Monday, May 31, 2010

Our Spinning Orbit of the Sun

Time is a funny thing. This past weekend I got to go home to visit family in SC and NC. Throughout my journey, the relative importance time came to my attention.

As I drove from Alabama through Georgia to South Carolina and back, I had to keep track of time as it passed in the Mountain, Central, and Eastern time zones. The seemingly appropriate times for me to go to bed or wake up varied by the 'home' time zone of the person I was talking to and inevitably there was always someone I could or could not call while on the road because of time.

When I finally did make it to South Carolina, one of the things that caught my attention were the changes and lack of changes since the last time I had been there. One of my favorite restaurants in Lexington, the Deli, still offers the same sandwich I always order and the restaurant is still owned by the same family. But now there is no smoking inside (yay!) and the new waitress doesn't know that I am a 'regular' customer. The guys at Frank's Discount Tire still remember me though and take care of my care as if I were their little sister. They have taken care of my vehicles for ten years now and still laugh when I can't figure out little things like how to tighten the cables on my car battery. It was as though I never left.

Hanging out with my family, we all still have the same hopes and pipe dreams for the future despite the blows life has given us. We still complain about the same things and live in the same routines. But getting to see my youngest niece for her second birthday, I am blown away by the changes of time. My nieces, ages 2 & 5 (almost 6) are not little babies anymore. They are walking moving little people, with personalities and futures. I am gone for a few months, and I become completely foreign to them because they have grown so much. And it hits me - no matter how much things do or don't change, you cannot stop time. Time continues with or without your permission, with or without your presence.

It makes me wonder, am I making the most of the time I have left? Whether that time is 75 seconds or 75 years, am I truly using it? Am I any closer to achieving anything I thought was important when I was a child? I think of all the projects I've started and never finished, all the things I should have done and haven't. The book I never finished writing, the thank you note I never gave my father, the dog I didn't save, the climbs I didn't lead, the friends I didn't cherish enough, the chances I didn't take. Everything I have done seems insignificant to what I have failed to do.

I am going to change that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Today I was told that I am so skinny that if I stuck my tongue out I would look like a zipper... my response was to stick out my tongue.

Monday, May 24, 2010

To Do Lists... Meh

Monday has come waaaay too fast. I managed to get a lot done this weekend, but not everything I had hoped to. The highlight of the weekend was definitely climbing at Sandrock with my brother-in-law, Garrett. Sandrock is in better shape that I was expecting. Check out my post "Save Sandrock" for the back story on this or on Facebook, check out the group "Save Sandrock."

The construction has not blocked the cliff access and there is still plenty of parking. Not many climbers braved the heat and the potential access issues, so we didn't have to deal with the usual weekend crowds. Garrett and I started the day at Knob Wall to warm up. We met a friendly family there top-roping the route to the left. After that, we scrambled up the back side of the Holiday Block (i think) using the easy 5.5 crack to get up and check out our top-roping options. Instead of top-roping we rappelled back down and decided to jump on Kennel Club. Garrett & I both led it - this was Garrett's first lead ever and he did a stellar job.

Even though this was my second time leading Kennel Club, and I had cruised my first lead on it, I pretty much hang-dogged the route. I was pretty disappointed in myself until I tried it again on top-rope and barely managed to do it without falling. I didn't realize how out of shape I am, and that I was actually leading at my limit. Made me feel better about being such a pansy on lead :) Any-who, I need to get into better climbing shape pronto so Derek and I can climb cool things when I go visit him this summer. One more thing to add to my never-ending to-do list!

Here are some of the newer pictures of the construction at Sandrock

Friday, May 21, 2010

To Do Lists

I have been such a slacker this week. I have a to-do list a mile long and instead of working on it after work, I have read three romances novels in as many days. I kid you not. THREE books in three days. I blame the thunderstorms - it's hard to do anything when the power keeps going out, the road outside my house is constantly flooded, and everything outside makes me just want to curl up with some hot cocoa, a blanket & a book.

But I cannot continue with my bump-on-a-log ways. I need to get stuff done. So, I'm copy-catting Jenn and posting my to-do list here in hopes that it will make feel more accountable.

Here goes (sorry, I cannot escape the parenthesis. (i want them (i need them.))):
  • Laundry (blerg)
  • Vacuum (double blerg)
  • Finish sewing my nieces' birthday gifts (I'll post pictures when they are done)
  • Write my dear pen-pals (AKA, Grandma & Grandpa)
  • Yoga class on Saturday (I skipped the last one...)
  • Get into a running routine (again)
  • Pack my climbing gear (rocking it out this Sunday with the lil' bro)
  • Find a new internet provider (I hate you Comcast!)
  • Find a new cell phone provider (you too Verizon!!)
  • Go climbing on Sunday (sweeeeetness!)
  • Bake my bread for the week (or just go to the grocery store)
  • Clean up the kitchen (because baking bread will destroy the kitchen... actually, me being in the kitchen destroys the kitchen...)
  • Turn the spare room into a training room (because lets face it, i will never be happy lifting weights in that damn "He-man testosterone overloaded university gym weight room")
  • Go to the bank
  • Apply for scholarships (if i can find scholarships...)
  • Write thank you notes (there's always one a owe somebody... sorry if you haven't gotten yours for something yet!)
  • Do the monthly budget
  • Finish Courtney's Christmas gift (from last year...)
  • Buy textbooks for my summer classes (which are coming up way too fast!)
  • Start working on my wedding scrapbook (what? it's only been a year...)

Hmmm... see what I mean? It's a mile long, and I'm pretty sure I've forgotten half of it... And people ask me what I'm going to do this summer while Derek is gone. HAH!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am now officially a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Twisted Ankle Trail Half Marathon - DONE!

I did it! I survived the Twisted Ankle Trail Run. My time was 3 hours and 23 minutes, and I placed 35th out of 54 women. Considering I haven't run more than a mile at a time since March 31st when I was hit by that car, I think that's pretty darn good. The best female time for the half marathon was 2 hours 11 minutes - it was a tough course!

Here are a few snapshots of the day and what I was thinking through this whole process:

The night before at about midnight:
"I can't sleep, I am so excited!!"

My alarm going off at 3:00AM:

Driving to the race:
"I can't sit, I am so excited!!"

Arriving at the race, seeing all the other tan, fit runners and the giant mountain looming in the background, noticing everyone staring at my Casper white legs with bandaged knees:
"....F***.... What the F*** was I thinking? I am F***ing insane...."

First mile of the race, on flat ground running around a beautiful lake:
"This isn't so bad... yeah, this is fun... I can do this..."

The first hill:
"....F***.... What the F*** was I thinking? I am F***ing insane...."

Photo Left - Running along the ridge

Running along the ridge line was absolutely beautiful. I wound up running by myself a lot, but it was very peaceful. All of the runners I did meet were super encouraging and shouted out things like "good run" and "you got this" - it was a very positive experience.

Running back down the hill, both knees bandaged, going way too fast to make up time, arms flailing out to keep my balance:
"I look like retarded duck on speed.... god please don't let me fall of this mountain..."

Finish line... well, i missed the finish line at first, but when I found it:
"I made it!! I'M ALIVE!!!"

I had doubts that I would make it back in one peace. I saw more than one better runner take a spill. The name "Twisted Ankle" is well earned! Here are some pictures of the day - sorry about the low quality. They are just proofs from the photographers website.

Below: One of the runners I met wiped out crossing the creek at the beginning of the race - ouch!

Below: Making back to the last water station before heading down the mountain again. Over half-way done with the race

Below: Coming out of the woods after running down the mountain, this was maybe the 11 mile point?

Below: Moments after the last picture, just realized there was a camera.

Below: FINISH LINE!! Looking kind of rough...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Twisted Ankle Trail Run - Time to Get Ready!

This Saturday is finally race day. I'm excited, but also more than a little nervous. The weather is looking rather ominous for the whole weekend, and I'm significantly less prepared than I thought I would be.

I had hoped to drive to the race location (which is 3 hours away) before Saturday, since I've never been there before - but that never happened. I thought I would be camping, but all the spots are taken so I'll be camping out in the car. I thought I would be running this race, but thanks to multiple MRSA infections and Blondie-Bad-Driver plowing into me with her car while I was jogging... well, you get the idea. I haven't run more than a mile at a time since I was hit and here I am about to do 13 miles up and down a mountain.

All things considered, I'm kind of amazed that I'm still planning on going. It's like all the cosmos are aligning to kick my ass for even bothering to try. And yet, last night I picked out my clothes for the weekend, gathered my camping gear and made a grocery list. I put my camera in a zip-lock bag and found my rain gear (cause dang, do you see that forecast?!).

And what's even crazier - I'm actually excited about this thing. Because if I pull this off, I will be saying F-you to my injuries and Blondie-Drives-Like-a-Bat-Outta-Hell. Even if I come in last place - at least I will have done it.

So here's to hoping I don't get struck by lighting...

Visit the official website of the race: The Twisted Ankle Trail Run

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Local No-Kill Animal Shelter: T-Town Paws

If you read one of my posts from last week, you know that I found a stray dog last Thursday that I did not help. I have so much regret about that decision. I wish I could go back to do things differently. Everyday I drive though that neighborhood, hoping that I will see her again so I can make things right.

Today, a friend let me know that there is in fact a no-kill shelter here in Tuscaloosa. Please consider supporting this shelter in any way you can. At the very least, keep it in mind if you are looking for a pet or find a stray.

The shelter is called T-Town Paws
They are located at 1108 38th Street in Tuscaloosa, across from WRTR on 38th Street
PH: 205-752-1931

Monday, May 10, 2010

Comment Form

Howdy again - if you have tried to comment and were unable to, that was my fault. I set up the permissions incorrectly. I have fixed that setting so you should be able to comment now if you want. Thanks!

Nothing Crazy

I'm back after a mostly good weekend. I did not accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped to, but I am still happy with things. I managed to bake my bread for the week. I also got in two good yoga sessions at the gym where I met some wonderful women I hope to see more of this summer. I tried running without wrapping my knees - and made it half a mile before I figured out that was a baaaad plan. Nothing that a little ice can't fix though.

Derek made it to Colorado on Friday afternoon. He's already been climbing at Garden of the Gods and worked two full days over the weekend. Today starts his true training, which will continue for the next two weeks.

That's all for now!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Update: Lost Dogs & Late Nights

Today is blessedly busy at work. Which is good because I am dead tired and need help staying away! The post-work day was rather eventful yesterday. It ended with me still up and making myself second dinner around 1 o'clock in the morning.

I'll start at the beginning. While driving home I almost hit a dog that ran out in front of the car. I thought it might have been a friend's dog that had gotten loose - she looked just the same - so I got out of the car and called her over. She was so adorable and loving. She jumped up on me and wanted to play. But she was not my friend's dog and she did not have on a collar. I had about an hour before I was supposed to meet the ladies for girls' night, so I started knocking on doors to see if anyone was missing a dog or recognized this one or even just wanted one - no luck. So then I started calling all of my friends hoping someone could take her for a couple of days while I tracked down the owner (or take her forever if I couldn't find the owner)...

No dice.

There was no way I could take the poor pup back to my apartment (no yard, no dogs allowed without a hefty fee, landlady living right down the hallway) so I stood there in a random driveway trying to figure out what to do. The only shelter in town is a kill shelter, so the poor thing would have maybe three days before she would be out of luck - permanently. I decided that I had done everything I could, and she had better odds of living if I left her alone - to hopefully be found by her owners or taken in.

So I left her.

It was awful. She had already bonded with me, so as I drove away she ran beside my car until she couldn't keep up anymore. I felt (and still feel) like the worst person in the world. I finally made it home, desperately needing a shower because I smelled like wet dog, but between saying goodbye to Derek that morning and leaving the puppy that afternoon I just couldn't take it. I burst into tears the second I got in my door and sat down on the floor for a good cry.

After a minute or two of that, I got up to lock the deadbolt and noticed a sticky note on the lock. "Have a great day!" - Derek had left me a note. It made me smile, then of course - me being me - I burst into tears again. I left the note so I could see it again when I left the house, and I started across the family room. Then I noticed another little blue note on the computer - "Facebook is evil" - which made me laugh, but I'm still crying so I sounded kind of like a hyena. And that made me laugh harder and cry more. So I wandered around the house finding dozens of little sticky notes from my love that make me laugh and cry more & more. I'm sure I looked like a complete psycho. But it was a much needed emotional vomit that thankfully no one witnessed :)

I wrapped up my emotional break down and got in the shower. I still made it in time for girls' night. Well, almost. And I would have made it home at a semi-decent hour if I hadn't gotten lost on the way home. I'm very good at getting myself lost when driving. Drop me in any forest and I can find my way out easy, but have me drive in a town at night and I am completely screwed. Oh well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Save Sandrock!

Sandrock Alabama is in danger of some not so awesome changes. Follow this link for more details from the Southeastern Climbers Coalition:

Every new begining...

Today is the day. Derek will be hitting the road around noontime with his fellow intern, Jay. He has a nice pile of possessions to take with him - needless to say, our 'recreation room' looks somewhat bare now without all the climbing, camping, and kayaking gear.

I had the day off yesterday, so Derek and I got to spend time getting him ready to go and enjoying each others company. We went down to the Tuscaloosa River Walk to have a picnic lunch complete with home-made bread, fresh fruit, cheese, and chocolate. We ran random errands and got to see a couple of friends one more time before everyone takes off for the summer. For dinner, we made pizza together and enjoyed some of the wine we had saved from our wedding - an early anniversary celebration of sorts. Derek played his guitar and the drums, and we sang some songs together. A very granola day ;)

Derek should make it to Fort Carson tomorrow in the late afternoon or early evening. He starts work right away on Saturday (ugh). Since he goes on trips pretty frequently for Outdoor Rec, I know that the first night he is gone is always a bit difficult for me - and after that, I'm pretty much okay. Thankfully, I have some awesome friends that I am meeting up with for a Girls' Night tonight. We're going to Iguana Grill. I've never been there, so I'm pretty excited about going somewhere new.

That's it for now!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Derek's Internship - Summer 2010

As many of you already know, Derek will be spending 3 months this summer living and working at Fort Carson, Colorado while I will continue to live and work in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Since we announced our plans we have heard from many folks who have offered their support as well as their concerns. The primary worry that everyone seems to have is the fact that I will be left alone here in Tuscaloosa.

Now, I must confess that when people start hovering over me in concern and care, I definitely cave and give into a good bout of self pity - I will miss Derek so terribly. And who wouldn't feel cherished being the center of all that love and attention? But I must also buck up and say that this attitude is not fair to Derek, especially when some people go so far as to comment on Derek's responsibilities as my husband. Derek and I made this decision together. He is not abandoning me and he is not doing anything without my full love and support. I am very excited for everything that he will get to do this summer. Yes, I will miss him. We would be having some major issues if that were not true. But Derek will be missing me too. And unlike me, he will not have an established community of friends and now-familiar surroundings to comfort him.

Instead, he will be in a brand new town, with a brand new job, and brand new people - all by himself. He will be facing unknown challenges as he learns hard skills on the wild Colorado rivers and mountains. He will likely be working from sunrise to sunset and have little time for himself to relax. If anyone needs extra love and support this summer, it is Derek. Never in my life have I tried something as adventurous as he will be and I cannot imagine facing it alone.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Easy Recipe for Beer Bread

Derek heard about this recipe from his friend Sam. I had been wanting to attempt bread baking, but if you know me at all then you know I am not the best cook. This recipe is a wonderful, easy intro to bread baking and it is super delicious & fast! If you search it online you can find a ton of variations and different ways to change it up :)

12 fluid oz. beer (the type of beer you choose will change the flavor of the bread)
3 Cups self rising flour
3 Tablespoons of sugar

1. Mix all the stuff :) dough will be sticky
2. Put in a 9x5 greased bread pan
3. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes

My tip to get the bread out of the pan: grease the pan with butter then lightly flour. once the bread is done, let it sit for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. It should pop right out with no problem :)

The Year in Brief

It has been almost one year since Derek and I were married. Here are some highlights that you may have missed. After our wedding on May 16th, I continued to work for a month at CAIC before quitting so Derek and I could go on a month long honeymoon. We went on a rock climbing road trip to the New River Gorge, the Red River Gorge, the Gunks, and Devil's Lake. We had beautiful weather almost the entire time and got to see some beautiful places. At each town, we stopped off at the best place to eat and occasionally managed to get showers at camps and even one hostel. It was a wonderful summer adventure and a great way to kick off our marriage.

Shortly after we got back from our honeymoon, we packed up all of possessions and moved down south to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Derek started graduate school at the University of Alabama in the Fall of 2009 - his degree is Higher Education, and he has a graduate assistantship with the Outdoor Recreation department. I had many odd (mostly awful) jobs including being a supervisor at Michael's Craft Store and a substitute teacher at Holy Spirit Catholic High School, before I finally ending up at the Health Sciences Library on Campus. I love, love, LOVE my job and the people I work with. Love it so much that I've decided to become a librarian. I've been taking classes at the university, and I am currently waiting to hear back from the School of Library and Information Studies to see if I have been accepted into the program for the Fall 2010 semester.

Now that the spring semester is coming to a close, Derek is getting ready for an amazing internship at Fort Carson, Colorado. He will be living and working at the base for 3 months this summer. It will be great career development for him, and hopefully he will have a fun time exploring the rivers and mountains of Colorado. While he is gone, I will be keeping busy with work, school, friends and family. I will also be doing my best to get back in shape and healthy again. This year started off rather rough with multiple injuries and infections (read more about MRSA!). I plan on doing a lot of yoga, running, rock climbing, and maybe even some cooking.

That is my news for the past year :)