Category Archives: MSPAINT FTW

The yoga racket

Last night, I made my (in)glorious return to the yoga studio. It had been over a year. After class, I emailed my friend Gesina: “I need a beer. That f*cking yoga nearly killed me.”

Zen, I am not. But since I never stretch and weight lifting bores me, I’m hoping to work on both flexibility and strength by attending this 75-minute Hot Vinyasa class a couple of times a week.

As I was sliding around on my drenched mat last night, hands and feet grasping for purchase, I thought, here is the problem with me and yoga: I’m a major sweater. Add a heated room and it becomes downright dangerous. My down dog hovers precariously on the edge of a face plant; my triangle is moments away from a painful reintroduction to the forward splits, which I haven’t been able to do since the ballet lessons of my youth.

Maybe I need a better mat? Or to slather my hands and feet with glue beforehand?

Most frustrating about this is the fact that this doesn’t appear to be a problem for anyone else in the room.

Oh yes, I know, I’m not supposed to be comparing myself to others while practicing yoga. But I do. Like, before class, when everyone is setting up their mats and waiting for the teacher to arrive. Is it just me, or is that stretch of time super awkward? I never know what to do with myself. Some people are doing complicated vinyasas on their mats (which would make me feel stupid) and others are laying down (which would make me feel lazy). So I just sit there and watch other people and wonder if I’m the only one who is thinking, when is this damn thing going to start already?

But while it sucks that everyone else’s fingers lace neatly behind their backs while mine aren’t even close to touching, or that I have to build a mountain of blocks under my palm in order to coax myself into a proper side angle, what bugs me most is that I’m poring out enough sweat to swamp the room while everyone else looks bone dry.

At one point during yesterday’s class, I was so frustrated that I swore I wasn’t going to return, despite having just plunked down $35 for a new-student-special month of unlimited classes.

Ah, but yoga. It’s a racket, I swear! After an hour of sweaty suffering, you’re instructed to lay down. Close your eyes! Take a little catnap! Here, let me put a cool lavender towel over your eyes. Just listen to this soft music and empty your mind….

What was that about drowning in a pool of my own perspiration? I’ll be back tomorrow, yoga.

But first, I definitely need a beer.

A thousand random last times

Folks, I am at the point in the moving process where I find myself pausing constantly to reflect on the fact that it’s the VERY LAST TIME I’ll do some random meaningless thing here in Raleigh. Ever.

The thing is, I don’t consider myself a particularly sentimental person. And, really…I’ve only lived here for a couple of years, it’s not like my roots are that deep. But I still find myself pulling out the VERY LAST TIME card with disturbing frequency.

Saturday morning was the VERY LAST TIME I would ever run a 5K in Raleigh. If you recall, I wasn’t planning to race it. I stuck to my word, and cruised at 7:15 pace to a 22:25 finish, which is exactly the speed I’m hoping to run for 13.1 next weekend. And in the process, I paced a teammate to a PR, while reminding him that this was the VERY LAST TIME we’d ever run a race together, so therefore he’d better sack up and run faster. (I should be a coach…really.)

This morning, I headed out to Umstead for my VERY LAST TIME running in the park. It was a gorgeous morning and I was delighted to be out there in the crisp sunshine, even with the abrupt and crude removal of daylight savings time. I met Joe and we covered 13 easy miles. Oh yeah, it was probably my VERY LAST TIME running with him, too. So many goodbyes.

I also said goodbye to Bottle Revolution this weekend. I had damn well better be able to find a place to buy interesting beers in Atlanta.

Anyway. Here are a couple of weeks of pretty boring training data. First, two weeks back, which was Foot Injury Week:

And second, this past week, which was Flu Week:

On the bright side, hey: it’s the VERY LAST TIME I’ll ever have a strange foot injury that may or may not have been from something as silly as tying my shoes too tight! And the VERY LAST TIME I’ll ever have the Flu in North Carolina!

Knock on wood.

Maybe being sentimental isn’t such a bad thing after all…

Do not be alarmed

Alternate title: Why it sucks to be undermined by your own stupidity in spite of making every effort to be a responsible adult.

Do you ever have fitful dreams in which you are paranoid that you’ve forgotten to set your alarm correctly? And – in your dream – you wake up to find that the clock says 8:37 AM when you were supposed to be on/in a 7:15 AM flight/meeting? And then you wake up – for real – and see that it’s only 2:32 AM? And then you fall back asleep and repeat the process several times until it’s actually time to wake up?

I didn’t ever really have those. Not often, anyway. But I will now. It was not a good weekend for me and my alarm clock. The circle of trust has been broken.

Alarm clock near-miss #1: Silent but deadly

Saturday morning.

The plan: Go to bed at a responsible hour with a minimal amount of booze in my belly. Wake up at 6:30 AM. Leave the apartment at 7 AM, drive to work, park and drop off my stuff, eat breakfast and have coffee. Leave work at 7:30 and run 3 miles over to the 8:30 start of a local 5K race. Race. Run back, shower (at work) and start work at 9:30.

What actually happened: was that I woke up an hour late. Because, as I later understood, of this:

WHY IS THIS EVEN AN OPTION? Seriously…who sets a soundless ALARM?

Looking back, I’m sure it was user error and I somehow changed that setting, but still…WHY DOES THIS USELESS SETTING EXIST?

Anyway. Somehow, I managed to get dressed, find my way to the start line, pull a 20:48 5K out of my ass, and make it to work on time.

(I won’t even try to do a “race report” on this one because there isn’t much to report. I ran without a watch and ran fairly hard the whole time…although probably not as hard as I could have. And it was a hilly course. That time is pretty decent for me, but I can’t help feeling like I should be running faster, given how well my speed workouts have been going this year.)

So that brings us to the next morning, when I had an early (again, pre-work) 20-miler on the agenda.

Alarm clock near-miss #2: Why don’t we use military time, again?

Sunday morning.

The plan: Get my three-hour long run done, and be done by 11 AM, in order to get to work on time. With a 20-minute drive to the trailhead, that meant a 6:30 wake-up call.

What actually happened: Panic, followed by outraged confusion, followed by 180 minutes of slightly frenetic running.

As I nestled my responsibly sober self in to bed at a geriatric hour on Saturday night, I fussed extensively with my alarm – including setting a test alarm to make sure the sound worked. The thing chirped obediently, and so I set the time and went to bed feeling great about my prospects for the next morning.

Naturally, I woke up at…7:35.

Oh, the old OH-NOES, I-ACCIDENTALLY-SET-MY-ALARM-FOR-PM-INSTEAD OF-AM trick. Last seen: 2003. Except at that time, I was:

  • 23 years old;
  • in my first real job;
  • wandering in to my cubicle at 10 AM;
  • hella hungover from staying out until 3 AM the night before; and
  • in need of an explanation for my why I looked like a frazzled piece of crap.

But this time? I ACTUALLY DID IT. I finally did the completely stupid thing I’d relied on so many times as a scapegoat for my irresponsibility. (Um, I mean…only that one time…)

I can’t even describe how explosively pissed off I was about this situation. Until I realized that it was my own fault. K*^H%$SF*M&DF. How did I let this happen? Well, actually, it’s not all that hard to miss ONE LETTER…

Okay…I’m going to say something potentially unpopular here. I think that  24-hour military-style clock is a better system. Why have two identical values that need a disclaimer when you can have separate numbers for each one? WHY? We have an unlimited number of numbers. Let’s use them.

(Not on board with the metric system, though. Sorry. I think inefficiently in inches and feet. Maybe my children’s generation will be more open….)

Anyway. Somehow, I managed to pack up my work bag, brush my teeth, feed the cats, and get out of the house in under twenty minutes. I hit the trail at 8:10 and ran for exactly three hours and five minutes…and then booked it frantically to the store to shower and open things up for the day.

For the second time in a weekend, I ditched the fancy timing gear and just ran the old-fashioned way, by time and feel. Because I knew the route, I’m certain I covered at least 20 miles (which was the goal!) and probably picked up another mile or so doubling back to chat briefly with friends I ran in to who were running the other way. I’m calling it 21.

And 61 for the week.

I feel pretty good about this week’s training. I had a solid track workout, a decent race and a respectable long run. Overall mileage is right where it should be.

I’m thinking of taking things down a notch next week (maybe 50-55 MPW) and then trying to gun for 70+. I’ve only hit 70 MPW once before: last fall, a few weeks before CIM, and it felt awesome. I’d love to stretch it to 75 MPW if I can.

But we’ll see. That’s a lot of miles, and as I wrap up a super busy weekend of running and working the idea just sounds…exhausting. Tomorrow is a (planned) rest day, and I’m looking forward to it.

I love my job and I love our customers, but…holy hell, the last two days have been tiring. Work is definitely more fun when things are busy than when they’re slow, but after two days of nonstop shoe-fitting action on top of hard mileage, and an abundance of snacking in place of real eating…when I got home tonight I was ready for a decent meal. And one cooked by anyone but me.

So I hit the bar next door, where I found a beer on draft that I had to try, if only for the name: Lagunitas WTF Ale.

Honestly…this beer indeed left me saying WTF. Because…I couldn’t quite classify it. The bartender billed it as a Black IPA, but it wasn’t really all that hoppy. Some BeerAdvocate reviewers classify it as more of a Brown Ale and I can kind of see that: it’s a bit nutty and not heavily carbonated, but…eh, it’s not quite roasty enough. This beer sits in a weird place: it’s not really hoppy, and not really toasty, and a little watery, but…hell, it’s 7.5% ABV, unoffensive and highly drinkable, so maybe that’s the point here?

Bottom Line: In my opinion, this beer is relying on its catchy name. It was alright, but I wouldn’t call it a must-try. (Purchased, draught, at The Borough, $4.50/pint)

In other news, I got my hair cut on Friday. There are now lots of layers.

I tend to distrust the whole “OMG layers” thing because I don’t want to look like Jennifer Aniston circa 1996. But I actually like this cut. I have a lot of hair and my ponytail is much lighter now.

 Still NOT in the Circle of Trust? MY PHONE’S ALARM CLOCK.

I’m not sure what else there is to screw up with that thing, but I’m now totally paranoid about the whole situation with my phone and its alarm. I don’t even have to be up for anything tomorrow morning, but I’m setting an alarm anyway, just to prove to myself that I can use this feature competently. And I fear the next time I have to make an early flight. No trust.

 * * * * *

Wear a size 9 or 9.5 shoe? Still time to enter to win a pair of ASICS GEL-NEO33 shoes! I’ll pick a winner Monday night!

The Candy Cat story

Meg and I met in college, but it was after graduation when we became really good friends. Those were the “LA Years,” which are legendary for many reasons, but chief among them is the mischief made by me and my blonde counterpart.

We were both a little lonely. She, on the heels of a breakup; me, with a boyfriend who worked 100-hour weeks. We started making dinner together a couple of times a week – Hamburger Helper, mac and cheese, pasta with marinara – which eventually morphed in to hanging out pretty much every night.

She had a cat; I had a cat. She liked Bud Light; I liked Bud Light. It was one of those easy friendships where the question isn’t do-you-want-to-hang-out, but -where-and-when.

On a typical weeknight, we’d convene with our respective cats at one of our apartments. The cats would play, and we’d drink cheap wine or head over to the local bar, where we’d hang out for a while, shooting pool or playing darts, and then coyly tell whatever guys were hanging around us that we had to go home and bathe our kitties. (Which was totally true, and I mean that literally.)

Our favorite bar with a little dive called Del’s on Santa Monica Boulevard in West LA. We could walk there from Meg’s apartment. The beer was cheap and the jukebox was well-stocked with classic rock. It was the antithesis of the typical LA bar scene, and it was perfect.

Del’s was totally our bar. Our “Cheers.” Everybody knew our names. I can’t even tell you how many nights we spent at Del’s. Hundreds, probably.

Sadly, though, all eras must end. Meg started grad school and moved up to Northridge. The Valley. A long and treacherous journey from LA.

But I missed my friend, so fairly regularly, I packed up Emmy and make the trek up there. Kraft dinners were just as lovely in The Valley, but one thing was missing. Our bar.

One day, I got an excited call from Meg. (This was before texting, kids.)

“I FOUND IT! I found our bar,” she gushed. “Get this: it’s called the Candy Cat. A cat bar! I drove by it earlier today. We have to try it!”

I completely agreed and immediately planned a trip up to the Valley.

A few nights later, with bellies full of mac and cheese, we left the cats (shampooed and blow-dried, of course) to play and headed over to this promising new establishment.

Now, if you have half a brain, you can probably see where this story is going. But Meg and I don’t even have a quarter of a brain apiece, apparently, because we charged ahead cluelessly.

“There are cats on the front window!” I squealed as we pulled up.

“Oh good, there’s parking in the rear,” Meg noted, turning in to the driveway.

We parked and walked toward the back door.

“Dude, check out that girl’s shoes,” I whispered with a slight nod toward a young woman smoking by the curb, looking sullen in a trench coat and platform heels.

We smiled smugly and quietly congratulated ourselves for being the kind of chicks that go to the bar in flip flops. We were rocking ponytails and tee shirts. We didn’t need to try so hard.

Two bouncers loomed over the door, from which muted Def Leppard blared behind. One asked for ID and a $5 cover, and immediately the other cut him off, gave us a once-over, and waved us in. “They’re cool,” he said.

Hell yeah, we are, we thought.

We crossed into a brightly-lit room. A little too bright. There were a lot of lights. Colorful lights.

“It’s…a theme bar?” I said, genuinely confused. There were two bars and a pool table but why did it seem to be all guys…?

Then we saw the boobs.

The cartoon cats. The rear parking. The platform heels. The cover charge.

What happened next is the kind of moment you remember forever; when I think of Meg and our friendship, those next few seconds pretty much say it all.

A look passed between us. It said: Convey no emotion. We cannot leave now, we’ll look stupid. We have to act like we totally meant to come here.

“You get the cues, I’ll rack ’em?” I said.

“Sure. Bud Light?” she replied smoothly.

So we hung out for a couple of hours, shooting pool, chatting with random people, singing along to classic rock, trying our best to give off a casual, we-come-here-all-the-time vibe. And it was almost like being back at Del’s again…but with more sparkles. And more boobs.

In the car on the way home, we recapped.

“That was fun but I think we should, you know, keep looking,” Meg said.

“Yeah…I don’t think that’s our bar,” I agreed.

We never did find our new Del’s, and eventually Meg and I both moved out of Southern California and on with our lives. Although we haven’t lived in the same city for years, she’s still one of my very best friends. On the rare and happy occasions when we do get together, it’s like nothing has changed. We still share a brain – and yet somehow, even with our combined craniums, lack common sense. It always leads to good fun.

Meg’s getting married in a few weeks. This weekend, I’m in Miami for her bachelorette party.

I can’t promise that we won’t accidentally end up in a strip club – excuse me, I mean a theme bar.

That hot pink looks good on me

Today’s post brought to you in list format, because I’m kind of all over the place tonight. Lazy blogging. It happens sometimes. Oh well…at least it’s not a list of things I’m LOVING right now, right?

1) I found a decent MSPAINT-like app for my new Mac! It’s called InstaPaint and it cost four bucks. What a deal.

All the same features, but with more colors! Look at that hot pink! Also, there’s a little bomb icon, which I was pretty excited about, but it was kind of a letdown: instead of doing something fun, it just reverts the entire canvas to blank white. Racist bomb.

2) I ran thirteen miles today. In two sessions. And it didn’t even feel like that much. I know this is probably common sense – or rather, common arithmetic – but doing doubles is really the only way I can keep my mileage up in the 60+/week range. A four and a nine is far less daunting than a single thirteen.

3) With increased mileage, I’m trying so very hard to be good about keeping up my paltry core work and stretching routine. But it’s difficult when I have to fight for space on my own yoga mat.

 Get your own mat, cat.

4) My finger was on the “Order” button today, ready to summon a cheese pizza and garlic breadsticks to my apartment. But then I resisted, and thought of all of the food in the pantry, and of the fact that, generally speaking, I probably should eat less cheese.

So instead of eating cheese-laden goodness made by Hungry Howie’s Pizza, I ate cheese-laden goodness made by me.

Mac and Cheese Balls, a la Megan. Although of course I didn’t have time for any of the chilling/ball forming business, so I just plopped them into my mini muffin tin. Quick, easy, and delightfully cheesy.

(That eating less cheese thing starts, um, tomorrow…)

5) Tonight’s beer was excellent.

SweetWater is the major craft brewery in my soon-to-be-hometown, so I’m sure I’ll have no shortage of opportunities to drink their beers in the near future. But this 15 Years of Heady Beers is a one-shot deal, and I didn’t want to risk missing it by waiting until the Atlanta move, so I snagged one when I saw it.

An American Strong Ale, this boozy beer poured a dark copper color with, appropriately, a big fluffy head. The first sip reminded me a little of zucchini bread: sweet and doughy, chewy and satisfying. Lots of fruit in this beer – ripe peaches and plums, a bit of banana – but it’s well balanced by that yeasty bread flavor, and a touch of hops as well. Very enjoyable and easy to drink, especially considering its 10% ABV.

Bottom line: Great beer, definitely worth trying! (Purchased at Bottle Revolution, $8/22oz)

6) Time for bed. I have a wild weekend ahead of me, so I’m trying to bank some sleep hours. Good night!

Don’t make this mistake

Last night, I enjoyed one of my favorite not-too-expensive, mostly-healthy-yet-totally-delicious take out meals: the grocery store sushi box.

The box had this one roll that was topped with chunks of avocado and drizzled with that delicious brown eel sauce. On the way home from the store, though, things got jostled around and everything ended up jumbled together and coated in sauce. Fine by me. I love that sauce.

After I polished off all of the rolls and nigiri pieces, I went hunting through the carnage with my chopsticks for stray chunks of sauce-coated avocado.

I thought I was done when I stumbled upon one large, last scrumptious piece.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

On the plus side, my sinuses were very clear for the rest of the evening.

Backing up a few hours…I said I was going to do mile repeats yesterday. So mile repeats I did:

On the track: 4 X 1 mile at something like 10K pace, with 400M recovery. (Okay, 400M-plus recovery. I am really bad about enforcing recovery when I’m working out alone. I dawdled around a little between intervals and was actually on about a ten-minute cycle for these.)

This workout wasn’t easy, and I almost called it quits after three. In fact, I totally owe that fourth mile to the gentlemen who were doing their track repeats at the same time as me, who gently goaded me into finishing my planned workout.

Of course, I’m glad I did. I always am.

And as much as that last one burned, it was nothing compared to ingesting a tablespoon of wasabi.

Threesome

Since my husband has been off doing his new job thing and I’ve been a fake single girl, I’ve learned something about myself in the bedroom. Namely: I’m about as dominant as a tramped-down doormat.

It starts out innocently enough.

I take my side of the bed, and they take the empty one. We engage in a little foreplay: I set up my phone with Pandora and sleep timer; they turn in circles and purr and knead the comforter. After a few minutes, each of us has settled in to his or her space. We’re good to go. (To sleep.)

A couple of hours later, I awaken to find myself stuck.

They tag team me, going for a weak spot: the crook behind the knee. It’s a devious move on their part, as I’m now trapped on my side, pinned down to the mattress, and they can do whatever they please. (Which is…sleeping.)

I squirm for a few moments, trying to get up the nerve to move. But I’m under a spell…their soft furry bellies, rising and falling so gently. Their little sighs. Their twitchy paws. In the end I relent and drift back off, anchored under my furry captors.

This emboldens them, and they become more aggressive.

All of a sudden, the bed becomes unbearably warm. I’m sweating and clammy and I want it to stop. There are too many bodies in this bed. Someone has to go. I just can’t. (Sleep.)

Beaten down by the battle, I concede. When I awaken in the morning with shadows under my eyes, I just tell myself: well, that’s the price you pay for a wild night in a crowded bed.

Yeah, I know I could just boot them out and shut the door. (And sometimes I do.) But the truth is, I kind of love having my cats around as I lay down to sleep. It makes this whole temporary-long-distance thing a whole lot less lonely.

And if that means sacrificing a little sleep, so be it. I can’t help it if I’m a pushover in the bedroom.

A damn proper steak

This is supposed to be eat, drink, and run, but I haven’t written much lately about the stuff that goes in my mouth. Well, the solid stuff, anyway.

It’s because my diet has gone to shit in the last couple of months. Cooking healthy yet delicious meals simply ceased to be a priority when this whole Atlanta thing came about.

Pork Nachos at Raleigh Times. Fried Chicken at Poole’s. Toro Nigiri at An Sushi. All of the favorites. As the days until my husband left to start his new job grew fewer, so did home-cooked meals. Instead, we opted to enjoy the last of our days together in a town that has some pretty great restaurants.

It’s funny how an impending Big Life Change can make you feel entitled to indulgences. Comfort food, indeed.

Now that I’m on my own for a bit, I’ve done a complete one-eighty. Instead of eating out every night, I’ve been eating…whatever I can find in the refrigerator.

Cheese, bread, sliced fruit. Salad. Crackers and peanut butter. Frozen pizza. I haven’t been eating the worst diet in the world, but I certainly could do better. Especially with lots and lots of miles on the docket for the next couple of months.

Today, I had the day off of work, and was in the middle of a glorious mid-afternoon sofa-loafing session when I was suddenly struck by: steak. A good steak. Filet. Nearly rare. OMG.

I don’t know where the idea came from, but suddenly I could think of nothing else.

You are going to change out of those pajama pants and put down that reheated frozen cheese pizza, I told myself, and go to the store. And then you’re going to make yourself a damn proper steak for dinner tonight.

Let’s not discuss the fact that this tiny hunk of filet cost almost $13 at the Whole Foods meat counter. It was exactly what I wanted, and as luck would have it, I nailed the preparation, cooking it to the exact level of almost-rare that I adore – and that is frustratingly difficult to communicate to most steakhouse servers. (Um, #firstworldproblems.) With some crispy butter-fried shallots, roasted fingerling potatoes, and some baby spinach, the whole plate was absolute perfection.

Just a little classier than my typical cracker-crumb-covered solo meal…

Sitting at the actual dinner table with a plate of real food made me realize how much I’ve missed the experience of dining rather than just snacking/eating. I realize how ridiculous that sounds, being that I’ve only been on my own here for a week. But eating alone is no excuse to be a total slob and eat garbage. I’ve been wallowing a little for the last few days. It was amazing how much better putting on a bra and making myself a nice meal made me feel.

A glass of damn proper Cab helped too:

I don’t often buy Cabs. It’s such a food-centric wine, and I generally prefer to stock my tiny rack with more versatile bottles: bottles that can be opened up with dinner, or stand alone if I just want to have a glass of red on its own.

But the Wine Sample Lady at Fresh Market was pouring this 2009 Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon a few days ago, and sipping it in the store, I really enjoyed it. It was smooth as velvet with lovely chicory and cherry notes, and it didn’t give me any cottonmouth. Just very…drinkable. So I picked up a bottle. Which was fortunate and timely, because it paired wonderfully with my steak tonight, and tasted even better after airing out for half an hour.

Bottom line: Get it! A solid affordable Cab. (Purchased at Fresh Market, $14.)

Anyway. I’m not sure what the point of this post is, other than to perhaps congratulate myself for putting on pants and using my stove today.

Perhaps I should revel in the laziness and just eat my cheese, because I’m sure that once I get down to Atlanta and am reunited with my dining partner, there will be gorging a-plenty. A whole new batch of restaurants to explore! We’ve been apart for two months! We just dealt with moving! Who wants a cocktail? We deserve it! 

The five worst Christmas songs ever

When you work in retail, there are many challenging things about the holiday season. But, by far, the most trying is the damn music.

At the store where I work, there is an ominous sign tacked to the little receiver that controls our satellite radio, indicating grave consequences for anyone who dares to switch it from the “Sirius Nonstop Holiday Cheer” station. Or whatever the hell it’s called. From Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, it’s a holiday music extravaganza in our store.

Now, I really like my job. But, my dear customers: while I will cheerfully make as many trips to the stockroom as it takes to find your perfect running shoe, know that, behind that smile, I’m thinking…OMG if I hear Jingle Bell Rock one more time, I’m going to hurl this Limited Editon Wave Rider through the window.

It’s nothing personal. It’s just that time of the year.

So as an early Christmas present, I give you my top five most hated holiday ballads, jingles and carols. (It was hard to narrow it down.)

#5: All I Want For Christmas Is You

Oh, Mariah Carey. You know, I actually liked “Someday.” I envied your tight jeans and your vocal range. The whole package was very cool at the time.

But, like most of the questionable things from the early nineties, it went away. It’s like…remember Stussy t-shirts? They enjoyed their run, then gracefully disappeared. But this mediocre pop song from 1994 gets insane airplay, year after year, for no reason other than it’s about OMG CHRISTMAS.

Really, there is no other reason. It’s a totally unremarkable song.

Besides, Mariah, I’m calling bullshit. You’ve made a career on being a diva. This “I don’t need no stocking, baby” crap? Not buying it, sweetie.

#4: Christmas, Don’t Be Late (aka the Chipmunk song)

Why adults choose to listen to this garbage is beyond me. Does anyone actually find it cute or funny when Alvin demands a hula-hoop for, like, the twentieth time? Or when Dave has to break in and chastise him for being flat?

This much I’ll admit. I agree: please, Christmas, don’t be late. Because once Christmas is over, we all get an eleven-month reprieve from these helium-sucking rodents.

#3: The Twelve Days of Christmas

Seriously. Unless you’re building an aviary…

And really…a partridge? Geese? All geese do is honk and poop. If I were going to get a bird for Christmas, I’d much rather have something fun or useful. Like a snarky talking parrot. Or perhaps a bird of prey, which might do us all a favor and make dinner out of some smug little singing chipmunks.

Yeah, I know there’s a symbolic religious/cultural thing going in this song. But it’s still a crappy song. It’s like the “99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall” of Christmas music: it just goes on forever.

#2 Deck The Halls

Let’s consider the fact that nearly 50% of this song’s runtime consists of the repetition of a single syllable. Perhaps there’s some sort of artistic genius going on here? MUFUFUFUFUFUFUFUFUFUFUFUFU! HEY LOOK, I’M A COMPOSER!

The rest of the lyrics aren’t much better. In fact, I’ve condensed the entire song into a single haiku:

Hang leaves. Christmas! Fa!
Ugly ties. Fire. Babies. La!
Let’s sing! Fuck the snow!

 

…I just saved you 167 words, 96 of which were la. You’re welcome.

#1: Anything consisting primarily of animal sounds.

WHY JUST WHY?

I mean…it’s not even real. It’s all computer tuned. It’s not like there are a bunch of adorable puppies or kittens somewhere, lined up obediently on choral risers, woofing and mewing on cue to make up the melody of “Jingle Bells” or whatever.

The rest of the year, you hear shit like this in a commercial for Purina and everyone reaches for their DVR remote. But make it into a Christmas song, and all of a sudden it’s adorable.

Except…no, it’s not.

Especially when you hear it three times in a single afternoon. Maybe that’s why I am cranky tonight?

Or maybe it’s my reduced running mileage. Backing up a couple of weeks, I took most of the week after CIM off, but stretched my legs on a couple of easy runs:

And this week, for some reason, I took a lot of rest days. But I kept my runs a little longer on the days I did run. All still at an easy pace, of course!

I’m not sure what’s next on my training/racing radar. I do know that I’m just going to cruise to the end of the year with easy miles, though. No workouts, no real long runs. My only goal at the moment is to make my 2,011 in 2011. Right now I’m at 1,947. 64 miles to go and two weeks to do it – plenty of time!

Anyway…

I know I’m not the only one who is less than fond of Christmas music. But I’m sure that everyone has at least one holiday song that they cannot stand. What’s yours?

DNF!

As you may have guessed from my strategic silence on the subject: sadly, I did not, in fact, write the Next Great American Novel in the month of November.

But I did get around 15,000 words in to my project. That’s not even a third of the program’s 50,000-word goal, but I’m okay with that.

It’s weird. I’m not usually okay with failure, but somehow, this is different.

I really thought I had a great chance of making the NaNoWriMo cut. The first 5,000 words came relatively easily. But then the pace started to slow down. It took me almost three weeks to write the next 10K – after having banged out the first 5K in just a couple of days.

It was tempting to force it, to make the pace go faster for the sake of word count…but you know what? I found myself actually really enjoying fiction writing, and I feared that forced acceleration would have killed my plot and buried my enthusiasm, damning the whole endeavor to a permanent plot in the Graveyard of Ideas Past.

So, yeah. At some point, I guess I quit caring about what happened as of November 30. I’m not at all knocking the whole NaNoWriMo thing – I never would have even started this project without it! – but I wanted to keep plugging along at my own comfy pace, rather than forcing something for the sake of validation on TEH INTERNETS.

Will you see my novel on your Kindle someday? I really hope so! But I’m going to take my time and make sure I have a good product.

(I would estimate that drawing MSPAINT ANIMALS occupied at least 30% of my time during my WriMo experiments. Probably not necessary, but oh so fun.)

Anyway. That’s that. As November ended, I wrapped up a month of 15,000 fiction words and 200+ miles:

November was pretty much a repeat of September, according to the almighty statistics. I guess that’s okay. I still maintain that I felt better in October, with higher mileage, but I’ll admit that it’s been a bit of a relief on my daily schedule, logging 40-50 miles a week instead of 60-70.

Okay, I have an important #firstworldproblem that I need your help to solve. I am currently in the midst of packing for CIM and I am torn on which shoes I should wear on Sunday…

On the left is the Brooks Ravenna 2. This is the shoe I’ve been training in since September. (I’d been a loyal Brooks Ghost wearer until this summer…but the Ghost 4 that they updated in June is too wide for me!  So I went to the Ravenna. I’m a very mild over-pronator anyway, and although I can generally get away with wearing neutral shoes, it’s not an inappropriate shoe for me and I’ve had no issues with it. The pair pictured is a replacement pair that only has about 30 miles logged.)

On the right, though, is the Brooks PureFlow. I picked these up when they first came out in early October and I must say that I’m rather enamored! Brooks’ PureProject line features lightweight shoes with a lower heel-t0-toe drop (4MM), lighter weight, and more “connected with the ground” running experience – although I’d say that this particular shoe does have a good amount of cushion. I would compare them to Saucony Kinvaras.

So I prefer the ride of the PureFlow to the Ravenna. And I’ve worn the PureFlow on a 16-mile day with no issues. I would say that, overall, I’ve worn them for about 25% of my mileage over the last two months. So it’s not like they’re racing flats…but for some reason I’m still nervous about bringing a lower-heel-drop shoe to the starting line on race day.

Help?

If I can’t decide, I might just end up wearing one on each foot, as in the picture above.

(And also, look at my left ankle in that photo? Never, EVER wear one of those reflective slap bracelet thingies on your bare skin. It was warm but dark the other night and I slapped one onto my leg. I avoided getting hit by a car, but within a mile the thing had attacked my ankle like a piranha. Never again!)

In any case, I’m guess I’m probably packing both in my suitcase for this weekend. Along with a lot of other crap, which may blow the whole “carry on!” plan and force me to explore the sucker’s dungeon of Checked Baggage.

After the race on Sunday, we’re hanging out in California for a couple of days. I mentioned before that after that, we’re headed to a wedding. I may not have mentioned that the wedding is in Maui.

Please don’t hate me.

If all goes well on Sunday, I won’t be able to walk anyway, and will be relegated to a beach chair and forced to ask people to bring me food and drink.

(Please…please don’t hate me.)