Archive for April, 2008

Bein’ Green

“But green’s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder,
I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful!
And I think it’s what I want to be.”

Kermit the Frog (It’s not Easy Bein’ Green, lyrics by Joe Rapposo)

Happy Earth Day! What are you doing to ‘save the planet’? Did you know that this year has been named The Year of the Frog by zoologists? Frogs are a barometer of our environment, as they are very sensitive to climate and habitat changes. If drastic measures aren’t taken to preserve their niches, they will follow the dodo and the dinosaurs.

I planted a garden the other day! Um, well, perhaps ‘garden’ is too generous a term. Living in an apartment building, I have zero outdoor space. Instead, I took a windowbox and set it up just inside the windowsill in my kitchen. I’m hoping to grow some herbs, but my garden still looks like a box of dirt. Yes, I am aware that it takes a while for seeds to sprout, but that doesn’t stop me from checking a couple times a day! To start with, I’ve planted flat-leaf parsley, basil, thyme, dill, and rosemary. I wonder if there is enough space in the box to grow some lettuce; I don’t need much.

I suppose I should also note that I have a black thumb. I enjoy having greenery in my apartment, but in general, plants don’t seem to enjoy me. I do have a few plants in my apartment. A friend gave a cactus, as they are low maintenance plants. I still have that original pot, but I believe this is the third cactus (this one’s an aloe) living in it. My other cactus has flowers and has had three bright pink flowers for as long as I’ve had it (a year maybe). Is this normal? Of my other plants, I have some ivy that took over the big pot it lives in, killing off it’s neighbor, and now it is trying to spread out over the whole room. And I have a variegated leafy thing that must simply have a very strong will to live.

Many of my coworkers are planning their summer gardens, which are, in some cases, over 1000 square feet! That seems like a lot of work to this lazy couch potato. But I guess the results are pretty good, and some of the veggies (like beans and peas) are freezable. Many of these same coworkers have animals as well. Ducks and chickens for eggs are the most common, although pigs are becoming popular, and I know of at least one person who plans to raise chickens for meat this summer. Maybe this is all just because I live in hickville, or maybe it is all part of the rising cost of energy and food and the attempt to consume more locally produced goods. You can’t get much more organic, either. My coworkers also spend a considerable amount of time discussing solar panels and wind turbines. This state also has one of the highest percentages of hydroelectric energy, due to our many rivers and streams. Huh. Who’d of ever thought that this state would have forward-thinking trend setters?

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“Run Like an Animal”

“Take a look at any school playground, see anyone jogging?

Our guess is no. In fact, what you will see is running. Running to the swings. Running down the ice cream truck. Running to pick up a stick. But not jogging. That’s because the act of jogging is a learned behavior. You see, somewhere between being told not to run in the halls and not to run with scissors, running morphed into a cautionary activity that’s done at the speed of chit-chat. And real running became dangerous. So it should come as not surprise that the majority of people grew up to be joggers, while sadly only a few continue to run. Next time you lace up, take a cue from our tiny-tot brethren. Run like an animal.”
~ Pearl Izumi ad (Runner’s World Magazine. p 65, May 2008.)

I love the above quote! It hits on so many levels. I only remembered the “run like an animal” bit and was planning to blog about just running, but when I looked it up again to find the source, I realized that it says a lot about life too.

Running

I’ve never ever been fast. In middle school I was one of the kids who couldn’t run a full mile. I had to walk much of it at the back of the pack, complaining with the fat kids (no, I wasn’t a fat kid). By the time I got to high school I already had several patella dislocations under my belt. I favored the knee; I hated to run. I switched from offense to defense in field hockey so I wouldn’t be running as much, and I visited the school’s trainer everyday before practice to get my knee taped up to hold it together.

I’d say I average about two dislocations a year, and I can reset it myself, although I prefer to have someone nearby do it for me. One time in Montreal, two of my friendly neighborhood homeless guys set it for me. Following my first x-rays in high school, an orthopedic surgeon told me I would need a total knee replacement by the time I was thirty. Conventional wisdom, particularly from non-runners, says that running will only speed up the inevitable destruction of my natural knee.

I’m an active person, and over the years I learned that certain situations are particularly dangerous for dislocations, certain actions hurt one part, other actions hurt a different part, and some actions don’t hurt at all. Walking on ice really frightens me; when my heel slips inward and toes go outward, I dislocate my knee. The same thing can occur on on other slippery surfaces. I also dislocate my knee by bumping it on something, such as the corner of a coffee table. Hiking (which I love to do) downhill and stair-stepper machines (which I avoid) hurt in front, down low. Lateral movements (eg jumping jacks) and pivoting motions (eg side heel kick) hurt deep inside the knee. Tennis? Basketball? F’gettaboutit. Running on a straight, flat surface of any material? No pain. Ever.

I had another round of x-rays and saw a sports med doc the other day. It was my first appointment with this doctor, and my first visit to a specialist in several years (my crappy disaster-level health insurance kept me from taking care of ‘optional’ issues). I approached the situation as “I am an athlete not a criple. Please work within that context.” It was a good visit. He clearly explained things that are shown on the x-ray. For example the tendon that holds the patella to the lower part of the leg is normally only slightly longer than the height of the patella itself. Mine is much longer, so the knee cap goes slack and sits above its groove when my leg is completely extended. Every time I take a step, my knee cap has to find that groove. It is unlikely I have ever torn something (eg ACL), as my dislocations have been numerous and similar, but not severely traumatic. He also pointed out that my quads are different sizes; I’ve been subconsciously protecting my knee fro years, resulting in the other side doing more work.

The prescription? Long term…probably surgery (but not in five years). Short term…strengthen the quads. Running (not including marathon training) on roads will help me develop stronger quads, as will one-side-at-a-time weight lifting. The doctor actually liked my running gait better than my walking gait.

But I still have the speed issue. I will run races this summer, in part to work toward my someday goal of completing a triathlon. My gym has a 5K in May, which I think will be my first. There is also a 7.5 run/walk from landmark A to landmark B in June that interests me (perhaps because of the word walk in its title). I had originally been thinking I could do the 5K in 30 minutes (slightly better than a 10 minute mile… a snail’s pace for a 25 year old). But I want to do better than that. I plan to run like an animal.

Life

We are taught to live cautiously, and in doing so we lose the freedom of childhood. Life could be so much more exciting if only we could rid ourselves of our inhibitions and chase down the ice cream truck. Remember how much fun that was? A 9-5 existence is frigin’ boring! Why must we always think before we act? Can’t we ever just be or ‘just do it’ (another sneaker ad)?

I know I live cautiously, but I’m too afraid to do any differently. How do I let go and get in touch with my inner animal?

Update on Yesterday’s Post

Did you read yesterday’s post, The Honeymoon is Over? So, here’s the update:

Foreman told me that tomorrow I will be heading over to The Beach (Yay!). Old Partner will be staying at the main facility (yay!). New Partner will be a nice, funny person hired last fall, and I’ll be the senior member of the team (yay!).

I later found out that a whole bunch of people are heading to The Beach, including CountryMusicFan and his nemesis RapFan, so it won’t be as quiet as I was hoping (Booooo!). I’ll have to remember ear plugs. Oh, well.

I think a change (a change)
Would do you good.

~Sheryl Crow

The Honeymoon is Over!

(lyrics to come when I have more time to think about it)
The honeymoon is so over. I even filed for a divorce today, but I haven’t told him yet.

NO! I’m not talking about my boyfriend… and NO! there wasn’t/isn’t a wedding. Ok? Got it?

I’m talking about the man I spend more time with than anyone else on the planet, who affectionately refers to me as the ‘old ball and chain’. He’s a curmudgeon and a dirty old bastard. In fact, I’ve been told by several observers that there already exists a sexual harassment file on him, and all I have to do is say the word. He’s harmless though, and he’s been my work partner for more than a year.

His lousy attitude brings me down and his angry/aggressive music makes me angry and aggressive. Our output is decent in terms of quality and quantity, but I need a break from this unhealthy relationship.

About a week ago he was out sick, and I got stuck doing a full day of hard labor, unassisted. I got it done, though, and this project is only a quick-and-dirty, get-it-done type job, as opposed to a drawn out, fussy one. We had planned to finish this project today, so I arrived this morning and was getting ready for the final step. He arrived and immediately started over at square friggin’ one. He was being much fussier than on any other part of the project; actually, I think he was milking it. He didn’t say one word to me in apology or explanation. He was wasting his time today and invalidating all the work I did while he was out. I finally walked away and found something else to do to cool off. Naturally, he started bitching about me to anyone who would listen to him whine for sticking him with all this extra work. For F***’s sake, he created the extra work!

I ran into my foreman a bit later and asked if he would be willing to mix up the pairings a bit. A year with one person is an awful long time. I also asked if there was work going on at one of our off-site locations (nicknamed “The Beach”); I’d love to spend a little time up there as it is quiet and less frenzied. He seemed receptive to the idea, but no plans have been made yet.

During our 2pm break today, a number of us were sitting outside, when a familiar car came down the drive. L used to work for the company, but quit the beginning of last summer. L and I were the only females at the time but were not the best of friends. I was raised a snob, and she was raised a redneck in an extreme which I have never before, or since, seen in a female. We were civil…she could never be considered ‘professional’. The guys all loved her because she baked cookies and flirted with them and thought nothing about taking off her shirt to show off her entire-back tattoo. Classy, huh? I wasn’t sorry when she quit, and since then? I’m the alpha female; this is my turf.

All the guys fawned over her during break as she bragged all about how much she’d been working lately (really? and you were done before 2pm?), how she’s spending two weeks in Mexico (probably to lick up the spilled beer left over from spring break), and how she’s going to take the whole summer off (I’d have to live in my car if I went without income for that long). Even my own boyfriend couldn’t get enough of her! She tried to steal him from me once before. Obviously, it didn’t work; he’s not into trailer trash.

Yeah, so the honeymoon is over. Between me and my work partner, and between me and my job (but hey, that’s not new).

I think I’ll go take a nice long lavender-scented bath. Someday when I own my dream house, I’m going to have a spa tub and one of those showers with water squirting from 20 different directions.

Aaaahhhhhh. That feels devine.

How May I Help You?

“Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long till ‘m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”

~The Temptations (Lean on Me)

How are you doing?

I’ve been doing pretty well lately. I’m confident that my improved mood and outlook has much more to do with the increased daylight than the drugs I’ve been taking. My therapist doesn’t see it, though, and she keeps coming back to the concept that I don’t have much of a support network.

Ok, it is true that I no longer talk to a single person I went to high school with. I was ready to escape everything about that place and I’ve never looked back. I also no longer talk to anyone I went to university with, although I did keep in touch with a couple people for a while. There are a couple people I do wonder what happened to, such as my almost-roommate who transferred because her parents needed her closer to home, and the other three members of my “Brat Pack” from first year.

I’ve never had lots of close friends. I was very social and outgoing as a young child, but that diminished as I got older (I blame my parents for isolating me…. a long story). Now I’m a quiet person and I don’t really make deep connections with other human beings.

But I do believe that you get what you give. Karma. ‘Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only changed from one form to another’ — physics / conservation of energy. I have energy, and I’m doing good these days, but someday again, I’m going to need somebody to lean on. Until then, how may I help you?

A Blonde Moment

The other day I got into my car after work and started up the hill out of the parking lot. I heard a squeaking noise and thought, ‘Oh great. What’s wrong with my car this time?’ Then I realized the noise was just little birdies chirping. It’s been a long winter.

Guess What?!

(Song selection? Any suggestions? Or better yet, just go listen to “In the Mood” originally performed by Glenn Miller & Orchestra, because this is one of the songs I’m trying to learn.)

I’m so excited about my newest thing: I joined a band!! No, this is not a garage band dreaming of record deals and groupies. This group is a local community band that performs many summer-through-holidaze concerts, ranging from appearances at fairs, parades, and other country-living events statewide. Fortunately, we will not be playing all country and bluegrass music.

I haven’t played with a group since high school; I am used to being a soloist, free to choose and interpret music as my ear sees fit. It feels strange, yet familiar in a riding-a-bike way, to look over the page to a director at the front reminding us of the beat, the drum behind trying to do the same, and the sounds of many performers playing individual parts to come together as a harmonious sound. Of course, as a tenor sax player, I sit near the back, so I don’t always hear all the sounds in front of me.

I am, by far, the youngest person in the group, which I’m told, numbers 40-50 in the middle of the summer. I also play the oldest looking instrument; my sax is an early 1940’s King Zephyr. Judging by looks and the effort required to play it, it has had a hard life. I really do love my sax, but if I had the money for a replacement, this one could be retired. I don’t need or want a brand-shiny new instrument; I would like a well made, well maintained, vintage horn. The tonal quality matures over time, much like a fine wine needs to age. Besides, a brand new, shiny yellow colored sax doesn’t evoke the same feeling of down-and-out old time blues, which this sax snob feels is absolutely necessary.

I’ve now been to two rehearsals and received brand new music both nights. Or first performance is next weekend, with no more rehearsals before then. I’m one step beyond sight reading, and I’m the only tenor who was even given the music for the performance. We are going to suck!! But I’m having so much fun. In these last couple of weeks, our rehearsals have been the only events in my life that keep me smiling from beginning to hours afterwards.