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Of Puppies and Pumpkins

IMG_3757 A seasonal anecdote from a wonderful Operation Paws for Homes volunteer.

Source: Of Puppies and Pumpkins

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Bumpkin on Broadway

I may have dwelled in our nation’s capital for a few years, but I still have no idea how to function in a large city. DC is really not that large. We resemble the toddler version of New York: Shorter and lacking in mobile efficiency. After riding the subway I can honestly say Metro is slacking! My first real trip to NYC was incredible. It absolutely blew my mind how many dogs were trained to pee on concrete! Just kidding (but really my dog would cross his legs and look at me with his “Mommy, help!” face). The whole purpose of this adventure was to see one of the greatest shows ever…WickedIf you don’t know what Wicked is I am slightly horrified.

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For those of you doubters, my husband, who puts up with my musical obsession in spite of his own dislike, enjoyed the show. He enjoyed it! If you love The Wizard of Oz and dread that the play will ruin it forever, fear not. While you may develop a slight loathing for the Wizard and munchkins, Wicked is within cannon and does an excellent job of closing loopholes. The props and current Broadway cast blew my mind with their detail and skill. Before the show started I was able to capture the stage.

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I’m not 100% sure that it was allowed, but we hadn’t been told to put our phones/cameras away yet!

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend going. Of course there are a million other things to do. Some of these include:

  1. NY Pizza: It’s delicious. Just do it.
  2. World Trade Center: One word- Beautiful.
  3. Walking: If you can. You’ll burn off the pizza calories. If you’re one of my friends that needs some mobility help, I recommend taking your wheels along. 5 points if you run over a pigeon!
  4. 9/11 Memorial: It’s incredible to think of the children and generations who will only see a memorial while so many of us can remember the actual day.
  5. Big Gay Ice Cream: Remind yourself how sweet life can be. I had a Bea Arthur myself!
  6. Empire State Building: Apparently, everyone except me has already seen this.
  7. Parks: Take some time to enjoy the public spaces. Hint: Don’t look for a lot of green, but there will be places to sit and the architecture is admirable. 

Tell me what I should see on my next trip (when it’s warmer)!

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

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Gym Lessons Learned

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My gym experience is relatively limited. And by relatively I mean the only gym I frequented was the one located on my university’s campus. Where I grew up I’d need to drive 20 minutes to even get to the gym and that was just not happening. Now that I’m trying to juggle a “big girl” job, grad classes at night, and somehow keep dishes from piling up in the sink my waistline has expanded to a point that I feel like a squishy plush-doll version of me. Therefore, to the gym it is. Here are some things I’ve picked up on my adventures.

All gyms are not created equal.

Picking the right gym is essential. I cannot emphasize this enough. Some questions to ask:

Is this in my budget? If you can’t afford to eat, going to the gym will be pointless because you will either starve or be forced to eat off the $1, which is a bajillion calorie diet. The Y has some great equipment. It may not have fancy glass stall shower doors with prima donna style locker rooms, but it will do the job. Live realistically.

Can you touch things? This sounds weird, but seriously ask yourself if a gym is gross. Note that being old does not equal gross, but you don’t want broken down equipment. Patrons are responsible for wiping down equipment after usage- do people do this? Observe. Do a walk through. Also, look at the showers. Don’t just glance at them and avoid thinking about them. Is there mold? Are people avidly avoiding the area like it’s radioactive?

Will you actually go? Distance is everything, people. Think about when you actually have time to go to the gym. Is it before work, after class, or in the evening? Choose a gym close to your location. Mine is between work and class, which is coincidentally when I normally go. It means I’m going right by it and have no excuse. The guilt will make you go.

At first, everything about showering is awkward.

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The first few times you go to the gym and shower you will probably forget something. Or maybe I’m just a forgetful person who is unaccustomed to showering in various locations.

Can I strip here? But actually. I’ve been to band camp, sleep-away camp, and lived in a sorority house. There are different rules for where you can or cannot strip based upon sensitivities.  Subtly observe where people are changing. Are they changing in the actual showers? Stripping in the middle of the locker room? Different gyms have different cultures. You may not get it right the first time, but try and pick up on the norm. Soon enough you’ll be a regular and feel comfortable with the new routine.

Do I have shower shoes? These are important. They protect you and they also protect other people from you. I forgot shower shoes after a workout and once had to parade around in my socks. You know what’s uncomfortable? Soaked, soapy socks. Invest. They’re all of $5 because you just need something plastic that can be slipped on and off. Plastic is a key word here. Don’t get some cushy material because it’s important that these shoes dry quickly. Otherwise, you have moldy, smelly shoes and that defeats the purpose of showering altogether.

Did this towel shrink? No, it did not. My gym has towel service. It says so on their website (this is a great thing to check for, by the way). It’s nice because I don’t have to schlep a towel back and forth. I also don’t have to worry about it being soggy and gross in my gym bag. On the other hand, it is ridiculously tiny. I have yet to see a gym towel that successfully covers me appropriately (although I dream that I will one day be “gym-towel tiny”). If you’re uncomfortable with being in an itsy bitsy teeny weeny towel, you may want to bring your own.

I hope the things I’ve learned on my gym adventures will serve you well, but I’m sure I missed some. What gym lessons have you learned?

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

Popular Posts:

Who Am I?– The painful name change experience

Giving a Voice to Invisible Illness– A short poem read by a number of incredible bloggers

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The Bloggess: Great for a laugh and also thoughtful.

Scary Mommy: I’m not a mom yet but that doesn’t even matter.

Spoon Shares: Sometimes our issues are more serious and impact the way we live day-to-day. Spoon shares is a great place to share, connect, and learn tips and tricks from others with a variety of maladies.

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The Day I Met Rory (and Jenny Lawson)

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I know, I know. You are all insanely jealous that I met Rory. And by “met” I mean struck a pose in the middle of public DC while my husband tried to suppress his mortification. (Mi dispiace, Topino mio. Keep loving me anyway.) The whole meeting was really a debacle and started with a frantic arrangement of work hours, possible transportation alternatives, and ultimately ended up with us standing outside of Politics and Prose in Washington, DC starvinGardettos-2014g because the cafe was sold out of food. (Disclaimer: Grilled cheese was available but it was $6. I could buy a loaf of bread with half a pound of cheese at those prices.) The only other source of nourishment was CVS, which meant our “dinner” consisted of Gardettos. For those of you that don’t know what Gardettos are….this is a bag of the deliciously addictive snack –>

I’m going to apologize in advance because that one small bag is approximately 1,000 calories. I wish I was joking. Those buggers are responsible for an entire pant size.

So, with dinner in hand, we ventured into the extremely crowded bookshop and purchased a copy of Jenny Lawson’s second novel, Furiously Happy. I’ve been to to a number of readings over the last few years, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a reading where there was such camaraderie between an author and her readers. There was fangirling and stories shared, but it felt less like a Q&A and far more like an organic conversation amongst friends. I’m going to chalk this up to Lawson’s incredible personality and the relationships she has developed over the years through her blog, The Bloggess. Even though I had never met her, I felt like I’d spoken with her before through her posts and responses. Which is why my husband stood with me (okay, he stood while I sat on the floor) waiting to meet her in person for approximately 3 hours on a work night. We were in line when we’d normally be in bed.

While waiting to get our book signed we observed an incredible feat by a gentleman that we call the Line Ninja. It’s so impressive that I simply have to share it. He arrived during the Q&A and managed to socialize his way to the middle of the room by the end of the session. Please understand how impressive this feat is. People at the front of the room arrived hours before the reading and the entire store was packed all the way to the exit. An hour before the event my husband and I managed to claim a spot in the middle. This lolligagger mingled his way through other eagerly waiting readers armed only with his charm. By the end of the night he was about a dozen people ahead of me. What do you call that? Talent.

Since we had some time on our hands, my husband and I discussed what I might share with the Bloggess. Eventually I decided on humoring her with the fact that my anxiety companion dog, Maverick, has anxiety. Confident with this little anecdote I approached the table only to say “Hi” and smile. Twas not my finest moment, but a firm nudge from Matt pushed me forward and eventually the words came out in some kind of order. I’m pretty sure I called Maverick a “she,” which would have probably made him duck his little furry nose in shame. However, I did manage to take this awesome picture:

20151012_222750On our way out my husband told me that if he had stood around for over 4 hours only to have me stand there and smile he would have lost his mind. And that, my friends, is true love.

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

Popular Posts:

Who Am I?– The painful name change experience

Giving a Voice to Invisible Illness– A short poem read by a number of incredible bloggers

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Other Sites I Recommend:

Abby Has Issues: I have issues, she has issues, and it’s fantastic.

The Bloggess: Great for a laugh and also thoughtful.

Scary Mommy: I’m not a mom yet but that doesn’t even matter.

Spoon Shares: Sometimes our issues are more serious and impact the way we live day-to-day. Spoon shares is a great place to share, connect, and learn tips and tricks from others with a variety of maladies.

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Reading on the Go!

I started this post a few weeks after my wedding. I thought that I might share a couple of my pre-wedding reads (none of them had anything to do with weddings) and then 4 months passed. Even though that whole concept doesn’t make sense anymore I’m doing it anyway. I’ve also started graduate school (while working full time- my classmate from Germany says I’m crazy), and  I’ve managed to cram a few books in. Basically, everything I read was worth the time. Saying that, I didn’t want to just brush them off and just list them on the 2015 Bookshelf. Here are some short reflections on my reads.

Pre-Wedding Reads:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll the Light

I’m making my husband read it. He’s going to read it and he is going to love it. This book was beautiful to read. I’m a huge fan of World War II novels and Doerr did not disappoint. He crafts his book just as the locksmith crafted the neighborhoods for his daughter, with care and attention. While the novel starts off at a leisurely pace, the lives of these strangers begin to collide and the reader will be completely engrossed until the end. Yes, some parts read slow but push through because it really is worth it.

Boss

Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book really helped me get my head on straight before the big day. Tina made me laugh, cry (from laughing), and think (while laughing). The book isn’t so much a continuous memoir as it is a collection of stories. Tina’s thoughts and experiences presented me with a new lens to view my own accomplishments and goals through. Afterwards, I felt a lot more confident about where I am and where I’m heading. Sometimes, you just have to do it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingMindy

Mindy is as big of a Tina Fey fan as I am. She hilariously compares the two of them throughout her book, but reading them side by side unveiled how different they truly are. Both women are very humorous, resourceful, and intelligent. Mindy’s memoir, however, has a lot more pause for her analysis of a situation. It’s more organized and thoughtfully conceived. While still funny, Mindy has an undertone that makes you take everything with a grain of, what I call, serious salt.

BloggessLet’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I’m going to see her and it’s going to be incredible. Jokingly, I refer to Jenny Lawson as my spirit animal. Throughout the novel I’d wake up my husband to read him sections. He would nod, respond with, “She’s you!” and promptly return to dreamland. Her perspective is one of a kind. I particularly recommend this to my friends battling chronic illness. It’s not too hard on the brain but is incredibly inspiring and funny. Lawson is a well-known blogger who has her own health struggles. Her humor inspires me to wake up and start fresh. Her second book, Furiously Happy just hit the shelves, so if you love her there’s more to read.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodHandmaid

This is one of those books that I never had assigned in high school and also never came across in college (but should have read independently at some point). Basically, it needed to be checked off my list. After my reading I can definitely see how this would have caused a stir when it was published, and some parts of the story still call forth foreboding feelings. It’s well written and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. The ending was just right and I do recommend taking this novel for a spin. It wasn’t my favorite but it was valuable.

Everything Else:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, book 1) by Tana French

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My mind was blown. Not only was the case complex and challenging but the perspective was raw with characters and their relationships evolving radically throughout the novel. Part of the stark perspective stemmed from the personality of the first-person narrator who filters the entire experience. Be warned, this novel is very murky and very realistic. The language is also dense and incredibly well-crafted. French’s style is unable to be replicated. It’s not to be picked up for a bit of light reading.

Would you like a summary of my Macroeconomics textbook? Because it’s ruling my life right now and that’s what else I’ve read.

Okay, I lied, I did manage to get in Bardach’s 8 Steps (which I do highly recommend if you’re interested in public policy).

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Enjoy what you read? 
Follow me on Twitter @KeepStride

Popular Posts:

Who Am I?– The painful name change experience

Giving a Voice to Invisible Illness– A short poem read by a number of incredible bloggers

If Anything Else Breaks– Some days at the office are super special

Other Sites I Recommend:

Abby Has Issues: I have issues, she has issues, and it’s fantastic.

The Bloggess: Great for a laugh and also thoughtful.

Scary Mommy: I’m not a mom yet but that doesn’t even matter.

Spoon Shares: Sometimes our issues are more serious and impact the way we live day-to-day. Spoon shares is a great place to share, connect, and learn tips and tricks from others with a variety of maladies.