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Monday, November 29, 2010

Agitated Anticipation

I've a new lover in my bedroom. My beautiful new bike leans against the wall on my side of the bed. Hubby even carried it up for me, set it against the wall. It's awesomeness amazes me and I just want to sit on the bed and stare at it. For awhile this afternoon, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it to the bike shop before it closed. A couple of wayward students didn't follow the directions given to them two weeks ago and weren't ready to turn in the portfolio when they were supposed to. Rather than draw the line in the sand and say I'm sorry but you didn't follow the directions, I allowed these students to take the time to finish up what needed to be completed. So I sat there, watching the minutes tick by, growing more and more annoyed as the afternoon wore on. I've not experienced that degree of agitated anticipation in quite some time.

This weekend is looking favorable for a ride, and at this point I don't care what the temp is. As long as it's not torrential rains like it is today, I'll be out. And while I keep saying (right now) the ride will be an easy one, no need to go for speed, I'm curious to see just how this bike will handle. The thinking is the better the components that make up the whole, the less effort is needed on the rider's part to make the bike perform. I was assured the components of my beautiful, new bike are such that I will experience a noticeable difference in the effort I have to exert to achieve what I was able to on my old bike. More agitated anticipation is developing just thinking about this, and I'm pretty sure by Friday, I'm going to be climbing the walls, wanting to get out and see if this theory is true.

Until then, I'm just going to sit on my bed and admire my new bike.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Restless

Now that I'm on day five of no class, no students, no papers to read and respond to, I feel myself becoming restless. Especially after yesterday, a day of not leaving the house. At all. Not even to just open the door to stick my head outside. My one day hermit experience was bliss. But one day is about all I can do.

Work in Progress
My day of staying inside was productive, though; I finished my latest short story, the one that started out in a very different direction from where it ended up. I knew I wanted an older woman, late 60's maybe early 70's, to be the main character. I knew I wanted her to have set up a garage sale. After that, I had no clue where to go. The story started out with her daughter bringing over things that didn't belong to her, and the person the items did belong to showed up, seeing all her things for sale.  I just didn't know where to go from there. I decided to get rid of the daughter, let the story flow from the older woman, her memories of all the items she'd set out that other people were now taking away to their own homes. Once I made that change, the story started coming, but I still didn't know how to end it. I do much better if I know the ending. If I know the ending then I can create the road to get there. If I don't know, I sort of wander all over, taking side roads that lead nowhere. A couple of days ago, the ending came to me when I woke up around 3:30 in the morning. Yesterday, the story came to that ending, and I felt like I'd run an uphill 5k when I typed the final period.

Now I'll let the story sit for a couple of days then return to it to revise. This makes four completed stories for the collection I'm putting together. I have two that I'm going to revise to fit with the collection. That leaves four more to write.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dream Bike is Now My Bike

I did it. I bought the dream bike. I've looked at bikes, I've read all about different brands of bikes, and I decided to just go ahead and take the leap. So cheers to me for having worked the extra bit I did this semester to make my dream bike become reality.

The only downside is the bike won't be ready until Monday, and the weather over the weekend is supposed to be mid 40's with lots of sun. Perfect for riding. Perhaps I'll go out on my trusty hybrid these next two days, before I switch over to Dream Bike, and try to get in the 47 miles I need to hit 1000 miles since May.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Body-Mind Rest

After the one meeting I had to attend on Friday, I returned home, changed into total, uber woobie clothes and relaxed, staying that way for the larger part of the weekend. The head/chest cold that has made its way around campus and even within my own home tried to attach itself to me, and it did for about two days, but with all the rest, all the emptying my mind of all things work, the cold didn't have much to cling to. I really think that was the shortest-lived cold I've ever had in my life. Being able to just be, indulge in total body-mind rest, whooped that cold good.

A small part of me does feel guilty for not getting some writing completed, and some workouts in, but that part is so small I was able to squash it easily. This week's work is minimal since I front-loaded my semester, and while I wasn't a happy camper while plowing through all the papers, all the student work coming in during that time, I'm now ecstatic at having nothing to do but my own work this entire week. I'm hoping my body-mind rest over the weekend energized the muse, persuades her to take hold of my fingers on the keyboard and go to town.

Mind-body rest is so important, and I know I don't do near enough of it. Getting enough rest, though, is key to becoming better at just about anything one is working on, as is echoed in The Yin and Yang of Intensity and Rest. Unfortunately, our fast-paced culture gives resting a negative connotation. I know I can only change my viewpoint, and from what I've experienced after only one mind-body restful weekend, I'm a believer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Does One Publication Me A Writer Make?

That was the question Hubby put to me yesterday. Without thinking too long, which would only have made my must-be-humble quirk kick in, I said of course that makes me a writer. Someone else determined my work was good enough to be put into a print publication that will be shared with a larger audience. In a way, it's no longer mine. The story belongs to those who read it, who, hopefully, enjoy it. To me, that's what writers do--share their world for the pleasure of others.

All I've been thinking about is how the second editor to see this piece liked it enough to want it. The first editor declined it but did say he very much enjoyed the theme of the story. And everyone who has read it has just simply liked it. Each person that I've seen read it came to the end with a smile and a satisfied nod, like the story had the just-right ingredients to make it pleasing at the beginning, through the middle, and even the end. Like that perfectly seasoned chili, not too spicy but not to bland, either.

Now I'm working on some other pieces to send off. Two have already been rejected once, but I've revised them, so we'll see what happens the second go 'round. One of these pieces I'm very attached to, almost umbilical cord attached which is not a good thing, but I kind of get the same feeling from it that I did the piece that will be published. Though the ending of this story isn't positive or even happy, I truly think it's the right ending for the story. Or do we always need happy endings?

Maybe that's a question for Women on Writing, my newest fave website (as if I need one more thing to read). It'd be interesting to hear what Brenda Hill, Moira Allen and company have to say about sad v. happy endings.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Acceptance Is So Much Sweeter Than Rejection

Finally. An acceptance letter. And while the magazine is a small one, probably one most people haven't heard of, it's still a magazine, and my short story will be published in its January/February/March 2011 issue. This will be my first short story publication credit, my second publishing credit overall. It's a start.

And good timing, too. This Thursday I'm participating in a faculty reading at my college. I had already decided to read this particular story, and now I can begin by saying the story has been accepted for publication. I've never been in this position before, being able to say something I'm sharing with the audience gathered for the reading will actually be offered to a wider audience in the not too distant future. I've been thinking for some time now that in order for me to have any credibility in the classroom, teaching writing, I need to write and publish. My thinking is now a reality. What a great feeling.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Run Then A Ride

The Jingle Bell Run went okay. I lost track of my colleagues who were a part of my group. In fact, I only saw two of the six of us before the start of the run. I ran alone for the first two miles, at which time I decided to walk for a bit. One member of the group caught up to me then and we finished the race together. I crossed the line at 33:30, which is one minute 14 seconds faster than last year's run but four minutes slower than my PR. I expected a slower time today. I just haven't run that much since August.

After the run, I took the bike out for a ride. My whole mindset while riding is so different from when I'm running, though I will say my mindset today while running was actually pretty good. I wasn't there for competition. I was there to run for a good cause, get some exercise in, and just enjoy the weather. But when I'm on the bike, I can push it and love every second of it. If the wind is blowing 20 mph, I don't mind a bit. If the course has two mile hills, bring them on. I'll go at it with everything I have. Today the wind is blowing as it has been for about a month now. Sustained 20 mph with gusts up to 30. I started the ride into the wind, averaging about 12 mph. Then I reached my turn point, which put the wind mostly at my back. I got going pretty good on this stretch, and then I turned again, putting the wind coming against my right side. I managed to keep the speed up for this stretch. When I finished, I checked my average overall speed: 16. Not bad for having the wind in my face for half of the ride.

Now I'm feeling that delicious fatigue that comes after a good workout. I can definitely tell I haven't worked out like this for awhile, and it'd probably be a good idea for me to get back into the swing of working out a bit harder if I'm going to maintain some kind of decent fitness level. I'm thinking ahead, too, to the Bike the US for MS ride. I need to find some kind of workout regimen that will help me get ready for the daily long rides. Being able to do 60+ miles a day is a must, and right now, with work and limited daylight hours making long rides nearly impossible, I don't know quite what to do to get ready. Maybe it's going to come down to just riding two hours a day on the trainer in the garage. How boring does that sound?

Today was good. I like that. A lot.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Relief

And the charity dinner is now a thing of the past. Like last year, I said right after the last person left that I am not going to do another dinner. This morning, upon stepping out of the shower, I thought next year's benefiting organization is going to be the local AIDS Task Force. For a second I entertained the idea of what we could do differently to have an even more successful event, but then I snapped out of my musings. There will not be another charity dinner. For now.

All in all, the dinner was good. Most of two soups were eaten, so we only had one soup in any quantity left over. The raffle was a huge success, and I have such gratitude for my friend who graciously donated the necklace that had all the women buying as many raffle tickets as possible to try and win it. And the cake. Baked by that same generous friend who donated the necklace. The cake was absolutely delicious. The leftover cake will be my breakfast this morning. All of this combined with great conversation, laughter, and seeing people come together to give made the evening worthwhile.

After cleaning up and falling into bed exhausted, I couldn't sleep. I finally managed a couple of hours, but I'm still too wound up. Perhaps a nice, easy run on the treadmill, watching a movie, will help me expel the last remnants of tension.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Still Not Running

And maybe that's why every little thing is irritating the living bejeezus out of me. I've just not been getting the necessary amount of exercise, be it running or biking or swimming or whatever. I haven't done a darn thing for the better part of two weeks.

On top of not working out and releasing those lovely endorphins that make me feel all is right with the world, I've felt like those around me (save my children) are always asking for something but are unwilling to give anything in return. I will qualify this right now: Hubby has been great with cleaning the house and doing all the heavy-duty stuff to get ready for our charity dinner. His help has allowed me not to have to worry about the dinner all that much. Part of me isn't into having the dinner this year, our third charity dinner, and after getting several "not going to be able to make it" responses from those I consider friends, I'm thinking more than ever I should have just not put the charity dinner on my already full plate.

But the charity dinner is for a good cause. With the State budget cuts and the slow economy, there are a lot of people hurting. The dinner is just a small way for me to give while at the same time enjoying time with family and friends. This year, those attending will bring diapers, formula, and other assorted baby/toddler goods that will be donated to one of our local agencies that helps families in need. In exchange for their donations, those attending get a bowl of soup, delicious bread, and dessert. The last two years were great fun, and my friends/family showed what kind, compassionate people they are by donating goods as well as money to the charity we've designated each year.

I keep telling myself that no matter how few people show up, the dinner will still be delicious, and the company will still be entertaining. The donations will help in a time when everyone's budget is tight. And I am thankful I can do the charity dinner, a small thing that not only brings me joy, but brings smiles to those who benefit from the kindness and generosity of my family and friends.

So maybe I'm not running, but I am thinking about it. I only hope that is enough to carry me through the 5k come Sunday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

But I Like My Logic

The Jingle Bell Run is Sunday. I haven't run for over a week. This just might be a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, it might work out that I PR this 5k. My logic is I'll be really, really fresh for this run and will be able to go at a faster pace, or is that simply bad logic?

I haven't run because I haven't been feeling the desire to. Not that I ever did in the first place--I mostly did it to be able to get through the du's and the tri's with a decent showing. I don't run just to run like so many others do. Running doesn't turn me on like that.

And to torture myself even further because I can't seem to get enough of it, I signed up for the sprint tri in May 2011. I dislike the swim about as much as I dislike the run, so why in the world do I keep doing this to myself? The answer is I hated how I performed with the swim portion of the sprint tri I completed, and I'm determined to do better the next go round. I'm definitely in better shape now and should be able to do much better the next time I compete, and I'm kind of curious to see exactly how I do. So basically the formula is disappointment + better shape + curiosity = torture.

This Sunday, I will try to beat my time from last year's Jingle Bell run. I should be able to do it since I already have three times since. But I'm not going to say it's a done deal as I'm afraid my not-running logic is most definitely flawed thinking.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dream Bike for My Dream Ride

I test rode a bike Saturday and have been dreaming of it ever since. The bike is a real racing bike, not a wannabe like the bike I'm riding now, although I have to say my current bike has served me well. I really have no complaints about my bike, and I kind of feel guilty for even thinking of purchasing a new one. But it looks like I really am going to do the Bike the US for MS ride, and I want a bike I can cruise on. Just like I imposed my one week "seriously think about it" rule with the MS ride, I'm imposing a one week "really, JK, seriously think about this before buying a couple thousand dollars bike" rule.

The first hesitation I have is a couple thousand dollars is a lot of change to part with right now. With Hubby still out of work, is it wise to spend that much on a bike? Sure it's for a good cause, and I know I would ride it for all the events I'll do next season after returning from the MS ride, but . . ..

The second hesitation I have is, well, I guess there is no second hesitation. It's all about the money.

The shop selling the bike has a layaway plan which I'm considering. I could buy the bike now and just pay a little bit each month until March, when I could pay it off and begin training on it, getting ready for June. With my overload next semester, I could channel the extra money towards paying on the bike and pay it off pretty quickly.

In any case, dreaming about the bike is free. Perhaps during one of my daydreams the way to pay for it will present itself.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meatless Meatloaf and Banana Bread

Venturing into vegetarianism/veganism brought out the cook in me today. I put together a vegetarian loaf that looks, smells, and tastes just like meatloaf, and now I have a banana loaf in the oven, which is mostly vegan with no eggs and no butter/margarine. I did have to use organic milk since I drank the rest of my soy milk for breakfast this morning, but all in all, the batter looked and tasted just like regular banana bread batter. My fingers are crossed that the finished product has the texture and taste of a typical banana bread.

So far, the journey into no meat, sometimes no animal products whatsoever, has been going smoothly with just a few bumps here and there. Not having been eating much meat for some time now has helped, I think. I just don't feel the desire to eat meat. I'm drawn to veggies, fruits and breads. I do love cheese. I think that's been the toughest part so far. I found some rice cheese, but the texture and flavor definitely don't compare to that of cow or goat cheese. Part of me wants to rationalize and say cheese is okay to eat, especially organic cheese from animals that are treated humanely. I do think it's okay for each of us to figure out what we're okay with when it comes to what we eat, so if one person wants to meat and only meat, so be it. If another person wants to eat only raw, go for it. I feel comfortable eating cheese, yogurt, and milk, as long as these are organic and come from humanely treated animals. Thinking it through and figuring out what I'm comfortable with has been part of the journey, and though I most likely will never completely be vegan, this is okay.

Today I went back to the organic foods store and found a few more products to keep in my pantry. Building my supplies will definitely take time, and the cost is something I'll constantly have to keep in mind. Organic, vegan foods are not cheap. When I consider the cost of eating the way I want to, I get irritated that eating healthfully can be cost prohibitive. Yes, I could by fruits and veggies at a regular grocery store, but even there I would buy organics which cost more than mass produced fruits and veggies. Since this is how I want to eat, I'm just going to have to adjust how I spend my money. Rather than buying a magazine, I can go to the library and read it, freeing up money to use for the products I want to consume. Rather than buying a new gadget for the kitchen, I can use the many gadgets I now have that sit idle in the cupboards, steering the money saved towards foods that fit the lifestyle I want to live.

The journey will definitely be ongoing, with its hills and valleys, but I look forward to it. I find walking this journey had made me much more mindful of what goes into my body. I'm much more likely now to not eat something that I used to because I'm much more aware of what makes up the food and I don't want to put into my body elements I believe are harmful. I don't know if it's too soon to really have any significant changes taking place, but I have noticed I just don't think about food all that much anymore. Is this due to reducing certain ingredients? I don't know. I do know I've been a little surprised quite a few times lately when it dawns on me that I haven't eaten anything for upwards of five or six hours. I'm okay with this. Intuitive eating is something I've very interested in and I'm wondering if this is the direction my body is going in response to the changes I've been making.

The banana bread aroma is filling the house now. Time to check on it, maybe even test it before calling it a day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hodgepodge Wednesday

I harvested all the herbs from the garden today, went to the store and bought a five-tray dehydrator, then dried thyme this evening. With the thyme in the jar, the cranberries seemed like a good next food to try, so they are now basking in the dry heat of the dehydrator. Hopefully by tomorrow morning, the berries will be ready and the sage can take its turn. Watching the foods dry is kind of fun, a science project happening right before my eyes.

Boy, am I simple or what!? Watching herbs and berries dry . . .. I need to get out more.

I did get out for a three mile run, well, out to the garage anyway. With the shorter daylight hours these days I just can't fit in rides except for on the weekends. I already miss my bike. I was trying to ride to work as much as possible, but since I don't have lights yet, I'm playing it safe. Once the lights arrive, I'm going to start riding again. We used lights on the bikes when we were in Key West, and the way the lights made the bikes stand out in the darkness was amazing. A reflective vest would probably be a good choice, too. I've read a couple of articles lately about cyclists getting hit while riding in darkness, and I don't want to end up another statistic.

I also signed up for a sprint tri. It isn't until May 1, 2011, but it's a really popular sprint tri that fills up fast. It was my first event back in April of this year, and I did horrible with the swim. I got stuck behind some slower swimmers and couldn't get around them. I actually had to walk part of the swim just to keep moving forward. Not cool. I'm determined to improve my swim and my overall finish time, so this winter is now my winter of swimming. I just have to find a pool to swim in. Looks like I'll have to break down and get a gym membership.

For now I'm going to take a deep breath, breathe in the aroma of thyme that is still filling the house. I'll worry about the swimming later.

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo is Upon Us

National Novel Writing Month has begun. I'm already behind. Personally, I think there should be a national student paper reading month, and every single person over the age of 30 should have to read at least 60,000 words of student writing within that month. Ughhh. Do you know how much mushy brain would be out there if this actually did happen? The world as we know it would be no more.

One bright spot from one of today's classes: students were completing peer responses. One of the better students was responding to the paper of one of the weaker students. After reading the paper, Better Student pulled me over and said, "Please read my response. If I'm out of line tell me and I'll change it." I read the response and smiled. Better Student didn't mince words and basically told Weaker Student the paper was plagiarizing another person's work and would fail if proper citations were not given. In addition, Better Student told Weaker Student the paper was unorganized, having disregarded all of the teacher's suggestions written on the first draft. "You just did my job," I told Better Student. I love it when one student gives it to another student. Sometimes this actually works better than if I had been the one to make the comments. It'll be interesting to see what Weaker Student does with the paper now.

And now, now I am into the second batch of papers that I've been avoiding for the past few days. It's like a fresh, new wind filled my sails this afternoon; I just felt ready to tackle these papers, and I'm finding they actually are pretty good. I'm really enjoying reading them.

As for NaNoWriMo, I guess I'll have to wait to start the next great American novel until tomorrow.