Wednesday, February 29, 2012

50 in 50 by 50: #4 VIRGINIA

Since dating Neil, I've been lucky enough to accompany him on some trips to Virginia Beach with his Dad's family. (more than lucky, friends, they get a house on the beach! on the beach!)

There's nothing like driving eight hours to see friends that live twenty minutes from you. It feels extraordinary in the most ordinary kind of way.

With that in mind, in June of 2011, some wonderful Pittsburgh friends of ours were staying for the summer in Lynchburg Virginia because he had work there. While we could see them anytime back home, we decided to take a couple hours detour from our family beach trip to have a day with them in the middle of VA.

We met for a friday evening pasta dinner (wine, laughter, and ice cream followed). We woke up early saturday for a race, then experienced the finer side of Lynchburg (local brewery, pizza, farmer's market) before heading onto Virginia Beach.

the good life: a post run sampler to share

But about the race: it was a 5K with just a couple hundred people to raise money for a local retirement home. We picked the race based on a very scientific process of - what is in Lynchburg when we are in Lynchburg? We struck gold because we landed in what I believe to be the quintessential Virginia setting.

first, a lesson: the south in the summer is hot, it is oppressively hot, and this is true even at 9 am. 

We stood at the start line swatting away two billion gnats. To our right was a wooden fence with horses grazing and to our left was a swampy field filled with parked cars. Lining our path were large southern country homes, complete with the large porches, white rocking chairs, and lush green lawns. We had stepped into Gone With the Wind (if someone melted the set in a microwave).

The girls ran together and our victory was not our time but the amount of water weight we lost. And the boys ran together, beating us by a large enough margin to walk back a ways and cat call us into the home stretch. At the finish line was - get this - a large white building with white pillars on the porch and a line of pristine adirondack chairs. I half expected sweet tea and tobacco as refreshments. I love that in Virginia, we got to really see some Virginia (and our local buddies as well)!

The Breakdown
date: 6/18/11
race: Presbyterian Homes & Family Services 5K
location: Lynchburg, VA
charity: PHFS 
time: 37:55 (the girls) 27:16 (the boys)

50 in 50 by 50: #3 MARYLAND

Our honeymoon was 5 days and 4 nights in the great state of Maryland MARRIED-LAND!

We went camping in Deep Creek,

And galavanting in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

But of all the fun we had - the race (an afterthought, really) - ranked in our Top 5 for best things about our honeymoon. And it was a competitive list- with seafood dinner, smooching, saying 'my husband' publicly, and learning I like bloody mary's - all as strong contenders.

The 5K race, which took place on September 11th, was called "A Run to Remember". We started at the city's capitol building and lined up behind men and women in dress blues. We stood solemnly underneath a waving flag, hung from extended firemen's ladders.

I don't consider myself to be among the extremely patriotic, but standing shoulder to shoulder with people bearing names of lost loved ones, listening to the deep baritone of a Baltimore fireman sing our National Anthem, and then falling silent at the exact time the first tower was struck, brought me to tears.

We ran the 5K through the main streets of Baltimore, wrapping around the inner harbor, up residential hills, and finishing in Federal Hill Park. This was our first city race so running in the middle of a four lane road was a blast for me. It was also fun to run the race as a charity for the city's civil servants, because at all the barricades police officers were hooting and cheering and thanking us.

A cluster of cadets were about a quarter mile behind us the whole time. They ran in step, they chanted in rhythm, they angered my brain. They were way too loud to have close to me and there were way too many of them to let them pass us (and that would only aggravate me more), so they became my pacer. At a point when I thought, "this is too tough." - I was passed - on a hill - by a man in full fire fighter gear - with equipment. Sooo, I kept going.

The finish at Federal Hill Park was spacious enough that we could get away from the crowds and sit on the hillside, overlooking the city. We could sip our water, lay back in the cool grass, and enjoy the perfect morning.

At one point a police woman at a barricade was cheering for me based on my shirt,
"You GO New York! Looking Good!"
If we've learned anything from The Wire, Baltimore City Police speak the truth.

The Breakdown
date: 9/11/10
race: Run to Remember 5K
location: Baltimore, MD
charity: Baltimore City Police and Fire Dept
time: 34:00

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


When I go for long runs, I usually have to dig deep to get through it. And I've discovered that running is just as much mental as it is physical. One thing that helps me clear my mind when my head hurts is to say little mantras. I have some phrases I go to here and there that help calm my breathing and settle my achy brain and keep me on the straight and narrow. I say them again and again to the rhythm of my running and before I know it, the rough patch has passed.
**I'll share mine with you because you might find them helpful - but most likely, you'll do better with your own.

run slow to run smooth. run smooth to run fast.  I read this sentence in a book, or maybe it was an article, and I wish I could remember to give credit where credit is due. I love this. I love that I say it and then my body responds.
Run slow - my breathing elongates my shoulders relax. Run smooth - my feet hit the ground so lightly I can barely hear them. Run fast - before I know it, I'm gliding along faster than before and with ease.

i chose this. Life is full of difficulties that we have no control over... we don't pick them and we can't stop them. I think that's why I come back to this little sentence over and over agin. In running, I have control over what I'm doing. Sure, it's hard but I chose it and I know when it will end. Willingly entering into (a beneficial) difficulty is a whole other beast than what life usually throws at you. And when I repeat 'I chose this' it gives me back the power over my circumstances, and I have to say, I like power.

i've felt worse (and lived)... alternated with this feeling is fleeting. pain is not something you can recall. you can remember 'oh yes, I was in pain that time.' but you can't close your eyes and feel the actual pain again (which is why people have more than one child or tattoo). So the feeling will pass and that moment will be left on the road, it will not come back.

smile. you're ___ . When inhale I try to smile and check my posture and then on the exhale I try to relax and think of a reason to be grateful (sounds so new age but it works when you want to distract yourself). inhale smile exhale you're out in the fresh air. inhale smile exhale you're stronger than you realize. inhale smile exhale you're burning off a lot of cheese eating calories.... and so on

the only way out is through. One of the main reasons I run is to get healthier physically. In the short term its more painful, in the long term life will be less painful. I never wanted short-cuts (although there are times when a long, medically induced nap sounds amazing) - what I really want is to work my own way out of the forest. No one can do it for me. It can't be done without struggle. While not everyone reading this had debilitating headaches, many people have roadblocks to exercise or health (I just have a more motivating carrot in font of the horse - a pain free, healthy future). When working out gets truly discouraging, this one helps the most. There is no other road. The only way out is through

Runner's World has an article about running mantras here - you can read other people's inspirational chants and go through the guide to make up your own. (It was surprising how many hits the google of 'running mantra' supplied. Look at me, cheering myself on all these times, without knowing it was an official thing.)

I know that blogger is a pain when it comes to comments but if you have a mantra you want to add, feel free to try to persevere and share it (or text me, friends, because I have a long run this week)!

50 in 50 by 50: #2 PENNSYLVANIA

I was so happy to have our PA race be one with some meaning and tradition...

Every year Neil runs the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Mother's Day with his mother and brother (they follow it with a Pirate's game, which is one of the many reasons I love my mother-in-law). While we were still engaged, I was invited to join them for the race. Neil and I ran the 5K and the rest of the group opted to walk.

The distinct benefit of this race - it's located in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park - a place I know how to find.

The distinct downfalls of this race - .... the people (so man crowds of people), the cold, the loud music, and a course with many killer hills.

I started out with a more-than-usually-extra-horrible headache, I should have used that as an indicator to call it a day - instead, I pushed and pushed (the sooner I finish, the sooner I'm finished). When I hit my breaking point, Neil said to me "It's okay, we're almost done." Then we rounded the bend to see sign telling us we were at 2 1/2 miles. Then I really lost it - because to have more than a half mile left did not feel like 'almost there' and only someone who is not in pain might say that. Then I said something to that effect to Neil, only with way more expletives and mean sentence fragments thrown in.

The finish was a bottle neck of chaos and he took my hand and led me through like a line backer, past the stages and speakers, to a place of relative quiet. He let me pretend I didn't just call him names and he let me cry into his shoulder and then he got me a banana. I pulled myself together in time to greet my brother and mother-in-law with a smile. My husband didn't show any signs that he was engaged to a shape shifting monster - for that I was deeply grateful.

Its strange to think back on that race almost two years ago. I have come such a long way since then in my ability to tolerate running (and I believe that's helped my health). I no longer sob into people when I cross the finish, so there's definitely progress there.

If you were hoping for a review, I'll say, the race itself is actually quite nice. I ran it the next year and enjoyed the scenery, the people cheering from porches, the beautiful park, and flirting with Neil a little at the 2 1/2 mile mark (what a difference a year makes)

the lesson learned: In running some days are just bad. You don't feel great, you don't run well, you just want to be finished. I hope when that happens you have someone around that will say they're proud of you for still trying. 

(we took this before the race, he had no idea what was coming)

The Breakdown
date: 5/9/10
race: Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K
location: Pittsburgh, PA
charity: Breast Cancer Awareness 
time: 38:50

addendum: After reading this post Neil asked that I add something... he verified that I did not exaggerate about the race (it was a bad day) but he wanted it to be clear that the days in which I yell at him while running are few. Verbatim, "You're hardly ever a shape shifting monster." In this post, I was more concerned with showing how patient and fair he can be. I hope I've made things a little more clear, on both accounts.

Monday, February 27, 2012

50 in 50 by 50: #1 OHIO

Our first race was in April of 2010. We had planned a trip to Ohio to see Neil's sister and Lebron James. Except one of those people severely disappointed us by choosing not to play on fan appreciation day.

Mr James would be the one in the beige suit

Somewhere between the Cavs game in Cleveland and the Football Hall of Fame in Canton was a tiny place called Strongsville - the location of my first 5K post-accident.

I had trained with Neil but never ran that full distance of 3.1 miles and I was very nervous. I said the whole time, "my only goal is to finish." In hindsight, should have been a bit more high reaching...

Lesson: when you put the one with the head injury in charge of directions you may not get to where you need to go.

So there we were, the minutes before start time ticking away, and we just drove and drove, not finding our race. We finally saw a traffic cop that pointed us to the direction of the run and after what seemed like forever - we found our parking lot - sprinted to the registration tent - and gave them our names...

"I'm sorry, we don't have your names."
"But we registered. I have my confirmation form printed right here..."
"Oh honey, that race is in Strongsville, about two counties over. This is a whole other race."
"Well, can we run this one?"
"If you hurry."

While Neil threw dollar bills at them, I scribbled away waivers, and we hauled ass to the start line a solid 2 minutes after the race start. And it was pretty perfect, because we missed the loud crowds and I felt deceivingly fast as I passed the walkers. The course was flat and beautiful (residential, through parks, on back roads). The air was cool and the sun was shining. And get this - I finished!!

you can't tell here - but I want to throw up a little bit

The race was a small one to raise money for a local school's playground. As they announced winners it was very quaint... "Annnnd from Mrs. Peterson's 3rd grade class, we collected $430!!!" and everyone cheers. Then the poor coordinators that felt so bad for us, they 'magically' pulled my name out of a hat for a prize... "And the winner of the Dicks Sporting Goods card, all the way from Pittsburgh Pennnnnsylvania..." and the crowd murmurs in awe.

That race was so good for us - Neil never got upset with me - he just let it bump, he laughed it off, and he called it an adventure. He supported me through a run that was very difficult pain-wise, and he celebrated with me afterwards like I had made the olympic trials.

The Breakdown
date: 4/10/10
race: Run for Your Life 5K
location: NOT Stongsville, OH
charity: Childhood Obesity Awareness and a Local Playground 
time: 34:27

50 in 50 by 50

When I started running (that's generous, I was walking/jogging/breathing heavy),  I decided to find as many ways as I could to take the rehabilitation and pain and make it fun. I was inspired by my friend, Caitlin, who had this great little plan: to run 50 races, one in each of the 50 states, before turning 50.
*side note: she has a great blog about it here.

My husband and I stole her idea entirely and we began ticking off our races in April of 2010. Our rule is, it has to be at least a 5K and it has to be a sanctioned race (as in, you register, it's timed, etc.). Since then we've completed 6 states and a handful of local runs. This 50/50/50 thing started as a plan but quickly became one of the best parts of all the vacations we've been on.

(this is our honeymoon)

Last week or so, we booked a weekend trip for two, and simultaneously registered for a race in our 7th state! In the wake of my excitement, I will proceed by boring captivating you all with series of recap posts from our other races...with a sprinkling of other running things here and there.

So prepare yourself for the moderately exciting - running week!

Friday, February 24, 2012

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you cook up something new

As I continue to chip away at my new years resolution to learn to cook with 12 new fruits/vegetables in this year, I have discovered an ability to cook both okra and turnips. Not in any amazing ways - but in edible and very passible ways. 

They look like this:

They are usually slimy and seedy - thats the word on the street - if the "street" is Top Chef. 
I counted on the ever professional you tube video to saute the okra... (it was still sort of slimy, I didn't mind.)

Then I added onion and eggplant. I put in some garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and paprika (can you tell I don't measure). Then it was too spicy so I added some cinnamon and a bit of sugar and whatever else I could find (can you tell I don't follow recipes). I finished it with a dollop of hummus.  

They look like this: 

They got peeled and sliced and salted and covered with rosemary
They got roasted up with carrots and onion at 375 degrees for a time frame the I didn't measure. I was unsure about this part. Once again, without a recipe, I found myself answering Neil's question of "When is it done?" with more questions and made up words "I don't know. Are turnips crunchy-radishy? If so I think they're done. But then again, are they supposed to be mushy-potatoy? maybe longer?"

Shrug. wait. taste. wait. taste. and voila.... a masterpiece side dish!

If you have any actual measurements/times/quantifications of ways to eat these wonderful vegetables, please feel free to share them with me. While I have no complaints about them, I feel they got a raw deal in our kitchen. 

I hope you get to experiment a little too (cause its fun) and I hope it goes well.

Good Omens?

Start with the Dream...
I usually wake up often through the night so I usually remember my dreams. Unfortunately, those dreams are usually fraught with images I'd rather soon forget. This is why, when I had my first non-nightmare a week ago (the first good dream in years), I was so happy I felt I should share:

Neil and I were watching a basketball game in a court-side, luxury box (which only exist in my mind). The walls were plexiglass like a hockey penalty box, and our table for two was decadent... I mean, candelabra, gold chargers, heaps of food. I was eating chicken wings (my vegetarianism abandoned) and watching a tie game with, miraculously, no time left. Our team was poised to win it all because Paul Pierce was on the foul line. Then, Paul turned and looked at us. He locked eyes and boldly stepped back, and back, until he was beyond the arc. "Opting to shoot a 3 to win the game on a free throw? This is unheard of!!" The announcers were shocked. Then he lobbed it up - while maintaining eye contact the whole time. "HE WON THE GAME! HE WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP! WITH A NO-LOOK-BEYOND-THE-ARC-FOUL-SHOT!!!"

Onto Omens....
I don't know that I believe in Omens or signs, but I woke up thinking that the dream was just so good, maybe good things were to come my way. And the fact that Pitt was playing WVU in the final Back Yard Brawl that night was not lost on me.

Then there's Babies...
Around two o'clock that afternoon, my cousin called to say her water broke. She was 16 days early. She was admitted to deliver. And maybe because she was early or maybe because some people just have rough deliveries - a long, long day began for her. My cousin adjusted to the admission, endured the heavy doses of pitocin, labored through epidural difficulties, and pushed for hours. She was amazing. To give you an idea of how much she endured and how strong she had to be - when they told the only option remaining was a c-section, she was ready. (and she faced that with the same incredible strength she had shown all day and night)
So I got to be there, at the hospital, when my perfect niece entered the world. All 7 pounds 5 ounces of her. And I was in a room full of family members at the moment my amazing cousin became a mother, I had a court-side seat to a truly holy moment. And for a lack of more poetic descriptions, my cousin managed to pull off the very difficult no-look-beyond-the-arc-game-winning-shot.

Which brings me back to Omens...
I'm not saying there was a connection between my good dream and a healthy baby girl. Okay, okay, maybe I tried a bit too hard to draw a parallel but so what. I love basketball and I love my family - it happens. (Plus, if I were actually good at predicting things, Pitt wouldn't have lost that night - but that's neither here nor there). All signs aside, I am saying that both my dream and the birth were very good things. And my niece is perfect - have I mentioned that yet?
She's absolutely perfect.

happy first week, darling girl
(sorry your aunt is crazy)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I love charts

hey fellow dorks, tell the rest of the day that you won't be making it. whatever it is, you're not going to be there...

you've found charts.

(sounds like I'm joking but if you go to this site of charts, you will be done for. done for)

why I run

I used to hate running. HATE it. I used to say, I'll only run if someone is chasing me and only then if they are wielding a sharp weapon, yet certainly not if they have a gun (who can out run bullets?). So yes, sufficed to say, I used to hate running.

this is not me, but it's how I think I look

Then a perfect storm of catalysts got me out there putting one foot in front of the other.
*My doctor strongly suggested increasing my cardio. My resting heart rate was oh so high (from all that adrenaline pumping pain) and my heart needed some strengthening to bring that rate down.
*I went for a "hike" up a small hill. My heart pounded, my head screamed, my dizziness overwhelmed and I knew it was time to work on better physical well being.
*My husband (then boyfriend) loved to run. He was also someone who loved to go outside with me. He was also, miraculously, someone who was in no hurry - letting me set the pace... a pace so slow he would sometimes walk while I "jogged" beside him huffing and puffing

So in a way very similar to the couch to 5K program (but slower and with more tears) I proceeded work my way towards running....eventually, making it one minute without stopping. Then I could do a mile - then a 5K - then a two years later, a half marathon.

I still hate running a little bit. Its always hard to motivate myself and my head always hurts. But there's a lot of good I've found in it too. Enough good to make me one of 'those people' who wear lycra zip ups, read Born to Run, eat cliff bars, and run races.

motivation tip: put on shoes and clothes and watch and then stand in the street. 
60% of the time it gets me running

Here's a short list of why I run, but I'd really love to hear your reasons too....

I run because I don't compete with anyone but myself, and even then it's no real race.

I run because even though it's not a competition, I keep getting better and running keeps getting easier, so it feels really good to constantly exceed my best.

I run because I can push my body even when my mind has had enough.

I run because it really has made progress in my healing and anything I can do to get better I cherish.

I run because I love to chat with my guy while we go through the neighborhood.

I run because there are other times I love to just be alone with my thoughts.

I run because there are those moments when I can find a groove, the pace is good, the path is nice, the air is fresh, my feet just peel off the ground - and there is absolutely no where else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I have a deep and abiding love for This American Life. a weekly program that starts with a theme and tells stories from across America on that theme. Some are funny, some sad, some educational. I've almost always been fascinated.

Since my accident, the radio has provided a much lower stress form of entertainment for my brain, and the radio podcast allows me to pause and go back when I (often) miss something important.

But I'm convinced that Ira Glass can be appealing to everyone - not just the concussed. In fact, after suggesting that very concept to my dear husband, well, he didn't bite. THEN he was assigned certain episodes for his economics classes - and hizzah! He was a convert.

Now we listen to them weekly and discuss them in depth. We even store up new ones for car trips so we can play them while we drive (then discuss them in depth). So the point of my story is - even if you don't think listening to radio stories are for you - they probably are.
The Lesson: Don't wait for a masters level Econ professor to make you fall in love with Ira.

Not that you asked,
Here are some of my favorite episodes:
The Super
Tough Room
Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory
What I learned from Television
Fear of Sleep
Act V
Recordings for Someone
The Right to Remain Silent

Not that you said you need more but clearly I have them for you:
Running with Antelopes, Telephone, American in Paris, Very Tough Love, My Experimental Phase, Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, (Giant Pool of Money & Continental Break-Up will make you feel so much less stupid about our world's economic situations), What I did for Love, and #1 Party School

I'm sorry, and did I mention that it's all FREE - every backlogged episode, ever! oh Public Radio, you shouldn't have!

Do you have a favorite TAL that I didn't mention?  Or a part of one of these that's just stayed with you (don't some of them do that in the most wonderful way)? Do you have another favorite radio show that I should know about?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yoga and Injury

I have mentioned before that I love yoga for it's slow, easy help in getting me back from several body injuries. That fact can't be diminished for me.

But I just read this very interesting article about how yoga could actually be causing injury (by the ways its currently practiced in the US). The article interviews Glenn Black, a practioner for four decades, who studied in India and believes in both the healing and potentially harmful aspects of yoga... *note its Glenn BLACK not the other Glenn B

"According to Black, a number of factors have converged to heighten the risk of practicing yoga. The biggest is the demographic shift in those who study it. Indian practitioners of yoga typically squatted and sat cross-legged in daily life, and yoga poses, or asanas, were an outgrowth of these postures. 

Now urbanites who sit in chairs all day walk into a studio a couple of times a week and strain to twist themselves into ever-more-difficult postures despite their lack of flexibility and other physical problems. Many come to yoga as a gentle alternative to vigorous sports or for rehabilitation for injuries. But yoga’s exploding popularity — the number of Americans doing yoga has risen from about 4 million in 2001 to what some estimate to be as many as 20 million in 2011 — means that there is now an abundance of studios where many teachers lack the deeper training necessary to recognize when students are headed toward injury. 

“Today many schools of yoga are just about pushing people,” Black said. “You can’t believe what’s going on — teachers jumping on people, pushing and pulling and saying, ‘You should be able to do this by now.’ It has to do with their egos.”'

(to counter, an article about yoga relieving chronic back pain.)

I do feel a disconnect with my fellow yogis when I go to class after class and I repeatedly revert to the mat for child's pose, while they forge ahead. I don't go into shoulder stands... but do I think, the neck injury was years ago, I should be there by now right? but according to the article, I shouldn't. 

I happen to have no flexibility in my hamstrings - so after about 5 1/2 years of practice, I still can't get my heals to touch the floor in downward facing dog. Sure with some stretching, I could force it, but I don't. I feel like this article now gives me my justification. I can take time with that.

To read this and only hear yoga is dangerous is severely missing the point. Its not dangerous. Its a safe exercise - even with the injuries noted - its more safe than most exercises. The point is that this is not to be a practice about ego and accomplishments. 

It is not about ego and accomplishments
It is not about ego and accomplishments

(I have to keep saying that because I watch this video and say dannng. I want to do what she can, within the year)

Monday, February 20, 2012

clever little tips

Right now I'm in a sort of mid-adulthood limbo. I'm beyond the 'open a bag of chips' college parties, and I'm not quite at the 'host an entire family feast' holiday parties. If friends are coming over, I throw a nice wedge of cheese at the occasion. If its Christmas, I'm trusted with 1.5 side dishes.

That leaves me with very little by way of advise for a Better Home and Garden or for Good Housekeeping. I've spent my fair share of time in doctors offices so I know enough to know my life doesn't look as "Real Simple" as the magazine implies.

(this is me, victorious, after a battle with homemade ravioli)

So when I saw this article of clever little tips, it blew my mind! I started thinking, 'is there a whole world of easy living out there that I know nothing about?'

The only hosting tip I seem to have picked up on is as follows (brace yourself, because I've been to parties and this is universal) - take food out of the containers they came in and put them onto containers you own.

Pretzels go into bowls, crackers get spread out onto plates, cheeses get put on a piece of wood, etc. Everything is supposed to look like it didn't come wrapped in plastic. Even oreos - put those suckers on a platter. If you're feeling frisky, alternate them with E.L.Fudges. Boom. You have yourself a classy party.

Beyond that, I can't help you. But feel free to help me. What do you know? Give me your secrets to being an adult.

Friday, February 17, 2012

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you remember love lost

well that sounds depressing for valentine's day week (I can't keep up).

I hear a lot of ANTI-VALENTINES DAY sentiments and they usually go as follows:

Complaint 1: Its just a commercialized holiday hallmark endorses to make boyfriends buy crap
to which I don't disagree. But aren't most holidays commercialized? Can't we just complain less and nicely say "i love you", then not buy crap?
Complaint 2: Its stupid to have a day for love when if you're in a good relationship, every day should be about love.
again, no disagreement about the sentiment but honestly? everyday? isn't it nice to have a reminder - to lay it on thick every once and a while. It's like resolutions on Jan 1st - good to eat healthy every month, nice to check in on that once a year.
Complaint 3: Its a holiday that makes single people feel bad.
to this I can sympathize. I'm sorry.

I loved my single years and wouldn't want to go back and change them. They were a nice cocktail of about four parts sweet and one part bitters... and sometimes I felt all of that at once.

Like some single people, I liked Valentines day because I got to say "I love yous" to a lot of great people in my life and I counted them as precious and expirational (as in, if I do fall in actual romantic love, this could be my last V-day on my own - I need to live it up).

Like all single people, I had been hurt by love.

In Adele's acceptance speech during the Grammy's this week, she hinted at why her album was such a success (aside from musical greatness) - because the subject was something we could all relate to - "a rubbish relationship"

So if the oozy sickly sweet love of this week has been something not everyone can connect with - I wanted to spend a little time with something all of us can nod our heads along to... love lost.

And If you're in the midst of heartache right now, here's some advice....
*Listen to other people's stories of  Break-Up because misery loves company
*Complain. Vent about the crazy exes to your friends, that's what they're there for because company loves to be made miserable
*Throw yourself an actual pity party
*Know that lots of other people (famous people) seemed happy but then lost love
*Allow a little mocking of smug couple people.
*Then know this down deep - things get better

Funny Tumblr (parts 4 and 5 AND 6, THANK YOU TIM!)

What would I do without all these very specific categorical tumblrs to amuse me?

Thank you america - for having the creativity and spare time to create things that stimulate my mind make me laugh.

#4 - Hungover Owls - I think the pictures of owls that look hungover need little else by way of explanation

#5 - T Rex Trying - this is brilliant. I've always wondered how a T Rex would stand up again if it fell over. This tumblr poses so many better scenarios about said dinosaur and it's unfortunate arm length.

*EDIT* I'm adding a 6th tumblr. One of the best people I know posted it in the comments but you might not have time to sift through all of those... plus, it would be to your benefit to watch this immediately. and THANK YOU TIM!

#6 - Bad Lip Reading - I watched the first video link of Newt Gingrich and laughed till I cried. (I can't explain why - it might be an underdeveloped sense of humor that finds "poo poo in the egg salad" to be hilarious - but I go with it)

"I think it'd be cool to get four porpoises, a wet Nigerian, and do the merry lunch limbo. 
That'd be a bad ass mission."

and in case you missed the amusing tumblrs I've already fallen for, here they are: one, two, three

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dreams to Hood to Coast

There are times I let myself think ahead to a future when I'm no longer in pain. This masochistic exercise in daydreaming leads me to the same list of things over and over again.
*the day I can work again
*the day I begin to get steady paychecks
*the day I can go to a restaurant (and not hear all the background noise)
*the day I can go for a run (and not feel ice pick pain)
*the day I can talk after church (with out overwhelm)
*the first time I sleep through the night
So exciting right? big dreamer over here! But thats what I long for... really mundane things. Coming home from a long day, throwing my keys on the counter, pinching the bridge of my nose, and saying something typical like "you would not believe my coworkers."

**I know the over worked readers are thinking I'm nuts. Maybe it's the whole 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone' concept. I promise if you couldn't work, you'd miss it. I promise a few years into working the shiny finish will wear off and I'll want a break. (Oh, how green the grass is over there.)

BUT there is one other less-than-ordinary dream I have for my pain-free self, and that is to run the Hood to Coast Relay race in Oregon. (thank you Caitlin for planing the seed, you've created a monster)

Hood to Coast begins at Mt Hood, goes through Portland and continues a full 200 miles to the Pacific coast, ending on the beach at Seaside Oregon.

You run in teams of 12 and break the milage up into 36 legs. You travel in two vans and take turns sleeping, driving, running, eating for the full 30 or so hours it takes to complete the course.

Its supposedly one of the most awe inspiring views and one of the most fun experiences and one of the most challenging races... oh yeah, and one of the most concussion un-friendly things I can conceive of. To run this race would mean I am better. And to say I am fully better would be a statement so much bigger than a measly 200 mile race.

I don't care much if it takes over a decade before I get there, because this race is extraordinary. And yet, its something where I still want the mundane. I don't want any discussion about my pain or my health. I don't want sleeping shifts adjusted for my sake. I even want to be able to help out other people. I want it to be normal (in the midst of a really unique thing - does that make sense?)

I want to stand on the shore of the Pacific Ocean with eleven people I love - think for a fleeting second of the girl in bed, longing to be able to what so many people could do so freely - then smile because I'm one of them now... and head off to eat a hearty brunch.

note: please let me know if anyone reading this wants be standing there with me. You too can be save up for this ridiculous race on an indefinite date!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

vacation: the panic and the joy

It is officially official - the Orbins are going on vacation! We booked it, it's for real! And its just the two of us!

When I asked Neil "Have we ever had a trip for only us?" He look at me, sighed, and said "Yes. Our honeymoon." (its true, my dear, you are married to a woman with a defunct memory)

We started talking about this months ago, so there's been an extended time of pouring over which airline has the best flights with the best times of travel for my brain and the best week to go for the best price. Searching different cities in the hopes of a reasonable cost effective answer. Deciding NO we don't need to go anywhere... saving money is better. Then having Neil say YES, its okay if we have a trip for the point of having to say "I'll book the flight if it's too hard for you to physically pay for it."

So here is the list of pros and cons that got me to calm down about going to Providence, Rhode Island this May....

- I get time away with my husband.  We both have some stressors and its nice to take a time out to be together
- Providence is awesome. I have never seen the place but I have been reading some books on the puritans.  Of all the colonies, I think Rhode Island had it right. I can't freakin wait to see tributes to Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. (not to mention the first ever Baptist Church, cause they believe in freedom of religion in those parts!)
- We can run a race. Its the weekend of the Cox Rhode Marathon (rather not, no) but we lucked out with a 5K the day before at the non-offensive time of 5pm in Roger Williams Park!
- The trip is to celebrate my "Didn't Die Day". This is the morbid holiday in which I reflect on not dying and feel gratitude for life. Last year I couldn't celebrate it because of other thing going on - so this year its a big deal (after all, what's the point of living if you don't really live)
- We can afford it because we budget well (ladies, marry an accountant if you can)

- It costs money

As you can see, the Pros have it - and now I will go celebrate - because the monies we pinched and saved are spent and Delta will not give them back, even if I ask nicely. So I cannot fret. I can only wonder which historical plaque I will go to first!

Do you get panic along with all the good things that come with vacation? 
Have you been to Providence? If yes, I care about eating, so can you tell me all about that please!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

$4.99 for a card!!

Happy Valentines Day to all the people I love!!!
unfortunately, I don't love you 4.99 worth so - you get these instead... 
(pretend I wrote something witty and touching inside)

These next ones are strictly for my studly husband, the finance major that makes a perfect omelet and tells me a reason he loves me every single night...

Monday, February 13, 2012

the written letter

I wouldn't say I long to sit down and write a letter. I wouldn't even say I want to revert back to using the written letter over email (but there is something about a letter, maybe I'm warming up to the idea).

I will say, I have a small fascination with reading other people's private notes.

I just finished a book called "Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda", which is a compilation of love letters between F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald. Everything from their high times of success and parties in Paris, just after finishing 'The Great Gatsby' to the very low times when she was committed to a mental institution while he struggled with alcohol.

It was surreal to read the last anxious letter Scott wrote before he died of a heart attack, and then flip back to the beginning and find a flirting eighteen year old Zelda. This is their whole life, in this book. And because they never dreamed someone would take their intimate letters, study them, chronicle them, bind them and publish them - the letters are often the mundane parts of their lives. Which makes it all feel so very real and so honest. Not like the way we see everyday life scripted into thrilling for reality TV. And not like the way we think through and filter and 'present' our thoughts on facebook and in blogs.

I finished that book and didn't want to stop stalking people's correspondence - thank God for the internet - I found this little gem: Letters of Note.  Everyday this site posts a letter from someone famous - every. day. (hallelujah)  

I love this letter where hollywood producer David Selznick begs the Hays Office (who regulated what was passable to say in movies) to allow the word "Damn" in the classic line "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." - thank you letter writing, we almost didn't have Rhett Butler at his finest!

And this letter gave me chills. I have always considered Slaughterhouse-Five to be one of my favorite books, and while I knew it was based off of an experience Kurt Vonnegut had as a POW - I didn't know it. Reading his letter home was so haunting. Hearing how frank he was with horrifying details makes me thankful for people like him - who have the courage to share like that, because he went on to use that experience to write. and write. and write.

must go now - peering into to people's private affairs won't happen on it's own - there's much to read

Friday, February 10, 2012

HAPPY WEEKEND! hope you get to share lots of love

When Valentine's Day falls mid-week, I have to wonder, is this the weekend o' love? 
Or is next weekend the one to celebrate? 

a vote for both? 

wouldn't you lurve to have this print from Annie Hall?

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Of all the things I do for my health, getting acupuncture has been the best for me (by a landslide). I adore and respect Sidney, my acupuncturist, so much - which is why I trust her when she says my adrenal glands are stressed. It's no shock, other medical professionals have told me this news before, and if I think about it, it makes sense.
When you are in pain - for example, you stub your toe - your body releases adrenaline (from your adrenal glands) as part of the pain response. When you are in pain for over 3 1/2 years, those adrenals get over worked and stressed.

However, my trust for Sidney made it particularly hard to have this conversation...

me: "If my adrenals are stressed what can I do?"
sidney: "Well, its about more than just resting - although, you should be resting more."
me: "Okay, I can do that."
sidney: "And it's important that you reduce your caffeine intake..."
my brain exploding: (whossa, what now?!?)
sidney: "... no more than 8 oz of coffee a day would be fine."
me: "sure."

I responded with - "sure" - but I was really thinking "please don't mess with my happy place."

I don't drink a TON of coffee but I do usually make a pot in the mid-morning then have two (or so) mugs. I sip it and it takes time and it's a good part of my day. I don't like to give up good parts of my day.... but I will. Even though I don't have any sort of feelings about the little chewed up wads of gum that sit atop my kidney, I'll sacrifice for them if it means getting a bit better.

Twice since the accident I went cold turkey in giving up caffeine and those were two ugly months (that did nothing to help my headache). I kept saying - "Pregnant women do this all the time right? they seem happy." All the while wanting to punch people. But this time its not giving up everything. So I'm just being overly dramatic. Plus it's for you, little adrenals. Don't be so stressed.

So as I half my caffeine intake, I'm going to take a ceremonious moment and honor coffee (like they do in the oscars... coffee's life time achievement award)

I love this coffee consumption chart done by column 5 media, to track coffee drinking trends.

(I feel I could stick to my guns much better 
if it was with pretty bar graphs like these.)

And how surprising are these foam latte pictures by New York barista Mike Breach? maybe I'll switch over and make my one drink a day something pretty.

Black Gold is a great documentary on coffee - you can stream it for free here - then annoy all your friends with facts about fair trade

I really like this print by Tom Pappalardo (he gets me). Or you could buy a small version of it in sticker form -

This tumblr - My Daily Coffee - chronicles each day with a photo of their cup of joe (because that's the most important part, right?)

And while this mug is pretty fantastic - the answer is NO, Lionel. No thank you. I'm looking for more coffee.