Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Post-Runner's High

Do you have those moments where you think "How the heck did I do that?" That would be yesterday's negative run.

I had seven miles with the last three being 9:00-9:15 pace. $Bill decided to change his run to my run, under the guise that this one would be easier (and it is, if you compare it word-for-word to his).

We started off pretty good. At least I felt great. The weather was a bit warm, but not upsetting with the pace we were doing. I was chatty catty, as usual, and felt a bounce in my gait because I was just feeling "it".

But things changed when we upped the pace. The bounce deflated. The chattiness died down. The weather was HOT and my short-sleeved shirt became an annoying piece of clothing that I wanted to rip off. I was no longer feeling "it".

And this was at the start of the run.

And it got worse because all we had to run was UP. We had a good mile before we found anything remotely going DOWN.

But we did it. And our silent communication skills were off.

I trailed behind $Bill, who was earlier implying that he wasn't going to go faster and that he would trail behind ME.

I contemplated on just slowing the pace down...maybe even WALKING. But at some point, I decided to do what I could to keep up with him so I got even-stevens with him. To him, this meant he was going to slow. To me, this was catching up to the pace we should be doing.

Completing this long hill is one of those moments where I think "how the hell did I do that?"

Then we hit the down part and I seemed to recover well from the hellacious hill. I am feeling pretty good...not "it" because I know I have more hills ahead. I tell Bill "I'm not going to make those hills" and he says something like 'cuz we are running too fast.'

At some point, I get these brain fogs where things don't process well. Like trying to slow down because I am running faster than my goal pace. That is what was happening to me then. I would look at my watch and see 8:3x and not slow down. According to Bill, I would actually speed up.

The hills hurt. I wanted to cry thinking about how much more I had to go before the finish. Why the hell do I do this to myself?!?

And we just kept pushing forward ahead. Every hill. We even had a stitch! And we finished strong. Seven miles, the last two at 8:50 pace, a good 20-25 seconds faster than the goal pace.

I remember telling Bill, after taking my shoes off, then limping around (my left foot has been sore for a week or so...so I think it's funny that I run fine then limp to walk), I'm never doing that again!

But reflecting on it, I am sooooo proud! I am so happy that we did that. It was a hard workout. We pushed ourselves way out of our comfort zones, which is HUGE for me.

I probably will avoid doing a negative workout on that particular routes but I am quite pleased that I did it. That person yesterday was awesome.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Run for Healthier Babies 5K Race Report

I need to be specific about my race goals. Breaking 25 minutes means 24:59 to me. The funny thing? I did that. According to my watch. But that is not the official gun time. That would be 25:05. So I'm not done yet. I have to try at my next 5K...Free to Breathe on November 7th.

But I have no complaints.

Today was a great race day for me.

I didn't choke.

I ran a great pace.

I felt great.

It felt hard.

The weather was perfect.

The course was nice.

And no one around me seemed to bother me...heavy breathing and all.

The morning started off pretty well until we were all in the car and Tim asked me where we were going. Huh? So I had to find the address. "Morrisville" is not enough information to get to the starting line.

Once there, I got my shit and listened to the introduction of why the race was around: benefiting the March of Dimes. I am *so* happy to run races for charity. There are few that actually profit, but they are there. I am making a conscious effort to avoid those races.

I found Coach B and she gave me the "go get 'em" talk that pumped me up. I was ready although I am always doubtful about how I will do. I just tried not to think about that..."Just show up and run" is what I was going for.

I found $Bill at the start line and then we were off. $Bill took off like a bat out of hell. I stayed on course...*my* course... I noticed I was running a sub-8 minute miles and thought 'what the hell is Bill doing?' :)

I kept looking at my watch -- so there will probably be many pictures of that...Tim will love that since the only two pics he got of me are looking at my watch (this seems to be my modus operandi).

My first mile I stayed under 8 minutes; the second I stayed in the low 8s; the third, I was back in the mid-7s. I couldn't believe it. It all felt really good but really hard. After I finished, I told Bill, Tim and Coach B that I couldn't even say "thank you" to the volunteers. Coach B said 'that's good - you can thank them after wards.' Meaning -- I should be pushing hard and not able to talk. I was very happy that I did that today.

So the end result is that I made my goal. I ran 24:59 (can you believe it?) and my splits were:
Mile 1: 7:57
Mile 2: 8:03
Mile 3: 7:52
.01: 1:07

My official time, however, is 25:05 so I didn't make my goal to the unfortunate gun time, which ends up being the official time. So as I mentioned earlier, my goal is much more clear: my official time needs to be under 25 minutes. I have another chance in two weeks.

State Fair 2009

The state fair is something I truly enjoy going to. It reminds me of all the fairs I went to as a child:

* in the Philippines, it was called the HOG - Happening on the Green. I played high rollers to win glass figurines, or rode the swings and other thrill rides with my friends. I rode the ferris wheel every year until one year, I suddenly had a great fear, when the ferris wheel was going down (instead of up) and I had to crouch close to the floor of it. It also gave me an opportunity to ride the buggy rides with Aric, the guy I had a crush on for nearly most of my sixth grade year.

* in Arkansas, it was the County fair. Smaller but I would still be excited. Rode a lot of thrill rides with my friends and at that time, I was trying to win those glass plates with band names on it. WTF were those? I see them still at the fair and I have no idea why they were ever created.

* in Florida, there was a county fair but it was HUGE. I placed second or third in poetry for my middle school. I wish I had that poem now...all I remember is something about "star-crossed lovers". But this fair, which was near Miami, was HUGE. This one had its own roller coaster and ski-lift like ride that encompassed the fair. I got my dad on the roller coaster. That was cool. Right after we got off of it, the coaster got stuck. I remember being sad that I missed the opportunity to be on the ride that got stuck.

When we moved to Raleigh, Tim and I went to the fair nearly every year. We go for a few hours, waste money on the games, and eat everything and anything that came our way.

When CJ was born, we took her to her first fair, at four months old. It was FREEZING that year. And we bundled up and took her anyway. I remember some old bitty, as we were buying more grease to eat, saying to us 'you shuldn't bring that baby out here in the cold!' BAH!

So we continued our tradition and have made it every year. I love it. Maybe not the same as when I was a teenager, but fun nonetheless.

This year was a great year. The crowds, which I typically hate, didn't seem to bother me. We gave the girls a budget so that we weren't throwing $3 all over the place to shoot water into a hole to win a stuffed animal worth, well, $3.

Food, of course, has no budget. :) The standard fare: sausage dog, Al's french fries, funnel cakes, fried dough, chocolate covered frozen banana, deep fried oreos, coke, lemonade, ice cream and cotton candy. I don't think we hit any of the food groups there...oh wait, the banana.

We used up all the ride tickets I bought ($50 worth). That was my goal this year. Usually we have some leftover. Not enough to sell but a few to get a ride or two in. I didn't want to do that this year. If that meant ME riding the rides, so be it!

But thankfully, the girls got their rides in. CJ is still tentative about riding the bigger rides. That may come more from peer pressure from gal pals than mom and mi-mi. But we did ride the sizzler together: me, CJ and Mi-Mi. I would've LOVED that ride as a teen...and although I wasn't afraid to get on it, once it started going, I thought "Oh shit. I have to stay on this one for how long?" It was daunting for me. Lots of full force swinging in every direction.

Tim said CJ and I never opened my eyes. Um, my eyes were open, they were just looking down. I had a hard time picking up my head from the g-forces pushing it down. And both girls slammed into me so I was wedged in one position. It was making me feel so odd that I was worried for my girls. Tim told me that Mi-Mi was wide-eyed the entire time, happily screaming with joy. This was CJ's favorite ride of the evening.

I was able to get Mi-Mi to ride the water slide with me. I rode it a couple of years ago with CJ, who got a little scared by it. I couldn't believe Mi-Mi would join me but she did. Ran for it too. We got in and I was still worried that she would start to get scared...so far so good.

The ride is like a toboggan, but the littlest has to sit behind the adult. This is a bit awkward as the toboggan goes up, because it's so steep that the littlest pulls on me and it feels like she could slip away. This is what freaked CJ out a few years ago. I remembered it so I held on to her hands tightly so Mi-Mi wouldn't feel like she would slip away. This makes it, again, awkward for me because I only have one hand to hold on to anything to keep me from slipping away. But once that puppy goes down...exhilaration! And the first 'down' didn't seem to phase Mi-Mi with fear. The last one is much higher and since Mi-Mi is scared of heights, I thought "Oops. I forgot how high this thing gets!"

But nope - she was yelling about how she could see EVERYTHING and was asking me to look at the ferris wheel. Apparently *I* wasn't as brave as my six year old! I was sooooo proud and thrilled that she was excited by the ride. And when we got off, she was ready to ride everything -- just like me. I was going to try the alpine ones -- you know the ones that just go round and round really fast? But Tim thought it might be too much for her...and apparently, after riding the sizzler, it would have been too much for me!

We won some worthless prizes towards the end, so the girls were happy. A 5-9 trip to the fair...as CJ told us when we were leaving: enjoy it all now...we won't get to do this again for another year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

When I started this book, I noticed that this was categorized as a "YA" book at the library, meaning "Young Adult". No problem. I am OK with that, as the Twilight Series and several other good books I've read are categorized as Young Adult.

Instantly, I loved the writing style. It is from the perspective of Elizabeth, AKA Daisy, a 15-year old teenager in modern times. The paragraphs are long, rambling sentences with improper punctuation that I had to read a couple of times to understand the meaning.

But not always.

And it was a perfect style.

The story started with Daisy flying from NY to England to stay with her Aunt and cousins, while her step-monster and her dad deal with the baby they are about to have.

Daisy's mother died while in childbirth with Daisy. And she was looking forward to learning more about her mother through her Aunt Penn, someone she had never met.

Very quickly, she bonds with her cousins: Edmond, Piper, Isaac and Osbert. The lightheartedness of Daisy's life with her cousins, her attitude about life, and her disdain for eating, is pretty atypical of a great story about a teenager growing up.

There is a connection with Edmond, yes, a first cousin who also shares the same attraction. The story seems to veer towards the eerie ability of Edmond to 'hear' Daisy's thoughts. He responds to her thoughts out loud. Isaac also has an uncanny ability to be an "animal whisperer" type person.

A great, beautiful story and then...

...the twist that I was not anticipating.

I had all along thought "Hmmm, CJ would probably enjoy this story too." Even with the taboo relationship Daisy has with her cousin, I think it's a story she may enjoy.

Then the Occupation occurs; the bombings; a War.

And though no one is ever mentioned who was at war, what countries, who the true enemy was, the story begins to sound like a setting from WWII, only it's technically NOW. No e-mail. Not cell phone service. No flying anywhere.

No power. No petrol. Food is rationed. Aunt Penn, who flew to Oslo to speak at a peace conference, could not come back to England...so the teenaged children are left to their own devices.

And while a few pages have the teens relishing this, the story turns dark very slowly and I felt dread at every turn of the page: what horrific thing will happen next.

It's an amazing story. I was ecstatic to have had two wonderful books to read, back-to-back.

This story is a must-read. It's an eye-opener, IMO, of what can happen to any of us, in this day and age.

Clearing Out the Cobwebs

Monday I had a hectic morning, as usual. I had a meeting to get to and was thinking about all the stuff I need to get done for the day, and for the days ahead.

My mom and her man, GB, were also on their way to see me. I wanted to get a call into her to let her know that:
1. CJ was going to be bold and attempt to take the bus HOME.
2. How to get into the house.
and 3. around about time that I would be home.

All of which she talked over me with "yeah, yeah, OK". Then she asked "what exit off 540 do we need to take to get to your house?"

Um.........

I'm trying to think and picture 540 to my house. The image is not clear.

My mom interrupts my hard thinking with more explanation because she I guess she thinks I just decided to stop talking to her.

But I was trying to see how to get to my house from 540 and I couldn't see it. So I said 'not 540...you need 70.'

'Here, talk to GB' and then he gets on and he asks the same thing...I tell him 'you need to get to 70 to Lynn...' and before I could continue he says "I KNOW WHERE LYNN IS I JUST NEED THE EXIT FROM 40". In my panic I said "not 540...70".

And that was that and I went on with my day.

After my first morning meeting, I went out for an intended four mile run with some fast strides at the end. I was humming along, enjoying my iPodless run...it was a beautiful day and none of the hills that usually piss me off, pissed me off. Throughout my run my mind wandered to the past morning's events and what I had ahead of me. Approaching the three mile mark I realized "Um, I told my mom the wrong thing! It *IS* 540 *THEN* 70!!!" I was more upset that they would have one over me: you can't give directions. So I rushed back to the gym to try to get a hold of my mom, just in case they hadn't made it to Raleigh (which was very unlikely).

The whole rushed time back to the gym, I am just kicking myself for giving bad directions. And then I go to the blame game "Why can't they have GPS???" "Why can't they print out directions"...you know, trying to figure out why it can't be _my_ fault!

I get back, call, get VM. I leave a message "I'm a dimwit. Gave you wrong directions. Wasn't thinking straight. So Sorry!!! So. So. SORRY!!" Basically, "I suck".

Come to find out, when I got home and apologized again, GB said that the exit sign reads 540/70 so I *was* right. :) I just don't think that counts...

But amazing, in reflection, how I can clear out all that stuff in my head while out for a run.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

This novel was beautiful. I loved it. Initially, I had trouble reading it...deciphering what was happening. But the characters are engaging right away. I was hooked and it just got deeper and deeper for me.

As always, my opinion is if you want to be wonderfully surprised, pick up this book and read it. Know that it is prosaic, beautiful and a tad bit off. The beauty of this book for me was not really knowing what it was about and the surprise I got was...just...cool in a beautiful way. Don't read anymore of this. Stop. Read the book. Then come back and finish the rest of this post.

The book is a mystery. A mystery that I didn't realize was there until halfway through. And I found myself flipping back chapters to re-read sections after I thought I discovered what was the truth.

Leo Gursky and Alma. Alma, the beautiful, young girl who is named after the love of Leo's life. Leo, the oldest man in the world (as Alma put it), a lonely old man waiting for death...who pines for Alma, the woman he loves, who he had a son with, Isaac Moritz, the world famous writer...who doesn't even know Leo is his father, let alone exists.

But within this profound novel is another novel, The History of Love. It is a novel that was written for a woman named Alma, who Alma, the young girl, is named after. Her father, may he rest in peace, gave this book to the woman of his dreams, Alma's mother. And now, a mystery person is asking for this beautiful Spanish novel to be translated into English, which is what Alma's mother is doing.

Slowly but magnificently, the mysterious unravel and what I thought happened didn't happen. And the ending was picture perfect. This will definitely be one book I would pick up again to read. I am so grateful when there are people out there that can write this...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

EEEEG!

Today I had an EEG; my first.

Just to clarify, this is an electroencephalography...not to be confused with an EKG (or ECG), electrocardiography.

An EEG records electrical activity in the brain.

To make a long story short, I had a weird thing happen several weeks ago that appeared to be a TMI, or a mini-stroke. So far, I have had an MRI and a blood test and it doesn't appear to be a mini-stroke. The EEG was another test to go through to see if my brain is showing signs of seizures.

The EEG is a sleep study. The instructions for me was to be sleep deprived. And no caffeine. Lucky I remembered as I semi-dozed on the sofa this morning or I would have been amped on some Jet Fuel.

Sleep deprivation wasn't a problem. I have been insanely tired since coming back from LA but Mi-Mi helped out last night by keeping me awake. She hurt her shoulder in a monkey-bars accident on Tuesday and hasn't been able to sleep well at night due to the pain and uncomfortableness. So she likes to share her misery with me.

Got up pretty early (5:30) and walked around like a zombie. I wasn't sure if I could drive myself to the appointment without dozing off. Course, once I get there, although I don't feel wide awake, I have that pee-in-the-cup syndrome where I think "I can't fall asleep under pressure!"

I had a chatty technician, as she marked my scaled then put the nodes on. That actually felt really good. Then she walks me to a room that looks like a find hotel room. Queen sized bed with nightstand, etc. Really nice!

She tells me to get comfortable and I lay there while she leaves and then talks to me via an intercom.

First thing is some kind of strobe light that flashes on my closed eyes. I thought with the first flash that I was going to have a seizure...seriously...but it went away and I thought it might have just been a minor, nervous attack.

The second thing I was supposed to do was blow on a pinwheel. You heard right: blow on a pinwheel! I kept doing this, thinking I was going to pass out in all the breath I was taking to blow on it. The whole time I thought there were people watching the camera just laughing "Can you believe Brenda has this patient blowing on a pinwheel!!!"

She was coaching me too: "you're doing great!" "keep it up" "almost finished" It was as if I were running a race!

After the pinwheel event, I could get comfy and try to sleep. She even said "Good night" when she signed off. I wondered if I could and I did. It seemed like 10 minutes later she woke me up but told me she let me sleep for 20 minutes.

Before she let me get up, however, she said she had to ask me a few questions. Huh?

First question "What year is it". Um, I actually had to think about it. It seemed too obvious that I could answer it so quickly. I answered "2009". Long pause. I had to think again if I answered correctly before she asked the next one..."Who is the President of the United States?" I said "Barack Obama" but when I thought about how I said it, it sounded like "barrack obamma". This was an even longer pause and I started panicking: did it sound like Barack Obama *to me* but incomprehensible to her? Still nothing from the intercom. Hmmm...did she hear me? Maybe she didn't hear me and she's waiting for me to answer? OMG! What do I do? Should I say "um, hello?" Or repeat my answer? While ruminating on the situation, she came in to the room and told me I did good. :)

Do I Know You??!

During Adobe Max, I couldn't seem to connect to the wifi with my iTouch. My laptop wouldn't connect either so I thought there was a problem with the particular wifi service I was trying to connect to.

On the very last day, after all was said and done, I complained to my peer how I couldn't connect to the wifi that Adobe had for "us". He took a look at my iTouch and simply took it out of my hands and started mucking with it. I thought nothing of it and went on to have discussions with the other peers. A couple minutes later he handed it back, connected to the wifi.

Reflecting back on this reminded me of the time that *I* took hold of someone else's iPhone. And this time, not with someone I knew...just someone I had just met. She was trying to get twitter running and I took *her* iPhone out of her hands and started mucking with it.

Is this what we do? We are soooo comfortable with our iPhone devices that we just assume the role of 'owner' when we encounter someone else's iPhone problem? Hey, it doesn't bother me :) but since when do I take over someone's phone or laptop?

Just thought it was an interesting observation...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday Track

Did I mention that I like doing track workouts? I do. They are hard. And today was hard.

Usually, while I enjoy the workout, during it I am thinking "I don't like running fast". That's exactly what yesterday felt like. My legs were feeling rubbery. But not as rubbery as Saturday's race. But not comfortable like Monday's recovery run.

Tuesday's track workout ended up being over a six mile run: 2 mile warm-up, 2x1 mile@8:15 (400 recovery), 2x800@3:50-3:55 (200 recovery) and 1/2 mile cool down.

I did it with times faster than target: 8:02 for both miles and 3:45/3:46 for the 800s. For some reason, I kept pushing the stop button vs. the lap button during my 800s. Not a big deal but it breaks it up when I upload my data to RunningAhead.

So the good news is that I pushed myself hard to go beyond my targets. The bad news is that I still feel like I don't want to run fast. But I'm gonna have to if I want to break 25 at my next 5K.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Is It?

Last night, we were watching the latest Saturday Night Live(recording). The bit was the Larry King Live show and what men do with their wieners. The girls were watching too, so there was a bit of awkward silence while we watched. After a good minute or two of 'why men want to put their wieners in things', Mi-Mi asks "What's a wiener?"

I died laughing...tears flowing from my eyes. It was too funny.

Tim said "it's a hotdog". And she just had a look of confusion, then disbelief.

'Really. What's a wiener?'

So I decided to whisper it to her...I leaned down and whispered "It's a penis".

Silence and another weird look on her face.

The silence and a look of confusion continued for another minute when she whispered back to me "It's a peanut?"

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Triangle Run/Walk for Autism Race Report

I wanted to break 25 with this race. I didn't do it.

I still had the goal in my head, despite the fact that I didn't put in a run this week. Also, despite the facts that:
* I didn't eat very well all week; "very well" including 'not much'.
* I drank a lot of alcohol this week...more than usual.
* I stood/walked on my feet more hours of the day than not.
* I was jet lagged beyond belief after being up for 24 hours (maybe not quite that long, but greater than 16).
* All the walking in sandals made the top of my left foot sore. I add this but I didn't feel this during the run.

I *still* believed I could do it. I wasn't nervous and actually, tentative but pumped for the run. The course is the almost similar to Run for the Oaks, except reversed, so I was comfortable that the course was PR-able. I still think it is but despite my other reasons, the humidity just killed my goal. I blame it on the humidity and lack of proper nutrition.

The first mile or so went extremely well. I had a pretty decent gait that didn't feel fast and I was averaging a 7:58 minute/mile for that first one. If I could keep it close, I knew I had a great chance of doing pretty well.

But I soon noticed that my feet were burning up. This was not good since I was just a mile into it. Hot feet never ever ever improve. Blame that on humidity.

The first hill I encountered was what struck me down. I attempted to do what I did at the 10 miler, which was to keep a strong pace up the hill. I wasn't trying to speed up it but maintain a decent pace and not slow down. From that hill, which was closer to the two mile mark, my whole comfortable pattern was gone.

My heart rate monitor started buzzing. I had turned on the heart rate zones a couple weeks ago and this was the first time I had heard it go off. Sure enough - I was in the 200s. Wow. I just saw that as I write this, so I'm a bit surprised! Blame the humidity on this one.

The heart rate monitor continued to go off and I see that the next two-point-one miles had me in the 200s...ending with a 207 heart rate!!! That is the HIGHEST I have ever seen.

But somewhere along the buzzing of the heart rate monitor, I noticed my legs felt very rubbery and tickly...like they couldn't hold me up. That, I believe, is from not being nutritionally sound for the week. I just kept forging ahead, just wondering how I was going to make it to the finish...and wondering why I did 10 miles better than 3.1.

I ended up with an unofficial 26:16...far off from the sub-25 I wanted. I have another race in a couple of weeks, so I'll have to work hard to make sure I prepare myself for it. My splits show my struggle:
Mile 1: 7:58 max heart rate: 189
Mile 2: 8:25 max heart rate: 203
Mile 3: 8:58 max heart rate: 206
0.13 mile: 0.55 max heart rate 207

I found $Bill afterward. We walked quite a bit, drank a lot of water, before we both felt like we weren't actually going to pass out. I don't know my official time yet but $Bill said it looked like I placed 6th out of 36 in my age group. Seems to me I wasn't the only one having a problem with the race today.

Note: Official time: gun time: 26:28; chip time 26:18.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Virginia Lovers by Michael Parker

I so enjoyed Michael Parker's book If You Want Me To Stay that I have had his other novels on my "must read" list since then.

If You Want Me To Stay was one of the most amazing novels I read and was my favorite for 2007. I think I failed to mention, two years ago, that Michael Parker is a native of NC. A professor (at the time) at UNC-Greensboro. Unbelievable writer and this novel ranks up there and compares, in the most favorable way, as If You Want Me To Stay.

The protagonists are three men: Charles and his sons Pete and Daniel. Caroline, the wife and mother, is here but she does not narrate so we don't get to know her so well as we get to know Charles, Pete and Daniel.

And Parker really lets us know these men well. We know what they think, even though what they say is not the same. We know that they want to speak, SCREAM, reach out, even though they remain silent.

It's powerful. The life of the Edgecombs, in the small town of Trent, North Carolina. It's pretty cool to read a novel with mentions of Raleigh, and the area around me that I am familiar with.

I don't know what took me so long to pick up another novel by this amazing author. He is definitely one of my favorites of all time.

LA Part Two

Day one of the conference was pretty cool. Although there was a lot of the expected marketing spiel, the end brought an amazing preview of the movie Avatar. It felt like we got to see almost the entire film, as we had narrated previews between movie clips from the film's producer, Jon Landau. To top it off? 3D on a 60 foot movie screen in the Nokia Theater. I wasn't really into this movie until now. Forget Christmas. December 18th is now on my calendar.

The keynote session ran way over that some of the labs were moved back 30 minutes. And the schedule changed a little bit...which I hadn't realized until three hours after my first session when I noticed that the room I was in was not for the session I signed up for. Hmmm...I thought it seemed a little light. Oh wells.

For some reason, my sessions are the furthest away from anything. It's a long walk and I have my most comfortable heeled wedges, which aren't so comfortable walking back and forth, standing around, for nine hours. I have blisters. And these are my comfy shoes. There are other women around me with less comfortable shoes, faking the "i'm-not-in-pain-in-these-shoes" walk. And we'll do it all over again today.

It's been cool, thus far. No one has pissed me off. :) I have been hanging out with my colleagues, which is great with quite a few of them, who I only know from shared knowledge but not actually socializing with them. So far, I haven't pissed them off...?

Today was a run day for me. I was hell bent on doing it, even if it meant running on the damn treadmill. But I really really really want to see the scenery of downtown LA. But LA is not safe and even though I had a friend volunteer to run with me, I decided to bag it when we left the ESPN Zone eatery at 9PM. I was exhausted and felt like my feet - and legs - had enough punishment for the day.

Monday, October 05, 2009

L!A LA! LA! LA! LA!

Finally. Made. It.

It's now 6 AM and I've been up for an hour. Still on East Coast time. I still feel tired though. Yesterday was spent entirely traveling.

Tim and the girls dropped me off at RDU at 9:40ish so I could get my shit together for my 10:55 flight to Dallas. Mi-Mi gave me three notes in the car:

We are leaving to go to airport.


I'm so sad your leaving! (she drew a picture of her crying)


But I'm so happy we're eating kids cuisine! (happy face)


Ask me if I cried...

I get on the plane and end up with the most turbulent ride of my life. I did not look at weather reports so I had no idea there were storms around Arkansas, so we were shaking and a grooving on this ride. I sat in the back and I could hear the dishes and utensils falling behind me. And worst of all? The calm flight attendant saying on the PA "EVERYONE GET BACK TO YOUR SEATS!" It was like a comedy, but not so funny.

And not so funny because that ride came in late and made me miss my connecting flight to LA. I met a colleague at the end of the turbulent ride who is also on his way to the Adobe Max conference...so we managed to book ourselves on the next flight, which was leaving at 3:55...I was supposed to leave at 1:25.

I managed to get on via standby on a 3:35 flight. If I was a frequent traveler (or an Amazing Race contestant), I would have immediately gone to the earliest flight and got on standby there.

Speaking of The Amazing Race, I am 90% sure that I saw Michael Munoz, who was one of the brother stuntmen contestant on The Amazing Race. I just stared at him, thinking "OMG! It's HIM!" and then he caught me looking so I just shrugged (to note that we are in the same boat, missing our connecting flight). I think he knew I knew who he was. I swore that I would get his autograph or get my picture with him if I saw him again, but at that point, I was too chicken. And I didn't see him again; those Amazing Race skills worked for him, most likely, to get him on the 2:30 flight that I didn't think to try for.

The flight from Dallas to LAX was great. Great landing. I rated it an 8. My bag was waiting for me since it got there before me. BTW, again, not a frequent traveler, but American now charges for a single bag to be checked in!! When did that happen???

I asked for help to getting to the Wilshire. I think I said "Will Shire" to which the traveler's aid guy said "willshirrr? DOWNTOWN?" Um...I don't know where the hell it is...WILLSHIRRRR!

So he pointed me to the super shuttle guy to take a van to the willshirrr downtown. I find the super shuttle guy and he says the same thing "Willshirrr DOWNTOWN?" Um, what's going on here? I didn't PICK downtown! ADOBE MAX DID!

After a good half hour waiting in the windy & bitingly cool median for van #670 to take me to the willshirrrr downtown, I finally make it on a packed van with a grumpy and scary-driving van driver. I winced, crumpled, and any other dramatic motions one can do in a van full of complete strangers. I tried not to look. I don't know how I made it out alive. But I did.

The hotel is wonderful. The downtown area is beautiful. I don't know why the tone! I walked a bit, looking for a place to buy toothpaste (hotels should really invest in those trial packages to give out to forgetful people like me) and it reminded me of NYC, except the foot traffic. There were hardly any people around the area...the foot traffic resembles Raleigh downtown foot traffic.

But for the most part, it is well-lit, lots of cops, at least near my hotel, so I was only mediumly paranoid about being killed by a psycho.

I ate solo at the hotel's italian restaurant. Decided to have the RISOTTO! Not bad, but nothing amazing.

Now it's morning time and I am meeting my colleagues in about 45 minutes to head over to the conference. I'm looking forward to it. And hope to get some good anecdotes to share on a future post.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson

A short and sweet novel.

But it doesn't read short. Richardson fills this 119 page novel with such prose and detail on Zipper and Ambrose.

And sweet is an understatement. The life we learn about Ambrose and Zipper, the love they have for one another...it's not dripping with cheesy heartfelt sentiment. It's deeper than that and extremely beautiful.

I shed a tear or two at the end. It's worth the read. Something very different but not. It's just a beautiful book to read.

My favorite piece that I wanted to quote was this, from "F":

When we would walk. In our evenings along the river, she wore that fragrance. A wise and clever woman, my wife. This I know, she would say: A man can see a hundred women, lust for a thousand more, but it is one scent that will open his eyes and turn him to love.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Push It Baby, Push It Baby, Out of Control

I thought it was cruel and unusual punishment that Coach B had me run 10 miles six days after I just ran a 10 mile race...but then my BFF Frank was doing *20* miles, so then I thought "so what? i didn't sign up for a marathon! two 10 mile runs in a row???"

But honestly, I wasn't so uptight about it. And until mile 9, I felt pretty darn good. Mile 9.33 has a big steep hill and there was no way in hell my legs had anything left to even attempt to run up them. But the rest of the run had me at sub-10 minute pace and while I wouldn't say it was "comfortable", it certainly was do-able for several miles.

I started late but there were many groups getting started after me. That made me feel better as I'm still wary of the greenways from Shelley Lake. But there is nowhere else in the area that you can get 10 flat miles.

I went with music today...until 5.5 when the music died...well, the iPod. I survived and had enough hellos and mornings to give to my fellow runners. Today's random playlist:

Intervention by Arcade Fire - I actually selected this one. I wanted to start with this wonderful song. Video is disturbing but apt.

Queen of the Air by Everclear - One day I will write a review on this album, which makes my all-time favorite albums.

Shimmy by System of a Down

Starstrukk by 30H!3 - Not a great song, but not a bad one. This is one of CJ's songs. But what I loved best were these lyrics, which is included in this post's title:
Push it baby, push it baby,
Out of control,
I got my gun cocked tight and I'm ready to blow,
Push it baby, push it baby,
Out of control,
This is the same old dance that you already know

I liked that I was doing my second 10 mile run in a week and this seemed fitting to rev me up for my next nine miles.

Electra Made Me Blind by Everclear

The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson - another one of my favorite albums and favorite bands. This album was the album I engulfed my life in while pregnant with CJ *and* Mi-Mi. I wanted to play this during my labor for both girls. Sadly, CJ HATES Manson now.

Pale Green Stars by Everclear - one of my favorite songs on this album. I wanted to sing out loud while I was running. But I didn't.

Mr. Brightside by Marty Casey

The Caterpiller (Flicker Mix) by The Cure - I remember when I bought this album. I was in a local music video store in Greenville, NC, while I was attending ECU. I was browsing through the used CDs and found this album when peripherally, I saw a guy come out of the back "curtained" room and approach me.

"Hey, I know you from the Croatan". The Croatan being the cafe that me and my BFF Kris would meet before our classes.

I remember he wore a shirt that looked like skull and crossbones until you got close enough to see that they were actually people figures in various sexual positions. Ewwww.

He continued to hit on me for the next few weeks. I don't remember how I shook him off but that's what I remember anytime I hear this album.

Science by System of a Down

Disturbia by Rhianna - the glory of "shuffle": to go from SOAD to Rhianna. I'm neutral-to-leaning-towards-not when it comes to Rhianna...but I didn't want to move my hand up to my arm to press the next button.

Knights of Cydonia - Muse - one of my latest favorite bands. My girls love them too, which makes me happy. They are touring with U2. Everyone is all about U2. I just want to see Muse. But I have to wait until they tour with a cheaper band.

The awesome YMCA counselor said she saw Muse at The Cat's Cradle a few years ago. She said they were awesome. She also said she didn't want to pay $120 to see old men sing, referring to U2. Loved it. She also referred me to other bands to look up: Mew and another one that I can't remember...thank goodness she wrote it down for me.

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson

I'm With the Band by Little Big Town

Trouble

I love this commercial. It's for Traveler's Insurance, which I don't care nor know anything about.

The First Dance

CJ made it through her first school dance. She even closed the house down.

She told me in the car 'they had to kick us out!'

She sounded so exhilarated when she called to tell me she was done. I was just soooo happy for her.

It started with the first text message she sent me after she got out of school "when r u piking me up?"

Once I got her, she talked a little bit about it. I asked what time it started...6:30, right? Yes, she says, "but I want to be fashionably late".

OMG.

I decided I would take her out to dinner beforehand and I brought all the necessary paraphernalia: Cooking Light magazine, two books, and my iPod touch. CJ suggested that I head to the Harris Teeter, grab a movie from Redbox, and watch it while I wait for her in the parking lot. One idea that I didn't think of!! Brilliant! But I was committed to the items I had already brought.

I had a coupon for buy one get one free at EVOO. As luck would have it, EVOO is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the school dance. We arrive and....EVOO is closed for good. I then remembered reading about it not too long ago.

So I decided to give NoFo a try. It's also on the same road, just further down in the Five Points area. Don't forget, I'm taking my picky eater out.

Picky eater did well, since they had a kid's menu. And she was really trying to make a night out of this: she was really trying to decide whether she ordered the chicken fingers (which she said she really felt like eatin) or ordering from the non-kid's menu...a cheeseburger.

The complimentary bread came out and she actually tried dipping it in the olive oil. Whose child is this??

On the way to the dance, she asks "Are you really just going to sit in the parking lot, waiting for me?" I was. But I told her that I would probably go and get a coffee or something.

But I didn't. I did fine with my own quiet time: read my magazine, played solitaire and listened to several of my KATG podcasts. It was great, actually. I did get antsy at the end. All the parents were arriving, forming a blockade behind me, as they waited in their cars for the dance to be over.

Then I got the call.

She danced, socialized, and was just glowing... No boys to dance with though. She didn't seem disappointed about that now...we'll see for the next one. Which is in December.

Friday, October 02, 2009

MiMi's Musings

Mi-Mi has been pretty good at writing some very interesting sentences at school. I have to share these because they are so cute and funny.

One sheet she had to fill in was a finish the sentence sheet:
I want to learn to "tie my shoes".
I want to learn this because "I don't want to keep falling down."

Then there are the word families that she has to learn. This means that they get a new word family, like "en" and they have to make up words, and sentences, using this word family: hen, pen, men, etc.

Last week, the word family was "ill". These are the sentences she wrote:

"My dad has a drill."
"My mom and dad take pills."

I can't wait to see what the new word family brings this week.

School Dance

My little big girl is going to her first school dance tonight.

At least I hope so.

She was thrilled to learn that Middle School would have school dances. But when the day came closer and closer to reality, she was unsure that she would actually want to go.

And because CJ has a harder head than me, and can be easily swayed the way I would not want her to go, I had to tread lightly with the subject matter. "It's up to you. I think you would have fun."

I told her to find out if she could bring a friend from another school. She did. She can't. But at this point, it was the wisdom of a "colleague" that convinced her to go. A friend told her "You should go to the dance because everyone will talk about it on Monday and you will feel left out if you don't go."

She then said to me "even if I just go for an hour". I agreed and told her that I could just wait nearby and come get her when she was ready. She said "Yeah. You could go grocery shopping at the Harris Teeter [there's one right at the corner] and that [grocery shopping] will take as long as I'll want to be there."

I agreed. But did say that she could stay as long as she wanted. The whole dance lasts three hours three hours, which truly, isn't a lot of time.

So she planned her outfit. Tim got her one part of it on Wednesday; we got the rest on Thursday.

I loved my school dances in Middle School. Me and a group of girls would be taken there with a parent and dropped off. The rest of the night was filled with looking for other friends (that we had just seen hours before) and hug them with delight, as if we hadn't seen each other in forever. Then the next task was to find all the boys that we liked and hoped that they would ask us to slow dance. And miraculously, they did. I was able to dance with every one of the boys (throughout middle school) that I had crushes on. They still broke my heart, but in that one instance that I could dance with them, it was Xanadu.

Then the other part of the evening included tearfests...over what? I don't recall. The boy we love dancing with another girl perhaps? Girl fights? I just remember joy, excitement, and tears were on the agenda for school dances. Oh yeah. And sometimes dancing.

I remember clearly my first dance. I had finally been able to dance with Yung Hill, the boy that me and at least two of my girlfriends were in love with. Somehow, we shared him. But I finally had my slow dance with him and I was in heaven. At some point, mid-dance, I feel a sharp tap tap on my shoulder. I turn to look and see...my dad. He points to his watch: it's time to go. WHAT?? Can't you see I'm doing something here????? Embarrassed, I turn and leave with my dad, who has no concern for my well-being, just that it was 'time to go'. I don't even remember if I left Yung Hill standing there, confused as to what just happened.

But thankfully, that was the last time my dad came IN to get me. I could meet him, or another parent, outside, when the dance was over.

And that's where I'll be tonight. If CJ wants to be there an hour, or three hours, I'll be sitting in my car, waiting patiently for her...hoping she's having the time of her life...minus the tears.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

NaNo NaNo

Greetings from Ork?

No, this would be NaNoWriMo, AKA National Novel Writing Month.

The premise is: write a 50,000 word, 175 page novel starting November 1st and ending November 30th. There is no prize except the great feeling of finishing a novel in 30 days.

I heard about this from my running-tweet-blogging friend Lesley and I signed up.

I spread the word at my Teen Writing Club and those talented authors have signed up.

Now what?

I read Alexander Sokoloff's blog post about getting ready for NaNoWriMo by starting to draft outlines NOW...through the month of October.

I mentioned this last night at Teen Writing Club and the girls were ready and excited.

Me?

I have NOTHING.

I haven't written anything except occasional blog posts. I feel like I've gotten blog-writer's-block!

And now I'm supposed to think of a 50,000 word, 175 page novel to write? And I can't think of a single topic to target????

I love to write. I wish I could write more freely here because I think I have a lot of great, evil writings in me that, well, I just can't write in this forum. For my friends who used to receive my e-mails long ago, they know what I'm talking about. I used to be very blatant about my experiences with the people around me, including co-workers who liked to flex their muscles for me and neighbors who liked to 'strike a male model pose' as I drove into my driveway.

Alas, I have to restrain myself and merely write what I feel I can allow myself.

**But** I might be able to use my harnessed oppressions to target a topic, or several, to write that novel.

I found out during my college years how much I loved writing. And then in my older years (like now), do I find myself attracted to literature. I often think about going back to school...what would concentration would I look to? It changes, but lately, literature and/or humanities.

But I digress. October 1st. That is today. I need to get my writing journal out, dust it off, look through it and see if I have any old subject matters that I considered writing about before.

Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it.