Monday, October 21, 2019

The Business Trip

This week, I'm doing some traveling to promote my book! There are plenty of things to worry about, including but not limited to:

  • My life-long and nonsensical aversion to handbags might make me seem like a rube.
  • The tailor took in my Tuesday night skirt perhaps just a teensy bit too far. I can sit down and walk, and it looks good, though, so that's the most important? Eating is totally optional.
  • What if I lose my ID in Chicago, and then I can't go to Boston or NYC?
  • The other authors in the group are significantly younger than I am, and almost certainly cooler. 
  • Anything could happen when it's my turn to speak.
  • I'm meeting a lot of new people. Some of them know me from the phone, where I'm usually at my best. As Dan likes to say, "Are you going to be normal, or are you going to be yourself?" There's no telling in advance. Some version of me just pops out, and there's nothing I can do.
  • The usual things like deodorant failures, falling, and GPS snafus. And, also not understanding fashion, even though I've had expert coaching.
But, do you know what? I don't even care about all of these things because my elation about this trip is going to overpower all of my nerves. I wrote a book and some other people want to hear about it! And, it's my first business trip during which I will not either have to share a hotel room or hotel bed, so no matter what else happens, I'm already #winning.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Marathon Race Report

I've had a couple of magic marathons. My training was solid, I felt confident, and everything went amazingly on race day--strong finishes, even paces, big smiles.

I've also had a couple of just fine marathons. I ran within my fitness and felt pretty good.

And then, there have been a few really hard-fought marathons. My stomach got messed up, my legs dragged more than they should have. I ran through a dark night of the soul to get to the finish line.

This last weekend's marathon was one of the hard-fought ones. After 16 or 17 pretty good miles, I started cramping in my feet and legs. My stomach hurt. I narrowed my focus to one foot in front of the other. About three miles from the finish line, I reminded myself that if I dropped out, I'd have to go home and tell my children that I didn't finish the race because, in the end, I just didn't feel like it.

That's not really the message I've been trying to impart to my kids about sticking with the hard things. I've been more on the "try your best and accept your failures" train lately. I've ridden the "don't give up" car. So, one foot in front of the other, right? There really wasn't a choice.

Eventually, I got to the end and meandered through the finish area. Only one volunteer asked if I needed the medical tent. I made it to the light rail train, which I planned to ride back home. This was harrowing because of my stomach situation, but you'll be happy to know I held off the sickness. When I arrived at the homestead, I burst in the door. Shef stood to give me a hug, and I ducked under his arm and headed for the powder room. On the way, I accidentally yakked on the kitchen floor.

That's the kind of day it was. I pointed at the vomit and told Dan, "I didn't make it." It's true I didn't make it in that one instance, but in the "finish the marathon" sense, I did make it. I just didn't make it look pretty.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Conference Calls

In my previous job, I never had an occasion to be on a conference call. In my new job, it happens rather frequently. That would be fine, except it turns out I'm really bad at conference calls. Here are some particular challenges:


  • First, I spend a lot of time worrying about whether I'll get on the call at the right time. What if I have the time written down wrong? What if I've converted between time zones incorrectly? I'll probably have to check the time five or ten times before the appointed moment. I'll also have to google the time zone conversion three or four times. This will happen even though, so far, I've never actually missed a call.
  • Because of the above time problem, I often dial into the call a minute or two early. Then, I awkwardly wait around for the "host." I am never the host. Eventually, the host will get on and say, "Hello?" and I have to announce my presence. Whichever way I say my name always sounds wrong. Should I refer to myself in the third person, as in, "Kathleen is here!" Or, should I offer a cheery "Hello!" with no name? I usually go for the second option, and then inevitably someone else will talk when I'm trying to say my name. 
  • Talking at the same time as others is the next, and perhaps most troubling, problem. Whenever I want to say (or feel I should say) anything on a conference call, at least one other person starts to talk at the same time.  A long, "No you!" "No, you!" "I'm sorry!" "Excuse me!" chain follows. I wish I could just listen on all the calls, but sometimes, I'm supposed to weigh in.
  • When I do manage to ask a question or make a statement, the other people on the call don't seem to know who I'm talking to, even though it seems obvious to me. Most recently, someone had to yell at me: "WHO ARE YOU ASKING, KATHLEEN?" In these moments, I'm very glad we're not having a video chat because I'd be blushing and sweating on camera instead of just in private.
Every single time on hanging up from a conference call, I feel I've earned at best a 6/10 for my performance. I'll keep practicing. I'll let you know if I improve.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Taper

My marathon is in two weeks, and I did pretty much all the workouts in my training plan. Well, to be honest, I did have to skip one or two of the hard ones because I'm pretty sure the plan was written for a younger person with enhanced ability to recover. I'm older--a masters runner--and I can only do a maximum of one-and-a-half speed workouts per week.

But, with the exception of that one week where I took an extra day off because I'd tweaked my Achilles tendon (on that run with the turkeys I wrote about), I ran all the miles. Yay!

Last week, I really celebrated my efforts by completing both of the prescribed speed workouts and my final 20-miler. I did that last long run all alone without my headset (I drove to a route and forgot it, which annoyed me till no end). In the final portion of the effort, I kept telling myself, "This is the last mile of your last marathon training run." It was a motivational little mantra.

It was the next day that I realized the problem with my end-of-run, last-mile pep-talk. While it's true that I was in the last mile of that particular marathon training run, I still actually have to go out the door and log the taper miles. I have skipped the taper in many a marathon cycle because I've been too busy teaching, but this time I'm seeing it through. Therefore, I still had a hill workout this week. I did four up-tempo miles yesterday in the early-morning dark. I did them even though I've basically been feeling like my legs are dragging for an entire seven days.

My friend Jordan says that my blah feeling is exactly appropriate. I should be excited to be feeling awful because it means I did the training just right. In two weeks at marathon time, I'll be totally ready. We'll see! I hope so, and I'm looking forward to lightening my load even further after today. Today's my last run over 10 miles. I've got 12, and I'm going with friends. It'll be way better than 20 with no friends and no headset.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Weather App

Every once in awhile, I get obsessed with some dumb thing. There's ear wax, remember? And pedometers? Well, now I've added checking the weather app.

Four or five or twelve or seventeen times a day, I'll refresh the damn thing, especially if one of the kids has an outdoor sporting event. Today, for instance, Shef is supposed to have a running race. For the last ten days, the weather app has predicted rain. For the last five days or so, it's been a 90-100% chance of rain. The icon shows a cloud with a lightning bolt to indicate that there might be thunderstorms.

It's not like I can do anything about this forecast. It's not like it's going to change dramatically in 45 minutes. Clearly, the weather forecasters think it's going to rain. If it's not going to rain, they don't know about that fact. All signs point to rain! And yet, I continue to check to app.

Sometimes I look at the radar on the app, as if I'm trained in radar. I know the basics, which is green or yellow over the place where you live means it's raining. I know from unfortunate experience that you can't always tell what the blobs of rain are going to do in the run-up to your location on the radar. They split and reform in mysterious ways. Maybe I could spend less time thinking about it, but probably I can't.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Let's Discuss the Fruit Fly Adventure

They're gross, and yet recurring. I've had fruit flies on an annual basis, I'm pretty sure, for most of the time I've been a homeowner. I think it's because of the compost? Or at other times, because of the garbage disposal? In any case, I have some now, little fruit flies in my face while I type at the breakfast bar. I researched some solutions, and I'm happy to report I have made my own fruit fly traps with cider vinegar and a bit of dish soap.

Naturally, I've become obsessed with checking on the traps and counting the number of flies I've snared. It's been a day and a half now, and I'm up to fourteen. This is good, right? But still, I've seen other flies perching on the edges of my traps, not falling into the liquid and meeting their inevitable ends.

What can I do to entice them? What will finally draw this unfortunate infestation to a close? I'll probably spend time googling this after lunch. My writing really slows down in the afternoon.

And so closes the August Adventure Challenge, just a few days late.

Friday, August 30, 2019

One More Adventure Weekend

Adventure was a harder theme than I imagined it would be, but I'm determined to post seven entries because that's the arbitrary target I set for myself, and I'm nothing if not rigid.

My adventure today is sort of pedestrian, but I think people are going to want to know about it. I've ventured into the wide world of canned alcoholic beverages. I'm talking the aluminum cans of bubbly rosé you might have seen at the liquor store check out. I'm also talking about the single-serve pre-mixed cocktails in adorable little, fruit-cocktail sized packages.

These handy beverages seems a little spendy for a single serving (like 6 dollars, either for the 8 oz can or the teeny cocktail can), but also the whole concept is brilliant. Who needs two old fashioneds? On a weeknight? While watching Bachelor in Paradise?

No one, that's who. But many people need just the one old fashioned. They need it with no mixing required, poured over ice and crafted with, like, what I'm sure are bespoke ingredients.

Speaking of Bachelor in Paradise, I'd be remiss if I didn't say it's the best season ever. The contestants have thrown themselves into boundless adventure, and I salute them and their public and often-flighty and seemingly shallow quest for love. A canned cheers to those adventurers! I haven't missed a single episode, and I won't.