory blown.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Running for nothing

In a million years, sitting in my college dorm room I never thought I be this.

I am a runner.

In my head this is a surprise, as in my teens and early 20s you wouldn't find me running ever. And in my head I'm still 23.

I guess I would do the odd mile here or there. In gym class mainly. I joined the track team for 2 days in high school then stopped going. I don't remember why. But more often you would find me running to the work, to class late, or to happy hour. I can count on one hand the number of times I ran for fun, and one of those included a 5 AM run when I couldn't sleep in college on morning after staying up all night writing a paper and having 4 full pots of coffee. It was run or have a heart attack then.

Now I've been getting up at 5 AM for the sole purpose of running. And if you ask my husband or friends now they would definitely describe me as a runner. Maybe not the first adjective, but in the top 5. (Number 1 is obviously "gorgeous".)

So I am the last to admit it. But I am finally accepting this as a part of me.

Let me tell you how my lifestyle changed from an occasional work out to full out training. First of all, it started with a bike. Yes I said I was a runner, but first I was a biker. Which let me tell you is much easier to admit to than being a runner for some reason. Maybe because you are sitting down most of the time. And a bike is an accepted mode of transportation.

In 2002 I was living in Brighton, MA and loved the idea of biking in the city. I had never biked in the city before, but the idea of me biking to work instead of taking the slow B-line in was exciting. Plus, I was in grad school and having a bike seemed like a very grad school thing to do. Especially as I was going to grad school for writing. Shouldn't I be forgoing transportation and living my existence in the world? Feeling the wind in my hair and all that? I strolled down to IBC in Allston and picked out a Trek hybrid. Then promptly rode it once and put it in the garage. Riding in the city is dangerous people. It remained garaged until I moved to Salem, where I rode it every single day 1.3 miles to and from the train station.

I decided that I wanted to be healthier, so besides having a gym membership (just because you have one doesn't mean you go) I signed up for a 20 mile bike ride. This was the most physically challenging thing I had ever done. I trained and trained and on an October day, the morning after we had a party of course, I dragged my hungover self to Framingham and rode 20 miles for Project Bread. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it. But I did. I still remember feeling exhilarated afterward eating a peanut butter sandwich under a tree, looking out at Lake Cochituate. And tired. So very very very tired.From there it was a 80 mile bike ride for Best Buddies from Boston to Hyannisport. In the rain. With friends that I had dragged into my madness. Then a 2-day 190 mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown where I promptly hung up my bike. Cause man my legs hurt.

But in the middle of my bike excursions running became more prominent in my life.

Also in between that was Mrs. High Heels convinced me one fine summer day to run a 5 mile road race with her and her boyfriend. Yeah, right, I said. She convinced me because she knew I liked to bike and had recently completed a solo 40 mile ride one blustery spring day. (I meant to due 30 miles and got lost). The race was in Ayer and we started off together, determined to finish even if we walked it.

But something happened. I ran. I left her behind (sorry!) and actually ran. And liked it. I finished and collapsed on the track, dizzy and happy.

I had been bit by the running bug.

To be continued...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh look at that moon!

So I read my horoscope once every two or three months. I'm not one of those daily people who are looking for guidance, but do believe the movement of the stars and planets have an impact on our biorhythms and such on a cyclical level. And the moon. Hey, the moon controls the tides and our bodies are like 75% water, I do not see how the moon couldn't have a pull on us in some way. One of my favorite essays is by Barbara Kingsolver from her book High Tide in Tuscon where a hermit crab living with her in Arizona begins responding to time high tide would have been in Tuscon had there been any water around.

The moon is a fantastic thing.

Last night when I peeked my head out the back door I saw it rising through the trees. It made me want to brave the mosquito and tick infested backyard, where there was surely a skunk lurking (OK, maybe they don't lurk, but they scrounge for food at night. And while I think skunks are cute and they can eat all the grubs in my lawn they want, I dont want one trotting up to me while I'm looking at the moon. Because I scream when startled and would be sprayed.) But anyway, the moon was pretty. And almost full.

Tonight is the full moon. It rises here at 8:28 PM, 8 minutes after sunset (how exciting that the sun is setting at 8:28 and not 4:30? I love summer).

Not sure if it's the moon or what, but today I have extra energy. My 5 AM run was longer than my previous 2 runs, and I managed to water the lawn, make my son's lunch, and water the downtown planters before going to work. I'm hoping to harness the rest of the energy after work to clean my house. At least wash the floor.

But the plan for tonight is to light a fire, watch the moon, and enjoy this summer night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Allergy free? A builidng paranoia

For the past 6 months I've had mysterious skin conditions arise, and countless sore throats. I thought it was a rash, strep, glandular. As I sit here with an itchy throat (I didn't know throats could itch like that) that I'm pretty sure is swelling shut after I ate a bag of almonds, I know I really need to get an allergy test.

But I've never had allergies. Well, once, 9 years ago I had a reaction to something that was blooming one day. My face exploded as I stepped out of my apartment on beautiful May day. By the time I walked the two blocks to the T my nose was running, eyes swelling, and I was coughing. Once I washed my face and took a Benedryl I was fine, and the next day whatever was blooming must have been done because it never happened again.

Not only have I never had allergies, but I come from a family of long time allergy sufferers and have been proud of my non-allergy status. Everyone else carries allergy medication with them or is on prescription stuff. I was free to sniff flowers, eat strawberries, and enjoy other mundane things without thought. But now, well...since I have no idea what I'm allergic to, everything is done with unease.

Here is a list of things I'm potentially allergic to:
Almonds--throat irritant. Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Mango--lip and mouth reaction. Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Cherries--lip and mouth reaction.
Wheat--possible skin irritant; have had throat swelling after drinking Hefeweizen . Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Cilantro--taste like razors. I hate this herb. It has wrecked many burritos for me. I'm sure if I ate a lot of it my mouth would swell.

So, pretty much most of these have the potential to kill me. Nonetheless, I eat almonds and cherries alot (I think the cherry and mango overlapped and want to believe it's just mango that my body had a problem with), and wheat is in everything.

My main issue with these developments is two fold. The first is that they developed very suddenly. In the past two years my body has been through a lot with my pregnancy and subsequent "total body recovery program" I've been trying to maintain. I lucked out in having a wonderful pregnancy...happy, healthy, normal. So now my body decides to be all f-ed up? It's probably the hormones, blood pressure fluctuations, and general chemistry change that happens, but that leads me to point two. What is next?

Am I doomed to continue to develop weird conditions as I age? Isn't aging enough? I am the only person in my family who can wear contact lenses...will that change too? Is it allergy related? I have foot pain now, and although I'm a runner, I'm convinced it's hereditary. Will I need surgeries like my aunts?

This building paranoia about my body chemistry is new to me and unsettling. I guess I better call for an allergy test.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing and Editing

Last night I had to type up a short preview for an article I will be writing this week, based on what I observed at the town's Board of Selectmen meeting. I was exhausted, but knew if I didn't do it the editor would have some empty space on the webpage and may be scooped by a website that is devoted to being the town's "eye".

A few things crossed my mind while I was writing the preview.

First, how I was not going to use any of the material in the article I will eventually write. It's just not how my writing style develops. Given the limited number of words I have to work with each week--that's word count, not vocabulary choices--the 257 I eventually turned in at 12:30 AM were extraneous to the yet to the be written piece. I know this because my new piece will have a different angle, and hopefully more background information that what I could sift through late on a Tuesday night.

Second, how I wished I was a staff writer at this paper. I moonlight as a reporter (ahem, writer), and frankly hate the term moonlight, although the editorial consultant at my primary job referred to it as such. That made me nervous, not going to lie. If I were a staff reporter, I would do it full time and not have to commute into Boston each day. Plus, I wouldn't have to write up invoices for each picture or article I submit. And I wouldn't have to write real late on Tuesdays and then get up to check my manuscript database and do work early Wednesday.

Third, how some people really don't have web profiles. The article was on a new town hire, and while I'm pretty sure I accessed his LinkedIn page, the only other mention of him on the web was his construction license listing, and maybe an article about how he and his wife met. But I'm not sure on that as the picture of the guy on the bike riding into Sturgis didn't mesh completely with the man I spoke with at the meeting. However, had he been dressed in leather and not in khakis I would have been more sure.

Fourth, how I really wish my lottery numbers would come up so I wouldn't have to write on new hires in small towns, or work with writing companies on returning proofs correctly at my primary job. Then I would hire a housekeeper and be at a country club right now enjoying the July heat.

But, all in all, as my lottery numbers haven't come up, my living room is fairly clean, the article preview is filed and published, and I have a work dinner in Boston tonight to attend to discuss future development and production communication with colleagues.

I've also been thinking about whether or not writing a blog about my work experience is a good thing. Maybe my friend was right in deleting her blog.

I guess I"ll end with this: I love work and my benefits. Yes indeed. My full attention is on you.

You know, until my book is chosen for a Disney movie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cleaning out the decade

Last night I walked into my bedroom with one thought in my mind: get rid of it all.

I tried to go on a cleaning rampage. I write tried here because I am very bad at getting rid of things. I'm not a pack rat by any means. I will happily toss scraps of paper. Unless they have scribbles of thought on them. I'll toss out an old shampoo bottle though. Yes indeed.

The reason I needed to clean was twofold. First of all, I couldn't see the floor. It's not that I had dirty clothes everywhere, it was that I had attempted to sort my clean clothes one too many times and had piles stacked wall to wall. Second, the drawers were full of clothes already, so there was a storage issue. Given that I have 11 drawers to myself, I figured I had better go through some of my clothes and see what could be donated or trashed.

The first thing I did was tackle the piles on the floor. This was fairly easy. It was all newly clean and therefore I had worn items in the recent past. All keepers except two t-shirts I just didn't like and a pair of jeans that had recently ripped on the inner thigh. I had fond memories of the jeans, which I bought in August 2003. They were too small when I bought them and the first time I fit into them I was very proud. I gave them a short farewell speech before turning to tackle the drawers.

Drawer 1 was a hard as it was my nostalgic shirt drawer. The t-shirt I got at my college orientation that I loved but would never wear again. The long sleeve t from summer 2000 with Waltham the band on the front. My old roommate confessed to still owning hers so it's a keeper even though I hadn't worn it since that glorious city summer. Then my Preserve California shirt from 2003, 1970s glam shirt from 2004, and, well, you get the picture. It was a t-shirt tour of my 20s. Drawer shut.

Drawer 2 was a collection of wraps/pashminas for formal occasions. My next formal occasion is this Saturday, but it will be 86 degrees and sunny, so the wool shawl won't be needed. Still, one day I may need them and having one in every color imaginable will come in handy.

Drawer 3 was pajamas. It was at this point I gave up. I had folded and organized two baskets of laundry, cleaned the floor, tracked down socks, and looked at 2 drawers. The big black bag for donations had 2 shirts that should have probably been used as dust rags. I needed help. I called in dear husband Jon to help move things along.

Now don't think that he is any better at throwing stuff out. His drawers also contain a collection of nostalgic shirts (there is one with barely a back on it, but it was a frat shirt, so it stays). He also had been living out of 2 laundry baskets [thanks mom for giving us more laundry baskets for our anniversary after giving up on asking why we dont use our drawers]. Well, he is better at it, but just doesn't do it. He sat down to help, probably wishing I had more friends in the area to do this with as I tried on tops that hadn't fit since 2007.

"This one," I said holding up a white tank with three red, white, and blue stars on it, "I bought for the Cape when we went down with everyone to Falmouth."

"That was 10 years ago," he said.

I tried it on. It wasn't even a half shirt. I sighed, resigned to lose a memento of our first group vacation. I put it in the bag. In all honesty, I hadn't worn the shirt on that vacation. I think I had worn it 2 times total.

"See, this is why I need you here."

Over the next 20 minutes--yes, it took 20 minutes to go through 11 drawer--I heard his honest opinion on my clothes. I ended up getting rid of some things I liked because they weren't flattering, or were ugly, or turned out to be a bit more see through than I thought. A large pile grew at my feet for my "gym clothes" which was the last designation for something before it ended up in the trash. The last thing we tackled was PJs. I kept 4 even though he set a 3 item limit, and got rid of faded t-s and puffy shorts. All my clothes fit into the drawers again. I had gotten rid of some outdated styles, lost my nostalgia for some of the older ts (the Preserve California one bit the dust) and tripled the choices for gym ware.

Tonight maybe we'll tackle the closet, where the dress I wore for my high school senior portrait hangs along with the suit my mom bought me when I graduated college.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Taking a breath

Well, my promise to post weekly faded with an influx of work and personal related mini-crises that all turned out fine. It just got a little hectic around here in May and June. I'm hoping July is less busy.

So what did I do in the last few weeks? In bullet form:
  • Preparing for one of my best friend's wedding, which is coming up THIS weekend. Had shower, bachelorette party, and dress fittings.
  • Week vacation on Cape Cod at the Breakers in Dennisport. Love it. Had great weather for early June and a good run on the candy stores.
  • Son finished first music class and now will break into song randomly. Favorites include ABC and Peas Porridge Hot.
  • Husband left me for a week for a biz trip out to Arizona. Son started breaking in his 1-year molars at same time. That equals no sleep for me.
  • Realized my Friday or Saturday nights have reverted back to when I was 14 or 15. I sit in my bedroom pretending to clean it while listening to music and reading my tarot cards. Also realized that I am OK with this!
  • Spent 2 days at a convention devoted to manuscript processing in the publishing industry. Realized I am very good at this which led to reevaluation of job and what the hell I went to grad school for.
  • Went strawberry picking (12 lbs!) and made multiple batches of strawberry jam. 12 pounds doesnt make too much jam. Also made 1 strawberry rhubarb pie that is quite yummy.
  • Written articles for the Beacon-Villager and think it's improved my writing quality (well, not here obviously) and also change my narrative for fiction. Excited to try to write some fiction I thought of on my week vacation...
In other news the Editorial Assistant in my office quit and we have replaced her with a woman who just moved back from Germany. I am interested to see how the new dynamic works out. I have my fingers crossed that it is good.

Also of interest is the demise of my friend's blog. Ms. High Heels wrote a blog about her family and work life and when she told her boss she was asked if anything embarrassing was posted. After thinking it over she said yes and he recommended she delete it. So she did. I have to say that I am very sad about this turn of events for many reasons.
1. I do not get to see this person very much anymore and it kept me up on her life and her growing family.
2. She never used names and gave everyone wonderful little nicknames that made it a game to figure out who she was writing about.
3. Her sense of humor is spot on, and I never failed to laugh out loud.

A Day in Heels, you will be missed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A sneaky vacation

Usually I am extremely excited for a vacation. A far off trip to a tropical island is our usual venture. This year we decided that traveling to a far off tropical island would probably not work out with a toddler. So, we booked a week down the Cape (um, that's Cape Cod for all non-New Englanders) for Memorial Day weekend.

Because the hotel is 2 hours from our door, and we have the opportunity to come home at any time, this is a sneaky vacation. We've been down the Cape a lot. Natural New Englanders, we gravitate towards the Cape and its beaches and fun minigolf.

But we realized last night that our vacation starts Friday. And we've done nothing to prepare. At all.

No frenzy of buying clothes, beach ware, or vacation books. Tonight I must go through the mound of laundry, pack up stuff, and figure out if it will be worth bringing the kiddie pool with us. This vacation is going to be thrown together, but we decided that is OK with us. I'm tempted to just bring a big backpack and live out of it like Europeans visiting the Cape. If they didn't all live in great apartments and become waiters for the summer that is.

As I sit in my office going through author indexes and page proofs, I really cannot believe that tomorrow I'll be dipping my toes into the frigid Atlantic. And the heated pool.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May Day May Day

This time of year is always stressful for me. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, commencements all snowball on top of each other, blotting out weekends and spare time. My bank account is drained buying presents for people (which I am happy to do) and my stress levels rise with each task I add to my to-do list. It's as though the universe knows this and piles it on, maybe trying to teach me a lesson about taking too much on, being too materialistic, or some other junk. Once mid-May hits, my mayday button is blinking.

This week in particular is busy. I've been attempting to keep it together and have for the most part done OK. On Monday I was at a town meeting until midnight, scrawling notes about budgeting for an article due the next morning--having already written and submitted a piece earlier the morning before. I volunteered to do some work for a friend entering the hospital, and had a pile of papers to read through and worry about her procedure. This weekend I am going out of town for a friend's bridal shower--I'm a bridesmaid--and have been struggling about stupid things, but which still have stressed me out nonetheless. It will be the first night I am away from my son too. Yesterday I nearly forgot to call my father on his birthday and when I did call from the train station the announcer chose those 5 minutes to make all the announcements for the day. Plus, my father pointed out that I was the last one to call him. My father calls me on my birthday separately from my mother just because, and I really wish I had called him earlier and not while in transit. But I got a card and Dunkins gift certificate to him, so hopefully he will think of me when he has his daily infusions of coffee.

Now today. Today is my wedding anniversary and in advance of the date I booked a babysitter, got a reservation at a nice restaurant, and bought my husband a card. I wanted it to be calm, organized, and stressless. However, the universe decided to give us a 5 AM wake up call with a "strong odor of gas" in the house and a screaming child. When your day starts with your husband saying "Get dressed quickly, get out of the house, and don't turn on any lights" you know that the universe is fucking with you. Especially as all my clothes were in the dryer. Normally I have clothes strewn across the floor for easy picking. Not this morning. Having recently reorganized my dresser drawer, I couldn't even remember where my pants were stored. Fumbling in the dark, I pulled out a random pair of pants and threw on an old jacket from college that was on my floor and have only worn maybe 5 times in my life. I then grabbed the kiddo, wrapped him in a blanket, and stumbled down the dark hall.

Turns out there was not a gas main break. Somehow one of the burners on the stove had turned on a bit, and gas was running out of it. I am going to have to blame the cats, but really have no idea as it was the side of burners we rarely use and the only scenario I can see the cats having done it was trying to jump up to the stove, missing, and catching the knob on the way down. Odd, especially as they both sleep in our room at night. But the gas leak had been going all night. The house was FULL of gas and we were lucky that the house did not explode, or we did not asphyxiate. Once husband turned off the stove we were able to clear the house by opening all the doors and windows. The morning routine resumed.

The universe must have been sorry or thought that I learned something sitting in the nursery holding my son after the gas situation had resolved itself. I got a prime parking spot at the train today. Plus my friend is OK, some money arrived in the mail to cover the birthday/wedding/fathers' day presents coming up, and I realized I could do some errands for this weekend at lunch. Still, I feel as though the week vacation down the Cape that begins next Friday is months away. Memories are appearing fuzzy as time goes forward, and each day rolls into the next, blurring the line of time. There are days I feel as though staying awake for a few days would be OK because then everything would be done and my sleep would be more sound. But then I pass out from exhaustion or cry because it's all too much.

But this morning as we opened the house for a cleansing, outside sounded like a rainforest. It was pouring, humid, and the birds were just waking up and calling to each other. I think I heard a wake up call from somewhere.

Message received universe, your point.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Carbs be not proud

CARBS be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore carbs, nor yet canst thou kill me. [*]

As I write this I am eating a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and drinking caffeinated coffee.

I did the cleanse a full week, and now it's over.

But I did learn some things. Besides the fact that my DNA is composed entirely of wheat germ.

My egg sandwich is on a skinny wheat bagel and my coffee is lighted with soy milk. That's right people, it's the little things.

My skin is back to red blotches though.

But anyway, there was no way I could do a full month. I'm currently "training" for a 1/2 marathon and on Sunday when I went for my long run I had energy only for the first 2 miles. The next 5 were miserable. I had to sit down. I've never sat down on a run before. Not to mention at the family barbque I had some lovely chocolate chip cookies my sister made (and her cookies are amazing, I dare you not to eat them if they are presented to you. They call out to you...) and some ice cream cake. And beer. But after being so good for so many days, my stomach rebelled. I could feel the sugars fermenting. Not fun.

I managed to jump back on the wagon though until yesterday when I snuck some gold fish crackers. Then I broke down and had a bowl of my honey sunshine cereal [Yes, it is really called honey sunshine and is completely good for you]. I then knew I was done with my abstinence and opened a Hazed and Infused beer (now in a can. I haven't had good beer in a can in ages!)

So as I sit here with my lovely coffee I have a few changes to my life.

1. Only 1 cup of caffeinated coffee a day. I love the taste of coffee and will get decaf if I need more each day. Plus I never want to experience the caffeinne headache I had last week ever again. Who needs that 36 hours of pain?
2. Use soy milk when given the chance in my coffee. Au Bon Pain (who get a % of my paycheck each week) keeps it out on the coffee station.
3. Eat way more veggies.
4. Limit carb/wheat servings. I don't need the goldfish crackers at 10 PM. At this time there isn't a toddler around to blame for even having them out.
5. I eat a lot less dairy than I thought. The hardest part about the no dairy was milk in my decaf.
6. If I have a special event I will not eat wheat or have any alcohol the preceding 3 days before in order to get glowing skin.
7. 4 pounds aint worth nearly passing out on a run.

So, that bikini is still challenging me, and I'm going to answer the call with a 9 mile run this weekend, following by yoga, a 4 mile run, and then 1 pull up. That's right. 1 pull up.

Cause I've improved since last week.

[*full and correct text above poem excerpt can be found here]

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sometimes I hate it when people are right

Day 4. No, it's not a vast wasteland of headaches and hunger anymore.

OK, well, a little hungry. I still get my 4 PM feed me or die feelings, but I have to say.

I feel freaking amazing.

I guess I'm over the hump. My chiropractor told me last night that the days 2 and 3 of this diet change were the hardest, and from here it was all smooth sailing and rainbows. He said when he does it he wants to kill someone on day 3.

I have to say I came very close yesterday. If the people I were emailing with were in my state, I'd be in prison right now for first degree murder.

Sure enough, when I was leaving his office there was a rainbow in the sky.

But this morning when I woke up I did not bound out of bed ready to start the day. In fact, I hit the snooze button for 30 minutes. When I did finally get up though I found I could put one foot in front of the other without pain and my head felt clear. Then I got to the mirror.

Something was different.

My skin was clear. Now, I have clear skin. In fact, I've been told by many people that they hate me because I haven't had a pimple in the last decade. My husband who suffered from acne as a teenager just sighs when I claim to have a blemish. It's usually a scratch on my face or a piece of food. I do get roseasca when I drink a lot, but in the past few years that seems to have gone down.

But today my skin was really clear. I was nearly glowing.

One of the reasons why I began this diet change was that I had been experiencing a surge of skin allergies. Rashes, hives, itchiness, and general redness. All gone. No weird welts on my neck. No odd lines on my arms. My red toned skin, which I thought was just my natural color, was a healthy rosy pink.

Of course the first thing I thought wasn't, yay, I'm healthy!

It was crap, this is working and I have to keep going.

So goodbye bread. It looks like it will be a while before we meet again.

And beer, well I can't even think about missing you yet. Tomorrow at the family bbq will be test enough.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fat detox

My son turns one this weekend and I decided it was time to lose the extra weight I picked up carrying him around for 9 months. I'm nearly there...just 5 pounds until my pre-pregnancy weight. In the last year I've lost over 20 pounds but in last 6 months I've not lost one.

But I actually have a lot more to lose.

Before I got pregnant I had just finished training for 2 marathons. I was svelte and muscular. Now I run about once a week and am not svelte and muscular. I'm squishy. While I'm in all the clothes I was wearing this time two years ago, they don't fit quite right, and I know that I've been thinner.

I'm skipping over the fact I'm still wearing the same outfits 2 years later.

So I decided that I needed a jump start on my weight loss. I recently quit Weight Watchers after not losing 1 single pound despite paying for membership for 3 months. My friend out in Cali-lala emailed me this diet that she got from her yoga center.

I know, California. Yoga. Diet. It's sounds a little hippy dippy.

But I saw her a few weeks ago and she looked amazing. Thin. Tan. Fit.

Seeing as I can't really ever be tan, I'll settle for thin and fit.

The diet is fairly simple. Give up all the things you love and eat like an adult. But a hard ass adult who is concerned with fitness. You can eat all the vegetables you want, and most of the lower sugar fruits on the Glycemic index. You can also eat lean meats, but should buy organic to avoid any chemicals/hormones/whatever it is they do to meats these days.

But there are 4 rules that must be followed.

First, no alcohol. I can do that. And I know I will lose weight because of that. I love beer. Heavy imported beer with lots of yeast.

Second, no caffeine. I can do that, but not happily. I couldn't have caffeine while breastfeeding the little guy, so I've done that before.

Third, no wheat. Hmmm. A gluten free diet. I asked myself how much wheat do I really eat..it turns out my DNA probably has wheat meshed into it now. That's how much I eat. On day 1 I thought I was going to starve. I feel very bad for anyone who cannot process gluten because it is just yummy.

Fourth, no dairy. This made me nervous. I drink milk, eat cheese, and while I detest yogurt I eat it. No dairy. I had to consider this very seriously. I have a cheese drawer in my fridge.

But in the end, the bikini that arrived in the mail on Saturday really sealed the deal. It's skimpy. And I needed to lose a few pounds to look decent in it. Plus, I'm in a wedding in July and want to be feel confident in the strapless dress.

So Tuesday began day 1.

And what a frigging day it was. I woke up at 5 like normal and went about my routine. Instead of having a nice bowl of honey sunshine Kashi cereal and coffee I had 2 eggs and green tea. That's not so bad.

Except I was exhausted. Where the caffeine would have pushed me through the rest of my routine to get out of the house and on the train, the green tea did nothing. I called in sick, went back to bed, and slept until 11:30. When I woke up I was starving.

It was then I realized I did not do an important step in this diet. Clean out the fridge.

4 containers of milk, 5 bags of cheeses, a pie, butter, all the wrong fruits. My cabinets were full of crackers and bread. The only fruit I had were the highest on the glycemic index and banned. I wanted a cup of coffee bad. I got a headache. I took another nap.

A frozen Kashi dinner in the freezer saved me at dinner time. Coconut chicken with quinoa. I gnawed on a piece of lettuce and drank gallons of water and tea. The headache persisted through day 2.

Day 2 pretty much went the same except that I was more prepared at lunch and made a nice salad. Dinner was Indian food which was fine except for the white rice and piece of naan. But at that point it was cheat or completely give up. The piece of naan may be why day 3 is going so well. I have it stored in the very fat cells I'm trying to detox and shrink.

Today, day 3, I will make it through the day. I'm armed with decaf coffee, the memory of warm naan, and 2 pounds weight loss in 2 days.

That alone is enough to convince me to keep going.

Monday, May 2, 2011

it was...

A sweatshirt. I bought my husband a sweatshirt for his birthday.

I know, I went overboard in the romance department.

But it's ok. Really. He told me.

You see on Easter Sunday as we were headed out the door to my parents house he pulled off his favorite blue sweatshirt and said he needed something decent. I laughed and ask why it wasn't decent.

It's one of those things that if you see it every day you don't realize exactly what it is, or what it has become.

My husband bought his favorite sweatshirt in July 2004 or thereabout. It was at a friend's wedding up in Maine, and he found a great hoodie in the island gift shop. Well, 7 years later the sweatshirt is more grayish than navy, has a few bleach stains, and has shrunk a size. Or he has grown. It was just his birthday, so we will say the sweatshirt shrunk.

But he was right. It was not an out of the house sweatshirt anymore.

But it was his ONLY sweatshirt. While I have three that I can wear out of the house to the grocery or hardware store, this was his only one. And then I looked at mine and saw that no, I probably shouldn't be wearing them out either. But, it was his birthday.

So after work on Monday I went to the Celtics/Bruins store in North Station for an easy pick up.

Or not.

First of all, he is an admitted fair weather Bruins fan, so I really wasn't looking for a Bruins sweatshirt. Especially at $70 a pop. But jeeze. U-G-L-Y. The ones they had looked like the defects. The Bruins are in the playoffs right? And not playing in a garbage dump? Cause that's where these belonged.

But I wasn't there for the Bruins ones.

Then I saw the Celtics sweatshirts. And rubbed my eyes to make sure I was in the right place.

All they had were sweatshirts with giant embroidered basketballs. And at first I wasn't sure they were basketballs. It was like something my mother would wear. I wondered when embroidery had become hip again, and was glad I wasn't hip. I searched the entire store and there were no other kind. All I wanted was a black or gray hooded sweatshirt with BOSTON or CELTICS on it. Not an example of cross stitching.

Honestly, I can't even find a picture of it.

So I left empty handed, and a little pissed off. Had I thought of this earlier I could have gone through the various websites that sell sports gear.

The next day I went back into the store to make sure it was as ugly as I remembered it.

It was. So I moved on.

One thing that husband recently requested from me was to lay off the Old Navy clothes. Pretty much his entire wardrobe is ON. What can I say? They are pretty easy to get to and have good basics. Most of my clothes are also ON.

Of course after he tells me this I know the only place I'm going to find a sweatshirt is at ON. But I try. Marshalls. Target. TJMaxx. Random stores in Downtown Crossing. Nothing.

Finally I enter ON and there they are. A wall of them.

With so many to pick from I know I need to choose carefully. But I see this one.

It's white. Horrible. Husband turned a navy sweatshirt gray, who knows what will happen to the white.

It says California 1975 surf on it. Horrible. We live in Massachusetts. He is not born in 1975 (although close!) and he doesn't surf.

I love it.

I can picture him wearing it on the beach with his back to the waves. Like we were in California. Hell, maybe it IS 1975.

I stare at it, touching the soft lining.

I look around and spot a guy about our age and go up to him. I've become that woman.

"Excuse me, would you wear this?"

The guy looks around and then at me, afraid. He thinks I'm hitting on him. By trying to dress him.

"No, it's for my husband. I'm trying to pick one out. Would you wear this?"

The guy is more relaxed now that he knows I wont be following him home.

"No. No way. It's white and would be really hard to keep clean."


I thank him and go pick out a plain black one. Then also pile a blue one on that is similar to the white one.

So I have a risk (the blue) and a safety (the black). Armed with two T-s (NOT from ON), a stone beer mug with a bottle opener attached to the bottom, and a chili chocolate bar I'm done.

Except for one thing.

At the last minute I also buy the white sweatshirt.

It looks awesome on me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buying a birthday present

My husband's birthday is this week, and I have to say I was absolutely stumped on what to get him. I usually have some sort of idea well before the big day, but this year nothing.

So I asked and got the typically birthday reply.


I asked again. Everyone wants something.

"I really don't know."

Still, I persisted and finally got this response.

"I'm feeling very apathetic towards my birthday, but think it's nice you want to get me something. "

This is not a milestone birthday or anything, but I LOVE to celebrate birthdays. I just do. I decided to keep my ears open and see if he said the word "want" or "need" anywhere.

So, for weeks I listened. Besides some time out in the garage to do woodworking, he doesn't want anything. I'm not counting a new roof. Or the termites to go away. The man is content.

But then on Sunday he slipped. Oh yes, and I was there to hear it.

Going off to my parents for Easter dinner he said

"I just don't have...."

Sorry, can't complete the sentence as he may read this. But don't worry, his birthday is Thursday so I'll fill in the blank then!