Prosaic Paradise

Campaign for the Mundane

Armchair Gym Sociology

Filed under health by

Today was a special day in my gym. The SportFit Laurel is already pretty “for the people” in the sense that every time I am in there it’s like an episode of a mid-90s kids show trying to prove it’s diverse enough. Old folks! Young folks! Kids! Multiple languages, all different abilities, and everyone is friendly! Look we can all work out together! I love this. It always feels like there is no way you could feel like you don’t belong.

That does not extend, gender-wise, to the weightlifting end of the gym. That section usually has all men, or possibly one woman who is only over there because a trainer is working with her. But not this fine sunday morning. Today for most of the morning it was all women! And I don’t just mean two! Before I went over there to see if I could buck up and do the iFitness arm workout, there were four women. I made five. Unprecedented. Pleasing. By the time I left it was all guys again but still.

(I should note however, that as I went to close iFitness, I noticed the arm workout description said “for the man who wants to gain a little muscle in his arms”. I missed the memo where iFitness was only for guys, or that only guys wanted to gain muscle in their arms. Douches.)

Oh and while I am talking about it, someone convince me I can do a bench press without someone spotting me, because I am terrified to lay down under a weight bar alone, and out of budget to get a personal trainer. I need to go back and read the New Rules of Lifting for Women because it was very fear-dispelling.

There was one lady there who was already there and working hard when I got there. I worked out for 1.5 hours. When I left, she was still there, plugging away. Wow. Another lady, and I have seen this a lot, had a little binder where she was checking stuff off. I guess iFitness is my version of the binder, but I have slowly come to realize that nothing is dorky at the gym. Whatever gets the job done.

I am at the end of week two of the couch to 5k plan and it hurts and I am terrified of week three. I may repeat week two. Basically I have to listen to metal to get through the third run and I have to pretend I am in a preparation-for-extravagant-movie-revenge montage to push past that. My HR goes between 130 and 170 the whole time. Bleah. Oh and I let the treadmill give me the gentlest inclines the other day? Horrific shin splints were the result. Going from zero to hero is hard.

OH AND while I am brain dumping about exercise: I am SO UPSET with myself that I have an iPhone 3G. The final straw is that 3GS works with Nike+. I just bought fancy Nike running shoes. But to get Nike+ and C25K app to work together I would have to upgrade to a 3GS. WHY DID I NOT WAIT 6 MONTHS. Hrmph. (Other things: the camera on the 3G is shit compared to 3GS. And I hear that multitasking won’t be happening on 3G.)

8 responses so far

A Little Light Reading/Listening

Filed under Music,School,stuff by

Here they are, all 40lbs of books for my summer semester. It’s a little intimidating, a little exhilarating. I really want to unpackage them and look at them, but at the same time, most of them are unreturnable if opened, and I want the prof to confirm I got the right books. You DO NOT want to know how much this stack of books set me back. I’ve installed them into their new homes next to my new desk and they are waiting to be cracked open.

These sentiments will all seem very quaint, very soon.

In the meantime my old desk*, which is now considered the “fun” desk, is home to the Big CD Archive Project. I seldom play CDs anymore. I carry the iPod Classic for a reason – I like having my whole collection with me. So it’s time to compact the CDs and store them. I’m going with spindles. They’re all on the desk, however, because there is still a lot of music that hasn’t been ripped.

Yay, tedious. Yay, countless 90s hits I’ve been overlooking**.

The booklets will go in a box, hopefully that won’t take up much space. My understanding is that the plastic in the jewel cases is not easily recyclable so I’ll have to deal with that. I guess I’ll just shove the compacted CDs and booklets under the bed in case the music police come by, and I’ll get an extra foot and a half where the CD shelves once stood. Incidentally, anyone want two CD shelves?

* Yes, I get to have two desks in the house! I am lucky.

** Now ripping: Andreas Vollenweider’s classic ’93 harp album, Eolian Minstrel.

3 responses so far

Gratefulness & The End of A Career & Pens

Filed under Stationery,work by

I didn’t write much here in the last days of my employment as an IT person, but my old career had a pretty nice denouement, with much hoopla and lunches and things. My boss and grandboss were gracious about the whole thing; they were sincerely happy that I was following my heart.

(OK so that last dinner at the Piratz Tavern was a tad mortifying and uncomfortable, but I survived.) (Since when do adults badger each other to do shots anymore? Don’t answer that.) (I held out and did not do shots.)

A big surprise came during my last lunch with the team. I was presented with a card containing a note that said I had a JetPens gift certificate waiting for me! I was blown away by the generosity and stammered my way awkwardly through ‘thank you’s. It was a really nice thing to do for someone who was ditching on them. I am really grateful for the gift. This post is my way of telling them how I spent it. :)

I got two nice pens that I would never have bought myself, but have long been coveting. I also got two very nice inks in the same coveting category.

First is the Lamy Studio. I have read so many good reviews of this pen. I felt this was my opportunity to add it to the collection. I am showing it here with the Sailor Blue-Black. My dad got me some of their black ink for Christmas and that’s how I knew this one is worth the steep price. This might be the first pen I ink for note-taking. Charting/clinical work must be done in ballpoint pen, but I can take notes however I want.

Next is the big kahuna! Or the slightly smaller kahuna: the Pilot Decimo. The small version of the capless retractable fountain pen made by Pilot/Namiki. I have not filled this one yet in part because I am involved in a major pen cleaning binge and I am going to have all my pens cleaned out before I ink another (see below); but also because the CON-20 converter does not seem to fit in the Decimo. It looks like I should have bought the CON-50. Alas. I have some cartridges but I really wanted to put the gray (Iroshizuku’s kiri-same means “Autumn Showers” according to the site) ink into the silver pen.

Here’s one of the recipients of pen neglect – the nicest pen I have – soaking out some of the Iroshizuku Yama-Budo that got dried in it. I AM A BAD PEN MOM. This is the Platinum koi music nib. Poor baby. I use my Cutty Sark marina t-shirt and my Digex swag mug as my favorite cleaning aides. That weird mug has been great for being able to see what’s going on when cleaning pens! Glad I didn’t toss it.

Anyways. Cleaning up pens has been part of cleaning up my new home office. I hope to share that project with you soon. Definitely wishing I had a fisheye lens.

11 responses so far

Cuckoo Cocoon

Filed under School by

I really thought that when my time of employment ended, I would be a blogging maniac.

I thought I would be endlessly analyzing in writing what I am going through right now.

I thought I would, and could not wait to, lead my friends in a public dialogue about my shit because I felt like I needed to air it.

Then I woke up the first Monday of my freedom and any and all urge to do that just dissipated like your favorite perfume on a sweaty day. And that was almost a month ago. Almost a month ago! I cannot believe it.

I thought I might take some kind of spiritual journey. Or regular journey. I thought I might clean the house from top to bottom. I thought I might revolutionize my diet or exercise. I haven’t really done any of those things. I have puttered, and read, and drank, and visited. I have even run, and lifted; I have not been to the gym quite five days a week like I thought I would. I have an almost perfectly prepped home office ready for studying.

Today I went through my drug screening. That was the last thing to clear me for clinical placement. So I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do to be able to work in a hospital as a student. This time next month, that will be happening. The thing about the unknown is that even if you are like me, and try to prepare for every possible lurking secret difficulty, every twist, you just can’t know. You can try and try, and I sure do, but it will not happen until you get there. You would think that realizing that would allow me to unclench my ass cheeks a little. One thing that does work when I start to get a little scared: I just imagine sitting in any cubicle I have sat in during the past ten years. That sets me straight every time.

I’ve been hungering mostly for real-live in-person connection. I want to see people and hug them and have meandering conversations with them. I also want to be still in my mind. I want to be fluid and not rigid, not have my figurative knees locked when the big wave of nursing school that’s so much taller than me sweeps over.

Over and over people keep saying, “thirteen months! that will be over before you know it!” but in this few weeks of calm before the storm, and in the past few years I’ve spent working towards that, these weeks and the thirteen months that follow it stretch on to an infinite distance the end of which I cannot possibly see.

Anyways, I hate gravitas, so here’s a funny story: Jack comes over to me while I’m on the couch eating bonbons and watching Criminal Minds reruns (because I fancy Reid so much) and gets down on one knee and says, “Kim, will you affidavit me?” To which, of course, I answered, “Yes! Yes, I will affidavit you!” And then not a week later, I was on his health insurance. Isn’t that beautiful? I suppose it kind of is, because every day I am amazed and grateful at this thing he’s doing for me.

God damn it gravitas! Get back out of my post. Yech. Here’s the song I named this post for, in an excellent cover form.

20 responses so far

Kyle Cassidy Photo Workshop Report

Filed under Photos by

“Do you mind holding this saw and standing in the shower?”

My creative mind, when faced with a strange place and slightly out of my element, goes for something like a trope. That’s OK. The important thing is that I had something to light. Before this weekend? I had never lit any photo with anything better than window light and improvised table lamp BS. I really got to play.

This weekend Kyle Cassidy –  you might remember him as the famous photographer I babbled through meeting at the 2009 Philadelphia Pen Show – made a special trip to VA to run a workshop for a bunch of eager photographers, one of whom was a very grateful and lucky me. Kyle works in a style which I admire – his series of SF/F writers, gun owners, and military tattoos all bring people together, weaving a thread through contemporary lives that also shows people’s unique personalities. I feel like even trying to describe it I’m doing it a disservice. (Kyle’s favorite shot of the weekend is up on his LJ post.)

At any rate, I came away with my mind buzzing. Full. And before this weekend I would never ever have thought about getting paid. But now it’s on my mind – there is some equipment out there that I’m going to need if I’m going to do the kind of projects I’m interested in.

Another major factor of excellence of the weekend? I got to spend time with the other students. People I have met & been acquainted with peripherally for a long time, but never had the chance to talk with or work with at any length. That part of the weekend was truly delightful. Not to mention working with my BFF Telf (in the shower with the saw there). I have not yet assimilated all my notes & thoughts but you may now see the fruits of all of our labor (and a little documentation of the labor itself) if you click through the portrait Telf took of me (deftly handling the indoor/outdoor light balance).

14 responses so far

Esprit de Corps

Filed under Living Out Loud by

Writing this entry is forcing me even further down a path I started last month, which is framing my recent fight for space in my house as a fight between my teenage self and my today self, the new self that is about to go through a lot of change.

Despite what I am about to show you here, the new self is winning, I promise.

I was a superstitious kid. I had lucky “items” coming out my figurative wazoo, as I’ve mentioned. Last month Deborah came over and helped me tear through all sorts of emotionally charged objects. We found my exam-takin’ shirt! I knew it was there, and I knew I would keep it. Of all the vanloads of things we got rid of I knew this was staying. Taking photos of it today, it was a sense-memory overload as I felt the thin fabric, and saw all the fraying edges and holes worn through.

I wore this shirt every time I took an exam I was worried about. From seventh grade to senior year. I have a hard time connecting to this emotion today, but I really felt like without it, I would miss points on those tests. I guess it’s not too far off from the anxious students standing outside the A&P lab practical last year, putting mint oil on their temples hoping it would stimulate their intellectual ability. Whatever works, right?

Of course it’s an Esprit shirt. Every school year my mother would take me to the department store where once she worked nights at the fine jewelry counter busting her ass so I could go to fancy prep schools and we would go straight to those Esprit racks and pick out an outfit so that I could pretend I was ever going to fit in with the rich kids. It didn’t work, but I loved those clothes.

Now that I’m documenting it, it kind of seems silly to keep it. I mean, do I really think I will wear it to the NCLEX next year?

Of course in the box that held the treasured clothing items, there was also the jeans. The very special signed by Crowded House on their US tour jeans. The jeans that the members of Crowded House each touched, while they were on my body, as I stood outside the Boathouse in Norfolk, you know, 6 hours before the doors were even supposed to open. The uh, size 1 jeans I will never be able to wear again in my lifetime but still keep, cause, you know, someday I might have them framed for display.The jeans that feature the burning building design from the Temple of Low Men album cover that I liked so much for so long that I got a tattoo of it.

So I guess there are still some ways that teenage me is winning. I do like continuity. But now that I’ve immortalized the shirt, maybe it’s time to let go.

This is an entry for Genie’s Living Out Loud project.

7 responses so far

Hair Desires

Filed under jack by

I like a lot of things about people. I’m really big into hands. Artist and musician hands, hands with knobbly knuckles, hands that gesture a lot. I also like crooked teeth. Life’s little imperfections just get me sometimes with their beauty.

One thing I really like is when someone has their hair clipper-cut on the back of their head. I don’t know what it is but I really like that horse-coat sensation when you run your hand down the back of someone’s head, or that really short-haired dog feeling. The thick-necked ex-football-jock khaki-pants-wearing guy I dated who shall remain nameless excelled at keeping up with his grooming such that he maintained the perfect fuzz. My massage donor, girls rock camp confederate, and swell friend maintains a fantastic haircut that I try not to touch even if invited because I might like it too much. When I watch NCIS I may or may not be fetishizing Gibbs’ fantastic supposedly vaguely regulation ‘do. Back in the day, I had the back of my own head to rub at will. (I kind of miss that. Though lately I have been rocking this dual-bun thing that I would miss.)

Of course, I would end up life-partnering with mister Goldilocks just-stepped-onto-the-set-of-a-Pantene-commercial. Sometimes you overcome these shallow needs. Sometimes someone’s awesomeness overcomes what you ever thought you would like in a mate. (Lately I find myself standing in the kitchen laughing my ass off thanks to him. This has been an amazing de-stressor.)  I don’t know if he will keep his tresses forever. I harbor a not so secret hope that one day I will feel his neatly-shorn scalp. He scoffs at me. He doesn’t seem to be getting any more bald, so that won’t force his hand. I may have to get my own head shaved again after all.

I am a little annoyed with him right now because it is clearly his fault that I have had THIS stuck in my head for the past three days. On loop. Starting when I wake up in the morning, and skipping through my whole day. AUGH. Not even Tim Urban’s chilling rendition of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” could knock it out permanently, though it tried.

23 responses so far

Dog Walker

Filed under Home by

Yesterday I came home as the kid from next door was walking her dog. Her new dog, not her old dog, but that is another story I don’t even have all the details of and kind of don’t want to know.

I look down at this puppy, and this puppy looks totally happy, is sniffing everything, and is melting my puppy-weakened heart.

But this girl who can’t be any more than 9 or 10 is totally texting. She is texting the hell out of something and continues to text as she walks the dog. Something about that made me suddenly, sharp-intake-of-breath sad. She might well love that puppy and interact with that puppy at all other times than when I got home yesterday but that wasn’t the read I was getting.

I just felt like she had no idea how fantastic a blessing it is to walk your eager puppy and play with her. I also kind of saw myself and how ignorant and blind I can be when my nose is pointed at the damn phone.

Yeah, I’m always projecting. Also, I’ve been having a touch of puppy fever. Nothing to be done about that now. And no slight on our wonderful kitties either. Who I will now go pet.

14 responses so far

Get Up And Back, I’m Right On Track

Filed under health by

Thank you, Breakfast Club – not the movie. The 80s band. Does anyone else remember that song or is it just me?

I was telling my friends Christie and Megan at lunch today that it’s been a while since I got that queue-full feeling in my head. Like if I have one more detail to think about, that detail is going to get completely lost like a sad packet. I know I reached that point yesterday sitting in my car reaching for my notebook with the hunger (and aggressive pawing motions) of a savanna lion to write down that thing that if I did not write it down right now, it would be gone possibly forever or at least until it was too late to do anything about. Yes, I have lists. I have apps to take care of my timing. But there is such a thing as too much.

And I haven’t even picked out the carpet I want to put into the spare room.

Today though, after work I decided not to think about anything except how good it would feel to go to the gym. 99% of the time, I do not think it would feel good. I think it would feel terrible. Usually. Which is a lie. So 99% of the time I am lying to myself. OK, well, that’s a solvable problem, supposedly.

Of course I walk up to the front of the joint and who do I see. Like, first thing, with a client, out in front of the gym. My old trainer. Of course. Who last left me pleading voice mails saying, “please come back, I know you can do it, where are you?” Of course she is the first one to see me come back for the first time in months.

Well I walked right up to her and I said “I am back!” and then had to have that embarrassing conversation where I confess I can’t afford a trainer and in fact just had to cancel my guitar lessons thank you very much. She tried to sell me a little, but I just can’t do it. Also… sadly… her torture sessions did not make me feel good about going to the gym. They made me feel like crying. So. We’ll be trying again but my way.

Ariel is a super nice lady. But I can’t afford to work with her and I need to not walk right back into that memory of crying while my triceps told me “no” and she told me “another set”. Fortunately, today was full of encouragement. Ariel understood and she cheered me on through the door and so did her smiling client. Then while I was on the treadmill I met Mary Beth, who liked my tattoos. Then doing stretches I met Nick and Janice, another trainer and client, and may have signed on for kettlebell classes.

I guess I just had exactly the experience I needed to think of the gym as my happy place. I got a good workout that I managed to administer myself. People were smiling and friendly. The only thing they could have done to make it more awesome would have been to hand me a piece of cake as I got ready to go.

Lately I haven’t been able to sleep because of the aforementioned mental queue. I have had to break out the LOTR cassettes, and people, that means I’m in dire straits, when I need the endless walking of the Two Towers to stop my brain. So every time I am starting to crack I remember how you can’t crack or even think about getting signed up for CPR classes or returning mail order items that are wrong or angry emails about that thing you botched at work or buying prescription cat food or whatever else is on the big list when you are trying to press up your whole weight on your spindly weak arms one last time.

7 responses so far

Remotely Warm Will Suffice

Filed under Home by

You know I am desperate for friendly weather when I:

  1. go out on my front porch with a chair
  2. stay out there for an hour
  3. in 45 degree weather
  4. with the neighbor kids constantly getting almost run over or sworn at

See, my front porch is pretty much arm’s length from the actual road. If I want to spend time in a pastoral outdoor locale, I either go for the back yard (all 100 square feet of it) or I hie myself to someplace else, like a friend’s house with a real yard. Our back yard, in addition to being wee, doesn’t get much sun and still has huge piles of snow all over it.

This week though, I’ve been trapped in the house for days coughing up hideous things and slowly lowering my standards for acceptable television viewing*. So despite the slight chilliness (which I am choosing to read as lovely temperate climes) and the eardrum-busting Harleys going by in packs (their drivers are feeling this weather as much as me) and the aforementioned heart-stopping textbook soccer-ball-in-the-road incidents every five minutes, I sat in my lovely folding chair for about an hour pretending I was a Victorian lady with TB taking the air. (Thanks to Liz, excellent suggestion.) I did it twice, in fact.

I was loving it so much that the only thing that could drive me inside was the one flying stinging insect that survived the winter taking a sudden and undeniable interest in me on day one, and running out of the store of tissues I’d brought out on day two. That said, it was delightful, and may become a regular feature of my life. Traffic in my face and all.

* I DVRed something on the THIS channel (I did not know we even had a THIS channel, nor did I know until this moment what the hell it is) called “The Dark Tower” which I thought might be a vaguely interesting 1943 film about circus performers. THAT IS WHAT THE GUIDE SAID. What I got was a one-star 1987 Poltergeist ripoff called Dark Tower with everyone’s favorite weirdo Michael Moriarty in the main role. It should indicate how low my standards were that I almost watched this thing.

8 responses so far

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