Thursday, June 30, 2005
The beginning of this week was spent packing up the last of Frank's belongings and moving the items that won't fare well in storage to my house. He'll be out of his apartment tonight, bringing one more box to stay with me until his condo is finished. I added his boxes to the few of my own leftover from last week's tossing binge. I'm determined to go through the rest of my cartons and then move on to organizing my little storage closet on the balcony...not to mention my bedroom closet. I'm sure there are items destined to be given away that are hiding in one of those places and I shudder to think of what may be left out at the family storage casita at our El Chiquito Rancho Grande, as the property is known. How the heck can I fit so much junk into one or two closets? It's like the Leaning Tower of Pisa on one side of my closet shelving...any time now I expect an errant book to knock me on the head while I'm pondering what shirt to wear that day. Which reminds me of a quote by George Bernard Shaw "If you can't get rid of the skeleton in your closet, you'd best teach it to dance."
I wonder if I've gotten rid of all the skeletons in my closet? My life is pretty open book. My parents know all about my misspent youth. Okay, let me qualify that by saying they know most of the details of my misspent youth. There are probably one or two things they aren't aware of but are far less apt to turn their hair grey than the things they already know. The reason I'm thinking about skeletons in my closet is because I'm contemplating something that can be life changing. So far this is something that I'm simply mulling over and may or may not happen.
No, I'm not thinking of dating a politician. Heaven forbid! He'd never get elected with me in tow. My past life might be well, past, but it's been scandalous enough to ruin any chance of holding a public office. I'm trying out the idea that if my life stays the same as it is now, when my lease is up in April I might, just might look for a two bedroom apartment in a cheaper area of town. Although finding a larger apartment in a cheaper area may mean that I trade living above one meth lab as I currently am to living among many meth labs plus a lively prostitution trade. At least the neighbors will be interesting! Just think of the entertainment to be had at a block party.
The reason behind a two bedroom apartment is that I would need one if I become a foster parent. For those of you who know me well, you can stop hunting for the number for CPS and put the phone down! If I decide to foster, I am fully aware that I do have to give the child back when asked. Before anyone freaks out, remember that I'm just thinking this over. I haven't made any decisions at all. I'm not even certain I'm cut out for foster parenting.
Whew!! After dropping that potential bombshell, let me move on to lighter things. "Lighter" may be the wrong description to use for this calorie laden delicious treat. While emailing with one Vickilicious, late of Austin, currently of Milwaukee, the subject of comfort food came up. In honor of my Wisconsin wife and in order to avoid pissing off my Austin girlfriend (love ya, Leslie) I am posting my recipe for a comfort food that is sure to please. My boyfriend likes it, although we don't eat it often since it is a sure fire artery clogger.
Fettucine Alfredo with Chicken & Mushrooms
10 oz fresh fettucine
8 Tb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated parmesiano reggiano cheese, also at room temp
1 cup heavy cream, lightly whipped
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips (or tenders)
1 tsp. minced garlic
Salt & ground pepper (use white pepper if you have it)
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
Season chicken with salt & pepper. In a large deep pan, heat the EVOO and add chicken & garlic. Pan grill until done on one side, turn over and add mushrooms. Continue pan grilling until chicken is browned and fully cooked and mushrooms are soft. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm. Begin boiling the water for the pasta. Rinse out chicken pan and melt butter over low heat. Slowly add the whipped cream and whisk or stir continuously until hot and slightly reduced. Add pasta to boiling water. Slowly add the grated cheese to the cream as you continue whisking/stirring. Continue to whisk as cheese melts completely. Season to taste wtih salt & pepper. Add the cooked & drained pasta and fold together with a wooden spoon (so as not to break the pasta). Turn out onto a serving tray (or individual plates) and top with chicken & mushrooms.
Ahhh....comfort food. Gives me fond flashbacks to Sunday night Sex In The City dinners at Vickilicious' cute little Austin abode. There's no cooking like cooking done while constantly checking the floor for marauding scorpions or ducking the invasion of wasps. So glad she found a solution to the stinging insect issue in time to sell her house and move across the country to a land where nachos are thick, hard tortilla chips covered in day glow orange glutinous faux cheese with a few pale pickled jalapeño slices on top. Come home, Vicki! You'd enjoy our family dinners at Frederick & Jed's house. The last pizza party was a blast, even though several attendees turned up their noses at my smoked salmon, anchovy, caper & goat cheese creation. Hmmph! More for me.
"A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness"
Saturday, June 25, 2005
It's been an interesting week. I've done a little training for my
upcoming 10K and September's half marathon but mostly I've done a lot
of thinking. Frank's been out of town and I decided to spend the ten
days he'd be gone by indulging myself. Well, aside from a pint of
Belgium Chocolate ice cream, the only indulgences I've done has been
to review my life as it is now and to clean my apartment.
I haven't spent a lot of time out with friends except for a midweek
happy hour for a much needed cocktail with Michelle and Tisa. Love
the mojitos at S. Congress Cafe---and that bartender had such pretty
eyes in a shade of blue not normally found in the natural world.
'Chelle and I did some slightly kacheery shopping at Parts & Labour
afterward. She found a tank top that is a perfect match for her saucy
style. I think I found a gift for a certain wonder twin's upcoming
I've spent most of my time at my apartment, cleaning my bathroom and
kitchen before they became recognized hazardous waste sites and going
through boxes of things that don't have a home in my home. I've stuck
to a brutal "have I used this/seen this/thought of this/missed this in
the last 2 years?" attitude which has netted three jumbo trashbags and
one box so far for the fine folks at Goodwill. I've also thrown out a
bag full of clothing too worn out for even street people to be seen in
and of material not suited for cleaning rags. All this sorting and
decisions on what stays in my life and what gets the boot had me
reflecting on my life in general.
Here is what I've come up with: I am happy. For the first time in a
long time, I don't feel like I'm still chasing rainbows and that
elusive pot of gold. I have a fantastic circle of friends, my parents
are settling down into a more normal semblance of life now that Dad's
health is improving, my job is interesting and I like my workmates,
Adrian has been cleared to leave foster care behind and become an
adoptive placement, and I have a terrific love life. I appreciate
what I have and for once I'm not going to waste energy thinking about
what I may still want or what others may perceive is lacking in my
life. I'm simply going to enjoy.
Don't get me wrong---I'm not giving up on the important things I still want for myself. Instead, I'm concentrating on appreciating what I have right now instead of stressing out over what I don't have and worrying about it. I have to stop treating life as if most of the things I want to experience come with an expiration notice. Granted, some things must be done in a certain timeframe, if they'll be done at all. But the only big one there is motherhood, and we don't know for sure if I have passed that "sell by" date already. I waited this long for very good reasons and if I've reached the point of no return for pregnancy, it is all my own doing and I accept that. I'd rather go through life knowing that responsibility won out than have a child whose first years in this world were with a bad mother. Let's face it: my twenties and early thirties were not conducted in a manner befitting responsible parenting. If I'd had a kiddo already, we'd all be counseling by now.
On a much lighter note, while I've been vacillating between ditching
belongings and/or hanging on to them, I've also watched a few movies.
I don't recommend "Trick" for any reason except to fast forward to the
scenes where the street hustler is shirtless. Then hit pause & stare.
I watched "Sideways" and didn't enjoy it...but it spurred me to buy a
bottle of Mirassou Pinot Noir and do my own taste test. I chose
blindly, my only stipulation is that I didn't want to spend more than
$10, but all was well. The pinot noir was smooth and deep without
being bitter or harsh. I look forward to many more glasses of the
dark cherry and slightly smoky flavored wine. The color is very
pretty, too, a rich ruby hue.
Tomorrow I'll get up early for a 5K run and then finish my cleaning. I expect to have several more boxes for Goodwill soon.
Until my next post, cheers!
Monday, June 20, 2005
It's now a week post-Danskin and I am still marveling at my accomplishment. I can't believe I really did it, but there's a medal hanging on my office wall that shows I did. I also found out that I swam a LOT more than expected. It turns out the drifting buoy added an additional 1/4 mile to my 1/2 mile swim. I'm feeling better knowing I did 3/4 mile in 57 minutes. And I understand now why I was so completely worn out. I haven't ever gone that distance in the water! I have some pictures to share, courtesy of Frank and Frederick. If you'd like to see them, email me. I can't figure out how to post pics on this blog yet! :-)
Frank left town on Friday morning and surprised his family for a weekend visit. Before he fled the city, we caught a showing of Batman Begins. Two words: loved it. Frank's traveling courtesy of the Albuquerque Heart Hospital, who is apparently so short of O.R. employees that they're importing them from sister facilities. Anyone need a job? He spent the weekend visiting with la familia in El Paso before heading to New Mexico. He'll be there all week, which includes his birthday. Happy 21st again, babe! This coming weekend he will hustle over to Phoenix to see Martin & Scott so that they won't do what they've been threatening---come to Austin. My liver is finally back in healthy shape from years of excess. If the Boys come to town I'd find it difficult to restrain myself. Their party moods are infectious!
Speaking of infectious...my precious nephew Adie has been in day care all of three weeks and he's already been exposed to nasty germs. Yup. The dreaded Pink Eye. I guess it's paybacks for missing out on the same illness with my other precious nephew, Michael. So...I'm makeupless this week until we know for sure that I don't have it. I really don't want to have to throw out my mascara and liquid eye liner.
Friday night we had a fabulous time at karaoke. The goodbye party for Desiree was a hit. I did sing, loudly and off key. I have newfound respect for both Gwen and Leslie. They turned on the charm and the crowd with their sex kitten styles of singing and for Leslie, crawling and sliding across the table was an added bonus to the show. Rarrr! I also have to give a shoutout to LJ: great Gloria Gaynor, dude.
Saturday was a take-it-easy day. I didn't do anything until afternoon, when I spent a fun afternoon/early evening celebrating Heather's new abode at her house warming party. Her new house came at a great price since the previous owner expired in the garage. Disappointingly, no one brought her a Ouija board as a house warming gift.
I left Heather's after several exciting rounds of Catchphrase (girls rule!) with EVERY intention of going home and getting in bed early. But Margie was at Dick's playing the 8 line machines...so I went by for a bit. These illegal machines are the reason Dick's stays open. The seven other people in the bar (including staff) were laughing and drinking while I watched Margie throw twenties into the machine. Finally her persistence paid off and she hit a jackpot of $300. Cocktails were called for and Margie continued gambling. I'm wondering how long it will be before someone leaks it to the authorities that these machines pay out cash despite the "For Amusement Purposes Only!!! No prizes are awarded!!!" signs posted on the wall. I cheered Margie on for a while longer before calling it an early night. Just as I arrived home Margie called to tell me that she had hit a $150 jackpot and was going home. I think she cleared close to $300 in cold hard cash.
Sunday morning found me at Town Lake for a run. Man oh man am I slow. I have a long way to go before Virginia Beach. I saw Hang & Jason at the halfway mark and talked to them a bit. The weather was humid and I was already disgustingly sweaty. At least I looked as if I'd had a great run. I finished out the 5K and went home to clean up for Father's Day Lunch.
Dad made some wonderful grilled shrimp & jalapeños wrapped in bacon. I threw together potato salad and grilled ribs to go with Mom's frijoles. It was a yummy meal! Dad and I got to talk for a while before Mom came home from church. By the time she came home lunch was just about ready. Hung out with the parentals for the afternoon and then headed off to Oil Can's.
The Can actually did some improvements to the patio...the floor and deck are newly painted with a faux stone finish. I wish they'd put a/c in the women's restroom. But since there are still divisions and discrimination within the gay community I won't be holding my breath for renovations to the restroom. It's the Rosa Parks Memorial Bathroom. Women at Oil Can's are totally back of the bus. My shift was fun despite the heat. I chatted with the regulars and met a few nice first timers. OCH has added live entertainment in the form of Jacinta, a hot new Australian singer specializing in a house sound. Rumor has it she'll be performing again at the Can. They've also added karaoke on Monday nights, so be prepared for some tired queen singing Cher songs over and over.
That's my weekend in review. Hope you had as much fun as I did.
Monday, June 13, 2005
I did it! I did it! Actually, it's more Dora The Explorer-ish than that. I honestly don't know if I could've kept going without my FANTASTIC cheer squad popping up everywhere to yell encouragement. Add to that the ones who kept me motivated during the training and you end up with a wonderful group effort. So..."We did it! We did it!" With all of you at my side/on the sidelines/in my thoughts/at home thinking of me I managed to get through the more than 15 combined miles of the .75K swim, 20K bike and 5K run (hmmm let's be honest, it was mostly walking).
The day started off with a huge line of traffice waiting to get into the Expo parking area. After an eternity in the car, which did nothing to calm the butterflies in my tummy, we were parked and heading toward the shuttles. Halfway there I stopped to go back to the car and retrieve my (mandatory) bike helmet. Oops! Luckily athletes have first priority on the shuttles. I was quickly whisked to the race site where I laid out my transition area by my bike. I stripped down to my bathing suit and went off to be bodymarked with my number (on both thighs, both arms) and my age (on the back of my right calf). I asked the volunteer to put a "Y" on my right arm so I could glance down at it when needed and remind myself that I Will Tell Them Yes by finishing this race.
The wave groups were lined up and the first group off and swimming and I still had a bad case of the nerves. I managed to calm down as we advanced toward the start. It was wonderful to spot my cheer group in the crowd! When I saw Frederick holding a "Kay Marley is my hero!" sign I got a little teary eyed. I quickly spotted Monica, Leslie, Heather, Frank, my Mom, Corrie, Kela, Salena and Michelle and blew kisses to my cheerteam. I was already in the water waiting to go when Frank yelled at me to turn around. One of the volunteers at the water's edge was trying to get my attention...it was Michelle from PureAustin (another crazy Michelle!) who gave me a quick pep talk. The start went off and we began swimming. The best thing I can say about the swim portion is that there are Swim Angels, Kayakers and one participant that will receive many prayers for a long, long time.
I had a tough time. No, I had a nightmarish time in the water. It was a struggle the entire way. I fought to stay calm. I tried to find my "zone". I had a minor right calf cramp almost right away. I took a rest several times before reaching the halfway point. It was incredibly difficult to swim around the blue buoy marking the 1/4 mile point. In my disoriented state I entertained the thought that it was chasing me further out. Little did I know that the buoy had come loose from it's moorings and was drifting. Many of us swam 100 meters more than necessary because of that. When I was more than halfway through, I was hit with a severe left calf cramp that left me dead in the water. I waved frantically for an Angel or kayak but no one was near enough to see me. I went under, swallowed water, got swum over by another racer and finally yelled "Help! Help!" all to no avail. I was in serious trouble. A swimmer behind me yelled out in a strong voice "This woman needs help!" and then slid her arms under mine and said "Don't fight me. Just relax. I'm going to tow you." She towed me to the kayak, who had begun to make it's way to us and left to finish her race. Whomever you are, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
After a brief rest holding on the kayak and stopping the tears that kept filling up my goggles, a swim angel stayed with me. She had me breathing deeper to move oxygen to my legs and coaxed me through the panic. After resting on the noodle and working out the cramp in my calf, I did swim in on my own...with my Angel either at my side or behind me for the entire last 1/8th of a mile. Every few minutes my Angel would yell out encouragement to me. I was incredibly tired but when she offered for me to swim in with the noodle, I declined. "My friends can see me" I said. She smiled in a way that told me she believed I'd make it in through sheer stubborness. I finally touched bottom and stood, with my Angel yelling "You did it! You did it!" behind me. It was a very good feeling to come out of that lake.
Michelle met me in the transition area and pumped my bike tires to the proper PSI while I ate a Gu and drank some water. (If I'd gotten in early enough I could've done that before the start). She made sure my transition was as easy as it could possibly be at that point. I was so tired from the swim that I completely forgot to pull my padded bike chone on over my bathing suit bottom. I meant to wear them under my running shorts. Luckily, I didn't notice I'd forgotten them until Mile 4 of the ride. I slid back on the saddle a bit and told myself that nothing hurts more than the bike seats at spin class. I didn't give my lack of padding any thought after that. The first half of the ride went by very quickly. Once I had caught my breath from the swim I enjoyed myself, with funny bits of songs running through my head. At the halfway point, the hills became mountains. I walked up four and wasn't the only one doing so. At the peak of the last hill is the turn for the finish...volunteers are shouting "You made it up the last hill, now go to the finish!" They lie. Unashamedly. Because the road to the finish is an upward incline. In my book, that is called a hill.
Back in the transition area, Michelle appears again to help me out and give me a status report on her relay team's progress. I ate another Gu and slam water. A lot of water. I take off running and realize quickly that the liquid in my tummy is sloshing. Yikes. Time to power walk. At the end of the first mile Michelle catches up with me. I send her on her merry way and ask that she pass on that I am still upright & mobile. I am not doing well, having cold chills and feeling like any moment I'll christen the trail. Ugh. At the beginning of the last mile, my power walk has slowed to a regular walk. I see the mile marker and written underneath is "I Tri because no one (including myself) believes I can". I feel tears start to well up and remind myself I cannot cry. I can barely keep moving and crying would mean less energy to keep walking. I am so very, very tired and the sun is beating down mercilessly. Every inch of my body is sweaty and red and hot. I'm miserable.
Frank appears at a spectator point and yells at me to "Run, girl!". I pick up the pace and bob along until I round a bend and he's out of site. Then I go back to contemplating christening the trail and walking. The nausea passes and the last hill is ahead. I am trudging at this point, one foot in front of the other, telling myself that when I finish I can get out of the sun. Realistically, I know I am going to finish, it's just a little more to the end. But I don't quite believe it. I keep going because there is nothing else to do but keep moving. I somehow make it up the hill and have an asthma attack. At least I'm beyond the urge to vomit. Frank appears again, this time in a section of trail that isn't cordoned off. Julie & Sonja are at the last water stop, cheering me on. I manage to run a bit with Frank running next to me, giving me encouragement the whole way. I tank, and tell him I have to walk again. The end is in sight. I get closer and Frank urges me to run it in. I do, running as fast as I am able to at that moment of my life. It was an exhausted, reach to the bottom of my soul and dig out the last chunk of energy, painfully slow run into the chute...the crowds are cheering and I hear "Now welcoming Kay Marley" over the loudspeaker and I raise my arms in victory and cross the finish line.
I can't say that I was happy, more so that I was relieved to be done. "Now I can stop moving," I thought. I was tired down to the marrow of my bones. I had nothing left in me; I used every ounce of strength left in my body to finish the last of the 5K.
The volunteers took my chip timer off my ankle strap and placed my medal around my neck. Now I am a triathlete, I thought. I crossed into the open area and hugged Michelle, who would've finished her 5K in less than 30 minutes had she not stopped to encourage me. I fell into Frank's arms and sobbed out my exhaustion and the emotions of finishing. After that it was a blur of hugs, excitement and pictures as my family and friends gathered around me.
I did it. Five weeks before my 38th birthday I became a Triathlete. I was slower than I'd hoped, with a final time of 3:15:13 but I know I did my absolute best. Heather asked first...will I do it again? I thought about it for a bit before I said yes. It was a brutal experience. But I'm already thinking about next year, about dropping my time to under 3 hours, about swim lessons and open water training....
Monday, June 06, 2005
Even though I spent six months training with Austin Fit for the marathon, I didn't feel like an athlete. I had a little nagging voice in the back of my head that said "you had to do the 13.1, you couldn't do the full race". I ran a 10K in April and felt good but still kept imagining that at any moment someone would point to me and say "why is she here?". I felt like I was pretending to be fit and healthy and athletic. Crossing the finish line at the Danskin Triathlon will firmly cement into my psyche the knowledge that I am an athlete. It's not just about the physical challenge of swimming a half mile, biking twelve miles and running a 5K. It's about leaving the person that I used to be behind and emerging from my chrysalis.
So one chilly March Saturday found me standing at Barton Springs looking at the water with dread. One of the U.K. women in our group summed it up by asking "Are we all mad?" I learned that morning that the popular "jump in and get it over with" method of adapting to Barton Springs' cold temps is not one that works well for me. I hit the water, went under and back up and my brain was screaming "Too cold! Too cold!" while I frantically tried to inflate my lungs. It seems my muscles shut down when shocked with a sudden temperature change from chilly to oh, you know, frigid water. After what seemed like an eternity, I had swum a few yards and managed to take in a breath of air. Once I was acclimated, I had to face another sad truth: I don't swim as well as I thought I did.
Looking back over the times I'd been swimming as an adult, I realized that most of the time I didn't actually swim. Going to the lake on a friend's boat usually meant we'd anchor in a cove and jump in, but most of the time we had floaties or noodles or some other item designed to allow you to relax in the water. And 'relaxing in the water' just isn't conducive to completing the swim part of a triathlon.
Over the following months, I devoted my time to swimming and biking. It was obvious to me that I needed to be committed to my time in the water or else face the possiblity that I could become the first drowning victim in the Austin Danskin's history. Add to this the fact that I hadn't been on a bicycle in decades and you can see my work was cut out for me. I borrowed a bike from the lovely Ms. Tanya and began a bike-to-work venture with Frederick, who has biked to work off and on for a year. I can attest to the fact that our ride in to downtown Austin is a fairly easy, mostly down hill ride. The flip side is that the ride home is mostly up hill. Suffice it to say I love the rides in to work.
Halfway through the training season, I conquered my fear of bike wrecks by conveniently falling off my bicycle. I had a thrilling fast ride down Congress Avenue from the Capitol, no buses or 'Dillos in front of me, green lights all the way...until 7th Street. I stopped fast at the light, yanked my right shoe out of the cage and then leaned...left. It was a classic slow motion fall. The homeless man on the corner was very concerned and asked if I needed help (no) and "do you do this often?" (umm, yeah, falling down is one of my unfortunate habits). I hopped up, mounted my bike and once I was at work, attempted to stop the bleeding on my badly scraped left knee. At least I know that the asphalt is indeed just as hard as it looks.
A few weeks ago, Frank talked me into going to spin class with him at PureAustin. He gave me a couple of free passes so that I couldn't say no. :-) For those of you who haven't done a spin class before, let me describe one for you. Spin class is where you get on special stationary bikes that are outfitted with shoe clip type pedals or you can snap on shoe cages and then you get on, warm up by simulating your normal easy bike riding speed and resistance while an instructor who is quite possibly the Son of Satan (or daughter) comes in, smiles a lot, lets you get a great look at his rockin' body while he plugs in his special laptop that contains music suitable to match the course he's decided on (which his computer program tracks so he knows when we are on flats or hills), smiles a lot, gets on his bike and then proceeds to have you pedal like the devil is chasing you and turn the resistance up and down while sometimes staying in the saddle and sometimes popping up and riding while standing, all the time smiling a lot, and when you just can't take it anymore he'll say something encouraging like "one more minute" and fool you into thinking class is almost over when in reality it's just the time left in the song that's playing and you spin, spin, spin and feel very happy that the hottie instructor is sweating like a pig along with you even though he's smiling a lot and still speaking without struggling for oxygen and finally you are slowing down, thighs burning and calves screaming not to mention the red ache in the pubic bone area and Lucifer is still smiling but now he's shouting out how great you all are, how he knew you were up for the challenge and when you make it off the bike for the slow stretch out while the instructor delivers his signature line of "always looking forward, never looking back" you start thinking that maybe, possibly, you might just do this again....that is spin class.
After driving the bike route for the Danskin I sent a silent prayer up for the few classes I've done. I know that the bike portion will take a lot out of me. There's at least one hill that I have a hard time imagining going up without having to dismount and walk my bike.
So here I am, six days before my first Tri and I'm excited, nervous, anxious and thrilled. I am concentrating on positive thinking and holding onto a 'you can do it!' attitude. I'm pushing my 3-4 liters of water a day. I've planned out my meals for the rest of the week to ensure I eat plenty of veggies and carb load appropriately. And I'm dead set on 8 hours of sleep each night.
Those who know me well are used to my addiction to literary quotes. I've found other peoples' words, thoughts and experiences to be very uplifting, especially when you're at a low point in training or in life in general. My motivational quote for the week is the text from a Nike ad:
"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
I'm thinking YES. I'm eating, breathing, dreaming YES. I'm setting realistic goals for this event. They are simply to have a good experience in the water and to finish. I know it will be tough. I know there will be a time or even many times when I'll want to quit. But the no's are meaningless to me. And when I cross that finish line you will see me shouting "YES!!"