There will be peanut butter cookies

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 17, 2014 by cmerritt42

I have been burgled.

Not just any kind of burgled, the enter your house while you are sleeping burgled.

Yep, I am freaking out.

It is weird what goes through your mind when you realise that something like this has happened.  In my case it was, “Where is the rental car?” Followed by what could best be described as my brain firing off random realities in which I was imagining the lack of rental car.  

“Perhaps I drank too much last night.”

“No, I drank orange juice.”

“Perhaps someone moved the car.”

“I am the only person with a driving licence in this house.”

“Maybe I should wake the entire house and have them verify what I am witnessing is not a dream.”

Wake up entire house, realise my reality is valid.

Then realise that to steal car they had to come into the house and take the keys, which were in my handbag.

Commence round two freak out.

In the end they took wallets, keys, mobile phone and two laptops before speeding away in the lovely rental car we had for the weekend. 

Of course with the freaking out comes the completely insane thoughts and actions:

1. Panic over having a £20k estate vehicle stolen quelled when I realise my bike is safe.  (I have obviously lived in Oxford too long.)

2. Acceptance over the fact that my laptop probably needed to be upgraded anyway and decided to go out in a blaze of glory.

3. Sudden decision to scrub the carpet by hand.

4. Sudden need to bake 72 peanut butter cookies.

Yes, there are 72 peanut butter cookies in my kitchen right now.  Because I need to obviously feed lots of people sugar in my manic depressive state. Perhaps to fuel a baseboard washing party.

Here is the thing, and it is truth: I lost stuff today. Stuff. Not people, not pets, not sentimental things. Stuff. And a £20k car that I took full insurance on. But that is stuff on wheels.

Last note: The people who came in did not take any of the charity donations. Not one pound coin, so I like to think Uncle Steve and Mike were protecting me on that front. Tomorrow is apparently a double or nothing day between 5 and 6 pm so I intend to take that change and do my best to double it up. 

As Pete the Cat would say, “I guess it simply goes to show that stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry, goodness no. We just keep singing.”

… And baking a small ton of cookies.


A mystery.

Posted in Fundraising with tags , , on May 31, 2014 by cmerritt42


Something really strange is happening on my fundraising page.

I consider myself fairly good at fundraising.  I consider myself reasonable at building towards a goal.  But where my “sweet spot” is is in getting little £10 and £20 donations to add up alongside spare change.  I like the mantra of lots of people giving little bits to equal one major impact.  If this were a marketing exercise I would say it is all about the tribe, and I like big tribes.

Yet, for some strange reason, I’m getting anonymous £100 donations.

I have three of them.

On a good fundraising campaign I sometimes stumble across one random unknown donation.  But three?  And of a significant size? That’s never happened.

Do I want this to stop?  No.  Absolutely not.  If there are one or more people out there who feel like contributing to my cause in the memory of two incredible men I WILL NOT STOP YOU.

I cannot help but think that I’ve got a bit of supernatural intervention floating about this current success.  If that’s the case, Uncle Steve and Mike are already off to some amazing things in their afterlives.

And if you are one of those people who have decided to donate and remain a mystery, thank you.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you.



I ran the whole f***ing way.

Posted in Running with tags , , , on May 30, 2014 by cmerritt42

Oxford, May 11th 2014

In what can be described best as “the closest we’ve gotten yet to Hell freezing over” a long time “walk/runner” and well known “snail” ran a whole f***ing 10k.

“I ran the whole f***ing thing,” she is quoted as saying.

News agents on the site can verify she’s never run that f***ing long in an actual, timed race and that because she’s not fully trained up she’s really going to hurt tomorrow [1].

When asked why she ran the whole f***ing thing she was quoted as saying, “Because when you’ve got two of the best f***ing people in the world to run for, you f***ing run.”

chickenThe runner would like to point out that she was, however, beaten by a f***ing fully grown man in a chicken suit. (See photo insert.)

“I’ve got to keep some level of standards.  When I lived in Texas a large f***ing pumpkin would often pass me at 5ks and some traditions should be kept alive.”

Her time came in at slightly over 1 hour, 13 minutes beating her old time of 1 hour, 14 minutes.

“This may not seem important to most people, mainly most English runners because, f***, those people are committed, but it’s stupid fast for me.”

The chicken beat her by two minutes.

[1] The runner can report that she was, in fact, in a f*** load of pain the next day.

So, why am I fundraising this time?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 12, 2014 by cmerritt42

So, why am I fundraising this time?

For the man who loved too much.

Posted in Fundraising, Running with tags , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by cmerritt42


“I’m waiting!”

“Mike, it’s three hours before the race.”

“I don’t care, I’m so excited.  I’ve got your gels, are you drinking enough water?”

For two Houston Half Marathons, at approximately mile 5, Michael Masciopinto would wait for me.  He’s the one who brought the camera that took this picture of us, pre-days of quality mobile phone images.  And even though this waiting was horrifically convenient as he lived very close to the race course his insane enthusiasm was what carried me, not the fact it was convenient.

Mike taught me how to read code.  He could teach anything.  He had a million miles of patience when training, despite the fact that he had no patience for other things. (If you ever went shopping with Mike you would find that shopping wasn’t joy for him, it was some form of torchure.)

When I found out Mike had passed, at the very early age of 49, I was just taken aback.  This was the person who spilled with enthusiasm, who, when I announced I was moving abroad helped me sell my car and get all my paperwork sorted.  He was the type who could give the most hilarious of presents.  When he handed me a wrapped picture I had opened it thinking that it would be a picture of us at one of the many SAP events we frequented.  Instead I got his:


For those in the know, Mike’s favorite drink was Mr. Pibb.  He wanted to be sure I didn’t forget him (and also that Mr. Pibb is currently unavailable in the United Kingdom).

Mike was the guy whose cats were his family.  He was the kind who would participate in my silly office pranks (thank you for helping me wrap Randall’s office in Christmas paper while he was away!). He was the one who used toasters and beer to explain the concept of single source capture recording.  The one who made me believe asparagus should be cheered if cooked well.  He was the guy who would complain about choice but when lead into In-And-Out Burger would announce he didn’t eat beef.  He was the guy who would get so indepth to talking about something he would find himself on a ferris wheel and remember he was terrified of heights.

And I know that if I started to get all sad and mopey about him passing from this world would say he wasn’t somebody worth mourning.

Yes you are, Mike.

I didn’t quite expect that you’d go this soon.  But I know that you cared a lot for this world and the people in it.  You were one of the most selfless people I’ve ever come across. With you I always felt loved, special, and safe.  I never expected that in the span of a few weeks that two people who held such influence in my life would leave this world.

So, come October, two spirits are traveling with me to London. I’m now running in memory of Uncle Steve and Mike for JDRF.

I love you both, and this is now for you both.


I’m actually going to properly train (promise)

Posted in Running with tags , , , on April 24, 2014 by cmerritt42


Once you run a marathon (heck, TWO) there is something so ‘quaint’ about 13.1 miles.  Marathon training is designed to dismiss half marathons.  Belittle then, even.  It’s for the right reasons, but can sometimes kill your mindset.  A colleague of mine is taking part in his first ever half this year and I had to do my best not to laugh in a snotty marathoner manner.  I had to recall in the deepest darkest depths of my mind the first half I ever finished.  I had to grasp on to how emotional it was for me crossing the line.  I was crying so hard that my husband and friends thought I had injured myself.

Here’s the thing, I have run a half marathon… almost.  When I trained for London I managed to keep my core strength after well enough intact to run Oxford almost the whole way.  I remember when crossing the finish line thinking, “Man, if I trained for this distance.  Really trained, I could run the whole thing.”

So that’s my goal: Run the whole way.

Never in all the 12 half marathons I have ever run have I run the entire time. 

I know, you’re like, “What?  You’ve never, ever, never ever run a half the entire way?  You kidding me?”

No, I am not kidding you.

I’ve had to take walking breaks, most of which are powered by two things:

  1. Total lack of mental strength.
  2. Not keeping to core strength training.

I know what I need to do to get past it.

  1. Go out and ‘break’ myself mentally so that I stop stopping myself because I’m mentally chickening out.
  2. Sign up to interim races, like when I first started running, to make sure that I keep to an appropriate plan.

Phase one: Remember this is for my family. (There are other things but trust me all I have to do is think of them and the shoes go on.)

Phase two: Interim race plan completed today!

I’ll find more, but those are my ‘locals.’  I’ve also taken up pole fitness, which is WAY THE HECK HARDER THAN IT LOOKS. (I’ll post about it soon.)  What I can say in brief is this: The abs work I do in order to quietly sit on a pole makes me incapable of laughing for two or three days because it hurts so much.  And despite, I keep returning to the place.  I think the instructor holds some form of magical power.

So there is the plan.  I’ll keep you updated.  Because feeling obligated to my legion of 5 or so people who read my blog is yet another way to keep me training!

20 of the Weirdest Things About England That The English Don’t Realise Are Weird

Posted in English Living with tags , , on April 22, 2014 by cmerritt42

marmite_2321702bEditor’s Note: I’ve just been informed Scottish bank notes are not legal tender.  They are, however, legal currency. I suppose this is like how you write ‘s’ instead of ‘z’ in realize and put a ‘u’ in color.  Correction is made.

This is my ex-pat American response to Tickld’s article 20 of the Weirdest Things About America That The Americans Don’t Realize Are Weird.

  1. Why you willingly fry yourself to the brightest shade of red while on holiday.  It’s like a mark of pride.
  2. Calling your calendars diaries.  I still imagine people wandering around with little pink notebooks with locks on them.
  3. Naming all of your holidays ‘Bank.’
  4. You pickle eggs. YOU PICKLE EGGS.  (You also put eggs in sausages and fry them, which is awesome, but you still pickle eggs.)
  5. The whole Marmite war.  It’s resulted in screaming matches in some cases.  All over yeast!
  6. While television advertising is minor it is the same three commercials over and over.  For those Americans who regularly watch the Discovery Channel it’s like that… EVERYWHERE.
  7. Parking garages which are designed for the original version of the Mini.  All my minor accidents while driving almost ever in my life?  Trying to negotiate a car up the dang ramps in a parking garage. SCRRAAAAAATTTCCCHHH.
  8. On another driving note… teeny tiny itty bitty little tiny small smidgy… speed limit signs.
  9. That while you as an individual must commit yourself for life to the football team (and never ever leave it ever ever) your football players can flit about from team to team (and belong to both a Premier Team and a National Team at the same time) like one big footballing orgy.  And then you get so mad when you don’t progress in World Cup.  Don’t you think these guys are playing with very little focus?
  10. You’ll tax the bees-knees out of everything, but not cake.  Cake is sacred.
  11. Using the phrase “shattered” to mean tired and “you alright?” instead of asking how a person is.  It took me ages to stop thinking people where suffering a great depression or calling an ambulance.
  12. Also, “ta” instead of “thank you.”  “Ta” = “Goodbye” in my land.
  13. Speed cameras in cities, but by the gods you can drive 60 mph down a winding one lane country road with thick hedges on either side!
  14. The fact that Scotland money is the same as England money but for some reason shops here can totally decline to accept it because it doesn’t have the right picture on it but it’s totally legal currency.
  15. Why do you have shops open 24 hours but are closed on Sundays?
  16. Also, why is it that shops can’t keep stock in stock?  Bread must have a mafia running it, because it can go out for days before coming back in.
  17. The fact that people get Learners Permits for IDs but NEVER GET A DRIVING LICENSE.
  18. Soap operas are EVENING entertainment.
  19. That in some places you have to use a step ladder to get into a bath tub.  (Although as a lover of baths it’s completely worthwhile.)
  20. That no matter where you go you can get beer and a pint of frying oil.  You may not get bread, but you can get beer and frying oil.

Despite all this I still love you.  But you’re weird.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.