Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life Lessons from 2009 (or just a bunch of words in one place)

Things that I learned in 2009

1. Waste makes Haste

Yes, I know the saying is haste makes waste but that is not the lesson I learned.  I learned that waste makes haste. The year of 09 was cluttered as could be.  I was no longer a newlywed (I say we still are, but for the sake of this lesson-learned, I was not)  and I was no longer fresh out of college. I was working 40 hour weeks, juggling bills, moving homes, making and maintaining relationships, volunteering, working for free, and doing an awful job.  There was just to much "that" for one of me.

Simplifying my world was the answer.  Everything from keepsakes to weekly obligations, bills to luxuries, it all is in a process of streamlining and simplification.  I have a lot of work to do still, all the while working on not throwing the baby out with the bath water.  But dang if that baby isn't a fatty.

2. Living with people is hard
2009 will henceforth be known as the year I lived in community. I started out the year with just my husband and I in a one bedroom apartment.  Then we moved to a 5 Bedroom, 4 bath home with 2 4 5 other people for 5 months, until the house sold. The rotating number of roommates was chaotically fun.  There was always something cooking (in the kitchen and otherwise) and never a lonely moment.  We then moved to a 5 bedroom 2 (as in: 1, 2. 2) bathroom house, in which we currently are living.

I am amassing some major life lessons. Best not to get into them all right now.  The best advice I had received before moving in to these places was "Learn the lessons that come up here, and learn them well.  These are lessons you don't have to learn on your family."  You are welcome, future Waneka babies, I am learning away so your barefoot selves will like me a little better.

I think the best thing I have gleaned from my living situations is that it is hard to live with people.  No matter who you are, and no matter who they are.  If it is easy you then it is probably hard for them.  If it is hard for you, it is probably still hard for them. The simple act of placing yourself in the mix with 5 other (or 1, or 2, or 3) personalities brings out all kinds of surprises.  Most of all from yourself.

3. Debt is the problem, not money.
As I'm sure I have mentioned 100 times before, this year started out with a couple of big challenges for me.  Tyler and I were only about 6 months into our marriage and already going through the lows of a job loss, the stress of a major injury and surgery, and beginning to pay off the debts we earned in the fleeting early years of adulthood (aka STUPID COLLEGE BILLS).

About mid-way through the year we began meeting with a financial mentor.  Our friend, Michael, is 40 years married, retired, and debt free.  A great role model on so many levels.  As we started to come clean about our bad habits, divulge the details of what we owe and who we owe, and own up to some of the dumber choices we made, one thing became clear to me: money doesn't suck. Debt does.

We had lived under the advisement that it was more important to live now, and worry about it later.  But yo, so wrong.  As Tyler and I have begun our aggressive attack on debt we have learned first hand that when you have debt, you are under someone's thumb.   I want to be the boss of me, so we're chiseling away.

4. Trusting people to be your friends even if you don't get why is hard but makes you a better friend.
I have some wonderful long-term friendships, some have lasted longer than most marriages in the US.  The thing about these friendships is that I began them when I was young.  I was young and baggage free.  Unfortunately, I have had some friendships that came and went quicker than a travel mug (because dammit, if those things don't just run away on their own).  I have come away from those places a little bruised up and carrying these ideas that close friends in adulthood might not exist.

This year, a light has come on.  They exist and they are wonderful.  You just have to scale back your baggage to about the size of a carry-on. We all have had relationships that make it hard to be comfortable in new ones, but as long as you are walling everyone out you will be walling yourself in.

I have an obnoxious sense of humor, I sneeze really weird, and I sometimes ask really stupid questions.  But to know me is to love me  and some people want to do that. Who I am to stop them?

5. Love is better in action.
I think my biggest lesson of the year came in February. The same month that Tyler and I learned that surgery was going to cost us about a month's worth of income, not including physical therapy or incidentals.  We began to discuss the idea of putting off the surgery until we had saved up enough to pay for it, or simply not doing it at all.  Tyler was wrestling with the idea of never snowboarding again at 24.  Kind of brutal.

One night, at one of our weekly dinners with our friends we told them about the idea of putting off the surgery and how that was the direction we were leaning.  They had already been there for us, making dinner for us while Tyler was on crutches and watching the entire 10-hour series of Band of Brothers because we were pretty much locked in the house for a few days after the injury. They were taking care of us, and keeping our spirits up. After we finished telling them our plans for the next few month they handed us a card with a check in it, a check to cover the surgery.

Close to 20 people, some really close friends and others just barely knew us, pitched in what they could and raised a couple thousand dollars to cover our costs.  It was incredible.  I still don't know how to explain what it felt like to receive that check. They were already there for us and supporting us through a pretty stressful experience and didn't need to do anything more.  What moved me the most was that they jumped in and footed the bill.  They didn't hope for the best and then wait to see if we were going to sink or swim, they jumped in the water with us and made sure we made it.

This experience has totally changed my perspective on how you care for the people you love.  It is always good to have good feelings, and warm wishes towards the people or the issues that you care about.  But the way that you feel is really only about you; it's what you do to show them you care that matters. Excuse me for the drama but the St. Crispen's Day speech from Henry V says "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother," so poetically sums up what it means to carry burdens with the people you love and how thankful I am for my friends who have done that.

And so...
I wanted to write about the things I learned and try to remember the changes that happened this year, more for me than for anyone else.  But I have stumbled through my language, and don't know if I even said what I wanted to. Oh the fine line of blogging and that which resembles public drunkeness.

Well I had a good year, and I didn't know I was going to.  Goodbye Aughties, I'm off to the tens, or the teens, or you know, the next ones.

Merry Christmas Internets!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Commuting, Construction, and Choose your own Adventure

Let me tell you a little story about my daily commute to work, as I find myself facing a conundrum on a regular basis. 

I am fortunate enough to live just 2 miles from where I work.  More than that, I live exactly 2 miles down the same street from where I work.  Because of this prime proximity it seems commuting should rarely take more than 20 minutes.  It seems. I am unfortunate enough to live directly north of the massive reconstructive overhaul they are doing on Broadway, a job that is 10 months from completion.

Here are my daily commute options written as a choose your own adventure, naturally:

You wake up in the morning and go through your tried and true routine.  Gym, shower, coffee, out the door by 7:40.  You walk out the door, and pause for a second in front of your house and try to choose your mode of transportation this morning?  You can walk, bus, or drive. What do you choose?

If You chose to walk: A good choice, since mornings are often mild and this allows you time enough to wake up before you begin a long day of work.  You walk one block from your house and have to dodge a couple of tractors that are working on the new sidewalk, which you notice will eventually be constructed in your front yard.  Nice!

Next, you see that there are tractors up a couple of blocks on this side of the road, and you really hate trying to judge their helter-skelter driving routes while dodging traffic.  Do you continue on and try to play chicken with the bobcats or do you cross to the other side?

You decide to cross the other side of the street and lo-and-behold.  More construction.  Glorious tractors, orange cones, and loitering men abound.  Now you have to frogger your way either through the construction, or cross to the other side of the street, where you can frogger your way through the construction.  (On a related note, do you have to go to Junior High to be a city planner? Or is that kind of a walk-on type position?)

You decide to frogger your way through the construction and you fall into an un-covered manhole.  The End.

If You chose to take the bus: Good choice! Lucky for you, you are right on the Skip route, the simplest and most frequently running bus in town.  Since you left the house at 7:40 and managed to run through traffic on Broadway to get to the closest bus stop, the next bus should only be 3 minutes away! You will be able to get to Pearl with plenty of time to grab a coffee before work.  Mental high-five.

Alas, it is now 7:53 . The first and second buses, as posted on the morning commute schedule on RTD, are yet to appear.  At this point, you are guaranteed to be late, and forget about coffee.  But what do you see coming over the hill? Why it is a fleet of Skip buses, four in a row! They are following no schedule posted anywhere, but by-golly, they are traveling in a glorious pack.  The first bus is packed with high school students so you can ride standing up.  Yes, the other buses are empty, why do you ask?

You get off the bus and show up to work. Unfortunately, while you were waiting for the bus, they took out an ad for, interviewed, hired, and trained your replacement.  You are fired. The end.

If You Chose to Drive: You get into your car and wait between the awkwardly staggered traffic (another perk to both sides of the road being worked on) and finally peel out into traffic, in a school zone no less.  10 cool points are deducted from your ego.  Ouch.  You drive and park in the parking garage. As you get out of your car Al Gore comes out from the stairwell and hits you over the head with his Oscar because you just drove 2 miles to work.  The End.

Wasn't that a good story?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stay Warm and Prosper

This morning, my Twitter was full of posts like this:
This doesn't include the -30 windchill! Baby it's cold outsid... on Twitpic

And this:
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

And these:

"It's -2 outside right now. Awesome!"

"So on my way to the gym this morning my car told me it was -10 degrees. That is butt freaking cold!!!!!!! I need it to warm up a little."

"No one should have to go outside when it's -6 degrees. I'm moving so much slower this morning."

"Alright who wants to bail on this -9 degree stuff w/ me and go spend the rest of the month in Florida?"

I do. I want to bail and I'm not sure I even like Florida. It's like I don't even know where I am anymore. In Colorado, we have snow but it is supposed to melt. We have sun, all the time. Sun. All the time. This sub-zero, cloudy, blizzard siege is kind of killing me softly. I have been desperately wracking my brain for ways to go and warm up and created a little mental list.

Then, I was inspired by Maggie (of MightyGirl.com) and her list of "7 Ways to keep Cozy in San Francisco" and decided to share how I plan to stay warm in Boulder during this hellish freeze winter.

1. Have a Cup of soup and homemade artisan Bread at Oliv You & Me at Pearl and Broadway.
This boutique specializes in olive oil and olive oil accessories.  I absolutely love stepping into the shop on a chilly day.  Patti Scott, the owner, has cultivated a shop that feels like a mini-vacation.  She usually has a couple of soups on, and always has a variety of olive oils to sample.Olive it! (Get it guys?! Oh witty!)

2. Have a Latte and a Gingerbread Stout Cupcake at Tee and Cakes.

Tee and Cakes is one of my favorite places to head during my work week.  The carefully selected music combined with the great art and creative baked goods is a refreshing break from all things corporate.  Also, I kind of have a crush on their intern. Follow Tee and Cakes on Twitter and get VIP deals. Mmmmcupcake!

3. Slurp fancy noodles and inspired cocktails at Happy Noodle and the Bitter Bar.
Happy Noodle is one of Big Red F's newer Boulder spots. I love Big Red F and all the things they do. I mean that. Happy Noodle has a menu full of diverse and inventive dishes, complete with Ramen (The ultimate Happy Noodle, no?) and their specialty Hot and Happy Soup. The Bitter Bar is somewhat a force of it's own. It defines itself as the "marriage of a speakeasy and...lounge." Warm it up with a hot sake, Brandi or Denver's own Leopold Absinthe.

4. Duck into a reading nook at the Boulder Book Store upstairs.
Boulder's largest independent bookstore started with only 10 bookcases and 5 employees.  Roughly 36 years later, it is a three story haven for book-loving locals.  The picturesque "annex" or upstairs is my favorite place to hide out on my lunch breaks, especially when the weather is going ballistic and hanging out below zero. I mean..weather, it's zero- you really can't go below it.  You're just being a showboat, and no one likes a showboat.

5. Frequent the West End Tavern  for a Hot Toddy
The West End Tavern is arguably one of my favorite places in Boulder. Period.  It could be the hot wings.  It's really hard to say.  What I do know for sure is there are not many places I want to go when the snow is coming down in buckets, but I'll always go for a hot toddy at the The W.E.T.

6. Lurk by the fire and listen to Live Jazz at The St. Julien
In my last year of college I took a class on the History of Jazz.  The class was incredible, and now I can look extra cool when people ask me about jazz. You know, when that happens someday.  This class required we attend a certain number of live jazz performances; I attended all of mine at the St. Julien.  This started a love affair with the St. Julien lobby.  You can walk in, sit in a a velour slipper chair, listen to jazz, sip a cocktail or a latte, feel fancy and do so next to one of the best fireplaces I know of. 

7. Actually go to Hot Yoga
Few things undo the core freezing walk to the busI don't care if you get under your covers WITH the space heater and pour buckets of hot tea over your head; sometimes that bone chill is just going to linger right in to forever. Why? Because it's Colorado, and mountain living comes at a price my friend.  Luckily, this is Boulder, and you are never too far from a heated studio pumping Thievery Corporation and the heat cranked to 105. Glorious. 

8. Sherpas for garlic naan, Vindaloo, and Chai

I don't know how to explain Sherpas. They have incredible chai tea.  You simply must go.  The victorian house is a one-stop shop for Himalayan expeditions and cuisine, and authentic chai.  Their website paints the best picture:

"As the name implies, there are genuine Sherpas from the Himalaya here to bring a little of Nepal & Tibet to Boulder. In addition to great food & atmosphere, we offer a truly unique "traveler's lounge" with plenty of books to help get you started planning your next (or better yet first) adventure. Keep an eye out for our list of guest speakers and slide shows. If experiencing the Himalayas (or Thailand, Africa, or South America for that matter) appeals to you - you're in the right place. Sherpa's is the place to re-live the glories of past adventures and plan new ones."
 Have I mentioned their chai?

So if you are looking for me and I'm not cuddled on the floor with a space heater and every pair of socks I could find in the house (at this point I don't care if they are even mine), you might find me at one of these Boulder warm-ups.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I have girly-man triceps and Hamstrings of Inflexible Steel

(It has been over a month since my last post.  Let's just pretend like we don't notice.)

This Monday has been one of the more painful Mondays I have had in a while.  It isn't entirely due to the excessive amount of needy callers who still do not understand that when I say I will transfer them to a voice mail and then do it, it is not a mistake. Seriously.  Calling back will just yield the same results. Even if you call back twice. Leave a message Jethro.

Anyway, I'm a little extra pained because my muscles are sore due to the Bar Method class I took on Saturday.  I think they're still kind of angry that I found them because they are the muscles that never get worked extensively, except for a day I spend snowboarding (aka using extreme acrobatic prowess to hoist myself back to my feet 30-40 times per run). Hello my wimpy triceps, I have found you and I shall torture and exhaust you.

The Bar Method is a relatively new workout regime as far as dedicated studios and DVDs go.  It consists of three basics types of exercises that target your muscles, work them to exhaustion, and then stretch them while they are still warm.  It is supposedly a really effective way to build lean muscle of the non-bulky variety.

I campaigned on Facebook and via text for a workout buddy to come try the basics class with me this weekend as it was both of the following: a. Free;  b. Bound to reveal my severely inflexible hamstrings.  You'd think that no escort would have discouraged me, but let us not forget how entirely shameless and slightly delusional I can be. Indeed, I showed up alone and was the only person do to so. Holla at a loner.

Despite my loner status, the Boulder location is really inviting.  It is modern, light and airy feeling. As an added bonus, they offer each class attendee a locker free of charge (yoga studios should take note).  The studio itself has floor-to-ceiling mirrors around the room, a ballet barre along the mirrors, and any of the equipment you would need for the workout.  I showed up in some socks and I was set to go.

The class seemed to consist of four different phases: a warm-up; the upper body and arm workout; the barre work out (focusing mainly on legs and the glutes); and some serious core work. Each phase was followed by stretching the muscle groups that were just worked.  The class is meant to work you "head-to-toe," and it certainly did.  I felt about two inches taller and was definitely aware of my abs.

I loved the class overall.  Certainly my amazingly inflexible hamstrings proved a challenge for the barre stretches (it has to be said that the forward stretch in middle school PE was always what made me hate the presidential fitness test), but, other than that, all of the moves were relatively easy to learn.  They were fairly easy to do as well, however; doing the 90 reps (yes ma'am, 90) got the old heart rate right up there.  I could definitely see this class yielding its promised results of lean and toned muscle groups.

The only real drawback of the bar method is the price range.  At $18 per class it is difficult to wiggle into the budget.  The upside to that is the DVDs, which feature the method's founder.  This kind of knocks out the self-concious trial period and the high price tag problem in one fell swoop.

I will definitely try the Bar Method again since it was such a stellar workout.  I felt like like I could freely indulge the cheddar cheese stored in the cheese drawer in my fridge.  Ahh, cheese drawer.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who formed you?

Around six months ago, a friend of mine graduated from college.  He was quite the hard working student, and it certainly seemed to pay off for him when he was able to graduate with honors and some kind of laude (I obviously didn't graduate as one, since I don't even know what to call it).  Anyway, after walking in a cap and gown, eating cake, and a spirited celebration, he had found himself in the mood for a philosophic conversation.  He posed the question, "Who formed you? I'm an individual."

I hope he reads this.  Or hears about it.

While we tease him endlessly for said comment, it is something I have been considering lately for my life.  Sometimes I ask myself, "Who do I think I am?"  or "Is this who I want to be?"

Earlier today I wrote a blog post, and published it.  Then I pinged my friend saying "read my awkward blog post"
"I can't wait, what is it about?"
     "Facebook. Defriending. The norm."
"Oh poor guy."
Yeah, wait, what? My friend then asked me a series of questions that reminded me of who I try to be.
"Does it edify anyone/anything?"
"No, but I don't know that I've ever written anything that does that. It's funny if that's what you're asking."
"Well, ok, so does it help you to write about it?"
My conscience apparently wrapped up it's lunch date right about that time and chimed it, "Yeah Jules, how does this help?"

              "Maybe I'll re-read my post."
 Ultimately I opted to take down my post, because it wasn't really consistent with anything.  Yeah, I thought the scenario was funny because it was so completely awkward, and centered on Facebook. Funny? Sure. Worth reading? Unsure.

Who formed you?  I guess if we're really honest, not one of us is an "individual" because so many people play into the areas of our lives that form us.  We don't just wake up and decide "Alas! I am this! This is how I live now!"  To some extent we do, but not one of us approaches life without carrying in our particular brand of baggage. That person who accidentally insulted our macaroni drawing that was clearly supposed to be of an elephant and not a triangle, he may have played a part.  The child screaming in the middle of the grocery store, while a young single mother hid her face and made you wonder why people ever have kids, she might have played a role. We are mold-able, we can become jaded, or at the very least, a vapid version of ourselves if we don't pay attention.

Recently I have been considering this aspect of my life.  Considering the areas of my life where I have refused to let people in, because that part of me was going to be indie, dammit. Also, considering the places in my life I have shared with friends, and the ways they have changed.  I prefer that my life remains a team sport, because I certainly don't like to do it all alone. One is the loneliest number after all.

Sometimes I need a filter.  Sometimes my conscience is out to lunch.  Sometimes I'm looking at myself with so much past in the corners of my eyes that I can't see where I am and where I am heading.  I am so thankful to have people with beautiful hearts, perceptive minds, and caring voices working on seeing my potential and introducing me to it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why I ought to take boarding lessons this year: my epic fail

I've been a little bit out of the action the past week.  I contracted some sort of non-swine flu illness thing-a-ma-jig and was only interested in a block of cheddar, and 30 Rock.  In addition, Colorado had a pretty unseasonable blizzard and shrouded itself in 27 inches or more of snow for two days.  The urge to sing Christmas carols was unbearable.  However, I was not about to let Colorado's disregard for the season peer pressure me into making the same mistake.

The mass amounts of snow reminded me of one of my best, and most embarrassing, ski stories ever.  Since today is Halloween, a celebration of oddness and treats, this story seems to be the perfect morsel for you.

To set the tone, I have to tell you about my husband's bff.  I could say friend but that wouldn't really do their relationship much justice.  Before "bromance" and "man-dates" were a part of the common vernacular Tyler and Brady were years into, their term here, a heterosexual life-partnership.  They have Guy Love.  They don't live in the same city, they only see each other about once a year, and yet, they don't seem to miss a beat with each other.  It's really quite incredible.  Some might be wondering: "How is she not jealous of such a connection?" I am not jealous because this friend played a key role in reigniting the spark between Tyler and I (some even speculate that it might not have happened if Brady had not asked Tyler why we broke up).  Also, I don't have to pretend to understand how Chauncy opened up the back court; he's got someone there for him to be excited with him. Win, win, WIN.

Anyway, Brady and his wife, Liz, came to visit and get some quality time in skiing up at Winter Park.  We joined them for a few days and it was really great to see them.  Tyler and Brady needed some QT with one another and the NCAA tournament so they sent the wives off for a day of skiing/boarding. (They might have come if Tyler had not just had knee surgery, but I'm inclined to think that they would have stayed in no matter what the circumstances).

It must be said that I am not a premium boarder. Over the last five years, I was in school during the week days and working on the weekend, equating to little or no time to hit the slopes.  I did get pretty good in high school, and was decent enough to teach some friends how to board my first year of college.  However, five years is a significant gap of time, and I am currently relearning how to get off the dang lift. This said gap in snowboarding practice was ever evident during this wives-only ski day.

Liz is a good skier.  She can get on and off the lift with out a flailing tumble, and she stays on her feet down the entire run.  I cannot say either thing is true about myself.  Fortunately, she was totally awesome. She helped me get out of the way of the people dismounting the lift and dodging my ski gear, now strewn about the snow. She even pretended like it wasn't the most awkward and uncoordinated thing ever when I fell off the lift and skidded into a group of skiers looking at a map.  This is all true people.

Finally, on my way down the hill, I come up with a solution to not fall.  If only both of my feet were trapped into my board, then I could get off and sail down the mountain like Shawn White.  I might even do a mogul or two! I meet up with Liz at the line to the express lift (which is exactly what it sounds like to all who have not done the downhill thing) and tell her my brilliant plan.  She nods and offers me a ski pole to use to maneuver through the line.  Liz is a skier and cannot be held accountable for my poor choice, however, the snowboarders in line can be.  If you see me groping the line dividers on my way to get on the ski lift, for the love of humanity, HELP ME OUT BECAUSE I'M CLEARLY MAKING A POOR CHOICE HERE.

I toil my way to the front of the line with both feet firmly bound into my board.  The attendant scanning the lift tickets motions to us to step up to the line to wait for the chair to come pick us up. Mid-sentence his eyes pop out of his head and he begins motioning to my legs and yelling "YOU CAN'T! YOU HAVE TO UNSTRAP, YOU HAVE TO UNSTRAP!"  But the EXPRESS LIFT is already turning the corner of the pulley, and I think that to bend down and unstrap my foot would result in my demise and unfortunate loss of my head.  Being rather fond of my head, I opt to "try" the chair lift despite his advice.

I now know what it is like to be underhand tossed into a mountain.  I know this because the lift came at its express rate, lifted me, feet bound, and threw me face first into a few feet of snow.  I imagine it looked like a cross between Clark Griswald being electrocuted by Christmas lights (as seen to the left), and an epic bellyflop. A face-first plummet, three or four feet through the air, into a mound of snow.

Reminder: I am getting on the ski lift.  There are people in line, in prime position to witness my poor decision and subsequent drop.  From the back of this line of people a woman's voice chimes "Lesson Learned!"


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A letter I get in my dreams

Dear Mrs. Waneka,

We, the CEO's of a major Bank in America, have stumbled upon your blog.  We find your writing both lively and full of candor. Additionally, we find your gaggle of readers to be desirable and splendid individuals; they are the perfect profile of our most desired potential clientele.  Finally, we have come across your life list of things to be getting to while the getting is good, and we have come to to a rather exciting conclusion.  We will fund every last dime.

We would like to inspire people to hope for the most, and expect the best.  We want to shake off the dust of that fussy little economic mess we created and  remind people that crazy dreams are worth a second thought.  We find you to be just crazy enough to check off these items on your list.  And would you know, we're the perfect amount of profitable to support it.

Please pack your bags and assemble a team of cohorts and experts to begin checking items off your list.  Be sure not to pack any shoes, as we would like to personally fulfill that wish of  "the perfect shoe collection" right away. 

Quit your job without delay, we will send a plane for you in the morning.


Bank of Awesome

At least that is how the letter reads in my dream.  How can I get someone to sign this dang thing?

Well. Item no. 6 is to deejay at a club for at least 1 hour.  I want to learn how to rock a pair of enormous headphones  and then show people my inner-booty-shaking-self via my fat beats I mix.  Road trip?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Yogi Me

Hey guys, sorry that I had gone missing for a few days with no word.  I was just hiding in the attic.  I mean the garage.  I mean a box in the attic in the garage. I did this for a show. No I didn't.

Ok, I got it out of my system.  I refuse to add one more you-know-what-boy link to the internet insanity (though I was totally sucked into it yesterday).  All I want to say is this: there is not a single reason I do not live in Fort Collins; there are quite a few. Yesterday I added one more. Oh Ft. Collins, your crazies carry guns on campus to stave off school shootings, wear sunglasses on the backs of their heads indoors, and send up UFO balloons with kids in them, or not, please send a helicopter.  As a town, you could probably use a little guidance. Boulder, on the other hand, knows exactly where it's going: Corepower Yoga, obvs.

Speaking of yoga, lately I have wondered what it would be like to go on a little yoga bender.  I have been at my current job for 15 months, in a row, and I'm already getting that old person swagger.  The one that comes from carrying way too much junk in your bag, so you don't get bored at your desk...err... on the bus.  The one that comes from uncomfortable shoes, unforgiving wool pants, and an ergonomic desk chair that is just not the right height for your desk and so you slouch all day.  I'm 23, but my hips are groaning and reminiscing of the days when Regan was in office (which I think is their way of saying I lean too far left for them. Zing!).

As some of you may know, I worked for the Yoga-store-to-remain-unnamed for about a year in college.  That little venture landed me free yoga classes at most of the local studios, and that is a lot.  Boulder must have the highest per capita yoga studios in a single town, someone google that.  At any rate, I really only have been able to commit to 1 maybe 2 classes a week, because it is a little out of my price range (while you're googling, look up Boulder's median income- and have a bucket near by) and I just don't think I've ever seen what yoga really can do.

(This little photo was in the paper, as alerted to me by one of my college professors at the time. There I am, in the gray, lunging across a gym with two of my managers from the yoga store.
One of the reasons I do not work there anymore.)

I am on a quest to get a studio to let me attend classes for 30 days straight, in exchange for me writing about what happens over that time.  Things such as:  if I notice any increases in my sleep patterns; joint mobility; stronger muscles; improved posture; or a need to dreadlock my hair and henna an apocalyptic dragon on my face. Wouldn't you read that blog? I would.

So far, I have had contact with a few studios and they all seem to kind of furrow their brows at me and stare blankly as if I have already henna-ed an apocalyptic dragon on my face.  I say "Guys, I'm awesome, you'll love me in your classes! You won't even know I'm here. Pretty please?"  And they are like, "Lady, please get off of my mat, I'm teaching right now."

Maybe yoga will help me with social boundaries. Fingers Crossed!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Item number 3: Wine

I am 50% Italian and 50% French.  Those are not exactly the right genetic representations.  There are other mixtures in there.  I am certain I have a lot of Irish blood, per my penchant for swearing when other words might do just fine. According to my mom, we have some Spanish heritage. But take a quick look at that photo to the right, and you'll see that even in a black and white photo, I'm scary white. Spanish is going to be a hard one to sell.  Anyway, back to my first statement:  I'm 50% Italian and 50% French. 

In college, I began studying Italian and my Italian-born professor was calling out the attendance sheet on the first day of class.  She called out the first few names, Anderson, Adams, Banks, etc. When she saw my name, her eyes lit up.  My maiden name (weird) is Baratta, and Baratta is the Smith of Italy. Add to that, my first name, Julia, is derivative of Giulia, the north eastern region of Italy.  Her face went from excitement, "Giulia Baratta?" (r's rolled and t's said individually), to bewilderment as she squinted and tilted her head and I responded "Si, that means 'yes' right?"  She immediately asked me to list all the Italian words I knew. High point: I knew a couple, Low point: all apparently inappropriate. Thanks Grandpa.

My Papa, or my great Grandfather, was Paul Walti and grew up in San Francisco speaking Frenglish. He was an Opera singer (typical), and every time we came to the city we dropped by the Basque cultural center to eat escargo or flit about in fashionable shoes or whatever French things we did there.  All I can remember is that was the place where if I had the stomach flu, I needed a sip of red wine.  A headache? A sip of red wine.  I was grouchy?  Have a nap, oh and maybe a sip of red wine. Red wine anyone?

Why am I writing all of this?  Well, with half of me identifying Italian and the other half identifying French, I love me some wine. I am writing out my life list, or my bucket list - I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to call it just yet.  Item #3: Build and establish a wine collection worthy of a cellar.  I know a few varieties, and vineyards that I like, but in order to build a collection with diversity I'm going to need some suggestions.

Internets, do you like wine?  Which ones?

Click here to here my Grandpa Singing the San Francisco Giant's Anthem (on the bottom of the page)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Frickin Freezing in Here

As I mentioned a few days ago, Colorado was heading into it's colder times of the year.  Little did I know Colorado was barreling head first into a giant wall of freezing snow and iciness. A wall of freezing snow and iciness on OCTOBER 8th, no less.  I guess we'll have fall next year.
Ultimately, I spent the weekend huddled around a space heater, or cuddling my cast iron soup pot.  I drank about 1.6 gallons of hot chocolate, and I'm still frozen.  This is likely due to the fact that I work in a building that was built in 1836 (yes folks, that is an eight right there) and live in a house built about 40 years later.  It is as if Old Man Winter has affixed himself to me, and has done so quite unseasonably early.  I think him coming in October is equivocal to my grandma waking up at 4 am, "just to start her day, dear"

I am committed to completing at least one of these two cold weather projects at some point this week.  This Lotta Jandsotter draft stopper seems to be a decent attempt at warming up room. At least we'll try, no?

But this Corn Pillow is a delightful bit of heaven.  I had one of these last winter, and it was the single best thing I owned when it was cold.  I have since gifted it to a friend of mine who, quote "Needed it, because he had to sleep alone, and if he didn't have one he could likely die."  Deep down, I knew he was right, so I gave away my beloved pillow.

You can find the DIY tutorial at Wily Wilco Craft Vixen.

You will have to forgive me today, I'm desperately tired, and I cannot think of anything to write. Why hello Monday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Always Fall for the Bad Ones

Act One: We enter in on a scene where Julia eyes a slice of cheese pizza in the break room.
  • Julia: Oh, you again.What did I say about coming to my office?
  • C. Pizza: You won't return my calls.
  • Julia: So you just lurk in our kitchen here? What're you trying to do here?
  • C.Pizza: I know we've had some not so great times.  I'm not going to pretend that whole thing with your skinny jeans didn't happen. It did. And you loved those jeans. But back in high school, we hung out all the time and there were no problems. I miss that.
  • Julia: Yeah, but things have changed. I need to try to fit in my clothes.
  • C.Pizza: Just one more chance, please?
  • Julia: I don't think it's a good idea. I'm just not sure.
  • C.Pizza: I have basil.  I know how much you love Basil. And red sauce, remember red sauce Jules?
  • Julia: You had me at cheesey.
Exercising after pizza always feels like (what I imagine) Catholic* confession does. Like, hi hello, oops. I did this thing...and I'm already sorry for it, but I just feel like this isn't quite going to cover me.  And the preist is all "Yeah, you're right. Do you know what the Bible says about mozzarella? Forget Hail Mary's, you are going to have to ride your bike 10 miles, and follow that up with hot yoga- for 6 hours! Get a-toning." (ah see what I did there?) 

(side note, I was baptized Catholic, and my favorite family members are Catholic, so I think I'm allowed to make these jokes- I'll check and get back to you).

Anyway, while we're heading to confession, why not have our Sunday best, no?  I have used the Lululemon Align Ultra Mat for about 2 years.  I love it.  It isn't your top of the line when it comes to mats, I hear that the Manduka is the best, but alas, I don't have an extra $100 dollars ever. Especially since I'm buying all this pizza.  The Align Mat is soft enough to cushion you, sturdy enough it won't stretch during a down dog, and it's kinda cute. But the lines, oh the lines!  They have these lines on the mat to help you square up your posture.  When the teacher says to make sure your feet are in alignment, you can.  This is nice for the joints, but I especially love it because I'm not getting touched and adjusted every five minutes.  I like when you fix my posture, but when you touch my lower back, my brain goes "Danger ZONE!" Sometimes, I just like to do it myself, Bikram, I hope you can understand.

And while we're buying awesome mats, why not carry them in Modern Union's cute, yet functional bag.  If we have to ride our bikes to class, we might as well look awesome.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to file a restraining order against the pizza delivery guy.  Pizza stalking me in my break room? That's just too far.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Here we go...

It is officially cold season in Colorado. Not cold season as in "I hab a cold, but I'mb find," but rather the "Where did all my sweaters go? I need at least 7 to 10 sweaters on my body right now, wait no, nevermind, I'm feverishly hot, someone turn on the air please," cold season. The time in which the three seasons meld into one conglomerate season with multiple personalities. This is the time between October and May when any forecast could say it will be 70 degrees and sunny, or -2 degrees and snowy, and no one would be very surprised at either. This is when even young twenty somethings repeat senior citizen adages such as "If you don't like the weather in Colorado, wait five minutes," or "You need to learn how to layer if you're gonna make it in Colorado."  Yes, we get it, and yes, it's hilarious. I'm just laughing on the inside.

Actually, cold season is fun here because in the grand scheme of things, we have a very livable winter. The drawbacks of snowy and icy roads are often quickly dealt with by mass quantities of sunshine. The hills look like someone took a flour sifter to them, and the air is crisp and refreshing with not even a hint of muggy nastiness.

However, this season really cramps my style when it comes to working out outside. I have had far to many morning runs ("far too many" reads as "a total of maybe two") cut short because my fingers have frozen solid and the wind has sand blasted my legs with tiny frozen pieces of dirt through my cotton sweats. Don't get me started on the fact that my toes were numb before I even put my shoes on.

This winter I'm determined to find an exercise plan that will be sustainable through the cold days. My goals are as follows:
  • Try out at least three new types of exercise for at least one to two weeks.
  • Dedicate at least 30 days to indoor exercise that does not have the words "machine" or "cardio theater" anywhere in the names
  • Dedicate at least 30 days to some form, or a few forms, of outdoor (I feel my nose hair freezing already) exercise.
I am notoriously cynical by nature (or nurture, discuss amongst yourselves), and certainly my woes will likely find their way onto this blog.  However, I am most interested in finding things that work, that I enjoy, that are delightfully good and share my experience of them here.  I think it's going to be a long winter, and so this is my project to distract me from the gray days and the Chinook madness.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mad Muppets

I didn't know I could love Sesame Street any more than I already did, and then they had Feist on the show to teach us how to count. Just when I thought my heart had reached its maximum capacity for Muppets and ensuing hilarity, they go ahead and bring us this little gem.

Now Don Draper is not just a womanizer, and a chain-smoker, and God love him- he's the best at both of those things; he is in touch with his feelings. His dreamy, dreamy, feelings.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Say goodbye to Velour, for everyone's best interests

You're speeding back to school from the tanning salon in your Honda Prelude and listening to Britney's newest single: Toxic. And what is most offensive?  You are wearing a velour track suit.  Granted it is 2003, and thanks to J. Lo, 90% of females in the country were doing the same thing.  However, in 2009 (2 months from 2010- hello time warp!) there is simply no justification for velour track suits outside of...nowhere.  I tried to think of an appropriate place, but I just don't think there is such a thing.

Having worked at a yoga clothing shop that is to remain unnamed, I'm a sweats-junkie myself.  After a few too many grocery store run-ins with potential employers and fairly important acquaintances, I have been revamping my casual wear outlook.  Living in the most active city in the U.S. (fact check) I have seen my fair share of public grunge displayed as if it is appropriate to wear hiking shorts to a job interview, but I maintain that spandex is a privilege, not a right!

Here are some of my favorite casual wardrobe staples for every public situation that does not fall under the "I'm on my way home from the gym and need to pick up milk before tucking and rolling out of this place and back into my car" category.

In the words of Fashion Tribes:"AN ALTERNATIVE TO SWEATS Under no circumstances should you ever be seen publicly in a tracksuit or velour sweat suit (airplanes and gyms included). However, if you want a comfy walking-the-dog outfit, Gunn suggests leggings, a detailed tee, chic flats, and an interesting hoodie."

I substituted the hoodie with a luxurious looking wrap, and the flats with fold over boots (mostly because flats in winter in Colorado equal misery), but I think this outfit would be really fabulous with a pair of suede ankle boots.

Bye Bye J. Lo.