The Great Grout Debate of 2011

Even though I haven't been using it lately, I really do love my kitchen.

On--or around--this date in 2008, I had just completed kitchen demolition and was finding out some of the secrets my 100+ year-old house was hiding.

And even though sometimes I do long for a new house project, I'm really glad my kitchen is done. A few weeks ago I helped AP and her husband tile their kitchen. It wasn't so much that they asked me to help them, but more that I begged them to let me take control of their project (thanks, AP). And it was a good day, a good project, but it's really darn good to have a kitchen that is all done all right (right, AP?).


Check that one off the list

It's been one week since I ran the Boston Marathon and I've spent the past week eating and sleeping. Seriously. Every time I run a race, I somehow always seem to forget the physical toll it takes on the body, namely that I become absolutely ravenous and cannot eat enough for at least a week and a half and I need to sleep more hours in a day  than a newborn. Suffice it to say, I'm still hungry and am also ready for bed. But I'm going to stay awake long enough to write this post. A post all about the once-in-my-lifetime race.

It was an amazing experience. Incredible. If you ever have the chance to participate in it (stop laughing hysterically, someday you might, you never know), here are some of the things you should do:
  • First, look around at everyone and realize holy crap! They are all really fast runners.
  • Then look at yourself and realize holy crap! You are one of those really fast runners.
  • When they tell you to pack layers for the 3+ hours you'll be spending in the athletes' village waiting for the race to start, believe them. It is cold, even if it's sunny. Pack a sleeping bag, bring a coat, pray for good weather, no wind, and trust in your ability to make friends with strangers (or that you meet up with people you actually know).
  • Slow down. It will be really hard to do that, but you've got to do it. You're going down hill with a few thousand of the world's fastest runners and just as many people cheering you on the sidelines. It's really easy to get caught up in the adrenaline rush, but don't.
  • Run on the edge of the street and slap as many hands as you can. Nearly the entire 26.2 mile route is lined with crowds of people cheering you on, extending their hands as a never ending line of high fives. I'm pretty sure I touched every kid (and a fair number of their parents) in Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, and Natick.
  • Put your name on your shirt. Yes, on the outside of your shirt, in big bold letters. I'm not going to lie, it looks a little ridiculous, but people will say your name and not wear it out. Trust me, you're going to need it. It helps give you that little boost to keep those legs moving. The overall benefit outweighs the dorkiness.
  • When you run by Wellesley College and the scream wall enjoy it. You can hear it coming for a good quarter mile. It's loud and you might have some permanent hearing loss because you ran too close to the entire student body screaming and waving signs begging you and all of the other runners to kiss them because they are Irish, or from Montana, or are an English Major, or are not your husband/boyfriend/wife/girlfriend, or are a geek, or a jock, or whatever. It's fun and man those girls can scream.
  • Heartbreak Hill is a challenge, but if you trained in Seattle, you've run much tougher hills (and if you slowed down in the beginning like I told you too, your quads won't be screaming at you as you climb it).
  • Have your parents wait for you at Chestnut Hill Drive, just past the mile 22 marker, right where the road curves and you start to head downhill into Boston (and if you don't take that advice, then run with your cell phone and try to figure out where they are while you're running. Don't panic if you think you've missed them, you haven't. There are two roads named Chestnut Hill. They are at the second one. See, there they are holding the giant fluorescent orange poster with your name on it). To them, you look like you're running really well because a) you're going down hill, b) you're at mile 22 and you're excited to see them so you speed up, and c) everyone around you looks like running zombies (don't worry at mile 26, some official photographer will take your picture during an inopportune blink and you'll like the running un-dead too, but you're not there yet. You still look good. Well, as good as you can look after torturing yourself for 22 miles).
  • Give your parents your fuel belt and anything else that you are royally annoyed with, but take a water bottle and another gel just because you might need the extra energy those last four miles (but realize soon thereafter that EVERYTHING IS COMPLETELY ANNOYING TO YOU RIGHT NOW. TAKE A SIP FROM YOUR WATER BOTTLE AND THEN THROW IT AS HARD AS YOU CAN TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, BECAUSE REALLY?! COULD IT BE ANY MORE ANNOYING?! The answer to that question is no.)
  • Don't believe "them" when they say it's all downhill after mile 21. They lie.
  • Do believe them when they say it's downhill after the Citgo sign (trust me, you won't miss the Citgo sign) at mile 24. And when you pass said Citgo sign and wonder why the crowd is 8-10 people deep and everyone is wearing Red Sox gear, it's because you're outside of Fenway Park. Look to the right, apparently it's over there. Or, you could just continue to look at the Citgo sign to the left and mutter a few curse words about that "downhill" you just ran up (those liars)! And then keep wondering for the next two miles when you're going to see Fenway Park.
  • Remember to keep breathing. When you turn on to Boylston and are within blocks of the finish line and you start to hyperventilate (again) because you're so overcome with emotion, and you're about to cross off a REALLY big accomplishment on your "life's list of things to accomplish," and the big crowd is cheering and calling out the name you have written in big bold letters on your shirt, and photographers are taking your picture (even in spite of the fact that you look like you just crawled out of the grave), and you almost start to cry, and then you realize you stopped breathing, inhale. And then exhale. And then inhale again, and keep moving.
  • Cross the finish line. Revel in the accomplishment. Try to regain your mental faculties and spend an hour trying to find your parents. And then eat. And eat and eat and eat and don't stop for at least a week and a half.


Countless miles in the making

A note from the editor/author/general boss of this blog: I actually wrote this post in advance (on my flight to NYC). WHAT?! I did something in advance? Didn’t save it for the last minute hoping to get the sweet sweet adrenaline rush of a just-in-time delivery? Who am I, right? I’m telling you this because I’ve scheduled this post to publish at the moment they fire the starter’s gun for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon. And technically speaking I’m in the seventh corral in the second wave of runners, so it’s likely that I won’t actually cross the start line for minutes from now… but you get the intent.

As I reflect back on the past seven years I’ve spent running toward today, I can’t help but think about all the things I love, hate, and tolerate about running in Seattle. And in honor of her, I offer you this, my love letter of sorts to running in the Emerald City.
Dear Seattle,
You have a lot of hills. Just when I think I’ve found a route that is flat—BAM! You throw me one steep mutha’ of a block or two. Oh, and as it turns out, all of that supposed flatness was really just a long gradual climb, thank you very much. It’s like you are the crazy smart dog owner and me the lovable but stupidly eager puppy. You hide the medicine in the food bowl, because you know it’s good for me and if I don’t know what’s coming I’ll just mindlessly devour that whole bowl, medicine and all. I fall for it every time, you saucy minx, you. I will give you this, the hills offer me the kind of challenge that I love. That’s right, I do love them. They are torture, but I always end up grabbing those hills by their reproductive parts and showing it just who is boss. Me. Duh.
In addition to the hills, I also love running around you for a few more obscure reasons. First, the views. Sure, you’re a beautiful and scenic place. Who wouldn’t be in awe of the landscape, mossy rain forests, two different mountain ranges, waterfront trails, Mount Rainier, the Space Needle? Those are all lovely, and I do love them, but what I’ve really valued the most in our time together over the years are some of the hidden gems, if you will. Were it not for the runs I went on with the intent of checking out different house colors in the many neighborhoods, I may not have ever settled on the colors I picked for my house, and my place would be looking faded and down-trodden. Phew! Crisis averted, thanks to you, Seattle. Also, I’ve made some pretty serious landscaping decisions based upon what I’ve seen that works and doesn’t work so well in our climate. Palm trees? Really, people? Really? On a recent run, I also saw a purple PT Cruiser with flames custom painted on it. Oh, that made my day. In my imagination ZZ Top was cruising around town, on their way to Whole Foods. You know, just a typical ZZ Top kind of Saturday. And a couple of months ago, I was running through one of the most swank neighborhoods and I came across a man with really bushy white hair, hat pulled down low as if he were incognito, large Starbucks cup in hand and little dog in-tow. And he was incognito. Guess who he was? That’s right, THE Tom Skerritt. As I was approaching him, I had a fleeting thought that it might be him, but the shock of bushy white hair threw me for a loop--and made me think that maybe it was Hal Holbrook rocking his Mark Twain look. But the Skerritt made more sense, given that he actually lives in that neighborhood and Hal Holbrook does not. And it was further confirmed by Monster--who, by the way, has a thing for the Skerritt—that he likes Starbucks. There you go. Celebrity star sighting. Thanks, Seattle!
Finally, I would be doing you an injustice, Seattle, if I didn’t mention the pheromones. That’s right, I love you (and sometimes despise you, but mostly love) for how you smell. My old neighborhood was blocks away from the Sound. The salty smell of low-tide will always make me nostalgic for the early days of our courtship. In my new hood, where gangstas rock out to the laptops they carry, the signature smell is the nearby Franz Bread Factory. I can always tell the days when they are making mass quantities of Wonder Break versus any other assorted pastry making day. The most welcome smell of all has to be springtime—it pulls me out of the dour mood that is a product of months and months of the damp and dark winter. The past few weeks the laurel and cherry blossoms have just made everything look, smell and feel better.
Seattle, you’ve been with me my entire running life (my victory in the mile run at my elementary school’s 6th-grade Hexathlon notwithstanding). I haven’t loved every run (or every hill, sight, or smell), but through it all I’ve grown more and more attached to you. Thanks to the running, I love you more. You've seen me through it all and have played a big part in getting me to the start line in Hopkinton today. I will do you proud. And I cross my heart and hope to die that when I get to the famed Heartbreak Hill at mile 21, I will close my eyes and only be thinking of you. It will mean nothing to me. I'll only be doing it because everyone else is doing it, but it's you that I really love. Honestly. I swear.
Little Ms. Notetaker


Six-word Sunday: April 17, 2011

Holy jeez! I'm running Boston tomorrow.
After years of attempting to get myself to this place and months of training (some weeks more diligently than others), tomorrow I'll be running the 115th Boston Marathon.

I'm anxious and excited, both for the race and in hopes that I'm able to poop (come on, it wouldn't be a race without me commenting on my intestinal worries). What I'm really excited about is the fact that my parents have made the trip out from Denver. They've never been to one of my races, so I'm really glad to have them here for the biggest race of my life. And no matter how fast or slow I run this puppy, that's exactly what this is: the biggest race of my life.

Mom, Dad, be prepared for me to probably start crying when I see you, partly because of the overwhelming nature of the whole event, and partly because at that point I'll have begun to lose my mental faculties (not to mention fine motor skills), and mostly because you've always supported me in all the crazy adventures and challenges I've undertaken in my life; I've always known that you've been cheering me on even when you weren't physically there on the sidelines. It's so reassuring knowing that you're there tomorrow. Thank you so much and I love you!


Obedient little me

As we’ve established, I like doing the right thing. So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am a big follower of rules. While some people might say rules were meant to be broken, I would say rules are meant to be followed and then I would eagerly raise my hand, and when I was called upon, ask for another helping of rules, please.

My adoration of, and adherence to, rules became apparent to me when I was boarding the plane to New York earlier this week. I could not believe how many people boarded the plane with more than one carry-on item and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or backpack. I mean, they state the rules very clearly and more than once. You are allowed one carry-on item and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase or backpack. Guess what I had, Internets? If you answered one carry-on item and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or backpack, YOU WIN. The biggest baggage offender I saw today had one carry-on item, two personal items (a very full man purse and a briefcase), and a garment bag. And they let him on the plane. Well the gate agent kept telling him that he needed to combine his bags and he’d just look at her with scorn. After three or four warnings, he simply moved his man purse to the same side of his body as the briefcase and went along his merry way. Meanwhile, other passengers were forced to check their carry-ons because his full man purse (and several other over-packers) had hogged all the space in the overhead bins.

Now, I’m as cheap as the next guy and I’ll try to save myself the $25 of checking a bag by either wearing everything I’m bringing with me or jamming everything I can into my carry-on item and one personal item such as a purse, briefcase, or backpack. But a rule is a rule; at least I thought it was. And I suppose I get to sleep easy at night knowing that my righteousness didn’t cause anyone personal strife or require unwanted back checkage, but something tells me that the biggest baggage offender isn’t losing any sleep over what he did—although he should lose some over his poor taste in man purses.


Just like when my dad reads an entire karaoke notebook cover to cover to find the song he wants

Are you sitting down? You might want to in preparation for what I’m about to tell you. Internets, I actually miss the nablopomo challenge. Yep. I said it. Even after posts like thisthis, or this, there’s something about the regular posting that was comforting to me.

I made this admission to AP earlier this week—let it be known that I also would grumble to her on multiple occasions during the challenge because sometimes I just didn’t know what to write about. She gave me the same advice this week as she did when I would whine: I don’t need to put so much pressure on myself to come up with the wittiest topic. Just write. And it’s true, sometimes the forced wittiness backfires and the real witty finds its way out organically when I least expect it.

When I reflect back on that advice, I think it’s something that could be more broadly applied to my life than just in rambling on my blog. Take for instance EVERYTHING I DO. This may come as a surprise to you, but I can tend to be a little on the intense and serious side of things when it comes to EVERYTHING I DO. I know, right? I hope you all were still sitting down for that shocker. But seriously, a few weeks ago I ran a program at work and had a group of volunteers help out with the delivery. To show them my gratitude, I put together little gifts of gourmet salted chocolates and fancy hand soaps accompanied with a little note: You’re sweet to get your hands dirty with us! Totally adorable, right? And picking out the perfectly right soaps was the absolute most critically important thing I could ever do in my life, well in that moment anyway. Perfectly right meant that each soap was different, and in order to pick out the perfectly right ones it required me to smell every single offering the small store had to offer. This might actually be a bad example, because I deeply enjoyed the meticulous rigor to which I took to those soaps. But it is a good example in that some people who aren’t me might have walked into that same store and picked out the first bottle of soap they saw and grabbed six of them without—horror of all horrors—smelling it at all. True, they would have not spent the 45 minutes in the store that I did, but I made sure that each of those soaps were darn good smelling soaps. And they were perfectly right. And it made me perfectly happy.

I’ve always been that way, about almost everything. Control freak? Maybe, but I think it’s more about wanting to ensure I do, or choose, or say, or make, or whatever the perfectly right thing. And hey, Commish, I think this totally explains why I’m dragging my feet on jumping on the self-serve frozen yogurt train (well, this and the fact that I don’t really like frozen yogurt): too many options. Multiple flavors of fro-yo, that I dispense myself meaning I get to choose just how much I want and then an entire wall of toppings—candy, fruit, baked goods, syrups, even cereal. It’s just too much. The stress of finding perfectly right is overwhelming. First you have to pick out the perfectly right flavor—or flavors—of fro-yo, then the perfectly right toppings—really the combination of toppings—and don’t even get me started on the ratio of yogurt to toppings. And some people, who are not me, probably LOVE the freedom to make whatever they want. As for me, I’d prefer to have a minimal number of options—options that are already defined and appropriately rationed by a trained professional (or in their absence a high-school student making minimum wage)—so that I just have to make one decision.

This also explains why I tend to order the same things at restaurants. If the menu is a tome, and if I’ve been there before and I’ve had something I liked, something that’s perfectly okay, then I’ll just stick with it.  When there are too many options, my brain gets dangerously close to exploding. Note to self: when facing the struggle between perfectly okay and brain explosion, perfectly okay is perfectly right.


Could this also explain why I might still be single? Maybe that’s some food for thought, but don’t forget that I like, nay love, smelling all the soap. And when we’re talking about “as long as we both shall live,” being perfectly right is the only way I'd like to be.


History Repeating

You might find it interesting that On--or Around--this Date in 2008 I was sitting in Logan International Airport in Boston, MA. Granted I’m not actually there today, however I did start my morning at an airport for the first leg of my mini-vacation that will eventually lead me to Boston, MA.

And if you didn’t find that interesting, then also around this date in 2008, I was grappling with the notion of not settling for a spark-less relationship.

And if you didn’t find either of those interesting, then I think it’s time we revisit Indian Thriller!


Wanted: flint

Internets, it appears it was coincidence.

I have given it a really good effort (and more than that I've given it a lot of thought, so much so that I think I hurt myself in the form of a migraine, seriously), and just don't feel a spark with the Hurler.

Freaking spark.

When the marinara jar and I broke up--after a year-and-a-half--that's what he said. He didn't feel that spark. I was devastated and was also incredulous. How could he say that? And even more, how could he not feel a spark? As it turns out, I really didn't feel the spark either, only I didn't want to admit it. Because that's what I do; I jump into relationships and make them work--I'll be damned if I don't work the heck out of those relationships.

Since he and I broke up four years ago, the concept of spark has gotten more and more important to me. Which is a bit of a challenge when you're a relationship jumper like I've been. It's easy to want to believe there are sparks. And believe me, I've wanted to believe it. But the more I fool myself, the harder it is down the road. And I'm at the point with the Hurler where I just need to put down the two sticks I've been furiously rubbing together, because even lighter fluid wouldn't help my cause.

I'm really particular. I know this. In fact, the Olympian (the most recent boyfriend that I never even wrote about), gave me a very empty good luck wish and basically told me that he doesn't think I'll ever find what I'm looking for because my standards are just way too high. Of course, I don't believe him, and I forgive him that comment as I had just told him I didn't feel a spark (after taking him home to Denver to meet my family). I knew what he was feeling, I have been in those shoes. But it's true, I didn't feel a spark and as hard as it was to say that to him, I am much happier being alone than I am being with him. My belief is that if I feel that way, then I'm not in the relationship I should be in. Nobody deserves that, even if the cruelty of that reality is completely unintentional. But it is what it is, I can't deny it and I couldn't let it go on that way. Even if it seemed easier to settle.

And I find myself in a similar position with the Hurler. Granted, I've not brought him home to meet the family, so maybe I'm learning to recognize and admit the absence of spark sooner. But I do know this, I'm not going to settle. When my head and heart do battle, my heart always wins. Which brings me back to the awful migraine I had yesterday. I've only had maybe five migraines in my life (not counting the couple of ocular migraines) and up until recently, they've been spaced out over the course of a few years. However, the last two have happened in the past three months and it's got me thinking about their root cause. After I talked myself down from metastasized brain tumor, I began to wonder if it was the physical effects of my head battling my heart and the heart winning? I could tie yesterday's to the things I was thinking and feeling (or not feeling) with the Hurler, and the other most recent one came when I was struggling with (more like avoiding) the break up with the Olympian. You see, both the Olympian and the Hurler logically are good fits for me--on paper they sizzle brighter than a sparkler on the 4th of July. My head really likes them. But realistically, neither of them are the right fit for me--in person my heart feels more fizzle than sizzle. And it's nothing against them as people, they are both great guys, they just aren't the great guy that I know is out there for me. The one I know I want to wait to find. The one who will be an amazing partner and father to my children. And I'm not giving up hope, I do believe he's out there and I really do hope I find him sooner rather than later, but I'm going to give myself a break for the time being.

Besides, I was afraid to strike matches until I was in my senior year of high school and my head is totally already waving the white flag and yielding to my heart, probably indefinitely.


Movin' on up

Today I moved into a new office. A new office with a window.


All day I couldn't stop telling my coworkers how much I LOVE HAVING AN OFFICE WITH A WINDOW! And they have window offices too, so I wasn't saying it like I was bragging, but like I was so glad that I had finally joined their sorority. And I can't wait until we have formal chapter meeting, just so long as it's in an office with a window.

It's been six years since I've had a window office. Six long years of vitamin D deprivation. Well, the deprivation is probably more a function of me choosing to live in the Pacific Northwest, where everyone is completely vitamin D deficient, than it is of having bat cave offices. Whenever the sun comes out here we have no idea what to do with ourselves: do you run outside and soak up as much of it as possible or do you crawl under a rock to protect your translucent skin because you are frightened by that bright light?

On a recent trip to visit my lil brother in Las Vegas, I forgot my sunglasses and I was driving just after sunrise and thought I was going to go blind. What with all that happy sunshine I couldn't see and thought my brain might explode. Thankfully it didn't.


Coinkydink or Synchronicity

Time for a new game (today might be the only day we play this game, so I hope you enjoy the heck out of it): Around this time in 2009.

Guess what I just realized today, Internets? My first date with the Hurler was on April 3 which also happens to be the date in 2009 that Mr. McMichael and I first became an item. Hmmm. How do you like them apples?


Keeping my eye on the prize

It started out as brunch, and then a meander through a farmer's market, a wine tasting, a fancy chocolate tasting, a stop for beer and Belgian frites, a trip back to the chocolatier to sneak another tasting, a walk to a Seattle park, and ended with a trendy hipster dinner and dessert. Eight hours. My first date with the Hurler (it's been awhile since I've assigned a nickname and have been offered a couple of others, but so far I think the Hurler is my favorite) was the equivalent of one full work day.

As I told AP about the date this morning, she asked me something I was staying very cognizant of throughout the date: was I prolonging it because I was having fun, or because I didn't have any other plans? The last time I had a marathon date, it was definitely the latter and apparently it was so obvious that I wasn't into him that it had people questioning what team I played for. I'm still not a lesbian. You know how I know? Because I like the Hurler. The marathon date was warranted.

Now that I think about it, another marathon blind date I went on seven years ago--the date I would classify as my worst date, but perhaps the my best story (wait for it, wait for it)--went awry because I was passive and didn't have anything else going on.

Even though the Hurler and I essentially already had our second, third and maybe even fourth dates all wrapped up in that first one, I want to adopt a wait and see attitude. I know me, and I know that not only do I have a history of extending dates because I don't have anything else going on, but that I can sometimes create relationships out of that same premise (you all might remember New Friend, and then there was my most recent relationship with the Olympian--a relationship that was never featured on the blog, but just know that it fit into that old pattern). My relationship with Mr. McMichael took a different route down a completely new and different path, and I'd like to follow similar coordinates with the Hurler.

Note to self: As you enter into future relationships continue to ask yourself: are you having fun or do you not have anything else going on? And keep having fun!


Six-word Sunday: April 3, 2011

LMNT's back in the saddle, again...

...in so many ways.

Even though some of you might have stopped by the past couple days and didn't see a post (after 32 posts in 31 days, I gave myself a post-free vacation), the month's worth of posts really reminded me how much I love writing--how much I need writing. While I am not going to go so far to promise you a specific number or frequency of posts, I am going to promise you that I will post... more... than I have in the past.

And in other news, I had a date--a first date--a first blind date--today. It has been a long time since I've had one of those. It's kind of like riding a bike, only I've gotten much better at bike riding even in spite of the fact that my bike doesn't have a back tire, but that's another story, for another post. You know, one of those future promised posts.