Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Feeling good.

I feel good tonight. Life feels pretty wonderful.

To start with I took my first ever spin class and after a brief panic when I walked into the room and realized I had no idea how to adjust the seat or pedals (the very sweet instructor helped me), I really liked it. Don't get me wrong, it absolutely kicked my ass. But that's exactly what I wanted. Due to a hip flexor injury, I can't run for four long weeks. I knew the second I signed up for the 10k all matter of injuries would pile up. But I'm going to physical therapy so hopefully it can get all spiffy and fixed soon. But the worst thing about not being able to run is that I've gotten to the point where I feel like nothing really cuts it cardio wise next to running. I'll feel pretty good after using the ellipticals and other cross trainy thingies, but I never feel as mind, body and soul worked out as after a really good run. But spin class came pretty darn close. Plus we climbed a metaphorical mountain as the snow came down outside the window. So that was neat :)

Injuries aside, I feel strong and healthy. I work out five times a week. I eat as well as I can. And because of those two things I can splurge on Mexican or a big ol' bowl of chili and not obsess about it for days. My relationship with food has always been a little topsy turvy. And it's nice to just not have it be that big of a deal. That's why working out will forever more be a part of my life. It's completely changed the way I feel about eating. It doesn't give me license to eat whatever I want whenever I want (as awesome as that would be sometimes), but it makes me able to eat what I want, splurge when I want, and just leave it at that. Food has gotten smaller in my life (not as in I eat less, my Lord nothing whips up an appetite like a spin class), but just in the way that it doesn't loom as large. And I will never go carb free again.

And last but not least, I think I feel really good, because I'm realizing more and more that I didn't fail six months ago when I decided to stop applying for full time writing jobs and applied for nursing school. I always knew it was the right choice. But it was hard not to shake off the feeling that I was giving up, turning my back on my passion. And yes, I'm not a full time writer. I don't have a fancy office job or business cards. I'm in school and I'm going to be a nurse. But wonder of wonders, the second I stopped trying so hard to become a professional writer, I became a professional writer. My freelance work has just been the most wonderful and unexpected surprise. I'm writing and people are seeing it. It may not be what I do for a living, it may not be the major leagues, but in a way that's freaking fantastic. The pressure is off and so now it's just about doing what I love for no other reasons than that I love it. And I've been able to write about so many awesome things. I've written about cupcakes and trashy reality television and books. I've become a theater reviewer, something I never thought would happen but which I LOVE. I get to see these awesome plays and I've learned about a part of Richmond I didn't really know existed, this rich, vibrant theater world with all these wonderful, talented, hard working people. I got to interview Bill Persky, this television giant and hear him tell personal stories about everything from Andy Cohen to Fred Astaire. And I got to meet him in person and shake his hand.

I love this. I love what I do, and it doesn't matter one fraction that it's not the only thing I do. Who says I can't create my own title: nurse/writer. Life is so complex and we try to make it simply and box ourselves into these specific roles. But I think the only way you can be happy and not kill yourself is to let go of that, to let life happen and see where it takes us, and know that if something is important, if we really love it, it's never going to go away.

Sorry if this is a little corny tonight. I guess I just am really happy to be happy. A year ago I was in a really bad place. I'm not there anymore. And I'm grateful for that.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I am a huge nerd. Which is why I feel comfortable admitting that I really missed learning, like not just learning what Kate Hudson's baby daddy is named, but real, educational setting learning. I've been out of school for almost two and a half years, and now I am leaping back into the void of college to get my second bachelor's, this time in SCIENCE. Every few hours I realize this and just start laughing maniacally. Because really who would have thought?

Sure I'm mostly just taking community college gen-ed classes before I get into the real nursing stuff, and yes there are a number of occasions where I read my fellow classmates message board posts and weep for the future of America (Sorry not only am I nerd, I'm also kind of snob, but really can't these people write one sentence, ONE SENTENCE, where they punctuate and capitalize and spell any word, any tiny, little word even close to correctly? For Lord's sake they're being graded. I can't even imagine what their email, text and facebook posts look like. And realizing that those things probably comprise the bulk of their writing I again want to weep for the future of America). But I digress. In spite of that, in spite of the mind numbing levels of impenetrability in college bureaucracy I've encountered (I basically had to promise away my first born child to J. Sarge to get in state tuition), in spite of dealing with book prices, lines for student IDs, navigating Blackboard for the first time in my life (I realize now I basically went to College of Charleston in the stone age, we might as well have been carving our essays into large rocks). In spite of ALL of this, I really like learning again. It's kind of neat.

And since the second best thing about learning (after personal enrichment of course) is to show off obnoxiously all that you've learned, here are the greatest things I learned this week:

1) On nutrition labels, they list the ingredients in descending order of weight in the product. This might be obvious to everyone in American but me, but WOW. That is a revelation. My grocery store strips are going to be completely upended now. Before I was all about calories and saturated fat. But now I'm going to look at those ingredients and if sugar or hypothemasitane (I made that up), comes first, then that product will not find its way into my cart.

2) Babies are born with like 2 billion neurons and synapses, which is way more than an adult needs. And so the way biology and development deals with that is by "pruning" the synapses. So basically to really oversimplify, the nerve cells that the baby uses will stay and the ones they don't use at all will just die. Isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard? It's even crazier to think that this means that caregivers of babies have a huge role in which neurons will be kept. So if you just leave your baby in a box and don't hug it or play with it, that baby's brain will suck as an adult and it will be all your fault. I know a lot of people parent that way so I just thought I'd do a little service announcement for the betterment of mankind. Words of wisdom from Dr. Liz. You're welcome.

3) Scientists think that the reason babies have the startle reflex and jerk out their arms and legs if someone stops supporting their heads (btw, don't try this at home, support your baby's head) is from our evolutionary monkey cousins who are carried around on their mama's backs when they're little. The monkeys have that instinct so they don't fall of the mama's back and get left behind in the jungle. Babies don't really have to worry about that, but they're babies, so they don't know.

Ah, real knowledge. I really hope my brain isn't too full of inane details about the Kardashian sisters to fit anything actually informative and substantial.

We shall see when exam time rolls around.

I may not have missed that part as much.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let the Great World Spin

When I first started this novel a couple of weeks ago, I thought I may not like it. I actually did not know that it would be an inter-connected series of short stories from different perspectives. I read the first chapter from the point of view of an Irish man new to New York City in the 70s and it was engaging and well written, but I didn't feel an emotional connection. Also wasn't this supposed to be a novel about the man who walked across a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers? Where was he?

I finished it today and can honesty say it was one of the most beautiful things I've read in my entire life. It's one of those books that is so beautiful and so perfect that you feel like it should be fragile, that instead of paper and ink it should be made of glass and spindles, a delicate thing you have to protect. I usually chafe against interconnected short story collections, because as soon as I get involved with one character I'm whisked away to another. But in  Let the Great World Spin, l every time I was whisked, often at dizzying speed and variation, from a wealthy judge to a sad and broken prostitute, every time I was thrown through the air of 1970s New York to something new, I found myself falling in love again and again with these characters, these imperfect people who in one moment, from the point of view of another character can seem hollow and mean, and then in the next, from inside their head, be messy and decent and frustrating and just so viscerally  human. 

McCann hasn't created characters. He's created humans. And he's created their world in such breathtaking detail and honesty that you feel like you could reach out and touch things. You smell sewage in a crumbling, crime ridden Bronx. You feel the oppressive heat of an urban August summer. I don't know how he has done this. This is one of this books where as a writer you read it and your heart breaks because you didn't write it, because you couldn't write it. What he's done is sublime. Most books if they're lucky have a few sublime moments, a few moments where they become more than novels and are these breathing, vibrant creatures capable of changing, challenging and pushing the lives of their reader. This whole book is that way. I don't know how he did it. I wish I did. 

And the most remarkable thing is that McCann has done what few other authors have done, he's successfully written a novel about 9/11. And he's done it by writing a book that has nothing to do with 9/11. And I know that doesn't make sense, but if you read this you'll understand what I mean. And it's so genius and right and obvious, because of course the only way you could write about 9/11 is to not focus on what's gone and what's destroyed, but to write about what was there, what was once intact and capable of beauty and solid and real, what we once thought would always be there. Only a couple of chapters in this book actually are from the point of view of the tightrope walker, but in a way the whole novel is. It's someone looking down from midair, at this city suspended in a moment, a city that from that great distance reveals itself as not just a disparate collection of strangers and unrelated parts, but as a whole, a web of life and humanity that is capable of horror and monstrosity but also of such tremendous beauty and goodness and hope.

It's about people trying to pull themselves out of destruction and reach for something new, for some moment of creation, whether it's creating an act of performance art and spectacle in mid-air or simply forging a friendship with someone from a completely different walk of life.

We think about 9/11 and we think about what fell down, about all that was lost. But in Let the Great World Spin, McCann deals with that day and grieves for that day by rebuilding those towers and a tightrope hanging between them. He reconstructs a man in mid air, not falling, not falling like all of those people would one day fall, but frozen, frozen in life and in time, a supreme reminder that sometimes life can reach a moment of grace, even amidst the chaos. And he reconstructs the people living in view of that moment of grace by putting things back together, by going backward to a place when we were whole. 

It's just one of the most remarkable books I've ever read. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

heat wave.

It was in the high 50s today. It may have even reached a whopping 60 degrees. So what perfect way to spend the night than eating samosas and chicken masala at Farouks for dinner followed by FROZEN YOGURT.

First I have to admit that this was my second trip to Sweet Frog today. As in second trip within a span of about eight hours. And you know the best part, I don't even feel remotely guilty. I kicked ass on my run today and sure those two trips to Sweet Frog probably made that run negligent in terms of calories burned, but it was almost 60 degrees! I'm high on the sweet, sweet taste of warm weather. And the sweet, sweet taste of frozen yogurt. After my second yogurt of the day I even strolled, STROLLED, in JANUARY. It's madness I know, but like I said I was delirious on above freezing weather. I wasn't the only one. Carytown was chock full of people smiling and walking and doing things other than shivering and huddling together for any kind of warmth.

And yes if it was October and it was this temperature, we'd all be ordering hot chocolate and donning puffer vests. But it's January. That's one of the reasons I love winter. It sounds silly but nothing makes you appreciate warmth like bitter, bitter cold.

Oh also of note, I found out definitively that I am not color blind today, as mandated by my nursing school. So that's kind of cool. Not that I really worried before, but who knows, all this time I could have been mixing up red and green. Maybe I had just had insanely good luck and managed to consistently run red lights my whole life and no one wanted to tell me because they thought I was deranged. But thanks to Patient First I know once and for all.

But here's the part I thought was kind of mean. I had to look at these six circles and within each circle was a number. If you can read the number it means you're not a color blind. So I got all five easy and then I get to the sixth circle and all I saw was crazy loops and dots. And a part of me was like, well shit. Maybe I am a little color blind. I am going to be banned from nursing. So I start to sweat and stammer and finally just shout out 31! Even though what I was looking at had nothing even remotely resembling a 3 or 1. The lady giving the test just smiled kindly and marked me as a pass, albeit a pass who only got 5 out of 6 right.

Only later after talking to my friend who took the same test did I figure out it's a TRICK. That sixth circle isn't supposed to be a real number. So me panicking and shouting out 31 was completely unnecessary. It's like at the eye doctor when I get so stressed out about picking between lens 1 and 2 that I usually make my eye doctor show me each one ten times before meekly saying "pass?"

So that was my day. I ate frozen yogurt twice and I'm not color blind.

Overall I'd call it a win :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cool stuff.

1) The Australian Open is on! To anyone who's not a tennis fan that's probably a big "meh", but for me it's super fantastic. The last grand slam was waaay back in early September so there's been a long drought. And there's really nothing like grand slam tennis, even when it's all the way in Australia and I have to get way less sleep than usual for 2 weeks because I'm up to all crazy hours of the night watching matches. I mean how could you not love this sport when things happen like all the top players getting together the day before the start of a major tournament to act goofy and like enormous dorks? Can you picture the Eagles and the Patriots (that's a rivalry right?) frolicking around a stadium, all jovial spirits and silly fun the day before the Super Bowl? If so I may have to start watching football.

2. My team won second place at trivia last night. That came with 35 dollars and untold amounts of my personal dignity restored after coming in somewhere between 11th and last the last 76 times I've gone to that trivia. There was a round devoted exclusively to The Office. I basically could reenact the majority of Office episodes completely from memory. When I lived in Paris and in Thailand, I watched my DVD seasons of the Office pretty much on repeat. When you think about it, it's a very quintessentially American show and it always helped with any homesickness. Regardless that obsessive and some might say crazy habit finally paid off! Thank you television.

3. I signed up for the April Monument Avenue 10k. I will be chronicling my training (Rocky style of course, I need to find me some good, dramatic outdoor stairs) on starting next month, but here's a little taste. You could not find a person built WORSE for running than me. I should not even be able to walk quite frankly. I used to think it was really cool that my feet could turn in at crazy angles, but really it just means I am a giant freak of nature with floppy joints and different length legs and a hip that pops out of its socket constantly, necessitating that I do an awkward and in no way sexy hip swivel until it pops back in. Intrigued? You should be. Because all of that sexiness will be flailing its way down Monument Avenue in April. People should really be paying me for the intrinsic entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


If you, like me, watch any kind of news these days and end up rocking in the fetal position afterward, then I think you'll appreciate this video of an orangutan and a dog, being FRIENDS! An orangutan. And a dog. Being friends. See, the world isn't all bad. Sometimes it's downright adorable.

Things I'm doing differently my second go round as an undergrad:

- I did not dress up for my first class. I rolled out of bed, washed my face, grunted a little, then stumbled out the door.

-I bought a backpack. When I was eighteen I thought I was too cool for a backback. Backpacks were for those baby high-schoolers. So long LL Bean. So I bought a hip messenger bag from Urban Outfitters (groan). No one ever told me that hip messenger bags do not spread the weight of your eight tons of books around evenly and instead puts all the stress onto one single shoulder. Now I am once again rocking an LL Bean backpack, only this time it doesn't have my initials on it. I thought about it though.

-I have not spent my first week of class going out to every bar that has a 2 dollar vodka special and a not so strict ID policy. Nor have I ingested Red Bull, Yaeger, or any combination of the two. And unless force fed, never will I again.

-I have not gotten lost, yet.

-I ordred all of my books a solid two weeks ahead of time, instead of frantically searching the bookstore the day all of my classes start and standing in line for two hours with all of my other slacker classmates.

-I have not been too a class so hungover that I later looked at my notes and was unable to tell if I had been writing in English.

-I have not burnt myself trying to smoke a cigarette while standing in line for 3am pizza only to realize too late that I hate smoking and the pizza was made by dirty hippies.

Isn't it sickening? I'm an adult this time. And it may be way less fun, but I'm pretty sure my liver and my GPA will thank me.

Oh college, meant for the young and stupid, but so much better suited to the old and boring :)


Forget birds dropping out of the sky. Forget torrential flooding in Australia. If there is a sign that the end of days is nigh, it has to be pajama jeans. Gather your children and atone for your sins, because nothing means the apocalypse is more imminent than PAJAMAS masquerading as JEANS.

And yet I have some hope. Because if there is one thing that can unite America, one thing that can traverse ideological differences and bring us all together in one shared belief, my GOD, it is an uprising against the pajama jean. Unite people. The snuggie may have conquered us, but it is not too late to stop the pajama jean. The evil, evil pajama jean.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

thank you jon stewart

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Arizona Shootings Reaction
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I thought this was beautiful and wonderful and so, so human. As Monday night at eleven approached I realized I was waiting for this, to turn on the Daily Show and listen to what Jon Stewart had to say. Yes I'm a liberal and yes I know a lot of conservatives hate him, but the main reason I love the Daily Show isn't for when he mocks Republicans or Fox News or expounds on the ideological issues I share beliefs in. The main reason I love the Daily Show is because whenever the world falls apart, it's the only thing that makes me feel better. And so whenever the world does fall apart, as seemingly happens more and more often, I wait for that next Daily Show. I wait to turn on my TV with a heavy heart and a mind bogged down in anxiety and sadness and confusion only to watch something that makes me feel like it can all be okay again, like the world can and will be put together, if only by the power of shared human decency, if only because of a belief that reason and humor will always exist, even on our darkest of days.

And my God doesn't it feel good to laugh, even if it's just at the silly visual sight gag of Jon Oliver in panda pajamas. Doesn't it feel good to turn on the TV to a show about current events and instead of weeping, laugh?

Thank you Jon Stewart. Thank you for taking the impossible and talking through it until it some slight shred of hope and optimism reveals itself.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I've gone back and forth a million times about writing something about the shooting that took place in Arizona. I've stopped myself, again and again, because I didn't want to be political. I didn't want to be like all those ass hats on television the last few days, on both sides of the ideological spectrum, who only a few days later are already pointing fingers and calling names and talking and talking about everything about what is true and what is honest and that is that what happened is terrible and sad and always will be.

The only thing I want to say, to ask, is how this keeps happening? These mass shootings happen and for a few days it's all we talk about and we suggest solutions and promise change, but nothing ever does change. Enough time goes by that we forget, we get distracted, until the next violent massacre shocks us awake. But we don't stay awake long enough. We never do.

So maybe this time, please let us stay awake. Please let us try, all of us, in a million different tiny ways, in several huge ways, to change our country, to make these shootings what they should be, rare and unimaginable, instead of what they are becoming, common and routine.

A nine year old died on Sunday. Please let us stay awake for her.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

And now for the real resolutions

I just couldn't leave the night on that last, very depressing, ahem, self-pitying post. Because one of my resolutions is to try and avoid the negative energy that took over so much of the first eight moths of last year and turned me into a person I didn't like very much. So here are my positive, good energy resolutions for this year, in no particular order:

-work out four times a week
-run a 10k (or at the very least a run/walk combo)
-do more yoga
-not obsess about what I eat, but also eat generally "healthier", whatever that really means
-no diets
-not become so health conscious that I can't enjoy a) a good Mexican dinner or b) chocolate
-write as much as possible (on this blog but more importantly fiction)
-be more open
-be less materialistic (i.e. shop LESS)
-travel outside of the US (even if I have to drive to Canada to accomplish this)
-be a better friend/daughter/sister/person (yes, this one is vague, but it never hurts)
-less People magazine, more Atlantic
-learn how to say "no"
-find ways to challenge myself and do things that scare me, especially things that scare me
-be brave, be good, be kind

2010 hangover

I really wanted to start 2011 fresh and energized and ready to take on the world. I was really ready for 2011, because 2010, especially the first eight months, was without question the hardest, most emotionally exhausting year of my life.

But something feels stuck, like I haven't been able to get my foot out of the old year and into the new one. Maybe because as much as it's the start of something new, right now, this past week, I've more felt the hurt and sadness of endings, the end of a relationship, the end, with nursing school, of the dream of a life I used to have, of being a full time journalist.

And this is all horribly depressing and it's not helping anything. I know that. But I guess I just needed to write, because I haven't in a while, which only makes me more sad. And because I know that this is just my little 2010 hangover. But next week, I'll get my head together and join 2011 with the rest of the world. I'll start instead of end, look ahead instead of back. And I'll hope for beauty and strength and love this year.

Happy New Year to everyone out there, especially if you're dealing with your own metaphorical  or well, even literal hangovers :)
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