Yes, I DID!!!

October 21, 2008

I – AM – IRON – MAN… Duhn-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh -nuh-nuh-nuh!

Well. Perhaps not IRON (wo)man. However, I took a step in that direction yesterday, when my alarm went off at 4:30 AM and I arose, drove to downtown Detroit, and walked my first ever Half Marathon!

Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Back in August, and inspired by someone who has lost over 120 lbs. with a combination of a moderately healthy diet and a pedometer, I became a pedometer-wearer myself. (I should note for the record that wearing a pedometer in and of itself won’t help you lose one pound. They aren’t magical. They simply make you aware of what a three-toed sloth you actually are most of the time.  For example, the first week I wore it, as I was getting my “baseline” readings, I was SHOCKED to discover how few steps I took on a weekend day where I thought I had been fairly active – I was running up and down stairs doing laundry and cleaning house. I would have guessed a lot more steps than I actually logged that day. Reality check!)

With a goal in mind of getting a minimum of 10,000 steps a day (google that – that is considered a healthy baseline) and potentially 12-15K (as a weight loss tool), I began a walking program. Then, on Labor Day, my step sister mentioned that she was running a portion of the Free Press Marathon in October. I wistfully said it was a nice goal for me to work towards, at which point my stepmother volunteered to walk it with me. So then I had a challenge in front of me.

You know how they say ignorance is bliss? Well, that’s not always true. First I discover (from walking at about.com and a couple of books I checked out of the library) that, if you are a new walker, you should really allow yourself 6 months to get yourself ready. Pshaw! thought I. I’ve been walking since I was a year old. How hard can it be? And sure enough, I found an online “16 week training course”. Well, OK. I’ll condense that 16 weeks into 6. No problem. Ahem.

Then, as I registered online, I noticed that there were 2 categories for walkers of half-marathons: competitive and non-competitive. Well, I thought. Why overly pressure myself with competition? After all, this is my first marathon. I’ll do the non-competitive. That way I can take as much time as I need to finish the marathon. (And I was actually proud of myself for not over doing it by “competing”.)

Ha. There are still time limits! If you don’t make a certain time, the “special people” bus comes and picks you up, and you get driven to the finish line, to your eternal shame. Guess when I figured that out? Yeah. A week before the marathon. I’m looking at all this information about how to improve your time and etc. and shrugging it off, because “it doesn’t apply to me.”  Oopsie!

However (and this is the important part):

I came. I saw. I kicked its ass!

Well. Perhaps not kicked its ass. However, I finished that 13.1 miles. On my own 2 feet. No one came and tapped me of the shoulder to DQ me. I finished, and while my time wasn’t terrific, my goal was never about that. I met my goals, and considering that I really got into a walking program 6 weeks ago, I think I did FABULOUSLY, darling! (BTW, my step count for yesterday? 33,768. And almost all of that was before 1 pm, since I was largely immobile after that point in the day.)

Now it’s the next day and I’m walking like a guy in an old western. You know, like Yosemite Sam when he’s going after Bugs, and they show him walking side to side, with his hands by his pistols. Every time I get up, I walk like that. Ironically, my feet are mostly fine. No blisters at all, and although they were cramped up this morning when I woke up, they really don’t hurt now. It’s just my hips on down to my ankles.

Other than that, I’m fine. No, I’m not. I’m spectacular – I am so proud of myself that it’s a little sickening. I can’t stop talking about it to family, friends, coworkers, and total strangers on the bus. Plus I keep poking my butt, trying to ascertain if it’s firmer and tighter. I think it is, but that’s probably just muscle spasm.

Oh, and the kicker? I have already signed up to walk the half-marathon in Cincy next May.

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Huh.

October 15, 2008

Beer freezes. Did you know that?

Missing in Action

September 29, 2008

Sorry, y’all. Actually, I haven’t been missing – I’ve known where I was the whole time! But I been bizzy.

Long story short, I HATE amazon music downloading.

What, you need background?

Okey dokey, you axed fer it!

About 8 weeks ago now, I joined a cult. This particular cult has a few well-developed ideas, and one defining accessory – and their patron saint is Harry Truman. That’s right – I am now a Reformed Daily Constitutionalist, and I have the pedometer to prove it! (I’m still a Catholic, but I’m a Catholic who’s GOING PLACES!)

There are several great upcoming posts about this new-found ability (coming attractions), but what I’m going for here is this:

I decided that I would take the leap and join the pod people. That’s right – I am now one of the great earbudded masses. I went to Amazon and bought the leetle bitty shuffle. (It’s cute, and verrry small.)

I was even able, with a moderate amount of help from FBIL The Canuck, to smash the music into it, and even joined Audible and downloaded a book (which I have had issues with – technology is hard, says Barbie!) However, I have noticed that listening to books while I walk doesn’t motivate me to move. (Which is fine – I can still listen to them on the bus). I’ve also noticed that a large chunk of my (admittedly small) music library doesn’t motivate me either. What I found myself playing, over and over again, was my Bob Seger (GH Vol 1 & 2) and my Cool Daddios – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Louis Prima, Sam Butera. And when I’m ready to cool it down, some Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bossa Nova. But I’ve heard those songs a LOT recently, and I thought I might like to expand my repertoire.  So, I downloaded one or 2 songs from the itunes, which was quick and user friendly, even to semi-luddites like me. (Amazon, take note – those adjectives do NOT apply to you.)

Then I got an email from my buddies at Amazon, thanking me for buying my ipod from them, and telling me that they were giving me $10 worth of FREE downloads to thank me for my patronage. What gents!

That’s when the trouble started. Let’s just say that downloading music from Amazon is slightly harder than cutting your own hair. Maybe it’s not if you’re more technical than I am. However, if they want to improve their business, the key would be USER FRIENDLY. So, after calling The Canuck (who incidentally cannot download music from Amazon even if he wanted to, because it’s not allowed in Canada) and having him try to perform technical help, over the phone, without even being able to see the correct pages because he’s in Canada, and therefore not qualified to patronize this store, I gave up and emailed this charming innovation called “help desk” at amazon. Ha!

I have NO IDEA what it is that I am doing wrong, and the information they sent me is hopelessly beyond my ken. (My computer knowledge is solely based on WHAT I HAVE TO DO AT WORK. It’s been like 2 years on this blog, and I still haven’t figured out how to load a flipping picture!)

Meanwhile, I’m training for a half-marathon (I’m walking 13.1 miles in 3 weeks) so I NEED THE FREAKING MUSIC NOW. Somehow, after a couple of attempts and more than an hour (and honest to God, I couldn’t tell you how if my life depended on it) I was able to download the 2 singles and HALF the album I selected. No. I can’t explain it.

Potty mouth alert – FREE IS GOOD FOR SHIT unless you can actually GET the free stuff. JERKS!

I’ll stick with itunes. It’s WAYYYY easier. Even I can do it! GRRR!

Agatha Christie Has Died

August 12, 2008

RIP, Dame Agatha.

Yes, I know, technically she died in 1976, at a ripe old age. However, and here’s the rub, as long as there existed in the universe an Agatha Christie which I had not yet read, she was still “alive”. Get it?

I started my obsession with murder mysteries innocently enough – with Trixie Belden starting when I was about 8.  Once I got a little older (and had read them all 50 times each), I moved on to Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton, etc.  I was probably about 12 or 13 the first time I read an actual MURDER MYSTERY. (Trixie and Nancy never dealt with death – cruel stepfathers, sure, and even (gasp!) mari-hu-ana, but never MURDER.) BTW, I like Trixie way better than Nancy, but that’s a separate post.

However, once I read a Miss Marple, I was sunk.  Addicted for life. And yes, I even vaguely knew that Agatha Christie was technically dead. But at first it wasn’t a problem.  After all, she wrote nearly 100 mysteries in her life. I read all the Miss Marples. Then I discovered Tommy & Tuppence (loved them!). I didn’t like M. Poirot when I was that age. However, in my 20s I began to fall under the sway of that uptight, OCD Belgian.  I have been collecting the books actively since the mid-80s. I actually thought I had read all the Agathas in existence until a few years ago, when I discovered that the interwebs is a vast warehouse of information like, say, the original and alternate titles of every Agatha Christie ever written, the publication date (in the UK and the US) and who the protagonist was.  Yes, I am a big enough nerd that I checked my books against the list, and lo and behold, there existed an Agatha that I not only didn’t own, but that I had never read!  I was elated! I remember how excited I was when I found it in a bookstore and brought it home.

But then I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Because once I did, that was IT. No more. Unless they can reanimate the old gal. So it has sat, untouched, on my Agatha Christie shelves, ever since. Yes, she has her own section in my office. What?

However, I recently decided that that was… insane, and so I READ IT. That’s right!

But now I feel sad and let down. And let’s face it, there’s a whole category of “cozy” mysteries out there – she has spawned legions of wannabes. But a wannabe is never as good as the original. And part of the reason I love Agatha (just one of many reasons) is that her “coziness” was not conscious. Nowadays, when you read a cozy, you feel the cuteness oozing out of the books. It’s not the same. (Kind of like how I feel about Gone with the Wind – it’s trying too hard.)

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I say, Rest in Peace, Dame Agatha. You are SORELY missed.

Update on Irena Sendlerowa

August 4, 2008

This month’s St. Anthony Messenger has an in-depth story about her, Zegota (the movement) and even the play written by the American girls about her and what she did. If you can, get ahold of the mag.

I hadn’t realized that she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and lost, to Al Gore, for An Inconvient Truth.

Sigh.

Bad Hair Day

August 4, 2008

So The Clam ratted me out. Just because I ruined her hair ONE TIME, she had to tell the entire World Wide Web about it. Wait until I substitute Nair for her conditioner the night before the wedding. Shh. Don’t tell her.

Anyhoo, the post is live at her site: http://clamrampant.stblogs.com/2008/07/31/hair-raising-tales-ha-ha-ha/

Well, let’s just discuss MY recent hairtastrophe, shall we? (And I can’t even blame her for it!)

I was growing my hair out for Clam & Canuck’s wedding. Wait. Back up a step. About a year ago, I had one of those crazy nights, where I thought it would be really cool to cut my own hair – you know, it would look unique and quirky and not a carbon copy of everyone else’s ‘do. Well, THAT’S an understatement. This was on a Friday night, mind you, and while I wasn’t drunk, I may have been just slightly tipsy. Just enough to make me not fully appreciate the consequences. Until it was too late.

Needless to say, I was at BoRics at 9 am the next morning, begging them to fix it. This is how I stumbled upon Caryn – possibly the best hairstylist I’ve even had. (And I was only paying BoRics prices for her!) You know how only the good die young? Well, at BoRics, the good hairdressers get promoted. In retrospect, I guess I was lucky I had her for a year. Although if I would have known she would leave me, I would have gone in more often. Forget trying to grow my hair out! But, nothing gold can stay.

Fast forward to now. Last Friday, to be exact. It’s summer, it’s hot, my hair is scraggly, and one thing about having short hair – you become intolerant of long hair on yourself – my neck is hot, it’s falling in my face, my scalp never feels clean, you know. After a few months of being miserable, I decided I HAD to cut my hair. HAD TO. NOW. (You know the feeling?)

So I call BoRics. She’s not there! (Sob!) But I HAFTA get my hair cut. So I call another salon in our fair city. (No, no one recommended it. I was desparate. So it kind of serves me right.)

I knew there was going to be trouble when she looked like she’d escaped from a Def Leppard video. Or possibly RATT. She completely ignored what I said about cut (the look I wanted) or about how much time I was willing to spend “doing” my hair each day. BTW, that would be none. After years of denial, of lying about who I am to various stylists, of promising that YES I will blowdry it, with a round brush, of course I have velcro rollers AND I know how to use them, I have come out of the closet. I am a low maintenance hair chick. I just am not that into hair. Seriously. I refuse to pretend to be something I’m not anymore! To be fair, I do come by it honestly. There is not a high maintenance hair girl in my entire (blood) family.

She ignored all that, and I now have a cut I’m supposed to blowdry, with a round brush, every day. Great. Plus the entire time she was trying to sell me (overpriced) expensive hair products and services. Highlights for my whole head, expensive shampoo, expensive styling gunk. I HATE that. Besides, honest to God, I use whatever shampoo’s the cheapest. Well, not really. But I have used Suave (I like Suave). I wouldn’t dream of spending $15 on shampoo! Are you joking? Plus, to add insult to injury, the cut was about 3 times what I pay at BoRics. (Which is NOT what they told me on the phone.)

Like I said, it’s pretty much all my fault for not taking the time to get a referral from someone. If anyone knows a good salon on the east side (that won’t break the bank) let me know.

The really crap part of the story is that now I don’t know if it will grow out enough to make me look faintly humanoid for Clammy’s wedding. If I had just left it ALONE, no problem. Poop.

On Compassion

August 4, 2008

There is an ugly trend that has arisen in this country recently. I don’t know exactly when it started, but it appears to be getting worse. The first time I noticed it actively was when Tony Snow announced he had cancer. The blogosphere was full of people who basically said “Good. Serves him right. I hope he dies.” This was repeated when he died recently. There was also some of the same behavior when Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer.

Who are these people who take pleasure in the pain and suffering of others? When did we become a nation that lacks basic compassion for other people, regardless of their politics? What happened to “I may disagree with what you believe, but I will fight to the death for your right to believe it”? (Voltaire)

All religions have teachings about compassion. All religions have some version of the Golden Rule. And if you don’t have a religion, guess what? You’re still no better than anyone else. I love the story about the Buddha telling the grieving woman to bring him a mustard seed from a home that had never known suffering. Of course she couldn’t do it. We all suffer in this world. I tend to be a pretty faithful Catholic, but I have to admit to a belief in karma. It may not be “kosher” for Catholics to believe in karma. Too bad. However you want to describe it, if you spend your life wishing ill on others, or rejoicing in their suffering (and the suffering of their families), you will get payback for that. Call it karma, call it juju, call it the universe getting even. You will pay for it. Instead of this kind of hurtful behavior (which dehumanizes you, ultimately) you should be praying that you never get put through anything this serious. I have watched someone I love die of cancer, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, regardless of his/her politics, religion, nationality, etc.

I guess what it comes down to is: WWALS? (What Would Abraham Lincoln Say?)

With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.”

X Files

July 30, 2008

So TNT had a couple of episodes of X Files on over the weekend (probably a tie-in because of the new X Files movie). After watching them… I do believe that show has held up! I’m going to add some to my Netflix queue to verify, but of the 2 episodes I watched, one was pretty spectacular and one was… pretty OK.

I also saw a good movie Sunday night – it was called Last Holiday and starred Queen Latifah, LL Cool J and Timothy Hutton. She is told she has less than a month to live, and proceeds to try to do some stuff before she goes. It’s pretty predictable, but still an enjoyable watch. (As long as you like QL, which I do. If you don’t like her, don’t watch the movie, because she is in every scene!)

In Which I Proclaim: I’m NORMAL!

July 30, 2008

Well, mostly. Check this out!

http://www.43folders.com/2008/07/23/oooooooom

First of all, I love Merlin Mann. He is muy awesome. But when I read “Like a lot of people in this Ask Metafilter thread, I thought I was the only person in the universe who made an unconscious little noise when remembering something stupid I did or said…” he had me, hook, line and sinker!

And this person, in the comments section, seems to have gleaned the motivation: “I have this tic as well. I notice I end up with my mouth almost wide open and I blurt out a sound from my throat like “agh,” as though I’m trying to interrupt myself in the memory from saying what I’m saying. I suspect it’s me unconsciously going back in time to save myself, or to teach myself that in these situations, we DO NOT do as I did here.”

I do this CONSTANTLY. I either mutter “moron” under my breath or occasionally (and very embarrassingly) HUM A TUNE.  And no, I won’t tell you what tune.

I’m so glad I’m not alone. It’s probably still a slight psychiatric issue, but given that all these other people do it as well and still appear to be functioning members of society, I’m guessing they’re not fitting me for that straitjacket yet.

C’mon – it feels good to own it – anyone?

Generation Gap

July 28, 2008

I’m standing in line at Kroger tonight, and behind me in line are 2 high school girls. They are avidly reading the covers of all the magazines. They hone in on one that has a pic of Sarah Jessica Parker, that claims that her hubby, Matthew Broderick, cheated on her.

Girl 1: Is THAT her husband?

Girl 2: Um. Yeah, I think so.

Girl 1: Oh. Eeeew.

EEEW? OMG, when I was in HS, Matthew Broderick was considered a MAJOR HUNK! Ferris Bueller…anyone? Anyone?

When did he become icky?