tl;dr I Have a Hoarse Voice

My cold is now in the “my voice sounds like I have been a smoker for forty years” phase.

If there was a karaoke bar for sick people, I could totally rock this song:

Which always reminds me of this:

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Two Zombie Cross-Stitch Projects Are Complete!

The best part about having a sick day is I was able to finish some crafting projects (while watching a Twilight Zone marathon, of course).

Here is the first project I finished:

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I still need to iron it a little better to get the wrinkles from the hoop out.  The stitching gets a little haywire in the zombie’s hands, but I made this for my brother and I do not think he is a cross stitch aficionado.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have finished this one.  I have been working on it for a month now and was just ready to be done with it.  Adding the gray accents was especially tedious, because the color chart is really small and hard to see.  Plus, the colors look too similar to tell apart.  I had to stare at the booklet to determine what the color was.

This project, however, only took me a couple of hours:

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It was thankfully very, very easy.

Now I have one more project to complete out of this book to complete my Halloween gifts. I hope I can get it done quickly…I’ve had enough of stitching zombies.

Sick Day

Choosing to take a sick day was harder than you’d think.

I don’t have any imminent deliverables.  My project manager is out of the office.  I’m sure I already inadvertently infected my surrounding work station with my germs by going to work on Monday and Tuesday.  I feel okay today – still have a stuffy nose, general fatigue, and a slight headache now and then.  But since I’m not so sick that I can’t get off the couch (and I’ve been that sick before), I thought I should go into work.

But I talked myself out of it. I don’t feel too much guilt right now, though I would have liked to have saved the sick time.  I can’t complain, though. I have a good immune system so I don’t use up very much sick time.  Last year was anomaly because I got sick twice rather than just once, as is usually the case.  Getting sick is almost like a novelty to me.

The last time I got sick was August 2012.  I don’t remember much about it.  I remember that I had a mean cough that lingered for months.  Apollo was just a baby then, which is partially the reason why I have a hard time remembering being sick.   The first couple months of his puppydom are a blur to me, because work got really busy after we got him, and having a  new puppy is overwhelming.  I do remember that we put up baby gates for him because he wasn’t allowed to wander around the apartment without supervision.  Puppy bedtime was strictly enforced at 10 pm.  And he was too tiny to jump on the couch, so he was always trying to crawl under it.

Over a year later, Apollo is all grown-up and we are very close.  Though he’s not a baby anymore, I was worried about his energy level while I was sick; would I be able to take care of him?  He’s actually been good, though, except for thinking that all my tissues are for his general consumption.  I try to blow my nose and I feel something yanking on the other end of my tissue – it’s my dog, trying to eat it.  I was trying to cuddle him the other night and he kept trying to make these last stand efforts to run to my coffee table and eat more tissues.  He has also been helping himself to any unattended orange juice.

I think I will spend the day just watching TV, finishing up some craft projects, and maybe boosting up a Theros deck I bought a month ago.  I felt guilty about taking a day off, but it’s nice to relax and have an excuse to indulge in laziness.

Half Marathon Training – Week 9

I knew I was going to get sick the minute I walked into Boyfriend’s apartment. He had been fighting a cold for several days, and though my immune system is generally good, it’s not that good.  We had friends over Saturday night to play Magic (which was a lot of fun), and at least one of his coworkers was sick. I think the other was fighting it off.  Either way, I was surrounded by cold germs and there was no way out.

I still wanted to run Sunday morning.  The schedule has us up to 7 miles now.  I initially didn’t want to run 7 miles; I just wasn’t feeling it, and I decided that I might knock my immune system down more if I did.  After forcing myself out of the house, I began my run on campus.  The weather was so beautiful outside – sunny, cool but not cold.  Texas Fall.  My initial laziness quickly morphed into zeal, and I did not want to stop running. I probably would have run the entire 7 miles had I not talked myself out of it.  I already know that I can physically run 7 miles – why knock my immune system down even more?  It was better to do a shorter run and maybe save myself from getting sick, rather than running the full seven and then for sure get sick.

I reluctantly stopped my run after about 4 or 4.5 miles.  Looking back now, I probably should have run the full 7.  That night my throat got sore, and now I’m sick. 

I know there are runners who subscribe to the idea of running if you have symptoms only above the neck, but I’m not one of those runners.  As much as I love running, it can put a lot of stress on your body.  I think it’s better to rest for a couple of days and miss a couple of days of running, rather than continually running and prolonging your illness. 

So, half marathon training is on hold until I can kick this cold in the face.

Things You Should Avoid Saying to a Parent With a Severe Food Allergy

The first thing you should say when the parent tells you about encountering the food while cleaning out a sibling’s desk drawer is:

Oh my goodness! Are you okay?

And not:

Maybe you shouldn’t clean out his drawers next time.

When the parent responds by accusing you of harboring resentment from having your drawers cleaned out as a child and for not having any empathy, you should not say:

Well, I know you’re fine because we’re having this conversation right now.

You should then not try and backtrack your statement by saying the following:

When I say that you shouldn’t be cleaning out his drawers…I’m only looking out for you!

Saying all of the above might get you in what is colloquially known as “the dog house.”

Half Marathon Training – Weeks 6 – 8

I’ve seen a definite progression in these past three weeks of training.  First, I’m getting extremely competitive with people in my running groups.  Now, I’ve always been a little competitive when I run in groups – it’s how I push myself.  But lately, I pick a person in the group, think, “I’m going to run faster than that person,” and then focus on running ahead of them.  Then I’ll stay in an imaginary competition with that person throughout the whole workout.  My pride hinges on staying ahead of them.  I try to hide my competitiveness – no showboating or anything, because that’s stupid.  Sometimes I’ll keep ahead of that person throughout the entire workout.  Other times, I end up picking someone who is much faster than I am and have to swallow my pride when they eventually pass me up with ease.

But the result? I find myself running much faster, even on solo workouts.  I didn’t do any speed training when I trained for my marathon two years ago (because I hated speed workouts), and I’m realizing now that it was a mistake.  The speed workouts I am doing on Wednesday have contributed enormously to my improvement. I ran the hills last week and I didn’t feel winded at all (the cooler weather helped, for sure). I ran the last lap with my friend Richard, who noted that he could hardly tell I’d taken a break from running, and that we were running that lap only 18 seconds slower than he normally would (and Richard is fast!)  It felt really good to hear, especially since I had been so frustrated to burn out with running when I was in probably the best shape of my life.

It also means that I am probably going to have to run faster now on Wednesdays, whether I like it or not.  Haha.

I also realized how much harder it is to get the motivation to do longer runs without my group.  On Saturday of Week 6, I reluctantly woke up at 6 am and checked the group’s Facebook page since we had been expecting inclement weather.  “Lightning has been spotted – we cannot run or walk under any circumstances,” the page said.  YES!  I happily crawled back into bed and slept in.  I didn’t run that day, and I didn’t have any motivation to run on Sunday, either.  That Monday, I finally forced myself to complete the long run.  It was supposed to be six miles, but I stopped at around five.

For Week 7, I went to visit Boyfriend and couldn’t meet with my running group.  When Saturday rolled around,  I slept in instead of going running.  On Sunday, I found myself not wanting to run, but forced myself to.  I’m so glad I did – the weather was absolutely gorgeous and I felt happy and strong as I ran my six miles around a park near Boyfriend’s apartment.  It was just a beautiful day and that run made me happy to be alive.

The workout for Week 8 was MUGGY.  I woke up early Saturday morning and drove to the Chase Bank parking lot where the group was meeting.  It was a different location than we usually meet.  Of course, I turned into the parking lot in an area where all the runners were lined up – cue awkward backing up.  Once I parked, I hurried over to the lines, hoping I would not be late.  I did not see my running coach, and others in the group said they hadn’t seen her in weeks.  I decided to try and catch up with the 9:00-9:15 pace group.  It’s a little faster than what I wanted to train, but I think I can do it.  Besides, I’d rather run just a little faster than usual than not run with anyone.

Of course, the half marathon coach and one half-marathon trainee were leading the group.  Once the marathoners and half-marathoners split off, I kicked it in and ran up to them, trying to keep the awkwardness to a minimum.  I explained how my coach hadn’t been showing up, apparently, and that I wanted to train with them.  They were more than welcoming and I started running next to them.  The run went fairly well, besides the humidity.  It was in a neighborhood where I had completely hit the wall two years ago, on an 18-mile training run.  The neighborhood is flat but stretches a long distance, so it is not encouraging to stare ahead and see how much more you have left to run. Luckily, this run was much shorter and I did not hit a wall.

At the end of our run, we stopped in the Chase Bank parking lot.  Well, a Chase Bank parking lot.  “Where are all the cars?” my coach asked.  That’s when we realized that our meeting place was a block away, and were in the wrong parking lot.

Next week – moving on up to seven miles!  Cold fronts are projected to hit the state today and Friday, so the weather should be gorgeous!

A Very Lazy Weekend

This weekend was so cozy and lazy. I loved it.

It’s fall here in Texas and though the weather may not be chilly, we’re getting our fair share of rain.   We had some torrential rain this weekend, which was fortunate since we are in a drought and desperately need it …but unfortunate since everything flooded.  ACL was actually canceled because apparently, Zilker Park was a swimming pool.  There was not much flooding near where I live, luckily.

This weekend’s respite was needed, especially after a sometimes frustrating week.  I took so many naps this weekend! I had no idea why I was so tired.  I did run six miles on Saturday with my training group, so perhaps that had something to do with it.  We visited a couple of bookstores on Saturday, and I actually did not buy any books; success!  We left my apartment only once yesterday, to go shopping for food.  I cooked and cleaned a little yesterday, got caught up on work, worked on my cross-stitch, finished the PZ Myers book, continued reading Game of Thrones, and even worked on my writing. I drank tea and painted my nails.  I snuggled with Apollo and Boyfriend and watched Buying Alaska, which is a really entertaining show.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s about couples who want to buy a home in Alaska.  The prospective buyers always say things like, “Wow! This outhouse is so big!” and never seem deterred if the prospective home takes, like, a half hour to reach by snow machine.  And if they ask why there’s some sort of weird contraption on the house, the answer is always “to keep bears away.”

I also practiced my drums.  I feel much better than I did earlier this week, when I wrote that emo blog post about disappointment.  I’m older now and more mature, and I can’t beat myself up for mistakes I made when I was younger.  Plus, I can either use my disappointment to fuel my ambitions, or stay stuck in my laziness.  I choose the former and I feel much better about it.  Besides, I can’t expect to be a great drummer overnight.  Michael is starting to do some really awesome things with his career, but he’s been a professional musician for almost 20 years.  Likewise, another person I really look up to, Suchi (my best friend’s older sister) has had her writing published in Slate, Huffington Post, and the New York Times this year…but she’s also been writing for over ten years. 

Point is – I cannot expect to be fantastic at anything if I don’t put work into it.  And even when I do put work into it, I should expect to be working at it for a LONG TIME before I get anywhere.  It’s inspiring to see Michael’s and Suchi’s successes, knowing how much hard work they’ve put into their craft.  Hard work, experience, and maturity is rewarded, but only if you really work at it. 

I’m really grateful to have had such a relaxing weekend to indulge in my hobbies and activities.  I feel so much more refreshed for the work week.