Thursday, August 21, 2008

Of Water and Workouts

Boy, I'm tired. I've been actually working out regularly for once, so I'm currently enjoying the feel of fatigued muscles and a sudden uptake in my energy levels.* So far so good.

Wednesday morning, I was packing my bag to bike to the gym to workout, and I randomly decided to toss a water bottle into the bag. When I was locking my bike up, I noticed that my butt was wet. "That's weird," I thought, "Maybe I rode through a puddle..." Then it dawned on me that I had WATER in my bag--and I hadn't checked the lid on my bottle. Frantically, I opened the bag to discover my phone and iPod were now the victims of a deluge. The phone was fine, but the iPod seemed destined for the pile of regrets known as Jenn's Stupidity.

However, today everything had a chance to dry out completely, and it was in good working order. It appears that a little water temporarily affects iPods and associated pieces, but they are able to recover--at least once. I breathed a sigh of relief because I hated to lose my iPod and the Nike Sport kit that I use to track my runs.

In other news, today is Lance's birthday. Lance is awesome, and even puts up with me when I do naughty things, like signing him up for Facebook (mwhahaha). So, happy birthday to one of the best people I know. I hope that it's a fantastic day!**

*Weird how that works.

**Even with your unexpected birthday gift. Look at this way--you don't have to do any work setting up the Facebook account, and you can harass people...or just delete it after I get bored with pretending to be you.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Travel Eating

Over on Kniterati--Jenn gets her super awesome birthday gift!!!

It's not until I travel that I realize how very picky I am about food. Pittsburgh reminded me of that, and not just because of the chicken sandwich of doom. In the airport on the way out there, my fellow traveler and I stopped to eat some lunch. "Look! A TGI Friday's!" she exclaimed, "I never get to eat there." Knowing that I'm in the freaky minority of people who sniff at places like Friday's (and Applebee's and other adored chains), I went along with it. I perused the menu, narrowing on chicken with vegetables on the "right size, right price" portion of the menu, or a strawberry fields salad (with chicken). There was not one totally vegetarian option on the menu, unless I wanted iceberg lettuce salad*. I kept my judgements to myself about the quality of the salad greens.

Dinner was also interesting. Luckily, I pushed for the delicious little local LuLu's Noodle Hut (or something like that). It was soo good. I ate Pad Thai from there again the next night.

I'm so picky, and when I pick up packages and read them, pointing out why I don't consume them, my co-traveler made fun of me. She thought I was a healthy freak.

I'm not always so healthy (as evidenced by the Chicken Sandwich of DOOM!!), but I try. And I realize now why I eat out so rarely--I love being able to prepare my meals. When I do eat out, I eat at places like Greenhouse Grille, with their dedication to fresh, local produce and high quality food**. Or any of our other locally owned eateries, like Petra Cafe. Mmm, potato soup***...

*I'd rather eat meat, thanks.

**They don't serve diet anything. No fake sugars. No corn syrup. No Coke or Pepsi. It delights me to no end, though a friend who ate with me there once was not so amused when they offered her agave nectar to sweeten her tea with. Heehee.

***I would shove down tiny old ladies to eat this soup^. And I don't have anything against tiny old ladies, unless they stand in my way of this totally awesome, fantastic soup.
^Okay, so I'm a little nuts about good food. Sue me. I just feel so great when I'm eating good food.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pittsburgh, oy!

I didn't know what I was expecting from Pittsburgh. I was excited to travel to a new place, as usual, and I had looked up some neat things to visit while I was there (Italian espresso shop, anyone??), but I wasn't expecting to enjoy Pittsburgh as much as I did.

I think I fall a little bit in love with any new place. It's like the rush of a new relationship: the city is all sparkle and wit, exciting and invigorating, and it's hard to spot his flaws. I just stand dazzled and enchanted, happy to have the thrill of a fresh scene*.

I traveled to Pittsburgh to visit with the University of Pittsburgh engineering writing folks. They were fun to talk to, and they gave me lots of good ideas to play with. Their program has been developing for almost ten years, so they've had some time to make it really, really good.

Toward the end of the meeting, Beth (the writing center outreach coordinator and orchestrator of engineering writing instruction) planted a seed: Pittsburgh would be a good place for a PhD, and I might find myself an assistantship working with their program. This I was not expecting, but it made a certain amount of sense. I love innovative approaches to composition, and I could participate in a program that flips traditional composition on its head. Wow.

The thought of living and working in Pittsburgh is appealing, especially since I'm still starry-eyed from my first encounters with the city. I could bike all over the city, or I could ride the buses--who would need a car? We'd have decent Indian food within blocks of our apartment. I could experience living in an urban setting--but still be able to escape to the lovely Pennsylvanian countryside if I wanted to. And I could get my PhD funded and work with a fantastic and fun group of people.

A new door has opened, and I find that infinitely thrilling. I'm trying not to stress about all the options because it's really enjoyable to have so many future paths open before me. I could pick almost anything! We'll see if the enchantment of Pittsburgh is enough to pull me back.

*I did the same thing with Flagstaff, Arizona and St. Louis when I traveled there and explored the new places. I love figuring out a new environment and getting a feel for a novel location.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Food Hangover

Traveling often gets me to do foolish things. On my way back from Pittsburgh*, I needed to eat lunch. After faltering between several not-so-good options, I decided to test my luck (and my stomach) and just eat at the Golden Arches.

Yes, you heard me: McDonalds.

In my defense, they had a nice picture of a grilled chicken sandwich on a "deli-style" bun** with green leaf lettuce. So I ordered it along with a little ice cream. Hey, I'm on a trip, and the school is paying for my meals. The other options also had long lines/waiting time, and I had to catch my connection home.

Halfway through the sandwich, I felt a little off. After about two thirds of the ice cream, I didn't feel too great, and threw the rest out. But it was too late; the damage was done, and I spend the flight ruing the fact that I ever ate it.

Part of me (the sadistic part) actually wondered how fast food would affect me, since I haven't eaten it in a long time. Like years. Looks like it makes me feel like crap, just like it did the last time I ate it. I still feel a little gross, so I'm hoping a dinner of fresh corn and kale/black beans will make me feel better.

Lesson learned: even if it looks like real food, the crap served at McDonald's is still crap. Just nicely packaged to fool you.

*Research, woo! More on this tomorrow.
**Not white bread? Sweet!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

26 Candles

Yesterday was my birthday, and a very good one at that. I've had some craziness of late, but the birthday was a welcome respite from filial turbulence*. Some highlights:
  • I took the day off of work, and it was nice.
  • I got lots of calls and Facebook messages, yay!
  • While I got exactly zero presents on my birthday, I got the promise of a really awesome one! Woo! (And I got one the day before too, hehe).
  • I got to extend my birthday through today because my co-workers made it so.
  • I got to see one of my favorite local bands, and they were awesome.
  • Potato soup!
Anyway, it was a fun day. A quiet birthday, really, but a very nice one. Here's to another year!

*One parent, a panic attack, a hospital, two round trips to parents' home from my home, and some other stuff. Wow. Luckily everything is better now, and I ended up spending some nice time with my mom.