Summer schedule of an underemployed teacher

One of the many, many wonderful things about being a teacher (besides an excuse to wear flats and cardigans every day and, you know, change lives) is our long summers off. However, this is the first summer in my life that I have not traveled extensively or had a consistent part-time job. I get a lot of crap for it but please remember before you hate on me for this, as a teacher 1) I didn’t make the calendar 2) I wish EVERYONE could enjoy 9 weeks off alongside me, and finally 3) in past summers, I have been a beer cart girl at a golf course, a craft store associate, a grocery store cashier, a nanny, a process server (that was earlier this summer), a painter, an apartment refurbisher, a secretary at a law office, a tutor, a cleaner, a curriculum planner, and a hostess at a steakhouse. I’ve put my time in doing menial, occasionally degrading work (like the time I got repeatedly sexually harrassed as a beer cart girl) and I just don’t want to do it any more.

The long answer is I hate the tedium of retail, want a super-flexible schedule, don’t particularly feel like fake-chatting/smiling people up all day like I did in the restaurant or getting yelled at for not wiping down menus right. I also don’t really feel like acquiring a new, temporary skill set and I DEFINITELY do not want to change the diaper’s of someone else’s kid when, frankly, right now I would very much rather have my own baby. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I am good at is teaching Spanish. So I’ll stick to that.


Therefore I thought I would let you in on a typical day or two of what my summer has been shaping up to be:

5:44am- wake up (I never need an alarm; I am that much of a morning person). It’s summer time however, so now I wake up, realize I have nothing particularly pressing to do today; fall back asleep.

6:30/7:00- wake up and make a to-do list, sometimes consisting of things like “straighten out the solar lights”, “check retirement fund”, and “swim in Aunt D’s pool”

7:00-9:00- cruise the internet, comparing my lives to others’ on Facebook, reading everything from Buzzfeed to NYT to XOJane to numerous wedding and baby forums. I notice how busy and productive people are.

8:50- declare to husband, who is busily preparing for work, that “I have read the entire internet”. Angrily close laptop.

9:00- get into workout clothes. Lounge around more.

9:15 – complete meaningless domestic activities I classify under “putzing aimlessly around the house”; water the garden, deadhead petunias, empty the dehumidifier, clean out the junk drawer, glue the broken knob back on for the 3rd time, arrange Halloween decorations, organize my lipsticks, pick hairballs off the couch.

10:00- exercise. This makes me feel good and like a semi-productive human. Applaud myself for getting off the couch and avoiding deep vein thrombosis.

11:00 – around this time two or three times a week  is actually a very fulfilling, challenging part of my day. I volunteer as a medical transporter/ translator for a local organization that supports our migrant race track workers. I pick a worker up and drive them to dentist, doctor or eye appointments. I sort out paperwork for them, advocate for their needs and translate in the medical offices. I love it. The workers are always humble, respectful and earnest and I really enjoy hearing about their lives. Most work two full-time jobs here as they toil in the migrant-worker horse racing circuit, and send the money back home to Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Chile where they have large families and few opportunities. In the face of self-interest, it’s a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish, albeit humbling at times when I can’t understand the Chilean guy, Hector.

at the Backstretch Worker's Health fair where I helped translate

at the Backstretch Worker’s Health fair where I helped translate

1:00-1:30- time for my paying job! I walk a sweet but very slow-moving 14-year-old mutt for 20 minutes.

2:15- make myself a spinach shake that’s disgusting but I know is good for me. Use old, semi-rotting berries because I am incapable of wasting food.

2:10- check my school email. Feel deeply conflicting emotions about reluctance to go back to teaching but also my eagerness to re-enter the workforce.

3:00- notice my couch cushions are getting flat and smooshy from me sitting on them too much.

3:30-4:15- take my dogs on a 1.5 mile hike at Skidmore. Excited if I see other adult humans along the trail and attempt to engage in long conversations with them.

5:00- 6:30 – wait for husband to get home. Send him whiny texts with silly emojis and pictures of dogs

6:30- by this time my brain has turned to mush from inactivity and I don’t even want to talk to my husband.

Typical day #2

5:44 – 9:00- see above

9:30: spin class! Get an endorphin rush and swear I am going to crack open my Portuguese books and teach myself the language.

10:45- realize I will never actually start Portuguese without a Brazilian vacation on the horizon. Hide my Portuguese workbooks.

11:00- carefully put a bunch of things in my Target cart online. Don’t purchase any of it.

11:30- text husband something cute

11:33- text sister a lolcat photo or a llama

11:35- test husband something annoying

11:44- text sister a funny dog or bunny photo

11:46- text sister asking her if I’m bothering her while she’s busy at work

12:00- grocery store. Now, for most people this is an infuriatingly busy time to shop, but when you’re not in a rush, things bother you a lot less. No, lady in orthopedic sneaks, you go first in line, I’m in no hurry!

12:45- eat a lunch of oatmeal and bananas. Feel old.

1:00-1:30- employment time! Old Shiloh does not look eager to see me. Pray she survives out walk in the summer heat and she can make it up the stairs.

2:00 – go to TJMaxx for human interaction. Leave with 12 things I don’t need.

2:30- text husband again

2:34- text little sister again

2:50- check out Netflix. Wonder how one online service can have so many incredibly shitty movies and shows. Abandon visual entertainment.

3:10 – cat nap. Very embarrassed if someone calls and asks me what I’m doing.

3:45- take dogs on a our hike. When someone cuts me off while driving to the trails, I just smile. Go ahead, kind sir! Fully understand while old people drive so slowly and without meaning.

4:45- wonder if it’s too early for dinner? I’ve been waiting aaaaaaaalll dayyyyyyyy.

5:00- pester husband about when he’ll be home.


Yeah. So. September will be good for me.



On city living

I’m chuckling as I write that title because the “city” I live in is really just a speck of a city; a large town, really. There are 30,000 residents within our “city limits”. But moving into what’s considered downtown a few years ago when I built my home sure felt like a city.

I grew up on 2.5 acres of woods. Woods as in, wood piles. Wood stove. Wood spiders the size of your hand. Even (real) wood paneling on the walls! My dad chain-sawing every Saturday morning. I used to hate the wheeze of that machine, but now I miss it. Our house was formerly an old hunting cabin, adapted (somewhat hastily) by my father into a home.

original house before my dad adapted it for our family

original house before we added the garage, sunroom, bedrooms, etc

dad choppin' wood 1981

dad choppin’ wood 1981. I just dug this photo up and I almost can’t believe it.

There was no need for curtains on the windows as the lot was situated on a winding, quiet dirt road that was finally paved when I was a toddler. We’d go for hikes in the woods, hesitant but still eager to go “foraging” during deer-hunting season. Summer days were spent outside, screaming and screeching in the pool, getting into dad’s stuff in the garage and trying to build tree forts with dad’s leftover lumber that was always laying around. In middle and high school my friends and I would jump off the gazebo into the pool (so dangerous, I know) and spend hours making up silly routines on the trampoline. Fall brought hours and hours of raking. Wintertime we’d make tunnels out of the massive snow piles dad plowed from our long driveway. No one bugged us; no one really saw us out there on that property.

1985  My mom, sister and me on the left in front of the Grand Am

a typical Saturday morning (Dad ad sister and dog that I don't remember)

A typical Saturday morning I imagine (Dad and sister and dog that I don’t remember)

So how did I end up moving into the “city”? My mom was a fourth generation resident of our city’s West Side, formerly a dumping ground –literally– for the big hotels downtown. When I was 25 she decided to gift me a narrow but deep plot of land that had been in her family for decades. She gave it to me because I was planning on buying a house about a half an hour away, and she really wanted me to stay in town, close to my roots. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how important it is to have your family and friends (very) close by. I guess I “get it” now. So thank you, mom, for giving my the gift of land in my hometown that I love so much (I tell her all the time, but I hope she knows how much I appreciate this. It is, without a doubt, the best and most important gift I have ever received. Besides, ya know, the gift of life).

October 2009

So, I built a house on that old family plot in the city. Approximately 176 trips to Lowe’s, 5 months, and one patient general contractor later, my house was done.


March 2010

And then another house was built next to mine. Then another one. Then 2 more. Within three years my street was transformed. They’re gorgeous, well-designed  homes , don’t get me wrong, but it felt so … crowded. My closest neighbors are a snug 16’ away from my home and their guest bedroom lines up eerily PERFECTLY with our master bedroom window. When I open the creaky garden storage bin, the neighbor’s annoying dog barks at the sound. I can hear my neighbors put their silverware away. Husband said, we need curtains! And blinds! And you need to get in the habit of keeping fully clothed in front of the windows! I brushed him off, not wanting to admit living so  close to others requires a certain degree of social scruples.


Until one summer afternoon when our elderly neighbor, Janet, came over with a plate of cookies and we had this conversation:

Janet: “Oh, I just wanted to bring over some cookies for you guys. Your hydrangea are coming in nicely!”

Me: “Thanks, this was so nice of you!” [wondering why she was bringing us this unexpected gift.]

Janet: “Well, I have my grandkids over and, you know, they spend a lot of time here, and… they mentioned to me they really like peeping through the window into your house and… checking out“the lady in the bikini!’ ”
Me: (picking up on her diplomatically veiled yet effective way of letting me know that her and her entire household have been SEEING ME PARTIALLY/FULLY NUDE for God knows how long):  “Oh! Is that right! Yeah, I swim a lot…”


Blinds were ordered and went up the next week.


Naked humiliation aside, once I got more accustomed to the many sounds and smells of living in our “urban suburb” as I like to call it, I really have been starting to enjoy living downtown. It was just a big adjustment. It’s funny; when we first moved in, the roar of the nearby freight train’s whistle bothered (and sort of scared) me. But now it comforts me. Kind of like that dad’s old chainsaw whistling away.

Tri me: The big day

The morning of the race, I woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 a.m. (I always wake up SUPER AWAKE, ENERGETIC and READY TO GO. It’s so annoying). I had butterflies in my stomach; the kind I haven’t felt since my competitive diving days.

I had my Blood Orange Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as I do every single morning (nothing new on race day!) and waited for pestered my husband  C to wake up. The race started at 8 a.m.; official referee meeting at 7:20, swim warm-up was at 7:15 (which I had no intentions of doing, thankyouverymuch, it was way too cold for that and I didn’t want to stand around in a wet suit). I hadn’t picked up my race-day packet yet because I was lollygagging on the lake the day before. I don’t really know what I was thinking leaving my house at 6:20 for a 20 minute drive to the race area itself and fit all that in but it was ill-conceived; I got all rushed and flustered and yelled at  urged C to move faster:

“Let’s go!! Where’s my coffee mug?”

“Where’s my headband? Did I pack two?”

“How do you know the bike wheel won’t fall off after you take it apart to fit in the car?!”

“Should I pee again?”

“OMG, what if I have to poop?! What if I poop my pants?”

“Let’s go! Get my coffee mug! Did I pack two headbands?”

“Do you think the line to the Port-o-Potty will be long? What if I have the bubble guts?”

Oh, he wanted to kill me.

We finally arrive at 6:50. It was looking to be a perfect day; not too hot but not chilly, sunny; just a perfect day. After more panicking about getting my packet on time, I was body-marked and chipped. Newbie moment #1: I had to peek at other racers to see how they attached their bike numbers AND how they attached the ankle foam chip thing. Tee hee.








Pretty much everyone had wetsuits and racing bikes. I was, however, unique in that I was chugging the rest of my coffee (caffeine really gives me a good jolt!) from an Uncommon Grounds mug while everyone was sipping water and sucking on gel packs.



Gear set for transition

The Swim (500 yards in the Champlain Canal system)

The canal water was not nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. Huge relief!  The race was well-organized and small so there was absolutely no panicked entries into the water; no flailing about or kicking feet down my throat. We tread water for about a minute then started off. I felt good and prepared. Remember, this was my first open water swim- ever. At one point however I did think I was going to drown because my heart was racing so fast from so much excitement/ exertion / effort to escape the pee I had left behind at the start line (turns out I didn’t poop my pants, but did pee my wetsuit. Oops!) I didn’t even choke down too much PCB-laden water!

swim tri


My dad, C, and sister snuck down to the start to see me off

At least I don’t look awkward putting my shirt on…

tri swimThe Bike (12 miles)

I had an AWESOME transition location, I think because in my true cheap-ass well-thought out fashion I had signed up super early (and gotten a discount). Super quick transition.

Soon after I got  riding, I swear I actually heard people pitying my bike. Not in a mean way, just a WTF are you riding? Nice try on that thing but you couldn’t have borrowed someone’s road bike for the day?!

There was a steep hill to start, around mile 2, but my legs recovered. Newbie moment #2: I kept thinking there were cars coming up beside me to pass..,turns out they were just fancy road bikes. Going really fast. I think 20 or 30 people passed me. Oh well. I turned on my Garmin GPS that I had attached to the bike which ended up being really helpful in gauging my speed (4:00 pace for what it’s worth)

 The Run

P1020959 P1020962

I was feelin’ good! Nice quick transition. No rushing. Heavy legs at the start. I was very thrown off by not being able to listen to my music. I could hear my feet slapping the ground and my panting! Soon though I rounded a corner and I saw my mom and her boyfriend there cheering me on.  I had no clue they were going to be there. I was so proud and happy and surprised that it energized me and got me through the next three miles of flat ground throughout Schuylerville.

 The finish!

P1020966 P1020967


Swim 500 yards T1 Bike 12 miles T2 Run 3.1 miles


09:05 1:47107th place 44:53165th 0:36 :24:5964th


110th place

….and then I basically did this the rest of the day:

post triathlon


Getting ready to Tri

Here it was, the week before the sprint triathlon. I tapered my workouts to the following; a bike preview on Monday of the course, running 5 miles on Wednesday, skipped all strength training, and did a slow and slightly painful 4.75m on Friday.  I was feeling way more excited than nervous but I was VERY concerned about the water temp of the canal (Hudson River); it was gong to be around 70 degrees which can shock your system. I was pretty convinced someone was going to kick me and I’d panic and swallow a ton of PCB filled canal water. (Spoiler: I didn’t)

The bike preview that Monday was a great idea; it was a low-stress way to get oriented with the roads and calm my nerves. Unlike most people, I was most nervous about the biking portion of the race. I had a Diamondback hybrid meant for casual Sunday spins, not triathlons. Spoiler: using that bike was a mistake. Not a disastrous one per se, but definitely a mistake.

We arrived at the Hudson Crossing Park bike transition area and there were about 12 other bikers there preparing. I ran into a nice lady I happened to have taken a Spanish course in college with and we took off to familiarize ourselves with the course. It was… hilly. And laborious. To say the least. I become more worried about my bike. EVERYONE (except one 15-year-old girl who told me she literally hadn’t swam since last year’s triathlon and was using a mountain bike) had nice road bikes. My bike’s thick tires and heavy frame was ill-fiting for a triathlon and I knew this was something I knew going into it. I made a joke about it. No one laughed.

not a triathlon bike.

not a triathlon bike.

Bike course

Bike course


Then Saturday, the day before the race, we went up to Lake George on my dad’s boat for the first time this season. Lake George is one of my most favorite places in the world to be. The water was a brisk 63 so I made a point of lowering myself in dramatically and vocally lamenting to anyone who would listen over how cold I would be the following morning in the canal.

For our late lunch at the lake, I really took advantage of the idea of “carb loading”. French fries, chicken wings, pretzels with cheddar sauce, soft-serve ice cream; I said no to nothing! I got home and got all my gear ready:

took me about 3 days to compile everything I needed

took me about 3 weeks of intense Coach YouTube research to compile my gear

– towel for drying off my feet

– chamois for drying off my body

– Pearl Izumi triathlon suit (LOVED this – no chafing, good support, right level of padding)

– sports bra (when a tri-sut just won’t hold the ladies down)

– sweats and warm-up shirt

– socks filled with Gold Bond powder

– Gold Bond powder to fill my sneakers (this worked out great)

– tight headband (could never, ever workout without it!)

– Bag Balm for lube (so what if it’s for cow udders)

– Garmin GPS watch to use on my bike to track my pace

– regular watch to time the whole race and splits as Garmin can’t go underwater

– iPod for warm-up motivation tunes (I was reminded many times the day of NO MUSIC ALLOWED DURING THE RACE)

– ibuprofen

– goggles full of spit 🙂

-swim cap to wear under my race-official one for warmth and in case it ripped (I didn’t end up doing this)


I went to bed early (it was still sort of light out!) and dreamt of drowning in the Hudson River.

More to come!

Tri Training Schedule

In the past few years, I’ve realized I need exercise like I need food. Or human interaction. Or fresh air. Or Pinterest. Meaning it’s almost a 100% absolute daily necessity. Days in which I am inactive, I get cranky, unmotivated and lethargic. I have accepted that exercise just needs to be part of my routine like washing my hair or my face. JK, I don’t do that every day!

I thought I would digitally preserve on this here web log (commonly referred to as a “blog”) my training schedule so I can look back and see what I was doing. I can’t imagine anyone would care about this but here it the fitness plan I try to stick to.

[Please remind me of this dogged enthusiasm towards physical fitness when I am old or pregnant or fat and I say, “Nah, that was fun for a while, but I’m over it. Walking’s good for me.”]

Sunday: HIIT for 20 minutes OR run about 3 miles-6 mile then// Swim 1000 in 19:00// sometimes bike 5 miles 24 minutes

Monday: I tutor after school, rest day! Which isn’t truly a rest day… because I’m tutoring an academically-reluctant 7th grader.

Tuesday:  Spin class with my favorite instructor, Tom. 60 minutes // Sometimes I run a few laps beforehand to get the HR up.

Wednesday: 5-7 mile run 8:20 pace. // Mini-hike with the dogs 1.5 miles

Thursday:  lately I have been running to the gym and back on our wonderful city-maintained trail! Which is a 2 mile run then// 40 minutes full-body strength training with power-sets because I can’t stand standing around in that sweat box with all the meat heads in close proximity. Running home after 3 legs sets just about kills me. I almost started walking the other day.

Friday: feeling burnt out, so an uninspired 2 mile tempo run then // cardio circuit while I read gossip magazines Ladies Home Journal because that’s all the Y offers (elliptical 14-18  mins, ARC trainer 15-18 mins).

Saturday: Saturday is long run day, my favorite day! I drink 2 cups of coffee then run 8-10 miles, snow, rain, or shine. (75 minutes) Then// mini-hike with the dogs 1.5 miles.


Oh and here’s a cool visual report from April I just realized I could do on if you’re interested


The joys of winter in Upstate NY

I am so mind- (and body-) numbingly sick of the winter. It’s been a particularly bad one up here this year in Upstate NY. I decided if I don’t publish the merits of this insufferably long season, I am going to do something insane like jump off my roof. Wait, that wouldn’t matter because there is a snowpile 7’ tall that would break my fall. (And don’t give me that BS about it technically being fall in October. If the heat’s on; it’s winter!)

snowstorm #2 of 6

snowstorm #2 of 6

  1. You have a great excuse not to go out if you hibernate like a fat, despondent, hairy bear feel like being a homebody. The excuses are endless and all highly plausible- I’m snowed into my driveway, I’m iced out of my car, DPW hasn’t plowed my street, my body temperature is at a dangerously low 95°, etc.
  2. If your dog poops in a snowbank, you can just leave it there because there’s a strong chance in less than 48 hours there will be enough snowfall to completely cover it.
  3. Leg-shaving and pedicure maintenance are real low on the list of priorities.
  4. Some people think snow in and of itself is pretty freakin’ awesome. I know a Filipina girl who told me the first time her grandmother saw snow upon moving to the US, she stayed up all night long just to stare at it.
  5. Chili in the crock pot just tastes so much better when it’s below freezing outside.
  6. From October to May my windows stay sealed shut, which greatly reduces how much my neighbor’s dogs’ incessant barking pisses me off. Everything is kind of muted and peaceful.
  7. Fleece jammies! Is there nothing better?! Yes, there is. Fleece socks and fleece blankets.
  8. For 5 months or so, I get out of throwing the Kong to my dog outside in the frigid cold. All her toys get buried, layer by layer, starting with December’s snowfall. (It got so cold this year that I would wait inside for her to come up to the door with her toy so I could throw it from the warmth of my house. That was pathetic.) However, it’s fun when the snow melts and she rediscovers her toys; it’s like doggie Christmas!

    "I just don't understand why you won't play with me."

    “I just don’t understand why you won’t play with me.” – Toni

  9. No moving the lawn!
  10. I live in a resort town which is very crowded — some would say overrun– with tourists in the summer months. Winter gives up a reprieve from all the visitors- happy hours are extended, restaurants lower their prices, and we can snag a good parking spot downtown. I just realized this contributes to me drinking and eating more and walking less. Sigh. ‘Merica!
  11. All that less exposure to the sun (as the sun generally doesn’t really shine bright or get past a 30 degree angle at this longitude) must result in a reduced chance of getting skin cancer. Right?!
  12. Running in the cold is the best. Heat fatigues me and once I get started, I warm right up. I love it.
  13. You can go cross country skiing, ice-fishing, skiing, even do some winter hiking.
  14. Snow days! And as a teacher, getting paid for them. I still feel the same giddiness sitting riveting through the school closure listings that scroll on the local news.
  15. Shoveling burns 300 calories an hour. (This has been proven; I wore my Garmin HR monitor once after a storm).
  16. And of course, endless snuggling with the people and animals around you for body warmth.
My favorite place to hike with the doggies

My favorite place to hike with the doggies. See Winnie there?

Tri me

One goal in life I have in life, besides swearing less and listening more (which have been complete fails up to now), is to complete a triathlon. As you read here, I am pretty hooked on running and can honestly say it has changed many aspects of my life for the better. I also discovered I don’t hate swimming and I don’t completely suck at it, and how hard can biking be, when you think about it?

Famous last words.

So I am signing up for a local sprint triathlon! The worldwide interwebs has resources and how-to guides for everything under the sun, so I promptly found this site to make myself accountable for training.

I would LOVE to hear about your triathlon experience, tips, etc. I’m pretty clueless.


Screen-shot of my January training log:


This looks like fun


More to come in the next few weeks/ month in triathlon training.