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Jan
12
2015
Remedial Dressing

I finally learned how to tie my shoes this week. With a breakthrough like that in January, there’s no telling what I can do in 2015! I want to strike while the life-long learning iron is hot, and tackle another area of delayed development. I need to learn how to dress myself.

Of course I know how to apply articles of clothing to myself so I don’t leave my house naked. What I don’t know how to do is recognize items that will fit, look good, and still be comfortable (as opposed to just being comfortable, which I easily and often achieve through butterfleece and other elasticized pant options).

Since I hate shopping, a friend of mine recommended an online personal styling company, Stitch Fix. My lovely mother got me a gift card for Christmas so I signed up and filled out their style profile. They smartly have a very low character limit on their “final comments” section. I could have written a book, but there was only room for this: “I have no idea how to dress myself. I like being comfortable, I would wear sweatpants all the time if I could. I can dress pretty casually for work. What I’d like most is to look more put together when seeing friends-but still comfortable.”

I was hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. But either way, it’s a win/win. I don’t have to buy anything I don’t like. Even if I never like anything, I won’t be any worse off than I am now and I will feel oddly gratified by stumping them with my special arrangement of figure flaws (“see, professional stylists can’t find anything that looks good on me either!”)

My first box arrived today and I’m going to share full body photos of myself now. Viewer discretion is advised.

First of all, let’s keep it real (can we keep it real?) with evidence of what I’m usually wearing at home. Add wool socks and waterproof New Balance sneakers and I’m ready to leave the house!

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Butterfleece cargo pants, y’all!

For a little flavor of my non-fleece wardrobe…here is what I wore on New Year’s Eve (and the previous New Year’s Eve because my wardrobe is really that lame). Just imagine the jewelry I was too lazy to put on for this re-enactment and the shirt in black because laundry.

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On to the Stitch Fix items! First two items up for bid: Collective Concepts Cynthia Graphic Print Mixed Material Tank and Liverpool Tallulah Faux Leather Detail Pants.

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Let’s call these pants what they are. They are leggings. I never thought I’d be caught dead in leggings, but they fit pretty well and look kind of nice. I don’t think I’d have the balls to actually wear these though and none of the tops I tried on with these did it for me. Leading me to the tank…while the color and pattern is a good match for my taste, I don’t like the cut. I’m not big on sleeveless (particularly not in winter) and there’s a billowy quality to this which makes it look like I’m trying to hide a pregnancy. And heaven knows, I don’t want anyone to think I look pregnant. 

Stitch Fix didn’t suggest (nor would I!) wearing this together, but this is the best picture I got involving item 3, the Stellan Draped Cardigan.

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I didn’t care for the cardigan. I’m relatively long waisted with shorter legs, so I feel like this length engulfs me. Also, my Mom made it known that she hates the stripes. With a passion. Seriously.

Because my self-esteem had to this point in the photo shoot remained in tact, I thought I’d include this picture of the same ensemble at a different, horrifying angle.

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In Soviet Union, giant striped sweater wears YOU!

Item number 4 was the Andrew Marc Ren Mesh Shoulder Dress. This dress was super comfy and even though it was sleeveless, I wanted it to work. I tried it on with the cardigan, but not so much. I also tried it on with a jacket I already own, but the length of it was wrong for the dress. Truth be told, I would never wear this. Too cold without sleeves in winter and fabric too heavy for summer (in D.C., there are two seasons: chilly and sticky).

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Item number 5 was a malfunction on my part. I’m not a bag person and somehow I neglected to mark bags as an accessory they should avoid sending me. When I first saw the grey (they say it’s blue but it looks grey to me) leather poking out of the tissue paper, I got all excited that they’d sent me a bad ass grey leather jacket. Then I unfolded it and saw it was a massive tote bag.

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The good:

  • I was pleasantly surprised that all of this stuff fit me. None of it was too small/tight. None of it was too big. When I go shopping I end up exhausting myself trying on multiple sizes of each item without success.
  • I found most of the stuff visually appealing in theory (i.e. “on the hanger”).
  • All of the stuff in the bad list below seems like it could be easily fixed over time with my feedback.

The bad:

  • I had asked to focus most on casual clothes and clothes for going out with friends. The stylist indicated that she tried to keep things casual and that the little black dress was for going out with friends and date nights. We have different definitions of casual!
  • Sleeveless.
  • Need clothes, not handbags (again, this was my mistake).

The decision:

  • I didn’t love any of the items. While I’m infatuated with the leggings, I don’t have anything obvious in my closet to pair them with and the last thing I need is another article of clothing hanging in my closet that I’ll never wear.
  • Definitely sending back the bag, dress, cardigan, and tank.
  • Waffling about the leggings. I have three business days to decide.

Oct
10
2013
But Who’s Counting?

When an employee and freedom love each other very much, sometimes they show that love by creating…

…a retirement countdown clock. Look over to the right and feast your eyes on the most beautiful sidebar widget ever created. This represents my hard-fought struggle to save enough to retire in a few years. The clock runs out at the 20-year mark at my job. That seems like plenty to me.

I recently realized I’d reached the halfway point to my particular combination of minimum years of service and minimum retirement age. While 17 years make an impressive dent in the required 34 years of service, I still have 17 years until “legit” retirement. Can I picture myself putting in another 17 years?

No, I can’t.

Will I actually quit, I mean retire, when the clock hits zero? I don’t know. Freedom is a goal, but earning money is nice too. And it’s probably healthy to have a reason to wear something other than my Butter Fleece cargo pants. But my attitude has improved greatly since setting the timer and knowing that it is, in theory, possible to quit/retire in a few years. Watching the time tick down warms my cold, black heart.

Jan
31
2013
2012: Year in Review

The 2013 calendar on my wall suggests another year is over. I marked the end of 2010 and 2011 by answering the following set of questions. The questions annoyed me this year. I hope that means the dying embers of my “I have to track everything” fire cannot be stoked back to flame. I’m cultivating a new mellow vibe. Next year I will sum up 2013 by how I feel at the end of the year, not by how many boxes I can tick off a list. I don’t plan on doing this quiz again, so let’s send it out with a bang (or a whimper).

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Enrolled in some adult education, started making ice cream, created an ice cream blog, published a memoir piece, gave up trying to de-link my name and this blog (note to co-workers: while I mutter profanity under my breath at the office, I write it out loud here), “won” a craft contest, and had a tarot card reading.

The tarot reader was kind, but these cards basically said, “get off your ass and make a decision already.”

 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes and no, and not really. The monster in my head set 30 goals for 2012. You can see them here. I have a different mind-set about goals right now (stay tuned). I have no desire to paste my 2012 goals here and painstakingly document which I met and which I did not. Does it matter that I didn’t run a 5K in under 30 minutes when I trained really hard, completed two races, and ran faster at the end of training than at the beginning? Does it matter that I went to bed an average of 20 minutes earlier in 2012 than 2011 or that I got 33 minutes extra sleep per night on average when I’m still tired a lot? Isn’t it disturbing that I can tell you those figures?

Looking at last year’s goals cracks me up now. How did I get to a point in life where I could suggest “scheduling weekly unstructured time” without irony? How did I type “go cold turkey on perfectionism” as one of 30 goals with a straight face?

One of my goals was to “locate my inner voice.” Wait…shh! What’s that? I think I hear something…

“ENOUGH WITH THE GOALS…TAKE A FUCKING NAP ALREADY.”

I like my inner voice.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I’ve been meeting quite a few childfree people lately. And I’m getting old. So I’d be really shocked if anyone close to me got pregnant/gave birth.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I spent several horrible days believing one of my in-laws was not going to make it, but thankfully (and possibly miraculously?), he did not die.

5. What countries did you visit?
If the U.S. doesn’t count, then 0.0.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Enough money to retire. Not kidding.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I could talk smack about the ice cream class or some other happy event, but the only day from 2012 that “will remain etched in my memory” (which I interpret to mean “never going to forget the date of the event”) is November 6. That was the day my Mom told me she had cancer.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I guess I’d say making new friends. I had really started to worry I wasn’t capable of doing that.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Negativity? Not being a good-enough listener?? Not getting enough sleep??? Tracking my failures so vigorously???? Fuck this question.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Ice cream machine!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Seriously? Mortgage. It will always be mortgage (or rent), won’t it?

13. What did you get really excited about?
Ice cream!

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
A whopping 9.5 percent of my music collection came out in the last ten years. Here is the only new music I bought all year even though I’ll almost certainly not associate it with 2012 long-term.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
Both. The more I know, the harder it is. The closer I get, the farther away it seems. You know?

b) thinner or fatter?
Fatter.

c) richer or poorer?
Richer, bitches (it’s all about retirement, baby).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
What I wanted to do.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
What I didn’t want to do.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
In Erie with my family. Spent the first few days of my vacation frantically trying to finish my first cross stitch ever. I won a Subversive Cross Stitch in the Craft Whores contest and selected the bad boy below for my brother, only to be surprised (and horrified) that it was a kit I had to make myself. This was one of my brother’s favorite phrases in our misguided youth. By the time I got this in the frame, it also turned out to crystallize my thoughts about cross stitching eloquently.

peace on earth

peace on earth

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I’m addicted to watching House Hunters International while saying “fuck you” with jealous venom. You guys need a vacation home in Belize? Of course you do. Fuck you. Accountants can easily find work on Grand Cayman? Fuck you. You’re really going to complain about the lack of double sinks in a vacation home? Fuck you. Special shout out to the guy with a 2 million dollar budget who expressed disappointment that there were no windows in the closet: OMFG, FUCK YOU!

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
If I wanted to read, I’d go to school.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Holy repetitive quiz, Batman. See #14.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Jesus, I don’t get out much, do I? We streamed Moonrise Kingdom for our 2nd annual pajama night and were not amused (we have a 0% success rate for avoiding movies in which a dog bites the big one on our “happy family PJ movie night”).

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I guess I’m too old to remember what I did on my birthday. I know I ate cake, but that’s only because I have a blog. I turned 39, and I don’t plan on aging further.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Errr! How does this question differ from #6? 

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Not naked

26. What kept you sane?
Fear of anti-depressant side effects.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
A lot of the stuff I thought was important (or at least devoted a lot of time to) is really, really not. Like tracking every last detail of my life…ahem…like end of the year surveys such as these.

Jul
20
2012
Destroy My Sweater

I once believed I’d look smaller if I wore clothes that were too big. In high school, the Gap sold a cardigan sweater that ran ridiculously large. Boom! I could have the satisfaction of buying a medium and still have it be two sizes too big. I got the foamy green color and my friend Sarah got the dusty rose, or maybe it was coral. Why does it irritate me that I can’t remember the color of Sarah’s sweater? All I know is the sweater looked cute on her. On me…not so much.

I got rid of it, right?

No. Being the pack rat I am, I still had the foamy green over-sized Gap cardigan sweater five years later when I started my job. I soon learned I needed to leave a sweater at work permanently to protect me from the arctic air conditioning in the summer. The hoarder in me was thrilled to finally have a use for the otherwise unworn foamy green over-sized Gap cardigan sweater. See, it is good to hang onto things (let’s reinforce my hoarding!). Over the years the foamy green over-sized Gap cardigan sweater slowly started to disintegrate, starting at the cuffs.

I threw it out, right?

No. I rolled up the sleeves to hide the fraying edges and the growing holes. The sweater was too big, remember? I could roll the cuffs a few times and still get full arm coverage.

I have next to no fashion sense. But even I couldn’t keep wearing that sweater. My colleagues were going to think I was homeless.

I threw it out, right?

No. Even though I wouldn’t wear it, it could still come in handy. Like that time last winter when a cold rain pummeled me sideways in the wind tunnel that is the walk from the subway to my office. After removing my soaked wool pants, I sat on my chair with the foamy green (mercifully) over-sized Gap cardigan sweater draped over my lap until my pants dried. And I believe I updated my Facebook status to say I wasn’t wearing pants. Praise all that is holy my office has a door.

During my office cleaning in May, I faced a critical decision.

Maybe it looks better on…like, on fire.

I decided it was time for the foamy green over-sized Gap cardigan sweater to go. But not before documenting it’s foamy green over-sizedness. You can see why I had to keep this sweater for 21 years, no? The fabric to cost ratio alone made it worthwhile. I love how it hangs all heavy and ill-fitting. The extra fabric bunching under my elbow is particularly fetching.

Thank God no one came into the bathroom during this photo shoot.

Dave likes this close up shot of the holes.

It might be time to admit I have a problem.

I threw it out, right?

R.I.P. foamy green over-sized Gap cardigan sweater

I couldn’t get this song out of my head while writing this post, so here you go.

Jun
25
2012
This Post is About Something

The point of this post is that I need to have a point to my posts.

I didn’t type that as an introduction, I typed that to try to stay on point.

Perhaps the problem is just A.D.D., but it’s not (usually) like I want to say random shit such as “I like eggs” in the middle of a post about something else. Although it is A.D.D. that made me stop writing to go search for a way to share how I meant “I like eggs” to sound (it’s at the 2:26 mark)

No, most of my veering is at least tangentially related to the original topic. I always thought I was a very analytic person, but apparently in my writing I’m a synthetic (wait, what?) person. I have a compulsion to cover topics from every angle. I spend hours drafting lengthy posts once a week or less when I could write two or even three shorter posts that people might actually read. Seriously, it usually takes me at least three hours to write a post and that is just counting ass in the desk chair time, not all the time I spend thinking or jotting little notes down here and there.

This is bad. It’s bad because it makes something I enjoy doing into a struggle. It’s bad because blogging “experts” say one of the keys to writing a good blog post is to keep it to a single point.

Since I need help deciding when I’ve entered the realm of “this should really be a separate post,” I’ve been disappointed with the specific guidance provided by blogging “experts,” which is not helpful.

They conflate topics with points. Like don’t write a post about your maple bacon cupcake recipe along with a review of the new Katy Perry movie (which Dave said he’d go see if it were in 3-D, by the way). No shit, those are two different topics? Although I could see Katy Perry wearing a bra with cups made of maple bacon cupcakes…maybe this could be one post.

Jesus, I just found out the Katy Perry cupcake bra is actually a thing. I knew she wore weird crap on her buzooms but I’m 38 years old, I haven’t seen an actual Katy Perry video. I thought I just invented the cupcake bra. Oh well.

I swear to all that is holy I didn’t know about this before writing the line about Katy Perry wearing a maple bacon cupcake bra.

Anyway, the Katy Perry maple bacon cupcake bra post is not my problem. My problem is isolating a single point within a topic area. I have no trouble selecting a single topic to write about, but my brain then wants to synthesize every possible point I could make about it. I am thorough, y’all.

Here’s a recent example:

I wanted to write a post about my backlog of post ideas. The idea was to solicit feedback from you to help me prioritize the list and see who was still with me (I hate the unintended but real consequence of losing subscribers with the move to self-hosting.).

This led to writing about wanting to figure out how to write posts that will resonate with people. This led to writing about the mystery of finding kindred spirits out there in the internet ether, when you are as weird as I am.

I wrote 1,300 words before realizing I hadn’t really made my original point and now had at least three posts going in one. I still haven’t finished writing any of them because I’ve exhausted myself.

Blogging isn’t going to last much longer as one of my hobbies unless I become more efficient. Solution #1: having a point!

I’ve decided to start every writing session by typing “the point of this post is….(insert point here).” If I don’t know what the point is, I will stop and figure it out. I will touch base with this topic sentence periodically to make sure I’m not writing a new post. Lather, rinse, repeat until I have a shiny new post without giving myself a migraine.

So how did I do on this post? I’m 1 hour and 40 minutes in and I’m about done. Even on a post focused on having a point, I still also wrote several nebulous strands that should be separate blog posts. I don’t think I can make my brain stop doing that, but I did manage to pretty quickly identify them as not on point and successfully table them. But I do seem to have given myself a migraine.

Do you have trouble staying on point? Do you have any tips for staying on point? How do you feel about eggs?

 read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Jun
14
2012
Like It’s 1999

You can accumulate a lot of crap when you work at the same job for over 15 years. I’ve brought a lot of personal stuff into the office. I figured if I was going to spend so much time there, I could at least make it more comfortable. But perhaps all the stuff made me become too comfortable, entrenched even. So I had to laugh when I read Margaret’s post about starting her new job.

She is the anti-me regarding personal stuff at work: “I don’t like to bring anything to work that I can’t fit in my handbag and carry out with me on a moment’s notice.” She concluded she’d like to “leave a little more of myself at work.” But I realized I needed to do the opposite…begin to extract myself. This is one of the reasons I cleaned my office recently. I was so ruthless in my commitment to cleaning, I kept waiting for my coworkers to ask me if I was leaving. I even had a snappy comeback ready: “Is it that obvious?”

I may not be leaving imminently, but I’m creating an environment in which leaving would be a hell of a lot easier.

Here is an assortment of the crap I found in one of my desk drawers, some of it lovingly scanned for your amusement (actually I hoped having scans would make me willing to throw this stuff out). While some accumulation of crap is forgivable in my situation, my physical office has changed locations three times. So all this stuff made it through at least one cull. Some of it I bothered to pack and move three times.

This drawer contained:

Menus for closed restaurants, obsolete carbon paper forms, a handwritten list of blogs I read circa 2007, and a Day Runner I haven’t used since 2001. Of the 37 contacts written into the address section, I have spoken to only six in the last year. I have no idea who one of them is, even after Googling.

The drawer also contained miscellaneous decorations, none of which have been displayed since at least 2006. These include:

1.) The dream catcher Dave’s parents brought back for me from Alaska. It’s been in the drawer since my last office move and the disintegrating leather left dust all over the drawer. Yet I still had trouble throwing it out because Dave’s Mom had given it to me and she’s gone now.

2.) At least three dozen postcards from my travels, many from my 1994 study abroad semester. Anytime I saw a painting I’d learned about in Art History, I bought the postcard. Why wouldn’t you want to look at this during your work day?

Or how about a picture of the Danish Queen, circa 1992. I need to hang on to that, right?

Tracy is very jealous of these emeralds.

3.) Precious child artwork. I can’t say exactly when these masterpieces were created, but since my older nephews are now 20 and 17, I’m guessing it was at least five years ago. Ha.

The black hole in the tree symbolizes man’s search for meaning.

I like the bold use of empty space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Print out of a 2000 article from the Onion that mentions my favorite element. The yellow highlighting of the relevant line (“Rumors of a longtime feud with molybdenum…”) is now too faded to see…perhaps because this piece of paper is 12 frigging years old.

5.) A yellowed clipping about my favorite tennis player’s 2001 Wimbledon win, which made me cry big fat tears of joy (in 2001, not when I cleaned my office).

6.) Several cards from my Mom, back when she still loved me and sent me cards for no reason (in other words, ten years ago).

Boomerang Bear is sad because Tracy’s Mom doesn’t send random cards anymore.

7.) I have no idea where or when I got this, but I love Paddington Bear and should totally keep this in case my boss gives me a coloring assignment.

8.) Original works of art by yours truly. Meet Knookie the Computer Chip, a comic I made up in 1985. Apparently I got swept away by nostalgia for the 20th anniversary of Knookie’s creation (and/or was really bored on work travel). I have no artistic talent whatsoever…enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.) And finally, the best thing I found while cleaning out my office, this page from the 2001 Onion calendar (Moses, Moses, Moses). I’m probably not going to throw this out.

How much personal crap do you have at work? Are you entrenched or could you make a quick get-away if necessary?

May
26
2012
Fixing a Hole

For someone who spends as much time in my own head just thinking as I do, I don’t reach very many conclusions. For someone who has as many lists and plans and goals as I do, I don’t get very much done.

Why is this?

I have trouble focusing. I’m overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounds me. I don’t even mean just physical clutter. For example, at any given moment I have 3-5 different internet browser windows, each with 5-20 tabs, open at once. My online to do list has hundreds of tasks sitting in it. There are probably 20 tasks listed for today (I’m not bothering to look), if for no other reason than the program automatically moves tasks not completed from one day to the next. How helpful.

Twelve weeks ago, the clutter situation in my office at work reached a peak. I could barely function around all of the books, and piles of papers, and proliferation of post-it notes. I wrote a post wondering out loud how a perfectionist like me could have an office that looked like that.

Then I read the Pish Posh call to action. She proposed a 12-week “Get Fit Challenge.” The challenge wasn’t just about losing weight. And thank goodness for that, because although I did post a race report to the challenge, I haven’t lost an ounce during the last 12 weeks.

I wasn’t the most devoted Get Fitter, and I didn’t really even articulate explicit goals. But guess what? My work office is clean, my work email inbox is still under control (down from 1,600 emails to zero) and I’m looking forward to chucking the clutter from the rest of my life.

BEFORE

The deepest reaches of Hell (A.K.A. my office)

AFTER

I’d forgotten what my simulated wood-grain desk looked like.

So what have I learned?

I hold on to too much: clothes in my closet I never wear, books I will never read again, emails I don’t need to keep, songs I always skip on my iPod, tasks I can’t prioritize, things I’ve stumbled across on the internet that I don’t want to forget, blogs I don’t have time to read, and 800 scraps of paper with thoughts I don’t want to, but maybe should allow myself to, forget.

All this crap distracts me from what’s really important. It’s allowed me to stay stagnant. It’s long past time to let this crap go or I will never be able to figure out what I really want to do.

I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time. With pride, I can say that I did NOT check any of my email accounts or Facebook before writing this post this morning. I got up, set a timer for 15 minutes and just wrote. I’m going to edit for 10 minutes, add my pictures and publish this thing. It may not be a perfect post, but I focused on writing it and only on writing it and did not allow myself to get distracted by anything else. Go me.

Do you have trouble staying focused? Or clearing out clutter (physical, digital, mental)? Want to support each other and check in sometimes? Let me know, I need all the help I can get.

PishPosh

Apr
4
2012
I Won The Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Race

Uh, no. But since I completed the race on April Fools’ Day and got a medal…

This was my third Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in a row. Last year, I suggested it might be better to quit while ahead since I beat my previous time by more than five minutes and race day was during peak bloom.

But I vacillate on decisions, so I entered the lottery for the race again this year. It’s a very popular race (“the runner’s rite of spring” don’t you know), and I figured the chances of my getting in three years in a row were….uh, apparently guaranteed.

The first time I ran this race, in 2010, my goal was simply to enjoy coming back from injury, finish, and set myself up for a summer half marathon. Done, done, and done. Last year, I just wanted to beat my time from 2010. Done to the tune of 5:35.

This year…huh. I didn’t really have a goal in mind. I honestly didn’t think I’d get in again. I’ve proven to myself I can run this distance and I’ve proven that I can improve a ridiculously slow time to a marginally less ridiculously slow time.

My training this year was pretty half-assed. There were many weeks I only ran twice. And I could feel myself running much s-l-o-w-e-r. Maybe it was because I was completely on my own this time (I joined a winter running group the past two years), maybe my other hobbies just took up too much time and energy, maybe my eight or so extra pounds were slowing me down, or maybe I just wasn’t feeling it this year.

There was no doubt in my mind I’d finish, but I knew I had no chance of beating last year’s time. So how did it go?

1.) I astonished myself by getting to bed at a reasonable 11pm. But I didn’t fall asleep right away and kept waking up. It must have been nerves, but how silly is that–it’s not like I had any chance of winning!

2.) Given the malaise I’d felt about training, Little Miss Rule-Follower  (me) brought her iPod to a race for the first time ever. It’s not “allowed,” but in a race of 15,000 people, who was going to notice my headphones?

3.) Starting with the proper wave is helpful! I started with the last wave before and found dodging people (who are these people who manage to be slower than me? I am slow!) maddening and a little dangerous. But this year, I started right in the middle of the appropriate wave. I actually had a nice little cushion of space around me most of the time. I like my personal space.

4.) I planned on starting my iPod after the crowd at the start spread out but when I saw a woman sitting on the side of the course holding a compress over her left eye with blood all over her and the concrete, I decided to hold off on my music a little longer. I listened to the Wedding Present for the last 6 miles. I’ve been obsessed since seeing their Seamonsters show a couple of weeks ago.

5.) Remember my nemesis…the juggler? If not, here’s a hint: he runs the race while juggling. And he is faster than me. It’s annoying. I caught a glimpse of him (running next to Santa!). I’m directionally challenged and the course winds around itself so much I couldn’t tell if he was ahead of me or behind me. I’m sure he beat me again.

6.) The many volunteers who line the course offering encouragement are fabulous. Except for the guy who decided to say, “just keep thinking about breakfast!” Thanks for reminding me of the waffles Dave’s making me after the race, jackass. I only have seven miles left to crave them.

7.) The spectator sign that stood out most said, “You train longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage.” I struggled with the meaning behind this…was she saying I had trained for a long time or not?

8.) For about two miles, someone (thing?) made really bizarre breathing noises behind me. It sounded like being chased by Darth Vader. I could hear it over my iPod. I was too chicken to turn around. If it had actually been Darth Vader, he would have scared the crap out of me. If not, I didn’t want to see the human capable of making that noise. As you might remember, noises annoy me.

9.) While the traditional Yoshino cherry blossoms (the ones that provide a cloud-like halo around the Tidal Basin) were gone due to our freakishly warm winter, the East Potomac Park section of the course had a number of Kwanzan cherries in full bloom. They have gorgeous clusters of pink double blossoms.

10.) Of course, the key question is: did Dave actually get a picture of me on the course this year? Well, I should say a picture in which I am in focus. You betcha! I am Ninja Runner!

11.) What’s that you say? My time? Well, you get what you train for. Not only did I not beat last year’s time, but I also ran 28 seconds slower than two years ago. Oops.

Next stop: the 5-K training plan from the FIRST Training Programs. I just finished their book, Run Less, Run Faster and am excited to try it, although it won’t be running less for me. I already limit my running to three days a week and their proposed weekly mileages are considerably more than I do now, even for 5-K training. We’ll see.

Mar
29
2012
I Have An Excuse This Week

Shhh! Do not disturb. I’m tapering. The “taper” is the period before a race (in my case, a ten-miler this Sunday), during which a runner reduces mileage and rests in preparation for the big day.

Tapering is the only part of my training that comes naturally to me, probably because it’s my normal state of being. Resting is one of my favorite activities, but I usually feel guilty about it. But this week, I’m not being lazy. Oh no. I am tapering.

When Dave saw me lying on the chaise after my last pre-race long run, watching TV while half asleep, he said, “Oh, you’re tapering now, eh?”

All week, baby.

Runners World would likely not approve of my tapering procedures, which consist of expending as little energy, physical or mental, as possible.

You guys, I am tapering so hard, I’m skirting the edge of coma.

Have you ever noticed how heavy your eyelids are? I have. Holding them up is about all the energy expenditure I can handle right now. Since I’m expected to keep my eyes open at work, I’ve made sure to hit snooze many extra times each morning. Sure, I’ve been late every day, but it’s only because I’m doing my necessary tapering.

The taper got off to a rough start due to the dance group who has decided that the parking lot for the park near my house is a good practice site. They practice for HOURS, loudly (with whistles!), every Sunday. The noise has been slowly eroding my will to live, but this week the walk to the phone to call the police also broke my taper, damn it.

Unfortunately, work also interrupts my taper. Since I have to be lucid during meetings, I make sure I recover from the mental exertion by staring blankly at my computer screen or out the window to rest my mind and body until my next meeting or I need to use the bathroom, whichever comes first.

I’ve let some writing ideas slosh around aimlessly in my head, but can’t expend the energy to translate my thoughts into a coherent post. I’ve only been publishing a post per week recently, but this week it’s intentional, because, I think you know where I’m going with this by now…I’m tapering.

Interrupting the flow of grinding, circular thoughts and staring out the window, an overdue notice for my credit card arrived this week. Huh. I guess they didn’t get the memo about my taper. 

My pre-race taper couldn’t have come at a better time. I am exhausted and overwhelmed. I have added a lot to my life without giving anything up. I’m reaching new lows in low energy.

In the evenings after work, I have had to do some extra tapering to catch up on the tapering I missed while commuting and working. This involves falling asleep while upright and walking home after work (a bizarre new experience, really), eating dinner in front of the TV, and then mindlessly watching “30 Going on 13″ while eating ice cream, all while Dave does everything else.

Tuesday night, I sacrificed my taper to get up and hug him as he got ready to walk Chuck before bed and he said with about as much frustration as he’s capable of mustering, “It’s hard to work all evening while you get to sit on the couch and watch a movie.”

No, no, no. Dave, I’m tapering.

At least that’s my excuse for this week. Sorry, sweetie. And Tom Ridge didn’t believe me when I told him I was lazy!
someecards.com - When I die, I hope I'll be doing nothing, so people could say that at least I died doing what I love.

Mar
26
2012
Basic Needs of a Husband

I will spare you my rationalizations about why I watch the Duggars’ reality show,  “19 Kids and Counting,” and simply say: I am repulsed yet strangely fascinated. Also, I have always enjoyed learning about foreign cultures.

I didn’t think their beliefs could shock me anymore, but the season premiere proved me wrong. The camera scanned ever so briefly across one of Michelle’s public speaking handouts and the title, “Seven Basic Needs of a Husband,” jumped off the page. 

I paused the DVR so I could study up on my husband’s needs.  And so I could take a picture of the screen. Here you go.

Squirming with discomfort, I read about the ways in which I am destroying my husband’s (apparently ridiculously weak) manliness.

For example: wives, did you know that we destroy our husbands’ manliness when we “resist his decisions in our spirit.” That’s interesting, because I don’t stop with resisting in spirit. I say that shit out loud.

Most entertaining were the handout’s practical tips. For example, instead of “resisting his decisions,” you should “learn to wisely appeal to your husband.” Even fundamentalists understand the need to be realistic about who really makes the decisions. Fear not, wives! We need not accept our husband’s decisions, we just need to learn how to be more subtle in our resistance.

These “needs” were so over-the-top ridiculous it was hard to be as pissed as maybe I should have been. When I noticed the “love is killed by self-sufficiency” line, I dissolved into giggles.

But wait a minute…

If you’ve been reading here awhile, you may be aware of my early retirement fantasy

Why is it just a fantasy? A.) our mortgage, 2.) I imagine replacing the time currently spent working and commuting with things I want to do, not what I’d actually be doing (learning to cook, cleaning the house, doing Dave’s laundry, etc…), and c.) as grumpy and depleted as work makes me, my self-worth is largely tied up in how well I perform there and in my ability to earn a living. It would make me (not to mention Dave) uncomfortable to expect Dave to earn all our income.

But the Duggars (actually the “Institute in Basic Life Principles”) were telling me that God wants me to be financially dependent on Dave. My self-sufficiency is killing our love. That doesn’t sound good.

Could Dave really need me to quit my job? Could this really be so simple and easy? I thought I’d consult an actual husband about the accuracy of these needs.

“Dave, I need to show you something. Can you come in here for a minute?”

I played the scene in slow motion so he could peruse his basic needs.

“So, what do you think? Do you need me to quit my job? Because I’m willing to make that sacrifice to support your manliness,” I looked at him hopefully.

Unfortunately, Dave fixated on a different basic need.

“No, but I agree you shouldn’t resist my physical affection.”

“Crap, I hadn’t even noticed that one. I brought you in here to discuss how my self-sufficiency is killing our love.”

“But God wants you to stop crushing my spirit.”

“I don’t think God understands how often you want to have sex. Look, if we worked on meeting your need to have a financially dependent wife first, I’d have so much more time to, uh, stroke your manliness in other ways as well.”

I think he’s starting to warm up to my early retirement. I think it will be more difficult to convince myself.

I joked that God didn’t understand how often men want to have sex, but apparently he does. The only practical tip the handout provides for wives to help them meet this need is: “learn the power of prayer.” Yep, that sounds about right.

——

If you wonder how I know the “Institute in Basic Life Principles” published this document, that’s because my perfectionism commitment to my blogging craft made me research the source. I may also have ordered my own copy. Hey, there are six more needs the show didn’t even cover, and I’m nothing if not thorough.