Saturday, June 20, 2009

New & Improved Emily 2.0

After much waiting and checking bank statements for a cashed check, our marriage certificate(s) finally came in the mail. Andy had called the office and a recording said that it would take 20 working days to get them, not including mailing time. Since Memorial day was in there, I think it did take exactly 20 working days. But, they were delivered the day after they were mailed. Oy.

Friday I finally decided enough was enough and I'd take the afternoon off to get this settled. It's really, really awful feeling in between names. You don't realize how much your name is a part of you, until it's not your name.

I planned the trip out as best I could with rather short notice. You can, apparently, make an appointment at the social security office just like you can at the DMV. I didn't know that, much less did I do it early enough to reserve a time that would work.

When you get married and decide to change your name, the first stop is social security. (The rest is a little fuzzy because it's however you get around to it). Social security is pretty much what you would expect: not in a nice neighborhood, and full of old people paired up with almost equally old caretakers. Of course, everyone there knew you go to this ATM sort of thing, press a button for your issue, and get a number. Once I figured this out I pulled out my book and waited about 45 minutes.

There is a pretty simple form involved, and you need to show your "legal documents" (read: marriage certificate) and two forms of ID. The social security office does not accept a social security card as ID. I, of course, brought everything. The clerk looked at my license, passport, and certificate, and handed them straight back to me, then kept my SS-5 form and typed around a little. No questions, nothing. They didn't even keep a copy of the certificate! I signed a confirmation (signed with my new name, which is always confusing). The whole thing took less than five minutes so I can't imagine what kind of issues people have that made me have to wait 45.

At this point, you are no longer who you were before. Everything after this point is "correcting" the name on your stuff. The fact that it's so simple to do but has so much impact is kind of mindblowing.

I was on a tight time schedule as it was after 4 and the DMV closed at 5. (I heard later that some DMVs are closing earlier, or certain days of the week, or the whole summer because of budgets, so I consider myself really, really lucky.)

And the line was out the door.

So I go in, wait in line with an entirely different slice of humanity (a teddy bear tattoo with the name "Bobo" and a woman in nothing but shorts and a sports bra). It was probably similar wait before I got to the counter to explain myself. Of course I'm all ready with my folder of info like those perky cheerful hyper-organized brides and their binders.

Me: "Hello, I'd like to change my name on my license and also my car title." (thank you, Andy, for bringing that to my attention! do them both at the same time.)
Clerk: "How are you changing it?"
Me: "Oh, I'm just changing my last name."
Clerk: "No, how are you changing it?"
Me: "Um, to my husband's last name?"

Ladies: the correct answer to this question is by marriage. They don't care if you're changing your name to Princess Bananahammock, they want to know by what method. Sheepishly showing them your marriage certificate will also answer this question. (And as a disturbing aside, Firefox does not recognize "bananahammock" as a misspelled word.)

The form to change your name on your car title is available online but you have to fill out the form to change your license at the DMV and sign it in front of a clerk. You can also change your voter registration with this form (cool!). It's free to change your car title, but $22 to get a new license. On the other hand, if you needed a reason to get married but didn't have a good one, you get a new driver's license picture. They even let me smile this time. I'm glad I wore a nice shirt.

When I got in the car, it was exactly 5:00. I had a nice dinner in downtown El Segundo with my husband to celebrate.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cumin Chicken with Black Beans

I saw this recipe on Real Simple via ... something. It was billed as less-carby, quick, and easy. My favorite!

I didn't pound the chicken, but I did try to keep the cumin-cayenne proportions right. It didn't seem like much. But, I'm only newly graduated from cooking with garlic salt as my main flavor source. Plus, I didn't have very much in the way of "pan drippings." I don't like to cook with a lot of oil.

Looks good, right? The cheese on top was all me. Mmmm ... cheese.

I expected a lot more flavor out of it. Cumin has a really strong smell, but in my opinion, not a strong flavor. So it tasted like chicken, corn, and black beans (and snow peas making a guest appearance). But, maybe it was like thinking you were drinking milk when really, it's water in your cup. I was expecting a spicy Mexican flavor; this didn't have much at all.

If I were to make this again (and I might, as I like black beans, corn and chicken), I'd do a 50/50 mix of spices, and more of them. Also, some chicken broth would be a nice light way to flavor the bean mix.

Since the recipe didn't work out quite as anticipated, I'd label this a fail with potential redemption.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Disneyland Duathlon

Here's the breakdown:

That's right. I didn't do that spectacular. And I'm obviously a better runner than biker.

I was kind of anxious about the race because I don't have a lot of confidence in my running, and hadn't run all week. Plus this was an all-new experience for me.

Packet pickup was all the way out at the LA Fairplex. Let's just say the "expo" was kind of sad. It was in a very small hall, and after picking up your number you had to walk through the whole expo to pick up your shirt and get your chip activated. The whole expo being about 10 booths, one being Helzberg Diamonds. Really? I know it's a race for women, but come on. Stereotype win.

To get to the start line on time, we were up at 3:30 am. Such is not the best way to start one's day. Regardless, we were up and out the door and at the transition area around 5 am.

I felt like a total doofus. I didn't know where to put my bike number and I needed help to get my bike on the rack (racing roadbikes don't necessarily have a kickstand, so you hitch the seat on the rack for quick access). I'll confess to having very little confidence at this point; everyone seemed like a pro. Not stuck up, just experienced.

After a short wait and some stretching we lined up in the waves on Main Street. There were fewer than 600 people there, so each wave was relatively small. They made a production out of each wave's start, which was nice as I was in the fourth wave (no rhyme or reason how waves were determined).

The first part of the race was a 1.5 mile run through Disneyland. At the start, they played cheesy, "you can do it girlfriend!" music, but luckily not through the whole park. Once in Adventureland, there was nothing but the sound of runners and birds. It was all very peaceful. And I was running like a junkie getting a fix. There was a water station toward the end of the run here; turns out it was the only one though you passed it about five times.

The transition area was the overflow parking lot across the street from the parks. With so few people, it was relatively easy to get through, although the mat to cross to exit could have been wider.

Within the first mile of ten, when I down-shifted for the first small hill, my chain popped off. Not all the way, just off the gears, so I wasn't immediately sure what was wrong. So I stuck all my fingers in the ooey-gooey grease and got it back on just as a nice volunteer asked me if I needed help. At this point I was kind of wishing for one of those nice, lightweight road bikes rather than my heavy, 5-year-old rusty Wal-Mart mountain bike. Oh well. Halfway through I realized there was not a single mile marker or timer. This is good and bad; I prefer it but it makes it tough to budget your energy.

Now, if I had been smart I would have gone to one of the course presentations at packet pickup and not had the awful shock that there were two laps around Anaheim, not one. This is a very unpleasant discovery to make. Especially as most people train more for biking (10 miles versus 3.5 miles running).

At the start of my second lap, I saw a woman coming out of the transition running all on her own. She must have been the first to finish (fastest was 52:14) and it was hard for me to keep up even on a bicycle. Absolutely amazing. I'll confess I really thought I could pull off under an hour; really, the top 10% or so actually did.

I was pretty happy to ditch my bike for the last two mile run through California Adventure. It hurts to switch back to running, but it's a special kind of pain. Even though my thighs felt like cement, it was like being reminded that something incredible is going on with every step. Yup, there is a screw loose somewhere.

The second run was over so quickly. It felt easy to sprint the last bit to the finish line. (I discovered later via Google Earth that it was, in fact, closer to 1.5 miles than two. Kind of disappointed about that). At the finish, there were two mats pretty far apart: one you cross that sends your name to the announcer's laptop, so he could announce your finish. That was a fabulous touch because not only did you finish, your arrival was announced like you had just won. The second mat recorded your finish (and yes, this was kind of confusing).

Then, there's the hectic finish-line processing. Tired and high as a kite, someone flags you over to the gamut of people to clip your timing chip off; someone else shoves a bottle of water at you; someone hands you a medal ('cause you're nasty) and a photographer takes your picture. There's a table set up with bananas, oranges and bagels (carbs & potassium), but they also had cookies. Score! It sounds kind of cold and impersonal, but it really does feel great.

If, by some significant effort, I become a competent swimmer, I will most certainly sign up for the triathlon next year.