Friday, October 30, 2015

Dear Past Laura: Running Lessons I Wish Someone Had Thought to Tell Me

Okay, one more post in which I impart fitness wisdom. Yeah, I know you're sick of these. This is a letter to Past Laura from Current Laura, teaching the lessons CL learned by trail and error that PL never found on the internet, even though she looked for it.

Dear Past Laura,

By now, you're realizing that Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD taught you that if you're not gasping, sweating, and near collapse, you aren't actually working out. And since you're so good at her DVDs now, you're looking for a new challenge. So you've picked up running! That is really awesome. I've always wanted to be one of those running people I see from my car as I drive along, eating an ice cream cone from Dairy Queen (only 49 cents!) on my way home from work. I never thought I could because I sucked at fitness, but thanks to your hard work, you don't suck anymore! You can do 30 Day Shred, Ripped in 30, and whatever other DVDs you've tried, so you are READY for running. You have muscles. Thanks to you, I can run! That's pretty awesome. Feel proud of that.

But here's the thing: Other people aren't you. Running is easy for them, because they just have to put on shoes and go. But your body is a broken wasteland of aftermarket parts and salvaged materials. You are barely alive when you wake up in the morning. Have you SEEN you? I have. It is not a pretty sight.

You are not going to be a running success story like those blogs you read the other night. Yeah. I saw that. Not everyone is a success story right away. Not everyone becomes a marathon runner after a happy year of training. Some people never get one of those pretentious stickers for the back of their car, and that's okay! You are going to hurt yourself pretty quickly. Also you will probably not get better, because you're you. Also here are some more things you should know:
  1. Guess what? You have chronic shin splints. This sucks for you, doesn't it? It sucks for me, too. 
  2. More running makes chronic shin splints worse. Running every day makes them feel deadly, like your shins are made from fragments of broken glass that grind together with each step. Running two days in a row makes you want to cry. Adding distance too quickly will temporarily cripple you.
  3. Couch to 5K doesn't work for you (see 1 and 2). It adds distance too quickly and will just make you feel like a failure. Plus it's use of timed running/walking splits doesn't actually build distance if you're running with shin splints. It just builds pain. Throw out the papers and delete the app.
  4. Here's what DOES work. Go outside. Run until you feel like you're going to die, either from lack of oxygen (asthma), heart rate, or shin pain. Then walk until you feel like you might survive. Then go back to running. Repeat this cycle until you're feeling like a good workout has begun. Then TURN AROUND. You still need to get home. Do not run the next day.
  5. At the most, run three days a week. Don't run those days back to back. Do not try to make up runs. Do not do a "long run" or a "short run." Those terms work for people who can handle various distances.
  6. Do not run by yourself. Not only does this make street harassment more likely to happen, it also makes you sad. Sad running is stupid, because it defeats the purpose of running, which is to make you happier. Have someone ride their bicycle along with you, or take Darcy and run shorter distances. This will keep you running for longer, meaning you won't get depressed about everything sucking and quit for three months before starting over again.
  7. Give up on all workout clothes except Old Navy's. Their leggings come in Tall.
  8. Seriously, get your shoes fitted. And when the sales clerk tells you to come back when your legs start hurting, resist the urge to walk outside, turn around, and walk back inside to tell her your legs never stop hurting. She won't think your chronic shin splints are as darkly funny as you do.
  9. The treadmill won't actually kill you. It is pretty much designed not to. There are safety switches and everything.
  10. Races are not for everyone. You might never run another race again. That is totally okay. You don't need to do that just because the running bloggers you like run them. Races are expensive, and they're only worth it if they motivate you.
  11. Find out what DOES motivate you and do that thing. Maybe it's spending time reading running books or blogs. Maybe it's looking at cute fitness wear on Pinterest even though you will never shop at expensive luxury exercise clothing boutiques. Maybe you just have fun running with your dog. Do those things, even if you think you're "supposed" to be motivated by other things.
So there you go. Running lessons from someone who will never be an awesome runner and is okay with that. 

Current Laura

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

FINALLY: A Haircut and I Give Unsolicited Advice

Well. It has been like three months or maybe longer, but I finally followed through and got a haircut. It basically grew back to the length it had been before I got it cut short. That is how bad I am at adulting. I am just bad at hair.

Complete with temporary curls, behold: new hair.

It isn't my fault (...yes it is). No one ever taught me how to deal with hair! Hair is a SKILL you need a hair savvy mom or older sister to teach you. I can't braid my hair, I can't use fancy pins or slides to put part of it back. I have two sorts of hair: Up and Down. Up is a ponytail of varying size, Down is just that. Down. 

I spent the majority of my childhood trying to avoid my mother's attempts to style my hair, because she wasn't good with a curling iron and kept accidentally burning my skull by holding the iron too close to my head. Also it kept catching my hair and pulling strands out. Also the curls only lasted about 15 minutes before they were back to Down, so why bother? Eventually we settled on a style that worked okay-ish, but it involved me hacking off all of my hair (actually a stylist did it) and starting over.

My hair game was terrible for most of my life. Heck, it is still terrible some days. But it is much improved, and that is because I have learned to cope with having my hair, which is both thick AND fine.

Here are some things to know about thick hair: 
  1. Thick hair is your enemy. It is the bossy girl on the playground who will only play the games she makes up and no other game and insists that you join in or else she'll treat you like dirt. You don't want to be friends, but you have to deal with her anyway. Thick hair is like that. It will defeat any style you attempt to inflict upon it, so stop fighting. Let it do what it wants to do and move on. 
  2. Everyone will envy your hair and refuse to acknowledge that the struggle is real. The struggle is real.
  3. Get used to broken hair elastics and bent bobby pins. No clip or slide will ever close. Just buy elastics in bulk and don't get too attached.
  4. If you do not use a blow dryer, your hair will never dry ever, even if you wash it the night before.
  5. If you do not use products, your hair will own you and create its own style, even if that style means you can't see all day, or a chunk is pointing directly vertical for no reason you can discern.
Oh, but just when you think you understand think hair, get ready for fine hair:
  1. Fine hair refuses to accept your hair products.
  2. Also wait, you have hard water? You will never have volume. Give up now.
  3. Seriously, all of these hair products are bumming fine hair out. It wants to lie down and cry. It's just going to do that for a while.
  4. Except you wore a wool sweater today so it will FLY ABOUT and STICK TO THINGS! STATIC! EVERYWHERE!
  5. Basically fine hair is sort of bipolar.
After trial-and-error, lots of terrible hair, and tons of money I wasted buying stuff that only made me look homeless, I have a few things I love for thick AND fine hair. 

one / two / three / four / five

I'm trying out this conditioner because it is especially for fine hair and I wondered if it might be even more lightweight than the Clear Total Care Conditioner. I can only hope. I have liked Macadamia Healing Oil Spray in the past because it deals with all the dryness of my during the winter, but right now I'm trying this out because it's so much cheaper and comes highly recommended.

Clearly, I am not a hair stylist. This stuff works for me. It might not work for you, and that's okay! If you have something you like better, tell me in the comments!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Methane, Night Vale, and Other THINGS

My workplace has smelled of sewer gas for three straight months. They are trying to figure out why, but in the meantime, I am sucking methane all day and I'm pretty sure if someone lit a match in here, the whole building would go up. If methane is explosive. Hold on.

Yes. Methane is explosive. I mean, in certain concentrations. So, probably I am okay. Which is good because we have lots of electronics in here that could cause sparks, and books are good tinder for raging fires. So, yes. Methane.

Also they are working on the roof, which needs a bit of attention to stop it from raining on us indoors. I walked into the library today under a giant lift machine with limestone dust raining down from above and thought, "Well, if I am struck and injured, at least I won't have to breathe sewer gas all day."

So that's where I am, mentally. Anything to escape the sewers. I don't even have a giant rat to teach me ninja moves. I will never join the ninja turtles now, which is another childhood dream, crushed. *

What would I be doing if I were recovering from a chunk of fallen limestone crushing me? I would be finishing my audiobook, Welcome to Night Vale.

I was afraid I wouldn't love the book as I love the podcast, but I do. I do love the book. SO MUCH. The deadly librarians alone make this book worth my Audible credit this month.

Cecil Baldwin narrates, and it is brilliant and hilarious and filled with vague yet menacing government agents. I highly recommend it. And seriously--go for the audiobook. Night Vale isn't the same without the voice of Cecil Baldwin.

I want Cecil to narrate my life.

Well, not really, because my life isn't all that interesting and would be boring for me to listen to, having lived the life in question, but you get the idea.

Other things I'm loving lately: THIS oatmeal muffin recipe and THIS pasta**, my new Punk Rock Authors knitting bag/purse (see below) from Out of Print Clothing, bought locally HERE, plus the broccoli salad I had at Rachael's house yesterday, because that stuff was freaking awesome.

I don't know why I love this so much, but it is my favorite ever.
What are you up to this week? Apparently I am mostly eating. So there's that. But I'll be running today, so maybe that will cancel some of that out. I hope. Because darn, those muffins are amazing.

* I always thought April was a wimp, because there she was sneaking around being a reporter, getting kidnapped every third episode, when she SHOULD have been taking a leave of absence from work, learning all sorts of fancy kicks, THEN going out to investigate things so she could defend herself when things invariably went wrong. This did not stop my child self from collecting TMNT trading cards. 

** They make you register for a trial to get the recipes, but it is completely worth it. Buy a ream of paper, register for the 30 day trial, print every recipe you find vaguely interesting, then cancel. Or be like me and become so obsessed with ATK that you buy a yearly membership. Up to you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bean Boots: First Impressions

I promised a review of the L.L. Bean boots I ordered to someone...I can't remember who. If you are that person, see? I remembered! If you are not that person, go eat a cookie and come back later. Or read this. Or maybe eat something else. It's up to you. I don't judge your food choices. You do you.

I ranted on Twitter a few months ago about how my rain boots were completely useless in rain because they are not even a little bit waterproof. Also they aren't warm. So on cold, rainy days, I would put on my boots and spend the rest of the day with wet, freezing toes. That was useless. Basically these shoes are only good in mud. Not really wet mud, more like sticky mud. There is a difference, which you would know if you lived in the country. Also this is why you don't live in the country, if you are a city person. Because if you did, you would know more about mud than anyone really should, and your shoes would be filthy.

I wanted warm, dry boots. I suspected that such boots were imaginary, because I had never found any that managed to be both warm AND dry at the same time. Then Kate said, "Bean boots?" Because she knows things. Also because I trust Kate to make all my decisions for me, I ordered them. And then I wrote a blog post about it.

(This was around when someone said, "Let me know how you like them!" And I promptly forgot who that was. I did remember the question, though! I get points for that, right?)

My boots arrived on Thursday morning. They were at the post office, because we live in the country and they don't deliver packages to our house, because that would involve more than rolling down the mail car's windows and shoving a stack of envelopes in our mail box. Our local post office is open from 9:00 AM to noon. I luckily managed find time during the morning pick up the boots. Otherwise they would have sat there at the post office for weeks. This is also why you don't live in the country. FedEx and UPS don't deliver to your house. Plus the USPS doesn't either, unless the package is in a standard envelope.

I immediately tried the boots on, and to my shock and joy, they fit.

Straight out of the box, photographed by Mum.

See, when you order Bean boots, they say, "Get the size down if you're a whole size! Or hey, if you're a half size, go a size and a half down. Then they will fit! Unless you want to wear heavy socks. Then get your normal size. Unless you're a half size. But really. Do that." *

I have narrow feet, so I decided to pretend I knew what I was doing, and I ordered a size 7 narrow, which was a half size down plus also skinnier, which made me think maybe I could possibly get away with wearing them, with thick socks or, if that didn't work, normal socks. I crossed my fingers.

I waterproofed them and have spent the last few days breaking them in by being a typical college girl, wearing Bean boots as a fashion accessory. It was worth it, though, because now they are all broken in and cozy and I can slip them on easily.

I was thrilled to find that Bean boots suspect that you probably have an arch to your foot, so they make their boots with arch support. Imagine that! Barely any shoes do that. It was like Christmas, finding that out. Also the tongue of the boot is attached to the sides, so there will be no random icy bits of snow working their way in around the laces. This is a plus. And unlike my Uggs, they don't pull my socks down and off my feet as I walk around, so I don't have to scuff my heels against the ground in an attempt to keep the socks from slipping off. This is a complicated method honed on the hilly streets of Italy. It works, but it makes you walk like a duck, and you seem stupider than normal. Now I can look marginally more intelligent and less like a neanderthal, because I can walk upright. I am practically evolving as I type this.

I won't know for certain how they behave in very rainy weather with puddles on the ground or in snow (because we have luckily not had any of that this early), but they do very well in chilly Indiana fall weather. My toes were never cold.

* It is possible I paraphrased this a bit.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Writing Out April Nardini: A Noble Quest

I hope by now you have all heard the GLORIOUS news. The Gilmore Girls are coming back! On Netflix! Amy Sherman-Palladino is back! Everything is happy again!

As I read discussions online about what people wanted to see in the new episodes/mini movies, I thought of the one part of Gilmore Girls that I don't want to see. APRIL. April is the worst thing that ever happened to the Gilmore Girls. Seriously. That child was a plague, with her atonal voice and her bizarre bicycle helmet and her constant whining.

I cannot deal with more April.

We wish Luke had a goat instead of a child. We wish.

So, for the purposes of assisting Amy Sherman-Palladino with her writing, I have decided to compose a list of things she can use to explain April's absence.

  • April is attacked by bees. They swarm, cover her, and when the swarm dissapates, April is gone.
  • April becomes a part of the avocado tree she grew. It's the pits.
  • A temporal phenomenon erases April from history. Wait. Who's April?
  • April is abducted by aliens she spied through her telescope. Her memory is wiped, and she is left alone in Siberia forever.
  • In order to finally win the science fair, April accidentally creates a zombie-virus. She is subsequently consumed.
  • April is the first confirmed case of spontaneous human consumption. Her ashes are featured on an upcoming X-Files episode.
The truth is out there, April. Trust no one.
  • The ghost of April haunts everyone. She is exorcised by Mrs. Kim's pastor.
  • April decides to go on a trip to explore the desert. She is eaten by snakes.
  • April meets a gorgeous, tan guy who looks like Mickey Hargitay, and ends up wearing a moomoo playing the tambourine and jumping up and down at the airport, part of the same cult Babbette left behind years ago. Later she is pushed from a moving car.
  • April moves to a shack in the woods where she writes long and rambling letters to celebrities, stops bathing, and believes all other scientific minds are conspiring against her. Life goes on without her.
I mean, sure, Amy Sherman-Palladino could just not mention anything about April and hope we all get the point, but I think it would be more satisfying for me, as a viewer, to see her consumed by angry angry bees. I mean, it's feasible, right? Wasps attacked me once! Bees could totally go for April. Maybe they're attracted to turquoise. It's much more believable to think of April drawn up into the sky in a beam of light than it is to think that Luke would have a surprise kid who just-so-happens to be a kid genius and appears suddenly when Rory's finally "grown up" and her cute kid time is over. Don't think that isn't why April's character was developed in the first place, because IT IS. Someone really believed they had to replace Sweet High School Rory with another precocious highly intelligent kid after she became Living With Boyfriend Rory.

That someone was wrong.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Jello or Ectoplasm

Saturday we had library tours running and I thought I would be an awesome tour guide because I would tell people what they really wanted to know about places, like the cold honest truth, and the tours would be fantastic and everyone would be mystified and maybe also a little afraid of my knowledge, because no one wants to know where someone has pooped on the floor years previously.

I would walk people around a fancy old house, and I would say things like, "This is where we found something we thought was ectoplasm this one time, except really it was something gross someone brought inside and spilled. Or it could have been ectoplasm. We didn't ask a lab to check or anything. Jello, or ectoplasm."

I would point at doors and say, "this is where we found a spider the size of my hand," or "a baby fell down there because his head was so big, he stopped running but his head didn't." Babies tend to grow into their giant heads. But the falling down thing is always funny for a year or so.

I also would play fun guessing games, like, "What do you think we found living in this room? Multiple choice options: A. Mice, B. Feral Cat, or C. Person?" Correct answer? All of the above!

I would point at the wall of the old house and say, "That wall is fake to hide the mold!" or "This is where we put buckets when it rains."

Seriously, an historical house should hire me.

We would walk into the door and I would say, "This place is either possessed or haunted, but the boss won't let us hire ghost hunters. Sign the petition on your way out! Plus also one time someone was murdered here, or maybe they just died. Or they could have moved. The paper didn't say."

My goal would be for the people to learn what was important about historical places, like how many bodies are buried on the property, not just when it was built. No one cares about that. They do care about how many accidental decapitations took place before they fixed that nasty broken stairway, though.

(In other news, this entire post was written when my blood sugar was so low, I felt like I was going to pass out. But I ate some Oreos. I'm better now.)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Little Lost Dog Pupdate

Yes, I used the "pupdate" joke again. It gets funnier every time I use it. At least it does this inside my head.

Mum and I stopped by the shelter this week to see the little lost dog we rescued! Padfoot, which is her name (the shelter asked us to name her and my brain automatically goes to Harry Potter, apparently, and I'm proud of that), is still at the shelter. She's been going through treatments to help her skin heal from the irritation she had, getting lots of good food, and she looks like a completely different dog.

We walked in to see her, and she jumped right up, walked over, and wagged her tail like crazy. This is a dog that was so exhausted and weak, she looked ancient when I found her. Now she looks like the adolescent dog she actually is. Her coat is filling back in and is glossy and black. Her eyes are bright. She gobbled up the bacon treats we gave her. The man who runs the shelter told us there are two families interested in adopting her when she's well enough.

I am so happy.

I love that I got to see her doing so well. Now the image I have of her will be of a happy dog, not of her sick and frightened. And the shelter workers all know us now, so they're keeping us updated on her condition and will let us know when she finds her family.

So. Happy.