Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where Ever You Are, There You Go

I don’t think I have ever done a Saturday morning long run on more than six hours of sleep. This week, I dozed off around 1am Saturday morning. When the alarm went off at 5:30am, I woke up wondering if I had ever actually fallen asleep. Lucky for me, I had.

As it turns out, running 12 miles is just like running six miles twice… for the most part. The difference is that twelve miles involves a wee bit more preparation. And, especially after Thursday’s sub-par jog around the neighborhood, you better believe I was prepared.

First of all, I gave myself Friday off. I had a big Italian dinner at Pizza DOC in the neighborhood with some friends. I ate way more than necessary, which, while a bad idea in general, seems to really help me when I have a long run the next day. I prepared myself for the predicted humidity by drowning myself in bottles of my beloved, electrolyte-infused Smartwater. On Saturday morning, I had breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee (I do not run without coffee… in fact, I’ve started drinking coffee during all of my morning workouts… I have a feeling that that makes me a pretty hardcore coffee drinker).

All in all, another incredible run. I’m working hard for the negative split, and I ran the last two miles between a 10:30 and 11 minute pace. So I was happy that I had the energy to pick it up after 10 miles at a 12 minute pace.

It’s interesting to see how the mood of the group often matches the weather. On Saturday, it was overcast (almost chilly at times), humid and the air hung low. Our group, for the most part, kept the chitchat to a minimum, and I listened to my iPod the entire way.

Funny story... for the most part, I was listening to the same song over and over again. This is nothing new – just asked my college roommates who had to deal with me “discovering” Aimee Mann my junior year. Song by song, I made my way through every track of hers on the Magnolia soundtrack in this manner.

When I find a new song, I can’t even listen to the entire thing without starting it over because I am so excited to hear it again. So, I get about halfway through, and then restart the song. I’m like a child. This is how I have found my “all time favorite” running songs – songs that seem to, in that moment, match my pace or my mood or my whatever; they just are… I don’t question it.

Let’s list them, shall we (in chronological order):

1) Soul Meets Body / Death Cab for Cutie (you'll always be the first, got me through my first half)
2) Elevation / U2
3) New Slang / The Shins
4) Camel Walk / Southern Culture on the Skids

And my latest love…
5) Michigan Militia / Moxy Fruvous

There have been other “favorites” but those are the songs that I happily replay through an entire two hour-plus run.

Also, a while back I asked for some music selections to add to my running playlist. Thanks for all of the suggestions. Here’s what I’ve added so far:

Girlfriend / Avril Lavigne (I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought this one)
The Passenger / Iggy Pop
Money for Nothing / Dire Straits
This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race / Fall Out Boy
Shake It / JC Chasez & Basement Jaxx (I know. I asked my Spin instructor about "that song we did the second climb to" and it ended up being JC Chasez. I'm as embarrassed as you are, maybe more so. But, it's got a great beat.)
Cupid's Chokehold / Gym Class Heroes
Makes Me Wonder / Maroon 5
In the Summertime / Mungo Jerry
Flagpole Sitta / Magnificent Tracers
Rehab / Amy Winehouse

Right now, I have about 50 songs in my Running Playlist for a total of two and a half hours of music. Now, if one is going to keep running and keep looking for Chicago Marathon bib, I’m going to need – easily – 5 and a half hours of music. So, if you have other suggestions, please send them my way!

Half marathon is two weeks away!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Check My Head

I like boys. Despite my best efforts, I am still attracted to them. In particular, a certain cute boy at work has caught my attention. I don’t know his name nor do I know which department he works in. All I know is that once in awhile he and I will end up on an elevator together, or he will pass by the hallway where my office is located, usually while I’m saying/doing something insanely stupid (for example, he walked by as I was pointing at the binder clip I was using to hold together the place on my dress where a button had fallen off – it was, of course, across my chest – and telling @ that this kind of “stuff” is the reason crazy people on the train talk to me).

Earlier in the week, he and I were riding the same elevator… just the two of us. Now, I’ve been there a year, and since one would assume that I would have at least seen him sometime in the last 12 months, one can only guess that he must be new to the company. So there you have it, trapped in an elevator that moves at the pace of a congested Chicago highway, I had four floors to make my presence known and say something (anything!), which as I worked it out in my head between floors one and floor two, I decided it should be something to this effect: Hi, I’m Lou. I don’t think we’ve met.

Simple, yet genius.

I stood there, almost paralyzed, attempting to mentally pumped myself up to say those eight little, completely non-threatening, non-suggestive, from-one-co-worker-to-another words.

Finally, as we moved from floor three to floor four, I glanced over, the message on the tip of my tongue, and observed that the cute boy had taken off his glasses. He was rubbing his eyes. I swear to God this is what went through my head:

Oh, well… he looks busy. I don’t want to bother him.

The doors opened, and we exited the elevator.

BUSY? He looks busy!?!? At 9am, standing in the world’s slowest moving elevator, he rubs his eyes and I back down because – obviously – he is otherwise engaged. You know, with his dry, itchy, red, possibly irritated… possibly tired… eyes.

I hate that I know the appropriate word for me in this scenario. I’ll spare you.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Relying on the Kindness of the CTA

I tend to think of myself as a fairly street savvy city woman. I rarely take my safety for granted - even when in familiar neighborhood territory - and have learned to adopt a “don’t mess with me” demeanor when walking alone in the evening. Regardless, I know that the fact that I just look like I might be a bitch isn’t going to necessarily save me from danger.

Still, sometimes I forget. Sometimes I’m in my own world and completely unaware of my surroundings. Sometimes it does not even occur to me until it’s too late that I may have unwittingly placed myself in a situation that could turn ugly. And sometimes, my level of stupidity surprises even me.

Take last night, for example. As of late, the ‘mill (as in the treadmill) has been failing me. I struggle for every five minutes, talking myself into 20… no… 25… come on… you can do 30… minutes. I’m a bored little hamster, and it finally occurred to me that I have crossed the threshold and become an outdoor runner.

So, for the first time ever, I decided that I would hit the streets alone after work for a lovely four-mile jog around the neighborhood. It was a nice night – if not a bit on the humid side – and I left my apartment around 6:50pm estimating I would be gone between 40-50 minutes.

Twenty-five minutes into my run (somewhere between mile two and mile three), I felt great. I contemplated extending the run to five miles. But by mile three and a half, I was feeling less than stellar. I was chilled and clammy – signs of dehydration – incredibly thirsty and unable to find a drinking fountain in area of the neighborhood with which I was unfamiliar. And, I still had a mile to go.

Every Saturday, for our group long runs, I carry the following on my person: my ID, my bus pass, a little bit of cash, my cell phone, and water.

For last night’s four miles alone, I brought one thing: my bus pass. I had no phone, if I needed to call for help. No ID if something happened to me. No cash if I needed a cab or to buy a bottle of water. Nothing. Nada. In the event of something bad happening (“Something bad happened?!?!), I made a conscious choice to rely on the CTA to save me.

I can’t imagine what I was thinking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost Famous: The Apology

Please note comment #2 on my previous post.

We all know I love to write about people who write about me. But, admittedly, there is one person who has written about me twice who I left off of the list... for a very stupid reason. I'm here today to make things right. Unfortunately, I have to go into a bit of an explanation as to why I omitted the things I omitted, and I hope Dena doesn't mind.

As you all know, I dated this guy for a couple of months recently and was "let go" in June. Well, in the course of dating him, I met a lot of his friends. Many... no... most of whom, I really liked (except that one guy... WTF was with that guy?).

Dena is one of his friends. She and I bonded over a few drinks at a wedding last month, talked about running and The L Word, among other things. It was great. Then things between what's-his-name and I ended.

After meeting me, Dena wrote about how I inspired her to start running, which... is nothing short of awesome.

In truth, I didn't write about her writing about me because of him. I guess I didn't want to feel like I was "moving in" on his territory... not that Dena was "his territory" but you know, they've known each other a long time. Anyway, I'm totally lame. Never let a man dictate the decisions you make about your blog.

Lesson... consider yourself learned.

Almost Famous: Go Big or Go Home

You guys know I can't resist myself. It's part of my charm. That is why when the people write about me, I must report on it because frankly, I happen to find myself to be fascinating.

In a very special edition of Almost Famous, we have confirmed that I received mentions in not one, but two, blogs over the past few days. Two!

First, B-Kay of Fifty Down and Marathon Bound, shared her thoughts about Saturday's long run. I cameo in her post as the nameless chick lamenting her choice to eat Mexican for the previous night's dinner and the runner who is nearly taken out by a bicyclist, and I can't help but agree with her assessment of our group's collective attitude of the day was that eight miles was cake. (Ummm... cake).

Second, I was very accurately portrayed as "the funniest person... ever..." in a post on Heidikins blog. And that is almost a direct quote...

In case you needed a second opinion... yes... Heidi was in Chicago on business this past weekend, and we had an opportunity to have lunch (OK... she had lunch, I had already eaten two breakfasts because I could not decide between ordering a bagel and ordering quiche, so I ordered - and ate - both. True story.) and wander around downtown a bit on Sunday before she hoped on a plane back to Utah. I was excited to meet her, as she is one of my few (maybe my only?) straight up, organic, no-connections-what-so-ever blogger friends. Sure I wondered offhandedly if others would think it was weird, but I didn't really care, and @ assured me that it wasn't (doesn't everyone meet on the Internet these days? Isn't that why Myspace and Match.com and MMORPGs were created?). Oh and nice photo, Heidi! Check out my awesome headband purchased two days prior at Heartland Cafe.

And, I can safely report that both of us are completely normal. At least she is. Me... well, we expect a verdict any... day... now.

Anyway, I should get back to my Second Life.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Passengers

I need a vacation from all of this relaxing. No-Fail Recipe for Good Times: Combine two of my best friends from college (Anastasia and KD) with the most beautiful Chicago summer days on record. Can you smell the patchouli?

I had the good fortune of meeting Annie and KD, who have been BFFs since they were in middle school, within the first few weeks of our freshman year of college at Ohio University in Athens. The way they remember it – and I believe that this is an accurate account of events – I simply walked up to them while they were standing outside of Boyd Hall (our collective dorm), and said, "Hi, I’m Lou."

It was a simpler time.

For Annie and I, it was love at first Marlboro Light. We bonded instantly over a shared addiction to cigarettes, a desire to learn to play the guitars we had both recently acquired, and a weakness for musician-wannabes and other shadier types. KD stood back for a few months and eyed me suspiciously. Eventually she decided that "Crazy Lou" was more "fun crazy" than "psycho crazy" and she came around.

It was just like that Judy Blume book. Only we had already gotten our periods when we met. And we didn’t name any of our crushes after a brand of paint. And we weren’t twelve. Whatever.

Ten years later, we're still together.

A word about the place where the three of us met... Athens, Ohio (for the three of you who didn’t live there at one time or another) is your quintessential, fiercely liberal, hippie-infested college town nestled quietly in the hills of rural Southern Ohio. So, if you will, close your eyes and imagine a main street lined with bars whose policies are – let’s say – lax when it comes to the drinking age and/or the use of illegal substances, head shops, worker-owned restaurants that double as art galleries, dreadlocks, patchwork pants, hacky sacs, and prairie skirts (Oh yeah, and frat boys, drunk kids puking in trash cans, book stores, coffee shops, and Reverend Such-And-Such preaching on the campus green about how we’re all going to hell for wearing clothing that doesn’t resemble a burlap sack… again... whatever...). It's the kind of town that boycotts Wal-Mart.

Isn’t college the coolest?

Back in Chicago… Heartland CafĂ©, nestled in the urban jungle of Rogers Park – my least favorite neighborhood in the city – with it’s communist propaganda, organic menu, questionable bathrooms, apathetic waiters, and general store stocked with all of your hippie essentials (Patchouli!) might as well have been plucked from Athens and transported here via time warp. I heart it. I hearted it from the moment I set foot in it because it reminds of KD and Annie, simpler times, and all kinds of nostalgia.

As we all know, I am rarely one to veer from my policy of “under-promising” and “over-delivering,” but I could not contain my excitement when it came to introducing KD and Annie to a place in Chicago that, for me, embodies the place we came from. Lucky for me, Heartland didn’t disappoint. We stayed for three and a half hours, lounging on the patio in the Friday afternoon sun, drinking beers, eating the best hummus in the city, and chatting, chatting, chatting, chatting, chatting, chatting.

Cause that’s what we do. Then we all bought cool headbands from the general store and rode the Red Line back to the future.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Change Daily for Maximal Results

What have I done? The minute I start talking marathon, my body turns on me. I try to squeeze five workouts into four days, and now it’s all pain and exhaustion and “what was I thinking?”

This morning, as I whined my way through the second personal training session of the week, TR suggested that I, “pamper myself,” by “not doing anything for an hour,” and “icing my knee.”

That’s all fine and good, TR, but I believe you and I diverge somewhat on definition of “pampering.” In my world, it involves a very hot man massaging me while I sip a cocktail… on the beach… or something…

But, I guess your version is a little more feasible for -- you know -- today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Story of Carbs

Have you ever been on a diet? Like some crazy ass Adkins diet? Have you ever given up all things carbohydrate? (If I even began to think about a low carb diet, I crumble to a loaf of bread within moments.)

But you… your willpower is much stronger than mine and you’re on Adkins, and you give up carbohydrates. You are amazingly disciplined, and you’re dropping the lbs like nobody’s business. After awhile, you don’t even miss the carbs… or rather, you don’t realize you miss them. That is until you wind up at some douchebag’s birthday party who doesn’t give a crap about your diet and the fact that it has been months since you put anything besides bacon in your mouth, and he places cake (CAKE!) right in front of you. Just like that. Willpower... what willpower? It was gone the second your eyes darted from the cake to the plastic cup filled with plastic forks.

But, you – like any normal person would - think, Yeah, I can have a little cake. I’ve been so good for so long, and maybe… maybe I’ve finally learned how to control the amount of cake I eat. One or two bites… that’s it. I can handle it.

Ha!

Without even realizing it, you’re six pieces deep, and you feel incredible. Cake - sugar and white flour and all of that stuff that you haven’t put into your body for months - is exactly the thing that you’ve been missing. And you didn’t even know it. So your brain commands you to eat more cake...

Must eat cake. More euphoric cake. Cake = good.

But, you fail to foresee the consequences of your cake indiscretions, and what happens next is, sadly, inevitable.

You lose it. Your behavior becomes erratic; you're - all of a sudden - bursting at the seams with emotions ranging from depression to paranoia to rage to God knows what else.

You, my friend, are an irrational, emotional mess... a complete nightmare.

Of course you are! You haven’t had cake in months! Your body isn’t used to eating that crap. The cake reacted – and poorly might I add - with your body chemistry (come on people! This is “Dare to Keep Kids off Drugs” 101). Once the unfamiliar cake substance was ingested you went high (Wee! Sugar!) before you crashed and burned (Boo. Sugar.).

And now you are forced to deal with the aftermath of your decision to eat the cake in the first place.

The thing is... after all that, you still want cake. But now, it's gone (you ate it all). And even though you know that particular cake caused a negative reaction, you think that since the cake has been reintroduced, your body has adjusted and the next cake will be a little easier on you. Is it possible that there is cake out there that will allow you to maintain some semblance of balance?

So maybe it's time to reintroduce cake back into your life... because really... what is life with out a little cake? And low carb diets are just absurd.

Make sense?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blue Sky For Miles

[Insert cliche about "the journey" here.]

Eleven Down

Another great run today. We’ve been very lucky this season with the weather. We had a beautiful, breezy morning on the lakefront path, about 70 or so degrees. The weather gods have been smiling – here’s to hoping they will cooperate for the half marathon.

Eleven miles. Wow. The first seven miles flew by, Meg and I chatted most of the way. It still amazes me when we say things like, “Only four miles to go.” Only? Huh? That’s pretty incredible considering we were well over an hour into the run.

We finished at 2 hours 22 minutes, according to my watch, which included a couple extended water/Gatorade/Gu breaks. We stopped four times, and my guess is each of those breaks was approximately (at least) 2-3 minutes, which puts us either just over or just under a 12 minute pace. Not bad. I will say, I ate two Gu packets (for some reason they didn’t taste so bad this week, nor did they mess with my stomach), but still, when we hit that two-hour mark, I was starving again, which of course effected my energy. I wouldn’t say I struggled through the last two miles – I think I was still pretty solid and did manage to pick up the pace a bit the last mile – but I definitely would have benefited from one more Gu.

I’m feeling good post-run. Knees are a little sore, but my mental clarity is good (this was a problem last year… after the particularly hot and long runs last year I would be completely disoriented for hours) and my stomach isn’t bothering me at all.

Not too much more to go! Next week we run 8 miles, then 12, another cutback week, and then Hello half marathon!

Shifted
I experienced a long-overdue shift in perception and priority in the midst of my Tuesday Spin class as I was watching droplets of sweat hit the floor below me during a particularly rough seated climb. I kept turning the resistance on my bike up, imagining that I riding up some massive hill in the Outdoors. I pushed myself harder and harder when I realized, Oh my God. I'm pushing myself. Completely moronic, right?

But seriously... I'm wasn't just half assing it so I could say I got a work out in; I wanted to be stronger, to be faster, to build my endurance, and sweat like I came to SWEAT. No one was there to turn up the resistance up for me, no one was telling me what to do or how hard to work, it was all me and I wanted it. Moreover, this workout -- and all other workouts -- was not just a means to an end of losing weight. Sure, I have weight loss goals, but suddenly, it occurred to me that this was no longer about being skinny like it had been for as far back as I can remember. Now, this is about being strong... and then being even stronger. This is about seeing how far I can push myself... and then pushing myself even farther.

Wow.

I always just assumed myself a product of too many fashion magazines and fad diets and I would never be able to separate the idea of being healthy from the desire to be thin. When did this happened? When did these goals -- that have nothing to do with a dress size or a number on the scale -- take over my life and suddenly give me a much more balanced outlook on dieting and weight and fitness?

It's about time.

Makes Me Wonder
Final note (not to mention... speaking of...): One thinks that she is ready to run is ready to run farther. And (AND!) one keeps wondering if it’s possible to get her hands on a bright and shiny black market Chicago Marathon bib…

We shall see...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Fair Warning

Brain still not working in story-form.

We Ride We Ride
OMG You guys… guess where I went?!?!

No… no… guess…

Trader Joe's!

I know… I know… I can frequently be spotted at the neighborhood TJ's…

But guess how I got there.

In my new Zipcar.

Speaking of the Homeless
I had a very Scrubs-esque moment at work yesterday when I went off into a daydream-y state and imagined myself telling two young children about how daddy and mommy were introduced by a homeless man on the L train. I laughed about that one for a while, and then I told @, who just kind of looked at me weird.

I should really consider keeping more of my thoughts to myself.

Other Things That May Happen on the Street
First, I agreed to work out with TR and G at 7am yesterday, which meant that I would need to wake up at 6am and be out the door by 6:15am in order to be downtown on time if I wanted to utilize cost-effective public transportation. Unable to fall asleep until 2am, I ignored my alarm, and by the time I actually looked at the clock, it was already 6:30am. Frenzied, I ran around my apartment gathering the necessarily items for my day, including something to wear to work. I had two requirements: 1) It had to be clean, or I had to be able to pass it off as clean (a little Febreze, anyone?); and 2) it had to be easy.

I chose a green shirt-dress. One piece, that's all, simple. It is, however, short. Not stripperella short, but short enough that in a more formal work environment, I may be questioned regarding the "appropriateness" of the length.

Whatever. Dressing provocatively at work has really never been my thing (except that one summer…). Anyway, with the help of a friendly, neighborhood cabbie, I managed to only be seven minutes late to my session with TR and G; we worked out; I showered and headed out in the direction of "The Association" all energized and afterglow-y.

What's the first thing I do when I get to work?

You guessed it!

I flashed @. Full frontal. Hell-O. OK... maybe it wasn't "full."

It was… of course… an accident.

So maybe the dress was a little shorter than I thought. I spent the rest of the day incessantly pulling the dress D-O-W-N… at the request/warning of @. She's somewhat traumatized and still contemplating whether or not she will file a complaint against my dress with HR.

And May I Just Say
Raciest.Blog.Ever.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For Literal

Day 2: The search continues for the missing hairbrush. In the meantime, I will continue to rock the ponytail/headband combo.

I was an unwilling participant in some homeless man’s bizarre attempt at matchmaking on the train. It was late, after 9pm, on the Brown line home tonight, and I was starring out the window, half listening to an inane conversation the disheveled, toothless man sitting across from me was forcing upon the somewhat less disheveled man sitting behind me.

Homeless: You homeless too?

Almost Homeless: I ain’t rich.

Homeless: What you need is a good lady…

In the reflection of the window, I could see Homeless gesture in my direction. At this point, I started thinking:

Oh God Please No Please Don’t Talk to Me Please No Oh God.

Almost Homeless: I already got a lady.

Close one.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Horror

I'm in the mood to compartmentalize... rather than spend precious time brainstorming some fancy schmancy theme to neatly tie my blog post together… in a bow. Pink! It’s a girl after all…

Randomness
I just finished reading an article about hipster librarians. Please note that this article appeared in the Fashion & Style section. It taught me some new words: "literati" and "guybrarian," and was ever so helpful in my on-going quest to understand the Hipsters.

The downside: I woke up so late this morning that I didn’t even brush my hair (though that was also partially due to not being able to find my brush). The upside: Headbands.

I cut my finger last night while making chicken salad. It was inevitable. Give me a knife and I’ll cut myself… not on purpose. It’s becoming more and more apparent (evidence is mounting rapidly) that I am clumsy and accident-prone.

Also last night, I decided it was time to ix-nay the antique brass bed frame I have had for years. It was taking up too much room, but breaking that thing down, carrying it around my 130-degree apartment, and stuffing it into the big Murphy bed closet was no bueno. Now all of the items in the closet are in precarious positions. I have no doubt I will be woken up in the middle of the night someday in the near-ish future to the sounds of everything in the closet crashing to the ground. I’ll probably think it’s a B&E.

Then I watched Big Love. I heart HBO on Demand, but somehow, I seriously messed up my Tivo. I don't even know how to describe what happened, much less how to begin to fix it. As with most technology problems I have, I blame Comcast.

Sarah pointed out that I didn't mention in my last post that I worked with her at the Taste of Chicago on Sunday, which if you've never been, is a scary world filled with greasy food vendors and nearly nude men and women.

The Digits…
Reality settled in today… squarely on my shoulders. We are a mere five and a half weeks away from the Chicago Distance Classic… and I haven’t worked out since last Thursday. Worse still… I haven’t run since last Monday, when I struggled to finish a 45-minute run. It occurred to me later, after I passed out on my couch for two hours and woke up with a sore throat that perhaps I was getting sick. Not possible! I quickly Zicam-ed myself, but a mild cold hung on for a few days. Nothing that kept me from functioning, but still, I was pretty low energy. Because it was vacation, I treated myself to two sessions with TR (one alone and one with my sister as my workout buddy, which was fun… except for the part when TR kept asking me how I would feel if he was my brother-in-law).

Training Update
As I’ve mentioned, the training this summer has been really great. I am, by nature, not a perfectionist (understatement of the year!), so a bad week here, a missed run there, is not something I stress over too much. That’s life. If you can’t fit training into your life, then it’s not worth training. However, that said, while perusing 50 Down and Marathon Bound today (B-Kay’s blog; she’s in my running group), I had a minor heart attack when I read her training plan for this week in the Run #67 Steamy post.

To be fair, I also had a minor heart attack when Meg informed me via email that our run this weekend is 11 miles, not the 10 miles that I had expected. What?!?!?!? Did anyone ever think about easing us into the double digits?

The minor heart attacks continued (OK maybe I do have a theme today), when I stepped on the scale this morning. Apparently, eating ice cream six days in a row is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, weight loss, or even matenience. Bad Lou. Go to Spin class.

Anyway, we (me and my other persona) are back on track today and will be attending our usual Tuesday night Spin class. Hopefully, I’ll sweat out some of what ever new strand of crazy this is.

Monday, July 09, 2007

One More Day

I need one more day to mentally unwind… to eat cookies and ice cream and not workout… to re-order my existence and coin clever acronyms. Why? For approximately three weeks I have been experiencing severe TLU – Total Life Upheaval. I told you it was clever.

So let’s see. When we last left me, I had written about @ and me (per usual) and our special friendship, as well as the karaoke bash and the unpleasant aftermath of the karaoke bash. Last week, both @ and I took time off work, which prompted a lot of inner-office comments like, “You guys are taking a vacation together. Where ya going?” I indulged them and for two weeks have stuck to the story that @ and I were on a cruise.

(In advance… sorry @. I can’t help it. Sometimes -- like now -- I just think I’m so terribly funny that I must share it with the world. It would be a shame to deprive them of my wit. You understand. Say the word and it’s gone.)

So maybe we weren’t on "r" cruise, but since my family was in town, @ and I arranged a very casual "meeting of the moms." It was sweet. We’re all going to be very happy together.

Other stuff that got done on vacation:
  1. I booked that elusive trip to Europe: Laura and I are officially headed to Amsterdam this fall. From Amsterdam, we stop in Paris, then Lucerne, the French Riviera, and finally, we finish our European Vacation in Barcelona. It’s going to be awesome. While I have been to Paris, the other cities will be all be new to me. My sister of course immediately asked me if I was going "partake" in a little "somethin' somethin'" (which according to the urban dictionary is actually, "sumpin sumpin," but I see "sumpin'" and I say, "Some Pen," which does not sound cool or hip -- on second thought, that would make it entirely hipster-like...) in Amsterdam. Five years ago, that question would have been met with a very enthusiastic “Hell yeah!” But now, at the rip old age of 28, I very honestly answered, “I don’t know… I really don’t… that just doesn't seem as appealing as it did before.” Then we discussed whether I would visit Anne Frank’s house. See… I show signs of maturity once in awhile.
  2. I officially registered for the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon: Took me long enough. Now, it’s real… REAL SOON that is. August 12 is the date. I’ve projected my time to be 2 hours 38 minutes, which is just shy of a 12-minute mile. I’m hoping to do better than that, but in this heat one never knows. Still, I would finish a solid 12 minutes faster than last year. I think that’s a reasonable goal, don't you?
  3. I took the plunge with Zipcar: Oh to live in the big city sans the responsibility of a car. This means no hassles with a car payment, a parking spot, insurance, repairs, etc (What gas prices?). And, I can pat myself on the back for using public transportation and thinking locally, acting globally, or something the other way 'round... you know the environment and crap. But, there are gaps. Small ones. For instance, it would be nice to be able to go to Target once in awhile… just for – you know – stuff. Now I can (as long as I get approved. I think I mentioned that as a teenager, my driving record was spotty at best, but now that I'm a decade away from any run-ins with... well, a fire hydrant for one, I should be cleared) for the low, low price of $50 a year + $9 per hour of driving. That’s not bad. Cheaper than a cab, and frankly, my driving is probably a little better than some cabbie's. Not much, but I’ll take my chances with myself. Thank you very much.
  4. I redecorated my apartment: Scratch that. My mother, in an unforeseen, typical-for-some-moms-but-not-mine turn of events, decided that my self-described craphole of an apartment was in need of some sprucing up. Lucky for me, my mom does not subscribe to the decorative wooden farm animals and needle point pillows school of design. I actually love her style, so I let her do as she pleased. Now I have a new color scheme in my bathroom (new shower curtain, bath mat, and towels), and a rug on its way from Pottery Barn to “brighten up” my living space. I also have instructions on where to move various pieces of artwork/furniture, right after my building management company answers the letter I sent them requesting that they repaint (yes… my mom wrote it for me… she was on a role, and I was/am lazy and didn’t/still don’t care about the painting).
Wow. I/my mom was productive. But, there are plenty of things I didn’t do during my vacation. For example, I didn’t get my bike into working condition… or do the six-mile run with my sister on Saturday. I did, however, eat my face off, and frankly, I’m a little ice creamed out (which, truth be told, I didn't think was actually possible). And I’m not looking forward to owning up to the damage that has been done since I skipped town for D.C. But, I’m hoping that this City Turned Sauna allowed me to sweat off all of the extra poundage. It’s possible. Ninety degree heat ought to be worth sumpin'. Here’s to hoping.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Touch and Go

Vacation makes me lazy...

Special Friends
Well @... now seems as good a time as any.

Last weekend, @ and I jointly hosted a karaoke party to celebrate my 28th birthday, our long-awaited return from D.C., and our anniversary.

OK. Stop looking at my blog like that; I know what you’re thinking: Lou, is there something you aren’t telling us about your relationship with @? For the record, @ and I are not romantically involved… with each other.

A back story: It is rare in one’s adult life that time and space conspire so perfectly to force two people into almost every aspect of each other’s lives. Sure it happens in college (OMG… we live in the same dorm and we have biology together and we both smoke Marlboro Lights! Nothing short of kismet), but in your mid- to late-twenties… the chances are slim.

@ and I met last summer on my first day of work at “The Association.” She and I, together, comprise the marketing team within our division. On that fateful day, @ sat in my office across the desk from me and, as far as I could tell, sized me up. I was – at that moment – a little unsure about how well she and I would work together. At the same time, @ and I were both residing in the dreaded Rogers Park. Coincidentally and unbeknownst to each other, were both on the verge of escaping our current living situations.

She moved first. And, I swear it was by accident, but within a few weeks, I followed her to Lincoln Square. The night I picked up my apartment keys from the previous resident, she and I bonded over drinks at a local Lincoln Square bar. It was the beginning of a beautiful, if not forced, friendship that takes us from the bus to the red line in the morning, to work and to the gym, from the red line to the brown line in the evening, and finally, back to the bar at night.

Yes. We spend an extensive amount of time together. Of course, being in similar places in our lives and dealing with sometimes eerily similar issues, also has a lot to do with our choice to spend off-the-clock hours together. And, I know that I’ve learned (particularly not being native to the Chicago-area) that good friends (the kind that you will probably end up knowing forever) are often hard to come by later in life. What can I say? I’m very lucky to have her. She puts up with me, and stars in my blog. What would I write about if I didn’t have @ around? You know... other than myself...

Under/Over
If I’ve taught @ anything about marketing it is this: under-promise, over-deliver. It’s really the only thing I’ve retained from my graduate education (the better part of a $100K later...). With her, it resonates. Talk about over-delivering (I’ll leave it up to you to decide the “creepiness” factor)…

Payment for Our Sins
On Sunday, my body was filled with toxins and free radicals, and the Universe ensured that I would make good on my debt. Three fire trucks, two ambulances, and one ride with a brake-happy cab driver following a car blasting mariachi music made sure that I paid in full.

I was in a bad way. Hangover remedy attempt number one: Eat Chinese food.

Failed miserably.

Hangover remedy attempt number two: Lay in the sun at the beach. Approximately two hours and five doses of Advil later, I was cured. Sort of.

It was, however, a day when you know you’re not going to be right no matter how much the pain and nausea subside.

Making My Way Through Lunch Today
Being “not right” led me to coin and define a new term as part of my ongoing hangover research: Post-hangover euphoria.

The subject will experience Post-hangover euphoria at the conclusion of physical pain resulting from excessive alcohol use, allowing the effects of sleep deprivation to peak, causing the subject to experience mild vertigo combined with giddiness. At this point, the subject is able to function due to decreased physical discomfort, but is often semi-incoherent.

A View from the Path
A long time ago, I promised that I would one day take a photo of the downtown Chicago skyline from the north end of the lakefront path. What I managed to capture doesn’t even begin to do justice to the view, but I promise you this, it absolutely is worth it every time.

And All I Got was this Lousy T-shirt
Remember that time the cicadas attacked you? Yeah… that was weird.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Hilarious Things We Do

This is the only known photo of @ and I together.

Lou: @, give me my number back.

@: No.

Lou: OK...

Lou: I want my number back now.

@: No.

Lou: Uh, hey @. You got that number I asked you to hold on to? Can I get that from you?

@: No.

Lou: OK... now.

@: No.

Lou: Then... Can I have four beers?

So maybe Drunk Lou can't outsmart @, but Drunk Lou can definitely outsmart Sober Lou.

I hate it when that happens.