Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Entry On My Sister

I wanted to originally title this something much more hokey, akin to “Running With My Sister”, but an image of a mentally unwell Rosie O’Donnell came to mind. So scrap that, work with something else, I suppose.

At this point, with little running under my legs as I frantically conclude the spring quarter, juggle work and side projects that keep my sanity alive, my own Solider Field 10 Miler is really of little interest.  I would probably contemplate not running if it wasn’t for one thing:

I am an amazing gift-giver.

It’s true. When it comes to Christmas, I go straight for the jugular and bloody nail it. Maybe it’s an evolved response to far too many pair of socks as gifts (which is totally different than giving someone a gross (144 pairs) of white socks for a secondary gift. That was just entertaining. And practical.) but I like giving gifts with meaning. 

So this past Christmas, I gave my younger sister Nadia (you will hear me and my family refer to her as "Nadj" most often than not) the gift of a race entry to this weekend’s 10 miler. And while some things could easily be stated as “easier” for the sibling who still lives at home a year removed from finishing her undergraduate education (funny, I recall being charged rent after three months), clothing washed and meals cooked for her, she has battled a crazy schedule herself with one class running until 11 at night (I still didn’t think a class running that late was legal, let alone ethical. Shame, College of DuPage!)

And she has trained, and she will come downtown tomorrow evening and see what big dorks my city folks and I are until the conclusion of the race outside of the field Saturday morning. 

I’m excited for a few reasons. First and foremost, my family is pretty good at claiming they will come downtown and visit or do something but back out at the last minute fairly frequently.  So for her to follow through, pretty big. 

Secondly, and hey—a running-related (intended pun) facet of this blog!—it will be nice running with her for the first time since high school.

 Cross Country, Fall 2001. Though not totally obvious, I am wearing the greatest shoes ever created, the 2000 Nike Pegasus. It's probably the reason for my crooked grin. Oh my god, I love(d) that shoe.

She a freshman, I a senior. Always much more muscularly bound than I ever was, she was a strength-based runner and I always felt that she had all the tools to be faster than me, running a faster 800 time than I ever did in my first year running track in high school. 

 Between the photo above (taken late August/early September) and this (February/March), my hair went from that strawberry blonde/orange to bleached to pink to kinda gray to brown to blonde. I dont know how my hair didn't surrender and leave my scalp. Probably because of my sweet Pegasus Trail shoes in this photo. I had some excellent snow runs that winter in those shoes. 
Seriously, it all went downhill after the 2000 model was F'd with.
It is nice that we equally pale each other out.

Whereas I put all my proverbial eggs into one running basket, she liked other things, placing mental interest and exertion in music, sciences and that variety eventually granted her entrance into  the school where Tom Crean works (just a game note for an anonymous commenter, ‘tis all.) . She returned back to the suburbs to prepare for another go at graduate school this fall, entertaining herself with learning how to draw blood in the process. 

 Snarling is an artform. Not sure why I look so evil. I ran a great 2 mile that day.

Whereas my elder sister chose teaching and I…well, I really don’t know what I do most days, she has been focused and committed to a clinically-based field, be a coroner or a lab technician. That focus keeps her moving (don’t know how) towards her goals, be it further schooling or a job at a doctor’s office.  Or on the road, on a run. I’m in awe and proud.

Not to turn this towards me (too late), but I miss that inner drive that moves her from 5a until the end of a very late night of classes or studying.  I remember what it felt like before I started crumbling on a daily basis, and I plan on regaining it bit by bit over this summer. 

Looking forward to her arrival tomorrow.

 Why yes, my hair IS purple. But look at those guns on her, always more muscle-y.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Five Photos

Consider this a throw-away entry if you will, but as I went through my phone's photo album, I realized I rather like what miniscule photos I take. First three, very recent. Last two, timeless.

I-65 Windmills. 
Have now passed them four times in three weeks (there and back from Dayton, repeat heading down to Louisville). They are fascinatingly surreal, especially because they weren't there back when milk cost a quarter and I drove down to school all the time. 

Non twig/berry-based Eastering. 
I was completely aghast upon learning that my Mike had never, EVER dyed Easter eggs. Had to put an end to that. And I did. Thanks, plentiful IKEA glasses!

How to learn how to draw blood.
I consistently have to look up how to spell the word phlebotomy, because I can't recall any time I attempt to type out what my younger sister has spent her year gaining certification in as a means of becoming more experienced in a lab setting. For the record, she drew my blood and was better than some nurses I've had stab me as of late.

One Cat.
An oldie, but still one of my favorite photos of Quincy. So proud of his destruction, his understanding of grouping next to a small fan with the hint of color from a nearby rug, superb. 

Two Cats.
Perspective is fun to play with. And Pele looks so damn concerned he won't be fed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tied to Apron Strings

All day I have felt like I’ve had caffeine shakes when nothing of the sort entered my system. Quite unnerving, to be honest. I’m glad I decided to not go in to the office this morning. Certainly would not have felt any better as time drifted on into the afternoon.

I like the irony that I had nearly a record-number of views this afternoon on an entry asking a question that only two kind classmates ventured to answer. I knew such could transpire and to think every individual who accidently found their way to this little corner of the internet was bound to reply was nonsensical.

But I did it anyway. I put myself out there.

I feel as of late that I am surrounded by far too much cowardice, idiocy and such is attempting to seep into my pores, erode my scalp, find its way towards my bloodstream. The common individual it seems is so concerned of stepping on toes or doing anything that may offend someone that nothing is done, nothing accomplished. Such can be said in any realm: professionally, socially, whateverly.

That is not what I signed up for.

I took a risk and put myself out there, posing a question about what makes people tick on the internet, on a blog such as this. It was like sending out invitations to a birthday party and having no one show up, even though no one RSVP’d.

Knowing that some facets will remain unchangeable, it’s time to stop falling prey to the aforementioned fearful funk that surrounds me. Don’t care for it, don’t want it.  It’s time to take more risks instead of feeling perpetually vulnerable.

While I would really like to scream the current thought that has been eating away at me for months now, I can’t. Fear of some bulbous lackey eagerly passing along such information to the wrong individual in the wrong realm cuts off that option, at least for now.  See, there I go typing about work again when I keep telling myself I won’t. Shame on me.

With risk, reward. With reward, change. I hope to utilize this summer to my fullest extent and embrace the forthcoming maturation and change I want to make happen. Because it will. Fear no longer ties me down. Now if I would only go out for a run once in a while…

A Question From Convalescence

Having stockpiled a good number of sick days throughout the athletic season when they probably should have been used (working a basketball game in a cold production booth with a temperature =not fun!), I woke up with a pounding headache around 4a and decided to utilize such a day. I wish it wasn’t so bright in my place, though.

I plan to compose something a little more in-depth later, but I want to pose a question for those that read this every so often (I’m still in awe that I get views on days when I haven’t updated, and I am very thankful to have such):

As a reader of this provided rambling (or any blog), what compels you to comment on content? 

I’m interested as I know what makes me want to connect and respond to something posed on other sites, but don’t know if I want to strive to craft such myself or not.  Not that I feel like I’m doing something wrong, but just like knowing what makes creatures of the digital web tick.

Don’t feel pressured to leave anything, but I’d love to start a dialogue about such. Look forward to seeing if I have any comments post nap attempt.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Perhaps a bad move on my part, clacking away amidst the third quarter of a major Chicago sporting event. What can I say; I’ve been poorly tutored as of late. At least I know the game is going on, I suppose.

I return to my space after an extended trip to Louisville, having witnessed one of the more heartbreaking unravelings in an athletic effort I’ve seen in my tenure. Watching a pair of Flames’ softball contests at a higher level of NCAA competition might have solidified why I could never be part of a true “team” effort beyond that of a seven man (lady) cross country lineup or a relay member. It’s too hard.

The importance, depth of my trip cannot be written here. Far too personal. But at the very least, I am home and my time working events in the 10-11 season has come to a close.

Summer doesn’t start tomorrow, or so it feels. I have a few more weeks of my spring quarter remaining, instantaneously jumping into summer session. I will be taking a lone in-person course (Wednesday nights for those keeping score of my evening availability) and simultaneously taking on independent work for a small business. It’s highly exciting: I’ve been crafting a marketing model and supplemental content to create a digital presence for this entity. It would be nice to have the opportunity to do such in my 9a-5p+ life, but such is the current ebb and flow of that which is UIC Athletics.

But it will be nice to wake up and run in the morning.

I am to run the ’11 Solider Field 10 miler on Saturday. A year has past and my uncertainty about lacing up remains, just in a different format this time. School/work stress piled up in an unflattering manner. 

I’ll see how I feel when I head out in the AM (I’m hoping its raining, haven’t had a good rain run in awhile) but I’ll probably sack up and gut it out. 

…So I say with a New Belgium Ranger IPA (I heart hops) floating about the ether of my brain. Maybe I change my tune on a Monday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Inevitable Presence Of Profession

It would be very easy to blame the end of the streak on the Blogger downtime, but alas, it was good while it lasted. Last weekend worked out due to the expansive amount of downtime for me whilst on the road in Dayton. This week, not so much; all I can do is start it up again.

From Wednesday until this afternoon, I spent a good deal of time in the Loyola Softball Park press box, watching the UIC softball team win their first league championship since 2004. Such included an eight hour day on Saturday with a partially finished contest, a very cold me and at least an eventual positive outcome for the players. 

Having (initially before play was pushed back an hour) needed to arrive to the field with ample time before play resumed this morning at 10, there wasn’t much possibility for me to go on a run before trekking up to Rogers Park this morning. Sure, an excuse, but still not feeling the morning running –especially in misty drizzle.
It is very hard to fathom what my sense/ownership of time would/will be like if I transitioned into a more traditional workspace. Given that I have only been in this line of work with unpredictable hours and locales in my professional career, I don’t know how I would adjust if I were suddenly out of such. I’d like to think it would be a positive transition, but I don’t know. I often ask fellow blog creature Stockyard John what it’s like, given that he moved on to a 9-5 job not that long ago. He provides mixed thoughts.

I can’t say I feel completely devoid of a consistent schedule, especially with school at night being a constant, but the dichotomy of wanting an existence with a touch more predictability while wanting the option of variety and opportunity doesn’t really gel well. I’m all about fairness and balance. I just don’t know what it’s like in the working world.

This upcoming weekend will most likely feature a good amount of travel with time constraints, pushing me to potentially run at an odd hour, if at all. The past two days I was beyond frozen and sore (woke up this morning with very creaky legs, I’m old) and just could not motivate myself outside upon concluding my duties for the day. I wonder what it would be like if I had a bit more time to lay claim to as my own. 

I’m contemplating not toeing the line for the 10 miler. I don’t like my totally sporadic preparation, which rests solely on my shoulders. It’s odd having running fall so far down my list of priorities, especially beneath that of “school”. I still think I’m 17 years old, I suppose.

So we shall see what this week brings. Might be traveling to a locale a mere two hours away or perhaps a plane ride is in my future. Probability places the Flames in Ann Arbor, which I hear has ample locations to run. Planning is all well and good, but it would probably help if I went running at all first.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not Cool, Blogger

So after a day of maintainence issues, Blogger returns. But my last actual post, About Me, is nowhere to be found. The site claims it will come back soon, but I have less faith in the process.

Totally my fault in not saving the Word doc, but I would hate having to attempt to re-create the magic from my 80 degree apartment on Wednesday evening.

This entry comes from my phone, a ReRun fest. Or first. Damn you, autocorrect.

More later. Unless this entry ceases to exsist as well

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Canine Desires

I have very few goals in life at this point, but of those few goals I am aware of, I am very, very committed to obtaining and achieving. Tonight is a perfect occasion to address such a goal, especially as I sit here, typing away on such a gorgeous evening and am run-less on the day. 

I know I have always been an evening-based runner. It’s just the nature of my inner clock, if you will. I feel too sluggish in the morning, but regardless of the terrors and trials of the day, I can go out at night and totally dominate a run. 

That worked well out on my own in the suburbs, not so much in the city. It’s not that I would venture to locales unsavory, but it’s hard to feel safe running by ones self in an urban setting, especially when you are as delicate a flower as I am.

Enter my longing for a running companion. I’m not one to run with an iPod as I find it to be unsafe no matter the situation, and fellow humans have their own agendas. I’m looking at the four-legged variety.

While I might have a pair of felines right now, I desperately want two dogs (yes, two. A dog needs a friend) to call my own. I’ve sadly denied myself such in an effort of being a realistic responsible adult in the face of my unpredictable work schedule so as to be fair to a dog (no dog should be left alone for 10-12+ hours, my opinion. Cats are a different story. Mine can ignore me for a weekend).  I think we can all think of a friend or acquaintance who might have done such without the pet’s best interest in mind. It usually doesn’t work out (which is why shelters abutting college campuses rarely adopt out to current students).

My 2011 goal (and I proclaimed such on New Year’s) is to become the proud owner of a very happy creature who wouldn’t mind going out on a run with me when I so chose. 

I grew up with a fair number of dogs, but I only ever ran with one. Tony, a black German Shepard, was discovered at the DuPage county pound in spring 1995. She was so excited when she first met my entire family, she piddled on my black LA Gear shoes. The pair of dogs my family had from a young age until that point (I was 11 then) both died within a few days of each other, a heartbreaking story I’d rather not get into. The canine void was far too great, so my mom set out to replace them. 

Tony was about eight months old when we got her; one of her ears drooped due to a previously abusive home. She had aggression and mistrust issues with other dogs, but was a fiercely loyal and smart dog. Because of said abuse and lack of care, she had worm issues and required surgery not much longer after we got her. She dropped down to a horrendously skeletal creature, in the range of around 45 pounds. She recovered and filled out with food and good walks/playtime. The tennis ball was her toy of choice. 

In seventh grade after the conclusion of the abbreviated cross country season, no one met up after school for practice in the numerous months between October and the start of track season in the middle of spring. So I would set out after school on my own and run three miles with Tony. We had two other dogs at the time; a perpetually barking Golden Retriever named Tosca (who is still feisty at 16 years old) and a little Terrier named Tisha (who is about 13-14 and just successfully recovered from a torn ACL this past winter. What can I say: my mom is a zen master of having long-living pets).  

Neither of the other two really were runners. Tony was. She listened to commands well and was good on a leash (imperative to successful dog controlling), it was just seeing another dog that she, well…kinda got out of hand. She barked and she pulled (which isn’t the greatest thing when you are sub five feet tall with an 80 lb. dog) but generally got over it upon passing another creature that she deemed evil or a threat.

 Tony is in the foreground, a scared-looking Tisha in my arms while Tosca is in the background, plopped on elder sisters lap. My younger sister and I look eerily related in this photo.

I’d love having that sort of companion again. As my life grows more and more adult-like and property ownership looms in the near future, it would be nice to have a sense of security awaiting my return at home, and as swell as my cats are, nothing really beats the pomp and circumstance a dog brings upon seeing you after a long day away. The adoration would be appreciated. 

I think it would be nice having a more structured schedule so as to go on a stroll with a dog pre-work and then come home and run a few miles to burn off some steam at the end of the day.

 It certainly doesn’t help me that I currently live kitty corner from a dog park, either. Cruel world, have at thee.

In an ideal situation, I’d like get a puppy as my dear gent Mike was completely denied a dog growing up by his parents (I don’t understand such, I really don’t) and having the experience of puppydom is a MUST, I feel. But again, it’s all situational and if that’s ultimately not the best fit, then I am more than happy to get a more mature pooch. 

There are a ton of breeds that in said ideal world I would contemplate, but honestly I love a good mutt. All of the dogs I’ve had were not purebreds as that’s just a silly waste of money (not to mention that due to inbreeding, they are oftentimes more sickly or prone to chronic illness). Think of any of those damn Sarah McLaughlin in the background ads for the ASPCA or Mulder voicing over sob-fest spots like this:

Yeah, I want them all. And someday very soon, one will be mine. And we will be out traipsing along some well-lit sidewalk right about now.  Count on it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I Run Because Of My Mom

While yesterday was Mother’s Day, I felt very removed from the occasion.  By no means was the first time I haven’t been back at my parents for the day, but regardless, I was on the road in Dayton with softball and just felt disconnected.  I guess it just doesn’t feel like a means of celebration when you call your mom from the entry to a Penn Station (side note: goooood) prior to busing back up to Chicago. She was pleased to talk, all the same.

Given the running theme of this blog, it’s important that I broach this topic within at least a day of the holiday, regardless of how convoluted or Hallmark-driven it may be.

Plain and simple: I run because of my mom.  

I dislike how age robs us of rich memory, as the visions of going on a run with her in my youth are now very faint but still there. I recall finishing up our outings upon reaching the edge of the driveway, her in a sweatband (crap—or was that me?) by our house, and walking a few houses down and back to cool off. I must have been no older than four/five at the time.

I barely can remember this, but I do remember rounding the back of the golf course at McCollum (where the Trot was held) and things not going well. Maybe it’s because my hat was so big.
I mean really. That hat is massive.

Its part of the familial lore, the Turkey Trot tale of me and her finishing that race while my older sister presumably cheated (so its presumed as she wasn’t THAT fast at ten) her way to victory. But this isn’t about her, it’s about me, and I apparently didn’t want to continue on our running journey.  Mom offered me everything and anything so as to bribe me into completing the 5k; a trip to Europe, wealth, jewels, riches (sadly, all I can specifically recall is a trip to Burger King. Wonder if I can cash that in now…).

And we finished. 

There would be other races and travels along the way, especially a strong urging from her to be part of the cross country and track teams in both middle school and high school. There were times I wanted to stop and quit throughout time, but there was always some bad ultimatum if I actually went through with it.

“If you quit track, you’ll be getting a job at Jewel.”

So I continued on.  Throughout middle school as a tiny baby-fat filled tween/teen, an ambivalent freshman who grew into a varsity/conference/regional/all state stud at the conclusion of my high school career.

The funny thing is that I can’t recall a single race she may have missed throughout my high school career. She traveled down to state, across the suburbs; hell, she even got a ticket for driving over 100 mph trying to get down to Peoria for one of the first meets of the season (she missed my race, caught my younger sisters).  She was there with a very distinct pitch in her cheering me on, either on the sidelines or working the meet (a totally under appreciated facet of the dedicated high school parent: track meets are generally COLD).

Though, going through my treasures of the past—there was one meet she missed. First high school cross country race, the Big Cat Invitational my freshman year. An awesome course at Phillips Park in Aurora (though I think they may have changed the park/layout), it was rolling and tree-encrusted (and there was a zoo at said park). I ran regional’s there my junior year in 2000 with a freshly buzzed head—but that’s another story.

If memory serves, she drove out to Iowa City, where my elder sibling was attending school, for a concert that weekend.

Being a pack rat, and much to the chagrin of those who live with me, I save and saved everything that means something to me. So it should come as no surprise that I have held on to this: 

September 11, 1998
Dear Zoe-
I am so sorry that I will miss your entrance to the big leagues. If you wish I will make it to the next (it is always your call).
Try to do that which you know you can do – Run really, really fast. The distance might bother you but save a tiny bit for your fantastic “kick”. Don’t let someone squeeze you out of the chute. Keep thinking that everybody is yelling you on at the end – you are an excellent runner, now force yourself to do it.
Don’t worry about failure; try your hardest, that is what counts. (This seems as if its leading up to a blessing, doesn’t it? Well forget it toots!)
Just remember we all (even Fluff) love you VERY much (warts and wall)
XOXO (signed with a small figurine she writes as her signature to us)

My mom would always include notes of some sort or another with our lunches, on index cards. But this was one of the few running-related notes left for me as I gathered my things before heading to the bus pre-meet on a Saturday morning. 

My own cheering section at track state, 2001. Elder sister Kind (right) said my hair back in those days looked like a Golden Lion Tamarin Monkey.

Though hobbled by life-long knee problems and progressive arthritis, she still remains connected to the notion of running, always asking me how things are going, telling me I should run a marathon. 

I’m hoping to coax her out to the big city in a few weeks for the Solder Field 10 Miler, which my younger sister will also be present in (at least she better be—I got her an entry as an Xmas gift). I think her sitting inside the stadium for the finish will be very cool.  I can already her hear cheering.