Archive | February, 2011

Zumba Almost Killed Me.

28 Feb

If you were hoping for a dramatic post, navigate away now.  Oh, wait!  Please don’t leave!  I like your company!

Now, where was I?  If I seem scattered, it’s because this is a weary post that has absolutely no direction (Like me most of the time.)  Yesterday marked the fourth week of my effort to become more scheduled, productive, and lose some weight.  Every morning during the week I do an hour of vinyasa yoga followed by a relatively healthy breakfast.  My cat Eli likes to help me do both.  With his mouth.  Ouch.  Then I walk to Grinnell College campus for a swim.  Swimming a mile (1,650 yards) is harder than you’d think especially when you’re overweight like I am and you have to share a pool with those little sea otters on the men’s swim team.  One of the great things about living in a college town and having a partner who is affiliated with that college is I have access to the fitness center and all the fitness classes offered to faculty/staff for free.  Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays there is yoga, and I have recently been roped into a lunch hour Zumba class on Mondays.  The first class was a blast.  There were about ten older ladies there, and then a handful of “Young people” as we were called.  Relatively easy even for someone like me who is co-ordination challenged, I didn’t sweat much but was surprised to find later that evening that I was pretty sore.  Last week we had off, so I did my usual swim and yoga routine.  This weekend I had bitter debates with myself (Eric was at a conference and I didn’t have a lot else to do in the evenings) deciding whether or not I should do my swim before Zumba class or skip it for the day.  Four days out of the week is plenty, right?  Well, I apparently didn’t think so.

I took the plunge at 11am like I always do, swimming my mile in 50 minutes.  I headed to Zumba feeling like a champ.  The old ladies weren’t there.  Our enthusiastic instructor decided to pick up the pace.  I sweat so much I thought my freshly dyed hair would start to dribble down my neck.  Don’t get me wrong.  I had a good time.  I just started to feel like I was in that horrible Olivia Newton-John music video “Physical”.  The walk home was a bear.  When I got home I thought to myself, God, now I have to write a POST?!?

But I’m trying to be good, so here it is.  A rambling tired post.  I hope at least parts of it made you crack a smile.  I’m trying.  I think I’ll go sit in my chair for a while though. 

Garden Fresh All Year

27 Feb

Sprouts

These are my humble beginnings as a container tomato gardener.  Started in the icy January of 2008, these fragile shoots would be my companions on a journey I didn’t think I had in me.

I have self-diagnosed seasonal affective disorder, which basically means I get sad in the winter due to a lack of life-giving sunshine.  I pretend I’m a lizard in the winter and bask under an LED light which supplies vitamin D.  It works pretty well, but during the winter of ’07/’08, I felt like I needed a little bit of extra feel-goods.  I had just returned from a stint in sunny Northwest Las Vegas where I completed my student teaching.  If you’ve lived in the Midwest, you know any good winter here can make you crash pretty hard, especially if you are coming down from a Southwest sun high.  To add to my distress, I was having trouble finding work and my partner in crime was still in school.  A quick trip to our friendly local library provided me with some extra tips to combat seasonal depression.  Grow something!  What a novel idea!

But, we lived in an apartment without any window ledges and I believe the windows were North facing.  So I poked around some more.  I don’t recall exactly why I hit on tomatoes, but I know I love them and they remind me of those warm summer days.  A few trips to ACE hardware and Theisen’s and I was set up.  A handful of plastic pots, bags of potting soil, and a few metal lamp hoods equipped with florescent bulbs were all I had that first year.  I ordered a handful of seed packets from Tomato Grower’s Supply Company after they sold me with their bright and informative catalog.

After that, I joined the ranks of the container gardening community.  We moved into the back apartment in our building which had an outdoor landing so I was able to set my tomato plants outside in their pots.  That first year not only provided us with a handful of colorful and oddly shaped tomatoes, but it armed me with a new zest for life:  I was good at gardening.  I had never gardened before, and I had raised six heirloom tomato plants from seed with only the help of the internet and some light bulbs.  I was so proud.  My mother, who had always seemed like the queen gardener to me was shocked that I had grown tomatoes, something she has never tried to grow.

Plant Room

Our two year old, Eli, resting in last year's "Plant Room"

This love of gardening has since blossomed into a huge part of my life.  It is one of my chief hobbies.  Since that first winter I have experimented with dozens of different types of heirloom tomatoes and have branched out into growing other vegetables.  Two summers ago marked the first year we had our own outdoor garden to transplant into, and seven of my homegrown tomato plants made the move to Minnesota with us.  Last summer we had an even larger plot.  In a 20×40 foot plot I grew sweet peas, pole beans, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic, mustard greens, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, basil, dill, radishes, crookneck squash, cucumbers and melons.  But my favorite part of the garden was my tomato forest.  On one half of the plot I crammed 40 tomato plants, (Some grown from seed, others picked up compulsively at markets and nurseries) 10 eggplants, probably 25 pepper plants, and one corner was totally dominated by a gigantic tomatillo bush.  To top off this awesome achievement of the green-thumb variety, my grandma taught me how to can my bounty.  So now I am an avid fan of grow-your-own-so-you-can-enjoy-garden-fresh-all-year.

This year, back in Iowa, I have a considerably smaller space to work with, but despite this, I have started 11 new types of tomatoes and 3 types of peppers.  My admiration for growers and small farms has only increased over the years and I have been actively attempting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.  For now, I will continue to plan and nurture my future garden while the simple act of growing itself nurtures me and helps me to be happy, and healthy, and myself.

Check out my garden’s progress on my page: Watch Me Grow

I am not an Anomaly.

26 Feb

Up until about a month ago, I found myself in the same place doing the same thing every day.  My partner and I moved back to Iowa five months ago to follow a job opportunity for him which allowed me to escape from a bad situation in the corporate work world.  I had been working multiple unfulfiling hourly jobs since I graduated from the University of Iowa.  The only period I actually used the Elementary Education degree I had been so confident would give me a practical boost into the career world I was subbing and working part-time retail.  So when a salaried position came up for my partner, we jumped at the chance.

At first I was content telling friends and family, “I’m just hanging out, taking things easy.”  when the requisite question about my doings arose.  I felt like I deserved a break from working just to work, and tried to devote my time to my creative muses.  After a few months of this the novelty wore off.  I found myself night after night sitting in the same spot, staring at my computer screen.  My muses had turned into red wine and South Park, and what was I reading on my computer screen?  Oh no, not another piece of Fan Fic…  Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are wonderful, but I found myself wondering just what in the world I was doing.

I asked myself a lot of questions on those nights.  Why am I not still teaching?  What am I supposed to be doing?  What do people think of me?  Why do I want to eat macaroni and cheese that looks like it’s gone nuclear?  Why does my chair keep getting smaller?

But the most pressing question of all seemed to return over and over.  What do I want to be doing?

I had joined the shockingly large mass of twenty-something college graduates who had no idea what they were going to do with themselves.  Most of us (myself at least) have been led to believe there is a certain order of things to life.

A) Graduate from High School

B) Attend college (partying and carrying on is fun, but optional)

C) Graduate from college into your chosen career path

A+B=C, right?  That’s what all my math courses ever taught me was true.  So why was I having trouble getting to point C?  I had done a few things in the interem; I got married.  I somehow ended up with two cats who are, if not ideal, at least somewhat acceptably pleasant.  We are living comfortably in a sweet little house in a town both of us appreciate.  I had been raised being told I could do and be whoever I wanted to be.  So what in the world was I doing night after night sitting in an ever shrinking red chair wondering what the hell was in store for me tomorrow?  It didn’t come to me in an epic flash, but I slowly realized that I was waiting for something to happen, but I didn’t know what direction I even wanted to take my life.

Here I was, I had an opportunity to slow way down, really take a good look around and make an important decision about who I am.  I realized that when I chose my major in college, I had no idea I was interested in the things that really give me satisfaction now.  My major was something practical and safe.  Something I thought would guarantee me a stable income and I could probably enjoy it enough to stick with it.

Three weeks ago I decided it was more important for me to feel comfortable with my identity, and invest some serious time in the things I really enjoy, than spending eight hours a day working only to come home and worry about work.  Having been trained as an educator, I find it difficult, but I choose not to follow the neat ABC’s of life.  Instead, I will follow my own winding path.  It’s true that A+B=C, but I’m looking for something much bigger.  After all, the whole world is greater than one letter.

I’m posting every week (at least) in 2011!

24 Feb

As a brand noob to blogging, I’m taking up the challenge and posting every week for 2011.  This is just the thing I started a blog for in the first place, so here I go!

If you choose to follow me, I always welcome comments not only on the content of my posts, but also on my writing skills themselves, although I will already tell you that spelling is not my strong suit!

I look forward to this challenge and seeing how my fellow bloggers step up as well, so see you in cyberspace 🙂

Blog; Friend or Foe?

24 Feb

So this is what it comes to:  Fawn enters the Blogging community.

I have been struggling with my writing craft for probably about a year.  Since I was young I wanted to write, and it came easily to me.  I was involved in workshops, I journaled daily, I even wrote on scraps of paper at work.  I would stay up into the wee hours of the morning, eyes straining at the computer screen putting my finishing touches on writing projects for school, stories for friends and anything written for my own amusement.

Then I went to college.  I thought I wanted to go into journalism.  Hey, why not make my hobby into a career?  I can hang out with interesting people and write all day long.  Perfect, right?  NOT.  My first and only journalism course was an eye-opener.  It might seem like a cop-out, but it all amounted to way too much unappealing work.  Especially since I would undoubtedly be producing writing for an editor’s agenda when all I really wanted to do was write for myself.

I knew in my heart I was not competitive enough to become a “professional writer” plus, I found it ridiculous when I learned that a Creative Writing degree is almost certainly required to aid the success of any budding author.  I was going to college to get a degree to help me begin a career in something.  The muddy beginnings of starving artist-hood seemed impractical for all the love I have in my soul for the craft.  So I continued on, in relative obscurity, to write for my own amusement and fulfilment.

I seem to have hit some sort of creative brick wall.  Ironically enough, I am totally satisfied with my current situation (more to come on that subject later, I am sure) drifting along on my husband’s life path, trying to rediscover my own along the way.  Rereading some of my earlier pieces, my dilemma has become clear.  My best work usually comes out of the worst times in my life; the angst of being a teenager, my parents divorce, losing friends to drugs and alcohol, et. cetera.  Since I (understandably I hope) never want to go back to those times, I have been struggling to find some sort of interesting subject matter to write about that isn’t just another piece of fan-fiction.

By now, if you are still reading that is, you’re probably wondering what the hell my point is, so here it is.  I never cared much for blogs.  I used to see them as forums for lonely people to air their grievances, and toot their own horns.  I guess I still see them as such, but I now realize it can be a very good thing.  My journal is great, but it doesn’t put enough pressure on me to sit down and write every day like it used to.  I need to evolve with the world, and this is the place to do it.  So here we go, Blog.  We can be best friends, or worst enemies, but you can count on one thing; Unless I somehow drown during my daily swim, I will be visiting you every day.  And as boring as some aspects of my life are, I am going to try to use them to cobble together some sort of creative master-piece.  Like it or lump it; I’m here to stay.