Monday, June 20, 2011

"Nice Ass" Day

After 5 months with a back injury, I jogged for the first time today. I did my ass a favor on this nice ass day.

It was nothing special, only about 2 miles.

But it felt great!

And here's how it went down:

I bought a pair of Sketchers Shape Ups. They are black and look very hip hop. I've never owned black sneakers like this before and am still getting used to not only how they look but how I walk in them, sometimes I think I'm walking like a cowboy. But they center my posture and work my calves, thighs and booty as I do simple walking or elliptical work and my chiropractor says they're gold, so off I go. And in the aftermath, I can totally feel the burn in my muscles in that way I forgot about.

I decided after the job ended today to talk Wilson to Frick Park for our standard 4 mile jaunt. Then Eminem came on the shuffle and I started moving faster. Then some Klaus Von Klaus, Rihanna, more Eminem and faster I went. And I picked up my pace with Wilson panting in tow (he's as out of shape as I am) and we cruised the last two miles all the way home! In the end, I put "Feel Good Inc" by the Gorillaz on repeat so that I would have no excuse to slow down and give up. It worked!

I'll likely pay the price tomorrow when the chiro manipulates my tender back, but there's something so rewarding about pushing my body after a long day at work and it's even more rewarding as I sip on my Pinot Grigio here on the veranda and KNOW that I did something that makes me feel a lot more like me than I have felt lately.

The ingredients for a "Nice Ass Day" are in equal parts as follows:
Sketchers Shape Ups
Frick Park
Wilson (or a good dog!)
Klaus Von Klaus

And repeat...

Friday, April 29, 2011

April in General

In general, the month of April has been wonderful. Today is the birthday of one of my dear friends, Mr. Braverman Associate Professor, and yesterday, the love of my life turned 38, or as I like to call it, THIRTY GREAT. Two of my favorite people with birthdays within 2 days? Wow.

End of April also marks the near and dear end of a fantastic but long semester at Point Park, where I taught two back to back sections - 8 am - 11 am then 11:20 - 2:20 pm - Mon and Fri - of Production I, on the post-production end of the cinematic spectrum. In case you don't know, Point Park has an amazing Cinema and Digital Arts program that I have had the pleasure of teaching classes at for THREE semesters now! This semester, as the P1 Post instructor (I taught P1 in Spring of last year, but I taught on the Production end of the instructing team) I covered Final Cut Pro from the basic but vitally important areas like media management (which I beat into their heads!) to some simple but creative techniques found in the software, to audio editing and building a "soundscape." I taught with Jeremy and John, who covered Production, and I believe we had some incredible films this semester from up-and-coming freshmen who truly grew and developed not only their technical execution, but narrative storytelling, aesthetic, style and form. There's always a few stinkers, always, who hate your guts or just don't get it, but isn't that the way with everything? We had our final screening tonight and I also loved the P1 films that screened from the 2 other sections. Our final screening tonight was comprised of 12 films from my 2 plus the other 2 sections of P1, all 4 minutes or under - and it's a student-voted showcase of the semesters "best." And yes, it really was impressive! While some of my personal favs from my 2 sections didn't make the very small screening cut, so many students show so much promise and I truly believe in them. This is a proud (sin) moment for me -- and while I take no credit for their work per se I am proud to call them my students and to be their professor. I look forward to seeing where they will go not only in the program, but in life!

And spring is finally-sort-of here! Tim and I opened the Veranda and while some nights we might still need the heat, we decided NO WAY! Fuck you gas company in April! Maybe it's because despite the off and on chilliness, our neighborhood is beautiful this time of year and we are seduced by thoughts of spring. Daffodils and tulips, budding hastas and budding trees, green grass and the promise of warmth - enough to make you take your clothes off! I'm dying to run with Wilson in Frick Park, but we've had a lot of rain the past 3 weeks, my back is finally on the mend and I just invested in my dogs beauty - I got him (expensively and wildly rasta leg necessarily) groomed! So, I'm selfishly hiding out for more potentially clean dog park days, holding off on letting him splash, dig and frolick in the mud puddles, which stain his fur and feet and it stinks, and from letting him roll in what I presume to be dead animals in the grossest depths of the woods until tomorrow, off-leash, until Sunday - the first day of May.

Finally, the end April means I can officially count off the days, pretending I have six fingers on each hand RIGHT NOW, (this reminds of an old SNL commercial sketch) until I reconnect with my future husband - you may know him as Klaus Von Klaus. Rendezvous destination? NO, not Gdansk, or Prague, or Belarus...we're going to rendezvous in L.A. I'll send you a postcard with the details of our misadventures.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Great Purge Continues...

I've recently decided that all the years of stuff I've accumulated and moved with is weighing me down. Surrounded by a bunch of ex's left behind items from the break-up two years ago, all kinds of cd's I never listen to and even if I wanted to listen to them, they're ripped into my iTunes library, lenses for cameras I don't own anymore, furniture I trash picked and don't really even want - and countless other useless items that a more thing-oriented Kristine of the past would have cared about. So the great purge that began a few months ago continues. This means Craigslist, ebay, Amazon, this means bringing bags and bags of cd's and dvd's to the Exchange, this means simply throwing things away. Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of Hoarder you see on the show of the same name, but I have always had a hard time shedding and getting rid of shit, perhaps it's some sort of reverberation of my disfunctional childhood and how so many things were lost, sold, taken from me among our many, many moves.

I currently have 5 book cases full of books, papers and storage. But do I really need all those Stephen King paperbacks I read as a teenager? Is there any logical reason I still have a stack of final exams from the Intro production class I taught at Wayne State in 2005? Do I actually need a copy of a book called "Nonlinear Editing" from 1990? Seriously??? I admit it though, of all my things, I have a close emotional attachment to my books. They are the hardest items to let go of, and of course, the heaviest and most bulk building of any kind of moving situation. But I love their smell, the way they feel, the bindings and covers and colors and fonts. I love looking through books I've read for school, particularly undergrad, and reading my notes or the places in the text I underlined, highlighted and then I like to try and to figure out why I thought that portion was important, why it spoke to me, where I was mentally in that time and place and experience with that book. I like finding where I dog-eared a page, where I paused and picked back up again. I particularly like my books on film as well - theory, practice, biography, screenplays, analysis, semiotics, history. I mean, how could I possibly ever part with Herzog on Herzog? Or for that matter, the debaucherous and raunchy autobiography of Klaus Kinski?

My answer is this: slim it all down to a manageable size. Why not have 2 bookcases of books I adore (instead of 5 that I don't want or need)? Why not keep the cd's that are special, like my rare Ramones collection or special edition Madonna discs and get rid of the rest? Then, I can sell the extra bookcases and Ikea CD towers too, turning this bulk into cash.

Because that's one of the big points of this great purge. Cash. Since I am, in all honesty, pretty financially fucked, I'd like to get un-fucked and this is one way of accomplishing the goal of being un-fucked. I've raised enough in recent purge sales to pay off my tuition balance at VCU and am only a short amount away from being able to pay for my dissertation credit hour for the spring. I'll defend my prospectus, get official ABD status and be more hire-able and marketable for future work. I'll feel better about myself and the life I've invested in my studies and my career. And I'll be more mobile, free, less encumbered by the physical and emotional clutter that surrounds me. So while there are moments the purging hurts a little, there is a true sense of satisfaction when I think about the big picture, the things are important in my life, my dreams and goals. And I'm reminded of how resourceful I am, that I land on my feet, that this clever purging is indeed an exercise in self-preservation. So, goodbye Battlestar Galactica dvd's, goodbye Italian language disc set, goodbye self help books that Mira left behind. Good riddance.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jogger's Revenge

I have always enjoyed working out and being physically active. Gymnastics as a kid; leaping, bounding and hiding from the cops as a teenager; aerobics classes as an undergrad to bump me up to full-time student status; impromptu living room dance parties; committing hours of my life to the elliptical in my late 20's and subsequently losing 25 pounds and a big giant ass because of it in my 30's. But I have never really enjoyed running distances or running at all. Boring, painful, utterly loathsome. Hard landings from gymnastics messed up my ankles, shins and knees and the elliptical is a very forgiving machine for my dysfunctional bones and joints, but unlike when I lived in Richmond, I don't have a free gym 2 blocks away anymore. And the idea of running as opposed to the smooth glide of the elliptical sounded about as fun as plucking my pubic hair while drinking spoiled milk.

But I moved to Pittsburgh, just blocks from the amazing gem known as Frick Park (insert your favorite Frick'n joke here) and I have found that with the right shoes (thanks, Jeremy) and the right attitude (thanks, Colton) or the right amount of guilt for being a Glee-loving, Catan-playing, email obsessed computer/couch potato (thanks, society), that I have discovered how to jog, in fact, after a few miles into it and a warmed up body, I have discovered how to run.

Today, for instance, I jogged 4.5 miles with my Wilson in tow and walked an additional 1.5 for a total distance of 6 miles. It took just over 70 minutes. If you average the walk + run time, I'm doing about 11.66 minutes for every mile. That's not too bad, really. Okay, it's slow. I'd be the last person puffing and barfing at the end of a marathon or race, but I'm not so worried about that as of yet. Right now, the goal is to conquer my hatred of running/jogging and embrace the effects of cardiovascular fitness, increased energy, fresh air, beautiful scenery and let's face it, a hot looking body.

I've uploaded an app to my iPhone that tracks my distance and pace, so even if I cheat and walk a little bit, which I did today on the grueling uphill battlefield portion of my pathway, all is calculated and forgiven. The fact that after staying up until 3 am last night, tooling around the house, wasting time on my computer, not writing my dissertation and drinking beer, I awoke today, ate a solid breakfast, drank a ton of water, geared up and headed out the door with a very excited dog.

Other tricks that help me. Wear clothes you can sweat in, cotton undies and socks. Don't bring house keys. Do bring extra poop bags for Wilson. Running makes him shit. Do load up iTunes with extra crappy pop music like Lady Gaga because if there's one thing I've learned from all those hours invested in the elliptical, it's that a steady beat and dancy music keeps my body moving and makes time fly by - a true blessing. I also push myself further, move faster and if another great dance song comes on, like say Gaga's "Just Dance," well, then I just have to keep running, don't I? In fact, I'd like to give a big motherfucking shout out to that crazy bitch Lady Gaga, because without her I don't think I'd be running at all. And guess what happened post-run? I vacuumed my entire house, including the furniture, with a goddamned smile on my face and spring in my step.

Friends, don't fear for me. This change of pace, if you will, does not interrupt my steady diet of cheeseburgers, cheap red wine, and good music consumption. But I am happy to say that I certainly smoke far fewer cigarettes than ever before. Which is another tale for another time. Indeed, it is the happy balance of the best of all worlds that dictates this delicious harmony of my life.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gonna Be OKAY - Just Dance!!!

What's up in my periphery? Earthquakes in Detroit (and Toronto), Kwame handed 19 federal indictments (yes, I voted for him, but only his first time running, when he PROMISED SOOOO much for our city, I voted Freeman Hendrix in round two and lost), torrential downpours in Pittsburgh, a slow and silent and solo night at the homestead with the kids, a little thunder and lighting to keep Wilson and I on our toes, cats lurking in the shadows. There's a whirlwind of great change afoot, I can feel it. The tectonic plates are shifting, justice is being served, but it continues to rain in my dining room, so as much as things change and heave and bob and weave, they also stay the same.

Such as it is, with crashing booms and equally powerful yet non-descript moments of quiet reflective bouncing around and dancing and singing with no one here to see or judge or care, I find myself oscillating like the $20 Home Depot fan in my sweet light purple cave of a bedroom, between one side of love, one side of life, one side from here to there and back again with every subject and facet of life's strange adventures and unpredictable variances with a well-oiled ease. Moving smoothly, flawlessly perhaps, from having real love and a real relationship to the exact opposite, from having a friend who is a friend and not a lover to the exact opposite, from having a lover who isn't even a friend to the exact opposite. From being unemployed to employed overwhelmingly, from being re-charged into my phd work to suddenly underwhelmed by its presence in my life at the very critical moment I think I'm finally ready to jump through another hoop and knock it all out with a 1-2 KT punch. Nope, the fan keeps moving, keeps shifting from side to side, blowing my wits and bits off guard. I may not have felt the quake in PGH, but I feel it every day in my heart and my mind. Just dance.

It's also too hot to go for a run, which I'd love to do, though I'm slow and don't jog more than a few+ miles, but I go go go, hustle, and I blast my Gaga along the way. So instead I'll work on my web presence, rebuilding the site taken down long ago when the petty little twerp I spent five years with deactivated the website I spent a year building. It's okay, the fan blows that away too. When that gets boring, what I have control over right now is the way I sway, shake my hips and shoulders, the volume of the shitty dance pop music I'm blasting, the dishes in the sink that I can't wait to wash, the dirt on my face and hands, the dirtyness of my insatiable appetites left to deal with later. The whirlwind of change is here, it's now, and I know I can also, always control the speed of the fan with which the winds blow about me. I can also turn the fan off.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Baby Old Lady Kitty came home and I remember being 16

My little 17 years young old lady cat, a respectable if not a totally smelly pillar of yucky mucous, sophistication and adventure, took off last week Wednesday and was returned home this Monday evening by 3 sweet and kind little girls up the street. I want to kiss and hug these kids so bad right now. After days of searching, posting ads on Craigslist, putting flyers up around the neighborhood and overall prayers to the universe, Britches, aka Dragon Toes, Britchy, Stinky Britches, Grandma, Bwitch, is safe at home, and wearing a collar with her name and my phone number on it. The veranda from where she escaped is barricaded in an ugly way, but cat-proofed nonetheless. I want to make sure this 6 lb feline equipped with full-on liver failure and fearlessness holds on to what I'm certain is likely the last life she has in her tattered bag that once held 9.

Now, I'm not quite sure if Britches is 17 -- I actually think she is older since I have no idea her date of birth or from whence she came. I suspect she came from Long's Farm, which was right next to our subdivision in Commerce Township, where I lived from 16 until 19 with my then very drunken father, who said one day "Who's ugly grey cat is that?" My sister Katherine and I replied that we didn't know, and he said, "Well, she's yours now, I've been feeding her for weeks."

And that's how simple it was and it came to be that Britches would live a life of romance, recklessness, adventure, drama and happiness and travel along my side. From the farms of Commerce, to the indoor day-spa of dad's house, to the shithole apartments in Detroit, to the nice places in Detroit too, to Richmond and now on to Pittsburgh, Britches and I were only apart for one year in all this time, during which time sister Katherine, who lived next door, housed Britchy with Fifi as I felt I needed some time to be cat-free in my tiny studio apartment.. No less than 6 months later, I find Iago, twinkie-sized and scared shitless, screaming, hungry, he fit in the palm of my hand, in a nasty dumpster on Prentis and then 2 weeks later I adopted little teeny Jupiter, who is now a bully and a pig-cat, weighing in at kitty-sumo level of 21 lbs. And for all his love for humans, he is the alpha-male, he is the cat version of Eric Cartman. So, I brought Britchy back home with home and it's where she's been ever since. The boys, 12 this summer, know she is the Queen of the Castle.

Britches is also a friend to Wilson as much as she is a friend to humans and cats alike. As opposed to Iago and Jupiter, she likes Wilson, I dare say she loves him. It's part of her fearlessness, her friendliness, her willingness to accept and be part of the pack that makes her so special to me. He likes her too, he's not afraid of her like he is Jupiter, she doesn't taunt him, attack him, back him into corners, box his nose with her paws. She doesn't mind sharing space on my bed with him. (One mean look from Jupiter sends Wilson cowering, but don't tell anyone what a puss he is when it comes to pussy).

Her absence was heartbreaking. At worst I thought she'd run away to die - this liver failure is real, her senility is real, her craziness is real, death seems real. At best, I figured someone might have mistaken her for a kitten and decided to keep her. My ads were very clear, she is not a kitten! She is an old lady, the Betty White of cats! But in this absence I began to think of things I might have carried with me in my life as long or longer than her.

My name, for one. Some photos. A Stephen King book or two. And a pair of black Converse All-Stars I wore in high school and still have and that actually don't smell bad. What do you have from 17 years ago? From the time you were 16? It's a strange way to think about life, and death, and loss of not only the things and materials you love, but the living, breathing, loving creatures that grace us with their presence. I've spent half my life with this animal, this harbinger of sweetness and effection, and snot rockets the size of rockets, the color of electric green algae. I've spent what, thousands? of dollars on her food, litter, health care - including 2 surgeries to have her rotten teeth removed, which rendered her desensitized to treats, tuna juice, cheese, or any other delicacies other than her constant need for bowls full of her one and only culinary delight in this world -- original blue bag Purina Cat Chow.

Britches is my girl in my life filled with boys. Of all the boys and things and places and pieces of myself that I've loved and lost and changed and grown out of along the way, Britches has been with me, sleeping on my head, purring in my ear, looking at me with her beautiful huge green eyes, her Pixie Bob petiteness, with a devotion and care that keeps me humble, happy and human.

Welcome home little old crazy lady cat. I love you so much.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Friday Toast

Jameson Irish Whiskey is delicious, but did you know it is even more so with Pellegrino? As I sip on the last of the economy-sized gallon bottle of whiskey I bought just in case I go broke, feet up on the lovely veranda in my rustic-urban, shabby-chic flat, a gorgeous Friday evening in June winds down as do the pennies I've scraped up over the years and the student loan funds I have to start paying back in August. Yes, my tastes are refined, my palate luxurious on Irish booze and Italian water, but my accounts are empty. Thankfully I have my professional babysitting skills to rely upon!

So cheers, let's toast this Friday evening, a night of KT hanging in PGH, a rare Friday night off from aforementioned second career path, reflecting because that seems to be the theme of the day, to only celebratory occasions with class, sexiness and true joie de vivre!

I passed my comps, ahem, high passed.
Two essays + 3 days + 32 pages of writing and bibliography = One crazy lady.

Vacationed in Detroit. Except for Heather, I spent more time with more friends and family than all of last summer? The list: Heather, Greg, Zoe, Susan, Peter, Hernan, Natalia, their 3 cool NYC friends, Colton, Marianne, Leia, Klipper, Vaupel, Spivak and Spivak, Selmin, Carlson and Brandy, the regulars at Jumbo's, Allan, Beth, Sandy, Dave, Faina, Bridget, Jenny, the Cass folk at Beth's BBQ, Mom, Buddy, Katherine, Grant, Tobie, Kim and TC, Dad, Nancy, Winsome, Parker, Gunther, Matt, Meshawn, The Detroit Tigers, and host of familiar faces and places and smells and spells. Awesome.

Next, it was Slim and Kim, Episode Number 2. This time no spinning couches, but Greg having to get tough with a guy named Christy (for real) who wouldn't stop hitting on me at Brillobox. My lady-crush from the InSeams was there with pomped out bangs. I think I have a crush on her not because she's all hot, but because she sings in a fun band and plays guitar, and does so with such a calm cuteness and mellow ass-kicking-ness -- I think it's more of an admiration than a crush -- touching on my dreams of being in a similar band but settling for karaoke.

I have a new housemate too! Tim! After months of deliberation, hemming and hawing so much in that 2nd bedroom that I never got a fucking thing done in that 2nd bedroom, I made the decision to rent the second bedroom. The 101 Dalmations room. I moved all my shit out of there - all 1000 books, 200 records, 4 bookcases, huge Ikea desk and million other boxes of my life into different areas of the house -- by myself!!! Oh holy soreness the next day! Looks amazing, a complete transformation of my living/working space, with room to spare. Then on a whim I looked on the rooms/housing wanted section of CR and found an ad that I liked from someone who sounded not only like fun, but responsible, professional and easy-going and MALE, wrote my own ad and sent it to this person. Why male: because chicks are crazy. Then we met for coffee and lunch and hit it off really well. How well do you ask? Well, Wilson humped his leg and he didn't freak out! So Tim moved in last week sans furniture, which unbelievably still hasn't arrived. Making the best of it all, he's got a cozy space on my couch, covered nightly in cat-love and dog visits, until his life magically appears at our doorstop, date as yet unknown. But the 101 Dalmations are history, the room painted Midday Mocha with Chocolate trim -- a real man zone! Even inspired me to put a fresh coat of paint on both sides of the bowling lane length hallway in our railcar apartment. Place feels like home.

So while the Jameson thins out and the dining room window leaks something most foul, putrid and awful and some bill somewhere is late, pending, hounding me, I fondly toast again to Pittsburgh. I discard those few ugly moments when I regret moving. I don't blame Pittsburgh, I don't blame anyone for the weird rut and fact is, I love it here. We love it here, myself and my 4 kids. I live in a beautiful neighborhood, I can catch the bus anywhere, I am solo and single and there are many prospects, thanks to friends like Kathryn and Jeremy and my own strengths and marketability. Not to mention the least of which being I simply finish my PhD. Simply. Finish. My PhD. Simple.