Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

There was a riot at my alma mater last night. Why? Absolutely no good reason whatsoever, unless you count bored, drunken college students being idiots as a good reason. (One of my friends joked that it was a delayed reaction to winning the Big 12 basketball championship last month. I'll admit it: that gave me a quick laugh.) There's nothing to riot about here. Compared to most of the world, we're practically living in a damn utopia. The most prevalent crime in this town is illegal parking.

It's not the first time this has happened.

Ten years ago, I was a freshman at Iowa State. (Yes, just typing that makes me feel old.) It was my first VEISHEA, my first experience with the wonderful and strange traditions at the university that had instantly felt like home, like the place I belonged. If you can be soulmates with a place, I was soulmates with Iowa State University. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew that that was where I was supposed to be. I felt like crying when I graduated. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to the friends and life that I'd had there. 

But I digress.

For the uninitiated, VEISHEA is the largest student-run college event in the country. It's (supposed to be) a celebration of the history, traditions, and educational excellence at Iowa State University. The acronym (which is why it's supposed to appear in all caps, though it often doesn't) stands for the original colleges that made up the university: (V)et Med, (E)ngineering, (I)ndustrial (S)cience, (H)ome (E)conomics, and (A)griculture. This marks the 92nd year (91st if you don't count the Year Without a VEISHEA in 2005, but we'll get to that.) It's a time for students to showcase the best of the university. There's a parade on Saturday. The Life Sciences college (what would have originally been the Home Ec college) mass-produces tiny little cherry pies that you can buy for $1, an endeavor that's organized and executed by the hotel/restaurant management majors. It's quite impressive, the way they make so many pies so quickly. (I'll admit - the pies are one of my favorite traditions. From a purely objective standpoint, they're really nothing special... but dammit, they are magical. Magical and tiny and awesome.)

 No but seriously. The cherry pies, man.

There are student demonstrations (the chemistry club demo is hands-down the best, they perform a clever skit while showing off science experiments, and it's always, always packed), displays and exhibits on central campus, and food. Lots of food. There are concerts by big names and small names; there is a battle of the bands, there are theater performances and the spring football scrimmage. It's not just for current students; alumni return every year and bring their kids and share their pride for the university with their families. It's a big deal, and it sounds corny as hell, but I always loved it. I was in the parade twice with my residence hall government group, carrying a giant inflatable dragon balloon (we even made the ISU homepage, and there is a photo of us hanging in our local Applebee's, though of course it's one from the other side, so you can't see me); we didn't get cherry pies before they sold out my junior year and nobody heard the end of it. We got sunburned and were exhausted, but it was amazing. We didn't have to drink to enjoy it.

I don't know who to credit this image to, but it was the one from the ISU homepage.
I am the girl in the very center holding one of the strings.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for most. Over the past twenty years or so, VEISHEA has been rapidly declining from what it once was. It has somehow become sort of beacon for debauchery, and people show up from all over to party. (We're not really even a party school - we leave that to our in-state rival, the University of Iowa, who was ranked the #1 party school in the country in 2013.) Most of the incidents (including a fatal stabbing in the 90s) were instigated by out of towners that had nothing to do with Iowa State.

The 2004 riot was a series of unfortunate events. Student-police relations weren't great (are they ever?), and when the police broke up a huge house party, the partygoers were essentially herded into our Campustown area - the street with all of the bars. Disgruntled drunk people + more drunk people = not a great situation. Crowds gathered, vandalism broke out. Cars were flipped, windows were broken, lightpoles were uprooted. There's a pretty infamous picture of a kid pushing a flaming dumpster down the street. We were in the den area of our residence hall, hanging out and probably working on art projects because that's what you do when you're a first-year design student, and people were starting to trickle in and it was clear that something was Happening. Being young, stupid, and curious, we ran across the parking lot to the next dorm over to see what was going on - just in time to see a lightpole come crashing down. The police set off tear gas to disperse the crowd, we scampered back to our dorm and stayed there, wanting no part of this mess that was unfolding. (The residence hall we ran to was right along the main road and got the brunt of the gas; it was doubly unfortunate because that was the section of the building with no air-conditioning, and having been a really warm day, most of them had their windows open. People that were innocently sleeping or hanging out in their dorm room became collateral damage.)

 Remember when there were actual paper newspapers? 
And people saved them? Me too!
Found this while cleaning a couple months ago.
Should have known it was a bad sign.

This was before social media existed. Facebook had barely been invented, and wasn't widely available. Twitter and Instagram were made-up words that nobody knew yet. My roommate and I stayed up in our room waiting to see when it would make the news. It hit CNN around 3am that morning.

The university promptly suspended VEISHEA for the following year and put together a task force to examine what they could do to eliminate "disturbances" like this from happening again in the future. The event had been "dry" since the stabbing incident; mostly that meant that everyone was pushed off campus into house parties like the one that had triggered the chaos. More events were moved on campus, away from the booze-soaked scene of Campustown. Concerts were held in parking lots and underneath the Campanile on central campus; the food vendors were lined up along our lake instead of along Welch Avenue. For my part, we lobbied to permit of-age students living on-campus to be able to consume alcohol in their room - four people drinking and being silly in a room is a lot less dangerous than 500 people crammed into a house that will eventually spill out into the street. Our measure passed.

All the measures taken seem to have worked; when VEISHEA came back in 2006, everyone was on their best behavior. Partygoers from out of town still arrived, but things were calm. We spent the day on central campus and the night at a concert. My senior year was the same, probably my favorite VEISHEA aside from pre-riot 2004. It was bright and sunny, I walked in the parade, we got cherry pies, we went to the chemistry show, we got hella sunburned, we went to concerts in the evening. Saturday night we came back to our residence hall and ended up playing Cranium in our den, because we were too exhausted to do anything else.

But every time I could hear hints of a crowd, anything that sounded like a louder roar than usual, I panicked. I had flashbacks to the mob that was a little to close to our dorm for comfort. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was always holding my breath, always listening for the sound of a riot. They had warned us: you screw up again, and it's gone forever. Nobody wanted to see that happen. Everything was kept in check.

This is probably one of my favorite pictures, both of VEISHEA and of ever.
My friend ran literally into the parade while we were stopped and we took this picture.

Fast forward ten years. I attended VEISHEA a few more times, more parades, more cherry pies. There was a rainy year and there was a snowy year. There were sunny years and years I didn't go. Things seemed to be fine. Which is why I was totally blindsided this morning when I logged on to facebook and saw an alarming trend in my feed.

Splashed all over social media (and national news headlines) were pictures and videos of an encore performance of 2004. There was one kid who had to be airlifted to a hospital down in Des Moines when a lightpost fell on him and hit him in the back of the head. Sources say that when the ambulance came, the crowd wouldn't even move. More windows smashed, more cars flipped, more businesses damaged, more things thrown at the police. On a Tuesday night, no less. It makes it a lot harder to blame out of towners this time, because most of those don't arrive until the weekend. That means it was ISU students. To quote the university president,"This time it was us."

I was stunned at first, and then I was sad, and then I was angry.

It was pointless and idiotic in 2004, and it's pointless and idiotic in 2014.

It's funny, in a not-funny way, how ISU can do such a 180 on the national spotlight scene. Our basketball team was setting records right and left this year; we went to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament, losing to the eventual national champions. A video of our basketball coach doing a silly white-man dance in the locker room went viral. The entire "Cyclone Nation" was bursting with pride. 

And then this.

It's so sad that we continually erase any positivity that ISU gets in the press, and instead become known as a cesspool of entitlement, violence, and immature behavior. The resounding sentiment in my newsfeed today was embarrassment and disgust. Most of us were there for the last one. Some people I know were there for the one before that. 

The university held a press conference today, and the new university president is not fucking around. At a press conference this afternoon, he promptly cancelled the remainder of the VEISHEA activities for the week. Another task force has been appointed to examine the future of VEISHEA. At this point, I feel like it could go either way. I hope they find a solution, one that doesn't involve canceling it forever. I wouldn't blame them if they did, though.

The face of a man who does not fuck around.

There are murmurs about "what if they riot again, in protest"? Well, maybe. If they're stupid enough. You can bet your ass that the iron fist of law enforcement is going to have campus in its grip. They already have both the city police and campus police at full-strength during this week, and borrow officers from neighboring towns. They're probably going to bring in some of the Des Moines metro area police, and whoever else they can get. They're going to come down hard on anything that looks remotely like a disturbance, if my friends who have friends working for ISU are to be believed (and trust me, they have taken this seriously for years, so I believe them.) Some say it was a knee-jerk reaction, but honestly? I'm not sure what else they could have done. The writing was on the wall for them. They couldn't not cancel it. They couldn't send the message that this was okay. They had to draw the line, and draw it hard and fast. It sucks, but I absolutely think it was the right thing to do. I hope the kids that ruined it for everyone feel adequately terrible, and to learn that their actions have consequences, and that everyone thinks they are assholes.

I feel so bad for all of the students that put in so much time planning and organizing VEISHEA. I knew a lot of the people that worked on VEISHEA when I was at ISU and I know how hard they work. It's pretty much a life-consuming endeavor. They start planning for the next VEISHEA the very day the current VEISHEA ends.

I feel bad for all the alumni that were going to bring their kids to the parade. I feel bad for the groups that had prepared their displays and their performances. I feel bad for the clubs that are going to miss out on their fundraising. I feel bad for all the cherry pies that are not going to get eaten. I hate that the fuckups once again ruin it for everyone.

The worst part of all of it, is that I'm willing to bet money that most of those students have no idea they did anything wrong. They don't believe they can get in trouble for it, they don't believe they can be held accountable for it. They are part of the generation that grew up without consequences, and if there is any justice in this world, they will start learning about it now. Mommy and Daddy can only protect you to a point. The Real World is not going to be so kind.

It's terrible. It's gotten terrible. I have friends that teach and they have students that will flat-out say things like "no one tells me no" and that they get want they want, period. I guess it's become common to see students bringing their parents to a career fair. (I was reading the comments on a LinkedIn article, and one hiring manager said that he interviewed a recent graduate who brought her mother along. To the interview. AND HER MOM ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS. WHAT the ACTUAL fuck is happening?). 

I have to believe that they are the minority. There are so many thoughtful and bright people out there. I wish they were louder.  I hope there is a way to amplify the voices of the good kids over the weeks ahead. I hope there is a way to erase the mentality and actions of the type that participate in the destructive behavior, a way to make it known that this is not what Iowa State is. Iowa State is more than that, it is better than that. 

I hope they track down the people that incited this riot, who participated in it. It shouldn't be hard. They've all helpfully taken photos and videos and selfies of the scene. I hope they expel all of them. They don't deserve to be a part of Iowa State or its community. I hope they slap as many of them with criminal charges as they can. Even the ones not actively destroying property should get charged with something. Because they're just as guilty, almost as much at fault as if they'd done it themselves. If people weren't in the crowd, there wouldn't have been a crowd, and no crowd = no riot. The crowd is what egged on the instigators, so frankly, I'd say they are deserving of some sort of punishment. You find yourself in a riot crowd, you leave, or you're just as guilty. You are an enabler, an accomplice.

Can VEISHEA go back to what it was originally intended to be? I don't know. Most of the students are good kids. There is always a large pocket that "gets" it. Those students are probably devastated right now, and I don't blame them. There is that stigma around the event now, though. Simply by it being VEISHEA, the troublemakers are going to roll into town and stir things up. What was supposed to be a positive event has become a codeword for a modern-day bacchanalia, and I don't know how anyone can stop that.

I obviously have a lot of (circular) thoughts on feelings on this. I'm not even sure I've expressed them. I'm frustrated by all of it, obviously. It's been so long since I've written that I'm flailing around and not succeeding. Apparently, this is what it takes to get me blogging again.

I'm going to leave you with a couple links to better-written thoughtpieces than this. One from my friend who is an incredibly intelligent radio personality who happens to be as nutso about our alma mater as I am, and the other is from a former ISU football player who absolutely nails it so much that I wish I'd written it. It's much more to the point (and much shorter) than what I've rambled about here. Perhaps I should have just asked for permission to repost it, instead.

Despite everything, I know my university is better than this. I know that there are more good people than bad people. I'm angry and frustrated and disappointed, but there is another thing that I will always be. I will always be part of the Iowa State family, and I will always fiercely love and defend it. Even now.

(source unknown, borrowed from a friend's facebook feed)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Right Now

There’s so much going on in the world outside of where I am, that it just makes me want to hide further inside myself. It’s hard to put my finger on but there’s a familiar feeling that I get when I encounter it. My chest tightens ever so slightly. It’s a form of stress in its purest, most poisonous form. It’s hard to turn anywhere without a constant flurry of negativity and I can’t deal with it anymore. I used to take the bait, I used to let myself feel the self-righteous, indignant rage and any perceived injustice, even if it wasn’t directed at me. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, but I don’t feel the need to stand in the center of the storm anymore.

It’s everywhere. Maybe not everywhere, maybe that’s a misstatement, but I spend a lot of time online and I feel like it’s constantly crashing down from all corners of the Internet. There’s constant political volleying and bickering (OH GOD THE BICKERING), there are international spats, there are awful trends and hateful vitriol (maybe that’s redundant) and people issuing cowardly and anonymous death threats through twitter and other public forms to anyone they don’t like, anyone who dares disagree with them. Everything is out of balance. There’s rampant shaming of everyone by the media for every perceived infraction – slut-shaming, fat-shaming, everything-shaming – and everyone is a critic, even when people are trying to do good. But if everyone isn’t perfectly PC or accommodating to anyone, they get attacked. (And maybe I’ve been reading too many feminist websites, so it just seems that way, but damn, it makes me never want to speak a word in public ever again because everyone is offended by everything. Not saying some of that offense isn’t justified, because some of it totally is, but… I think there are some people just looking for stuff to get upset about.) I don’t know why everyone is constantly picking fights just to fight. Everyone is so angry. Everyone is looking for someone to take their anger out on. I think everyone has totally lost sight of the meaning of “respect” – they wouldn’t treat people like that in real life, at least I damn well hope not. Maybe I’m na├»ve, an optimist, whatever. I’d rather be a dreamer than an asshole.

The world feels like it is out of control. More than usual. 

All the clickbait content machines and the shoddy journalism that nobody fact-checks, sensationalist reporting at its finest. And even if someone does do research and come out with a retraction or correction later, it doesn’t matter, because that first impact of falsehood is what was spread and nobody is going to pay attention to it. Good luck getting correct information to spread as much as the false ones. It won’t. There are some sites that have taken to writing weekly columns about what particular viral stories that week are complete and utter bullshit; facebook has turned into one big email forwarding chain circa the mid 1990s. I’m not sure Snopes can keep up fast enough. It’s so easy to react without looking into it. It’s exhausting. Because blatantly wrong information is one of my biggest peeves (I have a lot of peeves, and the majority of them seem to be communication related) and I so want to fix everything and push out all the counter-information but it’s impossible so I have to sit on my hands and look the other way. Cat videos, mostly. Anything funny. The people that create funny content for the Internet are the people that save me from giving up on humanity.

So I’m turning inward, more than I have before, because my little corner of the world is safer. I’m much happier not giving a shit about what’s happening in the world because I’m being fed so much false information that it’s all probably a lie anyway. Everything is blown out of proportion and I can’t trust any of it. I used to write thoughtful (or ragey) posts about issues and events and things that I was passionate about. But I can’t, anymore. It’s too much. It causes me a lot of stress and angst. The world breaks my heart over and over again. So instead of being overwhelmed by All The Things, I am going to return this space to where it started. I’m going to write about me again. My life, my thoughts, my observations. It might be boring as hell, but I like being able to capture snapshots of my life. That’s why I take so many pictures, too. Maybe I’m searching for some meaning in all the chaos, preserving the bits where everything seemed to make sense. I don’t spend an awful lot of time looking back, necessarily, but everywhere I’ve been is part of where I am and where I’m going. It’s all part of the same road.

At any rate, I'm giving myself permission to ignore the world when it gets to be too much. I'm giving myself permission not to have to weigh in with my opinion. The world doesn't need it. There are plenty of others. But that doesn't mean that the world doesn't need my voice - maybe it does, it probably doesn't - it's just one of many, but everyone's is at least a little bit important. We all view the world through a different lens; maybe we captured something someone else didn't notice, or something they wished they would have but they ran out of film that day. (or, errr, ran out of room on their memory card. As it were.)

A phrase I stumbled across recently was that of common humanity – meaning that whatever is happening to us, good or bad, whatever we are feeling… someone else is feeling it too. So maybe if I can wrangle my thoughts and feelings into words, maybe someone will find something to relate to. They say blogging is dead (they also said rock & roll was dead, and that’s not true), and I have felt the decline of the heyday, but that’s fine. I was never in it to make a career of it, I could never siphon my whole soul into it, no matter how much I wanted to. Trying to keep up was a chore and having too many to-do items on my list was overwhelming. I’m tired of letting myself be overwhelmed by my own doing. But I do miss it. I miss writing, in general. It's always the first thing to go when I get busy or stressed or tired. No more, I say! No more! 


Friday, February 14, 2014

Heavy Lungs

I had grand ambitions of writing more this year, I truly did. I even managed to put out a few posts, and if I had a dollar for every time I included specific blog posts/topics on a to-do list, I'd probably elevate myself into the next tax bracket.

But I'm struggling. For starters, I'm not sleeping great, which should probably get an entire post of its own, but I've been waiting for some sort of resolution that hasn't come yet, and since my follow-up anymore is shoddy, I don't want to write a Part I that will never see its Part II. But suffice it to say that it's affecting my health and mostly my mood and I'm tired a lot and really sort of apathetic a lot. I don't have the energy to write. I barely have the motivation to jot thoughts down and so a lot of good ones are getting a way. 

I want to blame the winter. It seems like an easy target. It's been bad this year. Bad everywhere. I don't think it's necessarily that, though I don't think that it's been helping. I've been taking Vitamin D on someone's suggestion, and that doesn't seem to be making a bit of difference. It's not even gray and dreary, a lot of times it's bright and white and snowy and sunny and that's different than the last few winters have been. It's been cold, too. Sooo very cold. But I don't really think it has anything to do with anything. Probably. Maybe. I don't know.

I feel very mechanical, getting up each day and going through the motions and there are bright parts of most days and there are lots of times when I just want to cry for no reason and I think that's probably normal but I'm the last person that is qualified to speak on normal. I've been sluggish and I know that "blah" isn't a very good descriptive word, especially from someone who likes to fancy herself a writer, but it's pretty apt. 

I've mentioned before, probably, that I have struggled with depression and anxiety for years. It always feels weird to just outright say. I always cringe a little bit, like I'm outing myself as someone who is mentally unstable. Truth is, I'm a pretty textbook case, a common statistic. I don't want to use "mental illness" but I don't want to make up pretty euphemisms, either, and I wish this wasn't so ridiculously difficult to talk about. At any rate, the chemical brain imbalances that cause a state of mental unwellness runs pretty rampant through my maternal gene pool. According to my mother, we can trace it back at least four generations, so who knows how far it goes. It's kind of reassuring, in a way. It's not my fault, I just got a raw deal in that particular genetics lottery. 

The thing is, it doesn't feel like my depression, not the way I'm used to it, not the way I've categorized or experienced it in the past. Normally I feel like I'm drowning, like I'm crawling out of my skin, that it's hard to breathe and it's hard to want to breathe. What I'm feeling now is a really dull listlessness, a sort of quiet indifference. I ricochet between feeling lonely and wanting to be entirely left alone. Looking at it objectively, I think this is the depression segment of the Crappy Fun Times Show, while all of that immediate, desperate emotion that I was calling depression actually plays more into the anxiety part. I always lumped them together as being intertwined and possibly the same, and I think they finally decided to differentiate themselves for me, in a way that is unavoidably obvious. 

I'm doing my best to keep my head above water. I wish I could say that I was trying really hard, but I don't really feel like I am. "Keeping up" seems like an ambitious goal some days; my main objective is to just get through the day and make it to the next one. I'm keeping a running mental tally of all the things that I'm getting behind on, and I'm slowly working my way through them when I can. I suppose that's a positive thing; on some level, my brain is registering that this is a temporary patch of bleakness, and eventually things will be all right again, and when they are, we'll want to make sure that everything doesn't get too fucked while we're trying to keep afloat.

There's this quote that's been floating around the Internet and I don't even know who to credit it to, and I've always kept it in my back pocket for the days when my depression gets bad. To use as validation when I struggle, that, hey, I did it, I made it through the day. It's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

I don't know who to credit this to.
I've seen it so many places the source is nearly impossible to trace.

Anyway. I'm still here, sitting in my corner, breathing in and out, every day. I think I might try acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend who also has crap sleep. It won't fix my particular sleep disorder issues, but it might give me some of my energy back. Maybe it will even help with the depression and malaise. I don't know, I've never done it. Which is precisely why I might: it's an avenue I've never tried. I don't think my insurance will cover it but I almost don't care. If it can help, it would be worth every penny. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't do a damn thing, and I will be no worse off than I am if I hadn't tried. Have any of you tried it? Thoughts?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Run, Kelly, Run!

I was never going to be a Runner. I hated running. Haaaaaaaaaaated it. I would scoff at it and actively avoid it. I always had flashbacks to running track in high school, jogging around the school parking lot on chilly March days in a pair of lined windpants that had probably been purchased sometime in the 80s. Every once in a while, even when I was in college, I'd step outside on a spring day and sniff the air, and it would smell like track season. Burning lungs, tired legs, crisp air. It haunted me. And then I got fat. Well, fatter. Downright obese compared to what I had been when I was a teenager. I didn't have the sense to realize it then, because of course the media machine had already gotten to me and I was convinced that I was unworthy. I found a photo of myself from the summer after my junior year and I was scrawny as hell. The gift of hindsight, I guess. I kind of want to go back in time and slap my seventeen year old self in the face, though. Just because.

But I gained weight in college and then later at my desk job, as one is likely to do, and I thought that maybe running would be good exercise. Cardio, right? Burn those calories! Except I could barely go a minute or two before my lungs started burning and I had to stop. On a good day, I could get through an entire song on my iPod. It was futile. I continued to avoid it mostly because I couldn't do it.

Then, sometime in 2012, I got the random  notion in my head that I wanted to run a 5K. Why, I don't know. I couldn't even run 1K. Or probably half a K. But I knew there was a Couch to 5K program and "anybody could do it" and I figure I fell into the category of anybody, just as much as, well, anybody else.

Long story short, I didn't make it to a 5K in 2012 but I did manage to run a miraculous (and snail-worthy) 32 minutes that year. My all-time PR, even from when I was young and in shape. I'd never run that long before. Ever. In my life. Not continuously, that's for damn sure. So I started running again as soon as spring came around in 2013, trying to build on that. I wasn't even sure how "into" running I would be, but, again, I knew it was a good cardio workout and I still had my white whale to capture - running a 5K.

I started keeping track of my runs in April as a means of tracking my progress. I started taking post-run photos simply because Runkeeper prompted me to the first time I used it... and then it just sort of became a tradition. From there, I decided to document each excursion in a similar manner. Consistency, and whatnot. Blogging helped, also, to keep me accountable. (Yes, yes. Despite my inability to keep up THIS blog, I started a whole new one. That one, however, is remarkably up to date.)

Which is a roundabout way of saying: I have a lot of data and I find stats to be pretty interesting. So I've taken the time to compile everything that I recorded in 2013 in to a nice year-end summary.

The biggest surprise, when tallying everything up? It was only my 6th run of the year when I ran my first 5K equivalent (3.22 miles) on May 10. (Which gives me hope that it won't take me too long to bounce back in 2014 after taking some time off over the holidays/in the winter.)

Number of Runs Per Month
April - 2
May - 8
June - 11
July - 12
August - 6
September - 8
October - 9
November - 3
December - 1
Total Number of Runs in 2013: 60
Month with the Most Runs: July (12)

Total Recorded Time Per Month
April - 45 minutes
May - 184 minutes
June - 269 minutes
July - 277 minutes
August - 133 minutes
September - 146 minutes
October - 215 minutes
November - 105 minutes
December - 15 minutes
Total Time Spent Running in 2013: 1389 minutes (23.15 hours!)
Month with the Most Time Spent Running: July (277 minutes)
Most Recorded Time in a Single Week: 93 minutes (10/20-10/26)
2013 Personal Record, Longest Time/Single Run: 55 minutes (6/21)

Total Recorded Distance Per Month
April - 1.77 miles (only one run was tracked)
May - 15.12 miles
June - 22.69 miles
July - 22.05 miles
August - 8.82 miles
September - 11.57 miles
October - 17.41 miles
November - 8.05 miles
December - 1.22 miles
Total Recorded Distance in 2013: 108.7 miles
Month with the Most Distance Run: June (22.69 miles)
Most Recorded Distance in a Single Week: 7.6 miles (10/20-10/26)
2013 Personal Record, Farthest Distance: 4.29 miles (10/20)

Total # of Organized 5K Races Run in 2013: 4

Number of Runs Per Days of the Week:
Sunday - 15
Monday - 6
Tuesday - 11
Wednesday - 5
Thursday - 6
Friday - 7
Saturday - 10

It is perhaps not surprising that most of my runs landed on a weekend, especially since in the summer I had softball on weeknights, and in the fall once it started to get dark by the time I left work. There were definitely some patterns starting to emerge each month, which was interesting because I never had a "set" running schedule.

Looking ahead: 2014

My #1 running goal for 2014 is to run 5 miles. I was so close last year, I think I can do it! My #2 goal, if I can run 5, is to eventually run a 10K (which is ~6.2 miles). I'm not ready to commit to a goal of a half marathon just yet, even though a lot of my friends are doing it (peer pressure!) but if I have a good year this year and stay injury-free, that might be The Goal for 2015.

I'm also considering investing in a GPS Watch this year. My UP band has suited me pretty well, but it's always frustrated me just a little bit to not know how far I'd run until after I was done. I think it might also help me pace myself while doing 5Ks. They're about $130-150 but I shouldn't need to buy new shoes or gear for a while (unless I magically lose a bunch of weight, but if that happens, I will not be complaining!) so it might be my big splurge for the year.

Lastly, I'm planning on running more 5Ks this year. Probably a couple in the spring, a couple in the fall. Summer is kind of busy since I'm planning on coaching softball again, and late summer is just miserably hot and humid. But we'll see! If a fun one pops up here and there I won't say no! I don't have a set number that I want to do. I don't want to spend too much money on registration fees, and I'd rather do more charity runs than novelty runs. (In other words, I won't be running the Color Run in 2014. I might get talked into participating, but it will be strictly leisurely. Too many people and obstacles.) It would be nice to do a couple of the same races as last year just to see what kind of improvement I can make from last year, so hopefully all the dates will work out.

In the meantime, I am itching to get outside again. We had one really nice day a couple weeks ago - it actually got up to 50°! - but it was such a tease, because the next day we were back to cold and snow. It felt nice to run though - and I managed to last twenty minutes, which is much longer that I expected for the first time out of the gate. Right now, it's just torture, waiting for nice weather.

Listen to me! I think the assimilation into the Running Borg is complete. Yeesh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

[Insert Interesting Title Here]

ALERT. I have been named to Almie's (aka Apocalypstick) "Most Interesting People Under 38" list because screw Forbes and their 30 Under 30 and also because her list apparently didn't have very stringent criteria. I feel a bit out of place given the other people on the list that are actually interesting and deserve to be there, but I have evidence that it happened and you can't take that away from me. Pride may be temporary but screenshots are forever.

So, click through and scroll down. You'll also see fellow #BiSCuits Simone, Jessica, and Casey, who are, of course, much more qualified to be there. In addition to Almie, of course. Because, duh.

Or, if you're lazy, here:

(The "this" in question is the time Target got permission to use my tweets and then had models strut down the runway holding snack food and pout and be sultry and then recite my tweets before catwalking away. It was still one of the more bizarre things that has happened to me during my tenure on the Internet.)

I have no closing for this post, so I'm just going to kind of awkwardly inch toward the door and then turn and flee suddenly. BYE.

Monday, January 20, 2014


So I'm taking this fiction writing workshop class thing online held by the brilliant Alice Bradley, and her recommended reading for the week was a couple of short stories. Being not in possession of a New Yorker subscription (that shiz is expensive!), I wandered to Amazon, and sat there staring at my screen. "I don't REALLY want to spend any more money, especially not to buy two books just to read one story from each... but I really want to read the stories she suggested...." and then it hit me like a giant, idiotic bolt of lightning. HEY, SELF. YOU HAVE A LIBRARY CARD. MAYBE USE IT ONCE IN A WHILE.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Story of Furnaces and Stubbornness

It is a long-held belief that how you start your new year will set the tone for the rest of the year. I know this because I read it in an article on the Internet which I think was trying to explain why we make such a big deal out of NYE or why we are culturally obsessed with having someone to kiss at midnight. I don’t really remember. Just go with me on this one.

I happen to know that this is largely a load of superstitious bullshit. I know this because I have spent more NYEs than I care to count alone in my sweatpants, patiently waiting for the clock to strike twelve so that I could go to sleep. Most of those years turned out fine. A year is a long time and a lot can happen and very little of it predicates upon what you were up to on a particular day at the end of December.

However, if this particular nugget does happen to be true, I’m probably in for a not-so-great 2014.

My New Year’s Eve plans fluctuate from year to year, they’re usually low key, they’re occasionally disappointing, and a lot of time they are based on my mood, which generally sways toward less-than-cheerful as the dark and dreary winter nights wear on and I get beat over the head with seasonal depression. This year was one of those off years, where on top of being generally down for no reason, I’ve been dealing with a diagnosed-but-still-untreated sleep disorder (a story for another day) on top of recurring bouts of insomnia, so I was feeling particularly ragged. I had a small handful of options for plans for that night; but by the time I got off work, the thought of showering and prettying up was too much. I was exhausted. I’d been exhausted for months. And that exhaustion generally leads to being pretty anti-social.

So I traded in my sequins for a pair of sweatpants and bummed around my apartment, drinking wine and watching TV on my laptop from the comfort of my bed. I congratulated myself on staying up so late on purpose, did an invisible air-toast, and fell asleep. I proceeded to then sleep through most of New Year’s Day, getting up only when absolutely necessary and returning to the bed-cave as soon as possible. It was nice and toasty in my bedroom, which is traditionally the warmest room in my house. Probably because I always keep the door shut to keep my cat out. I think I ended up in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, it was so warm. Nothing out of the ordinary. My apartment is part of a big house which is technically a triplex but I call it a duplex because most people would be like “triplex, what?” and because while I share an entryway with my downstairs neighbors, the third apartment is around back and I rarely see the girl who lives there. If she even lives there anymore. Maybe she moved out. I have no idea. She was living there for two months before I even realized that the landlord had finished renovating it and rented it out again. This is relevant because (a) the heating and cooling controls are based in the downstairs apartment, so I am at the mercy of my neighbors, though there’s only been once or twice in the almost five years that I’ve lived there that the temperature has been outside my comfort level, and (b) those neighbors were out of town for the holidays, so even though it was a wee bit hot, there was really not much I could do about it anyway.

Thursday morning I woke up and I was still feeling pretty awful. Whatever formula of exhaustion, fatigue, and depression had kept me in bed for the entirety of January 1 seemed determined to keep me there on January 2, as well. Super great start to the new year. I can’t wait until I get all my random health issues sorted out and I get to use my PTO for actual vacation days instead of sick days. At any rate, I remained curled up in my bed, drifting in and out of consciousness as 2014 pointed and laughed at me.

At some point, I noticed that it was no longer toasty-hot in my bedroom; in fact, it was actually kind of chilly. After a few hours of this, I traded the shorts for some sweatpants and added a few more blankets to my bed. I proceeded to sleep through the rest of the afternoon and woke up around 5 or 6 to a text message from my downstairs neighbor asking me how long the heat had been off.

Guys, I was so out of it, I didn’t even notice. My brain was with it just enough to be cognizant of a temperature change that necessitated pants, but did not register that, hey, maybe there’s an actual problem with the heat.

Fortunately, she had the wherewithal to call the landlord to investigate the situation, which turned out to be a case of THE FURNACE HAD DIED.

At this point, I was feeling awake and alive enough to be self-conscious of my messy apartment and my not-showered-ness as the heating company brought in space heaters to keep our pipes from freezing until they could fix the heater in the morning. My neighbors gathered their kidlets and took off to find a warm refuge for the night. I went to Wal-Mart and bought a heating pad. Because, dear friends, I am stubborn. My landlord sounding somewhat pleased that I was sticking around (because, you know, while the space heaters are supposed to be safe… it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on them) helped solidify my decision. Who knows that my cat would do when left alone with these strange black boxes? Probably nothing, and they were supposed to automatically shut off if they fell over, but even so. Mostly, I was lazy. I didn’t want to have to think ahead to what I wanted to wear tomorrow so that I could pack some stuff to relocate for the evening.

And thus it became that my bedroom became the coldest room in the house, and the kitchen and bathroom boosted their rankings. However, I had a lot of blankets and a lot of handy layers, and it was fine. My bedroom in my old house growing up was terribly drafty. It was an old house and it didn’t heat (or cool) very well. In the summer, my sister and I would sleep downstairs in the living room where the window AC unit was. In the winter, well. We just kind of had to deal with it. So, really, it didn’t feel much different than it did in that room, the memory of which is still rather vivid given that I tended to stay there when visiting for the holidays.

I also think that there is something about toughing out a situation like this, that requires a certain degree of genetically-inherited stubbornness. I blame my dad, 100%. I remember, distinctly and rather fondly, one chilly November when I came home from college for Thanksgiving break. I walked in to find my dad in his usual recliner, under about five blankets, with his coveralls and a coat on, complete with a stocking cap, watching football. He gleefully announced that he had made it this long without turning the heat on. He paused and told me that I could turn the heat on if I wanted… to which I think I rolled my eyes and walked straight to the thermostat. My point, though: it was a point of personal pride to tough it out and not cave to such wimpy amenities such as heat.

I suppose this probably explains a lot of things about the way I am (“this is nothing!”) though it’s always kind of unpredictable what situations I will tough out and what I will require an immediate amendment to. Ah, we’re such complicated, fickle creatures, aren’t we? No? Maybe I’m just weird. I can live with that, too.