Drive-By Blog Update

Been awfully busy lately, and that means the blog is the first thing to not get updated. I then tell myself, “I’ll have to update my website with all of the interesting things I’ve been doing.” Except, of course, it’s not terribly interesting, really. But a few things of note as of late…

Worst Open House Ever?

Probably not. But Charlie and I did look at some open houses over the weekend (not that we’re buying in the near future, but to get an idea of right now what is available in our suspected price range) and there was one house that stood out in particular for being unwelcoming. First, when we got there, the front door was locked. As we were standing right next to the front window (with the realtor slumped on a couch), he saw us trying to open the door and hopped up and opened the door. “I don’t know how that happened,” he said. Because of course the door locked its own deadbolt.

But then, we stepped in and were greeted with an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. As we gasped for air, then realtor dealt the final blow. “When I got here for the open house I found out that one of the contractors working on the house is not feeling well and he’s lying down in the master bedroom, so I’m going to have to ask that you not go in there.”

“We’ll just come back,” Charlie said, as he and I scrambled towards the door. Which of course, meant, never. Talk about three strikes and you’re out…

Small Press Expo 2010 A Success

This year’s Small Press Expo (a show I first attended in 1995, first volunteered for in 1997, and have helped run in some capacity since 1998) was a huge success, hurrah! It was also my last year as the grand poobah of the Ignatz Awards, so having that off my shoulders (more or less) was also a big relief. I finished up my wine sketchbook, which I started back in 2001. I am determined to buckle down and scan the rest and start posting those sketches here… soon… honest.

Autumn = Soup Weather

I love making soup in colder weather, both on the stove and in my crock pot. I also finally decided to give Soupergirl a try, a local chef who sells her homemade soups that you order in advance. I’m going to keep making my own soup, of course, but I’m dying to see how hers taste too. Especially since hers is a zucchini pear soup, something that sounds strange at first and then intriguing, and more importantly I’d never have thought to try it on my own.

Upcoming Documentary I Can’t Wait To See

Waiting for “Superman” is opening this weekend in the DC area, David Guggenheim’s new documentary on the public school system in the United States and its decline over recent years. Part of the focus is on the DC school system and DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, and I’m looking forward to seeing it for myself. For the record, while I don’t think she was perfect (and made some mistakes along the way), I do think that Rhee was one of the best things to happen to DC public schools in the past few years.

Slightly Burnt Out

I’m not sure how I can be burnt out from doing too much while not really accomplishing anything, but I’ve come to the grim conclusion that it seems to be my life these days. It has been nice to check some items off of the list, though, and move closer to getting other things completed. (Although even things that take up time can still be sad to see go away.)

I did have the last of my “lap swimming class” through Arlington last night, which I’d signed up for primarily because the rec center near my office was overrun with kids camp all summer long. It was strange (to me), though, in that we started with nine people and by the end would have anywhere from two to four people show up. Last night was just me and one other guy. I admit it, I missed two classes (one due to work, one due to sickness) but it was more than just that in terms of absences. The instructor had even said early on that adult swim classes had a steep attrition rate but this was a little out of control. On the bright side, we each had an entire lane to ourselves, how nice is that? The final two weeks we were told to “just go and swim as much as you can without stopping” and I was pleased with the end results: 34 laps in 35 minutes last week, and 39 laps in 40 minutes this week. Nice steady pace with no burning desire to stop. It’ll be nice to have Monday nights back, but I will miss having my own lap lane ready and waiting for me.

Over for SPX, the Ignatz Ballot is out in the wild, and the jury this year did a fantastic job. I’ve been very slowly lining up presenters, so hopefully I can get that done in the next week or two with lots of time to spare. It’s hard to believe the show is just a month away (yikes) but I’m whittling away at my remaining parts, which feels good.

On the downside, though, my home has lately been looking like a disaster area in various stages of disrepair. I’d hoped to really roll up my sleeves and get rid of stuff a couple of weekends ago but it just didn’t happen. I think I’m going to have to just draw up a schedule for myself even if it’s as simple as, “Tackle these two shelves this weekend” so it doesn’t look quite so daunting. (Once I get rid of some things, I will then have room for the other things scattered around my home.) Doubly so for if/when Charlie and I get a place together, this is a process that needs to be taken care of.

Alternately, gods of the lottery system, the Virginia Lottery is at something hugely ridiculous right now like $252 million. I know that supposedly more money brings more problems, but I am willing to give that a shot and see what happens. Then I can spend my days doing research on important things. Like if squirrels can really talk out of their butts or not.

I thought Mark Trail was all about animal facts?

While I’m at it, I need to figure out something else to do with the never-ending supply of peaches from my CSA. I love peaches but I am starting to burn out on them. I cannot eat them fast enough. (Well, I suppose I could but it would be fairly disastrous.) Maybe I should make some sort of smallish peach cobbler? I suppose there are worse fates in life.

Oh, and if the heat could drop about 10 degrees I’d be appreciative. I’d like the option to run after work instead of having to get up super-early to avoid melting.

Nothing Panned Out As I Planned

Huh. Today, so far, all my carefully laid plans have suffered a partial collapse. Fortunately, nothing has turned out badly.

First up, I went out to run (depending on how you look at it) either a brick or a duathlon. The plan was that I’d run two miles to the gym, get there right as spinning class would begin and do that for 45 minutes, then run two more miles back home. Except when I got to the gym… the spinning instructor didn’t show up. Now, to be fair, this is also the spinning instructor who’s been teaching classes while 8 1/2 months pregnant. (After next week the gym is closed until Labor Day so she’s been trying to make it all the way there.) So her not showing up and with no call or e-mail makes us think that, well, perhaps something more important was going on.

We made the best we could of the situation, though, and pedaled away while someone called out suggestions on what to do. Unfortunately there was no music (and I thought it’d be rude to pull on my iPod) so the gym found a CD and put that on, which consisted of 20 minues of the worst rap music I’ve ever heard. When it ran out, no one suggested it go back on. And afterwards, I got back out there and ran the rest of the route home.

Next, I was heading to work and made the mistake of thinking how nice it was to leave a little early so I can use the Memorial Circle shortcut (since the cross-traffic is blocked until just before 9am), and how great it was that Congress was out of session because traffic was so light. And of course, I zipped around the far side of the circle, about to pull onto the GW Parkway… and it was completely backed up. So badly I actually couldn’t even make it onto the Parkway. But, that meant I was able to easily head back to Route 50 and go into work the long way. And hey, only 10 minutes were wasted in the end.

Finally, the plan for lunch today (part of why I’d done the extra exercise) was to go to Elevation Burger and get a delicious cheeseburger and fries. Mmmmm. Except the main planner suddenly couldn’t go, and it didn’t seem right to go without her. Soooo, lunch was found elsewhere and it was good too.

I think it’s just one of those days, where nothing panned out as I planned. At least the alternatives haven’t been too bad. But I would at least like something to go right and like I’d initially wanted. It does make me almost afraid to try and head over after work to the Crate & Barrel outlet (to exchange two chipped pieces that I received as a gift, and are now only available there), though. I would like to not only be able to exchange them, but get some more of the plates and bowls while they’re still available. Fate, go pick on someone else for a while.

Busy x 1000

Didn’t I make some sort of (very silly) pronouncement that July was going to be less busy? Oh, foolish Greg.

On the bright side, though, some things are starting to line up. My swim class is going really well—we had three 25yd sprints at the end of Monday’s session and I even won all three, which was a nice little ego boost. Even better, arriving in the mail today were my very own prescription swimming goggles! Let evildoers beware!

 AquaGreg [365portraits: 190]

Oh wait, that has nothing to do with evildoers. But it’s been a week for exercise equipment since I also have a new bicycle, which I loooooooove. It’s a hybrid, a 2009 Trek 7.3 FX. I figure it’ll be good for both biking around Arlington as well as for exercise purposes. And even better, I could (in theory) take the bus in with the bike and ride the 8-9 mile route home, which isn’t as bad in warm weather as running.

New Bike [365portraits: 186]

My friend Felicity’s in town this week for a convention, and it was great to go out to dinner with her and Charlie on Tuesday night. I often only see her once a year, so having her in town is a lot of fun; we’re going to do something or another on Sunday to be determined.

Tonight is deinstallation at Artomatic; it’ll be sad taking my stuff down, but I was also there a lot less this year because I was so busy with everything else. Then I’ve got to get cracking on several writing projects all due in the new few weeks. Eek. Hopefully once those are done, though, I can have a little bit of chill in my life… Maybe…

The Worst Thing About Vacation

The worst thing about going on vacation, I’ve decided, is coming back.

Don’t get me wrong, I am always eager to be back in my own bed at the end of a trip, and in my own home. But it’s just as hard for me to then get back into the swing of things. I’ve joked before that at the end of the day I need a vacation from my vacations, but of course that never quite works out. But still, I could use the extra time. My home is a disaster area, if nothing else, and that needs to change pronto.

Still, it’s hard to not find myself looking out the window and wishing for a view more like this:

Reaching to the Sky

Yeah, don’t hold your breath, Greg. Still, maybe when I win the lottery that sort of home away from home can be provided. Until then, I get to deal with all the little things. Like coming home last night and discovering that thanks to a power flicker my television was seriously scrambled. It took almost two hours to finally figure out how to reset everything, and in the future if that happens again it’ll be easily fixable. But it was a major mess, even down to things like a security code being set for some of the features. Yikes.

Oh, and annoyingly, the component cables for my Wii seem to have died; there’s now a nasty yellow tinge being transmitted by them. At least, I hope it’s the problem. I hooked up the standard cables and that’s just fine (if not as good a display), so I ordered a new set to arrive next week and hopefully that will be that. But the whole two-hour ordeal meant that by the time I got to bed, even if I could get up in time there was no way I would actually be able to go for a swim. Instead I did the next best thing; I got into work early, then for my lunch break went for a swim then. It was actually fairly deserted, which is nice to know; no fighting for lanes or such. (And of course, it made me all misty-eyed for the idea of actually hitting the lottery so I could go and do things like swim in the early afternoon.)

(The trip itself was just fine. It’s always nice to see relatives, especially my grandparents. And I can’t remember the last time I sat outdoors and made s’mores over a fire.)

Meanwhile, it’s both sunny out and raining, with rumblings of a storm in the distance. Yay for crazy mixed up signals.

In case you hear of people laughing so hard they drown…

I feel like I should somehow warn the world that (provided all goes well) I am going to take a stab at lap swimming on Monday. I am pretty sure that I have not done actual lap swimming since, um, 1986 or so.

Saying that this is going to be entertaining? Understatement of the universe. I’m sure there must be a German word for when you are simultaneously looking forward to something and terrified of it, all at once. They’re good with that sort of thing.

On the bright side, new lighting for Artomatic is officially purchased. I suppose there’s a small chance it may somehow fail horribly and I’ll have to use the old one, but hopefully the first weekend of site set-up I can test it out and make sure. (But if someone out there wants my old lights, well, they’re probably going to need a new home.)

And I have told myself that in May, I have to get my old Wine-Book Wednesdays posts up and running again. All it will really take is a good hour or two to scan in about two dozen more images. So if there aren’t any new posts by May7th, feel free to nag. After all, it’ll have been a year since the last one. Yeesh.

This weekend Charlie and I are seeing Chicago at the National Theatre. I’ve never seen it before—on stage or for that matter the movie version. I know absolutely nothing about it. Hopefully entertainment is heading our way tomorrow night.

A month later…

…and my life is still boring.

Housework [365portraits: 067]All right, perhaps a slight exaggeration. I have been doing more than just vacuuming, honest. In all honesty, I’ve actually been very busy this past month. It wasn’t so much that I had a lot of extra things on my plate, but rather that I went on vacation for almost a week in mid-Feburary to see some friends. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but ever since then I’ve felt like I’ve been catching up on, well, everything else all at once.

When that happens, I find that all sorts of communications slowly shut down or off entirely. My e-mail inbox is normally in the single digits, and ever since mid-February it’s been about four-times as full of things still waiting to reply to. (Cringingly, there’s an e-mail or two in there from right before my mid-December surgery, the remnants of being behind back then too.) I’ve ignored a lot of website updates that I normally read religiously. And needless to say, well, it’s now been over a month since I updated here.

On the bright side, a lot of the “no news is good news” adage applies here. Work is going well. Running has started to finally click back into place (although I am never, ever, ever training for a spring marathon again). Hopefully the friends who are starting to think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth haven’t written me off. Reviews are still being written. Perhaps more importantly, I have an idea (finally) for this year’s Artomatic; it will (like last year) be photography-based, and I think I’ve got about half to two-thirds of an exhibit already taken care of. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I can finish taking the appropriate photos and get that rolling. And last week I started carving out some time from my schedule to start some fiction writing again. We’ll see how that goes, but at least for now there are four pages of something that I think don’t entirely suck. Oh, and I have a monstrously large television now because the old one was on death’s door.

Mind you, things are still busy. Tonight and Thursday involve things after work with someone from out of town. Then Friday through Sunday with different people in from out of town. The following weekend is a half marathon. The weekend after that is possibly some birthday stuff, although at the rate everything else is piling up I’m half-tempted to just skip trying to make plans entirely and just celebrate it by doing nothing.

But hey, I’ve got my health, I’m happy, I’m still gainfully employed. There are certainly worse things in life than “I have too many things going on all at once” in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully now that the dangling sword of not-updating-ocles is no longer over my head, it’ll be a little more frequent, right?


I’m not entirely sure how it is that I can go several weeks at a time without seeing anyone, and then over the course of a week and a half I see something like nine zillion friends. I feel like I’ve just finished up the latter, between Thanksgiving and now. It’s the holiday season, certainly, which accounts for a lot of it. People start having parties, or brunches, or dinners, or all sorts of other things. I’m always in favor of them, up to a point, and it is great to see everyone.

(I say up to a point because I have learned that I do have my upper limit and I can’t go beyond it or I start feeling overloaded. It’s been an important lesson to learn.)

But yeah, it’s one of the things that I absolutely love about the holidays. There are friends that I don’t see as often as I should (well, to be fair, that’s all of them) and this lets me feel like I’ve made some progress in that direction. From movies and tree-decorating-parties to watching them carve bears out of cake for shoppers’ amusement, it’s all really good.

(I have to say, speaking of movies, I am entertained by the fact that not only did I end up in a group of 10 people to see Milk on Friday night, but that I ran into no less than five other people I knew at the movie theatre that night. That never happens for me. Just goes to show how in-demand the movie is right now. And yes, it was pretty good.)

I’ve got only two things during this upcoming week, and then starting with this next weekend it’s going to be crazy all over again. My family is having “mini-Christmas” (which is the only time all of us will be here for it, although Christmas itself will be celebrated too) on Saturday and Sunday, and that should be really nice. On Monday the 15th, I get the gallbladder removed, which I’m looking really forward to. Considering that the middle of last week finally ended two-and-a-half weeks of mild to major nausea at any given moment, I’m all in favor of that sucker getting out of me, even if I do finally have that lovely side effect finally under control. Actually not worried about it at all, honestly.

Of course, this does mean that I really need to finish up the Christmas shopping; I’m so glad it is about 90% done already. I suspect a lot of next week will have me out of it, based on the experiences of just about everyone I know that’s had their gallbladder removed. (Who knew it was so common? Not me.) And beyond that? There’s a trip up to Sag Harbor for New Year’s, and I’m still vaguely contemplating tackling the National Marathon at the end of March. I sketched out a running schedule to start with the new year, and we’ll see how that goes. It will be a tight schedule but if I don’t act like a big wimp when it comes to cold weather (and provided we don’t end up in a world of snow and ice), it’s doable. Hmmm. Because right now, I have been a big wimp about running. Brrrr.

But anyway, I have to say that this time of year reminds me what great, great friends I have. It’s so wonderful to see them as much as I do, even though it sometimes just makes me feel bad that I haven’t seen all the rest of them as well. (So many people, so little time. *sigh*)

And now, time to haul out the flannel sheets and switch over, because I am sick of this cold. Consider this my way of getting us a nice little heat spike later in the week, ok?

Enough of the Bleah, Already

It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that my holiday weekend consisted mostly of bleah. But I’d say about 50% of it is not an unfair estimate.

With 20/20 hindsight, running my 20-miler on Saturday was perhaps not the smartest of moves, but it was also the last long run I’d be able to do with the running program, thanks to prior commitments for the remaining scheduled long runs. It may sound silly, but even if I’m not running with anyone else directly, there is a certain comfort level in knowing that there are both other runners that you know out on the trail at the same time.

There were some nice parts to the weekend; seeing Frozen River (very good if also depressing), going to a nice housewarming party in the SW Waterfront, that sort of thing. But I’m still feeling a little run down and tired. It certainly didn’t help matters that on both Saturday and Sunday nights, I think I woke up about every 30 to 45 minutes. And last night I couldn’t fall asleep for several hours; a little after 1am I finally gave up on the idea of running this morning and reset the alarm for some more sleep (whenever it finally came). Now today I’ve got a bit of a scratchy throat. If this is some sort of summer cold, I must say I’m really unimpressed. Just go nuclear or die off, but this strange sort of half-life, Schroedinger’s Virus thing is getting a bit old.

Of course, this sort of thing always happens at the worst possible time. In the month of September, off the top of my head, there’s two family-related trips, a wedding, a 50th birthday celebration, two dinner parties, a play, and no doubt a lot more that I’d have to look at my calendar to determine. And while they’re all good things (don’t get me wrong, I’ll take this over a month of isolation or loneliness) I cannot help but think that there must be some sort of happy medium available out there. Argh.

I feel like in balance, aside from the first weekend of October (when SPX rolls around) I should deliberately not book anything for that month. If nothing else, I need a weekend in which I can finally really roll up my sleeves and get rid of a lot of stuff. (It seems to be in the air lately, which is fine by me.) Lately I’ve started really feeling like there are too many things in my home that haven’t been touched in so long that perhaps I can bid them adieu…

(Oh, stop laughing. It could happen.)

Until then, step one in my master scheme will be to shake this… whatever it is I’ve got. Enough is enough!