Friday, April 30, 2010

Flying Pig 10k

Training is over and race day is on the horizon!

We're leaving this afternoon for Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. I'll run the 10k on Saturday morning, Eleanor will run the Kids' Fun Run (25 yards) on Saturday afternoon, and Keith and my mother-in-law Karen will run the entire Flying Pig Marathon on Sunday morning.

Last year, the Flying Pig 10k was my first race since having Eleanor. I was woefully out of shape. I finished in just over 70 minutes, which is a pace of 11:20 minutes/mile. That's slow, even for me. The good news is that I ran the half-marathon the following fall in just over 11 minutes/mile. Still not fast, but faster, and over double the distance.

I was disappointed with how crappy and slow I felt during the half-marathon. Plus, I ran the half-marathon on Sunday and we left for Costa Rica on Wednesday. Then Winter happened. So, without realizing it, I just stopped running.

On the plus side, however, since mid-January I've been working out 5 times a week. I've had a few off weeks, but only a few. My eating has been good and bad, but the workouts have been remarkably consistent. Since mid-March, those workouts have included 3 days of running per week: 1 tempo run (slightly faster than normal), 1 speedwork session (running short distance repeats much faster than normal), and 1 long run (plodding pace). I've done everything I can, training wise, to prepare for the race.

So now I'm to the point where I try to predict the outcome. I've adopted Keith's method of coming up with three different goal times. The first is the baseline level—the very worst time that you could still be okay with, even without severe food poisoning/cramping/other extenuating circumstances. The next is your real goal, which you think is feasible even if it's a bit challenging. The third is your wildest dreams goal: the one where all of the conditions would have to be perfect to achieve it.

For me, for this race, the lowest goal is merely to finish faster than last year. If I finish the race in 1:10:21 (a second faster than last year), this goal will be met. This is really shooting low, however, because last year's race was one of the slowest paces of ANY race, 5k to half-marathon, that I've had in the past 6 years. I've only run one race slower, and that one did involve extenuating circumstances, primarily insane heat and humidity.

My real goal is to run a 10:15 or 10:20 pace, which would mean finishing in about 64 minutes. I would be incredibly pleased with this result. It would mean that I've made huge strides since last year, and it would be in line with many of my other races. In actuality, my best 10k result ever was a 10:21 pace, so beating that would be very exciting. Based on my tempo runs and speedwork, I think this is a possibility.

My crazy goal would be to finish in under an hour. This would be a huge long shot, because that would mean a 9:39 pace. I've only run less than a 10:00 pace a handful of times, and they all happened the summer before I got pregnant, when I was training really hard for my first half-marathon. The stars really would have to align perfectly, the course would need to be straight downhill (it's not), and I would also require a formidable wind at my back to make this happen. So I'm not planning on anything close to this ... but I can dream.

Wish us all luck!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Getting Better All the Time

Becoming a parent is a frightening thing. No matter what age, or how parenthood comes about, nearly everyone I know is awed and scared of the responsibilities involved.

Now that Eleanor's 21 months old, it's hard to even remember what I was thinking when I was pregnant. Particularly because all of my preconceptions went out the window after, oh, maybe 24 hours of being a parent. Whatever I was thinking, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I do know that I was a little worried about how I would relate to a newborn. I've worked with school-aged children from 5 up to high school, so I knew that I would be okay once the child was reading and counting. But such a tiny baby? What do you do? What is required?

Eleanor's first 6 months were really, really rough. I didn't feel like a very good mom at all. I was tired, frustrated, and depressed all the time. I couldn't handle constantly being at her beck and call ... when even she didn't know what she needed! I felt like every time I learned how to do something, the situation would change. I was never getting ahead, always doing everything wrong.

I felt like a terrible mother, even though I was trying my best. And to be a terrible mother is the worst failure of all. Because this was the first time that I wouldn't just be disappointing myself, but also a small, helpless creature who was completely dependent on my abilities and compassion to keep her alive.

This sounds really depressing, doesn't it? Because it was, at the time. It was really difficult, because I felt like I was always going to be a terrible mother. I would constantly be doubting my abilities and whether Eleanor was getting all of the love and attention that she needed and deserved.

But things slowly changed. We'd had a really difficult time with breastfeeding, and we phased that out by 8 months. Eleanor was eating better, sleeping through the night, and developing her own personality. She started calling me "Mama," and actually seemed to be a relatively happy, well-adjusted baby.

Finally, as we get closer to Eleanor's 2nd birthday, I can accept that I'm really a very good mom. I'm not a very good mother of a newborn, and I'm okay with that. There's a lot about such a small baby that stresses me out, from the lack of sleep to the complete unpredictability of every day. With that obviously being the first experience as a parent, I was worried. Would it all be like this?

But it's not. I wasn't a particularly happy mother of a newborn, but I'm a kick-ass toddler mom. And just wait until she's reading! We're going to have so much fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a Blessing ... and a Curse

A few weeks ago, I bought a book about running for Keith, since he was in the midst of marathon training. It wasn't a training manual, though, but more of a writer's thoughts about the act of running. In What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami ruminates on what running has meant to him throughout his life, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Why does he consider himself a runner? What does that mean? What traits set runners apart from others?

How do I know that's what the book is about, when it was a present for Keith? Because I gave it to him, and promptly stole it off his nightstand and started reading it. Keith did steal it back a few days later, so I'm not very far into it. But I've already read quite a few ideas that have stuck with me.

In particular, Murakami talks about why he started running regularly. Pretty much, when he quit tending bar and started writing full-time, he also started to put on some weight and wasn't happy about it. Unlike his wife, who could eat whatever she wanted and never gain a pound, he sat at a computer all day and his waist was expanding. So he started running.

This is pretty typical. What I found refreshing—and challenging—was how he turned his slowing metabolism and new-found love for running into such a positive. He argued that those of us (and I am definitely included in this group) whose bodies are more sensitive to bad influences like the lack of exercise and an overabundance of unhealthy food are actually the lucky ones. We have motivation to change our bad habits because we dislike the way we look and feel. People whose bodies don't reflect their unhealthy lifestyle are much less likely to change, and will be more unhealthy in the long run. In Murakami's words:
But when I think about it, having the kind of body that easily puts on weight was perhaps a blessing in disguise [....] Life can be tough, but as long as you don't stint on the effort, your metabolism will greatly improve with these habits, and you'll end up much healthier, not to mention stronger [....] For the reasons I give above, I think this physical nuisance should be viewed in a positive way, as a blessing. We should consider ourselves lucky that the red light is so clearly visible. Of course, it's not always so easy to see things this way.
I agree with so much about this attitude. Both that it's healthy and affirmative to see my body's sensitivity to food and exercise as a blessing .... and that it's a very difficult attitude to maintain. I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Not-Quite Pajamas

Old Sweatshirts by Nate KaySince I started teaching part-time, my morning routine has been adapting to being up several hours before going to work. I can't stay in my pajamas to run errands or take a walk. But I'm also not going to get dressed for work and go play in Eleanor's clubhouse.

I've ended up with a very predictable outfit. I think of it as not quite pajamas, but pretty close. I pull on an old, baggy pair of jeans with the knees worn out. (Playing on the floor with Eleanor has meant the first time I've legitimately worn out my knees in a long time!) Then I put on a t-shirt and a hand-me-down gray, hooded sweatshirt. The outfit is completed with ratty old tennis shoes.

I wear this pretty much every workday. I mean, I only wear it for an hour or two, three days a week, so that still adds up to less than a full day's wear, right? The only problem is if I run into the same people on our walks or errands, and they start to notice. I don't think anyone has, though. Probably we pay much less attention to other's apparel than we do to our own.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nosy Neighbors

A few weeks ago, Keith went to bed early, even though it was Saturday night, because he wasn't feeling good in an allergy/cold kind of way. I joined him in bed a little after 11 o'clock. I was having trouble falling asleep, tossing and turning, when I opened my eyes nearly a half-hour later to see bright, flashing lights streaking across our ceiling.

When I saw the lights, it clicked in the back of my mind that I had heard sirens a few minutes ago, but they weren't right outside our house. I immediately poked Keith and crept out of bed to peer between the window blind slats. I knew that Keith would want to be up, because he's usually more of a nosy neighbor than I am. When we hear raised voices outside, he turns down the radio/TV to find out if people are arguing or not. What can I say? He's just a naturally curious person.

Gomez also kept us company at the window, while Beckett was completely uninterested. He revelled in having the bed all to himself.

So there we were, me, Keith,and Gomez, peering out through the blinds. The attention was focused on a house directly across the street, but we couldn't figure out what was going on. There were three fire trucks and an ambulance, but we didn't see any smoke or flames. Maybe it was a false alarm?

Watching the commotion, it made me realize again how little we know about this neighbor. He's older, with a flowing white beard and hair pulled back in a ponytail. We know this, because we've seen him. We also know that he drinks, because we've seen him weaving down the street, and heard him in the middle of the night. Not all the time, but more than once. The rest of what we "know" is conjecture and hearsay: he was in the Vietnam War and has never been the same since. He lived in the house with his mother, who recently passed away. She had a huge sum of money, yet lived in a modest house on a quiet, modest street. The house had been falling into serious disrepair for some time, with a dilapidated roof and overgrown shrubberies. In the past year or so, however, its appearance has improved. The roof was replaced, the shrubberies cut back and maintained.

This is what I was thinking about as we watched a firefighter lead our neighbor down the driveway to the back of the ambulance. He was walking on his own, holding onto one of the firefighter's arms. He sat in the back of the ambulance, which didn't move, so I hoped that meant he wasn't in too bad of shape.

We turned our attention back to the house. At this point, groups of firefighters had been surveying the house from all different sides. Finally they put up ladders to the second floor and started breaking windows. For the first time, we saw smoke come pouring out of the windows, and a few flames.

After that, the excitement of it was over pretty quickly. They threw some burning items (I saw a table, I know that for sure!) out of a window into the backyard, and the smoke disapated. I thought I could smell it on the air, but that may have just been my imagination. We went back to bed, although not to sleep; the sound of sawing and hammering filled the air as they boarded up the broken windows.

And now, nearly two weeks later, the house looks the same. It surprised me, the day after the fire, how little had changed. The windows were boarded up, and a smoky window blind lay half on the porch roof, half draped down the side of the house. But otherwise, it still looked the same. New roof, well-trimmed landscape.

One recent change is the dumpster that is now parked in the driveway. I've seen insurance company cars and workers' vans come and go, but the outside remains the same. What are they going to do with the house? Will he move back in? Are any of his belongings salvageable?

What is the point of this long, rambling post? I think this incident signified, for me, how the exterior can sometimes be such a poor indicator of what's happening inside. From the outside, the house still looks completely liveable. But who knows what it looks like inside?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Asychronous Relationships

if only... by briPodI've been having issues with my Gmail lately. I've been getting and sending emails without a problem. The issue is with my chat status.

Any gmail users know that, when you log in to your email, you are automatically logged in to Google Chat as well. I have issues with this, because most of the time I'm lucky if I can squeeze in reading my latest emails and answering one or two of the older/urgent ones, much less settling in for a chat.

So, as a rule, I set my chat status to "invisible" so no one knows when I'm online. (Now you'll be wondering, won't you? The next time you open your gmail and I'm listed as offline—am I really?!?) If I decide I do have time to chat, I might send a message, but I hardly ever change my status to available.

But last week, gmail started flaking on me. As far as I knew, my status was invisible. But I started getting messages from others; so once I logged in, I thought I was invisible but I was showing up as available to others. Then I felt like a jerkface because my immediate, knee-jerk response was panic. "AH! I don't have time to chat! What am I going to say?!?" It felt like things were out of my control. And we all know how *ahem* well I do with things out of my control.

It reminds me of how much I prefer email to making phone calls. I'm really, really bad at calling people. It's the unpredictability of it. How long with the call last? Do I have time for this? Does the other person really want a phone call? What if he or she just settled in with a good book and nice glass of wine, and I'm disturbing that?

I find it so much easier to send emails. I'm not the only one like this, right? It doesn't mean that I don't love you, and that I don't like talking to people. It's just that I can do it at any hour of the day, and take as much or as little time as I currently have available. And then the recipient can respond in kind. Is that so wrong?

Sometimes I'm amazed that anyone still wants to be friends with me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cheat Days

Sugar by Uwe HermannRight, so. I ate refined sugar this weekend. But I don't really know what to call it. I wouldn't say that I "fell off the wagon" because it was sort of a planned event.

It was a pretty exciting weekend for us. My parents watched Eleanor from Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon, so Keith and I went out for a leisurely dinner on Saturday evening, full of adult conversation and even occasional silence. Then we came home, watched a movie, and slept in on Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon, we picked up Eleanor from my parents and then went to my friend's house for her daughter's first birthday party. When I stopped eating refined sugar, I knew about our plans for this weekend. So I had already struck the bargain with myself, "If you can make it a whole week without eating sugar, then you can have cake and pop at the party."

So that's what I did. I had decided it beforehand, and had also decided that I wasn't going to let the "cheat day" get too out of hand. I ate well all day Saturday, until dinner. At dinner, I didn't even drink gallons of Coke, but just had one beer instead. (This may not sound like restraint to you, but trust me, it is!) At the party, I had one 12 oz can of Coke and shared one piece of cake plus ice cream with Eleanor. Then, Sunday night, with Keith's help I chopped veggies and cooked chicken breasts and got prepared for another week of clean eating. It all went according to plan.

Except, I just don't know how I feel about it. I can't decide what my policy is on cheat days. I mean, I do believe that I need to accept that, at times, I will be less than perfect in my eating. I need to know that it's okay to slip up once in a while, or else whenever it happens I'll get very frustrated and only make things worse.

But what is "once in a while?" Once a week? Once a month? Do planned cheat days even make sense? Maybe I should just take them when I'm having a really bad day.

FitGeGe: What do you do?

I do feel a certain amount of pressure to have this all figured out RIGHT NOW so that I give myself the optimal opportunity for success, this 237th time of trying to eat healthier. I'm afraid that, if I take the wrong strategy about cheat days, I'll be back here next week to confess that I'm back to drinking pop every day, feeling like crap, and have just completely given up. I do want to try, but at this moment I don't know if I can trust myself to stay away from the sugar.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Little Choice

My friends, I have been nearly sugar free for about 5 and a half days--since Sunday morning.

By "nearly" sugar free I mean that I've been following a pretty strict eating plan until dinner, and then eating with my family. During the day I've been having:
  • Breakfast: Smoothie made of protein powder, skim milk, flaxseed, fresh fruit, and ice
  • Morning snack: chocolate soy milk and lowfat cottage cheese
  • Lunch: salad with chicken and other veggies (cucumber, carrot, mushrooms, bell peppers) and an oil-based (not creamy) dressing
  • Afternoon snack: handful of raw nuts, either walnuts or almonds
  • Drinks: regular tea or water
And that's it! For dinner we've had pasta or last night was steak and asparagus. Monday night Keith made some spicy chicken wraps with lettuce and whole wheat tortillas. Tonight we're having turkey burgers on whole wheat buns with a side of sweet potato fries.

I'm not sure how long this will continue. Why am I doing it? Because I'm tired of feeling tired and without energy, and without control over my cravings. I know that I eat refined sugar all the time and that it needs to stop.

I've been saying this for a long time, and for some reason I actually did something about it on Sunday. I'm not really sure why it was different. Maybe it was the fact that we went out for pizza on Saturday night, and I inadvertently drank so much Coke that I felt ill? Or maybe it's the fact that Eleanor now points to my can/bottle/glass and says, "Coke!" and wants to drink what Mommy's drinking, instead of her milk or water.

On the other hand, I have tried to eat better before and failed. Will this time be any different? One difference that might work in my favorite is, oddly enough, that it is so strict. Never before have I tried to cut out refined sugar; I've just said that I won't drink pop (but I'll still eat Oreos), or tried to reduce my overall calorie consumption.

I felt miserable for the first few days. I didn't feel deprived; I've rarely been physically hungry. But I had headaches and felt more tired and achy than ever. I'm doing better today, but I still don't feel great. Where is the boundless energy and enthusiasm that is supposed to come with quitting sugar?!? I'm waiting!

I need some kind of reinforcement to convince me to keep eating like this. I hope to stick with it for at least another week, and hopefully by then I'll start feeling the positive effects instead of just the negative effects of sugar withdrawal.

I've said so many times that I wanted to eat healthier—just be a healthier person in general. We'll see if I'm ready to take that plunge or not!

Too Many Choices

I hate Costco. There, I've said it!

I know many, many people who are big Costco fans. (Are there Costco stores in the UK or New Zealand? It is a big warehouse store, where you have to buy a membership to shop there, presumably saving much more money over the course of a year than an annual membership costs.) I've been trying, but so far I'm not convinced.

Being a warehouse store, of course, the place is huge. The carts are huge. Everything you get comes in bulk. Why buy one frozen pizza when you can get five? 10 gallons of soup at one low price!!!

Everything seems like such a good deal. Even if I go in with a short list, I buy much more than what's on it because our Costco is inconvenient for us to get to, and so I space out Costco trips as much as possible. So I always figure that, if I see something I want, I'd better go ahead and buy it now because it might be awhile before I come back.

There's too many choices. It's overwhelming! And I'm constantly trying to do math in my head to figure out if they really are good deals or not. Guess what? I was an English major. Math is not my strong suit. It just makes my head hurt.

Eleanor and I went earlier this week (necessitating this rant, of course!) and I came armed with a list and coupons. I didn't think I went too far off the list, although I did pick up a few items that are perennial favorites in our house. Some things I only bought because I had the coupons, and with the coupons they would be worth it. BUT, when I got to the register, I learned that the coupons weren't valid until 2 days later. WHY does Costco send coupons out to its members, like, 2 months before they are usable?!? It drives me crazy.

So every time I go, I spend $100-200, in addition to my regular grocery shopping. I always tell myself that I'm spending money now to save money in the long run. But I'm not really sure that I've ever seen that eventual savings.

Maybe I'm just not doing a good enough job of accounting for how the money is spent. Maybe if I tracked every penny, I would be convinced. But right now, I'm thinking that I will not be renewing the membership next year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Who Am I?

A few weeks ago, I read the "Just a Mom" post at the Clover Lane blog. She talks about whether she calls herself a Stay At Home Mom versus "just a Mom" versus talking about working "outside the home." It's about the whole idea of what is the "right" term, and what do each of these phrases convey about being a mother.

It raised the question for me, once again: What do I consider myself?

Then, while I was already mulling this over, Keith and I watched a recent episode of the new show "Parenthood" (which we are really enjoying), and it came up again. It's a story about four grown siblings with their own families. One of the siblings is a woman who is constantly working overtime as a lawyer, while her husband is the Stay at Home Dad to their elementary school-aged daughter. Every week, I go back and forth as to whether I like the workaholic lawyer or not. Is she a workaholic or is she just doing what she needs to, to support her family?

In this particular episode, everyone is at an auction to benefit the school. She is bidding on a prize against another mother and, as the bidding escalates, one of her siblings questions who the other woman is. Lawyer Mom whispers back, "I know! It's not even like she works!" ... forgetting that she was holding a microphone for the bidding process. It was a well-directed, excruciating moment. And I couldn't decide who I empathized with.

I realized that my gut reaction was actually on the side of Lawyer Mom. But that realization gave me a moment's pause. Hadn't I always said that I wanted to be a SAHM? If we could have afforded it, I wouldn't be working at all?

Of course, that isn't how it went. Luckily, I had a very understanding boss and had the opportunity to work from home for awhile and then only work part-time in the office. Once she left, I got lucky a second time and was hired as a part-time English professor at a community college. In some ways, I feel lucky that I never had to make that black and white choice of "working mom" or "stay at home mom," because I'm a bit of both.

And now that I've spent time living in the gray area, having whole days home with Eleanor, and also having 8-hour workdays, I don't think that I could give up either one. It's very important to me that I'm Eleanor's main caregiver. We're together every morning, for at least a few hours, and I usually tuck her into bed 6 nights a week. I know what foods she likes, what is her current favorite book or activity, and what she's asking for when she wants to go to the "yado" (window). We go to music class, and the store, and sometimes we don't go anywhere at all. I cherish our time together, and watching her grow up in front of my eyes.

But. I will be the first person to acknowledge that I think being a SAHM is really hard work. Not having 5 minutes to myself all day, should Eleanor decide to go without her nap. Making food, cleaning up the kitchen, entertaining Eleanor, changing diapers, doing laundry, picking up toys ... over and over and over again. Nothing is ever done because it's undone as soon as I turn my back. Trying to get anything done and keeping Eleanor occupied at the same time is usually impossible and an exercise in frustration. Wondering, at the end of the day, what I've actually accomplished?

On the other hand, it's always so much easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel with paid employment. For starters, you get a paycheck! And with teaching, it's even more pronounced. A semester starts with a fresh syllabus of readings and writing assignments and lesson plans. At the end of the semester, readings have been discussed, writing has been graded, lessons have been taught. Students either pass or fail, and it's time for a fresh, new syllabus. I appreciate being seen as a professional with expertise and the ability to impart useful knowledge. My students may not always be convinced that it's useful or necessary, but I try to convince them of that, too.

The path used to be so clear. Working outside the home, for many women, just wasn't an option. But then feminism questioned the wisdom of such a forced lifepath, and other options opened up. For awhile, it seems that every woman was expected to work outside the home and bring home a paycheck, just like the men.

I feel like we've arrived at a place where either, or both, option seems equally valid and yet incomplete. I don't know yet what the right answer is. The only conclusion I've been able to draw is that the right answer is different for every mother. In real life, I've met very few women who are either all Lawyer Mom or SAHM. Most of us are trying to find the right balance of mothering and professional work to make us feel like good mothers, valued workers, and balanced women. It's a balance that can change on a daily basis, often seeming just out of reach.

I am very grateful to have the opportunity to even ask the question: Who am I? What do I want? At times, I just wish the answer were a little easier to define.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Music: Ben Sollee

In keeping with the idea of being more of a music evangelist, here's a song from Ben Sollee. Keith recently introduced me to his music as a surprise. Keith's mom was visiting and, on a random Thursday night, he whisked me out of the house to a concert I knew nothing about. The opening band, Family of the Year, blew me away. But it only got better with the headliner, Dear Companion. Dear Companion is made up of two solo artists, Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. They're both from Kentucky, and teamed up to raise money to stop mountain top mining.

Unfortunately, being me, I only made it halfway through Dear Companion's set before I asked Keith to take me home. I didn't want to embarrass myself by falling off the bar stool, half asleep. I know! I'm so old.

Since the show, however, we've been listening to both Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore's solo stuff, as well as Dear Companion tunes. I really enjoy all of it, particularly Ben Sollee's, and am looking forward to the next time they come through town. Hopefully I'll be well rested and ready to enjoy the entire set.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

It's Been Cold and Lonely in Cyberspace

Fellow Bloggers,

Please keep in mind that, if you have installed specific site tracking code on your blog, when you change the design template you also need to remember to manually add that side tracking code back in.

Since my big blog update on March 23, I haven't had any traffic tracking capabilities since I inadvertently wiped out the javascript I had installed for both Site Meter and Google Analytics. (Why both, you ask? Because I haven't yet made up my mind which I prefer. And this blip isn't helping.)

It's been a sad, sad thing to see that no one has visited my site for two weeks. Even though I know that's not true; there's been plenty of comments to show me otherwise. But for the record, this past fortnight will forever be considered the worst since I first set cursor to blank blog entry page.

It irks me. Like many bloggers (I'd assume, anyway), I use the stats to reassure myself that people are reading my blog, and to spur myself to post more, post better, just go ahead and post already instead of dithering about it. It's interesting to see what search terms land people on my blog (broken finger, anyone?), and if any of those random visits ever last longer than a few seconds. Every time I see a new Follower in the list, it warms my heart and inspires me.

I realized about a week ago that I needed to re-install my site tracking code, but just got around to it tonight. So for a week, I've been thinking about all of those lost stats. All those visits, random search strings, enthralled readers from around the world that I will never know about...

So yes, if you decide to update your theme, bring your tracking code with you. I understand that I may not have missed out on quite as much traffic as I'd like to believe, but I'd rather know the numbers than wonder!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Not Wrinkle Free

Related to yesterday's birthday post, I went to the drugstore earlier this week to get face moisturizer.

I'm a naturally pale person. I'm so pale that, after getting the best tan of my life on our honeymoon in Mexico, a few months later the dermatologist told me, "Wow! Your skin looks great for being in the Caribbean so recently!" Which is dermatologist speak for, "You don't look tan at all!"

Eventually, I just accepted my natural state, and wear sunscreen at all times. At least on my face and neck. If I'm not going to get tan anyway, I can at least try to prevent sun damage, right?

So yeah, new face moisturizer with sunscreen. That's all I wanted. But it took me at least 10 minutes to pick out something, because EVERYTHING was anti-aging.

When I was younger, I remember there being a million skin products for teen-aged, acne-prone skin. That seemed like the majority of the skincare section. But now that's a tiny corner of the vast shelves holding anti-aging serums, wrinkle-erasing creams, and skin-plumping moisturizers. They all have long, complicated, scientific-sounding names.They list many ingredients that are supposed to make you look 20-something again, overnight!

I don't want to look like I'm 20-something. I'm fine with being 32. I know that the wrinkles are creeping in around my eyes, but I don't think laugh lines are something that need to be erased.

All I want is moisturizer with sunscreen that doesn't feel too heavy. I don't want the last 10 years chemically removed from my visage. Is that so weird?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today I am 32 years old. Amazing how young that seems, now that I've arrived there. Because whatever age we are, "old" is at least 10 years past that, right?

No big plans for my birthday. I'm working most of the day. This evening, Keith promised to make me homemade pizza because I've been craving it all week. He also made me promise to not grade essays, work on lesson plans, etc. this evening. I hope I can stick to that promise without too much trouble.

This (pizza, movie, relaxing at home) has been my birthday celebration for the past few years. I'm okay with not making a big deal out of my birthday. But I do find myself wondering, as I get older, will I want to celebrate it more? Like, maybe I won't be very happy about getting a year older, so I'll need a big party to psych myself up and be okay with getting into my mid-30s, early 40s, and on upward?

For 32, however, I think homemade pizza and a movie suit me just fine. Not to mention the weather here is gorgeous and good-mood-inspiring. May everyone have a good Friday, and enjoy my birthday! :)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Music Evangelist

Last Sunday evening, Keith and I went to a Bob Schneider concert. We couldn't decide if this was the 3rd or 4th time we've seen him in concert; we know we went once in Cincinnati, and then another 2 or 3 times here since we moved up to Cleveland.

Even though we own several of Bob's albums and always go to see him in concert whenever he's coming through, both of my sisters were like, "Bob Who?" And I was a little surprised at myself that I had apparently never tried harder to convert them to Bob Schneider fans.

Bob's concerts are amazing. There's bands that I like to see because I love all of their music (Gomez), and every song holds meaning for me because I've listened to them so many times. We all have bands like that, where their concerts are an experience outside of normal life.

For some people, Bob's concerts might be like that. But what is more impressive to me is that, whether you're familiar with his music or not, if you enjoy going to concerts you will LOVE seeing Bob Schneider live. More so than any other performer I've seen, he engages the audience. He tailors the music and between-songs chatting to that particular night, in that particular city, at that particular moment. He makes jokes, takes requests, dances, drinks, and engages the audience the entire time.

Some performers prefer being in the studio, reluctantly dragged onto tour by their agents to drum up fan support. Bob Schneider is not one of those people. You can tell that he feeds off the audience's energy, and his performance is amazing and different every time.

There's not many bands that I've ever been tempted to follow, but Bob is one act that I would love to see, several nights in a row, to see what kind of show he puts on. I think that it would be different, and entertaining, every time.


Right, so. Bob is awesome. And how is it that I had never really mentioned his name or his music to my close family and friends? I don't want to be that person who's constantly pushing everyone around me to like whatever I like at that moment.

But surely, if I like something that I think certain other people would enjoy (not necessarily everyone in the world), then shouldn't I mention it to them? Send a link or make a mix CD? Should I be more of an evangelist for the music that I enjoy, or does that just drive people crazy?