Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 2 San Francisco

Cory's off with Adam and work, so I have the apartment to myself. This morning I walked to a corner grocer for a banana and chocolate soy milk. Later, I used Cory's block as a stair-master. His street inclines at a 45 degree angle and it's about 1/8 of a mile long. I put on my iPod and climbed the whole block 5 times. It took 20 minutes and I was dripping in sweat! Then I had a nice long shower and set out to explore.

I took the subway to the Civic Center figuring I could find something to eat near the theater. When I emerged from underground I was smack in the middle of a farmer's market in UN Square. I had fresh tamales for lunch. Mmmm. Then I wandered through the vendors killing time before the show.

Finally, it was time to see "Wicked." It's being staged in a great, beautiful, texturally-rich theater named The Orpheum. The show was amaztastic and fantagasming! Incredible music and costumes and sets and lights and on and on and on. If you're a fan of musicals, this one is NOT to be missed! You'll never watch "The Wizard of Oz" the same way again. :)

First Night in the Big City

Visiting Cory is always an adventure. I rolled into the Castro about 7 pm and was informed that we had dinner plans at 8. I can't recommend the Velvet Cantina in the Mission District enough. I met a guy who runs a non-profit that throws parties for charity. I met a guy who did the interior design for George Lucas' house. I met a guy who always wears gloves because he has a phobia of people touching his hands. And this was just the first 3 hours of my stay.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I don't put much stock in astrology, but I happen to like the guy who is in our weekly alternative paper. His horoscopes are always humorous, challenge me to try new thoughts on for size, and include homework. You can check him out at Free Will Astrology.

I want to share a recent horoscope of mine:

"I hope you will get more sleep in 2010. And eat better food, too. And embark on some regimen like meditation that will reduce your stress levels. In general, Sagittarius, I hope you will learn a lot more about what makes your body function at optimum levels, and I hope you will diligently apply what you learn. That doesn't mean that I think you should be an obsequiously well-behaved pillar of the community. On the contrary, what I'm envisioning is that by taking better care of yourself you will make yourself strong enough to run wilder and freer."

Indeed. Onward into 2010!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Best Christmas Ever

I won't bore you with all the details but this Christmas was the most satisfying that I've had since I was a kid. Family, friends, and a healthy attitude all came together in a miraculous way. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday as well and here's to a fantastic 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Suffering Is Optional

The past 48 hours have challenged me. I find myself dwelling on my reactions to other people and their behavior. I know that I can't change what is reality, yet I let myself get so upset. Why can I not accept reality and move on?

I find myself thinking things like, this person doesn't love me enough, that person wants too much from me, this person is selfish. The reality is that I don't know what motivates any of these people or what they want. It's my responses to their behavior that is causing my suffering. It's like the left side of my brain ignores the rational right side and weaves these elaborate tales of fear and anger. The knowledge that I'm thinking irrationally does not seem to give me the power to stop it.

"We are disturbed not by what happens to us, but by our thoughts about what happens." Epictetus

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Solstice 5k

Mission accomplished: I finished my first 5k. This is me at about 15 minutes before the start wearing my official race shirt. Notice the blue sky above. The race was scheduled to coincide with sunset. We'd start in the day and end at night. About 5 minutes after the gun went off, it started pouring cold rain. Oh well, too late to back out. I finished completely soaking wet, but very hot, in total darkness.

I knew I couldn't run the whole thing, so my strategy was to run for 2 minutes and walk for 2 minutes. This worked very well and I finished in 46:15. That's an average of 14:48 per mile; a huge improvement over the 16 minute miles I've been jogging. My next goal is to get under 45 minutes and hopefully eliminate the walking.

As a bonus incentive to sign up for another race, I won 3rd place for my division, Women 35-39. What? Me? A ribbon? Shut up!

Guess I was lucky that only 2 other women were in my division!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Religious Conversion

I have found something that has transformed my life. If you had told me that there was a form of exercising that is brutally hard AND fun at the same time, I would have called you a liar. That was before I tried Crossfit. In one workout, I became a devoted follower.

It's a high intensity workout that combines cardio, weight resistance, and competition with yourself. You can do the workouts on your own, but I'm in love with this group that does it in a big industrial garage that they've converted into a gym. They call it The Box, and it's filled with kettle bells, jump boxes, pull-up bars, and mats. Basically, you go in and your coach gives you a series of movements to do i.e. squats, push-ups, sit-ups. Then you do it as hard and as fast as you can for as many rounds as you can. The routine changes every day because the variety builds total body fitness. A key component is that you track your progress and compete with yourself. It's really hard to explain what it is. Check out this website if you want to learn more:

Anyway, The Box feels like an old-timey (I can't believe I just used that phrase) boxing gym. It's just a bunch of friends hanging out, working on whatever skills they need to work on, helping each other out, and providing lots and lots of encouragement. I went to a group session yesterday where we divided up into teams and competed with each other. The series was hard and it kicked my ass. But it was the most fun I've had in years. It was absolutely the ONLY time I've ever had fun while working out. I'm totally hooked even though I feel like I was hit by a car today.

Oh yeah, and I've got my first race this afternoon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3 days...

There are 2 schools of thought on how to do weight training. The first says use a light weight for a bunch of repetitions. The seconds says to use the heaviest weight you can lift for only 8-10 repetitions. I've been using the first method, but decided I wanted to try the second method to see what that felt like. On Tuesday I went to the gym and did all my usual moves but with much higher weights. It definitely worked; I was pretty sore all over afterward. Then the weirdest thing happened. That night, I couldn't stop sneezing, my nose and eyes were running, and I had a mild sore throat. I figured I was coming down with a cold and with the race in just a few days! Crap!

I went for a massage for my sore muscles the next day and the massage therapist told me it wasn't a cold. Just like getting a deep massage releases toxins that have been stored in your muscle tissue, the heavy lifting breaks down muscle fibers and dumps stored toxins into the body. My body was producing histamine in response to the toxins. That's why you're supposed to drink a ton of water after a massage, to wash the toxins out. The massage therapist theorized that if I drank a bunch of water it would wash out my system and eliminate the allergy-like symptoms, which in fact seems to be the case.

So wadda you know, I'm allergic to power lifting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Good things come to those who wait. I was offered a paid internship with the professor I was telling you about in October. This is in the department where I am applying to the doctorate program. I can't tell you how happy am I about this. I had some serious internal doubts about my ability to get accepted into a PhD program without a foot in the door. I believe this internship within the department will give me a big advantage over other applicants. January is going to be my month to really focus on this process. I need to do stellar in the GRE and write a killer paper. Luckily, it's an argumentative essay and nobody argues like me.

Now I'm going to go pump iron; and by 'iron' I mean 15 lb. dumbbells that are powder blue.

Monday, December 14, 2009

6 Days...

My first race is this coming Sunday, The Winter Solstice 5k. Today was the start of week 9 for my running plan. I went back to the track and jogged for two miles, no walking. My time was 31:40. So hey, I shaved 10 seconds off of my mile pace! :D

Friday, December 11, 2009

No Passengers On My Plane

Wealthy people pay a lot of money to do stuff by themselves, right? Michael Jackson once paid a supermarket to stay open in the middle of the night so that he could go grocery shopping alone. I've decided that I'm going to look at all the stuff I do alone as an elite privilege. I don't have to suffer fools talking to me during a movie. I go to the movies alone! I'm living the life that people actually pay extra for.

So I decided that I am going to go to San Francisco for New Year's and will likely spend most of the time alone, but I'm ok with that. I'm going to go see "Wicked," which is thrilling to a musical freak like me. On New Year's Day, I'm going to run a race. I figure I could hang out by myself in Eugene or hang out by myself in a big city with lots of new things to see and do. Cory's kind enough to let me crash on his couch whether he's around or not, so that's a pretty sweet deal. Might as well get out of my routine surroundings, huh?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Valuable Tip

No matter how far you're behind with laundry, never wear an underwire bra to run. There will be blood.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

At A Loss For Words...

I've been keeping up with the program. Everything is going well. My moods are still quite elevated. But for some reason I've lost the motivation to write anything for this blog. It's getting pretty sporadic as you can see. I feel like I have a LOT on my mind but no desire to process it through writing; if that makes any sense. In addition to that general ennui, I'm realizing that having this journey be public is problematic. I could write a whole blog about my current emotional wrestling with Robert, but I know he's reading it. I could write a ton about my canceled trip to San Francisco but I don't want Cory to take it personally. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm running out of things to talk about with everyone.

Except, I'm sure that's not true. I think I'm just in a mental tangle right now and don't have the energy to sort it out and then diplomatically write about it without offending anyone.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

You Say It's Your Birthday?

Today I am 36. Why is it that with each passing birthday we fall deeper into brooding? I don’t remember celebrating my 20th with deep thought. At any rate, I am pensive today. I’m thinking about the life that I was convinced that I would be enjoying in my 30s when I was 15. Positive that I was going to be a renegade filmmaker, I knew that I would be a celebrity who eschewed the red carpet gowns for jeans and a leather jacket, riding my Harley to interviews. I fantasized that I would travel the world with a handsome hero, the Indiana to my Marion. And when at home, in my bungalow right on the Pacific, I would spend my free time writing my next hit while waiting for the peak surfing waves.

Obviously, I made some different choices along the way. I can’t say that I regret not having that life. I’m satisfied with where I am for the moment, although I do still have my fantasies of what life is supposed to look like. The dreams have just been modified. I still want to live in my home state of California or at least somewhere where the sun always shines. I still want to travel the world but I’ll settle for being a visiting professor instead of premiering at Caan. I still want Indiana or a close approximation. Now it’s just a matter of biding my time productively until the kids are grown and I can get the hell outta here.

Last year I was really angry about my birthday because my parents moved it and did some things I didn’t want to do in order to appease Erin. Robert gave me excellent advice and told me to go do what I wanted to do alone. I packed up the kids and some lunches and we climbed the local butte. I had never been to the top before. It was spectacular and we ate our lunches in the sun, looking out at the whole valley. It rejuvenated me enough to see me through the family nightmare that night.

This year, they actually asked me what I wanted to do and I was feeling pretty excited. That is until Dad hijacked the plans behind my back and invited my sister, again! So once more, I’m dreading my own fucking party. Why would he think that inviting a bipolar, alcoholic, bulimic mess to a night out with the kids was a good idea? God, I hate that girl! I never finished telling the story about Erin. I gotta face writing that one day soon…

Sigh. Not today. Today is my birthday. I’m taking care of myself through diet and exercise. I’m moving forward in a new direction.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Non-Violence is Overrated

I think I'm getting off the non-violent communication bandwagon. I've been using it for years to no avail. For those of you who are not familiar, NVC is a whole movement with a website, books, and seminars based on this method of communicating with others. Essentially it's a way of telling someone you're upset with them without attacking them. I'm going to boil it down to the basic steps here; my apologies to the originators.

In step 1, you describe the other person's factual behavior without assigning any interpretation to their reasoning or motivation. "You ordered me a steak." In step 2, you describe how that behavior made you feel using "I" statements, again not interpreting what the other person was feeling or attempting to communicate. "I feel hurt and ignored when you order for me. I feel like my choices are not important." In step 3, you ask for the behavior you want in the future. "I would be grateful if you would not order for me in the future." Again, I'm really oversimplifying, but you get the idea. It's about describing the impact of someone's behavior instead of attacking the why behind their behavior, and then clearly asking for what behavior you would like in the future.

I was first "trained" in this concept 10 years ago at a seminar. Later, in my Montessori training, it was reinforced that NVC is a powerful tool in peace education. I've used it, although I admit, not consistently. Here's my question? Does it ever actually work? Has anyone out there actually experienced success with NVC? It does not work for me! Nobody actually does what I plainly request for them to do and they get defensive anyway. I used to think that was because I was surrounded by un-enlightened people. Then for a while I was convinced that I'm too much of a hot head to do it correctly. Now I'm starting to believe the whole thing is a crock. It doesn't actually improve relationships or bring about the behavior that you need from other people. I think it might just be a way for educated liberals to feel superior to others. "Oh, well, he's a boorish neanderthal. I am an enlightened being who speaks non-violently."

Thoughts? Tell me your thoughts, assholes! ;)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holy Snowballs!

It is definitely winter in Eugene. This morning when I stepped out of my little house everything was frozen. My heart immediately sank because running outside has been painful so far and it hasn't been nearly this cold yet. My core gets really hot, so I'm uncomfortable in jackets or any heavy sweatshirts. Meanwhile, my hands and forearms are freezing because all of the blood is going to my legs. Oh, and my poor little ears; they get really cold too. Ugh. I knew that a run today was going to be seriously painful.

So, I went to the sporting goods store instead. I bought some thin, thermal gloves, some compression sleeves for my forearms, and some ear warmers. Then I came home and put all of that on, plus a thermal shirt and running tights that I had bought earlier but not yet tried. I was completely decked out and quite toasty warm, INSIDE the house. Then I took a deep breath, jumped outside, and went running anyway.

About a third of the way into the run, my brain started complaining about what a pain in the ass this is. It's hard; it's cold; it's too much effort to get going. Then I started thinking about that marathon in 7 months and I realized that I'm going to have to get up and do this 4 days a week at least until then. Then I started thinking about how crappy I felt before I started exercising and realized that if I want to stay fit and reap the rewards, I'm going to have to get up and do this 4 days a week for the REST OF MY LIFE. Nothing drains your motivation faster than picturing 50 years of this crap!

About that time I saw a woman up ahead running toward me. She looked great. She was moving pretty fast and didn't look like she was laboring at all. I started wondering how old she was, how fast she was going, what kind of shoes was she wearing, and where did she get all the cool athlete clothes. She looked like a pro. There I was, waddling toward her, just a beginner. I was simultaneously jealous, irritated, and spurred to keep going. As she passed me she flashed a big smile and said, "Good for you."

Hell yeah.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

So Far, So Good

Things are continuing to improve in all areas of my life. Today I went to the gym and did the same elliptical machine program that I attempted weeks ago. The first time I managed to gasp my way through 20 minutes with my heart rate in the 170s. Today, I did the whole 30 minute program and my heart rate was in the 150s. That's a big improvement in 6 weeks of exercising. The eating plan is getting easier and easier as I keep making better choices. I don't crave things that I used to. I'm averaging about a 1.5 pound loss each week. My mood has been the most dramatic improvement. I just don't get cranky or angry like I used to. This has impacted all of my relationships for the better. At least, it's better for me. I can't speak for the people who are not able to push me around as easily. :)

I'm turning 36 on Sunday and for the first time, maybe ever, I'm not feeling old and decrepit. If anything, I feel like I'm taking years off!