Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Spring Break" Woo Hoo!

Well, sort of.  I get two weeks of paid vacation at my job and I decided to take the second week off so that it coincides with my boyfriend's spring break.  But either way -- Week off!  Woo Hoo!  I plan to clean the apartment, read, run, spend quality time with my boyfriend and his family, and hopefully do something special to celebrate my birthday next week.  Before I do any of that, I'm about to watch a Duck Dynasty marathon.  I don't know what it is about this show, but I love watching it.  I wish I knew these people in real life... so I could visit them once every couple of years.  I think part of it is the beard factor.  I love the beards.  Or maybe it's because they say things like, "... more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs."

I'll be spending most of the week in South Jersey (and I mean very south) at my boyfriend's parents' house. His father is an Episcopal priest, so Easter is a pretty big deal.  I've been told there will be lamb and marshmallow peeps involved.  Even though the water won't be warm enough to actually use the beach, I am looking forward to being near it.  I may not be a major shore enthusiast (I like being pale... and clothed), but I wouldn't be a Jersey girl if I didn't love a good boardwalk.  At the very least, there will be an arcade in which I can lose at air hockey.  Repeatedly.

I had a book-related dilemma in anticipation of this break.  I finished both books I was reading earlier this week and I couldn't decide whether to start one of the other serious books I have on my bookshelf (literal bookshelf and on goodreads) or if I should pick something lighter that I can read quickly.  My last few books were on the heavier, darker side, so I think I need to cleanse my mind-palate with something more akin to "summer reading."  On the other hand, with a completely free week, it kind of seems like the perfect time to start a very time-consuming book.  I reached a sort of compromise:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern just seemed kind of fun and I knew I would be able to get through it in a couple of days, but it's surprised me so far.  The writing tries a little too hard sometimes -- it's very florid and detailed -- but at least it has some style.  The story is also drawing me in and it's more complex than I thought it would be.  My last two books were a legal drama about the end of childhood and an academic history book, so I think it's time for a little magic.
A Good American by Alex George is about three generations of a German family living in Missouri.  I haven't cracked it open yet, so I can't comment on its quality, but it was on at least one of those "Best Books of Summer 2012" lists.
If I finish these two before I have to go back to work, I'll continue working on my official list.  The Corrections and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle are next at bat.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever had a paid vacation before this year.  My job is really fun a lot of the time (I work with kids, so it's a lot of games and art projects), but after a particularly stressful month and the sunless length of this winter, "spring break" arrived not a moment too soon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

It was a good day (at the gym)

This is what my trainer had me do today, the perfect send-off before a week of vacation:

By the way, 7 of these things require no equipment at all, while two more only involve equipment you can buy for $10 at a place like Target (hand weights and medicine ball).  In fact, I might invest in a medicine ball so I can do this while I'm away.  The whole thing plus an extra back exercise took me 30 minutes and I worked out pretty much my whole body.  So, "I can't afford to join a gym/don't have time to go to the gym" are no longer valid excuses.

If you're anything like me, then keeping up your energy while running is hard.  I want to stop every 30 seconds, but that's the kind of thing that will probably get me killed during the zombie apocalypse.  Nothing has been more motivating to me than some really good music to keep me going.  Here's what's on my cardio playlist right now:

1. I Love It (feat. Charli XCX) - Icona Pop
2. Harlem Shake - Baauer (yeah, I know, whatever)
3. Watch Out For This (Bumaye) feat. Busy Signal, The Flexican, & FS Green - Major Lazer
4. Levels - Avicii
5. Mama's Broken Heart - Miranda Lambert (I'm not usually a fan of [current] country music, but this is a damn good song)
6. Suit & Tie (feat. Jay-Z) - Justin Timberlake
7. Ball (feat. Lil Wayne) - T.I.
8. My Homies Still (feat. Big Sean) - Lil Wayne
9. Barbra Streisand - Duck Sauce
10. American Boy (feat. Kanye West) - Estelle
11. Birthday Cake - Rihanna
12. Feels Good - AVAN LAVA

Apparently my legs don't move unless I'm listening to really dirty rap or really dancey pop.  I also need to change the playlist about every week or so because it stops being effective once I get too used to the songs. I'm always taking suggestions!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Workouts, Days 7 through 13

The weather this past weekend was actually sort of nice, so I started doing my cardio routines outside.  I discovered that I am TERRIBLE at running outside!  I'm pretty sure that I can walk faster than I "run."  Forget treadmills from now on (unless the weather is really bad) because increasing my outdoor speed will be my #1 priority for April.  Luckily, I live across the street from a high school, so I have easy access to both a standard track and an unpaved running path.  In May, I'll start practicing on a variety of terrains so that by June I will be ready for the 5K course.  I'll still work with my trainer and do my strength exercises several times a week so that I can conquer the obstacles on the course as well.

Workouts for the week of March 25th:

Monday - re-do workout from last training session
Tuesday - 5K outside or inside if there is rain/snow
Wednesday - training session at the gym
Thursday - 5K outside
Friday - 5K outside, stop after every mile and do 20 squats, 20 ab reaches, 15 push-ups, and 10 burpees (trying to simulate the obstacles I will encounter throughout the course in June)
Saturday - run 3 miles outside... possibly on the beach? :-)  After, do 20 lunges with each leg, and two upper body exercises with free weights, repeat 3 times
Sunday - half hour run outside (it's Easter and I'll be with boyfriend's family, so I kind of just have to take 30 minutes wherever I can find it)

I realized that my lack of motivation last week was an emotional response to some criticism I got from my trainer and some negative comments I heard from other people at the gym (not about me... but it created a judgmental vibe that I otherwise hadn't felt at my gym).  When I told her that I was trying to exercise for 30 days in a row, she cut me off and said, "You already exercise more than enough.  What you need to do is focus on eating right.  If you were half as dedicated to your diet as you are to your exercise, you would lose a lot more weight and could actually exercise less."  It just completely took the wind right out of my sails.
Of course, she's right.  I could follow the 1,400 calorie diet they recommended for me and I could lose about 10 pounds a month even if I only went to the gym three times a week.  But I never once said to them that I want to weigh a certain amount by a specific deadline.  In fact, when they asked me if I had a goal in mind like fitting into a certain dress size in time for a big event, I said no.  I did tell them that I need to stop being overweight and that I needed to generally improve my health, but that my ultimate goal is to be able to do things like run faster, be stronger, etc.  So I kind of resent the pressure to lose weight fast by following such a restrictive diet.  I'm trying to make permanent lifestyle changes, not just look good in a bikini.  Believe me, I can count calories and drop a lot of weight in a short period of time (in fact, it's the only way I've ever lost weight in the past and I got pretty good at it), but the problem with this strategy is that you can't keep it up forever.  As soon as I stop counting every calorie, I put the weight back on.  This always causes a cycle of being calorie-obsessed to the point of having anxiety over every morsel of food ("Is this a medium banana or a large banana?  Should I measure it?  What if I'm accidentally eating an extra 45 calories?") which then devolves into rebellious periods of binge-eating.  This is why DIETS. never. work (for me... if you've only been on one diet in your life and the weight stayed off forever, then hooray for you I guess).  I do need to lose more weight, and I could definitely be more disciplined with my eating habits -- my trainer is 100% correct about that.  But I need to find a strategy that works for me in the long-term.

Here is the progress I have made in three months:  I've lost 11 pounds, lowered my blood pressure, increased my energy, improved my mood, and I've gotten a little bit stronger and faster.  I want to be a lot stronger and faster, so now that I am completely over my illness, I should push myself a little bit more.  When I meet with my trainer, I will give her 100% of my effort without any negative attitude.  She is a great trainer who really knows what she's doing and always balances out some "tough love" with positive encouragement.  Maybe I just need to talk to her about how I've been feeling so that she can help reconfigure my fitness plan to be less about numbers and more about overall health.  By focusing on the positive, I have renewed my motivation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Food, Glorious Food

I'm a fairly healthy eater most of the time.  I like to make things from scratch, I buy mostly organic, only eat whole grains (no white bread/pasta/rice), I avoid high fructose corn syrup or anything processed, and I shop locally/seasonally as much as possible (considering my geographic region).  I have a lot of trouble with portion control, however.  Working late every day has also kept me from cooking as much as I would like to during the week.  To combat both of these problems, I've started cooking on weekends things that I can easily portion out and eat throughout the work week.

Quiche is one of the easiest things to make and it's a good way to use a lot of vegetables.  I sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, onions, and tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese on top of them, and poured over a basic quiche mixture (5 eggs to 1 cup of milk) seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little dollop of mustard.  Aside from being simple, tasty, and easy to split into 6 equal portions, quiche also always reminds me of spring.

veggie filling, ready for an egg bath

I also love making big batches of soup and then keeping them in individual 2-cup containers in the freezer.  If I need a quick lunch, I just pop one in the microwave for a few minutes and it's so much better than canned soup.
Before: aromatics and chicken, waiting to become stock
After: single-serving chicken and rice soups for the freezer
I made a spicy-sweet butternut squash soup as well, but it turns out orange goop isn't very photogenic.
And under the category of "things I can't believe I can actually do:"
When life gives you strawberries, make freshly hand-whipped cream...

Other than cooking, I also tried to get through a little bit of my Netflix instant queue this weekend.  I highly recommend the documentary "Ballerina," available on Netflix.  If you have a passion for dance or for Russian history/culture/language, you will enjoy this film.  Every movement, from their toes to their fingertips, has the purpose of expressing something.  It is seriously impressive and beautiful, especially considering the young age of these dancers.  I can't even imagine the maturity that must go into that kind of discipline.  It is a bit ED triggering, simply because of how thin most of these young women are, but you have to understand that they spend 8 to 15 hours a day dancing -- perhaps some of them eat very little in order to fit into the initial physique requirements, but the majority of them must eat or they wouldn't be able to stay in this profession because they would be too weak.  The ballerinas may look very thin, but they are actually incredibly strong, and they make it all look effortless on stage.  That is always the thing that impresses me most.  However, maybe because it's Russian ballet, the dancers are able to show wonderful emotion on stage while revealing almost nothing about the emotional/psychological effort of being a professional dancer.  The film doesn't delve much into what is required to deal with the constant criticism, the lack of rest, the pressure, etc.  The recent CW show "Breaking Pointe" did a much better job of communicating that aspect of dance.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sushi Date

Sometimes, you just need to treat yourself...

Or in this case, have a boyfriend to treat you
I decided we needed a date last night, since I could barely get out of bed over the weekend and I'm working late a lot this week.  It almost didn't happen because I had to stay at work later than I expected to, but I'm glad we did it anyway.  One of the best ways to break up a rough work week or even just combat the blues in general is to give yourself a lot of little things to look forward to.  Whether it's a random date night or my favorite TV show every week, it helps me get through the rest of the day.

I just found out that one of my favorite breweries (Ommegang) from one of my favorite places (Cooperstown, NY) is coming out with a series of "Game of Thrones" beers.  The first to be released is a blonde ale called "Iron Throne," which I will definitely be enjoying during the series premier at the end of the month.  It should be in stores sometime this week... I might have to go check tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Failure, and ways for dealing with it

OK, remember how I said I was going to post my failures and disappointments?  Well, I failed to do my workout today and I'm pretty disappointed in myself.  I could blame it on still being sick, but the truth is that I put it off during the day so that I could do other things and then by the time I got home from work, I lost motivation.  This was something that I knew about myself -- if I don't exercise before I go to work, I'm a lot less likely to do it.  I was able to force myself to go to the gym at night, or at least run through a routine at home, a couple of weeks ago (even after some incredibly long, stressful days), so I need to figure out what's causing my decreased motivation this week and find a way to work around it.  I have an appointment with my trainer tomorrow morning and I'm a little nervous about it.  Being sick meant that in addition to taking two days off and then only doing light cardio otherwise, my diet has also consisted of 90% orange juice or tea and 10% whatever we've had around the house.  In other words, not good.  At least I've been taking a lot of vitamins?  I'm afraid I won't be able to do any of the things that I could do two weeks ago.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

This seems like a pretty good time to bring up my first tip for people who may just be starting an exercise routine.  Decide whether you work best in the morning, around lunchtime, or in the evening, and then don't kid yourself.  If you're a morning person like me, you're probably not going to "just do it later."  On the other hand, evening people will be a lot less likely to stick to an exercise routine that requires them to wake up at 6am.  As I've said in an earlier post, I've been working out consistently four or five days a week since December.  I was doing absolutely nothing in November, while so far I've only skipped three days in March.  I might not be the healthiest, most physically fit person on the internet, but I have learned a lot about establishing (and keeping) a fitness routine.  Other tips for motivation include accountability, varietycomfort, and rewards, but I'll write about those in the coming weeks.

Just for fun, this is also the case:
I'm so close to finishing The Round House!  I really want to keep reading, but I'm going to be miserable tomorrow if I don't get some sleep.

*UPDATE* I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night and before I left for the gym this morning, I really didn't know if I was going to make it through my workout.  And then I did it anyway.  Sure, another three or four hours of sleep would have been ideal.  I also probably could have used another day or two in the gym since Friday.  But every time I finish a workout that I really didn't feel like doing, I always think to myself, "I can't believe I almost didn't do that."  

Here's what I did:
1 minute of squats picking up and putting down a 10 pound weight
1 minute of squats touching the ground with both hands
1 minute of body squats
20 seconds of rope slams with both arms
20 seconds of rope slams with alternating arms
20 seconds swinging ropes in and out with both arms
20 seconds alternating arms lifting the rope as high as I can
20 seconds jumping jacks with ropes in both hands
carrying 25 pound weights in each hand to the opposite side of the gym and back
repeat 3x


I'm a little strange.  In Elementary School, my friends and I were the "dorks" who were running around at recess hunting for ghosts or pretending to ride unicorns in outer space.  In Middle and High School, I was that girl who had purple or green streaks in her hair, had secret piercings, but also won poetry awards and was Vice President of the debate club.  In a lot of ways, the punk/nerd never left me.  This past Fall, I had some blue-to-teal ombre in my hair one last time before applying to teaching jobs.  It looked like this:

But my affinity for the dark and bizarre has also manifested itself in my hobbies.  I've recently started an oddities collection.  This is something I've wanted to do for at least ten years, but have only recently begun taking it seriously.  I used to bring back strange things from my travels (a fake shrunken head from Ecuador, an antique religious icon from Guatemala, a mummified llama fetus from Bolivia, etc.) but I gave those away as gifts.  Now that I have found some sources for such collectibles here in the US, I'm starting to create my own Addams Family style decor.  My dream is to one day have a library full of this stuff.

From left to right: (back row) preserved baby shark, cow femur, (front) antique bone saw, fox skull, antique strychnine bottle, mummified alligator head.  Many of these items have been picked up on ebay or at horror conventions, but the cow femur was purchased at a quirky antique store in Iowa City called "Artifacts" while the bone saw and poison bottle were purchased at the now-famous antique store Obscura (from the Science Channel show "Oddities").  Other things that I really wanted to buy from that store were a vibrating "fitness" belt (like the one Peggy tested on "Mad Men"), an antique speculum, and antique dental molds.  Some items in the store are a little overpriced compared to buying online (or abroad), but I like the feeling of finding these treasures in a store, rather than searching on the internet.


Medical oddities
In addition to these items, my boyfriend bought me a framed taxidermy bat online!
What should I name him?
I also found this really great jewelry maker who designs necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets out of real animal bones.  My boyfriend's brother bought me a bat skull pendant for Christmas and it's currently my favorite piece of jewelry.

Bat skull necklace by Murder Jewelry
It's a small business right here in New Jersey called Murder Jewelry (he also has an etsy page).  I need to meet up with the designer sometime at a convention to ask about custom pieces.  If I ever get a wedding ring, I would prefer a skull to a diamond.  Everyone has their quirks!  Maybe I watched too many Tim Burton movies as a kid, or visited too many castle dungeons on family trips to Europe or something.  I am a generally cheerful person, though, so I think really there is just something very therapeutic about embracing death and the macabre as a way to reconcile the two extremes (light and dark) in life.  It's the same reason so many people like ghost stories and horror movies, I think.

In other news, today is the first time in four days that I've been able to taste anything, so I think that means I'm getting better!

Monday, March 18, 2013

30 Days of Workouts

One of my friends recently posted his 30 days of going to the gym on instagram and it inspired me to try the same stunt.  I actually began this 30 day streak two weeks ago and even kept it up for a few days into my cold, but eventually had to admit defeat on Saturday as I still couldn't breathe out of my nose even with two medicines in me.  I am determined to complete my month of working out, so I'm starting afresh today.

My fitness goals for the week are to gradually build back up to my previous activity level:

  • Monday -- 34 minutes on elliptical machine with resistance intervals
  • Tuesday -- re-do training routine from Friday (three sets of 15 squats on flipped bosu, 15 squat-to-rows on each side, 15 burpees, 20 one-legged bicep curls with 12.5 lb. weights on each leg)
  • Wednesday -- training session, I'll post the workout she writes for me
  • Thursday -- 1 hour on elliptical machine with resistance intervals
  • Friday -- 30 minute running routine on treadmill (alternating one minute at 4.0 and one or two minutes at 5.5 or 6.0)
  • Saturday -- 5K on treadmill, try to at least match my original time of 38 minutes
  • Sunday -- 5K on treadmill, try to beat 38 minutes
In case you don't know what a bosu ball is, it looks like this:
(image from 

In this last routine that I did, I flip it so that the bouncy side is on the ground and I stand on the flat side to do my squats.  The added instability forces me to use more muscles (like my core in addition to my legs) to stay balanced.  Having a trainer at my gym has definitely inspired me to try exercises that I never would have done otherwise.  You can work out for less time if you work several muscle groups simultaneously and do the exercises quickly so that the routine is also cardiovascular.  The gym equipment was a little intimidating at first, but now I really enjoy it and feel confident using it.

The truth is, though, that you don't need a gym or any equipment to work out once you know some basic exercises.  Push ups, sit ups, burpees, mountain climbers, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc. are all parts of my regular routines and they only use the resistance of your own body weight.  Believe me that burpees are enough of a challenge on their own.  A lot of exercise demonstrations are on youtube if you don't know what some of these things look like.  Free weights are about $2-$5 each at a place like Target and they can double the amount of exercises you can do at home.

But I tend to have trouble staying motivated, so having appointments with a trainer and a specific place to do these workouts at a specific time of day keeps me feeling accountable for getting my exercise in each day.  In addition to general good health, weight loss, and proving that I can, I'm also doing this 30 days of workouts to prepare my body for a fun 5K that I'm doing in June.

(image from

I've registered for the "Run For Your Lives" in Medford, NJ.  It's kind of like a mix between flag football, a "Warrior Dash" or "Tough Mudder" run, and "Walking Dead."  Each runner gets a belt with several red flags on it.  They move through either a 10 kilometer or 5 kilometer course with climbing/crawling/swimming obstacles along the way, all while steering clear of the professionally made-up zombies trying to steal the flags.  If they make it through the course with some flags still attached to their belt, they get a medal that says they survived, but if they make it through the course without any flags left, the medal says "Dead" on it.  I've wanted to do one of these kinds of runs for years, but never had the courage to try it.  This is the perfect event for me because I can't think of any better motivation to run than to get away from one of these:
(image from

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy Sick Patrick's Day

I've been sick this week and luckily my little sniffle with a side of sore throat has turned into a full-blown sinus infection just in time for the weekend.  Honestly, I'd much rather be sick on a weekend when I don't have work or any other responsibilities that I have to worry about missing.  I am disappointed that I couldn't keep my 30 days of workouts going, but on the bright side, I get to spend my Saturday and Sunday catching up on books I've wanted to read and TV shows/movies I've wanted to watch.

I just finished reading Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad and it's my favorite book that I've read so far this year!  It's very artful and innovative in its structure and style.  It jumps around a lot in time and point of view.  The writing is very straightforward, but there are a lot of symbols and subtexts that she doesn't spell out for you.  I've had that problem with a lot of other books lately.  An author should trust his/her audience to get the message, not tell us what everything means.

Now I'm reading The Round House by Louise Erdrich, which won the National Book Award last year.  I'm not even 100 pages into it yet, but it's really engaging so far.  It has the feel of a pageturner/crime mystery, but with some really nice, poetic lines and the added complexities of state vs. tribal legal systems on a Native American reservation.  One of my grad school courses last year was on the history of American Indian Law and it's great to see those issues brought to light in popular culture.
Round House reminded me that I've been meaning to read Indian Blues: American Indians and the Politics of Music, 1879-1934 by John Troutman.  I also started skimming that and can't wait to read more. Troutman's main argument is that music performance (and its prohibition) has been a tool for mandating American Indians' U.S. citizenship as well as a method for Native Americans to contest that imposed identity and reassert their own.

I've also been watching a lot of shows on Netflix.  Right now I'm addicted to "Black Books," a British sit-com that has a very 90's feel to it even though it aired in the early 2000s.  It's about a curmudgeonly, alcoholic book shop owner (played by Irish comedian Dylan Moran) and his friends Fran (who owns the "Nifty Gifty" shop next door) and Manny (an ex-corporate accountant who decided to work at the book store after accidentally becoming enlightened).  I'm not usually such a big fan of British comedy, but this show is really cleverly written.
(image from

The other shows I'm watching a lot of are the newer series of Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Because... this:
(gif from

I really want to sign up for a free trial of Hulu plus because they have so many Criterion Collection films that I can't find anywhere else unless I want to buy them for $50 each.  I have to plan ahead what I'm going to watch though, because there are way more movies than I could fit into the free trial period.  If I ditched my cable provider, I could live with just Netflix and Hulu, but I don't want to pay for all three.  I'll let you know how it goes either way.  If I do the free trial of Hulu plus, it might be a nice set of blog posts to review each of the movies I watch.

What weekend in bed would be complete without food?  I had a huge craving for Thai food last week, but resisted.  Now that I'm feeling horrible, my will power is way down and I went ahead and satisfied my hankering for curry.  Other than classic chicken noodle soup, I have to say that Thai food is probably the best thing to eat when you have a cold.

I'm hoping to feel better this week because I have a lot of plans for things I want to achieve.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

You are here.

So here's a true story.  When I was about three or four years old -- too young to really know how to write -- I used the computer (or even an old typewriter my parents kept for us to play with) to write "stories."  In my head, I had a lot to say, but on paper it probably looked like a cat walked across the keyboard.  Occasionally, I would draw pictures on each page to go with the text.  Every once in a while I'll still find an old notebook in which I had scribbled my toddler gibberish.

So why don't I write now?

I have the usual excuses for why grown-ups abandon their childhood dreams.  I need to find a job that will actually pay me to do something.  I don't have time, what with all the housework and the fitness goals and the... TV watching... and stuff.  I've been discouraged by the real world alerting me to the fact that I am not the best and may never be (I think Voltaire said something like "Perfection is the enemy of the good").  People don't even read real books anymore!  Everything is electronic, downloaded illegally, or limited to however many characters Twitter allows you.  The public's collective attention span is shorter.

I spent two years feeling miserable with my life, which I'll write about in a later post.  Now that I'm back in New Jersey and out of graduate school, I've decided to commit to making my life healthy and positive.  I need to feel like my true self -- my best self -- and that includes getting back into the habit of writing regularly, being more active, eating more healthfully, and generally doing and surrounding myself with people/things that contribute positively to my life.

This falls under the category of a "lifestyle" blog.  I will post pictures, suggest tips and recipes, and share advice that I've learned from experience.  Mine might be a little different from other lifestyle blogs out there.  Sure, I'll post my vacation pictures and review great restaurants that I try.  But I will also write frankly about my failures, disappointment, things that don't come easily for me.  There are studies that show how people feel worse about their own lives after looking at other people's lives on Facebook.  It's because no one wants to post the bad parts, so it looks like everyone else's life is always better than yours.  This blog won't be like that.  I will give you a real view of what it's like to be in your late twenties and still trying to make things happen.  I know I'm not the only one going through this, so this blog might also serve as a community for people to share experiences.

When I wrote to one of my undergraduate professors to tell her that I was switching careers, she responded by saying, "Being in your twenties is so hard!"  At the time, I thought she was being sarcastic, but now I think there's also something genuine in that statement.  This blog will document how I'm making it work (or sometimes not).  If you continue to read and comment, we can figure out how to make it work together.