Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year of Failure (but I'm OK with that)

2010 is coming to a close already.  How the hell did that happen?  Was I asleep?  Did I forget?  Wasn't I paying attention?

I am still reeling that June is over, and here it is, almost January.   No wonder I can't keep up with blogging.  I am losing time.  I would like to blame it on alien abductions, but the fact is I am spending too much time thinking about doing things instead of doing them.

I had no resolutions for 2010.  It wasn't that I didn't want to improve my life, myself, or the world around me.  I just got lazy and never wrote anything down.  I blame this for my lack of accomplishment.  Therefore, I am not only writing down my resolutions for 2011, but I am posting them publicly.  Maybe I can shame myself into following through.

MY 10 RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011:

  • Resolution 1: I will get in shape.  This means I have to work out, and eat better.  There will be no "diet", because we all know what happens when I try to do THAT.  And while you might think that my goal is based on the fact that if my hips get any bigger, they may need their own area code, the real reason is that I don't want to die climbing mountains in Nepal.  I gotta be ready for 2012.
  • Resolution 2: There will be no cigarettes in 2011.   Yes.  I cheated.  And then I cheated again.  And then it stopped feeling like cheating.  I never got back to the pack-a-day smoking that I was at before I "quit", but that doesn't change the fact that I have been lying by omission.  I have been smoking again, and every pack is my "last one".  I will stop being stupid.
  • Resolution 3: I will run a marathon.  Why the hell would I want to do this?  Well, because I wish I could.  Simple as that.  I am not trying to Boston Qualify, or finally, after thirty-four and a half years of life one-up my brother at ANYTHING, or you know, some other ridiculously petty reason, but seriously.  I am tired of seeing people running and being jealous.  I dream about running on a regular basis (a bit like flying dreams), and I want to be able to do it.  BQ-ing or running faster than my older brother would just be gravy.  Also, I said I would, and I don't want a repeat of 2010's races.
  • Resolution 4: I will learn more about photography.  I enjoy taking pictures to no end, but I don't know what the hell I am doing.  I need to delve more into the mysteries of film development, so I can add alchemy to my list of accomplishments.  Because film is magic.
  • Resolution 5:  I will draw more.  And paint.  Because I don't know why I stopped.
  • Resolution 6: I will write a novel.  Seriously.  I have everything I need to do this, except the drive to actually do it.  And a story. And a way to start.  And characters.  I would also like to illustrate it.  And get published.  And be famous.
  • Resolution 7:  I will hike the AppalachianTrail.  And maybe the Pacific Crest.  And the Continental Divide Trail.  Basically, I think it would be nice to spend the year backpacking, which would play nicely into resolution 1.
  • Resolution 8: I will become independently wealthy. Seriously, why can't this be a goal?  Is a winning Powerball ticket too much to ask?  Well, no more excuses.  You can't win if you don't play.
  • Resolution 9: I will prepare for the zombie apocalypse.  Why don't I have a plan in place already?
  • Resolution 10:  I will learn to move things with my mind.  I have always wanted to do this.  I need to start now.  Also, learn to start fires with my brain because pyrokinesis would be dead useful backpacking.  And maybe learn to fly.  Not sure on that one.  That might be cheating.
The trick with resolutions, I think, is to do things that you want to do anyway, things that are within your limits.

I am pretty excited about 2011, mostly because I am pretty excited to be alive.  This is going to be awesome.

So how about you?  Do you have any New Year's resolutions?


    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    Argument Against a Real Christmas Tree

    Last night I went to the annual Solstice Tree Burning party.

    Last year's tree was successfully consumed by flames in less than three minutes.  For reals.  I have pictures to prove it.  

    The anticipation was unbearable.

    Fireworks were added to the bottom...

    And then it's off!

    And the fire shoots into the sky.

    Hopefully none of those helicopters that have been flying overhead all evening will notice.

    Hopefully the power lines overhead don't melt.

    Hopefully the figure in the fire doesn't decide to come out and burn us all.

    Hopefully I am not crazy for thinking this is amazingly beautiful.

    Hopefully the sparks don't catch the house, neighbors' house, etc, on fire.


     
    In an astonishing short time, it dies out.


    And like that, it's gone.

    Also, for the record, my hair smells like a forest fire today.

    Friday, December 17, 2010

    Am I Really Hearing This?

    I forgot my headphones at work.  I also forgot to charge my mp3 player.

    It isn't necessarily that I want to listen to music or what have you...  It's the "drowning out of my coworkers" that I'm looking for.

    It was bad enough when a few months back I got to listen to monologue about Twilight... through the eyes of a 50-odd year old male engineer.  Seriously, dude.  You are thinking about this WAY too much.

    Or when I overheard another coworker talk to her boss in a not quiet voice about how she had to leave for the day to get her kids because her husband just got a DUI at 2:30 in the afternoon.  Seriously.  Do you understand the concept of "inside voice"?  Really.  I don't want to know that this is his third DUI, or that he was supposed to be at work. 

    So yesterday, I was calmly placing orders, calmly fixing problems, calmly writing "You're a freaking idiot" emails in corporate-ese, and calmly cussing out my computer when it locked up every 15 minutes, and all of a sudden I heard out of nowhere, "Well, you know, his parents were murdered."

    Am I supposed to ignore this?

    At that moment, my boss called.  Crap!  It was time for our weekly one on one meeting.  Having a boss in another state is kind of awesome in the sense that it's almost impossible for them to micromanage you, but they don't completely forget you exist.  Once a week we touch base and I tell him nothing is on fire and he tells me I haven't been fired yet, and then we go on our separate merry ways.

    I may have been a little distracted when he called this week.  If someone was recording just my side of the conversation, it would have gone something like this:

    "Uh, huh?" I said, "Yeah. Sorry, what? Oh. OK.  Um. Yes.  No, nothing to report. Sure, I can do that. OK, have a good one."  This was one of the shorter conversations we have had.

    I have no idea what the other side of the conversation sounded like.  I was desperately trying to overhear more about this whole MURDER thing.

    After my boss hung up, I had a moment of panic.  What did I just agree to?  When I tried to recall anything, my brain went back to the little snippets I did remember.

    Me, sitting on my desk trying not to knock any pictures off the wall, or clunk my head on the overhanging cabinet,  trying to hear the murdery conversation over the cubicle wall.

    "...he was raised by...." mumble mumble mumble, "...it is really a pretty tragic story, and he was obviously messed up by..."...mumble..."...yeah, he saw them die..."...another person speaking inaudibly... "...well, he didn't have to worry about money, his father was a billionaire..."

    I'll admit, sometimes I am a little dense.  But in my defense I was trying so hard to hear the conversation, I wasn't really processing what I was hearing.

    And then it clicked.

    Because then I head the word, "Gotham".

    Dude was talking about Batman.  All serious like.

    I may have even blushed.

    At that moment, someone walked by the entrance to my cubicle, and I tried to shift my awkward sitting position into a yoga pose.  I was totally stretching, not eavesdropping.  He did a double-take, but didn't stop.  He was walking over to talk to my cube neighbor about Iron Man 2.

    What is it about large corporations that make grown men talk about cartoons?

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Nothing Says "Christmas" like a Cactus Wearing a Santa Hat

    So, we flew to Phoenix for a short holiday visit.  Seems like I end up in sunny Arizona around the holidays every year.  It's always nice to enjoy 75 degree weather for a day or two.



    Christmas in Phoenix reminds me of being a kid.  And insects.  And scorpions.  And thorns on everything. And Bad Santa.  And aliens (my brother's new house is out a ways, and as we drove through the dark desert to get there, I knew that there were are totally aliens out there watching us and deciding what to probe).  And rattlesnakes.  And dirt that wants to kill you.

    Yes.  I said dirt.

    Obviously, when the settlers came here, they were cracked out, or hiding from the law or something, because I can't imagine what they were thinking.  "I know, let's go hang out in a place where the frickin' DIRT will kill you."

    And they're PROUD of this.  We actually passed by a subdivision that was called "Terra Vista", which I am pretty sure translates to "Dirt View".

    When I was a kid, my grandma told me I shouldn't dig around it the dirt or I would catch something called "Valley Fever".  I just assumed it was some kind of illness from breathing in more dust than air.  It wasn't until about a year ago, the last time I was down in Phoenix, that I learned that it is actually a mold that grows in your lungs and can somehow get into your nervous system.  It's in the dirt.

    I'm not sure what happens next, but I am pretty sure that you become a zombie. Obviously.

    I base this on the creepy ant mold mushroom thing I saw on Planet Earth.  No, seriously, it's scientific.  And it TURNS THEM INTO ZOMBIES FIRST. (In case you missed it the first two times, here's the LINK).  This is for real, people.  Zombie ants.  And it's caused by mold.

    Picture of zombie ant from the above link.


    And then we have Phoenix.

    With mold in the dirt that GETS INTO YOUR LUNGS AND CAN MOVE TO YOUR BRAIN. Am I the only one that thinks this is a big conspiracy?

    "That ain't your grandpa, Sonny, that there's a zombie."

    It looks to me like the zombie apocalypse has already begun.  And, much like my theories about alien invasions and conspiracies about the Illuminati and Freemasons, even if they ARE true, no one noticed or cared, so it probably doesn't matter.

    Anyway, happy early Christmas.  Here is a picture of a saguaro cactus wrapped in lights.


    Monday, December 13, 2010

    No Nekked Pictures

    Dear TSA,

    I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that going through airport security was so easy.  I mean, after all the fuss, I expected there to be some drama.

    Where were the long lines I was promised?  We walked right up to the security checkpoint.  The entire process took maybe 10 minutes.

    And did I get screened? Well, I guess.  But I didn't get the backscatter thingy, and I didn't get groped.  I pay taxes!  And then I get cheated out of using the expensive equipment that my tax dollars paid for!

    I had so many great one-liners planned, too,  and I never had the chance to use them.  I even "accidentally" forgot to take off my watch.  How could you not catch that?  What if I was a terrorist?  What if I was a big jerkoff anti-American douchebag or something?  How could you miss that?

    Well, let me tell you.  I don't feel safe.

    I was promised safety.  I was promised delays and the sacrifice of my dignity.

    Not to mention, I am pretty flipping disappointed that there are no naked pictures of me.  I thought it was finally going to happen.  Naked pictures. Of me.  It would be like I was one of the cool kids.  Like I was part of the 21st century.  Now, that dream is over.

    Shape up, TSA.  You can't advertise the complete destruction of my rights as a human being, and then not deliver.

    Next time I travel, I expect results.

    Regards,
    Leauxra

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    'Tis the Season to Set Something on Fire and Collect the Insurance

    ... because nothing says Christmas like a burning tree in the living room.  Maybe that's just me.

    But I am feeling all filled with the holiday spirit.  Probably because I haven't forgotten to send out Christmas cards yet (I still have at least a week to buy some and mail them), I still have a week or two to start my Christmas shopping (I will try not to think about last year when due to a series of miscommunications, I ended up at my brother's house on Christmas Eve WITHOUT ANY PRESENTS to give anyone), and I haven't thought about murdering anyone for like... hours, at least.

    Yep.  I am practically dripping with holiday cheer.

    So last night I finally got my early Christmas present to myself.

    I didn't get a fancy camera.  I didn't get an iPod (still).  I didn't get the AC fixed on my car.  I didn't get the $400 sweater that I want for some reason.  I didn't even get a pet octopus (someday).

    Nope.  What I got for Christmas was my two back teeth.

    Horray for dental work during the holidays!

    And here's to having two pretty new crowns, the ability to chew food on the right side of my mouth, and being able to drink cold liquids!

    So, yeah.  Still not feeling it, I will admit.  But two awesome things are transpiring that I hope will make things all better:


    1. It turns out that this year, for the first time ever, I don't have to work during the company furlough.  I will have 11 days IN A ROW where I don't have to do anything.  Not only that, but I won't have to go to the creepy office all by myself.  No cold dark lonely holiday cubicle for me!  How freaking awesome is that!?
    2. I am headed to Phoenix for the weekend!  Nothing says "Christmas" like palm trees and saguaro cacti (also, go me for being able to spell saguaro on the first try!)

    Now all I have to do is work all day, and survive the new TSA screening at DIA.


    Here's to not stabbing anything!

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Healthy as a Horse... or Something

    Something I originally envisioned when I quit smoking was that when I craved a cigarette, I would take a walk or do some jumping jacks or something.  This would also help with the whole "not gaining weight" thing. 

    I am less active now than I was while smoking.

    Here is an example of my workouts since quitting:

    • Monday:  Went to work.  Walked from my car to my desk (about 200 yards).  Walked down to the cafeteria twice (about .25 miles each way) because I needed something.  Walked back to my car (about 200 yards).  Walked from the car to the couch (maybe a few hundred steps).  Walked to bed (30 feet).
    • Tuesday: (see Monday)
    • Wednesday: (see Monday)
    • Thursday: (see Monday)
    • Friday: (see Monday)
    • Saturday:  took a slow hour long walk so I could play with my pinhole camera.
    • Sunday:  Pretty much parked myself at a table all day.

    Basically I have gone from averaging 12,000 steps a day for most of the summer (I had a pedometer, so I know), to The Human Slug.


    I knew was getting out of shape.

    I haven't been hiking.  I haven't been running.  I have barely been walking.  I avoid the Wii Fit because I don't want to be scolded for not playing in so long, and because I might have put on a pound.  And yes, the Wii Fit will scold me, and possibly make fun of me.  The Wii Fit is an asshole, by the way.

    Anyway, work had this cool biometric screening thing.  It is completely voluntary, but they give you a $200 a year discount if you complete it on your health insurance. 

    They checked my BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose... basically a whole shit-ton of stuff I had never had tested before.  I also had to fill out a questionnaire, and get my life rated by my insurance company.

    Last year, I scored a 72 out of 100.  Probably because I smoked.

    This year, the computer told me how proud it was of me for quitting, and gave me a 98 out of 100 for being healthy, and a low risk.

    I sat at my desk being all proud of the (completely efortless on my part) healthy assessment.  Then I got to thinking...

    The other night, the boyfriend and I actually got tired of watching TV.  Instead of reading or, you know, talking or something,  we tried playing hacky sack.  In the basement.  With the drop ceiling.  It seemed like a good idea, anyway.

    A couple of things I learned:
    1. I am super-duper un-graceful.
    2. If I was playing D&D, my dexterity score would be like 2.
    3. I improved pretty dramatically within about 15 minutes, but was still embarrassingly bad, and probably funny to watch.
    4. It was fun
    5. I totally got winded in 15 minutes.
     So here is my question: 

    How can an insurance company think I am healthy and in shape and a low risk if I can't play with a hacky sack without getting worn out?  What's next? Darts is going to be rated as a cardio exercise?

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Does this Make My Photography Look Fat?

    I am not a real photographer.

    I mean, I take pictures, and sometimes they're purdy and all, but I don't actually know that much about the actual mechanics of photography.

    I hate not knowing shit, but in this case, I have been too lazy to do much about it.  Seriously, someone talks about F-stops or aperture, and I am all, "Yeah, uh, sure.  I take pictures, too."

    This is particularly pathetic because I worked for a photographer for like 2 years.  In my defense, I worked in his gallery, and didn't talk to him much about anything to do with photography, just sales (or lack of sales), his family, his favorite bar, and his favorite place to photograph.  He also used this crazy nice and expensive digital camera that cost more than he paid me in three months.  This left me thinking that in order to be good at photography, you have to be rich, and possibly own a Porsche.

    Anyway, I decided that I should rectify my ignorance in a typical "me" fashion:  A ton of half-cocked experiments and partially started projects spread over the better part of a year (so far).

    My first "project" was to start taking pictures using "film".  "Film" is a magical substance that you can buy at Walgreens or a photography shop for a few dollars.  Please note:  you can't use film in a digital camera.

    After no research and some osmosis by hanging out with actual photographers, I have learned all about the photography process, and I am now imparting these secrets to you.  Or you can Google it, which would probably be smart as I am a notorious untrustworthy source.

    The first thing you need to do, is obtain a "film camera".  You will not be able to find this incredible mechanical device outside specialty retailers and pawn shops.  Or online, I guess, if you want to take the fun out of looking.

    I went the "cheap" route, and borrowed my dad's old 35mm.  This camera is a Ricoh that was produced sometime in the late 1970's, and brings back memories of Dad being "artistic", while we all posed, trying not to let our smiles slip or looks forced while he adjusted the stupid thing which always seemed to take forever.  This camera probably weighs about nine hundred million bajillion pounds, or at least if feels like it if you are carrying it all day on the little strap over your shoulder.  It is made of metal and glass and doesn't have plastic parts.  You can tell something is amazing when it isn't made out of plastic.

    Anyway, he hadn't used the it in several years, so he let me borrow it.  This is an even better option than eBay or pawn shops because it's free, and I am cheap.

    The next thing you must obtain the miraculous film.  To do this, you must be prepared for an epic adventure and plan to fight against the future and technology.  Fortitude is a must.

    There are two ways of obtaining film.

    You can go online and buy some, which means you have to know what the hell you are looking for.  There are a lot of options.   It's also kind of boring to use this method, and you have to wait like 5 days to get it.  Since I am an impatient person, I chose to use the second option:

    Find a retailer that actually still stocks film.  Not only do they have to stock it, but you have to check that the film they have hasn't expired, and it isn't sitting in the front window where it'a exposed to the afternoon sun, or in the back of the store by the heater.  Film uses crazy alchemical processes that turn chemicals into photographs, so it is delicate and apparently old film will lead to madness.

    I went to Walgreens, which also leads to madness.

    With some trepidation, I entered a nearby store.

    Walgreens makes me think of expensive cosmetics, old food, As Seen on TV stuff, DIY broken joint repair kits, holiday junk, and medicine.  Medicine because you are sick.  Medicine because you're freaking contagious.  Walgreens = germs.  I am constantly worried that I will contract some horrible liquifying death when I enter.

    Overcoming fear is what makes us heros.  It is not for the faint of heart.  Or maybe it is, because they probably sell heart medicine, too, but that's not the kind of faint heartedness I am talking about.

    Once you enter the Walgreens, you must not be distracted or overwhelmed by the abundance of crap stuffing the aisles.  And the aisles are stuffed with so many things.

    Your best method of navigating this labyrinth is to stay on an outside wall.  The photo desk is usually on the outside, and keeping this single minded goal in mind will lead to success in your quest.

    Once you reach the photo desk, check to make sure they have a lab in the back.  It will be a huge monstrous machine that smells kinda funny.  Likely, there will also be bins with strange letters on the outside and secret packages inside.  Don't go back and look at them, or the Walgreensians will attack.

    Now, start looking left and right.  There may be islands of stuff in the way, but it will be there.

    The film.

    It will beckon with a soft golden glow indicating you have reached your destiny.  Your destiny's name is Kodak.

    Unless you are a wizard or alchemist, you need to make sure that the film you get says it is "C-41" somewhere on the box.  This indicates that Walgreens can process it.  If it doesn't have the combination of C, 4, and 1, in that order, you will have to develop this yourself.  Which is fine if you have a deep relationship with the Dark Arts.

    Last, you must "purchase" your film at the register.  If you skip this step, the local authorities will probably hunt you down and embarrass you, and probably cause you some inconvenience and loss of equity.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

    I would recommend not making eye contact, touching, or breathing in the general direction of anyone else in line.  Avoid physical contact.  After you leave, wash your entire body in bleach.

    Now that you have obtained the film, it is time to use it.

    If you don't know how to load your film, I can't help you.   Suffice to say, you need to put the film in the camera in such a way that you will be able to wind it, and then close it.  Do not open the back of the camera once the film has loaded or you will let the magic out.  Getting the film out can only be done after you have taken the pictures, and rewound the film back into the canister so that the evil cleansing sunlight doesn't get to it.

    Finally, go take you some pictures.

    The camera I borrowed has an internal light meter, so all I had to do was figure out how to get the little pointer thing to the middle of the meter by turning dials at random, focus, and click.

    And yes, I took it back to Walgreens to have them complete the rituals and incantations to make the film into photographs.

    Here is an example of the result:


    I was pretty happy taking pictures in this method for  a while.  I even dabbled in some self-development with the assistance of an alchemic novate that I know.  But, like so many things, I lost interest.

    I decided at some point, though, that while I can get a reasonable facsimile of a photograph, I still don't know what the crap I am doing.  I decided to simplify.

    I created a pinhole and put it in place of a lens on one of my cameras.  To do this, I glued some black cardboard together that I think may have come from an old picture frame, put a hole in the center, cut our a piece of an old beer can and made a really small hole in the middle of that, made a little ring around the ensemble with some black construction paper, then taped the whole thing to a camera sans lens with masking tape.



    I then loaded some 400 black and while film, attached it to a tripod, and went for a walk on the bike trail.

    It even kind of looks like I know what I am doing.



    The bridge is looking up from a canal towards the bike path looks all mysterious.  On some of the longer exposures, I got some light leaks, I think from the view finder.  Next time I will cover it.



    And that is how you make modern small-city America look like the early 1900's.

    See?  I told you film is magic.



    Friday, December 3, 2010

    What's this New-Fangled MP3 Stuff?

    So, I recently purchased a brand spanking new computer.

    After spending the first month or so playing with my photos, I decided it was high time to start migrating my CD's to iTunes so I could actually listen to them. I took the plunge to "go digital".

    Yes, I know most people ripped their CD's sometime around 1998. But I just wasn't motivated.

    My decision was prompted by the 6 disc changer in the trunk of my car that stopped reading discs. I have been stuck commuting with a radio and a tape player. And while listening to my old tapes might be amusing (Faith No More, anyone?), I would have to find them first, and listening to NPR gets depressing after a while.

    Yes, I have a tape deck in the car, you want to fight about it?

    I went to Radio Shack and bought a little tape to audio-in converter. Dude, stop making fun of me and my 1990 technology. And yes, they still make them. And sell them. At Radio Shack. Which is still in business.

    Anyway.

    I was ripping my CD's, and feeling the ghost of music past.

    It turns out I the majority of CD's that I thought I had, I don't, and 90% of the albums that I currently own were produced pre-1999, and quite a few of them are my "B-List" music... you know, the stuff you buy for one song, or because you liked something else the band did, or someone recommended it to you, and you listened to it maybe once all the way through before putting it away and forgetting it? Yeah, lots of those.

    Now, I did lose a shit-ton of music down in New Orleans in 2005 when Katrina decided to flood the house I was living in with 2 feet of water and I somehow left my CD books under the coffee table.

    Did you know that video cassettes can survive a house that is closed up in Louisiana in August for 6 weeks with a bunch of water, DVD's, and most books will survive, but burnt CD's will lose the shiny coating, and store purchased CD's will actually grow mold between the layers of plastic? Well. Now you do.

    It doesn't, however, explain why there is no "post 2005" music. Did I just stop listening to anything? What was I doing all this time? And how did I survive so long with no Oingo Boingo?

    It was around then that I realized I suck at music. And also, I have little or no taste. AND. I also needed to expand my musical horizons. I mean, I have been listening to essentially the same 5 CD's on rotation for the last 5 years.

    Tom Waits: Mule
    Squirrel Nut Zippers: Hot
    Doc and Merle Watson: Remembering Merle
    Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals
    Leadbelly: Midnight Special
    Alabama 3: Exile on Coldharbour Lane

    Seriously, no wonder my mom thinks I have a split personality.

    The remaining music fits into five categories:
    1. Music that was COMPLETELY AWESOME 10 years ago and have no interest in now (there is a lot of techno and soundtracks)
    2. Girly bands like the Cranberries, the Cardigans, Poe, Garbage, and No Doubt
    3. Heavy Metal and German Industrial bands (like, how the fuck did I end up with 6 Einsturzende Neubauten CDs? I mean, really?)
    4. Mix CD's that are unlabeled and were presumably gifts from friends. Maybe.
    5. And shit that I have no idea why I have it. Where did they come from? Am I a thief? If so, why wouldn't I steal bands that I like? I even came across a CD that I obviously found on the side of the road or something because it was BROKEN IN HALF and all SCRATCHED UP, and guess what? I never in my life bought the Beastie Boys, License to Ill, even if they are kinda cool in a high school way, and WHY THE HELL DID I SAVE A BROKEN CD?
    And what's missing?

    How about everything that I was looking for? Or... I am not sure what I was looking for, but it isn't there.

    So I ripped all these CD's, even though I was pretty sure I hated all the music, and I STILL didn't have anything to listen to. I was starting to wonder if all that awesome music I use to listen to might actually be on tape. Or imaginary.

    So. I decided to download a couple of albums from iTunes. FINE, then.

    So now I listen to a rotation of Boingo, Insanity, Mozart's Requiem Mass, Muse, The Resistance, and a little Cat Stevens.

    I should be set for another 4 or 5 years, I guess.

    Yep.

    I suck at music.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Running in the Freaking Cold

    This year, we decided to do something a little different for Thanksgiving. We went for a run. Because, obviously, something is very wrong with us.

    So, do you remember that whole "I'm-going-to-die-on-my-200-mile-relay-race" thing last August, and that "10-K-that-about-did-me-in" thing back in May? That whole "What-am-I-a-freaking-idiot?" thing because I keep signing up for races that I HAVE NO INTENTION OF TRAINING FOR?

    Well, fuck it. I signed up for a 5K on Thanksgiving. And guess what? I didn't train. In fact, I don't think I've actually run more than a few steps since August. Because I am just that awesome. And, I figured that I could probably crawl a 5K, so there really wasn't a whole lot of pressure this time.

    There are a couple of things that I should probably mention:

    1. I really really really want to be able to run, but I constantly hurt myself, and don't run. But I really do want to. The why is partly because it's fun, and partly because I am pretty sure as a runner I will have a better chance of surviving the zombie apocalypse that will happen any minute now. I just have some kind of mental block about actually going out and, you know, running. But I think about it a lot.

    2. I am pretty badly out of shape at the moment.

    3. Until Thanksgiving, we were experiencing a nice long pleasant Indian summer.

    4. On Thanksgiving morning, it was 14 FREAKING DEGREES outside when I got up.

    5. Oh, and I didn't quit smoking until the day AFTER Thanksgiving.

    6. I might also mention that I considered titling this post "The Turkey Trots" but figured it would imply more pooh than necessary, as this post is not actually about pooh.

    Anyway, because I really wish I were a runner (but don't run that much), I read a lot of running blogs. One thing I have noticed is that all these runners post their running statistics off to one side, or at the end of a race, only without my helpful explanation. I just had to figure that shit out on my own.

    So here it is, my AMAZING 5K feat:

    This was a PR for me (that's personal record to you) (shut up, I know it's obvious, but it wasn't obvious to me when I started reading these blogs, because I am an idiot). It's a PR for me because I have never actually run a 5k before (that would be 5 kilometers or about 3.1 miles) (no, I am not making fun of you, you might not know what a 5k is) (fine, be mad, I don't care) (OK, I do).

    My time was (drumroll) 39 minutes and 30 seconds.

    Um, yeah. Approximately 4.5 minutes faster overall than a brisk walk.

    So, my pace comes out to about 12 minute 45 second miles, or about 4.7 miles per hour. And yes, children and old people were passing me. And a guy pushing a stoller. And a guy in a wheelchair.

    I knew I should have gone barefoot. At least then I would have had an excuse. And probably frostbite.

    BUT. I will say that it put me in a spectacular mood all day, AND I realized that when I do run, I have to start slow and short, because my knees were tired all day after only 3 miles. And I am probably doing it wrong. But hey. At I did it.

    So, it should also be noted that I didn't take a single photo that day. Which is weird, because I always take pictures. The first 4 below I bought for $1 on the race website, and the last one was taken my a kind stranger on Chris's camera at the finish line.

    Dad looking all professional in his HD (as SEEN ON TV!) sunglasses:



    Chris and me: Running is hard!



    OK, running is hard, but also fun. We are both smiling here. Maybe it's because we are almost done. Oh, and hey, check out my shiny red Eddie Bauer coat. Remember when I bought it? At least I use it. And yes. It really is all that.


    And Ma, less than a minute behind Chris and me.



    Basically, we weren't the fastest, but I think we won.

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    More Moneys

    Look! I win! I haven't really posted anything since August! And before that, June! I am so awesome! I win! I win! I win!

    ...

    OK. Maybe "win" is too strong a word.

    It has been a rough couple of months. And it is all in my head. I went into summertime thinking, "Everything's cool, I don't hate my job, I have health insurance, I am going to get in shape, I am going to hike more, I am going to become internet famous, oh, and I am totally going to get a raise at work. Have you SEEN how awesome a job I do?"

    So... No. None of that.

    And while I didn't exactly EXPECT all of those things, I really really wanted them. Or, some of them. OK. The money part. I wanted a raise. And I kind of got one. It almost covers the increase in my health insurance rate at work from last year (but not this year), so I am almost making as much money as I did a year ago until January 1st, when I make less again.

    Basically, I want more money, but I want to work... less.

    The best way to do that would be to get a raise, and then not work at work because no one is here to see what I am doing. My boss is in Cali-FORN-ia. He'll never know. Probably.

    But that's the problem with high expectations... I end up being disappointed when things just don't work out how I dream they could be.

    And I have to work hard, and not get much in the way of compensation.

    And I have to work hard.

    And I have to work hard. DAMN. That's really the rub. I wouldn't mind making less money, if they didn't make me work so hard all the time. And if I didn't have to pretend to care.

    So anyway, I hatched a CUNNING SCHEME to make more money. But then I forgot it. Or didn't do it because I was lazy. Or kinda thought about doing it, but, you know, didn't. Pretty much how all of my projects go these days.

    But... since no one will just give me money for no reason, I have decided to sell some stuff I found. Don't you wish you could find some awesome stuff like this?

    __________________________________________________________________________
    CAR FOR SALE:



    It's a CLASSIC CAR! Sort of. You could fix it up! As a hobby!



    Only $6,000!!! (You must be willing to tow... also, to cut down the tree that is growing through it).***

    __________________________________________________________________________
    THIS HOUSE IS A FIXER UPPER, BUT WHAT A VIEW!



    Classic Log Cabin in the Woods! Only needs slight renovation!



    As an added bonus, it has a floor!



    This house MUST GO. I'm willing to part with it for the INSANE price of only $25,000! Don't miss this opportunity of a lifetime!***

    __________________________________________________________________________

    *** I don't actually own any of this stuff, but it's on public land, and since I am a member of the public, I should be able to sell it, right? Yeah? Well you're just jealous you didn't think of it first.

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    I'm a Quitter!

    Today I am working on not thinking about one thing. I am doing this by trying to fill up my brain and thinking about other things.

    So far, it only works kind of.

    OK. So. Deep breath. I should just spit it out. Get it over with. Maybe it's a little shameful.

    Ahem.

    For some fucked up reason I can't even fucking identify, I decided to give up my very favorite hobby of all time. I quit smoking.

    I feel a little bit like I have murdered a childhood friend. Sure, my buddy hated me and I hated him, and he was killing me slowly, with my permission, and he took and took and took money from me, and every time I tried to do other things I love like hiking and running and biking and that kind of thing, he would get in the way, that jealous bastard, and even now, he whispers to me, "it'll be different, this time, I promise," and I want to believe him even thought I freaking KNOW he's lying, the coward, bastard...

    Yes.

    So.

    A few weeks ago, I gave up drinking soda, as my diet Mountain Dew habit was getting silly. A couple weeks later, I started working towards being a vegetarian. Fuck all that. I am drinking a Mountain Dew AND a beer, and thinking about eating some freaking BEEF tonight... But I am not smoking.

    I reached the point where I have been smoking for half of my life. 17 freaking years.

    So. Sorry I can't be too funny, today.

    On the plus side, I may be posting more, as a way of distracting myself so I don't resurrect Mr. Smoking Habit.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    I Excel at Failure

    There are (no) excuses for not blogging.

    I am a fast writer. I barely proof read what I write. I just whip something out and hope to get a quick laugh. I started a blog, wrote for a little while, and then *poof*. I stopped. It's the story of my life.

    I was looking at my blog this morning and I realized I didn't post a single thing in the month of July, and it's already the third week of August.

    I am a bad bad blogger.

    I guess this means I am disappointing all 14 of my followers. I guess this means I will never make internet fame. I guess this means I fail. But by failing, maybe I win?

    I have excuses.

    I have reasons.

    Mostly... I just haven't gotten around to writing anything down. Also, I have been doing stuff in the "real world"... the one that doesn't require a keyboard. Most notably, I have been failing at all kinds of crazy things.

    So, I have decided to reveal the deep and dark thing that I like to call the "Leauxra Project Life Cycle", so if you want, you can be a failure just like me.

    THE OFFICIAL LEAUXRA PROJECT LIFE CYCLE:

    1. Decide you want to change something in your life, big or small, or that you want to start some kind of project. It doesn't matter what the project is. You can be trying to lose weight. You could be training for a race. You could be trying to do some kind of home improvement project, or even something as simple as getting your laundry done and clothing put away. It doesn't matter what it is, but there does have to be some kind of "end goal" in sight.

    2. Get very excited about how whatever it is you are going to do is going to TOTALLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE. For example, when I decided to sign up for the Bolder-Boulder last spring, I started training. I got all kinds of excited about how awesome it would be to run fast. I would totally lose weight just by using up my calories every day, and I would be in shape, too.

    3. Start daydreaming about how AWESOME life will be when you get to your goal, even though you have barely started whatever you are doing. Imagine the wonderful food you will have from the garden you just planted. This year, I planted strawberry and rhubarb roots to add to the two strawberry plants I already have that somehow survived the long winter without me doing anything for them.

    4. Spend more time dreaming about how AMAZING life will be once you finish, than actually doing anything to accomplish your goal. After I signed up for the Bolder-Boulder, but before I actually got going with any, you know, TRAINING, I also signed up for another race. It is called the Wild West Relay. It is a 12 person team race from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs, 200 miles long. It is split into 36 legs, and each person takes 3, for an average of about 16 miles each.

    5. Do not allow reality to seep in until it is too late. Gardens require water. Just so you know.

    6. Realize you are going to fail. I spent so much time planning and organizing for the Bolder-Boulder, I never did train for it. About a week out, I realized it was too late. I wasn't ready, and there was no way to BE ready before it started.

    7. Think about quitting, dropping out, selling the house, or just running away and becoming homeless so that you won't have to live with the shame of failing. Again. I did eventually water the dry dirt that was supposed to be my garden. It became wet dirt, AKA mud, but it didn't make everything spring magically back to life.

    8. Do some small thing around the house that you can complete. Laundry is good for that. It requires little effort, and minimal "paying attention". Generally, I fail at laundry, too. There is no where to put the clean things once I have washed, dried, and folded them, so I often dump the clean clothes on top of the dresser, and then I can pick up the dirty clothes from the floor and put them in the basket. This gives me a feeling of accomplishment, which leads to step 9.

    9. Have a sudden, overwhelming feeling of optimism. My dad used my muddy "garden" and put in some pumpkins and cucumbers so I didn't feel bad about it anymore. I went to the Bolder-Boulder with high hopes.

    10. Have your hopes come crashing down. (See FTW! Crawling Over the Finish Line).

    11. You will get through whatever you planned. It might be half-assed, but you will make it. You won't quit. All your dreams of being an Olympic marathon runner or living off of the produce in your garden will shrivel up and die, much like your garden.

    12. Relief. It's over. You don't have to think about it anymore. Drink some beer.

    13. Oh yeah. There is one more step. While you were all high at the beginning, other projects were created. Try not to think about them.
    So the Wild West Relay was a week and a half ago. I hadn't run all summer, and suddenly I was expected to pull my weight in a 200 mile relay race. I definitely had some excuses. I twisted my ankle coming down from Chasm Lake 4 weeks before the race (which was technically too late to start training, but at least I could have tried, if it didn't hurt to walk).



    Mostly, I was just busy.

    Doing, you know, stuff.

    I watched the first 4 seasons and started the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, that's an accomplishment...

    I spent a lot of time thinking I should start training, getting stressed out, and then not doing anything...

    But I did go. And I finished it, in what was probably the slowest run time in the history of the race.

    I even had a good time, and will never forget what it was like to run under the stars in south central Wyoming on a country road, awed by the beauty and wondering if I was going to be abducted by aliens, eaten by a mountain lion, or hit by a drunk driver and end up slowly dying in a ditch somewhere.

    But I survived. They even gave me a medal at the end:


    Mostly, I am super optimistic (probably just feeling relief), and want to DO things and stuff.

    Maybe next year, I can actually train for this race. And have a garden. And I will do my laundry every Monday, and get rid of clothes that I don't wear so I have room for everything. Next year's garden is going to be awesome.

    Maybe I just need more projects.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    What it's like to Climb a Mountain

    People often ask me what it's like to climb a mountain.

    Usually I hem and haw, and just say things like, "You just have to do it, it is totally worth it."

    I don't want to discourage anyone, or make them realize how desperately uncertain the whole deal is.

    In an act of random truthfulness, I have decided to give you an in-depth view of what you can expect to experience should you decide that you, too, want to climb a mountain.

    First of all, please realize, I never actually "climb" on mountains. I don't know how. I walk on them. Sometimes it is steeper than other times, but I don't use ropes, and I wear hiking boots. Cliff faces are appealing, but I am pretty sure that climbing up cliff faces would lead to my death, so I haven't tried it yet.

    1. You get up at a godawful hour because in the summer (which is the only time you can really do this without ropes), there is going to be a thunderstorm in the afternoon. This happens pretty much daily. So you want to give yourself enough time to go up, get to the top, and get back down below treeline before being zapped by lightning (which can be uncomfortable). Do not be lulled into a sense of ease when the sky is amazingly blue, and the forecast is for "severe clear". It will change.

    2. Get winded between your car and the trail head. This is the mountain telling you that it is going to spend the day trying to kill you.

    3. Walk for a bit. Realize the trail is uphill. It will be uphill all day, just so you know.

    4. Yes, you may feel like you are going to die.

    5. Stop for a snack, but don't get too comfortable. If you get too comfortable, it will be like starting over. For every second you stop, your brain will try to forget how freaking hard this is, and it will be that much worse when you get going again.

    6. I would recommend 20-30 second "photo op" breaks every time you start wheezing. This gives you an excuse to catch your breath without losing face.

    7. The trees may start getting shorter and leaning at odd angles that defy gravity. It will start to get even harder to breathe here, but who needs breath?

    8. Once you get past the point where trees can survive, you will notice strange little animals, pretty flowers, and snow on the ground at the end of June. Often, this snow will not melt all year. This is to remind you that hey, if even trees can't survive here, what the hell am I doing?

    9. You will submit to endless plodding over rocky terrain after even the grass stops growing. There will be little to no dirt here, just rocks that will attempt to turn your ankles, beat up your feet, and make you feel even more unstable than you should with the thin air.

    10. On average, if you don't do this enough, or you are just getting started for the season, you will go slower than you think you are going. I generally calculate a ridiculously slow rate of slightly slower than 1 mile per hour on the way up, and somewhere around 3 on the way back. If the top of the mountain is 6 miles away, plan on it taking 6 hours up, or 9 hours total. Often it will take 12. Just be warned.

    11. Consider turning back at every step. Think about maybe faking an injury so you can go home and stop torturing yourself. Possibly, you should cry silently behind your sunglasses. It might be tempting to smoke a cigarette. You will feel better for a minute, but it may not be the smartest thing to do. Resist if you can without killing anyone.

    12. You had better have enough water. If you run out on the way up, just go back. Plan on 2-3 liters minimum for 8 hours of walking. It seems like quite a bit, but you will need it or your head will explode.

    13. You will not need to go to the bathroom until there aren't any trees. Mountains like to embarrass you.

    14. The top will seem like a few hundred yards away for the last two to three hours of walking. There will be false summits, and everything is farther away than you think because you are moving slowly, and there is nothing to compare the rocks you see above to. They are not pebbles. They are boulders.

    15. Victory will be sudden. HOLY CRAP YOU MADE IT! People have different things they like to do here. Sign the log to prove they did it, take a nap, eat something, take a bazillion pictures. The view will be amazing. You will spend more time at the top when you plan.

    16. The clouds moving in make everything look magical. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. The clouds are like lure fish. They want to eat you. It will talk longer than you think to get below treeline. Remember how your brain tries to forget how hard everything is on your way up every time you stopped? Your brain will also think you are done, accomplished, and can relax now that you are at the top. Realize you are only halfway through the hike, distance wise. You are only about a fifth of the way though it, danger wise. Most accidents happen on the way down.

    17. Probably, the thunderstorm will catch up with you as you scramble down. Realize that this will suck. This might be accompanied by driving rain that will hit the backs of your legs hard enough to leave welts, and hail stones traveling at about 100,000,000 miles per hour and flying sideways.

    18. The return trip will pass in a haze of fear and pain. Going downhill for 6 miles is a bit harder than going uphill for 6 miles because you are more tired and it stresses your joints more. You will find yourself dreaming of the idyllic uphill climb from earlier.

    19. I would suggest taking breaks on the way back. Very few people do, and this part of the hike will turn into a death march.

    20. Quite suddenly, you will be at the car, and the ordeal will be over (assuming, of course, you didn't fall into a ravine, take a wrong turn, get eaten by a bear, struck by lightning, or any number of other dangerous things that can occur).

    21. In the days that follow, you will experience a strange bliss. And may wish to brag. Most of your pictures will be from the walk up and at the top. There will be little evidence of the tortuous trip back. The pain and desperation will fade, and all you will be able to think about is which mountain to tackle next.


    P.S. Keep in mind that if you are safe about the whole thing, you will probably fail more than you succeed when climbing mountains. As you become more experienced, this won't feel so much like "failure", but if you are honest, you are one.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Why do Bugs Keep Going into My Mouth?!?!?

    Dear Insects,

    I know that you guys outweigh the rest of the non-plant life-forms on this planet by like a billion bazillion times. I understand that you are an integral part of the food chain, that you break down rotten shit, that you provide all kinds of goods and services to the environment, and that we all benefit in some way from your very existence. Good for you.

    That said, I would like to ask you please please pretty please, stop flying into my mouth!

    It's one thing when you bite, sting, and bug the shit out of me. That's in your nature, I get it. You can't help being the brainless annoyances you are. A little repellent, and we can both go on our happy ways. You stop thinking I am food or a good place to hang out, and I stop squishing you messily.

    The problem occurs when you cross the line of basic decency.

    Just because I am out of breath, and panting through my mouth, does not mean that the warm moist confines of my mouth is an OK spot to hang.

    I'm just sayin'.

    I can't help it if I am cruising along on my bicycle and one of you flies straight down my throat. You have to be on the lookout, too.

    Help me to help you, insects, and I promise not to create a macabre collection of you all to hang on my wall.

    Regards,
    Laura

    P.S. This includes you, too, butterflies. Being pretty doesn't excuse you from taking responsibility for your actions.

    P.P.S. I am pretty sure you are all aliens, or possibly vectors for the zombie uprising, so I would really rather not hear from you again. Ever.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Putting the "DIE" back into "DIET"

    I noticed recently that I was developing a small pooch in the belly area. This made me very sad because I was fairly certain that the culprit was beer, and I love beer.


    Not one to dwell on sad feelings, I decided I would do something about it. I decided to GO ON A DIET (Insert scary music here, something like DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!).

    One problem I have with dieting is that it is all so freaking complex. You have your carbs, and your fats, and your sugars, and your glycemic index, etc, etc, etc. It is all stupid complicated and you pretty much have to become a nutritionist just to lose 10 pounds. It doesn't help that I find any food that isn't fried or coated in sugar extremely boring, so learning about all the foods I should be eating and never do is super low on my priority list. Everything changes every 5 years, so in reality, no one really knows what the shit they're talking about, anyway.

    In order to simplify things enough that I would actually follow my new diet, I decided I would go with the easiest to understand plan that I could come up with... calories in/calories out. If you want to lose weight, just consume fewer calories than you burn. Or, in the words of my sister, "Don't eat so much!"
    I mean really, what could go wrong?

    The first three days were pretty OK. I was grumpy and bitchy, but was managing to not stuff my face as much as usual.

    Friday was National Donut Day.
    I felt like a zombie surrounded by brains that I couldn't eat. Free donuts. Everywhere. Fuckers.

    I managed to not eat any of them. It was like some kind of miracle.
    Mostly I was hungry. And the world hated me. I wanted to crawl into a corner and disappear.


    Friday after work, I went with my boyfriend and parents on a long bike ride after work. It was something like 20 miles round trip, and we stopped at a pub for steaks and beer. I was thinking I deserved the indulgence after being so good. But I did have the smallest steak I could find (6oz) and went with a salad for the side instead of the usual fries.

    The next morning, feeling perky, I sucked down a chocolate soy milk for breakfast, and my boyfriend and I took off on a hike.
    There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground at the higher elevations, and this weekend was "Free National Parks Day". To avoid the crowds, we went to a nearby openspace area near Masonville, called Bobcat Ridge. This spot has a few advantages over other local hiking spots, including a 10,000 acre fire about 10 years ago that knocked down a good chunk of the woods, and scared away many of the locals. I wanted to shoot some black and white film, and a burnt down forest seemed like a good place to do that.

    Initially, I was fine. I felt good, I felt strong, and I only felt a little bit hungry.

    We stopped for lunch about an hour and a half later. By then, I was ready to start eating the wildflowers. Or maybe one of the passing mountain bikers.
    After we ate, I was still hungry, but we were at about halfway through the loop we were on, so there was not a lot I could do about it. I sucked down more water and kept going.

    Sometime later, between the sun and the hunger that didn't even feel like hunger anymore, I realized it felt like hell. I thought I was going to throw up, pass out, or both.
    Later I realized I burned something like 1100 plus calories on my little hike, and ate something less than 500 all day. When I said I wanted to lose weight, I didn't mean "starve to death quickly".

    Also, I really should have reapplied sunscreen.

    And that is how my diet nearly killed me. I crawled through hot lava for these pictures. I hope you like them.






    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Cloudy and Warm, with a Chance for Zombies

    Today, I was thinking about zombies.

    There are many other, possibly more productive uses for my finite brainpower. I could be thinking about getting a new dipstick for my car, or figuring out what that wire was that got yanked out by a fan a couple weeks back. I could be exercising in some way. I could be working on my comic book. I could be reading a book, or catching up on Buffy episodes from over a decade ago. I could even be thinking about doing some work because, you know, I am at work.

    But no.

    Today, zombies are on my mind.

    I wasn't even thinking about what to do in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse. No survival techniques or anything. I was thinking, instead, about the physical presence of zombies at the workplace.

    There is a lot of rhetoric out there about the causes of zombies, from the humorous to the grotesque. Evil corporations, 2012, a mutated rabies virus, blah, blah, blah. I even saw an article today trying to convince me that the iPad may be the cause.

    But I know what will spark the zombie uprising.

    Conference calls.

    I think I was close to "the change" myself earlier today.

    My call ran over a few minutes, I had to pee, I was sleepy, I was hungry. I had zoned out thinking about food. I completely "grayed out" for a while. No idea where I was. I wasn't asleep. But I wasn't awake. Then there was a passage of time. I blinked and came back, with no memory of the previous few minutes. I just felt groggy, and had drooled on my desk a little.

    Usually lost time makes me think of aliens. As much as I may want to believe, though, I don't think I was abducted during a conference call in the middle of a fortress like corporate building and then returned to my desk 8 minutes later.

    I think... I think I nearly became a zombie.

    Now I know that this might sound a little drastic. But let me tell you the whole story before you click away in hopes of reading someone less crazy.

    I became convinced that my employer has been experimenting on us fairly recently. I mean, sure, there are zombies in lock down back in the humidity controlled area, and parts of the building are completely sealed off. If you listen closely, you can hear the groaning and shuffling in the "empty spaces". I once had to battle a zombie engineer during my lunch break, which was exciting and all that, but I didn't have time to get my cafeteria food.

    But I think zombies are pretty common in the corporate environment, especially among management.

    Anyway, it didn't click that my job might actually be the CAUSE of the zombies, rather than just a symptom of consumerist America.

    There are a couple of things you should probably know about my work:

    We work in a closed environment. The air is recirculated, and a low level subsonic wave is broadcast building-wide to "dampen" the noise. Our building is very close to a large PharmCom.

    Also, none of the super higher up executive staff are in this location.

    My next circumstantial proof is that everyone here seems to be getting more and more tired as the week goes on. Sure, there will be a few people who stay up late drinking beer and partying, but most people, I think, go to bed at a reasonable hour, and get up functioning properly.

    I believe they upped the dosage of whatever drug they are putting in the vents that keeps us docile.

    They are making us into zombies.

    This is actually a rather brilliant strategy in a growing job market. By making all of us zombies, they not only nip a mass exodus of disgruntled, underpaid employees in the bud, but they can cancel health insurance benefits, and retirement. ZOMBIES DON'T GO ON MATERNITY LEAVE!

    Anyway, that was my Friday.

    Oh, and I did work.

    A little.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    FTW! Crawling Over the Finish Line

    I get these little obsessions every once in a while.

    For a while it was Jeeps. Or cephalopods as pets. Digital SLRs is still pretty high on the list, along with new boots for hiking. And my Kindle.

    Sometimes, it is just a phase. And sometimes, I have a new hobby.

    Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to RUN! I read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. I was convinced I should be a runner, maybe a barefoot runner, and I would become an ultra-marathoner in the next year or so. I even bought toe shoes.

    While I was in the throws of this particular idea, I decided I would start training for the Bolder-Boulder for real this time. I went to a physical therapist who specializes in helping people run without injury and improving form and efficiency. Everything was going awesome.

    I was so confident, I then signed up for a crazy 200 mile relay race at the end of the summer, and convinced a friend she wanted to go, too.

    Then... life happened.

    About a month and a half ago, I was feeling pretty good about the chances of running a 10K in under an hour. I had just completed a workout of sets, and gone about 5 miles in about 50 minutes.

    And I stopped training.

    I don't know what the hell. It isn't that I didn't want to go. I just didn't.

    Before I knew it, Memorial Day weekend was here, and I was going to run 6.2 miles. A month and a half ago, I thought I could do it in 45 minutes. Now I was hoping for under an hour. Maybe.

    I kept telling myself I did the race last year in an hour and twelve minutes. I didn't train last year at all. I can shave twelve minutes. Totally. Probably.

    THE AWESOME RACE THAT TRIED TO KILL ME:


    Monday Morning: Race Day

    Hmm... It is 6:30 in the morning. It is possible I shouldn't have used beer to carb load last night. There is a line for the bus. Also, I have to pee.

    Monday Morning (a little later): The Race Begins

    The line for the bus took forever. With that, and waiting in line at the porto-poties, I miss my wave. Whatever. Gonna run, now!

    Monday Morning (slightly later than that): I'm a Winner!

    My friend and I take off. We are going strong, going fast, feeling good. Damn, I am so gonna beat my brother, first time EVER!

    Monday Morning (still pretty close to the beginning): WTF?

    Not a kilometer in, HOLY CRAP! MY KNEE HURTS! WTF!


    Monday Morning (why isn't it over yet?):

    We walk fast. My friend is awesome and stays back with injured me. Hurts a lot to run, doesn't hurt much walking, just a little. I walk faster than some of the joggers. But I am walking. I hate that I can't run. Seriously. I want to RUN. And I CAN'T. I'M A FAILURE!

    Monday (is it still) Morning (?): The Finish Line

    I run the last bit in the stadium, blinding pain. But it's fun. And I get through the end. I didn't even visibly limp!

    Monday Afternoon: The Recovery of my Pride

    They gave us free beer at the end. And water. And soda. And soy milk.

    Fuck it, I had fun.


    Anyway. I finished the Bolder-Boulder in 1 hour and 20 minutes, mostly walking. I kinda failed, but it was a fun day. Gotta get my knee in shape for the relay in August. And my brother has me convinced I should run a half-marathon in Tucson in December.

    OK, fine. It isn't a phase. Now I just gotta stop hurting myself.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    How to Take a Relaxing Weekend Vacation (Part 2 of 2)

    OK, so if you haven't read the first part of this wonderful how-to document, I would suggest going here and reading it first. It is not an integral part of the story, but it will help with continuity. Except the numbers are starting back at one. Mostly because I am too lazy to figure out how to get it to keep counting from #29.

    ...
    1. Once you get some sleep, you will feel better. The morning is sunny and perfect and the town is beautiful. It is also your birthday, so you are pretty sure that everything will work out the way you want. And, you won't have to drive anywhere all day.

    2. There are a few things that you notice right away that do not in any way deter you from having a good time:

      • The brewery next door won't serve food one minute after 10PM.
      • Your window looks out into the lobby of the building.
      • Your hotel room wall is right next to the ice machine and elevators.
      • There seems to be a large number of children running up and down the hallways.
      • The people upstairs apparently start doing calisthenics at 7AM.

    3. Despite these things, you are in a pretty good mood.

    4. Shower and dress quickly in order to begin your action packed (but relaxing) day.

    5. Get directions to a nearby breakfast eatery in the hotel lobby. There is one just down the street. As soon as you exit the hotel, a couple of teenage girls is a strange spandex uniform will run by. They are wearing race bibs, but there are no streets blocked off or other people around. Two girl race?

    6. As you arrive at your eating destination, notice more girls running, this pair is in matching skirts, and also in bibs. On further inspection of the street, there are multiple pairs of people dressed alike in various age groups running this way and that. Consider the possibility that yesterday's stress drove you crazy.

    7. Have a nice hearty bacon and eggs type breakfast. Food is decent, coffee OK, and you are ready to go!

    8. First on the itinerary is to visit Doc Holiday's tombstone at the pioneer cemetery a few blocks away.

    9. Wonder if you are really that out of shape when you are winded walking to the trailhead.

    10. When you get to the trailhead, some of your questions will be answered. There is a person standing there with a clipboard. She tells you it is the "first ever Oyster Race", and admits it is kind of like a race/scavenger hunt, but doesn't go in to details. Yay! You aren't crazy.

    11. Walk up to the pioneer cemetery. It is beautiful out, if a bit windy. The hike is not nearly as long as you remember, and the views are spectacular. A few runners go by, both going up and down. One even stops to take you and your boyfriend's picture, which is nice.

    12. The cemetery will be a little crowded and weird with all the race people, and there will also be people trying to quietly and reverently take care of the graves, which is a strange contrast. And then... and then... you see him....

      DOC HOLIDAY IS STANDING NEXT TO HIS TOMBSTONE.

    13. After a momentary panic where you start combining wild west stories with zombie fiction, you build up the nerve to go over and see what the hell.

    14. He turns out not to be a gunslinger zombie, ghost, or whatever, but a period actor (you assume, even though he does speak with a soft, educated, southern accent and is... kinda creepy).

    15. After a while, you realize that the runners are coming up to him, handing him random items like dental floss, and getting their picture taken with him. It is one of the check-in spots on the race.

    16. As you edge closer, trying to get a picture of the tombstone without getting in the way of the racers with the pictures, there is a crowd lull. (Creepy) Doc Holiday will turn to you and say, "Would you like your picture taken between runners?" "DO I?" You say enthusiastically, and get several pictures, and hold his gun. Which is awesome.

    17. You and your boyfriend leave shortly thereafter. You will feel proud that you were brave enough to get your photo with Zombie Doc Holiday.

    18. Head back to the hotel to clean up.

    19. While you are there, your parents will arrive in town (this was planned), and you meet them and some friends at the Glenwood Canyon Brewery for lunch.

    20. Drink beer.

    21. After lunch, head up to the Glenwood Caverns for a tour.

    22. Due to wind, you will not get to ride the tram up Iron Mountain, but an 80's style school bus with grinding brakes up a steep, winding, switchback road with huge drop offs on either side. Be reminded of childhood, and pretend it is fun.

    23. Once you arrive safely at the amusement park at the top, realize that you have a good 45 minutes before your tour starts.

    24. You will notice that the giant swing that goes over the canyon is closed because of the wind, but the gravity powered individually controller roller coaster is not.

    25. Your boyfriend will buy you a ticket, and you will sit in the cart, but you might be wondering what the fuck you are doing.

    26. It is quite suddenly your turn to go. You go, without thinking, but scream a little. Or maybe more than a little. As you pass the first turn, you can't decide if it is ironic in some way or just sad that you will die on your birthday.

    27. Eventually, you will have fun, and the ride will be over too soon.

    28. The cave tour begins. You walk into a dark pit inside of Iron Mountain. The tour is awesome, although you are a little distracted trying to get good pictures on your camera without a tripod.

    29. After the tour, you ride the freakishly old bus back down the mountain, survive the ride, and walk back over to the brewery.

    30. Eat snacks, more beer, and then head up to your hotel room for your swimming suit. Time to enjoy the hot springs!!!

    31. This is the first time you have gone swimming since getting lasik. It is everything you hope for and more. The pool is warm and smells of sulfer. Your long hair will wrap around your arms and try to drown you more than once. You will get yourself to jump off the diving board, and manage to not lose your suit. It is generally a good time.

    32. A couple hours later, you are beat. You and your party should head back to the hotel.

    33. Change your clothes and clean up a little. Head down to the brewery for dinner.

    34. Get carded for a beer even though you have been here more than once today, and you are 34 years old. Best. Present. Ever.

    35. Eat steak. Drink beer.

    36. Start nodding off at the table. You're done!

    Chances are you will survive your drive home, and won't hit any traffic, your car won't explode and the brakes won't go out, and don't, whatever you do, think about work again until Monday morning. For the next three or four days, you will catch the smell of sulfer in your hair, and be happy.