Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I learned how to peel a clove of garlic in 10 seconds. 10 second to peel the clove. Not 10 seconds to learn.

Following yesterday's realization of HOLY CRAP ONLY 45 DAYS UNTIL RACE DAY! I am now thinking, "Wait... 45 days is a lot of time. A lot of runs. A lot of stuff that's going to happen between now and then and panicking? Not helpful."

The closer I get to this thing, the calmer and more in control of it I feel. The marathon is happening. I'm training, I feel pretty good, and I'm gonna be fine.

Funny stories for today....

I went out for a run with The One Who Makes Me Seem Inadequate By Comparison (But Who Is Really Nice So Just Deal With It) after class, and since it's all about-to-be-winter, it was dark way before we were done. I actually really like night running as long as I don't feel like I might be chased by bears.

But the point here is, that when I got back from my run, I walked into the Collective House and was hit by the most goddawful smell of my entire life. I rounded the corner to the kitchen, opened my mouth, and before I could say anything, Catface Meowmers said, "The microwave caught fire. Save you asking."

The Collective House was built in the fifties, and had a microwave-over-stove thing happening which we didn't question, and apparently it caught fire, with smoke and actual flames. So like rational adults, members of the Collective tried to cut the power to it. Only to find - this is my favorite part - there was no breaker for it. The Bearcat-Catbear turned off every breaker on the panel, and they stood in complete darkness... save for the comforting glow of the microwave.

So then the next option was "Take the microwave down and just unplug it." So with some grunting, and some cursing, and some powertools, the UberTransFan got it down to the stove, we clapped and cheered, happy in the knowledge that we would not die in our sleep, except...

It was wired directly into the wall. No plug. Just some as-previously-established LIVE wires, coming out of the wall and into the back of the microwave.

Luckily we know a JOAT with electrical skills, and he happens to be a nice enough guy to come and help us. We gave him money and dinner and the general Collective consensus is that he's our hero.

And then this morning I got my haircut, and I have to live with everyone's faces for a couple of days until they realize that the words "You have to give it a few days to figure itself out" aren't just things I'm saying, it's true. I think it has something to do with the combination of blowdrying and those rolly-brushes that Chris always uses. I mean, I'm not one to question her expertise - I mean, I call them rolly-brushes and I'm sure they have a name - but my hair doesn't look good when you do that.

I can't wait till it gets a bit cooler. I'm so ready for my fall/winter wardrobe. Leather jackets. Scarves. Knit hats. My apple hat has been calling to me for months. Soon I will be able to answer its call.

But for now, time to go talk about Marxist criticism some more. No, not criticize things Marxistly. Actually talk about Marxist criticism. This semester is drastically changing the way I read, between Critical Analysis in the Study of Literature and Writing Fiction Workshops.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Excellent Cover

I've got a lot of reading to do, so I'm not gonna write a real post today, but I think this is awesome:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tour to Tanglewood 2011: A Recap (Of Sorts)

So, a while back, I was sitting in the locker room after a Pirates game and talking to one of the guys about how, like a bum, I'd bully-borrowed a bike from The Librarian and was using it to excess because it was so fun.

So then the guy - I'll call him The Llama Pirate cause he has llamas and is a Pirate - says, "Oh, you should ride with us in the Tour to Tanglewood MS benefit in September."

This was very far away from September.

I of course said, "Ok," because I didn't know about September yet, and one vague plan seemed just as good as another, nevermind that The Librarian's bike wasn't at all suited for a 30+ mile road ride (I did them anyways on it because I was desperate for exercise when I couldn't run and I didn't know any better).

So then I kinda forgot about it. Except The Llama Pirate didn't let me. And then there was a Groupon for half off the entry fee, so I couldn't even say I was too poor to do it, and I was on the team and I had a jersey and then suddenly BAM - the ride was Next Weekend, and the only reason I knew that was because my normal Sunday ride was cancelled since everyone else was riding in it.

It's a two-day ride, which I did not realize, and I couldn't do Saturday because of marathon training (16 miles! Longest run yet and didn't feel awful at all!). Llama Pirate said that was OK, some other people on the team were only doing one day or the other, and Be There On Sunday Before 8 Because We Roll Out At 8 KThxBye.

I stayed at my parents' on Saturday night so I wouldn't have to drive so far so early in the morning, and I had multiple tear-through-the-car freakouts: "Did I bring my helmet? (Yes.) Did I bring my shoes? (Yes.) Did I bring my bike? (Yes.) Did I bring Gu? (No.)" I was worried, even as I fell into an exhausted sleep at 9:30, about whether or not the knots in my legs from my run would loosen up.

I was a tad nervous. I understood intellectually that it wasn't really a race-race, but then, the marathon isn't a race-race, and I'm nervous about it anyways. I think it had more to do with being there alone, without any of my normal bike buddies there. I didn't have the Bike Dad telling me that all my shit was together and I was fine; I didn't have to tell the Bike Project to calm the fuck down and stop trying to help. It was all a bit out of balance in my head. I kept thinking I was going to screw up and be this total bike-noob-dweeb.

I mean, I spent a good twenty minutes stressing about my clips and the fact that I was, with 100% certainty, going to fall flat on my face the minute I tried to clip in at the start, nevermind that I haven't fallen in clips since the first time I put them on and I skinned my knee then and not my face.

I managed to get there with all of my stuff, sans Gu even though I tried to buy some, and my nerves continued to manifest themselves by stuffing little mini cinnamon rolls into my mouth, even though I had already eaten my breakfast and wasn't hungry. (Mini cinnamon rolls, dude.)

I was nervous right up until the minute my team lined up at the start and pushed off. And then, suddenly, just like that, it was all OK.

And it stayed OK for fifty miles. Five members of our team stuck together and rode it as a team, and even though I was too nervous about my group riding skills to pull until the last leg, I felt... I don't know, kind of cosmic about it all. I was connected to the bike and my legs were working and I felt good and I never fucked up one single thing. We had to pull into the first rest stop to get one of our rider's rear derailer fixed, but after that we just kept going, no stoppage. Every rest stop, we called it down the line: "Do you need to stop?" "No, I'm good. Do you need to stop?" "Nope, let's keep rolling." I'm glad I didn't remember the Gu because I didn't need it, but if I'd had it I probably would have thought I did.

At the end of the fifty miles (Actually, it was 54ish because the course was long. I'm given to understand that yesterday's 50 Mile Course was two miles short, so there may be some reasoning there.) I unclipped like a boss and snared a finishing medal and it was all good. I raised money for a good charity, had a great Sunday bike ride with thousands of other cyclists, and got to take home some swag.

All in all, a good experience that I should never have grumbled about. Next year, I'll definitely remember about it at least 2 weeks in advance.

Edit: This is the link to my donation page. You can continue donating to the National MS Society in my name until October 14th. I don't know why that makes sense to them but it's a good cause so what the hail.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Is it called forgetting if you remembered earlier and decided to forget again?

I was up at 6:22AM to write a paper discussing why Tennyson's Maud was a monodrama and not a dramatic monologue. I did this by referring back to Ulysses, for contrast and also because I really love me some Ulysses. I really love Tennyson in general but, yeah, Ulysses is fun for me.

Not that it makes that much of a fun difference to your morning, but this is my favorite part of the essay:
"The distinction between monodrama and dramatic monologue is important here because Tennyson is also famously the author of what could arguably be the first true dramatic monologue: Ulysses. The difference lies in the narrators and the span of time they are addressing the audience. Ulysses is notably shorter and covers a limited span of time, a single moment of the narrator addressing his audience, even though he speaks of both the past and the future. In contrast, Maud is so expansive that it spans multiple days and, indeed, multiple styles. The tone swoops high into the operatic free verse of Ulysses and then fits itself neurotically into tight, rigid rhyme schemes and still seems barely able to adapt to the twisting mental landscape of the speaker."

Not that it's spectacular writing - or even particularly good writing - it's just that it's early in the morning and I totally-not-on-purpose-forgot that it was due so I could go to Target with the Collective and by the Little Monster some fake food for her new fake kitchen.

I found the best Halloween costume ever while I was there. The early morning wake-up is entirely justified by this picture:
I would have purchased it except that it was $30 and also meant for a toddler. Okay, so the only deciding factor was that it was $30. I'm still convinced that I'll find it online for cheaper than that. That's the problem with being an internet maven. You're always going to be convinced that, whatever it is, you can find it cheaper online.

I did buy a new hat, though. It's been a while since I had a fedora.

This morning's essay partially brought to you by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' album Dig, Lazarus, Dig!, which I totally stole from the Beebe house last time I was petsitting for them. Video prominently featuring a powerful case of Nick Cave's porn star mustache.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

So basically, you know, I'm having dinner.

It's my birthday tomorrow - you might have heard. And all weekend, I'm having dinner.

See, I tend to plan my days around one, maybe two events. That way everything else I need to do can fit into the cracks around those events. So when you make a plan with me, like having dinner, if you make it far enough in advance, chances are you're the only thing on my docket for that day. That isn't to say that I don't have a million other things to do. It just means that everything else is flexible.

Tomorrow I have two things planned, and they're close enough together that even though they don't overlap, it still stresses me out. Bike Dad is taking me mountain biking for the first time (provided the bike gets over its issue, more on that later after I've fixed it because I prefer to post in the aftermath of catastrophe and not during, as you may have noticed) and then the Collective is feeding me the dinner of my choice, which as previously mentioned is tempeh sweet potato curry and saffron rice.

THEN on Saturday I'm going to run 14 miles in High Point in the morning, have corn pancakes at Tex n Shirley's, and at some point (probably following a crashnap) I'll go over M. Chef's house and we'll be making birthday veggie lasagna, my choice following my query/challenge of "How many veggies can you stuff into a lasagna and still have it be lasagna?"

THEN on Sunday I'll be up early for a 60 mile bike/6 mile run, followed by a ride to Winston-Salem to have Family Birthday Dinner, which always sounds like a great time but usually turns out to be kind of upsetting because the answer to "Can't we all just get along?" with my family is generally a wide-eyed, innocent, "What? It isn't my fault we're arguing!" and the Beanie Baby and I wind up sitting in the back room watching Dangermouse while they argue about who started the argument.

But I'll be getting my mom's scratch-made carrot cake and maybe if I stick my fingers in my ears and say, "Lalalala can't hear you it's my birthday," every time they start, it won't happen. I can't hear you, chief, I've got a banana on my head.

I was explaining the hectic-sounding weekend to the UberTransFan and I ended, quite lamely, with, "So basically, you know, I'm having dinner." There was a long, bemused pause, and then I whined, "And they all want to know what kind of cake I want!"

I love cake. But three cakes three nights in a row is a bit much to contemplate.

I got this song in a free Amazon sampler, and I freaking love it:
Apologies for the live video quality. It's all the internet had to offer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"I don't eat food. I eat science."

Two milestones, two mornings in a row:

I ran my first 15 yesterday morning. Officially the longest I've ever run, and I didn't crash or burn. I even successfully downed an Accel Gel mid-run and drank a little Gatorade. I had a stomach cramp for about 5 minutes, but I pretended I didn't and it went away; I also had a little GI issue towards the end (literally in the last mile) but I kept running and told myself that at the marathon, there would be Port-a-Johns for that sort of thing.

I'm really happy that I could do it, considering how slow and crappy I've felt lately. I'm starting to think that maybe I won't get quite the time that I was thinking I would before I got injured, but I'll definitely be able to finish. This Saturday I'm back down to 14, and then next week is my first 16!

I'm gonna keep trying the Accel Gel, because they're the sponsors at Richmond, which means that probably they'll be handing them out at the race. If it's an emergency, I need to know if I can take them or not.

This morning, I rode my first 50+ solo. The tandem ride I did with Bike Dad doesn't really count because I think he helped me out a lot and if I had died, he would have just dragged my ass back in. This was my first ride where it was all on me, to live or die. I did it and I'm happy about that. It was the first part of another rider's 120 mile group ride. She had scheduled a jump-off at mile 57 and I started the ride knowing I was going to take it, no matter how I felt at mile 56. I ate a granola bar before and sucked up an Accel Gel at the mile 30 pit stop.

I honestly think I could have done even better this morning if I didn't have to pee so badly between miles 20 and 30 that I could barely think. After the pit stop, I was riding much better. One of the other riders pulled up beside me and said, "You are an excellent climber. You go up the hills like they're not even there." Which made me happy, and made me even happier when I found out that she did IronMans.

I think the hills are a cross-over thing - I think the leg muscles you use to run are the same ones you need to attack hills, so my status as runner-who-bikes has me at an uphill advantage. I actually find downhills sorta difficult and I've noticed that that's when I tend to fall off the group.

After the marathon, Bike Dad and I are going to train longer distances. I want to bike to Ocracoke Island one day. (That's 272 miles. But part of that is a ferry ride.)

Friday is my birthday. I think I might be finally crawling out of the depressed, anti-social funk I wormed my way into. I hope so because Catface Meowmers is making me tempeh sweet potato curry for my birthday dinner, and I'm going to make funfetti cake the way I like it (shallow pan and almost crunchy), and it would be really awful to be depressed and snappish while eating funfetti cake in between monster servings of curry.

(Seriously, Catface Meowmers' curry is a reason to get up in the morning if you think you don't have one. Especially with saffron rice.)

I have to go feed some cats now.