Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Entry Isn't Funny At All. Just So You Know.

Since college, I’ve gone through phases of getting in and out of shape. The in-shape phases have been motivated by wanting to be less frumpy, wanting to run a fast marathon, wanting to fit into my clothes better, wanting to distract myself while writing my thesis, wanting to lose the fifty-odd pounds I gained in pregnancy, and wanting to feel less stressed.

Last summer, the challenge of training for a totally new sport was a perfect foil to the graduate-school work which was no longer exciting to me – reviewing the literature on digital literacy and learning about my ethical research responsibilities. Brain stuff that wasn’t all that rewarding.

This summer, I returned to triathlon to make myself feel happier after an unexpected disappointment. I came to it to make myself feel good. And so I’m a little easier on myself in training, which is a pleasant surprise. I’ve never been a just-get-out-there exerciser, but I have to say, it’s kind of nice to run slow if I feel tired, and I like to stretch out in the pool if I feel sore.

I recommend it heartily, actually.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Yesterday, I got up at 4:08 am to get ready to drive to Chisago City for my first triathlon of the season – a 400-meter swim, 20-mile bike, and 5k run.

I arrived at the park at 5:30, and after I’d checked in and finished setting up my transition area (tris are a bit more complicated than running races in that you need a bunch of gear quickly accessible between each leg of the effort), I headed down to the beach, wearing spandex from neck-to-knee, to wait for my wave to go off.

I only had a few moments of, “Why the hell did I sign up for this?” – historically my most common pre-race sentiment – before we waded in thigh-deep and heeded the two-step command to start swimming.

The biggest problem of the day was finding my bike rack each time I entered transition. There were 1200 people participating in this event, and that equals a lot of stuff.

Even though I told myself while I was out there that I was just doing this "as a celebration of fitness," we all know I really like to beat people. As I finished in the top third of my age group and the race overall, I'd say that's pretty much okay.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

He Wears Yellow Crocs Now

Last summer, a pair of lime-green Crocs sort of changed our lives. He wore them, oh, maybe 280 of the last 365 days.

The greens are now too small, and we're on to yellow. He seems to like the yellow just as much.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Don't. Stop. Thinkin' About Tomorrow.

First, I fell of my bike again on Sunday. I wasn’t even riding the bike with the fancy pedals. And once again, I was standing at an intersection. Of course, it was supremely embarrassing.

So given this incident, the one described below, and the unfortunate occasion on which I prompted my spinning instructor to repeatedly shriek, “PRESS THE EMERGENCY BRAKE!” it seems the only bikes I’ve fallen off of in my adult life have been stationary.

Second, I have finished the last of the Harry Potter installments, and I am deeply satisfied.

Third, it’s not too late to join the Top Chef challenge. Come on! Guess this week's loser and post the name in comments.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Trying to Get Away, Into the Night

On Monday, Cycling Mentor Jamie gave me a lesson in how to change a flat tire. I also bought a little under-seat bag to carry an extra tube, tire levers, and a CO2 cartridge. It's stuff I should have had all along, frankly.

Today, on my first ride with my new supplies, I flatted 12 miles from home. Thanks to Jamie’s careful instruction, I thought I knew what to do. I calmly dismounted and got to work on changing the tube.

Just as I was finishing, a guy came out of his nearby townhouse to see if I had everything in hand. “You got it?” he asked.

“Yep,” I said, re-setting the chain, pride surging through my spandex-clad body. I felt victorious, actually. Like I'd accomplished an important and edifying triathlon rite of passage. I refastened my helmet and smiled at the guy. “I feel victorious,” I told him.

“Um,” he said. “Well. Good then.” He pinched the back tire and helped me spin the pedals to get the gearing worked out. “You should be ready to ride.”

So I did. For 11 more miles.

I didn’t find the second flat to be quite as empowering.

I didn’t have another tube, so I was forced to get off my bike and walk the last mile home across the Franklin Avenue bridge while wearing my form-fitting outfit, including shorts with a huge pad in the ass. My helmet hung from the handlebars, as I pushed my incapacitated cycling machine on the sidewalk while lots and lots of cars whizzed by.

I felt like a total tool, to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It's All About Finesse, Style, Grace, and Elegance

I’ve found that dinner is more enjoyable if I present the food I’ve made a la Top Chef.

For instance, this evening I stood to the right of Dan’s chair, swooped his dish dramatically down to the placemat, and recited: “Tonight we have a San Marzano tomato sauce served over whole-grain pasta. The sauce is built on an olive oil and garlic base, featuring farm-fresh zucchini and red scallions, and garnished with fresh sprigs of basil. On the side, we have a fresh caprese salad with Minnesota-grown tomatos, organic avocados and vidalia onions, and fresh mozarella with a balsamic drizzle. Please enjoy.”

Then a terse nod, and straight to my seat to test the seasoning.

I recommend trying this at your house for kicks. I also recommend watching Top Chef.

Seriously, why haven’t you? They do a marathon on Bravo every Wednesday before the new show airs at 9 Central.

Please enjoy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I Think the Whole Shrimp Course Was Really Poetic

I have avoided checking my school email this summer, but today I logged in.

I logged in, and I downloaded the superintendent’s e-newsletter for July, which included information about the "Wellness Policy." Apparently this document mandates that carbonated beverages will no longer be available for purchase anywhere on school property.


Including the staff lounges.




Do they have any idea what will happen to the quality of my English instruction after fourth hour if an emergency Diet Coke is beyond the realm of possibility?

How does the "Wellness" Policy think we survive in a building with fifteen-hundred teenagers every day?

And what are their plans for dealing with the increased need for mental health counseling due to sixth-hour nervous breakdowns?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Living Large

Rachel told me she thought I might be too old to appreciate Zach Braff's manifesto, Garden State, which arrived this afternoon from Blockbuster.

Too old! Pish tosh. Listen, I get angst like nobody's business.

For the record, I watched and enjoyed Braff's fine film this evening on a portable DVD player complete with my own comfy headphones. Dan sat next to me on the couch customizing his quarterback avatar on Madden 2007, an endeavor that occupied our television.

I gotta tell you, it's a romantic life here in married-almost-five-years land. You newlyweds have a lot to aspire to.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Long, Boring, and Ultimately Embarrassing

Because of My Stupid Master’s Degree™, begun four years ago, and, you know, Shef, also begun four years ago; I haven’t seen any movies or read very many literary books in that amount of time. Four years.

I’ve set about remedying that situation this summer by joining Blockbuster Online and reading stuff. I read a little and watch a little every day. In case you want to know what I’m reading or watching you can look in the right sidebar, where I’m keeping a list. If you don’t care what I’m reading and watching, then you don’t have to look at it.

Also, I’m doing triathlon training, which brings me joy. This summer, I’m riding my new road bike with clipless pedals, the kinds of pedals that your shoes lock in to. The kinds of pedals that bad-ass and wannabe bad-ass cyclists use.

The trouble with clipless pedals is that, you know, you clip your feet into them. And then when you want to stop and put your feet on the ground, you have to be able to clip them OUT.

This hasn’t been a serious problem, except today. After I’d already clipped out my right foot and was waiting at an intersection, right foot on the ground and left foot clipped in; I lost my balance.

I lost my balance, began falling to the left, but of course the left foot was still locked into the pedal, and there was no time to get it out. In a panic, I reached out for cycling mentor Jamie, who happened to be right there. But in reaching for her, I really just pushed her down.

And then we were both on the ground under our bikes. When I first got down there, my left foot was still clipped into the bike, and I had to lift the bike off my legs and twist my foot violently to toward the ground in order to be able to stand up again.

This took time. And there were several witnesses.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I'll Show You Run-of-the-Mill

Lee recently asked for boring stories. Well, today we cleaned out our basement, extracting no fewer than nine trash bags of junk and half-a-garage full of second-hand furniture that’s ready for a third hand.

While we were at it, Shef played with Nana. We all had dinner together, and then when we got home, I ordered some more knight books from Amazon because I’m really sick of reading In the Castle fifty million times a day.

That’s all.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

All of His Research is Really Paying Off

We saw a billboard featuring a suit of armor on the way home from the bagel shop this morning.

“That’s what I wear when I fight,” Shef said knowingly. “Armor, a shield, and chainmail.”

“Hmmmm,” I said.

“Yep,” the would-be fighter continued, “armor protects knights against swords, spears, lances, and other weapons.”

And I’m so glad he’s using his powers for good.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Everyone Should Really Eat More Organic, Local Food

Anyone who’s spoken to me for more than five minutes this summer knows I’m completely obsessed with the vegetables. They come from Richard at Harmony Valley Farm each Thursday, and I fixate on becoming more organic, more green, and much more healthy via consumption of these magic fruits of our Midwestern land.

I’ve been chatting nonstop about the veggies since January, and Dan still thinks it’s funny to pretend he has no idea what I’m talking about.

What vegetables?” he’ll ask distractedly, as I read through recipe ideas and serve up delicious organic meals and side dishes.

This nonchalance does not subvert my passion, I’ll tell you what.

So far, my goal has just been not to throw anything away, but now my rock-star colleague Jackie, who turned me on to the farm in the first place, has started up a blog devoted to sharing ideas about using Harmony Valley products. This is seriously going to elevate my cooking. Mark my words.