Friday, December 9, 2011


I haven't been updating much lately, so I suppose now is as good time as any :)

There's actually quite a bit going on right now.  I've been getting settled into my job, which has been a slightly interesting experience.  I'm in a Captain's position as a brand new 2nd Lieutenant, so I'm having to learn quite a bit of stuff with very little experience.  Fortunately I was prior service, but UNfortunately this is my first time deploying, and, again, I'm new to the unit, so I'm still learning how it all works.  Fun stuff.  Fortunately I have lots of people that are helping me to learn the new job.  I guess West Point taught me at least one good thing: don't act like you know everything, and don't be afraid to ask questions and take advice.

On another different (but slightly similar note), I am taking my Graduate Record Exams (GREs) tomorrow afternoon.  I must say I am NERVOUS.  I have been practicing for awhile; however, the initial book I used wasn't very difficult.  It wasn't until I took the test on the actual ETS (the test-maker's) site that I started worrying, so I ordered THEIR book, and have been practicing since I got it, which unfortunately, has only been for a week.  I still don't feel confident in a lot of the math portions, and unfortunately, because my college GPA was only okay, I would really like to do well on this exam for grad school (not that I'm sure when exactly I'm going to go, but I know it will be within the next five years, which is how long the GREs are good for).

 And on ANOTHER slightly related note, I am ALSO taking my test during the Army-Navy football game!  Ahhhhh!  I am so disappointed I won't be able to watch it.  Those of you who know me know that I absolutely do not care about football.  Except for Army football (or rather, West Point football), and ESPECIALLY this one particular game.   The Naval Academy is West Point's number one sports rival, and this game is huge.  For those who don't know, EVERY cadet and midshipmen (Naval Academy cadet) travels to watch the game.  It's a huge deal.  And Army hasn't won one of these games in nine years.  :(  So, EVERY year everyone gets all excited for the game.  I sure was looking forward to watching the game sitting down, nice and warm, probably drinking a beer (Cadets have to stand the entire game, our uniforms weren't particularly warm, and we couldn't drink during football games, so these were all novelties).  Sadly, I will be sitting, nice and warm, taking a 3.5 hour test.

Finally, I suppose I will talk a little about upcoming months.  First, I am very excited for the next few weeks.  I will be seeing one of my best friend's West Point graduation (she's graduating a semester late because she had to take a semester off our sophomore year), which means I get to head back to West Point for a couple of days :)  Following that, I get to head down South for some French Quarter and some beach goodness :)  Well, I don't know how warm it will be for the beach, but I'm still excited.  And THEN my sister will be visiting before we head up to Canada to go skiing for her birthday and New Year's Eve.  Um, rockin' good time me thinks!

Following my amazing period of leave, I'll be training extensively for a 50-mile race when I deploy.  I've never run a marathon much less fifty miles, but I think fifty miles would just be a completely different type of setting.  Unlike in a marathon where I would think you would try to keep running the whole time (I know I would be trying to run the whole time), it's pretty acceptable to walk during ultra marathons.  As a matter of fact, it's pretty much EXPECTED.  And we get 24 hours to finish.  That's like, barely over two miles per hour to finish (though I really hope that I do NOT ACTUALLY take 24 hours to finish...)  Anyways, I'm excited for it, but nervous at the same time because of my tendency to get injured.  I am combating this as much as possible by lifting more regularly again.  I want to build strength in my hips/legs so that they are better able to handle the stresses of running AND stabilize my body more so I don't end up with all these weird injuries because my hips are weak (what my physical therapist always told me at West Point when I'd walk in with yet another overuse injury).  I will also try VERY hard to slow my long runs down, and add some walking breaks in once I hit higher mileage, that way I actually recover better.  I have a very difficult time running long distances as slowly as I should be when I'm just training.  A 9:30 minute mile is pretty slow for me, but when I think when I start doing longer distances, I should probably be going slightly SLOWER than that.  Not because I'm not capable of running faster, because I very much am (most of my long runs last time I was training for a marathon were around 9-9:15 minute miles, and I wasn't trying to pick up speed), but I think to get the kind of endurance I want for this type of distance, I need to slow it down so I don't hurt myself.  I need to save speed for the speed days I guess :)

Alas, I suppose I have written quite a bit for now.  Those are the big things going on now though that I've been thinking about.  And we all know I like to share my thoughts :)


Friday, December 2, 2011

True Friends

As I was sitting here procrastinating on studying (feels like college.. except it's not), I started thinking about what being a true friend is.  In the past year or so I had a person who I had considered a very close friend for a long time just stop talking to me.  She never told me why, and I'm not sure why because as far as I'm aware, I don't think I ever did anything to her (some of you probably know what I'm talking about right now), but it made me think... What is a true friend?  Here are my thoughts.  

A true friend is someone who has seen you at your best and your worst, but they are still there for you.  I'm not talking about taking abuse from you because nobody deserves to be treated like crap - there's a difference between being a friend and a doormat.  No, a true friend has seen you on your bad days, and maybe has had to deal with you when you're feeling irritable, but ultimately knows who you are, and is willing to deal with a few bad days because that friend knows you'll always be there for them during their bad days.  They watch you grow and change and are still there for you to help support you.  A good test of a true friend?  If you can live with each other and remain good friends (hi, Vanessa!), or you end up being good friends BECAUSE you lived together (hi, Amber!)  You can have occasional arguments, but you can get over it because you know it's just that - an argument - and it happens sometimes.  

A true friend knows both the good and the ugly, and is okay with both.  The friend might give you advice or tell you that what you're doing isn't the smartest idea, and you might not even want to hear someone tell you what to do, but you know the advice is because he or she cares about you, not because he or she thinks that they are better than you.  There are some people who will give you advice just because they think they always know what's best, but a true friend does it because they really CARE about YOU.  

A true friend is someone who you can trust.  You know you can tell them secrets, and they won't go telling everyone else just so they have a good story.  

A true friend might not even be someone you speak to frequently.  I have a few of them from my high school days.  Even though we don't talk often, when we do talk, it's like we haven't spent something like ten years away from each other.  We can still tell each other things.  

A true friend is NOT someone who abandons you because they meet someone "better" or a significant other (this is the worst).  To sort of contradict that, a true friend will understand if you have your slip-ups, because after all, nobody is perfect.  They also won't only talk to you when they want something from you.  

I know this was a little cliche, but those are my thoughts on what a true friend is or is not.  I've been fortunate to meet quite a few people in my life who I consider true friends, and I'm so thankful for them!  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I don't have anything very profound to say today, but I wanted to update because I know it has been a little bit of time.

First, Happy Late-Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope everyone had a fabulous day stuffed with turkey delight.  On that note, I find it quite depressing that stores are now opening on Thursday night for Black Friday (Thursday?)  We discussed this while I was with my relatives, and it's unfair to the employees to have to worry about coming into work and dealing with a bunch of crazy shoppers after spending a day being thankful.  Why is Thanksgiving turning into another consumer holiday?  I read a newspaper article that stated that stores are doing this because they need the extra boost with the economy.  How about just keeping the sales going later instead of starting them at midnight and ending them by noon?  I'm no economist, so I can't really speak on this area knowledgeably, but I was still appalled that people had to come into work on Thanksgiving night so stores could make a little more money.  I'm even more appalled that people are so crazed by shopping that they PEPPER SPRAYED people.  Really?  REALLY?  Is it THAT important that you save some money that you're going to harm other people?  I hope I never become a material-crazed person who will fight with people over a sale.  Fortunately, we have the internet now, so I really don't think I should have to :)   In case anyone was wondering, I don't usually go out on Black Friday.  I did go to a mall this year (not until late afternoon though), and the only reason for it was because I was in an area that had a good mall, and we only have a small one where I am.  Nothing I wanted was even on sale, so... mostly I just went because it was convenient :)

Goodness, it has been so long since I've written, I'm trying to think of what I should talk about.  Let's talk about my favorite topic - running!  Sadly it isn't going as well as I'd like... the knees and hips don't like me much today, but I'm trying to get myself out the door for at least a few miles.  I wanted to do a longer run, but my knees are not in good shape... I'm not sure why, as I only did 7 miles yesterday.  Seven is the most I've done in the past few weeks  (though I've done it several times)  I have decided that I'm going to get my hips checked out tomorrow.

  I also don't want to screw up my knees because I want to ski this year!  I live in an area that usually gets tons of snow (though we haven't had more than an inch this year yet - strange), and my sister and I are heading up to Canada this year to ski, so I need to get into ski shape so I don't destroy myself after one day.  I'm super excited!   This next month is looking quite awesome actually.  I take my GRE's on the 10th of December, then I fly down south a week later, then the day after I get back, my sister flies in and we head on our Canada ski adventure.  I'm kind of going all out this year because I want to enjoy my time before I have to deploy.  Fortunately, deployments are shorter now, so it really shouldn't be so bad.  Nonetheless, I want to spend as much time enjoying myself as I can :)

That's all I can think to say right now.  I should've waited until after my run to write, as I always have lots of intelligent things to say after I run, but I'm procrastinating getting out the door... hehehe .


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Overcoming and being content

I know, simple post title.  But it's how I feel right now.  Happy.  Content.  I don't think it's necessarily that everything is perfect, though there is really nothing wrong; rather, it's that I have learned how to be content despite imperfections.  Because really, when is anything ever perfect?  There will always be something wrong if you look for it.  Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I've learned in the past year and a half is that to be really content, you can't rely on outside circumstances.  Maybe this is partially a result of spending hours a day in my psychology classes in my final year as a cadet: counseling, social psychology, positive psychology, etc.  All of those classes focused at least a little on the effect that your reactions to your surroundings have on your overall well-being.  Particularly counseling and my capstone class, which focused on positive psychology (resiliency, etc.).  Counseling was basically a deeper look at myself.  I know some people did not like that course, and at times I had mixed feelings... It was actually one of my lowest grades in my major, but it probably taught me more about myself than any other class at the Academy, and for that I am glad I took it.

There have been times when I wasn't so good at seeing challenges and imperfections as chances to grow.  I wanted things to be right - all the time - and I struggled with dealing with situations when things weren't perfect.  You can imagine how difficult that was for me at West Point, where they purposely try to put you through situations where you can't possibly be right all the time.  Where no matter how hard you try, you will not always get the results you want (minus a few select people who sat in the front rows of graduation, hehe)  Well, it worked.  After three years I finally figured out how to deal with things going wrong.  It's not to shut down or get depressed, and it's not to get angry... It's to change my thought process.   To work harder at what the areas that I DO have an influence on... and to let the things I can't do anything about slide - just a little.

On another similar note, I will be moving into my new apartment tomorrow afternoon :)  I'm excited to see it with the refinished floors :)  Sometimes I guess it pays off to be personable because my landlord (landlady?) was willing to do a lot to get me as a tenant because she really liked me.  She has said several times that "God has blessed her" with good tenants recently.  She's even going to have me and the other new tenant (from Syria... she is in the U.S. for a couple of months for medical school or something) over for dinner one night.  It will be nice to meet some of the people living in the floor above me :)

Alas, I will try to avoid rambling.  Good night all. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What environment is best for writing?

I've been working an answering some questions about myself for a feature based on my "Women and the Military" post and I'm trying to figure out, what type of environment is best for writing?  Open, honest writing.  I know professional writers will often lock themselves away and write... After all, there is nothing to break your concentration.  Actually, I write many of my blogs in this type of setting.  Unfortunately, I also do not publish most of them because I am afraid they reveal TOO much of myself.  When is it too much?  When does it stop making sense?  I know some of my blogs get pretty in depth in relation to my thoughts and feelings.  This is awesome for a journal, but how honest is too honest?  What do people REALLY want to know?  These are questions I ask myself when I am about to publish a blog entry.  Of course, I only have six followers (haha), so I'm nowhere NEAR a professional writer, BUT some people DO read what I write, so I have to ask... what is better?  Sitting and writing and letting all of my thoughts come out, or writing for a bit, and stepping back, then sitting back down and writing again after deleting at least three paragraphs because I am afraid they are rambling?

I can tell you that for academic writing a combination of the two is the best.  Some of my best papers were written in one night... BUT, I sat back and looked at them again to fix the errors that inevitably occur when your writing becomes a stream of consciousness.  Such as my frequent lack of paragraphs when I write blog entries ;)

Readers, what do you prefer?  Long, honest blogs (that actually discuss something of substance, of course), or shorter, more straight to the point?  What type of environment do you like to write in?  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life here so far (in my first week)

Completely unrelated to my last blog post...

I've been able to run again!  Wait, did I mention that all ready?  I don't know.  Anyways, it's awesome because the running out here is awesome.  Long country roads and trails, and all sorts of new stuff to explore!  I love it!  And while I'm REALLY not looking forward to having to run in temperatures barely over 0 degrees (which I guess I did at West Point a couple of times, though I usually stuck to the treadmill when it got REALLY cold), I AM looking forward to engaging in some snow sports (skiing, snow-shoeing, etc.)

Also, I should state that the people up here are not rude as they were down at West Point, at least as far as I've noticed.  So far everyone I have met has been friendly and nice... I will say that most people down closer to NYC definitely fit into the typical New Yorker stereotype of being rude.  Most people I've met here are nicer than they were down in South Carolina for the most part.  Almost everyone I've met while out and about actually talks to me and asks me questions.  People say that's how people in the South are, but I didn't see it much.

Now, I just need to actually report to my unit, which has not yet happened because I basically got ten free days of leave to look for a place to live.  Well, I realized last night when I was reading up on the regulation that these days are not actually FREE... the money I'm paying to stay in this hotel will not be reimbursed.  While my leave days are not being taken up, I am not serving any purpose to the government by sitting here looking for a place to live.  Fortunately, I WILL be getting more money for housing.

Anyway,  just an update on life.  Can't wait to move into my apartment.  On another note:  I read more people's responses to the SMA's Facebook posts about uniform changes.  I just cannot understand why people think makeup is a distraction or how it makes us "unequal"... I mean, I bet men COULD fight for makeup, but really, how many would want to wear it?  It would look silly unless it was just cover up or something (and nobody would say anything about it if a guy DID wear cover up). And it takes maybe five minutes to put it on (if you're me I guess).  Hardly a distraction.  But you all know my opinions on that matter... I just get more heated about it everytime I read that post...  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women and the Military

Last night I was reading the Army Times and came across a couple of articles that sparked this blog.  One was women in combat, and two were uniform changes.  I won't get into the women in combat article because it's something that has been debated many times.  Some of you know my thoughts on that matter, and if you're interested in knowing more, I can write about that.

The other topic, the uniform standard, is one that has always gotten to me.  Or rather, the reaction that people have to  females being feminine in the military.  Perhaps this issue frustrates me because I am one of those females who does wear makeup, and nail polish (sometimes), and who likes to "look pretty" as some might say.  However, my makeup is always in neutral colors, as are my nails.  There was once a time when I wore too much makeup (back in my junior-enlisted days), but that is something that leadership needs to correct, not something a regulation should prohibit because a few people don't think females in the Army should be feminine.  What irks me most about people who state that females joined the Army and that they knew what they were getting into (some comments on the Sergeant Major of the Army's (SMA) Facebook page, and in the Army Times!) is that I do not see how being feminine affects someone's ability to do their job.  Being in the Army should not mean that females should have to look like males.  Males are allowed to look masculine, and in our society, it is more professional for a male to have shorter hair.  As I stated on my comment on the SMA's page, the Army's emphasis on looking professional generally imitates civilian society's ideals on what looks professional, but is a more conservative version of it.  I don't think that females should be wearing bright red nail polish, or super heavy makeup, but I wouldn't think that would look professional in a civilian workplace either.  Just like I don't think long hair looks professional on men, though I do think that high and tights are unnecessary, and that the Army could loosen up a bit on male hair standards, or rather certain units could stop making high and tights the standard.  

 A couple of comments about makeup and such seemed to point to the argument about equality between the sexes in the military, and that we as women have fought hard to be equal, but makeup basically destroys that.  I do agree we should be treated equally, but EQUAL does not mean that men and women are the exact same.  We should be treated equally in the sense that we are treated based on how well we do our job, regardless of how we look.  We are NOT the same.  It is like saying that males in a predominately feminine field such as nursing, for example, should have to get manicures in order to be treated "equally." Both men and women bring something different to the Army, and because a female wears makeup does not mean that she is incapable of being in the Army and performing well.  Personally, while I wear makeup, and sometimes have my nails painted, you will never hear me complain of a "broken nail," (though I did have a toenail falling off from all of the running I was doing that affected my PT one morning!) or see me avoiding certain things just because I am going to mess up a manicure.  If THAT is what the Army is afraid of, then they need to address the individuals doing these things, NOT all females in the military.  It is the same regarding males who are incapable of their job.  Gender should have nothing to do with this.  

Being feminine does not equal being weak, nor does it equal laziness, an inability to do the job, or expecting everyone else to do their job.  These are all things I heard while enlisted and while at West Point.  It is not this way in the civilian world, so why should people assume it is this way in the military?  Sadly, so many men think that because a female is not as physically strong as a male or because they like to look feminine (the same as most males like looking masculine) that they can't bring much to the military.   As a matter of fact, I can remember when I was enlisted and I would be on some detail moving stuff around, trying to stay busy, while some of my male counterparts were hiding in the corner because they didn't want to work.  I would NEVER do that, and if I did, people would assume I was doing it because I was a lazy female rather than because I was just a dirt bag.   When a male is lazy, it's individual, but when a female is lazy, it's because she's a female.  There are some things I am not as physically capable of  (at 5'1" and 113 pounds, carrying around heavy rucksacks is not easy for me, though I can usually keep up, it just takes me more effort than someone bigger), but that has no bearing on my ability to do a good job.  Anyway, I can still outrun, outpush, and out pull-up a lot of the guys :)  

Anyways, I know that was a little all-over the place.  Probably because these are areas I feel strongly about.  I do think that people's opinions on appearances tend to reflect the general attitude that the Army has about females in the Army and their role in the Army.  The opinion seems to be that if females are not a direct reflection of males, both in appearances and in physical capabilities, that they are less capable of their jobs.  My opinion is that males and females are not the exact same (which is why I'm not so sure about females being in the infantry, though I do think they can bring something to those units if they are attached... there's a small snippet on my opinion on that matter), but that does not mean they are not both capable of doing great at their perspective roles in the Army.  

Thoughts?  I'd be interested to see some opinions.  I know I've gotten into some pretty heated debates over this with people I know. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I'm back! In New York

I'm back in New York!  And I must say, I've missed the scenery up here.  I really really don't like the South... at least not the area I was in!  There were some nice places, such as Charleston, and Atlanta was a really cool place to visit - particularly the Midtown area.  Also some of the metro areas around Atlanta (like where I did the trail half marathon!) were nice. I loved Destin, but I still don't really count that as the South :)  But for the most part, I'm not really much of a Southern girl.  I'm really excited to run on these country roads out here!  Just waiting for this hip thing to disappear... Actually it doesn't really hurt today, and didn't really bother me last night, so I kind of want to do an easy run this morning!  I dunno though.... I'm afraid to re-aggravate it!  It doesn't hurt WHILE I'm running, just while I'm sitting/sleeping AFTER I've run.  I really should've taken a couple of days off when it FIRST started bothering me (I guess after my speed workout two weeks ago, but I DID take  A day off.  I assumed I was just still sore).  It wasn't until two Sundays ago that it started getting to the point where sitting was hurting, and then I took quite a bit of time off.  It's been two weeks since I've done anything over four miles, and a week and a half (LAST Wednesday) since I've done ANY running at all.  And that was a slow four miles on the treadmill.  Trying to be smart about it this time :)

Anyways, I got off track.  It looks like there are some great running places around here.. woohoo!  That's what I looked at while driving, hahaha.  Lots of country roads with wide shoulders (and trails and stuff too).  The Adironacks are very close - within an hour drive, and I still want to check out the Ontario lake area (1000 islands region!).  Very pretty from the pictures!  I love all of the snowmobile signs out where I am planning to move.  Speaking of which...

Well, I've been apartment hunting, and I found one I like.  I really wanted to live out by the water, but there really is NOTHING out there, at least not for under 1000 a month - BEFORE utilities.  There are two apartment complexes, and they are completely booked up.  I have actually been using Craigslist, and have met a few different landlords.  Why you might ask would I want to do that?  Well, number one, I actually get to LOOK at the place before I move in...  2) I don't want to move in somewhere with lots of screaming children and people people constantly fighting right next door to me all the time and 3) They are more personal and I can work with private landlords better.  I didn't like dealing with apartment complexes... most have such high demand because housing out here is difficult to find that they weren't very helpful.  Customer service is important!  One of the areas I've heard is really nice would be good, but... more money than I want to spend!  With utilities it would be over what I get for housing, and I'm trying to avoid doing that.  

The tenants I've talked to in both of the places I was interested in really liked their landlords and really liked the setup, so a major plus!  Anyways, the place I am very interested in is need of a little fixing-up, but she said she will have that done in the next week when the current tenants move (most of their stuff was out yesterday when I came through).  I asked her to give me a call when the renovations are completely (refinish the hardwood floor/wash the carpet/ put some paint on a few places)  The upstairs area where she rents private rooms where they share the kitchen/etc. is very nice, the floor is nice, everything looks good, so I trust it will be done accordingly downstairs!  She REALLY wants me as a tenant.  She said the current ones in the apartment were not so good, and I think she likes that I'm an officer (and therefore will pay my rent on time every month - I guess the current ones weren't so good about that) and also I apparently remind her of her daughters, lol.    The other people living in the upstairs area are also military.  So, I would be getting a two-bedroom apartment with a deck outside, a yard (deck and yard are shared... though I doubt I'll be using them in  couple of months with the snow!), a garage, heat and utilities for 775 a month.  The heat thing is hugely important around here because it can add a good 200 dollars to utilities every month.  And it's big enough I can fix it up the way I want.  And with that price, I can afford to buy some good furniture!  The area isn't super close to work, but then again, most areas aren't.  It's not too bad though, about 15-20 minutes.  It's in a village, and seems quiet.  Oh, and there are two state forests maybe three miles down the road.  That's pretty good for me :)

 I stayed with a couple of people along the way up, including one of my closest friends (my roommate my last semester at school!)  It was a great way to get to visit, considering what a long trip it is :)  

Well, sort of abrupt ending, but that is all I have to say for now.  I know it has been a little bit of time since I have last updated, so I felt it was due.  


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random questions

Well gosh darn, I know I've said this before, and I'm going to say it again... I wish I could remember half of the things I think of when I run!  Seriously, I'd have some pretty good posts.  My best thinking is done during a run.  Generally I can remember are the thoughts I had about running.  I also come up with random questions while I'm running.  Here are a couple of them (yes, they really are random):

1) While running past a sign that said "waterfront living!" during my long run: why do people always want to live near water so badly?  It makes sense to want to live near water when you actually do something in the water (like swim, boat, fish, etc), but when it's a man-made pond or lake that nobody would want to do anything in, what's the point?  Don't get me wrong, I would love to live waterfront, but I still ask myself why people (including myself) like it so much.

2) Anytime I'm hurting on a run (like during a race/long run/etc.):  Why am I doing this?  No, seriously, why?  I don't HAVE to do it.  It's not like I'm having FUN in the traditional sense.  I mean, feeling like I'm about to throw up isn't really a great feeling.  Thinking that maybe if I hurt myself I'll have an excuse to stop running is probably not the type of thing you should be thinking about during a race.  Of course I always finish, and... I know... I ALWAYS know at the end of each race that I will start looking at how to improve and look at other races and talk about how much I love it (because I do, despite wanting to puke and quit in the middle of the race).  Why is it so addicting?  I don't know.  But it is. I'm pretty sure you HAVE to be addicted to something to go through all of the discomfort, but continue to seek it out, over and over again.  Why do I even feel the need to talk about it so much?  Another question I cannot answer.

3) Okay, this one is a bit unrelated to the other things... Today I saw a man in the store with roses for what I'm guessing was his wife (he had on a wedding ring, so I certainly hope that's who they were for, unless they were for his mother or something).  I think that's the cutest thing when I see that.  More guys should do things like that, ESPECIALLY after marriage when the thrill might be gone and it might get monotonous.  Actually maybe it's better then than any other time because she won't expect it, so she'll get really excited, or wonder if you screwed up.   I bet every other woman in the store was thinking the exact same thing as me too.  Anyway... I got sidetracked and forgot the rest of my thoughts.

Now to wind down with a glass of wine, some cheese, and some studying.  That's a good evening in my book :)


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Trail running

I guess I haven't written much about running lately... Okay, not as much as I usually do, so this one is sparked from my race this past weekend, and also reading the Runner's World trail edition.  It's all about running, so if you don't want to read about that, you've been pre-warned!

First thing's first... The story of my race this weekend! So this weekend there was a lovely trail race a few hours from where I am.  It was a trail half marathon, which I had never done before.  I've done four trail ten-milers... well, technically three because I did one of them twice (freshman and senior years while at West Point).  One of them was in the snow in February :)  Well, those last few miles were the most brutal part of the race.  This was my sixth half marathon, and I didn't really train for it... I just looked for races, saw this one, and thought it would be neat to do.  Well, doing it on trails was a whoollle other monster from doing a road half.  As a matter of fact, I ran this one a full ten minutes slower than my last half marathon.  The race started on the road, and I think I started off a bit too fast.  I looked down at my Garmin and saw that I was running a 7:30 minute pace.  I had been running so many shorter distances that I kind of took off the way I would NOT normally do on a longer distance race.  I was feeling okay until I hit the hills.  Ooohhh the hills.  Not the hills that were on the road... those were okay.  No, it was on the trails where the steep hills hit where I started feeling it, but I kept powering up anyways.  Again... I hadn't done a trail race this far before, and the last time I ran 13 miles on a trail at all, it wasn't as hilly as this!  Not at all!  Around mile six or so there was a water stop, so I stopped, had a Gu energy gel and some water, and kept going.  Stopping for that water and gu was a terrible idea because my legs felt kind of like lead starting up again.  I realized I certainly did not eat enough that morning.  Some people can't eat before they run.  I HAVE to eat before I run.  I can't eat a full meal immediately before RACING, but I can certainly eat more than half an English muffin for a half marathon.  I started feeling a little better until the10th or so mile.  I didn't think I was going to be able to finish a few times.  I felt kinda sick to my stomach.. just awful.  BUT, I thought about the finish line the entire time, and I eventually finished in 1:56:10 (I think the seconds are right).  Yep, slow!  But, to put it in perspective, I got first in my age group, which I'd never done before!  Overall against all men and women, I was 28th.  I think I was about 5th out of all the women, but I'm not sure.  The woman who won overall was only two minutes faster than my last road half marathon, to give you more perspective on the difficulty of the course!  So note for future trail races that are a bit longer:  do more HILLS!  Long hills, not the short sprints we do in the morning.  And also eat more before the race.  AND... don't start so fast!

Now that I'm done with talking about the race, I'll talk about my love of trail running.  For those of you who don't know, trail running is really what got me into liking running and doing it for fun.  Maybe not just trails, but running in remote places in general.  I like using running as a way to get away from everything... I don't really like running in neighborhoods or busy areas (much to my mother's dismay).  As long as I can remember, I've chosen trails when given the opportunity.  Now, I must admit, while racing, all I could think was "why?? Why am I doing this to myself?  This is killing me, I don't need to do this!  Maybe I can sprain my ankle and be done."  Of course, I didn't really want that to happen, and the first thing I do after a race is start looking for other races.  Call it insanity, or call it an addiction, I don't know!  But I keep coming back for more!  Tonight I was reading the (FREE!) Runner's World Trail Edition that was available after the race and that's actually what gave me the idea to blog.  Sadly I can't remember everything I wanted to say because my mother called.  Oh well.  I think it was just pertaining to what I said :)

  I'm not quite sure what it is about trail running, or running in general, that keeps me coming back for more.  There are so many days when I ask myself why I do it.  Why do I take time out of a Saturday to go run for a couple of hours?  It's not as if I HAVE to do these things.  Most of the time, I'm not even training for a particular race... I still want to do a marathon, but I don't have a particular one in mind because I have no idea if I'll be deploying or not, or what my general schedule will look like in the next few months, so I'm just trying to build my endurance.  As I've mentioned in past blogs, I'm not a super fast runner.  I can max my run time on the Army Physical Fitness Test, and I can place in the top three for my age group in most races, so I'm faster than your average runner who started as an adult (as in, never ran high school/college level track),  but I know people who can outrun me in shorter distances no problem.   This is actually my first time winning first in my age group on a race!  Though I was a bit far off from first overall :)   Despite how much I was hurting on that race, I guess I wasn't hurting as bad as some people, because I was able to keep pushing, and I think that's where my strength lies.  I may not be able to take off sprinting, but I can maintain a pace for a long time, and I'm not one to stop.  I definitely felt like stopping on this race, and I definitely felt sick to my stomach several times, but I didn't stop (well, okay, I did stop for water and Gu).    I remember the first time I placed in a race was in Germany on the Konigstuhl, which was 5.5 miles up a mountain (I know I've talked about this before).  I had no idea I placed anywhere... It was only my second race ever (first being the US Army Europe ten-miler), and I just walked away not expecting any type of award.  It wasn't until someone said they saw my name in one of the newspapers over there as placing third that I had any idea I had placed.   Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, that was also a trail race :)  Anyway, I'm working on getting faster in general... Trying to push myself to do more speed work - as much as I prefer long, slow runs where I push myself to keep going, I do need to work on some more speed :)

So, I guess I kind of got off track from what I was originally going to talk about... trail running.  So to try to salvage that a little bit, there is a certain appeal to it that doesn't exist in other types of running.  I think it's a combo of the beauty of the trails with the extra challenge.  You HAVE to slow down when you're trail running - unless you want to sprain something, of course.  During races, you have to focus on not only trying to maintain speed while going up and down hills, but also focus on your footing.  When I say you have to slow down, I don't mean it gets easier.  No, it's much harder to run slow on some of those hills than fast on the road (as I re-discovered this weekend).  During a regular run, you DO get to slow down and enjoy the scenery.  There were so many times this weekend I wanted to walk and look at the scenery.  It was SO pretty.  The state park where it took place was BEAUTIFUL.  I wish I could go out there again... Sadly, it was 3.5 hours away :(

Alas, I should get some sleep.  I'm debating waking up and running tomorrow morning.... I think it will end up being an afternoon run though :)  A very slow recovery run... assuming I'm still as sore as I was today!  Good night everyone!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Soon-to-be-birthday thoughts

So I guess I haven't written in a little bit, and I figured now would be a good time to write as any.  

  Well, it's almost my birthday and I was just thinking about stuff, some of which I was talking about tonight at dinner, well.... not this in particular, but I was just thinking about it and that provoked my current thoughts.  Something I find myself doing on a regular basis is worrying too much and blowing things a little out of proportion.  As I've gotten older, I've gotten a lot better about this, but I still find myself doing it about small things, that when I look back, I don't see why I thought they were so important.  I look back on things that have happened in years past and I wonder what it was that I was so worried about when those things happened.  Of course there are some things that I understand why I cared so much about them, but most of those things that I worried so much about meant little to nothing in a couple of months, weeks, or even days later.   At least as I get a little older I can recognize that a little bit more.

Another thought I started writing about a week or so ago but never really finished (typical) is my thoughts on adversity.  I guess I'll skip a lot of what I wrote (this is why I never published it... I felt it was too detailed) and say that those things that we think are awful usually turn out to make us stronger in the long run.  I guess that's not a unique insight, but something I've still thought quite a bit about.  This thought spurred as a result of my thinking about making it through West Point and everything I went through there.  Going from being prior service and somewhat of an adult to being a cadet (aka, a child again) was a rather difficult transition, and I went through quite a bit of ups and downs.  Running, the one thing that kept me sane, was taken away when I got injured my freshman year and everything kind of went downhill from there until about... well, junior/senior year timeframe?  At that point I couldn't leave anyways :)  But there were several times I thought about leaving during my first two years, but I'm glad I didn't.  I know I'm not the only one who felt that way, either.  If there's one thing you learn while at West Point, or in the Army in general when you are forced to do things that just suck/are uncomfortable, that everything that is miserable eventually comes to an end.  That year with zero freedom freshman year, yeah, that eventually came to end.  Then eventually I graduated.  Whenever I deploy, that will eventually come to an end too (only nine month deployments now - hooray!)  I would say more about that, but I don't want to put bad ideas into my mom's head :)

I think this rings true more so for people in the military than people who live civilian lives because a civilian can just quit their job if they want... There may be consequences (for example, not being able to find another job), but they have that option.  In the military... not so much.  And you don't have a choice in most of what you do.  But I know this is no surprise to anyone... either way, you are put into situations that are uncomfortable and you just have to deal with them.  Whether it's training and sleeping out in the rain, working twelve hour days without a day off, or merely not being able to take a "sick day" unless you are REALLY sick, you just learn to deal with it.  And then, eventually, you get a break.  And you appreciate the break more than someone who has the option to just leave.  See, so everything that sucks eventually ends AND you appreciate it so much more once it's over.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts I have had recently... Not really new thoughts I guess, but I remembered to write them down (doesn't usually happen) :)  Alas, it is now GRE study time before I go to sleep.  These four a.m. days are killing me!


Friday, August 19, 2011

Thoughts from my Run

I figure I come up with some of the most insightful thoughts and best ideas during my runs.  Sadly, like dreams, I can rarely seem to remember them shortly after the run is over, and I can't exactly write them down during the run (I guess I COULD bring a notebook during my treadmill runs...).  Anyways, I'm going to try to recount a couple from today's run.  Believe it or not, I thought up the idea of trying to blog some of my thoughts during the run (ONE idea I remembered!)

So, this one is my thoughts on why I like racing, and what provoked it.  I was talking to one of my friends the other day who likes to run a lot, and he's fast too.  Another friend and I were talking about racing and I asked him if he ever did any races, and he said no, that running is his time to relax, and racing would basically take that away from him.  Good point.  It's interesting that I like to race because I don't actually like running fast very often.  I like long, slow runs where I can talk or think, and just enjoy where I'm at (which is why I hate the treadmill so much), but then I got to thinking...  There's something about racing that is so cool.  About pushing yourself to a level you didn't think you could achieve.

  I'm by no means FAST... I don't win races, and if you put me against a bunch of competitive college-type runners, I wouldn't stand a chance, but I usually come in toward the top of my age group - somewhere between 2nd and 10th place, depending on how many people/how competitive the race is... I usually average around 3rd to 5th place, so I'm a decent runner.  It just always amazes me at how fast I CAN push my body compared to my usual runs.  I mean, anyone who is my friend on dailymile knows that most of my runs aren't a very fast average.  Most fall into the 9 minute to 9:30 minute mile average, while some of the shorter ones are closer to 8-8:30 minute miles, and the longer ones might be close to a ten minute mile average.  On those shorter ones I always ask myself "How in the HELL was able I able to keep that pace for 13.1 miles???"  My last half marathon was at an 8:05 minute mile average.  Okay, that pace itself isn't SUPER fast, but for that distance, it's a decent pace, and for ME to be able to hold it for that long, I was really really surprised.  The same goes with shorter distances, like 5ks.  The pace I hold for those is usually the same pace I run my longer intervals... Okay, it's a bit slower, but nonetheless, I know when I'm on the treadmill running my 5K pace, I question how I was able to hold that for longer than half a mile.  It's such a mental game.  I just keep going, keep my eyes on the person in front of me... and after awhile, I start passing people as I start feeling stronger.  Around mile 11 or so of a longer race, I feel the temptation to slow down, and I might a little, but not for long.  I think that's why I like longer racing, you have to KEEP telling yourself to keep going.  And then at the end, I am surprised again that I was able to do what I was able to do.  And for those of you who don't know, I do listen to music on most of my training runs, but I DON'T listen to music during races.  I like to be able to concentrate on what my body is capable of, and while I might feel the pain a little more, I kinda like it :)    Now, if I could keep from getting injured and run the miles that I used to run (which was almost twice of what I run now, thanks to my constant nagging injuries), I bet I could do even better! Hopefully that will come in time.  

 One thing I do like about the way I run - I'm rarely ever actually training for a specific race, though I do like racing.  I AM trying to increase mileage again, because once again, I'm going to attempt to do a marathon, though when that's going to happen, I'm not really sure!  It will probably need to be sometime in the spring, or I may be able to do one in the fall (November?  I have to see what happens at my new unit!).  I'm doing a 13-mile long run this weekend, so there would be plenty of time to get up to a longer long run!

So that was a long elaboration on that thought!  Alas, I cannot remember the rest of them... *sigh*...  Tonight is going to be the first time I have gone out dancing in quite awhile!  I think the last time was when I was home.  It's my FIRST time going out here other than going out to dinner.  I did go out in Atlanta a month or so ago, but that wasn't in this area with the people I am at my BOLC class with.  

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fortunate to be here

As I was using tap water to fill my water bottle just a few minutes ago, I began to think how lucky we as Americans are.  With all of this debt-crisis going on, I think we may actually be realizing just how lucky we are to have the luxuries we are.  For so many years we have been in such a high position in the world that it's difficult to imagine being anything BUT a super-power with access to pretty much whatever we want.  But let's look at what we DO have - even if we AREN'T the only world superpower anymore:

- Clean drinking water.  How many countries can claim that?  Heck, even in Europe (or at least Germany... the only place I actually lived), the water is just not good.  Americans are all about their bottled water, but we don't even need it.  It's a luxury.  Having clean drinking water is a luxury.

- Public assistance.  People complain about how "socialist" our country is sometimes, but honestly, we aren't if you look at other countries.  Look at Europe where they are taxed huge amounts.  There is most definitely a discrepancy between classes in the United States, but we have opportunities that other countries do not.  How many other countries have citizens who come from poor families who are able to completely change their paths based on ability without paying nearly half of their income on taxes (okay that might be a bit of an exaggeration).

Most importantly we have freedom.  Sure, we may not have complete access to everything we want, but our country is one of very few where people can legally protest what the government is doing without getting into trouble.  I was talking to a friend recently about what would happen in most other countries if their citizens protested their government and their troops the way people in our country do.   And yet... these people still complain about the country.  It's okay though, it's their right.  As long as our citizens realize just how fortunate they really are to have that opportunity.

Of course, these are only the first few things that I thought of at the moment.  There are many, many more reasons to feel lucky that we are citizens of the United States - despite the negative (and really, where can you live that IS perfect?)    What are some other areas that you can think of what we are fortunate in?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just an update

I suppose I should write a blog because... well... it has been awhile.  If for no other reason than to update on life for those who care :)

So, I'm doing my training.  Currently, it's been all inprocessing, so I haven't learned much of anything.  I've also decided I need to start studying for the GREs.  They are good for five years, so I think I should take it soon, since I'm sure I'll be applying to graduate school in the next five years.  I've also realized how strange it is NOT having much to do.  Now that our physical fitness test is done, I need to work more on fitness.  There is a little fitness area downstairs that I've been using... it is FAR too hot for me to run outside, though I really need to acclimate because I REALLY don't like running on the treadmill for long periods of time.  I run outside in the mornings when I must, but... I'm thinking more on weekends.  Good news is there are trails nearby that I'd like to check out!  :)

What else... well... I guess I've had things to say recently, but I haven't thought to blog them (and now I've forgotten them).

Oh yeah... Army Physical Fitness Test.  I had the WORST one I've had in YEARS yesterday.  It was awful.  I did ten less pushups than normal (and even THAT is worse than usual), about twenty less situps, and my run time was almost a minute slower.  Most people said my score was still decent.  True, it was decent.  But it's human nature - nobody wants to DECREASE in performance.  It's one thing to stay the same, in which case I would've been okay with my score (283/300... for you military savvy people).  But usually I get well over 300 points (extended scale).  So, I was a little disappointed.  Okay, a LOT disappointed.  Part of it was me... I have mostly been running, and I HAVE been doing pushups/ab work recently, but not as much as I should.  Part of it was weather (really hot and humid... I knew that would affect my run), but another part was the standard they used in grading.  It was ridiculous.  I am used to people grading difficultly, but this was RIDICULOUS.  Anyway, for those of you who have taken APFTs, you know what I'm talking about: sometimes if someone has a vendetta against a group, or if they just feel like enforcing OVER the standards for whatever reason, your score suffers.  That's what happened to a large majority of my group yesterday.  Anyways, I guess I can stop talking about it now though since it's been almost two days :)   Point being: it's time for me to get back into better shape.  I probalby still should've maxed my text yesterday, but I STILL wouldn't have done as well as I usually do, which means I am not in the type of shape I should be.  It's one of the few things I have complete control over, therefore, I need to do the best I can, right?

In the meanwhile I was watching Discovery Fit and Health earlier, and the show was about attraction, and discussed the evolution of attraction, etc.  Interesting!

Alas, I have run out of writing topics for now.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

List of Stuff

Okay, so with all of this free time, I have decided to come up with a list of everything I want to do/learn to do.  Obviously, I cannot do most of these things in the week of remaining leave that I have, but seeing as I won't be spending hours of my free time studying, even once I'm off of leave, I will hopefully have some time to do some of what I want to do.  This can be sort of my guide as to what to do when I'm bored and drinking coffee on my sister's living room floor with my laptop open (haha, of course I'm not doing that now...), seeing as I've gone through about five books in the past couple of weeks.  So here goes:

- Learn to play piano (I feel like I've written this down somewhere before)
- Take my GREs.
- Languages: Learn Arabic, at least maintain my little bit of Russian, improve German.
- Actually run a full marathon... yes, this has been on my list FOREVER.  Or about four years anyway.  Hopefully now that I'll actually be getting some sleep, I can actually do it without getting injured. I'd like to do one in the fall.  I think I could easily add an extra seven miles to my long run between now and October.  
- Re-learn cross country skiing/do some more downhill skiing (obviously in winter).  Good thing I'll be in upstate New York where there will be lots of snow - assuming I don't deploy immediately, which may well happen.
- Learn more about areas that interest me, for example:

  •  Psychology-related stuff
  • Geology (yes, I actually loved that class in college, even though most people didn't)
  • Anthropology-related areas.  Other cultures are so interesting to me.
  • And I have a lot more, but those are what comes to my mind right now..
So there you go.  There are lots of other things like hiking that I all ready do that I want to spend more time doing.  Or maybe snowshoeing!  I haven't done that since I lived in Tahoe :)  

Also, there is a possibility that my sister may end up in New York with me at some point, in which case, we're going to hit up some Canada together, as well as some Adirondack mountains.  I love that I have a sister who is as active as I am.  YAY :)  

I suppose I should get on that list now instead of writing about it... haha.  


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brave New World... free will... etc.

As I sit and drink my coffee because I woke up around 3.5 hours before I planned, I figured I would post about the book I'm reading now, Brave New World, and my thoughts on how it actually relates or doesn't relate to the real world.  You may or may not agree with what I post... and it's mostly opinion.  But hey, I'm entitled to that!   I've wanted to read this book for quite some time, as I blogged in another post, and since I finally finished my last book, I've started on it.  I really enjoy these types of books for some reason.  I'm almost a third of the way through (not bad since I just started yesterday, but then, it's not exactly a long/difficult book at the moment).  

  For those who don't know, it's a futuristic book where people are socially/biologically/psychologically engineered to fit into certain classes in society.  There isn't really any free will because the people are basically hypnotized in their sleep to think a certain way.  You can see the characters mindlessly making statements that were repeated to them over and over again in their sleep while they were infants.  Anyways, it got me to thinking.  This is probably going to go in a direction very different from what people are expecting.  No, I'm not going to say that people are going to be socially engineered into becoming passive so the ruling class can completely control them.  No... I think it's actually going the opposite direction and I get frustrated when people assume the government is just controlling us into thinking what they want us to think.  Sure, there is an element of that.... and like my sister pointed out, that is what advertising, consumerism, etc. is all about - making people think they want/need something they don't really want or need so a business can make money.  But there is a difference between people thinking they want to buy something, and people mindlessly doing what the government tells them to do.

I suppose if the world really were the way the book describes it, then yes, people would be completely mindlessly controlled by the government.. Because these people really have no choice because they were born into thinking this way (though at this point in the book you can kind of see where people are starting to question their thoughts a little).  And in a way, the world IS like that.   You are born into a certain class/culture, and you accept what that is.  But it's ALWAYS been that way - there's no new government conspiracy to control our thoughts (and if there is, I guess I don't know about it, which means it must be working).  At least in western cultures we have WAY more access to knowledge than people did hundreds of years ago when they were in their small towns.  Back then the ruling class really DID have complete control over what the peasants/lower classes thought.  And I suppose in less developed countries, it is still this way where people have no access to education, and the government bans books/research/etc. that doesn't support the state goals.  But I get so frustrated when I hear AMERICANS saying the government is brainwashing us.  We have SO MUCH access to information these days and in this country.  Sure, the media tells us what it wants us to think, what sells, yeah, that's true, and of course we aren't going to know everything at the state/national level.  It's called NATIONAL SECURITY.  You have no way of knowing the absolute truth unless you are actually there - this much is true.  It's true that school teaches us what the government wants us to learn - someone determined what they thought we should know in order to be successful, and if you're into conspiracies and stuff, what will help indoctrinate us into serving the "ruling class" (if you haven't noticed, I don't feel this way at all).  But unlike the past, we CAN learn beyond what someone is telling us.  We have so many resources that it's very unlikely we'll be "brainwashed" anytime soon, unless someone actually takes away all of our resources.  I think this rings especially true to me because I have had people tell me that I must be brainwashed (yes, someone told me this) because I'm in the Army.  Really?  How uneducated is that?  I see the same news as everyone else.  I have access to everything everyone else has, except the key difference:  I actually KNOW what the military is like beyond what someone else tells me.  I have friends who have actually BEEN to the Middle East, I have FAMILY in the Middle East - I'm not merely going off of what the media is telling me.  Yes, I have to take orders, but we also learn you don't take unlawful orders.  The people who order those things, and the people who mindlessly follow orders are NOT the norm.  Soldiers still have consciences, despite what so many people think.

OKAY, so... that is my rant.  Feel free to disagree/agree with me.  I know it had flaws, but I'm not trying to turn in an essay with a perfect argument - these are mostly my thoughts provoked by reading this book and things that I have heard other people say, especially in reaction to my being in the military.  Oh, and by the way, the book is quite good!  I recommend it :)


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Well, now that I have time...

I'm actually kinda bored.  I didn't think it was possible, but with everyone working, no car, and none of my family living in the downtown area where I could walk anywhere, there's not as much to do.  I just finished my most recent book.  I would have loved to have run, but I did quite an adventurous ten-mile run yesterday that included lots of hills, trails, public transportation (because I got lost on the trails), a lot of hunger, and a generally very long ten-miles that scared my mom because I wasn't at her work two hours after telling her I was on my way.  So, my knees are not in the best state today (I think the hills did that, since I had been running in Florida, and there are no hills there, I am not so accustomed to them anymore).

  Today was quite an unremarkable day spent in my pajamas reading my latest book that I bought before my plane ride back, Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner, who is one of my favorite authors for light reading.  Well, I guess I wouldn't call it light... the story was pretty sad up until the end, but I suppose it doesn't take a lot of processing to understand what is going on.  I REALLY need to find a book that is mostly happy, but I haven't had much luck in that area... I suppose all good books have something bad happen, but these have all involved a lot of emotional difficulties, and if you're like me, you get really into your books, and take on the moods of the characters, and when you're reading emotional books, that isn't always the best thing.  All of the three books that I've finished recently have involved affairs (though all in different contexts)... not really the happiest thing to read about.  Next on the reading list: Brave New World.  I've been wanting to read it since last summer when a girl in my summer training platoon was reading it (we spent nearly every weekend at Barnes and Noble buying new books).  I have that one along with several others that I acquired before I left Florida, along with books that my sister has (about half of which are books that I read over the summers while I was here and left).

In the meanwhile, I cooked my sister and I some curry with tofu, red peppers, and spinach for dinner :)  And am now relaxing to some music (yay Pandora!) and red wine.  Quite unremarkable indeed, but quite relaxing. I wish I had my music books here, or I'd play my flute.  I have my flute, but my books are all in the trunk of my mom's car... oops!  I do suppose I could download sheet music from the internet and play off of my computer screen :).  As some of you may know, I really want to learn to play the piano, and I think that will be one of my goals now that I am finished with school.  I would love to take lessons, and since I actually know most of the fundamentals of music all ready (and have learned a little about the piano in the past), I'm hoping I could catch on quickly.  Sadly, most of my experience with musical instruments has been with wind instruments (flute, clarinet), but I took up a little guitar back in my teenage years.  The only unfortunate part of playing wind instruments: they don't really go well with singing.

Alas, I'm going to find something else to do with my time besides blog :)


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gradumucation and stuff

So it has been a good bit of time since I have last updated, so I suppose I am due to write about what I have been upto these past few weeks.

Well, first, I finally graduated.  I'm a college graduate.  It seems so strange to say that, though I've finally become more accustomed to it, but right after graduation it was the strangest thing to say.  And possibly, more importantly, I'm an officer now.  Also strange.  On graduation day, after we go through graduation, we change into our Dress Blues and do our commissioning ceremony and get pinned.  After we are pinned, cadets who are walking around will salute us.  It was so strange being saluted, but still really neat.  Since I was enlisted prior to going to West Point, it was even a little stranger for me perhaps, because I was finally on the other side.  Of course, it's been five years since I was really enlisted, so not as strange as if I had gone through OCS (officer candidate school) as an enlisted soldier and 16 weeks later came out as a lieutenant.

After graduation I took a road trip down the East Coast and spent a couple of weeks down in Florida enjoying the sunshine and water, and of course, good company.  It took us nearly a week to make it down the coast because we stopped in several random spots:  Scranton, PA, Virginia (somewhere, I don't remember where), and a couple of places in South Carolina before we made it into Florida.  Florida was awesome: lots of time spent kayaking, swimming, eating really good food, spending time on the beach, and of course running - but not as much running as I would have liked.  Unfortunately, the heat made running difficult except for certain hours of the day.  This is one nice thing about being back in Oregon - I can run more than a few miles without hurting.  Sadly, my lack of running due to finals + graduation + travel and heat means I won't be doing the marathon I had wanted to do at the end of the month, but I still want to do the half.  I HAVE been running, just not the miles I usually run (3-6 mile runs have been the norm as opposed to 6-10, and I haven't done a long run in about a month).

Anyways, now I am back in the Northwest.  Around pine trees and rivers and bookstores and all that cool stuff.  The only bummer is that both my mom and sister now live in more suburban areas instead of close to the city, though my sis isn't too far out, so that is nice.

Now I am going to go back to reading my book since I have spent entirely too much time on the internet this morning :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Updates on life

I have been awful about writing lately.  I suppose I haven't had a whole lot of profound thoughts, or they occur when I'm in the middle of something else and I forget about them by the time I have a few minutes to write :)

Anyways, I am now on lesson 39 of 40 of my final semester of my final year as an undergrad (every semester we have 40 lessons per class).  I can't believe it.  It's going entirely too fast, and trying to finish eveything I need to get finished is about as stressful as doing my school work!  Actually, my school work is mostly done.  I finished my final assignment I have to turn in this morning, so now all I have left to do is study for finals and be done with school!  Unfortunately, I also have to move all of my stuff, pack it, turn-in all of my gear, and clear the installation.  It's a lot to do when all I really want to to do is socialize and go running.  Unfotunately, my running has been lacking since the half marathon.  My calves have been acting up again, and I actually got a pretty bad cramp last Wednesday during what was SUPPOSED to be a six-mile run.  I took yesterday off because I ran six miles on Monday and my calves were really tight again, and I didn't even do the long run I had planned for last week.  On the plus side, I did go hiking on Saturday and Sunday.  I did Breakneck Ridge on Saturday which is a great workout.    I'm hoping to get in at least six miles today - despite the rain :( 

On the other hand, socializing has not been an issue - mostly because that happens at night and does not require working limbs.  And somehow... my grades have managed to survive.  I think it's because I do most of my work during the day... so my days are completely packed for the most part, and then there is free time in the evenings to spend time with my friends.  The way I see it is that in a few weeks I will be seperated from my friends, and while I'm sure I'll see all of them again, it is not likely that we will ever all be in the same location again (minus during reunions or something), and as I've told others, I won't remember the nights I stayed up doing homework.  Instead, I'll remember the times I spent with the people who matter.  So while I may not be at the top of the class, I'm happier this way.  Of course... my grades have actually gotten better, sooooo.... I don't think socializing has had an adverse effect anyways :)

Anyways, I felt like I needed to post an update since it has been awhile.  Alas, now it is time for Counseling class.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flashbacks! Eurotrip 2006/Getting to Germany.

Inspired by a conversation from last night and also Pat's "Flashback Fridays" and "Wayback Wednesdays" I'm going to start occasionally posting blogs that I have written in the past.  For those of you who do not know, I've been keeping a blog since 2003, but then I made it "Friends only" because I didn't want everyone reading all of the personal thoughts I put up there (you get older and wiser, right?)  I don't really use that blog anymore, but there are some interesting things in there.  At least, to me they are :)  And without further ado, here are a few from my time in Germany.  The first one is from when I first got to Germany (befitting I think), and then two from the Eurotrip that I took while I was in Germany right before coming back to the states.  Along with some pictures :) 

Friday, 19 March 2004

Hey everyone,
I'm finally in Germany, and suffering from serious jet lag and nose stuffiness, but this place doesn't seem bad at all!  I like it for what I can tell, except the base is weird.  There are a bunch of small ones... and I have to show my ID card at every entrance into the little ones that are like five minutes apart.  It's hard to explain, but I'll get used to it!  I'm in Manheim where I was supposed to go, but actually it turns out they HAD changed it to the First Armored division or something.  But my sponsor, well, not sponsor, First line supervisor actually who was there with my sponsor, managed to get it changed back to Manheim, he said they needed me here.  Yay.  Except that I'm not on the systems yet!  That worries me.  Anyways I'm at my sponsor's house for a little get together, and I'm LEGALLY drinking some beer, it's good.  Anyways, that's what I have to say for now.  I'm real tired, I haven't really slept more than a few hours in the last 24 hours.  So I'll talk to everyone later!

Nina Rose

Thursday, 08 June 2006

Well, I am currently on my second day in Budapest (hungary), and I leave tomorrow for Split, Croatia.  I started my journey in Vienna (well, technically Mannheim, but that doesn't count), took a day trip to Bratislava with my Vienna travel buddy who I met in the hostel there (hey Larissa!), missed my train I needed to be back in time to go to Budapest, so I had to wait until five hours after my original plan, but it's all right.  Currently I'm in my hostel, everyone else is out, but since I got lost wondering around this huge city I decided that I was tired and wanted to stay in (that, and I'm on a budget, lol).  So, when I get to Croatia I think I will be enjoying lying out on the beaches.  Woohoooooooooooooooo.  After Croatia my plan is Southern France, not sure which city yet though...

So, thus far I've had an awesome time, and I will be continuing on with my journey tomorrow... with a 16 hour train ride from here to Split.

Well, I'm EXHAUSTED, good night all!


Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Okay so I suppose I should put an update out.  For all of you who don't know I managed to kill my two most valuable pieces of portable electronics on my trip (other than my laptop, because I didn't bring it).  Those items would be my cell phone, and my digital camera, so if you need my new #, let me know.  But other than that, I had a great time.  Actually the cell phone was locked in the room on the island I got stuck on for a night... yeah, I did get stranded on an island, lol, but only because I missed my ferry back.  It would've been okay except all of my luggage was in Split (on the mainland).  But I managed to visit Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Split (Croatia), and two islands off the coast of Split, to include Hvar and Brac.  It was a great time, and I now have a nice tan :)  I will load the pictures soon.  I'm sorry I haven't been returning comments- my internet has been down, and prior to coming home I was using internet cafes (moneeyyy).  They are pretty expensive in Croatia, even though everything else was quite cheap. 

So, what else is new you ask?  Well, I am currently clearing the Mannheim community and will be home on the 1st of July.  Woohooo... then starting July 14th, I will be a cadet candidate.  Go me!  I guess... lol.  I'm not looking forward to two more Basic Trainings, really not, but oh well, I guess it will be easier for me than the first time since I've done it once, right? Anyhows, I better get going so someone else can use the internet here.  Everyon have a great week



I will also post some pictures that I took from that trip :)

 --> The view from my window of the island I was stuck on in Croatia (Hvar).

 --> That little area that sticks out is where I spent all day reading and getting tan/sunburned.

 --> I rented a bike and rode around on the island of Brac.

 --> Statue Park in Budapest (or somewhere right outside).  They took all of the Communist monuments and put them in a park.  I remember it taking me all day to figure out how to get to the place using public transportation (which, by the way, is really difficult when you don't know Hungarian).

So there you have it.  Right when I got to Germany and around the time I left.  I'm sure I'll post more of these when I'm sitting in the Soldier Scholar lounge between classes because I'm too lazy to walk up the six flights of stairs to my room when my next class is in the same room as my last class (right next to the room I'm in). 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Battle Command/Mil Art/etc.

I have managed to finish my last "History of the Military Art," or... Mil Art...  paper prior to midnight.  I attribute that success to staying up entirely too late the last two nights.  Now I'm down to two more graded events before the week's end: a presentation for my social psychology class (which we had to actually present to our instructor today, so that's mostly done) and a paper for my colloquiem class (Positive Psychology) about resiliency. 

Tonight we had our first Battle Command Conference speaker.  He was actually pretty good, but unfortunately, I was also pretty tired, despite my three-hour nap today.  After the speaker we went and mingled with some ROTC cadets from other schools and officers.  I'm not terrible good at mingling (despite appearances, I actually get semi-shy in settings where I have to confront people I do not know), but it turned out well.  I got to talk to someone else who is going Finance, but his training is a month before mine, so I'm sure we'll bump into each other again.  It is kind of cool to meet people who you'll be seeing again, which is why these events are kind of cool.  I think a trip to the Firstie will be in order tomorrow night while people are still here.  It's a bit easier to be social and mingle in that setting. 

Oh, it was also neat because I got to meet someone who was mentioned in the book The Long Gray Line, and he also writes history books.  His name is Tom Carhart, and the name actually sounds very familiar, so I looked him up online.  He was a '66 graduate who served in Vietnam and wrote several books about Vietnam.  I'm wondering if his name also sounded familar from what I had read in The Long Gray Line, but I'm not sure because it's been years since I've read the book - as in - I haven't read it since I was enlisted. 

Anyways, now that that paper is complete, and the Battle Command Conference is complete (for tonight... we have a whole day tomorrow), and we have an early wakeup tomorrow, I should actually get some sleep :)


Monday, April 18, 2011

Study break!

Since I've actually been productive today, I don't feel guilty actually taking a study/homework break while I eat my udon noodles and blog.  And since I type quite fast, this won't even take me long at all.... An update beyond just a poem is needed, I think :)

So, first, I am back to my running routine again and managed a 9 mile run this afternoon.  I didn't plan on it, but I was feeling so good that I didn't want to stop.  I looked down at my Garmin, and oh, I was at 4.5 miles :)  I don't know how I managed it, actually, because I got less than 4 hours of sleep last night, and there was definitely some mouth pain in the first mile (that went away), and then it returned very painfully this evening.  I took a Vicodin and it kind of helped... I also drank coffee because I couldn't fall asleep.  Yep, haven't had a nap yet.  I have a counseling presentation tomorrow along with the submission of my plan for a presentation on Thursday.  This is in addition to a paper due Wednesday and another paper due Friday as well as a "Battle Command Conference" when we will also listen to officers talk about leadership tomorrow night and all Wednesday, SO, not getting much sleep this week! It's a good thing I'm graduating in oh... 32 DAYS!!!  Oh, I simply cannot wait, except I'm going to miss everyone.

  I was telling a couple of people how graduation can't come soon enough and yet I feel like it's coming too soon at the same time.  I still have several tasks to finish and I have stuff I still want to do in the area, but very little time to do it.  Like see an opera in the city, for instance.  I intend on doing that before graduation at some point.  This Saturday morning I am running a half marathon here, and then that night I intend on hitting up NYC with the girlies for some final dancing/bar action, since we haven't actually all made a trip to the city yet together.  Friday night, I have no idea.  I'm thinking almost everything I want to do is going to have to happen on a Saturday though because we have events almost every Saturday morning which means I can't really go too far on Friday (though there is still plenty I can do on a Friday!)  I also still want to hit up a few more hikes, Bannermans castle, and I just want to explore more before I leave! 

Anyways, I suppose I am thinking outloud, hence the stream of consciousness.  Must be the combo of lack of sleep + coffee/tea + Vicodin + a LOT of school work.  BUT, I am listening to a very excellent Pandora station as recommended by someone :)  The xx, who I hadn't heard of before ... well... yesterday, but they are awesome!  The station is playing several favorite songs of mine. 

Alas, these are some thoughts from recently - and mostly the past few days and today.  I guess I have been quite busy and if I was to type everything in, this would turn quite long, and would probably bore you, my reader :) 

Now I need to start on actually WRITING this paper... It's about a Vietnam war memoir, Stalking the Vietcong.  It was actually a good book, but unfortunately, it is still a book I had to read in order to write the paper... which meant spending time reading instead of writing and working on other assignments.  That book is why I'm so tired today, because I knew I had to finish it, so I was up into the wee hours reading.

Anyways, goodnight readers!  Time to move onto tasks of greater importance :/ 


Friday, April 15, 2011

About music

So I have been feeling particularly creative lately, for whatever reason.  Based on my recent readings for my social psychology class, that might suggest that I've been socially rejected, but that hasn't been an issue in recent weeks.   Perhaps it's all of the classical music I've been listening to lately.  So here is a poem that I wrote earlier today (or rather yesterday, because it's now past midnight) about a song... or rather, multiple songs. Enjoy.

Drifting away
In clouds of sound
Carried high
Round and round

Fluttering, flying
Through open night sky
Shimmering stars
Reflect through my eye

Dancing, swirling
Attuned to each note
Moving quickly
Now Slow
I still float

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Since I hadn't shared it on this blog... here is a link to me singing at a talent show thing from a couple of months back:

My roommate is the one on piano.  

And now I shall sleep again... I'll tell you what, ballroom dance class while a little high still on Vicodin is one interesting experience, lol.  I did find, however, that chili is quite a good way to get in some protein while unable to eat a lot of real food.  Some disconnected thoughts that I felt I would share with the world.  Now to get some rest.  Goodnight world.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Wisdom teeth and other random updates

Well I finally got the remainder of my wisdom teeth removed (three of them).  My lip is still quite numb, my cheeks are quite swollen, and the left side of my mouth hurts, BUT... it's over!  Well, now there's the recovery period, which means being lazy and not running or anything for a week.  As such, I did a 13.3 mile run yesterday.  I actually felt quite good!  Except my tendinitis kind of started bothering me around 6-7 miles, and as usual, I started getting tired around mile 12, but somehow caught my second wind and finished feeling great.  I actually ran negative splits, which was nice!  And now I've got an entire week to recover!  Woohoo!  And what is essentially a four-day weekend since I am on quarters (meaning, I don't go to classes or anything) for today and tomorrow.   I must say I was quite high this morning, but my escort took good care of me and made sure I ate, took my meds, and left me a note with the time/etc. when I took the meds.  I think I must've slept for about four hours and finally woke up again around 1:30'ish this afternoon and have been trying to get some work done. 

And now... now I'm just absolutely famished, and am sitting here eating strawberry sorbet that I bought yesterday.  I ate a LOT of food yesterday because I knew for the next few days I would be hungry, haha.  Actually I feel a little nauseous, which may be from the pain meds/sedation earlier, but I'm in pain, so I'm waiting for that six hour mark to roll around so I can take some more, and likely pass out for awhile.  And yet I feel like there is SO much to do!  I got very little actually accomplished this weekend, though it was a great weekend.  Friday night was dinner out with friends at a delicious Thai restaraunt that recently opened up nearby (sooo glad there's a nearby Thai restaraunt!!).  Saturday was what WAS going to be a long-run turned really rocky trail run, followed by a cute little diner in the town of Tuxedo, followed by me not wanting to come back because it was such an AWESOMELY gorgeous day, so going up Bear Mountain and taking pictures, followed by hurrying to get ready for a friend's birthday party dinner.  And then yesterday was a friend's bridal shower followed by a long run... So, what might've been a very free weekend actually turned out to be very busy, but in a good way!   

So next up on the agenda: next weekend is Sandhurst weekend, which means two very large BBQs, lol.  Following that is the first annual West Point 1/2 Marathon.  It is comforting for me to know I can still run 13.1, haha.  I seriously doubt I'll be setting any personal records, especially because I won't be running this entire week, but it should be fun.  The purpose is to honor the graduates who have died in combat... I think it's a great idea and am excited to run it - even if we have to do it in our physical fitness uniforms (that are terrible for running).  I'm honoring those who died while in uniform, so I can't really complain there. 

Alas, I should get some more work done until I fall asleep again (which will likely be soon because I'm about ready to take my second dose of pain meds).  I also need to eat some real food... I did buy soup, so that will likely be my next "meal."


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A poem (and procrastination)

Feeling particularly bleh after a slightly crappy day and being quite tired for no good reason, I decided that ice cream would help when Melissa invited me to go eat with her.  It did. And then I came back and wrote a poem, which I just don't do often enough anymore.  The good news is, being tired and feeling slightly melodramatic inspired me to write something that might actually be semi-decent (for some reason my happy poems always suck).  It's called "This Secret." 

This Secret

It’s been some time since I’ve been here
In this hidden spot where I lie
This little secret a little too near

But I won’t let you know
Cause I’m frozen on the outside
And I won’t let it show
                   Through the ice where I hide

                   This is how it’s always been
                   And how it’ll always be
       Hidden inside a wooden den
                   Is this secret within me

                   But put your flame to that frost
                   Watch it melt, watch it burn
                   I might be scared, I might be lost
                   But that little secret you might earn

Okay, instead of writing poems I'll start on this paper that's due tomorrow.  And studying for an exam I have tomorrow.  My motivation to do ANYTHING has decreased exponentially this past week.  Anything except run, that is, and play my flute (which I did with my roommate playing accompaniment on the piano!  I found my accompaniment books!!!) .  I ran today for six miles on the treadmill.  I only ran on the treadmill because I just felt like not thinking about where I was running and drowning myself in music with endorphins (told you I'm feeling melodramatic - I'm even wearing the artsy hat to prove it), and we can't run with headphones on post.  Oh, I'm also listening to my chick-rock/Indie/whatever-genre-you-wanna-call-it... Or hippie-music as my roommate calls it.  Love it. 

And since most of you have no idea I write, or haven't read any of my writing, I'll finish with a couple of other random poems I've written in the past, like...  well, years.  I only had to copy and paste these :)   

Here is a favorite of most people's... I don't remember the title.  I don't really title most of my poems...

Looking at the reflection on the mirror
The past hidden in almost-black eyes
Wondering why in my heart I fear her

Walking through a thick, dark door
Leaving all the old ways behind me
Leaving behind every known horror

Running isn't even fast enough
Needing to get away from that girl
A little farther, just a little more tough

Am I far enough away?
I wonder
To not hear what she wants to say?

Finally exhausted and tired
Forgetting why I'm running
A reason finally being required

I turn slowly around
And there she stands
I can only look down

Eventually I must
Look her in the face
I gaze up with no trust

I am astounded by what I see
Not a huge monster
Only me


Hanging on to the ledge
Hardly grasping
Close to the edge
Swinging up
Then falling down
Fingers slipping
Afraid to hit
The cold, hard ground

Grab my hand
Before I fall
Pull me up
This slippery wall

And if your hand
Lets mine slip
Let clouds soften
The hardened land


I have several more, but I don't know where they are right now.  I think they are on under username nrb2233 if anyone is curious. (  I also have other ones scattered about the internet somewhere...  And in journals... and... yep.

Okay, paper-writing time now.