Success is mine, finally! After living in the new digs for over a month, I bothered myself to unpack on a rainy weekend day. It sucked nearly as much as swimming for exercise. For some reason, unpacking the last few boxes in a studio apartment took hours and hours and hours. Now that it’s done, I don’t want to touch anything but leave it undisturbed until it’s time to pack up and move again.

Get in line boys!  It’s a pool selfie.

Let me just come out and say swimming for exercise sucks immensely.  This flick was snapped before I started flailing around in the water.  Had I taken this photo after the swimming sesh, I would have looked more disgruntled.

I’ve been saying for years that I want to start swimming to save my knees from running.  My foot betrayed me first and since I haven’t run in a month, I started considering those endless pools in the gym (the small ones with the jets that make a current to swim against).  

It certainly did not go as well as I envisioned.  It’s been a LONG time since I’ve really swum, and today I learned I can only go a few strokes before I’m out of breath, water is in my nose, the goggles feel janky, my arms are tired… you name it.  Cumulatively, maybe I swam for five minutes. 

And I know you’re not really supposed to compare yourself to others at the gym, but how could I not when the be-Speedoed man with a Phelpsian bod jumped in the pool next to me and swam for an uninterrupted thirty minutes?!

Also, swimming caps really help you put out the vibe.

A few friends have recommended the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which you can see on Netflix.  What a match made in heaven because my biopic would be entitled CJK Wants Sushi with the subtitle And Watermelon.  For a food that I was unwilling to try until the age of twenty, it has certainly fast tracked to my all time favorite.  JT and I had our first date at a sushi place, our favorite restaurant is sushi, my main desire for an extended layover in Tokyo was sushi, and hell, I was even eating a sushi bowl (B sent this recipe to me, YUM) while watching this movie.

The movie is about Jiro, a master sushi chef who is a perfectionist above all else.  To say the man is dedicated to his craft is a Godzilla-sized understatement (or should I say a “tuna-sized understatement;” those things are real honkers of the sea.)  Apprentices learn from Jiro for ten years before they go on to their own top-tier chef careers.  His older son will take over his restaurant and the other son opened a companion restaurant in…. get ready for this, D…. ROPPONGI HILLS! Roppongi Hills is the mall-esque place where D and I spent 90% of our time in Tokyo. We even ate sushi there but I think we would have known if we’d been in Jiro’s son’s restaurant because the meal would have been about 30,000 yen.    

This documentary covers everything from the fish market to the rice vendor to seating charts to sustainability.  The behind-the-scenes ingredient prep was real eye-opening.  I’d never make it in that kitchen.  I could maybe peel the ginger or make the rice, but I’d chunder handling the octopus.  

Everything was going splendidly until I got to the part where Jiro busted out a 20 course sushi tasting menu.  Then he said, “I make smaller portions for the women.”  WHAT?!?!?  His reasoning was the pace of the meal, smaller portions for the ladies and larger for the men so everyone finishes simultaneously.  I wonder what he’d have done if D and I walked in because if two words were to come to mind to describe us in Tokyo they would be “BIG AMERICANS.”  For $300, I want the man portion.  One of his female customers politely said, “That’s so considerate” when she heard about this, which about perfectly contradicts my reaction.  I bet Japanese people don’t get quite as hangry as we do.

Above all, this documentary reminded me how much I loved Japan.  I don’t think I could begin to identify what it was that made me immediately like it so much (heated toilet seats?) but man, I think I want to live there.

I’ve decided that I would like to become good at yoga.  After a month of actual “practice” in a studio and not dicking around in front of an on demand video, I finally had a moderately successful class tonight (this was probably because the class had a lot of bros, and comparatively I was better than those meatheads [but barely]).

I tried my hand at learning yoga last year and stuck with it for about five minutes.  But this year my exercise routine came to a grinding halt when I was too lazy to replace my shoes in a timely manner and ended up with an extremely painful heel and foot.  So, no more running.  I’ve been forced to join a gym to find low impact exercise while my foot gets better (at the rate this is going I’ll be back running in…. never).

I look like that Aflac duck in yoga class.  I spend half the class looking around trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing and the other half wiping sweat from my brow.  Each move involves intense concentration, flexibility, and balance, none of which I’d consider strengths of mine.  So, even something like Downward Dog is an effort and causes me to SWEAT, which in turn causes me to slip incessantly on the mat.  My God, for a non-cardio workout it’s like I’m bursting forth a waterfall from my skin.  One time the teacher came to correct my posture and she had to touch my sweat-soaked back… we were both horrified.  And just to be clear, this was most certainly not “hot yoga.”

At least I’m getting some physical benefit from yoga.  What I am not getting is any sort of spiritual calm (and I don’t think anyone would when they’re on sweat high-alert.)  I will likely forever be inhaling when everyone else is exhaling and vice versa, and when asked to set an intention for the day’s practice I briefly wish not to topple over and then my mind drifts to what I might get to eat after class.  But my favorite part of frou frou yoga is the ommmmmmm nonsense from the teachers.   Among my favorites:

  • "Feel your omnipotence."
  • "…the brackish cup depleted from a desert journey…"
  • "…a cave cloven from a thunderbolt…"
  • "The greatest gift you can give the universe is being yourself."

Maybe visualizing empty cups and lightning-forged caves will help me stand on my head someday, maybe not.  In the meantime, it’s kind of nice to do something besides running and more importantly, I really hope that my butt looks good in yoga pants after all this work.

Not pictured here from our marathon beerfest this weekend- CIRCUS FOLK!  Imagine my delight when the people next to us appeared wearing leotards, glittery face paint, shimmery hair, and red noses on strings around their necks.  At first I assumed they were weirdo attention seekers, and it turns out I was right (nailed it)!  I overheard them talk about their circus work and as glamorous as that sounds, you prob don’t want to get involved.  Every time one of their circus friends joined the group, everyone had to do ten squats.  That’s probably why their legs looked good in leotards whereas mine were reclined on a chair because they could no longer support my bod with so many liters of the sweet nectar coursing through my veins.

Abroad by Katie Crouch is STRONGLY based on the Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher study abroad/murder/Foxy Knoxy case, though it’s told through the victim’s perspective.  Their study abroad experience, murder and jail time excluded, was the opposite of mine.  My weekend getaways weren’t spent seducing old men at private castles; they were spent trudging through the rain looking at castles I couldn’t afford admission into.  Instead of fine dining with my rich friends I learned to cook pasta in a microwave and ate it while watching YouTube videos and sitting on my futon bed because that was the only seating in our flat.  And rather than cutting class to do drugs and such, I walked many miles to work each day and spent my time there eating instant soup from a mug and saying, “What?” every time a coworker addressed me because their accents were incomprehensible.

The characters’ activities in this book are over the top.  If that’s how this group really behaved, it’s not too shocking that someone went down.  However, all of this makes for a pretty good beach read, especially if the Amanda Knox case interests you.

After a blah week of workplace robberies, slow mo unpacking, and a crappy cable connection that just won’t play ball no matter how many times I call Comcast, I was more than ready for JDP to arrive on Friday for the Jason Aldean concert (with Florida Georgia Line). We’ve had these tickets for nearly five months and could not wait for the show. Jason Aldean did not disappoint. Each song he played was better than the last and he even did “Tattoos on This Town,” one of my faves. I’d never put much thought into his appearance until Friday, but damn, that man knows what he’s doing. He looks like a real everyman- relatable to most dudes in this country (except perhaps the coastal snobs). He wore a cowboy hat (obvs), a short-sleeved button-down plaid shirt, and those chains that boys wore on their belts circa junior high. Everything about him screamed “Middle America” and I and the entire sold out crowd at Nats Park ate it up. Not only did he play hit after hit, he punctuated a whole bunch of songs with Fourth of July-rivaling fireworks.

While Mr. Aldean went with the approachable regular old Joe look, his fans went with the PAF look (patriotic). I think every bro there tried to out-America the others. The winner: a guy in a tank top with two arrows pointing to his arms and the line, “Obama can’t control these guns.”

Pack your bags, JT, we’re moving to Nashville. Need more country and Middle America in my life.

It finally happened- I’ve put Virginia in the rearview and moved to DC. I’m living in Dupont and for two glorious weeks I’m close enough to work to walk instead of taking public transit (my office is moving at the end of the month.)

Packing up the Arlington apartment took forever and a half. I lived in that complex for four years and damn did I ever accumulate a lot of stuff. JT said you can either treat packing as a “life cleanse” or a “throw everything in a box and get the hell out.” I tried the cleanse approach, at least until the last couple days. I’m downsizing space, especially closet space, and I think I donated no fewer than 15 bags of clothes, and I’m still left with so many that they exceeded all luggage. Why do I wear the same few outfits on repeat?! And, more frustratingly, how did I manage to accumulate so much paperwork?! Why do I still have bills from 2010?! And for the love of God, WHY IS THERE SO MUCH LOOSE CHANGE EVERYWHERE?!

And now I’m in the new space staring at all these boxes. B moved to DC and had her place unpacked and decorated in two days. I may be unpacked in two months, but I’ll probably never get it decorated. No need for paintings or pictures on the walls- I’ll be too busy staring at a screen of some sort to even notice them.

As I slowly take things out of boxes and wait for the cable installation, I’ve been exploring the new neighborhood. SO MANY DELICIOUS PLACES TO EAT. To counteract that, I’ve found a new park to run stairs in and I’m trying a new yoga studio tonight. I’m sure these activities will fall by the wayside once I have access to the Food Network again.

Looking forward to having people over soon! Now no one can give me the excuse about not wanting to go alllllllllll the way out to Virginia.

By chance, my Dutch amigo from grad school was in Chicago last week visiting his gf while I was in nearby F-fort.  These two are a career power couple: he works at Google in Dublin (free food! a pool!) and she is running her own company, LuminAID (the namesake product is a solar-powered, inflatable light that can be used in a variety of applications, most notably to help with natural disasters and the like.)  Despite the Dutch loss in the World Cup semi earlier in the day, we enjoyed some margs at Salseria in the Sears Tower (or Willis Tower, to those who are nouveau chicago) and then went to another bar, where I got after it in what B described as “a late sprint to the finish with those stouts.”  

B and I were able to meet up again later in the week to lounge by a pool.  It was, most certainly, a “hard body pool” so after seeing all those 10s soaking up rays, we immediately went for deep dish pizza.

Fingers crossed we can meet up again in Dublin sometime this year!

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! It is, after all, the best holiday of the year. Beer, BBQ, and boats- it’s everything the Founders envisioned and more. We spent the weekend in beautiful Pure Michigan where the days were lovely, the nights were hypothermia-inducing, the shots looked like watermelons, and the conversation was alternatingly patriotic and off-color (probably thanks to the aforementioned shots or the giant bucket of sangria we put down).

Leaving MI is always a crushing disappointment, so I’m going to console myself with upcoming summer fun like Jason Aldean, kayaking, and a POOL PARTY. Man, I love July.