Monday, December 31, 2007

Meeting the family? I survived

Meeting the family? Turns out it wasn't too bad.

The Coach and I left for the family gathering around 1 p.m. Saturday, after watching Michael Flowers hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left to give my Badgers an upset over (then ranked) No. 9 Texas on the road.

And then it was time for us to hit the road to the southeastern part of the state.

We were actually the first to arrive at his mom's house. So it wasn't too overwhelming meeting a ton of family at once. Although 20 minutes after our arrival it was me who was answering the phone, mostly because The Coach and his mom were elbow deep in getting some kind of appetizer ready. That phone call lead to an early introduction to The Coach's brother, who was on his way over to the gathering.

Within an hour or so, the house was full of people. There was lots of food and laughing. Stories were told and drinks were shared. And not once during the day did I feel out of place, even though I was clearly the "New Girl" who hadn't been around this family before. In fact, the only hard time I got was from The Coach's brother, who told me I was expected to eat three plates of food and keep up with him in the number of beers consumed. Yeah, I didn't quite fulfill those expectations.

As people trickled out of the house at the end of the gathering, I got lots of "nice to meet yous" and warm handshakes. But a handshake wasn't going to do for The Coach's mom, who even got me a Christmas gift! Instead I got a big hug and a "see you again soon."

As we were driving back north to The City on the Water, I asked The Coach how he thought the day went. He said I did a good job and not to worry, that he was sure his family liked me. And apparently they did, since that's what his mother told him in a follow up phone call the next day.

So one family has been met. Now it's just time for The Coach to meet mine. And I'm pretty sure he'll do a good job and they'll like him.

Friday, December 28, 2007

As long as the weather isn't crappy, I'm in for a big event

I'm looking forward to the weekend, yet at the same time, I'm a bit nervous.

See, I have plans this weekend. As in the kind of plans that I haven't participated in in about five or six years. Plans that can make a girl nervous.

I'm meeting The Coach's family on Saturday.

Eek!

And while I say I'm nervous, I don't think it will be too bad. I mean, I'm a big kid. I can handle meeting new people (for crying out loud, I'm a reporter, I talk to strangers all the time!) and I generally think I'm a nice person. And besides, as long as The Coach is by my side I think I'll get through this day-long meeting just fine.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I've been poked and prodded, but this? It's uncomfortable

I've had to do a lot of things in order to help solve the throbbing in my head. And I'm not even thinking about the insane number of high powered drugs that have been pumped into my body (and therefore wrecking havoc with my monthly visitor).

I've been stuck with way too many needles so my blood could be drawn. There were MRIs and CT scans. And don't forget the day when a doctor stuck needles in my my spine in order to collect spinal fluid. Needless to say, it's been a bit painful.

By far, the most painless treatments so far have been my visits to the chiropractor. But he's also got me seeing a physical therapist who works at his office. And mostly the therapist has me doing a bunch of stretching stuff in an attempt to help build up my muscles in my neck and shoulder area. Because apparently I don't have the best posture. Today I had to work with some resistance bands, and although I'm a bit sore, it didn't hurt.

But then the therapist decided on another form of treatment. And this one? It's a bit uncomfortable at times. Because I've been taped. Yes, there is tape running from my collar bone up and over my shoulders to midway down my back. It's supposed to help with my posture. Like when I start slouching it becomes uncomfortable. Luckily I don't slouch too much. It's just the tape? It's a bit uncomfortable. And it itches. And it's warm.

But I have to keep wearing it. After a couple of days and a few showers, the tape will start to come off by itself. Then I can just have The Coach rip it off. And I can be tapeless.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This won't be a lazy Sunday

I've never been a last minute shopper. But this year? That's exactly what I am. Because tomorrow, on Dec. 23, I have to buy every single Christmas present I plan to give this year. And while I'm at it, I'll have to wrap them as well.

I'm not sure if this is going to be fun or not. It depends. Hopefully my head isn't throbbing though. Because that could make the day's plans a little difficult.

And if spending the entire day before Christmas Eve shopping and wrapping presents isn't enough fun, I get to do it all while a winter storm is pounding Wisconsin. And throw some winds, which could reach 40 miles per hour, into the mix.

Yeah. I can't wait.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Only 3 days left and I still have a bunch of stuff to do!

So if I count the days on the calendar right, Christmas Eve is in three days.

I should be excited. I mean, Christmas, one of my favorite holidays, is almost here. But instead, I'm getting nervous. And worried. And I'm starting to freak out a bit.

Why?

Well I have a bit of a problem. I haven't even started my Christmas shopping yet. I've bought a grand total of zero presents so far. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. And believe me, that's not a good thing when I have a list of 12 people to buy gifts for.

I've never been in this kind of situation before. In years past, I've always had my presents bought with at least a week to spare, I've taken the time to wrap them with bows and ribbon and they've been sitting under my Christmas tree, making it look pretty. Not the case this year. Granted I spent a majority of December curled in a fetal position with a throbbing migraine, so I wasn't really in the mood to shop. So I do have an excuse.

But still. Three days? And all that shopping? I'm freaking out.

And I'm not sure when, or if, I'm even going to get everything done. In the best case scenario, I could spent Saturday shopping until every person was crossed off my list.

But I have a bit of a problem. It's my weekend to work. Meaning I'm sitting at my desk from 2 until 11 p.m. Saturday. It's hard to shop when I'm supposed to be working.

So my tentative plan is to maybe get up quasi early Saturday, maybe around 9 a.m., to head north to get some shopping in before I have to be in the office. In a perfect world, I'll be able to cross everyone off my list. Because I have bigger problems to contend with on Sunday. There will be presents to wrap, cookies to make for my family get together on Christmas Day (and no, I can't sacrifice any more of my portion of cutouts), a get together with an old friend from preschool and, oh yeah, supposedly a snowstorm to deal with. I tell ya, there's no time for shopping Sunday.

So cross your fingers for me that I can magically get all of my shopping done Saturday. Because at this point, I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

At least it wasn't the rainbow colored jibberish I've experienced before

My computer and I aren't getting along very well.

Actually we're not getting along at all since the computer won't turn on. Yes, that's right. The computer? It might be dead. Either that or very, very sick.

See it all started a few weeks ago. I'd go through all the motions to shut it down and it would just freeze. Stuck in "shutting down" mode. It kind of annoyed me, but I didn't think it was a big deal.

Unfortunately it turned into a big deal the other night. When I got the Blue Screen of Death. Or Severe Illness.

I was on my computer, wasting some time before starting my annual Christmas letter (yes, Christmas cards have not been sent out yet). So there I was, surfing on the web and all of a sudden BAM! The screen goes blue. And it's telling me all this high tech sounding stuff. Things about how I'm supposed to make sure any new hardware I've installed is properly done and I should do all this other computer stuff.

I shut the computer down. And I unplugged it from the wall. And left it like that overnight. For like 38 hours.

Last night I tried turning the computer on, hoping the Blue Screen of Death or Severe Illness was just a freak accident. Nope. I don't think the computer even booted up. The Blue Screen? It was back.

Now I was getting worried. What was I going to do? I need my computer. If anything I need an means to procrastinate at night. And blog. And play Snood.

So I guess tonight I get to unplug all the cords that are plugged into the back of my computer tower. And then load it up in my car to take it north to Best Buy. Because although I'm getting stuck with the Blue Screen of Death or Severe Illness, at least my 3-year warranty hasn't expired yet. Which means this might not be too costly for me. Because I can't handle another costly incident right now.

All I want is a computer without the Blue Screen of Death.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Apparently I talk a lot

Here's another numbers post. This time the magic number is 900.

As in, that's now the amount of anytime minutes I have for my cell phone.

That's right. Today I had to go to Verizon and upgrade my cell phone plan. Mostly because for the second month in a row I went over my allotted 450 minutes, and that doesn't take into effect the free night minutes I get. For that matter, most months I was coming awfully close to my 450 minutes, I was just lucky and stayed under the bar.

But last month? Over. And my bill, which is normally about $45, skyrocketed to $70. This month? I was already over with about a week left in the month. Who knows what the bill would have come to. What I did know was that I had to high tail it over to Verizon and tell the phone people that I needed to increase my minutes. Because when extra minutes are 45 cents, that adds up really quick. And the phone lady I dealt with was nice, she made it so my 900 minute plan took effect at the beginning of the month. Which means, no overages for me in December.

So now the lucky number is 900. And that's a number I think I can stay below. Unless I start talking non-stop.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

37 times 12 is a really big number

444

That's a big number. An impressive number even. But it sounds so much cooler when I say that 444 is the number of cutout Christmas cookies I helped make today.

Today was the annual Cutout Christmas Cookie making day that my mom and aunts participate in. We tripled the recipe, using 21 cups of flour instead of the 7 cups called for in a single recipe. And there was 6 eggs instead of 2. And so much shortening was needed that we no longer use the measuring cup. Nope. A few years ago we realized the 6 cups of shortening was the exact amount that came in a 48 ounce can of Crisco. So now we just empty the entire can in.

We have a system worked out. My mom and one aunt mixed, rolled the dough and used the cookie cutters while I scooped the cookies on to the trays. My other aunt managed the oven. It's a system we've perfected over the years. In the past I've been much more involved, even doing some rolling, mixing and cutting myself, but due to the whole head throbbing issue and not feeling the greatest, I played a limited roll. But still, it only took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish.

And while 444 cookies, minus the four test cookies we had, sounds like an impressive number, it's smaller than last year's number. Last year when there was one extra aunt and we finished with 601 cookies.

Now all I have left to do is frost and decorate my share of the cookies. But I'm waiting. Because in just about a half hour, The Coach is coming over. And he's going to help me. And while he doesn't know this yet, he might go home with a small plate of cookies. Because my box of cookies came back to the City on the Water much fuller than I was expecting.

I'm sure a few cookies will be consumed tonight. But I'll be stingy with them. Because they need to last until Christmas. But I think it goes without saying that the annual cookie making day is one of my favorite parts of the whole holiday season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sometimes I read

This is way overdue, but I need to supply my November reading report.

The results are too impressive, but in November I managed to finish two books for a total of 839 pages. That brings my yearly total to 44 books and 16,505 pages.

In November I read:
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

I missed reading at the end of the month due to the head issues and I think I've managed to read 10 pages so far this month. But hopefully I'll start feeling better soon and be able to finish up another book or two before I run out of dates in 2007.

A quick update

My blog is feeling neglected again. And it's still due to the throbbing in my head. But since today is one of the better days I've had lately, I thought a quick update, in bullet form, was called for.

  • The bad news is the throbbing migraines in my head are still causing me problems. The good news? My doctors think they know what the problem is. I still have to undergo one more test on Friday, but hopefully after that, the doctors will make a diagnosis and I can start down the path towards getting better. Apparently treatment for what the doctors think I have involves a hefty dose of steroids for a couple of months. But at least it's a chance to feel better again.
  • I'm amazed at the amount of care and concern I've gotten from family, friends and co-workers. It's something I've expected from my friends and family. But I never thought this would be the reaction I got from some of my co-workers. It makes me feel good and appreciate the people I work with and the place I spend my days.
  • And speaking of people who are concerned. The Coach has been amazing. I've given him the chance to run away. Because seriously, who would want to deal with something like this? But he refuses to leave. And instead on the nights when I'm curled in a fetal position because it hurts so bad, he's been by my side. Letting me fall asleep and making sure I'm OK. All because he's concerned and wants me to feel better.
  • I did have one good night last weekend. And I took advantage of it, going to a holiday gathering hosted by one of my friends. And The Coach came along with me, meeting most of my friends here in The City on the Water. And he did a good job.
  • It's December 12 and I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. I've been too busy dealing with a throbbing head. Looks like this could be one of those Christmas seasons where I do all of my shopping at the last minute.
  • Since the head throbbing began, I think I've been averaging 16 hours of sleep a day. And I'm still tired.
  • Remember my fantasy football team? The team that was so awful at the beginning of the season? Well Crime & Grime is now a force to be reckoned with in my league. After starting the season 1-7, my team went 4-1 and qualified for the playoffs. And then? The Criminals knocked off the No. 1 ranked team in our league. The rest of the teams in my league should be scared of my Criminals.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I wanted to kill the monster in my head, but I didn't have the energy

It's been so long I don't even know what day of the week it is much less what day of the month it is.

But I have a good reason for my disappearance.

For the last two weeks, I've been curled up in a fetal position. My head has been throbbing. And we're not just talking a dull pain, but a throbbing so bad it felt like it was a pair of knives being stabbed in and out of my head. Pain where it might have been less painful to chop my head off than deal with the migraine that pestered me for SEVEN DAYS!

Yes, I've been dealing with a migraine for seven days. I've never had a migraine last seven days before. They usually leave after two days. But this one? It was seven days.

I stayed home from work the entire time and made four different visits to my doctor's office in hopes of getting rid of the migraine. Two different blood draws and four different shots to the lower back area still left me with a migraine so Friday night I headed over to the emergency room, where I got more medicine via an IV and also had to have scans done of my head, because remember, the migraine that had been bothering me for seven days?

I still didn't go to work today, but the throbbing has subsided. Instead I've been dealing with a very, very sore lower back, because some neurosurgeon decided I needed to have fluid drawn, FROM MY SPINAL CORD! OUCH! And yes, it did hurt.

But hopefully I'm on my way to figuring out why I was left throwing up and curled up in a fetal position for over a week. At the same time, hopefully I'll also be able to return to my blog, because even though I didn't think in coherent sentences too often the last two weeks, I did miss blogging.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Add in the snow and it was an eventful night

It's never a dull shift when you work the night before a holiday.

What else can top Kenny Rogers, former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler, an armed robbery, a hunter who shot himself in the foot and groin and opening night at a holiday light display?

And to think, The Coach told me "not to work too hard."

Yeah, that didn't happen.

I was always told to say please and thank you

Tomorrow's the day most turkeys fear: Thanksgiving.

Although I like most holidays, Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. I get to enjoy turkey and mashed potatoes while surrounded by my family. And this year? Add in some Green Bay Packers. It makes for a good day.

I admit though, I'm not a fan of the entire Thanksgiving fest. Cranberries? I'll pass. Yams? Yuck. If I have to I'll eat some green beans, but my vegetable of choice is corn. The mashed potatoes and gravy is yummy as is the turkey (but I'll take some white meat, thanks). For desert, you can kept your pumpkin pies. I'll take a slice of the chocolate.

I know, it sounds like I'm an incredibly picky eater. And in some cases, I am. But I've gotten better. Besides, I never promised I was an equal opportunity eater.

But the holiday isn't just about the food or the football or even being surrounded by family. It's about taking time to realize what you're thankful for. And I am thankful for a lot of things.

Here's just a few:
  • I'm thankful that I finally am living in a city close to my family.
  • I'm thankful for having a job that I enjoy.
  • I'm thankful I have a loving family who support me in whatever I choose to do, even if it's a crazy idea like running 13.1 miles.
  • I'm thankful for my friends, both the new ones I've made over the past year and the ones I've known forever.
  • I'm thankful for my upcoming four-day weekend.
  • I'm thankful for my health.
  • I'm thankful for warm woolen mittens.
  • I'm thankful winter weather has made its appearance. Don't hurt me, but I loved the snowflakes that fell from the sky today and the chilly weather. It's perfect weather for curling up under a blanket with a book and settling in for a lazy day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I've been keeping a secret

I didn't want to jinx it, so I've kept it kind of mum.

But I think it's safe to fess up.

I've met a boy.

I'll give you a moment or two to compose yourselves, faithful readers, because this is big news.

* waits *

OK. I'll continue now.

So yeah, the girl who went through a self-imposed two year dating hiatus met a boy. Actually, it was a blind date set up by a co-worker. Which is impressive for me. Because me? I don't usually do blind dates.

It was about a month ago that I first chatted with the boy. From now on, we'll call him The Coach, which is appropriate since he's an assistant high school coach. Anyway, our first date was dinner. And we got along fabulously. Let's just say we sat down for dinner at 8 and before we knew it the clock said it was 11:45 p.m. and it felt like it had been five minutes.

There have been more dates since, including one Sunday afternoon when we toured Lambeau Field and watched football, rooting for the players on our fantasy football teams.

Like I said, The Coach and I get along fabulously. We have a lot in common and there doesn't ever seem to be those awkward silences that can exist during that "getting to know you stage." He's a pretty sweet guy too, even sending flowers to me at work when I was pulling a weekend shift two weeks ago. And there's no need to worry about if I'd be taller than him if I chose to wear a pair of heels since he towers over me at 6 feet, 5 inches.

And tonight? He's making me dinner!

So cross your fingers for me faithful readers. Because I think I like The Coach and I hope he sticks around for a while.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy birthday to my blog

It's been a year since I started this blog. I've rambled about nothing for 365 days. But because it's my blog's birthday today, let's take a look at some monthly highlights from the 322 posts I've come up with during the last year.

November 2006: My first blog post. I had been living in the City on the Water for a few weeks and all I wanted was to order a pizza. But I had no phone book.

December 2006: A month filled with holiday related posts. First there were the twinkling Christmas lights that decided not to twinkle, and what about AskMoses.com, or the day I helped bake over 600 cutout Christmas cookies?

January 2007: With birthdays come visits to the friendly folks at the DMV. Apparently they trust my ability to drive.

February 2007: I caught the running bug. Again.

March 2007: Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to conduct a phone interview and take notes while your finger is gushing blood.

April 2007: When my smoke detector wasn't being a pain in the butt, I found myself running. Including my first 5K since middle school.

May 2007: Need I say more than the Great Neck Slicing of 2007?

June 2007: I got that crazy idea in my head to run a half marathon.

July 2007: The Raptors came to town. And they were loud, and fast and so cool.

August 2007: There was an adventure to Alpine Valley, battles waged with crickets and some crazy fool trusted me with a gun.

September 2007: Remember that half marathon? I finished it. Oh, I also got to go back to Camp Randall.

October 2007: I went ghost hunting.

November 2007: Always make sure the tire store gives you your flat tire back.

Thanks for stopping by during my blog's first year. I hope the next year's adventures are just as blog-able.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I think it's time to pack it away

I love my fleece. Both of them. The red one and the black one.

They're comfortable and toasty warm. But at the same time, not so warm that I end up sweating buckets if I decide to wear one of them on a super sunny day when temperatures are hovering in the upper 50s.

But yesterday? It was getting a bit chilly. And the fact that the wind was blowing around 30 miles an hour? That made it that much colder. So last night while I was laying in bed, reading a book, the howling and growling wind played a huge role in my decision.

It was time to put the fleece away and pull out the work-appropriate winter jacket.

So this morning it was the charcoal gray pea coat that I threw on instead of the red fleece I would have preferred. But I think it's the right decision, especially since the weatherman is telling me the mercury in the thermometer might reach 40 degrees this weekend, if I'm lucky.

Tonight the fleece will get hung up in the hall closet, where they'll stay until spring or the mid-winter heat wave, whatever one comes first.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Choices

I thought about getting reacquainted with the YMCA tonight.

But it was cold, the wind was blowing and that makes for the perfect night to come home, throw on the sweats and curl up underneath a blanket with a good book.

Which is exactly what I'm going to do. Now it's just deciding if I want to read "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" for my book club or crack open "New Moon," the second book in the vampire series that I loved. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Watch out for flying cable boxes

Seriously? They're telling me I won't be able to watch UW and Minnesota this weekend?

I realize Minnesota is winless in the Big Ten. But come on, it's the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.

For a refresher:
Number of Badger games Badgergirl was unable to watch this season because they were only being aired on the The Big Ten Network? 5
Number of games the Badgers played this season? 11

And folks, it's going to get worse once the basketball season starts, where something like 18 of the games are being shown on the network my cable provider refuses to carry.

Something must be done. Because Badgergirl? She's not so happy.

Note to the cable box. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Because you might get thrown out the window.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Most parades were for veterans today. Here? We're celebrating the holidays

I went to a "holiday" parade today.

And yes, you're reading your calendar correctly. It's only Nov. 10. But regardless of what the date on the calendar says, the City on the Water decided to have their holiday parade today. Completely with Santa Claus and Christmas carols.

I have a few problems with this.

Did I mention it's only Nov. 10? Seriously. Kids were running around neighborhoods less than 2 weeks ago, dressed up as pirates and princesses. And what about the holiday where we stuff ourselves with turkey and celebrate pilgrims and Indians? In my mind, we start celebrating Christmas after we do the whole turkey thing.

Even if we forget the date on the calendar, I still had problems with today's holiday parade. For starters, it was at 10. In the morning. When it was light out. And to me, holiday parades are supposed to be when it's dark out. Maybe it's because I grew up in Appleton. Where they hold their Christmas parade (yes, they call it a Christmas parade, not a holiday parade) is held the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and it's at night. Part of the tradition? The Christmas lights along College Avenue are lit for the first time when the parade begins. It's not only a signal to begin the parade festivities, but also to start celebrating the holiday season.

Plus, since Appleton's is later in the month, there's an actual chance of snow. And nothing is better than a Christmas parade marching down the street with a light snow falling.

But Santa Claus and the Christmas carols were out in full force today in the streets of downtown here in the City on the Water. And I was there. But I'll be waiting eagerly for the "real" Christmas parade in just over a week.

Bucky's beating up the Wolverines

If I wasn't sitting at my desk working this morning, it would be a very good morning.

But still. A 20-7 Wisconsin lead at halftime? Against Michigan? That makes for a happy Badgergirl.

And the red roses that were sitting at my desk this morning? They were a nice touch and made this morning that much better.

It has the potential to be a good day.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Don't believe me that I got tased? Here's the evidence

Remember how I got tased? Now I can offer you photographic proof.


Preparing to get shocked.


That hurt, just a bit.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

That's highway robbery. Of the tire variety

Thieves.

That's what I call the Tire Store people who stole my flat tire. Although I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would want to steal a flat tire.

Confused? Let me back up a bit.

So remember yesterday, how I walked out of my apartment to do errands in the afternoon and discovered I had a flat tire? And I took it over to the Tire Store? And they told me it was flat and unfixable?

Well, I didn't mention that first they attempted to sell me a set of four new tires. Yes, you read that right. A set of four. Now, I may not know much about cars, but I do know that one flat tire does not mean I have to purchase an entire set of four tires. Because when I got my oil change just three days before? They told me my tires were fine (little did they know I'd be dealing with a flat tire in a matter of days).

It might have been the skeptical look I gave Tire Man, because all of a sudden he's talking about me purchasing either one or two tires. It sounded a bit more reasonable, but like I said, I know very little about car maintenance aside from getting my oil changed every 3,000 miles.

"How about you guys just put on the spare and I'll talk to my Dad."

Because that's what any reasonable 27-year-old girl would do. Talk to her dad. Because dads? They know about cars.

Tire Man gave me this look and said OK. His cohorts put on my spare, making the Focus a bit ghetto looking and off I drove, with my quotes for a set of four tires, four tires that I would not be buying from Tire Man.

I get back to my apartment and tell Dad about what just went down at the Tire Store. He says he'll talk to Trusted Tire Store, where my set of somewhat functioning tires were purchased two years ago. In the meantime, I'm thinking my old, flat tire is sitting safely in the trunk of my car.
Fast forward to today. Something just didn't feel right. So after work I pop the trunk, just to make sure my now flat tire was there.

IT WAS GONE!

There was an old winter jacket, some mittens, my bike rack and my comfy campfire chair. But there wasn't any sign of a flat tire.

I go inside and immediately dial the Tire Store.

"I was in last night with a flat tire. You guys weren't able to fix it so you put my spare tire on. Do you by chance still have my old tire? Because I kind of need the rim and hubcap thing."

"Oh, was it from a Ford?" the Tire Man asks.

"Yeah."

"Yup. It's sitting right here."

"Can I have it back?"

Tire Man kind of chuckles. But at this point. I'm not laughing. Not only do I have to make another trip to the Tire Store, but I feel as though the Tire Man is holding my flat tire hostage, like he'll only give it up if I buy a new set of four tires from him. And last time I checked? That flat tire (and the hubcap/rim thing attached to it) belonged to me.

But I got it back. And I will never in my life recommend someone go to the Tire Store if they find themselves faced with a flat tire. Because at the Tire Store, they steal your flat tires. And that's just not cool.

Monday, November 5, 2007

If you call 2 books reading

Reading took a backseat in October. Although I don't have any explanation why. I have no excuses. I just didn't read.

I did manage to finish two books for a total of 618 pages. That brings the yearly total to 42 books and 15,666 pages.

And for those of you interested in what I actually did read this month:
Slightly Married by Wendy Markham
The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

Of course, there was another one in the works, but since I didn't finish it, it doesn't count towards October's totals.

General yuckiness in bullet point form

Because I'm not sure I can string together enough coherent sentences to form actual paragraphs, you're getting bullet points.

  • I feel like crap and my voice? It kind of sounds like a frog.
  • I ache.
  • My car? It has a flat tire. I didn't pay attention in driver's ed class, therefore, I didn't learn how to change a tire. I'm currently in the process of finding someone of the male gender (who knows how to change a tire) to come over and help me.
  • I spent my day off, glued to my recliner, dozing and watching cheezy Lifetime movies.
  • I was supposed to get a flu shot today. That plan went down the drain when I walked outside and discovered the aforementioned flat tire.
  • Is it bedtime yet?

UPDATE: The tire? It's officially flat. As in unfixable. Meaning I have to buy a new tire. Ugh. For now, I'm riding around with my spare and the Focus? It looks a little ghetto.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The month's first run

The Weather Channel told me it was 48 degrees outside. And the sun? It had already disappeared.

But it had been a long week and all I really wanted to do was go for a quick run. And the treadmill at the YMCA? That didn't sound so appealing.

So I pulled out so pants, layered a long sleeve shirt over a T-shirt and off I went. I admit, it was a bit chilly. But I wasn't about to complain. Between the crunchy leaves on the side of the road and the smell of someone burning a fire in their backyard, it was heavenly.

My only gripe? My MP3 player decided to die. Less than a mile into my run. And of course it had to happen just as the new Matchbox 20 song was coming on. So for most of my run, I was left with just my thoughts and the sound of fall. And honestly, it wasn't that awful.

The run itself was only 2 miles. But after choosing to not lace up the shoes for a good chunk of October, it just felt good to run again. And I need to start again, because the brain? It's been thinking. And it involves an early April event.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

My teachers always taught me 2 comes before 3

Dear Public Library,

You're my friend. You've finally come through with producing one of the books I put on hold way back in the beginning of September.

But I do have a small problem. See, this book that is now sitting on a shelf with my name on it? It's the third book in a series. And I'm still patiently waiting for your guys to provide me with the chance to read the second book in the series.

And you finding Book 3 for me? That puts me in a odd situation. Because I need to read number 2 before number 3, because that's the way it's supposed to be done. But I don't really want to go out and buy Book 2, because why should I buy the second book if I don't already own the first or third book. And besides, you know as soon as I buy the book, you'll tell me it's at the library, waiting for me.

But I'll still come and pick up my copy of Book 3, because it's here. And I'll figure something out for Book 2.

Sincerely,
The Girl Who Likes to Read Books in Order

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fabulous


Apparently Krista thinks I'm fabulous. And I'm not going to argue with her.

There are some other people here in BlogLand who are pretty spiffy themselves.

There's Teacherwoman, who totally rocked Octapolluza while settling into a new school year. I wish I had her motivation to get back into the gym.

And Daily Tragedies? She's mastered a dozen words of Czech during her journey to Prague. I wish I had the courage to travel to a foreign country where I couldn't speak one word of the language.

She may love the Buckeyes, but Sara appreciates a good dose of college football.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Rugrats get dressed up

This weekend I helped supervise a Halloween party for 16 kids...all who were under the age of 6.

And let me tell you, while they were a fun bunch, watching 16 of them for 3 hours? That was enough to make me drink. Which was OK considering I went out for some of the Halloween fun of the Big Kid variety after they all went home.


Seriously? No Badgers for a third week?

Remember this weekend how I was whining about not being able to see the Badgers take on Indiana? Because the game was being shown on the Big Ten Network?

But I was somewhat OK with the game not being televised on my local cable carrier, if only because I would be able to see the Ohio State and Michigan games.

Well, apparently I spoke too soon. Because when Bucky takes on the Buckeyes on Saturday, a match up with the No. 1 ranked team in the country, I won't be able to watch it from the comfort of my recliner. Because the Big Ten Network snagged the game. And my cable company won't carry the channel. Grr.

*Angry*

Here I thought I would be able to contain my anger about this channel until the basketball season kicks off. Apparently not.

It looks like I'm going to either have to find some friends with a dish that gets this crappy channel or else I'll have to ditch my cable and affix a dish to the outside of my apartment. Because missing my Badgers? That's unacceptable.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The network or my cable company, which do I hate more?

Let me just say I HATE the Big Ten Network.

Seriously. Two weeks in a row I haven't been able to watch my Badgers because they were being televised on that stupid network that my cable company doesn't feel the need to carry.

Granted last week was a blowout to Northern Illinois. But it might have been nice to be able to watch them play Indiana. Just because. Two weeks? That's crazy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This being a cop thing is kind of fun

A quick refresher:

  • I shot the Bad Guy 4 out of 6 times in the face. My first attempt at ever shooting a gun.
  • I also got Tased that night.
  • We've learned how to lift fingerprints from evidence.
  • We played hide and seek in the county's old jail, with fake guns. It was an attempt to teach us how to clear rooms. I got to hide in a nasty corner of the jail, where the window sill was covered in a one-inch layer of dead bugs.
  • We learned about traffic stops and arrest tactics.
And this week? Well first we got to be negotiators. The folks who try to get the crazy, armed people to come out of a building without killing anyone or themselves. The crazy I had to deal with, "Dennis," demanded that I provide him with a helicopter, Snoop Dog and Ted Nugent. Hmm. Oh, and he wanted a cold pizza. "Dennis" eventually came out of the Walgreens, without killing any of his hostages. Although he did get a bit perturbed when I chuckled. Seriously, Snoop Dog? Flying a helicopter?

But after learning how to negotiate, it was time to play dress up. In SWAT gear. Which by the way, it very heavy. And quite bulky. But check out that gun!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This crying over television shows? It has to stop.

Was I the only one or did anyone else bawl like a baby when Meredith and the Chief put Meredith's mom to rest?

Because I totally bawled. Like a baby. I admit it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's no longer the quite neighborhood I grew up in

Two reasons why my parents decided to move from my childhood home a few years ago.

Armed robbery by use of axe. What was robbed? Marijuana.

And good old shots fired in a domestic situation. According to TV new, I went to high school with this upstanding citizen.

Both incidents happened within four blocks of the house I grew up in. The axe robbery? Just a block away.

Just like Dad said, the neighborhood's going downhill.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I slept. And that's about it

I had a major case of the "Blahs" this weekend.

As in, I had stuff to do, I just didn't feel like doing it.

My digital clock read 11:00 before I finally rolled out of bed Saturday morning. The alarm had gone off earlier, but I switched it off, opting to sleep a bit longer rather than get up, shower and drive up to Appleton to meet my Mom and aunt for a lunch date. I eventually made it north to swing by the hospital to introduce myself to my newest cousin - Harrison Hunter (yeah, I'm not a fan of the name).

With temperatures hovering near 70, it would have been a perfect day for me to squeeze in a run after the cousin introduction. But I didn't. By the time I made it back to my apartment, all I felt like doing was throwing on my sweats, popping some popcorn and watching "Goonies."

I was supposed to go watch football with some of my co-horts from work who are in my fantasy football league. But it was gorgeous today, so I skipped out, with intentions of getting a nice bike ride and a run in. Instead, I found myself sacked out in my recliner, finishing a book and taking a nap.

Eventually I got a 3.5 mile run in, but my bike? It felt neglected as it stayed parked in the garage.

I'm hoping my case of the "Blahs" is just a result of too many busy weekends in a row. That my body needed some down time to just do nothing. Hopefully that's the case. Because I have another busy week at work ahead of me and the next chance to relax might not come for awhile. And if that's not the problem, then I have to worry about the "Blahs" being a sign that I'm about to get sick or that they're a side effect of the Great Neck Slicing of 2007, and neither of those would be good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The screaming and thumping were better than this

Dear Man Who Lives Upstairs:

I'm not sure where the woman who was living with you went. All I know is she disappeared about a month ago and took the baby with her. By no means am I complaining. I mean think about it. No longer do I have to deal with the constantly screaming baby. Or the squeaking of your bed frame and thumping of the headboard against the wall.

It's quiet. And I like it.

But last night? Last night you ticked me off.

See, we both know that the washers in our apartments sound like a fighter jet getting ready for takeoff. Or a space shuttle that's rumbling when it's getting ready to launch into orbit.

In a word? The washers are loud. Very loud.

Yet you, the man who lives upstairs and knows exactly how loud these appliance are, you decided last night that you needed to do laundry. Which I wouldn't have had a problem with.

But you decided to start the laundry at 10:30 p.m.! And me? I had to wake up before the crack of dawn, at 5 a.m., to drag my butt into work.

So when I'm supposed to be drifting off into a peaceful night's sleep, you decide to fire up the washer and all of its rumbling glory. And there I lay. Wide awake. Because really, who can fall asleep when there's a space shuttle rumbling above your head, getting ready for lift off?

Sincerely,
Your Cranky Downstairs Neighbor

Monday, October 15, 2007

Raindrops falling on my head? That made me slightly crabby

I wanted to run tonight.

And I still had just enough daylight left. Granted it wasn't so bright, since the sun never came out from behind the dark, grey clouds today. But still. I had time to sneak in a run.

And I was ready to run, even though it was a bit chilly.

And then it started raining. And I don't run in the rain. At least not the chilly, mid-October variety of rain.

So I got home, debated about heading over to the YMCA instead. But I had my heart set on running outside.

And I couldn't.

So for about a half hour I pouted. And crossed my fingers the raindrops would hold off long enough tomorrow for me to sneak a run in.

Octapolluza Week 2 recap

Week 2 was so bad, it's not even funny.

Seven days and what did I manage to do? One lousy 2-mile run. And I managed to stick with one soda a day.

Yes folks, that's all. No gym. No multiple runs. No weights.

Just one run.

Maybe Week 3 will be better.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Boyz II Men, well they were right. It's hard to say goodbye

Goodbyes are hard. It doesn't matter if you're the one leaving or if it's someone else who's about to start a new adventure.

This weekend, I found myself saying goodbye to a dear co-worker, Bethany.

She was one of the first people I met at the newspaper. In fact, I met her before I was even officially employed here in the City on the Water. During my interview, two reporters - one of them being Bethany - took me out to lunch. From the beginning, she was easy to talk to. And then I learned that we both lived in Anderson, Indiana, our stays missing each other by a matter of months.

I started my job and Bethany and I found ourselves working together on a big scandal involving a former public official. We got to know each other outside of work as well, discussing books, playing miniature golf and bonding over an occasional martini.

Now she's off to start a new adventure, back in Indiana. The Hoosiers will be lucky to have her, because I know she'll be missed by many here.

And last night we celebrated. A gathering that involved multiple drinks, a platter of fried food, some delicious pizza and good times with friends and co-workers.

Good luck in Indiana Bethany! We'll miss you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A night to be whatever I want to

I've always liked Halloween.

Everything from the class parties, wearing your costume to school and trick or treating in grade school to the massive party and chaos on State Street in Madison during college.

And my costumes? While I don't remember them all, there are a few that standout.

In second grade I was a dinosaur. And I convinced my Mom to let me take my green face paint to school, because honestly, what kind of dinosaur has a human flesh colored face? That was also the year I got sick in the neighbor's driveway after a long night of trick or treating.

Freshmen year in college I opted for the Cat in the Hat costume. Yes, head to toe fleece, including the fleece mittens and hat. Let's just say that was the year I learned why all the college girls went for the skimpy, slutty nurse or devil costumes. Because head-to-toe fleece and crammed house parties? I was one sweaty Cat in the Hat.

Sophomore year I went the devil in a black dress route. Easy costume. Some horns, a tail and a pitch fork. It was good, and cool.

I rounded out college as a handy, Miss Fix-It and a reporter (who unfortunately really had to work that Halloween weekend).

Since college, Halloween has kind of taken a backseat to life. Granted, I spent two of those Halloweens packing a U-Haul and moving from Wisconsin to Indiana and back and another two working.

But this year? The party invitation arrived today. The party even comes complete with a theme - A Wedding from Hell. As the invite says, "Costumes are strongly encouraged" and the hosts? They were even nice enough to give us some suggestions. I could be a prenup lawyer. Or a wedding coordinator. Or even the ex-girlfriend of the groom.

All I know is I have just over two weeks to put together a costume to help me enjoy my first Halloween celebration in a LONG time! Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Cold. Dark, threatening looking clouds that looked like they were going to open up and soak us. Gusty winds that scattered the fallen leaves across the road. The mist was blowing off the river. Put them all together and it was kind of eerie outside.

A perfect October night for ghost hunting.

The Girls from Work and I met up with two local "spirit hunters" for a ghost walk through one of the city's oldest cemeteries last night. We started our hunt, walking into what appeared to be the darkest part of the cemetery.

Our guide was telling us all these tales about her previous ghost hunts. Most of the spirits she's encountered have been quite cordial and only one was a bit on the hostile side. And apparently the trail that runs along the back of the cemetery has a high level of "spirit" activity going on, which concerns me a bit since I run on that trail a lot.

By this point, we've wandered our way into a very dark corner of the cemetery. We stopped near a section where a bunch of Catholic nuns are buried. Our guide decides she's going to stop talking and maybe take some pictures, see if any spirits are among us.

"Oh, we have an orb," our guide says nonchalantly.

An orb? What does that mean? Is some nun's spirit going to come after us? Because I really do have reason to worry since my Dad's aunt (who was a nun) told my family we were all going to the fiery resort location known as H-e-double hockey sticks because we didn't got to church. Every. Single. Week.

While it wasn't super scary, I do have to admit, the orb thing? It was kind of creepy, especially when you throw in the weather elements and that we could feel the mist coming off the river.

But the orb must not have been too hostile, because it was there in the second picture our guide took and then it disappeared. Back to where ever orbs go.

We kept on our hunt. Our guide told us a few more stories and all of a sudden we were done.

Then she mentions an upcoming ghost walk along the trail that apparently has a bunch of spirit activity on it. There's been sightings of shadow people. And the ghost of a swimmer (and or biker) who died along the trail.

While I'm not saying I believe in the whole ghost thing, although we did see an orb, I think I might head out for the ghost walk along the trail. Because if it really is haunted? I at least want to have the opportunity to introduce myself to these spirits. Because it's better to run into a friendly spirit rather than a hostile spirit who has no idea who you are.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Octapolluza Week 1 recap

A quick look back at Week 1 of Octapolluza.

Good points:
  • I stuck with one soda per day, and even went the entire weekend without consuming any soda. Good for me.
  • I managed three runs - a 3.5 mile run on Monday and 2-mile runs on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Saturday, instead of pounding the pavement, a friend and I went for a 2-hour hike in some state park in the middle of Illinois. It was supposed to be a 3-hour hike, but it was HOT (and for some reason the theme song from Gilligan's Island kept running through my head, maybe not a good sign).

Bad points:
  • I technically had two rest days, Wednesday and Friday. But I did do a fair amount of walking from bar to bar in Chicago on Friday night.
  • Strength training? Yeah, I forgot about that part of Octapolluza. Hopefully I will sneak it in during Week 2.

And speaking of Week 2, it's off to a good start. I had a speedy 2-mile run this afternoon. The speediness wasn't a result of me all of a sudden becoming super fast. No, that was mostly due to the rain that started pelting me during the last half-mile or so.

Some of us don't have DVR

I finally got around to watching the first two episodes of Private Practice.

I don't have TiVo or DVR. And my VCR? Last time I checked it was still awfully temperamental, deciding if and when it would follow my request to record a show. All of those are reasons why I'm thankful ABC has decided to have episodes of my favorite shows available online.

So tonight, I watched the first two episodes of Private Practice. And honestly, I'm not quite sure what to think yet. But I do have to admit, last week's episode, the baby switch? I bawled at the end. Maybe that means I should stick around and watch Private Practice. Because if a show can make you bawl two weeks in, it has to be good, doesn't it?

And thankfully NBC has the same option. Because me? I was sitting in Chicago rush hour traffic while the season premiere of Friday Night Lights was on. And I didn't want to miss it. But I obviously did.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I was sweating just standing there!

Chicago in a word: Hot.

All weekend, but especially today. And those folks who were running the Chicago Marathon? I felt for you. I don't like running short distances when the mercury hits 88, but running 26.2 miles in that kind of heat? Brutal. And my heart goes out to the family of the guy from Michigan who died after the race.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I need to pay to drive on your road?

I'm anxious. Ready to pack up my work stuff, head home and throw some clothes in a bag.

Because this weekend? I'm off to the Windy City, to visit my college roommate. And I'm excited. It's been too long since The Roommate and I hung out for a weekend.

And we've got fun stuff planned.

Upon my arrival, the plan is to hit up some Chicago bars for a good ole girls night at the pub. And tomorrow, there may be a run along the Lake Michigan shoreline and a hike in the afternoon. We might hit up an improv show at night. The plan also includes some Chicago Marathon viewing - hopefully no runners keel over in front of us because I don't know CPR and it's supposed to be HOT! And don't food, because food? It's good.

So I'm super excited for my weekend trip. It will be fun.

But first, I need to finish up work, throw my clothes in a bag and navigate the Illinois Tollway, even though I kind of think it's ridiculous that the State of Illinois charges me to drive on its highways.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My skin's still crawling

Ewe. Ewe. Ewe.

I've got the creepie crawlies. The heebie jeebies. And this time? It's not because of a cricket.

I was all curled up in my recliner, staring at the TV, because that's what I do from 8 until 9 on Thursday nights when Grey's Anatomy is on. I stare at the TV.

But all of a sudden, the big toe on my right foot felt funny. Kind of ticklish. I glanced down, and saw a dark spot. And it was MOVING!

I flung my foot. The spot left but I immediately jumped up to turn on the lights in the living room.

And there it was.

An earwig.

Yes, an earwig was crawling up my foot.

*Shudder*

Needless to say, I grabbed some tissue and employed the scoop and flush method. But I still have that sensation that my skin is crawling. Because earwigs? They're almost as nasty as crickets.

Monday, October 1, 2007

My new challenge

So another blogger, Teacherwoman, has come up with Octapolluza, a challenge to give her an extra push to get out there and bike, swim, run or just generally stay active.

Since the half marathon's done and it's starting to get fall-like here in the City on the Water, even though it's supposed to be in the mid-70s this week, I thought Octapolluza might be a good challenge. It'll keep me running and it will also force me back into the habit of hitting up the YMCA, a building I haven't stepped foot in since March.

So what do I have to do? I'm going to tweak Teacherwoman's requirements slightly, mostly because she's giving up soda. Me? I need my daily dose of Diet Coke around 1 p.m., so soda's staying for me.

Here's the challenge, during the month of October, I'm aiming to do the following:
  • 1 workout per day. That being a minimum of 2 mile run, a 10 mile bike, or 30 minute swim.
  • 1 optional rest day each week.
  • 1 strength training day each week.
  • I'm allowed 1 soda a day. I better savor it.

I started off Octapolluza on the right foot, I got in a 3.5 mile run tonight after work, the first time I've run since the half marathon. And besides the fact that I came home and was literally dripping like I had just gotten out of the shower, it was a good run.

We'll see how the rest of October goes.

I got tagged

There's a game of tag being played on the Internet. And I've been tagged, so here goes.

The rules:
1. Post these rules before you give you the facts.
2. List eight random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) someone and list their name (linking to their page).
4. Leave them a comment on their blog letting them know they’ve been tagged!

Eight random things, huh? Well, let's see.

1. Of all the household chores, I think cleaning the bathroom is my least favorite. And of all the bathroom tasks? Cleaning the shower comes in dead last. I'm not sure why. But I'm pretty sure that's why I always put cleaning the bathroom off as long as humanly possible.

2. During a road trip in college, my friends and I saw the sunrise in Luna, New Mexico. It was a glorious moment. Not because the sunrise was beautiful, but because it meant gas stations would open for business, we could get gas for our car and use the bathroom. Two hours later, our car broke down in Rosa, New Mexico. Somehow I don't think New Mexico and I get along. Therefore, I don't think I'm ever going back.

3. I'm a nail biter. I've tried to quit a million times. And I was successful once, for about three months. But for some reason, I started biting again and I just can't stop.

4. I started playing the violin in third grade and the piano in fourth grade. I played all through high school and college. While I have my violin with me, I haven't picked it up in over a year and I miss playing it. But my piano's still at my parents' house. And I miss playing that even more.

5. My favorite class in college was "The Political History of the Modern Olympics." I took it my sophomore year and had to beg an upperclassman to hold my spot in the class until I could register.

6. I never touched alcohol until I got to college. Once my parents dropped me off at my dorm, I think I stayed alcohol-free for approximately three weeks.

7. I used to weigh 50 pounds more than I do now. I can thank Weight Watchers and exercise for helping me take those pounds off, although I'd still like to lose another 7.

8. I'm a very, very picky eater. Although I've gotten better. But I still don't like Chinese, Thai or generally any food group that comes from Asia.

There, that's 8 things. Now I tag Lootsfoz, Deloris and Teacherwoman.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Badgers, they were right there in front of me!

I was in heaven yesterday.

Although it wasn't my first trip back to Madison, it was the first time since I graduated that I stepped foot inside Camp Randall stadium on a football Saturday. And it was fabulous.

While I was in college, if there was a home game at Camp Randall, you could find me somewhere inside the stadium. Usually camped out in sections N, O or P - home to the rowdy students. But once graduation came, I no longer had my student voucher to get me inside the gate. Unable to find tickets, I was left watching my Badgers on TV.

But that all changed yesterday. When for the first time since late 2001, I stepped inside Camp Randall to watch a game.

My seats weren't in by the students for yesterday's showdown with Michigan State, but they were inside Camp Randall. And really? That's all that mattered to me.

The Wisconsin band takes the field before the game.

The seats were good. Three rows from the field, close enough so you could see the players' faces and that hit on Kyle Jefferson late in the first half? I thought someone was bashing two helmets against each other right next to my ear.

Setting up UW's first touchdown, a P.J. Hill 5-yard run.

The UW bench asks the crowd to get loud late in the fourth quarter.

My only complaint? I missed the antics of the students. The folks that surrounded me in Section H? They were more concerned about where the guy in front of me lived and they just stared in awe at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when House of Pain blared throughout the stadium and the students took part in the traditional "Jump Around." They watched. Me? I jumped. And I got a few stares. But it was fun.

And the Badgers? Even though the game was a lot closer than I would have liked, going down to the wire with Michigan State's final possession, the Badgers pulled out the 37-34 win.

Afterwards Mom and I stuck around for the Fifth Quarter. Once again, the folks around us left as soon as the clock hit zero. But we stayed, enjoyed the band and had a good time. At one point, I jumped a fence in an attempt to get a picture with Bucky Badger, but he must have seen me coming, because his handler - yes, a college mascot has a handler, multiple ones in fact - lead him away.

It was a good day. I got to be back in Madison on game day, inside the confines of Camp Randall Stadium. And my Badgers won, which is always a good thing. They only downside, I realized how much I miss living in the city I called home for four of the best years of my life. And someday, I think I might want to go back.

But for now, I just have the memories and an upcoming trip to look forward to. But that trip? It'll feature Badgers on skates, not on turf. But it will be just as sweet as Saturday's trip to Camp Randall.

My football Saturday, pictures set to music!

I was playing around with some photo software I had and made a slide show. And since Blogger let's me post video...

I present to you, my Saturday at Camp Randall, complete with music!

video

The pages kept turning

Well apparently I now know why I wasn't running so much in September. It must have been because I spent a good chunk of time reading.

I finished six books, totaling 2,185 pages in September. That brings my total to 40 books and 15,048 pages. Obviously I've reached my goal of 40 books for the year already, so now we'll just have to see how many books I can finish this year.

During September I read:

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Slightly Single by Wendy Markham
Slightly Settled by Wendy Markham
Slightly Engaged by Wendy Markham

I admit, the last three books on the list were super quick reads. Can we say, books that are good beach reading? Except in my case, there were no beaches to be found. Just my recliner. And they're part of a four-book series. I'm in the middle of book four as we speak, can you guess the title? If you guessed Slightly Married, you're correct.

So once that one's done, it should be back to some more "quality" books, because I also have a stack of those sitting on my shelves patiently waiting to be read.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Heading down the road to Camp Randall!

"If you want to be a Badger, just come along with me."

Yeah, can you tell I'm just a whee bit excited for tomorrow? My first trip to Camp Randall in ages! And the UPS man? He's my favorite person today, because he brought my tickets. And the seats? Amazing. Section H, Row 8, Seats 3-6.

The view?

Take a look from the middle of the section:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can it get any better?

I've been waiting for this night since, oh I don't know, May when the season finale of Grey's Anatomy ran.

Yes, it was nice to not have to worry about being home during the summer to catch my favorite TV shows. But I'll admit, Thursday nights this summer were lonely without my weekly update on the gang from Seattle Grace.

And tonight, it all ends. Grey's starts again. Although I'm not sure what to think about this new batch of interns. And what about George? Not passing his test? And no more Burke? And then there's Addison, who left for her own show, Private Practice, which I'm sad to report I missed last night. But I do know one thing, tonight, at 8 p.m. it will be fabulous to catch up with my friends from Seattle Grace.

And if the season premier of Grey's Anatomy wasn't enough to make this a wonderful day, I got even better news.

I'm the proud owner of a handful of tickets to Saturday's Badger game. Yes folks, I'm heading to Camp Randall this weekend, for the first time since 2001, my final season as a student ticket holder. I'm excited to see the stadium renovation. And to see what Camp Randall's like from a non-student section point of view. And of course, to watch my Badgers take on Michigan State.

Bring on the Spartans! Because Saturday, it will be a wonderful day.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My first attempt at 13.1 miles. And I didn't die.

It's done.

And I survived.

I finished my first half marathon on Sunday, the U.S. Cellular Half Marathon. And while I wasn't the fastest, I wasn't dead last. The important thing, for me, is that I accomplished the goal I set out for myself back in June, to finish.

Krista (who was also running the race) and I picked up our race bibs and goodie bags Saturday and scarfed down some spaghetti. Then we crashed. I even fell asleep shortly before the fourth quarter of the Badger game, missing the end of the game and not knowing if Wisconsin won.

We got up at 6 a.m. Sunday, took a quick shower and had half of a bagel before taking off for the starting line. My mom came along with us, acting as official chauffeur and photographer for the day.

Standing in the massive crowd of people at the starting line, I couldn't believe what I was about to do. Yes, I had spent the last four months or so training, but part of me still didn't feel ready for what I was about to tackle. At one point, I remember looking over at Krista and saying, dammit, if I’d never met you, I never would’ve gotten this crazy idea in my head. She just smiled and chuckled.

And then the gun went off. And I had to start running.

The first few miles were fine. Somewhere around Mile 1.5, I saw a woman, decked out in her Badger T-shirt, standing in her driveway with her cup of steaming coffee watching the runners go by. I pulled one of my earphones out and asked her, "Did they win?" She looked momentarily confused, but smiled when she realized what I was asking and said, "Yup." That made my day.

I kept running. Over the highway overpass at Mile 2. Through some neighborhoods and out onto the street that I would find myself running on for the next 4 miles, which would seem like forever.

I almost got hit by a car around Mile 6.5 while attempting to cross an intersection. But I blame that on a pair of inept police officers. One who was waving me through the intersection while the other one was telling the cars it was OK for them to go.

I kept running. At Mile 7 they had a clock set up and it said I was 1 hour, 22 minutes into the race. Not too bad, that was about where I figured I would be time wise at this point. And I still felt OK, even though when I passed my mom at Mile 8 I told her I was dying. But I wasn't.

Things were going fine, although for a while I didn't think I was ever going to leave the City of Menasha. I tell ya, it might not be a big city, but it took FOREVER to run through it! The clock I passed around Mile 10, shortly before I left Menasha told me I was 2 hours, 6 minutes into the race. And I was still feeling OK.

And then I hit Mile 11.

And that's when I started to struggle. It didn't help that there was this huge bridge in the middle of Mile 11 or that it was really windy at that point. And I was running uphill INTO the wind while trying to cross that bridge.

I found myself having to take a longer walk break. My legs? They were starting to feel weak. And I still had at least a mile to go. I passed the marker for Mile 12 and I started running, OK, more like a shuffle, but in my mind I was running. I ran passed the boats and I could see where the finish line was in the park. But I still had to run around the park.

I took another walk break with the intention of being able to run the last straightaway to the the finish line.

All of a sudden I saw Krista, who had come to cheer me on to the end. Even though she'd already run 13.1 miles that day, she came to find me and run the last bit with me. And I was grateful for that. Because without her help, during the race and the months leading up to it, I don't know if I would have been able to finish this journey and accomplish the goal I set for myself.

I had just enough left in my for a "sprint" across the finish line. Not a very strong sprint, but a sprint nonetheless.

In the end, it took me 2 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds to travel 13.1 miles through three cities. Like I said, I wasn't the fastest, but I wasn't the slowest. I was finisher 1522 out of 1726 runners. My pace was 13:27, which could have been lower if it hadn't been for Miles 11 through the end.

Afterwards, Mom and Krista asked me if I would do it again. At that point, my legs still feeling weary, I said I wasn't sure. But now, about 36 hours later, I can say yes, I'll definitely do another half marathon, because as much as I complained about the training and the long runs, the feeling I got when I crossed the finish line was so worth all the sweat and miles.


And to Krista, congrats on your race and thanks for putting this crazy idea in my head.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The shoes? Now they get to rest for a bit

The running shoes are resting now.

Tonight after work I headed out for my last run before the half-marathon Sunday. I decided on a short 2-mile run, just to get my legs moving a bit. The run itself felt good. And for some reason, maybe it was because I was only planning on a short run, I felt fast. I'm not talking 6-minute mile fast, but faster than what I've been running.

So I've done what I can to prepare. Now it's just relax and wait until the starting gun goes off Sunday morning. Then we'll see how I do.

Stop or I'll shoot. Really, I know how.

So remember how I said I was going to be playing with evidence last during my Citizen's Police Academy class?

I was wrong.

I walked into the classroom and instead of a detective, there was the department's training sergeant, ready to launch into a class about use of force.

That's right kids, I got to play with guns and tasers last night.

After listening to the sergeant talk about when it's appropriate to use different kinds of force, including voices, hands, things like pepper spray and the baton, taser and gun, we got to head down to the shooting range for our chance to practice with firearms.

First, we got a quick lesson on the proper way to hold the 9-mm gun and the kind of stance we should have when we're getting ready to fire our weapon. Since the officers know me, it seems like they had no problem using me as the "example," mostly to show my fellow classmates what not to do.

Afterwards, we got our chance to try to take down the Bad Guy. We donned some safety glasses and stood about 6 feet away from our target. When the instructor yelled "GUN!" we shot. Considering I'm awful at games that require decent aim, I was worried. And I got more worried when I was the last person to go and the sergeant called the rest of my classmates in to watch me. But I have to admit, I was proud of how I did. Of the 6 rounds I fired, 4 of them hit the Bad Guy in the zone we were aiming for - we were going for the area where the central nervous system is located, think from the forehead to the throat, in the middle of the face. Needless to say, the Bad Guy would have been dead if I was using real bullets (we were using paintball-like bullets, which PDs use during training exercises).

Now, I'm not a big gun person. I mean, remember a few weeks ago? When I held a gun in my hands for the first time? So it's not like I'm going to go around shooting people up now, because honestly, while shooting the gun and hitting the Bad Guy did give me a bit of an adrenaline rush, it's not something that I want to do all the time. But I think something that's good for me to know.

After the guns, we went back into the classroom and it was time for the taser. I'd watched other people get tased before and even though officers told me it didn't hurt once it was all over, it still looked quite painful. But I signed my name by the X and volunteered to get shocked.

Let me tell you, that 1.2 seconds that I was being tased? It felt like forever! It's a hard feeling to describe. My body kind of clenched up and I couldn't move, even if I wanted to. One guy in my class described it as feeling like a million little needles were being shoved repeatedly into your body really quick. But when it was done? I felt fine. There was a little red spot where the probes had been taped to my body and it kind of felt like someone had hit me right on the shoulder blade, but otherwise I felt fine.

And apparently I didn't even get a good tasing. At least that's what the sergeant said. But you know what? It was a decent enough tasing for me to know that I don't want to get tased for real by officers, because 1.2 seconds was long enough for me.

All in all, it was an exciting night. I mean seriously, how many people can answer "I got tased and shot a gun," when they're asked what they did on a Wednesday night in mid-September.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm getting ready to walk the plank

Ahoy mates!

I hope you've mastered your pirate dialect, because today? For the next six and a half hours, is Talk Like a Pirate Day. And if you fail to incorporate some pirate-ese into your speech, they just might make you walk the plank, although that could be fun, as long as there are no sharks swimming around.

Anyway...

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, the rest of my post, in pirate-ese, with the help of an English-to-Pirate translator.

*****

`Tis a really nice night ou'. Sunny, comfy temperatures. Th' kind o' night 'ere I jus' want t' come homeport, lace up me sneakers an' take a run. On accoun' o' do I need t' remind ye that I`ll be runnin' a half-marathon in less than 4 days? I didna think so. But I canna. On accoun' o' I be havin' places t' be. Places 'ere I get t' learn how t' test evidence. An' they's promised us we`d get dirty. Ortin' ta be fun.

(What I said, in English)

It's a really nice night out. Sunny, comfy temperatures. The kind of night where I just want to come home, lace up my sneakers and take a run. Because do I need to remind you that I'll be running a half-marathon in less than 4 days? I didn't think so. But I can't. Because I have places to be. Places where I get to learn how to test evidence. And they've promised us we'd get dirty. Should be fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dear criminals, this is a football.

Obviously my criminals aren't the best bunch of football players.

My fantasy team? They lost. Again.

On the bright side, they didn't get creamed as badly this week. Final score? NACHO SUPREME 113.13, Crime & Grime 94.81.

And honestly, if I would have known Seattle declared D.J. Hackett inactive at the last minute on Sunday, I probably wouldn't have left him in my starting lineup. But they did. And I didn't know. So I got a big fat zero.

Since I'm now one of two players in my league sitting with an 0-2 record, I decided something needed to be done about my team of criminals. First, I ditched my Miami defense. I'm sorry boys, but you lost me points this week. That's not cool. Especially since points are apparently hard to come by for the criminals. They were replaced by our neighbors to the West, the Minnesota Vikings.

And then there's D.J. Hackett. I'm sorry, but you're hobbling around on crutches, with your foot in a boot. And at the earliest, you might make it back to the field by Week 5. I can't wait around that long. So, adios D.J. It's been nice, kind of, knowing you. You've been replaced with Jason Avant, a wide receiver from the Philadelphia Eagles. Hopefully he can catch the ball and give me some points.

And that's about all I have to say right now, just that my criminals? They're not doing so well at the moment. But I feel a win coming...someday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hal wouldn't be very happy with me

I admit it.

I blew off my 10-mile run this weekend.

* pauses *

You can stop throwing things at me now.

I have excuses. But they're not very good ones, so I won't even bother telling them to you and save you some reading time.

Will skipping my 10-miler come back to bite me in the butt on Sunday? Maybe. Will I try to get one more longer run in before Sunday comes around? Hopefully.

All I know for sure is that I have a handful of days left before I tackle this half-marathon thing. And there isn't a whole lot more I can do about my skipped 10-mile run. So I'll deal with it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

And tomorrow's the last long one

It was a low key Friday night for me, which is OK since tomorrow should be much more fun.

I'm going to see the Rugrats in the morning and will spend part of the day playing with Rugrat No. 3. Once he goes down for a nap, it's time for me to lace up my running shoes.

I have 10 miles on the plan for tomorrow. My last long run before the half-marathon next week. I'm a bit nervous. For both tomorrow and next weekend. But it's only supposed to be in the lower 60s tomorrow, should be ideal running weather. I'll be up by my parents, so it'll be a new running route, which I've already mapped and printed out. You know, so I can leave it with Dad in case it gets to be 4 hours later and I still haven't returned. Then he can hop in the truck and come find me.

Then I have a bit of time to shower and relax before my cousin's end of the season race party, which should be a blast. Which is why the 10 miles will get done tomorrow afternoon instead of Sunday. Because I don't think I'll be in the mood to run 10 miles on Sunday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Four random things

A few random things for today.

  • It was time to decide whether or not I wanted to stay in my apartment or look for a new place to live. It was time to renew my lease, and as much as I like my apartment, I had a feeling the rent was going to go up. And I was right. The landlord wanted to tack on an extra $15 a month, not a lot, but enough to make a difference. I asked about one-bedroom apartments in the complex, even looked at one. But the complex manager offered to keep my rent at my current rate if I signed a year lease and said she'd tell the landlord I would have given my move out notice otherwise. Sweet. Because honestly, I really didn't want to deal with finding a new apartment and then moving.
  • My MP3 player ate my music. That's right. I went to get ready for a run, turned the MP3 player on and everything was blank. That made me mad. Anxious to run with my tunes, I loaded enough music onto the MP3 player to get me through my run. Needless to say, I was not happy, since this is the third time this has happened. At this point, I'm considering purchasing a new MP3 player in the somewhat near future, and it just might be an iPod.
  • I managed to sneak in a 4 mile run. And the good news? I didn't get carried off by a swarm of angry mosquitoes this time.
  • I've been up since 4:45 a.m. It's been a long day. And needless to say, I'm tired.

Contrary to popular belief, he didn't suck her blood

The next time you find yourself at a bookstore (or, if you're cheap like me, the library), wandering around the aisles aimlessly looking for something to read, go find "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer. You will not be disappointed.

It's about this high school girl who finds herself falling in love with a vampire.

Yes, I said vampire. I don't normally read a lot of vampire books, but I'd heard so many good things about this book, I just had to give it a try.

I started it Monday and could barely put it down. I found myself picking it up to read a chapter or two during my lunch hour and at night? I had to force myself to stop reading. And today? Even though it was absolutely gorgeous outside after I got done with work at 3 p.m., where'd I find myself? Sitting inside, curled up in my recliner reading, when I could have been running.

The bad news? I'm finished with the book, which was fantastic. The good news? It's the first in a series of three and I already have the second title on hold at the library. Hopefully it comes in soon, because I think I like reading about vampires.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years ago

It's been six years, yet it feels like it was just yesterday.

I had just started my senior year at the University of Wisconsin. Class had been in session maybe a week. September 11, 2001, started like any other Tuesday. I had a 9 a.m. class, "Creative Non-Fiction" with Professor Deborah Blum, so I got out of bed around 7 a.m. and took a shower. Once I finished up in the bathroom, I returned to my room to finish getting ready. I casually turned on the TV to see what the weather was supposed to be like.

But my channel flipping never got me to The Weather Channel. I never found out what it was supposed to be like, because I stopped dead at scenes of chaos from New York. A gaping black, burning hole in one of the World Trade Towers.

Then from the side of the screen, a second plane, came crashing into the second tower.

I closed my eyes, unable to fathom what I was seeing. I stood there, still semi-dripping, in my towel, and somehow I knew what I was watching was big. This wasn't just an accident.

But words from the news anchor caught my attention.

"United airline flights"

My eyes snapped back to the television. They were telling me that two of the jets that had crashed into the tower were United flights. As in, airplanes flown by pilots from the airline my brother worked for.

Without thinking, I grabbed my cellphone and called my mom.

"Where's Cory today?"

"At home. Why?"

Poor mom, she didn't realize our country was under attack. I filed her in on what I knew and feeling a little better knowing my brother was safe in Wisconsin, I told her I loved her and promised to call later.

I throw on some clothes and opened the door, meeting the gazes of one of my roommates, but noticing the door at the opposite end of the hall remained closed. Eventually it opened, and Lisa, my roommate who called New York City her home, emerged. I'll never forget the blank stare in her face as she closed her door and left our apartment for class.

Moments later, the first tower fell.

I had an internal battle in my mind. Do I go to class or skip it? In the end, I knew this was something I had to witness in the company of others and since I was heading to the journalism building, I was pretty sure my professor wasn't going to try to teach us, rather, she was going to let us watch history in the making. The walk down Langdon Street was eerie, the normal hustle and bustle missing. Instead, there were a few random kids, walking alone, usually with a cellphone to their ear.

Once I got to class, my professor herded us into the teaching assistant's lounge, where we watched the news coverage, not as undergrads, professors or graduate students. But as Americans. And when the second tower came crumbling down, I heard a former professor gasp behind me, "That's not good."

I abandoned the rest of my classes for the day, instead choosing to spend the day in front of the TV with my then-boyfriend. As I watched the images being replayed, I still couldn't truly believe it was happening.

A day or two later, I was among the thousands who gathered on the lawns in front of Memorial Library. As the candles flickered and we sang songs of peace and patriotism, I looked around at the faces that surrounded me. We were no longer Wisconsin kids or kids who hailed from the Chicago suburbs or kids from the East Coast. We were Americans, grieving for our country.

And today, on this sixth anniversary of that horrific attack, I still grieve, for the 2,974 victims that were killed by the Sept. 11 attacks: 2,750 connected to the World Trade Center, 40 in a Pennsylvania field and 184 at the Pentagon. Those numbers do not include the 19 hijackers.

I will never forget you.