September 17, 2014

Oh, I have been bad at keeping up with my writing. 

Summer ended, a new year began, and it may be simultaneously the greatest and hardest year I've ever had. So much is changing- and I know I've written before that it would be like this- and it's throwing me out of my comfort zone, but there is still so much about my life that's incredible. 


This past weekend? Me and eleven of my friends- some old, some new- ran Reach the Beach together.












Reach the Beach is a 208-mile relay race from Franconia to Hampton Beach. On a twelve person team, each runner will run three legs of the race. Teams travel in vans to shuttle runners to their starting lines; the first six runners are in one van, the second six in the other. While one van's runners are on the course, the runners in the other van can eat, sleep, and whatever until they have to be ready to take over (so this involves lots of cell phone coordination and a good GPS). 

My van- Van 2- was me, Boston, Tiny, Sunshine, Sunshine's mom, and Tiny's friend Mike. Basically? It was epic. I was a little unsure how Boston would take my north country friends; he met them briefly when Sunshine and Tiny got married, but a wedding's no place to really get to know someone. Riding in a van for over 24 hours, though? That will do it. 


Fortunately, it was awesome. Everyone got along, and we had a heck of a time when we weren't running. We all had to get up early for the start of the race, and then- since we were the "off" van first- we were able to have breakfast together. Afterwards, we went to our transition zone- where our van would take over the race- and had to find a way to kill time. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so we had no problem lounging in the sunshine. But we also discovered a version of Cards Against Humanity that we could play on our phones. Yes, we are all horrible, horrible people. But it was funny.


And then our van was up! I was the 11th runner, so I still didn't run for another couple hours. Instead, I cheered my teammates on and handled the navigation between transitions. I finally took the baton (which is actually a snap bracelet) midway through the afternoon and ran 4.8 miles to White Lake State Park, which was a fantastic bit to run. 

My second leg was less fun: 8.8 miles at around 5:00AM. I ran from a parking lot in Pitsfield down Rt 28 to Webster Park. It was gorgeous because the sky was full of stars, and there were a lot of other runners on the route (the faster teams start in later waves and catch up around that point), and nearly all of them wished me a good morning and commented on how perfect it was to be out there. I was making my merry way through the mileage, but at around 5.5 I just bonked. I've never felt my blood sugar drop the way it did then. I sent a quick text to my teammates because I knew they'd parked the van at mile six and I wanted them to get me Gatorade. They also got me candy the Lindt Chocolate team had given us earlier. Seriously, it was like the candy of life right then. It was enough to get me through the rest of the run. I think what I said once I'd handed the baton off to Sunshine was, "Oh my God, that was ASS!" That got lots of laughs. So true, though.

I got about an hour of sleep the next time our van camped out- at Sanborn High School- and then I went out to cheer on all the runners coming through. I wasn't expecting to see my buddy Josh there as a spectator. Now, Josh is the real deal- a sponsored like woah mountain runner with a world championship medal- but before he was any of that, he was the goofy guy on my high school track team who forever encouraged me to keep running, so it was awesome to see him while I was in the middle of a ridiculous race. I hollered his name and he came over to hug me, despite the fact that I was gross at that point. He happens to be a fantastic hugger.

Anyways. I threw down as best I could in my final leg, which was 3.4 miles through North Hampton. It was all cute and residential, and smelling of autumn leaves already. I loved it. I passed the baton to Sunshine for the last time, and then we all hurried to the van so we'd be able to meet him on the beach and run the final stretch with him. That part was awesome: all twelve of us crossed the line cheering while the hype man announced who we were. 

It wasn't a very beachy day at that point- too cold, too windy- so we didn't stick around long. Another day, we'd have stayed and enjoyed the after party. Instead, we parted ways. Boston left first because his parents came up to drive him back to the city, and then the runners in Van 1 started to trickle away. The rest of us went to Texas Roadhouse- so awful, so delicious- and then made the long trek back north. I stayed over at Sunshine and Tiny's house rather than trying to drive back to mine on no sleep. 

The next morning, the three of us, plus Mike and his wife, met for breakfast. The thing about running a long race is that you burn so many calories that you're hungry for days afterwards. So breakfast was huge, heh. And then Mike invited us over to his folks' place for football, chili, and a hot tub. How would anyone say no to that? So I hung out in the north country a while longer, and man... It was awesome. Good times, good people, you know? 

Both my parents tried to call me as I was driving home- and, hellooooo, post-divorce awkward!- so I got to tell them each separately about how the race went. I'll probably see my dad in a couple of weeks because there's a race in the old hometown for Benny. More on that in another entry. 

I caught up on my sleep, drove into work on Monday morning... and, y'know, it was perfect. Sunshine, almost-autumn air, turkeys in the road. It's Homecoming Week, too, at my beautiful school in the mountains, and there's so much joy. There are challenges, too, but I'll save those for another entry. I just keep thinking to myself I want more of these days. 

August 26, 2014

So I went back to work today.

Most awesome thing? SENSEI IS BACK!!!!! After two years of teaching in other district, my friend and fellow troublemaker has returned. And there is rejoicing throughout the kingdom.

We joined our people in the back rows of the auditorium for the district-wide welcome back, which is how in-service starts every year. It's all about introducing new faculty members, going over the vision and goals for the year, and generally trying to get everyone excited and inspired. I'm excited and inspired anyway- I love doing what I do- but a bit of outside energy is always nice.

I had another quick meeting after that, and then went to check in with my new department head, which was such a trip- if only because my former department head was such an influence on me as a teacher. But B, the new one, has been a colleague since my first year, too, and he's at least witnessed me evolution. We got to talking about how long it's been since I first arrived. It went by fast, but SO MUCH has happened. I think about being just out of college, barely twenty-two, totally overwhelmed. And, of course, Sibling was in Iraq, too, and we went through all of that...

Anyways. My third meeting was a bit tense- and I won't get into it- so I just kept quiet and got through it. It's too bad it had to be like that, but it wasn't going to bring me down; there are so many things to do that my brain is too cluttered to have any space for negativity. So I got out of the meeting and went to rejoin Sensei because I'd promised I'd help him decorate his room.

It's a running joke between us- and many of our other colleagues- that I don't actually do my work (it happens by magic), so it was pretty funny when I pointed out that my room was 90% set-up at the end of the day, despite the fact that I spent most of my time helping him.

I win.

Oh, and I ran a two-mile cross country race tonight. Too bad I didn't check the expiration date on my inhaler first. Whoops. Luckily, Kevin grabbed the non-expired spare out of my bag for me so I could regain my ability to breathe normally when I finished. So... not a good race, but it's a fun event: the local running club scrimmages against the high school team and a neighboring team, winners' trophy is a giant bowl of candy, and everyone brings food for a picnic sort of dinner afterwards. I ate my fill of subway sandwiches, brownies, and- to my utter delight- cider donuts.

Pretty decent day, I think.

August 23, 2014

Summer is all but over. The temperature is going to go back up next week, but it won't stop the nights from being cold, and it won't keep me from going to work on Tuesday. 

So what have I done since I got home from Florida?

Wrapped a summer of trail racing. I came in second in my age group in the series, which sounds more impressive than it really is, but it was a lot of fun. My buddy Jim randomly took a picture of the two of us near the finish line, didn't say a word about it, and I'm still curious where that'll end up. I mean, I'm sure I looked my post-5k best... 

What else did I do? I went on a date. A guy I'd been talking to on Match asked me out to lunch, and I accepted, and... Okay, first? Yes, I have an account on Match; I caved to societal pressure. And, yes, it can be horrid. But this guy was nice. He was also better-looking in person, which is not the norm, I don't think. That doesn't mean the lead-up wasn't wretched. It totally was. I mean, in addition to the amount of shyness and awkwardness I have to deal with, it's always stressful to go meet a total stranger and just, like, hope it goes well. 

What would I have done if it hadn't gone well? I don't even know. 

But, like I said, he was nice and we got along well enough, made enough conversation to last a couple hours. He had good manners, too (we know this is key), but I don't think there was a real connection there. I dunno.

Moving on from that, I also went to a couple parties my friends were hosting- one big one and one small one- and those were fun. Music, food, kickass people... all the good stuff. At the big party I ran into a guy I'd met once a few years back. He didn't remember me, at first, but I reminded him who I was and then it was all good. He's a super cool dude, so it was fun renewing that acquaintance. 

And now I'm just... winding down. Wrapping up the books I'm reading and the writing I'm doing, getting my fill of watching sports on TV (did you all SEE that crazy Everton-Arsenal match today?!?!), and trying not to spend what little money I have left in my bank account.

More seriously, I've been thinking about what I'll say to my students when they walk into my class room for the first time. I teach about current affairs. I never have a shortage of things to say. But finding the words for this summer... Well. I'm still working on that, and probably will be until the first bell rings on the first day. 

August 10, 2014

Whew! I have had some adventures.

Miami was ridiculous. We spent most of our time by the pool at Boston's uncle's house or down at the beach, so I'm a couple shades less pale now and my hair is VERY blonde. It was fantastically relaxing. Like, on Saturday? I spent the day in shorts and a bathing suit, only showered and got dressed for dinner.

Dinner was amazing. Let's start with the fact that the place that Boston's uncle took us had valet parking and a dock (in case you were coming by boat). Valet parking does not exist in my world, nor do half the cars that were in that parking lot. Holy crap.

It rained the next day, so we went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy. More firsts: movie theaters where you can order food (I had a milkshake and a bunch of Junior Mints just because I'd told Boston, who does not eat candy, that Junior Mints were amazing... God, I'm such a child...), and 3D. Legit, I'd never seen a movie in 3D before. Sad but true. So that was pretty cool.

It was still raining on Monday, but thankfully it stopped before the match started. Boston and I walked around the stadium to wait it out and that was fine. We took our (twelfth row corner) seats in time to see the teams- Liverpool and Manchester United- warm up and all. Neither one is my team, but it's all good. It was still a great game of footie, which United ended up winning. Methinks they're going to storm through their season- or at least the first part of it- because they're hungry.






















Funny thing? All the Madridistas in attendance with jerseys, scarves, flags, and all. We ran into a few chanting drunkenly on our way out. I joined the chants, of course. As if I wouldn't.

Anyways. We had to leave the next day, which was a source of some stress because our taxi took FOREVER to get to the house. Boston had to call, like, four times. I was afraid I'd miss my flight- it was twenty minutes before his- but I ran once we got to the airport and it turned out to be fine.

I had to connect through JFK, so I sat around there awhile. Got to Portland in the middle of the night, drove my long-abandoned car home from there. About five hours of sleep later, I had to get up, clean the apartment, get the groceries, and make myself presentable because my mom and her boyfriend came up for a visit.

We had a nice few days; I always love to see them, of course, and it's fun being a tourist in my town. We went out to eat with Jess and Kevin- 'cause my mom adores them and wanted to meet their son- one night,  and on our own the others. We also went shopping, and spent a day at the river with a picnic lunch. All of it was great. My mom still gets a kick out of the fact that we see my students everywhere, which is entertaining for me.

I think I'm just about ready to get back to them, back to work... It's going to be a really different year. I think I've said that before. We're going to have a lot of new people. I suppose it's got my curiosity piqued.

Which isn't to say I'm not going to enjoy the few weeks of summer I have left. I totally am.

August 1, 2014

Greetings from a northbound train! I've been in New York City for the past couple days, and now I'm headed to Boston to meet, well, Boston, for the second part of my adventure.

It all centers around soccer. 

Manchester City played Liverpool in an ICC match at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Steph and I went, and promptly made friends with other supporters, and it was awesome. It's a surprisingly good venue, given that it's a baseball stadium, and our seats were AMAZING. Like, I knew when I got the tickets that they were fifth row, between corner and goal, but I had no true sense how close that would put us to the action. Everything was RIGHT THERE. 

Lookie:

























A few of the players waved to the supporters, or applauded to thank them. And Joe Hart (the keeper, to those of you who don't know such things) high-fived a bunch of kids as he went to retrieve a ball that had gone out of play. That was adorable. 

City ended up losing on PKs, but it was a heck of an exciting game- a 2-2 draw at full time- on an absolutely beautiful night. I can't really moan about it too much. 

The subway ride home was packed and disgusting, but at least we were squished in with a few other City supporters. I struck up a conversation, to Steph's amusement, I think; she's used to the fact that I'm shy and don't talk to people, but when it's about soccer? I will talk to anyone. And, as it happens, the guy I was talking to was cute. Bonus. 

Aside from that, I just did a bit of wandering around the city. Steph and Dereck had to work, of course, so I was left to my own touristy devices. I admit, also, to sacking out on their couch and watching TV for an entire morning. It's funny that being alone in an apartment in NYC feels different than being alone in my own apartment; the fact that there are tens of thousands of other people around, even if I can't see them, is just ever-present, like a buzzing under my skin. I know that sounds weird, but I can't explain it any better than that. 

But yeah. Couch, TV, touristy wanderings. And we all got together for dinner last night at this awesome little Mexican restaurant. Guacamole and chips, lots of tacos, soooooo delicious. I was a fan.

There will be more soccer for me on Monday, albeit in a different location; Boston and I have tickets for the ICC final in Miami. So, yeah, I'm going north to head south right now, but that's all right. I don't mind a little train ride. 

More about my adventures later!

July 26, 2014

Grr. Angsty, sports-related feels. 

Real lost. The Revs lost. I don't have words for Ferrari (actually, I have plenty of them in plenty of languages, but they're not very nice).  And Jimmy Vicaut in glasses is a life-ruiner.

Source: Tumblr





















LIFE. RUINER.

Anyways.

I'm getting out of town in a few days and the anticipation is killing me. I just want to go. I need a change of scene, and I want to see my friends, so... urgh. Tuesday, just hurry up and get here, yeah?

And once I get back, I'm cool with summer ending. Seriously.

I'll probably think differently when my alarm goes off on the first day of in-service, but after that I'll be good. There are things I just want to get over with, and things I want to happen because I'm looking forward to them, so the start of the year is already on my mind. May as well get to it.

That might just be some tangental effect of me going stir-crazy, though.

Meh.

July 25, 2014




IT'S CHRISTMAS IN JULY!!!!

I think this is a generational thing. If you're of a certain age, you remember that Cartoon Network would marathon all the classic Christmas cartoons and encourage people to celebrate this totally made-up, festive season. As it was summer break, and you were bored- especially if you were home from college, rather than vacationing from high school- it seemed like fun.

I can remember my mother coming home one year to find Sibling and I sitting on the floor, eating leftover candy canes we'd found in her kitchen, and watching The Grinch. I think we were nineteen and twenty at the time, so, naturally, she asked us if we'd regressed while she'd been at the grocery store. We both answered, "No, Mom, it's Christmas" as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, and then burst out laughing. That was good fun.

This year, I left the traditional observances- like the playing of N'sync carols- till later in the day. I was hanging out with Sensei this morning, and then we did lunch, and then I flitted around my apartment in an attempt to be productive. But, in the end, the traditions were observed.

So there's only one way to end this, really: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

July 24, 2014

My week has mostly been about Casey the Car failing inspection.

I knew it was going to fail; I just knew. I wasn't thinking that I'd worn the tread off my tires, but, y'know, apparently that happened. And the exhaust was... well, something was wrong with it. This is the point where I wish I understood more about cars instead of rocking the blonde girl stereotype. 

Anyways. Casey failed inspection, and I was inordinately pissed off about that because I have an unhealthy relationship with my car. The reality is something like this:



But in my head it's more like this:














The skewed mental image does not carry over to driving, however. I know I don't drive like Kimi Raikkonen unless I'm crashing. 

But I digress. I know I should've traded Casey in years ago, but we've had too many good adventures together. Also, car payment and higher insurance rates? I am too damn poor for that nonsense. So I had them fix whatever needed fixing so I could get that shiny inspection sticker. It took a couple days because Casey's a weird bucket of bolts, so then I didn't have a ride to pick it up when it was ready. 

So I walked across town. Whatever.

Not the smartest thing I'd ever done since I ran Trails Tuesdays the night before and basically aggravated everything in my left leg from the knee down. But, y'know, needs must. And I do have to say that my town is really pretty, so even though it was hot and gross, it was a pretty nice walk.

And now I have my car back! Lucky thing, since I'm leaving in a few days to go on an adventure. Can't walk to the airport from here. 

Is it bad that I haven't put away my clean laundry because I know I'm just going to pack a lot of it? Because that's totally the situation.

I'm also trying to figure out how to fit everything I want to take into my backpack. 

I'll let y'all know how that works out for me. 

July 15, 2014

I should write an epic poem: Things That Change In the Span of a World Cup. I mean, just focusing on the tournament itself could get me several verses, to say nothing of the world at large (and expect me to have serious things to say about the world at large when I've worked out what needs saying). And then there's my merry little life.

It's a bit different than it was a month ago, and not just because I'm older. Say that my view on a few things has shifted.

I gave my number to a guy during the group stages because he said we ought to hang out, and I thought, why not? It might be fun. I've written about this bit before- the bit where I gave him my number.

But then he didn't call.

That doesn't say much for his manners, does it?

It wasn't like I was waiting by my phone, though, because that's never going to be my style. I was out with my friends, running races, climbing mountains, and all the other things I usually do. Plus, Boston came up this past weekend, and that was a lot of fun; he climbed a mountain with me, and we did a bit of swimming and mini-golf, and had a super fun dinner with my friends. That was a belated birthday celebration. Jess even made me a cake shaped like a soccer ball.

But I digress.

I like spending time with Boston, and, of course, HIS manners are impeccable. But, you know, I used to think- and our mutual friends think- that we're very similar people, and now I realize there are some glaring ways in which we're not. The superficial stuff is all the same: we're runners, we play and watch a ton of sports, we like to travel, we're nerds for art and history. Even some of the more meaningful stuff- like an unwillingness to settle down in traditional fashion- is the same with us. But I see more and more that, in his case, that unwillingness doesn't come from a free-spirited nature, but from having no idea what he wants.

I don't know why that was so much more obvious these past couple days than it was before, but there it is. And, goodness, does it make us different. It's not going to stop us from being friends and travel buddies, of course; it's just an observation.

Speaking of the travel... I emailed Coach Peter after Germany won the World Cup because that's his team and I wanted to say I was happy for his sake. He emailed back to thank me for chatting soccer all month, and hoped I was going to enjoy the rest of my summer. I assured him I would, since I'd be traveling soon- following the ICC matches south to Miami. It struck me that it was something most people would've done a little earlier- hit the road to follow a team, a band, a whatever... The time for that is college, or shortly thereafter, isn't it?

But I guess I'm doing a lot of things on a delay: the travel, the free-spirited life, the resulting debt on my credit card, the silly flirtation with boys who never call... I didn't have the time or the inclination for it earlier- because Sibling was at war, and there wasn't much room for fun while that was happening- but now... Now I'm making up for lost time, maybe. Or maybe I'd have always done this stuff on my own time. I don't know. But it's all good.

July 9, 2014

So today is my birthday.

I'm not really celebrating until the weekend because that's when my friends who aren't teachers actually have free time, but Sunshine and Tiny took me to lunch because they're going to watch NASCAR this weekend (really). We got up to our customary banter, so that was lots of fun. And then there was the World Cup (my wish was for both teams to lose, so I suppose a scoreless draw until penalties was the closest thing I could get), and there were lots of lovely Facebook posts to read (good for the soul, that is), and even the Google Doodle got in on the well-wishing.













How fun is that?

So, yeah. I watched sports, goofed around on the Internet, and generally lazed about this afternoon. I ran a nasty 5k last night- Trails Tuesdays!- so lazing was just fine by me. The race was so humid and muddy, but so awesome, and my runner buddies all agreed that running it was a good way to say goodbye to the old year.

It was a good year. But I think I'll like this one, too.

I've spent a lot of time these past few days reflecting on things because I have a brain that doesn't shut up and that happens. But it means I've come to a few more conclusions than the fact that I enjoyed this past year of my life. I've generally enjoyed the whole journey, bumps and all, because I'm in a really awesome place right now. I can't articulate how it feels to know that- because, I mean, everyone has times when they question the path they're on, no matter how happy they are, and I've written before about the pressure I've sometimes felt to make choices other than the ones I've made- so I just love how... solid... I feel right now.

I've been learning, too. I was at my dad's last weekend, and that did end up being good because it's easier to go back now, and I got to see Sibling and his family, and the effort my dad put into throwing a birthday celebration for me was so unexpected. It reminded me that I have a father who would give me the world, and it's all right if he doesn't always know how; he still tries.

I haven't been nearly grateful enough for that. So that's something to improve upon in this next year of my life.

I think that's my goal, in general, with each passing year: improve. Become a better version of me. As long as I'm doing that, it's going to keep being good.