My First CrossFit Experience

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A new CrossFit box recently opened in Yreka, and my friend Jayne talked me into going with her  Saturday morning. Full disclosure: I avoided CrossFit for a long time because I was pretty afraid of dying/puking/somebody telling me I should stop eating cheese because CAVEMEN. (Calm down, Paleo fans: I’m sure your body is better than mine and you will outlive me by decades. I still choose Brie.)

The good news: I had a ton of fun, and nobody diet-shamed me. The bad news: I’m afraid to go back because I haven’t been able to lift my arms above waist level since Saturday. Seriously, I had to ask Dave to put my pajamas on me like a damn toddler on Saturday night.

Me, every time I move.

Me, every time I move.

I am happy to report that I’m already seeing some positive changes in my health. For example, I thought about drinking a beer Saturday night, but decided it wouldn’t be worth the effort to lift the bottle to my mouth. Maybe this is CrossFit’s secret to success: tiring the arm muscles to the point where they’re physically incapable of lifting anything heavier than a kale leaf.

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Hey Ryan, you can start with my triceps.

All joking aside: I can’t wait to go back. I had no idea my upper body was so weak, and I’m determined to do something about it. I also wouldn’t be mad if my butt was a little more Beyonce and a little less Roseanne Barr. I know it can be a good thing to work through sore muscles, but at this point I feel like it might not be wise to lift heavy stuff when the act of fastening my bra feels like summiting Everest. Any CrossFit experts reading? Please advise in the comments.

Spirit Animals

Confession: The other afternoon I rage-tailgated (rage-gated?) a student driver for like three miles because she pulled out right in front of me on a country highway and almost killed us both. It was like slow motion: she turned into my lane off of a dirt road without even pausing to check traffic, and I was simultaneously scared for my life and slightly amused by the fact that the last thing I was going to see before dying was a middle-aged driving instructor doing this:

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SPOILER ALERT, we all lived, but I was really bothered by the fact that the last thing I ate before my near-death experience was a kale salad. I can’t even remember the last time I ate a bagel. I can’t have those kinds of regrets hanging over my head when my time actually comes, you know? So I made myself a motivational poster to remind me of what’s important in life.

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On the other hand, I would have zero regrets if I spent my last 10 minutes on Earth Photoshopping a soft glow around a chicken nugget hovering over an ocean sunset.

I promise I’ll stop talking about this soon, but here’s what I don’t get: Don’t those driver’s training cars have special passenger-side brakes for the instructors to use when the dumbass child behind the wheel tries to kill you? Why was that dude freaking out like a little girl instead of pressing the damn brake? Although … if my  job was to ride around in cars with 15-year-olds, I’d welcome the opportunity to be broadsided at 65 MPH with open arms. Maybe his foot was hovering over the brake when she was like, “OMG this Bieber song is ON FLEEK” and he was all, this is it. This is all I can take.

Maybe this guy is actually my spirit animal.

Speaking of spirit animals, my friend Sarah introduced me to Matt Bellassai yesterday. Not in real life, which is probably a good thing because sometimes when I get really nervous the mechanism that allows me to swallow stops working and I stand there looking like I’m choking on air for like 30 seconds. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve managed to make actual human friends when my social aptitude is on par with the lady who feeds the feral cats in the creek bed behind Walmart.

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Anyway, Sarah tagged me in the comments on one of his Facebook posts yesterday. I then spent hours watching all of his drunken rants while doing that silent laugh where you shake really hard but can’t catch your breath enough to make noise. If you don’t mind colorful language and the soul crushing feeling that nothing you say will ever be as funny as what comes out of somebody else’s mouth, you really need to watch his Whine About It videos. Start with this one. And then when you’re depressed because you’ve watched them all, you can read his blog.

Our Good News

I vaguegrammed recently about celebrating some exciting news, and now that everything is officially in place I can tell you what happened: last Thursday, in the span of about two hours, Dave received a big promotion and I was offered an awesome new job. Fists were pumped, celebratory cupcakes were eaten, and there was much AC Slater-style rejoicing.

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You may be wondering why I’m starting a new job when I just changed jobs less than a year ago. Last November, I applied for a job as a social marketer for a behavioral health program out on a local Indian reservation. It turned out that they already had somebody in mind for the marketing role, and so they asked me to become the program director instead. I decided to take a healthy risk and accept the position, and I’ve spent the last eight months learning about program outcomes and evidence-based practices and reducing mental health disparities. All awesome things if the mental health field is your passion. And I discovered that for me, it’s not.

That’s not to say I hated my job. I really enjoyed the youth and families I was working with. I loved my boss. I had lots of fun with my coworkers. I learned so much about Native American communities and the injustice that tribes have suffered at the hands of many generations of Americans. But I didn’t wake up in the morning excited to go to work. The days would go by so slowly, except on the rare occasion that I’d get to design a brochure or build a newspaper ad. Those days would fly by, and then I’d spend the drive home berating myself for taking my career in a different direction and wondering why I was such a giant idiot.

Overreacting. It’s what I do.

But then! A friend dropped my name in a conversation, which set off a sequence of events that culminated in a crazy awesome job offer. I won’t give too many specifics (Internet Boundaries!) but I will say this: I’ll get to design and write and be creative every day.  My 35-40 minute daily commute will be reduced to barely five minutes. I’ll be making more money. I know and like the people I’ll be working with. I’m even hoping I’ll have more time to blog!

I made myself a to-do list since it's been so long since I've blogged.

I made myself a to-do list since it’s been so long since I’ve blogged.

And as for Dave: He’s been named managing editor of the paper where he’s been a reporter the last several years. I think he’s as excited as I am, except instead of going on a celebratory shopping spree and writing a sappy blog post, he bought himself a bottle of 14-year Knappogue Castle Irish whiskey.

So that’s our awesome news. 2015 is shaping up to be kind of great so far.

Pacific Northwest Craft Beers to Try This Summer

IMG_5195On Saturday night, we decided to head out to the Southern Oregon Craft Brew Festival in downtown Medford. We split our time about 50/50 between enjoying delicious brews and laughing at try-hard hipster outfits. Speaking of which, are sweatshorts a thing now? And I’m not talking about the athleisure trend, I’m talking about $5 Walmart sweatpants cut off at the knee. I saw at least three guys wearing them last night paired with chucks, and I don’t really know how to react to that. I’m currently stuck somewhere between “ew” and “but I do love sweatpants.” It was kind of like this:

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Source, in case you want to buy some for your man.

Anyway, enough about hipster clothing. I’m really writing this post to tell you about my favorite brews from the night so that you can try them out this summer. Before we start, I feel like I should warn you: if you’re looking for a serious beer review containing phrases like “mouth feel” and “intricate lacing,” this won’t be that. This is more, “what I’ll be drinking this summer while watching Netflix in my underwear in front of a box fan.”

Ninkasi Brewing Company, Dawn of the Red

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Everyone in Northern California seems to be raving about the Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing Company right now … and now I can see why. Their Dawn of the Red India Red Ale was easily my favorite from the entire night. I like me a super hoppy IPA, but even if you don’t typically like IPAs/IRAs you should still give it a try. It’s got a slightly fruity flavor (the label says it’s brewed with mangoes, papaya, and pineapple) that mellows the hoppiness a bit. Plus, how cool is the name? It’s a special release, so I’m not sure if you’ll see it in stores. If you do, pick it up.

OakShire Brewing Espresso Stout

bottle_template_StoutI wasn’t originally going to try this one, but I’m SO glad I did – this may be my favorite coffee/espresso stout I’ve tasted. I love coffee, and my main complaint with espresso stouts is that the java flavor isn’t strong enough. However, this was like drinking a glass of iced coffee. The whole time I was drinking it, I kept thinking, “This would go so great with a giant piece of chocolate cake.” (Then again, when do I *not* think that.) These guys are from Eugene too – apparently we need to plan a road trip, stat.

2 Towns Ciderhouse Hop & Stalk

hopAndStalkI mentioned that I love a hoppy beer, and I also love cider, so it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed this imperial hopped cider from the Corvallis-based 2 Towns Ciderhouse. If you’re not a beer fan, you’ll probably love this – it’s super fruity, and it’s made with red rhubarb and fresh-pressed apples. It’s 8% ABV and goes down easily, which means this is a good choice if you’re looking for a nice buzz with not a lot of effort :)

Hop Valley Citrus Mistress IPA

hop-valley-citrus-mistre-24039-543zI’ve raved about Hop Valley’s Citrus Mistress IPA before, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. It’s tart, refreshing, and the grapefruit flavor isn’t too overpowering. I’m no expert but I feel like it would go really well with fish tacos. Mmm, fish tacos.

That’s it! If you can’t find these in stores near you, then there’s really only one solution: Plan a trip to Oregon right this minute.

Romper Madness

You guys, I’m afraid the unthinkable has happened: I want to buy a romper.

The first time I saw somebody wearing a romper in the wild, I remember thinking that there was NO WAY that they would ever catch on as a trend. (Although to be fair, I remember having a heated discussion with a high school classmate about how nobody would ever replace all of their VHS tapes with DVDs, so it appears that my trend prediction skills are not great.)

Anyway, rompers. My head says that they’ll probably give me saggy-diaper-butt and I’ll have trouble finding one to fit my pear-shaped body and do I really want to jump on a trend that requires you to distinguish between “toddler” and “women’s” when you search online? But my heart says, “look how pretty!”

I think this one is cute too, although I’m alarmed that it is giving the model a serious case of pancake ass, when she is literally a professional nice-ass-haver:

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Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 8.41.11 AMDave is totally making this face right now:

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I think I might test my romper love with an inexpensive, simple version from Forever 21 (perhaps this one). That way if I wind up feeling like a 5’5 toddler when I put it on, I’m only out $17.

Tell me your thoughts about rompers: Do you wear them? Do you have a favorite romper that you wear every weekend that you want to tell me about? Should I run away screaming and pretend this post never happened?

I Need a Vacation

I’m juggling a bunch of different projects and planning several events at work right now, and I think the stress is getting to me because I had a minor panic attack in the car on the way to work yesterday over power strips. Specifically, whether I remembered to add power strips to an event purchase order. I know I *thought* about adding them, but did I actually do it? I don’t think I did … GREAT, I’M GOING TO BE FIRED AND I’LL LOSE MY CAR AND MY HOUSE AND I’LL HAVE TO LIVE UNDER THE BRIDGE LIKE A TROLL.

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Contributing to the stress is the fact that I haven’t taken a vacation in almost a year. Partially because my new workplace puts employees through a six-month probationary period before they’re eligible to use vacation time, and partially because I’m one of those people who thinks their office CANNOT POSSIBLY function without them so they hoard their vacation time and wind up having mental breakdowns over power cords.

The good news is that I only have to wait a few more months before I finally get a vacation: A bunch of my best college friends and I are planning a summer trip to Palm Springs in August, and I cannot wait. We all lived in a house together our senior year, and we did a lot of reality TV watching/Chipotle eating/general adventuring around the LA area. It was basically the best time ever. Here is a picture of us hanging out in Santa Monica approximately one million years ago:

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That mint shrug is near the top of the Terrible Decisions I Made in College list.

I moved up to Northern California the year after I graduated, and it’s been way too many years since I’ve seen them (see vacation hoarder comment above). I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself at work, to the point where I feel genuinely guilty requesting time off, even if I’ve earned it. However, I’m finding that the older I get, the more I care about doing what’s best for myself, and that includes taking time off. Basically what I am saying is God help whoever winds up sitting next to me on the flight to LA.

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Trip Pics and the Worst Text Ever

I got back last night from Sacramento, and the conference turned out to be really fun. It helped that it was held in the downtown/Old Sacramento area, within easy walking distance of a ton of fun restaurants, shopping, parks, etc. Normally we wind up in a Radisson across from a business park where the main attractions are Panda Express and Office Depot. Lunch the first day was on our own, and since I didn’t really know anybody I wound up eating by myself at a cafe on the river. The view wasn’t too terrible:

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Neither was the food:

IMG_5114I was in town attending a health/wellness conference, so I went with the somewhat healthy-ish option of a smoked salmon BLT on wheat bread. I’m sure the thick cut bacon, basil aioli, and crispy sweet potato fries outweighed any health benefits the salmon offered, but whatever. It was good.

I was about halfway through my meal when I noticed this little hipster dude staring at me over his Moscow mule. One minute I was looking down at my phone, and then when I looked up he was squatting awkwardly next to my chair.

Him: “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get your autograph?”

Me: “Huh?” (FULL DISCLOSURE: Some bacon sprayed across the table when I said this.)

Him: “Aren’t you the girl from Interstellar?”

Me: “Yes, it’s me, Jessica Chastain. I could be relaxing on my yacht in Italy, but instead I’m here in Old Sacramento inhaling a plate of bacon and fries while wearing a $15 dress from Old Navy.”

For the record, I think I look nothing like Jessica (aside from the hair), but it was a nice change from Wynonna Judd and Fergie (the royal Fergie, not the peed-herself-on-stage Fergie).

The next day I received this text from Dave, which makes me feel simultaneously relieved and horrified:

IMG_5120TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS. The worst part was that he said the majority of them were living on the outside of the bedroom wall that our headboard is on. I WAS SLEEPING WITH TWELVE BLACK WIDOWS NEXT TO MY HEAD. I mean, they were separated by a layer of drywall and some siding, but still. Home Defense is supposed to work for 12 months, but I’m trying to convince Dave he should spray every month just to be safe. That’s not crazy, right?