Saturday, June 30, 2007

Path Dreams

Running tends not to be without peril.

I’m chilling here on my couch after today's nine-miler watching Food Network, with my right leg propped up on a pillow and an ice pack on my knee. For the last several weeks, my right knee has been sore. It’s getting progressively worse… choosing to walk around on a concrete floor for a week in heels was probably not one of my best-laid plans.

If that wasn't enough, today was also my first experience with the dreaded chaffing. I realize that I’m lucky that after a year of running distance, this hasn’t been a major problem for me. I guess it’s finally time to buy body glide (for some reason the thought of using a product called “body glide” makes me feel like I’m doing something dirty).

And...

Though not curled-up-in-the-fetal-position-nauseous like last year, my stomach was a little ripped up after the run. I blame the Gu. Coincidentally, today also marked my first experience eating Gu (I like to call it “Ew…” I know... I’m clever). It’s generally not necessary to eat this disgusting crap until your runs pass the hour and half mark. Like today… though I’m questioning whether or not I needed it.

However, knee pain, chaffing, and stomach unhappiness aside, today’s run was fan-fucking-tastic. You cannot ask for better weather on the cusp of July in Chicago, and 65 degrees with a light breeze and not a cloud in the sky made for a near-perfect morning. I’m not actually sure what perfection would be. Hell, maybe this was it.

Our group today was small (only four of us), and we ran sans pace leader, which tends to make me nervous. However, at some point, Meg and I broke off from the other two runners and managed to do a negative split, which means you do the second half of the run faster than the first (we started running probably around 12:15 minute mile and finished around an 11:45 minute mile). Our time was approximately 1 hour 48 minutes.

Only four more miles to go.

Some thoughts… I know I say this a lot, and I don’t want to be at all health and fitness preachy or sound completely high on myself… but, I am consistently amazed by my progress. And, I continue to astounded by the things I never knew. I still have a long way to go, but I failed to realize how unhealthy my lifestyle was (and how out of shape I was) until I actively sought to change it. So much is connected to diet and exercise, but it's hard to know just how bad you feel (and the various parts of your life that are effected -- mood, energy level, etc.) until you feel better.

What a difference a year makes.

This week, Sarah and mom are in town, and Sar and I are going to run next Saturday’s six miler together with the eleven minute pace group. I’m excited to see if I can keep up. Especially since my over/under eight-mile alcohol rule states that I can drink on Friday night. I just made that rule up, but I think it's prudent.

Good times ahead!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Distance

Tomorrow we run… wait for it… nine miles. Oh yeah. That some serious distance right there. I have no doubt it’s going to be awe-some. That is, unless it sucks. Eh… you never can tell.

This past week or so has probably been the most slacker-fabulous I’ve had in months. Business travel is never – let’s say – conducive to working out and eating, you know, food that isn’t crap. NO… I don’t want a fucking salad for dinner after I’ve been busting it on an exhibit floor for approximately 10 hours. That ain’t never gonna happen. Instead, I'm going to have... fish and chips (Stella); sushi (pinot grigio); crab cake sandwich (some kind of pale ale); hummus and pita bread (Magic Hat #9); massive amount of buffet food (vodka tonics). Do you guys see all the non-Miller Lite beer that I drank? I was so proud of me.

Quick side note: I forgot to mention that while in D.C. I fell in LOVE with this place. Chipotle, eat your fucking heart out. You have been replaced (thank God... California Tortilla does not exist here in Chicago... however, I may be opening the first franchise).

Anyway, back to my point... I’m better than I used to be. Since last Thursday, when I landed in DC, I managed a two mile treadmill run on Friday, a one mile treadmill run as well as some weights on Saturday, and a four mile run around D.C. on Monday. Not great, but it could have been worse… this much we know is true.

However, never one to disappoint, we head south from here. When I got back to Chicago, the slacking continued in a BIG way. Tuesday, once home from the airport, I spent the majority of the day lying on the couch. Wednesday, I had a hair appointment. Thursday, well… Thursday I gave up on life a little… and decided the best remedy for giving up was forcing my sister to listen to me whine on the phone for approximately 45 minutes, Thai takeout complete with crab Rangoon, and NBC’s shitty summer primetime programming (Last Comic Standing… anyone?).

Works every time (a girl can only wallow in self-pity for so long; there are things to be done!).

I got my groove back today in a major way. First, I practically begged my trainer kick my ass this afternoon (I also mentioned to him that I wanted to focus more on my core muscles). And he rarely disappoints. Ask, my friends and you shall receive. Then, if that weren’t enough for one day, my running buddy Meg called me moments after I arrived home from training with TR and G. She mentioned in the course of the conversation that she was all dressed up… for running, yet was struggling to decide whether or not she would actually go.

“What if…” I said tentatively, “I went with you?”

And we were off… easy 30 minute run around the neighborhood. I am a little worried that an hour of strength training coupled with a run will be too much considering the distance tomorrow, but I guess we'll find out. For the moment, a run was exactly what I needed (dear God am I one of those people?).

Tomorrow we run... distance-style.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

8 Mile

Updates. East Coast-style (I don’t actually know what East Coast-style is. I just thought that sounded cool, which makes me entirely unhipster-like today.)

I need Electrolytes… STAT.
@’s a saint, I’ll tell you that much. Last Thursday, while in DC, she and I managed to up our daily “together time” from about 10 hours to 16 hours. And of course, I was in serious storytelling mode, not to mention that I wanted everybody’s opinion on my latest “romantic” debacle. At dinners, bars, basically everywhere I had the chance to get another person’s feedback, @ was there, privy to how the story became GRANDER as time went on. Then she yelled at me. OK… maybe she didn’t “yell.” And fine… maybe I deserved it… a little.

But…
She did yell at this guy:


And he definitely deserved it. The message is clear in the handbook of revolutionists, "Step 1: To start a revolution, you must first buy a t-shirt sporting an 'in your face' message." In the same vein, how would one go about ending the revolution? Does one put on pants? Where can one buy the revolution-ending pants that say, "Pot smoking hippies selling t-shirts... Go home to your communes." I bet Wal-Mart sells them.

What We Learned There
No one understands what @ and I do, not even @ and I. But we just returned from five days spent in the presence of every librarian on earth. And I learned a thing or two about myself, from the people of DC…

I do not look like:
  1. A librarian (according to a cab driver)
  2. A mother (same cab driver)
  3. A terrorist (according to a kind-of cute cop – though I’ve never known myself to be swayed by the “men in uniform” thing – and I didn’t look super cute because was dressed for the occasion of running and had mascara under my eyes from the night before. But, he did tell me, as he shooed me away from the White House that since I didn’t look like a terrorist, I could be trusted with the knowledge that any moment Dick “The Chain” Cheney would be arriving. Then, I felt special.)
This made me wonder about mutual exclusivity.

Speaking Of the Cab Drivers
It’s different there. The cabbies in DC are like nuclear physicists in their home counties, they communicate effectively, and tend not to drive like they have a death wish either for themselves or their passengers (or both). It’s weird. To that end, all the cabs say, “Call 911.” I found this explanation on a site called WiredGeek:
“The city is (was?) so dangerous that cabs have "Call 911" lights on top of them to instruct people to call 911 when the cabbie is being held up (seriously).”
Comforting...

Lou and @ Take Extended Lunch in DC
Lou (while waiting in line for lunch): I think I want to get cookie for lunch… I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t get a cookie. If I get a cookie, my energy will dip, and I don’t want my energy to dip. Where are the cookies here anyway? What are you getting?

@: Chicken sandwich.

Lou: Do you think I should get a cookie? Probably not. You know what… I don’t need a cookie.

@ (staring past me): Huh?

Lou: Oh nothing. I wasn’t really talking to you. Sometimes I just say everything that goes through my head out loud. I don’t really have a filter. I don’t know…

@ (stares at me): Yeah. I figured that out about eight months ago.

Lou and @ Roll a Heavy Cart around the DC Convention Center
@: I’m using my core muscles to pull this cart.

Lou: Thank God you’ve been taking that Xtreme Pilate's class.

@: Yeah.

Lou: You know @, now that I have all this extra time on my hands and my ass is looking good, I will focus more on my abs.

@ (incredulous): Wow.

Lou: Let's go to the hotel gym tonight.

@: OK.

Lou: I'm gonna work on my abs.

Lou and @ go to Dinner with a Co-worker
Lou (to the waiter): I will have… a… Stella.

Lou (to @): OMG @! I feel like I’m you. Are you proud of me?!?!?! I just ordered a Stella. Did you see that? A Stella, @… Just like you.

@: Stella is a shitty Belgian beer.

Lou: Like hipster shitty? Like so shitty it’s awesome?

Lou Spies a Hipster Librarian
Lou: @, look, look… Is that a hipster librarian?

@: I’m not sure… but that’s definitely Androgyny.

Lou: Oh... awesome. I heart Androgyny. It’s one of my favorite things.

And Finally… Today
We celebrate the 28th anniversary of my birth. It was weird to read what I wrote a year ago... a couple of bizarre things… like last year, I skipped my eight mile run this year and, used the term “mutually exclusive” in my post – why do I think about mutual exclusivity almost exclusively on my birthday? Anyway, I also read it and thought, “My God! It sounds like my outlook was so positive then.” All lies. I was miserable… but, to my credit… I tried. Whatever. Now I’m 28. I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m 28 now.” It was very… anti-climactic.

Kind of... like... now...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All of Our Mantras

Well… thank God that's over.

There are things I need to survive. First and foremost… coffee… then water… then food. I will go in search of all three right now. Because nothing else can happen before coffee happens.

This terminal looks familiar. It's likely that I've spent too much time here before. You know those maps people put on their Myspace pages? The ones that color code the states and/or countries the person has been to? Those are fun. I'd like a map with every major airport on it. And every time I fly someplace new, I can add a little neon-colored plane graphic to the map. Because eventually -- I have a feeling -- I will (potentially… against my better judgment) fly to every single airport in the world. And I think the people need to know.

The Accidental Petty Thief
In some ways, I lucked out here. I stood in line at a food station in the terminal for the coffee/water/food requirements, when I spied a Dunkin Donuts kiosk not 10 yards away. In that moment of sheer joy at the prospect of feeling like I'm already a little closer to home, I beeline-d my way from the food station to the Dunkin Donuts kiosk, forgetting that I had already picked up the water… and, for safe keeping… put it in my purse.

Luckily, as one might suspect, petty theft is not a difficult crime to execute unnoticed. After getting coffee, I returned to the original line for water/food, and realized, when I looked in my purse, that I had stolen the bottle. I glanced around to make sure no one was watching me, took it out of my purse, and paid for it. I am now the proud/legitimate owner of one over-priced bottle of Crystal Geyser.

Anyway...

When I was younger and only mildly jaded, I thought air travel was magical. It was so romantic with all of the people and the possibilities of who might be waiting for you on the other end of that long walk from the airplane to the terminal.

Now, it's a hassle. Now, when I go to the airport, I am forced to be a contestant in a sick game of Me Vs. The World where every elderly woman, wheelchair, disgruntled airport employee, family of four (or five or six), stroller, slow moving tourist, and/or broken escalator/moving walkway/plane is placed in my way as a obstacle I must navigate around, or – on the particularly bad days – through.

But today, things appear (this, I believe is called being “cautiously optimistic”) to be going smoothly. I actually managed to be picked up on standby and will now arrive in Chicago before noon on a flight where I am given a better seat, in a row that I don't have to share with anyone, and miraculously, I am left alone to listen to my iPod and write… furiously.

Speaking of…

An explanation for my friends and readers, perhaps? Ya'll deserve it. I mean, I write something so terribly esoteric (not to mention melodramatic) and people wonder what the hell is going on with me. For the one or two of you out there who didn't either inspire it or hear it directly from me… shall we?

Ah yes. The "cat" story… reality is fluid, isn’t it? But (BUT!) barring the possibility that the experience was actually a hallucination brought on by a case of the acid flashbacks, it really happened. All of it. Just like that. The beginning, the end… and yes… the cat. I still don't know how it got into my kitchen… unless I have a hole in my screen door (which I plan to check as soon as this plane lands, I get my luggage, a cab, and dropped off at home). Still, do cats often make the effort to climb through holes in screen doors? Maybe on the occasion that I am in need of a MUSE. Thanks Cat.

And yes, it was a metaphor. Reality, once in a great while, is well timed. However, until I was on the plane en route to our nation's cap-e-tal, I didn't realize the gravity of the moment and what -- if I chose to write it that way -- it could mean. But I may have unintentionally misrepresented the situation. It was about "breaking up" (for lack of a better term, or perhaps more accurately, "getting dumped"), but the story of the cat illustrated acceptance and understanding what is best for your's truly.

Anyway... there's no need to be cryptic...

The short of it: Wednesday night, a week ago, the guy I had been seeing for a couple months-ish told me (and I very loosely quote), "I don't like you as much as I thought I would."

Bam. Just like that. Regardless of the circumstances, right or wrong, left or right, up or down, for better or worse, if that ain't a kick in the self-esteem, I don't what is.

But, you know how it goes, distance… perspective… everything happens for a reason…blah blah blah… etc., ad nauseam.

And so...

I enjoy, sometimes, making self-deprecating jokes about my modus operandi when it comes to relationships with "men." I say things like, "If I don't continuously make mistakes, how will I learn lessons that I can later ignore?" And then I think myself to be terribly clever and witty.

But, I suppose, in reality, it’s not true anymore. I am smarter than I used to be. I have learned – and internalized – a thing or two since I was younger. And, I believe I may be starting to determine the difference between mistakes and just "who I am." It occurs to me now, that I am a girl who cannot hide it when her feelings are hurt, and will not stop herself before she says every last thought that is going through her head (for better or worse). Maybe I am simply not capable of “being cool.” And maybe, as long as I accept it, that's O.K.

However, I have learned that most guys who wander in and out of my life will have little bearing on it. I embrace the fact that relationships can serve as a means to an end other than marriage or some type serious commitment. When I was younger, I was always on the look out for the next boyfriend… a soul mate, "the one," a future [ex] husband. No more. And yes, I am cynical, but we already knew that. Now, I expect very little from men (and yet, am still surprised when I get even less!).

Back to this particular “situation…” well, sort of… the problem with being a girl (particularly a girl of the philosophizing brand) is that regardless of time spent or seriousness of the relationship… I will look for answers to questions that I know I will never get from the other person. I accept that, but in the meantime, I will inevitably spend a few days sorting through the mental mess du jour with my friends, getting various perspectives, connecting dots, coming up with the answers on my own. And now, the only question remains is this: Am I right?

Unfortunately, I’m guessing the answer is probably not. Women tend to attach more meaning and importance to moments and linguistics than men could ever conceive of and so, I move on.

But then I realized today, on the plane en route to Chicago, what I find to be so spectacularly disappointing about this particular boy and this “relationship of sorts.” In him, I saw myself. I am -- talented or not -- a creative at heart, so very lost and unsure of this inchoate thing that I have here. And so I move in a direction away from it or worse still, no direction at all. It’s not so much failure as it is the conscious decision to never really try.

I know I'm going a bit over the psychoanalytical deep end here, but I guess I figured, when I projected myself on to him, if I could witness and/or encourage his success, then maybe my own was still possible. For whatever reason, I found it much easier to believe in him than in me. But, on the flip side, I also truly thought that he deserved to be believed in (and to a point... to be honest... I still do). And I hoped that he wouldn't let me down. Ah well. So it goes.

Of course, therein lies the inherent and infinite problem with this brand of trying to "save" someone else in order to save yourself… people rarely change. A person has to want change for him or herself before it can even begin to be possible (change for someone else is all glamour… an illusion at best). Once the effort that goes along with the excitement of meeting someone new subsides, we are forced to wrestle with reality. And sometimes, some people don't want you to fight for them anyway.

Now, I suppose, we've reached an ending not far from where we began. And, I've probably spouted off enough psychobabble for a month or so of trying.

I wonder what happens next.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And Suddenly...

Fuck. We’re here. And soon, in a cab, at the airport, on a plane, unpacking suitcases in another place far away from here and this room and this couch, last night’s Tivo-ed Daily Show frozen in a moment I will never remember, containers of half-eaten Chinese food spread out on the coffee table in front of us. So this is how it happens. This, I’ve been expecting.

***

I woke up the next morning at a quarter to six to the containers still on the coffee table, untouched and waiting for me to make my next move. I gathered them up, put them back in the brown to go bag in which they arrived, walked through the kitchen and out the back door. The screen door snapped shut behind me as I headed to the dumpster.

When I returned, back the way I came, through the screen door that leads into my kitchen, I stopped. It was one of those moments when you wonder whether you’ve accidentally wandered through the wrong door into someone else’s home where everything is eerily similar, but something deviates… SOMETHING… is not the way you left it when you walked away.

Give me time here… to figure it out…

It’s the cat. An orange tabby cat. That wasn’t here before. Why is it in my kitchen? It occurs to me that somehow without realizing it, without wanting it, I had let a cat in, and now… it's here. I stood still for several seconds, letting the cat's presence sink in, before I spoke.

“How did you get here?”

The cat stared at me.

“You don’t belong here.”

The cat cocked its head as though it was considering its options.

“You have to leave.”

It hesitated, but only for a moment before it walked toward me, then past me, and through the screen door I held open.

I realized then that part of me hoped it would stay… if only for a little while… because sometimes it’s just nice to not be alone. And the cat, I'm sure, would have made for pleasant company. But I knew the truth – in the long run – down deep, I would have wanted a dog. It was for the best, I reconciled.

The next time I open my door, I’ll have to be more careful.

Afterwards, I wondered if any of it really happened – the cat, the Chinese food, the Daily Show paused indefinitely, and the moment I said, “This, I’ve been expecting,” as I leaned back against the throw pillows. It wasn’t a dream. I know because I already had that dream, and though to the same conclusion, it happened differently then.

And so, in the end, with the cats gone, alone, my world shifted to rebalance, my stomach untied itself, and I could breath. It was as if he had never been here in the first place. But, there is too much evidence to the contrary – a mixed CD and a pair of pliers on my dining table, a t-shirt in my laundry basket, a half-empty bottle of Jagermeister in my freezer, a stack of essays I put in a box for the time being, and that one thing you wrote.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This World is Small and Incestuous

It’s a busy week, my people. I have a six day business trip to Washington D.C. for our BIG conference coming up. And ya’ll know how I feel about business travel. It’s not my fav.

But, lucky for me… my pace leader just happens to be going to the same BIG conference in Washington D.C. So instead of having a valid excuse to miss the scheduled eight-mile run this week, she and I are going to hit the road together in our nation’s cap-e-tal. It should be a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

In other D.C.-bound news, my most recent ex-boyfriend also happens to be an attendee at the BIG conference. Considering that the BIG conference will actually draw about 20,000 people (I told you it was BIG), it’s likely that he and I will never cross paths. But, knowing my luck

I will be caught off guard.

I discussed with @ whether or not it would be best to launch preemptive strike against seeing/not seeing the ex-boyfriend:

@: No.

Anyway, what is this?

If I did this, my entries would look like:

I just ate a Go Lean bar. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

I just ate another Go Lean bar. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

I went to Trader Joe’s and they were out of Go Lean bars. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

Jewel was out of Go Lean bars too. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

I’m hoping to find some Go Lean bars so I can take them to DC. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

What is with this shortage of Go Lean bars? posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

By the way, Trader Joe’s was also out of red pepper spread. posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

Why is do guys find "stripper hot" so appealing? posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

Does Aldo really think that people who don't slide down poles for cashola will buy these shoes? Well, not firemen. Well... maybe some firemen...
posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

Dude you guys have to check this out! It's awesome... posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

I think I offended some old lady on the train today when I offered her my seat. She refused. Really, I didn't care because God knows I didn't want to get up anyway.
posted by lou @ 8:38 AM

I think Harry is the hotter of the two princes. Probably because he's the bad prince. And young. Hmmmmm...
posted by lou @ 8:52 AM

What should I eat for lunch? Probably Subway.
posted by lou @ 11:25 AM

I forgo-ed (the cheese was forgone?) the cheese today on my sub. Sadface. Do you ever wonder whether or not the people at Subway are actually doing what you ask? Like, when I say, "Lite mayo," maybe the woman behind the counter thinks, "Whatever bitch," and slathers my sandwich with the fatty stuff? I worry about that sometimes.
posted by lou @ 12:18 PM

No wait. That's not how it happened. Jewel wasn't actually out of Go Lean bars... I just bought all of them. It just wasn't enough. And now they are out of Go Lean bars.
posted by lou @ 1:09 PM

I would post 1,000 inane thoughts a day. It would be like talking to me... or rather me talking at you... sans the filter. No one wants that... do they?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wide Open Spaces

Updates all around…

Ain’t No Party
In preparation for Saturday’s seven-mile run, I kept my drinking to a minimum on Friday night (happy hour with two glasses of wine, which, by the way, was still enough for me to be rather nonchalant about risking my life when I strolled into Anthropologie at 7:45pm – 15 minutes before closing – and the shop girls informed me that they suspected the store had a gas leak. I responded that it was “no biggie” and I would “take my chances” because finding a hot ass dress was “way more important than my personal safety…” Still is. And frankly, had there been an explosion, it would have literally killed two birds with one stone, as I would no longer need the dress because I wouldn’t be going to the place that required the dress anyway. Problem solved. But I digress…).

I made my way back to my apartment around 9pm and spun myself into an eating frenzy. Starving, I devoured three quesadillas, and then rummaged through my half empty pantry for anything that wouldn’t require preparation. A half-eaten bag Oriental Rice Crackers from Trader’s Joes presented itself as the only item that fit the criteria. I ate the remainder of the bag and went to bed with a stomachache.

Just As Fast As We Can
I should stuff my face with crackers more often.

Overeating Friday night served me well on Saturday morning when I kicked some serious boo-tey on the lakefront path. Our group kept a pretty solid 12-minute pace, which I realized is a little too slow for me. I picked up speed the last half mile and finished the run by my lonesome. I’ve decided that the next time we have a cutback week, I’m going to run with the 11-minute pace group, just to see if I can keep up. But, Good Times Saturday morning! After the run, I had a bagel with real (read: not low fat) cream cheese from Einstein’s. Yum.

Indecent Footwear
I’ve had a bit of a shopping problem lately, so when I walked past Aldo on Michigan Avenue this afternoon and noticed the five foot wide red sign with block red lettering - SALE - I figured I had no choice, but to respect the opportunity. However, I was semi-shocked by the new summer collection, which, in a word, can only be described as Stripperfabulous.

Strange in a Stranger’s Land
I had the opportunity this weekend to experience a little of, “The Illinois” from the back seat of a car driven by someone who I 1) didn’t have to pay and 2) could understand. It was… to quote Bill and/or Ted… an excellent adventure.

An explanation: As a transplant lacking my own transportation, my world (or the world that I am routinely conscious of) is Chicago. Ask me what I consider “Southern Illinois” and I’ll tell you, “Anything south of Printer’s Row.” There is Chicago, there are the airports, there are the places I can go on an El train. And then, there is The Vast Illinois, which is big, undefined, and filled with towns that have names I will never remember. Whenever I’m in The Illinois, I’m all wide-eyed and filled with wonderment at the reality that all of this exists outside of the city.

It’s not meant to be a pretentious attitude, considering I come from here (I’m going to start referring to my hometown as Concretecornville, Ohio). But, nonetheless, it’s always a treat to experience The Illinois.

Friday, June 15, 2007

20 Million Questions

SP: Lou, let’s play 20 questions.
Lou: Why?
SP: It will be fun.
Lou: OK.
SP: OK. I’m thinking of something. Go.
Lou: Is it your dog?
SP: No.
Lou: Is it Katzy?
SP: No.
Lou: Does it come in pill form?
SP: No
Lou: Can I get high off it?
SP: No.
Lou: Is it a shoe?
SP: No.
Lou: Is it my shoe?
SP: No. I just said it wasn’t a shoe.
Lou: Well, if it’s not a shoe…
Katzy: Is it an animal?
SP: No
Katzy: Vegetable?
SP: Yes.
Lou: Is it an eggplant? It’s an eggplant, isn’t it?
SP: No.
Katzy: Can I eat it?
SP: No.
Lou: Wait! But, you said it was a vegetable...
SP: No... that means it’s made of vegetable material. Everything is either made of vegetable material, animal material, or mineral material.
Lou: Is it a boca burger? Those fake meat crumbles?
SP: No. It's not something you can eat.
Lou: I don’t get it.
Katzy: It means it is made of natural material.
Lou: OH OK… Is it the dog?
SP: You already asked that. And the dog is made of animal material.
Lou: I’m with you now. Go on.
Katzy: Does a professional use it?
SP: No.
Lou: What do you mean “professional”?
Katzy: A tool of a trade.
Lou: But if it is a vegetable, wouldn’t a chef use it? That’s a profession.
Katzy: No. That’s not what that means.
Lou: I really don’t get it. Just… nevermind.
Katzy: Do we have one of these in the apartment?
SP: Yes.
Lou: Can I eat it?
SP: No.
Lou: Is it in your refrigerator?
SP: No.
Katzy: Is it wood?
SP: Yes.
Lou: It’s chopsticks isn’t it?
SP: No, but good guess.
Lou: Is it pointy?
SP: Yes.
Lou: Could I stake a vampire with it?
Katzy: Vampires aren’t real Lou.
Lou: And all this time I thought one was hiding under my bed... now I will sleep easier knowing the truth. Thank you.
Katzy: Fine.
Lou: But this is a perfectly legitimate question. If I needed to stake a vampire, would I use “this” to do it?
SP: No.
Lou: It’s a toothpick isn’t it?
SP: Yes.
Lou: Damn right it’s a toothpick.

On Seven

In honor of tomorrow morning’s seven-mile run… here are seven thoughts that have been making their way around my brain today…

#1 The Long of It
I imagine everyone who runs has a “scary mile,” the mile where you think failure has the potential to be imminent. When I started running, it mile was one. Now, it’s mile nine. I figure, if I can get through nine miles, I sure as hell can run 13.1. Am I right? But, tomorrow is not that day. Tomorrow we run seven miles, which isn’t too scary, but seven miles is definitely distance. Five miles… six miles… sure that’s “far.” But seven miles. That’s serious business. And so tomorrow, in my opinion, we cross over into real “distance” running. Godspeed.

#2 Some Like It Hot
So I checked weather dot com today to see what nature had in store for tomorrow’s run. And it is all about the Heat, my friends. High of 92 degrees and sunny in the morning. There’s a difference between running and running in heat. Nausea and other uncomfortable symptoms (headaches, chills) that have, in the past, accompanied my long runs, are generally less about distance and more about heat. Whatever. I love pain. Bring it on.

#3 Banking on Crazy
What was it last year? Apprehension? Anxiety? Dread? Paralyzing fear? All of the above? Yeah. That sounds about right.

Running is often an exercise in pushing yourself to do something that you really aren’t sure is possible; but it’s also a lesson in humility, learning your body’s limits, and respecting those limits. That said… I am practically giddy about tomorrow’s run. This will be a great indicator of how my body has changed and adjusted since I began running almost a year and a half ago. Which isn’t to say that the possibility of failure doesn’t exist (everyone has bad days and bad runs); I just don’t expect failure like I did before. I expect awesomeness. I accept set-backs.

#4 The Art of Explanation
Lou, what was up with the ending of yesterday’s post? I don’t know… I just… lost steam. Or something. Got annoyed with myself. I was in a bad mood. OK… But why did you end it like that? Let me respond to that with a story. In a creative writing class in college, a professor told us about when he was living and writing in London. He was working on an essay one day about buying a coat when he looked out the window of his apartment only to witness a biker getting hit by a car. It was so jarring, he wrote it into the essay. Of course, his publisher was not happy with it, but he was unable to go back and change it because it was authentic… his experience writing of that piece would forever be entangled with witnessing the accident. But Lou, that really has nothing to do with your blog. I know. I guess my point is… it’s my stuff. Being pissed off while writing that post was part of my experience of writing that post, so I let it be. It’s authentic. Whatever. Stop asking me questions.

#5 Narcissus From Behind
I am having a Great Ass Day. Maybe it’s the jeans... While I am, admittedly, not one to shy away from a mirror, it’s definitely not characteristic for me to have to turn my body ever so slightly as I pass reflective store windows so I can get a good look at my behind. I'm not sure what kind of ego trip this is, but I cannot stop checking out my ass. I’m generally not so enthralled with my ass. I don’t go out of my way to look my ass on most days. I don't think my ass is that special. Maybe when TR kept telling me he it was his personal mission to make sure I had one of the best butts in town, he wasn't kidding. Huh.

#6 Rolling Down the Mountain
Hey Sarah... Happy Birthday. Welcome to my side of the mountain.

#7 BFFs
Want a friend for life? Call me "skinny." I'll guarantee your admission into Heaven. Not that I really have a say in that... but I'm not above doing it anyway.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where Wild Things Are

I recently discovered H&M… sort of the same way Christopher Columbus discovered America… other people were already there – and they had been for some time – but, I came in one day and decided to lay claim. H&M is now mine. I freakin’ own it… in the I-have-no-actual-right-to-it kind of way (not to mention, the no-one-recognizes-my-authority way).

There’s a reason I stayed away from H&M for so long, despite its reputation for being the Ikea of clothing, a virtual Mecca for budget/fashion conscious women everywhere. But the store’s original inhabitants – hordes of shrieking teenage girls hell-bent on buying halter-tops and mini skirts approximately four sizes too small – forced me to choose my sanity over affordable style.

Besides, I figured it simply had to be an illusion. Cheap and chic does not come without a price… even if it’s not on the tag. Instead, one usually finds that she pays dearly with what little self-esteem she carried with her into dressing room. The clothing designers for these stores generally don’t account for people whose body types fail to fall under the category of “supermodel” or “12-year-old.”

Who needs H&M! Just watch me spend seven times as much on a comparable item at Anthropologie.

Two weeks ago I gave in when realized:
1) The temperature would continue to climb for the next three months.
2) I was lacking any decent summer clothes.
3) I was unwilling/unable to drop the kind of cash it would take to buy an entire summer wardrobe at my beloved Anthropologie.

Fate decided for me. I would make my pilgrimage to H&M.

I prepared myself for the crowds, for the screaming, the obnoxious tourists, and Britney look-a-likes, and I reminded myself that slapping a child, even if it is for the greater good, would likely result in my arrest.

And I braced myself for the possibility that nothing would fit; that with each article I would be reminded of every single flaw (maybe find a few new ones)… that my legs are too short or my boobs are too big or my waist isn't small enough... and everything would look TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD… shopping excursion. And that would be it… tears... just a few, defeated and in the dressing room alone.

But, I was on a mission. Turning back was no longer an option.

I was half right.

To actually find the racks of clothing, I had to navigate through inappropriately dressed teenage girls, excessively peppering their conversations with the word “like,” and yelling acronyms into their cell phones.

But it was worth it... H&M made good on its promise… and the clothes actually fit. I went back to the dressing room three times with items overflowing in my arms. For the price of two-thirds of a dress at Anthropologie, I walked out of H&M with six shirts, a dress, a pair of city shorts, and a skirt.

And I learned something. We must make sacrifices for what we believe in. Something, something. Whatever. Mixed metaphors. Stop expecting so much from me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Another Tuesday Morning

Tuesday is Weigh Day.

Every other day of the week, I keep my scale safely tucked away in its special hiding place, out of sight and out of mind, in an attempt to discourage excessive weighing, and the emotional turmoil that inevitably accompanies a day’s worth of gaining and losing three or so pounds.

I realize haven’t posted about losing weight since February when I mentioned that yes, progress was being made, but momentum was lagging. In January, when I got serious about focusing on weight loss and gave my burnt-the-hell-out self some time off from running, in my head, I “projected” that by June I would be approximately the size of 1.5 Olsen twins.

Sadly, the process never became the dramatic extreme makeover characteristic of a Biggest Loser contestant. It probably could have been… if I ate more salads, dined out less, and yes… gave up alcohol. But, I refused, did what I thought was reasonable, and so it went… a pound here, a pound there…

I accepted the slow, but steady approach sometime in March when I realized that the fleeting, yet expected derailments from all things healthy (aka the "bad weeks") were not resulting in astronomical leaps back up the scale. It occurred to me then that my body was adjusting with the weight loss as it happened. Had I taken the ever-popular crash diet route, I would have probably lost and regained twenty pounds by now.

And so… another pound… another Tuesday…

Usually, I know what’s going to happen before I step on the scale. I know if I’ve lost or if I’ve gained; I know if nothing has happened. Regardless, I tend close my eyes in an attempt to magically will the number to be lower. Strictly scientifically speaking, I have not found any evidence to support this method.

Today though, my intuition lacked any real direction. I stepped on the scale not knowing what to expect, stared down at the number, and briefly wondered if I had a tapeworm. Suddenly when I added it all up, a pound here and there had become a fairly significant amount -- a number that I have not seen on a scale in -- let's say -- a while.

The mild shock subsided and I put the scale away (out of sight and mind)... until next Tuesday.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Choices We Made That Day

It’s always nice to meet a fan… of the update post.

How We End Up Here
I promised @ a few months ago I would one day write a post that explained (or at least attempted to explain) why she and I spend such an inordinate amount of time together. Today is not that day, but I wanted to make sure you knew that there is an explanation and someday, you might be privy to it. Here's to hoping.

On Friday, pre-happy hour, post-9-to-5, @ and I went to the gym to work on our fitness. After a quick three mile jog on the treadmill, I found @ stretching in one of the empty studios. Ever one to impress upon me her skills, she made a reference to her Xtreme flexibility. I scoffed: Whatever… I can do the splits. She scoffed right back: So can I.

The verdict: Bitch, it was on.

Those of you who know me are probably only surprised that this lil' throw down took place in a semi-appropriate setting (the floor of a gym), rather than… I don’t know… the floor of a bar. Stone cold sober, @ and I warmed up. We pulled our legs over our heads, we touched our toes, we twisted our bodies around ourselves and held awkward poses… all in preparation for the big moment.

It hurt like hell. Do not misread… we did it. Both of us did. We were each about an inch away from split perfection. We called it a draw. But OH, the pain… it was one of those moments, which (thank God) are still fairly rare for me, when one is reminded that she isn’t as young as she used to be.

Bring it On: All of Nothing
In the locker room at Crunch…

@: Promise me something…
Lou: What?
@: Promise me that you won’t look too good tonight.
Lou: I cannot promise that.
@: Oh it’s on…
Lou: You’re damn right it is.

Law of Averages
I decided if I could run six miles with only three hours of sleep after drinking three glasses of wine, then I would have no problem running five miles with five hours of sleep and approximately five beers. Math? No? Well then... the law of averages... Pi... z score... Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. The equation is quite simple: (# of miles scheduled to run * hours of sleep)/ounces of alcohol + lbs of sheer determination to drink on a patio post-work on Friday.

Turns out, math is hard… but I was right.

You better believe I was up and at ‘em for our five mile run at 5:45am. I’ll admit, the run started out a little rough. I was ready to pack it in after about a quarter of a mile, but I found a zone of sorts after we crossed into plural mile(s) and it ended up being a pretty good run… slow… a solid hour… but good.

I consider it boot camp... for a half-ass runner with binge drinking tendencies (is there any other kind?). Drinking and running as a combined event takes practice. If you're gonna drink and run, you gotta want it.

Side note: During my run, I COULD NOT for the life of me figure out why my inner thighs were sooooooo incredibly sore (see: How We End Up Here).

Just Call Me “Girl That Lou”
And you thought the splits were one hell of a party trick. Next time you’re headed off to a wild and crazy shindig, bring one of these along and I guarantee you will 1) be the most popular person in the room and 2) encourage some serious spit-swapping. And really, why else would we all be drinking if that wasn’t the goal?

Sometimes I forget that I’m 27-going-on-28, and revert to behavior generally characteristic of drunk 18-year-olds loitering on couch-furnished porches. Sometimes it’s fine… hell it’s fun…until I wake up the next morning and realize that I am – Oh SHIT – 27-going-on-28 and NOT young enough to blame youth for my actions.

However, lesson learned.. the goal of the breathalyzer is NOT to score the highest. But, when people start throwing out numbers all casual like, one assumes that the goal is to go big. That's how competition works, damnit...

Oh and yes, sadly (for me and my dignity)... I believe I did "win." Once again, I implore myself to lock up the wine.

Mother... Lovin'
Those of you who spent time with me in the last three days know that middle age women LOVE ME this week. And I think I figured out why. I believe it is because I started spouting off advice - for free nonetheless - reminiscent of my mom's personal mantra.

"When in doubt... look hot."

That'll teach 'em.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Are We Moving Yet?

Standing in line at Subway, I noticed an older, suited man in front of me. He looked like one of those guys who probably has the words "Vice," "Worldwide," or "Operations" in his title; maybe he is the head of some global corporation's Worldwide Vice Operations (which sounds like something I'd like to be a part of...).

Anyway, when he turned around, I saw that the Director of Vice was wearing eyeliner. At least it sure looked like he was wearing eyeliner. It was obvious enough for me to do double take and think, is that guy wearing eyeliner?

Which makes me wonder... why don’t men wear makeup? Maybe if they did they would be as pretty as women. I’m not talking about tranning out the male population, but a little foundation to even out the skin tone, some bronzer to highlight cheekbones, some mascara, perhaps...

Speaking of...

I had a not-so-interesting, somewhat circular conversation with my trainer, TR, and my workout buddy, G, last night that went something like this:

TR: Alright team [TR refers to us as a "team" even though we have no name – though admittedly we’ve kicked around a few ideas – no mascot, and no colors]. We’re going to do the Pleasant Prairie sprint triathlon in August.

Lou [contemplating]: I have always wanted to do a triathlon…

[Note: "Always" means "since last spring" when I was deciding between training for the Distance Classic and training for a triathlon.]

G: I can’t. I won’t have time to train until July.

Lou: Well, I’m not doing it unless G does it.

TR [mocking me]: Well, I’m not doing it unless Lou does it.

Lou: Well, then you better talk to G…

[Note: In his head, TR is already halfway to Pleasant Prairie; the last four or five statements, despite the fact that he responded, didn't even register on his radar.]

TR : We’ll train at Ohio Street beach on Saturday afternoons. You’ll love it. You can stare at all the shirtless boys.

Lou: I do like to stare at the shirtless boys...

Sigh.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On Glue: Part II

In the Crunch locker room, I unpacked the contents of my gym bag: sports bra, tank top, capris, socks, and the virgin Sauconys. I picked up one of the shoes and momentarily surveyed the bright whiteness and yellow detail. Holding it up to my face, I stuck my nose directly into the opening. I breathed deep and then looked at @.

“It’s last time they will ever smell like new car,” I said and held the shoe out to her.

She hesitated, glancing around the locker room to see who, if anyone, was watching her co-worker sniff a running shoe. Reluctantly, @ accepted.

“Yeah,” she agreed as she put her nose to the side of the Saucony before handing it back. I sat down on the bench in front of my locker, slipped on the pristine shoes, and laced up.

Like running on a mothafukin cloud…

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

On Glue

My Saucony’s have that new car smell. They were delivered to my office by one of the guys in the mail room who a gave me a look when he handed me the box. He knew. He knew that I had a personal item shipped to work. Not cool.

[Note to self: Find employee handbook. Determine what constitutes grounds for dismissal.]

I smiled as sweetly as I could and tried my best to convey innocence (or maybe that was ignorance) with my eyes as I grabbed the box.

For me? You shouldn’t have.

I ripped open the box and did the first thing I could think to do... I smelled my new running shoes. And then thought about driving 13.1 miles...

I mean running... running 13.1 miles.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Here So Soon

Order another round of… the update post.

Warning: Nostalgia Ahead
Back in the late nineties, my college roommate Anastasia and I were convinced that we had struck television gold when we stumbled upon two sock puppets hosting what can only be described as a psychedelic drug-fueled variety show on MTV. I'm struggling to recall the thought process that led me to type "that sock puppet show on MTV" into Google about a week ago, but there it was, The Sifl and Olly Show*, complete with its own Wikipedia entry.

The hosts, Sifl and Olly, along with their socially misfit sidekick Chester (who, in my medical expert opinion, displays signs of Asperger's Syndrome) entertained Annie and I with witty, if not pointless dialog (what other kind is there?), excessive use of the word "dude," songs that rallied against "the man," phone calls from the sock puppet public, and a constant stream of guests, from family members to their landlord to the appearance of a multi-colored, talking mushroom. (Come on... that one was a little obvious, don’t you think?)

Despite its short-lived run on MTV, Sifl and Olly continue to have legions of fans thanks to the InterWeb. Regardless, explaining the show to those who missed out the first time around is considerably difficult. In addition to the obvious speculation pertaining to substance use and abuse that may or may not help to explain/contribute to the hilarity of show, my "status" as a soon-to-be 28-year-old woman has come into question (What are you... a 15-year-old boy? Yes, yes I am... wanna see?) as well as my intelligence (something about IQ score and potatoes). I suppose it's fair to say that some people do not appreciate this show's simple genius.

I can't imagine why...
*It was my intention to post a video with this blog, but for whatever reason, I am (again!) having serious issues with YouTube's "Post a Video on Your Blog" feature that never seems to work. If I figure it out... you know.

A Final Word on Socks
If you check out the Sifl and Olly Myspace page, scroll down to the music section and listen to the song "Dude's House."

I drove @ nuts last week by singing the chorus to this song, which goes "I guess this means we won't be partying at Dude's House," for several days in a row. Finally on Friday, when I asked @ if she would like to hear a song, she responded with, "Not if it has the word, 'dude' in it." I, ever so cleverly, commenced to singing and replaced the word "Dude" with the word "AT."

So, I guess this means we won't be partying at @'s house.

My 'A' Game
I told @ on Friday that I would accompany her to a friend's house as well as to the Lincoln Square Mayfest that night, but I could not drink and I had to be home by 9pm in order to ensure that I was bringing my 'A' game to Saturday morning's six-mile run. Never one to follow the "rules" -- even (HA! Especially...) my own -- I had three glasses of wine and rolled in just shy of 10pm.

Still, I felt good that I had been responsible enough to get myself home at a reasonable hour. At 11pm, I went to bed. I figured a solid seven hours of sleep should ensure the bringing of the 'A' game the next morning.

It didn't happen. Midnight turned into 1am, 1am to 2am. With each passing hour, I did the math, ever aware that my alarm would begin screaming at me to GET THE FUCK UP at 5:45am. At a quarter to one, I reminded myself that if I "fell asleep now" I would still get five hours of sleep, an hour later… four hours, an hour later... finally, sometime before 3am, I nodded off and sure enough, at 5:45am, my alarm...

Somehow I managed. My run was solid despite the lack of sleep and the heat, which was just a glimpse – a salty taste if you will – of what is in store for us weather-wise as the summer wears on towards August and the Distance Classic.

Bottle Half Empty
During my mild flirtation with insomnia Friday night/Saturday morning, I got to thinking about Lindsay Lohan because… well frankly, what the hell else is one to do when sleep won't come, but one is not coherent enough to actually use this time for anything constructive… Contributing I'm sure, is the fact that I had watched The Soup before heading to bed and, even if you refuse to touch the gossip rags with a ten foot bottle of tequila, there's a decent chance you know that 1) LiLo checked herself into rehab this week (again… total Britney wannabe) and/or 2) Paris Hilton's social calendar is b-o-o-k-e-d solid for the month of June as she serves her 20 some odd day sentence for violating probation from her drunk driving arrest. So there I was in the wee hours of Saturday, lying in bed wide awake, thinking about LiLo and Paris as well as Nicole Richie (can we start calling her "NiRi?")… the whole lot of those young, wealthy, starving self-destructors. It occurred to me then, in all my sober, well-feed wisdom, that they would save themselves a lot of time, trouble, and bad press, if they just stopped driving.

Truly, these celebutantes can freebase gasoline for all I care. But, what possesses them to get behind the wheel? Even beyond the obvious "safety" issues involved, why on earth do they want to drive? That's the last thing I generally want to do… ever. And seriously, are there no cabs in LA? Or, better still, why don't they hire themselves a driver? They certainly can afford it.

Oh to be young, rich, skinny, drunk, high and chauffeured around... that's like... my dream.

But I don't wanna!
Check out this link: www.getafirstlife.com