30 January 2011

It's About Time!

I know, I know, it's been like two weeks since I've posted. The school year has happened again, and I keep having to do that whole teaching thing. In order to appease you, here are some images to whet your whistle.

It has snowed a whole bunch here recently (and A FOOT OF SNOW is possible on Tuesday apparently), so here are some pictures of that:

The street outside the track where I've been running.

The parking lot outside of CHS has a spot in the middle where the snow gets plowed to, and I park directly next to it. Here was the view outside my driver's side window.

In terms of the atmosphere of the track itself, here are some highlights:

The play equipment I must run past once a lap in exhaustion while kids stare at me from the swings.

Also, there are ridiculous "road signs" up along the walls on the track, and I thought I'd post the three most ridiculous ones and let you guys decide which one most makes you roll your eyes! Vote in the comment section!

HA! Get it?! It's irony!!!!!!

Ba dum dum! *rimshot*


I've been doing a lot more cooking at home this year so far, and not only is it saving me money ultimately, but I feel a lot better about my food choices as a result. This is the pad of paper I use for my grocery list:

Mommy, wow! I'm a big kid now!

And, finally, I flipped past MSNBC the other day, and this was the actual text on the screen:

My response:

Bye, everyone!

12 January 2011

I'm So Fragrant!

I'm mailing my student loan consolidation form in today, and I eagerly await the point in my life where I have that payment automatically deducted from my monthly paycheck and, therefore, never have to worry about it ever again. Actually, I'd like each of my monthly bills to be automatically removed from my bank account and, therefore, automatically removed from my consciousness.

If things go as planned, I'll be saving something like $250 a month. That's ridiculous/awesome/actually affordable. I can make that work. Something I never thought I might have in my life is a monthly budget that actually works. That's reassuring and feels like silk sheets, but metaphorically not literally.

So, word on the street is that it snowed around here. Oh, you wonder why I'm not sure? That would be because this is the view from my apartment:

It's technically referred to as the "atrium," but I think I'm going to start calling it "The Grotto." Not entirely because I once found an opened condom wrapper directly under my window, but I also can't say that doesn't play at least a small role. It's not as dark in there as I sometimes tell myself it is, but I will not open my blinds more often because that means I can't walk around in my underwear. Listen, it's my apartment, I know, but still... I'd rather not.

This weekend featured two friends and I watching the single most horrifying film I've ever seen in my entire life, and if the screaming didn't make me drop some weight, perhaps the continuation of the Couch to 5k business has. Yesterday I started the second week of 5k training through the program, and it involved me jogging for 90 seconds then walking for two minutes. Like last week's start, it nearly killed me I think. I spent a significant amount of time checking my phone while thinking "how do I still have 75 seconds of jogging left?" but, by God, I got through it. I'm sincerely hoping tomorrow's workout is easier, like it was last week, and then Saturday morning I'm kicking ass and taking names.

Exacerbating my near death workout yesterday was the amount of track traffic. Well, gym traffic overall. I did my last workout last week on a treadmill because there were kids playing in the play area by the track in my building (sometime I'll take a picture of this so it makes more sense), but yesterday there were kids AND people on the treadmills in the gym. The snow has given everyone the idea to hang out at the track, apparently. Most annoyingly was, at one point, about seven teenagers in full winter coats were walking the opposite direction of everyone else while carrying big gulps. One of them said something to me, but I couldn't tell if it was a student I knew or just a random person, so I gave them the deuces fingers (much like that gentleman). They wouldn't leave the track, and it was at a point in my workout where, undoubtedly, I looked the most ridiculous. I hadn't showered, and I was totally rocking my Bondi Band. Here I am modeling my Bondi Band while looking like I'd like to hurt someone:

I don't know why I look so pissed, but I can tell you it's definitely not because of how much I love that Bondi Band. I received it from a friend as a Christmas gift, and they're sort of the best things ever because they absorb my sweat as I workout and hold my hair back. Does my hair look ridiculous sticking out of the back of that thing? Yep, but whatevs. I love it.

So yeah, those kids finally left, and my last lap or two was completely alone save for other actual exercisers, including three guys who appeared to be actual runners. I did it. And I took this picture as the closest thing I've been thus far to the snow:

In completely unrelated news, I went to the debacle some called a playoff game for the Chiefs on Sunday. Here's the thing though- it was really fun, the Chiefs weren't even supposed to make the playoffs this year, and the resulting ridiculousness of the trip made for a really memorable experience. During the first quarter the crowd made this happen:

It says "Go Chiefs" while simultaneously advertising for Hy-Vee. Where I'm going to go later for groceries. It must have worked! Happy trails, readers!

06 January 2011

I'm Catching Six Figure Checks In All Currencies: C25k Session #2

Somehow my apartment building has acquired a shopping cart:

A little bit of me would like to climb inside of it and be pushed around. That sounds really fun.

Okay, so this was day two of the Couch to 5k training, and, as several of you told me, it was honestly a little easier today. To be fair, I think my C25k app had a small malfunction and somehow let me skip a bout of jogging. I'm not sure I mentioned this previously, but the first three workouts are a 5 minute walk, 20 minutes of alternating 30 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking, and a 5 minute cool down walk. I pulled it off today and had slightly less of that fat kid side pain that, as I've now been told, is just an every-person side pain. Good to know :)

Also, the sunset was beautiful when I was training:

Others of you doing this with me- how's it going? I also haven't had pop in a few days (an accomplishment for me!), and I'm trying to sort of eat better (limited success at best).

04 January 2011

C25k day #1: Seering Fat Kid Side Pain

I got out of school much later than I anticipated today, so my first attempt at Couch to 5k was not as smooth as I thought it was going to be. I ended up taking a bunch of stuff home, so my dreams of walking up the stairs from my car to the gym had a detour at my apartment. I then donned the following:

Okay, not really. But it was a stretchy bandana type of thing with a similar pattern.

I started by downloading a Couch to 5k iphone app. It cost $3 and it marks the first time I've ever paid for an app. My thought, though, is that if I'm actually going to do this, a $3 investment isn't too much. The real joy is that it tells you what to do and when to do it. So no slaving over my phone's timer- the app does that for me. AND it lets you listen to your ipod playlists so, as one could imagine, I rocked some serious Robyn while I worked out.

At the beginning of it, I thought the sunlight coming into the track was pretty:

In retrospect it sort of is too.

You walk for the first five minutes, and then jog for 30 seconds. Your body instantly fools you into thinking, "Oh, that wasn't so bad." After the next round of jogging I got to the point where I was feeling it. Then by the third round I was getting the thing I think only fat kids get, but if I'm wrong I invite you to inform me otherwise. It's right where I imagine my kidney is, and I think all fat kids get the pain there when they exercise. It happened each time I jogged (or yogged, it might be a soft "j").

By the end of it, my body was in some really serious pain. More accurately, I think my body was pissed at me. It was like, "I'm sorry, what is this? What are you doing to me? Aw hell naw!"

I had scheduled the workouts (it requires three per week) for today, tomorrow, and Saturday, but the app recommended not doing the workout two days in a row, so I'll try it on Thursday. Hopefully this gets easier, but for now... this is painful and difficult. That's what it's worth doing, right?

03 January 2011

He's a big dumb animal, isn't he, folks? Part Deux!

I continued my recent run of dumbassery over the past several days. Exhibit A:

This was my glass mixing bowl. I had kept all of my mixing bowls (a few metal, two plastic, and this once glorious glass one) on the top of the cabinet above my kitchen sink. My apartment is tiny; I had to make room. I have lots of stuff in my apartment whose location I cannot explain. So in retrospect, it was not the smartest location to keep the bowl. But I had kept it there for well over a year without incident. Then, last Thursday, I put the bowl back on the cabinet. A few minutes later it committed suicide. I listened to this song and cried while cleaning the pieces. In fact, I'm still finding tiny shards of the bowl embedding themselves in my feet nearly a week later. Its memory will truly never die.

Then, last night, I displayed a truly inspired act of dumbassery.

Lu called me to see about going to see True Grit (which, by the way, was excellent). I agreed, and he, DTAB, and I met at 36th Street restaurant which is now in the downtown Holiday Inn, which proves that it will never move into the first floor of my building as was rumored when I moved in. Anyway, the dumbassery began in a small way. I ordered shrimp skewers, and the shrimp were a) overcooked but tasty and b) completely impossible to remove from the skewers without making me look like an alien who just learned about this new thing called eating. And, to boot, the waitress was cute and told Lu she was watching The State on Netflix. I had rice all over the table and my shirt. The removal of the shrimp required my hands- a fork and knife were uselessly cumbersome. Like me (anyone else remember thinking that song was really badass? Just me?). My hands were sticky, rice was everywhere, and I felt like a moron.

We went to the movie from downtown by taking St. Joe avenue up to Blackwell to get to the North Shoppes, and turning from Blackwell onto the Belt Highway, I somehow ran over the median. I think I was probably jamming too hard to this song (which was playing at the time of the incident). It was also dark, and I simply didn't see it.

I immediately thought I had somehow ripped off the entire front of my car. I heard a weird noise, and the car kept veering to the left. I somehow made it to the parking lot, and I surveyed the damage. Sure enough the front driver's side tire was completely flat- some minor miracle allowed me to get it into the parking lot I think. We decided to see the movie before we fixed it. Here's a photo of "us" fixing it:

See, what's actually happening here is Lu is changing me tire because I have absolutely no idea how. After watching it done a few times now, I think I have a decent grip on it, but I was incapable of helping Lu. I owe him seventy six cases of beer (or something) in thanks for his help.

The donut tire (I feel like I couldn't spell that doughnut... there isn't dough) was interesting, though. It is colored a beautiful shade of what I call "dumbass yellow" as evidenced here:

See, it's bright yellow so everyone can see I hit what some might call a blindingly obvious median on St. Joseph's busiest street. Yes, that color would transmit that story.

So these continued incidents of idiocy have inspired me.

I've spent my Christmas break getting some stuff for me done. I cleaned my apartment, and I think it's looking pretty good. As mentioned in my last entry, I got some of my financial stuff sorta settled. That's good. But, when I titled this blog, it was ultimately because, after getting my finances together, I wanted to work on my health. It was food related, as so many things in my life are. I don't really make New Year's resolutions, but I did tell myself last summer I wanted to start working on getting healthier. The goal I gave myself was to do this before my college roommate's wedding this June. I'm a groomsman in it, and it's the first time I've ever been in a wedding that wasn't for a family member. An honor, really. But I thought it was a good excuse to get myself in working shape for an event with a bunch of strangers and, literally, one person I know.

That hasn't really happened. If anything, I've gotten worse. I will admit that my job and several other personal issues had me, for lack of a better term, broken by the time November and December rolled around. I was eating poorly, I didn't like my job, I didn't like myself all that much really. Christmas break came at a really appropriate time for me this year, and it is my intention to come back this semester kicking ass and taking names.

Step one: Not letting things that are awful at work make me think everything about my job is awful. It's ridiculous. There are things about my job I love more than anything in the world, and for whatever reason last semester I really let that negativity get to me. I know I have a lot of challenges, and I know I have things I'm going to do about the things I don't like (Captain Vagueman anyone?), but I'm here in the moment now. I can't let misery dictate my day to day life. Also, I'm getting a student teacher this semester. That entry I posted before about enjoying the idea of influencing future teachers? I sort of get to do that. And, if anything, it will take much of the grading/work burden off of me for at least a little while in a couple of months. I sincerely hope this semester restores me creatively and professionally.

Step two: Get my closet and files organized. My closet, as it stands now, is about knee deep with a bunch of crap. I'd like to change that. I also have a two drawer file cabinet that is, quite literally, filled with papers. Some are filed in folders, but many aren't. I actually think several of them are just in need of shredding. I might buy a paper shredder. Are those cheap? Anyway, that's another thing that will make me feel better.

Step three: The biggie.

I'm going to enter the Central High School annual Spring Fling 5K, 10K, and 1/2 marathon.

I'm going to run a 5K in four months.

I'm also completely nuts.

So here's my thought process:
-If I want to get serious about getting healthier, I have to actually do something about it. I have thought I was getting serious in the past, but nothing has stuck. So I thought this would be a kickstart.
-I like the idea of an event to celebrate the success of finishing the goal. It gives a finality to my work, and ideally I can find some other running thing to do in the summer. Maybe one per season would be good.
-I'm looking at the Couch to 5K program as my training regimen. I've actually tried this before and failed. It was when I was in college when I lived just a few blocks from the track at Hickman High School. Here's why I hope this will be different: a) the track I'll use is actually CLOSER than that considering it is directly below me on the second floor of my building and b) the track is inside. No weather related issues!

So, the real question here becomes this:

Anyone want to join me? Anyone want to run this 5K with me? I know it's going to be hard, but I want to do this. I'll do it alone, but if you want to train with me and run the 5K with me, that'd be cool. Takers?

01 January 2011

He's a big dumb animal, isn't he, folks?

I'm going to post about my financial year and future, but before I have to post about my amazing idiot skills:

Last night I got home from a KC New Year's celebration at approximately 3am. At that point, I attempted to operate my brand new humidifier.

I'm in love with this humidifier, okay? It's the best purchase I've made in a long time. I woke up with a sore throat for so long I thought I was just going to learn to deal with it as one of those "I'm getting older" things, but then the humidifier changed that. My throat is still dry in the morning, but in a normal, non-painful way. I love you, humidifier.

Now, I'm not going to pretend I was at 100% brain capacity at 3am. It was New Year's- one might imagine what was happening with my brain. But I was in no way tripping over my couch or anything (that didn't happen until a complete 100% me went to make a bagel this morning). So I filled the little tank with water, like I think I've done before, and I turn on the fan. After falling asleep for about 15 minutes, I heard the fan gurgling. I looked down and, even in the dark, I could tell there was a large pool of water on the floor of my studio apartment. I turned the machine off and cleaned it up, but this morning when I woke up, there was another pool.

Then, after tripping over the couch to make a bagel this morning, I tripped on a chair leg and my bagel fell butter side down on the top of the couch. It's been an adventurous morning.

So money. Let's look at the highlights and lowlights of my money in 2010:

Highlight: Getting my car payment reduced.

That was fantastic. It was cut in half, saving me approximately $200 a month. More importantly, I got to keep my car! I was genuinely worried for a moment about that. Even to the point to where my dad and I went to a local Ford dealership to see about trading it in for something used and cheaper. So that was super awesome.

Lowlight: Student loan explosion.

This is still happening, but I'm getting a hold on it. Due to a ridiculously complicated series of events that my graduate school screwed up like mad, I had to start paying my loans in September of this year. The payments are over $500 a month. I was able to pay them initially, but as the year went on it became clear this was an unrealistic expectation of my monthly budget. So, in order to address the situation, I have completed a student loan consolidation form. One of my loans, I discovered, is not able to be consolidated, but its payment is only $77 a month. Not too bad. But this, if it goes through (and Lord knows I'm praying it does), would save me over $250 a month. That's huge! And I would still be able to put money back into savings. The only problem, and the true reason this is a lowlight, is that I'm behind on a few of them now because the payments were too high. What sucks about that, and what sucks about falling behind in general, is that I can't afford to catch up. This consolidation needs to happen soon. I'll keep you updated.

Highlight: My amazing financial success in going on vacation.

I have taught summer school the past several summers in order to finance a trip to New York City. I'm very blessed to have a friend to stay with in NYC, so that saves a huge amount of money each trip. The most expensive part is the flight. Other than that, I made a special effort this year to make the trip financially feasible. And I did it with tremendous success. I came home with way more money than I expected, and that was after going on a tiny little shopping spree at Macy's. It was a really memorable trip, as always. The afternoon Erika and I spent on the beach on Long Island was one of the best days of my life- ridiculously relaxing!

Lowlight/Highlight: The bankruptcy itself.

It was a difficult decision. It obviously will impact my credit and financial future for years to come, but considering the ins and outs of my situation, I still feel there was not another choice. So the negatives are clear- screwed up credit for the next ten years-ish. The positives, however, are being able to get my financial life together for the first time... ever, really, having a way out of my financial black hole, and (the biggest/best one) FREEDOM. The bankruptcy gave me much needed freedom. The weight that was lifted from my shoulders was tremendous. It was physical. I felt it. I still feel it.

As for 2011, I have a few money goals:

1) Have my student loans completely figured out. Hopefully this happens soon with the consolidation going through.

2) Not be behind on any bill. That, again, can be solved with #1 happening.

3) Continue adding to my savings. Thanks to my savings, I didn't have to use any of my monthly paycheck on Christmas gifts. I was able to pull from savings. Unfortunately that did deplete the savings account a bit, but I'm back on the war path to building that up.

So here's to 2011 being fantastic. Better than 2010. Way better than 2009. The best year I've had. The past two have really sort of blown- I'm due for a really good one. And I'd also like to thank you all- thanks to your generous ad clicking I got a payment last year that I put toward those awful student loans! Since then the money has been scant at best, but that one push was meaningful and much appreciated. You guys are the best. :)