Monday, March 29, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Meg

I was down another 2.4 pounds this week--despite a rather large lunch at a Lebanese restaurant yesterday AND a glass of wine sipped while watching the waves crash on the rocks of Monterey Peninsula. Well, I did run four miles today, without being told to.

These pounds take me to a grand total of 50 pounds lost, which is kind of awesome.

Kind of? It's A LOT awesome.

Anyway, I got on My Virtual Model tonight and played around. Here's an approximation of what my body looked like at 221.8 pounds:

Here's sort of what I look like now, at 172.0:

My goal weight is 130. Here's what that will look like:

Except that I'm going to have some FIERCE muscles. No six-packs or anything like that, just an overall toned appearance.

I can't wait.

Monday Music: Keane (Yet Again!)

First, I am way late with my Monday Music post (by about 12 hours).

Second, it's Keane, again.

But it has to be--this video is newly available and it's AWESOME. It's a song that will be on a mini-album they're putting out in May. It's a collaboration with a Somalian-Canadian rapper named K'Naan. And it's totally different than their usual stuff, which just proves that they are talented, awesome, amazing, and worth a listen.

I'll get off my Keane box now.

Stop For A Minute

Keane | MySpace Music Videos

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogger's Block

Heh. I haven't updated since Tuesday. I have stuff to write about, just haven't had the time or energy to do so. Here's the major stuff:

1. Today I did a 3-mile "run." I put "run" in "quotes" (okay, I'll stop being "obnoxious" with the quotation marks now) because it was more of a pitiful jog, and if I'm honest, there was a teensy bit of walking involved. Still, I managed a respectable time and that last mile was pretty damned good, if I do say so myself. My knee stopped hurting, and because I was approaching a busy street, I wanted to show off that this fat girl can run.

2. I found out something about Harley that I didn't know before. I volunteered at the 8th Annual Bowl For Pets for Animal Friends Connection today, and talked with a lady who is neighbors with Harley's former foster mom. I already knew that he was quite young when found, either lost or abandoned by his mother cat, but what I didn't know was that he was in quite bad shape at that time. He was tiny and malnourished, and they worried about whether or not he'd make it. Apparently he lucked out with his choice of foster mom, because she's known for bringing orphaned, sickly kittens back to great shape. These days he's a 13-pound ball of furring purriness. And he's a Kitty Jackpot winner, 'cause he's living the good life in Casa Cooper. But he had a very rough start, poor mite.

3. OMG, I'm going to do my first 5K! While helping out today, I found some fliers for the Jog-a-Dog, which AFC will be hosting in May. I did 3 very slow miles today, so by May, I know I'll be up to a faster time. The whole point is not winning the race (though that would be kind of cool, to place in my age division), but just to finish it, running the whole way. To be able to tell people I ran a 5K...and, of course, to raise some money for AFC. Who wants to make a pledge?

4. Spring Cleaning! I spent pretty much all of yesterday cleaning this apartment from one end to the other. I removed more dust than I care to admit having, pulled small furniture out to vacuum behind, and disinfected the kitchen and bathroom. I'm very good about keeping up with day-to-day cleanliness, but every once in a while, a good scrub is in order. Oh, and I dusted my entire Snoopy collection. A daunting task, to be sure. In the afternoon I had a training session at the gym, then returned home to finish the living room, have a long, glorious shower (complete with facial), a lovely dinner, and a manicure in front of the first two episodes of "Band of Brothers." I started the third episode, but fell asleep on the couch. I was in bed by 10:00, completely exhausted.

5. By the way, "Saving Private Ryan" is an amazing, fantastic movie. I hadn't seen it since it was in the theaters--in the 1990s! It's been in my Blockbuster queue for a while, and finally arrived. It is graphic and gory--I actually gasped out loud at some of the images--but it is also incredibly moving and well-acted. I'm inclined to love anything Tom Hanks acts in, but there were some awesome performances from the other men, as well.

6. I must be going crazy. I actually WANT to run. Something clicked in me today. I woke up with a slightly wonky left knee--sucker's been bothering me all week and I have Mr. Push Through the Pain giving me ZERO sympathy--I might add that HIS left knee is swollen and filled with fluid and even though it's hampering his own workouts, he won't go to the doctor about it. What is it with the male half of the species, anyway? Anyway, yeah. This is about me. The knee felt strange and I was cursing under my breath that I have to do at least one three-mile run this week. I figured I'd better get it over with, especially as I didn't do any cardio yesterday (just, you know, cleaned the entire apartment and worked with G. for an hour). So out I went, on a big loop in my neighborhood. I felt pretty good when I was done, and thought to myself, "Maybe I'll go do another mile later today. Yeah, I think I'll do that."

I didn't, because of time, and I feel sort of disappointed. Feel my I feverish? Or is this that point I've been told will come where my body starts to WANT to run?

7. Speaking of G. the Meanie... I really need to learn to keep my big mouth shut. Or maybe not, because I'm impressing him and even myself with some of the stuff I'm able to do these days.

Yesterday, we were working mostly in the aerobics room. One of the exercises he had me do was to walk with him around the inside of the gym with a 25-pound weight in each hand. It's not hard, really, just tiring. After the second rotation, which he made slightly longer by taking me into the basketball court, I remarked that I could see what he was doing.

"You're making everything longer each time I do another set."

"Yeah. I'll probably add some distance next time we walk around with the weights."

This is where I opened my gargantuan mouth.

*snort* "What, are you going to make me go outside and walk around the whole building?"

Oh, Meg, SHUT UP, will ya?!

G.'s eyes widened slightly. "That's actually a great idea..."

And that's just what we did. My triceps were screaming, but I made it with no drama.

8. Monterey, here I come. Tomorrow my friend Meghan is meeting me here and we're driving to gorgeous Monterey. The biggest plans we have so far are to visit the aquarium, which I haven't seen since I was a very little girl, and to have at least 10 minutes of toes-in-sand experience. I am in dire need of an ocean/beach fix. It's been a long winter.

9. Have I mentioned it's Spring Break? Yup. This explains why I had Friday off, and why I have this whole next week and the following Monday free to do whatever I like. On Monday I have an appointment with G. and Chorale rehearsal. On Tuesday I'm going to Mom and Dad's, and I'll camp out there 'til the next Monday. I'll drive to Stockton on Thursday for another training appointment. Next Saturday is reserved for a day of shopping/possible movie viewing with Summer. And at least one day needs to be set aside for pure laziness.

And that's about it. I've thought, each night, "Heh, I should blog..." but frankly, I just haven't felt like it. Don't worry, though. There will be pictures from Monterey. And hopefully more weight loss news when I weigh in on Monday. I think I'll run a mile before leaving tomorrow, just to help that out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Daily Mile

I just set up a profile at The Daily Mile. I'm going to start logging my running. Maybe it will motivate me to get the very least, it's an opportunity to find other runners in this area.

Check me out!

Cat Blogging

If you've been following this blog for, oh, five minutes, you already know that I am absolutely crazy about my furbabies, Millennium Joy (Millie) and Harley Dude. And you might also have gathered that I have never met a cat I don't like, pretty much.

So it stands to reason that I follow cat blogs and web sites. I've featured some before, but it's time to give them another shout-out, and to introduce some that are newer to me.

First, there's the inevitable and awesome LOLCats (I can haz cheezburger?), a blog in which people assign hilarious, misspelled capshuns (captions) as though the cats in the picture are speaking. If you aren't aware of this blog, you've been living under a rock and need to come out now.

Then, of course, there's the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, a blog that follows the beautiful Charlene Butterbean and her mom, Laurie, as they raise orphaned kittens for their local humane society. Take a look--they've got two brand-new tuxies in residence!

Through IBKC, I found The Adventures of Spacepaws. It's creator, HubbleSpacePaws, is a frequent commenter here at the Little Pink Blog. She's also a foster mom to many displaced felines. What originally drew me to her blog was the Maples family (Fred, George, Percy and Ginny and their mama, Miss Peggy Sue), as they grew from teeny, tiny kittens to adult cats going out in the world to new homes.

And now, there's a new blog. It's a Kittenpalooza! is following the adventures of another foster mom who took in two pregnant sister cats...who then gave her FOURTEEN kittens between them. The most amazing part? The moms chose to share a birthing box with no fuss, no drama. Miss Caroline acted as a midwife to her sister, and they stay together in the box, each nursing whichever kittens belly up to the bar. It's perfectly lovely to see.

I still take a look at The Daily Kitten, even though...*sniff* they never posted my little dude's baby picture. Was he not cute enough?! I demand a recount!

And just because this is my blog, and I can, I leave you with pictures of my own dear sweeties.

Monday, March 22, 2010


The last couple of weeks have been discouraging. I climbed a mountain, worked out every day, and ate very well...and I lost exactly ZERO ounces to show for it. G. the Meanie almost seems to take my failure to lose weight personally, so today, we ran.

Two miles.


No walking allowed, "or you have to do 25 Burpees for every time you stop." Funny, I had just mentioned moments earlier that I loathe Burpees with the fire of a thousand suns.

I knew beforehand that today was a Cardio day. I did my share of whining and over-the-top dramatics. I wrote, "Tell my parents I loved them" in my food journal. G. just looked at me and said, "You know, this isn't fun for me, either. I'm tired."

Somehow, I pulled those two miles out of myself. My legs were screaming, my back hurt, and I was dripping sweat, but I ran (slowly) for a whole two miles without stopping. The bitching was even minimal in the second mile--I was too busy concentrating on my breathing.

After we finished, G. said, "You're such a better runner. You kept up, you didn't stop, and you're recovering so much faster than you used to. You're going to start doing this--no walking. I'm tired of you not losing weight."

"DUDE! I'm tired of me not losing weight--I'm the one who has to carry it all around!"

Later, as I did some hamstring exercises, G. talked about me being a runner.

"See, there's a disconnect up here, G." I said, pointing to my head. "My brain says, 'You're a runner!' but the rest of my body says, 'No you're not. This is hell.'" I told him I'm working on changing this, but it's taking some time.

Then, "You're always telling me I'm an athelete. Well, I still have a hard time believing you. Honestly? I really think of myself as a fat girl who works out." G. just laughed.

"I'm working on that, too."

At the end of our appointment, G. wrote out a whole new cardio program for me to follow. It's not pretty--no more interval training on the treadmill, only running. No more walking. Stairs are going to be harder and harder, too. If I want to lose weight, I've got to move faster.

I was sitting there, pouting a little bit, when I started thinking I'd like to see what I weigh today. I weighed on Friday, so we were going to wait 'til this coming Friday for the next official weigh-in. I mentioned this to G. and he said, "Go weigh, then."

After two weeks stuck at 178, I was hoping to be at 176--my official half-way point in the 90 pounds I must lose to reach my goal weight of 130.

Imagine my surprise and squeal of delight when the scale read 174.6.

I skipped back to G.'s desk and said, "One-seventy-four! Ha!!"

"No! You're lying!"

"Do you want to see for yourself?"

"Yes, I do!"

"Come look, then. And hey! I wouldn't lie about my weight, dude."

A couple of weeks ago, I told G. of my plan to get a picture of myself holding a 45-pound weight just as soon as I reached that milestone in my weight loss. As I mentioned, the goal I set in February 2009 was to lose 90 pounds. Forty-five is the fifty-yard line. I can see the end zone, and I am going to reach it come hell or high water.

I got my camera (it's always in my purse; I'm a nerd like that) and we walked over to the weight machines. G. lifted the weight up and I laughed as I took it from him. How hard it was to hold that thing up long enough for him to get the shot--and I used to carry this much extra weight around on my body. My knees, my heart.

I have forty-four pounds to go. I'm going to make it.

Third Grade

It's my lunch break. A few minutes ago, I was waiting outside the music room, where my colleague was finishing a 3rd grade music lesson. I didn't want to disrupt, so I waited in the hallway with the next group of 3rd graders. The boy in the front of the line started talking to me.
"I like Mr. H. but I don't really like the music he plays for us. I want to hear some Slipknot."
At this I just smiled. "Come on, you don't like the stuff Mr. H. does with you?"
"It's all little kid music!"
I raised one eyebrow. "You are a little kid."
At this, the boy puffed his chest out, took a deep breath and said, "I'm not a little kid, I'm nine!"
It was so hard to keep from laughing as I raised my eyebrows even higher and said, "Uh-huh. And I'm a lot older than nine."
"Okay, so to YOU I'm a little kid, but to ME, I'm...I'm a big kid." He was adorable--mischievious and obviously too smart for his own good.
Why do I have a sudden urge to teach third grade?

Monday Music: Keane (Again)

I have tried really hard to post other music besides the awesome, SO AWESOME, Keane.

But I found this and HAD to post it. These guys are as amazing live as they are recorded. Even though in this recording, it sounds like Tom's got a cold. Still, he's a fearless vocalist.

And did I mention that these guys are AWESOME?

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Two weeks. That's how long I've gone without losing any weight. Humph.

There has been no discussion about muscle weight, and I don't buy into that theory, anyway. The discussion has been more about upping my cardio routine, and giving me strength training exercises to do on my own, when I'm not working with G. I rolled my eyes at his assignments last week, but now I'm over the worst of my PMS, I am seeing the benefits and following his advice.

I'm also eating a lot of salad.

I like salads, but like anyone, I go through phases. This weekend I've eaten so much lettuce, I might grow bunny ears and a cotton tail. Hey, just in time for Easter!

The great thing about salads is that they are very filling--all the fiber from the veggies and fruits make for a very satisfying meal. Here's a couple of salads I have rocked this weekend.

Salad Number 1:

2 cups of a spring greens/spinach mix (according to G., romaine is the least nutrient-filled of the lettuces, except, of course, iceburg).
1 oz. dried cranberries
1 oz. pecans
1 oz. goat cheese
1 small Pink Lady apple
Croutons (I took a piece of Oroweat Double Fiber bread, cut it into squares, sprayed some Pam on it, and baked it for a few minutes. 70 calories, ha!)
Dressing: 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Salad Number 2:

2 cups lettuce/spinach mix
Approximately 1.5 cups of assorted veggies/fruits: alfalfa sprouts, tomato, avocado, green and red bell pepper, mushroom, cucumber
1 oz. feta cheese
3 oz. chicken breast strips
Homemade croutons
Dressing: a fat-free, sugar-free vinegarette

Both salads are delicious and very filling. There's enough different textures and tastes to keep it exciting.

And for dessert?

Half a cup of fat free Lemon Sorbet (by Haagen Dasz) served over fresh strawberries. Who said eating well is dull?

For me, it's eat, drink and be merry...for tomorrow is Cardio Day with G. the Meanie. God help me.

A Terrific PSA Video

I took this from Hubble SpacePaws' blog. It's worth passing on!

It's a video about spaying/neutering, and it's done very, very well.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Boot Camp

I must be crazy. I blame my trainer.

Normally, Saturdays are reserved for my six-mile trek on the treadmill. Obviously, in recent weeks, this has been about as fun a prospect as, say, getting a root canal, or swallowing rusty nails. Even my daily two-and-a-half mile jaunts on the treadmill have been boring me to tears lately.

With the weather getting nicer, G. the Meanie has been encouraging me to get outside more for my running. Only problem with this is that I need the speedometer on the treadmill to keep me honest, otherwise I'll walk a lot more than I run. But still, when he told me (at yesterday's appointment) to do my run/walk outside today, I was thrilled.

I slept in this morning for the first time in ages. I didn't get out of bed until close to ten o'clock. Glorious. However, I was a little stiff and tired, and figured that before I do any running, I should warm up really well and stretch. So I walked over to the gym.

Then I got stuck there.

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my appointment with G., I got in a conversation with the B. the Gym Manager. It went something like this:

"Hey Megan, are you coming to the Boot Camp class tomorrow?"

"Oh geez. Probably not!"

"Why not? You should come. It's going to be a great class."

"I have to do six miles tomorrow, on his [pointing towards G.'s desk] orders!"

"So, do Boot Camp first, then run!"

"I don't think so!"

Then I bragged about my Mt. Diablo adventure. He was suitably impressed.

At this point, G.'s previous client was leaving and he was ready for me. I walked back to his desk and B. called out, "Hey, G.! Megan says she's going to do Boot Camp tomorrow, then her six miles!"

I just laughed. "I did not!!"

"Then she said she's going to climb Everest!"

" Everest. I'm adventurous, not stupid!"

Laughter all around.

Fast forward to this morning. I went to the gym to do a quikc warm-up on the Stair Master, then to stretch and work my muscles. As I walked to the stretching area, I saw B. standing there, so I asked him, "How was your Boot Camp this morning?" I just assumed I had missed it.

"It's happening in a few minutes. You should come."

"Ugh. I don't think so."

But as I did my stretching, I thought, "Oh, hell...maybe I could try it." B. would be teaching half, and G. the other half. Six months ago I would have been a fish out of water in there, but these days I can keep up pretty well. I asked G. what he thought.

"You should do it."

Heh. So I did.

And you know what? Not only did I keep up, I was doing difficult exercises and definitely NOT making an ass of myself. My half of the room got G. instructing us first, and every time he said, "Now this is a more advanced exercise..." I'd get a little worried--only to find it is something I've already done in my appointments with him, or very similar.

For half an hour, I did some serious lower-body and core exercises with G. Then it was B.'s turn to instruct the half of the room I was on. 'Til now, I've never worked out with B., only admired his rear end and tried not to drool when he smiles at me. I admit I felt a little pressure to stay cool and not make an idiot of myself in front of him.

I did a respectable job. The hardest part were the Burpees (Lord, I hate Burpees). I stopped a little earlier than everyone else, dripping sweat and catching my breath.

The best part was when he made us do thirty sit-ups. He had everyone partner up and lock their feet together. There was an uneven number, so he said, "I'm with Megan."

I'll tell you what. I normally piss and moan my way through sit-ups with G. but I did thirty perfect sit-ups with B. holding my feet down. : )

There is no way, six months ago, that I would have even felt comfortable attempting Boot Camp. I didn't have the strength or the skills. I didn't have the confidence. Part of my resistence to doing this class today was simply not wanting to look like a fool. Not only did I avoid that fate, I know I was doing a better job than quite a few people in that room.

At the end, B. had us split into two groups and do a "good, old-fashioned relay race."

"Losers have to do 20 Burpees."

I looked at my team. "We are so not losing this one. I hate Burpees!"

I was the 2nd on my team to run. Thanks to a good run by the girl in front of me, I had a good start on my opponent. I could hear G. calling, "GO MEGAN!!" as I ran my little heart out across the aerobics room. I beat by opponent back with room to spare.

My team ended up winning. : )

As we all left the room, G. introduced me to his girlfriend, who had also taken the class. He said, "Megan's the one who's lost a lot of weight, and who climbed the mountain last weekend." It's nice to know he's proud of what I've done. Every little bit has enabled me to get to a point where the hottie manager of the gym can ask me to do his Boot Camp class--and I can complete it without feeling lost, embarassed, out-of-shape, and idiotic.

I've come a long way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fat Girls: Gabourey Sidibe

I haven't done a post about awesome fat girls in a while, and it's about time I show some love to Gabby Sidibe.

I watched Precious a few days ago, and it knocked me off the sofa. It was one of the most difficult movies I've watched in a long time--the level of abuse and suffering Precious suffers is horrifying--but it also had so much hope.

I had a thought early this morning that one of the most brilliant parts of the movie was in how the changes in Precious are so subtle throughout. You hardly notice it, but at the end of the movie, her speaking is clearer and her grammar is better than it was at the beginning. This, of course, is excellent writing, but to pull it off, you need a damned good actress. Gabby was amazing in this role, and she managed to make me--I rarely cry in movies, unless its Forrest Gump, Steel Magnolias, or Up--cry genuine, honest tears.

And in real life? Gabby is delightful. She is vivacious, smart, and has a marvelous sense of comedic timing. She has a rapier-sharp wit and is not afraid to use it. No fluttering of the eyelashes and coy flirtatiousness from this lady. She's a woman after my own heart.

And yeah, she's fat. She's also fabulous. Take that, Hollywood.

Thought For the Day

Women are angels,
And when someone breaks our wings,
We simply continue to fly...on a broomstick.
We're flexible like that.

It made me giggle, anyway.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


G. the Meanie had to cancel our appointment on Monday. I weighed in on my own and was horrified to see that, despite CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN on Saturday, I was the same weight as last week.

My friends have been crying, "Muscle weight! Muscle weight!" but I'm not buying that. I've been building muscle for a few months now, and I've still been losing a lot of weight. I still have a lot of excess fat to shed, and even if I'm building my muscles and making them heavier, that fat weight I'm burning off has to count for something.

It could, of course, be related to my upcoming visit from Auntie Flo. I've been one big pimple--both in terms of my complexion and my attitude towards the rest of the human race--this week and am expecting next week to be a roller coaster of loving life and "GET OFF MY F***ING LAWN, A**HOLE!!" good times.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I dutifully arrived at the gym. G. is normally off with a client, or sitting at his desk, but this day, he was helping check people in. I showed him the picture of me at the peak of Mt. Diablo ("I really like this picture!") and then I made the huge mistake of saying, "Dude...I weighed in yesterday. I'm the SAME!!"

G. was as flummoxed as I was. He made no mention of muscle weight or any such thing. According to him, I should still be losing weight overall. I like this plan, as I am having visions of size 10 jeans and a relatively awesome-looking swimsuit body by summertime dancing through my head.

On Wednesday, I arrived at the gym ready to get the cardio over with and get my tired butt home. I had a To Do List as long as my arm and the above-mentioned bad attitude about the rest of the world. Turns out I also had a trainer who can't accept this week's plateau.

After my warm-up on the Stair Master, I walked over to the stretching area to do some stretches before my big run for the day. G. met up with me, as his current client worked nearby. Italics denote thoughts that were running through my head during this conversation.

"Hey, Megan. What's your cardio today?"

"I'm going to run. I didn't yesterday, so I need to get on that treadmill."

"Okay. Here's what I want you do to."

Oh, kill me now...

"I want you to do some box jumps today. You know, the ones on the aerobics step-up. Also do some ski jumps--those side-to-side ones, and some step-ups. Then go outside and I want you to do some skips and sprints--150 yards."

Oh. My. God.

"Um. Okay. Sprints instead of the treadmill?"

"No, do the treadmill first. But only do two miles instead of two-and-a-half."

Dude! I've got a shit-ton of crap to take care of and you're giving me extra?!

He went back to his client and I got down to the business of stretching. A few minutes later, I turned to him and plaintively inquired, "One hundred-fifty yards?" in a voice that clearly said, "But I've only ever sprinted for fifty! I'll die out there!"


"Really?" Now there was a definite whine.

"Hey, I did...[insert whatever exercise he did yesterday--I can't remember what he said] earlier today."

"You're YOU."

"Then I [again, I tuned out]..."

"Yes, and again, you're YOU!"

I grumbled a little, but I promised him I'd do it.

I made it through most of the workout, but shortened the sprints to 100 yards because Rome wasn't built in a day, and chubby girls don't just go from 50 meter sprints to 150 meters on a PMS-filled Wednesday. It's basic biology.

When I was done, I marched back into the gym and up to Mr. Meanie.

"What are you doing tomorrow, then?"

"Whatever I can get done in about 45 minutes. I have a long, crazy day tomorrow, and about 45 minutes to work out."

"Okay. Check in with me when you get here. I'll have an assignment for you."


"Okay." I just managed not to snap to attention, salute and yell, "SIR, YES, SIR!!!" But only just.

So today, I arrived at the gym. I found G. in the aerobics room.

"Reporting for duty."

This got a smile. "Are you going to change?"

No, I'm going to work out in my jeans, cardigan, and moccasins. Aren't they cute?


"Go change, I'm going to write up your assignment right now."

It wasn't so bad, really.

I have an appointment tomorrow. I have a feeling I won't be down in weight. I've been hungry enough to eat an elephant all week, and while I haven't done anything out-of-hand, I also haven't stopped myself from drinking a glass of milk before bed two nights (fat free!), and there was that post-Chorale peanut butter and honey sandwich on Monday...and there's also dear Auntie Flo to consider. That bitch.

At least I can count on G. the Meanie to keep me on the path towards my goal. This week, I want to smack him. Next week, I'll be over it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Hey, Snotwad! Mom's Home!!"

I love arriving home, pulling into a parking spot, and seeing a cat in the window. There is something so satisfying about it.

Go For the Green!

Obviously, it was a day for wearing green, and as a teacher, I'm all about showing the spirit. Plus, I love green.

I even had green eye makeup!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


In the wake of the controversy over whether Constance McMillen should be allowed to go to her high school prom with her girlfriend or not, both Shameless Britni and Alana reminisced about their own proms. Seems that both of these awesome ladies had a bad time at prom. I had quite the opposite experience.

I only went to Junior prom, not Senior. I asked a friend from band, a sophomore boy named Justin. Apparently a few other band girls had wanted to ask him, too, but I got there first. I made it clear from the start that we were friends, no pressure, no expectations. I had no problem when he danced with a couple of mutual friends. We boogied down most of the evening, complained about the nasty prom food, and talked and laughed with all of our friends. It was a great evening.

And we looked ADORABLE. Isn't that the only thing that matters, anyway?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Redneck In Training

Imagine the scene. It's mid-February. I'm in the middle of some weight-bearing exercise when G. the Meanie asks what I've got in store for the weekend.

"I'm going up to Mom and Dad's house. Only big plan right now is to watch the Daytona 500."

"You like NASCAR?" This was asked with the same expression and inflection of someone asking, "You like rotten bananas/eating raw onions/the smell of farts?" He was slightly incredulous and perhaps a wee bit unpleasantly surprised that someone as cool as I obviously am could enjoy such a redneck sport as NASCAR.

"Yeah, I do."


I launched into the short-but-sweet version of my usual spiel: I like the loud, fast cars, the drama and intensity, the hot tempers, and, well, yeah...the hot drivers. I explained how fuel strategy alone can make or break a good run, and how I lost some interest last season because my driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had such crap luck all season.

"You're the only friend I know who likes NASCAR."

At this, I probably just laughed and made some comment about having superior tastes.

At our next appointment, G. brought up something about the Daytona 500. Turns out, he'd actually tuned into part of it. "Now that football is over, I need a sport to watch on Sunday afternoon."

He tuned in the next weekend, too, and the weekend after that. Now, on Mondays, I can bring up, "Did you see that wreck/charge for the win/streaker in the infield?" and he'll always have a reply. He's already doing the whole, "Jimmie Johnson won AGAIN?" thing, though I suspect he's slightly impressed, rather than mildly horrified like I am.

The clincher came yesterday. I was cleaning a cat cage at PetCo when I heard the familiar "doodle-ee-doodle-ee-doo" indicating an incoming text message on my cell phone. I figured it was probably Summer, but when I got a moment to check, I saw it was from G. the Meanie-turned-NASCAR-fan:

"No NASCAR today?"

Of course, it's impossible to tell from a short text just how disappointed he might be about this, but as I stood there in front of three disdainful foster cats, laughing, I thought, I've created a monster.

To be fair, as Mom pointed out, he's created a monster, too. A treadmill-running, mountain-hiking, healthy-eating, weight-lifting, total gymbo of a monster.

Monday Music: Snow Patrol

**Edited because for some reason, I had a picture of Platform 9 and 3/4 here instead of the video!!**

I love these guys. I saw them in October and they were really fun live. This song in particular, called "Just Say Yes," is one of my favorites. It's quite a departure from some of their other music--less alternative and more electronic.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My First Mountain

**Edited to add this link to a previous post on Diablo from The Anxious Traveler" and to remind you that you can make the pictures bigger by clicking them--you can really see more detail that way.**

When I moved to Antioch in 2006, I was surprised to find that pretty much anywhere I went in town, I could find some view of a mountain. It was practically in my back yard (not that I had a yard, living in an apartment, but you get the idea). It was Mount Diablo--Devil Mountain--and ever since my time in Antioch, I have associated that particular devil with anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and a whole host of negative feelings.

For a while now, I've wanted to conquer Diablo. I have wanted to show it--and myself--that I am stronger than I was in Antioch, that I've come a long way. So today, I set out to climb it. Alone. Much to the surprise of everyone from G. the Meanie to Mom and Dad, I wanted--needed--to do this solo.

I needed to climb the mountain--it's possible to get to the summit by car, but I wanted to actually show that mountain just who is in charge, so I parked near Rock City (elevation: approximately 1,450 feet) and caught the summit trail near the main road. The sign showed me I had 3.71 miles to the summit. My goal for the day was to get at least six miles, as I do on the treadmill every Saturday. I figured a 3.71 mile hike to the summit should be relatively easy.

I figured wrong.

It turns out that in addition to conquering this devil mountain, I had to conquer some bad things inside myself, too.

The first hour wasn't so bad. It was muddy from the recent rainstorms, but the elevation changes weren't too bad and the views were marvelous. I got my heart rate going and walked at a fairly brisk pace, stopping only to take pictures.

My shoes were caked with mud, but I had a smile on my face and some interesting signs to read. Apparently Diablo is a geologists fantasy.

The trail was getting more difficult, but I felt like I was really getting somewhere.

Imagine my horrified surprise when I realized, after an hour, that I still had 2 miles left.

There comes a point in any difficult journey--and this was a difficult journey for me--where quitting starts to look good. I had reached it here. I had been walking for a long time, I had a blister on my right heel, and I was still two miles from the summit. How could I possibly make it? I felt defeated. I would walk fifty yards and stop, panting. I would walk another fifty yards. I thought I would never make it to the top at this rate.

The temptation to turn around was so strong. What would it hurt if I turned around, walked the two miles back to my car, and drove to the summit?

It would hurt a lot. Driving to the summit is not conquering the devil, and would only make me doubt myself more than ever. I wanted to see the top of this mountain, and I insisted on doing it by foot. So I put one foot in front of the other and I kept walking.

It's amazing the things that go through your mind at times like this. I was pretty much alone on the trail, so I softly sang to myself: "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming." I recalled a favorite Mary Engelbreit verse: "So just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and taking your life day by day. There's a brighter tomorrow that's just round the bend. Don't look back--you're not going that way!"

I started comparing myself to Horton the elephant. "I did what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent." If Horton could hatch that egg, I can bloody well climb this devil mountain.

On top of all this, I heard G. the Meanie's voice. Asking me if I was going to quit. Telling me to push through the pain. There have been times he's had to put his hand on my back and push me along when we're running. He wasn't there to push me up that mountain--and having him do so wouldn't have been conquering the devil. But everything I've learned about myself since working with him was in my head, so I kept putting one foot in front of the other.

And what do you know, the summit kept getting closer.

The world below was getting farther away. The path was steeper, rockier, narrower. The views were stunning.

I heard two men on the trail behind me, and before long, they overtook me. They were friendly as we nodded and said hello. One, the larger of the two, was panting and red. He gestured to his companion and said, "He's my trainer. His sole purpose in life is to make me suffer."

I had to laugh. "I have one of those back home!"

A few minutes later, I overtook them. We would continue to play leapfrog like this for the rest of the hike. At one of our meetings, I mentioned how I'd wanted to quit a mile or so back. The trainer said, "But you're over halfway there!"

And so I was.

Finally, I was within a half-mile of the top. The trail was its most difficult. I was exhausted.

But I made it.

I. Made. It.

I met up with my trail buddies near the top. We introduced ourselves. Gary and Evan laughed at my excited, "Oh my God!!" as I reached the summit. We shook hands and congratulated ourselves. For Evan, and for myself, the hike was not easy.

I stood at the summit of Mount Diablo and just grinned like a fool. I felt like I owned everything I could see--and I could see a lot. On a perfectly clear day, you can see Sacramento to the north, and Half Dome in Yosemite to the east. These were not visible today, as there was still some cloud cover left over from yesterday's storms. But I could just make out my beloved City By The Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. I could see Antioch, and all of the sad times there were made so tiny and insignificant as I looked down at that city from so high. To the east, I could see Stockton and the various waterways that connect it, like arteries, to the East Bay. I could see the farm lands that surround my adopted home. I recalled how six years ago, I couldn't wait to leave California. How four years ago, I was somewhat appalled to come back. How now, I often can't imagine being anywhere else.

It was so very beautiful.

I took a picture of myself with Stockton behind me.

I texted Dad, Summer and G. the Meanie: "I am at the summit of Diablo. 3.71 miles from my car to the top. I made it!" I don't like to bother G. with texts on his weekends, but I wanted to share my accomplishment too much. I immediately received a reply: "Nice, very proud of you. be careful enjoy."

It was cold at the top, and windy. I took refuge in the visitor's center, where the true peak of Diablo is left exposed for people to stand on.

I parted ways with my new trail buddies. They stayed to watch a little film, but I was bursting to get back down the mountain. Suddenly, I wasn't exhausted. I was invigorated. Proud. The devil had tried to make me quit. I didn't let him succeed.

It took me about three hours to get to the top, and an hour-and-a-half to get back down. The going was much, much easier, though I did slip once on a rocky patch. My left foot slid on some rocks and went shooting out from under me. In an amazing move reminiscent of Russian folk dancers, I managed to do a perfect squat with my right leg, regain my balance, and stand back up before my hands or butt hit the ground. The rest of the trail was uneventful and easy...but I was still very glad to see Rosie Pro back at Rock City.

For three years now, I have associated Mount Diablo with anxiety, stress, self-doubt, and a feeling of failure. No more. The minute I stepped foot on the summit, that devil had lost.