Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Penning Thoughts Along the River

I am currently waiting for my husband to finish his run. He runs almost three times as far as me ( but my pace is about 25% slower than his). There is a math equation in there, but math is hard. In my estimation, even after all my cool down and stretching, I have about 12 more minutes to wait.

I like to sit on the rocks along the Stones River. It's quiet and I can think. I like to imagine that on this very rock some soldier during the Civil War penned a letter to his love back home. That letter would likely have been destroyed sometime in the past 150 years. But I wonder if the serenity of the water flow and the graceful fall of each turned lead instilled the same sense of peace I feel today? I wonder if he, too, used those few quiet moments to take a break from his crazy world?  I wonder who will sit on this rock in another 150 years?


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Pancake Pantry

Last week, Dad got to come home for a few days for some mid-tour rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, my schedule would not let me break away for too long, however we were able to gather as a family at The Pancake Pantry.



My brother flew in, my sister and her husband [the awesomest-brother-in-law-ever] drove up, and so hey-ho! the gang was all there! 
Service member family members! 
It was so much fun to see everybody, even if it were just an hour's-worth of time (my brother had to catch an airplane!). The past few weeks have seen me incredibly busy and sometimes I forget what day it is, as they seem to fly by so fast. But I will remember (and treasure) those family times complimented by syrup and butter. Short and sweet (literally). 

I love this picture because 1) my dad is smiling big and
2) my sister is creeping in the back.

Monday, July 29, 2013

We've Arrived


I was about nine years of age when I saw many of the folks from this family reunion. It is as if I never left. 







I think it is time to eat now. With my family.

Whirlwind of Activity

I thought I had posted more this weekend, although now I see a few drafts that never completed posting. Sorry. I will blame the internet of the wild (here in the Poconos). In the past three days, I have ate a massive amount of food, talked, laughed, played games, ate some more, bowled, kayaked, played some more games, helped make food, talked, ran, sat in a hot tub, played more games, and then ate dessert. This family loves with food, lots and lots of food.






There always seemed a mix of a family, some here and some there- everybody enjoying doing things with others. It was fun. I am exhausted from all the fun and glad I had a chance to spend time with these folks. Blood-relatives or not, a warm and accepting group of people who love (in this case, my family) help make the world mo' better.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breakfast Confession

If you knew me while I was a teenager or young adult, you'd know I did not eat at McDonald's. Ever. In part because the smell reminded me of car sickness and in part because gross. I went a solid 13 years with only a few fruit and yogurt parfaits during family road trips.

I especially don't eat fast food now. Overall, I generally follow a diet that doesn't allow me to eat processed foods, or dairy, or grains/gluten... So no McDonald's, right?


Wrong. What makes me sacrifice clean eating and face potential gastrointestinal distress? A combination of the Monopoly game and my compulsion to complete collections of things.


Look at the grease on that bag! That delicious, savory, heart-stopping grease! So far, I "won" a free breakfast sandwich, am 2/3rds of my way to "winning" $20,000, and have had several days shaved from the end of my adventure-filled life.



Moonshine Country

We completed Day 1 of our travels, rolling through east Tennessee, Virginia, a brief stretch in West Virginia, and stopping in Maryland. After having just finished watching a movie about moonshining in West Virginia during the Prohibition, all I could think as we passed through that countryside was "where do they keep the stills?" We didn't encounter any moonshiners, but we did see an Appalachian Mountain icon:


You never know who you might run into at rest stops! 

We found a Motel 6 that kept the light on for us as we pulled in about 11:30 local time last night. Zzz. I believe we all passed out within seconds of our heads hitting out respective pillows. 

We grabbed some of the complimentary coffee from the motel lobby and rolled out about 7AM. What did I say to convince my beautiful, non-morning-person of a sister to get up so early? That a brief visit to Gettysburg before our final destination at the Poconos would be awesome. She and her awesome husband agreed. I know, I know. You thought I was the only nerd. Turns out I have cool siblings, too.

Pennsylvania, here we come!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Road tripping and Family Reunioning


And we are off!

My dad's family is having a reunion this weekend, so my sister and her husband and I are trekking from Tennessee to Pennsylvania to re-un (or to union since "re" indicates we have done this before?). Sadly, my husband and mother can't make it (and Dad is still in Afghanistan), so we are going to represent. I love road tripping and hanging with family, so I am looking forward to this weekend. I haven't seen many of these family members since I was in the third grade. Maybe I'll put a question mark on my name tag and see if anybody can guess who I am...

Anyways, I will attempt to document the weekend here the best I can, especially for the long distancing family members (this means you, Dad). Bring on the next 11.5 hours in the car! Mom made a batch of chocolate cookies for sustenance and I have a sock monkey travel cup filled with coffee for additional fuel.

Woop!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Dad

Dear Dad,

Yet again, I am belated. It continues to happen more and more as I age (certainly more than I'd like to admit). This time, I even thought ahead and bought a card a few weeks ago, knowing it takes time to send things to Afghanistan. I almost beat the clock! But then I left the card at my apartment before my travels. Dang it.

As much as I thought the card was quality and fitting, I still felt it was not enough. How do I convey how I think you are the most stellarest dad on this planet (and yes, stellarest is a word when talking about stellar dads)? How do I share that I think you are amazing? I'll write about it.

I can't really think of my first memory of you, mostly because I can only remember life with you in it. I remember you explaining to me that trees do no make wind, rather that they only move because the wind was blowing (I had it backward). I remember you explaining how to measure the distance of a storm based on the number of seconds counted. The storms still felt terrifying, but you made them seem almost fun. I remember you telling us that you were a super secret spy so you couldn't tell us your job and how I felt like I wore a super hero cape when I told neighborhood kids at the playground of your job. I remember you taking us to a local baseball field to fly kites one day. On that day, you also left your coffee mug on top of the van and it spilt down the windshield as we drove away- you just said " ooooh! man!" That was a first time I had an inkling that you were human.

I still have an inkling of your humanity, but now I have a simultaneous appreciation of you as human. You are so patient! You are so understanding! You are kind and thoughtful. And goofy and relatable. Whether you are telling stories of exploding watermelons or listening to my own stories, you remain the best dad I can imagine. It is hard for me not to brag.

I miss you a lot while remaining insanely proud of your service. Only a short time before your leave and then a few months again before you are home for good! We (your whole family) is super excited about that. And I look forward to my dad being physically close again. In the meantime, know I consider you close even though you are far away. And that I am proud of you. And that I miss you.

I am sorry I couldn't spend Father's Day with you. I am even more sorry that I did not send that card in time (and by the time you get it, we will be shooting fireworks for Independence Day). But I do love you and want you to know I think you are awesome. I pray for you daily and can't wait to see you again!

Happy Father's Day to the best dad.

Love,
One of your three kids who love you and can't imagine life without you.
~ekg








- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, May 30, 2013

running with raccoons

Yesterday, I ran through where I thought was my favorite place to run, along the Cumberland River at Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge. But then I encountered wildlife. This was not the first time I've encountered wildlife there. I've seen a dead timber rattlesnake before. Yuck. 

The first "encounter"was just the "plunk" sound of turtles dropping from their logs into the water. "Ah, nature," I thought, "it adds to the experience." As I continued down the trail, I remembered that snake. In the distance, I thought I saw what could have been one, so I edged to the other side of the road. By doing that, I scared the snot out of a tortoise who ambled as quickly as a tortoise could to the water side. Watching a tortoise move as quickly as possible was mildly entertaining- after my heart rate came back down from being startled myself. (It turns out when you get startled, that whole breathing-heavy thing complicates running form). The "snake" I saw was only a log, and I tried to keep my cool.

As I worked my way back, I saw a raccoon cross the road ahead of me. "Hmm," I thought. "What do I know of raccoons? Are they vicious? Will it attack if startled? Should I slow down or speed up?" Seriously, this is the only think I could think of:


As soon as I passed through the area I where I thought he might still be, I picked up my pace and remained especially on guard. So when I passed the six inch turtle that I thought was a rock until he pulled his head into his shell, I nearly lost it. The turtle startled me enough to take a breather and think ahead to future runs (and alternative locations). 

Monday, May 13, 2013

I need a desk outside

I find that I feel mentally at my best when I trail run. I think it might be my body shifting into survival mode. Or maybe it is just my paranoias that become more vivid (I am always mindful of the fast zombies that seemingly pop out of nowhere anytime somebody is in the woods during "The Walking Dead"). Either way, my senses sharpen and my thoughts quicken. I have to keep an eye on the path in front of my and what is upcoming. I have to be mindful of my footfall and how (and where) my feet land. I have to be ready to bend or duck or leap, depending on the obstacles.

As my body finds its way through the woods, my mind feels just as agile. I think clearly and orderly about what I need to do as I step to the left to avoid poison ivy. I process through problems as I meander over the little streams. I discover "a-ha!" moments as I feel the sun filter through the leafy canopy.

The only drawback to my clear thinking during trail runs? My lack of desk space in the woods. I have nowhere to write, type, or record my moments of brilliance. Sometimes I remember to go home and write these things down. But sometimes those thoughts have to stay along the trail, entangled among the briars and vines, waiting for my next dash through the woods to pick them up and sort them out again.


PS. Today is Day 3 of my writing challenge. So far, so good.



- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, May 10, 2013

30-Day Writing Challenge

Starting tomorrow, I am joining a friend for a "30-Day Writing Challenge." The challenge is whatever you make of it- you could write for a certain amount of time every day, a page-a-day, or work towards a goal. I have many things I think I want to write about, so I opened up a suggestion post on Facebook. Some suggestions were good (I had contemplated before), some were funny, and then there is always my go-to : "Pirates. Please write about pirates." I love that my friends know me so well.

Now, you may be thinking "she never writes on here anymore, so there's an idea." I had that idea, too. I contemplated writing for my blog(s) for 30 days. I might do that. However, one of the things I realized while I have been processing my many writing-challenge-ideas is that my personal purpose(s) of the blogs have been met. Granted, one of the purposes for this blog was to keep family up-to-date with going-ons in my life. I feel a little guilty about that, especially for my long-distance family. But my need for a place to organize and post my thoughts has waned. I am not in a place where I feel like I am floundering (like I was when I was in Louisiana and much of graduate school). I still have struggles, yes, but they are entirely different in nature. I am not looking for a way to make me look busy typing like I was in grad school. I don't document trips and I don't feel like I live in a foreign country anymore. So what do I post? Better question: why do I post?

I also sense that I want to start directing my focused writing on things I would like to actually get published. Crazy, right? When I direct so much attention to keeping up my blog(s), all I am doing is diverting my energies into, well, space. "The Interwebz." I am not saying I am giving up blogging entirely. In fact, I have a feeling blogging will one day again serve as a method for me to rev my writing engines when I have mental blocks. It may also serve as a sounding board (a reading board?) for portions of my works. I'm not done, yet.

And as far as what I think I will focus on: set times and amounts of sitting and writing. I think I am going to use this time to build better focus habits. I let day-to-day happenings interfere with my intentions. If I can make time to train and workout, I can make time to write. If I want to be serious about this, I need to make the deliberate decisions that move me in that direction.

And maybe one day I'll have a novel about pirates, too.



- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New post... about running... (surprise, surprise)

Surprise!

I wrote a fairly deep and personal blog post and then disappeared for over five weeks. I know. I am slightly disappointed, too. I have just been busy.

Over the past several weeks I have considered writing many blog posts, ranging from my Vegas experiences, to how much I love Spring, to how I decided that flood water clean up was good for my bowling game (building muscle is building muscle, you know). Maybe I'll get there, maybe I won't. I still want to share about the actually getting-married-in-Vegas part, but that will be another post.

I figured I would write about... a run. Surprise-not-surprise! I am one month away from the nearly 194-mile race from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. Noooo, I am not running the whole thing by myself! I am running with eleven other teammates, each rotating legs of the race! As a matter of fact, I think I was assigned the easiest of legs. It may have something to do with my registered speed. It's like Melanie sang: I don't go too fast but I go pretty far.

This will be my first Ragnar Relay and I am super stoked. I am stoked for a number of reasons. It will be fun. I am running faster than I ever had before. I can run five and six miles and feel like it is just "a run" (long runs are starting to gain in distance... eight miles is my mental "long run" now). I can run in shorts now (a serious first)! I am running with family (my husband, sister-in-law, and good friend among others). I will be able to tell people I did it in another month and two days.

This is kind of what I look like while I am training.
Don't hate.

There is one in Tennessee that runs from Chattanooga to Nashville and I am incredibly tempted to organize a team for that race. Ask me after Ragnar Chicago. Well, maybe about a week after Ragnar Chicago when I forget about my sore muscles.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Twice Upon a Time


At the ripe ol’ age of eighteen, I met the love of my earthly life.



Some may think that five months is too short for a “proper” engagement and I only justified their judgments by being divorced two-and-a-half years later.

I don’t often share super-personal stuff here. I feel compelled to share this, however.

If you knew me over the course of the past six years or so, you likely knew my last name is my married name but that I was single. Divorce is an incredibly painful ordeal to go through and its impacts echoed through my relationships with family and friends and many of the decisions I have made over the past six years. Anger, bitterness, and hurt consistently permeated many of my thoughts, regardless of the smile on my face. Over time, those things eased, but certainly not without some abuse of alcohol and some damage to relationships. Then something just seemed to click and I realized I wasn’t so angry anymore and being jaded was wearing me out.

I read a number of stories about forgiveness and compassion. Last year, a number of those stories came from the People of the Second Chance movement. Many were from former addicts and people who made choices that hurt other people. I read one story (if memory serves correctly, it was just an Instagram picture of a guy with a caption) about a divorced husband who admitted to infidelity, apologized for the pain he caused, and then praised God for His amazing grace. Regardless of the choices that man made, he is a new creation in the eyes of a loving God. “Praise God!” I thought to myself. “What an amazing God we serve! His mercies are never-ceasing!” And yet, my own mercies were continually ceasing. God used that moment to remind me that He forgives anybody who asks, me included. My ex, too. God also reminded me (in His gentle and quiet manner designed just for me) that forgiveness does not just stop with me.

It just so happened that I had received an email that day from the man I had once married. He sent emails every holiday to let me know he thought of me (and on the day he thought was my birthday- now I get two birthdays). I generally only responded on Christmas. I was angry, remember? I didn’t want to bother with him. This particular email was not on a holiday, more or less just because he was thinking of me. I responded more or less just because. Not wanting to alarm me, he responded gently with the question “why now?”

How do you explain grace in an email? How do you explain that the grace I want to extend does not originate with me, rather it is an overflowing of my own mercies received? How do you explain that as mad as I was, I never stopped loving him? He had (years ago) sent an email with his phone number. I dialed it, prayed it was still his, and left a voicemail. As the voicemail recording instructed how to leave a message after the tone, a wave of anxiety crashed into me and I chickened out and decided not to leave my name. I left a calm, vague message (minus a phone number, counting on technology to pass along my number), thinking “well, if he doesn’t know who I am, then tough luck.” I think I also realized there was a possibility that the number was no longer his.

Three minutes later, he called back, speechless.

Over the next several months what started as a closure process turned into a rekindling process. We started dating. It sounded weird when I said it out loud “I am seeing my ex-husband” but that’s what happened. 

We’ve decided to walk down the aisle. Again. We’ve decided to commit to each other. Again. We’ve decided that, indeed, the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing and, indeed, love conquers all.

For those who follow me on this blog or any other social media means, I’ve kept this on the down-low deliberately. Maybe because I needed to sort through this without “interference” (good, bad, indifferent, everybody has got opinions about relationships and are usually willing to grant unsolicited advice). Maybe because I needed to keep this between me, my man, and the awesome God we serve. Maybe because I knew that especially in the early days, this rekindling was so fragile and I did not want to break it (again). So now I share of my plans to remarry. As a matter of fact, we will be remarrying in Las Vegas (for those of you who know me, you know that this has always been my dream) on April 1st (for those of you who know us, you know we have a quirky sense of humor). I will delight in changing my Facebook status on April Fools Day to “married” only to confuse some and startle the rest.

Lest it be forgotten amongst my seemingly light approach (sharing this type of news on a blog) or festivities (Viva Las Vegas) or celebrations (it is still a wedding, regardless how you look at it!): I am serious about this relationship and love my former-and-future husband more than words can express. I am thankful for second chances and understand the rarity of this situation, treasuring this gift. I know we will face difficulties, but thankfully, compassion, forgiveness, and love are our allies. I appreciate the support that I have received from family and close friends AND the support I know I will continue to receive in our future.

Life’s short. Now go out and give somebody a hug. Just because. 



*P.S. I am still not announcing this anywhere else until Monday, so if you are only just finding out now by reading this here... shhhhh....
**P.P.S. Don't think we didn't think about the redemption aspect of this Easter weekend. 

Tornado Anniversary (Sort Of)

Two days ago, I drove up from Atlanta. I wore my running clothes so I could stop somewhere between the ATL and Nashville (through the prettiest country from Georgia to Tennessee) to go for a run. Initially, I stopped at Kennessaw Mountain (excuse me, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park). Being the largest contiguous green space in the metropolitan Atlanta area, it is a local runner's mecca (awesome trails and lots of hill work). But I had forgot my jacket and it was a breezy 31 degrees and ain' nobody got time for that. So I worked my way north. I contemplated stopping in Chattanooga. Ultimately, I stopped at my old stomping grounds, Stones River National Battlefield. I love to run there. I know the trails, am familiar with every curve and bend of the paths.

As I tromped my way around the park, I saw this.

And it reminded me of the tornado that hit Murfreesboro almost four years ago. Four years! In one way, it hit four years ago today, Good Friday. But since Good Friday hops around the calendar, the "official" anniversary is April 10th. That tornado impacted my life (in many ways). Obviously, its impacts still remain on the landscape, too.

It proved to be a good run, nearly 5 miles of soft trails and sunshine.

Friday, March 22, 2013

happy birthday to me!

I am a few days late, but have had a busy few days. Usually, I use my "birthday post" to write a letter to myself. Actually, I usually journal a letter to myself every year on my birthday (I have done that since I was sixteen). It is almost in lieu of new year resolutions. That day separated every year by a whole 365 days allows me a chance to think about my life a little broader than the day-to-day.

This year, however, I forgot to do that (on my actual birthday, that is). I will do it some time this week, but the day itself played out a little differently. Instead of waking up to cupcakes, I woke up to a high-protein breakfast that included eggs, bacon, and broccoli. Yes, broccoli for breakfast (I figured as the day progressed I'd find reasons to exclude eating anything green so I might as well fit it in). I then tied on my new pair of running shoes and deliberated where I should go. Did I want to drive to the battlefield (a twenty minute drive) where I knew I would run a longer distance or just stay in Cumberland City where I don't like the view as much (but it is closer). As I was mentally warming up what my route should look like, it dawned on me:

Crosses Creek National Wildlife Refuge opened last week!!! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, gravel trails that run along the Cumberland River, how I have missed you! What an excellent birthday present!

Even better than finding an awesome birthday present was finding my running "zone." About two miles into the run, I hit this bizarre zen-like mental state in which my body moved comfortably and my breathing felt perfect and I sensed my form was good and and I was in a zone. The temperature was my favorite (55 degrees) and the sun smiled down on the trail. A few times I had to leap over mini-streams and muddy spots that crossed the road. The day was perfect, the run was perfect.

It was probably the broccoli that empowered me. More broccoli for breakfast.

I talk about enjoying running a lot on here, but I definitely don't always love every minute of it. I often have to force myself out the door and convince myself "just a little bit more" when I get tired. It isn't always easy and the days aren't always sunny. But thirty difficult runs make up for the one "perfect run." And now that my favorite course has re-opened, I sense I will have more days of better running. Or at least a more positive outlook when I start my runs.

For one birthday reflection-slash-present-to-myself, I decided that I want to train for a full marathon. Not only that, but I want to run those 26.2 miles at a Boston marathon-qualifying pace (right now, this year for my age group that time is completion in 3 hours and 35 minutes... that's 8-minute miles). And I want to do that by the time I turn thirty. Good news! Over the past few months I have been thinking I already turned 28 and would be turning 29 this year (because something short-circuited in my brain, evidently). It turns out I actually just turned 28 and will have a solid two years to train and run and meet that goal so when I write my "happy birthday to me" letter on my 30th birthday, I will be able to include a pretty solid accomplishment in my letter.

And now you know. And can even help keep me accountable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

have dirt, will garden

I sing "It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the yeeeeear" a lot. I consider many times throughout the year "the most wonderful." This time, it is dirt season.

By winter's end, I get an itch. I need dirt! Under my fingernails and streaked across my work clothes! All winter, I read about gardens, looking up various plants, plotting what might grow where. I fall asleep reading gardening magazines and dream about fresh tomatoes. This past winter was no different. Elation followed the arrival of seed packets while sunny days triggered vast amounts of anticipation! And then it happened: it was time to start some seeds.

Inside, I started several seeds that will be planted outside mid-April. Outside, I started several leafy varieties that like colder weather (spinach, kale, lettuce, other assorted rabbit foods). Yum! Now I have little seedlings inside (and I think I saw a sprout outside yesterday). My babies are growing! I water them, and turn the light on for them, and talk to them provide them with vast amounts of CO2.

I am fortunate that my parents have their "farm" where I can roam around and play in the dirt. I recently moved to Nashville and live in an apartment, but am close enough to the farm that I can trek back and tend to the bigger garden often. I also have several seedlings started to take back as potted plants in order to maintain a mini-garden at my Nashville apartment. Mmm, fresh-from-your-backyard-produce! I can't wait.

Rabbit food identified with popsicle sticks.

Rows! Glorious rows!

My favorite feeling- dirt under the fingernails and mud on my pants.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

intentions

You know, all day long I had this window open, intending to write a post. This morning I thought about intentions and realized all the many intentions I had this week that I did not accomplish. So I thought of next week's intentions and realized I needed more deliberations instead of intentions. Rather than intending to do something, I need to discipline myself to deliberately accomplish something. I thought about it all day, in fact. All day, I intended to write about the difference in the two and now here it is, 11PM and I am just now writing. But those original ideas have been overshadowed.

I am just now writing, thinking of my biggest intention this week. It is still sitting on my nightstand. I propped it on there to remind myself when I turned on my light in the morning to find a stamp (I have a book of them sitting by my keyboard on my desk) and put it in the mail. The envelope is even addressed! But now it is too late.

Earlier this week, my sister called to tell me that the health of her mother-in-law (the mom of my [awesomest-brother-in-law [ever] so I suppose that makes her the [awesomest] mother-in-law [ever], too) was deteriorating and Hospice had been called in. The week before I had a short visit with Hope.  She, like always, smiled and asked how I was doing and congratulated me on things going so well in my life. She shared some encouraging stories. Even through her own exhaustion, pain, and struggles, she made me feel light and warm when I left her. So last week, when I heard about how her condition turned quickly, I wrote out a thank you card to her.

I had the intention of mailing it all week. Now it leans against my lamp. Unopened.

It is difficult to describe the combination of heartache and relief when I found out this evening that Hope's suffering was now over. She's been called Home! She rests in peace with Jesus! I am confident I will see her again one day! But that doesn't stop the grief.

I want to end with something uplifting. I want to share the fond memories I have of the high-energy woman who was always willing to share. And I will do that one day. But now, in this moment, I think of her husband and how he had lost the love of his life and grieve. I think of her sons and how they've lost their mother and grieve. I think of her parents and how they've lost their daughter and grieve. I thank God that He provided an amazing extension of a family to me. But gratitude doesn't remove the heaviness on my heart as I listen to the rain outside that sounds like how I feel inside.


Hope, thank you for your service and attitude and your smiles and your encouragement while you were here. You will be missed by many.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Here I Go

Because of my schedule last week (and then being hit by a cold these past few days), I haven't run in nine days. I need to get out there, but it is currently 32 degrees outside. And I am comfortable in my sweatshirt and slippers. So starts the battle:

Get out there!

But it's cold!

That's what hats and mittens are for!

It has been so long and the first day back is so hard!

You have to start back up somewhere!

What's another day? 

Don't be a wimp!

Wimps don't get enough credit in life!

You'll be fine once you hit the pavement.

I like it inside.

Go get that blood pumping!

Ugh.

I feel 95% better, but still wheeze a little when I breathe. So I plan to take it easy today. I know if I go out there and move it move it, I will feel better. It is just working up the motivation to put on my running shoes that seems to be the tricky part today.

Here I go.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The world is not out to get you, Sir.

Well, it happened. An army of gross germs invaded my immune system, weakening it significantly. I have been wearing a bowling ball for a head these past three days, wheezing through a tight chest and stuffy nose. Today was the first day I had a chance to rest in over a week and I am beginning to feel better. Oh, the wonders of a nap and a sea of hot tea!

I picked up a temporary gig, working at the Tennessee State Museum for the "Discovering the Civil War" exhibit this past week. The National Archives loaned the Emancipation Proclamation to the museum for the week and we expected to see between 22,000 and 25,000 people. Over 30,000 came through. I worked the ticket desk, handing out tickets. Some tickets were reserved in advanced (that guaranteed visitors a chance to see it at their selected time) and some tickets were available on a first-come-first-serve basis (some folks had to wait several hours before their ticket time). Folks may have had to wait, but everybody would get a chance to see it. The skill set I refined while working at Walt Disney World came in handy while working the ticket desk. I said the following (with slight variations) easily over 2,000 times over a seven-day period:

"Howdy! What time is your reservation? What's the last name? Four tickets? Please sign here that you have received your tickets. The whole exhibit is downstairs, so take these tickets, go around the corner, down the stairs, and to the left. You'll see the exhibit and where to line up; you'll be allowed to line up about ten minutes prior to your ticket time. May I help who is next in line?"

And yes, the bathrooms are on this floor, down the hall behind you.

I kept a smile on my face EVEN when the gentleman wearing overalls and a denim overshirt accused me of deliberately making it difficult for handicapped folks to access the building (newsflash: I didn't). That smile beamed as the same gentleman continued that he knew that he couldn't make a reservation because all the state employees hogged all the tickets, first (newsflash: they didn't). The smile stayed through his diatribe about how his great-great-great-grandaddy was a white slave and that he knew how the government worked because he had a masters degree and don't I know anything at all (newsflash: I do). That plastered smile never faded when he told me that the government was OBVIOUSLY blocking public access to a very important document. I responded curtly (with my smile), "that's funny, because you are holding public access in your hand with those two tickets. You may take them around the corner, down the stairs, and to the left with the rest of the public who also has access to the Emancipation Proclamation. May I help who is next in line?" He walked away and the the next couple in line stepped up. They said with a grin, "our name is Smith and we have nothing else to declare beyond that." Thank you, appreciative couple. You calmed my shaking nerves quite a bit.

I want to provide the best customer service to all customers, even those who are wrongly convinced the world is out to get them. But on the seventh day of working long hours (and driving 2.5 hours roundtrip most of those days), I can only be pushed so far before my snarky filter loses its defenses. It turns out I was not the only museum staff member the overall-clad gentleman harassed last night so I don't feel so bad.

Oh, and I was able to see the document three times, NOT because I worked for the state. Rather, I was allowed to slip through the line between rowdy school groups on my first day so I could see how the line/exhibit was presented. I had made reservations on Friday afternoon so I could see it with my mom. I also got to walk through one last time last night before the representative from the National Archives had to get to work preparing the document for travel (it gets its own airplane seat). I am still tired, but it was well worth the work.

Monday, February 11, 2013

February 11th

When I looked at my phone to turn off my alarm this morning, I realized that today is February 11th. To my knowledge, there is nothing particularly significant about the date (other than Thomas Edison's birthday and the anniversary of Julia Child's show airing). Rather, the lateness of the date struck me. It smacked me around a little before shaking me like a Polaroid picture.

Dang! I thought. Five and a half weeks into a new year!

 I am not complaining. In fact, I had intentions of writing on January 31st about how excellent January turned out. Then February 1st to comment on January and express excitement about February. Here I am, eleven days later. I meant to post more but life picked me up and carried me away.

So today, on this eleventh day of the second month of 2013, I will write a little. I will make note that January was a fine month. I will announce that the first eleven days of February went pretty well, too (my father left for Afghanistan last week and that is a huge bummer- but every day he is there is one day closer to his return and retirement). I will proclaim that I intend to make the rest of February's days outstanding, as well.

I continue to work on my many "projects." The historic tour of Nashville business continues to grow and new possibilities keep popping up. I am developing short historical productions for a local television channel. I have a temporary gig at the Tennessee State Museum next week, working as a bouncer crowd control for the Emancipation Proclamation exhibit. I am moving to Nashville next month. I have been helping my mom finish quilts (and can't express how much I love creative expressions in tangible forms like quilting or crocheting). I have been doing yard work as the weather permits. I have been running. I love running. I even read three books in the past two weeks- three books! Fiction ones! I haven't plowed through that much literature since my immediate post-graduation phase over a year-and-a-half ago.

I keep taking my days one day at a time, like I did when I was in Louisiana. Instead of dreading each day as I roll out of bed, however, I want to get up and press forward. Instead of counting down days to an unsure future, I power through those days. My future is still unsure, but I look forward to it. Who knows what the twelfth of February might bring!

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's a Twista

When I was a kid, one of my very favorite movies was Wizard of Oz. It was so much my favorite that I probably watched it once a day every day for a solid two and a half years of my life (ask my parents). I had the dolls, I knew all the words and dance moves, I made my siblings act out scenes from the film with me. In third grade, I got to be an extra for a contemporary remake of the story put on by the local university (I was a tornado cloud, a munchkin, and a guard for the witch).

Because I was (and still am) a stubborn child, I always insisted that the first portion of the film (the black and white scenes) was broken. I had to be reminded that no, it was not broken, that the black and white was by design. I'd watch the film, singing along with Dorothy, laughing at the scarecrow, yelling "sneeze them" when the wicked witch yelled "seize them," and cowering from the flying monkeys. We'd rewind the tape, pop it in again the next day, I'd forget about the colorless intro and insist that the first portion of the film was broken. Without fail.

Nobody tells five-year-olds that the "twista" that hits and moves Dorothy's house from the black and white to the colorful is actually a terrifying weather incident that strikes randomly and powerfully. Tornadoes used to not bother me at all. One stint in Texas, I remember seeing a funnel cloud on the horizon and felt more awe than fear. Then I lived through a tornado. Now the only awe comes from fear. The other night heavy storms woke me up in the middle of the night. Considering my bedroom's location in a basement (along a wall that is surrounded by a hill), I was in probably the safest location possible if a tornado were to touch down. It was just rain and wind. Even with the understanding of my safety and the thought that it was not a tornado, the dread still crept in, weighing down that pit in my stomach. I eventually drifted back to sleep, holding on to positive images (like the Lollipop Gang).

I love living in this state. I just forget about the terror brought on by tornado threats until they happen. Just like I'd forget and insist that tape was broken. Twistas won't bother me until the warnings sound and then I remember. Without fail.

Friday, January 11, 2013

long runs

I forgot what it felt like to complete a longer run. I forgot about the sweaty toes and damp shoes and the peeling off of socks. I forgot about the soaked bandana that kept the moisture from dripping into my eyes. I forgot how even the deepest breaths don't seem to suffice, that my lungs crave more oxygen. I forgot how my legs want to keep moving after running for that long.

And I love every minute of it.

Maybe it is the endorphins, maybe it is that so-called "runner's high," but I can't help it. It is a form of addiction. The addiction isn't just the run itself, nor the various feelings associated with the run. It is the "I can do better today." It is the "oh, yeah, hill? you think you can beat me? watch this." It each how each minor improvement can be recorded as a major success because I am that much closer to my goal.

I haven't trained for a long run in nearly a year. Now with the Oak Barrel Half coming up in April, I have been gearing up with my serious training, kickin' some booty. I am considering that half marathon as a part of my training for the Ragnar Relay in June (from Madison, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois). I wanted to run in a Ragnar Relay for years and this will be my first time. I am stoked and minorly terrified all at the same time (mostly because of the team aspect... it is one thing to let myself down, another to let a team down).

I keep pushing one day at a time.

Bring it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adventures with Zeke (a photojournal)

Yesterday, I was feeling good upon coming back from a run in 60-degree and sunny weather. You can almost say I was feeling like a rockstar. I had only been away from the house for an hour or so. To most, an hour is nothing, a short unit of time marked by the ticking of 60 minutes. Based on the pitiful wailing of my parents' 9-month old dog, it was clearly closer to an eternity. I felt a little guilty, so I showered and decided to treat the dog with a trip to PetSmart.

 I could harness the dog, but not his energy. The little dude was stoked.
 
Look at those blue and red letters! The store actually invites animals to visit! It's like Disneyland for dogs!
 
 It is especially a fun place when you are cute and everybody wants to pet you.
 
 It is an especially fun place when there are toys nearly at your level.

Upon leaving the happiest place [for dogs] on Earth, I saw the sky and couldn't resist enjoying the last few minutes of the day. So we stopped for an extra walk.

 Pure elation as we walked around a pond at the local city park!

 
 There was nothing left to do than to letting that little sleeping dog lie after his adventure-filled day.