July 2010 Archives
The Muddy Buddy is this Sunday! I am both extremely nervous and extremely excited. I have no doubt that it will be a tough race, but once I am in it I know that I will commit 100% and it won't be so bad. It is the unknown of it that is wigging me out. For those who don't know, it is a 6ish mile race where you ride a bike for half of it, and run half of it, with obstacles in between. It finishes in a giant mud pit.
To properly train, I've been amping up my workouts. Lots of arm strength exercises (pushups, weights, resistance tubes, boxing), I started running again (I hadn't really since the Bastille Day 5K), and the other day I rode Fuzzy's mountain bike for the first time (we are going to bike more tomorrow, so I can get more comfortable on it.)
Last week, I went with my friend Claire to her personal trainer. I had never been to a personal trainer before, so I was scared. Claire assured me that it wouldn't be hard, but instead it would be a lot of fun. I wasn't so sure, but I was ready for the challenge.
Uh, yeah. Sprints, planks, hurtles, sprints, burpees, pushups, sprints, lunges, planks, hops, pull ups, leg throwing leg exercises. It was HARD. But it was awesome. I can definitely see the benefit of having a trainer--I did WAY more than I ever thought that I could, and it really helped having someone say "ok, Erica, only 2 more!" and things like that. It was the hardest I've ever worked out. I feel like I rocked some things, and bit it on others, but I did the best I could, and I am proud of that. Sometimes I could barely catch my breath, but I never gave up. The ab work was my strongest segment, and we ended on that, so I left feeling like a badass. The rest of the night, I was jelly, however. And adorably, Fuzzy and I bought each other the exact same dinner that night (Delicious Gaztro Wagon. So dangerous...so close to our apartment.)
Friday I woke up not too sore and I was like "I'M KING OF THE WORLD!" I was all proud of myself and feeling good. I bragged to Claire that I was proud of myself for having it not kick my ass.
And then Saturday came along.
And I could barely move.
Oh, how waking up was difficult. Oh how walking was difficult. Oh how lifting my arms was difficult. Oh how I HAVE BOXING AT 11AM ON SATURDAYS.
The following things were against me. 1) I couldn't move a single muscle in my body. 2) There were only 2 other people in class, so I had nowhere to hide. 3) The other 2 guys are both amateur boxers.
Fortunately, my teacher (not the sub) likes me and we have a great rapport. I told him about my training session and he told me to listen to my body and what I needed to do, but that he was going to try to push me and the 2 dudes as much as he could. He also decided that the first half of the class was going to be on the clock: 2 minutes shadow boxing, 1 minute off (3 times), 2 minutes heavy bags, 1 minute off (3 times), 2 minutes jump roping, 1 minute off (3 times.) No breaks. Oh my God. Then it was defense drills with the amateur boxers and they weren't hurting, so they were going all out, so therefore I had to, too, or I was going to again be punched in the face. Then we went back to back to back passing around a GIANT medicine ball using only our upper bodies. I did a really great job of sweating all over the ball and then dropping it. Real nice. The walk home took all my remaining energy away, so all I could do the rest of the day was sleep and drink beer. I mean, it was ALL I COULD DO. Well, I guess later, we went for a walk, I switched to vodka cranberries and Fuzzy made the most amazing fried chicken I have ever eaten in my life, so it wasn't all terrible.
Speaking of sweat, I am sweating more now than ever before. My hands are sweating, my legs are pouring, I am changing clothes a couple times a day and carrying towels with me daily. In boxing, I develop a nice puddle on the mat everywhere I go. I'm like the Pigpen of sweat. It's ok, though, I am used to it. Just a part of what makes me so special, right?
I've been on 2 runs this week, and they were a lot easier than I expected, so I feel like I am in good shape for Sunday. I will be doing the harder run part of the race, and Fuzzy is taking the harder bike part. Working out and eating healthy organic veggies is making me feel so much better mentally and physically, but I have to say--this week it was a really nice surprise to put on a skirt that was tight since I bought it and have it fit perfectly. Not to be a big giant cliche here, too, but I also tried on my skinny jeans that I had grown out of, and I am happy to say that those fit again, too. Since I am approaching my 2 week bikini vacation, that is a real nice feeling.
Oh man, hilarious.
Urlesque.com has a face off between Cats, Owls, and Any Animal You Want.
APES CLOSES TONIGHT!
This is Steve's side job, a real business, and this video is shown before every Apes show.
So last week, Fuzzy and I decided to do some pranks.
We did this.
SUCCESS! PRANKS! SCHMOXY!
I DJ'd DDPP for the first time yesterday, and it was amazing, wonderful and everything I ever hoped it would be. I can't wait to do it again, and I am sad that weekly Sundays don't start again till the fall! I (heart) DDPP. Here's the blog post about it! I am so proud.
This week, we got this letter (below) from Joel Hall, the Artistic Director of the Joel Hall Dancers & Center where I take class. Usually, I feel weird asking for donations for things other than cancer research, but JHDC has really changed my life. I have found so much love and joy in myself and dancing again, and it was the first step I took towards getting fit and doing things for ME. I feel so invigorated after each class, and I can tell that I am really getting stronger and improving. I also feel like I am a small part of the family now, too, as I feel I have friends at the studio in my teachers and fellow dancers. The classes at JHDC have really brought me so much joy--I do not want them to be taken away.
Fuzzy and I have donated a small amount--every bit helps! If you would like to help out as well, please click here. Thank you so much!
From Joel Hall:
The Joel Hall Dancers & Center is facing an urgent crisis. Revenues are not meeting expenses. During the current economic downturn, we've kept tuition at reasonable rates and continue extensive scholarship outreach to underserved communities. At the same time, grants have become much more difficult to obtain.
We--the entire JHDC community--are in danger of losing our home. This is truly a crisis and your help is needed--immediately! We must raise thousands of dollars in very few days.
For over 36 years I, along with generations of students, parents, a dedicated staff, faculty, board of directors and other companies in residence, have lovingly struggled to create the most welcoming and creative performing arts space in Chicago. Now, we are calling on each of you--current students, alumni, friends and those who cherish the art of dance and community--to donate.
The urgency is not exaggerated. Significant funds must be quickly raised. Donate whatever you can. Forward this appeal to friends, family, your place of employment--to everyone--along with a message letting them know the impact JHDC has made on your life.
Senior leadership is formulating a plan for sustainability to ensure that we do not find ourselves in this type of crisis situation again. Our old strategies will not work in this current economic environment. Please understand, tuition, ticket sales, and fundraising activities do not cover all of our expenses and funding for the arts has been dramatically reduced. We are owed money by the state but don't know when or if we might receive it.
Any amount you can give is appreciated. Checks cash and credit cards are happily accepted. The easiest way to donate is by using PayPal, available through a link on the JHDC website at joelhall.org. You may also mail a donation or stop by in-person:
Joel Hall Dancers & Center
5965 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60660
Help now so the Joel Hall Dancers & Center can continue to thrive--and exist--with integrity. Please make your tax deductible contribution TODAY!
Very truly yours,
Joel Hall Dancers & Center
Happy birthday to my friend since first grade Jill Kathleen Ashley Fields! Yeah!
If I had actually thought ahead of time, I would have found some good photos from Culkin, Warren Jr or WCHS to put up here, but SOON. I promise. BWAH HAHAHAH! (in the meantime, you can scroll down and see some.)
I hope you have a great day!
And remember: You. And Me. We. Us. Are. Awesome.
Thinking back on my younger years, I always thought I was a giant dork. Let's be serious, I know I was a giant dork, but it looking at all these old photos, it looks like I was pretty cool! I had style, personality, I had it goin' on! Take a look:
(Lot's of special appearances in there by Sarah.)
I've only had 4 boxing classes so far. I love it.
In my 4 classes, I've twice had the regular teacher, and twice had a substitute. The regular teacher believes in the importance of it being a beginners class, so we work a lot of form, technique, and taking things slow. He also emphasizes that it is a non-contact class (with classmates--we hit the heavy bags plenty), and he wants us to get used to using mouthpieces, etc. The substitute does some of these things, but has us run combination drills and we hit things a lot more. So far, I find them both equally enjoyable.
I went to class on Saturday after 2 weeks off (Beachathon and July 3rd), and was excited to get going. We had the sub, and the class was a lot smaller than normal. I was also the only woman in class, when the other times I've been there's been at least one other. So here is shrimpy little me with a bunch of burly guys, #1.
#2, the advanced class meets right after the beginner class, so most people just come to both to get a little more boxing time in. #3, I think the teacher would rather just monitor the more advanced guys in class, but he is really great about working with me and making sure I am getting proper training. He even said this week that I am a lot better than the last time he taught.
So we're running these defense drills, working on slips (dodging) and parries (blocking punches) when the teacher says to me, "You know, you are hitting too much when you parry, really, it is just a block and not a hit. I think we just work on taking some hits."
Taking some hits?
"Yeah, you know, the first couple times you get hit in the face, it is pretty jarring, but then you get used to it and how it feels."
Me: "Do I need to grab my mouthguard?"
Him: "Nah, I'm not going to hit you that hard."
So I get into position (see above photo) and dude proceeds to hit me over and over in the face. It was, in fact, jarring.
All I could do was laugh. He's punching my gloves, which are punching me in the face. It was like I was paying this guy to say "Why are you hitting yourself? Why are you hitting yourself?"
I apologized to him for laughing, and he says "Yeah, it is really counter-intuitive. You'd really probably just run if you were being hit in the face in real life, but here, we just have to learn to take a hit. Ok, here we go..." and then he started punching me again.
It was hilarious. It lasted a 3 minute round, but it seemed like eternity. I had a wedding to go to that night, and I was envisioning bruised cheekbones. I punched myself in the eye with my glove.
So I stop and say "So, you are holding your hands up higher than I was here--which is the better way do it it?" and he says, "Oh, yeah, the way you were holding them is right--I just don't like banging my gloves into my eyes."
Right. Of course.
It was hilarious. And now, I am not so scared to really be hit in the face. I am also happy to say that I have no facial bruising. I was, however, a little disoriented when I was leaving class, and it resulted in me accidently calling Fuzzy about 4 or 5 times while I was trying to play songs on my iPod (every time I hung up, I ended up dialing him again), dropping my ID on the sidewalk, and then bending over to pick it up, only to discover that the lid was not on my water bottle, spilling water all over the sidewalk, my iPod and myself.
Yeah, I'm a badass.
Yesterday, Fuzzy and I were signed up to run the Bastille Day 5K. I had set a goal for myself to run the whole thing without walking, and I was excited and ready to do so. However, with all these crazy-ass out-of-nowhere storms we've been having, I was afraid that it wasn't going to happen.
I got home from work, and it started raining in our neighborhood. First a drizzle, then a downpour. I called Fuzzy at work to get his advice on what we should do. He said he would bike down there a little early, check out the scene and call me. I waited, doing some warmups and finding ways to pass the time. When he called at about 6:45 he said the weather looked ok, and asked if "I would like to join him on an adventure." I was ready! The race started at 7:30, so I gathered all my things, grabbed my bike and headed out at about 7:00.
I am still basically a beginner at bike commuting, but I am definitely getting better and more confident. I was concerned, though, that I wasn't going to make it down to the Nature Museum in time for the start, but I kept trucking. Then I was concerned that I was going to use up all my energy on the 5 mile commute down there and not be able to run the whole thing, but I was DETERMINED.
I showed up at the site and found Fuzzy at about 7:20-7:25ish. We had just enough time to lock up our bikes and gear check before they sounded the alarm to start. We just jumped right on in there! I was tired and thirsty, but I stayed focused even when it started sprinkling on us a bit. It was certainly hard, but we just kept going and going. Once we got to mile 2, I was wasn't about to give up--I was going to make it to 3.1 dammit.
AND WE DID! I RAN THE WHOLE THING!
Right when we crossed the finish line, it really started to rain. I grabbed Fuzzy, and we embraced and held each other in the rain. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was especially cool cause there was no one there cheering us on, no one there to take photos. It really felt that we were doing it for ourselves; it didn't matter that no one else cared how we did--we cared.
Here are the official results:
I think the bike ride down was a great warmup--my joints were loose and I was already tired, so I didn't have a crash halfway through. My stamina is so much better than ever before. After the race, we had some water and snacks, grabbed our gear, and biked the 5 miles back! Badass! Today, my knees are kinda jacked, but that is ok.
I also learned what my biggest motivator is when I am exercising--beer. HA! As we were running, I kept saying to Fuzzy "Man, I want a beer." and "Man, I can't wait till we can have beer." I think the Beachathon ruined me by having free good beer after the race. Fuzzy said most time a race has beer it is pretty crappy. We celebrated last night by ordering pizza and, you know it, drinking beer.
I am really proud of myself. I NEVER in my whole life thought that I would be a runner, enjoy running, or even be able to do it. And last night, by gum, I did.
I found a second page of the poem that Dad wrote to his radiology clinic! Read the previous portion here!
It also solves this mystery (from my previous post):
"(and don't you know he wanted to use 'kiss' in that last sentence?)"
Here it is:
You'll notice I did not say to "kiss" it.
We wouldn't want your face down there.
Though somehow I feel that you may miss it,
It's not too bad of a derriere.
All jokes aside, thanks for what you do
And please keep me in your prayers and hearts.
Lord willing and with help from folks like you
This will be for me not an end, but a start!
Hmm. So sweet. So Sad.
I have a very special alarm clock. It is a rockin' chicken with a guitar that sings you a special wake-up song. I got it when I was a teenager and I have always loved it. Here is how it goes:
My brother hates this alarm clock.
Really hates it.
I used to call him on the phone and play the song into the receiver. And hide it in his room to scare him.
Once, he broke it (he insists that he didn't), but my electronically minded father just put a new switch in and fixed it right up.
I kind of (more than kind of) love the fact that Christopher hates it.
I found these photos last night:
I must also say that apparently they are now really rare. Here is one on eBay for $100.
Erica: Yeah, my family is a bunch of nerds.
Fuzzy: At least you come by it honestly.
I have a lot to celebrate this July 4th.
I realized last week just how depressed I've been over the last several years. And now much better I am feeling now.
It is so hard to really see depression when you are in it--it just becomes a reality. I knew that I was sad, I knew that things were really different in me and I had changed a lot, but those things were my normal.
I stopped performing.
I stopped hanging out with my friends.
I stopped thinking there was anything to ever look forward to.
I stopped thinking that I was worth anything.
All I was seeing was disease, death, illness, disappointment, and I thought that even when things are going well on the surface they are actually falling apart and miserable so there was no reason to ever get excited.
I am happy to say that I no longer feel this way. And I can look back and see how bad things were.
It's been a process. Therapy has been tremendous help for me, as has been acupuncture and now exercise. I LIKE to feel good, and exercise is giving me that feeling of pushing myself and achieving things I never thought possible. Therapy has given me a place to say the things I've been scared to say and a way to look at myself and things and really PROCESS everything that has happened and is happening in my life. Acupuncture has gotten to a deeper part in my mind and body that I am not always able to reach.
There have also been a number of things that have happened of late that have contributed to this lift in mood--certainly moving mom into her apartment has been a huge factor in that she is able to truly rebuild her life now, and the talks that we had about our relationship and my life have helped too--I feel so much less burdened now that I am not dealing with a crisis 5 times a day. I am happy that she is happy and I am able to focus on my life instead of someone else's. I hope she continues to heal and to thrive, but if something happens and she takes another turn, I can't fall in after her--I have to keep my life going and keep my distance; it's the only way to keep my life going, and I can only hope that that is what Mom and Dad would want--for me to have my own life that makes me happy.
That's just it. My life is my life now. I am not living for anyone else. I am not making decisions for anyone else. I am not responsible for anyone else. Just me. I can't make anyone else happy. I can make myself happy. And I have every right to be happy. That is exactly what I am doing now, and it feels GOOD. I can just be me and spend time with my husband and not care what anyone else wants me to do or thinks I should be doing. This is my time, dammit.
My therapist asked me yesterday if, being out of my depression, I am feeling more like I used to feel, or if this is an all new thing for me. I thought about it, and determined that this is brand new. The first time I've felt this way. In school I was always so stressed. When I moved to Chicago, I had some mental wellness issues that took a while to conquer (and hell, I might never have gotten over), plus I was going out a lot, looking for love, working my ass off for shows and to pay the bills. It was fun, but pretty reckless. Plus, I was still a kid! Flying home a lot, depending on my parents, not knowing what it was truly like to be an adult. When Dad's cancer was diagnosed, I was 25, and that caused me to grow up fast, but also was the start of the depression. Now, I am 31, madly in love and in a wonderful marriage to an utterly incredible man who is my best friend in the whole world, have a great job, amazing friends, and am able to stand on my own two feet. I can make my own decisions, I don't have to answer to anyone. It is a new sensation, and I like it. No, I love it. I keep going back to that phrase--I am an adult--a lot lately, and it means a lot to me.
I can honestly say I've never felt better.
I've been finding my happiness creeping back in. I've been smiling a LOT lately, sometimes for no reason at all. I've not felt completely inadequate in conversations with people I don't know. I've been listening to myself and expressing my opinions without feeling the need to justify or apologize for it. Listening to myself and following my heart and doing what I feel inclined to do, and not doing things out of obligation. Listening to myself and what I need. And last week, finally seeing just how badly things have been, and celebrating how good things are now.
So this Independence Day, I am celebrating my freedom from depression. I am better than ever. I know how blessed I am. It's taken a long time and some shitty things to get here, but I know that God was watching out for me, and I am so grateful to Him for leading me to enlightenment. I don't know where the road is going to lead me next, but I'm excited to find out. It is true that everything in your life makes you stronger and makes you more be the person that you were meant to be.
I know now that I AM worth something.
I DO have a lot to offer the world.
I AM special.
This July 4th, I hope that each of you are able to celebrate your Independence from something that's been holding you back as well.
I am at work right now waiting for the mail to come so I can leave and start my holiday weekend. So far, the working alone thing has been good--I have gotten a lot done around the office and have managed my time wisely and found ways to occupy myself. So far so good.
However, I just got out of my chair, got on the floor, and did 3 pushups.
I am not wearing athletic gear today. I didn't even bring any. I did the Shred level 2 yesterday so I am really sore today.
And so I just did 3 pushups. For no reason. And when I realized that it was hard, I got up and sat back down.
I knew I should have brought Parker to work today!
Speaking of, my husbeen went to a Cubs game this week, and these photos just showed up in his Flickr:
This Wednesday, I got the best piece of mail ever. It was from my sister-in-law, Katie.
Adding to the hilarity, she told me when I called her that she found it while she was out shopping for work things. And that she couldn't pay for it with her work things, obviously anyway, but also because she works for a sexual trauma organization. So she had to pay for it separately.
I am STILL laughing about it. It totally made my day.
Order your own here!
It is important to know that each time I type BEACHATHON! in my head I am exclaiming it loudly.
The Chicago Beachathon is a 4 mile race, thankfully not all on the beach, but from North Avenue beach to Ohio Beach and back, with "8 tropically outrageous beach obstacles!" You are encouraged to wear costumes, specifically hula girl attire or banana suits. Sounds perfect for us! Although we do have a banana suit, we decided against wearing it. That thing is big and hot, yo! (Thats what she said.)
Fuzzy, Claire and I were all running as a team, so we threw together some ghetto costumes. Fuzzy and I shredded our shirts, we carried big foam swords, Claire and I wore Hawaiian leis that Fz and I got at Leigh's birthday party, and Claire picked up colorful headbands for us. We were set to go!
(all photos by the very talented Steve Delahoyde, filmmaker extraordinaire and Claire's husband)
The day was hot and sweaty and the place was packed. The obstacles were goofy and fun, like running up a hill, running through hula men and women, running under a giant net, through giant beachballs, and my favorite, a series of muddy kiddie pools and then running through the lake. We finished the race barefooted and happy. Fuzzy and I finished in about 50 minutes, which I am super proud of!
One of the incentives for doing the race was free beer! Nothing like a cold glass of beer at 10:30 in the morning after a good workout. Here are 3 very happy runners:
After that, continued our celebration by getting sassy haircuts from a Hollywood hairstylist (long story.)