Monday, March 29, 2010

Santa Monica!

On Saturday, I woke up and got ready for my mini-road trip to Santa Monica with my friend Jenny. We got to Santa Monica around 10:30 and headed for the Farmer's Market. Hillcrest's is definitely better! I think there are actually a few more farmers represented at Hillcrest and there were only 2-3 prepared food vendors rather than the whole aisle of them at Hillcrest. I love that about Hillcrest- do I want tacos, Thai food, paninis, etc!? Brunch at the Farmer's market is one of my faves (no bloody mary though, boo!). So, after we walked around 3rd St promenade, we went to Anisette, a French bistro and had mussels and a salad for brunch/lunch preceded by half a pain au chocolat each.

Then we drove to Will Roger's State Park and went on a 2-2.5 mile easy hike to a really pretty hilltop. Then we drove through Topenga Canyon but skipped the hike.

On the way back, we stopped on Montana Ave and went on a long walk and window shop/went into stores. I bought a sailor stripe shirt that I really wanted and a cool black shirt. After the drive, we got back and I went for a run from SM to Venice Beach. I was under a little bit of a time constraint so I didn't see Muscle Beach, but someday! Then we went to JiRaffe which was amazing.

To start, I had a blood orange cosmo- delish but no muddling. Jenny's drink had mint and kumquats vigorously muddled and it was delicious! There was also vodka, lime and simple syrup so it was almost like a mojito variation. I had one later- I definitely want to replicate the recipe!

Then dinner was awesome. I got a tomato tart with buretta cheese on phylo while Jenny got the purple gnocchi with shrimp. Both were really good but the highlight for me was my lamb dish. Yum, yum! It was a rack of lamb with 5 meat lollipops. Jenny got Scottish salmon, which was also delish. We shared the main courses and it was awesome. Dessert, like we needed it, was a sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream that we split. Then we went to a bar and had a final drink before turning in. I had a drink with Pimm's in it, which I had never had before. It tasted like a liquid riccola cough drop. So, not terrible but a little too medicinal for my drinking tastes.

Sunday morning, we woke up at 8:30 and ran to Venice Beach and had brunch at 3 Square Café and Bakery. I had the bread pudding French toast which was tasty but weird since it came in 2 thin slices, like they had made a meatloaf, but it was French toast. It also came with eggs, bacon, and BBQ beans made with chickpeas. Yum, but nothing AMAZING. I've had better brunches in SD. Which, granted, is pretty stiff competition.

Then we walk/ran back to the hotel, got ready and checked out. We went to Anthropologie, which is a pretty cute store but expensive and I didn't find anything that I wanted enough.

Then we went to the Getty, which is stunning. I want to go back and go on a tour that describes the architecture. It was an amazing complex of buildings and gardens. We also saw sketches by Da Vinci, paintings by Rembrandt, and some European paintings and sculptures.

Afterwards, Jenny needed a snack so we went to Diddy Riece and I got an ice cream sandwich- peanut butter ice cream on a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie and a white chocolate chocolate cookie. Yum! The ride home had slightly heavier traffic than going up but it was still pretty straight forward. I went to work to write an email to Mechen then I went home and crashed.

It was an awesome weekend and I love the mini-road trip idea. I would like to go to Dana Point and San Clemente island as well as Palm Springs.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

DMV, a.k.a. the Star Wars bar scene

Today, I went to DMV and cursed CA smog laws! I have to get a smog test. This is NOT in accordance with the website. I went to MCRD to get the test and I learned that an automatic "FAIL" is generated by any car with a check engine light on. They were nice enough to send a mechanic out to check and verify that the check engine light was actually illuminated before telling me to get my car fixed before running the test. Actually, I'm being slightly sarcastic because, really Mr. Mechanic? Do you REALLY think I'm unable to recognize a light on my dashboard that's in the shape of engine as the mother-ef'ing "check engine" light? Maybe I'm just so stupid that I would confuse the oil can light with the engine light. Thanks for being a condescending a-hole...girls don't know anything about cars.

I feel slightly guilty about calling someone who was trying to do me a favor a mean name, but I just don't appreciate the motivating assumption that I was an idiot.

DMV itself was slightly more cheery than expected, but mostly because I was expecting a dungeon. The woman who inspected my car was quite nice and let me get back in line despite my number having been called when I was outside taking off my license plates. Thank you Misha! Thank you Lisa! Shout out to the nice people at DMV!

I also went to a Bar Method class this morning. By the time my 30 days are up, I will have gone to 19 classes. I love the classes. The combination of workout sub-sections and peppy music really make the hour fly by. I feel stronger and more flexible. No weight loss (slight boo!) but I feel leaner. I had really shirked from the strength training for several months and deluded myself into thinking that the scale staying the same meant that everything was ok, rather the lovely and insidious process of adding fat and losing muscle. Awesome-o. Not recommended!

Ooo, but what is recommend is Mumford and Sons. New love! And I bought tickets to see them at Belly Up Tavern. I'm so excited. They have a lovely mix of poetic lyrics and fast/slow parts to most songs. Although whoever writes the songs was seriously wronged by a former flame. Yikes. Some of the lyrics are withering. Hell hath no fury...

This weekend, Jenny and I are heading up to Santa Monica, followed by a Sunday spent at the Getty Museum. I'm excited for the mini-road trip!

And there's been an awesome email string among my college friends recently so I have a couple of "To Reads" to add to the list: The Help, Stieg Larsson's crime trilogy. The Larsson books are not in my usual genre but in 2008, only The Kite Runner outsold his first book.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fun weekend!

This weekend was so much fun and to cap it all off, Mechen called tonight! That was definitely the highlight. I miss that guy so much. But to go back to the beginning...

On Friday, Jenny and I went to Lancers to play several games of pool. I was completely off of what little game I have but it was fun and pretty chill. Art and Nate met up with us and we went to SmallBar for some food. I had the sliders last time, which were quite tasty and this time I ordered the corn dogs. They were delicious, but I definitely didn't eat both of them. That would have been a lot of corndog for sure. We had a few beers and had the most hilarious interaction I've had yet in a San Diego bar. Janet had come with two of her best friends, "Bestie" and "Boozer," who sounded more frenemy then friend as Boozer was talking to a guy at the bar whom Janet had seen first. Boozer apparently snagged him by "being all up against him and snuggling him into her fake boobs like this." Well, "this" involved Janet grabbing Art's bald shiny noggin and basically motorboating him against her chest. It was amazing. And it happened three times. I felt so lucky. I'm not so sure about Art.

Well, alas, Janet was unsuccessful in luring the man away from Boozer so she left in her silver Tiburon. *Sigh* Drunk drivers, major boo. Well, Bestie came out, realized Janet was gone and hauled Boozer out to the sidewalk to discuss how to get home. Boozer wasn't planning on going anywhere and told Bestie to take a cab. This resulted in a cat fight with lots of scratching and drunken punches being thrown, meaning they missed and kind of flailed. You know, when you try and hit a baseball and miss so you end up spinning around a few times with the bat? Exactly.

The patio closed at 10 and we moved in and I was pretty much done for the night. I wasn't really planning on staying out out, so we all parted ways.

The next day, I went to a Bar Method class. It was my sixth one in a row, which I think is a little much. I think the ideal balance is 3-4 days a week. My legs were pretty wiped although I still got a great workout.

Next up was brunch. Jenny had been scouting out Farmhouse Cafe, which we found out is a Sunday brunch only type of place. So we went to Adams Ave Grill. It was amazing. Slow service (understaffed) from a check perspective, but the food came out piping hot. It was delicious. I had a Belgian waffle with cooked bacon bits in the batter topped with cheesy grits and scrambled eggs. A bit heavy but awesome. The rest of the table ordered egg dishes although at some point, I need to con someone into getting the Lavender infused Creme Brulee French toast so I can have a bite.

After that I did laundry where I locked my keys in the car. I almost opened it myself but ended up calling a tow truck/opener. Then I washed and vacuumed my car, went to the commissary and cleaned the house a bit. Definitely an errand-y Saturday but I had to get things done.

Today, I went on the El Cajon mountain hike which was 12 miles of craziness. The trail winds its way over several sub-peaks so there's a lot of ups and downs meaning walking out is just as hard as walking in (ok, maybe a little easier). It was fun but my legs feel like lead!

Afterwards, Nate and I went to South Beach Bar and Grill and I got two Baja fish tacos. Amazing. I had some ice cream from Whole Foods afterwards and a nice nap. BTW, I hate when people self-righteously assess other people's food at Whole Foods. I'm not vegan and I dig ice cream. Zip it!

Finally, the highlight of my weekend was talking to Mechen tonight. I'm the luckiest. It was great to hear his voice, although it completely reopens the slight amount of compartmentalization I am able to achieve and I miss him so much. Oh well, just a few short (yeah right) months left.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amazing Read!

I just finished "Stones Into Schools." It was amazing. I read it in 24 hours and was so inspired. The fact that one man can start a movement that ends up larger than himself and empower so many people who have the most at stake in their own home country is amazing.

I resisted reading "Three Cups of Tea" for the longest time. Oprah + book clubs + a really bad experience with "Eat, Pray, Love" (hate that book) left me wary of memoir/movement/be a better person type of writing. I ended up really liking it and being inspired, although I often wondered how his wife did it. Not in a disparaging way because I completely understand what it's like to date someone who's so often so far away. But rather, due to residency and the Navy, I have no concept of what it's like to have a job where you can be a single parent and make it work, which she seems to have done admirably well. [Aside: there are definitely single parents who make it work in medicine and in the military and I am in complete awe.]

This book, though, was unbelievable. Life can be such a coin toss and so poised on the brink of incredible joy and unmitigated disaster. But the perseverance, perspective and strength of the Afghan and Pakistani people took my breath away. I devoured the book. In this recommendation, I don't want to give a synopsis or parse the message. Read the book.

Perfect Healer!

I am a "perfect healer" and "everything looks great" according to Dr. Pham. Yes, post-op day 10 from LASIK and I'm good to go! No activity restrictions which, oddly, has suddenly quelled my desire to go swimming that sprang up when I was told that I couldn't. My eyesight is great! I have occasional dry eye that's super minimal. It feels like a long day with contacts in and is easily remedied by a drop or two or a couple of hard blinks. The night time halos are down to pre-op levels and there's definitely no star-bursting with night lights. I am SO happy with my decision to get the surgery. The biggest difference is just opening my eyes in the morning and seeing perfectly. I also love working out without glasses or contacts. It makes intervals so much easier. Finally, I can't wait until Mechen gets back and I can see him clearly all the time!

I also really like the Bar Method classes. I feel like I'm getting stronger and can do the ab work more effectively. This week was kind of a breakthrough b/c I got the moves down a little more and I'm slightly stronger in the core so the workout intensity actually went up. When I first started, my body would kind of wilt into semi-compensation postures because I wasn't strong or coordinated enough for everything to flow perfectly. Now I have the timing down a little bit better and I can get my body into the right position for almost every sequence. I still have a l-o-n-g way to go before I ever look like a bar pro (or even semi-pro). Although my legs are straight, I still can't raise them even close to high enough but it's exciting. This workout will be effective for a long time to come. I'm going to finish my month and then resume once I get back from Denmark. I'm currently debating whether or not I should buy a DVD for the trip but I don't want to be made fun of by my brothers and sister. Some things never change plus I always feel so goofy when I'm halfway through, super tired and my limbs are making these pathetic, gasping movements.

I accomplished something on my "Things to Do before I'm 30 list." Now the list is rather modest since I turn 30 in about 3 weeks but I wanted to take advantage of a discount ticket program. I went to see "Lost in Yonkers" at the Globe Theater in San Diego. It was very good and I got to see it for $20. The stage was a circle-in-the-square type with a pit that allowed for excellent stairway entrances. The acting was pretty stellar. There are a lot of family fights in the play and the whole theater, which is quite small, felt like it was full of tension.

Hmmm, "Things to Do Before I'm 30." I will make a list. And then maybe make a list of what went down in my 20's and what I'd like to accomplish in my 30's. The best things about the future plans list will be looking at it 10 years from now and seeing in how many ways, life refuses to be planned and things still turn out pretty amazingly.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bar Method

So, in my never ending quest to try every workout and stick with none, I tried the Bar Method workout yesterday. Even before I had tried my first class, I bought the unlimited month of classes for $100. I'm fairly intrigued b/c it seems that it must really be able to hook a large number of people because there are definitely a lot of regulars and the price goes up significantly after the first month. If I do decide to stick with it though, there's a military discount which makes the price a little more tolerable.

The workout was hard! I knew it would be but still, it's unbelievable that those little movements can cause so much pain. The pain is different from other workouts I've tried. Normal pain usually involves feeling muscle fibers tear and ligaments overstretch which makes me dread the stiffness that I know will come the next day. The bar method pain is just complete and total muscle fatigue without destroying it so while I'm sore in certain areas today, I can definitely go back again tonight. I'm going to try and go 5 times a week for the next four weeks to maximize the chance that I'll see a significant change that will make me want to stick with it.

Overall, the class was a mix of size, ages and shapes although thin, buff and early 30's dominated. One girl's shoulders in particular were ridiculously toned. I usually keep to myself during workouts out of habit from years of running solo, but it was helpful to peek at people to figure out what the heck was going on since the instructor didn't do very many of the exercises. She moved around a lot to correct positioning but certain verbal instructions were hard to implement without a visual.

I'm also going to keep my cardio routine in place for two reasons: 1. I have my half marathon at the end of April and 2. when I gave up running to devote all my time to P90X, I gained about 7 pounds that I'm trying to work off right now. Those pounds, btw, were definitely not all muscle. So, even though the American founder Burr Leonard is against running for several reasons, I'm going to keep it up. I plan on tracking myself both by weight loss (hopefully!) and how my corduroys that are too small currently fit. Hopefully I can fit into them by the time I go to Denmark because they are super-cute. Unfortunately, cords tend to become uncute very quickly if one tries to stuff herself into them. Cords definitely need to be a touch loose to look right, rather than oh-so-wrong.

Monday, March 1, 2010

February Recap!

*Sigh* Blogging once a month is NOT meeting my New Year's Resolution at all. I should have known but really, I am going to do better! My life just isn't as travel and action packed anymore now that I'm a boring resident but February was pretty fun. So...

Highlight of the month? LASIK, baby! I went in on the 9th of February and had the procedure on Saturday. I love it! My eyes are still healing as evidenced by halos from artificial light sources (hi computer screen) but it's really mild. I cannot believe that I can wake up and I am sans contacts but seeing 20/20. It still feels like I have contacts since things are a scootch dry but things will get better over the next week and even better over the next 1-3 months.

I also feel a little bit dorky since I feel that it's amazing that my eyes were fixes with LASERS!

A few other highlights: I purchased my ticket to Copenhagen. I'm leaving in April and staying for two weeks. I'm also going to visit my sister in Zurich and take another side trip somewhere, likely Norway? I'll research it after the inservice exam this Saturday.

I had another amazing meal at Starlite. There fixe prix menu on Tuesdays is unreal: 3 courses for $20. My friend and I had beer cheese soup (amazing, really!), shepherd's pie and blood orange mousse for dessert. I've been drinking red wine more lately rather than the Starlite Mule, but that drink does have a very special place in my heart.

Not being able to remember everything is definitely firming up my resolution to blog more. March is going to be pretty awesome with the inservice being over soon, a trip to L.A. and the Getty museum, seeing a play (more later) and likely, a few good meals in San Diego. After an amazing brunch at Cafe Chloe this weekend, I am stoked to try El Camino where our waitress had a second job. But their Taco Tuesdays may compete with my Starlite love affair! Oh no!