Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bring on the popcorn!

I've decided to treat my life as if it were something happening to someone else. Really, when you step back and look at it, this situation is not without humor.

The background: My progress toward getting a house has been held up at the last minute by a bureaucratic mixup: the bank says they need my husband's signature on the loan or else they need documentation proving I'm unmarried.

The story so far: My HR department, who are wonderful, offered to fax or email a screenshot of my single status in their records. So I called the bank to get a fax number or email address. This time got a woman customer service representative.

Me: All I need is a contact number or address and I can resolve this situation today. There is a time-critical element to this issue; if I can't resolve it, I won't be able to close on the house.

Her: I'm sorry, I can't give you any contact information. Because of your last call, your loan application has been put into an expedited queue. You can't send any information in, but a customer service representative will call you to deal with your situation personally.

Me: When will they call me?

Her: In a couple of business days.

Me: So instead of resolving the situation today, you're saying that I will have to wait a couple of days so you can expedite it?

Her: Yes.

So far as I'm concerned, my life is some kind of dark comedy. I like to think that Julia Roberts is playing my role. Bring on the popcorn!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Okay, God, enough already?

No matter how bad things get, there's no reason why they shouldn't simply get worse.
-Douglas Adams

I thought I was all set. I finally asked the seller to provide a home warranty for a year. If he was that confident in his wiring and plumbing, I wanted him to back it in writing. And he did, so I figured everything was settled.

Nope. There's more house drama.

My headache du jour is with the 401k people. I'm taking out a loan to cover the down payment (since I will please God get a loan from a relative in a few months to pay the 401k back).

So I go to fill out the form they sent me, and it indicates that I have to have my husband sign as well.

I call the 401k company and explain to the customer service rep I'm not married.

Him: Our records indicate that you are married. This could affect getting the loan approved.Can you prove that you're not married?

Me: How do I prove that I've never been married?

Him: Well, do you have any documentation? Maybe a copy of a divorce settlement?

(At this point I begin gently hitting my head against the wall...)

They consider this issue serious enough to delay my getting the loan, which means I'll have to push the closing date back, which means I'll have to... oh, I don't know, probably something. Hey, maybe they can delay matters for a couple more weeks, at which case I'll be out of my apartment and homeless!

Yes, I know I'm dramatizing. I like to think of the Worse Case Scenarios even though they almost never come to pass, just so I can be prepared. On the plus side, eventually Life is going to get tired of throwing challenges my way. Or I'll become a tough, assertive person who sneers at obstacles, climbs over them, and charges ahead to her goal. Well, it's possible.

I'm not going to hold my breath though.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

News from the home front

Never attribute to malice that which may be explained by stupidity.

Does the course of true home buying ever run smooth?

Made an offer on a house, had it accepted.

Had the house inspected, told the seller all the trivial details that needed to be fixed (e.g. dry rot in the foundation, leaks in the plumbing, electrical outlets that were miswired).

Seller's response was basically "Gee, could've sworn I got all the dry rot out. That plumbing was done by a licensed plumber, but to be nice I'll fix the leaks. But the electrical outlets are all fine, nothing needs to be done about them."

My Realtor, seeing that the deal was going to fall through over this issue, called the electrician personally. He said the outlets were wired fine.

She asked him why they failed the home inspector’s test. He replied that maybe they needed to be fixed. He’ll write a letter offering to fix them.

She asked if he could email or fax the letter. He doesn’t have email or a fax machine.

She asked she could drive by his office to pick up the letter. He doesn’t come in to his office very often.

At this point I’d almost feel sorry for the Realtor if she hadn’t gotten so snippy with me the other day when I’d said I was concerned over this issue. (“Well, the inspector can’t see through walls, you know. If the electrician said it was fine, then it must be fine.”)

I started out thinking that since the seller was a contractor, they must have some idea that these things weren't done right to begin with. Now I'm starting to think the seller is merely inept. Doesn't fill me with confidence either. And he does have some experience with home renovation. Google tells me that he and the electrician went to Mississippi with members of their church to renovate homes after Katrina. That's a positive sign, anyway.

Of course, they were probably long gone by the time the home owners tried to plug in an appliance.

Tried a new sport tonight: indoor jogging. Well, it was different.
Jog/walk 2/2 9 times.

Brick wall courtesy of ... oh heck, click here to find out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 10 things to do at 3 a.m.

1. Stare at the ceiling fan going round and round in its pointless existence. Try to avoid thinking of any parallels with your life.
2. Whine on your blog.
3. Watch the raindrops running down the window.
5. Take deep breaths until this becomes actively irritating.
4. Learn to list things in order.
6. Surf the internet until this becomes intensely annoying.
7. Think of all the things you didn't get done today and therefore need to get done tomorrow.
8. Get cold, go back to bed, get restless, get back up. Repeat.
9. Ask yourself a lot of "Why" questions to which there really aren't any answers or at least not any good answers so it's fairly pointless.
10. Listen to an audiobook that a kind friend has shared with you. (Thank you, McB!)

Maybe exercise will help. 50 minutes jog/run 3/2.

Thanks Keziah!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

10 steps to a Happy Inner Slug

Top 10 reasons I haven't blogged in a week:

1. Working 12 hour days
2. Sleeping 4 hour nights
3. Spending much of the intervening hours trying to switch the ratio of #1 and #2.
4. Aliens. They're always a good reason.
5. Trying to cross every i and dot every t in the Getting-a-House process. (Yes, I know the phrase is usually the other way around. I was being symbolic, or ironic, or trying to indicate the use of subtext; one of those things.)
6. Learning that sometimes people who sell houses Aren't Always Honest.
7. Working on not getting emotionally involved in the G-a-H process, but nevertheless spending hours each night staring at the ceiling grinding my teeth (see #2).
8. Taking life Waaaay more seriously than I should.
9. Christmas presents? Oh wait, wasn't I supposed to buy things and ship them to people?
10. Trying to think up better reasons than these for not Getting On With The Program, and working on avoiding feeling self-loathing, self-disgust or self-avoidance (that last is a tricky one) for giving in to the Inner Slug.

The good thing about posting a list like this? It's motivation for me to get off my ever-expanding backside and go out there and move. Now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Me & Hugh Laurie

More excuses.
And why didn't you exercise yesterday, Mary?
Well, I bought a house.
Tsk. Not good enough. You'll have to come up with a better excuse that that.

It's a beautiful house, if that's any excuse.

I got very discouraged from having spent weekend after weekend looking at scruffy, depressing, even-with-a-lot-of-fixes-it'll-still-be-a-dump houses, then I walked into this house and fell in love. Makes me wonder if I gave up on dating too soon. Maybe I should hire a relationship broker and start touring fixer-upper style men?

Oh all right, so that's not a good enough excuse for getting distracted from exercising. I am glad that this week is over. Next week I'm going to go back to my regularly scheduled exercise. Nothing to worry about except the fact that I'm going to move in three weeks. Not sure if I should break open the champagne or go throw up.

Photo of my new house Castle Howard courtesy of flickr.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Not been a good start to the week. Though I'm no longer a valid invalid, I still can't stop coughing and sneezing. I have been giving out lots of gratuitous and unreliable exercise advice on Cranky Fitness. Does that count as exercise? No, I didn't think so.

Plus we're still getting hit with the tail-end of that typhoon. Just now the wind was so strong it was actually shaking the long building of townhouses where I live -- which is a neat trick. This area is pretty sheltered, with lots of... lovely tall trees... oh dear. No, seriously, probably no worries. I might drown, but I doubt a tree will do me in while I sleep.

In other words, no, I didn't run today. And I'm not going for it tonight either. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Maybe a fresh set of excuses. On the other hand, maybe I should take some thought to taking up swimming.

Pictures of an Oregon park courtesy of flickr.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Clichés, credit, and sundry trivia

I hate when cliché's come true. They used to say that if you go out in the rain you'll catch cold. I always thought that was hogwash, but I went running yesterday and got sprinkled on, and yes, I came down with a cold later that day.

Coincidence? Or is running bad for you after all?

I've been a good girl today; I went and got my free credit report at If you're a USian, try checking out your credit report with this site. I've finally convinced Experian that I did not open a Macy's card two years before I was born, but they are stubbornly clinging to the possibility that I did open a Sears charge account when I was 7 days old. After all, I was alive at the time, so it's possible.

I was going to do a summary-of-the-month post, but I'm going to postpone it until tomorrow. "I have a cold," she whimpered. "I have to baby pamper myself."

Completely trivial factoids:

  • If you borrow $20,000 more, you can explore the possibility of getting a much nicer house.
  • According to the World Clock, there have been three times more bicycles produced than cars.
  • In computer networking lingo, the acronym JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks. I challenge you to use that in any rational conversation that doesn't involve computer networking.
  • And the Great Scottish Haggis Hunt has begun!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A post with three damnits

This is a nagging post.
Self-nagging, since all the sane kind sensible people out there are sensibly tucked up in their warm beds refusing to get up yet.

I am trying to psyche myself into running. I should be out there already, damnit, but instead I'm sitting here in a warm room typing, so I have to justify it somehow.

Oh it the hell with. Go i now. And I'm posting this for all the world to see.
Yes, I know all the world is probably tucked up in bed snug and cosy, but that's not the point, damnit.

p.s. Here's my star, damnit!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quote du Jour

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. ~A.A. Milne

Quote from Winnie the Pooh, courtesy that A.A. Milne guy.
Photo courtesy of flickr.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Peaceful thoughts

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. -Buddha

Good positive thoughts.

There are 1,950,000 people in the Portland area.
I met 1 who was a jerk.

Therefore, there are 1 million, 949,999 other people around.
Math is not my strong point, but I'm willing to bet that the odds are good a large number of them are fairly decent people with good will and peace toward their fellow human.

A thank you to all the kind supportive people out there! I really do appreciate all the positive thoughts. That woman in the red sedan probably doesn't have any friends; I am lucky.

And thank you Keziah -- I did run tonight after all. Frosty clear night, moon rising behind the trees, beautiful experience. I would have missed all that.

Also -- iPods are really neat.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The story so far...

*** Warning. Post contains strong language. ***

To review: It's Monday, and I'm still alive, no thanks to the bitch in the red sedan who's unclear on the concept of a red light.

Honestly, if you commute by bicycle you get used to people Not Seeing You. A couple of cyclists have been killed in Portland this month by people who simply forgot they were there (i.e. they passed the bicyclist then turned right, directly in front of them). That's stupid, criminally stupid if you will, but it's still easier to accept than the other kind of asshole driver.

The sort who sees you coming, looks you right in the eye, and still comes on toward you as if life were a game of chicken and you were supposed to magically leap 20 feet in the air to get out of their way.

Don't, please don't leave comments about idiot cyclists who run red lights or otherwise behave like idiots. It's not the same thing. Yes, some cyclists are morons and yes, in this instance I had a green light, the motorist had a red light, but frankly that's not the point.

The point, to me, is that another human being can be so removed from all humanity as to look you in the eye and still see you as some sort of insect that can be removed from existence. I resent the thought that someone would be willing to swat me like a fly and then continue on with their evening.

If you're driving a ton of metal, pay attention to what you're doing and to what damage you could do. Care.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

When whoopee becomes ennui... ka-ching!

Exercise-wise, things have been looking bleak the last few days. No pep in my step, no spring and no zing, my bop has gone pop.In other words, I am not having any fun. I can't stay motivated. Things look dire. In a situation like this, I can only think of one thing to do.

Yes, it's time to go shopping.

I've been putting off going the iPod route because I was trying to save my spare change for the Buy Mary a House piggy bank. But if music can't cure my ennui, nothing will.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gum on my shoes?

Okay, I ran today. 2/2 x 10.
2 minutes jogging, 2 minutes walking, 40 minutes whining.
I swear someone has snuck in and put crazy glue on the bottom of my shoes. Either that or the jogging trail has been re-paved with sticky taffy. Or just possibly I should spend more time warming up and stretching the calf muscles.

But I still get my star for the day.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Isn't that Good Enough?

The unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates

I've been analyzing what I'm doing wrong with my general lose-weight, take-over-the-world plan. I think the fundamental mistake I tend to make is to follow the "Good Enough" philosophy.

I mean, I went jogging yesterday. That's good enough to cause me to lose weight, yes? I don't have to worry about watching my caloric intake or drinking enough water. I exercised.

Or my other favorite way to practice this philosophy: on a good day, I make a point of eating at least 5 servings of those green leafy things. And hey, if I eat right I don't have to worry about exercising as well, do I? No sense overdoing things.



Also, since I started the running program, I've been slacking way off on the other forms of exercise. I'm only running 3x a week. I've still been operating on this unexamined assumption that running is going to help me lose weight all on its own.Because the experts all said that I need to recover from running on alternate days, I somehow got the idea that I should not exercise at all on non-running days. Nice try. Still need to do other forms of exercise on the alternate days.


I really do know better. The trouble is that I can't concentrate on every aspect of the weight loss plan at one time. I think I've identified the major key points that I need to focus on:

1 - Taking the time once a week to buy and prepare enough vegetable-based meals for the week. I know myself well enough that I won't even try to cook every day. It's not going to happen. But I can roast/saute/stir-fry enough vegetables to last me from Sunday to Friday. If the food's there, I'm much more likely to eat it than if I have to get up and prepare it, or think about it, or anything tiresome like that.

2 - Making exercise the first thing I do. 90% of the time, that will take care of the need to move my body every day. In case something unexpected derails this schedule, I've still got lunch or dinnertime to fit the exercise session into the day. If I wait until after dinner, momentum is completely lost, motivation has drained away, and I'm doomed to couch potato-hood.

Looking at both of these, the focus seems to be on taking conscious charge of how I spend my time. Drifting and daydreaming are fine -- after I take care of these two priorities.

Couldn't resist using the picture of Alexander Godunov. When in doubt, go for the pun.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank you

If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice. - Meister Eckhart

  • Thanks for kind friends who cheer me on even when I don't feel like I'm making progress.
  • Thanks for giving me plenty to eat, and help me not to eat it all at once.
  • Thanks for this beautiful day.
  • Thanks for this body, which is adapting to running and dancing and cycling and becoming fit.
  • Thanks for the time to make myself into who I really am inside.

This list could stretch on a lot longer, but it's time to go running. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you for coming here.

Ran 30 minutes 1/2 jog/walk. Why was this so much harder than the last time, which was twice as strenuous? (At least the last session looked harder on paper.) This was like pulling teeth, getting blood from a stone, insert-your-own-harder-than-unpleasant-analogy-here. I hated every minute. I don't feel good at all, just glad that it's over and I'm out of the wind.
(There, Crabby, was that enough whining for you? I just wish I knew why this time was more difficult.)

Thanks for people who rescue animals, such as in the photo above from flickr.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Better than a mood ring

I can clearly tell the difference between the tone when I’ve written the post before I worked out versus after the workout. For one thing, the “after” blogs are much more smug in tone. (Is afterjog similar to afterglow? Sounds more like some kind of cheap aftershave.) The “before” posts, on the other hand, always seem much less confident.

I knew a girl in college who always went for a long run right before an important exam. She’d show up in her grubby sweaty clothes, without even taking a shower first (this was apparently very important; she was superstitious about it) and take the exam still slightly out of breath. I don’t remember if she really did all that much better at the exams than I did, but she clearly thought it made a difference. I just remember that I always made sure that I kept a few seats away from her on exam day.

Was there supposed to be a point to that story? I think I meant it to illustrate how exercising can add to your self-confidence. I'm too lazy to actually check, but I imagine studies will prove that people who exercise are -- on average -- more confident than people who don't. (Well, that's one explanation for the Governator.)

I think it's helpful to note here how I feel before and after I exercise. That way I can look at the before/after word pictures the next time I'm trying to persuade myself to get out there and exercise.

Happy/Sad photo courtesy of flickr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Aliens cause migraines, and other True Stories

Well, I'm going to blame my headache at least in part on aliens.

I have two computer monitors at work. Lately the main one has been "blinking," that is, it stops showing me whatever it is supposed to be showing me, and instead for a split-second displays a white screen with black text on it. Various computer gurus in my vicinity claim that the computer needs a new video card, but I suspect that it's actually a subliminal message system set up by those pesky aliens. Since I've turned the damn monitor off, the extended headache has subsided considerably. (I wonder what the aliens were trying to get me to do?)

And another "two thumbs up" to whichever demi-God is in charge of guilt. It would have been so easy to not go run tonight. It was really dark outside (gets that way at night) and the temperature was already hovering at freezing. Wah. But if I had bailed, I would have had to confess it, and I would have felt a complete fool. Does Keziah not walk because it's cold out? Christina's out running in the cold and the dark, and Theresa's having to dodge men in kilts and rabid haggis to do her run.

Once I actually got out there, of course, it wasn't nearly as dark or as freezing as it had been before I started. (I'm not saying I liked it, in case anyone's *cough* Marie *cough* checking. Just that it wasn't so bad.) This time last week I tried a couple of jog/walk sessions of 2 minutes each. I must be slowing my pace down, because I did that 11 times tonight, and felt fine. (It's possible I might be improving a bit as well. There is always that possibility. Maybe.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Life is grate

3 headaches in 4 days, but who's counting?

(This photo has been making the email rounds. If someone knows of a source, I would be glad to give credit where it is due.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The running plan

There are many different schedules out on the Internet designed to help you develop into someone who can run for a couple miles without stopping. I think the key is to stick to one schedule consistently.

Last week I tried to run according to my memory of what the running plan was. Now that I've found the actual plan again, I'm going to post it up here so I can't lose it.

Week 1
Session 1 (36 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes. 12 times
Session 1 (27 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 9 times.
Session 3 (33 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 11 times.

Week 2
Session 1 (44 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 11 times.
Session 2 (30 minutes)
Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 10 times.
Session 3 (40 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 10 times.

Week 3
Session 1 (50 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 10 times.
Session 2 (36 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 9 times.
Session 3 (45 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 9 times.

Week 4 (Easy recovery week)
Session 1 (40 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 8 times.
Session 2 (28 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 2 minutes. Do this 7 times.
Session 3 (35 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 3 minutes. Do this 7 times.

Week 5
Session 1 (40 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.
Session 2 (30 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.
Session 3 (36 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 9 times.

Week 6
Session 1 (48 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times.
Session 2 (36 minutes)
Run 2 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 12 times.
Session 3 (40 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.

Week 7
Session 1 (55 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 5 times.
Session 2 (40 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 10 times.
Session 3 (48 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times.

Week 8 (Easy recovery week)
Session 1 (44 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times.
Session 2 (32 minutes)
Run 3 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 8 times.
Session 3 (42 minutes)
Run 5 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 7 times.

Week 9
Session 1 (58 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 20 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes.
Session 2 (44 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times.
Session 3 (48 minutes)
Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 3 times.

Week 10
Session 1 (61 minutes)
Run 30 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 30 minutes.
Session 2 (44 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times.
Session 3 (47 minutes)
Run 20 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes

Week 11
Session 1 (61 minutes)
Run 40 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 20 minutes.
Session 2 (44 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 4 times.
Session 3 (47 minutes)
Run 20 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes.

Week 12 (easy week)
Session 1 (50 minutes)
Run 50 minutes.
Session 2 (33 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 3 times.
Session 3 (42 minutes)
Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 15 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Run 10 minutes.

Week 13
Session 1 (40 minutes)
Run 40 minutes.
Session 2 (33 minutes)
Run 10 minutes. Walk 1 minute. Do this 3 times.
Session 3

Saturday, November 17, 2007

To sleep, perchance to dream... maybe not

I really wish I had a more cooperative subconscious. I've had house buying on my mind for so long that I've taken to dreaming about houses.

You'd think, given the myriad wonderful places out there, I'd dream about looking at beautiful palaces.

Instead, my dreams have me going to look at houses that look this:
Deputy Dog put up a post on his strange and wonderful blog about fancy dog houses . I found myself looking to see if any had a "for sale" sign in front of them. I mean, I'm sure some of the houses I've looked at are about the same size. Not nearly as nice though.

What, do I sound cranky? I woke up at 1 this morning and haven't been able to get back to sleep since. Damn right I'm cranky. Or at least ornery.


Ran 1 minute jog/1 minute walk, 12 times.
Note: average heart rate definitely lower than two weeks ago when I ran 1 minute, walked 2 minutes 11 times. Either I'm learning to pace myself, or my stamina is improving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

This is migraine, not yours

Headache bad
Mary sad
Writing a blog is no Iliad
Better ideas are not to be had

What, you got a problem with bad poetry?
Think you can do better?
Go ahead.


I dare you.

I should probably try to write a more interesting post, but my synapses have all got tenure, i.e. none of them seem to be capable of being fired.

Migraine photo courtesy of flickr.
Migraine itself courtesy of multifarious biochemical processes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The power of guilt

The power of guilt is amazing.

Yesterday I dithered about cycling in to work until it was too late, and I had to drive. (The inner slug was quite pleased with itself.) Today I overslept and missed out on a chance to run in the a.m. So things were looking quite desperate. I had to run at night. In the rain. With a headache threatening to turn Nasty.

One of the edicts of exercise is that some exercise is better than none. I did 20 minutes jog/walk (2 repetitions 2/2, then 1/1 the rest of the session). In the rain. And the dark. Somewhere in the background a scratchy violin begins playing a mournful tune five miles uphill through the snow...

The headache isn't any better, but it isn't any worse either. And I got me a gold star to post on the blog. Could be worse.

Rain photo courtesy of flickr.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Inner Slug: 1 Mary: 0

Interesting how looking at an exercise session from the Before side, it always seems much longer and more onerous than it really is.

When looking at an exercise session in hindsight, I always wonder “Why was I putting this off? It wasn’t that hard.”

Worrisome how I have to keep repeating the same lessons in Life. I already know this, damn it. The hardest part about riding my bicycle to work is Getting On The Bike. Once I’m going, it’s much easier.

So why am I sitting here procrastinating about cycling to work? Again?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Me & Julius Ceasar

Veni, vidi, hmmn... I could keep going, actually.
- Julius Ceasar, upon completing his first lap around the three parts of Gaul.*

It wasn't that bad.

In fact, it could have been worse.

I'm not saying I like this running stuff, but this morning's run was not a Gauling experience. Shortened the amount of walking, increased the frequency of jogging, and survived okay.

Thankfully, after throwing a nasty wind storm tantrum yesterday, Mother Nature decided to make up for it with a calm, clear dawn. Freezing cold, but at least no trees were throwing any branches around.

After the warmup, jogged and walked 1 minute each for 24 minutes. (Tried 2/2 a couple of times, but didn't like it. Still an improvement on last week's 1/2 jog/walk ratio.) Thanks to Theresa for the lovely gold star!

*From Mary's Book of Curious, Spurious Quotations, CB Press, publication date uncertain. Quotation not verified by any sober and/or reputable historians.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A promissory quote

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstance. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them. - George Bernard Shaw

In other words, I will run tomorrow. I was thrown off by the wind storm -- I object to running, in the dark and in a high wind, on a jogging trail that has 60-foot trees and always ends up littered with trip-happy branches.Tomorrow, if it's stormy, I will damn well do the pre-dawn run in the apartment complex's gym. There. I've put it in writing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eight is enough

Yikes! I've been tagged. Silently tagged. Didn't feel a thing. (Note to self-- be more observant.) Nunhead mum of one, who writes cool (in the Californian sense of the word, not in the way that a meteorologist or Nancy Mitford would use it) little vignettes of life in her neighborhood on Nunhead Ramblings, challenged me to write a series of 8 things.

Seems to me that the best way to tackle lists of these sort is to go at them without stopping to think, to write the first thing that comes to mind. Otherwise you start writing with a view to your audience, trying to impress them. I figure you'd see through that, so you're getting the stream of consciousness version here.

8 things I'm passionate about:

1. Cruelty toward children or animals or anyone innocent or defenseless. (Hmmmn. 'Passionate' here means in the sense of passionately against. Suppose I should probably write a list of things I'm passionately in favor of.)
2. Surrounding myself with a beautiful garden, all green and growing things (hard to do in wintertime).
3. Coming home on a dark and rainy night, lighting a fire to drive back the darkness, filling the house with candles and incense and putting some magnificent music on the stereo.
4. Showing something new to a child, presenting them with a game they've never tried to play, an idea they've never thought about before, and watching their eyes grow wide with wonder (especially fun at Christmas).
5. Stopping each day to think of three things that I should be grateful for.
6. Getting out of the house to walk, or run, or bicycle, anything that will get me out of myself and looking at the world. (Looking at life should be like looking at a window, not a mirror.)
7. My family (oh, I bet everyone says this one).
8. My friends (but that's because it's true).

8 things to do before I die:

1. Become thin-and-fit.
2. Buy a house.
3. Write something that isn't a technical manual.
4. Cycle a century.
5. Run a 5k.
6. Learn to sew without cussing.
7. Become able to speak in public without turning bright red (not a good color on me).
8. Become an organized, confident person.

8 things I say often:

1. Dagnabbit
2. Sheesh
3. Oi vey Maria!
4. Yikes
5. Actually, I like to think
6. that I don't
7. repeat myself
8. all that often

8 books I've read recently:

1. House hunting for dummies
2. House buying for single women
3. An exhaltation of larks
4. Making money
5. Cary Grant: a biography
6. Buying a home when you're single
7. Introduction to Darwin Information Typing Architecture
8. Beginning Runner's Handbook

8 songs I could listen to over and over:

1. Fantasie Impromptu, Op. 51, by Chopin
2. Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, by Rachmaninov
3. Suite for solo cello No. 1, by Bach
Oh wait. Does 'songs' mean something to sing along with? I can't sing! Oh here goes:
4. Hang on little tomato, Pink Martini
5. Days like this, Van Morrison
6. Fall on me, REM
7. Javano, Javanke, by the Baksheesh Boys
8. Don't be shy, by Cat Stevens

8 qualities I look for in a best friend:

1. Honesty
2. More honesty
3. Humor
4. Loyalty
5. An open mind
6. Intelligence
7. Patience
8. Ability to finish lists. The 8th one is always the hardest, for some reason.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sign up here for the Fitness Protection program!

I thought it was a joke. Silly Mary.

When I first read about this on 15 minute lunch, I didn't take it seriously. But Back in skinny jeans pointed me to an article in the NY Times that gave more information. (They've done scientific tests. Well then.)

It still sounds like some kind of elaborate leg-pull. As one of the scientists said, "It is almost too good to be true."

The idea is one that my inner slug devoutly subscribes to: it should be possible to get thin-and-fit without having to do anything. If this burns fat and builds bone density, that's good enough, right? Maybe it'll work my heart and lungs too, without my having to bother.

Yeah, right. I'm off to aerobics now.

Friday, November 09, 2007

English Major: you do the math

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. ~Albert Einstein, Sidelights on Relativity

I'm not sure how to add all this up, but here are the facts:
#1 - The scale hasn't budged.
#2 - Clothes that used to seem a bit tight now seem a bit loose.
It would help if I could add to this equation # 3- The measurements, but I've sorta kinda misplaced the measuring tape. (Not that it's lost, as such. It's differently located.)

I can't see any difference, but it's promising.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two things I hate about running


Actually, I'm quite fond of breathing, have been for years, but I like it to be something that goes on in the background of my life. After I have been running for a few minutes (okay, jogging/shuffling/cursing) I become intimately aware of every breath that I take.

Going uphill.

Even the slightest incline seems to become much steeper if you're trying to run up this. This seems unfair. I'm not sure where the Complaints department is for this sort of thing, so I'm posting it here.

Tomorrow I'll be chipper and positive. Tomorrow's Friday. Today? Well, it's not Friday. A little whining won't hurt. Off to run* now. I want to change my mood.

*okay, jog.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One of those days

The autumn leaves are falling like rain,
Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
And you, you are a thousand miles away,
There are always two cups at my table.

- T'ang Dynasty

Photo courtesy of flickr.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Useful tips and sundry trivia

Now that I have your ear, Mr. Van Gogh...
Mishmash of things I wanted to note:
Sixteen edicts of exercise
Fifteen tips to restart the exercise habit
Seven secrets of being popular
Six good eating habits that will help prevent cancer

And some sundry trivia that I found completely charming.

You are probably familiar with the concept of the odd collective nouns in the English language. No doubt you've heard of a "herd" of cows, a "flock" of sheep or seagulls, a "gaggle" of geese. You might even be familiar with some of the more abstruse (i.e. plain wacko) collective nouns. For example a collection of crows is referred to as a "murder" of crows.

James Lipton (of the "Actor's Studio" program on Bravo) published a whole book of these nouns (An Exaltation of Larks). I can see no way to work these into a regular post, but I found them quite charming, so I'm inflicting sharing some of them here:

A dish of gossips
A bellyful of bores
A curse of creditors
A Kerouac of deadbeats
A stall of procrastinators
A score of bachelors
A freeze of virgins
A hangout of nudists
A spread of centerfolds

It's hard to stop.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Two things I like about running

I have found something I like about running.


It feels good to stop; I feel good about having done it. I've read blogs about runners who crave running, who miss it if they don’t do it. Bah. Fools. Okay, maybe not fools, just people with a different mindset than mine. Or maybe their bodies have been so accustomed to the exercise that if they don’t get their Fixx they go into withdrawal?

One other thing I like about running. I like being able to say “oh, yes, I went running today.” It’s not strictly true: I start out running, with a bold, confident stride that eats up the trail. By the end of the session, however, I’m shuffling along like a little old lady who’s misplaced her walker. It averages out to jogging, but don't tell anyone. Claiming to be a runner puts me in a category with thin, fit, active people. I like being there, and I paid my admittance fee by huffing and puffing and making it around the course anyway.

Okay, one bonus like. I like that I can get a workout in 40 minutes that would take me a lot longer if I were riding a bicycle. Not sure if my knees are going to continue to agree with me about that one, though. So far, no complaints. We'll see. (Or to be more accurate, I'll hear. My knees can speak quite loudly if the occasion demands.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sometimes you just have to Marvel

Had I but money enough, and time,
This floor plan, lady, were no crime.

My search, like a feng shui workshop, should flow
Smoother than escrow and less slow.

- To his coy realtor, Andrew Marvel (attributed)*

I mean, who puts the master bedroom smack up against the kitchen?
Why build bedrooms too small for a double bed, but a garage that could fit a fleet of cars and a couple of medium-sized yachts?
Why in the name of all that's logical would you place a garden shed right up against the house so that it completely blocked the only window in a bedroom? (This shed was in quite a large backyard, forpete'ssake.)

I think I could do marvelous things with some of these houses if I had tons of money ... and maybe a bulldozer... but it would involve a lot of work. Well, not for me personally, but for the large number of tanned, lithe construction workers whom I would hire to do my bidding… sigh.

I think I'm tired of looking at houses. That's probably why I've fallen in love with an inappropriate house. I know full well it's much more sensible to buy a rundown 3 bedroom and fix it up, but this other house is so nice! Older houses have good "bones." (And not so good plumbing sometimes, or electricity, or ... yeah, yeah, I know, I know.)

I think I should stop looking at Offbeat Homes. Is there a blog out there called "Deadbeat Homes"? If not, perhaps I should start one.

*(Attribution disputed by one or two pretty much every reputable literary critic.)

The longest mile... er, I meant minute...

I saw Eternity the other night
Like a great Ring of pure and endless light

- Henry Vaughan

It’s amazing how time can lengthen or shorten itself based on what you’re experiencing in that moment. The minute it takes to jog up even a minor incline is a much longer minute than the one experienced walking up the same incline, though it is in fact not slower (even at my speed). I have to remind myself that running faster will not make the minute go by sooner.

Even more amazing how a single exercise session can include ruminating on Einstein’s theory of relativity, Dali’s attitude toward watches in his painting, and whether Henry Vaughan ever indulged in magic mushrooms.* If I had an iPod, I would probably miss these things. There's a big debate about whether or not to allow headphones in races. I can understand race organizers not wanting thousands of people crammed together and at the same time all in their own little worlds. But it would do great things to time.

Three more houses to look at this afternoon. Perhaps they will distract me from the totally inappropriate house I fell in love with Thursday. (It had charm, it had style, it had another house slap up against the fence five feet from the back door. Sigh.)

Photo courtesy of flickr.

*Okay, probably not. Many religious mystics in the European tradition did not indulge in recreational pharmaceuticals. They just came at Reality from a different angle to most of us.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Progress: wrestling with discouragement

And so we go on.

I meant to post a status report. I've been putting it off, since it's not that encouraging. But Scale Junkie just wrote a post about how to keep going even when things haven't been going well, so I thought maybe I should come clean about things. (Odd expression. Is lying dirty, and therefore telling the truth is seen as clean? Mary, stop dithering and go confess what you came here to confess.)

Inner Slug: You've been trying to eat healthy stuff and work out since July. I don't see any results on the scale. Why not give up?

Me: Whaddya mean no results? I've lost over fifteen pounds.

Inner Slug
: Yeah, from stopping that medication. You're at the weight you were before you started taking the stuff.

So I haven't gained any weight. Probably I've gained muscle.

Inner Slug: C'mon. This is the weight you are supposed to be. Accept it.

Brief, not pretty, struggle of a woman wrestling with her inner slug. Finally the slug is subdued with the use of metaphorical duct tape.

It's a good thing I'm so stubborn.

This month (the past ten days, actually) I've gained back six pounds and only lost two of them again. I'm tempted to blame this on the thyroid, simply because gaining six pounds in a single week is very hard to attribute to an increase in fat or muscle. I know I should go get blood tests done, see what my TSH level is at. Sigh. I'd rather go jogging.

Good news: I invested in a watch/heart monitor. (I could not persuade anyone at REI that watches exist with two different timers so you can run two different times.) I've learned a lot from the heart monitor already. All my video workouts? Not getting the heart rate above 50% or so. No wonder I've been getting bored with them lately. I was still raising a sweat, and I'd always feel good afterwards, but perhaps I'm getting too used to them. One thing I love about running (never thought I'd use that phrase) is that it gets my heart rate up there. Sometimes too high, but that's something I can control.

Also, the NOVA program on marathon running made a good point. If you want to lose weight, you have to diet. Exercise is good for maintaining, making sure you keep the muscles while you lose, but diet is crucial for the actual loss. I need to focus more on being Good.

I have great faith that using the heart monitor will show some good results on the scale this month. And I'm putting that statement out here so that I will feel held to it.

This month:

- I will make sure when I work out, I'm really getting a work out.
- I will concentrate on eating them green leafy things before I walk into the kitchen at work, so the sight of all those cupcakes and brownies will not make me hungry. The next eight weeks are going to be dangerous.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In praise of imaginary friends

The charities that soothe and heal and bless
Are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.
- Wordsworth

A dazzling array of runners and losers. That was what I was originally going to title this post.

I started this post a few weeks ago and wrote mostly about the bloggers that I've been reading, cheering, and laughing with as they struggle to achieve or maintain fitness and a healthy weight. Then I stopped writing the post, because that ever-psychic and always entertaining Crabby McSlacker had written an even better post on the same subject. Tonight, however, I feel impelled to publish this post anyway. You'll see why.

My reason for starting this blog was not an original one, but it worked for me: I wanted to lose weight. The best way (for me) to do this is go public. I could either find an exercise buddy or post my struggles/successes on the web for all to see/snicker at. Since I moved up to Oregon, I haven't found anyone who is both a) at my level of unfitness and b)willing to change. So I'm going for the blog.

It has helped. For example, once I publish this post, I'm going to go do a session of Pilates. I have to. I made a deal with Heather from Setting her free, that if I did Pilates, she would go do a session of Yoga. And she said she loves a challenge. So I'm stuck. I have to follow through, or feel like a liar and/or wimp. The hell with that. Pilates, here I come.

I’ve trying to keep myself mentally psyched by reading blogs by all the crazed fanatical runners out there in Blogland.

To name a few:

Half-fast keeps up a running commentary about training, races, the evil that lurks in the hearts of treadmills, how running has made him a sex object for all the women out there, etc. I believe every word, naturally.

grrrl power writes about balancing jogging and eating them green leafy things with surviving the road to the Ph.D

When I’m feeling discouraged about my shape, I go check out the photos on mousaroo’s mumblings and read her Good, Bad, Ugly summaries.

Christina from Diggin' it and Theresa from Moderately Interesting are two CBs (see below) who are both just starting to get back into that running/fitness thing. I find it incredibly encouraging to follow their progress, even if it's only from afar.

And Heather from Ad Astra, per aspera always challenges me to go a little bit farther than I thought I could.

The fitness blogs are a bit confusing when they speak in code. To me, split is a word that follows “banana,” and why say you’ve run two “halfs”? Shouldn't that be "halves"? And doesn’t that mean you’ve run one whole whatever-it-is?

Oh, while I’m on a roll, I should mention the weight loss blogs that, while not strictly about running, encourage me to keep going:

Editing my body is always encouraging, because Katharine doesn’t let anything stop her from following her plan of exercising and eating right. Somehow she doesn’t seem to get derailed by Life. I’m jealous, and hope it will rub off by on me if I follow her blog.

Desperately seeking serenity is encouraging to read because Moana has already lost several pounds following Weight Watchers, even before she started to exercise.

Half of me is amazing. Pasta Queen’s managed to lose over 200 pounds by following a simple plan of eating healthy stuff and exercising. First just walking, then walking/running, now she’s worked her way up to running races. Plus, it’s fun to look at her photos and spin them around 360 degrees. (She doesn’t seem to get dizzy.)

There are more wonderful blogs like these. These are just a few of the blogs I've been following. (I've tried to link to them all on my random rotating blog roll on the right.)

I like surrounding myself with positive people who aren’t slackers comme moi. I’m pretty sure that this will help me stay focused on achieving my goal. It Can Be Done.


This was originally where I'd stopped the post. But I have things that need to be said, and they need to be said publicly. So this is where I'm saying them.

The blog at the CB Bar & Grill is not fascinating, at least not to an outsider. It's full of quirky people who enjoy the same jokes and most of the same books while leading fairly disparate lives. I've never met most of these people in person, but -- this is going to sound really strange -- I've formed a bond of trust with them. I've asked them to send me an autographed book and they do, trusting that I'll send them the money back in return. That makes no sense to someone outside, but because I've known these people (and I do feel like I know them), it works. I've traveled a distance of several hours to meet up with some of them, and when we meet it's like we've known each other for years even though we've never met. Say what you will about introverted loners who prefer to interact via the Internet, there are some powerful emotional bonds formed. Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Tonight I learned that I lost a friend. This was a woman I'd met over a year ago. We had similar taste in books, enjoyed similar jokes. She was only a few years older than I was, and though she lived three thousand miles away, we kept in touch through a group blog, and enjoyed each other's comments.

Funny thing about the Internet. It can reveal you in ways you're not aware (often simply by the way you write you reveal yourself to people) but it can also conceal little trivial details, such as cancer. It wasn't until I'd known Margaret for a few months that I realized how hard she was fighting to stay alive. She usually made a joke out of her troubles, but when you considered her situation stripped of all humor and sense of proportion, she was fighting an opponent who takes no prisoners.

And when she lost the battle, a lot of people lost a friend.

In Memoriam Margaret, May 1, 1959 --October 31, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's all my mother's fault

Really. It is. Not that she meant to screw with my head. She didn't plan it at all. But the fact remains that I grew up in a Victorian, 10-foot ceilings, molding, sun porch, lots of space (once all them older siblings moved out).
It had a living room that looked like this:

Now I look for houses and the living room looks like this:

I had my back against a wall when I took this picture. They couldn't stage the room with a whole couch because it would have taken up too much room.

I'm spoiled, that's my problem. This house had an incredibly beautiful garden, but the house itself had such small rooms that though it was a three-bedroom house, I don't see how anyone could live in it.

I mean, I know what it's like to live crowded. I grew up in a three-bedroom house that held ten humans, a couple of dogs, assorted cats, and a series of non-wanted tenants such as mice, rats, raccoons, and honey bees. About the only varmint that didn't try to take up space in the house were skunks, and even then it was probably because they couldn't find any space.

I'm not planning on having any of the above living in my new house, except for the dog. But three bedrooms in a 900 square foot house is maybe squeezing things a bit. If you have really tiny bedrooms, you need a larger living room to balance things out. If this house had had only two bedrooms, and a larger living room, I think it would have been a lot more livable.

I know, I'm being fussy. People with small budgets can't afford big houses. But does small mean it can't feel spacious?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Haunting Houses

So, the realtor found a couple of homes that I hadn't seen listed, and off we went.

(Cue theme music from "The Dating Game")
Bachelor #1 House #1 had somehow "only just now played the message we were coming over." I realize it must be a pain to have strangers tromping through a house while you're living there, but it wasn't as if they hadn't been notified over 24 hours in advance. And shouldn't you expect that if you offer a house for sale, people will come look at it? They were polite enough, but it was awkward having their eyes follow me as I looked at the place. It must have been awkward for them as well. I mean, there must be no way for a seller to not feel like they're being judged themselves in that kind of situation. They had a nice dog, though. Followed me politely from room to room, didn't stop me from looking at anything, just wanted to make sure she kept an eye on the stranger on "her" turf.

House #2 - I wondered about it even before I walked in. Beautiful lawn, roses in bloom, well-pruned fruit tree, and gang graffiti on the neighboring garages. Walking into this house, it felt like I was walking into a tomb. The house was completely stripped over everything but the light fixtures. No attempt at staging, all the rooms were empty, echoing, and cold, the kind of cold that comes from a house that hasn't been lived in for a long while.

I looked at the living room, looked at the kitchen, looked at the dining room. I opened the door to the garage, and got a shock. There was a man sitting in the garage watching television. He was watching t.v. there because he lived there. In the garage. Which, though described in the listing as a real garage, had been converted into a room. Totally freaked me out. He must have heard us drive up, since we parked in the driveway and had been talking as we walked through the house, but he just sat there -- what, hoping we wouldn't look in the garage? Creepy.

For some reason that I can't properly explain, this really did shock me. The situation just had a very bad feel to it. I didn't even bother looking at the bedrooms or bathrooms. I turned to the realtor and said "Okay. I'm done here."