Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blast from the Past: Blond Ambition

"Blast from the Past" is where I share photos from my past that hopefully explain some of my odd behaviors.  Or at least illustrate how far I've come in my 30 years.

Mr. Fixit's son's wedding.  

I've been a brunette most of my life, but like all women I enjoy a change and I figure, what's easier to change then your hair?  You can perm it, color it, cut it, and if it sucks it'll grow out.  So, the summer after my freshman year in college I thought I would go SHORT and BLONDE.  I had images of chic pixie-like models in my head with wicked cheek bones and a punky fairy look.  As you can see, I am not quite chic, pixie like, or blessed with wicked cheek bones.  This was about as feminine as I could get it to look.  It did look pretty punk once I started getting roots.  But overall I knew this look would not work for me when I only got hit on by girls that summer.  Often very cute girls, but still.... not my team.

Smarty, me, and Face as bridesmaids. This is the reception. We all hated the dress. Sorry, C, we still love you.

Since I rarely learn from my mistakes, I decided to go blond again.  This time I was living in CT with my cousins and I *knew* it would be different!  I would look glamorous!  And tan, yeah, maybe that!  Why?  Because my hair was *long*.  Derp.  wrong answer.  I didn't look hideous, but I did look a bit like a tragic romance novel heroin suffering from consumption.



Monday, March 28, 2011

Self Limitations- When They're a Good Thing

Face has recently decided to limit her caffeine intake, which comes primarily through Coca Cola.  She loves the damn stuff, and recently confided in me that it's been harder to limit herself to 1 coke a day than it would be to limit her drinking.  I'm really proud of her, and while limiting myself to one coke, or soda of any kind, per day would be easy (I probably drink 1-2 a month on average), I balked at the thought of limiting myself to 1 drink a day.

Oh god, I BALKED at limiting my drinking to ONE. DRINK. PER. DAY.  That's scary.  To be fair, I balk at the idea of MOST limitations, but still... It's not like I drink every day, though if I'm going to be honest and lay the cards on the table, I do drink most days.  I don't always drink to intoxication, though, again, 2-3 times a week I will get to between lightly buzzed and drunk.  I've equated alcohol with rewards.  I've used alcohol to get to sleep at night and to shut my brain up.

I think what I'm saying here is, I like drinking.  I haven't considered it out of control because I always felt I was in control.  Until I balked at the idea of limitation.  Perhaps I'm not as in control as I thought?  And we know how I feel about not being in control.  (Bad, just in case you forgot.)

So I pledged to Face that, in fidelity with her trial with caffeine, I would limit myself to 1 drink per day.  Of course I won't be perfect at this, and of course there will be days that I will have no drinks.  Hell, Wednesday I'm going to a wine tasting- STRIKE ONE!  But the idea is to regain control and enable discipline over my choices.

Ultimately I'm more comfortable making this about working on my self-discipline that making this about drinking.  Similar to my pledges to save, train, and sew, I have declared I will Do Something, and will hopefully achieve it with some amount of success (as long as it's more than the sewing challenge we're in business).  In order to increase the likelihood of my success, I've devised a 6 week timeline to the challenge.  What happens in 6 weeks?  Who knows- have to get there first.

Benefits will include:

  • Weight loss- 12 oz of decent beer has between 140-250 calories per 12 oz bottle.  I don't drink that light crap, so if I have 3 beers we're looking at the equivalent of a large meal.  Add an ACTUAL meal, or even more beers, and all of a sudden I'm consuming 150% of my daily caloric requirement.  No wonder I still get chub-rub when I run....
  • Financial savings- Booze certainly hikes up the cost of a restaurant or grocery bill.  If I'm consuming less, then I'm spending less, and I have more money.  YAY!
  • Increased health- yay for livers working blah-dee-blah-blah.  Probably won't fall down/run into things as much if I'm sober more often.  Of course I often fall down/run into things when I sober as a judge, so....
  • Better decision making- probably won't choose to eat that pizza, drunk that dial, post that poorly spelled facebook message, pick that ill-advised fight, etc.  And if I DO make a bad decision, at least I can't squirm out from under the thumb of responsibility by blaming on the a-a-a-a-alcohol.
  • Probably some other stuff.... hopefully some other stuff....  More booze for the rest of you?

Even listing all these benefits, I know this is going to be tough.  I hate admitting that because I don't think I'm a drunk, but I do think I need to take a step back.  I'm not advocating teetotaling, and honestly I'd never want to give it up 100%.  But I do need to declare my intentions to the public and be held accountable.


or just hold me- I'm good with that too.  :-)

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Growing Up Is Hard to Do

I made the difficult, if responsible, decision to NOT purchase a new car this spring.

Why?  After I put you all through the mind-numbing car research posts?  The wishing and hoping?  The bitching about my current car?  As much as I would like a new car, the security of having no consumer debt and a cushion of savings seems WAY sweeter than being able to hook my mp3 player up directly to my car's sound system and have 10 cup holders.

I looked at my credit card balance the other day and noted that with my current payment schedule I would be payed off in one or two months- right on time with the "car" schedule.  This frees up $300 or more a month to throw at other debts, savings, or once-a-year expenses (June is registration and inspection month...)

So, as much as I want a new car, none of the vehicles I looked at excited me more than seeing the end of my consumer debt.  I'm even excited to amp up my savings!  This is such an old-fogey decision, I know, but I'm coming to peace with it.

Of course, now I have to actually SAVE and not spend this money on things like shoes, new clothes, and top-shelf gin.  Maybe I'm not growing up as fast as I think.....


Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Am a Crafty Girl

I started a sewing challenge with my girl Teen when she got a sewing machine for Christmas.  I, too, have a sewing machine and use it WAY TOO rarely.  We wanted to start with an easy but useful project: a pillow.

What's in a pillow? (besides stuffing)  It's four seams at the same length with a 90 degree angle and some shite stuffed inside 'till it's comfy.  But if you're *making* it, it's gotta look cute and not crafty.  I have two pillows that are hand made and look crafty, but maaayyyybeee not so cute....  They were purchased at a free-trade market; the big one is super comfy and the little one is actually a quillo (think Poppel but a pillow/quilt combo) hand made by Amish peoples.  And while they're superbly made, they're just not really my style.

I wanted something that went with my mint-green and wicker sectional, was comfy, looked modern, and was cheap.  Not as easy as I thought.  I used the fabric from an oversized Ikea pillow I purchased at least 6 years ago (white velvet-like fabric).  It was slightly stained, and even after a bleach wash looked a little worse for wear, but it was free.  I purchased a 15" pillow form from Micheal's with a 50% off coupon for about $6.  I deconstructed a skirt with embroidered birds and flowers to appliqué to the pillow only to find that it all looked HORRID together.  This is when the project stalled.  I had a white velvet case sewn on 3 sides with some stains...

Teen had finished her project after finding some great printed fabrics (Ikea, I think).  Her two pillows looked lovely and I was totally jealous.  Then stuff happened (like the Luau) and I had to put my sewing machine out of sight, therefor putting it out of mind.  I had found a craft website who had dedicated February as Pillow Month.  The inspiration was nice, but it's a lot of quilting which is a bit above my project commitment level.  I still had my heart set on appliqué, though.  I wanted a peacock, or at least a bird, with colors that coordinated but maybe not matched, and perhaps some texture.

Eventually I settled on the cheapest of all fabrics: felt.  At 29cents for an 8 1/2"x11" sheet, felt in all colors is cheap and readily available.  I also purchased some iron-on fabric adhesive to make my life even easier.  I researched modern shaped birds that are, admittedly, ubiquitous.  I designed a little birdie based on a few things I saw, put in about an hour or two of work, and my three-seamed square turned in to a pillow before my eyes.

I made it to go with my mint-green couch, but with the paisley-textured felt of the body, it REALLY works with the blue mini-chairs I acquired when Pocket moved to RI.

It feels great to finish this project, and I'm looking forward to the next.  I really don't mind if it takes me a month or two to finish it as long as it turns out as nice.  :-)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blast from the Past: Drinking Problem?

"Blast from the Past" is where I share photos from my past that hopefully explain some of my odd behaviors.  Or at least illustrate how far I've come in my 30 years.

Damn my hair is long...  

This is me around 10 years old on the co-ed rec soccer team in NJ where I grew up.  See the boy in the picture?  He's drinking out of a sports water bottle.  What am I drinking out of?  A Rubber-maid cocktail shaker with a beer coozy.  Thanks, parents.  No, that's not an Aubin Margarita in there, though the nasty "Citrus Gatorade" flavor (which they've since taken off the market) is about the same color.

All parental fails aside, this was actually a really great vessel for sports.  The top came off so I could put plenty of ice cubes in, the spout was wide enough to get big gulps without dribbling all over the place, and it had a cover that was easy to open and close.  It probably helped that I didn't recognize this as an cocktail shaker until about 7 years later.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Peak Snowshoe Race

This was my first Peak race and my first snowshoe race, but having visited Pittsfield numerous times, drank to silliness with the RD at Sherpa’s wedding, and hanging with Team Robert, I felt like an old pro.  I knew, or at least knew OF, almost a dozen other folks at the starting line.

The night before we had convinced (see: roped, connived, contrived, manipulated) Sherpa into staying the night in our cozy dwellings generously offered by the Strongs while they were in Mexico and doing at least one more loop with us.  I was the only one signed up for the 6.5 mile "fun run" while My Runner, Taps, and Puma were all signed up for the marathon.  My Runner's Pops and Bro showed in time for registration and signed up for the half-marathon.  We had a great Team Robert showing.

The next morning came early for me.  I'm slow to get ready.  I have my pace, and I can't seem to step it up.  So rather than keep people waiting I set my alarm 15 min earlier than everyone else.  This seems to have worked as I had all my gear prepped, including shit I had forgotten the night before, I was dressed, washed, packed, "bathroomed," and heat-warmered by the time we had planned to leave.

We packed in to two cars and started the 5 minute commute to downtown Pittsfield to pick up our registration.  We met Pop and Bro Robert while at the general store picking up our numbers.  I was happy to see them as we thought they might not show till well after the start (Pops is a volunteer firefighter and his hours are wonky).  Sherpa, already registered for his 100 mile race that started the day before at noon, chatted up the other runners eating breakfast.  He's a Peak veteran, and a major proponent of their work.

We head to the start with So. Much. Time. to kill.  I'm going crazy.  I kina hafta pee, but I'm not willing to leave the start line with less than 10 minutes to go.  This will come back to haunt me. 

Sherpa tells me he's gonna drag me up the mountain.  After hearing the trail is 4 miles up 2 miles down, I believe him.  I remember climbing this mountain at the Holidays are Over Party weekend- it's effing STEEP.  And other than kickboxing and hockey my training has been... wait, what's training again?  We vaguely hear Andy the RD tell us to line up, and I move to the back.  There are a TON of college aged kids in costumes.  I'm way too envious of the chick in silver leggings, a pink tank tunic, and an even pinker fishnet overshirt.  It looks like something my Gem doll wore.  She's ten years younger than me.  I picture how I’d look in that getup and I feel old.  (Later I pass her skinny slow ass while she's gasping and I feel inordinately superior.  Funny how that works.)

The course isn't easy.  I recognize the first few miles, but I'm moving slow.  The whole of team Robert is ahead of me: My runner, Pops, Bro, and Taps are moving in a group with a few ultra vets.  Puma and I leap frog up a few hills, but Sherpa is way back, hanging with folks he hasn't talked to and nursing wounds and pains from the marathon he ran night before.  I pause on "The Stairs" (a switch back trail that snakes up the side of the mountain) for a while waiting for Sherpa.  I finally saw him, but was getting chilled and was unwilling to wait.  Figured he was so much stronger than me that he would overtake me on the many climbs ahead.

The climbs were *tough*; I felt weak.  Still, I was having fun watching all the college aged kids around me in their groups having fun and encouraging each other.  What a great moment.  I came to a portion of the trail with some lookouts over other peaks and valleys of the area.  It was LOVELY and I wish I had a camera though it would not pick up the beauty.  I decided to real in Puma to pick up the pace.

And catch her I do.  Not without some effort, mind you.  I could see her on the switch backs and called out to her.  I could even see the Robert boys, though I knew that catching up to them would be a) unlikely, b)super draining, and c) useless as they were having guy-time and I would be an interloper.  I enjoyed my friendly hunt of Puma, who kept me moving hard even when I caught up to her.   We summit together, having seen Taps and My Runner coming down off the peak on the trail.  Pops and Bro are still there, and Puma takes off with them.  I wait for Sherpa.

Hanging out at the summit with the other runners and aid station volunteers, I am *desperately* searching for a place to pee.  The woods around the trails are pretty sparse, and I’m way to pee-shy to walk a foot off trail and drop trou.  The summit’s a clearing (lucky me) and of course no one was gonna drag a porta john up with a snowmobile.  There’s a small hut/cabin, and I take my chances, crouch behind it, and do whatcha do.  Ah the fun of outdoor sports.

Sherpa finally summits and in full Sherpa form.  He's the man everyone wants to talk to.  I get tired of waiting for him to quit socializing... and now I’m dragging HIM down the trail.  We WALK down hill... and walk, and walk... selfishly?  I start running, throwing a challenge to the Sherpa.  The run feels good for me, but I know Sherpa’s hurting. We walk and talk the rest of the way, others occasionally joining our conversation.  We had come to the mountain last night urging Sherpa to "come out with us for one more loop" and this was the only time any of us traveled with him.  Sherpa, and so many others, have given their time to me, running my race with me, for the pure pleasure of running with someone whose company you enjoy.  It was nice to finally return the favor.  

We get back to base in I don’t know how much time.  I mostly don’t care.  This was about the experience, not the time.  My Runner and Taps are back out on the course, Pops and Bro head out for their second of two laps.  Puma attempted another, but her shoes have torn up her feet and it's not possible.

Sherpa takes off before the Robert team comes back. He just misses My Runner and Taps coming off their second lap.  They're in good spirits and feeling great and I'm happy for them as they set out on lap 3.  It's a bit more before Bro comes loping off the trail.  At 15 he's got that gangly-horse look where he's all limbs and big feet and hands, but a baby face.  He comes in relatively easily- a testament to the Robert genes and his swim training, grabs some food and sits on a snow bank.  When I asked where Pops was, he stated, "I dunno... I left him. Maybe half an hour?"   Pops came in, as usual entertaining a group of runners with only slightly exaggerated stories, about 45 minutes later.  He seemed in good spirits, and that's all we are here for.

Pops, having worked the night before, decided to head out while he was still awake enough to drive.  The boys are maybe 2/3 up the mountain when it starts to rain.  We predict this may be the last lap, if the rain stays steady, but the weather refuses to be predictable: sleet, sun, clouds, wind, and more rain occur in the next hour and a half.

I look over the times while waiting for My Runner and Taps to come in.  I see that I’m 4th out of 4 in my age group, and note that the 1st place in the age group was only 20 minutes ahead of me.  I note with some satisfaction that if I had run this like a RACE, I would have won my age group.

The boys come in after third lap and eventually call it.  Happy with their experience, we all head home for showers then a trip to Long Trail where we celebrate our achievements.  Could I have run longer and suffered more?  Yes.  Did I want to?  No.  And I’m happy with my choice.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Kickin' A$$, Takin' Names

Last night I pulled a Rocky- I pulled out my old cottons, my gloves, and ten bucks and hit Tokyo Joe's dojo for some good old ass kicking. 
I *hope* someday to have a high kick like HilSwank.  Maybe sans the scrunchy socks...

Years ago Face and I went religiously to this cardo kickboxing class twice a week.  We went back a few times with Smarty and/or Poet before Face's wedding a year and a half ago.  Poet's been back in town from NYC for almost a year now, and trying to stay active in a very car-oriented society.  She's regularly invites me to Hot Yoga class, which is right behind the building I work in.  She's looking to do her 30 mile round trip commute on a bike in the spring.  And she's encouraging Face and I to go to kickboxing. 

I'm so happy she did.  I noted the leather on my gloves was stiffer than I remember- a side-effect of neglecting them.  It took a bit of wear to loosen them up, and it took a bit of class to loosen me up as well.  We worked on heavy bags with combinations.  At first I took it slow, trying to get the form back into my body, place my feet correctly, but by the end of class I was wailing on that bag.  ::Jab, cross, hook, (feet shuffle) kick::  Drop and do pushups for 60 seconds.  ::cross, hook, uppercut, elbow, roundhouse::  Drop and 50 side-crunches each side.

By the end of the 50 minutes we were sweaty and feeling great.  While my body felt like it was slipping into a pair of old jeans, Poet is still just learning the moves and form.  She did a great job, worked hard, and seemed to feel amazing.  I'm glad to see the supportive attitude that kept Face and I returning class after class remains at the dojo.  The teacher came around to each group to ensure we were using proper form AND trying our hardest.  

Right now I plan to go to kickboxing every Thursday.  It's fantastic cross-training for my hip and ankle, and pretty much the only upper-body workout that I do.  Bonus: kicking and punching feels GOOOOOOD.

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