Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An inspiring story

I'm very struck by this New York Magazine article about a "a young doctor, not even prominent at his own hospital, who by his own admission knew next to nothing about AIDS, doing something never done before." He cured AIDS in one of his patients who had lukemia by giving him a bone marrow transplant. The donor had a genetic mutation that was passed on to the man, making him resistant to AIDS. He was turned down from conferences and rejected from the leading medical journals. He was so outside of the AIDS research group nobody listened to what he had to say. People who lived and breathed AIDS research also just didn't think a "cure" was plausible. They had been so trained by their failures they didn't go down certain lines of inquiry anymore.

Being part of the in-group means learning all the things you can't do. Outsiders don't have to think outside the box. They haven't been taught to see the box.

In both of my jobs, I've experienced something like this. A lot of the processes or tasks seem superfluous, unnecessary, redundant, time-consuming, wasteful. You have to be patient, because sometimes the logic for these tasks is hidden. But once you do them for awhile, you begin to ossify. We really need this database! You have to organize the document like that! In my advertising job, especially, doing things differently got me into nothing but trouble. And when you do things your way, you have to take 100% responsibility for any failure, and must defend yourself against suspicion and skepticism all the time.

History is littered with the tales of thinkers whose inventions, theories, and discoveries were ignored in their time. Thirty or a hundred years later, someone else discovers the same thing, but this time the world takes notice.

It's not enough to just have a great idea. You have to be in a position of power. You have to have influence. Maybe people will pay attention eventually, in the case of this doctor. But maybe they won't.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Basking like a lizard in 87+ degree weather

Over Memorial Day weekend, Eric left for Bethel for three nights of Phish concerts. I'm a little resentful that Phish insists on all these concerts over three-day weekends. Eric is definitely going to one over Fourth of July, and may go to one that requires a plane ticket over Labor Day.

However, I've kept myself occupied and actually looked forward to some "me" time. I made a whole list of things to do and, um, I haven't checked a ton off my list, but that's fine, because it means I've been busy. I also didn't watch TV, just two movies (kind of my job?), so I'm proud of myself for that. Watching crap TV while alone is depressing.

On Friday afternoon (we got out a bit early) I tried this awesome burrito place called Downtown Bakery. It was 3pm and I hadn't eaten lunch yet, so I ate the whole thing, which of course made me stomach rebel about 45 minutes later. I went for a run in the evening, and was proud because my maximum pulse rate was about 160. It was 240 when I first went for a run 5 weeks ago. However, my runner's high was not as intense. I love me a good runner's high. If they could bottle some of my runner's highs I'm pretty sure they would be a class I controlled substance. It's this very relaxing, mellowing (yet also invigorating) whole body high. It can make me feel a little giddy afterwards and share-y. I want to shout from the rooftops how good I feel. No one else mentions this, so I'll go out and say it. It feels different than an orgasm--maybe not as intense--but it lasts and lasts and lasts. So that's what I have to say about runner's highs. Apparently, the Internet says I am not alone.

Saturday was my busy day
10:30 wake up
12-1:30 yoga. holy cow this class kicked my ass. That part specifically was quite sore the next day.
2:30 laser hair removal consultation. If you have pale skin and dark hair, you should do it! Unfortunately, I'm not the best candidate (and can't do my bikini area) because my hair is too light. I'm in between doing my underarms and this random patch of hair that grows on my left hip. It actually hurt A LOT when they did the test patch on my underarm, so I think the pain might be a factor.
3 Met Anna and went to Epistrophy, this cute French cafe, and shared dishes with plenty of cheese and tomato sauce (baked eggs and an eggplant thing) and a carafe of red wine. It was a nice afternoon, and the place was so disorganized we had to ask for our check like three times. But that's fine, because we spent over two hours there
8:30pm Rooftop Films! I'm doing a piece on them for work. The screening was at the top floor of a school--one of the ones with a rooftop basketball court that's caged in. It was a great place to see a movie.
11pm Afterparty at Fontana's. The producer of the film graduated a year behind me so it was fun to hear her adventures as a filmmaker.

Sunday I was inexplicably exhausted and groggy all day. I finally rallied around 6pm, when I sat and read in the East River Park, which was cool and gorgeous. I finished the Hunger Games trilogy, though the third book was not my favorite. Too much to wrap together. It also had that Harry Potter syndrome where they end up in the hospital after EVERY battle/altercation. Way too much to draw together in one book.

Today, I went to another yoga class (ok, when am I going to start seeing results? No inches lost, no weight loss. maybe a tiny bit more toned-looking?). I made this awesome healthy banana bread recipe for breakfasts and snacks this week, and now I'm drinking kombucha and writing this.

Next weekend--Mountain Jam!
Today I did another yoga class (ok, when am I going to startseeing ru

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Weekend in New Hampshire

Eric always complains that I don’t like hiking. Actually, I just don’t like boring hiking. I like scenery. I like vistas. I like crossing small streams and figuring out my footing over rocks. I like waterfalls. New Hampshire, thankfully, has all that.

On Friday, we left work a bit early and I took the PATH train to New Jersey to pick up our rental car, a minivan (more on that later). The trip was over six hours, including an hour break for thai food. We passed right by the exit to Wesleyan, so I gave my standard alumni shout-out.

I have to say, I love traveling with smartphones. The thai place we found, which was pretty good and so quiet and peaceful, was over two miles away from the highway. We would have been eating at Denny’s if we hadn’t had Yelp and Google Maps. The hotel the first night, a Red Roof Inn, was not my favorite. A lot of the places were sold out for some reason, and at this point it was 11:30pm. I pouted and couldn’t sleep because of those thin comforters they have in cheap hotels. It was also just a little bit cheaper than the much nicer place we had reservations for Saturday and Sunday night. Eric refused to eat the free continental breakfast in the morning.

However, that turned out to be a good thing because we found this awesome pancake place further North on our route. Pretty much everything in this small skiing town was shut down, except for this restaurant, which was packed. It had a cute little train going around that captivated all the little kids in the restaurant, one of those things that makes me almost excited to have children, until I see the little rascal clinging to his mother and running around the restaurant like a wee madman.

The weather was about as nice as it was going to get, so we went up to Mt Washington. It’s the tallest mountain on the East Coast, the site of the highest wind speed ever recorded, and the first “attraction” on the east coast. You have to pay $30 something for the toll road up to the top, which comes with a cheesy yet wonderful audio CD to play in your car. We stopped and walked around at various points. It was really cool to enter the alpine zone. The trees get smaller and smaller until there are flattened, twisted conifer vines, basically. Up top was totally covered in fog. I brought my ski jacket, gloves, and a hat, which I put on at the top. It’s that cold. On the way down we hiked off the road and perched on a rock for awhile that was basically on a cliff. We tried to take pictures but they just couldn’t capture the depth and scale of what we were experiencing.

We stayed at the Bretton Arms Inn, which is on the ground and part of the Mount Washington Resort. The Victorian-era hotel is a vestige of the days when people would spend their whole summers at one hotel. Fifty trains arrived a day. It was a huge hotspot. A lot of these places have gone away, mainly due to the arrival of plane travel. Fun fact!

The hotel was absolutely gorgeous. We ate the first night in the formal dining room. Neither of us had realized the environment was so formal. I brought a new dress that I had been dying to wear, but Eric was in his cargos. I didn’t want to eat at the other restaurants so I made him borrow a suit jacket so he could eat in the formal area. Dinner was wonderful. We sat right by the window, had that exceptional service that makes you pull out all the manners you learned from your mother, and I now have a new favorite dish: osso bucco. After dinner, Eric treated me to one dance on the dance floor. We danced alone in front of the three-piece band. Just a little two-step. He turned bright red and it was so cute. He’s actually expressed interest in dancing lessons, so I need to take advantage of that. I’m not a great dancer myself, but I’ve learned that confidence goes a long way, and I really enjoy dancing with someone that loves me. No sweaty palms!

Sunday it rained all day, as forecast, so we treated ourselves to a hotel day. We had brunch buffet in the formal dining room again, it was one of those crazy Mother’s Day-level brunches. We ate a lot of lox. Then we checked out the spa, since we had made appointments for a couples’ massage later that day. I’ve only been to a true spa once, and didn’t really get the full experience. The male and female concierges each gave us separate tours, and we met briefly in the couples lounge. I went back out after changing, and Eric was nowhere to be found. I went back and used the steam room for a minutes, then checked. No Eric. Did more steam room. No Eric. Finally, I go out and see him. He had shaved and showered, commenting that there’s not usually all that stuff for him to use. After going to a formal tea in the afternoon (so stuffed by that point after breakfast and tea!), we came back for our massage. It was incredible. I definitely want to get more massages. My mom had a bunch of them covered by insurance after she got a concussion in a fender-bender (ok, not a good reason to get free massages), but I hear Washington is a massage-positive state. I would love to get medical massages for my back problems. I asked for a deep tissue massage, which left me a bit sore the next day, but I think it worked out some of my perma-kinks.

On Monday it finally stopped raining and we went on a couple of hikes in the White Mountain National Forest before we headed back to NYC. The first one was advertised as “Twenty Minutes to the Waterfall,” and it took a bit longer, but it was beautiful. We could see the trail markings on the other side of the waterfall, but there was no way you could get across at this time of the year, with all the spring snow melting. Then we headed down to the river, where we saw people canoeing and rafting down the river in wetsuits. They do this every May. Eric and I decided we will go rafting together—he’s done it before but I haven’t.

At this point Eric thought I wanted to head back to the car and go home, but no I didn’t! I turned onto a trail and started hiking. It turned out to run uphill along a stream/waterfall. We had the best time hiking up there, which led us to believe that there are only good trails in New Hampshire. There were lots of rocksteps and tree roots, and different types of waterfalls. We finally ended up turning back at a break in the trail.

Then, we got around to the whole purpose of the trip, and why we rented a minivan. The boxes. About a decade ago, Eric left ten boxes of stuff at his ex-girlfriend’s parents’ house before he moved to Portland, Oregon. Seriously. The parents were really nice, and I didn’t feel that awkward, thankfully, even though I was wondering if they were judging me against her. We started to go through them and there’s lots of duplicate kitchen stuff, for example. This morning Eric spotted a trio of microwave cookbooks. Yeah, there’s some great stuff in those boxes.

It was so nice to take a three-day weekend, and now that I have more vacation time this is something we’ll plan to do a couple more times this summer. Relaxed and refreshed! Also, we always tend to get closer during a trip together, but I think now I really understand what old married couples mean when they go away for a weekend to reconnect. The weekend was all about spending time with each other away from our usual distractions, and I felt so much more in sync with my partner by the end. Going to New Hampshire made me realize there are many, many more destinations to explore on the East Coast.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ping Pong and Green Smoothies

This week went by pretty quickly, and with my boyfriend already tuckered out in bed, I thought I'd share.

While biking home, I see people playing ping pong through the chain link fence in a pretty neglected park by our apartment. I realize that Eric has a couple of ping pong paddles lying around.

I go on Amazon and purchase some ping pong balls (they sell a lot of 300-packs for beer pong...). Tonight, after dinner we decide to move around a bit and play some pong. It was fabulous. We were out there for about forty minutes. We realized that was the longest either of us had been outside that day. It's kind of pathetic, especially because I consider myself to be a lot more outdoorsy since I bike to and from work (15 min each way) and generally try to leave the office to walk around or run an errand at lunchtime. It felt old-fashioned, like when I was a kid and would race to go outside and play after dinner, especially during warm summer nights.

I beat Eric two games to one. I'm pretty competitive, but I had an advantage since I play tennis (I think anyway). I like that we're not too unevenly matched. Success! Hopefully I can rope some other friends into playing or turn it into a drinking game sometime.

I make fruit smoothies semi-regularly with my immersion blender. I have it down to a science
1) frozen fruit from whole foods
2) frozen bananas--I slice up all extra, overripe bananas and put them in the freezer for this use
3) yogurt
4) milk or fruit juice to thin

However, I feel like they're not as filling as, say, having some yogurt and berries and actually chewing everything. They can also be pretty sweet. I've been seeing a lot of green juices around lately, usually priced at some insane level like $7 or $9.50, so I thought I'd try to make my own at home. Tonight I made a kale smoothie as follows
1) As many leaves of kale (de-stemmed) as I could fit into my pyrex measuring cup
2)frozen banana + frozen strawberry

It was surprisingly good, just a little bit of vegetal bitterness. As Eric said, after trying it reluctantly, "It could hold a lot more kale."

Our CSA starts up in three weeks (yay!) so I think green smoothies will be a good way for us to quickly go through perishable vegetables. Last year we got into kale chips to go through all the kale, but this year I'm hoping we can add smoothies to our "easy ways to eat kale" repertoire. A sidenote: I'm all about fiber, but I suspect the kale is behind some major intestinal rumblings this evening. Ironically, when I googled this I came across a website recommending you make raw vegetables more "digestible" was to make a green smoothie. Yeah, right...

Anyway, the real way to make an awesome smoothie is to have a high-end vitamix or whatever but I told Eric to check out craigslist and I think we're going to get a $200 for $50. Nice!