Monday, January 26, 2009

random thoughts

1. Today is my first day sans splint and I am thrilled beyond belief to wear my watch again! (I couldn't bear to wear my watch on my right arm; it felt too weird.)

2. I feel (dare I say it?) pretty today because I styled my hair this morning for the first time in four weeks! Although I desperately need a brightening job and a trim, I was amazed at how much better I looked this morning with blown-dry and styled hair. Brad claims that he couldn't tell a difference these past four weeks. He is a smart man.

3. Ham is my least favorite of all of the "normal" meats. Of course, I'm sure that I'd rather eat ham than beef liver, or chicken gizzards, or many other options. Brad, on the other hand, loves ham and requests it every single year for his birthday dinner at home (which is why I'm eating it today for lunch... even though I don't really like it, I refuse to discard perfectly good leftovers because wasting food bothers me).

4. I eagerly anticipate eating a slice of Brad's birthday cake that I packed in my lunch today! The cake makes the ham worth it.

5. Why is it that we can fly to San Diego in May for just over half of what it is costing us to fly to Nashville tomorrow? (Mama Millie died this past Friday, so we're off to West Tennessee for her funeral this week. More on this later....)

6. Today marks the first day of the spring semester at UMD and as of this minute, I have not yet encountered one student complaining about XXXX (you fill in the blank). But the minute I post this entry, I expect to be bombarded.

7. I really detest making admissions decisions for the program that employs me. But I'm encouraged that I'm almost done with my portion of the selections for this year. KEEP PLUGGING!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

my favorite day of the year

Happy birthday, Sweetheart! Do you realize that I have now celebrated one-third of your birthdays with you (11 out of 33)? We have known each other a long time and the years keep racing by.

I thought that my readers would appreciate this picture of you circa 1978 or 1979. You were such a stylin' little guy! I figured that you wouldn't mind if I shared this picture... actually, you won't even know about it because you don't read my blog! (Faithful Readers: sssshhhhhh.....)

My darling husband, I hope that you have a wonderful birthday and that this next year is your best one yet. I am so grateful for every single day with you and for all that is you. Happy 33rd birthday. Love you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

fluke test

Guess what I'll be doing on Sunday, May 31, 2009?!

Yes, Gentle Readers, I've done it. As of today, I officially plan to run a second marathon, if only to ascertain that my successful completion of the first one in 2006 wasn't a fluke. Brad and I just registered to run the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. San Diego is the one city in the country where I have visited, but Brad hasn't, and what better excuse for a vacation? As Brad says, it's exactly how he dreams of spending a vacation: running 26.2 miles (Ha!).

For over two years now, I have hungered, itched, yearned, wished, longed (get my point?) to run another marathon, which I promised myself that I would not do until I finished my Ph.D. (2007 - check!). I really wanted to embrace this challenge in 2008, but Brad wisely talked me out of it arguing that our busy travel schedule that year would certainly make training difficult and stressful. Of course, he was right.

But I have finally talked Brad into another marathon and I found a fun one that meets all of my minimum criteria:
  • Big race and lots of people.... I definitely need many other runners around me and a supportive crowd of fans.
  • Appealing location (San Diego, need I say more?) and a flat course
  • I desired a race during the first six months of 2009 simply so that I could train through the winter, which are my best running months. I definitely prefer cold weather running. I will take snow over heat any day (just when running, though, not any other time). I struggled through long runs of 15+ miles in the July, August, and September heat when we ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006 (although, of course, the MCM is very dear to my heart and I would love to run it again one day, along with the Chicago and NYC marathons, which are on my "must run" list, but also occur during the fall months).
  • The San Diego Marathon's big perk is that it's a Rock 'n' Roll race, so there should be a band at every mile, which will hopefully help me pass the time faster because Brad and I will NOT be running the entire race together this time. After MCM, we stopped running together because our paces are so different. I no longer slow him down and he no longer stresses me out by pressuring me to speed up.
  • A second perk of this race is its timing; I'll enter swimsuit season in marathon shape!
Although I'll be training in cooler weather, the only downside is that the temperature on race day will be warmer than I like: average of 60 degrees at the start and low 70s at the finish. For someone who doesn't sweat and is pretty much unable to release heat, these temperatures are NOT ideal. But, I'm prepared to run slowly and to dump water on my head at every single break station so that I can finish the race. Even running a late-fall marathon would in no way guarantee me cool weather on race day. Runners always gamble on the weather.

Gentle Readers, you will be subject to a few more running-related posts than normal over the next four months. When I start complaining about my loose (but hopefully not LOST) toenails, blistered and bleeding feet, sore muscles, strict sleeping and eating regimen, lost Saturdays due to long runs, and overall exhaustion, please don't hesitate to remind me that I not only VOLUNTEERED TO DO THIS, I DRAGGED BRAD DOWN WITH ME. I take complete responsibility for this decision.

After running the race on May 31st, Brad and I will spend our seventh wedding anniversary on June 1, 2009 basking in the glow of marathon completion and marital bliss. Oh, and also hobbling around and caring for each other's wounds. Now that's love.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the winner

I narrowed my list of potential birthday restaurants down to six. I made reservations at five restaurants, the sixth one was already booked for my date of choice (which tells me EXACTLY where I want to go next year... a sure way to make me want something is to tell me I can't have it!). I visited all five restaurants and have crowned Nora Restaurant in Dupont Circle the winner this year!

It only took me an hour after work one evening last week to navigate traffic and visit all five finalists. And Brad was a sweetheart to drive me to all of the restaurants so that I could just hop out of the car and not have to search for a parking place at each one. Even though it was extra work, I'm so glad that I did it. I also scoped out the best tables at each place so that in the future, whether we visit for a special occasion or for restaurant week, I know which tables to request.

Brad's birthday is this Sunday and we plan to celebrate his big day on Saturday night at Capital Grille. We've covered every high-end steakhouse in DC for Brad's birthdays, and now we're revisiting our favorites. I'm thankful that he's so easy to please; I could learn a lot from him!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

an appeal to the new first lady

Dear Mrs. Obama,

On this Inauguration Day, I write to express my sincere welcome to you and your family and best wishes as you assume your new role as First Lady of our country. May you be joyful in and dedicated to this role. May God bless you with wisdom and humility as you serve our country. May you model the way for others with dignity and grace. May you continue the wonderful tradition of celebrating the joy of reading that Laura Bush began in 2001 by establishing the National Book Festival...


Yes, I also write with a very specific request: the National Book Festival should live on despite Mrs. Bush's departure.

Last September, I vowed to lobby the new First Lady regarding the continuation of this magnificent event, and what better time to start than your first day on the job?

As you may know, this event, co-sponsored by the Office of the First Lady and the Library of Congress for the past eight years, drew nearly 100,000 attendees annually to celebrate the joy of reading. The cadre of up-and-coming and established authors, illustrators, and poets appealed to people of all backgrounds and ages. The festival focused on the importance of reading in everyday life and showcased myriad ways to make reading fun, especially for children. And what better way to establish healthy, lifelong habits in our children than to draw national attention to and celebrate such simple, yet important, pastimes: reading and writing?! Lure children and adults away from their televisions and computers for a day. Breathe the crisp fall air and admire the beauty of our nation's capitol while enjoying good books and fellowship with other book lovers. Meet and celebrate the authors who satisfy our literary appetites and keep us constantly craving more. Motivate aspiring authors with exposure to and advice from sage and accomplished writers. Encourage all citizens to reflect on books that have touched their lives. Demonstrate the power and benefits of effective writing. I cannot think of a better way to spend a fall Saturday in DC. What a treat!

Mrs. Obama, I humbly request that you sustain the National Book Festival. Even though you didn't create this event, I implore you to continue and even build upon this wonderful national tradition.

With utmost sincerity and many thanks,

Dr. Blondie

Monday, January 19, 2009

my snow high

Dear snowflake, I first felt your sweet kiss as I ran past the Russell Senate Office Building this morning. Despite the ominous looking sky and the higher-than-Friday-but-still-rather-cold temperatures, your arrival made my run so much more enjoyable and worthwhile today than normal. You see, I've been caught in pouring rain while running before, a welcome relief on sweltering July days. And while I trample you on the ground occasionally, I cannot recall a time in my four years of running when you suddenly appeared in full force and accompanied me to my own personal finish line. When you first landed on my eyelashes this morning, I gazed upward with joy to see your millions of brothers and sisters, each one unique, raining down on me. I developed a spring in my step as you propelled me forward. My headband and shoulders grew damp from your moisture. My heart felt giddy at witnessing one of the first snows of the season on the National Mall. Even the sea of blue porta potties that have overtaken the National Mall appeared more attractive through your haze.

While I longed for a desolate stretch in order to enjoy you all to myself this morning, alas, that was not the case with the chaos that has descended upon my city for the Inauguration tomorrow. But I am glad that the tourists who braved the elements early today were rewarded with seeing the ugly porta potties dressed up in your light blanket. And your calming influence even gave me more patience than normal and put a smile on my face as I cut through large tour groups sprawled over sidewalks and dodged clueless tourists who stepped directly in my path.

You faithfully stayed with me for five miles, until the sun came out and burned you away. Most Washingtonians are unaware that you made an appearance this morning. I am one of the lucky few to see you and to feel you. May you shower my head, shoulders, lips, nose, and eyelashes with your sweet kisses again soon. But only when I'm running, okay?

Friday, January 16, 2009

not only still kicking, still RUNNING

One of our park friends turns 85 years old today! And as Ellis so proudly mentioned to Brad and me earlier in the week, "I turn 85 years old this Friday, and I'm still out here, running!". Or I should say shuffling. But he is the sweetest, most adorable 85-year-old shuffler I've ever seen.

I told him that I hope that I'm still breathing when I turn 85.

Although Brad and I hoped to wish him a happy birthday in person this morning, the 12 degree weather with a wind chill in negative numbers kept us warm and snug in bed. Ellis has no business being out in this weather either, so I hope that he stayed home today too.

While I'm thinking about running, I came across this quote yesterday:

"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."
- George S. Patton, U. S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

So true! Especially when running long distances. My body won this morning when I decided to stay in bed rather than brave the cold temperatures. But hopefully my mind will prevail next time. I'll start working on it. As soon as it warms up a little.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

bootie time

Now that I know that Amy has received my newest knitted creation, a small gift during her week of well wishes, I am eager to show off my work to the rest of my readers:

I began this project before Christmas and completed one bootie and half of the hat before Brad and I left for Colorado. After I hurt my wrist, I freaked out a little bit about finishing the project on time. Knitting involves some wrist turning and flipping, which I couldn't do. AND the yarn kept snagging on my Velcro splint. I still see remnants of it on my splint right now. But it all worked out and I finished the project in time to have it delivered this week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

honoring Amy

I've co-hosted or hosted more showers in my lifetime than I can recall. While I've organized menus, games, decorations, invitations, prizes, favors, and group and individual gifts, and supervised and participated in set up, clean up, and all major and minor hostessing duties, I breathe a huge sigh of relief and even giggle a bit because this baby shower that I am co-hosting this week for my friend Amy is anything but the norm. Because Amy moved to Nashville almost two years ago, some other friends and I are throwing her a "week of well wishes" from afar as she prepares to give birth to her first child next month. That's right: a virtual shower! What a wonderful way to mix up the ho-hum shower routine and to exercise our creativity!

The festivities began yesterday when Amy received flowers and a note that promised more fun to come this week. But I can't reveal any of the other surprises just yet as Amy is one of my most loyal readers.

I do ask that you, my faithful readers and lurkers, please visit Organized Living by Amy to leave her a comment or send her an email to wish her well as she prepares to become a parent soon. It's okay if you don't know her. We want as many people as possible to visit her blog this week and to comment on her week of well wishes. Plus, you just might leave her site with an organization tip or a meal or gift idea; it's worth checking out!

And Amy, I sincerely hope that you enjoy your special week and know how much we wish we could shower you in person! I send you lots of love and best wishes. I also have my fingers crossed that you'll be blessed with a very organized daughter who loves a schedule and a plan as much as you do!

Monday, January 12, 2009

on a mission

With my birthday less than one month away, I'm searching high and low for that perfect place to celebrate. As I've mentioned before, Brad and I only exchange gifts at Christmas. For birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, we either take a trip or dine at a fancy restaurant in DC that we could never afford on a regular basis. We both love this tradition as neither one of us really enjoy buying gifts and we see this as a perfect way to experience the best venues of our marvelous city together.

I posted a plea for help last week on Facebook and now I'm overwhelmed with suggestions. And I know that time is running out. My birthday's close proximity to Valentine's Day makes it difficult to secure the reservation of our choice. I think that I will narrow down my list into three or four "finalists", and I will call today to make reservations at all of them. Then, because I grow pickier every single year, I'm going to swing by each venue this week to scope out the ideal tables and make an assessment, and ultimately, a final decision.

I actually have TONS of restaurants on my "must try" list. Please be assured that I'm not this finicky for a regular night out. Brad and I had a delightful time with our friends this past Saturday night at Founding Farmers. But in my mind, special occasions are much different. While Brad just hopes for a delicious steak and good service, I demand a little more:
  • French, Italian, Asian, American... I'm not picky about what I eat, but the portions must be moderately filling. I know that I'm a big eater, but I hate spending hundreds of dollars on a meal and eating four or five courses only to leave the restaurant starving (which has happened to us before). Considering that fancy restaurants aren't known for adequate portion sizes, perhaps now you begin to understand the challenge of my task.
  • Atmosphere trumps cuisine. The lower the light, the better. In fact, a solitary table in a black room with only one small candle on the table for light equals perfection to me. I've deserted many a restaurant for excessive brightness.
  • Being a DC resident, I refuse to leave the city limits and spend my birthday in the burbs. And this goes without saying, but absolutely no chain restaurants are allowed.
  • I enjoy tucked-away tables in corners, alcoves, and small rooms. I like privacy while dining. I dislike feeling like we're sitting right on top of the next table or in a fish bowl in the middle of the room. I adore the private tables surrounded by floor to ceiling curtains at Two Quail.
  • I don't want to feel overdressed if I wear a black dress and Brad dons a suit. I prefer not to see other diners dressed casually.
  • I do enjoy unsolicited treats from the chef, but of course, this is a perk and not a requirement.
  • While I do love trendy and modern-decor restaurants, my experience has shown that these types of establishments are better suited for group outings or dinners with friends. For a date night, they tend to be too loud and bright for my taste. Give me exposed brick, dark wood, a fireplace, and a cozy nook in the corner any day.
Some day, if we ever want to blow a minimum of $1,000 on dinner and a night away for my birthday (or maybe for both of our birthdays), I'M SO THERE!! But until then, I'll keep shopping.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

benefits of a non-displaced fracture distal radius

1. I spend much less time primping than I used to because I quickly learned that yes, you do need two hands to blow dry and style long hair using a round brush. Considering that my left hand can't support weight (e.g. hold a hairdryer), nor can it bend, twist, flip, or turn using a round brush (aka styling wand), my tresses are sporting the air-dried, fuzzy, stringy look these days, but oh well. It's winter and I don't think that too many people notice anyway.

2. Although my Christmas money burns a hole in my pocket, I have not been shopping once because I dread the hassle of removing and replacing my splint over and over in the dressing room to get shirts on and off. Plus, my wrist is particularly vulnerable when I'm dressing because I sometimes accidentally bend it in weird ways. Forgo shirt shopping, you say? I also struggle to pull up or button my pants. Have you ever tried either task with one hand? Butt-hugging jeans are especially challenging.

3. Running with a splinted left arm elicits much sympathy from normally critical people.

4. To my delight, I find myself suddenly exempt from any and all manual labor. When my computer crashed yesterday, I quickly realized that I couldn't pick up nor carry my hard drive to my technician's office. He came and retrieved it himself! The world nearly stood still.

5. #4 extends to chores at home as well. Brad is now forced to make himself available to carry groceries up all of our stairs.

6. Come on. We all know that navy is the new black for 2009. I'm all for making a fashion statement.

Monday, January 5, 2009

to live again

The world arose today from a deep slumber. Schools opened, traffic jammed, and every person I know returned to work. I experienced a decent and fairly productive first day back, mostly because I had decided that it was time for our comedy-of-errors break to end. When Brad awoke this morning feeling like his throat was on fire, I officially gave up.

Seriously. In two weeks, Brad and I endured:
  • a stomach bug
  • a fractured wrist
  • 1.5 days of heartache and a fair share of tears (I'll give my faithful readers one guess regarding who's acting up or should I say out again.)
  • a head cold
  • potentially delicious meals that were wasted (see first bullet above)
  • three poor movie choices (well, Milk was okay, Sean Penn is worth seeing, but avoid Marley & Me and Revolutionary Road - yes, the Leo and Kate movie - I know, it breaks my heart too!)
Although this break had its setbacks, I will say that I absolutely cherished the thirteen days of 24/7 time with my husband, vomit and all. I wasn't ready to leave Brad this morning. I never tire of Brad's company or presence, which really works out well since we're, you know, joined for life and all.

Looking forward, I adore the month of January. The start of a new year always excites me. I love the anticipation of all that I can cram into the next 365 days. My students don't return until January 26th, so I utilize three peaceful weeks at work to accomplish a laundry list of spring tasks. The weather, though crisp and cold, is ideal for hot-natured runners like me. My social schedule feels more manageable now than in December, yet we still have celebratory occasions, like Brad's birthday at the end of the month, to keep us active.

January is my breath of fresh air. And I am inhaling deeply.

goals rather than resolutions

I'm not an advocate of making New Year's resolutions. The small things are easily accomplished by simply adding them to my to-do list (and what is the challenge in that?) and I consider my big desires ultimately out of my control. For example, I'd like to see a show at the Folger Theatre in 2009 considering this venue is located only eight blocks from where I live and I CAN'T BELIEVE I'VE LIVED HERE SO LONG AND HAVE NEVER DONE THAT, but I feel no urge to make this seemingly easy task a resolution. In January of 2007 I refused to resolve to finish my dissertation and graduate by the year's end because I knew that no matter how valiant my efforts (and believe me, I felt committed to do anything and everything in my power to make it happen), I knew that success was ultimately out of my control. I had witnessed too many hard-working doctoral students be strung along by their advisers and committees for years to believe that a student's work ethic alone could determine a timely and positive outcome.

So while I do harbor small and large dreams for 2009 (most of which will probably be documented on this blog, so stay tuned), I decided to focus on two goals related to my main hobbies: reading and running.

Reading: I hope to start and complete a minimum of 26 books by the year's end, an average of one book every two weeks. I exclude the books that I began in 2008 and am still reading now. Books that I finished in the past, but reread in their entirety in 2009 will count in my total. Of my 26 books, at least two must be considered classics and at least four must fall under the nonfiction classification.

Running: I ran a total of 550.7 miles in 2008. While to non-runners this total may sound impressive, let's take a closer look at the numbers. That total breaks down to 45.89 miles per month (hmm....) and even worse, only 10.59 miles per week, which from a runner's perspective, is abysmal. Running only 10.5 miles per week falls short of a person's minimal regular exercise needs and it in no way builds a strong enough base to run longer or more frequent races. Darn that trip to Europe! August's total of 12 miles really pulled down my average for the year. Don't the myriad miles I walked all over Italy and France count for anything?! Anyway, I strive to run a total of 720 miles in 2009, or an average of 60 miles per month. While this additional 170 miles over 2008's total may seem like a big jump, I know that with just a little more dedication and effort, and barring any health complications, I can do it. I am itching to run another marathon in 2009, and if I do it, marathon training alone will significantly boost my total mileage for the year.

Cheers to goals! I promise to faithfully document all successes, failures, and revisions.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 out, 2009 in

One year ago today, I authored my first entry on this blog. And now, one year and 153 posts later, much to my delight, Dr. Blondie not only lives on, but has taken on a life of her own. I go about my days now with a new perspective. Even the most mundane task or random occurrence can be turned into something interesting or funny to share with others. I enjoy documenting my life and observing growth, which is why I've faithfully kept a diary-like calendar for over 20 years. But this blog is even better because it provides me a venue to poke fun at myself publicly (which helps me to take things less seriously) and to solicit input or support from others. This blog has also helped me to act with more spontaneity and creativity. While I plan a handful of entries in advance, most of them are written off-the-cuff. I wake up having no idea of the topic of the day's post and end up with something unexpected. I love what I consider the "percolation" stage of blog writing. A simple idea enters my head and percolates there for a few minutes or hours. Once I begin writing, my ideas explode to the point where I can barely keep up with them. That's how I sometimes end up with entries like this.

Gentle readers, I so appreciate your time and attention over the past year. Thanks for celebrating joyful moments with me, offering sympathy during my down days, and for helping me tolerate everything in between the two. Happy 2009!