Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Night's All Right For Writing

This time last week I was sitting on a couch on a rooftop of a swanky nighclub in Las Vegas, enjoying the perfect warmth of a desert evening and once again marveling at how I'd managed to find myself there and trying very hard not to focus on the fact that it was almost over.

Today, it's rainy and stormy and cold, and I've spent most of the day in bed, trying to fight off some unidentified form of illness that's trying to take me out. I had fever dreams on Thursday night but managed to wake up without one on Friday, though by the time I finally got home again I was experiencing the type of body aches that tell you that you're about to go down for the count. I've felt really weird all day - I get hints of being unwell (achy, dizzy, with random bursts of coughing), and then I take a nap, and I'm good to go for a few hours. If I have to do this all weekend to keep from being Actually Sick, I will. I even tried some Emergen-C, which I hate and find to be incredibly gross, and supercharged on whatever form of Vitamin C I could get my hands on. I think my immune system is stronger now that I've started running and eating better, but the sheer amount of stress (and emotional whiplash) I've experienced over the last week probably didn't help matters. I guess a lot of the other BiSCuits are getting sick, too, so it's a thing. (My brain automatically thinks of the movie Contagion which I've only seen trailers for, and... yeah. BAD.)

I had to get up early this morning to collect gate fees at a softball tournament, that, frankly, I felt little to no association with at all. It's run by the board that I'm on; however, it's for the "other" league, the one I have no participation in. My team doesn't even play in this one. But, like a trooper, I was up at 6am (SIX IN THE MORNING) (!), it's storming like a mofo and they are stubbornly refusing to call it because canceling a tournament is probably the biggest pain in the ass of all time and I don't really blame them, except it's really storming, but whatever, I'm already awake so I don't care, and I get there and THEN they decide to push it all back two hours. Ok, whatever, I used that time to finish uploading all of my Vegas pictures to facebook, which, despite how ridiculous of a priority that is, it was actually a huge weight off of my shoulders and I don't even care if I don't accomplish anything else this weekend. Then I come back and stand in the cold and the wind and the damp for an hour and a half, fumbling with soggy money and reassuring people that the games were still going to go on as planned, keeping a smile on my face even though I couldn't feel my fingers anymore. It wasn't terrible, softball people are usually good people. Minus those two cars who zoomed by us so they didn't have to pay, YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL AND KARMA WILL FIND YOU. Anyway, some couple brought me a hot chocolate because they felt bad for me and it was probably the nicest thing ever and really sweet of them to do.

I didn't run today - I should have, it was cold but I've run in colder. And snow, even. But it got late before I realized it and I didn't really want to go run in the park in the dark because even though this is a super safe town, it just sounds like a great way to get yourself in the news. I thought about borrowing the BF's elliptical but my energy was just kind of drained at that point, so... no deal. I'll go tomorrow. I need to. For me, for my momentum, and probably for my immune system.

I'm hoping to start my BiSC recaps this week - I even made outlines and did some pre-writing while I was there (!), but man. There are so many thoughts and so many feelings and, mostly, so many pictures. I think I'm going to have to collage them so I don't break my blog.

There is absolutely no point to this entry (as I'm sure you've gathered on) other than a small smattering of updates, but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things again, so: here we are.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

That One Time I Cried Over Missing Shoes, And Other Reasons Feelings Are The Worst

I'm not ready to write my Vegas recap post(s) yet. I don't know how to explain the last three years and what they've meant and why this trip has been so important to me. I don't know how to round up all of the photos and quotes and tweets and inside jokes and all of the things I'm so desperately trying to hold on to. I don't know how to process the fact that I'm not sure when (or even if) I'll see some or most or all of these people again. My heart is aching in a way that it does only when I come home from BiSC. I half-jokingly commented earlier that I didn't want to talk to anyone or read anything that wasn't related to BiSC. I'm not ready to let go of it yet. I'm in complete denial over the fact that it's over.

I just spent the last ten minutes sobbing uncontrollably because I couldn't find my running shoes. I suspect it's not really about the shoes, but really, who the hell loses a pair of shoes? Whose life is so overwhelming and messy and out of control that they literally lose their only pair of athletic shoes? My frustration kept building to the point where I just snapped, and there were ugly tears and it just.. I don't know. I had a very small window this afternoon where I could go - I was going to meet up with the BF for dinner before he had to go back to work for a while, it's probably going to storm again, and I really just want to sit and organize all of my photos but I really, really wanted to go running, because I haven't for almost a full week now and also: buffets. I'm already getting bombarded with work emails and softball emails and ALL OF THE OBLIGATIONS and I was doing pretty good with the transition back into real life until this shoe debacle and suddenly I felt like all control was slipping away from me and I just cracked. I'm still processing All of the Feelings from saying goodbye to everyone and really, I just want a hug and I don't want to be back in my real life yet because it's hard and demanding and stressful and all I really wanted to do was go for a run (never thought I'd say that) and I CAN'T because I LOST MY EFFING SHOES and everything is the worst.

I didn't expect it to hit me so hard, so all at once, so soon, this end of an era, this final goodbye to our family reunion in the desert. I know it's not really the end - we'll find new ways to meet up and hang out, we're all a few mouse clicks and keystrokes away from each other, and yet... and yet, my heart is breaking and I've never, ever been good at handling my emotions. From the people I met three years ago to the people I met three days ago, I miss everyone terribly. I never really thought I would feel like I belong - and sometimes, oftentimes, I still don't, but it's the worst feeling to know that I'm so far from everyone and I feel like I'm going to miss out on everything and be left out of everything. The worst part is? The only people who will ever truly understand exactly what I am feeling are the ones who were there and experienced it themselves - the people that are too far away to hug. How could I possibly explain any of this to anyone else? I don't think anyone else can truly understand why am I so upset over this, why it's so hard. I'll never be able to figure out how to explain it, I could spend years writing and re-writing about it, and I doubt the words will ever come out right.

Where do we go from here? I don't know. I'm sure there's something. But I can't look ahead yet, because I'm stuck right here. I'm mourning something that I never really thought could be mine to miss, and yet, here we are. All the feelings, all the tears, and this space is my only outlet and I can't even explain it. A fine mess I'm in, indeed.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Nephew'd!

One month ago today, I became an aunt. Obviously I couldn't post about it before I had several pictures to show off my little nephew's absolute adorableness, so I figured the one month birthday would be a good milestone for which to show him off.

I had gotten it into my head that it was going to be a boy. My sister and brother-in-law had opted to be surprised, so they spent nineteen weeks with a little envelope on their coffee table that had the answer to the ultimate mystery inside of it, for which they should probably be given an award because I would not have been able to pass by it every day without caving. But I had three dreams where it was a boy - okay, one of which they said it was a boy and then when they came out to announce the name, they were all JK IT'S A GIRL, so that dream is pretty much irrelevant. The most vivid one was where I was coming to visit and I walked in the front door of their house and a little brown-haired toddler came running at me, all excited that I was there. That was the very best, and I can't wait until it happens for real.

Here's the suckiest thing about being an aunt: not getting to see the little peanut very often. My sister only lives an hour and a half away, but that's still kind of a trek, and gas isn't cheap, plus they're obviously busy and trying to juggle a plethora of other visitors as well. I have decided to claim him as my own; I am oddly jealous of the girls who have married Mike's brothers - I have to share my aunthood with them and I want it all to myself, dammit. But, well, I'm selfish, I guess.

It was April 16 when my sister texted me to tell me that her water had broken, and I just stood there in my kitchen all excited and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do. Should I drop everything and zoom up there? I obviously wanted to meet the little dude as soon as possible. (Or dudette. It was still unknown at that point.) So I stayed put and just hung around, anxiously waiting to hear. I even made a comment to the BF that I bet she was hoping he'd be born that day, because she has this (what I believe to be irrational) hatred of odd numbers. (I was totally right, too - even during the process of giving birth, that thought had crossed her mind. I know her so well.) But, alas, he was born shortly after midnight - 12:41 am. Seven pounds, eleven ounces. Nineteen and three quarters of an inch long. Looking exactly like his daddy.

The crappy part is that nobody actually texted me when he was born, so naturally I was really worried, because the last text I got from the BIL was that she was getting ready to push, and then... nothing. I guess my mother had tried to send me a picture message, but fun fact: even though Google Voice will forward calls and texts to my old number to my new phone, it won't relay picture messages. So it wasn't until about 6am the next morning that I got the official announcement from my sister.


Everyone say hello to Jackson Richard.

At one of her baby showers, we were supposed to guess the birth day, what it would be, and a name. All I knew was that she liked names that ended in N. So this one popped into my head, I decided that it was the very best one, and wrote it down. She gave me kind of a funny look and was like, "that's actually our first choice right now." I'm pretty much psychic, you guys. So basically from that point forward, I decided it my head that his name was going to be Jackson. So it was a good thing that that's what they named him, otherwise I would have had some mental dissonance to deal with. The Richard is after both our dad and our grandpa. (I'm actually floating around the theory right now that my dad likes little J-man more than he liked either me or my sister. My grandma swears he was the same way with us, but I don't know. He's loving this grandpa business. Obviously my mother and stepmother are too, but that could probably go without saying.)

I had never held a baby that little before, but I took the day off and drove on up to visit them in the hospital and I sat with little Jackson in my arms for quite a long time. He was still pretty sleepy from, y'know, being born, and occasionally he would wake up, scream for no reason, and then suddenly pass back out.


I've only gotten to visit him one other time since then, and he was pretty much just as adorable as I remembered. I'm pretty much going to spoil the crap out of that kid. I have purchased no fewer than ten outfits for the little guy, of which I am incredibly excited to show you because they are AWESOME, but my sister hasn't even seen them yet, so I don't want to ruin the surprise of them. So you'll have to wait. I had to cut myself off from buying him things... partially because of money, but mostly because I had already purchased all of the things I liked enough to buy, and now I will just have to wait until the next season's outfits come out.


I have mandated that my sister send me a picture of him every day, which she's been pretty good about. I have them all in an album on my phone now, so odds are good that anyone I hang out with will be subjected to a viewing. Yeah, I'm gonna be THAT person. At least it's not pictures of my cat, right?


Anyway. This is only the first installment in what will probably be many of the saga of my aunthood and my quest to become Jackson's absolute favorite aunt, so I'll wrap it up here for now. Here, have another picture or three before you go.

 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hot Hot Heat

The temperature outside yesterday stayed pretty steady at 95 degrees.

Depending on where you live or how much you like the heat, that sentence may mean something different to each of you. To me, it means it feels like it's hotter than the surface of the sun outside and my poor delicate self has a tendency to wilt under extreme temperatures. I don't like the heat and I am very rarely dressed appropriately for it. You know those crazy people that wear shorts in the middle of the winter while there's a foot of snow on the ground? I'm the opposite. I'm the crazy person that wears jeans and black t-shirts in the summer. (Hey, black is slimming.) I'm most comfortable in jeans and I dislike when it's too hot because then I am physically uncomfortable and my brain weeps. 

At any rate, I figured it would be a good trial run for Vegas, who is currently experiencing 100 degree temperatures, which, frankly, is only 5 degrees hotter than here, and once I've reached my heat threshold, it's all miserable and the temperature really doesn't matter anymore. And I really do want to slap the people who are always all, "yeah, but it's a dry heat." ONE HUNDRED DEGREES IS EFFING HOT, WHETHER IT IS DRY OR NOT. Granted, humidity makes everything worse (especially my hair), but even so. 

AIR CONDITIONING IS MY BFF.

It wasn't quite as bad as I was bracing myself for, though. I mean, I only went to my car to go get my hair cut* but there was kind of a breeze and I could tolerate it in short increments, despite that I am dressed for a temperature roughly twenty five degrees cooler than what it actually was. So maybe I will be okay.

*OMG I FINALLY GOT A HAIR CUT. I went into full-on panic mode last month when I went to call for a cut and my salon didn't answer and didn't answer and didn't answer and naturally this was the end of the world because I don't trust anyone else with my hair, even though I don't do anything terribly exciting with it (trim off the damaged bits, layer it up a little, and thin in out, because I have the thickest hair ever), and then finally I did some Google-fu and landed on their facebook page (which I probably should have looked for first) and discovered that, to my relief, they were remodeling and would reopen in time for me to squish in a haircut before I left. I booked a hair appointment through their facebook page which is one of the more random things I've done lately when it comes to my mundane little life, and then I went and it was awesome and now my head is five pounds lighter (approximately). 

And then since I was at the mall anyway, I went and bought some capris and a new skirt, because I'm not an idiot. It's gonna be hellishly warm.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Five Disclaimers About the Quirkiness of My Being

The most anxiety-ridden part of signing up for BiSC is probably writing your bio and choosing a picture. I mean, this is what introduces you to a bunch of people that don't know you. First impressions, and what not. I got smart this year, though, and instead of agonizing over it at the last minute, I chose a photo and wrote out my Five Things pretty much as soon as I got home, and then stored it in my Dropbox until such a time as it was needed. I was PREPARED.

So, in case you are curious (which you are most likely not, but I'd like to keep it preserved somewhere for nostalgia sake), here is my 2013 bio. Complete with wonky elbow. (No, seriously. If you ever meet me in person, ask me to demonstrate how my elbows bend all weird. It squicks out everyone. This picture doesn't do them justice.) Maybe it makes me really vain but I really like that picture of me, I don't even care, I think I look pretty and even kind of thin in it. And my hair looks nice.


As far as the five points go, as we approach B-day*?

I kind of want a black fedora this year, as I don't have one and it seems like an essential item for any fedora wardrobe.

I suspect I will totally destroy my picture quantity record this year, mostly because I plan on visiting the Neon Museum if I don't die of heat stroke first.

I have a swim top and a floppy hat and a < 3oz bottle of sunscreen (THANKS FOR WANTING ME TO GET SKIN CANCER, TSA), but I make no promises beyond that.

I HAVE UPGRADED MY PHONE and it is everything I dreamed it would be and more.

And I still kind of plan on going to bed early at least a couple nights. Because I am, in fact, not-so-secretly an old lady. But, y'know. Time zones.

*BiSC Day. GET IT?!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Final Countdown

Apparently, I'm on a kick of using song names for post titles. I present this fact without comment or explanation.

In two days, I'll be getting on a plane for Las Vegas, as I have done for the past couple years in the middle of May. It's the final Bloggers in Sin City, and I have all sorts of anxieties and concerns that are completely new from previous years. The things I was scared of the first year aren't even on my radar. I know I'll have fun. I know that I will make new friends. I know that I will have people to hang out with. Most of all, I know what to expect. You may or may not know this about me, but I am a Planner. I like to have all my ducks in a row. The unknown is my worst enemy. Uncertainty is one of my most dreaded emotions.

The trip kind of snuck up on me this year, despite the fact that I've been looking forward to it ever since I stepped off the airplane in my home airport last year. Three hundred and sixty five days of waiting for the next one. An entire trip around the sun, collecting as many sequin tops as I could find. Writing my bio for the registration as soon as I got home, so it would be ready, so I didn't have to obsess over it at the last minute when it came time to fill it out this year.

Then there was winter and it was long and dreary and then suddenly it was May and I skyrocketed into panic mode.

What am I panicking about, you might ask? It's a long weekend in Las Vegas, what is there to possibly panic about?

PACKING.

I have been even more neurotic than usual this year about stuffing some clothes in a zippered box. Which is saying something, because I am incredibly neurotic about a lot of things, but especially packing for trips. I make the most thorough lists you could ever want to have, and I plan my outfits out weeks in advance. Which is what the problem was: I didn't know what to wear. Again, who cares, you might say. Well I care, for a couple of really dumb reasons.

Reason #1: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife I take a metric truckload of photos, pretty much all the time, but especially on vacation. Don't get me wrong: I still enjoy myself and the photo-taking doesn't distract from my enjoyment of (insert event here), like most people would assume. What you fail to take into account is that photography has been one of my life-long hobbies, and I crave things to take photos of. I can still enjoy a concert or a party or a vacation, even if I'm seeing part of it through a lens (or, these days, a digital screen). With this being the final BiSC, I am reasonably certain I will be taking more photos than usual. I even bought a new memory card. Now, I expect that I will appear in many photos as well, because, hi: it's a blogger meetup, and we all like to document things. I have struggled with my self-images for years and nothing is quite as bad as a visual slap in the face when you see a photo of yourself looking fat, frumpy, and wearing ill-fitting clothes. I want to look nice in the photos. I want to not cringe when I look at the photos.

Reason #2: I'm from an area that is also pretty universally acknowledged as being, well, unhip. I feel reasonably proud of the fact that people don't always know where I'm from unless I tell them, because I feel like I have overcome the stereotype of the region and come across as a normal person instead of the backwards hick that I assume that people assume that I would be inclined to be. Basically: I feel like I'm an ambassador for the great state of Iowa, and I want to paint us in the most positive light possible, because everyone thinks this place sucks (which admittedly, it does sometimes) and that we're all five years behind and can't be even remotely conscious of what's "in." Yes, I know, this is all very ridiculous, but given that everyone else hails from much cooler, trendier places (Chicago! DC! Portland! California! New York!), I can't help but feel like on some level, I need to prove myself.

Reason #3: This is highly related to Reason #1, but: I'm not a terribly svelte individual. I've put on more weight than what I should have, given the size of my frame. I am very, very self-conscious of this, doubly so when it's warm out because I can't hide in my layers or sleeves or even pants. I LOVE PANTS. Even if I'm not necessarily being photographed, I am still very self-aware of how I look, and how things fit, and how this might be perceived by others. Even though it's scientifically proven that people are so focused on themselves that they don't give a rat's ass what you look like. I want to be comfortable so I can be confident and frankly, this is something I've really been trying to work at. I don't want to feel like a phony last year, overcompensating for my insecurities.

On the bright side, I've lost about ten pounds since March, so I have at least that going for me.

Reason #4: It's going to be in the upper 90s in Vegas. It's been hanging out in the 60s, maybe 70s around here, with a nice cool breeze. In other words: comfortable, erring on the side of chilly. I am so not used to nor am I ready for near 100-degree temperatures. I am going to MELT and I am going to be HOT and UNCOMFORTABLE and SWEATY and DISGUSTING and probably CRANKY. My wardrobe has not been updated for the summer, because it hasn't needed to be. I'm not ready for hot weather. I'm worried that the clothes I am bringing are going to be too warm.

So these are the things that are constantly circling over my head every day as I make and remake and revise and edit my packing list(s). I've tried almost everything on more than once, I've meticulously paired jewelry and accessories with each outfit, I've broken in two new pairs of flats. I'm almost ready to go, which is good, because it's almost time to go. Eep!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

I'm lying in bed this morning and the weight of what day it is comes rushing over me in full force. It had crossed my mind earlier this week, when I'd realized we'd entered into May, but I'd held it in, just below the level of cognizant awareness. It's not that I wanted to forget, or even that I'm trying to forget, but on some level, I wanted to give the day back to my friend Maria, whose birthday has had a cloud over it for so many years.

We were reminiscing about Maria's 21st birthday last night (as one does, when it's one of the best stories you share involving alcohol and shoes), and my brain tried to start doing the math. I wouldn't let it, but it finally won this morning, effectively tarnishing that cheerful memory. We went out for Maria's birthday at midnight as May 4 turned into May 5 and 20 turned into 21. Several hours later, the unthinkable happened, as we were all disbanding for the summer, as Maria and her epic hangover rode home with her mother, as I packed up the last bit of my dorm room for the year. The next morning, I got the worst of all phone calls while sitting in the parking lot of a property management office, waiting for them to open so I could pick up my keys for the apartment that I was co-subleasing for the summer. I can't remember what was said, I was dazed, staring out my windshield, not comprehending what I was hearing.

Michelle... car accident... she's gone.

It hurts as much today as it did seven years ago. For some reason my brain decided to wonder if the article about her car accident was still up online, but my stomach tightened and I realized there was no way I could bring myself to read it again.

She would have turned thirty this upcoming November, the first one in our tight-knit circle to do so. She would probably be married, with a baby, maybe two. She would have gotten a fantastic job as a graphic designer or illustrator (she was amazing at both), using her talents to brighten the world. Her positivity was infectious, and I miss that the most. She always had the words to get you through your darkest patches, and always knew what to say to make you feel like a million bucks. I miss having her to turn to. I miss the reassurance of her hugs. They were the best hugs, made extra soft by the gray hoodie she always wore when she was relaxing.

Maybe it's selfish, how much I miss her, how much I know my life would be better if she were still here. I miss her sunshine. But if I start to think about the injustice of it all, about how her future was ripped away from her, far too soon, far too abruptly - I can't handle that. I know life isn't fair - you hear that from the time you are old enough to understand words (even if you're not old enough to understand what "fair" actually means, as opposed to what you think it means), but it's truly not. My biggest ache was always the why - why her? Why then? I would have gladly traded places with her. At that time, my outlook was so bleak and I had often wished for an out - while she was the opposite, so full of life and light. It was all backwards and never made sense to me. Maybe, on some level, her death saved my life; I vowed to carry on because she wouldn't. Living my life was a tribute to hers, in a way. A sloppy, messy, but well-intentioned tribute, I suppose, but I'm still going.

I hate it. I miss my friend. It's been seven years and the hole is still there, and I can't think about it too much or it paralyzes me. It hurts less than it did; time has a merciful way of turning raw wounds into scars, but the mark will always be there. I miss her, I miss her bubbly personality, her advice, her outlook on life. I miss living across the hall from her, I miss sharing the ups and downs of our lives. I never felt like I was worthy of being her friend. She was the rarest of people, the kind that proved there was good in the world. No matter how much time passes, my  memory of first meeting her - a welcoming, reassuring sophomore who plunked herself in the middle of all us nervous freshmen on move-in day - remains as vivid as if it just happened. Her memory is one of the strongest that I carry; I know I can trust that, if I can trust nothing else. Anyone who knew her can tell you  that I'm not exaggerating when I talk about how wonderful she was - they'd probably tell you that I'm not doing her enough justice.

It's a hard day today, like it always is. I don't think she'd approve of me lying around in my pajamas, being mopey and sad. She'd give me a hug and let me feel my feelings, but then she'd launch into a campaign to cheer me up. I'd probably stubbornly continue to wallow, but it wouldn't last long. It couldn't. She was like a magnet that demanded you to smile.

I think I might go for a run today. She was a runner, the first "real" runner I'd really been friends with. (The first of many, I might add). The snow is gone today, and it looks like the sun is trying to peek through. I kind of like to think that's her doing, her way of letting us know that wherever she is, she's all right, and she's keeping an eye on us.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Onward

Yep, still snowy and slushy and gross. I don't even know.


BUT! Before it got all gross and disgusting (so, like, Tuesday), I went for a run and set a new PR for the year. If I can keep adding five minutes every week, I'll not only smash my overall PR in no time, but I'll get to a 5K before I know it. I'm pretty slow - I think I was running about a 14 minute mile on average, so I haven't quite cleared the 2 mile mark yet, but... soon.


Slow forward progress, guys.

Also, speaking of which... there seems to be a large Venn diagram overlap of bloggers who have taken up running, which I think is kind of cool. Because then I get quotes like this from Amber that make me feel better about myself:
I believe that if you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter if you run around the block or you run Badwater. If you tie on your shoes and start moving your feet, you are a runner. Just as it doesn’t matter if you write on cocktail napkins or head the New York Times bestseller list. If you put words to paper with the intent of telling a story or sharing a truth, you are a writer.

Plus this entire post by Nicole.

Now, we won't focus too much on the fact that my writing has stagnated lately, but, again. Baby steps. One thing at a time and I'm focusing on keeping my head above water with life, work, coaching, family, and the entire backlog of projects that are lurking in my apartment. 

Which, given the fact that I've been driven inside by the snow (which, I almost went for a run last night but I opted to go shopping instead), you'd think I'd be able to focus on some of the indoorsy activities, but whatever. I'm suffering from a bad case of Overwhelmeds right now and I can only take tiny nibbles out of my list.

And I really did think that maybe I would have woken up today and the snow would have been gone. I mean, it's May. That's not an unrealistic hope. SIGH.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Misery, Thou Name Art SNOW

Two days ago, it was in the low to mid 80s. It was warm and lovely and the grass was getting all green and flowers were starting to bloom and...


This is today.

It is SNOWING.

It's the worst kind of snow. I mean, first of all, it's MAY snow, which I'm not sure has ever happened before in the history of my life, but it's a wet slushy mess once it hits the ground. There was a good 2-3" lake of water in my parking lot at work, resulting in drenched boots and drenched socks and freezing cold feet by the time I made it the hundred feet or so from my car to the front doors of my office.

I'm totally sitting barefoot at my desk right now. Which is probably the only thing keeping me from getting hypothermia or pneumonia or whatever things you get from being soaked in cold water.



I'm also quite certain that this is the first time in my 20+year softball career that practice has been called on account of snow.

Which would be an interesting novelty if it wasn't sending me into panic mode because our first set of games is NEXT SATURDAY and I've only had one practice with the whole team so far. I had one practice IN THE RAIN because: desperate times, desperate measures, etc, but only four girls showed up.

Ugh. Nature, we're going to have a Serious Discussion about this when I get home.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Big Three

Right about the time I was waxing poetic about Nicole's Green Smoothie recipe (still my fave), I decided to make some big small changes. Wait, that sounds like an oxymoron, right? Nope.

I decided I was going to finally get healthy, one baby step at a time.

I suck at change. I suck especially bad at big, sweeping change. So it would be logical to assume that incremental change is a natural remedy for that, right? HAHA, you're funny. I get really impatient waiting for things to happen. So basically, I suck at making any sort of improvements to my life because I get intimidated big change and I get annoyed by small change. Such is the weird way my brain works.

But I'd had enough. I'd had more than enough and I was willing to try something new.

First things first - I started counting calories and tracking my food. I was so burned out from Weight Watchers that I swore up and down that I was never going to track my food again, it was tedious and annoying and all sorts of other sucky things. HOWEVER. I needed to accomplish a couple of things, and this was the best way to do it. First, I needed to pay attention to what I was shoving in my mouth. Second, I needed to give myself a measurable goal. Third, well, tracking points on WW, while sucktastic, worked. I lost 32 pounds before I let myself go. Calories are infinitely easier to track because they don't require some fancypants formula to figure out, which was often difficult to do because not all of the variables are always listed or easy to find. Calories, though - calories are the easiest thing to find. The only math they require is matching to your serving size. And with using the database in MyFitnessPal and the corresponding app (it has a barcode scanner! it's awesome!), it's easy peasy. So much easier than WW ever was, and I don't even mind doing it. Am I going to do it forever? No. But I'm going to do it right now while I figure out my diet (diet as in "what I eat" not as in "I'm on a diet") and until I get much closer to my goal weight. I like stats and numbers and measurable progress.

Second things second - I'm slowly weaning myself onto more of a whole foods diet. I'm not going vegetarian and definitely not vegan, but I'm trying to eat less processed foods and more "real" foods. Despite being very wary of the health session leader who was trying to brainwash us all into a vegan diet on the first session, I was very intrigued at incorporating more beans and greens and other proteins and whole grains and all sorts of things that I've always sort of just ignored because they were fancy and expensive and I wouldn't know what to do with a bag of dry quinoa if you gave it to me, free. I bought a couple cookbooks (I always buy cookbooks. I love buying cookbooks. I rarely use said cookbooks, however, because: Pinterest.) Instead of being sad over giving up all the fatty, crappy foods that I used to eat, I was intrigued by all the possibilities of the "other half" of the grocery store.

I'm not even going to try to move to a full plant-based diet. I like yogurt and cheese and ice cream (except ice cream doesn't really like me back so I've kind of had to jump on the frozen yogurt train) and red meat and corn (hi, I'm from Iowa) and carbs, oh sweet bananagasm, I love carbs. (I don't know if a plant-based diet excludes carbs, so that might be an irrelevant add-on.) But it's kind of fun, grocery shopping now - I compare labels and I always make the best choice possible for whatever item I'm buying. Sometimes it just means buying a different package with less ingredients, but it's kind of fun to start substituting out old, crappy products for new, better-for-you products. And I'm giving whole grain pasta another chance - I used to hate the texture of it compared to "regular" pasta, but you know what? I like it now. Weird, right? And I'm finding new recipes (I have this kick-ass black bean salsa recipe that I've been meaning to post) and even some quick, easy things for during the week. I've noticed that over the last few weeks, I haven't really had any meat at all during the week, and it was probably a month before I even noticed this trend. I don't miss it.

This is not to say that I'm jumping ship on my old habits completely. I'm a busy lady, and sometimes convenience will simply win by nature of being convenient. Sometimes, you have to throw a frozen something or other in the microwave, or eat whatever you can grab at a gas station or whatever is being served at the restaurant you've found yourself at. I'm not going to beat myself up too badly over it. I'm doing better 90% of the time, and that's a tally in the "win" column, as far as I'm concerned.

However, the thing that gives me the most hope that this is all going to stick? My tastes are changing. A lot of stuff that I used to eat doesn't even sound good anymore. When I was visiting my sister in the hospital after the birth of the Cutest Nephew Ever, her friends picked up some fast-food Italian for everyone, and I took a pass in favor of a wrap from Super Target - and when their food arrived, it just looked so unappetizing to me, completely unappealing. I did steal a breadstick though. Because some things are sacred. But it's not just fast food... scarfing down a piece of cake or snacking on cookies... meh. It's easier to say no. I'm just not as interested anymore. (I mean, don't get me wrong, I love baked goods like people love, well, baked goods, I guess, but: moderation.) I've also kind of quit drinking. Not entirely - I'll have some wine from time to time and a cocktail here and there, but it's something else I don't miss. (Doesn't hurt that my tolerance is shot and I get tipsy after maybe three-quarters of a drink anymore. I AM GETTING OLD AND IT IS BECOMING OBVIOUS.)

Third things thirdly, I started exercising again. I tried to get back to TKD (made it twice before I disappeared again) and did some indoor circuit/strength training, and I borrowed the BF's elliptical machine a few times when I couldn't swing anything else. Jillian and I did battle a couple times. It wasn't much, but I was piecing together something resembling regular physical activity.

But then something magical happened: the temperatures picked up a bit and the SNOW MELTED and outside was fair game again. The BF and I dusted off our bikes a couple weeks ago (before it got all freakishly cold again) and went jogging a couple times. He's been busy this week and I decided to try going by myself last Sunday. It took me a while to find my pace - I'm awful at keeping my pace without a running partner, which is maybe why I was so bad at it before. But I managed to run 7 minutes without stopping. Not great, but not bad. On Monday, I decided to hold softball practice even though it was chilly and RAINING (I'm still mad at you, Nature) and I only had 4 girls show up, but it was fun. On Tuesday, it was cold (I think my car said 39 degrees when I pulled up to my house) but I decided to just suck it up and bundle up and hit the path anyway, because: I needed to keep my momentum going. I made it 12 minutes without stopping. On Wednesday, I had book club and wine and there was no exercise to be had.


On Thursday, I had a banner day. First, I went to circuit training, which I hadn't done for quite a while. And since it was the first glorious day we'd had in weeks, I got home and immediately grabbed my stuff and headed for the park where I've been running. (Ok, jogging. Whatever.) I initially set my goal at ten minutes and then yelled at myself because that was a step backward - despite the fact that I'd already worked out, surely I could get 15 minutes?

I made it twenty.

My personal record was thirty-two minutes, during last October's Color Run. As I was trodding along, I was thinking about this. Wouldn't it be cool if I could say "I'm halfway to my PR already, and it's only April" or "I'm only 10 minutes off my PR..." and more importantly, I kept repeating the mantra that had gotten me through the Color Run: It does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop. I decided to shoot for twenty and made it. If I hadn't done the circuit training earlier, I maybe could have made it even longer. I was feeling good and the weather was great. And I had my fancy little wireless Walkman thing that I randomly got as a Klout perk (apparently Klout is still a thing, who knew? I also got some strawberry Tic Tacs, so that was cool), that I kind of love and hate at the same time (I hate earbuds because they don't stay in my ears - I spend my entire walk to the park futzing with the headphones to try to make them stay), but it was nice to have music again since my little iPod shuffle has been eaten by my apartment.

Thanks, Sony!

(I had to go to the grocery store after this because I was out of stuff for my lunches, and I told myself I could have a reward for doing so well. I ended up buying myself a mango. A MANGO. Instead of ICE CREAM. I feel like this is rather significant.) (Also, I'm kind of obsessed with mangoes. Mangoes, peaches, raspberries. Mix those together in any form and I'll eat it without hesitation.) (Mangoes + Peaches make sense, Peaches + Raspberries make sense... I'm not sure I've ever seen Mangoes + Raspberries put together, though. Maybe I'll need to invent something and try that out.) (DIGRESSION ALERT.)

The other significant thing about Thursday was that I finally weighed myself after all of this mindful healthier eating and exercising: I have lost nine pounds.

I knew some of it had come off, because my clothes were starting to fit a little better and I thought my stomach was starting to look a little flatter, but I didn't realize I'd lost that much. When I started this whole fitness project, I was back to my heaviest weight from before Weight Watchers even. I restarted my FitnessPal account on March 12, and I didn't weigh myself again until April 25. Just barely over a month, and I've made what I consider to be significant progress.

I really have no intention of posting about this regularly; I'll check in from time to time with progress, but it's not going to be my focus. I have absolutely no authority on posting about health, I'm totally just winging it

I'm maybe posting this to brag a little bit (cause it feels awesome!), but also to have some record of how I'm feeling right now so when I finally hit the point where I'm starting to be frustrated and discouraged, I can look back and remember that, hey, this feels pretty good.