It's almost the end of February, and this morning, I checked the final item off my list of goals for the month: pass my personal trainer certification.

On Saturday, I ticked off another one too: run 12 miles. Saturday's run was my longest to-date, and it'll be the longest run before my first half marathon race, which is in just a few weeks. (Eek!) It wasn't too tough, but it wasn't that easy either. I still feel like my body's a little pissed off about running the distance, which arguably doesn't bode that well for racing it — plus another 1.1 miles — on March 19. My first pair of "super shoes" arrived in the mail today, and I'm hoping that these can perform some sort of technological magic and help me attain my goal of a sub-2-hour half.

My new writing project has much to do with this sort of food-and-fitness gadgetry, and the PT certification and the half marathon training are all part of that. The former was my first experience using online test proctoring software, and wow, what fuckery. I mean, I knew it was terrible from all the reporting I've done on the topic. But to sit through it myself — be admonished for having my hand over my mouth as I thought hard, having to film my room and the kitchen table over and over to prove there was nothing there to cheat off of, having to explain the writing on my forearms were tattoos, not notes to remind me which direction the blood flows through the heart or what the under-active muscles are when someone leans too far forward during a squat — was awful. I mean, I already feel like a fraud trying to move into this new field; it doesn't help that these certification procedures heighten that by pointing out the potential criminality of your body, your gestures, your physical space.

I've started to talk to more and more people about my new project, and I'm getting good feedback, which is encouraging, as I've felt fairly stuck professionally for the past year or so. This past week was really reaffirming as I saw several friends with whom I shared professional interests in ed-tech, and I guess it sounds strange but it was a relief to find that they were indeed still friends, not just professional acquaintances who disappeared as I changed fields. (Much love to Sherri, Chris, Jim, and Brian.)

Food. Food. Food. We ate out at Mela Bistro, one of Oakland's best Ethiopian restaurants. Kin and I also tried the new United Dumplings that just opened in Rockridge — it was okay, not great. I'm getting better at making dumplings, and I didn't feel like these were much better than mine. (And when I say "mine" I mean the recipe I follow from To Asia, With Love.) The only memorable thing, truth be told, were the "Mission potstickers" that had chicken, corn, and cheese. So the next time I make dumplings, I am going to steal that idea for sure.

We ate the obligatory donuts on Friday. We got Boichik Bagels yesterday. But the best food — perhaps the best sandwich I've ever eaten — was from Banh Mi Ba Le, which we've been meaning to go to for years and finally visited on our way home from Saturday's long run. Kin got two sandwiches — a pork banh mi and a mixed cold cuts one; I got the meatball and egg and holy shit I haven't stopped thinking about it since. It wasn't really meat ball; the egg was still runny; the bread was just perfect. The restaurant is just a little hole-in-the-wall — cash only, no receipts, busy as well but incredibly efficient at moving through the orders. We also got Vietnamese iced coffee, and that caffeine hit so hard and I was so amped — AMPED! — from my run until I crashed just as hard, pretty much for the rest of the weekend.

I have a long list of "recommended reads" I should share — I've been bookmarking them for the past few weeks and haven't got back in the routine of sharing them here. I think I'll use that to kickstart the new project — hint: it's like HEWN, but not. One recommendation that I will spell out now: Marc Moran's HBO show, From Bleak to Dark. It made me laugh some very, very cathartic laughter. And I just can't recommend that sort of thing enough.

Audrey Watters


Audrey Watters


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