What are we talking about today?

Normal topics suspended for the A to Z Challenge. It's all books from April 1-30.

If you're here from the A to Z Challenge hoping I'll comment back if you comment first: Sorry to disappoint, but that probably won't happen. I work full-time and I grad school full-time, so I can't give the time to blog commenting that I would like. I'll visit after the end of the semester, I hope.

31 July 2010

Words: You're That Person to Someone

I close out July by dusting off this series that I got sidetracked from a few weeks ago.

These words of wisdom were bestowed upon me many years ago by my coordinator in Scotland. I don't remember the complaint that sparked the conversation, although there is no doubt that I complained about something. And he said, "Just remember, you're that person to someone."

I think about this truth a lot. Especially in the light of Annoying Guy, this week, and pretty much every other annoying person in my life the rest of the time. And with my personality, there tend to be a lot of annoying people in my life, so I feel pretty confident that there are an equal number of people who sigh and possibly vacate the premises when they see me coming. (Then there's that friendly coworker who said, "I'll miss you even though you're rude". I think she finds me annoying.)

Unfortunately, this is more in the nature of a last resort thought for me than a first instinct. In moments of irritation, I tend to forget that I'm that person to someone.

30 July 2010

Where's My Car?

I've hesitated before blogging about our new transportation, but it's not like it is going to be a secret forever, so here goes:

(This is not what our car looked like. I just think it's fun.)

We're car-free again. We didn't plan on this; when we first looked into apartments in Austin, we thought we would have a car here. But when we considered the money we would have to spend to get the car fixed and keep it running, we opted instead to pass the car along to someone who needed it more than we.

So Chad's coworker took the car off our hands, with the plan that once repaired, it will be her daughter's first car. (I don't know what she's done with the running and Scotland stickers we left on the car.) When I think back to my first car, which by all rights should have had its own zip code, I think the young lady in question is quite lucky indeed.

So our car drove off a couple of days before we left Lubbock. And so far, we've seen Austin by bus. And foot. And, a little bit, bicycle.

Thus far, the massive upswing in our fitness and downswing in our weight that we were hoping for has not happened, but we've only been here for three weeks.

28 July 2010

Sit Down While Going up Mountains

There's a sign at the front of every bus I've ever been in that reads something like, "No Standing Forward of Yellow Line While Bus Is In Motion."

Sometimes it's a white line.

The Austin buses have yellow lines, though, and the sign reminds me of a happy little story that I shall share with you now. It could be titled: "Little Susan Rides the Bus."

I didn't ride the bus in kindergarten, and the story of my coming & going from school as a five-year-old is certainly worth telling, but not in today's blog. So there I was, the first day of first grade, new school implements safely packed into a new backpack, waiting for the Big. Scary. Bus. And scary it was; when it pulled up, I seriously hesitated before I could pep talk myself into getting on board.

The bus driver (who has known me since I was born, by the way; she lives pretty close to my parents), smiled and was very encouraging, and assigned me to a seat next to a very, very kind sixth-grader who reassured me that first grade was going to be wonderful. (She was wrong, actually, but no point in ruining a good story.)

It was about a 20-minute ride to school, in the course of which I tried to take everything in. And "everything" included that mysterious sign up front. I could already read going into the first grade; I had the basics of phonics and had learned to "sound it out". My reading was at the Little House on the Prairie level (seriously-- I read it the summer before I started first grade), which, I have since learned, has no hard words. Except maybe "massacre".

So, very slowly and carefully, I read every word on the sign, until I got to the strange word "motion". Obviously, sounding it out was not going to work. (And while I'm sure I will tell my children the same thing, "sound it out" is dumb advice for English speakers.) But I was too timid to ask even the nice sixth-grader next to me, and it was getting louder on the bus as more kids got on, and I was not about to draw attention to myself. So I took a couple of stabs at it, and decided that it said "mountain."

I have a vivid imagination, and even more so did the six-year-old me think vividly, so I immediately had a mental picture of the bus going up the side of one of those mountains we saw every summer in Kentucky. I could imagine that it would be a very bad idea indeed to stand in front of the yellow line, or even to stand up at all, while the bus went up such a steep slope; you'd fall backwards!

And I got all the way through first grade satisfied with that explanation. And it's still the first thing I think of when I see the sign.

27 July 2010

Meet My Classmate

There's an annoying guy in my astronomy class; in a burst of originality and wit, I've decided to hereafter refer to him as "Annoying Guy".

I don't technically mind people who are annoying that much (at college, that is-- at work it's another story); they are in my life for a few weeks and then gone, never to be seen again; thanks be to the almighty Dean of Students. But Annoying Guy is pervasive. I see him walking around campus. I hear him yammering on his blasted phone with the all-the-more-annoying-for-being-attached-to-his-head earpiece. I put on my iPod so I don't have to hear his word choices while he is sitting six tables away (yeah, I should call him Loud Annoying Guy), only to retreat to a more defensible position when I realise my choice is between listening to him or deafening myself.

Annoying Guy has gotten under my skin. And I want him out.

Truthfully, what annoys me the most-- even more than his obnoxious, under-the-breath comments in class, or his eye rolls that are huge so that we can all see his disgust when the lecturer is cracking a lame joke, or his loud phone conversations that he really should take somewhere more private-- what annoys me the most is this: He is a good student.

I wish he were a horrible student, so I could at least rest in the knowledge that he is bringing his own ignorance upon himself. But no, he has to go and understand it all just as well as I do.

Sometimes, it would be nice if people would fail a course for my sake.

22 July 2010

I get to WRITE!!

Sometimes, I get one of those uber-reassuring moments that I really have make the correct decision about something.

I chose Rhetoric & Writing as my major because it has the word "Writing" in it. Okay, that's not the real reason, but it's a close enough approximation. Anyone who has been reading this blog must have spotted my love of words. And punctuation. And grammar. And the fun of mixing all those things up into an intelligible piece of writing. It is one of my longest-lasting hobbies (seriously-- only reading beats it. And only by about five years). Even though my blogging isn't as regular as I'd like it to be, I am still so happy that I was introduced to this medium.

Okay, tangent over. I am taking my first class in my major-- Principles of Rhetoric-- this summer. (Is that supposed to be italicised? Well, it is now.) Our first paper was assigned last Thursday. I've spent from last Thursday until yesterday being completely terrified of this assignment, even while churning ideas over in my head.

Yesterday, I went to discuss it with my instructor and we hashed out some ideas, she approved my topic, and even said I had a "cool" way of approaching it. Happiness abounds. And then it got better-- she told me, "You seem to have a good handle on this already. (Really? Sure didn't feel like it!) So, what is your next step?"

My well-drilled, well-trained, late-'90s high school writing education stepped up, flexed its muscles, and bellowed "RESEARCH!!" in my ear. Out loud I said, "Well, I should probably do some research, but what I will actually do is start writing."

And this is where my meeting took a dramatic upturn; my instructor smiled widely and said, "I was prepared to be disappointed if you said 'research', because that's what everyone else has said. You should absolutely start writing first."

Me: "Really? That's great, because I would much rather write than research." In my head, however, the "yay, we're doing this right" party was already starting.

"Well," she said, "how do you know what to research if you don't start writing and see what direction you want to go?"

And that's what I've always thought. I am so, so happy that academia has finally come around to this idea (according to this instructor, they've only made this shift to "write first, then research" in the past 10-ish years). And even happier that I put off university until it happened.

18 July 2010

Aaah! I've gone picture-free!

Yep, I have all these posts with no pics again. And after resolving to do better about the decorations around here, too.

Some days, I read other blogs and realise what a lousy writer I really am. (No need to comment to make me feel better about this; it's not like I'm going to stop writing.) (Also no need to comment to agree.) And I read one such blog this morning, and have added it to my blogroll, and I now share it with you:

Emdashes. If you are at all of the literary or pop-culture persuasion, go read it. And if you are wondering what an emdash is, I went and asked our nice friends at Wikipedia, and they said, "If your readers all went to school, they should know what an em dash is. And it has a space, you moron!"

So I said, "Thanks for clearing that up, Wikipedia, but you are being a bit unfair. After all, most of my friends and I went to public school. Besides, we are getting old and can't be expected to remember everything that we once knew."

And then Wikipedia grudgingly gave me this definition: "A dash is a punctuation mark. It is similar in appearance to a hyphen, but a dash is longer and it is used differently. The most common versions of the dash are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—)."

After which I said, "Thank you, Wikipedia; was that so hard?"

Then Wikipedia went off in a huff and isn't speaking to me until I ask it a really hard question.

16 July 2010

An Epic Trip to a Big Box

Yeah, that's how I feel about Wal-Mart right now. It's just a big box.

Normally, a trip to WM would not merit its own blog post, but I'm pretty well taking a break from"normally" for a while, until my life begins to feel normal again. Given the state of my brain, this may be a while.

Since we found our apartment online and only saw it after we arrived, we did not know in advance of our coming that our bedrooms have no ceiling lights. Or, indeed, any other lights. This made for an amusing couple of days as we tried to work in rooms with no light, but obviously we had to get some lamps.

Among our greatly-appreciated going-away gifts was a gift card to Wal-Mart. So, we decided to purchase a couple of floor lamps and some other odds and ends at WM. But first, we had to get there, and that was our adventure for our first Friday in Austin.

The Austin bus system has a fabulous trip planner, into which I put our address and where we want to go, and it gives us a few possible itineraries. Apparently, there are three WMs in Austin within easy reach of the public transport system, but none of them generated friendly itineraries; we finally chose the closest one, which still had us travelling for an hour with two transfers each direction. (BTW: This trip would be about 4 minutes if we were driving, Google Maps tells me.) But, we are relatively easygoing, and besides, it's not like we had much of an option. Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to Wal-Mart we go.

We are still learning the bus system, so some of the transfers being really long was partly our own fault because they could have been shorter if we had been more aware of the bus operating schedule. The longest wait was the last one, as fate would have it; in the end, it may have been faster for us to just walk home instead of standing around for 40 minutes for a 10-minute bus ride.

All told, we left the house at 3 PM and returned at 8 PM. And that is why this day shall henceforth be called: The Epic Trip to A Big Box.

All was not wasted time, of course; we got to talk to some of the drivers, and met a neighbour who lives up the street and has two really cute kids. But I hope future shopping trips will be shorter.

15 July 2010

Getting a Green Card

Our local library is two stops before ours on the bus route, which my astute husband noticed on Wednesday as we returned from a productive day in the land of UT. So, we got off there and strolled in.

At the desk, we met a very loud (seriously! Bring it down a few decibels, dude; you're in a library!) man who gave us the form to fill out, as well as voter registration cards. Cool, we can check that one off the list. Then he asked for photo IDs and proof of address. Dang. We didn't have proof of address with us.

We went back on Thursday, on our way home from the grocery store, because we had just picked up our mail on the way out and therefore had proof of address. Unfortunately, when we pulled out our wallets, they were devoid of photo IDs, because I had gotten our driver licences out earlier in the day to change our address online. Dang, again.

The library was closed on Friday, and we contemplated going to the next closest branch (a few more stops up the way on the bus), but as we completed a 5-hour trek to Wal-Mart on Friday, we decided that we could wait one more day to try the library again.

On Saturday, before heading out to the library, we both double-checked my backpack for photo IDs, proof of address and our completed forms to give to the nice library staff. Who, upon our arrival, duly checked us in and issued cards. Yay! It only took three tries!

The library cards in Austin are a nice green colour, with a stylized picture of the city on the front. When I admired their prettiness aloud, the woman assisting us shared this story:

When the libraries changed their card colour a few years ago, they ran a few PSAs to announce the change to the general public, and were at once flooded with calls and visits from people looking for a Legal Resident card. So, the PSAs were changed from "the library now has green cards" to "the library cards are now green", thus prompting a flood of questions like, "Oh, are the cards made of recycled plastic?"

Apparently, they gave up on educating the public after that and allowed people to discover for themselves what colour the library cards are.

14 July 2010

The Education Habit

We didn't have internet in the apartment when we first moved in (hence the blogging-free week last week), so in order to use such fantastic tools as the trip planner from our local bus system, I was having to drag myself & my laptop out onto our humid porch to use the community internet. Which I did, late Tuesday night, when I was so tired I could have fallen asleep while sitting on the porch. But I had a meeting with my advisor on Wednesday morning and I didn't want to be late, so we had to find out which buses were the correct ones to get from our apartment to my advisor's office.

Except I didn't have a meeting. After our first, blessedly uneventful, ride on the Capital Metro service, we got to the office to discover I wasn't on the calendar. After a couple minutes of the receptionist searching, and then telling me that I must go to orientation, I made the statement that turned out to be the tipping point: I'm here to go to summer school. This got the attention of my advisor in the next room, and she came around and asked me to come back in half an hour.

I was about ready to cry with frustration, the more so because I made this appointment well ahead of time to avoid this such event. So, I took a walk down the hall to get a drink, then went outside to phone my mum & tell her about our morning thus far. Then I went back inside to find Chad looking for me.

So, problem solved; my advisor gave me all the stuff I need to register for summer school and the fall semester. And it turns out that in a perfect world (one without full classes and university requirements about how many hours one must take from them), I could probably finish my degree in a year. Well done, South Plains College! Unfortunately, I don't live in a perfect world, and UT will not grant me a degree until I take 60 hours here. Good thing I have a second major, then.

So, after that little bit of aggravation, the rest of the day was smooth sailing; I convinced the admissions office that they have all my transcripts, explained to financial aid that I am only taking one summer session, and got a student ID. And on Friday, I registered for my two summer classes. My education habit has indeed resumed.

13 July 2010

We have arrived!

Apparently there's a joke that "La Quinta" is Spanish for "Next to Denny's". I have heard that joke many, many times, but always thought it was strange; after all, I've spent the past five years working in a doctor's office that is next to La Quinta, and the nearest Denny's was a couple of miles away.

Not so this week; the La Quinta we stopped at in Abilene was, in fact, next to Denny's. So that's where we had dinner. And then we had a nice sleep, because we were up late Sunday and up early Monday, so we were plenty tired. Chad was considerably more tired than myself, of course, since he did the majority of the loading, unloading and reloading of our U-Hauls.

Tuesday morning we got up & had a nice breakfast before heading out for the second half of our journey to Austin. A friend in Lubbock had organised some help for us to unload with some friends of hers in Austin, and I'm pretty sure we forgot to mention that our new apartment was on the third floor. Oops.

We got here, had the usual rigmarole over lease signing, here's the pool, let us know if anything was broken, etc. And then the fun began, because while we don't have a lot of stuff, some of the stuff we do have is plenty heavy. In particular, the washing machine. After the men managed to get it all the way up, one of them said to me, "When you move, buy a new washing machine."

They could only stay for about an hour, but they were immensely helpful. Do I remember their names? Of course, I do not. We made a quick trip to our bank, then moved a few boxes into their correct rooms before the arrival of Paul & Teri, who helped get the last few things up the stairs & invited us to come with them to church on Wednesday.

So, it wasn't pretty, and it still isn't all put away, but we are Austin residents.

12 July 2010

Day One: Oh, crap.

For those not keeping score at home, today was my first day of summer school, and my first day getting any kind of formal education since I graduated from South Plains College five years ago. There are posts that are coming about moving in and meeting my advisor and so on, but this post gets to skip the queue.

So, I got up late. Yeah, this is already bad. I think I either slept through the alarm or hit snooze in my sleep, but either way, I got up 20 minutes later than I intended. I momentarily contemplated skipping the shower (yeah, yeah, get all grossed out if you must), then remembered that I live in Austin now and there has certainly been sweating for me since my last shower.

Got in, got out, got dressed (I'm so thankful that I'm not that fussy about clothes), grabbed up all the stuff I would need. Ate about three bites of breakfast. Skipped my morning tea (and I already know a day is going to be wonky that starts with no tea). Couldn't find my shoes.

I finally got out the door and was headed out to the street, only to hear the sound of the bus going by. Crap! I went out and waited for the next one since I didn't have much choice, but the nerves, they were jangling.

The next bus had a slightly different route, so I wasn't sure about my planned transfer. Instead of trying to catch a campus shuttle, I decided to stay on the bus until it got downtown, then walk the rest of the way. Fortunately, I am a speed walker; unfortunately, I don't know my way around downtown, the campus, any of the buildings-- basically, I aimed for the Bell Tower, since I knew my destination was near there, and hoped for the best. "The best" does not work out so well when I'm behind a tall building and can't see my target, though.

I found the building, went up to the first floor, realised my mistake, turned around and went back down to the basement. Yep, my class is in the basement. Yay. I zoomed into the classroom with about 30 seconds to spare (seriously-- the lecturer was right behind me), covered in sweat and already exhausted. Fortunately, the Stepford Student in me took over and immediately began writing down everything the lecturer said.

Unfortunately, the perfectionist in me panicked a bit more the further we went along-- I have to do what? Read how much? The tests are what percent of my grade? Methinks that I waited too long between my associate and my bachelor's degrees. Ugh.

Anyway, it all capped off beautifully when she gave a massive reading assignment due tomorrow. From the textbook I don't yet have, because I ordered it online and didn't want to pay extra for overnight shipping. I tried to be resourceful and go to the library.

Oh yay, another adventure. Before I could do that, I had to find a library. I went to an information booth Chad & I stopped by one day last week in the Tower, got a map, then read nearly the entire list of buildings before I found the words "Main Library". (It has another name, so I really did have to read the whole list to find it.) Then I had to work out where I was (I should seriously get a hand-held GPS), and after that the library was easy enough to find.

Not so the entrance to the library; I walked the entire way around the daft building to find a way in. And once I was in, I had no earthly idea where to go to find a textbook. Result: A clearly-marked information desk!

Librarian: Hello!
I: Hi! I'm new here.
L: (chuckles) Okay, welcome! How can I help you?
I: I need to do a reading assignment from a textbook I don't yet have and I was hoping the library would have it so I can read it here.
L: Okay, great! What's the book called?
I: (dig out syllabus, read the textbook & author's name)
L: (tries to look it up-- she really did try, I was watching) I'm sorry, we don't seem to have it.
I: (fighting the panic attack that wants to take over): Okay, then, I guess I'll go talk to the instructor. Thanks.

After a short walk to clear my head and talk myself out of withdrawing from uni altogether, I went to my instructor's office, explained the situation, and she found a book that I could borrow. Result! And now I'm taking a blogging break from said massive reading assignment.

My second class, Astronomy, was much better; it's a lower-level class and is designed for non-science majors. All I need to do is pay attention and all should be well for me in that class. Although, the university bookstore has totally ripped me off in my book for Astronomy, so I guess I've learned to never buy from them again.

And now, back to work as I prepare for day 2. Buckle up; it's going to be a fun ride.

More Error than Comedy

If you take in nothing else from today's post, please remember this: I got all the way through church on our last Sunday before I started crying. Ta-daa!

Lots of good-byes, lots of well wishes, and then we were off to pick up a U-Haul. And then we went for lunch at another friend's house (people were so kind in their feeding of us these past couple of weeks), and finally back home to finish up packing.

I'm sure that for everyone who moves, the whole thing turns into a comedy of errors. And if everyone else is like us, it gets progressively less comedic as one goes along. Ugh. Chad started loading up the U-Haul, only to stop at 2 AM when I convinced him that we needed some sleep. Then, at about 8 AM Monday morning, we decided that our U-Haul was too small, so we called & arranged a larger truck, which meant Chad, ably assisted by Mike, had to unload everything that was already loaded, then drive across town, then back again.

Meanwhile, I was frantically wrapping our dishes in newspaper and finding them spots in boxes. Fortunately, we had many willing volunteers to help with this process; otherwise, we may never have finished.

So, the new truck arrived and Chad, Mike and the gentlemen from the previously-mentioned SpyPros were most efficient in loading up all our worldly possessions in a couple of hours. (The ladies were in attendance as well, but once we got all the kitchen boxed up we mostly watched the men work.) Ruth and I went to United to get some ice, and while there we picked up some very yummy and still-warm United cookies; we miss those already!

We decided sometime on Saturday afternoon to get a hotel in Abilene for Monday night, so we would only have half the drive to Austin to undertake on Tuesday. This was unanimously voted as a good choice by those loading the truck, although it came as a bit of a surprise to our friend Tricia, who in "real life" also manages the fabulous apartments we moved out of, and was not expecting to do a final walk-through of our apartment on Monday afternoon.

We got the final odds & ends on the truck, and rolled out of Lubbock at about 2:30 Monday afternoon. It's been fun.

11 July 2010

They are finished building now, actually.

A few years passed between us meeting the former Bible bowl teachers and the time we made their Bible class our Bible class.

(As a side note, it's amazing what timing will do for you; if we had waited another year or two to come to South Plains, or to be interested in Bible bowl, we would have met an almost-completely different group of people, who may or may not have befriended us so quickly & easily because of their own life circumstances. Kind of wild, when you think about it.)

I don't remember what prompted us to walk into Family Builders one Sunday morning. I do know we had been teaching children's classes for about six months and had pretty much lost touch with our previous Bible class, so we decided to make a change. It was also toward the end of a teaching cycle with the adult Bible classes, so I know we didn't intend to stick around in Family Builders more than a week or two.

I was surprised to discover that there were people in Family Builders that we didn't know; we thought we had met all of that particular gang. I was not surprised that those unknown people were just as kind and welcoming as the ones we already knew.

I was surprised at the insistence of some that we should just stick around when we mentioned that this was a brief stopover on our way somewhere else.

So, stick around we did. And we've learned to love them all even more than we already had done (and I think I finally learned everyone's names (this class has about 80 people) the week before we moved). But it's the measure of love that has been returned to us that is especially humbling...

The week before we left, one of the class chairmen (and one of the first people we met at the long-ago Bible bowl meeting) said some nice things about us. Really, really nice things. Such nice things that I was in tears when he was done. And then he messed it all up by telling everyone that they should give me a hug before we left-- apparently, he never got the "no-hug zone" memo.

All was well, though-- last week, I was giving out hugs for free.

10 July 2010

How we met the Family

Today, class, we shall discuss the Family Builders. (Yes, a couple of them are named Bob. Please do have a small chuckle.)

A long, long time ago, back in 2002, a couple of newly-married twentysomethings turned up at South Plains. They joined the college group, since one of them was still in college, but the other one of them wanted to be involved in childrens ministry, since that was what she had done since the dawn of time.

And then behold, there came to my searching eyes a notice in the bulletin: Bible bowl interest meeting today at 5 PM in the Bible bowl room. Contact yadda yadda yadda, etc.

So, I went that day at 4:45 PM to South Plains, where I wandered around a bit until I found an adult class and went in to ask the one person I knew where the Bible bowl room was. She handed me off to someone else, and we had this amusing conversation:

I: Where is the Bible bowl room?
He: (didn't understand the question): Are you looking for a Bible class?
I: No, there's a meeting in the Bible bowl room I want to go to.
He: (determined to finish his line of questioning): The class you go to depends on how old you are. Are you in middle school or high school?
I: (shocked silence while I try to remember the last time I was mistaken for a middle schooler)
He: (still waiting for an answer)
I: (pull myself together) I'm an adult, actually, and there's a meeting for people interested in helping with Bible bowl in the Bible bowl room. But I don't know where that is.
He: Oh! I'm so sorry. Here-- (stops a woman who was destined to become one of my best friends) Rebecca knows where it is.
Rebecca: What are you looking for?
I: (sighing to myself) I want to go to the Bible bowl meeting, but I don't know where the Bible bowl room is.
R: Okay, just come with me. I'm going there, after I get (etc.; I stopped listening because I was so happy to be on the right track at last)...

So, I followed Rebecca to the Bible bowl room, met all the then-teachers of Bible bowl, and was on my way to becoming friends with some of my favourite people on the planet. It wasn't until much, much later that I discovered that they all had been friends since college (or since I was in primary school, as I enjoy reminding them) and are still all in the same Sunday morning Bible class.

But here's how great that meeting was: Chad & I stuck around for six years of Bible bowl, thus opening the door for other people who didn't have kids in the program to likewise be teachers. (I don't say that to brag; it had just never been done before we turned up and we are tenacious.) And the even more amazing part is that of all the people we had over for dinner in these past few weeks before leaving Lubbock, four families were people that we met that very evening at a fun-filled Bible bowl meeting.

04 July 2010

They aren't really professional spies. I think.

The afore-mentioned post about the SpyPros is upon us.

As my title suggests, they are not spies, at least not as their day jobs. They are also variously known as the twentysomethings and the Young Professionals, the latter being the preferred title these days since several of them are turning 30 this year. And not before time, either.

This is the gang we first met at South Plains, being as most of them were in the college group at the time. And so were we, by virtue of Chad being in college.

And so, to say good-bye to our longest (I started to type "oldest", but they aren't) friends at South Plains, we had a Saturday night bash complete with a white elephant gift exchange. Yep, those aren't just for Christmas; they work just fine for late-June parties involving a sincere desire to get rid of some stuff.

This party just happened to be on the same day that the US were eliminated from the World Cup, so there was a fair amount of
sorrow, weeping and gnashing of teeth at the beginning, followed by a lively discussion about who was now supporting whom with our collective top pick being out. (Since I support A.B.E., my team has since won.) (And I was going to link A.B.E. to something, but I can't say that I'm happy with the message of the pages I came across. Suffice it to say that A.B.E. = Anybody but England.)

So after much eating, talking and gift exchanging, I issued our one and only gift-exchange rule: whatever you got had to go at least as far as the dumpster.

We will miss them a lot, but I do take heart from one thing: Of all the people we must say good-bye to, these are the ones most likely to come visit.

03 July 2010

Racing in the rain

Ya know how I said I was going to space out my sappy posts? Yeah, I renounce that stance now. I have a lot of sap and not much else to talk about. So, this blog would best be avoided by those who are prone to cavities, gagging, emotional outbursts, and strong dislike of sappy writing.

By my count, that should leave me with 2.4 readers. Here goes.

Our first race with the West Texas Running Club (and my first running race since middle school) was in September 2007. We had just joined the club that summer, and had signed up for the two mile. I didn't know anything about pre-race procedure, race courses, how I would know where the turnaround was, or whether I would be the last to finish. On top of that was the nagging problem of what we would do with our car keys while we ran. I arrived as one huge bundle of nerves.

Now, the nerves seem so silly; the bib number pick-up at WTRC races is well-marked and well-run; we've all done it bunches of times and anyone can assist nervous newbies. The turnaround is marked by a giant orange cone in the road, carefully watched by two volunteers, and one runs around behind it to turn back to the start (I missed this key detail on my first race, giving the race volunteers quite a laugh). I've only once been the last to finish, and I didn't die of embarrassment. And it turns out that running shorts have small pockets, into which keys fit neatly.

So, after learning all this at my very first race, and practising this hard-won knowledge once a month for the past three years, today's race was very much smooth sailing as usual. With emphasis on the "sailing"...

It's been raining for a couple of days. Part of the park where the race is held is flooded, so the 3-mile course had to be rerouted, and about a mile beyond the 3-mile turnaround (or 2.5 miles from the start), there was a dip in the road that had 2ish feet of water in it. We don't cancel races for rain, but we do alter courses for flooding, which meant the 10 mile race which I had signed up for was cancelled. Everyone ran 3 miles today.

There is some fun in the whole group running the same distance, since it so rarely happens. And there is lots of fun in running in the rain. There is considerably less fun in standing around afterwards, getting pelted by rain and chilled by wind. But we do that anyway, because if we were already crazy enough to come out in this weather, then we were crazy enough to find out if we got a medal for our trouble. I did; Chad did not.

We will miss these monthly races. We will miss the friends we've made over the past three years. We will miss the chance of earning a medal at every single race, even though we are confirmed back-of-the-packers.

For the first time in three years, I have no race to train for. But that won't stop me from getting up tomorrow and running anyway.

01 July 2010

Almost done

So, I'm having an entertaining last couple of weeks at work. People say strange things at the best of times, but leaving them forever doesn't help.

Coworker: I'm going to miss you, even though you're rude.
I (thinking, You should know about being rude after that!): Okay.
--
Various coworkers: Are you getting excited?
I: No, I've been excited for about six months.
--
Various coworkers: So, do you have everything packed?
I: No, we still have to live in our house.
VCs: Oh, yeah.
--
Coworker: Are you getting excited?
I (sighing): Yes.
C: Are you going to miss everybody?
I: Mehhhh...
C: You're supposed to say yes!
I: I don't do a lot of things I'm supposed to do. (thinking, Why ask if you already knew the answer you wanted to hear?)
--
Coworker: What are we going to do without you?
I: You'll live.
C: We might not!
I: Then you'll have a funeral.
--
Coworker: I'm going to cry on your last day.
I: Oh, that's really sweet! I'm not going to cry.
Another coworker: Why not?
I: confused stare
AC: You aren't going to cry on your last day?
I: No. (still confused)
AC: Aren't you going to miss us?
I: Yeah, but you aren't dying.
--

So, the end of the story is, my coworkers will probably be better off without their daily dose of snark. But I bet it's lot more boring.

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