Posts Tagged ‘portland’

Gaining Strength: One Year Later

January 4, 2015

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Exactly one year ago I signed up for my first ever Olympic weightlifting meet, having NEVER done anything beyond traditional lifts. I learned the basics in three weeks and at the meet, successfully completed both the snatch and the clean & jerk. I lifted the lightest weights at the meet, but I was hooked. I documented that whole process last year in a four part series, starting here: The Strength to be Strong.

Since then, I’ve continued training both Olympic lifts and in general strength and conditioning. I’ve now competed in two unsanctioned Oly meets, and one sanctioned one, where I proudly sported our team singlet. Let me tell you, I would have NEVER expected that to happen in my life– owning a singlet OR posting pictures of me wearing one online OR lifting weights in front of a crowd while wearing one.

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A new C&J PR set in competition: 48kg!

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If it isn’t obvious by now, I love weightlifting. I seriously appreciated it before this year, but it has now become such a mainstay in my life (4 days a week on average), which meant a lot during a fairly crazy year. A busy new work schedule (including one 33-days-of-work-in-a-row stint, and domestic and international work trips) would have normally deterred me from maintaining a regimen, but it honestly kept me sane. Focusing on physical work allowed me to take a mental break from everything else more times than I can count this year, and I am so, so thankful for that. Also? I swear that lifting weights in the hotel gym after flying to China erased my jet lag. That and I super impressed the Chinese businessmen by being the only female in there, and the only one throwing around any significant amount of weight.

Not only did I gain sanity and mental peace through weightlifting, but the community that I’ve joined at Industrial Strength Gym has made working out a social appointment I am more than happy to keep. The support, the camaraderie, the friendly competition, and just a giant room full of smiling faces make it one of my favorite places in the world right now. I see these people more than any of my other friends or any of our families, so liking them makes an hour in the gym a breeze.

Vickie (my "bartner") and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs.

Vickie (my “bartner”) and I are currently racing to be the first to deadlift 300lbs. Bitch, you’re going down!

As a result of this love and commitment, I am the strongest and most confident and comfortable with my body and myself than I have ever been. The large thighs I used to loathe are something I am proud to sport now. Nothing but slimming black yoga pants? Fuck that, give me a crazy ass pattern and let’s get wild. My ass is actually gaining a good curve, rather than just being a wide and flat white girl’s ass. And I have guns! With shadows of triceps! Some shirts don’t fit them anymore! What?! And I’m so okay with this!

No longer am I concerned with getting smaller. I just want to get stronger. As women we’ve had the messages of “take up less space,” “be smaller,” “shrink yourself,” and “don’t be an inconvenience” drilled into our brains from an early age. To shirk that and gladly acknowledge my strength and appear muscular is one of the most refreshing and liberating things I’ve experienced as an adult. Plus that feeling of denying someone’s help when they’re concerned your bag of groceries or that box you’re moving is too heavy, and showing them you’re more than capable of doing it yourself is, admittedly, amazing. I blew my grandparents’ minds when I moved a massive old TV for them on my own.

So, on the year anniversary of signing up for my first Olympic weightlifting meet, I signed up for my first powerlifting competition. Squat, deadlift, and overhead push press are the three lifts I’m competing in. Again, I know I’m not the strongest person out there. Not by a long shot. But having that goal to work toward is incredibly inspiring and I am more than stoked. Plus I’ve learned that it’s not about who lifts the most out of everyone, but just out of the people that had the guts to sign up that day. I could place last in my division, I could place first, I could place somewhere in the middle. I’m totally cool with any of those outcomes. To me, it’s all about the journey and seeing how far I come by the end of that day.

My husband and I are beginning our annual Whole30 on Monday the 5th (after some seriously fun food and drink indulgences over the holidays), and I plan on extending that until the powerlifting meet near the end of February. Not only that, I recently took a GEMS test to determine what foods work best with me on a lifelong genetic level (learn more about that here). Beyond the normal Whole30 guidelines I’ll be cutting out bacon, sausage, fermented foods, shellfish, dried fruit, and a few others. I’ve heard from people who’ve taken the test and eliminated their respectively appropriate foods that their health, well being, and even gym performance have improved significantly, so now it the perfect time to test that out. I signed up for a weight class that is right around where I usually hover, so this will be the first time I’ll have to monitor my weight, which should be interesting. The big takeaway from that though is not associating that number with an emotion, which I’ve gotten much better about during 2014. After all, it’s just a damn number.

I received a lot of great feedback from people regarding last year’s Strength series posts, as I’ve previously mentioned. I don’t plan on fully continuing that again this time around, but keep an eye out for updates on my training process and how the competition turns out. I’m so excited for it. 🙂

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And the World Continues Turning

August 12, 2014

BLOOOOGGGGGGGGG!

Hey there. I’d ask you how you’re doing, but you’re a website that just hangs out, and this conversation is entirely one-sided. But that haircut is fabulous, dear. Just superb. Sooooo, a number of big things have changed since we last spoke!

That new house I had mentioned moving into? Well, we did, with the help of a diverse group of friendly people armed with high fives and arms around boxes and toasts of cold beers. That little house we moved into has proven to be better than we anticipated. The backyard we initially viewed under a blanket of snow? Best thing about the place. We’ve planted all types of veggies and fruits there (with some help of our next door landlord/master gardener) and I’m currently buried in produce that I’m trying to preserve/can/dry/soak in alcohol as fast as my free time allows. Plus the adjacent patio is the ideal entertaining/happy hour location, and we’ve been soaking up sun, fun, conversation, and contemplation in that little spot as much as possible.

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can't even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

Surprisingly, this is BEFORE the garden went nuts. Now you can’t even see that trellis with all the tomatoes, cucumbers, spaghetti squash and zucchini that are snaking their way through it..

The previously mentioned next door landlords? Oh, are they the definition of Good People. They built us raised beds filled with the best soil. They tore down an old shed and built a new one, stocked with all the yard and garden care equipment we could need. They’ve had us over for cocktails in their beautiful and immense backyard, and they shared their family’s Easter feast with us. They’ve introduced us to a bunch of other really super nice neighbors. Heck, they even waved me over one Sunday morning and gave us a couple of freshly made crepes stuffed with fresh crab and topped with creme fraiche. Truly, truly great, generous people. Our hesitations about living next to landlords are gone.

A big change is that I am no longer driving 120 miles a day to a job marketing tasty craft beer. It had been a long and emotionally tolling job search.

(A quick aside with a few examples of that endeavor… I was a final candidate four or five times over the course of 18 months. I was offered a very mediocre [but well paying] job marketing a product in which I had no interest… that I turned down. I did a shit-ton of research on every place that I applied and produced detailed, personalized cover letters over and over and over again, oftentimes to no response and no avail. One snowboarding clothing company VP had me write an after-interview essay on digital marketing strategies, and after I sent it to him I never heard from him or the company again. Trust me, the list goes on.)

I loved the brewery, loved the product, loved the people, loved the place. Still do! But it wasn’t working for where I wanted to go and where I want to be. When I was offered the new gig of being a full time designer for a wholesale home decor company, I bid a friendly adieu, toasted a few pints with coworkers, exchanged a couple tears with my boss, and very amicably parted ways.

This is my first time being a 100% designer (no hyphenated job titles or duties for this gal!) and it’s already been so exciting. Skills are improving, influences are growing, confidence is… biggening. Biggening? Getting bigger. Broadening. See? I’ve stopped including “copywriter” in my job description and look how my vernacular has languished.

In the three months I’ve been there I’ve already traveled to Memphis and Atlanta, and will likely head to China sometime within the next six months. One of the neatest aspects is seeing conceptual products that I’ve roughly illustrated or patched together in Photoshop turn into real, three-dimensional products that don’t look like utter crap! I’m not diminishing my skills with that statement, it’s just amazing to see something I once considered a hobby, an afterthought, not even my major, turn into a full-fledged career that produces items that people will purchase and give meaningfully to friends or bring out each holiday.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a "Who's Who of Memphis" magazine.

Go to Memphis for the first time? End up in a “Who’s Who of Memphis” magazine.

We’re midst a summer that’s already been a busy whirlwind, and as per usual I’m already bemoaning the oncoming fall. I haven’t gotten enough of a tan yet, haven’t jumped into enough swimming holes, haven’t napped outdoors, haven’t played enough. The weekends are quickly filling up and still it feels like not enough time before the rains return and I can’t comfortably drive around with the windows down.

That all being said, life is darn peachy right now and I couldn’t complain a bit.

Moving Along

March 13, 2014

We’re moving from NE Portland to SE next week. Midst the expected chaos of packing, sorting, cleaning, and getting rid of stuff, we’ve had time to reflect upon the things we will miss and the things we will certainly not miss in our current abode. Comparatively, the lists are a little unbalanced.

THINGS WE WILL MISS

A very private backyard. Enclosed almost completely with a freestanding garage and giant laurel hedge, the backyard made a nice little retreat. Also: there was a few square feet of grass where absolutely no one could see you, unless they were in the house. Scantily clad sunbathing days are gone.

A bathroom with lots of natural light. I actually made a greenhouse out of the sunny, south-facing expanse we had out of our bathroom window and it always seemed cheerful.

My raised beds. Sean, my dad, and I built four 2’x4′ raised beds last year and filled them with excellent organic compost and soil, and in them I had my best garden to date. 
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Our firepit. Another thing we built last year and thoroughly enjoyed, especially when having friends over for a few beers around the fire on warm summer nights.

Our neighborhood. It’s a nice place near parks and schools with lovely neighbors, within walking distance of a grocery store, theater, liquor store, and a few decent restaurants, and has easy access to the highway and airport.

It was our first house together. So, you know, sentimentality and all that malarkey.

 

THINGS WE WILL NOT MISS

Not having a dishwasher. HOLY CRAP ARE WE SICK OF HAND-WASHING DISHES. Especially because I cook a lot of awesome food and we both have busy schedules. Dishes pile up easily in this place, so washing them is an hour-long chore of dread. This will be a HUGE timesaver.

Mowing lots of lawn. Our new place has modest patches of grass in the back and front yards, with everything else being established beds of neat plants. I hate mowing and our current place, with large front and back yards AND long sidewalk strips of grass, was the worst. Add in a crappy electric mower and it was my most hated warm weather chore.

Having only one bathroom. Where everything you do is easily heard by anyone else in the house. (That part of hosting guests was always awkward.) And your husband camps out in there for what seems like hours. And two people getting ready at the same time was near impossible due to its tiny size.

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Fabby hogs the sink. AGAIN.

Not having a fan with our stove. There’s a nice layer of greasy dust on everything near the stove because the ventilation in the kitchen is A.) a window, or B.) a door.

Stinky cupboards. For whatever reason, the cupboards and drawers at our current place have a weird old wood, old cardboard funk to them. If anything has been in there for a long time, you need to wash it first before using it because you’ll then taste it in your wine or dinner. While packing I found a stash of paper plates I had kept in the back of one and I immediately threw them out.

Oil furnace heat. Spending somewhere between $700-1000 once a year to fill a tank of fossil fuels to heat your house is the worst. Granted it does heat the house quickly, and if the place is smelly for whatever reason (say, the garbage wasn’t taken outside early enough), a spritz of perfume in the intake vent did instantaneous wonders. However, fuck that inefficient, unsustainable, and expensive noise. Literal noise, because that shiz is loud.

Bad bathroom lighting. Despite me loving the natural light in the bathroom, it’s a pain in the ass for eyebrow plucking. And the small spotlights directly over the mirror create harsh shadows that point out every conceivable bump on your face.

Weird laundry system. The washer empties into a large sink basin. If you don’t watch it vigilently, the small drain could plug up, the sink could fill, and the whole thing overflows. It only happened to us twice, but you could never just put a wash on and go. Also, the dryer doesn’t vent outside the house. Instead it vents into a little plastic basket on the floor, in which you’re supposed to pour a little water to trap the inevitable lint. That… kinda works? As a result, the basement turns into a sweating sauna. Nice in the winter, awful in the summer. And lint covers everything, including the popcorn ceiling.

 

You could easily just summarize this entire post with FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. Because they are. But! What you can easily deduce from these lists: we’re really looking forward to our new house. Onward and upward!

Living Alone

November 15, 2013

This oh-so Portland article about professional cuddlers and the need for human touch reminded me of the five and a half years I spent living on my own in my old little country house. I’d already been thinking about that time considerably, as I’m transitioning between tenants in my home there; as a result I’ve spent a number of hours within those walls doing menial repairs and reflecting upon the place where I’d spent so many hours, days, weeks, and months by myself.

I don’t recall being lonely, per se. But during those years, every now and again, I’d come to these stark realizations that I was, capital letters, ALONE.

One blustery winter I spent considerable time putting up and decorating a Christmas tree. I even topped it with a handmade, red foil-covered letter ‘S’ to take place of the star or angel I didn’t have amongst my mostly hand-me-down ornaments. It was lovely, in my eyes. One of the first things I’d do when I got home from work was turn on the tree’s lights. Only after Christmas and New Years, when I was taking the tree down, did I realize that no one else besides me had seen it in person. That seemed so wrong for the holiday. It retroactively almost rendered the tree– and thusly my effort– pointless.

Another time when visiting a friend they reached out and touched my arm. While I kept my cool on the outside, inside I surprisingly thrilled at the touch– only at that moment did I realize that it hadn’t happened in so long. I’m not sure how long it had been since my last tactile human interaction, but it had been enough to register with me in that moment, and only upon receiving the touch of another person did I recognize its absence.

When I first moved out of that house, trading up the country life for a much more fitting one in Portland, it was really tough to rent out that personal space. The house had truly become an extension of myself. When I trotted prospective tenants through it, seeing their eyes judging the chipped paint along the trim, its steep old staircase, or tiny kitchen, it felt like they were simultaneously judging me. As someone who has always intensely cared about what others thought of her, this was more than tough. In fact my first and only panic attack I’ve ever had was right before my future in-laws came to the house to help me spruce it up before renting it out. The whole point of their visit was to find what was wrong and fix it. It was horrifying.

Only then did I realize that through all the time I’d spent in that house, alone, painting walls and cooking meals and paying bills and cuddling with cats and hosting dates and scaring away raccoons, I was living within this larger version of me. The bathroom I painted hot pink. The sun porch where I drank my coffee. The creaky third step. The drafty second floor. The leopard print carpet. The crooked kitchen cupboards. It was all me.

I’ve now been out of that house for almost three years, and that connection and sense of external identity are almost gone. Now I consider it more of a nuisance, a physical space that’s holding me back. I notice its faults more readily and oddly are more compelled to fix them. In its place is a great sense of home I’ve established with my husband, with whom I cuddle, hug, kiss, headbutt, pinch, grab, smack, and poke so often it’s ridiculous. It’s such a stark contrast to those solitary years in the country. I think if you plopped one day’s worth of the physical contact I have now to that of those years, the side-by-side difference would be dizzying. Obviously the more recent living and interactive conditions are the ideal, but I don’t look upon my years of living alone as a negative time. If anything, it helped lay the foundation for the independence I enjoy now within my marriage and cohabitation with my husband. There’s a small sense of accomplishment in that I know I can be alone, and be content while being alone.

Extended Eye Contact with a Stranger, Or, How I Inadvertently Became a Paid Face

June 13, 2012

I received a call on a sunny Sunday morning. “We’d like you to come out to a casting call for [well known and loved video chatting software company] on Wednesday. It’s for the part of ‘female lovebird.’ Dress like you would on a date with someone you really like. Are you interested?”

Last summer I had submitted my info and a couple photos on a lark to be an extra on Portlandia. I made the list of extras, but never set foot on set. Apparently the company that cast the show still had me on file, and between them, the San Francisco ad agency, and the software company they narrowed down a field of possible lovebirds to include me.

Wednesday morning I show up to a studio in an industrial north Portland neighborhood looking like this.

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Cheeseball cell phone self portrait, stumpifying limbs since 2007.

I had agonized over my outfit. Scrolling through the photos on my phone will show I tried at least 5 others, sending them to girlfriends for advice (as well as getting Sean’s in person opinion). I even curled my hair, something I’ve done maybe three other times in my life.

I saw only one other girl who was my competition during my brief time at the casting call. A short, petite brunette who was definitely cute, but chose a more Portland hipster look for the occasion. Considering I was the exact opposite, I figured it could go either way.

I filled out a form, they took some photos, and I briefly joked with the photographer about having acting experience. First answer to his inquiry: “No, not really.” Second, after dramatically whirling around: “But! I could.”

Late Friday I received a simultaneous text and email saying I had received the part, and it would shoot the following Wednesday. I sent them my acceptance, personal information (including clothing sizes), and over the next few days emailed with the stylist and the producer about what I should bring (flats, heels, nude bra, same lipstick I wore to the casting call) and that I was curl my hair as before and not wear makeup. I also badgered the producer about more information on the project, inquiring about the agency handling it and what type of campaign this was for. My advertising major, geeked out enthusiasm was thinly veiled and I totally betrayed my act of being cool.

That Wednesday I went to work for a few hours before zipping home, spending an hour curling my hair (it seriously takes that long), and heading over to the cavernous warehouse space where the shoot was happening. Getting there 15 minutes early allowed a chance to sneak a peek at my “male lovebird” counterpart– a well dressed and coiffed dude that looked like a slightly Japanese Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The producer and I went over my personal details (including the all important address for sending the paycheck), the stylist showed me my outfit (a blue gingham dress startlingly similar to one I own already with a bright yellow cardigan) in a couple sizes, and then I aimlessly wandered around the warehouse, waiting for “my moment.”

There were representatives from the ad agency and the software company were camped out on a table, all furiously typing away on their Macbooks, none of them talking to each other. I felt riotously uncool. Later in the day when I asked the table a question regarding the producer’s location, it took them a good 5 seconds to recognize someone was talking to them. It was awkward.

The smaller sized dress fit me perfectly, but we declared it “too booby.” Well, only I used that phrase– they much more diplomatically decided “more fabric” was a better option. So I wore the larger dress, and we yanked it up and tightened the straps so that my cleavage wasn’t a distraction from the large button that read, “I’ve upgraded!” on it. The bright yellow cardigan was pinned to the dress, and after a debate between the stylist and photographer as to how the cardigan was to open on my chest (“Should it lay like this or like… this?”), they taped it to my skin so it didn’t move during the shoot. A disturbingly small amount of makeup was put on my face and I was determined to be ready to roll.

Note wonky bustline, candy pink nails, and the “I’ve upgraded!” button.

The camera set up was the most professional I’d ever seen. But then again I haven’t been around very many professional shoots that aren’t using natural lighting as its main light source. The camera and its ring flash were gigantic (so much so that the photog had to take frequent breaks to rest his arms), and the lighting set up was fascinating. They had me use my own phone (“Is it an iPod? No? Awesome.”) and I would pretend like I was texting, and then when prompted, look up at the camera like I was trying to stay engaged in a conversation while texting. Since I have totally practiced that face dozens of times, I nailed that shit. Only halfway through the shoot did someone from the software company think to ask me if my Android phone was the kind that allowed video chatting. When I said it didn’t, they went through the shots on a mega computer screen and determined it could be Photoshopped to avoid the inevitable tech nerd backlash.

That’s me on the screen, the photographer assessing, and the software company dude is about two seconds out of the frame. Since I was already using my phone, I snapped a pic.

When I wasn’t pretending to text, I was smiling. A lot. Sometimes directly at the camera, and sometimes I was looking off camera. During those times they had me maintain eye contact with a photo assistant, and let me tell you, extended eye contact with a stranger is awkward. Even more so when you have to lovingly smile at him, or pretend to laugh, or look like you’re sharing a secret. I felt like I was flirting, but doing so for a really drawn out period of time while being analyzed by a half dozen people. I made sure to mention at some point I had a fiance just so he didn’t get any ideas.

In between takes I’d contort my face and make fishy faces just to stretch my muscles– smiling that much was actually becoming strenuous. And it was hot under those lights– my feet were definitely sweaty. Every now and then the stylist or her assistant would come over, blot my nose or adjust my curls or my sweater. They would all talk with each other about my smile or my hair like I wasn’t a conscious person attached to them and within earshot– I started feeling like a face rather than a person. Quite like a piece of meat. It was weird. Suddenly any notion of my intelligence or skills or experience was a non-issue… I was “the talent” and my job was taking direction and not appearing too hideous. Most of them didn’t even recall my name, they just referred to me as “our lady lovebird.”

After 3 hours at the studio the shoot was complete. I shook hands with the people involved and changed back into my less clean-cut street clothes, and that was it. The second I changed clothes I was done, and clearly it was time to leave as they were moving on to their next model– a dude with giant sideburns whom they dressed in acid wash denim and a vest and referred to as “throwback guy.” I departed and despite the all of the awkwardness, felt like I had accomplished a little bit of something. Outside the sun was shining and I determined a beer on the front porch was the perfect way to celebrate my afternoon as a model.

Breakin’ it on Down

April 23, 2012

This past weekend was a sunny whirlwind of activity. From wine bars and strip clubs to family dinners and lunch with friends, a wedding, a makeover, baby nephew jostling and gardening in rare 80 degree April heat, I’m left exhausted on this Monday morning. Here’s a breakdown:

Plants planted: gladiolas, ranunculus, poppies, sunflowers, and freesia in a new garden bed I made around where we had buried Rose the chicken. In the veggie garden (now with our homemade compost mixed in, thanks to Sean) I planted purple pole beans. Other vegetable seed plantings were abandoned due to late-in-the-day exhaustion and justified wariness of sunburn.

Number of former sorority sisters seen at my college roommate’s wedding: ten

Number of strippers seen at Union Jacks: we lost count. Twenty? Twenty five? There were enough lingering about to make the place seem more like a brothel than a strip club. Also, one bit me. I worried about potential hepatitis contraction.

Number of glasses of champagne/sparkling wine consumed throughout the day on Saturday: five. Maybe six. Between my wedding hair and makeup trial at my mom’s (attended by my sister, grandmother, future mother-in-law and nephew) and the aforementioned wedding that night, I fulfilled my imaginary month’s champagne quota easily.

Number of couples that have broken up since we sent out our save the date announcements (as of this weekend), addressed to them as a couple: five

Number of insect stings: one

Number of times I kissed my nephew before he and my sister went back to Canada this morning: too many to count

Bonus wedding hair and makeup photos! The makeup is perfect; I think it will be exactly like this on the big day 4 months from now. The hair wasn’t nearly as big as I am shooting for, and we’re going to have another hair trial in the near future to achieve my ideal giant-Brigitte-Bardot-updo look.

I'm still wearing those false eyelashes today at work. Monday glam!

I also purposefully timed the hair and makeup trial to be the day of my friend’s wedding so I could at least have an already made up face for the occasion. Since the hair didn’t turn out as I plan it will on the wedding, I just kept that in and threw on a dress for the occasion.

Both the makeup and hair held up wonderfully through a warm day of eating, drinking and dancing.

Side note: I definitely had bright yellow vinyl pumps I thrifted to match that belt.

Another side note regarding tinyfication: while I’m (again) roughly still the same weight as I was back in January (when I last tried on my wedding dress), putting it on with hair, makeup and veil on Saturday revealed that I will definitely have to take it in before August 25th.  Timeline shows I have 2 more months or so to get smaller before stopping entirely and maintaining weight for the sake of dress alterations. I have photos of from the entire look this past weekend, but am not making those public for the sake of surprise. Also, Sean will read this and he would be so pissed if he accidentally saw me in my dress ahead of time. It’s adorable. HI, DEAR!

A Mood Changer

March 19, 2012

Portland's Shamrock Run 8k Course

Sean and I went out for a sensational prime rib dinner last night to celebrate our finishing the 8k Shamrock Run through a drizzling downtown Portland that morning. Neither of us particularly enjoy running nor do we ever really run, and while it was pretty easy for him (homeboy is pretty damn fit), it was fairly arduous for myself. So much so that when I finished I felt more grumpy and self-critical than anything close to accomplished or proud, even if it was the farthest I had ever run. Ever! I regretted the few times I had to walk. I regretted how long it took me to finish. My ankle hurt. I had to go to the bathroom but didn’t want to use a porta-potty. I was damp and cold. The crowds became overwhelming. In other words, I became a giant, whiny baby. The treat of a fancy dinner was much needed.

We thoroughly stuffed our faces with thick slabs of prime rib (carved tableside!), fresh broccoli, herbed rice or mashed potatoes, a bottle of Argentinian malbec AND decidedly un-paleo desserts (hot fudge sundae, chocolate mousse). We laughed and had a great time. My mood was drastically altered, and we hailed the awesomely retro Clyde’s Prime Rib as a place we must take others.

Clyde's Prime Rib, post dinner and dessert carnage

When the bill came, I happily pronounced that its total was exactly what I had anticipated it to be. Without missing a beat, Sean responds, “Looks like the Leapfrog computer I got you for Christmas is really paying off!”

We then died. It was a good day.

Things I Learned This Week

February 7, 2012

With an ever-decreasing attention span thanks in majority to modern technology, I absorb a lot of little, interesting tidbits over the course of a week. Facts, thoughts, things of note, glimpses into something deeper. I feel like dispelling these in one place, all at once, might be useful at least to myself. Like I’m puking up my short term memory. “My, but that’s what Twitter is for!” you declare. Well, yes, asshole, I guess you’re right. Shhhhh… Let me play around with writing formats, okay?

  • My faith in Sean as a coach increases. Not only is he coaching our friend Nicole in self-defense/murder before she jaunts off to Turkey and Jordan for weeks, but he also somehow convinced me to run the 8K leg of next month’s Shamrock Run. Now, I used to jog on a regular basis. In fact it was my principal workout several years ago. I loved taking a run along the Columbia River in The Dalles or up through blossoming cherry orchards on winding country roads. With a good playlist, I just kept going. Then family genetics caught up with me, as all the women in my family said it would, and my knees cried for a ceasefire. I stopped, and since then haven’t really done much else in terms of running beyond sprints and occasionally jogging a bit to warm up before another workout. But the fact that Sean will be there beside me (you will, right honey? Please??? Shit.), encouraging me, telling me I’m kicking ass, just like he always is when we workout together, makes it seem a million times more doable. He is the only guy I’ve dated with whom I actually enjoy exercising. He makes me test my limits and push myself further, but safely. He knows I can do it and tells me as such. For that, I thank you dear.
    Now, to pull out my knee high, bright green socks emblazoned with the word BEER on each leg and get this thing done.
  • Stinky, sulfur-rich veggies (onions, garlic, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts) are super good for you. I vaguely knew that taking the extra effort to chop up an onion and add it to a recipe was worth it for reasons beyond just taste. Here’s a great article why.
  • Fashion blogs and Pinterest are simultaneously helping and not helping my wardrobe. Pro: I’m thinking of new, fun ways to combine and wear pieces that I already own. Con: I want to buy, buy, buy. Which is bad in itself, but considering I’m also changing dress sizes regularly (I went down two sizes in a little over four months and am now the smallest size I’ve ever been as an adult), it’s just impractical. It’s bad enough I’m buying 1-2 pairs of (cheap!) jeans in each size with which to just get by.
  • My dear friends in Florida won’t be making it to our August wedding, but for the best reason possible: baby #2 is due right around then. Sad I won’t be able to see them for the first time in 5 years, but very, very happy for them and their growing family. I said it’s okay as long as the baby is named after me. Stephanie for a girl, Stephen for a boy.
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race is so, so great. Photo shoots + costume design + fashion show + lip synching to the death + queens = I want to watch this all day, every day.
  • Figuring out how to utilize our accumulated air miles for our Italian honeymoon is really confusing. I’d elaborate further, but that sentence trumps any explanation simply due to gross FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.
  • Stripping my diet to almost all unprocessed basics has caused me to look at holistic versions of a lot of things in my life. And whenever I flirt with the concepts of holistic medicine, I think of this and wise up:
    Toothpaste for Dinner - I Hate Modern Medicine
  • Another experienced climber dies on Mt. Hood. It goes to show you that even something that is climbed as often as Hood can be unpredictable and dangerous. Kind of like the time I was coming down from its summit and a giant chunk of ice almost took out my head. Scary stuff.
  • According to the new and improved USDA Plant Hardiness Map, my little corner of Portland is Zone 8b: 15-20F. I’m coming down with a touch of my annual eeeeeeeeeeeeee!spring-is-coming fever, and have already started brainstorming this year’s garden. Considering I’ve gardened in something like a desert for the past several years, I’m very much looking forward to a whole season in this “new” climate.

 

“Hey! How are the chickens?”

January 12, 2012

We get this question a lot. Apparently having chickens is still a novel thing, and considering we don’t have kids to ask about, nor does anyone really want to hear that the cats are just lazing about like fat, entitled cats are wont to do. People want to know about the chickens. Here’s the scoop, presented en masse. Wait, should I call this COOP SCOOP? Or just die first?

"Artistic interpretation" and the actual, neurotic Nora

Nora, the beautiful but permanently befuddled Polish Crested chicken, has a problem with logic. She won’t sleep in the chicken coop at night with the other chickens. She’d rather sit on the roof, in the rain, in the wind, in the frost, than roost inside the warm coop each night. The next morning her normally fluffy feather bouffant is soggy, sad looking side part.

We have serious doubts she will last the winter (although she is lucky this is a fairly mild climate) because she’s just that dumb. The coop isn’t too crowded, the other hens stopped picking on her months ago, but still. She unnecessarily tortures herself. So we’ve resorted to going out at night and “putting her to bed” by hand, and then locking the ladies in their coop for the evening to all stay warm.

A culprit KIA?

We also have a rodent problem. Some mousey buggers are burrowing holes in the chickens’ enclosure to raid their food at night. We can’t poison them because the cats like to catch the mice, traps wouldn’t be the greatest for fear of chickens or cats getting in them.  Enclosed live traps are creepy (what do you do with the mouse/mole/rat/thing after you catch it??), and the somewhat okay method we tried (floating sunflower seeds on top of a bucket of water so they jump in and drown) didn’t work. The easiest method we could come up with is putting the food in a plastic bin at night. So not only do we put the chickens to bed, but we also put their food to bed.

With the cold winter weather finally here, and some seasonal molting taking place, egg production has also dropped significantly. We went about 2-3 weeks without any eggs at all before Ruth, the black hen, finally started laying again this past weekend. Buying eggs from the store sucks, and I think the cost savings on eggs from the rest of the year will be negated during these months.

We do still love having the chickens though, and talk about at some point in the distant future that if we had chickens again, we’d definitely have more than just four. Four is small enough that it’s noticeable when one or two stop laying, and it’s easier for a certain chicken (ahem, Nora) to be very noticeably at the bottom of the pecking order. But the things are just damn funny. This morning I went out there and toss them spoonfuls of canned pumpkin. Three of them started digging in, but Ruth, the sassypants that she is, sniffed at it, balked, and then walked over to me and clucked like, “FUCK THIS SHIT, WHERE ARE MY NOODLES?”

They love noodles.

Done Got B’trothed.

July 15, 2011

That’s right! I am now an engaged lady.

Promised to an occasionally grizzled dude.

(us a week before the proposal)

Who, despite me being fairly sure he was going to propose at the coffee shop where we had our first date mere days before my birthday, managed to surprise me with a whole group of family and friends, smiling, laughing, clapping and waving handmade signs across the street.

Since I said yes (there really wasn’t much doubt), he declared it a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

We've had jokes rooted in this sign and other 9/11-based politics since our first date. Yep, we decided "This might be going somewhere!" when we shared our first politically incorrect joke.

And I declared it a smashing success because he bought my dream ring, a vintage number I had found months prior.

MY PRECIOUS.

Oh, and because I’m marrying the guy I love to bits.
Bits, I tell you!

"Show the ring!" "How am I supposed to hold it up without looking ridiculous?" Apparently not like you're going to backhand the camera.

So that’s some news, I guess. 🙂