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Ode to memories of my past miseries

January 31, 2017

I can empathize with people in pain, people in misery.  Moments when things don’t look achievable and your personal miserable pain.  I can also analyze those who are overdramatic, such as myself.

Running is amazing.  It opens your lungs, it burns calories, it boosts metabolism.  The form of exercise increases “good” cholesterol HDL, which helps to keep “bad” cholesterol LDL in check.  I know this, but every time I run I hate it.  It’s not a secret.  I do it, but I complain.  I complain about my sore muscles, my lack of breath, how out of shape I feel every time.  I particulary feel bitter during mandatory runs.  This is my sob story:

It is cold.  It is cold and bitter.  Either that or it is just before dawn and HUMID.  The temperature doesn’t matter, but usually low 70s but feels like it is 95º already.  Everyone is gaggled together to run a mere two miles.  TWO miles.  At first I think, “Ok, I got this.  Two miles is nothing”.  As we start out all together, the group quickly segregates into those who are in shape and have great timing and athletic ability, those of us somewhat in the middle that think we are going to beat our own personal best time, and those in the rear who either don’t give a shit and start out walking or those who are just ate up beyond repair and never work a muscle except during forced times on drill weekends.

As my feet beat the pavement, I realize the route is at an incline.  By a tenth of a mile already I am sucking wind.  If it is hot I have beads of sweat forming on my forehead heading straight to my eyes.  More likely it is cold. It feels like I am in Antarctica.  Bitter, dry air laced with Constantia wire scrape past my bronchi and down looking to make a home in my alveoli.  I focus on how important it is to breath through my nose and keep pace.  My nose is a faucet that drips incecently.  I wipe the snot onto my sleeves.  I spit beside me, carefully making sure no one is trying to pass me from that side.  The artic air chills my bare legs – the cold wind slamming against them turning the pale skin to a bright pink.  They begin to itch and burn at the same time.

Although in training we ran up to eleven, my civilian self feels that two miles is an eternity and I will die right here on this road.  My muscles will freeze and I will fall over.  The stars I am seeing will turn into tunnel vision and then complete blackness. I will pass out on the pavement.  People will stop and try to help.  That is what medics do.  It will be a good excuse for everyone else to get out of this forced torture.  No, that will cause them to fail.  They need to succeed.  If I stop, it gives everyone else an excuse to.  Who thought up this torturous exercise and test of physical agility?  I go on.

There comes a point where I have passed the one-mile mark and I secretly throw a celebration in my head.  I decide somewhere before the 1.25 mark it is time to treat myself and walk.  I’ve told myself I have enough time, I am doing well.  One person passes me and I’m OK.  Two more pass and I don’t think it is acceptable for those people to pass the finish line before me so I speed back up, only to instantly want to stop again.  But I don’t.  Breathing through my nose is long past.  Now my mouth is dry from the bitter cold air, my entire pulmonary system is on fire.  My legs are on fire.  My head hurts and I convince myself everyone must be seeing stars.  Perhaps I have developed stitches on my right side.  Those too will pass.  Now I am convinced my ankles will give way with each hard foot landing.  I will trip and fall because my legs will crumple.  But I round the corner for the last time.  Although I can see them at the finish line, I don’t think I can go any faster.  For a moment I think about walking.  Perhaps I take five steps, but those same people start to pass me again.  No.  These soldiers can’t see me walking.  I need to make up time for these detrimental steps I took in a self-pity wave of slowness.  I jog again.  I start to lengthen my stride.  My head is pounding and swimming at the same time.  Inner thighs be damned – stay raw.  I slowly start to speed up.

As I get closer I can hear the chants of encouragement.  I lengthen my stride more.  I know if I full out sprint I will collapse before I pass the finish line so I just run.  My arms swing rhythmically with my legs: back and forth.  I breath hard.  At this point I don’t care.  I have stopped envisioning the lengthening and shortening of my muscle fibers.  I have stopped reciting the oxygen exchange system in my brain and how important it is to breathe deep to ensure the capillaries even on my small toe have enough oxygen to make me propel forward.  All I think about it giving it my all.  I have slacked off the last twenty minutes.  It should not take me this long to get to the two-mile mark.  I start to hyperventilate as I cross the line.  Stride still wide, I slow down, move to the side, and dry heave.

My arms crossed above and resting on my head I walk around attempting to regain the ability to breath. I longingly look at the flock of soldiers heading to the showers. I just oxygen, an IV, and a cold shower (no matter what the temperature actually is, I am now convinced it is 100).  I look back at the others still on the track.  I realize there is still time they can make it across.  I head out.  I fall in beside them, just moments after I thought I would have been hospitalized if my leg muscles had to move a millimeter more, I am now jogging beside them.  My lungs that felt as if they had collapsed, now regained the ability to expand enough to utter words of encouragement “Lengthen your stride.  Pick up the pace.  SSOOOO close.  Just a bit further.  You are almost there.  Come on, keep up with me.  You can’t let these other people pass you!”

My misery, which was personal, and at the time, the only misery occurring, is now projected onto the others.  They must feel the same as I just had.  They need to know they can do it too.  They cross the line.  Perhaps they never sped up at all, but they didn’t stop.  That is what mattered.  Maybe they made their time, or they didn’t.  But they didn’t give up.  They didn’t slow down or stop.  They pressed on.  If they can, I have no excuse to engulf myself in the self pity and body loathing felt during my run.  I’ll do better next time.  I have to make myself better to show them that they can too.  I will run when I can.  In my moment of inspired leadership, I believe it.  I believe I will be able to push myself faster and further on my own.  With that thought, the sore muscles, fatigue and sweat are worth it.

working on cars

September 27, 2011

ok. i’m going to admit…i am not a mechanic.  but lucky for me (and all my guy friends, who, believe me…are thanking my husband for marrying me), my husband is a mechanic.  last week he was on vacation so it was “work on the cars week”.  first we had to take care of mine which needed it’s 40,000 mile oil change, and also a new cabin air filter, fuel filter, and for the regular air filter to be cleaned (it’s a k&n).  but the BIG problem with that is that VW has some sort of monopoly with Castrol and doesn’t sell the “only” approved oil retail. so we “have” to buy it from the dealer.  i guess not a big deal, because the oil is the same price as other oil we can pick up from o’reillys or autozone…just inconvenient as hell.  took all day just to go get all the parts we needed and changing the oil (which by the way i DID help with)

but then of course HIS car needed attention. don’t ask me what all he did.  i can’t pretend to understand, but i do know he had to change the timing belt ended up spending almost the whole week on it.  but he asked me to take some pics of a couple parts when he pulled them off…and then again after he got them cleaned.  so here you go…beautiful work of the INTAKE MANIFOLD and the EGR VALVE for a 2001 jetta tdi.

growing porch garden

September 7, 2011

so..my little porch garden has grown.  i haven’t taken pics this week yet, but check out the pics from the second and third week.  literally overnight they would just grow and get bigger.  it is awesome to watch!!  seems like it is sooo far before i might actually get any food from it though.

 

week 2

 

week 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

portable food

September 7, 2011

weeks ago my best friend came down to austin to visit me and accompany me to a blue october concert.  seeing as how i now live in austin, and had never been to the food trailers…we decided to go.  we were both super stoked, because, well, thats just an icon of austin i guess and we were getting to participate.  so she got down here noon-ish on a friday so we ended up with a late lunch.  we didn’t know where we were going, but i had remembered seeing a couple lone trailers off east 7th.  so we headed down that way with no luck.  so we decided to turn and go west on 6th.  the first place we came to we stopped.  there were only one or two trailers open (we assume because it was already so late for lunch) so we ended up at a pizza place. me, trying to be vegan, ordered a salad because they were out of the delicious sounding veggie pizza.  anyway.  this is a pretty boring post…but i wanted to share the pic collage….

art sale

August 25, 2011

did anyone see the fabulous rabbit i made from felting?  i thought i might have wrote about it…but i’m not seeing a post.  i do know i had shared it on FB at one point, but now to share with anyone else who might be interest.  basically…i made a toy rabbit.  out of wool.  by felting it.  “how?” you might ask?  with a specialized barbed needle.  it’s really cool, but can be slightly frustrating at times. but then again you can get out frustrations because you are just stabbing the combed wool over and over again to form a shape.  when i made the sucker i ended up with bleeding fingers from poking myself so often.  take a gander at the cute fella i’m calling peter…

now, i know you are thinking…i want one of these cute fellas for MYSELF!  of course you do (selfish…are you not going to share it with your kid?).  i know it’s early to start thinking about christmas, but you should.  so just in time to start yawning about christmas shopping, i opened up my etsy storeso you can buy peter for your very own…or for a gift!

vegan gumbo

August 23, 2011

don’t run yet.  i swear its good!  really.  you don’t even miss the sea food!!!  but if you are terminally scared of veggies, like my husband, just close your eyes while you eat.  the recipe is below.  everything is a pinch or a poke of this or that.  (or in cases of flour and oil a hand-full or a splash or lake of it) thats just how i was taught to cook.  a poor way of cooking when you are trying to re-create someone else’s recipe who cooks like that too (my mom and her famous hot sauce i have never gotten down), but works out wonderfully when you make up meals on the regular like i do.  i did use a recipe for inspiration from www.101cookbooks.com and modified it…mainly because her recipe is an all day cooking event.  and well…honestly i only had an hour.  so i did what i could do.  and i think it turned out magnificently!  now i have a pot to eat on for days…because like i said…by husband is frightened by the thought of no meat!

 

so here are some pointers:

roux is a 1:1 mix of oil & flour (like the beginnings of gravy).  i used the same skillet (my mema’s cast iron skillet) to saute the other veggies first, so that flavor was left in the pan along with the extra oil.  i also seasoned the roux with the strong powder spices.  i suggest using cajun seasoning of some sort like zaterain’s. huge tip:  stir frequently.  as in don’t stop stirring.  you don’t want clumps of flour.  and cook this until it is dark brown.  like the color of melted hersey’s milk chocolate.  i don’t have any wooden spoons…but apparently the kind with a hole in it is the highly-recommended kind to use.

boil the veggies, chopped in little pieces, in water with a vegetable bouillon cube. i used Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon from Sprouts.  also use vegetables from the farmers market where i could.  (eggplant, okra, onion, carrots, & squash all came from Johnson’s Backyard Garden.  they are at all the farmer’s markets i’ve been to here in austin and all organic)  my pinto beans were left over from a pot the day before.  i just scooped some in…and the hubby ate beans and steak for dinner (grass-fed and free-range from Sprouts i might add)

saute the season veggies in oil in the same cast iron skillet to make the roux in.  use enough oil to coat the veggies and prevent from sticking.  use a vegan sausage substitute such as Go Lean.  i get it from the produce aisle by the tofu at HEB.  i use it for cody’s breakfast all the time.  i don’t think he realizes that it’s not real sausage yet.  shhh. don’t tell.

so then you add some veggie broth to the roux, and stir that.  it gets pretty raunchy thick.  then i added that thick concoction to the rest of the boiled veggies in the pot along with the sautéed veggies.  cooked that on medium-low heat for about the time it took to cook the rice…about 20 minutes (i used organic long-grain white rice).  the whole pot should be somewhat thick.  keep stirring it often so as to keep the bottom from burning.  then scoop on top of the rice.  voilà!   a nice, delicious pot of vegan goodness…with a nod to louisiana.

garden of the porch

August 23, 2011

i want to be self-sustained.  i want to have a house that produces electricity, saves rain water, use our grey water, plant succulents so we don’t have to water them, and grow our own food.  but of course we live in an apartment.  so i’m not sure how i’m going to do all that…so i finally convinced my husband that i can TRY to grow our own food.  so i started a “garden” on the porch.

it’s not a garden in a conventional sense…i am using Lowe’s 5 gal buckets, planters and whatever flower pots i could find.  so…on wednesday aug 17th i planted peas and radishes (only those two because i had to buy more potting soil).  then on friday aug 19th i planted basil, squash, spinach, chives and broccoli. (by the way…all of the seeds are certified organic as is the potting soil)

much to my surprise…within only days they all began to sprout!!  as in the FOLLOWING DAY in some cases.  see the pictures from saturday aug 20th below…

then on sun aug 21st the broccoli began to sprout too…

sun aug 21st

and THEN…this morning the broccoli took off like crazy!!!!  squash sprouted over night and continued to grow all day.  cody literally saw it…the sprout push up and throw dirt off. (awesome).  so as of this evening everything but the chives have sprouted.

all of this amazes me because i’ve never grown vegetables before…and i’m growing it in buckets…and we are on our like 68th day over 100 degrees…and its HOT HOT HOT HOT with NO RAIN!  so this is all very cool if i do say so myself 🙂

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