March 31, 2007

Rose colored glasses

Friday, I was recognized for doing something at work. A partner thanked me multiple times. He laughed at how funny the issue was and was impressed that I had found it. He must have thanked me 7 times. It's amazing how good that shit can make you feel.

Funny thing is, it's the gift that keeps on giving. I didn't know I was going anything particularly great. I was doing what I normally do. So all that praise goes gently, like a soothing balm, over the general anxiety I feel on a day-to-day basis about my job performance (since, you know, I'm flying by the seat of my pants most of the time).


I fell asleep last night at 10 PM. I slept 'til 7:40 AM, when I awoke, peacefully before my alarm.

I put on my running gear and met up with B for an ambitious 11 mile run in Portola Valley. I hadn't done anything longer than 8 miles since the Marathon. Plus, it was a loop with some light rolling hills. But after last week's hilly absurdity, 11 miles actually felt reasonable. Sure, I'm tired, a little sore, and well aware of how much I struggled through a distance that just 2 months ago was a medium-length resting weekend run. But, I did it at a semi-decent pace. Which means I'm in good enough shape for the half marathon that I already paid to do. Thank goodness.

Plus, I spent the two hour run chatting with B and complaining and venting and gasping for breath such that when it was all done I was spent. Relaxed in that completely drained way that makes all of life's annoyances seem unimportant. I mean, who has the energy for those things?

And tonight, just when I recover my energy, I'm off to an event where I'm planning to meet up with some college teammates I haven't seen in 10 years. Should be a blast.

Why wouldn't my glasses be rose-colored?

March 29, 2007

What's so funny?

Last night, over cuban food, I was explaining to a friend how surprised I was that the pressures involved in being a lawyer were getting to me regularly.

At one point, I gesticulated forcefully and said,

I mean, I like to think of my self as pretty fucking balanced.

Needless to say, this caused much laughter. I can't even talk about balance without dropping f-bombs. But I'm totally serene. No really.

March 25, 2007

Unexpected Tears

Since we were in Mexico for our actual anniversary (and the hotel left us a "Happy Anniversary" message in both flower petals at 5 PM and on cheesecake for our midnight return from dinner), we put off the consumption of our frozen top layer of wedding cake.

Friday, I transferred the top cake to the fridge. Tonight seemed like a good night to enjoy it.

I opened the box and saw that the roses from our wedding had been frozen as well. They looked so fresh and alive.

I immediately broke into tears.

My dad saw those flowers. They were alive at our wedding. He was alive at our wedding. And it hurt so much to see the vivid symbol of preservation of life for remembrance of such a special day. It hurt in a good way, mind you, but it still pierced so deeply. I sobbed in E's arms. Poor guy. One minute I'm bubbling with enthusiasm about how cute gran was in insisting that she buy the wedding cake cutter and server and get them engraved with our names and the date. And in literally the next moment, the very next moment, I'm sobbing hysterically. He held me. I guess that's what marriage is all about.

When I recovered, we toasted our one year and then some together and then we toasted Daddy (and how much he approved of and loved E and vice-versa).

Turns out, our cake preserved itself quite well. One small piece each and we were beyond satiated. The rest is going in the trash, for caloric equilibrium. But seriously, if you are in the bay area and looking for a fabulous cake that will look amazing on the day of (he matched the frosting to color samples of my bridesmaids' gowns) as well as one year later, flowers and all, look no further than Cero. He rocks. He actually volunteered to bake us a fresh cake for our anniversary and would probably be appalled that we ate the frozen one, but we're wacky like that. We couldn't trouble him to make an entire cake from the photos when we knew we'd only have one small piece each.

So yeah. Happy anniversary us. It's been a rough but wonderful year for us, and I'm so thankful to have been blessed with the wonderful husband and marriage that I have. Frozen cake from a master. Tears. It was a big emotional event. As well it should have been.

Ouch. Quads. Ouch. Calfs. Ouch. Heels. Ouch. Lower back.

Ever since the marathon, my running has been somewhat, well, uninspired. After the week of yoga, I've hovered around 13-20 miles per week as slow as I felt like with one or two yoga sessions to keep me limber. I've even let my shoes get up to 400 miles without replacement, whereas I'm ordinarily so thankful for my lack of foot and calf issues that I order new plain, basic, cheap running shoes as soon as I cross 300 miles.

Despite my more recent lack of commitment to running, I'm signed up to do the Santa Cruz Half Marathon, so at some point, I was gonna have to get back into the swing of things so it wouldn't hurt to finish.

This week seemed like a good week to try that. Monday, I hit the track and did some speed training for the first time in at least 6 months. It felt great. I did a medium length run and a shorter run during the week and made plans to do a medium-long run in the hills with B on the weekend.

So, yesterday, under the clear blue morning sky of the peninsula (SF, which we later went to, had rain and fog. Just another reason I'm so glad we don't live there.) B and I hit Rancho San Antonio for what we thought would be a nice, but challenging, mid-length run in the hills.

It was breathtakingly beautiful. Trees, forest, hills, valleys, and no development to be seen other than power lines. But, to earn those views, we had to do almost a mile of elevation change in less than 8 miles of distance. There was much walking on the uphills. I returned home more physically exhausted than I'd been since the marathon.

Then, last night, in the city, I walked about 2 miles between friends' places, restaurants and the party we were there to attend. Plus, I stood around for hours while at the party. In there interests of fashion, I did all of these things in high heeled boots.

Needless to say, I begged for a piggy-back ride back to where we were sleeping (3/4 of a mile in San Francisco hills) and sounded so pathetic that E actually obliged me for part of the distance.

I slept like a rock, which was nice. But damn, everything hurts today. I'm bailing out of mini-golf this afternoon because I'm just that sore.

Clearly, I will need to focus a little more on my running (read: focus at all) if I plan to finish my next race at a decent pace and without any pain.

March 22, 2007

It's different now

For the moment, anyways, the calm that came back with me from Mexico seems to have stuck.

The same mistakes that used to fill me with dread now only half fill me with fear. I can make double the mistakes and still function!


Seriously, though. I was much too wound up there for my first half a year on the job. I'm pleased to find that I returned with a bit of perspective and seem a bit better equipped to handle the day-to-day pressures of my job. Which means I can focus a bit better and get things done in a more efficient manner.

Who knew? Vacation made me a better lawyer.

Perhaps I should try to talk my firm into being more like Netflix.

Or, I could just enjoy the evolution of BT into a fully functional lawyer. Yeah. I think I'll do that one.

March 20, 2007

The Best Book on Mexico

Last night, 5 days after our return, I finally finished The People's Guide to Mexico.

First, let's just get it out there that I'm not the biggest fan of the ultra hippy pro-marxist types. Berkeley will do that to you. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was at the title of this book. But the reviews were so enthusiastic, and their website was full of great advice, so I bought it.

What a great purchase!

The authors began their treks in Mexico in the late 60s, and sold the first copies of the book in front of Cody's in 1972. Now in its 13th edition, this book is a veritable gold mine of Mexican folklore, knowledge, observations, information, and, of course, hilarious travel stories! Not the least bit pedagogical, it merely provides observations, advice, and opinions for the traveler who is interested in understanding more about their experience.

Many of the chapters are the types of things you wish you'd see in other guidebooks -- cultural explanations, market days, food definitions. And, of course, one of my favorite chapters contains the authors' favorite Mexican recipes. Tonight, we made their sopa de ajo recipe. Simple. Light. Delicious. A perfect base for experimentation. Next time I'm going to use more herbs & chili oil.

But for now, I'll content myself with the knowledge of just how much I'm gonna stink tomorrow!

March 17, 2007

Book Reviews

The Rain of Gold
by Victor Villaseñor

I loved this book. The author of this book, a Mexican-American, interviewed his extended family and wrote the amazing story of their history from the interviews. He wrote in the style used by many Latin American writers: beautiful mysticism blended with fact, characters too numerous to keep track of, and time which flows circularly, or however it prefers.

Two families live, celebrate, and survive, and eventually join to become one through the two main characters, his parents. One family lives a peaceful existence high in the hills of Jalisco, while the other lives in a town in Chihuahua with an American-owned gold mine. But, when the revolution becomes too bloody, the story leaves Mexico as the families migrate, and then it follows their various existences in the United States.

Love. Hunger. War. Birth. Death. Some people find themselves in jail, mainly due to crimes committed in the face of these evils, or in the case of one main character because a rich man paid him to confess to the rich son's crime, and in doing so, he can feed his family. There are emotional fights. People are lost, begin new lives and then found by their long lost families. It is a painful but beautiful story of faith and strength and survival.

And, of course, it is a great story of love. Familial love and its many incarnations. Romantic love in all of its forms. The strength and dignity of the two main characters makes you yearn for them to grow into and find each other long before they ever meet. The story of Juan's wooing of Lupe is set during prohibition, while Juan is a bootlegger and Lupe's family is devout. Thus, like everything in this book, even the beauty of their love, which is pure in many ways, is built upon some sort of evil or deception, which later will bare fruit and cause problems (a repeating theme).

Yes, this book is an amazing historical work that enthralled and educated me on the past of my country and its relationship with Mexico and her immigrants. But, it is also an excellent tale in the fable sense: it is simply a great story that entertains while teaching lessons about the truth of the complicated nature of life.

March 14, 2007


6 days. 5 nights.

Runs on the beach. Walks through town. Sunsets. 2 amazing yoga classes in a top floor, open-air, palapa-covered, traffic-noise-filled studio (so very Mexican, no?). Sleep! So much sleep.

I am rested, tan, and not burnt. I am slightly fat and very happy. I ate more chips and more corn tortillas than I can count. I believe we ordered at least 5 preparations of guacamole. Plus there were copious preparations of pulpo and other seafood, most of which was the heavily garlic'd type. Amazing food from $2.50 authentic meals to $60 meals that easily rival $150 meals at home (and we don't have the views!).

And let us not forget that my phone gets no emails in Zihua. The work email technology, well, it does not work so well there.

But margaritas? And laying by the pool? And reading? And sleeping on the balcony? All of these, why, yes! Of course! They work quite well.

Finally, I'd like to note that I needed this vacation more than I realized. I assume that my stress levels were approximately at or below "normal for a first-year associate" upon departure. The severe sense of decompression actually brought me to tears in the airport as I was sending my last follow-up emails about work and simultaneously about to board a plane to escape it all. I, like just about any reasonable human struggling to find myself and prove myself in a new career, *really* needed a vacation.

So, my advice to any of you lawyers would be: if you are grumpy, schedule a 6 day vacation over a weekend (or better yet, a long weekend). You'll miss 4 actual days of work but the 6 day hiatus from all work will feel like you've won the lottery. You can actually walk away from it all and it will be fine. There are so many things for which you should be grateful that you have forgotten to appreciate.

There are so many things you want that you can actually just go have for 6 days and then the want turns out, you really can only sleep, eat, drink, relax, and work out for so many days before it starts to lose the glamour. Work sounds so fun now. So, of course, does adventure travel, and finally learning Spanish, and all sorts of other adventures. But that's not the point.

The point is, I was tired. So I rested. And by the end of 6 days I was tired of resting. A little perspective goes a long way.

March 7, 2007

Like a Child

Yesterday, I left work a bit earlier than usual. It was before 5 PM, but I had an obligation to attend.

The assistant who sits closest to me laughed and said, "Sometimes partner X comes by looking for you after you are gone. Would you like me to tell him where you are?" I told her where I was going, then I continued on my way to tell my assistant where I was going (which I had been going to do when she interrupted me).

I then spent 20 minutes fuming on my drive. No matter how innocently she meant her remark, I couldn't help but take it as criticism. I couldn't help but internalize it and ask myself if it was okay that I was leaving to take part in this organization (that will, mind you, be good for my career in the long run). I couldn't help but ask myself when I usually leave the office and if people are keeping tabs on my facetime.

I don't work in an environment where people keep tabs on facetime. It is acknowledged that people work at home and shift their work schedules to what fits their lifestyle.

But still, for one moment there, I felt like a child being reprimanded. I'm pretty sure it's internal and not the way she said it. I'm fairly certain it's related to the feeling that I'm failing all the time.

I talked myself down from the wall and by the time I arrived at my engagement I was fine. But geez...I can only imagine how strong my self-censure would be if I was at a place that actually was ready to reprimand my efforts to have a balanced life.

March 5, 2007

A momentary victory

Today, my friends, I accomplished something I felt like I'd never do. I actually wrote, addressed, and stamped the last 5 outstanding thank you notes that I had in my to-do pile.

You have no idea the sense of relief this gives me. I have had a list of thank you notes to write that, despite my best efforts, I could not conquer since at least December of 2006. Between the holidays, my bachellorette party, my bridal shower, the wedding, graduation, my birthday, all of the nice things people did for us for Dad, and then the holidays again... well, I just couldn't write fast enough.

I was beginning to think the paper gift bag of cards to write and cards to which I must respond was going to be a permanent fixture in my living room and on my travels.

But, shortly, I depart for vacation. And I will not be taking required correspondence.


March 4, 2007

Well-Aged Pleasure

Tonight, P & F came over for a home-cooked meal to celebrate P's birthday.

I made fresh pappardelle and put the pasta machine to work for the first time. It was laborious, but fun. I was amused to see that even in the 2 hours between when I made the pasta and I cooked it, it had started to dry into the consistency you think of when you think of pasta. Hard. Yellow. Slightly crunchy.

As for the sauce, I cheated. I used leftover frozen bolognese from E's birthday dinner.

And for the wine. Well, it was glorious.

We opened a bottle of 1998 La Braccesca.


God bless the owner of the wine store in Cortona who picked out the 6 bottles I shipped back in 2001. As I learned more about wine I realized he didn't take advantage of my ignorance and actually did pick quite a wonderful selection. They have been aging and waiting for the right moment since their arrival. Tonight's selection was the first of the 6. It was perfect. It makes me think the others may be near their time as well...

In fact, the whole meal was in it's prime: the pasta machine has been here at least a year, waiting patiently in line for its first use. The pasta had dried for 2 hours (or the first few noodles had, anyways). The mustard greens were fresh. The bolognese had aged in the freezer. And the egg tarts that P & F brought had been obtained after waiting in a long line in Chinatown.

Sometimes, a little waiting is a good thing.
Never less than 1/4

Daddy always told me, "Kid. You can't trust your gas light. Never let your gas get below a 1/4 of a tank. Try to always keep it above 1/2. You never know when you're going to need it."

After I graduated from college and bought my first car, I generally responded, "Dad. I own a *modern* vehicle. It has a gas light for a reason."

And I never had a problem. Once, my gas light went on in the middle of nowhere in Northern California. I drove 30 miles to arrive, sputtering, at a gas station. I used this as my metric. I'd say to myself, "Sure, the gas looks low, but after the gas light goes on, I've still got 30 miles."

Last week, I ran out of gas on the freeway. My gas light never went on.

Guess that's just another thing my dad was right about...