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And after listening to the speech, I spent the rest of the day on the couch, pumping my body full of everything from green tea and chicken soup to Emergen-C and Oddwalla Wellness juice to holistic medicines and over-the-counter drugs.

I am trying not to freak out. Less than two weeks until my race and I can't breathe. This is not a good thing.

please don't be a sign

I got my bib number and race program in the mail yesterday. Since this is my first real running experience ever, I read everything carefully.

Yes, iPods are allowed. Yes, I can check in my sweats at the starting line and someone will bring them to the finish. No, there aren't any hills. (Yes!)

And as I continued to examine everything in my packet, I started to think, Wow, they really take a lot of precautions and put emergency information all over you just in case something happens.

And then I realized, Oh wait -- that's not emergency information. 911 -- crap, that's actually me.

one down

Knocked one off the list today: I went to Ume for lunch, and it was pretty damn good. Granted, I stuck to specialty rolls, edamame and miso soup, so I didn't try the nigiri, but what I did have was excellent.

One of the rolls was topped with salmon and a very thin slice of lemon. Man -- what a great combination of flavors! And I'm not usually a salmon fan (although if I do eat it, I prefer it raw -- for some reason, cooked salmon is too strong for me).

Definitely going back.

for lack of anything better

There are those times when you are sort of hungry but not really that hungry and definitely not craving anything specific or else craving something very specific -- so specific that you don't have it in your house at all, but are basically too lazy to change out of your pajamas and get in the car and go somewhere and buy it.

So you just stand in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open, even though you know this is one of those things that PG&E told you not to do if you are trying to bring down your energy costs.

And you stare into the refrigerator and think of things like Why do I still have soy nog when it's not Christmas anymore? and Will I ever really eat all of that Filipino candy? and Why is there so much butter?

And nothing is really solved. And then you repeat the process 15 minutes later.

rest day

No running today. Just cooking. Big batch of lentils and brown rice. A mushroom and onion quiche. My goal is to cut down on the lunchtime spending. And maybe try to get to bed a little earlier, just like Miss Mari here.


Wake up. Feed cats. Run 10 miles. Sit in ice bath. Take shower. Eat massive breakfast at Humble Pie, which now has Sunday brunch and apparently considers a portion of bacon to mean five slices (hell yeah!). Buy oatmeal and bananas at Trader Joe's. Go home and pass out on the couch for two hours. Wake up and have dance party with cats. Do radio show for work. Meet drunk friends at wine bar. Order spinach and meatball soup. Stop at Wendy's for fries on the way home.



I know, right? I might as well eat a tub of lard. But I can't help it. I am hungry all the time.

I'm blaming it on the ridiculous feat I am attempting to accomplish. I need carbs and protein. (OK, maybe I don't need bacon grease, but at least it was turkey bacon.)

A year ago, running three miles was barely possible. And now I plot out routes for 8-, 10-, 11-mile runs. I strategize about the best ways not to get hit by a car or chased by dogs. I worry about uneven pavement, locations of drinking fountains, stepping in poo. I sample various flavors of weird electrolyte- and calorie-replacing foods (so far, black cherry is good, and margarita-with-salt brings back bad memories of college) and practice eating said foods while running. I time myself (not pretty, but I do it anyway). I sit in ice baths. I drink coconut water and Emergen-C. I am concerned about chafing. I have a sock tan.

And in three weeks, I am somehow supposed to go 13.1 miles.

Holy crap.

for you, a cat in a box

So extremely glad it's Friday.

if only shopping didn't cost money

SETTING: A tasting room. Famous wine industry mom and her two 20-something daughters have just finished filming an interview with a camera crew for the 10 o'clock news. Said wine country family is now heading into the next room for lunch prepared by the winery chef. PR person is left in the tasting room to make sure the camera crew films everything it needs to film. Three purses are also left in the tasting room.

Younger wine country daughter, who also happens to be a model (no joke), returns to the tasting room to retrieve her bag and her sister's. Finds her bag. Begins to pick up PR person's bag also.

PR PERSON: Oh, that one is mine.

WINE COUNTRY DAUGHTER: Oh, sorry. My sister told me to get her bag. I should've known this wasn't hers. She's usually more stylish.


Jonah got one year closer to old fart-dom today, so we took him to pizza at Bricks.

Only it isn't Bricks anymore. It's now Brixx.

Apparently, Bricks changed ownership over the holidays, and the new owners are no longer allowed to use the old name or any of the old names for the menu items. The server -- a former Bricks employee who is now a Brixx employee -- assured us everything was the same -- just new names.

However, we discovered this wasn't actually the case. The new Brixx doesn't have an equivalent to the old Bricks' Gropinator, an all-meat, heart attack-inducing pizza (which happens to be the birthday boy's favorite). And all of the pizzas are now $2 more than they used to be. And -- this was especially painful for Todd -- they no longer have Anchor Porter on tap.

But what I missed most was the blonde woman with the tree tattoo on her back. I assumed she was the owner because she was at the restaurant every single time I went there. She was always super-busy but still managed to be so cheerful and friendly.

Sigh. And we all know how well I handle change. Ha.


He made butterscotch ice cream.

holy furballs

I craved something hearty and salty and green. So I went to the new Café Gratitude in Healdsburg during my lunch break and said, "I am accepting." (I am dead serious. This is actually how you order. All of the menu items are called "I am [insert hippie-speak adjective here].")

The woman behind the cash register replied, "You are accepting." She handed me a small brown box filled with Bhutanese red rice, kale, avocado, cucumber, scallions and nori. And yes, I did accept it.

While we waited for my credit card to go through, she asked me the Question of the Day. (Again, I am totally serious. They have a Question of the Day here. It is sort of weird. I am not used to telling total strangers personal things about my life. And yet I always answer the question because I feel like I have to do it in order to get the full Café Gratitude meal experience.)

Today's question: "What makes your life blessed?"

My answer (while trying not to cringe at the word blessed -- to me, almost as shudder-worthy as moist): "My cats."

This then led to a conversation about cats and cat names. The woman behind the cash register told me she has a cat named Porter, after the beer. I told her that my cats are Meep and Mari.

And as I was driving away, I realized I forgot to tell her that Mari is actually named after a video game. And that Meep really should have been called Fyodor Mudbutt.

road trip

There are other things in Point Reyes Station besides legendary cheese.

There is this sign, for one. Painted on the side of a brick building with boarded-up windows on which someone collaged the word "HOPE" with blue paper. Nearby, a taco truck-looking mobile called the Chinese Chuckwagon is parked.

But we weren't in the mood for eggrolls. Instead, we crossed the street and went indoors. We shared warm things -- pulled pork sliders, turkey chili, mac and cheese. And when we were done, there were books, a telephone wire wearing at least six pairs of shoes and a toy store displaying the Nunchuck -- a plastic gun that shoots miniature nuns instead of bullets.


In our usual slightly late, slightly non-traditional fashion, we had our Christmas dinner tonight.

Location: zazu, which can also be called Why Sonoma County Kicks So Much Ass and If You Live in San Francisco, Cross That Bridge and Drive, Drive to Santa Rosa Now.

I am tempted to make a list explaining exactly why zazu is so ridiculously awesome (black pig salumi that they make themselves, a "mystery wine" option where you have to guess the varietal and region, the nicest chef ever -- I heart Duskie!), but seeing as I made a big list yesterday, let's approach this from a different angle.

How about one simple phrase?

Grass-fed beef burger topped with foie gras and served with truffle fries.

12 months of eating

We discussed resolutions: Who makes them, if the promises are kept, if it's worth bothering to resolve in the first place. We thought, Maybe you have a greater chance of success if you only make one resolution instead of several. Or, Maybe you should resolve not to do something that you already don't do on a regular basis, so success is guaranteed.

But I like lists. And I like using the New Year as a reason to do things I have always wanted to do but haven't yet. Last year, I resolved to go to 10 restaurants I have been dying to check out. Surprisingly, I actually made it to seven of them.

My favorites were #7 Underwood and #2 south; I foresee return visits in 2009 and beyond. Water Street Bistro at #10 was pretty good too -- great food, except for the tiny pebble Todd found in his soup, which the server apologized profusely for -- almost to the point where we felt bad for bringing it up. Of course, Gary Danko -- my #4 -- was good, but really expensive, and if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I much prefer Cyrus for its creativity, warmth and impeccable service. Blue at #6 didn't knock my socks off, and Peter Lowell's at #5 had tasty food, but a really awkward atmosphere. And Mister Magoo's at #8 was just ... well ... um, interesting and sort of "dusty," to put it nicely.

Which leaves Quince, Azteca Market and Lolita's Market still to explore.

So what of 2009? On the to-eat list:

1. Quince: Goddammit, I still really want to dine here.

2. Taqueria Santa Rosa: One of the Wine Center chefs told me this is the best burrito in Santa Rosa. I am on a quest for the best burrito in Santa Rosa, and so help me, I vow to find it.

3. Avatar's Punjab Burritos: I've been hearing about this restaurant ever since I moved to the Bay Area five years ago (holy crap -- has it really been that long?), and I have no idea why I haven't tried it yet. Burritos and Indian food are two of my most favorite things in the world.

4. Nick's Crispy Tacos: Another one that I still haven't been to. What the hell is wrong with me?

5. Healdsburg Bar & Grill: They have truffle fries. And the Cyrus people are involved.

6. Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria: It's a salumeria! Bury me in cured meat goodness! Please!

7. Ume Japanese Bistro: It's close to work, and sometimes I have intense sushi and miso soup cravings.

8. Kara's Cupcakes: The San Francisco cupcakery comes to Napa any day now. I am counting down.

9. Divine Delights: OK. So you can't actually dine here because it's more of a retail shop than a restaurant. But these petits fours are supposed to be lovely.

10. Bottega: I like what Michael Chiarello has done with the casual stuff -- I spent quite a bit of lunch money at NapaStyle Paninoteca & Wine Bar when I was still at CDV (killer Panzanella, seriously). I'd like to see what his fancy-pants food is like.

hot dog riot

So 2009 begins with Dollar Day at the races. (This is becoming a tradition, I think.) There were dollar beers and a trumpet player in a red coat and a horse named Good Thoughts that made me a winner. (All of $11.70 in big money, baby!)

What there wasn't a lot of: Hot dogs. Yes, that's right. The vendors kept running out of them. We would wait in line, wooden tokens in hand, for what seemed like forever. And then we'd finally make it to the front, and then the guy in the cowboy hat would say, "Sorry, we're out."

Tragic. How can you run out of dollar hot dogs on Dollar Day?