My body itches.

Not in the hyper-allergy reaction I had 3+ years ago, but rather in the I've-been-working-out-and-am-healing sort of way. Much the same way I know when I'm gaining weight in my legs (my legs physically hurt when I gain weight from inactivity and long freakin' hours of sitting still programming), I know I'm gaining muscle mass from the workouts. I can feel my body adjusting, healing, growing.

And it itches.

I've been going to the trainer for nearly two weeks now. Nothing actually shows. My clothes all fit the same, I don't have any new muscle to speak of. I'm pretty much the only person who can notice the difference.

I've had three trainers so far: Michele (one L), Christina, and Eric (no idea if those are spelled correctly, other than Michele's). Michele and Christina are the late afternoon people, Eric is the morning trainer, with another guy. I'm close to finding the sweet morning spot where it's not rushed or full, when I can sleep in a bit, but still get a good number of work hours in. So far, I like Eric best, as he seems to get ultimate (having played in college). I'm still worried a bit about the training not being ultimate-specific enough, but I know I need a good strength base, so I'm willing to go with the current training without (m)any complaints.

Despite being told that professional athletes come in for training at the facility, so far I've seen only really out of shape "older" people and high school or college softball players. I haven't seen much in between. I suspect I fall into the "older" category, but not quite. Most of the people that I've seen have serious bellies and guts. I may have a Bundy-pooch, but I don't have a gut.

I, admittedly, don't understand the motivation of many of these other clients. Thursday morning I went in for my session and was a bit disappointed with myself when I realized I was only five minutes early: the longest I would use the elliptic trainer would be 30 minutes because I'm called off the machine at 25 minutes into the session. Twenty minutes later, the other guy (two people work out with the same trainer at a time) came in, looked for his headphones, adjusted the television, then hopped on the elliptical trainer next to me. I don't go particularly fast on those things, the movement doesn't quite work well for me, and my toes go numb after about 10 minutes, but this guy was even worse than I.

Just as this guy got up to speed, it was time for crunches. I thought to myself, "Why is this guy paying this company $100 an hour for a trainer if shows up 20 minutes late?" But he's not the exception from what I can see, he's the norm. Over half the people I've watched will come in late, talk to the trainers, saunter upstairs and aerobically workout half-ass until it's weight time. Why spend all the money if it's just social hour with pulleys?

I had to tell Eric, too, that a normal response when I get frustrated is to tear-up, and that he should just ignore it. I'm not in pain, and I don't want to stop, I just want weights I can do. He promised not to put "Crybaby" in my chart.

Several times when working out with Michele, she asked me if I hated her, mostly because she was pushing me, making me work harder. I told her, "I know the end result. I'm not going to hate you for getting me there." She was surprised. I guess most people come in late, skip half the workout, then complain when they get sore. I want to be strong. I like that sore feeling. The itching may be "not so much," but the strength, yes.

I want to be playing ultimate another 10 years.

I guess the worst part for me is realizing that 10 years ago, I used to be like all those people whom I don't understand now. Track in high school was brutal. I didn't want to do any of the workouts, I was there because it was sports or a job. I wasn't there for me, I was there for someone else. I like that now it's for me. I want to be better, faster, stronger. I really wish I had learned the lesson much younger.

I am sooooo amazed


Today after work, Mike stopped by the office with Maeryn and Liza. We were going to talk about dealing with She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (though not naming her gives her more power, so fine, Sandie) over dinner. When Mike arrived, he realized there were no diapers in the baby-bag with which to change Maeryn, and decided to head to Target to pick some up.

Figuring it would be a short jaunt, and dinner would quickly follow, I agreed to go, and off the four of us went.

After about an hour with Liza and Maeryn in tow, wandering upstairs and downstairs, from tolietries to toys, girl's clothes to art work, outdoor equipment to shoes, we decided to finally go get food. Liza and I were both hungry, with Miss Cranky-Pants and her little friend, too, paying a short visit.

Into the elevator we all tromped, with Liza excited to push the down button. "Press the one, Liza," Mike instructed, then asked her, "How high can you count?"

Liza looked up at us.

"How high can you count?" he prompted again.

She didn't say anything.

I tried. "How high can you count? I can count to, uh, one billion!"

In her dryest, so-very-close-to-adult-sarcastic voice, Liza responded, "Oh, Kitt. I am sooooo amazed."

The elevator doors opened, and she turned to skip out of the elevator. Mike burst out laughing, "Ha! You've just been dissed by a three year old!"

Something I can do


During my senior year in college, I dated John Schmidt. An aunt of mine recently handed me a picture of John and me from some Thanksgiving at another aunt's house. Cracked me up. I'll need to scan it in and post it. I have my big 80's hairstyle.

Sometime during that said senior year, I began studying for the GRE. I knew my math skills were fine so I didn't study that section. And I didn't even realize there was an analytic section of the GRE, so didn't bother studying for that part either. No, I spent most of my studying time memorizing vocabulary words.

After a while, I asked John to help me with my studying. Basically, from the study book, I asked him to quiz me on the words. He started at the top and asked me for definitions of words on the list.

Twenty minutes into this quizzing, I became incredibly frustrated. I had already spent weeks studying these words, and I was getting maybe 10% of them right. What the hell had I been doing? I was going to completely fail this GRE in a few weeks, because I didn't know anything! Whaa!

After seeing my frustration, John explained to me he had been picking out the hard words and ignoring all the easy ones he figured I knew. So, rather than knowing 10% of the words, I actually knew more like 70% of the words. I'm pretty sure I punched him at that point and told him to give me something I could do.

Yesterday was very much like that at the trainers. I was working on upperbody exercises, and she kept putting the weights so heavy I could do maybe 2 or three reps. I'd make it through these initial reps, then be able to do nothing. I'd struggle and strain and exert, and not budge the weights one bit. After the third set of one of these, I dropped the bar, adjusted the weights down and just barely finished the set with the lighter weights.

I kept thinking to myself, "Geez, woman, give me something I can do."

If only barely.

Worst picture ever


So, for every 7 pictures taken of me, I'm happy with one. I don't think much of that ratio, it is what it is.

Valleywag is a Silicon Valley gossip website. That I made it into an article on that site, which is dominated by Google hotties and Yahooligans, even though I made it only peripherally, makes me giggle.

A thanks to Scott of Laughing Squid for deleting what I'm sure was the other even-worse photos of me in his ETech photos. Me with Derek Powazek, on the first day at ETech:

Man, I wish my sides didn't hurt so much from laughing at that picture.

What you want to be doing?


If this were the last week of your life, are you doing what you want to be doing?

This question has started to haunt me. Unsurprisingly, actually, given the relative unhappiness I had been living through. Relative because I can't say that my being unhappy with my life meant that my life wasn't good (because it certainly is). But, I can honestly say, if this were my last days, I am not doing what I'd want to be doing.

If I knew, I'd be unbelievably depressed about it. I'm sure I'd waste the first of the last days crying my eyes out. Yeah, completely wasteful. I'd then get busy with cleaning out my crap.

After Karen died, Mom asked me to help her and Helen clean out her office. I went with Mom to the school, with a trunk full of boxes. We started at one corner of the office and started pitching. We dumped papers and notes and stuff we deemed worthless. We gathered art supplies to donate to the school. We boxed up books. We carted away everything but the desk and the bookcases.

It was hard.

All of us were crying at some point that afternoon. If we weren't crying, we were trying to be strong for the other two. It was very difficult to look at a life's accumulation and think, "Well, she won't be needing this now."

Her house was harder.

I wouldn't want my family to have to go through my life and think, "Well, she won't be needing that." there's a lot of crap of mine in our house I don't need or want. I need to get rid of it.

I've been wondering what happens to my electronic goods when I go. Sure, I can buy a 100 year lease on this domain or that one, but what happens to the server when I croak? Who keeps that going? What a sad fact of life that when you go, you fade, and that's it. Maybe you're a footnote in the history books, but I'm sure 99.99999% are even that. How do you leave a legacy? I'm so paranoid about my privacy that what you find of me on search engines is what other people say about me or release. I'd fade much faster than most.

So, cleaning out my crap is what I'd do. And spend time with Kris. I can't possibly spend too much time with him, if I were down to one week. Or even if I were down to one decade.

And when that was done, I'd try to figure out how to find more time.

I give.


I give.

I'm changing my name from Kitt to Kit. Everyone who doesn't know me assumes I'm a guy, so let's just go with it. I am now my brother. By assuming his name, I can adopt Kit as a shortened version of his name, I can keep my name verbally the same, only changing my gender virtually.

I'll have to change my about page to read something like, "Hi, my name is Chris Hodsden. My friends call me Kit (think Kit Carson). This is my website."

Like anyone will notice the difference anyway.

Oh, hey, Mom, you have three boys now. Well, two with the same name. Like having four {Ch|K}ris's around won't be confusing or anything.

I guess this means I should really lose the pink now.

Illustration Friday


I don't know how I came across Illustration Friday, probably from Mom, but I've been watching it for a while now. The basic idea is that each Friday, a topic comes out, you draw a picture/illustration of the subject, post the image to your website, then add a link to the Illustration Friday website. Pretty simple. I've been receiving the subject emails each Friday, but have yet to actually start doing the illustrations, much less post them. Something about knowing I had talent when I was younger, and never doing anything with it makes me somewhat embarrassed about showing off any work now. I should probably post some of my pieces, if I ever find them. Another "if."

So, in the spirit of "You can't do unless you start," my first (5 minute) illustration. Eventually, I'll have more time to invest (ooooo, into color illustrations, too!).

In case it's not obvious, it's a chair.

Lemons? Sure!


Heather found out today that her last day at work will be in two weeks. Her boss realized that she's heading off to school in five months, and decided to pre-empt her leaving by hiring a new girl now and giving Heather the boot today. Given how well Heather runs the office, we're all a bit shocked.

In an effort to cheer her up, we gathered to listen to her story, make dinner, toast her new found freedom and make sure she's okay with the transistion. It was amazing to watch eight friends descend in one place to help a friend. Makes me all warm and squishy inside.

Before everyone came over, I dashed home to feed the dogs, go for a run, and generally clean up a little bit before everyone came over. Because Heather was heading over soon, I hurriedly leashed Annie and rushed out the door. As I was futzing with the iPod and earphones, I looked up to see a car slowly drive up. Usually when cars drive by slowly, the driver is looking for a house, slowing to ask for directions, or casing the neighborhood. When the driver opened the door to speak, I assumed she was going to ask for directions.

Instead, she asked, "Could we have some of your lemons?"


"Could we have some of your lemons?"

Now, the two lemon trees in front of my house are overflowing with lemons. I have enough lemons to make a lemon dish every meal, every day for several months, and barely make a dent. If I had lemonade for every meal for a month I might make a dent. Might.

My immediate answer? "Sure!"

I then turned around, walked into the house, through the door, grabbed a trash bag and the door key, and walked back out of the house, locking the door behind me. I offered the bag to the two girls climbing out of the back seat of the car. I eventually convinced them to take it, and explained the darker lemons were the sweeter ones. Annie and I took off for our run as the two of the girls were pulling lemons from the tree.

As I ran down the street, every fiber in my body screamed turn around, watch them, don't let them on your property without watching them! My paranoid self cried out to turn around, wait in the house until they left, talk to them, write down the license plate number I had from the car, but don't leave the house with them there. They could be casing out the joint. I could return and my computer could be gone. My phone! My dog! What if they harm my other dog? Or take her? Turn around.

I kept running.

The thoughts stayed with me, but I kept running. Believe people tell the truth. Yes, I could be robbed blind as I ran, but I didn't think so. I didn't want to believe so. The lemon story, great cover! Ha ha ha, the joke's on me.

I kept running.

The worst that could happen? Something bad to Bella. Barring that? Most everything in the house could be replaced. I'd hate to lose my computer, my phone, my camera, but all of them could be replaced. The items that are aren't replaceable are the ones that are nominally worthless to everyone but me. Keep running, I'll be home in twenty minutes anyway. Keep running.

Twenty minutes later, I'm home. The house is fine. Nothing but a good number of lemons is missing. I successfully fought the irrational, stupid paranoia. All is good.

Twenty minutes later, I was surrounded by those friends gathering for another.

The night's caress


Bella and I have taken to midnight walks lately. For her, it's a chance to, once again, pee on everything that has a smell. For me, it's a method of fear control, or rather, of facing fears so that they don't become monsters.

Invariably, on some late night when I'm programming away and Kris is either asleep on the couch or playing some game, Bella will perk up, wander over, and start pawing at me. If that fails to get my attention, and it rarely fails, sitting next to me, looking up and wagging her butt doesn't. Carefully. Carefully. Carefully! I put on my shoes, grab a poop bag and a jacket, and stand at the front door. Bella clues in and dashes out the door when I open it. We then walk around the block.

The block isn't terribly long. 810 yards -/+, so not even a half mile. We nearly always go clockwise around the block, as a counterbalance to the normal walk direction in the morning. Bella goes without a leash around the block, walking in front of me, then behind me when I pass her as she sniffs, then back in front of me.

The walk, though short, is interesting in its sameness, yet differences.

Each time, Bella runs fast to be in front of me for the first five houses, sometimes veering into the Gulls' driveway, always (always, always) stopping at the second bush on the corner to sniff. I always pass her at that point. She runs to catch up, then stops to pee under the lilac bush. As I round the next corner, she sniffs at the wall, then runs to catch up to me. She'll trot in front of me until the next corner, where she's often confused. Do we cross here? Or turn?

The third corner is often strange. It smells of decay. It almost smells of a musty cellar, of mold and mildew, but not quite. Considering my sense of smell isn't so good these days, that odor must be fairly powerful to normal noses.

The last corner always freaks me out. This is when Bella decides she's going to act all crazy. Around the second driveway, she'll pause, turn to look up at me, then *freak!* and sprint away, as fast as her little legs will carry her. If I catch up, she'll repeat this maneuver all the way home. It really freaked me out the first time when I thought she was running away from something. Only later did I realize that something was I.

The night is a good time to think. I've been friends with the night since high school, so the tingle of fear when Bella bolts always surprises me. I look over my shoulder more than I used to. I wear light colors, too, but that's for different reasons. The night is still a pal, but not the lover the Arizona night is.

I'm always amazed how these never quite come out the way I compose them in my head. I had something about how I tried to walk Annie around the block without a leash once. It was in the rain, figuring the rain would slow her down a little bit, make her less likely to run away. We managed two corners before she, being about 10 yards in front of me, paused, looked at me, looked across the street, looked at me, looked across the street, then bolted. Imagine a crazy lady screaming at her beagle as she sprinted to catch up with the dog. The lady on the sidewalk, jumping over toys, around cars and kids, while the dog runs through the yards, under bushes and over fences. Yeah, good times that one. I walk just Bella now.

I also had some mention of the crisp air, the hint of paranoia of the night, about having a midnight water fight in Arizona the summer between college freshman and sophomore years, about lying near the canal, looking up at the stars at night, listening for the celestial music.

But the story didn't unfold that way. Not this time anyway.

1/3 1/3 1/3


When I was in Los Angeles, I decided I wanted to buy a house. Actually, I had wanted to buy a house since high school, and not being able to buy a house was a constant, dull ache in my heart. At some point when I was living in L.A., however, I decided I was going to buy a house, the high housing prices be damned, and I was going to do it soon.

So I made a budget decision. That decision was to live on one third of my salary, pay taxes with one third of my salary (well before I had any good tax deductions), and save the last third of my salary. The decision required some sacrifices.

I moved out of my single apartment and into a room at Kelly Johnson's house. It made a longer commute, but reduced my monthly rent from $800 to $350. I was already maxed out on my 401k (I'm a huge fan of 401k programs, regardless of employer matching), so that was 15% down. I set up an auto-investment program, putting $1000 a month in investments with no effort. Any bonus or increase in pay was immediately funneled into investments. Taxes were automatic. The living expenses were more difficult.

Rent was included in living expenses, as was gas, insurance, car repairs, food, movies, and books. I would have said "clothes," too, but at the time, I didn't really buy clothes, so those expenses were negligible. Well, maybe cleats and sports bras, but that's about it.

Two years later, I had enough money for a downpayment on a house. Because of circumstances, I bought a condo (story there, one I'll tell at some point when I've run out of other stories), instead of a house, but I bought a place to live. Instead of just a downpayment, I also had 25% of the purchase price, with funds leftover for repairs.

It worked well. As I ponder the list of things I'd like to purchase or have done to the house, I'm inspired to do it again. It's not a new year's resolution, more of a guideline. It means, in contrast to the end of last year, I now pause before I pull out the credit card. Can I get this at the library? Could I borrow it from a friend? Do I really need this?

Since I'm trying to get rid of stuff, this'll help ensure I don't bring in as much as I send out.