Thursday, July 28, 2011

Let It Go

This week I was in Washington, DC for a work conference.  I usually love traveling, and don't mind traveling alone- its like an adventure for me, navigating around a city, trying to blend in like a local, even going to the grocery store.  I love the newness of those first visits.

To add another layer of thrill to this trip, I was meeting up with a friend from my younger days; Brooke and I hadn't seen each other for close to 15 years.  Fifteen years!!! I was beyond thrilled when I found out we'd be able to hook up not one, not two, but all three free evenings I had on my schedule.  So the packing was in earnest Sunday night, and the alarm was set so I'd make it to our small, regional airport for the 7:45 am connecting flight to Detroit, then on to DC.

I'm out the door to the airport (literally, a three minute drive) by 6:30 am; this flight is usually full of old folks and business folks, both leaving town for destinations far and away.  The ticket agent was helping another woman with something, so I proceeded to the self check-in kiosk when the other ticket agent says, "Don't do the self check-in.  The flight's been cancelled for this morning."  Oh, frr rrllll?!  Slightly annoyed, I'm re-routed to leave from Appleton, WI; a taxi arrives a few minutes later to drive me there, $50 travel voucher and $6 meal voucher in hand.  Let it go.  You were able to get a new flight. I text Brooke and let her know of my later-than-expected arrival time.

Flights are smooth, baggage claim is fine, and the hotel is a three minute drive (again, literally) from the airport.  For those of you familiar with the DC area, my hotel was in Crystal City; my conference, on the other hand, was in a new area (planned community, really) called National Harbor.  My morning commute from hotel to conference? Well, I had choices:  1) a $60-70 taxi ride each way; or 2) yellow line from Crystal City to L'Enfant Plaza, transfer to green line to Branch station (end of the green line), transfer to NH1 bus to be within one block of the conference site.  Because my per diem didn't allow for taxi service, I ended up with a 70-90 minute commute each morning & afternoon. Let it go, Rachel; you could have to try and drive in this hellish traffic.  

So my days slogged by at the conference, and my nights were hours and hours of good conversations, good food and drink, and overall good company (and, for the record, I'm good at bar room trivia). Fast forward to this morning.  My flight is scheduled to leave DC at 9:42 am for a connection in Detroit, then on to my regional airport.  Can you even guess what happened?  Yep.  Flight to Detroit is fine; flight from Detroit home is cancelled.  After a flurry of text messages to Daughter #1, I am re-booked on a flight back to Appleton, leaving in...20 minutes! Now, if you've ever been in the Detroit airport, you are familiar with the terminal set up:  terminal A is for flights from larger hubs, while terminals B & C (parallel to terminal A) are for regional flights.  The two sets of terminals are connected by a tunnel whose walls are a glass art installation that changes colors.  There's even music to go along with the show; see photos here and here, and a video here

I hate the light tunnel.

So I run in flip flops from terminal A to terminal C, making my new flight just barely.  I have a minute to check my message where I find out that its NOT Daughter #1 coming to pick me up, but my was-band.  WTF?! As if I didn't already have a headache.  As if that's the face I wanted to see and share my stories with while driving for two-and-a-half hours. As if I didn't already just  want to get the fuck home, already. I felt so mad and frustrated and helpless and discouraged  Cue the iPod, over-sized sunglasses, and tears.  Let it go, Rachel.  It'll be over soon enough.

The drive home is awkward and mostly silent, save for small talk about our daughters and mutual friends, his mother, my parents.  And then I hear this song on the CD playing, and I remind myself once again of my good fortunes, of the people I have in my life who care enough about me to stop in the middle of their day to pick me up at the airport 150 miles away.  Let it go. This too shall pass. Gam zeh ya'avor.  Enjoy the music and fun, and remember that it really is best to stop and reevaluate things before getting all worked up into a kerfuffle. 


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heat Wave

Note:  I've never seen the movie advertised in the image above, I just like the image.
Holy crap has it been hot around here!  And while I don't mind the heat per se, I do mind the accompanying humidity and lack of breezes, and that makes me crabby.  The heat has also had a negative effect on my training/running schedule:  I'm at work for 7:30 am (with a 25 minute drive), and I am NOT a morning person (mornings = Crabby Rachel).  Morning workout? Not gonna happen.  Evening workout? Well, that's when I'll run, but I get home from work around 6 or 6:30 pm, chit chat with Daughter #2, read through the mail, etc. etc. and then before I know it, it's 9 pm.  

And there's absolutely nothing wrong with running at 9 pm! If you've had dinner already (which I usually haven't during the week) and have a relatively short (< 7 miles) run on tap.  And now that I'm ready to pick up my training for my fall marathon (which I still  haven't registered for), well, you can see my dilemma.

I can do one of these things:  
1) Get up at 5 am each morning for a cool, quiet run and save weights for the afternoons at work with the teenagers;
2) Get home from work earlier than 6 pm so I can eat a little something before running/weights;
3) Do my weight training at work before I drive home, then run immediately when I get home.

I do not want to run out by work as there are too many hills and not enough trees.  Its really only for the next two or three weeks, until my summer programming is completed.  And I *think* the heat wave is blessedly on its way out.  Which means upping the training, which means making a plan, which means making a commitment.  

UGH! Throw into this mix a week in Washington, DC for work, followed by a family wedding, and that puts me into September already.  See? Its hard being me.  

Now, those new running shoes aren't going to wear themselves out, are they? Week 7 of the Hanson's Plan?:  bring it on, minus the heat.  And minus the crabs.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Was it the Full Moon, or...?

...something else? My dreams the past few nights have been particularly clear, and for the most part, mundane:  grocery shopping, replaying a scene at work, stuff like that.  But then there was a dream Friday night that was a bit

Yeah, I'm talkin' *bow chicka wah wah* hot.  Lawd have mercy.

Without getting too graphic, I'll just say that there was a bed with white sheets, a glimpse of my boob, and some rustling of those sheets, if you catch my drift.  I can tell its me (it is my dream, after all).  But the guy is obscured from my view (and so is my face, even though- like I said- I know its me) until things are, uh, finished, and we collaspse with my head on his shoulder/chest nook and his arm around me. 

It's Shall-Remain-Nameless. Again!

Shall-Remain-Nameless has been mentioned here and here on this blog before, and has always been involved in the rama-lama-ding-dong portions of my dreams. I'm not complaining, trust me:  I could do so  much worse than Shall-Remain-Nameless.  And he is not even what's bothering me about this dream.  Its this: am I having these dreams because I'm not getting any? Or because of the full moon? Or for some other reason entirely? Or a combination of those factors? This will keep me guessing and analyzing things for awhile, for sure. 

In the meantime, I'm going to work on writing better sex scenes. :o/

Friday, July 15, 2011

Food & Memory

The photo says "Summer" without me adding any additional words.  This afternoon, I began reading a new book, based on food and memory.  I love days like today where I have no real plans, and am able to sit outside in my Zero-Gravity Lounger, and often times read an entire book.  This one I picked up from the library this afternoon, immediately connected with the author (the specifics of why I connect, is a different post altogether), and was reminded of the power of memory.

I usually get up and stretch, take a bathroom break, and maybe get a snack every hour or so.  And just now- yes, I am on a break from reading RIGHT NOW- I looked into the fridge, saw that watermelon and that lime, and was taken back to the early summer of 1990. 

I was living in San Diego, working as a live-in nanny for a family with two young kids, and had met a guy at a concert I had attended by myself.  I was nineteen, and did things like that. I can't remember the name of the stadium, but the Swap Meet was held in the parking lot every weekend, and Tower Records was kitty-corner from it as well.  I think I had seen The Smithereens that night.  I met a very sexy, very charming guy named Enrique (I am not making that up), who had long, glossy black hair, a very cute smile, and an accent.  Being the teenaged bimbo I was, we totally made out and groped each other, then exchanged phone numbers before going our separate ways that night.

Fast forward a month or so, and we are a couple, and we are at his cousin's house in Anaheim one weekend for a family barbeque/pool party.  The beer and rum and vodka and grilled food and sun are all plentiful.  The afternoon lingers on, and- a bit drunk- I am walking barefoot around the pool, and step on a glass shard from a broken beer bottle.  Enrique's brother, Cesar, sits me down and says "Alguien me traiga una lima."  He takes the lime wedge, and squeezes the juice directly on the cut.  "Para detener el sangrado."  The rest of the wedges were used to dress the slices of watermelon on the nearby food table. 

And then, people began taking the watermelon-with-lime-juice slices.  But before they ate them, they sprinkled them with salt.  I had never seen this before, and I guess it showed on my face because Enrique said to me "Try it.  Its the perfect mix of sweet and sour and salty." 

And so I did.  And he was right.

This memory hit me like a ton of bricks, but in a good way.  Its going to make me wistful for the girl I was 20 years ago (if only for a few more hours) as I read my book in the light of the setting Summer sun, in the driveway of my rented dollhouse here in Michigan, where I'm hoping my daily life-and-food combinations become memories anew.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

To Do Lists

Don't you wish your To Do List looked like Patrick Starfish's? I sure do.

I really am a big proponent of To Do Lists, and I certainly feel super-accomplished when I cross items off of the lists I create; I've even kicked my feet up on top of my desk at work when a list has been totally crossed off, crumpled up, and tossed in my Circular File. And I really do create lists for just about everything.  They keep me- someone who often has more on her plate than anyone really has a right to- focused.

I honestly don't know how I (or any other List Maker) functioned without Post-Its, though.

I have my everyday lists (grocery/household items lists), and then I have my Work List (a 3" x 3" neon Post-It in the lower right-hand corner of my desk calendar), and then I have my Special Interest Lists.  And so, to give you Dear Readers, a glimpse into my life, here are some sample lists:

Sample Grocery/Household List:
cream cheese
sour cream
coffee creamer
veggie crumbles
corn tortillas
salad greens
Arnold Palmer Arizona Tea
vacuum sealer bags
fresh fruit

Sample Work List:
database entry
roster review & data input for fall testing
call Milwaukee Zoo re: field trip
call re: 5K tshirts
email M. re: equipment
create maps for activity tents
classroom observations
confirm canoes for field trip on Monday
print out travel info for DC trip
staff meeting agenda

Pretty tame, right?  Well, look at these, then:

Books to Borrow/Read:
Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich
Room by Emma Donoghue
Private Life by Jane Smiley
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
One Day by David Nicholls
This Is Not The Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich
The Gates by John Connolly
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham
The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
War Dances by Sherman Alexie
Designated Fat Girl by Jennifer Joyner
The Curse of the Good Girl by Rachel Simmons
How Lincoln Learned to Read by Daniel Wolff
One Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman
The Compass of Pleasure by David J. Linden
Rescue by Anita Shreve
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

Music to Download:
"Shadow People"- Dr. Dog
"I Didn't See It Coming"- Belle & Sebastian
"New Low"- Middle Class Rut
"See The World"- Gomez
"Beg, Steal or Borrow"- Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs
"Kentucky Pill"- Johnny Flynn
"Save Yourself"- Sharon Van Etten
"You'll Be Bright"- Cloud Cult
"Spanish Pipedream"- The Avett Brothers (Yes, I know its a John Prine song.  I love John Prine, and have had the pleasure of seeing him live, even.  Soooo worth it. But I like this version.)
"Louder Than Ever" by Cold War Kids
"Cameras" by Matt and Kim
"The High Road"- Broken Bells
"Unsingable Name"- Mike Doughty
"Yelling Away"- Zap Mama
"Release the Stars"- Rufus Wainwright
"Big Time Sensuality"- Bjork
"Missed the Boat"- Modest Mouse

And then this:

Sample Life Goal List (and when I say "sample," I mean "this is my real list"):
Complete M. Ed. coursework, maintain 4.0 GPA (so far, so good).
Run a sub-4 hour marathon (only 19 minutes to get rid of).
Buy a house (on hold for at year?...).
Take at least one fabulous vacation each year (this year, that consists of three weeks off in August doing nothing, plus a long weekend in Arizona this November for this, as a spectator).
Go all over Europe, especially Spain and Italy, but not necessarily the U.K. or Germany.
Never live with animals ever again.
Always remain fit and healthy so that I can continue to enjoy this life as laid out above.
Practice generosity and outward happiness.  Every. Day.

You can tell lots of things about the things people keep track of, the lists they keep.  I know what I think these lists say about me, but what do they say to you about me? I'd love to see the lists you keep, too.  Feel free to share, friends.

Friday, July 1, 2011

SOS: What No Woman Wants to Hear

That's right:  its time to get serious about training again.  I've got some races picked out, and am ready to really focus on my performances.  I bought this book hoping that the author would tell me something like..."You're perfect the way you are! You just need to be doing 50-60 miles per week, that's all."  Instead, what I got was "Lose 10 pounds."

Oh, frr rrlllll?!

So frustrating.  I mean, I know that. But who really wants to hear it? And I've been trying to lose those proverbial "last ten pounds" since they found me.  My diet, by the way, is stellar, with the exception of a very robust sugar addiction.  Which, according to the author, I should try to feed with fruits and dark chocolate. *GAAAAAGGGGG*  to the dark chocolate (for  a primer on my strange food preferences, please go here and here ). 

So, now that my summer programming is under way at work, my grad class is over for the term, and I have a bit of a regular routine I can follow, I'll need to start incorporating certain things into my life if I want to be in "peak performance" for my upcoming races.  Like, breakfast everyday (duh). And more carbs (so, my preference for PB & J sandwiches can be indulged).  And more lean protein (note to self:  make friends with local fishermen).  And less sugar (DOH!). 

I guess I should also start running regularly again if I want to creep closer to that 4-hour marathon finish I want so badly.  And start doing some weight training again.  And start getting 8-9 hours of sleep each night.  And probably should start figuring out a way to save the starving children of the world, cure cancer, and end partisan politics.  What am I, Wonder Woman?  There's no way that last item is achievable.

I always have such good intentions when starting a training program, and am usually pretty good at holding myself to my commitments, exercise-wise.  But like I mentioned in my last post , I've been struggling.  There's no impetus.  Yes, I have races in mind, but have I registered for them yet? Nope.  Part of my resistance might be my propensity toward always looking forward to the next thing, and not focusing on the day-to-day, the here-and-now.  If I could afford it, I'd hire a personal trainer and a nutritionist.  And a personal chef.  And, of course, I'd be so fabulously wealthy that I wouldn't have to go to work each day, so my workouts could be my job.

Fantasy Me:  Brock, what does our workout entail today?
Brock, Fantasy Trainer: Fuel first, ma'am! Your chef has a great breakfast here for you. And your assistant should schedule you a post-workout massage. We're going to do some mile reapeats with plyo drills in between.
Fantasy Me: *sigh* I just don't know when I'll have time for that massage, what with that interview with the Nobel Prize committee and all.
Just Jack, Fantasy Personal Assistant:  And there's the fitting for your gown for the Met Gala, plus lunch with Anna Wintour, that crazy bitch!
Fantasy Me:  Oh, now, she's just so misunderstood, Jack, you know that.
Just Jack: *eye roll* 
Brock: I know its hard being you, ma'am, but we need to focus now.
See? Fantasy life is so much easier to navigate than real life.

But back to the exercising: the title of this post is the truth.  No woman wants to hear she needs to lose weight, even if at first glance she doesn't seem overweight (and yes, I know that I am more slender than many Americans).  So I am asking for tips and advice from my fellow runners: 
What has worked for you when you've wanted to lose weight?
Can it be as simple as "Eat and exercise more"? Because yes, I've had people suggest that I'm not taking in enough calories for the amount of exercise I'm doing.  I've even started making recovery drinks with chia, and added it to my oatmeal or yogurt.  And honestly, I'm not looking forward to the midfulness that eating properly requires.  But if you want to lose the weight and run faster, Rachel...

SOS, friends...