Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Am Insane

It's official. I'm off my rocker.

I am determined to run at midnight. Never mind that it's bloomin' COLD out there (in the 30s, and my friends in colder climates can stop laughing, I'm a California Girl and 36 degrees is freezing, as far as I'm concerned). Never mind that I haven't stayed up this late in a good couple of months because of all the getting up early to cook my eggs, make a smoothie and rush off to the gym to work out with M. the Reasonable. Never mind that I ran two-and-a-half miles this morning...another thirty-minute run, and people, I think it's messing with my brain because I actually want to--am determined to--go for a midnight run so I can "start off 2012 right."

Not a long run--I can't stand another thirty minutes. I'm thinking a mile or so. Just to be running when the clock strikes midnight and 2012 begins in California.

Let's keep in mind that I'm pretty much the World's Most Reluctant Runner EVER and that even this morning, before a particularly good run (minimal shin splints, decent speed), I was whining and groaning to myself as I laced up my trainers and geared up for the long haul. I'm volunteering to get out of my pajamas, leave the warm house, and run in the middle of the night, all because I feel like I need to send myself a message that 2012 is the year I finally run a whole 5K, and maybe even aim for a 10K and good grief, this is why I have never experimented with drugs--if a runner's high can send me out the door running when I should be curled up in bed surrounded by cats then we can be assured that anything illegal would mess me up in ways that are too scary to contemplate.

Honestly, something has happened to me this week. I really thought that Christmas Eve's thirty-minutes-no-stopping-no-walking run was a fluke caused by lingering anger from an argument I'd just had with Dad. But then, on Monday, I got out there and did it again. And again on Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. I took Friday off and then managed another thirty minute run today. It's like a switch has flipped in my head and suddenly I really, truly believe that I'm a runner. It's a little scary, really.

I've started following all these similar fitness-crazy types on Twitter. There's actually a term for us: runnerds. Get it? Runner and nerd! I'm becoming a runnerd, in addition to being a Singing Fool and a Duck Lady and every other unique and wonderful and weird thing that makes me Meg of the L.P.B.

Running at midnight, people. What have I become?


My parents.

This was taken about 15 minutes ago, in my Batcave.

Happy New Year!

Intentions for 2012

I have not read The Secret, but a recent blog post by my friend Lindsay about intentions for 2012 referenced it, and I like the idea of using visualization to make 2012 be a happy, successful year for myself. She listed her own intentions in her blog post, and I would like to list mine here, instead of the usual New Year's Resolutions.

Without further ado, I present my intentions here:

  • I intend to continue focusing on good health and fitness habits. 
  • I intend to continue growing as a runner, improving my time and my stamina.
  • I intend to find a new beginning in my career, whether it's back to teaching or moving on to something else.
  • I intend to make an effort to see my friends as often as possible and continue making new ones as I pursue new hobbies.
  • I intend to continue on the path I've started since moving back with Mom and Dad, and to eliminate the burden of debt from my life. 
  • I intend to believe in myself more--that I am worthy of being hired, of being liked, and of being happy.

What are your intentions for 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011


Inspired by Alana over at Sunshine and Bones, I am creating a post of moments from 2011--those moments that hold so much meaning when you look back at them. 2011 wasn't a bad year. I'm still jobless, but I'm making things happen for myself. Thinking back over 2011, there were so many moments that meant so much in hindsight. Here they are...

Possibilities: I took this picture from a rest stop along Interstate 5, which runs down the center of California from the Oregon border to somewhere in SoCal. I was driving to King City, south of Monterey, for a job interview. I didn't get the job, but sometimes, just getting an interview is heartening.

I rarely experience sunrises--even when I'm awake in time, I'm usually holed up indoors, not paying attention. So seeing this one reminded me that every day is a fresh start, with new possibilities. I try not to forget that.

At the capitol building in Sacramento
Speaking up: With my background in teaching, I've always been careful about sharing political opinions in forums that might be found by students. This year, I've let go of that a little, especially because of this case--the Troy Davis case resonated with me. My initial knowledge of it came from Richard Hughes of Keane, but once I read some of the history, I was appalled that a case filled with so much doubt could result in execution.

It wasn't about innocence or guilt for me, but rather the idea that in order to tell people, "Thou shalt not kill," we use killing as an accepted punishment. I'm not comfortable with this idea, even in clear-cut cases where guilt is known with one hundred percent certainty. This year, I spoke up--in a very small way, but I spoke up, and I'm proud of that.

Joy: It's one thing to become friends with someone on the Internet and another when that friendship comes crashing into real life. I was so very fortunate to meet Maayan in person this year, and her friendship has come to mean a great deal to me. One of the most joyful moments I can remember this year was singing along with Mumford and Sons at the Railroad Revival Tour, arm-in-arm with a loud, crazy actress from New York who doesn't mind a loud, crazy musician from California and all of her various quirks.

Comfort: Summer and I have been friends for over eleven years now, and she has seen me through the highs and lows of finishing college, starting a career, traveling, moving (a lot) and everything that comes with becoming an adult. I'm sincerely happy that we are still friends, and that she is doing so well in her own life--a good career, a great husband, and yet, still time to go on adventures, big and small, with her duck-toting friend. She listens to me when I need an understanding ear, and I try to do the same for her.

Taken while on a walk in my Stockton neighborhood,
a few months before moving.
Victory: Off in the distance, as seen from one of many waterways in the San Joaquin Valley, is Mt. Diablo, which for a few years, was a symbol of stress and anxiety. I vanquished it in 2010, and now, it is merely a symbol of how much I have overcome in my personal life. What used to defeat me now makes me stronger. I could see the devil mountain from Stockton, and on a clear day, I can see it from a certain hillside here in Lincoln. Whenever I see it, I think to myself, "You are so much stronger than you can even know." And I smile.

Bliss: Maybe it's because I'm a fiery Leo, but something about the ocean calms me, helping my normally racing imagination slow down and be peaceful when I'm near it. And there is no ocean like the Pacific. The greatest joy of living in California is being near it--and having opportunities, whenever I can make them happen, to sink my toes into the sand and feel the water rush over them. Even an overcast day in Carmel does nothing to diminish the bliss of having my feet in the ocean.

This is not a complete list, of course. I've had so many moments this year--happy, sad, angry, anxious, victorious, and everything in between. It's been a good year...and something tells me 2012 is going to be even better.

What are some of your best moments from 2011?

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I went out for my daily run this morning, as usual. When I got home, Mom asked, "Did you do thirty?"


Then I...
  • Made my protein smoothies for the day
  • Took all of my Snoopy ornaments off the mini tree in the kitchen
  • Packed up the tree
  • Loaded my Christmas stuff into Rosie Pro
  • Helped Mom take apart the big Christmas tree and put her Christmas stuff away in the garage
  • Washed my bed linens
  • Vacuumed and dusted my bedroom
  • Cleaned my bathroom
  • Showered
  • Put my freshly laundered bed linens back on the bed
  • Drove over to my storage unit to put my Christmas stuff back and pay the rent
  • Went to Target
  • Went to Safeway
  • Came home HUNGRY because notice I haven't mentioned LUNCH in this list
  • Drank my second smoothie
  • Helped Mom make dinner
This is all to explain why I'm going to bed at 8:00 tonight.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Regular Thing

I thought about putting a question mark at the end of the title to this blog post, but decided against it.

Here's why:

I am not going to fall victim to the same lack of confidence that has held me back in my running for so long. M. the Reasonable today, upon hearing that yesterday saw me complete yet another thirty-minute run--no stopping, no walking--said, "Well, I guess this is a regular thing now." The devil in my brain immediately started thinking of reasons it can't be possible for me to run thirty minutes, six days a week, without massive amounts of drama. Shin splints, exhaustion, twinges in the knees, headache, hunger, and a whole list of other things that might hinder me. And then the little angel in my conscience told the devil to shut up already, this crap is getting old.

Whaddaya know, I think the angel is winning. I did my thirty minutes again today--that would be the fourth run in a row, thankyouverymuch--even though I was tired from waking up at 4:45 this morning (not on purpose), and tired from my workout with M. today, and hungry because I'm always hungry at this time of the month, and...insert all those annoying little reasons here. So many things that even a week ago would have stopped me ten minutes in. Somehow, I've found the strength in myself to shove those reasons aside and just...keep...running.

So yeah. This thirty minutes of non-stop running is going to be a regular thing. No question marks, no doubts. I'm finding that the more I do it, the less I mind doing it. As far as I'm concerned the little devil in my brain can go play in the traffic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Love My Friends

And yes, third 30-minute run in a row. I can't wait to brag to M. the Reasonable tomorrow!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Breaking Through

Thirty minutes isn't really a lot of time, when you think about it.

A thirty-minute commute isn't too bad. Thirty minutes for lunch seems way too short (ask any teacher). Getting to a movie theater thirty minutes before the movie starts is a good idea. We all, routinely, throw thirty minutes away without really even blinking.

But when told to run for thirty minutes by M. the Reasonable in November, my brain immediately said, "That's way too long."

Logically, I know that I am more than capable of running for thirty minutes without stopping, walking, dropping to the sidewalk in a twitching heap...but somewhere, in my brain, came this very loud voice saying, "You can't." And since I started working with M., I haven't. Oh, I've put in thirty minutes every day--I might run a ten-minute interval, walk for a few minutes, run for ten, walk, then run for ten more minutes to finish off. Sometimes I could get away with two fifteen-minute intervals. As long as I was pushing myself and completing the required amount of running, M. didn't seem to care how I went about it--much. The goal, of course, was to push towards a full thirty minutes of just running.

I got close. The day after my adventure with sciatica, I went out the very next day and ran 26 minutes before stopping. Close, but not quite that full thirty minutes. And since then, I've had more bad or mediocre running days than I've had great ones. A lot of intervals. More back problems forcing me to walk. Shin splints last week. I took a few days off at M.'s recommendation to use the cycle at the gym instead of running. I kept up with yoga. On Christmas Eve, I went out for a run...and I made it thirty whole minutes.

By about the twenty-sixth minute, I was gasping for air, dripping sweat, and wanting to stop. But I was also determined--I'd had a fantastic workout at the gym on Friday and was looking forward to bragging to M. today about it. I wanted to be able to add, "And I ran the full 30 minutes on Saturday!" So I pushed myself. And I made it.

I wrote in my food journal (I also keep track of my activity), "I am so a rock star!" M. saw that today, grinned at me and replied, "No. You are a rock legend."

After today's workout, in which he increased the weight I'm lifting on several exercises, I was tired. I drove home, sipping my protein smoothie (mixed berries, spinach, protein supplement, flax seed and green tea) and thinking, "Ugh. I don't really want to run."

But I went out there and started my walking warm-up (about 3/4 of a mile). I got to my normal start spot for the run and moved to turn the stopwatch on my iPod on. Then I had a thought--what if instead, I just run as far as I did on Saturday, without worrying about time? Whenever I use the stopwatch, I end up looking at it every thirty seconds, wishing I had less time. I drive myself bananas thinking, "Ugh, only 12 minutes done?" So I didn't time myself today and instead just got lost in my running music. I pushed myself through the difficult parts of my run--the little uphill bits, the parts where my breathing is especially labored and my legs especially tired. And what do you know, I made it to the same place I ran to on Saturday--and even pushed myself a little further, just to make sure I'd run a full half hour.

So that's two awesome runs in a row. I feel really good about it, and like I can keep this trend going. There's a local 5K I want to run at the end of January. Here's hoping I continue to have no back pain (I'm stretching regularly and using my foam roller for that), and that I can keep sailing over the mental hurdle that holds me back. I hope to get faster (I'm averaging an 11:30 mile, and while speed doesn't really matter as much as just getting out there and having some endurance, I want a faster average time). I hope to enjoy running a little more--today wasn't so bad.

When I think back to the earliest days, when I was convinced I'd never be a runner, I look at how far I've come and I'm proud.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas At the Cooper's

I've been taking a lot of random pictures yesterday and today, and thought I'd share them here. I hope everyone is having a very happy holiday, filled with family and good cheer. Ours here has been quiet. I ran for thirty straight minutes this morning--no walking, no stopping, no intervals, just thirty straight minutes of running. After that, I've just stayed at home, playing around on my Kindle, helping Mom make our lovely Christmas Eve dinner, and enjoying some quiet time with Mom and Dad. 

Without further ado, here are my pictures...

Yes, I bought a dumbbell ornament at the gym!
I also bought this one this year. Too cute!
One of my favorite Hallmark ornaments. Push the button and it
does the trombone "wah-wah" teacher voice!

My ridiculous tree on the kitchen table.
"Harassing the tree? Me? Never! If you're going to
accuse me, I'm going to have to call my apurrrney."
Mom's magazine-worthy tree.

The official White House ornament--given to Mom and Dad by some

Last night, Santa Swimmy (yes, I bought a Santa duck) and I watched
"A Charlie Brown Christmas."

People assume I watch this every year, but in fact, it had been a few years
since I last watched. This is my favorite part. : )

A Christmas gift from Dad--his interview for the
Veteran's History Project on DVD. There is a copy of
this interview in the Library of Congress.

Millie and Duchess sharing the bed and some Christmas cheer.

Yummy! Pumpkin pie...

There's a Swimmy in the tree!

It's often impossible to get a clear pic of my constantly-moving cat.
Harley reacts to learning that Santa Paws will be leaving him dog food
in his stocking for unrolling the toilet paper two days in a row this week
and harassing Bella.

Cheers! Mom and I had some sparkling wine.

Bella and Duchess enjoying some sister time.

Me and my girl...

Dinner. I have printed this picture to show M. the Reasonable on Monday
that I, too, can be reasonable when it comes to eating holiday dinner!

Pumpkin soup.

Sweet Spot Sweeties

I got up to help Mom serve up the pumpkin pie...didn't take him long to
move right on in.

We wish you a Swimmy Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I hope you are enjoying your Christmas Eve as much as I am! Merry Christmas, friends!

A Christmas Poem For Runners

'Twas the day before Christmas
And all through Lincoln
People were eating,
Making merry and drinkin'.

But I had a goal
And it couldn't have been plainer
As I pulled on my socks
And laced up my trainers.

While everyone,
Warm in their homes, had some fun
I plugged in my iPod
And went for a run.

My muscles protested
(They usually do)
And my brain thought of
All yummy holiday foods.

"On quadriceps, hamstrings!
On calves and Achilles!"
I shouted, "No shin splits!
Just run, if you please!"

First left foot, then right foot
My arms started swinging
The sweat dripped down
And my clothes started clinging.

While others stayed inside
Watching the telly
I pounded the pavement
'Til my legs turned to jelly.

Then finally I had
Reached the day's goal
I'm a good girl, Santa
So for me, no coal!

So for all the good runners
Who do this for fun...

Merry Christmas to all
And to all, a good run!

Friday, December 23, 2011


A month ago, I spent $120 on a pair of shoes.

The shoes are, of course, special running shoes, and I wear them every day for running, walking, and working out at the gym. In a few months, I'll need another pair as I notice the support fading away when I run. In every way, these shoes are an investment in my health and well-being.

Maybe I shouldn't judge...oh, to hell with it, Judgey McJudgerson here is going to judge the crap out of the nincompoops in the news today. People are getting violent and unruly over the latest Air Jordan shoe. A SHOE. Gunshots, muggings, near-riots as mall personnel stare, wide-eyed with fear at the frothing-at-the-mouth masses pushing into the stores. Over an extremely ugly shoe that is distantly endorsed by a former NBA legend...and also, according to my trainer, not a great athletic shoe to begin with.

But then, no one who rushed out, or who fought over, these shoes is really looking to land more jump shots or whatever it is basketball wannabes want to do--if they wanted that, they'd be on the court in their ratty old sneakers, practicing endless jump shots. No, what people want is the status of walking down the street with a shiny new pair of the latest Air Jordans on their feet--the envy of all in the neighborhood.

With tomorrow being Christmas Eve, it makes me a little bit bitter to think that this is where American priorities lie. Having spent a little time this week shopping, seeing people with shopping carts overflowing with stuff, stuff and more stuff, it's made me so grateful that my family doesn't really go in on the whole buy-buy-OMG BUY!!! mentality of the season anymore. Dad asked for no presents (so I have offered to archive some of his military documents and certificates in a scrapbook for safekeeping as my gift to him) and his big Christmas gesture this year was to go shopping at the base commissary for toilet paper, tissue, and food staples to give to a local rehabilitation home for women in our community. They were overjoyed to get the donation, and Dad felt good giving it. I bought a tiny little something for my niece and nephew, and a little something for my Mom.

I hope the people who pushed, shoved, and created chaos enjoy their shoes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


"Well if you're bored then you're boring..."

Harvey Danger, "Flagpole Sitta"

The last couple of days, I've been...bored. Well, that's not entirely true. But then, neither is "lazy," or "listless," or "out of sorts." I'm in a perfectly pleasant mood, and quite happy with how things are going in life right now. But when I'm at home, I've been prone to feeling sleepy (that could just be all the working out) and wanting to go to bed at 8:00 each night.

I'm not sick. I'm not depressed. Just, perhaps, needing a little adventure. So I haven't been blogging, and I haven't even been feeling very "Yay, Christmas!!" either...not as I normally do, anyway.

It's the funniest thing, because really, everything is going very nicely right now. I've lost eight pounds, found a great outfit for New Year's (my friend Meghan and I are going to celebrate the British New Year at 4:00 because she has to work the night shift at the hospital that night), and I've been quite productive in my working out and job hunting, etc.

The weather has been sun-sun-sunny, so it's not Seasonal Affective Disorder. And I wouldn't even call it sadness--I'm just...bored. And suffering from Blogger's Block.

With all this in mind, I think I'll find something to do tomorrow--perhaps, after my workout in the morning (my weekly assignment from M. the Still Very Reasonable), I'll drive to Sacramento and wander around, or explore some area I haven't explored yet. Take my camera and find more good signs. Take Cali Swimmy and have some fun with him. Anything to break out of this work out-come home-shower-sit around wondering, "what's next?" routine I've been in all week.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2011 In Pictures

I'm a little early posting this this year, but what the heck.

Last year, I got the idea to use Windows Movie Maker to consolidate my favorite pictures from 2010, instead of making a big, long blog post. I think that will be my tradition from now on--it's easy enough to do, and this year, I took some time to add captions in just the right places and make it a little special.

When I finished uploading the pictures I wanted to use into Movie Maker, I found that...ooops...the video was almost ten minutes long! I thought about making it last that long and using two songs, but figured most of you wouldn't really want to sit through that.

I had to weed out some pictures, but I left in my very favorites--some are favorites for artistic merit and some because of the people in them, and the happy memories. I had a lot of mini-adventures this year, and I always, always had my Nikon along for the ride (and a certain little duck, of course).

So without further ado, I present my favorite pictures of 2011. Almost all of them are mine, except for three or so that were taken by Maayan when she visited in April.

Enjoy, and thanks for watching!

Victorian Christmas

It's been ages since Mom, Dad and I have been on a day trip, and Dad mentioned a few days ago that he would like to try to get out a bit over the next few weeks. I'm always game, so today we hopped in the van and drove to Grass Valley and Nevada City to have a look around. Nevada City's historic district was closed off for a Victorian Christmas celebration, so we stopped to have a look around.

As ever, I'll let my pictures speak for themselves!

Fabulous theater in Grass Valley

I love these old Gold Rush era buildings.

Would've been a better picture without the Jeep. Oh, well.

Between Grass Valley and Nevada City. Never heard of a road linking
Idaho and Maryland...

The local firemen were selling burgers out of the old

It was quite crowded.

Nothing says "Victorian Christmas" like a person in a
red-nosed squirrel costume.

For all the people running around in fabulous Victorian costumes, I didn't get any great pics. I was mostly focusing on buildings and signs, anyway.

It was a lovely day--sunny, not at all cold (I was in a light sweater and scarf and perfectly comfortable). We had lunch and now we're cozy and comfy at home. Another busy week starts tomorrow, leading up to Christmas.