Sunday, February 22, 2009

What would you do on a furlough?

I pulled weekend reporter duty this weekend, so when the clock struck 11 p.m. last night, I skedaddled away from my desk. The voicemail message had been changed. An out of office message had been set up for my e-mail. My desk was even clean enough so you could see the desk top without having to move piles of paper.

I was ready for my week-long absence from the working world.

It's furlough time boys and girls.

I admit. At first I wasn't too thrilled with this whole idea of a week off of work without pay. But as it got closer. I realized I was looking forward to it. Not sure why, but for some reason I think it's a good time for me to be taking a break. And since it only took me 36 minutes to get a real, live person from the unemployment office on the phone Friday, I feel OK knowing that I'll at least get some cash coming in the week I don't work - which will be a little bit more thanks to a decision our governor made.

So what's a girl to do during her furlough? Plenty. I present the Furlough To Do List:
  • Catch up on back episodes of 24. I need my Jack Bauer fix.
  • I've got a hot lunch date with a bunch of first-graders on Monday. Seems my niece is dying to have me come to have lunch with her at school. Should be fun.
  • A mid-week trip to the western part of the state to visit a friend.
  • A Friday get-together with my college roommate - who's just been laid off from her job - in Milwaukee. The Titanic exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum is on the agenda.
  • The apartment? It needs a good cleaning.
  • I've been slacking at the gym the last two weeks - mostly in preparation for the furlough - so I'll be getting back on track by squeezing in some good runs and bikes and hopefully even hitting the pool once or twice.
  • Relax.
That's the furlough plan. Should be an enjoyable week away from work. And maybe even a few stories to share.

51 days later, I'm done.

I can't remember the last time it took me almost two months to finish a book. OK, maybe I can. But that was back when there was a monster in my head.

But after 51 days, I managed to read my way through 1,024 pages. And the next time someone asks me if I've ever read Gone With the Wind, I can say yes. Because seriously, it's a question I get asked a lot. Not really.

Remember how I was on a mission? To find out if Rhett Butler really uttered the famous line, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Well mission accomplished.

He does.

Kind of.

It took me until page 1,022, but I stumbled upon this passage...

"Scarlett, I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken - and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken pieces as long as I lived. Perhaps, if I were younger - " he sighed. "But I'm too old to believe in such sentimentalities as clean slates and starting all over. I'm too old to shoulder the burden of constant lies that go with living in polite disillusionment. I couldn't live with you and lie to you and I certainly couldn't lie to myself. I can't even lie to you now. I wish I could care what you do or where you go, but I can't."

He drew a short breath and said lightly but softly:

"My dear, I don't give a damn."

Sigh. Good stuff. Would have been cool if Margaret Mitchell had added the word "frankly," but after re-reading it and typing it out just now, I think it works without it too. Maybe even works better.

So it's done. I can now say I've read Gone with the Wind. I'm glad I finally got up the nerve to take it off the shelf, dust it off and tackle it. It was good read. Long - it was 1,024 pages, what did I expect - but good. And I'd recommend it to others who want to invest that much time into a book. Otherwise, just watch the movie - which I've never seen - and get the famous line with all the words.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

There's things living in my chest

I've come down with a cold.

One of those that starts with a tickle in the back of your throat. Then turns into a sore throat in the morning and the feeling that there's a 4-ton brick sitting right on your chest. And let's not even talk about the crap that's building up inside of me.

So I laid low this weekend. Drugged myself up with some of that Mucinex stuff. Slept. Thought about stepping on the treadmill living in my parents' basement but opted not to. In general, tried to feel better.

And I do, a bit. At least better enough that I might head over to the YMCA tomorrow.

But it wasn't all sickness and rest for me this weekend. I went to see Wicked Friday night with my parents - amazing - and yesterday I walked out on the ice to where my brother was ice fishing with The Rugrats. Nice brisk walk on a frozen lake full of fishermen cooped up in ice shanties, hoping to land the big old sturgeon. Good times.

Now it's time to curl up in a recliner and hopefully finish Gone with the Wind, the 1,024 page novel I've been reading for the past month and a half. Because what else am I going to do this afternoon?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

That felt good

We've been experiencing our mid-winter thaw here, although honestly I'd be OK if winter just decided to take a hike at this point.

Yesterday the mercury in the thermometer reached 50 degrees. Yes. 50 degrees. In Wisconsin. In February. And although it would have been a wonderful chance to get outside and get a run in, I opted not to since I was a pint short of blood and feeling a little off.

No fear though. Today was just as nice. Not quite as warm, but no wind so it felt warm. I sat at my desk all day at work, thinking I'd hook up with a local running club this evening for a "fun run" and log my first outdoor run since who knows when.

I was running a little late at work tonight, but I had enough time to make it over to the "fun run." Except when I walked out of my office building? It was dark. And getting chilly. And the wind? It was starting to pick up. So I opted to bail on the "fun run" and just headed for the treadmill at the YMCA instead.

And you know what? Even though I haven't run in almost a week. It still felt good. I putzed around with the speed, making my last two miles faster than the first. And when the timer started to count down, I kicked it up a couple of notches and did an all out sprint for the last two minutes or so.

Ended up doing 3 miles tonight. Felt good. I'm getting to the point where I want to run outside. I just don't know if I can handle the winter-like weather that's apparently going to return this weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time to bring out the bullet points again

I've been missing in action for a bit. Been busy. Not much time to blog much less workout. So I give you the last few days in bullet point style.
  • Friday after work I headed up to my brother's house. I was on overnight babysitting duty with The Rugrats. We played, ate pizza and had fun. They went to bed easily for me and aside from one crying attack when the youngest lost his nuk, we did fine.
  • Saturday was all Rugrats. Breakfast. A shopping trip. Playing in the puddles. A trip to McDonald's for lunch and the opportunity to play in the playland. A cousin's birthday party. Non-stop. When I finally did sit down, I was exhausted. But it was worth it.
  • Even though I was tired, Saturday wasn't done. After a quick 45-minute catnap, it was off to help a friend celebrate her birthday. And I think I became overtired and just started functioning on adrenaline alone because I stayed up (and out) way longer than I thought was possible.
  • And had a ton of fun. 'Nuff said.
  • Barely made it to Mom and Dad's for dinner Sunday. Watched the Badgers. Was out cold at 9:15 a.m.
  • Slept through my alarm Monday morning. Got through the whole shower/get ready for work routine in 30 minutes which was a good thing since I had an appointment waiting for me at my office. Was only five minutes late. Not too shabby.
  • Skipped my Monday night date with Jack Bauer for alternate plans. I think I made the right decision.
  • Wanted to go to the gym today after work but opted to come home instead. I donated blood today and earned my pin for donating a gallon of the red stuff. Pinned it on my work bag. Arm is a little sore but this donation? It went so much smoother than the last time.
  • And tomorrow I hope to make it back to the YMCA. I think it's time for a good run.
And that my friends is the past few days in a nut shell.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I usually ask the questions. Today I answer them.

As a reporter, I ask a lot of questions. Questions that other people answer. So when Tri Dave was offering the chance for me to answer somebody else's questions, I jumped at the chance. Here's what Tri Dave asked me:

1. If you could meet yourself at age 14, what would you say?
You know how you hate it when it comes time to run the mile in gym class? Bet you'll never believe that at some point in your life, about 14 years from now, you're going to like to run. And you've run longer than a mile and didn't die. Heck you ran 13.1 miles and didn't die. You will learn to love running. Trust me.

2. What is your favorite sport to watch?
I like to watch a lot of sports, but I tend to enjoy watching college sports more than professional ones. I think part of it has to do with the fact that the athletes are playing for the love of the game or their school rather than money. That being said, I love watching college basketball and hockey. And I like football - college or NFL - and tennis. And when the Olympics roll around? It doesn't really matter what the sport is. I watch 'em all.

3. What is your favorite month of the year?
Call me crazy, but I like July. I know it can brutally hot and humid here in Wisconsin. But I enjoy July. I tend to take some vacation. There's the Fourth of July. And at the end of the month? The airplanes descend on Oshkosh for the annual AirVenture convention, which is one of my favorite assignments for work.

4. How much of a nutcase is Izzie (Grey's Anatomy)?
I used to religiously watch Grey's Anatomy. But then I missed an episode here and there this fall and they took a break and I haven't caught back up. It all happened right around the time Izzy started hanging out with Denny again. I was confused with what was going on. I was starting to think she was a little wacky in the head then and from what I hear she kind of went off the deep end even more. Makes me think I should catch back up and resume my weekly Grey's Anatomy fix.

5. How can you eat at a place called "The Brooklyn Grill" in Oshkosh, Wisconsin?!?
It's mobster themed. And we had our fair share of bad guys here in Oshkosh. After all, Johnny Depp did decide to spend a week here in town last spring to film "Public Enemies" and that's all about John Dillinger and bank robbers. Plus did you see the dessert they gave me for free on my birthday?

Do you want to play along? Here are the rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

An unexpected change of plans

I know this is going to sound mean, but I'm going to be selfish for a moment. Some people need to start breaking their New Year's resolutions soon. Because I'm not a fan of the YMCA being absolutely packed when I get there after work.

Every single treadmill. Every single elliptical. Even all the stair masters. Full. Taken. In use. So much for the run I wanted to get in. There was one lone bike open and surprisingly it was the bike I like. So I hopped on, selected the random program and set the timer for 40 minutes.

In a way, it was a workout that kind of mimicked the spin class I toyed with going to tonight. Varying resistance. Varying intensity. I could feel the burn in my legs. It felt good. Towards the end of the workout, after logging 15.8 miles, I happened to notice the treadmills had suddenly become a ghost town.

That got me thinking. Specifically about bricks. One of those bike to run workouts that I hadn't done since, oh, June. The timer went off on my bike, I hopped off, wiped it down and snagged one of the empty treadmills.

I was going to jump back into the world of brick workouts. I figured they've got to start sometime - that whole High Cliff sprint triathlon thing is looming - why not start tonight.

Initially I was only going to do a 10-minute run mostly because I was scared that my legs would feel like a ton of lead. And they did. For about 5 minutes. Then it felt easy to run. So I kept going, eventually logging a 2-mile run. Would have liked to maybe try for 3 miles, but decided to head home instead.

All in all, it was crowded tonight. And maybe that was a good thing. Because if it hadn't been crowded and all the treadmills hadn't been taken initially, I probably wouldn't have done the brick. But I'm glad I did. Because I felt good and am kind getting excited to dive back into triathlon training.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How many locker rooms are in this place?

Another floor to replace. Another locker room to experience.

Remember a few weeks ago when I had to venture into the "women's fitness center" because the were replacing the flooring in the locker room I use at the YMCA? And remember it was an odd place. Cramped. Lots of older women who didn't think twice about standing around in the nude? Wait, I didn't tell you about them? I must have tried to block the images from my brain. But they were there. Trust me.

Eventually I got back into the locker room I was comfortable in. New floor smell and all. And I liked it. The row of lockers that I always use. In the corner. I don't have to bend down to shove my gym bag in it because it's up on a riser thing. There's lot of room. Enough for elbows. And multiple people. It was home.

The YMCA folks decided more flooring needed to be replaced last week. This time it wasn't in the locker room itself but in the corridor leading from the locker room to the pool deck. So if you weren't planning on swimming, no problems. And I didn't have any.

Until today.

My bag was packed. Swimming suit. Swim cap. Goggles. Towel. It was all there. And I wanted to swim. I wanted to take those steps towards becoming a fish again.

But if I was going to swim, I had to venture into another foreign locker room. This time? The family locker room. For mothers and daughters. The pre-k child care class. And random pre-teen girls running around with no adult in sight.

Me? I don't fit any of those categories. I have no kids. I'm not a member of the child care class. And I'm long past the pre-teen years. Me? I'm a big kid now. A grown up. I belong in the women's locker room. But today I sucked it up and entered the family locker room.

Same short lockers. Not a lot of space. People comfortable with standing in the nude. Lots of open spaces with not a lot of privacy. I changed quick. Grabbed my towel, swim cap and goggles and heading out to the pool.

And once in the water, I was instantly relaxed. That made the locker room adventure worth it. I just swam. I only had time for 1,100 yards before my 35 minutes were up and I was kicked out of the pool by the youth swim team. I didn't want to leave the water yet though. So I wandered over to the hot tub and relaxed for a bit before heading back into that strange place also known as the family locker room.

An oversight from my earlier trip? Group showers. Ummm. I avoided those in high school. I wasn't about to do it now. So I threw on my sweats, towel dried my hair, packed up my things and I was out of there. Hopefully I won't have to return there until I actually need a family locker room.

Tomorrow it's back to my normal haunt. And someday they'll run out of floors to replace. At least I hope they will. Or at least move on to give the guys some of this locker room fun.