Friday, May 21, 2010

Vacation Planning Extraordinaire.

I love to plan.
I am a planner.
I love lists and itineraries and travelogues.
Follow through? Notsomuch.
This helps to explain why, since our late twenties, the girls and I have been 'planning' our Dirty-Thirty get-away. The girls, like me, are planners. We like the idea of vacation. We like looking at TravelZoo and emailing each other amazing deals that we find that we're not taking advantage of this month...

But, yesterday, I received the most amazing email from my friend, Stephanie.
Everyone say, "Hi, Stephanie!"
Isn't she cute?

Here we are together. We like our beer. We like it a lot. We also like the Haufbrau House in Pittsburg. It's pretty Rad.

Stephanie very clearly spells out in 30 key points why we MUST actually go on vacation this year instead of continue to just plan our vacation. And you know what? She's right. As soon as I make a list of things I need on this vacation and ways I can pay for it, I'm booking it, darnit...

30. We are awesome.
29. Boys are dumb; throw rocks at them.
28. Kids are awesome but so are breaks from them.
27. Tim took a trip, and now it's Jill's turn.
26. Karrie doesn't get headaches when she's on vacation.
25. We are awesome.
24. Steph's moving out of town and should get extra time with her girls.
23. At 30, Caralyn still knows how to party and needs to remind the rest of us.
22. All you can eat
21. All you can drink (#21, ahem!)
20. We are awesome.
19. Vacation = less worry of embarassment from running into people you know after drinking.
18. We've already survived vacations together -- a sign of true friendship.
17. It's been WAAAAY too long since our last vacation together!
16. We've been talking about this ever since our late twenties were threatening to turn us into 30-somethings.
15. We are all pale as ghosts and need some vitamin D.
14. Did I mention we are awesome?
13. Indiana weather sucks often enough that we should sample other climates.
12. We aren't required to have chaperones on our vacations anymore.
11. The ocean is awesome.
10. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: We are awesome.
9. It's good motivation to get in shape (swimsuits...yikes!).
8. If we don't get in shape, girls' vacay means no one gives a shit what you look like in your swimsuit anyway. :)
7. It's an excuse to get pedicures -- all sandals, all the time!
6. Speaking of pedicures, we could get more than one - cruise lines have spas.
5. We are awesome. But we already knew that.
4. It's totally acceptable to either a.) cram as much as possible into one day or b.) do absolutely nothing all day.
3. Living without constant connection to facebook or email won't even matter because we'll be with the people we like to facebook and email.
2. No boys, no kids, no parents, no responsibilities...and the company of those that love us even though we're 30!!!!!!!!!!!!
1. With deals like this, there is no reason NOT to take a vacation together!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mini Marathon Junkie

In a family of runners, I am a runner by default.
I've been an off-and-on runner for about 15 years. I ran track & cross country in high school and loved it.
I continued distance running in college and beyond because it offered me a bit of an escape, a chance to turn my brain off and just go.
The past few years have provided little time for training or luxury runs, so I squeeze them in where I can.
I LOVE the Mini Marathon.
I love that my entire family comes hurtling into town to run this race together.
I love knowing we'll have a huge dinner and endless growlers of beer and bottles of wine both before and after the race.
I love the 40,000 people that come crushing into my city to run the largest half-marathon in the country.
I love the thousands of beach balls that are launched into the corrals a half an hour before the race begins.
I love the wave of adrenaline that comes crashing across you, speeding up your pulse, when the gun goes off.
I love cresting the top of a hill, and running backwards for a few steps to see the thousands of people behind me.
I love the thousands of people I will beat to the finish line.
I love crossing the finish line and the sense of satisfaction it brings.
I love the Chocolate Chip Cookies that St. Francis Volunteers pass out in handfuls after the race.
I love the salt of the potato chips as I scarf an entire bag post-race.
The running part? eh.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with running.
It alternates. With each step.

My training this year has been...lackluster at best.
My long runs were averaging 8-ish miles.
And by 8-ish I really mean that's what I told everyone when really they averaged more like 5-ish. On a good day.
So, for your amusement, here's my thought process through Saturday's 13.1
Pre-race, Corral O - My extremities are frozen. It's 44 some-odd-degrees out. I have goosebumps on my legs. I tug my arm warmers up to my armpits and shudder. my nose is running and I have to pee, but I'm exhilarated. I'm here! Belatedly I wish I would have worn my iPod this year. I think they earbuds would have kept my ears warm. I find a few coworkers in the crowd. Odd that, in a crowd of 35,000 half-marathoners I run into two people that I see EVERY DAY. Crowds are funny like that. My brother-in-law bounces to the Journey tune blasting out of the speaker to our right. It's his first Mini and I try to come up with encouraging things to say like "There's beer at the end" and "I'm sure you'll beat me!". Matt insists the beach-ball release will likely be the best part of the entire day. I don't contradict him.

7:30a The Gun Goes Off - There is a general shudder of impatience and excitement in the crowd. We surge forward a few steps, then stop. It's like the worst traffic jam you've ever been in. Steps, stop, steps, stop. We stutter forward to the Start Line. The wind whistles between the buildings and someone behind me murmers "What are we doing here, you guys?" I chuckle, knowing everyone's thinking the same thing.

Mile One - I feel good. The wind is making my eyes tear up as we jog by the Eiteljorg, the NCAA Hall of Fame, The Zoo. Not as many people sprint for The tree line as usual. On a hot day you can see a solid line of guys dropping trow in the first 1000 feet.

Mile Two - Still cold. My muscles never warm up until the second or third mile, but this year I think it might take a little bit longer... I stop at the first water station and take a few sips, but don't stop. Not yet. So glad I wore the arm warmers and a technical on top. Oh! Looking! Elvis is running. Isn't that nice?

Mile Three - Picking out my favorite shirts helps to pass the time. The runners back in my coral enjoy chit-chatting. We're not pros. we're here for the experience. I meet a nice girl who's done this the past few years and we joke that we're both ready for a beer. There's a couple running together with read shirts that read "First Timer" in iron on letter across the back. The girl's T is crooked.

Mile Four - I feel a slight twinge in my picker-upper muscles and the top of my right foot. Training would have been a good idea, I guess. I hope my muscles can take this. Other than a few twinges I feel great. I stop at the water stop and take my time sipping my way to the bottom of the dixie cup and keeping up a good clip on my 'race walk' (how I justify stopping here & there. As in: "It's's a race walk!"). Pick the pace back up. Wave as friendly-beer girl trucks on by. Catch up with Crooked-T First timer. Flash a smile at the Elvi (There's two of them now). These are my people. I take a deep breath. I can do this. I get to do this. I think about my stride and about how I only have nine miles to go. Wait. Nine miles? Shit. I falter a step. Oops. Wrong thing to think.

Mile Five - We're coming up on the IMS. Traditionally this is where I take my first "walk". But I'm still feeling good, so i take it all in stride. I'm impressed with the changes to Main Street. I don't drive out to Speedway often, but the roads are newly refinished and there's cute little benches and shrubbery lining the street. WTF? When did this happen? I've got to get out more. We round the corner onto 16th street and the Track looms above us. Giant Chik-Fil-a cows line the streets. I high-fived a couple, chuckling. I asked one if he had any free samples and I can hear the people behind me laugh. I feel good. I find myself in the middle of a tight pack which cuts down on the wind shear and we charge down into the underpass and into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is a high and low point of the race for me. High point: Everyone hoots and hollers and shouts while running through the tunnel. Our voices echo and bounce off each other. Moral is high. Then... we have to head uphill. ohmychrist. My legs don't want to work. Uphill?! They scream at me. You want us to do what?!. I hear my high school track coach in the back of my head yelling at me to "Step Higher! Higher!". Alfie, if you're out there, that was suuuuper annoying... But Guess what? Bathrooms! Real Bathrooms! The hill was worth it.

Mile Six - I'm still running. What the hell is going on here? I should take a break but I make myself run to the turn. I see hoardes of people exiting the track out of the corner of my eye and secretly hate them all. They're two and a half miles ahead of me. I cut little deals with myself. If you run to the corner, you can walk for 20 steps... if you run through the straightaway you can stop and stretch your calves on pit wall. If you run past these annoying cheerleaders you don't have run hear that Flintstone song EVER again...

Mile Seven - I start to slow near the Pagoda but see all the cameras flashing ahead of me. Pride's a funny thing. I pick up the pace. I specifically do NOT smile at the cameras. But I might stop grimacing and fix my posture so that little bit of stomach I've been developing the past few months disappears.

Mile Eight - Good God. Are we STILL on the track?

Mile Nine - We exit the track. I grab a Gatorade from the cutest volunteer I've seen all day and wish, for a heartbeat that I was one of those girls that didn't turn red and splotchy when she ran. I wish I didn't have beads of sweat on my top lip, matting down those wispy hairs on my temples and running down into my sports bra. I'm not warm mind you. I'm just sweating. In the cold. It is NOT pleasant. I take a swig of Gatorade and toss my cup, gently down and to the left, into the gutter. I'm surprised when I'm nailed with a stream of cold, sticky Gatorade from my left. "oh! Sorry" the wheezing runner to my right forces out. He's twice my size, very literally, in both height and girth. How has this guy not died of a heart attack yet? My feet stick to the ground and make an awful squelch sound. I think I have Gatorade in my sock. That guys is going down. I call him names in my head. I unpin the little ziploc baggie of jelly beans from the inside waistband of my shorts. The night before, my brother and I carefully handpicked beans to tuck away for the mile-nine snack. I picked Cherry jelly bellies this year. Which is suspiciously identical to cinnamon. I lope along nibbling on jelly beans through the post-track slalom mile. My last bean ends up being a cinnamon. ugh.

Mile 10 - I get passed by a 10-year-old. This was a horrible idea. The drunkards outside the Taverns lining 10th St. slur their cheers and urge us on saying "you're almost half way!" I do a mental shake. I guess they tried? I miss the years when the leather-clad bikers would stand outside of the Hi-Neighbor Tavern handing out dixie cups of beer...

Mile 11 - We pass the factories alongBelmont and White River Pkwy. It smells suspiciously like grilling, or kosher food. Where the heck did they hide that 12-mile marker. I have to pee. again. And against my better judgement I hop into an unsteady-looking port-a-potty alongside the road. I squat and the damn thing sways like a drunken sailor. I pray. LIke I've never prayed before. "Dear God, please, please, please don't let this port-a-potty tip over. I don't think I could ever live that down. And I certainly couldn't finish the race. Please Please Please. Amen." I dash out of that thing as if the fires of hell were in there. Which, I mean, honestly? That's kind of what it smelled like. I kick high, stretching my quads, and aim for the bridge.

Mile 12 - This is cruel. I used to be able to see the finish line from here. But somone decided NOT to erect the giant black-and-white-checkered finish line banner this year. People are dropping like flies. My knees and my quads are on file. I hate my life. 3/4 of a mile to go and I have to stop and walk again. My body just won't listen when my brain screams "Run!" 1/2 mile to go and I slip into a slow jog. Where in the world is the finish line? Surely I should have passed it by now? I remember a documentary I saw about the U.S.S. Indianapolis, and how the sailors that had been floating int he water for days said that the scariest part of the entire ordeal was when they saw the helicopters finally approach to save them. Apparently the shark-infested waters weren't bad enough, but the fact that they were so close to being rescued and that something could still go wrong terrified these men like no other. Suddenly, I understand. Where is the damn finish line?

Mile 13.1 - I see Crooked-T First Timer a few steps behind me. Is this it? she asks. I turn and almost stumble. I congratulate her and she blushes, or maybe she's just dying. I"m not sure. Either way, I trip into line for my medal, my water, my Gatorade, my banana, my chips and my St. Francis Cookies. My time is not great, but I did it. As my sweat dries, the cold seeps in. Next year. I'm training. Really. I mean I know I said it last year, but this year I really mean it.
I limp over to the family meeting area and find the entire family (having been done for a good 40 minutes if not longer). Seriously. Seriously. Next year. I'm training...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Advice to my Children

I'm sure I'll add to this as time gets sucked away from us, but it's a good start.
Drop me a comment if you have any life lessons to add to the list...

be kind.
It's not always easy. It's rarely popular. But a smile to that shy kid that everyone else picks on might just mean the world.

do not obsess about your weight, your hair, your looks.
Obsessing can be fun. Save it for something worthwhile.


learn the rules of football (and other boys' club sports).
It's like learning a foreign language. I think your brains will sponge it up better when you're young

if you can, clean as you go.
No one like spending an entire day indoors, declutterfying.

anything you chase after, will run
This includes puppies, lightning bugs, promotions, most men, and both the ideal black cardigan and world's most comfortable pair of boots.

wanting to change the world isn't naive; it's normal.
I hope you are able to fend off cynicism as long as possible to keep your youthful passion sincere and viable

passion isn't just for the young
Don't look askance if you see people displaying affection in public. They were young once too.

there is always that point in an argument when you realize you were wrong.
At that point, stop arguing.

leave a decent tip
Tips are not a tool to coerce your server, they are simply the currency of service jobs. respect this. tip often. tip well.

if you test people, they may fail.
Friendship, love, and family don’t hinge on any single success or failure; you would do yourself a disservice to administer litmus tests to things as complex as love and affection.

you don't need the extended warranty.
Really. I promise.

hypocrisy is everywhere
So try and be both accepting and forgiving of this inconsistency in both yourself and others

sometimes the little decisions in life will be harder than the big ones
I can't tell you how many times I stood deer-in-headlights in front of an aisle of thread spools or material swatches or a Chinese food menu. But i knew in a heartbeat i would marry your father one day.

listen. really listen.
Don't just wait to talk.

pop culture definitions of love do not cut it.
Don't rely on books or movies to tell you what love is and how it should be expressed. The real thing is gritty and harsh and often painful, but it is infinitely more fulfilling.

throw parties
They're fun to attend, but I've always found a secret little joy in pulling off a good hosting of one.

be confident. when complimented: nod and say thank you. no disclaimers necessary
This one is from my friend Joy. We can just file it under Do as I say, not as I do...

make your friends a priority
They can so often be your salvation

never underestimate the value of a good pair of socks, a glass of wine, or a piece of dark chocolate
Some days, these things, too, can be your salvation!

wear bikinis while you can!
There WILL come a day when you realize you've traded in your youthful body for an entirely new one. And one day, you'll look down at yourself, puzzled, and think "huh! When did that happen?" That's the day a bikini stops being appropriate. Don't stress out over this. I promise, when the time comes you won't really mind.

wear your seat belt
This should be one less thing I have to worry about. help your mother out here

i will always keep your secrets.
If you have one knocking around inside of you that needs to be let out, you can tell me. I will keep it for you so that it doesn't weigh you down. But, I do promise not to pester you, and to respect your decision if you have something you simply can't tell me. Well, I'll try at least...

find your lullaby
When each of you were little, you each had your own. It was found through trial and error of gently bouncing around the living room, seeing which one you reacted to, which one calmed you, which one spoke to you. So find something in your life that makes you feel calm and secure. Then, hold on to it. Apply liberally.

make a mess
Some of the best things in life are built out of messes. See: baking, painting, gardening, etc.

talk to strangers
I didn't want to be too big of a hypocrite. Strangers are too interesting to fear. Plus, more often than not, you'll know the creepers when you are presented with them.

mind your manners
This is difficult when you are young and memorizing them by rote and such, but when you are an adult, you are not granted the same freedom of youth to express your emotions. When they threaten to overwhelm you, and you are at a loss for how to behave, you can always fall back on your manners. They are the tool that will help you maintain your dignity in unsavory and unwelcome situations.

Have dessert for breakfast. Add another pump of hot fudge. Lay in bed all day with the newspaper.Just remember that an
indulgence is temporary. Do it sparingly and it is a joy. Do it too often and you're just a hedonist.

if you love someone, tell them

if you want to leave a party and you don't have a good excuse yet, spill something on yourself.
Stumbled upon this one accidentally in college. It's served me well since then.

you have responsibilities. act accordingly.

your actions have consequences.

blood is nothing to wig out about.
You know this already. You all had nose bleeds like it's going out of fashion when you were little. But, in a room where everyone else is losing it, try and be the calm voice of reason. Your grandfather always was and I always admired that

When you walk someone out to their car to say goodbye, wait until they drive away to go back inside.
This seems a generational thing right now. Your grandparents do it, but my friends rarely do. Try and bring this back if you can

don't smoke.
I never thought that was an attractive habit. To that end, don't bite your nails or chew on the ends of your hair either.

don't go to bed angry
This is not just marriage advice, this is every day advice. It gives you upset stomachs and bad dreams and colors your tomorrow before it starts. Start each day fresh by giving yourself a moment to accept today's failures and wish them goodnight.

when you compliment someone, make it genuine
compliments aren't meant to be space fillers or conversation starters. They're like haikus. Treat them as such.

ALWAYS write thank you notes.

Never write down what you wouldn't want read aloud in front of the classroom
Also, never write down/email/text what you wouldn't be willing to say to a person's face. Technology makes us bold when maybe we should'nt be just yet.

learn about wines and cantaloupe
Find out what makes them bold or sweet. Learn what you like. Learn to pick a good wine and pair it with dinner. Learn to to tell if fruit is ripe, particularly cantaloupe because it's fun to be the crazy lady thumping on the melons in the produce aisle at the grocery

don't always act your age
There are times when you should regress into puddle-jumping age. there are also times when it's perfectly acceptable to dance like a three-year-old in public, or to have a glass of chocolate milk and lay on the rug in the living room reading a book, even if you aren't five-years-old.

remember to say please and thank you
Such simple little words make such a difference

use people's names when you first meet them.
The only way I've found to help me remember people's names is to use them right away. try it. it helps.

laugh every day.
Laughter can clear out a funk like no other. Laugh from the belly, like you used to when you were babies.

someday, someone will break your heart.
Remind me, on that day, that I'm not allowed to kill them. Also remind me that I once had a broken heart. Several in fact, and that it was an exquisite pain I recovered from just fine.

there is a learning curve to life.
There may not be a rule book, but there is plenty of room for error.

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