Wednesday, February 5

Life Stuff: Real talk?

Last week I found myself sitting in a chair at the hairdressers. My mom had finally convinced me to get my hair cut because it was "too long". I've been rocking the side long braid for the past month because it's pretty darn easy to do every morning. Personally I can find other things to spend money on than getting my hair cut, but I'll usually try and aim for at least twice a year. I had originally decided on chopping 4-5 inches off and then after the whole hair wash thing I had dropped down to 3 or 4 and by the time I was in the chair I had decided that I would just get a inch or two...or whatever was split cut off. Of course getting the ends chopped off and razored [I hate straight cuts since they don't grow out well for me] left my hair looking noticeably better. OK, I guess my mom was right, maybe a hair cut wouldn't kill me.

While my hair was getting cut my hair dresser who has known me all my life asked if Erik and I had plans to get married anytime soon. I'm used to this question by now so I was able to justify my reasons why I wasn't ready to get married and I'm sure she didn't quite agree, but whatever, I'm the one that needs to be happy.

A few minutes later she asked if I spent Christmas up north with Erik's family. It's pretty clear that Erik's dad isn't in to women that have a opinion, and I certainly have a lot of them. I've spent two weekends in the past 2 and 1/2 years up north and both times I left pretty agitated. It's no rocket science why I am agitated when I leave. As the only female in the house I am expected to make all the meals and then clean up after every one of them while the men excuse themselves to the formal living room and talk about god knows what. The door the room is always shut when they are in there and I know from experience that if you walk in when that door is shut you better not be planning on staying. If anyone offers to help me clean up they are given a stern look and it's clear that it's not appropriate to do. I usually end up heading to bed early and always give up on Erik returning before I fall asleep as it's usually well after midnight.

The first time I spent time up there was for New Years Eve and I remember getting dropped off at my parents after the weekend and I was just so confused about how people could act like that. The second time I was more prepared for what I would encounter but it really made it no better. I joke that Erik has it so easy with my family. My parents treat Erik with respect and involve him in conversations and make him feel welcome no matter what the occasion.

When my hair dresser asked if I had spent time up north, I responded that I didn't and she seemed confused. No holidays up there at all? I replied that I didn't have to spend any time up there since we weren't engaged or married and so really there was no need for me to be there. If Erik had wanted me to go I would have driven myself up and stayed for a day or two, but he knows how rough it is and so really, he can't blame me for not going. Maybe this is the plus with dating, I can do whatever I want and not feel obligated to do things because we are married or engaged.

I joked last post that I wasn't really into resolutions, but I think I am into the idea of telling people how I really feel, instead of always worrying about how they will respond or feel. I always feel obligated to say yes to things, even when I don't agree or don't want to do it. Maybe this year I should focus on being real with people and focusing on saying yes to the things I'm actually passionate about. Let's just not call it a resolution...OK?

Wednesday, January 29

Life Stuff: Resolutions

I'm not one to make resolutions every January. Sure, I'd love to get super fit and save the world but that's probably not going to happen this year. I'm always trying to maintain a healthy balance of fitness and will hopefully be kicking butt in cycling this spring but making some resolution to do x,y, and z isn't going to really be motivation enough for me. I laugh to myself (and sometimes out loud) when I hear my coworkers resolution. There was an epic conversation that revolved around balls this morning. Get your head out of the gutter, not those balls, I mean protein balls and whatever other disgusting fake food they could eat and get healthy with.

Of course I'm the one with a zip-lock full of knock off Lara balls in the fridge at work because rolling them was way easier than trying to get bars. Then again, I've been eating Lara Bars for a while now and it turns out it's just cheaper to make them myself, plus, I get to double the amount of lime I put in my key lime pie bars or balls in this case. I'm surprised that their resolutions have lasted this long, but honestly, I think there calories counting ways mid week and then alcohol bingeing tendencies on the weekends will probably counteract their weight loss efforts.

January has been a long month. I finally got my car back last Tuesday and it felt wonderful to finally be able to flip that page of ridiculousness. However, my luck didn't last. By Tuesday afternoon I had spent a good hour on the phone with my dad after my credit union realized that they fucked up my loan paperwork for my car back in May and were now trying to fix it. They had done some very shady things in attempt to cover their asses and luckily my dad read though the paperwork they wanted to be signed. While he has nothing to do with my loan, he is on my title, and they decided that 8 months after they gave me a loan that they wanted him to cosign it and date it with a day in May of 2013. Long story short, after a day of money talk and various opinions from my dad and Erik I decided it would be in my best interest to just pay off my entire loan and basically tell them to fuck off.

Actually, when I was on the phone to pay off said loan, I was offered a personal loan which wouldn't need a cosigner at 15% interest. That put me over the edge and I'm sure I said things that normally wouldn't come out of my mouth, but honestly, they had it coming. So as of last week I can add debt free to my list of things accomplished in life. Obviously, it won't last, as I want to upgrade my car and buy a house sometime in the future but for now it's nice. I'm responsible for my rent, heat bill, and Discover bill, but other than that I'm flying high. Of course I wasn't expecting to drain my account this month, so I'm working to save money anywhere I can without being too stingy.

I'm starting to do things like plan before I go to the grocery store and look through the weekly ads before I shop. Since everything is online now it's quite simple to go through them during my lunch break and pick out what I should buy where. Instead of solely shopping in one store like I was doing previously with Wegmans, I am utilizing a store that I am coming to appreciate, Aldis. Turns out Aldis has some pretty great produce options and basically that's all I buy there. When you are a octo-lacto-vegetarian (I think that's me) you eat a lot of veggies and buying produce at Wegmans was killing my budget. I know shop at Wegmans twice a month, instead of once a week, and just stock up on Goya products, Kashi cereal, and things like milk and dairy there and then buy produce at Aldis. So far it's been working great and I'm actually saving money which is a plus.

I'm also being a little smarter on cooking and I'm making some snacks I used to buy (i.e. Lara Bars) myself. It's not like any of the things I am doing are rocket science or anything, it's just the little things that add up and will hopefully save me a bit of cash over time.

Friday, January 17

Life stuff: Driving without cruise control

I am a very plan oriented person. If I am going out of town I like to check out places to eat or visit in advanced because I kind of fail when it comes to wandering aimlessly. I am working on getting better and just going with the flow for things, but like most things in life, it's a work in progress.

Remember my run in with a deer? Or shall I say the time a deer ran into me, because I certainly did not hit it. Anyways, that was back on December 13th. I dropped my car off at the shop on January 3rd and after the shop and my Progressive agent checked it out I was told it would be ready that following Friday. A week ago today, the shop called and told me that my car was all set and ready for pick up. I figured that since the car needed to be painted a number of pieces replaced that instead of picking it up in the dark after work Friday night, I would head back to the shop Saturday morning and bring Erik as a extra set of eyes. We pulled into the shop and Erik wandered around the car while I happily gathered all my things from the loaner. While I am very happy that I get to drive a FREE loaner, I have come to really miss my little car. I drive 30 miles each way for work every day and visiting Erik every other weekend means LOTS of highway miles. The worst thing about this loaner is that there is NO CRUISE CONTROL. Yes, caps are necessary! I drive on city streets for about 2 miles, total a control is necessary for my sanity. Do I sound bratty? Probably, but I thought every car by now had cruise control, especially this 2013 Kia Rio I'm driving. I don't mind my car rides home where I sit and listen to NPR and relax, but trying to navigate hills and the highway without being one of those people that drives at 10 different speeds instead of one constant one is difficult. I feel like I should apologize when cars need to pass me up hills because I can't maintain a constant speed.

Anyways, as Erik is checking things over, he doesn't look that happy. I wander over and the first thing I notice is that the hood is bent down in one corner. Then I move over and notice the the area around the headlight looks pushed in where all the panels meet up. The real kicker is that under the passenger door there is a rocker panel...

and that rocker panel has a nice crack in the paint and paint missing from being bent on impact from the deer. Well apparently when "fixing" the rest of my car they never even saw that was left untouched. It became quite clear that who ever "fixed" my car at the shop needed more practice and that my repair was in no way acceptable. It kind of reminded me of when little kids try and do puzzles but insist of jamming a piece that doesn't fit into a spot and the corners all get mashed up. 

When we finally decided to go find someone to talk to the receptionist pulled out all the paper work and asked for my signatures and deductible. I mentioned that I wouldn't be signing for anything today and that I needed to talk to someone from the shop about how the repairs were handled. After waiting around for a little bit we headed back outside with a estimator. He read off all the "fixes" that were made and then I pointed out all my concerns. They were so bad that he didn't even try and argue with us...he just told me to stay in the loaner and they would go over everything on Monday and assured me that they would be corrected.

I was pretty annoyed that no one from the shop OK'd everything before they painted, because once you paint you can't go around adjusting the fit on pieces like the hood because the paint will crack and you'll be repainting. I won't pretend that I know everything about cars, but when a untrained person can look at one side of the car and compare it to the other, the sides should match up. It's simple. 

After another weekend in the loaner I was pretty antsy on Monday to hear what the plan of attack was to fix the repairs. My progressive agent who works at the shop three days a week assured me that everything would be taken care of and I would have my car back Thursday, or Friday at the latest. My dad agreed to come look at the car with me when it's ready since it's always nice to have a extra set of eyes...and a check things over. Of course, things don't go as planned and here I am ready to start another weekend in a loaner car. I find it funny how the repairs of the repairs take LONGER than the original work done last week so hopefully this shop doesn't want a recommendation from me because I have nothing nice to say currently. 

Fingers crossed the car is done on Monday and looks perfect or else someone is probably going to loose her shit.

Thursday, January 9

Winter Ramblings

We are knee deep in winter and it's hard to find motivation for just about everything these days. By mid December I had decided that I was going to take a week off of the bike and just relax. Well, a week turned into three and now I'm finally back in it. Of course during my time off I had a week and a half of vacation time, Christmas, New Years, and a trip out of town with Erik for what I would classify as an eating vacation. Actually, it's safe to say the whole three weeks had been one big eat fest. Usually I am pretty good about moderation but by News Years I found myself a little uncomfortable with how things fit. Luckily once work started back up last week and I was back in my usual routine things quickly evened out.

The worst part is that my cycling fitness took a nose dive. I'm working my way back with 30 HARD minutes on the trainer every night this week and will bump it up every week until the season starts. The goal is to avoid burnout and mindless spinning so that I will actually want to get on my bike every evening. I've been working my way through one of my favorite shows,  The Gilmore Girls while I ride and it keeps me occupied enough to forget that my lungs are burning.

I'm looking forward to the upcoming race season and it will be nice not to have to be so nervous for races this year because I'm no longer clueless about everything. My first race was terrifying. The weeks leading up to it I had this fear that I would be a lot and that I would crash...or cry...or do something stupid. My first race was a circuit race and I remember pulling into the parking lot with Erik and declaring that I was ready to go home. All I saw were the riders in matching kits riding their uber fancy bikes on their trainers in the parking lot.

In my years of soccer the thing I hated most was warming up. Sure, it's important, but it was my least favorite activity. When I saw riders riding hard on their trainer I knew I was out of my league. Trainers belong indoors, in front of your TV, or at least that is what I thought. Who really wants to lug their trainer to a race? I have enough trouble moving mine in my own house, let along stuffing it in my car!

Erik finally convinced me that I needed to get out of the car and get checked in. I had my paper US cycling license in hand, since the official one had yet to arrive and I made my way to the front of the line. The person checking in the Cat 4 woman asked me my team name to which I must have gave one very confused look to since I had no idea cycling had teams...unless you were in the Tour De France. I signed the waiver and was given a bib and instructions on where to put it and made my way back to the car.

It was a chilly day so I was dressed in a pair of Under Armor fleece lined tights and a Under Armor long sleeve compression shirt with the only cycling jersey I owned (Kenda Tires). After a few laps around the course it was time for the race to start. The cat 4 men started 1 minute ahead of us and then we lined up. I lined up near the back, the only one without a teammate, and gave Erik a look like "OMG WTF AM I DOING!?" and then we were off. The first lap wasn't bad and I made my way up the front of the pack and stayed up there for a few laps...and then the leaders took off and I stayed with the main pact and then some people were dropped and I ended up alone. At one point I dropped my chain when I was shifting and had pulled off to the side of the road to try and fix it. It was jammed, but luckily the mechanic car pulled over and the mechanic was able to get me going again.

At that point I had lost any chance of any real placement but oddly I was having fun...I would climb up the hill near the finish smiling...just happy to be out on my bike and not completely sucking.

I actually ended up joining my team that day which turned out to be a really great move for the rest of the season. I learned that you don't have to be some super awesome amazing cyclist to join a team. A team in a way is like instant friends at races which is nice when you only know the person you came with. At my next race with my new team jersey people would come up and introduce themselves and it was really helpful and I could even ask them my stupid questions like "where does the bib go?" because it turns out this is actually important.

I'm excited for this upcoming season...I just need to get my butt in gear and back on my bike! My new bike is resting comfortably, off the trainer, but once the weather shapes up and the salt is cleared off the road I am sure it will be a blast to be out on the roads again!