Wednesday, June 29, 2011

World of Wonder: Mexico

I don't know if I'm obsessed with Mexico right now because I just finished Born to Run and can't think of anything cooler than being capable of running around northern Mexican cliffs,* or if it's because everyone and their mother has been to the Caribbean and liked it way more than I do, or what.  I just really, really want to sit around on some problematic beach at some problematic resort and not worry about paying for drinks or doing anything except hiking some ruins and getting tan.  There.  I said it.  I just want to be normal for a few days.

And, normal, to me, right now, apparently, is being in Mexico.  Were I there now, I would be drinking a margarita, eating something spicy and delicious, looking at art, hiking those ruins, swimming, and sunbathing.  I don't know if it will actually happen come December (as I am tentatively hoping it will), and I actually sort of believe it won't, but either way, at this moment, it all just sounds really lovely.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gratituesday: Equality

Like almost everyone I know, I'm so proud New York has finally approved gay marriage.  I have a lot of thoughts on the issue, but I'm not really sure how to phrase them all, so I'll just say that I'm deeply grateful to be in this place, at this time, and leave you with a really lovely statement that's been floating around APW a lot lately:

“Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a ‘civil right’. Without the right to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience.”

- Margaret Marshall, Massachusetts Supreme Court, 2003

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Unplanned

So, I went into this weekend with only one expectation: to work on a presentation for work.  Needless to say, that didn't get done.  So it goes.  The weekend was far from a bust, though, and on Friday, I somehow miraculously made it home in time to apply for an Enhanced Driver's License.  So, now, not only will I be able to get into bars again, I'll also be able to get into Canada and Mexico without a passport.  Provided I arrive there by land or sea.  SCORE!

Given my fabulous new eligibility to drive again, I spent Saturday morning waiting for my car to be inspected (and then to get new tires and a new alignment).  This was also less painful than it sounds, since I spent a good portion of the waiting time eating a grilled blueberry muffin at the diner next door, and the rest of the time reading Born to Run, which I'm enjoying immensely.  Once I made it home, Roger, Dave and I wandered over to a neighbor's tag sale, where I purchased a set of 12 Spode Christmas Tree mugs and tea plates, with an ashtray, creamer, sugar bowl, and candlesticks for $30, because I thought it matched my parents' Nikko set.  It didn't, and after thinking back on theirs and comparing them, I actually think their set is much more elegant. Still, I decided to put aside childish dreams of a Tiffany set (which I, um, actually think is sort of ugly) and keep the Spode ones for myself and the Anglophile that resides in my heart. When I looked up the set, it turns out that if they were all bought individually, they would have cost almost $600.  I'm pretty happy with the deal.  Basically, I am a big dork and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about place settings.  But, if it makes you feel better, please know that I considered putting up pictures of all three of these settings and decided to spare you.  You're welcome.  Yes.

After this, I went for a five-mile run, and felt amazing.  I'm paying for it now in sore legs, but while I was doing it, everything felt great.  It gives me a little more hope for the race I'm running on July 4th.  I'd only planned to be out for a little while, so by the time I got back, we only had 20 minutes before we had to leave to meet up for lunch with Rachel.  Being able to take a shower and get ready in that time was almost as much of a feat as the run was, but we made it, and ate way, way too much Chili's.  I spent the rest of the afternoon doing what felt like endless loads of laundry and reading (the book is seriously good), before making some zucchini for dinner.  Dinner was followed by Roger making a giant butter cookie (see below for the recipe), and all of us eating it with blueberry port.  Yes, I had a good work out, but I also consumed my weight in food.  Sigh.

Sunday was decidedly less adventurous, consisting mainly of a one-mile run, folding those never-ending loads of laundry, and eating and reading even more, along with the tiniest bit of work and some planning for our annual Independence Day barbecue.  My contributions?  Macaroni & cheese, earl grey iced tea, and basil lemonade.  Roger's contribution?  Vodka gummy bears.  Perfect.

One Giant Butter Cookie

1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon
1/4 milk
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

Preheat over to 375° F.  Cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in vanilla and egg until well-blended, adding in dry ingredients and then milk to create a sticky consistency before mixing in the crushed walnuts.  Now comes the messy part.  Scoop everything onto a cookie sheet and shape into something resembling a giant cookie.  Try to make it the same thickness all around.  Bake until browned on the edges and cooked through in the middle, about 15 minutes.  When just barely cooled, break off little pieces and enjoy with strawberry jam and blueberry port.

Friday, June 24, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.
Next week, I'll be back here for realz.  With more than just silly phone pictures of Roger and me.  For now, just enjoy what I find to be semi-hilarious, semi-awesome pictures of us pretending to be models.

Friday, June 17, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gratituesday: Commuting

I have a long commute.  Really long. It's nearly two hours each way, more or less, which means that I leave the house at around 6:30am and don't return until around 6:30pm, which leads to the feeling that my workday is about four hours longer than it actually is.  To add insult to injury, I pay about $450 a month for the pleasure of commuting (AKA: driving a car that doesn't work in the snow to a parking spot that is way too tight to get on a train that is always packed to take a ten block walk breathing in air that smells like urine) for four hours a day.  And today, June 14th, marks exactly one year that I've been doing it, every single weekday, in and out.

Okay.  I hope that set the scene for you.  Because here is the thing: I actually like it.  Sure, there are problems with it (um, read above?), but overall, it's not so bad.  I moved back up here knowing full well how long it takes to get to the city, and I did it anyway.  Living up here, having the wherewithal to write and make decisions and be a normal, productive person outside of work, has been 100% worth it, and I wouldn't change the past year for anything.  I know now what my parents and thousands of MetroNorth patrons before me knew: having access to both a great job in an amazing city with unlimited cultural offerings and the ability to live in a quiet area with nice people and deer & turkeys in the backyard, well, that makes the whole long commute thing worth it.

It's also more than just that.  The commute itself isn't so bad.  Even though it takes about twice as long as my commute from Brooklyn did, it is a million times more pleasant.  I drive my (amazingly cool convertible) car to the station, and then sit down for a full 54 minutes, free to read, write, knit or fiddle with my phone as I please.  I've posted thousands of twitter updates, read dozens of books, and finished knitting one entire sweater on that train.  I know a lot of busy people read this blog, so they can understand when I say that this time is absolutely vital to my sanity.  I'm good at time management, and so it's nice to have the extra time if I'm really pressed for an article or need to get some last-minute work done before the day starts, but really, it's the everyday quietude of the train that has become essential to my personal productivity and general happiness.  Now that Roger commutes in with me most mornings, it's also a time for us to regroup, chat about our plans for the day or for life, and generally get reacquainted with each other.  And then, of course, I come into the city through the greatest entrance on earth: Grand Central Station.  Perfect. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Droid!

Oh man, guys. I have not really raised my productivity level recently, but I have been exhausted to the max.  I would not be surprised if this is another 2-post week, so apologies in advance.  I think it's all the running that's tiring me out.  Uh huh.*  Friday, I nearly made my 15-mile a week goal (got to 14, but also walked 3 miles, so that must count for something) on an afternoon run with Dave.  We went out with Cece to see Super 8 that evening, and it was really great.  I almost never see movies, and even less often see movies in theatres, so I'm always a little taken in by them, but I just felt surrounded by this one.  Cece thought it was a little too scary, but I found it to be charming with just the right amount of edge.  Plus, J.J. Abrams directed it.  Sarah Lawrence love!

Saturday, partially because I didn't eat much of anything on Friday, I awoke to discover I'd lost five pounds since the race.  I've said before that I don't love counting pounds and calories and miles, but it's always nice to not feel bad about a number on a scale.  Roger, Dave and I went to the farmer's market to get some vegetables, and then met up with my parents to buy a new cell phone.  I decided on the Droid Charge, which I love wholly and completely.  There are only two things I miss about my Blackberry: 1. BBMing (and, subsequently, knowing exactly when Roger has read a text message from me) and 2. A real keyboard.  It's important for me to figure out how to use a touch-screen, because it's the way of the future, and all the nice things about the phone (an 8-megapixel camera! g-chat capabilities! angry birds!) more than make up for it.  I am genuinely excited for all the possibilities for microblogging on the train, especially south of Tarrytown, where I get 4G access.  That evening, we met Cece to get Thai food for dinner, and I took this pretty terrible photo:

Sunday began well enough, with a 3.5 mile run, but quickly descended into crankiness about ... everything.  Just one of those days.  I had my nails done, did some yoga, ate some Chinese, and tried generally to make it better, but overall, by 10pm, it was time for an episode of M*A*S*H and some sleep.  And so it was.

*I guess all the blogs on my reader intersect at me, so of course there will be similarities, but lately it's been uncanny. I've been so amazed at how many people (namely APWers) have recently started running.  Go all of us!  Also, how many people are 22-24 weeks pregnant.  Go them!

Friday, June 10, 2011

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life List Accomplished: Run in a Race

Sorry for the lack of posting all of last week.  I was sort of half-busy with barbecues and the long weekend, but mostly I was just existing.  Anyway, at least we can start off this week with an accomplishment from my latest weekend wanderings!

I ran in a race on Saturday.

Pre-Race Excitement!

I don't really know how it happened, except that Shelby told me I should, and then showed me how to run without wanting to die (the secret? Run really, really slowly.), and then all of a sudden, I found myself in Buca di Beppo, carbo-loading with Shelby and April the day before running in the Freihofer's 33rd Annual Run for Women.  This was a terrible idea, because I'd already had a too-big lunch at Chat n' Chew with Michelle from Indiana on her first trip to New York.  Here is a running tip for you: don't eat too much the day before.  You will not feel good.  But, I really enjoyed my meals with all the great ladies, so I don't totally regret it.

More than 4000 women ran in the race
When I woke up on Saturday, I knew I'd made a mistake eating so much, and I was still gross and full-feeling.  I figured I had three more hours before the race to feel a little better, and it did help as I waited with  Shelby, along with her mother and boyfriend, for the race to begin.  The organization was great: it was so easy to get our bibs and to my joy, we arrived in time to receive a free t-shirt, plus Freihofer's cookies and bread.  We had some free health tests done (not surprisingly, I was a little heavier than normal, but everything seemed to be in fairly good working order), and walked around for a bit before lining up with our friends April and Maritza.

It was a great feeling of anticipation as we moved slowly to the start line.  The announcer had first-timers (like myself) cheer, then people who had already run the race, and before I knew it, we were at the start line, and running up what I believed was our only hill of the race.  (Kristin's Running Tip #2 - look over the race route before you do it.)  I knew that we would start with a race, and then thought that the route would flatten out in the park, before heading into a decline to the finish line.  Not quite true - there were a few other hills in the park, also.  So, I pushed full-throttle up the hill, staying with April and Shelby the whole way to the park.  Once I hit the second hill in the park, I got a side stitch (the bane of my very short running career to this point), and at about 1.5 miles, I headed over to the side to walk it off for a minute or two, losing Shelby in the process.  After working it out a little bit, I went on running, and made it to the finish without stopping again, coming in at 33 minutes, 5 seconds, which put me at 269 of 470 in my age group.  We celebrated by wearing our matching race shirts to Dinosaur BBQ, which was amazing and delicious as always.
Shelby's Cheerleaders: Mike & Linsey

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed with my time.  During training (admittedly on flatter ground), I'd been running at just about that time, and I was hoping that the energy from the race would let me get down to 30 minutes.  Still, I wasn't counting on those hills, or eating enough to give myself a side stitch, so with those two things combined, I'm pretty impressed at the time.  And, the overall experience was just amazing.  I'm really hooked on running now, which is something I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought would be true.  I hated (HATED!) running when I was younger, and even when I started to get more into fitness in college, running was never my favorite activity.  Now, though, it's so easy, and I've really enjoyed getting outside more often.
Plus, the race experience was such fun.  I'm hoping to do another race, this time an 8-mile run around our town lake, on July 4th.  I'm not sure if that's going to be too much running for me in too-short a time, so I'm just going to train with that in mind, and if it works out, awesome, but I'm not going to hurt myself to make it.  I'm also planning to stop eating out so often (since I really think that was part of my undoing in this race, and just in my health goals in general), and amp up the vegetables a little.  I'll keep you posted with my progress!