Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Computer Apparently Controls My Mental State

Dearest readers,

My blogging silence is not due to negligence, nor a lack of running. It's because of my computer. Here's what happened: last weekend my iTunes upgraded itself to 7.6. Lo and behold, the next time I put my iPod in to sync it, the computer says, "This iPod is corrupt and needs to be restored." Well, OK, I figure that some kind of software install was part of the upgrade, I can restore it and re-sync it. I restore it, plug it in, and ... same thing. I try my Nano. No dice. So now I have no 30G iPod at all (it's been restored) and can't sync the Nano. Half a morning with the folks at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store, plus on the phone with Apple support and Dell support for literally two straight days. No exaggeration -- from 9am to showtime. I should've just gone to India directly to talk with the tech support people, I spent so much time on the phone with them. We did EVERYTHING -- system restore, rolled back iTunes to 7.5 (which wasn't easy, let me tell you!) reset the drivers, everything -- to no avail. The iPod worked. iTimes worked. Just not on my computer. Out of curiousity, I plug in a memory stick that has my steno dictionary on it, and discover that it can't be read either. Yet I have no problem using the printer, which plugs into the same ports.


So I get the Geek Squad to come in, and my new best friend Rodney (actually, he's my computer husband) does a diagnostic and discovers a bad section of the hard drive. And PS: this was my first go with Geek Squad, and I was really impressed, even though he couldn't fix the problem on the spot. So I will give them the thumbs up, and recommend them. I will also recommend the Apple support line, the two people I spoke to tried everything short of reaching through the phone and doing it themselves, even though I'm using a PC. Dell, they tried, but you know, not so much. I'm telling you, if this hard drive swap doesn't work, Monday morning is a trip to the Apple store. The only thing keeping me from a Mac is the incompatibility with the steno software I use, but the steno people told me that as long as the Mac runs Bootcamp (which allows you to work in a Windows environment) and has an Intel processor, I can run the software.

How did this happen? Was it because of the upgrade? I understand next to nothing about computers, so when something goes wrong it's super frustrating. What I do understand is that when there's a bad section of the hard drive, nobody knows exactly what section of a hard drive does what. All we know is, it's bad. So Dell sent me a replacement hard drive, and my roomie Laura sent me all the system recovery software I had at home, and I've spent the past few days trying to pull everything off my computer using DVDRs, since an external hard drive is out of the question -- can't plug it into the ports, see? -- and one of my actors has a friend who is a Dell-certified technician who is coming over to the theater in a few minutes to double-check that it's not a problem with the actual ports themselves, and then I'm going to try bribing him with good scotch to install the new hard drive and software.

Here's the thing: I am totally overreacting to this. I'm right now, as I write this, ready to throw up, thinking that the problem is with the computer and not the hard drive, and having to deal with Dell again and getting more parts. It's making me crazy. All week I've been depressed, hostile, upset -- all because of a machine. Why am I allowing this to run my life? My head knows that it's just a machine, it's just information, 95 percent of which is recoverable. But I can't shake the anxiety attacks I'm having over this whole process. I've lost sleep, my appetite is see-sawing between nonexistent and ravenous, and to make matters worse, all the time that's been devoted to solving this problem is time I could've spent running, or better yet practicing my steno. It's such a shame that something that is, in the long run, so insignificant, can take on so much importance. I guess that there are so few times these days that I can actually relax into a routine, and this was one of those times, and to have it completely disrupted by this problem just devastated me. Plus which, I train with the iPod, and not to be able to sync the Nano is really annoying. I don't have a lot of stuff on there, and I've been listening to the same three podcasts over and over.

Selfishly, and this may be why I'm overreacting, it put a damper on training for the Miami Half. I was really looking forward to this race -- which is tomorrow AM, by the way -- and if you recall from earlier postings, running this means a lot to me. I signed up for it in the wake of my post-marathon blues, and having it as a goal did a lot towards bringing me out of that funk. Disrupting the training with something so stupid as the loss of running music and podcasts has hit me a lot harder than it should, but maybe that's why.

Has this ever happened to you all? Not necessarily this specifically, but this kind of response to something that you KNOW doesn't deserve that much of your emotional energy? And if so, how did you solve it??

Anyway, it's time for me to head outside and wait for my new computer husband. This new building is beautiful, but confusing to navigate if you're coming here to do anything other than see a show. Tomorrow, I'll be up at 3am, heading down to Miami for the half, and hopefully by next week I'll have no more computer trauma and can tell you all about the race, and all the other stuff I've been meaning to catch you up on. Wish me luck.


PS: Even though I haven't updated Buckeye Outdoors, I have been running. Did a 12.2 last Sunday, and ran 3.5 on Wednesday and 5 on Friday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Surviving Tech, and the belated Tale of the Jingle Bell Run

Oh, good Lordy, the madness that has been my life this past week is slowly coming to an end (to be replaced with a whole NEW crop of madness in the near future, I know, but for the time being...)

I know I've talked in past postings about the difficulties of teching a show, but that was about doing shows in stock, with a five hour tech, where everything is compressed. I'm here at the Caldwell Theatre Company in sunny (and warm!) Boca Raton, Florida,, where we just began previews of a world premiere comedy, "Suite Surrender," and if you thought THAT tech was bad, it didn't compare to THIS one. Although that's not entirely true. The actual technical process -- adding the sound, lights, costumes and other technical elements to the show -- was easy. Getting us to that point, THAT was hard. With our schedule, we had a 5 hour rehearsal in the rehearsal hall on Tuesday, then on Wednesday we had a 6 hour rehearsal onstage (with no tech, just walking through with the set) and on Thursday and Friday we had the infamous "ten out of twelves." Those are special rehearsals in which we're allowed to rehearse for 10 hours over a 12-hour span of day, with a two-hour meal break. It's normally noon to midnight, with a meal break from 5pm - 7pm. That's the actors' schedule. With no assistant (and I know, I know, I keep harping on this lack of assistance) my days were more like this: Tuesday I worked from 10am to 9pm with no lunch or dinner break, Wednesday from 10am to 10pm (again with no break,) Thursday from 10am to 2am (with the meal break this time,) and Friday from 10am to midnight, because the play is short and we broke early. Yes, normally I am the first one in and the last to leave, that's part of the job, but without an assistant I was putting in a ridiculous amount of hours, and having to do all the clean-up and set-up work myself, and I won't bore you with all that that entailed.

The point being, because of this I was at the end of my tether that entire week, and I got snippy and grumpy and that's just not cool. One of the biggest parts of the job is the ability to be in control, and I was not in control. I don't dwell on it if I miss a cue or screw up a prop preset -- it happens. But to be short with people, even just a little, that's inexcusable. It makes me feel that I am not doing my job correctly, and I was called out on it, which made me feel even worse. Things are almost back to normal now, but for me the damage is not so easily undone. A short temper is one of the worst things a stage manager can have. I don't do well when pushed; I come out swinging instead of taking a step back. And last week I was constantly being pushed, with nobody I could hand anything off to, and I really disappointed myself. I'm not looking for pity, and I'm certainly not the only one here who's working three times as hard as they should be. It just makes me question the wisdom of even staying in the business after I get out of school, if I can't handle stressful situations the way that I should. Not that court reporting is any less stressful, but it's a different set of circumstances.

It's kind of like how I felt after the marathon; I didn't focus on everything that had gone well, only on the couple of things that didn't, and let it eat at me. Same thing here.

Anyways, I reviewed my last few posts and realized I didn't tell y'all about the Doug Stern Jingle Bell Run we did just before I left for Florida. Doug Stern was a swimming coach for NYRR, and I believe he was also a triathlete in his day. A lot of Fred's Teamers took his swimming classes, and he and coach Jeff were very close. Doug passed away this year from kidney cancer, and Mike Keohane, another amazing coach and distance runner, organized a memorial run for him through Super Runners Shop. $10 bought you a little jingle bell that you could wear on your shoe (or elsewhere,) with all proceeds going to MSKCC, and the run itself was as many loops around the Reservoir as you wished. Since Doug was a friend of Jeff's and the Team, a lot of us came out for the event.

On Thursday night, December 20, we all met at the Super Runners Shop on 89th and Lex, dropped off our gear, and headed to the Res. It was a cold and damp night, and as with the marathon, none of us could figure out how much to wear. Since this was a fun run, there was no water stop or place to leave things in the Park, so a lot of us ditched our water bottles and outerwear in the bushes. There seemed to be about a hundred people there, which was great.

Mike made a little speech about Doug, took a couple of pictures, and then we went on our way. Because of the weather we decided that two loops would be best. After a couple of minutes I fell in step with David S, Ashley, Karen and Erica. Immediately we realized that there was no "clean" place to run, it was either muddy, icy or slushy. Strange as it sounds, these are my favorite conditions to run in. You really had to pay attention to your feet, and if you weren't stepping in a puddle you were slipping on the ice or in a mud patch. It's just interesting and fun. When you were a kid you got in trouble for getting muddy when you played outside, now it's part of the job. It was ridiculous, and loads of fun. What did people think as a hundred or so jingle-bell wearing runners passed them along the Res path?

After passing a bunch of people during the first loop we realized that I was actually leading the run. Cool, huh?

We stopped after the first loop for some water and adding/subtracting clothes, then went back out for loop #2. It was a beautiful night, clear skies, the lights from the buildings on the East and West side reflecting off the Res -- really, there's no place like the Res at sunrise and sunset.

After the second loop we headed back to Super Runners Shop, where they had set up wine, beer and pizza. Everybody had wet feet and was muddy from their shoes halfway up their legs, and we joked that at least we'd be in a store and could purchase dry clothing. We ate, caught up, and had a great time. I did take pictures, but left the camera at home. Next post. It was an all-out great run, and a lovely way to remember a friend.

Okay, I'm beyond half-hour right now, which is when all my actors are here and getting ready for the show, so I must sign off. I'll try to jump on tomorrow or Thursday with pix of the Jingle Bell run and observations about running in Florida.


Friday, January 4, 2008

My Home-Grown Midnight Run

I feel like alls I do these days is apologize for not writing enough, yet here I am, apologizing again. There's just not enough time in the day.

Rehearsals are in full swing here for "Suite Surrender," the play that we are doing here at the Caldwell Theatre Company in Boca Raton, FL. It's a new play, a comedy, featuring nine performers, some musical numbers, and did I mention the dog? The normal rehearsal day is from 10am to 6pm, with an hour for lunch. But that's for the actors. MY normal rehearsal day is from 8:30am to 8pm, with 20 minutes for lunch, eaten as I do paperwork, make phone calls, or write my blog. Because the SM is the overseer of basically everything, and since I have no assistant, there's never a moment during the day where I can slack off.

All this means that if I am going to get any kind of running in to prep for the Miami Half Marathon on the 27th, I've got to either do it ass-early in the morning, or later at night. The problem with the former is that a) it's ass-early in the morning, and b) they sometimes don't unlock the pedestrian exit from the parking lot of the place I'm staying (more on that in a minute) until 7:30am, and that's too late for me. The problem with running in the evening is a) I'm exhausted, b) there are no sidewalks to run on, and c) not a lot of streetlights, either. What is it with South Florida and their lack of sidewalks? No wonder people drive two blocks instead of walking. They physically can't get there any other way!

I'm trying, though. I'm not getting in as many miles as I want, but for a half marathon, as long as I'm not shooting for any world record time, I'll be okay. I did do an almost 9-miler last weekend and will get in a 10 on Sunday before rehearsal (we start at noon.) And I'm learning to love the Saucony Pro-Grid Triumph 5s, though I am mourning the loss of my precious 4s, not so much for the fit as for the color -- bright green. Sigh...

The other hard thing for me is the weather. As those who've stuck with my through the summer training, my hatred of heat and humidity is well-known. And just as it was getting consistently cooler in NYC, I head down to Florida right in the middle of a muggy heat wave. The past few days have been fabulous -- for me, that is. Two days ago a cold spell started, it was actually so cold yesterday morning -- 35 degrees -- that even I didn't want to go out for a run, but only because I didn't bring any cold-weather gear with me. I needed to wait until lunchtime, when the sun warmed it up to 50. Today's warmer, but I was too zoinked to hit the roads this AM and will do so after rehearsal. But in the mugginess I've been using my AirAides and Succeed caps and they've helped a lot. I recommend them HEARTILY!! Love 'em both!!

With the Miami Half coming up in a few weeks, I do need to step it up a little. I'm not so worried. My coach says that I'll be fine, that I'm well-trained and haven't lost too much endurance. He hasn't let me down so I'll listen and not get too crazy, but I don't feel secure enough to not train at all. A few more long runs will be good, and I should get another couple of runs in through the weeks. As long as I don't attempt to set any land-speed records I'll be fine. Gosh, remember only a few months ago when the thought of "only" running 13.1 miles was like a walk in the park? I'm holding onto that!

Oh, my living situation -- I'm staying in my grandparents' apartment in Delray Beach. They died a couple of years ago and my parents kept the apartment. It's fine, but I'm the only one under 80 living there. And the gates that surround the apartment complex (it's one of those mega-retirement-home-complexes) are locked at night, except for the main gate, which is nowhere near my grandparents' building. Even though I am literally 50 feet from an entrance/exit gate, because I'm not a resident, I don't have access to it, and have to use the main gate. Frustrating!!!!

Did I mention my New Years? NYRR hosts the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run on New Years. The festivities start and end on the 72nd Street transverse. There's a costume contest and dancing beforehand, then at the stroke of midnight there's a huge fireworks display and everyone takes off up the East Drive for a 4-mile loop, with champagne at 102nd St. More dancing and fireworks follow. Tons of people turn out to cheer. It's a surprisingly fun way to ring in the New Year. The Team was having a party and then heading out for the Run. My roommate and her friend -- both non-runners -- were going to do the Run. I was in Florida, with no plans. Normally there's a 9:30pm show at the theater, with a party afterwards, but not this year, everyone was too tired from all the craziness of trying to open a new theater building. So I headed home, and after a delicious vodka (Xcellent Vodka, in fact, made with rye -- it's got a bite to it. If you like vodka, try it!) I decided to have my own Midnight Run, only instead of Central Park, it would be in the parking lot. At 11:55pm I put on my Team shirt, laced up my shoes and set out. Instead of dodging revelers and gaping at the fireworks I dodged parked cars and endured the gapes of the retirees who dared to drive home -- IN THE DARK (horrors!) Not quite the same thing, but you work with what you've got.

There's a superstition -- at least I think it's a superstition -- that what you do on New Year's Eve is what you'll be doing all year long. If that's true, here's to a year of good running!

Okay, lunch is way over. I promise to keep up on the Buckeye Outdoor log, so my training shows up, and as soon as we get past tech (next week) I'll have more time for writing.