Category Archives: Life

Running Away and Running Towards

In summer 2010, encouraged by my coworker Teplyn, I did a 10K along the coast at the Rockland, Maine Lobsterfest.  When I signed up for the 10K I had no intention of running it, I was just along for the ride.  I planned to start out running and then end up walking, but once I started running I never stopped.  It was at this run that I realized how exhilarating it was to run in a race.

So when my grad school friend Cat asked if anyone would join her in a half marathon in October 2011, I said sure, why the heck not?  I ran a couple times a week for about 2 miles at a nearby park.  I didn’t have a set running schedule, didn’t do a long run, and didn’t really watch what I ate.  I just embraced the philosophy that the more often I ran, the better off I’d be.

That philosophy paid off pretty well.  Cat and I finished in a little under 3 hours (2 hrs 50 minutes or so if I remember right), and we felt pretty good about that, considering it was our very first half marathon ever.  (Cat was also extra kickass as she’d just given birth to her daughter in March that year.)

Cat continued to train and sign up for half marathons, but I dropped out of running in 2012 for financial reasons.  I’d just moved and started student loan repayments and I had to readjust my finances to find extra money to pay for things that weren’t bills.  Even though I was a half-marathon drop out for all of last year, Cat asked me about joining her in the OC half marathon this May.  This time around I could afford to sign up for a half again, so I jumped right on board.

Cat created a modified half training schedule, based on a recommend training program she did for the Tinkerbell half marathon.  Last week was week one of training and so far so good!  The general philosophy of the plan is to run three times a week – two times on weekdays for 30 minutes each day, and then a longer untimed distance run once on the weekend.  It’s a totally doable sounding plan so I’m giving it a shot.

Last week I missed the first 30 minute run, but I did the second one and did a 5.5 mile run on the weekend.  Now on to week #2!  I take a modern dance class on Saturday mornings, and I’m going to incorporate the stretching and warm up exercises from that class into my non-running weekdays.  So this week looks like:

Monday: stretch and dance warm ups

Tuesday: 30 minute run

Wednesday: stretch and dance warm ups

Thursday: 30 minute run

Friday: rest

Saturday: sadly no dance class this week as I’m going on an all day Mojave desert adventure

Sunday: 3-4 mile run (untimed)

I’m approaching this half marathon more seriously and aiming to get the finish time down to 2 hours 30 minutes or less.  Next up: running nutrition!  I’m doing a little research and crafting a meal game plan that I’ll share in another post.


Cocktail versus exercise smackdown.


Magical juxtaposition in a screen grab.

So, I think the Arthritis Foundation is telling me I should go to the gym instead of making this cocktail.

What won out?  Well, I’ve got text to finish for an online exhibit, so a lighter inspired-by cocktail won out.  (And maybe I should be slightly insulted the ad seems to be suggesting I’m using booze as medicine?)

Dear body (when I first typed this I accidentally typo’d “Dead body” – gosh universe, slather it on thick why dontcha!?),

Tomorrow I will do more exercise than the 15 minute pilates video.  And even if we still feel sick-ish (I’m still recovering from a cold of epic-ish length), we’ll at least walk around Griffith Park a bit.  Both Saturday and Sunday.

I promise I love you more than I demonstrate,


Saying that stuff on the internet makes it real and true.  And for tonight – cheers!

1 shot gin, 1/2 shot triple sec, 1 shot lemon juice, 2 dashes bitters, shaken on the rocks, and then topped off with soda water.  Ta-da!

1 shot gin, 1/2 shot triple sec, 1 shot lemon juice, 2 dashes bitters, shaken on the rocks, and then topped off with soda water. Ta-da!

Blogging is now a glossy magazine

I started a blog on Blogger in high school.  At the end of high school I swapped over to livejournal after accounts there were open for anyone to register (as opposed to register by invite only).

This year marks my 10 year anniversary of livejournal blogging.  In those ten years the face of blogging has dramatically changed.  Now bloggers promote lifestyles and create content and generate money on their writing.  Back in the day I turned to journaling online as a great creative exercise and stress release.  I made a couple online friends via livejournal.  Blogging was not a way to make money though, and now that it’s shifted I feel a bit lost as part of an earlier generation of bloggers.

Don’t get me wrong, I read several blogs religiously and really enjoy the great photos, stories, projects, and recipes that bloggers share.  It’s just a different culture.  Maybe blogging used to be like a zine, but now it’s like a glossy magazine?

Blogging used to be a primarily anonymous art form.  Nowadays the early stranger danger days of the internet have been replaced by the openness and greater honesty brought about (I think) by Facebook.  Before Facebook I was a username, but now I am my own name.  I’m not sure if the use of real names increases authenticity or just encourages individuals to more strongly brand themselves, but it has led me to a crossroads.

I’ve been revamping my online presence recently by cutting back on Facebook posting, hiding my old Twitter account, turning my old livejournal entries private, and creating a reworked online portfolio website.  Though I’m not sure what I want to do with this blog.

I’d partially like to go back to the old days of blogging, when I’d write about momentary bouts of depression, good days, and off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts.  But I’d also like to publicly claim this blog as my own, and to do that I feel it’d be necessary to more carefully curate the content that makes its way on here.

I think it’s time to say goodbye to purely stream of consciousness blogging/laying down bare words of vunerability, and time to say hello to a professional front and a curtains-open-only-when-appropriate blog.  This doesn’t mean that my blogging will be any less authentic than it was in the past.  Maybe it’ll even mean my posts will increase their depth of focus and thoughtfulness!

At any rate, it’s time to get back into the blogging game, and I think with this decision I can finally feel less frozen on this blog.  Here’s to starting again, even in a new culture (of sorts)!

Obama won the 2012 election.

One of the things I’ve loved about Boardwalk Empire this season is the storyline about women’s health.  It initially seems a little odd that a show about prohibition and gangsters has a very thoughtful storyline on such a topic.  Really though, the show is about government imposed restrictions and balance of power, and while Nucky Thompson and the others wrestle over power of booze and money, Margaret Thompson wrestles over the power of her own body and sexuality.  Who determines the right to drink alcohol?  Who determines the right to control a woman’s body?

Margaret Sanger is one of my heroes.  She is a complicated figure, as all human beings are, and she is often cast in a negative light for association with the contemporary eugenics movement.  In no way do I endorse eugenics, but I do endorse the personal decision to become pregnant or not become pregnant.  Whatever Sanger’s personal sentiments were on the topic, the battle she fought to champion access to birth control contributed greatly to today’s commonplace access.

However, things as they stand aren’t all peachy.  If you don’t have health insurance birth control is very expensive.  It’s not like going to the drugstore and buying aspirin.  Continuing birth control requires costly exams with doctors.

Thankfully there is Planned Parenthood to fill in gaps in insurance coverage and ensure that women of all walks of life are guaranteed access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other health services (I went for a UTI a few years ago when I was between jobs and hadn’t yet gotten my COBRA coverage confirmation.  It was terrible timing.  As anyone who’s ever had one before knows, UTIs don’t wait for insurance paperwork to clear!)

So when Obama won the 2012 election this evening, I sighed a giant breath of relief.  Though I’ve had continuous insurance coverage (once paperwork was all pushed to the correct places), I am relieved to know that Planned Parenthood will continue to be there for my uninsured friends and me, should we ever need their help.

Over 200 years after Abigail Adams insisted that women be remembered in the shaping of the new nation, in this country still largely run by men, it is still far too easy to forget that ladies are people who deserve respect.  However, I believe Obama views the United States as a nation of individuals, rather than a nation of genders, and for this reason I believe in him.

Now let’s spend less time working to reverse the progress of women’s rights advocates in the 20th century, and look to ways we can improve everyone’s health, opportunities, productivity, and contributions to society.

Boardwalk Empire is a great show to watch, but not one I want to have to reenact in my own life.

Routines and Regulars

Now that I have a bit of a routine going in my first two weeks of full-time work I’ve begun to notice “regulars.”  When I run at the park in the morning before work there is a woman who always wears a blue hair bandana who runs.  She tends to run the opposite way around the track than I do and when we pass each other I have the urge to give her a high five or cheer her on for working hard (she’s not one of the track people who zooms around – she falls in the category that I also fall into – people running around the track trying their hardest to keep their legs moving and their lungs working).

There is also a tall guy who walks the track, and even though he’s walking I still want to high five or fist bump him for showing up all the time too.  You go regulars!

I work at a museum in a park, and the road I take after getting off the freeway runs along a jogging/walking/horse riding path.  Today and yesterday there was an older woman power walking alone – another regular that I’ve started to notice!

I’ve always wanted to be able to walk into a bar and have the customers and bartender know my name.  I think “knowing” the regulars of the exercising-in-the-park world is probably a healthier familiarity, haha.  (Though if there was a bar I liked within walking distance of my apartment, I would also go for knowing the bar regulars!)

Now that grad school is over I can drone on about cleaning instead!

I have no idea what this says about me, but nothing provides such instant satisfaction as cleaning something ridiculously dirty and seeing it sparkle afterward.

Thanks to the magic of Apartment Therapy readers, I recently learned that Magic Erasers are truly magical when it comes to cleaning tile grout.

When my roommate and I moved into this apartment, I am 99.9% sure that the bathroom floor tile looked dingy and scratched and generally grout-nasty.  Frequency of cleaning doesn’t seem to matter.  I started to think that the tiles were just so old that they were too dinged up for repair.

About half-way through the process: Clean white grout > Nasty black grout

And then – POOF!

Magic.  Magic Eraser + Elbow grease = nearly new looking floor!  There were a few grout spots I couldn’t get up, but I also only spent 1/2 to 1 hour on the floor, so maybe if I tried a little harder it could’ve been 10 for 10.  I don’t know why 10.  It’s a nice rounded number and easier than counting the actual floor tiles.

At any rate, the bathroom floor doesn’t look like its 60+ years.  It’s like Botox for the floor!  hah  Next up are the kitchen counters.  The tile is nicer looking, but the grout is nasty there too.  Time for some magic!

I was also going to write about how Bar Keepers’ Friend is now, in fact, my friend too, but this involves using pictures from Mr. H’s Nintoaster project and I don’t want to give away any of those exciting details!  Here is a sneak peak shot he took:

Me through the dissected toaster grates.

I’ll have to get him to blog a post!

Constructive Time Use

I live next to a giant intersection where two major and one minor streets collide.  Every day on my way home from work I have to make a green-light yield left turn through this monstrosity.  As I sit in the middle of the intersection, waiting for the light to turn yellow or red so traffic stops and I can turn, I think about the zombie apocaplyse.

Actually, it starts with me thinking about what a giant chunk of real estate is in the middle of the intersection.  If only these streets had been planned better this space would be less of a car clusterfuck and more of a useful space.  Just imagine the price of the land!  And then when my mind starts thinking more and more, as cars going the opposite direction whizz past my car, I start thinking about what a wasteland this intersection is.

A vast, massive desert.  A challenge to cross as is, but!  What if – What if there was a zombie attack!  I live on one side of the intersection, but the grocery stores I visit are on the opposite end.  How would I cross the abyss undetected so I could go pilfer the grocery store for supplies to hoard?  These are important questions.  So I sit in the middle of the intersection and plot out which streets I’d take north or south of the vast wasteland.  I start thinking about potential zombie distraction techniques, so while the deadbrains are looking right, my livebrain darts left.  And then the light turns yellow, and then red, and the cars stop coming and I make my left turn and head home.  Back to the road, leaving further emergency planning for the next drive home.

What do you think about during your work commutes?

Support for the National Women’s History Museum

Somehow the National Women’s History Museum got ahold of my mailing address.  I’ve recently been involved with preservation organizations and have given money to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, so I have a feeling they found me through one of those veins.

At first I was unsure how I felt about such a museum.  When I wrote my undergrad thesis I was annoyed that books on women’s history were labeled with pinky-purple stickers marking them as “gender” history books.  They were sequestered on a floor away from the history books and in their own nook next to all the different “studies” books (African-American, Chicano, etc.).  While I think there is nothing more awesome than acknowledgment of women’s achievements throughout the past (or the achievements of any other understudied, marginalized groups), I don’t see why these books can’t rub shoulders with the “non-gendered” history books.  So in this way, my first reaction was to feel that women don’t need an entire museum – they just need greater recognition in the Smithsonian American History Museum.

Yet the more I started thinking about the divergent ways in which women experience and engage with history, the more I started to feel that maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  While there is something of a collective American experience that affects all residents of the country, there are different expectations for how to fulfill what it means to be an American man or woman.

Senators Jim DeMint from South Carolina and Tom Coburn from Oklahoma essentially crushed the bill put forth to the Senate that would allow federal land near the National Mall to be sold (at fair market value) to the National Women’s History Museum for a museum site.  DeMint and Coburn placed a hold on the bill that stalled its progress until last year’s Congress closed, forcing the supporters of the bill (Senator Carolyn Maloney from New York and Susan Collins from Maine) to reintroduce it again this year.  The objectors’ protests centered around allegations that the museum was a politically driven organization desiring to put up only pro-abortion messages, despite the lack of evidence to prove that this was the case.  The museum will not be receiving taxpayer support, it is a private non-profit, and all it wants to do is purchase land to build a museum.

All this says to me that there is a great need at present for more dialogue on women’s role in history.  When all that can be said about women’s history is abortionabortionabortion there is clearly a need for greater education.  A Women’s History Museum should not just be about birth control and feminism (though these two are important components of a larger story), but should tell all facets of the female experience.  The Museum is currently running (and expanding) an online exhibit about motherhood, which I have a feeling is intended to soothe the naysayers’ worries that the Museum will only celebrate rebellion or stories that might be perceived as “non-traditional” to the more conservative sector.  I applaud the efforts of the exhibit and really hope that it shows how we arrived at our present attitudes and how complicated the choice to be a mother is at present!  Having it “all” seems like a heck of a lot of work and I applaud those who choose motherhood, those who choose careers, and those who tackle them both.

So even though I want to buy an HD TV, I just shelled out a couple hundred for thesis binding/copying/graduation fees, my car needs new break pads, and I just had my giant car insurance bill arrive in the mail, I’m going to get out my checkbook and send in some monetary support.  And if someone were to send me a call for support for a National Men’s History Museum, I’d jump on board there too.  I think what it means to be a “woman” or a “man” in any given time period is very important in discerning how we choose to act and shape ourselves.  I don’t think women should be privileged over men by any means (or vice versa), we just need to reach a greater level of understanding and respect for all conditions of life.  I think that the National Women’s History Museum is a good way to do just that.

More info on the museum at their website.

Nuclear families and jargon.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures with my phone since I upgraded to the 21st century and acquired a droid.  I haven’t been uploading these photos with regularity yet, so no pictures to add to this post.  (Next time I’ll stop being lazy….probably….maybe….).

School has started – only one class on 19th/20th century European historiography and then my thesis.  The thesis is all up to me, which is great and scary.  The thesis therapy group I have with a grad school friend has so far appeared to be a great help.  Thanks to that and going to a metropolian history writers group at USC I’ve finally gotten the motivation to really get a move on with my reading/writing.

One book in particular really sang for me.  Not sure if I mentioned it on this blog, but awhile back I wrote a response to an opinion letter in the Denver Post.  Some dude was going off on how wonderful Focus on the Family is, and how all the press promoting same sex marriages was going to ruin society.  The writer linked his assertions to historical concepts and events, and the misuse/misinterpretation of such events REALLY got my blood boiling.

One of the worst conceptions Americans (in general) have about the structure of the family is that the nuclear family is the one, true, traditional family structure that everyone conformed to/aspired to back in the day.  The nuclear family, however, was only really an achievable concept in the 1950s, due to the post-war economic boom.  And despite the prominance of nuclear families during this period, many housewives were drugged up on tranquilizers to deal with the type of restrictive house-life this nuclear family structure placed them in.  So, to say that the nuclear family is an ideal and traditional American family is off the mark in several areas.

The response I wrote was published (yipee!).  That was exciting.  And then I read Mary E. Triece’s On the Picket Line: Strategies of Working-Class Women during the Depression, and boy did the conclusion just knock my socks off.  The first part of the book gives the background of the 19th century evolution of the separate spheres ideology (men = work/public, women = home/private).  The meat of the text discusses the ways in which women were labor activists in the Depression.  Then the conclusion brings the separate spheres and the subsequent idea of the nuclear family up to contemporary times by discussing the rise in “marriage promotion discourse” which she identifies as “simply one manifestation in a long history of familialist discourses that espouses values of domesticity in an attempt to assuage public anxiety and unrest in an unstable economic context.”

She continues by highlighting the utopian element in dominant familialist discourses, which gives the discourse its hegemonic power.  (Lots of hifaultin’ jargon in the argument, but there are some great thought nibblets in it.)  “In short, the vision of a happy and stable nuclear family reinforces the capitalist patriarchal status quo by obscuring the need for collective action to disrupt broad-based discriminatory institutions and practices.”

I’ve tried to explain the book, and particularly the conclusion, to two different people, but the issues are very complicated and rooted in a historical viewpoint that I’ve found difficult to sum up in a 5 minute intro.  I’ve been unsuccessful in really conveying much about the book at all.  I’m not even sure if the above is very sufficient, but there it is.

Now back to reading – I’m tying up Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure by Nan Enstad at the moment.  It looks at the ways in which working class women engaged popular culture to their advantage.  A much easier read than Triece, though a lot of the bits on film are sourced from books I’ve already read (Steven Ross’ scholarship on the working class relationship with film in particular).  At least it is getting my brain going again!

Blank Slate.

In one month I ship off to York, Maine to start a 2.5 month internship.  I have never been to Maine before.  The closest I have ever been is Washington, D.C.  Or maybe Cincinnati, OH?  I’m not sure which one is actually closer.  Maybe this fact tells you something about what I know about the East.

That is a big part of why I am doing this though.  I am in love with the West Coast.  This is something I already know.  What do I not know?  The East Coast.  I want to find out if there is something I will love about that geography too.

The most difficult part in all of this is that I am leaving my human love in Los Angeles.  This is a big part of the challenge.

And so my countdown to the end of my first year of grad school has turned into a countup to my Maine adventure.

Palms, Los Angeles from friends’ rootop

March 2010