Running Update: Less than Two Weeks Till Wichita!


On Saturday, I got up early and ran. I had to get up early to beat the heat. Also, I didn't want to have a long run hanging over my head all day. 

I ran 11 miles in 116 minutes. That comes out to just about 10:30 min/mile. It's 30 seconds/mile slower than my goal pace, but I think that pace might--this being my first ever train-for-an-actual-race experience--be unrealistic. So I'm proud of myself. Eleven miles is the farthest I've ever run in my life.  

Finally I feel like I can think positively about this whole half-marathon thing. If I can run 11, surely I can run 13. Not gonna lie, though. I'll be glad when it's over. Then I can just run because I want to, not because I feel like I have to. 

Then, after my almost two-hour run, Jordan and I went to the zoo and walked around for 3 hours. (I had two free tickets from giving blood earlier this month.) The zoo was full of moms pushing babies in strollers, which I was jealous of (the babies in strollers, not the moms with their babies). Nevertheless, I sucked it up and hobbled my way around.

It was a good time.

I think zebras and giraffes are my favorite.

Then I went home, covered both my legs in Icy Hot, and took a nice, long nap.

The End.

Grammer; Is Importante?


Today, September 24, is National Punctuation Day.  A day to celebrate all that is proper and right and good about the English language. A day to be saddened by the advancement of text messaging and AOL chats, which has subsequently led to the decay of correctly punctuated sentences. (Note: I realize spelling is not punctuation, and thus misspelling the title of this post isn't fully logical, but for my purposes [and yours] I will be lumping all grammatical mistakes into one smelly pot.)

As an editor (and, let's face it, an educated American), I daily see horrible mistakes being made on the punctuation front. Incorrect use of commas, semicolons, hyphens, apostrophes. The list really does go on and on and on...

I find it, therefore, necessary (in honor of the aforementioned holiday) to make a list of five grammatical pet peeves that plague my life on a daily basis:

1. Word confusion. For example: Their/they're/there. You're/Your. It's/Its.
It's called an apostrophe, and it's used to show that what could be (and once was) previously one word has now become to. Errr... two. See what I mean? Their just isn't anything worse than incorrect usage of a word.

2. Commas. Specifically, using a comma instead of a semicolon or a period, this is really annoying because it makes for a very long sentence, sentences should not be connected by a comma. It's wrong. So very, very wrong. 

Note: When you're writing a sentence, make sure you don't connect two sentences together with only a comma. Use either a period or a semicolon; basically, if you want to separate two complete sentences you have two options. A comma is just not one of them.

3. Commas. Specifically, putting commas wherever you feel you would normally take a breath. Elementary teachers have forever ruined the comma because of this ridiculous "rule" that's not actually a real rule. There are too many comma examples to list, however, so I won't bore you. 

Just know that a comma should be used correctly, which is, in general, less sparingly than your second-grade teacher would like to admit. Moving on.

4. That vs. Which. Basically, use a comma before which, and no comma before that. (There are a few exceptions, but I'm just trying to be as general as possible here.) 

A real-life example: I don't like black olives, which is unfortunate because Jordan loves them. Jordan doesn't like fruit, which makes me sad. But when we eat together, we can always find a compromise that suits both our tastes. 

5. Capitalization. For the love of Jane Austen, please pay attention: There is No need to Capitalize every word You feel is Important unless there's an Actual rule that Says you can Do so. (Note: that, not which). 

Example: My mom is good at cooking. My grandma is old. The president is coming to my birthday party next week. Lowercase, lowercase, lowercase. Unless your mom's name actually is Mom, in which case I'm sorry, but that's weird. There are so many others to list, but thinking about it just makes me crazy, so I won't go there.

In short, punctuation (and spelling) is important. Misspelling a word or misusing a comma can completely change the meaning of your sentence.
Like, totally.

A Look Back...Sept 2008


If you would have told me that some day I'd live in Oklahoma, I wouldn't have believed you. I know--that's totally the sort of thing everyone says. But to a girl who grew up just 35 minutes from the heart of downtown Chicago, the idea of living in Oklahoma sounded completely ridiculous.

It still kind of does.

Two years ago this month I moved to the Sooner State. The circumstances by which I ended up here are strange and rather boring, so I won't bother to write them in detail, but the long and short of it is that my dad, who'd been looking for a job for a few years, finally found one in North Texas, and my parents decided to move.

Move from the house on Cooley Ave where I grew up. Move from both sets of grandparents and all my friends. Move from public transportation, the suburbs, Lake Michigan, and snow.

Having lived in the same place my entire life, move wasn't a word I fully understood. Yes, I'd moved four hours away to college in Southern Illinois. But I'd always been able to come home.

I graduated college the summer of the move and, having no job prospects and nothing better to do, moved south with my parents and three younger siblings. Maybe, I thought, I'll find a job in Texas. 

I spent a good three months laying out and swimming at the pool, trying to escape the deathly Texas heat, until I finally secured myself an editing position at a publishing company in Oklahoma.

I remember walking into our kitchen and saying to my mom, "I have a job interview!"
"Where?" she asked.

That one word sealed my fate, and before I knew it I was apartment hunting and bargain furniture shopping. My start date was September 22, 2008. Two years ago yesterday.

For a while it was really hard. I knew no one. I didn't know the names of any roads or highways (not good for someone who gets lost driving in a straight line). And my closest friend was a good nine-hour drive. Luckily, my family only lived 3 hours from me, so I drove home often those first few months. Accustomed to dorm life, roommates, and college functions, it took me some time to get used to living alone.

But then I found a church and started making friends at work, and everything started to fall into place. I found a tennis league and a place to play violin; I learned the roads and intersections and found the mall; I bought a Pikepass and started going to Texas only once every other month. I also met this boy, but that's a whole other story.

Strange as it may have sounded, this has become my home. And I can't believe it's been two years since this:

And this:
Now these days I find myself doing a lot of this:

It's been a good two years. Thanks, Oklahoma.

Running Sucks


I was supposed to run 10 miles today.

Instead, I ran 8.

I've convinced myself that I would have run the extra 2 if I'd had time, but I had to be somewhere so I quit early. Also, I didn't have any water, so near the end my mouth was so dry, I couldn't even swallow. I realize choosing to run 8 miles in 90+ degree Oklahoma heat without easy access to water wasn't my brightest moment. But I ask you: is deciding to run really ever a bright moment? Yes, I want to be super fit and in shape, and most importantly, I want my legs to look good. Yes, I've always wanted to run a half-marathon, and in three weeks I'll be doing just that.

Success, right?

I'm beginning to feel differently, despite having recently finished reading the book Born to Run, where the author argues (albeit rather convincingly) that humans are born to run. I bought into this lie for a day or two, but now I'm back to thinking, He can't be talking about me. I'm slow and lazy.

I'm pretty sure the only way I convince myself three times a week to tug on a sports bra, running shorts, and lace up my tennis shoes is because I've blocked out previous runs where I am weezing, sweaty, and feeling as if I have to go to the bathroom (which I almost did last week during a run--go to the bathroom, that is--in my shorts. You think I'm kidding, but I was actually thinking about what yard had the most bushes as I waddled by. Luckily, I made it back to the house just in time. It was a horrible experience I hope I never have to relive).

In short, running sucks. At least, it did tonight. But even so, I know that two days from now I'll be out there again. And three weeks from now I'll be in Kansas, running the half. Hopefully crossing the finish line at a respectable time.

I'm praying I don't have to stop and go to the bathroom. Or find some bushes. How embarrassing would that be?

A Sterile Boyfriend and a Text Message


Last night, I stopped at Jordan's house to return a shirt he'd left in my car when we drove to Texas last weekend. We didn't have any extra hands when I was dropping him off, and he told me to just leave the shirt in my car and he'd get it later. Well, later never came, and for four days I was paranoid that it would fly out the window, never to be seen again. 

Case in point: I was driving down the road yesterday at 60 mph, and I heard a rustle. I freaked out, thinking it was Jordan's shirt, and quickly turned to look...and swerved into oncoming traffic . I screamed and yanked the wheel to the right, which caused the shirt in question to rustle again. I then glared at it and stuffed in under the seat.

Which brings me to my unexpected visit to his house last night to return the deathly article. I really didn't want my aspiring life to end because of a white collared shirt, cute though it may be on a certain dimpled male from Oklahoma.

So I brought it inside, and we went into the living room to watch a little late-night baseball before I went home. I sat down and immediately grabbed a blanket to curl my legs under (Jordan's living room is a freezer), in the process accidentally kicking him in a certain area. I, being a female and not understanding the horrifying pain said accidental kick can cause, started laughing when his face contorted in pain. (I'm such a nice girlfriend.)

Enter today and the aforementioned funny text message, which occurred between Jordan and myself earlier this morning:

Jordan: Allergies are fierce today.
Me: Sorry. I wish I could kick them in the face. But I suppose I would just be kicking you in the face, which defeats the purpose. So never mind. 
Jordan: Well you had no problems kicking me in a certain other place so I don't know why the face would matter. It's all to your detriment really. What good is a sterile and disfigured boyfriend? Not much I tell you. Not much.

Here's what I learned from this experience:

1. Don't keep shirts loose in your car with the windows rolled down. You're taking your life into your own hands. Don't say I didn't warn you.

2. When you--accidentally or not--kick a boy in a certain area, he will hold a grudge and find a way to bring it up in random conversation the next day. Be on guard.

3. A sterile and disfigured boyfriend is not much good. If you have one, get rid of him immediately.

Look! It's a Famous Person!


Why are famous people interesting? They're regular people, just with fancier jobs and more money. Even so, actually regular people (like myself) still get excited at the idea of meeting a famous person. Or seeing a famous person.

On Saturday I took Jordan to a Yankees/Rangers game for his birthday.We got there two hours early to see batting practice, and when we walked in, there they were--the entire New York Yankees team collected around home plate, stretching. I've not even a Yankees fan (although I'm getting there), but still it was awesome to see all those famous baseball players, dressed up in baseball pants, jerseys, and hats. 
We stood there, about six rows from the field on the third-base side, watching them, when suddenly Jordan pointed and said, "Look! It's George Bush!"
"What? Where?"
"Right there."
"Right there."
"Right there. Sitting next to Laura Bush. See? There in the first row. Eating popcorn."

Yeah right, I thought. George Bush doesn't eat popcorn. But I looked, and low and behold there they were. Sitting in the first row. Eating popcorn. Waving and smiling like regular people at the actually regular people who were pointing and snapping pictures. (A few people tried to say things but were told by a stern-looking secret service officer to be quiet.)

Here's the pic zoomed in. If I had a super awesome camera, like the ones professionals use, you would be able to see them better. But there's no way you can doubt the fact that it's the Bushes.

I honestly don't know why I found it so amazing to see former president George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush calmly sitting in their (padded) seats at a Texas Rangers game. After all, they are regular people who like to go to baseball games and eat popcorn.

Oh, who am I kidding? It's the president. And I don't care if you are Democrat or Republican, Bush hater or lover or indifferent--that's pretty cool.

State Pride: What I've Learned Living in Oklahoma


This weekend I’m taking my Oklahoma-loving boyfriend down to Texas for a Yankees/Rangers game at the Arlington Ballpark. The tickets were his birthday present that I bought a long time ago (March) and waited forever (July) to give him.

He was so excited, I swear if he wasn’t such a manly man, I think he would have started crying. 

But that’s not the point. 

The point is, in three days we’re driving just short of three hours across the Oklahoma state line and into the Lone Star State. I believe in state pride, and I’ll be the first to tell you that I think Chicago is the best city in the country. The pizza is out-of-this-world delicious, the hot dogs are in abundance, and the seasons are gorgeous. The cornfields of Illinois still feel like home, and I have many happy memories of family camping trips in the fall. 
It wasn’t until I left my family in Texas and moved to Oklahoma that I fully understood state pride. Because let me tell you—people down here are crazy. (Down here relative to Illinois, not Texas.)

Maybe it’s because the Land of Lincoln has really never had a good college sports team (except one year [I think it was 2005] when the Illini men’s basketball team made it all the way to the final four), or maybe it’s because Illinois actually has more than one professional sports team (even though until the White Sox and, most recently, the Blackhawks, we couldn’t seem to win anything). But whatever the reason, solid state pride wasn’t something I necessarily understood. Until, like I said, I moved south.

Here’s a list of the things I’ve learned in my almost two years of living in Oklahoma (Note: This is not meant to offend; these are just what I’ve observed):

1. It's windy. Like, all the time.
2. There's red dirt.
3. If you say something to anyone from Oklahoma about the strange color of the dirt, they say, "Red is the color dirt should be." 
4. Everyone knows the state song. (I couldn’t even tell you what the state song of IL is.)
5. Everyone knows the state bird, the state color, the state flower, the state everything.
6. Thunder basketball is the greatest thing to ever happen to Oklahoma. 
7. You can always get tickets for a Redhawks game. 
8. Every day the bridge on I-40 comes closer to completely crumbling away.
9. I-44 E/W really runs north and south.
10. There’s a mountain in Oklahoma, which is really more of a hill made of tons and tons of rocks.
11. The potential threat of a possible tornado pales in comparison to what the news warns is coming—swirling winds, meteor-sized hail, and a volcanic suction funnel that will destroy everything you once loved in the blink of an eye.
12.  If you complain about the above overdramatic weather issue, people will give you a wow-you’re-such-an-insensitive-person glare and say, “Well, you obviously weren’t around during the May 3 tornados.”
13.  The pizza leaves much to be desired—even though no one knows it.
14.  If you live in Norman, you’re (almost) obnoxiously snooty about just how awesome you think Norman is. 
15.  You can't like both OU and OSU.
16. If you do claim to like OU and OSU, you’re either lying or you don’t know what you’re actually talking about. 
17.  And finally (certainly not least): You hate Texas. 

What is that about? I like all the states. I don’t discriminate. I mean, I liked Texas football before I even lived in Texas. 

But saying that could get me killed in Oklahoma. Which brings me to a funny story about state pride. (Note: this story is not about me being killed or almost killed or anything like that.)

It was probably fiveish months ago when I took five friends from church (including Jordan) and drove down to my parents’ house for the weekend. We stopped for a quick dinner before we left, and after that we drove for about two hours and were about to cross the state line into Texas.

“We’re about ten miles from the border,” I said. “Why don’t we stop at the Texas welcome center and go to the bathroom?”

Jordan turned and looked at me. “No way!”  He looked out the window just as we passed a sign. Thackerville. Three miles. 

(Disclaimer: Apologies to anyone who lives in Thackerville. I don’t mean to offend you, but I really do suggest you move.)

“We’re stopping in Thackerville,” Jordan announced. “I want to pee in God’s country before we get to Texas.”

“That’s stupid,” I said. But we pulled off the exit anyway, where we soon found a hole-in-the-wall bar/gas station/casino.  

The Texas welcome center is way nicer than this, I thought. But I decided to take the high road and not say anything.

The boys hopped out and ran into the bar/gas station/casino to relieve themselves, while the only other girl in our group of six and I waited in the truck. It didn’t take long for them to come strolling back across the parking lot (as much as one can stroll across a parking lot in Thackerville). They were grimacing and shaking their heads as they approached the truck, so I hopped out and was instantly assaulted by a wave of stink.

“Ugh!” I shouted. “Smells like you guys walked through a cloud of hot smoke then straight through a fart!” (Yes, I am a refined, delicate lady.)

“I know,” Jordan said sadly. “It smelled in there.”

“Well do something!” Sometimes I like to be dramatic, and this was one of those times. So I held my nose and started coughing in an effort to enhance the seriousness of my displeasure.

Jordan immediately began digging through his backpack, eventually coming up with a small bottle of cologne. If he didn’t use the whole bottle, he came close as he tried his best to cover the smell.

“Is that better?” He leaned toward me, hopeful, his neck stretched out like a giraffe.

I took a small sniff. “Not…really. Now it’s more like manly hot smoky fart.”

But by this point we all felt that we’d wasted enough time in Thackerville, so we piled in and rolled down the windows to let the stink escape.

A few miles down the highway, I saw it. A fresh beacon of light shining through the darkness. Bathrooms. Running water. Fresh, cold, smokeless air. And a sign—Welcome to Texas.  

“There’s where we should have stopped,” I mumbled, crossing my arms and sliding closer to the window.

“But Oklahoma is God’s country,” Jordan replied. Clearly he didn’t understand. And apparently neither did I. 

Man, I thought, people from Oklahoma are so snobby! What does that even mean? God’s country?

Fast forward fivish month later to today. I emailed our music minister at church (who recently moved from Texas) to tell him I wouldn’t be at church on Sunday because I was visiting my parents in Texas for the weekend. 

When I saw his reply, I had to laugh: 
"Hope y'all have fun! Kiss the ground for me out there. That's God's country."

Okay, so it's not just Okies.  

Southern state pride. I've never seen anything like it. But one thing is definitely clear: If I'm gonna fit in down here, I've gotta get some of my own.