Work?

Friday

4/18/2014

I got up at 4:30am to be in Newton for 6:00am. John said the night before that if he was up, he would drive me. He did get up, so we stopped at Cafe Fresh and then he dropped me off.

I shadowed my new friend Ann Marie until 11:30, went for a run up and down Comm Ave, and then strolled Newton Centre until John came back to pick me up after he played soccer in Bedford. We didn’t think about the fact that it was Good Friday, so when John told me that route 9 was a parking lot, I told him to take the pike. We sat in traffic there, too. Probably everyone cutting out early to go on vacation.

We quickly had leftovers for lunch before I dropped John off at Haskell field to shadow with the Revs Academy. I went to fieldhouse for back day (bent barbell row, pull ups, back extensions, and leg lifts) before heading home to shower. We were driving my dad to South Station that night and then having dinner with Anna and Wendy.

After I got cleaned up, I went to grab John. Once he was all squeaky clean, the three of us piled into our Mazda and we drove into the city.

My dad was taking a 9:30pm train to DC to visit my brother. Once we dropped him off we drove to East Boston and picked Anna and Wendy up. We went to a pub called Kelly’s for dinner. I could barely keep my eyes open. We dropped them off and headed home. Since the pike is a mess on the weekends (remember when it took us two hours to get home from the airport?), we took Storrow drive home.

Saturday

4/19/2014

I observed at Cutting Edge from 7-11:30. My dad was in DC, so John was driving his truck. When I was done with Ann Marie, I drove to the Newton Yacht Club and ran my 8 miles on the Charles River. It was a gorgeous day.

My dad sent me this picture from DC:

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#werundc

I drove home and had turkey burgers for lunch with John who had just come home from his soccer game. I could not physically do anything the rest of the day. I painted my nails, we went to the supermarket, we grilled a gluten-free, half dairy-free pizza (amazing!) and I managed to make my peanut butter, almond butter, and a gluten-free zucchini bread before I passed out.

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Sunday

4/20/2014

I slept in to make up for all the early mornings. I didn’t get up until 8:00am. I cleaned a little before John and I took off for the FH. John watched an EPL game.

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We stopped at Starbucks where we saw Felicia, who was running the Boston Marathon the next day. She qualified in Chicago… *if only*….

I DIED in Keith’s class. Ninety yards of burpee broad jumps? I want to know what this guy had for breakfast. We brought Romeo with us and I’ve never seen him so happy in his life.

We went home after class where I showered while John made caramelized pearl onions with bacon (a Pinterest find). When we were ready, we headed up to John’s aunt and uncle’s house in New Hampshire.

We had Easter dinner with his aunt Kathy and uncle Robbie, and three of their four kids, and his uncle David and aunt Tina and their two daughters. Oh, and Kathy and Robbie’s fat pugs. They are love bugs.

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John’s cousin Sophia is really the only one little enough to want to do an egg hunt, so I did it with her. I opened up all the eggs as I found them and if I didn’t like what was inside, I put it back on the ground. She had so much fun she asked her sister and cousin to hide them again. I found a few more candies I liked the second time around. Then I felt sick from eating them. #damnyoueasterbunny

By the time we got home I was spent. I had made maybe-plans with my two cousins but I couldn’t even imagine going out. By 8pm I was hunkered down in bed.

Monday

4/21/2014

I got up early so I could run before watching the runners. I was out the door by 6:30am and even though it got to be 70F later in the day, I needed my fleece headband in the 34F that the morning brought. I logged 5 slow ones, went home, showered, and John and I headed out to get breakfast before heading towards the “Six Mile Moment”.

We stopped at J&M’s Diner which is a total mom-and-pop that almost always has a line out the door. The food is only OK and ridiculously expensive. $25 later, and we were en route to the Boston Marathon.

We parked a little bit away from the route and walked. The wheelchair/challenged athletes (amputees, visually impaired, etc) had already started.

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There was a huge crowd and the course was barricaded off. There were military police and german shepherds galore. The mood was elated. After about half an hour, a couple cruisers, motorcycles, and vans covered in cameras and microphones cleared the course. Then race director MacGilvray in his convertible. THEN—finally—what I had come to see: The elite women. I knew Shalane Flanagan wasn’t going to win (I mean, really?! Rita Jeptoo is a F*&cking beast!!) but she was leading the pack in Framingham.

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I think someone should pay me for that picture.

After we saw the front pack, and a few more follow-up groups, we took off for the car: we had more runners to see! We went home to grab Romeo and head for mile 20. My dad was raking the front yard, so John and I grabbed two more rakes and put in thirty minutes of community service before leaving for Newton. We parked in front of our old apartment, met Anna and her dog Tyson, and walked a mile-and-a-half to mile 20.

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The crowd was even thicker in Newton, and I couldn’t get a spot where I could see for at least twenty minutes. We didn’t see anyone we knew, but we saw a few of the same challenged athletes that we had seen in Framingham. I tried to get amped up for Chicago—I hear the crowds are good there, too.

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Romeo and Tyson made lots of friends and the sun came out in full force.

We had to leave at 2:00pm so John could get to the Revs’ clinic. We walked back to our cars, said our goodbyes, and headed back to Framingham. I dropped John off at the fields, went home to clean, visited my friends Rich & Sara and there now seven-month-old baby, Jack. He is even cuter than the pictures they’d sent me while I was gone. I went back to get John.

Tuesday

4/22/2014

I got up early to make Keith’s 5:45am class. Amy and Marc came, and just after we started the warm-up, Meg came. I hadn’t seen her yet, so once she realized through her 5:47am haze it was me, she was very excited to see me. Keith kicked my ass. Again.

I stopped at Coffee Works on the way home for a coffee and headed home to get ready: I was going to put in a full day of work.

The after-school program I used to work for was holding an April Vacation program and they let me work. My dad still works there and he had the same shift as me, so we carpooled (i.e. my dad drove me to work).

The plan was to leave for the zoo at 9:00am. We arrived at 8:45am and after I said my hellos to some of my favorite people who I hadn’t seen yet—Carrie, Joanne, Janaine—we got our groups and got ready to board the buses. Only there was only one bus. We had 90 kids and at least a dozen staff members. It took the bus company an hour to round up two more buses (and drivers). I’m pretty sure they woke the driver of my bus up from nap time at the nursing home. But whatever, we made it.

We got to the zoo after 11:00am, so we went straight to have lunch. I had the best group ever. There are two reasons you get a group like mine (four completely self-sufficient 4th grade girls). One, you are completely incompetent of handling anything else. Two, the director is feeling particularly generous. I’m going with door number two.

We saw the newborn giraffe, visited the petting zoo, went into the deer forest, and saw the macaws. We got ice cream and headed back to the buses.

My dad and I were supposed to go home at 3:00pm but the buses didn’t get back until 4:00pm. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was so tired.

We headed home where I crashed for a little while. I recovered and headed out to dinner. Remember my friend Cathy who is having a little girl in August? I had dinner with her mom, her mother-in-law, and her oldest friend to plan her shower. After a quick pit-stop at Walgreens to buy a ton of 50% off Easter candy, I met them at John Harvard’s.

Her shower is going to be beautiful. I can’t wait to see her. I was incredibly glad when this day was over.

When I got home, John wasn’t there. Crap—he was at soccer. I had forgotten. I passed out until he came home, then talked his ear off and couldn’t sleep the rest of the night.

Wednesday

4/23/2014

We had to get up extra early so John could drop me in Newton. I didn’t have to be there until 7:00am, but he was coaching at FH so he dropped me closer to 6:20am at Peet’s coffee. I walked over to Cutting Edge at 7:00am to meet Ann Marie.

I am basically done observing, so I designed programs for her clients for the next two days. She took me through another workout (even harder), I designed a program for her, then I left.

John was just leaving fieldhouse, so I waited at Starbucks. He missed the exit, sat in traffic, and took almost an hour to get to me. We went home for lunch.

I was going back to working at Bosse, which is another big sports club that I worked at for the two years before we moved. I help with AP, payroll, and HR (a tiny, tiny bit). As soon as I saw Deb it was like I had never left.

I only had about an hour-and-a-half of work, and then John came back to get me. I had been planning to run 6 miles with some RunHens but I was feeling very unmotivated. And cold. And tired. After John and I did a little grocery shopping I ran 4 with Romeo instead.

I showered, ate, and went to bed. Two days until I’m in DC with my running buddies and four days until we pound the pavement and I crush my half PR.

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Snow!

Friday

4/11/2014

I got up and ran 5 miles with Romeo. It must have been the humidity in Portugal that kept him from being able to hack it—he ran 5 miles two days in a row with me, no problem.

I got home, showered, and tried to dress up. I had an observation in Arlington at an organization that I’d already had two phone interviews with. John was using my dad’s truck, so I got to take the new car. #beepbeep

I don’t need to go into detail to tell you that it wasn’t for me. I had a lovely chat with the day program manager and told her I didn’t want to waste her time, I really wasn’t interested in the position. Or any position. She encouraged me to apply for jobs higher up in the company. I liked her a lot, but couldn’t picture myself at this facility 44 hours a week for barely more than minimum wage. No matter how meaningful the work may be.

I couldn’t get off the campus fast enough, in addition to not wanting the job, I was going to pick my cousin up for lunch. She works maybe 15 minutes away in Brighton, we hit one of our old hangouts, and I dropped her back off at work. I had to go to the airport. Again.

This time I knew what I had to do, so I drove to Southie first and dropped by the Customs office with the paper work that the nice lady from the Swissport cargo office had given me.

The guy working at the Customs office clearly didn’t see a lot of action. He made as many old man jokes as he could in the 5 minutes I was there, relishing the fact that someone had stopped by.

After a few perfunctory questions, the wise guy stamped my forms and sent me on my way.

Going to the airport this time was a cinch, I knew exactly where to go and I had the right forms. It was the same nice lady from the day before. She didn’t charge me storage, but she did charge me the $50 import fee that everyone has to pay. I had to pay to “import” shit I bought in the US to begin with.

I got out of the city before traffic began and stopped home quickly to let Romeo out and change. I headed for the FH to work out. I saw all my high school girls, followed my Spartan workout of the day (1:00 of each squats, plank, jump rope, burpees, and hanging leg raises, @ 4 rounds) and did some extra core.

Steve, the new Director of Sports Performance asked me to teach the Youth class, but I declined. I wanted to go home.

I headed home, cleaned up, and headed for my friend Lee’s house. She lived abroad, too, so we got to compare notes on how weird it is to come home after a long time away. We sat and chatted until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Luckily, she only lives a mile away.

John was just getting home when I pulled into the driveway and we both crashed.

Saturday

4/12/2014

I got up early enough to run 12 miles, shower, and get to my aunt’s house in Dedham by 11:30. I tried to get up earlier, but I just couldn’t. And I only ran 11.5 miles. I just couldn’t.

I showered, hit Cafe Fresh (not the same as Pic Nic!) and was in Dedham by 11:15. Not bad. My auntie Cheryl ran for selectman, and I promised to help on election day (I had conveniently missed many weekends of sign-holding in the sub-zero weather). It was a gorgeous day and I sat on their back porch calling every active female voter in Dedham, asking them to please vote for my aunt Cheryl. I got 99% voicemails, and a few children hung-up on me. All-in-all, it took me about 5 hours to call every woman, including a lunch break to Whole Foods.

Meg, her boyfriend, and our friend Sara had been out holding signs all afternoon. Meg and Tim came home to get ready for the post-election party. We were the first ones to head over to the Paradise Cafe, to make sure every was all set for the party. We waited around for what seemed like hours, the caterer came, a few friends came, Cheryl and Richard showed up, and the tallies came in. Dedham has 7 precincts, and the votes came in one at a time. There were eight people running for two selectman seats and everyone thought she was definitely going to get one. Well, probably.

The first few precincts came in, and she wasn’t doing well. Then her precinct came in (this one’s in the bag, right? Right?) and she didn’t do well there either. After all was said and done, she came in fifth. Bummer. We took a selfie with one of Dedham’s former finest, Bobby Winston, to try to cheer ourselves up.

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I said my goodbyes after that and headed home. John had just gotten home from the Revs game and we both promptly fell asleep.

Sunday

4/13/2014

Since I went to bed early, I got up pretty early. I made some gluten-free zucchini bread (with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour mix… which I don’t love and probably won’t buy again). John and I headed to FH, with a Starbucks pit stop on the way.

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This was only my second FH class since we got back, and Keith kicked my ass. I got to see him and Elizabeth, Jeremi, & Tracey. It was great. John watched some EPL games on the TV in the lobby.

We went home and John got ready to head to his soccer game while I took to cleaning and organizing. I had been a little stressed during the week, and aside from the dogs and having to share cars (and space) with my (extremely generous) parents, most of my stress was coming from living out of suitcases and boxes. And not knowing where anything was.

I needed more hangers, so after I cleaned myself up and ate, I headed over to Target. I also wanted a food processor, but they were out of the one I wanted so I went to Best Buy. But Best Buy only had really super expensive ones, so I went to (gasp) Walmart. Well, at least I knew I was back in American. Damn.

I found the one I wanted there and quickly left the store. One more stop at Trader Joe’s for groceries and then home. Oops, I forgot to get zucchini and tomatoes for sauce. I stopped once more at Shaw’s.

When I finally got home I was starving. John had just gotten home from his game, and my dad was home, too. My mom was in New York City visiting friends, so I made sauce for the boys. I offered to help my dad clean out the upstairs (the “dead relative room” it has been dubbed), but he declined and asked for help raking the lawn instead. So, after dinner John and I puts sneaks and jeans on and headed outside. I couldn’t remember the last time I raked a lawn, and decided it must have been at least 10 years prior.

After we spent a couple hours (maybe it was only one) cleaning up the front yard, we headed inside as it got dark. I made protein bars, peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower seed butter, and meal prepped chicken and quinoa for the week. I didn’t use my new food processor because it turns out my parents had one. It was incredibly loud and the “off” button doesn’t work so you just have to keep un-plugging it. I fell asleep tired, but feeling accomplished.

Monday

4/14/2014

I am going to start working at a personal training studio in Newton Centre. They specialize in super slow, high intensity training, which is something I’ve never done before. I went in on Monday to observe the owner train her clients. I got up at 5:00 to have plenty of time to get coffee and be there for 6:30am.

I stopped at Cafe Fresh with my reusable iced coffee cup in tow, already containing some coconut creamer (Cafe Fresh only has milk or cream). It wasn’t my friend Fanny working, but another Egyptian man who’s English consists of “Cream and sugar?”. I handed him my cup and asked for hazelnut iced coffee, and since they only take cash, I turned to the ATM machine inside the cafe. When I turned back the man handed iced coffee. Black iced coffee. “Cream and sugar?” he asked, in his accented English. “No no no.” I said, “I had creamer in there. Did you wash it out?” He responded by asking again, “Cream and sugar?” This time I tried gesturing “Did you” and then while pretending to pour my cup “pour it out?” He responded this time by trying to take my cup, I think he thought I wanted more room in my cup. “NO NO NO!” I grabbed my cup, you’ve done enough.

I don’t know what I was trying to prove; getting him to admit that he’d poured my coconut creamer out (which was obviously the case) wouldn’t have put that non-dairy creamer back in my coffee. I really hoped that this coffee incident was not an indication of how my day was going to go. Luckily, it was not.

I really like the owner of this studio, and I really like her clients. After a few hours of observing and note-taking, I headed home to eat lunch and pick John up. I was going to have coffee with a former client, and John was going to FH.

We went to Sudbury Coffee Works where my friend was already waiting for me. It was so nice to see her and catch up, and after we sat for a while she dropped me off at fieldhouse. I left my stuff but then took off for a 5 mile run. It was over 70 degrees out and also pretty windy. When I got back I grabbed my stuff and took the car; I was going to pick my friend’s kid up at school and bring him to baseball practice. I stopped by her house first and grabbed her two younger ones and we headed to pick up her high school son. We grabbed him and his friend, dropped them off at practice, and the I dropped the younger ones off at home before returning to pick up John. This is a normal day.

John and I went home, ate leftovers and crashed.

Tuesday

4/15/2013

I got up at 6:00 to run by 7:00am. I threw 10 miles down, but slow. I showered, we got coffees, and John dropped me at Kate’s. She wasn’t home from FH yet, so I set about to reading her four pages of (decorated!) notes titled “Liza Rocks!”, she had thoughtfully left me her wifi password. Kate was going to New York for a few days for a funeral, so I was friendsitting.

She and Zaela came home around 11am. Z and I played in yard, had lunch, and talked a friend through a breakdown. Zaela was so wiped out that she actually fell asleep in my lap while I chatted away on speaker phone. I put her down to finish her nap and I worked on my blog. I got to catch up with two of my friends from Povoacao, Leila and her sister Daniela, on Skype.

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Zaela woke up cranky so we snuggled and watched some TV.

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Her brothers came home, we played for a little while, had dinner, and I let them watch the Lorax. Kate’s husband was coming home from a business trip and his flight kept getting delayed. I put the kids to bed and napped on the couch until Marc finally came home just before midnight. I drove Kate’s car home.

Wednesday

4/16/2014

I had to run before going back to Kate’s house, and Amy said she could run at 5:00am. So, even though I had time to run later, I decided I would rather run with Amy. I got up at 4:30am and there was SNOW on the ground!

It had been 60 degrees when I got home after midnight, so even though Amy warned me it was going to be cold, and maybe flurries, I was still shocked. Luckily Amy wears a flashing vest and a headlamp, because I work all black. #iamaninja

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When I got home (5:55am) John was already at FH.

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We ran 5 through the slush and I headed home to shower, eat, and head to Kate’s. I picked Zaela up from the neighbor, we played for a little while, and then I took her to the library for Wee Reads. Kate said I could take her wherever I wanted to, and that included Target for more hangers, so I figured I would take her to do a fun kid activity before I made her do adult errands with me. It seemed only fair.

I saw my friend Andy Bower at the library (I always use his whole name when I refer to him—I don’t know why. I have another friend, Matt Ryan, that I do this to, too.) Wee Reads turns out to be a sing along that Zaela just loves. She is really good at animal sounds and that was the theme that day. The best one is her dog sound. She doesn’t “bark” or “ruff” but she pants.

I took her to Target afterwards with me to get more hangers and she was great. We went home to have lunch and nap. Liam came home from his friend’s house, we got in the car and ready to go so that when Sam got off the bus at 3:45pm he could get in the car, too, and we could make it to the FH by 4:00pm for flag football.

During the time between when Liam got home (3:30pm) and the time we got in the car (3:40pm), Liam lost his ninjago helmet (Ninja + lego = ninjago). The helmet belonged to a ninjago he had borrowed from the friend who dropped him off. We couldn’t find it, so I told him we would look more when we got home.

Zaela lost it when we got to the FH, screaming, running, and batting her eyelashes at Jay and John. Liam couldn’t even enjoy himself because he was stricken with guilt over the lost helmet. Sam made an interception at flag football, but we missed it.

We were going to sit at Sudbury Pizza for dinner, but it was too much. We picked up instead and took dinner home, where we ate in front of the TV. The ninjago helmet never surfaced, I tried to put Zaela down early to help Liam look for it, but the jig was up. She knew it was too early and screamed her little heart out until I picked her back up. Maybe ten minutes later we went for round two; with three books in the rocking chair first. She went down without a peep. Are you smarter than a twenty-month-old?

Marc came home at 6:00pm but left again at 6:45 for a T-ball meeting. The boys were still up when he got home again at 8:00pm. Sam had just finished his homework and Liam was drawing and coloring. John picked me up, drove me home, and I passed out.

Thursday

4/17/2014

I couldn’t shadow in Newton on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I was back again Thursday. Luckily, the schedule had changed and the day didn’t start until 7:00am. We also had a few breaks in clients, so the owner brought me through a workout. When we were done at 11:30am, I went for my run through Newton Centre and down Comm Ave, on the marathon route.

I stopped at Trader Joe’s on my way home to grab avocados and ground turkey to make burgers for lunch. I ran into a girl I went to high school with who happens to be living with her parents around the corner from my parents. We said we would be in touch. We said we’d make plans. We probably won’t.

I got home and made lunch for me and John and then drove John to Haskell field so he could observe his first Revs Academy practice. He is going to coach for them and was supposed to observe Tuesday and Wednesday, but because of the rain and the snow, both days the fields had been closed and practices cancelled. After I dropped him off I headed to TJ Maxx where I bought socks and a work shirt. I stopped at Shaw’s, too, and grabbed some veggies. I got halfway home before I realized I hadn’t grabbed bagels or boost for John. Damnit.

I cleaned and unpacked some more, folded and put laundry away, before I headed back out to Shaw’s and CVS. I picked John up at the fields and we headed to FH. John was coaching a mini-clinic for the varsity boys’ basketball team and I worked out. I had been staying away from legs, but since my runs were getting shorter I figured it was an OK time to throw some more legs into my routines.

When John was done we headed home. I was planning on grilling chicken and veggies but then the grill ran out of propane, so I made everything inside on skillets and saucepans and I set the smoke alarms off. Boa noite.

 

Home?

Saturday

4/5/2015

I decided to save my 14-miler for the next day. John and I were completely wide awake by 6:00am, as was Romeo. We took our time getting ready and then headed over to the FH. Jay wasn’t surprised to see us, he knew we would be there, but he was still excited. We saw Frankie, too, who wasn’t surprised and is hardly ever excited.

Then we had our first real greeting. Kate Rosenbaum (remember that ridiculous care package??) came stampeding into the lounge and jumped on John while screaming. It was my turn next, and she kept going back and forth until she was able to calm down. Well, calm enough to take a picture. Best.Greeting.Ever.

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Two other guys, Brett and Marc, showed up along with a woman who started at FH after we left. I almost vomited, but pulled through. Sled pushes, bungee broad jumps, and resisted runs. Burpees, ball slams, upright rows, plate swings, DB bench, and push ups. This is for fun?

We hung out for a little while after and waited for one more surprise. A family that John and I are really close with were in for a surprise. My friend Carrie hadn’t told her daughter, Grace, that we were home. She told Grace she had a physical therapy appointment at FH, but when she showed up, this happened:

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After we enjoyed our homecoming, we went out for a big fat American breakfast with Frankie. Our waitress told John she liked his accent (what?) and I ordered every kind of meat you can, with eggs and hash browns. My phone died, otherwise I would have taken a picture. John got a fat stack of pancakes and I had a bad cup of black diner coffee. Home sweet home.

Frankie dropped us off and we got ready to go check out some cars. We weren’t planning on buying one that day, but after going to two dealerships we found one we liked. A manager made us an offer a few hundred dollars below what John and I had set as our bottom line for that car, so we took it. We put down a deposit on a 2010 Mazda CX-7 and set off for the airport to see about our bags that had shipped cargo.

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When I asked the SATA representative who made my reservation via email a few weeks back, she said I could pick up our bags “a few hours later or the next day”. We weren’t interested in hanging around the airport Friday night (especially with Romeo) so we decided to try for the next day. John had called them while we were in the car and the lady on the phone told him to just go to the cargo area at the airport. Our bags were there, she said.

Turns out there are two cargo areas: north cargo and south cargo. After following the signs for north cargo (gotta start somewhere) until there were no more signs and we couldn’t find a building, we turned around and followed the signs for south cargo. We saw jetblue cargo, united cargo, and finally TAP Portugal cargo (not technically SATA but they are partners). We couldn’t find the door for TAP, so we asked someone in the parking lot wearing a reflective vest and he directed us towards the swissport office, because, well, obviously.

I went inside the dingy hallway inside the warehouse into a side office and was greeted by an incredibly overweight and less-than-helpful man. He recruited help from an equally overweight female, who told me my bags hadn’t cleared customs yet and to just “wait a few days” for them to clear. Sounded good to me. I hopped back in the car and John and I set off to drive home.

It should only be a 40 minute ride home, but they are doing construction in the Pru tunnel. I totally forgot! Two hours later, I was practically eating my arm, we stopped at Stop n’ Shop in Framingham so I could buy enough food to have sauce for dinner (the kind in the jar, which doesn’t take like my homemade..shocking). We ran home and I cooked as fast as I could. We ate and immediately went to sleep.

Sunday

4/6/2014

I got up and got dressed to run. I had to borrow a fleece headband from my mom because I didn’t have anything to wear running in the 37F weather. I headed out and my toes froze immediately.

I ran 3.5 miles to the Sudbury Starbucks where I met Kate. She and I threw down 8 together and I peeled off to run home at 11.5. She went to meet Jay, who is also running that 200-mile relay in May, and she’s been trying to get him geared up for it.

I ended up finishing 15 miles instead of 14, and at a good pace, thanks to Kate. I crawled inside to shower and get ready; we had to be in Manchester-by-the-sea by 12:30pm. John was coaching a clinic. John had gone to the FH to get some equipment for the clinic while I was running. He got to see Keith, Elizabeth, Matt, Amy, and all their kids. I was really jealous.

We stopped at Sudbury Pizza on the way, and while Dimitri was excited to see us, it was not as good as the greeting we knew we’d get from Stella. He gave John his pizza on the house as a welcome home gift.

We ended up getting to Manchester ridiculously early. I helped John unload my mom’s Subaru (ballin’!), talked to a few other coaches, and then I left him on his own. I headed to see my best friend Anna and her girlfriend Wendy in East Boston. We went out to have Australian food by the water and they took me to the Promised Land: TJ Maxx.

I bought a hair dryer, clippers for John (I know, I know..another pair?), gluten-free cookies and a donut pan. We got back in the car and headed back to their apartment. I grabbed my mom’s keys and drove back up to Manchester.

I got there early and John only had 6 girls. The clinic was split into two sessions and John later told me he had over 50 kids in the first group and it had been a disaster. He had a great time with the second, and older, group, made some good money, and is planning on running a few more clinics for this club.

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We packed up his gear and headed for Wakefield. We were going to have dinner with our friends Keith, Nicole, and their now almost-nine-month-old son, Alex. When we left, he was not even three months.

After playing with Alex for a while and catching up with his parents, we decided to go out for Chinese food. Nicole called her sister who came over to babysit. The four of us hopped into Keith’s truck and drove to the restaurant. We love Keith and Nicole. We love Chinese food. It is weird to be home, but we’re enjoying it so far.

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John and I played rock-paper-scissors to see who was driving home. I lost but John drove home anyway because I couldn’t even keep my eyes open.

When we were 10 minutes from being home I realized I hadn’t heard from Frankie about the U-haul he was supposed to get for us from his friend. I texted him and he hadn’t gotten it—he had forgotten. I couldn’t even imagine leaving the house again to go get it, but sure enough, 45 minutes later he was depositing it into our driveway. Thank you, Frankie. I couldn’t even get out of bed to say it to his face. #jetlag

Monday

4/7/2014

I got up at 4:36am. My alarm was set for either 4:45am or 5:00am, but I woke up early. After I had a snack and some green tea, I hopped in my U-haul to head to Starbies. I met some of the RunHens (Amy, Kate, Jenn) for their usual 5:45am, 5-mile run. Because one of the girls is recently pregnant they ran slower than usual. We finished with a 9:00 pace. #thisisslow ?

Two days in a row of not running alone and I was feeling extremely fortunate. This time I doubled up my socks so my toes wouldn’t freeze. We stopped into Starbucks for coffees post-run and then I headed home. John wanted to work out at 8:00am, but after my 15-miler, and the other 5, I was struggling. I showered and we both went to FH. I foam rolled and chatted with our friends. We saw a few more familiar faces and got some of the warmest greeting. I’ll tell you; nothing makes you feel more loved and appreciated than leaving for a while and then coming back.

After John worked out and we saw a few more friends (Sarah, Ofelia, Tricia, Rhonda, Linda, Dave!) we went home so John could get ready. We had to go finalize paying for the car so we could pick it up, and then we were heading to New Hampshire to get our stuff from John’s mom’s house. We were Facebook messaging with Carla, so John and I sent her silly pictures. You know, so she remembers what she’s missing.

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We stopped at DCU and then drove to the dealership. The sales woman was giving me the run-around about when I could pick the car up, because they were fixing some scratches on the bumper. From there, it only took us an hour to get up to Deerfield (even driving 60MPH).

We were worried we would miss John’s niece and nephews because they don’t usually get home from school until 2:45pm, but his sister Kati had picked them up from school early so we could see them. When we arrived just after 12:30pm they were there. And I was starving. We ate leftover Chinese food that John’s mom and her husband had ordered for dinner. #americanfoodcravings

John’s niece, Sierra, disappeared when we went to load up the U-haul. John’s youngest nephew, Justin, took a header off the U-haul ramp and was down for the count. We were down two workers and we hadn’t even started. John’s Grandma lended a hand, so that was helpful.

We only grabbed boxes marked CLOTHES or KITCHEN, and then also our dressers (one—mine—was covered in mildew and we were only taking it to throw it away) and a rug. My dad thought we should’ve just taken his truck, but in fact, the U-haul wasn’t that excessive after all. Except for the dresser, and my rug that smelled like horse barn (not really unexpected), all our stuff was in excellent condition. Just a little dusty.

We drove home to unload, taking one pit stop to see my cousin and her dog. After unloading the U-haul, John and Frankie returned it and went to see Captain American in iMax. I ate leftover Chinese food (again? I no longer remember missing this), unpacked some bins, moved some furniture with my dad, hung our rug up to air out, and went to bed.

Tuesday

4/8/2014

Romeo woke me up at 5:45am to go out. I got up again for real at 6:30am. For the third day in a row I had a running buddy: Ofelia. I had breakfast, and texted with Ofelia about the rain. She told me she was out if it was raining, and I told her I would be at her house at 8:30am either way. I ran the 4.25 miles to Ofelia’s house, all but one of which were dry. The last mile to Ofelia’s house the sky opened and it poured. By the time I got to Ofelia’s I didn’t even care if she was coming, I was ready to run straight home. She came outside with her raincoat on and we ran 3.25 together, and the rain mostly stopped. I dropped her back off and finished my last 1.5 to the Fieldhouse. Nine miles.

When I arrived at the FH around 9:15am, I was soaking wet and shivering. John was there to workout and he gave me his sweatshirt. I was also warmed by the hugs of people I hadn’t seen yet; Erica, Katie, Heidi, Kim. Zaela and I were reunited but it took her a while to decide if she was happy about that.

August:

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April:Z

I hung out with Kate while she ran childcare in the brand new childcare room that she and Jay made while we were gone. When I ran childcare, we hung out on the basketball court floors. And tried not to let kids commit accidental suicide on the bleachers. #newandimproved

John and I finally left around 10:30 and I was frozen. After I showered I began sorting through our six months of junk mail. John and I headed out to finalize our auto insurance, get lunch, and grab some groceries. When we walked into Sudbury Pizza, Stella acted like we hadn’t seen her in a year. Another incredibly warm welcome, accompanied by the most delicious grilled chicken salad. And more pizza for John. After we caught up with Stella, and told her about our plans to visit Greece (“Oh my god! My country!”) we stopped to get a few groceries before going home to grab my dad.

Since we didn’t have our car yet, we were still relying on the generosity of my parents (which, fortunately for us, is basically unending). We went home, changed, dropped my dad at work, and then headed for the FH. I got to see our GM, Denise, for the first time. I also got to see Mel and Kathleen from All Access. I missed Mel a lot, but we didn’t get to catch up since she was with a patient.

I worked out but John watched a soccer game. I got to see my Ashira, who I didn’t get to see on Saturday. She knew I was home but I still got a pretty good reaction from her. After we sat and talked for a while, and facetimed her sister Alisha, I got to working out. I am staying away from legs at all costs until the Nike Women’s Marathon in a few weeks so I stuck to core.

Carrie, Grace, and Carlos stopped by so it took me at least twice as long to work out because I kept stopping to talk. I got to see Jody and Alex, two other high school athletes who worked with me before I left. Coach Brewster, and Jen and her son Drew. Jen put this picture on my wall not long after we left in October. Sometimes, if I didn’t have very many kids, I would move them from the basketball courts to my office during childcare. #informal

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We left so I could get ready to have dinner with my friend, Jessie. Krista was supposed to come, too, but she had gotten the stomach bug. John dropped me at Acapulco’s before going to pick my dad up.

Thankfully, Jessie gave up alcohol for a month. I was planning have a big fat margarita, but I wasn’t going to drink alone. We got all caught up on the last six months of each others’ lives and I asked her to drive me home before my forehead hit the table.

When I got home John was already at his soccer game in Fenway. The first thing my dad said when I walked in the door was “Romeo ran away.” Ok. “He’s still gone,” Oh.

My dad and I got into his truck to search the neighborhood. He and John had already done so, and he had already looked in the woods behind our house with Nyla (my parent’s German Shepherd). We did that, too, after our drive around the ‘hood wasn’t a success.

I decided to call it quits after that. What more could we do? He had his collar on and my mom had called animal control. Either someone would find him, or not, but it was too dark to see anything. We would have to wait until the morning.

I got into bed with the house phone and my cell phone next to me, but my dad and Nyla waited downstairs, “For just a few more minutes,” my dad said. About 10 minutes after I laid down, my cell phone rang. It was Home Again, the microchip company. Someone had found Romeo! He was not far away. But he had eaten one of their small pets. They ended up telling their daughter, whose pet it was, that it had run away. I felt terrible and offered to buy another one, but they kindly declined. They are very, very, nice people. In fact, as my dad and I pulled into their driveway to retrieve Romeo, knowing what he had done, my dad said “Oh, no…. Not these people. They are so nice.” Yes, they are so nice. And Romeo is such a douche bag.

John’s phone had died, so when he got home at 11:30pm the first thing he said was, “Is Romeo home?”

Wednesday

4/9/2014

I got up at 6:00am and prepared for my first solo run since I’d been home. I brought my phone and listened to my Carrie Underwood station and ran to Starbucks to meet Carrie. I saw some DPW workers cleaning up the leaves on my way. One of them stopped and waved. I think it was Frankie, but he was covered head to toe—all I could see was a little bit of bald head between hood and sunglasses. I waved back and called out, “Bom Dia!” Seven miles.

I got there before Carrie and ran into one of our old FH clients who has checked out a few other facilities since she left us a little more than a year ago. She discovered recently she loves CrossFit and encouraged John and I to apply to work at one next to FH. She also insisted I let her know where John and I “ended up”. #fieldhouseyouremyhome

Carrie and I chatted for over an hour before she drove me to the Fieldhouse, but it’s never enough time. She dropped me off at FH where John was finishing up the 9:00am class. He had offered to teach that morning and Jay had obliged him. I got to see a few more adults we hadn’t seen yet but had to leave quickly to pick up my dad for work. We took him to the Post Office and the super market, and then dropped him off at work.

We stopped at Coffee Works and John asked if I wanted to sit and drink it there. Sit down? And drink? Oh, like at Pic Nic. We tried.

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We went home where I filed our taxes, showered, and headed back out. I had an interview in Newton at 3:15pm.

I had emailed back and forth with the owner of this personal training studio while I was away and she had asked me to come in when I got back. It is only a mile down the road from our old apartment, so I drove by and even stopped by my old Whole Foods before I found a parking spot in Newton Centre right across from the studio.

The owner was lovely, we had a nice conversation, and she asked me to begin shadowing the next day. I told her we didn’t have our car yet, and that Monday would work better for me. Great! She said, you can start then. #isthisajob?

I drove home only to pick John up and head back out again (see how different our life is?). I was babysitting for a friend right near where my dad works. John and I hung out with the kids for a while and then John took off to pick up my dad. The kids had hot dogs for dinner, so I taught them how to say “one more hot dog, please” in Portuguese, you know, so I could practice. Mais um cachorro, por favor. I also practiced my body parts on the youngest, Zaela (20 months), rabo rabo rabo, with pats on her behind.

Mom & Dad got home around 8:00pm and Kate and I went to pick up John at the FH (when he picked my dad up earlier, John asked him to drop him off there. He didn’t know where else to go). We scooped him up and Kate drove us both home. Thankfully, we were going to pick our car up the next day.

Thursday

4/10/2014

To say that integrating Romeo into Nyla’s home has been stress-free would be an outright lie. Today was my mother’s birthday and we began it by yelling at each other in the yard over the dogs. I took Romeo for a 5 mile run and my mom and I hugged it out when I got home. #homelife

I did a living room workout with the one set of adjustable dumbbells John and I own. I also posted a workout to ALKE Fitness’ Facebook page. I will try to keep doing this at least once a week for my ladies there.

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When I got back, after my mom and I made up, I showered and Krista came over. She and I had plans to get lunch. We took John to, of course, the FH and then headed off to Chipotle. I only had a few more American Food Cravings left to satisfy: Lee Chen’s and sushi.

We also wandered around Homegoods and Target, and then stopped by the new house she just bought (but isn’t living in yet) to empty her car out. She had offered to lend us her car to go pick our car up, but we also had to get our bags at the airport. #thankfulforgoodfriends

After we checked out her new house, we went to her work (which is also where my dad works). I took her car and grabbed John at FH, and we drove to the airport to attempt to pick up our bags for the second time.

This time we knew where to go, so that part was easy. This time a different, even more overweight, woman helped us. She told me my bags were still stuck in customs. Really? She also told me they don’t “just clear” if you “wait a few days” as the other woman had instructed me to do. The cargo warehouse also starts charging you STORAGE after a certain number of days. Luckily this woman was nice and way more helpful so she said she’d make a note not to charge us and told us how to clear our bags through customs.

Turns out I would’ve had to have gone to this office in the first place anyway. She gave me the forms I needed to take to the Customs office in South Boston and a set of directions to get there. I told her we would go the next day because I was not sitting in traffic. We were going to get our new car and go home before rush hour.

We took our forms and headed for the dealership, and on the way sat in traffic (of course). When we got to the dealership we waited half an hour for our sales woman to get our car off the roof (even though we told her we’d be there at three). When she brought it down it had a REJECTION STICKER and SCRATCHES on the back of the car. Now, the rejection sticker is because she had to jump start the car when we test drove it, so the computer reset. After we drive it 100 miles we can take it again, free of charge, and it will (should?) pass.

The SCRATCHES were on the car when we test drove it, but I had pointed them out and she had said, “Oh, we’ll fix that.” She had written it into our sales agreement. Only what I hadn’t realized was that she only wrote that the dealership would repair the “bumper” but failed to include the door. I told her exactly what I thought about that and gave myself a headache yelling at her. Not OK.

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I told John he could drive the new car and I would drive Krista’s Jetta home. Of course I followed him, so all I could see were those un-fixed scratches STARING at me, MOCKING me while we drove home. #thisisnotmyday

We stopped at Krista’s work to drop off her car, then Sudbury Farms to grab a fruit salad, a mini cake, and flowers for my mom’s birthday dinner. We went home where I made a giant veggie dish and my dad grilled steak and salmon. My mom came home and we feasted. My mom and I ate fruit salad and John and my dad split the mini Boston Cream Pie.

John and I took Romeo for a little joy ride in the new car. I had calmed down. A little.

Boston?

Day One Hundred Eighty One (um cento oitenta e um)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

4 Abril 2014

our last day

I got up early so I could still get my 5-miler in. John and I finished packing and then walked over to ALKE to say our goodbyes. John said the only time he got choked up at all was when he said goodbye to Ernesto.

October:

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April:IMG_0225

We also said goodbye to Alexandre, Vitor, Saozinha (at the gym already!), and Marcy (the one who gave me eggs). We walked down to Pic Nic to meet Ken for our last cafes. Leila came, and then Lina and Carla showed up, too. We all walked back to our apartment to say our final goodbyes.

We gave Carla back our keys and everyone said goodbye to Romeo. We brought our bags outside just as Pedro was pulling up. We piled Romeo’s crate and our bags into the backseat, and I made Ken take one last picture of us.

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Pedro drove us to the airport in the Mira Mar van through the Azorean drizzle that had begun somewhere in Furnas. We pulled up to the airport right at 1:00pm, exactly two hours before we were supposed to take off. As soon as we hopped out of the van to start unloading the bags, I heard over the loud speaker: “ELEEZA DOODY, please report to gate number 11 immediately. ELEEZA DOODY, please report to gate number 11 IMMEDIATELY.”

I left John, Romeo, and Pedro on the sidewalk and ran inside to find out what the problem was—I was so worried it had something to do with Romeo and our flight. As soon as I ran in the door, I started scanning for gate number 11. But what I saw first was the lady who had helped me with my cargo bags on Wednesday, standing with a large SATA employee in a reflective vest. “Is everything OK?” I asked, breathily.

Oh, miss I am so sorry. I am new to this job,” she began, apologetically, “I forgot to ask you a few questions. And can I make a copy of your ID card?” She and the other man deemed my license and passport sufficient for that job. The other question? “How much are your belongings worth?” I couldn’t even tell you what I told her, it really seemed irrelevant. While she went to make a copy of my IDs I ran outside to tell John and Pedro that everything was ok. I hugged Pedro goodbye and we wheeled our bags, and Romeo inside his crate on a cart, inside.

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I retrieved my IDs from my Wednesday friend, she apologized a few more times, and then we made our way to check-in. One lady took John to weigh Romeo inside of his crate while another lady checked me in. She weighed my one checked-bag: 1.8kgs overweight, “Oh no! Can I take something out?” I asked, “Don’t worry,” she replied. She also tagged our carry-ons and gave me a ticket for Romeo and my one checked-bag, which I was to take to another desk to pay. Romeo weighed in at 39kgs (anything over 23 is considered “overweight”) but she didn’t charge me extra for that either. What I thought was going to be a 450 bill was only 270. Not bad.

We dropped Romeo off at oversized baggage, where John took him out of the crate so they could x-ray it. John secured Romeo back inside, and we went off to go through security ourselves.

On the way out the door earlier, my Chinese store boots broke. Well, just the zipper-holder on one of them. I couldn’t get them off to go through security, so I left them on, knowing that they would set off the sensor and I would get patted down (worse things had happened). They set the metal detector off (four zippers!), a lady came over and violently patted me down, it was practically a crevice exam, and then used a wand, and then made me take my boots off anyways. Really? At least she gave me a paper clip to use. Obrigada.

We sat down at the one cafe and waited for our flight. I bought 60 bags of Gorreana cha verde with our last few euro. I got stopped by border control because I didn’t have a visa. Yes, I know I overstayed my 90 day tourist visa, but I’m going to play dumb because I’m leaving today. No one bothered John, but so far I’d been patted down and yelled at. The man gave me my passport back and warned me, “Next time, get a visa.” Sir, yes, sir.

We took off a few minutes late but mostly made up the time. We filled out our customs forms before we landed and deplaned without event. We got out forms stamped, retrieved our one checked-bag and Romeo, and headed for the US Dept. of Agriculture with Romeo in his crate. John had asked me if he should check off “animal” on the customs form as something we were transporting, “No.” I said, “he’s not a livestock or a bird.” But the guy at the USDA said we should have checked the box. Oops. He made a joke about Romeo being federal property before letting us go about our business. Romeo didn’t have to go through the X-ray machine, but our carry-ons and checked-bag did. I freaked out as we were going through because you’re not allowed to transport fruit or seeds and I had a banana in my bag. Oops. John accused me of being difficult to travel with but then he lost our customs forms. A few minutes later, when we found them inside his pocket he apologized. We were so ready to be home.

By the time we got outside my parents were waiting and we piled in. I broke Romeo’s crate because I was too anxious to get it in the car, and we hadn’t taken all the screws out yet. We sat in a little traffic on the pike, ordered Gianni’s, and once we got home and unloaded the car, my dad and I went back out to pick it up. We ate and crashed. #doesntfeelrealyet

THE END

Day One Hundred Seventy Four (um cento setenta e quatro)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

28 Março 2014

Friday morning: 5 miles. I took Romeo with me for the first mile, which always slows me down, but after dropping him off I almost caught up with my time from the previous day. The store that was Barraca has been under construction for about a week now. They did a complete remodel, but finished it quickly because they had people working 24 hours a day.

Sometime during the construction, I figured out it was going to be a Sol-Mar (think Star Market), which is good for the people who live here but probably bad for other store owners like Fatima. I heard the guy who owned Barraca (I don’t know his name, but he was very nice the one day I went in there back in October. I tried to tell him, Oh, we moved here because– “yeah, I know,” he said, “because your boyfriend plays for Mira Mar”). He always wave when I run by.

They had a grand opening Friday at 10am, so the middle of the vila was a nightmare. There is no parking there anyway, and there were people across the entire street waiting to get in.

When I got home John was still sleeping, so I grabbed my wallet and my passport and headed for the Pet Shop; we were renting a car for the day.

We only needed the car to go to Ribeira Grande (or Santana…maybe it was Rabo de Peixe –literal translation: fish butt) to take Romeo to the vet; He needed to get his Pet Passport signed. However, you only get the 18€/day price if you rent it for two days or more. So, for one day it would’ve been 44€, and for two days 36€. We took it for two days.

I went down to the pet shop where we are basically regulars now. Teresa joked with me about always running and still not speaking Portuguese while the blonde girl copied my license and passport info down. Even though they are not open Sundays, Teresa is going to meet me at 11:00am so I can return the car. #ilovetheislandlife

Because of Sol-Mar’s opening I had to drive around the vila twice before I found a spot to park our tiny little rental car.

John, Ken, and I were originally planning on going to the gym for circuit day before we left for the vet, but when John wouldn’t get out of bed I asked him how important that was to him. He said he didn’t care about going, and neither did I so I hopped in the shower. Ken’s response when John texted him about skipping the gym: ‘Thank F*&*K’.

John and I finished getting ready and headed outside. We put Romeo in the back seat, grabbed Ken and went to Pic Nic. Luckily, I found one tiny little parallel spot outside the hardware store; the middle of the vila was still packed. The four of us sat outside.

After we had our coffees we got back in the car and Romeo walked on and got fur all over Ken. I said I’d sit in the back seat on the way home. Romeo is an idiot:

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Carla had given me explicit directions on how to get to the vet, and I knew exactly where she was talking about. Originally, we were going to have the vet come to us, but the one that makes house calls is not working until August, so to the clinic we went. It is in Ribeira Grande, almost all the way to Ponta Delgada. In addition to explaining to me a few times how to get there, Carla also drew me an awesome map.

At the last rotary before the city (there is some urban legend that rotaries/roundabouts only exist in New England.. but I’m here to squash that. There are a ton here on Sao Miguel), we usually take a left, but to go to the vet we went straight towards Rabo de Peixe and Santana (you can actually get to the city this way, too, which is what John and I did the first time we rented a car). We took the only right turn after the gas station toward Rabo de Peixe and Santana. I followed that pot-hole-filled road to the end and then took another right. John pointed towards a giant (fake) cow on the left, “There it is!” he said. I didn’t believe him, because there are some milk factories on this part of the island, too, but sure enough it was the Clinica Veterinaria Santana. I reversed a dozen feet or so and pulled into the parking lot.

We didn’t have an appointment, because that’s not how they do things here. When Carla called for us they said you just show up and wait if there is anyone in front of you. There weren’t any other cars in the parking lot, so I figured we were golden. We were; there weren’t any other people (or pets) inside either. It was a large, clean, fairly new-looking facility. I asked the woman at the desk if she spoke English, which she did. Carla also asked about that, too, when she called, and they assured her they had English speaking vets.

Someone tweeted me a few weeks ago about tips for the Azores because he is traveling to Sao Miguel, and apparently, he reads my blog. The first (and only) tip I gave him was that everyone speaks English (or, more accurately, everywhere you go you can find someone who speaks English). This woman turned out to be German.

She weighed Romeo first and he had gained 1kg since we’ve been here. Then she made a photo-copy of the Pet Passport form, and filled out the one I brought. They don’t have rabies here, and he’s been vaccinated, so she didn’t actually examine Romeo. She scanned his microchip and matched the numbers up. She kept calling him “she”, but lots of Portuguese people mess up pronouns, so I didn’t think too much of it. She even told me she weighed “her” because they worry about “spayed females” gaining weight. She said this while looking at his rabies vaccine certificate which refers to him as a “neutered male”. I was still not concerned.

She finished filling out the form and told us to have a safe trip. Just as we were exiting the exam room, Romeo spotted a sign and sniffed it. He lifted his leg and PEED on it. John gave Romeo to Ken and asked him to take him outside, quick, while John grabbed paper towels and apologized profusely. The woman behind the desk kept telling him not to worry, it happens all the time, they would grab a mop, while my German vet friend said, “I need that form back. I filled it out wrong: I said that she was female!”

After she fixed the form, John cleaned up the floor, and I paid 7€ (Carla said it was only 25€ to have the vet come to you—and administer shots—so I had a feeling it was going to be cheap) we all got back in the car to head to the city for lunch.

We had decided to go to Portas do Mar for lunch because we could sit outside with Romeo. John voiced concerns that Romeo wasn’t allowed there, but both Ken and I said it was public, and blah blah blah, not to worry. We parked on the street and walked to the bowling alley. The sun was shining and we sat outside. No one else was outside, so we weren’t worried about Romeo bothering anyone. Our waiter didn’t say anything about Romeo either, so we ordered. About halfway through eating our meals, a security guard came over and told us that dogs were not allowed on that side of the port. But he told us we could finish eating. We finished our meals (I gave Romeo lots of french fries, because aside from peeing inside the vet, he had been a very good boy), and had cafes. I made John and Ken walk all the way down to the other end of the port so I could get the maracuja ice cream that I have been thinking about since we came with Vitor.

Ken and I stopped in the public bathrooms before getting back in the car. The ladies’ room was being cleaned so Ken stood look-out for me while I used the men’s. We got back in the car, this time with John driving and me sitting in the back with Romeo.

We got back to Povoacao in the afternoon and hung out for a little while before I headed off to class and John headed off to pay FIFA at Ken’s before practice.

Lina had told me the night before that she is still closed for take-out. John had wanted pizza again before we leave, and she said she was turning the oven on Saturday for a birthday party, so if we wanted pizzas she would make them then for us. I told Lina we would definitely get pizza and I invited Leila, who got a little bit too excited. After I invited her she ran over to Lina and they spoke in Portuguese whispers. I disregarded this.

I had Lucy’s leftover bacalhau for dinner and then Leila picked me up for coffee. We drove to 3 Bicas in Furnas, which is always empty. It was empty again until her brother Philip showed up with Berina (who comes to my classes) and another couple. They came to sing karaoke, which if you know me is one of my most-favorite things. They actually did have a good selection of English songs (the Beatles, Pink, Papa Roach, Celine Dion, and of course, Britney), but I didn’t sing. I wasn’t drinking and I had 12 miles to run in the morning. #idratherberunning

After we enjoyed Philip’s version of “Like a Virgin”, Leila and I took off.

Day One Hundred Seventy Five (um cento setenta e cinco)

Saturday (Sabado)

29 Março 2014

I woke up, took Romeo for a walk, and left for my long run before John woke up. My calves were still tight, but it was bearable and I finished with my best time yet for a 12-mile solo run. It was cold when I went out, but when I dropped Romeo off I dropped off my ¾ sleeves because the sun was strong. Another loop around the vila and it started to sprinkle, so I went back and grabbed it again. It never did really rain on my run, but I was glad I had grabbed it.

When I got home I made sweet potato pancakes with almond flour and Lucy’s leftovers. I went to meet John at Pic Nic for a cafe but I found him walking back. I got him to turn around and we went to Pic Nic where we found a female stray dog who had quite clearly just had puppies (John said “check out those nipples”). She looked skinny, tired, and sad. John bought a papos secos from Pic Nic and tried to feed her, but she only liked the soft inside. She followed us home.

John and I got our stuff together to go to the big hot pool at Parque Terra Nostra and Ken came over. We changed and piled into our tiny rental car, stopped by Pic Nic to pick up Majid, and then drove to Furnas.

I couldn’t find any spots open at the hotel, and since the roads are all one-way (and I don’t know my way around very well), I had to loop around the whole Furnas again to park near the Vale Formoso stadium. We paid the 5€/person to be admitted to the park. Majid went off to change and we all quickly got in. Majid admitted to not knowing how to swim, but luckily this pool is probably 5 feet at its deepest. While we were there it sprinkled and stopped, sprinkled and stopped, sprinkled and stopped. We left in time for Ken to watch Arsenal play at 4:30pm.

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We were ordering pizza from Toronto Nights for the last time, and I was going to make a salad with the lettuce that Nedia had given me. We were also planning on having people over the next day for the first—and last—time, so I decided to check out the new Sol-Mar: Ew.

First of all, it was totally packed. And while they did blow out some walls from what it was when it was Barraca, because they shoved so many more shelves and crap in there, it actually felt smaller. I did find some sweet gluten-free products (like rice and tapioca flours), but I left with a giant case of American-grocery-shopper rage. I saw Catarina and her husband and she laughed when I tried to read the farinha de mandioca bag (I know farinha is flour and it said gluten-free, and it had a picture of what looked like a carrot on the front). I tried to google “mandioca” but Sol-Mar’s “free” wi-fi has a password. Assholes.

It turned out to be tapioca flour, which I figured out when I got home later. I tried to buy a 12-pack of Super Bock and one of the managers told me it was my lucky day: buy-one-get-one-free! Ok, I’ll take 12 free beers.

So, I walked back and grabbed another case. Oh no, she said. They have packs where they are attached with saran wrap. In a different part of the store. Great, I said. Can you get that for me? Since now you’ve made this far more complicated that it needed to be. She walked me over to the other display and I grabbed one. No, she said, you take two: Buy TWENTY-FOUR beers and get TWENTY-FOUR free. Oh, god. Just give them to me.

So, instead of 12 beers, I bought 48. How was I supposed to carry these home? And it was raining. and I hate Sol-Mar and I hate this lady. Damn you, lady.

I got home and started to make some gluten-free cookies with my gluten-free farinhas. I didn’t have time to bake them before I had to pick Leila up. Since she and her brother are both coming for pizza, I told her I’d take the rental car to pick her up for a coffee, then they wouldn’t have two cars.

We parked at Pic Nic and sat down with John and Ken, who were already drinking beers. I told them to stay thirsty, so they could drink the many, many beers I had bought. Ken said he was going home and then would meet us at Toronto. I told him that wasn’t really necessary, surely Leila and I could carry the pizzas. John went home to change, too. I told Leila I hadn’t made the salad yet and she said “Don’t worry, we have time.” Why is everyone acting so strange?

Just before 8:00pm, John texted me asking if I was coming home before going to Toronto. No, I wasn’t planning on it. “Come home and I’ll walk over with you,” he replied. Wow, everyone really wants to walk to Toronto with me, I did not think. When we got to the apartment, John was wearing a button down shirt and a sweater, that I had already packed to go home. “You’re dressed up,” I commented. “Yeah, I just wanted to wear it one more time,” he replied. Leila was also wearing a dress, tights, and a cardigan. I didn’t find this odd.

John said he would sweep the stairs before we got home, which he didn’t do. “Why did you want me to do that?” he said, “Because we’re having people over,” I said. Or, so I thought.

We walked over to Toronto where the blue uplighting was on. Leila kept bumping into me on the steps up, running in her dress. She’s in a hurry! I thought.

Once at the top of the stairs I saw two men sitting on the couch (Toronto is closed). “Oh, Ken’s already here!” I said. “And Joe… and Philip… you fuckers!” As I walked into the restaurant I saw Lina, Carla, Dina, Berina, Alexandra, Liliana, Lucy, Luisa… everyone was there!

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No one actually said “Surprise”, but it was implied. There was a table with a picture frame, “We will be NUTS without you” with peanuts.

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There was another table with desserts, cupcakes that read “We will miss you”.

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There was a picture of me on the podium in Ribeira Grande which everyone signed later.

Lina had even hired her employee, Marina (who is my FB friend) for the occasion. Marina, immediately upon my arrival began serving shots. All liquor in Portugal is sweet and I don’t like it. I took a little sip before placing it on a table somewhere, abandoned.

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Everyone was so dressed up and lovely looking (John & Ken included) and I had my jeans rolled up and my sneaks on! I begged John to go home and get my Chinese boots.

We sat down to eat and Leila told me she had a surprise for me. She told me she couldn’t come to the pools earlier because she had work to do, but now she admitted to lying. I had a feeling it was a slideshow before she even gave the USB drive to Emanuel. I started crying before it was even loaded, and Emanuel tried to cheer me up by joking; “What are you crying for? It only says ‘80%’!”

Saozinha called me a cry baby, but I got my shit together once the video started. Leila had collected pictures from FB, other girls, and my blog. She put it to Beyonce’s “I was here” and Kelly Clarkson’s “A moment like this”. By the end of the video even John was holding back tears, but Saozinha was sobbing hysterical; she could barely even breathe. Who’s the cry baby now? I joked as I hugged her.

Everyone had brought dessert, too, and my Equilibrio brought the apple cake and cinnamon buns she knows I love. Lina made chocolate mousse and arroz doce, Lucy made a custard pie, and I forgot all about the gluten-free cookie dough sitting in my fridge.

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Me and my Equilibrio, aka Alexandra.

Once the video was over we continued drinking and eating desserts. Leila said she had one more thing for me. A group gift from the girls in my class.

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I’m not sure why John is laughing, but this is probably my favorite picture from the night.

I opened the jewelry store bag up and found two tissue paper packages inside with Pandora stickers on them. “I don’t have a Pandora!” I said, thinking they were both charms. One was a bracelet and the other a friendship knot charm, to remember all the friend I’d made in Povoacao. I cried and cried.

It turns out everyone has a Pandora bracelet, and Leila, Alexandra, Lina, and Liliana each showed me their charms. A few minutes later, Liliana cornered me and handed me her ananas charm. An Azorean pineapple. “This is the only charm I bought for myself,” she said, “All the others were a gift. I want to give this one to you for your bracelet.” I tried not to accept it, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. I could hardly say thank you through my hysterical tears. I was so moved by everyone’s generosity.

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Leila thinks I’m an old lady (tea on a Friday night at karaoke?) and she didn’t want to go home at midnight. We decided to go to Guida, but no one else was really interested. Eventually we brought Leila, Philip, Berina, and Ken back to our apartment for one more beer (and another showing of my slideshow, no tears!). We got to see Daylight Saving’s Time end and everyone went home around 3:00am.

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Day One Hundred Seventy Six (um cento setenta e seis)

Sunday (Domingo)

30 Março 2014

I had set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss my rental-car-return time. I had woken up around 7:30am, sure I’d never fall asleep again. Sure enough, I woke up abruptly to the sound of my phone alarm at 10:30am.

Once I returned the rental to Teresa at 7 Lombas, I stopped by Fatima’s to buy onions. It was one thing I couldn’t find at Sol-Mar (where I refuse to go again), and I was sure Fatima’s business was hurting since Sol-Mar’s opening. Fatima used to be the only place open until 8:00pm Monday-Friday and she was the only store open on Sundays at all. Now Sol-Mar is open basically all the time, 7 days a week. I wanted to contribute, but I only needed 0.45¢ worth of cebolas.

I headed home and started to make chili. I knew Leila, Lola, and Alexandra would all bring food that night, so I was only planning on making chili, hummus, and gluten-free cookies (cookie dough was ready to go!). I had also bought cheese, crackers, and chips.

Once I started the chili and showered I took Romeo for a long stroll. John was still sleeping. The sun was shining, so Romeo and I sat outside at Pic Nic and I had a coffee in my tank top. I’m trying to enjoy what I can of this Azorean sunshine.

I got home around 1:00pm and John was just getting up. He got ready and we headed back to Pic Nic. I had talked to Pedro the day before about getting to Mira Mar’s game and, sure enough, he picked us up at 2:30pm. It was still sunny, but had definitely cooled down.

Mira Mar beat Maritimo 2-1. Vitor’s toe was still broken, so Ken took his goal kicks. He still punted the ball if he received it, and then jumped up and down in agony on his other foot. He will not play the following weekend. I sat outside the box with John until the wind picked up and then I moved inside where Serenela, Glebiana, and Mufasa were sitting. I love Mufasa, but he does not love my kisses. Romeo doesn’t even flinch when you smush his face down and smother him with love, but Mufasa wanted to eat my face. Desculpa.

It began to rain just before the end of the game, and we walked quickly to the parking lot. Ernesto bought a new BMW from continent (it arrived by boat last week), and we rode in it for the first time on the way home from the game. It’s only a two-door, so John crawled in the back seat.

When we got home I began to pull the leftover desserts out of the fridge from the night before, make the hummus, and bake my cookies. Ken came over and we snacked a little before anyone came over. Ken went home to change and Leila and Philip showed up (with more than enough food for a whole party). Philip and John went to get coffees and wine. Ken came back, dressed up. I told him only to bring an empty stomach, and I hoped he was thirsty because I still had 47 beers.

Lola came by herself, but brought with her fruit and an enormous dessert. And plastic stools (because we only have 8 chairs). Alexandra, Helio, and their daughter Lara (who wanted to take Romeo home with her by the end of the night) showed up next and brought more than enough food for a whole party. Poor Helio thinks he might have Celiac disease. I was so excited to offer my gluten-free cookies, but he really didn’t want any. They sort of tasted like sand.

John was worried no one would come; we had a party the night before, and it was a Sunday night, but in the end only Joe and Carla bailed. Carla is 7 months pregnant and it was raining badly by the time people came over. We watched my slideshow one more time, because Lola hadn’t made it to the party the night before.

Lina, Emanuel, Luisa, Ernesto, and Julia had gone out to dinner in Furnas but they came over afterwards, around 9:30pm. Lina brought her strawberry cheesecake, which everyone enjoyed, no matter how full they were.

No one would take any food home with them, so I didn’t think I would need to go grocery shopping again. Ever.

Berina and Alexandra’s sister, Marcy, had messaged me earlier on FB saying she had farm fresh eggs for me. She is a firefighter and would be at the bombeiros after 7:00pm. Because we had people over, I hadn’t gone. I took Romeo for a walk around 12:30am, after everyone had gone home. We walked by the bombeiros and I wondered if they napped at night, or if they had to stay awake. All of a sudden the garage door opened and I heard Marcy say, “I have eggs for you.” And then, “I’m sorry my English isn’t very good, but if you ever need eggs tell me. I have 20 every day.” You’re English sounds pretty good to me, I thought as I took a bag of more than two dozen eggs.

When I got home, I gave Ken some food and half the eggs. Neither of us was going to have to go grocery shopping anytime soon.

Day One Hundred Seventy Seven (um cento setenta e sete)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

31 Março 2014

When I woke up, the weather couldn’t decide what it was doing. It would rain heavily for 10 or 15 minutes, then it would stop and the sun would shine brightly. Then it would happen again. I waited until I thought it was done raining and headed out sans-Romeo. It didn’t rain for the first minute-and-a-half, then it poured, and then it was sunny for the remainder. I kept stopping to stretch my crampy calves until finally I didn’t think I could pick my toes up. My anterior tibialis were spasming. On both legs. I ran to the gym, paused my watch at 2.75 miles, laid down on the floor, and threw my legs onto a bench. I laid there until I thought I could foam roll without crying. I foam rolled for probably twenty minutes, until I felt almost normal again. I finished the last 2.25 miles of my run without event.

When I got back, John suggested we go to the gym in an hour, so we made lunch. I warmed up some leftover chili and fried some of my firehouse eggs to eat alongside. It had been fun to serve chili and hummus, because most of our Portuguese friends hadn’t eaten either of those foods.

We headed to the gym for Chest Day. Only, I wasn’t really in the mood. I foam rolled (again), did one set of DB bench to plyo push up, four rounds. Then I did a little core and told the boys I was all done. I went home to shower before heading down to Carla’s salon; she was doing my nails as a goodbye gift.

After she did my nails (a luxury I missed, and I will start doing regularly once I’m employed again), I got ready for my class.

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After class I went back to the gym to foam roll one more time. Ernesto was bugging me about not having gone to the gym that day (Where is John and Ken? They no workout today?). He hadn’t been there when we were, but his intern Alexandre had been. “Alexandre,” I said, “Weren’t we here earlier? Me, John and Ken?” Yes, yes, he replied, they were here. A few other guys I know (not very well) were there, too, so I decided to try out some of my Portuguese words, “It was mamas dia”. I said. Breast Day. I don’t know the word for chest (preto? No, that’s black..) so I say mamas para cima (breasts up) when I want my ladies to lift their chests. The men in the gym died laughing: “Do you know what you said? That is not chest!” I know, I said, that is Liza being funny. The next day, one of them put this on my FB wall:

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Maminhas means boobies.

Day One Hundred Seventy Eight (um cento setenta e oito)

Tuesday (Terça-feira)

1 Abril 2014

The weather was exactly as it had been the day before. Not in a hurry to go anywhere, I waited to go for my run. Which, today, was 10 miles. I waited until I thought the rain was over (at least temporarily) and took Romeo with me. What I usually do if he hasn’t gone out yet is walk with him for a few minutes before we start running.

After I started up my watch and began my (our) run, it started to rain. Suddenly and violently. Then it turned to hail. Romeo didn’t know what to do with that, so he ran in a zig-zag pattern on the side walk. Rather than finish our one-loop around the vila, I ran him straight home. Half a mile down, nine-and-a-half to go.

I changed out of my now-soaked t-shirt and put a new long-sleeve on, under my rain coat. After I dried Romeo off I headed back out. Oh, the sun. The sun was out now.

I took my arms out of my rain coat sleeves and tied it around my waist, with the bottom still zipped halfway. A few minutes later it started to rain again, so I untied my sleeves, threw my arms back in, and kept running. A few minutes later when the rain stopped and the sun came out, I reversed the process again. I continued along in this manner for the rest of my run.

The last 3 miles it didn’t rain at all, and by the time I finished, the sun was actually quite strong. I saw Rui about to pass my house when I was done. I stopped my watch and talked to him, “What are you doing?” I asked, and he said he was going to take a coffee. Aguenta: Wait here, I said, and I ran inside our apartment to drop my raincoat and grab my wallet and water.

John and Ken had already gone to the gym (no, no, don’t wait for me), but we saw them at Pic Nic. It was just after 1:00pm, so the place was packed. Rui and I got a two-person table on the side and enjoyed our cafes. I told him we were leaving on Friday and he told me a bunch of stuff I couldn’t understand. Not only is my Portuguese not that good, but he mumbles a lot (he has dentures), so I can’t understand anything the guy says. Lola came by our table and invited me to dinner the next night, while the boys played futsol. We were already going to Alexandra’s house that night for dinner, but I said yes anyway.

I needed to buy some peanuts, because John had finished all my homemade PB the night before. Rui followed me to Antonio’s. While I was there I remembered that John wanted cookies, so I bought chocolate-filled Maria’s and vanilla-filled Maria’s, and I also bought a bunch of candy to take home. And coconut biscuits, the kind that Lola and Dina make.

Because I had only gone in for peanuts, I hadn’t bothered to grab a basket. Of course, now my arms were full. Rui took my items, one by one, and settled them in his arms. I asked him if he wanted me to buy him any candy, “No, thank you.” or any gum, “No, thank you.” Nothing? I asked, “No, thank you.”

He grabbed my bag of groceries while I paid and he carried them home for me. Sweet little Rui. It makes me sad when people call him Cavarinha (pea brain).

When I got home I showered and packed and thought about (briefly, very briefly) going to the gym. John and I were going to bring our bags to the gym to weigh, but then John smartly suggested bringing the scale home instead. I walked over and Alexandre warned me that it might not be accurate. I know (from occasional use) that depending on where on the scale you stand, the scale could be up to 2kg different. I weigh less when I lean forward onto my toes.

I weighed our bags a few times to make sure I was pretty-close to knowing what they weighed. I really, really, really was planning to bring the scale back to the gym and workout before my class, but then it started to rain. Again.

I brought an empty suitcase filled with tupperware and dishes that had been filled with food but now had to be returned. The suitcase I ended up giving to Lina because I am not bringing it back to the states. Used only once: to get here. We didn’t even bring it to Spain.

I went just before 6:00pm when the rain stopped again, but then I only had time to foam roll and do one superset (decline sit ups to SB knee tucks) before heading over to teach.

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Leila’s brother Philip doesn’t come because he loves to work out. He likes to sit and socialize.

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When I got home I quickly Skyped with my cousin while I got ready for dinner. Leila picked me up and we went to Alexandra’s house, which was easier this time because we knew which house was hers. And which door to knock on. John and Ken were invited, but they had practice or futsol every night that week, so we made plans without them.

Alexandra is a great cook, and she made a delicious pork roast, and an octopus and bean salad, and coleslaw, with rice and salad, and a chocolate cake for dessert. I drank again, just to keep my streak going. Leila and I left around 11:00pm and I was so tired and full and not-feeling-good that I immediately messaged Lola and said that there was no way I was going to be able to have dinner at her house the next night. I couldn’t keep going out, and Philip was taking us out on Thursday. Deculpa, querida.

Day One Hundred Seventy Nine (um cento setenta e novo)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

2 Abril 2014

Apparently Mother Nature didn’t read my Facebook comment. I got up at 8:00am to run 7 miles. I didn’t have the same luxury as I did the two previous days; I couldn’t wait until it was not raining to run. I put on a long sleeve (because it wasn’t raining as hard) and dealt with rain, sun, rain, sun, rain, rain, sun. When I got home just before 10:00am, I was planning on taking Romeo out for a walk, but even he didn’t want to get out of bed. I hopped in the shower and began my getting-ready-rituals.

Lina was taking me to the airport to send some bags as cargo (much cheaper than bringing them on the flight with us). She picked me up at 11:00am and we drove to the SATA office in the old airport. We stopped on the way at the same vet we had gone to with Romeo the week before so Lina could ask about her cat. She had her spayed last week and the incision was a little red and swollen. That sweet German lady who thought Romeo was a girl told her not to worry, it was normal and Friday she was going back to the vet to have her little kitty stitches removed.

We found the SATA office pretty easily (we only went in one wrong office first, and we had left the bags in the car). The lady at the SATA office gave us a little attitude when we asked if we were in the right place, but she ended up being pretty nice. Once we brought the bags in, had them weighed and measured, gave lots of information, and paid, we left. Paying was the only part that was sort of eventful; the mean-turned-nice lady didn’t have a strong signal on her credit card machine, so she had to stand outside with it so it would go through. Luckily, it was sunny in the city.

We left the old airport and headed for the hospital. Leila was going to meet us for lunch, but we were still early and Lina needed to book a mammogram. Leila has been on her case about booking one, so Lina decided she really should have it done. We parked at least a ½ mile from the hospital entrance and walked (I was beginning to understand why Leila doesn’t leave the hospital for her lunch break—it’s not worth the trouble). It took us a while to find the imaging department, and we walked through a strange little cafeteria with a few people on stretchers next to people eating french fries. I was glad to learn later that there is a separate cafeteria for employees; I had been picturing Leila eating lunch in this sad little room.

Once we found imaging the receptionist told Lina that her prescription was for a private clinic, not a public hospital. She still didn’t make a mammogram appointment, but she was a lot closer.

Leila told us to wait outside cardiology for her to be done with her patient. Just before 1:30pm, Leila appeared and we retreated to the parking lot. She had a better spot than us, so she drove us to our car. Carla called from the Chinese restaurant and said she was starving. She wanted to see what to order, because she didn’t want to wait. This is reason #1 I love eating with pregnant women.

One appetizer was already on the table when we arrived to meet Carla, her mom, and her cousin Sandra (the one who dyed my hair the same color), and the rest of the food soon appeared. I wasn’t going to get dessert but then Carla asked me to split an ice cream with her. But when it arrived Carla deemed it too small and ordered another so we could each have our own. This is the second reason I love eating with pregnant women.

Lina, Leila, and I stopped at the American store after lunch where Lina stocked up on a few things. Me? I don’t need anything 🙂

We headed to the mall (and left Leila’s car behind) next to get a few things at Continente (I bought 10 packs of kinder buenos to bring back to the states). We went back to the car, got in, and went about 15 feet before Lina realized she forgot to buy her dad some pajamas. We parked, got out, and went back into the mall. We ran into Carla, her mom, and Sandra at the pajama store. We went back to Continente so Lina could buy shrimp; Ernesto wanted to have John and Ken over after futsol to say goodbye. And Ernresto had pictures made for John and Ken (and Bobby) that he had signed. Just like mine.

We piled back into the car again and Leila said she was tired and had a headache (probably from driving to the city and back every.single.day, next week she is going to start staying in Ponta Delgada at her family’s apartment). I offered to drive her car home for her, so she could relax. Which I did, but I don’t think she did very much relaxing. Lina drove us back to Leila’s car and we all went back to Povoacao.

Leila was nervous that I was speeding, she was nervous that I was going too slow, she was nervous about everything. I tried to do my very best driving so she could relax, but when we got to Furnas (and stopped at Gloria’s to get caramel cakes for John and Ken, and a fofa for Lucy) she said she would drive the rest of the way.

When we got back I got ready for class, ran to Pic Nic for a coffee (now I had a headache!) and stopped at Sol-Mar to buy a pen. I had decided to give all my blue bands away (John gave the lighter black bands to Filipe for coaching) to the ladies in my class. I wanted to sign them, but I didn’t have a sharpie. Leila couldn’t find hers so I figured I would stop. Not only did Sol-Mar not have Sharpies (or anything like one) they didn’t even have regular pens. I hate this store.

I quickly foam rolled before class (although I felt much better doing 10 the day before, my 7 was kind of a drag), and then headed over to teach.

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I wasn’t sure if Ernesto inviting Ken and John over after futsol was supposed to be a surprise or not (and I wasn’t sure how to trick them into going over to Toronto) so I just told them. They stopped home briefly after coaching the juniors before futsol. I went down to watch them play for a little while (after I made myself dinner and relaxed at home, like I wanted to do), and then went to Toronto for a little while.

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Lina had made shrimp, chorizo, and pancakes. She joked about what a weird combination it was, but it sounded like southern food to me. Ernesto doesn’t eat shellfish, so Lina had made him pancakes, and who doesn’t love pancakes?

Day One Hundred Eighty (um cento oitenta)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

3 Abril 2014

When I got up I ran 5 miles, knowing that I was probably going to skip the gym. When I got back I had five messages and one missed Facebook call (who knew you could make phone calls through FB?!) from Philip. Lucy made fish for lunch. He told me to meet him at the bank, where he works, at 11:55am and we would go eat lunch with Lucy. I was going to invite John, but he was asleep. It had started to ran, so I ran over to Pic Nic for a cafe before running into the bank. Liliana and Philip got ready and we shared an umbrella on the way to Liliana’s car. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Lucy is a great cook.

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After we ate fish, delicious cole slaw, and steamed veggies, Liliana drove us back down to the vila. I was going to wait at the house for Leila, but she wasn’t getting out of work until later. I settled in at home to finish packing while I waited for her. John and Ken came back from the gym just as I was putting some pistachio bites in the oven. I had been packing up the kitchen, and putting food in bags to give away, so I used up some nuts, seeds, and a banana to make healthy snacks for the next day.

When my treats were done cooking we went to Pic Nic for a cafe. Leila said she would be back by 4:30pm so at 4:05 I ran to the post office and Antonio’s (for more cookies to pack!). When I got back, the lady who works at Casa Campos (who I don’t even know!) told me that Leila was looking for me. What?

I got back in the door and began changing my laundry over when the doorbell rang. Leila! I was at the post office, I told her. “I know”, she said, the lady from Casa Campos told her I wasn’t home. Weird.

We got into her Fiat and drove to Furnas where we bought 15 bolos levedos for me to bring home. We stopped at Pic Nic for, you guessed it, more cafes. I went home to design my very last ALKE workout.

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I walked over with my bags of food and dog food for Lina. It had started to rain again and the door was locked, so I went inside ALKE for the key, where I found intern Alexandre with a camera. He was going to take pictures of my final class.

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This picture is of my core group, minus Lola. There were three other girls in attendance, but they had never come to any other classes, so they skipped out on this pic.

I wrote notes on my blue resistance bands and gave them away as parting gifts. I didn’t cry.

After class I went home to shower and get ready for dinner. Philip and Leila picked up me and John and then we picked up Ken so he didn’t have to walk in the rain. We headed back to Furnas to eat at Caldeiras.

When we arrived, Lina, Ernesto, and Liliana were already there (but otherwise, the restaurant was empty). We ordered wine and cheese (none for me!) and then I decided to have the fish, since last time I was there I had the chicken. Leila ordered for me, but then they brought me the chicken. Leila was upset and tried to tell the waitress that she had made a mistake, we had ordered fish (I wasn’t concerned–the chicken was delicious), and the waitress tried to argue with her. They don’t work for tips over here. I got a big fat piece of chocolate pie, too.

We enjoyed our last supper and tried not to be sad. We will be back someday.

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25 Weeks in Povoacao. Como se diz?

Day One Hundred Sixty Eight (dia cento sessenta e oito)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

21 Março 2014

I got up early enough to run 5 miles before we hit the gym. I got back around 10:30am, and John was still knocked out. I set out to do a little cleaning, mostly the things I hate to do so I just don’t, like wash the windows, and clean the dryer filter (no, not the lint trap). At least I found €1.10 in the dryer. When I finished cleaning the tub of the dryer-filter-debris, John still wasn’t up so I decided to shower. He finally got up around 11:30am, but at that point I was committed to deep-cleaning. I’d go to the gym later….maybe.

I was trying to decided whether or not I should put real clothes on (what? Cut-off sweatpants aren’t appropriate in public? Tell me something I don’t know) and head to Pic Nic when I remembered that we hadn’t given Ricardo any of John’s birthday cake. I scooped some into a glass jar I had saved (John calls it hoarding, but I call it preparedness) and, after changing, went down to Pic Nic where I found John and Ken. I gave Ricardo his jar of cake and got a cafe. It was warm enough to wear shorts.

John went to the Mira Mar office and back to the gym to grab his phone and I headed home to continue cleaning the windows (I hate cleaning windows. I don’t think I cleaned the windows once in Newton and we lived in that apartment for two-and-a-half-years. #judgeme). One of the main reasons I hate cleaning them is because they seem to be instantly dirty again, especially when you have a husky stalking the cats outside of said windows. Yeah, yeah, Romeo. Keep trying to shove your wet nose through the window; you’ve almost got ’em.

After I made banana bread for John (and Paleo brownies for myself which John later deemed “pretty good”), I did finally head to the gym around 5:30pm so I could squeeze a quick work out in before I went above Toronto to teach. I foam rolled thoroughly first because my calves are still swollen and I had 14 miles to log in the morning. I did the same workout John and Ken had done earlier, plus some extra core:

  • :30/:15 4 rounds:
  • SB knee tuck to push up
  • Curl-squat-press
  • Chin-ups
  • Box blasts

I thought I was going to kill the chin-ups because I have been doing so many pull-ups, and the last time I did chin ups I could do 8 in a row (maybe even 9). On Thursday we did strict pull-ups and I did sets of 3-and-a-half or 4. Kill chin-ups I did not; in thirty seconds I did maybe one set of 4 or 5, dropped, then 3 or 4 more. Damnit.

  • Core, :45/:15 3 rounds:
  • leg lifts
  • suitcases (round 1) navy seals (rounds 2 & 3)
  • side bends right
  • side bends left

I headed over to Toronto to teach.

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John had practice so I had leftover bacalhau and veggies with lentils for dinner.

Day One Hundred Sixty Nine (dia cento sessenta e novo)

Saturday (Sabado)

22 Março 2014

I slept until 9:30am. I was planning on going for my longest-long-run around 10:30am, but then Carla had to come over with a guy to fix our sliding glass door, because it doesn’t slide. I thought that maybe it was because it’s full of dog hair, but Carla said it has needed new rollers for a while. John ran next door and got toothpaste for us and he tried to buy shampoo for me. I told him the Portuguese word was champu and they sell really really ridiculously big bottles of it in crazy scents for one euro everywhere. He came home and said, “Nothing said ‘champu’ on it. The lady told me they were all shampoo.” The bottle said “shampooing” on it. It was conditioner. I officially hadn’t washed my hair with shampoo since Wednesday, and now I’m thinking I won’t. I also have been trying to dry my hair less, since I totally fried it on our trip to Barcelona. I will not wash, nor dry my hair, for the remainder of our stay. The amount of which has still not been publicly released.

I finally took off with Romeo around 11:15am. The sun was beaming so I opted for shorts and a tank top. Sometimes up in the lombas it is chilly, but it is worth being chilly for a little while just to run in the sun. I dropped Romeo off after mile one. I stopped to stretch my bulging calves at mile three.

I did a little more than 4.5 miles before I headed for lomba do Alcaide. I struggled up the beginning, until I came to lomba dos Pos where I stopped to stretch again, mile five-and-a-half. I stopped one last time at the very end of lomba do Alcaide to get water from the faucet that makes me feel like Alex Owens from Flashdance. Well, it used to make me feel that way, but now there is a hose on the end, so I feel more like a beached whale. Whatever. Mile 7.75.

I ran to where lomba do Loucao starts at Diane’s princess house and another half-a-mile still, before turning around and heading back to lomba do Alcaide and back down the way I came. I passed the faucet where I stopped earlier (beached whale) at mile 11. I found John heading to Pic Nic at mile 13.9 and asked him to run my last minute with me, but he had to meet the juniors. So, I ran around him in circles until my watched said mile 14. done.

Sometimes when I plug my watch into Nike+.com, what my watch called 14 miles, Nike+ calls 13.99. I usually try to run an extra .01 to alleviate this problem, because it stresses me out. This happened. This annoys me.

IMG_2355This is a really old picture, of me with my twins after my first half marathon in San Francisco. I wish I could always go out in public dressed this way.

I showered and ate and went to Pic Nic by myself and put up my Week 24 blog post. I went home to have a salad and I made John and Ken dinner for when they got back from the juniors game. I made another banana bread since they finished the one I had made the day before.

Lina had planned a Desperate Housewives dinner in Furnas for 8:00pm. Her car was full, so I was going with Leila and Lola. I had asked John to drive us there and pick us up in Leila’s car so we could all drink, which he said he would do, but then Leila said she is on meds because she is sick so she wouldn’t drink. Then Lola didn’t drink either, so it really wasn’t a big deal.

Leila picked me up around 7:15pm, just after John had come home and reported another loss (6-1, which actually wasn’t as bad as Arsenal’s 6-0 loss earlier in the day), and we stopped at Pic Nic to get cafes. Lola’s husband dropped her off, we got into Leila’s car and drove to Furnas where we promptly arrived at 7:58pm and were the only ones there for at least half-an-hour.

Alexandra and Liliana arrived next, and finally Carla, Lina, Paula, Luisa, and Catarina. Lorena arrived last, and by herself, coming from Ribeira Grande. We got settled in at the long table they had set for us. When we had the last Desperate Housewives dinner at Toronto Night’s, Lina set a round table, which is so much better. At a long table, you can only talk to the people right next to and across from you. I deliberately sat not at the end, because that is the worst seat. Lola and Leila took the ends, and me and Luisa, respectively, sat next to them. I had Liliana on my other side, who was sick last Saturday when we had dinner together and was still sick. Actually, she might have been a different type of sick now; she left the table twice to throw up. But she and Alexandra stayed until all three courses had been served and cleared.

Everything we had was delicious; Lina had gotten us a fixed price that included soup, dinner, wine and dessert. We started with a fish soup, got to choose chicken or fish, and then had a queijada de inhame (tiny little yam cake) with vanilla ice cream for dessert. I ate all of my food, a lot of Leila’s and Lola’s food, some of Liliana’s food and all of her dessert. I was stuffed.

After we finished the wine we moved on to 3 Bicas for more drinks. Leila hates parking, but we found someone who is worse at it than she is.

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In case anyone was wondering what a typical Portuguese person drives, it is not this.

I was pretty tired at that point and also incredibly full, so one shot of tequila and a bottle of water was more than enough for me.

My pregnant Carla:

Carla CatarinaCatarina, Lina, and me

The service is terrible here, just as it was when John and I went before with Leila and Ze. Once we finally got someone to take our money, we piled into our separate cars and went home. John was passed out, and while I had been almost on-my-face at 3 Bicas, once home and in my own bed, I was wide awake. John and Ken had finished the second banana bread in two days.

I read Ordinary People with my legs up against the wall. #runnerproblems

Day One Hundred Seventy (dia cento setenta)

Sunday (Domingo)

23 Março 2014

I was hoping to sleep like a baby after all that food and wine, but not so much. After falling asleep sometime after 2:00am, I stayed in bed until 9:30ish, but I hadn’t slept well. After I took Romeo for a stroll, John and I went to Pic Nic for cafes.

We went home and I made John pancakes because we didn’t have any cereal. Sleepy Sundays are still a hot commodity, and we’re not going to have many more before we head home and back to reality.

Eventually John went back to Pic Nic for some soccer game that was on. He came back around 2:00pm and said Pedro would drive us to the seniors game. John wasn’t playing (he’s done playing, he only practices). I told John I would’ve hoofed it up to the complex with him if we had to, but I was glad for Pedro. It had started to rain.

Pedro picked us up around 2:30pm and we secured seats inside the box with Serenela, Glebiana, Mufasa, and Mira. Sometime in the middle of the game, it stopped raining.

They played against Nordeste, who they tied twice in the regular season. Mira Mar won: 3-0. Berto with two goals, and Majid with the other. Adam got to play, and Vitor played with a broken toe.

When we got home I immediately got a message from Alexandra inviting me to her house for cinnamon buns. I was supposed to Skype with my dad in a little bit, so I called him on his cell phone using my Skype credits and caught him at Lowe’s. He was surprised it was me, “Liza?!”, and we caught up for a few minutes before Leila picked me up.

Alexandra makes cinnamon buns on the regular on Sundays, and I always complain that she doesn’t invite me. Of course, I had eaten like a pig the night before and knew that if I went to her house I would continue to eat everything in sight. Which is exactly what I did.

Leila picked me up and said she didn’t know where Alexandra lived. “I do!” I rejoiced. She has told me, as has Lola, that she lives in the pink house on lomba de Cavaleiro. I have run by her house and know exactly which one it is. I thought.

It had started to rain again when we were parking. They were a lot of cars in the driveway for the house next to the pink house, so Leila wasn’t sure the pink house belonged to Alexandra. I’m sure! I said, she’d told me a hundred times it was the pink house. The other house was definitely brown, not pink. I knocked on the pink door, but no one answered. We went to the brown house and an older woman answered. Leila asked her if she knew where Helio and Alexandra lived, and she told us they lived downstairs (I suddenly remembered that Alexandra told me she lived with Helio’s Tia). Tia de Helio ushered us inside (after telling us to wipe our feet, because she had cleaned) and showed us the door to the basement, where we found our friends.

Telma, Lola, and their significant others were already there. Alexandra also made an apple cake, chicken wings, and lemonade. I probably ate half the apple cake and at least 10 cinnamon buns. We discussed first impressions, baby names, Portuguese slang (Alexandra loves to teach me nasty Portuguese words and tell me they are other things. Like that time she told me her middle name was pinchelo, which means “pubic hair”).

Leila took me home where I promptly got into bed. John asked if I was going to sleep already, to which I relied, No, but everything I still wanted to do that day could be accomplished in bed.

 

Day One Hundred Seventy (dia cento sessenta)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

24 Março 2014

I got up, walked Romeo, and then went to Antonio’s to buy cereal for John, where I saw one of the ladies who stopped coming to my class a while ago. Her English isn’t great, but I used some of my Portuguese to tell her we were going home kind of soon. She got a real serious look on her face and gave me three hugs before she left. John is already trying to bet how much crying I’m going to do when we leave. It’s going to be a lot.

When I got back, I headed out for five miles, bringing Romeo for the first one. Ever since I came in second in Ribeira Grande, the lady who cleans my street (who has a Facebook account but not all her teeth) says Bom Dia and Ola! Every time I pass her, which on a vila run is at least 5 times.

When I got back John was getting up. We headed to the gym for Chest Day. Ken was supposed to meet us there, but he no-showed.

We went to Pic Nic after, and sat outside (because it was BEAUTIFUL). Carla came over and sat with us. She found someone for our apartment for when we move out, which is good for her. He is a doctor from continent and he’s living in one of her mom’s apartments until we head home.

After we went home for lunch, we both went grocery shopping. We went to Casa Cheia where we found the bread van outside (score) and then to the fruit market where I found avocado (double score). We sat down outside at Pic Nic for drinks, and shortly thereafter, Ken came by. He had fallen back asleep after texting with John that morning, and had done Chest Day solo that afternoon. John and Ken’s junior practice was cancelled (no game this weekend) so I went home to make chili for all of us. I was reading up on Macro diets the other day and tried calculating my own (which I never perfected, and kept getting different macros, but whatever). I downloaded an app to see how my own diet matched up. P36 means I didn’t eat enough protein and those nasty minus signs means I ate too much fat and carbs. I’d call Day One an Epic Fail.

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I headed off to class and John and Ken headed off to play Fifa.

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Ken and John got home a few minutes after I did. After we ate, John and Ken went to play futsol. They just had one mission to complete first: return the stolen mattress to Fatima’s. We took it when my parents stayed here almost two months ago. It’s time to bring it back. John tied Romeo around his waste and they walked it back up the street. Is there such thing as a un-con mission?

Day One Hundred Seventy One (dia cento setenta e uma)

Tuesday (Terça-feira)

25 Março 2014

Nike+ is the training plan I am following for my upcoming (Nike) half, two other halves, and a 200-mile relay (who’s idea was that?). I have their app, but I also have a We Run DC app that is linked to my Nike+ account. Everyday, these training plans show the same runs. Everyday except for this day.

This day Nike+ said 3.75, but We Run DC said 8. They were both interval runs (1m. warm-up, then .75 fast, .25 recover, repeat, cool-down 1m.). I was feeling a whole lot better than the week before, so I set off to do “at least 6”, figuring I would split the difference. I ended up doing all 8. I felt awesome.

My plan was to bail on the gym if John had left without me (or maybe go later…maybe). But he was still in bed when I got back! He got up and we got ready. We met Ken at the gym. John said he was not doing leg day, I only wanted to do light, and Ken wanted to do heavy legs so we each did our own workout. John did some upper body stuff, Ken did back squats, and RDLs, and I did front squats, step ups, single leg RDLs, and butterfly squats.

After we went to Pic Nic we headed home to meet the guys who were fixing our kitchen doors. Because of Romeo, Carla wanted us to be home when they came by. Rather than work on the doors there, they took our doors, fixed them, and brought them back a few hours later. Unfortunately for us, it was not as warm as the day before and it was flipping cold to not have any doors. But they weren’t gone long, brought them back, put them in, all while another guy fixed our shutters that broke a few months ago. In an effort to get closer to my macros for the day, I had eggs with ham for lunch, and chicken and lentils for dinner. Getting enough protein takes some real effort. Macros Day Two: Epic Win (close enough)?

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I applied for Mass Health before the 3/31/2014 deadline hit, and got ready for class. John had practice so I came home, ate dinner, walked Romeo and got in bed.

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Day One Hundred Seventy Two (dia cento setenta e dois)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

26 Março 2014

After deciding to run 8 and feeling good, and then doing light legs (light? then why am I SO SORE) running 7 was miserable. I barely made it home. John and I stopped at Pic Nic for a cafe before meeting Ken at the gym, where we did (#thankyejesus!) Arms:

  • weighted dips
  • DB curls
  • tricep cable pulls
  • planks (boys did upright rows)

When John, Ken and I got to Pic Nic it was packed. We secured one 2-person table so I left John and Ken there, and headed to Antonio’s. We needed dog food and dish soap so I caved and bought shampoo (champu). I headed home to wash my hair for the first time in 7 days.

Leila has been asking me and asking me what I want to do before we leave (I don’t want readers to get too excited; we’re not leaving that soon). I don’t really know what I want to do that we haven’t done already. She didn’t have to go to the hospital Wednesday, so she picked me up and we went to Poca de Beija, the small hot pools. Leila tried to tell me at Carnaval (where there was lots of alcohol) that we could never be really good friends because her English isn’t good, we can’t communicate, blah blah blah. Her English is great and we are becoming very close friends. After Poca de Beija we went to Gloria’s where we got bolos and cakes. I got some caramel cake for John and Ken.

When I got home, John and I each had a bolos. I got ready for class and John and Ken went to play futsol with a few of the juniors, since they aren’t practicing this week. Leila and her brother Philip were taking us out to dinner after class. This was the second day in a row I had 12 ladies!

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After class I scooted home to shower, John and Ken were at Pic Nic, and I found a giant turd Romeo had left for me upstairs. John came home and they took him for a walk while I finished getting ready. Leila and Philip beeped around 8:15pm.

We were going to Lagoa for dinner, to a place Philip had been before. It turned out to be inside a youth hostel, and was totally dead. This is, on Sao Miguel at least, not a deciding factor for whether a restaurant is decent or not. In the states if we walked into an empty restaurant, we would probably turn around and leave. We ordered bottles of wine and meals, which I took photos of.

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We thoroughly enjoyed all of our food and our wine. I had pork that had stuffing on the outside, Philip had pasta, Ken had a traditional Azorean steak with egg and french fries. John had a steak that had bacon and bread underneath it. Leila got chicken wrapped in bacon, and on the side it had ananas (pineapple) with cocktail sauce. I know what you’re thinking, but it was actually really tasty.

Ken even asked for bread to slop up the remaining sauces so he didn’t miss a drop. We piled back into Philip’s truck to head somewhere else for dessert. There is a bar on the beach about 10 minutes from the hostel-restaurant that serves crepes. It had started to rain and we had kind of a hard time finding the entrance, but we made it.

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Ok, so this doesn’t actually look as good as it tasted. Trust me, it tasted delicious.

We stayed almost until they closed and then headed back to Povoacao. 

Day One Hundred Seventy Three (um cento setenta e tres)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

27 Março 2014

After having gone out to dinner the night before and getting home decidedly late (for an old lady like me), I slept in. I woke up just before 10:00am and peaked at my phone. Leila had messaged me saying her mom, my sweet Lucy, wanted to have lunch with me. My immediate thoughts were; “No, because I physically can’t get out of bed” and then “When I do get out of bed, I have to run 5 miles…” I messaged her back, “Maybe another day is better, I’m still in bed”. I got up, brushed my teeth and put my contacts in (this process makes me human). I messaged her again; I’d love to go for lunch. This is a picture from a different day, but I Love Lucy.

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I set out for 5 miles without Romeo (much faster this way), hopped into the shower. Hell, I even styled my hair. Leila picked me up at noon.

We drove to her house on lomba do Alcaide where Philip and my dear Liliana already were. Lucy had made bacalhau, sweet potatoes, and a black-eyed pea salad. and two desserts. She made a custard pie and then a tarte de feijao which means bean pie but isn’t anything like the desserts I’ve made with beans (epic-fail brownies and chickpea cookies). It was sweet, and creamy, and tasted like cinnamon. Lucy’s aunt Mary Jo came by. She is Nedia’s mother and speaks English because she lived in Bermuda for 15 years. Her English was pretty damn good, but amused Lucy and Leila. It’s a lot better than my Portuguese.

Philip and Liliana headed back to work at the bank and Lucy pulled out pictures of Daniela, Leila, and Philip. They were mostly recent pictures, college graduations and such, but there were a few gems of them as little kids. Adorable.

I told Lucy I would give her a picture of me and John. She, like my mother, doesn’t like that digital cameras signified the end of the printed photo. We decided to go to Gloria Moniz (yes, again) for bolos and other treats. We stopped on the way at Nedia’s house where she showed me her DIY crafting skills (like the lamp shade she made out of cassette tapes–genius!) and her greenhouse. We had talked about the greenhouse when we walked the lagoa, because I have been telling everyone that when I get home I am going to grow my own vegetables (I can’t even keep house plants alive, so it’s going to be interesting). She cut me two big heads of lettuce and we were on our way. In the car, I added the lettuce to my bag of food that Lucy had given to me, which included all the leftovers from lunch. #foodfordays

We drove to Furnas and got bolos to take home, and I got coconut cake. Leila tricked me and got a ginormous piece of chocolate cake, and then only ate a few bites, which of course meant I finished it for her. My belly hurt for the rest of the day.

They dropped me off at home and I got ready to teach class. I was going to head to the gym to do Back Day before my class, but I just couldn’t. I decided to go afterwards.

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When I arrived at Toronto, Leila had one more thing for me: the tarte de feijao. I couldn’t bring that into the gym with me! I left it at Toronto, did Back Day (with foam rolling, I was in and out in 25 minutes), grabbed my tarte and headed home. I was still full from lunch and snacks, so I had some leftover salad with avocado while I Skyped with Anna.

Week 24! Second place, St. Patrick’s Day, tattoos (again?), and John’s Birthday! (oh my)

Day One Hundred Sixty One (dia cento sessenta e um)

Friday (Sexta-feira)

14 Março 2014

Since we didn’t end up going to Ribeira Grande I got to sleep in (no, this luxury doesn’t get old and I am trying to enjoy the time I have left!). When I did get up, I ran 5 miles and then went to the gym with John and Ken. After a totally haphazard gym week, we did Back Day. After we hit Pic Nic, we went home where John got back in bed and I made Larabars.

I also got the brine ready for my Corned Beef & Cabbage that I was going to make on Monday. I couldn’t find brisket, so I thought that I bought stew meat. I had actually bought some nasty, chewy, on-the-bone beef. But it would have to do. I melted down sugar and salt in a sauce pan of water and added garlic, bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon. I let it cool completely before I put the beef in it. I headed off to class.

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While we worked out we discussed the weather for Saturday morning; it was supposed to ran again thus prohibiting me from running in (and potentially WINNING) the Ribeira Grande Women’s Day Race. I just couldn’t bear the thought. We decided who was riding in which car and exited Toronto with promises to go the next day unless it was raining. We would leave at 9:00am.

I went home to eat dinner alone (a delicious stir fry with ground beef, lots of veggies, and cauliflower “rice”) and then indulge in the Best.Bagel.I.Ever.Ate.In.My.Life that Lina had handmade.

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She saved two for me and two for ken. I managed to only eat one and save three for John and Ken. And Majid.

After I came down from my gluten-high, I walked Romeo and went to bed. I (hopefully) had a big day the next day. Ken and Majid came over after practice to retrieve their bagels.

Day One Hundred Sixty Two (dia cento sessenta e dois)

Saturday (Sabado)

15 Março 2014

I got up early to pack a bag with clean clothes and snacks. It wasn’t raining, so it was game-on.

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We were going to have lunch afterwards and then drop Julia in the city for her own track event, so I wanted to be prepared. I walked Romeo and grabbed a cafe grande at Pic Nic before I met Lina in the Toronto parking lot, we went and grabbed Julia who told us her mom had walked to Toronto, so we scooted back to grab Luisa. I had seen Liliana at Pic Nic earlier and she told me she was on her way to Lola’s to go in her car with Leila and Telma. Everyone was going.

We got to Riberia Grande around 10:00am and they were just starting the warm-up, which consisted of a group of out-of-shape ladies doing tae bo. Remember that?

I was sizing up my competition and feeling pretty confident until a couple of high school track girls showed up, wearing their team jerseys. Damnit.

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After watching about 30 minutes of aerobics, we headed over to the starting line.

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womens day

I spotted a photographer and got the girls to pose with me. He came right over, “I understood you,” he said in very good English. “Oh! You speak English,” I said, excitedly. “Yes, but I understood that you were posing because you would like to have your picture taken.” Ding ding!

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In addition to the two track girls, another woman appeared who made me a little nervous; she was tall, slender, and wearing Nike tech capris and Aasics (no one here wears name brand stuff). It turns out she is the president of the athletic association who organized the race, and while she may be a competitive runner, she didn’t actually participate in this run.

There are some horribly dorky pictures of me standing with my GPS watch at the ready, waiting for Leila to tell me when I could begin.

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The gun went off and a few of us took off sprinting.

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I was behind the two track girls, another younger track girl, and an 8-year-old boy. There was a different route for the walkers, and the little boy took the short cut. Not long after, the younger track girl fell behind, then the other track girl fell off, too. It was just me and, I would later find out, Beatriz. My plan was to stay on her ass until the end, and then book it. If I passed her and then she passed me, I knew I would run out of steam before the finish. The first guy I asked told us it was 2km (1.2 miles) but then someone else told us it was 2.5km (1.6 miles), which it was. I finished my first mile in 6:36 (PR!). There was a hill after the second turn, and I figured it had to be close to the finish. I thought I had her, because hills are my bitch now. As soon as she got to the top she took off at a sprint—she must’ve known the finish was soon. I tried to catch up to her, but by the time I saw the finish it was too late. Here you can see Beatriz finishing and me rounding the corner.

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And then me. I finished 1.6 miles in 10:52.

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As soon as she crossed the line, she took a quick right and threw herself onto the ground. I ran over to her screaming: “Parabens! Bom trabalho!” Congratulations! Good job! And in English: “You won!” but she wouldn’t move. I turned around and saw my friend the photographer waiting for her. I threw my hands in the air, “I came in second! Take my picture!” He very nicely responded, “She won, she must get up. I need to take her picture first.” “But I’m standing!!” I screamed. I went over and tried to pick her up off the ground, still screaming.

IMG_2296In the background you can see my friend Beatriz, to the left of me, on the ground. Maybe I could have run faster.

Lina, Luisa, and Julia had taken the walking route, and were at the finish when I got there.

Lola finished next,

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then Leila,

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Liliana,

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and finally Telma. There was a Step aerobic class scheduled for after the run, while they got the awards in order. Lola tried to participate, but much like the tae bo, they weren’t actually instructing as much as they were putting on a show. She soon got frustrated and waited with the rest of us.

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We waited and waited and finally they changed from Step to Zumba and we waited some more. Along with the Zumba came some more trying to participate from our group, but after the 5th song or so, we were all done. I just wanted my second place prize and to go eat lunch.

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Finally, FINALLY, they stopped the Zumba-ing and began the awards. They called up Beatriz first, and another high schooler second. OMG, OMG! This meant she was in a different age group than me, and that I had WON my own age group. Me and my 7-person entourage began jumping up and down and screaming with joy. Beatriz enjoyed a rowdy applause. The next age group was called, and the next. To our surprise, they called Telma for 1st place in the Seniors age group (wait, was that my age group? Telma is 22…I am 25…). Our Telma? We couldn’t believe it and neither could she.

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She gracefully accepted her flowers and took the podium. Our group, again, erupted in applause. The second and third place winners had already left, so the announcer asked that friends or family members of those runners come and receive the awards on their behalf. Lina grabbed Liliana and they took second and third place.

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The announcer asked them to please pass on the trophies to their rightful owners. Lina handed hers back laughing; “I don’t even know them!” We were clearly having the most fun.

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The last group to be called were the Veterans; two ladies who looked 50+, and no third place winner (no third place participant!). They thanked everyone for coming out and put down the microphone. WHAT?

Chaos ensued amongst my group; they hadn’t called me up! Luisa immediately went for the announcer and began yelling in Portuguese, “THIS IS A SHAME. THIS IS SHAMEFUL. My friend came from SO far away to participate! You must DO SOMETHING.” As she was yelling, I walked over, “You saw me finish second!” I yelled to the guy, who’s name is Miguel and is now my Facebook friend. “Oh, yes I did. What’s your name?… Oh, I read the wrong line. I’m so sorry.” Telma gave me her flowers and trophy so I could at least get a picture on the podium.

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Luisa and Lina were still talking to Miguel and I was just prancing around holding Telma’s flowers. We all got on the podium and took more pictures.

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Telma who doesn’t speak English (she claims), turned to  me and said perfectly: “Eliza. Give me my flowers back.” I laughed until I cried.

Miguel procured some flowers and a trophy for me and we made it official looking for pictures. He asked me to compete in another event next month, but I will be back in the states by then. I don’t think he cared so much about me participating as he did about me bringing my posse. Somewhere there is a video of me kicking little boys off the podium just so I could take a picture holding Telma’s flowers. While I obviously wanted to be recognized for winning my age group, I think the way it happened makes for a much better memory.

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Lola, Leila, and Telma took off in Lola’s car back to Povoacao and Liliana came with me, Julia, Lina and Luisa to the city. We went to McDonalds for lunch and it was delicious. It was totally packed, and as soon as I ordered a chicken McWrap and a bowl of spinach and chickpea soup (only at a Portuguese McDonalds, Lina joked) I knew I should’ve ordered more. I was starving! As soon as I finished eating my first lunch I got back in line for another wrap.

We still had time before Julia needed to be at her own track event, so we went to Portas do Mar for coffee. While it had been overcast in Riberia Grande (and was supposedly pouring in Povoacao) it was absolutely gorgeous in Ponta Delgada. The sun was shining. We sat outside for cafes and then went to drop Julia off and return to Povoacao.

John and Ken were away at a juniors game when I got back, so I showered, snacked, and took Romeo for a long walk. I found Rui near the beginning of my walk and he provided company for the rest of my walk. I got him to sing to me. His English is much better than my Portuguese. His singing is also much better than my singing.

When I got back, I finished getting ready and then Leila picked me up. We were going to Telma’s boyfriend’s house in Ribeira Quente for dinner. I had called Pedro from my Skype app earlier and told him I’d pick the boys up at the gas station in Furnas, on the way back from the juniors game. Leila had some missed calls (I had given John her number) so I called the number back from her phone. It turned out to be the captain of the junior team, and they were just a few minutes away from the gas station. We picked the boys up and headed to Luis’s.

We laughed and laughed about all the ridiculous things that had happened at the race. Telma had put a picture of her flowers and her trophy on Facebook with the caption: “I don’t know how… but I won!”

A little while later Lola and her husband, Lino, showed up, along with Lola’s brother Helio and his wife Alexandra, followed by Dino and his wife, Liliana. We snacked on a tuna dip and olives that Lola had brought until Luis went to Dinis’s bar and picked up wings and french fries. He took orders for the bifana sandwiches, too.

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All of the girls who were there (Lola, Leila, Telma, Alexandra, and Liliana) come to my classes. We laughed about some of the things that happen when we are there, like why we call Alexandra “Equilibrio” (pron: ick-e-li-ber). We call her this because she couldn’t remember the English word for balance, so she said the Portuguese word with an American accent (this actually works for some words, like “relaxe”, but not all), Equilibrio (proper pron.: ick-e-li-bru).

Alexandra also tried to tell a story about when I had yelled at her the other day. Sometimes she gets a little wild-and-crazy in my class, and she yells at her sister, Berina, more than she works out. She was doing this the other day. She is telling the story, and she says “And then Eliza told me to ‘squeeze my shits!’”. We all burst out laughing. I asked John if he could guess what I really said to her. No? No guesses? I had told her to “Get your shit together”.

After we ate lots of chicken wings, chips, fruit, and bifana sandwiches,

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we put our coats on and went to Dinis’s bar to get cafes, shots, and pay for our dinner.

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John was fading; still sick and now also exhausted. Leila had not gotten over her cold either, so I asked her to take us home. Liliana said she had some lemon tea that would help, so we piled into two cars and went to her and Dino’s house. Leila dropped me and Liliana off and then went home.

We went inside where she gave me lemons and then Dino drove us home. Not long after we got home, Dino messaged me and asked if John and I wanted to go to Furnas the next day. I wish! John was a mess and I had 12 miles to run. Maybe another time.

Day One Hundred Sixty Three (dia cento sessenta e tres)

Sunday (Domingo)

16 Março 2014

I slept in because I do that now but also because I was exhausted from the night before. John and I were celebrating three years since our first date, and I was going to cook bacalhau. I headed up to Fatima’s to get some frozen cod (because that’s what Lucy told me to buy) but messed up and got the salted kind instead. I’ll tell you what that means later. But mainly it meant that we couldn’t eat it.

I was graced with a beyond beautiful day for my long run—only problem was that my legs felt like they were trapped in a vice. My calves were pulsating (pulsing?). I took Romeo for the first mile, stopped to stretch, and continued on my way. I ended up stopping again just before I hit mile 5, after I completed the hardest section of lomba do Alcaide because my legs were so uncomfortable. After a few minutes of stretching (and enjoying the incredible view!) I was on my way to finish seven more miles.

John was at Pic Nic watching some EPL games, so after I showered and ate (eggs and veggies..all day every day) I got ready to meet him and Ken down there. I checked out the “frozen” cod that I had bought earlier and realized that while it was rock hard, it was not cold. How could that be? I opened it up and felt the salt water smell hit my face. Damnit—salted. That meant that I had to soak it for at least three days before I could cook it. I guessed we would be having something else for dinner.

Originally, John had asked Lina to cook for us, but then she had to go to Ribeira Grande for her nephew’s birthday. That’s when I decided I would try to cook bacalhau. On to Plan C.

I had just walked in the door at Pic Nic when Lina messaged me asking if I was home. Not two minutes later, Filipe, who was sitting next to me, said that Lina was outside. She and Julia were waiting outside with fresh, homemade fofas. “Happy Anniversary,” she said. Love.her.

I headed home to start brinner, because we love pancakes, potatoes, and eggs. John also wanted to try a banana ice cream recipe he found on Pinterest, so he cut up and froze some bananas which we blended up with Nutella and a little soy milk.

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We watched Adult Children Of Divorce which I thought was hilarious and John didn’t.

Day One Hundred Sixty Four (dia cento sessenta e quatro)

Monday (Segunda-feira)

17 Março 2014

Saint Patrick’s Day!

Finally: tattoo day! I got up early so I could run 5 miles and shop before we left for Ribeira Grande. When I was out running, the lady who sweeps my street (instead of unemployment, the Portuguese government gives out jobs like “street sweeper” in 6 month contracts) called out to me; “Parabens!” translation: congratulations. “Facebook!” she called out, as way of explanation. And then “Taça! Taça!” which means cup, or in this case, trophy. Good news travels fast!

I went to Casa Cheia and Antonio’s because Mira Mar is no longer paying Fatima for our groceries (or more accurately they never have…either way, she’s not going to give us groceries for free anymore). I scooted home to try to make some peanut butter before we left, but I ran out of time once I had ground the peanuts down to crumbles. That would have to wait.

We went to Pic Nic where we met Ken. Carla and Joe came in right after us, so they sat with us. Vitor came in and told us we would leave in 10 minutes. We ran home to grab the leftover fofas from Lina to add to the other (healthy) snacks I had packed for the day. Once we were in the car, driving through Furnas, Vitor asked if we had been to Pico de Ferra before, which is an observation point. None of us had, and since we still had time, he said he would take us. We drove behind the Furnas Golf Club and up a steep hill. And up. And up. Until we finally peaked out over the top and Vitor immediately parked.

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You could see all of the Lagoa das Furnas and out to the ocean. It was a gorgeous view and we hit it on a beautiful day.

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After we enjoyed the view for a few minutes, and took a bunch of iPhone pictures, we hopped back in the car.

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John was still sick so he asked Vitor if he would take him to Continente (there is one in Ribeira Grande, too) to get some cough medicine. We were still early by the time we got to Ribeira Grande, so we all went to Continente first. Ken found Guinness which he bought for the St. Patrick’s Day feast we were having that night. We grabbed Halls for John and then headed to Rafael’s.

This is the second time I’d been there, so I knew it would be very cold inside. We waited a few minutes outside before he came down from his apartment next door. He had just drawn up my flowers from the pictures I’d sent to him. It was gorgeous. He put it on the transfer paper and then John helped me place it on my right shoulder. Go time.

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I laid on my belly for just over an hour while Rafael did his magic on my shoulder. I think it hurt more than the other tattoos I have, but I can’t be sure. John talked to Rafael about one more tattoo he wants, and he said we could come back the following Monday. Vitor said we would go get ice cream in Ponta Delgada before we went back to Povoacao. It was another stunning day at Portas do Mar.

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Vitor’s girlfriend, Carla, goes to the University of the Azores in Ponta Delgada. She and some of her friends met us at Portas do Mar where we first ate cachorros and then grabbed ice cream—I know, I know!!—before we got back in the car. I got a maracuja flavored soft-serve and it was bomb. Carla and her friends got ice cream from Burger King.

At that point it was 5:00pm and John and Ken had practice with the juniors at 6:00pm. We raced back to Povoacao in time for John to change and run down to the Camara where they get picked up and then turn around and walk straight home; practice cancelled. Not enough kids. I rinsed my beef off and set it took cook on very low while I was at class. I also cut up potatoes and carrots to boil in beer and spices while I was gone.

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When I got back I took the potatoes and carrots out of my broth and put my chopped cabbage in. John, Ken, and Majid came over and we feasted. Majid is Muslim, but he took a short hiatus from some of his religious obligations while here in the Azores. While he never ate pork, he did drink some. Apparently he is back on the Muslim band wagon and isn’t drinking. I told him I cooked the veggies in beer, and at first he didn’t believe me. (But it loses almost all the alcoholicc content when you cook it, right? And then I drained it, yeah?). He looked upset, but he ate my veggies.

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After dinner I pulled out the fofas and told Majid they were full of pork. THIS he believed; “But it looks like there’s just chocolate on top…”

All three of them headed off to play futsol at Vietnam and I laid down to watch The Boondock Saints alone. John came home and finished watching it with me.

Day One Hundred Sixty Five (dia cento sessenta e cinco)

Tuesday (Terça-feira)

18 Março 2014

My legs were still killing me from sprinting Saturday and then all my runs since then. I crawled 9 miles up lomba do Alcaide. As I was leaving for my run, I asked John what time he was planning on going to the gym. 11:30am, you say? What a shame, I won’t be back in time. No, no. Don’t wait for me.

When I got home from my miserable 9 (the sun was out, so I’ll take that as a win!) I ate more sweet potato and white bean veggie burgers, showered, and met the boys at Pic Nic. When I got home I painted my nails, went down and visited Carla, got a new gas tank, Skyped with my cousin and finally went off to the gym. I went really early so I could foam roll my swollen calves. Nike+ has titled this week of training “Test Your Limits” with a total of 45 miles, and I still had 31 to go.

John is still sick. Romeo is still a weirdo.

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I warned the ladies that the next day was my 100th class, and was sure to be a doozy.

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I went home to a quiet house—John was at practice. I Skyped with my adorably pregnant friend Cathy in California, ate dinner, and went nuts on Pinterest looking for a recipe for John’s birthday dessert. See what I made on Wednesday.

Day One Hundred Sixty Six (dia cento sessenta e seis)

Wednesday (Quarta-feira)

19 Março 2014

John’s Birthday!

I got up before John (usually the case, but this day was extra important!) to decorate. I used the only paper we had (lined) and the only writing instrument we own (pen) to make a banner for our bedroom doorway.

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Then I taped the leftover bow from my Valentine’s Day flowers with a note to the bathroom mirror. After a quick breakfast, I was off to do 7 more miles.

After my lengthy foam rolling session the day before, I felt great. I finished my 7 miles with a pace more than a minute/mile faster than my 9 miles. Hallelujah.

When I got back John was just getting up. He was surprised he hadn’t heard me decorating. He was still feeling sick, and told me he needed just one more rest day before he was going to 100 percent. I went off to the gym alone.

I did two mini circuits for four rounds each (weighted dips, push-press, hanging leg raises and SL RDLs, butterfly squats, decline sit ups) and about halfway through my second circuit, Ken showed up. “Where’s John?” he asked. “Didn’t he text you?” I asked. Apparently, Ken had no internet. We wondered if in addition to groceries, Fatima had also cut off their internet access due to lack-of-payment. Not five minutes later, John showed up!

I finished up my circuits and headed home to shower. After I met the boys at Pic Nic for my cafe grande I went home to make a cake (YES a real cake with butter and sugar… and wheat flour!) Martha-Stewart-style.

After spending what felt like hours on Pinterest and allrecipes.com, I finally decided to make a trifle using Martha’s Dark Chocolate Cake. I didn’t actually have a trifle recipe, and I’d never made one before. I decided to use chocolate pudding, vanilla pudding, and chocolate frosting for the other layers. I bought chocolate pudding (Instant Jell-O brand) at Casa Cheia the other day, so I stopped to buy vanilla at Antonio’s on my way home from Pic Nic. I got a Portuguese brand because it was so much cheaper. I couldn’t really read the directions, but understood the ½ liter of leite and something about mixing until dissolved. Very good.

When I got home I whipped up the cake batter (almost) following Martha’s recipe. I didn’t have brown sugar, so I used ½ cup less white sugar plus some honey. I also added some instant coffee and cinnamon instead of vanilla. While it was baking, I whipped up the puddings following the Jell-O Instant (and English!) directions. Five minutes later the chocolate pudding was pudding-like, but the vanilla was still totally liquid. I had, of course, thrown away the directions and changed the trash bag, so I went to google to see what I had done wrong. I googled “Boca Doce Baunilha Pudim”. Sure enough, this was not instant pudding and I was supposed to have boiled it before letting it set. I took it out of the fridge, transferred the pudding to a sauce pan, boiled it and mixed it, and then returned it to the fridge. I didn’t think it was going to end well.

In the meantime, I took the cake out of the oven for about 15 minutes so John could toast up some bolos levedos, and then I put it back in to finish baking. The cake ended up more dense than fluffy, kind of brownie-like. Probably because I messed with the cook time. But whatevs, brownies are good, too.

While the cake was cooling I made a Chocolate Frosting recipe I found on allrecipes.com. Once the cake was cool, I divided it into three sections.

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I cubed the first section and put it on the bottom of my “trifle bowl” (read: my salad spinner with the spinner removed. #ghettofabulous).

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I then covered that layer in chocolate pudding.

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Then I cubed the second section of cake and spread it out on top.

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Since I didn’t have any vanilla pudding yet, my trifle would have to chill like this for a while. I made a giant salad to go along with our smorgasbord of goodies for the evening and headed off to teach my 100th class.

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I ran over to Fatima’s on my way home and got Instant Vanilla Jell-O pudding and beers. I quickly cleaned myself up, and finished making my trifle (vanilla pudding, cake, chocolate frosting).

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I walked Romeo and then scooted back to Toronto to pick up the pizzas that Lina had made for us. I went home to meet Leila who had brought wine, vegetable quiche, and the biggest apple pie I’d ever seen. We sat down and drank until the boys came home from futsol.

John and Ken had to shower when they got home, but we dug into the quiche as soon as they walked in the door. Leila and her mom, Lucy, had made it and it was delicious. Lina’s pizza is always amazing and she made my cheese-free pizza with whole wheat crust, because she is the best. Toronto isn’t even open this week, but she said she would make pizzas for John’s birthday anyway. After we had eaten dinner, Ernesto stopped by with a tray of homemade cinnamon buns, also a la Lina. #dowehavetogohome?

Majid came over, too, and he couldn’t believe Lina made the pizza (Lina made one with no pig products for him), and we couldn’t believe he’d never had it before (Ken said: “Welcome to Povoacao”).

After we finished eating our faces off, Vitor and his friend Tiago came over, but I couldn’t get them to eat (we had SO much left over food!). I put candles into my trifle (mud pie?) and we all sang to John.

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I still couldn’t get Vitor or Tiago to eat, but the rest of us enjoyed Lucy’s apple pie and my trifle. Which was super rich and much more dense then any trifle I’d ever had, but John loved it so that’s what matters. I somehow managed to get all the leftover food into our fridge and around midnight Leila said she was leaving. I told her when she left I would go straight to bed. Which I did. While all the boys were still in the kitchen, I crept into bed and read Wheat Belly.

Day One Hundred Sixty Seven (dia cento sessenta e sete)

Thursday (Quinta-feira)

20 Março 2014

It was either all the excitement of the day before, or all the wheat in my belly, but I slept until almost 10:30am. It was raining, so I decided to run after the gym. John and I got ready and headed to meet Ken. Back Day. I packed a few glass jars with leftover mud pie/trifle and gave one to Ernesto. I brought two more to Pic Nic for Nilson and Monica. Nilson? We thought his name was Ernesto. I tried to tell John and Ken before that I thought his name was Nilson, and Ken finally decided to ask. I should’ve made a bet (because Ken is always wrong. For such a smart guy, he makes really poor bets). Ken couldn’t understand how we called him the wrong name all these months and no one had ever corrected us. Because they’re too nice, I tried to tell Ken. Just like they all call me “Lisa” and I never correct them. They are too nice.

We brought Ken home with us to help us eat leftovers. I got ready to run and took off before I could think too much about it. It wasn’t really raining anymore and I briefly thought about dropping off my long sleeve when the sky opened up and it began to pour. Nevermind. The rain stopped, the sun came out, and then it rained again. I finished 5 and went home soaking wet. After I showered, I heated up some quiche for lunch. Then I heated up some more. It was really good.

I brought some apple pie down to Carla, because Leila refused to take any home with her (“We made two!” she told me). I also cut another huge piece and put it on the plate Ernesto had brought the cinnamon buns over on. You’re never supposed to return a plate or tupperware empty, right? I would bring it to Lina when I went to class.

I had to do a follow-up questionnaire for the Institutional Review Board at Northeastern for research I barely got to do a year ago. It took me so long to get approval that my group hardly did any research. Now that my approved project is “ending” I have to tell them what I did. I almost completely forgot about the project. I went through my notes from 11 months ago and filled it out. #gradschoolproblems

I finally was able to cook the bacalhau I had bought on Sunday. It had probably soaked long enough by Wednesday, but we were having pizza for John’s birthday so I had let it sit one more day. It definitely wouldn’t be salty. I rinsed it off and boiled it in milk for 5 minutes, just like Lucy told me to do. I then put it in a pyrex full of azeite, cebola, y aho (olive oil, onion, and garlic) and put it in the oven on super low for about an hour. I was going to have it for dinner, by myself, when I got home from class. John had practice. John also needed my phone to make a phone call, so I took his iPad. His iPad that only had 4% battery. Greaaaaaat.

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Because I use a bluetooth speaker, his iPad managed to last the whole hour. I got home and made some veggies to go with my bacalhau and Skyped with a woman in Massachusetts who might hire me when I get home.

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She is a friend-of-a-friend looking for some after-school help with her kids (read: chauffeuring). Not an ideal job, but it will be immediate income, it won’t be difficult, and she said she would take me as long as I wanted to do it. So I can keep looking for another job and not feel weird or bad about it. She seemed lovely.

Romeo and I went for a long walk and I put myself to bed. I read up on lean body mass and Macro diets for fun.

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