A case of wuss-itis

According to Ian, that’s what I have.

But yes, after running a grand total of SIX TIMES in the past couple of weeks, I am down for the count. Awesome!

The first four runs were fine, although I realize now that’s probably where I did the damage. Apparently it’s a bad idea to just get out and run, without stretching or caring about footwear or running surface, when you’re 31 years old and not athletic.

After my painful run on Friday, I gave myself some time off (and a new pair of shoes). I thought three days were enough, but apparently not for this old lady. I ran again last night, and while I felt OK after I got going, as I approached 2.5 miles the pain in my left knee started up again so I cut my run short.

My bum kneesI iced my knees for about an hour, but when I woke up this morning I could barely walk. My right knee just feels tight and sore, but I can’t really put any pressure on my left knee without feeling pain. I’ve indicated in the picture where the pain is (on the inside, toward the bottom of the side of the knee), in case there happens to be any orthopedic doctors out there who want to save me some money and diagnose me over the Internet. Bill Frist? You there? Can you see through ice packs?

Anyway, I have several friends who are real runners, and they’ve been pretty supportive via Facebook. It’s been suggested that I don’t see a doctor quite yet; that I give myself one to two weeks off before I start again, and that perhaps having the right shoes will help. So I guess that’s what I’m going to do: Just wait it out. Which sucks, because I have these awesome, comfy brand-new (EXPENSIVE-ASS) shoes that are just going to sit in my closet now.

But I don’t want to mess up my knees for real, so I suppose resting is the best idea.

Seriously though, six runs? What’s the opposite of the Bionic Woman? Because I’m pretty sure that’s who I am.

Running (wo)man

I don’t know if it was the boredom that this summer brought, my hiatus from my “get the hell in shape” plan, or turning 31 and deciding to try something new, but somewhere in the last couple weeks I decided I wanted to start running.

Earlier this spring I had been working out, mainly using the Wii Fit nightly and walking two to three miles about three or four nights a week. While I had gained some weight after becoming vegetarian a year ago, my main goal was to get into shape regardless of the number on the scale. I stuck with it for several months, but then I went on vacation several times this summer and never got back into my routine.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to get back into a routine. Except that instead of sequestering myself upstairs with the Wii, I wanted to spend time outdoors. (Yes, despite the fact that it was 95 degrees at 8 p.m. still.) So I decided maybe I’d take a stab at running. However, knowing myself I knew I’d never get my ass off the couch unless there was some sort of gadgetry involved, so I ordered a Nike+iPod kit, an armband for my Nano and a little pouch to attach the sensor to my shoe and headed out into the neighborhood.

And I promptly almost died of exhaustion.

Now, I’ve never been an athlete. Even in high school when I could run the required miles without stopping, I was never anywhere near the fastest. I never played sports, and I never had any desire to challenge myself physically, except maybe to see how much junk food I could consume in one sitting. So why I thought I could run 2.5 miles without stopping after not having run since high school—at least 13 years ago—is beyond me.

I realized quickly I’d need to do a combo of running and walking if I wanted to make it back to the house alive, and when I did make it back I saw I had racked up a 12:59 mile. Ian laughed his ass off at me (as former marathon runners are wont to do), but the next time I reduced my time to an 11:11 mile. And then I realized I was counting my warm-up and cool-down walks in with my run time, which made me feel a little better.

So this past Friday, after a long and stressful day at work (complete with crying in the bathroom and freaking out the male co-workers), instead of drowning myself in a bottle of wine like usual, I decided to channel my rage into running. And I did. I only improved my time by 7 seconds, but I felt good. My lungs were holding up better, and I ran for an entire block without stopping (this is big for me).

And then my knees gave out.

About 15 minutes after I returned from my run, I could barely walk. Shooting pain on the inside part of my knees and a general stiffness of the kneecap hit, and it was over. I took a shower and wallowed on the couch like an old lady. However, complaining on Facebook doesn’t require kneecaps, and after posting a brief update about my predicament, I had several helpful commenters suggesting I go to a specialty running store to get fitted for shoes.

So Saturday afternoon I took a break from work (have I mentioned it’s been busy lately?) and Ian and I headed over to Fleet Feet to see what was up. I explained my knee insanity to Charles, who kindly did not tell me I was just old and to suck it up. Instead, he measured my feet and analyzed my walk, and it was decided that the root of my knee problem was most likely my old-ass shoes. The shoes I had been running in were about five years old, and while I hadn’t worn them too much, I had worn them enough to break down the cushioning to where they weren’t providing any kind of shock absorption. I wasn’t over-pronating and didn’t have arch collapse or any other big problem, I just needed a neutral pair of running shoes that provided the right kind of cushioning.

I hate to be “that guy”—the one who buys all the fancypants equipment the first day he decides to take up a new sport, but I knew that if I didn’t try something I would just give up. So he brought me a few pairs of moderately priced shoes to try on (both butt-ugly—WTF, running shoes makers? Can you lay off the pastels in women’s running shoes please? Fuck.), and while they were much more comfortable than my current Nikes, I wasn’t totally convinced.

And then he brought out a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus-12. They were a bit more expensive than the others, but as soon as I did my little test-jog in them I knew I had to have them. It was like running on fucking clouds. My knees hurt less jogging in those then they did just standing still on the bare floor.

And of course it rained yesterday, so my knee-saving shoes are still sitting at home in their box, unused. But my knees have had a couple days off, too, and I can actually walk up the stairs without almost dying from the pain, so the break can’t be all bad.

The plan is to start again tonight, slowly and paying attention to the pain. Hopefully the advanced cushioning system and whatever crazy technology is in those things will help. Because I really am not ready to admit I’m too old for the first sports-resembling activity I’ve ever been remotely interested in throughout my entire life.

Pat Robertson is an asshat

First off, for some reason he thinks Murfreesboro, a city with more than 101,000 residents as of the 2009 census, is a “small town.” Murfreesboro is no stranger to the “small town” insult, but generally it’s hurled by Nashvillians pissed off at Rutherford Countians jamming up I-24 with commuting traffic or Vanderbilt alums crabby that MTSU beat them at football again.

Secondly, Robertson has decided that local Muslims could bribe county officials—apparently with $10,000—an insult to both the Muslim community and the local politicians. The Rutherford County mayor recognizes Robertson as a nutjob, saying that his comments “were so ridiculous they do not deserve a response.”

But the best part? Robertson’s worried that “Muslims could end up taking over the city council to pass ordinances that require public prayer and foot washing.”

Oh, you mean how Christians around the country are working on requiring prayer in school, and denying gay people their right to marry and women governance over their own bodies?

Yeah, god forbid we should let one specific religion dictate how the rest of society conducts itself. Oh wait.


Greetings from the Great Subconscious Club

Two days in a row I have had dreams that involved both my father (who I haven’t spoken to in almost a year, and really never spoke to much before that anyway) and some sort of violence or harm to my body.

In Saturday night’s dream, I was in the hospital coming out of the recovery room from surgery. Except I was still bleeding. There was blood everywhere. There was more to the dream, but the part I remember now is when I was taken back into my hospital room, I realized I had a roommate who had already claimed the one hospital bed in the room. So I was going to have to use the pull-out couch as my bed. I got out of my wheelchair and started to pull out the couch when my dad walked in and set an overnight bag down, saying he was going to be staying over and using the couch as his bed. There were other people in the room but I’m not sure who they were, and no one else protested.

I got upset, naturally, and walked across the room and got behind a table that looked like a coffee table you’d find in someone’s house. Once I was behind the table, I turned back to face him and saw he was sitting on the couch, unpacking his bag. He was mad because I had already told him I didn’t want him staying over, and he started to yell at me for not being grateful, not considering his feelings, and for not hugging him.

You know, while I was in the hospital, bloody and trying to recover from just getting out of surgery.

I exploded in anger. I told him I hadn’t hugged him for years because I never knew if he was going to hug me back or hit me. I yelled all of the things I told him last year in real life about how the abuse—mental and physical—had to stop, and how he needed to get the hell out of my hospital room because he was the last person who deserved to be there.

And then I woke up. Later that day, as Ian and I were vacuuming the stairs, out of nowhere I felt a pang of sadness for my father. I immediately flashed back to the dream and thought, “In a way, I really pity him.” And then the feeling vanished and I went about my business.

Sunday night the dream was much shorter, or maybe I just remember less of it. I was standing in the backyard of a shitty apartment building, and I think it was supposed to be my dad’s cousin’s house in Chicago, at least the place she lived when I was still living at home. It was one of those places where there are small apartment buildings side-by-side and all of the backyards are right next to each other and back up to an alley, and they all have clothes lines and rusted pieces of cars and random shit littered about. I was standing at the edge of the yard, right outside of the back door of the building, and my dad was standing near two sawhorses he had set up. On the sawhorses were neatly arranged stacks of pieces of my body, which he had methodically chopped up and arranged for easy packing.

The thing is, I wasn’t upset that he had chopped up my body, or that he was probably the one who killed me. Those things didn’t matter. In the dream, I was upset because even after committing these horrible acts against me, he was planning on using my car to transport my chopped up body to wherever he was going to take it.

I don’t know how I was witnessing this, if I was a ghost or if it was one of those dream-realities where being dead and alive at the same time is perfectly logical, but like the night before I began to yell at him for being so selfish and completely insensitive, even right there in the presence of his own violence. And then I woke up in the middle of the night.

I’m not much of a dream analyst, and I’ll be honest that most of my dreams don’t seem to make any sense or relate to anything or anyone obviously pertinent to my life. And while it’s a bit odd that I would dream of my father now, when I haven’t had any interaction with him or really thought about him in quite some time, I guess in some way my brain is still kind of pissed off at how utterly ridiculous he could be—continues to be—to the point where the physical harm wasn’t even what made me incredulous.

Because in real life, that’s what always messed me up the most. I could process getting hit or slapped or kicked down the stairs. I just never understood the reasons behind it, because there never was a reason. At least not anything that ever made sense to anyone else but him.

The man is just batshit crazy, and I am sure today more than ever that my life is better for cutting him out of it.

What can brown do for me? Apparently nothing since they don’t think my house exists.

Dear UPS:

When someone comes into one of your stores with a package to mail to her sister, someone who she more than likely knows the address of, it is neither correct nor helpful to refer to an old, tattered book and then tell her that not only is she using the wrong ZIP code because her sister’s town only has one (FYI: It has seven), but that she has the entire address wrong because her sister’s street DOESN’T EVEN EXIST. Not only does that insult my sister’s intelligence, it makes me feel homeless. And unless you’re going to recoup the past six years of my mortgage payments from Suntrust for me, that is NOT COOL.

I’m going to go ahead and assume that the UPS clerk my sister had the unfortunate luck of dealing with that day was recovering from a brain aneurysm, because I don’t see how a major shipping company can instruct their clerks to fact-check addresses in a tome that was most likely printed during the height of the Pony Express.

Now, I’ve visited UPS stores before and never had anyone question my recipient’s address, so I’m also going to assume that it is just this particular suburban Chicago location that, for whatever reason, refuses to acknowledge the continued rapid growth of cities across the nation. Growth that yields new neighborhoods, streets and houses—all of which would render this dust-covered address-finding relic unusable and cost-prohibitive to update on any semblence of a regular basis.

All of this, UPS, to say that if my goddamn camera cord doesn’t make it to my house because you forced my sister to put the wrong ZIP code on the package and then tried to shame her into believing that the house she’s visited me in several times doesn’t actually exist, you’re going to have a seriously pissed-off woman on your hands.

Who, according to you, lives on a made-up street in a ZIP code that doesn’t exist. So good luck finding me after I egg your car, fuckface.

UPDATE: The package made it to my house. Consider yourself lucky, UPS.

Happy vege-versary to me

One year ago today, I accidentally became a vegetarian. Now, I consciously made the decision to not eat meat on Aug. 13, but Aug. 10, 2009, was my last day as an official omnivore.

I remember getting to the three month mark and wondering when it would get easier. I remember going to the grocery store and ordering cheese from the deli counter and having intense cravings for a turkey sandwich. I remember driving home from work completely starving for whatever reason and wondering if it would be worth it to throw it all away on a six-piece Chicken McNugget order from McDonald’s.

But then I realized how good I felt. How I wasn’t waking up nauseated every day, and how my digestive system was working normally for what seemed like the first time in my entire life. I gained a few pounds (OK, 13) as I learned not to substitute pasta for the heaviness of meat I was used to, but I dusted off the Wii Fit and walked a few miles a night and got myself back on track.

For the first time in my life, I paid attention to what I ate and where it came from. Cutting out meat not only forced me to eat healthier by default (not too many vegetarian options are available via fast food drive-throughs), but it made me more conscious of my diet in general. And once my eyes were opened to the importance of what kind of food I was putting in my body, I watched Food Inc. and realized that where that food came from was important as well.

So we joined a CSA to ensure the bulk of the food that I ate was grown locally and naturally, and found ourselves in the middle of a culinary adventure that presented us with a mystery box of vegetables each week and we learned to cook things we never even knew existed before (I’m looking at you, kohlrabi).

And here I am, a year later, and it all seems so natural. I still want to cry when I pass a truck of cows or pigs on the interstate, but not out of guilt anymore. And every once in a while, like last week when Ian reheated some barbecued ribs, I’ll wonder if I could just eat meat every once in a while. But then I remember how I have stopped taking both of the stomach medications I had previously taken for almost 12 years, and how much healthier and happier in general I feel, and I know I can’t go back.

I also need to give props to three people here who have been tremendously supportive of my vegetarian endeavor:

  • Ian, for being a meat-and-potatoes guy at heart but still cooking the bulk of my vegetarian meals. I don’t ask him to not eat meat, but he does eat more vegetarian than not at home now. He’s a naturally great cook and has come up with some really tasty ways to cook various vegetables—a feat considering some of the crazy things we’ve gotten in our CSA box.
  • Lesley, for being what essentially feels like my Vegetarian Sponsor. She’s sent me recipes, given me pep talks (and a great cookbook!) and answered countless questions about vegetarian life.
  • Tracie, Ian’s dad’s wife, for accepting my new diet so enthusiastically when she cooks for us at family dinners and always being up for trying out a new recipe (her grilled portabella mushrooms became a fast favorite of mine).

And thanks to all the rest of you who have been supportive, as well as those of you who have made fun of me—both are equally encouraging that I am doing the right thing for myself. :)

When a Facebook page works best: The resolution of my hair dryer saga

I finally got a hold of Susan Bloch from Conair, in my ongoing attempt to rectify the whole hair-dryers-crapping-out-on-me situation. She was very helpful, agreeing that a hair dryer shouldn’t stop working after just a year or so, and noted the company’s three year warranty.

She told me to box up the two of the three bum dryers I still had in my possession, as she was going to arrange for UPS to pick them up. And then Conair was going to send me two brand-new replacement dryers. Awesome.

I had to talk to someone else in customer service to give my story once again and provide some more details—standard stuff like model numbers, the numbers engraved on the prongs of the plug (which apparently tell what year they were made), and then my shipping address. I packed up the dryers and brought them to work on Tuesday, and to my surprise, when the UPS delivery man came to pick them up he had a huge box for me.

It had two brand-new Conair Infiniti Nano Silver dryers in it. They didn’t even wait to receive my defective dryers before sending me the replacements.

Now that’s customer service.

While it’s still kind of a bummer that I had to resort to bitching on Conair’s Facebook page because no one would answer my emails to their customer service department, I am happy with the outcome of this whole saga and how Conair ultimately handled my complaint.

I’m just crossing my fingers that the replacement dryers last longer than their original counterparts.

I planted a tree

My tree planted by SoundForestSeveral months ago Aunt B. and some other blogger folks organized a tree-planting day with SoundForest, and in support I made a donation in the form of ordering a t-shirt. Although they ended up running out of trees for our group to plant, I did find out that with every t-shirt order SoundForest plants a tree.

Today I received an email with information about “my” tree.

Apparently it’s planted just west of Nashville, maybe in Ashland City, on the banks of a river north of I-40. If you’re so inclined to see where my tree was planted, check out the map from SoundForest. From the drop-down menu choose tree number 3034—that’s mine!