Race report: Army Ten-Miler, October 12, 2014

In keeping with tradition, the ol’ race report arrives a week late!  Well, more of a brisk walk, but I really do hope this whole walking-my-race-instead-of-running-it will be coming to an end.  I want to run, dangit!  I want to feel tired, out of breath, I want to pass people, I want to chase those who pass me, I want to feel the victory of crossing the finish line!

One day, I shall return to that.  This was not that day.

Let’s start with the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) race expo.  Like all race expos, it was all about BUY, BUY, BUY!  So much “essential” stuff for enthusiastic runners to buy, all sorts of cutesy, ultra-feminine things (barf) geared towards women.  Gag me with a spoon.  I went only to get my race packet, which went pretty smoothly, except for one thing: the shirt.

When I got to the t-shirt table, some woman explained that they were out of Women’s X-Small (I didn’t even know that was an option!), Small, and Medium, but that they had a Men’s Small.  She looked at me inquiringly, as if she’d given me some kind of option.  “Umm, ok, since the alternative is no shirt,” I said.  It would have helped (no, actually, it wouldn’t have) if she really had asked a question.  Then the stupid look on her face might have made sense.  I was really annoyed, because I’d paid a lot of money for this race, as had a lot of other people, several months in advance, and now pretty much all the Women’s t-shirts are gone??!?  Unacceptable.  I took my ugly, ill-fitting Men’s shirt and pouted my way through the rest of the expo.

And now, race day.  This was the first race in several months where it was outright COLD in the morning.  I think back to the VA Beach half marathon and how it was so comfortably warm in the morning, only to become steamy through the race.

I don’t know why, but I always feel so sleepy when I wake up on race morning, even though I would definitely be up at that time on a weekday.  So my brilliant idea was that, to really wake myself up, and avoid the crush of already-smelly people (yes, runners stink before a race) on the Metro, I would bike to the Pentagon.  It was chilly, yes, but the ride itself was nice and easy, since it was all flat or downhill.  And that early in the morning, it was really peaceful, just me and the streetlights, and a couple cars here and there.  Can’t say I saw anyone else be savvy and bike to the race site.

Once I was there, then I saw the throngs of people, both standing around and spilling out of the Metro (oh I’m so glad I did not ride it).  Once I’d given away my bag in Gear Check, I could not wait for the ATM to begin, because I just wanted to start moving!  Now, this is a race with thousands, no, tens of thousands of people, so meticulous planning is required to make sure the race, especially the start, does not turn into a nightmare.  I would say that the ATM staff did a pretty good job.  It helped a lot that I started in my original wave, Wave 4, though I was fully aware of being THAT annoying slow person whom everybody passes.  But hey, I didn’t want a completely-bruised ego.

I was carrying a water bottle with me, so I didn’t need to slow down (haha) at any of the aid stations, other than to dodge other races and the multitude of cups on the road.  When you’re going to have 26,000 people coming through each aid station, it can be hard to keep it stocked in a timely manner, but I think the volunteers all did a good job.

I like that when I was around Mile 8, going over the bridge from DC back into VA, one guy said to me, “You’re not even sweating!”  To which I responded, “This is EEEASY!”  Even though I was just walking, I wasn’t going to waddle along like it was a walk in the part,  Oh no.  I still intended to get some exercise out of it.

When I finally finished, in over two hours (hangs head), my Garmin had recorded me as having traversed 10.11 miles, to give me a pace of 13:27/mile.  Wowee, I didn’t know I could walk that fast!  That’s even faster than my pace for the Philadelphia half marathon.  Well, I don’t plan on becoming a professional racewalker.  Just so we’re all clear, I’d rather be running.

I did happen to run into a couple friends at the end, which was nice.  As we headed back towards Gear Check/Metro, we saw humongous piles of clothing.  These were the jackets, long-sleeved tees, etc. discarded by runners, which are normally rounded up and donated to charity.  But I guess the ATM wanted the racers to have first dibs, so it was funny to see people wading through piles of other people’s clothing, looking for a steal.  I jokingly said that I was looking for a Women’s Small lululemon jacket.  Surprise, I didn’t find one!  I did let myself get talked into a large cycling jacket, which I’ve washed and is now sitting in my dryer.  But I’ve had second thoughts and I don’t actually want to wear it, so I’ll re-donate it!

Anyways, it was time to go home.  One benefit to walking was that my legs still had plenty of energy to pedal my bike, uphill, back home.  It was nice to have a race so close by, only a five-mile ride.  And then I relaxed for the rest of the day, but it was still only day 3 of my four-day weekend, yay!

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What happened today

Something happened to me today that was unimaginably terrible. Thinking back to it now, when I am in a rational state of mind, who cares what others say about me? But at that time, it was so incredibly painful and just brought back a flood of bad memories from high school. Here’s what happened:

At the end of my bike ride, I stopped at the Washington-Lee high school track to cool down a bit, since it was such a nice day. A few minutes later, several students came out of the building (early dismissal? break? lunch?) and soon a group of boys were sitting high in the bleachers as I sat on the field, stretching out.   I could hear them saying some things and, paranoid as I am, I thought they were talking and laughing about me. But I ignored them… and it continued.

At one point, one of these boys sat down right near me, ostensibly doing some stretches himself, but got up and went back to his group after about five seconds. I heard the boys say, “Did she say anything?” (I hadn’t.) I got done with my yoga/stretches (and then I heard them saying, “Noo!” to the fact that I wasn’t going to be their target anymore) and was about to go back to my bike and leave. At the last second, I instead marched up into the bleachers and confronted them. “Do you all have some kind of problem?” Complete, utter silence. “Is there some reason you were saying things to me?” More idiotic silence. “I don’t appreciate you all yelling at me. Try to act like adults.” I might as well have been talking to rocks.

I went back to my bike, and then one of those kids came up to me with a, “Ma’am?” I turn around. “I’m really sorry about what happened.”

I pressed him a bit, and his only explanation were that they were “stupid and immature” (hey, no argument from me!”). I accepted his apology, but all it did was to give me absolute confirmation that, yes, I had been the butt of their joking. Because without that one kid apologizing, I could still have gone with the belief that I was just being paranoid, and the kids were weirded out that I’d come to talk to them for no reason.

Sadly, my suspicions had been right. As I got on my bike to go home, the floodgates opened and I started crying. I had sunglasses on but still, I needed to get out of sight of those boys first. And then I started weeping uncontrollably.

It sucks, it’s just so awful. Rationally thinking, why would I care what a group of teenage boys whom I don’t even know are saying about me? But I recognize that my emotional response was irrational, as it stirred up painful memories from two decades ago, two decades ago, that could have just happened yesterday, they were so strong. All throughout high school, I was teased because I was different. I was book-smart, homely-looking, shy, awkward, and oh yeah I was one of the only people in the school who was something other than black or white.

The difference back then was that it was the snob squad (the group of rich, pretty, big-breasted girls) who instigated the incessant teasing. The boys who fawned over them would of course join in, but it was primarily the girls.

I thought that being done with high school, becoming an adult, and really discovering myself would have spelled an end to all that. Not so at all. What have I done to deserve this? And how am I ever going to conquer this kind of trigger?

 

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Book #14: Bleak House, by Charles Dickens

I’m finally done with this book! Let’s all rejoice!! This 880-page novel was not easy to get through, and I think it must have taken me a good two months, or more, to finish. It didn’t help that I only read it during my commutes, primarily my morning commutes, because who wants to read in the evening after a day full of reading patents and patent applications? Not I!

So why did I decide to read Charles Dickens’ Bleak House? Because I watched the TV miniseries on DVD, which begs the question…. why did I watch the TV miniseries? Bleak House is not the kind of book I’d normally read, nor the type of DVD I’d usually watch. But it was all because of Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame, of course), who played one of the main characters, Lady Dedlock. So, because of her, I made myself watch the miniseries, and it was somewhat interesting, interesting enough that I wanted to read the book so that I could get a better understanding of the story. And of course, a screenplay movie/TV show can never convey all that’s in the book.

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Thus, I naively started on this tome, thinking that, since I knew the story, it would be a breeze to get through it. I was wrong, haha.

So what is this story about? I was recently trying to explain to someone and, even though I’d been reading this book for weeks, I still fumbled through an explanation. Let me try now…

Three young adults, who are more or less orphans, are put together (they did not previously know each other) under the care of a gentle old man, Mr. Jarndyce. Ada Clare, Richard Carstone, and Esther Summerson find solace in knowing each other, knowing that they’re not alone. Ada and Richard are distant cousins, and also distant cousins of Mr. Jarndyce.

Now, it would seem like, based on everything we’ve read/seen before, this old man would actually turn out to be evil and turn out to hurt his wards (the orphans), but nothing could be farther from the truth. Mr. Jarndyce is always kind to them, especially to Esther, who holds a special place in this heart.

Ada and Richard are also entwined in a very long-running suit of Jarndyce & Jarndyce, which, comically, never seems to settle, though poor Richard becomes more and more fervent that the money he and Ada will acquire from it will solve any problems they might have.  Richard pursues one profession after another- doctor, lawyer, Army cadet- but can never set his heart on any of them because he is obsessed with Jarndyce & Jarndyce, although Mr. Jarndyce, their guardian, has warned them all not to rely on that suit, that it’ll ruin their lives.

Another story line in Bleak House, which is related to the first by way of Esther Summerson, is that of Lady Dedlock.  Before she was married she had an affair with a man of low ranks, with whom she had a child, but was soon thereafter told the child had died.  Fast forward several years later and she learns of 1) this man has just died, 2) correspondence (i.e. love letters) between he (Captain Hawdon) and she (Honoria) still existed and had potentially been found, and 3) her daughter, whom she had believed all these years to be dead, was alive and right there, but Lady Dedlock (as she is now known) could not let anyone know of her love-child for fear of the shame it would bring to the Dedlock name and especially to her husband.

This book is full of happiness, sadness, deceit, and everything in between.  It’s long, very, very long, and you might be tempted to skim a few pages, or chapters.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book; although it’s not terrible, I didn’t feel altogether fulfilled by reading it.  It’s just too long.  Very drawn out.  Like I said in the beginning, I only read it because of Gillian Anderson.  Oh Gillian, what a hold you still have over me.

My next book is going to make up for this one and be a fun, easy read.  I plan to pick up Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?.

 

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Race report: Philadelphia 5K and half marathon, September 20-21, 2014

Alright! It’s about time this race report got written!

This was a really fun weekend spent “racing” and sightseeing around Philadelphia, since it was my first time in the City of Brotherly Love.

It was to be my third and final Rock ‘n’ Roll Series race of 2014. At the end of last year, I’d bought a 3-pack Tourpass, and so I used this Tourpass for DC, VA Beach, and now Philadelphia. It’s all about the extra medal! (As I’d later find out, I had several extra medals to gather!)

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Saturday was the inaugural 5K, and I think a lot of people signed up for it so they could get the medal for the Remix Challenge (5K on Saturday, half marathon on Sunday). That’s why I signed up, hehe, but it turns out that race day/weekend wasn’t really going to be what I had hoped. And I mean that in terms of where I was/am in the healing process, not the race itself. The 5K was well-organized, I thought, though the course wasn’t all that imaginative. It was just down and back on MLK Jr. Blvd. It was cool to see the fastest runners coming back. And it was also different for me in that I walked the 5K. But it’s only 3.1 miles, and I knew I’d be done in less than an hour, so no sweat.

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No, I’m no racewalker, but I did see a couple who were racewalking and, wow! They were so fast! They effortlessly passed me and several slower runners, and they didn’t have a weird-looking gait. According to my Garmin, I walked a total of 3.12 miles (pretty darn accurate to the intended distance) in 43:17, for a pace of 13:52/minute. I guess I surprised myself; I didn’t know I could walk that fast!

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What was nice was that my hotel (fancy and very expensive!) was really close to the race site, a leisurely 15-minute walk. So there was none of the stress of navigating my way through the city/suburbs/public transportation to get there. So once I got back to my hotel room and ate/showered/changed, I headed out for a day of exploring and sight-seeing. I felt like I walked a lot, but I didn’t track the distance, though my feet were achy by the end of the day. Good thing the next day’s half-marathon would be another walk in the park!

Sunday morning arrived and, even though I was going to be doing a looooong walk, I prepped just as I would for any other race day. And then it was a short walk to the race. The weather was also really great that day. It’d gotten a bit warm Saturday morning, but Sunday was perfect. Even though it was comfortable at the start to just be standing around in shorts and a tank top, the temperature didn’t go up at all until the afternoon, when the race was over. During the race, it was cloudy most of the time, and it felt like the same temperature as at 7am.

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I really liked the Philadelphia half marathon course. Not because it was all flat, which it was, but because of the route itself. It started by going downtown and I mentally checked off places I’d seen the previous day, and looped back to the starting area (and I was able to catch sight of some of the fastest people nearing the finish, or at least I think they were…) and followed a river, I can’t remember the name of it. But the course was scenic, and I really enjoyed that, especially since I was just walking along, though I felt like I was walking faster than I ever have before. Around Mile 11, my feet started to feel extremely achey and I thought, “Oh geez, just let me finish this darn thing. Not now!” But then I got over it et voila, the finish line was finally nigh.

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For this race, I ended up walking a total of 13.44 miles, so either the course wasn’t accurate, or I walked a lot of outside edges. I don’t think it was all me, though, because right when my watch indicated 13.1 miles, another guy near me said to his buddy that 13.1 should be right there. I had been been doing some wishful thinking and just wondering if I could make a sub-3:00 finish. I ended up finishing in 3:02; had the distance been exactly 13.1 miles, I would have met this lofty goal! Still, it came out to a 13:34/minute pace, which, oddly enough, is even faster than what I’d done the previous day with a much shorter distance.

After I’d collected all my medals (and oh boy did my neck feel heavy then!), I headed back to my hotel room, showered and packed up, and relaxed a bit in the lobby before heading over to the Megabus pickup spot. And then meant taking the subway, which I thought was pretty shoddy and which made me appreciate DC’s metro system SO MUCH MORE.

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I’m glad I was able to get away for the weekend and have a good time, even if it meant doing something different than what I had expected.

 

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Race report: VA Beach Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon, Aug. 31, 2014

Someone once said that the better a race goes, the faster the race report gets written. So, conversely, the worse it goes, the longer the write-up takes. Seeing as how it’s been nearly two weeks since the VA Beach Rock & Roll ½, form your own conclusions.

I hadn’t been feeling too well, physically, but I was determined to do this race. I knew that, like so many in recent memory, it wasn’t going to be anywhere near competitive for me, but my primary determination for this race was to make it seem that nothing was out of the ordinary. Since I’d traveled back to my hometown, my parents accompanied me and I did not want them to worry about me. Also, I had hoped that putting myself into the right state of mind might work some miracles. Or maybe not… haha.

On Saturday, we went down to Virginia Beach so I could pick up my race packet from the expo.   I remember, back about a decade or so ago, race expos seemed a lot more fun. There were lots of free samples and info. But now, they’re just one big marketplace. It’s nauseating to see all those vendors hocking their products as if each one of them is so essential. And then people are grabbing up those products for their race the very next day, even though one of the golden rules is to never try something new on race day. Sigh… when will people learn?

I got my race packet, my “fitted” (big and baggy) tech-tee, and a couple of pics from the Brooks photobooth, and did my obligatory Expo walkaround before leaving. Back home we went.

Sunday morning everyone got up early to take me to Virginia Beach again. I have to hand it to my parents: I was such a severe inconvenience, and yet they helped me out anyway. I don’t always show them my appreciation, so I definitely need to get better at that.

Well, we got to the race site with plenty of time to spare, but then standing in the eternally-long port-a-potty line cut down that cushion. And although the temperature at pre-7am felt extremely comfortable in shorts and a tank top, it wasn’t a good thing. We all know what happens as the day goes on and as one’s running- things heat up! And heat up it did. Sunday, August 31st was a very roasty day; it was reminiscent of when I ran the LA Marathon (more than once). Sprinklers, wet sponges, lots and lots of sweat, and heat and humidity. And as I crossed the finish line (my slowest ), I did so drenched in sweat, water, and Gatorade. Typical of a race… a good race :)

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So even though it was my slowest half-marathon time ever, and even though I had to walk several times, and even though I was in excruciating pain afterwards, I put on a happy face and made myself have a good time.

Here’s hoping that one day I will be back to good physical health and happy to be racing again! Until then, I’ll just keep up a happy attitude while my body eventually heals itself.

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Race report: Luray International Triathlon, 8/16/2014

Hooray for Luray! I returned for the Luray International Triathlon after two years (since I and several co-workers had gone up to Mont Tremblant last year) and it was just as tough as I remembered it to be! Well, I guess I can really only say that for the bike course, since I didn’t do the run last time. While the run course in itself wasn’t tough, coming right after a monstrous bike ride left my legs feeling like… well, feeling like they couldn’t move after the race. It’s like that “oh it hurts so good!” feeling ;-)

I left DC headed towards Luray on Friday afternoon with a couple of co-workers and we got stuck right in the middle of rush-hour traffic. Yuck! This is what people deal with every day, twice a day??? No thank you!

Once we got to Luray, right about 6pm, we headed to packet pick-up at Appalachian Outdoor Adventures, where we were greeted by a bear, and I just had to get a picture (or two or three, as you’ll see later).

Because one can never have too many cute bear pictures...

And then we headed to our cabin. I was curious to check this place out, since we had stayed at a hotel (more likely a motel) last time. We had to drive up a gravelly dirt road, and it took a couple of tries to find the place. Let’s just it’s a good thing it wasn’t dark yet! But the cabin itself was pretty nice and spacious, aside from the sick taxidermy fetish.

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Then we went to dinner at Mimslyn Inn- I remembered seeing the menu last time and it wasn’t very vegan-friendly. Nothing had changed. A substandard vegan meal, combined with very slow service, some guy wailing on his guitar (or whatever instrument it was), and my sleepiness means that I wouldn’t recommend this place. By the time we got back to the cabin, I just put my things together for the next morning’s race and then went to bed.

Race morning, yay! I woke up early, as I always do, and got race-ready. When I stepped outside I discovered that- yikes!- it was kind of cold out there! I was definitely feeling like it should be wetsuit weather. Imagine being wet and then stepping into the cold air. Not fun.

When my cabin-mates were ready as well, we all headed down to Lake Arrowhead. We were very close, only about a mile, but the road was gravelly, and riding our bikes there wouldn’t have been smart. Lake Arrowhead, as I remembered it from last time, was still so pretty.

Looking out at Lake Arrowhead before the International race.

Ok, enough background, let’s get on to the actual race!

The Swim: The water temperature was a nice 77°F, in contrast to the 55°F air. Since the water was still within the wetsuit-legal limit of 78°F, I decided to wear my wetsuit. The past two triathlons I did this summer, I didn’t wear a wetsuit and my legs had just felt like dead logs on the bike and run, because I’d expended so much energy kicking to stay afloat. Well, I didn’t want to make that same mistake again, even though I was worried about the amount of time it takes me to get the darn wetsuit off. I’m happy to report that I swam what is very likely my fastest 1500m open-water swim ever, though it was by no means fast by other people’s standards, just by my standards. And that’s all that really matters.

In addition to the wetsuit, what helped was having the various swim waves start only two minutes apart. What that meant was that I was always surrounded by people, and oh boy I didn’t realize that open-water swimming was such a contact sport! I was jostled from every which side, even knocked on the head twice, but at least the proximity of other swimmers helped me to stay on track and not let the current carry me too far off course. Right near the end, some guy waved his arm into my face and my goggles got shoved a bit. Still on my face, but I don’t think I had a tight seal anymore, but I was right at the end, so I just kept my face above water.

T1: Oh, the long slog from the lake up to transition. The path was really gravelly (noticing a theme?), so I’d kept my flip-flops by the beach. As I got out of the water, I ran through a sandy path and put them on (so now I’ve got sand stuck on my feet, great) and continued on the path, up the stairs (stairs, in a transition!) and to the transition area. Unlike in most triathlons where I have this crazy problem of not being able to find my bike, I quickly found my bike because I’d laid a bright pink towel on the ground next to it. And I’m glad that, while my wetsuit did not effortlessly come off, my legs were only stuck in it for a few seconds and was able to pull it off. Maybe the BodyGlide helped? Who knows, but I think I need to buy a sleeveless wetsuit, because it definitely felt like a lot of work to be swinging my arms around, encased in all that neoprene.

The Bike: From last time, I remembered the bike course to be tough, but I was still rudely surprised. Especially by that last hill, er, mountain. Maybe it wasn’t that steep, but after about 25 miles of hills, it was not a pleasant sight for sore legs. The course itself was nice and scenic, though. Small homes, large farms, cows grazing by the side of the road. Of course, with animals come smells… One thing I definitely did not like seeing was a sign at someone’s farm for “Broilers”. “Broiler”, of course, means broiler chickens, which means a factory farm. And, sure enough, I saw a long, low row of buildings inside which I am certain must have been hundreds of chickens being fattened for imminent death.

Ugh. Anyways.

I can’t say that I passed many people on the bike, but at least I didn’t get a flat! At one point, though, in the second half of the course, I started to hear a flapping sound, so of course my first thought was, “Oh great, I got a flat!” But I didn’t want to stop and actually check it because, and it’s really weird logic, I didn’t want to know if my tire had started going flat. Ignorance is bliss, or something like that. Well, several miles later, the noise stopped. My best guess is that something from the road got caught in the spokes or something. I’m glad the trouble-maker dislodged itself! I’ll just say that that’s the reason I was being passed by everyone, including people in sneakers.

T2: Nothing too memorable here, except we came in the same way we’d gone out, so that meant some of us had to cross the whole transition area both before and after the bike. Not that the race staff could have done it differently, since the other side was coming up a hill from the lake. Anyways, I was glad to get rid of my bike, but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d hold up on the run, since my legs already felt spent. But the good thing is that they didn’t feel like dead weights (as in the past two tris I did), thanks to the ol’ wetsuit. At this point I was just going on momentum, so it was easier to just follow through on the rest of the race than to consciously assess myself. That’s probably what most people do, because if we actually stopped to ask ourselves how we felt, 75% of the people would just stop and take a nap ;-)

The Run: Not too tough on its own, but after that bike course, these rolling hills were challenging. The run course wasn’t all that scenic, just basically going up and back on one road, twice. Plus a tiny detour up and down a gravel path. I’m assuming that was done to get the distance, but I’m sure it could have been done better another way. The run course was the most fun part because of all the people I got to see (most were ahead of me, and were on an opposing leg of the loop). There was a woman who called out my name—well, she said, “Heena”, but close enough—and I’m not 100% sure who she was. She didn’t have DC Tri gear on, but I have a guess as to who that was. What I should have done was emailed her this past week to confirm that!

The weather at this point was warm, but definitely not as bad as a certain other triathlon from two years ago (General Smallwood, I’m looking at you). The aid stations were still quite helpful though, since I’d decided not to carry my own water bottle. At one point I took a cup of HEED and—I don’t know what that stuff really is, and it seemed really watered down—but it tasted that unsweetened liquid cotton candy, if that makes any sense. Or, how I imagine unsweetened liquid cotton candy would taste. Yeah, um, no thanks. I’ll stick to water from now on.

The finish line was a nice site, and it’s always fun to see and hear throngs of cheering spectators. I don’t know if the announcer said my name as I approached the finish line. If he did, I’m absolutely certain he mispronounced it. The bane of my existence. Well, this makes it all worth it:

All in a day's work!

Mission accomplished. All in a day’s work.

Hey, hot stuff!

 

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Je m’ennuie, encore…

I’ve lately been feeling a terrible sense of ennui. That, in itself, is really nothing new, but the boredom has been more and more overpowering lately. It’s gotten so bad that I’m yearning to do something drastic- buy a home, dye my hair blonde, get my tongue pierced- just for a change. Of course, I really don’t want to do any of those things, and therein lies my problem. I want change, but I don’t want to actually do anything to create that change. Years and years (decades?) of post-secondary school have turned me off of education; I have no desire to learn anything new. What the heck am I supposed to do???

In a way, this ennui is just a manifestation of the feeling I’ve had since college, maybe even since high school, that everyone else’s life is moving forward, while mine is stuck on pause. Friends start dating, they get engaged, they get married, they have kids– and pretty soon their kids will start having kids!– while I will still be at Stage Zero, getting excited just because a remotely-attractive guy talked to me. Isn’t this what I should have been going through, oh, two decades ago?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really have no strong desire to be part of a couple. If I did, I’d have made more than a lousy, half-hearted effort in that endeavor. I guess I’m just pretty comfortable with the status quo and, even though it’d be nice to have the benefits of a relationship, I don’t want to change anything about my life. And hence a reprisal of the conundrum that is my life.

Not having anything changing in my life isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It means stability, and stability is good because it means less stress. But oh what I wouldn’t give just to shake up my routine a little! Even though day-to-day it feels like I’m doing the exact same thing at work, I know that I’m advancing. Just thinking about how much I’ve achieved in my less than 2 ½ years at work should be some consolation, but the overpowering sensation I feel is, where do I go from here? What do I plan to do with my life?

I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out. I’m 34 and yet I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anywhere near as much as I would have envisioned when I was 18 and about to graduate from high school. There’s really no point in just sitting and complaining about it, though. I’ve got to be the change!   

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