I Just Run Here

I went for a run this morning which, due to a missing mile marker, ended up with me running an extra mile (this is a good thing, as I was singing and having fun). The lake is gorgeous on a crisp morning like today, and the trail is full of joggers, runners (there’s a difference), walkers, dog-runners, dog-walkers, cyclists, etc.

For the Cyclist: I know what it’s like. Yes, I do. Not just in general — I’ve done some biking in my time — but specifically on the Lake Sammamish Trail, because I went biking on it with my friend Kevin when we decided that biking on the East Lake Sammamish road was a bit like playing frogger with two wheels. I know riding on gravel requires a little more concentration (just a little). This does not, however, excuse you from omitting “On Your Left”, “Left”, or a simple bell warning. I *am* rocking out to the Foo Fighters, but not so loudly that I couldn’t hear you if you said or did these things, so when you whipped up past me you scared the [deleted expletive] out of me.

[Editor’s note: rant aside, this particular cyclist pulled over to take a pic of the lake — which is gorgeous, by the way — and when he did, and I ran past, I said, “On Your Left”.  When he eventually got back on his bike and passed me again, he did say “Left”. And so that lesson went well, I think.]

Lining the trail, sometimes on one side only, sometimes on both sides, are very large houses. Living on the lake is as much a status symbol as living in Medina or Clyde Hill or Mercer Island; the real estate prices reflect this status symbol (I do not live on the lake). And, as with any area you are likely to have a lot of people wanting in on the exclusivity, the houses are jammed together. You will actually see a 4- or 5-thousand square foot mansion with a four car garage about five feet from the neighboring mansion. To preserve individuality, however, these fine folks all differ wildly in their home construction and style. You thusly see the Craftsman, the Spanish-style, the Modern, and the Traditional all a-jumbled… and then maybe someone’s plot of land where they’re in fresh construction, and no discernible style is evident yet.

The original trail was actually a railroad, and when the railroad was decommissioned it became a trail, much to the angst of a lot of the homeowners. They didn’t WANT a bunch of strangers trolling through their front or back yards, so many put up fences. In many cases, they had to put up two: because of the lay of the land, you often see large mansion on the lake side, and then the garage for said mansion on the street side (across the trail), and fences “protecting” each. Ergo, you’ve just arrived home with a large grocery haul, you must park your car, open a fence, close it, cross the trail, open that fence, close it, all to get to your mansion.

And if a runner stops and asks you if you want help with said groceries, apparently the proper mode is to look at them in askance, reply with a puzzled “no”, and continue trudging along to your mansion. Clearly, the runner is part of the problem.

For any runners coming up my hill when I’m navigating from car to kitchen with loads of groceries — if you volunteer to help, I’ll totally take you up on it. Even though I don’t have a mansion.

Auspicious

For an athiest (or really really militant agnostic), it’s hard not to be pleased with the universe when things go your way. Today was one of those days, and I took ridiculous delight in simple things: parking spot dead center in front of the grocery store, everything I bought managed to be on sale, someone came to retreive my cart just as I unloaded the last bag into the car, I had exactly the $7.10 cash in my purse that I needed to grab lunch. (I had to deal with some things today that meant I didn’t sleep much and couldn’t eat, so naturally once they were put to rest I was starving).

Naturally, I’m hoping the good luck will extend to just one more thing.

During the course of the day I was given 3 raffle tickets to win an iPod2. I think that would be pushing my luck, though 🙂

Home Improvement

Editor’s note: I’m right now dealing with a bunch of poo on the non-work, non-house, non-man front, but I can’t/won’t really talk about it and it’s now in the hands of competent professionals and I’m sure it will all get sorted out. Like a pre-or-post trip cleaning frenzy, I’m focusing my post on something completely unrelated.

Choice. Choice will be the end of us.

When the Male Person and I first started cohabitating — 3.3 years after we started dating (there is a certain mathematical harmony in a lot of our relationship dates) — Everyone Was Wondering: what would be the first sign of conflict? The toothpaste tube? My habit of putting things away willy-nilly vs. his habit of specifically ordered piles? We had long since successfully negotiated the proper positioning of the toilet paper roll, but would it be household chores or division of labor to start the angst?

No angst. Not a bit. We see each other a bit more, and he eats better and I don’t have to take the waste bins out.  The expected shortcomings of cohabitation — bulimic cat aside — aren’t.

That said, in light of our economic and real estate forecasts for the areas — do please believe me when I say there are hours of research and many convoluted spreadsheet calculations supporting these — we are staying in my 1800 square foot,  1970’s rambler. Instead of putting a huge amount of money towards a down payment on a larger and somewhat fancier house, we’ll be putting a slightly smaller amount on this house making it that much more comfortable. And therein lies the choice.

Specifically, choices like: Fully tiled shower or get a one-piece shower pan? Do we tile 2″ or 4″ or 6″ up around the vanity? How much is okay to spend on a dual-flush toilet in the aforementioned 1970’s rambler? How much black speckling is okay in what should be a mostly red glass shade for the mini pendant lamps over the bar? Is this particular semi-flush-mount ceiling lamp Harry Potter enough for the boy? How silent should a bathroom fan be? Cherry floors or dark walnut or ubiquitous beechy/piney wood floors? Boulders or cottage stone for the terraced area out front?

As you can see, these are *really nice* problems to have. They aren’t really PROBLEMS. But they do cause endless evaluation, decision, question, re-evaluation, and re-deciding as we go through the cost-benefit analysis against a five or ten-year plan.

Micorosoft did not have us in mind when they created Excel.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

If you think of “warp” not as in Rocky Horror Picture Show, but as in “Star Trek”, it’s the ability to warp space to get from A to B faster. Extrapolated, you can create temporal shifts with enough warp, and then Harrison Ford’s comment “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” are more accurate than anything he said as Han Solo. I find it funny that there’s more science in Indiana Jones than there is in Star Wars. Ergo, Star Wars = Fantasy, but Star Trek = Science Fiction. And we can put that to bed.

Now that this pop culture mashup has been burned indelibly to your brain, much like a Katy Perry song, for which I should but won’t apologize, I can get to the actual point:

I am suffering from both old age and recidivist youth.

Two weeks ago I had my high school reunion. It was interesting to see how everyone had changed (or not) since high school: the age ranges looked far beyond the purported year we all shared. Some people gained weight, some did not. Some got bald, some did not. The universal take seemed to be, “It’s great to see you all, regardless of how much we liked or disliked high school, or each other for that matter”. I will note that I wasn’t all that enamored of high school, and it was less enamored of me; I just assumed that had to do with my ranking on the social totem pole (somewhere near the bottom). After a few conversations with those I had perceived were at the top, I arrived at the conclusion that no one was really enamored of the ego bruising experience that high school dishes out. At one point or another you’re on the receiving end of it, and we all agreed it sucked.

Studies have shown (is there a more self-important phrase in the English Language?) that people who share a traumatic event are linked at that level for life, like those who survive a car accident or war. I’m not akining high school to war, although there were times it felt like it.

Fast forward twenty years when parts of me seem to be doing very well (I’ve been reassured I have very good skin) and most of me is not doing well. Trips back to the Sport MD for a busted knee have me on anti inflammatory drops (40 each knee, 4x day, 2 weeks), a nitrogen patch (take it off if you feel like you’re having a heart attack, the paperwork says), and more workouts. I have arthritis. A trip to my regular doc tells me it’s time to actually watch my cholesterol, and no that doesn’t mean watch it go up. A trip to my dentist tells me it’s time for braces.

Braces. At 37.

Granted, they are “bottom only” braces, and it’s completely elective, but when I am told it’s my teeth that will age my appearance faster than my skin or hair (which is dyed), off to the orthodontist I go. And so, at 37, I will have little metal boxes on my lower set of teeth, and it will feel like the one damning high school experience I never had.

Please, please do not bring the acne back.

Travelling, Light

[editor’s note: this was actually written nearly 6 days ago. I’ve been in France, and will wait until tomorrow — on my FOREVER flight schedule — to update on the sheer awesomeness that is France. No seriously: France is awesome. So awesome that I can’t be bothered to blog, tweet, check-in, etc. ]

This is actually a two-fer, because I find myself on a British Airways flight with no Wifi (this is acceptable. On a transatlantic flight I can appreciate the engineering feat that wireless internet would represent. On a 2-hour flight to San Francisco, there’s no excuse.)

I recently had the pleasure of going to Dallas. That’s right. I said “pleasure”, and I totally mean it. I went to Dallas in late June/early July, for work, and you’d think that this would be a Fate Worse Than Death, or at least a Fate Worse Than A Really Good Beating, but no, I actually enjoyed it.

I’ll wait until you retrieve your jaw from the floor.

Dallas was roughly 100 degrees and humid each day, but it was warm… and sunny… and the people were IMPOSSIBLY friendly. Example: the hotel I stayed at — to be reviewed — had complementary passes to Gold’s Gym. At Gold’s Gym I ran across a lady who was probably 3 years my senior and 30 pounds lighter, with flame-red hair down to her knees. It was gathered up in a braid but still, it was gorgeous. I couldn’t help but comment — I’m like that — and instead of the typical “Seattle Freeze” (e.g., “hey thanks!”, and then promptly go away) she chatted me up. Wanted to know where I was from, did I usually come in the morning because she didn’t remember seeing me. Dallas was like that all over — exceptionally friendly, down to the Subway guy who gave me the 2nd chocolate chip cookie because really, that’s how the meal is supposed to be. Or something.

This is not like when the Lesbian Lawyer from New York chatted me up. I was flattered, she had great shoes. That was a fun dinner.

At any rate, I stayed at the Hotel ZaZa.

If you are going to Dallas– and really, I don’t care why you are going — stay at the Hotel ZaZa. Oh! Where to begin.

Accommodations:

The room was only slightly smaller than half of my house. The bathroom had a separate tub and shower, and the tub would fit two strangers or three very well acquainted people. The toiletries were “racing fuel” — separate shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bath gel — in those cool wide-open mouth containers that some of us (Hi!) use (re-use) for gym toiletries. The bed was exceedingly comfortable, it’s a shame I only slept five hours a night. I never tried the TV or the room service (hey, that’s a first!) but the restaurant attached (Dragonfly) had wonderful food and a great wine list (Malbec, represent!). The hallways are littered with funky Vogue and W magazine photo ops, all framed and they help you find your way by day two. The butler’s pantry (on the way to the elevators) is stocked with all manner of breakfast beverage to kick start your day, complete with to-go cups. The hotel staff is incredibly friendly and accommodating — I parked in the wrong place and couldn’t figure out the internet at 2am — and they were there to help.

Am I going back to Dallas? Oh, I hope so. And when I do, I’m staying at ZaZa, even if I have to pay for it myself!

Fast forward one hectic, crazy week. I spent 4th of July at my mom’s… where I ate everything, naturally … and then home to 4 days of back-to-back meetings (excellent, productive meetings — normally I eschew them but these were actually *productive*), and then 1.5 days of errands, laundry, and family fun before here I am on a British Airways flight.

My first British Airways flight.

So far they’re a decent 2nd to Air France (sorry, mate). Granted, I’m only 36 minutes in, but damn! The service is good, the flight attendants are incredibly patient, and I am overstocked with 2 blankets, 2 headsets, and 1 pillow. I’m in a 3-stack to the starboard side with no one in the middle, which is excellent. My seatmate and I established rules of engagement — she’s an American lit student from England (wait, what??) wearing a UW Rosebowl 1993 sweatshirt. I asked her, “Oh, were you there?” and she said, “No, I was at UW, but I had to buy something, I was at the student store… did you go to UW?” to which I had to say “Yes… and I was there…”. Sigh, I have aged myself.

At any rate, I’m watching “Paul” with Simon Pegg, drinking red wine from a screw-cap bottle (tempranillo garnacha, so it’s good, actually!), and enjoying a very comfortable seat. The flight seems consisted of 75% expats going home (like my seatmate) and I’m relishing the variety of accents.

Before I got on the flight, I spent a harried 20 minutes downloading data and emails from my local machine — so alas now, I must actually use said data. I leave off, going back to watching “Paul”, and playing with numbers.

Some work perks defy easy naming, but are beyond words in other ways.

Real Estate Epitaph

Ok, ok, we all know my house went on the market. Five weeks later it went off, not through any incompetence of my realtors — I got an offer, tho it was not attractive it was an offer — but through a dearth of attractive real estate.

Please, please, if you have a deity or light candles, please pray and/or light because I am getting hounded. Daily.

Roughly twelve times each morning I receive a call to my only real number — my cell phone — from some aspiring realtor who is just all ready to “help me out” because “my old team couldn’t”. It borderlines on harassment, and on Wednesday morning I changed my voicemail greeting to say, “Hi. If  you’re calling about the house at 1108 216th Avenue NE, it’s not for sale, no we don’t want to sell it; we intend to live in it for quite some time. We don’t want any realtor help. So quit calling”.  That seems to have done the trick as I don’t often get repeat calls.

Today, I finally lost it. It was 10:15, and the seventh call of the day came in. I paused the gal in the midst of her sell speech and said, “I am not interested in a realtor. But could you help me? Is there any way I can stop this? Because I’m getting harassed, multiple calls per day, and I need it to stop. I am seriously considering legal action.”

Bless her, she let me know in a very composed fashion that my previous realtors should have made notes in the MLS before closing it out, and that even they can’t change it now, and that I can call the Northwest MLS to have them change it, BUT anyone who’s downloaded my information before today will not have those notes. So in short, deal with it.

In other news today, my brand new boss (today was day 5) confirmed that the word that comes up most often when discussing the Bobbie is… “frank”. Fortunately he’s French, as is my skip level. To realize why this is fortunate, look up the word history of “France” — comes from the same latin root word for “frank”. So if I am not of France, perhaps I’m just french enough in essence. Mas oui.

When next I blog, it will be about less trivial things. I hope.

I’m on a Plane… I can complain…

(written on Cinco de Mayo at 35k feet):

I have a massive issue with airlines that don’t offer wifi on all of their flights. I’m sitting here, United, on a 3 hour direct flight and couldn’t help but notice that my personal productivity has gone down the drain.

Part of the problem is I am one of these people whose brain is always on. Always. I have trouble going to bed at night sometimes because it’s on, and if I get up in the middle of the night then it’s 2:1 I won’t be able to sleep for an hour or two because the brain is on. I’m not even remotely suggesting what is running through it at any given time is useful: oftentimes it ranges from work-related (useful!) kid-related (useful!) or PTA related (useful!) to an in-depth analysis of when I last got a pedicure and if I really should go and get one in the next few days (so! not! useful!).

For me, getting to the airport early means I can leverage free-wifi and the ubiquitous Starbucks. Today’s blog post is courtesy of a work-provided venti iced caramel latte. It’s technically decaf but I think that isn’t doing much to stem the tide of angst. While I got lots done in my hour-after-security-before-last-minute-boarding, I am stuck on this plane with no access to anything useful. Cloud computing, the idea that you can access *your stuff* from anywhere, because it’s not tied to a given machine, has one fatal flaw: you need to have internets to get to it. And I have none.

Instead I have sat and watched the movie Red again (pretty good, actually funnier the second time around), paid $9 for in-flight Tapas (also surprisingly good), and seethed at all of the things I could be doing right now. Mostly work.

People often ask me what I do. My official title is: Director of Business Development & Initiatives, Americas. I can write that here because it’s on my Linked In. But that title doesn’t really tell you what I do, and really? I can’t tell you what I do. Not in a, “I’d have to kill you”/CIA sort of way; it’s more like a “I don’t want to get fired” kind of way. Easily twenty-five percent of the projects I work on either do not come to fruition (we go down the path and discover it’s an untenable or impractical one) or would have no external significance whatsoever. The other seventy-five are either corporate-specific (the travel industry is different from, say, the financial services industry) and would require you to be in the industry to get what I was driving at (or have a 2-hour primer on the topic), OR are very very shiny and I can’t talk about them. I really do mean that.

From a professional standpoint, there is a measure of tooting one’s own horn that is of value, both internally and externally to your company. Internally it’s valuable to work your way up and over (or over and up as it is sometimes done); externally it’s valuable to show a prospective new employer what you are capable of. I cannot, however, post about most of what I do.

Right now for example, I’m on a flight. I’m going to a place where I will need to discuss a business and operational plan, as well as the associated human and project management associated with that. Sounds very nebulous. Next week I have a meeting about a method of incentivizing people to do something extraneous to their job description without harming the parts of their job that are IN their description. And then there’s the process tree chasing — it’s official that X leads to Y, but unofficially we all know it routes to Z who then checks with A (or B) and if it meets condition C then it will never ever go to Y.

See? It doesn’t help the discussion along at all. Knowing that I can’t further any of it, though, because I’m on a plane, is sad.

Unlikely Happenings

Last week I was in Chicago and Phoenix (aside from weather extremes, both were lovely) and this week my world is upside down.

It is April 6, and it is snowing in Sammamish. Big, fat flakes are falling from the sky, and they’re STICKING. I have no doubt they’ll be rained away or melted away by morning, but it shows a fundamental lack of temporal observance on the part of the Sammamish sky.

I am waiting for a cat to come out.

My boyfriend’s cat.

We are cohabiting. Officially. He has no other house to go hide in, or for me to ask him to go to.

Now, this wasn’t a surprise (to me). I knew, leaving for Chicago, that when I got home 9 days later that I would have acquired some new furniture pieces, a third grocery consumer, and a catbox. Nothing here was unplanned, nothing without a spreadsheet rationale. I will say that he (and the cat) tolerated my post-trip typical cleaning frenzy quite well.

As much as we’ve all settled into a groove– there’s been a slow progression/dress rehearsal for this many times in the last year — the only one to whom this circumstance is completely new is the cat. The cat doesn’t like people much. Correction: the cat doesn’t like people. She likes *him*, but that’s about it. So here she is, ensconced in a rambler (no stairs to deal with) but with far more windows and wider ledges than she’s been privy to previously. She is not sure about the Boy Child.

Tonight is our first official night alone together. The Man is off Doing Things, and will not be back tonight. I know, here we are more than three years into acquaintance and yet I find myself wondering what she will do: will she hide under the bed all night? Will she come out now that the Boy Child is asleep? Will I find her asleep on his bed? Will we suddenly become fast friends, with me officially adopting her as my cat? An unending string of improbabilities floats before us…

Then again, it’s snowing in Sammamish on April 6. Stranger things have happened.

Say It Ain’t So, Joe

It has been just over 72 hours since my last PT appointment, and I’m over the psychological moment and can now type about it.

Well, no. It isn’t that bad. I’m headed into my fourth appointment tomorrow, and I am getting the hang of what I have to do: check in, do my “warm up” exercises (which are something of a cross between pilates, ballroom dancing, and the modified shopping cart), “massage” my IT bands (twang!), and then have someone mess with them and then some iontophoresis  (that electrode thingy). Easy-peasy, yes?

Look, all of that is just ducky– the pilates-cum-ballroom dancing is fun –but that IT band messing that someone else does? That is sheer hell.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please meet Joe. Joe was the purveyor of hell on Monday.

Joe is likely my age, because he totally caught my Top Gun reference (he called me Maverick, I told him “negative Ghostrider the pattern is full”). Joe looks like that tennis pro at the club that will totally teach you tennis and take it easy on you and you totally know he’s taking it easy on you.

Joe has sharp elbows. I know this, because part of physical therapy for twangy IT bands? Is to rub them out. With an elbow. Laterally.

This feels something akin to someone giving you a very deep bruise, very slowly, along the outside of your thighbone. After about 2-3 minutes on each side, you are very certain of two things: 1, you don’t ever want to do that again, and 2, that you will be black and blue in seconds.

Joe knows how to not leave marks, which is why we are hoping Joe never breaks out a bar of soap and a sock.

The other negative side of PT (as of late) is because I’m allergic to the leukotape, I have to wait until my skin heals to work out in any way that challenges my knees. So, no Cyntergy, no pilates, no spin class, no running. I am left, essentially, with swimming. Swimming is good — aside from the semi-permanent eau de chlorine that lingers after a session — but it’s gear (and time) intensive. I mean, to get a good 500 calories burned, you go to one (1) 45 minute spin class and you’re done.  You can run some errands in your gym gear, and then shower at home. To get a good 500 calories burned swimming, you need to swim for about an hour, and you must shower before getting into the pool, and then you need to uber-shower when getting out of the pool. Unless you want to soak your car in that same eau de chlorine (there was a time that I did that, to my old ’81 Volvo), you shower at the gym, which necessitates waiting on others who shower at the gym, including small children.  Total time at gym, 2 hours.

All of this, and the Run/Walk/Limp is now officially 8 weeks away, and the STP is about 15. Nervous, me?

No. 🙂

Hoopty

I feel like every doctor’s appointment comes with additional hoops.

I went to my prescribed bike fitting, to discover that the first hour was just about the seat- it’s height and it’s tilt and it’s forward/backness, and how it will likely need to be replaced. I need to book a 2nd hour for the handlebars, and I likely need a new stem. The first hour also included 1.5 degree inserts for my shoes (I swear, I am not making this up) to help align my knees (dude, she brought out “lasers”). I spent an hour on a bike in a trainer getting on, getting off, having her tweak it, or having her tweak my shoes, and getting back on, repeat…

Also, I am allergic to something that is in the leukotape I use to tape my kneecaps. My left knee in particular is red and swollen, and I need to now douse it with Milk of Magnesia before I tape to avoid this sort of break out. Fun!

The Physical Therapist (aka, Personal Torturer or Pain and Torturer) is a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Let me state  that these folks are preternaturally cheerful, and I was initially handled (no, not physically but more atmospherically) by a Kinesiology student we’ll call Puppy. Puppy had me do all kinds of silly walks with a rubber band — most of which are designed to strengthen your muscles (hellO, weak ass!) — and then I had to spend 2 minutes on each side of my legs “massaging” out my IT band. Lest this sound fun, I want you to imagine this: Take a hard foam roller — I mean, really hard. As in, it does not give. Then put your ample body weight on it, in a painful spot. Then roll it slowly back and forth across the painful spot, until you are absolutely sure that your legs are the blossoming purple that is the University of Washington’s color.

Then have a PT take her elbow, and press, hard, against it, for another minute or two. Have her do this to the extent that you remember your Lamaze breathing, and you are gnashing your teeth and trying NOT to scream. Because, as we all know, this kinda freaks other people out.  Then have her point out you need to do the rolly-thingy at home (please go purchase the $22 roller first) every day. Don’t worry, after 2 weeks the pain goes away.

Then have them hook up your most painful bits (aka, your left knee) to an electrode. Again.

Only to discover that the more stressful parts of work actually MAKE YOU FORGET YOU HAVE ELECTRODES ATTACHED TO YOUR PAINFUL BITS.

Let me further clarify: Reading Work Email Kept My Mind Off Of Therapeutic Electrocution.

This next week is follow-up with the doctor, another bike fitting, two more PT sessions, and a final sojourn to the Foot Zone.  If I can just get through all of these hoops… I can do more next week :p