Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: December 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

A Tale of Two Rocks

I love presents with stories.  I especially love giving them.  Anyone can buy something from a store, but something that takes some effort, or an explanation, or both, is usually my favorite.

Let’s back up to October, in Bonaire.  Every dive site is marked with these yellow painted rocks and it’s a big thing there.  We loved the rocks and mused to ourselves that our house needed to be an honorary dive site.

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Then, life got all busy and we never did anything about it, but I always kept it in the back of my head that it was something I wanted to do for Christmas.  Once I finalized the plan to take eleventy million days off in December, I figured it would be no PROBLEM to get it done.

Then, you start really thinking about the logistics.  I mean, Amazon doesn’t deliver a giant rock.  That’s usually my go-to.  But there are rocks all over, right?  How could you not find a rock?  My conscience also dictated it needed to be an unintentional rock.  It couldn’t be a piece of a path or in someone’s garden.  Something piled and left somewhere on public-ish property was the only fair game.

Armed with the address of a landscaping company in case of ultimate failure, and some tips from the internet on where to find free rocks, I set off last Friday to figure this out.

Step one was a trip to Lowes.  I walked up with my paint samples and told the nice gentleman at the counter that I was painting a rock.  After getting a strange look, he advised me that I should wash the rock, use primer (which I had at home), and he set me up with the paint most likely to stay on the longest.  Solid.  As long as I could actually find the rocks, I was in business.

Then, I went on a run with a purpose.  I started at my gym, which has a jogging loop around the lake which used to be a QUARRY (internet tip #1 for finding free rocks).  I figured I’d find what I needed in 2 seconds.  I even parked in the back and had a large backpack to haul it away.  One 1k loop around and everything was either a) intentionally making a path b) too jaggy or c) too small.  Curses.

I set off thinking that the cut through between the hospital parking lot and the neighborhood I usually run in at lunch was full of rocks.  Nope.  Nary a pebble.  Still great for trail runner stops but I guess I was peeing on twigs, not rocks.  Ah well.

I spent the entire run rubbernecking all around looking for freaking rocks, oogling peoples gardens and park paths.  I headed a mile down the street to look for rocks by the train tracks I always cross over.  Just right before that, I found this random large pile of rocks on the corner.  I found a few that would possibly work, but headed across the tracks to scout further.

No dice on the railroad tracks, but I headed up the street and encountered internet tip #2 – construction.  I found this rock that was incredibly jaggy on one side, but perfectly flat on the other.  Ok, I can’t pass that up.  I heft the boulder on my shoulder (I’m guessing it was ~30 lbs?) and carry it halfway down the street and deposit it near the road by a tree.

I’m actually about a quarter mile from my office and I want to stay the HECK out of there, so I turn around to go scope out the other rock pile again.  I find a good specimen, hoist and haul that one to the road for pickup (not far, like 50 feet) and then jog the couple miles back to the gym as quickly as I can, I’ve worked hard to locate these rock and don’t want anyone to… take them?

Luckily no one else wanted perfectly plucked rocks, and I went back and picked them up, put them in the back of my car, and trasported them home.  I carefully washed both sides of my rocks, and I didn’t have much time to do anything else, so I covered them up in the side yard.

Monday, once Zliten went to work, I dug out all our paint stuff and found brushes, a stir stick, the primer, but no paint key.  Eh, screwdriver works well enough, I get the primer open and stir it.  And stir it.  And stir it.  It’s super clumpy still.  I take one stroke and try it on the rock and… it’s a rock.  With tons of bumps and crevices.  So it’s fine.  Whew!

I figure I might be able to knock this thing out in one day since the primer says it dries in one hour.  After coating this rock with white primer, I went inside and magnanimously gave it TWO hours, and DRAT!  It was still wet.  Two more hours later, it was dry enough, but Zliten was on his way home.  So, I flipped it over, splashed the primer on the second side the best I could, and just as I was going inside, the garage door started to open, and here I am in paint clothes with a brush.

I yelped, ran and hid the brush, and excused myself to the bathroom (to scrub scrub scrub and quickly change) and he was none the wiser.  The only thing I forgot to do was put back a brewing bottle and a bottle of grain alcohol we hide in the garage some some dumbass doesn’t saddle up to our bar and pour a drink with it.  Zliten noticed, and I joked that I got really drunk and sobered up really quick.  He let that one go.

One day down, two more to go.  I officially told him the side yard was off limits for a few days, which piqued his interest, but I threw him off talking about tools and things I might randomly build.  This was not in my nature, but I’ve taken on weirder hobbies, so again, it was let go.  Whew.

Tuesday morning, the fucking rocks were still not dry.  They were in the shade and not getting any breeze under the covering.  So, I changed into paint clothes, and hauled them into the main yard to sit in the sun.  Finally, after baking in the sun all morning into the afternoon, they were ready for their coat of yellow paint on side 1.  I moved them BACK to the covered area in the side yard, painted them, and checked them right before sunset – they were still very wet.  Curses.

I’m now hoping that one thick coat will do it, because I’m out of time to keep flipping these things over and over.

Yesterday morning, I went to the rocks and OF COURSE the yellow is still soggy.  So, again, I change into paint clothes and drag the rocks out into the main yard again, into a spot that got the most sun.  I went out for a run, came back, and yaaaaaaaay, they had dried.  Amazing what some sun can do.  I flip them over and paint them and cross my fingers the sun bakes them quickly so I can finish and give them to Zliten tonight and don’t have to haul the fuckers back to the side yard for one more night.

The 80 degree Austin temps might suck for running, and be a little unseasonable for Christmas, but you know what they’re great for?  Drying yellow paint on rocks.  Around 4:30, I checked, and they were totally dry enough, so I got the black paint to do the numbering and lettering.  I got a bit of a scare when I couldn’t find a small brush, but after digging for it, I found one that was small enough.

xmaseve

That dried quickly enough, and since we planned to be outside and grill dinner last night, I knew that I had to give it to him right away.  I threw a dropcloth over it as he was coming home and as soon as I had an opening in the “how was your day” chatter, I was like “present”?  I dragged him out to the backyard as it was getting dark and told him to “unwrap” his present.

He was totally surprised and love it.  Probably the most effort I’ve ever gone through to give a present, but I’m not pissed at it at all because it was an adventure the whole way, made a great story, and was mostly EFFORT intensive, not going around to a bunch of stores looking for something to buy.

And with that, you’ve come to the conclusion of my tale of two rocks.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and all that jazz to you and yours.

Question of the day: what is the most unique present you’ve ever received or given?

Tradition!

On my run the other day, I got to think about holiday traditions and how people celebrate differently and figured I’d blog about what the holidays is to us.

First off all, we’re not huge in Chrismas kitch, but we LOVE twinkly lights.  So, by early December, we have our outside lights up and have decorated our tree.  Seeing the bright, cheery lights distracts me from the fact that the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting shorter, so they stay up until the day before we go back to work in January.

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The iguana typically spends most of December in the tree.  Doubly so this year because we put the tree where her enclosure used to be.

First of all, I usually get in a good, long-ish run (7+ miles) to offset what’s about to happen unless it happens to be offseason (like 2012), then it may just be a rest day. It just doesn’t feel right to start Christmas eve without sweat though!

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Zliten’s family always did presents on Christmas Eve.  We kept this one because it became our own little holiday, just us two, no matter what we had going on for the actual day. Sometimes we work that day, sometimes we don’t (this year, Zliten does, I don’t because I had lotsa paid time off to burn), but when we’re both home, it’s on.

The celebration starts with some sort of food we can pick at for the rest of the day.  The last few years, it’s been Din Ho chinese food – something like wonton soup, veggie delight, something with chicken, and beef noodle.  Then, we pour a drink – in the past it’s been absinthe for a green Christmas – but we’ve fallen out of that after finding the hangover the next day of sugar and high proof liquor to dampen the actual holiday a bit.

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My family made us wait until after Christmas dinner to open presents, which I still at age 36 think is bullshit, so we start the great gift opening as soon as we’ve had our first bites and sips.  My father’s side of the family is Jewish, he dropped that way before I was in the picture, but I suppose we incorporate a small bit of that in the way we do gifts.  We both enjoy getting each other a crap ton of presents (usually about 12, but sometimes we can’t control ourselves), but most of them are really small.  Past years have included things like cans of soup and chapstick and socks.

We open one present every 30 mins or hour (depending on how late the festivities start and how quickly we need to wrap things up to not be up until 4am) and typically watch Christmas movies or play Christmas music (or sometimes watch something we received as gifts – one year I gave Zliten all the Harry Potters and made him open them first, and we watched them all day).  It’s an excessive orgy of unwrapping and stuff, but I love it.

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Christmas day is always a day off training.  We sleep in and usually head up to my parents’ house (about 40 mins away) around noon and start the day with tamales (sometimes) while we wait for the incredibly elaborate feast to finish… frozen lasagna, garlic bread, and salad.  If I remember correctly, my mom just kinda said “fuck it” one year and did that because it was easy, and it was the BEST so we’ve just done that every Christmas since and it’s my favorite holiday meal ever.

My parents are not big gift givers or receivers.  They’re just happy to spend time with us.  My husband IS so they get super nice gifts anyway, but every year, we get the same thing – money, and some stocking stuffers.  No complaints here.  I never understood the whole stress around the holidays thing because my family was never like that, and I’m happy to continue that tradition.  Nothing needs to be PERFECT, we just need to be thinking of each other.

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And always with the goofy hat because… Christmas!

We eat, we play cards all day, we always have some sort of desert with peppermint in it.  This year, I’ve made homemade brownies and homemade ice cream – two flavors, peppermint oreo and butter pecan and they’re LEGIT.  There are way too many snacks and always a second helping of lasagna and sometimes a glass of wine or two, and it’s a great day.

Then… the 26th, there’s typically another long workout.  One year we did 110 miles on the trainer, sometime a long run, but it always feels good to actually put some of those carbs to good use and to shake out the sugar sludge and kick off the rest of the holiday break right.

Ask the audience: what’s your favorite family holiday tradition?

Slothiness and Pizza Tacos

Sometimes you have to get worse to get better.

And it feels like I’m kind of working through that.

soon

Just like my cat is working through a nap and not falling off the ledge.  It’s a hard life.

The good news is that I’m feeling a lot more relaxed.  The first day of vacation I was so anxious about everything.  Nothing could go right and I figured that taking a relaxing staycation at home was not going to go well. This happens as well after a race when I’m taking a break.  For a while, I’m like, hey, I don’t need this, I can totally just keep plowing through the training until the endorphins and either the glow of crushing a goal or the flame of redemption from biffing it subsides.  Then, I become completely and totally exhausted for a bit, while my body and mind are regenerating.

Now, on Day 7, I’ve gotten fairly well re-acquainted with my couch.  I’m somewhere between ultra-slothy and actually wanting to rejoin society… soon.  This weekend, I was excited to go out and do some social things, not so burnt out that leaving my house and interacting with people is a chore.  I spent a lot of time yesterday doing some chores, but I also spent a good amount of time reading, sleeping, and watching a movie.

I wish I could say the motivation to run has come back, because it really hasn’t.  It was the same drill last year, now that I’m thinking about it.  I had rosy memories about getting out around 4pm and running until sunset.  The reason I was running at 4 was because I couldn’t summon the motivation earlier and I hadn’t yet learned about running with headlamps or it might have been 9pm instead.  The reason I have ROSY memories is that the runs were nice once I got out there, so I need to keep doing that, but this lack of motivation is not the end of the world.

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I’ve been indulging a bit.  Believe it or not, these Pizza Tacos were actually fairly healthy in the scale of things lately.  Besides the indulgence of sitting on the couch, I’ve enjoyed some Christmas cookies, candies, and a whole lot of Christmas spirits.  I think I’m finally to the point where I’m a little sick of drinking, and that’s good.  I realized I haven’t had one of those type of vacations this year – I’ve been out of town only for races, family vacations, or a vacation where I’ve had to get up early and go be active every day.  This time, instead of being on a beach, I was on my couch.

The downside of this is my body feels a little sludgy, which makes the whole process of running a little less enjoyable, but that tends to shake out partway through the run, and I shall persevere.  I know that January will be awesome and awful as I get back to eating like an athlete, but I need this time right now.  So there.

Although I’ve been slacky, I did get some activity in last week:

  • 2 rides, approximately 2.5 hours and 40 miles.
  • 3 runs, approximately 2.75 hours and 15 miles.
  • 1 yoga/stretch session, 30 minutes
  • 5.25 hours

Not bad for my first week back even though it feels like I did almost nothing.  Baby steps.

Ask the audience: what’s your favorite Holiday indulgence?

 

Errand Girl Friday

If you know me well, you’d know that errands are my KRYPTONITE.  I also hate, hate, hate driving.  I try to order as much as I can online and condense things down to a store or two at the most, and always as close to my house or work as possible, even if I’m not getting exactly what I want or spending a little more so I don’t have to spend hours in stores or driving around.

While I used to be a “shopper” when I was younger, I also didn’t have so many demands on my time.  Now, all I want to do when I’m off work or done with my run or whatever is relax… not fight traffic, look for a parking spot, deal with a bunch of people who are oblivious and not paying attention, and then wait in a checkout line with tired legs and watching my free time tick away.

Proof

Proof I got dressed and left my house and drove my car.  I may have been wearing a sweatshirt and running tights, but at least it wasn’t PJs!

Today’s objective was a whole bunch of errands for both Holiday shopping and just regular stuff, plus a run in the middle.  I could have run around the house and gotten it done first, but I know me.  I would have put it off for a while waking up, and then after I would have showered and lounged on the couch, and then it would have been late and more traffic-y and I might have blown it off.  I also put on the list a place I wanted to eat for lunch (Parr’s Deli, great greek food) that Zliten doesn’t love as motivation to get my ass out.

I left the house around 11 (a little later than I wanted, but such is life), and had a bit of a false start when some dude almost plowed into me.  He had his blinker on and was slowing down, and then randomly decided not to turn and speed up as I pulled out.  Awesome.  However, it was not an omen.  The day actually was… dare I say… enjoyable?

I spent the day on missions.  I often get distracted in stores, looking at everything, and then I’m like – crap, it’s been two hours, I’m over this.  Not that I stayed COMPLETELY on task, I came home with a few extranous things, but I remembered today was about the list, not wandering.

Second, it was bright and beautiful out.  I think if it was gross out or dark I wouldn’t have been so happy.  I was looking forward to getting to my run so I got through my early errands quickly and then after my run, I felt pumped up and happy, not tired, and was on my way to finish up my list with a great attitude.  Breaking up errands with a destination run was a great decision!

Third, I forgot how much I love driving around with the music up loud singing.  When Zliten’s in the car, we have the music on super quiet or not at all and talk, which is nice, but I enjoyed my karaoke time.  In fact, I was a lot more patient waiting for lights because I was like, man, my jam’s on, I don’t want to be there yet.  I realized, like some people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, I don’t drive and talk well.  Music helps me concentrate and relax at the same time.

Fourth, it was my only goal today.  I didn’t have fifty thousand things to do like normal and get cranky at the tasks for wasting my precious time.  This isn’t typically something I can replicate in normal, non-holiday break life, but maybe I can change my mindset (3-4pm is errand time, and that’s my focus) or something.

Proof2

And finally… this was my reward… om nom nom chicken shwarma wrap!  They even had caffiene free diet coke so I could have a soda with my meal.  That never happens!

Over four hours later, I came home actually happy, not stressed.  For me, this was a magical day I was not expecting.  Now, I don’t think I’m going to be volunteering myself for a bunch of errands in the future or anything, but I think I may be able to find a way for it not to drive me crazy.  Sometimes.  Baby steps.

Now, let’s ask the audience: shopping – love it or hate it?

The Unfortunate Side Effect

I’m now one day into my holiday staycation, and mayyyyyybe I hyped myself up on it a little more than I should have.

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First of all, I was calling it a vacation, which is totally not accurate.  When you’re on vacation, you’re away from it all.  Ideally, somewhere remote, so you don’t spend hours dorking on social media.  You’re not faced with your house and the crap that’s piled up everywhere after a busy year… with finally enough disposable time to start doing something about it.  Also, you’re there with the stuff you intentionally packed, and guess what?  If you don’t have it, you either don’t really need it, or you go buy a new thing, there’s no hunting around for it.

I got hit by all these yesterday and it made me wonder if I’m cut out for being at home by myself for this long.

First of all, I decided I was going to spend just a few minutes catching up on social media.  An hour later, I realized I was just being ridiculous because I was still on Facebook.  I can’t completely shut it down since that’s how Zliten and I message when he’s at work and I’m not, but I’m trying to limit it.  My fear is looking back at the end of my break and realizing I spent most of it wasting time on the internet, which is neither productive, nor really relaxing.

Then, I decided I wanted some TV for background and went to turn to Universal Sports Network (for some random cycling, swimming, triathlon, etc), and found out they took the channel off the air!  My beloved bike trainer motivation!  The replacement channel is in another package, so I can’t even check it out to see if it’s worth it without calling the cable company.  I was not ready to deal with that yet, so I just put something else on and fumed about it.

The house was a complete and utter disaster, so I spent an hour picking up and cleaning stuff.  Just as I’m trying to do the dishes… the top rack comes off and a part comes flying out.  I’m not sure where it came from or what to do, so I just leave it and decide the dishes can fuck themselves for now.

After most of the house was done, I sat down and decided I was done with being productive, thankyouverymuch, and I was going to spend the rest of the day playing a video game.  The one I wanted to play required a disc… and it was nowhere to be found.  As I looked, I started grabbing junk that wasn’t supposed to be where it was, and after a while, I’d accumulated a nice pile.

I got so frustrated, I was very very close to just starting to grab every piece of JUNK in this house and piling it up in the living room to go through, but my lovely husband talked me down from it.  I said it was that, a drink, or a run, so I opted for the last one and headed out the door for my first run since the 26.2 two and a half weeks ago.

The first mile I sort of grumbled in my head about everything going wrong, but then the run magic kicked in.  I started noticing how pretty the sky was, and getting random songs in my head instead of cranky thoughts.  I even felt like my stride was decent and not super sludgy.

The upshot is the day got better from there.  I found the stupid game in one of the first places I looked but apparently not carefully enough.  Zliten fixed the dishwasher (to the point where we can still do dishes, though it needs a part which is on order).

Later, we went out for another blissful 3 miles and looked at the pretty lights and talked about games and life and just like that I had done 10k on my first day back running and I felt awesome.  There was a little hiccup where Zliten started talking about pace but we came to an understanding when I loudly told him about how many fucks I gave (none, less than none if that’s an option) and he stopped.

So, maybe it’s not as exciting as diving in Bonaire, riding bikes up and down a mountain in Alaska, trekking around Portland breweries, or snorkeling in Cozumel.  Not even close.  But, that’s ok.  That’s not what I need right now.  Just like we always try to balance the adventure with also some lounging on these vacations, I need to balance my productivity with slacking here at home.  If not, I’ll have a very organized house and a very burnt out psyche January 4th, and no one wants that.  Better to pick a few manageable projects that still leave plenty of time for slackitude.

Today, I’ve had a better start.  I slept in.  I’m listening to music and ignoring my TV.  I still spent too much time on social media this morning, but it’s shut down now.  I’m off to finish up the laundry, do one more load of dishes, do some light stretching and strength work (10k back my first day might have been… ambitious), and probably spend the majority of the remainder on my butt playing the Sims.  Because… balance.

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