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From now on, I’ll just pretend I’m invisible when I run

I didn’t need to know this about myself, but now I do, and I’m going to share it with all of you.  When I’m running, and I think I’m going all out and looking smooth and streamlined and super-fast, I am not.  I am not any of those things in that moment.  I got to the end of yesterday’s race and revved up for my final kick across the finish line, and yeah, I picked up speed.  I was going faster than I had been, and I passed a few people.  But I do NOT look smooth.  I do NOT look all head-down, speeding bullet-like.  I do NOT look like a cheetah.

I look like a robot.  I look like a robot on springs.  Who thinks she’s a gazelle.  Seriously, I catch air.  And my arms!  What the hell am I doing with my arms?  I’m pretty sure when I run normally, they stay pretty close to my sides.  But here…man, here my elbows are flapping, and my hands are out – am I trying to grab hold of the air and pull myself along?

On the plus side (I guess?), I have very good posture.

I would show you the actual video, but I can’t figure out how to download it.  Wait – here’s the link.  I’m in the center of the screen by about 4 seconds in, wearing sunglasses and a pink jacket tied around my waist.  It’s probably just as well I can’t embed it.  And I don’t know how long the site will keep it up.  So, you know, if you’re going to watch it and make fun, better do it fast.  I’m not going to tell you how many times I’ve watched it.  John looks normal, and Jess looks cool.  I look like a crazy person.

I don’t need to do that again

Whoops, I missed a day.  Well, it was a busy day.  A busy weekend, really.  We spent Saturday morning cleaning up, both because it was necessary and because Sean and Emily were coming to visit, and we spent the rest of Saturday hanging out with them.  I made the worst decisions in terms of food and alcohol – let’s have salad and fish and hey, some raw oysters, and then follow it up with cream-based alcoholic beverages!  Sounds like a plan!  That combination is never a great idea, but it’s especially stupid when you have a race the next day. I woke up this morning at 6:15 seriously wondering if I would be able to run.  I could, and I did, but I wasn’t sure I’d feel well enough until I actually started running.  (I feel much better now.)

Today was the Across the Bay 10K, the race where about 30,000 runners cross the Chesapeake Bay, taking over one of the two spans of the Bay Bridge.  It’s nuts.  We were afraid it would be windy and chilly, but it was sunny and warm-ish, so yay for that.  The logistics were a nightmare: park at the stadium (we jogged there, since it’s only a little over a mile from our place), wait in line to get on a school bus to get to the start line. Run the race, finish on the eastern shore, and get on another school bus to bring us back to the stadium.  Since the eastbound span of the bridge is closed (until 2pm), the westbound span is handling two-way traffic, and it took forever to get back over the bay.  We got off the bus at the stadium and still had to walk over a mile to get back home.

We stopped for brunch at the Irish pub (John had corned beef hash, I had the andouille quiche), and we just got home, and I really want to take a shower.  So, you know, there I go.

Falling down laughing

I follow The Bloggess on Twitter (@thebloggess) and I have never been happier that I do than this week.  It started on Sunday, as we were traveling back from Oregon.  You may have heard about it – this showed up on Buzzfeed AND in the New York Times.  I’ll let The Bloggess tell you about it, but I’ve been reading these tweets since Sunday (and re-reading some of them over the last day or two).  I was giggling in the airport, chuckling while the plane was on the tarmac, laughing in the next airport, and I stayed up way too late after we got back (which was late to begin with) practically crying while reading them in bed.  Some of them were so funny I couldn’t read them out loud to John through the laughter.  I think they have a cumulative effect – they get funnier the more you read at one time.

A couple bunch of my favorites (that I actually favorited on Twitter so I could read them again):

funny tweet2 funny tweet1 funny tweets funny tweet3

Then there was one that I thought I favorited in Twitter, but I can’t find it, so I’ll paraphrase.  “My brother called me in a panic because he couldn’t find his phone.  I said, what did you call me on?  He hung up.”

Anyway, The Bloggess has two posts about them, and she reposted a TON of them, so you can enjoy them, too!

Post 1 and Post 2

I HAVE to remember to take pictures

This morning, I saw a guy running across the bridge with his dog.  Not unusual.  His dog was carrying a stick.  Not unusual.  The stick was as long as I am tall, and the dog was carrying it sideways on a narrow sidewalk.  Unusual.  And hilarious.  And John was right in front of me and DIDN’T NOTICE.  He needs to look around more.

Later, I was walking back from coffee with Jess, and I noticed a guy smoking.  I mean, HE was smoking.  No, I mean, smoke was BILLOWING out of his mouth and hovering in a big white cloud behind him.  I’m sure there was a cigarette (or a giant torch) or something involved (there must have been, right?  He’s not a chimney.), but he was at the far end of the block and I couldn’t see it.  Just the smoke.  Coming out of his mouth.  Oh my god – he’s a dragon.  I missed my opportunity to meet a dragon!  Damn it.

The dark is rising

My least favorite part about winter is already here: the dark.  The sun is still coming up at a reasonable hour (for now), but it gets dark so early in the evening!  It’s barely 6pm, and I feel like I should be going to bed.  (I am not a night owl.)  I think I need a sun lamp.

Ooh, speaking of the sun (or brightness, at least), I got the picture I was hoping to get.  A few weeks ago, I noticed a view of St. Mary’s I really liked (from the drawbridge over the creek), but all the trees were still so green (I say it like it’s a bad thing – it’s not!  I love it when the trees are all green.).  I thought it might be a nice picture to get once the leaves started to turn.  Then we planned our trip to Oregon, and I was sure I was going to miss it, that by the time we got back, all the leaves would be gone.  Not so!


Then I took a wider shot – look at that sky!


I love September and October skies.  (I know it’s November, but November doesn’t have skies like that.  Don’t tell anyone.)

Need more memory

One of the downsides to e-books is that there’s no cover.  You can’t read the blurbs from other others.  You can’t read the back cover of the book (or the inside flap of the dust jacket) to see what it’s about.  Where you bought it from (like Amazon or wherever) has a description, and I guess you could go back there to look at it, but I never do (or it’s not convenient when I think about it), and that doesn’t tell me everything I need to know about why I decided to buy it.

I don’t do a lot of impulse e-book buying.  I usually get a recommendation from somewhere (a tweet, comments on someone’s blog, an actual person talking to me in actual real life), and then I add it to my Amazon wish list.  My Amazon wish list is more of a reminder list for myself, and Amazon added a feature not too long ago that lets you add comments to individual items.  I can add a book to my list and add a note that says “from Bloggess commenters” or “saw in bookstore” or “tweet from Rainbow Rowell”, and when I go back to buy it, I have some context for how it ended up on my list, and I can make the decision about whether or not buy it based on some information.

I run into a problem when I see a tweet (or whatever) where someone is recommending a book and it’s on sale. Like, some crazy-low amount ($.99 or $1.99) that I can’t resist.  When that happens, I just buy it and download it to my Kindle app.  But I’m not reading many Kindle books lately, and even if I were, I’m usually in the middle of one, so I’m not going to read this new book right away, and now I don’t have any notes on it.  Who recommended it? What sounded interesting about it?  Do I even want to read this random book with the completely unfamiliar title by an author whose name doesn’t even ring a bell?  Months later (or some period of time that is long enough for me to forget those details (an hour)), I’ll go back to my Kindle and not recognize ANY of the titles on it.  What’s “Inertia” and why did I buy it?  What’s it about?  Who told me about it?  And when it’s not good (like that one – the writing is bad and the author (and editor) should feel bad), I would really like to know how I heard about it because just maybe I won’t trust that person’s recommendations anymore.  Unfortunately, that information (which existed only fleetingly in my brain to begin with) is gone forever.

This latest experience with that one book (and the sequel that I bought and read ANYWAY) might teach me to use on my many note/list apps and try to keep better track.  It’s (sadly) too late for the books that are sitting on my Kindle right now.


We are home again!  And contrary to my expectations, I don’t think I’m jet-lagged.  It was about 2am when I fell asleep, and I got up at 8 to start working.  I was tired this morning, but no more than the usual amount after being up so late.  And now I feel fine.  I’m sure you’ll sleep better tonight knowing that I’m not jet-lagged.  You’re welcome.

No excitement on the way home, which was nice.  I still had the middle seat of three on the flight from Portland to Chicago, but the guy on the aisle kept to himself, right up until the plane landed.  He looked over, shook my hand, and said, “It was nice chatting with you.”  Great guy.

Finally tried Dutch Bros. coffee on our way to the airport – that stuff is pretty good.  I’m not sure we did anything else particularly Oregonian…barely even dressed up for Halloween, not that that has anything to do with Oregon, although the people in Will and Christina’s town certainly went all out.  The guy who won the costume contest was dressed as Edward Scissorhands, and the runner-up was David the Gnome (or maybe she was the Travelocity gnome – I don’t think she told us).  There were some Day of the Dead zombies, a hippy, a guy wearing the big yellow construction thing Ripley wears as armor in Aliens, a viking, Thor, and a couple of swing-dancing steampunk fairies who made their very cool metal wings themselves.  John wore a Superman shirt with a cape, and I wore my new TARDIS hoodie.  Not all that Halloween-y, but who cares when you’re really there to see the band?

The band (the Elena Leona Project) played three nights in a row, including Halloween, and they are pretty darn good.  I have video, but I’ve given them to Elena to post on YouTube on her channel if she wants to.  (The sound from my phone is pretty terrible, so she might not.)  I’ll provide links if she does.  John had a great time (and I did, too, at all three gigs), but I think the Halloween one was the most fun.  People danced!  Yay the band!  Details later.  Different post.

Who needs normal? What IS normal?

I know that Portland is supposed to be weird (I’ve seen Portlandia), but I hadn’t really heard that about the rest of the state.  I suppose it stands to reason that everywhere else might be a bit quirky.  That was confirmed one of our first mornings here.  We went to Eugene for breakfast (Off the Waffle) and to check out the area, and on our walk from the car to the restaurant, we passed a street musician playing the recorder.  That’s a little weird (you don’t see a lot of recorder-players around DC), but not totally off the wall.  The guy had a little animal crate next to him and a double pet dish with food and water in front of his feet, and a CAT eating out of the dish.  No leash or anything.  Just a cat eating at the feet of a dude playing the recorder on the sidewalk in downtown Eugene.

I like Eugene.

It’s educational, too!

Things I learned in Oregon:

  1. Willamette is not pronounced the way I thought it was.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve been saying it wrong my whole life, but only because it only came to my notice a few years ago.  Looks like Will-uh-METT, right?  Yeah, noooo.  It’s Will-LAM-it.  Like, going on the lam.  Or Mary had a little lamb.  Sounds mildly ridiculous, but it’s growing on me.
  2. The reason blender lids have that center plastic piece that comes out is so you can pour things in while the blender is running.  I never knew.  If I put any thought into it at all, I would have assumed it came out to make the lid easier to clean.  I watched Christina make a basil/vinegar/other stuff blend for pasta salad the other night, and my mind was blown when she poured olive oil in through the lid.
  3. Patty-cake is NOT allowed on beaches in Oregon. 2015-10-28 12.32.06
  4. Waves are tricksy beings and like to creep up behind people, splash them a little, and run away cackling. 2015-10-28 12.31.50

Come on, Oregon, now you’re showing off

2015-10-28 13.32.01

On Wednesday, John and I decided to head to the coast and sight-see (and give Will and Christina a day free of house guests), and I may have fallen into a beautiful scenery hole.  I don’t know if I can get out.  It’s almost overwhelming.  The road we were on to get there took us through the mountains and along a river and then there was a lake (with the trees on the mountain going right down to the edge of the water and the water was like glass and the trees were perfectly reflected) and oh, hey some elk (elks?) and it was SO beautiful.  I didn’t get any pictures of that section because I was driving and there was nowhere to turn off, but then we turned south onto 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway!!) and aimed for Coos Bay.  We went to a state park Brian (who used to live there) recommended and BAM.  There was the Pacific Ocean.  It’s been a long time since we last saw it, but hey!  It’s still there.

2015-10-28 12.34.45

There was a trail along the top of the coastal cliffs – I could have stayed up there all day.

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2015-10-28 12.37.07

Thursday morning, Will took us running along a trail that runs next to a lake near his house, and really – how do you expect me to run in a straight line when I’m craning my neck in every direction to look at the lake and the trees and the mountains and oh look! there’s a house nestled in there and wouldn’t it be great to live in that house?

Will has done his job – we’re convinced.

The whole state is in on it

We know that it rains in Oregon.  That’s, like, part of the definition of Oregon, right?  It rains.  And supposedly, it rains from any-day-now until…June?  July?  Most of the year, anyway.  We headed out this way fully expecting to deal with a week of rain, and yeah, our first full day here (Sunday) was mostly rainy, but Monday was perfect.  It’s like Oregon is trying to convince us to move here, too.

I mean, who could resist this?

2015-10-26 09.08.19

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2015-10-26 11.52.22

I think I could live in Eugene

Today, I had a waffle with spinach and goat cheese and strawberries and carmelized onions and some sort of balsamic reduction on top.  It was SO GOOD.  And I had lots of coffee and I had beer from a local brewery and we went to Hayward Field and stood on the track and it was a really nice day and did I mention I had lots of coffee?

Pictures later.  Not of the coffee.

Rhapsodic about cucumbers

Cucumbers are a wonderful thing.  I mean, they’re not as great as avocados (let’s not get crazy here), but they make other foods better.  I’ve been slicing cucumbers onto my sandwiches all week, and the other night I added cucumber to a caesar salad.  So good, so crunchy, so FRESH!  A cucumber slice in water is delicious and light (and THAT I would never do to an acovado).

I sound like a morning talk show personality.  I should stop now before I start in with the cucumber-related beauty tips.

Jet lag?

I can never remember which direction you have to travel for jet lag to really be a thing, but I think it might not be the direction we went.  Let me think this through.  We flew from Annapolis to Oregon, east to west…when we go to Europe, we’re jet-lagged at the beginning of the trip, not the end…that trip is west to east, so yeah.  Going to Oregon should not have caused jet lag, and as much as I would like to blame the exhaustion I felt over the weekend on jet lag, I’m pretty sure that’s not right.  I’ll just blame a long travel day, followed by a late night (we went to bed around 3am (personal time) after getting up at 5am).  Eight hours of sleep later, I spent all of Sunday fighting my drooping eyelids.

Will and Christina’s kids are adorable.  I just listened to Christina read them a bedtime story that included chanting “Part-y!  Part-y!”, so there’s no telling when they’ll actually sleep, but it was really cute.

Here’s hoping I’m back to my normal level of alertness (whatever that is) tomorrow.

Everything is a risk

*Continued from previous post.

Aren’t we (the collective we) always taking our lives in our hands?  Aren’t our lives always in our own hands, in one sense or another?  Every little thing we do has a risk associated with it, but we choose to do those things despite the risks (and, of course, we mitigate those risks where we can).

  • We got on a plane to fly across the country.  The plane could have crashed for any number of reasons.
  • Speaking of flying, John is learning to pilot small planes.  He’s not experienced, and even with an instructor there with him, he could crash.
  • I ate a sandwich – I could have choked on it.
  • I went down into the basement to get the laundry – I could have fallen down the stairs.
  • I went for a run – I could have had a heart attack or been hit by a car or been pushed over the rail of the bridge.
  • I went outside to meet Jess for coffee – I could have had a satellite fall on my head.  A rabid dog could have bitten me.  A rabid squirrel could have bitten me.
  • I let a stranger make me coffee (well, I paid her to make me coffee) – the lady at the coffee shop could have poisoned me (although that would be bad for business).
  • I washed dishes in the sink – the electrical cable from the electric kettle could fall into the running water and electrocute me.

Afraid as I am that The Big One will hit the Pacific Northwest while we’re there, I don’t think I can let that stop me from going.  That feels like the first step towards hiding in my room, curtains drawn, locking myself in and the rest of the world out.

Actually afraid

I don’t think I spend my life being afraid of things, sometimes even when I should (how was I not terrified floating around in the Persian Gulf during active conflicts when I was in the Navy?).  I don’t lose sleep worrying about the next tornado or hurricane or earthquake or mudslide, and I didn’t even when I lived closer to tornado country (I remember plenty of tornado watches and warnings in Kentucky).

Then I read this New Yorker article.

John and I are considering moving to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Oregon have been on the list since the beginning), certainly for a few months, and possibly for good (if we love it), but this article (more specifically, its discussion of imminent disaster and death by earthquake and/or tsunami) has seriously freaked me out.  I want everyone west of the 5 to move.  Immediately, please, since this could happen ANY MINUTE NOW.  We are taking our lives in our hands* visiting this part of the country.  If we survive this trip, well, I really don’t know if that will have any bearing on our decision to make the move later (other than that we’ll be alive to make that decision).  Surviving this trip just means it hasn’t happened yet and is more likely to happen when/if we come back.

*See next post.


Today, when I say overweight, I’m referring to John’s suitcase.  He’s playing superhero, right?  Well, Captain Wammy has a lot of gear, and it all needs to fit in a suitcase to get to Oregon.  He just filled his suitcase and stepped on the scale – so far, it’s under 50 lbs, but I’m not sure it’ll stay that way.  He’s using a suitcase that’s heavier to begin with, but that’s because it’s also sturdier.  It would suck if his stuff got damaged because something gigantic smashed one of the flimsier suitcases.  I have a feeling my suitcase is going to get filled with various electronic gadgets.

Oh, I’m a sidekick!  Captain Wammy and The Uke, appearing in the nick of time to keep bands from having to cancel gigs at the last minute!

Other sidekick names (I’m trying them out in my head, like “Captain Wammy and….”, even though I don’t think John would be pleased with Captain Wammy.  Greg is hilarious, though, and I like it.):

  • The Voice
  • The Whisper
  • The Diva
  • Strum
  • Hum
  • Fingers McGee
  • Butterfingers
  • Ivory

John to the rescue!

I can’t believe I haven’t told you John’s super-exciting news.  Remember Will, who was the drummer in the band that used to practice in our basement (when we had a basement)?  Well, Will and his family moved to Oregon a couple of years ago, and Will joined a band (The Elena Leona Project).  That band has three gigs next week, and they fired their guitarist last week, and so John is flying to Oregon this weekend to be their guitarist for all three gigs.  Because they want him to, because he can, and because it’s cool.  Everyone involved is very excited.

(I’m going too, of course.  Why wouldn’t I?)

John needs a superhero name, and it needs to be guitar-related.  Ideas:

  • Capo-man
  • Strat-man
  • Strat-ster
  • The Strat
  • Strings
  • The Axe
  • Captain Strat
  • Captain Guitar
  • Fender-man
  • The Amplifier
  • Wammy Bar

Those are terrible.  I’ll keep working on it.  In Oregon!

Update: John says I should take this post down before everyone knows his secret identity.

Annapolis Boat Show

Apparently (or at least according to their web site), the Annapolis Boat Shows are the largest (and oldest!) in-water boat shows in the country.  So….that’s cool, I guess?  We’re not boat people, but we like boats just fine.  One weekend was the sailboat show, and the next weekend was the power boat show, and we figured we’re slightly more interested in sailboats, so if we were going to go to one of them, it would be the sailboat show.  And really, we’re probably never going to live in Annapolis again, so it would be silly not to go while we’re here.  We gathered up Molly (Welcome to Annapolis, Molly!  Let’s go look at boats!) and Jess and spent a couple of hours wandering the floating docks, exploring boats, and trying to imagine what it would be like to live on one (or at least go to sea for a while on one).  The short answer is that not one of us would be happy living on a boat.  Molly would get seasick, Jess just doesn’t like boats, I don’t want to spend that much time on the water, and John wouldn’t fit comfortably (not even on the big ones).

Here’s what I learned:

  1. The nets that go across the front of the catamarans are awfully comfortable.
  2. I would be perfectly happy with a floating dock.  I don’t need a boat.  The rocking motion of a floating dock is all I need.

The biggest downside to having the boat show in town for two weeks was that we couldn’t get to the docks at all (without buying a ticket).  There was a big fence around the whole area, covered with ads and posters, and you couldn’t see the water at all.  Monday was the first day it was all gone, and it’s such a relief.  It’s hardly a big open area, but the fence and all the boats made it seem so claustrophobic.  It’s easier to breathe now that they’re gone.


Our day at the boat show was a beautiful day, though.

Howling at…the moon? Howling at something

(John and I split a bottle of wine at dinner tonight (Today is his birthday!), so please forgive any typos.  Or rambling.  Or nonsensical rants.  But I’m sure there won’t be any of those.)

It’s easy to forget that our neighbor has a dog.  He’s just so quiet most of the time.  Every once in a while, we’ll hear him scrabbling across the floor (maybe playing with a ball?), but he doesn’t bark and we rarely see him outside.  (That could be because we’re rarely outside.)

We heard him all day today, though.  I don’t know what was going on over there, but this poor dog HOWLED all day.  It was adorable at first, and it inspired me to howl back.  That resulted in a minute or so of silence, when I imagined this dog staring at the wall that connects our houses with his head cocked to one side.  “Did I really hear that?  Is someone talking to me?  I didn’t quite understand it – maybe they’re from another country.”  Then he’d howl again.  And really, I’m not sure why.  Some days we have emergency vehicles rushing down the street all the time, but not today.  No ambulances, no fire engines, no police cars, no sirens of any kind.  It passed adorable (although it circled back to adorable once an hour or so) and became lonely around midday.  Why is this dog howling?  Does he miss his owners?  What makes today different?

We’re about ready to volunteer ourselves as dogsitters.  Maybe not volunteer, but we’d offer a competitive rate.