You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

when_i_grow_up_become_architect_bannerI worked at Barnes & Noble for five years.  During that time, most of my friends also worked, or had worked at Barnes & Noble.  When we got together, we talked about the day to day, the crazy customers, the ridiculous decisions corporate was handing down to ruin our lives, etc, etc.  Then I got a job at tv station, and started hanging out with those people.  Naturally, we talked about tv station, so much so, that another friend, married to a co-worker, said that she didn’t want to hang around with us anymore because it was so boring for her.

Then at the end of a lovely girls’ weekend, my friends from high school told me that all I talked about was work, they didn’t care, and I needed to become interesting again.

Since those interventions, I have been hyper-aware of talking about work.  I realize that it’s inevitable, but absolutely do not want to be a one-dimensional person who only talks about my day-to-day rather than “real” stuff.  This was a particularly difficult thing when I was working at the call center, tv station, coffee shop, and doing very little else.  I wasn’t in school for the first time since I was six, and was working the most hateful job in the world, which left me feeling both angry and brain-dead.  I spent much of that period of my life writing angry blogs, sitting in silence, and feeling sick out of guilt for calling in sick all the time.

Part of the reason I picked librarianship is the variety that it presents.  Since no two days are alike, and each day involves learning something, I figure I can handle only having one job for once in my life–of course, I need to get that one job, but whatever, work in progress.  Even if my position does contain a lot of variety, and I do like talking about it, I fear that it will, inevitably, become all I talk about.  Most of my friends are librarians, and our conversations tend to veer toward the information sciences, but we do talk about other things too! Don’t we?

I haven’t blogged in quite a while, because I haven’t really had anything to say.  I’ve been going to work, coming home, watching LOST, reading, and running–it’s all pretty normal and not worth mentioning.  Naturally, this fills me with the panic that I’m becoming boring or regular, which has always been my fear, which is why I usually try to have too much going on.

I lack real hobbies because my hobby has always been having three jobs and having no time for hobbies.  It seems like everyone has their thing, whether it be gardening, or bird-watching, scrapbooking–granted, I wouldn’t really want to talk to anyone who only wanted to talk about those things, but it’s more the spirit of it that I’m after.  Most likely, I’m overthinking this completely. Often, when I’m having a good conversation with people, I cannot remember what topics we talked about.

The bigger problem is that when I’m not in school, I freak out.  If I don’t have a concrete goal, I feel like I’m floundering.  Even the other day when I was telling Jewish Friend about this panic and she reminded me that I have two jobs, a column, am reading for the Rhode Island Teen Book Award, and am a patron of the arts–all I could think was, she doesn’t get what I mean.

It’s an elusive thing because I don’t really respond well to long-range planning, but at the same time must have something to look forward to.  For now, I’m going to start listening to modern scholar lectures in the car again–starting with Unseen Diversity: The World of Bacteria, and hopefully this will work itself out.

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Pretty much describes the 2009 Newport Amica 1/2 marathon, and the words of Joni Mitchell: “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” have taken on a whole new meaning.

This is my third 1/2 marathon, and now I realize that I have been completely spoiled.  Yes, the weather was awful–driving needles of rain, gusts of wind, temperatures of about 45 degrees, but I’m  not blaming the race organizers for that, I’m blaming them for doing a terrible job for not anticipating the weather and having contingencies, and mostly for not having things that are necessary to runners that have nothing to do with the weather.

I arrived at the Newport Grand, at 6:45am.  We were told to park there, and that there would be shuttles to bring us to the start and pick us up at the finish line.  There were about 12 people waving us into place, four buses waiting, everything seemed to be fine.  Then once we unloaded at the start line, there was nowhere to go, and no one to tell us where to go, no signs.  People who hadn’t registered yet (really? you wait until 7am race day?) were allowed to go inside to get their numbers, but the rest of us who had the foresight to get our stuff earlier had to wait outside.  I leaned against a brick wall for over an hour.  I didn’t even know where the Start line for the race was, and no one I asked did either.  I briefly left my wall because someone said there were port-a-potties “that way,” but I couldn’t find them.  I figured I’d probably have to use the toilet somewhere along the race route, and that there would be plenty.

That was strike two for this race.  There were about 3,000 runners, and five toilets.  Here’s a dirty little secret about running: it makes most people want to crap.  At the very least, it makes you feel like you really need to pee.  As I’ve run more and more, I’ve kind of gotten over that, but considering I had been waiting around for 2 hours or so, I had to go.  I got in a line four people deep, and lamented what all this hanging around would do to my time, but by this point in the race–mile four–I had figured out that there weren’t going to be more toilets further on.

Dropping off port-a-potties has got to be the easiest thing any race organizer can do.  It requires two efforts–that’s all–drop off, and pick up.  Most runners don’t even care if they’re that clean.  I saw two runners, both dressed like Wonder Woman (girls) peeing in the trees in a fairly residential area.  Guys runners get to do that a lot–girls usually don’t, but if I had been wearing a skirt, I might have, that’s how desperate it was.

There were also very few aid stations, no First Aid, no Gu, no snacks, and only one station had Gatorade.  I commend any volunteers who came out to help in that weather, but I heard a girl afterward say that she had to pour her own water at one point.  Since it was downpouring, I didn’t drink too much water, but if this was all they had planned and it had turned out to be very hot–like last October– I get uncomfortable thinking about it.

The worst was the end of the race.  Like always, the runner tears across the finish line and is forced to stop immediately because there’s a whole crowd of people.  There was one person handing out medals, and one person handing out mylar, so finishers had to line up for each of those things.  The tent had a lot of food, more than I’ve seen at other races, but was entirely too small for all the people in it.  Again, I have to say, it rains all the time in New England, yet these people seemed to have no contingencies to deal with this.  I know that the race is rain or shine, and I’m fine with that, but afterward, we need to be comfortable.

I had a piece of pizza, which I could barely chew because I was shivering so hard, and decided that all I wanted in the world was to just get into my car and go home.  So I tried to find the bus to take me back to the Newport Grand.  I saw one, 1/2 full drive by and two people run into heavy traffic to try to get on it, but I was not willing to do that and figured there must be a pick up place somewhere.  I asked a volunteer who’s sole job seemed to be standing by this tiny Amica car, and he said “I think it’s down there.”

There was no sign, no indication of where the bus would be picking people up, just the line of 100 freezing runners and well-wishers standing in the rain.  We waited like that for thirty minutes until one bus came drove by, again 1/2 full, without stopping.  Then another came and filled up immediately, then another.  It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, freezing, angry people all fighting their way onto a Middletown school bus.  I managed to sneak my way on as the bus driver told the crowd that he couldn’t take any more, and a man yelled at him for taking people from the end of the line rather than the front. “You are a terrible human being!” he screamed.  “Don’t they know what we’ve been though?” another woman mumbled just sounding sad.

I realize that a lot of this may sound like petty grievances  to someone who doesn’t know better, but marathon organizers have to take into consideration that we’re putting our bodies through something very demanding, and need to be warm and dry (ish) afterward.  People die running races like this, this isn’t just an easy way to make a few bucks and dole out promotional t-shirts.

Right now, I’m more sore than I’ve been in a long time, and a lot of that is just due to shivering so hard.  I’m glad I didn’t get pneumonia or frostbite.  I don’t have my official race time, and I’m guessing it won’t be posted for quite a while.  I don’t even care anymore, I just hope I don’t get sick.

Update, Official Chip Time:
1382 Andrea Tieman 30 F 2830 Providence RI 2:33:48.69 2:36:36.72 11:58

Despite the elements, I shaved off seven minutes from my previous time. I was hoping to shave off twenty minutes or more, but that would have been impossible in this weather.

The main reason I’m so upset, is that I was really, really looking forward to this race.  Dean Karnazes, who has run marathons in all 50 states and on each continent called this one of the five most beautiful races he’s run.  Even in the driving rain, there were a few times when the waves broke along the ocean drive where I couldn’t help but think–aww that’s pretty, but the experience was so ruined that all I’m left with are bad thoughts.

Hats_bannerWhen I was between ten and thirteen years old, before I became a total Anglophile, I was a Francophile.  I dreamt that the French I picked up watching Canadian Sesame Street would catapult me handily into the world of “fluency” and that I would eventually live in Paris, wear berets, eat cheese, and be wildly, effortlessly sophisticated.  I express this desire by wearing an ill-fitting t-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on it under a pink scrawl that read “Paris,” for anyone who didn’t already know, I guess.

The same year that I wore that t-shirt so much people finally remarked upon it, I also got my first beret.  french-beretMy mother bought it for me with the idea that it would keep my head and ears warm since I had decided that I was too cool for earmuffs, and other hats flattened out my meticulously coiffed hair.  I requested it so that I would have years and years of practice wearing a beret, and once I got to Paris, I would fit right in with the natives.  I would settle the hat jauntily on my head, with a minor adjustment just for flair, and leave the Bistro where my sophisticated friends and I had been having a late lunch, and saunter back to my office to put the finishing touches on my next bestseller.

The dream started to die once I got my beret home and realized that no matter how I placed it on my head, I looked like a total asshole.  It was like the hat wore me instead of the other way around.  It was all you could see, and just looked…odd.  I spent hours in front of the mirror arranging, and flattening, and pouffing, and tugging, then ironing, then deciding that it must be my hair, and experimenting with up/down looks, curls, straight, low ponytail, bun etc.  Finally, I found one way of merely placing it on the top of my head that didn’t make me look completely foolish, but I had to be careful not to move my head too rapidly, or it would fly off.  I wore it out of the house exactly once before it was relegated to the hat collection in the back of my closet.

Since that time, I’ve purchased half a dozen other hats, all with the idea that I would actually wear them.  They all looked incredibly cute in the store, and matched outfits in my collection, but once I put them on, friends would screw up their faces and say something like “it’s cute, but… I don’t know.”

So I’ve accepted that hats are not for me.  I simply do not have the face/head shape that hats suit, so I’ve stopped trying.  Since I don’t often go to the Kentucky Derby, or any other place where a hat might be required, I don’t  feel like I’ve missed out too much.  I have a ridiculous sun hat that I bought to keep the top of my head from getting sunburned in the summertime, and whenever people see it, they laugh, but I don’t care.

Last night, I was watching the HBO version of the movie Grey Gardens about the two “free-spirited” society ladies who eventually live in squalor in a house in East Hampton.  The squalor was obviously unappealing, but when times were good, these women wore some fabulous hats.  I didn’t realize how much I’d internalized it untilI was driving to work this brisk October morning thinking that my outfit would really come together if I had a kicky hat.

But I know better…