True Life: I’m Still Trying To Be A Runner

Here's a super grainy photobooth picture of me pre-run.

It’s been a month or so since I first posted about my new running endeavor. The truth is I haven’t had much progress. My endurance is still pretty limited. I have to run a few minutes on and then a few walking to recover, with some inhaler puffs mixed in. But I have noticed an improvement in my circulation and cardiovascular ability to keep going. Now the only thing that’s stopping me from running longer distances (and by longer distances, I mean more than one mile…ha) is my breathing. My heart rate seems more steady while I’m running, and it’s a great feeling. Now only if my lungs would catch up! I know my first mistake is expecting results too quickly. It will take more time to get used to it. My goal is to reach a point where my body craves and needs exercise out of habit.

I haven’t gone on too many runs with Drew–it’s a little discouraging when his breathing pattern while running a mile is literally the same as if he was sitting on the couch or taking a leisurely stroll. Speaking of Drew, he has set his sights on another ambitious goal, climbing Mt. Hood this spring. As far as mountains go, Mt. Hood is supposed to be a good one for beginners. The climb starts at midnight, and they hike through the night when the ice and snow is more frozen and secure, and then reach the peak at sunrise. The second Drew suggested doing this, I had visions of us taking an epic picture at the top together with the amazing view.

Reality check: someone who’s 4 foot 11 and 90 pounds with asthma probably isn’t going to do well trying to climb high altitudes at freezing temperatures. I guess I’ll just have to wait for Drew at slightly above sea level worrying about disastrous avalanches and icy cliffs. Feel free to join my pity party.

Anyway, back to running. I haven’t been as consistent as I wanted to be. Sometimes I only run once a week, other times I go three times a week. I refuse to run on a treadmill, and the rain isn’t helping. But maybe I’ll just embrace the rain.

Why You Should Stop Hating on Coldplay

I’ve never understood why many people always have this vendetta against Coldplay. Of all the ridiculous and horrible music that’s out there today on the radio, Coldplay is the one that deserves so much criticism?

Coldplay's fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto, October 2011.

My defense for Coldplay is a result of this article by Claire Suddath from Time Magazine, “Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto: Do I hate Coldplay or Just Think I Do?” First she starts off by saying she didn’t like one of Coldplay’s first hits, “Yellow,” because it was “too sweet, too comforting.” Then a few paragraphs later her first complaint: “Chris Martin appears to have written every lyric while weeping hysterically.” Apparently weeping hysterically while writing lyrics creates something that is also sweet and comforting.

Yes, their single is called “Every Teardrop is A Waterfall,” but that’s a broad generalization for the rest of the album. She also mentions listening to the album in “Coldplay-friendly situations,” which is apparently wherever anyone wants to be a loner. I’m a pretty positive person, and I consider Coldplay to have a good mix of upbeat melodies and slower serious songs. I don’t listen to it because I want to feel lonely and emo–I listen to it when I want to feel inspired.

Another complaint from the review: Their songs are designed to be sung in unison by thousands of people holding lighters. Who doesn’t love a good lighter-waving concert? First people complain about Coldplay being too depressing and “weepy,” but last time I checked “lighter-waving” (or phone-holding) concerts were pretty uplifting and entertaining. That’s fine if you don’t always want serious music, but one band can’t and shouldn’t try to be everything. I appreciate the fact that I can always count on Coldplay to have a sense of continuity in their music throughout all their albums, while bringing something a little different each time.

What’s wrong with people today? When did inspiring poetry about the human condition become not good enough? Maybe we should spend less time tearing down musicians who are dedicated to their art, and spend more time criticizing the ones who glorify money, sex, and cough syrup.

Viva La Vida album cover, December 2010.

My top 10 Coldplay songs:

1. “Fix You”- X &Y

2. “Green Eyes”- A Rush of Blood to the Head

3. “Lost?” – Viva La Vida, bonus track

4. “Paradise” – Mylo Xyloto

5. “Us Against the World” – Mylo Xyloto

6. “Life in Technicolor ii” – Viva La Vida (Prospekt’s March)

7. “The Scientist” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

8. “Strawberry Swing” – Viva La Vida

9. “Daylight” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

10. “Warning Sign” – A Rush of Blood to the Head

Fix You

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Green Eyes

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand

That green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could, anybody, deny you

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter, now I’ve met you
And honey you should know, that I could never go on without you

Green eyes

Honey you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know

That green eyes, you’re the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who, tried to deny you must be out of their mind

The Bon Rouge Lounge & Bistro

For our honeymoon, Drew and I went to Victoria, B.C. It was amazing weather and I had never been to Canada before. On our last night we went to this French restaurant across the street from our hotel called the Bon Rouge Lounge. Of course Drew was slightly afraid of the cuisine this French restaurant might offer, but I was drawn to the restaurant because it had the most beautiful flowers and patio gardening I had ever seen. Even though it was the beginning of September, all the flowers still looked magnificent.

We sat inside because it was a bit chilly, but we were still next to the window for me to admire the foliage and the sunset from indoors. The waitress told us the gardener comes four times a week to keep it up. Luck was already on our side as we discovered that it was “Wine Wednesday” and any glass of wine on the menu was $5. In an attempt to enjoy the local fare we got the Sandhill BC Merlot, and it was divine. But the best part was our starter, the charcuterie plate with proscuitto, soppresatta, chorizo, cheese, pickles, and mustard. The mustard was actually mustard seeds–they were delicious! And I usually don’t like mustard.

The charcuterie plate was my favorite part about this restaurant because it brings me back to the trip to Europe with my dad in 2007, and I loved all the sliced meats and cheeses that seemed to be a regular part of meals at Italian restaurants. My appreciation for wine, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as developed at that point. All in all, the Bon Rouge Lounge was a relaxing break from the endless sea of British pubs that line the streets of Victoria. The modern French interior combined with the romantic floral setting on the patio set this restaurant apart and made us wish there was one like it back in Portland.

(Note, these were taken on my iPhone so they may not do this place justice!)

Inside of the restaurant

The charcuterie plate

Garden and patio view from inside

My crab salad, quite different from the usual Newport Bay crab salad!

True Life: I want to be a runner

Earlier this week I decided that I want to become a runner. I’ve always been terrified of running, and I’ve never even run a full mile in my entire life. The first time I attempted (ahem, was forced…) was one year during high school cheer camp training, and I ended up having to walk half the time. I’ve just always been better at physical technique and dance types of exercise.

Not that I’m about to make excuses, but having asthma doesn’t make things any easier. The last time I tried to run was a couple years ago in my parent’s neighborhood. A huge mistake, considering we live on a giant hill and it was the height of allergy season. It’s so frustrating when I feel like my muscles can do more but my lungs just can’t support it.

Yesterday, I went on the first run of my new endeavor. With my inhaler in hand, I was ready to go. Of course my husband Drew, who has run the Portland marathon, Eugene half-marathon and a few 5k’s here and there (nbd), decided to come with me. This may be a good thing because I need someone to force me to do things like this, otherwise I will just take a nap instead.

I read on http://www.runnersworld.com (at Drew’s insistence, he doesn’t take running advice from anywhere else, apparently) that beginners and people who have asthma should alternate between a few minutes of running, and then like 1-2 minutes of walking to recover your breathing. All in all, the first run was fairly successful. It wasn’t too cold out so that helped my breathing. Drew says we probably went a little under a mile (I know he was attempting to hold back the laughter at this point). He literally didn’t break a sweat, and he hasn’t even run at all for a few weeks either. Maybe one day I will get to that point! Stay tuned.

Barley Browns Brewery

Main Street

Baker City, Oregon

The unassuming exterior of Barley Brown’s sits on Main Street in Baker City, and inside the cozy Western atmosphere is everything you could hope for in a small town brewery restaurant.

The Facts:

  • Claims to have the best American wheat beer in the world.
  • Won the gold medal in the 2010 World Beer Cup in Chicago, which takes place every two years and is sponsored by the Brewer’s Association.

Cliché but necessary signs featured in the restaurant:

  • “You can drink thirty or forty glasses of beer a day no matter how rich you are” – Adolphus Busch
  • “Beer: So much more than just a breakfast drink.”
  • “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” -Ben Franklin (This quote isn’t quite what most brewers think it is, see here)

Observations:

First time ordering a beer by myself (the person I was supposed to meet had to cancel last minute). A man to my left at the bar just got back from a trip where he “killed thousands of salmon” he exaggerates proudly. I wonder what that means?

The restaurant is bustling with locals and families even on a Tuesday night. Some of them must be regulars, and of course in keeping with small town style, all the waitresses know them. “See you next week,” one waitress says to a group leaving.

I don’t know anything about beer. These are just my observations. I ordered the Stumble Off pale ale and the classic spaghetti and meatballs, which was delish. I ordered the pale ale because I recognized that name, and thought that might be something my fiancé had bought before.

Huge mistake! Apparently (as I discovered after) a pale ale has the most hops (whatever that means) making it one of the most bitter tasting beers. Aka not the best one to have when you are just starting out and have no idea what you’re doing, like me.

In general, Barley Brown’s was a great place for a classic Americanized meal, and was definitely the best I had in Eastern Oregon, although you can’t go wrong with spaghetti and meatballs.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

(spoiler alert)

Love:

How they kept Mrs. Weasley’s dialogue from the book during the battle scene

Ron’s ridiculousness

The epic moment when Neville kills Nagini

The special effects with the protection charms around the castle

Ron actually looking like he’s 40 at the end while everyone else looks the same, and it being hilarious

How they managed to fit in Snape’s memories and history in a reasonable amount of time

Snape in general/Alan Rickman

How good Ron & Hermione’s kiss was

Hate:

How awkward Harry & Ginny’s kiss was–it never gets better

That awkward moment when Voldemort hugs Draco Malfoy

How they cut out the part where Voldemort brags and celebrates more about killing Harry/When Harry doesn’t feel the cruciatus curse

The fact that they didn’t include the explanation about Dumbledore’s past (aka why he had all three deathly hallows items, or how Ariana Dumbledore died) I know it’s not realistic to include every story or plot line from the book in the movie, but there are plenty unnecessary added scenes and slow-moving sections between parts 1 & 2 that we could do without.

Most hated: how understated it was when Harry killed Voldemort.

In the book, everyone in the castle watches, the tension builds as Harry explains about the Elder Wand, then he finally kills Voldemort with it, and we see his body fall to the ground looking satisfyingly weak and feeble. Instead, we got an abandoned outdoor entryway and Voldemort disintegrating somewhat honorably into ash, and not nearly as much celebration afterward.

 

Added notes after seeing it a second time:

What was up with McGonagall sending the Slytherins to the dungeon??

More annoyed at the lack of recognition that Harry just killed Voldemort. It’s like he turns to ash, nobody sees it happen except Harry, then suddenly everyone is just in the Great Hall cleaning up and chatting away.

The attempt to add humor with Professor McGonagall saying “boom” was kind of awkward. I know they were trying to make it funny because she’s normally so serious, but she seems out of her element the entire movie anyway so it doesn’t feel as surprising to hear her say those things.

White Wine Sangria

SANGRIA |sa ng ˈgrēə| noun

A Spanish drink of red wine mixed with lemonade, fruit, and spices.

ORIGIN Spanish

Literally ‘bleeding’ ; compare with sangaree

Time: 5-7 minutes

Ingredients: large bottle of favorite white wine (I used Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio), 2 white peaches, 4 strawberries, orange juice, and sprite.

Combine bottle of wine wine, 1/4 cup orange juice, and sliced up fruit in large pitcher. Chill in refrigerator. Add 1/4 cup sprite right before serving over crushed ice.

Group Projects: The Not So Silent Grade Killer

The infamous group project. Commonly results in angry emails, unfair grading, and an utter lack of faith in your peers. Usually due to idealistic professors who assume all students in their class are actually qualified to be there. Listed below are the archetype students of the college group project.

The Inquisitor
–This person questions every single decision the group tries to make, while never offering any ideas him or herself. Constant criticism is the inquisitor’s strong suit–unfortunately there’s this thing called a deadline. The group has to make some decisions, but apparently this person likes to spend hours at the tables in the EMU fishbowl over-analyzing every part of the project.

The Leader
–The sometimes overbearing and annoying group leader. On the other hand, sometimes they are forced to step up when no one else will. This often results in hours of editing everyone else’s sub-par work.

The Quiet One
–This person does the absolute bare minimum, and is probably proud of it. The quiet one gets his or her work done, but rarely offers any ideas or suggestions. Good luck actually getting a promotion in the real world.

The Slacker
–This person relies on everyone else. He (yes he–not going to lie here–it’s usually a guy) does absolutely nothing yet reaps the benefits of everyone’s work. He is late to group meetings, stumbles around his speech, and doesn’t respond to any emails. But there is a way to seek revenge. Document unanswered emails and lack of work, and have everyone else in the group sign off on it before you turn it in to the professor.

Just when you thought college was better than high school, the inescapable group project comes along ruining grades everywhere.

A Reliable Smoke Detector

“Test procedure: hold a smoldering cigarette three inches from your mouth and blow smoke toward the detector.” – A little piece of history on the inside of a cabinet at Drew’s house.

Yes, this may have Drew and his roommates a little worried about the quality (and age) of their smoke detector. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but notice and appreciate the simple and laid-back times of a past so different from today’s lawsuit heavy world.

The Yoga Nazi

So I spent a good part of winter break convincing my fiance Drew that taking a yoga class at school was a good idea. Yoga could help his flexibility, and had helped me relax during midterms and finals. Usually the teacher was the typical hippie-Eugenian with a few facial piercings, but overall pretty nice and laid-back.

Little did we know, the first day of class we had come face-to-face with The Yoga Nazi. “EVERY MAT must be exactly three floor squares apart and there can only be three rows of mats,” said a middle-aged lady with high-water yoga pants caught between being capris and actual pants. Only three rows of mats in an overflowing class like this? That meant every time someone came in a few minutes late the entire row had to scoot over and reposition their mats EXACTLY three squares apart to fit the new person in, when there was plenty of space behind the third row.

“Well maybe she will get better once we actually start doing yoga,” I said, trying to reassure Drew. Instead of meditating and starting our poses, she had everyone gather around her at the front. Then the chanting began. She handed out sheets to everyone with five different chants in Sanskrit. “I promise my other class wasn’t like this,” I reminded Drew.

The first 20 minutes of a 50 minute class were wasted on positioning our mats and chanting in Sanskrit. When we finally got to the yoga part, the nazi emerged in full-force.

“You have the hip flexibility of a crippled old man!” she exclaimed at the poor guy in the third row. She paced around the room, searching for her next victim to critique into oblivion. “Shoulders back, MOVE your hips up, COME ON!” her voice boomed throughout the rec room. To make matters worse, I had a heavy-breather right next to me. I know doing yoga is all about coordinating your breath, but there’s no need for ALL of us to hear your over-the-top hyperventilating breathing pattern.

I don’t know where this teacher thinks we are, but this is supposed to be Hatha Yoga I at a university campus recreation center. Who could relax and actually get into the stretch of a pose, or even meditate, with this crazy lady with her grey hair piled in a bun yelling at everyone and imposing her OCD tendencies on us? If I actually wanted to repeatedly chant in Sanskrit and become a yogi master  I would have signed up for Ashtanga Yoga III.

After attempting two classes, we dropped that yoga class and never looked back.