Tag Archives: corgi

My mildly convenient superpower

7 Jun

I remember reading an AskReddit thread once about mildly convenient superpowers. I never really thought about what mildly convenient superpower I might want, until it occurred to me the other day that I might already have one.

Almost every time I fly or travel on a Megabus, I never have to sit next to a stranger. There’s always an empty seat next to me.

I thought it was just a fluke at first. It used to happen on my frequent Chicago-Cincinnati Megabus trips when the bus was only half full. But then there was a time the bus was completely full save for one empty seat, which just so happened to be next to me. It began feeling like a superpower.

It’s been so long since I’ve had someone sit next to me on a trans-Atlantic flight that I don’t even know where I would put my headphones or water bottle if they couldn’t go on the empty seat next to me. I flew back to London last week and made sure to select an aisle seat next to an empty middle seat. I almost got ambitious and selected a row with two empty seats (maybe I could actually stretch out and sleep?!), but knew that was too much of a risk. Some couple could come along and choose those two seats. I checked the seat map on the Virgin app every hour or so during my 5-hour layover in Boston and figured I was golden — the middle seat next to me remained empty. But then I checked one last time while waiting to board, only to see a little X on the empty seat — as well as on every single seat on the plane. It was a fully booked flight. My superpower had met its match.

A few minutes after I sat down, uncomfortably holding my giant headphones, toiletry bag and water bottle until I could figure out where to store them, a young man came and motioned to the empty seat.

“I’m seated there, but my girlfriend is in 55E — would you mind switching with her?” he asked. Stephen and I have asked people to do this many times and I was happy to pay it forward. Until I asked them to confirm the seat.

“55E? Is that a middle seat?” I asked. It was. I felt like a horrible person, but I had to turn down their request. Being stuck for 6+ hours with your knees touching one person is bad enough, there was no way I was going to do it crammed between two people.

“It’s no problem, we understand,” the girlfriend said, waved goodbye to her boyfriend, and headed back a few rows. The boyfriend immediately put on headphones and closed his eyes while I tried not to bump his legs digging for my iPad in my bag. It seemed my superpower was no more and I was going to have to suck it up, just like everyone else seated in economy. But then they closed the cabin doors and I felt a presence next to me. It was the girlfriend.

“Hey!” she said to her boyfriend. “There’s no one sitting next to me, come on back!”

And that’s how I knew I truly have a mildly convenient superpower.

super corgi

 

The thrill (and pain) of the 5K

29 May

Man, I forgot how exhilarating, exhausting, exciting and painful running a race is. I haven’t run a single race since the half marathon last September, and since Pokemon Go came out my runs have been focused on hatching eggs and catching them all, not piling on in the miles and increasing speed. But since my phone gets horrible reception in the US, these past few weeks have been a good time for me to work on running fast again.

The 5K is a weird race. It’s easy to brush it off as “only 3 miles” when you’re used to marathons and halfs. But to really race it properly, you have to go hard the entire time. As a recent article in Runner’s World put it: “If you reach the halfway point of a 5K race feeling calm, comfortable, and confident that you can maintain your pace to the finish line, you’re doing it wrong.”

That’s the mindset I went into this morning’s 5K race with: go out too fast, power through the [minor] hills, then hang on for dear life. I made a killer playlist that (ambitiously) was only 28 minutes long. It was a beautiful day for a barbecue, but for a run it was a scorcher. The sun was beating down the entire time and the course only had one small stretch of shade right before the finish. As expected, I went out too fast, was huffing and puffing on the “rolling hills,” but I never stopped to walk. The Runner’s World article stressed the importance of motivational self-talk during a 5K, so I tried different approaches: “Remember that time you ran 13.1 miles without stopping? You’ve got this last mile in the bag!” “The quicker you finish, the quicker you can see Cherry at the finish line and get out of the sun!” “The top 50 female finishers get an award!”

That last one seemed like a long shot — there were certainly a lot of people ahead of me, but were most of them men? I definitely saw only men pass me on the bridge out and back part. So I powered through. I kicked it into high gear during the last half mile. Sunscreen-laced sweat was pouring into my eyes behind my sunglasses and there was a brief moment I thought I might be sick. But then I remembered the final tip from that article:

“If you’re chasing a PR, you should seriously wonder whether you’ll make it to the finish.”

I full out sprinted when I saw the finish line in sight, passing two of the girls who were ahead of me the entire time. At the finish line they had separate men and women crossing points, and when I crossed a volunteer handed me a medal. I was feeling weak, a bit delirious, and like I had just ran way more than 3.1 miles, and I just assumed it was a generic finisher’s medal. But then the girl who finished right behind me got my attention.

“Is this for finishing in the top 50 women?” she asked, holding up her medal. It didn’t even dawn on me that that was why they had a separate female finish line point.

“I don’t know, that’d be great if it was!” I replied.

I put the thought out of my mind, collected all my food swag and found my parents and Cherry. I felt weird — more exhausted than I’d been in a while, short of breath, but also really excited. Even if I didn’t get an official award, I got an official PR. I was absolutely miserable during that last mile, and yet the minute I finished, I was already wondering when I could do another race. I guess the runner’s high is real and runners really are crazy.

And the proverbial cherry on top of it all? I checked the results online and I really did finish in the top 50 women! If I had run 30 seconds slower I would not have made it in.

corgi running gif.gif

She got the way to move me, Cherry

24 May

Remember how I posted 3 weeks ago that my parents’ dog, Cherry, didn’t like me?

Well, now we have a different problem. She likes me. A lot. And I like her a little too much too.

Before, she used to give a “does SHE have to come?” look on our family walks. Now she hesitates to walk unless I come too. It’s amazing how something finally clicked in her little head and she realized I was someone she could trust. I can understand why she was apprehensive at first — she got attached to her original owner and she dropped her off at a shelter, then she got attached to her foster mom and she dropped her off with my parents. But now my parents have had her for two months and I’ve been with her exactly one month, and she’s finally starting to feel like she has a real home with some stability. Which I’m afraid will only make it harder on her when I go back to London in a week. Will she still recognize me the next time I’m home? Will it take her over a week to acclimate to me being around again?

I say I’m afraid it will be hard on her when I go, but I also mean it’ll be hard on me. I told myself I wasn’t going to fall for her, which was easy when she didn’t care for me. After all, she’s not “my dog” in the same way that Squirt was. But she’s just so adorable, cuddly and friendly, I couldn’t help myself. I’ve fallen pretty hard for the little girl and her cute corgi butt. So for now I’m trying not to think about how much time we have left together and am just enjoying the time we have.

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Just because it’s your namesake doesn’t mean you can have any!

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We took her to a local dog-friendly tap room. (Don’t worry, she’s drinking water!)

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Cherry went on a playdate with her birth mom who’s still recovering from surgery. Here she is imparting some motherly advice!

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They were both vying for my attention!

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Cherry loves being with us — even if that means climbing onto the kitchen table while we play Mexican Train Dominoes! I love her little back legs subtly lounging.

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Fact: It is really hard to get work done when someone is splooting on you! (Splooting refers to the way she’s sitting with her back legs kicked out. It’s a classic corgi move, which makes me think she has some corgi blood in her. Squirt never splooted.)

Moving is the worst part 2: A stool story

21 Nov
corgi-stool

 A much better use for a stool

The thing I love about London is that you can carry a large wooden stool down the street, bring it on the tube, proceed to sit on it while riding the tube, then carry it down the street again and no one bats an eye. In America I’m sure at least someone would have quipped “Brought your own seat, eh? Smart!”

Why was I carrying a stool around London? I’ll get to that.

On Thursday we moved home — I believe that’s the phrase they use here, “move home,” along with “removal company,” which makes sense linguistically, but I still imagine the removal company removing all of your belongings and then taking them away forever when I see “removal” on the side of a van. But I digress. We moved and as I say every time, moving is the worst. We had the movers pack for us, which you’d think would make the process stress-free, but it was still completely mentally and physically draining. We didn’t get the keys to our new place until the day of, and discovered that not only did the previous owner not clean the flat whatsoever, but they took the chandeliers with them, meaning we walked into a nearly pitch-black flat. Stephen had to run out to buy £5 lamps at Argos just so the movers could see where they were going. So we had plenty to deal with at our new place, but things also had to be settled at our old flat. There was some miscommunication regarding the check out inspection and I found out Friday morning it was at noon and I had booked the flat to be cleaned at 2pm. So I had to frantically find a cleaner who could start as soon as possible and got the inspection moved to 2:30, the latest they could do. But before I could go over to meet the inspector, I had to supervisor the cleaners at our new place (who were not happy about all the boxes everywhere!), let in the guy to install our internet (superfast fibre, yay!) and wait for the sofa delivery. As expected, the sofa guys arrived 10 minutes before I had to go to meet the inspector at our old flat, so I let them in then asked the porter to supervise them. Then my stool and I were off.

About the stool — at our old place we took down some of the landlord’s curtains in the bedroom. I put them in the closet with the towels, but by the time I remembered we needed to rehang them, the movers had packed them up. Once we moved I dug the curtain out of the towel box. Time was of the essence because I needed to get to the flat before the inspector arrived and quickly hang it up. Because of the delayed sofa delivery, Uber was no longer an option, so my stool and I rode the tube. I got to the flat at 2:20pm — just in time to stand on my stool, hold the curtain up and realize I was missing curtain hooks.

Bollocks.

I explained to the inspector that I had the hooks at home in a box somewhere and could bring them later. He said it wasn’t his problem — his job was just to photograph and inspect the flat, which was still in a quasi state of disarray despite the fact that the cleaner had been working for 3 hours. I sat on my stool and waited for him to finish. Since the cleaner was still working and I had to lock up after her, he told me to drop the keys off at the estate agent’s office after the cleaner was done. When she finally finished, without thinking, I promptly packed up the items we had forgotten in the top closet, left the curtain in the wardrobe, and loaded my stool into an Uber to the estate agent. I carried my stool into the office, handed over the keys, then loaded my stool into another Uber to go home. There was no way I was walking it to the tube in the dark. When I got home I asked the porter how the sofa delivery went. He said he had something he must ask me.

“Why are you carrying that thing all around?”

I could only laugh.

It’s called the laugh of recognition / When you laugh but you feel like dyin’ – Over the Rhine

The next day I did nothing but unpack, yet the boxes seemed to be multiplying. And what did I find in the bottom of the towel box? (“Curtain hooks!” I bet you’re thinking, but no, the curtain hooks appear to be gone forever and I almost lost my mind searching for them.) Another curtain. Because of course the window has two curtains. So I need to make another trip to the flat. I guess I always needed to make another trip to the flat. Which begs the question: why the heck did I bring the stool all the way back?

So today my stool and I have another Tube date. Maybe I should go at rush hour just to have a seat. I can’t wait to see the porter’s face when he sees me and my stool again.

I’m already nostalgic and we haven’t even moved yet

16 Nov

On Monday I made my last trek to Aldi. It was dark, cloudy and rainy and I was tempted to hop on a bus, but knew I had to walk. I somehow figured if my last grocery trip from this flat was long and miserable, perhaps I’d feel less nostalgic for it once we move. I’m not sure it worked.

This week I’ve been hitting up all my favorite running spots around here since they’ll be farther away after the move. I told myself I could always run to Regent’s Park and Primose Hill from our new place, it would just be a long run. Though I don’t think I’ve run more than 5 miles at a time since my half 2 months ago. But if I get word there are good Pokemon in these parts, you know I’ll be back.

regents park autumn.png

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paddington rec ground autumn.png(Photos of Regent’s Park and Paddington Recreation Ground I took on my runs this month)

We hired movers to do our packing, but I still spent a lot of today organizing and packing things. We’re just moving a couple miles away, but I’ve got it in my mind that I will never see my belongings again — like when we made the initial move out here and our stuff was out at sea for 6 weeks. I’ve packed my suitcase for my European trip with my parents even though we don’t leave until Black Friday (9 days from now). Surely I will have unpacked the flat at least a little by then, but I convinced myself that if I don’t pack the selfie stick and travel adapters now, they will disappear in some box and I will never see them again. That is the downside of having someone else pack for you — you have no idea what’s in every box. But the way I’m acting lately, it’s like we won’t be able to open any of the boxes.

They always say moving is a good way to purge all those unnecessary items that don’t bring you joy, which is probably one of the reasons I hate moving so much. I hate getting rid of things, even if it is things I no longer use or haven’t touched since we last moved. Though I am getting better and — dare I say — even enjoyed a bit of the purging I’ve been doing. Please remind me of this when you find me curled up in a ball in a month lamenting about the new flat’s lack of storage space. I can do this!

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pug-puppies-box

(What I wish my moving boxes contained)

Moving is the worst: round 2

11 Nov

It still hasn’t hit me that we’re moving in 5 days. I realize I need to clarify when I say “we’re officially moving,” as I texted it to my friend the other day and she thought I meant to Asia or back to America. So in 5 days we’re moving into a new flat in central London. I remember reading somewhere that moving is one the most stressful things in life, especially on a relationship. Even when you hire movers to do all the packing for you (as we’re going to), there’s just so many things to consider and do. I cleaned out my closet for the first time in three years and donated 7 bags of clothing (OK, 3 of those bags may have been Stephen’s). I even found a belt I was sure I had lost in the Great Megabus Fire of 2014. Yet I still seem to have way too many belongings and our new flat has entirely way too little storage space. Stephen does not see the problem in this, but I lay awake at night wondering where I will store my shopping trolley in the new place and whether the kitchen has enough counter space for my collection of artificial flavouring. (Don’t ask. OK, you can ask. I put them in smoothies and oatmeal.) One of our biggest arguments during the flat search happened when Stephen wanted to buy a place that did not have a washing machine, dishwasher or freezer and didn’t really have any space for them. Luckily we did not go with that place. I keep forgetting that since this new flat will truly be ours, we can make modifications. We can completely redo the kitchen if we want and add cabinets and counter space galore. But that takes a lot of time and money. I’ve been looking at standalone wardrobes to put in the bedroom because there are zero closets in there — zero (WHY, OH WHY, DO YOU HATE STORAGE SPACE, LONDON?!), but we can’t buy it until we first strip the wallpaper and repaint the bedroom, which, again takes time and money. So while I’m looking forward to living in our new place — I’ll be able to walk to theatre day seat queues! — I am dreading that in-between phase where I’m tripping on boxes and living out of suitcases. And my parents will get to experience this with me, as they are coming to stay with us 6 days after we move. I still can’t decide if that is the best or worst timing ever. They’ll get to see our new place, but it will be in a state of disarray. I’ll also get to temporarily leave the chaos and accompany them on a journey through Europe as we visit our ancestors’ homelands. I’m looking forward to that, but all this moving stress hasn’t given me much time to plan the trip (or update the blog if you haven’t noticed). I’ve got a rough itinerary, all the transportation and accommodations booked, and Rick Steves books on my iPad, so I think we’ll be in good shape. If I can just get through this move first!

Completely unrelated, but since this post lacks pictures, here’s a photo of me in 30 years:

crazy-corgi-lady

A long-awaited wicked 4th of July do

10 Jul

I had a right proper American 4th of July for the first time in a long time. Although I don’t think any American would ever use the adjectives “right” and “proper” together, so they may be on the verge of taking my citizenship away. (I’ve already got one strike against me for no longer drinking my water with ice.) Even when I lived in the US, July 4th was never one of my favorite holidays. As a kid I hated the loud noises, and as an adult I hated the crowded and the heat. But this year I happened to be in Chicago on July 4, so some friends and I had some delicious barbecue, then met up with some other friends to watch what we thought was going to be an amateur fireworks display. On our walk over there we encountered some true amateurs attempting to set off fireworks, one of which went off a little too close for comfort. “Don’t you wish you were in Kensington Gardens right now?” My friend whispered to me. (This was minutes after she whispered “Don’t you miss the Tube?” after we walked right into a hobo fight on the L.) Oh, Chicago. Your trains and streets smell like urine and some of your people frighten me, but you sure know how to celebrate the 4th. When we finally arrived we saw them unloading a U-Haul full of fireworks and knew we were in for a treat (that, or a multi-ambulance emergency. Likely both). The firework display they put on was out of this world, and we were so close we could feel the vibrations. We topped off the night with a classy visit to a champagne bar, which we had practically to ourselves, because Chicagoans apparently enjoy blowing stuff up way more than throwing back the bubbly. It was a brilliant end to my nearly two weeks of traveling. (Also brilliant: the Megabus to Cincinnati left on time and nothing exploded. A successful ride!)

Now I’m in Kentucky, happy to no longer be a hotel nomad living out of a [jumbo] suitcase. I’ve been savoring all the quality family and friend time, and also playing Pokemon Go. Freaking Pokemon Go. As if hitting my Fitbit step goal wasn’t reason enough to walk around aimlessly. But I can save that for another post.

I’ll end with what is clearly a better mascot for America than a bald eagle:
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(My favorite instagram corgi, supercorgi_jojo!)