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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
9:08 pm - Chicago
When traveling around holiday weekends, it usually makes the airfare wickedly cheaper to stay an extra day or so. Now that my mom has moved out of Wisconsin, it was the first time I felt no guilt spending that extra day back in downtown Chicago instead of with family.

I was fascinated by Chicago throughout my few college years, and even quit school to pursue my goals of combining the music industry with the budding web industry. I did pretty well with said goal, even considering I barely made enough money to live on.

I think I spent just under two years actually living and working in Chicago before moving out to San Francisco. So by that math, I've been on the west coast 7 times longer than my residence in the Windy City.

So why did I feel so many ghosts when I was back there for a mere 24 hours? How could I still remember the street names and buildings of those I had dated, point out the grocery stores where I did the most mundane of errands, still keep the L Map in my head like a tattoo? Oh sure, plenty had changed without me: the new Millennium park was amazing with its reflective bean, hipster bars abounded and men with luscious beards tended them, the corn cob buildings were gone, etc. But the ghosts still raised all the hair on my arms when a set of glass doors slid open at the Field Museum and I was transported back to a drunken curiosity when they did the same at 3am.

("We swear," we slurred to the security guard. "We did not think that was going to happen, we just wanted to put our noses on the glass and look at the T-Rex.")

I am glad to have had Topher with me, whose naturally adventurous mindset took me to some new neighborhoods and restaurants, places with no history for me, so that my brain didn't get stuck in the skipping "what ifs" and "what ever happened tos". But even with the size of that city, it was inevitable I'd end up on a recognizable sidewalk, mentally flooded, and dumb.

Maybe I can't ever move back. I'm scared I'd get stuck as my young adult self, hungry for experiences, desperate for respect, always feeling like I was fighting something. Whereas now, home, there is a sense of enlightenment in my being, that I can grow and be content at the same time.

And hey, besides, the weather is better here.

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Sunday, July 6th, 2014
10:05 am
Something is wrong with me. All I want to do right now is shop.

Normally, I'm a minimalist kinda person. I mean, sure, most of my stuff is big and loud, but I usually only have ONE of those particular things. This was a big change from my upbringing: my mom loved the thrill of the sales rack, online ordering and ebay, catalogs of all sorts. For instance, she would develop intricate storage systems: this box has all the red and pink lipsticks, this box for oranges and corals, this box for browns and neutrals.

Me? I have two lipsticks. When one runs out, I replace it with the exact same thing. And they're both out of production, so you'd better believe that it's getting harder as time goes on, yet I still manage. (This place and ebay are amazeballs.)

I've even taken to trying the Project333 approach to my closet, with some success.

But right now, OMG, I want mini skirts and shoes and fun yoga mats and more bikinis and hoodies and crazy strappy shirts and fuckoff Kentucky Derby hats and haaaaaaalp.

Please take my credit card away until I figure out what void I'm trying to fill, here.

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Sunday, June 15th, 2014
1:14 pm - I'm still learning but...
Most of it would not be very exciting to others, I'm afraid. I'm supposed to be giving a training to a bunch of new folks from the FDA, and I'm being grilled by my handlers on just how much I know, on the chance it turns from a "training" into an "inspection". And now I know that there are a bunch of little details I'm being scolded for not being able to answer, because, well, no one ever told me. But hey, now I know?

On a more positive note: one of the girls who works for me, in a slightly inebriated state during an off-site, gave me one of the best compliments I've ever received in my life. This is a clue that perhaps it's time to stop second-guessing my managerial skills.

I am working on my sleeve tattoo, finally. Two sessions so far, probably at least two more to go. SUUUUPER pleased so far, and it helps to have the most amazing tat artist, worth every penny! It's actually making me feel more comfortable in my skin, like these bits of art had actually been missing before. Will definitely post pictures once I'm past the final adolescent itch-n-flake stage.

Oh, and the cat seems to be better after her seizure, a middle of the night sort of panic situation. We're thinking she managed to lick off some of her Frontline from a recent application, as that's the only thing that was different about her life. But in our sleep deprived freaked out state, I remember saying to Topher: This is what being a parent is like, I suppose. Powerless, wanting to trade spots to take the pain away, guilt despite trying to do the right thing, willing to throw any amount of cash at the experts to make sure everything's OK and it will never happen again. Such is the price of love; the feeling that it could still be so fragile.

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
9:26 pm - TIL
Especially on a bicycle, but true of other tire-d things turn...

I knew that you shouldn't hit your brakes in a turn, because you either have traction to brake or to grip the road, but not necessarily both at the same time.

What I didn't know before today is that this is called the "Traction Circle":


Speaking of cycling, gorgeous bike ride into work today, even found a little dirt shortcut that shaves about a mile off the usual route. Unfortunately, I will never ever get used to the headwind on the way home. Just. No.

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Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
10:02 pm - Well, hello again Livejournal
I have decided that I am going to start using this thing more often, because yay longform!

And I am going to try to do that by trying to post something that I've learned every day, because that's something I enjoy and I figure it would be good/mildly interesting to have a solid track record of what those things were.

Today, I learned that Richard Feynman, of awesome physics fame, had a van that he painted his rather spiffy diagrams onto the side of it.


I currently find this with good timing, because I'm scoping out what I want for my sleeve tattoo, and I have decided that it's going to be math and science based, and well this fits right in. I have the Pinterest (of course) going with all sorts of diagrams, equations, molecules, and logos that have a special place in my heart. And frankly, I'm a little scared that I'm going to forget something really important, so three years from now I'll smack my head and go DAMN I FORGOT THE SPHERICAL COW and then have no where to put it.

So bring me all your spiffy science art. Huuuuurry.

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Sunday, February 16th, 2014
10:28 am - Better living through body chemistry and knowing thyself
Despite all the trauma that kicked off my year, I am happy to announce that I am now feeling beyond awesome. Seriously. As in, I haven't felt this good since I was in my 20s.

Step 1: Genesolve. The company that my husband is now working at offered me a chance to try it out since I have some background in science or something. Here's how it went: they took my blood and ran a million tests on it and I got a 5 page report back. Then, based on my ultimate goals, I was prescribed a bunch of stuff from extra vitamins to supplements to even HCG (the last of which I honestly didn't care for even if money was no object). Then three months later, more bloodwork to see how everything went, then tweaking the meds and repeat.

Now, I've always considered myself a pretty darn healthy person, what with the dropping a bunch of weight last year, lots of bike riding, knew what a deadlift was, and generally good habits. But when you find out stuff like, oh, I had so little testosterone in my body that it was unmeasurable and did you know women are supposed to have SOME testosterone, especially if you're trying to get pregnant? So one of the tools in my new kit was testosterone gel, which made most of my male friends completely jealous.

And lo, I found my sex drive. I didn't even really register that it was missing until I had this rush of hypersexualized thoughts ALL DAY (how do you guys even deal with this?) So we've been tapering the gel back as my body seems to now register how to make its own.

But, that's just one example. I'm also feeling mentally sharp and on my game ALL DAY including the mid afternoons, my moods are generally sunny and low-stress, I'm sleeping hard and wake up feeling rested, and my bloodwork numbers are trending in the right direction. I'm happy to get on a bike again, and I'm rocking it on the weightlifting (should hit my unassisted pull-up goal in about two weeks if all goes well). So, yeah, this shit works.

Step 2: One by one nutrition consulting. This seems to be a logical next-step after my Precision Nutrition Lean Eating success. It's all still habit-based, but it's extremely customized, so these guys work with stay-at-home moms to Olympic athletes. Still no meal plans, no shakes, no calorie counting, just working on one good idea at a time and seeing how it goes. I feel like I've become that person who can eat whatever they want and still look good, it's just that "whatever I want" is no longer gorging on ice cream and peanut butter cups. I no longer crave the free bagels at work, although I'll have a doughnut like once a week and really effing *enjoy* the hell out of it. My goals are no longer weight loss, but rather a 200lb deadlift. To see how many veggies I can eat in a day, and to still be able to drink the beer I brew. There's an online community that's super cool, too, and I feel like I'm not out fighting the world alone.

So, tl;dr: feeling good. I wish everyone could feel like this, I think it would make the world a better place.

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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
8:24 am - Goals and Resolutions
Me? I love resolutions. I love stupid long term goals, even if it something like "laugh at the kitties every day" or "fix my credit". I don't beat myself up if I don't make it, and Jan 1st is just convenient as a time to reset everything.

For 2013:
- Have at least 20 adventures and 20 dinner parties
Success! Originally, I was keeping track of exactly who and where we were for all of these, but they started increasing in frequency to the point where it was a blur of awesome. Our new dining room is great for having a few couples over, and we love to cook and share. Adventures ranged from small (quick weekend trip for wine tasting) to epic (a gastronomical religious experience in Spain), and I'm actually surprised we did that many given how often my husband was out of town for work. I certainly didn't lack for adventures on my own (sometimes my goal was to make him jealous that he was halfway around the world and not at home), but it's way more fun to share the experience.


- Save up all the $5 bills that I get, eventually (not this year) buy that trip into space
Kinda switched to single $1 bills, mostly to keep myself away from the vending machine at work! I now don't have that kind of issue with food anymore, so I should find another trigger to get back on this.


- Get the beer lab up and running
Heh, hard to answer this. I bought a bunch of analytical equipment and fun science toys but keep forgetting to use it all, as it takes way more planning and advance work than just "Hey, let's make beer today!" However, I did finally blow some cash on a modified cooler to be my mash tun, so I can finally graduate to all-grain brewing (instead of half-extracts). The first attempt is conditioning in bottles. Eee!



- Continue to have fun being active: crossfit, derby, cycling, and whatever else tickles my fancy
Success, despite injuries and numerous setbacks! Quitting derby (twice) was annoying, but my right leg was making every practice super painful and frustrating. Then, well, getting pregnant didn't help. I eventually found out what was going on with my knee and hip (bursitis from an old mountain bike accident plus years of muscle imbalances), got all that repaired, rediscovered rock climbing and powerlifting. Finishing my project with Precision Nutrition helped, too, as they were able to suggest alternative exercises and strategies for staying active despite all the crap. In the end, I was able to get some great photos of myself (with abs!) a mere two weeks after my surgery. So I feel like I'm done with all resolutions to "lose weight" or whatever, which is flipping rad. I highly recommend it.


- Make a baby
Meh. So frustrated right now. But not giving up yet, even though it makes the year *really* hard to plan.


- Do badass shit. Keep it real. Have fun.
Success, for sure.


Continuing with the theme that it's useless for me to set resolutions like "Drop 20 pounds", here's what's on the plate for 2014:

- Worship the awesome women in my life
- Read more amazing page-turning fiction
- Savor and be grateful
- Work with my body instead of getting angry at it
- Opt for experiences over material things
- And -- what the hell -- nail that 200lb deadlift

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7:33 am - 2013 in review
- Commissioned a large painting
- Our lawn dinosaur became internet-famous
- Gave up roller derby (again)
- Started trying to fix my knee issues
- Landscaped the entire front yard with succulents and edibles
- Went to Utah, started thinking about a sleeve tattoo
- Began using a standing desk at work
- Bought some sassy pink roller-skates (still mostly unused)
- Drove the 14-passenger broom wagon
- Got my first MRI
- Topher's parents redecorated our bathroom awesomely
- Roger Ebert died
- Kayaked in Monterey with sea lions and otters
- Husband built me the world's sexiest single speed cross bike
- Had a miscarriage
- Visited Portland, ate very well
- Had a partial bursectomy surgery
- Saw LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and De La Soul
- Lost my most sparkly friend in a car accident
- Visited Toronto for a weekend to meet my team, then got stuck in the airport for 24 hours
- Went to a week long Brewing Science course at UC Davis
- Camped out with a bunch of cyclists in the California Sierras
- Finished a year long project fixing my relationship with food
- And got some photos of myself in a bikini to prove it
- Bought a motorcycle (still unused)
- Saw Deltron 3030
- Took my derby wife to meet Barenaked Ladies
- Did my first backcountry camping trip in Tahoe
- Celebrated our 2nd anniversary
- Attempted aerial yoga, almost puked
- Binged on Iberico jamon in Spain
- Saw awesome friends get married
- Grew and ate a ton of padron peppers
- Hurt my leg again, quit roller derby again
- Saw a lecture at NASA on time travel
- Got a folding bicycle and lots of flat tires
- Made my annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin
- Rode a record number of roller coasters at an empty theme park
- Started a new job at work
- Went sailing and nearly got rammed by a whale
- Obtained my Six Sigma Green Belt
- Took dad wine tasting
- Watched Richard Dawkins being interviewed
- Tried to get back into rock climbing
- Dressed up as the Avengers and handed out bacon to kids
- Hubby changed jobs and is no longer gone half the year
- Saw Radiolab live (they had huge dinosaurs on stage)
- Did my first all-grain brew
- Visited Hawaii for a few days
- Read lots and lots of books
- Dug the T-Rex's costumes got way more elaborate
- Went to Canada, ate poutine and hung out with family
- Had my second miscarriage, from what started as twins. Completely heartbroken.

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Tuesday, January 1st, 2013
12:03 pm - Goals and Resolutions.

Friend of Dug's!
Originally uploaded by gnat23
Me? I love resolutions. I love stupid long term goals, even if it something like "laugh at the kitties every day" or "fix my credit". I don't beat myself up if I don't make it, and Jan 1st is just convenient as a time to reset everything.

For 2012:

- Do 30-day challenges throughout the year. January's is no booze, February is a shopping diet, etc.
This lasted a little while: January I did Whole-30 Paleo and no booze, and it ended up being one of the craziest social months I've had ever. I succeeded, but it was very difficult. (Ask me about turning down body shots from fabulous drag queens.) February was my now-traditional "don't buy frivolous things" month, which was successful. By March, I realized these challenges were all about giving things up that I enjoyed, which made it no longer fun. I admit, it fizzled out.

- Figure out how to increase my energy levels (eat the rainbow? yoga? sleep cycles?)
Success, for the most part! Turns out the single most important factor is getting 9+ hours of sleep in a night. All the other ideas had benefits in other areas of my life, but getting to bed early was the clear winner. Now to figure out how to convince my brain to stick with that more often, especially when skate practice always seems to go so darn late.

- Keep my home spiffy, tidy, and welcoming enough to feel like a B&B
Somewhat success. I am still a tornado of piles of papers, but hiring a housecleaner to come in twice a month at least made things look really nice half the time. I am due a good spring cleaning to get rid of things and pare down my possessions. Clothing swap, anyone?

- Use my muses to help guide my inspirations and attitudes (Currently: Tank Girl)
Tank Girl was fun, but she's a little more crude and unbuttoned than I am always comfortable with, especially at work. For Christmas, Topher got me a style consultant, and he warned them about the hair, etc, so I'm kind of excited this coming year to really nail down my OWN look, then I can stop looking to fictional comic book characters.

- Love what I do: work, hobbies, exercise, etc. If I'm not loving it, look at doing something else.
Success! I quit my job of nine years and am loving the new one. I quit the derby league when I realized the practices were leaving me in tears and I wasn't feeling safe; instead, I'm in another beginner's bootcamp style thing which is letting me really nail down my basics and I feel way better. I am feeling much more powerful with my own desires and no longer feel the need to martyr myself.

- Continue to be good to my man, never take him for granted
Much success! We still very much work well together, he is my best friend, my punchline, my hero. My life is far more fun and inspired with him by my side, so I continue to try surprising him and being the best companion possible. Officially, we're trying to start a family, so may the next year have even more surprises!


Continuing with the theme that it's useless for me to set resolutions like "Drop 20 pounds", here's what's on the plate for 2013:

- Have at least 20 adventures and 20 dinner parties
- Save up all the $5 bills that I get, eventually (not this year) buy that trip into space
- Get the beer lab up and running
- Continue to have fun being active: crossfit, derby, cycling, and whatever else tickles my fancy
- Make a baby
- Do badass shit. Keep it real. Have fun.

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10:38 am - 2012 in review
- Wiped out on my bike, cracked my helmet
- Had to turn down body shots from drag queens
- Went to Sundance, did a ton of skiing, saw one movie
- Appeared dressed as a showgirl on a bike in a German cycling magazine
- Shook hands with Eddie Izzard
- Took the husband on a hot air balloon ride
- Gave a telegram as a valentine's gift
- Drove two hours to obtain my pour of Pliny the Younger beer
- Ate frogs legs. Didn't care for them
- Found another hummingbird nest in our yard
- Finished the new dining room extension
- I won a customer service award at work
- Learned how to spelunk inside a 2-story stainless steel tank
- My maternal grandmother passed away
- Dressed our lawn dinosaur up like an Easter Bunny
- Quit the job I had for 9 years
- Adopted a kitten. Gave away a kitten
- Drunken tandem bike ride with my team director
- Took Amtrak up to Portland and biked 700mi home in the rain
- Experienced an earthquake while sleeping in a tent
- A kids band used our dinosaur for their album cover
- Started a new job
- MCA passed away
- Learned how to keep bees, and kept some for a while
- Participated in a beer crawl scavenger hunt, ended up crashing Rogue instead
- Went to a roller derby game, became obsessed
- Met the guy who lost the iPhone4 prototype at the bar. At that bar.
- Rode my bike up some of the Death Ride mountains with fabulous ladies
- Saw Linkin Park live. No reason
- Went to X Games (spectator, not participant)
- Celebrated our first anniversary with ice cream sammiches and floating downstream
- Saw Itchy O and Extra Action Marching Band in a tiny sweaty club
- Saw Ozomatli in the redwoods
- Developed a crush on the mohawk guy in NASA
- Bought the worlds most awesome boots
- Watched meteors while drinking hot cocoa
- Saw Red Hot Chili Peppers, got within a foot of Flea
- Made really a lot of beer
- Visted my childhood home one last time before my parents moved out
- Turned 36 in the woods of Wisconsin
- Rode bikes with Dave Matthews band
- Saw Gotye live, didn't drool too much
- Caught (and ate) a huge salmon
- Became a derby girl
- Raced singlespeed cx bikes all over the place
- Drank a lot of really good whiskey
- Won the afterparty
- Dressed up like a dinosaur for Halloween
- Nearly got into a car accident with a police car
- Got a new tattoo (SSCXWC logo!)
- Twinkies went away
- Saw the Endeavour space shuttle. Nearly cried
- Dressed like a salmon and did an entire race backwards and with tequila shots
- Had a crazy ear infection that made me all dizzy for a day
- World did not end (yay!)
- Went to Canada, had a great time with the in-laws sitting in hot tubs
- Celebrated the end of the year in a gold sequin gown with hamachi grilled meats and fabulous company

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Friday, November 23rd, 2012
7:16 pm - Mental birthday!
I am feeling so crazy inspired and healthy and full-of-life right now that I'm scared I'm going to become one of those people who wears a headset microphone on stage while bouncing around in front of thousands of desperate folks shouting "And YOU CAN, TOO!"

I am trying to be careful to not overdo it, not to make too many detailed schedules, not to count un-hatched chickens, because that's what I do. Maybe it isn't so bad, as that sort of behavior has gotten me here, at least. It feels like a headfull of new year's resolutions without the prior binge drinking.

My second instinct is to tell everyone how great it is, and how they should do the same things and get to where I am. Like someone who discovered inbox-0 or the ease of peeling a banana from the bottom end and now can't shut up about it.

"How did I manage to survive before this?" Is this what it feels like to be a born-again? In recovery? Crying Eureka! from a batchtub?

This is pretty cool. I don't want to scare it off. I don't want to treat it like it's not going to be here in three months, so I don't want to use the word IF. IF this sticks, I'll tell you all about it. WHEN it's stuck for good. Yes, like the motivational posters. Do or do not, there is no try. Confidence. This is the new baseline.

Let's go!

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Sunday, November 4th, 2012
9:15 pm - YAY LIVEJOURNAL
Hi there!

Lesse, since I last chatted at ya, I've tried out for, successfully gotten into, and then quit a roller derby league.

OK, not entirely true. It's true I joined and then quit the league, but I haven't quit skating. Let's just admit that things went a little too fast (I've only been skating since, what, July?) and I was on a quick path to getting seriously hurt. I'm now hanging out with a bunch of lovely ladies just practicing on the basics before getting back into full-contact. They now know me as "Super Gnatural."

I'm doing Crossfit about three times a week and love it. I'm eating well, listening to AC/DC, cruising around in the Mini Cooper with the top down, getting on the bicycle whenever possible.

I got a tattoo of the 2011 SSCXWC logo: a dinosaur carrying a bike. It is awesome and I feel like a real world champion now!

Brewing lots of yummy beers, dreaming of traveling, kicking ass at work. I'm finally feeling like I have a ton of energy, am strong and healthy, clever and dependable.

That's the quick summary; how are you?

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Sunday, May 20th, 2012
4:24 pm - Listen to the Fortune Cookie

Short cuts suck
Originally uploaded by gnat23
Well. That happened.

Let it be said: my job was driving me bonkers. The long weekend hours, the lack of recognition or potential promotions, the processes which eventually got to be more work than the work itself. I gave them some ultimatums in my head which, when broken, was the first nudge.

The second nudge was an old co-worker/dear friend begging me for help at a different company. I didn't know much about said company, but it sounded as though there was a Gnat-sized hole in that department. I applied.

And finally, all those damn inspirational quotes fortune cookies keep poking at the sore spot: Be bigger than your circumstances. Dare to fail. Embrace change. Fear mediocrity. Get out of your comfort zone. GO DAMMIT DO IT NOW.

Finally, with a tickling feeling in my gut, I pulled the cord. I accepted new job. Gave two weeks notice at the company I had been with for almost nine years. There was bewilderment, congratulations, and commiseration. There was a sort of frantic hand-off. I turned in my badge and (squirt) gun. And then, just like that, I couldn't get back in even if I wanted to. There was a sad realization of betrayal, as if my loyalty was worth not much by the end.

I decided to put a nice hard stop between the jobs, and I celebrated by riding my bike. I boxed up my pink sparkles and trailer, hopped on Amtrak up to Portland, reassembled everything in the station with a multi-tool, and turned southbound along the Pacific Coast. There were a few picture perfect sunny days, the wind at my back, the redwoods and waves equally whispering encouragement as I zipped by. Most of it, unfortunately, was a study in meteorology, fighting late April headlong gusts and bone-aching rain. The hours of pedaling became a zen meditation, with no one to talk to, all regrets having been addressed, all future plans made, and was left with nothing more than the chorus of a song stuck looping in my brain's forefront like a mantra. There was camping, there were brewery-stops, and there certainly were many hundreds of thousands of calories demolished without a care. There were hardly any other people at all. Good thing I like my own company, to be sure.

706 miles and two weeks later, I spent the weekend with my husband and cycling team camping out in the woods, again. They raced, I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and filled water bottles. It was pretty awesome. On Monday, I drove into my new job.

Now, I'm not sure what the future holds, and it's a good-sort of exciting. It certainly beats the doldrums I had let myself slip into of the last few years. There are new habits to form, new people to depend on, new inspirations and plans to be had. My switch back to a normal 5-days-a-week schedule has been spectacular, as I discover that hanging out with people I love seems to trump having extra days off. So far, I am very glad I did all this. I mean, I haven't failed yet.

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Monday, April 2nd, 2012
7:30 am - Now is the time to KETCHUP

Madonna Inn
Originally uploaded by gnat23
Nnnnnnng I let LJ go too long again, didn't I? Dammit. Sorry.

I also let my cycling go, what, a month? two? without many (real) rides.

I've worked a disproportionate number of Sundays. That's a pretty good excuse.

My man went to Japan, Korea, Spain... not all on the same trip. While the first few days of him being gone is kinda nice (YAY HOUSE TO MYSELF), I dare say I cave into the no-fucks-given mode where I'm asleep on the couch at 8pm with a heating pad and a sleeve of Thin Mints, halfway through a season of Warehouse 13. Luckily, I can recover and be my usual perky confident bouncy self before he gets home.

In a fit of home ownership, we hired a guy. He tore town a wall and moved it six feet out into the garage, installing a sliding patio door and the world's sexiest skylight, if there is such a thing. A craigslisted dining set later and we've got this all grown-up dining room that I absolutely adore. Seriously, you need to come over and eat now. The only problem was that the garage has been torn apart and put back together, one random half of our stuff relocated and rotated 90 degrees and covered with dust. When I say I haven't been on my mountain bike in a long time, that's why.

There was also the sump pump in the backyard getting clogged, and me out in the mud in my zebra-print goulashes and pajamas fighting with a hose and an impressive downpour of muck. In case home ownership still looked appealing.

I've given some pretty fantastic trainings at work lately. Road-tripped up to Santa Rosa for a 10oz pour of Pliny the Younger (beer). Ate frogs legs for the first time (meh). Got lowered inside a giant stainless steel tank at work, which is way more fun than it sounds.

Topher's parents came into town for an extended stay, and my liver is finally recovering. There was much wine and scotch and sewing and painting and cooking. They are awesome, but I always feel lazy when they're around: definitely no dinners of Thin Mints.

My grandmother died. Not completely unexpected, and not without drama. I was never that close to her myself, but I managed to get out to Salt Lake City to support the family. I got to pick a few pieces of costume jewelry of hers to keep, which was good because a few days later, someone broke into her house and thefted the rest. Humans can be jerks.

We dressed up our metal T-rex in a bunny costume.

There's way more news, but it will have to wait until other important events have transpired first. EXCITEMENT BUILDS!

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Sunday, January 29th, 2012
8:35 pm - I'm big in Germany!

I'm big in Germany!
Originally uploaded by gnat23
I almost forgot! My photo from Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships was in some huge German cycling magazine. No clue what the blurb says, but my name is in there. What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything involving cycling, drinking, and stupid outfits all at the same time.

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8:09 pm - Too much booty for the pants
Ok, swear to $DEITY, if January is any indication of how the year 2012 is going to go, I'm going to be exhausted.

Wednesday, Topher picked me up from my usual gym session, and we hauled-ass up to San Francisco to hunt for parking near the Palace of Fine Arts. We snuck in to find our seats just as Greg Proops had sat down with Eddie Izzard on a pair of blue-upholstered wingbacks on stage. We watched them banter back and forth, more of a Q&A session than a routine, and yet Eddie would still go off on some excited tangent and get everyone cracking up about sharks in French.

After the event, we went backstage; Topher's name was on some handwritten list with a plus one. I got to shake Eddie's hand and introduced myself, but I found myself at a total lack of inspiration with what to say. I usually try not to get caught up in the whole famous-person thing, and I didn't want to be that person that asks to get a picture ('cause, you know, he's still just some guy, really, and that seems weird if you don't know someone). But it's Eddie Effing Izzard, I mean... come on. We did at some point talk bicycles, as he's gone from his billion-marathons to training for an Ironman Triathlon. I thanked him for being awesome without slobbering over myself too much.

Come the weekend, it was my turn. Topher's birthday rapidly approached, so I again went with the surprise-weekend theme. I told him what to pack, picked him up from work Friday afternoon, and road-tripped another two hours south. I treated him to a spectacular Italian dinner (complete with a bottle of fabulous local Cabernet, breaking our month-long alcohol fast -- but with good excuses). Then we crashed at a quaint inn that sported a jacuzzi fed from a natural hot spring. I woke him up before dawn, got some coffee in his system, and hit him with his big gift: a ride on a hot air balloon. He giggled like a little kid when he figured it out, and then bragged to just about anyone who would listen after our adventure through the skies.

The nice thing about having a guy more into experiences than tangible stuff as gifts? I got to enjoy all these things, too! YAY BALLOONS!

So once again with finishing my weekend with a crash landing in a frazzled lump into bed just hours before my long workday. To be honest, I'm really getting to like it that way.

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Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
1:26 pm - Perhaps I should have been more specific... Nah.

BUG EYES
Originally uploaded by gnat23
"I'd love someday to go to Sundance," I said to him off-the-cuff. When I said that, I was actually speaking of Sundance, the Resort: Log cabin-style lodging, skiing or full-moon mountain biking, craft and glassblowing classes, fabulous food, decadent spa activities, and maybe one of those artsy-type movies in the lounge. What I got instead was a rather spontaneous announcement that we had a place to stay -- in Park City. During THAT Sundance.

I'm certainly not one to turn down adventure and opportunity like this. We scrapped some last-minute flights and took off for a long weekend.

Turns out that the Sundance Movie Festival in Park City is... well it's a little insane. I studied up on how to get last-minute tickets, but that involved showing up two hours early, getting a lottery number (first come was not first served), then being back a half-hour before, and maybe MAYBE getting a seat. The high profile films were a wash; parking was non-existent, every restaurant had 45+ minute waits. It seemed overly complicated and frustrating, standing around in the snow and cold for hours with no certain payoff.

So: we hit the mountains instead. Staying in the Canyons, a wee outside the craziness of downtown, we were able to ski on and off the chairlift to our room. The snow was beyond legendary: we had one day of white-out conditions, reports of "an inch an hour" piling up around us, flakes stinging any patch of exposed skin, cars sliding off the roads. Two more days greeted us with waist-high patches the consistency of mashed potatoes. I got stuck on an expert black diamond route, enveloped by trees and moguls, and had to shimmy down while sweating and whimpering. But otherwise, the legends were all true about Utah Powder. Epic was had.

In the evenings, we attended Sundance parties. Elbow to elbow with Hollywood body-types, dancing to acoustic music, sipping on soda water and surviving on passed appetizers. You couldn't help but look around and wonder who was somebody famous; I'm sure they took one look at my hair and did the same. Michael Cera, Ludacris, and Kevin Sorbo were all spotted. The crowds in their designer shoes, big hair, or giant earrings held the attention every glance.

So close and yet so far; darn it, we're here, we're going to DO THIS! I finally got up the nerve to try and brave the waitlist process, but in Salt Lake City rather than the zoo of Park City. We were able to squeak into Beasts of the Southern Wild, seats together in the absolute front and center. There was a Q&A with the director and several of the actors after the movie, which was really cool (if a little jarring to see them out of character so suddenly). The movie was, of course, amazing, but it tore my soul apart a little bit; to be honest, I'm not sure if I could handle multiple moody flicks like this back-to-back as the festival prescribes. Still, we checked it off the list of things to do in life, and I'm pretty glad we did.

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Sunday, January 15th, 2012
2:42 pm - The Shooz, I Has Them
Except for one day a week, I find myself on some combination of bike, bus, or train to get to work. Typically this results in me having either specialty cycling shoes (i.e., the penguin-walk on cleats) or something super comfy for walking, like Vans or Sketchers, to get to my desk. Once there, I'd swap out for a pair that I kept under my desk, some Payless chunky heeled penny loafers that have lasted me since the beginning of time. Except they had started no-longer lasting: the outsides of the heels were worn down to steep levies, the strange naugahyde cracking and rubbing away to dull white patches, all the inner padding long since gathered closer to the toes. It was time.

And thus my Payless budget ran smack into the Fluevog sale. There was procrastination and lusting after the webpage every few days, budgets were shuffled around in a shell game, the futile hunt for a suitable, cheaper, less awesome alternative. Topher finally mentioned how upset I'd be if I didn't get them, if I missed the sale, or if I waffled too long and entered February (my month of Shopping-Detox) and let them stock out, I'd be a CrankyGnat.



Then I was elated, shopping bag swinging off the end of my arm, skipping around the rest of the day. Well, at least until I bumped into THESE.



Practical? Heck no. Cheap? Meh, sorta. Comfy? Rather surprisingly, yes. But the shoe-purchasing floodgates had been opened, the twinkle in my eye confirmed my intentions, and I now own a pair of heels not really possible in Newtonian physics. What the hell. We had visited AsiaSF a few nights prior, and my fascination with the glamorous femininity of the men, er, ladies that served us drinks held me in a trance. Sure, there was some strategic padding and shaving involved, but it was amazing to see what a few good accessories and a great strut could accomplish. These beauties were as good as mine.

So that's the news in shoes.

In a trying-not-to-jinx-it-way, I've been cutting back on the cycling, limped my booty back to Crossfit and am trying the gym's 30-day Paleo challenge. Nothing to report yet except that I haven't had a lack of great things to eat; I even survived a lick-smacking adventure to Umami Burger without a hitch. Will spill the beans (heh) on final results when the time comes.

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Sunday, January 8th, 2012
8:15 pm - Still just a rat in this cage
Sundays for me means work: a 13.5 hour day, strapped to a telephone and a CB radio. There are days when I am the dashing firefighter, whisking away the problems with a grease-smeared wink and a toothy grin. Other days, I'm chin-in-palms pining for the sunshine that is just on the other side of the window and yet far enough away to be that some-day-I'll-go-to-attractive-foreign-country-$Variable vacation and have no funds. It's not that I'm bored, deary no, I have plenty of projects hanging in the inbox, awaiting my savvy hand to dish out the appropriate red ink. But holysnot is that not exciting. Even the things I want to do, the ones I kicked off, the ones that definitely need doing, well, just not inspiring me at this moment. Back to reading tweets about how everyone is enjoying beer on the patio and bike rides without armwarmers and I feel sorry for myself.

What would I do instead? Well, I'd move around, for one. My days off are layered with yoga and bike rides, weightlifting and walks. Yesterday Topher and I hiked and then went ziplining, whizzing like red-helmeted falcons from one redwood tree to the next. I run errands -- I LOVE errands. The woman with the multifaceted todo list and a hype-refficient route and a good sunny day, yeah, that actually calms my little freakish worrying brain down to a mumbling child in the corner happily reading books the rest of the afternoon. If you really want me in a good mood, I do it all with the car top down as I sing along with Def Leppard. I'll gladly rake my yard rather than do another TPS report coversheet.

But man, I just cannot be chained down to a desk these days, I get way too moody. It's like the better the ergonomics, the more my energy gets vacuumed out my fingers. My attention wanders, my blood sugar drops, I get that little red lightning bolt in the whites of my eyes. Sometimes I make my escape for a 20 minute walk around the grounds and it's like flashes to fix everything hits: ah! I need to email that person and here's an idea to fix that and I gotta remember to... as soon as I get back to my cube, the new ideas just turn grey again.

Ah well. I'm still young enough to retrain to be a park ranger or something.

In other news: I had my first bike wipe-out in almost 10,000 miles. I was leading a few people into work, and as we were crossing a wooden bridge near work, I noticed it looked a little wet. Sure enough, I didn't straighten out my approach in time, and my wheels just disappeared out from under me. It happened so fast that I couldn't break my fall, so I dropped straight onto my right hip, which ricocheted through my side as I felt my head bounce. Feeling like an idiot, I got back up, checked everything (bike ok, body stiff, new winter tights still intact, coat sleeve dirty) and rode slowly the rest of the way. When I got home, Topher inspected my helmet and declared it toast: sure enough, it was enough of a thwack to crack the foam. Helmet's a goner, but the brain is A-OK, so there you go kids, wear your damn helmet, even for sub-10mph crashes.

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Sunday, January 1st, 2012
8:27 pm - Goals and Resolutions

Topher and Gnat
Originally uploaded by gnat23
Me? I love resolutions. I love stupid long term goals, even if it something like "laugh at the kitties every day" or "fix my credit". I don't beat myself up if I don't make it, and Jan 1st is just convenient as a time to reset everything.

For 2011:
- Physical - Triathlon
Done! Hated it! Let's not do that again. The training was ok, but I didn't really fit in with the club. Master Swim was a joke for me (too much learning backstroke, not enough time in open-water). The beginner bike was too easy; the next level up dropped me pretty regularly. After getting my finisher's medal and realizing how much work it would take to do anything on the next tri, I just called it quits. Ah well.


- Emotional - Be myself, loudly
Good, then not so good, but getting back to it again. Work's wardrobe restriction plus tons of working out on my offdays means no makeup, skirts, heels, fishnets, nailpolish, hats, anything really fun. I keep trying to play with the wardrobe I can wear, hoping to still be fashionable in jeans, vans and a hoodie. Some day.


- Mental - Read every day
Done, mostly! I didn't track the every day bit, but I did read far more than I have in years past. The new addition of a Kindle Fire to my quiver should bump it up yet again; in the few days between Christmas and New Years, I already polished off two novels. More. Gimme.


- Spiritual - Make a yard area to chill
DONE! And it looks freakin' RAD! Firepit and cozy cushions and little sparkly lights. Wish it was a little warmer out there so I could spend even more time. Highly recommended.


- Financial - Don't carry a balance
Not exciting, but DONE. Even with the wedding, honeymoon, and wedding, can you believe that?


- Family - Get Married!
DONE! and how fun THAT was! I purposefully stayed out of Bridezilla land, hand-made a bunch of things, went cheap on other items, ditched a huge load of traditions I didn't care about, and really went to town on the things that DID matter. In the end, we drank our homebrewed beer, hung out with friends and family, made each other laugh with bad puns, got some great pictures in the ball-pit, ate cheese and tacos, and swapped some neat pink gold rings. Couldn't have asked for more!


- Community Service - Expand work's bikeclub
Argh, not done. One of these days I'll really rev this thing, but sheesh it's a ton of side-work even just to keep it afloat.


- Fun / creativity / recreation - Eat five new species
I should have done a way better job of tracking this. I know I cooked turnips for the first time. Ate octopus. For most things, I ate new *parts* of animals I had already tried (lamb's tongue!). But I can't remember anything really grabbing me as memorably new, for some reason.


Continuing with the theme that it's useless for me to set resolutions like "Drop 20 pounds", here's what's on the plate for 2012:

- Do 30-day challenges throughout the year. January's is no booze, February is a shopping diet, etc.
- Figure out how to increase my energy levels (eat the rainbow? yoga? sleep cycles?)
- Keep my home spiffy, tidy, and welcoming enough to feel like a B&B
- Use my muses to help guide my inspirations and attitudes (Currently: Tank Girl)
- Love what I do: work, hobbies, exercise, etc. If I'm not loving it, look at doing something else.
- Continue to be good to my man, never take him for granted

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