Boob Tube

I had this half written as I was adding up the hours of tv I watch a week (5-6?) and feeling kind of icky about it.  I wanted to make a list of what I watch to help myself see where maybe I could cut back.  But now I’m considering this a response to Zoë Stagg’s call for recommendations.

I grew up in a tv house.  My mom loved her soaps.  I loved Saved by the Bell in the afternoons.  We generally watched tv while we ate dinner.  I have a hard time turning it off if it’s on.

Which is why about six years ago I dumped my television, to kick the habit.  Literally, I put it in the dumpster.  (Which, in retrospect, I regret.  But I was 22 and I didn’t know about electronics recycling.)  I had a gym membership to a fancy Y with tvs on every cardio machine.  If I really wanted to watch something, I could watch it on the treadmill.

I also had a blockbuster online membership, so I watched some shows via DVD in the mail, and I owned Felicity on DVD.  I think abc started putting some shows online around 2007?  I remember streaming Desperate Housewives on my laptop while I blow dried my hair.

And then I was introduced to the world of file sharing.  And then hulu came along.

So now, although I don’t own a television set, I may as well since I own a computer.  And even have an older iMac downstairs set up in front of a couch that is pretty much only for tv watching.

I’m nearly back where I started.  And I don’t love it.  But I’m not sure which of my shows, which of my stories, I can stop following.

Can’t miss, and they’re really good:

Grey’s Anatomy – Makes me cry every episode.  I started this on my own on a long weekend by myself when Chris was out of town, and then re-watched the first few seasons when he started it.  Then I started on season one again a while back. Love.  Probably has the most fleshed our characters of any show I can think of.

Modern Family – Makes me crack up every episode. Discovered last October after an open bar library fundraiser.  Chris and I spent the entire next day in the dark, eating junk food, drinking gatorade, and falling in love with this show.  I think we plowed though a good 14 episodes of the first season that day.

How I Met Your Mother – Hilarious, and reminds me of living in San Diego.  What I love abut this show are the running jokes, the ridiculous continuity.  Something from season two can easily pop up as a gag in season five.

Don’t want to miss, but they’re embarrassing. Usually watch in the tub or on the treadmill:

The Bachelor – I’m fascinated by the editing and trying to tell what’s real and what’s editorial story telling.  I don’t ever trust a close up facial expression happened in sequence, or that a voiceover is uncut.

Gossip Girl – When it’s good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, you can still watch for the wardrobe (headbands!) alone.

Glee – I get why people don’t like it but I love it.  It has hit and miss epsiodes, but when it’s really on, it cracks me up, and the soundtrack has gotten me though many workouts.

On in the summer only, so I don’t feel so bad:

Royal Pains – Cute and silly.  Love seeing what Divya’s wearing and shows about savants are always fun.

Drop Dead Diva – Silly and cute.  Like Royal Pains, there’s something fun about a main character who always saves the day in the end.  It’s the kind of show that makes being a lawyer look about 1,000 times more fun than it probably is.  Like Ally McBeal, except the main character is on the opposite end of the body type spectrum and less sappy sad parts.

Watch sometimes:

Parenthood – Hi, Lauren Graham.  Hi, awesome ensemble cast.  Hi, layered scenes with lots of people talking dialogue. Hi, adorable kiddo with Aspergers.

30 Rock – Normally saved for when I have nothing else to watch, it makes me giggle.  Tiny Fey is adorkable and scenes with Tracy Morgan are infinitely quotable.

Parks & Rec – I really like it when I’m watching it, but if I miss it I don’t, ah, miss it.

Weeds – Season one was awesome, fun satire of the suburbs, but each seasons since I’ve liked a little less.

Not on anymore, but worth hunkering down with the boxed set from time to time:

The West Wing – Most amazing television show ever.  Aaron Sorkin, you can do no wrong.  (From the same canon: Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.)

Scrubs – So funny.  Again with running jokes.  Fast timing, extended day dream sequences, and the minor characters make it (Janitor and Ted).  Plus Sarah Chalke.  Love her.

Pushing Daisies – Beautifully shot, clever stories, and Kristin Chenoweth.  Plus I’ve noticed I really really like shows with narrators (Grey’s, Gossip Girl, Arr Dev, Scrubs, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, How I Met Your Mother…)

Arrested Development – I’ve had many fun debates about who the best character on this show is.  There are too many to ever choose.

Felicity – I still have a crush on Scott Foley (and am thrilled he’s on Grey’s Anatomy now) and every time I wonder if Felicity will still be as good and gut wrenching to me as when I watched it in high school, I watch it again and it totally is.

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Swim, Bike, Run, Boogie!

Best race ever! 

We broke our normal routine of getting to the race site 30 minutes before anything is even open and arrived a solid fifteen minutes after transition opened.  Aaaand we still ended up sitting around for an hour waiting for the race to start.  I suppose it beats running late and being panicked.

It was dark and super cold when we arrived, but the sun was just starting to rise over the water and it was super pretty. I didn’t take this picture, but I did google “union reservoir longmont sunrise” and it totally looked like this:

Racked the bikes, wet-suited up.  The usual.

I don’t know how other people do the post-transition pre-swim.  I think I need to start buying throw away flip flops because walking on the ground barefoot friggin’ hurt but I didn’t want to wear my flip flops to the water because where would I put them when it was time to start, hmmm?

They never really announced that the water was open for warming up, but two or three of us just got in and then before we knew it everyone was in, swimming around.  It was nice that there was an area of water next to the start where you could just chill in the water until your wave was up.  (True story: my wave was women 29 and under and men 50-55.  I tried to make a joke about US Weekly two times, and two times no one laughed.)  Being able to hang out in the water while waiting means you don’t have to get acclimated, get out, and then start over. Good stuff.

Of course, by the time my wave was actually up, I was hungry (true story: I almost picked up an unopened gel someone had dropped on the ground I was so starving) and I had to pee again.  (Sad story: a girl broke her goggles 30 seconds before our wave started swimming.  So I should shut up about being a little peckish.)  I knew I ate a good breakfast (bagel and almond butter) and that I could certainly swim for twenty minutes with a slightly rumbly belly.

Whoops!  I said I didn’t have any time goals for this race.  That was a lie.  I had secret goals, and finishing the swim under twenty minutes was one of them.  And even though I started out too fast (like always) and had a hard time catching my breath (like always) and stopped to turn around a poor girl who got herself turned around and ended up heading enthusiastically away from the finish (that was new), I hit my goal!  I’m not sure if the course was 750 or 800 meters, though.  The website said a half mile and 750 meters.  Math is hard, y’all.

Swim time: 19:42                      

I tried to hustle to my bike but I didn’t run.  Wetsuit off, socks, shoes, shirt, sunglasses, more spray sunscreen, helmet, and we were off!

Transition one:  3:06, but most of that was getting from the lake to the transition area. 

The bike was fun!  It was fast and flat, but I was being a little careful not to push too hard because I wanted to enjoy this race and not feel miserable on the run. We were in a residential area, and they had one of those “this is your speed signs” which was kind of fun since it registered us cycling, too.  It was a three loop course, and I got passed by a lot of dudes going crazy fast on my first lap, but then they went off to run and it was a lot more chill for the other laps.  I still mostly got passed (by people not riding Target bikes they got at garage sales, I assume) but I did a little passin’ myself.  I only seem to pass people when going on a slight uphill.  Not sure of the significance there.  I ate some shot blocks (delicious!) and sipped some gatorade from my water bottle. 

When I finished my third lap and veered back towards transition I was feeling awesome and doing a little song and dance on my bike and giving the volunteers one-hand-up-in-the-air “holla!“‘s.  The bike is where the wheels fell off the bus last time so I was feeling good.  Even if I did have to literally kick  my crank a few times to make my bike shift. Whatevs.                      

Bike time: 45:46 (And my secret goal was 45 minutes for 12.4 miles, so yay!)

Coming out of transition after the bike:

Chris was really nice to get photos of me racing, but I messed with the camera settings so they all turned out blurry and tiny.  But I have a bunch of them!

Transition two: 1:13.  Bike down.  Remembered to take my helmet off.  Another spritz of sunscreen.

And finally the run felt great!  I felt like I was going fast when I took off, so I just went with it.  I walked a little at the top of a hill and through both aid stations, but otherwise I kept up a pretty good pace.  I didn’t have a watch or anything, but I know I slowed down towards the end.  Passed a bit, got passed a bit, and then it was over!

Run time: 33:40, and I think this beats my previous 5k record by 3 seconds.  I will never be fast at running, but I’m getting less slow.

Finished!  And I felt awesome, which was my number one, not-a-secret goal. 

Chris had kindly snagged my a veggie burrito (disadvantage to being a back of the pack-er: they run out of veggie burritos sometimes) and I finally got to pee.  I kept thinking there would be a port a loo somewhere on the course but no luck.  At least it motivated me to run faster.  I had no idea on any of my times since I wasn’t wearing a watch, but when I saw my results posted on a board I did a whole little dance to the song that was playing, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”  ♫ Thank the non-supernatural forces in the universe that I’m an urban dwelling gal who likes triathlons…♫

My season is over!  And this was such a great note to end on, but it’s time to hang up my wetsuit. Until next summer!

Triathlon FAIL Post Mortem

I know it’s kind of silly, but the only reason I even finished my last race was because I’d been talking about for ages and I couldn’t imagine having to tell the story of giving up a dozen times.  And the medal.  Most of the races I’ve done don’t have medals, but now I have two.  We thought maybe this one was supposed to double as a bottle opener, but no such luck.

Here are some things that went wrong:

  • The gears on my bike are cranky and the front gears only shift with great cajoling and pleading.  Not great when combined with fairly steep rolling hills.
  • I didn’t spend a lot of time on my actual bike in training, though I logged a lot of time on the spin bike at the gym and the exercise bike in my house.
  • This was a serious friggin’ race.  There was no one else rocking clothes (and bike) from Target.  I was intimidated, a little over my head.
  • It started in the afternoon.  So I had all morning to be nervous.  I used up all my adrenaline pacing around in my house and had none left by the time I got to the race.
  • I think I was dehydrated.  Warning, possibly more than you want to know, but even though I drank a water bottle full of gatorade on the bike and drank water and/or gatorade at every aid station, I didn’t have to pee until later that evening, after I’d had two beers.  I don’t know how this is possible since I drink water all day long like it’s my job, but there you go.
  • Never have time goals for your first time doing a distance!

Additionally, I just want to point out that this was a slow race overall.  The organization put on the exact same race in June with the only difference being that it started in the morning instead of in the afternoon.  The first place men and women’s times were about ten minutes slower, and I spotted a few names of people who did both races and found six people who were faster in June than in August.  Starting in the afternoon is just not fun.

So!  I have my last race of the season tomorrow, a sprint in Longmont.  No time goals.  I want to PR in fun.  I mean, I have a general idea of how fast I will end up going, but my only goal is to not be crabby and mopey at the finish line. 

Just started the sync read book while eating tacos! The first few pages are kind of…intense. But flipping forward, it looks like once this initial monologue ends and other characters enter the dialogue, the narrative style settles down a bit. Probably could have done without the description of the mole on his bald head and his “melting liver” while I was eating, but at least it’s not the intense surgery scenes from Cutting for Stone.

PS library books being available on Kindles is happening TODAY. I need a new e-reader since I killed mine. Trying to resist the urge to put a Kindle in my cart with overnight shipping, and instead leave it on my birthday/christmas list.

25 Books in 2011 Update

I set a goal to read 25 books in 2011, with a secret goal of getting closer to 30.  As of today, I’m at 18!  Fun facts: 18 is 72% of 25, and September 18th is 72% of the way through 2011.  These are the 13 I’d read as of June, and here’s where I’ve gone since:

Bossypants

Bossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hilarious. Made me love her more than I already do. A bit vulgar without just being gross. Definitely had giggle out loud moments. Also, I am a sucker for behind the scenes stuff. (That’s why I am obsessed with Aaron Sorkin.) I loved hearing about how she ended up on SNL, how the Palin skits went down, etc.

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to say it lived up to the hype. I was totally engrossed. Not seeing the movie, though! Due to the ethical issues with training the performing animals they used.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man! I had just a bit of a hard time settling into the narrative style, but after maybe 30-40 pages I was hooked. It’s a really beautiful story, and even though there are sad parts, I like that the narrator gives you “spoilers” so you see them coming.

  The Widower's Tale

The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved. I cannot say enough good things about this book. I loved the characters and the story telling was top notch. The author writes very deliberately but the foreshadowing and later tie ins aren’t too tidy. While I still wonder what will happen to these people down the road, the ending was still satisfying.

  A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I know empirically that this is a Good Book. It won a zillion awards (including a friggin’ Pulitzer) and I recognize that it’s got interesting structure and it’s all post modern and junk.

But I thought it was boring. I enjoyed the first chapter, about Sasha and her therapist, and I enjoyed the chapter about Dolly and Lulu and their trip with Kitty. The rest couldn’t hold my attention. The article about the reporter meeting Kitty was maybe the most boring. (I couldn’t make myself read the footnotes. I was already too annoyed.) The last chapter I only managed to finish because I knew I was so close to the end I was sprinting to the finish line. I cannot stand text speak in books, especially used heavily and unrealistically.

“nxt 2 myn. no mOr Ar/lyt.” 

Seriously? Stop it. Why is that O randomly capitalized?  That isn’t abbreviation.  Gah.

Next up!  The Great Sync Read.   As soon as I finish my current book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I’m enjoying it very much, and should be finished in the next day or two.

Minnesota!

My sister got married!  To a super nice guy who I like a lot.

I was the only bridesmaid, and I did double duty as flower girl so I ripped some petals off of her toss bouquet and tossed them as I walked down the aisle.  Both of us ended up kicking off our heels before the ceremony even started and I did the ceremony and reception barefoot.  My sister put on flip flops.  I felt like I didn’t do a lot of the traditional maid of honor duties (I didn’t throw a shower or bachelorette party, though her friends in Seattle did) but at least I came through in the last second when she realized she didn’t have anything old!  I have been sometimes wearing our great grandmother’s wedding ring, so I took it off and she slipped in on her pinkie.  Crisis averted.

I felt kind of badly that I didn’t get a chance to shower before the ceremony.  We were at the salon all morning for hair and nails, and then my mom and my sister both wanted me to do their makeup.  It just felt kind of rude to stand up as someone’s maid of honor looking less than completely polished.  But, it was crazy hot inside the old church anyways, so everyone was melting in ten minutes.  I ended up being glad I didn’t waste time. 

The wedding photographer took about a zillion photos in the church (literally, it was like an hour and a half).  I wish they’d just taken them right outside on front of this cornfield that was next to the church parking lot.  It was cooler outside, and I thought it was a neat backdrop, but this is the only photo I got.

Since we were in Minnesota for five days, I went over to my grandma’s old neighborhood and took my nephew to the park kitty corner from her house.  I used to play here every day in the summer.  I couldn’t see her front door from the swings, but I could hear the screen door slam and her holler, “Melissa Lynn!”

These see-saws didn’t have the tires under them when I was little.  We used to try to bounce each other on the ground as hard as we could.  They’ve made this park a lot safer (the stuff I played on was old and rickety, but hey, I didn’t get hurt).

I brought workout clothes and big goals, but I only ended up going for one short run.  It was weird to run on a dirt road next to corn fields.  It was really different from the urban environment I was used to, and the one or two cars that went by kicked up some pretty big dust clouds.  I found myself wondering how people train for long races here.  Do they just run on these country roads?  Is it safe to bike on these roads?  There are obviously tons of lakes, but are any set up for measured distance swimming?

Chris and I ended up killing some time wandering around historic downtown Alexandria one afternoon.  It was a neat spot, and I wondered again what it would be like to live there.  I spent a ton of time here as a kid, but I don’t remember it well.  I am trying not to spend money after a disastrously expensive summer, but I tried on this dress and texted a picture to my friend, “Cute or too morman?”  She replied “mormon cute” but then told me I wasn’t allowed to wear it with a floppy hat.  I really liked it, so it came home with me.  It wasn’t expensive, and I’ve been on the hunt for maxi dresses that don’t have stupid spaghetti straps

I was excited every time I saw someone riding their bike this whole trip, just because rural Minnesota isn’t super bikeable (like, where my Grandma lived was 12 miles away, by interstate,  from a grocery store).  I was pumped to see this guy, and even more pumped when I realized he was giving his cat a ride on his shoulder!  There was much scrambling with phones to snap this photo.

Fun weekend.  It was good to see family, even if I did have to answer “When are YOU getting married?” nine zillion times.  (My standard answer, “I’m not really interested in getting married, but you’re more than welcome to buy us towels if you like.”  Followed by a heavy internal eye roll.)

Come home, soon!

Man.  Apple.  Way to be crazy ridiculous awesome.  I dropped my computer off Tuesday night, the repairs (totally not covered by the warranty since I spilled on it) are friggin FREE, and it’s already on its way back to the store for me to pick up tomorrow (I hope).  Love you, Steve!