Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The (first) 5K

Source: Sign website

So this past weekend (June 19th), my sister and I ran my first 5K together.  For those of us NOT in the metric system (tiny minority of the world, but probably the majority of my readers), that's the equivalent of about 3 miles.  Now this wasn't the first time I'd run 3 miles, nor was it the first 5K that I had wanted to run.  It's just the first official 5K I've ever completed.

You see, I was never much of a runner (or an athlete for that matter).  I was always the brainy (read: nerdy and uncoordinated) type as a child.  More than running or playing outside I preferred reading or crafting.  Quiet, indoor, and preferably sedentary activities.  My sister and friends would be running and playing tag or hide-and-seek, but I really preferred watching from afar: putting together my new K'Nex set or reading from my ChildCraft Children's Encyclopedias (I kid you not-those books were AMAZING).  Anyway, more to the point, I was just very inactive.

We lived on a hill, and my driveway was a hill; I never learned to ride a bike.  Still don't know how to ride a bike.  I walked a block to my elementary school and then was always driven to my middle school.  Not being from a traditional "American" family, my parents never thought to sign me up for Little League or Junior Cheerleading or anything like that.  I'm sure if I had professed an interest in soccer or softball they would've supported me, but I just never did.  I was not much of a fan for sweating or getting dirty.

My middle school gym teacher told me I was "as sharp as a marble" when it came to picking up sports and games.  My high school gym teacher told me to move once in a while so as not to "kill the grass."  I even had a gym teacher who BRIBED me to run the mile.  If I didn't walk at least ONE lap and came in under 13 minutes he would wear his earring to our class one day (this was after a friend and I realized the small dimple in his ear was not a mole but an empty piercing).

Anyway, I guess the first time I really got into running was my junior year in college.  One of my closest friends was on the track team at school and I decided this would be a good way for me to get in shape and start enjoying everything Duke had to offer.  My roommate that year was a runner (she ran to stay in shape) and so I got started.  To be honest my first run was to blow off steam and stop myself from puking all over the place.  I had just learned that my college ex had hooked up with someone new and was feeling the waves of nausea that I now understood lay under his rage and hurt when I had moved on several months earlier.

I put my sneakers on, my roommate actually asked where I was going, it was around 7pm at night.  I told her I was running to East Campus and back (about 4 miles roundtrip).  As soon as I stepped foot outside my dorm, it started to drizzle.  Somehow it seemed poignant and "right."  I started to run.  It rained harder.  I only got to the Freeman Center on Campus Drive before turning around but still ran a good 2.5 miles that night.  And that was the beginning.

I loved the feeling of running.  It was so primal.  So physical.  I felt the road beneath my feet.  I felt the pebbles beneath the feet.  And Duke was so perfect for running.  Not only were there so many quads and the three campuses, East Campus had a gravel running loop, the golf course had a trail around it in the Duke Forest, the gym was beautiful and well-equipped.  Running was convenient at Duke.  It was at Duke that I first decided to run a 5K.  I was regularly running the Duke golf course trail (about a 2.9 mile loop).  Although if you count the distance from my dorm to the trail and back it was easily over 3 miles.  In the Durham heat.  So I figured a 5K was no biggie.

I talked my new roommate (a former swimmer and lifeguard) to run it with me.  I had been convincing her to join me on my indoor runs on the track suspended above the basketball courts in the gym.  She agreed.  I was really excited.  This was a 5K for a children's charity and it was going to be around Duke's campus.  I woke up the week before the 5K and headed out for brunch with a few friends... I noticed there were water tables on campus and arrows and signs for the 5K I had wanted to run... I had misremembered the date of the 5K.  It was already over that day and I had been too hungover and sleepy to even notice the runners on campus.  GIANT. FAIL.

After that, I don't think I ever really wanted to do a 5K again.  If I brought up the subject, I was promptly reminded of that time I was too collegey (re: drunk) to run a 5K and then laughed at.  However, this year shortly after my birthday, I decided to run a marathon.  I figured a) I always said I wanted to but why not actually do it this year, and b) it's about time I commit to something tough and actually follow through.  Completely fortuitously, this little fact came out during a study session with a classmate.  He had run 3 marathons previously and was training for one this coming fall (when I had planned to run).  He shared helpful tips and wonderful advice.

A few weeks later he forwarded me an email (running newsletter) that somehow got me to a website for the RunaMuck 5K.  It sounded like SO much fun that I forwarded the event to my sister and asked if she was interested (sister was a 3 season varsity runner for all 4 years of high school and ran the Boston Marathon in 2008).  We signed up and waited ... I got cold feet and wanted to back out ... she wouldn't let me... And that's how I found myself at the Registration table in Harriman State Park on a beautiful June morning.

To cut myself off - that race has been one of the MOST fun events in my life.  It was tough, I'm not going to lie.  Even though I started regularly running about 6 weeks ago, I had never really run on terrain (up and downhill, on a random trail, over rocks and dry leaves) not to mention the random obstacles that the 5K is known for (including 3 separate mud pits, a bungee maze, 2 balance beam walks over rocks, mini-climbing wall, hurdles, and a walk through the lake).  It was tough, but in the end I felt great - accomplished for actually showing up and for finishing.

Need to edit and there's so much more to say but I have to wake up at 6:30 to babysit two raucous 10 year old boys for over 12 hours, so this'll have to do for now...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The First (Push)

I never wanted to blog about boys.  Not really.  I always figured that stuff was supposed to be private.  And SJP had done it up in Sex and the City and I really never wanted to be a cliche or a sad wannabe.  But, here I am.  25 and single and seriously revisiting my previous relationships and behavior and how I got here.

In some ways I feel like I "wised up" in reverse.  I was so good at protecting myself, my head, and my heart when I was younger.  I'd always let the guy pursue me, date him for a bit, and then break it off before he or I got too bored.  I'd always have some new guy waiting in the wings, too.  Nothing serious, but just another guy I had been "talking to" for a bit and knew was interested.  It helped soften the little lonely periods that follow any breakup.  This is apparently the way you are "supposed" to do it.  (According to experts and my more successful and suave lady friends).  But as the years passed by I started buying into Hollywood's movie chick-flick rom-com brainwashing and started to think I had to give every passing John, Dick, and Harry my 110%.  Love doesn't have a chance unless/until I give it one, right?  So I'd better give every single heterosexual dude out there a chance... Or so it seems that's what I thought.

Anyway, in all those years of skepticism, and even now, it seems I've held fast to one (bad) habit: pushing guys away.  Looking back, it seems that pushing the guy away was my ulterior motive.  I guess despite all my ideal romanticizing, I never really stopped doubting.  I never fully believed that another person would or could love me, all of me, and so I pushed, I would push and push until finally, the guy would just walk away - just give up and leave.

In retrospect, it gets easier to forgive the guy and easier to be hard on myself.  There was my college boyfriend, A2.  I was A2's first everything.  And maybe that's part (or most) of the reason why, but really - this guy just would not quit.  Maybe, if I hadn't been so difficult, maybe he would've been the one to stick around and love me.

Now this is all just silly talk.  We were too different to ever really be compatible.  And my annoying habits were his pet peeves and vice versa.  And honestly both of us were too selfish for it to ever last in the long run (like when real sacrifices would be involved - moving for jobs, grad school, etc.).  In fact, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did (although not surprised at the lack of stability in the relationship).

Nonetheless, I don't mind giving credit where it's due.  Despite his selfishness, despite his pride, despite his short temper, he really tried to give me, to give "us," a shot.  The way the relationship started off had been a bit shaky - pretty much with me giving him an ultimatum: make it official or I'm hooking up with that cute blond in my dorm.  And perhaps because of that, I never felt fully comfortable, fully secure in feeling that A2 really liked me.

Unfortunately, the result of that insecurity was my acting out, my pushing him away - just to see how far I could push before he left.  And to his credit, he came back.  So often, and after such strong pushes, he always came back.  (Clearly, there was a point when he didn't - but that's a story for another time).  If I could I would apologize to him (would I?)... OK, maybe I would theoretically apologize.  Like here.  For being such a child, such a baby.  Granted, I was 18 at the time and finding my way in the world, but I was impulsive, dramatic, hyperbolic, emotional, paranoid - well, maybe not really all these things, but I sure acted as though I were.  I wanted to see how much he could take before leaving.  And for that, I apologize.  I'm sorry I tested you.  I'm sorry I couldn't just accept that you wanted to be with me.  I'm sorry I put you through all that to ease my own insecurities.  And I thank you, too.  Because in putting up with me, you showed me what it meant to be a man - to accept responsibility and commitment.  Anyway, maybe the fact that he put up with so much meant he would've stuck around - had I not pushed him so adamantly and so hard.

But again, that's beside the point.  The larger lesson is, and what I'm most afraid of is, that I've actually met guys I"m more compatible with, that maybe really would've stuck around, but left too early because I made them.  Just to prove to myself that no guy is "for real" and that every guy disappoints in the end, I've created my own self-fulfilling prophecy.

This is a fault I'm starting to come to terms with and trying to change.  I'll be wonderful, normal me when I first meet a guy, and then as soon as he seems interested, I magically know exactly what type of girl/behaviors he hates, and I have to start being that girl and displaying those behaviors.  As soon as he seems like he might like me, I act out in ways I *know* he doesn't like, and start to push.  If he likes independent girls, I get needy.  If he thought I was thoughtful and reserved, I'll start shooting my mouth off and doing things I'll regret.  If he thought I was chill and down-to-earth, I start acting all high maintenance.  If he thought I didn't judge, I start acting all elitist.

Anyways, this got a lot longer than I meant it to, but that always happens with me and blogging.  But identification/self-awareness is the first step to fixing any problem, right?  I admit that I'm a Pusher: I have a horrible habit of prematurely pushing guys away.  Oops.  Operation: Try to just be "me" in a relationship: kindof underway...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nature hurts.

Horsefly in Spiderweb
Source: Askville by Amazon

So, our house has had some ant problems lately.  My sister, being the "strong" one, has taken to viciously attacking them whenever she sees one.  And I mean VICIOUSLY.  Like grabs the first hard thing she sees (har har har) and runs all crazed hips forward-shoulders and head back and then starts whacking as though the ant were holding a gun to her child's head.  And these aren't big ants, I mean these are teeny tiny kinda cute ants.  Not the gross big ones where you can see all the separate body parts.  The point is, my sister is on this raging bug-hating/killing binge right now.

Lately, my sister and I have taken to studying in our dining room (big table, lots of space, close to the kitchen, etc.).  She studying for the MCAT and me writing for school and work.  Anyway, earlier today there was a big horsefly in our living room.  Apparently.  We were quietly studying when my sister grabs one of her study books and runs to the living room and starts poking around by the plants near the window.  She then comes back and says dejectedly, "Aww, man.  I lost it."  Me: "Lost what?" She: "A big fly."  I shrug, whatever.

Before dinner, we have another run-in with the big horsefly (I was going to include a picture but I literally retched in my mouth when I was image searching and saw them all detailed and blown up) where she loses it again.  By now, she's pretty riled up about this wiley horsefly getting away from her twice.  I don't care.  As long as it's not bothering me, I don't really care if it lives or dies.

Anyway, it's almost 11pm now and I go to my parents' bathroom tonight to get some floss and I hear a weird buzzing noise.  My parents recently got a Korean bidet seat for their toilet (that I have yet to see or use) so I walk in there wondering if that's what is buzzing.  It's not...  I look down where the sound is coming from and I see the fly... apparently frozen near the shower door hinge.

I look closer, and OHMIGOD NATURE IN ACTION!!!  The fly is caught in a spider web!!!  I back away and call out to my sister.
Me: Jiyun!!!  Remember that fly from before?  I found it!
J:  What?!?!!! Where!?!
I tell her and she runs off to the bathroom.  She returns 15 minutes later (NO JOKE).  She then proceeds to detail how she was watching it struggle and there was a small spider just stabbing at it with its many legs.  She can't figure out if the spider has started wrapping up the fly in its deathnest or is just poking at it.  I DON'T CARE!!!  This is disgusting and sad.  I tell her to go kill both of them quickly and put everyone out of his/her misery.  She says no.  She is going to finish her study chapter and check on them in 20 minutes.  I shiver...

20 minutes later:  She goes to check and returns 5 minutes later to report.  The fly is completely rolled up in a deathnest but there is now a BIG spider next to the wrapped up horsefly and the smaller, original captor is just a bit off to the side.  For some reason, upon hearing this, my eyes well up with tears and I am struck with a sense of hopelessness.  My sister shakes her head like there is something wrong WITH ME and walks back to continue watching the gruesome scene unfold.

I don't know why, but this really struck me as a sad and unfortunate situation.  I mean I know nature works the way it works for a reason.  Survival of the fittest, circle of life, food chain, etc.  But still, somehow, knowing that it's going on right in my own house and that there is death and pain and struggle and that there is nothing I that I could or should or even WANT to do to prevent it is a difficult way to feel.

I  mean, I hate bugs.  Spiders (which I know are technically not insects but whatever) and flies are among my least favorite things but their suffering still loomed rather large in my head.  And the fact that I really wasn't supposed to step in.  Besides, what would my interference have achieved?  I can't pick a "favorite" or a "side."  If I "save" the fly then I'm starving the spider(s).  If I leave the fly alone, then I am choosing the spiders over it.  Moral quandaries indeed!

I really have no idea what the point of this entry was.  Other than there was a bug situation that I think deserved its own spot on "Life" or "Planet Earth."  And that nature makes me sad.  Because there is no unilateral evil or "bad guy" to hate.  The spider was just doing what it had to do to survive.  And I can't begrudge or blame it for that.  And the fly, just by getting caught in the web, went from annoying pest to unfortunate victim/meal.  And its changed circumstances elicited pity and even a tear from me.  And THAT is not something that I expected when I woke up this morning.  To have shed a tear for the unfortunate lives of horseflies and spiders...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To do.

Things I need to STOP doing:
1.  Lying to myself
2.  Being "too honest" with everyone else
3.  Criticizing/judging
4.  Ignoring problems/duties
5.  Watching full TV series (i.e. watching all 5 seasons of HIMYM in 2 weeks)
6.  Buying books I don't have time to read (or space to store)
7.  Overcommitting myself/trying to "do it all"
8.  Falling asleep for two hours five minutes after I "wake up"
9.  Using the word "hate" as a verb (as in "I hate slow walkers")

Things I need to do:
1.  Stretch after my runs
2.  Go back to portioning my meals
3.  Wear sunscreen more often
4.  Focus on what needs to get done
5.  Read the books I buy
6.  Physically get out of bed the first time I "wake up"

Friday, June 4, 2010

lucky in love.

Haha.  The title of this post may confuse you.  Especially juxtaposed against the tone and content of my previous post.  I just came from watching "Date Night" with Steve Carell and Tina Fey.  I love them.  They are both so funny and their relationship throughout this movie was so cute and sincere (at least, to me).  I had no expectations going into this movie (decided to watch ANY movie after dinner on a whim) so I was pleasantly delighted to find that I enjoyed it.

On my walk home, I saw this couple full-on making out on the side of the sidewalk.  I'm talking girl pressing guy against the side of building on her tip toes making out.  At first I was like "Get a room" followed by the eye roll.  They started walking before I reached them and I was like, GOOD.  Then I spotted them again, at the corner of the next block.  They hadn't even gone ONE FULL BLOCK and she had pressed him up against the side of another building.  They just couldn't get enough of each other.  I was like "Oh, brother" all Liz Lemon style but then, I smiled.

I smiled because I had been there once upon a time.  I had experienced that all-consuming passion.  The "got-to-have-you-now"-ness and "don't-care-who-sees-or-judges"-ness of new (and not so new) beaus.  And I got to thinking.  Despite all the ups and downs and seeming disasters on the journey that is my "love life," I have experienced a crazy array of situations, events, and feelings.  So maybe I haven't met "The One."  I'm not even sure how much I (still?) believe in "The One."  But short of finding my "happy ending" (non-euphemistic) I have truly been lucky to have experienced "love" (or sometimes perhaps lust) in so many different ways.

I am lucky to be able to recognize certain men's fragrances/soaps and smile thinking of the guy who wore it. I am lucky to have certain stores I pause outside of and think of who I went in there with.  I am lucky to pause outside certain restaurants and smile thinking of the guy who took me there.  I am lucky to have certain routes where I can smile remembering who used to walk there with me.  There are certain subway stops where I smile thinking of who used to drop me off there.  There are certain street corners where I smile thinking of who I used to meet there.  (Hmm, that last one sounds dangerously dirty - BUT IT'S NOT!!!).

So here is an edited list of some of some of the other experiences I count myself lucky to have had:

Being proclaimed as someone's soulmate.  Twice.  Being proposed to as a backup wife.  Thrice.  Trip for two to the Côte d'Azur.  Nighttime walks on the beach.  Walks in Central Park.  Walks in Battery Park.  Soul-searching conversations in Battery Park.  Getting sent home from the Duke Golf Course running trail parking lot by DUPD.  Being the one he wanted to go to the hospital with.  Roses for returning from DC.  An orchid for being pretty.  Male locker rooms at Duke.  Empty football field at Duke.  Underneath the bleachers of the tennis stadium at Duke.  Midnight grilled cheese sandwiches.  And homemade French toast for dinner.  Golf lessons.  A best friend who was secretly in love with me but never made a move other than being there for me when I needed him and always taking care of me.  At least twice.  A (perhaps-not-so) secret affair.  Grocery shopping.  Broadway shows.  Meeting coworkers.  Meeting friends.  Meeting the parents.  Meeting the other half of the bromance.  Meeting the dog.  Showers.  Being bathed like a child.  Kisses on the forehead.  Train couchette - with 4 others asleep (hopefully).  Train rides through the French countryside.  Heat rash.  Or possibly stress hives (non-STD related!).  Play wrestling - no sex involved.  Dancing until we literally fell over from exhaustion.  Someone who knows every little thing about me - even more than my Mom knows about me.  "I'm sorry" lunch.  "I'm sorry" brunch.  "I'm sorry" dinner.  "I'm sorry" ice cream.  "I'm sorry" cab rides.  "I'm sorry" highlighters.  Candles and rose petals.  Dinner at the Boathouse in Central Park.  A personalized tour through the Met.  Staying up to make me watch The Notebook.  Cookout shakes delivered to me in the library.  A whole fake duel on the steps inside Perkins Library.  Valentine's dinner with his basketball buddies.  Piggyback rides around Kville.  Semiformals.  Dancing.  Not dancing.  Walks through the Duke gardens.  Lunch at the Nasher Museum.  Cocktails at the WaDuke bar.  Pho to cure hangovers.  Morning-after brunches.  Piggyback rides around the American Tobacco Campus in Durham.  Surprise birthday dinner with my family.  21st birthday bathroom antics.  Watergun fights - with chemlab goggles.  Dorm study rooms.  Giving each other colds.  Wearing his clothes.  Finding his clothes in my laundry.  Giving me his favorite childhood stuffed animal.  Teaching me to play video games.  Getting frustrated when I beat him.  Never playing said video game with me again.  Having someone to cook hangover 삼계탕 for.  Impromptu lens cases out of water bottle caps.  Having someone to bring home leftovers for.  Having someone to order a takeout meal for during girls' dinner.  Smuggling a live animal into Bostock Library.  Having the exact same read on another person.  Rainy day movies.  Being carried to bed.  Taking care of drunk strangers together.  Sleeping on the floor.  Golfing with my parents.  Rides home.  Walking me home.  Borrowing his coat.  Talking until the sunrise.  Drinking on the raised plaza outside JG.  Playing basketball.  Ignoring foul calls.  Keggerskating.  Bus terminal goodbyes.  Bus terminal welcome backs.  Rituals.  Nicknames.  Inside jokes.  Talking until the cell battery dies.  Drunk texts.  Care packages.  Garters.  White Hanes tank tops.  Christmas presents.  I'll-miss-you-when-you-go-on-vacation-so-here's-my-favorite-sweatshirt sweatshirts.  Souvenirs.  Postcards from faraway places.  Weathering the rain and a trip to Brooklyn to feed a friend's cat.  A date that I planned and paid for.  Watching movies in the theaters.  Watching movies at home.  Watching new TV shows.  Skipping class to take naps.  Hopping around on one foot in Kroger's grocery store.  Duke basketball.  Making up.  Walking.  Ordering Chinese food delivered to my apartment and his name is automatically on the order.  Having a "song."  New music.  Concerts.  Mobs.  Getting his car towed b/c we were behind a building for too long.  Sleeping while he reads Naruto.   Shopping together.  Bloomingdales.  The Apple store.  Strand.  New interests.  Sending him off to work in the morning and being left in the quiet calm of his apartment.