Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Once Again, Asking Why

The days after a tragedy are always interesting. And by interesting, I mean rage-inducing and baffling. Some of the stuff I have seen posted have been making me sick. I can't even begin to address it all, but I'm going to word vomit a bit so I don't, y'know, actual vomit. Because I want to.  
First up: the hypocrisy of rhetoric. Are we calling all mass shootings terrorist attacks, or just the ones committed by non-white dudes? Because we haven't been until now. Do we pick and choose which ones are terrorism now? Explain to me what the difference is. Are we purposely avoiding calling it a hate crime for some reason, despite the fact that these victims were singled out due to their sexual orientation? It wasn't religiously motivated. It was flat-out hatred. It doesn't seem to me that any one religion had anything to do with it. It sounded like one man's rage and mental health issues.  While we're on it, are we going to talk about mental health issues? Nah. Pass the blame somewhere else. We might talk a big game about mental health funding for a few days, but nothing will happen. Hell, our governor actively even cuts that funding and shuts down whatever facilities are left.  Because "it can't happen here", until it does.  Movie theaters, schools (elementary schools, even), dance clubs, shopping malls. Nowhere seems to be safe anymore. SERIOUSLY WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??? I also don't understand this nation's gun fetish. The Orlando shooter was on the FBI's watch list but he was still able to buy a gun, because guns are easier to buy than cold medicine. Any other tragedy happens and all sorts of laws go into place (I've seen several references to KinderEggs being illegal here but not guns - y'know, chocolate eggs with toys inside. Dangerous stuff.) But not a shooting. Shootings, we just shrug and pray and wait for the next one. How fucked up is that? WE WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE. Because there's always a next one. Because guns > people.  Explain it to me. Explain to me this gun worship. I do not understand it. I understand hunting and sport shooting. Hunting doesn't particularly sound like my cup of tea, but to each their own; sport shooting sounds like it could be fun. I understand these things. I do not understand the rabid obsession of All The Guns. Y'all remember the Commandment about no false idols, right? Because I feel like a lot of people need to review that one.  Enlighten me, also. Why can't we do more? Nobody's going to take your damn guns. But I don't understand why there is an issue with following similar protocols for guns as, say, there are for cars. You have to take classes, you have to pass a test, you have to get a license, you have to have insurance... you have to earn it. Cars are still deadly, yes, but we've been trying to make them safer. We do studies. We learn from those studies. The CDC ISN'T ALLOWED to do studies on gun violence because the NRA bullied Congress into banning it. THAT is also super fucked up. If we could study it, get to the root causes of it, then maybe we could figure out how to make things safer. Why is this such an untouchable topic? Why is this "the thing"? Possibly a bigger question, why doesn't this seem to be a problem in any other developed first-world country? Why here?  I don't want to see fingers pointed. If you're going to try to blame someone, just shut it down and walk away. It's on ALL OF US, as a society. We did this. We let it get this way. The question is, what are we going to do about it? Unfortunately, I fear the answer is that we're just going to sit on our asses and wait for it to somehow get worse and worse until we just totally self-destruct. Just this once, though, I would love to be proven wrong.

Monday, December 21, 2015


What's the best way to bring me out of blog semi-retirement? Give me free stuff to review!

(Seriously though, hi, how is everyone? LONG TIME NO SEE!)

Speaking of seeing, that's what we're going to be talking about. (Haha I'm so clever). As you may recall, back in April 2014, I joined the bespectacled masses. My vision is still pretty decent, despite the, y'know, nearsightedness, but I was absolutely amazed at how much of a difference the corrective lenses made. I still occasionally sit there and play a game where I lower my glasses and raise them back up and am like "meh" "high definition!" "meh" "high definition!" It's pretty entertaining.

I got two pairs of glasses at the eye doctor but was pretty underwhelmed by my choices... so then I started buying them online, which was awesome, because I had SO MANY CHOICES and also they were a fraction of the price. I was able to get some prescription sunglasses as well as a few pairs of regular glassses that fit my taste much better than the limited selection I had been given originally.

So imagine my delight when the good people at GlassesShop.com emailed me out of the blue and offered me a free pair in exchange for a review. Umm, yes please! I spent some time browsing their selection of prescription eyeglasses and found the pair that I obviously needed to have, because they were my signature shade of blue.

these, in case they strike your fancy also

With any online glasses purchase, there is a bit of wait time involved, because they obviously have to produce the lenses to your prescription, but I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly these arrived.

I generally prefer the plastic/acrylic/acetate frames because I don't love the stupid little nose pieces, and you'd be amazed at how often I get my hair caught in them. (Don't ask me how. It's a special talent.) These were nice and comfy, just like I'd hoped, and really lightweight.


creepy closeup to show detail

I'm not particularly kind to my glasses, though I probably should be... I have developed a bad habit of just tossing them aside when I take them off or putting them in my purse or bag when wearing sunglasses... I'm honestly surprised I haven't broken any of my pairs yet. This pair has held up remarkably well, I found them in a random bag this weekend ("that's where those went!") and they were completely unscathed. So I'm pretty impressed with the quality as well.

Ok, so now you're probably like, I WANT AWESOME CHEAP GLASSES. HOW DO I GET SOME?

First things first: make sure you have a copy of your prescription. The biggest thing I have noticed is to watch your PD (pupillary distance) because a lot of the frames have a range of PDs that they will work for - if you are outside that range, you'll need to keep looking.

Second things second, though I probably should have led with this: you can totes get your first pair for free. WHAT? You read that right. All new customers get their first pair free. That's pretty exciting right?

ANOTHER BONUS FOR YOU GUYS: 50% off sunglasses and already cheap glasses with code GSHOT50.


If you have questions about buying glasses online, just let me know. I consider myself to be rather skilled at it. Also if you take advantage of this deal and get your own glasses, I'd love to see your selfies! Not sure if you can add photos to the comments, but you can tag me on Instagram @therealkelalea.

Disclaimer: I was given a free pair of prescription eyeglasses in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, because that's how I roll.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pity Party, Table For One. Always a Table For One.

It's been just over a year now that the ex and I parted ways, officially. Things had been slowly deteriorating as it became apparent that, ultimately, we just weren't compatible. Nothing either of us did, just the way our personalities were. He moved to a new city to start a dream job; I helped him unload his stuff and wished him well.

I've spent that year alternately letting myself go and trying to put myself back together; the efforts of which have apparently cancelled each other out. I don't have my shit together any more than I did when he left; I've actually had to start up doing Weight Watchers again to deal with all the weight I gained from not caring and not running (it got cold, my chiropractor told me to take it easy for a while, the excuses are long and lame.) The little things I hated about myself magnified under the microscope of solitude, and instead of doing anything about them, I let it bury me in a blanket of self-disgust and apathy.

Otherwise, I do well by myself... mostly. I'm pretty gun shy about trying to find/start another relationship because I always feel so shitty when they end that it doesn't seem worth it to me. The last one, in all his well-meaning ways of trying to help me improve myself, managed to highlight all of my flaws and all of the ways in which I wasn't what I should be. In addition to my self-worth plummeting, I've been hesitant to put myself in another situation in which I was vulnerable to such intimate criticism again. When the person who knows you better than anyone can deconstruct all the ways in which you are lacking, well... you have no choice but to believe them.

But lately I have come to figure out possibly the thing I miss most about having a significant other around - someone to do stuff with. An automatic Plus-One and someone you can drag on your adventures. It's lonely not having a go-to, because it seems like these days when I have things I want to do, I end up doing them solo or not at all, because none of my friends are able (or willing) to do them with me. It's frustrating to ask five or six people to join you on one simple activity or endeavor, just to find out they all either have better things to do or simply don't want to. It's extra frustrating, then, when they always expect you to be free for the things they want to do. Or to give you a hard time when you are tied up for a couple months doing something that you have an extreme passion for because it interferes with them being able to call on you to do stuff (ie: everyone gets annoyed during softball season because my coaching duties take up so much of my time and I'm never free. It would be nice if people would be supportive rather than complain about this, but after ten years, I've gotten used to it. It is what it is. C'est la vie.) I'm pissy right now, today, in particular (possibly because the last couple weeks have kicked my ass, I haven't been sleeping well, and I've misplaced my pills and it's been nearly a week since I've taken them), and I just kind of want to sit down and cry, because I just feel really defeated right now. For every person that has turned me down recently, my new inclination is to simply answer every request with "can't, sorry" without giving any further explanation, because that's the blanket sentiment I seem to receive whenever I ask people to do things with me. (And also because I have the emotional maturity of a high schooler right now.) Why should I disrupt my schedule to go out of my way to do YOUR events when you can't ever find the time to do mine? That seems unfair. I do things all the time that I have no interest or desire (or energy) to do, because I know it means a lot to whoever it is to have someone accompany them.

But it's more than just being crabby about the perceived reciprocity slights; it's been weighing on me for a while and it all traces back to the fact that it just makes me feel so damn alone. Is that anyone's fault, really? No. But it hurts all the same.

It's incredibly, incredibly lonely to know that there is no one you can really call on when you need someone to join you for something you want to do. I skipped an event this morning because after yet another person said no, I just gave up. I didn't want to go by myself. I'm tired of doing things by myself. So I went back to bed instead. Fuck it. I'm tired of begging people to participate in my life. Everyone's always too busy or too uninterested. And I suppose that's their prerogative, why should they make my shit a priority? But it's building. With each no, it hurts just a little bit more.

Nobody really realizes what a cumulative effect this is having. It's one event here and there, but when enough people say no, over and over, it's just... defeating. I feel defeated. Why bother? You'd think I would be used to rejection by now. And maybe nobody realizes how big of a deal it is for me to constantly be told no, to be told that they have other/better things to do, that they have other commitments. Because I don't have anyone else! And that's where it stings the most. I have no choice but to lean on my friends for companionship because that's all I have. They all have a significant other that they can drag along, because that's part of the relationship contract. They have a built in partner in crime; I do not. I do a lot of things by myself, things that I would rather do with someone else, because it's either that or not do it at all. It's so goddamn lonely being alone and not having anyone to share my interests with. And as un-ideal as the last relationship turned into being, at least I knew that I could drag him along to things I wanted to do. At least I had a person I could call on. I guess it's my own fault, now, for being single. The world is hard on single people, the world hates single people. There is obviously something wrong with you if you are, and everything is always twice as hard. That's not new information for me, but it seems to sink in a little bit more the older I get. Society was built around the assumption that you will have a partner, and when you don't, well, too bad for you. Better get used to your isolation. Better get used to staring at your phone and not having a number to call.

The one bright side, though, is that sometimes? You do get better seats when you're only buying one ticket.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In the After

Nothing like an overwrought cliche to bring me back to this blog. What began as a point of - let's call it frustration? - expanded in my mind to a bigger existential woe than usual. And I'm overdue to write something anyway. It may as well be angst. I seem to have more words when I'm angsty.

So, let's cut to the chase. This is a post about Valentine's Day. Sort of. It's not a tirade against the institution itself (though me from a decade ago would have happily obliged to that request, and perhaps if you dig far enough into this very blog you'll find what you are looking for in that respect), but rather the helpless explanation of why this particular day bothered me so much this year. Perhaps it's inevitable, like repeated water drops onto stone that eventually wear it away into a canyon, only accelerated, because feelings are much more malleable than stone and it takes much less to cut them open.

When I was younger, I always professed a vehement hatred for Valentine's Day; my ridicule of the day was largely a shield from having salt rubbed in the wound from not being the object of anyone's affection. I was never anyone's valentine. So instead of being depressed about it, I rolled my eyes and declared the whole spectacle to be a waste of time anyway. Deflect, deflect, deflect. As I got older, I just kind of went with the flow and politely ignored the day. If other people wanted to celebrate it, fine. It wasn't my bag, but I would gladly eat the leftover chocolates. Even on the intermittent occasion that I was coupled up for the event, it was never a big deal - in fact, it was awkward for me, because I'd spent so much time blasting the pink-and-red heart circus that participating in it made me feel like a giant hypocrite. In my most recent relationship, it was only four days off from our anniversary, anyway, so most of the attention went to that instead, and that was fine by me.

This year, though, I am single again. Which drastically changes a holiday built upon celebrating love. You can dress it up with as many clever gimmicks as you like - Single's Awareness Day, Galentine's Day, etc - but the fact remains that if you dare to go online (because what else would you do, having no one around), you are going to get punched in the face with endless pictures of flowers and gestures and people waxing poetic about their significant other and how wonderful they are, and the whole thing just sort of reaches a critical mass somewhere around mid-afternoon and you can't help but be like, okay, I get it, keep rubbing it in, universe and the world's biggest lemon squeezes all its juice into the papercut of your soul. Or, something. If the schmaltzy facebook posts weren't enough, there's the fact that there's basically nobody to hang out with instead, because everyone has plans with their aforementioned status update, probably eating an overpriced dinner while staring fondly at their overpriced flowers, because for some reason Valentine's Day is the last legal frontier for price gouging. There was really nothing to do but sit and stare at a wall and contemplate ordering a pizza but since your pants already don't fit, you can't even take joy in that. ALL IS SHIT. Here, have a salad.

It left me feeling empty. Not jealous, not bitter, just... deflated.

The other variable at play is this: my current state of singleness is both semi-recent and yet feels like it has spanned a miniature eternity. Some days it feels like it's new, most days it just feels like an ordinary thing that has always been. We at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eastasia. It is what it is. Tomorrow would be the third anniversary of our first date, the one that lasted for seven hours and closed down both a coffee shop and a bar. When the relationship ended, we parted ways on good terms. And if he hadn't moved to a different state to pursue a dream job, perhaps there would have been a relapse or two. But the clarity of hindsight confirms that the relationship was doomed; we weren't compatible in the ways we needed to be compatible. Someone would have had to change significantly, and it probably would have been me. And I'm glad I didn't have to. For all my shortcomings and flaws, I like being who I am, and the fact that there were times that I wasn't comfortable in my own skin was probably a sign I should have paid attention to sooner. I was trying too hard to be something I wasn't. It's a trait that sometimes gets me into trouble; I've always been a people-pleaser. Square peg, round hole. No matter how you force it, it's not going to fit. And the peg got sharper and the hole got smoother and then it didn't fit at all and there was no use pretending otherwise. I couldn't even tell you what day it happened. It just... dissolved.

It's fine, though. I've always drawn a certain strength from being by myself, anyway. It wasn't too hard to readjust to being solo. I miss my activity/adventure companion and all of our inside jokes, but we slowly burnt out and I think that probably made it easier. That doesn't mean there's not a hole left behind (there's always a hole) but it's one that I can navigate around. One I can live with.

I wonder sometimes about my fate. It seems more and more obvious that I'm not on a traditional life trajectory. I feel like I'm destined to be the eccentric spinster woman who has become some sort of fixture in whatever smallish town she ends up in. Nobody has anything bad to say, but there is always a twinge of pity or hushed gossip about the fact that she never married. An old maid. A literal maiden aunt. I joke about being the crazy cat lady, but, well... right now it's just me and a temperamental cat. The joke's not really funny sometimes.

There are worse things, I suppose. I mean, like I said, I'm most comfortable in solitude, and I enjoy my own company, usually. I like not having to cater to the whims of others, or have my own whims be criticized. If I want to have an Exile The World day wherein I barely leave my bed, fine. I don't want to hear about it. My cat can sit outside my bedroom door and meow but she's not going to make me feel bad about it. If I want to be frivolous and irresponsible, well, fine. I can if I want, and the only person who has to deal with the consequences of that are me. I have the freedom to self-destruct and rebuild over and over again and I get to choose the blueprint. It's rather freeing, that independence. It just sucks when it's a Saturday night and the world is the one excluding you.

I'm not saying I've given up (entirely). I've had enough time to myself, though, to start building an image in my mind of this person, the person worth cashing in my solitude for. Bits and pieces form, sometimes an amalgam of traits of people I interact with, friends, acquaintances, strangers. I can picture the things we'll have in common, the things we can nerd out over together, the things that he likes about me, and the fact that he doesn't hold against me the things that he doesn't. I don't have a face to go with these details, just kind of a vague and shadowy presence, kind of like trying to remember details of a dream that you've woken up from. There's just this feeling in the back of my mind, like I know who I'm waiting for, even though the logical part of my brain just shakes her head and reminds me that I have an overactive imagination and that this person does not exist. It's absolutely insane, especially to put it into actual words, but it feels like I'm waiting. Waiting for a specific person who may or may not exist and whom I only have a vague notion of, so who's to say that I'll even know if I find him or not? Answer: old maid.

So this weekend was a little unpleasant, if only because it was one of the occasions where my alone-ness translated to actual loneliness, and it was highlighted and put on display because of some culturally-ingrained traditions, but it's fine, because the next holiday tends to involve a lot of liquor and merriment, and because words are my valentine and things are getting pretty serious. (LOL JK I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT NOVEL. ANY NOVEL.) Also, Valentine's Day did bring us red velvet Oreos, and for that, I think I will forgive it. I can never be mad at cream cheese filling.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Right Now

"What'd you do last night?"

"Oh, I mutilated an innocent garden vegetable, ground up its insides then threw it into a hot oven to make a dessert for a yearly ritual feast."

Baking is so metal, guys.

While I'm waiting for my pie to finish baking, I thought it would be a good time to sit down and check in. I've been trying to get the momentum to start writing again, but truthfully, I've been so preoccupied that it hasn't even occurred to me. Writing, yes. That was a thing I used to do.

In light of the most recent current events, though, anything I have to say pales in comparison of the magnitude of what some people are experiencing right now. I don't have the words, nor do I have the appropriate lived experiences, to be able to express anything meaningful about what's going on right now. I could link to one of a never-ending parade of articles I've read that manage to nail down some perspective, but if I've seen them, I'm sure you have too. Follow the right people on Twitter, and you'll see them. It's easy to sit here, safe and sound in my cozy little apartment hundreds of miles away from the eye of the storm, and focus on literally anything else. I have that privilege. I have that luxury. I don't have to be afraid of the people sworn to protect me. I don't have to worry about being treated like a second-class citizen because of a random genetic lottery that gave me pale skin. And it sucks, it sucks so hard that there are people that do. People that live an entirely different life than anything I can fathom. And it doesn't occur to me, on a daily basis, that I am so incredibly lucky, because that's how privilege works. It's invisible to us because it's our normal. It's not right, but it's real, and it's been that way for... well, forever, really. It's uncomfortable to realize, and it should be. It should make us cringe. It's not a societal construct that we built for ourselves, but it's one we inherited. So what do we do about it? Well, right now, I'm going to do the best thing I can do: I'm going to shut the hell up, and I'm going to let the POC voices be heard instead. They are the ones that need to drive this narrative, not me, not most of us. It's not about me, and my opinion and empathy means precisely shit. I'm going to sit back and I'm going to listen, instead. And I'm going to hold onto that ever-idealistic, ever-optimistic part of my heart that believes that things can get better in our lifetime.

Anyway. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I'm making a pie, and I will eat too much food and try to stay out of the retail melee. I will sleep in if I can, I will enjoy my day off of work, and I will go through my life like I always have. I will acknowledge that I've got things pretty damn good. And I will be thankful that there are people out there who will fight for change, who also believe that things can get better. Not everyone is horrible, though it's easy to be discouraged when you constantly hear the loud shouting of the people who are. I will be thankful for the people who still give me hope for humanity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Divided We Fall


For being the "United" States, we are about as divided as I think we've ever been. Those who lead this country have done a bang-up job of pitting us all against each other. With all the vitriol that is spewed across the aisle, you'd think this country was full of rabid extremists. Yet it's interesting that most of the people I know, regardless of their party affiliation (if they have one) are pretty reasonable people and most of them can find a moderate middle ground. Yet you'd never know that, watching the news or even scrolling through your social media feeds.

Our government used to be representative of the people. They used to serve their constituents. They occasionally even listened. It was really interesting to watch the movie "Lincoln" last year when it came out. Politicians using their power and playing the same game they do now, but angling to make a change that actually helped people (ending slavery). Our government also used to get stuff done. We built this country, then we built railroads and highways to travel across it. We did a lot of great things that has led to our collective ego that thinks that we are untouchable, invincible. We're not. We're losing a lot of things that made us great. "For the People, By the People" has gone out the window, and that breaks my idealistic little heart.

Instead of celebrating the melting-pot diversity that this country was founded on, people are using those differences (any differences they can find!) to drive in wedges to make hard and fast US VERSUS THEM politics stick. George Washington warned about this, he saw how toxic it would be. He was right. He gets more right with every passing year.

While they have us all bickering amongst ourselves, you know what politicians fight for now? Money. Corporate interests. Pandering to the extremes (and yes, both sides do this.) They've long ago lost interest in the everyday American citizen. The ones that hold down multiple jobs to make ends meet, the ones that are buried under the crushing student loan debt that they were told it was necessary to take on else they never get a good job, the ones who have to make tough choices about love and money and family. American citizens are just props who they only seem to care about when it's time for re-election. Sure, we vote, but the choices are almost already made for us: one of two candidates that were picked out by each side, whichever one they think they can win with. Then they pander to us and make us believe that THEY will be the answer to our problems, while the other candidate is a lying liar demon straight from hell who will ruin this country as soon as their name placard gets made. Even then, most people don't vote, because they are too jaded by the whole thing, or they don't care, or they don't have time. And the politicians count on that. They love it when we don't vote.

Because the politicians have to protect their sponsors, their special interests, lest they lose the cash that's lining their pockets. They have no interest in getting anything done - they just want to stop the Other Team from doing anything. Then they point fingers and place blame. Meanwhile, the rest of us are too busy trying to survive our lives to be able to take a vested interest in correcting any of it.

We've stopped being a democracy. We're a textbook oligarchy - money rules this country. It snuck in and wrapped its hands around our throat and we're stuck. That's what's so frustrating. There's very little hope of untangling ourselves from this mess because it's so entrenched, and who's going to convince the politicians to give up that cash? Nobody, nothing.

So they fear-monger and make outlandish claims that, even if they are blatantly false, in this culture of insta-everything, a retraction will never be seen the way a first impression is. You can tell blatant lies and it will never catch up to you, because you can say "oops" and put it in the fine print that you were wrong, but everyone has already moved on and doesn't bother following up. Nobody cares about facts. They care about rhetoric.

I still have some faith in the government. (Local governments, mostly.) Because there are a lot of good things that government can and does do, and a lot of parts of it that I think are important. Funding for education (to paraphrase author John Green: I'm okay with paying taxes for schools because I don't like living in a country full of stupid people). Funding for streets and bridges and various civil projects. All of the things the FDA does to keep our food and medications safe. The things the EPA does so that we can have clean air to breathe (as opposed to China, who has such bad pollution that respiratory illnesses abound). We can't afford to dismantle these things. The postal service. National parks. Medical research. All the other things that we missed when the government shut down last year. Those are the good things. Those are the things I wish our politicians would focus on.

Instead, to steal part of a facebook comment from a friend: all they have succeeded in doing is turning this country against itself. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ten Kilometers

When I completed my first 5K, I didn't really feel as accomplished as I was hoping. I'd been working for it for ages. I went from running two minutes at a time to a fairly regular running regimen where if I ran anything less than a mile, I felt like I had failed that day. I reached the elusive 3.1 miles one day while out for a run in my park, and when I was done, I felt a twinge of triumph and then... not much. The equivalent of an emotional shrug. My first "official" 5K in a race setting happened a month or two later; I was anxious about it because I'd never run a 5K On Command before. Whenever I had done it, it just came about as a result of variables that all aligned that day. But I did it, and I crossed the finish line with what is still to this day my fastest 5K time. I was relieved, but not terribly celebratory. I chalked it up to my perfectionist nature; I had done it, good for me, whatever.

The most excited I got - the closest to any sort of "runner's high" - was on the Very Rare occasion that I went past 3.1 miles. When I ran for almost an hour. When I ran for four miles. It was then that I started to entertain the outlandish notion that maybe I could run five miles... and that maybe someday I'd try a 10K. But it sounded just as crazy as suggesting I would run a marathon. Who was I kidding? I was slow, chubby, and in terrible shape. It was amazing enough that I could run a 5K.

I had signed up for Nicole's From 0 to 13.1 course very early on in the year. I had no desire or intention to train for or run a half marathon; but I wanted to be better. I wanted to improve what I was doing, and maybe aim for that 10K. But spring was a bit crazy this year, and I fell off the running bandwagon before the snow had even melted. I ended up coaching two softball teams this year, which basically ensured that I was an exhausted mess for most of the early summer months. If I was super dedicated, I could have probably found time, but there were days when it was all I could do to keep my head above water. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed it, and I knew going into it that it would be a very time-consuming endeavor. But man. Quite so. And running just wasn't that high on the priority list.

But when The Oatmeal announced his Beat the Blerch 10K/Half Marathon/Marathon, I let the same spontaneity that pushed me into BiSC push me into signing up for this one. I mean, how could I not? I'd been reading the Oatmeal for years. The Internet + running! Nevermind that I hadn't been training. There was plenty of time, it wasn't until September! Nevermind that it was in Seattle. I knew people in Seattle. I could hang out with some of my Internet friends! And then go run an Internet-based race! It was insanity! And I was totally in. For the 10K, obviously.

For those of you who are still like "Blerch? What?" - the concept of this race was based on this comic about "The Blerch" - a mythical blob of fat with wings that encouraged you to do anything but what's good for you. I am the queen of blerchly excuses, frankly. I'm tired, it's too late, I have other stuff to do, I'm tired...


He also just put out a book about running that includes this particular comic, entitled The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, should you be interested.

I clearly wasn't the only one who was eager to participate in this event. I set an appointment on my calendar and hovered around my computer waiting for the exact moment registration opened. The site kept crashing; within a half hour, it was sold out. I was bummed, but I tried to console myself with the money I would be saving and the fact that I really hadn't been training anyway. But when they opened a waitlist, I pounced on it like a rabid hyena. I didn't think twice when they opened a second day of races, I signed up and decided to sort out the logistics later.

In the intervening months, the impending 10K weighed on the back of my subconscious. Because I am a complicated being who frequently likes to self-sabotage, I did not go out of my way to increase my training. In hindsight, I have no idea why. I went out and ran, and did intervals up to six miles, but I didn't push myself.

And then it was upon me.

The weekend itself was pretty amazing - and will get its own post, if I can get my act together - and I continue to fall in love with the Pacific Northwest. But this post isn't about that, or the awesome people I hung out with.

spoiler alert: these guys

Other than this slight digression to which I will shamelessly post this photo where I got to meet The Oatmeal himself.

 cue awkward fangirl moment

It's about beating my own Blerches, and conquering this race that I wasn't ready for.

shown: an actual Blerch

The race conditions couldn't have been better suited to my liking than if I was Mother Nature herself. The morning was cloudy and cool which is my perfect, ideal running weather. The route quickly went from paved roads to gravel trails, which was something I wasn't used to, but I adjusted. The park was gorgeous. The trail was gorgeous. I was in a very zen state of mind throughout almost the entire thing.

hey, look! official race photos!
I'm such a slow runner that I look like I'm walking in most of them, but whatever.

I started off like I always do, but something magical happened around Mile 3. (Perhaps it was the cake at the aid station.) During miles 3 and 4, I felt so good that I decided I was going to run the whole thing, even if I had to drag myself across the finish line.

I didn't come all that way to not give it absolutely everything I had. 

And aside from the pit stop/photo ops at the aid station, I did. I ran the whole thing. All 6.2 miles.

When I crossed that finish line, I felt damn near euphoric. Better than I had after any 5K. The elusive runner's high, perhaps. But it was that moment - and for several random moments in the days afterward - that I felt almost invincible. I had done this thing, this crazy thing that I never thought I'd ever be able to do. What else could I do? What couldn't I do?

Even now, two weeks later, my heart kind of wants to explode with happy. I've been an overachiever my entire life, but I have never felt so inspired by anything I have done until now. Because nothing I have accomplished up to this point has ever felt as impossible as this thing did. It felt impossible all the way up until the point where I was doing it. And then suddenly it wasn't, and now I can't help but wonder what other impossible things I can do. (*cough* write that novel *cough*)

see that? that's the finish line back there.

From a non-sentimental standpoint, my finish time wasn't stellar by any means, but I continued to meet my perpetual race goal of Not Last. I finished 622/972 overall, 425/676 out of all the ladies, and 112/163 in the Female 20-29 age group. This was, notably, the last race of my 20s. From now on, I'll be in a new age bracket. Eek!

I was a little confused at first as to why my finish time didn't match the official chip time, but then it occurred to me that my watch auto-paused itself when I stopped to take photos with Sasquatch & the Blerches at the aid station (because this is obviously a thing that I would do). The difference was about a minute and I'm not terribly worried about it. Mostly because (a) I didn't have a set time that I was racing against and my goal was simply to finish, time be damned... and (b) this picture was awesome. The second Blerch snuck up behind me and I didn't even know he was there until I looked at this picture after the race.

Blerchy perfection. 

And now I kind of want to do it again.  I want to recapture that feeling that I had during Mile 3, when the rest of the world outside of the path had quieted down and it was just me and my feet and this building sense of hey, I can do this. Hey, I am doing this.

That's a pretty incredible feeling.