Feller and I made the trek into the city last Friday night to attend Neil Gaiman’s Last US Signing Tour. He’s one of my favorite authors and pretty much the only person in the world for whom I would sit around for five hours to get something signed. We got there just as the doors were opening, and, somewhat as I was expecting, the line to get in stretched down the block. Thankfully, we still got some pretty decent seats.

When he walked onstage around 715, he looked pretty much the way one expects Neil Gaiman to look: all in black with hair that goes in every direction. When he started speaking, I was somewhat surprised to learn that in real life, he sounds exactly the way he does in interviews and audiobooks and the like. I find his voice very soothing and absolutely ideal for telling stories. I told Feller that he reminds me of a cozy granpaw, who you love tucking you into bed because he’s got THE BEST stories.

He read to us from his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The excerpt was delightful and witty, and I am looking forward sitting down and reading it myself. I’m also going to be downloading the audiobook, which he narrates. As I said, his voice is soothing, and he has a delightful cadence and inflection reading the story. (It doesn’t hurt that the audiobook is less than six hours long, which will provide me a nice break from the 43 hour long audiobook to which I am currently listening.) I was actually a little surprised at how short this book for adults is, clocking in at 181 pages, but it’s also a relief. I have so many other books in my To Read pile, that the prospect of adding a tome is not thrilling.

After the reading, he answered some questions and then read a bit from the children’s book he has coming out in September, Fortunately, The Milk, which sounds utterly wonderful. Following that, the signing begun. Feller and I were on the far side of the lower level, so we didn’t even get close to the stage until nearly 11. Feller was wonderful throughout, especially since he doesn’t love Gaiman as much as I do and was there primarily as my Book Mule (they only allowed each person two signatures).

When we finally got up there, Neil was warm and personable. He joked about Amy!, who comes with her own exclamation point, said that now he was really excited about my name, too, and went back to the “Amy and Feller” inscription to add an exclamation point when I asked him. He signed my copy of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader “Bats Wishes” and drew a little moon on our copy of Ocean. He told the audience beforehand to just ask for a hug if we wanted/needed one. After Feller and I got our somewhat creepy hover picture behind him (as he wasn’t pausing in the signing for pictures), I asked and received a warm, wonderful hug that just cemented his place in my heart at Best Author Ever.

It was just such a phenomenal evening. Almost exactly what I expected but perfectly delightful nonetheless. It was one of those times when you meet your hero, a person you admire greatly, and they don’t disappoint you. He was just as warm and funny as I could have ever imagined, and I’m so glad I had this experience.

I have just, as of this writing at 1.22 am, come home from an amazing concert. I don’t really go to a lot of concerts, partly because I’m too cheap for big shows, I’m too particular for small shows and partly because I never have anyone to go with. But there are a handful of bands for whom I will make the trek into the city by myself without complaint. Tonight was one of those nights. No, no one you’ve ever heard of, but two of my favorites, Micky and the Motorcars and Reckless Kelly.

You know how when you’re at a concert, and your favorite bands are playing your favorite songs, and the energy is really high and the vibe really great, and you’ve got a nice smooth buzz from the beers you just drank, and you’re making new friends with the girls standing next to you, and you’d like some random dude to hit on you despite the fact that you’re married (but they don’t) and, man it’s practically the best concert experience you’ve ever had? That was tonight. It was fucking magical, nearly. I want to experience the feelings and highs and rush and music that I felt tonight every day. Every damn day.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t last, that wonderful, magical feeling, but I know that this will be a night I look back on with gratitude and awe. Everything aligned tonight for just the absolute best possible show I could have hoped for. And not even the drunk-ass lady rubbing her fake boobs all over me could have ruined it.

One of my resolution sfor 2013 is to run one race per month, and so far, I am officially signed up for all but four months worth of races, two or three of which I already know what I’ll be doing. In fact, I’ll be running the Bay Breeze 10K on Saturday.

The inspiration for my resolution, however, is the fact that I signed up for a half marathon training program, like a crazy person. And NOW, I’m signed up for five different half marathons this year, like a REALLY crazy person. And I have eleven and a half weeks before my first of them. When I put it that way, I’m fucking terrified. I feel super unprepared, even though I am reminding myself that that is plenty of time to get from where I am now to where I need to be to get myself across a 13.1 mile finish line. If I’m diligent.

Here’s where I admit that thus far? I haven’t been diligent about my training. I have INTENTIONS to be diligent and exercise. I packed my running clothes when we visited my family for Christmas, without touching them once. I packed them again when we went to Cozumel. I even ran twice while we were on vacation in Mexico. In the humid, humid Mexican sea air along the beach and in the tiny, no air circulating fitness center after midnight with my shirt covering the timer on the treadmill, until one of our fellow divers told us that exercise 12 hours after diving can lead to The Bends. But even when I’m at home, I’m not great about following a regular fitness regiment, let alone a fairly structured training program.

With 11 weeks before my first 13.1 mile race, it’s time to get fucking serious about this shit.

I only ran once last week, and it was a pretty good one: 7.84 km in 1 hour, 4 minutes. Not bad, and I felt totally badass afterwards.

When I ran this week, I started the run badly. During my five minute warm up WALK, I was asking myself why I was doing this crazy, hard thing. And then I wondered if I really, REALLY, did I REALLY want to run a half marathon? Is that something I REALLY wanted or just something to do to satisfy my inner “I’m better than you” smug bastard? Thankfully, I also realized that EVEN IF I don’t want anything to do with a half marathon, it’s too damn bad because I’m signed up for five non-refundable races. That are as EXPENSIVE as HELL. So I ran. And had a shit run. I couldn’t make it through my first 18 minute stretch of running without a walk break, and I ended up giving up and turning around before the halfway point. I. was. DONE.

Thankfully, that shitty run reminded me of how much fucking WORK I need to do. It was the kick in the butt I need to really start focusing on training and crosstraining and getting shit done. The fact that my work pants, always a little tight, are noticeably loose on me now (despite my best efforts over the weekend to shove every food ever into my face) doesn’t hurt either. I don’t want to lose that momentum, and I don’t want to want to cry anything but tears of joy and accomplishment after I finish my first half marathon.

Onward.

Feller and I landed in Cozumel yesterday, after what felt like forever traveling. The afternoon was full of napping and recovering from a Flying Hangover (and a cold, on Feller’s part), but we registered for all the diving we’re going to be doing through Scuba Club Cozumel (for which we got an AMAZING deal). We think we’re going to do a little shore dive from right outside our hotel room this afternoon just to re-acclimate ourselves with diving and the gear and everything.

We’re staying in a cool room with tiled floors and matching red, orange and purple striped curtains and bedspread. The curtains give the entire room a warm, rosy glow when the sun shines through them. The resort provides all of our meals, and so far, the food has been muy delicioso. I had AMAZING enchiladas con mole con pollo upon our arrival, which I hope sets the tone for the entire trip: amazing food, amazing experiences. AND they brought us dinner when we almost slept through it! THEY BROUGHT US FOOD!!

We’ve also signed up to do a couple of non diving day excursions. Somehow, we got corralled into talking to some tour guide guy at the airport, and he talked us into signing up with him. Feller’s a bit EEEHHH about it, and told me as we were walking away that we had just gotten “salesman’ed,” which is 100% correct. But I also feel like that we’re getting a pretty good deal, and that a couple of days of not diving will be fun. One of my favorite parts of Hawaii was the rainforest tour that we took, so I am optimistic. We’ll be spending one day touring Cozumel in a car, checking out Chankanaab National Park, a tequila factory tour, and Punta Sur. On another day, we’ll take a ferry to the mainland to have breakfast at Xcaret and taking a tour of Mayan ruins at Tulum.

Our trip is jam packed full of stuff, with all the diving and other tours, but we’re both just so excited. We’re both recovering from post-Christmas colds, so hopefully, we’ll be totally healthy and ready to go for the rest of the trip. Being here, really, finally, after two years of no real breaks in day to day life, feels a little surreal right now, but oh so wonderful. I stepped outside our room last night, after everyone else in the resort seemed to be asleep, and listened to the ocean hitting the pier just a few steps from our door and marveled that THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. I don’t even have the words to tell you how happy I am to be here and how I already feel relaxed and peaceful and how, despite our full schedule, I know we’ll have plenty of downtime and feel so much better when we come back home.

GUYS GUYS GUYS. I’ve been SO BUSY, OMG. The fall semester of school just ended, THANK GOD, so I finally have the energy to come say hi. There’s been so much going on lately, you don’t even know.

So in September, I petted some llamas alpacas on National Alpaca Appreciate Day. They were very cute. I also bought some yummy yarn that I’ll some day knit into a really luxurious scarf for myself.
Feeding the Alpacas Adorable! Fuzzy! Baby Alpaca! Punk Rock Alpaca AlpacasMommy & Baby Alpaca Nomming Alpaca Spinning!

In October, Feller and I went to a pumpkin patch and did ALL THE ACTIVITIES they offered, except ride a pony because we are both over the weight limit. But we pet some chickens and a turkey and a goat and a guinea pig and a rabbit. And a duck. Who tried to bite Feller. We also rode on a hay ride and a train that was meant for little children, and we sat in a giant chair for pictures! It was very fun and helped lay the foundations for some friendshipping. Which is awesome.
Hayride! Giant Chair! Giant Chair Cuddles Haunted House Meetup Group The Pony We Didn't Ride The Turkey We Did Pet Feller Petting A Chicken Feller Petting A Goat The Duck That Tried To Bite Train Ride!

We have also had a few parties, and Feller cooked dinner for 10 people right before Thanksgiving. It was a resounding success, resulting in hangovers for everyone (I’m guessing, based on how many empties we had the next day).

I’ve started doing a buttload of volunteering to beef up my resume and gain some recent experience with people who are under 21. It’s been really fun! I’ve been doing some one on one reading tutoring with Reading Partners, homework help at the library, for which I’m now the volunteer in charge, and come January, I’ll be doing storytime at a preschool center in Oakland once a week. I’m so excited! And crazy busy! It’s been a real adjustment getting used to how many things I have going on right now, but I’m really enjoying all my extracurriculars. I’m also starting some sort of “Reading to Children” thing in San Jose. I’m not sure if they’re looking for an actual storytime like in Oakland or something a bit more casual. I guess I’ll find out at training!

This semester in school has been SO STRESSFUL. Last Spring I effed up a little, and I paid for it this semester. I was really, legitimately concerned that I wouldn’t be in school come this Spring, but THANKFULLY, everything worked out all right. I wasn’t kicked out of school, I got okay grades, and I received the kick in the rump that I need to stay on top of that stupid online discussion posts bullshit that I hate so very much. But which always screws my grade over, dammit.

Coincidentally, sort of, today is ALSO the first day of 2013. Since I was going to post this earlier (and forgot), I am hereby including my 2013 Get Shit Done’s

*One race a month. Not JUST 12 for the year, one a month. This will keep me running and on track for the THREE half marathons for which I’ve signed up.
*Finish my damn WIP’s. THIS IS THE YEAR for the Medallion Travel Bag. I got a couple other lingering WIP’s taken care of recently, and WHAT A RELIEF. Having projects on the needles for 5+ years is not only RIDICULOUS, it’s a fucking burden. That I DON’T WANT. Medallion Travel Bag, THIS IS YOUR YEAR.
*Ukulele mastery. This involves practicing more than once every two weeks. (BTW, I got a ukulele for my birthday.)
*Knit, knit, knit. Seriously, when I’m just sitting in front of the tv, I should have some knitting in my hands.
*Straight A’s in school. For reals this time, guys. This is my last year of my Master’s, and it’s time to go big or go home. No more fucking around for half the semester and then scrambling for a B. A’s all the way. Because it’s totally doable if I would just suck it up and write some dang discussion posts.

In completely different news, Feller and I (still married, still in love) are going on vacation and couldn’t be more excited. It’s HIGH TIME we had some free and easy relaxing time together. Life has been really stressful, and it shows. We’re both ready for a break.

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