Archive for October, 2009

Little Sisters

This is a new type of keeping up with the Joneses, for me, a way that goes beyond cars, and houses and who has the newest toy. So dangerous to want things because others have them, so dangerous to not be happy with what you do have; it scares me, this feeling. I’m caught off guard by my level of sadness, my longing, when all I expected was joy and excitement, happiness for my friend as she tells us about her new baby, due to meet us all in May.

I haven’t felt like a little sister in quite awhile; it’s been years since I’ve felt left behind, watching the big kids run off with new and exciting life experiences while I wait my turn. I was finally feeling Old Enough, feeling caught up, content, settled. The Boss and I go about our daily lives, and it’s not a manufactured ‘Happy In Spite Of’… it’s a ‘Happy Because Of’, a purposeful way of living, of prioritizing, of wanting to be the family we are, and feeling earnestly lucky to be so. I feel as though I’ve been gut punched, not expecting this overwhelming sadness, this feeling of being left behind, of wanting to catch up, again, always the little sister, always just almost a part of the group, and as I feel this I think “How unfair” and I think “I know this is what I want, who we are, right now” and I’m angry at myself for forgetting that, for feeling this way.

But as I sit around the fire pit, holding my friend’s nine month old in my lap, baby head against my chest, gummy fingers in my hair, I hear my friends discussing Pregnancy and Second Babies and Day Care and Working While Mom-ing and just for a moment I feel my heart beat: I-Want I-Want.

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A common argument in my house: I think we have too few bookshelves, the Boss things we have too many books.

I love books. I love reading them, I love talking about them. I dog ear, underline, break the spine, read them again.  My favorite job I’ve ever had was working at Barnes and Noble, talking to people about books all day. When I’m in the middle of a good book, I’m almost incapable of participating in the world until I’ve finished reading it, and when I’m done I have a sad little moment, as if a good friend was visiting and has now left.

So I’ve been intrigued by devices like the Kindle and the Nook – the capability to download books with a click and carry as many as you like around with you? That sounds fairly awesome: How much easier would college have been if I could fit all my text books onto one device instead of lugging them all over campus? Much. How much easier would traveling be if I didn’t have to make room for books in my carry on? Much.

But I worry about the underlining, the dog earing, the loving of holding a physical book in my hand – would the experience be as satisfying on the screen? I don’t know, but I’m starting to come around on that thanks to a new post on Loo.Me:

What i think could happen with me is that my book purchasing starts to look like how many music lovers purchase vinyl.  These people consume music digitally, through mp3’s, but for bands they really love they like to have the physical product – thus they purchase the vinyl record.  I could see myself doing this with books.  I read them all digitally and for authors/books that i really like, I’ll actually pay a premium and buy the physical copy.

And there we go. Just like that, we’ve solved our bookshelf problem.

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My Own Best Time

God, it is so lonely running on winter mornings, up before the sun, fingers too cold to tie your shoes, your lungs catching on the chill, legs creaking in protest at moving through the cold, the early. I never feel more like a runner than I do on these mornings, shivering,  making deals with myself that would take me back inside, warm in my house with puppy and coffee and husband. I never usually let myself win these deals, I usually remind myself that if I can make it 10 minutes down the road I’ll be happy that I did and I won’t want to turn around, my legs will warm up and my breath will move freely and I’ll feel part of the world, no longer just me in the morning, getting to see the day begin the way only other runners do: sleepy, quiet, stirring. A secret part of the day that is just for me, for us, as we move through the cold morning, our cheeks red, our toes shivering.

Sharon Olds must have been a runner; her poem “Sex Without Love” (which is – obviously-  not about running but might as well be) captures so perfectly what it is like to run through these winter mornings.

like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health–just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.

On those winter mornings, those first steps out of the house that require every ounce of cajoling and demanding and motivation that I have, I do feel like it is my body, alone with the universe, against my own best time. And that is what I love about running, when you get beyond the shoes and the watches and the music and the race schedule: it is just you, moving through the world, on your own. I love that part of the day, the intense me-ness of it all, a piece of my day that I get to have before I give my energy to work or to the house or to the many things that pull my focus, pull my time.

But I also love the part of the run when you catch another runner’s eye and nod, when the sun starts coming up and the morning isn’t dark around you anymore and the scenery begins to sharpen and focus and it’s not just you running through the dark but you running in the world, and then when I get to my doorstep and my dog is waiting to lick sweat off my face and I’m bubbling over with a run’s worth of thoughts to share with The Boss, and we’re figuring out our plan for the day, buzzing around, changing from run-uniform to work-uniform, and that’s when I know I’m more than just a single body alone in the universe, and I think to myself that God, yes, it IS so lonely running on winter mornings, but in this crowded and busy world, maybe being alone for a little bit with the road surface, the cold, the wind, isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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This Is Why We Buy Scotch

So, last week was one of those weeks where you find yourself sitting on the kitchen floor spoon feeding a 100lb dog while your ceiling drip drip drips water through a light fixture. In other words, you know: totally awesome.

To sum up: My 100lb dog now weighs 80lbs and after many, many MANY te$ts at the vet, it’s boiled down to: give him these drugs, hope for the best. So we’re hoping for the best, but meanwhile he’s not eating OR sleeping, which means WE’RE not sleeping, and while I appreciate that everyone is like “oooh, great practice for a newborn!”, my thought remains: “Does getting practice for the no sleep I will get with a newborn actually make that process suck less? I mean, REALLY? Because it seems to me right now I have a vague understanding of the suck that is coming, at no appreciable benefit to me, AND I still didn’t get any sleep last night.”

So. There is that. There is also the insult to injury of water leaking, home warranties that (apparently) only selectively cover stuff that breaks, and the fact that the only way I can get my dog to eat anything is if I put it on a spoon and hand it to him. Now if you can imagine what occurs when you try to spoon feed something that DOESN’T HAVE LIPS, while you literally have ceiling plaster falling around you, as a precursor to a night that included two loudly barking dogs bringing forth wrath of an otherwise soundly sleeping eight month old (not mine) (the 8 month old. And one of the dogs. Look, it was a weird day, Ok?) and multiple phone conversations with repair people who decided to tell you at 9pm (and not, say, 5pm, when you first called) that they only repair stuff during daylight, you will understand how I came to mainline scotch on the kitchen floor with the Boss.

Sick Puppy

Sick Puppy

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While procrastinating a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an article from, REvolution Computing’s blog (they focus on the predicative stat computing package R):

Varian used R to fit seasonal autoregressive models to retail sales, automotive sales, home sales, and passenger arrival data, and in each case made better predictions by including Google Trends data as a predictor than without

Hello, what’s this? Real time trending data? Apparently:

From the Google:

Google Trends and Google Insights for Search provide a real time report on query volume, while economic data is typically released several days after the close of the month. Given this time lag, it is not implausible that Google queries in a category like “Automotive/Vehicle Shopping” during the first few weeks of March may help predict what actual March automotive sales will be like when the official data is released halfway through April.

Duuuude. This is so cool. In my last job I did a TON of market research and provided reports with trending data aligned to company goals, and the trending data we had was always SO OLD, but was accepted as standard because, really, what else could we use? Well, apparently there is a better way.

(This reminds me when we learned that TiVO stored all the data of what commercials people were fast forwarding through, which ones they would watch, and which ones they would watch again. That is a TON of consumer marketing data just begging to be analyzed. If I worked at an advertising/marketing/PR firm, I would be eating this stuff up!)

I hope this takes off and becomes standard. I’ve been playing around with R and Google ever since I read about this and am having a blast. If I was still teaching lab courses in statistical computing  to English majors (which I did throughout grad school), this would become an integral part of my lesson plan: “Look, ye English Majors! Stats IS useful!! No, really, Google says it is!”

As it is, I’ll just geek around with it and hope that I can use it the next time I’m asked to do trending reports on government spend something or other.


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Randy Jackson: FAIL

Open Arms

Originally uploaded by LizScott

I was kind of a cranky bride in the sense that I refused to play along with a lot of basic wedding traditions. Bridesmaids? NO. Sweetheart table? NO. First Dance? NO NO NO.

I like the idea of a “First Wedding Dance” in theory, however in practice I find it can be kind of awkward and my GOD do you know how LONG a three minute song is when it’s just two people dancing while 100 people look on? So, no: no first wedding dance for us. (I did propose a compromise that we could do a First Dance to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” an idea I think was dismissed entirely too quickly).

Around this same time, my stepdaughter mentioned she wanted to sing at our wedding, and gradually this idea morphed into her singing our “First Dance” song. Kristen (Sammy’s mom) and Sammy picked out a song and practiced with the band, all while keeping a secret from us the actual song.

Come reception night, after all the toasts and the food and the excitement, etc, the band starts up (side note: We had an 80s rock cover band and the were AWESOME and yes it’s possible my dad did an impromptu Daddy/Daughter dance to Van Halen’s “Jump.” Ahem) and after a few great songs, Sammy got up in front of the band, lowered the microphone and Blew Our Freaking Minds.

This beautiful, fabulous, amazing girl got up and belted out “Open Arms” and I swear, for as much as I loved Journey before, I seriously, seriously love them now.

We only have scratchy video of her actually singing at the wedding (curses!), but we got video of her singing the same song at an open mic night a few weeks later, and I submit it to you as Exhibit 1 in Why I Think The Boyz II Men Version Of ‘Open Arms’ Sucks A Lot.
Randy Jackson, don’t be peddling your lame ass excuse for a remake over here. Next time you want to produce a new version of your old hits, come talk to me first, mmmkay?

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…Obviously the next best option is a picnic table.

A bunch of us had hoped to jump into the Saturday morning workout at CrossFit Old Town, but they were filled to capacity. We did the next best thing and headed down the street to Gravelly Point Park,  where we threw together a quick but killer workout. A nice reminder that you don’t need fancy equipment or facilities to get a workout in.

Box Jumps on a Picnic Table

Box Jumps on a Picnic Table

Tree Pullup!

Tree Pullup!

Reverse Rows On Gate

Reverse Rows On Gate

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