July 31, 2007

That's what I get

I am still *very* sore from Sunday's half marathon.

I was probably in good enough shape to comfortably keep a 9:30 pace. Instead, thanks to Rachel, I kept just a few seconds faster than a 9:00 pace.

It felt good to push my body beyond what it felt comfortable doing. I felt young, strong, and proud.

Now, however, I feel old and in pain. Those 30 seconds per mile total only 6:33 in total time. But boy do those minutes matter.

I think I will replace this morning's run with composing this post and yoga.

Mind you, this means I'm basically skipping my very first run on the training schedule I made myself for some gorgeous fall long runs, culminating in another marathon.

If any of those runs look fun to you, lemme know, I always love to have company at the start, finish, etc. and I'll cheer for you if I see you, regardless of whether you leave me behind, keep my pace, or run a more zenlike pace than I do (which, I can attest, will lead to less pain in the quads and hamstrings).

July 29, 2007

In my thirties

Several people this weekend informed me that now that I'm 31, I'm "in my thirties."

Who knew?

Apparently, 30, isn't 30's.

To celebrate, I did a few things.

First, I threw a fit and blamed E for my missing passport. Then I realized I was just transferring my lost passport to the reality of my lost dad and felt sheepish. Yes, a lost passport is a pain in the ass, but it's nothing compared to the pain of the reality that Dad's not gonna call this birthday.

So, I turned off my phone.

Oddly, it made it all better. After a fabulous birthday dinner and before an early bedtime, I checked my messages. I felt loved. I called them all back the next day when I was in a better mood.

In fact, the only soul who had to deal with me in my funk was E.

Saintly, that boy is.

In other news, I love the Cliff Bar Pace Team. Especially Rachel.

Due to Rachel's cajoling, conversation, encouragement, and will, I took my under-trained body on a less than 2-hours half marathon course despite being in sub-par shape and a pre-race dinner of a full four courses of amazing, decadent Italian food (with 4 cheese selections as dessert) plus imported and decanted wine at Acquarello. The servers and owners were willing to speak about food and share tidbits that were extra little birthday presents: the introduction to Gattinara, the queen to the king of Barolo and prince of Barbaresco, and the knowledge that the good Burrata arrives at A.G. Ferrari every other Saturday.

I wouldn't change any of it for the world, it was a perfect Birthday Weekend. (Rachel, Good luck with your book and I hope to see you again, soon!)

There is nothing like living it up before crossing the finish line with a nice time to make you feel young on your birthday. Plus, today, I called and visited those who'd contacted me in the last 2 days regarding my birthday. Because, predictably, I was over my funk.

At least for the meanwhile.

July 25, 2007


Last night was designated healthy night #2 for the week.

E and I generally do two healthy nights a week. Mellow night together at home. Light food. No alcohol. One with yoga, the other with sit-ups and push-ups if we motivate, otherwise, just light food. Both nights focus on an attempt at early sleep.

Monday was healthy night #1. Predictably, I was late leaving work, so I pulled one of my favorite tricks and made a quick detour to our local market/deli where I scored a 1/2 pint of marinated beets, onions, and parsely plus a couple of ciabatta roles. At home, quickly, we composed a dinner of washed and ripped dark leafy greens topped with the beet mixture, some good olive oil, and bread on the side. Also predictably, we skipped the calisthenics.

Mmmm.... delicious *and* relaxing.

Last night was supposed to be healthy night #2 for the week.

I planned to use the remainder of the greens, topped with fresh basil from my plant, red onions, various hard cheese shavings, and some balsamic and olive oil. Again, I planned to serve bread on the side, only this time, heated in the oven from the freezer.

I arrived home, pre-heated the oven, placed the frozen bread on the stove, and unwrapped the lettuce, which I had wrapped in paper towels after washing it the day prior.

The first leaf, I tore into small pieces and split evenly between our bowls. The second leaf, however, appeared to have some dirt on it. So, I brushed it off with the paper towel, wondering how the washing I had given the lettuce had missed such large dirt chunks. I ripped that leaf into chunks as well.

Leaf 3, however, was *very* dirty.

Oh. Wait a minute. That's not dirt. That's larvae.

I peeled back the inner leaves to reveal a veritable colony of eggs and flies.


Not quite as disgusting as the Great Grain Moth Debacle.

But certainly disgusting enough to make a person not feel like being remotely healthy.

So, we did what you'd expect, we rescheduled healthy/yoga night (because there was no other light food in the house) and went out for Mexican food and margaritas (to kill the bugs we ate last night, you see...) instead.

July 23, 2007

Big Week

For those of you taking the California bar this week, I wish you all the best. It is my opinion that it's not a test of law at all, but rather a test of composure and performance under stress. So, if you get stuck, I suggest you remind yourself that you have exactly two jobs while you are in that oh-so-comfortable seat, surrounded by stress-cadets:

breath and type (or write)

That's it. If you do that, and you know a bit of law (which you probably do, since you probably totally over-studied), you will be fine.

Over here in lawyer land, I'll be going through a similar exercise. I am pretty sure that I have more work lined up for the next 5 days than I have for any week thus far as a lawyer, except, maybe, during the 18-days-straight-on-the-merger-from-hell.

This time, I helped create my situation by insisting that I get a weekend. I needed it. Particularly, because I needed to be with my sister and brother (and niece!) for a day of remembrance of dad in preparation for the sad reality of the one year anniversary of his death. I did no work yesterday. Instead, I woke early, showered at brother's, went to the grocery store and bought roses for dad (and a balloon for my niece), and went to the cemetery.

The cemetery we chose is gorgeous. Up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, surrounded by trees and under a perfect blue sky, we hugged and cried and told stories of our favorite memories of dad. We left the roses (sister brought some too) and the balloon amongst the more permanent items that people have left.

I felt such a sense of relief after my tears fell. I'm glad we decided to do this ceremony of sorts before the actual anniversary. I feel more prepared to handle what will undoubtedly be a sad, sad, day.

After our shared sadness, we shared food and a beer at dad's favorite deli. We languished in the heat. We visited our mother at her new house and I smiled while brother and niece swam in the pool, playing childhood summer water games.

After the long drive home, I couldn't bring myself to work. I was exhausted from a weekend of recruiting events and emotional release.

Instead, I read the binders of recipes I got from my mom containing recipes my grandmother had collected over the years. What gems! Then, I had a nice long phone conversation with jaykay while I cooked dinner, a luxury in which I hadn't indulged in a very long time.

For dinner, I created a delicious spicy-bacon-swiss risotto. Not exactly healthy, but I figured I needed the wife points for the week that's in the pipeline. It was delicious and E finished the whole pan with gusto.

I was asleep before 10 PM.

And now, my friends, I'm preparing for the week of battle. I suspect I'll have 5 *very* long days. My non-law goals for the next 5 days are: 1) to still fit in my taper runs before next week's race; 2) to be present and not distracted with E for at least 30 minutes each day; and 3) to get enough sleep.

Wish me luck.

July 16, 2007

A tale of two cookings

My weekend of relaxation and less than one hour of work involved much food, as you would expect. There was the walk to mediterranean food for Friday night date night, which supplanted the 6 mile run that was scheduled. Then there was the Saturday brunch of bacon, bean sprout, red pepper, cucumber, green curry salad. It was delicious, and it utilized some of the latest, inspiring bacon shipment (mmmm... pepper bacon). It wasn't too heavy, so we were able to strike out on a 6 mile bike ride (it should have been longer, but the wind, and the laziness... how can you fight it?)

The salad & bike-ride combo also left us hungry for a big caloric dinner. And thus, at 8 PM or so, we headed to our local Mexican joint for Saturday night dinner. 2 baskets of chips later, my food finally arrived. Let's just say I finished my mole enchiladas with pleasure, and I was sufficiently carbo-loaded for Sunday's run.

Sunday, I woke at 8 AM and knew I should leave immediately. It was going to be hot, you see. But, instead, I checked my work email, I reviewed a client request, I checked my personal email, and the next thing I knew, it was 8:30. Quickly, I snuck into the bedroom, kissed E goodbye, told him I'd be back before 11:00 AM and headed out for my slow 12 miler. It was the slowest and most enjoyable walk-breaks 12-miles I've ever done. (Hey, sometimes, you've just got to put in the miles as prep, and as we know, I've signed up for the SF 2nd half, so, I don't really have much of a choice if I actually want to enjoy the race.) From there, I headed to the local farmer's market...

Sunday night, after a day with the girls (starting with a brunch of multiple types of the best kinds of pork buns, and finishing with a day at the spa and a large group at a Vietnamese fusion joint), I was ready to go back to a day of light food.

Healthy, but delicious. I vaguely recalled that those adjectives could jointly be a reality. My scale, of course, couldn't recall this. Instead, it registered numbers that I hadn't seen since returning from the holidays in Atlanta.


In recognition of this reality, I present two recipes: the first, a very healthy filling recipe; the second, a not-so-healthy, but fairly light, make-shift dessert recipe (which, btw, E thinks is disgusting).

Healthy squash fajitas

-1 yellow long squash, sliced in 1/2 cm long slices
-1 yellow spherical squash, sliced in 1/2 cm wide slices
-1 green spherical squash, sliced in 1/2 cm wide slices
-1/2 white/yellow onion, sliced in 1/2 cm wide rings
-olive oil, for cooking
-italian seasoning (marjoram, oregano, etc.)
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-chili powder
-cayenne pepper
-salt and pepper to taste;
-corn tortillas, warmed/steamed in microwave.

1. toss all ingredients except tortillas in a glass casserole pan at room temperature until evenly coated.
2. lay coated squash and onion slices across the grill (panini grill, charcoal grill, grill pan over high heat).
3. When cooked through with dark brown lines across each one (turn, if necessary), transfer squash and onion to a glass serving dish, cover, and bring to the table.
4. Cover 2-3 tortillas per person served in microwave with a towel that has been wetted. Microwave on high for 40 seconds.
5. Serve tortillas garnished with squash and onions, sliced cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice, as well as your favorite salsa.

I will admit, it was one of the more simultaneously delicious and filling meals I've ever enjoyed, and it's well worth the effort, especially if you are high on the comfort zone of weight...

And, for the sake of equal opportunity presentation...


1. Take 2 corn tortillas. Place in a wet cloth napkin, wrap evenly, toss in the microwave, for 30 second.
2. Remove tortillas. Lay out one tortilla and evenly spread dark-chocolate chips for even distribution and cover with the second. Place both tortillas, with choco-chips between in the microwave without cover, microwave on high for 30 seconds.
3. Enjoy.

If you care, FWIW, E loved recipe #1. Recipe #2 surprised and disappointed him. he couldn't believe that my look of pleasure was associated with *that* after he tasted it. To each her own....

And that, my friends, is all she wrote. At least tonight.

July 14, 2007


Things were reasonably calm at work this week. I was somewhat social. If I get off my butt today and tomorrow according to the miles I've scheduled, I'll actually have my second week over 30 miles in a row, which is something that hasn't happened since January (while I was still training for the marathon).

This week, I was feeling like I had things relatively under control. But we kept getting these pesky calls from one of my credit card companies.

I finally called back only to have the bizarre experience of being asked why I underpaid the minimum payment. The call-center guy appeared to find my response of "Oh I must have misread it, why don't I pay the rest and next month's payment right now?" a bit odd. I'm guessing many people claim to have mis-read their bills. But I imagine at least some of 'em read the bill just fine but don't have the cash to correct the mistake.

I ordinarily pay my credit cards off in full. But this one is in a zero percent interest period, so I figure I'm better off paying the minimum payment and throwing my disposable income at debt that's actually accruing interest (non-governmentally subsidized school loans, I'm looking at you!).

But, even though I'm letting the principle sit, I always pay the minimum payment. I usually round up.

Apparently, sometime last month, when I paid this bill, I rounded down.

E says his least favorite thing about me being busy at work is how distracted I am. How without warning, I'll just fall out of a conversation with him. I believed him, because I feel distracted when work is crazy.

But, I didn't realize just *how* distracted I've let it make me.

Mis-reading a bill and underpaying the amount due? That's absurd.

So, I'm got some new goals. I'm going to try to be better about leaving work at work. Or at least leaving it for hours I've consciously allocated to work. Now that I've been at the firm for almost 3/4 of a year (has it already been that long?) I'm starting to feel more comfortable. And I'm going to use that comfort to start reclaiming the bits of my life that I unconsciously lost.

Here's to less distraction.

July 11, 2007


I let it slip today at a firm social event. I flat out said it.

The reality is, my social life and being a lawyer are not able to coexist. So I need to figure out who I want to be, my long term goals, and make a decision between them.

Probably not what you should say at a summer associate event. But none of them heard me. I was commiserating with a fellow member of my team.

I don't think of myself as a particularly social person. But, even so, I am relatively social. I make plans. And, I like to keep them.

Being a lawyer gets in the way of life. Especially if the business you are in is going well at the same time that you are in the traditional ramp-up period. It asks that you reschedule your life around work. It asks that you make sacrifices. It asks that you become someone who places work ahead of at least one of your friends, your family, or your health. The firm, in many ways, would not complain if you put work ahead of all three. The people will tell you to hold your own, and that they don't actually want you to sacrifice all 3, but the messages you receive will occasionally contradict that.

Lately, I've realized that of those three, the first is the one where I'm most willing to budge. If something's got to give, I'll stop being so social. And don't think that makes me very willing--I wouldn't give up my weekly barbeque for bar studies, I was willing to fail the exam before I'd give up my weekly social tradition. Regardless, for me, social life is the first to take the hit, but family and health occasionally also take a hit, even though I guard them with a little more vigilance.

Health, well, it comes in many flavors, non? I'll give an hour of sleep a night or drop my mileage from 20-30 miles per week all the way down to 10-15 before I give up quality time with E. But after a few weeks of low sleep and/or miles, the time with E isn't so quality, 'cause I'm slowly going crazy. I give up yoga night for late night work if it means I'll get date night later in the week, but I can only do it occasionally because lack of yoga starts to hurt after a week or two. Oddly, my eating habits are the one thing that seems to benefit from the lawyer life. The harder I work, the less likely I am to have a heavy lunch, to drink too many calories before bed, or to cook up a heavy delicious meal.

But family? It doesn't come in an easy to sacrifice package. It demands when it feels like it. I very much want to be a good wife. A good sister. A good Aunt. A good daughter. I'll give up my social life, and even some of my health to accomplish this. But what about when the lawyer life conflicts with this one?

For me, when the lawyer life gets in the way of family, that's when I really need to re-evaluate. That's when I have to draw some ugly lines with the comfort that I can't go there, and if that means I get fired, or I'm not considered "partner material" or I'm not going to get a big bonus, that's just fine.

But I'll tell you what.

It's hard.

It's very hard.

I like my job. I like being a lawyer. I like the work. I like the people I work with. I like my social life. I like my health. And I love my family.

Balancing it all has become the focus of this very difficult phase of my life. The only thing I keep telling myself is that it has to get easier. There are people I respect who appear to have good social lives, good health, great family lives and decent careers as lawyers.

The difficult gig is figuring out how to make it work.

July 6, 2007


At the risk of tempting fate, I'm going to just come out and say it:

I think I figured out the secret to arancini di riso.
(It's making a good risotto the day before and forgetting any complicated madness around adding eggs and cheese to "thicken" the mush.)

Wednesday, I made a wonderful risotto from 1/2 a package of this month's bacon shipment, 3/4 of a red onion, 3 cloves of garlic, vialone nano rice, vermouth, chicken broth, beef broth, and a huge bunch of red swiss chard, diced. The onions and chard stems gave a bloodish hue to the concoction, which contrasted nicely with the dark green of the chard leaves.

Thursday, there were leftovers. After fumbling for what I would contribute to barbeque, I remembered my challenge .

So, I hopped in the car and headed to the store for a late-night bread crumbs and safflower oil run. Upon my return, my neighbor knowingly smiled and said, "beer run?" Given my odd compulsion for telling the truth in annoying detail, you can imagine how well that conversation went. Yeah, the neighbors think we're weird.

Anyways, back to the balls.

The risotto from the night before was cold from the overnight in the freezer. I could form perfect spheres between my hands around the cheese chunks without fear of them losing their structure. Now that was more like it. The balls were ready to stay in their shape even *before* frying. A little egg coating. Some bread crumbs. And a few minutes on each side in the safflower oil and I was done.

The only thing I might do differently next time is take the risotto out of the fridge an hour or so before hand so that the cheese is easier to melt in the heat of the medium-hot oil (300F or so), which does not scorch the bread crumbs.

I am pleased to report that my offer of "deep-fried-bacon-rice-cheese ball?" Was not turned down by a single guest at the barbeque. They were a hit. And they were non-exploding finger food. As they were meant to be.


July 4, 2007


A day off in the middle of the week is so civilized, don't you think?

I slept in.

I ran 10 miles for the first time since June 9th. Guess what? It's hot today. And here's another newsflash: I'm a little out of shape. As predicted, my lazy-daze-of-summer program deflated my running fitness. Last weekend, E and I took a gorgeous 16-mile mountain bike ride on the coastal trail, which was fun, and good prep for Tour de Peninsula, but not exactly as demanding as a long run. None-the-less, I woke Sunday morning and convinced myself that the soreness in my legs meant I'd worked them enough for the weekend. I wish I could say that was the only morning in the last month or so where I opted for more time in bed over miles.

So, I've been lazy, I've been working too much, and not exercising as much as I should. I used today's Holiday to get out of that mode, officially, with the first longish run of Summer. It should be interesting to see how much improvement I can make in my 4 week training window for the San Francisco Half.

After the run, and the glorious decadence of the too-long post-run shower, E and I sipped a glass of wine and ate mediteranean food under an umbrella. I jealously observed that the restaurant's tomato plants were bearing fruit while mine has barely begun to flower.

After lunch, we took a brief drive to look at a nearby house that's for sale and discussed the unknown of our future plans.

A drive. A nap. And later today, we're even going to the Kwik-E-Mart.

Sure, I've already worked an hour or so and I have another 2-3 hours to do, but compared to a full work-day, that's nothing. And since we have no plans it's not really that frustrating. I feel quite free. In a perfect world, I could read a pleasure book, or cook something complicated with those hours, but other than those two things, I've had a wonderfully relaxing day: I got my sleep, sun, run, food, and time with E.

If only I could find a way to work a half-day from home *every* Wednesday...

July 1, 2007

Rice Balls! I accept your challenge!

Friday, I made an Italian dinner for friends.

Okay, if I'm to be honest, I should say that I planned the menu for an Italian dinner. But, I didn't have time to prepare it all, so friends came and helped prepare some of it before they ate it.

Lucky_girl took the dough I'd whipped up and made at least two pounds of fettucine with the kitchenaid pasta roller -- her enjoyment was well worth the price of the attachment. The homemade fettucine doused in carbonara made with sausage *and* bacon was the highlight of the meal.

H juiced 10 lemons and 2 oranges for sorbetto that never quite made it to the frozen state. After declaring it a failure, I added half-and-half, continued mixing, and froze it. There is now a very light sorbetto/gelato a limone waiting to be dispensed at barbeque.

For starters, A chatted with me while I deep fried arancini di riso that just wouldn't behave in the least bit. I based my efforts on a recipe I found on the internet which looked reasonable.

Uggghhhh....it was not reasonable at all.

When I took it from the fridge, it was clear that the risotto-like mixture needed to be cooked to a state that would be almost too dry to serve as risotto. I know that the cheese should have melted and the balls shouldn't have fallen apart into a goo-ey risotto-like mess when pierced. I also think the cheese cubes needed to be smaller and that the oil should have been slightly less hot so I could cook them for longer (allowing the cheese to melt) without burning the bread crumbs.

The guests, none of whom had ever had arancini di riso, raved about the weird exploding risotto goo concoctions I made, which I served over a bed of spinach with balsamic on the side for a make-shift salad. They were tasty, but much like tasty gnocchi mush, they were not as intended.

And now, it's personal.

E and I both knew what I had hoped to achieve. Risotto explosion balls were not the point. Good, yes. But not the point.

I shall be attempting arancini di riso repeatedly until I conquer them. As a side note, our marital relationship appears to be running more smoothly after the promise of increased grease, as well.