Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Never Ending Question

Each morning I wake up, and within minutes of regaining consciousness am faced with the same question. Every single day. What? Am I going to wear today?

Sometimes the question is already answered for me. There was a year in high school where I would take time every Sunday to plan out my outfits for the approaching school week. I'd figure out everything down to the accessories, and then write it all out on a list, so that when I woke up at 5 freakin o'clock in the morning, I wouldn't have to think.  I just did what the paper told me to.

Flash forward to now, when I can't imagine having that kind of time on a Sunday, and usually don't have to be up before 7. Needless to say, my week's wardrobe is no longer quite so organized.

Because we're dramatic, and because this question is often faced before or with little coffee, Precisely and I can be found most mornings lying on the floor of our shared closet, asking the age old quandary of "What on earth am I going to wear today?"

My job is flexible enough that I don't have strict "work-clothes" (although I think most of my clothing is business casual). I've been fortunate enough to have collected quite a few nice pieces over the years, and have outfits that I absolutely adore. I am even more fortunate now, having an entire half of a bedroom as closet space, meaning I have easier access to my clothing than I have had in years. Also, I only have one strict fashion rule, which is to never wear sweatpants in public. Everything else is fair game.

This shouldn't then, be difficult.

Yet some days, it is so absolutely challenging, and having to make that kind of decision at the beginning of the day, seems far more stressful than it actually is. Some days I wish I just didn't care.

But I do care. I love fashion. I love clothes. I love how pairing some clothes with other clothes changes an outfit entirely. I love how fabrics feel, and fall across your body, and how colors can have an effect on your mood all day. I love the process of getting dressed. Of each layer of clothing working together to create an ensemble that you present to the outer world.

So here's my confession. Every morning when I don't feel like thinking about getting dressed, when I resent the "what am I going to wear today" question, I suck it up and put effort into it and answer it anyways. Why? Maybe this is morbid, or crazy, but I find myself thinking - If today, for some reason, you were to die. Be it a brain aneurism, or a freak accident, and you, you who love fashion, and put such effort into your clothes, were wearing an outfit you didn't care about, wouldn't that be a terrible thing?

It would be.  I couldn't stand for my last ever outfit to be one I didn't care about. So I take another sip of coffee, face my closet, and put together another outfit for another day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

List of Some Random Thoughts From Julie and Julia

I came home late last night, and had to wake up early this morning, so decided to spend a low key Friday night in.  After determining that Current TV wasn't showing anything involving Brett Erlich, I decided to watch Julie and Julia.  So I made myself some mashed potatoes for dinner, poured myself a glass of wine, and settled in to enjoy a couple hours of French cuisine, blogging, and people finding themselves.  Here are my thoughts from the film:

- Though all of the food looked delicious, I can't say I was seriously inspired to cook.  You know what inspires me to cook?  All this running, which is making me hungry all. the. time.

- I jumped on the blogging bandwagon way late in the game.  2002?  She wrote her blog in '02?  You know what I was doing in '02?  Freaking out over getting my drivers permit, and being 15, that's what I was doing.

- Amy Adams hair.  Usually, her hair looks great.  (she was one of the actresses who inspired me to go red) but I wasn't digging the cut in this movie.  That was on purpose probably, but I still wasn't feeling it.

- She and her husband were all excited over having 900 sq. feet even though it meant moving to Queens.  Bahaha, 900 sq. ft.  I love cost of living in Pittsburgh.

- I find it very reassuring that Julia Childs can find true love and be happily married.  My voice is not as annoying, and I already know how to cook some things.  She could barely boil an egg when she first got married.

- Oh Paris, I miss you.

- I fear that if Julia ended up hating Julie's blog, my goal of making Brett Ehrlich fall in love with me over twitter, could potentially backfire...

- Brie really is the best cheese I've ever tasted.

 - Maybe I will try making the Boeuf Bourguignon come winter, when I don't want to leave the apartment and am craving warm comfort food.

Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The B Word

You know what I hate?  When someone asks me how I’m doing, and I hear myself answering “busy”.

I realize that asking “how are you?” is a social nicety, and you’re not actually supposed to respond with how you are really doing, so I try to say “fine” and “good” and if things are really bad, maybe I’ll say “I’m hanging in there!” but more often than not, the answer that comes out is “busy”.

Here’s the thing.  I am busy all of the time.  There is no slow time of year.  There is never a month that isn’t crazy.  If I’m breathing, I’m busy.

But I want it that way.

I’m a member of Gen Y.  We were the kids whose schedules were so packed with structured extra-curriculars that our calendars were busier than those of our working parents.  Add to that my type a personality, and, if I don’t keep myself busy to the point of being overwhelmed, I won’t know what to do with myself and will fall into a procrastinating shame spiral that is very messy to get out of.  Sometimes, I feel a lot like a shark.  If I stop moving, I will die.

These days, it seems we love telling everyone how busy we are.  I’m just so busy!  You hear it all the time in an exasperated tone.  Because if you’re not so busy, then you must be a slacker, and clearly not as good a human as all the busy people. We wear our busy-ness like a badge of honor.  But busy isn’t honorable, or a symbol of success or importance. Being busy is not a sign of accomplishment.  Doing something great, or creating something you are proud of is an accomplishment. 

Busy is a choice, and a lifestyle. Being busy isn’t better.  And if you don’t enjoy it, and spend all of your time complaining about it, then stop doing so much and making yourself miserable.  And, if like me, you enjoy busy, or it’s the only way you know how to structure your life, then stop whining about what makes you happy.   

I had a meeting today with a colleague who asked me how I was. “Good,” I said. “Busy, but good.”  Then I rolled my eyes.  “I hate saying I’m busy,” I explained. “I’m always busy, it’s a stupid answer.”

“I've got to the point where I just tell people I’m living,” she said.

And that, is an answer I like.  How am I?  I’m living.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I can hear music.

I live on the same block as a dive bar.  This has its benefits and drawbacks.  Drawbacks are that on Thursdays, I'm trying to sleep, and they're trying to host 80's night.  Another drawback is consistently coming home to punk biker kids sitting on my front stoop, which actually doesn't hurt anyone, just creates those awkward couple moments while they're all "wow, someone lives here?" and I'm all "uh, yea, someone does." while frantically searching for my keys.

One of the benefits is being able to get a six pack anytime I want without having to walk more than 30 ft.  That's what I was up to tonight.  I walked in, it's a Weds so the place wasn't seriously crowded, and there were the usual suspects of older yinzers and bike kids sitting at the bar.  Only something was different.  They were all glued to the television screen.  They weren't watching a game, it wasn't a crazy news story, it was America's Got Talent.  And one of the finalists is this 10 year old opera prodigy, from somewhere near Pittsburgh. You can see a clip of her singing here.  She's fierce.

So there was this girl, performing an aria, and doing it beautifully, and the ENTIRE bar was absolutely enthralled.  I can't emphasize enough that this was a) the last place on earth I'd ever expect to hear opera, and b) the last audience on earth I'd ever expect to see enjoying it.  I almost had to laugh, except then I got caught up in the performance too.

Music.  How awesome is music?  How often do we even ask that question?  I feel like music is discussed and talked about and judged a lot, but when do we really sit back and ponder the enormous amount of awesome that comes from music.  Music makes you so present.  You know those moments, when you suddenly stop thinking for a few seconds?  Where everything is just good, and you are in such sensory overload that you can't think of anything but the very present?  I assume that's the moment of Nirvana one looks for in meditation or while practicing yoga.

I, along with most of my generation, and everyone else in cubicle nation, listen to music almost all of the time.  I have my itunes library of course, but sometimes I'm sick of it, or am not in the mood to decide what I want to hear, and so I turn to the myriad number of sources of radio on the internet.  They all have their pros and cons, but I use them largely depending on my mood.

The old stand by.  Pandora is what I turn to when I know roughly what type of music I want to listen to, but don't want to worry about making my own playlist.  They do it for you.  Pandora is great for long walks, running, or working on something that requires some concentration so that you want to hear the same type of music for a prolonged period of time.  You can also look up all kinds of music.  For example, when I'm super stressed at work, I'll put on my Gregorian Chanting station and will be provided with hours of chants if I want.  (stop rolling your eyes, it's super soothing!)

I recently went back to using blip.fm after a long hiatus.  Blip.fm is for when I know exactly which song I want to listen to.  Usually a song that I don't want to take the trouble to buy or download but want to hear.  right.  now.  There's the whole following thing, and they keep telling me I have points, and I suppose the competitive edge in me should be more into that, but I haven't bothered.  Mostly I just look up what I want and then it's saved to my playlist, which at this point looks like it was put together by an ADD raddled teenager, and features things like R Kelly followed by Sharon Jones followed by Blink 182 and finished off with Feist.

The sixtyone.com
The sixtyone is where I turn when I have no idea what I want.  The sixtyone allows anyone or any bands to upload their tracks so you can end up with a mix of signed artists, and groups recording in their living room onto their macbooks.  The sixtyone allows you to skip as many times as you want.  You can save songs to playlists, you can "heart" songs that you like, and as you use it more, you are rewarded with increased levels.  The dangerous thing about the sixtyone is that there is a lot of bad music out there, especially when there's no screening system.  The good thing is you get exposed to groups you'd never find.  My favorite band I've been introduced to through the sixtyone so far are My First Earthquake.  Awesome Pittsburgh group Big Hurry has been featured on their homepage a couple of times now.  You'll get a little bit of everything, but you might find something you like.

Happy listening.

There are feelings you get—rushes—after you engage in certain activities. These activities often leave you feeling happy, and sweaty. Like running and you know, the obvious one. They are not meant to stimulate your mind. They're just supposed to make you feel f***ing great. The thing about music though, is that at its best, it leaves you drunk and smart. You feel all boozy without the hangover; you get a lesson without the lecture.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Highlights from spending the weekend with my family in the midwest.

I believe Pittsburgh is in the midwest.  And I KNOW that all of you born and raised 'burghers will tell me how I'm wrong (I once had a date explain to me over dinner why I was incorrect based on historical  events and geography of Pittsburgh), BUT, as a born and raised Eastern snob, I will tell you, it is most certainly, the midwest.

My parents however come from the undeniably midwestern state of Minnesota.  I still have a lot of family there, and that is where I spent labor day weekend, attending the wedding of one cousin, the baby shower of another, and generally eating a lot of cake.  Which, was completely fine by me.


- Every once in a while I hear Pittsburgher's complain about mosquitos.  'Burghers, you have no idea.  I had welts on my neck and face from 1 hour outside during brunch on Sunday.

- Driving with my parents requires written directions, a gps, my iphone, and some how, my Mom and Dad still end up bickering over where we're going, and then I inevitably jump in when I get that I can't take it anymore feeling, which is no way actually helpful.  My sister sits in the back and rolls her eyes.  I admire her silence.

- My dear cousin who I am very close to just got engaged, and asked me to be a bridesmaid.  I am super excited, and also suspect that this may be where my life becomes that of Katherine Heigl's in 27 Dresses.  Only instead of a hunky reporter from the NY Times, can I get Brett Ehrlich from Current TV to fall in love with me please?

- My family drinks coffee.  All. The. Time.  Now, I love coffee, a lot.  But, I've got myself used to a big cup in the morning, and maybe, MAYBE one in the afternoon if I'm really crashing.  After 3 days of basically mainlining coffee however, my one cup was not cutting it.  So I got a latte for lunch.  And have spent the remainder of the afternoon twitching at my desk between the caffeine and lack of food.  (because if I wasn't drinking coffee this weekend, I was eating.  Usually both.)

Maybe due to the fact that I skipped lunch, maybe due to the fact that I'm finally getting the hang of this cooking thing (thanks CSA!), but I found like 17 recipes via blogs and twitter which I can't wait to try.  And then sent them to Precisely, because really, my favorite form of cooking goes like this.

      Precisely is in the kitchen sautéing.           
      I wander in holding a wine glass, "Wow babe, that smells great!"
      Him: raised eyebrows.
      Me: swirl, swirl.

I almost always clean up though.

- Getting your foot stepped on with a stiletto hurts like heck!  And will cause you to tear up whether you want to or not, (which you definitely don't), and you'll find yourself waving your hands in front of your face like a beauty queen telling people you're fine as you choke back sobs, and pray your mascara won't run.

- Conversation with my family as we're about to leave for the wedding.
My Dad: "Kels, you look great!"
My Aunt: "Very chic."
My Mom: "That skirt is so short!"

- Conversation with my recently engaged cousin.
Cousin: "I guess you're next!"
Me: "uhhhhhh"
Cousin: "Unless your sister beats you!"
My Sister: "uhhhhhhh"

It was a good weekend.  I don't make it up there often enough.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spewing Proverbs

So the thing about training for a marathon, is that the only way you'll ever be able to run 26.2 miles without serious negative consequences, is by running 26.2 miles, or at least close to that.  Running is one of those frustrating things that are incredibly simple yet really hard.  Want to run faster?  You run faster.  Simple, but difficult.

What all of this means is that all of my weekends from now until November 21 will include a 13+ mile run.  Because I am out of town this weekend, I had planned to go for my long run yesterday after work.  15 miles.

I was ready, I have new running shoes, I bought gatorade and a snickers bar, I told people about it, I thought about and psyched myself up for it.  I did essentially, everything I always do to prepare for a long run, because when you start hitting this kind of distance running becomes just as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.

Last weekend I did 14, which while certainly not being easy, was difficult in a good way, and overall enjoyable.  Running and I have been pretty in love lately, and I was excited for the utter exhaustion, flood of endorphins, and accomplishing one more mile.  I was ready.

What they don't tell you about marathon training, are the bad runs.  You prepare for blisters, dehydration, chaffing, heat-exhaustion, bruises, pulled muscles, and a gazillion other potential problems.  But nothing, none of that compares to having a bad run.

I did 5 miles.

That's it.

5 lousy miles.

5 miles in which I never hit my stride, it never got easier, I never fell into a comfortable rhythm making me feel I could go forever.

It was so hard, and it should have been so easy.

In my experience with running so far, nothing is more devastating than  bad run.  Especially, when it was supposed to be a long run.  It's kind of like getting dumped.  You're surprised and angry, and feel hurt and betrayed, and wonder if you're too fat.

This however, is exactly why I am not training alone.  After the miserable 5 mile disaster, I texted Running Buddy.

"I just had a really lousy, really defeating 5 miles.  I'm supposed to run in a half-marathon next weekend. I need encouragement!" I wrote.

"Remember the Alamo" he responded.

I stared at my phone.

"If this was going to be easy, there wouldn't be a point." he wrote.

"True." I replied.

"When in Rome," he said.

"Ok, now you're just spewing proverbs at me aren't you?" I asked.

"yeeeaaaaa." he said.

"c'est la vie" I shot back.

So tomorrow, I'll get back on the proverbial horse, or in the saddle, or however that saying goes, lace up my sneakers, and try again.