Friday, December 28, 2007
I know. I should take a nap. A good three-week-long nap. But that's not an option.
So I guess I'll just be Cracklin' Head for a few more days.
I wrote a lovely poem this morning. It was actually an e-mail to the Hubster. He wanted to know if I would be home at a decent hour on New Year's Eve, or if I would have to work late. (He's already accepted that New Year's Day is a full work day for me.) So here's the poem I sent him. The subject line was "New Year's Eve".
so much depends
the newest CD
before the old
I know. I'm keeping the day job for now.
P.S. This is Blog Post #1700.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Our ship date is next week. The software goes out. Things are humming and buzzing along around the office. Gotta get this done, gotta get that done, gotta check these files, gotta double-check those, gotta test, test, test, test, test, and test some more. It's crazy. I'm enjoying it, the same way I enjoy zits.
See, there's something tantalizing about a zit that's ready to pop. Such potential! Such anticipation! Such hope!
At the same time, it hurts and it's ugly, and I'm more than ready for things to get back to normal. We all are. Every last person at this company.
Until then, it's inflamed, red-rimmed, high-pressure business as usual for everyone.
Oh, we did get Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. I had a very nice Christmas with the Hubster, my immediate family, and some of my sister's in-laws. It wasn't a particularly eventful holiday this year. Sadly, I didn't feel particularly spiritual. I think I was just so tired from work. And I was kind of sad that the long hours at work had prevented me from putting very much thought into gift-buying. (Gift-baking and gift-making were definitely out of the realm of possibility this year.) I didn't go to a single Christmas party or Christmas concert because of the work hours and resulting lack of energy. I was wrapping presents the morning of December 24, and we never did get around to mailing out the half-finished Christmas cards Hubster had bought earlier this month.
But I did get to have three wonderful days off with the Hubster. And, even though I would like to have put more thought into gift-buying, I did manage to find gifts I was happy with, and that the recipients seemed happy with. And, thanks to this job that kept me so pre-occupied, I was able to buy the gifts I wanted without worrying that we would have to survive on peppermints and Boy Scout popcorn until the next paycheck.
Yesterday we spent the day at my parents' place in North Carolina, having fun, eating gumbo, exchanging presents, and watching old home videos from the 1960s and 1970s (8-mm video) through the early 1990s (Betamax camera). Much laughter ensued from those videos. The husbands got to see embarrassing footage of my sister and me from the mid-1980s. Oh, joy. Somehow I managed to have short hair AND big hair in the 80s. All at the same time. Amazing.
If I had more energy--or more time (the pressure in the metaphorical zit is ever-building)--I would write more. But writing takes so much effort (at least the way I do it), and right now I'm channeling that energy into Project Pimple at work. And I'm actually enjoying the high-pressure atmosphere--despite its relative disadvantages.
Yes, as exciting as it's been, I'm ready for development season to end. I'm ready to move on to a new season, a new phase--a new zit in the dermis of software development.
I'll let you know when this one's popped.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I knew it was my sister Rebecca's birthday, and that made it an important day. But I knew there was something else ... some other reason that made December 20 an important day.
I'd like to say that I thought about it for hours, but I didn't. I got to work. Nose to grindstone. Gliding through the wonderful world of help files. (We tech writers do that kind of thing.)
Then, at some point this afternoon, I remembered why December 20 is so important:
It's the day I finished my thru-hike.
Methinks I am working too hard.
The good news is ... the crazy development season is almost over! My life will soon return to some semblance of normalcy, and I'll then be able to catch up on the 1,000+ non-spam e-mails in my personal mailbox!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Why did I just see a truck with a sign that had this bold declaration written across the tailgate in big, red letters?
I didn't get to ask the driver, who was tooling his way down the main street of our little Bible-Belt town.
I thought Darwin was too dead to become a creationist. Or anything new, for that matter.
Or maybe the truck driver's name is Darwin, and he (Darwin the truckdriver) is indeed a creationist, and it's a kind of play on words, a kind of joke.
Any ideas, other than that I should start carrying a camera in order to post the occasional odd sight of the day?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
This morning we had snow flurries, and with the wind chill it felt like 18 degrees.
I ran six miles. I'm in training. Again. This six-miler was the first "long run" of training. Long days at the sedentary job have taken their toll on me, and a six-miler was plenty long enough for me.
My third half-marathon will be the ING Georgia race, March 30, 2008. Somehow I am going to manage to get my runs in ... despite the challenge my work hours promise to bring.
Anybody want to join me in training? You can check out my training log here, or click the training log in the right-hand column of this blog.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I'm coming up from the dark, shadowy depths of the work vortex to let my dear friends, the few who still read this blog, know that I am indeed alive and well. Here's the latest ...
PIANO: Conover the piano and I got along famously. Now someone needs to buy our house so we can afford Conover.
I've begun working on a new Prelude and Fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1. This time I'm in Bb-major. Quite a change from the C#-major piece I've been loving for ... yes, two years.
I'm also starting a series of short pieces by Shostakovich, "Seven Dolls' Dances."
WORK: I'm working 55+ hours a week these days. Starting Dec. 31, the work hours diminish a bit, to 54 hours a week--60 if you include
Someone needs to buy our house. The house we want is within walking distance of my cubicle-away-from-home.
Oops ... need to go to a meeting. Such is life these days. Heading back down to the murky depths now ... glub, glub, glub ...
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Someone has to buy our house first.
If you know of anyone looking to buy a summer home in the Smoky Mountains, our house is on the market.
I complain about the cat-hair-covered carpets, but it's really a pretty nice house. Here's our kitchen.
If you know of anyone who's looking for a summer home in the Smoky Mountains with a pretty red kitchen, our house is on the market. Somebody please buy it.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
No, they didn't say that. But they did say, "Hmm ... we're not going below "X" amount. Take it or leave it."
To be honest, their price was a very fair price. So we said, "OK, we'll offer that "X" amount below which you will not go."
And they said, "OK."
Then we said, "If we can sell our house, the one with the messy, mismatched bed and the two cats, we'll be more than happy to buy your house for that price we said we'd buy it for."
So ... now begins the wait, and at a time where home sales are at an unprecedented lull and we're supposedly heading into an economic recession.
Fortunately, people are still buying in our neck of the woods.
I hope someone buys our house soon, even after they realize that the cats don't come with it.
The trunk of my car leaked the other night--for the first time since I had it fixed two summers ago.
I had about $300 worth of piano music in the trunk. Chopin Etudes, my beloved Well Tempered Clavier Vol. 1, Schubert complete impromptus and moments musicaux, Chopin preludes, Chopin nocturnes, Bach two- and three-part inventions, Liszt transcriptions (a $40 purchase), my new Shostakovich piece, two books of Rachmaninoff preludes, Moszkowski etudes, and several collections of piano pieces, one of which I bought in England in 1990 and has been my one of my favorite piano books ever since. Oh, and a brand-new collection of Beethoven bagatelles that I just got from Hutchins & Rea last week, along with the Schubert collection.
Everything is soaked. Apparently a rather large puddle formed in the trunk, just where I'd left the bag full of music.
Oh, and my piano assignment book and my journal were soaked as well.
See, we needed to "de-clutter" our house. Piano music is kind of cluttery-looking, so I put it all in the trunk. I also hadn't taken my music out from when I had a lesson Saturday afternoon. So there was a lot of music in my car. I was going to put it all back--or organize it somehow--after the realtor came to take his fabulous pictures (see blog post below).
Last night Hub and I tried the hairdryer, the oven, and the roaring fire he'd built in the fireplace, but the pages just got more and more warped.
The pencil marks--fingering notes, other notes to myself, Deborah's notes, the notes of piano teachers going back to 1983, etc.,--are all but invisible.
How does one replace that kind of stuff?
I'm sad today. Granted, there are people whose entire houses flood, who lose everything in floods, including pianos, cats, photos, family heirlooms, and even family members. All I had was a leaky trunk, and all I lost were some books and some notes. I really don't have a lot to complain about in the great scheme of things.
But I'm still sad. Many of those music books and I go back a long way.
And that sweet Hubster that I adore ... I kind of wish he'd straightened up the sheets and blanket on the bed before he left for work. And put the mismatched pillows under the blanket.
Oh, my. It's been one of those days, and it's only 8:35 a.m. I'm having one of those laughing-because-otherwise-I'd-cry mornings.
At least it's good to know that the cats keep our spots in the bed warm for us all day.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's 10:30 p.m. I need to be up in 7 hours because I have to be at work early-shirley.
I'm ready for the crazy work season to be over. I miss Jeanette, Robert, Deborah, Sherry, Rob, Luci, George, Joan, Jan, Brent, Shelley, and my three friends named Linda.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I actually have a few moments of idleness at work today--a rather welcome situation, considering the 50-hour-average workweeks of the past month. So, friends, I'm going to tell you all the random things that have been going on in my mind this week.
Random Thought #1: I'm a big, fat pig. Yes, that sentence has been going through my mind quite a lot lately. It's all the fault of my blue jeans, which are hugging me a bit tighter than usual. Nothing like tight jeans to make one feel like a whale in a wetsuit. Alas, I'm facing up to the reality that Thanksgiving + nibbling on chocolate all day + having a sedentary job = tighter jeans. And I'm running four miles this afternoon. And picking up more happy pills this evening. (I ran out on Saturday.)
Random Thought #2: I think we're going to make an offer on a house, but not on the old farmhouse I wanted (and continue to want). Although the Hubster and I are filthy rich in love, happiness, and cat dander, we are very poor in finances. Actually, we're not doing too bad, but we're not raking in enough to buy and care for a 110-year-old farmhouse, no matter how much charm it has. Oh, well. One of these days. So we're thinking about making an offer on a house I'll call New House. See Random Thought #11, below.
Random Thought #3: Remember piano? I tried to quit, but Deborah wouldn't let me. I'm going to start a new prelude and fugue. I don't know which one yet. I think I'm going to do C-minor from WTC I. It's supposed to be easier (relatively speaking) than the others, and it regularly assigned to students who are really to tackle their first prelude and fugue. This one will be my second. After two years of C#-major, however, I am ready for something a wee bit more manageable.
Random Thought #4: I've also graduated from "Elfe" and the Liszt. What shall I learn next? I'm not sure. I'm thinking about a Schubert impromptu. And the Shostakovich will be a good "intermediate piece" piece. I'm going to wait on starting the Haydn sonata, mainly because I only have a couple of hours a week to practice as it is, and I need more time if I'm going to work on a big piece like the Haydn. (Not that the Bach P&F isn't big ... I've just found that it's just easier to practice Bach in 15- and 20-minute intervals.)
Random Thought #5: Lil Goosey, Lil Goosey, Lil Lee-Lee Lil Goosey, she's the greatest lil ole Hideaway calico cat in the whole wide world. Go, Goosey!
Random Thought #6: Thanksgiving was nice.
Random Thought #7: That half-marathon I was thinking about running on Dec. 8? Not gonna happen. No way, no how. November has been brutal, work-wise, and December won't be much better (though it will be a little better, according to the old-timers in my department). Good runs have been few and far-between.
Random Thought #8: I haven't been to church since the split. It's not that I haven't wanted to go ... OK, so it is that I haven't wanted to go. The reasons have much more to do with general fatigue from long work hours than anything else. Really.
Random Thought #9: I decided to, once and for all, read the whole Bible. I started about a month and a half ago, maybe? I'm in Job. I'm reading from cover to cover and I've made it to Job. I love Job. I'm glad to finally be getting into the more poetical books.
Random Thought #10: Usually when people ask me what I want for Christmas, I say "nothing, really. Really. Nothing." And I mean it. This year I made an online wish list. Sometimes I wish I hadn't because most of it is stuff I don't really need.
Random Thought #11: I have a certain ambivalence about the house we're thinking about making an offer on. It's a very nice house, just a few years old, and has a top-of-the-line kitchen. I think of my 110-year-old farmhouse and think, "Home." I think of the New House and the phrase "inane trappings of modern life" keeps coming into my head. Is a gas-log fireplace an inane trapping? An automatic garage-door opener? A jacuzzi? Am I just being a Luddite wanna-be? Why does this somehow feel wrong? Why does it feel not wrong to buy a 110-year-old farmhouse that costs more money than the New House, and then to spend gobs of money on books? I am a very confused product of American culture.
Is that an oxymoron?
Am I a moron?
Don't answer that.
Random Thought #12: Well, you asked for it. No, you didn't ask for it. You did not request a run-down of my recent ramblings. You did not ask for alliteration, either. Bidding you buh-bye until next time ...
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Hubster and I looked at the big ole farmhouse near the A.T. yesterday. I fell in love. Absolutely in love. I have never walked into an unfamiliar house and felt like it was my house I was entering. This one was different.
And folks, they even had a piano where I would have put the piano. They had Walker Percy books on the bookshelves, just like me. One bookcase was even full of old, worn notebooks. I have a bookcase full of old, worn notebooks.
I was ooh-ing and aah-ing the whole time. The house includes an artist's studio that would work very nicely as a place where hikers could stay. Plus, there are lots of great tentsites in case anyone wanted to set up their tent.
And the house is so warm and inviting and cozy! It has purple shutters! It has a back porch with a swing! It even has a small, weirdly shaped room that is the perfect writing nook.
This house has everything.
Except an air conditioner. And a closet for the main bedroom. But there are ceiling fans in every room, and Mrs. Gwen has the perfect old wardrobe that would go perfectly in this house. And I wouldn't be surprised if this house had a secret passage to Narnia. Though when I asked, the realtor assured me that it's not haunted.
Unfortunately, while I was imagining something of a mix between The Sunnybank Inn and The Cabin in Maine, with something out of C.S. Lewis or L.M. Montgomery, Hub was taking note of all the stuff that would require work, like gutters. (Can someone say "work-for-stay for A.T. hikers?" Duh!) And he doesn't like that it doesn't have an air conditioner. And he thinks the kitchen is too small (even though it's much bigger than the one we have now). And he thinks it's too expensive. It's in that range of, "We can afford it, but it's going to be a stretch ... and if we're going to pay more for something, we don't want a money pit/fixer-upper on our hands."
So we're going to look at it again this weekend (I'm going to take Mrs. Gwen along and try to get her on my side), along with a few other houses that are less expensive.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
No, I'm not Depressed. (Yay!) I won't lie--I've had a low-grade depression thing going on for a couple of weeks, as well as a migraine that kept me home from work last Friday--but the job, aside from the long hours and the commute, isn't at all stressful. It's easy, in the way that tech writing jobs are easy for professional tech writers. It's fun. It's like a game. I have no complaints about the job itself.
Except for the fact that I can't access my personal e-mail because Gmail is blocked. Grr. So I check e-mail for two minutes at 5 a.m., and for about 8 minutes before I fall asleep at 9:30. Which is why no one but no one has heard a peep from me in weeks.
There you go!
So, here's the latest news, for anyone who is wondering:
1) Hub and I are thinking about buying a big ole farmhouse near the Appalachian Trail. Coincidentally, it's also about 12 minutes from my place of employment.
2) Warning: This one is a TMI topic: Last week I had reason to believe that Hub and I were pregnant (we're not, nor we were planning to become so). I went through three pregnancy tests in two days. Those pregnancy tests are like M&Ms, or cupcakes--I think, "OK, I'm just going to take one, and that's all, no more until tomorrow or the next day or the next ..." And thing I know, those three-for-the-price-of-two-$16-plastic-pee-sticks are gone.
3) I've made a really good friend at work! Her anagram is Broccoli Warpath Gal, which is fitting because she is very determined to eat right, exercise, etc. Kinda like me.
4) I've graduated, so to speak, from the Bach and Liszt pieces I've been working on forever. I also graduated from the Schumann short piece. But I'm going to keep playing 'em for the rest of the year and wait until January to start Beethoven, Shostakovich, Schubert, and ... you guessed it ... Bach. Except for the Bach, I'll be working on short, not-so-difficult pieces because that's all my schedule allows for these days.
5) Hubster is doing great. His beard is all full and mountain-man-like. I love it when he adopts the Grizzly Adams look.
I hope we can get that old farmhouse. A grand piano would fit nicely there, and the non-commute to work will allow for more writing time.
Friday, November 9, 2007
I've been listening to Dvorak lately.
I forced myself to practice Liszt at lunch. How did I do this? Against my will, I left all of the Bach music at my desk and brought only the Liszt. I love the Liszt, but I'm so ready to move on to something new.
I write as if I've been practicing all along. Truth is, I've practiced slightly more than I've blogged in the past month. Work is crazy and I'm putting in lots of hours ... but life is good because all this overtime is going to help fund my Christmas shopping and Hubster's hike.
What? I didn't tell you about Hubster's hike? He'll be thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail this summer. I'll visit him and hike with him, but mostly I'll be writing and editing stuff in order to fund the house-note payments.
I'm able to check personal e-mails maybe twice a week, and usually at 8 p.m., which is my bedtime, so I haven't written back to anyone in ages.
What else, what else ...
Not a whole lot. Just wanted a short break from the grindstone. Back to work for me!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
If the little mazes and fissures in my brain were hiking trails, they would be all overgrown and nearly impassable.
If my brain were bread, it would be all green and moldy.
I just want to sit and write for a few hours. Or a few days. Doing so would be akin to cleaning out several months' worth of packed-in dirt under my fingernails. (This metaphor is particularly bad. I am a chronic nail-biter and my fingernails never, ever grow long enough to actually store dirt.)
OK. So maybe it would be akin to flossing all the gunk from between one's teeth after not flossing for five months. Ah, that one is better. Flossing is one of my preferred writing-procrastination activities.
I've been at my new job for exactly five months now. I can hardly believe how much I've learned. While my creative/literary brain has been collecting mold and dirt and tooth gradue, my logical, student-who-loves-to-learn-new-stuff brain has been running along as smoothly as a high-scoring game of Pac-Man. Waka-waka-waka. I've been gobbling up little morsels of knowledge about topics I never dreamed I would want to learn about.
I met two deadlines last week--deadlines for projects I'd started on back in June. New projects await me when I head back to the office on Monday, but I definitely have a "clean slate" feeling right now.
A clean slate. Freshly flossed teeth. My bathtub after being attacked with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I'm ready to do some real writing.
Friday, November 2, 2007
- The manual is happily at the printers, despite a last-minute cross-referencing emergency yesterday morning that took a couple of hours to fix.
- The deadline for my other big project is tomorrow. Which means I get to work slightly more normal hours next week.
- Overtime can be a very good thing.
Fortunately, "crunch time" at this company is October through February. For the rest of the year, things are pretty laid back. And I really like this job--both the work itself, and the people I work with. I have a good boss, too.
It's Friday night barely 8:00 and I'm exhausted. Have a good weekend, everyone!
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
We'll get a proof soon, make a few final edits (I've already found a groaner in the index--aarrgghh!), and then it will start printing "for real."
What a relief. We beat the deadline. I've worked 11+ hours for the last three days. Time for a break.
Maybe I'll actually e-mail a friend or two. I haven't done that in a long time.
Oh, and Happy Halloween, Reformation Day, All-Souls, etc., everyone!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
I remember the days when I used to eat butter-soaked grilled-cheese sandwiches as snacks. And dunking sticks, every night, from the vending machine in college. And bagels with mountains of strawberry cream cheese for breakfast every morning. And I never, ever exercised.
That was 15-20 years ago. Since then, I've been pretty good.
But this weekend I went on a binge. It's been building for a long time. It started with the chocolate at work. And it's gone downhill from there.
Yes, even health-nuts like me fall off the wagon.
I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding the ubiquitous chocolate at work. But it never ran out--several mornings a week, the big orange pumpkin would be full again.
I finally caved. Truthfully, I've never met a bite-sized Kit-Kat or Twix I didn't like. And what's weird is that, once I've (re-)introduced my body to junk food like that, I become less and less inclined to eat my usual fruit smoothies and salads and whole-grain stuff.
So this weekend, after two weeks of nibbling, I devoured a box of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, ate French fries, had half a bag of Chex Sweet & Salty Honey Nut snack mix that I impulse-bought at a gas station, downed a greasy bran muffin at the coffee shop, and nibbled on a mini-bag of Reese's Pieces. Yes--not only have I been eating junk food, but I've been avoiding my usual healthy foods. Why? No idea.
And of course I haven't felt like running at all, partly due to an minor but painful injury to my baby toe, and partly because I've been giving myself junk.
Oh, I did have an apple yesterday. And a banana--in a peanut-butter-and-honey-and-banana sandwich for lunch. Aarrgghh. At least I it was on 12-grain bread.
I have to stop this ridiculousness. At the rate I'm going, I'll end up at McDonald's before the end of the week. Folks, I don't eat at McDonald's. I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years. I don't even like McDonald's.
No, I probably won't end up at McDonalds. That was just me being hyperbolic.
Anyway, I went for a run Friday afternoon and felt like someone had put water in my gas tank. Had no energy. I even got a side cramp. My stomach complained.
Then Friday night was the toenail drama, which prevented me from running in a 5K race yesterday evening--an idea I had been dallying with since I wasn't able to go to the Lexington BBQ Festival.
That's about the time I impulse-bought the Chex Mix.
So today is supposed to be a 9-mile long run. I'm going to wait until this afternoon to give my poor toe a bit more time to heal. I don't know if I have 9 miles in me. But I have to get myself back in shape. The holiday season is around the corner, and I have an unbelievably sedentary job and am working some unbelievably long hours of late. That's not a very good recipe for staying fit and avoiding Depression.
Yes. Fitness and physical health are nice side effects of a healthy lifestyle, but for me, it's mostly about avoiding Depression.
So. I'm signing up for a November 5K and a December Half-Marathon. And I may not have 9 miles in me this afternoon, but I'll go as far as I can.
There. Confession time over. Time to get back to work.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Yes, I'm working too much.
The good news: I only have to work for five hours tomorrow.
The better news: We're going to meet the deadline for sending the manual to the printer.
The best news: My friend Jeanette in California is safe.
The really bad news: I can't think of a single interesting thing to blog about tonight.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I ran a good race and had a great hike this weekend. I covered a total of about 27 miles on foot between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.
It looks like I'll be breaking the 60-hour barrier for work hours this week. I hope to post race and hike reports before I forget all the details.
Pictures to come! I promise!
Friday, October 12, 2007
I'm a little nervous about the upcoming few days. I think this weekend might classify for the title of "Extreme Weekend."
Today I have to work 11 hours. At least. That's why I'm up so early. That's why I'm leaving for work in a few minutes. I've been putting in 10-hour days for the last two weeks. So that's why no one has gotten e-mail from me in ages, and why my blog posts have been few and far-between.
If I put in 11 hours today, I won't have to go to work tomorrow.
Which means I can run the half-marathon tomorrow.
Then I'm supposed to go backpacking.
Yes. Backpacking. And it's supposed to be cold.
Some friends from Alabama will be visiting, and Hubster has made plans for all of us to go on an overnighter backpacking trip--our first in several months, and their first ever. When the plans were made, he didn't realize they were for the same weekend as the Worldwide Half.
So. Today: Work 11 hours.
Tomorrow morning: Run 13.1 miles.
Tomorrow afternoon: Backpack six miles.
Sunday morning: Backpack six more miles.
Monday morning: Go back to work.
See what I mean? Extreme weekend.
I don't know if this is a good idea. I'm really too old for this. I'm probably going to wear down my defenses and get sick. My better judgment is just shaking its head.
I miss George.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I was starting to have mixed feelings about running my half-marathon this weekend. I knew I was going to have to work on Saturday, even if it meant showing up at noon, and sweaty and stinky as all get-out. No, I'm not a workaholic or married to my job ... it's just that I know the work has to be the priority for the next couple of months, and I've accepted that.
Then yesterday we went into "emergency" "must-program-at-last-minute" mode on one of the projects I'm working on. Basically, the programmer discovered something that could have turned into a real problem down the road. So it's good that he discovered it, and it's good that we were able to start work to rectify it now rather than later, or not at all.
Still, it took time. I have an October 15 deadline (that's Monday, folks) and about two weeks' worth of work to complete in that time. It'll get done, somehow. I've been seriously buckled down for weeks now, and I just need to buckle down some more.
Today is Wednesday. Barring any more "emergency" "must-program-at-last-minute" situations, I'm still up against the clock, big time.
We're not allowed to be in the office Sundays, which is probably a good thing. But I really need to put in some hours this weekend (in addition to the 10-hour days I'm putting in this week).
What to do, what to do? I have a half-marathon to run Saturday morning. I am so completely not in the mood for it. I so want to just get my work completed and be able to relax for a couple of days before gearing up for the next big deadline.
My thoughts are this:
1. Go to work on Saturday morning, work all day, and get everything done that I can.
2. Wake up Sunday morning. Run a half-marathon for my Worldwide Half race.
3. Take it easy Sunday afternoon, knowing I've done everything I can at work, and knowing I've participated in my first Worldwide Half. Clean house a little bit, read a little bit, and rest up for the hectic week ahead (next deadline is the end of October).
Of course, I don't like the idea of missing out on the fun of a road race (I'm starting to like road races, strangely enough). I'm thinking I'll go ahead and continue my training regimen and run the Thunder Road Half again in December. There's always the chance that work responsibilities will get in the way again, but then again, they might not.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
As with the last 5K, I had the feeling that the run was more of a "group effort" than a competition; I leapfrogged with two other women for most of the race, and all three of us ran good races because we were pushing the other two.
I finished in 26:46, which is 8:36-minute miles. I'm tempted to shave three more seconds off, since it took me about that long to cross the starting line, but I'm happy with my "official" time. It's definitely a PR for me--nearly a half-minute faster than Thursday's run!
And here's the amazing news: I got second place in the women's 35-39 age division! I got a medal and everything! The naysayer in me notes that there really wasn't a lot of competition to start with (it was a very small local race), but I'm not going to listen to it. Instead, I'm listening to the happy voice that's saying these things:
- A PR is a PR!
- 26:46 is not a shabby time for a not-entirely-flat 5K race. Not a shabby time at all.
- I ran a good race.
Tomorrow's a long run (but shorter than my recent long runs have been), and then I'm taking it easy all week because I have a half-marathon to run next Saturday.
Life is good! (even though I'm at work right now ... after the 5K ... on a beautiful Saturday afternoon ...)
Friday, October 5, 2007
My half-sister Rebecca is autistic, so I was of course interested in the show. One thing they said was that autistic characteristics seem to be passed through genes, only some people are farther to the edge of the spectrum than others. I've definitely identified with certain of Rebecca's personality traits, like the unusually good memory for details, and the ability to focus so intently on something that the world could end and I wouldn't know it.
The first time I ever learned anything about autism was in the seventh grade, when I read One Child, by Torey Hayden. I vividly remember reading that book--the pity I felt, as well as the horror, the fascination, and the sadness.
The "Speaking of Faith" interview is a good listen. You can download it here.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Like the decision to turn an upbeat, brisk little 3-mile tempo run into an all-out 5K race with myself.
I woke up to the roaring of ocean waves, thanks to a nifty new alarm clock Hubster bought last week. (Our old alarm clock still works beautifully, but both of us had learned to sleep right through it.) I was so tired this morning. Didn't want to run. But I got up anyway and made it to the gym for 6:00.
Today's running assignment: 3-mile tempo run. I've begun "tapering," according to my training program, which has me cutting back on my miles during the two weeks before the half-marathon.
I don't like to taper. I am feeling so strong when I run these days. Maybe I'm nearing (or at) my "peak" for this training season. I don't know. But I was full of energy this morning. After a brisk one-mile warm-up around the indoor track, I hopped onto the treadmill for a run with my morning news.
I pushed myself. For the first half-mile, I averaged about 6.5 mph (I can never remember the minutes-per-mile number). Now, if I'd stayed at 6.5 mph for all three miles, it would have been the kind of run I'd planned to run.
But I felt so strong, so energetic, after the first mile that I upped my speed. I slowed down a little bit at 1.5 miles, to about 6.2 mph, the slowest speed of the run. Then, at 2.0 miles, I went back up to 7.0 mph ... and inched my way up to 7.5 on the tenth-of-a-mile marks. At 2.5, I slowed to 6.8, then sped up a bit more, and finished my "5K" in 27:03.
I felt great. I was tired, but I felt great! My race PR for 5Ks is 27:11, which means I ran faster than my race PR! And I was running caffeine- and Gu-free! 27:03 translates to an average of 6.9 mph, or 8:43 min/mi for a 3.1-mile run. That's fast. For me at least, that's fast. I know some treadmills say that you've run faster/farther than you really have, so maybe it wasn't that fast, but that's OK.
I may well beat my 27:11 race PR this weekend.
After a cool-down walk/run and 10 minutes of stretching, I headed for the showers, and then to work.
I'm running a 5K race on Saturday, then a 10-mile long run on Sunday. Then I'm going to take it very easy next week. My half-marathon is only a week and a half away!
I just re-read this post. I used words and phrases like "tempo," "taper," "cutting back on my miles," "peak," "training season," "brisk one-mile warm-up," "PR," and "my half-marathon."
I guess this means I'm really, truly, officially a runner now, if I wasn't already. :)
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
It's development season. My boss sent out an e-mail to everyone yesterday, saying that we need to be putting in 50-55 hour weeks, plus Saturdays, for the next few months.
They told me when I interviewed for the job that this would happen. I accepted the job knowing I would eat, sleep, breathe, and poop software for four to five months of the year.
I'm kind of excited about it, in the way I always got excited about exam week in college. Something in me loved exam week. Something in me got high on the madness of it.
Five months is a long time. I think I'm up for it. I have to be up for it. I have my writing schedule, and I have my running schedule. I'm planning to run a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, and I may well train for a March half-marathon. Just to keep myself sane and motivated through the fatigue and the cold.
The downside: No long-weekend getaways until March. No short-weekend getaways until March. Late nights. I'll miss Hubster, George the Piano, Beau the Cat, Franzi, Sebastian, Dr. House, and Detective Stabler. Ah, the men in my life.
The upside: Overtime pay, baby. Overtime pay. Money isn't always a priority for me (as my dear Hubster will lament), but it is for now. And I'm thankful to have a job that provides it.
It helps that I like the job, too, and the people I work with.
Time to get to work.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Take first-ever day off from new job.
Run 12 miles.
Wash four loads of clothes.
Look through closet and fret that I have no dressy fall-style-but-perfect-for-muggy-weather dresses that are good for dancing.
Pack: underwear, PJs, airplane clothes, makeup, toiletries, and six dresses--some dressy, some fall-style, some good for muggy weather, some good for dancing, but none a combination of the three. Oh, and shoes to match everything. It's a heavy suitcase for a 24-hour trip.
Clean house some more.
Cancel piano because the funny "check engine" light of my car keeps coming on and the car is making strange lurching movements and I'm nervous about making the drive to Asheville.
End up not taking car to shop because time gets away from me.
Drive to Charlotte with Hubster. In Hubster's car.
Get to John G. Young's house at 8:15. Eat dinner. Drink wine. Chat with John & Kim.
Read a few pages.
Go to sleep.
4:00 a.m.: Rise and shine!
5:00 a.m. Arrive at airport
6:00 a.m. Fly to Atlanta
8:00 a.m. Fly to New Orleans, rent car, drive to Chez Parents.
10:30 a.m. Had planned to go shopping with Mrs. Gwen to find a dressy-fall-style-but-perfect-for-muggy-weather dress that is good for dancing, but am simply too worn out. Opt to rest and spend time with family instead. Pick out a not-so-dressy, not-so-fallish, and not so great for dancing, but perfect-for-muggy-weather old dress to wear to my friend Jan's wedding.
Visit with my mom and aunt.
Watch LSU whup Tulane. Cheer, as I have no love for Tulane.
5:30 p.m. All dressed up in the perfect-for-muggy-weather old dress. Drive to wedding in Baton Rouge.
6:05 p.m. Get to wedding. It's 89 degrees out. I made the correct dress choice.
6:30 p.m. Wedding. Cry. Have fun sitting next to Andye's mom. Feel happy because it is a very nice wedding and I'm so happy for Jan and Herb.
7:30 p.m. till about 10:30: Wedding reception. Lots of fun. Saw lots of old friends I haven't seen since 1988 or so. Did not dance much, as it was very warm. Am thankful to have selected the right dress. Am happy to see Jan and her man so happy.
10:30 p.m. Leave early because we have to fly out early.
11:00 p.m. Get back to Chez Parents. Go to bed.
5:00 a.m. Rise and shine!
6:00 a.m. Go to New Orleans airport. Fly to Atlanta. Fly to Charlotte. Drive home.
5:30 p.m. Arrive home, wash clothes, take shower and wash all the nasty airplane germs off me.
It's about quarter to 8:00 p.m. now. I'm wiped out. Going to bed in about twenty minutes.
I was looking forward to Jan's wedding, but I was not looking forward to the whirlwind that this weekend was going to be. But it wasn't so bad. And I'm glad I was able to go to the wedding. It was definitely worth the hassle of getting there.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
By "training," I mean training for a race. I'll probably never win a race, but I need to keep races on my horizon. Here's why:
I started an extremely sedentary job four months ago. That job comes with an extremely sedentary commute. At the job we have a snack machine and a coke machine. Across the street from the job is a coffee shop that sells big chunky chocolate chip cookies.
If I weren't training for a race--the Worldwide Half--I know I would have gained 10 pounds by now. At least 10 pounds.
If I'm merely exercising because I want to be skinny and look good, the motivation ebbs as soon as life gets too busy. And when motivation ebbs, my cookie-monster tendencies take over. My eating habits go to pot. I make diets of bagels with cream cheese, cookies, and bread.
But I'm training for the Worldwide Half. Because I'm training for a race, I don't look at the exercise as my key to being thin or looking good. It's my key to increasing endurance, and yes, speed, so that I can run a good race. The "looking good" part of it is just a really nice benefit that comes with the territory.
When I'm in training, I lose all appetite for most junk foods. I have no desire for a soft drink (not that I ever drink them anyway). I've stayed away from the vending machines at work. I only visit the coffee/cookie place five days a week. (OK, so I only buy a couple of cookies a week. I'll never give up chocolate-chip cookies completely.)
And the rest of the time I eat things like fruit, salads, smoothies, lean meats, fish, nuts, whole-wheat carbs, and steamed and raw veggies. Good stuff. Because I'm training. Because all of the running, and the eating right, and the getting to bed on time, just all go with the territory.
If I weren't training for a race, I know I would never have gone on an energizing 5-mile tempo run last night. I was tired and not in the mood to run. If I weren't training for a race, I would never have stopped on my way home from work to squeeze in a 4-mile easy run. If I weren't training for a race, I wouldn't be setting my clock to wake up early tomorrow to get my 12 miles in before the crazy weekend begins.
Training is good. I plan to keep it up. I'm already thinking about my spring half-marathon. :)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
My half-marathon is in two weeks. That's hard to believe. I guess I need to get around to signing up for it.
I LOVE running. Running has been such a challenge for months now--partly because of the heat, and partly because it's so hard to motivate myself to run after sitting on my butt in Cubicle Land all day long. But I've kept running, and it's paying off. I had energy to burn tonight.
That makes eight miles for the week so far. I'm running five tomorrow, then twelve on Friday since I won't be able to run on Saturday or Sunday because I'll be travelling. I hope my knees don't complain too much about running 23 miles in three days.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE running?
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Update ... Wednesday Afternoon ...
OK, I was sick to my stomach last night. Didn't know if I'd be able to come to work today or not. And I think all the stomach sickness is a result of split-related stress. I so want to write about this but haven't had an opportunity because work has been brutal for three weeks now.
So maybe some of the sickness is due to all the thousands of words stuck inside my body, words that want to come out through my fingers and onto the keyboard and screen, but are bottled up because I haven't written in so long.
It's happened before. Stay tuned. I hope to write more on the split, and my thoughts about it, soon.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
I'm about two-thirds of the way through Liteshoe's book, "The Ordinary Adventurer," and am limiting myself to a few pages a night because I don't want it to end.I am so proud of my author! The Ordinary Adventurer will be on amazon.com soon, but why wait? Order it now and get your own signed copy!
I enjoy books and journals that talk about the day-to-day logistics of hiking, and I enjoy books and journals that relate the author's personal experiences and how they felt about what was going on. I like to read about people and places along trails, and I like to read about how people were personally affected by their hikes.
So when I get hold of a book that does all four, I really don't want to rush through it.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about long distance hikes. If you don't want to buy it for the above reasons, you need to find out the first thing you should do when caught by a thunderstorm on an exposed ridge. (The answer is on Page 95, and no, I won't spoil your fun by revealing it here.)
I usually hit kind of a wall after 10 miles. Not today. I actually sped up after 10 miles. Hit something of a second wind. My last half-mile was up a hill--Main Street in Franklin--so it wasn't quite so energized. But it was a good run. A great run. I listened to Phedippidations, The Extra Mile, and some music. I keep meaning to send a training update to The Extra Mile, but I keep forgetting. Someone remind me.
My last long run was supposed to be last Saturday, but I had to push it forward to Sunday. Which means I technically ran a whopping 35.88 miles this week. My next long run is Friday, so my mileage for next week and subsequent weeks will be more "normal" (~25 miles).
Here's what's cool: I'm #27 on the leader board of Buckeye Outdoors!
I'm usually #72 or #65 or #48 ... but I've never been in the top 30!
I LOVE running.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
Running was tough this week. My energy level hasn't been as high as I'd like it to be. I'm not sure why. I'm sleeping plenty at night but have trouble waking up in the morning. Which means the novel is getting short shrift.
I still managed to run my miles this week, albeit not all on the usual days: 11 on Sunday, 6.3 on Wednesday, and 6.3 on Thursday. I had to miss Monday's 2-mile interval run, so I ran a slightly longer tempo run on Wednesday and did intervals toward the end.
I'm running 12 tomorrow. I've had to change up my schedule a bit in the past few weeks due to weekend obligations. Long runs are supposed to be on Saturdays. I like doing them on Saturdays. I'm doing tomorrow's long run on Saturday.
Then I have to do my next long run after that on Friday because of weekend festivities on Saturday and Sunday.
I don't know if it's good to space long runs only six days apart. To play it safe, I'm going to make my mid-week runs a little shorter than usual.
I think it'll be good. Of all the types of training sessions (tempo, easy, interval, speed, and long run), long runs are by far the ones I look forward to the most.
But to be honest, I'm not as gung-ho about running as I was this time last year. I guess the novelty has worn off. I have no intentions of quitting (seeing as my physical and mental health are somewhat dependent on it), but it's been hard to drag my butt out to the lake, or the track, or the gym on running days.
I'm glad today's a rest day.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Here's what Bartleby tells us:
I would have thought it was Spanish.
So anyway, when I met the Shoulder Honcho, he shook my hand and said he'd "heard a lot about me." I think that's good. When I met the Head Honcho himself, he asked me what my job was. He was a nice fellow, though. Both of them are nice fellows.
I think I'm doing a pretty good job at this job so far. I won't think of myself as "successful" at it until I've met my deadlines and turned out a good product. But so far, things are good.
There's really not much to write at the moment. I'm writing in the mornings, I'm working hard at my job, I'm commuting two hours a day (with absolutely no traffic ... aaahhh), I'm practicing piano at lunch, I'm getting my training miles in, and I'm currently enjoying a smooth glass of Pinot Noir and gazing over at the lovely Hubster as he nibbles on pretzels and watches The Weather Channel.
Life is going through a mundane phase, I guess. I'm not complaining.
Monday, September 17, 2007
When he passed the "5K turn-off point," he commented to a fellow runner, "I bet a lot of people are going to miss that turn." There were very few volunteers at the turn-off, and the ones there were teenagers who wore jackets and other t-shirts over their volunteer t-shirts, and who more or less stood there and occasionally directed 5Kers to take the turn-off.
(No wonder I don't remember seeing any volunteers there.)
Then, as he proceeded along the half-marathon course, he saw several 5K runners backtracking after realizing they'd missed the turn.
"It was poorly marked," he said, and added that in previous years cones had been set up to "corral" the runners onto their respective routes. "I'm surprised more people didn't get off track this year."
So I feel better. The turn-off was poorly indicated. So I'll write a nice letter to the race organizers when I return my Champion Chip. And I'll check the map for good measure next year.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
But today was different. After moping around the house all day yesterday, waiting for Godot the HDTV Installation Guy, I knew I needed to make today count for something. So I did my eleven-miler this morning.
(I know. I am bad. I should have been in church, particularly with the EPC/PCUSA vote coming up next Sunday. I have no excuse, except that it was a beautiful, cool morning, and I had eleven miles to run.)
Hubster and I went to the lake. He's about halfway through his C25K training and was to run his longest run yet today: 20 minutes, nonstop. So I jogged the first lap with him. I am so proud of the Hubster. He wants to run a 5K by the end of the year, and he's right on track to do it.
Hubster left after his run, and I continued mine. I wasn't in a mood for running. The beautiful weather was also very humid weather, and it's amazing how humidity can just sap the energy right out of you. But I kept on, carrying a small bottle of water with me, listening to Phedippidations and enjoying the fact that the roads at Lake Junaluska are nearly car-free on Sunday mornings.
I was really low on energy, though. I was hungry. I'd had breakfast, but my 120-pound frame just wasn't up to the 11-mile task after a relatively small "fill-up" of 200 or so calories.
I ran in my new NB858s. They're heavier than the 1222s, but they were pretty comfortable. I've gotten spoiled by the lightweightness of the 1222s.
I was glad when the run was over. I stuck it out and ended up covering 11.38 miles, according to the route program on Buckeye Outdoors.
That route program's a pretty cool thing. Here's the route:
... and here's the elevation:
How cool is that?
I'll rest tomorrow, then run again on Tuesday. I'm so glad the weather has begun to cool off a bit!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
For whatever reason, I didn't get up when the alarm went off this morning. Which means that, when I did finally wake up, I realized that I needed to leave the house within 10 minutes or I'd be late for the Asheville Citizen-Times 5K I'd signed up for.
I hate having to get out of bed quickly. So I started out the day in a less-than-chipper mood. That should have been a sign.
Then I couldn't find my Compeed. My old New Balance 1222s officially bit the dust the other day when they suddenly, for the first time ever, left me with a blister on my heel. (The fabric inside the shoe had worn through.) So I was going to wear my other pair of 1222s with Compeed, which is the best blister-coverup in the world.
I'd put the Compeed in a special place the night before because I wanted to make sure I wouldn't forget it. Then I couldn't remember where that special place was this morning. (Go figure. This happens to me all the time.)
So, with less than two minutes to go, I was digging through my smelly backpacking gear, looking for the ziplock where I keep my first-aid items when I hike, hoping I had Compeed somewhere in there.
I couldn't find it. But Hubster found some. God bless Hubster.
Hubster overslept, too, and was even later getting up than I was, so I had to leave before he did. Well, pooh. What fun is a 5K if you can't ride over there with your biggest fan? But he promised me he'd be there by the time the race started.
I actually thought about not going. Repeatedly. I really do not like big crowds, and I've had to overcome my crowd-phobia every time I've gone to a race. But I always feel on top of the world after a race, so I decided, after deciding to the contrary several times, to bite the bullet and go. After all, I had paid my $20, and I did want the t-shirt ...
So I drove to Asheville alone, took forever to find a place to park, and managed to get my bib and my chip and go pee with about two minutes to spare. But I still had my bag, my cell phone, my water bottle, etc. I left it all with a very nice stranger, with my cell phone set on Hubster's speed dial, saying, "Call this number. Tell my Hubster where you are so he can come get my stuff."
Then, about 15 seconds before the race started, Hubster found me. I gave him a big old kiss. I didn't see the person who had my bag. The race was starting. I hoped he would find it and proceeded to run.
It was crowded, of course. I was in a sea of runners, the 5K runners wearing blue bibs, and the half-marathon runners wearing green bibs. I was a blue-bibber. I'm not running my half-marathon until next month when I run the Second Annual Phedippidations Worldwide Half-Marathon Challenge. Today was actually supposed to be a long run, and I suppose I could have run the half, but I'm only up to 11 miles for my long runs and didn't want to push it.
The weather was cool and very humid. I felt good, though, and I felt strong. When we got to the 1-mile mark, I honestly thought, "No. There's no way we've already run a mile." I guess I was in the zone. It didn't hurt that much of the first mile was on a downhill slope.
Water stations were supposed to be every two miles, so when we got to the water station, I was again amazed at how easy the miles were feeling. I didn't feel like I was flying, and I didn't know how slow or fast I was going, or whether I would beat my PR of 27:11. I just felt good. Finally my stress had started to subside, and my mood had started to lift.
So I had some water on the run, and kept running. At some point the 5K runners and the marathoners must have split, but I was in a big crowd of blue-bibbers so I didn't think or worry too much about whether I was on the right course. Besides, there were no signs that I could see, and no one pointing and yelling about which way to go, so I stayed in my zone and stuck with the blue-bibbers.
Our trek started to head uphill after Mile 2.
About ten minutes after the water stop, I thought, "This is odd. We should be heading back to the starting/finish line by now. I looked around. Still quite a few blue bibs. But a lot of green bibs, too.
The guy in front of me had a blue bib pinned to the back of his shirt. At the top left-hand corner of the blue bib, I saw two little letters: HM.
"Hm," I thought. "H.M. I wonder what that means."
Then I had one of those smack-to-the-forehead moments. H.M. Half-marathon.
I looked behind me. There were blue bibs, sure, but probably 85% of the people I saw had green bibs.
"Hey," I said to an HM blue-bibber. "Did the 5K people split off yet?"
"Yeah, about a mile back," he said.
Maybe on a better day, and in better spirits, I would have laughed at myself, and I'll probably be laughing at myself by the time I finish writing this, but at the time my heart just sank to the bottoms of my worn New Balance 1222s.
I stopped. Hubster was waiting for me at the 5K finish, and he had to be at a camp work day for 9:00. I was supposed to finish at around 8:30, which would make him only a few minutes late. For a split second I considered just running the half-marathon (after borrowing a cell phone to call Hubster and tell him what I was doing), but I'd been in 5K mode for ... well, for about five kilometers, oddly enough ... and I simply didn't feel like running 10 more miles. Plus, I didn't know if Hubster had found my bag or not.
I borrowed a volunteer's cell phone. Tried to call Hubster. No answer. Tried to call my own cell phone. No answer. Dialed each number about three more times each. No answer. I was visibly frustrated. The volunteer kept saying nice things like, "I didn't realize the 5K people had split off. There were a LOT of blue bibs running by. And not all of them had HM on them, that I could see."
It didn't make me feel better. But it would make me feel better if I were to learn that I wasn't the only 5K person who missed the turn. So, if anyone hears of anyone else who found themselves in my predicament, I would be happy to hear about it.
By now, all of the half-marathon runners had passed and the cops were starting to let traffic through. I wanted to get back to where Hubster was, but only know my way around a very limited part of Asheville, and I wasn't sure where I was, or how to get back.
I was very frustrated. And now it was something like 8:45, which meant Hubster was going to be late for his work day, which he was supposed to be in charge of.
I finally got Hubster on his cell phone. And 30 minutes later he found me and picked me up. By then I was so frustrated (and embarrassed) that I just got into his car and fell into a tearful, rambling rant of self-directed negativity. "Twenty dollars, wasted. " "I am such an idiot." "I can't believe I made you get up at 6:30 on a Saturday so you could come watch me get lost when a veritable sea of runners somehow managed to go the right way." "I can't believe how stupid I am."
(A weird thing about my personality: I can bravely weather truly stressful times, but then I mercilessly beat myself up over dumb little insignificant things.)
Hubster told me everything was OK, and that I was an inspiration to him and that it was because of me that he had started a running program five weeks ago.
I drove home alone. I was depressed. I felt like I'd wasted my whole morning. I still feel like I've wasted my morning. It's 11:20 and I need to be home because the TV repair guy is going to be here "sometime between noon and 5." No time for the 11-mile long run I would normally have scheduled for today, but scheduled for tomorrow since I had the 5K today.
Then when I got home I realized I still had my Champion Chip. So I'll have to mail that back and hope they don't fine me the $30 they said they'd fine people who didn't return their chips.
I know I will laugh about this later, but right now I'm feeling really down. I guess my pride was bruised more than anything else. The same race last year was my first ever 5K, so this was going to be a fun "1-year anniversary" run.
At least I got a nice t-shirt out of it.
1) Pay more attention to the alarm clock! Get to races with plenty of time to spare.
2) Even if you don't think you have time, take time to look at the course map before you start. (Duh.)
3) Apparently, lots of people sign up for 5Ks but end up switching to the half-marathon the morning of the race. So never assume you're in the right race because the people around you are masquerading as 5K racers!
Long-known lesson reinforced: Stories are more interesting to tell later when things don't go as planned. :) (Cases in point!)
(It took a while, but I'm already transitioning from the "frustrated and depressed" phase to the "smiling and shaking my head" phase. This is a good sign.)
Update: I'm not depressed anymore. I knew writing about it would help!
Update #2: Hubster had my bag and cell phone (and t-shirt!)
Update #3: The TV repair guy just called and is on his way! I will have time for my long run this afternoon!
The 1223s are supposed to be really good shoes, but I've been needing to find a new non-1200-series pair. So I figured yesterday was the day. Even though the 1222s were the only comfortable pair I could find that comes in a 6.5 2A.
But I was a little sad. I guess they call the company "New Balance" because they're always bringing out NEW versions of old favorites, always keeping their customers just a little off BALANCE, never letting them sink too deeply into the easy chair of shoe-wearing habits.
I guess that's a good thing.
I ended up buying a pair of New Balance 858s, size 6.5 B. Strangely enough, they fit. Is it possible that all of this running has made my feet bigger?
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I didn't miss my blog at first. I thought it might be some kind of divine intervention to break me of my technology worship ... I mean, it just seemed too weird and act-of-Goddish that our computer, our telephone, our television, our stereo, and my blog all ceased to work, all during the same weekend.
I felt relieved when that happened. A little shocked, a tiny bit saddened, but mostly relieved. I have never liked having a TV anyway. And I never answer the phone anyway. And the stereo is really Hubster's toy, not mine. Most of my music comes from my iPod, iTunes radio, podcasts, internet sites like Naxos.com, and George.
And I was glad the blog was gone. I felt free. I'd become so tired of the blog. I felt oddly thankful that it had been taken away from me by some mysterious technological hiccup--one that apparently spoke and wrote in Thai. And I always had my piano blog.
Even though I would miss the computer eventually, I had several glorious days of silence when I knew I couldn't check my e-mail, not at work, not at home, not anywhere unless I dragged my butt (and my laptop) to a coffee shop. Which I only did a couple of times.
Then I realized that our wireless connection was still strong as ever and I could access the internet from my laptop at home. But I still rarely even turned it on.
Then I started to feel sad that my blog was gone. Sure, I'd put a lot of time and effort (three years and more than 1600 posts!) into it, but I'd backed everything up just the day before. I had lost nothing except for comments, which was a disappointment of course, but not a huge deal in the great scheme of things, at least blog-wise. I hadn't even lost my blogroll--it's all on Bloglines anyway.
But I missed y'all, dear readers, and I missed sharing my thoughts, insignificant and petty as they often are. So I finally wrote to Blogger and said, "Hey Blogger people, do you think you can figure out what happened to my blog?" And Nick of the Blogger Team got it back for me.
I've read, written, and responded to almost no e-mails for several weeks. No offense to anyone personally. It's been partly because of my unintended "technology fast," and partly because my job keeps me unbelievably focused. I like the job and am enjoying being part of the "team." It's not like my old job, where I was looking for every excuse to blog or e-mail or otherwise play because the work itself bored me to tears.
So, I don't know how much I'll be posting these days. But it's good to have my blog back.
P.S. Odd ... many of the words in this post didn't exist, or weren't know to me, ten and twenty years ago.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Thanks for writing in. I was able to restore that blog to
your account, so you should see it the next time you log in.
The Blogger Team
Bless you, Nick.
I'm back. Somebody send me a meme.
Update: If you are a blogger, you probably don't need to worry about losing your blog all of a sudden. But it's not a bad idea, ever, to back up material that you've put a lot of time and effort into. Just a thought.
Work has been super-busy, particularly this week because I'm having to put in extra hours so I can leave early Friday--we have a piano group class at 4:00 in Asheville, which means I need to leave work no later than 2:00 or so.
Had a 2-hour lesson on Saturday afternoon. Awesome lesson. It wore me out, but it was a great lesson. I honestly think I may be playing better now than I've ever played in my life.
Prelude sounds great. I'll be playing it for the group class. I'm mainly working on speeding it up a bit, though Deborah said it sounds fine at the speed it is (about 76).
Fugue: She raved about how well I played the first two pages. The last four sounded good but not great. "You're not thinking in musical sentences." So I need to work on making the last four pages less of a run-on mess of notes. OK.
Liszt: I'm lingering a bit too much here and there, but for the most part it sounds good. I'm playing it for the group class, too.
Elfe: We worked on this one quite a bit. I'm pretty far along in it, actually. I can play the whole thing through, at a nice (but not fast) pace, in blocked chords. I'm starting to practice the broken chords.
That's all for now. It's 6:30 a.m. and I need to get ready for work!
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Thing is, I punch out before I blog, and I punch in after I finish blogging. I work hard at this job. I work from the moment I walk in until the moment I leave, save for the 45 minutes or so I take mid-day to commune with Sebastian, Franzi, Bob, and the rest of them. The only bad thing I'm really doing is using the company system for blogging.
I work for a good company. I have a good, laid-back boss, and I work with some really great people. I've made some friends. Life is good.
Friday, September 7, 2007
I've actually been thinking about starting a piano podcast. As if I have the time.
I'm kind of depressed about this. Boo hoo. :(
Have I mentioned that "Elfe" is a complex little piece for a small-handed pianist? I did? Oh, OK.
It was fun, though. It's really, er, stretching my capabilities.
Piano lesson tomorrow! I can't wait!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Not much time to write at the moment. (Being important at a job has its perks, but it also means never being able to slack!) Here's what I focused on today:
This is "Elfe." After the usual scales and arps, I spent 20 minutes--20 whole minutes--on this itty-bitty little section. This sure is a complicated "intermediate" piece. It would help if I had Rach-sized hands, but oh well. I'm playing block chords in rhythms, only I can't play block chords in the last two chords of the LH in the section circled above. So, I'm in rhythms, going from block chords to rolled chords for two LH chords. I'm not playing fast, but my hands seem to be scampering elfe-like all over the place.
I also worked on the second 9-against-4 section of the Liszt. (I can't find it on the IMSLP, or I'd post it here for you.) Spent about 15 minutes on that single half-measure.
Last night at home, I worked on Bach. I can play the fugue through pretty smoothly, but each time I play it, little "speed bumps" come up here and there. So I drill and drill and drill the speed bump, and it ceases to be a problem, and allows me to focus on other speed bumps. The good news is, the speed bumps have been getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
So here's what I drilled for a good 20 minutes last night:
What makes this passage complicated is that the ups and downs are not quite in contrary motion. It would be so much easier if the RH and LH came toward each other at the same time, and went away from each other at the same time, as in a formal dance. It would also be a little simpler if the notes were even and in the order of the scale, with no thirds, held notes, etc. But no. Notice that the LH is a sixteenth-note behind the RH. I made arrows so you could see how the upward and downward motions of the LH are behind the RH by just a smidgen:
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
My "intermediate" piece, "The Elf," is from a series of short pieces by Robert Schumann. Here's a blurb from Music Web International:
"The Albumblätter are twenty miscellaneous little pieces, sounding much like other miscellaneous little Schumann pieces; the playing is precise, dramatic, and idiomatic, but at times I found it hard to keep my attention on them, even though number 17, ‘Elfe,’ is a marvel of pianistic skill. Some may prefer these rather cool performances, but I look for those uniquely Schumann passions in this music and I don’t hear them here." -- Paul Shoemaker
"Elfe." That's the piece I'm learning. I like it with an "e" at the end.
Here's the main part of "Elfe" I worked on today:
To be honest, I'm not crazy about this piece; I much prefer the lushness of Liszt, or even of heavier Schumann pieces. But this one is a nice change of pace, and who knows--since it is "a marvel of pianistic skill," it might be a fun little encore piece, if I ever find my way to a concert stage of any kind (and if I ever learn to play it half-decently).
I didn't have much time after wrestling with "Elfe" for 25 minutes, but I wanted to touch on all the other pieces if nothing else. So I didn't spend a lot of time on the prelude and fugue. I spent last night's practice on a few glitches that had come up in the first two pages of the fugue, so I played through that section again today and it sounded nice. The prelude ... ahh. What a wonderful piece of music. And it is slowly becoming mine.
I really didn't have time for Liszt, but I couldn't stand to leave my practice session without at least checking in on him. (I don't know why I've adopted the principle, "Save the Liszt for Last," but I have. Actually, I do know why. Maybe I'll write more on that later.)
Sounded good. That piece is mine, too. Except for the second 9-against-4 measure, which continues to drive me batty.
Oddly enough, the first 9-against-4 is no longer a problem. It's played with passion and drive. But the second is a bit slower, and a lot more reflective. It's hard to give a sense of whimsical reflection while trying to play 9-against-4. It really is.
So I was late getting back to work. Sadness.
I love the way music messes with my mind. I got the giggles on the walk back to work, picturing a little elfe-like figure riding on the subway in D.C.: A Metro Gnome.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
We were gone all Labor Day weekend, camping near Boone, NC, home of the Appalachian State Mountaineers, who beat Michigan in football on Saturday. (Hubster is an Ohio fan and was delighted.) It was a pretty good weekend, but not a restful one.
"A Sort of Notebook" is gone. I'm glad it's gone. I was so tired of it. I don't know if I'm going to pick up blogging again, but if I do, you, dear readers, will be the first to know.
I managed to eke out 45 minutes of practicing today, most of it on Schumann's "The Elf." Last week was a disaster for practicing, as I didn't take one single lunch break all week, and then I was piano-less for the entire Labor Day weekend. My next lesson is Saturday, so I'm going to try for two practice sessions a day from here until then ... even if those sessions are only 15 minutes long.
I'm two weeks behind on e-mails and am trying to catch up while at work, but it's tough because a lot of my job lately has been spent sitting in meetings. So I haven't had much time or opportunity for "personal business" while at work.
This is just a quick update. More later.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
It's Saturday night and I love merlot. No, I'm not drunkly. I went to a 50th birthday party tonight and had two lovely glasses of merlot. Then we went to a toy store. (I should never go to a toy store after two glasses of merlot, and after running eight miles. I bought some yellow teeth, a remote-control fart machine, two crazy pencils, and a present for my future niece who has yet to be conceived.)
We went to an art gallery earlier that happens to have a grand piano and I played the Bach Prelude. Oh my, but it's sounding nice!
Deborah (my piano teacher) has a grand (I can't remember the manufacturer. Forgive me.) that she wants to sell me for $8,800, or $100 a key. Hubster thinks that's too much. I told him it's a steal--we get the pedals, and the wood, and the wheels, and the bench for free!
Lightning struck last night. It fried our computer, our television, our stereo, and our telephone. I was thrilled. We could finally get rid of the T.V. and replace it with a piano. An $8,800 piano. But no. Would you believe, Hub has already bought a flat-screen TV to replace it? Poor Hub. But at least he called and asked my permission. I said, "No, I don't want a T.V.," but then I said, "But I love my Hubster, and my Hubster loves college football. Yes, dear, go ahead and get the T.V."
As soon as we get a house that doesn't have serious humidity problems, I'm getting myself an $8,800 grand. I can't wait.
I had to work extra hours Monday through Thursday so that I could leave at 2:00 on Friday so that I could make it to piano for a 4:00 lesson. Which means I didn't get to take lunch on Monday through Thursday, and lunchtime is when I practice. So no practices. All week.
No practices at home either, because once I've run/worked out, I don't get home until after 8 p.m. And I'm exhausted by the time I've had dinner and a shower.
Work has been extremely busy, but in a good way. I'm enjoying the job. I can't say I love the job, but I like it. It's a paycheck, and it's somewhat challenging, and I work with good people. It's a good way to support my piano and writing habits.
I'll write a little more later. For now, I'll just let the world know that I had a great lesson. And Robert, I'm planning to e-mail you this weekend, so don't lose hope! :)
Sunday, August 19, 2007
But I'm going to update now, and it's partly because I know I have at least one faithful reader in Plaquemine, Louisiana: Mrs. Shirley.
Hi, Mrs. Shirley!
My mom (Mrs. Gwen) came to visit this weekend and we had the most awesome time. We mostly just talked a lot, which was great. She came to church with me this morning, then we went to see On Agate Hill, a one-woman play starring Barbara Bates Smith, based on Lee Smith's novel of the same name. It was wonderful. I gave Mrs. Gwen a signed copy of the novel for Christmas last year, but she hadn't read it yet. But that didn't matter; Barbara picked and chose the scenes, and worked everything out in such a way that even those who hadn't read the novel could understand what was going on. Mrs. Gwen was crying in the end. It was a wonderful play. Absolutely wonderful.
Then, after Mrs. Gwen left, I went home and took a nap. I've never been a napper, ever, but now that I've officially entered my late 30s (I turned 37 and a half yesterday), I've suddenly started needing afternoon naps. I only get them on the weekend, but I get them every weekend. So I now take naps. What's with that?
Then I went running around Lake Junaluska. Yesterday's early-morning long run never happened, so I did my long run this evening: nine miles. It was an amazing run. (I just accidentally typed "fun" instead of "run." Hmm.)
As I made my second swing around the lake (about mile 6), I heard the most amazing music. I stopped and turned and went toward the direction of the music. Turns out the Junaluska Singers were performing for an Elderhostel event. I listened for a while to "When the Saints Go Marching In," "I'll Fly Away," and "Power in the Blood," then I tore myself away to finish up the run. I ran a little faster than I probably should have, then sprinted the final half-mile back to where the Junaluska Singers were performing.
The windows of the theater were open, and several people were sitting outside, listening to the singing. It was amazing. I looked rather uncouth, I must admit; my mouth was wide open. If my jaw could have dropped to the ground, it would have. I was seriously impressed. Mrs. Shirley, next time you plan to come up here, you need to (1) let me know you're going to be here!, and (2) plan to come up when you can see the Junaluska Singers. That was some of the best gospel music I've heard in a long time.
So then I came home to find that my piano teacher, Deborah, had left a message on my machine. I called her back reluctantly; I was anticipating telling her that I'd have to quit piano. Not because I wanted to, of course; it's just that my schedule, and the long drive to Asheville (it's a 2-hour drive from my new job to her house), piano lessons weren't going to be feasible.
Well, I think we worked something out. I won't have a lesson every week, but I'll have one a couple of times a month. So we're both happy. And maybe Johann Sebastian Bach is smiling down on me, knowing that I'll continue learning his glorious music, despite the challenges of keeping up lessons.
So, that's the news from my corner of the mountains, Mrs. Shirley. Thanks for reading!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I didn't leave work until 6 p.m., which means I didn't get to the gym until 7:00 p.m. Then, since I had no leftovers waiting for me for dinner, I stopped at Subway and got myself a sandwich to go. Which means I didn't get home until, oh, 8:20 or so.
After "dinner," I looked around and noticed that the carpet was buried beneath about a centimeter of cat hair.
I don't usually notice these things. I have to remind myself to vacuum. Every time.
I don't dislike vacuuming the same way I dislike, say, scrubbing the bathtub. But vacuuming certainly isn't high on my list of things I enjoy. Even if I made a list of housekeeping chores I like from most to least, vacuuming would fall on the "least" side of the spectrum. In order to vacuum, I have to pick up everything that's lying randomly on the floor. And then I have to organize and put away the things I pick up. And then there's the vacuum cleaner. It's as tall as I am. And I hate having to carry it up the steps. Whine, whine, whine.
Hubster is home from camp, but he had a business trip this week and will be home tonight for the first time in three days.
Hubster notices cat-hairy carpets. They stress him out. Few things in this world stress my laid-back Hubster out, but, unfortunately, cat-hairy carpets is one of the few. Hub often ends up vacuuming because he simply can't stand to for our dark green carpets to take on the sickly, wispy, wavy greenish-grey look rendered by days of cat-shedding.
I know it's important to vacuum. I know it's unhealthy not to vacuum. I know that I shouldn't gauge "time to vacuum" by how itchy my skin is after I do sit-ups on the carpet.
(Just kidding. Sorta.)
Anyway, I ended up lugging out the vacuum cleaner. My heart broke as I watched the cats escape through their cat door in fear at the sight of their least favorite home appliance. And I vacuumed. And vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed. And I picked up all the junk off the floor and put it away. And vacuumed some more. Downstairs, then upstairs. I was a vacuuming fool. For fifteen of the longest minutes of the entire day.
I vacuumed my little heart out. Not because I wanted to. Not because I really care at all about whether or not our carpet is infested with a gazillion microscopic nasties. I vacuumed because I love the Hubster and I know he'll be happy to see a clean carpet when he gets home.
I know what you're thinking. "Waterfall sure loves her husband, but she is one lazy wife when it comes to vacuuming."
Yep. You got me pegged. And I do love that old Hubster.