Saturday, May 31, 2008

Odds and ends

I have been sitting here reading all the important blogs and it has gone from partly sunny to OMG, is it suddenly 8:00 pm? No, it is still 1:30. But the clouds have rolled in so thick it is like dusk outside! We are supposed to have major thunderstorms today so I will be hibernating indoors. I may head across the street to the movie theater and see that Cameron Diaz movie about Las Vegas something.... yes, I live across the street from a movie theater. I also live a block away from my gym, my grocery store and the metro. I PAY DEARLY FOR THIS. But I can afford it because I am a well paid federal employee *scoff*. The alternative is paying with my health and sanity in trying to get to and from work each day -- note: commuting across a river will double... nay, TRIPLE your commute time.

Adam finally called me in the middle of the night last night. He woke me from a dead slumber. I can't believe I even heard the phone ringing, but I managed to fly out of bed and run to the counter where I'd left my cell phone to answer it. I can't remember what we talked about. I think I was still half asleep.

Strange occurrence at the gym yesterday:

A regular came up to me and said, "I just realized that you are a twin." Huh? I corrected her and she said there is a girl who works out there who looks just like me. Really? I have been working out there almost daily for 3 years now and apparently I have a doppleganger I never noticed? Must keep eyes peeled...

And it just started pouring rain. With thunder and lightening. Cool.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hot and Sore

I haven't talked to Adam in a while and I finally got a voicemail from him yesterday while I was in the metro. He's been working double duty covering someone else's job AND his own. He said he was sleeping only a few hours each night. He sounded tired. I feel bad for him!

The summer has arrived and it is hot and humid. I have mentioned here before that Washington DC is actually built on a giant swampland. No kidding. Foggy Bottom, the neighborhood where the State Department and the Kennedy Center are located, was once marshes that were filled in and built up. Technically unfit for human habitation. Add to that the concrete jungles absorbing sunlight and reflecting it and the heat is magnified something awful. I dream of moving north for the lovely summers. Of course I would be suicidal come January, I think I despise the severe cold even more than severe heat/humidity. It's not the heat that gets me - I loved Arizona and it gets up to like 120 degrees there. It's the humidity. And the fact that I have to be out in it to get to/from work walking about a mile each way - ugh.

The trains are packed as of late with the summer interns. Did you know that DC gets about 20,000 interns each year?! You can always tell which ones they are on the trains. Fresh faced, not wearing the weight of responsibility just yet. That and they do sophomoric things on the train that commuting pro's would never do. For example, when the train nears the station, they feel they HAVE TO GET UP RIGHT NOW AND MOVE TOWARDS THE DOOR. You know, just in case they can't get off once the train stops and they have to ride to the next station. NEWSFLASH! It will be much easier/faster/more efficient to get to the door once the train stops and we are not all holding on and sausaged in here! Trust me, you will have PLENTY OF TIME TO GET OFF. I have NEVER, in all my years of riding the metro, seen anyone NOT get off the train because they didn't have enough time to get out. I've seen pregnant women haul their expanding girth of pregnant glory out of an inside seat and make it to the platform in time!

This weekend marks four weeks of the Bikini Project and I am planning to take pictures and some measurements. I don't feel/see as many changes as I would like or expect after four weeks of dieting, but I guess we'll find out tomorrow. I really have been diligent these last weeks so I will be disappointed if there is nothing numerical or visual to show for my efforts.

I had another TT workout planned for this morning but I went to the gym and did my warmup circuits and decided I was just too sore to get anything out of it. So I did some foam rolling and stretching and went home. It's unlike me to skip a workout, even for soreness, so you know how sore I really am! My hips and thighs are just trashed from doing dumbbell swings on Wednesday. I forgot how painful those can be!

I'm looking forward to another relaxing weekend, how bout you?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day


Memorial Day is a poignant time for me as the sacrifices our service members make for the freedoms we enjoy every day are near and dear to my heart. My dad's dad, my grandfather Hoppy was killed right before I was born in service to his country. He was a test pilot killed in a plane crash in the Philippines. My mom's dad is a veteran of the Korean War, he too was a career military man - a General before he retired.

My dad is a veteran too. He flew F-16's in the Air Force and fought in both the Kosovo air campaign and Operation Iraqi Freedom back in 2003 when we first invaded Iraq. In fact, when we first started the air campaign in Kosovo, my dad was the first to enter Kosovar airspace the night we started bombing - he was out in front ahead of all the other fighter jets, the heavy tankers, bombers and helicopters. We were living in Germany at the time; he was stationed at Spangdahlem AFB near Bitburg. He and his squadron deployed down to Aviano AFB, Italy, where the campaign was launched from. After the bombing had gone on for a while, the squadron came home and flew every night launching their missions from Germany. He would come home in the morning and sleep all day and leave again at night to fight the war. It was a weird, scary time. I remember when we lost an F-16 over there and my mom and my sister and I just sat riveted to CNN wondering... During OIF, my dad was stationed at Aviano AFB and deployed to the region. He wasn't in Iraq but at an airbase nearby. He was an Operations Group Commander at that time. I was about to start grad school and I flew home to Italy and spent those months with my mom.

Now my own boyfriend is a veteran - off fighting Operation Enduring Freedom. I asked him why he didn't call me yesterday and he said, "I'm fightin' a war, babe." His performance evaluation last year commended him for work "resulting in the death or capture of numerous terrorists." It's real. Even though it seems very far away from most people's lives, it's very personal for me.

My friend Matt, too, who's been in Iraq for four years now because he just can't bring himself to leave. He's also a veteran of the war in the Balkans, from his prior military service. I tell him he's a hero and he says no. Those boys and girls who are going outside the wire every day - they are the heroes. True, but so is he.

I hope on this Memorial Day that your thoughts go out to all of our brave warriors who are sacrificing so much to protect the ideals of freedom and democracy. Especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They should never be far from our hearts and minds because their sacrifice secures our right to enjoy every freedom we have. I hope everyone has fun today barbecuing and playing outside with your friends and families, but I hope you pause for a moment to remember the men and women who died for our freedoms and those who are far away fighting for them now.

Ching Ching Cha Flowering Teas

I've been meaning to post these pictures for over a week now! Last weekend my parents were in town for an unexpected visit and on Saturday I went with my mom and my aunt to Ching Ching Cha in Georgetown. We walked across the Key Bridge from Rosslyn and then down to Wisconsin Ave. where the teahouse is. Regular readers will remember that I went to Ching Ching Cha for tea with my girlfriends on my birthday in March. Georgetown was its usual crush of college students, tourists, fashionistas and wannabes swarming all around, but when we stepped into the teahouse it was like a cool oasis, quiet Oriental music playing in the background and the sun shining calmly through the skylights. We each ordered a flowering tea - they are such a treat! They come in little balls and when you add the hot water they flower into this:

The orange blossom.
I thought we had one of the Floating Lantern, but I think this is another one of the Orange Blossom tea.
And I think this one was called Golden Blossom.

It was a fun, relaxing afternoon! Then we met up with my dad, my uncle and my cousin and his girlfriend and headed to Layalina for some yummy Lebanese/Egyptian fusion cuisine.

On Sunday my mom and my aunt and I had pedicures - divine. I had a manicure too and it seems to be lasting for a long time - the paint only started chipping yesterday. I think that's a record. Paint doesn't last long in the weight room.

I've had another relaxing weekend this weekend. I've been working on my healthy glow. I exercised, I napped, I sunbathed by the pool, I'm doing a face mask right now, I cooked... it's been perfectly peaceful. I think I'm going to wash my face and take another cat nap - the sun is shining in a bright warm patch on the carpet and I'm feeling drowsy after laying by the pool all morning. I was listening to Chapter 3 of Oprah's A New Earth event with Eckhart Tolle.

The Rolling Thunder Memorial Day biker rally was in town yesterday and I spent the afternoon blasting Tori Amos over the low grumble of engines reverberating through the tall buildings yesterday. I remember very clearly Rolling Thunder last year because I was thinking really hard on breaking up with Adam. I had gotten invited to the rally with this guy... I didn't end up going and even if I had, nothing improper would have happened of course, but I never even would have considered going on anything that could be construed as a "date" if I hadn't been in the mental space of leaving my relationship. Anyway, I can't believe that was a year ago. How is it that time can seem to pass in the blink of an eye and also seem like a lifetime ago all at once?

I find myself feeling sad about the passing of time these days. I can't remember ever thinking this way before recently. I feel like life is speeding by so quickly and I just want to grab on and hold it still for a bit. How can one life ever be enough? I fear death, not so much because I fear what is next (I don't think... although maybe that is what it really is at heart), but because I don't want to leave this life behind. How can I ever possibly do enough living in such a short time?

I don't know how I got started on THAT train of thought! My head ran away with my fingers. I need to go wash this goo off my face! Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday, if you get one!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Of course.

Of course my washing machine would flood today. Of course. That was my treat for the morning! I did manage to do my TT workout and hit the grocery store, although I still have to go to Whole Foods for some stevia. They don't carry it at the Harris Teeter by my house which is weird because I actually think the HT has a better selection of organic produce than the WF.

I don't use stevia a lot, but I need it to make my chocolate tofu pudding, which is a new dessert-like concoction I discovered recently. It's just light silken tofu blended with cocoa powder and stevia and topped with sliced almonds. I've been gravitating away from meat and decided to experiment a bit with tofu and loved this recipe to eat for breakfast when I just want something light and sweet. It's airy, like a flan.

I'm about to go meet up with my parents and I think we may walk into Georgetown... it is beautiful out today in DC so perfect weather for getting outside!

I am so glad last week is over. The insanity level at work was at a fever pitch. Next week should be back to more relaxing times, although one can never be too sure in my line of work; we're pretty reactive and world events are always moving forward.

Happy weekend, y'all! Train hard and hug your loved ones.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Keep Up

So, you know how I said this has been a crazy week at work? And right now I am crashing on some press guidance, trying to get it to the spokesperson's office by the 11:15 deadline. I just heated some water for a cup of tea - Yogi Tea, have you tried them? They are wonderful! I'm having Green Tea Kombucha right now...

Anyway, each tea bag has a little inspirational phrase on it. My teabag? That I just opened?

Says: Keep up.

Thanks, Universe. Thanks a lot. I don't know whether to laugh or shake my fist at the sky!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's up

This has been a super busy week at work! I was here until nearly 8:00 on Tuesday - holy smokes! I used to work all kinds of crazy hours like that a couple years ago when I first came to this office. We've since hired on several new people so the workload has diminished considerably, but there are always those days.

We finally got a break from the deluge of rain yesterday and today, but it's going to start raining again tonight! I saw on the news that this is already one of the wettest Mays on record! After this weekend we will likely be the 5th wettest May - and we're only halfway through the month!

I took advantage of the reprieve yesterday to get out on the trails for a jog. It is now light at 5:30 in the morning so I don't worry as much about being out there all alone. I did another Turbulence Training workout this morning. Man, those intervals kill me! You know, in a nice positive way! I did intervals on the step mill this morning, I feel like I might actually expire!

I'm waiting on Adam to tell me whether he is going to be able to stop here on his way home from Turkalurkadurk (or wherever), which will be soon! I hope he is going to come here, I miss him so much!

Then I may try to go to Hawaii in July too when my sister and her boyfriend are going to be there. My sister's boyfriend is going to the North Shore of Oahu to test waverunners for the military.... seriously, HOW DO I GET HIS JOB???

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Eye of the Storm

It's been raining in DC and Northern Virginia for days. Yesterday and today it has been downright COLD! It feels much more like early fall than late spring around here. I keep thinking I have washed my old college hoodie FOR THE LAST TIME DAMMIT. I keep having to pull it out of the back of my closet. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing better than gray, chilly, rainy weather and pulling on a sweatshirt to get cozy on the couch with some tea. That is what I did all afternoon yesterday! (And what I wish I was doing today, even more!) But it does make my walking commute suck considerably more than it usually does on a normal day of suckage.

I had to brave the wind and sideways rain this morning without my rain jacket, since, in a stroke of brilliance (ha), I left it at work on Friday. With, mind you, my KEYS IN THE POCKET. Left. In my office. This becomes even more of a pain if you live, as I do, in an apartment complex with gated entry ways and garages that require a key fob to scan into. Yes. So you have to fob into the garage, then once you are in the garage, you have to fob in to the elevator shaft! I spent all weekend harassing the concierge to let me in.

Ahhhh, I'm sad to be at work today. My boss has been in a wretchedly pissy mood for the last week and a half or so. He seems to want to yell at me every time I see him, so I am trying to lay low. Problem is if I don't bother him with questions on some of my tasks, he will get pissy anyway when I don't handle it exactly how he wanted me to. Half the time I think he invents arbitrary "rules" in order to get pissy in my direction. He is an energy vampire, a perpetual negative ion floating around. I am the only person on our team who will stand up to him when he's being unreasonable, so I tend to take more heat than anyone else. I'm trying to stop confronting him since it does me no good to be argumentative. As sad as it is, I'm trying not to assert myself. In this situation, it is for the best. He never backs down. Not ever. If he can't argue his righteousness by merit alone, he will resort to sayinig, "Because I'm the boss." I want to punch him in the face when he says that.

Anyway.

The Bikini Project is going great! I may have been hallucinating but I swear my ass was looking tighter this morning. I know I will accomplish my goals because I am really having fun and just enjoying myself, and it doesn't seem like a struggle at all! Amazing.

I hope no one thought that video I posted the other day was weird or out there. I'm listening to Oprah's Eckhart Tolle webcasts and thinking about all this mental stuff! Tolle talks about how he came up with his ideas for his books (The Power of Now, A New Earth) when he was on the verge of suicide. He says he was laying in bed and he had already made the decision to kill himself. He was thinking, "I just can't live with myself anymore." Then it occurred to him, who is this "self" I cannot live with? He realized that inside him there was an "I" and there was this "self" and that the self was not who he truly was. All the chattering in his head and pain he was feeling were not who he really was -- at his core, he was at peace. Most of our thoughts throughout the day are repetitive and not really helpful. We are not our thoughts. However, thoughts become things. With our thoughts we make the world around us. That's why I thought that right brain/left brain description on the video was so interesting because she totally described the left brain chattering and organizing and thinking that we need to remember is not, in the end, who we are.

Interestingly, Tolle talks about how when people do intense physical activities, they tune into that right brain inner core "self" - exactly why I love to lift weights. When I'm putting up 150# on a bar on my back, it's the surest way to turn off the incessant chattering and get my head to just shut the hell up. I'm totally in the moment, totally in my body, totally centered. I'm in the eye of the storm.

Alrighty, enough expounding for now. Back to the gamut!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

Thanks for being such a great Mom - you are such an inspiration to me and I'm so lucky to have you in my life! I miss you tons and I love you so much!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The world will freely offer itself to you.

You don't need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don't even listen, simply wait.
Don't even wait.
Be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you.
To be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
-Franz Kafka

Monday, May 05, 2008

12 Foods To Buy Organic

Remember when I was saying that you don't have to buy everything organic? Well, here are the top 12 foods to choose organic and avoid conventional. Known as the "dirty dozen," these are the 12 most pesticide-polluted fruits and veggies. Buying organic versions of the following will dramatically cut your exposure to pesticides -- in fact, it could cut your exposure to pesticides as much as 90 percent!

Fruits

1. Peaches
2. Nectarines
3. Strawberries
4. Cherries
5. Apples
6. Pears
7. Imported grapes

Veggies

8. Spinach
9. Lettuce
10. Potatoes
11. Celery
12. Sweet bell peppers

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hiking at Sky Meadow State Park

After arguing with myself for a bit about whether it was worth an hour drive each way and $3.60 for a gallon of gas, I decided the trails needed to be hiked. And I needed to get far enough away from the city that I couldn't hear the highway or the helicopters or the airport traffic. I packed up my Camelbak and headed west to Sky Meadow State Park in Paris, VA, about 50 miles outside the beltway. It was a perfect day for it - temps in the low 70's, no humidity to speak of and a light breeze blowing. We had a lot of rain and warmer weather last week and all of a sudden everything exploded into luscious green. No more the tiny timid buds on the trees. And not the brown-gray green of mid-summer when all the plants are gasping in the stifling heat. This was a fierce bright green, almost glowing in the sunlight. I did an 8 mile loop that included part of the Appalachian Trail. I've lived in Virginia for 3 and a half years now and this is the first time I've been on the AT.

The hike was all uphill for the first two miles, with this view on the left:


Then it headed into the trees. This was less a forest and more woodlands dotted along the hills. Even as green as it was today, it's still a far cry from the rainforested hikes of Oahu. The rolling trails are totally different from the island trails we hiked - those were muddy narrow footpaths carving along steep ravines and over wrinkled ridges to overlook sheer cliffs above the ocean. Virginia's trails are gentle by comparison:

The sky was so blue, though, and not a cloud to be seen.

After coming out of the wooded AT, the hike went along several miles of rolling hills where the long blue-green grass actually looked like water as the wind blew through it. The pastures overlooked a pretty farmland vista.

The best view was seen almost at the end of the hike from Piedmont Overlook. Virginia's mountains are like bumps on the landscape.

The trail cut straight across the meadows to the parking lot and visitor's center hidden in the crop of trees on the bottom right.

There were a fair number of people on the trails. At one point a woman and a man came up behind me and I thought they would pass me so I kept to the side. But the trail was going uphill and I guess it was too strenuous for them to gain enough ground to get around without me stopping or slowing considerably. I could hear the woman huffing and puffing right behind me and I could tell my conditioning was much better than hers by my comparatively long, measured breathing, so I strode out instead of letting them by. I could tell she was trying to keep up with me because as I sped up, she stayed close enough that I could hear her breathing. I kept my strides strong; we were still going uphill and had been for quite some time. Eventually they slowed and stopped altogether to take a rest. Success! Later on they caught up to me again and the woman was chattering on, so I stopped to let them pass, preferring to be with myself and the trees.

Even with my Gecko GPS, I also got a bit off track and ended up following the wrong trail at one point, adding a little more than a mile to my total. I was discouraged, but was not to be deterred! Although it's a good thing I figured it out or I'd have hiked right into the next state on the AT.

Now I'm recharged and ready to face the week!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I feel FANTASTIC today!

First! Oh my word, you guys, Craig Ballantyne of Turbulence Training fame left a comment on my blog! Haha, you have no idea how tickled this makes me! I've attained momentary celebrity status on my blog :P And he said I have nice arms - LOL! Well, had is more like it... Well, I still have them, they are just hiding out at the moment. Actually, I have never really had truly visible arm dents unless I'm flexing or just left the gym with a pump, so that's something I'm hoping to achieve in this 12 weeks (maybe? Arm-dent Gods, are you out there? Ab-Gods, too?)

I was talking to Adam last night who was very nice and sat on the phone with me from Durka-durka-stan or wherever he is while I took my Startling Pics (hehe). You know, for moral support. He's going to do his own 12 week Challenge -- we're calling it the Linebacker Challenge! His motto is Leaner, Faster, Stronger! Awesome. My Beefcake is going to get hunkier, what more could a girl ask for?! Oh, right, maybe that he be located IN THE SAME ZIP CODE. Or at least be IN a zip code (is there a zip code wherever you are, honey?)

Also... I?

Slept for TEN HOURS last night. Ten! It was wonderfully, gloriously delicious. I will take your comment to heart, C and lay off the calcium and see what happens. Sadly, I should probably get off dairy as well due to the GI issues, but I do love my yogurt.

And, an old friend I found on Facebook found me on Gmail chat yesterday morning and we got to chat for a bit - we haven't been in touch in TEN YEARS!! Ten! Can it really have been THAT LONG holy jeez! But it has... we met in 1998 (right?) in Mannheim, Germany where we went to college. Man, we had some cRAZY times together LOL, I was quite a wild child back then. Stories for another time, kids.

Anyway, now he's in Iraq! He's been there for FOUR YEARS! First he was in Baghdad, then in Mosul while it was hot, now in Balad. He's a civilian working on force security. Wow. We are lucky to have people like him out there.

TGIF, right? I'm ready for the weekend!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Turbulence Training Transformation Contest

Today is the first day of the Turbulence Training Transformation Contest - WooHoo!!! I joined up with a group for the Breakthrough Challenge, you can see the snappy logo over there on the right. I'll put up blog links for my fellow Breakthrough Challengers too! I'll be keeping a log over in the TT Members Forum (The Bikini Project) but I'll post some periodic updates here too. I want to get in great shape for bikini season and what better way to do it?? I'm really excited and scared cause now it's out on the internet I have to follow through! Ok, off to take my startling pictures... ahem... I mean my STARTING pictures! Haha.... ha... In all seriousness, I do have a bit of work to do, including on my healthy habits. This being the Year of Optimum Health and all!
Google