Yesterday I turned 34.

I had originally not planned on doing anything. I had heard there was a show on my birthday. Slipknot. Really – I haven’t been to a show like this in years. YEARS. I blew it off for a while.

The July 4th weekend I went out to visit middle brother. He just bought a house and I hadn’t seen it. So I went out to hang and view, porch beers – good times! The show got brought up again. I joked it was on my birthday. “no no, I don’t want to go.” I’m too old for that, I thought.

A few days later, I decided that was a lie I was telling myself. I text both brothers to see if they were available, bought lawn tickets and BOOM. We’re going. I hemmed and hawed about it for the next 2 weeks. I tried to think of excuses as to why I wouldn’t be able to make it. Even driving to Syracuse, I was still trying to think of a way to get out of it.

But then I got to middle brother’s house. We cracked a beer, started catching up on life. Little brother showed. We went to dinner. Conversations ensued between the brothers of memories I’d missed at College (which apparently there may be some friendly – i hope- resentment over the fact I wasn’t there). We were being ridiculous, and laughed a ton.

Next step – the show. The venue was new, none of us had been there. Parking was curious, but we met up with some other people. We had some good convo, hot sun, hopped on the shuttle and went to the show.

Oh. My. God.

I had so much fun! SO. MUCH. FUN. It’s been a while since the three of us hung out (and the last time, honestly, didn’t end that well – sorry O). But holy love i had the best time. We rocked out, jumped around. J went in the mosh pit, got a bit beat up. Seriously, why had I even had any hesitations?

I have said this to both bros, but I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun. Just me and my fam, rocking out, freedom, fun and music. I used to think I didn’t know what it meant to have fun anymore. But, depression lies. Fun is real. I can have it. So can you.

Love. Family. Music. Smiles.

Happy Birthday.



I don’t think you understand music, dude.

Today I went on a walk with my friend and her baby. She a close friend, one I’ve met as an adult. We have an adult friendship – we work through the personal and professional difficulties of being a 30something together. I would certainly consider her one of my closest friends.

I told her I’d decided to go to a concert with my brothers for my 34th birthday, coming up soon. “Which one?” “Slipknot and Marilyn Manson.” A stunned looked popped on to her face. “Oh! I didn’t know you liked that kind of music! Well good for you, I’m sure it’ll be a good time.”

At first I quickly had the thought “she didn’t know I liked that music??” flash across my mind with the same stunned reaction her face had portrayed. But of course she didn’t! I’ve only known her a few years, and over the last 3-4 years I’ve let a lot of my previous personal interests slip away.

As I recounted this conversation a few hours later, chuckling to myself, I am reminded of a brief encounter I’d had with this guy about 9 ish years ago, now. We only chatted a few times, but one time he asked me what sort of music I listened to. I rattled off a few bands I was into at the time: Korn, Hatebreed, a few others. Then he made some obnoxious comment, not all of which I remember word for word, but the gist was he was more mature than I because he wasn’t interested in music for its “shock value.” I was left extraordinarily confused. Shock value? The music, I wondered? Or the fact that I, specifically, liked it. (Let’s be honest, I don’t exactly look the part of your typical metal fan. Or gangsta rap fan, as far as that goes, but I had a huge poster of DMX on my wall all through college. But, that’s how ruff ryders roll.)

In reflecting on that conversation of so many years ago, I am still dumbfounded. Music is lifeblood. When I am angry and frustrated, I want to just rage out to some Lamb of God. When I’m ready to party I’m throwing on some Dre, or Snoop, or Bone Thugs. When I’m feeling emotional, Pearl Jam, Our Lady Peace, that’s the way to go. Feeling sexy? Where’s my Genuine album?!  When I need to relax or calm down, I throw on WMHT and listen to some Beethoven or Mozart. How is this shocking? This is what music is for.

Granted, I am now also left to wonder why I have, over the past few years, abandoned what is perhaps my most cathartic and effective method of stress and emotional relief. However, I am also left to wonder again about that shock-value comment. At the time I was super offended. Now, whatever that guy’s name was, I just feel bad for him. I feel bad that he doesn’t understand music and the power it holds. It’s sad he’s never going to fully understand the power of music.

At least this whole exchange has ignited my desire to write again. While I dig myself out of this seemingly never-ending pit of grey, I’ll throw on the hip hop bbq Pandora station. Or, better yet, I’ll dust off my book of Clementi sonatinas and tickle the ivories for a bit….

Those “small” things


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Earlier tonight, I thought about writing a post about the “small things.” Those tiny little moments that just randomly make you smile. It’s been a long 2 days. It’s been a long, long. All has been stressful, even the long weekend. I needed some smiles.

I thought about writing this post, when I saw my Cash kitten sitting in an open window (small thing number 1 – window open), noticed how adorable he was (small thing number 2) and that he was “fighting off” the rain drops (small thing #3).

Then I got some “big news.” The dog of a friend of mine is cancer free. Maybe doesn’t seem that huge, but Zuzu, the dog, is one of my first dog-friends. I used to be TERRIFIED of dogs. So much so that when Zuzu (ahem, a puggle) was a puppy (ahem, like 5 lbs, maybe) she had to be put in a kennel the first time I went to visit said friend post-college. Since then, I was informed the expense and ridiculousness of kennelling this poor dog. I sucked it up, and Zu held no grudges and has loved the mother effing S out of me. Zu is more excited to see me than anything, slept with me on visits, never leaves my side when I am there. This may be my breakthrough dog (sorry Ollie!).

Zu had a tumor in her leg, the vet thought she’d have to have an amputation. As I drove to see her this last time,  I drove down thinking “this is it, this is the last time I see Zu. This is ‘my’ first ‘pet’ to go.” It sucked. When I got there, we weren’t sure, day after I left, it was tumor removal and some chemo/radiation. Today, homegurl is OK! She had her surgery for the tumor, needs NO chemo or radiation right now and absolutely NO amputation! Shake my head at “small” things, this is a “big” thing!

And then, Cash has figured out how to unplug my phone from every plug – socket, usb, or he just pulls it right out of the phone. Small thing or big thing?

Base Training: Month One

Well, today officially wraps up month one of the base training plan. There were a few snags, but overall – good!

Early in the month, I overdid it a bit on leg day and ended up slightly straining my hamstring. However, I was able to manage this with slowing up paces considerably, foam rolling, and stretching. I only had to cut one scheduled run short, and only by a mile.

I did not skip a single workout, though a few were rescheduled due to hamstring or “other life” issues. I topped off the month with 63 miles, and my hammy is feeling fine!

September adds in some longer weekend runs, and a 5th day of running during the week. I am hoping that the base building plan will allow me to function with higher mileage during actual training. Right now, we’re off to a good start!

When I Grow Up



I remember being in my early teens, finishing up middle school, beginning high school, and thinking I needed to have it all figured out. That I knew what I wanted to be (in 9th grade I was going to be a meteorologist, math classes informed me otherwise).  However, I was super stressed. I HAD to know. I remember my mom saying “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I thought she was ridiculous. As I write this, recalling my mother’s statement, I know that she wasn’t that much older than I am at this moment – still figuring it out. Normal.

About a year ago, I read The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. It was amazing, in content, form, and readability. A few months later I read Bonk by Mary Roach. Then it dawned on me, these women were WRITERS. They wrote books. Readable, informative, well-researched, awesome books – about science. I liked their books because I like science (I just don’t like math, yes I KNOW actual scientists need to be good at both, I read science writing. I don’t translate science into something readable. I am a consumer of science.)

I digress.

What was interesting here is that these women are experts in their fields. They research, they write, they are awesome. Why can’t I do that – in my field? Well, I didn’t think this was a “for real” career path. Until I read Katie Guest Pryal’s article on The Chronicle about  “freelance academics.” Uh, all the Yes in the world.

This is what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be an academic – but I won’t be let down if, after my PhD, I am unable to secure a tenure track position. I will still  be an expert, I will still research, I will still write. And now, thanks to Pryal, I will still be able to get my research out there and be a part of the conversation.

Let’s keep it going! Reach further, grow farther, write more. Be who you are.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


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This book. Oh, this book. This book brought me back to school. It schooled me. Toni Morrison called it “required reading,” and I could not agree more. There are parts of me that can’t think of this book without being infuriated and sad for the American condition.

Coates is brilliant. He’s a thinker, and a writer, and he demonstrates the duality of America and the inaccessibility of the American “Dream” in a beautifully poignant way. This book is marvelously uncomfortable. And everyone should read it.

Do you think there is a race problem in America? Do you think there is not a race problem in America? Do you think you understand race? Do you think you don’t understand race? Do you think race is even a “thing”? Have you ever thought or felt that someone else is in control of your body, regardless of how innocent you are of any wrong-doing? If any one of these describes you, even in the slightest, no matter what color or race you believe yourself to be, you should read this book. Coates captures perfectly the current state of America, of the dual histories of America, of the dual present of America. He articulates everything I ever wanted to say about race in America, but didn’t know how to exactly put the words together. Like a dream you just-sort-of remember, but cannot articulate completely.

Granted, his view is one among many, but his experiences are real and valid. If you don’t understand the outrage around the end of several young, black men’s lives recently, then you should read this book. If you think you understand the outrage, you should still read this book.

Coates is essentially writing a letter to his fifteen year old son, describing what it was like for Coates himself to grow up as a black man in America, and what he hopes it is and isn’t and knows it is and isn’t, for his son. Sounds a bit back and forth? Yes. That is part of the point.

This is a book I’ll read over and over. I’ll pick up and flip to a section and read, to understand (or try to understand) something so completely outside of myself and my own experiences. This book opened my eyes to the present in the same way W.E.B DuBois’ “The Soul of Black Folks” opened my eyes to the past. Whoever is reading this – your existence and perspective is not a complete story of a country, culture, society or nation. Step outside yourself. Open your mind. Read this book.

Let’s Get It Started!

Alright, August. Let’s do this!!

This week begins the base-building plan to precede my marathon training, beginning this winter. Why a training plan to prep for a training plan, you might ask? Well, without a training regimen, I tend to slack off at the gym, and/or become complacent and comfortable with a few 3-4 mile runs a week, and maybe some planks.

The base building plan I’ve chosen starts out fairly easily in August. Four runs a week, with none topping 5 miles. But, come September they start to ramp things up. A fifth day of running is added on, and mid week miles slowly climb up past 4-5, eventually up to 7-8! I’m excited. It’ll be good to get some serious miles in again. It’s been a while.

This will provide me some solid running fitness, while allowing me a few weeks to get into a more regular routine of strength training – focusing on hips, and core.

Reading-wise, August should be interesting. According to Goodreads, I am “currently reading” four books. I’d like to say I was just getting lazy with with my account, but no. I am actually juggling FOUR books right now. HA! I think I’ll likely be first done with the most recently started: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I’m about a third of the way through, and its absolutely wonderful in its rendering of the reality of a dual America. I can’t wait to finish it.

Who else has big plans for August? Why not start fresh in a new month?

July Summary

Well July ended up as a success! I did not do weekly round ups for the last two weeks as running was low – I recovered from the Boilermaker, and just “kept up” running. I finished off July with 68.3 miles. Considering I’ve only broken 100 miles/month during marathon training, I’ll take this as a win!

In other goals, during July I also signed up for the GRE!  I am scheduled to take it September 13. Game on. First next step to Dr. Cole!

Finally, the last big change this month is … I adopted a new cat! Saved from my own Pet Smart, where I have been volunteering with the local humane society for (gulp) the past 5 years! His name is Cash. He was at Pet Smart with me, and just so adorable. I couldn’t stop thinking about him! After 5 years of volunteering, admittedly, he’s not the only cat I’ve “thought about.” (Alexandra was the first cat I thought of taking home, my second week. Lovey dove grey and white, snug bug kitten.) However, before I get a second, serious thought, the cat is adopted – that IS the point, after all! This is what I thought happened with Cash. He was off the website, I assumed adopted, but no! He’d been taken back to the main shelter facility for an upper respiratory infection (common in shelter cats). Fourteen day antibiotic treatment. I was wishy-washy on taking him, figuring fate had already intervened. However, I still checked the website periodically. No commitment.

One day the volunteer team lead for Pet Smart emailed and said he was back on the floor, still not on the website. I assumed he got scooped up. THEN, he was back at  Pet Smart. Friday night. I waffled. Saturday morning, the 25th, I couldn’t stop thinking about this damn cat during my workout. After a shower and some food, I decided I would just drive out to Pet Smart and see if he was still there. He was. And now, he’s my little Cash-man! He and Dinah are getting along. She’s taken some coming around. Hes a huge snug bug and the best part of my July!


The Boilermaker and Weekly Wrap Up: 7/12/15



Well race number one of 2015 in the books! The Boilermaker is the first race I’ve run in quite some time! I ran it easy, no pressure, no expectations. Just got out there with the crowds enjoying myself, and trying to take it easy in the heat.

My goal was to trot across the finish line in under 2 hours, and I made that goal by 45 seconds! I took care to keep cool and hydrate so I didn’t finish the race feeling awful (like I did the last time I ran this race). I did a fair amount of walking (but not strolling) and felt good until toward the end. My upper back/neck got very tight. I am assuming this is a side effect of sitting at a desk a million hours a week. But other than that, I felt good enough to have some beers after!

I got a bit of a sunburn and made the poor choice of ice cream post race. My stomach did NOT agree. However, after some shower and some AC and a nap, I am feeling back to normal! I haven’t run outside much lately, nor did I “train” very hard for this race, so my legs are already feeling sore. But, just making me stronger! The only casualty of the race was my license, lost somewhere between bib pick up and my car. Sigh.

This week was easy on miles, but totaled at 18.3 with the race included.

What’s up next? Keeping up running for 3-5 days a week, while focusing on strength and core training. The formal base building plan begins on August 3. I’m also going to start slowly making over my diet so that I can get in the best shape possible for the Carmel Marathon next April!

No new books finished this week, but I am continuing the 21 days of calm on app. I am on day 11! I’m finding it helpful, but it certainly is going to take some practice!

Trying Out Mindfulness Meditation

It’s been a particularly trying few weeks. After many months of unexpected difficulties. So this seems like a good a time as any to introduce my new love of mindfulness meditation.

I’ll be honest, I have thought in the past that meditation (guided or otherwise) was a bunch of hokey hippie nonsense.

I was wrong.

After dealing with some … dark and negative times of my own – where the stress was too much, and the negative self talk was so, so bad  – I decided to give mindfulness meditation a try. And I am hooked. For 5, 10 ,15 minutes a day, I practice quieting my mind, and learning to turn it all off. I have noticed positive differences with only a few weeks of near daily practice. I react with less emotional impulsiveness, I can recognize when I am being unnecessarily negative in my self talk (though I haven’t really come close to mastering how to turn that off), and I’ve learned that I deserve, and need, some time to just BE – be alone, be quiet, be peaceful, be grateful.

I’ve also begun to use mindfulness techniques during my workouts. It takes my mind of the pain, the minutes left to go, the sometimes dragging boring-ness that comes with running miles and miles.

At this point, I’ve been using the meditation app from to begin my practice and learn the components of mindfulness meditation. I strongly recommend it! It’s available for both android and iphone!

Does anyone else practice mindfulness meditation?