Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Last year's pants

Remember when you were a kid and you grew so fast that when you put on last year's pants they
were two inches too short? Some parts of life are like last year's pants. You see yourself still living in last year's or last month's or yesterday's circumstances and it's awkwardly obvious that they no longer fit. But it can be hard to let go. Because at one point you really liked those pants. And maybe you feel a little sad about outgrowing them. Even though they were kind of itchy sometimes and that started to get annoying. Still, you had some good times in those pants. But it's a big world filled with all kinds of pants. The sooner you let go of what no longer fits you, the sooner you can find what does. And you will. But it might take a bit of work and it may be a little uncomfortable. So here's the important part: don't go back. It can be tempting to reach for those comfortable old pants. But they're not really doing anything for you. You can appreciate their presence in your past while also letting them go so they don't clutter up your future. So let go of the pants. Where you're going you don't need pants.

Lyric of the moment: "Don't you know life's a feeling. But without you it's nothing...A road might take me away, but it's sure enough to bring me home, baby. Tuesday's coming. And I'm not gonna leave you here, darling..." ~O.A.R "Dareh Meyod" (Because it's one of those songs that makes me miss everyone I ever knew)

Monday, September 28, 2015

This is marriage: Day 22

We are standing in the bathroom. Pete has a flashlight in one hand and pliers in the other. He shines the light in my mouth and uses the pliers to fix the wire that has come loose on my braces. He says something like "I just did orthodontic work in your mouth." And I say something like "What's that going to cost me, about $500?" We laugh.

Later we eat grape pie.

Marriage is funny.

Lyric of the moment: "Always remember there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name..." ~The Avett Brothers "Murder in the City"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Kitchen shenanigans

Last night I was home alone. And things were happening. In my kitchen of all places. Things like two pans of vegetables roasting in the oven and a pot of potatoes boiling on the stove. And the smoke detector, with its weird mix of urgency and apathy, alternating between ear-piercing beeping and a deadpan voice saying "fire." Pigs were flying and Hell was freezing over, because I was cooking.

Pete was out of town so I had picked up our CSA share for the week. So then I had all these vegetables and I decided I should probably do something with at least some of them. But I don't like cooking. It's messy. And it's a lot of effort for something I couldn't care less about. Let's be honest, I have the taste buds of a 5 year old. I'd be perfectly content to eat cereal or peanut butter and banana sandwiches for every meal. Plus I think food just tastes better when someone else makes it while I'm in the shower after a run. Which is what usually happens on Tuesday nights when Pete is here. Because he is awesome like that.

But I had gone to 5am Fit1 Tuesday morning and I was running Monday and Wednesday mornings this week instead of Tuesday and Thursday nights, so Tuesday night it was just me vs. the vegetables. I put the cabbage far, far away. Because cabbage is gross and smelly and I just cannot even. But broccoli, carrots and tomatoes, that I can do. So I cut them up, tossed them with olive oil and salt, and roasted them in the oven. Then I decided to make smashed potatoes, which is the lazy way of making mashed potatoes. Some people get all fancy with their mixers and their peeling of the potatoes. But I don't have time for that. Also, I don't have a mixer or a peeler. Plus I think there are a lot of nutrients in potato skins. So yeah, let's go with that. I'm doing it for the nutrients, not because I don't feel like peeling things. Science! So I boiled the potatoes. (Let's skip over the part where I put too much water in the pot and then it was spilling out when I put the potatoes in so I had to dump some of it in the sink). And then mashed them with a masher. And then I thought I should probably add some liquid or something. I didn't have any milk, but I did have sour cream for some reason, probably something burrito related. So I used that instead. It was a good choice.

The fire alarm went off somewhere in the middle of all this, though I don't know why because nothing was on fire. I know, surprising isn't it? And I was all like, look at me, cooking AND testing the smoke detectors to make sure they work. I'm really winning at domesticity tonight! Whoa, slow down. Let's not make this a habit or anything. Undomesticated 4 Eva!

So I cooked vegetables and they were good and nothing burned down. Great success. But then there were all these dishes, which I had to clean before I could eat. Because I can't stand dishes just lying around being all dirty up in my space. By then it was already 6pm and that seemed like a lot more effort than cereal. So I ate the vegetables, then decided to reward myself for a job well done by going to get frozen yogurt.

Lessons learned:

*Roasted tomatoes and broccoli are yummy.
*Smashing potatoes is fun.
*Cooking is the hard way of getting food into your mouth. Outsource this as much as possible.
*Smoke detectors are too sensitive and really bring down the party.

Lyric of the moment: "I wanna taste love and pain, wanna feel pride and shame. I don't wanna take my time, don't wanna waste one line. I wanna live better days. Never look back and say, could have been me it could have been me..." ~The Struts "Could have been me"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Lingual Braces. AKA the mini metal army of misery

It is only day 5 of having lingual braces and I am already regretting it. My mouth hurts. I have a weird lisp. I can't chew anything. My tongue is about to report me to OSHA for hazardous working conditions because every time it tries to move it smashes up against sharp metal objects and it's becoming quite irritated by the whole ordeal. And this is just the start. So far, I only have the braces on the back of my bottom teeth. In a couple weeks I have to go back to get the top ones installed. Happy Happy Joy Joy (sarcasm explosion).

I must point out that my annoyance is only at myself and not at the architects of the metal misery mechanisms in my mouth. Comella Orthodontics is the friendliest, most welcoming office I've ever been to. And I've been around the orthodontia block before. If you're going to let anyone poke around in your mouth and cement tiny metal torture devices there, they're the ones you want to do it. They even sent Pete and I a congratulations card after the wedding. And getting the braces installed was one of the more, shall we say, interesting experiences of my life. I was originally supposed to go in on the 23rd but they called and asked if I could go in on the 14th instead and offered me a $200 discount. My desire to procrastinate at getting braces indefinitely was trumped by my desire to save $200 so I agreed. I did sort of wonder why they were giving me $200 but I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. (I have never really understood that expression but it seems appropriate here). When I arrived, I filled out the paperwork, forked over far more than $200 and then the receptionist said "Go on back, they're all waiting for you!" Um, all?! What? Who? Apparently, this was some kind of teaching exercise and dental professionals had flown in from as far away as Colorado to stare at my mouth as it was invaded by a miniature metal army that would destroy my dreams of eating bagels and pizza. So the braces got put on. Everyone was very excited by the whole process. Except me. I was just like what is happening here? Sand is in my mouth, they are shining lights on my teeth, everyone wants to be the one who takes off the plastic holder once the braces are put in place, it's all very confusing. But evidently I was a model patient because they were all like "You're doing great, I hope my first patient is as good as you are." The things I will do for $200, man.

So anyway, nothing against the orthodontists, they are great. My sense of regret comes from wondering if I made the wrong choice or made the choice for the wrong reasons. My teeth were not straight, but they were functional. Now they are becoming straighter but they are not very functional. And I know eventually they will be both straight and functional. But am I subjecting my mouth to a year and half of suffering because someone else pointed out a flaw I hadn't noticed but then felt compelled to fix for fear that it would only get worse? Am I allowing myself to be confined by other peoples' opinions, however professional, instead of choosing the path of authenticity and freedom? I am torn between wanting self-improvement and wanting to just be happy with who I am and how I look. I still want to be the best possible version of me. The key word being me. Not others' expectations or opinions of how I should be. I don't know. All I know is that I just really, really want to eat a bagel right now. And pizza. All the pizza. And I can't. And that is making me sad. Pizza, I pine for you.

Lyric of the moment: "It's ok, it's alright, nothing's wrong. Tell Mr. Man with impossible plans to just leave me alone. In the place where I make no mistakes. In the place where I have what it takes..." ~Elliott Smith "Waltz #2 (XO)"

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ossian Mountain Run 2015

Saturday morning, standing in the rain with goosebumps from the dampness and chill, waiting around to run uphill for 8 miles, I wondered why I had signed up for this race. But of course I knew why I had signed up for this race. It sounded hard. And the hard things are the most worth doing.

Thanks to Sheila for the photos above and below.
The Ossian Mountain Run takes place on some beautiful single track trails around the ski resort in Swain, NY (though I use the term resort loosely. It looked more like a ghost town). It's a 4 mile loop on some sweet mountain bike trails and you have the choice to run it once or twice. I did the 8 mile race. Because the only thing better than 4 miles of hills is 8 miles of hills. Or something like that.

Infinity of thanks to the Valones for driving us to the race and to Jeff for running with me and giving me chocolate milk afterwards. Waiting at the start, looking around at everyone else who showed up to run this race, all of them much better runners than I am, I felt like I was probably in over my head. But that has never stopped me before. Plus at that point I just wanted to start running so I could get warm. We started uphill, of course. There was a lot of steep uphill and steep downhill, the kind where you just have to keep going and hope for the best because you couldn't stop if you tried. The trails were slick with mud and I felt like I was an injury waiting to happen. But luckily I didn't fall at all. There were more than a few close calls, but no actual falls.

For most of the first loop, Jeff and I ran with Eric, who was doing the 4 mile in his triumphant return  to racing after an injury. I can't recall a single local race where Eric and Sheila weren't either race directing or spectating/volunteering so it was nice to see Eric get a chance to be on the running side of things again. I think it took us about an hour to complete the first loop. I was just happy we hadn't gotten lapped by the winner. Jeff and I headed back out for the second loop, knowing the steep, slippery descents that awaited us but trying not to think about it. Despite being slow and feeling bad for holding Jeff back, I was having a great time. The weather was perfect for running. My legs felt heavy at first and I got a side stitch but I just took a salt tab and thought eh, better here than at Water Gap 50K next month. Once I got warmed up, my legs and stomach felt fine. We were having fun running through the mud, chatting and appreciating the stellar views and mostly just trying to stay upright.

Finish photo by the legendary Valone. I sat in his Subaru.
Race Director Andy had said something before the race about how the secret to mountain biking is to "fully commit or die." I think that's the secret to most things in life. You can't let your fear - of failure or embarrassment or faceplanting - hold you back. Sometimes you just have to take the leap and trust your feet to find their way. Sometimes when you go over that hill you will find that it is actually a bike jump and there is 4 feet of nothing between you and the ground. Sometimes you will forget that and do the same thing on the second loop. It's all part of the adventure.

I was nervous for this race and probably for good reason. I'm okay at uphills but far too hesitant on the downhills. I'm working on it though. I'm trying to trust that my limbs will find the way. Only sometimes it's hard to trust my limbs because they're always bruised and I'm still not sure what kind of trouble they get into while I'm sleeping. But I got to run some awesomely slippery and scenic trails and all my bones stayed on the inside where I like them, so there's that. And there's no better way to spend a Saturday morning than at a good race with good company, with chocolate milk in one hand and a cookie in the other.

Lyric of the moment: "Out there's a world that calls for me. Heading out into the unknown. Wayfaring strangers and all kinds of danger. Please don't say I'm going alone. To the ends of the earth would you follow me? There's a world that was meant for our eyes to see..." ~Lord Huron "Ends of the Earth"

Friday, September 11, 2015


I've noticed that when I'm stressed out or worried about something it's because I'm holding on to things that I don't need, be it fear, my own or others' expectations or the idea that I "should" be or feel a certain way. And when I relax and let go of those things, the stress and worry dissipate and I get back to the place where I trust that everything will work out and life will continue its arc towards maximum awesomeness. I like to spend as much time as I can in that place.

For a while I was stuck on this idea that Pete and I needed to find a house before we got married because it would be weird to be married and still going back and forth between our two houses. It looked like things were working out. We made an offer on a beautiful house the day before our wedding. But there were two other offers and we didn't get the house. So the search continues. And maybe it is weird. But I am weird. And oddly, it has always worked out pretty well for me. I really loved that house, but I didn't feel that disappointed when we didn't get it. It's not the house that makes the home, it's the people in it. I can be happy living anywhere. Because if you're at home in yourself, everywhere you go is home.

Lyric of the moment: "I'll follow you into the park, through the jungle, through the dark. I've never loved one like you. Moats and boats and waterfalls, alley ways and pay phone calls. I've been everywhere with you. We laugh until we think we'll die, barefoot on a summer night. Never could be sweeter than with you. And in the streets we're running free, like i's only you and me. Geez, you're something to see. Ahh, home, let me come home. Home is wherever I'm with you..." ~Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros "Home"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Notes to self: life lessons

Things to always make time for:
  • People
  • Running (or yoga, SUP, strength training, etc. Just move.)
  • Adventure
  • Reading
  • Ice cream

Things you might think you need but you don't need:
  • Closure
  • Everyone to like you

Things that might seem like a good idea but aren't:
  • Strapless dresses (So cute and yet, never ever worth the constant pulling up/readjusting. Straps = ease + comfort. Straps are your friend.)
  • Eyebrow waxing (It hurts. And then your face still looks exactly the same.)

Things that might seem like a bad idea but aren't:
  • One more hill

How to choose when both options are bad:
  • Chose the side of reason. Choose the side that isn't forcing you to choose sides. Make the choice that gets you closer to being the person you want to be.

How to choose when both options are good:
  • Choose both. Like getting married but still living part of the time with your awesome roommate until you and your husband find a new house. But don't accidentally almost flash your roommate because you forgot your bathrobe when exiting the bathroom. Um yeah, don't do that. Again.

  • It is hard to climb a tree while wearing a dress. Unless you are wearing shorts under the dress. It is a good idea to think of latter before doing the former.

Lyric of the moment: "And oh my love remind me, what was it that I said? I can't help but pull the earth around me, to make my bed. And oh my love remind me, what was it that I did? Did I drink too much? Am I losing touch? Did I build this ship to wreck?" ~Florence + The Machine "Ship to Wreck"

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

That time I got married

I didn't think I'd ever get married, and I probably wouldn't have if I hadn't met Pete. When I was younger I never dreamed about weddings. I dreamed of becoming independently wealthy. But life is funny. On Memorial Day weekend, Pete asked me to marry him and on Labor Day weekend I did. And on our wedding day, looking around at all the wonderful and amazing people who came to celebrate the occasion with us, I felt like the richest person in the world.

There are no words that can fully express the enormity of my incredulity that this day was even possible nor my gratitude that it was. And even though it was hot as balls and I look terrible in all the pictures and the officiant said "Pete and Joe" at one point before correcting it to "Pete and Jen" (and wrote 9/6/5 as the date on our marriage certificate. Yes, it has only felt like a few days to me too, but apparently we have been married since the year 5), the wedding was everything we wanted it to be. We played catch, we walked on stilts, we ate BBQ and cake and cookies, we danced for 3 hours, we laughed and hugged and made the best of a sweaty situation.

We didn't do a lot of the traditional things everyone does. We didn't spend a lot of money. I didn't wear makeup or diamonds or have a bouquet. My dress came from Macy's and cost $100. I got my hair done at the HairZoo. I spent the day before our wedding and the morning of our wedding running instead of doing whatever it is normal brides do. We didn't have a photographer or a DJ or a seating chart or a limo or bridesmaids/groomsmen. Pete saw me in my dress before the ceremony. The ceremony was literally five minutes long. But it was a beautiful day with some of the best humans I know and it was a perfect start to our adventures in marriage.

The pictures don't do it justice, but here are some of them. If I am making weird faces in all of them, it's only because I could not stop laughing/smiling the entire day. Thank you to all our friends and family for the photos. 

All the thank yous in the universe to my family and friends. I was truly humbled and overwhelmed by your generosity and well wishes and I am eternally grateful for your presence in my life. I am infinitely better for having known you. Meaningful relationships are the true riches of life. And I am the luckiest because I have all of you in mine.

Lyric of the moment: "For all the places I have been, I'm no place without you..." ~Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness "Cecilia and the Satellite"

Friday, September 4, 2015

Impossible things before breakfast

Excitement is reaching critical levels. I fear an explosion may be imminent. That is not even hyperbole. I woke up to inexplicable leg bruises and a weird spot of blood on my pillowcase. It is possible I am quite literally bursting with excitement. Every day I am doing things I never thought I could do. 5am backwards spider crawls and running for hours in the woods and shared bank accounts and being in a wedding. Like IN it, in it. Not just the supporting cast. This is my life now and it is everything I ever wanted and more. I am the strongest and luckiest and happiest I've ever been. And it's because of you. Your innate awesomeness has enriched my life beyond measure and I am eternally grateful to have met you on this little blue planet spinning 'round the sun.

There is a line in Alice in Wonderland where the Queen says "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." And I always wish it said "Sometimes I've done as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Because why are we here if not to chase our wildest, most impossible dreams and make them possible?

A lot of things are still uncertain. Where Pete and I are going to live, for one. But I'm not going to worry about it. Life is uncertain. Just enjoy the ride and make the best of it and eventually everything will work out. Or something like that. It's not where I spend the rest of my life that matters, it's who I spend it with and what I spend it doing. So hopefully I'll be spending it with Pete and all of you and getting up to so many impossible adventures.

Lyric of the moment: "You are the best thing, you are the best thing, you are the best thing, ever happened to me..." ~Ray LaMontagne "You Are The Best Thing"