April 29, 2007

Working Weekend

I knew there would be weekends filled with work as a lawyer. And, believe it or not, this one wasn't so bad.

I think they come in two flavors. The first is horrid, it's the unexpected, I have plans I have to cancel, I hate it when my job gets in the way of my life working weekend. Those weekends aren't so great.

But this weekend I experienced the second flavor, which, in truth, isn't actually that bad.

As of Wednesday evening of this week, I could see the writing on the wall. No amount of late night work on my part was going to fit into my planned social schedule and leave me with a weekend free. Plus, I didn't really have plans this weekend, so it wasn't a big deal. In fact, it was oddly liberating.

Because I knew I'd be working on the weekend, I left work at 4 PM on Friday to meet lucky_girl at my house for a last-minute closet raid for a wedding she had to attend. Ordinarily, I'm rushing to finish my work for the week on Friday at that time. But this time, I collected my binders and piles, waved goodbye to the staff and got on the road.

Yesterday, I slept in, did a nice 6 mile run, made waffles for lunch, relaxed a bit, and then settled into diligence mode. Half an hour in, I had the brilliant idea of getting a manicure and pedicure in the middle of the diligence hours as a treat. I planned to read diligence through the entire pedicure, but I must admit, US weekly did distract me a bit. Even with distractions, I put in a solid 4 hours and found myself halfway done with the pile before it was time to make dinner and welcome P back to the bay area after a month in Canada.

After dinner, I sent a few emails and tried to remotivate, but I could only do about 20 more minutes before E appeared with Krispy Kreme, he even wore a hat for the delivery. Between that and Netflix, how could I possibly insist on more diligence?

Trouble is, even though I found Anchorman to be horrifically tedious, and even though E bailed after 20 minutes, I watched it 'til the end. If I turned it off, you see, I'd have to go back to the diligence. Not happening.

Today, I woke at a decent hour and met up with B to do a slow 10-miler. I came home, showered, and went to downtown for a leisurely brunch with E followed by a visit to the Mountain View Lock Museum. After we'd had our fill of old California history, nostalgia for my Papa, and the curator of the tiny museum who was the most adorable old man ever, I finally made it home, full, relaxed, and mellow.

Again, with a happy heart, I plopped onto the couch to resume my duties. After 25 minutes, I almost fell asleep. Diligence, at times, well...it's not always scintillating. Thankfully, my sister called. I talked to her for 30 minutes or so and then, refreshed, dove back in. An hour later, I'm in need of another break, and here I am. Blogging. The ultimate time-sink.

After this, no doubt, I'll return to my pile, plow through some more and maybe even finish before it's time to make dinner. Probably not, though. This 8 hours or so of work will likely turn out to be a full-weekend-long project.

It'll be the reason I felt no guilt leaving work early on Friday. It'll be the reason I don't feel decadently lazy about my weekend at home with no plans. It'll also be the reason my hours look 8 or so hours nicer than they otherwise would have this month. And since I knew it was coming as far away as Wednesday, I don't even feel grumpy about it. I actually had a good weekend, work was just a part of it.

Like I said, I knew I was going to have to work some weekends as a lawyer. If only they could all line up with my lazy weekends at home.

April 24, 2007

They Call Them Classics For A Reason

Last night, E and I watched Apocolypse Now.

Wow. Gorgeous. Insightful. Funny. Real. Surreal. Humans at war are amazingly fascinating animals. Coppola gets flawed humans. But, I don't know if I ever appreciated how much he got the art of moviemaking before. Italian music and scenery begs to be artistically rendered, in my opinion. So the Godfathers are some of my favorite movies, but I don't know if I gave Coppola enough credit.

This time around, though, the soundtrack of the Doors' hit me hard. I had history with that music. It was mine from a different time and meaning. Yet it was juxtaposed against the powerful bits of this movie such that I will never hear some of those songs again without a completely different response.

Also, Martin Sheen has one of the greatest voices ever bestowed upon a man. Damn. I couldn't get over the seduction of his slightly gravelly, introverted, supremely cast vocal chords. Hilariously, the modern child in me found myself thinking at odd points, "Wow, he looks just like Emilio in that shot," but then at others, I'd think, "How could I have thought he resembled Emilio, he looks like he is pure Charlie here."

Overall, we were very pleased that we listened to the wisdom of the ages and let such an acknowledged classic slowly rise to the top of our Netflix queue. At 2 hours 33 minutes, it stayed in the house for at least 2 months before we could find the time to watch it. I am embarrassed to admit that it had become almost a chore to be completed so we could be rewarded with a shorter, less onerous Netflix. We even contemplated sending it back unwatched.

I am very glad we persevered.

(Regardless, I'm still not finishing Ulysses.)

April 23, 2007

Bacon Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans, soaked in water overnight
1/4 lb bacon, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 serrano peppers, diced, seeds left in. (but note, I've got a ridiculous pain tolerance and I cook for a husband who tends to like things *fuh-lay-ming* on the Scoville Scale, so adjust to your preference)
1 T. mustard powder
2 t. ground cumin seeds
1 t. black pepper
1 T. cajun seasoning (really, just root around in your spice cabinet and add what you think will go well...)
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water

1. Drain beans. Cover with water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Cook bacon in a saucepan 'til done. Drain the bacon grease.

3. Return the bacon to the saucepan with the vegetables and roots. Sautee with a little olive oil until vegetables and roots are tender. (Note, for conservation, you could just drain less bacon grease and use this as the fat. But I'm a Californian fan of olive oil and heart health. My southern husband is not amused.) Add spices to saucepan and stir for 1 minute or so.

4. Dump everything into to the stock pot with the beans, broth, water & bring to a simmer.

5. Simmer for approximately 2 hours 'til beans are tender to the bite, but not mushy.

6. Serves 4 alone as a hearty meal, or with homemade cornbread for major points.


April 22, 2007

Fastest Half Thus Far

Weather.com predicted rain. I was not excited about 2 hours or more in the rain, but with a large group of friends committed, it's hard to back out.

So, after a pre-race night of yoga and soup before bed at 10 PM (Woo Hoo Saturday PAR-TAY!), I woke at 5 AM and headed to Santa Cruz with B for the race. (FYI -- kimchee on the side and udon in miso broth with soy, sriracha, furikake, and hoisin is an excellent pre-race meal. Very hydrating with plenty of carbs. Plus all the sodium gets you ready to sweat and makes you thirsty so you'll drink lots of water.)

Before the start, we met up with E2, lucky_girl, and C (plus R, who was the awesome supporter, photographer). We ended up waiting 20 minutes past the start time (Santa Cruz time, baby) before the horn. Thankfully, E2 had done some crazy hippy anti-rain dance the day before, so we were safe from the falling water.

Finally, as the weather slowly improved to gorgeous blue skies over the ocean, we were off. E2 had decided to do the 10K 'cause she'd been sick lately. So, she, B and I headed off at a 10K pace for the first 3 miles. The pace was set, more or less, by B. She's FAST. But it was good. And 25 minutes later, my 5K split was the fastest 5K split I've ever run in a race, including 10Ks.

We said goodbye to E2 at her turn-around and settled into a nice 8:25-8:45 pace. Occasionally, B would speed up to sub-8 and I'd look down at the widget and try to slow her down. She'd laugh, apologize, and we'd stay at a good pace for a while. Then she'd speed up again. At one point, she told me, "I don't think I can maintain this pace the whole race. I'm gonna need to slow down." This was at approximately mile 5. I laughed because she was setting the pace, and said, "You can maintain this pace and more." I was amazed at how good of shape she was in. I was definitely struggling a bit to keep up.

As for the course, while the weather was excellent, the obstacles included horse manure and mud. Lots of mud. Thank goodness it didn't rain. The course would have been horrid in the rain. But with the sun, the ocean, the views, and no rain? It was fabulous.

Around mile 10, B started to take off with a monster kick. I briefly tried to maintain her pace, but it became clear that I did not have it in me. I relaxed back into an 8:40 pace, comfortable in the knowledge that this would be my fastest race yet and watched her pick off runner after runner as she put distance between us.

With 2 miles to go, I looked down and realized that all I had to do was keep around an 8:30 pace and I would beat my fastest time by a nice margin for an even PR. So, I dug deep and told myself with each step that the faster I ran, the sooner it would be over. It was physically demanding, but even though the last 3 miles hurt, they were nothing compared to the final few in the second-fastest half I ran in 2005.

Finally, I ran down the final hill and turned the corner to the finish line at a 6:30 pace. And then, *Wham* my feet hit the sand. A sand finish? What were they thinking? Those last 50 feet took forever! I think I must have crossed the actual finish line at a 10:00 pace or slower.

Quickly, I sought out some water and moved to the finish side-line to cheer on C and lucky_girl who came in right when they said they would.

So yeah, the sand finish is symbolic of the focus of this race. The pictures at any point along the course are gorgeous. The sand allowed the supporters to take more pictures of their loved ones at the end, in a picturesque setting. The views were wonderful. The art on the finisher's T-shirt is a unique rendering of the local beauty by a local artist.

But, in terms of race organization, for the actual runners, I was not overly impressed. Then again, I suppose if you're going with stereotypes, you might look to Santa Cruz for natural beauty and art, but you probably wouldn't look there for an industrial engineering solution of efficiency unless it related to pot, so I shouldn't be suprised.

The runner-related complaints were several. I heard grumblings that some of the aid stations ran out of liquid (thank you fuel belt!). In addition to the dangerous slippery mud and horse manure, much of the trail was too narrow to handle a loop of over 3,000 runners where the out-and-back of the winner put him past me and B around mile 5.5 (in other words, more than half of our race was two-lane traffic). Plus, the water at the finish line was from hose-filled plastic garbage bags inside garbage bins, available for you to dip your cup in and get yourself a drink. Not ideal, in terms of sanitary conditions, or speed of getting liquid to delirious dehydrated runners. But, when you're thirsty...

Anyways, lest it seem that I'm a big complainer, let me say I'm actually very pleased. It was a fabulous way to spend a gorgeous California day. Friends. Nature. Supporters. A physically demanding performance that bested my previous efforts. Gorging myself on post-race Mexican food with friends. Post-post-race visit to the buttery followed by wine with E2 on her porch. And, now I know. The 10K course is amazing. 6 of the miles of the race were manure and mud free with more than enough space for all of the participants. Next time...

My only true regret is that I somehow missed cheering on A at the finish despite waiting at the finish line 'til well over 30 minutes after she finished. I suspect I missed her because she finished around the same time as lucky_girl and C, but I was bummed none-the-less. Good job A!

Till next time!

April 21, 2007

Best Word of the Day Ever


That is all.
Bacon Recipe: Leftover Risotto

It's no surprise that last night, after an exhausting week, when I looked in the fridge and saw that we had very little in the way of ingredients, I fell back to one of my staples: Risotto.

Predictably, E loved it. But, you could put bacon on cardboard and he'd probably love it so that's not saying much. I liked it. I found it a bit salty so I'm substituting water for some of the broth in the recipe below.

1/3 lb bacon, cut into 1 cm chunks, sauteed 'til done. Drain the bacon grease from the pan, but don't wash it.
1/2 white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 small handfulls of rice
1 box of leftover sauteed vegetables from your favorite mexican joint's veggie fajitas
1 can chicken broth

1. sautée onion and garlic in the bacon grease pan. Add a bit of olive oil if you need it.

2. Add rice and mix with the onion, garlic, fat 'til it starts to smell toasty and looks slightly clear on the outside.

3. Add the can of chicken broth, bring to a simmer. Stir.

4. Add water as the broth cooks down 'til the rice is al dente.

5. Add the vegetables and bacon. Stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and serve.


April 20, 2007

Whirlwind New York

Well, the missing posts never came back. I used them to tell you all about E's & my trip to New York. We were there for the huge storm. We took the subway on the worst day and it was raining inside the stations -- literally pouring water through the cracks -- such that people were using umbrellas indoors. We should have taken a picture. Oh well.

My law firm's NY office is very nice and surprisingly laid back. After all the stereotypes of NY lawyers I had heard, I almost couldn't believe how relaxed and fun and friendly the office was. I met almost the entire office and enjoyed excellent meals with almost everyone before I left.

Dim Sum in NYC Chinatown was different than Dim Sum in the bay area. We were the only non-asian people in the very large restaurant at 1 PM on a Sunday. In Northern California, Sunday Dim Sum is a tradition that all ethnicities will wait in line to experience. The concierge recommended Golden Unicorn, and we were impressed. The selection wasn't as large as the bay area joints we like (Yank Sing, Fook Yuen, Joy Luck Place, or Dynasty Seafood Restaurant) but they had the necessities of Siu Mai, sesame-rice dessert balls, and the pork pastry rolls. Plus at $17 for two to be stuffed silly, who can complain?

Other than that, it's good to be home. I am excited to plan the menu and actually cook next week.

April 16, 2007

Blogger ate 2 posts

If they don't return, I may go on strike.


That is all.

April 10, 2007

Bacon Recipe: Spicy Glass Noodle Salad

I had a rough time leaving the pressures of work behind today. I had two separate interchanges where people commented in a way that I felt was critical of the amount of time I put in at the office. People with absolutely no power over me. Stupid. I know. If I'm doing all the work I'm being given, and no one has complained, I should trust that everything is fine and let these comments roll off my back. But no. I take them to heart. I stress that people don't think I'm doing a good job. Basically, I need to chill out.

Hence, intervals at the track with B to exhaust my body, followed by cooking to remind my sensory brain to do some work, followed by eating and conversation with E -- heavenly. A wonderful reminder of the good things in life and that I should appreciate them.

Thanks to lucky_girl, I am the proud owner of the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School cook book. Tonight I made a modified version of one of their recipes and it was *excellent*. I highly recommend this as a very tasty, healthy dinner (okay, healthy except for the bacon).

-Glass Noodles, 1 cup (or two bundles) soaked for 10 minutes and then cut into shorter lengths (4 inches or so).
-Bacon, 1/4 lb of strips, cooked. If you burn half and throw it away, the recipe is still good.
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 white onion, diced
-3 large jalapeños, minced with seeds left in
-1/2 bunch of bok choy, chopped
-Approx 3 Tb fish sauce
-Approx 2 Tb lime juice (or 1 Tb lime and 1 Tb lemon)
-1 tomato, sliced into thirds lengthwise and as many perpendicular slices as you can get in.
-1 cup cilantro, diced

1. toss all ingredients except glass noodles in a bowl.
2. boil water, add glass noodles for 1 minute. Remove, drain, rinse in cold water.
3. toss noodles with remainder of the salad and taste to ensure you like the seasoning.

Serves two-three as a whole meal course, could probably serve up to 8 as an appetizer salad.


April 8, 2007

Bachelorette Party

I may be old, but I'm not out the game, just yet.

I just spent 43 hours in vegas.

I did manage to get 7 hours of sleep, but none of it occurred prior to 5 AM on any day.


Well, I was distracted by the fun: 12 girls in pink feather boas, two nice dinners, $200 lost at craps, $5 lost at slots, 4 taxi rides, 3 limo rides, 3 miles very slowly ran down the strip, 5 hours laying by the pool (none of which I could sleep through, for some reason), several hours of "dancing" and one accidental, but painful, head butt from the bachelorette while head-banging to Poison.

What more could I possibly want? Oh, perhaps you think the bachelorette should have camped it up a bit more? Perhaps a tiara with blinking LEDs and some pink underwear that said "Spank me" on the outside of her jeans? Maybe a pink garter over her jeans?


It was hedonistic, hilarious, over-the-top in the way that only vegas can be, and more expensive than I could have imagined. Tons of fun! But, if I don't make it back to Vegas for another 4 years, I wouldn't complain.

**Oh, and how could I forget: Kfed is hotter in person and very nice. And, Jon Bon Jovi is still hot.

April 4, 2007

Running Observations

Training for a marathon is a huge time commitment. But the actual training miles themselves are mainly relaxing. You don't do many runs (other than the 14 mile run from hell) that hurt for the whole run. Almost everything is at a very manageable pace, after all, you have to maintain it for 26 miles.

Contrast that with the training I'm doing for my next half. Monday, I did 4X1600 intervals while panting and grunting and pushing myself to the extreme for each one, and, mind you, noting that my fastest mile of 7:22 is still off more than a minute from last year's fastest speed training. Yesterday, thankfully, was 3 easy miles to recover. But, today, I was back in the masochist zone for a 55-minute tempo run. Again, I pushed myself to the limit of my physical stamina, and, I couldn't help but note that I'm slower than the last time I did this type of training.

Basically, one thing that sucks about shorter distances is that it's reasonable to train for speed. Which is fun, after you've received the benefits. But while you are doing it, especially when you are doing it for medium-length distances, boy does it hurt.

Here's to hoping I can retain some of my former fitness in time for the race. Beforehand would be nice too. I'd really like to enjoy some of my speed training instead of having it all hurt...

April 1, 2007

The Me Generation

Je, Jo (as pronounced, but spelled yo), Yo, Io, Ich, I.

While writing JayKay a bizarre email, I couldn't help but think of the continuum of latin-based language pronouns and their intersection with Germanic language pronouns for the first person today. I spent a good while thinking about this. I let myself float through all the accents I have met, picturing the faces and hearing the voices while trying to order them. I spent a little time imagining human migration patterns that may have caused the language to evolve in such a way.

This rocks, because it shows that on the weekend, I'm finally starting to be able to leave work behind to the point where I can entertain my normal (sic) thought processes of wackiness. I'm on my way back to being me. The wacky, weird, comfortable in my oddness and happy to spend time on thoughts no one even wants me to share, but happy and balanced in my own way, self.