Monday, April 11, 2022

Weekly Round Up: The One About Racing, Madonna, Art, and Unicorns


A weekly round up: eats, workouts, watches, reads.  In this week's edition I ran a race, took the ultimate trip back to the 80s, I'm taking a detour to talk about art and puzzles, and of course I'll get you up to speed on the jobby-job search. 


Once again I don't have much to say on the dinner front.  We scrounged around in the pantry for dinners this week and I made lasagna on Sunday (one lasagna = 3 full dinners for us).  As soon as I can get to it I'll be making a mountain of breakfast burritos and veggie burritos to restock the freezer for all of my non-dinner meals.


Sunday was an all in one day for running==>I knocked out the longest run for my half marathon training of 11 miles and the final 10 miles of that were my 5th race of this year.  The biggest difference between this race and my last race is that this time the snow came before the race.  It was coming down pretty heavy on the drive out but it wasn't sticking, the pavement was dry, and it wasn't very cold so it was all good.  This race was also a little more urban than the previous one so the only place to run was in the parking lot at the race start.  The lot adjoined with several others in a shopping mall complex so there was plenty of real estate to get the one mile that I needed.  Several of the other of the runners were getting some pre-race running in as well so I had good company.

The race kicked off and we went from the city streets into a park that was completely closed off to traffic.  I let myself run at whatever pace my body wanted and didn't look at my watch.  By the 3rd mile I was pretty much alone though I could at least see a few runners ahead of me.  The course was very well marked so I wasn't concerned about that, but I did have the sinking feeling that I might be in last place.  The isolation lasted until the turn around where I was able to see that there were at least two other people behind me so at least that was something.  I knew that I couldn't catch the runners in front of me and I never saw the runners behind me again so I wasn't worried about them passing me.  Mile 6 was pretty tough but once I was beyond that I could rationalize that the end was near-ish.

Good things to say: there was a lot of uphill in this race and I never considered walking for one moment.  So at least I've come that far from last year.  I can't say if I've gotten any faster on hills but I no longer dread them.  Even though it was a slow effort, about a quarter mile from the end I could see the finish line and once I saw it I got a huge speed burst and got myself a fast finish.

Bad thing to say #1: yeah I continue to really not like distance running so it's just as well that race day is almost here.  Next week is "just" 8 miles, the half is the week after that, and once that's in the bag I have no reason to run longer than 10k unless I want to.  Uh correction, I have no reason to do any of this at all except that I want to.

Bad thing to say #2: the course was short!  My Garmin was showing 9.92 at the finish line and fine that's close enough to 10 miles but dammit I came there to run 10 miles so I did!  I slowed down to get my medal and then I kept running until my watch beeped the end of the mile. 

Banana Recap: there was no finisher festival at all, so no banana to take home to my husband.

Question for the runners out there: has anyone else kept running after a finish line?


Okay, everyone knows that I like me some old movies but now we're going to talk about a movie that's really old.  For those of us who were watching movies in the 1980's how long has it been since you've thought about Desperately Seeking Susan?  Not since 1985 am I right?  For context, that's the year that I turned 10.

It all started with a very simple conversation with the hubs.  He told me that Madonna had posted a very bizarre video recently, we got to watching 80's music videos on Youtube, and Get into the Groove came up (that's the theme song from Desperately Seeking Susan to refresh your memory of Things That You Have Not Thought About Since 1985). 

I explained to him that I don't know or care about anything that Madonna has done since the 1980s but at the time she was everything.  I was watching her videos on MTV, riding my bike to the library to check out her LPs and recording them on cassettes (that's what we did for fun in the 80's and yes my bike basket was wide enough to hold LPs), and when Desperately Seeking Susan came out I was at the theater and then at Blockbuster renting the VHS many times after that.  He said that he had never seen it, so we couldn't let this difference in our life experiences remain.

There's no way that I understood anything about this movie in 1985 other than Madonna was fabulous, but that was enough at the time and it makes for a good 80's flashback now.


I stepped away from the book that I'd started a few weeks ago because Hideout by Louisa Luna came in at the library.  I'm about a chapter away from the end.  I will say that so far I'd rate it #3 out of the three books in the series, but I will also say that once I got about halfway through I couldn't stop reading it so I started gobbling it down.  If you're into gritty mysteries then I'd definitely recommend this series.


Usually I like to do a few jigsaw puzzles in the winter and once the weather gets better I kind of step away from them.  However this year "puzzle season" has been extended by my art obsession.  A few weeks ago I had a moment with American Gothic at the Art Institute of Chicago and I got to spend a lot of time with it in its puzzle form:

I didn't mention it at the time, but my #2 favorite from the museum was Nighthawks.  I had a similar experience that I had with American Gothic of seeing it in a whole new light.  We're told that it's supposed to be about isolation and loneliness, but when I was there in person that's not the vibe that I got.  These people look cool and like they're having a blast.  This is discussed in the video and the artist refutes the claim and says that it's up to the viewer to interpret it (a very nice way of saying haters gonna hate).

One detail that I didn't see in the painting that is very obvious in the puzzle is that the woman is holding something small and green in her hand==>but what is it????  I mean it must have some significance.  I went down the rabbit hole and I got: "it's impossible to tell what the woman is holding - it might be a sandwich, it might be cash, or it might be a pack of Lucky Strikes".   C'mon we can do better than that.  There's no way it's food, it doesn't look like a wad of cash, and it also seems too small to be a cigarette pack.  But it is about the right size to be a matchbook so my theory is that she's just lit the cigarette of the man next to her.  The man and the woman's hands are practically touching and the attendant is looking at them as well so that disputes the video's claim that none of the people are interacting.

Here's how far I've gotten with the puzzle.  The rest will take a bit since it's all dark blue and black pieces.


  • I had an interview with the supervisor for the company that I'm calling Thing 2 this week. It was...just OK.  He answered all of the questions that the recruiter left me with but didn't check any of the other boxes on my list.  I'll know if they want to move forward next week.  To use the dating analogy, I'd wouldn't say no to a second date (aka move forward in the interview process) but I don't feel like we'll make it to the third date.  The only way that I would be interested in this job is if I didn't have a job to start with.
  • I had a unicorn sighting this week!  I saw a job posting that looked perfect and the company's Glassdoor reviews were stellar.  I clicked the apply button and five minutes later my phone rang.  I never answer my phone if I don't recognize the number, but it was Unicorn Co.  I talked to the recruiter later in the afternoon.  The conversation was oh so good...I felt like I was catching up with my best friend as we talked about work experience, working for less-than-ideal companies, and all of the stuff that makes Unicorn so great.  And then we headed over to compensation.
    • Good: she named the number instead of making me go first!!!  This is only the second time in my entire interview history that's happened.
    • Bad: you guessed it, it was the wrong number.  Whomp whomp.  I told her what I was making and said that I didn't have any room to move on salary.  She said that if their budget increased that they would call me.
    • Hey just because I didn't catch the Unicorn this time doesn't change the fact that they are out there.  It was so refreshing to have this brief sighting. 
  • There were a few other decent looking jobs that I applied for this week.
  • Here is an example of a job that I did not apply to. My first move after I see a promising job posting is to check out the company on Glassdoor since I've found it to be a space where people are comfortable being very candid.  I've seen some bad reviews out there but it's my first time seeing this:
  • Current gig: my number one complaint about my job is that it's boring so you wouldn't think that I would have any updates on the current sitch let alone one every week.  This week's update is that out of nowhere the company is being acquired by a private equity firm.  Seriously.  I have no idea whether this is good or bad but I can use it as another "reason" why I am looking to make a change after just six months.  It probably won't be bad until the equity company fattens us up and sells us, which will be a few years and I should be long gone by then. 

Even with nothing exciting on the horizon I'm feeling upbeat about the job search/unicorn hunt.  I feel like I've worked through my share of mediocre dates and The One is just a mouse click away.  How many mouse clicks I don't know but it's out there.


  1. Wait - why are you talking in past tense about the Unicorn? My guess is that their budget will magically increase to accommodate your salary. I'm hoping to read an update on them in next week's post.

    Well done on your 10 mile race, Birchie! That's awesome that you ran up all the hills this time. Fabulous!
    Ha, no, I've never continued running after the finish line. Even if they didn't have bananas, at least you got your full mileage.

    I saw a great description of Hopper's Nighthawks on TikTok (@tatyanaaboutart). Tatyana said it was a sandwich, too. But I agree with you, it doesn't even remotely look like a sandwich. A matchbook makes much more sense.

    1. Catrina, you are absolutely correct that the Unicorn may come back. We will see.

      I found the video! Now that I know there's great stuff like that on TikTok maybe I need to join.

  2. OMG I haven't thought about Desperately Seeking Susan for years! I loved Madonna back in the day; sadly, I cut my hair in 1986 to emulate hers in Papa Don't Preach, and it was a mistake. A GRAVE MISTAKE.

    That race sounds absolutely miserable! I am not a snow-runner, as you know, and it sounds like a slog. And that would make me insane, not being 10 miles. BE BETTER, RACE PEOPLE. But! Good for you for doing it! That is just an incredible accomplishment, so yay to you! I'm not sure I knew you were training for a half, that is fantastic!

    1. Exactly! I don't think that I thought about anything else for the entire year of 1985 and then it just fell to the back of my memory.

      Eek, yes I am running a half in less than 2 weeks. The race only cost $26.20 so I couldn't not sign up for it.

  3. Ah, the 80s. Yes, I did the same thing- checked LPs out of the library and then recorded them onto cassettes. The good old days!
    Congratulations on your race! I've definitely ran miles before a race but not sure if I've ever kept running after the finish line...possibly when I lived in NYC. There were so many races all the time there, and I would incorporate them into whatever training I was doing at the time.
    Yes, I love Nighthawks. So cool that you're doing puzzles of your favorite paintings!

    1. And of course we spent hours recording songs from the radio as well. The hours that we had in our days before the internet...

  4. I think about Madonna far more than the average person because a number of songs from The Immaculate Collection have made it into my husband's "most frequently listened to" playlist that Apple magically curates for him, so we listen to a lot of Madonna. We talk about the Madonna/Cyndi Lauper differences and try to imagine a world in which Madonna sang "True Colors" and Lauper sang "Like a Virgin" and, as you can imagine, it's all very strange and now you know how we spend our time on roadtrips.

    1. OK, the next time the hubs and I find ourselves in front of youtube we will revisit Cyndi. I don't think I've seen any of her videos since the 80's and that is not OK! I think I would need an entire roadtrip to ponder them switching songs.

  5. Oh, I was a huge Madonna fan! Just recently (like, last week?) I either heard Get Into the Groove on the radio (or somewhere), and I could not get the tune out of my head or the image of Madonna dancing in the video. The unicorn ordeal was a good confidence boost, though, right? It is good to know they're out there ;-)

    1. It's been running in my head non stop since we saw it on Saturday and I'm still not tired of it. I'll definitely take a unicorn sighting any day!

  6. Oh, I hope that the Unicorn comes back! It sounds fabulous but for their budget. Sigh.

    Also, I am exactly the same age as you (!) BUT didn't have cable until... 1990? 1991? So, yeah. My knowledge of the original MTV/VH1 greatest hits (e.g., classic Madonna) is pretty limited. That said, Blockbuster! Oh, my goodness, how much TIME did we waste walking the perimeter (where the "new releases" were) every Friday (and many Saturdays!) for what seemed like every year of HS!?!? I find it ironic that I have not seen a movie since... um... HP #7 Part II, and I think that was... 2017? So five years ago? (I hope you did not keel over reading that...). It's been nearly 20 years since I set foot in a movie theater. I am a cultural recluse, apparently. ;)

    Fingers crossed that a unicorn horn emerges from the mist of the job search.

    1. Excellent! Cable went out of my life in the early 90s, so you picked up where I left off. Hey it was before the internet so there was nothing else to do except walk the aisles. I love going to the theater but we hardly ever get to do it since we're in to older/more obscure stuff.