Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Places vs Spaces

A few years back during my doctoral studies, we read a book titled, "Significance of Place" by Kincheloe and Pinar.  The basic jest is that where in the world we grow up, the place plays a role in how we are raised. 

Going into popular culture, there is a scene in "Music and Lyrics" were Drew Barrymore's character is writing music lyrics and she is debating the use of the word corners instead of spaces.  She wanted to give boundaries.  She wanted a better visual.

Okay so now to the point, I have been either sick, dealing with sickness, or working for the last 6 weeks.  It was like I ran Tejas at the end of September, jetted off to Indy for a conference, and then disappeared into my house.  So last Saturday, I decided to officially leave my introverted space and rejoin the world.  I went out for coffee and then skating.  Trust me, I should have done one or the other, not both.  Recovery from pneumonia sucks but then you just read that post so you know that part already. 

But back to the point,  to start off my day of self-care, I  posted a picture of my coffee and scone at Java Jacks with the caption, "I am officially leaving my hiding space so hit me up."  I almost used the word place but switched to space.  Why?  The more I reflexed on my word choice, I found myself thinking about "Music and Lyrics" and "Significance of Place."  A place is a fixed space.  My hiding place would be my house or my office.  It has an address and I can guide you there; however, a space is more nebulous.  It could have an address but not necessarily. 

As an introvert, I am very good about hiding myself in a crowd.  I can turn inward into my own mind and look like I'm part of the crowd but really I'm far away.  I'm in my hiding space.  I have a few friends that understand my need for my hiding space.  They don't get offended when I suddenly grab my phone and space out for a minute.  There are just times, I am overwhelmed with input and just need to hide.  There are times that a minute will do.  There are times that I won't communicate personally with anyone for weeks at a time outside of posting on social media. 

To post that I am leaving my hiding space means that I am open to seeing people and to be seen by people.  I am in a headspace for difficult conversations.  Let me tell you, September was full of tough conversations and I was pretty glad to be forced into hiding.  I thought I had plans with a friend that suddenly just went MIA.  Honestly, I was looking forward to that conversation but when he just disappeared I spun into a shame spiral that I had been circling and managed to avoid until I couldn't escape the internal dialog of "See, everyone hates you.  X is avoiding you.  And you just had that fight with A and S also seems to be avoiding you.  Your good doesn't outweigh your bad.  You don't deserve friends."

Once I jump into the spiral I just seemed to keep being buried again and again.  I finally made some plans to leave the house and then sickness hit the house.  Then as I was recovering I entered the hardest weeks of the semester.  I had no energy for anything.  The struggle is real and dangerous.  I feel like I don't deserve love or friends so then I avoid everyone which of course only reinforces the feeling that I don't deserve love or friends since no one wants to see me but no one wants to see me because I am refusing to be seen.  And the spiral of shame sucks me in deeper but add to that the illness and work and you begin to have a situation were professional help might be called for.  At this point, I have learned to stop the dialog for an in-depth analysis.  Is it true that X is avoiding me?  Probably but maybe he is busy.  Did you lose A?  Probably but if she can't have an honest conversation do you really want her?  Is S avoiding you or am I just hiding so that she can't find me?  Then I list the people that love me.  Then Baby Lala demands hugs and kisses and I can see that I was just exhausted.  I couldn't see the truth because I was just exhausted.  Now that I've had a chance to rest and see the completion of some projects, I can be seen again.   

I can't exactly say I can breathe again, fucking pneumonia, but I can see the end of the tunnel and I feel bright again.  I'm no longer a cloud of darkness and therefore I am fit to be around people.  Maybe my bad doesn't outweigh my good but that's cool.  I'll hang out with my fellow badass bitches and we'll fill with space with love, laughter, and light.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Pneumonia Sucks

So the last few weeks of school are always super busy at a college.  Between the end of classes and finals, students and professors seem to lose their minds.  This is a critical time in an academic library.  We are the quiet study space and the group study space and defacto tutors in all subjects.  The number one thing I do is help students write papers and research for those papers. 

Now I work at an HBCU which also has the added hype of homecoming.  My HBCU does not have a football team so homecoming is pretty late in the semester since we wait for basketball to start.  This year's homecoming was the last week of October.  At an HBCU, all of the alumni come back to campus.  At Hollins, we had a reunion and it is always targeted a few special class years.  Homecoming is everybody comes back.  It is fun.  It is exhausting.  I opened the library this year for the first time in about 5 years so a "grand opening" was planned. 

On Monday of homecoming, I was feeling awful.  I didn't have any help for my entire shift and I was hopping from project to project.  On top of the grand opening, I was scheduled to present to the Board of Trustees about the library and a couple of other projects on my plate.  By the time I left that Monday, I told my evening assistant that I would see her tomorrow unless I ran a fever.  I got up Tuesday morning running a fever. 

Mind you at my house, we were just finishing a long string of illness starting with Gymgirl with a random tonsillitis infection, moving to my dad with shingles, that lead directly to Baby Lala getting chickenpox.  Between the fever, body aches, and general fatigue, my husband took me to one of those urgent care places for a flu test.  Never agree to a flu test; it feels like they are trying to scrape your eyeballs.  So I survived the flu test, which was negative but the PA did not like the sound in my chest.  After only my second x-ray ever, he declared I had pneumonia.  I would not be allowed to return to work for the Board presentation but if I was feeling better and took all of my meds, I could attend my grand opening.

While I was at home, I had to be in quarantine.  Baby Lala was still recovering from chickenpox and my dad from shingles on top of still recovering from cancer treatment.  So we had 2 people that we absolutely could not afford to allow to get sick. So I was stuck in my room, listening to Baby Lala crying for me and coughing up a lung or lung butter as the old folks like to say.

I returned to work for my grand opening and I was very tired afterward.  It took me all weekend to recover from 1 day's work.  I had planned to take a day off the following week before I got sick since I knew I would be covering weekend hours for finals.  By the time I had my day off, I was so tired.  Even this last week, I found myself exhausted.  I'm just tired all of the time.  I have had to use a rescue inhaler a couple of times to open up my breathing. 

Needless to say, I'm not running.  I miss running.  Between extended library hours and pneumonia, I haven't been able to see anyone outside of work and my house.  I miss my friends; not that I really have many (or any depending on the day) I do like to leave the house.  I'm 18 days released from quarantine and still tired.  The recovery is really kicking my ass.  I'm not used to sitting.  Yes, I get tired but that is usually from running or running around all day.  I want to run.  I need to destress.  All in all pneumonia and pneumonia recovery sucks.  Here's hoping that you and yours are doing well!




Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Introverted Trail Running - Headphones in your Ears

So I like to run trails. Up until being invited to train for Hells Hills, I only ran streets and tracks.  I don’t know why I didn’t run trails.  Looking back on some of my cross country races, many would have been trail runs.  Trails feel freer and more peaceful.

I noticed while I was running Tejas that I was one of the few runners with headphones in.  I always run with headphones, even on the street.  I need the music.

Running with headphones can be dangerous, especially if you wear both ear pieces.  Now when I run on the streets I only wear one but any other space I’m in my own little music world.  I have both ear pieces in and as loud as I can tolerate it.  I want to be in a world of music.

Now, introverts are known for wearing headphones to avoid the world and maybe that is the point with me wearing them as I run.  At least when I first started running, I know I was running with a C25K program with audio cues so I needed to be able to hear the cues.  Now after several years of running, I feel naked without my earphones and strangely more vulnerable.

If I know I’m sharing the trails, like at a race, then I turn down my music.  Proper trail etiquette requires you to move to the right to allow the faster runners to pass.  Remember trails are often single person wide and not big person wide, like narrow skinny track with very little room even on the sides to allow someone to pass you.  Since I tend to run on the slower side, I get passed a lot.  I try to keep my eyes open for a place to jump to allow the faster folks to pass me by without ending up rolling down a hill; honestly at times the options are make people wait or end up falling off the side of a hill. Now I said, I try.  Sometimes people do end up right on my butt and I have to quickly jump but usually they are calling out to let us slower runners they are coming up on us.

You should always be aware of your surroundings.  We have all heard stories about runners being attacked, murdered, and/or kidnapped while running.  I am learning to run with music set lower.  I like being able to hear my music but honestly I tend to tune it out a lot of the run.  However, I don’t want to let go of the music altogether.  I am not an elite runner.  I struggle to get out there.  I struggle to stay out there.  Music can often save my run.  At Tejas, when I wanted to quit and was so done, Erasure’s Chains of Love suddenly came into my consciousness.  I heard, “don’t give up, don’t give up.”  I took a deep breath and started running again.  During my marathon, Brandon Flower’s Crossfire took over my mind and yes, I was between heaven and hell but I wanted to finish.  Music just helps.

So yes maybe that headphoned runner is trying to avoid you but maybe they are just trying to keep going.  Of course, maybe I need to invest in a pair of earphones that play music in your skull.  I’ve read they are safer but at $200+ it will be a while before I drop the cash.


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Fuck Tejas: Reflections on surviving a 25K in the Texas summer

It was already 80 degrees when we started at 7am. Just the walk from my car to the start was about a mile and I was sweating.  The sky was dark and the stars were big and bright on the East side of Texas but the humidity was suffocating.  It was in these conditions that I started the most grueling race of my life: Mission Tejas 25k.

I was supposed to be running the 50k and joining the ranks of the ultra marathoners but I had to leave for a work trip 48 hours later and the doctor didn’t want me to run the race at all so between not running and the running the 50K was the 25K.  It was seriously horrible.  People were dropping out of the race left and right.  People were cramping.  I passed several people just sitting on the trail, just trying to breath.

Mission Tejas is beautiful.  I had run close to 15 miles there in July.  If I could handle July heat then surely by the time the last Saturday of September hit I would be good to go!  Fucking hell dammit all, I was not okay.  Going into the race I knew I hadn’t really done enough training runs.  My doctor wanted me to rest.  He said my nagging leg numbing issues were from lack of rest.  I was dealing with some other issues, ie no sex drive, and that was from a lack of rest as well.  I pulled back but I needed to finish Tejas.  I had marked my summer with the end goal of finishing Tejas.  I’m way too goal oriented to just let it slip through my fingers without a fight.  What a fucking fight!

I knew that physically I could do the race.  Maybe I won’t beat my Hells Hills time but I could finish.  I knew it would be an issue of my mental state rather than my physical one.  By the time I hit the snack/water table before going into my last full loop, I was done.  I was crying, like ugly crying.  I wanted to quit.  I had done all of this twice and I needed one more loop.  I was convinced that one more loop would kill me.  People would find me half way up the steep steps and have to finish their loop in order to report me dead.  I would be in the hot Texas sun just rotting for hours.  I just knew it. I can’t do this.  I can do lots of things but this wasn’t one of them.  Then the crew of Trail Running Over Texas brought me back to my senses.  Of course I could finish.  I still had 10 hours before they called the race and only had 5ish miles to ahead of me.  Fill up your water.  Cool off in the ice and keep moving forward.  Forward I went.

My time/pace wasn’t great but I finished.  I was tougher than I had given myself credit for.  I am stronger than I thought.  I am a trail runner and I am not going to get over halfway through a race and just quit when I’m not hurt just being challenged.

I still don’t want to run Tejas again for a good while but once it cools off, like in December, I’ll go back out to Tejas.  It really is beautiful.  For sure I’ll run with T.R.O.T again; seriously they know how to run a race and the crew of volunteers were amazing.  I know as we were running and cursing the ground we were on, they kept us hydrated, carbed up, and iced up as much as they could.

Was Tejas the hardest thing I’ve done, no.  I birthed two children naturally without any medical intervention, that was hard.  Tejas was the most difficult race I have done.  I think Hells Hills was more physically taxing.  Wayne’s World took longer and it was a new distance for me.  Tejas had so many wonderful places to quit.  I passed my car before going into the hardest part of the race.  My last loop, I saw my car, started crying, and cursed myself for not having the guts to just walk to my van and leave.  Tejas broke my spirit and then I emerged a stronger person.

Challenge yourself.  Change yourself.  At the end of my life, I don’t want to wish I had tried.  I will get there and know I lined up.  I showed up for me.