It is a fairly well kept secret that I really enjoy dancing. Mostly because the only dances that I usually have any association with are the frenetic, frantic, mostly arrhythmic, awkward “Mormon Singles Dances,” which I kind of hate. Unfortunately, I think my cover is blown as of last night.
I have been pointedly avoiding these types of dances for the last four years, ever since I moved from Laramie to Salt Lake. At some point, they became very unpleasant for me. I was speculating last night that it had something to do with when I became fat and lazy in Salt Lake and my endurance took a nosedive. My interpretation of this kind of dancing requires a whole lot of energy and staying power, which I didn’t really have in Salt Lake. Add to that the whole “Make a fool of yourself in front of people that you barely know and maintain at least some hope of asking out on dates,” and it was a recipe for disaster.
I have been pointedly avoiding the Hill Street Soiree for the last few years. My first year, I really didn’t know people well, and my second year, I may or may not have purposely procrastinated writing a talk to have an excuse to leave before the dancing got underway.
Some background, I think might be in order. The Hill Street Soiree is what some might call a Big Deal. This is the one Hill Street Ward activity each year to end all activities, quite literally. The Soiree, in its 8th incarnation last night, is a semi-formal dinner dance held in December each year. The HSAC goes all out: a catered dinner, a marvelously decorated space, and lots of music to dance the night away. The other singles wards in the area are typically invited to the dance (We’ve selfishly kept the dinner to ourselves in the past.) This year, it was an official multi-stake activity, and much better attended than the other activities this year.
I had planned to go last night, and avoid dancing. You know, to go along with the plan of keeping my enjoyment of dancing secret. During dinner, we discussed leaving to test out my new surround sound system. As the dance started, I moved as far away from the dance floor as possible to talk to others who weren’t dancing. Everything was going according to plan. I decided that I should probably make an appearance on the dance floor. So I headed out on what I thought would be a good crowd dance, but which turned out to be some bizarre hip-hop-like called line dance. Talk about genre defying music. I don’t line dance, I haven’t got the coordination for it, so I sat it out, but I was close to the dance floor. Way too close…
At some point, my resistance cracked. I ended up on the dance floor, and I. Had. A. Blast. I couldn’t stop. My endurance has been finely tuned over the last year, to the point that a 9 mile run seems challenging only in trying to find 9 miles to run it in. I couldn’t use that as an excuse. The headache that I had been planning to use as an excuse went away. I had nothing.
I tried to leave early towards the end of the dance. That didn’t work. I got sucked into a few dances that I couldn’t avoid dancing too (such weak will power, must… keep… dancing…) and suddenly it was the Last Dance. I’m principled enough to not skip the last dance. That’s just bad form. But suddenly, my chances of showing the front that I don’t like dancing was clearly gone. After all, I had stayed to the end, and ended it on the dance floor.
Ah, well, at least we got to dance to the Numa Numa song.
I’ll add some photos once I can steal some from Facebook. Strangely, by 10:30 the day after the Soiree, no pictures have turned up yet.
I recently crossed an important milestone… According to my Nike+ iPod system, on November 8th, I ran my 500th mile since I started using the system back in November 2006. So 500 recorded miles in 2 years, plus some amount of non-recorded miles. Not too shabby!
Some persistent injuries and high levels of stress during my senior year forced me to drop cross country that year, and I fell out of the habit of running. Over the next several years, I tried occasionally to run again, but I was never able to hold the habit consistently. My best attempt was during my last year of grad school. My roommate over the summer, Adam Miles, was crazy into running, and he talked me into a nice pair of running shoes, which I did in fact really use to run in multiple times. But grad school was more important, and I didn’t have a real goal in mind, so I fell off the bandwagon again.
With this in mind, once I moved to Michigan to start at Ford, I decided that for once and for all, I was ready to become a runner again. I had a good deal of time on my hands, as I was living by myself in Canton, and hadn’t really integrated myself into the ward here yet. I decided that beginning in September of 2006, after the completion of a travel audit in New York City, I would buy myself new shoes, and reacquaint myself with the road.
I did some research, being the meticulous type, and decided to use the Coach Potato to 5K training program. It is designed to ease you into running. My failures in the past were probably from trying to do too much too fast, and this program, which I highly recommend, keeps it simple by moving from walking with jogging to jogging with walking to jogging. I made my own music mixes with the timing built in, and eventually found that someone else had done that too.
To keep myself motivated, I have used running to bribe myself. For example, I really wanted a new iPod nano to replace the clunky iPod classic I had that would skip after exactly 20 minutes of running, and of course, if I was going to get the nano, I wanted the Nike + to go with it. I determined that if I could consistently make progress on my Couch Potato plan, I could have the whole setup for my birthday in 2006. It did, and I got my running bling. (Leilani once asked if I liked running for running’s sake, or for the gadgets… I’m not ashamed to say that its for both.)
I also used it to earn my Wii, which I officially earned last Saturday when I crossed the 500 mark. I decided that if I was showing adequate progress, I could open the Wii at 400 miles… which I also did, as long as I made it to 500.
One of my tricksiest motivation techniques to keep myself going, and to remind myself that I was a runner again was to take out a 4 year subscription to Runner’s World. On eBay, you can get anything… even 4 year subscriptions for less than $10. Now, I get a monthly reminder to get back on the boat.
It took me a year to be ready to run a race after I started running again, but last Thanksgiving, I finally decided I was ready for it, and talked Amy into running the Turkey Trot in AA with me, on a whim and at the last minute. She did very well, and I finished, and that was enough for me. It was possibly the best thing that happened to me in 2007.
I’ve managed to run 3 5Ks this year, each with slightly better times or finishes (2nd place in my age group at the Tara Grant Memorial!) and I’ve trained myself up to a 10K finally. It took two attempts, but here I come Turkey Trot. Here I come. This may be one of the few New Year’s Resolutions that I actually keep!
I’ve also managed to conquer new distances, ones that seemed impossible. The day of the Tara Grant memorial was supposed to be my first 7 miler, and I was terrified. But once I knocked it out, those longer distances don’t really scare me anymore. You’ve seen my casual talk of an 8 miler that may have been a 9 miler. I’ve got a 10 miler on the horizon, and I’ve realized that I’m practically at the half-marathon distance. If I can keep myself healthy and running during the winter and into the spring, I’m seriously considering a 2009 half.
I have found peace while running, and for the hectic world we live in, I’ll take peace where I can find it. Running has brought me a sense of purpose, as well as a sense of pride. These last 500 miles have been a wild ride, and here’s to 500 more!
So what are you waiting for? Go running!
I got tagged. I guess. Whatever that means. Silly internet memes.
A-Attached or Single: Single
B-Best Friend: Pierre, my roomba
C-Cake or Pie: Pie… Apple Pie
D-Day of Choice: Thursday
E-Essential Item: iPod + Nike. I can’t run without it. (And that’s really about all the usage my iPod gets!)
F-Favorite Color: To wear: blue. To look at: red
G-Greatest Accomplishment: Learning to juggle scarves
H-Hometown: Lovell, Wyoming
I-Indulgences: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
J-January or July: July
K-kids: Nope, see M.
L-Life is incomplete without: 3 books in my to-read list
M-Marriage Date: Should I speculate about the future?
N-Number of siblings: 7
O-Oranges or apples: Honeycrisp Apples (But really, it’s a seasonal thing…)
P- Phobias or fears: Falling and Failing
Q-Quotes: Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.
– Christopher Morley
R-Reason to smile: Because it’s all fun and games until someone loses $23 million.
S-Season: Fall (Really, apple season) (and sometimes oregano)
T-Tag 5 friends: You, you, you, you and you. You’re all it.
U-Unknown fact about me: I’m terribly self-conscious about my chipped tooth.
V-Very favorite store: Borders
W-Worst Habit: Blogging / Facebooking at work
X-X-ray or Ultra-sound: I prefer to think of this question as X-ray vision or Ultra-sonic hearing. I choose X-ray vision.
Y-Your favorite food: My favorite food is really sharing what I’ve made with friends. So whatever that is. It’s probably not a casserole. It’s more likely an oven omelet.
Z-Zodiac sign: Scorpio
I’m about to share another recipe, though I promise that this blog is not a food blog. I promise! I took an oven omelet (definitely not a casserole, Jessica ) over to Adam’s Alliterative Birthday Breakfast Bash this morning, and someone asked for the recipe. It really wasn’t that difficult to make, and it makes a great take a dish to share kind of recipe because it can be served at most any temperature.
I’ve put the full recipe that I was riffing on in the first comment, so as not to take over the screen space. The basics of the recipe is that you take a vegetable saute and cover it with an egg, milk, and cheese custard, and bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, the first 30 covered with foil.
For my saute, I used three peppers (1 red bell pepper, 1 orange banana pepper, and a bit of jalepeno pepper), onions, yellow zucchini, garlic, and 1 fresh tomato. I seasoned with salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash. I used 6 eggs instead of 5 like the recipe called for, but like I said, I was riffing off of the recipe instead of following it. It seemed right at the time. Many of the ingredients came from my CSA, which made them even more delicious!
Check the full recipe in the comments. And remember, it’s not a casserole. It’s an oven omelet.
A while back, I went to Pennsylvania to a reunion of friends who had been involved in the A Treasure’s Trove arm-chair treasure hunt. Among the festivities, we played a freaking hilarious game called “1000 Blank White Cards.” Apparently, this game was “invented” a while back, but I’d only heard of it recently. It has even been included in the Hoyle’s Book of Card Games. The rules are very basic and mostly deal with the structure of the game.
In a nutshell, you get to make the cards yourself. You make a few before the game, but you are encouraged to add to the deck during game play, modifying the rules, giving yourself points or others penalties and creating general havoc.
I’ve got some scans here of the cards that were created. One of my favorite plays in the game was when I played the “Soccer Rules” card on the player sitting next to me. The card prohibited her from touching her cards with her hands. She immediately got the Yellow card played on her, and resorted to turning over the cards with her mouth. Someone then played the “Icky Spit Card -5pts” on her. Eventually she got around to labeling her cards as belonging to someone else so that she could play them. It was hilarious!
Really, there’s not much point to the game, but I had a great time thinking up new rules, trying to thwart other rules, and at the end of the game, I don’t even know if anyone won or not. It was a laugh a minute though.
You can check out more info on 1000 Blank White Cards at Wikipedia. There are some online repositories of cards around the internets, which are fun, but I will warn that they can tend to be slightly more “adult” in nature.
What would your card be?
Some of you may know that my favorite thing about my calling at church is the fact that I am nominally in charge of “The Mingle.” Most months, Leilani is actually in charge, but when she wasn’t on the STW committee, or when she is out of town, the responsibility falls to Elizabeth and me. Elizabeth is usually happy to let me have the limelight, and I’m usually more than willing to take it.
When I first came to the STW committee the Mingle was a spotty little activity called “Break the Fast,” which, you guessed it, happened on Fast Sunday after church. It was lightly attended and always held at the chapel. We decided to move it from the first Sunday to the third to prevent it from interfering with people’s fasts. And to capitalize on the fact that many ward activities fall on the third Friday or Saturday.
Now, as I said, it is my favorite activity each month. Why? I have a hard time figuring it out. I think the following reasons might have something to do with it:
1- I love to cook, and Mingle gives me a reason to try out a new recipe. Usually I have some inspiration while I’m trolling recipe websites, (One of my favorites is 101 Cookbooks) or reading my cookbooks. Something I want to try that I haven’t tried before. I’m not sure the last time I actually took a tried and true recipe to Mingle. Some turn out great… Other times, not so great. (My contribution this week, a simple bean salad, wasn’t anything spectacular.)
2- I love the chance to talk to everyone. Mingle brings people together to, well, mingle. And I love it.
3- It always works out. Every mingle, I start to freak out that we won’t have enough food about 5 minutes before we are to begin. And we always have enough to eat. Some months, we only have just barely enough, but everyone always gets at least one full plate of food. Even if it was from an industrial size can of corn… We’ve had some serious Loaves and Fishes moments at several mingles, but they have always turned out. It’s kind of faith building.
4- The themes. Coming up with a theme has always been fun. We instituted themes quite a while back to get people thinking about the mingle mid-week, rather than Sunday afternoon. My favorite to this day was “Food that begins with the first letter of your name.” We got some extremely creative food that month.
This month, I decided to not stress out about the Mingle, even when it was 5 minutes to showtime and there was an abundance of salads, but no main dishes. It was hard, but I think I was successful. And of course, I loved it. Even after I dumped my entire plate on the table right when I was sitting down.
Last night I played in my first game of Ultimate Frisbee since I moved to Michigan. I was apprehensive. Frisbee was one of my favorite sports/games/pasttimes while I lived in Laramie, and even while I was in Salt Lake. It worried me that I was apprehensive. I ended up having a lot of fun playing, but on the way home, I think I figured out why I was so reluctant to play.
In Laramie, there were two years when we played almost every week, usually at least twice a week, and during the summer, almost every night. We had a set field, one that we knew by heart, and a set time. It was just expected that a game would break out on Tuesdays around 6pm or so. It was always Derek’s game, he was the one who started it up, and it was to him we turned if there were problems or scheduling conflicts. Tuesday was a fairly open night. Anyone (and everyone) in the Institute showed up to play. We didn’t talk about Thursday night as much because we wanted a smaller group, more for our immediate circle of friends to play.
We developed a lingo, and a chatter, and a set of rules. The rules were fairly standard, but they were customized to our game. We counted how many times we hit cars with the frisbee. We offered points to whoever could do some obscenely difficult thing with the frisbee (usually hit someone on the other team in the back of the head on a kick-off). We chattered, and had a running dialog through the whole game. We didn’t really play with strategy, as much as we played for fun.
Once Derek talked us into playing in a co-ed intermurals tournament (and then left town and didn’t play). We ended up handily beating our first round opponents and ended up in the final versus the University Club team. That was one of the most physically exhausting games I’ve ever played. Our opponents did hammer throws and stall counts and all sorts of things we didn’t do. We ended up winning, mostly because our girls were better than theirs.
Fast forward… When I moved to Salt Lake, I tried to find a regular frisbee game. There were always games going on, but I never really felt like I fit in. I didn’t know their rules or their chatter, and I didn’t feel the same passion for the game as those who were playing did. We had a sporadic game in Salt Lake, but it never had the momentum that playing in Laramie did.
I’m pretty passionate about frisbee, don’t get me wrong, or I was, anyway. I just played for a different reason. I played to have fun and spend time with my friends. I never figured out how to straighten out my kick-off throw and never wore cleats, but I did have pretty good accuracy in throwing short and catching. I’m somewhere middle of the pack, skill-wise, I’d say. But I love to play.
Which brings me back to Michigan, and my experience with frisbee here. I have found other ways to spend time with friends, and frisbee never came up. I knew that they played it at Sports Night, but I didn’t know them and it was a longish drive anyhow. Last night, I wasn’t sure I wanted to play. I didn’t know how they did it here. Eventually, (and unfortunately right after two hotdogs), I got into the game.
Turns out, they have a different style of playing here. I got called out for what I considered playful banter with the other team. They also play with a very strict sense of boundaries, and there are rules that I didn’t know about that go with those boundaries. One member of the other team in particular got in my face about a rule I didn’t know I was breaking. (which of course makes me want to come back and play again, right?). It was those unspoken rules again…
So, I had fun. Will I play frisbee again with this group? I don’t know. If I were really daring, I’d try to organize my own game, but one where we’ve talked about the rules.
I’m totally cross posting here: Amy makes the best cookies and she shares her secrets!
Update: I made my first attempt on the recipe. And it turned out deliciously! I added some fresh cherries and a little bit of cinnamon. My first sheet came out completely underbaked, I had to increase the time a minute or two for other two sheets. I think my oven wasn’t quite hot enough. But still! Delicious!