Friday, August 31, 2018

Day 81

Today was kind of the calm before the storm. There were still preparations to be made, several wonderful guests stopped by, and more family arrived, but it wasn’t a high-stress day on most counts. It’s so good to be together. 

Tomorrow, the day of the funeral, will be a big day. It will naturally be difficult, but I think it will be a proper celebration of life. Hopefully we will hit the mark, and it will be #kathytastic. I have felt honored to be included in some of the preparations. 

I’m feeling less inspired tonight than I was last night. I made a fresh batch of brownies, but we were too tired for B.B. Time. I will sleep well tonight. 

Something great about today: strawberry pretzel salad  Mmmm.  (Disclaimer, that might not be the exact recipe for the one we had, but it seems reasonable, and the photo looks the same. Also, I didn’t take this photo. It’s from the recipe website above.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Day 82

There is comfort in family, in friendship, in loving people who make your life better.

There is comfort in sharing stories with the minister who will lead the celebration of life in a life worth celebrating, and peace comes from joining hands in prayer around a coffee table that has been put back in its rightful place now that the hospital bed and hospice equipment have been removed from the home. We look with uncertainty toward a new normal. 

There is comfort in flowers delivered to the door and in food from friends. Homemade cookies, trays of sandwiches, and a coffee cake that is great any time of day, served hot or cold, are all the most delicious treats, and they are only made better when enjoyed together with family at the dining room table. (We are glad Kathy is not here to see us eating off of paper plates with plastic utensils at her dining room table.)

There is comfort in bourbon and brownies, that we describe as “B.B. Time,” and taking a deep sigh as a little splash of bourbon warms our bodies and we inhale the complexities of relief that suffering is over (combined, of course, with the deep pain of a terrible loss),

There is comfort in Crock Pot roast, in rice and gravy, and in red wine. Time is passing, and we will grow hungry; might as well eat some comfort food. 

There is comfort in offering a man hug (from behind) when your sister-in-law’s eyes fill up with tears and you’d do anything to give her a reason to smile. There is comfort in offering a woman hug (from the front) and letting her bury her face in your chest because you think maybe this kind of closeness will let her know she is loved. 

But mostly, the ultimate comfort we have is that we will see Kathy again, full of joy and sowing seeds for the joy of others. 

Something that made today great: togetherness. Family time. Nothing will replace this precious time with family. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day 83

"Merciful one, begotten of woman, understand / how difficult it is to trust that you are kind." -Anya Silver, "Fourth Advent"

One morning just a few weeks ago -- this same month, in fact -- my Facebook feed filled with the news that Dr. Anya Silver, a professor at my alma mater, Mercer University, had passed away after a battle with inflammatory breast cancer. I never took a course with Dr. Silver, but I consider Mercer my first academic love, so I was still saddened to hear the news that our community had lost a remarkable member. 

After reading a number of tales about how Dr. Silver had impacted my peers' lives, I took interest in her poetry and ordered Second Bloom, Dr. Silver's fourth book of poetry, and read most of the book the very first time I sat down with it after it delivered to my front door. I was enthralled by her language and quickly ordered I Watched You Disappear, her second book. The way she wrote about cancer was unlike anything I had read before; some of her poems are dedicated to friends she made who also battled cancer, as well as to the people she loved and knew she would leave behind, and even when describing the ugliest changes cancer inflicted upon her body, her words are eloquent. 

Reading the books, I thought of my mother-in-law, Kathy, who battled cancer most of 2018. Kathy and I both lost our fathers to cancer, which we talked about sometimes, but she and I never discussed her case. I never wanted to be the one to bring it up, and she never volunteered much information. A few months ago, I gave her a copy of What Cancer Cannot Do, which is filled with positive stories from cancer patients as well as reminders that, no matter what, cancer cannot change the promise of eternal life for those who have accepted Jesus Christ. I don't know if she ever read it. I wanted to share Dr. Silver's poetry with Kathy, but it didn't feel right with Dr. Silver's death being so recent. 

The week after Dr. Silver passed away, Kathy and Russ headed to Houston for a post-chemo scan to check on her status. Expecting that we would hear a positive report from the scan, we were all in shock when the news was not good. Richard looked at the scan and said he was not sure Kathy would make it to December. Then, he saw her that weekend, and he was not sure she would make it to October. The horrible, horrible disease was more aggressive than we could have imagined.

Today, only four days after day 87, the day we're gonna remember as a great day, Kathy passed away. I hesitated to share Dr. Silver's poetry with her because I was afraid I would cause Kathy to contemplate or fear her own death, but I wonder now if she was already thinking about those things. 

I have lots of things to say about Kathy and many fond memories of our time together, and I am sure much of what I want to write will spill out here at some point in the next eighty-two days. As for the family, I think we can all rest a little easier knowing that Kathy was aware of how much she was loved by so many people. I wish I could take some of the pain from Russ, who has just loss the love of his life, and Richard and his sisters, who have just lost the first woman who ever loved them. The whole situation is unfortunate and unfair, but just like when children cry out, "It's not fair!" and hope for a magical fix, there is not much that can be done to make this go away or make it better. Similarly, we can ask "Why?" over and over like children, but we might never get a satisfactory answer. We have to find comfort in remembering the way she made our lives, the lives of others, and the world a better place as we wait until the next time we see her. 

Personally, I like to imagine that when she opened her eyes, my dad was there waiting for her. Maybe she even knew it was him from photos. Everyone talks about how much he would have liked Richard, and I can see him waving her in with a big grin, telling her she'd done a great job on Earth—especially as a mother—and inviting her on a grand tour of her new heavenly home. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Day 84

It’s 11:40 pm, and I have just submitted statistics homework that is due at 11:55 pm.  I fought with LSU’s virtual lab for over an hour before concluding that there was a problem on LSU’s end and submitting the homework with a hand written chart instead of a nice one from our statistics software.  The kicker in this is that I created the chart three different times (Sunday when I did the work, yesterday when I figured out how to do more things with the software, and today in lab when we did a different problem with the same set of data) yet I never copied and pasted the darn table into the Word document where I typed the answers to my homework. 

I guess I learned that lesson the hard way. 

In good news, I had a wonderful day with many great moments. I took today off from my GA job to have a study day with one of my classmates, and we were both productive! I understood most of statistics lab, and I really enjoyed my Foundations class this evening. After class, I came home, took off my pants, and cooked cheeseburgers before putting (or attempting to put) the finishing touches on my statistics homework. Now it’s nearly midnight, and I’m wondering what I am doing awake at nearly midnight yet again. Maybe tomorrow will be different. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Day 85

Today was a lovely Monday. I had a good day at work, and I loved my class tonight. Richard and Scooter have gone back to Ruston, so I will be living a bachelorette life for the next few days. It’s not lonely yet, but tomorrow could be different. Tonight I came home, made a quick dinner, and plowed through what was left of my reading for class tomorrow. Reading quietly and efficiently was nice, but I am going to miss Scooter’s ax tail hitting me in the face in the morning when she’s awake and I should be getting out of bed. 

One of the texts for my Foundations of Higher Education class is A History of American Higher Education, and I am really enjoying the book. Some of it is stuff I already knew, but there is also plenty of new material. I also recognize lots of GRE words, and I learned the word “stultify” today from the reading! According to The Google, the two main definitions area (1) cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of a tedious or restrictive routine and (2) cause (someone) to appear foolish or absurd. I’m going to use that word in conversation tomorrow, and I hope that my excitement for learning new things and trying new words will not be stultified by the volume of reading I have this semester! 

Something that made today great: I made this awesome photo on Snapchat before I went to class. I love a good geofilter. (To be honest, I also love a bad geofilter.)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Day 86

Sunday nights are different when you're a doctoral student.

One time, just a few weeks after we finished college, my friend Brooke eloquently remarked, "Corn Flakes are like Frosted Flakes without the fun. They are the master's degrees of Frosted Flakes; master's degrees are like college without the fun." If I recall correctly, there was no alcohol involved in this conversation; we were just sitting on her couch, possibly watching TV, and this came out of her mouth. Brooke has since completed a respectable amount of graduate work, despite the predicted lack of fun back when we were 22.

Speaking of Brooke, she's someone I spent quite a few Sunday nights with back at Mercer. Many Sundays went something like this: have a late lunch at the cafeteria, complain about all we had to do to prepare for the week, watch some TV, I'd leave to lead an Supplemental Instruction session, then we would get ready for chapter (weekly sorority meeting), go to dinner in the cafeteria before chapter, attend chapter, hit up Taco Bell or other fast food for a post-chapter/pre-homework snack or second dinner, complain a little more about the upcoming week, and around 10:00 pm, we would finally start our homework or reading that we'd been complaining about since after lunch. It wasn't the most productive way to get ahead on the new week, but that remained our Sunday routine anyway. Some weeks we'd mix it up and skip the post-chapter fast food but show up at Waffle House with our posse sometime after midnight.

Thinking about Brooke's silly comment from years ago, I can see how people would feel that graduate work is like college without the fun. This kind of Sunday night activity is a little lonely compared to a decade ago. I'm at a table by myself in my own house with my school stuff stacked around me, and if I wanted to go to Waffle House (which I don't), I'd have to go alone, which doesn't sound like much fun. In fact, what sounds fun now is actually doing my reading and being prepared for the week. I'm completely invested in pursuing new knowledge. Woah. 

Even though I managed to get things done (and mostly on time) in college, I realize that I have come a long way from where I was as an undergraduate, and other than a few pages of reading, I'm ready for Monday. Tuesday is another story, but I hope to be in a better place with class preparations next Sunday. I have time to figure out my routine, and meanwhile, I feel incredibly fortunate that I am able to fully devote my time to my graduate work. There are so many people cheering for me, and I can't disappoint the team.

Something that made today great: picking up Scooter from Camp Bow Wow! We have an amazing dog. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Day 87

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

I put on my best strong face and utter those words aloud to my husband and his mother, mostly believing it but wondering a little if I am trying to convince them or myself. 

Our photographer is sweet, patient, and sensitive to our situation. She poses us carefully and makes sure to capture multiple shots in case of blinkers. These are photos we all know we will cherish, because it’s all too rare for the twelve of us to be together at once, even when everyone is healthy, but not everyone is healthy today. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day.

Shortly after photos are done, the men are preparing the grill outside, and I’ve just finished snapping the tough ends off of a bunch of asparagus so it can be tossed on the grill. My phone illuminates with a text from an old friend. 

“John McCain just died.” He has written.
“Fuck cancer,” I respond, partially because I don’t want to get caught up in text messaging too long during family time, and partially because that sums up my feelings on the matter. There’s not much else I feel like saying. 
“I love you and I’m sorry,” he writes, then follows with a second message. “He’d be so proud of you.”

I’ve been a fatherless woman since February 2011, and  I think I am finally becoming the kind of person who can offer support to people whose lives are impacted by a cruel and unnecessary disease like cancer. These are the days to cherish, and if we do not make them great, then they are a waste of precious time. Time that is more precious to some of us than others. Yet as I am facing this cancer case, I can’t seem to find the words to say or think of a gesture that would give anyone just a bit of relief or comfort. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Now that the photographer is gone, I have unofficially stepped into her role, capturing shots of the bright red juicy tomatoes from the Ruston Farmer’s Market that are now in our caprese salad. I try to catch an action shot of my sister-in-law, Rebecca, grinding pepper onto the salad, but I’m not satisfied with any of my shots. 

My father-in-law, Russ, stokes the fire, encouraging me to document the Hendricks gin bottle that is being used for cocktail hour. “Get some lime wedges! This is a Mignon Faget glass!” I do my best, but there’s a reason why my Instagram doesn’t make any money. 

The “final boss” is documenting the wine. I’m shooting with an iPhone 6S, so there is no portrait mode. I start reading about apps that will give photos the macro lens look and download one, then another, then another. The third one seems decent. I clear the water pitcher and an extra place setting off of the buffet, and Rebecca tells me, kind of joking but kind of not, “You’re messing up my table!” I eventually settle for this photo. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Richard floats in and out of the kitchen, ferrying appetizers from the grill to the adults in the kitchen while he and Brian grill steaks outside. The kids, sweet as they are, are growing hungry and impatient. They’ve been good for photos, but they’re not interested in adult appetizers. We send them back upstairs to play, telling them dinner will be ready soon. When they leave, the adult crowd agrees that, if push comes to shove, the kids’ steaks don’t have to rest like the adults’ steaks do. I document the steaks while they rest on the counter. I take this one in one shot without using the macro app. 

We’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

When we sit down for dinner, thick steaks, twice baked potatoes, and asparagus grace our plates in a familiar family meal set aside for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays. We enjoy the caprese salad and bread with butter, and several people remark that the wine is the best they’ve ever had.  After dinner, we eat decadent chocolate d’oberge cake and watch Russ open presents.  Throughout the meal, a few tales of Russ are shared, including mention of the awesome shorts he wore in the 1980’s and the way he loves hairspray. Even when everyone laughs, though, we are cognizant of the fact that there are seven of us breaking bread instead of eight. Not everyone feels up to celebrating tonight. 

This night isn’t like the other nights we have shared as a family, but there are plenty of common threads with those nights that will allow us to look back someday and remember today as a great one because we were all together. I personally feel useless as I try to figure out how to help the people and situation around me when there is nothing I can do to change the eventual outcome. Tonight as I pray for peace, healing, and comfort for so many people I love, I will also wish earnestly that I turn out to be correct when I said that we’re gonna remember today as a great day. 

Something that made today great: any of the items photographed above. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Day 88

I LOVE McDonald’s. Plenty of people who know me even just a little bit know this about me, but people who only know me as a runner are often surprised to hear about my fast food vice. Fries, chicken nuggets, and double cheeseburgers are my top picks from McDonalds’s, but I like the ice cream too. I have tasted the cold, delicious, creamy ice cream, and I know that it is good. I pity those who have been victims of the perpetually-broken ice cream machine at McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. 

After a long week for both of us, Richard and I headed north to Ruston to visit his parents and celebrate his dad’s (my favorite father-in-law’s) 70th birthday. Richard took his board exam today, which he has been preparing to take for months, and he was pretty tired when he finished the exam. He took himself straight to Raising Cane’s for a Caniac (the biggest combo) and ate it all late this afternoon, so he was not hungry for dinner when evening came. Around 9:00 pm, we stopped in Winnfield, Louisiana, which had been our tentative plan because I wasn’t hungry when we left home, but I knew there was a McDonald’s right along our route. The combination of finishing a big and busy week, being close to our destination, and tasting the salty, fried deliciousness of a chicken nugget meal with a fountain Coke? I’m lovin’ it, and I’m not afraid to admit it. 

Something that made today great: talking about dogs with my office mates this morning before kicking off a productive day at work. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Day 89

Sometimes, it is helpful to be reminded that most people are not automatically good at everything they try. For me, I received that reminder about myself this evening when I tried to deck out my planner. Fortunately, I quickly remembered that other people have failed at things (Cake Wrecks, anyone?) and had a reassuring laugh at their misfortune. 

In college, I purchased a planner for $10-$15 at Walmart. I color coded my classes with different colored highlighters, and I found that to be tremendously helpful for visualizing which classes were going to take the most time in a given week. I also had My Little Pony and Kung Fu Panda stickers to put on my planner pages when I had a major assignment or test as a way to make that item look fun and exciting. That was a great system for me, but now we live in a different age of planners and planning. Planning is a lifestyle. Meanwhile, I don’t know what to do with Washi tape, but I know it looks pretty. I just don’t know how to get to that point. 

Tonight, I started my fresh planner journey with highlighters, colored pens, stickers unique to my planner, stickers I’ve just accumulated in life, my work schedule for next week, and a pile of printed syllabi, and I thought I was ready to make an adorable planner. Unfortunately, I did not anticipate the struggle I was going to have with transferring my Outlook calendar to the paper one, so I had to white out stuff I wrote on the wrong day, not once, but twice. But it really is okay. I am going to get the hang of it eventually, and I’ll be making planner pages that wow. I might even buy some Washi tape. Hopefully, my life will actually be organized too; that’s certainly a desired outcome. 

The good news about my hot mess planner is that this is the early stage, and I have plenty of stickers that I can add to make my week look awesome, white out be damned. The other good news is that I don’t think I have any one week that is too terrible as far as papers, assignments, and/or tests in all of my classes. No week looks easy, but there is no week that I can point to at this moment and say, “Here’s where I might have a breakdown!” or “There will be no sleep this week.” I am going to do my best to stay on top of my work so it stays that way. 

Something that made today great: My computer is working again! I went ahead and ordered a new one, but it won’t be here until the end of next week, so I’m glad to have my current one for now. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Day 90

I can be pretty hot and cold when it comes to my levels of activity; I typically either want to be at home being lazy and wearing no pants, or I want to be out training for my next running adventure. It’s fairly easy to understand, then, why I wish I could be more like my dog. She stays at home with no pants on most of the time, after all. But that’s not the only way I want to be like my dog. 

Truthfully, I wish I could get half as excited about anything in my life as my dog gets about going for a walk. With my trip to Leadville, starting school, and generally being more tired, I haven’t spent much time with Scooter in about a week. After dinner, I read a chapter of my Research Design book, and then I uttered the magic words: “Hey Scooter! Want to go on a walk?” She absolutely lost her mind. Imagine telling small children that you’re taking them to Disney World for a month, and you’ll buy them all of the ice cream they want, but then multiply that by 852. I should have put my shoes on before I said the W word, because she was running around, whimpering, and jumping, ready to go on a walk. I had to fight with her to get her harness on because she could not calm down long enough for me to put it on her. 

I’m easily excitable, and Richard makes fun of how pumped up I get about small or silly things like tacos (and plenty of other foods), having a matching hair bow with my outfit, girly cocktails, matching ringtones with my father-in-law, knowing the exact dollar and cent amount of something I bought three months ago, not losing time on Waze, and Googling the answer to every question immediately, to name a few. But my enthusiasm pales in comparison to my dog, who acts a fool (in a positively adorable way) because she gets to go outside and spend time with me. Sure, that level of excitement is inappropriate in some spaces, but in general, I hope I can approach even the smallest adventures with the joy Scooter brings to an evening walk around the neighborhood. 

If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get along without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you when, though no fault of yours, something goes wrong,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment, if you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him/her, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,

Then, my friend, you are ALMOST as good as your dog.

-Francis Kong (read the whole essay here)


Something that made today great: I caught up with the BAKErs, some of my closest friends in the world, thanks to all of us being on Facebook messenger at the same time!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Day 91

Leadville update still to come. 

I have officially completed the attendance portion of my first week of classes! The fact that I only have to report to class on Monday and Tuesday is both wonderful and daunting; I am going to have to figure out a good schedule for work, school, and working out, and then I will need to make sure I stick to it. Last week, I ordered a fancy planner with lots of stickers, and it arrived today. I am looking forward to setting that up tomorrow or Thursday. 

So far, I am really enjoying my classes and am enthusiastic about the doing the readings and projects. I have made a few friends in my classes and even have a study date planned with one of them next week. A dark cloud in an otherwise lovely week is that I believe my laptop, which was never that great in the first place, has reached the end of its road. I had planned to but a new one soon anyway but wanted to wait until I could do more research and save up a little more money, but plans often don’t go the way we expect them to, do they? My new computer is scheduled to arrive next week, which is actually probably a good thing since I’ll be forced to spend time in the library while I don’t have a dependable computer at home. That could be helpful as I grow the habit of dedicating chunks of time to class work, as I won’t be as distracted as I might be at home. I am optimistic. 

Something that made today great: I went to work out at the UREC with my supervisor during lunch. We ran two miles at a 10:28 pace!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Day 92

Today was my first day of classes! I showed my enthusiasm for the day by wearing LSU colored clothes, including a monogrammed hair bow in the school colors. I think I am going to like being a 19th grader.

After arriving home late last night, I moved slowly all morning and didn’t go to work until the afternoon, then I had class at 4:30. I look forward to being more rested tomorrow and getting into a routine with work and school this week. My first class was ELRC, which is Introduction to Scholarship in Education. The class has students from doctoral programs throughout the College of Human Sciences and Education. In class, we were able to learn a little about the research interests of our classmates as well as which program they are in, and we have an interesting and exciting group. I have signed up for several library workshops that should help me get into the swing of things as early as possible, which is good since I have been out of school for some time now. 

For tomorrow’s class, Foundations of Higher Education, I have to do some advance reading from one of our books. I still have to read a few more pages before class tomorrow, but I’m too tired now, even though the reading is interesting. (I’m currently nerding out about colonial colleges if anyone is interested in talking about that topic with me!) Fortunately, everything so far has been exciting, but I am realizing that my brain is a little out of shape when it comes to reading a textbook. There is plenty of time to remedy that, though. 

Something that made today great: Ariel called, and we were able to catch up for a few minutes and talk about her wedding next year. Yay!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Day 93

I had to make a pit stop to ensure I got a blog entry posted today. I don’t know why I didn’t write when I was a passenger across the hundreds of miles of Texas once more. 

As I’m heading back to Baton Rouge, alone for the first time since Thursday afternoon, I can hardly remember what life was like before we loaded into our Yukon XL party bus and headed out for an amazing weekend and experience.

I want to give the Leadville 100 the attention it deserves, but the short version of the story is that when we left Colorado, Special K’s Leadville journey was, as Catherine put it, “To Be Continued.” We crewed him through the 50 mile checkpoint, and he was finally able to have a pacer. Preacher was first up and took him across Hope Pass as fast as he could, but they were unable to make the cutoff at Twin Lakes (62.5 miles). When they came down the path from the mountains, I was conflicted about how to feel other than overwhelmed as I processed both sadness for and pride in my friend and our whole crew. Everyone who toed the line in Leadville inspired me so much, and witnessing the passion and generosity of the crews and pacers was a refreshing reaffirmation of the truths that there is still good in the world, people are capable of so much more than they even realize, and life is a much richer experience when you surround yourself with selfless, loving people and aspire to be a selfless, loving person yourself. 

There is so much left to say. 

Something that made today great: reminiscing about all of the hilarious, inspiring, and wonderful moments and comments throughout our trip to Leadville. 

Day 94

There is something surreal about being incredibly proud of a bunch of people you don’t know and urging them to continue pushing themselves through the next step in a long and arduous journey. I am so proud of my friend Special K and feel honored to be part of this crew. 

Something that made today great: taking in the beautiful sights of Colorado; nature is amazing. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Day 95

We survived our road trip and made it to Leadville, Colorado around 10:15 this morning. Preacher caught a little sleep, but the rest of us stayed up chatting and singing for the rest of the night. Texas took forever, and it was too dark to see much of New Mexico, but we will see it when we trek back. We made a brief stop to run the Manitou Incline, which turned into only running a portion of the Manitou Incline due to scheduling, but we all agreed that we want to return and do the whole thing someday. 

Our first stop in Leadville was a pre-race meeting, which we were late for, but we still arrived with sufficient time to get pumped up with the runners. Then, there was a meeting for the crews, and we headed out to explore Leadville a little bit and purchase souvenirs. After that, we left for Vail (where we are staying) to drop our bags off. The hanger/hangry level of our collective group was skyrocketing (I was doing okay because I was the only one comfortable with eating boudin balls that I’d bought 20+ hours earlier in Louisiana) so we went for a delicious Italian dinner before going to pick up last minute supplies and going back to relax at our villa. 

It’s currently 8:19 pm, and we are preparing for bed. The race starts at 4:00 am and lasts until 10:00 am Sunday, so we have a busy Saturday leading into Sunday. I have more pre-race jitters than I have had in some time, largely because if I fail, I will feel like I failed another person and our whole crew. I am reminding myself to trust my training and abilities and realize that I would not be part of our crew if everyone else thought I could not do it.

Something that made today great: Sharing a delicious pre-race meal hi had and talking together about how much we are looking forward to this weekend’s race. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Day 96

Currently, I am riding through the night in a fancy rental SUV at 80 miles per hour but feeling more like 60 miles per hour because our fun bus is so smooth. Of the many things going through my mind, most prominent is the realization that people aren’t kidding when they say Texas goes on forever. There is so much Texas. 

I’m heading to Leadville, Colorado for the Race Across the Sky, a 100 mile trail run (perhaps the 100 mile trail run) where one of the GOATS (Get On A Trail Shreveport—the group that made me love trail running on the regular) will be running, and the rest of us will be pacing and crewing him. We have a big job, but at least we do not have to run 100 miles. There are five of us in the car now, and we are meeting Danielson (another crew member) and Special K (our superstar runner) in Leadville tomorrow. I am so excited, which I hope will outweigh the altitude when we hit the trail. 

This trip has been dubbed my “PhD bachelorette”—a last road trip and adventure before I crack open my first book or download my first article. When my friend Catherine mentioned this trip to me earlier in the summer, I thought there was no way I could swing a road trip of this proportion so close to my first day of classes, but where there is a will there is a way. (I predict the way will involve coffee and/or energy drinks on Monday.) I don’t see myself reaching the level of fitness necessary to complete a 100 mile race on my own anytime soon, but I am happy to be able to help someone else achieve this amazing feat. I’m sure there’s an inspirational and meaningful lesson in there about how people who help others do incredible things will have the assistance they need to do incredible things when they need it, but I’m not going to take it there today. 

Something that made today great: jamming in the car from everything from Nelly to the Eagles to Paul Simon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Day 97

Yesterday during my meeting with my advisor, she asked if Richard and I were settling into life in Baton Rouge (side note, here’s some grammatical clarification about “into” vs “in to”), and I told her that we are liking it, but neither of us has ever lived in a city this large. She smiled and said she went to college in Beijing. I don’t consider myself a small town girl, and I like to think I am reasonably aware of how big the world is (as well as how small it is), but the truth is that I went to a small university and have never been immersed in a community of this size. There is so much to learn besides what I will be taught in my classes. 

When we started telling people where we were moving, just about everyone replied with a comment to the effect of “Get ready for the traffic!” so we were prepared for the worst. We live in a great neighborhood that is fairly quiet while staying reasonably close to LSU and Richard’s job, so we have mostly been able to avoid the traffic on the interstate, but there’s not really a way around the fact that we live in an area with a more concentrated population now. 

Today, I had a small town girl moment and learned a lesson the hard way. I work on the edge of campus, so I am not located super close to places like the student union or the buildings where I will have class. This afternoon, I had my orientation for the Graduate School, and it was supposed to last through the end of my working day at a location about a mile from my office. Since I figured I would leave to go home straight from work, I thought I would be able to drive across campus and park by my orientation spot in the same amount of time, maybe less. 

Wrong. Fake news.

After failing to locate a parking space in a lot, I paid a few dollars to park in a deck, then I had a 10-15 minute walk to orientation anyway. Lesson learned. I have a pair of old running shoes stashed in my office, so I’ll be making regular fashion statements in a dress and athletic shoes from now on. 

Something that made today great: I took a pretty sweet nap after work. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Day 98

Never have I ever had a dog. Until two and a half weeks ago, that’s one line I could use in a game of “Never Have I Ever” and make most people put a finger down, take a drink, or whatever else people do in that game. 

Never have I ever been to a dog park. That one would have worked until about two weeks ago. 

Never have I ever bagged up dog poop. That would’ve worked until...about an hour ago. 

Richard and I (mostly Richard though) have been looking forward to adopting a dog once we moved out of our condo and into a bigger place with a yard.  Before we even left Shreveport, Richard was checking adoption websites, learning animals’ stories, and getting a little too attached to prospective pets who were not likely to end up at our house.  

Then, one Friday, we found a dog on the Nextdoor app that seemed like a good fit for us. Potty trained, good with kids (and other people too), and not likely to jump over our fence were just a few appealing traits this dog had. We arranged to meet Scooter — that’s her name — the next day, and her previous family let us take her for a test drive at our house. She fit in pretty quickly, and now we have a dog!

While we were out of town for the weekend, we boarded her at her veterinarian, but we want to let her stay somewhere with more playtime next time we are gone, so we looked into enrolling her at Camp Bow Wow. Their website is full of dog puns, and they refer to the dogs as “campers,” which made us laugh. We were sold. 

Before staying at Camp Bow Wow, each dog must complete an interview process, mainly to see that they can play well with others, I guess. Richard took Scooter for her interview first thing this morning, and she spent the day there. Everything went beautifully, and we are proud that our pupper can now attend Doggy Day and Overnight Camp. 

Never have I ever had a bad dog. Fortunately, I can still say that one. 

Something that made today great: While walking back from my meeting with my advisor (which was great on its own) I ran into one of my former LSMSA students at a crosswalk! Then, on my way home, I saw another former student, and he didn’t ignore me when I rolled down my window to yell and wave at him. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Day 99

I’m not a fan of mornings (to put it lightly), but I am generally dependable when I have something specific to wake up and do. This morning was a success! Hopefully I can keep the enthusiasm up until waking up at a reasonable time becomes habit again; I have shown no discipline since I left my job at Centenary. 

To pump myself up for work this morning, I played the soundtrack for A Goofy Movie while carefully rolling my hair and even putting a little makeup on my face. (Powerline still ranks in the top ten on my list of fictional characters that I have a crush on...ignoring, of course, that he’s a dog.) This is one of only a few times when I’ve been awake and getting ready for work while Richard was still in the house, so he has rarely been witness to what semblance of a morning routine I have. He has certainly not heard me belting “Stand Out” at 7:45 on a Monday morning, which was clear when he asked, “What are you listening to?” as I crescendoed through the chorus. I guess there’s a movie night in our future. 

I made a thermos of tea, posed for a few photos, and headed off to work. I have a pleasant commute past the scenic lakes, and I was excited to see evidence of Panhellenic recruitment (mostly tents and chairs set up) around the sorority houses. (Maybe I’ll be able to volunteer my time during this week next year!)

The first day went as well as I imagine most first days of work go, and I continuously found myself in partial disbelief that I am finally at this step in the process of realizing a major dream. (Apparently buying a house and moving across the state were not sufficient.) A pleasant surprise is that I have not been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the campus despite how much bigger it is than any other college or university where I have spent time. The walk from my office to the student union is over half a mile, and they are not in complete opposite corners of campus. Fortunately there’s an app with a map! I would be in more trouble if I didn’t live in the age of The Google. Tomorrow, I meet with my academic advisor in the morning, and I am looking forward to that. 

Something that made today great: starting the morning off with Powerline—that put me in a great mood all day!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Day 100

I am horrendously inconsistent when it comes to blogging, but I’m going to try to get back into it again. For the next 100 days, I am going to post something to this blog. My rules for myself are that each blog post must:
1. Be at least two sentences long
2. List something great about that day (even if the day wasn’t so great) 
3. Be written by me on that day (content from another blog will be acceptable as long as it was written by me on that there could be some posts about marathon training)

I am hoping that counting down from 100 will be more effective than counting up from 1; we will see. There’s no time like the present, so here’s my first post. 


Tomorrow is the first day of my Graduate Assistant job at LSU. Richard and I have both been out of work for over a month, which has been a treat seeing how at least one of us has had a busy schedule ever since we got married, usually both. We went to Ruston this weekend for family fun, which was the first time I had seen one of my sisters-in-law (had to look up if that should be sisters-in-law or sister-in-laws. Here’s some useful reading about compound words if you’re interested) and her kids since Christmas. It’s been quite a year, so the family time was welcome.

I am looking forward to starting my job tomorrow and my classes next week. The last year (plus some) has been spent preparing for this move, with studying for the GRE, taking the GRE, writing essays, filling out applications, traveling, interviewing, panicking, praying, and making a major decision. I recognize that graduate school is going to be exhausting at times, but I’m ready to start the has certainly taken a lot to get to this point, but I feel prepared. 

Something that made today great: stopping at Billy’s Mini Mart and returning home with a freezer bag of delicious Cajun goodies to enjoy later.