O HAI

I’ve not written in a while, it seems.

That won’t really change today, as I got a manicure done about an hour ago and I don’t want to ruin it by typing – as it is, this string of words took me about five very long and frustrating minutes. (First-world problems, y’all….) But, I am alive; just busy:

Teaching. Summer language school started last week; it’s intense, but I have a good, smart, fun group of students.

Planting a garden. I think my basil plants – Oliver, Twist, Frick, and Frack – are being eaten by ants, which is frustrating. Yesterday I added Jane Parker, the tomato plant. I hope she does not suffer a similar fate.

Watching baseball. My Nats won their 40th game last night in fantastic fashion. They’re just too much fun to while away an evening with.

Watching my beloved university unravel and then start re-knitting the threads. I’m at UVA, if I’ve not made that clear before. It’s been a bit tense around here, but I have hope that the right outcome will occur.

Not running.  I aggravated a lingering painful tendon a couple of weeks ago, and I took this week off to let it rest. I’ll be out of town this weekend not doing things related to running, so I’ll give it a few more days before I get back on the wagon. I miss running, but my body needed the time off, and I don’t want to start marathon training (ack, soon!) injured.

Eating fruit. It’s summer-cold-food paradise right now: peaches, blueberries, strawberries, plums, apricots, cherries. I love this part of the year, foodwise.

Perfecting par-boiled asparagus. I think I’ve got it now, which is good because I’m tired of smelling asparagus pee.

Soaking up the long rays of the sun at the end of dusk. I really can’t stand hot weather, but I love the wistfulness of the evening light when the shadows start to stretch across the grass. It’s a bittersweet thing, kind of like rhubarb. (I can’t remain sentimental for too long.)

Nor can I keep typing this much without freaking out about my fingernails. I’ll write more once they start chipping. 🙂 Happy summer, y’all.

Another numbered list!

1) Turkey burgers are not for consumption the night before a long Saturday run. It could also have been the artichoke dip, but either way, that was a lesson learned last weekend. To everyone behind me on whom I farted – and I know for sure there were at least three of you – I’m really, really sorry.

2) The three weeks between the Preakness and the Belmont in a year when a Triple Crown is on the line are ENTIRELY too long. I’m squirming myself to pieces waiting for Saturday to finally get here. I suspect I’ll be disappointed, but I still have hope.

3) Today was National Running Day! I got in my 6 miles on the treadmill, which was only made less horribly boring – there’s a reason some call it “the dreadmill” – by the fact that I could watch the French Open on TV while doing so. I came in during one of the women’s quarterfinals, the one that Petra Kvitova won, and instantly found myself rooting for her opponent because she was a qualifier (ranked 142nd in the world coming into the tournament) and was wearing glasses. She lost, but still put up a good fight. And then I got to watch the beginning of Rafael Nadal’s quarterfinal match, which hey, wouldn’t you know, made the time go so much faster! 🙂

4) We’ve had unnervingly cool weather this week, which would have meant outside runs if it hadn’t been raining every time I’ve tried to go. Grumble. This does still mean that my A/C has remained off, but given that Sunday’s high is rather close to 90 degrees, I think that will be changing in a few short days.

5) I have an unrelenting crush on Bryce Harper. I know he’s younger than my oldest nephew. I don’t care. The kid has everything, up to and including a horrible haircut that only adds to his charm. (And I’m totally only saying that because I have a crush on him. If it were anyone else, it would be unacceptable.)

6) Somewhat pursuant to that, I went to my first Nationals game last Saturday and had an incredibly fun time. The park is beautiful, the weather was perfect, the beer was overpriced, and I loved every second of it. I can NOT wait to go back, though I will buy tickets sooner than 3 days before the game next time. I have a Nats hat now, which I am not embarrassed to say I am wearing as much as I can.

7) New guilty pleasure: a chocolate Wendy’s Frosty topped with cookie dough balls that you get out of a tub. Not as good as many of the milkshakes I know and love, but it will do when you’re nowhere near a Cook Out or somesuch other place.

8) I might be addicted to baseball. I guess this is better than being addicted to cookie dough, and possibly not as healthy as being addicted to running, but this summer has become 200% more enjoyable with the addition of baseball. Dear everyone I ever said “I hate baseball” to, I take it back. It’s freaking AWESOME.

9) I start summer teaching next week, so I’m trying to enjoy as much of the last of my free time as I can. That said, I’m excited to meet my students, and have a suspicion that the next eight weeks are going to fly on by – as summer weeks so often do.

10) Did you guys see the transit of Venus last night? If you didn’t, well, I hope you plan to live until 2117, when the next one will occur 🙂 I was watching the live feed on NASA’s homepage and it was so fun listening to all of the scientists get really excited about this event. It was pretty cool, and you can watch time-lapse videos here: http://venustransit.gsfc.nasa.gov/  (my favorite is the third one, where you can see giant solar flares!)

Hmm. My stomach tells me that dinner must be made now, and the clock tells me I have a Nats game to watch – let’s hope it’s not the epic 12-inning, 4+-hour battle that last night’s game was, as fun as that was to watch. Onward!

Snippets and tidbits and things

Hi! It’s been a while. (Memorial Day weekend was fantastic, thank you.) Here are things upon which I’m ruminating this week,  in no particular order:

1) Humidity sucks. Some jerkface called Mother Nature turned the “instant summer” switch on over the Memorial Day holiday, and yours truly was neither looking forward to it nor quite prepared for it. I should have known when, last week, it started feeling thick in the early mornings on my way to work. Cool, but still thick. This will continue through September, so I’ve no choice but to just get used to it, which I am slowly doing. Suddenly all of my runs have become ‘easy’ runs, if my times last week were any indication – it’s a good thing I’m not actively training for anything right now, since speedwork outside is simply out of the question. Come July, though, when marathon training starts for real, this is going to be a problem, so I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to have to get up at 3:30am to get my runs in before I leave for work at 6:30am. (and no, I can’t just run on a treadmill. I reserve that for rainy days only.) I am, however slowly, acclimating, if my times from this week are any indication; tomorrow’s long run – scheduled for 6am when there are forecasted 59 degrees and 40% humidity – should tell me for sure if I’m making any progress.

But man. 90% humidity at 8am really, really sucks.

2) Raw asparagus straight out of the refrigerator is my new favorite snack. OK, I wash it first, but seriously, it’s a genius thing. Chalk it up to Things I Didn’t Know Until Three Days Ago, when I lamented to my roommate out loud that it felt too hot to cook and that I wished there was some way to just eat asparagus straight out of the fridge. She looked at me like I had three heads, and told me that there was exactly nothing except the space between the fridge and me preventing me from doing just that. (I never knew, okay?) Thanks to asparagus pee, I won’t do this every single day, but for now, while the stuff is in season, I’ve found myself a new favorite thing to munch on while the rest of dinner is cooking.

3) Because I can’t be trusted to run a new route without some sort of fun incident, I got way totally lost while checking out a new neighborhood yesterday. [Last week, I took a wrong turn and ended up in a trailer park and got some pretty snide looks. This week, I ended up in a foofy housing development whose residents apparently all have to own awesome dogs to be allowed to buy a house there. I was ogling a gorgeous German Shepherd and I’m pretty sure that’s what caused me to miss my first turn…] Thankfully, I’d mapped out a couple of worst-case scenarios while mapping this run, and had devised a couple of alternative ways back to my starting point in case this very thing happened. One of those ways, the Super Last Resort Back, involved going up the entirety of the stupidly gigantic bitch-ass (sorry Mom) monster hill I drive up every morning on my way to work. I’ve run up about half of it before, but I always wimp out on the whole thing, or tell myself that it’s okay to quit. Today, there was none of that nonsense, and who knew – all in all, the hill’s actually not that terrible! So that was an awesome feeling.

In the conquering of said hill, a phrase popped into my mind when I started going up it and approaching the point at which I usually quit. I was gathering myself mentally for the hill to suck, when out of nowhere came the words “Do something you’re going to be proud of for the rest of the day.” It might reflect pathetically on my life that something as minor as running up a hill is what might make me proud on any given day, but you know what? I started thinking more about it, and I realized (while totally not paying attention to how much the hill kinda did suck) that this is a pretty good life motto to adopt. Every day, when I wake up, I should strive to do one thing at which I can look back at bedtime and say, “Yeah, I’m proud of the fact that I did that.” So, consider that a new thing for me to work on.

*ahem* Sorry. Moment of Zen over.

4) So you know I’m now, um, sort of obsessed with the baseball club named the Washington Nationals? Well. As I wrote a couple of posts ago,  I recently decided that I really, really wanted to get up to D.C. to see them play this year, and I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out when would be the best time for that to happen. As it turns out, this weekend is looking like the only time I’ll be able to make it up north to Nationals Park, which I guess is a good thing because HALLELUJAH I HAVE TICKETS FOR SATURDAY’S GAME that is very nearly sold out. HOT DOG. (I will probably eat one or five of those there.) I’m going with saint of a boyfriend, who earns double-sainthood for actually procuring the tickets online while I was trying not to freak out over the phone with him while I watched my other options blow up in my face in the span of five minutes. In the end, the result is that we have tickets, and I think the seats are good, but I really don’t care because there is a game and I will be there for it and I am going to drink beer and eat ballpark food and be entirely pleased with the fact that I’ve paid entirely too much money for all of the above. I got myself so excited about this on Wednesday when we bought the tickets that I actually gave myself a headache. [Sometimes I wonder if I’m not a neurotic dog, or something.] Since then, I’ve been only sort of obsessively planning the details of our trip, maybe including but not limited to the most efficient map of stops at food stands that we are going to do in relation to locations of beer and bathrooms.  Probably I will work myself into a frenzy over this, and probably be so excited Saturday morning when I go out for my run that I will way, way, over-speed my run and somehow manage to fall asleep later at the surely pivotal moment of the game. (If you think this is ridiculous, you should know that I’ve fallen asleep during action movies in theaters more than once.)

Sigh.

5) As of June 1, which is today, my A/C will have remained off, still, and while I anticipate it will actually get turned on this weekend, I still feel like I’ve won. I do, however, keep taking progressively colder showers, which will at some point become untenable, even though they feel quite good, especially when I can’t tell if I’ve just been outside running, or swimming.

6) Many excellent things happened over Memorial Day weekend, but one of the most was the discovery of a soft-serve ice cream parlor right up the street from my sister’s house. She and I were reminiscing about summers spent on Long Island, New York, at our grandparents’ house; she grew up with the stuff, and it became one of her favorite things about visiting my grandparents after she, my mom, and my other sister moved to Maryland before I was born. When I got old enough to understand why the clarion call of Mister Softee was, indeed, a wonderful thing, it became one of my favorite things about those visits, too, and I soon joined her when she ran into the street waving her arms like a lunatic at that obnoxious white truck that was still half a mile down the road. [She’d stand there and dance until the guy pulled up, at which point she’d keep dancing and greet him with a loud “WOO-HOO!”]

Our last visit to that house – and that street – together was in the summer of 2000, when my grandfather died. My aunt, who had been living with him, sold the house not long after that, and I went back by myself in 2001 for one last visit before she moved out. That summer of 2000 was the last time I had Mister Softee, and anyone who’s had it and understands how wonderful it is and how damn near impossible it is to replicate will know exactly how excited I was to hear from my sister that this new ice cream parlor up the road did soft-serve just like Mister Softee and no, she wasn’t kidding. I finally got there the day before I left, and I took one taste of that chocolate swirl drenched in chocolate sprinkles and I was nearly in tears, I was in such heaven. Memories, rushing back at me, with one stupid lick of an ice cream cone! It was sublime. As soon as I got back I asked my sister if they were open year-round, which they’re not, but apparently they usually stay open through the end of September, which I instantly proclaimed brilliant, because…

Hey, guess who’s going back to the area in September to run a half-marathon, and is crashing with her sister, and now knows what she is going to eat the second she gets back from finishing? This girl! OH HELLS YES. I anticipate a PR for the half, because nothing is as good a motivator for me as ice cream. Well, that, and my brother-in-law caught wind of the reason I’m going back for the September visit, and took about five seconds to decide that he wanted to run it with me – this guy smokes nearly a pack a day and can roll out of bed with a hangover and just peel off 8 miles like it’s nothing, because he’s in ridiculously good shape and has lungs of steel – so even though I know it’s not theoretically possible, I’d also like to beat him, just to show him I can.  So not going to happen…. maybe. 😉

7) I know I’ve said it before, but really, Smartwool socks are awesome. All of the stuff I splurged on last week, actually, has been performing exceptionally well for me. I don’t know how on earth I ever made it through warm-weather running without sleeveless shirts before, though; they are a godsend, I tell you. So, no buyer’s remorse here, since the gear has all been immediately useful and good at what it does.

8) It’s National Donut Day, and the people at my local Dunkin’ Donuts laughed at me when I walked in to get a coffee and the gentleman helping me at the register started to say “So you get a free donut with a beverage purchase today”, and I (perhaps a little too excitedly) quickly exclaimed “I know! That’s the whole reason I’m here!” I have many favorite donuts, but I think the butternut donut is totally underrated. I just finished it, and I’m in sugary, saturated-fat heaven. Nom nom nom!

Okay, that’s it! Happy weekend, dear reader(s).