3

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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1

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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3

Protect the Herd!

It’s the season for sneezing, puking, and coughing, aka flu season. I, like everyone else in my family, got my flu vaccine early and have so far managed to avoid the plague that is going around my office. Vaccination has been a hot topic this year, and the fact that we guessed the wrong flu strain has certainly not helped the public outcry (Pipe down, Buster, you try predicting an ever-evolving virus!). But the fact is I don’t get vaccinated for me. Yes, with my chronic illness it is intelligent for me to get vaccinated. Yes, my immune system has significantly improved since introducing the yearly flu vaccine into my life. And yet, it is not the reason I’m so diligent about getting my yearly flu shot.

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credit: somethingofthatilk.com

Here’s a fun fact about me: I am much better at taking care of others than taking care of myself. As a caregiver, I give myself a B+ (I don’t hold back hair well). As a self-regulator I’m more in the C range. Luckily, my incredible fiance tends to keep my ass in line. But the fact remains that in stressful or busy times I may let my own health slip while trying to ensure that everyone else is running at optimal efficiency. I’m working on it.

Let’s put aside the flu shot for a moment and look at the more standard array of preventatives. Vaccines, in general, create antibodies and help reduce the number of infections for a particular illness. During childhood I was stabbed with a million of them and received oh-so-many wonderful boosters when I went off to college. There is no proof that vaccines cause autism or other mental disabilities. Andrew Wakefield’s study people are always quoting? It can’t be replicated. That’s right. And the patients’ data? It may have been tampered with.  It’s not fun having a needle (or three) poked in your arm, but it will not irreparably harm a child (allergies excluded).

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When my sister was born, she was extremely ill and had to be sheltered from as many diabolical ailments as humanly possible. A cold could send her straight to Children’s Hospital for days or weeks. If she had been exposed to the measles or mumps she could have died. Interestingly, our school district required vaccination except in the cases of medical conditions. For example, a child who has cancer may not be able to handle the vaccine being introduced to their body, but that’s when something magical happens. It’s called herd immunity. This means that so many people are vaccinated and the illness is so rare that exposure almost never occurs. So despite the fact that the child cannot directly be protected, they are guarded by the diligence of their peers. It’s brilliant! And, best of all, even if you’re not ill, it protects other vulnerable populations, such as the elderly. And, hopefully, we’ll all get old and benefit. I know that’s my plan.

Vaccination is a personal decision and should be discussed with your trusted medical professional, but perhaps keep in mind that your decision doesn’t just effect you. Your decision impacts your neighbors and community at large. Stay healthy!

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3

I’m Tired and I Don’t Want to Cook!

From the time I leave my front door in the morning to the time I get back, approximately 11 hours have gone by. The temptation to give in and dial that handy dandy delivery number is so tempting. It probably doesn’t help that my natural cooking abilities are limited to putting noodles in water and boiling. My fiance has most definitely suffered from my attempts at “gourmet” cooking, aka the balsamic green beans gone wrong.
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So here’s what I have! A short list of tips that have pushed me into cooking more and dialing my favorite Indian restaurant less.

1. Think Before You Buy- My fiance and I now create a list of our week’s meals before hitting the grocery aisles. A lot of times I’ll scan through the papers, see what’s on sale and create my meals off of the best deals so I’m saving money and making myself accountable for what goes in my cart. The important part is including every element. Don’t just write “chicken,” put down Italian seasoned chicken breasts with green beans. This will help you remember other items you may need to pick up in order to make the meal. No excuses.

2. Mix It Up- It’s crazy to believe that everyone has the energy every night to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen. I know I just can’t pull that off. I might add in 2 meals a week that are fairly labor intensive, sprinkle in some mid-level stuff and then always keep an easy meal within the rotation. This is absolutely key because plans are made to be foiled. By giving yourself the ability to adapt to unexpected changes you can move that eggplant parmesan to Wednesday and throw in 2 slices of fish with some chopped up potatoes and commence running around or collapsing on the couch in exhaustion until it’s done.

3. Delete Dishes & Browse Often- You could use 1 dish or 3. I’m far more inclined to cook if there’s only one dish involved. The chaos that can ensue in the kitchen is contained and the clean-up time is lessened. And that makes me happy. Look out for recipes you might enjoy on pinterest, but don’t be fooled by some of the sites that advertise their recipes as “few ingredients” and then list spices that you’ve never even heard of before and ask you to do a rain dance at precisely 5PM. Easy recipes do exist. Some of them I find online, but I’ve found quite a few in cookbooks. In fact, Cooking Light has been a GREAT resource. I highly recommend it.

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And if it takes a little wine to get dinner made…well, Wegman’s has great sales. Cheers!

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