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Friday, April 28, 2006

The Search for Delicious

There is a children's book that I loved when I was a kid called "The Search for Delicious" wherein a fictional land had a fictional king who is writing a dictionary (this book was right up my alley even when I was eight; I've always loved dictionaries -- a book about words, glorious!). The beginning dictionary writing went easily enough and the king cruised through letters A,B, and C, but got stuck when he got to the letter D, and was particularly uncertain of how to define the word "delicious." (There was also a disagreement between himself and the queen as to what was "delicious.") Because no one in the king's court could decide what the most delicious thing in the world was, the dictionary could not define the word, so the king wisely sent his assistant into the countryside to search for the meaning of delicious (don't you just love that plot? I'm jealous I didn't think of it).

Gaylen, our main character, encounters many adventures, of course, and many interesting characters, of course, and experiences the evil of his uncle (uncles are always getting a bad rap in literature; they and step-parents should rally together to reform that) who is out to sabotage his quest, but eventually he finds that the most delicious thing in the world is water (some aspects of the novel are very political and certainly ahead of its time, so like many children's books it is also written for adults). And in the end, water becomes the meaning of delicious. (Why a company such as, oh say, Evian hasn't yet commercialized this tale, I don't know.)

I think of this story often when I'm running, especially in the last leg of my journey since I always become very thirsty (and my lips and teeth always seem to get this strange gumminess on them -- does this happen to anyone else?) and I start to focus on getting home just to be able to gulp down that delicious water. It's true that in this modern age of exercise that sports drinks have flooded the market and many of us reach for Gatorade instead of water after a run, but I have to say that to me, nothing tastes better than cold water after I've been running.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Too Hot to Trot

When I lived in Minnesota, it seemed that every summer erased the knowledge that winter was very, very cold, so we all kinda seemed shocked at the end of October when the leaves fell and the first snow arrived, and we always seemed miffed by the beginning of January that it was so bitterly cold and that winter had already felt so long. Soon enough, March and April would trot out some fine weather and once again the population would forget sub-zero temperatures and frosted car windshields. The same holds true in South Florida, but it is the opposite weather, opposite season, opposite climatic torture.

The "winter" months are so temperate and pleasant that citizens begin to forget what lurks around the corner once spring breakers have permanently left the state. The temperature rises, the humidity increases, and each day that creeps closer and closer to the official summer feels like I am getting closer and closer to the flames of hell. In the last week, it felt like the heat arrived all of a sudden (although I knew this was not true), and if you stood outside in midday today, you'd most likely burst into flames within minutes (as compared to the height of summer when it will only take a few seconds -- 1.2 in fact, that's science and you can't argue with that). This extreme heat makes running not just difficult but downright unbearable.

The other afternoon I thought it was late enough in the day, and there was cloud cover for Christ's sake, that I could take a quick run. Wrong. Midway through my run I was certain that my head was going to pop off and my body would lay by the sidewalk for days (even wild dogs have the good sense to stay indoors where it's air conditioned). Thankfully, I survived the run, but I knew that it was the end of trying to sneak runs in while the sun was shining. This means I have three options now: Run early in the morning, late in the evening, or inside on the treadmill.

I complain about the heat now, but by July, I'll forget what 70 and a cool breeze means. And by August, I'll be pissed that summer has lasted so long, but I won't really be able to recall any other weather.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good Eats

I have been a good little eater today -- many fruits and salads -- but now my tummy is rumbling for something evil (say that in your best Dr. Evil voice because that's how it sounded in my head -- I also advise rubbing your first two fingers on each hand together if you want to look truly diabolical). At first I thought I could assuage the craving with a Hershey kiss from the department candy dish, but now I know there's no stopping this hunger with a tiny piece of candy. So I am contemplating one of three options: One, digging around for some change for the vending machine (many evil diet choices within); Two, walking over to the "snack hut" on campus and picking up something (but I only have a large bill and I bet they won't have change, and it seems really wicked to buy a $1 candy car with a $100 bill -- it was my b-day a few days ago and that's leftover b-day loot!); or, Three, hop in my car and drive the two miles to the nearest Taco Bell (I haven't hit the Border in awhile), but the same money doubts would probably plague me there.

I have a full evening here on campus because my students are taking their final, and one of them is guaranteed to take the fully allotted time and that could mean that I'm here all night with my stomach rumbling. I should've know that wimpy salad wouldn't fill me up! Damn my good intentions!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dog Run

Yesterday, my husband wanted time alone to work on the house without the dog bothering him or whining in the kitchen, so I said I would take Scooter with me on my run. Interesting. It was Scooter's maiden voyage running with me, and he did much better than I could have anticipated. At first, he was wild with excitement so he was running back and forth in front of me and swerving way out away from me and then cruising back next to me. Between managing his leash length and trying to establish my own pace, it was a bit hectic at first.

Then, he tapered off some and he was running nicely beside me, but after a mile, he was clearly getting tired because he was starting to lag behind. We kept up the pace though for another half a mile until he started to look at me in a pleading sort of way from way behind me. So I slowed it down and finished after two miles. We walked the rest of the way and he trotted nicely beside me, but he was pretty pooped at that point (although a found stick revived his spirits). When we got home, he drank his bowl full of water and crashed.

He still found energy later in the evening to terrorize me, but the run pretty much tuckered him out. So, will he become a regular running partner? I don't think so. Maybe every once in awhile, but not regularly. It was too much going on for me, and I like to run to escape multi-tasking; plus, right now he's not cut out for distances. Maybe when he's a little older I can work him up to longer runs and see if he's cut out for the training, but for right now, I think we'll stick to walks.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Treadmill Tedium

My first day back on the "schedule" meant that I had to run at the gym on one of their treadmills (I slept too late this morning to run outside, and running in the middle of the day in South Florida is out of the question for me -- heatstroke does not sound like fun). Lately, I haven't used the gym for much more than classes, which is a fine use of my money in my opinion, but I did feel as though I was really a member by going in and using the treadmill. But then two minutes went by on the dreaded machine and I was reminded of how much I hate running on one.

After I flipped through an old issue of "Rolling Stone" (I discontinued my subscription a few months ago and was happy to catch up on, albeit late, music news) and settled into my songs, I found that I was pretty much bored. Even though I have my music, running on the treadmill is tedious. There's nothing but other people and treadmills to look at. Plus, I always stare at the time as it passes, and everyone knows that watching a clock is the surest way to slow the passage of its minutes.

In the end, I eeked out a few miles and was done, not necessarily because I was tired, but because I was just so done. I think I will just have to try and get up early or run late so I can do it outside, and I'll reserve the gym for the yoga (got a new mat for my b-day!) and spinning classes. Maybe I could bring myself to lift a weight or two as well.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's my B-day and I'll Run if I Want to

Yes, today is my birthday!! Everyone is free to do a little happy dance in honor of it. I am turning the distinguished age of 28 (interesting that if this was 1906 instead of 2006, I would be more than middle aged -- life expectancy was about 50 -- and now I am considered a spring chicken -- woohoo for sewers and other modern advancements) and I'm pretty excited about it. 28 seems like a good, solid number: I've always enjoyed the even numbers.

I will mostly relax and enjoy myself today, so I doubt I will exert myself with exercise, b-days are a time of year that gets me thinking about resolutions. Unlike New Year's, when everyone is resolving something, resolving something at your b-day seems more personal and I take it more seriously as a committment. And this birthday has me thinking about my running, especially about the lack of it as of late, and I think I need to make a firm resolution to get back to it. Unfortunately, this time of year sucks for such a resolution since we in South Florida are heading straight into the hot temps of summer, but I think I really need to get back; I miss it and it bothers me that so many days are absent a run.

So, starting tomorrow (the fateful day that all resolutions begin), I am going to revive my running routine -- cross your fingers that I'll stick with it.

(Holy cats! I just had deja vu! Could this be a sign of something? Or do too many mornings begin in the exact same pattern?)

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Look

I was getting bored with my blog's old template, so with the freshness of spring in mind, I decided to redo the look of the blog. However, I need to refresh some previous links and so forth, so be patient with those. What does everyone think of the new colors?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

End of the Term

I am a week and a half away from being finished with this term, and I tell you, this stretch is difficult to pull through. Yesterday, when emailing a friend I liked the end of a semester to mile 25 of a marathon (not that I have personally run a marathon, but it's what I imagine it to be like); the end is in sight, but the pain is excrutiating. I know that some of you are college students, so don't take offense to this, but I have been teaching at the college level for six years, and every single term, within the last two or three weeks of the semester, things begin to go haywire.

A.) Grandmas start dropping off left and right (why is it that Grandpa never goes at this time? poor Grandma), students are suddenly very accident prone, and tragedy and sickness start striking them down wherever they turn. Now, I am sympathetic to a degree because in my own college experience, my grandmother did die during finals week in the fall term of my junior year, and I had to make special arrangements for my finals and was very appreciative of my professors' understanding. But after I've heard that Grandma is on her sickbed for the upteenth time, I start to become a little cynical.

B.) Computers usually unite and start undermining student work. Disks are lost, hard drives are irreversibly damaged and the material lost, and printers run out of ink or start eating paper instead of printing on it. (Many writing instructors complain that modern word processing programs have done for writing skills what the calculator did for math skills, but I think the computer is awesome and wouldn't abandon its aid for anything; however, I do think its ability to provide an unprovable excuse is downright wicked. It's a fail-safe problem and students know they can be as vague or as detailed as they want, but they have a solid reason -- "my computer crashed." End of story. Of course, I have circumnavigated this problem on my syllabus and state, quite clearly, that it is the student's responsibility to ensure that all work is saved and backed up to disk -- preferrably a flash drive -- and that computer problems will never be an acceptable excuse for late work. If only I could think of a clause that included Grandma's death.)

C.) A semester is sixteen weeks -- four months -- and inevitably during fourteen of those weeks (or three and a half months) I will get a trickle of email traffic from students with questions, concerns, etc, and I will get a handful of calls, and maybe a few who stop by my office or who make appointments to see me. But suddenly, in the last two weeks, my mailbox is full, my voicemail is full and I have appointments with them in every available time slot, and they are lining up after class to speak with me. It seems as though someone turned on the light and they see the sign that says, "The END is coming: Repent!"

At this point, I am always just relieved to finish the term, as I know students are too, and I wonder: Would I be cut out for a marathon? Could I go the distance? I am usually plagued by doubt that I could endure that distance running all the way, but then I remember that I have completed 12+ semesters (summers are in there as well) and that each one feels like a test of endurance. If I can teach, I can run a marathon. Physical pain can't hold a candle to this mental anguish.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easter Candy

My husband, ever so kindly, bought me an Easter basket on Sunday full of goodies, and I returned the favor. Add on the Easter stuff his parents and my parents sent. The result? We have a shitload of chocolate and other candy (jelly beans) around the house. And it is very difficult to resist (especially since it is wrapped in the pretty pastel colors of spring). I have discovered as of late that I really enjoy Milky Way, which is funny because I never used to be a fan, but it must be the miniature ones (they always taste better anyway) that are so delicious because I can't keep my hands off them. Automatically, when I got up this morning I grabbed two mini Way's and ate them for breakfast.

My good eating habits have not just slid downhill, they have tumbled down the mountain in an avalanche of good intentions. This always happens when I lose just a little weight; suddenly I think I can eat whatever I want whenever I want, and that's how I always gain that weight back. So, this morning after I finish typing, I am going to quickly jaunt up to the store and buy a few "good" groceries: fruit, veggies, that kind of stuff. I feel like the past week or so I have had nothing but junk and now I must do something to make up for it.

I just have to carefully avoid the drive-thru McDonald's that is right next to the grocery store -- it's placement seems so evil!

P.S. Scooter is sitting on my lap napping while I type this and he just farted. It was quiet so I didn't know it was coming, and then it just hit my nostrils -- wham -- and it was a powerful stink. Seriously, when I swallowed, I almost gagged. What's in his dog food?

Monday, April 17, 2006


I have one of the meanest headaches in history right now; it has nothing but cruel intentions toward me. It kinda began last night as I was finishing up at the restaurant, but once I got home, had something to eat, and had a hot shower, it eased up and then I went to bed and my brain felt very happy. But this morning it seems to be pissed, and it's banging against my skull to let me know it.

Usually I can appease an angry, throbbing head with some caffeine (since that is often what it demands in exchange for a pain-free noggin), but the cup of Starbucks did little to ease the discomfort. I have also been drinking water (perhaps I am a little dehydrated), but that seems to have little or no effect as well. Normally, I would just pop a few aspirin and be on my merry way, but I am currently at school and without any aspirin (none in my purse and the department secretary is fresh out). So I have tried squeezing the flesh between thumb and forefinger because I was once told that that pressure point is supposed to relieve a tension headache, but I suck at that. I have half-heartedly rubbed my own shoulders, but it's just not the same, and I have, of course, rubbed my temples.

I've also tried this special breathing I learned in yoga: I cover one nostril with my forefinger and then breathe in deeply through the open nostril, pause with breath held, and then cover that first nostril and exhale through the other nostril (it's supposed to help with headaches and be a good breathing practice for relaxation), and, in general, I think that helped the most but the headache is still there. And the breathing did more to dislodge a booger than it did to help me get rid of the headache. Persistent fucker (headache, not the booger).

I've always been prone to headaches (actually seems to run in my family) because I think I enternalize most of my stress and I ball it all up in my shoulders and neck -- massage therapists always comment about the knots they have to work out of there. Oh well, once I get through teaching my class the 8 basics of the comma (exciting, I know) I can go home and lay down with a couple of aspirin and have Scooter cuddle up next to me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Waitressing for Weight Loss

As I have mentioned too many times to count, being busy working my waitressing job has really diminished my time for running; however, I have actually lost weight since starting that job and have probably ended up burning more calories working a shift there than I would have running. According to most calories burned charts, waitressing burns about 200 calories an hour. I believe it. When it's busy, I bet I burn even more. For one thing, serving tables requires a lot of walking -- back and forth, back and forth -- sometimes across sizable distances. When I worked as a server in Minnesota, I once wore a pedometer during a typical four hour shift, and I discovered that I walked about five miles (and this was a much smaller restaurant than the one I currently work at).

But walking isn't the only exercise. A server lifts and carries trays that weigh 20+ pounds, and we carry smaller trays of drinks, and we carry those heavy plates (often stacked one on top of the other at the end of a guest's meal). Considering that my shifts minimally last five hours, each time I work, I burn about 1,000 calories, so it only takes a couple days of work to burn up a pound (no wonder so many restaurant employees eat and drink with abandon; they know they'll burn the calories off).

All of this work is why I sweat so much during a shift (that, and the heat of going back and forth through the kitchen -- I don't know how those cooks stand it), so it's always a little humorous to me when a customer tells me they are freezing because the air conditioning is blowing on them; I'm standing next to them with a slow roll of sweat running down my back.

In the end, I don't want waitressing to substitute for my established exercise, but at the same time, it's good to know that the work I'm doing is at least helping to make up for that. Today (Easter), I work a double, so I can look forward to a long day ahead of me, and many calories burned.

Have a good holiday everyone -- enjoy your ham!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


So, even though the first run back yesterday went fine, I am really sore today -- that's what nearly a month off of running will do to a girl. But also, I had a six hour waitressing shift last night and being on my feet, walking so much, probably didn't help the soreness. This morning I was pretty stiff, especially in my quads, and for some reason, my inner thighs.

I have to work all day, and today will be a day of rest concerning running, but hopefully I can get back out there tomorrow. I really want to re-establish my running; it's just difficult to find the time and energy (thank the lord for coffee -- it is the blessing of the earth).

Friday, April 14, 2006

I'm Back

This morning I went for the first run I've had time for in almost a month, and it went better than I anticipated. I expected that after the long hiatus that I would be huffing and puffing, but it was a surprisingly good run. Granted, I ran just three miles, but it went smoothly. The weather was cool and overcast this morning and it felt good to get out and work like that again.

Hopefully, my schedule will allow me more time to re-establish my running routine; it sucked being away from it for so long and my body hated me for denying it the necessary exercise it requires. I see that Scooter tried to substitute for me in my absence -- he's such a good puppy. But the good puppy is repeatedly trying to hop in my lap and help me type this, so I'd best try to entertain him for awhile.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Scooter's Screed

Hello everyone who reads "21 Days"! My name is Scooter and I am Jess' puppy. She has been very busy lately (it feels like she's hardly ever home) teaching her classes and serving tables at the restaurant part-time (she smells delicious when she comes home), and she's so worn out that she hasn't had time to do her usual running and she hasn't had time to post her usual blog entries. So, I thought I would post an entry for her because I have a little extra time on my paws and because I suspect it is my early morning energy that contributes to her exhaustion.

Since my mom's blog is about running, I thought I might tell you people about my running (I do as much as I can). I'm not training for anything special, but I like to stay in shape. Currently, this is my running routine: I get up early, usually before six and I like to take care of business and then I come inside and have a quick, healthy breakfast (I make sure I get the right portions of fiber, protein and vitamins); good eating is key to any developing runner. After breakfast, I take it easy and sometimes take a quick nap on the couch, but after I digest, it's back to getting warmed up. I like to prime my muscles by jumping up against the shower doors while my human parents get ready in the morning, sometimes I also shred something just to get the blood flowing -- every runner knows it's dangerous to run when stiff.

After that warm up, I try to do a few laps around the house. If my mom or dad will throw a toy for me, I'm happy to make laps back and forth across the living room (which is awesome because it's being remodeled, so it's nothing but a wide open slab of cement) for as long as they will toss the toy (my new favorite is a stuffed duck some friends gave me for graduating my puppy class -- it's awesome too; it has a squeeker and is incredibly good for gnawing on). After the people get tired of throwing stuff for me, we usually go for a short walk to cool down and to get a sniff of the outdoors.

Following my time outside, I like to do some indoor sprints, some jumps onto furniture and into laps, and ultimately I try to spring onto the bed (someday I will make it up there). That's a full morning, so I usually spend my afternoons relaxing -- maybe chewing a bone or, my favorite, napping. After dinner, I like to do my second round of running and it's much like the first round, but I like to punctuate those runs with short bursts of speed work, generally around the legs of my parents. At the end of the day, I'm exhausted and I try to hit bed pretty early, but because Jess isn't home until late these days, my dad tries to keep me up to see her before I fall asleep. A good night's sleep is just as important as proper nutrition, so I like to get as much sleep in as I can, but I always keep in mind that I have to get up early for my morning workout.

As it is, I'm a puppy primed for racing and I'm in good physical health. My mom wishes she could have an established schedule like mine, and sometimes she says to me, "Scooter, when am I going to have some time to go for a run?" I just look at her soulfully; it must be hard to be human -- so many unnecessary demands on their time. As far as I'm concerned, a day should consist of napping, eating, and playing; what more could a creature need?

Goodness! I hear my mom coming; I'd better hop off the computer. She doesn't like it when I'm up here and she won't be happy that I'm playing on her computer. It was good talking to all of you blogger fans. Be patient with my mom -- she's just so busy -- she'll return to her regular running and posting as soon as she can!

See ya!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Down Dog with a Dog

Today I went to yoga for the first time in about a week -- it was awesome.

Since I've been so busy at work and haven't had the same kind of time I used to have for exercising, I've been trying to do bits and pieces at home when I can. So, last week I tried doing some yoga at home, which would have been fine if I didn't have a puppy who thinks that "yoga" means "play." Anything that involves being on the floor is an invite to have Scooter in my lap. When I am doing sun salutations, he licks me in the face and stands on my back when I'm on my stomach for cobra or plank. He wedges himself between my legs during down dog and he sits on my stomach when I'm trying to do final relaxation (not real relaxing).

If he's not on me or under me or making it impossible to do a pose, he's chewing on my mat (which I can sympathize with since the mat does look like prime chewing material). All in all, he makes it impossible to exercise at home, so I was glad to have the time today to go to class and do all the poses without a dog under my feet.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Today in the paper was an article about "spring cleaning" for your body, and while I feared it would be an article promoting some fad detox diet, it was actually about eating right and drinking plenty of water to help refresh the body just as we would spring clean our homes. The interesting thing about the article is that it advised that the recommended amount of water a person should drink a day should be half a peron's weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water a day.

While I drink about that much anyway, I had never heard of this way to calculate water consumption, but it makes sense. I suppose people of varying sizes need different quantities, and this is an easy method of calculation. Of course, if you exercise you need to adjust water intake in order to replace the lost fluids through sweat -- about 8 ounces for every thirty minutes of exercise, and if you exercise a lot you also need to replace lost salt and potassium, so it's best to throw in a sports drink as well.

So, I'm working on drinking my water today -- keeping the body clean. I also managed to make it to the gym this morning; first time in awhile.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Feeling Fine

I finally feel better this morning. Rest yesterday afternoon and evening and a good night's sleep helped, and now this morning I really feel a lot better. I called in sick yesterday afternoon to the restaurant and they made a stink about it and told me it was my responsibility to find a replacement -- I dutifully called those who were off, but no one was available. When I called the restaurant back to report that I had come up with no one, they asked if I could just try coming in "for a little while and see how you feel." Which would, of course, turn in to all night. I told them I was sick and I wasn't coming in. I felt like saying, "I'm not asking your permission; I'm providing you with the courtesy of knowing ahead of time that I won't be coming in today."

What my husband suggested I should have said was that I am pale, clammy, by turns shivering and sweaty, my nose is dripping snot, and I have a wracking cough, do you want me serving customers their food? To me, it seems very short-sighted to only concern themselves with filling the shift with a warm body. They need to think about the ramifications of having a sick employee come in. Not only are there the health drawbacks, but because I was sick I probably would not be doing a very good job -- I would've been slow, tired, and careless. Places such as this give lipservice to their employees about how much they mean to them, but in reality they don't care much about an employee's well-being. It's hard to believe that so many restaurants have such a high employee turnover, right?

Anyway, I work this evening, which I believe I am healthy enough to do, and I wonder if they'll say anything about my "attitude." We'll see.