30 January 2006

Rock Grrl, SupraGenius

So I told y'all I've been going to the gym, yeah? Like every day, you know, for real.

I've been following this training program I downloaded for the last few weeks to the letter. It tells me to bike for 35 minutes, I bike for 35 minutes. It tells me to do ten evil lunges on Tuesdays, that's what I do.

The basic gist of the plan is to be able to do a Sprint (short) Triathlon at the end of the 12 weeks. I figure I'll do the plan twice in a row, then maybe think about signing up for some wimpy little race somewhere. The kind where everybody wins and gets a hug, preferably.

So, triathlons being three-sport games, the plan mostly revolves around those three sports: bike, run, swim. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, I run and swim. Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, bike and weights. It's great! Exhausting and insane! And great!

So today I checked my little online training guide to see what the good word was today, and it was a 20-minute run followed by a 600-yard swim. Not bad, as these things go. Except for the fact that I am molto retardolicious when it comes to simple math, and I can never remember how many laps I have to swim in a M.F. 25-yard pool in order for those yards to add up to a certain larger number, like 600.

Good lord! all the people say. A child could do that math! A child does do that math, every blessed day, usually by the third grade!

You are right, but that doesn't help me a bit when I am in the pool and busy being stupid.

The pool portion of the workout took curiously long to complete today, and I was almost late for work, but I did those damn laps, jumped in the shower at the Y, jammed some gel in my hair, pulled on the fancy pants and went to work, exhausted.

It wasn't until about three o'clock this afternoon that I realized I had actually completed 1200 yards today in the pool, due to my superior mental skills.

No wonder I'm so damn tired.

20 January 2006

Daddy sang bass

One thing that a commute is good for -- even a simple little 15-minute commute like mine -- is the chance it gives you to blow off steam by gunning the engine, passing every other stupid car on the road (some days they are all stupid, I am sure you have noticed this), and blasting your favorite cd. With appropriate vocal accompaniment, of course.

Juvenile? Sure! Absolutely! And so effective!

I had no really good reason to be hostile this afternoon, it's just a few things that bugged me. But as soon as I got in my car to begin my weekend I got all madder-than-thou and needed to punch several somethings. Or somebodies. I really should have gone to the gym and worked it off, but I have this shindig I have to go to.

So instead I barreled on home to change into some fancy threads and lipstick, informed my cats about the latest news on Who Is The Leading Asshole In The Outside World Today (they like to keep up with current events), played some more loud music, and now it is almost time to go be fancy and refined amongst me social betters.

It may be a bit of an old song by now, but I still have yet to find a song that gets out the angry quite as well as Gratitude by the Beastie Boys. It helps to have great enormous speakers like we do (you tend to inherit some seriously kickass sound equipment when you run a nightclub) but I suspect a little old iPod would work just as well. It's the thought, really. And the bass. Don't forget the bass.

17 January 2006

Stop me if you've heard this one

I love my streamlined mornings -- my coffee brews automatically while I'm rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and popping some vitamins, I have my clothes laid out and ironed, my lunch is made and in my bag, and my gym bag is ready to go with all of the necessaries for whatever workout is scheduled for that day, but oh my stars that means I am spending HOURS in the evening preparing all of that nonsense.

Look at this! It is almost SEVEN O'CLOCK and I am just now sitting down to my blogs. Is this any way to live???

Well, yes, I suppose so, what with all the bills being paid and all. And they did just order my business cards all stylish with my name on them and all. So I guess I'll put up with it.

Let's not even get into the state of the house. Dishes? HA! I ain't doin' no stinkin' dishes. Especially not the stinky ones. I did the dishes over the weekend. They can wait until another weekend rolls around, I say. Working full-time is turning out to be just as time consuming as I always suspected it would be. I was right again.

So here, I got a story for ya. Real quick. True story, swear to God.

So a friend of mine has a daughter who is about to have a daughter. The almost-a-mom-for-the-first-time, my friend's daughter, has apparently been needling her mom to ask around her friends to see if anyone wants any accounting, bookkeeping, or tax work done, because she will soon have a baby and is afraid she will be bored and need something to do what with staying at home with the baby all day long.

One more time: She is afraid she will be bored and need something to do what with staying at home with the baby all day long.

Thank you. Thank you. I'm here all week.

15 January 2006

Stroke me

Ah, my shoulder muscles are sore, and I am so happy. I have finally made it back to swimming laps, back to exercising, back to changing out of a wet bathing suit in front of other people. If that's not dedication, I don't know what is.

First of course I had to scrape all the winter growth of hair off my legs, which in itself was a lovely sensation -- seems like it's summer almost -- and which will feel so good as I slide between freshly laundered sheets tonight. Ahh, smooth skin. Nothing like it.

The pool wasn't as cold as I feared it would be, or maybe it was just so cold outside that it was balmy by comparison in the pool room. I shared a lane with a friendly older gentleman who swam his laps with the same thoughtful deliberation and prudent lack of haste as I was employing, and we chatted every now and then when we happened to be pausing on the same end of the lane at the same time.

He asked me if I swam competitively, because my stroke was so "polished." Mind you, it's been over ten years since I swam laps in a pool. I'm telling you, that comment almost got that 70-year-old a kiss right then and there. No, I never swam competitively, but I took swim technique lessons all through college and swam laps almost every day while I had access to the health center at school, a glorious facility that I failed to properly appreciate at the time. Like so much else.

And although I think he was just being nice, I was gratified to feel the old stroke coming right back to me, including all the insane little details, like at exactly what angle the hand should enter the water, index finger first, the importance of rolling slightly side to side, and extending the arm just that extra bit from the shoulder before bringing the arm down under the torso and through the water in an efficient, bent-elbow L-shape.

That sort of attention to technique was one of the things I always loved about swimming laps. I loved spending hours just focussing on shit like that -- the angle, the roll, the stretch. It's why I loved tai chi, too, but swimming is in water -- it's in this marvelously warm, aqueous environment, sound muffled and eyes fixed on the serene pool floor, blissfully solitary even when sharing a lane with several other people, steady and careful and meditative.

Racing as a swimmer never appealed to me -- all that thrashing and splashing about seemed like a perversion of the form, the technique thrown over to the exertion of speed. But I do feel the need for a goal now that I'm back into it, and I'm wondering if I should register for one of the open-water swim races this summer, just to give myself something to work toward?

We'll see. But I know one thing: I will be first in the pool again tomorrow morning, no matter how much my muscles stiffen tonight as I sleep, as I dream of sliding back and forth through cool, sweet water.

14 January 2006

Old and in the way

I'm teaching a friend of mine how to knit for a role she has in a play that starts in early February. This is a great thing, because I love my friend and I love the play and also I love to knit, but we just had our first lesson and she informed me that her character not only knits, she is an expert knitter. Like, she makes a living by knitting and then selling gloves.

My friend has never knit before, and I have yet to knit gloves. Mittens, yes, but gloves, no.

Oh well, I know the general routine, and she just has to look believable, right?

So I'm at rehearsal teaching her how to knit with these huge needles and it's going well. Then I realize that I know one of the men in the cast, and then I realize that he is related closely to the woman who owns the yarn shop I frequent most frequently, and then I realize this means that she will probably come see this play.

So this raises the stakes somewhat, you know? So now my friend has to appear to be an expert knitter, and it's highly likey that an expert knitter and some of her closest friends will be in the audience watching her knit.

Besides teaching people how to knit today I have been running around town spending my first paycheck on fancy clothes and fripperies. I bought two jackets, a shirt and some shoes, also some gear for the pool (we'll discuss my blinding speed and astonishing skill as a lap swimmer later). And a sparkly green necklace that I love so much I might never take it off. Those pearls were getting to me, making me feel old and conservative, so I bought this. I also bought a tea kettle, because I have gotten into the habit of having a nice, bracing cup of tea after work in the evening.

Good lord. First pearls, now knitting lessons and tea kettles. If anyone is reading this for the first time, I'm only 34!!! Honest! And I'm markedly left-leaning in my politics! I listen to obscure rock bands! And, um, I used to own a rock club! And... you're not buying it, are you.

11 January 2006

Let the river run

You know what I totally get now? Pearls. I understand now!

Over the course of the last couple of months, and especially in the last couple of weeks, I have been dressing in the morning, trying to fabricate a professional-ish looking outfit from the remainders of years of freelancing, working backstage, the occasional opening night gala event, and lots of club clothes from the nineties. When I want to look like a mature and reliable grown-up, the pickings, they are slender.

But when I look in the mirror and feel almost dressed, like if only I had one fabulous thing to pull it all together, then I could go forth and conquer, I have reached for the pearls.

What is happening to me? I am becoming Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl, aren't I? But I always wanted to be Melanie Griffith in Working Girl! Especially the parts about making out with Harrison Ford.

My college suffered under one particular stereotype that always cracked me up at the time -- in the Five College region in western Mass at the time, Mount Holyoke chicks were supposedly identifiable by their ever-present string of pearls. This was particularly hysterical to my crowd, as we were identifiable by our Doc Maartens, baggy jeans, and plaid flannels. Hey. It was the early nineties. Blame Kurt Cobain.

The complete image of the proper Mount Holyoke Chick was a langorous debutante, floating dreamily about the dorms in a Lanz nightgown (like any of us knew what THAT was) and a string of pearls. I vaguely understand that Wendy Wasserstein had something to do with popularizing that image in one of her plays (she's an alum), but I'm pretty sure the stereotype predates her work.

So anyway there I am, in my string of pearls and otherwise clad in good old reliable black from head to toe, when someone notices my Mount Holyoke travel mug and comments on it. I see her noticing it, I see her eyes flick to the pearls, I see a slight smirk.

Dammit! Dammit dammit dammit!

But honestly, they are kind of like armor. They have this fantastic whiff of old money, of confident timelessness, of unassailable good taste. They were my grandmother's, of course, and of course I wore them at my wedding.

Maybe I wouldn't be quite such a sell-out if I paired them with some classic Doc boots.

08 January 2006

Work schmirk

I've always been a big fan of naps, but I have a newfound love of them now that I have re-entered the working-outside-the-house world. I perfected my napping when I was in grad school, when I would shut the door to my office and curl up in a big comfy chair that the department had very thoughtfully placed there for me. It only takes about twenty minutes to get my batteries recharged, but woe to those around me if I don't get those twenty minutes!

The new job kicks ass, by the way. There's no comfy chair in the office, but I'm working on it.

This is the week that I planned to begin swimming laps before work. I'll let you know how that works out.

I have found, much to my surprise and delight, that getting up early in the morning is not so hard after all! However, I must say that I am aghast at how little time all this "full time work" business leaves for the really important things in life, like knitting and making out. I'm working on that part, too. I mean, weekends are great and all, but sometimes people want to visit, or maybe the cats want to be fed, and when you're this busy making up for lost time with your favorite wrestling partner all weekend long, well, there's just not enough hours in the day, is there?

Honestly, what the HELL do you do when you have a kid?

Don't answer that.

I finished knitting my first pair of socks tonight, and they were such a rousing success that I started right in on a pair for my Dad. Lovely super-soft merino wool socks, because my Dad also kicks ass. I have to find a sneaky way to measure the length of his foot, though, without letting him know I'm making him socks. Maybe I can follow him on a muddy path and measure his footprint?

See? This is JUST the sort of thing that is impossible to find the time for what with all this "working" every day on a set schedule. When oh when am I supposed to secretly measure my father's feet? Did they teach you THAT in your fancy MBA program?

I didn't THINK so.

04 January 2006

No doze

I am not tired, but I am not not tired either. I am capable of sitting here with my hands folded, thinking quiet thoughts, and I don't feel tired. But if even the thought of moving around and making dinner or doing the dishes occcurs to me I am suddenly and entirely exhausted. I consider this progress.

Yesterday I came home and practically did a face plant in my pad thai, then woke up again at midnight and couldn't fall back asleep until 3 am. I was back up again at 7, but if you put the two sleeping episodes together I had more than my eight hours, so I was just superduper today, with the help of quarts and quarts of coffee.

Now I am walking a fine line between succumbing to the urge to go right to bed, knowing I'll be up again in a few hours, and forcing myself to stay awake until a proper bedtime so that I have a chance at someday, somehow establishing a sane sleeping pattern.

My dreams are all filled with strange imagery now, with the sights and sounds of a new workplace. Computers and faxes walk in my sleep now. I used to have the most amazing workmares when I cooked for a living -- I'd get chased by sliced cucumbers and tomatoes around the prep table, or have an unending stream of tenderloins sent back because they were overcooked and had to be thrown out.

Now my dreams are inchoate; I can make no sense of them. My cats think I am marvelous though, I now sink like a stone into sleep and toss and turn not a bit. They could curl up on my face and smother me in my sleep and I would not notice.

I'm hungry. Will someone please feed me? Anyone?

Oh well. Maybe I'll just zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

02 January 2006

Moonage daydream

We just figured out how to use the timer on the coffee maker, so that the coffee beans I ground up this evening will, theoretically, magically transform themselves into life-giving liquid early tomorrow morning. Very. Early. Tomorrow. Morning.

Yeah, remember how I was going to use these last couple of weeks to train myself to get up earlier each day so that getting up tomorrow at 7 am wouldn't make me cry? Well, I kind of blew that off. Oh well, time to live like the rest of the world.

My problem is that I can't stop thinking about myself as part of that very special subset of people who don't have to get up early in the morning. Like freelancers. And hobos. And rock stars. Of those three jobs (freelancer, hobo, rock star) I've actually been one of them (guess which!), so I think I have a special insight into them all. Freelancing is a lot like being a rock star, except for all the fame, power, and riches. Not all rock stars get those.

I actually caught myself earlier today idly thinking, "I bet David Bowie doesn't have to get up at seven o'clock in the morning."

OK, hold on, I said sternly to myself.

First of all, David Bowie is a very successful musician and savvy businessman with, among other ventures, a flourishing trade in futures in himself for god's sake. You can actually buy a share of David Bowie, betting on his sustained and even increased appeal in days to come. And then, I imagine, reap the dividends. So I imagine he does actually get up pretty early in the morning. He's a very productive guy!

Second, and perhaps more germane to the point, since when, exactly, did I expect my life to resemble David Bowie's in any way? I had no idea my brain was going in this direction, no idea what made it think it had just cause to expect Bowie-ness out of life. Really! I haven't been encouraging my feverish brain, leading it on by secretly running around the house in Ziggy Stardust make-up, or by sinking into a heroin-induced haze in Berlin for six months. Honest! I'd have told you if I had!

But I bet David Bowie does like his coffee to be ready just as soon as he gets up in the morning to begin his very busy, very productive day. As do I. In so many ways, I am so very much like David Bowie.

01 January 2006

Normal time standard

The best part about it being New Year's Day, besides being one of a handful of people on the planet not hungover today, is that we can all go back to normal now. Thank god, the holidays are now, finally, behind us.

That whole glut of Special Occasions from October through December is entirely too much. It's just way too overwhelming, and I don't know who ever thought that was a good idea. Everybody's walking around excusing their bad behavior by announcing the usually arbitrarily determined day on the calendar... It's Christmas! Have some! It's New Year's! You should go out!

I don't want to sound like a grump, because I just really like normal time. Everyday life is just fine by me. It helps that I like winter, too, and don't need the frenetic distraction of heavy-handedly-enforced "cheer" to get me in a good mood about it. I think part of it, too, is my unease with Compulsory Activities that Everyone takes part in Simultaneously. Like those Brits with their Bank Holidays. In what possible way could it make sense for an entire country to take their vacation at the same time?

It's nice that everyone will now spend the next few days swearing off the very activities that were mandatory only last month, like eating too much, drinking too much, and spending too much money. Solemn vows will be made, lists will be written, gym memberships paid for. We know we won't stick to these promises, but we make them anyway. It's all part of the cycle of life, and it's OK. I think we're all kind of cute, in our earnest little ways.

I'm all for self-improvement. I feel that I have made great strides this past year, in fact, so much so that I wonder if I shouldn't just give myself this year off and concentrate on all the new stuff last year brought about. I don't talk a lot here about the sweeping changes this calendar year has seen, but the astute reader might notice that there are some things I specifically don't do anymore. This is not by accident, nor should it be held lightly.

I'm going to turn 35 this year, and I'm starting my first real office job with a salary in a couple of days. I have successfully held out against the nine to five world for longer than most people manage to, and my bank balance shows it. I've squandered my life savings -- twice -- in efforts to be my own boss, both of which were marginally fruitful endeavors, especially in the learning experience gleaned thereof. I could write a particularly enlightening book, say, on how not to run a nightclub. Not as well as those guys in Rhode Island, but still.

In exchange for sleeping in until damn near noon many days and rarely changing out of my most comfortable ensemble de fleece, I am now going to get a regular, sizable paycheck and paid vacation time. I am still trying to grok this whole concept of getting paid for days that I don't work, but I am sure that will come with time.

It is going to be such a change, such an entirely different way of life, it feels like I am going to live abroad, in some reasonably familiar, yet utterly alien country -- someplace in Europe, where they speak a nice, friendly romance language, but not one I studied in school. Full Immersion in Office Culture! We will eat nutella and powerfully strong coffee for breakfast! And ride ancient bikes everywhere! Old men will whistle at me in the streets because of my bare shoulders and uncovered hair! I will suddenly take to wearing scarves!

I will suddenly be able to afford scarves!