Sunday, December 20, 2009

ain't no stoppin' church

i was a little concerned when i hadn't heard from anner this morning. i was getting ready for church, and thought maybe she had decided the blizzard ridden roads of b'more were too treacherous. i could have walked to church, i did every week when i lived here. but anner had to drive from the other side of the harbor. at 8:06am, she called, "i'm here. i'm early." of course. never doubt a girl from minnesota.

so we drove to church (after anner tried to push someone down the street by ramming their back bumper, per their request...) and found only one other person there. "guess we're not having church?" i said. "i just saw pastor, he said to go sit in the choir loft," said a woman i didn't know. and we did. maybe 20 of us in our jeans and boots walked (or squeeked, in my case) up the isle to the very front of the church, up to the choir pews, just right of the altar.

now, i have to say that this sanctuary is a special place for me. first, it's beautiful. the man that designed it was one of the 3 architects of the national cathedral, so... awesome. but it's also a place i used to have a key to when i lived here. i'd come to the church 30 minutes before our girls' book club every sunday night to get ready for the rest of the gang, sitting in the dark sanctuary, just me and the candlelight. it's a special place too because it's where, during one evening lenten service, i heard God speak into my heart: "feed My sheep..." the beginning of a call to ministry.

this morning it was special because we were just a handful of neighborhood peeps and two priest. no robes. no acolytes. we were the choir. pastor sabor, who hadn't practiced the organ since 1971, pecked out a couple of hymns. pastor fritas shared a beautiful sermon about mary's annunciation and God's knack for using ordinary people to bring Jesus to the world, something i think about often.

the whole experience was a welcome confirmation of being where i am now, and a reminder that this story i'm living is not a new one. it's a Great one.

pastor sabor put on a pot of coffee and pastor fritas tracked down some donuts so our gathering could tarry a bit longer. all in all, a beautiful morning. church at its blizzard best.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

13.1 thank you's

a while back i got this wild idea to run a half marathon (i think it started on the cruise with my girlfriends this summer, when i read an article about endurance training, and thought, huh... i've been training for things all year... but endurance... that's something new...) everyone kept telling me it's a mental challenge as much as a physical one. my girlfriend jocelita said, "maybe just think of a different person at every mile..." so i filed that little nugget away.

a month before the race, i made a list. i was going to run 13.1 miles, so i chose 13 people that had made the biggest impact on my first year in town. here's the run-down...
From 2009 Fall

mile 1: aimeesita. 7.48. this was my fastest mile (downhill and pumped up). aimeesita is so many things to me, but she is always my designated hug for the day. without her, i could go a whole week hugless!

mile 2: anniebananie. 8:47. anniebananie shares my office and therefore my craziness. she listens to me whether she wants to or not. sometimes she acts like my mom, but she never gets upset with me. love!

mile 3: chip dinero. 8:42. chip dinero is my mentor. he's been there for lots of up's and down's this year. i look up to him muchisimo.

mile 4: danimal. 9:12 (pace is slowing... uphill). not only did danimal introduce me to sweet pepper bear, but he also taught me to rake leaves and he manages my fantasy football team... which is winning. most generous guy i know!

mile 5: farrellita. 8:40. farrellita intimidated me when i first met her because she is so cool. now she, her hubby and her baby are like family to me. her back porch (with a glass of wine in my hand) is probably my favorite place in town.

mile 6: hi-mey. 9:24. i met hi-mey up at farrellita's cabin last spring. we hit it off immediately. i love him so much, i introduced him to the best girl i know. and he asked her to marry him. she said yes. and there was much rejoicing.

mile 7: jocelita. 9:13. jocelita is one of the biggest cheer leaders i know. she was biking all over the course on her stylin' yellow wheels, cheering peeps on left and right. she inspires me!

mile 8: juan. 9:12. juan is my boss. i often say i want to be like all the priests i work for when i grow up, but i especially want to be like juan. he's got more wisdom and insight than peeps twice his age. and he's a tree hugger.

mile 9: julia. 9:37. julia was one of my first real girlfriends here. she taught me to ride with clipless pedals, and was there for my first fall. she later told me she was hoping to be the mile that includes the toughest hill on the course, and she was... well... half way...

mile 10: latissimus. 9:55. my slowest mile on the course. in part because it included the other half of the toughest hill, but also because i had to stop and hug hi-mey and wave to anniebananie, who were waiting on the course, cheering for me. YES! latissimus introduced me to 1/3 of the peeps i know here, drove me around the first 3 car-less months i lived here, and then taught me to drive stick when i finally did buy a car. other than dating, he's pretty much awesome

mile 11: lindensita. 9:37. lindensita's stretch of the race was actually perfect, as it's the same stretch we "speed walked" the day i told her i wanted to be a priest. she was the first friend i told... the guinea pig. and she didn't freak out! linden gets the mountain girl in me.

mile 12: maria carolina. 9:52. mi amor, mc! this chica started the monday night girls' group that has become my sacred space each week. we have some crazy similarities, meaning she makes me feel understood in a way few people can.

mile 13: sloandawg. i don't know that i actually stopped my watch when i crossed the finish. sloandawg, i think, has put up with my very worst, and she's been there for some of my best moments too. she ran my first 10k and my first triathlon with me. she lets me repeat stories over and over, and she put up with the bulk of my culture shock when i moved here. i love her. she's also engaged to hi-mey.
From 2009 Fall

in the end, i finished the race in 2:00:11. my goal was to get as close to 2 hours as possible, so 11 seconds over is pretty stinkin' close! i was very pleased. and dad was standing at the finish line waiting for me with a great big hug. as were jocelita and jota.

jota is someone else i need to thank. he has made running fun, as has the whole running club.

sarita also gets a shout-out for biking all over the course to cheer me (and others) on!

lorita too, who could not be there, as she was cheering on her hubby in his first ironman race, but who coached me through every one of my long runs leading up to the race... she's one of my new favorite people. and her watch, which usually beeps at us when we run uphills, was beeping in my head, reminding me to slow up a little on those uphill stretches.

all in all, it was an epic day, i finally earned a real medal (YAY!!!), and we closed out the festivities with a dinner party for the 13 and their dates. thanks to chef dad.

thank you, thank you, thank you for all who encouraged me along the way, and especially for all who have made this town HOME to me.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

gay soap

i'm flirting with a new soap box... can't decide if i'm ready to actually "get on" it yet, i think i've been growing into the idea for years now.

it's the gay soap box.

here's the thing. i have these really amazing friends, and they are all really good people, and sometimes they say things that hurt my feelings, not because they are mean or bad, but because they are unaware. does that translate into an opportunity for awareness? maybe.

friends of lau, let it be known, talking about gay people as if they are a different species, or using the term "gay" in a negative way, hurts lau's feelings.

chalk it up to me being over-sensitive if you like. shoot, i feel over-sensitive every time someone says something is "gay"... like... "a guy with shaved legs is gay." (that might sound odd to you, but it comes up a lot in the cycling/swimming community...) really? gay? because my dad is gay, and he definitely doesn't shave his legs. in fact, i'm pretty sure that a much higher percentage of male swimmers or male cyclists shave their legs than do male homosexuals. so why is that "gay"??

and why do my male friends, when they want to assert their own manliness as being greater than another's manliness, do they say the other man is "gay"? are gay men not manly?

can you fix a car? fix things around the house? build things? work on a farm? be a good father? because my dad can. he may wear designer jeans and tight black t-shirts, but he's also one of the manliest men i know.

so last night i was hanging out with some friends, and they started making fun of another friend, who was at a gay party. lots of "gay" banter went back and forth, not all of it negative, but i felt uncomfortable. and again, i realize i could be over-sensitive about gay-talk, but i'm kinda the opposite of sensitive most of the time, so it's hard to know how to deal. i usually just remove myself from the situation, and that's what i did last night. i told my friends goodnight, and left the gathering, trying to wrap my head around my own emotions. i texted one of my friends to let him know why i left, fearing my exit was too abrupt, at which point he texted back, "oh gosh... VERY VERY sorry. we definitely didn't mean anything by it! more just ripping on "so-and-so"... we're a pretty open-minded group." now, i love this friend, and i know that he really did feel so bad about the situation, yet his response only frustrated me more. why is suggesting someone is gay the same as "ripping" on them? why does "gay" always imply something negative? furthermore, what my friend perceives as "open-minded," i perceive as my "new norm." it's not thinking outside the box, it's real life. it's not liberal, it just is.

and yet, it's not totally my "new norm" but one i'm still growing into. it's taking time. and by no means do i expect the world to "normalize" according to my reality. but i do think my friends love me. and i don't think they hurt my feelings on purpose. and i do think these situations create opportunities to increase awareness, respect, dignity and truth. so here i go, opening my big mouth, hoping you know it comes from my big heart, and i'm grateful for everyone and everything that has brought me to this moment BIG TIME.

Friday, October 30, 2009

one week away from 13.1

last week i ran 10 miles with the best running partner in the world, who i'll call lorena. sadly, for me (but lucky for her hubby!) she'll be gone next weekend when i'm running my first half marathon. but her hubby will be running his first ironman, so that's a much bigger deal, and, you know, they're married. sooo....

anyway, 10 miles last week was good. it was strangely hot and muggy, on a rainy october morning, so i did something i never thought i could around mile 7.5.... i took off my shirt. now, i'm not going to go running around in my sports bra all the time, it's still not how i roll, but i will say that loosing the shirt really gave me a second wind!

because lorena knew i had big plans for dancing my face off saturday night at julia's wedding, and she knew i was going to do so in high heals (which is almost as strange for me as running shirtless), she suggested i give my legs a little ice bath. we bought some ice (i still owe you $5 lorena!) and i went up to my bathroom. here goes nothing. filled up the tub with lukewarm water, poured in 10lbs of ice, squealed a little, but stuck it out for 10 min. i think the water should have been a little colder, but i think it helped.

then it was party time. and though i brought flip-flops to change into once i got my dance on, they stayed in my purse, while i kicked it in the high heals. who is this woman in my body?? so weird. still i had a blast.

till i woke up sunday morning, not with a hangover, but with the sorest left quad ever. i could barely walk down the stairs. i figured it would feel better monday, but no.

so what did i do?

i got a massage.

my first ever male-massage from some dude named byron with really big hands. it was a little weird at first. i had to bite the inside of my cheek for the first minute or two to keep from smiling or laughing, but big-hands-byron worked his magic, and i was much more mobile when i left. whew.

went to yoga tuesday, got my butt kicked, but still felt ok on the quad.

finally ran 5 miles thursday, and my quad was a-ok.

practiced yoga again today, and i think i'm set for another 10 miles tomorrow! then it's one short run next week, lots of rest, and BOOM, i'll be a half-marathoner on saturday! assuming i finish. that's my only real goal. would love to get as close to 2 hrs as possible, but finishing and having fun is much more important.

i'm pretty excited. i can't believe i have come to like, maybe even love, running. never say never.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

it's official

i just registered for my first half marathon.

i'd been putting it off, just in case... thinking i'd wimp out at some point. but the (sad) truth is (sad only because i'm proving myself wrong...) that i actually enjoy running now. 7 miles 2 weeks ago was hard. 8 miles a week ago was easy. 9 miles this week was fun. and even my little 5 mile runs on tuesdays and thursdays are getting faster and easier.

my peers have a lot to do with it. a few weeks ago i ran a 10k and came in 97th place. all my friends were TOP finishers. but because i had PR'd by 8 minutes (setting a new personal record that was waaaaay faster than my 10k in april) my friends cheered me on like i had won the whole thing. i felt like a champ.

and i'm meeting new people too. some girls i'd never met before are now running with me on tuesdays, which a) forces me to get out of bed, b) pushes my pace, and c) expands my social circles. my saturday running buddy is my favorite, though. she makes the time fly by!

so i'm super psyched for november 7. thinking i may even sign up for another in december. ridiculous.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

just a taste

i tend to live out loud. keeps me authentic. it's a lot easier to falsify aspects of life when you keep them hidden. so don't be shocked when i say on my blog (and thus on facebook) that i saw my therapist today.

i really love my rock star of a shrink, who i'll call juana. she helped me acclimate post-africa as i tried to remember my identity, and as i tried to re-learn emotions. i think she did a pretty good job. we met regularly last summer.

and we met once in january, in a moment of freaking out over how awkward my new dating relationship was, which ended shortly after. (no worries).

but i hadn't seen her since. it's not that i haven't had my ups and downs... i have. but i am a) extremely self aware, b) practical, and c) an external processor. meaning i walk into a counseling session knowing exactly how i feel, understanding why i feel that way, and i've likely processed it with several girlfriends.

the current downer: i'm lonely.

on one level, it's absolutely ridiculous. i have the most amazing friends, and lots of 'em. my social calendar is full. my work is fulfilling. life is balanced. life is good. God is great.

on another level, it makes perfect sense. there's an empty space, and it is what it is.

so when i told my boss i was in a funk (i mean, he's a priest, i can tell him anything)... he responded, "when's the last time you talked to juana?"

i said, "dude, i know why i'm lonely."

at which point he laughed and said, "oh, you do?"

"fine," i said.

and i called juana.

she pretty much said what i expected... i'm not in need of real "therapy" because it's ok to feel lonely. it's real. it's part of life. i'm aware, i'm balanced, i'm good to go.

but she did say one thing that kinda stood out... this little nugget will somehow help me cope... though i don't know how... i just know it will.

basically, i've opened myself up to loneliness. i've allowed myself to be open to love, i've put myself out there, i've been crushed and broken and hurt, but i've also opened a door that i could-not-would-not open this time last year.

in a sense, it's a good thing.

you know when you're not really hungry, but then somebody gives you a bite of a cookie, and then suddenly your stomach starts growling and you're like, 'when's dinner?!"

well that's where i am right now. i didn't know i was hungry. i had a little taste of something good, and now i'm eager for the main course.

i'm hungry, but not starving. lonely, but not desperate.

and somehow, that little juana-ism is like the sherbet they serve between courses... a pallet-cleanser of sorts. so i share it with you, free of charge. but i recommend you back it up with a strong dose of self-care if you feel you're in the same boat. laughter, prayer, exercise, acupuncture, short-term attainable goals, pedicures, mountains, dogs and best friends come to mind.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

zip-code aristocrazy

i went shopping monday (something i loathe, but it's a must 2 or 3 times a year). as i was checking out at one store the sales clerk asked for my zip-code. i was a little surprised at how sheepish i felt when responding "55522"... why?

it just so happens that i live in my fair city's most "aristocratic" zip-code. in fact, one particular cotillion group will only let your kids attend if you live in my zip-code. ridiculous.

so when giving out my zip-code, it's hard not to follow up with, "but i promise i'm not a snob... please don't judge me!"

which is funny... because for some, to be in a homeowner in my zip is to have arrived.

and then some could care less, i suppose.

me, i get a little embarrassed. not embarrassed enough to move.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

9 miles in 9 weeks

i really don't LOVE running. i put up with it, and i enjoy it at times (because i like anything outdoors) but it's not my favorite. still, i run.

and i was thinking i'd drop tri-training for the next 5 months and focus on yoga and weight training instead. i miss yoga! and it'd be especially helpful in this little process we call discernment (which i'll have to expound on later).

the thing is, though, the weather is so friggin' awesome right now. how can i be indoors?!?!

so i'm going to keep running. though i lack some motivation. what to do? create a goal. and that goal is: run a half marathon november 7.

yes, i know i only ever run 3 miles. and i did run 6 miles once in april, and it wasn't difficult to do, but i haven't run that far since. shoot, i've had no need to!

until now. now i have 9 weeks to add 9 miles to my run so i can run 12 miles.

oh, wait... i just googled half marathon distance and found it's actually 13.1 miles. so actually i have 9 weeks to add 10 miles... but 9 in 9 sounds better... so we'll just pretend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

tri number two

i completed my second triathlon last weekend, with the added bonus of my mom's presence. yay, #1 fan!! she took some pictures.

here's the run down.

i finished the 750 meter open water swim in 20:02. faster than my last tri time, but i still came in 14 out of 14 in my age category. i love swimming, but i'm really not that good at it. and i'm a lot worse when i'm traveling every other week. definitely some room for improvement. the best part of coming out of the water was seeing my mom and jocelyn cheering on the shore and realizing my best friend finished right beside me.

i picked up the pace on the bike. it was a short course, only 10 miles, so it's hard to tell how it compared to the last race (which had a longer, flatter course). i finished in 34:51, 7th out of 14. i felt good about it, even though i fell off my bike on the dismount. i can never remember if i'm supposed to dismount before or after the line! so i just tipped over. oops. too bad my mom didn't get a picture!

the run was a bear. super hilly. even my "elite" triathlete friends said it was a hard 3 miles. i finished it in 30:21. boo. but not terrible. good enough.

my transition times were faster this time around.

making my total time 1:28:43. i threw my arms up in triumph, hootin' and hollerin' as i crossed the finish. it was a really great day. thanks for being there, mom!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

outdoorsy girl

today i took some of my middle school kids to a theme park. three girls rode over in my car, singing to my adele cd.

suddenly, the girl in the front seat turned to me and said, “do you climb?”

“errr, yeah… i do like to climb, actually… why?”

“you just look like an outdoorsy kind of girl.”

“why is that?”

“your chocos, your watch, your climbing bracelet…”

“that bracelet is from africa. it’s not a climbing thing.”

one of the girls in the back, sporting mark jacobs sun glasses, piped in, “it’s true. you look outdoorsy. it’s not my look, but i think it’s cool.”

even after cutting 8 inches off my “hippie” hair, my kids seem to think i’ve still got some crunch.

costa rica

last week i went to costa rica with a group of 17 (11 kids, 6 adults) peeps from my church. we spent most of our time in san jose, the capital, working on the diocesan house (which is essentially home base for the regional episcopal churches).

it was a great time. we worked our tails off, plastering, sanding, sealing and painting walls, cleaning up our innumerable messes, gardening, and working (and playing) at hogar escuela, one of our pet projects. hogar escuela is a safe place for children to play and learn. it is a nursery, a school and an after school program. the children there typically live with their mothers, and know no father. if it weren’t for hogar escuela, these kids would be left to the streets during the day while their mothers worked to make ends meet. the streets are not a safe place to be.

hogar escuela started 45 years ago with only 6 families. several years ago, it was almost shut down, bankrupt and in ill repair. with a little help from the church and a lot of dedication from the families in san jose, hogar escuela is now one of the top ranked schools in costa rica (maybe the top ranked school?) and a favorite place for us to visit.

the episcopal diocese is about to build another school and daycare center like hogar escuela, just outside the worst slum in san jose, guarari. there, families live in corrugated tin lean-tos. most have come over illegally from nicaragua, where conditions are even worse. i look forward to returning to costa rica in years to come to see the school’s progress.

our lighter moments in costa rica were spent eating, drumming, singing, salsa dancing, watching the premier of harry potter, playing LOTS of games, zip-lining through trees, and chillin on the beach. we came home with stronger relationships, different perspectives, fun memories, inside jokes, new priorities, and a hunger for more of what God has to offer and asks us to offer of ourselves.


finally… the long awaited (and highly abbreviated) synopsis of our pilgrimage to ireland.

every year, as part of our 10th grade sunday school curriculum at church, a group of teenagers and teachers depart on pilgrimage together. it is a unique opportunity to leave the rhythms, rigors and routines of home behind. to come away, together, to a foreign land. to explore our surroundings and ourselves, and to draw closer to God and one another throughout our journey. it’s pretty awesome.

this year 37 young pilgrims and 6 slightly older pilgrims spent 10 days traveling around western ireland. you might think it’s impossible to have any kind of meaningful community with 43 people--i was definitely concerned. before i left for ireland, my boss (and head priest) asked what i was looking forward to most in leading this pilgrimage. having never lead a pilgrimage before, i told him i was looking forward to the things i knew i’d have no control over… the moments of grace. he said, “so… you’re basically excited about everything.” “yep,” i said, “i’m pretty psyched.” that was certainly the case with the community forged during our trip. it was nothing any of us could have controlled or planned for, and God’s grace was hugely evident as a result. again, pretty awesome.

so what did we do? we explored castles and forts. we walked around abbeys and cemeteries, thinking (and writing) about how we would want to be remembered. we hiked 4 miles along the cliffs of moher, mere inches from 800-foot drops to the rocky shore below, contemplating the sheer greatness of God, and how it makes us a little nervous and draws us closer all at once. we played golf (the monastery where we stayed had a pitch and put course). we bought loads of groceries and cooked meals for one other (iron chef style), we served and cleaned up after one other. we hiked up crough patrick, the second hardest climb i’ve ever done, in part because of the hail that rained down on us as we summated the slippery shale incline. we traveled to the smallest of the aran islands, a place called inisheer. we visited pubs and listened to irish music. some of our kids met up with local kids and went to an irish dance. we worshiped together in some really holy places, most memorable for me being kevin’s church, which is covered by sand every year, and every year dug out by the islanders on june 13. we shared ourselves in a way we will likely never share again, crying and laughing in spaces made safe by God’s presence. really, it was awesome.

i came home very exhausted, because really, it was a lot of work. but i also came home renewed, because really, it’s fun to watch God work.

Friday, July 10, 2009

not cool

i just wrote the longest post ever about ireland...
and then deleted it.
so not cool.

Monday, June 29, 2009

dr. no fun

i know i have lots of blogging to catch up on... ireland was awesome, and i'll get to it soon... it's just hard to keep up a blog when you don't have internet at home. i quit blogging at work when i left my government job :)

quick story though.

i went to the doctor last week for my annual physical, blood work and all (i hate needles... unless it's for acupuncture). i'm pretty healthy. my blood pressure couldn't have been better. i haven't seen my doctor since last year's appointment... no need to.

at some point she asked me, "are you working out?" i said yes. she asked, "what are you doing?"

i told her i was training for triathlons, swimming, biking and running every week.

her response? "are you lifting weights?"

"um... only during the winter..."

"well you really ought to be lifting weights. you need to build muscles to strengthen your bones and guard against osteoporosis."

since when does swimming, biking and running NOT build muscle? what?

then she asked if i smoke: no. drink caffeine: very little. drink alcohol: yes.

she said, "you really need to watch your alcohol intake as a woman to be sure you keep your calorie count down."

ok... first... do i look like i'm concerned about calories? did i mention i work out? and shouldn't you be more worried about the alcohol portion of the equation versus the calorie intake?

crazy talk.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

las solteras

i just got back from listening to the symphony at an outdoor amphitheater with half the city, including 3 of my lovely girlfriends. it was pretty much awesome. a "country" theme, with several singalong tunes. but even more awesome was the drama that one likely encounters as a single girl in the city.

here's juanita's story.

(don't you just love how i hispanify all my names??)

so there we were, the 4 of us, sitting on a darling white table cloth with blue trim and yellow fruit accents (pears, maybe)... sipping wine from our lovely picnic basket that sloan dawg brought along (don't know how to hispanify that name, but as a sidebar, sloan dawg and i met at one of these outdoor symphonies last year! aw, our little anniversary party...) when juanita noticed that her ex-boyfriend's wife was sitting RIGHT next to us.

this was pretty much a non-issue till the ex's daughter noticed juanita, screamed with delight, and proceeded to talk excitedly for 5 minutes... clearly STOKED to run into her dad's former love.

mmm, see, the daughter is in high school.

because the ex is 55.

juanita is not 55.

after the show, the ex-wife walked up to us, understandably curious about the previous conversation and her daughter's connection to some stranger.

she asked if we attended the same high school.

mmm... yeah. 3 of the 4 of us are in our 30's. and 4 of the 4 of us were sipping wine. so, no. not high school buddies.

juanita gracefully stated she was a friend of the ex. at which point the ex-wife says, "oh, you didn't date him, did you????!!!!" (clearly expecting a "no" response). juanita cannot tell a lie, so she sat there, mouth slightly open, searching for the right response... "um, it was a long time ago..." meanwhile, the horrified daughter shouted, "MOM!!!!"

oh well.

we (the girls, not the ex-wife) talked about the inconvenience of age differences. if only 55 were just a number. but it's not. it's got implications. bummer.

10 minutes later, some dude, some young dude, walked up to talk to us. too young. he gaped in disbelief to find he was 10 years younger than his target. he carded her to be sure. but as previously stated, juanita can only speak the truth. ah, the numbers game again.

in the end, juanita went home to her loyal loving dog, a tad short on drama. happy ending? it's fuzzy math.

regardless, it was a good girls' night out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

pepper: an update on awesomeness

i just want to say that i love my dog.

she usually sleeps on her bed, down by the foot of my bed (so i won't step on her in the morning)... but last night she dragged her bed to be right up next to me. little girl warms my heart!

most nights she gets up very quietly, puts her wet nose up to mine, just to make sure i'm still there and breathing, and then goes back to lay down.

life with a dog is the best.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

one more triathlete geek

From 2009 Spring
well it's official. i'm what you might call a "triathlete." or at least i've completed my first triathlon, and it was fun! it all started about a year ago when i first moved to the area. one of my first friends was getting ready to run his first ironman triathlon, which is a little ridiculous, but it turns out there's a whole slew of people that do that kind of thing here and like it.

i swore off the stuff. i love these peeps, but they're a little ocd about training, and i knew i'd never be in their league.

but then one of my girlfriends did her first tri last fall, and kept talking about how FUN it was... so i caved and started training in january.

now, i use the term "training" a lot more loosely than my tri geek buddies. i do swim, bike and run every week... sometimes 2 or 3 things in one day. but i don't get up at 6am every saturday to go on 80 mile rides! ain't my thing.

sunday was the big day. my girlfriend and i got up at the crack of dawn, careful not to wake all our house mates (we were lucky enough to crash with our friends and their families at the beach... we had thought we might just have to pitch a tent near the race!) we arrived, picked up our race packets and chips, got "body marked" with our race numbers, and made our way to the transition area to set up all our gear. we were reeeeeeally excited. after lots of walking back and forth and making last minute adjustments, we took off our shoes and headed to the lake.

we were the 5th wave of swimmers (second wave of women), so we just stood in the warm (79.2F) water while watching others swim ahead. before our wave started racing, i saw two bodies emerge from the water and run down the dock... my buddies... some of the ocd crew. i was excited for them.

then it was our turn! in a made rush of water and slapping and kicking and splashing, we collectively made our way out into the lake along the race course. the first 100 meters are the worst. everyone is just swimming on top of each other, and it's awful. but it's not so bad after we all spread out. this was my first "open water" swim, so i wasn't used to having to look up for markers and trying to swim straight. sooo much easier in the pool. 750 meters and 23 minutes later, i too was out of the water and running down the dock. people were cheering... i couldn't help but laugh!

in the transition area i threw on my socks, cycling shoes, helmet and sun glasses, grabbed my bike, ran out, clipped in and started pedaling. and pedaling. and pedaling. it was a kinda boring ride, and honestly, i didn't ride it fast enough. i kept thinking i should save steam for the run, knowing that would be the hardest part (have you ever tried running after riding? it's not easy!) so i dismounted at 48 minutes after riding 14 miles. 2 down, one to go.

i threw my bike back on the rack, took off my cycling shoes and helmet, put on my running shoes and hat... and as i was clipping on my racing belt (that holds your race number) i heard one of my friends yell, "get out of here, lau! stop taking so long! GO!" i looked up, startled, and took off running.

the running, in terms of terrain, was more boring than the ride... but it was fun in that i ran into (or past) 3 of my friends, and we cheered each other on. as i rounded the last corner before the finish line, really hitting my stride, i saw two friends yelling, "kick it in! you got it!!!" so i kicked it in. 29 minute 5k. not fast, but not bad after everything else... bringing my total time to 1hr 45min. whew!

i grabbed a water and made my way back to the finish line to cheer in my girlfriend. we hugged, we laughed, we felt like rock stars.

and that was it! i'm now a triathlete! i've been thinking of how to change up my training and racing ever since, but i'm still swearing off the ocd scene. i haven't even worked out since sunday! and that takes effort. but the game is back on tomorrow... and the next race is in july. sweet.

Monday, May 04, 2009

boys' beach trip... what the...?

i had the absolute pleasure of taking 9 middle school boys to the beach this weekend. we stayed at a place with revolution era forts, great for hide & seek. we only spent about an hour on the beach because the boys were just playing so hard the whole time. basketball all morning, fort running after lunch, mini-golf in the afternoon, dune jumping (i had a hard time not joining in on that one, but i kept reminding myself that my knees aren't as young as theirs, and i've got a big race next weekend), and then a little beach time before clean-up and dinner.
all the things that you might expect to have on a all-boys weekend did.

1) the church bus wouldn't start. luckily a mom lent me her minivan for the weekend.

2) one of the boys caught something in his eye, which continued to irritate him all day, so we took a little trip to the ER after dinner. he left with an eye patch, thus nick-named "patchy" the rest of the weekend.

3) while at the ER, the other 8 boys, bored out of their minds, started throwing rocks. the police had to give them a little pep talk as a result. oops.

perhaps the worst thing that happened, though, was MY fault. as i was following the GPS in my borrowed minivan, i turned down a dead-end road by accident. upon realizing my mistake, i whispered, "dead end? what the f!" really, i said the letter 'f' and did not use the word, but it was implied. and the boys immediately heard me (despite the blasting music and shouts of laughter as they threw playing cards and sour patch kids at each other) and gasped, collectively.

the favorite phrase for the rest of the weekend, was, of course, "what the f?!"

great. GRRRREAT.

glad i could be a shining paragon of upstanding christianly behavior.

surely Jesus cussed when he stubbed his toe?!?!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

rules shmules

you know, i really don't want this to become some blog about my dating life, or lack thereof... i mean, that's slightly petty to publish, right? but i'm in the midst of a dilemma, so i'm going to process via writing. forgive me.

let me interrupt my train of thought by saying there is nothing funnier than watching a big dog chase a tennis ball around the house on hard wood floors. thank God for pepper.

anyway, i've had a list of dating rules the past several years. a set of criteria for men to live up to in order for me to consider dating them. really, there are 4 plus 2 rules. like a bonus round.

1. most importantly... the guy has to love God. i've tried it otherwise, and it just never works. i have plenty of friends that this doesn't apply to, but for whatever reason, dating is different.

2. he's got to laugh. at himself, at me, at life... etc.

3. he's got to be intelligent, preferably in a challenging way. not just some rocket scientist i can't talk to.

4. he's got to be well traveled... preferably having lived in another country, but i realize that's asking a lot.

and then the "plus 2..."

a) i won't date a guy closer to my mom's age than my own (she is a young thing!)

b) i won't date potential. that's a toughy, b/c there's always potential, but you got to date what's real now.

now... some friends take issue with the well traveled thing. what if the guy has a desire to travel but just hasn't been able to? can't really hold that against him, right? and some friends have an issue with the God thing. is it enough if he just respects your religion? or if he's spiritual? what if he does yoga? and some think you have to chose either travel or faith... that the two don't mix... but then i am positive i'm not some freak of nature, and there've got to be at least 5 thousand other peeps in the world that love God and travel just like me.

but this weekend i was thinking... are all these rules just an effort to be in control? i mean, what's the fun in some pre-packaged man? i certainly wouldn't want anyone to put ME in a box! so i thought i'd just get rid of my rules. get out of the way of God's sense of humor, you know?

but standards are a good thing, right?

what's the difference?

i figure it's better to ask these questions while i'm single.

i'm just thinkin' out loud here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

pepper bear beware

i have entered into a long term relationship, which i'm quite clueless about, but i'm learning every day. pepper, or pepper bear, as i like to call her, is 60+ pounds of fur, love, play and affection. here's a lovely picture of her, taken by my photographer friend lain.pepper is a 17 month old shepherd/lab mix, pretty much perfect in every way. except when she barks. she's scared of men after being rescued from a not-very-nice one. i guess it's good, in that NO man would ever try to cross me with pep by my side... they'd never guess that she's actually a big sissy, and she would hide behind me cowering if pursued. i love her.

pep had an unfortunate run-in at the dog park last week. she was off her leash, chasing after squirrels, turning her head and smiling at me every time she treed one... when one blue healer dog came up and started humping her. now, pep and i had actually met this dog the day before at the vet... and the dog had humped her then too... but the dog's owner (an old man) apologized and said he was getting his dog fixed soon. at the dog park, however, the old man was 30 yards away, talking to some young lady on a bench, completely ignoring his uncontrollable pup. i didn't know what to do. i felt helpless! i said, "no!" but i was afraid to yell at someone else's dog, so it wasn't very convincing. after a bit, the humping dog ran away, and i noticed a little something on pepper's back. slobber? nnnno. sticky goo? yes. gross.

i felt violated. i'm not sure how pepper felt, but she was a little weird when i tried to put her collar back on to go home. so we walked around the block before jumping in the car, going home, and getting hosed down outside. my first try at bathing pepper.

dogs like that (uncontrollable, non-fixed humpers) should not be allowed in dog parks. luckily pepper has a great support group, and all her people and puppy friends have made a point to give her extra love and encouragement this past week. especially her auntie sloan and uncle dan. i think she's moved on.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

warning: this blog entry contains "adult" material not suitable for children

one of the pros of taking time of blogging: only the die hard readers remain. and i think that pool of people can probably handle the following.

as you might know, one of the highlights of my work in youth ministry is talking to kids about sex. i mean that. i've never left a sex talk thinking, 'that was boring...' or, 'i wish i spent more time at my desk, preferably wearing a suit and heals.' no, sex talks are always challenging, always enlightening, and always very real. and i get to wear a t-shirt and flip-flops. can't beat that.

the 9th grade sex talks were especially good this year. i think we just got off on the right foot... there was a power outage at our first meeting, so we had the entire discussion about "angels and animals" by candlelight. mmmm hmmm. way to set the mood.

but the last 9th grade talk is what assured me that we had accomplished at least one of our objectives: letting kids know that church is a safe place to talk about sex.

here's what happened...

we were talking about ways to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically in relationships.

"how do we stay physically healthy?"

"eat right and exercise."

"ok... and in relationships? and sexual relationships?

one guy raises his hand, "uh, use contraceptives?"

"actually, contraceptives just keep you from getting pregnant... they don't actually keep you from getting sick. the birth control pill is one example of a contraceptive. can somebody give me another?"

same guy says, "pulling out?"

"huh, well, yeah, there's that. definitely NOT the most reliable method..."

another guy interrupts, "wait... what exactly is the pull out method? i mean, i can kinda use my imagination, but..."

"sure. no worries. it's when the guy pulls his penis out of the woman's vagina before he ejaculates. really not a good method AT ALL."

"that's pretty much what i imagined."

see what i mean? mission accomplished. i promise there were much more meaningful learning moments throughout the night... and year, really... but this at least shows the kids are comfortable. whew. time to start planning next year.

Friday, April 10, 2009

it's not what you think, but it is funny

my recent facebook status states that i'm bored out of my gourd. a true statement, but somewhat silly, given all that i could be doing. running, swimming, biking, paying taxes, baking a cake... but it's a long weekend... i don't want to take care of the mundane. i want adventure! why didn't i make plans to leave town? go camping? *sigh*

so, as my girlfriend crissy suggested, i'll update my blog.

in my previous post about bubba buffalo, "s" notes in her comment that i seem occupied since new years... she seems to suggest i'm preoccupied with, i dunno, a boy.

no, dear readers, it just ain't so. as much as i'd love to report that i'm in the throws of love in all its radiance... that i'm all aglow with a spring in my step and a song in my heart... nnnno. the only body that keeps me warm at night is my teddy bear and my new dog pepper (who i'll write about later... she is my best source of unconditional love and wet kisses, for sure).

that said, i have entered the dating scene. it seems impossible not to when many of your friends are married. rule of thumb: couples like other couples. and if you're not a couple, and you're friends with other couples, you can bet they'll try to make you a couple real quick. not that i mind... i am definitely not complaining.

so here's a set up story i'll share, because it is so entertaining, and because i know the implicated parties would not object. at least i don't think they would.

two married friends, andré and julia, asked if they could set me up with guillermo weeks ago. at first i objected (as did he, i'm told), but finally did succumb to their excited suggestions. guillermo and i had never met, though i facebook stalked him thoroughly, since he had no security on his profile page. a given.

the four of us met for dinner. super great time... easy conversation... lots of laughing... and then i said something about my dad being an interior designer.

"and yes," i added, "he's gay."

"no way!" exclaimed guillermo, "my dad is too!"

"i'm not being funny!" i retorted, "my dad really IS gay!"

"no, it IS funny," guillermo insisted, "because my dad really IS gay too... AND he's a gynecologist!"

well that did it. i finally met a man who could one up me. we may have to start a club.

happy crissy? :)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

bubba buffalo for president

my brothers are awesome. both of them. this story is about my baby brother pierce.

he's been campaigning to become the next student body president of hampden sydney college lately. he mentioned he might run when we were in argentina for new years, but he was slightly hesitant--knowing it would be a lot of work, because he'd be the type of president to actually DO something.

i suppose something needed to be done.

and pierce heard that call.

his posters said, "i'm pickin' up what you're puttin' down."


pierce spoke with a lot of student groups on campus. maybe ALL of them. last week he spoke to the gay/straight alliance. they started their meeting by sharing their porn star names... which, as everyone knows, consists of a pet's name and your street name. who didn't have a porn star name in high school?

so what was pierce's?

bubba buffalo.

and as such, he's just been elected president. bubba would be proud, God rest his soul. congrats pierce! and congrats hampden sydney! you picked a good'n.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

chicken dance and treadmills

last year i wrote about how surreal it was to listen to music from home against the backdrop of bustling benin, west africa.

now the opposite is true... when an african song starts playing on my shuffle as i fight with the treadmill (i can't wait for sunnier mornings and outside runs!)

it's happened before. i can't help but smile at the music, thinking of outdoor market scenes and sandy toes. but today it took everything in me not to jump off the treadmill and start gyrating... struttin' my african dance moves. oh, how the heads would turn! how can you NOT dance to that music?!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

that settles it

in the past week, i have come to realize... i've settled. i've been here less than a year, but this is definitely my town, my house is definitely my home, and my friends are true friends... not just on loan.

i think hosting the 5th annual (1st one here) wine and cheese party last friday sealed the deal. i had to (finally) unpack the last few boxes that had been living in various corners for months. i (finally) took all the empty boxes lying around up to the attic. i finished hanging pictures, many from once familiar, now distant, sites in africa. i even hung up my "mali mud cloth" that i'd been waiting to collect from rhett in dc, but finally caved and asked him to send it to me. my house looks like a museum of artifacts from all over. add to that the very grown up grass rug, leather dining chairs and real (versus hand-me-down) sofa i just obtained (it's my new form of investments... buy furniture i'll keep forever while the stock market struggles). it's all very adult and not temporary and slightly contrary to my nature.

and it's becoming my town too. i know people everywhere... the movie theater, grocery store, waiters recognize me and say hello. it's a little different from knowing all the bouncers and bar tenders in baltimore. 30 people were crammed in my kitchen friday night (the living and dining rooms were much less popular), and 30 more couldn't make it (out of town for the long weekend). how did this happen? in 8 months? less than 4 seasons?

makes me look forward to what this next season, spring, will bring.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


i have moved to a city that knows NOTHING about snow.

they are paralyzed by it.

they get all up in a tizzy just THINKING about it!

i woke up this morning... didn't even notice the snow outside my window. why? because there wasn't much! when i finally did notice a dusting on the ground, i walked out to turn on my car and let the little bit of snow on the windshield melt off while i changed into my gym clothes.

i didn't even have to get out the windshield scraper. i don't even know where my handy scraper is... because it's NOT NECESSARY here!

i drove to the gym, walked into spin class, and was immediately asked if i was teaching. apparently all instructors are told not to come in any day that the county schools close for snow. my face contorted in shock as i screamed, "they canceled school today?!?!?!" oh yes. they did.

so spin class was canceled.

lucky for me, i brought my trusty swimsuit along... so i hit the pool. 1000 yards into my swim, a life guard pelted me with a foam thingy in the head. "pool is closing. you have to leave." what? seems the next lifeguard on duty couldn't brave the 3 snowflakes in his driveway to come to work.

i went home. i fixed a protein shake. i got a call from my boss... the church had canceled all activities scheduled for wednesday, including youth group tonight. never mind that the sun is shining brightly, melting even imaginary snow away.

the up-side to all this is that i get a night off. i haven't had a free night in... 3 weeks? and though i'm dogsitting, and won't actually be staying in my home, i'm looking forward to a very chill night of addressing valentines, watching tv, and cuddling with spike and stella (the dogs).

Thursday, January 29, 2009


i recently received two emails regarding the current dearth of blogging.

the first said, "things must be going well with the boy... no recent blogging. your fans miss you."

mmm... you could say that... but, fans?

the second said, "i’m just hoping everything is okay with you. you haven’t been blogging since you got back from your trip after christmas, and i just was 'motherly' worried."

no need to worry. all is well.

anyway, the truth is, i've been slow on the blog circuit for a while now... boy or no boy. but i'll see what i can muster up, given the encouraging nudges here and there.

so here's a little piece of news. i went skiing with 94 middle school kids and 11 other chaperons last weekend. it was amazing. well, not the skiing... the skiing was typical eastern slush... but the kids were amazing. not one got hurt. not even their feelings got hurt! 94 pubescent kids living in harmony. amazing. ok, one kid did break his arm. but he didn't find out till he returned, so i'm not sure that counts.
From 2008-09 Winter
pictured are me, sloan, jane and liza... with our carolina blue bandannas and matching carolina blue eyes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

ringing in the new year

pierce, pablo, cou and i spent new year´s eve with cou´s family. well, first we went to pablo´s parents´ house, met his family, then went to his grandparents´ house, met more family, ate some sushi (pablo is japanese), and then made our way to ernesto and luisa´s (cou´s family) where we met up with aunts and cousins that i hadn´t seen in years. we enjoyed a delicious meal of maybe 5 different salads, canelones (the same meal luisa made for me my first night in argentina 11 years ago), and a platter full of sweets. as the clock struck 12, we each ate 12 white raisins while making 3 wishes, a tradition luisa´s family brought over from spain.
then the fire works started. explosions sounded from every direction, so we ran to the back yard to watch... and light a few of our own. i´m not talking little wussy roman candles or sparklers. i´m talking HUGE fireworks of green, purple, red and gold! i cackled like all get out, knowing i could never play with such explosives back home. so fun! globos also filled the sky... miniature hot air balloons like slow motion shooting stars. it was a beautiful night.
the next day we went back to cou´s parents´ place for an asado, which is like a cook out, but to the nth degree. chorizo (spicey sausage), ribs, steak, morcilla (blood sausage) and chicken. and that´s just what we ate on new year´s day! pierce and i have also sampled liver, kidney, tongue, brains, intestines. so much meat. so delicious. so fun.