Friday, 18 November 2011

With this ring....

This needed to be posted. Consider it an early Christmas present. Via Craftgossip, here's the Weener Kleener:

Monday, 14 November 2011

Interim report

Apparently I'm missed by a couple of you. Who knew? Although I find it ironic that the one who seems to be most irate about my absence (*cough*Deb*cough*) deleted her own blog ages ago and became a permanent commenter-stalker type person. Huh.

Well, here's your freaking update, you nosy nellies. And in list form no less.
1.) I'm alive.
2.) I didn't run that half marathon in October.
3.) I didn't really train for it either, so that worked out.
4.) I haven't run in two months. Go me.
5.) I still read some of your blog posts, but, as you can tell, I don't comment much.
6.) Probably for the best really.
7.) I moved to my permanent flat a week before the DNS half marathon.
8.) The apartment was still undergoing renovations when I moved in. Lovely.
9.) A week later I went to Italy for three weeks for work.
10.) I returned to an almost completed flat.
11.) My sister arrived two days later.
12.) Her visit consisted of buying a bunch of stuff for the flat and her being very cool and cleaning and organizing it all for me.
13.) I have the best sister ever.
14.) However, I went from owning very little to "Sweet jesus, how did I get so much stuff and where do I put it all?!"
15.) I'm busy with work.
16.) And still working on the Thing That Shall Not Be Named.
17.) Seriously, don't mention it. At. All. It's given me a permanent eye twitch and a shitty sleep pattern.
18.) I actually have nightmares about it.
19.) But if I ever want to live like a real person, I need to finish it so I'm gonna go back into seclusion now.
20.) Later, bitches.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Attention J. Maas

Although I'm pretty sure I'm down to only a handful of regular readers since I only post once in a blue moon and rarely about running anymore, I know (thanks to my sitemeter) that I have at least a couple of dedicated lurkers. I think it's because of my blogroll on the right. If that's the case then I'm glad I can be of service.

Anyhoo, I think one of those readers is J. Maas. If you are J. Maas, could you please email me (ukxenia at gmail dot com) your mailing address? I promise not to stalk you. Much. I just want to send you a thank you gift for your very kind donation to my sister's Alzheimer's fundraising page.

That's it. You can all go back to what you were doing. Nothing else to see here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pillows and elephants

My sister is doing the Walk to End Alzheimer's this weekend in Chicago. This is a cause very dear to her heart as her bf's father suffers from it. There is no cure and no way to slow it down, so Z has been doing all she can to raise money for Alzheimer's research.

To help my sister and her good works, I'm holding a raffle. What am I raffling off? Why Jane Austen and Mr Darcy pillow covers, of course!


Prize details: Two pillow covers with envelope closures. Each is 18" by 18", made of unbleached calico with black felt silhouettes appliqued onto the pillows. Pillow inserts not included.

How to enter the raffle: Donate to my sister's fundraising page! Every dollar donated gets you an entry into the raffle. Email me (ukxenia at gmail dot com) after to confirm your donation amount and to give me your mailing address.

Deadline: Raffle ends this Friday, September 16th at 5 pm GMT (noon EST).

Why: Because (1) It's a very worthy cause, (2) you really want these pillow covers, (3) I'm asking nicely (for once), and (4) you'll still get something even if you lose out on the raffle.

All donators will get a felt elephant & forget me not brooch as a thank you for donating to Alzheimer's research.


These brooches were designed by Z and me and sewn by yours truly. If you don't want to wear it as a brooch, you can quite easily convert it into an ornament with a bit of thread or ribbon or even a fridge magnet with a little glue and a small magnet.

I know money is tight for all of us these days, but a donation doesn't have to be large. Every little bit helps. Just one dollar gets you a chance at the pillows and this cute (if I do say so myself) brooch.

All right, I've done my good deed for the day. I can go back to being my regular cranky self now. Thank god.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sew what

I know I've only lost six pounds of the regained weight, but I must say it's already made a difference. It's no longer a struggle to get into my jeans and the focus on healthy eating has made me feel better in general.

But I still suck with the running. One three-miler last week and jack-all since then. Eight weeks to the half marathon and I'm still not feeling it. I really need to find a way to hobble the Sloth Monster that has taken hold of my motivation.

In other news, I'm up to my ears in work and yet I still find time to fart around. After I made the prototype ID tag (by the way, I have an entirely new design for it which I plan to sew up once I actually start running again), I made my first ever pillow. Then, a few days later, I made another to accompany it.
Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy.

They were simple sewing projects but I am super proud of them. You'd think I'd invented the wheel or something. I've got a slew of crafting projects in my head now which is not convenient since I've got a bunch of work to catch up on first. Oh, and get some running in too.

Stupid responsibilities.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Safety first

I have yet to make a definitive decision on my quandary. Option #3 is still quite tempting. However, I did run three miles yesterday and my weigh-in this morning revealed I've lost another three pounds (woo!).

Lately I've been concerned with safety. On Saturday there was an accident at the end of my block. I couldn't see exactly what had happened but the screams of an injured woman and the mass exodus of my neighbors out of their homes led me to believe that it wasn't good. I fully realized then that if I was hurt or incapacitated in any way, no one close to me would know about it. I immediately got on the horn to a friend who agreed to be my local emergency contact should anything bad happen and I passed on the appropriate contact info to my family and vice versa.

I also decided it was past due for me to carry some sort of ID with me when I run. None of my running clothes have pockets, so I never carry a phone or ID on me--the only exception being when I was training for my second marathon and I had a fuel belt. I looked into a Road ID, but the cost and the fact that my address and contact info change quite frequently were pretty big cons. Instead, I chose to make my own.

Say hello to the prototype Xenia shoe ID tag.

A few weeks ago I invested in a sewing machine. I used to be quite crafty in the states, but shelved all that when I moved to England and lived like a nomad. Well, no longer. The economy is shit and I'm on a budget. It's time to Make, Do and Mend. And Make and Do, I did.

On Sunday I went to the local fabric shop and rummaged around in the remainder bin and came up with a huge piece of vinyl and almost a meter of an off-white fabric that felt like a picnic tablecloth. I figured it might be somewhat water-resistant so went with it. In total, I spent £2.20 ($3.60) and I have enough material to make at least a hundred of these bands. Score one for frugality!

I wore it on Tuesday's run and it was great--didn't mess with my laces and it weighs virtually nothing. Besides neater stitching and more accurate cutting, I need to find a way to protect the open end of the vinyl from the elements. But for right now, everything's peachy. And like at Cheers, everyone will know my name.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Excuses

The last time I ran was July 30th. The time before that was on July 13th. I’m supposed to be training for a half marathon in October. My training plan is not going so well.

There’s always an excuse why I can’t go for my planned run.
  • I went to bed super late the night before and need more sleep so can’t run in the morning.
  • I’m in the office during the day, so can’t run then.
  • It’s raining or it looks like it’s going to rain.
  • If I went for a run when I got home I’d have to wait ages to cook dinner and then eat it and I’m already pretty hungry when I get home.
  • I can’t run after I eat because that’s just painful.
  • And now it’s too dark to run.
Lather, rinse, repeat.

No matter how much I’d like to deny it, I know what’s at the root of all these excuses. Let me explain.

I’ve been avoiding stepping on the scale for a while. The last time I weighed myself was in April. The number was not great—I was only five pounds away from my highest recorded weight ever. But somehow I was able to ignore this threat and continued to live a life of sloth and gluttony. I’ve hardly done anything remotely athletic and I’ve been eating everything in sight, particularly anything made of bread and/or sugar.

I continued to ignore the sight of my bloated face in the mirror and the ‘shrinking’ of my clothes. But on Wednesday of last week I bit the bullet and stepped on the scale and saw what I should have expected to see. I’d reached my maximum weight again. Fuck.

All the work I did almost four years ago to shed 35 pounds has been wasted. I’m a lard-ass again. I’m seriously disappointed in myself.

But on that same day I managed to make myself proud. After a few minutes of self-flagellation and berating the scale for being such a know-it-all, I got off my butt and cleaned out my kitchen. All the junk food went in the rubbish bin. Then I went to the grocery store and stocked up on real food. I dusted off my old food journal and began recording what and when I ate. I concentrated on the positives—drink plenty of water, eat five fruit and vegetables each day and make sure I’m actually hungry before I put food in my mouth.

I weighed myself again this week and I was down three pounds. Well done, me!

But still no running.

The re-accumulated weight has made running an arduous chore rather than the joy it used to be. Running with the extra weight takes A LOT more effort and I feel it dragging me down every single step of the way. I haven’t run with a watch in ages, so I’m not bothered by my time. I was slow before so it doesn’t matter. What bothers me is that running isn’t comfortable anymore. I feel like Jabba the Hut with my fat rolls flapping as I huff and puff, red-faced, down the road.

The half marathon is in just over nine weeks. I have three options.
  • Option #1: I can take a loss on the £45 ($73) registration fee and not run the race.
  • Option #2: I can stop being such a self-conscious ninny, get back on my training plan of three measly runs a week and run that damn half marathon.
  • Option #3: Vodka and Chaka Khan.
So, Peanut Gallery, what say you?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The foreigner


I’ve lived in England since 2005, but it hasn’t been until I moved to Port Nerd that I’ve actually felt like I live in this country. Nerdtown was quite an international town and at least half if not more of the people there were from elsewhere in the world. I actually knew relatively few English people in comparison to other nationalities, particularly North Americans.

Since moving to Port Nerd though, I finally feel like I live in a proper English city. That’s not to say there aren’t people from elsewhere living here; but I encounter more English people than anyone else. I have a desk in a large shared office at the department and I’m the only non-English person in it.

I’ve also encountered more people who are curious about my nationality. Unlike Madonna, Gwenyth Paltrow and other pretentious American twats, my American accent has not changed one bit since I’ve moved here. Granted, I use some British English words instead of American ones on a regular basis, but I do this for the sake of clarity. I live in their country so I should use their terminology in cases where the equivalent American terms may lead to a misunderstanding. That aside, after hearing me speak, the English are often quite curious to find out where I’m from. I’m usually surprised that most of them know New Hampshire exists and at least generally where it is located. And since I currently live in the county of Hampshire, I make a joke about it being only right that I spend some time living in the ‘old’ one since I grew up in the ‘new’ one.

What I find really funny is that most of them are a bit shocked to find that I’m American at all. Several colleagues, my landlord and the service representative I talked to when setting up my home internet connection all thought I was Canadian. I think this has to do with the fact that I don’t have a distinctive regional American accent. My accent is quite generic actually and I tend to be rather soft-spoken when talking to new people which is a contrast to the unfortunate yet widespread stereotype of the loud American.

It all gets even more entertaining when I’m doing fieldwork in Italy. I work on a project that is primarily composed of English and Italians researchers. When I was there in April, I was answering an English grammar question from two of my Italian colleagues (the project documentation is all in English hence the question) when one of them realized I was American and exclaimed happily “Ah! No wonder I can understand you so much better than the others.” That totally made my day. And it gave me something else to taunt my English colleagues with (besides the staples of choking at international sporting competitions, horrific dentistry and having possibly the most depressing weather in the world) when they decide to rag on my nationality.

It’s the little things (euphemistic pun intended) that make living here so much fun.

Later gators.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
ORN: I ran twice last week and done jack all so far this week. Consistency is not my forte.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Reboot

There’s 13.5 weeks until the Royal Parks half marathon. Thought I should finally start running again. So that’s what I did this morning. After six weeks of jack-all, I woke up at 6:30 and ran three miles in the rain. It was my first run in Port Nerd.

By the end of it my clothes were drenched and my sluggish movements could only barely pass for running, but I was happy for finally hitting the pavement again. I ran to the big wooded park and back. When I move in September, I’ll be living a lot closer to that park, so I’ll get to spend more time enjoying the quiet paths there than dodging vehicles on the busy city streets. I’m looking forward to it.

Unlike Nerdtown, Port Nerd is rather hilly. If I lived further north in the city, I’d have to deal with San Francisco-like terrain, but where I live it’s a lot less severe—thank god. Bad enough I’m out of shape, but throw in the hills and I feel especially winded and weak.

By the way, the high for today is supposed to be about 60 F (15 C). On Monday we’re apparently going to inch into the low 70s but then come back down to the 60s thereafter. Typical English summer.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Change of scene


The move is complete. I now live in my new city which I have dubbed Port Nerd. Port Nerd is quite different from Nerdtown. It’s bigger and less picturesque (it had the hell bombed out of it during WWII), but it has greater shopping options (especially for someone without a car) and a cheaper standard of living. It’s also on the south coast so there’s usually a nice sea breeze to be enjoyed.

So far I’m happy with the change in living situations. I’m currently in a temporary apartment until my permanent one is ready in September. I’ve left some of my stuff in boxes, because I don’t want to deal with repacking it again in a few months. Since my last apartment was fully furnished, it’s a bit sparse for furniture around here. I’m actually still waiting for my mattress to be delivered (come on Wednesday!) so I’m sleeping on an air mattress. Surprisingly it’s quite comfortable.

I realize most of you (Americans) are enjoying the end of your long weekend, celebrating our independence from the imperialist bastards whose country I inhabit. My English bosses have seen fit to schedule a big meeting for today. How kind of them. So while you all are eating hamburgers and putting sparklers in inappropriate places, I’ll be stuck in a meeting imagining a spectacular patriotic display wherein I escape the meeting, hijack a cargo boat full of PG Tips (that would be tea, people) and set it on fire in the harbor with “AMERICA RULZ, BRITAIN DROOLS” painted on the sides.

A girl can dream.

Happy 4th, my fellow Americans. To my international readers, happy Monday. Try not to kill anyone, mkay.

Later gators.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Law of the land

Today’s forecast was for heavy rain. When I woke up super late this morning (thanks insomnia), I peeked out the window – the skies looked ominous and had already begun to sprinkle. Needing little encouragement, I decided to forgo my run. The kicker? Now it’s over five hours later and it has yet to downpour. But I know the moment I step outside to get that run in, the heavens will open. My life forever abides by Sod’s Law.

It’s been almost four weeks since the last time I laced up my running shoes and hit the pavement and I’m definitely feeling the effects. I’m sluggish, not sleeping well, eating horribly and am generally an anti-social grump. Well, okay, that last one is my normal state, but it’s actually gotten worse. I’m scarier than usual now. It’s rather frightening actually.

I’d say I feel like a sloth, but every time I think of a sloth now, I remember this image:

Adorable, no?

Yeah, I can never get anywhere near this level of cute. The bags under my eyes and especially the nice blue tint to the under eye skin which I fear is now permanent have forever destroyed that possibility.

So I sit here in my slovenly state—loose pj top, hooded cardigan and sweatpants rolled up to my knees—editing yet another chapter which is taking ages longer than expected thanks to a chance find this morning of a page in one of my notebooks full of my supervisor’s comments on an earlier draft of said chapter....which I never got around to completing. Go me.

I’m supposed to be moving next week. Have I packed yet? Hell no. I’m still working on the damned dissertation and trying not to cry when I take a look at my to-do list on my whiteboard. So many things listed, not enough crossed out. Bah.

Hey, speaking of my dissertation and self-imposed life of nerdery, you have my permission to hunt me down and smack me soundly if I ever even remotely sound like this ass-hat.



Seriously. What an uppity bitch. Someone’s mother didn’t raise them right.

Speaking of mothers (don’t you just love my lame segues today?), my mom is embarking on a campaign of epic proportions. As of Wednesday, Momma X quit smoking. She’s been a smoker for 40 years, people, so this is no small matter. I know some of you are ex-smokers or are close to those who are so if you have any advice or words of encouragement for Momma X, they would be greatly appreciated.

All right, folks, that it for me. Have a great weekend.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Op Ed

This post has too many words and needed an image, so here you go.

It’s been over two weeks now and I still haven’t run. Bah.

Because of this running lull, I’ve been steering clear of reading running blogs lately so as not to remind myself of my running failure. But I’m reminded of it all the same thanks to the soul-crushing worthless time-suck that is Facebook.

Some of the people I went to high school with (who tracked me down on FB and now I can’t seem to shake) have recently taken up running. Some have just completed their first races. They’re proud of their accomplishment as they should be because it is an achievement. However, there’s one girl who is driving me up a wall. She has a Nike thing which posts her distances every time she runs. All her status updates are about running and of course most of her photos too. She yaks on and on about races and the like on a daily basis, clogging my newsfeed and severely taxing my few remaining functional brain cells.

All I want to say to her is: You like to run, we get it. SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY!!!

Now granted I have a running blog and follow a bunch of running blogs (when not trying to ignore my personal lack of running, that is). However, when I did have a running life, I very rarely shared it on FB. I posted some photos of my first ever race, first marathon and then the costumed races I’ve done but that’s pretty much it. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about daily runs or race results or anything like that. That’s pretty much because running is personal to me and I’d like to keep it that way. My close friends and family know about it but that’s it. Except for the blog of course. But here I get to be anonymous (or pretend I am anyway). Also, I know that the people who do visit my blog probably have an interest in running since it’s one of the main themes (or at least used to be).

I know part of my objection to this girl’s overly publicized running craze is because I’m jealous – jealous of her enthusiasm and dedication. She’s running probably four to five days a week and she’s doing it because she wants to, because it makes her happy. I can’t even manage one run in a two week span and the only reason I feel the need to run right now is because I’m worried about my weight.

Where did my love for running go? Well it would appear to be stuck under the crushing burden of a dissertation, new job, moving house, etc. You know, real life. It’s still there. It’s just going to take a bit of time to unbury it. But it will happen, I know this. I just need to be patient.

The main reason this girl bothers me is because she’s being a massive attention-seeking whore. In the beginning, she was getting what she wanted – lots of people commenting about how amazing she was, etc. Now however, a couple months in, those comments are few and far between. Unfortunately this hasn’t decreased the frequency of her postings. She will now join the ranks of those people I’ve blocked from my newsfeed—mainly overly political types, new parents who post hundreds of photos and hourly updates on their offspring, and my emo 18-year old cousin with her ‘I’m upset but don’t want to talk about it’ statuses.

Now I’ve probably offended a bunch of you, but that was not my intention. I admit to having a double standard. Before I instituted a moratorium on friending people on FB whom I’d never met in real life, I did friend some bloggers. You share your blogs, training stories and photos on FB, but I expect and want to hear that from you. You also share other aspects of your lives, funny links and the like. The key is it’s all done in moderation. That’s the way it should be.

All right, time for me to fall off my high horse and get back to work. Later gators.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Meh

I didn't run last week. Have yet to run this week. Last month's running mileage didn't even average 5 miles per week.

Pathetic.

But I don't have time to be too bothered by it or the fact that I feel like a beached whale. I'm still dealing with the dissertation that won't die. After two trips last week to my new town to view apartments and a false hope about one, I finally got an apartment. Well, I'll be moving into a studio this month until renovation of my one-bedroom apartment is completed in September. The wait and the double move will be worth it though.

Today I stopped in to the department to drop off some forms. Since I was there I thought it was about time I took the rest of my stuff out of my locker as I'll be packing over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the move. It was a little more depressing than I had anticipated. I didn't have much left--a few books, a notebook, a pencil case, a couple of mementos.

I also nicked my mug. The department kitchen has a hodgepodge of mugs left there over the years. I randomly picked one when I started working there and have used it religiously ever since.

The Fish of Meh.

Now I can't bear to give it up, so it's moving with me. And I thought I wasn't sentimental. Ha!

On an(other) unrelated note, how the hell is it June already?! Where did the first five months of this year go? I want my money back dammit!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Something's missing

Another work week coming to a close, another three morning runs completed. I’ll get in a solo run this weekend too for a total of four runs. It feels good to be building my running habit back up. Still only doing baby runs, but I’ll work on increasing those distances in the weeks to come in preparation for my half marathon training which will kick off in late July.

I’m still in full on apartment hunting mode. Monday is set to be a busy day with two work meetings and at least three apartment viewings, though I’m looking to add a few more. When apartments are advertized here, the signage doesn’t say “For Rent”. Instead, it says “To Let”.

That’s one letter away from toilet. So of course that’s what I think every time I see one of these signs. Maturity, I has it.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Joy and sorrow


I triumphed last week! I ran ten miles, my first double digit weekly mileage of 2011. About damn time. I also ran on Monday with Red so this week is off to a good start too. It makes me happy.

What doesn’t make me happy is trying to find a new apartment before July 1st. Complicating the situation is that my new city is an hour and a half away from Nerdtown by train, so I’m having to load up apartment viewings into one day when I’ll already be in town for a staff meeting at my job. Bah. My hope of getting a cat in the near future is also being dashed as almost no landlord will allow pets. Douchenozzles.

In turn, my current apartment is being viewed by prospective tenants. There was a bit of a cock-up yesterday as the estate agent and prospective tenant arrived unannounced for a morning viewing. Thankfully I was showered and dressed, but I had to make a mad dash to collect my dirty clothes off the floor before I could let them in. Kinda forgot about the bras and running socks drying in the bathroom though. Eh, can’t win them all.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Miracle in Nerdtown

I’ve been back almost a week and I’m still eating like I’m in Italy (miniscule breakfast, normal lunch, big afternoon snack and a really late dinner). However, I am sleeping much better here thanks to not being right next to a bakery which woke me up every morning at 6ish with the revving up of its squeaky mixing machine. Oh, and I’m also running again.

Yes, you read that right. I’ve actually been running. THREE TIMES this week. It’s a miracle! Someone call Benny with the news.

Now that I’m back in Nerdtown, I’ve been running with Red again. Unlike her running mentor (improbably, that’s me), she kept up running a two mile route three times a week while I was away. And I did squat. I like to lead by example, you know.

When I returned, she wanted to run together again, so I chose a different route for us and made her run an extra 0.7 miles because I’m an awesome friend that way. We took it easy and did the two mile route this morning since we were both feeling groggy.

All in all I’m happy to get back into the swing of things. I’m even hoping to get in a solo run this weekend to bring my weekly mileage into the double digits...for the first time this year. God, I’ve been a slacker. No time like the present to change that though.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Italian potpourri


Things from the past few weeks:

I ran once in April. Only once. I think my photo may now be found next to the dictionary entry for ‘pathetic’. Go me.

I really need to strength train. In particular, I need to do squats. My butt and thigh muscles are killing me right now.

Going into Rome the day before Pope JP was beatified was a stupid idea. However I did score this beauty:

Say hello to the Lollipope. How many people get to say they licked the pope? Probably too many actually...

My English bosses have scheduled an important meeting on July 4th. I’m sure it was intentional too. Damn colonial oppressors!

I return to England this weekend whereupon I need to start looking for a new flat in my new city while working and finishing up that pesky dissertation. Yes, it’s still not submitted. And no, I don’t want to hear what you have to say about that. Mmmkay.

Overall my time here in Italy has been busy but super fun. And I have the bonus of knowing I get to return again in the near future. Because really, nothing beats a nice piece of Italian ass.

Later gators.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Yeah

The knees are feeling better, but still no running. I'm too tired to bother after coming back from the site in the evenings and currently too lazy to wake up early. Something's gotta give though. I need to run. I live and work with the same group of people and have little time to myself which is driving this semi-loner a bit demented.

Anyhoo, enough of my whinging. Here's some photos.

I attended a conference last week in this room. I have no idea what any of the papers were about.

Viagra ice cream. No, I didn't try it.

This photo does not do the sunset justice. The sun was bright pink. Amazing.

Monday, 11 April 2011

First week

Currently my knees are taking it in turns to cause me pain. Unsurprisingly, I have not run in the last week. This week will pretty much be a loss too since I have to go to a conference. Maybe Sunday. Knees willing.

Oh, this is also where I'm currently working.



My new employment may be hell on my knees (t.w.s.s.), but it has its perks.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Away away

This has nothing to do with the post, but I really thought I should include a photo with all this text. Today is Mother's Day in the UK and this is what I made for my mother.

No, I’m not done yet. The supervisor is reading the full rough draft so she can tell me all the thousands of lovely corrections I need to make when I get back.

Get back, you ask? Yeah, about that...

Officially my job started on Friday April 1st. Does that mean my job is a joke? To most people in the world—probably. Anyway, it actually begins tomorrow because I’m flying to Italy for five weeks of fieldwork and conferencing with a side of additional dissertation research because obviously I can never do enough of that. I’ll be missing out on all the fanfare of the royal wedding, but I now have paid employment and a reason to get out of Nerdtown for an extended period of time so I won’t complain.

While I’m in Carbo-Load Land, I’ll also be running. I’ve been running three days per week here with Red doing the Couch to 5K program. We’ve reached Week 7 so she’s running 25 consecutive minutes now and doing great. She’ll continue with C25K while I’m away and, as an act of solidarity, I’m planning on running three days per week in Italy.

Besides my regular walking and cycling, the C25K runs have been the only exercise I’ve gotten in the last two months. I finally killed my gym membership after bleeding money for months. Add in my abysmal stress-induced eating habits and you’ve got one extra slow fat cranky runner. I haven’t weighed myself since January, but I know I’ve done considerable damage since then. I’m weighing myself Monday morning before I leave for the airport so I know how much of an affect fieldwork (aka Fat Camp) has on me.

Other than my general poor health and attitude, I have another good reason for getting back into running shape again – I entered the ballot for the Royal Parks Foundation half marathon and actually scored a bib. I’ll be running that bad-boy in October, so in theory there’s plenty of time for me to shed some poundage and get some decent mileage going. The first quarter of the year may have sucked big hairy monkey balls for running and dissertating, but I have a feeling there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Granted that light may in fact be an oncoming train, but I’ll take what I can get right now.

I hope to post while I’m away, but I make no promises. Pretty much my standard MO these days, no?

Anyway, hope you’re all doing well. Catch you later.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

My furbaby

You were the best gift a fifteen year old girl could have ever received. Even knowing you have lived a life well-loved by the entire X family, your loss is no easier to bear. I’m just so sorry we didn’t know you were in pain sooner. Know we will always love you and we miss you now terribly. Rest in peace, my wonderful furbaby.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Once more with feeling

The next few weeks are going to be a bit epic for me.


So I thought I’d let you know I’m officially going on bloggy hiatus.

Yes, again.

I’ll still be running a few miles here and there.
But otherwise my life will be preoccupied with other things.



I’ll catch up with you guys when I can return.


Signing off from jolly old England,
-X

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Speed bumps

Previously I mentioned that I am doing the Couch to 5K program with my friend, Red. Well, there have been some issues. A day after the first run, Red experienced some mild lower back pain. We thought this was just the normal muscles aches from starting a new exercise program. A day after the second run, Red had severe back pain for the next few days. We have no idea what happened. Red’s running form seemed fine, she’s got decent trainers and she regularly cycles.

So we took a week off and tried again yesterday. The run went fine, but shortly after she got back home, she proceeded to vomit uncontrollably. She was fine an hour later, just tired. Today she’s doing fine and *knock on wood* doesn’t have any back pain or stomach upset whatsoever.

We’re going to continue with re-doing Week 1 of the program this week as long as there are no further problems. It seems the stomach issue was a one-off thing, but if you guys have any insight into the potential causes of the back pain, we’d be interested in hearing them.

Say that again?
My mobile (sorry, cell phone) has predictive text. I leave it on because it increases my texting speed which can be categorized as glacial at best. However, sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth. A recent text to my friend Geordie was meant to say “I have tea and snacks here if you want to come over.” Instead it changed ‘snacks’ to ‘smacks’. Inviting, no?

The phone also regularly types ‘ho’ in place of ‘in’. You think it’s trying to tell me something?

Earworm Special
I watched a movie trailer today for a film called Take Me Home Tonight. Wanna guess what song was in the trailer? Here ya go.



Later gators.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Flowers, chocolate and heartburn

This is the Valentine’s Day card I’m giving this year.



It was designed by Larissa at mmmcrafts (and I also stole her photos). Click here to download and print your own copy to give to the one you loathe love hate mildly tolerate.

Last week sucked big hairy monkey balls for work and running. This week does not look to be much better. I’ll spare you my usual bitch-fit.


I’m a bit surprised about the lack of Richard Armitage knowledge amongst my readership. Well, not so much in respect to the guys. Unless you swing that way. In which case I totally support you. Wear it proud!

Anyhoo, Richard Armitage is (obviously) a swoon-worthy Brit actor. I know him best from the last season of Vicar of Dibley and the 2004 BBC mini-series of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. He’s also been in several television series here including Spooks and Robin Hood. In the latter they had him wearing so much leather and eye make-up that he unfortunately resembled Alice Cooper. Eh, can’t win them all.

I predict Richard will soon garner recognition away from this sun-deprived little island. He’s in the Captain America movie that will be coming out soon and is currently filming The Hobbit in New Zealand with Peter Jackson. He’s playing a dwarf in that. I’m sure he’ll be a hot dwarf. Ok, I should probably seek counselling now.

That’s it for me, bitches. Catch up with you....someday. Maybe.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The agony and the ecstasy

This pretty much sums up my world right now.


I ran three times last week. Planning to do so again this week. Other than that, not much to say unless you want me to bitch about how the dissertation is doing my head in. So instead I'll expand your cultural horizons and leave you with the lovely Richard Armitage.

Later gators.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My precious

I forgot to show you guys what Santa gave me for Christmas.

No, not a lump of coal. Smart asses.

Best. Running. Partner. Ever.

No more bothersome armband to deal with. The only issue now (besides the fact I ended that last sentence in a preposition) is getting used to the touch control thing (t.w.s.s.). I have an old school cell phone so I'm not up on the whole iPhone touch pad thing that my new little ipod nano has. Sometimes I change the song without realizing it. I'll learn one of these days.

I usually clip it to the collar of my shirt when I go for a run. So far my sweat hasn't bothered it but since it's winter I don't sweat all that much. The true test will be summer running. Perhaps by then Apple will have created a chic little wetsuit for it. WANT!

Anyway, Happy Hump Day, everyone. And for all of you who just got buried in a foot plus of snow...sucks to be you.

Later gators.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Back to basics


It’s the end of the month—time to see how I did on my January goals.

(1) Run a New Year’s Day race – CHECK.
(2) Lose 5 pounds – FAIL. My scale is a bit dodgy. In the space of a minute, it gave me four different weights. I could have lost two pounds or gained two pounds. I’m taking the average and calling it a draw.
(3) Complete two chapters – CHECK ...on the quantity. Not so much the quality, but that’s what editing is for, right?
(4) do a 13.1 mile walk/run – BIG. FAT. FAIL. Especially considering my total January running mileage was a whopping 14 miles. Sweet baby Jesus, that’s sad.

So I end up with a 50% completion rate on my January goals. Add in that I scored a job this month too and that racks it up to 1050% which means I win a treat of my choosing. And I choose to get a spa facial. It also helps that I can get a facial at a mondo discount in February since it’s the low season or whatever for that type of stuff. Sweet.

I’m bummed that I didn’t run a half marathon distance this month, but I didn’t set out a proper plan to get in the appropriate training to run that distance so it’s not a surprise.

Things will be different for my February goals. I’m going to have to put aside training for the half marathon distance. I’ll be starting my job in April which means I have a month less to complete my dissertation. I’ll be working longer hours until then so getting in long long-runs is just not an option. And with my current shite level of fitness, 13.1 miles would sadly take me almost three hours to complete. Crickey.

My two goals for February are:

(1) Run three times per week
(2) Keep a daily food journal

I need to get back into a healthy routine that will fit into my rather daunting work schedule for the next two months, hence these goals. The point of the food journaling is to remind myself when I’ve eaten my treat for the day and to put down that enticing Cadbury creme egg and back away slowly.

In addition to my own runs, I’m also running the Couch to 5K program with a friend. She’s hit a plateau with her weight loss recently and was getting frustrated. Since I need a reminder of why I love to run, I offered to do the program with her. We did Week 1 Day 1 this morning and she did a great job. I was the time-keeper so I sneakily added in an extra running repetition. I told her afterward and she was really chuffed at how well she did. We’re set to run Day 2 on Wednesday.

So that’s the situation here in Xenia-land. I hope you are all doing well and staying warm. Catch up with you when I can.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Exposing myself

Thank you all for the kind words on the last post. Oddly enough, the reality of it still hasn’t hit me. Probably because I still have yet to discuss the actual details with my new boss. That should be sometime today, I believe.

Yesterday I finally cracked and went for my first run in just over two weeks—a simple three miler. There was A LOT of rust to knock off—lots of phantom twinges and my legs felt like lead. My time for that run was god awful, but that’s to be expected with the lack of any kind of training over the last few months.

Today I’m actually a bit sore from the run, mostly my thighs and calves but it’s not bad. Just a reminder that I need to get off my ass more often.

Since I have nothing else of interest to say, I thought I’d appease the Grand Poobah Nitmos and help perpetuate his internet meme. He showed us his, so now it’s time for me to show you mine.

No, not like that, pervs.

Here’s my home 'office'.

The desk and chair I inherited from my friend Canadia when she moved. The desk is a bit too tall for the chair so I have to sit on my folded up quilt so my arms don’t fall asleep while I’m typing. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you guys, but it does to me.

This little stand came with the apartment. Since my desk is really only a table, I purchased some baskets and then shoved my office supplies in them. My printer-scanner is also on the stand, on top of which I put my eyeglass case (no idea why) and various cords. That’s my file container and a small storage bin under the desk which I put my feet on sometimes. There’s not a huge amount of space in my flat so that’s the only place it can go really.

The books, articles and random notes I need to consult on a frequent basis piled on my table since my desk cannot handle the load (that’s what she said).

Totally interesting, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Anyhoo, that’s it from me. Hope those experiencing arctic temperatures get a reprieve from Old Man Winter soon. Stay warm, everyone!

Later gators.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Holding my breath wasn't such a good idea

You weren't the only ones who had to wait an extra three days to find out the news. My weekend was a bit of a mess to say the least. Ironically, the long-awaited email was sent to me today when I had just left the house for a run.

I got the job!

This means I'll be living in England a bit longer. I'll also be moving to a new town at some point. I still have to hash out the details with my new employer. Oh, and I still need to finish my dissertation.

Better get on that.

Thank you all for your patience and support. I really appreciate it.

Much love,
-X

Thursday, 20 January 2011

With bated breath

My future is being decided tomorrow. That’s when I find out if I got the job or not. Until then I’ve got a chapter draft to finish, a flat to clean, clothes to wash, some running to finally do and my sanity to find.

Or I can continue to freak out whilst staring at the wall.

It’s a toss up really.

Please think happy employment thoughts for me. And since I need all the good karma I can get right now, I’d like to ask that you also help out Georgia Snail’s very deserving sister and her wonderful fiancĂ©e have a chance at winning an all expenses paid wedding. Go here for details.

Later gators.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Dualled

Besides finishing my dissertation and obtaining gainful employment, I’ve had another major issue to worry myself silly over—deportation.

My student visa expires at the end of this month and the money-grubbing English government wanted hundreds of pounds for me to extend the damn thing for a few months. My response? Hell to the NO!

As I mentioned once a long time ago, I’m actually a dual citizen. This was officially obtained in 2007, but I needed to apply separately for a passport. Obtaining a passport hadn’t been a big priority then since I had my student visa at that time. Obviously now my situation has changed, especially since there is a possibility of me staying in the UK to work.

In September, I contacted the embassy to set up an appointment for my passport application. They called back and gave me an appointment in November. So off to London I went in mid-November. The process should have taken no more than 20 minutes to complete. It ended up taking over two hours. At the end of the whole thing, I asked when I could expect to pick up my passport. To quote the embassy official: “This varies. The materials are submitted by embassy courier. Unfortunately for you, he left yesterday. He goes again in two weeks.”

Fantastic.

Over the holidays, I’d been thinking through worst-case scenarios if the passport didn’t come through this month. Basically, I’d have to exit and re-enter the country and promise to stay in the UK no longer than a regular tourist visa allows (either 3 or 6 months—can’t remember at the moment). However, this would make me ineligible to work and possibly invalidate me for the NHS (National Health Service). Also, it’s technically illegal to finish your degree here whilst not on a student visa. Oopsie.

I have a friend in Brussels who is more than happy for me to come for a visit, so not only would I get to see an old friend and avoid violating the terms of my visa, I’d also get to visit a new country and possibly even title a blog post “In Bruges”. That sounds like a win-win to me minus the whole unemployed and illegal status thing.

Things took a turn today though. After waking up at 1 pm (f*cking jetlag), I turned on my mobile and five minutes later I got a call from the embassy to say that my passport is in and I can pick it up as soon as possible. YAY!!! So unless there’s a dissolution of the EU (never say never), I can no longer be deported from Europe unless I commit a heinous crime (never say never). WOOHOO!

I will head into London tomorrow to pick up my new passport. In theory this should only take five minutes. I’ll expect to be there for five hours anyway. You never know with these people.

Oh, and that trip to Belgium? It’s still going to happen. Only now I won’t be worried about being refused re-entrance into the UK. Sweet.

Now if I could just stop worrying that I’ve used up my allotment of good luck on this and now won’t get that job, all would be well. Guess I’ll have to wait a little longer to find out about that.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My monthlies

Back from Texas and now I’m off to England—as long as the inclement weather forecasted for late this evening does not appear earlier than anticipated to mess with my flight. I had a great time in the Lone Star state and hope to return again someday...but only when my digestive system has fully recovered. I love Tex Mex food but it appears my colon does not. I was not the only conference goer to come to this realization. Bit of a shitty situation, but most of us survived to poop another day.

Busted booty
The Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge ended on Friday. My personal goal was to achieve a total of 200 points. I only got 129. I missed my goal, but at least I did better this time than in the first challenge when I think I peaked at about 30 total points. Big improvement, no? Eh, I’ll take it.

Viva la non-resolution
I hate resolutions. I think they’re a sure-fire way to guarantee failure. You’re all gung-ho about them for the first few weeks or possibly even months of the year but then everything goes tits up so by the time December rolls around you feel like a failure and gorge on holiday treats to numb the pain. Think I’m being cynical? Well, take a look at all those tv morning programs. They’re full to bursting with segments about “New Year, New You” in January, but you won’t hear another word about it until December when the anchors are all laughing at their own failed resolutions.

I may hate resolutions, but I’m all about goals, particularly SMART goals. This year I’ll be working towards specific and reasonable monthly goals. I figure it’s much easier to stay focused on a goal for 30 days rather than 365, so I’ll have a better chance at success. It’ll also prevent me from getting too bogged down in details with thinking too far ahead which I have a tendency to do.

For January, I have four goals:
  • run a New Year’s Day race
  • complete two chapters
  • lose 5 pounds
  • do a 13.1 mile run/walk
As you may know, I’ve already completed the first goal. Go me! I’m now in the final stages of my dissertation (no, really!), so I need to make sure I make consistent progress. This month I need to complete two in-progress chapter drafts to stay on track.

In 2011, I want to get my fitness back. I need to focus on controlled weight loss to get rid of the 2010 gain and also get back to regular and longer running. My longest run since May has only been 4 miles. This has to change. Long runs need to be incorporated back into my running routine which is why, barring anything unexpected (*knock on wood*), I hope to do a half marathon run each month. Striving for that distance requires that I maintain decent weekly mileage and getting in one or two long runs of 8-10 miles each month to prevent injury. Ideally I’d sign up for a half marathon race each month, but I don’t have the funds for that.

So far this month I’ve only run twice—the New Year’s Day race and a 2.5 mile treadmill run at my Texas hotel. I’m gonna need to be careful not to court injury with increasing my mileage too quickly which is why my goal is to run/walk 13.1 miles this month. It’ll take me forever and a day to complete it, but it’ll be worth it.

Metamorphosis
As you may have noticed (if you’re not viewing this from a reader), I’ve changed my blog including the name and my profile image. I know some of you thought I should leave well enough alone, but I couldn’t. As a woman, I of course retain the right to change my mind at any moment so god knows what further changes I’ll implement. Let me know what you think of what I’ve done so far. I may even give a shit about what you say. It’s a long shot, but you never know.

All right, folks, I’ve got a plane to catch. Hope you’re all doing well. I’ll catch up with you again when I’m back across the pond.

Later gators.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Post postponed

I said I was going to write another post this week about my goals for the new year and all that jazz, but that ain't happening. I'm in Texas, but not where any of my bloggy buddies live apparently. Balls. Anyhoo, I'm having a good time, but I also have to work so not much time for blogging.

Catch you all next week.

Later gators.

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year's Day 5K

Guess who got her fat ass out for a run on New Year’s Day?

This girl.

I’ve been meaning to run a 5K on New Year’s for the last three years, but only got my act together this year. Perhaps it was the result of a little HBBC motivation since I’m totally counting this as a Resolution Run to score three extra points. It also didn’t hurt that we were experiencing a mini-heat wave (which unfortunately is now over) with temps topping out in the 40s. Nice!

My sister Z and her other half, Jolly Green, came along to cheer me on. The race took place in a small NH town I’d never been to before. There were almost 200 runners and walkers participating. After registering and taking a short warm-up jog around the block, we were all herded towards the start line.

Since I knew I was going to be super slow, I tried to stay towards the back of the pack but in front of the walkers. As I was waiting, Z ran up to me for a last minute hug and then said “Looks like it’s going to be uphill.”

Yeah. That was an understatement.

The start was right at the bottom of a very steep hill. That’s when I started having flashbacks to my first half marathon, which also took place in NH, and how hilly that thing was. I was in for it.

So the race started and I managed to drag my ass up that hill in some semblance of a run. Woo! After that it was hill after hill after hill. Mostly rolling hills but there were also three whopping huge uphills to deal with.

The race took place on country back roads which were not closed off to traffic. Thankfully there wasn’t much of that to contend with anyway so it was cool.

About a mile in a woman jogged up beside me and just started talking. Her presence and conversation helped take my mind off the hills that just kept coming. At one point there was a group of four of us running together, all chatting away about this and that. This was a new experience for me. It’s not that the English aren’t nice people, but, on the whole, they’re reserved so it’s not often that people chat with strangers mid run or are so openly friendly.

The first lady, N, and I stayed together for the rest of the race. Near the end, we rounded a curve and I saw a massive hill in front of us. I couldn’t contain the “Oh shit” that came out of my mouth at the sight of it. N immediately said, “Don’t look at it! Keep your eyes on the ground and keep going.” And that’s what I did.

I crawled my way up that behemoth of a hill and then up the remaining gentle incline towards the finish chute.

I scored a MASSIVE personal worst in this race. How slow was I? Let’s put it this way, I ran a faster pace during both of my marathons than I did in this 5K. Yeah, that slow. The hills were a factor but my performance can mostly be put down to general lack of fitness which has declined significantly in the last seven or so months. My race result didn’t and still has not diminished my joy though. I’m just so happy I got back out there again.

The furball was proud of my accomplishment too. Can't you tell?

After finishing I thanked N for staying with me during the race and then we went back into the town hall to partake in the post-race spread. There were orange wedges, bagels, soups and cookies of almost every variety and all were homemade. Tasty doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve prattled on long enough. I’ll talk about my on-going battle with PF, goals and various other stuff later this week. Hope you have all enjoyed the first few days of the new year. Catch up with you when I can.

Later gators.