Day 194: I'm Your Gerbil!...No, I mean Your Guinea Pig

On Day 194, I was the first person to take a new class at a yoga studio.

I know, I know, you're probably horribly bored of me talking about these yoga studio adventures, but it's what I'm consumed with right now. Ya heard?

I walked into the studio to meet Allen, the teacher, and instead of saying, "I can't wait to be your first guinea pig for Yoga Groove!" I said, "I'm your first gerbil!"




It ended up being just two of us in the class (building a following ain't always easy!) but it went well. Yoga Groove was supposed to be a sweaty, heart-pumping class, set to upbeat music, but ended up being kind of a more standard, slow, not-too-dynamic practice. I should say that the other woman had gotten a little hamstring strain in the middle of class, so that might have been his adjusting for the people, but I didn't get the feel that he was really a hugely flow-y guy anyway.

No pressure, we're all just different.

In any case, the most memorable part of the whole thing was that I called myself a gerbil...

Day 193: American History X

A looong time ago, during college, I sat down with some girlfriends to watch American History X. It was 11:00 at night, we may or may not have indulged in a few adult beverages, and we were watching the movie on a computer screen in one of those friends' bed. Any movie that I start after 9:00 will result in a virtually narcoleptic sleep. Taking the whole situation into play, where I was on a bed...comfy...under the influence...watching on a small computer screen with limited sound?

Out like a light.

I obviously didn't see much of the movie, and when this came up in conversation, I told Mark that I slept through it. His response to me was as if I had personally offended him. "How is it possible to sleep through American History X??? That movie is so intense. What were you doing?"

And with that, we started our lazy Sunday off with a movie.

This time, I most certainly did NOT sleep through AHX, but on the contrary was so engaged and enraged and into it, that I was glued to every word of every character, every plot twist, every flashback and every moment.

And although I want to, I almost feel like I can't talk about the movie without giving away some piece of it that might impact your viewing. Like, I enjoy coming into a movie having not heard or seen anything about it, just so that I don't have any preconceived notions of what to expect. So, for this, I'm going to leave the description of the movie empty.

I will say that it was just hugely powerful and gave me hope about the possibility for some people to change their perceptions and attitudes for the better, even when they are living on the furthest brinks of their beliefs. It also inspires me that the reform of one person can inspire the reform in many.

Although I've stared at this page for a while wanting to write more and give more away, I think you really need to watch this and judge for yourself.

Day 192: More Signs I'm a Grown-Up

Grr..I hate this post because of the title.

Anyhoo, getting on with it. Day 192, I went to my boyfriend's parent's house without my boyfriend.

See, his oldest sister has a bun in the oven and boyfriend's mom and middle sister were throwing a party for oldest sister, and since mom and middle sister threw the party at mom's house, I went to boyfriend's mom's house without boyfriend.

Complicated, eh? Okay, not really, but what else am I going to write about this??

Day 191: Splish Splash, Mago's Taking a Bath!!

Having a new puppy makes doing New Things pretty easy, and Day 191's New Thing was that I gave a puppy a bath. I grew up with two dogs, but for whatever reason, I have no recollection of ever washing them. I was there while my mom would wash them, and I'd help her out where I could, but I never actually did the wholle deed myself.

Until Day 191. Prior to washing said puppy, Mark and I went to Kroger to pick up a good puppy shampoo. There were the classic choices like Tail and Mane, but what really struck our fancy? Fur So Fresh.

Yes M'dears, this puppy shampoo, for a whopping $6.00 was literally called Fur So Fresh and contained more delicious smelling ingredients and hair promises that I bet the dog's fur enjoyed more pampering than I give my own locks. But it was the last bottle in the store, clearly indicating that it was in high demand and very worth it.


So here's what ensued:

He's getting so BIG!

Day 190: A Yoga-ing We Go...

Holy Moly Batman, am I behind or what??

The answer to that question is obviously yes, I am unbelievably behind on this blog, although believe you me, I am doing New Things up to my eyeballs. So many New Things I can't even blog about them all.

This little post is about to turn into a life update, because that's what I do. Okay, so, where to start. Ummm...yes, Thursday is where I left off. Right now, I'm diving DEEP into the Atlanta Yoga Scene thing, and I am on a month-long yoga studio binge. There are about 50 studios that I know of, and I've made it my mission to visit half of them within the next 4-6 weeks. I feel like I've gotta get out and meet the people I'm talking about all the time and to take my own medicine--trying new styles, new teachers, new classes, workshops and more. I've gotten a lot of offers for free classes all around town (this little thing is paying for itself in free classes!) and am having a ball visiting them all.

But with that comes BUSY BUSY BUSY.

I've got a boyfriend, a new puppy, a 9-5 job, Atlanta Yoga Scene stuff (website-ing, classes, calling people, oy my!), calling the insurance people (got in a teeny tiny, un-noticeable fender bender (New Thing number oh-why-are-we-counting is that I damaged the first car I ever bought by myself)) and my sanity to keep juggling, and, I'm afraid, this past week's blogging has taken a back seat.

But the New Things have not!!

On Day 190 (sweet baby Jesus, I've got 175 days left!): I went to Oni Fitness in Vinings for a free Candlelight yoga class.

I didn't necessarily love it and I wouldn't have it on my schedule if I had a yoga studio, but the Oni people were very generous in letting me come to check it out.

Funny story came from that though--I realized that explaining AYS is REALLY hard to do for people who aren't immediately familiar with blogging. I talked to this one woman, and our conversation went like this:

Me: Hi I'm Leah, I run a webiste called Atlanta Yoga Scene that's got all the teachers, classes and events going on in Atlanta, it's pretty cool.

Girl: Oh wow, so you're an editor?

Me: No, I write the content.

Girl: Wow, so you wrote Oni's website?

Me: No, it's my own website, I put it together and it's a blog for what's going on in yoga in Atlanta.

Girl: *quizzical look* What do you write about?

Me: Things happening in Atlanta yoga, you know, events, classes I like, teachers doing cool things, studios opening, that kind of stuff...

Girl: Oh *another quizzical look* why?

Me: Because I thought people might use it and like it and maybe one day, if it ever becomes profitable, I could do it full time.

Girl: Ah, I get it, you teach yoga in Atlanta!!

Me: *face palm* I...tell...people...what'!!

*fume a little*

*recognize I'm fuming*

*deep cleansing, yogic breaths*

I don't think she joined my Facebook group.

It's time to clean up the pitch a little...

Day 189: New Medium Art

As I said a long time ago when I learned how to make a paper crane at work, I regaled to you the woes of working in a boutique business advisory and marketing firm; it's feast or famine. When we're busy, we're slammed, and I'm writing white papers, meeting clients, presenting research findings, constantly on the phone arranging conversations with CEOs and reporters. It's bliss.

When we're light, we're REALLY light, I can go for days without anything but busy, administrative work. Then, I start feeling very anxious and unhappy. It's a cycle, and one that I can't say I've gotten 100% used to yet.

Yesterday, while in a starkly light period, I found myself making art in Excel. Yes, you read that right. I filled cells with color until I made a beautiful flower!!!

Day 188: Pooper Scooper

I hope my property manager isn't reading this. So, I live in an apartment that allows pets and has lots of green area for them to roam around in. They're also really helpful in that they have conveniently, strategically placed poop bags and trash cans around particularly appealing poo areas.

Now, being a new puppy owner, I still think scooping poop is gross. I'm sorry. Especially when it's warm. So, I haven't been especially diligent about scooping Mago's poo outside.

Frankly, I have had to pick up PLENTY of it inside the apartment, so the thought of scooping up every poo, even the, um, less-than-hard ones, is less than appealing. But on Day 188, after noticing how much poo is not scooped around the apartment complex, and how annoying this must be for the landscapers and property managers, I decided it was time to scoop Mago's poo.

Now, I am a pooper scooper.

No pictures necessary.

Day 187: Throw Away Your Television

Please tell me you caught the reference in the title? Red Hot Chilli Peppers? Best bass line in the world? I hope so. If you didn't, we're no longer friends. Sorry.

So on Day 187, Mark and I turned off our cable box.

Okay, so this story may sound fantastical and out-there, but, a couple days back, I got a text from Mark asking if I'd ever consider getting rid of our cable. I've kind of always been in favor of this because I watch most all of the TV shows I'm interested in on the internet anyway, but to hear it from a boy (ESPN is on cable, dude) was really unexpected.

We talked later and Mark's point was that it seems archaic to spend $1200 on cable in a year, when we can watch almost every TV show online either for free or for a couple dollars on either iTunes or the Amazon store. And, if you get Netflix, you can get as many movies and TV series as your little heart can handle for only $20 a month. Why hasn't everyone opted for this route??

It seems like a logical case, until you think about your typical Saturday morning behavior. You've just rolled out of bed, you may have a small hangover, you've got nothing to do until lunch, what would you rather fill your time with: reading a book? Get a life. Opening Netflix to watch a movie? Maybe, if you're really motivated. Turn on basic cable? What, to watch local news and PBS cartoons?? Or watch trashy Bravo reality shows (or sports highlights, if you're a boy)? Yesss...sweet mindless relaxation.

Such first-world problems we suffer.

Anyhoo, we decided that we'd turn the cable box off for a little and see what happened. See if we really missed watching Jersey Shore when everyone else does, knowing that we're one step behind the rest of the J. Shore population. Or finding out the winner to Top Chef All Stars before we saw the last show.

Last night we opted for the Daria DVD, which was easy and not too much of a sacrifice. I've gone plenty of days without cable, but it is harder when you know you can't have it. It gets forbidden fruit syndrome.

By the end of the week, I hope we don't miss it at all, because I want my $1200 to spend on other things, like vacationing on a Caribbean beach. Now that's my kind of mindless relaxation anyway.

Day 186: You Can Fry Anything!

On Day 186, I went to my friends Tasha and Brian's house for dinner, where we were going to have a classic beer and bratwursts kind of get together. Prior to making the brats, Tasha made some home-made jalapeno poppers, that she made in a little fry machine. The little machine was still on about the time that Brian was putting the brats on the grill, and, since we had a bonus brat, he stuck that in the fryer, making Day 186's New Thing that I had what I think are my first jalapeno poppers and my first fried brat.

Exciting? Not terribly.

Delicious? Indeed.

The fried brat was a little extra crispy on the outside and a little extra greasy in the middle, so I see why some people might make a habit out of it. I have heard of fried hot dogs before, so there's nothing too terribly different about a fried bratwurst.

P.S. I struggled really hard to find a picture of a bratwurst that I wanted to put up, but they're all a little repulsive. This was what I came up with :)

Day 185: ZUMBA!

There is a fantastic little store I frequent down in the Virginia Highlands called Atlanta Activewear. The super-sweet sisters who run the store stock some of the cutest athletic gear for all sorts of sweaty enthusiasts and hold run clubs, free yoga classes on the weekends and more. It's just a workout paradise.

When Atlanta Yoga Scene was just an idea, I went to Atlanta Activewear for one of their free yoga classes. There, I talked to Danielle about the whole idea and she basically gave me a "JUST DO IT!" response to the whole thing, and from there we've supported each other's businesses ever since. I try to promote her store as much as possible, and try to make it to her yoga class every couple of weeks.

Only, this week was NOT yoga, this week was ZUMBA. And thank the Lord for Zumba!

Zumba is a follow-the-leader fitness dance craze. I'm not one for fads, but this one is just so much fun. You follow simple, repetitive dance moves to upbeat latin music and shimmy shake, salsa and boogie the calories away. The teacher said that you can burn up to 1000 calories per class, and although I don't believe that it burns that many, I do believe you can undo the effect of a couple of Snicker's bars.

Cheesing up front!
I took my place in the front of the pack (mostly because no one else wanted to move forward, and secondly because 16 years of dance training makes me feel pretty good about that spot), and from the very start, I was smiling so big and dancing so hard that I'm sure I looked like a five year old fan girl who learned all the moves to her favorite B. Spears music video. I think, even though I'm not SYTYCD material, I am definitely a dancer at heart. I just hadn't had that much fun in a long freaking time.

I can't very well describe what happened, except that the teacher was just as upbeat and exciting and fabulous as they come, and she showed us exactly how to rock our little bods *just so* to feel like we were actually sexy little Latin dancers, while burning up the calories. Just trust me that you need to try it. And how. 

My only qualm with Zumba is that it is a fad. Some of the reason that I do yoga is that I'm pretty sure it's not going out of style anytime soon, I mean, it has been around for some 5,000 years already. Zumba probably won't be around for too much longer, which is sad, but understandable. If Zumba were a life-long exercise, constantly evolving with new songs and moves, I'm pretty sure I'd Zumba until I couldn't Zumba anymore.

Day 184: Peep Sushi

Really, the title says it all. I saw a picture of sushi made out of peeps, rice krispies and fruit roll ups, so I made it myself.

Day 183: A Not-So-Random Act of Kindness

One of my New Thing hopefuls this year was to pay the toll for the person behind me. We only have one real toll road in Atlanta and I hardly ever drive it, due mostly to the fact that the roads I travel most typically avoid the toll, and I think my GPS defaults to avoiding tolls. On Day 183, I had been invited to be a guest at a yoga class at Kashi Urban Yoga Ashram in downtown Atlanta, giving me a perfectly legitimate reason to drive this toll road and complete this New Thing.

I got to the booth, gave the booth attendant a dollar and said "...get the car behind me too."

I drove off a little slower than necessary to try to get an inkling of surprise in the car behind me. While I can't be exactly sure of what happened, I'm pretty sure I saw the guy in the car pay his 50 cents and not be corrected by the booth attendant.

Ho hum.

Maybe Karma is paying attention?

For some reason, I agreed to go to a 6:00 class, despite the fact that working in Roswell means my commute would be 25 miles (and 40 minutes without traffic), through a toll booth and into, undoubtedly, some of the worst gridlock in America. Needless to say, I didn't make it on time, and had to drive my car back through the toll on the other side.

Life is just like that some days...

Day 182: "Girl Doing New Things Picks Perfect Bracket!"

On Day 182, I filled out an basketball bracket. I predict that I will be the only person this year to have guessed it correctly and I'll be stopping by Good Morning America in a couple of weeks to tell people how to be better guessers. The title of my segment will be, "Girl Doing New Things Picks Perfect Bracket!"

How do you think I picked??

Day 181: Juice Cleanse, Day Two

Juice Cleanse Day Two went an awful lot like juice cleanse Day One. I drank juice and water, didn't eat food, and generally felt pretty good throughout the day. I'm still disappointed at how easy this was.

By "easy" I mean easy-in-all-ways-except-drinking-the-juice. One of the last cups of juice I had was really pulpy, and, combined with the sourness of the whole thing, kinda made me feel like I was drinking vomit. Needless to say, I didn't make it very far through the second gallon.

Did I want to eat food? Yes, of course. But there wasn't much need to do it because I was full on juice, feeling good and committed to goal.

The end of the day was pretty hard because I was starting to feel irritable and pretty tired, but I don't even know if those things were related to the cleanse. Sometimes I'm just irritable, especially when the puppy was dragging me around, acting up, and pooping in the apartment. I also wake up at 6:30 AM, so staying up past 10:30 generally makes me tired.

Otherwise, when I woke up on Day 182 (the day after the cleanse), I felt really, really good, as if I had been eating well for a couple of days and drinking lots of water. That was really the purpose of the cleanse after all, detoxify and rejuvenate. I don't think my hair was shinier, or my skin brighter. My pants fit the same and I didn't lose any noticeable weight, but I did feel rejuvenated. So much so that I'd actually do this again. Like, make a ritual out of it.

This isn't a great, dramatic, horrifying story that makes great blog fodder, but it was a good learning experience! I would recommend it for anyone needing a pick-me-up after the holiday season, after vacations, after bouts of bad eating, as the seasons change.

Honestly, I'm all into this cleansing thing :)

Day 180: Juice Cleanse, Day One

Day 180 was the first day of my juice cleanse, and I'm really disappointed by the results. Mostly because I think it's going TOO well. I was hoping for drama, pain, suffering, failure, and all the other things that make blog posts great.

I thought the hardest part would be not eating breakfast on the first day. I'm a big advocate of eating breakfast, and I tend not to function very well without it, but surprisingly, after 8 ounces of juice for, I actually wasn't very hungry. I also wasn't horribly tempted to get any Cheerios or toast to supplement my juice either.

I figured the hunger, headache and bitchiness would set in around 11:00 AM while at work, but truthfully, it didn't.

I brought a huge Big-Gulp-sized plastic cup to work, full of my juice, pretty sure I would drink all of it before lunch and be caught crouched in a corner eating the whole two-pound bag of pretzels, covered in saliva and crumbs. But, since the juice is really sour, I didn't drink it that quickly, meaning there was a lot of it there whenever I started to feel hungry. Then, I would take a sip of the juice, which filled me up and kind of killed my appetite.

Frankly, I was almost hoping that this would be harder than it is! I'm really not having any problems, except for the fact that I want to chew something. And that's even easily remedied by gum!

...I wonder if I just killed my metabolism for a day?

Day 179: Arden's Garden Two-Day Detox

[Check out how it went! Day 1 here, Day 2 here]

One of the "New Things I have to do this year" was a cleanse. I have always wanted to attempt cleaning out my intestines and also wanted to know what it might feel like to be "cleansed." Will my hair be shinier? Skin smoother? Excess weight gone? Will I be rejuvenated? I didn't know...and therefore, I must cleanse.

I felt this particular week of the year was well-timed for a cleanse. I have just gotten back from Portland where I consumed way too much bad-for-me food, I had just run a 10K, so I didn't need the extra calories, and my yoga class card ended, meaning I won't need energy for that. This was the opportunity to clear out the belly and "purify" or "detoxify" or "whatever-ify" my body.

I found a place close to my apartment that has called Arden's Garden, which is a fresh juice store with a couple of cleanse programs. They've got all sorts of juicy concoctions that range from delicious sounding (apple!) to retch-inducing (wheat grass).

They've got two kinds of cleanses, a two-day and a three-day. The two day involves drinking two gallons of one kind of juice over the course of two days.

Benefits: two days only, Downfall: Same freaking juice for 48 hours.

The three-day requires you to eat raw for one day, have a variety of juices over three days, and eat raw after the cleanse too--which sounds an awful lot like five days to me.

Benefits: Different types of juices, Downfall: That's a long freaking time to think about juice.

So I opted for the two-day. I can do anything for two days. With that decision, I bought two gallons of grapefruit/orange/lemon juice from Arden's Garden.

Want to cleanse with me? Here's the recipe, from their website!

What You Will Need For The Two Days:

48 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
32 oz. fresh orange juice
16 oz. fresh lemon juice
160 oz. quality steam-distilled water
Empty 1 gal. jug for mixing
Funnel (optional)

What To Do:

Mix together for each gallon:

24 oz. fresh grapefruit juice,
16 oz. fresh orange juice,
8 oz. fresh lemon juice and
80 oz. distilled water
- the detox mixture -
Drink 8 oz. every hour -til the total 128 oz. have been consumed- and that's it! No food.

Day 178: This is mostly a post to show off my cute puppy...

Day 178 was nothing short of BEAUTIFUL. And I mean, first-day-of-Spring, break-out-the-sundresses beautiful. Mark and I decided that we'd want to go eat outside somewhere, and we wanted to bring Mago along. It just so happens that there is a great little restaurant just across Roswell Rd. from my apartment called Nancy G's that has a puppy patio, complete with a menu for people and puppies. Instead of driving over to the restaurant that was no more than a half a mile away (SUCH a beautiful day) we decided to walk, making day 178 the first time I walked along Roswell Road as well as the first time I dined on a puppy patio.
Hanging out with mom
Basking in the sun!
Later, Mago met George, Mark's 150-pound golden retriever. Mago has no idea how small he is and George has no idea how big he is, so they got along swimmingly.

Day 177: Making Lunch

Now that we have Mago, Mark comes back to our apartment for his lunch break to take him out and hang out with him.

Mark told me on Thursday that he wasn't eating lunch when he came home, and I thought that was perfectly unacceptable. I'm big on eating three meals a day, I don't understand how people don't eat breakfast, and I eat a lot of fruit and veggies, joyously. I'm a health nut, I guess. I expect everyone to be the same.

So instead of let the dog dictate that Mark wouldn't eat, I made sure that the dog dictated that he did, meaning I made Mark lunch and made sure Mago was a participant. Mago and I made Mark a sandwich and gave him an apple as a side dish and girl scout cookies as dessert (Mago picked out the girl scout cookies!). Then, Mago wrote Mark a note that said, "I am so happy you come home and play with me on your lunch break, so I made you lunch to say "Thanks!"

Now I have a good puppy and a healthy boyfriend.

Day 176: Fortune Cookie Lottery

On Day 176, I finally learned how to play the lottery after failing at it a couple (or four) times on Wednesday. Then I played my fortune cookie numbers. And I didn't win a dime. Not so fortunate after all ;)

Day 175: Drinking a Shorty

On Day 175, I went to 5 Seasons Brewery to have a couple drinks and hang out with my friends Tasha and Brian. For some reason, I was especially, um, thirsty? (eager to drown my sorrows?) and was drinking my adult beverages a little more quickly than the others. I had finished two beers in ravenous display, while the others at the table were only halfway through their second roung. The server came up to me to see if I wanted another, to which I said, mostly jokingly, "If you have a half-sy, I'd do it, but otherwise, I'm fine."

Didn't expect him to ACTUALLY have a half-sy, which, by the way, is called a "shorty." Who knew such a thing existed? Not I, until I learned what a shorty was and, unable to back out of the proposition, I drank one.

Day 174: Not Lovin' the Lottery

If you've read my "About my Project" page, you'll see on there that one of the first New Thing ideas I had was to play the lottery numbers on the back of a fortune cookie's fortune. I finally got around to having Chinese food (can't believe it's been almost 6 months without Chinese food!) and got a hold of my magic numbers.

After work on Day 174, I went to a nearby Chevron station to put my numbers to the test on a Fantasy 5 lotto ticket. There were six numbers on the fortune cookie, but I decided that I'd just use the first five and see what happened. They should all be lucky, right?

Well, I realized upon walking into the gas station that I had no idea even how to buy the type of lottery ticket where you pick numbers. Logically, I went up to the counter (following the flashy lotto tickets, signs and posters) and handed them my fortune to get me a ticket with those numbers.

They looked at me like I was an alien from outer space.

In some semblance of broken English, they pointed me to a kiosk for people like me who are difficult bet on lucky numbers instead of just going with the random pick. That little kiosk was the most confusing place I have ever been in my life, and I think they make it that way as psychological punishment. There are approximately 50 different lotteries going on in one booth, and little scantron sheets that may or may not match up to whichever one you want to play. And it's nowhere near a person who could help you understand it.

I somehow devised which one was the Fantasy Five. It had I guess 10 boxes, each filled with numbers 1-30, Using my fortune as a guide, I filled out one number in each box.

I went back up to the counter and the lady ran the sheet a couple of times, noticeably having problems with the thing. Her co-worker came over and relayed to me that one box was one set of picks, so instead of filling out one number in each box, I needed to fill out all of my numbers in one box.

Confusing, I know.

So at last, I got back to the kiosk and started filling out one box with all my numbers. I went back up, gave her my sheet, and had actually filled out SIX numbers (all of them on the fortune cookie) instead of five.

The whole situation got embarrassing. Seriously. I am a 20-something, college-educated woman who, by the way, was excellent at filling out scantron bubbles during my educational career. High-school dropouts and the senile elderly people play the lottery all the time. And I can't seem to get this right. Blech.

I headed BACK to the kiosk, filled out yet ANOTHER sheet, using only my five numbers and submitted it to the cashier. She handed me a great little slip of paper with my numbers on it, and asked me for a dollar. I gladly presented my favorite piece of plastic, and she said "Cash Only."

Good. Lord. Almighty. This was not meant to be.

I never carry cash, for any reason ever. Literally. Unless I'm parking downtown.

So I didn't buy the lotto ticket after all. But I did succeed in failing to buy a lottery ticket four times in one day! That's probably a first in the history of humanity. Go me!

Day 173: "Leah, You Look Like Cousin Itt"

I go to yoga straight from work most days, meaning I have to carry my yoga clothes in my car. What I fail to remember pretty much, oh, every day of the week, without fail, is a hair tie. It's a running joke now that every time I go into the studio, I need a hair tie. You would think that I would learn at some point, but alas, I haven't.

On Day 173, I was feeling really guilty about taking YET ANOTHER hair tie. Instead of asking and subjecting myself to the laughs, I didn't put my hair up into a ponytail. Then it struck me that that was aNew Thing, right? Yoga class with my hair down!

Well, no later than 10 minutes into the class I was drowning in my own hair, which, in all of its thickness and length was just impossible to keep out of my face for even a minute. This didn't escape anyone's attention, so, Urusla, my yoga teacher says, "Leah, darling, you look like Cousin Itt, would you like for me to get you a hair tie?"

And I, more embarrassed than had I asked for the rubber band before class, said yes.

Lesson: stock the car with hair ties, and never go to class without one again.

Day 172: Mago

On Day 172, Mark and I adopted a puppy. He is a "bulldog mix" which we think may mean a "Bea-Bull" or a beagle-bulldog mix. His name is Mago, named after one of Mark's favorite authors, Jose Saramago. We adopted him from the Atlanta Humane Society, a place I recommend highly.

No need to tell the story, I'll just make you jealous with pictures!!

The sweet face that runs up to me when I get home!
His eye color is especially pretty!!
After lots of playtime, he's conked out!!

Day 171: Chattahoochee Road Runners 10K: The Finale! ***UPDATED***

Well you've seen me through it all...when I started training for the 10K, when I was too sick to run, when I finally put some gusto back into my training, when I was set back with a near-puking experience, and when I triumphed around Chastain Park. It's been a not-so-solid ride with this training, having been broken up by TWO trips as well as a bout of illness.

But the 10K came, in due time, and I finally got the chance to strut my stuff.

Mark and I woke up on Saturday for the 10K, only to find that there was a steady stream of rain just going at it outside. Checked the weather--no chance of it letting up all day.

But the rain couldn't deter me, I was so jazzed up to get this thing out of the way. I've put off a lot of what I've needed to do for Atlanta Yoga Scene, my yoga practice in general, and this blog aside to get myself in running shape, and by god, I just wanted it to be over with.

Must have a sense of humor about oneself running!
Please click on it to make it bigger...haha
Plus, I had a REALLY good run a couple days before the race, and I was thinking I'd champion this thing and surprise myself by running the whole way.

So Mark and I drove to the race, parked and hung out in his car near the check-in and start line, to avoid going into the cold rain.  Mark was generally peeved about the lost sleep getting up for this thing, dreading the upcoming wet socks and cold appendages, and annoyed by my excitement.  Me, I was giddy as a freaking three year old about to go on an excellent adventure through the Hershey's factory or something.

I also want to interject that I was excited because I thought that I had a fighting chance at beating Mark in the race. I had beat him in the Peachtree 10K last year, and he hadn't trained as hard as I had for this race, so I was CERTAIN that I had a chance. He's an athletic guy, but I'm determined, dammit.

We eventually succumbed to the fact that we were going to get wet and the rain would continue, and waiting in the car was delaying the inevitable, so we went out to the starting line.

After a little playful "I'll be waiting for you at the finish line" banter, the shot was fired and we were off!

I started my slow and steady pace, feeling great, but noticed a lot of people running past me. I thought it was one of those everyone-starts-too-fast-and-walks-later kinds of things, but after two miles, I was the last of the last and NO ONE was walking. AT ALL. And in fact, I only ever saw a handful of people walking the whole being a shameful participant towards the end.

Now, a history: when I ran the Peachtree last year, I was about middle of the pack, but that's because the pack was (literally) 60,000 people, and more than a couple who hadn't trained for the race. I was expecting something similar. I knew that the people running the CRR had trained some, but I had too! Thus my surprise when everyone, and I mean EVERYONE ran clear past my 10:00 mile pace within the first couple of miles.

The psychological warfare waged by this fact was brutal. I'm a 23 year old girl with no more juice in the tank than a 60-something year old man.


Drowned, near dead rat.
I ran as well as I could, I guess, but was defeated again when I had to stop at mile four. Although I was semi-proud of that four miles, the fact that I had to stop really took a toll. I knew that I had only ever really pushed myself to four miles, but I'd always felt really good after those four miles, as if I could have taken another mile without an issue. And they always say that you run better in a race than in training.

I had relied on voodoo luck to make it.

Bollocks. My fault.

I trudged through the rest of the race, embarrassed, unhappy, tired and aware that I'll probably not make it to half-marathon status this year. Or ever.

I ended up at the finish line at 1:03 something at the VERY bottom-most part of the Mark cheering me on with "I MADE IT IN 55!!!!"

While I was genuinely excited for my wonderful, loving boyfriend, my inner jealous, competitive self was like "RUB IT IN WHY DON'T YOU?!"

Anyhoo, since Mark was waiting with his dad, I put on a happy face and did the "yay, I feel great!" routine, but after Mark's dad made a comment about the winner's time of 38:00 being slow, I decided that I'm done with running. I'm last in my age group and damn near last in the race.

Okay, okay, so my last time was 1:10, meaning I took a minute per mile off my time, so I should be happy about that. Mostly, however, I feel like a loser. But I did run a 10K in the rain.

Day 170: Paella En Espanol

Day 170 was carbo-loading day for the Chattahoochee Road Runners 10K. I know it's probably really unnecessary to carbo-load for a 10K, but it makes me feel more like a runner, so I do it anyway. I found that one day after Mark had made paella for dinner, I had a really good run, so I suggested that we do it again before the 10K.

Superstitious? Maybe.

Excuse to have paella? Definitely.

So instead of just HAVING paella, I needed to LEARN about paella in Spanish.

Why? Because I do New Things, dammit.

So yes, you put your pollo (chicken) and chorizo (chorizo) in a sarten de hierro fundido (cast iron skillet), with a little bit of aceite de olive. After that cooks up a little bit, you add pimientons  (bell peppers), cebolla (onions), cebolleta (scallions) and cebollino (chives).  Add a little tomillo (thyme), ajo (garlic) and sal y pimiento (salt and pepper) to taste. Let that cook and get happy. Add your arroz (rice) with azafran (saffron) and cover with a layer of de caldo de pollo (chicken stock). Place camarones on top and cover with lamina de aluminio (aluminum foil). Garnish with cal (lime).

Now I know every noun in the dish paella in Spanish.

Day 169: Advance Copy

Before I left for Portland, my long-time friend and darling, dedicated reader (and sometimes more enthusiastic-than-myself New Thing idea generator) Courtney Cobb sent me a fun text message "Have you ever read an advance copy of a book?"

Well slap me silly. I had never even thought of it!

Courtney has been working part time at Barnes & Noble for most of her stint in college and has access to beaucoup books. So she gratefully sent over the book "Tales from the Yoga Studio," a little beach read novel that is crazy appropriate for me.

It's a novel about four L.A. yoga students, an actress, a dancer, a screen writer, and an ex-druggie who all find a tone body and peace of mind at Lee's Edendale Yoga studio. The studio falls on hard times, right when a major yoga studio chain comes in to take Lee's talent and use it in their repertoire. It could mean big bucks for Lee, but will she risk letting go of her friend family??

There's my less-than-stellar back cover summary, but you get the gist.

It was a classic girlfriends-make-it-through-hard-times together story, and I'm a sucker. Chick lit? Bring it on.

So yes, now I have read an advance copy of a book! It's now available for purchase on Amazon, so now that I've whetted your appetite, get it :)

Day 168: Oobleck

Somewhere in my internet surfing at work one day, I found an article about oobleck--a substance that is neither liquid nor solid, and something that Dr. Seuss turned into a character in one of his books. With Dr. Seuss in mind and a childish obsession with science projects I decided to try my hand at making oobleck!

Oobleck two parts cornstarch to one part water, which forms this pancake batter-smelling, silly putty-meets-glue-feeling concoction. Being that it's neither liquid nor solid, you can pick up pieces of it and roll it into a ball, but it subsequently oozes out into a liquid once you stop applying pressure to it. If it drops onto a hard surface, it will ooze, but you can pick up the ooze as a solid. When you try to throw it, it turns into a liqud.

I don't understand why no one let me play with this stuff as a kid!!! It's totally not harmful, wouldn't hurt a kid if they accidentally consumed it, it cleans up like a dream (just add water and it's not oobleck anymore!), and is SO MUCH FUN. Mark and I played with the oobleck for way longer than was probably appropriate for adult members of society, but it was worth it.

P.S. I filmed this video with one hand and played with oobleck in the other, so it's not the best representation, but you'll get the gist. Now go make it for yourself and play! 

And, for those who are REALLY interested in oobleck, you should check out these videos where people walk on oobleck and where oobleck dances on a speaker.

Day 167: All the Way Around!

On day 167, I finally ran all the way around 3-mile, winding, hilly Chastain Park, no stopping!

This in and of itself sounds pretty good compared to my last attempt at running around this park, but what makes it better is that I had taken a four-hour red eye flight from Portland to Atlanta that morning, slept for about two of those hours, got into Atlanta at 6:00 AM, WENT TO WORK, and came home and ran the best I ever have.

Oh, and that I hadn't run in the four-ish days I had been in Portland, and had turned my bloodstream into beer and doughnut superhighway. 

(NOTE: This is also impressive behavior post-overnight flight if you remember after my San Diego red eye, that I slept from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM.)

But yes, the run was simply fantastic. I got up the winding hill no problem, as if I had blown the hill up in my mind to be way more of what it ever was. The long straightaway that I almost puked on last time was just a breeze, and I rounded the corner, ready for the next hilly climb with plenty of juice left in the tank. When I got to my car, I even thought that I should just keep running because I felt so good. I didn't keep going because all the race training guides say to take it easy the week of the race, but now, 6 days in retrospect, I wish I had seen how far I was capable of.

I'll see on my next run :)

Day 166: Food Truck Foodies and a Note on Beer

Day 166 was the day Mark and I were leaving Portland, but I should clarify that we managed a whole day in between waking up and peacing out. Our flight was at 11:00 PM (arriving in Atlanta at 6:00 AM Tuesday), so, like we are prone to do, we hit the ground running to enjoy the city with all the time we had left.

Another particularly "foodie" experience I wanted to have in Portland was to visit their food truck scene. They've got a whole "food truck district" kind of area that's unique to the city. After seeing TV shows about food trucks and hearing that people are finally bringing 'street food' to the States, I thought it would be a great thing to try--especially in an area that's already hot on the trend.

But it was raining in Portland (again...they warned us about this!) so instead of really enjoying walking around the food truck area, seeing all that was available, trying lots of treats, we bum-rushed a Cuban place on 10th and Alder for fried plantains and a Cuban sandwich.

They were perfectly and wonderfully delicious, but freaking expensive! $7.00 for a sandwich? Out of a truck?


Plus, being cold and wet rendered sitting outside impossible, and kind of ruined my whole food truck experience. We ended up eating our food on the trolly to the Bridgeport brewpub, which, as I said, wasn't bad, it just didn't make the experience everything I had dreamed of and more.

What the food truck area would have looked like if it weren't rainy and gray when we went. These rows of trucks go on around a couple of city blocks and surround the perimeter of a parking lot

I have to add, that I feel like I neglected the whole new beer story around Portland. Outside of really wanting to eat at Voodoo Doughnuts, we also went up to Portland for the beer. Portland isn't much of a "party party" town like Vegas or New Orleans where liquor flows for $10 an ounce and strangers become lovers, but is a chill, cheap party (beer for under $3.00 everywhere!) that you'd have with close friends at your favorite bar.

We had thought before going that many of the breweries were in Portland, but for the most part, they're in outlying communities about an hour out from the city. Instead, we hit up brewpubs (Hair of the Dog, Rogue, Lucky Lab, Bridgeport, Widmer's, Full Sail and all...) gradually over the course of the four days we were there. Something about the summation of the Portland trip is a "New Thing" (Visited breweries in Portland), but not a day-by-day New Thing experience.

Just think that every one of my Portland posts is ceteris paribus brewpub exploration time.

Day 165: City Block of Books

This day in Portland was on the rainy/drizzly/icky-to-be-outside kind of day. Not to be deterred from seeing all the things we wanted to see in the limited time we were in Portland, we headed over to Powell's City of Books.

Powell's is a book lovers dream, and, being who I am, I had to check it out. Powell's bookstore is a three-story building that covers an entire city block. All three stories are an over-stimulating, labyrinthine array of floor-to-ceiling shelves and nooks, with people in literally every aisle. It's stocked with new books, used books, former library books, old books, out-of-print books, rare books, textbooks, kid's books and in every conceivable genre.

I mean, Paradise! I could get lost in there for years. Like, I'd love to hide in a corner and be locked in overnight. Or become the resident hermit who can be spotted on occasion. People will say, "There goes hermit Leah!" as I scuffle from one side of the store to the other. This place is simply splendid.

And after hanging out for a while, we moved on to more good eating and drinking and Portlandia things.

But I may move back just for the bookstore.

Day 164: Hanging out in Beervana

I'm struggling a little with what to write here. See, when traveling, every road you walk, meal you have, person you meet, event you encounter, etc. is a New Thing. Instead of going out of my way to do New Things for the blog, I was letting the travel winds take me to New Things as they happened.

This is well and good, because the whole day was filled with adventures, but I can't quite put my finger on the one New Thing that's worth talking about more than any other. Could you accept it if I said that I spent day 163 exploring Portland?

That I ate breakfast at the Roxy, right next to a signed picture from Tim Curry and got creamer for my coffee out of a baby bottle? And I explored the Lan Su gardens in Chinatown? That I walked across the Morrison Bridge on the coldest day in 3 years? That I tasted beer that you can only find in Portland at the Hair of the Dog brewery? That I went to the number one ranked Portland restaurant on Lonely Planet (Cafe Montage) and decided it wasn't that good? That I accidentally stole a slap bracelet from a costume store? That I hung out with locals that all looked exactly like each other at the Lucky Lab? That I went to the Rogue Distillery and Brewpub where I consoled a couple about marrying each other, even though they'll likely divorce?

I don't know which one is the most blog worthy, but the culmination of all made the day exceptionally awesome and unforgettable, so I hope you accept that ever-so-slight cop out of a New Thing.

Day 163: Voodoo Freaking Doughnuts

So, as you might have been able to tell from the last couple of posts, I was in Portland, OR on Day 163. Now, for those of you asking "why on earth did you crazy kids go to Portland?" we had created a whole bunch of excuses for this, such as "we really like microbrews and Portland is the world center for microbrewing!" and "Oh, we really like the trend of farm-to-fork eating, and we're novice foodies, and Portland has one of the biggest foodie scenes!" and "Yeah, it's a cool place for young people right now."

Or we'd get defensive and be like, "Well, why do people go to Europe? It's because the city is just cool!"

But really, truly, at the core of our souls, our reason for going to Portland was Voodoo Doughnuts.We had seen Anthony Bourdain go to Portland and eat these sweet, devilish (?) concoctions and then we started making up excuses to go.

Voodoo Doughnuts has some of the craziest names and flavors for doughnuts that makes them memorable and unique. There's the Maple Bacon Bar (doughnut covered with maple frosting and two strips of bacon), the Captain my Captain doughnut (with Captain Crunch on top), the Diablo Rex (chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate chips and a pentagram icing on top), the Dirt Doughnut (a la the dirt cup you ate as a kid, with oreo "dirt"), the Marshall Mathers (doughnut covered in M&Ms), the Old Dirty Bastard (covered in peanut butter and oreos) and a whole host of other "dirty" doughnuts that you should check out on their website.

So, no surprise, I went to Voodoo Doughnuts.

I got the Voodoo Doughnut (shaped like a voodoo doll, covered in chocolate frosting, filled with raspberry jelly) and a Dirt doughnut. Mark got the Maple Bacon Bar and a Portland Cream doughnut (like Boston Cream, only better). And we gorged like disgusting slobs, and loved every minute because we probably won't be back for a loooooong time.

And since I caught this picture when my darling Voodoo doughnut's face was covered, I feel the need to show you that he looked something like this:

And it was everything we had ever wanted and more :) :)

Day 162: Fly Girl and Fly Boy Fly Together

On Day 162, I flew with boyfriend!

This doesn't sound so crazy, but it is when you realize that Mark and I have been to New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida (twice), New Orleans, Alabama, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and more...without ever setting foot on a plane together, you'd realize that it's almost a feat of travel! While we could have gotten to Portland, OR in the car, we were trying to maximize that ever-coveted PTO...and flights were like, $175 round trip, which, with the price of gas, is cheaper than driving!

Both looking scary but hey, we're on a plane!