Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Double Down-Up

On Saturday, my iPod froze. I was able to reset it, and it contined to work just fine, but quite a scare. Later in the evening, the display and sound on my cell phone *just* stopped working. OK, I dropped it, but there wasn't any alcohol involved in the mishap - promise. And then, our wireless Internet and cable modem crapped out.

On Sunday, I still could not do anything useful with my phone. I could hear it ring when someone called, and I could answer the call, but no one on the other end could hear me. And because Cingular Wireless is managed by an army of idiots, I couldn't get a replacement. Defeated, I went home and worked my engineering degree to the bone as I attempted to restore connectivity to the Internet. Yep. I turned the power on and off and unplugged and replugged that modem at least ten times. But no success. The cable modem kept blinking at "Send" and never made it to "Online."

And then there was Monday. A day without technology. Er, at home anyway. Yes, I sat in front of a computer and next to a traditional telephone all day at work, but do you know how stressful it is to not have a cell phone or a computer for an entire day? How about two entire days?

Three days? Don't even go there. Because on the third day, Tuesday, which will forevermore be referred to as my Sabbath, on Tuesday Techno-Goddess shined down upon me. She said, "Nic, I'm going to help you out here." And help she did.

In a last ditch effort to save my cell phone before wasting an hour on the phone with Cingular, I power on to find a lit display! I place a call and the person on the other end hears me. And I hear them! Mr. Comcast comes to my house and fixes my Internet connection. He doesn't damage my ego - the problem was with the signal being sent to our house. Woo-hoo!

And then, just when I don't think it can get any better, a nice big box from Dell is placed on my desk at work. And inside that box is my new laptop. MY laptop. MINE MINE MINE MINE.

I fought my engineering urge to go home and play on my new computer all night. I took myself to the gym. I completed my 6 mile tempo run. I did it in 51:30. I nearly had a heart attack when I looked at my watch and saw how fast I did the run. And then I nearly had another one when I realized that my heart wasn't really pounding too badly, nor were my legs feeling like jelly. I felt fantastic.

Scary, no? A double high a la Techno and Runner?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Red Lights Flashing

It’s dark. Rain is falling, but it drops so lightly that it could easily be mistaken for a thick fog. For the first few blocks it is very quiet. Almost too quiet. I make it to Polk Street and am greeted by the street lights, which are a soft yellow, and the flashing reds of the stop lights.

The only cars on the street belong to the street cleaners and delivery teams unloading pounds and pounds of fresh vegetables to the corner stores. Everyone is getting ready for another day.

I scurry from corner to corner, quickly looking both ways before I dodge across the intersections. I think about my upcoming run or spin class. Now that I'm out of bed, the hardest part of the workout is behind me. I develop my daily mental checklist of all I hope to accomplish before hitting the pillow at night.

During these moments, nothing stands in my way – not even a crosswalk. For these 15 minutes, the upcoming day, week, month, and year, are full of promise.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Running on the Top of the Bay

It was sunny. And at 55 degrees with a light breeze, it was perfect weather for a long training run style tour of the city. Starting with a brisk warm-up down California Street to the Ferry Building. A right onto Embarcadero in the direction of SBC Park, which I actually hadn’t seen until this Sunday. Dodging tourists and kids on tricycles, the first 40 minutes of the run flew by before I was back on the familiar trail, running along the Marina and through Crissy Field.

Out to Hoppers Hands and I had ONLY been going for about 70 minutes. And so I decided to see how the Golden Gate looked from the other side – the TOP side. Back towards the city, and up the Presidio hill. (Yep, the hill that everyone who ran the Nike Women’s Marathon loved so much!) I quickened my pace in an effort to make it go by more quickly. And between breaths, I laughed to myself at the pure idiocy of running this hill on my own volition.

After a much shorter time than I predicted, I reached the top and took my first few steps out onto the bridge. Crossing #2. Although it was loud, and there were a bizillion tourists, these two miles across and back were nothing short of glorious. I allowed my mind to wander as I took in all the sounds and scenery. Will traveling across this structure ever become mundane? How can people who want to end their life not change their mind when they see how beautiful everything is from up here? When will my family and friends come visit me? Will my inner thighs ever stop rubbing when I run?

I didn't say it was all going to be poetic...

Recent bouts with homesickness and my scale aside, life really can’t be too bad when the scenery for you’re weekly long run includes the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Marin Headlands.

Life is good. And so was my run: 2 hours, 20 minutes, 15 miles, 1 yummy packet of Chocolate Gu, 0 blisters, and an accomplishment that merits a few hours of wasting time.

(Insert whistles here...)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


My doctor would prefer if I weighed 15 pounds less than I currently weigh.
My current weight is 15 pounds more than what is ideal.
If I lost a pound a week for 15 weeks I’d weigh what I should weigh.
I weigh 15 pounds too much.
High school: 7 and a half years and 15 pounds ago.
If I chopped off an arm (or a leg?) I’d weigh my ideal weight.
If I were six inches taller I’d weigh what I should weigh.
I have to lose 15 pounds.

All of the above are obvious euphemisms for the following: I effing HATE scales.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Who Spins When She Spins

She grew up in front of a mirror. She danced solos and lead large groups. She won trophies and the respect of her peers - teammates and competitors. She even danced professionally, albeit at a theme park. Her teacher couldn't understand why she wanted to go to college, expecting her to dance on Broadway or MTV.

Maybe if it were JUST about dancing, she wouldn't have walked away from it all. Because all too often, it was about line ups. All too often she endured hearing, "5 of you are too fat." Weekly, as she came into the studio straight from soccer practice, she was told not to run too much. It was making her legs thick. And there were the injuries. Pinched nerves and pain in the hips. Hours and hours and hours each week for a few minutes on stage. It lost its appeal. It wasn't fun anymore.

And so she walked away. She went to college. And although she did end up dancing there, it wasn't the same. It was much more relaxed. (Which was good, obviously.)

There was no dancing in DC. Four years have passed since her final curtain call. But she can't bring herself to throw away the leotards. And when presented with a desserted hallway or open kitchen floor, she still finds herself tapping or twirling. The songs still give her goosebumps. She can still perform her first routine, which she danced over twenty years ago, now. When she hears music, she sees the movements that should accompany it.

So she summoned all of her courage. She put on the leotard and tights. She stood in the back of the room.
Her body doesn't move as easily as it did during her 17 years of consistent, dedicated study. She is dizzy after a series of chaînés. She can't hold her arabesque. She trips over her own feet while she performs pas de bourrée across the floor. Her short term memory fails her over and over again. Eight count after eight count goes in through her eyes and out through her feet. The steps are drowned by the music. Most of the time, she is lost.

There was little grace. And there was barely any confidence. But the wonder was still there. And on that rare occassion when a pirouette was completed perfectly, there was a smile on her face. There was a happiness surging from her fingers to her toes.

...we are spinning and spinning and spinning and...

Determined, after completing the class, to come back next week. To come back out of her shell.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Beep Beep, Bang Clang

The City of San Francisco really cares about the environment. And I'm lucky for that.

I’m lucky that the city trash collectors collect trash (and recyclables...) in my neighborhood every day. And I’m really lucky that I have a trash chute at my backdoor. Because the trash collectors back their truck down the alley next to my apartment pick up trash in the back, I never have to walk trash out to the curb. And I never have to walk the garbage can back to the house from the curb. As my former roommates can attest, I HATE this chore. And I'm so lucky I never have to do it!

Oh, but that's not all. Because I’m also very lucky that the city trash collectors make so much effing noise during this whole, "Back into the alley-Slam the trash into the truck-Drive out of the alley" process. (All under Nic's bedroom window...) Because it happens - EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING - between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Eh? Didn't I tell you? So tremendously lucky!

Here's the thing: I actually WANT to wake up somewhere within this half hour time span. You know, the night before I have to wake up, I mean. When I get ready to go to bed, I look at the clock and say, "I will rise at 5!" However when 5 rolls around I'm not normally as keen on waking up as I was the night before. I tend to wake up and contemplate re-setting my alarm for two hours later. (I do NOT snooze!)

Luckily, I have this whole city trash initiative. Thanks to the City of San Francisco, every morning, whether I like it or not, glorious cacophony catapults me from my bed. Without thinking I apply the BodyGlide and leap into my shorts, T-shirt, and running shoes. I am so eager to get away from the noise that I quickly forget I am OFF on my run. And by the time I REALLY wake up, I have logged the day's running mileage.

No wonder I haven't missed a single run in this year's first Training Schedule.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Location, Location, Location

Around the corner from Grace Cathedral. Nob Hill. San Francisco. California. West Coast. This Location, Location, Location is fabulous.

Still, sometimes I find myself staring up at the Sacramento Street Mountain with fear. Empty and afraid of the landslide of loneliness that screaches down the hills and swallows me.

Luckily, she's been there. And at Speed Dial #2, second only to my voicemail, she is within easy reach. Our friendship defies the thousand miles for each Location, Location, Location that separates us.

Her voice is soothing. S
he reminds me to breathe. I gather my courage, and I surface from the flood of tears. She walks me home, empowering me to conquer tonights' emotional double black diamond.

And when I do make it to the top, winded and teary eyed, it does feel good to be here.
San Francisco - it has its ups and downs. Oh, the prices we pay for Location, Location, Location.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Me and My Shadow

She's taller. And leaner. How I wish I looked. And fast. She's fast.

But I was keeping up. And if you want to get technical about it, I guess I was driving her. Down JKF Jr. Drive. Down and around the carousel. Past the Conservatory of Flowers. Around the Japanese Tea Garden. Alongside Stowe Lake and without realizing it, headed into Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Left on the Great Highway. Smiling. Hello-ing to everyone I passed.

I didn't glance at my watch until I had been going for almost 40 minutes. I turned around at Vicente Street, my Out finished and my Back beginning. Up the Sunset coast, beaming. Stronger than the sun with every stride. Right onto Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, winding along, up and down the rolling hills. All the way back to Hippie Hill. High as a Kite...

Me, and the San Francisco locals hanging out there.

I'm 5'3" on a good day, but today I was 5'6" for 12 miles. Soaring through Golden Gate Park. Right, Left, Right. Just me and My Shadow. She's taller. And leaner. Unfortunately for her, she can't beam like I can.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Seven - Eleven

You're drinking a Miller Lite. You're out with your friends. At the standard Friday night locale. You start casually talking, and because he's actually funny, you don't really realize how good looking he is. At first. You protest when he tries to buy you a drink - you still don't realize how good looking he is. So you order one yourself but continue talking. And after a while, you're actually enjoying your time at this bar.

You realize he's wicked funny. And because you have finally realized that he is good looking, you start to fear that you are laughing and smiling so much that your forehead vein is bulging. And then you start to hope you remembered to floss because he keeps making you smile so much and you'll die if anything is stuck in your teeth. You want to go to the bathroom to reapply lipstick but you're having too much fun. So much fun you start to wonder if you shaved your legs. And you actually hope that you didn't because things always seem to happen when you didn't.

And since my father reads this, I will clarify that THINGS are always rated PG, of course.

And when the tone of the conversation changes you realize he can also speak - intelligently - about books and movies and television shows. You are thrilled that he is also pissed yet secretly proud that Arrested Development wasn't grasped by the mainstream. His girl (space) friend stops by to say hello you are overjoyed that he has a girl (space) friend. You are delighted to hear him ramble on about his favorite band more than his favorite sports team. Although you are relieved that he also does have a favorite sports team. And when the conversation inevitably turns to something political (because you brought it up) he doesn't offend you. And you wonder what your friend (GPSH, LEF, AFS, MMG...) would think about his response.

And this is all because he's a Seven - Eleven. Undercover Goodlooking plus How Can You Not Love This Guy personality. Clever. Intelligent. Funny. Well-read. Pop-culture literate.

Mr. Seven Eleven.

And now I've psyched myself up enough to get in the shower and go out tonight.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Better Off

I carry stress in my neck. It's not an ideal location. It presses on my collarbones. And makes holding my head upright difficult. It makes me seriously consider hailing a cab home to hide in my bed under layers of covers.

It makes me bitter. And it prohibits me from thinking straight. That's the part I hate the most. Right now, within this fog of stress, I wish I could take back every fucking minute. Those spent late at night picking up slack. And those that infiltrated my vacation. My non-vacation. And those filled with the drama. The MELOdrama.

It is wrong to want to take the minutes back. Because I am fortunate this happened now instead of later. Fortunate it isn't worse than it is. Fortunate that it provided me lessons I won't find anywhere else.

I will continue to make it about the people. I will continue to do my best. I will continue to be fair. But next time, I will never forget to look out for myself. And next time, I will demand that they EARN my respect, trust, and loyalty. Next time, I won't be so naive. And next time, I will be so much better off. Having this behind me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Some describe runner's high like a detachment from mind and body. Quite often, it does feel that way for me. Right, left, right, left, POW! I can't help but smile, I forget about the chub rub, I don't feel the butt jiggle, and I take off, full speed ahead. I can't feel my legs. I almost look down and see myself moving. I feel six inches taller. I am (figuatively) higher. And my body screams, "I LOVE THIS!"

On other days, m
ore often than not, it doesn't feel like that. Right... left... right... left... WHAM! Every stride is into the wall. It is a challenge to actually suck in the air. I obsess about the chafe. I incredulously examine my watch for defects. There is no way in HELL I have not been on this track/trail/belt for at least ten times longer than the time appearing on the display. I hate every step.

These unpleasant, difficult steps still scream, though. Not as loud as the good ones, but loud enough to muffle the SHOULDS. The I should call, write, spend, save, hurry up, slow down. The I should eat more vegetables, practice more yoga, overanlayze fewer relationships, watch less television, wear smaller jeans, read more books.

Which is why, even though this morning's trek was unpleasant and difficult, I will lace up again tomorrow. Because even the unpleasant and difficult miles provide detachment. If not between my mind and body, than at least between my mind and itself.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Float On

Her visit went quickly. One minute I was instructing her how to take the bus to my apartment, and the next I was alone again. She on a flight back home and I about to pay my toll to cross the Bay Bridge and drive back home to my apartment from the Oakland Airport.

She is rather ridiculous. One minute telling the DJ he can't DJ for shit because he won't play, "Push It." The next touristing at Pier 39, mockingly stirking the "Pensive" pose in front of the sea lions. First clinking saki shots to being bold, and much later
helplessly (not to mention incorrectly) writing herself off as inherently flawed. And finally proclaiming love for a bridge without referring to either of the two that cross the San Francisco Bay.

She is rather amazing.
She is hella wicked smart. And she can't help but leave you with your jaw wide open when she discusses what she wants to do with her life. She recalls entire episodes of Saturday Night Live that were aired before her birth. She conquers public transportation systems wherever she goes. And she clears the dance floor with her seductive gyrations. She cannot answer a question without bringing an entirely unique perspective to the issue. She is intense. And fearless. And caring.

I can't help but talk for an hour without taking a breath when she asks what's going on. And I can't lie when she asks how I am and the answer is NOT GOOD. I can't help but feel better because her advice is sound, and calming. I can't help but giggle like a little girl at her. And after a weekend with her, I can't help but be reminded of what I have accomplished. I can't help but be proud to be HERE.

But after this weekend I am also entirely sad that we never had the Sunday at Tryst with the Washington Post. Or that we will likely never again have another Wednesday night to wait for Manny & Olgas to never arrive while playing Klax on Sega Genesis without speaking for 3 hours. And that we will never again smoke cigarettes out of our apartment windows and talk about how we can't wait to tell our daughters (someday) about the amazing 3 years we spent together, just out of college, really figuring out life, in Washington, DC.

As I drove past My Sign, I realized that more than likely not, our future together consists soley of long weekends in San Francisco or Chicago. I smile and wipe away the tears that fall as I remember her telling me that it's OK to not feel like myself. Even HERE in this amazing place. Because I'm no longer who I was and personal growth is hardly comfortable.

I turn up the radio. There
will be other weekends. More WELCOME signs. More suffocating hugs and countless good-bye air kisses. We will continue to go wherever the wind, the relationships, the job, or the MOXY takes us.

EMI and I will both float on alright.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jacket Free January

It was barely a mile away. And it was before 8:00 a.m. And I love walking - especially when it's really an urban hike. So I laced up my sneakers. Their blue trim matched my navy blue suit. I strapped on my laptop and head out the door.

It was glorious outside. The kind of morning you took for granted when you were a kid and had summers off. The kind of morning that now, as a young professional, makes you cry. (When it falls on a weekday.) Because it was August. And it was DC. And after barely making it 4 blocks from my apartment, sweat had permeated thoughout every fiber of my pale blue blouse. I was dripping with sweat, and there was no way in hell I could acceptably show up at my 8:30 AM meeting looking - and melting - like this. SBS!

So I ducked into the Starbucks at 18th and Colubmia. I promptly covered myself in napkins, frantically dabbing my soaking wet skin in a feeble attempt to lap up the liquids streaming from my pores. I ordered an Iced Coffee and tried not to make eye contact with the Barrista, who was likely wondering why I had pieces of napkin all over my face. I downed the coffee and then used the change from the purchase to board the 42 Bus. I rode it seven more blocks to my meeting North of Dupont Circle.

As you can imagine, I was suprised to arrive at my new office on Day #1 with a bit of Sweaty Back Syndrome. (Luckily, the back of my knees were safe from perspiration.) So it seems like I can't fight the Italian in me and I'm going to continue to sweat even here in temperate San Francisco. But I'm OK with it. Eventually, summer will arrive, and I'll be enduring the coldest winter of my life. For now, three words: Jacket Free January.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In With the New

In with 5 veggies a day. In with cooking dinner. (Tonight) In with using a knife to put peanut butter on something else before it reaches my mouth. In with the tea, and in with not drinking an entire pot of coffee each day.

In with a new roomate, KT. In with a new coffee pot and a new blender. In with Harriet, my new iPod, who replaces the deceased Wilson. In with new music, and singing... and skatting... loudly.

In with a new "commute." In with a new office and cubicle and boss and team.
In with new products, training classes, SOPs, and holidays. In with a new email address. A new daytime phone number. In with a new combination to get back into the office from the bathroom. In with a new favorite lunchtime destination.

In with a new, refreshing start to life in San Francisco. And in with what feels like Phase Five is FINALLY, REALLY getting up and running.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


While reading the newspaper over Christmas, in PA across the table from my dad, I came across an editorial asking people to resolve not to resolve in 2006.

I don't quite see what's fun about that, though. Therefore, I resolve...
  • To eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day.
  • To call my brother once a week to say hello.
  • To wear more hats.
  • To read at least one book each month.
  • To run a marathon PR of 3:50.
  • To cook a new meal for dinner once a week.
  • To put at least $250 into my savings account each month.
  • To take the GMAT.
  • To apply to business school.
  • To send birthday cards to my friends and family.
  • To get over the exes. (Really... for good.)
  • To explore more of San Francisco.
  • To end binge drinking habits.
  • To resume taking dance classes.
  • To learn how to ski... or snow board. Whatever.
  • To take golf lessons.
  • To pay off my car.
  • To floss daily.
  • To take vitamins each morning.
  • To drink less coffee and more tea.
  • To be on time.
  • To eat more fish.
  • To eat less peanut butter straight from the jar.
  • To take a great vacation somewhere warm and tropical.
  • To ______. (That one's personal.)
  • To religiously apply anti-wrinkle cream.
  • To sing loudly and often.
  • To laugh much.
Happy New Year!