Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Price Cut

I'm procrastinating right now. I'm leaving for Columbus tomorrow to willingly subject myself to both shopping and crowds, but not just any regular shopping or generic crowds, but shopping and crowds to the power of... at least 10... maybe more. Brides-to-be, their entourages, and a store full of seriously marked down to like next to nothing wedding gowns. Yep. I'm going to Filene's "Running of the Brides" because I've lost my mind, and... by all accounts... my budget, particularly my dress budget, is minimal. So here's to hoping.

There are many things wrong with this mess. First, I'm not really a shopper. I'm a get in, get what I need, get the hell out kinda gal who has no patience for things like browsing or fitting rooms or salespeople. Second, beyond not really being a shopper, bargain shopping completely eludes me (though my recent shopping venture in Denver challenges this long standing truth, but that's another story, which given some time and continued procrastination I may very well tell you). The crowds... well, I can probably handle that. I know how to run and grab shit, sometimes I terribly mindless when it comes to being polite, so that should serve me well in this particular situation. Also confusing, there's like a whole process to this "event" called the "running of the brides." There's swapping, and haggling, this dress for that. Sounds complicated.

My mom and sister are coming with, though Mom refuses to run in and grab dresses. Mom will hold the mirror (yes, we are bringing a mirror). Sarah and I will do the dirty work and probably end up on the 5 o'clock news in a bridal gown brawl.

What else?

Last week into this week I was in Denver for a work trip that proved to be... well, lacking in the actual work. Instead I did stuff like eat at Mad Greens, my new favorite place on earth. I went to the art museum even though I tend to be staunchly against things I consider vacation-like on a business trip, I had nothing else to do. I went to dinners with staff and had drinks, hung out in the hotel gym, and once in awhile, stopped by a meeting. But Sunday afternoon, I had nada left to do work-wise, so like any lady who lunches at Mad Greens, I went shopping.

So the other week I had this epiphany. It was spurred by something I read that reminded me of something my mom said. Really the details are inconsequential. The point is, I had this realization that went something like this (I have a hard time stating this gracefully, so... sorry): Do I really not care about myself enough to put on makeup and comb my hair and wear nice clothes? And if I do care about myself why don't I make the effort to look nice? Perhaps if I made the effort to look nice, I would feel better about myself and shit.

I don't know. The ideas are there, clunky for sure, but it made sense in that moment and I decided after all these years it was time for a change. Now sure, we can speculate all day as to why I became the way I became, but that's really neither here nor there. So, after putting the nicest work clothing I owned in my suitcase, vowing to wear makeup, and packing my curling iron, I went shopping. I thought, fuck sizes. I'm going to buy what fits, and not pin my self-worth on a number attached to an item of clothing. First, I went to TJ Maxx where I found a cashmere button down sweater for $20. Then, I hit pay dirt. Banana Republic was having a sale. And I got this:
Please note: the original price of the dress was $130. The online sale price is $34. I got the dress for $19. How? Hell, I don't know. Pure dumb luck seems the likeliest answer. And (AND!) I got a skirt for $16 (originally $79). I spent less than $40 at Banana Republic and walked out with merchandise originally priced at over $200. Now that is some seriously impressive bargain shopping if I do say so myself.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ever Aft

So much to share these days. As it turns out, my “get shit done” attitude is taking precious time away from blogging.

And apparently, I have a lot of shit to do. I know because “The Knot Dot Com,” the website you are forced to join upon engagement lest you be ridiculed by other brides-to-be for not being a… wait for it… “knottie,” has a list about three point one miles long with my name on it. Literally, it says “Lou and MM’s Checklist • DAYS TO GO: 215.” There are little red exclamation marks next the items I have failed to complete in a timely manner, like “Get organized: Start a wedding binder.” I actually bought a binder too. And I bound a three-hole punch and some dividers just for good measure. But the part where I actually punch some holes in my stack of wedding-related papers continues to elude me.

Organization really isn’t my thing. That’s for the Type A Brides and the people who make up Knot screen names like “HappyEvaAft”. As long as it’s all in sort of the same pile of wedding stuff, I’ll be fine.

Oh what else. Here, is the bridesmaid’s dress:

I actually own this dress. I bought it for MM’s policeman dinner/dance fundraiser a year ago. I sort of went nutso when I remembered this dress and decided that IT was perfect for the bridesmaids. I bought the last few dresses in existence without asking anyone anything about sizes much less if they liked it. I figured it was an act of decisiveness that would lead to other acts of decisiveness. Decisive or not, it seems to have worked out for everyone involved.

In other news, Meg and Lindy and I had what can only be described as a meeting of the minds recently where we got serious about our schedules for this year’s season. So far, I’m scheduled for the Shamrock Shuffle, the Indy Mini Marathon, and… well… that’s it at the moment. But, I will do at least one other half-marathon, at least one triathlon, and… well… it’s likely that the Chicago Marathon will also be on the final race docket. That is unless I allow MM and his running buddy/groomsman D talk me into a little event in Austin. Not likely at this point. I’m just so far away from triathlons I can’t even wrap my head around it with all the other goings on this year.

But regardless.

This year may not be as jammed packed as last year in order to accommodate some other events, but the truth is after taking some time away from running, the itch has returned. It must be scratched. So it’s time, which is good because training for this year’s spring half marathon begins on Valentine’s Day.

Ah… mi amor

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Lest We Not

Oh please. You didn’t think that I, the Queen of Good Intentions, would actually let the new year pass without resolving to change some such nonsense.

This year I’m going big. For the last several days… maybe more… I’ve had that Yoda quote going through my head:

Do or do not. There is no try.

Now, maybe I’m simple, and perhaps it’s a little obvious to derive inspiration from Star Wars, when – let’s face it – I’m not even a fan, but this is it. My new year’s resolution is to live my life based on this quote.

Ha!

And you thought it was going to be about losing a gazillion pounds.

And it is. But it’s so much more than that.

As much as I fancy myself to have moved forward in the past few years, beyond the stagnation of my mid-twenties, I am still profoundly lazy. I know. I’m not lazy because I “run marathon(s);” I workout, whatever. I’ve heard it all. It’s not really about that.

It’s about going to spin class and staying in the saddle to do a climb, not because it’s too hard to stand, I’d just much rather sit, thankyouverymuch. It’s about having checks in my wallet for months because I refuse to cross Michigan Avenue during the day (in almost all instances. I will do it, but only if someone is really giving me a good reason to… like say – hypothetically – it’s my mom’s birthday and, because I’m so damn lazy, I still don’t have a card, and so not to disappoint her, I’m going to put one in the mail right this very minute, so it’s only two to five days late, but first, I have to get the damn card). It’s the, “I want to [fill in the blank]” and then never really doing it.

After 29 and a half years, it’s enough to make one sick at oneself.

Thus, a change. Do or do not. There is no try. Either change the light bulb or resolve to live in the dark. Don’t “try to get to bank.” Just go. Truthfully, I’m hoping many of these tasks that lie ahead in 2009 involving me “doing” rather than “don’ting,” but I imagine that’s obvious.

Is this a weird resolution? I resolve to live my life in such a manner that I go to the bank when I need to? Seems... a little too easy.

I guess that in my world, sometimes the neglecting the smallest of tasks can prevent me from taking on the bigger ones. Why bother writing a book when the kitchen hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks? “I’m trying to write a book, but menial tasks just keep getting in the way.” Duh. I mean there are things to be done people! So then do them. Do them when they need to be done. Move past them in order to move to better things. Stop trying. Start doing.

So I’ll admit in essence, my New Year’s resolution sounds a little more like a certain athletic brand’s well-known slogan that reminds us to get off of our asses, but when given a choice (it is my resolution after all), I’d rather live a life inspired by Yoda’s words than by Nike’s. Really, though, who among you would choose differently?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Some Things Forgotten

Don’t get me wrong. I love training for endurance events. I love thinking about it, talking about it, planning it, doing it. I spent my spring, summer, and fall 2008 preparing for and participating in multiple races. Running, biking, swimming, and the occasional strength training or yoga class for good measure – all of this takes time. A lot of time. It is, as they say, time intensive. Then of course there’s the celebrating of all this time intensive physical activity, which is… in and of itself… also time consuming.

I didn’t realize it until after the marathon when I had nothing to do. Nothing. Nada. Ho hum, another boring Saturday with no four hour training run to suck up half the day. It occurred to me then that over the last nine months I had stopped reading… books, not blogs… and for pleasure, not for information on how to train for a half marathon/marathon/triathlon. I read one book between June and September – not a long one at that – and it was all I could do to sit down and focus. A chapter here on the plane before I passed out, a few pages there in my bed before I passed out.

As far as I can tell, I have always loved to read for pleasure. Sure I didn’t do it much in college or graduate school because when you are forced to read boring ass text books for hours on end, reading for pleasure seems more of a chore than an escape. And, I’m certainly not one to go after “good” literature on purpose. Give me whatever book will keep me occupied (no… better than that… keep me up late on a school night… keep me laying around on a Saturday afternoon for hours on end... make me wonder how to get away with reading at while at work), and I’ll read it.

I decided that it was time to recapture my love for reading. I needed something… easy. Quick and easy – not something good per say, but something that would absorb me -- grab me and hold me captive, slave to the characters and the story.

I chose something so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing. Twilight. Yes, Stephanie Meyer, and her band of really good looking teenage vampires and the pathetic little human girl who loves them. It’s like soft-core teenage book porn. Pure pleasure, if not the real deal. It took me a few weeks to read the entire saga. After that, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, a writer I would recommend to anyone, and a book that I’ve been cramming down the throats of every single person I’ve ever met ever -- a little higher on the scale of "good," but still juicy enough for beach reading. Then, while doing some Christmas shopping, I happened upon David Sedaris’ latest book, When You are Engulfed in Flames for 20 percent off and figured why not, personal essays have always been a favorite genre of mine. Now, I’m nearly a third of the way through the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Next on the list Olive Kitteridge (which I know nothing about, but some woman on NPR was so convincing I texted myself the name of the book while I was driving so not to forget it) and The Host – I figure I’ll give Meyer’s first adult shot a chance because… well, hell, it’s not like I’ve got anything else to do.

If you’ve got a suggestion of a book that will keep me sitting in the same place for – I don’t know – about the same amount of time it takes me to do a 20 mile training run, please leave it in the comments.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

My New Desk and Other Stuff

I don’t know if you noticed this or not, but it’s January 1, 2009. That’s right folks… the season of weight loss commercials and overcrowding at the gym. But like any good old fashioned woman, I’m making some changes to commemorate another year lost to my bad habits.

First off, I moved my computer. Now, I have one of those adorable MacBooks – the kind that you can basically haul around your house so you can surf the internets at any given moment in time. I previously kept it in the room with MM’s obscenely large television. This meant, I would watch television and have my dinner while simultaneously typing away at the keyboard.

And this, is precisely the reason I decided to move it. To make myself choose… do I want to play Scramble on Facebook? Fine. Godspeed. But don’t do it will eating pasta, talking on the phone, watching the closed captioning scroll by on the television screen, and attempting to cuddle with MM. Ultimately it’s – let’s be honest – it’s a choice between watching television or playing on the computer, but at least this way, I won’t be multitasking my downtime.

Which brings me to my next change. You might want to sit down for this one… I chose a home office over a Garmin.

Huh? What? Are you speaking English? My ears must need a good cleaning.

Let me try this slower. I… chose… a home office… over… a… Garmin.

Why? Because, in reality where people can run without a GPS system strapped to their arm, I actually needed the desk, filing cabinet, and roll-y chair a heck of a lot more. So, I put the computer on the desk, put the whole “system” (Ikea no less) in the spare bedroom, and ta da! I have an office. Where I can sit and not loss bills or important documents while also purposefully searching the Facebooks and Googles.

Ultimately, this was about giving things a place. For two days, I ran around the house pulling out boxes and dismantling closets while reminding MM about my newest mantra – everything has a home. I’m tired of coats on the floor because we have no coat rack and papers piling up in the TV room because I have no filing system, mail being lost because I hid everything in a pile in the spare bedroom when we have company and I always, promptly, forget that I put it there.

My house is, at this very moment, orderly. There is a drawer for lost keys, and one for extra gym locks. I have files for everything from old college papers to my 401K paperwork from a previous job. And there’s a box – a huge one at that – filled with junk, sitting in the hallway, that one of these days is going to make the trip to Goodwill. Hopefully sooner rather than later.