Friday, May 28, 2010

Body Art

Let me preface this by saying that I am already tattooed. However, being raised by a conservative father and having a bit (a tiny tiny bit) of foresight (since I had no idea what career I wanted,) both tattoos are generally only seen by others if I want them to be.

Getting tattoos is addictive. No doubt. Each time I got one, I wanted another immediately. Unlike the most common argument I have heard against tattoos (I can't decide what I would want on my body forever) I consider my tattoos fond memories of the times that I got them. (Even the cliched rose on my hip that I got when I was eighteen. Sigh. Kids, there's a reason you have to be 18 to get a tattoo...and even then, perhaps you should wait. A rose? On my hip? Really?)

So for the past few years, I've wanted another tattoo. The location is what is holding me back. Because even though I'm decisive and generally don't let the opinions of others hold me back, I tend to poll my loved ones about decisions such as this, and the opinions of said loved ones definitely hold some weight. The more loved you are, the more weight your opinion holds.

Here are the limitations: The tattoo must be somewhere that is not obvious. That can be covered if need be. And I would like to be able to wear a formal dress on occasion without any tattoos showing. Which is why I've waited over four years for this tattoo. Because locations are limited. Shoulder? Too many backless formal dresses. Ankle? I wear flip flops and sandals all the time. Inside wrist? I'm not opposed to this. But front of shoulders and arms are out of the question - I wear way too many tank-top items.

So what I want is to get it on the back of my neck. And, this is the one location that the boy is vehemently opposed to.

He says: white trash. I say: sexy.

Maybe it's trashy-sexy?

He says: unprofessional. I agree. But you can't see it if I wear my hair down.

He says: What if you get your hair cut short. I say: I will never do so again, because I've SEEN pictures of my hair cut short and each time I wonder "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!" I have made a vow to go no shorter than shoulder length for the rest of my natural life.

He says: What if you go to a formal event and want to wear your hair in an updo? I say: Good point. Damn. I hate tattoos that show when formal dresses are worn. (And, if I were the sort of girly girl who would take into consideration one very important formal event that she has yet to go through, she might wonder about what would and would not show on this day - depending entirely on the dress. But on the flip side, she is comfortable thinking that she may never go through that event. Should she take into consideration something that may never happen?)

But, I keep thinking about it. And it's been years. This is generally the measuring stick that I use to determine whether or not I can live without something. Does it stay on my mind even when I'm removed from it? Yes. Yes it does. Well then I must have it.

It wouldn't be anything big - the symbol that I have in mind would be small and unobtrusive. There probably wouldn't be any color involved.

So....opinions? Thoughts? Comments? I welcome all points of view. Because, see, I woke up this morning with an uncontrollable urge to get something tattooed or pierced, and the boy would desperately like someone to talk me into the piercing vs the tattoo...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The way to a man's heart...

(via text exchange)

I'm trying out a new recipe tonight. You want in on this?

What recipe?

Asparagus soup. Look out Rachel Ray!


Um, bread? meat?

Um, I have leftover chicken?

Oh oh!! Wait! Or bacon! I have BACON!!!

I'll be there at 7:30.

Done. You know you're responsible for making the bacon, right?


Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Gaggle

I hate geese. Seriously. Hate them. They're just so....mean. And...bitchy. All that hissing and charging. Ugh. Too bad my favorite bike/walking route between work and home is covered in them. There are dozens. Literally. Which makes sense because I'm, um, riding along a canal.

(If I were less afraid of cars than I am the geese, I would change my route. As it is, I'm terrified of drivers who turn right on red. Seriously. Look both ways people!!)

A few weeks ago, I was walking along the towpath and didn't realize that nesting season had begun for the beasts. Nesting season turns these monsters from mere annoyances to creatures that will actually attack you if you so much as step foot in a 2 yard radius from their nests. That are always very inconveniently located. Like a foot off the towpath.

Anyhow, I was walking Casey and a goose decided that we got too close to his nest. He unfurled his wings and charged at us, hissing. Which caused me to leap out of his way and shriek. Until I realized that he was actually charging at Casey. Who did the doggie equivalent of "Oh HELL no!" and sprinted as far away as the 16-foot retractable leash would allow, yanking her owner's arm roughly in the process. On our return trip, we gave the goose a wide berth, but he still found it necessary to scare the bejeezus out of Casey again.

I hate geese. Have I mentioned that?

So, just as a PSA, I thought I would share some facts. Did you know that sometimes, when you're on a bike ride that lasts longer than expected, a boy who may or may not have been waiting to meet up with you afterward might get annoyed? And he might call to express his annoyance. Which would then make you ride your bike home as quickly as possible.

And, when riding as quickly as possible, if you divert off the path to avoid a gaggle of geese, your tires will make a sound in the long spring grass that is similar to hissing.

Surprisingly, upon hearing this noise that is similar to a threatening noise that geese might make to one another, they react ridiculously quickly for ungainly lumbering birds animals by turning toward the sound and chasing it away.

Also surprising is that riding one's bike through long spring grass causes a decrease in the speed at which the bike is moving. This, of course, makes it easier for the monster geese to catch up. Which might increase the terror of the person riding the bike.

Which might cause the rider to decide to kick at the geese, thus taking her feet off the pedals where they should be if she had any hope of accelerating AWAY from the beasts.

Luckily, she came to her senses before she was consumed by the gang of bullies and was able to ride off safely.

Geese - 1, Emily - 0.

Stupid Geese.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adventures in Bike Riding Pt. I

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

Today is Wednesday, which marks the third day of the first week that I've decided to commit to yet another ridiculous goal. It's actually the second day that I've ridden to work because yesterday morning was a bit damp, and I chickened out. (A fact for which I've since overcompensated.) Turns out that was a complete over-reaction because the afternoon turned out to be beautiful, and we were able to go on our somewhat regular group ride.

Which leads me to my first adventure.

We were meeting at a location about 3.5 miles from my house, so I thought to myself, "Self, I'll just ride there to meet everyone since I didn't ride to work today. That will make up my 7 miles for the day."

This turned out to be my first error.

My second error was when I said, "Candy - you're leading."

The ride was enjoyable, as group bike rides often are. We didn't push ourselves too hard, and we went on a path that was pretty uncrowded. The guys let the girls set the pace, and at one point, Candy and I got a bit competitive and sprinted to beat each other.

After that I decided that I would just hang out at the back of the pack. The very back. In fact, one might have said I was "lagging behind" if one wanted to get punched in the knees.

So with Candy in the lead, we just kept riding and riding....and riding....and riding. Until I looked down and the clock said 7:15pm. We had been riding for one hour. One way.

"Um, if it took us an hour to get here, it will take us an hour to get back, and I still have to ride home before dark. Maybe we should turn around?"

I said this tentatively, which was my third mistake. Because apparently Candy really REALLY wanted to get to the end of the trail. Luckily, z was the voice of common sense and simply turned around on the spot.

So the boys were leading the way home. At a pace a bit faster than what the girls had set. After over an hour of riding. And after an ill advised competitive sprint.

I'm not going to lie, I called them some nasty names. Fortunately I was far enough behind that they couldn't hear me. Until I mustered the last of my waning strength, sprinted to catch up to them, and explained what would happen if they didn't slow down.

So slow down they did. And the rest of the ride passed uneventfully until my solo leg home. (but that's another blog for another day.)

I think Candy mentioned in her blog that one of her goals last summer was to ride a marathon (26.2 miles) all in one ride. She worked up to that goal for a few weeks before attempting it and actually ended up riding farther than that on a few occasions - once she had worked up to it.

So you can imagine my surprise last night when I looked down at my odometer and I had ridden a total of 26.8 miles. On my second group ride of the season. After approximately eight months of school that included minimal working out. So there was no "working up to it." I still have noodle legs this morning.*

And that's how I learned that Candy doesn't get to lead group rides anymore.

But at least I'm well on my way to 50 miles this week, right?

*Exacerbated by the fact that I rode in to work today as an overcompensation for yesterday. Why yes, the heavens just opened up and it's pouring down rain. Thank you for asking.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Above all, challenge yourself

I like to challenge myself. I think it's what leads to growth. I also think that as we age, there fewer and fewer opportunities to practice setting a goal and achieving it. I think that sometimes just getting back to the basics of achieving a difficult goal can do wonders for making everything else in life make sense.

The first time I thought this, I challenged myself to train and finish the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon. Having never fun farther than a 5K before, I thought it was a new, fun, exciting thing to try. And it was. But it was also very very difficult. So difficult, in fact, that when something completely out of my control kept me from finishing my goal (I found out the week before the mini) I never attempted it again.

See, when I commit to something, it's no longer negotiable. It's either succeed, or die trying. (I still drink between 40-60 ounces of water per day and I never officially committed to that...) The first time I trained for the mini, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now? I know. Oh yes, I know. And I'm not quite sure I want to put myself through that again.

That seems to be a theme in my life, because the Inca Trail? Yeah, I'm never going to do that again either.

I have a feeling that my latest challenge might be a bit like that.

My friend Candy loves biking. So much so that she challenged herself to ride 1000 miles this summer. After much consideration, I think I might join her in her challenge. Not all of it, mind you. There's no way I want to ride more than 50 miles in one day. But 1000 miles by the end of the summer? Sure. I'll try that. After all, last summer I rode 200 miles. This can't be that different.


My plan of attack is similar to Candy's. I need to hit around 50 miles a week to be successful. And if I ride my bike to work everyday, that's between 30-35 miles per week. If I add in one decent group ride (which we were good about doing last year) then I should be okay.

The plan looks good on paper, right?

Riding to work is proving to be no small feat. It's not the riding, per se. (Although let me tell you - it is now obvious to me that I haven't ridden since last summer. Yikes.) It's the, "What do I wear?" "What do I eat for lunch?" "Do I shower at work or at home?" "What about rain?" It's also the "remembering to check the weather each morning." This is something at which I am woefully inadequate. (But given Indiana's unpredictable weather, something I should work on anyway.)

I rode in this morning and it wasn't terrible. I packed my outfit for the day in a backpack and decided that I would indeed shower at work. Since the shower at work is AWESOME, I think I can get over the weirdness of being naked in my office pretty easily. And now that all the shower necessities are already at the office, my backpack won't be as full in the future. Besides, if I leave my house at 7:00am, I can probably shower before anyone else shows up.

Today I only thought as far as getting dressed. I didn't think about lunch or breakfast. (Or filling up my water bottle for the ride. Suck.) Luckily, my boss brought in some breakfast today. But given how ravenous I was when I got to work this morning, that's something I'm definitely going to have to consider. Maybe oatmeal at the office? I don't know if a power bar will be enough. Suggestions? As for lunch, I can either brown-bag, or there's a Subway within easy walking distance. But brown-bagging it isn't something that I've ever been good at. And walking to Subway? What about the weather? What about the shoes I wore to work that day?

Why not ride my bike to get lunch? That's what I thought. But in reality, if you're in work clothes, how does that work? Do you change back into biking clothes for lunch? After that, do you change back?

I'm not throwing in the towel, but it's a bigger task than I originally thought it would be. Instead of incorporating something new into my life, this is seeming to require many small changes all at once. I'm posting here so I'm accountable because the small changes CAN NOT WIN! I WILL PREVAIL! Besides, short of getting hit by a car whilst on my bike (and really, how much different can that be than getting hit by a car whilst on rollerblades?) I don't really see a downside to taking on this challenge...even if I fail.

So wish me luck! By the end of the summer, that odometer that you see should say at least 1228 miles. (Oh, and cross your fingers that the thunderstorms will hold off until 7:00pm like the weather forecasters said. No one wants to see how angry Emily will be while riding her bike in the rain.)

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I iz dun.

Well, for the summer at least.

It was another humbling semester, and I see a common thread among humbling semesters. That thread is organic chemistry.

"Perhaps I just can't handle work and school" is what I mused to a friend. Actually, what I mean is, "Perhaps I can't handle organic chemistry and anything else that requires thought."

I am floored (FLOORED) at the amount of studying required for these pre-post grad classes. (read: upper level sciences) It was not uncommon for me to spend 12 hours per weekend studying organic chemistry. I don't remember doing anywhere near this level of studying in college. Of course, I'm comparing these classes to a degree in marketing and, let's be honest here, business classes? Um.... I mean, I remember having to work in Finance and maybe in Accounting... But I also remember falling asleep in accounting, showing up one day when there was a test that was a complete surprise to me, and still passing with a B-.

This feels to me like an entirely different type of hard. I know that business classes can be challenging (maybe just not the ones I took?) but this requires a whole different portion of my brain that I feel hasn't been used in ages. I can't decide if it's that the classes are harder, I'm older and you just can't teach an old dog new tricks, or that this time around I really really really care and really really really want to do well. Maybe it's a combination of all three?

Organic chemistry this semester was a completely different experience than last semester. Last semester was a bleak five months stretching out before me with no hope in sight. Maybe that was the "weeding out" portion that I've heard so much about. This semester the professor was helpful and genuinely wanted people to succeed. His notes were thorough, well organized, and his test questions were based on exactly what he taught. I still struggled, but at least I felt I learned something. And while his final was the hardest test I've ever taken, I didn't come out feeling completely defeated. If I didn't know the answer to a question right away, I could usually reason through it to make a logical conclusion. That is a HUGE change from last semester. I walk away at peace. I did the best I could.

But again, the class that I took concurrently with ochem suffered. If I walked out of the ochem final feeling beaten up but okay, I walked out of my biochem final feeling like a complete failure.

Le Sigh.

This year I apply to vet schools. Which means I have to take the GRE. I'm giving myself one to two weeks off, and then the studying begins for that. It seems surreal that the end of all this hard work is in sight. Sometimes it feels like I've been playing "pretend" and it's all for nothing... that I'll have a job I dislike for the rest of my life. But then there are days like this where the sun is shining, the birds are singing, I have great friends who are great support, and I think that everything will work out the way it's supposed to.

I just hope that "the way it's supposed to" is the same as "the way I want it to."

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fatty Fatty Two by Four

"Your dog is getting fat."

I swear that if it wasn't my favorite veterinarian who had uttered those words, I would have thrown down right then and there. My dog is not fat. She once ran seven miles with me last summer! She's high energy! We walk all the time! You can see her ribs, for goodness sakes. Right there, see? Oh. Um.... well the last time we walked farther than one mile was... Um... Hey! It's been winter and I'm in school! Don't judge me!! It's not like I'm maintaining my weight either. We're suffering together. Yeah, that's it.

This happened at a vet checkup during which Casey was medicated against the horrible allergies she gets every spring. Dogs show allergic reactions through their skin, and for the last couple of years, come April, Casey has red rimmed eyes (from rubbing her face) red feet (from chewing) and hives absolutely covering her body. In the past, given my reluctance to use medicine, we've tried home remedies to relieve her. These remedies included some Benedryl, washing her feet after every walk (THAT was fun, let me tell you) and repeated dunkings in any body of water that we came across. After spending the last two summers in itchy misery, I decided to break down and medicate her this year.

Do you know how dogs are medicated against allergies? Steroids. Do you know what steroids do? Among other things, they make your dog eat more.

The second comment came from the head of the pit bull rescue that I volunteer for. "Oh my goodness! Casey is getting so big!" And upon seeing my expression, "I mean, she's just always been so thin. She's really filling out."


When I mentioned this to my dog sitter, she said, "I did notice that Casey was a little round."

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. ROUND? In no way is my dog round. You can still see her WAIST for goodness sakes. She may not be as thin as she used to be, but she's....curvy. That's it. Curvy. And there is nothing wrong with curvy.

In the meantime, MonsterDog (aka Casey on steroids) is eating me out of house and home. She's almost doubled her food intake per day, and she's demanding about how hungry she is. She's stealing Blue's food. She's stealing the cat's food (never mind the scratches she gets when she does it - Laney does not give up her food easily.) She's digging in the trash. She's eating random things off the road when we walk. She's asking to go out literally every two hours when I'm home. And she's going to the bathroom each and every time. On walks? I now have to carry 4-5 plastic bags to clean up after two dogs. Blue uses one. At least Casey is a good girl and won't go in her crate. But when I get home after work/school, she's literally panting with the effort of not going, and she races out the door to relieve herself.

Well, "races" as fast as a tubby pit bull can run.

I'm doing some research for other remedies that I can try to avoid another steroid shot this year. Because, while they work fine, steroids can become less effective if used repeatedly. Besides, I can't handle anymore MonsterDog, let alone fat MonsterDog.

Blue goes home Friday. Next week? Casey and I begin operation "lose the tubby." I just hope she's not as grumpy as I am when her food intake is cut.

(I would post a picture, but Casey objected. Apparently there's no angle from which she looks thin. I will just say that she's gained 6lbs in the last six to eight months. This is a gain of 13% of her original body weight. And as much as we would both like to believe that it's muscle, it's, um, not.)