Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Running Update: Week Two

I think the status of my running experiment is best summed up in this conversation with H-Town's brother, runner extraordinaire:

E-Town: how's the running?

Me: I want to stab everything.
btw, I learned this: Do not run on the same day you have burlesque class. FYI

E-Town: haha, ok

Me: my legs are like spaghetti today

E-Town: thin and tasty?

Me: limp and wrapped around a fork

I seriously look like I have just now discovered my knees and I'm still getting used to them. I was confused about why my body was rebelling against this so much - the running part I understand, but I was a dancer for 14 years and I felt like I should be holding up better in the face of pliés and hip circles. Then it dawned on me that the last time I did a plié I was about 17. My body already knew that, and clearly is telling me "No fucking way, lady. You are every day of 33 years old, so stop trying to bend your knees sideways." As with most advice I am given, I've chosen to ignore this, and the 26 seconds of choreography we learned last night has been run in my office today more than once, though I'm not sure if it's because I want to get everything down perfect before the next class or because I like to touch my butt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Training Day (Or, I Must Be Fucking Crazy)

You remember that movie Training Day with Denzel Washington, where he's a crooked narcotics officer training Ethan Hawk and all kinds of horrible shit happens? Yeah well my first training day for this 5K I'm running was a lot like that, except with less forcing people to smoke PCP and no one got shot. Though, given the way my legs feel right now, if I were a horse and not a person I would have been taken out back and shot this morning. It's possible I'm being a little over dramatic. It's also possible that I'm not, and that running really does suck as much as I'm telling you it does.

I'm using the highly touted Couch to 5K program, which a number of my friends have done and insist that it works and that they love to run now. I got up yesterday at the ass crack of dawn, slightly wary but also fairly excited. I was going to run! Like those people that I see running! That was going to be me! Day one of the program starts you off slowly: 5 minutes of brisk walking followed by alternating 60 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking for 8 reps, totaling 20 minutes. This seemed like a no brainer. I can run for 60 seconds at a stretch, right? I'm in excellent shape overall - I lift weights and I shadow box. Piece of cake.

After the first 60 seconds of running I was ready to kill myself. What was I thinking with this whole running bullshit? Am I some kind of idiot? I spent the 90 seconds of my break sifting through my iPod until I found The Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up and put it on repeat. It was the only song I had that was angry enough to match my complete hatred of this incredibly stupid form of exercise.

By the time I had finished I'd calmed down a bit, mainly because I knew I was going to get to spend the rest of the day telling people how bad it was and have them pat me on the back and tell me I am awesome sauce. And I did - I bitched and complained about it the entire day to everyone, including Jon and Scott of the incredibly awesome podcast Total Talk Nonsense while I was at their worldwide headquarters recording episode 228 as an in studio guest and being all famous 'n shit. In reality I felt pretty good. I had made it through the whole first workout without giving up, I was energized, confident, proud of myself. I could picture in my mind running the whole 3.1 miles while dodging zombies left and right. I set my alarm for 5 a.m. this morning so I could get up and run the same thing again.

When the alarm went off I was ready. I fucking OWNED that horrible workout yesterday and today would be even easier because I'd already done it! I got out of bed and...

HOLY MOTHERFUCKING CRAP ON A CRACKER. Mentally, I was totes prepared to go out and run. Physically, however, my legs were saying, "Like fuck you are, stupid ass. We're not falling for that shit again. Go away and come back tomorrow." The pain, which originally seemed to be mostly confined to my shins, was tremendous. Then I sat down on the edge of the bed and realized the pain in my upper thighs was even worse than the pain in my shins. Then I stood up again to go wash my face and to my utter astonishment noticed that my ass was actually on fire. Really? My ASS hurts from this? Because, as I said before, I lift weights frequently and there's squatting down and lunging types of things I do that work those muscles and I KNOW that my ass is in shape and what the fuck? H-town's brother, who started out on the same couch to 5K program and now can run like the wind, told me that the reason my ass hurts is because running works the muscles in a different way than weight lifting does. By "different way" I assume he means "the way of the devil". I was obviously not running anywhere today. As a matter of fact, the little bit of walking I did between the train and the places I needed to go saw me stumbling around downtown Chicago like Lurch and frightening all the children and several adults.

If it wasn't for the fact that I love H-town and really want to do something cool with her and also the part about the zombies I would just give up this very minute. I am right now sat on my couch and plotting out my plans for the evening based around doing the bare minimum of moving possible. Because my legs...oh lord, my legs. The Run For Your Lives zombie 5K is October 22nd. Beginning October 23rd I am NEVER RUNNING AGAIN.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Do, However, Love The Game "Arguments With Friends"

Just an FYI: Blogger spell check corrected four words I had misspelled in this conversation alone

Fish: you should get words with friends
its basically scrabble
but you can lose to me

me: you're the hundredth person to say that and i will tell you what i told everyone else - i can't play any scrabble based games because i can't fucking spell

Fish: see
but this one
tells you when it's not a word
and it uses the scrabble dictionary
but if you try and make up a word
it is like "go fuck yourself"

me: but if i type a word that i know is a word and i just have it spelled wrong will it suggest "did you mean..."? like a normal online dictionary does?

Fish: no mam

me: yeah, not playing that

Fish: pussy

me: you are also forgetting that i am entirely antisocial and don't want to play much of anything with my friends
you'd be like "let's play a game!" and i'd be like "yes, let us both play a game...separately"

Fish: right
and you can
it's not real time
its almost like you are playing over email
you play a word
and then the other person plays a word when they have their ipad and 10 minutes to burn
i am playing one person right now who hasn't played a word in 10 days

me: oh good, because that's how long it would take me to figure out how to spell a word

Fish: Drama queen is actually 2 words

me: so is suck it

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You May Say To Yourself, "My God, What Have I done?"

I wasn't kidding about that sentence at the end of the last post. As of yesterday, H-Town and I are officially signed up to run a 5K together in Baltimore in October. We are neither of us runners. H-Town is in fact quite fond of saying she would never run unless she was being chased. Someone evil obviously overheard that, because this is no ordinary 5K race - it is a 5K race with an obstacle course built into it and you do all these things while being chased by zombies.

I have no idea what possessed me to think I should do this, really. It's like I saw the phrase "chased by zombies" and laughed so hard at the very idea that I didn't even notice I was signing myself up to run three GIANT MILES, because if I had noticed, I'd have been like "What the fuck is this bit about the running? Uh-uh. FUCK. THAT." and, you know, not done that. You guys, I HATE running. I really, really hate it. I am that girl in the morning that pisses you off walking idly up the stairs to the train platform when you are late for work and the train is pulling up right now and oh my god, bitch, can't you hear the train is coming? GET OUT OF MY WAY. Dude. No. There is no way I am running up the stairs to catch this train because guess what? It is rush hour and there will be another train in, like, five minutes, so chill out because I am NOT running.

So yeah, running, not for me, and yet I'm going to have to run pretty much constantly for the next two months or so if I have any hope of surviving the zombie apocalypse that I have somehow managed to talk myself into. Training for a 5K should turn out to be pretty entertaining to you, the ones who are smart enough to just sit there and watch me get chased by zombies instead of doing it yourself. I'll keep you posted. Now then, where IS that large automobile?

Monday, August 08, 2011

I'm With The Band (And Other Things Currently Scaring The Shit Out Of Me Right Now)

Whenever someone comes along and rips my heart out of my chest, then stomps it into mush, scoops what's left into a glass jar and puts the jar on shelf in a display case to keep as a trophy, I always react in the same way - by immediately engaging in a series of terrifyingly out of character behaviors that outwardly appear to be exciting new ventures but are really half-assed attempts at self-destruction. If I ever tell you I have taken up skydiving as a hobby, have decided to study entomology, or wish I had more opportunities for public speaking, you should probably assume I am actually just very sad and suggest moping about the house in sweatpants eating ice cream out of the carton as a safer alternative.

In news that may or may not be related to the preceding paragraph, I have recently joined a band and taken up burlesque dancing.

I signed up for burlesque classes in what can only be described as a fit of rage - reading through an awful e-mail (!) for the hundredth time, I suddenly went all Right Said Fred, decided I was too sexy for your party, and googled "burlesque lessons chicago" which led me to the fucking brilliant Studio L'Amour and the associated Everleigh Social Club, where after about 15 minutes into my first class, I decided I was going to become a Starlet as soon as possible. Then I actually saw the Starlets perform and thought "Holy shit, I will never be that good". Then I went home and decided I damn well will be that good even if it kills me because there really is no way I'm disco dancing, so I'm just going to have to shake my little tush on the catwalk. Now, I know there are a few people out there who don't know me as well as they think they do, and are wondering why I think taking my clothes off in front of strangers is out of character. I assure you that none of these people have ever seen me naked, and anyone who has knows that this is, in fact, very out of character for me. I'm just saying to watch out, I don't want you to trip over the irony. The point is, I'm doing that.

Almost immediately after signing up for the burly class, I got a message from my dear friend TTN Jon inviting me to audition for a band he was playing in called the Newburys. The singer they had sort of quit unexpectedly, and with a gig coming up they needed someone to fill in pretty quickly. I went to the audition and they liked me, so I started very quickly learning songs since all told we had precisely four rehearsals (including the audition) before the gig. So here's the thing - as much as I like to pretend to be all punk rock n' that, I've really only been to rock shows as a spectator. I've never actually been in a band before. Ever. Sure, I've been on stage singing loads of times, but classical music is an entirely different experience, one that seems custom made for me since having a personality is largely frowned upon. Fronting a rock band, however, almost invariably means talking to strangers, which falls squarely into the bucket of Things Amber Doesn't Do. Another problem - the friends who were coming to see us have all been in rock bands before and know what they are doing and I quickly developed a massive complex about sucking in front of them. I was also wholly convinced I was going to forget all the words, which terrified me until my amazing roommate pointed out that the songs were originals and no one in the crowd actually knew the words, so if I forgot them I could make something up and no one would know the difference.

I spent all day Saturday freaking the fuck out. I would frantically go over songs for an hour, then become worried I was over-preparing and start worrying about something else. Such as what to wear - I walked to Taboo Tabou and bought a corset because I obviously did not own one single thing I could possibly front a rock band in, which I then didn't wear because it seemed like I was trying too hard. Then I got worried I didn't know the words and went back to frantically going over songs. This cycle repeated itself until I finally just said "fuck it" and got in a cab before I could chicken out of the whole thing. This was my best move, really - I had a posse of supportive friends around me who kept me from disintegrating, plus the door guy who gave me some advice on my way in and lifted me off the ground in a giant bear hug on my way out.

I did ok, mostly. I remembered all the words, stayed on pitch and faced out at the audience, where Scott was taking millions of photos for me with my camera and holding my purse (he's a great purse holder, you can tell he's married) and Phil was standing down front giving me a thumbs up and mouthing encouraging things every time I looked at him (which was a lot). What I didn't do was sing particularly loud, move around very much or talk to the crowd really at all. The volume thing was mostly mechanical - many of the songs were at the far end of my range, and all the air in my lungs was being used up to hit the pitch correctly. The lack of movement was less stage fright and more a function of performing really depressing songs. Even with a catchy melody and an upbeat tempo, dancing around to a song with lyrics about spousal abuse seemed fairly inappropriate. Not talking to the crowd? Ok, that was all on me, but for real I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE so, you know, lay off me. We did well enough that the crazy guy with biking gloves on dancing in front started screaming for ONE MORE! which was really the only time I managed to speak to the crowd. "Oh thanks, but we can't. Seriously. We genuinely do not know any more songs. Really." This was not a lie. (Later crazy guy would say I was good and ask me to "touch" him. I put my hand on his shoulder and he thanked me and left.)

The one thing I hadn't thought to prepare for was that after our set, people I didn't know would come up and talk to me. I really have no idea why I didn't think of that, and it wound up being by far the most frightening part of the whole experience because HOLY SHIT PEOPLE ARE TALKING TO ME. Overall, though, I didn't die, which was where I had set the bar so I win.

Next up on the tour of Shit I Shouldn't Be Doing: I'm going to Baltimore to run a 5K while being chased by zombies. FYI - I don't run. Ever.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Battle Of The Florae

MrBalls*: my plant is dusty
i'm not sure how to dust it without cleaning every leaf

me: as far as i know that is the only way to clean a plant

MrBalls: it's got a lot of leaves though

me: ok new plan, get very drunk, then wash the plant

MrBalls: good plan, I was hoping to meet someone tonight but she is ill
maybe i'll just clean my plant

me: lol yes, that is a good substitute for a girl. plant.

MrBalls: hmm not sure about that, plants don't do the same things

me: oh right. sorry i was thinking of boys and vegetables

*MrBalls is a relatively new friend who has not appeared on Bizzybiz before. I have no idea what his real nickname is or if he even has one, and making one up based on things I know about him would all sound geeky (because most would have the word geek in them). He's asleep right now (I assume, or possibly drunk cleaning a plant) so I can't ask him about his nickname either. MrBalls comes from a fucking brilliant episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I have absolutely no idea why that popped into my head but suffice it to say it is in no way a reflection on my dear friend or his balls and in fact it does not remind me of him in any way whatsoever. I probably should have gone with something about ice cream (he likes it).

It's Shark Week Again, Y'all


Monday, August 01, 2011

Resolution (I Think)

I don't want to count my chickens here or anything, but I think I may have solved my mail delivery problem by outsmarting the post office. Also, I don't actually have any chickens, so can't do a lot of counting of them.

I have received actual mail, not junk mail, real mail addressed to me, at my home, for three of the last four days. Some of it came from people or organizations who recently had things they tried to mail me get sent back. I am cautiously optimistic that this will continue.

So how did I solve the problem? Because contacting the local post office on the internets did not work. Contacting the national post office online didn't work either. Phone calls to customer service, the local post office and the main Chicago branch were wholly ineffective. Complaining about the total lack of assistance when they sent me a survey about my recent experience garnered no results whatsoever. I was about to contact the Problem Solvers when I decided to try one more time in a last ditch effort before bringing in the big guns. Because the thing is, the US Postal Service is a huge bureaucracy, right? My telling them, again and again and AGAIN AND AGAIN that I hadn't moved did absolutely nothing to get my mail started because you can tell people they're doing it wrong until you're blue in the face, but unless you figure out a way to get inside the system, nothing is going to change. Well, I figured out a way: I used their online change of address feature and I changed my address from my apartment apartment. That's right, I changed my address from the one where I live to the exact same thing and lo and behold, a few days later I got a confirmation letter with a packet of "Welcome to the neighborhood" coupons from USPS, and shortly thereafter started opening my mailbox and finding actual mail inside it. I've beat them at their own game. Bravo, USPS, you are a worthy opponent, but I watch a lot of Star Trek and I am a master at using logic to defeat the illogical.