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I never thought I’d actually like running. I was the girl who did hung-over Turkey Trots. Exclusively.
Well okay–you caught me–I still do hung-over Turkey Trots (no comment on the picture below), but I now run a lot more in between the awful 3.1 miles that I put myself through annually.
This year, I’m training for three half marathons: the Trailbreaker Half, the Indy Mini-Marathon, and the Fox Valley Half. The Trailbreaker Half was yesterday, and I will admit that this was WAY more painful than my first one. I still had some lingering effects of bronchitis, so it was challenging to push through the final miles. I came it at 2:07:51 (9:46/mile pace), which I am actually quite proud of, considering that I walked and coughed up a lung for a good portion of Mile 11. I’m making sure to take care of myself before the next two races so that I can make it under 2 hours this year!
As bad as this race felt, there were two silver linings.
The first is that my uncle, who lives in the area, drove to various spots along the trail to cheer me on. It was a complete surprise and was encouraging to see him, camera in hand, yelling “Go Aimee!” I also got a chance to visit with my aunt and uncle after the race, which I don’t get to do very often since they live out of state. They invited my friends and I back to their house for lunch and we were cracking up at some of Uncle Scott’s famous stories . Thank you, Uncle Scott & Aunt Connie!
The second is that I spent the evening in Milwaukee with my friends. Lauren and I had a hankering for Indian food and ventured out to Maharaja for dinner. My graduate class used to eat there before our trip to India and for a spice junkie like me, this always hits the spot (if you’re curious, I chronicled that trip in a separate blog. You can read it here). After a meal of lamb and chana (chick pea) masala, we met back up with Nicole and Joe. With tired feet and not much motivation, we popped in the movie Pitch Perfect. If you’ve never seen this before, cancel your plans tonight and make it happen. Scenes like these are the reason you will not regret it:
So, well there ya go. I wouldn’t even be mad if you called me Fat Aimee because–Oh my Jesus–that character is hilarious. I just need to continue with these half marathons so that the fat part stays a joke!
I’m 25 today. I’m 25 today. I’m…screw it. Let’s talk about something else, yeah? How about some other things to celebrate on this day? Yes, that’s definitely better than talking about my age.
March 16th is the day that a dear friend received a life-saving transplant. We like to think of it as her “re-birth” day This particular friend does not count English as her first language, but she sure has a way with words. She has given me some of the best advice. Here are some of my favorite little bits of her wisdom:
- On positive attitudes: “When life gives you lemons, you can either embitter or make gin & tonics”
- On moving on: “The best thing I can tell you is that you should go ahead and say everything you have to. Everything you were made to feel. Don’t save anything for yourself–whatever you leave unspoken, that’s what will come back to you.”
- On smiling: ”Smile so that it cannot fit your face!”
March 16th is the day that Melanie would have turned 40. Melanie is a family friend that passed away 5 years ago from peritoneal cancer. She left behind two young boys and a void in the family that loves her. In her honor, my family walks as Team Melanie Strong in the American Cancer Society Walk & Roll every year. As a tribute to her 40th birthday, please consider participating (albeit virtually) in Mel’s 40th with 40 Acts of Kindness. It’s super easy, I promise! Just do one act of kindness–extend gracious words, volunteer, call up an elderly relative, make someone feel special. Why? Because love and kindness are never wasted–they always make a difference.
March 16th is also the day that *sigh* I turn a quarter of a century old. Man, the things that can happen in a year. In the past 1/100 of a century, I…
- I visited four more states: Arizona, Missouri, Tennessee, and North Carolina
- Took two trips to North Carolina to keep in touch with some old friends: Fayetteville for World Beer Fest and Raleigh for New Years
- Backpacked to the most beautiful place in the world–Havasupai Falls: I, II, III
- Fell in love with running: Lighthouse Run, Hot Chocolate 15k, a hungover Turkey Trot, Superbowl Shuffle, Half Marathon
- Bought a
housecondo & “remodeled all of the things”.
- Made a switch to pursue a career that I actually enjoy.
- Adjusted to life post-heart attack as we passed the 1-year mark.
- Found some great heart-healthy recipes: Kick-Ass Granola bars, Pizza, Pumpkin goodness
- Learned more about my grandparents’ lives–First Date, Life in the Great Depression
Now, I just need a birthday anthem & a new bucket list item. Well, it’s clear I need to learn to make pancakes. Like for real. Also, if you need an anthem and do NOT pick Alabama Shakes, something is wrong with you. You should probably check your vitals.
Okay bye! I’ve got a bucket list to attend to! I’m getting old!
- Pastry goods at gas stations. Those nutrition facts are terrifying!
- Horror movies with story lines involving the church. (Read: The Exorcist. Just awful.)
- Giving blood. Nope. Sign me up for ANY other charitable cause.
- Heart attacks. So over these.
I now need to add something else to this list: Adjusting to living solo. Compared to the renovation work we did, this change is far more scary. Oh! Speaking of renovation, I have an update! I’ve showed you some of the initial stages, but here is the finished product!
Okay back to the scary thing that is living alone. I feel wimpy admitting that this scares me because I’ve lived alone before. At age 19. In a foreign country. With no other American students from back home. THIS should not scare me, but it does. Perhaps it’s because–for the past 6 years–I’ve lived in the good company of either amazing college roommates or family. Or perhaps it’s because of my less-than-comforting first night. Let me explain.
Two weeks ago, I drove to the city in the midst of a snow storm with a car full of groceries and a bargain TV. God had mercy on my soul and I miraculously parallel parked on a side street that wasn’t a plowed street. I didn’t have cable or internet installed yet, so after I set up my TV, I decided to call it a night.
Then, circa 3 am, my smoke detector started chirping from a low battery. Being the genius that I am, I didn’t (a) have replacement batteries on hand or (b) think to just take it apart for the night. So I sat up, miserable, thinking about how much I’d like to swing a hammer through the damn thing.
That’s when my actual alarm went off. The “there’s-someone-in-your-house-hope-you-have-a-Home-Alone-escape-plan-in-place” alarm. The alarm company called me to ask if it was an actual break in and if they should call the police; they had registered an intrusion from the front window. I grabbed my shovel (yes, I know, pathetic. Illinois Conceal & Carry or not, I need a gun.) and made my way to the front window. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The alarm monitoring company said that sometimes strong winds set off the detector. There was a snowstorm that night, so I guess that made sense…but still! I was shaken. I went back to my bed and listened to my smoke alarm chirp until my third alarm went off. Time for work.
Getting ready in a new environment took 8 million times longer than it should have. At my parents’ house, I had it down to a science. I could be up, showered, blow dry my hair, make up on, dressed, breakfast made, lunch packed and out the door in 27 minutes. I’m going to have to work to get my mojo back in this area . In the midst of fumbling for my breakfast and trying to pack my computer bag, I realized that my key to the communal laundry room wasn’t on my key ring. Damn. Not essential, but still…really?! A kind neighbor lent me her key so that I could run to the Home Depot on my lunch break and get keys and a replacement battery for the smoke detector. I’ve become all too familiar with that place…
Then on my way to work, I realized that my El line was down to accommodate construction of one of the Chicago bridges, making me almost an hour late to work. So that was fun.
As terrifying and frustrating as that first night/morning was, I’ve slowly started to get the swing of things around here. I even made my first real meal here! Which was a quesadilla, thanks for asking
My dad has this little habit of overdoing things. What starts out as a simple, easy plan will morph–without fail–into a more elaborate version of itself. We affectionally poke fun at him by quoting this scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation whenever an “easy” plan is on the brink of complication.I think I have to stop making fun of him because I’ve realized that I’m cut from the same damn cloth. Let me explain.
In December, I finally cashed in on my years of commuting and bought a condo in Chicago. The first weekend, my parents helped me to clean the place, paint my bedroom yellow, move some small things, etc. As we were chatting, I mentioned that I had received more money back from the closing than I had anticipated. My dad suggested that I use the money to refinish my wooden floors prior to moving any “real” furniture in.
What a great idea, I thought! Project: Move In stepped aside to let Project: Refinish Floors come to the front. Soon, the floor refinishing expanded to re-tiling the kitchen and bathroom, which grew into redoing my entire bathroom and before I knew it, I was like:
Yep. I’m definitely my dad’s daughter. Check it out the progress, though.
Bathroom Before (Left) –> Refinished tub/new tile (Right)
New Bathroom (Left) and Kitchen (Right) Tile
As with all things, there were some hiccups, but thankfully I was working with a great contractor who helped to smooth out the bumps in the road. Hopefully we will be able to wrap up the rest of the renovation work soon!
I’ll keep y’all posted!
What’s in North Carolina? My long-lost camping buddy, that’s who! The last time I saw Kari was back in April, when we reunited after 10 years to drink our way through the World Beer Fest.
This time, though, Kari wasn’t the only long-lost camping buddy in North Carolina. With two of her brothers in town as well, we actually were able to gather half of the crew:
The seven kiddos in the picture above (I’m the one in the fluffed-out yellow shirt. Note to self: fluffing is never okay) met because of our parents’ friendship. My dad has remained close with his best friend from high school. His family and my family used to go on camping trips as a way to keep in touch. After many summers together, we got to know each other pretty well.
Our plan for the weekend was pretty simple. We were to meet in Raleigh and do the exact opposite of camping….clubbing.
To illustrate how we really went from one end of the wardrobe spectrum to the other, I tossed in some PRIME throw-back pics. Enjoy!
From swim suits to swag.
From realllly excited about dinner to reallllly excited about ringing in a New Year
From keeping it real in a cave to keeping it real on the dance floor.
The weekend was an absolute blast–we laughed a lot, brought up some Orange-y and Pork-ey memories (a story for another time ), and played a requisite game of Phase 10 (Kari and my go-to campground entertainment).
New Years Resolution….reunion camping trip 2013?
Remember talking about the idle Tuesdays of life? K, great, me too.
Remember also allowing for the possibility that something might just fall into your lap (you don’t have to agree…I’ll keep going regardless).
Finally, remember how I thought opportunities like that would present themselves while out drinking with friends?
Whelp, I was right. I was in the midst of this…
…when I agreed to road trip down to St. Louis and Nashville. It was a short lil’ trip and I spent less than 24 hours in the land of the honky tonks, but boy oh boy did we fit a lot of country music into those 24 hours.
So, in tribute to the mecca of country music, this post will hitherto be an ode of patchwork country lyrics. This
might will be messy. And probably won’t make any sense. But here goes.
There’s nothing that’s worth keeping me; from the places I should go; From happyville to lovingland; I’m going to tour from coast to coast. I’m leaving everything behind; There’s not much that I need. Cause if I ain’t got nothing…I’m footloose and fancy free (Tim McGraw, Last Dollar).
We all got a hillbilly bone down deep inside; No matter where you from you just can’t hide it; When the band starts banging and the fiddle saws; You just can’t help but hollerin’ YEE-HAW (Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins, Hillbilly Bone)
Now I’m not big on social graces; Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis; Oh! I’ve got friends…..in low places. (Garth Brooks, Friends in Low Places)
I was a rock star, party hard; Gettin’ over you comeback kid; Hey I musta did; What all my friends say; Yeah, yeah, yeah (Luke Bryan, All My Friends Say)
(Whoa-oh) Never gonna grow up; (Whoa -oh) Never gonna slow down; (Whoa-oh) We were like shinin’ like lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show. (Jake Owen, Barefoot Blue Jean Night)
Crank up the band, play the steel guitar; Hank it up a little, let’s rock this bar; threw back a shot, yelled “I’m a George Strait junkie; “Ah-ooh-hoo, play somethin’ country”; “Ha-ooh-hoo, play somethin’ country” (Brooks & Dunn, Play Something Country)
And I miss my Tennessee home; But I can see the ways that I’ve grown; I can’t see this world unless I go; Outside my Southern Comfort Zone (Brad Paisley, Southern Comfort Zone)