Friday, February 25, 2011

This Time of Year

Ah, the winter blues. Being from upstate New York, you'd think that I'd be reveling in (or at least used to) my least favorite of seasons...winter. But after enduring winters that have lasted the better part of 6 months, and seeing snow in months that should never have snow (I'm looking at you April and May), I am officially over winter. I hate the snow. I hate the cold. I hate how dirty everything looks when the snow melts. I hate how bulky the winter makes my wardrobe. I hate boots. I'm such a winter diva.

With March right around the corner, I know its about barreling through and making it to the other side--spring. And to be honest, I do think that the worst is behind us, at least in my neck of the woods. But you never know. Last Friday it was nearly 70 degrees. The following Tuesday? We had snow. Hey, Mother Nature...PICK ONE!

Winter is most definitely the peak of my bitching season, and with each passing winter I swear that I could really live some place that had no winter. If I want snow... I'll go to it. 

On February 25th, 2011 I look out my window and see grey, clouds and rain. And exactly two years ago today, the view from my window looked like this... 
I'll take that February over this one any day.....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Painting the Town Orange

How do I constantly find myself in these sporty situations?!

Last night my fellow Syracuse alum and I broke free from the boring hectic routine that Monday usually provides, and enjoyed a night out on the town (I feel like that  just SCREAMS 40-something married couple) at the SU/Villanova game. And with camera in hand, I was more than ready to document the whole thing. And good thing, because it turned into quite the comical night.

First there were the seats. Syracuse friend had provided the tickets via a Philadelphia SU alumni group, so I was pretty pumped for what I imagined would be our court side seats and my subsequent debut on the jumbo tron. I was also hoping our A-list status would provide us with some sort of  all you can each nachos deal, but I'm not picky--all you can eat hot dogs would suffice. Hmm...looks like I was a little far off. We, instead opted for the "birds eye view" (I'm being kind here).
Did I mention we were a little early too?

A more accurate view....what was directly BEHIND us

The above probably gives you a better idea of where we were sitting. Yep, that's the last row, and the wall right behind us. How is one suppose to admire what a babe Jay Wright is (sorry Boeheim) from this far away?

But true to form, give me a beer and a hot dog and I'll shut up about anything. So we drank, but on our "mean faces", waited for signs of life, and pretended it wasn't a Monday night:

No this was not taken after the place cleared out. We're just punctual

I set a new record by making it until 30 seconds before the half to make my first bathroom break (this is a good 733/735ers can attest to this), and much to my dismay continued to make it rain by purchasing overpriced EVERYTHING. I wish I could have created my own MasterCard ad. It would have read something like this:

Parking: $15
Ticket: $40
Beer: $15
Hot Dog: $4.75
Watching Syracuse beat Villanova at home: $74.75 (priceless my ass...)

But I shouldn't complain, because apparently the door prize upon leaving was as many free packets of Extra-Strength Tylenol you could smuggle out of the place:

They couldn't spring for Excedrin?
Despite everything, the night was actually a ton of fun. We made a night of it. We cheered. We drank. I took too many pictures. And asked too many questions--"Who is that?", "What does he do?", "Why did that happen?" (yeah I was that girl). And commentated the game with a play-by-play that included lines like, "Ohhhh, he's in an ORANGE SANDWICH", and "Looks like a slip and slide out there...", and my personal favorite, "BOO-YA." 

It was great to be back in the action and feel the excitement of a college game. And how did I celebrate the big win? Went home, got in my PJs, and did homework watched Lifetime. Ok, so some things change... 

But who cares. Because we... 
The last embarrassing picture I made him take--he'll me one day!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Run, Run, Run As Fast as You Can: Part 3

Fresh off the heels of my longest run to date, there couldn't be a more perfect time to round out this series. My road to running, no pun intended, has been tough but now its something that I look at as a challenge and dare I say, an enjoyable past time. I've always been self conscious about calling myself a runner. Like I was faking it. But now I am giving myself credit where credit is due. There will always be room for improvement, but I recognize how far I've come. So during my 85 minutes of pounding the pavement on Friday I had too much plenty of time to reflect on why I do this. Why I run:

I run for the challenege.

I run because there are few things that make you feel as accomplished as being totally drenched in sweat.

I run because I now know what calf muscles look like--and I like it.

I run to forget, to get lost in the miles.

I run because I feel stronger, leaner, better.

I run because the shorts are cute.

I run for vanity, and that college weight that just won't shed.

I run because it shows me that hard work pays off. 

I run because on May 15, 2011, I will cross the finish line with 13.1 miles under my belt.

I run because I'm a runner.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Run, Run, Run As Fast as You Can: Part 2

So where did we leave off? Oh yeah, I was depressing you all with my sick and twisted mind, while trying to find out how much exercise was enough. Oh yeah, there.. 

As we left off, the spring of my junior year I experienced a change in scenery. Instead of looking at this:

 I had the pleasure of looking at this:

Yes, I spent my vacation semester abroad in sunny Sydney, Australia. Any sane person would probably think that in a part of the world where I spent a majority of my time in a bathing suit, this would be the last place to ditch my body and exercise neurosis. But as I mentioned before, it was really an attitude change. I would say it was a life change, but I don't want to get too Dr. Phil on you..

When I packed my bags and FINALLY hit the airport on February 25th, saying I was ready for a change was an understatement. I was a hot mess. My boyfriend and I had broken up at the end of the fall semester, which I had plenty of time to think about over my two and a half months off before my departure. Almost three months of Christmas break, sounds great right? Notsomuch. Lets not forget that all of my friends (really...all of them), had left to go back to school early-mid January, and I couldn't even get a job to fill my time. I was in a parent-sandwich at home and literally the ONLY thing I had to do was babysit four days a week for 2 hours (although I now know the whole first season's storyline of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody...don't worry--you're not missing much). I was bored, I had no friends and I was boyfriendless. And if you can't tell, I was well on my way starting to feel bad for myself. I needed a change. Pronto.

Australia was amazing. Excuse me, ahhhhh-maaaaaazing. I made great friends. I traveled. I met some locals. I drank some beverages. And oh yeah, I went to school.  There was so much to see and do (not to mention I had 15 roommates to get to know), and I didn't want to miss out on one minute of it. During my school orientation, I realized that access to the gym on campus was not included as part of your tuition and to do so you would have to pay extra. Uh, what?! Hold the phones... I was not going to pay to dedicate hours of my time inside when I was in paradise. No effing way. So that's when I decided I'd just run outside. I'd become a runner. Kind of like, "I think I'll have cereal for breakfast..."

Manohmanohmanohman. But, I have to hand it to myself. I don't know if it was the bathing suit guilt or what, but I saw it through. And over the next few months, I ran. At a snails pace, but I ran. Because the heat was so sweltering during the daytime, I was forced to run either early in the morning (most of you know I don't function before 8am 10am) or late at night. So I'd run at 8 or 9pm. My neighborhood was extremely hilly, but I found a loop that was just challenging enough for a beginner--down my street, along the beach, back up a busy street (can't stop, don't want anyone to see me walking), downhill, and back home. And I was slow. I swear I saw a couple dog walkers passing me from time to time. But all the newness was distracting. Getting lost in the streets, running along the beach, feeling the ocean air. It was actually a relaxing environment, something I never equated with running. It kept me occupied and before I knew it I was back where I had started. Success!

The biggest change, however, was how relaxed I was. I tried to run maybe four times a week, but if something interfered with it, I'd try another day. I actually looked around and realized I wasn't going to be here forever, and this always won over my "I should be exercising" guilt. 

Within a month or so, I saw improvements. Each time I ran, the loop became easier. I felt accomplished. I wanted to push myself. Do one more, and one more. But for me. I was all alone out there, and it was the first time I was competing against myself. It was the first time it felt rewarding. By the end of my time in Sydney, I was up to five loops. 6.25 miles. Something I honestly thought my body was physically incapable of doing. I could not believe that these two feet had taken me that far, and as weird as it sounds it was kind of a high. I knew I could do anything at that point.

Upon returning to the States, I am happy to say that my attitude followed with me. I still had goals I wanted to keep, and I pushed myself. But that's the key word, i. Not the girl next to me, not my roommate. I pushed me. On the flip side, I tried to chill out. I felt the freedom to go out for a drink after a gruesome night class, leaving my gym clothes in my bag for that night. It wasn't going to kill me.  

I sometimes still have off days, but looking back at what I've been through I can definitely say that I am on the right track. On a healthy track.  And the added bonus is along the way I found something I really enjoy. 

And now that I know, I can finally tell you all why I run (spoiler alert: this is a 3 part series)...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Run, Run, Run As Fast as You Can: Part 1

I have a confession to make. This Monday, I officially start training for my very first half marathon. This may come as a surprise for some of you, because until recently I've had a rocky relationship with my own two feet. As I exuberantly dragged myself to the gym tonight at 7:00pm (post work, post night class, with little but dinner on the brain) I spent 55 long minutes staring out into the street (seriously, what kind of gym doesn't have TVs) wondering how on earth I got here? In the last handful of years I have not only struggled to develop this running habit, but, like most people at one point or another, I also found my relationship with exercise and weight a struggle. So while pounding the pavement (well, indoor pavement), I took myself back to my difficult start...

Oh, hey. It's me in a perfect world!
To really understand any of this long road to running (because yes, it feels just as long as all the miles under my belt), its important to understand where it all started. Enter, routine exercise. My relationship with exercise wasn't really routine until I headed to college. I was a one sport athlete throughout high school, which coupled with my high metabolism was pretty much enough to keep me in decent shape. Of course there were still plenty of things I could complain about, but my body was not bad. I was tall and lean. Upon entering college and hearing (and seeing for that matter) horror stories about freshman packing on the pounds, I knew that exercise would need to become a more regular part of my life. And this was fine with me. I glided into a routine that included roughly 30 minutes of cardio maybe 4 times a week. Eliptical, bike, stair climber, but rarely running. If I did it was a big deal. If you'd glanced over to me upon the completion of my 12:00 10:00 minute mile, you would have just thought I was the first Kenyan to cross the finish line at the NYC marathon. Proud. Exhausted. Spent. 

And just as fast as my routine became..well routine, it started playing with my head (wasn't that quick?). I can't exactly pinpoint when it happened, but my attitude towards exercise took a nasty turn. As my routine increased I felt a sense of competition. From my "gym buddies", who were still going at it when I thought my 45 minute workout was done. From the girl next to me, sweating it out almost double the time I had. I thought I was doing enough? 

So I started increasing. Suddenly 30 minutes wasn't enough, add 10 minutes on the treadmill..or better yet, add 20. Before I knew it I was up to a pretty regular 50-60 minutes of cardio each time I visited the gym. And why? The answer should be because it made me feel good. Because it was an accomplishment, and I was proud that I could stick it out. But it wasn't. It was because other girls were 10 pounds lighter than me, and they were sweating it out that long. Because suddenly if I wasn't committing 90 minutes to the gym, it wasn't a workout. At one point I honestly thought if I could only pop into the gym for a quick 30-40 minute workout it just wasn't worth it. Also, four days a week became a disappointment. Five was the new norm. Six was even better.

But looking back, I was setting myself up for failure. Because, as you may assume, trying to balance this crazy schedule on top of five classes, homework, tests, and work was a lot. Especially when you don't love it--when you're not doing it for the right reasons. It was disappointment and a guilt trip waiting to happen. Which is usually what it turned into. I couldn't be proud of what I'd accomplished because I immediately looked to what else I could have done. What someone else had found the time to do.... I couldn't accept that a little bit was better than nothing. It was physically and mentally exhausting, and reflecting on it now, probably not the healthiest lifestyle.

I'm not knocking a steady exercise routine. Or competition for that matter. But I had a lot to learn. And thankfully, a change in scenery the spring of my junior year prompted a  much needed change in attitude. A healthy change...

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Case of the I Love Yous

I would have to say, I consider myself a bit of a mushy person. Not that one way of expressing yourself is better than another, but I like letting people know how I feel whether it be my boyfriend, my friends or my family. I enjoy doing small things to show I care. To let others know they're on my mind. I'm the type of person, who in addition to receiving mail, loves sending mail.  I love sending my friends things that reminded me of them, and not saving it for a special occasion like their birthday or Christmas. I've also recently taken to making packages to send my boyfriend, well, just because. With all these feelings that I so generously flail about, I have, however, acquired a case of the I Love Yous.

Lets be straight. It's not like I'm throwing the I Love You out there without caution, but I've recently realized how frequently it makes an appearance in my day to day life. I'm not shy about saying it to friends, or my brothers and sister, or my parents. I just want all of them to know how important they are to me. Verbally. Often times, its not uncommon for me to end a conversation with my college roommate, my girlfriends, my siblings or obviously my parents, with a "Goodbye, love you" that just rolls off the tongue.  Its instinctual. 

Not that this should be taken the wrong way either. I value the, I Love You. My boyfriend is the first person that isn't family or isn't essentially family, who I've shared those words with. Because to me, they have value. And up to this point, no one else was quite deserving of them. But then my case of the I Love Yous emerged.  It goes something like this:

"Good Morning, I love you" , "Goodnight, I love you", "Drive safe, I love you", "Have a good shower, I love you", "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you."

But I own my excessive tendency. And I kind of, you guessed it, love it. I don't know about you, but now that I have found someone who I love more than I can quantify, I sometimes struggle to find a phrase bigger and better than I Love You. Don't get me wrong, for me, it is the absolute single greatest phrase to hear (besides "Those jeans make your butt look great" which also will never, EVER get old). But sometimes you want a bigger, more meaningful, grander way to express your love. You want to find new words, that let someone know that you love them more than I Love You. More than a million I Love Yous. More than any combination of words that already exist. 

While I search for the words, which will never do justice to the one I love, I borrow some of my favorite words from someone who said it better than I could. And today, on Valentines Day, I share it with all of you in hopes you can share it with someone you love more than I Love You:

"I love you also means I love you more than anyone loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that no one loves you, or has loved you, or will love you, and also, I love you in a way that I love no one else, and never have loved anyone else, and never will love anyone else."--- Jonathan Safran Foer

Friday, February 11, 2011


I believe it was the great poet of my youth, Britney Spears, who so eloquently shared with the world "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman.."

Ah, yes. This is where I do my soul searching too

........................Sorry I got lost in song there for a moment. Although I personally wouldn't quite express it in those same beautifully crafted words, I at times wonder where exactly I fit in in this mid-twenties range I find myself in. If you can't relate to being a teen anymore (mostly because... well, you're not), but you don't quite think you're an adult (as seen on TV), then whats left? A girl-woman? A man-child? A baby-lady? Ok stop, I kind of feel like I'm at the circus.. 

Personally, I think its just a layover in what I like to call, Inbetween-ie. Let me explain.

My first summer post-college graduation, I worked as a manager and most of my employees fell in the 15-19 year old range. Holy, reality check. I would definitely say that was the first time I felt old (insert older audience rolling their eyes at the 22 year old talking about being old). Ok, let me rephrase. This was the moment I realized I was not 18 anymore, because yes, a small portion of my eternal college freshman self, thought I was. Upon realizing this, I did some math. These kids, who in my mind were generally my same age, were in high school. Not that far back I'm thinking. Until I realized that I had completed high school (4 years...check), AND college (4 years...check). Somewhere in between moving the decimal place over and carrying the 2, I realized that we were not playing the same ballgame. Ouch. And what hurt the most wasn't realizing I wasn't 16 anymore (sorry kids, I do not envy you), but it was connecting the dots and figuring out where that left me. Logically, you're either an adult, or not an adult. A or B. Heads or tails. And minus my growing case of Bieber Fever (don't act like you don't feel the same way), I would say that by default I fit into the former.  But to me, adult is such an odd parents are adults. Adults have kids. And houses. And jobs. And bills. And real responsibilities. I'm a 22 year old student.

So where are you when you don't fit one or the other? When you're not pounding beers Thursday-Sunday, but you're not tucking your kids in at night? You my friend, are in the land of  Inbetween-ie (and the best part, no age discrimination here)! You're teetering holding on for dear life on the cusp of adulthood, but just aren't there. Or you don't think you are. 

Take me for example. I am kind of a walking adult contradiction. I've graduated college, but I'm still a student. I prepare my own meals, but at times in the microwave. I have a savings account, but it only contains $25. I'm productive on the weekends, but only in my sweatpants. I have a routine and a job, but whenever possible I roll out of bed at the last minute to get there (honestly, I can't believe that it's almost March and someone at work hasn't said to me "If you're not going to shower in the morning, please at least look like you did..."). Welcome to Inbetween-ie.  So when are you kicked out? Good question.  

It's funny, many times I've heard my parents say that aging may change the way you look, but you don't feel older. Both of my parents swear they internally feel the same as they did when they were mid-twenties. Yes, I'm sure the responsibilities and the demands of life increase, but if we really don't change that much then maybe Inbetween-ie is just a primer for Adulthood. Kind of a preview. Maybe Adulthood isn't as scary as it sounds, and it shouldn't be feared. Maybe its just a different form of Inbetween-ie with slightly different priorities and rewards. 

Maybe its not that bad. I might even be looking forward to meeting it in the future...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dinner For One

I have always had roommates. Loads of roommates. My last semester of college I lived with eight girls (and believe me, there are parts that I really miss). While studying abroad in Sydney, I lived in what I liked to call the poor man's Real World house. It was a structure that somehow managed to house 16 of us. I get what its like to have roommates, but when I moved to Philadelphia knowing no one, (and not wanting to end up the victim in Lifetime's "The Craigslist Killer") I kind of had no choice but to live alone. So this is my apartment. MINE, as in I share it with no one. 
Yes, those are my pants hanging to dry on the book shelf

Table for romantic
I've pretty much got all I need. Futon, (a futon, like mac & cheese in your pantry, always seems to scream "This couch-like structure (or food-like substance) is my attempt to be an adult, however, I'm far too poor to really be one") check. Plasma TV, check. Table with approximately two chairs (lets not go overboard here), check. I got a little bit fancy and sprung for a whole set of dishes, but lets be honest, lacking a dishwasher I basically use one plate, one glass, and one bowl. 

Some people may look at this picture and think it looks quite sad. One pair of shoes by the door, one book bag on the ground, one jacket in the closet (ok, now I'm just shamelessly lying to you...the number is slightly closer to five..ish). And I admit, sometimes I miss the company of roommates. But its a new experience. I'm also constantly reminded of something my mom told me when I wanted to get a job in high school.. "you'll be working for the rest of your life.." And that's kind of the approach I take with my living situation. Chances are that in the very immediate future, I will not be the only one living here (hint hint, wink wink). And if all goes as planned, that will pretty much squash my days of living alone. 

So instead, I look to the things I love about living in the company one. 

1. No line for the shower. I can't tell you how many times I have had to strategically plan out my day in order to come home to an unoccupied bathroom. Not to mention how crushing it felt when my plan was unexpectedly foiled.

2. Unlimited hot water. Glorious. Hot. Water. After sharing one bathroom with my six person family at home, hot water was not guaranteed. How early do you want to wake up for hot water? HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? Oddly enough, I faced this same struggle living with only two other girls..  

3. Remote, control. More bodies means more opinions. And I have a very solid TV schedule. The one down side I see to living with my boyfriend is I know that my Bravo and E! consumption will be severely cut. That or we will need more TVs than people living under one roof. Maybe living together isn't so important after all...

4. Sensory overload. My typical routine while cooking dinner? TV on mute, iTunes playing, both while usually talking or texting on the phone. I'm just taking a stab, but I can presume this may be too much for most roommates to handle without seizing.

5. Questionable attire. I have found myself on more than one occasion trudging with heavy feet to kitchen to get a pot of coffee brewing at the earth shattering hour of 7:00 am. My typical uniform? Hoodie, underwear, moccasins.

So instead of wallowing in the loneliness of my humble abode for one, I choose to look at the bright side. Because eventually (whenever that is) it won't be just me. And although I may have to tailor my living style to be more considerate of someone else, I know it won't all change. Because lets face it. Making coffee in my underwear, is just my basic freedom as an American....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sister, Sister

These last few weeks have been quite a challenge. As I have filled you in on the ins and outs of my long distance relationship, there were a few details that seemed to slip between the cracks. First, my boyfriend's geographic location is due to his job. He's a Navy guy (very technical term). Additionally, he is on a training exercise at the moment (or as I lovingly call it.. he's "out to sea", makes me feel very 1940s). Believe it or not, in the middle of the ocean there is no Skyping. Or texting. Or (rarely) calling. Email has been the one constant, and that's not even constant. It's going on two long weeks that I haven't heard his voice...and I've got at least another two to go. 

Being placed in this situation, its very easy to bitch complain. The things we rely so heavily on to make our relationship normal have been stripped. And its very difficult. Add to it that I am on HIS schedule, and given the slight opportunity to reach out to me and call, if I'm in class or not around...I miss it. Sorry, try again in two more weeks! But this isn't a post about bitching, because sometimes I have to take two steps back and realize its not all that bad. I think about other women. I think about women like my sister. 

On the surface, our personal lives have seemed to parallel one another recently. We are both in long distance relationships. Scratch that. We are both in long distance relationships, that have always been long distance relationships. We are both in relationships with military men, her boyfriend a Marine, mine in the Navy. My relationship, however, began at the conclusion of my boyfriend's service, while hers began at the very start. While I compare our journeys, I acknowledge that hers has been much more emotionally trying, and for that I commend her. 

I caught my boyfriend at the end of his six year commitment to the Navy. As I mentioned before, we have a very rough time line, with his exit scheduled for sometime this summer. Because of this, he will not have to deploy. This is what helps me sleep at night. My sister on the other hand, has survived an eleven month deployment while her boyfriend was sent to Afghanistan last year. On top of that, she is looking at another one in 2011. She is my reminder of a war that is still very real, and for that she is my superwoman.

Recently, she has opened up to me a little more about her relationship, and the struggles of a real military girlfriend. With each little bit I learn, I gather more admiration for what she goes through on a daily basis. She makes me very thankful for what I do have. I don't want that to come out wrong---what I mean is she brings me back to reality.

While we can relate in some ways and have been able to share more and more about our relationships with one another, I hope she knows that as hard as I try, I may never truly know what its like for her. And sometimes, that makes me sad. But there is plenty more I hope she knows. I hope she knows the adjectives I associate with her; strong, selfless, resilient, brave. I hope she knows that although she's been my big sister all my life, I look up to her now more than ever. I hope she knows how much credit she deserves. I hope she knows she's inspiring. But mostly, I hope she knows how proud I am of her. I hope she knows... 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sporty Road Less Traveled

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, I thought we should travel down a road that I like to call "the road to sporty"...

To say I missed the sporty gene is an understatement. What's a sporty gene, you ask? No, its not denim meant for athletic use, although I think with jeggings science is moving in that direction. They're extremely flexible. I'd work out in them...Oh wait, where was I? Sporty...right. The sporty gene basically encompasses all things sport related; being an athlete, team sports, being a fan, understanding sports, etc. As some sort of a genetic mutation, I was born without the sporty gene. And let me tell you, I am the total oddball in my family. I'm actually still piecing together the conspiracy theory which explains my adoption... Anyways--back to the sports.  

I grew up surrounded by sports. In addition to playing football in college, my dad was a football and baseball coach for the better part of 30 years. My mom, a maniac on the tennis court, goes a little mad come March and I believe her dying wish would be to attend a final four game (yawn).  My oldest brother, ran all through high school and is also the only true hockey fan in our family. Couple that with his wife and in-laws love for the Penguins and you've got yourself a couple that knows what they're talking about. My sister, a three sport high school athlete, can hold her own on Sundays spent watching football with the boys (unlike a certain person in the family) and I'm fairly certain she won her school's March Madness pool a few years back. Finally, my other brother, also a three sport athlete, would probably live without a major appendage if it meant the Eagles saw a Super Bowl in his lifetime.  Then there' 

Now don't get me wrong. I gave the sports game a shot, they just couldn't handle me. There was my 4 year swimming career, which to be honest was never a passion and more an attempt to find a way to exercise that didn't involve running. There was my t-ball career, which was halted by my love of daydreaming and dandelion picking in the outfield. I did give softball a go, until my freshman year of high school. I pretty much threw the towel in after I somehow turned into the team scorekeeper (true story, thanks for the emotional scars coaches). We had a good run. But I did contribute to the sport community in other charitable ways. There were the occasional baseball boyfriends, the waitressing at the ballpark (counts right?), the donning of fashionable sports gear, and the fact that I may not be able to tell you what sport a professional athlete plays, but I can most definitely tell you who they're dating or what they were just on Perez Hilton in the news for. 

Since moving to Philadelphia in August, I have been surrounded by genetically complete people (they're so annoying aren't they?). People who didn't miss said gene. My masters program is made up of a combination of sports & recreation kids and tourism & hospitality kids, so it has kind of forced my inner sporty spice out. 

I will still be paying more attention to the ads than the game, and I will still be more interested in the chicken wings and beer. Hey, that's just me. But I am making strides. I would even say there is hope for me. And if nothing else, I've mastered the sporty look...
At the Phillies game..

At the Flyers game..

At the Celtics game..

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Lesson in Geography

This is where my boyfriend lives:
Sippin' his Starbucks and hanging with the cast of Grey's Anatomy
This is where I live:
The City of Brotherly Cheese Steaks
Spoiler alert: there is not here. Yes, we are in a long distance relationship. Excuse me, that didn't come out right. We're in a looooooooooooooooooooooong distance relationship. So lets quantify long here (its a math lesson too, lucky you): 2,900 miles long. 47 hours in the car, long.  6 hours (on a good day) in an airplane, long. And according to Google maps, a 37 day and 10 hour walk, long. And believe me, I feel every mile of it. 

Many couples, some of you I presume, have found themselves in a long distance relationship at one point or another. But our situation is...unique, to say the least. Distance has been the "other woman" in our relationship from its conception, and let me tell you, it's getting a little crowded. 

Although my boyfriend and I grew up in the same hometown, our relationship didn't begin until last Christmas as a result of coincidence. Right place, right time I guess you could say (cue the romantic comedy...I'll be played by anyone but Drew Barrymore). After spending only 5 days together, and learning he lived in another universe Washington state, while I was spending my days in tropical Syracuse, NY, we left things very open. Like, WIDE open. We've talked about this many times since, and neither of us really expected to even continue talking let alone start up a relationship. I mean, what would be the use? It had heartbreak written all over it. Well, I guess we were both gluttons for punishment, because we never stopped. Everything happened very organically. There was no big talk about being exclusive (neither of us wanted to see anyone else), or when we really began dating (no anniversary here). In a weird way it was just understood. We spent months just talking. Skyping. Calling. I guess that was a blessing in disguise. We learned everything about one another. It's all we could do! Any sort of physical relationship was out of sight in the immediate future. We became the only person in each others lives. And then there it was... the black cloud over shiny new relationship. Oh yeah, those 2,900 miles.

At this point, I'd had experience in one other long distance relationship. A short long distance relationship (can you say 0-1?). During our brief stint, my former boyfriend and I were able to see each other about once a month, and all travel could be done via car. Man, if I only knew how good I had it. If I tried to see my boyfriend once a month now, I would have no kidneys or blood left. And that would probably only pay for my airfare until about ohhh, month 3.This new venture was a beast of its own. I couldn't wrap my head around it. When would we see each other? How would we make it work? What would I tell my friends?

It was May, almost four and a half months since Christmas, before my boyfriend was able to make the trip to Syracuse to see me. To see me for the first time since January 1st. I was such a jumble of emotions. Excited, but mostly nervous. Nervous that something would have changed. That what I had just poured all of my time and emotion into for close to half a year would be a big disappointment. That we wouldn't know how to act in person. Petrified we wouldn't know how to hold hands, or be a couple. But thankfully, it was the complete opposite..

Our relationship now is all about maintenance. Maintaining our commitment, our routine. Is it a struggle? Absolutely. Do I have bouts of frustration? Whoa is me moments? Envy for couples not separated by a sea of miles? Yes, yes......YES! If you would have told me a year and a half ago that I would basically be dating my web cam, and would have the pleasure of seeing my boyfriend every two months, I wouldn't know what to think. We are, however, lucky enough to have a time line, which takes a little of the sting out. This distance isn't forever.

So why do it all? For the same reason you do anything you love--you can't imagine what your life would be like NOT doing it. Challenges present themselves in all shapes and forms. This is my challenge. 

Ultimately it all comes down to this: if my choice is this, or nothing... I choose this everyday of the week (and twice on Sunday). 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Baby Gap

I am one of four children. The youngest. The caboose. The (ugh) BABY. Yep, I'm a 22 year old baby--and it's never going to change. I find that most people with siblings at one time or another struggle with their position on the totem pole. I have friends across the board; the eldests, who hate setting examples and testing the waters, the middles, who are sometimes lost in the shuffle amongst everyone else, but I have always personally have had a soft spot for the kids rounding out the bottom. The babies.  

My siblings and I are all two years apart. Do the math and you're looking at six years from top to bottom. Not bad when you're 36, 34, 32 and 30, I'm assuming, but growing up it felt much different. It felt like a big game of "catch up"... that WOULDN'T END!! Not to mention our house was like a perpetual episode of Survivor, one sibling being voted out leaving for college every two years. "The tribe has spoken, it's been 18 years now get your ass out of here." Through my tunnel vision, my brothers and sister were moving through life at what seemed like super sonic speed (and may I add, together). I constantly felt two thousand steps behind. 

I can't speak for all babies, but this baby was a little bit salty jealous about how infinite the age gap seemed. I remember being on family vacations, envious that my 16, 18 and 20 year old siblings could stay up late out by the beach, drinking beers and having a good time. I mean, I don't blame them... A) who in their right mind would give a 14 year old a beer (I wasn't that hard core) and B) we didn't have anything to talk about. I didn't get their humor, their jokes, their stories.

Did I also mention that all three of my siblings went to college together? Well sort of...My oldest brother and sister attended the same college, two years apart, but shared a decent number of mutual friends. My younger of the older brothers, followed my sister two years later at another college in the same city. Oldest brother stayed in said college town after graduating, which placed them all in the same city for roughly two-ish years . Were they all hanging out every weekend having a great time? Probably not. But it didn't matter to me. I was embarking on two years of living ALONE with my parents (a challenge none of them had had to endure at this point). But there were advantages. I developed relationships with my friends that were unparalleled. They were my family when my siblings weren't around. When I needed to escape the very tight confines of my home. And looking back, our relationships may not have grown the same had we not had that time. 

Maybe I was just hung up on what a brother-sister-brother-sister relationship was suppose to look like, but it felt like every time I got closer to the collective "them", they were one step ahead (case in point, I turn 18, start my first year of college and my brother has to go get MARRIED). I think at that point I just dove head first fell into the gap... 

So how does it all end? Well it doesn't...its more of a continuing saga. The gap will always exist, but now, its infinity seems more manageable. Turns out it was less a game of "catch up" and more a waiting game. The gap hasn't disappeared, but its slowly closing in. And what's really changed? We're still in different places. Maybe now more than ever. 28, 27, 24, 22. Pittsburgh, Maryland, Elmira, Philadelphia. A father, starting a family of his own, a teacher, eager to move wherever life (and love) take her next, a (near) graduate, ready for a fresh start, and a student, counting the days waiting for her life to really begin.   

So babies, this is my realization: I may never "catch up", but I feel like its finally an even playing field. And the best part? My siblings are finally, well, my friends..