Saturday, May 30, 2009

Go Big or Go Home

There’s nothing like having someone pinch the fat on your arms, legs and stomach, and then having them tell you exactly how out of shape you actually are. That’s how I started my Saturday this week.

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I really need to get in gear and get in shape. I generally go the easy route and prefer to simply not eat rather than drag my lazy butt into the gym. But this idea came to a screeching halt when my 50-year-old dad who does not exercise totally killed me on a very easy day hike. Not cool.

But I know myself. I’m lazy and unmotivated and even if I go to the gym I don’t push myself and constantly come up with excuses. So I gave myself a shove: I signed up for Seattle Adventure Boot Camp. It’s a four-week, women-only outdoor fitness program with a Certified Fitness Trainer… from 5:30 to 6:30am, Monday through Friday. Am I crazy?!?

Part of the program includes attending a pre-camp evaluation to determine weight, measurements, and body fat percentage. Let me tell you… seeing those numbers in accusatory black and white was a very humbling experience. So off I went to purchase my yoga matt and weights in preparation for the torture looming ahead.

Although terrified, I’m really looking forward to the promised results:
  • 3-5% reduction in body fat
  • Greatly improved posture
  • Better relaxation
  • 5-12 pounds of weight loss
  • 1-3 inch decrease in the midsection
  • 25% improvement in endurance & strength

I would sooner die than post the results of my pre-camp fitness evaluation here, but I’ll definitely report back with results at the end of Boot Camp. If I survive...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunland = Funland: A Look Back

Do you ever look back and wonder, “What was I thinking?!”

I recently had an epiphany. For the past few years I’ve spent the majority of my holiday weekends at various campgrounds and cabins at the Columbia River Gorge. And if it weren’t for a very extensive photo collection, I doubt I would remember many of those glorious days spent in the sun. Because most of the time, I was pretty out of it.

I was “single and fabulous,” which apparently meant that my unattached girlfriends and I spent our vacations drinking as much as possible. Oh the stories I could tell. But my embarrassment makes me hesitate to even add links to previous blog posts about said weekends. Let’s just say I was often “that girl.” The one who everyone thinks is super fun and exciting. The one who drinks until dawn. The one at the center of the dance party. The one who takes her top off. The one who falls off the boat. The one who makes friends with absolute strangers. The one who makes everyone laugh.

The one who is alone.

That’s what I realized this past weekend. Once again, I headed to Eastern Washington for a sunny vacation with friends. Since I’ve been with my boyfriend for the past few years, my prior holiday weekend behaviors have seriously calmed down. However, we still have loads of fun eating, drinking, boating and sunbathing in Eastern Washington – would it be possible not to?

Because of Stewart’s firefighting schedule, he wasn’t able to head over with me on Friday afternoon, so I went solo with some friends. Stew was planning on joining us Sunday morning. So for two days, I kicked back with my friends for some Sunland = Funland. But I quickly realized… I was lonely. All of the sudden I felt like “that girl” again. The one everyone loves hanging out with... but secretly feels sorry for when they head to bed with their significant other at the end of the night.

I started to wonder… Did I behave the way I did because I was lonely? Did I drink myself into oblivion so the reality of being single didn’t seem so harsh? Maybe. I did have some amazing times with some fantastic friends, and the memories are priceless. But now that my circumstances have changed and I have a chance to look back, I see a silly, superficial, insecure, very lonely girl who needed to be the center of attention because that was the only attention she got. And it makes me sad for her.

And thankful for my life… now. I have wonderful friends and an amazing boyfriend that I still get to spend my holiday weekends with. I still love to party, but now I don’t do it because it fills a void in my life. I don't feel lost and alone, instead I feel fulfilled and grateful. I adore all the incredible people in my life, and am thankful that I once again enjoyed a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend at the Gorge. Here’s to many more to come!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me!

I am so ridiculously, incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends. And some of them come with an added bonus… ski boats. I look forward to boating season all winter long, and now that it’s upon us, I am once again reminded of my good fortune.

When I was a kid we didn’t have the boating luxuries a lot of my friends got to enjoy. Apart from pulling crab pots on the Hood Canal in my grandpa’s fishing boat, my water sport activities were somewhat lacking. If I was able to snag an invitation to a lake house party once or twice, it was a really good summer. I had a couple of thrilling inner tube rides and attempted water skiing one August at my cousins’ lake house, but other than that I spent hot summer days at the public beach jumping off the dock.

The tides have finally turned. Somehow, both Stewart and I each ended up with very good friends who in the past couple years purchased huge, shiny ski boats complete with towers, speakers, and every other kind of boating luxury you can imagine. And we always get a VIP invite whenever our friends have a day of boating planned. So for the past few summers I’ve spent my weekends on various Washington lakes basking in the sunshine feeling exceptionally superior to my 12-year-old self.

This past weekend was my maiden voyage of the season with Tara and Winston. Although Lake Washington was FAR too cold to attempt any water sports, we had a wonderfully day lounging in the boat while drinking, eating and talking. Dreamy. I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be than in a boat. I should have been a pirate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

I’ve definitely developed a substantial crush on my new neighborhood, but it wasn’t until this past weekend that I knew I was really in love. I arrived home late on Sunday afternoon to find that my bus had been re-routed. As I walked the extra few blocks home, it took me a few distracted moments to notice the groups of brightly dressed people crowding the sidewalks surrounding my building. Streets were blocked off by police vehicles and children waving flags and balloon animals darted between the legs of laughing adults squinting in the sunshine.

What the heck was going on?! Had the perfect weather simply brought the local Ballardites out of winter hibernation? A quick internet check revealed the truth: May 17th signifies Syttende Mai, a celebration of the day in 1814 when Norway’s constitution was signed. Ballard is, historically, a Norwegian community, and the whole neighborhood had come out of the woodwork to celebrate. Fun!

Just then, I heard the crash of a band striking up. A parade! On my street! I immediately poured myself a cool drink and parked myself in a chair on my patio with my bare feet up on the railing, feeling just a little bit superior to all the people parked in lawn chairs on the sidewalk below. For the next hour I took in beautiful costumes, a restored Viking ship, marching bands, horses, adorable children, and traditional Norwegian costumes.

If this is any indication of how my summer is going to pan out, I’m completely satisfied with my new home.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Festival Junkie

Arts and crafts… music and performances… FOOD and BOOZE! Ladies and Gentlemen, we are officially entering my absolute favorite time of year… It’s festival season in Seattle!!

There is absolutely nothing more fabulous than jamming my calendar with festivals filled with food, friends and fun! And lucky for me, my friend Sheena (also a festival junkie) now lives just a few miles away. I can already envision a summer of festival hopping…

And the festivities have already begun! We started out with Hop Scotch, Seattle’s Spring Beer & Scotch Festival, which was conveniently located within walking distance of Sheena’s house. Located indoors at Fremont Studios, it was the perfect place to spend a Friday evening. Although wine, scotch and tequila were also available for tasting, we stuck to trying as many of the 50 seasonal beers available as possible.
Our next adventure was the Seattle Cheese Festival at Pike Place Market. I am an absolute junkie when it comes to cheese so this was basically my dream come true. Sheena and I hopped on a bus downtown and immediately began to taste test as many delectable cheeses as humanly possible. Dreamy. I really can’t think of anything better than wandering around a busy market in the sunshine while nibbling bits of cheese. Yum!
After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with free samples, we spent some time in the wine and beer garden sipping on an assortment of chilled white wines and champagnes. Of course this dairy overload combined with alcohol caused me to spend the rest of the afternoon asleep on my couch, but it was well worth it.
I’ve already sent out a list to my friends outlining the various festivals I plan on attending this summer… Oh, my dear Seattle, after a long hard winter, you have finally decided to make it up to me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My How The Times Have Changed...

For Mother’s Day, my sister and I decided to take my parents on a weekend getaway. We chose Port Townsend, an adorable little tourist town on the Olympic Peninsula. Founded in 1851, Port Townsend has less than 9,000 residents and prides itself on its historical charm, maritime heritage, and beautiful natural setting.

My family has spent countless vacations in this tiny little city, mostly because we own a fair amount of property on the north shore, just a block from the beach (my grandpa was actually born on the land). In addition, we feel connected to this adorable little haven because my grandma spent several years here during World War II, when Port Townsend was home to Fort Worden, a U.S. Army installation located on a high bluff overlooking the Puget Sound (to prevent any invasion attempt by sea). My great-grandfather was an officer stationed at Fort Worden, and my grandma and her family lived on base in the early 1940s.

Now, Fort Worden State Park has become a tourist destination filled with artillery museums and an extensive system of large, abandoned bunkers available for exploration. As a little kid, it was like we had died and gone to heaven. Almost every summer my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins would book at least one long weekend in Port Townsend.

We would spend an entire day shopping in historic downtown, another day exploring museums and historical spots, evenings swimming in the hotel pool, and countless afternoons at the beach. But the most fun was packing up flashlights, headlamps and glow sticks to explore the depths of the abandoned bunkers. Some of my favorite childhood memories include running through cold, dark, cement tunnels screaming at the top of my lungs, trying not to get hit by a water balloon or grabbed from behind in a thrilling moment of terror. God, kids are easy to entertain.
Before this past weekend, I hadn’t been back to Port Townsend in years. College and life just got in the way, I guess. So Mother’s Day seemed like a great opportunity to reclaim some family time in a place filled to the brim with memories. My, how the times have changed. Although Port Townsend is still the same adorable tourist town I remember, it seems to have… shrunk. The sprawling downtown that took a day to explore each and every shop is, in reality, only about three blocks long. It took us about an hour to wander through and take in the mountains of arts, crafts and other bits of hippie junk that are fun to look at, but that you would never actually purchase.
Since we had decided to stay in the historic Waterstreet Hotel downtown, there was no pool or hot tub to lounge in, so instead we spent the evening having dinner and drinks in the tavern below.
The next day, we went hiking along the coastal bluffs. The abandoned stone bunkers were still very cool and interesting, but I no longer had the urge to run through them screeching to see how long it would echo. The inside was dark, dank and scary, and it all smelled just a little bit like urine. I preferred to stay up top and check out the breathtaking views.
I did have a wonderful time spending a few hours on the beach doing… nothing. We sat around, walked the edge of the surf looking for shells and sea glass, and skipped rocks on the waves. Life seemed very… simple and slow. Which was definitely appealing for a weekend away with my family. But by Sunday I was definitely ready to get back to the hustle and bustle of the Big City. So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom… and thanks for all the great memories.

Friday, May 08, 2009

All She Wants To Do Is… DANCE

I don’t remember my senior prom being anything particularly spectacular. As part of the Leadership class at school I was a member of the committee who planned the whole thing and spent the morning of the big day decorating, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that I wasn’t extremely excited for the big night. It was remarkably uneventful and followed the same pattern as the ten other high school dances I had attended up until that point… dinner, cheesy photos, dancing, searching for an after-party, driving around town looking for said after-party, giving up on nonexistent after-party, rushing to make it home by curfew. I do not miss being 18.

However, some people have fantastic memories of their prom-going days, and this is probably why our friend’s parents throw an annual Spring Fling… Prom for ADULTS! I’m sure this sounds nerdy and cheesy, but it’s pretty much one of my favorite annual springtime activities!
This year the dance was held in a ballroom at a beautiful local-area hotel – yay, no having to worry about a designated driver! The hotel was gorgeous, with a world-class art collection (each floor featured work by a different artist), a super modern design and breathtaking views. Although we didn’t have time to take advantage, it also boasted a spa and salon.

My friends and I definitely giggled like schoolgirls while we crammed into the hotel bathroom to fix makeup and hair. But no more paranoia about getting caught for those pre-prom shots! We headed downstairs for a delicious meal that started with a salad and dinner rolls followed by prime rib or chicken marsala, roasted red or mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.

Oh yeah, and when you’re a grown-up, there is a BAR at the prom. We alternated between the dance floor and ordering cocktails for the next few hours before stumbling upstairs to our hotel room. No more sneaking quietly in the front door praying mom and dad aren’t waiting up!

Sure, the whole thing is a little bit silly, but it’s tradition, and I really can’t think of an excuse NOT to get dressed up for drinks, dinner and dancing with friends. Plus, this year the Spring Fling just happened to fall on my boyfriend's birthday!


Do you have any favorite prom memories?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Looking Forward…

I can’t believe it – I am actually done with my midterm exams! Since the flu knocked me out of commission for more than a week, I was moderately concerned about how I was going to perform, but now that I’m done I think I actually did pretty well! Phew! What a sense of relief! And now the countdown begins… only four more weeks until I am officially done with my program and I will be a certified paralegal! Where I go from there, only time will tell…

To celebrate being done with midterms, I have a super fun weekend planned! Friday night I am meeting up with a bunch of old college friends for dinner before heading to Hop Scotch, a spring beer and scotch festival in Fremont. Then, tomorrow morning, Stew and I are headed out early to catch the ferry to Port Townsend for a Mother’s Day weekend with my family. Port Townsend is an adorable little historical town on the Olympia Peninsula, and the weather forecast looks great so far so I’m really excited for a nice outdoorsy weekend in the sunshine.

I’ll be sure to post pictures next week! What does everyone else have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Just Another Wednesday Morning...

This morning I went through my usual routine of hitting the snooze button about six times before finally dragging myself out of bed (late again) and into the shower. I rushed around frantically and was somehow still able to get myself out the door by 8:05 a.m. If I leave later than this, I am destined to miss the bus.

I live on the fourth floor, so as usual I hurried down the back staircase of my condo building, which lets me out on a main street sidewalk outside a coffee shop. I wasn’t in the mood to run for the bus today, so I moved hastily through the hallway at the end of the stairs and slammed on bar to open the access door.


It only opened about an inch. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod. I suddenly became vividly aware that I had inadvertently invaded upon a homeless person’s impromptu shelter for the night... and may in fact have taken his or her head off. For a second, I just stood there on the other side of the door, flooded by random emotions. Embarrassment, irritation, pity…

I wasn't sure what to do, because if I went back up two flights of stairs to the main level and then took the elevator down through the lobby, I was sure to be late for work. But I heard some rustling on the other side, so I cautiously opened the door again.

A homeless woman who was using the little alcove as a bedroom had shifted slightly to one side so I could exit the building. I pushed the door open enough so I could slide through the opening, stepped over her hunkered figure and bags of trash, mumbled an “excuse me, I’m sorry” and was on my way down the sidewalk.

I have no idea how to react to this strange encounter, and for some reason it’s really been bothering me all day. Part of me is annoyed that I was forced into such an awkward situation, but another part feels extremely guilty that I walked out of a beautiful brand new condo after a good night's sleep – while this homeless person spent the night outside on the ground.

How would you react if put in a similar situation?