December 28, 2007

Art imitates life

And if so, you should be able to gleam tons about my life from the following combination of over-seriousness, ridiculous navel-gazing, and stupid over-dramatcized fun (with snakes!). Basically, the week after Christmas rocks as a lawyer in the bay area. Everyone slows down or just stops. Don't take it off work. Stay in town. *Work* (wink, wink). The few clients and partners who need you will be thankful. The one or two people whose asses you'll have to save will be *very* thankful (which is helpful for later vacations when you will need backup).

So, from the partial work void I've been enjoying these holidays, I present the most recent collection of Netflix and pop-culture I've experienced, in the last 7 days, in case you thought you knew me.

1. The Wii, with family, over Christmas.
2. The Simpsons: Old Yeller Belly.
3. Water, which E left me to watch on my own... it just wasn't his thing.
4. Secretary, which E left me to watch alone, and solidify my adoration for both James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhall.
5. Crimes and Misdemeanors -- E liked misdemeanors, but hated crimes. I liked it, but mainly because the best parts of it made me nostalgic for Manhattan and the worst parts were like watching a bad 70's or 80's gangster flick.
8. Mighty Aphrodite: Wow. It was like all the best parts of Crimes and Misdemeanors (namely, the misdemeanors) without the heavy over-indulgence of the crimes in reality. Instead, he acknowledged his ridiculousness and indulged it via greek theatre. Which, I have a ridiculous soft spot for, thanks to world drama at Cal with JayKay (Where we did nothing but laugh at the angsty theatre folks, lust after swimmer-ben, and amuse ourselves with our professor, who insisted on lunging instead of walking. Good Times.)
6. And, let us not forget tonight's masterpiece Snakes on a plane. You might think this went straight to video, and I wouldn't blame you for the assumption, but I must admit, I enjoyed watching it tonight (because I'm a sucker for over-the-top video) and part of the reason it made it home in the netflix queue is because R claimed the movie was fun. Of course, he's the kinda guy who woulda claimed that no matter what. But I enjoyed my modern day airplane blacksploitation spoof. So there...

So, yeah, if the list above confuses you, I agree. In fact, I encourage you to try being me and trying to find a platform for voting (and if you succeed, post a comment)...

December 25, 2007

Holiday Cheer

There are few things greater in the world than witnessing the joy of an almost-six-year-old realizing that Santa brought what she really wanted, even though she forgot to tell him.

I hope your holidays were/are wonderful this year. Mine were filled with joy and family.

I spent 4 days in a quirky condo overlooking beautiful Pismo beach with E and my brother, sister, and niece, plus our cousin who couch-surfed, and daily visits to and from the extended family throughout the region.

It's crazy to belong to such a large extended family. It's like you belong to a posse and you can't do anything solo. You wanna go get a quick dinner of delicious BBQ? Make a few phone calls, and the next thing you know, you and your family will take over the joint. When you take small family subgroups with you to restaurants, you still have to request two separate large tables to seat the entire group. When it's not the holidays, your uncle goes to the local county fair and meets relatives he didn't even know he had. And your aunt cancels the "cousins' only" bbq that had been planned because due to the required politesse, the bbq would have to be 200 local invitees of first, second, and third-degree family. Instead, we have a small get-together of 15.

All in all, I could not have asked for anything better: perfectly clear and weather in the 60s (F); two days of running alongside the Pacific Ocean; one day of beach yoga; four nights of listening to waves crashing from either the hottub or the balcony; and, of course, more delicious food and family laughter than I even thought was possible.

It was one of the best Christmas holidays I can remember.

December 21, 2007


I'm a very light sleeper and I have a very active dream life. Combine this with strange noises on the roof, and, well, I've concocted some odd theories.

For example, I swear that I've been woken several times on the night before garbage pickup by what sounds like a person walking on the roof.

Why garbage night?

Why would anyone be on our roof?

I don't know, but it freaks me out every damn time. So, inevitably, I wake up E and try to get him to be concerned about what is obviously a human walking on our roof as well.

For some reason, he never is. He generally tells me it's a possum and forgets that we had the conversation by morning.

So, there I was today, working from home, rushing to get everything done so I can take FOUR CONSECUTIVE DAYS OFF OF WORK!

And what do you know, I heard the mysterious roof-walker again. This time, I was awake, dressed, and ready to attack.

I ran outside and found myself greeted by friggin' animal planet. I kid you not...

As I left the front of the house, two black squirrels scampered down our apricot tree, skittering in squirrel at me as if to scold me for breaking up their party. Simultaneously, no less than 5 crows flew from the roof and alighted over my head to nearby trees, while several other big fat black crows observed my speedy entrance to the front yard from the grass and driveway with suspicion.

And, when I finally got to where I could see the roof, there, by the electrical tie-in, sat a solitary, very large, very wise raven, who just stared down at me with disdain.


December 19, 2007


I *hate* insomnia.

This morning's flavor (I almost always get it in the morning, it's just a question of whether it's very early or later) was the 5:30 AM kind. Not good. After laying in bed and tossing and turning and probably waking up E 'til around 6:30 AM, I had to admit that sleep was done.

Most things in my life are going quite well, but there's no pretending I'm not stressed when I can't sleep through the night. Tonight was the third or fourth night in a row I've woken up at some ridiculous hour and been unable to sleep.

The stress, for once, is primarily not from work, and instead from my family.

I'm very worried about my brother. I want to help him and be there for him but lately, for the last 8 days or so, he won't take or return my calls. It is very hard to respect an individual's right to live their own life when their choices seem self-destructive to themselves and hurtful to you.

But, that is what I must do. Because if I don't, I'm going to be unable to sleep. And that's not doing anyone any good.

December 16, 2007

I *don't* live on a fiscal year

My clients do, though. So they all have tons of crap they want to finish before 12/31/07.

Add some financial planning for E & me including some tax-related decisions that need to be done before 12/31/07, a trip to see the fam over the holidays, the early ramp-up speed training for the miami half marathon, and holiday social madness, and you've got...

Well, basically, you've got someone busting their ass to get all their work done in time to take the family holiday trip mixed with the foregoing.

The only thing I can offer from today is this:

You know you've been mistaken for (or become) a special kind of a loser when on his way out of the office on a Sunday night, one of the partners pokes his head in your office and informs you that you *should* take some of the leftover pizza ordered for his IPO team home to your poor husband for dinner. Because, goodness, we all know you certainly haven't had time to shop for food...

Part of me wanted to point out that I'd had dinner guests the night before. That I'd made bacon risotto with mustard glazed brussel sprouts followed by *perfect* chocolate soufflées (literally, perfect! I was thrilled!). And then, this morning, E2 and I had run-walked 4.5 miles and then did 1.5 hours of the most intense yoga I'd done in a while.

But no. The reality is, despite all efforts to make it appear to the contrary, I'm not balancing it all. I haven't been shopping since when my sister was here, and that was merely to buy ingredients for the brunch she was hosting. So, I laughed, and took the Mountain Mike's home, where E and I savored it before devouring the leftover soup from Wednesday and leaving the kitchen truly, truly bare.

That's how I roll.

December 12, 2007

Mixed Metaphors

When describing how a senior partner at your firm severely verbally abused a more junior partner at the opposing firm, it's best not to say this:

He totally chewed that guy a new asshole.

That is all.
Ahhh, the irony

So, after tossing and turning for about an hour, I finally admitted defeat and got up.

If I can't sleep due to insomnia, I might as well work.

Might as well, indeed.

Somehow, between handing the valet my keys last night and getting up this morning, my safeword lcd panel cracked.

No work and no sleep for me.

December 10, 2007

Body Worlds 2 (and the 3 million tasks of our weekend)

I never saw the first exhibition, but this weekend, a group including my sister, E, friends and I all went to the Tech Museum and toured the Body Worlds 2 exhibit.

It was fascinating, if you like that sort of thing, which I do. But, even if you don't, like lucky_girl, apparently, it stops totally grossing you out after 30 minutes or so.

E, of course, couldn't help but make jokes about being hungry, prosciutto, and cannibalism. Tasteless (excuse the pun)? Of course. But, really, did I expect anything less? Of course not. I love it when I can think the unspeakable jokes and he can say them.

Other than the plasticized dead folks, it was a fairly normal, if breathless, busy, and fun social weekend. In addition to the trip to San Jose, we went to a party at Morton's Union Square, stayed the night in SF at our new favorite quality:cost ratio SF hotel, had brunch with G & O at hip universal cafe (which had an odd L.A. vibe to it, a rarity in the people's republic of hipsterville San Francisco) enjoyed a wonderfully decadent dinner at my favorite restaurant with sister and her boy, and hosted a brunch for 5 guests (thanks to my sister for planning) before take-out mediterranean feast at our house with lucky_girl and hubby (take out so the girls could hold down the fort and deal with roto-rooter and the return after a three year hiatus of the great tree root insurgence while the men got food -- see, I'm flexible on gender roles).

Ahhh, busy holiday social madness. I love it. Love the 0.5 hours of work this weekend between 5 PM on Friday and 8 AM on Monday too!

December 6, 2007


Rain is good.

California needs rain.

And the fact that the weather waited 'til after my marathon to start raining on a regular basis makes me feel like my Dad and Papa were pulling weather for me, yet again, all through training season.

I'm very much enjoying my week of lazy no-running easy yoga.

Not to mention having time to satisfy my leftover marathon appetite. I've hit both dim sum and french food for lunch this work week with co-workers. Mmmmmm...

December 4, 2007


Waking before my alarm, in the dark, rested, my feet snuggled up against E's feet, and nothing but the sound of rain.

December 2, 2007

Marathon, the second

Approximately 12 minutes faster than last time. Not bad. I missed my goal of 4:00 by about 5 minutes, but it's close enough that I'm proud. Now, I'm sore. Tired. And finding it very difficult to motivate for the work I should do before Monday morning.

One of the partners I work for used to be an amazing runner (think sub-4 minute miles). Now, his knees are shot. Monday mornings, he stops by to live vicariously through my long runs. Last Friday evening, he told me he'd like something I'm working on by Monday AM. I told him, okay, but it's gonna be late Sunday at the earliest, this weekend is my marathon.

Oh, I forgot. Good luck. Don't worry about it. Monday by early afternoon is fine.

At the time, I thought, no it's not. Because then I won't have Monday AM to do my other work. But now, when I'm sore and tired and relaxed like only an 18-week build up to a successful and whole-body-brutalizing workout can make you, I think I'm gonna take him up on it.

Instead, I'll spend some time fixing the details of the story in my memory so I can recount it properly for him. I'll deal with the work that won't get done tomorrow night. Not tonight. The night after a marathon is for lounging and moving slow.

So, if the best part about last marathon (besides just finishing it) was the fun of imagining conversations with my friends and family, the best part about this marathon was seeing family and friends over the weekend and having them come out to support me. In addition to the marathon, I baked Christmas cookies with my niece, mom and sister, and my brother, neice, mom, step-dad, E and I went out for a pre-race meal of mexican food (mmm...pre-race soup, chips, and lots of water, I swear by it).

I spent Saturday morning racing the Amtrak towards my hometown with E2 after we missed our train (long story), which we finally caught in Martinez. I only managed to do 1 hour of work on the train instead of the planned for 3. I think that may be a theme for this weekend. She came along to run some errands, to see her family, and to support me by running the last 6 miles with me (which, it turned out, I desperately needed). We even stayed with her parents and E2's mom woke at 6 AM to drive me to the start, which was so close to their house that you could hear the starting announcements.

A minute or so after the start, I saw B (who finished in a speedy 3:45!) and ran the first mile with her, as we caught up and wished each other well. Due to the ridiculous pace she planned to keep, I had to slow, but I was too motivated by the crowds and after a few miles figured I could just tuck into the 3:50 pace group. [NOTE: WHEN THEY SAY THAT GOING OUT TOO HARD IS A GOOD WAY TO ENSURE YOU WILL HIT THE WALL, THEY ARE NOT KIDDING].

Unlike my first marathon, which was a very focused, personal, solitary activity, I was fairly unfocused for the first part of this race. I let the crowds, my fellow runners, the music, and the scenery distract me. I smiled quite a bit.

I crossed the half marathon clock and realized I was going much too fast. In fact, if I didn't slow down, I was going to beat E2 to the 20 mile marker where she was supposedly going to meet me to help out with the last 6. So, I finally started to slow as I should have much earlier.

Around mile 15, I started counting off the miles. 5 miles 'til E2. 4 miles 'til E2. 3 miles... and then, she was there, at the intersection, just as she said she would be. Unfortunately, I was just ahead of the 4:00 group a little faster than I said I would be, but I was exhausted, and there were 6 miles to go.

I told her, "You keep up with them (the 4 hour pace group), and I'll keep up with you." That worked for a couple of miles. But then, I really hit the wall. Despite the gu and gu H20, despite the sliced and peeled oranges, and despite the crowd support, I had to walk. I sat for a minute and removed my sweat pants (which, surprisingly, I was happy to leave on for the first 22 miles or so -- it was *cold*).

And then, I relied on E2's will to pull me the next 3 miles or so. She laughed and told jokes and entertained me. She felt guilty when spectators yelled, "looking good ladies!" She yelled to the folks in the bar who were partying and cheering us on. She pointed out amusing things, like the runner who yelled at the guy who was smoking on the corner.

And finally, around mile 25, I found some energy of my own. Good thing too, since E2 had to peel off at the end. I passed B and B2 near mile 26, she was covered in her mylar blanket but had come back out to the course to cheer me on. I turned the corner before the finish and E and my sister were there, just a foot or two away yelling and taking my picture. Just after crossing the finish, E2 smiled from the side, saying, "I almost missed you, but I made it." And then, my mom was there too!

Ordinarily, running is something I do to stay sane. To keep healthy. Something I do entirely for myself unless I'm supporting a friend in their runs. But today, it was something I got to do while supported by those I love. It was a wonderful feeling.

And next time, I'm gonna be true to my goal pace from the start.

November 29, 2007

So They Do Have A Line

I'm a very private person, by nature. I understand that the only person you can truly trust to keep a secret is yourself.

Some of us are lucky enough to have friends who will keep our secrets as if they were their own. And we should be very, very, thankful.

But, from my perspective, the profound respect for and tight-lipped silence in response to one's desire to share with one and only one person, particularly if that person is not a permanent monogamous significant other, is rare.

So, if you are me, you can imagine how weird the larger soul-bearing aspect of the social networking phenomenon is. I've read articles that have said that the difference between today's youth and my generation is that today's youth understands that the concept of privacy is a myth and thus they bare everything and anything for all to see on the Internet. After all, the sheer volume of information should obscure it (unless, of course, the search algorithms keep getting smarter...)

Today, it seems, there is at least a partial line to the lack of privacy. Some of the users of Facebook stood up to the platform and said, "Stop Using My Information In A Way I Don't Like." And good for them.

Reading about it makes me smile. It's very weird. In more than one way, Facebook is like a government regulating a sovereign nation with a representative democracy populus: the majority is too busy gossiping, shopping, and posting drunken pictures of themselves to be political, but there is a minority who pick fights, and thanks to them, the whole is better.

November 25, 2007

7 Things you don't know about me

Like Beanie, who tagged me, I too try to be a relatively anonymous blogger.

But, there are plenty of people who read this who know me in the meatworld, too. Many of them probably know me better than I know myself. In fact, because some of my close friends and family read this, I'm not totally sure I could come up with 7 things that none of my readers knew about me.

So, I present 7 things about me that the readers most don't know and those who know me in real life *may* not know.

1. I want a dog as a pet even though I'm severely allergic to them and do not have the time or proper space to care for one.

2. I have a ridiculous maternal instinct. When children cry, I want to comfort them so much that it hurts.

3. I went through a several year phase where I didn't like to eat white creamy food. No mayonnaise, no milk, no white sauce, no yogurt, no ranch dressing, no egg-based custards. I have recovered on all counts except the mayonnaise and the ranch dressing, which I still do my best to avoid.

4. I love reptiles.

5. I generally don't eat sweet fruits. You know, the things everyone thinks of when they think of fruit: apples, bananas, apricots, peaches, oranges, pears, berries, cherries. I just don't like 'em that much, although on occasion, they are fabulous. But, my favorite foods almost all include unsweet fruits like eggplant, zucchini, peppers, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

6. I can not be trusted to keep my own keys.

7. The women in my family all get an Eblskiver pan as a gift at some point. Wherever we are, we make Ebleskivers for Christmas and Thanksgiving breakfast.

And with that, I tag JayKay.

November 24, 2007

Leave the Big Bag at home

We're back.

We just rolled (literally, think elephant seals) back into the house after another one of our gluttonous holiday trips to the South to spend time with E's friends and family.

If there's one thing we learned this trip, it's this: don't use the huge over-sized luggage that allows you to pack 3 bottles of wine plus clothes for two for a week. It'll just cost you in the end. As in, hand over a surprise $50 (okay, not so surprise if you've paid it once before, but still) if your bag is over 50 lb. We were a healthy 64 lbs.

There was nothing we could do, so we paid $50 in over-weight fees after requiring the gate agent to confirm that yes, if we packed two bags, both would have been well under the 50 lb. limit but the plane would be heavier due to the additional luggage. The confirmation didn't provide much comfort.

On our return flight, we were lighter thanks to the consumption and enjoyment of the Ariston Fils and 2 bottles of Per Bacco Chardonnay. But, to be safe, we put about 10 lbs into a throw-away piece of luggage from E's parents that hadn't been used since the 80s. Both the duck-taped throw-away and the large luggage will be going to Good Will very soon.

In other not-so-news, we ate and drank too well.

The first evening (after E's mom's homemade lunch of open-faced prosciuttto, gorgonzola, violet, and honey sandwiches) we started the true debauchery with cheese and a Cotes du Rhone that was a favorite of E's dad. From there, we crashed E's sister and her man's dinner plans and enjoyed a fabulous dinner for six at Food Studio. Predictably, E, the reason we were subscribed to the bacon of the month club, started this culinary trip to the South with a dinner of pork belly, while I enjoyed my parsnip soup and salmon. With our appetizers, we laughed and caught up over a bottle of Roederer Estate. And, with dinner, we enjoyed a botttle of 2002 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir from Testarossa, a gift we'd given to E's dad several years ago. It had aged to perfection -- cherry notes but the fruit had mellowed to a warm, comfortable, light acid, and the oak contributed a long finish without excess vanilla, which was wonderful to enjoy with family, over good food. And, of course, like almost every meal this trip, although we were full, we all opted in to dessert.

This general theme of overindulgence continued for the next few days with interruptions only for important events such as a three-extended-family Thanksgiving extravaganza (which was so much more than simple overindulgence) and a trip to waffle house (which was required).

One meal of note: we were lucky enough to return to Bacchanalia with E's best man and wife for our second perfectly executed meal there. The food was just as sublime as I recalled from our last visit, with excellent combinations and contrasts of seasonal and local flavors as well as innovative palate cleansers (watermellon smoothie!).

If possible, the service was even better than last time. The cheese plate execution had improved (a feat I would have thought impossible) with the addition of a slice of a tree as a plate, which has been pre-loaded with artisanal honey, olives, marmalade, and bread. This allows you to focus on selecting your four cheeses from the tray (which, after the wine pairing and sensory overload of the grougeres, and two full courses with palate cleansers, is a difficult enough decision on its own). At $72 for four courses ($10 supplement for cheese, $115 with wine pairing), this restaurant easily competes with and outdoes many well-recognized and michelin-stared San Francisco restaurants, some of which charge double. In short, it is an amazing value for well-executed, prix-fixe, haute cuisine and I encourage you to visit before the market economy does its thing.

Oh, and they had a course with pork belly (although the portion was significantly smaller and more reasonable than food studio), so E smiled his way through pork belly meal number two on our fourth day.

It's good to be home. I look forward to a week of vegetarian healthful meals, yoga, and mellow taper runs before the marathon next weekend.

November 15, 2007

Better than fast food

E is traveling for work tonight. I tried to talk a colleague from work into going out for dinner, but she stayed to work... very dedicated, she is.

So, for the first time in a long, long, time I found myself cooking for one tonight. On the way home, I considered stopping at subway, but I got lost in thought and then I was at the driveway, and, well... yeah.

So, I made a dinner that I'd never make for my husband. Or, I wouldn't have until tonight. I surprised myself with it's tastiness, since I was fairly certain it was going to be merely consumable. Wonders never cease.

*Really* clean out the pantry/fridge dinner for one

-2 T butter
-1 small can sliced carrots, at least 1 year old
-1 small can green peas, at least 1 year old
-1/4 yellow onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1/2 bunch fresh dill, removed from stems
-1/2 bunch fresh parsely, removed from stems
-cayenne pepper

1. In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat until it barely starts to foam, add garlic for 1-2 minutes 'til golden-brown.

2. Add onion and stir for 1 minute.

3. Add carrots & peas, stir for 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, add parsely, dill, and sprinkle with cayenne to taste.

5. Enjoy the surprisingly tasty, cheap, and easy dinner for one. You doubt it, because I did, but it's actually better than fast food. And when you're solo for the night... why not?

Yeah. I know. Without E, I'd be a different woman. There were 10 minutes of singing and dancing in the kitchen tonight when I was supposed to be doing dishes. Hilarious -- it was like friday night dance without your pants with JayKay, only it's not friday, and I was wearing pants, and JayKay wasn't there, and there was no music... you get the picture? I'm nutso. Certifiable. And I need to get back to my diligence. But I swear, I'm not procrastinating...

There are few things in the world that feel better than a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep after several nights of nightmares and insomnia.


November 11, 2007

A very full day

Yesterday, by 11:20 AM I'd finished the twenty mile round-trip from bayfront park in Menlo Park to the Newark Slough and back. The view South from the top of the Dumbarton Bridge is gorgeous (even if the weather is preparing to rain and you can't see very far) because the sunlight on the water in the middle of the former Dumbarton cutoff train bridge is very picturesque. The other major plus of this route is there are only two stoplights on the entire route (Willow and University). The rest is pure, uninterrupted bay trail of various quality. The biggest drawback is that about 2.5 miles from the east bay touch down of the bridge to the Newark Slough is on a very poorly paved and severely crowned road. But, there's not much traffic at all, so you can just run in the middle of the road. Even doing that, I blame this section of the run for my shin soreness for the first time during the entire marathon training.

The rest of the day was all about E, as he was the birthday boy:

-Brunch at the Diner (with bacon).

-Bowling, with drinks, Big Lebowski references, and a few of his friends. (I must admit, I did request that the television screen at the end of the lane be turned to the Cal game. But *other* than that, the rest of the day was all about E. And some newlyweds, but more on that later.)

-Presents: a chocolate bacon bar, green tea mochi ice cream, 2 bottles of good Scotch, one bottle of good tequila, homemade chocolate chip cookies, a bowling pin signed by the crew, a shampoo and a brush from RD, and a hairnet.

-The random rescheduled dinner of a chinese banquet in the world's most wacky deserted mall, wherein we found ourselves in the midst of approximately 3 weddings with music, toasts, and everything. We were *that* table. The most culinarily unique experience? The fried silver fish with salt and pepper -- the fish are bitter and you can see each of their eyes, looking at you.

-Finally, we retired to our house where we watched the Big Lebowski and sampled some of the liquors.

I went to bed at 2 AM, which, given my recent bedtime average of 10:45 PM or so, is worth mentioning as something out of the ordinary. Man, I'm old.

November 9, 2007

Tomorrow's 20-miler

Well, folks, tomorrow is the last long run before I start to taper for my second marathon.

Training for this marathon has been less disciplined than the last one. I know I can finish, so I just don't have the fear I had last time. But, I would like to improve and so I have tried to train slightly harder this time. Key word, slightly.

I've definitely trained differently this time around. My first long run for training was a bike race with E. I've run 4 races as long training runs, including last weekend's half marathon, which is only 1 month away from the marathon. And, after tomorrow, I will have done two 20-mile runs before this race instead of just one. Two weeks ago, I did the first twenty-mile jaunt as an out and back in San Jose with B (until she ditched me, that is! Speedy that B is!).

Overall, I think I've done more intense training this time, but I've been less consistent about keeping a solid pace than last time around. Last time, I was the slow and steady turtle who ever so slowly inched their comfortable speed for long distances up the grid. This time, I've pushed myself to go hard or fast on longer races and paid for it afterwards with some seriously slow recovery runs.

When I look at the data, I see that I ended up running my first marathon at a pace that was only 3 seconds faster than the pace I kept on the 20 mile run. This time, my first 20 mile run was even slower than the one I did before the last marathon. So, I guess tomorrow is decision day. I'll be up early, pushing myself to keep a difficult pace on a course that I've never done: across the Dumbarton bridge.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, given how tired I feel, I suspect it's not gonna be pretty.
The art in spam

Occasionally, your spam filter is probably saving you from something you'd enjoy. I dare you not to find this entertaining and an interesting mirror of a section of our society (in short, I find it artful):

That's great you've found a lass that's hot
You wanna hump her moistened twat.
She's so attractive, she's so nice!
But would your penile size suffice?
Not sure she will yearn for more?
You need a wang she would adore!
But how to get it long and thick?
Your only chance is MegaDik!
You'll get so wanted super-size
And see great pleasure in her eyes!
Your shaft will pound her pink so deep,
Tonight you'll hardly fall asleep!
So try today this wonder-pi'll
And change your life at your own will!

That is all.

November 7, 2007


I live in a professional world where certainties are sought and rewarded and relied upon. And I like them. I really do. I sought this profession and find myself comfortable here for a reason.

So why did I feel so weird tonight, discussing the wishy-washy-ness of what may or may not be my cultural heritage with R (see the last post for more)?

I'm not sure. I think because she asked good questions. They were questions I would have answered if my cultural heritage was work-related in the least bit. I'd know the answer before she asked. Or I'd have an answer that I thought was the best one given the constraints.

But, for some reason, when it comes to my familial cultural history, it almost seems more honest to admit that I can't know. I no longer have access to those who do, and to pretend that their loss is insignificant is wrong, so I try to preserve the mystery and appreciate it for what it is -- a wonderful, story-worthy gift.

November 5, 2007

Wayward Thoughts

I just can't focus. I've got a 10-page contract I should edit and get to a partner tonight. 10 measly pages. Simple. But I can't do it because I know I can wake early and do it tomorrow before the deadline really looms dangerous.

Also, my brain is flitting between the amazing and interesting observations about culture from Arvay on American Food and lucky_girl on Japanese gratitude.

I've spent quite a bit of time in the last 5 years thinking about identity and culture and food. In particular, I'm fascinated by the role that culture plays in forming an individual's identity, even when they try to rebel against it. Arvay's comment that all Americans bring a bit of the old country with them is very true, in my case.

Take, for example, my family.

I have several branches of ancestors who immigrated to California in the mid-1800's. I'm a big walking melting pot due to the many branches that feed my genetic tree and have always thought of myself of stereotypically American. I was told my great-grandma Erma was Swiss. I never really thought much of it. I remember my gran telling me that she was portuguese, german, swiss, french and british and her making me repeat it. When I asked the other grandparents, it was a similar story of multiple ethnicities (except for Grandma Mary, who suprised the hell out of my mom and me with the revelation that she was 1/2 Cherokee and 1/2 french when I did my 4th grade geneology project -- boy was Mom surprised...Native American, who knew?)

At some point in my 20's, after a visit or two and an exposure to the language, I fell in love with Italy. At some point later, I fell in love with E, a boy of Italian decent. Oddly, it was one of the few enthnicities that, despite a large immigration history in the US, I didn't have a grandparent claiming. After being laid off in 2000, while E was still employed, despite no apparent genetic or cultural connection, I thought the best thing I could do with my time was to go to Italy and study Italian.

My Papa, of the Swiss side of the family, when he found out I was going to Italy to study instead of getting a new job after the burst of the first tech bubble, said, and, I quote, "Why do you wanna go learn WOP?"

I was appalled and amused. How old he was. How little insult he intended and how much curiosity he had. And yet, how harsh it sounded. I explained. He, like the farmer of few words that he was, said, "huh." And that was that. I sent postcards and we never spoke of it again. But every postcard with a picture of whatever Italian village I was visiting at the time was displayed on the olive green fridge at the ranch with pride until his death. And they were stained with farmer fingerprints that showed that he took them down, he showed them off, and he put them back up. I took more comfort in those silent dirty marks than I could in anything he'd ever say to me. I know that he loved me more than he could ever say from those marks and my percentage of the fridge space.

Within a year after my return from my jaunt in Italy, my Papa had an 80th birthday. There, I met many of my Papa's cousins. The Manetti brothers, the Polettis, the Perozzis... and, shockingly, I was able to communicate with several of my visiting cousins who spoke Italian. Sure, they insisted on calling it Swiss, but I could fully comprehend everything they said as if it were perfect Romani.

I remember being shocked at the realization that it was very likely that my Swiss ancestors were likely Italian and managed to lie to get around the over-subscribed quotas of the late 1800's. I remember thinking that it was amazing that their self-indoctrination against embracing their Italian heritage was so strong that my Dad never considered that his grandmother's Swiss phone conversations sounded much like the Italian he'd heard elsewhere. Or that my Papa, my father's father, didn't know that if I learned WOP, I might be able to speak with his cousins in their native dialect.

But what I hadn't really considered until today, reading Arvay's post about food followed by lucky_girl's post about Japan was the oddly foreign comfort of my time in Italy.

Many people *love* Italy.

But for me, my last visit was like a homecoming of sorts. I just felt as if I belonged in a way that felt wonderful. Strangers would insist that they could see my Sangue Italiani despite my insistance that no, I didn't have any Italian blood. I'd try to say things in this new foreign language and magically, the syllables would roll off my tongue easier than any other language I had ever fallen in love with. Strangers would say things that were oddly constructed, and yet, I immediately saw the beauty in the way they said it and appreciated the gorgeous message of their words.

The men, in their stubborness, their romanticism, their over-exuberance, their exaggeration, and their specific blend of machoism, often reminded me of my father and brother and grandfather and uncles. The food would comfort me (this is probably true for many people). And the frustrations of the day to day life -- they just seemed to be true and unavoidable. Frustrating, yes. But things to endure.

I think, in many ways, I returned from my last and longest, most immersive, trip to Italy able to understand and forgive my father and his family for many of their oddities that I couldn't understand before I went. I was closer to them through their homeland or the homeland of their ancestors, which, for reasons of history or politics, or confusion, they didn't even know belonged to them.

That some not insignificant portion of my identity and my conception of normal is formed by a country I never visited before the age of 19, and that I have maybe spent a total of 3.5 months in, blows my mind.

And yet, if I am honest. It is true.

It is so true, that, unbeknownst to me, despite being raised in a household where no overt effort was made to connect me or teach me to avoid my Italian-based heritage I still sought out my roots in language, in food, in travel and in my husband. Granted, California has a huge influence from Italian culture and no doubt that plays a large role in my decision.

But still, I think it's fascinating and I want to think about it.

And that's why I can't work on my 10-page partnering deal right now.
I heart fall DST

I love waking up to sunshine!

My attitude is easily 40% better than last Monday, all due to the feeling that all is right with the natural world order and I don't have to get up when it's dark.

November 3, 2007

Friday Night Par-tay

One of the biggest bummers about training for a marathon is how much additional sleep you need in the heavy mileage weeks before taper. When you combine last Sunday's 20-miler with mid-week runs of 5 miles and 9 miles, a Halloween get-together one night, and a late night party to celebrate the sale of one of my clients the next, well, let's just say there was no disco ball last night.

I was home by 6 PM. I finished making what E proclaimed the best risotto ever made by 7:30 and we had eaten the entire pan by 8 PM. Immediately, I got horizontal on the couch with reading to deal with the expansion of rice in my stomach -- turns out, there is such a thing as risotto that tastes too good! I had eaten entirely too much (as had E).

By 9 PM, I finally started to recover from the stomach stretching, so I fell asleep, for the second time this week with reading material on my stomach while I lay on the couch under my reading lamp.

E prodded me to bed at 9:30 when it became apparent that my promise to watch a movie with him was quite empty.

I woke this AM at 8:30, rested for the first morning in quite some time.

This undeniable need for sleep is making me seriously reconsider my desire to run a marathon on our next big trip. It takes so much time out of life just to do the required running to train for a marathon. But when you add the required sleep, that's when things really start to have to take a hit.

Of course, it's really only a couple of weeks of the super-long mileage and additional sleep. And they are hard to remember when you cross the finish line.

Today, on my leisurely slow 5 mile run, I remembered the fun of just running to run. Much of the training for a marathon adds a level of discipline that removes some of the joy of just running to run. On the other hand, the discipline often forces me out on my feet to experience joy that I otherwise may have skipped.

In short, I'm reserving my commitment to the race I'd planned for next April 'til after my next Marathon.

October 31, 2007

I'm gonna be a lawyer for halloween

Today, I had a lawyers' lunch of dim sum goodness with 2 other women from law school. After our first year as lawyers, it was pleasant to finally meet up after 6 months of scheduling and hear that we are all doing well in our careers and relatively happy with the decisions we've made.

Anecdotally, I hear that's not the norm for women in their second year of practice in BigLaw. And yet, there we are. We're all happy and we feel lucky.

J travels every other week and lives from 4-star hotels. She travels for pleasure on the weekends between traveling for work. She's taking depositions solo and having a ball. I admire what she's doing but I would be miserable with the demands on my time and the constant time away from home.

T is a completely different story. She never travels. She wishes she did, just a little bit, but other than that, she likes her practice. She loves the control she has over how she gets her job done. She already is being aggressively head-hunted by firms that compete with hers and clearly is on a path for success. But, I think I'd pull out my eyeballs if I had her job because the content she looks at every day just isn't interesting to me.

And then there's me. I do tedious things like review contracts as diligence projects where it's binders upon binders of deals. I look for comma placement. I also advise small start-ups on how to structure their business to increase the value of their IP and avoid the typical pitfalls. Believe it or not, I have fun with the big picture deal structure and client counseling but I also love the tedium of comma placement, liability limitations, warranty disclaimers, and just the general logic puzzle of the world of contracts.

I think the thing we all have in common is that we love the type of law we practice. None of us is thrilled with the lawyer lifestyle. We all wish we could have a little more time and balance. But, we all enjoy the things we do for hours upon hours each week. And, it doesn't hurt that none of us work in environments where assholes run the show. That probably means quite a bit as well.

October 28, 2007


BEA is now the second ex-employer of mine to be put to on its deathbed by a combination of its biggest shareholders working in conjunction with Larry Ellison.

Add a start-up that gave its money back to the investors in 2002 and the sole proprietorship consulting service I briefly ran before shutting operations to take a full-time gig at the other prior employer to be destroyed by Larry and pals.

What do you know, other than the law firm, the only full-time employer I've had since college who is still in a positive trajectory is a small boutique consulting firm that hired me while I was still a student and kept me on full-time after graduation.

Things move very quickly in the valley.

October 27, 2007

Eggsellent Resource

If you are a food nerd, and you love eggs, then you should check out the American Egg Board's eggcyclopedia. (Arvay, I know you love this!)

For example, today I wanted to know how reliable the sell-by dates on egg cartons were because we have two eggs that are fairly old and I wasn't sure I could use 'em for breakfast.

Turns out, there is a 3 digit number on your egg carton that is the pack date. It is the number of the day of the year when your eggs were packed out of 365 (or 366 in leap year, I would assume). If you are lazy, you can use a date calculator and plug in 1/1/07 and the number to figure out what the pack date is on the gregorian calendar.

The eggcyclopedia says that eggs, stored properly, should stay fresh 4 to 5 weeks from the pack date. Guess we'll be going out for brunch.

(As an aside, I've never met a food nerd who didn't love eggs. In fact, I used to not like them, but my love for them has been growing roughly in proportion to my food nerdiness. Souflées, breads, sauce thickeners, soups -- they are just so versatile. Plus, according to folklore, the one hundred folds on a properly trained chef's hat are supposed to represent the 100 ways they know how to prepare an egg. How cool is that?)
Working for Myself

I have to work today. It's Saturday.

As short a time ago as 5 weeks I lived in a world where this was expected and normal. But, as the passage of a short time will do, that life seems far away and now I think it's normal not to have to work on the weekends.

This morning, I woke around 8 AM without an alarm. I was out of my bed and dressed to work-out by 8:30. Now, I'm at my desk, leisurely sifting through mail and getting settled.

I'll be working on the contract I have to turn by 9 AM.

So, basically, I'm starting my Saturday at work roughly around when I start my work-week days at work.

Only I feel so much more relaxed. It *feels* like Saturday. It *feels* like I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and that I'm *choosing* to work. Granted, I am waiting for my treadmill to be delivered and when it arrives, I may opt to use it in the middle of working on my contract. But technically, I always have the choice to restructure my day.

Oddly, this means that I will enjoy working today more than I enjoy working during the week. I remember feeling this Saturday feeling about all the work I had to do for school. I remember feeling this way about running my own business. I even remember feeling this way about various engineering and tech writing jobs I held, at times.

But, there have been other times in my career when I felt pinned down, working for someone else and not myself, and uncomfortable with the lack of control and freedom I had in my performance of the work. Often, I grew out of that feeling as I became more comfortable with how people perceived me and my work, so I felt that it was appropriate to take more liberties with working from home and doing my job for myself, not them.

I'm much more comfortable at the law firm after a full year there. (CAN YOU BELIEVE I'VE BEEN A LAWYER FOR OVER A YEAR?) But I still don't have the feeling of control that I've had at all of my favorite jobs. I wonder if I'll ever have it, or, if the structure of the law firm and billable hours means that it is impossible.

I am more than willing to put up with some short-term discomfort in exchange for the great training and experience I'm getting.

But, this morning's excitement to work solidified it for me: I want my ultimate career, that undefined thing I'm working towards, which I will find myself doing at the very end, to feel like Saturday work every day I'm working.


October 26, 2007

Way... Wha???

I was on the call with our partner and then, out of nowhere, the VP of engineering walks into the room in a Fatsuit.

I thought I had a weird day. But after discussing it, we agreed, E's was weirder.

Halloween is on its way, apparently.

October 21, 2007

Comfort, all around

After a couple of months of much weekend travel and general hecticness, this weekend was a welcome change. We only spent one night away from home, and it was in San Francisco, attending the wedding of a family friend where we had a blast hanging out in a mansion and eating miniature food with brother, sister, and mom and D. The after party was a bit over the top, and even though we were quite the sticks-in-the-mud by comparison and left at 2 AM, this morning was still slow and difficult. Thank goodness for the healing power of Crèpes-a-Go-Go (mmm...nutella strawberry crèpe...).

The next several weekends promise to be even more mellow. In fact, starting tonight, we have twenty-seven nights in a row where we'll be sleeping at home, in our own bed, together.

This means I have time for some comforting lifestyle changes. I'll be doing more shopping for fresh ingredients since I'll have time to use them, there will be more cooking and less eating out, and, after my treadmill arrives (next Saturday! Woo Hoo!), I won't miss any more training runs on my marathon training schedule due to weather and work, which should decrease my stress levels even more. Also, I'm holding out hope that the list of home chores may actually see more things scratched off than added for the first time in a long time.

In celebration of the coming calm, I present tonight's very comforting dinner. Per the norm as of late, there was not enough fresh food available in the house to construct a proper meal from scratch. So, here is the latest in my "use whatever's in the pantry and freezer soup" series. It was surprisingly filling, healthy, and delicious.


-1/2 box farfalline (any small pasta will do)
-2 cans condensed tomato soup
-1 small bag frozen chopped broccoli
-italian spices
-chili garlic paste
-hard cheese for grating
-extra virgin olive oil

1. bring approximately 4 cups water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil with a drizzling of olive oil over the top of the water until the pasta is almost al dente.
2. Add both cans of condensed soup to the water and pasta and bring to a simmer.
3. Add spices and chili garlic paste to taste.
4. Add broccolli and remove from heat. Stir for 5 minutes until brocolli is bright green.
5. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated cheese over the top.

Mmmmm...warm, hearty, and healthy. Enjoy!

October 18, 2007

Jargon Help

So, for those of you who've heard these terms and don't know what they mean, be happy. No one *really* knows what these terms mean. Anyone who claims to is lying because they aren't well-defined terms.

After too many interactions with them, I thought I'd give my favorite examples:

The best of web 2.0:

Is it Christmas? (There's an RSS feed).

The best of web 1.0:

Just Fucking Google it.

And the best of Web 3.0?

Yeah. When I figure out what it represents I'll add a sarcastic example of this one too.

Also, I'm aware that I'm making fun of the valley but I'm also aware that I live in the middle of this ecosystem and it supports me, pays my bills, brings me joy, and more-or-less defines my professional existence. Let me just admit that I'm now home from a weeknight "party" where I ate and drank for free while taking a tour of a data center and schmoozing, and I even (*gasp of embarassment*) handed out a few cards.

I live here. This is my life.

But really? It is a bit silly when we have to start assigning numbers? Non?

October 16, 2007

Slowing Down

After my fourth weekend in a row traveling to a gorgeous race or long run, and a wonderful weekend of hanging out with R and accompanying her on her first half marathon, I'm just exhausted. (For those looking for a beautiful, flat, run along the beach where the organizers give out lots of good schwag, I highly recommend the long beach half or full marathon. The crowd support was less than some races I've run, but it was a very well run race. If you do go, do NOT stay at the Coast Hotel Long Beach, it has walls that magically amplify every nighttime noise so that you will get no sleep the night before the race.)

Friday, I stayed up with E 'til 2 AM, finally getting in some quality time for the first time last week. Unfortunately, I had to wake at 6 AM to get to my flight. Saturday, thanks to the aforementioned hotel from hell, the people in the next room over who spoke in some moon language at approximately the level of a rock concert until midnight and then again starting at 5 AM, and the party in the room above us who threw beer bottles on the ground in front of our room, I woke at least once every hour from 11 PM 'til 5:45 AM. Last night, I put myself to bed at 11 PM despite many things left undone. And, I was still very grumpy at my alarm at 6 AM.

But, I had to get up because I have work that must be done before a 9 AM call and I've got a run to fit in. After all, it's not raining, and I can't look gift weather in the mouth (or however that metaphor would go for weather). And, of course, now that I'm up and annoyed, instead of working, I'm blogging, which makes perfect sense...

Lately, I hate mornings during the week. I detest that I can't just stay in bed with E and sleep in until I'm fully rested. On the weekends, in contrast, I have no difficulty jumping out of bed to go for a long run in the dark, even if it perpetuates the sleep deprivation cycle.

Clearly, subconsciously, something inside of me knows that even though I'm not crazy busy anymore, and I'm just normal lawyer busy, which I enjoy, my job is different from pure pleasure activities and finds it very difficult to cheat my body of sleep to appease work, even when the reason for early waking is the combination of work and running or social obligations for the day.

I'm very much looking forward to this weekend where we're only in San Francisco for one night for a wedding and then the next weekend, where we're home for both nights, and together, with no plans with anyone else for the first time in 2 months.

October 12, 2007

I think I'm going to have to buy a treadmill

This AM's rain and work surprises mean that I am 12 miles short for the week as of right now.

I'll probably try to hit a gym today after work, so that I'll only be 4 miles short by the time the week ends. This will mean I will get home late on the one night this week I'm supposed to hang out with E without distractions.

If I could just go to the garage and bust out my miles any time it was raining, or, better yet, when I got home from work and it was too dark to run safely, I suspect I'd be much better about maintaining my mileage, and, I probably wouldn't feel so frustrated with the effort of balancing my life.

October 10, 2007

Cheater Bolognese

True Bolognese sauce, like most delicious Italian meals, requires at least a day of effort. And it is worth it.

But, for those of us who wish to experience close to the truth for significantly less than a day's effort there are many options.

For example, tonight, E2 and J came for dinner. Like the good lawyer and bad wife that I've been lately, we had nothing to feed guests for dinner. So, we dug into the freezer and defrosted the second half of the frozen gnocchi and we served it with a make-shift bolognese composed of ingredients purchased 2 hours prior to serving alongside blanched asparagus spears. It was quick, easy, and delicious. Amazingly quick, easy, and delicious, if I'm honest. In fact, I often avoid meals of this nature when they might be easier than others for which I opt (Granted, the true effort for the gnocchi had been completed, and we were living off of that glory, but with boxed penne, the sauce still would have been excellent.)

Short-cut faux-bolognese

-1.25 lb lean ground sirloin
-1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
-3 to 8 cloves of garlic, minced
-2 T butter
-dried parsely
-cayenne pepper
-dried chili flakes
-mustard powder
-sea salt
-1 large can stewed tomatoes
-3 small flavorful fall tomatoes from your plant, sliced (okay, so this ingredient is probably unnecessary)
-dried basil (or the real thing, but if so, don't add it 'til the end)
-hard but medium-aged cheese for ribbon grating

1. In a large saucepan or pot, melt the butter and sautée the onions and garlic until clear and fragrant.
2. Add the meat. Stir and cut with the stirring implement until evenly browing.
3. Add spices as you like (we chose oregano, basil, dried parsely, cayenne, dried red pepper, & mustard powder). Stir until evenly absorbed.
4. Add tomatoes, stir and simmer.
5. Finish cooking pasta and remove it and the sauce from heat. After both have cooled slightly, toss the pasta in the sauce pot.
6. Serve immediately. Top with grated cheese.

This meal is guaranteed to make your house smell like amazing Italian food and herbs. It is also guaranteed to taste fabulous. Sure, it's missing long cook times, wine as an ingredient, and all sorts of other stuff (mushrooms!). But I guarantee (again!) -- This is the basics of a good meat sauce. If you like, you can sub in pork, veal, or better yet, add 'em to the mix. But regardless, this is the max bang for the effort you will achieve. And, as an eater, it's delicious.

This is when it gets hard

I was pissed when my alarm went off this AM. There just isn't enough time in my day to sleep, do all of my work, hang out with E, have a social life, keep in touch with my family, and train for my marathon. Something always has to give. Every day.

Yesterday was very well-aligned with my priorities. I fit in my run, a doctor's appointment, lunch with a former colleague, 4 hours of volunteer work, calls with my brother, sister, lucky_girl, and R, a brief chat with E upon my late arrival home, and a full day of work between a couple of hours at home in the AM, a few in the office, and a few more to get almost caught up before midnight.

But, of course, I have to pay for it today. Because when you are a lawyer, often a full day of work isn't sufficient. I had more than a full day's worth of work to do.

After the whirlwind day yesterday, I'm exhausted and hit snooze a couple of times, feeling guilty about it each time -- both because it annoys E and because there's stuff I should be doing. It's raining right now and I'm supposed to do 8 miles this AM. Also, I have work due to a partner this AM that I opted not to do last night at midnight in lieu of sleep before my run.

So, I'll do the work now instead of run in the rain. I'll go to work and eat lunch at my desk (which is a serious sacrifice for me) in the hopes that I can get enough done to get out of the office in time to fit the run in before dark. But, experience has taught me that when I miss the AM run there's at least a 50% chance that the PM run isn't going to happen due to work.

I'm not burnt out right now, at all. I've had a couple of relatively mild work weeks and some relaxing weekends. But now that things are picking up on all fronts (unfortunately, the wonderful lull at work seems to be coming to an end), I'm starting to be frustrated. I just wish I had more time. I find myself thinking, "If only I'd done X then..." But, truly, I feel like I maximize my use of time as well as I can, and it's STILL not good enough.

October 8, 2007

The Tenth Circle

E2 [Curious] -- What are you reading?
BT -- The The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Picoult.
E2 [Even more Curious]-- Is it a *graphic novel*?
BT [laughing] -- Oh, no. One of the main characters is a comic book illustrator. [Holds up pages for E2's view] These are his work...

Leave it to E2 to know the technical term for a book filled with comics.

*Graphic Novel*

Who talks like that?

Well, it would seem that I'm going to have to start.

I could try to explain to you why I couldn't put this book down this weekend.
How my weekend was so fabulous partially because it was interwoven with my enjoyment of this book. How it told a story of such truly good-intentioned, hurt, and flawed humanity that I fell in love with all of the characters and found myself cheering for them individually, even while they took actions that eventually (and predictably) hurt each other.

Or, I could just point you to the reviews:

It's just a great story. AND, it's got cool comic drawings.

What more could you want?

October 7, 2007

Surprising Speed

This weekend, I ran a gorgeous race with E2. I cannot say enough about this beautiful course. Except, of course, that the initial 6 miles uphill, aka the last 6 miles of the marathon are a bit of test, both physically and mentally.

Lucky for me, E2 is a mountain goat in a human's body and all I had to do was keep up 'til the turn around, when it was all down-hill. E2 was with me on my first half marathon and approximately 40% of the "official" races I've run since then, not to mention at least 30% of the long training runs I've done.

So, I feel like I know what to expect out of E2. Imagine my surprise when I looked down at the garmin just before the turn around and realized that E2, who had been setting the pace, had put us in position to clear 2 hours, at above 4,000 feet, at elevation, where the first 6.5 miles were uphill. All of this while she claimed to be having allergy issues, un-trained, and I planned to be lazy.

Yeah, I was shocked too. So much for lazy.

Around 6 miles, I tried to explain her bad-assedness to her, but I suspect it fell upon deaf ears. As I explained what I perceived to be an amazing option for a personal best, she calmly took her elevation-doesn't-phase-me-goat-like gait and rhythmically bounded down the hill.

I followed and enjoyed the faster-than-expected training run for my marathon, the fall colors, the views, and the opportunity to cheer on those behind us, who were many, thanks to E2's goat-like super-powers.

We finished a half at our fastest shared half-marathon time. Just over 2 hours, but if you believe my garmin, we cleared the *true* 13.1 around 2 hours, exactly.

Regardless, I was surprised to find that I finished my fastest shared run with E2 this weekend. That was not my plan. By no means am I complaining. In fact, I'm thankful.

What a great weekend!

October 1, 2007

Some Advice

If you are trying to be supportive of a co-worker's baseball team, and you think it would be a good idea to send a supportive email of congrats when you see their team up 8-6 in the top of the 13th (!) inning, in what must have been an amazing game...

It's probably best to wait to *after* the bottom of the 13th to send the congratulatory email.

That is all.

September 30, 2007

Step Up

This weekend, I ran a 25K with over 2100 feet of elevation change. At 16K, I seriously considered stopping. Stubborn, the "You signed up to do the whole thing" side of me won the fight and I pressed on, crossing into the place where you have to mentally force yourself to do things that your body really doesn't want to do.

It's good practice for life, really.

But, boy am I sore.

And tired.

Regardless, it was a good hurdle to clear. My successful, if slow, completion, confirmed it for me. If I continue to be disciplined, I should be in good enough shape to continue in my plan to complete marathon number 2.

It's official. I am registered to run the oh-so-slightly-downhill California International Marathon.

So, yeah. Expect many posts of long runs. More mileage, more sleep, and, of course, completing the circle, more hunger, which means more food.

And, given that there are only 24 hours in the day, I guess that means I'm gonna have to do less work.

I like it...


September 28, 2007

Survival of the fittest

Sometimes I wonder how certain genetic traits survived in my bloodline 'til now.

For example, I can wear glasses, contacts, and get laser surgery. But my predecessors would have just been blind.

As in too blind to see the Saber Tooth Tiger.

And, of course, I have a ridiculous pain tolerance. Which, I'm certain probably allowed my ancestors to survive many of the injuries they received from stuff they couldn't see.

But, the pain tolerance has drawbacks too. How so? You might ask.

Well, the roof of my mouth is blistered this morning. From the dinner that was too hot to eat. It felt hot in my mouth, but I was very hungry. So, despite E, who I know to be a much better judge of these things saying, "this is too hot to eat," I still shoveled it into my mouth.

Maybe it was my ancestors' uncanny ability to sit close enough to the fire to get burned without realizing it that saved them from the animal attacks and warriors they couldn't see coming.

September 24, 2007

They pull weather

This weekend, E2 and I headed to gorgeous pismo beach for a weekend of relaxation, running, wine tasting, food, and, most importantly for me, visiting my grandma.

First, I'd just like to say that I'm very blessed on the family side of things, and I know it, and I'm very thankful. I had the luck of having healthy progenitors, all in the same state, where I lived, and they all wanted to be a part of my life. I was the oldest grandchild who knew all 4 of her grandparents from birth and I also spent time on a regular basis with two of my great-grandparents, including great grandma Tommy (her last name was Thomas), who with the help of gran feeding her every day, held on 'til the ripe old age of 103 in my early 20's. I still remember asking for time off work to go to her funeral. My boss was so amazed and incredulous at my matter of fact statement of need for emergency family vacation and the reason. It was the first time when I realized that my family's close-knit connection through the generations might not be something everyone else enjoyed. "Your great-grandmother?" "103?" "Really?"

As a child, I was raised to think that vacations meant a visit to each of my grandparents on a regular basis. If not a visit, then an opportunity to meet up with them outside of their hometowns. Occasionally, we might vacation without grandparents, but that was only after we'd spent enough time with them that year that the vacation without them was easy to justify.

These days, as I slowly ease my way into my third decade of life, my grandmother, my father's mother, and the wife to my papa is my sole living grandparent. I know my grandma very well. She's been a major part of my life since my birth. She's a friend that I do my best to call weekly (which, these days, means I speak to her more than the majority of my closest friends) and a root that helps me understand where I come from. She's also a stubborn, hilarious, sharp, but focused (sometimes at the expense of the bigger picture) character of a woman, who, when R met her for the first time, made R say, "Wow. You are so much like your grandma. I now see where so many of your personality qualities that I never saw in either of your parents come from."

I've been very busy with the juggling of the lawyer gig, lately. So much so that I didn't take a proper beach vacation all summer, and I hadn't taken any time to go visit my grandmother since last October. Conveniently, my grandmother lives near one of the most gorgeous beaches in California.

Even more conveniently, E2 was willing to join me for a girls' weekend in Pismo where we fit in lots of grandma time. How great is that? Not only am I blessed on the family spectrum, but I am truly blessed on the friend spectrum. Not a day goes by that I don't feel thankful for my lot in life on the friendship side of things...

So, it was all set. My work week lined up such that I wasn't going to have to work much at all. I even spent most of Friday working from home in prep for my departure.

In fact, the only drawback was the weather., yahoo weather, weatherunderground, all of them, no matter where I looked, they predicted showers on Friday night, well through Saturday morning, and then partly cloudy mild weather for the rest of the weekend. Not exactly the type of weather you hope for to enjoy your one beach vacation weekend of the Summer.

Sure enough, on the drive down, it rained upon us as we inched through stagnant traffic in our fight to get South. After several hours too many, we admitted defeat, and stopped for a delicious dinner at Buona Tavola, a delicious Italian restaurant with true light, flavorful, but healthy Italian options (the soup of the day of puréed roasted bell peppers was delicious), which fueled us for the remaining 40 minutes of the drive so we could check in at 11:30 and fall asleep under the light rain.

Saturday morning, I woke to the Sun streaming through the window. There was some cloud cover, but no one would even begin to suspect it of rain. E2 and I took a quick survey and decided that despite the original plan of a run through the Edna Valley wine country, a run along the beach was just what the doctor ordered.

We were greeted by a rainbow cascading through the clouds into the the ocean over the cliff upon which our hotel was perched. And it only improved from there. We talked and laughed and lazily jogged our way through the 10 miles we needed to complete as we crossed through town, through the the Pismo Beach State Park campground trail, and then further through the Northbeach Campground along the raised planks through the dunes and through the Monarch Butterfly grove. At 10:30, we arrived back at the hotel to a clear blue sky and temperatures around 70F -- it was enough to feel hot and make us happy that we had gotten some sun and started your run before lunch, but it was pleasant, not painful, and beautiful.

Tan, relaxed, and post-shower, E2 and I picked up gran for a post-run brunch at IHOP. That's right. I went to IHOP. I also ate so much that I was almost ill.

Oh, and I enjoyed it so much that I'm blogging about it. Not just gran, for whom I'd eat sand. I'm talking about the food as well. I actually loved my meal at IHOP. The corncakes were shockingly addictive, particularly given that I didn't expect to like them at all... Yeah, I guess when they say that old people know all the good stuff, they aren't lying. 'Cause damn does Gran love her some IHOP.

Anyways, the rest of the weekend was equally fabulous. We visited my uncle and aunt and raved at their overgrown tomato-vine mound. I tried to hide my jealousy. The jealously slowly dissolved as E2 and I spent some quality time at Wolff Vineyards, enjoying the tasting and the view, and then later, at Per Bacco, who, by the way, are my latest pick for undervalued amazing California winery of the year. E2 and I enjoyed a lazy walk on the beach, followed by a glass of wine, an embarrassing moment of not having enough cash and a delicious Cioppino dinner at the Pelican Point. The next day, we took gran to champagne brunch at The Spirit of San Luis. If you haven't sought out a champagne brunch at the airport before you drive home... well, you're missing out.

Anyways, it was a perfect weekend. I got to hear the surf. I cried. I slept hours upon hours. I read. I ate. I drank. I spent tons of quality time with E2, some of which she probably found boring, but was much too polite to let on. And, of course, I made my gran's month.

And there, my friends, lies the title to this post.

Because when Gran asked about our run and I expressed surprise that it was so gorgeous, and in particular that the rainbow was there, she smiled and said, "Well, of course. That's because you had people pulling for you."

I got the chills.

I remembered how Gran spoke with utmost confidence about the weather on the day of my wedding. She promised that Papa would make it a gorgeous day. He was a farmer, after all, she was certain that the first powers that be he'd square up with upon arriving in the after life would be those associated with weather.

Sure enough, my wedding day was the one day of no rain that month.

And sure enough, this weekend, Papa and Daddy pulled weather.

As soon as she said it, I knew. I knew they were glad I'd gone. I knew they knew the sacrifice I'd made, leaving E for the weekend and possibly risking not being able to work on a deal. But it was important, and they approved of my priorities and wanted to encourage me to make more trips by rewarding me with amazing running and relaxation weather.

So, given that it was a running/family combo weekend, I am choosing to adopt my wise, old gran's viewpoint.

As she said, Papa and daddy pulled weather this weekend. They trumped the predicitions so E2 and I could have a great run and know that they appreciated our visit.

Oh, and it rained at home. Just in case I thought the point wasn't strong enough. Had I not gone, I would have been grumpy at the weather.

Now, I can't wait for my gorgeous Christmas break runs in Pismo -- after all, I'm orchestrating the attendance of my side -- that's got to be worth a few degrees of running comfort in Fahrenheit, right?
Odds & Ends

I finally got around to updating my links. If you'd like to be added, drop a line in the comments.

Last night, while playing soccer, I fell and sprained my ring finger. An intelligent person would have removed her rings before sleep. I did not. Instead I woke to see that it was very swollen. Like fatty-fat-fat sausage. I spent about 4 hours this morning icing and compressing my finger to get the swelling to go down to the point where I could get my rings off.

The good news is, I'm working from home today. So, yes, my finger hurts and it hurts to type, but I'm still in my pajamas.

Back to the grind.

September 19, 2007

Summer Pasta Salad (Fava, Tomatoes, Feta)

Yes, Yes, I know I claimed it was Fall, but I love summer. And Monday, I left work in time to visit our local European open air market, which, like a good European market, typically closes before I can get off work. Feeling like I was on vacation due to the early departure from the office, I saw fresh summer produce, and I could not resist.

So, I recommend this salad for a healthy Summer treat. Or early Fall, when you wish it was still Summer, and you need to consume healthy foods to compensate for Summer. The trick, of course, is finding Fava Beans that are worthy of purchase. Also, who knew about the L-Dopa in fava beans? Crazy.

-2 lbs fava beans, shelled.
-1/2 bunch parsely
-3 cloves garlic
-1/2 lemon, juiced
-1 lb assorted cherry tomatoes (4 cups or so?)
-1/2 box of penne
-olive oil
-black pepper
-1 in X 1 in X 2 in of feta

1. Place a pot of water and much salt over high heat. Boil shelled beans for 3-4 minutes, 'til outer skin is white.
2. Drain water and allow beans to cool 'til they are able to be handled.
3. Replace water, add 1 t. salt and bring to a boil. Add penne and stir occasionally during the following steps 'til al dente, then remove and cover with cold water.
4. Peel the skin from the beans (rip the smooth end and squeeze each bean from the growth end out).
3. In a cuisinart, pulse olive oil (3 times around the bowl) and parsely 'til well blended. Add lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 T black pepper (or more to taste) & fava beans and process on high 'til it's a nice bright green paste.
4. Mix green paste with halved tomatoes.
5. Spoon one-half of the penne into two bowls.
6. Top each penne portion with 1/2 of the tomatoes and green sauce.
7. Crumble 1/2 of the feta over the top of each bowl for a colorful presentation of the last bits of summer.


September 17, 2007

Mushroom Farfalline

A mid-September weekend trip to the farmer's market in Northern California is an overwhelming, glorious painting of bright colors, shapes, smells, and tastes (free samples!) that divides the world for me into crates upon crates of food I wish I could but most certainly will not have time to prepare before the harvest is over and the few things that I shall buy and try to use in meals.

Predictably, I bought over 3 pounds of tomatoes, despite a very functional tomato plant (Woo hoo! I didn't kill it! And it's a very flavorful plant, although it's not the black krim I thought I planted, but, after looking at other photos, I must admit, it likely is a black krim of sorts. Regardless, it produces delicious fruit, even if they are a bit prone to cracking.)

But, tonight, in the last un-healthy night of the week before a return to another stretch of recovery from Summer days, I opted for non-tomato comfort food. I left work at 5 PM tonight. Another deal closed before 6 PM. Anxiously, after the silly salad of lunch, I hungrily waited E's arrival home from work 'til 6:55, when I finally called, only to have him inform me that he was 5 minutes away. If only I could have exercised another 5 minutes of restraint... but alas. I could not. I suspect many pieces of history have been changed due to inability to wait for food. Another day...

Upon his arrival, after a brief discussion, we agreed to eat at home, and fast. So, I put the 2 handfuls of tree oyster mushrooms that I couldn't resist at the farmer's market and half a portion of ewephoria (I know, I know, the name simultaneously hurts and pleases me too...) in our kitchen to excellent use.

If, as a child you loved mac-and-cheese, and you are looking for a filling, not overly rich, but rich enough to feel devilish and indulgent pasta dish, I recommend this one.

-1/2 box barilla farfalline (any small but not super-small soup-shape pasta will do, something between macaroni and orzo would be my recommendation)
-1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
-2 T butter
-2 handfuls mushrooms, finely chopped (I suspect more would have been fine, this was pleasantly mushroomy, but had plenty of room for more mushroom flavor)
-1 box beef broth (obviously, veggie broth will work, but will probably be less satisfying)
-1/4 cup chopped cheese for melting (I used ewephoria, but I suspect any good melting cheese would do)
-dried aged cheese for grating (parmigiano reggiano was the choice, but any hard aged cheese that can be easily grated on a ribbon grater will be fine)
-black pepper, at the table
-truffle oil, if you have it, for topping

1. Heat casserole pan. Melt butter on medium heat 'til it starts to foam. Add onions and simmer for a minute or two.
2. Add mushrooms. Cook 'til butter is almost entirely absorbed.
3. Add box of broth, bring to a boil.
4. Add pasta. Boil and stir 'til the pasta is al dente and the broth is almost cooked down to a spoonable sauce (close to 10 minutes for the farfalline despite the box's 6 minute cooking time).
5. Turn off heat, continue to stir as the broth steams away.
6. Add chopped cheese, stir until melted throughout.
7. Spoon into two huge helpings and spoon the few remaining teaspoons of sauce over the top.
8. Top servings with ribbon-grated grated dry-aged cheese. Drizzle with truffle oil. Allow to cool in the serving dishes for 7-10 minutes while cheese melts and the remaining liquid is absorbed and condenses into a sauce.
8. Enjoy with black pepper to taste.

Basically, it's a gourmet mac-and-cheese with some mushrooms and onions to boot. Like I said, comfort food.

September 16, 2007

An almost perfect Saturday

Get up at 7:30. Drink some coffee. Run a slow but steady 14 miles with B. Enjoy the sun, the tour of the local towns, and finish, feeling great.

Shower. The post-long-run shower is truly one of the greatest things in the world. Ahhhh...

Lunch with E at a local diner. Cheeseburger with garlic fries. Tons of diet coke. A glass of white wine.


Wake to go to the grocery store and collect the ingredients for a long, slow, home-cooked meal.

Spend the better part of 4 hours cooking, mainly making acorn squash, sweet dumpling squash, potato gnocchi.

Prep the vegetables by washing and piercing. Bake the vegetables. Peel the vegetables. Rice the vegetables. Kneed the vegetables with flour until they are the right consistency. Roll out the dough into tubes. Roll the tubes into snakes. Cut the snakes into gnocchi. Boil the gnocchi a few at a time (lucky_girl helped with that one).

It's a long, repetitive, labor-intensive process. It's also an awesome opportunity to meditate, daydream, and mentally relax. I found myself free-associating for hours. At one point I cried at the strength of the memory of my dad in the ICU before my wedding.

Then, lucky_girl and hubby arrived to enjoy (and boy did they, I love feeding lucky_girl, she's so verbally appreciative!) the fruits of my labor.

We (me, E, lucky_girl & hubby) sat at the table for hours, enjoying wine, the delicious asparagus salad that she brought (mmm...asparagus, cranberries, and goat cheese), the gnocchi topped in a sauce of home-grown tomatoes (supplemented by some store-bought heirlooms), home-grown basil, sage in browned butter, and, of course, bacon.

For dessert, we had fresh-baked peanut butter cookies with Vin Santo.

Then tea, and a long lazy evening of socializing including the South Park episode of "Smug" and chatting on the couch as I dozed off.

Comfortable. Relaxed. Unhurried. And, you might note, not a single mention of work.

I can't remember the last time I had such a wonderfully lazy home-bound Saturday. Sadly, after checking my calendar, I can confirm that it has been at least 10 months, more than likely much longer. Perhaps I shall try to make it less than 6 months before the next one.

September 12, 2007

Seasons Change

You may think that the equinox decides when Fall truly begins (in which case, we'd be in Summer 'til September 21).

I do not. I think Fall is a feeling in the air. For example, most of my vacations feel like Summer, even if I take them during Winter.

Last weekend, on our long run, A pointed out that leaves were turning. Last night, E and I walked to downtown and needed jackets. This morning, when I woke for my run, it was dark. Also, we are eating healthy freshly-harvested food in the form of soup and practicing restraint against the overindulgence of Summer.

As far as I'm concerned, it is officially Fall. And, that means I can't wait to go to the Farmer's market this weekend to enjoy the harvest. Mmmmm, Mmmm.

Off to run.

September 10, 2007


Tonight, when unloading the dishwasher, E noticed that the silverware partition didn't contain a single fork.

That's right folks, it's summer recovery healthy time. And, when you're short on time, it's hard to come up with healthier food than soup. We did a vegetable stew that we enjoyed for dinner last Thursday and Friday. Tonight we enjoyed potato leek soup.

But Saturday and Sunday were the real crowning achievement thus far. Saturday, as a break from my long day of work, we went to the grocery store and found ourselves in front of the chile selection.

In our exuberance, we probably over did it. Our modified version of E's mom's gazpacho was lightly irritating on the gastric system, if I'm honest. It's delicious, but it's not much more than pureed fiber, some oil, and some chile irritants. If we weren't such hippy-haters, we'd probably refer to this soup as part of our 2-week "cleanse" since we ate it for dinner, lunch, and dinner over the weekend and it did function much like a "cleanse." But that sounds gross, doesn't it? As you know, dieting, I'm against for philosophical and psychological reasons. But referring to a food menu as "cleanse" just sounds so... I don't know, DISGUSTING!!!

So, if you aren't looking for a meal that'll modify the balance of your inner flora and fauna or you don't love the top of the Scoville scale, you should cut back on a few of the chiles. I know we will next time. Regardless, this combination of fresh veggies in a chilled bowl is one of the best ways to enjoy end-of-summer produce and our mistake didn't keep us from enjoying every last spoonful.

Super Spicy Gazpacho

2 yellow chili peppers
3 habaneros
1 green bell pepper
2 peeled cucumbers
4 stalks celery
1 huge heirloom tomato
1 box pomi chopped tomatoes
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1 can vegetable broth (half a box)
6 T bread crumbs
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

1. Wash all ingredients.
2. Chop cucumbers and onions on pulse in the cuisinart 'til in evenly diced. Spoon into the bottom of a large bowl.
3. Chop all peppers on pulse 'til small even pieces. Spoon into the bowl.
4. Puree garlic, lemon, olive oil, bread crumbs and celery into a paste. Spoon into the bowl.
5. Chop tomato on pulse 'til slushy, add pomi and pulse a few brief times. Pour into the bowl.
6. Stir in broth and mix until even.

Serve immediately and chilled until it is gone. Makes an excellent side dish to a baguette with some sliced avocado and cheese.

September 8, 2007

Culture Clash

When it comes to food, I was a stereotypical American this summer. You know, just always on board for too much.

In addition to too much work, this summer involved too much bacon (thanks to the bacon of the month club), too much steak (barbeque season will do that), too much wine, and even too much dessert (which should give some perspective because given a choice, I'll take more savory food over dessert almost any day).

I don't mind, really. After all, I am American. And I do enjoy summer celebrations with excessive hedonism just as much as my nearest countrywoman. Our excessive exuberance is one of our more distinctive and wonderful qualities. In fact, I had an awesome Summer.

But, ever since learning to love and relate to food in non-American ways (mainly in France and Italy), I've generally tried to embrace some non-stereotypically American lifestyle and cultural realities with respect to food. (If I am to be fair, I should point out that California, and in particular, the bay area, has evolved quite a bit in the last 20 years, such that California's default approach to food is significantly different than the American farm-and-famine-influenced approach to food under which I was raised.)

For example, I insist on enjoying food, both cooking and eating it (although I really should slow down when I eat). I prefer to make all homemade meals from fresh ingredients and do my best to do so.

Also, I refuse to diet. After years of being surrounded by eating disorders, more than likely having one in my teens, and being raised by a constantly dieting mom, I associate dieting with psychological issues, I don't think it's healthy, sustainable, and, most importantly, it's just not fun, or fun to be around.

I also refuse to flip out about an oscillating scale read-out. After college sports, for a few years, I revolted and refused to step on a scale outside of the doctor's office. Finally, after a particularly nasty 'bout with some stress-related illnesses, I returned to the gym as a way to manage my stress.

With the gym came access to a scale, and since about 25 or so, I've taken the approach of identifying a 10-lb range that I felt was relatively healthy and doing my best to stay in it. Initially, I just weighed myself at the gym once a week or so and if I had popped out of the high side, I'd bear that in mind while making work-out and menu decisions until I popped back under. It usually only took a week or two to get myself back into the range where I felt comfortable. I didn't ever think about what I ate other than, am I getting enough nutrients? And, is this good for me?

Over the last 5-6 years, the 10-pound range that I consider healthy has slowly moved downward. If I don't touch the top 5 pounds in the range and occasionally slip under the bottom for 6 months or so, I'll just reset the range. I attribute this downward evolution to a combination of several things: 1) I started running more regularly first year of law school, which is an activity that pushes bodies towards a lower total mass, 2) I had a ton of muscle from 15-20 years of muscle-intensive sports, and over time, I slowly lost most of it due to non-use, and 3) I have lost chunks of weight due to distress (gastrointestinal illness, stress) at various points over the last half decade, and since, outside of summer, I tend to live a relatively calorically balanced lifestyle, I've just kept the non-water-based portions of those chunks off, while realizing that the pounds associated with those chunks were likely former muscle, which, probably needed to go since it no longer did me any good (but thank goodness I had it to lose in the face of the distress!).

It's the clash of my personal non-American approach to food and body image with this year's American Summer that leads me to my current dilema. Generally, according to my typical pattern, I'll pop outside of my healthy 10-lb range about 3 times a year. After the winter holidays I tend to pop out, but I generally drop back down and oscillate within the middle of the range 'til late spring, at which point I'm generally at a low point just in time for Summer, when I steadily climb my way up to pop out after Labor Day, only to fall back down in fall to what is generally the lowest numbers of the year (mmm...healthy harvest food) in time to prep for the winter holiday ramp-up. But this summer, if I'm honest with myself, I cleared the high-mark in June, after Vancouver, in July, after a couple consecutive weeks of debauchery, and again at the end of August, which just stayed with me through the fabulous weekend of home-made ice cream over Labor day (4 servings of ice cream in four days!!!! Delicious!).

This conflict is simple. Either, due to being in my thirties my healthy 10-lb range has actually moved upward for the first time in at least half a decade. Or, once I return to the healthy 10-lb range that has stuck for the last two years, I should face the fact that a truly American summer is not healthy and I should be a bit more European next year.

Rock and a hard place, I tell you. Both are completely rational, reasonable conclusions. Accepting either one means accepting a reality I won't like.

I think I know the truth. I think, in my heart of hearts, I know that the numbers of my 10-pound range are and my American Summer isn't healthy. At least for my body. But part of me thinks that conscious restraint in favor of a weight range is actually bad. That I should live heartily, vivaciously, and fully when the opportunity presents itself, and if that means being somewhat weight unhealthy one season a year, then good for me, because my mental health is more important. That part of me also asks, "What's the point of having a body if you don't use it to its fullest?"

But, the reality is, if I embrace the American Summer at it's fullest, I'm going to also have to accept that what I'll be doing will be close to dieting in order to return to the middle of the 10-pound range at Summer's end. And, as I said, I refuse to diet.

So, there's a cultural show-down going on within me right now. The American within me craves life at its brightest, knowing it could be extinguished at any point. The European in me wishes for a more even-keel warm light, one that doesn't come with sharp darkness as its price because the fuel is spent before the lamp is refilled.

Perhaps, this is aging. Maybe truly American Summers are only for the young and exuberant and those of us who are more mature should settle into a slower-paced pleasant Euro-American Summer?

Regardless, E and I are in our traditional post-summer 2-week psuedo-lent right now. No alcohol. Healthy home-cooked vegetarian meals. Lots of sleep. Yoga. Running. Biking. I suspect I should wait 'til we return to our ordinary lifestyle before I resolve this cultural conflict.