Adjusted Reality

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

Month: July 2023

Progress, or at least the absence of regression

It’s been a heck of a month, so far, y’all.

I feel like this picture from the Paris Museum of Architecture sums up some days perfectly!

I mentioned here that I came back from Germany with a shiny new promotion. It’s the kind that gets announced publicly and I didn’t think it was a big deal because I thought I was doing the job already but, SPOILER ALERT, no, I was not, at least not fully. It’s funny to look at musings of past me talk of being busy, and talk about feeling the weight of responsibilities. Past me was adorable. 🙂

I know this too will pass. Once again for the fourth time in three and a half years I am adjusting to a new title and set of duties. I like that better than everything staying the same for too long and me getting bored and life feeling stagnant, and I’ll never say otherwise, but I’m really glad that this is the job I think I’ll keep for a while. That means I get to learn how to succeed here and also succeed at having a life too.

One huge non-work accomplishment? Y’know that silly little game called Bloodbowl I’ve been playing for four years, ten league seasons, and something like 1600 hours? Well, I finally won a championship!

This game has taught me a lot about patience and persistence, and how to recover when (not if) I fail. Weirdly enough, I found myself not really loving the Amazons, they are this weird mix of not agile, fast, or tough, but their skills make up for it when everything works. And thankfully this time it worked through the entire playoff season instead of my team imploding somewhere between the quarterfinals and the final game. This was the third time I made it to finals in the last year, and I’m thrilled to have checked that box. Now I get to play a really crappy team – as is tradition for the winner in the season after – and I get to just have fun with it for a while.

Speaking of this non-work life stuff, I’m here to give a quick check in on my year goals. I thought about waiting until the end of the month but that felt like “starting the diet on Monday”. Through these check ins I usually get inspired to be more productive or get back on track. So, let’s go.

#1 – Weigh 180.6 by the end of July

Well, to the letter, sure. I weighed in at 180.6 earlier this week. But, I know I mean trendweight, and no, that’s currently 182.4. My low point was mid-May (180.8) and I’ve gained about 1.5 lbs since then. I’ve deserve it, it’s not a surprise with travel, races, and spotty tracking of my metrics. The good news is I seem to be on a downward trend this last week, and I’m back to normal in terms of what I’m eating and doing a little better at expending calories.

  • Week of July 10th – +175 calories
  • Week of July 17th – not done with the day yet, but I anticipate being about the same here

This is better than last month.

One of my challenges is that I like to walk for extra snack calories (and because walks are awesome, it’s a win win), and it’s hot AF right now. Could I walk in feels like 115? Sure. I have before and I’ll do it again. Do I WANT to walk in this weather? Hells to the no. So, this week I started giving myself the choice of “walk or trainer” instead of “walk or just overeat a little” and so far I’ve been able to convince myself it’s a thing. It sounds like such a minor thing, but many days the 200 calories are the difference between being under or over and when this happens repeatedly, that’s where the inches start building into progress or regression.

I have 8 more days. I don’t think I’ll make 180.6 but I’m motivated to keep playing the game of inches.

I need to get back here

#2 Strength Over Stamina

While I don’t think I’m making too much progress here, I am definitely not regressing, and I’m perfectly happy with that considering life right now. The first two weeks of the month weren’t so great, but I’m back on track here now.

  • Weights 3x week – YEP. This is non-negotiable. I’m not really going up in weight anywhere but I am showing up and lifting the heavy things and that is enough.
  • Resume swimming, hit the lake once – No, and no. I’m going to try and fix both of those within the next week.
  • One brick per week – Techically I’m doing today’s tomorrow, but I’ll average once a week.
  • Three other bikes/runs each week – This week I’ve actually done FIVE (two runs, three bikes)
  • Prioritize recovery – I’ve done really well here. Boots and ice almost daily, stretching and rolling are back 3-ish times a week.

I just need to get swimming back in my life and I’ll really be on track here.

#3 (Not) Ignoring My Surroundings

I am happy to report I made some progress here.

  • Finish decluttering the vanity area
  • Clean out the right side drawers
  • Clear out the space under the vanity

All of these things are not perfect but really close and I hope to check these off this weekend. I haven’t gotten to the bathroom counter/under the sink yet but maybe that can happen too, and Joel hasn’t been motivated to clean the gutters beyond one mention last month so we’ll move on here.

Camping pics done, onto June Germany/London!

#4 Relaxing Hobbies

I’ve needed my relax time this month 🙂 so I’ve done well here!

  • Finish Camping Pics and decide on the next – YEP, and I decided to just knock out this last Germany/London trip next. My goal is to get out of the hole of photo-ception by finishing smaller projects before I get back to Paris. I could also stop traveling but we all know that’s not going to happen.
  • Catch up blogs: The Urban Woods of San Antonio, Paris, je t’aime (part 1)
  • WFH guitar breaks – I’m not perfect but I’m playing a few times a week again and getting my caluses back (OW)
  • Finish the set of geometric paintings – I’ve made progress but I’m a little further away from done than I thought.
  • Meditate 5x week – I have been REALLY good about this most mornings!

So, I’ve got some painting to do. Fun!

#5 Write Stuff

I forgot how much work editing is, in some cases, it feels like it took longer to EDIT some chapters than it did to write them. Probably not, but this first edit pass is not something that’s taking a few hours. I’ve put at least a work day into this over the last few weeks and I’m about 1/3 done. I am still hoping that I’ll have some closure and be ready to share it by mid-next month, but that will take some time and dedication to get there. My goals were:

  • Identify places where my characters are floating heads (build the world) – This is what’s taking most of my time and attention and it’s getting better. I need to remember that even though I can see the characters in my mind, not everyone else can.
  • Find where the story drags – I’m about to get to the middle part where I have to watch out for this. Just because it happened in the D&D campaign doesn’t mean it needs to happen exactly that way in the book.
  • Deliver on the promise/tone at the beginning of the story – This has taken some work as well. I start the story as a child, and then it gets a little dark. I have had to do a lot of editing in the first chapters to make sure I don’t make the promise of a heartwarming family friendly tale and then tell that to screw right off. The overwhelming theme is trust/lack thereof, and it took some work to set that from the get go.
  • Make sure the ending is sufficiently exciting – We shall see when I get there. I’ll try on this pass, but I think this may need to be pushed to the second edit pass or even just be something I ask my readers, I may be too close to it.

So, here’s where I need to focus the rest of the month to have the best July progress possible:

  • Keep up the habits of tracking, weighing, and extra activity (trainer) instead of walking.
  • Get back to swimming and get to the lake.
  • Finish the vanity and the bathroom counter/sink
  • Paint the canvases
  • Keep editing!

Seems doable to me. This is oddly enough the calm before the (travel) storm, so I need to take advantage of being home enough to make what progress I can when I can. The goals in the next few months will definitely be a little… different, and probably more focused on preventing regression than anything.

The Urban Woods of San Antonio

We went from the end September to April 21st with no camping trips.

We decided to stick around the house during the winter and work on healthy routines, and I really made some great progress because I wasn’t running off here and there. But it was time to defrag my brain and spend a long weekend in the “woods”. I was really, really, really ready for this one. So, Friday around noon, we headed to the wilderness of the downtown San Antionio KOA.

I was very very very happy that we were in the city, as when we set up the camper, the toilet started spraying water. It wasn’t the greatest start to a long weekend. After eating the usual camping kick off hot dogs for lunch, we had to make two hour long round trips to Lowes to get things to fix it, instead of the bike ride we wanted that afternoon. Then, since we were out and about alrady, we decided that we were going to treat ourselves to the purportedly best al pastor tacos in San Antonio at Al Pastor es mi Senor. The meat is roasted on a spit like Doner meat and served sliced thin with really fresh, sweet pineapple and spicy sauce. Definitely the best al pastor tacos I’ve had in recent memory. High enjoy!

The next morning, we took it nice and slow, and started… The Chickening. When we planned the menu, to keep things easy and lower calorie, we got a giant package of chicken and resolved to cook it many different ways. We started with chicken, half a giant loaded potato, and salad to fuel the day’s impending bike ride.

We wanted to wait for the best weather, so we dawdled playing Space Marines until mid-afternoon and then went to play bikes for about two hours. We did the entire loop that afternoon and found a really nice vista we missed last time we took a wrong turn. We cooled down in the pool because it finally hit 80 degrees, and it’s the last time it would be sunny and warm this trip.

We refueled with some of the best Teriyaki Chicken of my life and had a nice chill evening listening to a really crazy downpour.

The next day, everything was flooded and the roads were wet, so we decided to skip the bike ride and do a two hour hike instead. We had a beautiful time outside watching so so so many butterflies play on the multitude of wildflowers.

This worked up an appetite for tandoori chicken for dinner. During the evening, we chilled out and enjoyed the three-day camping effect, I’m pretty sure this was the day my brain started to unspool a bit. I finished reading the version I cut of my book at the time, and it was crap – which is okay, it motivated me to push through and finish the draft so I could start revising.

Day four was a glorious repeat of the previous, just with sunshine. The roads were still kinda wet, so we hiked, we ate chicken multiple ways, we read, and had a nice relaxing last day of camping. I was up early the next day taking meetings and working while Joel drove home, but I thoroughly enjoyed my four days in the urban woods.

Paris, je t’aime (Part 1)

After a day in Brussels, on August 31st, we hopped a train, and then another train, and then another train and eight hours later, ended up in Paris.

Yeah, I’ll never wait until the last minute to book a train again. Lesson learned. It was a two-hour trip that took almost eight. However, when you end the day with that view, how can you complain?

The only other thing on our agenda was stopping at the grocery store around the corner and raiding their wine section. After two weeks of hotels, I was SO excited to be able to have an apartment, and dinner was a charcuterie board we put together and a few bottles of cheap french wine (my fave!) on the balcony watching the fattest of the fat doves play in the trees.

We woke the next morning after a nice long sleep feeling refreshed, so it was time to go play! After a lovely brunch of a croque monsieur, cappuccino, and part of a Nutella crepe, we ventured out on two feet to take a better look at my favorite landmark (le Tour Eiffel) from all sides and then ended up at the museum of French Architecture for an hour or two.

We worked our way up to the Arc d’Triomphe and watched the traffic go around it for a while – not sure I’ve ever seen a four-lane roundabout before, but the Parisians seemed to handle it okay.

We were told Champs-Élysées was not to be missed – and I’m glad we walked down it for the spectacle. However, since we are not exactly shop-o-holics, we just marveled at the giant Dior store, noted the giant line outside the Louis Vitton store, and wandered down a side street back towards home base.

We stopped at the second of two museums for the day (I found this trip that I have a maximum of two, three is right out), the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac. The exhibit they were showing had art from around the world – everything from very early (BC) sculptures and carvings to costumes and masks – I can’t really describe it besides it was wonderfully eclectic. We wandered and snapped photos until they kicked us out at closing. We split a lovely sausage and arugula pizza and pancetta spaghetti on the way home and crashed.

The next morning, it was time to climb! We had tickets for le Tour Eiffel and we checked out the view from the first and second etages. Maybe next time we’ll go to the top, but it was an extra ticket so we decided to skip it this time. The views were just fine where we were at. 🙂

We stopped at this adorable French cafe for lunch, which unfortunately had the most mediocre French Onion soup for lunch (but the atmosphere and people watching made up for it). Then, we had an appointment with death, that is, The Catacombs. After descending hundreds of feet underground (where it was blessedly much much cooler than the heat wave in the city), we spent an hour walking among really interesting and macabre art.

For Joel, it was the highlight of the trip, and I can’t disagree that it was one of the most interesting and unique experiences. When I think of it, I can remember the cold on my previously sweaty skin, the musty humid odor of the caverns, and the quiet reverence in which we walked through the meticulously arranged bones. I’ll remember that forever.

We returned to the apartment for wine and charcuterie for dinner, as per usual. 🙂 And as per usual, fat freaking birds joined the party. I said I couldn’t pick a favorite thing we did when we were in Paris, but upon editing photos, I could see I lied, as I took so many on the sunset cruise.

But, like, look at this. How could you not? The city of lights, indeed.

The next day, we slept late and grabbed a bahn mi for lunch. It was on my Paris bucket list to get somewhere. It did not disappoint. I’m just sad I didn’t get a chance to eat a second one.

Our first museum of the day was a Picasso Museum – while it had his art, most of it was focused on his family and his life. Speaking of eclectic, he was an… interesting dude. I’ll just put it this way, he had a collection of toenail clippings. I guess to make out-there art you have to be a bit out-there yourself.

For our second museum/exhibit of the day, we stopped at the Pantheon.

Gorgeous, awe-inspiring, and overwhelming art. At that point of the rainy afternoon, we realized we were a bit full up on sightseeing, so we retired back to the apartment after a feast at the Mediterranean place down the street. I caught up on work, lost a Bloodbowl match, and we relaxed as the next two days would be big ones!

The next morning, an incident with an e-bike – running out of charge way before it said it would – left us too late to catch our walking tour. Now, you’d think an e-bike without a battery would just be a bike. You’re not wrong, but in the heat wave chugging up and down those hills, it felt like pedaling a battle cruiser.

Instead, we decided to wander on our own, checking out the famous Moulin Rouge, and randomly stopping for lunch at the Cafe de Deux Moulins, where Amelie worked. The food was decent, the atmosphere was adorable. Then, we meandered more and wondered why it was recommended as a must-see as there were just a bunch of risqué shops. Just before we gave up and left, I hit up google and found that we needed to travel further up the hill.

We checked out Sacre Couer, some of the best views of the city, and the Monmarte Artists District. This was why we were supposed to be here. The Artists District was adorable, and we made plans to come back the last day to get some souvenirs.

Then we walked down the hill again to see the monument, the obelisk, and wandered around some very pretty gardens and fountains. Then, we went to the Musée de l’Armée and looked at tons of cool weapons.

And, of course, some of the things that weapons do…

After that, we had reached the limits of our time on feet, and we ducked into an Asian restaurant and had some delicious garlic pepper chicken thingee and then we called it a night as the next day was… THE LOUVE… and we’ll pick up there next time (or in about 6 months when I edit those photos haha).

Time flies when it’s time to catch up

If someone asked me the greatest gift I could receive right now, it would be Time.

I really, really, really could use about 3-4 more hours of the day every day. And not stolen hours, ones where I’m already mentally drained or the ones where I wake up in the middle of the night to be unintentionally productive. A handful of quiet, focused hours where I could just DO MORE STUFF THAT I WANT TO DO.

Well, until the universe grants me that thing Hermione got in Harry Potter that allows her to be in two places at the same time, I think I have to work with what I have. So, I’ve stolen some moments over the last few weeks from my other writing (which is going VERY VERY VERY well, btw) and pieced together enough time to pen a note to catch up here.

What’s happened since then? Well, I raced! And it went really well! I had no aspirations of any sort of placement, and that was thankful because it was such a big race. However, I made an effort, the first one since the pandemic, that I was proud of at the finish. So, basically, I crushed it.

Then I traveled to Hamburg (work) and London (fun). It was a really strange trip all around. Jet lag hit me real hard, and combined with an uncomfortable bed and the fact that it was only dark 11pm-345am, I slept like absolute garbage (4-5 hours of fitful sleep max) the whole German part of the trip (though it got better in London as all three of these factors got better). Our luggage was lost for 3 days in Hamburg before it was delivered to us, and it was lost again for about a day in London. We ended up acquiring a bunch of new clothes and toiletries during the trip care of Lufthansa.

Ignoring the work details as this is a personal blog mainly focused on fitness/adventures, the high points of the trip health-wise was that I managed to continue my workout schedule and did three runs and three weights sessions in Hamburg, even with the crap sleep and busy work schedule. I also walked at least 10k steps above and beyond the runs, so I definitely maintained some activity/calorie burn. In London, I didn’t do any formal workouts, but our goal to aggressively sight see the whole city in 2.5 days, I clocked 20k, 33k, and 27k steps those days. Even our travel day home was 12k steps.

Of course, the downsides – in terms of the pursuit of unfluffiness at least – was the food, glorious food. I got myself a bakery sandwich on the walk to work and indulged in a fancy office cappuccino every day in Hamburg. We were taken out to lunch and dinner each day also, and I just got whatever sounded good and just tried to eat a reasonable amount except when I really enjoyed what I got and ate an unreasonable amount. When we arrived in London, we were in a strange situation where we hadn’t had a meal in almost 24 hours, so we ordered everything at this excellent Indian restaurant and ate it in its entirety. And then we ate all the things for the next 3 days. I don’t know if you’ve ever done afternoon tea, but they pretty much make a meal out of a tower of desserts, and then suggest you eat it between lunch and dinner. It’s wild.

I’ll do a post on the trip specifically soonTM (I still haven’t posted about Paris from last year, LOLZ), but I came home with a shiny new promotion, wicked jet lag (it took two weeks for me to sleep past 7am), and if I’m being honest, a little extra weight.

Then, I raced again. It also went really well. I aimed to place in my age group, and I would have placed in almost any other age group, including my current age group on the men’s side. I’m still happy with my performance.

Then, more travel. I just returned from our normal 4th of July camping trip at Krause Springs. I travel back to Germany in August, Seattle in early September, Kerrville in late September, and then probably to Asia for the first time in October.

I am DEFINITELY going to need to come up with some better strategies than “gain a few lbs each trip”, so stay tuned for how I do that. Until then, let’s recap goals.

#1 – By the end of May, I will weigh 178.0

At the end of June, survey says, nope.

It is not as if it’s not deserved. We know what happens when I don’t track my food and don’t weigh myself. I also tend to eat a bit more around races to be fueled (and then a reasonable celebration meal after the race), so the upward trend seemed to start right after my last checkin.

  • Week of May 22 – +20 calories
  • Week of May 30 – +649 calories
  • Vacation timey-wimeness here – My Fitness Pal shows my calories should have been between about 2000 and 2500 most days to meet my goals. I’m going to guess I still blew that out of the water most days with food and drink.
  • Week of June 19 – +820 calories
  • Week of June 26 – I completely fell off tracking. 🙁

So, I can do better. Back to tracking daily. Back to eating closer to what I should. My current trend weight is 182.6, and considering the circumstances, things could have been way worse. I am going to also admit that right now, losing 4 lbs per month isn’t reasonable. For July, my goal will be half that – to get to 180.6 trendweight. That even feels a little lofty, but if I stick to tracking – and there’s no reason I shouldn’t – it’s achievable and can hopefully set me up to feel good when I start travelling again.

#2 Strength Over Stamina

I’m super duper happy with this one, though. Even with travel, I have still maintained my weights streak. The muscle and endurance I’ve built meant I was great with the 20k steps/day while working in Hamburg, like, zero problems at all. They just felt like nice days of activity. I handled the 27-33k days in London with just a bit of soreness by the end of the day but was fine the next. This is what we call functional fitness, folks! It’s nice to not feel wrecked after all that tromping around (which my chiropractor confirmed). All in all, my body feels pretty good, and is able to walk, run, bike, swim, and lift without consequence. At the end of the day, this is the most important thing.

It’s not exactly the norm, but considering the travel June 3-13th, I don’t hate it. And yes, I raced a damn triathlon on June 25th and then came home and lifted chest and shoulders to keep up my streak. It was one of the toughest legs of the race. I didn’t enjoy it. But since last November, I have lifted 3x week. I’m not stopping now!

For July, I’m back to training for fitness. I don’t want to let any of the sports drop out of my list, but I don’t need to do any specific race prep since my next race is end of September. So, goals below for the next month:

  • Stay consistent with 3x week weights. If I do nothing else, it’s this.
  • Resume swimming once a week on Mondays next week during the normally scheduled time. Get to the lake at least once during the month.
  • One brick per week.
  • Outside of that, one bike and two runs per week (or two bikes and one run, it’s hot…).
  • Prioritize recovery. Boots and Ice 5-6x week, stretch and roll at least 3x week.

If this looks familiar, it’s because it is. Getting back into the habit after travel is important, and I’m getting there, but just enforcing normalcy in July is where we need to be.

#3 (Not) Ignoring My Surroundings

As you may have guessed, as the thing I hate the most on my goal list, I haven’t made any more progress on the bedroom. So, since July is looking *relatively* calm in comparison to recent months, I’ll set a few bigger goals.

  • Finish decluttering the vanity area
  • Clean out the right side drawers
  • Clear out the space under the vanity
  • Clear off the unnecessary items on the bathroom sink and find a place for them.
  • Help Joel clean out the gutters (if he’s motivated to do so)

In theory, this all just takes a couple hours. I’d really like to make it happen. I also, frankly, don’t see much progress happening in August or September due to travel. I think in the grand scheme of things, I’m going to set an end-of-year goal to have finished the bedroom in its entirety (all surfaces, drawers, and closets decluttered), and that may be all we have time for this year in this category. At the very least, that gets us ready to do some renovations in 2024. Yet again, I very much appreciate the work done last fall/winter to make livable space in the office, the pain cave, the spare bedroom, and Joel’s office (though I mostly ignore that space when it’s in office/craft room mode since it’s an explosion of stuff).

#4 Relaxing Hobbies

Travel definitely disrupted some habits here. It’s an excuse but it’s been tricky to get back in the swing of things. I just feel like I have NO TIME FOR ANYTHING OMG, but it’s also been the fact that I’ve been focusing on goal #5 in my spare time that I can tolerate focused and productive activities.

In May and June I pretty much ignored my paintbrushes and guitar, however, I did both whilst camping. Sometimes vacation can disrupt routine for the good (see above for photo proof).

I haven’t really been able to get myself back into photo editing since the trip. I know exactly why. I’m many, many, many trips behind now (need to finish Paris, I have a cruise, I have camping, I have Germany/London, and now I have Krause). Editing photos is fun for me. Sorting through photos? Not as fun. And Day #5 in Paris was the Louvre. I have over 1000 photos to choose from. I’m overwhelmed by both of these things and have just started to nope out when I look at my editor. I think I’m going to break from Joel’s advice and flip to something else, the smallest project (April Camping) for a bit to get some momentum. And I kinda need a nature fix. 🙂

I have been trying to make an effort to meditate most mornings, though I always lose this one while traveling. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not going to let my lackluster productivity on relaxing hobbies stress me out, but I’m going to set some goals for July because have you met me?

  • Finish April Camping Trip pics and then decide what’s next
  • Catch up blogs: April Camping Trip, Day 1-4 Paris (this is a good stopping place to recap anyway)
  • Get back in the habit of playing guitar on WFH days (I did today! yay!)
  • Finish the set of geometric paintings I started and hang them up somewhere (which means they’re actually done)
  • Meditate 5x week

#5 Write Stuff

On Sunday the 2nd of July, around 5pm, I wrote the words THE END. Yes folks, I have a full first crappy draft of my book. I am so excited!!! I started around December 25th, and it took me about 6 months to do it, but I have Book 1 of the Fork Files written, all 83k words. Now, it’s time to begin the edit pass. Luckily, this is MUCH easier for me to make time and attention for. I can easily give myself 30-60 minutes an evening and make progress rather than wait for multi-hour weekend chunks.

However, I am certain if I approach this phase with a general MAKE BOOK GOOD NOAW, I’ll get overwhelmed. This first edit pass, my goals will be more broad strokes than nitpicky grammar fiddling:

  • Identify places where my characters are floating heads. That is – I always forget to build the world. Find places where some visual (or even other sensory) details would enrich the reader’s immersion.
  • Find where the story drags (in my case, it will be overusing bickering in dialogue)
  • Identify what the story promises at the beginning and make sure I deliver on it
  • Make sure the ending is sufficiently exciting with proper lead up.

I think I’d like to have a draft I’m happy with willing to let other readers read by the time I leave for my next trip in August.

So, to summarize July:

  • Get back on track with weight loss. Tracking daily, and actually adhering to the 1200+activity goal.
  • Continue with 3x week weights and training all three triathlon sports, but just for fitness and familiarity, not specific race goals.
  • Edit pass #1
  • Clear the vanity area and help Joel clean the gutters.
  • Get back to photo editing (April Camping) and complete the blogs about Paris Day 1-4 and April Camping
  • Finish my paintings and play guitar again a few times a week

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