Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The marathon debacle

On Sunday, I was supposed to run the Philadelphia Marathon. I had been training for the marathon for a few months leading up to my wedding, but I had slacked off on my training in the past month, mostly out of laziness and boredom. I know it's a silly thing to say, but getting past the wedding was kind of a bummer. I loved our wedding and our honeymoon (and I wanted our vacations to last longer), but it was something that I so looked forward to for so long that having it over and done with (and being put back in the same place I was before the wedding) has been a little bit hard, I must admit. So, I slacked off on my running (and a lot of other things as well) and I just wasn't sure about running the marathon. Then it turned out that Alex was getting job interviews in the Bay Area and he had to leave the day of the marathon (before it even started). I had asked him to run with me for a ways during the race, since I knew my motivation would flag at some point. So, then I just scrapped the whole idea of doing the marathon. I know that I can do it, if I put in the proper training, but I knew that I hadn't trained well enough. Anyways, I decided to show up the day of the marathon and just run the half. That's a distance I knew I could do, so I set out to at least try that. And let me tell you, I struggled from the start. It just wasn't my day. My feet were frozen from standing around for so long - it took me at least a mile to warm up my feet. My pace was too fast. I had to pee at mile 4 (and wait in a line for at least 5 mins). My feet and knees started to hurt pretty early on, around mile 6 or 7, and the hills (tiny ones) on the course were killing me. I ended up being at the back of the pack for most of my run, which is honestly a little demoralizing and totally not motivating at all. I finished the race with a burst of speed, passing by a man who had collapsed with 1/4 mile to go. I'm pretty sure he died. How awful, right?
I had originally signed up for this race as a challenge to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something so crazy, so long, that I had the stamina and endurance to run a marathon. The truth is that I know I can do it, I just don't know that I want to do it anymore. I like running because it makes me feel good, it relieves my stress and it makes me feel strong and powerful. But I'm not sure I want that goal anymore, the goal of running a marathon. I think I'd like to improve my pace (I'd like to slip below the 10min mile, if I could). And I'd like running to not feel like a chore, like it has felt for a while now. I'd also like to do something else, like strength training and pilates and yoga. So, I think I will change things up this winter. Next winter, when we're in CA, I can train all I want. The cold/ice won't be there to bother me. But for now, I think running is going to be a 3-4 times a week thing, but with less focus on a goal and more focus on happiness. I actually think I learned more from not running the marathon than I did from running it. I need to change it up, refocus and gain back some of that joy from running. That will be my birthday present to myself!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Haiku Friday

Alex leaves early
Sunday morning for job talks
New labs, new prospects


The next week I leave
Headed to the same places
Job talks, interviews


Here's hoping all goes
Well - moving toward my home state
Family and friends!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opinion Thursday*

*In an attempt to inspire myself, I thought I would write about my opinions on current events on a weekly basis...here goes!

Dismantling of Occupy Wall Street
I have to admit, I was unaware of the Occupy movement until maybe about a month ago. I the rush up to the wedding, I didn't really pay much attention to the news. I returned from my honeymoon to the growing media coverage of the Occupy movement and I was curious. The media portrayal of the movement has not always been positive, so I sought some answers from the Occupy movement themselves. There is an Occupy site here in Philly, and I've inadvertently been a part of their demonstrations (I'm everywhere, people). I've also read a bit of their tumblr site and the Occupy site. I must admit, I do support the Occupy movement. I've struggled a lot financially, and I think that my generation and the generations to come after us are going to have a harder time that my parents' generation ever did. By the time my parents were my age, they had both owned homes individually, and had bought the house I grew up in. Granted, I chose a different path, but Alex and I are nowhere near close enough to buying a home. In fact, we still owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. I understand that it was my choice to attend school and to take out student loans. I am not saying that I don't want to pay my loans myself, I am just saying that my generation is in so much debt (as compared to income) I cannot imagine us collectively pulling ourselves out of it. I also see the job market failing, the absence of jobs (for all ages) in smaller towns and cities, and the shipping of jobs overseas. I see health insurance and benefits being slashed (in a really short period of time, too). I also see an enormous lack of health care in all walks of life, even people with jobs. Granted, Alex and I are the intellectually elite, so we should have no problems finding the jobs we want at the institutions we want to work for. But I see other people struggle immensely. Most of my friends do not own homes. My friends that do own homes either live someplace really cheap to live or had some help buying their home, either from family or from buying at the right time. I don't think that Alex and I live extravagantly, yet we struggle paycheck to paycheck. The bills we have are rent, electric, gas, internet and cell phone service. We don't belong to the gym, we don't have a car. I can't remember the last time I went shopping for new clothes. The wedding hit us pretty hard, and we are struggling with credit card debt as well. We've been cooking at home more often, making large meals we can eat for a few days. I'm not complaining, these things are our reality. I see people way worse off than us, without health insurance, struggling to live. Unable to move up or down, left or right. I think the Occupy movement has brought all this to the forefront. I think people are talking about it more. I think we have a lot more awareness that policies that bail out big business hurt our own people. I think the regular person needs some bailing out, every once in a while. If not monetarily, then with some policies that help people get affordable healthcare, housing, or some necessities, like food or gas. I think we need some policies in place that protect the regular citizen, as opposed to protecting Wall St and big companies. I also think that the richer 1% should pay more taxes.
I can honestly say that I was really, really disappointed with the reaction to the Occupy movements. I mean, these are movements occurring not just in the US, but all over the world. This is a movement that encourages non-violent protest as a form of civil disobedience. I agree with that. I also believe wholeheartedly in the First Amendment to the Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
We have the right to assemble, and the right to protest. This idea alone is what bothers me the most. Even if this was a protest I did not agree with, I understand their right to carry it out. Peaceable assembly should not require permits. Assembly in a public space (I don't care that it's privately owned - it's a public space for all to enjoy). It concerns me that cops and mayors can make decisions to stifle this essential right. It concerns me. It concerns me a lot. And I don't think it's right.

Penn State Debacle
This will be shorter, I promise. I work with and know a lot of people who attended Penn State. It's a good school, with a good academic reputation. The football team and the coaches really concern me. The fact that a child would be raped on campus, in front of someone and the cops weren't called? That's a red flag. The fact that this behavior was ignored is so disturbing to me. Why weren't the authorities called? Why did the person who saw the act go home and make an appointment with Joe Pa for the next morning? What? These things are not OK, and it suggest a culture of insulation, a culture of, "protect football at any and all costs". Well, it cost you, all right. And you deserve it, Joe Paterno and everyone else involved. You deserve to lose your job. I don't think the football season should be cancelled, but I do believe that people need to remember that this is a sport. And that the kids at Penn State are rioting over the loss of a game, a sport. Think about it. It just aint' right.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • Well, it wasn't that eventful of a weekend, but it sure feels like it! On Friday, I was fortunate enough to meet up with one of my college roomies and her husband, kids, sister, brother-in-law and brother-in-law's mom for a fun afternoon of historic tourism in Philly. I had such a great time. I don't always realize it, but it's so nice to see people you know and who know you. It's great to catch up, and chill out. It was a pretty cold day, but they were troopers! And I really couldn't think of another way to spend 11.11.11!
  • One of my friends had her baby on 11.11.11! A little boy - so cute! Enrique...I think I might call him Ricky-cito :)
  • I spent most of the weekend around the house, doing errands and cleaning up. I think it's literally the first weekend I've been home in months and honestly, it felt great to be a little lazy, just hang out and do nothing. 
  • We're on a cooking kick. We're a bit in debt from the whole wedding thing, so we've decided ot cut back on eating out, and cook more at home. With our busy schedules, the best bet for us is to cook something pretty big and then eat that for a few days. This week, it was lasagna, which turned out amazing. We made two batches, and we should be able to feast off it for a few days, at least. I also made two pumpkin breads, a double batch of hummus, and I am attempting a sourdough starter. I hope it works!
  • We also used a Groupon that I bought for a "Ghost Tour" of Philadelphia with a group called the "Spirits of 76". Get it? Haha, right? So, in case you didn't know, I am into ghost stuff. I don't know that I am a "believer", but I love ghost stories and spooky things, just like when I was a kid. (Although, as an aside, I don't really love "ghost movies" unless they're really well done. I loved The Sixth Sense, but the Paranormal Activity movies? Not so much. I do, however, love Ghost Adventures, which I know is a completely stupid and useless reality TV show. I can't get enough! I realize I have a problem!). When I went to Scotland with my parents over ten years ago, we took a ghost tour of the Edinburgh vaults, these regions of the city that are literally a city underneath the city. Yeah, Ghost Adventures went there - they caught some amazing stuff on camera, which I love. Anyways, we had this amazing tour guide - a really spooky man who totally acted the part. They took us into the vaults and we heard sounds (a child, specifically) and I felt something brush up against me (a dog, I thought at the time). They had candles, and shut them off in the middle of the tour, making it pitch dark. Edinburgh is full of spooky, haunted tales, so it was a wonderfully spine tingling tour! Fast forward to Philly, 7:30pm in Old City. We get this bubbly, cheery young woman as our tour guide. She tells us tales that are "really sad, right?" and she expresses emotion about the ghosts. I'm a firm believer that once you start to think of ghosts as real people with real stories, that's when the "ghost story effect" ends. Of course, someone catching on fire on her wedding day (an subsequently burning the whole damn building down) is really sad, but I want to hear more about the ghostly tales - chairs dragged around, unexplained sounds, eerie footsteps, that kind of stuff. Instead, I hear about historic stories of the buildings, with little or no emphasis on "ghostly encounters". I hear about "a lot of bodies buried here", but nothing of any encounters or anything interesting. A big disappointment. The one thing that I thought was funny was as we were standing in front of Independence Hall, a light kept flickering on and off, over and over again. I'm unsure if someone was playing a joke on the security guard at the door, or whether the wiring at the Hall is pretty faulty, but I thought it was pretty funny. I would imagine Benjamin Franklin would find "elecktricity" quite interesting - perhaps he stopped by to play?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • This weekend was a doozy, folks! We had our first ever Showcase Performance for our dance school. We danced a tango to the number from Chicago "He had it coming". It was a lot of fun! We performed at this school auditorium, which brought me back to my days at Hueneme Christian School, when we did our Christmas plays at the Oxnard Auditorium. Yeah, I was big way back then :)
  • We also rented a car and drove all over the area to run some errands. One day, I would like to rent a car to do something fun, not just run errands. We drove around Northeast Philly - not much there,  people. It's like an area that was built before there was the idea of strip malls, so nothing is coherent or makes sense. There are also lots and lots of row homes, which, for some reason, reminds me of housing on the base. However, for all our driving around, we only went through less than four gallons of gas. Not too shabby!
  • On Sunday, we hit up Wegman's, my new favorite grocery store. It's kinda like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Vons all rolled into one. It's got the cheaper store brand foods that are really good (and generally organic or healthier) plus a specialty store with good cheeses and breads (if you're into that stuff). They also carry all those brand name things, so you can get your Ragu or whatever you might be looking for. Love it! They even give double coupons! Oh yeah, I'm eighty.
  • I also spent an exorbitant amount of time at Bed, Bath and Beyond. That place is sometimes the armpit of hell. I circled the store approximately three times. I went to try to get some of the remaining things off our registry, as well as use up some of the gift cards we got for our wedding. I had a cart full of things (mostly bulky items, not really heavy items - like two pillows, an ironing board, etc.) and I tried to take it down the escalator (they had an escalator thingy for the cart) and that bitch stopped! What? So, I had to carry all my stuff by hand - I looked like a total fool, with these huge bags dragging on the floor. Oh lordy. Oh well, don't think I will be back there again for a while at least. Next time, maybe I can go to a BBB that is not on the second floor of a building (for no apparent reason).
  • I next went to Macy's to try to return a gift and to use some of my gift cards. It took me forever to find the store. When I did, I thought it might be a nice store. It was at least six stories high, and seemed to be pretty old, which was kinda cool. However, they completely lack a home store. How can a Macy's be 6 stories high without a home store? The one in Philly is only 3 stories high and has a ton of home stuff. Guess that's where I'm headed next.
  • Today, we returned the car and ended up driving through Philly to drop off the car. It made me glad that I commute by bike. Even though I was really warm and toasty on the way to the rental car place, it made me appreciate that I don't have to deal with all the silly traffic and idiot drivers in the middle of the city on a daily basis. Thankful for my little 10 speed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Mouse in my House

I have a lot of catching up to do with this here blog, and I guess there's no time like the present to get started on that! Since I love to regale you with stories of my ever exciting life, I thought I'd tell you a tale of one of the first days we came home after the honeymoon. I went upstairs after a questionable long day at work, looking for my wonderful LL Bean slippers. I took off my shoes and slipped my bare feet into my lovely slippers and there was something warm and furry in my shoe. Thinking that Moo had somehow showed her toy in there, I looked in my shoe to pull it out. Nope, two little beady eyes staring right back at me. A mouse! In my shoe! I had my bare foot against it! Where was my cat? Why did she not do anything about said mouse? I screamed my head off and Alex came rushing upstairs to see what was wrong. He laughed a bit, said I had given the mouse a good scare, and promptly took the little thing outside to "let it free". It took me a while to get over my heart attack at finding a mouse in my shoe. I have to say I am quite glad that it didn't bite my toes - that would have really made me mad! So, then, of course, I had to clean out the kitchen to find places to put all of our wedding presents. I found evidence of a little mouse freeway in one of our kitchen cabinets (the one where we keep pots and pans, not any of our cabinets with food). I am unsure if the mice moved in because we were gone for a couple weeks (and so was Moo), or if we've had mice all along and our cat should no longer be called a cat anymore (perhaps just a pet?). I've always prided myself on being mouse-free, especially in a city where mice and rats are rampant and most of my friends have had significant mouse problems. It also made me miss Kitty, my other cat we had to put to sleep nearly two years ago. She was a phenomenal mouser, and oh so proud to bring you the leftovers. As Alex says, perhaps it's time for a "cat upgrade"! Haha!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Numbers!

  • Crazy weekend, you guys! On Friday, I headed to a meeting, then a happy hour, and then a dance lesson. I saw several of my friends who I haven't seen for a while. We ended the night with some time on the dance floor, practicing. Next week, we do our practice wedding dance for the whole studio! Yikes!
  • On Saturday, I hit up my 9am pilates class, then booked it to get to my 2nd bridal shower! Wow! I am spoiled, let me tell you! We hung out at Cafe con Chocolate, which was an awesome little place in South Philly. There were 9 of us total, and we just chilled out, ate brunch, drank cafe con leche and churros and played some silly games. We got some lovely, amazing gifts, and our friends brought their new baby, Conor, who is just adorable! The boys hung around outside, while figuring out what to do during the shower. They ended up with cheesesteaks, beer, and a baby in a bar (in a baby bjorn too, which made me think of the Hangover!). 
  • On Sunday, I ran 13.1 miles in the Philly Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. The first 10 miles were pretty easy, but the last 3 were fairly hard. I guess it's not that bad! I finished in 2:22, which was a pretty solid 11 minute mile. I bested my 10 mile PR by 7 minutes, which is awesome! I'm pretty proud that I finished it, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a full marathon. I can't imagine running twice that distance, especially since miles 10-13 were pretty hard - what happens if those miles are hard in a marathon too? Ugh - I guess I'll just continue my training and see where that gets me!
  • The rest of Sunday was spent with a two hour nap, a large bowl of ice cream, and a couple hours of TV. I couldn't move very well, and I didn't sleep well Saturday night, so I feel like it was a good thing. However, I didn't get the things done I needed to, like laundry, house cleaning, etc. I think the house might just be messy until after the wedding. That's ok, right?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Haiku Half Marathon Friday

Running the Philly
Rock N' Roll Half Marathon
this Sunday morning


Not sure if I am 
absolutely prepared but
I don't feel nervous


Just glad to have some
company in the long miles
They are the hardest!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • This weekend, we rented a car and ran some errands. Luckily, I found a deal on the interwebs that led to a pretty cheap car rental at the airport. We were given the Fiat 500 - the cutest car I've seen in a long time! I had not even seen one on the road before. We had so many looks, and people talking to us about that car. I loved it and I can totally see why they're starting to sell it here. Super tiny, we could fit it anywhere, but it still held about $150 worth of groceries like nobody's business. Alex was really excited because he popped a u-ey on a tiny road and the car had the littlest turning radius ever. Ah, the fun of driving a fun car!
  • On Saturday, we finally took in the last Harry Potter movie, HP7.2. I know, I know, just about 3 months too late! Ha! I dunno about this movie. I just didn't love it. I thought it didn't begin well, and the things that they changed in the plotline made no sense to me (like him breaking the Elder wand and throwing it into the abyss - I mean, everyone knows he repaired his broken wand with it! Duh!). I guess it was a good ending, and I enjoyed the humor in the movie, because I think it was somewhat lacking in the book. I've grown to love those kids that play the characters, so that was a lot of fun. I think, mostly, that the book was grossly unsatisfying. I want to read about that world again, I want it to be magical again. Therefore, she should write more books, right?
  • On Sunday, we discovered the wonders of Wegman's, a lovely grocery store about 30 miles from the city. We filled up a cart and only paid $150 for our groceries, which was pretty nice (we thought it would be at least $200!). Mostly, it was just a thrill to buy beer in the grocery store - even though that's legal in most states. Stupid prohibition laws in PA!
  • My friend D had her wee baby today. That makes today his 0 birthday! Yay for new babies!
  • Looks like we have about 130 people coming to the wedding. Although I still have not heard from some people (seriously, how hard is it to mail a stamped, addressed envelope? Yah, apparently really hard!)
  • This Sunday, I will be running the Philly Half Marathon, 13.1 miles of Rock N' Roll. Oh yeah! Guess who the headliner is? Yeah, that's right. Brett Michaels, of Poison fame. You know you wish you could "Unskinny Bop" with me after the race! Haha!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ode to the sun Haiku Friday

Oh, glorious sun
So happy to see shining,
warm rays, blue skies, sun.

Waking up to a
sunny day just can't be beat
no way to compare.


I feel like we are
emerging from a 
long, dark week of fall.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rain, rain go away

Family legend says that it rained for 40 days one year when my Dad was about 2 years old. This left my Grandma with three little boys indoors for over a month straight. Needless to say, on the 40th day, my Grandpa came home to a hysterical wife and kids. It was then decided they should move to California, and thus began the family move towards sunny California. I can't imagine that a decision to move came so cavalierly, especially to a family of five, but I'm beginning to see where they are coming from. It's been raining all week, starting Monday night and pretty much not letting up at all. One night, it rained so hard, I literally thought the roof would collapse on us. Everything is wet, and the streets are starting to buckle with all the water movement. The river is the highest I've ever seen it, and my running path is mostly underwater. The rainwater has washed debris all over the place, making even walking somewhat difficult. I've ridden the bus all week, instead of my normal bike commute, and I haven't been able to get my runs in (I no longer have a gym membership since I'm no longer a student). It's been a tough few days, feeling cabin feverish, snapping at people, and feeling so, so tired (for no real reason)! I can't imagine if this lasted for 40 days. I think I might literally go insane. I think it's always interesting to see how people react when something as simple as the weather really changes your whole life. I think I've become complacent with the weather, thinking, for the most part, that it doesn't affect me. I have boots and jackets for the snow, biking gear for the rain, I've got sunglasses and SPF, I'm set, right? But it's not really true, especially since we don't have a car to get around such inconveniences. I'm especially glad we haven't lost power - now THAT is a whole other inconvenience!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • Wow! A three day weekend! What a luxury!
  • Friday night, we headed out for drinks, and I think I had one too many. It was so nice to hang out, just chat, and not have to do anything, though, so those extra hours on the couch Saturday methinks were worth it!
  • On Sunday, we headed out to do some errands, biking about 20 miles to REI to get some essential camping gear. Then, I headed out to run my long run, 10 miles. Yes, I inadvertently did a duathlon for no apparent reason. I know, I'm crazy. But thankfully, Alex biked support for my run, otherwise I may not have run as far!
  • On Sunday night, we got to experience the TV show "Dirty Jobs", which we just found on the Neflix streaming. We watched two episodes, and I found them to be quite funny and entertaining. Perhaps I will watch more!
  • Yesterday, we did some tidying around the house and then headed out to a BBQ at a friend's house in the 'burbs. It was great to see their new house, even lovelier that it didn't start raining until the evening, and lots of fun to watch the Phils win a game with some stellar ball-playing. We had a blast, eating, drinking, and just chatting. Oh, and playing Cranium. We came in second.
  • This morning, I ran 6 miles in the rain. I don't like to do that. And now that I'm showered and ready to go, I think I'll take the bus into work. Ugh...work...back to it, I suppose!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Haiku "while the cat's away, the mice will play" Friday

The boss has left for
vacation, meaning I am
free for a few days.


Don't worry, I am
still working, but I may take
off early to hang.


Next week, heading to
California, see the boy
and my great matron!

Can't wait!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • On Friday, we headed out the the Art Museum for the Art after 5 exhibit. They had a salsa band playing, and 6 or 8 of our friends from the dance studio were going to do a performance in between band sets. They were doing a dance called the Salsa Rueda, which is really pretty an fun to watch. We had a great time, dancing some salsa and hanging out with our friends. As a bonus, we wandered through the galleries that were open, checking out some Monet and Van Gogh paintings, as well as some weird Jasper Johns stuff that Alex loves. 
  • Saturday, we had a party for Alex's 28th birthday. We probably had 20-25 people here at our little house. It was a lot of fun, as quite a few people came who we hadn't seen in a while, even our friend who is literally 9 months pregnant! It was a great time, with a ton of food, beer and lots of fun conversation. We've got so much left over, I think we should do it again!
  • Sunday was a bit of a "throw away" day. I had wayyyy too much to drink (bad Christine, bad!). I was supposed to run 6 miles, but I sure did not! We stayed in and watched a marathon of MacGyver episodes (holy moly, is that show funny, mullets and all! LOVE IT!). 
  • Today has been catch up day - starting some experiments at work, doing some laundry and doing all the dishes. I'm also in the process of job hunting for next fall. I've got two tentative interviews in the Bay, and perhaps one more up in Boston. Should be fun and interesting!

The Moe Prager Series by Reed Farrel Coleman

I've reviewed books by Coleman before. He writes a series of detective novels about Moe Prager, a Jewish "hard boiled" detective from Brooklyn. I love these books for a number of reasons. While I don't know NYC or Brooklyn that well, I love the perspective the narrator, Moe, has. He's Brooklyn born and bred, and I can almost hear his thick Brooklyn accent come through the pages of the book. Moe gets himself into some interesting mysteries, with a lot of twists and turns, and some increasing violence in the last couple of books. I think one of the reasons I enjoy these books so much is the ambiance, the settings and descriptiveness of the storyline, and the fact that Coleman is a little known author. I love discovering something new! Prager finds himself in some odd situations throughout the last three books I just finished reading. I think I like his earlier novels better, as they're not so dark, but I must admit, I did enjoy the last three books as well. Moe ends up in some heartbreaking situations, losing family members, having friends turn on him, and nearly losing his daughter. He's definitely a more "real" character than a lot of series books. I enjoyed his perspective on criminals, crime, NYC and Brooklyn. He's always coming up with anecdotes or ridiculous stories that are so entertaining they're almost believable. If you want an easy read with a good plotline and a twisting story, check out his books. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Haiku TGIF

For some reason this 
week was just too long, complex
I am exhausted.


Long lists to finish
Even the little things are
adding up too much.


If I had millions
I would hire an assistant
to get it all done!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Good, the bad, the ugly

The Good: 
  • We got our wedding invites in the mail and they came out really nice
  • I am staying home today to finish up my paper from my old lab (finally)
  • Home is quiet
  • I caught up on a lot of bills and things I had to take care of this morning
The Bad:
  •  I now have to address said invitations to a whole bunch of people
  • The wedding is fast approaching and I don't feel very well prepared. As in, we haven't even bought our plane tickets to CA for the wedding yet.
  • I have a laundry list of things to do, and the list doesn't ever seem to get any shorter.
  • I can't stop biting my nails.
  • Alex's birthday is coming up and I have yet to come up with a present!
The Ugly 
  • Moo caught a mouse last night and batted it all over the house before we could catch it and put it outside. I felt so bad for that dumb little animal, it didn't (or couldn't) even fight back. It just sat there, pathetically. Moo is now practicing constant vigilance here at the house.
  • I have eye allergies that are exacerbated by the pollution trapped here by humidity. This has led to the development of a stye on my eye. Yeah. Awesome. 
  • I had my legs waxed for the first time ever. I am glad to not have to shave for a while, since shaving caused my skin to break out like crazy. But man, oh, man did that HURT!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Monday Numbers (a day late)

  • This past weekend consisted of 3 days of over 100 degree weather. Needless to say, we didn't do too much!
  • On Saturday, we went to a BBQ for our dance studio. Thankfully, we found some shade at the place, and we proceeded to behave like 12 year olds, throwing water at each other, dumping giant vats of ice water on people, and sliding on a slip n' slide. Nothing quite like the heat loonies to bring out the child in you!
  • On Sunday, it was our day of rest. I didn't leave the house, it was so hot. I ended up making lots of things with our farmshare and cleaning the house. I also discovered that our wedding invitations came with the wrong size envelopes. So, there will be a slight delay (perhaps one week?) in getting the invites out. Hopefully that won't mess anyone up!
  • Yesterday, I picked up our farmshare, and it included two watermelons! Now, how am I going to carry those home?
  • Things are moving along in lab, I've got my own mice to hang out with, about 20 of them. They seem pretty cool, so far (perhaps not as cool as the frogs, though!)
  • We've started coordinating our first dance! Should be lots of fun!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The End of an Era

When I was a kid, growing up, I absolutely adored the astronauts. I loved the thought of spaceflight, and I admired the bravery (and the intelligence) and sheer strength it took to fly into the unknown. My Dad is a pilot, so he always told me the stories of the test pilots, the astronauts, the technology, and the wonder that went into NASA and the creation of the space programs. When I was 12, we went on a trip to the East Coast, hitting Philly and DC. I was in awe of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (and now, as an adult, I could still spend my days there!). I had an Astronaut Barbie, and and Astronaut Cabbage Patch Kid (named Diana, I am pretty sure!). I remember when the Challenger exploded. I can remember watching it live with my grandparents, and then not really understanding what had happened. I remember my school teachers being really upset. I remember when they named one of the "new" schools in Oxnard or Ventura Christa McAuliffe Elementary, and I wondered if the kids would know who she was and how brave and amazing she was. Sometimes, the Space Shuttle would land at Edwards AFB, north of us in Oxnard. My Dad would wake me up so I could hear the sonic boom as the Shuttle glided over us, back to earth. I remember frost on the ground one morning, and I remember seeing the streak of light in the sky.
Today, the last space shuttle landed. I have to admit, I am a little sad about it. I think the going to space has become routine, but no less dangerous. It scares me that we are no longer focused on technology, that people think things like NASA, space exploration, and astronauts are passe. I am sad that kids don't have astronaut play toys, and I am sad that being an astronaut is not longer a valid goal. Don't get me wrong, I understand our country is in a bit of a mess, that the economy is in the toilet, and that people need jobs. I just wish our era of technology, of pushing the envelope, of inventing and creating and fining answers to the unknown, was not really over. I wish our astronauts could stick around a bit longer to inspire another generation of kids to aspire to be whatever they want to be. To reach for the stars

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Random Snippets Tuesday

  • I went backpacking for the first time ever this past weekend. We headed up to north central PA to check out some forests and some mountains and to escape the city heat. We had no idea it would take as long as it did to get up there, and we ended up changing plans at the last minute due to a bridge washout. We ended up at Little Pine State Park, where we hiked out into the surrounding state forest and camped by a stream for the night. Turns out, I'm afraid of the dark. Every move, every twig snap, I had visions of something gigantic coming to get us. Didn't help that we had come across bear scat on our hike out. 
  • The next day, we hiked a bit around a lake and got to see some wild turkeys and a bald eagle! It was so cool to see and hear the eagle. I started wondering why I knew what a bald eagle sounded like. Then I realized it was from the beginning of the Colbert Report. Oh lordy!
  • We came home and literally crashed into the air conditioned bedroom. No sleep or A/C for one night was enough for me. And the drive was just tiresome. Sometimes I wish we had a car so we could explore the surrounding area a bit better. But then, I see the price of gas and I'm glad we don't!
  • The job search continues, looking for a position, hopefully in the Bay, for next fall. My old boss has been out of touch - on vacation with his family. I hope I hear from him soon, because people are asking about letters for me, and he needs to get those out!
  • In other news, my new boss is out the rest of the week, so we are planning on heading to lunch together as a lab on Friday. I think it should be fun!
  • The heatwave here on the east coast is just starting. I am not looking forward to it. I think that running 4 miles in this heat should be the equivalent of running 8 miles in nice weather. Seems reasonable, right?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movie Review: Precious

So, I realize I'm a bit behind on my movie watching here. I received Precious several weeks ago, and just could not bring myself to watch it, since it felt like I already knew what the movie was about. I finally watched the movie last night (if you haven't seen it, there are spoilers ahead), and I have to say that I'm not sure how I felt about the movie. I'm still struggling with what the movie was trying to say, if anything. The movie is about Precious, a young girl who is pregnant with her second child. She has been raped by her father (who does not live with her and her mother). Overall, she seems like a good kid, talking about wanting a boyfriend, and having dream sequences of being famous, or glamorous. Her school finds out she is pregnant again and decides to kick her out (for reasons not entirely clear). A teacher takes a liking to her and tells her to go to an alternative school, where she can earn her GED. At this new school, she makes friends, learns to speak for herself, and learns how to read and write. She gains confidence in herself, and, at the end of the movie, strikes out on her own, cuts ties with her mother and walks off into the sunset. At least, I think that's what happened. In the meantime, there are complex socioeconomic, class and race situations that are brought up, but not really resolved. Precious' mother is abusive (to a ridiculous extent), her father is a rapist. She has nowhere to turn, except a lesbian couple who take her in. Precious' daughter (whom she names Mongoloid) has Downs' Syndrome, and is cared for by her maternal grandmother. All her mother cares about is her welfare check, and whether she can get it with Precious in alternative school. Her mother beats her for the smallest infractions (seemingly, just because) and winds up nearly killing Precious and her newborn son. In the end, Precious ends up HIV+ (from her father), and left to care for her kids on her own (having procured welfare checks for herself).
Before I go on, I want to emphasize that I am not trying to offend anyone with my opinions of this movie. For the most part, I am just trying to understand my feeling about a movie that made me somewhat uneasy, and left me somewhat confused. I am not African American and I do not live in Harlem, so I cannot reflect on how "realistic" this movie is. Honestly, at some times, it felt like it tried to address too many things, and therefore addressed none of them well. I felt like it perpetuated the stereotype of the "Angry Black Woman", as well as the "Undereducated Black Person", and I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. In the end, the mother seemed really pissed off that Precious' father wanted to molest Precious rather than to be with the mother. I can't imagine a mother behaving like that. I can't imagine a mother sacrificing her child like that, to "keep a man". I realize that it could happen, but it ended up portraying the mother as either really ignorant and unintelligent, or as completely negligent, or, on another hand, as completely desperate and pure evil. I'm not sure that the true intention of that mother was any of those things.
Some of the things it did well was portray the state of inner city education, with kids in the classroom being disruptive, and most kids not really learning anything. And it portrayed the "welfare system", for lack of a better term, as gullible and overworked, yet willing to help Precious with some type of counseling (to a certain extent), which seemed contrary to its portrayal. Altogether, you end up rooting for Precious to "make it on her own", to get out into the world and to own it, to get a boyfriend, like she wanted, and to heal herself, and find accepting and loving friends. Some of these things happen, and others do not. And I'm just not sure how I'm supposed to feel after than roller coaster ride of a movie.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • These last few weeks have been a little crazy around here. Life is (hopefully) slowly getting back to normal, I think. I'm liking the new lab, things are settling in, and I am learning my way around which is good. In a few days, I will have been at my new job for one month. 
  • On Saturday morning, I've started going to Pilates/Body Pump classes taught by a lovely lady named Katie. She's a former ballet dancer, and as graceful as you can imagine. She kicks my butt by having us do four grand plies on each side - my legs are literally shaking when I do these things. However, I do enjoy the butt kicking. It's only making me stronger, right?
  • This past weekend was pretty fun. We ended up at our friend's 25th birthday party on Saturday night. A nice backyard BBQ, a cute beagle puppy, and lots of food was a great start to the summer.
  • On Sunday, at 0630am, we headed out to watch the Philly Triathlon. Two of our friends were competing in it. The crowds were so crazy that we could barely see them, but we still had a nice time. It was great that we could just walk to the start/finish lines and watch people come in.
  • We posted up on Lemon Hill, a little bit of a hill that was (I'm sure) hard to bike up. So, we hung out with our cowbells and yelled words of encouragement (like, "You're almost there!", "Lookin' good!" and "Way to go, athletes!"). Some people were truly inspirational, like the woman with one leg, the several 50+ year old athletes, and the little 13 year old we saw bike by. Awesome!
  • After the race, we had some people over for a little BBQ. Alex grilled a bunch of pork chops and chicken, and we had a nice time sitting in the backyard, chatting. Unfortunately, I think I am coming down with something, so I ended up taking two naps yesterday (oh, and also sleeping straight through the night, as well). My head is a little bobbley, and I'm home today, working on computer stuff instead of trying to balance on my bike and get into lab.
  • All this illness means that I've not been able to run lately, which is starting to freak me out a bit. How can I run 26.2 miles in Nov, if I'm not running all the time now? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Random Snippets

Blogging from my phone, let's see how this works!
I started my new job at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia(CHOP) this month. So far, so good!
However, I've been busier than a one-legged man Ina ass-kicking contest (as Randi would say).
I've begun marathon training. Going OK so far! Hill repeats today.
I started laundry before 7am this morning.
I think we mayhave found a band for the wedding! Last major detail to cross off my list!
In the last few weeks, Alex has done a half iron man triathlon, and a mud run. Makes me feel kinda lazy :)
I got my wedding dress fitted last weekend. Thingswent OK, but it's discouraging that the dress was toobig in the fall & now a little tight. Winter just kills me every year - that can't be healthy, right?
My new lab is super organized, with everything labelled and in drawers. Compared to the chaos that was my old lab, this is a totally foreign concept to me.
Alex has been steadily increasing the amount of camping gear we have. Our honeymoon will be backpacking in Yosemite. Having never backpacker before, I clearly have no gear. So, Alex has been online shopping recently, looking for all thing backpacking for me. So far, he's found a pack, a sleeping bag & a ground pad for me. Now we just need a tent (prolly a three person one, so that our little family can grow!)
Ok, hopefully this is enough together started. I'll update as time goes on!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • Yesterday, I ran the Broad Street 10 miler for the second time. I bested my time by 13 minutes! I am paying for it today, however. It's real difficult to get up and sit down. Yes, I am that person in the bathroom going "Unnggghhhhuuughhhhh!" in the stall next to you. Sorry.
  • On Saturday, we headed down to the Runner's Expo at Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles Stadium). Alex got two pairs of socks and I got two running shirts (including one that says "I run this town!" haha!) and two headbands to hold my hair back. It was a pretty good time. 
  • Friday was such a lovely day that we hit up two different happy hours and hung out with some of our friends. It was a great end to the week, for sure. 
  • Since the Broad Street Run goes down Broad Street (which is essentially 14th Street), it completely screwed up all the bus routes heading toward our house. Meaning that we ended up walking at least 3 more miles to get home. Man, was I glad to get home and put my feet up! Ouch!
  • I got two blisters and one bruise from the run. I think I need new shoes.
  • Today starts my last month in this lab - woohoo! I start in my new lab on June 1! I think this month will be "take it easy month" for me. I'm gonna try to work normal-people hours (say, 40 hrs a week instead of 60-ish). Should be interesting! Whatever shall I do with all my extra time?
  • My house is a disaster and I haven't done laundry in two weeks. Oh, I guess that's were all my extra time will go! Haha!
  • The weather has finally gotten nicer. I love to sleep with the windows open and no heater or a/c on. I wish it would stay this way for a while, but I know that it won't last much longer. Soon the humidity will be 80%!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Random Snippets, Thursday Edition

  • Well, folks, it's official - I graduated. I wrote and defended my thesis and my family (and Alex's) came to visit for about a week. We had a great time altogether, but I must admit, I'm a little beat. My brain isn't entirely functioning well, and I am looking forward to heading home to CA for a little R&R. Oh, and some wedding planning. 
  • It has been both gorgeous and miserable around here lately. It's been cold and rainy and then sunny and warm and then cold and rainy. Today, it's gorgeous, with bright sunshine, warm on my shoulders, and the trees blooming everywhere. I really like it when the flowers on the trees drop their petals in the gentle breeze - its looks like light snow :)
  • Last night, Alex and I performed a swing dance as part of a group. We performed at the SugarHouse, which is a new casino that just opened up on the Delaware Riverfront. It was a pretty weird experience, to say the least. I think the performance went well, but those casinos are just weird. Afterward, we headed out to our favorite bar, Dark Horse, with most of the people from our dance group. It's always so much fun to hang out with new people - especially those that don't talk science. It was great to unwind.
  • I am amazed that I am done with the whole thesis thing. I just have to print out a couple more copies (seriously, could I KILL any MORE trees? Ugh) and Dan will get them bound for me. How weird will it be to have my name on the spine of a book?
  • I went to a conference on Monday at the National Constitution Center. It was arranged by the woman who I will be working for starting June 1. I got to meet most of the people in her lab, which was great, and everyone seems cool & interesting. It will be so nice to actually work with people for a change. I'm a social creature by nature - this whole working alone thing is not fun!
  • I still haven't done my state taxes - guess I better get on that!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Numbers Monday (a day late)

  • I finished my thesis over the weekend. It was 210 pages long. Yesterday, I submitted it to my committee. It feels good that I don't have to look at it for a week or so.
  • I put together my talk for my defense and I gave a practice talk yesterday. I think it went OK, but it needs some polishing, and a few extra slides to bring everything together. I ended up with 59 slides, but went through it in 30 minutes. Go figure that one out. 
  • Over the weekend, I spent most of my time on the computer, writing my thesis or putting my talk together. Other than that, I watched 2 movies and several episodes of the Cosby Show, season 1, just to chill out. Man, do I love the Cosby show! Don't even ask me why. 
  • It took me over 5 hours to print out my thesis on Sunday. Turns out there is a glitch in MSWord 2008 where figures won't print. Grand.
  • Today, I am fried. I went out to dinner last night with some friends to celebrate turning in my thesis. I had a lovely time, but today, I just a bit brain dead. Oh wait, I need a number....Last night, I had two glasses of punch and two glasses of wine. Perhaps thats why I'm brain dead?
  • I am on my 4th week of training for the Broad St run. On Sunday, I ran for about 1.5 hours, and I ended up running through a large crew event on the river. Have you ever seen these? They row these skinny little boats up and down the river every weekend. Seems like both high schools and colleges compete - it's a real interesting thing to run through. They're essentially camping out, grilling breakfast, putting up tents and hanging out all day. Seemed like it might be fun, but I think it's a really expensive sport. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Snippets, Thursday Edition

  • I have discovered that the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich is descended from the gods. More bacon? Yes, please!
  • Spring arrived and then left. I'm not sure why, but 38 degrees and rainy seems way colder than 20 and snowing.
  • My thesis was due yesterday. Have I turned it in yet? Nope.
  • My boss is back. Yes, it's weird.
  • I defend in less than 2 weeks!
  • I think buying a printer a couple months ago was a brilliant thing to do. 
  • I am thankful I have a second bedroom to completely destroy during this thesis writing process. 
  • My folks are coming one week from Saturday.
  • Alex will be gone all weekend. He's racing in upstate NY, somewhere. I really hope it's not snowing there.
  • Dave Brubeck is GOD.
  • I have lost my mind so much, that I made a Warhol version of one of my embryo pictures. The sad thing? It took me, like 10 minutes. What do you think?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • This weekend marked frantic madness surrounding the attempt to finish my dissertation. I struggled to come up with an eventual 17 pages of conclusions and future directions and I sent them off last night. I ended up making 5 extra figures to go along with my introduction chapter and my conclusions chapter. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time on the computer.
  • On Saturday, we arose at 0530 (or, to Randi, oh-dark-thirty) to head to Fairmount Park for the annual Philly Phlyer bike race that Alex was partaking in. His first race, he took 3rd place and his second race, he took 8th, which is pretty awesome, considering there were at least 30-40 people in each race! He's awesome and I was just so proud of him :)
  • However, Saturday, it was cold, cold, cold. The wind was blowing and I had trouble keeping warm while watching the races. Even though it was probably in the 40s, which should be warm for us, it just wasn't. It took me 2 pots of tea before I warmed up!
  • Saturday and Sunday, for the most part, was swallowed up by copious time on the computer. Probably around 24 hours, at least. Ugh.
  • I did, however, manage to do 5 loads of laundry yesterday. Somedays I am really thankful that I have a washer and dryer do all the work for me - could you imagine if I had to do all this AND beat my laundry with a rock? Thank god for small conveniences :)
  • I get to head to CA in one month! Woohoo! My folks will be here in less than 2 weeks!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magazine Rant

I read the magazine Shape. I have for a long period of time. I like the features that highlight some of the scientific findings in health and fitness, and I like to read a magazine about empowering women to be fit. I like the "work outs" because I am normally so intimidated by the weight machines and weights at the gym (or by figuring out how to target muscle groups, etc). I like it as a reference and an easy read. Some of the stories are inspirational, and the magazine highlights some "normal" women who are "just like you!", which is kinda nice. They also purport to not airbrush the women on the cover (although they are heavily make-upped, lighted and "done up", I always liked that honesty. As in, these women have worked their asses off to look like this, we're not going to change a thing, right? However, they have recently changed the format of their magazine, and I have been getting more and more irritated with the changes they have made. The most recent issue might be my last. While I understand these magazines can be slightly ridiculous, this magazine was one that I used to enjoy. However...well, let's just see what you think...

In their regular feature, "Shape your life: Sex", all three of the tidbits of advice apply to the guy, not the girl. As a women's magazine, I think this is absolutely ridiculous. The first piece of advice is to have morning sex. While not the most shocking thing, it goes on to say that women aren't often "in the mood" in the morning, but the guy is. Therefore, you should sleep naked to get him even more aroused, and then morning sex could make your day better. The second tidbit of advice is to not let the man in your life see you do things like floss, shave, or pop zits. You should close the door to retain a bit of "mystery". And lastly, you should take a vacation to a tropical island so the man in your life can get some vitamin D, boosting his testosterone levels, and upping his sex drive.
  • OK, are you kidding me? There are thousands of women who report not being satisfied by their sex life, and you go and report on how to turn him on? I mean, lets just ignore the fact that none of these pieces of advice should be repeated. Why not talk about how women can get more satisfaction out of their sex life? Why not talk about how to find the time in the day, what to do if you're tired, the kids are screaming, there's laundry to be done? How about how to find time for yourself? How to maintain work/life balance? Hell, how to satisfy yourself? How to communicate in bed? How to find the G-spot (sorry, I went there...)? Were all of these things not valid? What if your significant other's sex drive is higher than yours? Yours is higher than his or hers? Were there no tidbits of information that might help a woman out? At all? All of them had to be about the guy? Oh, I could go on and on...
In another feature, the "Get Fit Workout of the Month", the magazine chooses to highlight the thighs and what moves to do to work them out. I usually like this feature because it includes a little breakdown on the muscle groups here, and it shows you ways to work them with machines at the gym. As an introduction, the magazine wrote this is highlighted, bold pink lettering, "If your thighs rub together, you know exactly what we're talking about, and if they don't, you probably work hard to keep them that way." Below this is written, "This month, we're going to help you conquer this common trouble spot so you can expend your mental energy on more important things - like which heels make your legs look sexier."
  • Once again, are you kidding me? Firstly, your legs are a part of your anatomy. They are shaped that way for a reason!!! Thigh "jiggle" and thighs touching? OK, it's now become patently clear that our view of womens' bodies is so distorted because models' already thin thighs are photoshopped to not include that area of your thighs that (horror!) touches. Why not highlight things about your thighs that you might want to improve on. Or things that you might not realize. Like running only works part of your thighs, cycling might work another. Balancing your muscle proportions out might help you get better at the sport you enjoy. Secondly, please don't patronize me by saying that I am spending "mental energy" on why my thighs touch and what to do about it. Please also don't make a blanket statement about how I want to spend my mental energy on shoes. I spend my mental energy on things like current events, family, friends, work, school, and books I enjoy. My thighs (as ugly and imperfect as you think they are) carry me to all these events where I spend my mental energy, so just shut your trap about that, would ya?
  • This idea that women are constantly worrying over distinct parts of their bodies really worries me. Why focus on discrete parts of your body when, for the most part, all things function? Why not talk about wanting strong thighs so you can pick up your kids? Because weight bearing exercise helps prevent osteoporosis? Because you have always wanted to try out spin class? Why not put a positive spin on things, instead of pointing out the things that they think might be "wrong" with you?
Besides these two glaring points, it includes an interview with Sofia Vergara, an actress, talking about her "killer curves". This article is written from an odd point of view. Instead of celebrating the way she looks, the writer seems almost incredulous that she's happy in her skin. Vergara doesn't seem to work out to look good (and she even says it's a part of her job, which I actually enjoyed for the honesty). The cover includes an "overlay" of Vergara in a dress - they you can peel that off and find her picture in a bikini (which is what most covers look like). Why is she not in a bikini for the regular cover? I just don't get it. Also, the magazine is chock full of ads for botox, quick weight loss supplements or pills, and food supplements that are awful for you. I realize that a magazine has to pay it's bills, but, honestly, I am just sick of it.

In the US, there is an obesity epidemic that will lead to terrible consequences. Lying to people by saying that diet and exercise don't matter is not going to help the cause at all. Exercise and diet choices need to be made accessible for everyone. And while I realize that Shape Magazine is not the spokesperson to the world, it's down to earth message of "You can do this!" is a great place to find motivation. However, not everyone has a super skinny body, not everyone is super concerned about touching thighs or the little fold of skin in the armpit. Everyone should be concerned with ways to fit in exercise on a daily basis. Ways to make healthy diet choices, how to shop for better food. How not to pass on these ridiculous ideas on body snarking and body image to our sons and daughters, who will likely bear the brunt of this obesity epidemic. How to cut back on processed food. What are processed foods? Where do they come from? How do I exercise with a toddler? How do I get my significant other to support my goals? How do I sign up for a race? How do I find other people who want to go to the gym with me? How do I live to be 100? How do I do all of this while being depressed about losing my job and my home?
Seriously, I think there are so many things these magazines could focus on. Positive spins on ways to get motivated, get moving and be active. But they disappoint me month after month, with their crap about ridiculously inane ideas of how my body should look. Well, I'm sorry, Shape, but you've just lost a subscriber.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Haiku Spring Day Friday

Spring is in the air
Warm sun, blooming trees, robins
Honking geese, green grass.


New beginnings, a
fresh start, a new outlook, the
world is renewing.


Warm days ahead, life
begins anew, new chicks, new
leaves, fresh air, fresh start!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Becoming a Runner

I don't have a lot to write about these days, as my life is filled with writing, then reading, then more writing and the occasional dance class. But I do run. Almost everyday. I haven't always been a runner. I decided one day that I wanted to be a runner, and so I started running. Just like that. I decided to start running for a number of different reasons. I don't like feeling tired. I wanted to have a "hobby". I wanted a reason to get outside. I wanted something that wasn't hard, didn't require a lot of equipment, something I could do alone. I wanted to keep up with Alex, who is a sports enthusiast. I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to run a race, to finish a race. I wanted a challenge. A lot of people have a perception that running is hard. It is both hard and not hard. It's actually pretty easy to run. Your body knows how to already. The harder things are to keep running, to convince yourself to run in that rainstorm, or when it's icy or windy outside. When running moves from physical to mental, that's when it gets hard. So, I've done a few things, tried a few things, and I thought I would write them down.
  • Start slow. As in, walk for 10 mins, then alternate running 10 seconds, walk a minute (or run longer, if you can). Cool down with a 5-10 min walk.
  • Don't worry about what you look like. People are not looking at you funny, trust me.
  • Pick a place that's pretty. Run along a waterway, a tree-lined street, a trail. Pick someplace interesting and pay attention to things around you. This morning? I saw a hawk circling and landing in a tree. Every day, I see robins running around the grass. Recently, I've seen the buds emerging on the tree (Spring is here - yay!). These things are so simple, yet so pretty. You forget you're running for a moment.
  • Make it short. Start with 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever you have in your day. I usually get up, allow myself a cup of coffee and a cup of juice and then I'm putting on my shoes and heading out the door, before I can even think about it.
  • Say hi to people you seen.
  • Try running without headphones at first. Pay attention to your breathing - I breathe in two steps, breathe out two steps. That's my rhythm. Yours might be different.
  • Buy a good bra. They cost around $40, but they're worth it. 
  • Spandex is actually a wonderful invention. Everything is kinda held in place, your thighs don't rub together to cause discomfort, and the shorts are usually a bit longer, which I like. Plus, you're a runner, so you can wear things like this without abandon!
  • Start calling yourself a runner as soon as possible. There's no set amount of time you need to run, no set distance you need to go before you self-identify. If you run, you're a runner.
  • Tell yourself you can stop and walk whenever you want to. Sometimes you might need to. Other times you might not. 
  • Push yourself, but don't hurt yourself. Make a goal of running to the next lightpost? Good for you! Make a goal of running a marathon next month? Bad idea. Keep things in perspective. 
  • If stuff hurts, take it easy. Don't beat yourself up over it. Take an ibuprofen and give it a rest. 
  • Don't think about speed or distance. Ease into things. Also, don't compare yourself to others you might see out there. I always think to myself, "I have no idea what training plan they are on. Maybe they are on a "push it" day. Maybe I am on a "resting" day. The only thing that matters is that I am moving. That has nothing to do with anyone else out there."
  • Take care of yourself. Watch your feet. Get good shoes and socks. Take the hair out of your eyes. Buy yourself a sports shirt or shorts. Eat more fruit and veggies. Thank your body for carrying you as far as it did.
  • Take your camera, or your ipod, or anything that might motivate you. It's usually pretty nice outside. Get out there. Sign up for a local 5K for a month from now. Just get up, get out and run. Good luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Clothing/Working Rant

I'm defending my thesis in about three weeks. I need to purchase some type of business clothing (as a grad student, I just don't have any!) so I headed to Ann Taylor Loft on Penn campus the other day. Granted, I realize this was not the best idea. Ann Taylor has some nice business attire, while Ann Taylor Loft seems to cater to the younger kids with more casual things (that are still kind of dressy to this CA native! Ha!). So, I realize this was my first mistake - any time I try to utilize a business on campus, the customer service is terrible. I usually just chalk it up to college students working part time and not really caring about their job. I was fully aware of this at the time that I chose to look at this store, so you can absolutely blame me for what transpired.
Like most stores in our area, the minute you walk in, someone says "Hi! How are you today?!?!?!" It's not so much of a greeting or a question, it's more of a statement. Like, proving they are there in the store. There is never a question like, "Do you need help finding anything?" So, I start to wander around the store. They have a few things that are potential, so I pick up pants and shirts and a couple dresses in two to three sizes each (more on that later). I've got my hand full. The workers are standing by the "folding table", perhaps putting away clothing...having a loud and involved conversation about Friday night, Jason, a party and "that girl". It takes them several minutes to notice me drowning in clothing (I absolutely could have asked for a dressing room) and one of them offers to get me a room. I continue to shop, grabbing this, that and the other thing, trying to make a business outfit out of what they have. I even pick up some Blanche Devereaux-type billowy, flowery blouses since they're everywhere and I think, "Well, I don't know what they look like unless I try them on." Occasionally, I have looked at something on a hanger and it looks terrible, but on, it looks great. So, I try to be open minded in the whole process.
Finally, I get my stuff and head to the dressing room. I start trying on clothing, and some of it looks OK, some of it not. I usually wear about a size 8. However, I have clothing in my closet that ranges from a 6 to a 12 (my wedding dress? a 14 - go figure!). I'm also short, about 5'3", so I sometimes wear things in petite because the regular size can be way too long (who wants to wear shirts that literally come down to my crotch?) So, I'm pretty much an 8 on the bottom and usually a 10 or 12 on top. The problem is mainly the boobs. I am between a 36-38C in the chest department. I have the impression that, although they appear large on me and my frame, that this size is rather common. So, I picked up dress pants in an 8 and a 10. The 10 was way too big - I looked like I was wearing saggy pants! and the 8s were just a bit too small. They created those "lines" across my hips, which I hate. I tried on another pair, and even though they were marked "petite", they bunched up in the crotch region, which I also hate. I understand that nobody can make pants that fit everyone, but I feel like these are common problems with a lot of my friends.
The shirts were ridiculous too. The Blanche Devereaux shirts? Yup, they made me look like a 65 year old Floridian in the 80s. The dresses bunched up in weird places, or were exceedingly short (I mean, like I said - I'm 5'3" - how could they be short on me?). One of the dresses (although a size 10) I could not even zip up in the back because it smashed my boobs so much. Ugh. Trying on clothes is a drag!
I found a shirt I really liked, white button down, short sleeves with a little ruffle collar around the neck and in the front. It wasn't too low cut, but did have a nice shape. Well, the 10, I could not even button. The 12? In petite, I couldn't button it, and in regular, it extended past my hips - for a shirt that I would tuck in to likely somewhat form fitting pants? Not gonna work!
In the meantime, there is no one in the store. It's a Monday afternoon, and the working girls are gabbing away. At one point, one of them came in to offer help, get me a new size, etc. She did do that, but she never returned after that to see if those sizes fit. I finally ended up packing up my things and heading home - they didn't even spend a minute to say "Bye!!!!!"
To a certain extent, I'm not really what the point of this post is. But, for the record, I occasionally want help at a store. Not all the time, but when I have something in particular in mind, it would be really helpful to have someone familiar with the merchandise to guide me. I realize the days of excellent customer service are long gone. I guess, mostly, I am asking that people actually do the job they are paid for. It's clear these associates are not paid on commission, otherwise, they would have fallen all over me, trying to sell me stuff (I'm not sure if that's what I wanted, either).
I'm not sure if perhaps I was judged on my appearance. I was wearing jeans and a waffle-T that says Jackson, WY. I had on a fleece and a North Face jacket. My bike helmet was hanging off my overly large backpack, and I may have been a little sweaty from wearing too many layers in the Spring. I've often thought about the scene in Pretty Woman where she walks into a snobby store she had been kicked out of previously and shows them she has the money to purchase anything in the store. Of course, she leaves (and that's something that I couldn't pull off, for sure! Ha!). I guess common courtesy and kindness are just missing. I could be like that Facebook guy who always wears grubby clothes, but they would never know.
I guess it's obvious that a company cannot just force their employees to say things ("Hi! Welcome to Ann Taylor!", "Would you like to put your purchase on your Macy's card?", etc) that don't really mean anything. The majority of the time, the employees do not want to help you, especially if they are making $6 an hour at a crappy job. I'm not sure if there is an answer to this, other than retail stores should value their employees more to create a work environment in which people want to work, not just where they show up and stand around all day. Don't get me wrong, I know that working retail is a pain. I realize that customers are demanding, and having a do-nothing at work day might be restful and meaningful. I could have asserted myself - I could have just walked into the middle of their conversation and told them I wanted help. That wasn't beyond me. I guess I just don't want to force people to work if they don't want to.
And lastly, why have clothing makers not caught on to women's different body types? Honestly, I am so tired of trying to find clothing that fits, trying to find an 8, then a 10, then a 12 and being really disappointed because the 12 fits my boobs, but I'm swimming in it everywhere else. I also realize that I am shopping at cheaper places. I honestly can't afford much higher than Ann Taylor, although I would love to use the personal shopper at Nordstrom's for a day. I'm unclear why women's clothing is not more like men's clothing. A waist size and a length? Fine by me (although it would have to have different cuts, for those with a booty like me!). A bra size when shopping for shirts (and then a choice of Small, Medium or Large, or something like that?) Hallelujah! Dresses that come in different sizes on the top vs. the bottom? Stores that do alterations? I know that, likely, at the more expensive stores and the places where clothing costs way more that I would probably find these things. I realize that a nice suit could cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. I'm just unable to afford that right now. And I understand that manufacturing has to be "cookie cutter" to a certain extent, since things are made in such large quantities. Its funny to think about because my Grandma made a lot of my Mom's clothes when she was a kid (even her high school graduation dress) and my Mom hated it. She wanted clothes with the designer labels on it, clothes that didn't look like they were made at home. Now, here we are, 40 year later, and I would love to have someone make me some clothes - especially clothes that were tailored for my body. It's funny how time moves backwards, isn't it?
Wow, so this turned into an exorbitantly long post - sorry about that. I guess I needed to get something off my chest -like these too-tight shirts these damn stores sell!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Numbers Monday (a day late)

  • This weekend marked more writing for me. I didn't really leave the house for 4 days straight - thesis writing and all. I wrote a ~20pg introduction this past weekend, and now I have to work on re-reading it to make sure it makes sense. Oh, and that whole "bibliography thing". Ugh, citations. 
  • I did, however, manage to get in a couple runs and bike rides. You see, I'm training for the Broad St. run, a 10 mile run from North Broad to the Sports Complex in South Philly. It's a great run, and I did it last year. Lots of people come out to cheer you on and the field includes some 30,000 people. Nope, not a typo. Really, that many people - cool, eh?
  • The weather has become pleasantly warm recently. It's been in the 50s during most days, so I've been enjoying some time outdoors. Although it's still not warm enough to forgo the sweater and jacket combo, if you're moving, it's quite pleasant. 
  • I've been trying not to read too much about Japan. I find the entire situation absolutely terrifying. I can't believe there is meltdown occurring in 4 nuclear reactors. Holy moly - I hope they figure out something soon!
  • I have one chapter left to write for my thesis. One measly chapter and then I'm DONE :)
  • I've spent approximately 4 hours this morning catching up on emails. I didn't even check those from Feb - just those from March. Ugh. 
  • OK, time to write a few pages and get moving. As Randi would say, "Get 'er done!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Business of Being Born

I have a lot of friends who have recently had babies or who are pregnant now, so this subject matter is at the front of my mind a lot. Plus, I literally work at a hospital, so I see all sorts o reminders of people being sick and situations that I don't want to be in, so the whole act of "having a baby" is something that has always fascinated me. The premise of this movie is that the majority of births in the Unites States occur in hospitals, which has effectively put the midwife out of business. Ricki Lake and colleagues follow around a prominent midwife to multiple home births and make the point that if you're a healthy mom and you have a normal pregnancy, then hospital birth may make things more complicated than you realize. The female body knows precisely how to have a baby and interventions normally used in the hospital can affect everything, from the progress of labor to the type of birth that ends up happening. The documentary attempts to show normal, natural birth at home as a way of normalizing home birth and introducing the general public to the art of midwifery. I have never given birth, so my first-hand knowledge of this is null, but I am a scientist and I do understand statistics. I do know that if you begin interventions (labor induction, epidural, etc) your chances of having a C-section are significantly increased. From personal experience, I do know that your brain will act totally wacko when you are in situations of pain or extreme discomfort - making you kind of "high", for lack of a better word. And I do know that women have been having children for thousands of years, so, theoretically, we should know what we are doing. I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was well done, and I thought it did shed some light on the act of home birth in trying to normalize the idea for people. I do think that it's likely an unrealistic choice for most people who do not live in a large, urban area. I think the best thing about New York (and Philly, too) is that there are hospitals within close proximity to most residences. Such that, if a complication occurs, you head to the hospital as soon as you can and you and the baby are likely OK. I do think that, if faced with the prospect of giving birth, I would likely employ a midwife as the midwives I have met have had a certain personality, a confidence, which I think would be comforting and soothing in extreme situations. Doctors with a good bedside manner, with patience? I have met few. I think the documentary is quite one-sided, but I did enjoy the idea that women should feel empowered to have their children as they want to - that birth plans should not be changed to suit the needs of the doctor or nurses. However, I don't think the film fully explored rational thought and the risks involved. While there were statistics involved in hospital births, there were few statistics involved in home birth - what are the risks? While, of course, the midwife shows up with equipment - for example, does she have the ability to stop maternal hemorrhage? While the documentary says that the US has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the developed world, is this actually due to hospital births? Or the loss of the art of midwifery? Or horrible prenatal care? Or the lack of healthcare for poor people? I mean, I can't imagine that people giving birth in hospitals are more likely to die, right? I guess a lot of this I just don't know. The home births were stunningly beautiful and really amazing. I cried at each one. I love the idea of being home, recovering at home, and just staying there, without interventions. I love the idea of letting my body take over, letting it do what it needs to (easier said than done, I am sure) and I love the idea of midwifery, which has been practiced and passed on for thousands of years. Altogether, this film made me think a lot about birth in general, birth on a personal level, and all of the physiologic processes that occur at birth that we don't even understand. I am glad for the knowledge, and I think that's the best thing a documentary can provide.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Choping down the Tree Haiku Friday

The house behind us
is abandoned; no windows
door open, roof gone.


Someone is chopping 
down the trees, overgrow and
entangled in wires.


Chainsaws, sawdust, talk
in our quiet neighborhood
I hope it's been bought.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Random Snippets

  • I've been really confused by the Republican stance on things lately. If you cut programs funded by the government, aren't you eliminating jobs, too? Aren't we trying to create jobs? Aren't a lot of people out of jobs (who might need things like, health care)? I can't exactly reconcile things in my head.
  • I am really hoping that Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is digging himself a hole he can't get out of. I hope people remember his actions now when his re-election begins.
  • If you have not been watching The Daily Show recently, give it a try. It's been really amazing lately.
  • I love Spring, but it also means my allergies are kicking in. I never had allergies in CA, but ever since I moved here, I get 'em. Damn trees reproducing.
  • The fire alarm went off at work today. It's flashing lights, alarm, and a woman talking to you. She tells you to stay put (because we're on a higher floor) and not to leave "until an emergency is confirmed". It always makes me think of 9/11. Did I listen to her? Hell no, I left and headed to the library.
  • I'm still job hunting, but there's progress - I met with the last person today, so decision making time is upon me. This should be interesting...
  • My folks are coming into town soon. And then I'm heading to CA (I'll be there for Easter, so I'm hoping to score a bit of See's candy - yummy!) and then I run a 10 mile race and then I start a new job. April is gonna be crazy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • This weekend was a bit of a bust. I worked a lot on my thesis and finished one chapter. I now have a total of 3 chapters written and 2 more to go!
  • On Saturday, the weather was a lovely 65 and it was sunny and warm for a bit. I loved it! I went out without a jacket on, ran my errands while leisurely riding my bike around town and opened up the house for a bit. I've got several bulbs coming up in the backyard, so I am hoping we have some flowers for our parents' visit coming soon!
  • Saturday night, we watched a documentary on climbing Mount Everest. Ever since I read Into Thin Air, I am fascinated by mountaineering and climbing. And, for some reason, I just wonder what stuff looks like. So it was a really interesting documentary done by the National Geographic celebrating 50 years on Everest (made in 2003 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the climbing of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa). It was fascinating and exciting. I highly recommend it for the spectacular scenery and just to watch the things these men go through to climb the mountain. Really great and informative.
  • On Saturday, Alex left at 0300 to head out to Rutgers University in NJ for his first bike race of the season. He did awesome, placing 14th overall, which is really great! I am so proud of him - he has been putting in so much time an effort into training, it was great to see him excited and racing well (although I couldn't attend the race - there's no room for spectators in the team van). He was gone something like 16 hours for a total race time of 25 minutes, which seems a bit silly, but I think he had fun.
  • Yesterday, it rained cats and dogs all day long. We stayed in and did things around the house. Alex was able to overhaul both my bikes, which was great. They needed a little TLC after this winter! My ride to work this morning was lovely and smooth (well, except for the Wyoming-like, gale force winds that knocked the power out at a lot of lights and nearly forced me into the river, but that's another story)
  • Today, I've got two meetings then it's time to tackle the next two chapters of my thesis. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Writing the Thesis Haiku Friday

Have not showered in
2 days, hair limp, pajamas
still on. Sat on couch.


Pretty gross, I know
but sort of necessary
few weeks to finish.

Reading and writing
lots of knowledge pouring out
one hundred pages.

(at least)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Movie Review: Couples Retreat

This movie was in our Netflix queue and when it came to the house, I was pretty excited to watch it. It's got such a great cast, some of my favorites, and the previews just looked funny and entertaining. I was excited to see the reunion of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn (I loved, loved, loved Swingers).  In reality, however, this movie just didn't live up to my expectations. Alex liked the movie because it tended to show "real life" (however real that can be in a movie) with couples struggling to cope with everyday tasks like raising a family or trying to conceive. The funny parts just weren't funny enough to me and, to a certain extent the "trying to show real life" was somewhat annoying and pedantic to me. The central couple is Vince Vaughn and Malin Ackerman (who I loved, by the way) and they live in a big old house with a couple kids, but often don't have time to "connect". Vince Vaughn in this role took a little convincing for me because, in my mind, he's not exactly the "family guy" type (but, in the end, I think he pulled it off really well). Their friends,  Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, are struggling to have a kid and are supposedly on the edge of divorce, although it's not really clear why, since their relationship seems to be working. They are very "matter of fact" with this, telling their friends that, in a last-ditch effort, they are headed to a couples retreat in Bora-Bora (or something like that) and they can only afford it if their friends come along. Of course, there is some hemming and hawing, but the couples all end up at the retreat and hilarity ensues.
Although it doesn't. Jon Favreau turns out to be the biggest jerk in the movie - I'm not sure whether it was his age or his character or the fact that he has a teenage daughter in the movie that creeped me out the most, but I just did not want him and his "wife" to stick together (which is, of course, what happens in the end). Faizon Love was a great character, and probably the funniest of them all. He's clearly going through a mid-life crisis and he brings along his fling for the retreat. The weakest part of the story line with him is that his wife shows up on the island (nothing like a trip to Bora Bora to try to win back your man, right?) and, of course, they end up back together. The movie is clearly about the men. The women seem to be after-thoughts, additions, extras, and they don't really come across as having real feelings or thoughts. The women take a "boys will be boys" attitude, or a "oh, you know my husband" attitude, which, in real life, makes people less accountable for their actions by stereotyping their behavior. Don't get me wrong: I loved the women in the movie, it's just that they don't really speak up or out or take control when the situation calls for it.
I'm not sure what I would have liked this movie to be about. It's clearly about couples struggling to be together, the ins and outs of relationships, and how can you keep things going when life gets in the way, but it wasn't done well. I think some of those issues are just too important to make fun of, maybe? For example, the Ackerman/Vaughn couple figures out that the husband doesn't really do anything around the house to help out and he clearly takes the wife for granted. The couple somewhat joke about it, the husband saying, "Oh, gee, I really hate picking out tile!" They have a big laugh, but nothing is ever really resolved. She wants to head to the waterfall, have a romantic evening, but he throws a fit and won't take her there. She ends up there with her girlfriends, and not really ever resolving the real "issues" that are illustrated in their family. I realize that a silly comedy movie can't address these issues seriously, but I also feel that they could have brought up issues that are funny and used those instead of issues that a lot of people face daily (and might not want to laugh about, unless its done well). Something that comes to mind is the whole "leaving the toilet seat up" - physical comedy of the wife falling in the toilet, having a "let's work this out" session with a therapist, and then the husband finally "gets it". That could have been a funny plot line - something most people can identify with, but not necessarily something that is going to break up a marriage.
In another storyline, Kristin Davis ends up staying with her husband, even though he's a disgusting perv who tries to sexually assault a masseuse. It made me think that the message from the movie is that you're always better off staying with the guy because you'll never be able to get anything better than him. She's an intelligent, beautiful woman, but she's better off staying with the fat slob who can only think about his penis, because they've been married for so long.
Clearly, I've gone off the deep end with this movie review. I was just disappointed by the film. It could have been so much better, with such an awesome cast - it could have portrayed all kinds of modern families in a funny way, with quick, intelligent humor and wit. But it failed miserably at that.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review Wednesday: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

I was lucky enough to receive this book for Christmas from my Mom and I couldn't have been more excited. I have read a couple other Jon Krakauer books and I was looking forward to diving into another. I can describe this book in one word: haunting. A few years ago, I took a trip with my friend Lisa and we were in Kathmandu, Nepal for a few days. I was fascinated by the place for a number of reasons. I had never seen mountains so tall and I had never seen people who wanted to climb said mountains. In Nepal, I saw both. I looked out the window of the airplane and I saw mountains that were even with our height in the sky. Giant crags of rock and ice with the jet stream slamming into them, blowing ice and snow in a plume hundreds of feet in the air. I can't imagine what it's like to stand at the top of a mountain like that and I still can't wrap my head around the idea that there are people who climb these mountains. In this book, Krakauer is a reporter on a guided trip to climb Mt. Everest when all disaster strikes. In the end, his team is decimated, having left several people on the mountain to die. This book is an account, as accurate as he can muster, of the time leading up to and after a disaster that will hopefully not be repeated ever again. Krakauer has an interesting way of writing. He tries to be matter of fact (as he is in the other books I have read, discussing situations which he was not directly a part of) but he somewhat tows the line between emotional recollections and hard facts. I'm not sure that he does this well, per se, but he does it honestly, as far as I can tell. Climbing Everest had always been a dream of his, and he seemed quite experienced in mountain climbing, having climbed several technically challenging mountains in his life. However, he has no experience climbing at high altitude, which could be problematic. This book was phenomenal - I couldn't put it down. It's adventure and intrigue, with characters that are likable and others that make your blood boil. It's hard to reconcile this book from the true events. For one thing, the book is telling a story of something I am so unfamiliar with, so it seems like a work of fiction. I had a hard time contrasting this with the fact that all this happened. That people were left on a mountain, never to come home again. That people made a decision to leave home, climb Everest and never returned. It was humbling to do an internet search to see the faces of these people, and to see what climbing Everest looks like. It was interesting to hear the author's take on the events, as they're not an entirely satisfactory explanation of the events (as most real life events are). I would imagine some of the things that occurred could only be understood by the people who have been there to experience the harsh reality of climbing this mountain, of living at altitude, of battling frostbite and of literally having your life hanging by a string. This book was, all together, haunting. Literally haunting. The images, the scenery in my mind created from the words on the page are still with me, days after I finished the book. It's a story of heroism, perseverance, determination and sheer luck. It's something I won't soon forget.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • chatted with several PIs on Friday about my predicament and got some great encouragement and support
  • went to dinner at a new restaurant with our friend Chris. Did not have one beer - crazy right?
  • watched 2 Daily Show episodes on the internets.
  • ran errands on Saturday, but was so exhausted I ended up taking a 2 hour nap. Why am I exhausted? I have no idea...
  • watched 1 movie, Couples Retreat. I'll have a review later this week. Read 1 book Into Thin Air - will also have a review of that sometime soon.
  • made 2 batches of hummus, 1 banana bread and 1 pan of chocolate chip cookies.
  • spent Sunday doing yard work - planting about 30 bulbs and 1 Christmas tree. And I really screwed up my wrist doing so. I am now wearing 1 ace bandage on my right hand. Ugh.
  • was able to Skype with Randi and Casey for the first time! What a great chat! I loved seeing Casey in action. What a cutie-pa-tootie!
  • Attended and Oscar party with 8 people and 1 dog. Unfortunately, we had to leave before the good stuff was awarded, but we still had a great time. 
  • Today and tomorrow, lots of meetings and talks to attend. Someday I will write my thesis :)