Peeves—today’s short list

1. I’m driving to knit night and glance in my rear view mirror.  There is some bimbo co-ed in the car behind me, texting (she better freakin’ PRAY she isn’t taking one of my classes–I’ll remember her).  I was afraid we’d be at a stop light, she wouldn’t be paying attention and plow into me.  I wanted to get out of my car, reach into her car, snatch the damn cell phone away, and stomp it to a million itty-bitty pieces right in front of her.

2. So, I’m leaving my knit nite group last night and head towards the parking lot to my car.  I noticed something different.  Earlier in the day, I had taken my car in for its 120,000 check-up and, apparently the dealership put one of those plastic frame thingys that advertise their dealership around my license plate.  Sucker is screwed on there with the license plate.  They didn’t even ASK if I would like to have a plastic frame thingy advertising their dealership on my car.  Did they even notice how bo-bo my car is?  The thing is seven years old and looks it.

3. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me that people’s dogs poop in the park as long as it is on the grass.  Grass is where dogs are suppose to defecate.  However, if your dog ‘misses’ the grass and craps on the paved running path, CLEAN IT UP.



Red’s running log: 5/26/10

Warm-up: walk 5 minutes  Run: 35 minutes  Cool down: walk 5 minutes

The Tuesday night thunderstorms provided a temporary relief in terms of the humidity on Wednesday morning.  I was at the park by 6:10 AM.  It was overcast with the slightest hint of a breeze and fog settled in the low areas.  The air was still ‘moist’ so, technically, that’s considered humidity, I suppose.  However, the combination of the early hour and the cloud cover prevented the moisture from becoming suffocating. 

My run was uneventful.  I tried picking up my pace a bit at times—before the maelstrom hit me late last summer, I ran a fairly consistent 13:30 pace.  Granted, not Speedy Gonzales (anyone remember him?  Would any of the old Bugs Bunny or Hannah Barbera cartoons be considered ‘appropriate’ now? But I digress) but faster than previously nonetheless.  However, since getting back to running after this, I have slowed down considerably–I think I might be at a 15:00 pace.  I believe this is more psychological than anything else.

I was three-fourths of the way finished with my run when the sun began to burn away the clouds.  It is absolutely amazing how quickly the weather heats up in this area.  The temperature and the humidity rose exponentially and by the time I started my cool-down walk, I was drenched in sweat.

I have lived in the Gulf Coast area for over five years and I’m still not acclimatized.  Go figure.

Which leads me to my current dilemma.  The summer semester begins soon and I’m scheduled to teach an American Literature I class during the month of June (yes, June–‘first term’ as it’s called.  This means I have to cover 200+ years of American literature in four weeks.)  The class meets Monday through Friday, for two hours a day.  So, what’s the problem?  The class meets from 8:00-9:55 AM.

When am I going to run?

No, seriously—when am I going to run?

I have identified two options, so far.

Option 1: Run in the evenings.  Someone actually suggested this to me a week ago when I was complaining about the early morning heat and humidity.  However, there are drawbacks.  1. Where I live isn’t ‘runner’ friendly—this is why I go to the park.  2. I run alone, so the prospect of running in the park in the evenings by myself isn’t all that appealing.  I feel safe running in the park in the morning because I figure the drug dealers and juvenile delinquents are still in bed.

Option 2: Going to the rec center on campus and running on the indoor track.  This wouldn’t be too bad (at least it is air-conditioned) but 1. I hate running on the track—it is only 1/10 of a mile and I end up feeling like a hamster on a wheel.  2. Going to the rec center means a greater possibility of running into (metaphorically, not literally) a student.  I don’t want to be responsible for the emotional and psychological scarring which results from seeing your English teacher in industrial strength spandex.  3.  As it has already been established that seeing said English teacher in spandex (and admitting it) puts a student in a life-threatening situation, I could wind up a becoming a serial killer before the end of the term.

So far, these are the only two options I’ve come up with.  I’m open to suggestions.


Red’s running log: 05/24/10

Warm-up: walk 5 minutes Run: 35 minutes (with two 1 minute walk breaks) Cool-down: walk 5 minutes

And I was so proud of myself today.

I actually made it to the park by 5:55 AM this morning.

I had a rather stern talk with myself last night as I set my alarm clock, reminding myself that I needed to get up by 5:00 so I could get to the park by 6:00.  Granted, I did hit the snooze button twice, but I was up and dressed in record time.  I did, however, have to bribe myself that I could go back to bed after the run.

The humidity at 6:00 AM was ridiculous.  I mean, seriously.  I was sweating during my warm-up walk and I had to stop twice during my run for a short walk break.  I loathe taking walk breaks.  Now, don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with taking a walk break when needed.  It’s just I’m afraid of taking walk breaks because I’m afraid I’ll stop running.  No, this is not logical.  I honestly do not know where this ‘fear’ originates.  I’ve been running for well over a year now and even after not running for a month and a half last fall, I still went back to running.

I almost didn’t finish my run.  I looked at my watch and saw I had about three minutes left.  I was close to the place I started and I had promised my other self, no matter how much time we had left, we’d stop at our starting point.  My other self began to cheer as the starting point loomed closer.  I assured my other self we would stop when we got to that point and then promptly turned down another path.  My other self is still cussing me out.

Schizophrenia* aside, I made it the last three minutes, did my cool-down walk, and made it to my car without collapsing.  Once inside, I cranked the A/C to as high as it would go and mopped my face with my shirt.

Then I felt it—the all too familiar aura of an impending migraine.

I seriously hoped it was something else, that I just needed to get a drink, eat some breakfast.  But, no.  These did not help.  I took three aspirin (for a total of 975 milligrams) and it didn’t even touch it.  Determined to get on with my day, I showered, packed my laptop bag, and headed to the local coffee shop.  Surely a heavy dose of caffeine would help.

Nope.  Apparently ignoring a migraine will not make it go away.  Ignoring a migraine just makes it pouty and it increases the intensity to get your attention.  I’m going home to lie down in a dark, cool room.


*Yes, I know schizophrenia does not mean multiple personalities.  Yes, I know schizophrenia is a terrible mental illness.  No, I am not making light of this or any other mental illness, so give me a break already.


Red and the overly observant student

Other possible title: The cat may just kill those with too much curiosity

When you are part-time faculty, you don’t get much choice in the classes you teach.  Full time faculty get first pick (hence one of the benefits of being full time) because they are higher up on the academic food chain. The chain looks something like this, from lowest on the chain to highest: undergraduate student, graduate student, graduate assistant, teaching assistant, intern, part-time faculty, full time faculty, tenured faculty, assistant to the chair of the department, chair of the department.  There I am, sixth on the chain.

Being where I am on the food chain, and considering these hard economic times, I take whatever classes I can get.  So, when asked if I’d be interested in a Tuesday/Thursday 8:00-9:15 AM Brit Lit II class, I said yes.  It wouldn’t interfere with my running (MWFS) and, as I live spitting distance away from campus, getting to my office by 7:00, 7:30 wouldn’t be a problem.  No, I’m not required to be at my office an hour before my classes begin–I just like to be at my office at least an hour (no less than a half-hour) before classes begin.

I really liked the class.  I developed a good rapport with the students, the material was interesting, and I only had to grade tests and not papers.  The majority of the students who started the class made it to the end–a rare occurrence.

It was a Thursday.  The class went well.  I dismissed the students, reminded them of the reading for Tuesday, and began to erase the blackboard (side note: one of my pet peeves is going into a classroom where the instructor before me has not erased the blackboard).  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed one of the students waiting.

“Did you have a question?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “but I think I’ve seen you a few times this past week.”

Perhaps it is a Pavlovian response from my adolescent years, but when someone says “I’ve seen you” I experience a momentary sense of panic.  I did so this time as well.  Madly, I mentally flipped through my memory files of the week–where had I been?  I hadn’t gone out to a bar or club in quite some time, didn’t remember acting out in public anywhere recently, wasn’t rude to any servers, hadn’t pinched any wayward children, or physically harmed any students.

“Really?” I was a bit wary. “Where?”

“I think I’ve seen you running down Museum Drive at the park.”

“Oh, yes.” Relief. “I run there four times a week.”

“I thought that was you! Well, have a nice weekend,” she said and left the classroom.

Relieved, I turned back to the task of erasing the blackboard…then it hit me.

She saw me running in the park.

If she saw me running in the park, that means she’s seen me in spandex.

Well, I thought as I packed up my briefcase, she has to die.  No student can see me in spandex and live.

Pity too as she was a really good student.


Red’s running log 5/21/10

Warm up: 5 minutes, Run: 30 minutes, Cool down: 5 minutes

Today’s run was slow–very, very slow.

I had skipped Wednesday’s run–I’m such a creature of habit that missing a run seems like the end of the world as I always think, what if I stop running? Illogical, I know, but it has already been established that I operate under my own special form of logic which, at times, seems illogical.  So, when I skip a run, I typically have a good reason.  Wednesday’s reason was that I had a crappy Tuesday evening due to the fact I come home from work to find a letter from the soon-to-be ex’s lawyer.  Soon-to-be ex has decided to be an asshole.  Great.  This emotional drama led to a very bad, very fitful night’s sleep so when the alarm went off at 5:00 AM Wednesday morning, I said “screw it”, shut off the alarm and promised myself I would run on Thursday.

I did not run on Thursday because, when I got home from work on Wednesday, there was another letter in the mail.  This letter informed me that I did not get the full-time position I interviewed for a week and a half ago. I swear, I’m going to stop going to work because I just come home to bad stuff in my mail box.  So another fitful night of sleep that even a gin and tonic didn’t help and I was in no mood to get up and run on Thursday–in fact, I stayed in bed until 10:00 AM.  As I did not have to go to work on Thursday, there was nothing bad in my mailbox so I was able to get a halfway decent night’s sleep.

I’m not sure why I set my alarm to 5:00 AM.  I never actually get up at this time, or at least rarely.  Actually, I do know why I set my alarm for 5:00 AM because the night before I always tell myself I’ll get up at 5:00 or 5:15, do some writing and then get to the park before 6:30.  Every morning when the alarm goes off, I apparently forget this plan and tell myself I don’t need to get up now and I hit the snooze button for an hour. I also forget every morning how long it takes me to get ready as in my half asleep state I think it will just take a minute to throw my running stuff on when in reality it takes me at least 30 minutes to get out of the house and inevitably I’m leaving my house at 6:30, not getting to the park at 6:30.

When I left the house this morning (at 6:30) I was reminded (yet again) why I wanted to get to the park before 6:30 AM.  At 6:30 AM it is already hot and humid here.  In reality, I should probably get to the park at 6:00 AM.  Undaunted, I made it to the park.

Perhaps it is psychological, but when I miss a running day and don’t make it up the next day, I feel like I need to start over again, like I’ve lost ground somehow in that three day span.  Add to this the heat and humidity and I decided it was going to be a slow running day as I didn’t want to risk a migraine.

The run itself was fairly uneventful.  I was not harassed by any American geese or insects and there were few people in the park.  After fifteen minutes, my watched beeped, letting me know I was halfway through my run.  I turned around and started back towards the point where I had begun.  I had approximately six minutes left when I saw, about 20 yards ahead of me, an elderly couple walking.

Now, I’m not one of those runners who feel compelled to past everyone in their path.  In fact, I really don’t like passing people because it takes me so damn long to do so, unless they are using a walker and on an oxygen tank and even then I need to pick up my pace. However, at times it is necessary to pass when you’re getting too close because it really is creepy to have someone lumbering behind you for 10 minutes until they pass.

Honestly, I didn’t want to pass this couple.  I mean, I was technically going slightly faster than they were and would eventually catch up to them, but I just didn’t want to do it.

The stretch of pavement we were on split off into two paths. One path veers to the right and leads back to my starting point.  The other path goes straight to a turn around loop which, of course, leads back to the original path.  I watched the couple to see which path they would choose.  They veered to the right; I went straight and ran the loop.  By the time I got back, the couple was no where to be seen and I started down the last stretch towards my starting point.

I only had a few minutes to go–it was hot, sweat dripped into my eyes, and I felt slightly ill–but I didn’t want to stop so close to the end, so I played the “Can I make it to…” game.  The game goes like this: I locate a spot ahead and ask myself “Can I make it to the next tree?” and my other self says “Yes, I can make it to the next tree” and so on.

Self: Can you make it to the next tree?

Other Self: Yeah, I can make it to the next tree.

Self: Can you make it to that pine cone?

Other Self: Yeah, sure. I can make it to the pine cone.

Self: Can you make it to the trash can?

Other Self: Yeah.

Self: Yeah what?

Other Self: Yeah, I can make it to the trash can.

Self: Can you make it to the bench?

Other Self: Do I get to sit on the bench?

Self: Uh, no.

Other Self: Then no, I’m not going to make it to the bench.

Self (consulting watch): Ok, can you at least make it 30 more seconds?

Other Self, sighing: Ok, I can make it 30 more seconds, but that’s it.  And don’t try to trick me by saying “Oh, we’re so close to ‘whatever’ spot, so let’s just run until we get there” because I ain’t doing it–do you understand me?!?  Oh crap–it’s that old couple again–tell me we aren’t going to try to pass them.

Fortunately, my watch beeped before I had a complete psychotic breakdown or before I was close enough to have to pass the elderly couple.


Red and the Zumba class

I still can’t believe I let myself be talked into it.

So, I’m in my office with one of the other part-timers and she’s tells me about this ‘great’ exercise class–Zumba.

“It’s sooo much fun,” she said. “You should come with me.”

“I don’t do aerobics,” I said.

“Oh no, it’s not aerobics–just dancing.  The class goes by real fast.”

Seeing how, last semester, I had convinced her once to meet me at the park early one Saturday morning where we walked for over two hours in the slightly cold weather, I figured it was only fair that I try this exercise class.  Of course, she reminded me of that early Saturday morning outing.  I reminded her we walked, we didn’t run.  “Yea, but we walked really fast,” was her comeback and I really couldn’t argue with that point.  I agreed to go with her that Thursday evening.

The Zumba class was held at a skating rink and it cost $5 to get in.  My friend insisted we had to be up front, so we could “see” the instructor.  The rink quickly filled and,  I kid you not, there were close to 150 women packed into the place.  Have I ever mentioned I don’t do real well in crowds?  Honestly.  I won’t even take the stairs between classes at the university because of all the people crammed in the stairwell.  I’ve hyperventilated at the mall and had near panic attacks at crowded grocery stores.  However, I managed to hold it together, though I kept expressing my concern of A. bumping into someone or B. someone bumping into me.  My friend assured me it would be fine.

The instructor finally made her appearance and got up on the raised platform at the front of the rink.  After a brief explanation for the ‘newbies’ she cued the music and the class began.  For those of you unfamiliar with the ways of Zumba, the class is broken up into ‘sets’, each of which lasts approximately 10 minutes; there is a few seconds pause (in which everyone rushes to get a drink from their water bottles) and the next set begins.  Fairly straight forward.  The instructor does not call out the moves; you’re just suppose to watch and follow her.

The first “set” wasn’t too bad as it pretty much consisted of marching forward, doing a little jump whilst throwing your arms up in the arm and then marching backwards, doing another little jump and clapping once.  Nothing too complicated, nothing I couldn’t handle.  The next set was trickier and I had to resort to basically marching in place.  A brief pause, then a change of music.  This is were it got ‘interesting’.  There is a very good reason why I don’t ‘do’ aerobics–I am one of the most uncoordinated people on the face of the earth.  I have no ‘rhythm’ (which, by the way, is also the reason I don’t ‘do’ poetry–I can’t ‘hear’ the meter).  I have nothing against dancing per se, provided it is A. in the privacy of my own home or B. I’m too drunk to give a shit or C. everyone else is too drunk to give a shit.  Zumba did not meet any of these criteria.

Imagine the nerdiest, most awkward, most painfully clumsy high school dance scene from any movie–that was me.  The set was complicated, consisting of turns one way and then the next, moving to the right and then to the left.  I went right when everyone else went left; when they went left, I went right.  They went forward, I went backward.  I desperately tried to get it right; however, I couldn’t watch the instructor and watch where I was going.  The more I screwed up, the more self-conscious I became and screwed up even more.

Then it happened.

I turned right when I should have turned left and the perfect blond beside me (wearing cargo pants and a tank top with “Zumba” written across her ample, yet perfect breasts) ran into me.  Did she say “Sorry” or “Excuse me” or “You okay?”  No.  Bitch just kept right on going.  Granted, I wasn’t hurt, I wasn’t knocked over, or physically injured.  Psychically injured, yes, physically injured, no.

Mortified, I walked away.  I would have walked right out the door and left except 1. I paid $5 damn dollars and 2. my keys were still at the front of the class.  Instead, I went to the bathroom, got a drink of water, and tried to calm myself down.  Yep, I was close to tears.  Once I got a hold of myself, I went back to the floor, this time in the back where there was less chance of getting ran over and attempted, in a half-assed way, to finish the class.  In the back, I was in the perfect position to observe.  The final sets involved quite a bit of hip thrusting which I opted out of doing because A. it looks ridiculous, like you’re trying to hump the air and B. such moves should probably be reserved for the privacy of one’s own home.

Finally, the class ended and I made my way back to the front to retrieve my keys.  My friend was waiting, gulping water from her water bottle.

“Hey, I saw you go to the back,” she said.

“You didn’t tell me that Zumba was just aerobics on crack,” was my response.

“Oh, you’ll like it better next time,” she said, to which I explained, in no uncertain terms, that there would not be a next time.  I was not going to do this again.

Friday morning–I’m up, out the door, and at the park by 6:30 AM.  After my 5 minute warm-up walk, I began my run.  Within a few minutes, I found my ‘pace’, my breathing synchronized with the steady rhythm of my shoes hitting pavement.  Sleep had healed my wounded psyche (pretty much anyway) and as I made my way through the park, I reflected on the previous night’s experience.

I’ve always been very self-conscious of my body, even when I was younger and ‘thin’.  Awkward and klutzy, I never played sports, never took dance classes.  On top of this, throw in a step-mother who was a size 0, a former cheerleader, and very critical plus a father whose idea of “joking” was to ridicule and it is little wonder that physical activities held no fascination for me.  My safety zone was the world of books, of words, of academia, areas where I excelled and could feel just a little bit good about myself.  Not that these things were important in the house where I grew up.

Zumba brought back those old feelings of inadequacy–I felt awkward, fat, and stupid.  My self-worth trashed because I couldn’t figure out how to make my body do what everyone else was doing.

Running is different.  Sure, I’m fairly self-conscious in my Under Armor shorts, but who is going to see me at 6:30 AM?  I don’t run fast, but when my pace is steady, I feel graceful like one of those antelopes on one of those nature programs.  Sometimes the sun is just right and I’ll see my shadow running along the ground–my shadow self is lean and I like to think it is the me that waits to come out, who is slowly emerging one run at a time.

Running is, often times, a solitary activity.  No crowds.  No blaring music.  My friend admits she has to be ‘distracted’ when she exercises–ipod, TV, or a roomful of hip-thrusting, butt-wiggling women humping the air in time with the latest top 40 club music.  And that’s okay.  Whatever works best for her.

Not me.  I like the solitude of running, being in tune with my body, listening to the music/thoughts/voices in my head.  When I run, I’m at peace with myself.


Red is back

Other potential comeback titles: “Red is up and running again” or “Red runs again”

Quick summary of the last 7 months since I (momentarily) fell off the face of the earth:

Due to the stress created by the disintegration of my relationship, the virus I was battling in October came back and got the upper hand; I couldn’t run for about a month.  I moved out of the house the first week of November (and, surprisingly, started to get better) and have been on my own ever since.  By mid-November I was running again.

Sports fans–this is the first time I’ve ever, ever lived on my own.  I kid you not.  Just me and the three cats who, of course, completely run the house and my life.

So far, so good.  As I’m easily amused and can easily amuse myself, being by myself isn’t so bad.  Granted, it’s hard–I’m working three part-time jobs just to keep afloat–but (most days) I enjoy the solitude.  The little place I’m renting is close to just about everything: my favorite park is less than 10 minutes away, the university is 10-15 minutes away depending on traffic, my church is less than 5 minutes, grocery store 15-20 minutes, library 20 minutes, and another good park to run is only 15-20 minutes away.

It’s good to be back.

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