Wake-Up Call

I woke up at 5:59 AM today. Willingly. Without an alarm clock. I would normally round that off and say I woke up at 6:00AM, but I’ve always believed that the 5 o’clock hour is only when insane people rise. Which I am fully aware I will be me one day.

I tossed and turned for a half hour, and realized sleep just wasn’t happening. The culprit? I had Starbucks at 9:ooPM last night. The barista said it was Decaf. I beg to differ. So I decided to do the only thing that I know how to do at that insanely early hour: Run.

The problem? I forgot that it was actually below zero. And dark. A deadly duo. I realized within 5 seconds of stepping outside that my decision was insane. But, unfortunately, my stubbornness would not allow me to turn around.

I came back from my run looking like I spent 5 hours in the Sahari without SPF. But it was worth the windburn. I ran 5.5 miles, but it felt like it took only 5 minutes. As sane people slept, I received a little Sociology lesson: Friendly people are much more common outside the hours of 9 to 5. It may have been sub-zero, but every single person I met on the roads greeted me with a smile.

The same, of course, can be said for evening hours. When you go to the bars at night, you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone frowning. [Unless, of course, they just suffered something traumatic—i.e. a breakup, diss, or the depressive effects of alcohol from starting drinking way too early].

I know I won’t become a permanent AM convert. I like sleep too much—and warmth. But it made me wonder: Why not start an occasional day before Sunrise?

[Note: I highly recommend starting days before Sunrise in the Summer, Spring, or Fall. Freezing eyelashes should be limited to Mr. Freeze.]

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Addicted to Edibles

Hello, my name is Kristin. I am addicted to grocery shopping.

It seems like a harmless addiction. It doesn’t increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. It won’t quicken my breath or increase my blood pressure. Yet. I still haven’t fully discovered the fried foods section.

During the 11 days I’ve been back at school, I’ve gone grocery shopping 5 times. This may be acceptable–if you’re raising a family of 8. Or even if you only spend a bit each time you shop. Unfortunately, I have no excuse: I shop for myself, and probably have a “budget” like the Brady Bunch.

They say that parents can pass on addictions. I never really thought much about that statistic, seeing as my parents are as clean as Danny Tanner. But now I’m beginning to understand the parental power. My mom’s vice? Grocery Shopping.

Like kids who are ardently opposed to cigarettes and then proceed to pick it up as they age, I never thought I’d develop my mom’s addiction. I hated grocery shopping growing up. I liked eating—not cooking—and preferred to think that food just magically appeared on my table. Pasta was served on a plate covered in sauce and parmesan cheese; not rock solid in a cardboard box.

I’m getting excited just typing about Grocery Shopping. And, sadly, I’m writing this just a few hours after taking a trip to Gateway Market.

Job Swap

I don’t watch it often, but I thoroughly enjoy an occasional episode of “Wife Swap.”

I argue that it’s highly educational: You may as well swap it for a Sociology lecture. Plus, watching it makes me wonder: Where can they possibly find such ridiculous families? Unruly kids who firmly believe that Doritos and Cookie Dough are an adequate dinner and will duke it out with anyone who disagrees. A woman who believes that food is actually unnecessary and we can gain all our nourishment from “sun gazing.”

I watch and wonder: What would it be like to swap lives? Don’t get me wrong: I love my life. But I wouldn’t mind a little recess. Since I don’t exactly qualify for “Wife Swap” (considering I am unmarried and –hopefully–don’t have any significant personality flaws that make for gripping reality TV), I’d like to take a stab at a little version of “Job Swap.” Here’d be my prime picks [Note: I am well aware that some–most–of these jobs do not actually exist]:

1.) Professional grocery shopper. I probably spend more money on my grocery trips than the average family of 4. I’d practically pay to be a professional produce shopper. Which would, I know, completely defeat the purpose.

2.) Gossipist. I would love to pay to dig up dirt (on strangers, of course) for a living. US Weekly in the flesh, sans slander or suits.

3.) Matchmaker. This stems from another embarrassing reality TV obsession: The Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti is mean and pushy, yet she gets paid bundles AND chat up the richest of the rich. I wouldn’t want to deal with the rich and cocky guys–like one pro bball player who had a voice like the slo mo movie speaker and an even slower personality–I’d for a small town version: Bring on the overalls and missing teeth, and I’ll make you a match.

4.) Wedding Crasher. Who hasn’t dreamed of doing this after watching the movie?

5.) Disney Character. This has nothing to do with my love for Disney. I’d simply like to investigate just how many creepy Cinderellas, Belles, or Beasts get hired.

A Year’s Worth of Reading

I’ve always loved to read. When I was younger, I stuck to series. I’m pretty sure I was a pseudo member of  “The Babysitter’s Club.” But in high school and college, I became an extremely random reader. I’m willing to read almost anything…except books that require a dictionary by my bedside. Here’s what I read in ’09…I’m open to new suggestions for ’10!
1.) She’s Come Undone
2.) Valley of the Dolls
3.) To Kill a Mockingbird
4.) Mr. Maybe
5.) Revolutionary Road
6.) What I Talk about When I Talk about Running
7.) Three Weeks with My Brother
8.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
9.) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
10.) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
11.) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
12.) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
13.) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
14.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
15.) Bridget Jone’s Diary
16.) A Wrinkle in Time
17.) The DaVinci Code
18.) Angels and Demons
19.) The Godfather
20.) The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Man in the World
21.) Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Glass Clock
22.) Twilight
23.) The Old Man and the Sea
24.) New Moon
25.) Eclipse
26.) Breaking Dawn
27.) Girls from Ames
28.) The Beach House
29.) I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
30.) The Ten Year Nap
31.) Me Talk Pretty One Day
32.) How to Be Good
33.) College Girl

Age Is Just a Number

I remember when I thought age 1o was ancient. I was 9, and, like always, dreading adding a year to my age. I felt like 10 made me a grown up, which I certainly did not want to be. 10 years old meant that I was in the same 10-year span as 19 year olds, who were practically Senior Citizens. In only a few years, I’d be 13. A teenager. I had only heard people mention teenagers in negative ways (ugh, those “teenagers” and their music; those “teenagers” and their belly button rings; those boy-crazy “teenagers”).

I now realize, of course, that those characteristics of “teenagers” are only negative depending on the speaker. Teenage music and belly-button rings aren’t bad—Good music did not, in fact, stop being made in the 60s and some piercings are actually pretty cool (Read: Some). Plus, few girls aren’t boy crazy at some point in their lives. Why is it so bad to be boy-crazy as a teenager? I’d prefer not to be a seventy-year old spinster, thank you very much.

Lately, though, my views on age are starting to change. Slightly. I still dread getting a year older, but somehow now think of my age as young. Partially, this is due to the fact that I’m the youngest of all the graduate students.

But it’s more than that. I’m 22. That’s halfway to 44, sure. But I’ve already done so much during my 22 years that I can’t help but think how much more there is to come in the next 20, 30, 40…hopefully 80 or 90! years. Each year feels a little longer, now, but in a good way. I’m excited for the future, not anxious about aging.

Racing my Retriever

I love running.  Well, at least most of the time I do. Sometimes, I’d rather get my wisdom teeth pulled, be tickled nonstop, and chat up an infomercial salesman at the same time than go for a run. But I do it anyway, and then feel great. Thank you, endorphins.

For most of my life, running has been a pretty solitary activity. I started running with my dad at seven, but eventually scrapped it for basketball for a few years. Once I started back up, my dad was forced to travel more and run less. I began getting comfortable running solo, which I did for the majority of high school. Cross-Country wasn’t a big sport at my high school—having five girls race at a meet was a feat—so I initially ran most of my runs solo.

But I eventually realized that, sadly, staying silent for seven-plus milers is significantly difficult for someone who enjoys talking as much as me. The solution? Run with other people! (Duh). Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury, being that there clearly wasn’t a Cross-Country waiting list. It wasn’t until college that I found the pleasure—and push—of running with other people.

Then, my four years ended…and my rehab began. Unfortunately, there’s no nicotine patch for curing group running. Eventually, I amped up my iPod and solo running no longer sucked. Until my dad made a wonderful discovery…my golden retriever, Blake, could run. And liked it.

And so began my project.

I started running Blake a little bit. More accurately, he started running me. Like elementary school kids, he initially thought “going for a run” meant sprinting as fast as you possible can and then passing out. Eventually, though, he got the idea. Well, actually, I forced him to get the idea. We’d sprint a few blocks in one direction, forcing him to get the message that, sorry buddy, we’ve gotta make it back. He quickly became tired of pervasive panting (as I became tired of pretending I could sprint).

So I started small: Let’s run a mile. A mile became two, two became 2.5, 2.5 became 3, and, today, we made it 4.05 (I am not that obsessive, I’m merely quoting a loving tool called mapmyrun.com. My mom and I used to manually map out my runs. What gas guzzlers.)

I can’t help but be pleased with my “pet” project. Not only have I found a running partner (he can pretty much run my exact pace), but it’s also my first endeavor as a running coach.

I’m like a proud parent. I can’t help but reveal his feat (as noted on this blog). Just please stop me if I start to show you wallet-size photos of every single run or create a doggy medal and trophy to show off his triumphs.

10 for ’10

I am horrible at making lists. I love assignment notebooks—unfortunately, I don’t actually use them. I’m great at purchasing, but completely fail at making them purposeful. My assignment notebooks stay blank, and my head gets the burden of recalling the information that a handy spiral would do so much better.

But my head is overworked. I need my head for recalling the “important” information—like random Psychological theories for an exam that I will promptly forget the moment I put down my pencil.

The same goes for goals. I’m always thinking about them, but never write them down. So this year, I’m writing my yearly goals down. Like nearly everyone else who is not Superman/woman, my resolutions are usually short-lived. But perhaps writing it down will make them stick. Here’s my 10 for ’10:

1.) Use an assignment notebook. I spent $10 for an overpriced Drake University assignment notebook that is tattered, but unused. All that it contains is a few birthdays, and the date of an upcoming exam. A date which I put down only because I was bored in class.

2.) Cook for other people. I love to cook—for myself, that is. I’m still a bit timid to take on a dinner party, or even a table for two.

3.) Drink one caffeine beverage per day. Ok, I’ve already failed at this so let’s go for two.

4.) Read an average of a book for fun per week by the year end. I kept a Book List for 2009, and I think I read around 34. 52 would be a feat, but I think I can do it.

5.) Be able to do 100 push-ups without stopping. I have no idea whether this is actually achievable, but 100 seems to be my Holy Grail. I’ve started ’10 doing daily push-ups to see how far I can push myself. I’m currently sitting at 25. 100 seems ridiculous, but if “The Biggest Loser” contestants can train and run a marathon, I should be able to train my triceps.

6.) Stop eating when I’m full. I am awful at this. I snack immediately after I finish eating, even though I’m clearly not hungry. Before I know it, I’ve polished off a half a box of Wheat Thins after finishing a complete meal. Terrible for my spending. Even worse for my stomach.

7.) Be able to touch my toes. Sad, I know. I used to be in tumbling, and can no longer touch my toes without grunting. This needs to change, if only so I am not embarrassed when the 8-year olds I teach at The Little Gym are in the straddle splits, and I’m struggling to clutch my calves.

8.) Solve every day of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Honestly, this probably won’t happen for years. How am I supposed to know who won the 1957 Stanley Cup, or who was the winner of the 1972 Nobel Peace Prize? Let’s hope my brain adopts a Jack-esque complex.

9.) Land a (real) job. Although I currently have 4 jobs, none of them sound “adultish”—I’m a Children’s Fitness Instructor/Birthday Specialist, Tutor, Nanny, and Freelancer. I wouldn’t mind the “adult” part much, if they actually made money.  Once I graduate, I’d like to have a job where I could jet to Jamacia if I so chose without being immediately bankrupt. A girl can dare to dream.

10.) Drink more wine. I know, I know. I should be resolving to drink less, not more. But at least if I switch from wine to beer, I can sound more “adult.” Sure, I’m a nanny, but I drink wine. Clearly, I’m mature.