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Weekend of firsts

15 Sep

There were a lot of firsts this weekend.

I went to the north shore to see my friend JB and her husband. That was a first – I hadn’t been to visit them before. JB and I were friends in college – well, we knew each other in college. I don’t think we were close at all. But Facebook has changed that in recent years. We talk fairly often and she invited me up. And the north shore is always fun, so I figured why not.

I think the last time I was on the north shore was at least 10 years ago. I think the last time was when my ex-husband and I were up there probably in 2005? Or before? Craziness. It’s so beautiful there with fun things to do. Why has it been so long?

Anyway, I drove up Friday night after work. Last week at work was a crazy week. Between my regular job and my part-time job, I worked about 55 hours and didn’t get home before 8:00 any night. Needless to say, I was tired. But I knew we’d have a short weekend, so I figured how bad could it be?

Bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I was so tired. Just before I got to Duluth, I was focusing on how much I needed to focus on driving. Past Duluth, it’s a two lane state highway with zero lights. That was fun. Especially when the car in front of me turned off the road. So I had no one in front of me to be a guide. But I made it safe and sound and without accidents. Whew. But, another first…driving up there alone.

Saturday we went to Split Rock Lighthouse. Another first. I had never been there. And it’s kinda considered one of the top ten landmarks in the state to visit. So we toured the lighthouse – which involved for me a small panic attack about climbing into the actual lighthouse. It’s a spiral staircase. Open heights bother me – the sheer drop on one side makes me dizzy. But I couldn’t go down because there were people behind us. So I continued up. In the lighthouse, I was a bit dizzy but not too bad. My legs though hurt – I think all the muscles tensed up during the panic attack. And then we had to climb down. JB was awesome and supportive. I went slow and tried not to look down the left side.

Then we hiked. Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever been on a hike. I mean, I’ve been outdoors. But not walking and climbing on trails. There are 12 miles of trails at Split Rock; I have no idea how far we went. But you can see the lighthouse here:

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And we kept going after that and looped around back to the lighthouse.

Then we went back to JB’s house and canned. I’ve never canned before but have wanted to learn. So I was excited to learn! They canned a ton of crap every year – spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, roasted tomatoes. I helped (kinda) with salsa and spaghetti sauce. And I feel like I learned enough to be able to try it on my own! Think of the money I could save – once I make the investment in equipment that is. Bonus: they sent me home with some salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce. Score!

Sunday we went to Tettegouche state park and did a short hike. Another first – I don’t think I’ve been to Tettegouche before. Stunning views of course:

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Lake Superior is so breathtaking. And awesome in the awe-inspiring sort of way. Those of you who live on or near oceans know this far better than I do. But Lake Superior is just to big, so majestic, so POWERFUL. I don’t think I could ever go on that lake. Especially after you hear about the shipwrecks.

Then sadly, I had to leave. Drove home by myself. I stopped at Betty’s Pies – another first! I have never eaten there. But I’ve heard so much about it that I had to stop. And the pies? Well worth the hype and then some! I got blueberry and Great Lake Crunch. I didn’t keep all of them though even though I wanted to. But they’re so good!! (OMG I just found out you can buy them online!)

So it was a great weekend. And I could feel myself relaxing the whole time. The tension in my shoulders and my headaches went away. Ahhhhhh. Of course, now they’re back. Boo.

I’m looking forward to going up there again soon – JB said she’d teach me to snowshoe!

Grateful for the weekend

7 Sep

*I had a migraine Friday night. (This is not what I’m grateful for.) Luckily I can catch them before they develop into a full-blown headache. But it still makes me want to lie on the couch in a dark room. But I’m grateful that I can take OTC medication for it and that I don’t get the full headaches anymore. (Please don’t let me have jinxed it.)

*I’m grateful to have a boss at my part-time job who understands health issues like that and allows me to reschedule my work. Thanks, WH!

*I’m grateful for friends who have coffee birthday gatherings and invite me. And let me bring a friend to crash it. It was so fun to meet everyone else and catch up for a bit. Thanks, JK!

*I’m grateful for having a friend like SP who is willing to go to the Renaissance Festival with me. And who laughs at the all the people with me. We always have a great time. Thanks, SP!

*I’m grateful for finding my friend ML at the festival who worked out there when I did 20 years ago and who still does. I haven’t seen him in probably 18 years. We lost touch and then he found me on Facebook. But it was so awesome to see him in person. And get the giant bear hugs from him again. He was the kindest person when I worked out there – always very welcoming. I have a soft spot for him (along with the other guys I knew out there: EC & MC). Thanks, ML!

*I’m grateful I was able to focus today and get a lot done. While not watching TV. It feels good to have accomplished so much! Thanks, brain!

For giggles…here’s me and MC while on duty…in 1996. How was that 18 years ago?!?

renfest

A week so bad, you can only laugh

24 Aug

The universe hated me this week.

*Sunday night, I forgot to set up my coffeepot. So no coffee Monday morning.

*Monday night, I remembered to set up the coffeepot, but I forgot that the timer had reset itself. So it brewed at midnight. No coffee Tuesday morning.

*Monday, I went home sick at noon because I had the worst stomach-ache. On my way home, I got my very first speeding ticket.

*I woke up Monday with a crick in my neck; I couldn’t look over my left shoulder. Which made washing my hair difficult. And the pain didn’t go away.

*Tuesday, I could look over my shoulder, but my neck and shoulders were so tight, they hurt. So I got a massage (first one in probably five years) thinking that would loosen me up. It didn’t. So I was cranky that I spent that money without it helping. (Although yoga helped a bit.)

*Wednesday, I spilled my coffee at work. Luckily I was able to move out of the way, otherwise I would have had a lap full of coffee.

*Payday was Wednesday. Every payday, I take out cash to use as my spending money for the next two weeks. At lunch that day, I went to the ATM. And forgot my PIN. After literally 16 years of having the same PIN (I know, I know), I just forgot it. Had to go to the bank to have them reset it. And after I did that, I remembered the PIN.

*Thursday, I accidentally erased some work on a spreadsheet I was working on. And in trying to do “Undo” numerous times, I screwed it up more and had to start over on the whole thing.

*Thursday, I read the FDA notice about the almond butter and peanut butter recall. They were recalled for possible salmonella contamination. Turns out, my almond butter was in that. It could explain why my stomach hurt all week and why it stopped hurting when I stopped eating the almond butter!

*Friday, I knocked over my coffee at work again. Luckily the lid was on so it didn’t spill.

cranky-pants

I was really cranky at the beginning of the week from all this, but by the end I had to just laugh. I mean, what else could I do?

Takin’ the A train

9 Aug

The twin cities do not have a mass transit culture like Chicago or NYC have. We have a bus system, but most people who use it either don’t have a car or work downtown and don’t want to pay for parking. We used to have streetcars, but the cities took them out in the 60s. My parents talk about taking the streetcars when they were kids and through high school But they also talk about the ice wagons, so…

Anyway, a few years ago (maybe 5? 7? I don’t remember), they opened a light rail line between downtown Minneapolis and the airport/Mall of America. I’ve never used it. But this summer, they opened a new line between the two downtowns. green lineIt goes right through campus, and there’s a station about a 10 minute walk from my new place. But I still haven’t used it.

Until yesterday.

Why yesterday? Well, the MN Vikings are without a stadium right now while they rebuild theirs. And so they’re playing on campus for two years. No biggie, as I’m not usually at work on a Sunday. But they had a pre-season game last night at 7, and I knew traffic would be hell trying to get off campus after work. So I thought I’d take the train.

My friend SP doesn’t have a car and works downtown, so she is a mass transit expert. I made her kinda walk me through where to buy the tickets, etc. Which she was more than willing to do. So I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though it’s really not that complicated and I probably could have figured it out.

So I walked to the station – took about 10 minutes. I just missed one train, so I had to wait 10 minutes for the next. Poor timing on my part. Well, not poor timing – I just left later than I had planned on. When I got on the train, it was pretty empty. But it quickly filled, and by the time we got to campus, it was about 2/3 full. The ride took about 20 minutes. (Actually 23 minutes, if you’re curious.) I then had about a 10 minute (not even) walk to get to my office.

Here’s my big debate now: do I give up my parking contract and just take the train to/from work?

Pros:
Cheaper. About $35 less per paycheck.
Use way less gas each month.
Less wear and tear on my car which means less maintenance.
No traffic issues ever.
Pretty relaxing ride – very air-conditioned! And the stations have heat (in the winter).
More green – doing my part to help the environment.

Cons:
Less flexibility – can’t just leave and run somewhere after work.
Having to walk probably 15 minutes each way in whatever kind of weather we’re having. (Right now, my parking contract is in a garage that’s connected to my building by tunnels.)

Yep, can’t decide. I’ll probably try it a few more times, maybe in some icky weather, just to see how it feels. But if you have any opinions on it, let me know!

We all have that one thing…

5 Aug

We all have that one thing. You know, the thing we’re totally vain about? The one thing about ourselves that we love? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. For me, it’s my hair. It’s not GREAT hair – no hair modeling pictures or anything. But I have thick hair. That’s what most people comment on – that and the color but we’ll get to that. And for the thickness, that’s just good old genetics at work. But I get a lot of compliments on my hair – always have – and recently lots of people have been asking about my hair care routine. So here are my tips for hair aka what I do about my hair.

1. Get a good stylist. I go to Jennifer at Mezzanine Salon. She is fantastic! She knows me, she knows what I like, what I’ll put up with, how far to push me in changes…absolutely the best stylist I’ve ever had. She’s the one who convinced me that going brunette (from my natural color with blond highlights which is what I had) would look great. (My natural color is a dirty dishwater blond. I think? It’s been a while since I’ve seen it.) She’s been good at making small, palatable changes with my hair. And finally in January I realized that her changes were always good even if I was skeptical at first. (Because I’m proud of my hair and draw a lot of confidence from it, I’m always hesitant to change it.) And I trust her completely. So I let her know that the next cut and color were up to her. I had complete faith in whatever she thought was best. So we talked about it and in February, she cut off 6 inches and added red to the brunette. I love it! Since then, because then she was still a little nervous about how I’d take a major change like that, she’s added more red each time I color and some blond highlights that look better than they sound. So, bottom line…find a stylist you love and who understands you and your likes/wants.

You know how I’ve talked about how important it is to talk to your dance teacher? Same thing here…talk to your stylist. Jennifer lets me ask a ton of questions – what does this product do, how do I style that, I have this problem when drying my hair…it’s great. I try to tip well to compensate for all my questions.

2. Invest is good styling tools. I use a $20 hairdryer from Target, but I bought a professional grade flat iron and curling iron. Regular Target-type flat irons and curling irons just can’t compete with the thickness.

3. Use good product. Haircare is the one place I won’t go cheap; I buy salon brands. And after using salon brands for about 6 years, I can see a difference in my hair. It used to be big and kinda frizzy; I had to use a flat iron every day to try and tame it. (Not like 80s mall hair big – just poofy due to the thickness.) I’m a big believer in Bumble & Bumble products. They work for me and my hair.

4. Don’t wash your hair every day. Even the idea of that one was super hard for me to get used to. Until I went brunette and realized my color will last longer (and therefore I wouldn’t need to color as often) if I didn’t wash it every day. I wash it about every three days give or take. Except I do wash my bangs every day unless I’m pulling them back completely. They get greasy gross if I don’t.

So my routine…

*wash hair (B&B thickening shampoo – it’s not really to thicken my hair, it just means it’s not as heavy as others)

*use conditioner (B&B Super Rich conditioner – lots of moisture)

*spray on B&B Tonic

*rub two pumps of Moroccan Oil into the ends

*dry completely (or almost completely – it takes about 15 minutes to dry my hair completely so sometimes (often?) I get lazy and stop at “dry enough”).

*use flat iron.

*spray bangs with hairspray (B&B blue can)

On the non-wash days, I curl it with a curling iron to get some body and bounce and to hide the dirtiness. And on day three, it’s usually a ponytail or a bun.

Once a week I do a hair mask. I got out of that habit in the last year or so, because it’s awkward to live with someone and walk about in a hair mask. Brings the vanity to the forefront. Especially awkward when the person you’re living with has no hair due to cancer. I used to use the B&B Quenching Masque. But it got expensive for me (I have to use a lot due to the thickness of my hair). So I started using coconut oil, which works almost better. Wash hair but leave out conditioner, rub about 3 tablespoons into the ends, wrap in a towel, let sit for 30-120 minutes. I leave it almost two hours. I usually just watch a movie while I’m waiting. Then wash as normal.

So there you go! For those of you who have asked, that’s what I do. And I am by NO MEANS an expert. I just have listened and learned over the last six years. So now I sound like I know what I’m doing.

(And did any of us ever think we’d see the day where I was talking about something about myself I’m proud of??? Oh how far we’ve come…)

Here we go…

2 Aug

In October 2010, I moved back with my parents. Partially to help them out as they got their house ready to sell, and partially to save money. You see, I had a plan of how to reach some financial goals in terms of debt and retirement. So I had to spend as little as possible. But I needed to keep dancing. Yes, needed. I can’t imagine my life without it. So for four years, I lived on a cash-only basis, I didn’t go out much, I didn’t buy a lot of clothes, I ate out less, I put my stuff in storage and stayed with friends paying cheap rent. My target date, if all went according to plan, was July 1, 2014.

And you know what? I MADE IT. I’m now debt-free, I’ve looked at my retirement and savings and am track, and I have a habit of operating with cash only, no credit.

When I moved four years ago, I knew where I wanted to live when I was out on my own again. And I found an apartment in that complex. The rent is a little higher than I was planning on. But I readjusted my budget and just know that things will be a bit tighter for a short while. It’s worth, though, to live in a grown-up place in a neighborhood I love.

July was crazy. I moved. And after moving so many times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and now 2014 – yikes), I know that moving is the most stressful thing I can do to myself. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice over the last few years in how to cope with it. Rule number one: Have professionals do the actual moving. Rule number two: Unpack as quickly as possible. I moved on a Wednesday morning and had the last things done on Saturday. BOOM.

And while money is tighter, it’s not horribly tight. I can still go out with friends, I can buy some clothes, and most importantly, I can still afford all my dancing. And I’m excited to live my life again! I’m in my own apartment, which hasn’t happened since 2010. I just feel like it’s all starting over, I get to be a grown-up again and not crash with friends. I really can’t describe how excited I am. I’ve been inspired to cook and bake again, and I’ve started going to the gym every day before work. (OK, it’s literally a two-minute walk door-to-door, so how can I not? But still…I’m there every morning!)

And I love my apartment! It’s got enough space but not so much that cleaning’s a pain. All my stuff fits in nicely, and there’s great storage too. The kitchen is fantastic, although I haven’t cooked with an electric stove and oven in years. But I’m adjusting to that.

I owe my parents and my friends a lot for letting me live with them and pay cheap rent. I can never describe to any of them what that support and help means to me. Without them, I would have had to stop dancing. And can you imagine me without dancing? That’d be one sad Cathy. Let’s not go back there, shall we?

I wish I was a better writer so I could convey just how energized I am now to do THINGS. I’m knitting again, I’m baking, I’m reading, I’m RUNNING again (right? yeah it’s been a while)…I am HAPPY. So very happy.

happy-dance

I’m lucky to have the friends I have

27 May

I have good friends. As in these-people-really-know-how-to-be-a-friend kind of good.

I feel especially that right because I’m having another stupid episode. The details don’t matter, but it’s a convergence of things happening that is making me feel insignificant. AGAIN. I’m so tired of fighting this stupid wiring in my brain on this shit. I hate that it’s a constant struggle. And while I know it’s just faulty wiring and I have many more tools to fight it than I used to, I still hate it. I would love to be carryfree and not an overanalyzer. (That’s a word.)

I’m lucky to have a therapist who is really good and who can help. I’m lucky to have friends who will put up with me when I hit these episodes. I never show how bad the episodes are – I rarely even talk about them here in any great detail – because I’m afraid that the next time will be the time no one wants to deal with it and I won’t have any friends anymore. Totally irrational fear. Based on some real past experiences.

So thanks, friends, for hanging in there with me. I feel so grateful that you haven’t left me yet. And don’t worry – I’ll pull myself out of this soon. Then we can have fun again.

Please to make your acquaintance…again

14 May

Hi there.

peeking-from-behind-the-curtains

Remember me? It’s been a while, hasn’t it. Sorry I’ve been missing. Life…well, life got a bit crazy the last few months.

My dance teacher left. I know, right? He’s off to exciting new things with opening his own studio. But in a different part of the country, so I can’t continue to take lessons with him. Very sad. I’ve told you before what a big influence he’s been in my life. And now he’s gone. Once I found out he was leaving, I had to take some time to grieve the end of the relationship. And grieve what he won’t be here for in the future. And figure out who I was going to take lessons with after he left. That’s all been done…although the grieving might take some more time. Like the end of any relationship, romantic or otherwise, it’ll pop up especially at milestones. I have a plan going forward for my lessons and my dancing. I’ve talked to my new instructors about what I need from my teachers and how they can help me. While I’m sad to see my teacher go, I’m extremely happy for him. And I’m ready to move my dancing forward with different teachers.

There was some potential for some things to change at work recently too. Luckily they’re not, but that would have added to it as well.

And as some of you know, I’ve been working towards some financial goals the last few years. That’s made me live cheaply and on a cash-only basis. But I’ve kept dancing through it all. And now I’m almost at my goals – I will be by July 1 – so I started looking for an apartment. And I found one! In the building I wanted to be in!

So LOTS of transitions going on for me right now. And too many transitions can paralyze me. Or at least make me withdraw into a suburb of the thinky place. So all that is why I’ve been missing from here.

But I’ve missed you! I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed the feeling I get processing things here instead of just in my brain.

But I’ve had the Stanley Cup playoffs to keep me entertained. Silly MN Wild, losing to the Blackhawks like that. SIGH. Oh well, now I can say ‘Go Toews’ with a clear conscience!

March madness, the boyfriend way

11 Mar

I like March Madness although I’m not a huge fan of basketball. (C’mon, it’s a winter sport and so’s hockey. So I spent all my time watching hockey not basketball. Plus the squeaky shoes drive me nuts.) I enjoy the brackets and seeing who’s in and who’s out. But it’s not my life by any means.

HOWEVER…

Here is a bracket I can get behind. My friend B does this every year on her blog. I believe we’re in year three now? First it was the movie boyfriend bracket. Last year was the TV boyfriend bracket. This year, in a stroke of sheer genius, it’s the celebrity boyfriend bracket. So all those actors you have crushes on. And HOCKEY players. (What. Hockey players here and on the next season of Dancing with the Stars?!? My life is complete.) And it’s got a play-in round!

So go check out B’s blog. And while you’re there, subscribe so you get notices to vote every week. You can make your case for any guy in the comments section. It gets pretty heated sometimes! What can I say, we’re passionate about our fictional boyfriends.

But please, please, please…vote for Jason Bateman in the play-in round RIGHT NOW.

jason-bateman

(And read the rest of B’s stuff. She’s a great and entertaining writer.)

Refocus…AGAIN

10 Mar

OK, so every year at New Year’s, I try to refocus. But this year, January was super busy with work, then I got the flu. So now I think I’m over the flu (mostly, anyway). And I’ve gained about 10-15 pounds since Thanksgiving.

So starting today, I’m refocusing again. Food and exercise. Must lose those pounds and get back to where I was, ideally where I was right before I broke my foot. I think that was when I was in the best shape – the thinnest and the strongest and the healthiest.

The thing is I’m not very good at the long haul. I tend to get discouraged and quit when I don’t see immediate results. Dancing is the only place where that’s not true. In dancing, I can wait for the long term gain. But elsewhere in life, not so much.

Every Sunday, I do the crosswords in the paper. And the horoscopes are right next to the crosswords, so I read mine(Virgo), just for fun. But here was today’s:

horoscope

A timely reminder right? Each decision, each day. I can do that.

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