Monday, September 26, 2011

Do the right thang!

So, every other year or so, I sign up for a CPR/First Aid class and then watch three hours of my life slip away, three hours that I'll never get back, sitting in a room with other people, playing around with modified dummies and masks.  Sounds like kinky fun, I know!  The worst part of the training are the baby manikins - totally weird:
Creepy, right?  Source.

My major take-away from the entire experience is to call 911 on a land line!  Attending the class also informs me of how much I just DON'T know about CPR and first aid.  In other words, it reinforces my sense that I would be fairly inept.
So, why, then, do I put myself through these three hours of scintillating information?  
On more than one occasion, I wish that I had extensive training or that I knew outdoor/wilderness first aid.  In the meantime, however, despite my poo-pooing whatever I may or may not learn during the training, I actually do have some faith that I might know how to react in case of an emergency, even if it is theoretical knowledge at this point.  Therefore, I might be able to respond appropriately.  At the very least, I might stay calm and not freak out.  At the very least, I'll know how to call 911!
And, the other thought is that this training, in one way or another, is some sort of social responsibility.  Since I have the opportunity to take the class, with no charge to my person, I really owe it to myself, people I know, and even people that I don't know, to have this very general knowledge.  
Whether I have to use it or not is another question altogether!  Our instructor even said that he hadn't ever performed CPR on a person, and then he followed up that statement with "Thank goodness!".  
To be honest, I hope that I won't have to respond to a situation, but I also hope that, if the situation should arise, that I'll know HOW to deal with it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My jet-setting lifestyle: 25 hours in Boston

So, I've now recovered from it, but over the weekend I took the red-eye to Boston from LAX, arrived Saturday morning at 6:00 am, and then hopped BACK on the plane Sunday at 7:00 am and returned to LAX around 10:00 am.  In between those hours of travel, I attended a 40th birthday party - major celebration!!
An added bonus to the trip was that Michael and I spent Friday afternoon and early evening around Venice Beach, grabbing sushi before he dropped me off at LAX.  It was bizarre, though, because I went from this:

To something more like this:

Both places definitely have their charm!  It was especially nice to step out of the airport in Boston and reach for my fleece.  The air had a chilly bite to it, and it totally felt like fall, even though the leaves had yet to change.   It was nice to have that sense of being in the Northeast and reminded me of the years that I spent in Philly.  
I flew on Virgin America, my first experience with that "hip" airline, and I would definitely pay more to fly the friendly skies with Virgin America again.  The seats were small, but pretty much everything else about the flight was pretty damn awesome.
As for the 24 hours in Boston - it seemed crazy when I bought the ticket, but this is a friend from college whom I've known for going on 20 years (Yikes!  That sounds like a lot of years!).  I did not see much of Boston, except for the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, but I took a nice long walk through a pretty cool cemetery.  
As for the party on Saturday night, it was low-key in all the best ways - people from different parts of her life, eating pizza at a great place called Bella Luna and talking about anything and everything - Lisa, kids, dogs, work, school, travel, racism, politics, aging...  
After talking until late into the evening, I crashed and then woke up a very few hours later, brushed my teeth and headed back to the airport.  Just a few hours later, I stepped out into the sunny, breezy Los Angeles air.  It was a nice welcome back - and it sort of seemed that I'd never even left!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trying the new and unknown

I've decided that even though summer has ended, that doesn't (or shouldn't) mean that my spirit of adventure is quashed!  So, while during the week, I've tried to transition to a more professional look these days, the weekends are still reserved for fun.
Case in point:

The first picture, obviously, is Day 1 - back to the grind!  Don't I look like I'm miserable?  I actually was pitting out my shirt because it was an unbearably hot day, but I did have fun being back in the class!
The second picture was taken on Saturday when I participated in my first ever "Mud Run"!  Somehow, hanging out with a random group of really funny people and running (and crawling) through mud pits seemed like the perfect antidote to the whole "I'm-an-adult-thing".  I will admit that I was nervous before the race - there seemed to be a LOT of unknowns.  I was meeting up with people whom I didn't really know, so would it/I be awkward?  Would I suddenly try to be competitive and be a jerk?  Would I twist an ankle or tweak my knee as I scaled an 'obstacle' or would I just get stuck in the mud?
Michael, my trusty photographer, accompanied me, which went above and beyond the usual call of duty, but he's a winner like that.  When we arrived at Irvine Lake, thunder and lightening greeted us - SERIOUSLY!?  I could not believe it!  Rain in September in Southern CA?!  I figured that I'd be getting wet and muddy at any rate, so what did it matter, as long as the lightening let up.
Once our team ("We Got the Runs" - nice name!) started, the race was a blast!  There is something joyful and childlike about running around, jumping over walls and crawling in mud.  By the end, however, I was more than ready to exit the mud and shower off!

On our way back to LA, we stopped at Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs, a hotdog place in Orange County.  That was a serendipitous discovery - as we were driving around strip mall hell, we luckily spotted a sign and it piqued our interest.  A Chicago-style hotdog, a sausage and an order of fries later (Michael and I split everything), I was in a comatose state.
It must have been because of that comatose state that I fell completely asleep during the drive home and Michael ended up missing an exit and driving almost to LAX!  I woke up to signs pointing to Redondo Beach rather than Pasadena.
Again, that was also a new and different way to get back to Pasadena (cough, cough)!
Maybe I won't always embrace the new and unknown, but there is something exhilarating about meeting a challenge head-on.  Whether it is a new start to the year, meeting new people, or pushing myself physically, getting out of my comfort zone keeps me sharp and makes life more interesting.  And while there are plenty of times when I'll opt for the familiar, I do know that I *need* to step out and greet the "known unknowsn" (thank you, Donald Rumsfeld) with open arms.
I will, however, happily return to the comfort of a shower (or two)!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Summer's end (Redux)

My first "Ode to the end of summer", my last post, was pretty much an ode to my slovenly side, something that really doesn't deserve too much recognition.  Also, I have tried to fully embrace this last day of summer, despite knowing that summer is expiring, sighing its final, dying breath.

So, I give you, in brief, our Summer 2011 wrap-up:

June started out with high hopes of adventure, which we put on hold while this guy dealt with a bladder stone operation:

He recovered before our whirlwind trip to the East Coast.  In two weeks, I bounced between DC, Delaware (of all places, where I learned how to manage people, at least in theory), NYC, Rhode Island and Boston!  We spent lots and lots of time with friends and family, and I suffered the loss/theft of my laptop.

Back in SoCal, we celebrated our 5th year wedding anniversary with an epic hike to "The Bridge To Nowhere".  Soon, however, we were on the road again and in Colorado where we spent time in Allens Park, Boulder and Breckenridge, visiting with more friends and family.  We also played a lot!

We collapsed upon our return to CA, before steeling ourselves for more family and friends - visiting US this time around!  And I capped off the summer with my last feat of physical endurance for a while - the Santa Barbara Triathlon.

In addition to the rather intense activity of coming and going and going and coming, I read a few good books (like this and this series).  It was, obviously, not the most intellectually engaged summer that I've had, but I feel okay about that.
I also spent way more time in the saddle than I ever had before, so I'll chalk that up to success.  My bike and I are almost friends now, although I still don't understand him/her/it!  Along the same vein, I attended many morning spinning classes, most with Rod, who is a total spinning guru.  This morning, I attended my final class given by Rod, at least for a few months, and I wanted to die.  Or to kill him.  Seriously.  How is it possible that I've worked hard all summer and I'm still a lame-ass in the saddle?!  Okay, moving on...
Michael and I also discovered a few new loves.  First of all, there is Umami Burger.  It is, quite simply, amazing.  I think that I could eat there every single week.  That did not happen, and we actually haven't been there since (GASP) July.  Must go back.
While in Boulder, we also fell in love with a few local products.  First of all, there is this granola that is pretty kick-ass:
We particularly like the sweet cranberry pecan flavor.  

Thanks to our bus 'booze cruise', we discovered Avery Beer, and I am now obsessed and buy it whenever I see it in California.  "The Reverend" is one of my favorites, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I feel like a naughty school girl when I drink it!

Finally, there were a few other highlights that added to our summer fun.  I'm a fan of summer sports events, but usually the non-traditionally American sort.  This summer was a bit of downer, considering that a few of my favorites lost (Rafa, the US Women's soccer team), but I *did* enjoy following the Tour, and Cadel Evans is my new boyfriend.  
On the food front, we indulged far too much in pizza and other less-than-healthy choices, but we did add to our own repertoire when we purchased a Weber charcoal grill.  It has revolutionized our cooking/grilling experience, and most of our cooking this summer seemed to involve throwing fish, chicken or an elk/bison burger on the grill.  Great fun, especially because we can look at the sky turn crazy colors as we wait for the food to cook.  Lots of oohs and aahs!

This wasn't a summer in which we explored totally new and exciting places, but familiar stomping grounds were good to visit.  Also, spending time with family and friends and bonding over beer or a Colorado 14-er (like Mt. Lincoln) enriches our lives and serves to remind me of the importance of those relationships.  Finally, Michael and I enjoyed having time together.  This is certainly a gift that we've tried to take advantage of the past few summers, knowing that his schedule may not always be so open.  
So, tonight, while there will be some panic on my part as I freak out about documents and classes and students, we will definitely celebrate summer's last evening!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer's end

I really should be working on my course descriptions, the syllabus for one of the classes, and general planning for the 2011-2012 academic year.  Gearing up, in other words, for next week when the proverbial "rubber hits the road", and I am back in the classroom!  See, this will be my experience:

Okay, so my students are a bit older and don't look at me with such adoration.  Other than that, my teaching experience exactly mirrors this photo!
(This isn't helping me at all....)

Obviously my summer has pretty much ended, so I need to get OVER IT.  The greatest challenge as I transition from summer break to school has nothing to do with the idea of work.  Surprisingly, there is that little rush that comes with being back on campus, returning to the classroom, and seeing students and colleagues again.  It is quite comforting, in fact, to find that my brain cells still whirl along and enjoy a bit of stimulation.
The hardest part, for me, about returning to work is dressing the part.  After 3 languorous months in which I lived, for the most part, in flipflops, Patagonia capris, Patagonia t-shirts and Patagonia dresses (slight obsession, I know!), I now have to return to the adult world, at least in terms of personal appearance.  We had meetings last week, and I tried to cut a somewhat professional profile, but on Tuesday, it's D-day:  Wake up early, shower at the beginning of the day, try to 'do' my hair and even leave the house with make-up scattered on my face.  I seem to have slacked off on these sorts of habits over the summer, wallowing in dirt and sweat on a regular basis.
However, since I don't want to mourn summer's passing before that has even happened, I AM enjoying my weekend, damnit!  We had totally blown whatever budget we thought that we had this summer, and we've continued that trend this weekend, eating out on Friday night, Saturday night and brunch today.  Shameful, I know!  I also just cut up a watermelon, which I plan to finish off by this evening, while indulging in my last "Law and Order" marathon viewing session (the whole DVR thing is terrible!).  We should also eat the rest of the Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche that is going to be the last ice cream that we buy for the next several months!
Yep, that, in a nutshell is my summer:  lots of eating out, lots of eating ice cream in, not showering, sweating plenty, and wearing flipflops.  
Next week just might kill me!