Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Look!

I was inspired by Jenn's make-over of her blog, Much Ado.

I decided to go with a seasonal look for mine. If I get time in the future, I think I may use seasonal outdoor pictures from my own photos to change the background with the time of year - I just hope I can get the picture to look good when blown up this big!

I have also updated my School page on the blog with my upcoming schedule and the continuing education courses I've completed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions - 2011 Goals Set

Last year I had 20 resolutions with more sub-goals than I care to count. This year I have one single resolution, with 14 distinct goals accomplish it.

Here we go!

2011 New Year's Resolution:
Life Balance for Improved Total Health

Measurable Goals:

Rock Climbing
To build my mental strength and physical power
1. Climb 3 times per week at the gym (or 2 times if climbing outside on the weekend) for 30 to 45 minutes, including antagonistic muscle strength conditioning
2. Lead a traditional 5.9 route
3. Lead a sport 5.10 route
4. Compete in the T-Town Pull Down

To foster flexibility in my body and serenity in my spirit
5. Attend a group class once a week

To develop endurance and self discipline
6.Run 30 minutes at my target heart rate 3 times a week, when not otherwise training
7. Train for and run competitively in any number of races, not to exceed a cumulative racing distance of 50K for the year

Combined Goals:

Family, Friends, and Crafting
To get my warm-and-fuzzies
8. Knit and sew birthday and Christmas gifts
9. Hand make birthday and holiday cards

Reducing Stress and Improving Health
To cover a few things not addressed above
10. Sleep no less than 7 hours a night - this receives priority over school work
11. Read Thrive by Brendan Brazier, a nutritional guide for vegans
12. Step down as President of SAC
13. Create new budget and set specific savings goal for the year
14. No caffeine. Seriously this time.

That's it!

I did not include any work or school goals, except wherein #10 & #12 aim to reduce school stress. That was intentional to try and correct the overabundance of library land in my life right now. I also know that I will still certainly be doing my best in both work and school, so I don't feel like I'm neglecting them by leaving them out of my resolutions.

I am going to try to post at the end of each month about how I am doing on theses goals.

Anyone else doing resolutions this year?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Resolutions - 2011 Brainstorm

So, I've been reviewing my goals for last year, and I've identified some problems:

  1. There are way too many goals to keep track of and accomplish
  2. In real life, Library Land gets what I think to be an inappropriate majority of my time and energy, and causes a fair amount of stress and hinders... well.. the entire rest of my life.
  3. Health problems were very disruptive in 2010 for me. And they shouldn't be - I'm a 26 year old fit female, I typically eat well, I exercise sporadically but with a greater than average frequency... I'm supposed to be healthy!
So based on these dilemmas, I've come up with a single overall abstract goal for the new year:

Life Balance for Improved Total Health

Next, I will break that down into a few manageable, measurable hard sub-goals. A few of them will be continual (ex: go to one yoga class a week) and a few of them with be completed when they are done (ex: make straight A's). Ideally these goals will be complimentary, but most importantly they will all be appropriately limited and all directed at improved health in some form for fashion - be it physical, mental or emotional.

Next post: set a few specific, measurable, BALANCED sub-goals!

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Resolutions - 2010 Recap

Yes, I do New Year's Resolutions.

And I do them hard core. I brainstorm, I make lists and graphs and charts and spreadsheets and tables and outlines and calendars. And they are all color coded. I kid you not. I totally geek out with the resolutions thing.

So, this post will be a recap of last year's highlights and how I did with them. I won't go into major details. I have a 19 page document with the details. This will just be some highlights (still, it's a long post).

Later, I will post my resolutions for 2011.

2010 Goals - (Abstract versions)

I wanted more of the following:
Connection w/friends & family
Home cooking
Organized space in the apartment
Study time
Arts & Crafts
Job training/development
Rock climbing

I wanted less of the following:
Wasteful spending
Bugs (in the apartment, ew)
Romance novel reading (I figure I should be better using my time)

See why I'm just doing the recap here? I had very lofty goals. Here's how I did (don't worry, I didn't include the break down of how I would achieve the goals or the time lines or the outline or the charts or the...)...

I did okay with this. I got a gym membership and attended yoga classes irregularly.

Total fail on this one

Connection w/friends & family
I did so-so on this one, depending on the month. I made several visits to SC, did a much better job of writing my grandma, and I sort of improved the rate at which I answer and return calls - haha - I really, really hate cell phones. Anyway - I'm glad I had this goal because I did make an effort and do a little better, but I know I can improve a lot here.

BAHAHAH. This one lasted... oh... about two weeks? I really wanted to make home cooked meals for Derek because he cooks for me all the time. But yeah. I still suck at this one. Poor Derek.

Savings & Budgeting
I lumped these guys together. Derek and I did make a budget and we updated for maybe half the year? It was good practice to know how much we spend and stuff, so I want to do it again. But definitely did not maintain it. For savings, we have more money in savings now that we did this time last year, so awesome. I still want to set some more specific goals here because eventually we will be buying a house and a second car.

I did good when I wasn't getting hit by cars or having intestinal issues. I actually met all of my running goals for the year though, so I'm pretty happy here. Now I just want to keep it up and make my running more consistent. I ran a half-marathon and a 25K this year, but I didn't train at all for the 25K and that was just dumb. Derek got me a heart monitor for Christmas so I am super stoked to start using it with my training. Plus, I still have the ipod he gave me as a wedding present, so I really have no excuse not to run :)

Ugh. It is really hard to recycle in Tuscaloosa. There is no glass recycling, and no recycling pick up where we live. Derek has been stellar by taking our recycling to work, so that's helped. But it also makes a mess in the apartment because we have these piles of stuff to get recycled waiting around attracting icky bugs.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa. No, I did not succeed with any of my cleaning goals.

Organized Space
See the answer for 'cleaning'

Study Time
I over achieved on this goal, at least in terms of library school. The last month of summer was especially sucky. I swear I only slept 4-6 hours each night. No good.

Arts & Crafts
I did pretty good with this over the summer. I made several gifts of jewelry, scarves, a purse, and even a homemade chalk bag. Once school took over though, I definitely failed to keep this up.

Job Training
Even if we don't count school, I did pretty good here. I was able to take another cataloging class through work and I'm learning loads more about Voyager, MARC standards, and library life.

Rock Climbing
This one I will go ahead and post my sub-goals (I wrote up hard sub-goals for all of my abstract overall goals to measure my levels of achievement.) I had six:

1. Lead trad 5.9
I led three 5.7 on-sites, and led a couple 5.5-6 routes that I had climbed before. This doesn't seem like much, but I think I actually did more leading in the past year than any other year to date. So... improvement made, and more to follow :)

2. Lead sport 5.10
I actually attempted this!! It was so cool. But I failed. I fell twice and was too scared to continue.

3. Boulder V4
I came no where near this goal and don't really care. Bouldering is dumb.

4. Do a summer trip

5. Learn to rescue a leader or a second
Theoretically, done. But I'd like a lot more practice. And I need to go over some knots again

6. Do an all day climb
Note: not climb all day, but 'an all day climb' - a single climbing route that literally takes a whole day to do.
I think done? It took us all day cause I was there and I'm slow... :)

Overall, I'm pleased with the climbing improvement and I want to continue on this path. Like running and yoga, I want to make this activity a more consistent/regular part of my life. I seem to go in extreme spurts, where I train hard and do really well, then either get hurt or just fizzzle out. I want to maintain my momentum.

Less Negativity
I couldn't think of how to make hard goals and measure this one... any ideas for next year?

Less Caffeine
There were actually several weeks in 2010 wherein I did not have any caffeine at all. Aaaaand then there was at least one month (maybe two) when I ODed on caffeine almost every day to keep up with my school work... school seems to have had a bad influence on the rest of my life...

Less Wasteful spending
This got put under saving/budgeting.

Less Hypochondria
See the answer to negativity. I did have what seems like a ton of legitimate health problems this year - MRSA, shoulder sprain, getting hit by a car, acid reflux, tonsil infection, tonsillectomy... Maybe I should just try for a year of better health? That could be measured by sick days and doctors visits and stuff like that...

Bugs (in the apartment, ew)
Definite improvement here. After many discussions with the land-lady, Derek and I took matters into our own hands and fixed several structural problems with the apartment that had been allowing bugs to get in.

Less Romance novel reading (I figure I should be better using my time)
Yeah. Once school started, this dropped off significantly. I still have binges and read 5 books on an odd weekend. But overall, I just don't have time for it very often anymore.

That's it for the recap! I'm way open to comments and suggestions for next year. Also, if you are doing resolutions and want to post them here or in your blog, I would love to read them!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Crazy Christmas Eve...

Today was day seven post-tonsillectomy. Because I had been doing so well and I was getting more than a little stir crazy, I was a bit less careful this morning when getting out of the shower. And so it shouldn't have been a surprise when I leaned my head over to towel dry my hair that my mouth filled with blood.

I broke the scab that was covering my right tonsil... well, the space where my tonsil used to be.

It was kind of a scary way to start Christmas Eve. I spit the blood into the bathroom sick, but my mouth quickly filled again. I walked out to the kitchen, grabbing my ice-water on the way to start my ice-water gargle as per our prior instructions from the doctor. I spit the next mouth full of blood into the kitchen sink. Ick.

I got Derek's attention and began my gargle. Only, every time I leaned my head back to gargle, I felt the blood draining down the back of my throat. My wonderful imagination shot between images of me throwing up all the blood I swallowed (because you do that with blood. ew. and ouuuuuch. and dang that would probably break open the scabs more and cause more bleeding...) and choking to death on my own blood.

Don't you loooove my imagination?

I altered tactics and started swishing the ice-water before spitting it into the sink. That helped a bit, but each spit was still pretty bloody. I grabbed an ice-pack out of the freezer and slapped that against my neck for good measure.

Meanwhile, Derek had been trying to get in touch with the doctor and been providing me with a continuous supply of ice-water. He got through to a someone who said they would page the doctor. We waited for the call back.

Thankfully, as I continued with the ice-water, the bleeding began to slow and by the time the doctor called back it had actually stopped on its own. I was gratefully surprised because the doctor had warned me if bleeding occurred, they may have to go in surgically to re-cauterize the wound.

The doctor gave us instructions for the rest of the day. All liquid diet, no laying down, no moving around, and of course lots and lots of ice-water. We followed it pretty strictly, with no problem. I did spent most of the morning with bloody tasting burps.

Fun eh?

It actually turned into a pretty awesome Christmas Eve, despite the rough start. Derek and I played a game, opened our presents, and watched Elf. And the Christmas episodes of South Park. We've been watching waaay to much South Park, haha.

That's all for now. I will be much more careful until the tonsils are fully healed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tonsillectomy Update

Surgery went well on Friday and I am getting plenty of rest now. Derek and Mom are taking good care of me. No crazy-susan stories that I am aware of. No ill effects from the drugs. Will update later with Christmas crafts, but right now I'm going back to sleep :)

Thanks everyone for the positive thoughts and prayers. Things have been going much better than I expected :)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Derek and I are about to go to the hospital. We have to be there at 8:15, surgery is scheduled to start at 10:15, and we hope to be back home by 3:00. I'll post any funny susan-is-crazy-when-drugged-up stories if there are any :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Crafts: Dough Ornaments

Between school, work, and health issues I've had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. We only just got our decorations up this past weekend, and even though Christmas is next week I haven't even started on my homemade gifts yet (except Ryan's - his I've been working on since this summer).

So, in an effort to jump start my holiday cheer, I'm going to post some of my favorite Christmas crafts from season's past.

Here is an adapted dough ornament recipe:

Dough Ornament Recipe
4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup salt
1 1/2 Cups cold water
cookie cutters
Ribbons for hangers

In mixing bowl add flour and salt together. Slowly add water while stirring with a fork until soft dough forms. Turn out on lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, adding a small amount of water or flour, if needed. Roll dough on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Place ornaments 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. With a drinking straw, poke holes in the top for hanging. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely. You can paint ornaments or leave as is.

The original can be found at:

You can make several little changes to 'spice' up the ornaments. For example, you can add cinnamon to the dough to make a scented ornament. While I haven't actually done this yet myself, I've been thinking it would be fun to make these ornaments with different spices and/or essential oils to use as air fresheners around the house.

Some of you may know that Derek has pretty extreme allergies, so we cannot use traditional air fresheners or anything with perfume in it (even your typical house-hold cleaners and detergents will aggravate his allergies). However, cooking spices and the scents caused by them do not bother his nose at all. I think this will be a fun way to add Christmas smells and other scents back into our home :)

Here are some pictures of different flour ornaments to get some creative ideas going. All of these photos are stolen from the internet (google image search).

You can see that you can do a pretty wide variety of things to make different ornaments. Hope y'all give it a try and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy Hump Day

This morning was my pre-admission appointment for Friday's surgery. At this point, I've heard enough horror stories from Jim-bob and Betty-sue that I'm ready for a good old fashioned freak out session. Thankfully, they're gonna knock me out for the whole thing so I won't have the chance to wig-out during surgery (as I have done before...).

Interesting tidbit that I guess I should have expected:

I will have a breathing tube (be intubated? sp?) for the surgery. That will be a first for me

In other news, tomorrow is our work Christmas party - pretty much an all day eating-fest. I'm pretty happy about that. Going to bake some cookies for it tonight with Derek & Garrett.

Garrett is here for a short visit, then when he heads home to his folks' house my mama will be coming. She's going to help Derek help me post-surgery.

I think that's all the big news I have right now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

School Update...

... I officially lost my 4.0

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tashka Trail Run - Done!


Haha, I'm quite happy to say that I finished the race. It was a lot of fun, but I really need to train if I'm going to keep doing this. I am soooo sore!

I finished the 25K (15 miles) in 3 hours and 30 minutes (13:31 mile pace), and I placed 64th out of 84th racers (male & female). So yeah, I came in closer to last that the middle. But, I actually did much better than the last race where I ran 13 miles in 3 hours and 23 minutes (15:40 mile pace).

Here's the link to the race results:

And because I did this for the last race, here were my thoughts during certain points of the run:

Start of the Race:
Why am I the only person with a backpack??

Mile One, I'm at the head of the pack:
Hahaha, suckers! I'm gonna crush this race!

Mile Two, I'm getting passed by everyone as I slow down:
aaawww craaaaaap....

Mile Four, 1st aid station, where I was informed that it was 'mile 7 or 8':
I am making AWESOME time! This is AWESOME I'm halfway done and I only feel like I've run 4 miles!!!

Mile Eight, 2nd aid station, where I was informed of the correct mileage:

Mile 10ish I almost tripped over this runner who collapsed on the path in front of me from leg craps:

Mile 13, I was informed "You're almost done, only two miles left, and they're a lot of fun":

Mile 13-15 turned about to be the hardest two miles of the course, with hills so steep it would be pretty much a death wish to actually try and run them:

Mile 15, flat road race finish:
Thank you sweet perfect little baby Jesus!!!

Derek met me at the last quarter mile and ran to the finish with me. And then he took care of me all weekend because I was completely destroyed. He rocks :)

Not sure if there will be any pictures - the photographers took some during the race, but I don't know if I'm in any. Will post if I see some.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tashka Trail Run - Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the Tashka Trail Run. I am just going to do the 25K instead of the 50K. The weather looks like it will be chilly, but the rain should hold off until the race is done - as long as I run fast. Cold rain = good motivator to keep moving.

I'm off to go pick up my race packet and get in a good meal! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

umm... stuff


Last night was my last night of class/exams. Pretty sure I dropped a letter grade in 507... it was bad. WHAT THE HELL IS LION?!?!

Has been crazy busy. I now know the extreme importance and/or lack thereof of MARC21 fields 020, 100, 245, 246, 300, 500, 505, 700, 710, & 856. I also know that the indicators are kind of a freaking big deal.

Hasn't happened in way too long

I run the Tashka Trail Run this coming Saturday... or I might just go climbing instead.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Webmaster Position

Yeah, I'm giving up on the 30 day challenge thing. I've got news!!

I am one of the two new Webmasters for the Library Student Journal!

It is a volunteer position, and I will get to learn & do all sorts of cool web things. I'm really looking forward to being a part of the student team that puts the journal together. Since it is going to require so much work, I'm thinking about only taking two classes in the spring rather than three. The class I would have to give up is my computer class though, which would actually help me do the job a lot better... so I'm not sure.

Anyway, YAY!!!!!! I'm so excited!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tashka Trail Run - Question

So - I had originally signed up for the 50K Tashka Trail Run. However, since I haven't done a good job of training (due to the intestinal issues) I decided to just run the 25K. I figured:

1) it would be unhealthy for me to run 50K without training and,
2) I probably wouldn't be able to run fast enough to make the 50K cut-off times.

Soooo, I just did the math for the cut off times, and I only have to run a minimum of 17 minute miles.... which is really equivalent to fast-paced hike for me. So I'm wondering - should I go ahead the 50K?

The race is on December 11th, and to be completely honest I have not been training at all. I pretty much lost all motivation to when I decided to just do the 25K because I know that I can get off the couch and finish a 25K with no issues. I may be slow, but I can go the distance.

Other things to know: 50K = 30 miles, which is a couple miles longer than a marathon. 25K = 15 miles, which is a couple miles longer than a half-marathon. The longest I have ever run at one time was 13 miles.

Thoughts? Advice?

Day 14 - Your earliest memory.

I'm not sure which of these came first, so I'm going to give them both.

Memory Uno
The day our family picked up Mindy, my first dog. I remember looking at her through a chain link fence. Mindy was pretty much the best dog ever. She would sometimes sleep in my bed with me at night, she would play with us in the backyard. One time she even got stuck with me at the bottom of the huge hill in our back yard because it was slicked down with ice in the winter. She protected us from snakes and was pretty much the best guiding guard dog ever. Mindy died on February 5th, 2000.

Memory Dos
I remember Dad letting me strum his guitar while he played the cords. I know I was pretty young in this memory because we didn't have the addition on the house yet, and the striped yellow-ish low couch was in the front room.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 13 - Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.

Brevard, NC
Boulder, CO
Gatlinburg, TN

Joshua Tree
The Gunks (again)
Nantucket (again)
Red Rocks

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 12 - Bullet your whole day.

I'm skipping some days because they were stupid. Here is my Monday in bullets:

  • 6:00 AM Alarm goes off
  • 6:30 AM craaaaawl out of bed
  • Got ready for work
  • 7:30 AM Derek dropped me off at work
  • Spent morning fixing errors in the library catalog
  • 11:30 AM LUNCH BREAK
  • Mad dash to Publix
  • 11:45 AM bought giant turkey for SLIS potluck
  • 12:00 PM delivered turkey to SLIS
  • Turkey was hot, I burned my hands
  • 12:30 PM Lunch break officially over
  • Mad dash back to work
  • 12:45 PM ate protein bar since I didn't actually get to eat lunch
  • 4:45 PM work day done
  • Mad dash to back to SLIS for Town Hall Meeting
  • 5:00 PM Town Hall Meeting starts
  • 6:00 PM Meeting over
  • Time to start on library homework!
  • 6:15 PM lost in basement of library
  • 6:30 PM met up with classmates to finish library homework
  • 7:30 PM starving, gave up on homework
  • 7:45 PM picked up Derek & pizza for dinner
  • 8:45 PM realized pizza was a baaaaad choice
  • 10:40 PM still feeling effects of pizza
  • 11:40 PM stared at ceiling while trying to fall asleep
  • Pizza was a baaaad choice
That was my Monday!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 08 - A moment you felt the most satisfied with your life.


I've had many super satisfying moments in my life. None really stands out as being way better than all others. Maybe when I pop out a kid, that will be the moment.

For now, here are some super high highlights:

  1. The first time got Lucy to stop crying all by myself.
  2. Any time I lead a climbing route
  3. Passing the AP US History exam in high school
  4. All that graduating & school stuff I've done
  5. Finishing the Twisted Ankle Trail Run
  6. Every day of my honeymoon
  7. The day I was offered the job at HSL. I pulled over the car and did a screaming happy dance on the side of the road. I got a lot of honks.
This list could go on a very long time :) but we'll cap it here because I have loads of work to be doing!

Is this real life?

Clearly I fell off the 30 day challenge bandwagon. Sorry about that. I went climbing. And then work and school happened again. And this Thursday is Thanksgiving, so I've been trying to get ready for that. So I'll update on real life then return to the 30 day challenge fun.

Derek and I went to T-Wall Thursday through Saturday and it was super fantastically amazing. A much needed break from library land. Garret joined us for the second half of the trip and it was awesome to see him too.

I led three 5.7's - Nappy, Plastic Toys, and NutraSweet. It took me about an hour to do each one, and I maaaaay have freaked out a bit on Plastic Toys (hilarious since that one is actually the least physically demanding of the three). But I'm still pretty happy about the leads. I want to go back and try some more T-Wall 5.7's until I"m comfortable enough/competent enough that I can lead any of them in 30 minutes.

I also belayed two seconds for the first time - and daaaang was that hard to keep up with. I got my ropes all messy and sad. But it worked. I guess. I need way more practice on that front.

My two classes are wrapping up for the semester, and it is definitely crunch time. Really, I should be doing homework and not blogging. But whatever. My brain needs a break from library stuff. I'm registered for my Spring classes. I'm going to take my last core class and and do an independent study. I had planned on doing a third course (which would make me a full-time student), but I no longer think that would be wise. I have enough demands on my time without doing school AND work full-time.

One of those demands that I don't think I've blogged on yet is that I am the president of the Student Advisory Council/Committee (hah. I seriously can't remember which it is - we just call it SAC). We've already participated in 3 events, and this semester's SAC has only been up and running a month. Pure insanity that is. But it's totally worth the intense time commitment. I'm getting to know my classmates so much better than I had been by just going to class. Plus, I'm forced to deal with my fear of public speaking - accck, LOL!

Still loving it. Pretty excited that some of my school work is going to be applicable to my work work.

Tonsillectomy is still scheduled for December 17th.

I think that's it for now. 30 Day Challenge to be continued...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 07 - Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality.

Definition from some woo-woo website:

Leo is a Fixed Fire sign ruled by the Sun. As the fifth sign in the zodiac, the Leo individual is ambitious, confident, independent, loyal and generous. These are magnetic and influential people who are especially in their element when they have an appreciative audience.

Leo is thought of as a "royal" sign due to their symbol, the lion or king of the jungle, and is smart and refined, though this very feature of their personality may subject them to become somewhat vain and overbearing.

As Leo is ruled by the Sun, the Leo personality at its best is that of a bright, shining light that easily holds all its subjects within a safe, secure orbit around itself. These are warm, caring, giving people who will make it their mission to make the lives of those around them very comfortable as long as they feel appreciation for their efforts. However, without enough appreciation, Leo can become domineering, bossy, and stubborn, believing they are right and everyone else is wrong. Leos are also extremely sensitive to criticism and will rarely forgive a perceived slight. The Leo personality is intelligent and motivated, and often seeks out situations that put them in the spotlight, where they can be very effective. Again, however, if the ego is left unchecked, some Leos may become quite arrogant, doing things that are not acceptable "because they can."

My thoughts:


Okay, this is fun.

In certain situations I can be anything listed above. But that's the key to writing good woo-woo.

I do think I'm typically a bright/shiny person, big on smiling. I do enjoy helping people and I do enjoy getting credit. I love telling stories and being the center of attention when I know what is expected of me and what to do. But if I am at all unsure, I am extremely uncomfortable being the center of attention. Ex: public speaking = horrifying, acting in a play = fantastic fun. And yeah, I totally hold a grudge when I shouldn't. I should probably knock that off.

Posting this early cause I am going CLIMBING!!!

Day 06 - Write 30 interesting facts about yourself.

  1. I climb rocks
  2. Drugs in the Valium family induce panic attacks for me
  3. I have run a half-marathon
  4. I'm going to run another half-marathon next month
  5. I am terrified of water, spiders, public speaking, and wearing shorts
  6. My patron saint is Teresa de Lisieux
  7. I'm in library school
  8. I'm crafty - I like to make jewelry, sew, knit, paint, write
  9. I am completely tone deaf
  10. I love gardening
  11. If I have a daughter I would like to name her Joanna Marie after my mother & sister & me
  12. I am NOT pregnant. #11 is a couple years off still
  13. I feel like I try just about anything once. gymnastics, ballet, violin, guitar, kayaking...
  14. I did not realize it would be so hard to think of 30 things; I love talking about me; this should be easier
  15. I SHOULD be doing my homework right now. It's totally due tomorrow.
  16. I am addicted to romance novels and I really want to write one someday
  17. Okay, yeah, I'm totally working on two right now, but they don't count because I've been working on them off and on for yeeeaaars now
  18. I love sleeping where I can see stars
  19. I am a champ at yoga
  20. I have three potential dream careers: being a PhD librarian teaching & doing research at a university, owning my own rock climbing gym, owning my own romance novel book store with local artist crafts. pretty sure I can pull any one of those off while being a mommy.
  21. Crown me queen for list making
  22. A dirty bathtub really bothers me
  23. holy cow this is taking forever
  24. I have been baptized twice; once by my dad in the chilly ocean off of Nantucket, and once by my priest to make sure it stuck LOL
  25. I have never broken a bone
  26. I have been hit by a car while jogging
  27. I have partially dislocated my shoulder
  28. I'm not sure how many concussions I have had... helmets are clutch
  29. I have gotten into a fist fight. but I was wearing a mascot costume at the time, so my punches were kind of off
  30. I have climbed higher than some passenger jet engines cruise

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 05 - A time you thought about ending your own life.

Haha, yeah. Because that's an appropriate topic for a public blog. However, since I've blown off the past two challenge-posts I will tell about a time I thought I was going to die. Well, one of a few times when I thought I was going to die. Sorry to those of you who already know this story.

About two weeks before Derek and I got married, we decided to go kayaking for the very first time. I know - right? Stupid, stupid plan.

Anyway, Derek and I went kayaking with my brother, David, and an experienced kayaker friend whose name I can't remember so we're gonna call him Pete. This was David's first time kayaking too. You see how this is getting set-up for major badness?

Pete got us ready to go in our kayaks and we went over a few basics of kayaking - how to paddle, what is an eddy, etc. Then, without so much as a practice-roll or wet exit, we paddled off into the rapids. The first rapid we tried went well - it was just a watery hole with no major rocks to knock us around. Feeling fortified, we hiked up river to try out a 'technical class three.' The classes of rapids go from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most challenging. A class 6 is considered impossible. Again, do you see how this is getting set up for major badness??

Pete paddled down the rapid first, and I was supposed to follow his line. Derek and David would follow me. I had almost made it to the end of the rapid went I overbalanced my boat and flipped upside-down. I remembered to lean forward onto my boat to protect my body from any rocks. It was a good thing I did because the water was so shallow that I immediately became pinned between the a rock and my boat, with my back against the rock and my all-of-me under water....

At this point, I was supposed to 'pull my skirt' - the waterproof fabric that was keeping me stuck in the boat so I could do a 'wet-exit' - get suctioned out of my boat by the water rushing into it, and swim to the surface (or in this case, just stand up). Eyes closed and breath held, I reached for the loop to pull my skirt loose. I pulled.

And nothing happened.

I pulled again.

Nothing happened.

I began yanking on the thing frantically to get it off as my lungs began to burn. Because of the way I was pinned and my complete lack of arm strength, I didn't have the leverage I needed to pop the skirt. It was at this point that I realized I could die in the next couple of minutes - literally.

Meanwhile, above the surface. Derek and David had been starting at the top of the rapid when they saw me flip. David, distracted by my situation, lost his concentration on his own paddling and also flipped.

Back beneath the water, I continued to pull at the skirt until I realized I could not hold my breath any longer. This probably only took 30 seconds since I was pretty much in panic mode. But it felt like forever. Still pinned against a rock, it hit me that no one was coming to rescue me. If I didn't want to drown, I had to do something and rescue myself. Then, I finally realized - I was pinned against a rock... and I was only in maybe one to two feet of water. Giving up on the pull-handle, I reached behind and pushed as hard as I could against the rock while craning my head over the side of my upside-down boat towards the surface.


But moving my boat caused it to get caught in the current again - and I was quickly shoved around and back under the water. As the boat shifted, I was pushed off of the rock and was left to flounder with no leverage once again. I went back to work on the pull-handle.

David, had been underwater when I got my gasp of air. He had quickly popped his skirt and was able to stand up, however he had not seen that I had been able to get air. As far as he know, I had been underwater for about a minute at this point. I'm pretty sure I scared a couple years off his life... (David, don't say anything if I got this part of the story wrong - it sounds super suspenseful like this)

As I continued to struggle with the pull-handle, I was running out of air once again. About ready to give up and try to push off whatever rocks I could find, my boat suddenly flipped upright - Pete had managed to paddle up the rapid to me, and was attempting to roll me upright. I got another gasp of air before we were both flipped back under the water.

This was where I got pissed off. I was not going to drown in one stupid foot of water. With the heat of my anger, I reached to pull the skirt handle again, throwing my weight back as a yanked on it - and POP! Water rushed into my boat, flushing me out. The water was shallow enough that I had to twist to get out from under the boat and wrenched my right knee.

And then I stood up.

Derek and David made it to me seconds later. I don't remember, but I"m pretty sure Pete got flushed back down the rapid - I made him lose his paddle when I flipped him or something like that. The entire ordeal took maaaybe 3 minutes. But I will never forget it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 04 - Your views on religion.

The maker of this challenge was clearly trying to provoke some controversial conversations.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 03 - Your views on drugs and alcohol.

Wow. What a boring topic.

My views on Drugs and Alcohol
1. Don't break the law
2. Don't be an ass

Yeap. Pretty much sums it up for me!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 02 - Where you’d like to be in 10 years.

In ten years... I will be 36. Dear sweet lord.

I hope that I will be a mom.

And I hope I will be back in school for my PhD in Library Science. And leading any 5.9 trad route that I find. I hope I have run a marathon by then. And a home-owner with a kick-ass garden.

But I really want to be a mom.

Day 01 - Your current relationship status.


30 Day Bandwagon

I am copy-catting Jenn because this looks fun. However, there will be some days I skip... I might make up other funny things to say on those days instead.

Anywho - here is the list:

Day 01 - Your current relationship status.
Day 02 - Where you’d like to be in 10 years.
Day 03 - Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 04 - Your views on religion.
Day 05 - A time you thought about ending your own life.
Day 06 - Write 30 interesting facts about yourself.
Day 07 - Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality.
Day 08 - A moment you felt the most satisfied with your life.
Day 09 - How you hope your future will be like.
Day 10 - Discuss your first love and first kiss.
Day 11 - Put your ipod on shuffle and write 10 songs that pop up.
Day 12 - Bullet your whole day.
Day 13 - Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.
Day 14 - Your earliest memory.
Day 15 - The reason behind the name of your tumblr.
Day 16 - Your views on mainstream music.
Day 17 - Your highs and lows of this past year.
Day 18 - Your beliefs.
Day 19 - Disrespecting your parents.
Day 20 - How important you think education is.
Day 21 - One of your favorite shows.
Day 22 - How have you changed in the past 2 years?
Day 23 - Give pictures of 5 famous guys who you find attractive.
Day 24 - Your favorite movie and what it’s about.
Day 25 - Someone who fascinates you and why.
Day 26 - What kind of person attracts you.
Day 27 - A problem that you have had.
Day 28 - Something that you miss.
Day 29 - Goals for the next 30 days.
Day 30 - Your highs and lows of this month.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Health Update

Sooooo..... The ENT says the tonsils must go. I'm getting them sliced-and-diced out on December 17th, and will hopefully be recovered enough to enjoy Christmas the following week. I'm taking at least one week off of work, potentially two.

The timing is actually pretty good - I will be on break from school; it will be after my half-marathon, and a little more than month before my next climbing competition. Plus, I've met my insurance deductible for the year (thanks to the ridiculous number of doctor's visits and tests I've had) so I won't have to pay more than a facility fee.

Once the tonsils are gone, the ENT, GI and my family doctor all think my GI issues will resolve as well. I hope they are right!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CT Scan Results

Sooooo.... nothing is wrong with me. At least, that's what the CT scan says. I have an appointment next week with an Ear, Nose, & Throat specialist to figure out why my 'normal' tonsils are producing boogers of puss that make me puke. Yeah, that's right - boogers of puss.


I really can't believe Derek still kisses me. I sure wouldn't.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


So, it's been a couple weeks. Here's what's been happenin'

Got a CT scan yesterday. Horrible and horribly funny. It really wouldn't have been a bad experience except that I'm apparently quiet terrified of all things hospital. I cried when they stuck me in the swirlie tube of death and I squealed when the contrast-drug thing made my arm burn. I also got jabbed in an artery, so there was a pretty huge bubble of blood under my skin. Looked like somebody crammed a golf ball in there.

Anywho - the CT scan was done to check out my tonsils b/c I'm on day....17 of antibiotics and still infected.

Still having intestinal issues, although they have improved since I have: started a new medicine; stopped sleeping laying down; stopped drinking coffee; stopped eating for 2 hours before bed; stopped eating meal-sized meals. I still haven't gotten my EGD - my fault because the doctor freaks me the heck out and I don't want to see him. I'm gonna find someone else.

In other news:

I've been raising a ruckus at school, trying to get classes scheduled. I have a feeling I am not my professors' favorite student right now. I'm president of the Student Advisory Council... which apparently doesn't work well if you also work full-time. I hope I can pull it off.

I took my first out-door whipper while climbing (big fall where you smack into the rock). I screamed like a tiny little girl with very large lungs. But I was quite unharmed and tried the climb again. And then gave up when I fell again. That route was "Thin in the Middle" at Sandrock, and I hope to go back and try it again. I did manage to lead "My Dog has Fleas" thanks to so awesome encouragement from my fellow climbers.

I've got to run to class now, so that's it for now. I've got a doctor's visit tomorrow to find out about the CT scan... wish me luck!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


For the first time in a couple of weeks, I was actually able to finish my breakfast this morning! And so far I haven't puked!


I did go back to see a different doctor yesterday to get some more complete & aggressive treatment (cause - hey - when your patient has a tonsil infection on top of all this other crap, you should probably still treat said tonsil infection). The doctor wanted to draw new labs to recheck the possibility of stomach ulcers along with checking to see if maybe I have Mono. They also confirmed what I was already pretty sure of - I have lost 4 pounds in a little over a week.

Hopefully things will continue to improve now. I still have an appointment with a GI guy later this month. I'll feel a lot more comfortable when they have a definite diagnosis to go with all these drugs they are giving me!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smoothie Recipe

I decided to try some more mushy-type foods since I'm having problems with my innards. I'm super excited about this smoothie recipe because it involves me eating cottage cheese (super high in protein) without having to TASTE or feel the texture of cottage cheese

Mix in yo blender:
1 C of frozen mixed berries
1/4 C frozen yogurt, plain
1/4 C cottage cheese
1/4 milk (more if you want it smoother)

This madness will get you a berry flavored smoothie treat for a total of 190-ish calories, about 25% of your DV of calcium and 11 smacking grams of protein. You'll get some little bits of vitamin D, vitamin C, and fiber but nothing spectacular. I'm thinking this will be an excellent post-workout recovery drink (after loads of water at least).

I tried it out, and I promise you cannot taste the cottage cheese at all. I'm even considering substituting all of the frozen yogurt for cottage cheese next time (that would bump the total protein up to 17 grams) - and I hate the taste of cottage cheese, so that should say something!

Anybody have any awesome smoothie recipes?

You'd think...

... that repeatedly puking coffee would make me not want coffee anymore. But amazingly enough, I could drink a fresh cup right after upchucking the last one...

Isn't that just gross?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My Hero - HyoMax

So I have this stomach problem. It's not an all-the-time problem, but when it's going on it's really no fun at all.

It makes me feel nauseous when I'm really hungry, makes me feel nauseous when I eat, and occasionally makes me regurgitate my food. When it gets extra bad, it makes me feel like my chest and throat are in a vice.

I've had this problem off and on for a good long while now, but lately it's gotten super bad. After some devoted praying at the porcelain altar, I decided to finally see a doctor about it. And you know what? It turns out that I'm not supposed to feel this way!

After discussing my symptoms, we narrowed down the potential culprits to a herniated esophagus, GERD, or IBS (or some combo). She gave me a couple of prescriptions and an appointment with a GI specialist to have a camera stuck down my throat to take some pretty pictures of my insides for a definitive diagnosis. That will happen later this month.

Back to those prescriptions.

So, I am taking HyoMax - a drug for IBS that is supposed to stop my GI organs from spazzing out all the time. It's like a tummy muscle relaxant, and holy crap does it feel strange to me. You know how sometimes when you wear something super tight and you walk around with your gut sucked in all day long - then you get home and put on you PJ's and let everything relax? That relaxed feeling after a day of sucking it in - THAT is what this feels like.

Like I can finally breathe. Like I've been sucking it in my entire life, and now I finally get to relax.

It's strange though. It makes me wonder if this is what everyone else with normal insides feels all the time. If so, no wonder people like eating!

Now, this hasn't exactly fixed all my issues. I'm still having crazy weird chest/throat tightness that is borderline painful (think like when you are running and get side-stitches, only in the center of your sternum and up through your throat). Also, while the relaxed tummy IS super awesome, it also makes me feel like I've got no abs and my stomach is just hanging out all over the place... disconcerting to say the least.

So, here's to hoping the GI guy has something definitive to say...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are you pregnant?

Foreword: This is an angry rant.

Yesterday I went home sick. On my way out the door, I was asked by one of our patrons why I was leaving. I informed him, "I'm going home sick." His reply was that of congratulations, because he assumed that I must be pregnant...


When I corrected him, that uh, no, I am not pregnant, he then decided that I MUST be having MENSTRUAL issues....


WTF?!? JACK ASS!!! (Side Note: don't yet have a diagnosis for my stomach issues, but have it narrowed down to a herniated esophagus, GERD, or IBS.)

I wish I could say that this is a unique occurrence - this thing where I say, "I don't feel well" and someone replies, "Are you pregnant?" but this actually happens with great frequency now that I am married. I know that I am married and female and of childbearing age, and many individuals in that category may choose to have children so some folks may jump to that conclusion if I complain about ::gasp:: nausea. However, my current status does not change the fact that my personal life choices are just that - personal. Personal as in NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS UNLESS I TELL YOU. Additionally, I find it inappropriate and disrespectful to brush aside a woman's illness based on a blatantly false presumption that was made with woefully few facts.

For those out there who do not understand why this is inappropriate, disrespectful, and downright thoughtlessly rude - let me explain.

When you respond to a woman's complaint of illness by asking if she is pregnant, you ASSume many things.

1st - YOU ASSume that the woman shares similar lifestyle choices as you and will be choosing to have children.

2nd - YOU ASSume that she is ABLE to have children. Have you ever taken one second to think about the men and women who are unable to conceive and how hurtful your comment could be to them??? NO. Because you ASSumed that they could have kids. Because you didn't think.

3rd - You are asking a woman a question in the workplace that you would NEVER ask a man. A question that could in fact endanger her career advancement prospects (no matter how forward thinking you may think your company is).

4th - You are presuming yourself to be someone who deserves details about this woman's personal life, when, guess what, you don't deserve to know jack-squat. If she doesn't want to tell you what "sick" means, then you don't get to know what "sick" means. Sick could mean a horrendous bout of diarrhea, or one nasty ooozing smelly yeast infection - would you like to have those details? huh?? Didn't think so.

5th - You are ignoring the fact that this woman is going home SICK. That means quite literally that she is sick. So she probably doesn't feel like getting interrogated or, just as bad, getting freaking "congratulated" when she is SICK.

6th - You make a woman think, "DO I FREAKING LOOK PREGNANT?!?"

Just some food for thought. Feel free to pass this along.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sending Sunday

The weather in Collinsville today holds a high temp of 65 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain - absolutely perfect weather for climbing! In a little while I'm meeting up with a freshly minted climbing buddy to drive out to Sandrock Alabama for the day.

Goals for the day:
- get new kid leading stuff on the boyscout wall & knob wall
- lead kennel club free
- maaaaybe lead that 5.10 on holiday block to the left and down of kennel club

I say maaaaybe because holy crap that's a 5.10 - waaaay over my leading limit. However, it's a super soft ten and if I freak out while on trad lead, it is a bolted line so I can always switch over to sport... if I'm a pansy...

...and my sister is probably the only person who reads this blog who also will have any idea what i'm writing about here - LOL. sorry y'all.

I'm off to go climbing!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sleepy Sunrise

This morning was pretty much fabulous. My alarm went off at six o'clock, and I realized that I did not have to go to work today. The weather has cooled off, so I had the windows open to let in a cool breeze. After makings some coffee, I got cozy beneath my puffy comforter and simply enjoyed watching the morning arrive.

The sunlight played on the pine-needles of the tree by my window, and I watched outside as squirrels and birds chattered at each other while hunting up breakfast.

I re-did my to-do list to make it actually do-able. And I savored a morning of peacefulness - feeling the cool breeze on my face, smelling autumn in the air, sipping coffee, and being surrounded by the comfort of a warm, soft bed.


Now it's eleven o'clock, and I'm sitting down to lunch. I've already checked many things off my to-do list including a 2 mile run, meeting up with a friend, doing some Christmas shopping ($20 got me the craft supplies to make presents for 3 people!), getting quarters for laundry, running the dishwasher, filling up the car with gas, and returning a movie.

I've got everything I need to be productive at home and avoid the home-game-day-insanity if I want to. And I have plenty of time to get house cleaning & school work done before going climbing tomorrow.

All in all, a pretty awesome start to the weekend... it's nice to take a moment just to breath before the start of a day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Eat more chicken...

I'm giving up on this whole vegetarian thing... Well... At least for a while.

I've tried it more than once, and I've lasted longer this time than in the past - but it's time to call it quits again. This week every work-out has been harder and harder, even though it should have been easier and easier. I've done much better than in the past about keeping my iron levels up. But honestly, I'm just too damn tired all the time. And I've been eating crap I hate to get my protein levels up and it's just gross.

No more icky cottage cheese.

Cause - eew. Just eeew.

Once my 50K is done and once the climbing comp is over, I will probably try again. And I'm not going to go all out and eat a cow every night like every other typical American. But yeah... I'm gonna eat some chickens.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

To Do Lists....

You know my drill. Here's what I've got a week to do... that I can remember...

- Run sprints/hill for 2.5 miles
- Core work-out & shoulder PT

- pick up a car rental
- wave my love good bye as he leaves for a 2 week course in NC
- run 5 miles at a comfortable pace

- avoid game day stupids
- try not to get too mad because the library is closed from 5:00PM on Friday until Sunday afternoon for a Saturday home football game.
- run 10 miles at Lake Lurleen, because the gym will only be open for 3 hours or something stupid because of the stupid home football game.

- Climbing at Sandrock (all day event)

And somewhere during any of that:
- Finish the most insane library scavenger hunt ever
- Write an 8 page paper
- do a lot of reading
- apply for spring scholarships
- actually work on my research
- Get started on a 15 page paper
- dangit... I know I'm forgetting stuff...
- Schedule a physical

Monday, September 20, 2010

ALHeLA 2010

Last week I went to my first professional conference, the Alabama Health Library Association (ALHeLA) 2010 Annual Meeting in Birmingham. I am extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity through a generous scholarship. Overall I think I learned quite a bit. I was able to attend two classes by the NN/LM - one on website usability and the other on pubmed searching. I also met several awesome medical librarians and learned more about librarianship in Alabama.

Now it's time to catch up on my work and homework!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tashka Trail 50K

This is gonna hurt....

I will be running the Tashka Trail 50K this December 11th.

Here is the homepage for the run: Tashka Trail Home

Time to start training!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Sometimes life just makes me plain dizzy. And sometimes climbing does.

Last Sunday Derek and I got to spend a wonderful day climbing at Sandrock, Alabama. The weather was perfect with a warm breeze and fluffy clouds. Derek had several routes he wanted to do, most of which were way past my current physical abilities. I got pretty creative in my attempts to follow his leads, doing everything from placing & pulling on gear to hucking myself up & holding on just long enough for him to take up slack before falling off again.

It was frustrating at times, but a good work out and an obvious wake-up call for me to get back into shape. Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

Our last climb on Sunday was Derek's new project - a trad 5.12 that goes up a blank face to the underside of a short roof. Derek made it to the underside of the roof when he hit his physical/psychological wall and decided to try again another day. We climbed up a dirty 5.9 next to Derek's route so that we could rappel down & retrieve his gear before heading home.

At the top of Derek's 5.12, we set up for me to rap down first then Derek would follow. I was going to rappel using a gri-gri on a single fixed line of rope. After double checking the system, I stepped to the edge of the 50 foot cliff and looked down. And the world spun.

I closed my eyes, took a breath, and looked again. Still spinning.

Stepping back away from the edge, I looked at Derek, at our anchor, and at my attachment points to check again that everything was correct. I was not keen on stepping off a cliff to free fall to my death. I realized that I had not had enough to eat or drink, which was the most likely culprit for my dizziness. I understood that my body's reaction was something I would have to overcome if I wanted to get off that stupid cliff. So I checked everything again. I made Derek check everything again.

And then I backed up to the edge and stepped off.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going to B'ham!!!

Yup. I'm going to the ALHeLA meeting in Birmingham next week!!! :) So stoked!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cross your fingers...

Today is the deadline for an essay scholarship competition. The scholarship will provide the winner with funds to attend the 2010 Alabama Health Libraries Association (ALHeLA) Annual Meeting in Birmingham. I submitted my essay for the contest last week.

If I win, this will be my first ever professional conference - and I am soooo excited about the possibility. I would love the chance to network with other librarians, attend one of the classes, visit the Lister Hill Library, and listen to the speaker - Dr. Hendricks.

The class I want to attend is also super relevant to one of my work projects, and the research I am going to be doing next semester. It concerns website usability and accessibility, and it is being given by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM). They are a pretty legit organization and have one of the most accessible websites I've seen so far in my studies. I am confident that these folks know a great deal on the topic, and that I would learn a lot in this class.

This conference would also be my first time actually visiting Birmingham, which is kind of insane since I live only about an hour away from the city and drive through it on nearly a monthly basis. I hope I get the chance to change that.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. I don't know if I won, and if I didn't win then I won't be attending the conference.... so... cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Caving & Canoeing - PICTURES!!!

To see all of our caving pictures, you can (hopefully) follow this link: public photo album

Here are some highlights

Canoeing to the cave...

Above: Maggie & Sam
Above: Linda
Below: Derek
Below: Green goo!!!

Into the cave!
Below: Me in front of one of the "burrow" like cave entrances
Above: Derek & Linda in one of the tunnel intersections
Below: active stalactites - don't touch!

Above: cool cave stuff...
Below: Maggie & me!

Above: Sam chillaxing
Below: Tunnel of Death.... (my name for it anyway...)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Canoeing and Caving

This is a long-ass post. Also, profanity is used. Also, I switch tenses a lot. I am not going back to edit it. Pictures will follow in the next post.

Sunday found me participating in two activities that I would not typically pursue on my own - canoeing and caving. For those of you who do not know this already, I am quite terrified of both water and tight spaces. Silly right? That's what I think. It is silly for me to be scared of these things.

So when Derek asked me if I wanted to come along to scout the canoeing/caving Outdoor Rec trip, I said yes. I saw this as an opportunity to face my fears, and help him as I would be an ideal 'test participant' for the trip that will take place next month.

Overall, the day was a success in terms of helping calm my fears and scouting out an ideal trip for the future participants. However, there were some interesting moments that I'd like to share for giggles & groans...

Here we go:
The cave system we went to is accessible via a flat stream. Since we had 2 canoes and 5 scouts (including me), we had to stick 3 people in one boat. I jumped on the chance to sit in the middle of a canoe and not paddle - woohoo lazy me! That also meant that I got to take pictures and read the map. It's nice being a test participant. I felt positively luxurious as I sat in a boat and got paddled to our destination. It was also nice not having to worry about maneuvering the boat, and I think that helped me not freak out about the whole water thing.

The stream itself was very calm, but not pristine. It was filled with downed trees, trash, and creepy green goo that made navigation rather interesting. At one point, we had to step out of our canoes and onto a downed tree, pull our canoes over the downed tree, and get back into them on the opposite side. It was pretty interesting to me, and I was pleasantly unafraid through the entire tree-hop operation.

After 2 to 3 miles of paddling, we banked the boats and made the short hike to the cave entrances.

Up until this point, I had been thinking "we are going to a 'walking cave' that is well established and marked and mapped and frequently traveled and big and open and not a big scary deal at all..."


The cave entrance was a freaking hole in the ground that looked like an animal's burrow.... I really thought everyone was joking when they said that we were going in that thing.

Derek, my love, went in first and coaxed me, silly me, to follow. Following meant sliding in head first on my belly into the tunnel of darkness. Scurrying in a bit further over loose leaves and rocks so others could follow, Derek and I made it into a passage way where we could stand. Looking around, we saw graffiti stating "Welcome to Hell" and other less pleasant obscenities... such a marvelous beginning...

Once we were all in, there was a review of a map before we set off into the darkness. Think Lord of the Rings when Gandalf knows things are screwed and you know things are screwed but everyone keeps walking deeper into the dark dwarf city anyway. That's about how I was feeling right then.

We journey through fairly open passage ways until we reach the "Party Room" - more creative phrases in graffiti. We decide to try and find the "Sword Room" which is located in the far north east section of the cave (I think... maybe...), so we head out of the Party Room into a passageway that quickly shrinks in size.

What starts as walking becomes hunched over walking, becomes single file hands & knees crawling, becomes army belly crawl through a tunnel. I'm sure you can imagine my elation at this point in our journey.

As we crawl, I notice that everything sounds weird. It took me a moment to realize that what I was hearing was the sound of our knees and elbows bumping against a hollow sandstone floor.... this is where my yoga breathing comes in handy.

Breath in ::one two three:: breath out:: one two three. Schooch an inch forward. Repeat.

We finally get to an intersection of tunnels tall enough that we can all sit (not stand) within eye sight of each other and discuss our options. The tunnel continues in the direction we need to go to find the Sword Room, however it is doubtful that participants going on this trip will be up for the type of belly crawling we've been doing. We decide to go back to the party room and try to find a walking path going the correct direction.

Thank you God.

Crawling back through the tunnel of death to get to the Party Room, it is easy to imagine the cave collapsing in on me and crushing me to death. Breath in ::one two three:: breath out:: one two three. Schooch an inch forward. Repeat.

Back in the Party Room, my heart pitter pattters its thanks for the open space. I make sure to look at the map and give my two cents about the direction we should take. We decide to try a path that stays closer to the cave entrances (there are actually about 4 'burrow' entrances to this cave and we had come in the one furthest from the Sword Room) in hopes that the path would stay walkable.

It didn't.

Before long we were scurrying forward single file on our elbows and knees again. Keep in mind that once we start crawling through these tunnels, it if physically impossible to turn around - there simply is not enough room. As we continued through the tunnel, more and more I was noticing side passage ways that had loose rocks and roots dangling in. We could smell the earth (and poop?!), and I knew we were relatively close to the surface. Rather than finding this comforting, it made me more anxious. To my thinking, if roots were popping through and centipedes were walking past then this area was more dirt than rock, and dirt freaking moves. More imaginings of cave-ins flashed through my mind...

Once again we found an intersection that offered just enough room for us to squeeze together and plan. In this intersection I could not stand, sit up straight, or even lay flat - there simply was not enough room. I felt as though we were breathing each others' breathe, we were packed so tight. At this point, I couldn't help it - I started crying.

Don't worry, I kept myself decent. It wasn't a sobbing, panicked cry - just the quiet sniffles of the hopelessly, helplessly miserable. And here's the funny part - after this moment my memory is completely blacked out until the point when we were crawling out of an exit tunnel (not the same one we came in). Seriously, I cannot tell you what happened between here and there. I'm guessing there were more tunnels.

Fun times, eh?

Anyway, jumping past my memory lapse, we found an exit at the end of a long narrow crawling tunnel. Enter sunshine and open spaces!

Then we find yet another entrance and decide to go in it. Enter feelings of dread.

Sam volunteers to go in first. This entrance is yet another one of those 'belly crawl into a hole that looks like an animal burrow' type thing. I watched as his wiggling feet disappear into the earth. It reminded me of that movie Tremors where the giant monster worms pull people into the ground and eat them. After a moment he starts to give us the 'go ahead' to follow him in, when abruptly he interrupts himself yelling, "oh shit oh shit oh shit"

Oh shit.

He quickly explains that a six foot snake is curled around a stalactite which hangs over the entrance he just passed under. There is no way for him to come back out or for us to go in without passing under the snake, which started unraveling itself from the stalactite as he spoke.... The probability of us finding Sam in the cave from a different entrance seems chancy, so after a brief hesitation Sam makes a 'run' for the cave entrance.

I put 'run' in quotes because the entrance was a belly crawl... Seconds later, we see Sam shoot out of the little hole, pop up, run to the woods' edge, and do the 'heebie jeebie' dance of the freaked-out. Dude is brave. I did a little heebie jeebie dance of my own just thinking about what he had done.

Seems like a good time to go home, yeah? Did we no home? Nooooo.....

We go back to the main entrance. We still needed to find a 'walking' path through this cave to take participants on. At the entrance, we all fidgeted around - no one wanted a repeat of the snake experience. Derek, my love, goes first...

Nooooobody follows.

Derek calls back out, coaxing folks to come back in... Ugh... I man up, stick my head in the hole, and slide in after him. Dude should know that I love him. Cause holy crap.

This session of the cave exploration went much better. We did actually manage to find a loop through the cave that was mostly walking (a little bit of crawling, but not bad). We also managed to find our way back out through the main entrance without incident.

Back to the boats, we have quick paddle back to the cars and drive south to Tuscaloosa.

Scouting mission: success. i guess.