Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 22

It is day 22 of the 30 Day Squat Challenge.

This morning, I woke up and did 85 squats in order to avoid doing all the squats I have to do today in one lump after work.

I then caught myself thinking, "I only have to do 100 squats when I get home!" It was as if 100 squats were a treat I was looking forward to and not unreasonable or excessive.

Meanwhile, I cannot find any mention that my town is getting any other gym than the YMCA anywhere on the internet. So it is just a happy dream in the mind of my friend Erin, and we may never get an affordable alternative. It goes right along with that Starbucks rumor that was passed around town a few years ago. Note that we have no Starbucks.

We're supposed to get more snow today and tomorrow, I may never go anywhere but work and home again, for the rest of my life. Because if I can't go somewhere soon, I won't make it to spring.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

To Elliptical or Not to Elliptical

I looked into joining the YMCA again this month, and again the cost was prohibitive. I keep hoping the Y will pay off the building it couldn't afford and lower its rates so that regular humans that don't own prosperous medical practices, farms, or small businesses can join too. But no. And before you suggest trying for a scholarship, I make JUST enough money not to qualify for one.

Sadly, where I live, there are no other competing gyms. Really, there's nothing. We're lucky to have a Y at all. So I started thinking about what I really wanted in a gym, because it will be so much less expensive for me to make my own home gym than it would be to join the Y for several years. Since I plan to keep being athletic, a home gym wouldn't be such a stupid thing to do. It wouldn't be like declaring you want to be fit on New Year's, buying a ton of equipment, working out for a month, and then letting the equipment gather dust until you sell it on the internet.

I thought about what I wanted to use at the gym, and other than the pool...I only wanted one thing.

I want an elliptical machine.

But there is no place to put an elliptical machine. Unless we put it right in the middle of the dining room, there is no place.

Except the basement.

The basement is where the spiders dwell. It is dark. It is creepy. It has a cement floor and cement block walls. There are bare bulbs for lights, and there are next to none of them. Storage takes up the back wall. There is a shower down there, our laundry room, the water heater, the well, the water softener, and not much else.

Mum and I have decided to redo the basement. Nothing crazy, just a good scrubbing, a coat of paint, more organization, and, at the end, a space I can use for an elliptical machine, should I choose to buy one.

At this point, I'd just go out and buy one. But I thought in the process of renovating, if an affordable alternative to the YMCA happens to open in see where I'm going.

Meanwhile, on with the 30 Day Squat Challenge. Today is day 20. It is a rest day. I have never been so happy to not have to do squats in my life.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


This just in: I have strep throat.


Let's throw a party.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dress (Again)

Well, I ordered the dress. It might work. It might not. But at least I am taking a chance instead of bemoaning my dress-less existence and doing nothing to change it. Who knows, it might be the PERFECT dress for me! I'll let you know how it all turns out.

It actually was a good thing I slept on this decision, because yesterday, there was no discount for me to use, and today there was! I saved a bit of money on the dress, making up for the problem of not getting free shipping. I feel like if I have to pay for shipping while shopping online, I'm doing something wrong. Anyone else feel this way?

Meanwhile, if you're staring at anything at Old Navy, they have a 15% off discount code to use online right now. Use the code ONSAVENOW at checkout.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fashion Advice

I have been watching What Not To Wear on Netflix of late, which always makes me analyze my wardrobe to death and feel I am wanting in one particular area. I need dresses, or skirts. At least one nice skirt and one fun one, and at least one fun dress to match my more formal black one.

In short: I have one dress and one skirt that fit me, and I feel like Stacy and Clinton would run me out of town, throwing shoes with 4" heels at me as I fled.

About once a year, I look at dresses online, try a few on in different stores, and come to the conclusion that 1. I am a giant and 2. I need to learn to sew.

Here are the reasons for my problem:

I'm 5'9" (actually a little taller), and I am long-waisted. I also have broad shoulders, kind of like a linebacker, but not so much. This makes dress-buying hard, because I'm often limited to sleeveless dresses. Also I am limited to no dresses, because the waist on nearly every dress I try on is positioned roughly between my actual waist and my chest region.* It would be great if that meant I just automatically got empire-waisted dresses...except that lack of body length usually puts the hem at my upper thigh or higher, and I am not selling anything. I want to keep my dresses appropriate, so I don't feel self conscious.

Skirts work, sometimes, because they don't depend on my midsection being a certain length. That being said, I find old-lady skirts, short SHORT skirts, and skirts that are ridiculously expensive (and boring) when I go shopping. This year I found one at Target, a belted circle skirt in a fun print, but that is all. In the dress department, I have one little black dress I found at T.J. Maxx that is long enough that I think people won't imagine I'm open for business if I wear it out and about. But it is a black dress, and it does look dressier than what I'd want for every day.

Isn't it sad that I have to keep worrying that people will mistakenly think I'm a hooker when I try on dresses? Tall people have to deal with that sort of thing.

All that being said, I really don't hate my shape. I like being tall-ish, and I like my shoulders. They aren't obviously lumberjack-like, and they do hold up my clothes nicely. I know the issue isn't me, it's what is available in stores, and that's what I find so frustrating. I could go to a tall girl store, but those places are PRICEY and far away. If I order online, I have to send packages back and forth like boomerangs, and that's always annoying and usually expensive, especially if the shop doesn't give free return shipping.

I've mostly given up. But then I saw this post from In The Fun Lane and I fell in love with the shirtdress, which is from Old Navy. I want it. I think it would be cute, and it looks long enough. No shaping means that it won't cause the same waist positioning issues I usually run into. And it's supposed to be built looser, so maybe it will fit my shoulders.

I'm picturing it with leggings or tights, my new Christmas boots, and a handknit scarf.

The question is this: Should I take the plunge? Should I order it, and potentially be disappointed when I discover that dresses aren't built for me? More importantly, am I too tall to wear the tunic/legging look? I don't want to look like I'm pretending to be 5 years old.

Advice would be appreciated. And yes, this was an entire post asking for fashion advice. I regret nothing.

* The proper seamstress-y term is bustline.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Reads: Paper Valentine

This year I'm going to TRY to do a Friday Reads post every week. Note the emphasis on TRY. This is because sometimes I'm so busy, one book stretches from Friday to Friday.* There will be an abundance of YA titles, because my "work" reading has overtaken my "grown-up" reading. I have almost stopped reading anything but YA and MG titles, because those are what I need to recommend to others at work. I regret nothing. I tend to prefer YA over most adult books. YA has better fantasy.

You will probably get a bit of a lecture in literature while I'm at it. I'm sorry in advance. I really can't help myself.

As always, if you're interested in chiming in, head to the comments!

This Friday, I'm reading Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. This is a new book at the library, though hardly a new release. I originally picked it up just to skim a bit. But then I couldn't put it down.

The reason for this is the characters, most specifically those of Hannah and Lillian. I am drawn to their rather non-traditional conversations (Lillian is a ghost), and while I read, I'm pondering whether Lillian is a ghost or a manifestation of Hannah's grief. I really love magical realism, which is a literary technique, developed in Latin America, in which the unreal coexists with the real in a plausible way, so the reader must suspend disbelief as the story progresses. Some great examples of magical realism include The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (who is a master of magical realism--this is just my favorite of her novels, even though that's sort of a cliche. I don't care. I love that book),Gabriel García Márquez's books,and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (a great YA title). You can also look up the paintings of Frida Kahlo as an example of how magical realism looks on canvas.

Here's the publisher's description:
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. 
For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. 
With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.
If you're interested, you can snatch this up at your favorite indie bookstore, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or (of course) at your local library!

* I blame exercise--it cuts down on the reading time. It does, however, guarantee that I'll be able to breathe while I read without asthma knocking me down dead, so I'm okay with that.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ice and What Came After

Today I got out of my car onto a  sheet of solid ice that looked like water to me, so I was unprepared. I slid and slipped around like I was qualifying for the Sochi Olympics, then I went down. HARD.

I dropped my new lunchbox in the dirt, too. I'm going to have to go home and carefully clean it. And these pants, which are now filthy from the ground. At least they aren't covered in salt, because, that's right! No salt is put down in that parking lot, because it may damage the concrete. (I think damage to people is something we ought to worry about more than damage to parking surfaces, but that's just me.)

Meanwhile, now my neck hurts.

If you've been following this blog lately, you'll know I've been repairing myself after a car accident. For most of the fall, I could not turn my head. Now I  can turn my head AND look up at the same time, which was a physical impossibility about until three weeks ago. I was very proud of this accomplishment, and if this wipe out takes my accomplishment away, I will be an unhappy Laura.

Also my rear hurts, but that is because I fell on it an hour and a half ago, not because I was in any car accidents.

I may end up coming to work tomorrow in a full body cast.

I see no down side to wearing a full body cast. It would prevent injury. Also I would get to spend most of my time sitting down. Or lying down. Or maybe both.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Obligatory Polar Vortex Post

Well, last Saturday we were struck by a polar vortex, and it spat out so much snow that we were stuck indoors until Wednesday.

That's a long time to be stuck at your house, really.

Now there is EVEN MORE SNOW falling, and I am happy I was actually able to make it out of the house today, even if the snow is melting and pouring down through the library's ceiling in buckets, soaking our storage room and staff room, and many other places we have yet to find out about.

You'd think a library would be water-tight, but no.

While I sit here thinking about how many different varieties of mold we'll be growing in the program room (where I spend half of my time), I'm also wondering how on earth I'm going to get across town for dinner without a car. I had a chauffeur this morning, because one of the roads I take to work is covered in about 3 inches of ice, pitted with holes and ruts, and topped off with a coating of slush just to make it all extra slippery. I will likely walk to work.

And I may be stuck in town tonight, leading to me walking to Jennifer's apartment (or begging a ride) with my little travel case that I packed out of pure paranoia.

During the massive snowfall, I ended up baking a batch of cupcakes, making a pot roast, chili-lime chicken, homemade naan (Indian flatbread), chicken saag, and basmati rice. I then ate all of these things.

Some people love snow. I think the snow should go to their house.

I hate snow. It gets in the way. It's no fun to drive in, and once you're out of high school, no one lets you get away with not driving in it. It is instantly filthy, melts into puddles and slush, and ends up leaving everything a giant mud-pit. Dinosaurs could get stuck in the mud we end up with at our house. Dinosaurs could die in our yard, because mud.

But the biggest reason I hate snow right now is that I got bored while trapped at my house and started doing something called the 30 Day Squat Challenge. This is in an attempt to combat what I call the "no-booty effect," something that makes every pair of pants I own look...empty in the back area.

Now it hurts to sit down.

But to be fair, it also hurts to stand up, kneel, walk, and climb stairs.

Why does exercise always hurt so much? I keep thinking it will stop hurting. But it doesn't. I can't even remember if Jillian Michaels told me it would get easier, so I could be mad at her. But I can't remember, so I can't blame her.