29 December 2013

it's that time of year

it's year-end and time again for resolutions and goals. in the past, i've conflated the two, but this year, i am making an actual resolution and setting a couple goals.

the resolution is to correct a bad and worsening habit: i have a tendency to cut in when other people are talking. this happens because first, i can figure out where you are going with what you are saying, and second, i have already formulated a reply, and third, i am rude as hell. it's just getting out of control, and i need to stop before i am That Person.

the goals are to renew my lifeguard certification and to run the lansing marathon in 4:30:00 or less.

i went through lifeguard training three years ago, and it was difficult then, thus i am sure it will be so this time as well. i'm significantly older than the other students, and i'm sure they'll be nice like they were last time, but it's just awkward. also, i wear contact lenses so during the class, i use swimming goggles to protect my eyes. goggles are dorky, but hey, i am not leaving multi-dozen dollar lenses in the pool. beyond their inherent dorkyness, goggles aren't allowed in the test, so not only is the test stressful, but the difference in equipment is stressful. i mean, losing one or both contacts during testing wouldn't be so bad, but the difference between what i am used to and testing situation is simply a stressor. anyway, i am confident i'll pass, and i am up for the challenge, but at the same time, i wish it were already done.

as for lansing, i am thinking 4:29:59 would be a good goal there. i've tried to run hard and fast and ended up hurt, so i don't want to do that again. i've never broken 4:30, so why not just focus on that for a change and stop chasing after every shiny goal that crosses my path?? it's not that i am not up for a challenge -- it's that i don't want to be a fool about it. i am not willing to give up soccer or lifeguard certs, and i am not in the shape i was last year, so 4:30 is a reasonable goal. i've contacted my coach from last year, but if she doesn't want to mess with me, that's cool. i mean, i could use the support, but i could also just cobble together a training plan and muddle through on my own.


what about you?

23 December 2013

the night before the night before christmas

'twas the night before the night before christmas,
and all through the hood
not a creature was stirring.
at the mall?

so i donned my mittens,
long sleeves, tights, and cap,
and ventured outside
for a cold winter's lap.

the sun, how it glistened
off iced holly berries!
the wind my cheeks burnished
to hues of bright cherry.

i crested the hill
and met with surprise
a ginormous brown truck
and a man,
small of size.

i slowed to a walk,
and approached him with care,
not knowing if he knew
i knew
he was there.

as i neared, he looked up,
and his face broke a smile
"hey there, ace!" said this man,
"come and chat for a while."

i startled and jumped,
when he called me by name.
then, i softly said, "santa?"
he said, "one, and the same."

so we sat on the tailgate
of his mighty truck,
and he told a sad story
of terrible luck.

"it started last summer,"
said santa to me,
"when rudolph came out of
the closet, you see."

he went on, "he ran off,
and took prancer and vixen,
and so you can see
i was a fix in."

"couldn't you replace
three flying reindeer,"
i asked somewhat boldly,
"fore snow fell this year?"

"alas," said poor santa,
"if that were the all...
my real troubles are stuff
that kids see at the mall."

"electronics." i said,
with grim realization.
santa's elves can't construct
with computerization.

santa sighed and agreed,
his elves were outdone.
"they've gone off to be dentists."
said santa, "each one."

"so, you're on your own?!"
i exclaimed with dismay,
"santa - you're delivering
toys now? this day?"

"i," said old santa,
"must start anon'er,
to deliver the orders
from damned

i clambered right down
off that rusty tailgate
and told poor, old santa,
"i won't make you late."

but he caught my arm
and said, "ace, won't you stay?
i could sure use your help
right now,
this day."

i patted his hand
and told him i would.
i'd be santa's helper.
(on his list, i'd be good!)

so we worked together
to put out those 'zon boxes
at houses all up
and down the hood's blockses.

we finally got done,
it was just about dark,
so i offered him space
in my driveway to park.

he said, "thanks but no thanks,
ace, i can't stay.
i have as many deliveries
tomorrow as today."

so i headed to go home,
as he drove out of sight.

happy christmas, dear santa.
may you find peace,

22 December 2013

lollipop crush


this is an ideal blog post.

firstly, i also am struggling with level 158. so this post offers me solace. clearly 61 commenters are finding something also.

secondly, notice how she takes a small, everyday, yes-i'll-say-it trivial topic and stretches it to a wider theme. that is precisely what i wish to do here. it's brilliant, what she's done. from the invitro parallels to the call-to-action style philosophical challenge at the end. kudos, lollipop goldstein!

i envy this post in a way that inspires me. i am not bitter. i do not begrudge lollipop goldstein her candy crush success nor her stellar composition skills. if anything, i am crushing on her and want to write like her when i grow up.

18 December 2013

a christmas story

i'm feeling pretty defensive about christmas.

christianity is getting a bad rap these days, and christians are painted as closed-minded folk bent on pushing their point of view. at the same time, christians are feeling persecuted, boxed in. but imma say this: when a tenet of your beliefs tells you that this one way is the only way -- and another tenet tells you it's your purpose in life to convince everyone you meet that this way is their only chance -- to avoid eternal punishment... well... that's a bit of pressure right there. all that responsibility on your shoulders, last thing you need is some yahoo replacing "merry christmas" with "happy holidays". THERE ARE SOULS AT STAKE FOR GOSHSAKES!

anyway. i was raised in what would best be called a christian home. i mean, we weren't buddhist or muslim or another definable category. we didn't go to church a ton or anything, but still, during the time when i was a child, my family of origin would have identified as christian.


i celebrate christmas because my family did. does. do. will have been doing.

i also celebrate because i have read the christian bible my self and taken time to understand it for myself and believe a good portion of what is stated therein. HOWEVER. i believe a lot of things that aren't in there and i believe there are connections between what i believe that's in there and what i believe that's not in there, and sometimes i see connections and sometimes i don't, but more than anything, i believe that I DON'T KNOW IT ALL.


i celebrate christmas because it's a celebration of things i feel are worth celebrating.

and, i celebrate christmas because it's built on celebrations of other things, more ancient things, that i ALSO feel are worth celebrating.


i am feeling defensive about christmas because i want to celebrate christmas WITHOUT HAVING TO APOLOGISE to the groups that celebrate and are offended by my not feeling persecuted OR to the groups that don't celebrate and are offended by my celebration.


here's a story that explains what christmas means to me. it's a story about me and my brothers -- crown prince, descartes, and sweet baby james.


back in the day, we kids would get gifts from santa in our stockings and the old codger would also leave unwrapped stuff sort of laying around the den. each kid's stuff would be in a separate pile. one year after crown prince & i were old enough to know better, decartes & sweet baby james were still receiving lots of santa gifts. i don't remember all the particulars of the gift situation, but i do remember that we each got a few things in our stockings and the little boys got santa gifts, too.

what they got that year was NFL gear. not the pretend uniforms with helmets, no, no. nothing mainstream and athletic like that. rather, what they received were raincoats and boggin hats, each emblazoned with the logo of an individual team that was apparently randomly selected by santa from the sears catalog based on raincoat & boggin hat size. descartes got the bengals, and he became a sort of ersatz bengals fan because of it. sweet baby james got the redskins, and promptly stopped believing in santa.

at any rate... after all the stocking-emptying and general santa gift excitement had died down, descartes came over to me and said, "what did you get from santa?" and i showed him the stuff from my stocking, and said, "this stuff here. this is what i got." but he knew that the stocking stuff didn't really count as santa gifts so he said, "no, really. what did you get?" and, i showed him the stocking stuff again, and said, "this."

now, descartes was puny and i was not. the clothes he wore on his body were significantly smaller than anything i could wear... but he looked at me, and he put his wee tiny hand on my shoulder, and he said, "that's okay. you can wear what i got anytime you want."


14 December 2013

sometimes you just wanna...

eat the ice cream. buy the dog. take the trip. run eight miles.

sometimes i get an idea in my head and i just want to do it. or, almost like - just HAVE to do it. there is nearly no stopping me, once i've decided, which is why i don't go too close to the edge in high places or too close to the railroad tracks when the train is in view. i just might jump. i just might try to beat the train. if i get the idea in my head that that's what i want to do, my mind won't let go until i've done it. my mind just keeps nagging and nagging, won't move on... obsessed? maybe. so, it's best not to tempt myself with the opportunity to decide to beat the train when the gate is going down.


today, i decided i wanted to run eight miles. i'm not trained up to that, but i'm sort of basically in shape, so it's not going to kill me. why do i want to? who knows. that's the thing about these notions - they can come from nowhere. but, today, my mind wanted to go run eight miles and since i can't trust it to wander about on its own, i went with.

... ...

i check the weather and it's 48º, cloudy, light winds, so i go with shorts and a long sleeved shirt. #protip: you're better served to actually go the fck outside and not rely on internet weather reports.

i get dressed, collect my garmin and keys, and head to the car. i am driving to a start point that will position me for an eight miles i've done before. i'm allowing my mind eight miles, not a crazy adventure that might go longer. i mean, c'mon.

from house to garage-kept car to parking lot. i step out and realize right away that it's a coldass 48º. glad i have a hat. wish i had gloves. i start my garmin, pull my sleeves over my hands, and set off. after a half mile or so, i'm warm enough.

i pass a girl, and then another, going the other way. smile, wave. there's a guy on the other side of the road. then a guy coming at me, pass, smile, wave. that guy on the other side has turned around and is heading back where he came from.

i like this feeling of community... this sort of disconnected connection. we're all out here together yet each of us is alone. we are all doing the same thing yet each of us is doing our own thing.

this is one of the things i really like about running - how it's like a universal language. like math. 2+2 is always 4 no matter where in the world you are. and while we each make our own "thing" out of running, we are all runners.

i think on this awhile, but i don't make too much of it because first, to me, it's a given, and second, running is a time when i let my mind wander. like a big dog, my mind needs to run around or it'll pee on the floor.

my carpplegänger goes by and i don't catch sight of the driver. probably for the best. while i'm always eager to see who's driving my carpplegänger, i am all too often disappointed to see it's a yawn-inspiring middle-aged man.

i see quite a bit of paper strewn around the grass up ahead. litterers. you're making that indian guy cry. i get closer and see some of it is mail. now i'm conflicted - do i pick it up? i decide to leave it.

traffic is heavier on this side of the hill, where there're starbucks and gas stations and a sonic. i'm close to the turnaround spot and starting to do a mental inventory of the contents of my fridge. what'll i eat when i get home?

i plan to go to 4.1 miles before i turn around because that leaves room to walk at the end. i'm at 3.8, and i'm feeling pretty good. hey, this is going to be allright! i am nearly on the backtrack! i'm going to do it!

at 4.15, i turn to head back and hit a wall of wind. whaaat? apparently, this has been at my back. well, who knew. probably those runners going the other way with those mysteriously pained looks on their faces. huh.

so, okay, now i am freezing. feels like it's dropped several degrees. i pull my sleeves back down from where i'd pushed them past my elbows, and tuck my hands back inside. damn. it's cold.

i keep picking up the pace to stay warm and slowing down because i know i can't maintain the faster pace the entire way back. my hip hurts. my muscles are tired. my breathing is sort of getting worn out.

here's that strewn mail again, and this time i stop to pick it up. three cello-window-business-envelope letters addressed to folks with a last name containing more consonants than vowels. i stack the letters neatly under a tree.

i'm sort of grinding now, but i know i'm on the homestretch. 2.5 or so miles to go, probably. i'm not certain because i'm not looking at the garmin because i know i am going slow and i'm determined to disregard the pace.

my mind has quieted. snippets of a tune float by. i don't bother stopping it, just let it weave through, ebb and flow. i'm feeling good, feeling lucky. i think about people who can't run. like, newborn babies. amputees. fat-fat-fatties.

waiting for the light to change, then it changes, and i am climbing the last hill. unlike at the monkeython - where lying signs pepper the course - this IS the last hill. it's a doozy, up and up for at least half a mile.

despite the climb, i am still cold at the top. just over a mile from the finish, i pick up the pace a little. after crossing the last street, i look at the garmin - .4 to go. i pick up the pace even more and finish the last mile in 10:34.

yeah, my fastest mile was 10:34, but what the hell. i wanted to run eight miles, so i went out and ran eight miles. back in the car, i check the weather again, and it's climbed to 49º. well, so much for "it's getting colder". i blame the wind.

at home, i drink water, then some milk, then i hit the showers. after 20 minutes of steamy heat, i bundle up in leggings, sweatshirt, warm socks, and pad to the kitchen for cheese and crackers. mmm...

exercised and warm and fed, i fall asleep on the couch and dream quiet dreams.

11 December 2013

do you hear what i hear

it's that time of year... the time when we're pounded over the head with the christmas-holiday dichotomy. because nothing says "joy" like a heated argument. but, c'mon... of all the false dichotomies in the world, you had to walk into mine, amiright? i mean, christmas IS a holiday.

okay, okay. i get "IT". i get that "happy holidays" is designed to intentionally hide the fact that the holiday in question is christmas, and the motivation to hide christmas is to cover up the christ part which is of course the attraction of christmas and simultaneously the repulsion, the part that triggers intense cognitive dissonance. i mean, jesus didn't really go around preaching "buy your kids lots of toys and whatnot!".


1. antagonistically pushing a my-way-or-the-highway philosophy over something as trivial as nomenclature is sort of the opposite of peace, love, and joy.

2. other religions' high holy days fall at various times during the year. if you were to say "happy holiday" to a jew during yom kippur or to a muslim during ramadan or to a druid during alban elfed -- what you're most likely to get in return is sincere appreciation of your recognition of their holiday. so, ye followers of christmas, when you are presented with "happy holiday", why not simply say... thanks.

3. back in the day, the native folk were bringing a tree into the cave in midwinter to celebrate the waxing daylight, to honour this proof that the universe had not abandoned them to the lengthening night. early christians, in turn, co-opted that event to use as the celebration of jesus's birth. (you didn't think he was actually born in midwinter, did you?) so now the pagans want their holiday back. how about, let them have it? instead of focusing on how many ways you can feel persecuted, try focusing on how you can feel joy.

4. christians are all the time bemoaning the commercialization of christmas, yet there they are, trying to christmasize the commercial. if you don't like the retailers telling you "happy holiday", how about you don't participate in holiday shopping? however, on the other hand, if you do choose to venture into their world and partake of their culture, being as you are on their turf, how about you refrain from telling them how to behave? just because you're all conflicted about burying the meaning of christmas (the meaning YOU understand) under your overindulgent spending, don't take it out on folks who don't have your context.

in conclusion, may your days be merry... and bright.

07 December 2013

restore factory settings

when i originally set it up, my excitement over the netbook experience overwhelmed my good sense, and i began using the admin account right off the bat. i know it's best to create a clearcut setup -- an admin account and a standard one, using the standard to do daily work and the admin to do updates.

i simply neglected that, and by the time i realized what i was doing, i felt too far in to abandon the account, so i created another admin account and used that one to mark the first as standard. in one fell swoop, i had successfully confused the admin functionality across two accounts.

over the years, the crossed up authority led to misaligned updates, with one account inching ahead, then the other inching ahead, and for poor little toshibook, keeping track of what was where and which was when eventually got to be too much. the processor just churned and churned.

every transaction felt like wading through thick mud. folders, files, browser windows - all of it was sluggish at best, frequently non-responsive. i craved a clean slate, so i decided to create a new user account. several error messages later, the new user account seemed out of reach, and the state of toshibook, more dire.

beginning to feel a bit urgent about a fresh start, i considered a system restore. the first step (recommended by system software) was to create a restore disk. (there's no CD drive in toshibook, so it'd have been a restore "thumb drive".) again, i was assaulted with errors messages and had to abandon the effort.

this is when i began considering a complete restore to factory settings. a "pro": there wasn't any complicated software installed, no itunes or anything like that. documents, pictures, all normal stuff -- windows puts that stuff in the user file, which was easily copied to the aforementioned thumb drive.

my main concern about factory reset was that i'd misstep and end up with a useless hunk of metal and plastic -- that i'd somehow delete the OS and be forced into the netherland of ubuntu or somesuch. or, worsewise, that "factory reset" literally meant no OS. i wanted a clean start, not a science project.

my concerns were somewhat assuaged when i learned (in an online PDF of the machine's user manual) that factory reset was designed to give me an out-of-the-box machine, just like having a brand new netbook from the store. (as opposed to "before the box", which would mean no OS.)

the more i thought about it, the more i liked the idea of starting over, the chance to do it right this time. i was stoked. of course... i had my security blanket of the misc detritus, the flotsam and jetsam, everything from the user folder now sitting on the thumb drive. what could go wrong?

answer: lots of things. but, more important than what could go wrong, i wondered what would go wrong. answer: nothing. the entire process was amazingly easy. taking the leap to restore factory settings was delightfully simple, decidedly liberating, deliciously thrilling. yeah, i went there. THRILLING.

bottom line: achieving this clean slate state was precisely as energizing and refreshing as psychology promises us resetting to a clean slate state can be. the machine's functionality is terrific - speedy, accurate, not slogs and bogs. plus, little toshibook-ii just seems so happy to have had a bath.

02 December 2013

desert island 5

it's a parlor game, you know. the setup is: you're stranded on a desert island and can only have five albums. the game is: which would you take?

here are mine.

1. the stranger. billy joel.
of course i have to pick a billy joel album. he just means that much to me. i could literally choose five billy joel records, but in the spirit of the game, i will select just this one. it is a serious dead-heat toss up between this one and turnstiles. tomorrow or yesterday, i could easily pick turnstiles. today, it's the stranger. i won't drag you through all the tracks, but just to say a couple things about the b-side. first track - vienna. oh my god, the first time i heard that track i was like, damn, i want to be that girl, that girl moving too fast, that girl who is worth more than she knows. so, that was ideal #1. then a couple tracks later - always a woman. okay, double damn. there's ideal #2. now i know the girl i want to be and the woman i want to become, and it's all laid out for me in road of stellar sterling crystal clear beauty. did i get there? you be the judge.

2. peter and the wolf. sergei prokofiev.
five billy joel albums aside... i'm pretty sure if i were on an actual desert island (with, you know, a state of the art solar-powered stereo sound system) i'd want some variety. so, my second pick is an accessible classic symphony. i haven't heard it in years, but when we were small, we'd listen to it all the freaking time. i am confident this will be a welcome addition to my five album library.

3. bringing down the horse. wallflowers.
there are a mere few voices in the whole wide world that can completely settle me down, and jakob dylan has one of them. (darius rucker and brandi carlile can do the same, but as i don't own an album of either, can't very well take them onto the ol' desert isle.) one thing about being on a desert island is that it'll be stressful as hell, so i'll need a vocal tranquilizer.

4. crimson. alkaline trio.
on the flip side of the calming mr dylan, we have a set of songs here that inspire me to heights of grating anger, soul-corroding fear, and steaming self-loathing. you know, sometimes you just need a break from the lollipops and butterflies. i was considering the equally bleak-inspiring black parade by my chemical romance, but the songs on crimson are ones i know nearly by heart, so i am fully aware of their power over me. sometimes, you just want to surrender completely to hate. honk of you get me!

5. the big chill, soundtrack. various artists.
last but not least, we have a complete cop-out compilation. a deciding factor for this choice is that i love the song "can't always get what you want" but pretty much despise everything else that ever came out of the musical factory known as the rolling stones. clearly, i cannot select a rolling stones album. (i sort of think i might like rolling stones' brown sugar, but i also think i might be confusing it with def leppard's pour some sugar on me, which i definitely do like.) in this case, to get what i want (caveat: not always possible), i'd have to procure the extended super-deluxe magnum remake version of the compilation. not sure why this song wasn't included in the first place, except maybe that it's true -- you can't always get what you want. at any rate, all versions of this soundtrack album contain myriad wonderful sing-along motown classics and nothing says 'desert island fun' like singing along to the motown classics.

and? so? what about you?