June 28, 2015

Orange Theory, or How To Break Your Butt

First off, can we start with a little bit of INSANELY WONDERFUL CELEBRATION?


(Hee! look what Google does to your results when you search on this topic!)

I don't have the words to do this justice. It's huge and fantastic and I admit that I am taking a teensy bit of pleasure in all of the conservative religious nuts losing their righteous little heads over this.

I love that if I have children, they will never have known a United States where gay marriage wasn't allowed.

But! Back to my intended topic: have you guys heard of Orange Theory? I went from it being completely off my radar to suddenly hearing about it all the time - I have a bunch of friends obsessed with it; I started seeing mentions of it all over my Facebook and Instagram feeds, and a sign popped up directly in front of our building letting us know one was opening across the street.

My friends who have gotten into it have been suggesting I join them for months now, because it's "super intense" and "really competitive" so it would be perfect for me, they point out.

....which made me terrified to try, because I'm pretty sure I only SEEM intense and competitive to people who, say, don't actually play ultimate frisbee. I have lots of scars and injuries from it, sure! But is that because I'm intense? Or perhaps because I'm clumsy?

(Hint: it's the second one.)

Also, my cardio has been SAAAD the last 9 months or so. In that it has been non-existent. And the problem with that is I *am* actually competitive, but only in the least useful way: I don't have the KILL KILL GO FOR IT instinct that would be useful in, say, ultimate frisbee (where I'm more likely to duck out of the way and let someone else catch a disc rather than go in for the aggressive defense) - but I *do* have the kind of competitive instinct where if I think someone is watching me, I'll continue working out far longer than I would on my own so that I don't appear lazy or weak.

Basically, I appear to be the exact target demographic for Orange Theory, which is essentially an hour of someone pushing me harder than I'd push myself, with my stats projected onto a giant board at the front of the room so everyone would be able to see if I were slacking off.

I've always enjoyed classes at the gym, like kickboxing or lifting, because I need both the shaming element ("these people who definitely don't actually care what I'm doing and are not paying any attention to me can't see me slack off! that would be so embarrassing!") and the discipline of someone else telling me what to do - on my own I do, like, 4 push ups and then decide I'm tired, and haven't I been getting sick this week? It really would be better for me to take care of my body by resting, don't I think?

(This is also why I am BEYOND THRILLED that one of my friends became a personal trainer, because she now comes to force me to work out twice a week. Right in my own house! It's the best!)

Anyway. Orange Theory takes this concept up a notch by adding a super appealing dose of gimmicky technology into the mix: everyone wears a heart rate monitor, so your heart rate and calories burned are shown on a giant screen at all times along with everyone else's in the class. The box with your name changes color depending on the percentage of your max heart rate being achieved - orange being the "push" zone, hence the name Orange Theory. You're only supposed to peak into orange or occasionally red a few times during the hour (12-24 minutes total in orange is the goal, I believe) so the workout is circuit-based, giving you time to keep bringing your heart rate down between various "sprints" on the treadmill, rowing machines, and weights/floor exercises.

Well. For some of use whose hearts are apparently weak like a 90 year old grandma, just looking at treadmills is enough to push us into the orange zone, it would appear. After class, the trainer asked how I liked the class and commented that I be aiming to get at least 12 "splat points" - aka minutes spent at 84% or more of my max heart rate.

"Uh. So is 43 good....?" I asked him, peering up at my results on the big board.

Guys, you're supposed to spend 50% of the time in the green. I spent 55% of the time trying to explode my heart. My AVERAGE heart rate during that hour was 169 bpm. On the up side, nearly murdering yourself burns a lot of calories!

I did actually love the class, though. It's all super short goals - for example, sprint 300 meters on the rowing machines, then hop off and do 10 lunges; hop back on for another 300 meters, etc. Those are PERFECT for me.

Ask me to run 5 miles and I'll give up before I finish tying my shoelaces because ARE YOU KIDDING ME that is like HOURS of running, I'm pretty sure. Give me a 30 second goal? ALL IN!

However. This willingness to push through anything for 30 seconds is not the smartest when you're not in peak physical form, as everyone else attending these classes apparently is. Do you know what one of the sprints on the treadmills was? A 90 second sprint, at TEN PERCENT INCLINE. That is basically VERTICAL UP THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. But I did it! Because the trainer was shouting that I could do it for just a short time! Just 30 more seconds now! Don't cheat yourself! Make it count! YES I CAN DO IT MAKE IT COUNT WOOOO LOOK AT ME GO!!

Turns out that is maybe a lot for the glutes of someone who doesn't run, much less sprint, up the sides of mountains regularly. My ass was literally sore to the touch for 6 straight days because I'd jacked it up so good. It took a full week to recover and I'm still kind of scared to do anything else in case I anger my ass further.

Naturally I signed up for a membership. This shit is great.

June 22, 2015

Excellent Saturdaying: accomplished

Ahhh PMS. You can be aware that it is causing your fiery inferno feelings, and you can know those feelings are irrational, but it doesn't make you actually FEEL those feelings any less. By which I mean, last Friday's feelings were (thank jeebus) temporary and Saturday was a much better day. 

I started the day with my first ever Orange Theory class (more on that in another post!) which was a great physical and mental reset from the prior week. Then, the much awaited, much anticipated event of the summer.... Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center. (!!!) 

I decided to do a Full Head Curling Iron Experiment to celebrate the occasion. These pictures may not look like much, but DUDES. I curled ALL my hair! On my whole head! With a curling iron! I only bought my first curling iron a few months ago and this is like the 6th time I've used it. I realize my hair does not actually look curled here but I assure you, compared to regular Flatts McStringalot, this is positively bodacious. 

We made our way to Georgetown for a quick pre-dinner drink before meeting the rest of the Book of Mormon gang at Farmers Fishers Bakers for a nice 4:30pm dinner with the rest of the senior crowd. 

Derek, Jenn, and many jars  of... foodstuffs.

(Actually the place was jam packed, and not with early bird-ers. The Georgetown Waterfront has no downtime, it would appear.) 

The problem with such an early dinner time is that I didn't eat lunch after working out, since I didn't want to be full by dinner. So the drinks maaaaay have hit me a little hard as a result. 

We are classy diners.

Anyway! We made it to the Kennedy Center with time to spare, so we headed up to the roof for the views. Although the views were a bit obscured, since the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill were rolling in right around then.

I mean, obviously we took pictures anyway. At least until staff closed the roof access due to the high winds.

The show, of course, was fantastic. Hilarious and well done and wonderfully sung, especially by the woman who played Nabulungi, Candace Quarrels.

And then check this out - I can't decide whether this is delusional, ballsy, or a combination thereof. Here's the playbill... and here are pages 3, 5, and 7:

FULL PAGE ACTUAL ADS for ACTUAL MORMONISM. In the playbill for a show that does a whoooole lotta mocking of not just Mormons, but of religion in general - this is a show with an entire musical number whose chorus is "Fuck You, God," So: brilliant? Tongue in cheek? Wishful thinking? Pretty amazing, either way. 

June 19, 2015

Cheers to the freakin' weekend

I am having an unusually crabby day and mostly want everything to burn to the ground in a fiery inferno so we can all start fresh.

(Uh. This is maybe a combination of all the unbelievably terrible news this week along with my hormones, which I swear to god have been more ridiculous ever since the brief pregnancy situation earlier this year. Is this a thing? Once you get like, ONE TASTE of pregnancy hormones, it's a permanent change? I'm now someone who cries at sappy (or happy! or sad! or name an emotion!) videos, which is not particularly normal for me. It's like my hormones flared up and never came back down. I dislike it.)

Anyway. Thanks for all the input on the hair post guys! Speaking of, do you get my comments as emails when I reply? I suspect not, but I would LIKE that to be the case. Is there a way to get Blogger to do that, or is such a feat of technology reserved for Wordpress plugins only?

But back to hair. I'm still playing with it and trying various styling / product combos to see what works and what most reasonably tames my hair. Do normal people brush their hair like once an hour? Is that the secret to good hair? Because if my hair is down, there is not one thing I've ever tried (aside from fully curling it with rollers) that remains looking styled for the whole day. Hair down for me devolves into flat and stringy within hours. But perhaps multiple stealth brushings throughout the day at work is the way to go? Maybe I can hide a brush in the bathroom at work and start taking frequent bathroom breaks. Or maybe I can learn how to use hair products properly. Orrrr maybe I can accept that my hair is just not destined for greatness, which is the most likely scenario.

This weekend is packed with excellent plans and activities with lots of friends (including BOOK OF MORMON!! I've been trying to see this for years!) so I'm confident that will dislodge the large angry storm cloud that is currently hovering comically over my head. In the meantime I'll be here snarling at anyone who has the audacity to call or approach my desk for the remainder of the afternoon. Coworkers and cold sales callers, be forewarned.

June 16, 2015

Haircut results via possibly the most unflattering pictures I plan to ever post of myself

(...aside from the classics, of course)

So! I cut my hair off! And I am happy with it short!

...although I am not actually sure this is the RIGHT short haircut yet.

When I told my hair gal I was ready for a Big Change, she got excited and asked how changey she was allowed to get. I told her I would be up for a big chop, so she sent back a picture of a "lob" - a "long bob" - as a suggestion. I said I was down for that, but if we were going to cut it, let's CUT IT and take the length up past my shoulders.

So we did! And I like the length! But I don't know if bobs work for me. I have very thin, very flat hair - and while having it short certainly does help in giving it SOME body and shape - I don't think it's enough to carry a bob. I think I need layers.

Here are some incredibly alarming pictures from my apparently terrifyingly-lit bathroom of me before makeup, but after having blow dried my hair with a bit o' mousse in it (so, at absolute PEAK body and fullness potential):

That second one was after I flipped my hair upside and ran my hair through my roots for "volume."

I *almost* like it. But my hair isn't thick enough to keep that wall effect along the side of my face where it's supposed to remain untucked. I can't help tucking my hair behind my ear, and then it's back to flat against my scalp with the ends looking weird.

I next tried curling a few sections right up front, to give some extra body & break up the uniformity of the length on that side (also, put on some mascara FTLOG):

This works a little better, I think. And would (I think) be more in line with the results if I got some layers added in so that different bits were landing at different lengths rather than The Wall Of Hair That My Poor Thin Hair Cannot Maintain.

(Curling my hair every day is also a reasonable option unfortunately. BLOWDRYING my hair every day will be a stretch and a sacrifice, I assure you.)

That was a lot of words to hang-wring about maybe needing some layers. I.. apologize.

Other short-ish haired girls who tend toward flat and stringy: might I get some suggestions for products you've found to keep your hair from looking flat and sad and stringy within an hour of blowdrying and styling?

(The answer may be as simple as "hair spray"... I did not grow up using hair products and they are still sort of a mystery to me. So seriously any suggestions are welcome.)

June 12, 2015

Terribly-photographed foray into Blue Apron

I know a ton of people (both online and for realsies) who regularly use and love Blue Apron,* but it had never been a particular priority for me. I love finding and storing recipes on Pinterest and various food blogs (my favorites are Framed Cooks and Kitchen Trial and Error) and I never felt like cooking, planning a menu, or shopping were holding me back and/or tedious. BUT I had a friend give me a code for a free box, so heck yeah I'm going to try it for free. 

I apologize in advance for these pictures. My phone camera is terrible, and the lighting in my kitchen is even worse.

I was immediately smitten with the packaging. Everything is ADORABLE. I love the labels. I mean, you hardly need to label parsley, but I don't care! I love that it's labelled anyway! 

Overexposed and poorly framed!

The linguine was fresh (aka not dried) which immediately piqued my interest and factored heavily into why I chose this dish (out of the 3 in the box) to start with. I love me some real pasta. I mean, let's be real, I love me some crappy cheap dry pasta too. But fresh well-made pasta? On another level.

Also! Each meal comes with a sack of "knick knacks," eg The Stuff You Only Need A Few Teaspoons or Tablespoons Of. I have a well-stocked kitchen for the most part, so most of these were not *strictly* necessary for me (aside from the chicken demi-glace, which I definitely did not have on hand!) but I continued to love the organization and cuteness inherent in small packaging of things.

blurrier and blurrier!

I was expecting the meal to be either a little boring / bland, since it was catering to people who often profess not to like (or want) to cook, OR to have way more steps and be more complicated than I care to take on during a weekday night.

I was pleasantly surprised to find it right in the middle: I would not, for example, recommend this for my dad, who would be overwhelmed by the number of steps and relative complexity of the instructions; on the other hand, this was completely pulled together in 30 minutes and the instructions could not have been more clear.

O lighting, why do I hate you so?
The finished product: Chicken Piccata. Chris positively RAVED about it - the noodles were delicious; the chicken was uber-tasty; you name it, he liked it.

I'd read some reviews complaining that the serving sizes were not large enough for 2 adults who, uh, enjoy eating. I would DEFINITELY put Chris in that category (I regularly cook dinner with serving size = 4, and end up with a scant 1/2 serving left over for lunch the next day) but we both agreed this was PLENTY of food for the two of us.

Still to come from this box are Arepas de Carne Molida and Salmon Burgers with Arugula & Potato Salad, both of which claim to have the same ~30 minute prep time. We shall see. But so far, we are impressed, Blue Apron.

(I appear to have not cancelled next week's delivery in time, which means we are now getting three NEW meals again next week. I am never going shopping again, apparently!)

*(I assume you all know this, but I was in no way compensated by Blue Apron, I got the free box from my friend's code, who also was not compensated, blah blah blah)


In completely unrelated news, I have a hair appointment this afternoon after work. For the first time in AGES I am completely uninterested in going my normal route (keep up the red; reshape the mop) and want to go dramatically different. I'm just not sure HOW quite yet. I have virtually no pictures that show the basic style now because it's thrown into a pony or braid of some sort 99% of the time. Here's the general length:

Color isn't far off from that - it's due for a touch up, so normally I'd end up with a brighter/deeper version of that red after an appointment.

BUT. I want to CHANGE! Something exciting! Maybe cut it all off? Go with an entirely new color? Purple highlights? ALL OF THE ABOVE??

About the shortest my hair has been in the last decade was this haircut from 2008, which I like (although am not sure I have the energy to maintain):

My hair stylist is thinking long bob, which I could get behind. I can't wait to leave today and go TRANSFOORRRRRRRMMM!

June 09, 2015

Tik Tok

This morning, at 6:45am, I was foam rolling my hamstrings to prepare for my workout with my friend and trainer, Tamara. I noticed a small scab on the side of my knee that looked like it was about to fall off, and picked at it absently, wondering what it was from (and assuming it was a fairly standard accidental cat-claw puncture from an overzealous kneading session).

I kept scraping at it, and it wouldn't pop off. Which was weird, because it was already mostly unattached to my skin - just it was seemingly SUPER ATTACHED at one end.

I finally turned my full attention to it, because if a wee 2mm scab is only attached by one microscopic section to your skin, normally it just comes right off, you know? But after some (surprisingly firm) tugging, the scab came off.

....which is when I realized it was a tick.


Now, having spent my childhood at Farm School, I'm more than a little familiar with ticks. I used to find them on me all the time (and casually brush them off if I did!), and my mom used to have both my sister and I sit on the floor every night while she picked through our hair looking for stowaways on our scalps.

Yet in all the years I was there, and despite all of the ticks I or my mom found on me... none had ever actually bitten me. At least that I was aware of.

And here I am, living in the ostensibly not-very-ticky suburbs right outside of a major city, and I have this fucker latched onto my leg.

I know exactly where he found me, too. Saturday night was Chris's 15 year highschool reunion, which was held at the fairly awe-inspiring campus of their private school, right in the middle of Cleveland Park. The school is on a ton of land and surrounded by wooded paths, which we were exploring. Here is the view of the back of the school from the woods:

As we exited the woods into the long grass in the foreground, I turned to my friend (whose photo I stole here) and announced, probably more dramatically than was strictly necessary, that this was "totally Tick City."

I was assured the grass was too short for that to be true. But guys, I went to Farm School. I know my tick infested areas.

I just wish I wasn't proven right quite THIS way.

After I pulled Ticky McParasite off this morning, I examined him under a light to confirm my diagnosis ("tick") and commented, "at least it was just a dog tick and not a deer tick!" right before washing that fucker down the drain.

....but then I started thinking about it. It was about the size of a small dog tick, like maybe the size of a black sesame seed. Which would be a small dog tick BEFORE feeding. This one was nearly translucent in parts because it was so full of my stupid tasty blood. Which means? Much, MUCH more likely that this was a deer tick, aka Bringer Of Lyme, that had been happily chowing down on my lifeblood for the past few days. Awesome.

(Also I think that means that Grossface McShitTick is probably also female. Whatever.)

So! Next stop was to google "What Do You Do After Being Bitten By A Deer Tick?" since despite my childhood, this had never actually happened.

I learned that the chances of Lyme are slim in general, although obviously higher here in the Mid-Atlantic region. But most interestingly, that it's nearly impossible to contract unless the tick has been feeding for 36 hours or more. And that ticks are often hanging out on your body, casing the joint (I assume), for up to 24 hours before digging in.

Exposure: Saturday night, 7pm ish.
Probable time I became a victim to a vampire parasite: Sunday night
Approx # of hours between bite and location/murder of tick: 36

So. That's reassuring in that it is NOT AT ALL REASSURING. Stay tuned for the thrilling updates on my obsessive checks to see if the EM bullseye pattern emerges on my leg!

(Also, I apologize for anyone who is now compulsively scratching the shit out of themselves, feeling as if ticks are crawling all over you, exactly like I am now doing.)

June 05, 2015

Hey! I'm already ready to complain about the appliances!

Well, not the appliances themselves. But the inspection process, which I did not know was a part of getting new appliances until this week.

So last Friday, the delivery guys showed up with our appliances and set about installing them. It all went very quickly and smoothly (from my end anyway) and when they finished, they asked me to sign off on everything being installed correctly & functioning properly, but oh PS, we can't actually hook up the oven because you need a special plumber for that due to the gas line.

I told them I was not going to sign off on an installed & functioning oven considering it was neither hooked up nor working, but they kind of shrugged and said there was no other option, and don't worry, a plumber would come "later" and finish the hook up.

Me: Later today?
Guys: Oh yes. Definitely. Should be.
Me: Um. Do you have a number I can call for this plumber?
Guys: No. He'll call before he gets here though. Don't worry.
Me: ::worries::

However, they were right, and about an hour later a plumber calls and says he's downstairs, can I let him in and he'll hook up the stove? So I do; he does; everything works; I write a happy blog post about my new appliances.

Fast forward to Monday afternoon, when I get a call from an unknown number. The woman says she's from the installation company, and wanted to check if everything was installed properly (yes!) and I was happy with them (yes!) and when would I like to schedule my inspection with the county (...what)?

We already knew our county requires a (pretty expensive) permit to install anything on the gas line of your house, because we had to pay for that when we bought the appliances. No one had mentioned that we also had to get a county inspector out to the house after the fact as well.

Lady on the phone: Do you have the permit?
Me: Yes. Well, not like physically. But we paid for it at Home Depot.
Lady: My guys didn't leave it with you?
Me: Uh, no. They only left a copy of the sign off sheet.
Lady: Oh. They should have. You need that. I'll mail it to you.
Me: Oh. Thanks?

Then: when would I like to schedule the inspection from the county? I could pick any time Monday through Friday between 9 and 5. Convenient for anyone who works!

I picked Friday and hoped my boss would be cool with me working from home AGAIN. I asked the woman what the next steps were - how do I confirm the appointment? When would I get a window narrower than "sometime Friday"? I was told the county would call me on Friday to confirm and to narrow down the window.

So today I have been working from my dining room table (which, incidentally, is 3 feet from my front door) waiting for a call from the county. By 11, no call, so I looked up the number of the installation company and called them. They had no record of me being on the list for inspections today, and suggested I call the county directly.

So I call the county, finally get a person, give my address... and I'm told that the inspector already came at 8:59 this morning and that we failed.

Me: I have been in my condo all morning and no one has entered it. How did we fail?
County: Well, the notes just say he came at 8:59, and that you failed. You can call him directly to get more information.
Me: UH OK.

So I call the inspector, three times.... who does not answer his phone and does not have voicemail set up on his phone.

I call the county back.

Me: Hi. I am trying to get in touch with my inspector who apparently failed my gas line without entering my house and does not answer his phone.
County: Well, looking at the notes on your record... he arrived this morning, and you have a locked front door to your condo, and he had no way of contacting you or getting in so he failed you and left.

To recap: I was supposed to get a call from the county this morning confirming my inspection window; instead the guy came, found a locked door, went ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and failed us. Even though he had my number, which he was supposed to use to confirm my inspection window... but did not use, either to confirm the window or to call me when he came across the most difficult of obstacles, A DOOR.

Me: He couldn't get through a locked door, so he just left?
County: He had no other options. How was he supposed to know how to get in?
Me: OMG. Can you please just have him come back? And suggest he call me when he gets to the door?
County: I'm sorry, there is no way we can get anyone back today.
Me: It doesn't have to be that guy. But I stayed home from work today for this; I need to get the inspection done today.
County: I'm sorry, there is no way that can happen.

This convo went on for another five minutes, but the government is not particularly known for caring about customer service, so too bad! Their employees do not have enough problem solving abilities to CALL A PHONE NUMBER they were ALREADY SUPPOSED TO HAVE USED, so I will need to stay home from work YET ANOTHER DAY sometime in the future. And hope that next time I get an inspector who, upon being unable to walk through a locked door, might make the staggering mental leap of using his phone to call my phone so as to work out a solution to this perplexing door contraption.

It's now technically after noon, and since I'm already working from home despite not having our gas line inspected, I assume it means I can start drinking immediately.