It would be hard to feel much more relaxed than I do right now. The semester is over, and I'm in Tallahassee, Florida, at Alex oniugnip's mom's house, where I've been for the last six days. A week is a long time to spend as a guest in someone else's household, but I don't feel like a guest here; I feel like family.
Various family members keep pointing out how thin I look -- I think someone actually used the expression "skinny Minnie" -- which is interesting, because I hadn't noticed that drastic of a change, but I suppose I'm about ten pounds lighter than the last time any of them saw me. I lost some weight while training for the race, and for some reason it's stayed off, even though I've hardly been running at all since then -- until this week, that is. Alex and I have been taking advantage of the warm weather, the copious free time, and the fact that his mom lives next door to a pretty, woodsy, swampy state park with lots of trails that looks more or less like the setting of Pogo. We did something like four miles on the 23rd, seven miles on Christmas Day, and another seven or so today. It doesn't hurt that Alex gave me some new shoes1 for Giftmas. I also received a large pile of other gifts, such as Founders at Work; that quirkyalone book; and a beautiful hat knitted by Alex's younger sister. We don't really do gifts much in my family, and I'm sort of bowled over by his family's generosity.
Aside from running, we've been sleeping a lot, eating, reading, and playing a truly unconscionable amount of Rock Band. Yesterday, though, we tore ourselves away from the PS3 long enough to visit Alex's stepdad's place of work. I'd had an inkling of what Anthony's job was before, but I'm so glad we actually went to visit. He works at a mental hospital and coordinates the efforts of several art, music, and recreational therapists, as well as leading some art therapy sessions himself. Pretty much every wall of the place is covered with dozens of drawings and paintings that patients have done in art therapy sessions, all of which have been beautifully matted and framed by Anthony. I don't mean that he, like, took them somewhere to be matted and framed; I mean that he personally built each one of the frames in his wood shop. As we walked down the halls and admired the art, he was able to tell us stories about the ones that had been done by his patients. But it didn't stop there. In the front hallway of the hospital, there were a bunch of framed photos of staff members; it had been Anthony who had taken the photos and built the frames. All of the hospital's art supplies were neatly organized; that's because Anthony had built the shelves they go on. A few rooms even have furniture that he built. Basically, he's spent 22 years making the hospital feel less clinical and more comfortable by filling it with beautiful, functional, thoughtfully handmade things. See, the thing is, that's what he does at home, too, and it was just awesome to see that this thing that he most loves to do when he's not at work is what he's essentially made his job into, too.
Being in a different household for a while has also made me take notice of the way I eat. I notice, coming from Alex's and my vegetarian household, that the kitchen here is full of meat: ham, fried chicken, turkey, pulled pork barbecue. Meat is the centerpiece of every meal. I usually think of my diet as something like "what omnivores eat, minus the meat", but after a few days of eating that way at meals, I was unsatisfied and craving food around the clock, to the point where I opened the fridge this evening and really wanted to take a big ol' bite of one of those cold fried chicken legs. That was the last straw, and I finally realized that I needed to stop relying on other people feeding me and actually make some food for myself, so I sauteed some onions and broccoli and threw in a bunch of cheese, salsa, and cooked rice. It was unsophisticated, but it was exactly what I needed in terms of complementary proteins and flavors, and I finally feel sated (and the chicken now looks unappealing again, as I was hoping it would). Yay!
- Ordinarily, I don't have much in the way of brand loyalty, but I will say that these are my second pair of Brooks, and so far, I've liked them better than any other brand of running shoe I've tried. It may help that running shoes are the only kind they make, as opposed to companies who are making shoes for twenty sports.