Monday, July 26, 2010

Cross off #29!

On Saturday I crossed yet another 40 by 40 item off the list! (Can you guess which number it was?)

Yes, Team 29 (my husband and me) ran, rode, and sweated its way through the Great Urban Race Chicago. We partnered up with Team Awesome, which included a friend who lives in Chicago. I'm sure you don't have to have a local, but I'm not sure we would have finished in time if we hadn't.

I wouldn't say that the clues in Chicago were drastically harder than what I've experienced in Minneapolis (except for the fact that I didn't know where anything was), but being in a bigger city means covering more ground, which made the whole thing a little more intense and interesting.

Official rankings haven't been posted yet, but I can tell you that it took us roughly 4 hours and 30 minutes (the winners finished in 2 hours and 4 minutes). And although we definitely weren't sprinting from clue to clue, we were moving almost constantly for that entire time - save for the one and only pitstop we made to enjoy margaritas - so it was a big race.

One thing that was cool was that no matter where we went, we found other teams. In Minneapolis, you tend to run into lots of other teams for the first hour or so, but then things thin out and you start to wonder if everyone else already finished. Not so in Chicago.

This photo is from our final bus, which we took back to the finish line. When it stopped for us, we didn't think we'd be able to get on because it was so full, but the jovial bus driver (notice her smile) just told everyone to move back and make room. And when we boarded, we realized it was about 75% racers on the bus...and I was pleased to overhear some of the teams discussing that they still had two or three clues left to complete in the remaining 30 minutes. I mean, I never expect to be first, but it's nice not to be last.

We flipped pancakes. We wrote haikus. We ate ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. We did pilates. It was a fun day. And an awesome way to experience the city...makes me want to run away with the Great Urban Race.

Friends living in other major cities, get ready: I may be hitting you up to accompany me on the Great Urban Race next year. For now, I'm still looking forward to the Minneapolis race in September!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I have two exciting things to tell you:

1. Thanks to my fabulous friends and their fabulous friends, my essay is climbing the ranks. I was pretty happy about breaking the top 100, but now that I'm reaching the top 50, it's really getting exciting. If you haven't voted today, go ahead - I'll wait. And THANK YOU!

2. I'm going to Chicago this weekend to cross #29 off my 40 by 40 list! I'll be competing in the Great Urban Race! I use the term "compete" very loosely. You may recall that I've competed in the Minneapolis GUR before - twice, actually - and I've never come even close to winning. Let's just say my quest for fun outweighs my competitive spirit. Luckily, we're talking about a scavenger hunt, not a marathon. It will be interesting to see if the clues will seem a lot harder in a new city.

Look forward to a full report when I return. In the meantime, please keep voting!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Your Votes, Please

Hey, so I wrote an essay...this is a bit of an accomplishment for me since I talk about writing a lot more than I write (blog excluded).

I knew I'd have to write eventually if I was ever going to accomplish #5 on the 40 by 40 list, but I've been a little slow getting started...

But wouldn't you know that it would be Anthony Bourdain who could motivate me to put that proverbial pen to paper?

You see, despite the fact that I fantasize about spending my days lost in the fictional realms of my best-selling novels, I do better with structure. In this case, there was a topic supplied and a clear incentive to write ($10k and the chance to be published in Anthony Bourdain's his book!).

But here's why I'm telling you all of this: I need you to vote for me.

Because, like every contest in the age of Facebook, this is really a popularity contest. A popularity contest that collects your information (sorry - but c'mon, you don't mind if Anthony Bourdain has your personal info, right?). The essays that get the most votes will be read by Mr. Bourdain and he will then choose the winner.

I'm not going to tell you this is the best thing ever written, but I'm still proud that I wrote it. would be really cool if he read it.

But even if that doesn't happen, I'd like to make a decent showing, I suppose just for personal pride. And yes, I realize this method of soliciting votes negates any implication that the essay with the most votes is actually the best, but, well...I didn't make the rules.

So please vote for me. Like, daily. Reassure me that it wasn't totally stupid to try to get back into writing by entering a public contest. Even if you think it was. Much appreciated.

Monday, July 19, 2010

That Grass is So Green...

I need to tell you something: School starts in 7 weeks.

7 weeks?! One of the things I hate about getting older is that time really does speed up. You start to see how everything is cyclical. It's perpetually almost Christmas or almost summer...the beginning and then the end of another school year.

It was more fun when time went slow.

Maybe I'm just lamenting that this is my first summer in four years that I'm not staying home at least most of the time with my boys. Ironically, I am home, but I'm up in my office working. I like my job and all, but I miss having all that time with my kids...even the times when I was bored out of my mind, or being driven mad by the whining...I miss when they were my focus for the day. I miss when my days weren't shaped by conference calls.

I'd like to think that I'm just in the end-phase of my readjustment period. When I started this job just 2 1/2 months ago, it sort of felt like I jumped back into full-time work suddenly, but in reality, I had been working 20-30 hours/week for an entire year before that...maybe I'm adjusting to working full-time and working from home...during the summer...when my kids and my husband are also home. Maybe it's not a matter of adjustment, it's just hard.

It's hard to work because my kids are here and it's hard to not work because my office is here. But I love, love, love not having a commute and not having to get dressed up for work and being able to go downstairs if somebody really needs me (or if I really need them) I'm not complaining. I'm just saying I miss having all of that time...

And I'm also kinda looking forward to school starting.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jazzercise Experiment: Day 14 (Class 7)

I am 7/9 of the way through the Jazzercise Experiment and have learned that there is a Murphy's Law of sorts when it comes to gym shorts.

If you choose to wear those slightly-too-short-shorts that you find in the back of your drawer, then it is guaranteed that the class you're attending that day will consist nearly entirely of stretches that require you to lay spread-eagle, probably facing the window that points into the hallway where people are gathering for the next class. It's like Britney's Law...yep. Time to invest in some lycra.

Borderline pornographic moments aside, however, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this whole thing. This Behind-the-Bars class might actually be a form of exercise I like enough to stick with it...and hey, maybe I'll find a way to unlock my sense of rhythm and one day be able to participate in one of the dance aerobics classes without feeling like a complete idiot. Or maybe not.

2 free classes left to go. Now LIFT! And LIFT! And LIFT! And LIFT!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

At Least I Know I'm Free

So, every time I go on a trip, I feel compelled to write a blog about it (because I'm completely obsessive when preparing for a trip) and in that blog I pretty much always promise to blog about the trip when I get back.

And then I get back and I don't really feel like blogging.

And then it's been two days and I start to feel like I better get back here and blog about somehow it's an obligation. As if this blog records every important detail of my life (it doesn't, in case you were wondering, although I'm pretty sure it touches on nearly every neurosis).

This brings me to the imaginarily-obligatory travel blog post so we can move on to more pressing the fact that the post I wrote about Jenny McCarthy back in September of 2008 just got a comment today. (!) I have to say, I think it was a pretty good post, but how is it that a stranger happened to stumble upon it today?

Sorry, I got blog:

D.C. was really fun. Better than my pre-departure post suggested it would be. It was hot and we walked a lot, but I really like that city.

Museums, monuments, cute little brownstones where I can imagine much history, a wealth of cupcakeries (I have to give a shout-out to Georgetown Cupcake, where the peanut butter frosting is magical)...oh, and, just as Aidan said he would, we met former cheftestant Spike! (Whose food is pretty damn delicious.)

The boys found more joy in riding the Metro, going through the multitude of security checkpoints, and getting hot dogs on the Mall than, say, reading about the first moon landing at the Air & Space Museum, but I still think the experience left a good impression on them. The Lincoln Memorial moved them to their knees (a curious inclination given that we are not church-going folk) and the fireworks on the Mall amazed all of us. Really, I didn't think I even liked fireworks all that much, but these...I think these might have actually made me more patriotic.

And if we can get practical for a moment, let me share my newest realization: The Embassy Suites is the place to be if you're traveling with kids. Not only do you get your own bedroom while the kids are thrilled with sleeping on the pull-out couch, but you get a free daily breakfast buffet and a free daily cocktail reception. Did you hear me? Free breakfast and cocktails EVERY DAY! And that concludes my travel tips for today.

I have no profound thoughts about the founding of our country other than to say that it seems like the ratio of smart, determined people to lazy, stupid people was higher back then. If left to our own devices to start a new country today, I'm afraid we'd all just blockade our doors and watch TV until the electricity ran out.

That being said, I actually left feeling a little prouder to be an American...but not necessarily in the Lee Greenwood way.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Fit and Patriotic

Despite my lack of daily reporting, I have not fallen off the Jazzercise wagon! I completed four consecutive days of fitness classes and it went pretty well. I'm sore, but good.

The quitter in me was pretty sure every single day that I wasn't going to make it to class for one reason or another, but somehow I got myself into the car and made it there just in the knick of time.

The last two days were BodyJAM and Shaping class. BodyJAM was more dancing and I was bad at it. Shaping involved weights, which was good. I'd go back to that one. If you're keeping score, this means I'm hating all cardio and liking all strength classes. So I will end up very strong and unable to breathe or something.

Anyway, the Jazzercise Experiment is now on hold while my family goes to D.C. I'm excited, but feeling a little out of my element. I like to be very, very prepared - especially when traveling with my kids - and even though I've been to D.C. a couple times, I haven't really visited as a tourist since I was 12.

I totally missed the opportunity to use our Congressman as our golden ticket. I had no idea you could request all these special tours and such as long as you plan your trip many months ahead of time. Sadly, I actually have been planning this trip for roughly 5 months, but I just somehow missed all of this information until this week. *Sigh* No White House tours for us.

We will, however, tour the U.S. Capitol, visit the Air & Space Museum and the International Spy Museum, and, of course, see 4th of July fireworks on the National Mall. That last bit has me as worked up as well, since it's going to be 92 degrees and the entire fireworks extravaganza sounds like chaos on a level that could only be achieved in our nation's capital. *Sigh*

I swear I'm going to relax...maybe what I'm failing to acknowledge here is that this is our first family vacation that doesn't revolve around a beach or a theme park (unless you count Chicago, which I don't) and there's something about the level of planning involved in this kind of trip that's stressing me out. It's this imaginary quota, of sorts, that says we need to hit X, Y, and Z sites in order to have adequately provided my children with a true Washington, D.C. learning experience. Oh, and did I mention that I don't even enjoy museums?

Ok, I'm done freaking out. The carrot on the end of my stick today is knowing that tonight I'll be eating dinner at Good Stuff Eatery. Aidan is hoping for a photo with Spike. We shall see.

Hope you all have a fun and exceedingly patriotic holiday weekend!