H20town, NY

I haven't lived here for longer than a summer since I started college in 1999. When I return, I truck along Interstate 81, picturing everything just as I left it fourteen years ago. I drive into town and see the Target and Chipotle and new traffic patterns. It's not as if I've never noticed all of the new but the images of Watertown that remain are those slowly etched into my psyche over eighteen years.
Maybe that's why I prefer to haunt the places that never seem to change, like the lake.

When I stare at the surf, I can imagine myself a child again: camping by the shore, sitting around wood fires, smelling of bug spray with an undertone of coconut, falling asleep to the sounds of the night.

Pictures posed on the steps of a preserved Civil War era house could be recreated with our older bodies, only our selves plainly revealing the passage of time.

The car ride that once felt like hours now reveals itself to be less than 30 minutes.

Soft serve ice cream from that one place along the way remains delicious but the huge cones make me worry in a way they didn't when I was 8.

I don't long to be a child again but, sometimes, I want to bathe in the tide of memory and nothing brings the flood like planting myself in the right geography.

Lang-kist-er, Pennsylvania

I spent today in muggy Lancaster, PA. It's been a good one with friends and babies and good food and porch sitting.

It's a pretty cool little city - with interesting shops, places to eat, outdoor recreation, coffee shops, and art school, and more culture than you might expect from a small place in the middle of Amish farm country.

Though I'm happy to be where I am now, I definitely have moments of longing for this place, particularly when I'm craving cheap home-grown produce for purchase at a multitude of roadside stands.

Taken from their website: linked above.
And, seriously, they have public pianos for anyone to use. Awesome!

Things Are Looking Up

Yesterday didn't feel special in any way but, somehow, I feel like a cloud that's been hovering over me for a while now has lifted in the past 24 hours. I've even found myself thinking positively about situations that vexed me just a few days ago.

My impulse is to analyze this situation, to find what I've done or not done that created this change, but, for today, I'm just going to enjoy the shift and the fact that, to me, this is Friday. Woot five-day weekend!

Now I will leave you with an image of one book I made, which has brought me much joy.

700 glorious pages that I've almost completely filled with my scribblings.
I ran 3.39 miles today, averaging 12:29 pace but that was with a lot of walking. I didn't walk at all the first two miles and was at or below race pace the entire time. Felt good.

Awesome Things About Today

  • When I was getting melodramatic about a needed trip to the bank to deposit a check, I remembered that I could do a mobile deposit using my iPod. Score!
  • My first two place settings of Fiestaware arrived: peacock blue and white! They are very pretty and I look forward to completing a multi-colored setting for eight over the coming months/years. I've already been warned about the dangers of Fiestaware addiction. Don't fret; I'll be careful.
  • I decided not to run today and didn't feel guilty about it and, more importantly, didn't go into histrionics thinking that not running today was a precursor to quitting. I like running. I will keep doing it. Just not today.
  • My salad at lunch was all pinkish-red from the gorgeous roasted beets I threw in it. I heart salad. Don't ever let me forget that again.
  • I got a ton of stuff done at work - nothing earth-shattering but stuff that needed to be done before my upcoming 5-day jaunt up north.
It was a good day. They happen more often than I let on. :)

What was awesome about your day?

It Gets Better at the End

I've been kicking around an idea for the past little while. I've had several conversations with friends about my lack of ambition but I've come to realize that what I call lack of ambition is actually fear and laziness. I fear not being great at things and I'm too lazy to try to be my best when I realize I won't be the best.

If I had a conversation about it with myself, it might go something like this...

Pouty me is on the left, optimistic me is on the right.
Pouty Me: I like to be good at things.
Optimistic Me: Everyone likes to be good at things.
Me: But I want to be the best.
Me: That's cool. Let's just be honest, though, you're probably never going to be the best at anything other than being yourself.
Me: (pouting) That sucks. If I can't be the most awesome ever, I quit!
Me: (optimistically) Maybe you could just try to be your best at this, see how much you can improve over time. It will be a lot of work but it will be worth it.
Me: (with a look of chagrin) All that hard work to not be the best? Not worth it. Btw, you're stupid. (stomps away and slams a few doors)
Me: What is wrong with that crazy chick?

So, I get all excited about some new activity or hobby or whatever and I go at it whole hog. For a little while, I don't need to be the best because it's all shiny and new. I'm especially happy at this point if I'm getting praise for what an awesome thing I'm doing. Then, one day, it clicks that I am NEVER going to be the most creative bookbinder, the most innovative photographer, the fastest runner, the best student, whatever. The rivers of praise and encouragement also slow down to more like a steady stream. Then, by slow increments, I give up.

The momentum that I picked up at the beginning of the new, shiny thing drains away quickly as I get to the hard part - the slogging, unnoticed, uphill work of slow improvement that may never be noticed or rewarded.

I don't like this about myself. The only way to change is to choose to stick it to some habit when it gets difficult, to become the best I can be in some area, to face the slow uphill slog, breathe deeply, and keep moving. So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep running and see just how much better at it I can be.

Just saying it is like a weight off my shoulders. Whew!

Ever had a disappointing revelation about yourself? What did you do about it?
Do you ever feel like Gollum when he's arguing with himself? (Happens to me all the time...)


Having cantankerously lived at a weight loss and fitness plateau for the summer, I'm ready to stop kvetching about it, pack up my gear, and get moving to the next plateau. It will take some work, moving always does, but I'm ready.

I ate my last Taco Bell for at least a week yesterday. I planned my meals for the coming week and got the requisite groceries this morning. I went on a 7-mile run this afternoon.

While I was in the shower, I decided there are four criteria I'm going to track, over the next however-long-it-takes, as indicators of how I'm doing in my journey toward better health. They are, in order of importance:
  1. how I feel,
  2. how closely I'm following my training plan,
  3. how my clothes are fitting, and
  4. how much I weigh.
Number 4 is a new addition to the list that I've been resisting for a while. I haven't yet decided if I will report the number to you, my faithful readers, but I am going to step on a scale once a week, no more and no less, and use it as one way to track my success.

It's important to me that a number on a scale be only one, and not the first, criteria for measuring success because I know how different that number can be based on muscle mass, recent long runs, illness, time of the month, etc. and so forth. That's it's for tonight, folks.

T - 7 days until the 18.12 Challenge

How do you measure your health and fitness success?
Do you weigh yourself frequently, hardly ever, on a regular schedule, haphazardly, only at the doctor's office?

And... Done.

My book collection yesterday
I should have known I wouldn't need to give myself three weeks to finish sorting and organizing my books. When I get into sort/purge/organize mode, the momentum can be difficult to stop. This morning, I was back at it around 7:30. Gaining that momentum can be trickier but that's beside the point.

As I took the books from their shelves, I sorted them into piles. The categories pretty much shaped up like this:
  • Easy to part with,
  • Difficult to part with but definitely going,
  • Not sure I can get rid of this but it may need to go,
  • Expensive but I can't think of any other reason to keep it, and
  • Keep
I was surprised at how quickly the pile of books headed out the door grew. I'd purged the stacks pretty heavily a little over a year ago but I guess I'd given myself more room for irrational keeps at that point.

Nap time amongst the stacks
Can I sleep here?
Mogli enjoyed the entire process since he's a fan of changes in his landscape. He had a little nap on the empty bottom shelf of one bookcase, nestled behind my stacks of journals. Then he explored a half-filled box.

When the shelves were completely cleared, I dusted them thoroughly. While I was up on a chair taking care of the topmost surfaces, I also noticed how disgusting the ceiling fan was and took care of that while I was in the mood.

The cupboards were bare...
because all the books were on the bed.
After lunch, I began the process of re-shelving what was left. I was a little worried that I'd need to purge more books due to my one bookcase rule but, as you can see, I needn't have been concerned. Harry Potter was on the chopping block but the number of volumes I'd already purged left plenty of room for all seven volumes. My books used to be organized in color order but I stuck with series/genre this time.

Still plenty of room even with Harry Potter.
I didn't want to get rid of my second bookcase, so that left me with the task of filling it. So, on the top shelf, I have journals waiting to be used and the few stuffed animals I've never been able to give up. The next two shelves are occupied by the journals I've filled over the years with what I'm sure are quite repetitive ramblings. Then, there are pictures of some of my favorite people. Followed by blank journals I'd like people to buy. Finally, on the bottom shelf are books I'm going to read and then donate. If they are extra good, they still have a chance of making it onto the keep shelves.

I do have a journal in the shape of a bumble bee. Got a problem with that?
Though I enjoy books, I can't even tell you how much lighter and brighter my whole room feels now. If you're interested, you can click this link to see the books I'm donating to the library. If there is one you simply can't do without, comment here or on flickr. I'll get an email notification either way and we can might be able to work something out.

I Heart Books

Over the past several weeks, I've been organizing my belongings and purging those that were unwanted or unneeded. So far, I've taken two packed trunkloads to Salvation Army, over-filled our giant, black trashcan with recyclables, and pitched a couple grocery bags of trash.

For a while now, when I woke up, it felt like everything I owned was going to fall on top of me. Even when everything was organized, it felt like chaos. Many of the items I finally got rid of had followed me through several moves and never made it out of their boxes except when I was moving them into different boxes or frantically searching for something I'd lost.

After a chaotic weekend at Wild Goose, I knew the purge I'd been fantasizing about for months had to happen right away. If I didn't get it done, I would continue feeling exhausted and... blurry. I had to rid myself of the physical clutter to make room for other things - physical, emotional, and spiritual - I want in my life.

After I finished up last night, I settled into a chair to eat my dinner and watch some TV. That's when I admitted to myself that I wasn't actually done. I was about 85% done but there was still the matter of my books.

Aren't they pretty? The cookbooks have their own shelf in the kitchen. Yes, that's a Care Bear. My mom made it.
Compared to some of my friends', my current book collection is amateurish. Even so, the 250-300 I own make for at least fourteen heavy boxes that need to be packed and carried with every move. Just imagine how many more it would be if I hadn't purged my collection several times over the years.

I tell myself that there are very few books on my shelves that couldn't be easily obtained from the library. I don't write in the margins of most books, so I wouldn't be losing a repository of jotted thoughts. But I worry about forgetting their titles or not having them when my hypothetical children want to read them or not having enough books around to look like a reader, so I hang on.

This is the last challenge of the purge. The rules of thinning will be as follows:
  1. Allotted space = one bookcase with room to spare for inevitable future acquisitions.
  2. Used journals and yearbooks do not count.
  3. Purging must be complete (with all purged books out of the house) by September 8.
Do you have an irrational fear of getting rid of books? Do you have any strategies that help you not go overboard with your book collection or do you just give in to the urge to hoard them? 

My Baby Toe Is Broken

This afternoon, I was tidying my room a bit. I was almost done. There were only four or five more things to put in their places. As I turned to put something on my bookshelves, I cracked my baby toe against my bed frame. Such events are not uncommon for me but I immediately knew that something was different about this stubbing incident.

Usually, my toe would hurt like a beast for about ten seconds, fade into a dull ache for another minute or so, and then return to normal. Today, the initial hit was barely painful. Then, as my toe swelled over the next several hours, the pain came.

This is definitely not my first time at this rodeo. The women in my family are expert toe-breakers. You should see my mom's mangled feet. I've probably broken each baby toe at least once. And, did you know, I have a permanently broken bone in my left foot. Yeah, I limped on that bad boy for much of my sixteenth year and never knew it was broken until a year ago.

Anyway, when someone mentioned going to the doctor, I thought, "Huh? That's a thought. What would the doc do? Tape my toe... I can do that. Doctor...pshhhh."

So, I've been resting (skipped my run this afternoon), icing, and elevating, and am considering wearing my compression socks to bed.

*light bulb* You know what I just realized? For my whole life, I've told people that I'd never broken a bone - except maybe an errant toe. I've been lying to people for half my life and I didn't even know it!

If it bruises beautifully, I will post a pic tomorrow. You're on the edge of your seat now, right?!

Ewww...I just googled broken toe images. Don't try that at home!

Any other clutzes out there who enjoy breaking their body parts?
When did you break your first bone?

I Weighed Myself Yesterday

Yep, for the first time since the April 29, which was the day after I completed my first half marathon, I stepped on a scale. That's close to four months between weigh-ins. I've definitely gone longer not knowing my weight but never when I was in the midst of trying to lose poundage.

I wasn't surprised to see that the reading on the scale had gone up 7 pounds since that last weigh-in. I can't even honestly say that I'm surprised by how much it went up.

Before I started changing my lifestyle last year, I was likely tipping the scales somewhere between 270 and 280. Despite the recent gain, I'm still down 50 or 60 pounds. That is a huge accomplishment. I am much healthier now. Yay me! The problem is that I'm letting the bad habits that got me to within striking distance of 300 pounds to creep back into my lifestyle.

Taco Bell Beefy Five-Layer Burrito
Running is great. I'm learning to enjoy it even when it sucks. But it is not an excuse to eat whatever I want in quantities that would sustain a hard-working farm animal.

In fact, I'm quite sure that one of the reasons running has so frequently sucked for me lately is the crappy, processed, 1/3 French fries diet I have been "enjoying" for the past few months. If one of my veins was tapped, the liquid that came out might be partly blood but it would look greasy, like an oil slick.

I regularly feed myself large volumes of Taco Bell. And I don't go for the stuff that has vegetables in it. I get Beefy Five-Layer Burritos (refried beans, beef, sour cream, shredded cheese, and nacho cheese) and Crispy Potato Soft Tacos. Lots of "food" at a low price... Other fast foods are also in regular rotation.

Yesterday, I read a quote that hit me where I live: You'll never be able to outrun a bad diet.

Oh, geez. Way to call me out, anonymous.

I've made a lot of decisions over the past month or so to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon. Here I go again. This time, I am going to set reasonable goals just for the coming week, which happens to be the lead-up to my first and longest race of the fall season.

My food commitments for the week beginning Monday, August 26, are:
  1. to buy sufficient salad fixings for at least one meal per day,
  2. to not eat any fast food, despite the fact that I will be traveling (a time I usually let myself "cheat" continuously), and
  3. to not drink more than one soda per day (I think I am more caffeine addicted that I realize, so going cold turkey on this one just won't work).
I'll report back on my eating on September 2.

Are there any particular situations in which you find it easy to make poor food choices?
Do I have any fellow fast food junkies out there?

No Watch

I went for a run this evening without my trusty Garmin. It was such a relief not to check my pace constantly.

My iPod timer was set for 30 minutes. When the ducks quacked at me, I turned around and headed back to my car. The only goal I had was to get back to my car in less than 30 minutes. That would count as negative splits, right? I didn't quite make my goal but I was only off by about 30 seconds.

When I got home, I did map my run but it was an estimate at best since my turnaround point was in the middle of the trail rather than at a landmark that was clearly visible via skylight. I think I did about 4.9 miles, which means that, even without my watch, I came incredibly close to hitting my training pace. Of course, I don't know my splits, which is intensely liberating.

There were a lot of people biking the trail and a bunch of teenage boys who appeared to be training for cross country. It probably didn't boost his ego but it was sort of fun to pass one of the young'uns.

Since I haven't followed my training plan well, I'm getting a little worried about my upcoming race. Unless something crazy happens, I am quite sure I will be able to finish in the allotted time. And I know that I'm not supposed to have a time goal for a race distance I've never run before but I'd really like to not finish just under the wire.

I guess we'll see what happens...

Google+ Comments

I'm going to miss you, Google+ comments. Your interface was pretty and easily used. The problem is that you force my friends to join your ranks in order to comment on my blog. Many of my friends have already done so but I have no interest in excluding those who haven't. So... this is good-bye, until you find a way to not be so exclusive.

Yes, I Took That Photo

Great Point Lighthouse, Nantucket, MA
Around this time four years ago, I was flitting around the beaches of Nantucket with three kids and their mom. I was the nanny.

My two favorite things were Great Point (shown above) and Bartlett's Farm.

Often, when I had a little time off and access to the car, I would drive the few miles down the road to the Farm to get a gigantic carrot cake muffin and some expensive Voss sparkling water. Then I would head to the beach and enjoy it while watching the surf.

Great Point was a little more complicated. A four-wheel drive vehicle was necessary. There was a ritual involved of deflating the SUV's tires to drive out on the sand and re-inflating just before getting back on pavement. Once you were there, though, you knew it was well worth the effort to enjoy the peace and beauty of this place that seemed so far from civilization. Unfortunately, I couldn't go by myself...

Thus ends my reminiscence.

Just Brunch

What do you blog about when the social activities you've participated in that day were a quick stop at the farmer's market and brunch with your roommate and a few friends?

I guess there could be a long philosophical post about some important topic but I'm just not into that.

Instead, I'll mention that with six dollars in cash, the only thing I cared about was finding the one tomato stand that gives free samples and, therefore, clearly has the best tomatoes. Seriously, they are scrumptious.

Then I'll note that I bought three heads of garlic with my last dollar. Tomatoes and garlic... definitely staples in my book.

Since this post hasn't put me to sleep, I'll mention that brunch at Marie Louise was pleasant. Then I will regale you with descriptions of the gorgeous French toast I ate and Orchard Tea, which seemed to be a fancier version of the Long Island Iced Tea, I drank. And then I will make a joke about how you all shouldn't worry because my roommate was driving.

When they still looked and sounded like real people.
Then, I'll pretend that the rest of the day that I spent aprawled in a comfy chair in my bedroom, watching Supernatural, playing solitaire, and checking Facebook didn't exist even though I really enjoyed those parts, too.

With that out of the way, I'll go back to watching Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki "saving people, hunting things. The family business"