Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last night my friend T and her man had a few folks over to their suburban outpost to eat dinner and lounge in their pool, and it was awesome--both the company and the lounging. The pool was the perfect temperature, and the weather was perfectly hot, and we had floaty things to sit on and beverages aplenty. So I got alllll hammered and ridiculous, and ultimately disappeared from the festivities to go for a pee and never came back. I realized in the bathroom that I needed to go to bed immediately, so I threw my bathing suit in the tub and conked out in the guest room and didn't reappear until morning. I learned today that Bill barfed when he got home, so I don't feel that I was necessarily the dronkest person there, though I probably was. But at least I was not alone.

And I had planned from the get go to stay overnight and ride my bike home 28 miles in the morning (my bike and I caught a ride to T's with a friend). What, that doesn't seem like an awesome post-party idea to you? So I did that today, though morning turned into mid-afternoon before I got my ass out the door. What can I say, T and I had tons of catching up to do anyway and she is the talkingest person I know, probably. The long chat also gave me a chance to lose the wee hangover, recover some hydration, and eat before hitting the road, and I felt nearly peppy when I got on my bike. T assured me that the route would be all nice and flat, and that I would be surprised at how fast it went. But she was wrong on both counts. Turns out the NW suburbs are full of rolling hills. And there was wind, primarily from the south, which was primarily the direction I was heading. Also, the terrain was kinda all over the place, and I had to stop at A LOT of stoplights. And I took a really dumb detour to see where one path went, and ended up at the Sculpture Garden, where I did not need to be. So no, I was not really impressed with how fast it was. In fact I was mostly slow. But I did get in the habit of yelling "Heyyyyyyyyyyyy" on every downhill.

However! It was not all dogged slogging through the heat. Medicine Lake was beautiful, and I got to ride with a bald eagle for awhile. He was right over my head, close enough to cast a big shadow on me (maybe he thought my helmet was prey?). I also rode my bike over a floating boardwalk on another wee detour in some regional park lake/wetland, which was a little creepy but cool. Then there was all the usual Minneapolis bike trail beauty blah blah love letter to the city trails blah, except I would have given my kingdom for a falafel stand to materialize in Theo Wirth park (it did not).

Now, though, I am thrashed. My ass is all chafed from bike seat friction, and I'm developing a very uncool rash that has caused me to google "bike butt rash." I am completely full of falafel and baba ganoush (holla!) and very, very tired. So I'm going to apply some ointment and get a solid night of sleep. I'll check you on the flipper.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zoooom.

Can you all just come here and go on a long bike ride with me? Would the exhilaration even be the same if shared? I don't know, but I do know that this was an amazing evening for a bike ride. I met Dr. Dra, my dearie and old roommate, for dinner after work and then had a zippy, luscious, fragrant 8 mile ride home at sunset. What's happening outside, anyway? The temperature is perfect and it smells amazing. Woodsmoke, pine needles, a farmy fecund smell that's probably the combination of grass clippings and too much standing water, flowers. I was huffing it like crazy, and I snorked up a few gnats in the process, which was a small price to pay. It was nicely breezy when we were sitting outside at Republic, but heading south and west there was no wind to fight. And I saw a mink humping along by the creek--I've never seen one around here before. I know they're nasty little fuckers but it was so sleek and alert and cute that it just felt like a bonus of the ride to spot it.

This blog is turning into a love letter to the Minneapolis bike trail system, but I don't care. I'm already dreading the end of bike season, and my Steger mukluks came in the mail yesterday as if to remind me that nothing lasts forever, least of all summer, so I better keep pedaling.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

At the end of the week.

I'm on spotify listening to Amy Winehouse (like everyone else on spotify, probably), but I'm listening to old b-sides from her first record--it appears to be mostly demos. I can't get over how different she sounded back then. Fresher, less affected, healthier voice, so much finesse. I wish you were all listening to it with me right now. Everybody saying she was a one-hit wonder, or not such a great talent, needs to STFU.

There's another thunderstorm going on right now. I used to try not to blog about the weather, but this entire year has been wild and it's one of those external factors that affects my (and everyone else's) mood in a huge way. At one point in the past week, Moorhead, MN was literally the hottest/most humid place on the planet. That's up by Fargo, dontcha know. In other words, really fucking far north. As for the Twin Cities, the air has been thick, heavy, and sweaty, and I've been living in climate control. I get antsy, though. So I've been running and biking in some serious heat, and lord have I sweated. I try not to complain, but you know: we had 40 below as well, so that's like a 160 degree spread up in here when you factor in the heat index and the windchill. How are we not all reeling all of the time?

This morning I was up early to go escort at the clinic. It was hot and sunny when I left, so I dressed for heat and slathered on sunscreen. Then as I stood downtown the wind picked up and everything went dark and the temperature dropped. I could see the weather swirling past overhead, between the tall buildings. The wind was blowing trash out of all the dumpsters and garbage cans and I watched a plastic bag get caught in an updraft and go swirling above the street, like the detritus in the Wizard of Oz cyclone scene. But the rain never really pounded down, which is good because you can't hide out in the doorway if you're escorting. Charlie the anti was there as usual, dressed in full raingear with his giant droopy bags of propaganda. One thing he does sometimes after yelling at women to watch their ultrasound is position himself near the windows, presumably so that whoever just went inside will look at him as they wait for the elevator, and he holds up this wee dolly--I don't even think it's an illustrative plastic fetus, just a tiny, caucasian baby that I'm sure is much appreciated by the diverse clientele--and makes sad Muppet face (or puppet mouth) while staring meaningfully into the window. And I look off to the side and laugh because the Muppet face KILLS me. And then I go inside and close the blinds.

Anyway, it started pouring as soon as I got into my car to scoop LA up for brunch when my shift was over. But then it was perfect outside when we were done with brunch. There was even a delicious coolness discernible in the breeze. Thanks, universe! So we snooped around a few NE boutiques, including one that was totally for arty ladies of a certain age. Who can spend $300 on artisanal linen overalls. And there I ran into a choreographer (arty lady of a certain age par excellence) who used to be my sister's teacher, and who I had JUST been talking about at brunch, which was weird--weird that I mentioned her in the first place, and weird that I saw her when I've literally never run into her anywhere in the cities, ever. I should work on manifesting something more useful to me than choreographers, right?

I think I manifested a kickstand earlier this week though. I woke up Monday morning thinking about how I need to put a double kickstand on my bike if I am ever to load the thing properly with groceries, and then when I got on the internet a Craigslist ad popped up in my feed listing a Civia double kickstand--in other words, the double kickstand made by the same company that made my bike. I don't even have a saved search for "kickstand"; why would I? I'm going to pick it up tomorrow morning.

Then I'm going to go visit my friend/mentor/former teacher Glenda, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer this week. This is cancer number three, for those of you who are playing along at home. Naturally when I got the news my first thoughts were of myself, and what a shite friend I've been the last six months. I never write, I never call, etc. I've gotten over my cheap self somewhat but when I finally got ahold of her yesterday, practically the first thing I said was "I hate that I'm calling you because you're in the hospital." Call the people you love, I guess is what I'm saying. Now I have to do some googling for her because I said I'd help with research about treatment. She's staring down the barrel of surgery because I don't think she can handle chemo or radiation. She'd unintentionally lost 120 pounds in the last several months leading up to this, which should have alarmed the hell out of somebody. I can't imagine.

My folks are leaving for their annual Montana trip this week, so I might try to see them tomorrow too. Just drive all over the cities (I'm not biking 10 miles to pick up the kickstand, then 25 to visit G, then 20 to see the parents, hail naw). They're going to take a circuitous road to camp and luxuriate in some hot springs and at some breweries on the way. My mom has contrived to end up in hot springs on many of her birthdays in recent years, and this year won't be an exception. It all sounds dreamy, and makes me want to get out of town. My car AC is on the fritz, which has been unpleasant in this weather, I can tell you, but it's meant driving with the windows down, with my left arm hanging out the window and flapping in the breeze. I can hardly think of anything else that makes me want to hit the road and head north more than that.

I'll try to content myself with some long bike rides around town and hope that I get conducive weather.

Did I mention I did karaoke on a schoolnight this week? Monday was my friend Leah's birthday eve and she and her neighborhood mom friends picked me up in someone's giant luxury SUV for the festivities. I got to sing "Easy Lover," a longtime desire, and crossed it off the crazy list in my little notebook. I should really scan those pages to show you. I discovered that I have written FOREIGNER, emphatically, on two different pages. One page is just entitled "Party Killers" and has all the sad sack songs you would only sing on a typical Monday night at about 9:45, like "I Can't Make You Love Me" and "Nothing Compares 2U." But this Monday was hoppin'! People were killin' it, and not in the party killer way. The Vegas has a great mix of people who are serious closet rock and/or country stars, people who just like to sing, and then drunk people destroying everything that is good about music (in a fun way). I closed out my portion of the night singing Cee-lo's "Fuck You," which is as super-fun to sing as you are imagining. SO FUN. Also, a woman my age who I did not know and who had just had back surgery showed us her bandaged incisions and, incidentally, her entire bare ass, in the bathroom.

As I often say, I still know how to party.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Next up.

Ten more days to think of a new monthly self (or whatever) improvement project. I just found this list, which I think I brainstormed while on hold, on my desk at work.
  • ARMS: truly, this would have to be a lifelong strengthening endeavor.
  • ADVENTURE! would be hard, and probably mostly confined to weekends.
  • BROWN BAG involves bringing lunch to work every single day. I already do this 80% of the time, so maybe this one isn't that interesting.
  • MORNING PAGES. I have done this Artist's Way thing before, and mostly it felt burdensome because I was already writing in so many other places. Still.
  • SUGAR FREE. Low impact because I mostly don't eat it.
  • RAW til DINNER: a thousand times easier in the summer.
  • JEWELS. Y'all, I have so much shit in my jewelry-making stash. JEWELS would be about making stuff with it. Hard to do with cats who are intrigued by all my projects.
  • MENU PLAN! Honestly, I can't even fathom doing this on a daily basis. Making meals out of whatever is around is one of my superpowers.
  • SPANISH. Learn it.
  • CAREER
  • PRESERVES: buy excessive stuff at the farmers market and figure out how to put it up.
  • BIKE (daily)
  • UP & AT EM: get up early every day, which also means go to bed at a reasonable hour every night.
  • YOGA (daily)
  • KEGELS (daily)
  • SERENITY NOW! Meditation.
  • PEARLY WHITES is so low-key, I should do it in conjunction with another project. It just involves putting this Paula's Choice 2-minute teeth whitener on my toofs every day. Whitener and Kegels! The most surreptitious project of all.
  • SLEEEEEEEP I don't know what I meant by that. Maybe just get enough sleep? That would be worth doing.
  • NaBloPoMo, sometime in the future. I think that's November, right?
  • WEB LITE. The more I think about web-lite, the less I think it would boost my productivity. Though if I went web-lite at work, my days would change drastically (not for the better). Also, it must be spelled "lite," obviously. 
  • WARDROBE OVERHAUL. I think I made some dopey thrifting choices a few months ago. I seem to have a lot of stuff that doesn't match other stuff. There are too many mornings that I stand around in my closet wearing one half of an outfit and trying fruitlessly to complete it. Getting in there and making some outfit lists and getting rid of some stuff is a high priority. And then I could have a naked lady party.
  • THESIS is the one I have to do. Siiiiiiiigh.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stuff I did last week.

I have been pretty asleep at the wheel where CLEANUP is concerned, but today I came out with my big guns blazing and cleaned the shit out of the kitchen. Like, I removed everything, scrubbed all the surfaces, and then rearranged it all. It took pretty much the entire day, with a few breaks, and it also included cleaning and sorting plastic bags, which I hate doing. Then right at the end as I was cleaning under the sink, I discovered that something, somewhere is leaking a small amount, enough to make everything under the sink gross if left unchecked. So then I had to clean more. But I pretty much made up for all the days I didn't clean something extra.

On my breaks from cleaning I read the advice column at the Rumpus, which is called Dear Sugar. There was an interview with the currently-anonymous columnist somewhere online this week and I got intrigued and read one of her recommended posts, and then I cried. Not every post is like that, but most of them are. The writing is beautiful and the advice is righteous. And there's a whole backlog of them to read through! What a treat.

Today it was 104 with a heat index of 120. When I got up this morning the windows were already fogged up on the outside, from the humidity. I decided right then that I would not leave the house. I went outside once to look around and broke out in a sweat just standing there. It's supposed to be pretty hideous all week, so I better resign myself to sweating it out because I have bike rides to take and runs to do.

Yesterday I drove across the Minnesota River to give myself the "treat" of running on a dirt trail for a change. I had been noodling around down there on my bike last week and found a sort of clandestine trail entrance to a state park, and filed it away for later because I do love a secret trail. What my dumb ass failed to consider is that there had been torrential thunderstorms the night before I set off running, and that the river valley might not be the smartest place to hit the dirt trails under the circumstances. It was not the smartest place. It was pretty dumb, actually. Giant swaths of the trail were completely washed out, trees were down, there were mini-lakes next to the river, and I got dive-bombed by a bat in a tunnel. That fucker was swooping back and forth like a video game trap that you have to avoid and I totally ducked and sprinted, feeling like Mario. Anyway, I had to bag it after 5 minutes and go up onto the paved bike trail across the highway, but it was beautiful and no one was really out and there was a gorgeous blazing red-orange sun to my right. I may have stared at it a little too much.

A remarkable thing is that my left calf had been all spazzed out since my last run, despite much rest and stretching, and even with the tightness and ouchiness I managed to get my half hour in anyway. It's remarkable because I am sooooo not one to persist through pain--I'm talking garden variety pain and not yo you're about to break your foot pain. I took it super-easy at first and finally felt warmed up and okay after a mile, and I settled into a rhythm that I tried really hard not to notice. I find as soon as I notice that I'm comfortable running, the feeling evaporates. Anyway, these are the tiny things that I cling to, the things that give me hope that I will one day knock out 5 miles with no problem. I do need new running shoes though. The FiveFingers are about to bust through, and I'm thinking about moving over to something less gorilla-ish.

It was a good week. Lots of biking, lots of time with various friends, lots of time with my friends' fresh delicious baby, with some good food and beer along the way. Thursday I took a sick day and (I think) headed off a cold at the pass. So far, so good, anyway. Friday night I got to see a professional dance company perform a piece my sister Molly choreographed, and that was an awesome highlight because she is so, so good and previously only students had performed her work. Not that they are MERE students, but you know what I mean. I watched the series finale of Friday Night Lights and, predictably, I cried. Now maybe I can get rid of dumb Hulu Plus.

In the coming week, I would like to eat more green vegetables. I sure as hell am not going to cook anything.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Throw your hands up at me.

I wrote about half of a great post about my 4th of July bike ride before blogger did some f-ed up shit and I lost the whole thing. Obviously I was irritated and I gave up, so now it's been many days and the immediate afterglow of the ride has subsided and I am in fact overdue for another long ride now. Here's a hot tip: if you have aspirations of doing anything on a Saturday, maybe don't go for brunch and bloody marys. You'll have to go home and nap, and next thing you know it will be time to go see your nephew be a flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz (true story).

The 4th of July was clear and blazing hot, but tons of people were out riding (as they are most days in the Twin Cities). Minneapolis has many lakes, as you may know, and most of the major ones are part of a chain of lakes connected by trails (and other waterways). From where I live, it's a few blocks to the nearest lake--it's not technically part of the chain but it's connected to the other lakes by a creek that runs through the entire city. The creek is so high right now that people are tubing down it--I saw a lot of that on the 4th.

This is what the lake and surrounding park near my house looks like:
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Luscious grass:
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Once I'm on my lake trail I can take the creek all the way to the Mississippi and then ride that trail along the river--which is how I get to work--or I can take the creek trail the other way and connect to the chain of lakes. A lot of that trail looks like this:

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I also threw caution to the wind and made a barf-inducing handlebar video of the creek trail. Pardon my not-quite-accurate use of "in spate":



And here's how a lot of the lake trails in Minneapolis look. This one is at Lake Harriet:

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This one shows the street, the bike trail, and the pedestrian trail. Sometimes the pedestrian and bike trails combine, but mostly there are dedicated areas for wheel traffic and foot traffic.

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On the chain of lakes riders can snake north to pick up a few long trails that provide a straight shot out to the suburbs. These were built either on existing railroad lines or on proposed light rail routes and are less picturesque, generally--they go through neighborhoods, yes, but also through the backs of industrial parks. One of the trails I rode on the 4th is billed as "America's first bicycle freeway," which might be overstating the case, but it is pretty cool nonetheless.

A lot of this was ground I hadn't covered before. I don't think I'd ever even been around Cedar Lake in my life, for one thing, and certainly hadn't been on that bike trail. I've never biked to the western suburbs, either, but it was fun. At some points along the northern spur of the "bike freeway," people's backyards basically open out onto the trail, and one neighborhood association has made sure that all the plantings look beautiful. Adorably, one homeowner had run the garden hose out to the trail with a sign staked into the ground that says "WATER IS ON," so people can fill up their water bottles. Not too long after I passed that sign, there was a little boy selling lemonade for 50 cents a cup. Obviously I stopped for a drink, and obviously I told him to keep the change. About 6 other cyclists rolled up right after me and told him the same thing, so I think he was doing booming business out there.

It was a good day for fellow-feeling. Every time you stop on a bike, people make conversation. There were all kinds of people and all kinds of bikes out on the trail--one excellent specimen was an older shirtless dude in jorts and a trucker hat riding a beautiful old black Schwinn with chopper-style handlebars on it. That's as it should be. These trails are a gift and they are there for everyone to use, just like the lakes and parks are.

Also, once you get out to Hopkins, Pizza Luce rises up like an oasis right on the trail, and it has this genius configuration where you can be sitting outside on the patio, yet at the bar. You're in the shade, getting blasts of A/C every once in awhile, being served by bartenders inside the restaurant, and able to engage in excellent trail-watching (that's where I saw the jorts guy). I sat there and had pizza and beer in the middle of the afternoon after 20 miles of my ride, watching some bullshit on ESPN, knowing that my own power would get me home on my own schedule.

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I was hoping to do another long ride this weekend but was thwarted by a late night Friday (excellent wedding/reception with a karaoke band; I sang "I Will Survive"), the aforementioned brunch Saturday morning, and then general plans with family because my brother and his wife are in town for a week. There was never any time for a long ride if I wanted to eat and sleep. What I did do instead was attempt my second "run 25 minutes without stopping" workout in 90 degree heat today, after biking around the lake as a warmup. Y'all, I dieeeed. I had to take two breaks, each less than a minute, but each deeply necessary so as not to get heat stroke. I think I just panted in the shade when I paused ("I totally paused!"). The run wrecked me, energy-wise, for the rest of the day. Also, I have a blood blister on the ball of my foot, which is gross (so obviously I had to share it with the internet). I hope the next 25 minute outing is better.

Friday, July 01, 2011

July project: CLEANUP.

So yes, July's project is called CLEANUP. It came to me last night and makes perfect sense. It took about two minutes to make a two-page list of wee cleanup tasks I can do each day and they're all the boring ones you'd expect. We don't really have a regular chore list around here except trash/recycling, cat litter, toilet cleaning, and vacuuming the living room, so there's a whole lot of dust on everything. And then some things I've never done, like cleaning the windows. One of the list items might be "the FUCKING blinds," as that is one of my unfavorite household tasks, yet it needs to be done.

I left work early today because my boss told me to and then I got a little bit overachieverish on the CLEANUP list, what with vacuuming out the couches and rotating all the cushions for even wear, and swiffering and lint brushing and dusting and what have you. The garden is completely out of control and should also be dealt with as part of CLEANUP. But do you KNOW how hot it is outside today? It's unbearable.

Tonight we go to celebrate Molly's 35th birthday at her dance studio with a DANCE PARTY. I may study Soul Train videos for the rest of the afternoon. And then there is KARAOKE afterward. I'm really sleeping on the job as far as preparation goes.