Fitness vs. Fatness: Short Ribs and (Watching) the Marathon

Man…life has been hectic lately. Obviously, this has made me increasingly inconsistent with this blog. Actually, to be more accurate, things have been pretty unexciting (so that I have nothing to write about), punctuated by moments of craziness (so that I can’t gather my thoughts to write). This weekend was the pinnacle of the insanity.

Oh, right....

For some reason, long stretches of boredom are always juxtaposed with extremely concentrated mayhem. The past few weeks of relative monotony were suddenly ripped wide open during the latter half of last week and this weekend. Jenny was offered and accepted a job in New York City (congrats!), my dad came to Baltimore for a conference this weekend, Jenny ran the half-marathon in Baltimore on Saturday morning, and Maryland’s homecoming game against No. 8 Clemson was Saturday evening. As someone with a very hard time making decisions, this presented a number of quandaries. As usual, I tried to deal with this by planning to do absolutely everything. It was only as the weekend unraveled that practical sensibilities kicked in and I resolved to get a little taste of everything, if not snag every experience.

I did not.

After work on Friday, I showered up and met my dad in his hotel downtown. Jenny was taking the train into Inner Harbor, so I hung out in the lobby and chatted with him until she was approaching Baltimore, then hustled down to the station to meet her. We picked up her race packet for the marathon down in that area and then grabbed a bus up to my apartment. After a mad dash to get dressed and ready for dinner, we strolled around the corner to meet my dad and his 3 colleagues at the Brewers Art.

Now, the Brewers Art is a very popular little spot, known mainly for its wide selection of beers, including local micro-brews. As with any beer-centric restaurant, this means that businessmen and hipsters alike are drawn there in droves for their shared pretension. Still, I’ve only ever heard good things, its extremely close to my apartment, and the pictures I saw of the interior looked quite nice.

Right?

When Jenny and I first walked in to meet my dad at the bar, I was immediately sure that I had picked the wrong place for this type of dinner. The place was extremely loud and full of youngins, not the middle-aged business demographic that I was hoping for at 7:45 on a Friday.

!@#$

Already in too deep, we greeted everyone and went to the table. I breathed a major sigh of relief when we were escorted to the back of the restaurant, into the nice dining room, and the noise levels dropped precipitously. The sports coat demographic increased exponentially and I was put at ease. Now it was time to get down to business with their small but promising seasonal menu.

After some perusing of the menu, I decided to try a Resurrection Ale (supposedly a local favorite), the Chestnut bisque (not as pretentious as it sounds), and the Korean Short Rib (is anyone really surprised?). For dessert I had the bread pudding. To save you all some time, allow me to summarize my opinions on the meal.

  1. Ale- I’m not really into beer, but it was actually quite good. Had some floral notes or something…not as dark and gross as a lot of that stuff can be.
  2. Bisque- Good god, this stuff was awesome. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a chestnut, so I’m not sure if it tasted like them, but it was creamy and great.
  3. Short rib (with Kimchi and Lo Mein)- This was also astoundingly good. The rib was HUGE, marinated very nicely, and tender as hell. The lo mein was good and standard. The Kimchi was stylized but tasty.
  4. Bread Pudding- Like all bread puddings, this was really good; however, I was so unbelievably full at this point, that I couldn’t appreciate it 100%.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early, had some oatmeal, and walked down to the Inner Harbor to the starting line for the race. I watched Jenny start, snapped some pictures, and walked back to my apartment for a bit. I watched the marathon on TV for a few minutes, then walked over to meet her at the 12-mile mark. She arrived much quicker than anticipated (hooray!) and I jogged along next to her for the last mile to take some more pictures. By an act of god, we found each other in the finish line mayhem and strolled back to my place.

Thank god for the silver blanket.

After a quick freshening up, we drove to College Park for the homecoming tailgate. We went with our friends to campus, found a parking spot, ate up a storm, played some tailgate toss, and then moved their car back to the metro garage. Originally, we were going to drive back to Baltimore for a reception at the science center and another dinner. Unfortunately, we also had to contend with the option of going to the game or going back to Rockville. In the end, we settled on going back and relaxing a bit; we had gotten to at least dabble in everything we wanted to do, and it had been a seriously exhausting day. Of course, we also wanted to have one last day to chill in Jenny’s apartment before she moves out this weekend. Missions accomplished.

Epic Aventures: The Move

Last Friday started like any other day. I woke up. I opened my eyes. Then hell broke loose. Boxes started flying before my eyes, exhaustion clouded my conscious, and I was oppressed by heat. Let’s start from the beginning.

When I roused myself from my bed on Friday, I was surrounded by all of my possessions, stacked in little crooked piles of boxes all around me. The only signs of human life were the hastily made bed, which was now sitting on the floor, and a desk and bookshelf that were to difficult to take apart. Out in the living room, a few more pieces of furniture stood their ground as well.

I got up around 7:30, got dressed, and went downstairs to capitalize on my last free breakfast at the Onyx. I had about an hour until my dad was going to arrive, so I rearranged everything in a way that I thought might make moving out move efficient, and twiddled my thumbs until he arrived.

In all honesty, the Onyx was the best place I’ve ever had to move in/out of. They have a loading dock to park a van, a freight elevator that you can reserve, and carts for ferrying your crap. When my dad arrived, we began shuttling down the largest, most obtrusive objects first. My main fear, that my stuff wouldn’t fit, was assuaged after a brief glance at the van’s mammoth interior proportions.  Although it may not look it, a Dodge Sprinter has way more space than a regular sized U-haul truck.

Dodge this, bitch.

Thanks to my old apartment’s many helpful characteristics, my dad and I were able to fully load the van by ourselves in under an hour. I quickly cleaned up after myself at the apartment, taking a few last pictures of its deserted rooms, left a note for my roommate with my keys, and headed to Ikea.

Ever since going to College Park, I’ve been a bit of an Ikea addict after every move. It was always so close that I would take 5+ trips over the first week or two, picking up the plethora of things that I never knew I didn’t have. With Ikea a bit farther this time, and without a car at the moment, I will unfortunately be unable to carry on with the tradition. Still, I made the quick stop on the way to Baltimore to grab a rug and shower curtain liners. And a 50 cent hot dog.

Once in Baltimore, I did a walkthrough, signed my lease, and prepared for the worst 2 hours of my life. Where should I begin?

It was approximately 104 last Friday and my new place doesn’t have AC. I also seemed to have forgotten just how steep and narrow the staircases are in old city buildings. Furthermore, there was no street parking in front of my apartment, so we had to illegally park at a bust stop up the block. If it had not been for my 5 coworkers that showed up to save the day, I would probably be either:

  1. Still moving
  2. Dead by my own hand

As soon as the van’s doors opened, some of my coworkers began shuttling my stuff to the stoop in front of my place. My dad stayed with the van to keep an eye on things (a Baltimore bus stop is an uncomfortable place to leave all of your possessions sitting). A few other coworkers and I began the frantic and demolishingly tiring task of carrying things up to the 3rd floor. I generally don’t sweat very much, but every one of us was drenched. It was beyond pit stain territory. It was neck stains down to the belt line.

I DIDN'T SIGN UP FOR THIS.

I consider myself to be in quite good shape. I don’t always work out as much as I should, but I’m always confident in my ability to run a decent distance at a decent pace, so believe me when I tell you how exhausting it was to run up and down those steps so many times. Having 10+ foot ceilings is cool. Walking up steps that traverse 3 floors of 10+ foot ceilings is not.

Notice the subtetly in which my coworker's eyes say "!@$# you Chris".

Once everything was safely inside, I bought everyone a bunch of Gatorade’s, my dad took off, and a few of us set to reassembling my bookcase/tv stand. As functional as that thing is, it is horrendous to assemble. There’s not a trace of structural support until it’s 100% assembled, so you have to try to balance and keep everything straight the whole time you put it together. One slip and it collapses. Again, thank god my coworkers were there to help, because I was about to lose it. With that reassembled, everyone left and I began unpacking. Jenny came by later and began doing some unpacking as well. We spent most of the weekend either eating, buying random stuff for the apartment, or unpacking.

Here's my bank statement Target. How much can I get with that?

With the move complete, I’m glad to say that I really like my new place. I just want to forget about ever having to move again.

Musings: It’s the Final Countdown

The trick is up. The shows over. It’s time to move.

Last night, Jenny and I went out to Serendipity in Georgetown for her birthday (frozen hot chocolate is AMAZING) and then came back to Navy Yard to eat cake with my roommate and his girlfriend on the roof.

It was a very weird experience. All four of us have rapidly changing lives at the moment, which is made all the more apparent every time I walk into my apartment and am greeted with stacks of boxes instead of dinner on the stove and Seinfeld on the TV. Sitting on the roof, like we haven’t done since the early days in the that apartment, was surreal. It was the second time in the past week that I’ve sat there with some of my closest friends, looking out at DC and saying goodbye (to the city, not the friends, dummies). The good news is that I’ll be saying ‘Hello” to a bunch of new things very soon.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be rising bright and early to load up my dad’s van with all of my stuff. The amount of crap that I own has expanded significantly this year, so we’ll be playing an impromptu game of Tetris with my stuff in an effort to make it all fit.

In a classic example of the “Why me?” scenarios that sometimes define my life, tomorrow is supposed to mark the return of 100+ degree weather, and old apartments don’t have central air. Such is life. Without a car in Baltimore, it’s going to be an interesting scramble to acquire an AC unit, some rugs, and the other random odds and ends that you never knew you didn’t have…which reminds me, I need to find a microwave.

In preparing for this move, I’ve noticed an emotional trend that arises when it comes time for my annual moves. It goes like this:

4 months in advance – ‘Ahhhhh, why is my rent going up/the school year ending/graduation happening. I don’t want to move’

3 months in advance – ‘You know, I should probably look for a new apartment. Nahhh, I’ve got time’

2 months in advance – ‘WHY ARE ALL THE GOOD PLACES GONE. STRESS STRESS STRESS’, followed by finding the first available place and settling for it.

1 month in advance – ‘This move is going to suck, but I’m pretty excited for all of the positive changes’

3 weeks in advance – ‘I wonder when a good time to pack is. Not now!’

2 weeks in advance – ‘Actually I own a lot of stuff. I should start packing now’

1 week in advance – ‘What do you mean 10 boxes wasn’t enough?’

6 days – ‘I should pack some more things. But not the TV, I need that. Or the video games. Or the computer. Or the clothes. Or the shoes. Or…..’

5 days – ‘WHAT AM I DOING I NEED TO PACK ALL OF THAT STUFF’

4 days – ‘I don’t want to leave’

3 days – ‘I reallllllly don’t want to leave’

2 days – ‘I HAVE TO TAKE PICTURES OF ALL THE WALLS TO REMEMBER THIS PLACE BY’

1 days – ‘Maybe if I just go to sleep, I’ll wake up and either have a renewed lease or find all my stuff already moved for me’

Moving day – ‘FML’

Day after – It’s not even worth saying anything, because no one will hear you from behind a 10 foot wall of boxes.

That is all. Wish me luck!

 

Fitness vs. Fatness: Nostalgia Runs

Goodbye, friend.

In previous FvF posts, I’ve discussed the various tricks, shim shams, and underhanded ploys that I use to force myself to workout when I’m not feeling it. Yesterday, I used an old favorite to break out of my recent slump; 100 degree weather is good for very little, least of which is running.

With my move rapidly (like 2-days-rapidly) approaching, I decided to pull out the good ol’ “nostalgia run”. In this particular ploy, you reminisce on all the pleasant runs you’ve taken on a given route in the past. You then remind yourself that you hardly have any chances left to run an old favorite, so you have to go immediately, before it’s too late. After all, the human brain is too stupid to remember how painful those runs may have been. It only recalls your former glory.

The nostalgia run is a powerful motivator for me; possibly the most effective of them all. It’s the one I use frequently when I go back to NJ for a weekend or occasionally when I visit College Park. It’s also the one that makes the run the least painful. With the mind intent on taking in every detail, there’s hardly any time to experience the pain.

Yesterday’s nostalgia run was done over my classic route from Navy Yard to the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and back. My legs did take a bit of a beating (the blazing sun really takes a lot out of them), but all things considered, it was a nice farewell to my faithful path. With all of my groceries and dishes packed, I settled for drinking a protein shake for dinner while we scrubbed away at the kitchen surfaces and rolled up rugs.

My apartment has reached critical mass at this point. The amount of boxes stacked all over have rendered further cleaning a near impossibility at the moment. I’m stuck playing the waiting game now and praying that all of my crap fits in my dad’s van; if we have to make two trips, I’m out of the will.

Stuff that I Like: Not Moving/Moving

Make the bed, sweep the floor, shake the carpet and spray. Put my shit in a pile, on the top slap a post-it. – Bomb the Music Industry

Yeah yeah, one more California post. Not today though, my friends. My mind is too ruined. My upcoming move is nearly upon me and it’s taking a toll.

Moving is one of those incredibly taxing, seriously confusing times in life. On the one hand, it’s a major pain in the ass. You’ve got to box up all of your possessions. You have to come to terms with the amount of crap you’ve managed to amass. It’s the time when you have to shamefully admit to being a packrat, but still end up not throwing anything out.

'WHAT'D YOU CALL ME'

On the other hand, it’s super exciting. My coworker mentioned a few months back that while it’s very hard to make more money, it’s much easier to save money by moving somewhere cheaper. After all, for every hundred you save on rent each month, it’s the equivalent of a $1,200 raise.

As excited as I am about saving a bunch of extra money, I think what he said has a broader meaning beyond the cash. While we often have limited choices in what jobs are available to us, we have comparatively massive control over where we decide to move. Essentially, moving is our best chance to redefine our life on a yearly basis.

Big changes are in store, by my own hand. Come this weekend, I’ll be living alone. I’ll be in an entirely new city. I won’t have a car for a while. I’ll be down the street from work. My paychecks will be up and my commute will be down. It’s all very exciting, but very different.

I’ve become used to having another human being around when I get home from work, even if I do possess a temperament more befitting of someone who lives alone. I’m certainly used to having my car tucked safely in a garage under the building, with all of the DMV quickly accessible by 395, 295, and the GW parkway. Sadly, I’m also used to spending 3 hours commuting and having 3/4 of my monthly salary already committed to rent, utilities, and other mandatory expenses. That bit is admittedly not great, but it’s become part of my life over the past year. Sometimes you just crave the comfort of having a home for more than 1 year over the excitement of moving. Thankfully, the necessity of my predicament forced me into a position where I’ve had to cope, so excitement has (for the most part) taken hold.

After spending the whole of Sunday and about 6 hours of yesterday packing, I’m almost done. I’m at the awkward stage now where I really want to just throw everything else in a box, but I sadly need a computer, clothing, and bathroom supplies for the next few days. For now, I’ll just have to content myself to clean and trip over boxes of crap until Friday morning.

Baltimore, here I come.

Musings: Nomadic Lifestyles

At the moment, a maximum of 4 people actually read this thing. One of those people is me. Of course, it isn’t fair for me to just expect people to come running to read my blog, so I started to read some other blogs as well, including the blog of 25% of my readership. It was here that I read a post that got my mind running a bit. It discussed her impending return to New Jersey and the fact that however badly she had wanted to go back, it’s still a little panic inducing.

I know this feeling well. As we all know, I feel like a part of my soul dies every day that I’m not in the Garden State. It’s like the combination of Jersey’s sea breezes and industrial waste have formed some sort of drug-like compound that I was born addicted to. Going cold turkey for 5 years has not been easy.

So if I miss New Jersey so much, why don’t I just pack my bags and go? There are two reasons. One is that I need to keep my job for a little while longer before I bail for whatever is next. The second is that I don’t really know where to go if I go back. As much as I would like to cruise back into my hometown, where everything is familiar, I know it would never make me happy. Not in the long term at least.

There are few things I enjoy more than laying around my house in NJ on random weekends or going to my favorite beaches, but no matter how much I hate it, that’s really not my home anymore. It was my home, but now it’s just my parents’ house. I brought my bed with me to my apartment, so I sleep on the floor in my room in NJ and I know that I’ll probably never move a bed back in. Even if I did, would that be what I want? As long as my bosses permit it, I will always go back for a few weeks at Christmas and for some time in the summers, but beyond that wouldn’t be for the best.

I’ve felt like a nomad for a while now; a man without a state. I really enjoyed College Park, but that was a fixed, 4-year deal. It’s still fun to visit (I did yesterday), but it’s really an accelerated metaphor to what our hometowns become. The places are all the same, but none of the people who made it memorable are still around. If any of them still are, it’s sort of sad. They just don’t look like they fit anymore. (Edit: While on the topic of how weird it is to go to the same place and see how nothing has changed except the people, check out this website. It’s awesome.)

I moved to DC after CP, which has been an exciting experience. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the city and I’m pretty bummed about leaving it. It’s hard to just pick up and move on when you’ve only just started to find things you really enjoy somewhere. Still, no amount of appreciation will ever change the fact that it’s not really for me.

Yeah, a little too refined for my tastes.

At the same time, I’m excited about moving to Baltimore. It’s something new and it will demolish my commute; however, it’s hard to get too stoked about discovering a new city when I’m positive I’ll only be there for one year.  I’ve seen enough from coming here on a daily basis to figure out that it’s cool and a little more like Jersey than DC, but still not 100% what I’m looking for. So where to next? At this point, I haven’t got the slightest clue.

Also, this guy drank himself to death to GTFO of Baltimore, so it can't be too great.


The good news is, for the moment at least, I feel like I’m on one of those really long, fun, late night drives with friends where you’re exhausted, but don’t want to get home just yet. In my mind, I’ve already got the destination picked out; I want to settle in Jersey one day, probably in a town similar to where I grew up, but just different enough to make my own life there. I’m just not ready to finish driving yet.

Now it’s time for my shameless Jersey plug (Although this whole blog is starting to seem like one). One of the many great things about Jersey is that it has so much to offer. No two towns are exactly the same. From the farmland to the beaches to the full blown cityscapes, you can always find something unique in the Garden State. I’m not sure if I’ll move back immediately after Baltimore or if I’ll keep peddling cities for a while before I make my triumphant return, but it’s nice to know that my options will never be limited back in Jersey. Part of what excites me so much about getting back there eventually is that I’ll have a chance to live in some of the awesome places that I only briefly encountered while growing up there. Even if I move back well before deciding on a place to settle for good, there will always be more than enough places to try out.

Although the whole moving thing is a major pain in the ass, it’s also extremely exciting. It’s a good kick out the door; a little thrust to keep you from settling into a comfortable but underwhelming life. I would much rather move on a yearly basis, with a little bit of fear for the unknown constantly sitting in the back of my head, than waking up one day at 40 and feeling like I missed out. Life’s supposed to be an adventure and I’d hate to miss out.