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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups: Clever Plans and Secret Tricks

Happy Halloween!

I'm going to give my shoes one more chance to redeem themselves, and hopefully burn a few calories before the serious candy eating starts.

I swear I'm going running in a little while, as soon as the sun melts the frost on my car. Frosty air hurts my lungs when I breathe. My doctor says I have the beginning stages of asthma, but I don't believe her. Except, sometimes when I can't breathe, I think maybe she is smart after all. Her name is Frost, so I always think of her on frosty mornings when my lungs hurt. She's so smart, she has a name that reminds me to think of her and take care of my lungs. That's good marketing, I think.

Here's my big news: I haven't had a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in three days. I'd like to think it's sheer willpower on my part. But it's not. I ate up the last of the secret stash on Saturday, and didn't buy any more. Yet.

This is my first secret trick to not over doing it on the Halloween Candy: don't buy it. Easy to say, not easy to do. When you walk into Safeway, it's very tricky to not be lured into the powerful pull of the Reese's. They're everywhere, and they're orange (my favorite color.)

Consequently, I haven't been to the grocery store in a while. Which means we've been eating the pantry stash of canned soup, beans, cheese and crackers, and working our way through the Costco sized bag of carrots every night for dinner. Carrots are orange, too, after all.

I'm trying to trick myself about carrots. It's not working.

My second secret trick for not eating too much candy: buy mixed bags of Tootsie Roll products. I don't like them. A Tootsie Roll is like pretend chocolate. It's brown wax with sugar, I think. And the little flavored Tootsie Rolls, in "vanilla" and "maple?" Forget it. Not even worth the calories. Plus the last thing I need is one of those icky, sticky candies pulling a gold crown off one of my back teeth.

I'm not saying I haven't eaten a Tootsie Roll in the past week. Desperate times call for desperate measures, after all. I was searching through all the secret Reese's hiding places last night, hoping one had fallen out of the secret bag and landed somewhere secret. But alas, I found all the hidden Reese's last week...not hard, since I was the one who hid them.

One bite of Tootsie Roll, when you really want a Reese's, is one bite too many. I've actually thrown away a half eaten mini Tootsie Roll. I think this means I'm not a true candy addict. It's like pouring really bad, cheap red wine down the sink after one sip. Or half a glass, maybe. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it reminds me that I'm not an alcoholic after all, and I feel righteous.

I don't buy Reese's, or any other candy, usually. I'm not a real candy bar type. I'm more of a Sparrow Bakery chocolate croissant type, or a big bar of organic, 60% dark chocolate on day number 21 of each month type. I tend to make my chocolate calories count all the way. In a snobbish, high-end way.

That's why Halloween is so special, I think. All of the sudden, Safeway (and America) make buying and eating cheap candy not only okay, but somehow normal. Like we don't really have a choice. We have to. It's Halloween. And no one looks at you funny in the check-out line. They're all buying it too.

We pretend it's for the trick or treaters, but we start buying it in mid-September, and we still need to go out and get more at 3:00 p.m. on Halloween, because the candy is gone before the little youngsters even have their costumes on.

Man oh man, I hope Safeway still has some Reese's left for me today, because I'm giving all the Tootsie Rolls to the kids.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Shoes! New Shoes!

I was so excited about my new running shoes. Shiny. White. Cheerful. And on sale for $39 at Big 5. All good news.

Except they didn't have the Nimbus gel kind I usually get. No matter...they are the same brand. And they didn't have any women's sizes left. Not a big deal...I have wide feet, I just bought a size down in Men's instead.

I've gone running twice now with these new shoes. They're still shiny and white, but not as cheerful. They feel heavier. It seems like my legs have to work harder. I'm feeling the tiniest twinge of a shin splint coming on.

Is there that much difference between a man's and woman's shoe? Is the technology really advanced enough, in a $39 Asics Duoax running shoe, to absorb the way my hip flexer hits the ground in relation to my neutral, non-pronating stride, compared to the Asics Gel Nimbus 9? Or whatever?

Nimbus 9 sounds like some kind of Harry Potter broomstick. Does Hermione need a girl's Nimbus 9 compared to a boy's? Are the features really that different?

If only my shoes would let me fly. If only they had wings.

If only I wasn't so cheap, I would have just gone to the real running store and bought the $89 all time favorite shoes I really wanted. Now I feel like I should give these new shoes a chance. It'd be such a waste of money not to.

And maybe it's not the shoe that's making my legs heavy. Maybe it's the 4 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and two glasses of red wine I had the night before I tried the new shoes. Or the fact that I only slept for 5 hours instead of my usual 8. All of these things could contribute to my slow, heavy run.

But it's probably the shoes.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why I hate Hotmail

It happened again. I spammed my friends. Again. Not just the tech woman, but all of my friends. New friends. Old friends. Family members, college buddies, business contacts, neighbors. All of them.

And it wasn't my fault.

I hit send one time. ONE time. I learned my lesson last time. I was careful with the one click this time.

But I think I know what happened. When Hotmail has a nervous breakdown about sending things to groups, it just keeps resending it. It doesn't stop when you tell it to.

Hotmail lies.

It says things like "I can't send this, there's been a mistake, do you want to try again?" (I'm paraphrasing here, I know. I should write those messages for Microsoft...I'm a good communicator.)

And like a desperate diplomat, or a careless congressman caught in a precarious situation I say "No! NO, NO, NO! Just stop right now, walk away, take a time out, LEAVE the room. Don't try again. Don't send anything. I'm begging you, just don't do it. And Please, for the love of God, don't tell anyone about what just happened!"

But Hotmail just keeps trying and trying and trying. I log off. I shut down. I do all the things panicky people do. I run upstairs (I ran, I tell you, bolted, actually) to find my tech man to help. I even cried a little, to get him to hurry.

But it was too late. Hotmail has sent 15 messages to my friends telling them about my new blog. These friends will probably block me forever now. It saddens me to think of myself stuck behind a firewall. Well meaning, friendly me, shunned. Disgraced.

Hotmail said it was canceling, but it wasn't. It was resending the whole time. I couldn't have run any faster, really. I mean, even if I were Marion Jones on drugs, I couldn't have made it back in time to stop the madness.

I've stuck with Hotmail since the beginning. Seriously. I was one of the first. You can tell by my address: Trust me, there are many, many Julie Andersons in the world. I was first. I was the first Julie Anderson to sign up for Hotmail. It's unbelievable, really. So I've kept this address through thick and thin. I've stuck up for it and fought for it for years.

Every time my husband says "Hotmail sucks. You should get a Yahoo! email," or later "You should get a gmail account." He keeps up on trends, he knows about the next best things right at the beginning (he told me to get my Hotmail account, actually) I dug my heels in. I said I was loyal and I liked my Hotmail. My friends knew my address, there was no sense in changing it. I was proud to be the first julieanderson, I said.

Now, I fear I may have to change. I'm not sure I can continue the relationship. It's about loyalty, and I've been loyal. But Hotmail has failed me, repeatedly. I mean, really, how much can a girl be expected to put up with?

It's like Dear Abby says: "Is your life better with this relationship, or without it? Are you working too hard trying to change someone? Maybe you just need to accept the reality and move on."

Maybe. Maybe Abby's right. Maybe my husband's right.

Why do I feel so much turmoil about ending this relationship with Hotmail? Why the anxiety? Why would I stick with something that's so wrong for me? Am I co-dependent? Am I kidding myself? Do I need to take a long, hard look in the mirror?

I think I need to go for a run now. This situation has built up too much tension in me. I need a good song to drown out the conflicting voices of reason in my head.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Technical Angst, 101

I'm going to my WoTech lunch today. This is a Women in Technology group I started a few months ago, filled with techie women. And me. I'm just the marketing girl that got them all together, and I'm a volunteer, so they can't fire me. Plus they need comic relief.

But after my little snafu yesterday, they might fire me. I figured some of them might like to see my new blog. This way, I could pretend, once again, that I was sort of one of them, because I do know how to make a blog. Never mind that my blog's not as fancy as Jen's. I'm still learning, I'll get there, as soon as she comes over here and shows me which buttons to push.

So anyway, I emailed them this link. But something strange happened when I hit Send. Nothing happened. So I hit it again. Huh. Weird. So I hit it again, and I hit return, and pounded my mouse on the table a bit, and did all those super technical things tech women like me do. But nothing happened.

So I checked the sent file. Nothing.

So I closed Outlook, went to Blogger to check my site, went back to Outlook, checked sent file. Nothing.

So I went to get a glass of wine. Came back. Nothing.

So I went to find my husband to help me. He was busy, like usual. Blah blah blah programming.

I Checked my inbox. Well, what do you know? There was the message (I'm on my own mailing list.)

Okay, problem solved, all done, time to watch Bewitched with the kids.

We have the first two seasons of Bewitched on DVD. We saw Tabitha for the first time last night. She was so cute, her chubby little baby legs stuffed into 70's lime green footie pajamas. She had so much hair! Just like my sister Angie's baby pictures.

Tabitha stared and stared at Darren the whole time. He is kind of funny looking. I stare at him too sometimes, and think "Huh. Samantha is so beautiful, she could have had anyone, why on earth did she pick him?"

But back to me and my problems:

That message never did show up in my sent file. Such a mystery. Technology is like that.

The next day, however, I logged in and HELLO, there were 7 of my sent messages sitting there in my inbox. They magically found their way there during the night, I guess.

And then I went to a business networking thing last night, just in case anyone wanted to give me a job (don't laugh, someone did!) and one of my WoTecher friends was there with her Blackberry.

She yelled "Stop spamming me!" She's way more technical than me. I mean, she has a Blackberry.

She was STILL getting those messages! She got one last night at 5:01, a full 29 hours after the first one.

If I cared about my image as a technically savvy person, I'd be embarrassed. Thank God, I never really presented myself that way to that Tech group. As if they couldn't have guessed anyway. Those tech girls are pretty smart.

My husband finally took pity on me last night, and offered to look at my inbox (oh get your mind out of the gutter!) After saying "I hate hotmail!" like he always does, he couldn't figure out what went wrong. I didn't tell him how many times I hit send the other night, though. The thing is, he probably knew that instinctively, since I do that kind of stuff all the time.

Like when the printer stops working (it's so mysterious!) he'll say "how many times did you try to print after it didn't work the first time?" Why does he ask that? He always just looks at the printer Que, and viola, there's the answer in black and white. Six. Or Ten. Or whatever. Why the constant need to rub it in?

So now, I'm going to go to lunch with those tech women today. I make them do a name tag contest each time, as an ice breaker. Its good to do crafts, really. And I give them prizes and candy. It's not like I'm bribing them to be there or anything. No one's forcing them to show up. They enjoy this group, really, they do.

I'm meeting about another job today, before the WoTech meeting. After that meeting, I think I'll buy a can of spam, write my name on it, and try to attach it to myself. Maybe rig something up with magnets, or duct tape. I'm so innovative, really.

I'll be Julie Spam from now on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh Deer, Dogs! Perilous Running in Bend

I did go running today. And I went yesterday too. I think that's four days in a row, but who's counting, besides me? Seems like it's getting a tiny bit easier. But I need new shoes now.

I need to figure out what I get after running for 30 days in a row. Ideas?

Today was unseasonably warm, about 72' I think, according to my car. I got in my car after I went running, so I could get coffee and Soy Lemon Cake at the Strictly Organic coffee shop with my friend Jen. The same Jen who faithfully reads my blog and comments. Seriously, how could I refuse?

Soy Lemon Cake sounds weird, I know, but OMG, it was dreadfully good. The baker must have used soy milk, I'm guessing. Soy flour is not so dreadfully good, I've tried it. That was back in the old days when I cut out wheat, dairy, citrus, corn, sugar, alcohol and...everything else that tasted remotely good. But I felt great and my skin was Ivory Snow, I tell you. That was a long, long time ago.

So I was sprinting up a hill (a short hill) and lo and behold there at the top was a mommy deer and her two babies. Yikes. She stopped eating bushes and stared at me. I couldn't remember if I was supposed to stare her down or avoid eye contact. Deer are different than cougars in this regard, right?

We had a fantastically strange and rare occurrence of "Berserk Llama Syndrome" here in Central Oregon last month, where a Llama attacked a mom who was running down the road. Holy Cow, that's a reason to give up running right there. I thought of that story when I saw the deer. Seems like if I were a mommy deer, I might go berserk if I had to. Fight someone off with my bare hooves.

So I had to stop running, of course. I didn't want her to chase me. Half a block later, I saw the dogs. One looked like a dingo. I'm not kidding. Must have been one of those farm dogs. One was a Border Collie. Definitely a farm dog, who would attempt to herd up some baby deer, if given the chance.

The dogs were sitting in their driveway, staring at me. I love dogs, I usually show no fear. But these dogs...they just kept staring. They were stood up, on alert. Maybe they smelled deer and couldn't figure out why I was there. They could have just wondered why I stopped in front of their house and started staring at them, I suppose. But I didn't think of that at the time.

Of course, my fear of the deer immediately changed to fear for the deer. I didn't want the deer to attack me, but I sure didn't want the dogs to attack the deer. Or me. So I stared down the dogs. I'm pretty good at being dominate female with dogs, especially with a good, sour glare.

The Dingo turned around and walked back towards his Mercedes. Lucky dogs, with nice cars and nice brick driveways (probably heated, I'm sure.) They were Richy Rich West Side Bend dogs. Not too concerned with herding, livestock I suppose. Probably get organic hamburger for dinner.

Wait, my dog just had some leftover organic hamburger tonight. I don't consider her a Richy Rich dog. She's more of a middle class dog. I bought the hamburger at Costco. Did you know Coscto has organic hamburger now? Well, they do.

Anyway, about the driveway dogs and the deer: it all turned out just fine. No one attacked anyone, and after walking for another half a block, I realized I was just being lazy, looking for an excuse to stop, and pull a power trip on a Dingo and his sidekick, so I started running again.

At least it was down hill.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why Scientists are Irritating

I read an article in the newspaper, before I drank my coffee this morning. It sure put a damper on my evening plans of eating a good, hearty crock-pot meal and drinking a tangy Shiraz on this crisp autumn day.

"While your attention has been elsewhere, scientists have amassed persuasive evidence that drinking alcohol -- any form of alcohol, even in moderate amounts -- can pose a serious threat to your health."

Last I heard, these alleged "smarty pants" scientists told me it was good to drink one or two glasses of red wine a day. Something about good cholesterol and healthy tannins.

They said I might get the same effects by eating lots of red grapes too. But for heaven's sake, what's so fun about that? Grapes aren't very relaxing. Unless you're a King in a Rubens painting, maybe.

Today's article goes on to say "Women who have one to two drinks a day increase their breast cancer risk by 13 percent. With four drinks, the risk is 50 percent higher."

I have no interest in getting breast cancer, believe me, I have too many friends who've died or are currently dealing with that dreaded beast as it is. I'm rooting for these scientists to find the cure.

But I often have one or two glasses of red wine, if I'm not dieting and if I'm feeling financially settled. Let me explain:

I'm too much of a snob to drink cheap wine, although my husband doesn't seem to mind. But this is a guy who drinks Pabst Blue Ribbon, because David Lynch yelled about it in a movie once, and he gets such a kick out of David Lynch. I can't even drink a Bud, let alone a Pabst.

I prefer a good Coppola Merlot, or an Argyle Pinot, personally. Which is why I should budget my wine consumption for both monetary and caloric reasons. I'm not saying I do, (Costco is my secret Coppola source, but during a tight month I've been known to go for any decent Old Vine Zin I can find) I'm just saying I should.

But wait, here's the very next sentence in this same article:

"Drinking small amounts of alcohol -- a shot of hard liquor or a glass of beer or wine -- on a consistent daily basis does have a few proven health benefits. Specifically, it reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes caused by blocked arteries by 10 to 15 percent. That's probably because alcohol increases good cholesterol and prevents blood platelets from clumping together."

So, tell me, please, what scientists do all day. I mean, I assume they do experiments, and I'm all for that. In fact, I do know many scientists, and I have to say honestly that I'm thrilled they are improving health through chemistry and biology and all those other scientific things. But could they get their story straight? Is it a communication error? Do they need a better system?

Can you imagine what would happen to our world if everyone went around saying they knew the truth and what was best for the human race, and then the next day they changed their story?

Oh, wait, I guess we don't have to imagine that. We are America, after all.

Just for the record, I'm proud to be an American, so don't get me started on politics, or I might cry.

It must be all that Springsteen I've been listening to on my runs lately. "Born in the USA" and all the other great tunes from the 1980s. Just thinking of his lyrics gets me a little misty. I mean, that poor Jack and Diane. Where are they now, anyway?

Same with David Bowie's "Suffragette City," all about women's rights, etc. Now that song can help me sprint a good half a block or so.

Wait, what was I talking about? Wine, women, and song? Or was I talking about myself again?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Snow Day

Surprise, surprise. Snow in mid-October. I woke up this morning to let the dog out, and saw about half an inch of snow on the ground. Icy snow. Crunchy. The dog was not happy.

Seemed like a perfect excuse not to run today.

Three hours later, it was all gone. No snow, no ice, just a lonely snowman in the park sitting on top of brown grass, right where the neighbor children built him.

So I put on my shoes, and went.

It wasn't such a big deal, actually. I did the hill route, so I had to stop a few times, but all in all, a good 40 minute run. Or plod, as I like to refer to my gait. I'm more of a Clydesdale than a race horse, really.

And the sky was amazing. Huge, fluffy clouds so close it seemed like my heavy breathing could have pushed them back towards the mountains.

Loretta Lynn belted out "High, on a mountain top," and the Bee Gees sang "Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive." I appreciated their sincere energy and repeated attempts at keeping me chugging along. Not an easy task, to be sure.

I felt much better when I got home. Relaxed, with a few endorphins kicking in. I almost did some sit-ups. Almost, but not quite.

I need to remember that happy after-run feeling for tomorrow. Wish I could bottle it and drink it every morning after my coffee.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Yes, it really is all about me...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I should pretend I'm shocked and flattered that anyone would want to read what I write about myself, but as the youngest of four children, I just assume everyone wants to hear what I have to say.

I'll be 42 soon. I heard 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. I was thinking by now I'd know some real answers. Maybe I do. Maybe they'll be hidden somewhere in this blog, like those hidden pictures we looked for in the Sunday Comics when we were kids, before we could read. So if you find any answers, please tell me.

Or maybe I don't know anything, really, and we'll just waste time together. My hidden talent is goofing off. Shhh...I'm supposed to be working. I'm "between jobs," actually. Told everyone I was taking two weeks off. It's stretched to three. I think I've got a new job coming up, though. I've been working on a proposal. Working hard on that. Working super hard on that thing.

About the Running Club: there isn't really a club. It's just me, myself and me, me, me (get used to it.) If I start a club, that means I have to show up for it, and I'll feel guilty if I just want to sleep in, or drink wine the night before. I have enough guilt already, I don't need more.

About being chubby: sometimes I am fat, and sometimes I am thin, but I keep running. Sometimes I run 5 times a week. Sometimes 1 time. Sometimes none. Sometimes I'm in great shape and I run a 10k. Sometimes I feel proud to run three blocks in a row without stopping. This has been going on for over 20 years. I think I'm a runner. I have the shoes for it.

Sometimes I love to run, sometimes I hate it. It's hard to run when you're fat, mostly because everything jiggles more, and if you push yourself too hard, your knees end up hurting, and you have to stop for awhile, which is a blessing and a curse. But I still do it.

It's almost fun to run when you're thin and in great shape. You feel so...healthy. Like your body is at your command, like every thing's working and you're in charge of yourself. But even then, I always know there will come a day when I'll want to sleep in, eat cookies, and goof off.

Here's the best thing that's happened to my running this year: My husband won an IPod Shuffle at Safeway a few months ago. He was the 500th customer that day, or something. I promptly claimed that Shuffle, he already had a real IPod. I made a fabulous "Chubby Mommy Running Mix" that consists of many fast-paced hits from the 70's and 80's, the decades of my youth.

So I like running a bit more now. I mean, really, listening to Queen sing "Fat Bottom Girls" when you're chugging up a can really keep a girl going. We make the rockin' world go 'round, man!

Here's what happened today with my running:
  1. Got up at 6:30, put on running clothes, but not shoes. It was cold, dark and rainy. I decided to run later, after kids got on the bus.
  2. Ironed children's shirts for picture day. I have a love/hate relationship with ironing, but I can't bear for future generations who see these school pictures to think I was a bad mom who didn't iron. It's all about me and my reputation, really.
  3. Spent three hours figuring out health insurance for family, which was a big, hairy deal, since our COBRA is $1200 a month and that's ridiculous. There was crying and cussing involved, on my part. Being self-employed means the rules change. I felt the stress welling up in me, I tell you.
  4. Decided I should run to feel better, but I had to take a hot bath first, since I was cold and it was raining, and even though running would warm me up, it'd be better to start warm, right?
  5. Put on new running clothes, but nearly had a heart attack when the old jog bra from 15 pounds ago didn't fit. Holy shit. I'd better get serious about exercise this week, no excuses.
  6. Fought off an anxiety attack about struggling to get that jog bra off. Had to stop, think strategically about the situation, and find a good solution. I won, and banished that bra, for now. Found a much more forgiving bra. Would a new bra be better? Vowed to lose weight, not buy bigger sizes.
  7. Husband was gone, I had to fight off the urge to get back into bed, read my book for book club, and take a nap. Watched 10 minutes of HGTV. Hmm...I should make a craft.
  8. Husband came home. I quickly switched channel to CNBC. Stock market crashed today. Easy come, easy go. Damn. I should get serious about getting a job. Husband went to work on our start-up company. I'm supposed to be helping him. I'm working hard on that. Super hard. Maybe Google will buy us. That'd be great.
  9. Went to find my running shoes. Sometimes they end up in the strangest places. Not sure how.
  10. Found them under my desk in my office. Thank goodness, because my office phone rang, and it was my friend Sarah, who wanted to go lunch. What a treat!
  11. Went to lunch, in my running clothes, with my long wool coat over the top (I was still cold.)
  12. Said no to wine at lunch, since I was going to go running right after.
  13. Lovely lunch. Talked about art. I realized I put on my clogs instead of my running shoes, in my haste to get to the restaurant. Oops, I'd have to go back home to get shoes.
  14. Came back home, researched art blogs for Sarah, who I convinced should start one for her business, and sent her many links and lots of info. I'm such a good friend.
  15. Checked on my husband. He was programming, not in the mood to talk. I'm just sure!Decided it was now or never, time to run. I was at the front door, looking at the shoes.
  16. Daughter #1 arrived home on the school bus.
  17. Made popcorn with her, and brainstormed a fun idea about starting a t-shirt business, and how she could write a blog about it.
  18. Drank lots of water, in preparation for run.
  19. Son came home on the school bus. He needed butter for the popcorn, he had a bad day. Some kid farted next to him on the bus. People may have thought it was him. The horror.
  20. Put healthy apples in the oven to bake. Said no to cookies, turning over a new leaf, jog bras don't lie.
  21. 5:30 p.m. Started drinking wine. Such a nice autumn day, cozy and warm, with cinnamin and apples and children and dogs. La la la la la. Might as well finish up that bottle of Zinfandel, it goes so well with apples.
  22. Daughter #2 went to friend's house, and was invited for sleep over, with a family we haven't met.
  23. Printed out Google map for husband, so he could take stuff to her, meet the parents.
  24. Decided to start a new blog, just for fun.
  25. Husband called, he's lost. Came home. Whatever! Someone has to meet these people who a taking care of our daughter tonight! Called my friend who is neighbors with them for reference. Friend not home. Felt stress starting to well up. Bad husband, getting lost, 2 miles from home. I'll have to drive over there myself. No more wine now. Damn.
  26. Why didn't I go running? Too much stress in me today! I'm so lame, so unlike those confident girls Queen sings about.
  27. Remembered apples. They melted in the oven. Had applesauce for dinner.
  28. Drove to daughter's sleepover. Got lost for half an hour in the dark. Found it, finally. Nice people, she'll be fine. I had to pretend I wasn't panicking, stressed, and irriated. I pretended I was super regular and not prone to getting lost in familar neighborhoods.
  29. Came home. Drank more wine, finished writing blog.
  30. It's dark and rainy, and 8:30 p.m. I'll run tomorrow, for sure.

And so it was, if it ever was.

Ta ta,

Miss Julie