September 30, 2007

Going the Distance, Kind Of

I ran a 5K this morning, but I'm not terribly happy with myself. Yes, it is great that I was able to get myself out of bed at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning to run 3 miles, but I'm not happy with my finish. When I crossed the finish line with my co-worker and friend, Sarah, the clock read 42 minutes. Granted, we started the race probably 3 to 5 minutes after the clock started running. Even so, at best we still finished barely under 40 minutes. I have a hard time feeling good about running 13 minute miles. When we ran, I am sure our pace was closer to 11 minute miles, but I felt the need to walk. Sarah and I hit the two mile mark and my brain was screaming for me to stop and walk for a bit. I did and Sarah stopped running with me.

Sarah and I also ran a 5K about a month and a half ago. That 5K was terrible. We ran it right after work on a 85 degree day with about 90 percent humidity. I remember feeling like I had to drink the air in gulps because it was so thick. We stopped to walk twice and finished in 38 minutes.

This morning the weather could not have been more perfect. It was sunny, crisp, and 65 degrees with a slight breeze. Based on this fact alone, I expected my time and performance to improve. It did not. We ran practically the same race. The thing is the conditions were perfect, but my training had not been. Prior to the race, the last time I ran was two Saturdays ago. I won't go into the woes of my schedule (because those of you who read this blog often enough know), but there was not much time to run. However, it frustrates me because even if had gross amounts of time to run, I question if I would have. My motivation to run, workout, eat healthy, be healthy in general has been low. I know a rut, and I am in one.

Almost two years ago, I undertook one of the only sporting challenges I ever have. My former roommate Sara and I ran the Shamrock Shuffle - the world's largest 8K. I was not a runner at that time by any measure, so committing to running 5 miles was a mental and physical challenge. Sara and I did it, and accomplished every goal we had for that race. It was an amazing feeling to cross the finish line. One that I'd like to feel again. But even beyond the finish line, I found a physical strength in the months leading up to the race I didn't know I possessed. That time was the healthiest I have ever felt in my life. To think where I was then versus where I have digressed to now makes me frustrated.

I plan to run the Shamrock Shuffle again this year. I need some kind of motivation - a tangible goal. I want to challenge myself once again. I miss the feeling of accomplishment. It's a much more welcome feeling than the disappointment of having to stop and walk after two miles.

September 29, 2007

The Season is Upon Us

My friend Jenny called me this afternoon to let me know a very disturbing fact. While driving to the park, she spotted an inflatable lawn ornament. (For those of you not familiar with my stance on inflatable lawn ornaments, see here.)

The fact that see saw an inflatable pumpkin adorning someone's front lawn was disturbing, but not surprising since I also had spotted my first inflatable lawn ornament this morning too! On some one's balcony no less. Why someone would chose to take up their only outdoor space with an inflatable is beyond me. It was a shock for both us to see fall/Halloween inflatables already dotting the landscape. We weren't prepared for it. Jenny and I have both gone months without an inflatable in sight. And now they're back to stay, at least through St. Patrick's day.

So the inflatable season is upon us, and I am not happy.

September 27, 2007

Legally Barred

The Medill School of Journalism is regarded as one of the best journalism schools in the country. Located just a short train ride north of Chicago, I have visited Northwestern’s Campus to check out this program. I did this about two years ago when I was considering going back to school. After visiting Northwestern and doing some more research (and soul searching), I opted for the paralegal program at Roosevelt University instead. The cost, location, cost, admissions process and cost were a few of the reasons I opted for becoming a paralegal as opposed to earning my second journalism degree.

Applying to Medill’s graduate program has crossed my mind time and time again - more so with the mentality of do-it-and-see-if-I-get-in than it‘s mine! However, having already taken out loans for a certificate I’m using, it’s hard to justify chucking that for a career I’ve already tried. It seems like my time and money at Roosevelt and my first year paralegalling could be considered a waste if I go back to a career I’ve already abandoned.

My one caveat to this logic has always been a perfect melding of the two - law and journalism. Medill has a degree that does just that. It’s a dual degree where time is split between the journalism and law schools - the idea being that this degree should prepare the student for a career writing about all things legal. It seemed perfect for me.

With this “what if” mentality kicking in full force the other day, I checked out Medill’s Web site to get some basic facts about the program. Seeing none, I sent a quick email to admissions. A few days later, I got my response. The program no longer exists. “Both schools are in process of revamping the program and may offer it again in a few years down the road, which is why you are not able to find any information about the program.”

I guess for now I can stop wondering what if, and maybe go back to asking myself what else?

September 24, 2007

The Daily Bread

I learned tonight that GM union employees went on strike. My sister called to inform me of this tidbit of news. Any UAW or GM activity has always been important to my family because our breadwinner's checks came from General Motors.

My dad has worked for GM (or divisions thereof) for more than 30 years. My dad, and to some extent the entire family, has weathered 30 years of talk of strikes, strikes, night shifts, day shifts, evening shifts, the jobs bank, plant closings, buyouts and the threat of no pensions or severance pay upon my dad's departure from the company. Our family has been through all of this many times over (once again, mainly my dad) and after 30 years, I am tired.

I don't want him to work late nights, or walk a picket line or lose his pension. It's always been my hope that once my sister and I were out of the house and his breadwiner title had diminished, he would say good bye to GM, as well as all the perks, and all the hassles that come with it. Because I'm tired, so I figure my dad must be exhausted.

September 22, 2007

My New Toy

Since day one, I have been unable to connect to a (free) wireless Internet connection in my new digs. Today, I did. I am, as I write this. The difference that allowed me to connect today was simple. I got a laptop!

After talking about getting a fancy, new computer for months and doing some online browsing, I bought this. I am incredibly happy. And I feel very adult. It was one of the bigger purchases I've made. Getting a laptop was certainly not an inpulse buy. I have been wanting one for about a year, but only within the past few months realized it was financially feasible. The overtime I've been working as of late and the overtime that's coming to me over the next two months made this purchase easier to make.

My main reason for getting a laptop was my hatred for working on my home computer. It's a fine computer (thanks, Brian!) but after sitting at a desk for 8+ hours a day, I never had motivation to go home to return to sitting in front of a computer that faces my wall. There's something about sitting on my couch while working that makes a world of difference to me. As I've said, I have been spending a lot of time at work, and I know the end in sight is still two months away. The idea of leaving at 5 and going home to work more seems much better than staying until 8 and dodging the cleaning ladies. Oscar prefers it that way too, which is to say, as is my motivation for most things, my computer was purchased partially out of cat guilt.

The other reason I used to justify my purchase was that if I had a laptop at home I might update my blog more. Case and point, you're reading this now, right?

So while it was great to learn I can steal the Internet again (I'll be purchasing my own soon, don't worry) it's even greater to learn that this blog updating this is a whole lot easier. I hate to get anyone's hopes up, but maybe, JUST maybe, I'll be updathing this blog on more than a monthly basis. And also given that Oscar's sleeping next to me as I type, I can gather he's pretty happy about my purchase too.

September 16, 2007

Trial by Fire

I am a little over a year into my new paralegalling profession. And even though I am a newbie by most of my coworkers standards (as well as mine), I have found myself in both a unique and challening position. I am the lead paralegal on a case set to go to trial in a little over month. It's a case worth millions of dollars and has a team consisting of nine lawyers, one other paralegal and myself. All signs point to the fact that I am grossly out numbered.

Being that I've never gone to trial, I don't know what to expect. But all of my fellow paralegals who have been in my shoes keep echoing the same expectation: You're going to put in a ton of hours. Being that I am writing this entry from work at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night, I don't disagree. I can't disagree, being that I actually starting writing this entry when I was at work at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that the case is set for trial beginning Nov. 5 in sunny San Francisco. However, at this point I just hope I'm not too exhausted to enjoy my first trip to California.

September 5, 2007

Dance Tall, Carry a Big Stick

Last night was the beginning of my second round of belly dancing classes. That's right, I'm a belly dancer. Well, a novice belly dancer, but a belly dancer none-the-less. I'm not really sure what the end result, if any, of my classes will be, but for now belly dancing is a really fun way to spend my Tuesday nights. Because let's face it, otherwise I'd be doing such exciting activities as washing my dishes or watching Oscar run into walls while chasing a laser pointer.

As I said this class is my second round, yet it's still considered a level 1 class. I'm calling it level 1.1. I took level 1 with two of my co-workers and having not gotten enough belly dancing, we signed up for level 2. However, we weren't quite ready yet. We first had more work in level 1. It turns out that before we learn how to belly dance using canes, we had to master smaller and lighter objects - namely finger cymbals and veils.

Since the class is still level 1, anyone could sign up - beginners and non-beginners alike. As a result, our first level 1.1 class was the same basic movements I mastered over the previous eight weeks in level 1.0. When we began with the same old movements, I immediately assumed the first class would be a breeze.

Belly dancing is very precise and very technical. A movement, such as making a wide circle with my hips, looks simple, effortless and graceful when done by my instructor, Erika. But doing is much different than observing. The first time I tried this same movement, I practically fell over. Erika’s been teaching for a while, so to ensure we're doing a movement correctly she breaks down every move. For example, this one circular hip motion is divided into four moves and then slowly put together until it is one fluid movement.

In level 1.1, we did these slow, controlled movements for each and every move I originally learned months ago. I am happy to say there was a marked improvement between my first 1.0 and first 1.1 class. This time, I was more graceful. I had control (and never once felt like I was about to fall over). Aside from seeing my control in the wall-sized mirror, I could feel it. The slow, controlled movements were just that. And because they were so controlled, they registered more with my muscles. I did these same moves for the first time in July, but I know I didn't do them correctly. It was a delight to learn that this time I was.

So while I may not have learned any new moves in level 1.2 yet, I did learn that those I already know are being done correctly. In no time, I should be wielding a cane.