The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


I'm in. I'm not sure I can pull this off, but I'm going to try.
I do a good deal of professional writing, and the "urge" to write something (meaningful) usually comes in waves. As the wave swells, I find that I start writing more blather and babble either in a written journal or in this blog. Then the chattering slows down as I focus on whatever it is I start writing. I'm starting to feel the wave, so get ready for some blathering and babbling.

WPD2 went well. I work late on Mondays so I didn't get to the gym, but I brought lunch from home, and didn't indulge in any little "treats."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Winter PreSeason Begins Today

I went to Buffalo on Thursday for a meeting. So this is how it all went down:
Checked into hotel, given a short letter informing me that due to overcrowded dorms at Buffalo State, 100 freshman are living in the hotel for the semester.
Thursday evening reception. Boxed wine. Mediocre food.
Thursday night freshman students wake me up at 1:30 am, resounding bass line causing my bed and teeth to vibrate.
Friday morning "continental breakfast." That's code for processed carbs-- bagels, danish, scones. Buffet lunch is OK (at least there was a big slad), afternoon snack with Halloween theme-- candied apples! big candy bars in addition to the usual cookies and soda.
Friday evening dinner reception-- wine being poured from bottles, salmon dinner is actually quite good. Either students are much quieter or I am very tired because I sleep through the night.
Saturday morning repeat of continental breakfast. Weather reports warn of very high winds in the afternoon, not realizing that high winds are already causing major problems at NYC airports. Flight to LaGuardia delayed 2.5 hours, need to get home to go to cousin's wedding Saturday night, mother is beginning to worry that I am not going to make it. Plane finally takes off, after pilot apologizes for stinky rear (that's the back of the plane, not his personal rear end) because truck that sucks out the toilets was not working. Make it to LaGuardia (very bumpy ride) without having to use the facilities, make it to the wedding, realize I would not have been missed if I didn't make it because there are 270 other people there, but glad I did because the food is outstanding. Cocktail hour features both quantity and quality of a wide selction of foods, decide to spend significant time and energy on obtaining food rather than wait for large dinner to follow. Wise decision, as the vegetarian selection of eggplant rollatini was the only one that was really crappy.
Return home at 3 am (1.5 hour trip), very happy that if we have to turn back the clocks, that this is the night. Wake up, contemplate whether I really need to eat again, decide I'm not hungry, and then the epiphany!
The past few days were just an extreme example of the way things having been going for the past 2 months. The processed carbs, the bumpy ride, sometimes getting it right, other times not being able to deal with limited choices. Changing the clocks today seems the perfect opportunity to mark the beginning of a new season and the realization that making it happen will require focus and commitment. The winter means less daylight hours, more time indoors, the temptation to overindulge through the holidays. I'm hoping to start getting it right now, build in the good habits now, let some momentum build and use it to get through the winter. So I am declaring the 54 days from now until the winter solstice as the Winter Preseason.
WPD1 (Winter preseason day 1): went to the gym, felt great to lift weights! Working on cleaning up the food.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"Me" Time Part II

I'm still listening to podcasts, but I'm also reading. In my backpack (yes I commute with a backpack not a briefcase) is a copy of Get Your Own Damn Beer, I'm Watching the Game--A Woman's Guide to Loving Pro Football by Holly Robinson Peete. You know how you can listen to TV shows in Spanish by hitting the SAP button.... well I think sports should also have an alternative broadcast, for men to watch these games with their wives and girlfriends, a SFD (Sports For Dummies) button. My husband and I could do this! at least for baseball and football. He would do the play by play, and I would explain the basic rules of the game. He would also answer all the questions I ask, and of course I would ask 1) all the questions that women are afraid to ask their husbands because they don't want to look stupid and 2) all the questions women don't know to ask but knowing the answers will add to their appreciation of the game. Since this is only a fantasy, if you want to appreciate football and bond with your man on Sunday afternoons in front of the TV, then this is the book for you. The author does a great job explaining the fundamentals as well as some of the more subtle concepts. Then she throws in a little psychology, includes the proper diagrams and mixes in some football stats. This book provides a painless entry point into the mysteries of football. Your man ill be SOOOOOOO impressed when you ask him how many times the quarterback has been sacked or who usually returns the kickoff. Now of course, you have the option of never learning anything about football and getting a manicure every Sunday afternoon from September through January. There's always the mall, too, or lunch with the girls…. All good options.

I was talking about books, wasn't I. I belong to a F2F bookclub. Five of us meet once a month at the cafe in Barnes and Noble and spend 10 minutes talking about the book and about an hour talking about everything else. I always have a tall decaf latte. My friends usually drink green tea. But I digress. This month's selection is My Antonia by Willa Cather. I definitely like reading classics as well as contemporary fiction, but it is only rarely that the bookclub chooses a classic. I am savoring the opportunity. Here is a list of our more recent selections:

Will in the World- Stephen Greenblatt
The Memory Keepers Daughter—Kim Edwards
A Thread of Grace – Mary Doria Russell
The Ha-Ha –Dave King
The History of Love – Nicole Krauss
Me Talk Pretty –David Sedaris
The Covenant--Naomi Ragen
The Plot Against America – Philip Roth
Shiksa Goddess-- Wendy Wasserstein

Winter is coming, which is an opportunity to curl up on the couch with a warm fuzzy blanket and a good book. Looking for something to read? My Top 3 Picks from Bookclub 2006 are A Thread of Grace, The History of Love, and The Plot Against America.

Hmmm, I wonder if we could include book reviews in our SFD broadcast. Nah, that’s a different fantasy.

Oh, my mom is visiting and last night I watched Dancing With the Stars with her. It was awful! and I like reality TV.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Me" Time Part I

I commute into Manhattan, which offers me about 100 minutes of “me” time 4 days a week. I really do view it as “me” time. Once I get home, my time usually becomes everyone else’s time. But when I’m on the train, I can do what I want to do as long as it can be done on a train. Unfortunately the train does not have any treadmills or spinning classes. I don’t do anything unusual. Typically I select from the typical commuter activities—reading, writing, listening and watching. And occasionally conversing, but I usually don’t commute with anyone requiring more than a “hi how are you.” Even a few years ago, listening and watching were not as typical. Now the ubiquitous iPod and the becoming ubiquitous DVD player have changed that. Reading is probably my favored activity but my habits do change. During the past week I seem to be splitting my “me” time between reading and listening to podcasts.

I’m not sure what prompted me to do so, but I decided to peruse the available public radio podcasts and I subscribed to a few. I also updated some podcasts that I haven’t been listening to and unsubscribed from a few that don’t fit my present mood or are no longer being podcasted. So what am I listening to?

WNYC On the Media-- A 1-hour show devoted to media criticism and analysis.

NPR Driveway Moments—Typically from 5-15 minutes in length, rather than turn the radio off, you stay in your car to hear the piece to the end. It's a Driveway Moment.

NPR Playback-- Each month, NPR Playback combs the NPR radio archives to connect past with present. Presently reconnecting with events from 1981.

NPR World Story of the Day-- Pick 1 story from the day’s broadcasts and presents it in about 5 minutes

WBEZ American Life-- this weekly radio show on topics that aren't really news, but topics that relate to everyone's life in some way.

WGBH Morning Stories—stories that stay with you all day long, usually under 15 minutes long, personal stories told by people in the community.

KCRW The Score-- Under 5 minutes, the poetry, the sociology, the philosophy of sports.

And my only music podcast, Coverville-- Focuses on cover songs; a new rendition of a previously recorded song. The show is produced and hosted by Brian Ibbott, in his home. About 35 minutes, usually 6 songs.

(As an aside, as I type this in MS Word, spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word podcast because it’s just too new a word!).

In the last 2 days I learned that judges writing decisions often quote songwriters, with Bob Dylan being the most frequently quoted; that oboe players have to “build” and carve the reeds that their instruments use, often on a daily basis; that when the Sony Walkman came into vogue in 1981, many people thought it was a ridiculous fad that wouldn’t last. I listened to a soldier’s comments on the morality of war and an opinion on what makes Terrell Owens a complete a$$hole. I learned about a book called Hungry Planet that I have placed on reserve at my local library and I listened to some cover songs that I never would have known are covers because I never heard the “original” versions. I was entertained, enlightened, educated and reminded. Hey, not bad. Too bad I had to come to work and act stupid (hehe just kidding!!).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Apparel and Gear

This weekend has brought beautiful crisp autumn days and a couple of wonderful bike rides. Saturday was the club's fall ride and picnic and lots of folks showed up. I went on the D ride which turned out to be a mistake. It was very slow! so about half of us broke away at about the halfway point and cranked it up a bit. Today only 3 of us showed up, so again we picked up the pace a bit. A 55-mile weekend has brought me close to an 800-mile season. I know there are lots of people who have rideen far more miles than that, but I think it's pretty damn good!

Yesterday morning it was in the high 40s when we headed out. I was a little cold when we got started but I warmed up very quickly and quite enjoyed the ride. It made me realize that with the proper clothes and gear, I can ride my bike through November. So last night I tried to figure out what I have and what I need to ride in the cool/cold weather. I have capri length padded tights, which were perfect this weekend, and I ordered another pair. I really want full-length tights, but every pair I have tried are too long. I bought the pair with the longest inseam, thinking that these "capris" will probably fit mini-me like full-length tights. I considered leg warmers, but I think I will be more comfortable in tights. I also used my toe covers yesterday. Someone asked me if they work, and I guess they must because my feet weren't at all cold and hers were.
I must admit that I am a gear head, and I love checking out catalogs and building wishlists.
Here are a few items I simply "must have" if I am going to keep cycling in the colder weather. Gloves of course, pink ones, and an ear warming headband to wear under my helmet. Should I stay with pink?
Having the right gear and apparel can really cost a bundle. I have definitely seen cyclists at both ends of the spectrum. Some invest thousands of dollars in a bicycle, and then spend a small fortune on shoes, jerseys, jackets, sunglasses and finding the right power bar. Then there are riders on 20+ year old bikes wearing old sneakers, older gym shorts, and the oldest T-shirt available. I'd like to think I fall someone in the middle (as I usually do). I plan to purchase a new bike before next season, and I consider padded shorts, wicking clothing and pedals/cleats as essentials. Staying warm is important too, hence the toe covers, gloves, and headband. Beyond that, this is what I do, I work hard at it, its done me good and I want to look good while I'm doing it. Spending money on cycling clothes makes me feel good and keeps me in the game. Now, where did I put that Terry catalog?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Two Wishes

September ended with a whimper. A combination of minor surgery and the Jewish holidays forced me to ''lay low'' for a solid week. Now I am finding it tough to get started again. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. Inertia is keeping me from accumulating any potential energy. I am planning on making my move on Thursday, and if the weather holds up, the weekend will have opportunities as well. The club's last event of the season, the fall ride and picnic is this Saturday and my brother and I plan to hike on Sunday.

But tonight we have tix for game 2 of the ALDS, Yanks v Tigers!! It really is October and as much as I love the fall, it is bittersweet. I try to focus on the positive aspects of the coming winter (and yes there are some positives), but there is no doubt I am a summer person. It is the approaching winter that tends to make me more introverted and solitary. This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is much to be said for happily spending time with yourself and enriching your mind and your spirit. Winter is the perfect excuse for immersing yourself in “media,” for reading books, watching movies, building playlists and editing all those digital photos. What I do miss is the long hours of daylight and the ease of spending time outdoors. Even though I do make the effort and I love snowshoeing and cross country skiing, it does take more effort, not to mention snow. As much as the snow and ice are hazardous and problematic, in my mind, if you are going to have winter, you might as well have the snow to enjoy. So I have 2 wishes for the fall—that the Yankees become World Champions and that the coming winter brings real snow!