Monday, December 26, 2011


2012 will be my most selfish year ever. I will consider my own feelings along with, and sometimes even over, the feelings of others. I will be concerned with my appearance in a base and superficial way; spending time on my hair, luxuriating in sinfully smelling lotions, getting the good workout clothes/bras/shoes instead of the cheap stuff, blowing off unnecessary work in favor of free time.

I will lounge around. I will chill out. I will make time for myself.

It's all about me. This time I won't forget. This year I will stop being a human shield...

Yes. That's right. A human shield.

A funny thing happens to me when I'm around other people, even people I don't know very well: I throw myself in front of bullets that were not intended for me.

I hear them say, "Ten thousand cookies by tomorrow and I have no idea how I'm going to do it!" or, "I'm planning a party for my husband's, step-neice's, uncle's dog and I just don't even know where to begin..." or, "I need flyers for a charity organization you've never heard of that places abandoned cows in foster families..."

And my hand goes up. Over and over again. I can't control it, it's like I'm swatting flies.

This has always been the state of things for me. And it's ten times worse when the needy party is someone I am dating. Suddenly I am personally invested in whether or not someone who is not related to me makes it to the dentist on time. Do they have enough clean clothes? Are they eating healthy? Can I help them? Please?

It doesn't make sense for grown adults to throw all of their needs onto someone else, and it extra doesn't make sense for me to volunteer to be the baggage camel. Especially when it seems that I'm always trying so hard not to get "involved" with anyone. "I'm not looking for a relationship," I say, "just someone to hang out with." Then, two months later, when I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas with birds nesting in my hair and this person is passing me the remote, it hits me: I've been relationshiped.

How do you know if you've been relationshiped? The signs are not always obvious. You might find yourself driving someone everywhere, texting them before you decide if you are going out tonight, choosing between heading out in the cold to help them buy groceries or watching movies on your comfortable couch in your toasty warm house. Maybe you stop going to the gym, stop eating the foods you like because the other person doesn't like to try new things, stop laughing at things you used to find funny.

You've been shanghaied...maybe you were a little drunk at the time, but you've agreed to go along, so no one is really forcing you to do anything that you didn't sign up for.

You didn't make it clear that you weren't looking for this when you volunteered to help with all the things all the time. It wasn't apparent that you wanted your own space when you were constantly around checking to make sure everything was okay.

Before you know it, the people around you are hinting that you might get the privilege of carrying this person for the rest of your life...and possibly a smaller person as well. They smile and say, "well, accidents do happen..." in such a way that makes you wonder if they volunteer at the condom factory just so they can gleefully poke pinholes in the rubbers.

I want to stop this madness. I want to get to the root of the problem so this doesn't keep happening.

I'm fortunate to have a group of friends who are grown-up pants, self-sufficient people. They don't need my help most of the time, and if they do they ask for it, and I'm more than happy to oblige because I know that they are capable of helping me in return. This is the level of interaction that I should be expecting from everyone, everywhere, all the time.

With the exception of things that I consider charity (donations to good causes, helping 95-year-old ladies pick up heavy boxes), I really shouldn't be putting all my effort into things that have no return.

My solution is selfishness. My resolution for 2012 is to take a good hard look at what I'm saving before I jump in front of the gun.

So don't look at me. I'm not getting involved.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

the year in review

If ever I am at a loss for something to do with my time, or I've forgotten what my goals are supposed to be, I refer to The Master List.

"What is 'The Master List?'" you ask, and I'm so glad you did. The Master List is not a list at all, but is in fact, a whiteboard. This whiteboard lives behind my office door and is a dry-erase paradise filled with my random thoughts, books I intend to read, places I want to go, my goals; and most importantly, who owes me money.

If you've ever felt bad because I appear to be more organized than you, take heart, I'm also INSANE.

Around this time last year, I wrote a blog post about my goals for 2011 and added a bunch of unintelligible scribble to The Master List (my handwriting is what happens when you put a pointy stick in your mouth and try to write on an uneven surface using sumi ink from a bottle...while riding a roller coaster).

12 short months ago, I scrawled out the following goals:
  1. Run another half marathon
  2. Take a cross country road trip
  3. Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
  4. Pay off my car
  5. Run the Spokane Marathon in October
  6. Get published
  7. Read at least 10 books from the banned books list
  8. Dine out once a week or less
  9. Make a will

Did I do all these things? In a word: no.

But I did do some of these things. And I also did other things throughout the year that I felt fairly good about. See how vague I'm being? Pretty soon you'll have forgotten all about that list of failure up there.

I did run another half marathon (#1), and the full Spokane Marathon (#5). Making a will (#9) went by like a breeze once I actually sat down and did it. I forgot all about reading banned books (#7) until the end of November, but I finished that one this afternoon with only days remaining in the year.

I fully flunked numbers 2, 3, and 4. I did not get published (unless you count this blog, which I do not), and try as I might, I could not stay away from all the fine dining establishments Spokane has to offer.

4 out of 9 is a 44%. That is clearly failing. But what about extra credit? Can I get points for all the things I did end up doing in 2011?

  1. Went to Emerald City Comicon
  2. Learned to wakeboard
  3. Learned to shoot
  4. Went ziplining
  5. Ran a full marathon
  6. Threw some awesome parties
  7. Ran the Warrior Dash and the Dirty Dash
  8. Went to Silverwood for the first time
  9. Almost got washed out to sea in a kayak
  10. Spent a week in Myrtle Beach with my family

If you crunch the numbers on this, you'll note that there are 10 things on this list of accomplishment, and only 9 things on my previous goals list (aka 'failure list'). Also, subtracting the things I actually completed on my previous goals list takes that list down to 6...and 10 is more than 6. In fact, it's 4 let's say it's 40% more...if you take that 40% from the new list and add it to the 44% achievement rate on the old list, you get 84%, which is a solid "B" grade.

See what I did there? That's called math.

That's not bad at all. 'B' isn't just okay, it's slightly above average. Good job 2011.

David Bowie New Year, January 2011

Liz learns to snowboard, January 2011

Emerald City Comicon, March 2011

St. Patrick's Day, March 17th

Selina's Birthday, June 2011

Myrtle Beach, June 2011

Kayaking at Owens Beach in Tacoma, July 2011

Old Hollywood Party, July 2011

Intro to Shooting, August 2011

Super Mario Halloween, October 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

phoneless and phreaking out

"You know, if you keep making those faces, eventually your face is going to stick like that."

That's what they tell me, anyway. I'm not sure if I believe it since I made a sour face for the first 20 years of my life and I seem to be recovering nicely.

However, I do see some truth to the statement. It's about habits.

If you keep doing something long enough for it to become a habit, eventually you will stick like that. This is true for the good things, like exercise or spending time with your family, and true for the bad things, like drinking too much or gambling away your savings.

But what about the in-between things? What about the habits we pick up that are widely sanctioned by our society?

There's something that I'm obsessed with. Something that I have to have with me at all times of the day. I take it with me when I go to sleep, when I go to work, when I'm in my car. I tend it like an obsessives' garden, making sure everything is in its' place, checking and rechecking. If I don't pick it up at least once every 20 minutes, I start to feel jittery. Others encourage me, asking where it is if they don't see it with me, proudly showing me theirs like brand new parents.

I'm talking about something I've started to take for granted over the past few years: my electronic tether; my cellphone.

By a gross miscalculation in timelines, I managed to shut off my own phone today while porting my number to a new carrier. I have no idea when I will have a working phone again. Note to my future self: next time make sure you have your new phone before turning off your existing phone.

What's most disturbing about this situation is not that I managed to misplan, I'm human after all. No, what's bothersome here is the way I'm reacting to my disconnect.

Whenever my mind starts to wander, I catch myself poking at the dead shell of my old phone. I turn it on and stare at its shiny screen, glancing to the top right for the tiny letter icon to tell me I have a message, hoping to see the little "G" symbol that means I have new Gmail. I might as well be curled up in a corner rocking back and forth while talking to myself.

When did this happen? I remember growing up without a phone, being a teenager who had to use landlines to call home and leave a message on the answering machine (the kind with the tiny tape inside). Heck, I didn't even have a cellphone until my junior year of college. Yeah that's right, I managed to survive until the age of 20 without sending a single text message. Amazing, huh?

But now? No fricking way! I've only been without the phone for a few hours and I've already lost my sh*t. If it wasn't for the fact that I still have the old phone to cradle softly in my arms, I'd probably be starting a fire or something. Like this girl who literally killed when her phone was taken (click to read the article).

I read an article a few weeks back that said that people reacted the same way to loosing their iphone as they did to loosing a loved one. As in, the same area in your brain that lights up when you are in mourning lights up when they turn off your phone. It's a creepy little member of your family. And now, with the Siri technology, it's even got a sweet lady voice to further your attachment (as if you needed it).

I'm sure I'll make it through this troubling time, not in any small part due to the fact that I still have the internet with access to Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the other millions of internet locations that eat my time.

Thank goodness I have this virtual world in which to live, where else would I go for support? Real people?

Don't be silly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello World

"Don't touch anything," my Dad sternly commanded, wrinkling his brow in that certain way where you can tell he's confused, but just on the verge of a solution. He held a tangle of cables and cords, puzzling over a telephone book of instructions printed in both English and Japanese. My Mom drummed her fingers, looking bored and frustrated. I, for my part, gave all the help I was capable of giving by spinning around as fast as possible in the adjustable office chair.

There it sat, on a desk against the wall, in the room with the old zebra-stripped couch that smelled like dust, and the flimsy pressboard bookshelf housing an entire hardback set of Encyclopedia Britannica. This foreign invader, so strange in it's beige, boxy shell. The television seemed to look on in distress, worrying about being replaced.

Suddenly, with an electric fan whir and a happy little beep, the box sprang to life, emitting an alien glow. Filling the room with an eerie cast, throwing our shadows to the far wall.

I shot my feet out to the floor, stopping the chair mid-spin, focusing in on the bright white letters. They burned my eyes a little, jumping out from that deep blue, undulating with color and light.

I reached out my hand.

"She touched that thing!" my Mom cried, "why is there an hourglass?! This thing is broken!"


Within a few minutes of meeting someone new, it invariably comes up, "What do you do?" quickly followed by, "How'd you get in to that? Do you like it?"

Everyone wants to know, are you happy? And if you did you do it? Can I do it too?

Where did it all begin? When was the moment that it all came together and you said, 'Here it is, this is the thing that will change my life?'

It's been a few years since my introduction to the computer (maybe more than a few), but I still remember that first taste like it was yesterday. I didn't know right off the bat that I would end up using them to make art, but I did know that I wanted to learn everything about them, discover how they worked from the ground up; break them down and rebuild them, create something new.

One of my Mom's favorite stories to tell about me is the time she bought a new vacuum and couldn't figure out how to assemble it even after reading the directions multiple times. When she had finally given up, I began to pick up the pieces and stick them together, completing the vacuum simply by studying the parts. I was five.

When my artistic talent and my penchant for advertising began to emerge, my Mom started bringing home books from the library. "It's called Graphic Design," she said, "this is you."

And that's how I knew.

Onward from the age of ten, through adolescence and into adulthood, I tapped away at countless keyboard keys and double-clicked hundreds of mice, learning to express myself by interfacing with a machine.

Which brings me to today. Happily working as a freelance Graphic Designer and teaching others to use the fascinating tools of my trade.

That's kind of a long story though, so I'll just give you my standard answer: "I'm an artist, it's a fun job."

How about you? What do you do? How do you like it?


Here's a share, a couple of recent projects for non-profits. Using my skills to help others is part of what makes my job so great.

Christmas Party invitation for RiteCare Spokane a non-profit speech therapy clinic for children ages 2 - 7.

Site design for the Spokane Bike Swap a non-profit bicycle event to raise funds for the Friends of the Centennial Trail.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Good Form

First off, it's been a stupid long time since I've sat down to write, and for that I apologize; mainly to myself for forgetting the cardinal rule of success: Consistency.

I've finally gotten on board the Consistency Train with running and exercise, but I have yet to allow consistency to keep me on track for the other things I enjoy, such as painting, writing, and making time for my friends.

Most recently, consistency in my training allowed me to complete my very first full marathon, the Spokane Marathon, earlier in October. Sticking to the schedule and remembering to use my body in the way that it was designed is what got me through to the end. Working, resting, fueling, and thinking. Putting it all toward my goal.

Big surprise: it works. It's all that "you get what you put in to it," "your body is your temple," "you are what you eat" stuff that so many people like to spout. Who knew it would turn out to be true?

So here I am, post marathon, feeling great, wearing my awesome new hooded sweatshirt that says, "finisher!" and I declare out loud to myself...(don't worry, lots of people talk to themselves before, during, and after running)...anyway, I announce in my runner's-high afterglow that I'm going to train for an ultra-marathon. Something more than 30 miles, a real, crazy, over-the-top challenge.

With this goal in mind, I decide to incorporate longer runs (duh) and work on getting faster. You see, I'm a bit of a plodder. I shuffle along at about a 9:30 mile pace regardless of the race distance, and when I get to the end, I'm not even tired. I know there's more speed in there somewhere, I just have to teach myself to access it.

I've gone running with the boyfriend a couple of times, and it seems to be helping since he is much faster than I will ever be (I assume).

I want to say up front that there is nothing that feels more natural for me than running. Sitting sucks, walking is too slow, hopping is awkward.

When I run, my entire body feels like it drops into place. As far as I know, I've had the same running form my whole life: standing up straight, leaning forward, arms a little low, feet hitting the ground flat/mid-foot. <-- And there's the problem.

The first time running with Don he mentions something about my foot strike, and how it would be better if I stayed toward the front of my foot. So the second time we go running I try this different foot strike thing for the duration of the run, which turns out to be around 12 miles...and I feel something pull in my ankle. Goodbye Achilles tendon, it was nice knowing you.

Suddenly, my body that feels best after a 20 mile run can't even handle a 2 mile run. I took something that works, and I broke it.

This is not to say that he doesn't have the right idea (maybe or maybe not, it's up in the air) but I definitely had the wrong idea to immediately jump on something new without a consistent history of training in that way to back it up.

And now I'm out for at least a couple weeks. Leaving me with hours of free time when I would rather be running. Sidelined by form, which brings me to my tangent about paper forms:

There are certain aspects within the daily dealings of life where I expect consistency. One of these places is on official documents. I have no idea why I feel that way when there is absolutely no evidence to support those feelings.

Today I was reminded how little attention is paid to consistency when I sat down to fill out some paperwork and promptly found myself smacked full in the face by the grotesque mis-appearance of IRS forms: daunting. ugly. inconsistent.

Now, it's important to note that I don't find forms to be inherently ugly. A sea of grayscale boxes does not have to be a sign of bad design. They don't have to be a clown-vomit explosion of color to keep my attention, or have flashing banner ads on the sides to peak my curiosity.


Where these forms fail me is the same place I failed in trying to change myself too quickly. Whoever designs these IRS forms has taken a good idea and simply gone too far. Absolutely everything is encased in a heavily stroked black box. Somewhere along the way, some helpful soul looked at the form and said, "You know, I bet that would stand out better if you put a box around it...try making it bold!"

And a monster was born.

Changing up the form (the form-form or the running form) can be a good idea, but not if it defeats the original purpose. Form should follow function.

In the case of IRS forms, the function is the transfer of information from one spot to another. Or in my case, the transfer of energy from one spot to another. My existing form was doing it for me, without the add-ons, and I bet those IRS forms were almost attractive before they got painted up with boxes, bold text, underlines, different fonts, and 'helpful' symbols.

Lesson learned.

It doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to work.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

let's get dirty

Now that I've done both the Warrior Dash and the Dirty Dash, I feel that I am qualified to write an intensive, tell-all exposé of inner-city crime...oh wait...I got off topic for a moment there. Um...I feel that I am qualified to talk about mud in your shorts.

And a couple hours after a 10k obstacle run, that's just about all I'm qualified for.

I automatically award the Warrior Dash with extra points for having more of my friends in attendance. This was due to the timing of the event and also the shorter, 5k instead of 10k, distance.

However, the Dirty Dash pulls ahead slightly based on two factors:
1. It is close to my house, thus close to a shower.
2. The shirts are better, they are fitted and femme.


Parking SUCKED! We were told to pull over to the right to be 'in line' for parking, but in fact, we were as far along as we could go and ended up abandoning our vehicles along the side of Government Way. The race was about 2 miles away from where I left Geordi, effectively turning a 6 mile race into a 10 mile race. Trudging back to the car in my mud-filled shoes in the torching sun was not something that I accounted for.

Luckily, as I shielded my eyes from the blaze I suddenly remembered Jason talking about Bear Grylls peeing on his shirt and tying it around his head to keep cool in the desert. My shirt was already soaked from the plunge into the river - saving me from having to figure out how to aim - so I draped it over my head and hoped to God that Eastern State wasn't doing any patrols for escaped patients. It worked better than I could have hoped, I am sunburnt everywhere except the top of my head.

Chic desert Sheik, or underground breakdancer?

Both races gave the opportunity to donate your muddy shoes to the needy and un-shod. A great idea, to be sure. Unfortunately, I didn't end up donating at either race. The mud pit at the Warrior Dash was so deep that I stepped right out of one of my shoes (the one with the timing chip) and couldn't find it again.

Parking at the Dirty Dash put me so far away from the car that there's no way I could have made it back without shoes. Much of the terrain heading back was rocky, and the rest was sun-baked asphalt, just waiting to fry my little toes. I suppose it's for the best though since I realized back at the car that my one-size-too-small running shoes had been steadily rubbing holes in the backs of my heels, soaking the insides of the shoes with blood.

Nobody wants those now.

This is after the shower, but you get the idea.

The showers at the Dirty Dash were for realsies, or at least as for real as a shower at a campground:
  • Above your head
  • Emitting a trickle of water
  • Spread far enough apart that you aren't rubbing your muddy body against others
  • Outside so you aren't tempted to rub your muddy body against others

The Warrior Dash "shower" was this:
  • A homicidal maniac with a fire hose to your face

Dirty Dash at Riverside St. Park - Note those showers back there

As far as obstacles go, I loved the Beer Chug "obstacle" in the Dirty Dash, it was a nice break after running up and down trails. The Warrior Dash gets mad props for its spectator area with the giant cargo net, fire jump, and mud pit all lined up one after the other for the amusement of your friends and family.

Warrior Dash mud pit

Warrior Dash fire obstacle

It seemed like there were the same number of obstacles in each race, The Dirty Dash just had twice as much running to get between each one. That's thumb-up for me, but probably a thumb-down for most people.

Hands down (but thumbs still up), the best obstacle of the Dirty Dash was the slip 'n' slide. I wasn't expecting it and I haven't been on one since I was ten, or thereabouts. Running and jumping into the inflatable chute was a damn good time. Also notable was the incorporation of the Spokane River into the race, with one section detouring into the water before turning back up the hill.

The Dirty Dash was most definitely a trail run. Lots of uneven and rocky areas, lots of perilously skinny routes along the edges of embankments. The Warrior Dash, by contrast, was less intense in that way. It wasn't on pavement, but it wasn't what I'd call a "trail run." It may have been dirt, but the area was mostly flat and mostly smooth, it looked like it was a pretty heavily trafficked farm road.

For non-stop action and an event that you can do with all of your friends - even the ones who "don't run" - The Warrior Dash definitely gets my vote. For more of a bad-ass, I-can't-believe-I-ran-six-miles-and-drank-a-beer-and-jumped-in-the-river-all-within-an-hour feeling, the Dirty Dash is the way to go.

Either way, you're gonna get dirty.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

when it's okay to quit

I've spent a lifetime training myself that it's never okay to quit. There are always more reasons to continue along the path than there are to turn back. People who stop before they really began just don't understand what they are capable of.

It was in this general mindset that I headed out for a training run Sunday morning.

This was the run I was supposed to complete on Friday...but instead I ate lots of Thai food. So it became the run I was supposed to complete on Saturday...but instead I sat perfectly still for 10 hours to work on a project (a project that needed to get done, but I'll try not to defend myself too much). That brings us to the run I was supposed to complete beginning at 6 am on Sunday...but instead I twirled myself up in my blankets and said, 'just a few more hours of sleep.'

So it was that I found myself at the Mirabeau park entrance to the Centennial Trail at 11 am, with the sun already high in the sky. It was getting hot. Nasty hot. But I decided to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach that told me this run might need to wait for another day.

The first few miles were a breeze. I flew along under the tree canopy, enjoying views of the river that would be fit for a postcard anywhere else, but that we who live here see as same-ol'-same-ol'. I munched on almonds and chocolate covered raisins, my favorite running foods, and tried to be mindful about drinking from the many tiny water bottles that lined my waist.

At Noon, I left the trees.

Miles four and five weren't unbearable, but the sun was causing me to squint under my sunglasses, and I could feel the rays pushing down on my shoulders. At 5.5 miles, I turned to head back for the trees, 'maybe a little more time in the shade will help me out,' I thought.

Eight miles down and back in the trees, I realized I had run out of water. There was still two-and-a-half miles between me and the nearest water fountain, and now the sun had shifted so those previously friendly trees were no longer casting their cooling shadows.

As I plodded along at an increasingly slower pace, I offhandedly noticed that I was no longer sweating. Normally, this would be cause for alarm. But to my sun-addled mind, it was cause for mild amusement, 'Weird!!' my subconscious squealed, 'my skins feels all squishy!'

The headache came on at around mile 9, shimmering curtains of iridescence crashing though my eyes, making it hard to see. Ophthalmic migraines are common for me when I'm in intense pain or have become dehydrated. Unfazed, I continued to jog, probably in a series of weaving lines and circles.

11 miles down and standing back in front of the water fountain by the parking lot, I carefully filled each little bottle from my hydration belt, and proceeded to drink them and fill them again. It didn't make any sense to me to drink directly from the fountain. So I stood there, for perhaps 10 minutes, filling and draining those mini-squeeze bottles.

Then came the defining moment of my day.

Normal people; sane people; take stock of their situation and make decisions based on that data. People like me; crazy people; complete a task regardless of outside information.

I was 20 feet from my car and my cell phone. 5 feet from a tree providing shade. Mere inches from a water fountain.

My thought process, in it's entirety, went like this:

'We have the water!! LET'S GO!!!'

And I set out again, this time going the opposite direction, in full, soul-sucking sun. The tiny trees I passed offered enough shade for chipmunks, and I contemplated crouching under them for a while, but somehow I was certain that I wasn't allowed to be under the trees. Each time I passed a shady spot I would think, 'I wish I could stop there,' and yet I'd continue on.

During a normal run for me, I run halfway out (away from my car or house or wherever), then I turn around and run back. This ensures that I don't crap out and give up in the process of circling my house five or six times: I'm already out, now I have to go back.

Without realizing exactly what I was doing, I ran myself halfway out from the car and the water source when I should have been trying to pass it multiple times. Or better yet, should have been indoors after realizing it was too sunny for a pale kid like me.

So it went that I trotted another 2.5 miles away after having already been at the car. When I reached 2.5 miles away (13.5 miles total), I noticed a woman and her daughter with their bikes taking refuge under a larger tree. I wandered over and stood uncomfortably close to them, then abruptly sat down in the pine needles and put my head between my knees. They left at some point, weirded out no doubt, but I stayed under the tree for at least 15 minutes trying not to lose the almonds and chocolate raisins I had consumed earlier.

The distance back to the parking lot this time was not a run, not a jog, not a walk; more like a death march.

People passing on the trail said things to me, one woman pointed at me and seemed concerned, but I couldn't understand what they were saying. I stopped five or six times to sit under trees while my head swam in circles. The parking lot seemed to be running from me.

The next thing I knew I was lying under a tree by the water fountain with my shoes and socks off, 16 miles displaying on the iPod. Logic tells me I walked there, but I can't be sure.

When I got back to the house I laid down to stop the spinning in my head and woke up three hours later feeling like I'd been hit by a train.

My sunburn makes it hurt to wear shirts with sleeves.

I approach most things with overwhelming enthusiasm and confidence. I run head-on into any situation, literally and figuratively. Leaping before looking. Shooting first. Apologizing rather than asking for permission.

I can now look back with confidence and say, "Yeah, I should have just quit."

Monday, June 27, 2011

long runs make your face hurt

Last Friday I hit the trail for a long training run; 13 miles along the Spokane River. I'm training for a marathon, you see, and when you are training for a marathon, you run a lot, and you tell everyone how much you are running a lot, and you expect everyone to offer you encouragement for running a lot, as though it wasn't up to you, but you are such a saint for powering through it.

So I'm training for this marathon.

Anyway, while I was out on the run, I noticed something really different about running outside versus running indoors on a treadmill. In the gym I spend most of my time avoiding eye contact with other sweaty messes. Kindly averting my gaze whenever I catch sight of a bright red huffer-puffer struggling away on the elliptical or stair climber. Fiddle with my iPod. Pretend I'm watching Judge Judy. Read that poster about protein smoothies for the hundredth time.

But this is not how they roll in the great outdoors. When you are outside running, you are expected to make eye contact. Smile. Give that little acknowledging head jerk. Raise your hand just a bit like you are placing a bid at auction. Perhaps grunt out a, "Hey," or a "morning." All the while sucking in your gut and trying really hard not to look like you're about to pass out.

It's exhausting.

And I had to wonder, since running is such a workout, and being social can be mentally taxing, how much more difficult is your outside run than your inside run?

This led me to Google both "calories burned smiling" and "calories burned by waving." Alas, there wasn't much concrete information to be found on either topic. Apparently no one but me is curious about how many calories a Lilac Princess might burn while parade-waving atop a float. Plenty of people care about the smiling thing though. 'It takes more muscles to frown than to smile' and things of that ilk. The only problem is that there is no solid research.

What are you wasting your time on, Science?! Curing cancer? Solving the world hunger crisis? Those things are so last season. What matters right now is how many muscles it takes to smile, and how fit I'm getting by flashing by pearly yellows (maybe yours are white, but I drink a lot of tea).

On a side note, I also tested out GU Chomps energy chews on my last long run and found that they don't make me want to barf like the gels often do. Instead of outright eating them, I stored them in my cheeks like an electrolyte-hoarding chipmunk. It seemed to work pretty well except, of course, for the times I would run past someone and feel the need to smile and wave and greet.

I might start asking around to see if anyone else finds outdoor runs draining for reasons other than the varied terrain.

If I keep up this running outside thing, I'll have to start incorporating weight lifting moves that work my waving arm. Or maybe I should start frowning at people instead of smiling, since frowning uses more muscles. And we all know how serious I am about building muscles.

Since I'm training for this marathon.

Friday, June 17, 2011

the things we keep

A few weeks ago, I tasked myself with sorting through the basement, drawers, closets, and tiny spider-filled spaces to gather items for a yard sale. We're not running out of space; on the contrary, we have more space than we can handle.

And as often happens with extra space you don't need, we've rushed to fill it with extras things we don't need. An empty drawer is like a haunting siren song, playing over and over again in your head, saying, 'why would you leave me like this.'

It took longer than I thought to get started with the sorting process. Each time I would imagine myself tromping down the basement steps and tackling the mess, my chest would seize with fear. What would I find down there? Would it take days? WEEKS?! MONTHS??!!!

And more urgently: How would I part with these things that are apparently so important to me that I stashed them under my house?

Setting deadlines proved to be the push I needed to get it done: I had already placed an ad in the paper about the sale, and it was looming in the not-so-distant future. People would show up on that day, and if I wasn't ready, they would judge me.

Reluctantly resigned, I made myself a reward snack (for all the hard work I had yet to do), and headed into the chilly darkness.

It didn't take long for things to get weird.

The questions I had struggled with before about my unnatural attachment to inanimate objects quickly flew out of my head and were replaced by incredulous terror questions such as these:

  • Why do I have a two-year supply of low fat popcorn and instant mashed potatoes?
  • Whose tupperware is this? WHY ARE THERE NO LIDS?!
  • I own a hamster ball?
  • What made me think I needed to keep four inflatable flamingos?

Spartan. Organized. Functional.

These are the words I would have used to describe my house prior to my basement adventure.

Now I know the truth.

I have allowed myself to use out-of-the-way spaces to hide my inner pack rat. Areas of my house where visitors rarely tread are a safe haven for my irrational hoarding impulse.

Some people keep extra water and food in their basements in case of emergency. Not me; oh no.

I could sleep easy knowing that my basement had enough pink sparkle crap to get me though the worst of times. Do you need a glittery mouse pad? I have three! How about an assortment of unused tumbler cups with shiny Hello Kitty faces emblazoned on the sides? Have you ever wished that you had pink, rainbow-patterned shoe laces? Wish granted!

But no longer. This had to stop.

It was brutal. I moved without mercy. I was like a machine.

I've cut my collection of random Hello Kitty items by more than half. HALF!

Mainly, I've tried to keep only the things that I've had since I was really little, since they have actual sentimental value.

Somewhere, I have a picture of myself at the age of five running away from home with my little red Hello Kitty snack box (a girl's gotta eat). There's a picture of this event because I told my mom I was running away...and also where I was going...before I left.

She told me to be home for dinner.

I found that snack box and the tiny thermos that nests inside, it was one of the things I chose to keep.

The more I sorted and dropped items into the 'sale' box, the easier it became. My criteria was simple: if my house burned down, which of these things would I miss? Everything else goes.

What now takes up the most space in my home are my boxes full of photographs. My summer project is to scan them and back them up, so they will always be safe. My memories are more important than anything I could buy at the store.

Those are the things we keep.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Summer of Awesome Reloaded

Where does the time go? Is there a black hole over my house sucking up all the seconds that haven't been assigned to specific tasks? Are they really gone without a trace, or did they serve their purpose with honor and I just don't remember?

I just can't seem to keep track of my time. Hours fly by and I can't account for them.

I'm not talking about work days, because I automatically chalk those up to a loss. Yesterday, for example, I worked from 10:30am to 9:30pm then had just enough energy to watch an episode of Spartacus before I crashed out. I don't bemoan those lost seconds, because I'm exchanging them for dollars.

Ready for work! This is how I look at the beginning of the day,
by the end I look like I've been hit by a bus.

The lost time I'm worried about losing is the stuff that's supposed to belong to me, but still seems to get away from me. If I don't want my dogs to run off, I just put them on a leash, it's not so easy with time. Time doesn't care for your "sit" and "stay" commands. Time is crafty. Time can get under the fence.

I'm pretty sure that I burned an entire day last week just sitting on the floor chewing on my hair.

Well, not really, but that's how it feels. I can't figure out how I had, in my estimate, almost 6 hours of uninterrupted free time where I accomplished absolutely nothing.

I want to put my time to better use.

Today I decided to keep track of everything I do so I have an accurate representation of "a day in the life" of Selina Shehan:

At 9am I rolled out of bed and onto the floor where I was immediately dive bombed by two chihuahuas. I wandered into the kitchen where I made coffee and stood in front of the open fridge for five minutes until I realized we are out of waffles. I made myself a quesadilla.

9:30am - Thought really hard about doing dishes but then didn't do them.

10am - Checked my emails, bank accounts and bills, threw some money at my big credit card bill and got a little upset that I have to buy a new phone (mine is being discontinued).

10:06am - Cracked the books and began my lecture materials for class this week.

10:55am - Notified the Earth Day longboard winner about his prize (a totally rad board made by Dan Dengler).

11:30am - Played fetch with the dogs and took photos of their adorableness.

Spike and his favorite toy

Romi and Lola

11:55am - Made some fakie-fake buffalo wings while washing dishes. Dishes had to happen as I otherwise would have no place to put barbecue sauce and ketchup for my soy products.

Sidebar: The main reason I let my dishes sit for so long is that I'm still not convinced that it doesn't take a full 16 hours to wash them...even though I've proven time and time again that it only takes about 20 minutes to wash every dish in the house. My kitchen does not have a dishwasher as my house was built in the paleolithic era when people mostly cooked outdoors over campfires and had little use for Kitchenaid appliances.

12pm - Ate some wings. Note the 5 minute time difference between making wings and eating them. If I was not a vegetarian I would probably die of a combination of salmonella and e-coli because I have no patience for food that takes more than 5 minutes to cook completely. I would also like to point out that vegetarian buffalo wings are no less "buffalo wings" than any other kind.

12:30pm - Called t-mobile store about a new phone, thought about the upcoming art event for the INBA and realized it's scary close to go-time. Fired off a few emails to make myself feel better.

1pm - Delivered the longboard prize to the raffle winner and wandered around in Fred Meyer talking on the phone to my mom. I managed not to buy anything but I now strongly desire tiny solar powered lights and a bench shaped like a bunny for my yard.

2pm - Visited Greg at Radio Shack and picked up the new t-mobile Sidekick to replace my soon to be useless old SideKick phone. Also picked up some new running shoes and new skate shoes to replace the torn up pairs I've been kicking around in.

Old Shoes

New Phone

3:30pm - Arrived back home felt a little sluggish, fixed this problem by eating an apple dipped in peanut butter.

3:40pm - Set up a meeting with a new client (exciting!)

3:43pm - Briefly worried that if I accomplished too many things today, I would have nothing to do tomorrow. These are the kinds of deep thoughts that cloud my mind.

3:45pm - Puttered around on Facebook and watched the videos other people posted today. This down time helped to quell my fears that Tuesday would present an overwhelming amount of opportunity.

I really wanted to go skating today but it's still raining. The upside is that the plants and the tree look really happy.

Dreary sky, happy tree

4:07pm - ...hungry again. Rewarding myself for doing not much really all day today by making stir fry and watching an episode of Star Gate SG-1. Because really, what better way is there to celebrate having clean dishes than by making them all dirty again?

There's no better way. None.

I was recently introduced to SG-1 (it's not a drug, it's a show) and it's causing me to break my cardinal rule of never drinking alcohol or watching television when I'm by myself (just the t.v. part).

This rule was put into place due to my poor impulse control.

Allowing myself to watch one episode of a show is my way of testing the waters to see if I can wade a bit and enjoy a show without drowning in eight solid hours of mindlessness. I guess we'll all know for sure by looking at my next time stamp...

5:39pm - A fresh pot of coffee is on and now I'm typing my lecture materials for tomorrow night's class. I managed to enjoy my stir fry and television responsibly.

6:44pm - Finished typing out the first 2 hours of lecture material, time for a break!

6:55pm - Created a coffee/chocolate syrup/soy milk concoction and read the internet for 10 minutes, now back to work.

7:26pm - About halfway through the rest of the material, time for another break...and some cookies

8:47pm - Just finished watching the last episode of the Spartacus prequel. Thankfully Netflix still streams just fine through the PS3 even with the network outage. No gaming though.

11:01pm - Returned triumphantly from the gym with 7.38 miles under my shoes.

11:12pm - Uploading the random photos from my random day. I'm going back to documenting everything visually since that really helped me keep track of everything I did last summer.

11:30 - I'm about done with this post and ready to spend the next 8 or 9 hours dreaming about better weather.

So there you have it, an entire fairly typical day off from work for me.

Yesterday was a legitimately nice day, leading me to believe (in spite of today) that we may have a Spring, and possibly even a Summer this year. Now that I know where my time goes, I can apply myself to inserting radness wherever possible.

This summer I am going to fill my time with so much rad, there will be none left for anyone else.

Last year I declared a "Summer of Awesome," a season for me and all the things I love to do. The most important take away from last summer was a reset of my priorities. I took a chainsaw to my life and began to rebuild and reshape based on what I'd learned about what I actually want from everything.

Summer 2011 will put Summer 2010 to shame. Not only will I do all the things I already love to do, but I'll introduce brand new things, gain new skills and experiences, and hopefully better myself in the process.

Honestly, my main goal is to make my real life at least half as awesome as it appears on Facebook.

Let's see how I do.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where are you going? Where have you been?

It's already near the end of April (I know, right?) so it's about time I looked back at those resolutions I made at the beginning of the year to hopefully re-ignite the fires of effort and progress.

On the last day of last year, I made the following goals for 2011:
  • Run another half marathon
  • Take a cross country road trip
  • Complete an Olympic distance triathlon (my first was a sprint distance)
  • Pay off my car (early)
  • Run the Spokane Marathon in October (the full marathon)
  • Get published
  • Read at least 10 books from the banned books list
  • Dine out once a week or less (unless someone else is paying, haha)
  • Make a will (I've been talking about this for years but have yet to do it)

I did end up running another half marathon, although it was only at the gym on a treadmill. As a result of my work schedule and my efforts to tighten down on spending, I've been running in a lot less of the organized races this year. The good news is that I'm still getting the most out of my gym membership, and if it continues to snow and hail every time I think about running outside...I may never run outdoors again.

There's also a definite check mark for making a will, thanks to Liz and the RocketLawyer website for making that so easy. That is one of those things that I just avoided because I thought it would be time consuming and sad.

I'll give you fair warning: it was definitely sad.

If you've even taken stock of the life you've made and the people you've come to know, you can relate. If that's something you've never done, there's no time like right now.

When I was done filling everything out, I got up and walked around the house a bit, and it was incredibly surreal how disconnected I felt from all of the objects I've brought into my space. I found that what I wanted to do more than anything else was to grab the dogs and go sit out in the yard.

So that's what I did.

Then I called some friends to grab breakfast the next day and to be the witnesses for my will. The thing that really stuck with me in this process is that my first response to thinking about my own death was not to bemoan the fact that I haven't seen all of TruBlood, or to cry about the possessions I would leave behind, but to grab the living things and reach out to the people I care about. Wills are important because they give the people you leave behind some sense of closure; clear instructions to follow when the world seems confusing and scary.

So yeah, sad for sure. But honestly, it wasn't time consuming at all. If anyone out there is reading this and doesn't have a will yet, the RocketLawyer site is offering free wills throughout the month of April, check it out here:

Out of the sadness and back to the goal list:

My reading habits are still a pale shadow of what they used to be. I'm only two books in to my 10 book challenge. So far, I've read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The problem here might be that the library is just too close to my house. Seeing it every day lures me into a false sense of ease about gaining access to books.

At this point I won't say that I'm completely off or on the track for completing my other goals. The year is still young and anything can happen.

What I can say is that I'm a total rock star at not going out to eat. I wish I could say it was because of my iron will, but actually it's because my schedule makes it so that I'm nowhere near an eating establishment when it's actually time to eat. I may find myself walking by O'dougherty's 9am. Or perhaps driving by the Dairy 11pm when it's 25 degrees.

This wasn't a goal that I set before, but I'd like to say right now that I will not go so long in the future without writing a post for this blog. A month and a half is ridiculous, especially by internet standards.

So there you have it, the goals are set! The time is now! Go Go!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

a retrospective on the future

This week wraps up my first quarter of being an adjunct instructor. The past eleven weeks have been an interesting experience to say the least.

Being the one wielding the dry erase pens and flipping through the slideshow is an entirely different experience than sitting slack-jawed and passive, eyes glazed and mind wandering; like I did for the first 25 years of my classroom experiences.

Seeing all these faces ready to soak up knowledge makes me think of myself when I was in college.The first day of classes I was always so on top of things, bright-eyed, ready to listen and learn, fresh pens and notecards at the ready.

Well, alright...maybe not the entire first day...maybe the first half of the

Okay. Honestly, my inner go-getter was ready to be a go-outsider or go-homer within about the first 15 minutes of each class. Maybe less.

As soon as that slideshow came into focus on the projector screen and the professor began to drone on and on in the way only a teacher can, I was ready to be out of there. Outside. Anywhere.

I'm pretty sure I avoided the freshman fifteen solely by fidgeting.

Graphic Design is my life, I should have been listening, I should have been hanging on every word.

But I wasn't, and I didn't.

I learned only for the tests and put in the minimal effort that I had to in order to get by. Monday at 8 am often found me struggling to complete a project that was due for my 9 am class; a project that we'd had four weeks to finish; a project that I hadn't even started.

So yeah, I get it.

I get that even when you're learning something that you find fascinating, or something that's essential for your career, the shear fact that you're required to be there makes you resist.

That, I understand.

What I never understood before is how amazingly frustrating and awful it can be to watch people who are so talented and so full of potential throw up walls for themselves. There's no way I could have understood what it's like to hear the same excuses over and over again and to know for a fact that they're fiction.

Students who should be flying through this material are never even beginning, or quitting halfway through, or not showing up at all...but don't you worry, they can tell you why:

-The weather was bad
-My significant other was sick
-I have kids
-I have pets
-I have that "throat thing"
-My car wouldn't start
-I work two jobs
-My roommate keep me awake


Go ahead, give me a reason, I can guarantee you I've heard it before, I've probably used it myself.

The delightful irony here is that I have to show up for every single scheduled class. Regardless of whether or not my car starts, if I twist my ankle, if someone dies, if I'm sick, if it's -6 degrees, if my other job made me tired or the schedule conflicted, I have to be there. It must be some kind of cosmic punishment for my decades as a world champion slacker.

Not only do I have to be there, but I'm acutely aware of who isn't there. I never expected to care, but I do.

It makes me feel amazing when people who were struggling begin to do better just because they refused to give up

It matters to me who is slipping though the cracks, it matters who is making a conscious decision to fail. Because that's exactly what it is: a choice. If someone had told me that when I was in school, I would have laughed in their face.

I would have said, "What the hell are you talking about?! Of course it's not my choice, it's not my fault, stuff just happens that keeps from getting things done."

But when I look back I see a very different picture. I see my instructors trying to push me in the right direction but never being able to get my full attention or effort applied to anything. I see countless hours of time I spent avoiding work when I could have spent one hour completing it.

I see now that my excuses were my way of saying "I'm not accountable for my own life."

This is not to say that I won't make excuses for things anymore, because I surely will. But now I will be a little more honest with myself about why I'm making them.

So what incredible new insight did I draw from my first 12 weeks?

Simply this:

I should keep teaching. I might learn something.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Just Barely

Yesterday I was running, like I am most of the time, and thinking about all the things I need to get done before the end of the week. There are papers to grade, a quiz to write, two lectures to prepare, housecleaning, grocery shopping, running all the miles to beat Erin and Liz, some get-togethers with friends, and a few freelance projects that are screaming to be completed.

All of these things swirling around in my head made me paralyzed, every cell in my brain screeched to a halt. I couldn't even begin to organize things into sections that seemed manageable, because there didn't seem to be enough time between events to complete each of the tasks in their entirety.

And that led me to wonder:

Why do I feel like I need to wait to start something until I have a huge chunk of time to complete the task...when I know for a fact that I never have a huge chunk of time?

Seems to me that I've created an elaborate system to avoid getting anything done, thereby keeping myself in constant agony over the things that aren't happening.

Things don't need to get done all the way, all at once. They can be completed in increments.

Such a novel concept, I know.

If you missed the first day of your exercise or diet program, you don't need to wait for a new week or a new month to try again.
- Your body doesn't know it's not Monday

If you don't have time to clean the entire bathroom/living room/kitchen whatever, that doesn't mean you can't do a small amount to keep things sanitary.
-Your bathroom doesn't care that you cleaned the floor by swishing a paper towel around with your foot instead of scrubbing on your hands and knees

Not preparing a six course meal for your family or friends is not a crime.
-Your kids don't see ordering a pizza for dinner as a parenting fail, they see it as awesome

There are some things that don't need to made top priority.
-Your neighbors aren't sneaking into your yard at night to measure the height of your grass with a ruler (and if they are you need a better fence or a bigger dog)

Just barely is better than not at all.