Monthly Archives: January 2012

Beware of the monster

I think I might need to have some sense slapped into me.

Any takers?  No?  Well, that’s a nice surprise.

(though, perhaps that’s another reason why I prefer to remain anonymous to my friends and family… they would be all too happy to oblige).

And now I need to hurry and write this before my mind fogs over again.  Wanna know what crazy ass decision I made?  I’m giving up caffeine.  Yup.  Not quite cold turkey immediately, but from about 500mg a day, down to just 35mg a day (and that’s only until I’ve enjoyed every last one of the Diet Pepsi’s still in my refrigerator — then I’m done completely).

What makes this even more fun?  I’m totally PMSing.  And I’m one of those women who give PMS a bad name because I’m so difficult to deal with.  I’m all mood swing-y and irritable and on the verge of crying at all times.  Oh, and completely irrational!  Sometimes it’s like I’m having an out-of-body experience and hovering over my body, hearing the words that are coming out of my mouth and thinking, “Oh, lordy, she’s really lost it this time, hasn’t she…”.

What possessed me to take on giving up caffeine during what is already an incredibly challenging week (and when I say “challenging”, I mean everyone around me wants to kill me, or least duct tape my mouth shut)?  Seems to me this might not be the best decision I’ve ever made, for me or the people around me. But I’ve been having trouble sleeping — both falling asleep and staying asleep. My brain just doesn’t want to stop with thoughts that are less than helpful (let’s just say that my brain produces some very colorful conversations) and I have to try giving up caffeine to see if that allows me to quiet the voices.

But here’s what I figured:  I’m a cranky, irrational, teary-eyed bitch during PMS.  No one should even NOTICE that I’m going through caffeine withdrawal at the same time, right?  Or even if they did, would be too scared to ask anyway.  I’m right, right?  And from my point of view, I get terrible hormonal headaches/migraines during PMS, so I figured adding a caffeine withdrawal headache to the mix would make it more miserable, but at least it would be compressed into just one week instead of spread out over two.

Makes perfect sense, right?  Or at least, it makes the kind of sense that a woman in the midst of raging PMS makes, I suppose.

I’m now on Day 4 of this little adventure, and am suffering greatly.  Oh, woe is me!  Seriously, though, it’s a non-stop headache, nausea that comes and goes, and it feels like I’m moving through oatmeal, both physically and mentally. Word on the street is that I look funny when I’m thinking or answering a question, as if I can’t quite put a coherent thought together.  And – the un-funny part – the word on the street is totally right.  My theory that no one would notice?  Um, yea.  Not so much.  Every person I’ve come in contact with has asked me if I’m okay.  And then it’s all I can do to answer without scratching their eyeballs out for being so insensitive (see how the irrationality pops up like that?).

Now, just tonight, I feel like the headache might be easing just a tiny little bit. But, I’ll take even just a little bit of easing every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Certainly beats what happened to me this morning:  as the owner of my company was trying to have a conversation with me, I had to interrupt him, excuse myself and the SPRINT to the bathroom to throw up.  At least I made it to the stall in time.  I sure do know how to make an impression, don’t I!

I’m proud of myself:  I haven’t strayed from the plan yet.  I get my one Diet Pepsi per morning (like I said, until I’ve emptied the fridge) and that’s it.  I was tempted today to take a little extra to help, but figured it might help me today, but would just prolong this gawd awful process.  And every single person around me certainly doesn’t want that!

With any luck, there won’t be too much collateral damage by the time I’m done with this whole process, because between the PMS and the lack of caffeine, let’s just say that I’m an enemy-making machine!


On Anonymity

I was reading a post by one of my favorite people — Sugar on The Rumpus —  where she talks about how she’s going to reveal her identity on Valentine’s Day.  She’s been writing her advice column (which is nothing short of soul-wrenching, insightful and, like, totally f’in awesome) under the pseudonym Sugar for a long time and come this February, she’s having her own coming out party and revealing her identity to all.

And this got me to thinking:  I’ve been trying to remain at least a little bit anonymous here.  Sure, there are enough details here that someone close to me would probably recognize my life, but I have barely let on to any of my friends or family that I’ve writing a blog, much less tell them where to find it.

In some respects, this sucks because it’s much easier to build a readership/community when you have a solid group of people that you know you can guilt into reading the blog on a regular basis.  But, this is a choice I made because I want to be able to write from my heart and not have to worry about how someone else might interpret it.

There are things that I write about here that I really haven’t divulged to anyone in my life — if I were in their shoes, I’m sure my thoughts would be something like, “Hmmm… I thought we were good enough friends that she could have talked to me about this…”.  And some of this is my fault:  despite being able to write about topics that leave me feeling very vulnerable, talking about them in real life isn’t something in my skill set.  I’ve never been all that good at the face-to-face sharing. Freaks me a out a little, to be honest.

The other facet to this — this space gives me the opportunity to vent without repercussion.  For example, I talk about my roommate quite a bit, and mostly just the situations where I’m frustrated with her.  In real life, 99% of the time we get along really well.  And when we don’t?  This forum gives me a way to release the frustration, think things out and say things that might not be an effective problem resolution technique in person.  You know, like screaming, “You are such a BITCH!!!” into my pillow and then turning around to calmly discuss the situation.

And so this site remains unvisited by the people who are closest to me.  I’ve given thought to changing my stance on this, but I’m not sure I’m ready.  There’s still a part of me that would edit and censor, knowing that the audience held people who get the joy of dealing with me in real life.  Hiding this space seems the easiest way to be 100% Laura, warts and all.

It’s the big One-Oh-Oh!

This is my 100th post!

I was in the middle of writing another post, when it occurred to me that this 100th one is a milestone of sorts, and that I ought to do something to celebrate.

So – break out the confetti! Woot!  Yippee!!

Okay.  Now that we’ve got the hootin’ and hollerin’ out of our system.

A touch of the serious:  I started this blog awhile ago (100 posts ago!), mostly as a selfish way to put my voice out there, a forum for my whines and rants and opinions, from important and meaningful, to, well, not so much.  It was (and still is!) a cheap form of therapy for me:  my own safe place and a way for me to work through what was (and, again, still is!) a confusing part of my life.  And it didn’t really matter if anyone was reading or not, because that wasn’t the point.

But, as I continue to write (you can see this coming from a mile away, can’t you?), I now hope that in some small way that maybe I can help someone else out there.  That you’ll read my ramblings and perhaps be comforted to know that you aren’t alone.  I know I’m not the wisest or the wittiest writer around, but with any luck, there are a few souls out there with whom my words resonate.

I’ve made it to 100.  With – hopefully – hundreds more to come.

(Lord help the virtual world!)

Another Saturday night

Saturday night and here I sit:  in my sweats, in front of the TV, snuggled up with Belle.

I had plans — or at least an offer for plans.  And plans that I was actually up for …  the girl that I had gone on a date with that had a huge buddy potential told me about a city bar having a ladies dance night that she was going to, and she wanted me to join her out.

And that sounded like fun!  I’ve been looking for opportunities to hit the city and get out and start meeting folks, and this would be perfect.

The problem?  She wanted to meet up at 10pm.  As in, an hour past my bedtime.

I always have the best of intentions with these late night kind of deals (yes, I TOTALLY consider 10pm to be “late night”).  I’m so optimistic;  YES I’ll be UP and READY to go!  I’m gonna DO IT this time!  And then 7pm rolls around and because I don’t have to leave for another 2+ hours, I’m lounging around in my sweats.  At 8pm I’m looking at the clock, thinking, “Yea, I’ve got to start getting ready to go…” but in no way interested in getting off the couch.  By 8:30pm I’m admonishing myself, very sternly:  “Get going! You need to move!”   By 9pm I’m tired, warm, comfortable in my chair and have mostly given in to the reality that it’s not natural for me to live a jet set party animal kind of life.

Most nights, my failure to get out of the house would initiate a lot of negative self-talk:  “You’re such a loser.  You can’t stay up late enough to go out with everyone else in the whole world.  Why would anyone want to be friends with your anyway?”

But this particular Saturday night?  Something in my mindset shifted.  I’m completely at peace with my decision not to go out.  Just the fact that I not only had someone to meet up with, but also would have retained my ability to leave whenever I wanted because I would have driven myself really did make it the perfect situation.  Tonight I felt like this social event was something I could have handled.  I simply chose not to.

Instead, I know I can get to bed at a decent hour.  Wake up early.  Do the CrossFit Filthy Fifty workout.  Go see my roommate play basketball.  Head to a bookstore in the city to pick up the book for the reading group in February.  All things that would be difficult to accomplish if I didn’t get enough sleep.

Plus, it’ll be easier to do a late night social event once I’ve got a place in the city.  Going out will mean stepping out the front door, not driving almost an hour to get somewhere.  And when it’s warm (or at least warmer!) I don’t have to worry about snow, bad weather, wearing a jacket and whether or not my cute boots will hold up to the salt and slush on the sidewalks.

So tonight it’s just me and Belle.  And I’m okay with that.  Hope you’re enjoying your Saturday night, too!


That’s just about as likely as me having a date tonight.

Nah.  That could NEVER happen, right?  I mean, this is CHICAGO.  It doesn’t SNOW in JANUARY in CHICAGO.  And LAURA doesn’t go on DATES.  Are you with me?

Oh, wait… I *do* have a date tonight.  My bad.

So – yes – the only thing the news stations have been capable of talking about all week is SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! as though this weren’t a normal part of winter here in the good ol’ Midwest.  I’ve lived here all my life and still don’t understand the intensity of the freaked-out-ness when the first real snow falls.  And it was just made worse this year by week after week of April-ish weather:  it’s almost as though we came to feel entitled to 50 degrees in January!

And now I’m going to stop talking about the weather, since otherwise that just makes me one of “them”.

I do have another online-born first date set up for tonight.  I’m not altogether optimistic about this one, but at some point I decided I would never turn down an offer (as long as the woman seemed normal-ish and not stalker-like).  She emailed me about a week ago with nothing but “Hi” in the message.  I ignored it.  Next she sent another:  “Hello”.  Again – me ignoring (even though she was starting to get really wordy).  But third time’s the charm:  “I’d love to get together with you for coffee sometime soon.”  And, there it is:  a legitimate offer and  – again – I don’t feel like I should turn anyone down.

So, I’ll go out for a quick dinner.  I scheduled it before a 7pm appointment (and let the woman know about this) so that I won’t be trapped there for more than an hour.  Smart, eh?

Of course, with the weather the way it is (damn! I wasn’t going to talk about that!), I’m not sure that it’s the best idea.  I mean, I’m not going anywhere when driving time is likely to be doubled or tripled.  She didn’t give me her phone number in return, though, so I’ve got no real way of getting in touch.  I left a message online for her, telling her of my ambivalent status… hopefully she’ll see it.  Otherwise, is it rude of me to not show up with only emailing her my regrets?

We’ll see how this goes.  Perhaps the roads won’t be bad at all! (I’m actually hoping not – I’m going to a snow-shoeing class … something I’ve been wanting to learn how to do!… and yes, I get the irony that I might not make a snow-shoeing class because of … the snow).  And while I don’t think we’re a Love Connection (who remembers that show??), you never know.  Stranger things have happened, I suppose.

Stay tuned…

UPDATE:  The weather foiled my plans.  Dang.  When my normally 30-minute ride home took me over an hour (and the radio kept telling me “…and it’s not bad yet!”), I decided that I didn’t feel like braving the roads to head out for the date or the snow-shoeing class.  I’m more disappointed about one over the other (you make the guess as to which!)…

Two Dog Night

Actually – no longer a two dog night.  Thankfully!

Last Sunday, I picked up Ginger the Wonder Dog at my friend’s house and brought her home with me to spend the week.  Ginger really has earned her moniker: she’s one of the sweetest and most well-behaved dogs ever.

Until she gets around Belle, as it turns out.

A little history:  I’ve been dog-sitting Ginger for a  good part of her life.  Coming from a house full of rambunctious boys, it always seemed like she enjoyed relaxing once she got to the peace and quiet of my house.  Let me put it this way: where I lived previously, I was not even a quarter mile from Ginger.  Once when she escaped her yard, know where they found her?  My front porch.

So, yea – me and Ginger, we have a history.

The first time that Ginger and Belle got together, it was the funniest thing — Ginger immediately sprinted up to me and tried to “protect” me from the evil strange dog (Belle).  And then Belle absolutely didn’t like how protective Ginger was being of HER human and fought back.  And that laid the groundwork for all of their future fights interactions.

So, I bring Ginger home with me.  She sprints through the garage and absolutely bursts into the house and immediately Belle starts protecting her territory.  It’s funny, because the teeth were bared and they both were using their Big Girl Barks, but they barely even touched each other.  As the confrontation evolved, you could see that Belle was definitely the instigator — she would dart in, and with her nose, poke Ginger in the side or flank or butt.  Ginger would then whirl around, bark and growl, but Belle — like a light-footed prize fighter — had already moved to another position.

Poke poke poke.  GROWL!  Poke poke.  BARK BARK BARK.  Poke poke poke poke poke poke!! SNARL GROWL BARK BARK GROWL SNARL!!

It's like impressionist art, no?

Dog blurs

And this became their routine, though by two days into it, they had figured out who was in charge and it became more playful, less serious, though as drama-filled as it was from the beginning.

The fun stuff really began at bedtime, though.  The first night as I retired to my room, Belle followed as always, jumping up on the bed to snuggle in (don’t be a hater! Yes, I let the dog sleep on my bed… it’s not like there’s anyone else to snuggle with at the moment…).  And then?  Ginger followed.  And the fighting continued.  Except 3 feet in the air on top of my bed.  Nice.

They settled momentarily — catching their breath — and before they had a chance to start Round 2, I decided that perhaps *I* should be the alpha dog:  so I pulled Ginger off the bed and tried to get her to lay down on the dog bed on the floor.  She wasn’t having anything to do with my plans (surprise!) and stalked out of the bedroom.

Since she’s not much of a Chew My Stuff risk, I just let her be, figuring she’d settle down on her own.  And once the rest of the house was quiet, so was she.

Here’s a funny:  I get up the next morning and as soon as I open up my bedroom door (had to close it to keep Belle from poke poke poking at her during the night) I hear Ginger move.  She had made herself comfortable on the couch (not allowed! yes on the bed, no on the couch! I’m not a complete pushover!) but was smart enough to slink to the floor when she heard me coming.  Tricky, tricky, Ginger the Wonder Dog.

Anyway, the next few days went by in a blur of dog-walking and dog-feeding and dog-petting and dog-picking-up-after.  I’ve been giving thought to going to the animal shelter and picking up another sweet pitty to be friends with Belle.  And now?  Lesson learned.  Two dogs aren’t twice the work — they are at least FOUR times the work.  Worth it?  Perhaps.  But not now.

By the end, though, they were so cute together.  They’d play and then lay down next to each other to catch their breath.  And at night?  Belle would curl up on the bed, Ginger on the dog bed and both would just sleep.  Just like parents who look in on their sleeping children, seeing the two of them like that made me want to tell my friend that Ginger had run away and that I didn’t have her anymore and then keep Ginger all for myself.  Yes, I have a bit of the evil in me.  Hee.

I was sad when Ginger went home and I returned to my One Dog Nights… the house seemed terribly quiet.  Though while I was a little melancholy, Belle walked right in and stood just looking at me, like, “Okay.  We FINALLY got that wacko dog out of here and things can go back to normal.  Now, PET ME!!”.

Check yes or no

Remember all those online dates I was going on?  The ones that typically weren’t going all that swimmingly?

Turns out that maybe my luck is changing.

The last one — right before Christmas — I walked away from thinking, “Not really my type, but she was nice to talk to. I could do this again.”.  But I didn’t get a reply to my “Had a good time!” text, and I wrote her off just like all the others.

(I felt like sending her a note:  “Do you want to be my friend?  Check yes or no…” yes, I’m too cool…)

But – it turns out she was just kind of caught up with the holidays (she has two small kids) and forgot to get back to me.  And after a series of texts and emails, I think I might have found a city buddy!  She lives right in the area where I’m planning on getting an apartment and we have a lot in common, from both being runners/bikers to having a lifestyle that doesn’t typically include a lot of hitting the clubs, drinking to oblivion and staying out until 5am (though every once in awhile a girl’s gotta figuratively let her hair down, right?) (figuratively since my hair is cut pretty short… not much “letting down” to it).

And I’m excited!  I don’t anticipate this thing developing into anything romantic, but we’re already starting to plan activities together:  going to a Blackhawks game, joining a book club (at a feminist book store in her neighborhood) and things like that.  Just what I’ve been looking for:  not only someone to do things with, but someone who lives where I want to be, is gay and can potentially help me to develop a larger LGBT circle of friends (you know, larger than 1).

I like that this is how my year is starting out — a little anticipation goes a long way.  And she’s got to have friends, right? She’s not glomming onto me just because she’s got no one else, right?? So – theoretically – one of her friends could be my soulmate.  Or at least someone to hook up with?  (what can I say – it’s been way too long a time for me…)

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start reading so I’ve got my homework done for all the hot women that will be at the book club!

My own biggest loser. Kinda.

So, my 3rd BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) from the other day was to drop 4% body fat and 10-15 pounds.  I’ve been yo-yo-ing these 10 pounds for a few years now, so it’s not like I don’t know how to take it off, but this time around it just seems harder.  Whether age is starting to play a bigger role or perhaps I’m just not being as strong (perhaps cookies now have some sort of addictive substance in them??), it occurred to me today that I need a better  incentive.

Not that looking hot in my bikini isn’t incentive, but I want to up the stakes a bit and this is what I’ve come up with:

Until I lose 6 pounds (to get down to a nice, round number), I am not allowed to buy anything non-essential.  Nada.  Nothing.  The idea came to me when I came across an article outline singing the praises of some sweet-smelling bath products and I wanted them.  Was about to click through to purchase and stopped.  Thought, I don’t really need that.  And the rest followed:  why not allow myself to buy them once I’ve reached a midpoint goal?

(of course, this was also triggered by a year-end review of finances … and let’s just say that 2011 was obviously the Year of the Impulse Buy…)

Once I hit the 11 pound loss mark (another round number, of course) and stay under that number for at least 2 weeks, I’m splurging on a big running clothes/shoes shopping spree!  Maybe I’ll even buy some fun things for the workout room in the basement.

So, that’s what I’m going to do.  And the fun side effect?  I should save some money towards that last BHAG of mine — the apartment in the city.  Maybe I’ll even be able to afford to buy a futon to sleep on once I get there!

The important part?  The incentive isn’t food.  And once I hit the goal? There’s incentive to stay there.

(tangent:  I’m watching the actual Biggest Loser show and a father says of his son when his son was confronted with running a 40-yard dash: “he has a hard time running long distances like that” … 40 yards, people.  40 yards. Really – “long” distance?)

Happy New You Year!

That big WHOOSH of air you heard?  That was me breathing a huge sigh of relief that the holidays are officially over.  FINALLY.

And, like I mentioned, I always welcome the new year for another reason:  I’m a believer in the fresh start, the new resolutions, the renewed focus on improving myself.

So, without further ado, my …

2012 Resolutions
2012 is going to be the year of the BHAGs … BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS (I stole this from someone online… don’t go thinking I’m THAT creative…).

I’m ready to step out of my shell, push my limits, leave my comfort zone.

It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before… to test your limits… to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. 
— Anais Nin

  • My first Big Hairy Audacious Goal:  Continue to simplify and improve my life.This is intentionally vague and covers a lot of different ground.  The main thrust of this, though, is that I’m happier when I’m true to myself, when I voice my opinions and feelings, when I don’t go through pains to try and be what people expect instead of just being me.  Stop collecting emotional baggage.  Quiet the voices in my head that sabotage my progress.  Do all I can to eliminate blame and take responsibility for my own happiness. Remember that there’s no time like the present to start something new — situations are never exactly right for anything, I just need to plunge in.  Keep in mind that the reality of hard things isn’t nearly as bad as my head likes to make them out to be.
  • BHAG #2: Take first in my age group at my annual duathlon.  I’ve looked at the results, and I think with a lot of work and focus, I can do this.  My run has to become much faster (in the realm of being able to hold a 7:10m/m for 2 miles) and my bike has to be just a touch better.  It’s a stretch goal, but I think I can do it as long as it’s what I’m training for.  I’ve always been better at the shorter distances — I imagine if I actually trained for them, I could kick some butt.
  • BHAG #3:  Down 4% body fat by February and drop 10-15 pounds by the end of the year.  I was body fat tested in October and have a return appointment in February — I need to be down 4% to win free body fat testing sessions (I know – only an endurance athlete would want this kind of prize, no?). To this end, I will meticulously track calories for the month of January; I do much better losing weight when I’m quantifying calories.  Along with this, I’m going to shoot for 6-7 hours of cardio per week — between biking and running, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
  • BHAG #4:  5k PR (Personal Record).  With training for the duathlon, I’m going to be doing a lot of interval training, mostly shooting at getting faster at shorter distances. This should translate over to a 5k PR, so as long as the duathlon goes as I want it to, this should fall right into place.  My current PR is 23:23 (which is right around a 7:30m/m pace) and I’d love to shave a minute off of that.
  • My last Big Hairy Audacious Goal:  I’m going to rent an apartment in the city.  Yes, you heard me right.  I’ve got a house in the southwestern ‘burbs, the townhouse where I live in the south ‘burbs and I’m planning on taking on monthly rent for an apartment in the city.   I need to meet more people.  Not even talking about necessarily meeting a significant other … just expand my social circle.  And not just people:  gay people.  No slight to all of my really awesome straight friends, but if I intend to find a girl to be with, I probably need to start dipping into the LGBT community a little more.  Frankly, while moving to this townhouse served a purpose (got me close to my family, closer to work, and a roommate), I need to to experience living in a community where going about my daily life — running, biking, going to a bookstore, sitting in a Starbucks working — gives me a chance of meeting someone, friend or otherwise.  I’m going to wait until the Feb/Mar timeframe because I intend on only signing a 6-month lease (might as well time it so the bulk of the lease has decent weather), but I’m determined to go forward with this as long as my finances don’t change.  The practical, money-saving part of me is screaming in terror at spending this much money — no, throwing this kind of money away — but in the end, it’s just money. This could be a potentially life-changing experience and if it doesn’t end up that way, I’ve lost nothing but money in my bank account. Which really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

I have other things I’m going to work on:  writing more, reading more, taking up new activities, being smart with my money, eating clean.  But the 5 listed above are the ones that deserve my attention and focus — these are the “bang for the buck” goals.

And while all 5 goals are distinct, in one way or another, they all go towards the one thing that I know make me happy:  creating a better me (physically and emotionally). I’ve known for awhile that my life needs to head in a different direction, and I think that by concentrating on these specific goals, I’ll be making that happen.

The physical goals will be tough and require a lot of work, but they don’t scare me — I’m looking forward to seeing how hard I can push myself (after a year of long-distance training, this should be a fun switch).

The emotional/life goals will be tough in a very different way, but like the quote says, I feel like the risk to remain tight inside is now more painful than the risk to blossom. I’ve never been one to actively seek out social situations, but that’s what I’ll need to do: hit the club scene, join LGBT groups, hang out where the gays are.  Just the thought of it all makes me a little anxious, but it’s going to be worth it.

This is going to be a break-out year, I can just feel it.  Frankly, it *has* to be.  And it’s all within my power to make it so.  Life is all what you make of it.