Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Suffer Alone? (Day Three of Running)

Today was a running day. The gap between running on Monday and running today was enough that I actually didn't feel awful about the whole experience. I was almost looking forward to it. Almost.

Another bonus was that The Brother had said he would accompany me so that I did not get thrown into a windowless van and murdered. This is a bonus. You never can tell when someone will decide to kill you, especially when you are in my age bracket. The only way I could increase my statistical likelihood of being murdered would be to change my profession from "librarian" to "woman of easy virtue." (That isn't going to happen.)

Mum and I spent the morning trying to catch up with my father, aunt and uncle, and grandfather, who were in Elkhart trying to arrange a long-term care situation for my grandmother. We weren't able to meet them, so we turned around in Goshen and headed home after first having the best Philly cheesesteak of my life and what is likely the best lemon meringue pie in the world. We'd seen South Side Soda Shop several thousand times as we drove to Elkhart and back, but we'd never been able to stop for food. Now I'm going to insist on stopping, at least for pie. I mean, just look at how awesome this place is!

Mum and I followed my favorite restaurant practice of asking the waitress what we should order. We had a cheesesteak and an Italian hoagie. BOTH of those sandwiches were phenomenal. We saw a gorgeous lemon meringue pie in the bakery case on the way in the door, so we ordered one to take home, only to discover that their lemon meringue pie had won best in the state. Once I tasted it, I wasn't surprised. Best. Ever.

Okay. Food interlude over. I really like food. This would be why I exercise.

While we were on our way home, we stopped at a sporting goods store and I found one of these to hold my cell phone, keys, and inhaler while I run. I really have to carry my inhaler, and I can't leave my keys in the car, and my cell phone has my running app on it, so I had to come up with some kind of solution for carrying things with me. After one run, I can tell you that it stays in place and doesn't cause any discomfort. So far I'm happy with it.

I also went to T.J. Maxx, my favorite place, and found some non-cotton running shirts for summertime. Because I am going to keep doing the running thing, even during the summer. Sigh. T.J. Maxx is a great place to look for fitness wear on the cheap. They are cheaper than Target. They are even cheaper than Walmart. AND they have name-brand stuff from Nike, Reebok, UnderArmor, and the like. They even have shoes, but I still recommend getting fitted for shoes at a running store. If you just want cute shoes to walk around in, go to T.J. Maxx. If you want to run, go to Three Rivers Running Company, or to another store like it where you live.

By the time I arrived home, I was excited about running. And I went out, and it was hard. But it wasn't AS hard. I don't know if it was actually easier, or if the improved weather just made it feel that way. But I actually had fun. The Brother thought he was going to die. I think he stopped breathing for a little while. He did, however, keep up with me almost the whole way, and for someone going from a lifetime of hunching over a computer keyboard to a running routine that I find challenging after almost two years of HIIT workouts, that's pretty impressive.

He reports that laughter causes his bum to hurt. Other than that, he's alive. I might actually get him to run with me again! Somebody's getting running clothes for his birthday this fall! (And yes, I'll get them at T.J. Maxx).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Running, Day Two

Yesterday I went for another run. I left the house. Wind was howling. The temperature was hovering right around 40 degrees. A mist of rain was falling. The warm up was a lie. It was impossible to warm anything.

I wore leggings, a tee shirt, a running shirt, and a fleece because I stepped outside and could not bear it. After a few minutes, I regretted not bringing a hat and gloves. But then I realized my hats and gloves are not designed for running, and are all hand-knitted wool. I may need to 1. knit something different or 2. find something for running.

But it is spring (heh), so that will wait until I see if running takes.

Mum came along, as did Darcy. That was a nice change from last time. Darcy ran at least three times as much as I did, and it seemed as if she was having a blast.

I followed my running app. The lady was evil. She showed no mercy. And I thought I was going to die. Maybe I did die. After a while, it felt as though my brains were coming out of my ears, but I looked when I got home, and I couldn't see any brain matter in my ear canal. Maybe it was blood and not brain. Maybe it was just too dark. It did feel like my ears were bleeding or SOMETHING.

Mum impressed me by running. She did very well. I ended up further ahead than she was, so she couldn't follow the app along with me, but she ran, skipped, jumped, and did other cardio-things as she went along. Good for Mum!

I collapsed onto the ground when we got inside the house. I took off my shoes and then stayed on the floor for probably 45 minutes. Then I sat in a chair for a while longer. And then everyone was eating dinner, so I tried to eat, but it didn't so much happen.

I felt better after a bath, but still. The muscle that runs down the inner thigh? That hurts so much. It's right in the chub-rub area, and it is demoralizing.

And then I got out of the bath and made myself dinner. As I walked over to the table, the fork fell from my plate and landed tines-down on my bare left foot, stabbing me brutally. It drew BLOOD. Debra Lynn from my college saw the story on my Facebook, and she said it was a fitting injury for Holy Week. That first made me confused, but then it clicked inside my run-addled brain and I laughed so hard I dropped avocado on my lap.

Later, as I crawled into bed, I thought I'd look ahead and see what further tortures the app has for me. But then I noticed something. There was only one other workout for Week One. I looked ahead. There are only THREE DAYS EACH WEEK that running has to happen. THREE DAYS. That is all. This means I don't have to run at all until my next day off. No more suffering. No more waking up early. No more holding dinner until later in the evening so that I can run first. No more brain-dead-ness OR brain-melting OR ear bleeds. I am free until Friday, when I have part of the day off. Maybe it will stop snowing by then. Maybe it will not rain on me! Maybe it will be above 50 degrees.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blind Date with a Book

I spent all of last week working and working on bringing Blind Date with a Book to the library. I love how it turned out! This is just one of the many ways our library is celebrating National Library Week.

To make it work properly, I first collected books from YA and had Polly, my coworker who buys adult fiction for the library, pick adult books. We chose books with lots of great editorial reviews and good buzz that nonetheless seem to have fallen through the cracks at our library. In other words, awesome books that people around here need to discover! I also picked a few from some of my favorite writers that just deserve to be read, OFTEN.

Next I wrapped all of the books in brown paper. Because we're a library and these books have to be circulated, I photocopied the barcode of each book and attacked it to the back of the wrapping. And because we have to know where each book is, just in case, I numbered all the books and kept a log sheet of which number corresponded to which book. That way if someone demands Book X and insists Book X is on Shelf Y, we can actually find it for them, even though it's wrapped up and "hidden."

Being a librarian is complicated.

I also made up signs, and my student assistants and I cut out HUNDREDS of hearts to decorate the circulation desk, displays, and YA shelving.

I'm particularly pleased with how well the circulation desk turned out. And I learned to use my iPhone to take a panoramic picture, which is pretty awesome.

Each book has a few descriptive words or phrases on the wrapping, to help you figure out if it's the sort of book you want to get to know better.

When I researched Blind Date with a Book online, I had a lot of fun guessing what books the other librarians had chosen based on the keywords they wrote on the wrapping paper they used.

My space in YA is much more limited, so I had to confine the display to the side of one shelf and the top of another.

I really like how it all turned out. I have to admit, I'm proud of myself!

Before I wrapped the books, I tucked a little postcard in each one encouraging the reader to rate their date. I think, if I get any turned back in (you never can tell), I'll use them to make up another display of reader recommendations.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Corpses, Running, and Terrible Rain

I started Couch to 5K again, but for me it is more like Couch, Skip the 5K, Death.

Apparently running kills higher brain function for me and sucks out all energy, leaving me a wasted husk of a person unable to string even the shortest words together to form the most rudimentary sentence. I tried to talk to friends today, but no. Mostly I listened. And then we went to a candy store and I walked out with a box of cookies that was the size of one of my legs, so running seems not to curb my unhealthy eating habits at all.

I went home and ate steak.

Mostly, I find that running makes me want to give up and just lie down on the pavement. I'm sure if somethign really was pursuing me, it probably would want to catch me much more than I would want to get away, so fine. I will let whatever the thing is win, and I will just rest. It's cool. Who can outrun a bear, anyway? No one. It's better not to try.

I am using an app to help me time my running, and the thing started off by having me walk for five minutes. Then it said, "Start Running!" It sounded overly chipper and made me want to kill something. But nature misunderstood and it started raining pretty hard, right then, so my first real run was in the rain. Nothing is worth that. Health and long life are not worth that.

My feelings, post-run:

I should also mention that I had to drive 20 minutes to go run, because I didn't want a repeat of last year's incident involving the semi truck and the harassment. Before I left home, I told The Brother that if I didn't come home in an hour, he should call me, and if I didn't answer, I had been murdered already and he should call the police.

It speaks to how good a brother I have that he did call me, in exactly one hour.

He can share the giant box of cookies I brought home.

There was something dead next to the trail I ran on. I ended up running faster to get away from the stench of rotting flesh. Even as I ran, I thought, "Soon, the corpse on this trail will be mine. No one can survive this." Somehow I did, but this was just the first day. It is only a matter of time. Who runs five kilometers on purpose? I think this is a sickness.

I'm supposed to run again tomorrow, and Mum says she will come with me with Darcy. She says we will run closer to home, but not on the main road so we will be left alone by horrible truckers. I am thinking of dying in my sleep tonight just to avoid this run, but there is a 5K a friend told me about happening in June, and I told Mum, and now she thinks we will do this 5K maybe.

I also forgot to bring water on this run. There was water in the ditch next to the trail and I considered drinking it because I was thirsty. And then I wanted to cry. And then the phone app lady told me I was all done running for the day, but I had not reached my car yet so I had to walk even further than I was supposed to. That's the true tragedy of today, I think. Excess walking.

I thought of taking a picture of myself post-run, to share it with you, but then I said I would rather die than lift my arm above my waist to take a picture, so I just drove home.

There really isn't' anything else to say about today. If you were here, I would share some of the box of cookie with you, if you brought me water. I am still thirsty. It's been hours.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I've Got My New Shoes On

My new favorite shoes arrived yesterday! I had been longing for t-strap flats since...last year? Maybe longer. I fell in love with some that a character on a BBC drama was wearing. I don't even remember what show it was anymore. Probably one of the Masterpiece Mysteries. I do love Masterpiece Mystery. At any rate, there were NONE to be had. I could choose from t-strap sandals without an enclosed toe (not what I wanted at all) or I could get sky-high platforms...that were sandals without an enclosed toe as well (ouch and NO).

But during my weekly scroll through the contents of Modcloth, I found these beauties, and they were perfect. I'd been hunting for a pair of colored shoes to go with my many all-neutral outfits, and these looked like they'd work with pretty much my whole wardrobe.

As an added bonus, they run a bit narrow, meaning they FIT. And they are leather, which means quality.*

Here are some terrible pictures I took last night.

For the record, it's incredibly difficult to take pictures of your own feet. Nearly impossible, really.

Shoes: Seychelles Cayenne Sandals in Jade (Modcloth) Pants: American Eagle Skinny Trousers  Carpet: Needs vacuuming.  

* Do not tell me plastic shoes are good quality. They just aren't. They don't last, they make your feet sweat, and they are impossible to break in effectively. And before you suggest "vegan" leather, that is plastic, too. Plastic that people are charging extra for, because the box says "vegan." I love the idea of vegan shoes, but until you can bring me something that looks as good and holds up as well as leather, I'm sticking to leather.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My Skin Is a Liar, Or How One Random Article Saved Me Thousands of Dollars in Dermatologist Bills

Months ago, I read an article. I cannot find this article now because I lack foresight and failed to save it for later. This is because I never thought it would actually have any impact on my life. Oh, was I wrong.

The article was your average "dealing with acne" sort of thing. It talked about cleansers, using oil-free makeup, what sort of treatments you can buy over the counter, when to seek out the help of a dermatologist...mostly it just listed what options of treatment people use normally after reading their first article in a teen magazine about breakouts.

But then it mentioned something I can't remember any other skin care article ever telling me. I wish there had been some mention of this before, because it's a HUGE deal. Really.

I am paraphrasing here, but these are the essentials. Whoever wrote the article said, basically, that your skin can be oily because you have oily skin OR it can be oily because it's super-dry and starving for moisture, and using the toners and salicyclic acid treatments you buy over the counter only drys your skin out more, making it MORE oily and contributing to more breakouts. The author went on to advise using a moisturizer every day, and STOPPING the drying stuff, using a cream cleanser and not a traditional soap, never using toner, and not putting any kind of drying treatment on your skin. They said that a soap may not wash all the way off, so it was important to rinse like crazy, and if you have hard water, used distilled water or one of those pre-moistened wipes you can buy in the skincare aisle.

This was bizarre. It was clearly wrong, I thought. How could that work? I mean, you have to cut through the oil on your skin to get rid of it, right?

The author said our skin is meant to keep oil, because that's what keeps it moist. So, people with dry skin are wrong when we coat our faces with zit cream and hope for relief.

I did buy the pre-moistened wipes, though, and the difference was huge. Suddenly my breakouts were way less frequent. In fact, I risked it and bought a full-sized bottle of the Sensitive Skin moisturizer from Burt's Bees, which I liked when I tried the sample.

And do you know what? My skin got even better. It was less oily. I had even fewer breakouts. But then winter came, and the change seemed to reverse. So I took a risk and tried a heavy-duty moisturizer--Benefit's Total Moisture Facial Cream. I have their eye cream. The eye cream is great. I hoped Total Moisture would be that awesome.

It is even more awesome. My skin has not looked this good since I was in my first year of college. I don't know why no one ever mentioned this dry-skin stuff to me before. All I was ever told was that I had "combination" skin and it was a good idea to dry out the oily part and leave the rest of my face alone. What a lie. Apparently, this whole time, my skin has been begging me for a real moisturizer and it has responded with great joy.

I've been using it for a month. The difference is astounding. My skin is not only well behaved, it also just FEELS better. I wish I knew where I'd read that article, because the author deserves a statue, maybe even a shrine. He or she is the BEST. I wish I could send them flowers or my firstborn child.

So. Here is my recommendation. If you have consistently dry skin that isn't quenched by daily moisturizer, and you are ready for a change, try Benefit's Total Moisture cream. It has a light scent, but it isn't enough to hurt me, so no one else is likely to even notice a scent at all. It goes on slightly greasy, but it soaks into your skin after a few seconds. If it doesn't do this, you're using too much, so cut back on the amount you're using each application.

It is expensive. But it is worth it. I want to have the babies of this moisturizer and name them after the author of the skincare article. I'm considering getting a tattoo of the bottle. Don't you judge me. There are days I don't even think I need to wear foundation, and I haven't felt that way since I was a kid.

As I wrote this, I ran a search and noticed that quite a few other people have caught on to oily skin really being dry and dehydrated skin. Here's one such blog post.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Unsolicited Parenting Advice

There will be MILD spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Solider in this post. Nothing huge. But I warned you.

Look. I'm not a parent. I'm not. I should preface this with that statement. I don't profess to know how hard it is to raise kids. But I do know common sense. And that is where this advice is coming from. Common sense.

Note that this advice carries over to baby sitters, older siblings, licensed child-care providers, neighbors, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and other people charged with the care of young children for any length of time.

I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier tonight. It was a great movie. Think political intrigue meets spy thriller meets comic book heroes, because that was the feel. I highly recommend it. Go see it. See it twice.

But not with your four year-old.*

Listen. This movie is bloody. It is violent. People die. Some people die TWICE. (That was the mild spoiler, right there. All done now.) And violence has an effect on your kids. (It really does. There are STUDIES.)

There are superheroes, and kids love superheroes. But watching someone explode is not how your child should learn about anatomy. This is a scary movie. This is more scary than a four year-old can handle.

Before you ask, yes, there was a preschooler behind me at the movie. And yes, he was sitting with someone older. His maybe eight year-old brother. His parents were there, too. But they didn't so much care that their child 1. talked through the whole movie,** nor did they care that 2. Their child kept asking his brother why people weren't moving, why that person was hitting the other person, why people were hurting Captain get the idea.

Your kid is not emotionally mature enough, at age four, to differentiate between reality and fantasy. That's just a developmental fact. Kids don't get the difference between that until they hit six or seven. Yes, a few years make a big difference. if you don't think so, take a child psychology class. Or watch your kid. One of the two.

Your preschooler will look at Captain America, and even if you tell them that he is make-believe, they will still not GET that he's make-believe. Captain America, like Santa Claus, is real to them in their head. Now, following that, imagine your kid watching people bleeding out on screen. If Captain America is real, and he is on screen, does it not follow that they will think that the bleeding is real, too? (This is a rhetorical question.)

Your child is not in a war zone, so it's a good idea to protect them from even the idea of one, since they're lucky enough not to HAVE to see that kind of violence. Celebrate that fact by watching the many great films made for kids--and adults--of all ages.

The bottom line is, your preschooler is not ready to watch the end of Old Yeller and they aren't old enough to watch superhero movies that aren't animated. If you want to have a good time and go see Captain America, go. Take note of Black Widow's necklace. And go.

But before you leave, dial up a friend or neighbor and ask them to look after the kids, because honestly, your kid should not see someone explode (or with third degree burns or without their head or without most of their blood) until they are at least old enough to tie their own shoes.

That is your free parenting advice, from your friendly neighborhood youth services librarian who, yes, has studied child development long enough to tell you you're doing it wrong.

* Also not with anyone younger than four years of age. Also not with anyone older than four by a few hours, or maybe even a few years. I would say 10 or 11 is a the YOUNGEST a kid should be before they are exposed to the kind of mass-death involved in an action movie.

** The parents now owe me $7.50. So do the people sitting three rows in front of us that were playing with their cell phones. That's six people now owing me $7.50, meaning that even with refreshments, I'll turn a profit on this night-at-the-movies thing if I could only get everybody to pay up.