Saturday, April 27, 2013

Highs and lows for the week

By the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, I was more ready to get off the rollercoaster ride that the week had been.  However, instead of basking in the glow of the end of a hard week, I settled into a bit of a grumpy, stewy fog of a mood. On a Friday afternoon!  Fortunately, it lifted after a walk with the dogs and a small but potent margarita.  Just what the doctor ordered!

The grumpiness has followed me around for much of the week, developing last weekend when our neighbors' dogs (four small things) started to bark fairly incessantly, keeping us up at night and setting me totally on edge.  We were feeling pretty desperate about the situation - not sleeping, Michael working at home and not being able to concentrate because of the barking.  At one point, Michael, in a sleep-deprived fit of frustration, even commented that buying the house was the biggest mistake we'd made.  To try to resolve or alleviate the problem, we moved our bed from one room to another to the final room where it will probably stay put, and we also talked to the neighbors, expressing our concern for their dogs rather than our frustration with them.  Additionally, we considered writing a letter and also calling the SPCA which, according to their website, does deal with barking dogs.  In the meantime, we were both reading about the effects of dog barking, all negative, which did nothing to reassure our nerves.  I know that some people consider it a point of pride the fact that they can function without much sleep, but I am not one of them.  So, figuring out a solution to the barking dogs was a necessity if we were going to live in this new house with any sense of peace and happiness.  Finally, on Tuesday, we slept thanks to the white noise playlist we created.  I had never appreciated sleep as much until that night - total bliss!

The other nadir (can there be more than one lowest point?  In theory, no, but let's say it was a different nadir, work-related rather than personal/home) was a student issue.  I can't go into details, but I felt somewhat unsatisfied by the action taken by the school/the administration.  While I was told (note the passive voice) that the school would absolutely support me, in the same sentence the same person used the phrase "thin ice" to describe my position.  I'm sure the fact that I was tired from lack of sleep did not help my overall reaction to the student's infraction and the consequences, or lack thereof.

Fortunately, there were some moments that  lifted my spirits.  Tuesday, a colleague and I took our classes on a field trip to see a few of the hundreds of L.A. murals.  The timing was terrible (note to self: do not take students on a field trip in April), but the experience was a success.  Also, a student gave me a bag of oranges from the orange tree in her yard as a thank-you for writing her letter of recommendation.  In non-school related themes, I started Tuesday track workouts with a local tri group, and they've been both fun and really f-ing hard.  The last time I ran track workouts was over 20 years ago, but mixing in a bit of speed shouldn't hurt too much.

I *am* getting excited and nervous for next weekend's big event.  I realized that opening my 'season' with Wildflower and going in with high hopes is probably a terrible approach, so I've adjusted my expectations.  In my terrible funk, I invested in some new tri clothes - a full on "kit".  It's totally obnoxious with crazy colors and designs, but I tried it out and didn't run into any chaffing issues, so I'll gear up in it for Wildflower.  Maybe it will make me go faster?  One can always hope.

At this point, I'm ready to have a more relaxed week, both in terms of work and play/life!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Oh, yeah, this is what it's about

This will be the last time that I refer to the crappiness of April, but as the past few weeks have gone by and I've not been able to do the training that I originally envisioned for myself in April, I have felt somewhat dispirited.  I know, life happens - I got sick, we moved, I've lacked motivation and/or have had other priorities.  I expected that, by this point in April, I would have cranked up the mileage and would be looking at two fairly easy weeks before Wildflower on May 5.  Instead, I had 3 sloth-like weeks and fitting in workouts felt like a burden.  So, now, when I should back off on training, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things.

Fortunately, this weekend, I really enjoyed the 6 hours that I put into swimming, biking and running and remembered why I like training.  It can be fun, but most of these were hours on my own, I spent them kind of lost in my own thoughts as I enjoyed the fact that I was not grading, emailing, planning classes, writing my annual self-evaluation, or dealing with house stuff.  Yes, training this weekend functioned as hours of self-indulgence and a mental health break from random stressors.  Maybe that's just what I needed because I'm finally looking forward to Wildflower in two weeks!

Talk about an attitude shift - even Thursday night, I found myself wanting to spend the weekend napping.  Friday, however, I decided that I really needed to re-introduce myself to my bike.  While March was a pretty good month in terms of time in the saddle, I hadn't been on my bike at all in April.  That changed on Friday when I squeezed in a 2 hour brick (90 min. ride/30 min run) before I had to spend my evening chaperoning prom.  All I wanted to do after getting all hot and sweaty was spend my evening on the sofa with a cold IPA, but I managed to pull myself together enough for prom.  As much as I hated having to spend the evening working (and not just working but having to wear nice clothes and heels - definitely my idea of hell for a Friday night), I was SO happy that I had carved in time to train.  Today, I spent another few hours riding and running and thinking, and I really appreciated that time.

I'm not great at balancing every aspect of my life that I consider important - there are times when one piece or another starts to slide.  And sometimes just keeps sliding.  However, I do love these moments when I can get out there for an hour or two, forget all of the other pressing business and just focus on the curve of the road, hauling up another hill, putting one foot in front of the other.  These are the moments that remind me how lucky I am!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Box by box, little by little - Progress!

After denouncing April's cruelty in my last post/bitch session, things have improved and my mood has lifted considerably (I will say that I'm not the only one who thinks that April kind of sucks, although T. S. Eliot said it much more eloquently than I).  That said, I find myself longing for summer when, at the very least, I don't have something as bothersome as work hanging over my head!

The big news - we have officially moved into the new old house - OUR house, which I still find crazy. I say 'old' because it dates from the 1920's, with some modern updates.  It has taken us more time than we expected to be out of the last place, mainly because we own far more shit than we thought that we did.  Most of it fits in the new place, but we plan to store some of the more random and superfluous items, like Christmas ornaments, in the garage.  We moved plenty of loose items and clothes on Saturday, and then the movers came Tuesday for all of the big items - furniture and boxes.  This was our final departure on Tuesday afternoon, leaving our old abode and heading to the new one with the pups:

They had sensed for a while that something was "up", but walking through the empty house freaked them out a bit, and they panted the entire four miles or so to the new place.  They seem to have adjusted, although they are still a bit tentative about which room they really want to hang out in.  Mostly they are sticking close to us (one is snoring happily away by my side as I type this all out).

As for the house - we are still settling in.  Michael made major inroads on Thursday and cleared a spot so that we can eat at the table, but I don't feel extraordinarily motivated to spend hours and hours emptying boxes.  The kitchen and bathroom and clothes are set, and ditto for the cable, so what more do we really need?  At the moment, we can navigate the labyrinth of boxes somewhat successfully, so I don't feel particularly anxious to sort through all of our boxes, many of which we will store away in the garage. We have discovered, much to our relief and happiness, that we really do like the house and the neighborhood.  We met one of our neighbors today when we took the boys for a walk, and I think that we'll soon know a handful of people, at least by sight, if not by name.  I was concerned about the small yappy dogs that live next to us - that we'd have a barking war between all of our pets, but Gus and Milo have demonstrated zero interest in barking at them.  With the exception of the occasional outbursts, it's a pretty quiet neighborhood, which we like, especially after living so close to one highway or another throughout most of our LA experience together.  It is nice to hear birds in the backyard instead of the buzz of traffic!

Thanks to laryngitis/sore throat/cough that has dragged on and on, I was much less help than I hoped to be in terms of the move.  This particular cold strand has been quite vicious, but I am finally getting better.  It has set my goals for Wildflower back somewhat, which was initially frustrating, but I've now accepted it and am looking forward to that May 5 race day no matter what!  This morning I had my first open water swim of the season, which makes Wildflower seem a bit more real.  Until the past week, I'd been feeling confident about my swimming fitness, but I took a step backwards with my cold and really struggled through this week's swims.  However, the swim this morning gave me a good idea of where I stand for Wildflower - maybe just a hair faster than last year?  It was exciting and scary to pull out the wetsuit (fortunately I remembered where I had stowed it, unlike my Garmin cord/charger which remains elusive!), and a mile is always shorter and longer than I think that it will be, if that makes sense. I didn't kill it in the water, not that I ever do, but I also felt pretty even throughout - both in terms of stroke and breathing.  Even better, I did NOT end up with 'swimmer's itch', despite all of the warnings about that being a possible result of the day's swim!

So, it seems that we're moving ahead - settling into the house and I'm finally back to training.  I'm sure that we'll continue to make adjustments, big and small, in the next few days and weeks.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The cruelest month so far

Oh, April, I had such high hopes for you!  I realize that it's early days yet, we're only on the 6th, but so far, it's kicked me right in the teeth.

Not that I planned for things to go this way - I was actually very optimistic about the month.  But I woke up on Monday with a slight tickle in my throat and by the evening, my voice had gone south.  Still, I could speak, sort of, until I got through a few classes and by Tuesday, my voice was worse, even though 2 of my classes just wrote an essay.  Wednesday, I managed to get through my classes and then went home and slept 1.5 hours in the afternoon.  Finally, I took Thursday off to give my voice a break, went back to school on Friday with something of a voice, which I lost by the end of the day.

It's been strange because I haven't felt TERRIBLY sick, but it's been up and down - feeling better, then worse (mainly just exhausted), then better again.  I took four full days off, doing absolutely nothing, had a total meltdown on Tuesday night when I dramatically stated "It's not even worth going to Wildflower this year at this point!"  Nice black-and-white thinking about a hobby.  Jeez!

In addition to my extracurricular activities and the timing being off for that, this really is the worst time of year for me to be sick and to miss classes.  I already will miss students for so many days this month because of random fieldtrips and days of school, so I can't afford to lose classroom time.  The other frustrating aspect about the sinus/laryngitis thing, I really can't talk to people - so, I didn't call a friend on her birthday and probably won't catch up with her for another week because things aren't looking great for a chatty weekend.  Also, I can't taste ANYTHING!  As someone who likes food and continues to cook, it is strange to make meals, eat them, but not really enjoy them.  I'm also off caffeine and alcohol and have been drinking tea, water and lots of juice.  Such a boring life!

In the midst of all of this, we have started to migrate!  We returned from Chicago to a newly painted place - amazing what a difference a good paint job makes.  I actually started to feel excited about the move, a feeling that had eluded me up to that point.  Also, our appliances arrived on Tuesday.  I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I can't wait to try out the stove/oven!  We're moving what we can today and then the movers will take everything else on Tuesday.  Again, this is adding to the craziness of the month, but it's pretty dam exciting too!

So, as rough as the week has been, I am still hopeful that April will round out and end on an up note.