Category Archives: MSPAINT FTW

A rundown of recent first-world problems

1. The ants. I guess, technically, they won. I called mercy and brought in reinforcements.

The exterminator arrived on a muggy morning and circled the outside of my house. After commenting on the truly “incredible” number of ants treading on and around its foundation, he scattered little trails of what looked like potato chip crumbs. I squinted at the tiny little assholes – a bit smugly, I’m sure, as these were the outside ants – as they immediately seized the poisonous flakes and began to carry them back to…uh, “where, exactly?”

“Their nests are probably underground,” the exterminator said. “Sometimes they make colonies inside structures, but…well, let’s just assume they’re underground.”

Yes, let’s. I’d prefer not to think of my walls as mass insect graves, thousands of tiny arthropods entombed with their deadly potato chip scraps.

2. The bangs. Surprise: I’m growing them out.

What on earth was I smoking when I decided it would be a good idea to cut a thick fringe of hair atop one of the sweatiest parts of my body on the cusp of the hot/humid season? Why did none of you stop me from doing this? (Oh right…infrequent posting….)

Here’s the thing: they’re quite cute for about an hour after I’ve freshly shampooed and blow-dried them.


Then my forehead starts sweating. Just glistening, just a little bit, but it’s a downward spiral because my then the bangs make my forehead hotter and then my forehead gets even more sweaty. And then this happens.


At which point I locate the nearest pair of bobby pins, which is usually easy because ever since I got these bangs, I’ve noticed, there are little piles of bobby pins stashed all over my house. Clusters of bobby pins constantly poke me from inside my jeans pockets. The bottom of my purse is lined with bobby pins the way a forest floor is lined with pine needles. I would probably die without bobby pins.

So, yeah. They’re pinned back all of the time anyway, so I’m growing them out. High-maintenance hair is too…well, high maintenance.

3. The new toy. In the couple of weeks after the Boston thing, I was without my computer, and therefore I convinced myself that I needed an iPad.


(I just took a picture of my iPad with my iPhone. iHate myself a little bit.)

I got the iPad Mini because it was significantly cheaper and seemed easier to haul around. I also got a little bluetooth keyboard and this combo worked surprisingly well as an interim computer. (I even did a significant amount of writing on it, including that really long Boston post.)

But now I have my computer back and do you want to know what I mostly use my iPad for now? Candy Crush Saga.

I seriously don’t know how I previously managed to clear all of the jelly and bring all of the ingredients* to the bottom on my tiny little phone screen. And thus, I suppose my life has been improved in one miniscule way by this tragedy.

But here’s the issue: I cannot seem to get my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook on the same page. I add things to my calendar on the iPad and they show up on the phone but not the computer. I save a picture on my phone and it shows up on my computer but not the iPad. I feel like my “cloud” has problems and I’m not sure how to fix them, short of hauling all of my devices to the Apple store. Which I could certainly do, but…ugh, the mall.

I know, woe is me. This might be the FWP to end all FWP.

4. The fitness plan. I’ve run a handful of times since the marathon. Mostly easy 3-5 milers, although I did attempt one track workout. We did 400s and it was, um, unpleasant…but I was surprised to consistently come in around 1:33-1:35, which is only about 5-10 seconds off of my “in shape” pace. My confidence swelled.

Then there was last Friday. We were out of town attending a wedding. Right after a late lunch, I tried to squeeze in a quick run before I had to get all prettied up, and…hurk. Three miles felt like six. Eight minute pace felt like an all-out sprint. As I hauled ass back toward our hotel, with turkey club sandwich and kettle chips churning in my belly, I marveled at the fact that I ran a marathon a month ago.

A month ago. How did I get so out of shape so quickly?

No matter, though. I’m not trying to get back in top running shape right now. I have no races** on my calendar. I’d like to burn off a little bit of the weight I’ve gained, and I’m basically going to follow the same formula that I used last summer for the same purpose: a couple of days of boot camp, a couple of days of yoga, and a couple of days of running, maybe one of them at the track.

(And also limiting junk carbs and booze. Which is challenging when we’re in the middle of Wedding Season 2013, and gosh, it’s really impolite to refuse cake and champagne, right?)

5. The house. Okay, let me just say at the outset that I am beyond thankful to have a house that is fucking standing in light of the tornado that tore through OKC this afternoon. What a horrible tradgedy. Tornadoes. They are literally the stuff of nightmares.

I grew up in the mountainous Pacific Northwest in a volatile earthquake zone, and also in a city that sits right in the flow path of an active volcano that most experts think will blow sooner or later. But, to me, for some reason, tornadoes are far more terrifying and surreal than earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.  Even now that I’m a Southerner, living in an area that could theoretically get a twister, it’s still the sort of cinematic thing that I primarily associate with wicked witches and flying monkeys.

And then I watch the news on days like today and that shit is all too real.

Anyway. Our house. It’s not currently under tornado threat, but this thing is a goddamn colander.

When we bought the place a year ago, we knew there were water issues. We had the entire roof drainage system evaluated and reconfigured by a commercial roofing company (we have a flat roof). I have diligently wielded my caulk gun, loaded with a silicon sealant, upon the cracks and crevices that naturally emerge. For a few months, it seemed we’d fixed things. But then, a couple of weeks ago, it rained hard for a couple of days and we ended up with a mixing bowl full of coffee-colored drippings in our dining room. Which is not anywhere near the roof.

dining room

I love our house for so many reasons, but this is aggravating. I’ve had three contractors out so far and have stumped all of them as to the cause of the water intrusion. I suppose there is a reason that flat-roofed, stucco-coated homes are common in places like arid Palm Springs and less so in soggy Northern Georgia.

Anyway. Life could certainly be worse if these are the things that plague me: non-poisonous insects, hair frizz, calendar syncing, occasional ceiling leaks.

Le sigh.


*What the fuck are these “ingredients” anyway? Acorns and cherries, always acorns and cherries. Either we are squirrels or this is the worst pie ever.

**Well, I have Peachtree on July 4. But I’m not actually racing it. Last year’s Peachtree 10K consisted of 47 minutes of “racing” followed by three hours of drinking beer in Piedmont Park. That ratio seems about right.

Avoidable mistakes

A couple of weeks ago, I rolled my lawnmower out of my garage for the first time since last November.


Out of necessity. I recently hired a weed-control service to apply noxious pesticides to my yard because, while I would love for my lawn to be all organic and shit, there are some big nasty weeds that grow here in Georgia.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried. These weeds laughed at my applications of “natural” weed killer. They spat in my face when I attempted to gouge out their grippy roots. I’d slice them with my scythe, and they’d grow back knee-high overnight. At some point, it became clear that they were aiming to swallow whole the lot of expensive sod we laid down last fall. Something had to be done.

So the lawn service came, and they tucked an invoice rolled like scroll behind my front doorknob, along with a nastygram:

“Please mow your lawn before your next scheduled application. Our services will be less effective at the treatment of weeds this large.”


That afternoon, even though the grass was still brown and dormant, I dragged out my mower. The one I’d purchased less than a year ago. It was still fairly shiny and new. I yanked the ignition-string thingy. Several times. Finally, the beast rumbled and awoke…and started spewing stinky bluish smoke.


I yelped and  jumped back, releasing the safety handle. The mower shuddered and stopped. I watched, horrified, as the smelly plume drifted across the street and dissipated over my neighbors’ yards and houses. For sure, someone was going to pop out of their front door and give me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-over-there look.

But no one did. Feeling weirdly ashamed, I ducked my head and rolled the mower back in to the garage.

In the days the followed, the weeds continued to grow. I tried to run the mower again, and again I got a face full of blue smoke. And then it stopped starting altogether. So I loaded it into the back of my car and drove it to the local hardware store, which has an in-house repair shop.

The guy there took one look at my shiny-new mower, and then one look at me, and asked:


But this guy was a master of the skeptically-arched eyebrow, and I knew what he was really asking.


Because, no. I had not drained my lawnmower before storing it for the winter. In fact, I had not even considered that I was storing it for the winter. I simply stopped using it and assumed it would work again the next time I fired it up.

So, yes. I was probably a damn fool.

$75 later, I have a fully functioning machine with a clear fuel line and carborator.  From what I can gather, they gave my poor mower the equivalent of a colon cleanse. But it works now. It irks me that I could have avoided all of this if I’d been a little more attentive and responsible, but…oh well. At least I was able to mow over my massive weeds today, leaving their juicy roots exposed for the pesticide peoples’ next visit.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, of course, it’s an awkward metaphor for my marathon situation.

As you know if you read my last post, I’m not exactly well-prepared for Boston.

I could have been well-prepared if I’d done some simple things. Like actually running. Or planning race logistics more than a few days out.

Such as: yesterday, it occurred to me that my shoes were shot. I only get ~300 miles on my PureFlows and although I haven’t been tracking my mileage, my current pair was definitely over that. On a five-miler last Sunday, I felt the concrete on every footfall.

So I bought a new pair today.


I will run in them twice, probably, before Monday’s race. Definitely not recommended. Although at least they are the same model I had before, just a different color (which I am kind of digging! ninja shoes! they are like the anti-neon).

So the shoes are an oversight…really, a symptom of a broader apathy. There is no reason I couldn’t have trained for this race. I just didn’t do it. I’m a damn fool. And at this point, no $75 repair is going to change that.

Hopefully I won’t be blowing smoke at mile three on Monday.

Boston expectations

So. This Boston Marathon thing is happening in ten days.

People keep asking me if I’m excited (only for it to be over) and whether I am enjoying my taper (well, you need a peak in order to have a taper, sooo…). This whole so-called “training cycle” has been a taper. I am comically underprepared for this race.

Nonetheless, I will be at the starting line in Hopkinton a week from Monday. Is this a good idea? No, probably not. I haven’t run more than 40 MPW in months. I did do a slow twenty-miler…in February. My heart just hasn’t been in it. If this were any race other than OMG Boston, I’d have bowed out weeks ago.

I’ve done this before (suffered through a marathon with inadequate prep) and I’ll be fine. But I am not endorsing this style of training. Do as I say, not as I do. (Well, probably don’t do as I say either most of the time. Occasionally I pop a kernel of brilliance like taking the Color Run concept and turning it into a Vodka Squirt Gun Extravaganza, but usually my judgement is, at best, clouded by the wine.)

Anyway. Here are the things that I am not expecting from this Boston Marathon experience:


Obviously. At this point, I’d consider a sub-4 finish a victory.

This might be attainable.

Case in point: Back in 2009, I ran the NYC marathon on seven weeks of questionable training after spending an entire summer traveling in Asia. During that trip I spent lots of time scarfing noodles and drinking cheap beer and did not run a single step from July to September. Upon my return to the US, I was chubby and flabby and worked my way up to about 40 MPW with one twenty-miler before it was time to “taper” for the race. I finished in 3:58.

There are certain similarities between then and now. Mostly the chubby-and-flabby part; also, the low-mileage part and the single-twenty-miler part. (There are also certain differences, like the three year age difference between then-me and now-me. Three years may not sound like much, but tell that to my ever-slowing metabolism.)

So: sub-4 or bust. Or not. I don’t really care. Normally I’m not one to run races “just for the FUNSIES!” but in this case, it’s my best option. Since I have no chance of being anywhere near PR range, I may as well run easy and try to enjoy it, right?

(There will be no sparkle skirts involved though. Trust.)

NOT EXPECTING #2: Good race pictures. 

Okay, so no one ever expects good race pictures. Raise your hand if you’ve never gasped in horror at the way your mouth looks like a drooly amoeba, or cursed your thigh (which is all muscle! WTF!) for resembling a drumstick made of Jell-O. Generally speaking, running is not a flattering activity.

Race pics make me cringe when I’m in good shape. And right now? I am not in good shape.

I’ll be honest here. I have gained some weight. About 10-15 pounds from my low point last summer. I’m not going to go in to the reasons for this, and I’m not going to complain about it, but I will say that while I am at peace with my clothed self in the mirror, I do not need to see this shit half naked and in motion.

I have considered making a diva-esque sign to hang around on my neck: “NO PHOTOS PLEASE.”

no photos please

But really…I am not a celebrity ducking the paparazzi. These MarathonFoto people mean me no harm. I just wish they would stick to pictures of, like…my ankles. Or my nose. Yes, ankles and nose photos only, please, MarathonFoto. If we could just avoid the thighs and the midsection and the double-chin danger zone, that would be great.

NOT EXPECTING #3: To ever return.

Mark my words: I am not doing this again. This as in Boston or this as in marathons generally. I’ve marathoned every year for the last 13 years. I am done.

I’ve always enjoyed running but I have not enjoyed it recently. There is nothing fun about feeling daily guilt over not running enough because you have an upcoming race that you’re dreading.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to read running blogs where people are all like, “OMG! I love running so much!” I wonder why I don’t feel that way. But then I remind myself that I’ve been doing this for almost twenty years. Seriously. The travel break that I mentioned earlier? That was the only significant break I’ve taken from running since I was 13. I’m burned out. And it’s okay to feel burned out.

I cannot wait until after this race when I can just, like, go to yoga or whatever. Yes, I am excited about going to goddamn yoga. The times, they change.

I promise, I’m not all negative about Boston, though. There are a few things that I am happily expecting from this experience.

EXPECTING #1: Friends food beer friends food beer!

Our good friends Chris and Annie live on the finish line of the marathon. Literally. I took this picture last year, while spectating Boston Inferno 2012 from their rooftop.

boston finish line

(That white tent is the finish line.)

Being the best hosts ever, they have offered to house us again this year, and after finishing this damn thing, I will be heading straight back down Boylston Street for a shower, a cold beer, and shenanigans.

EXPECTING #2: Decent weather.

Probably jumping the gun, but unless there’s a dramatic change, it looks like highs in the 50s right now. Fucking rad.

boston weather

(I’m sure I’m jinxing it by writing this. Sorry, everyone.)

EXPECTING #3: To go out on a high note.

Over the last sixteen weeks, as I’ve beat myself up for ditching my training plan, wallowed in self-loathing over my lack of motivation, and bemoaned my body-fat percentage, I’ve also entertained kind of a nice thought: after thirteen years of running marathons, Boston could be my last, and that would be kind of nice. I could just do it for the high-fives. A twenty-six mile victory lap.

I won’t lie and say that Boston was never on my mind during the decade that I marathoned annually and failed to qualify. On my very first try, at age 20, I came within three minutes of the standard. That 3:42:XX was my PR until age 31. During the ten races between, while I was never obsessed with Boston…it was there, in the back of my mind. I guess I assumed that I’d qualify eventually. Fortunately, I was right.

In some ways, my current situation reminds me of track season my senior year of high school. I’d worked all season to qualify for a spot in the 3200M at the state championships. Which I did. But I was seeded tenth in a field of sixteen, and the top three girls were, like, a full minute (or more) ahead of me. I had zero shot at a podium. Did it really matter whether I finished sixth or sixteenth? Was it worth sacrificing the end of my senior year (missing parties and, uh, other important stuff) for this race?

(It didn’t end up mattering, as I got mono and finished second to last. Yay.)

But the point remains: I made it to the big dance. The making it was what mattered. Everything else was icing on the cake.

If Boston is my icing, then I intend to just enjoy it for what it is: that last bite of sugar when the plate is empty. As I said earlier, I really think I’m done with marathons after this. It would be lovely to end the era by floating happily over the finish line with a smile on my face.

I know. Good luck, right? It’s still a marathon. Even at an easy pace, it’s hard. I know this. I’ll get through it, and I’m looking forward to closing this chapter and moving in to other things.

End note to an already long post: I know I should be happy to be running Boston. I know there are lots of people who would gladly take my place. I feel like an ungrateful shithead for being so negative. I do think that qualifying for and running Boston is an achievement, and I wish I were as stoked about it as I should be! But I won’t fake it…and honestly, this is one of many reasons that I haven’t posted much recently. (So if you’re still here reading…well, thank you.)

Two important Halloween lessons

I was 24 the first time I felt like a real actual grown-up on Halloween.

My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I had just moved in to our first real actual house in a real actual neighborhood. As the end of October drew near, it occurred to me that we might be visited by real actual trick-or-treaters.

I had never hosted a trick-or-treat before. I’d always lived in apartment buildings where the corridors teemed with drunk twenty-somethings on Halloween rather than candy-seeking tots. So when the big day came around, I went to Costco and bought what seemed like a ludicrously large bag of candy…

…and emptied it into a bucket. Excited, we poured glasses of wine and waited.

With the first few rings of the doorbell, we jumped up from the couch, ran to the porch, and cooed at the cute little kids in their costumes before generously offering up multiple treats. After all, who wants to be that stingy house that only gives out one thing? We were young, we were cool, we were only, oh, a decade or so removed from the trick-or-treat experience ourselves! We did not want to be that house.

 Things were going great for about an hour.

And then we saw the buses.

As we soon learned, the next neighborhood over had a Halloween tradition that involved bussing its kids into our neighborhood (which was, admittedly, more affluent and probably safer) for trick-or-treating. Which would have been fine, except…

our candy situation. It was dire. Our generous payout policy had left us nearly bankrupt.

As the school buses disgorged hundreds (literally) of tiny pirates and zombies and fairy princesses, my husband carefully rationed our dwindling treat supply while I crashed around the kitchen, searching for anything that could be construed as an appropriate offering.

A half bag of Hershey’s Kisses and a box of granola bars bought us about five minutes. At which point we began to discuss how we were going to shut things down in a tactful manner. There was no ebb in the tide of children pouring on to our porch. It was inevitably going to be awkward.

Then I had an idea, and fetched our bucket of spare change.

Word spread quickly, and before long we had an actual line at our door.. As it turned out, these kids were way more excited about nickels and dimes than they were about Butterfingers and Snickers. Gasps and shrieks of excitement echoed around the porch as we doled out coins.

I don’t even know how much money was in the change bucket. Probably a decent amount. We’d been planning to eventually cash it in and spend it on something fun. Which, actually, we totally did.

And it was a small price to pay for two important lessons:

(1) There is nothing wrong with being that stingy house; and

(2) When it comes to Halloween Candy, always buy MORE. (There’s only upside!)

It’s been eight years since we lived in that first real actual grown-up house. We’re in a different neighborhood in a different state in a different time zone now, looking forward to another first trick-or-treat experience. I have no idea how many kids we will get tonight, but if a busload shows up, I am ready.

Happy Halloween!

Some of us are happier than others.

WTF is this? A straitjacket?

Lady, you have ruined my fourth afternoon nap.

We are never, ever, ever, ever getting back together.


Pool problems

Swimming. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but…okay, I don’t really enjoy it.

Especially at my gym’s pool, which seems to disproportionately attract weirdos in snorkel masks and floating band-aids and such.

But: today I swam, and…

…my goggles didn’t leak.

…I didn’t have to share a lane.

…my cap kept my hair dry. (Mostly.)

…there were no creepers lurking underwater.

…I didn’t brush up against any disgusting floating things.

It was almost fun. 

My shins are still stabby so I’ve been laying off running this week. I’ve been hitting the weight room, but felt like I could use a little cardio. So I hopped in the pool for 37 minutes and covered 1500 yards. Not exactly setting any speed records, but it was nice to get my heart rate up and stretch out my chest and shoulders, which were sore from lifting.

And so I’ll say to myself: Hey, that wasn’t so bad, you should get in the habit of swimming as cross-training on a regular basis!

But then I won’t until I’m hurt again.

Oh well.

On another note, I had the awesomest salad for lunch today.

I eat some sort of salad for lunch most days, but I never blog about it because that’s boring. Usually it’s leftover whatever-meat with some cheese and nuts and fruit. Today’s combination, however, was worthy of the internets.

I guess that is still just leftover meat and cheese and nuts and fruit, but this ribeye-chèvre-walnut-pear combo was delicious.

I seared the pears in the same pan I’d used to reheat the steak, which made them extra soft and sweet and delicious. And this dressing from Stonewall Kitchen is amazing:

…especially for a dressing that has no sugar.

Anyway. So I went swimming and didn’t totally hate it, and I ate a great salad.

Not a bad Wednesday.

But I’m hoping to be back to running tomorrow.

Triple crown

This is really stupid, but I spent most of the last two weeks freaking out about my dentist appointment.

It had been…a while. Two years maybe? Not nearly as bad as the time I let it go 5+ years, but bad enough.

I hate going to the dentist. It’s irrational, because obviously they are trained professionals, but having people all up in my grill with their bright lights and pointy sticks makes my palms sweat. A couple of years ago when I had to have a root canal, they had to Xanax me because I was shaking and sweating and squirming so much. I just can’t help it.

What is actually happening at the dentist is this:

But what I see is this:

It’s beyond dumb, but try as I may, I cannot view those dental tools  – the sharp poky things and whizzy spinning things – as anything other than devices that could potentially maim me.

And then the sweating starts.

But I knew I had something wonky going on with one of my old fillings, so I finally sucked it up and made the appointment.

Of course, both the hygienist and dentist were nothing but warm, friendly, and professional. During the OMG WHAT IS THAT HORRIBLE SCRAPING NOISE HOLY CRAP IT’S COMING FROM MY MOUTH portion of the cleaning, I asked for a towel to rub against my clammy palms. I kneaded the towel like a cat, closed my eyes, and tried to imagine that I wasn’t in the middle of a limestone quarry. It sort of worked.

It’s funny how I have no problem inflicting discomfort upon myself (for instance, last night’s track set – more about that in a minute) but I cannot tolerate other people inflicting it upon me.

That’s going to suck when I have to go back next week for a(nother) crown. My third. I guess I am collecting them. Like some sort of imperial conquistadora.

At least I don’t have to have a root canal this time. The nerve of the tooth is fine; it’s just that the manky old filling is too big to repair or replace.

Ugh. Who wants to slip me some Xanax?

Anyway. Yesterday’s track workout was a fun one. (A million time more fun than a dental cleaning.) In a rare departure from 800s and 400s, we were assigned a medley-ladder of sorts: 800, 2X400, 3X200, 2X100, repeat.

100M! That’s like a game.

This workout flew by. Even though we were on the track for almost 90 minutes (between warm up and cool down, all the recovery time that comes with lots of intervals, and post-run stretch), it never felt like a grind.

That doesn’t mean it was easy, though.

By the time I got my butt halfway down that backstretch, Bolt would’ve been almost finished. Crazy!

The sprints were fun, but the 800s and 400s were the meat of the workout and I was happy with how I ran them. Of course, pacing was a little tricky on the second set. Fresh off an all-out sprint, I felt totally weird on that second 800. I was sure I was going way too fast or way too slow, but it turned out that I was right on. I guess my legs knew what to do, even though my lungs were still burning from the shorter stuff.

Between the last pair of 400s, one of my friends told me I looked like I was running strong. I thanked him and said that I felt like I was going to puke.

I love track work outs.

Recovery run this morning, then back to boot camp tomorrow. I’ve been in the habit of tacking an easy 2-3 mile run on to the end of boot camp classes, but now that it’s getting (slightly) cooler in the evenings, I want to start to increase the distance of those runs a little. I’ve been hanging out at 25 MPW for most of the summer; I’m ready to start building back up a bit!

Fire hydrant fury

I missed yesterday’s track workout.  About an hour before I was supposed to leave, I started feeling migraine-y and if there is one thing I don’t mess with, it’s migraines.

Instead of running, I snuggled on my bed and watched crazy storm clouds dance with the skyline. Maybe it was a good day to take a pass anyway.

This morning, I woke up with every intention of doing a nice little treadmill tempo to make up for the missed speed session. But when I got out of bed, it came to my attention that my ass was, in fact, on fire.

Okay, not really, but holy hell delayed-onset muscle soreness! At Tuesday’s boot camp, we did these slightly embarrassing fire hydrant things. You know what I’m talking about.

It’s awesome that we do these in the middle of a crowded public park. I’m sure the after-work picnicking-and-frisbee-tossing set appreciates it.

I’ve been doing this boot camp for six weeks now, and I have to say that (public humiliation factor aside) I’m rather enjoying it. I’ll write a complete review at some point (right now I’m at six weeks, and I think I’ll continue through twelve weeks) but I have no doubt that I’ve become stonger.

(Photo credit: Ramped Revolution Fitness.)

Those damn ropes are heavy and I know that the first time I tried this, I barely got them past my boobs. But now, I own the ropes around the tree. For whatever that matters. Which is probably doesn’t.

I’m a few days late, but here were last week’s workouts:

That average pace was a little surprising to me – at first. Generally speaking, as I’ve cut my mileage way down this summer, my pace has improved a bit. But this last week I didn’t do a track session (because of Peachtree), and aside from that race (which was pretty slow, for me) all I did was super easy mileage. Not hard to get to an 9+ minute average.

Looking at body comp, I continued to make small moves in the right direction:

It may not seem like much, but I’m pretty happy with my progress. I no longer have a flabby gut. And I think most of it is due to a higher protein diet and minimizing shitty carbs (which I’m officially terming “carbage”) but I’ll write more about that later.

And for the record? My ass is still on fire.

Salmon of death

I was rather pleased with myself last night. After a particularly hard boot camp, I came home and made this gorgeous, delicious, and (most importantly) healthy dinner.

Salmon (this salmon, to be exact), asparagus, sweet potatoes. I plopped down in front of the TV with my plate and a big glass of water and proceeded to happily (if a bit smugly) enjoy each bite, thinking about how a few months ago I probably would have gone for a frozen pizza and a pint of beer when eating late after a tough workout.

As I speared one of the last flakes of fish and dredged it through the remaining sauce, I felt a little prickle in the back of my throat. So I swallowed the sweet potato I’d been chewing and chased it with a big glug of water.

But that didn’t help. It felt like I’d taken an unlatched safety pin down the hatch.

My first instinct was to cough. Hard.

I turned around and stood (I’d been sitting on the floor) so that I could, you know, get my back in to it. Or something. My husband gaped in shock as I stood there hacking, hinged at the hip over our brand new white sofa.

By now it was clear that I had a rusty nail stuck in my tonsils and no amount of coughing was going to dislodge it. Without my really thinking about it, my body engaged its next line of defense and began to move stuff back up from the other direction.

I think my husband knew this was coming before I did, because he sprinted to the kitchen for a bowl and returned just in time for me to grab it and deposit my entire gorgeous, delicious, and healthy dinner.

But this fucking thing – which was now a giant prehistoric wooly-mammoth-slaying spear – was still stuck in my throat.

At this point, things got a little gross. I apologize if this makes you squeamish.

With the threat of upchucking out of the way, the gag reflex was far less threatening. So I reached down my throat and, using my thumb and index finger like a pair of clumsy tweezers, probed around the squishy maze of tonsil and trachea and uvula until I grasped the world’s smallest salmon bone and triumphantly pulled it out.

“Look at this!” I called to my husband, who was standing five feet away regarding me with a saucer-eyed mix of concern, horror, and awe.

We marveled at the fact that such a tiny piece of bone could cause such drama. I said something about how I had a newfound respect for bears, eating fish straight out of the river and all. My husband noted that Gollum must have been, in this respect, a total bad ass.

“Also, I’m really glad you didn’t puke on the couch,” he confessed.

I nodded. This was understandable. It is a brand new white couch.

“That was scary, but I’m really upset that I parted with all of that food,” I admitted. Wild salmon isn’t cheap.

So that’s my PSA for today: careful with them bones. I had never experienced anything like this, but it was sufficiently frightening and gross that I’ll definitely be more cautious when eating fish from now on.

Since I had to replace those lost dinner calories somehow, I ate a chocolate-dipped vanilla bar.

Junk food. It may kill you in the long run, but at least my ice cream has never tried to choke me.

Attack of the waspjacket bumblehornets

When I was younger, I spent a summer in Thailand. It was a classic slacker-bum trip: nonexistent itinerary, overstuffed backpacks, sketchy hostels, and a dog-eared (and inexplicably sticky) Lonely Planet book.

One of our impromptu stops was Chiang Mai, the northern provincial capital and jump-off point for the region’s requisite tourist trek: Elephant Camping.

The Chiang Mai hostels were happy to arrange a guided tour of the surrounding countryside, populated by Karen tribes, who most people identify as those long-necked women who wear stacks of gold rings around their necks. It was supposed to be culturally immersive, and to some extent it was, but really the draw was that instead of having to walk, your group would cruise through the jungle paths atop a pack of large, surly elephants.

It was a blast.

One morning, we were all packed up and ready to leave our camp when I realized I needed to take a last-minute bathroom break. Because straddling a lumbering five-ton elephant for several hours with a full bladder sounded like a really uncomfortable idea.

Of course, there were no bathrooms. There was jungle. So, per the usual, I tromped up the hill flanking our campsite, fighting through the maze of trees and ferns and vines until I found a nice little clearing, shielded by a fat palm tree.

Although I’d done my share of pop-and-squats on domestic camping trips, being in the dense jungle was kind of scary so I didn’t exactly stop to examine the area in detail. Hastily, I assumed the position.

That is probably why I overlooked the fact that I was emptying my bladder directly over a hive of some sort.

First, I felt an unpleasant pinch on my tricep. But at this point, I was used to being bitten by all manner of bugs…and I was mid-stream, so I brushed it off. Then I felt one on my shoulder, and on my ankle, and then (horrifyingly) on my ass cheek.

I looked back over my shoulder and saw a group of about a dozen massive bee-like creatures hovering over their urine-splashed hive in an understandably agitated manner. About a million more were crawling out of the hive’s pockets.


I took off through the jungle, running back down the hill toward the campsite, vaguely aware that I was feeling little pinches all over my body. I tried to sprint, but this was challenging because my shorts and underwear were still around my ankles.

The bees were fast. I could hear them buzzing behind me. As I flailed down the densely vegetated slope, I glanced backward to check my lead and two questions simultaneously popped to mind:

1) Why am I looking back? Coach always told me never to look back. Looking back is a waste of energy. Just run.

2) Why are there strings flying behind me? Oh. It’s because my halter top has somehow come untied. That’s…additionally awesome.

Neither of these thoughts were particularly useful, but somehow, as I crashed through the last stretch of jungle to the campsite, the swarm of bees faded away.

I had won.

Unhappily, my victory was tarnished by the fact that the finish involved stumbling inelegantly – half naked and covered in welts – into a semi-circle of fellow Elephant Campers. Who were fully geared up and waiting for me, overstuffed backpacks and all.

(I think it’s relevant to acknowledge that this group included my then-boyfriend, who is now my husband, and who obviously wasn’t totally scarred by this sight. Thanks, babe.)

I held my disconnected halter top up with one hand while tugging my shorts up with the other and tried, through panicked and panty breaths, to explain the situation.

But to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. Obviously, I’d picked a poor place to pop a squat. I’d disturbed the nest of a large stinging insect, unintentionally assaulting their home with what, to them, must have been a hurricane of urine.

And I’d been stung. A lot. Like, My Girl a lot. If I’d been allergic, I totally would have gone the way of Macaulay Culkin.

Our Karen tour guide then proved himself to be the baddest bad-ass on the face of the earth. After making sure I wasn’t going to die and asking me a dozen questions about the exact location of my unfortunate restroom, he left me with a tube of ointment and took off up the hill. When he returned ten minutes later, he explained that the hive had been “taken care of.”

HOW DID YOU NOT GET STUNG? I wanted to know.

He did get stung, he explained. But he was so accustomed to the bees and their venom that his body didn’t react.

Bad. Ass.

Anyway, why is this long-winded story relevant?

Because this happened ten years ago and since then, I hadn’t been stung by a bee. Until today.

I was up on our roof deck, sweeping up dirt and stray flakes of cracked slate tile in preparation for the application of a coat of sealant. Apparently there’s a nest up there. Somehow, with my gruff broom action, I disturbed it.

A dozen red buzzing insects appeared. (Wasps, hornets? Who knows.) In some ways, it was like Elephant Camp all over again. I felt that first pinch. Then I stood there, dumbfounded, for several seconds while I processed what was happening.

And then I got the hell out of there.

On the plus side, I only got stung twice, and today’s incident didn’t involve any nudity.

On the minus side, this problem is…actually mine to deal with. No bad-ass Karen trekking guide is going to “take care of” it. And no lumbering five-ton elephant is going to carry me away from it.

I had planned to go back up there in the cooler evening hours (when bees are generally less active) and spray the area with poisonous spray, but sunset came and went. And I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t think I was scared of bees until today’s minor incident brought back these ten-year-old memories.

As it turns out: I’m kind of scared of bees.

And I think I’ll leave this problem for someone else to deal with. Husband, roof guy, pest control guy. I don’t know who, but I know that I’m not going to fight this particular battle. There are plenty of other projects around this house that don’t involve declaring war against a colony of stinging red bees.

Incidentally, one of those projects is fixing our perpetually-running toilet. This toilet is annoying and less than ideal, but we’ve been living with it. Because, hey – you’ve gotta go somewhere.

Which is exactly the sort of attitude that got me in to trouble in the first place. 

If I’m not going face the bees, I suppose it’s only appropriate that I deal with the toilet, right?

As disgusting and creepy as toilet tanks are…at least they don’t sting.

Viral karma

Last Monday, my husband came home sick from work. I suppressed my look of shock as he shuffled through the front door, ghostly and disheveled, his office trash can dangling from his fingertips.

He’s not a person who stays home sick often (um…ever?), so I knew this must be pretty bad.

For the next few days, I dutifully played nurse, fetching glasses of juice and bowls of soup and pressing the back of my hand to his forehead and assuring him that according to my super-scientific measurement method,  his fever was definitely on the wane.

I felt horrible for him. Being sick sucks.

But deep down, I was also so glad it wasn’t me.

I know that’s probably a horrible thing to think, but I thought it. And…I guess I sort of congratulated myself. This sickness must have considered me and taken a pass, intimated by my sturdy genetics and healthful lifestyle.

From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to full-on Darwinian smugness.

As the week wore on, I continued to marvel at my body’s apparent ability to resist this bug/virus thing. I became cockier and bolder: a swig from his Gatorade bottle here, a risky kiss on the lips there. Obviously, I was equipped with some sort of invisible super-shield. I began to imagine the bug/virus thingies falling haplessly to the ground, stunned by the power of my impenetrable immune system, as my shield and I cut through them unscathed.

I am sure you have probably guessed where this is going.

To my credit, my timing was good. Just as I went down, my husband started feeling a little better; well enough to fetch me glasses of juice and bowls of soup, anyway. And happily, our kitchen was already well stocked with both.

The flu came and went. By the weekend, we were both back to normal. Minus one imaginary immuno-super-shield.

I think in the future, I’ll leave the inflated sense of evolutionary value to those members of the household for whom it’s better suited.