“Ok, close your eyes, hold still, and try not to breathe too much.”

This was the direction given to me by the twenty-something lady doing my hair and makeup. The process that succeeded that directive was airbrushing.

To me, airbrushing is something you do via Photoshop, after the photos are taken. Apparently makeup artists are getting in on that action, however, and I duly closed my eyes, stayed still, and tried very, very hard to breathe only as much as I needed to keep alive. To reproduce this effect at home, take one of those keyboard air-sprayer things, close your eyes, and spray it in strategic swaths over your face. That’s it.

In addition to micro-droplets of skin-shaded liquid, I also got to participate in fake eyelashes, which is I think the fourth time in my life I have done that. My opinion of fake eyelashes is that they look really great, and really fake. As the purpose of the makeup and hair was to make the pictures look good, and we were only having one round of pictures for this event, I did whatever the makeup lady said.

This event, to be clear, was my wedding day.

Having spent three relaxing, lazy days in Kauai (the Garden Isle, or as may be, the Chicken Isle), we now came to the part where we had to get dressed up (beach wedding == white linen), and in my case, have someone fuss over the femininity. Then we met up with our officiant and our photographer (and his wife), stood on Shipwrecks Beach in Poipu, said some very pleasant things, exchanged leis, exchanged rings, took some more pictures, and were done within an hour.

The boy spent a large part of that hour eyeing the lovely waves and trying to figure out exactly how he could put it to us that his part of the ceremony, and then pictures, was done, and could he go please play in them?

The remaining five days were equally lovely and lazy; the boys boogieboarded (ok, I did too) and we played on the beaches near daily. We did the obligatory shopping, we did the helicopter tour, we ate pineapple until the roofs of our mouths protested. We flew there and back in first class, and it may have ruined us for travel, forever.

So that is that. The deed is done, the pictures are taken: we go about the rest of our lives. And I don’t have to close my eyes, hold still, or try not to breathe too much.

Nick Galante Photography-2196


Managing transition is either awesome or sucks, there doesn’t seem to be a “transitory” mood to it; either everything buttons up all sweetly or everything runs amok at the last-minute. Or so it seems.

My transition between Expedia and Sur La Table is marred by my boss’ work trip, my personal trip, and a whole host of concern over who takes what work management piece over. Not to fear, the formal plan has been (properly) vetted and communicated, now is the task of actually putting those succinct bullet points in place. For the most part they’re actually aligning nicely, so I’ll deem this transition “awesome”.

I’m very much looking forward to my new position, and a bit sad to leave Expedia, although I really do feel it was time. After nearly nine years, 8 offices, 7 countries, 6 bosses, 5 titles, 4 buildings, and 3 groups (not including a brief reorganization into Finance (?!)), it’s time see new things. And so I go from Passion One (Travel) to Passion Two (Cooking).

When I was 15 I got a job at a Dairy Queen. “Don’t worry,” they said, “after a couple of days you won’t like ice cream or fast food anymore. Everyone loses weight.”  That actually was true for me but more because the walk to and from work was a mile each way, which was certainly good for my food-centric self. I am not, nor have I ever been, known to eschew a Blizzard or a cheeseburger. Going to Sur La Table does not mean I will stop cooking, it will mean I will want to procure more cookware and do more things, and that is an exciting prospect.

Aside from the added incentive to create in the kitchen, though, is the incentive that I will be creating product again — specifically technology product. I’ll be running a small development team, as well as doing some dev myself, and I’m extremely excited at the prospect. I’m quite rusty in parts — although the SQL whiteboard was fun my C# skills are woefully outdated — and so the next few days will be that awkward position of cramming for the “new” job whilst handing off the old.

Transition, indeed.

A Hot Shower in My Future

As per usual, the beginning of the year brought on new stuff and things: projects, drives, initiatives, etc. All of this translates to calendars that are triple-booked and a lot of that juggling we all euphemistically refer to as “work-life balance”. I have it… if only just.  Outlook keeps me in line. When you have to put in a calendar event to clean the catbox, you’ve gone too far. We are not there. Yet.

Tomorrow I will be on my first real bike ride in about four months, courtesy of the weather, a new job, and enforced socialization. I had the bike checked out today (new tube, otherwise good to go) in hopes of a 30 mile ride tomorrow, the first Official Outdoor Training Ride of 2012… for the STP.

Yes, I know I signed up for it last year. Yes, I know I didn’t do it last year (thank you knees, you are not at all welcome). Fortunately, I’m back in training early enough and cognizant enough of my limitations, my next injection is well ahead of the actual ride date. My only limitation is time — time to train, time to have things to do OTHER than train (you know – Mom/Work/House/Social). It’s a familiar whine.

Being back in the bike shop brought all the old training home though — yes, there’s the Gu, the Sports Beans, the Cliff Bars. And yes, over there is the rear wheel fender I keep meaning to get, so I don’t have the telltale “brown stripe badge”. Over there is the GoreTex jacket I will absolutely, positively not spend $200 on, even though it is in my size and has an appealing lack of pink.

Years ago I was a diver — I still technically am, there’s no expiration date on your certification although I am personally in favor of the idea of recertification. I’ve seen enough people in the water who were first certified fifteen years ago, just got back in recently, and I know that they are a hazard to themselves and others. At any rate– when I was diving, the second best part to it — other than seeing the really cool stuff Puget Sound has to offer underwater — was the hot shower afterwards. After two dives, even in a drysuit, you are cold, you feel dirty, and your muscles hurt — not from the dive, but from wearing 70 pounds of gear down to and up from the water. Diving is not an elegant sport, but it is rewarding. I quit cold water diving due to arthritis and a blase feeling of having seen it all (and I know I’m wrong, so see “arthritis” as chief reason) but I will keep up with warm water diving for the joy of it.

So the secondary joy there was the hot shower, the washing of everything, the loose, cottony feel of your muscles when you were done. I am very much looking forward to that, post-ride, tomorrow. I am MORE looking forward to a time when 30 miles is again “a piddlin’ distance”.

I’ve done 160. Come July, I’ll have done 200.

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.

Tail End of a Wagon

Remember that part in Indiana Jones, where he’s being dragged behind the truck, through gravelly road, hanging on by his whip?

Harrison Ford actually did that stunt, although he was given extra clothing and they pre-dug a ditch for him to “ride” in. Somehow gravel down the front of your shirt at however many miles per hour doesn’t sound like a good idea, though.

I feel like that lately. Halloween came and went way too quickly, and I am inundated with Christmas decorations throughout Target and any other retail outlet (except, comfortingly, Trader Joes). Folks, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

At work, the machine is inexorably charging to the end of the year, an amalgamation of metrics, goals, initiatives, and projects, culminating in an end-of-year event in Las Vegas in which I must present (both personally and professionally). At school, the first progress reports have come out but the schooling gets harder, the volume of new things increases and the personal responsibility the boy must have increases — making the winter break a fantastical respite not only for the holidays (for he celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas) but for the break from seven hours of daily seating and applying oneself. At home, we are contending with the recent passing of a beloved grand (and great grand)mother as well as the imminent passing of the family pooch; it’s very unlikely she’ll make it to her 10th birthday (Christmas Eve).

Let’s not even get into my sporadic ability to get to the gym — four times last week, but it’s becoming a real project to get it in this week.

I’m attempting to slow down the truck — or at least add speed bumps — by putting new and interesting things here and there. For example, Thursday evening I am going to the Pacific Northwest Ballet to see the All Tharp programme. I have no idea if I’ll like it, the idea hit while listening to Twyla Tharp being interviewed on KUOW’s Weekday with Marcie Sillman.  I have a front-row, far right of stage seat. I will be able to see the dancers up close and personally, but at a hyper angle.

I’ve gone through my annual list of things I planned to do and learn this year — I still do not know how to drive a stick shift, I still do not know how to ski or snowboard (I think I’ll change that to snowshoeing or cross-country ski).  I’m not sure if adding these things is going to slow the wagon down enough for me to get on, or speed it up so I fall off.

Either way, I will still be contending with accelerated gravel a bit longer.

Full Contact Pilates

There’s a class here at my fancy gym called “Group Cyntergy”. The idea is to combine Pilates and Yoga, and put it to music, and do it with a bunch of other people. Harmless suburban exercise, right?

My Cyntergy class is run by a lovely lady named Michelle, who is twenty years my senior (guestimating from the skin around her eyes) but looks about ten years older (guestimating from the rest of her physique). Random facts she’s shared in class lead me to believe my former guestimate is correct. She could kick anyone’s ass.

In class she does.

There are all of these moves — it’s like a game of deranged twister. I mean, take your left foot, and put it in front of you. Crouch down in a lunge, with your right foot far back. Take your left hand, extend it down and to the right as far as you can. Take your right hand, extend it ceilingward as far as you can. Got that? Now hold it. Hold it while your muscles begin to shake, and then reverse the pose, exchanging your lefts with your rights. Repeat. Ok now do it faster.

Then listen to some Red Hot Chilli Peppers while you are laying on your back, with your legs in the air, in a slow scissor motion, and doing something not quite unlike an awful crunch.

Keep doing things like this, while your muscles twitch and burn and hurt, for an hour.

Then you go home, and your collarbone hurts like mad.

Now, I KNOW I haven’t broken my collarbone, because there has been no impact, and no one rammed into me with a small Rugby team when I was in the QFC afterward. Ergo, it’s not actually the bone.

It *isn’t* actually the bone.

Apparently if you’re a woman, you’re used to having these semi-pendulous things hanging from your chest, they cause your head and neck to angle forward if you’re not paying attention. Then, add the Personal Pain Olympics that is Group Cyntergy — further pulling forward (again you’re not paying attention though you should be). Viola, strained musculature around the collarbone.

I will go back, but I think it’s time to find other other classes.


Ah, Billy. We hardly knew ye’.

Last night I had the dubious pleasure of seeing Mr. Corrigan musically masturbate at the SODO Showbox. Before that, let’s talk food.

Il Terazzo Carmine in Pioneer Square is tucked away behind first (you won’t find it if you’re looking for it on first, okay?) and, walking in, you have the feeling of someone being admitted into a very rarified world. A world of old looking dishes, tucked-away tables, and hand-penciled reservations. The waitstaff is there in a very ubiquitous and yet unobtrusive manner, and the menu is full of “oh but I LOVE that” items. You will have finally (after agonizing minutes) decide on what you want… until the waiter/tress comes with the specials of the day. Que indecision.

Everything was wonderful. Everything. The wine, the food, the dessert! But the height of awesomeness was not only delivered by the food and ambience, but the people watching.

Watching people is a very very fun past time of mine. In this case, several people arrived at several tables with several potential backstories. There were the aged trophy wives (doing quite well, thank you), and the buzzing socialites. It should not surprise me in the least to learn that million dollar business deals, or marriages, were contrived there. I, in my simple Gap Jeans and shirt, did not feel out of place. Nor would I in say, a DKNY suit or a BCBG dress. Food and ambience — both five star.

Hooterville was the next destination: aside from a stellar vodka tonic (which you could have lit on fire) and the ability to use leftover glassware to build some engineering feats (which made some people around me nervous, but hey if you can’t stand it move on bub) no comment. Peoplewatching: yes. Good booze: yes.

We got to the Showbox perfectly in time to watch Billy (aka “the Smashing Pumpkins”, with him as the only Pumpkin) on the stage. I will give him this: he didn’t have a hissy fit (or not much) and did finish an entire set. His bassist is crazy cute and talented, the drummer wasn’t half bad either. But after a relatively strong start, and after some declarations that he was in fact my own personal Jesus Christ, I got a little tired. After he kept stressing which music was “new” vs “not new” (something most of us could figure out, thanks, Bill) I got a little more tired. Entertaining vignettes included a dig at Courtney Love (a small riff of a Hole song and a statement about “classics” — it was cold, yo!) , the Asian Snooki-wannabe who needed physical help standing, the two guidos outside the club who were hitting on my friend (appropriately, as Ms.Krieant is hot) and failing horribly (appropriately, because their combined IQ was less than a bag of Chee-tos), and the towncar ride home with a very understanding driver (as in, OMG thank you for rescuing us from said Guidos who all but wanted our social security numbers).

Note to Guidos: when you tell me not to “judge” and I ask why using “judgement” is a bad thing, be prepared for an anthropological discussion on “judgement” vs. “rationalization” vs. “instinct”. Or prepare to shut up. We just exited a Smashing Pumpkins show, don’t bait me intellectually unless you are armed.

Swim, Bike, Walk

Thanks to the new fancy gym (yes, they made it better, and I will be blathering at length about how wonderful the gym is… later) I am back to swimming, and back to ENJOYING it, which is more important. I swam my half mile yesterday in 22 minutes, not bad for someone who quit swimming for 8 months.

I am not, however, back to running.

I got new shoes. They fit very nicely. But after about a mile and a half of running — hell, let’s be honest, “jogging” (my pace is nowhere near where it used to be, and I think I can speedwalk at the same rate) — my knee hurts, my shin hurts, and I hurt. The change in my gait is noticeable on a treadmill or on pavement, it literally *sounds different* when my right foot hits the ground than my left.  I’ve given it 3 good runs, between 1 and 3 miles each, and they end with me either limping, or walking a significant portion, or both.

At some point when running the half last year, I did something to that knee and I think in my bike training I cemented whatever it was. My kneecap, which I used to get taped for running, is very much different on my left than on my right. Looking down, my right kneecap is pretty flat, a normal kneecap. My left one is at about a 25 degree angle. It doesn’t bother me to walk, or swim, or bike (within the first 60 miles), but running? Running is a whole new branch of hell. Frankly, I do not wish to go back to physical therapy. I think the sports med doctor hit it on the nail when he gave me the choice: you can do phys therapy and finish out this run, and then you have to decide what you are going to do. You either keep up with physical therapy and keep running, or you don’t, but there will be no half measures.

I just didn’t realize he really meant “no half measures” included such previously thought small jaunts as a 3-mile run. I can remember a time where a 3-mile run was the “short run” for the week — and I can remember enjoying it. I figured he was talking about half-marathons.

Even the wonderful Music of Kevin that I got a year plus back is not helping overcome it. Instead of the beauteous endorphin rush I used to get two miles in, I get more and more pissed off, more and more angry, and more and more pain as I run. I am not, in short, having fun.

I Have Decided: no more running.

I’ll do tri’s, I absolutely will: but I will not do runs. I will speedwalk or jog and then walk (Because, having resolved to walk, I will see others run and feel all peppy in the moment). I will attempt to make up the time in the bike and swim parts, which I will enjoy. And I will take advantage of my new fancy gym, with its bevy of classes (including pilates and kickboxing).

I am not running anymore. There, I’ve said it twice, in a public forum. This time it’s real…

PS: Mindimus, I will still do the Rock and Roll Half with you… speedwalking 🙂