Monday, January 03, 2011
I wish the video had the full intro as it is one of the greatest rock riffs ever -- it builds with all sorts of instruments, almost like how an orchestra does its thing.
Anyway. Onto the blog entry.
I came across a great cartoon in the Sunday paper yesterday and I just had to share it. It was a buncha teenagers and tweens, and the caption was just, "We're bored with 2011."
And I was thinking -- now, I recognize that life isn't always perfectly exciting. Most of our lives are spent doing things like waiting in lines, filling gas tanks, paying bills and washing clothes. Life has few moments of greatness, like the moment you say "I do" or you see your child for the first time, or you say good-bye to someone you loved very much, or you graduate, or the house lights come up to thunderous applause for you.
It's funny because we, as a civilized species, have been this way forever -- we record and commemorate and celebrate the hole in one, the prize heifer and the handing down of the tablets from Mount Sinai, but what is often missing from our historical accounts are the way we REALLY live, and have lived. It's hard to know how the ancient Egyptians really lived. I mean the working people, not the Pharaohs. I bet they scolded their children when they were naughty, argued with their spouses over money and forgot to pick up their dirty clothes, sometimes, too.
We, as people, as dieting people for, let's face it, that's the segment of the population we are all in -- we tend to celebrate the big successes all too well. The Personal Record in the run. The new low on the scale. The mastery of a new recipe. The triumph of saying no to the candy dish for the first time.
But what about all of those other times? The ones where we forget to celebrate? You know, where you go out and run because you like it, and you do eh, but you don't care, because it's fun and you got exercise and you spent time with friends and supported a good cause and just plain did something out of your comfort zone? Or where you don't even notice the candy dish because you've passed it by so many times? Or where you make the good-for-you-and-good-for-everyone foods because you just do -- because that's how you cook and you don't even think about it and no one else does, because that's just what you cook?
They have meaning, too. They are the fabric of our lives and, for real, they are more. Because there's only one first time. There's only one best time (although it can change). But there can be a million other times.
Let's not forget about those as we seek out the first times and the best times. We're going to have an awful lot more of those "other" times.
Let's give them their due.
Monday, December 27, 2010
This song is here, mainly, because it's so dang white outside. We got a good foot or so of snow, possibly more. Hard to say, as it's all packed down -- at least the bits that haven't drifted all over the place. Put in over an hour of shoveling today, and so did Mr. J. This makes us, heh, about 1/3 finished. Seriously.
But it's also here because this is, of course, my retrospective of '10.
I am currently 20.2 lbs. heavier than I was on January 1st. I am one serious three-part surgery later, and nine 5K races later, as well.
All of my measurements are larger, with the total being 14.25" (for bicep, bust, band, belly, hip/butt and thigh). Two or three inches, here or there -- they add up.
I have also been out of work (really) for the entire calendar year, although I've been busying myself with working with a startup robotics company for an equity slice and a dream.
My 5K average race time is also 1:58 less than it was in '09, and I completed three more races this year, including one more than I'd expected to do.
I changed gyms and started to really go more, despite the fact that I could really use the $58/month in my checking account that instead goes to the Y.
I got a lot better at networking and pummelled my resume into submission. I went to a few job interviews but, aside from the 'bot boys, there were no takers.
I dealt with my parents deciding to sell their house and downsize, and the emotions that come with realizing the place where I grew up is about to become someone else's home, and the walls will hold someone else's photographs. I have coped by asking my Dad for his patents, so I can display them here. I don't want anyone else having them except, if he wants them, my brother.
I didn't see friends as often as I wanted to, or as often that would have been best for me. I ate too much that was forgotten or minimized. But I also exercised like a fiend, and hit 90,000+ fitness minutes, a figure that staggers and shocks me. That's 1500 hours, folks. Most people work a good 2,000 or so hours in a year. I imagine I'll hit that magical 2,000 hours (AKA 120,000 minutes) some time in '11 or '12.
And so here are my thoughts for next year, the Nigel Tufnel Year that goes all the way up to 11:
(1) 10 or more 5K races
(2) Gym 3x/week, cardio outside the gym 4x/week unless sick. Weights every day.
(3) Watch the freebie foods as they are not freebies
(4) Hope to get the 20# back off, and more, but see what happens. I've been doing this for a while, plus I'll hit 49 next year. It only gets tougher. I hold out no hope for miracles, just the belief that I can and will do as much of the right thing as possible.
(5) Spend more offline time with friends
(6) Write a boatload more fiction, and think about it, as it is one of the things that makes me happy
(7) Do my best to either get the 'bot boys to succeed or find myself a paying gig.
(8) Continue to be with all of you, to read your thoughts, watch your videos, comment on your silliness, write haikus with you, share bad jokes, support each other when we're down and lift each other up as we find and follow our bliss, whatever that is and wherever it takes us. I am in this for the long haul -- this continues to be a fight to the death.
The prize is you.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Actually, lots of people do.
Yesterday was the last 5K of the year. It was, of course, holiday-themed so there were Santas and naughty elves a-plenty. Plus an Elvis Santa, a guy with a buncha reindeer, a gal dressed as a Christmas tree, a huge Nutcracker, a guy with a hat with a soft menorah on top and, of course, two guys with Santa hats, sneakers and Speedos (nuthin' else -- oh my).
I love this race. It's just so silly. And, because we were timed with chips behind the bibs, they were able to track everybody! There were a few spots where there were race people with laptops and they'd look up your number and call out your name and town if they could. I distinctly heard them mention Brighton. They may have mentioned my name but I was huffing and also hearing Queen on the iPod so, heh, helfino. At least I heard my city section mentioned. Go Gateway to the Galaxy (Brighton is the Gateway to the Galaxy, at least according to me, because Boston is the Hub of the Universe and Brighton is the Western section)!
Today I'm returning to the gym for the first time in over a week. My cold is gone, despite all that exercising out in the elements yesterday. I am made of sterner stuff than a cold.
What's in store for next year? I am, of course, starting to think of that. More to come later, but I've been trading out the same 6 or so pounds for the past 14 weeks. That's over 1/4 of the year. Ridiculous. That's gotta change. Next year will also bring more 5Ks. And, hopefully, better work/work for pay/no more dependence upon Unemployment (thank you for helping nudge Congress to pass the dang extension already).
I do know that I will be here. I just passed 90,000 freakin' fitness minutes, so I've gotta keep that going. I have so many because I've been here for going on three years. And I count EVERYTHING. And I know you will all come with me.
The chorus of this song is: "Nobody left to run with anymore
Nobody left to do the crazy things we used to do before
Nobody left to run with anymore".
Monday, December 13, 2010
Ignore the first minute and a half of intros on the video.
I'll explain the reason for the song later. Right now, this blog is a call to arms.
No. Wait. Louder.
THIS BLOG IS A CALL TO ARMS.
NO. WAIT. LOUDER.
Dammit Spark! Why don't you have bolding??!??!?!
Anyway, this blog is a call to arms.
To what, you say?
Unemployment extensions are running out. I am one of millions of people who are affected. And, in all fairness, my husband is also affected and he has a job. I have two more weeks. Yes, the end of it all is the week of Christmas.
Now, I don't celebrate Christmas, so it's not fraught with meaning like it would be for many other people, but I can't help feeling it's all so terribly Dickensian. As Scrooge said, "Are there no prisons? No workhouses?"
Currently, there is a spending bill to continue the extensions, but it's bogged down because it's getting attached to continuing the Bush-era tax credits. While I don't love the tax credits, sorry, folks, I gotta think about my own interests here. And I'm not the only one! There's a lively Spark group called Laid Off and Staying Strong:
And they are, undoubtedly, only a surface scratching of laid off Sparkies. There are, I am sure, many, many more of us.
Unemployment is different from Welfare. Workers pay into it. I did. You did, or do. Your coworkers do. Your neighbors do. And it's intended to get us all back on our collective feet. But there is a disconnect, because there just aren't enough weeks of benefits. I have been out for a little over a year, and am running out of my second extension. Others have been out far longer. The economy is not picking itself up and dusting itself off fast enough. We still need Unemployment. Why? Aside from the obvious (to have $$!), let's see --
* to pay the mortgage and maintain a good credit rating and not become homeless
* to have discretionary income to stimulate the economy and help us all pull out of this recession
* to purchase exciting luxury items, like thyroid medication, bread and dental floss
* to keep local folk in business like the hairdresser, the fishmonger and the dude who delivers the papers
* to give to charity because, yes, there are plenty of folk who are worse off
* to maintain a sense of self-worth and dignity
You can write to Congress here:
And even if you're from outside the US, your support is still greatly appreciated. Because there's no other word for it -- this stinks. It absolutely and thoroughly and completely reeks. I hate being out of work. I work, actually, but it's for an equity share. I still depend on Unemployment to fuel my dreams and make it so that I can push along a startup company which, in the future, will hopefully start employing people. You know, becoming an engine for the economy and helping to prevent future recessions? Yeah, that.
And now, the song.
It's dedicated to someone here who is more of a political person than I am (most people are): QUEENOFTHEFOREST. Her real name is Mary. And what impresses me not only about her, but about Spark in general, is how we can all get together and really be a force to be reckoned with. Together, we can shape and change the world.
Because when it's time to get it together and tell Congress to give all of us unemployed folk a break, to stop punting this political football around so much that it no longer looks like a spheroid, to get off their duffs and get this passed before the holiday break and remember what it's like to not be so fortunate, to be wondering when savings will run out, to be contemplating how to play Bill Roulette and see what can be late this month, and to be thinking that being healthy isn't worth it because the food is so damned expensive --
then and then and then
Along come friends and supporters, Sparkies as champions.
Along comes Mary.
Along comes Kathy.
Along comes Don.
Along comes Maureen.
Along comes Donna.
Along comes Tracy.
Along comes Ebony.
Along comes Marit.
Along comes John.
Along comes Aurelia.
Along comes Eleni.
Along comes Jess.
Along comes Carol.
They all come, and all of those whose names I don't know, or I've forgotten, or I never knew. Because we are a force. We are a MOVEMENT, dammit.
This is a call to arms.
THIS IS A CALL TO ARMS.
And then along comes Mary
and then along comes YOU.
Monday, December 06, 2010
This song is in honor of a lot of things. First off, it's for Lab-Lover (do you not know her? She is TOTALLY fab), who was quoted in the Runners' World blog and I know she loves Bruuuuuuce so I had to.
Plus I actually used to work at Dictaphone. Weird to work for a place known well enough to be a part of pop culture, eh? But then they were sold to Nuance Communications and became yet another mass-produced-named entity, but at least an actual word is their name, unlike new companies throwing the -ly suffix or the word blue or whatever onto a normal word in order to make something not thought of but ....
Well, let's just say there's a reason why such a fake-o word wasn't thought up before. They tend to be butt ugly.
But there's also the whole idea (the song is "Blinded by the Light") of light. It is -- duh! -- December. The month with the 20-darkest days of the year, and another 11 of the 22 next-darkest days of the year (the other 11 of those are in January of course).
Light is hard to come by. It evades us. It hides behind snow clouds and snow storms. It slips away at 4:30 and doesn't return until morning when you're chilled and wrapping blankets over your head and hoping that the alarm was somehow not set correctly even though you checked it so instead of it really being 5 AM or 6 or whenever you're really supposed to be up, that it was magically changed by the alarm gremlins some time during the night and it's really 2 AM and you can sleep for another few hours and wait for -- you guessed it -- the light.
So we compensate. We light Chanukah candles. We put up Christmas lights. Kwanzaa has candles. We crank up full-spectrum lights. We try not to curse the darkness.
And details, details! I find they are swirling around me and raining down on my head. The upstairs bathroom sink is clogged. Unemployment is, yet, again, asking me to call in because they have screwed up my file. And I cannot call them until later this week. They are rather courteous people, but sorry, I really don't want to be talking to them every single freakin' week. I may or may not have an interview tomorrow -- the recruiter and I keep missing each other. The house is cluttered and I am noticing it more because we are inside more. Work is all over the place, with some deadlines looming large because half of the company is off to India for three weeks to deliver scholarly papers.
These are, on balance, not horrible things. The plumber has been called and will be here in 48 hours or so. We are not so bad off financially that the Unemployment check can't be delayed for a few days. The interview is fairly likely to happen, it's just a matter of connecting to the recruiter. The house has always been cluttered and I have to be zen about it and remember that most of that cannot be quickly fixed. The company will be fine over the holidays.
And on and on.
I'll get through this, and so will you.
We will light our candles. We will curse the darkness, too. And, either way, it'll still pass at its own pace, in its own way, much like many things.
I am dancing around the same five pounds, and have been for a while. Now, of course my body is well aware of when I weigh 200 versus when I weigh 199. What my body doesn't know is why that particular difference (as opposed to 201 versus 200) is so important to me. So I can be positive, and patient. Or less positive, and want it to hurry up and, assuming I do the same things either way, it will all pass at its own pace, in its own way.
Light the candle.
But cursing the darkness is, I admit, kinda fun, too.
Keep room in your life for both.
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