Friday, January 20, 2017

Presidential Inauguration, 2008

2008 was a hard year, for me and more so for a lot of other people. I graduated college, moved to Brooklyn, and wasn't particularly grateful for the job I would later come to love. The economy was in shambles, and this Onion article felt scarily true in some ways, but it was such a joy to feel the change in the air, scary as things were. On Election Day, we had a half day, and after voting, I went with my roommate, whose firm had been working on the campaign, to her work party. All season long, she had been told not to tell anyone but her spouse what she was working on, and she told me and our second roommate, "You guys are my spouse" and it felt like we were all part of something bigger than ourselves. At the party, everyone knew he was going to win, and the air was electric. When it was called, pretty early, I think, we all cried.

I vaguely wanted to go to the Inauguration, but didn't, and I'm not sure why. Probably money, which I didn't have a ton of back then. My office set up a TV so that we could all watch it, and we all cried again. A perhaps little-remembered fact is that Obama was sworn in on the Lincoln Bible, a Bible published (like many of the best Bibles) by Oxford University Press. I felt so connected on that day, and so proud of where I was working and what I was doing, even though I couldn't be there in person. Of all the things making me sick about today's Inauguration, the fact that Trump will use that same Bible—instead of, say, a family Bible encased in gold—is making me feel the worst.

But then, I had no idea how I'd be feeling or where I'd be today. Everything in those first years after college felt momentous and heady and so, so possible. Since then, things are feeling less and less possible as I slowly close doors in my life and move forward on one path. On Election Day this year, I felt that same electric air as my coworkers left the building to go vote and we all said, "Let's go make history!" And of course, we didn't at all, and that possibility felt, if not impossible again, then at least pushed back a while.

But seeing everything that President Obama could accomplish these past eight years, seeing everything I and my friends and my family and my country could accomplish and grow in that same time, I know that possibility isn't over or closed off. It's just a little harder to see, and that just means I need to work even harder to see it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ice Skating Weekend

More ice skating this weekend, this time with Shelby, who was visiting from Albany! I continue to be terrible at it, but I'm very slowly starting to feel a little more confident. I just wish it were brighter out when I got home from work, so that I could practice a bit during the week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bare Branches

I'm a bit anxious lately, what with all the change in my life all at once, but this week, I've stilled my mind with an intense exercise class three times a week, and going out with friends the other two nights. What a delight to be busy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Walt Disney World Marathon, 2015

Can you believe I ran a marathon?! Sometimes I hardly can. It was exciting and horrible and wonderful. I have a lot of emotions about running, clearly.

Two years ago just about this time, I was just about finishing my first (and let's be real, probably only) marathon. I can't believe I didn't write about it back then, but Shelby did a nice recap on her blog. Her's is still the way, way better recap, but I thought that a few years on, I'd put some thoughts down here.

Before the race, I had been so excited, but also pretty undertrained, and so the race was, by far, the worst one I'd ever run. Even within the first three miles, I knew something was off, starting much slower than I was used to, and having to take a bathroom break almost immediately.

Although I had Courtney offering me encouragement the whole way and some amazing crowds to pull me through, it took almost a full hour longer than I was hoping for, and a half hour longer than I expected it would, and I finished at 06:32:06. I am proud to have finished it, though and even though it's something I'm pretty sure I will never do again, I'm glad to have tried it once and do wish I had done a little better by the training. I do think this taught me to really respect running. It's nothing something to take lightly, and because it had worked pretty well for me without a ton of effort before the race, I think I wasn't as respectful of the sport as I should have been.

And doing a Disney race was a lot of fun! Most of it was on the roadway, which was kind of brutal for such a long race, but Disney tried to make it better with fun pop up stations and characters along the route. I think on a better day, I would have really enjoyed it, but because the race was already going so poorly, I didn't find it as adorable as I should have. My sister (pictured above!) is starting to get into running, and it's her goal to do a half marathon by the end of 2018. I'm so proud of her and can't wait to run in the Food and Wine Half Marathon with her in 2018!

I've had a weird relationship with running since this race. Although I ran a couple more races since then (Freihofers for the win! Trail running camp was awesome! Dropping out of a half marathon in Philadelphia!), I have really struggled to get back into it, even as I lost 20 pounds through circuit training and was in probably the best shape of my life (and then re-gained it once I hurt my back again, got a stressful job, and moved). I'm going to run the Covered Bridges Half Marathon this June, and I hope it gets me back into things a little more. And, until training starts in March, I'm taking a fitness class three times a week that really kicked my butt yesterday, so I'm hoping to start on really strong footing.

And in the meantime, I'm so grateful to my incredible family and friends who supported me through this crazy process a couple years ago. Roger never complained when I would spend hours every Sunday morning running in the cold and then come home pretty useless for the rest of the day. Shelby texted me after each of her long runs and kept me stoked leading up to the race. Courtney ran the entire race with me, even though I know she could have done it much, much faster, and sang Beyoncé to me to keep my spirits up. My parents and Liz flew down to Florida and put us up in their fancy hotel rooms. And Jill led us through Disney and bought me the cutest ornament ever to commemorate my run. Although the marathon really killed me, it also showed me how restorative the people around me can be, and taught me to never give up on any dream, even if it doesn't turn out how you planned.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

VW Dealership in Oxford, Ten Years On

It's been ten years since I was studying abroad in Oxford, a time span that seems unbelievable and insurmountable to me now. I keep wanting to recap things about my time there, and I haven't yet. I'm not sure why, other than that this has been a busy year, with perhaps less intellectual effort involved than my year at Wadham, but certainly also fewer free hours and the same amount of emotional energy required. Maybe this will be the first of my recaps. About this time a decade ago, I was just starting Trinity Term. I was planning my "grand tour" of sorts, to commence once the term ended. I was switching out of a course on Psychoanalysis and Literature for one on Literature and Political Thought in Early Modern England, and had already written my first paper for British Women's Fiction. I was sitting on the Wadham Student Union. I was certain I'd have my PhD by now.

Of course, tempus fugit and things change. We lived above the VW dealership pictured above, except when we lived there, it was really still a VW dealership, and it wasn't yet owned by Wadham, nor occupied by activists and homeless people. It was cozy, really, and a little prototype of what I've wanted since: an apartment complex where all of my closest friends lived. It was the first time I had a bedroom upstairs from the living area, something I'd always desperately wanted, growing up on one floor like I did. For that reason, it felt so—authentic. It was a two and a half mile walk from campus, or a short bus ride on the Rose Hill line. The other main road that it split off of had a costume store called Bead Games. I read so much that year. Now, Bead Games is closed, and I've only read one book since moving three months ago. Living in that building seems like yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

I can still remember the exact color and texture of our couch there, the double faucets on the sink.