Friday, June 23, 2006

Corporate Challenge: A Joyous Occasion to Skip

Ever since I moved to New York and had a full-time job, I’ve partaken in a bit of company-driven group activity such as the Corporate Challenge. I’ve run in this race for the last 3 years and like every year, I wonder why I even bother, since the next day I always end up feeling like crap for a number of reasons...
  • Managerial Wrath
    To get to Central Park in enough time to start the race at 7pm, I’m forced to tear myself away from whatever it is that I’m working on and haul ass all in the name of my physical and emotional well-being, not to mention my apparent “work/life” balance. Well, each year I arrive to the office the next day and end up feeling like a moron because I’ve missed the boat on something, which is entirely not within my working style, in fact far from it. Naturally, I’m in a foul mood.
  • Claustrophobic Frustration
    Anyone who has run in this race knows it’s one of the biggest races in New York City next to the Marathon. So as you can imagine, thousands of runners all packed onto West Drive between a few measly uptown/downtown blocks does not lead to a pleasant situation for the post-work anxiety-fest that most City workers feel. Getting bumped around by sweaty, rude people is not exactly conducive of a pleasant jog around the park.
  • Heat Wave
    June in New York. Need I say more?
  • Bobbing & Weaving
    Once the wild-eyed mob actually starts to move forward it can take upwards of 10 minutes to even get across the start line. After that you spend the first mile running in a zig-zag motion to avoid the walkers and slower runners, leading to a slightly disappointing 10-minute mile at best. At mile 2 it sort of gets better, but then gets worse again at mile 3 when all the people who thought they were rock stars tunker out and start walking. Begin zig-zag pattern once more. In a nutshell, when running a race, the time naturally matters, and this race consistently disappoints in that my Corporate Challenge time is always my worst race time of the year. Thus defeating the purpose of racing in the first place.
  • Post-Race Binge
    After running for the sake of my waist line, you'd think I'd refrain from partaking in the post-race festivites with my co-workers at a place like Brother Jimmy's. Oh no. After a few beers, ample portions of bbq wings, rib tips, chips and dip, jalepeno poppers and quesadillas, not to mention a short bout of "fishbowl racing" - it essentially leaves my stomach in shambles. Just in case you were wondering, I'm fasting today as a result and not by choice.
So as you can see, the experience has its many downfalls, and today I'm totally paying for it. I think next year, I’ll skip the agony, annoyance and frustration of doing the Corporate Challenge and instead spend the evening of the race in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment with a quality glass of wine in hand after a fulfilling day at the office.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

It Could Be Worse

As you may have noticed I’m sort of a stickler for self-soul searching and trying to do things that make me happy. I think it’s important that everyone does this because what’s life if you’re not happy, right?

Well, while doing some reading online, I stumbled across a quiz entitled “Is Your Life Wearing You Down?” Always interested in self-reflection, I took the quiz thinking I’d do ok...

I scored a measly 64 out of 100…definitely room for improvement.

Apparently, I need to make some adjustments in my life to up my score - things like drink less coffee, balance my budget and…(drum roll please)…have more sex…(as if that doesn’t come as a shocking revelation)…I mean, of course having more sex would make us all happier. Shocker!

Intriguing how some of my gal-pals seem to be in similar predicaments...I mean, we're way too fabulous to be in this situation!

Take the quiz. Hopefully some of you are more “satisfied with your relationships” than I am.

Lifestyle Quiz

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Culture Shock

So…I’m back in the big bad city, trying desperately to retain my mellow state-of-mind that I was able to latch onto while at home. My week in the Midwest was fantastic. I got a tan, hung out with family and friends, got some good workouts in, and – surprisingly – got into a very solid sleep pattern. All in all…fantastic rejuvenation time.

I have to say though, upon my return to the city, I awoke and went to work on Tuesday and actually felt slightly culture shocked. I was sandwiched between a 16-year-old punk and a 65-year-old woman on the subway when it dawned on me that the whole scene was bothersome. I’ve of course acclimated myself back into reality, but it is funny to think that a short 10 days away from New York could pull me so far out of the mindset of living here.

Now that I’m back, my goal is to try and stay grounded for as long as humanly possible and not get all rattled again by the pace of life, frustrations on the job and woes of living in an apartment that is the size of my parents living room. In a nutshell…connect the better halves of myself and keep them connected.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reporting from the field…literally…

Every time I come home I’m quickly reminded how infinitely different my life is in New York. Instead of $10 martinis there are $2 draft Leinie’s. Instead of Pravda, there is The Buck. Instead of Central Park, there is infinite wide, green space and miles of running track better known as a state trail. Instead of a pricey (albeit delish) meal at Blue Smoke, there is a home cooked meal over the backyard Weber grill. Instead of a $4 Starbucks coffee, there is a local establishment that comes fully loaded with fireplace and board games.

In a nutshell, life in a small Midwest town is a direct juxtaposition of urban life. What I love about New York I could never have here, but what I love about home I could never have in New York, and I’m beginning to think my personality is connected in the same way.

I came home to partake in a series of family events: graduation, recitals, birthdays, grad’s truly a jam-packed 10 days. But I also was looking forward to coming home to decompress. My mom has always said it takes me three days of being here to “normalize” (i.e., lose the City ‘tude and start acting like a normal person). Sadly...she is a little bit right. I’ve now passed the 3-day threshold and I’ve started to see more clearly.

Whenever I am here, I feel there are certain parts of myself that I shouldn’t show because I’ll just come off as a brash, “big city girl.” So, my blunt nature morphs into a fog of politeness and smiles. No one here understands why I left the Midwest for such a place and I’m always caught explaining myself. "It’s so big and far away." "Isn’t it dangerous?" " Elle, how do you like it 'out there?'" Fellow high-school graduates now have houses next to my parents place, and neighbors with three kids under the age of six are now closer to my age than my parent’s ages. It’s a different world out here.

On the contrary, I also tend to leave parts of my Midwest self here when I board the plane back to the City. New York takes the uber-niceness out of me and I turn back into this shrewd business-minded woman, hell bent on making a decent living. I get on the subway each day and keep my headphones on and head down until my stop. It’s almost robotic at times. Never would I go running in Central Park and wave at every single person who I passed. Here, it would be rude not to wave! Finally, a certain innocent, non-chalant and unharried air dissipates into always havng a destination and goal in's never about the journey getting there.

This past Memorial Day was the fifth anniversary of me hauling myself cross-country to move into New York. So, why is it, after all this time that I’m feeling there are bits and pieces of myself that never have existed at the same time together? Is it possible for the good parts of small town and urban life to coexist?

I’ve still got seven days left here, but I’m going to enjoy every minute of it and ponder ways that I can stay normalized when back in the big bad apple. Not thinking about how to make my client money, how I look, how I'm going to fit in all the crap that doesn't really really quite refreshing. I've regained a clear state of mind and I hope that I can return to my little shoebox on the west side with some semblance of that clarity.

Monday, June 05, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I’ve always been relatively conscious about the environment. I recycle. I turn off lights when I leave the room. I opt for paper over plastic. I write my congressmen. You know, the usual. I think about how our world is deteriorating before our eyes, but to be quite frank, I haven’t really been motivated enough to go above and beyond to make things better…until Sunday. I saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth,” and after hearing his presentation on the state of our mother earth, I can now effectively say I might have to venture into “green” territory.

In a nutshell, the film is a documentary about a PowerPoint presentation that Mr. Gore has been tweaking and presenting over the years to audiences all over the world. Pieces of his presentation are overlaid with tones of political strife, real world accounts of environmental progress and failure, as well as autobiographical references to how Mr. Gore came to care so much. It’s hands down the most motivating documentary I’ve seen since Fahrenheit 9/11.

Of all the science out there on melting polar ice caps, rainforest destruction, glacial retreat, extinction of species, air pollution, oil consumption…the film pieces all of this together into a clear and concise picture of how everything is connected and NOW is the time to get truly concerned. Not just concerned for how our government is handling the situation, if at all, but also concerned about the modern world’s blatant apathy for a true need for urgent action.

Go see the movie. You’ll leave with a different perspective on the world we live in, and be truly motivated to do something beyond recycling and turning off lights.

To learn more about what you can do, visit

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Artificial Drunkeness

I’m not a big drinker of Red Bull, mainly because of the sheer amount of calories in that tiny little can. I will, however partake in a sugar-free Red Bull on occasion, mainly when I need an intense and drug-like boost in my level of drunkenness, and only in places like Las Vegas. I know what you’re thinking, you think I’m slightly prudish and uncool because I don’t guzzle down this trendy mixer whenever I possibly can. Whatever.

So, I’ll tell you why I refrain.... I was a sugar free Red Bull-a-holic one evening past. It was a night full of debauchery, uncanny levels of high-energy boozing combined with an over-exerting social scene. It really was a night for the commercials. I likely consumed 4-5 sugar free Red Bull & vodkas and proceeded to wake up in the morning with the worst possible hangover of my entire life. I’ve keep the habit on the backburner ever since. Damn Red Bull.

**Note: I know it was the Red Bull because 4 years of binge drinking at a Big Ten school will teach a gal what she can really handle. Vodka is not the problem here.

A friend sent me an article today that allowed for the proverbial light to turn on regarding why my sugar free Red Bull hangover was so ghastly. Apparently, artificial sweeteners speed alcohol into the bloodstream making the drinker, drunker. The study found that the peak blood alcohol concentration was significantly higher with the diet drink than with the regular drink. In other words, all of us calorie counters are screwed.

As a closing thought I’ll leave you all with this…do you think this dispels the “mystery” on why New York is filled with so many drunk, skinny girls?

Artificial sweeteners speed alcohol into blood Reuters