However -- as most of you can personally attest to -- in the days that follow, it turns gray and icy and slushy and wet and treacherous. And, frankly, messy. Raleigh saw nearly six inches of snow last weekend (on my birthday, no less... so we didn't end up going to Boone, since the snow had the courtesy to come to us instead!), the aftereffects of which are still not entirely melted, and I'm discovering that snow has a way of destroying the inside of one's home as well as the outside. Boots, hats, and coats lying everywhere, towels on the floor to sop the slush off one's shoes, double the usual number of dirty coffee mugs and soup bowls, triple the amount of laundry... the list goes on. Plus, of course, the usual baseline clutter.
So, since Liz is in Tennessee this weekend visiting a friend, I've taken this opportunity to launch a full-scale attack on our tiny apartment during the hours I'm not working. Coats, hats, mittens, scarves, and boots have found their way back to the closet, four loads of laundry have been washed, dried, folded, and put away, and the dishwasher has done double duty. Sheets have been washed, our neglected dry-erase calendar has been updated from December to February, excess towels, blankets, and other household items have found their way into a (large) Goodwill box, and the general untidiness has been straightened up. I can never get this place looking exactly as I'd like it to, mostly because (a) we don't have money for nice, matching furniture, (b) we have practically NO closet space in this apartment (its only downfall), and (c) the overarching fact that we're squeezed into a meager 840 square feet of space. (Which is a rather misleading number, since it includes the spacious balcony, which shouldn't really count.) But I've made some satisfying progress. And, really, it's probably a good thing Liz is around most of the time, since if it were up to me, I'd probably give a good two-thirds of our possessions to Goodwill. My mother's lifelong battle against the catchall category of 'clutter' is definitely hereditary; my imaginary dream home bears a striking resemblance to the Apple Store. :)
Let's see, what else to talk about? Well, my birthday was fantastic; we went to Norma and Terry's house on Friday night before the snow hit and I practically made myself sick on her gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade tomato-basil bisque (to say nothing of the rich homemade multi-layer chocolate-cherry cake with espresso ganache... I'm drooling at the memory!). As a gift, they gave me -- don't laugh -- a top-of-the-line label maker, which is truly awesome. The joke was that I'd label anything that doesn't move, which is probably truer than I should admit. Liz was a little afraid to go to sleep that night for fear that I'd stick a label on her. :)
Anyway, the snow started to fall around 8pm, so we made our slow and cautious way home shortly after that, and woke up the next morning (my actual birthday) to a fluffy five-and-a-half-inch white blanket coating the ground. After a birthday breakfast of 'fancy' eggs (scrambled with cheese and green onions), bacon, waffles, and coffee, we bundled up and headed outside with sheets of cardboard to do some sledding. (Others had the same idea -- it was quite amusing to see all the NCSU students sliding with whatever they happened to have in their houses, be it a trash can lid or a Papa John's pizza box. I even heard a rumor about someone using the hood of a Land Rover!) After we came back in, I got my presents -- the DVD of Whip It (yay!), a Coolmax shirt for running, and a multilayer plastic box with various compartments for organizing my desk stuff. (Am I truly that OCD, people? Really? ...Yeah, I guess I am. :)) Then we spent the rest of the snow day watching movies and gorging ourselves on Norma's leftovers. :)
We were supposed to have a few people over for snacks and movies on Sunday, but that didn't happen because of the snow, so we just hung out at home and went sledding again. We have some hilarious iPhone videos from that day (including one of Liz hitting a tree, one of Liz hitting a bush, and one of Liz hitting a curb. Do we see a pattern here? :)) I also went shopping on Friday to use all those birthday coupons and came home with two new pairs of jeans (which, with Gap's vanity sizing, are a size six... nice ego-stroking there), a really neat Product RED T-shirt, a gray hoodie, and some perfume from Banana Republic. I was really trying to find some more 'professional' clothes, since I'm pretty well outfitted for 'casual' already, but nothing I tried on looked right. But I truly did need jeans, so I guess the trip can still be called a success. (Next shopping trip: bras. I'll spare you those details. :))
A few other quick points to bring you all up to speed on:
- I finished my taxes (a whopping $32 refund, yee-ha) and my FAFSA (keep those fingers crossed for a partial scholarship, though I won't find out for a long time yet).
- I'm getting to know some of my future classmates through Facebook, and the ones I've talked to all seem really nice. Privately, though, I'm a little surprised by how many of them list themselves as 'conservative'. Not necessarily dismayed, just surprised; I've become accustomed to university communities tending toward the liberal side of things. But then again, I'm also surprised by how many people are currently working in emergency medicine or in a lab (read: the overwhelming majority; I'm the only one so far who's in pediatrics), so I guess I'll just have to look forward to meeting everyone in person in August. We should definitely have a well-balanced class, at any rate, so I guess the program succeeded in their goals for their admission process.
- My marathon is in 15 days, and I'm a little nervous about it; I never did quite bounce back from that month that I spent being sick, and I'm starting to wonder if I don't maybe have some sort of mild post-viral syndrome going on, since my joints (hips and knees) have started to hurt after the first mile or two of every run. I feel fine when I'm doing daily activities, and even when doing weights, but as far as cardio goes, I just don't feel as strong as I did a couple months ago. I know I'll still finish the race, but my goal of breaking five hours may be out the window. I did work my way back up to a 15-mile long run (which was utter misery, but at least I did it), and am now in the taper (finally!). I've decided that the best thing to do is just to do the (easy) taper workouts as written in the program (maybe even a mile or two less than they say to do) and really concentrate on the other areas that will prove important for performance -- namely, my diet (not restricting calories, just really pushing the fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbs, etc.), as well as drinking lots of water, stretching every day, doing my best to get enough sleep, and being really consistent with taking my multivitamin, probiotics, vitamin D, and (especially) fish oil. I think that's all I can do at this late date. We'll see how things go.
Th-th-th-that's all, folks! For now, at least. :)