Do y'all remember back in March when I made a grand proclamation about running a 5k? I was excited, I was motivated, and I had a plan.
I didn't stick to my plan at all, however. I trained a grand total of 8 times between March 20th, 2013 and July 6th, 2013, and the week leading up the race I was nervous as hell. I went so far as carb-loading the night before, until it was kindly pointed out to me that its entirely unnecessary for one person to consume that much pasta for a 5K. In reflection, it really did give me a ton of energy for my 8:40am start time--although that could have been a combination of nerves and the Red Bulls they were giving me too.
I'm about as competitive as it gets, which sounds like a good thing. Problem is, I'm competitive with myself more than anyone else. There is always this little voice in my head that's telling me that I can't do something, that it's too hard, that I should just quit. But then this bigger voice takes over, and it shouts at me in an angry voice that I have to keep going. I have to finish. I can't give up.
I thought that voice was going to kill me. Every time I would stop to walk, that voice would berate me over and over again. I would walk just long enough to stop the lung-crushing pain in my chest, and then I'd be off again. By the finish line, I was more trotting than running.
I finished my first 5K in just under 40 minutes--almost 6 minutes longer than some of my pals that actually run. But it was exhilarating to know that I finished, that I ran my heart out, and that I had a ton of fun doing something that I used to loathe.
Before I left the starting line, the crazy guy with the megaphone told all of us first time runners that the Color Me Rad is a gateway drug, and that we'd be hooked.
The summer before grade six was a big summer for me. My brother was away at summer camp for the first time, leaving me three glorious weeks as an only child. The days were long and hot, filled with adventurous bike rides to the library, the pool, or the village in Oak Bay to spend my allowance. It was the summer of the First Boyfriend (and the First Kiss). My parents were both working full time, so my house was the place to be during the day. We had a trampoline, a kitchen full of snacks, and--best of all--no supervision. We never really got into that much trouble, although we certainly pushed the limits of what was acceptable and what was grounds for discipline.
Our house in Victoria had two floors, with the main living areas upstairs. The lower level was mostly unused, until my brother was deemed old enough to move into the bedroom down there. The house did not have a traditional play room, which was fine as we spent the majority of our time outside anyways. There was one room that was never really used; it's patio doors served mainly as our entrance to the backyard in the summer months. It was sparsely furnished with a TV and a few beanbag chairs, the custom-built bookcase empty save for a few paperbacks that had been left behind over the years. Covering the floor was a rusty shag carpet, it's pile worn down. The doorknob was on backwards, and if you forgot and closed the door it would lock from the outside. The closet was piled high with toys that we had outgrown but refused to give away, and for some inexplicable reason there was a window in it. Less than meter wide, and painted shut by previous owners, it served little purpose other than a place for my mother to hang yet another flowered valance.
In the fall, my mother would cover the patio window with a thick plastic sheet that served as insulation over the winter months. Normally it would be removed before school was out for the year, folded up and packed away until the leaves began falling from the trees. The house did not have air conditioning, so fans were placed in every room to keep us cool in the summer. One year, on this particular year, my mother did not remove the plastic. It was to be left in place over the summer, with the intent of sealing the cool air in and keeping the insects out.
On a day too hot to play outside, Lauren and I spent hours in the room playing. Distracted by our discussions about what grade six would actually be like, we failed to notice that the door had shut behind us; it wasn't until we could hear Lauren's mother calling her to come home that we had realized that we were locked in. Frantically we tried to open the door, banging on it to call attention to our situation. With no parents, and no brother, at home no one was able to hear us. Our only phone in the house was located in the kitchen above us, so it seemed that our only way out was through the sliding glass doors.
I'll never forget the look of horror on Lauren's face when I told her that we couldn't remove the plastic from the patio doors. She stood in the middle of the room; the locked door on her right, the sealed patio doors to her left. The only exits in the room, and she was unable to use either. At first she was livid with me, then she tried to reason with me. We both thought that it would be reasonable to remove the plastic carefully; surely my mom would not want us dying in this room for the sake of her precious plastic sheeting. But in my mind I heard her voice repeating her mantra: "Under no circumstances are to you ever touch this plastic!". My mother's warning won out over practicality, and the plastic was left untouched.
I don't know if Lauren really ever forgave me for not immediately ripping down the plastic to get out of the room. My mom let us out when she got home less than a half hour later. That was the last time that Lauren came over to my house during the day, although we still rode our bikes together and played outside. Our friendship endured my strange compulsion to follow the rules, although we are not as close as we used to be; now, we're just another pair of childhood-turned-Facebook friends.
There are decisions that we make in the course of our lives that, while meaningless at the time, come to define us. Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Ashley, this was the day that I became the person that follows the rules--even when it might make more sense to break them.
For the record, my mom was appalled that I didn't take down the plastic, and told me not to take her rules so seriously. My teenage years? Yeah...those were on you, Mama.
I used to think that blogging was integral to my life; that I would still be typing up posts and sharing gifs well into my nineties. I can't pinpoint when, exactly, so many people decided that blogging was a business. Gone are the days of Livejournal and Geocities pages where you chronicled your life, your passions, your frustrations. All of a sudden people were paying other people to display their blog button, companies were sending bloggers free junk to peddle, and the Internet got a whole lot meaner. Daily posts were not only expected, but had to be filled with custom-designed graphics or photographs that were edited. Blog branding was at the forefront of everyone's minds, and designers cashed in on the trend.
I've paid designers to overhaul my blog, and I've spent hours scouring the Internet for the "right" combination of fonts when it still didn't feel like me. You need three, you know. There are rules. I've lost hours of time in Photoshop trying to figure out just the right nav bar layout, and image mapping my links. I've paid and been paid in the blog ad game.
Guys, I'm exhausted.
Even now, two months after my last post, I'm still left wondering why. Why does it matter, why do I care, why do I miss it? I don't have answers to any of those, but I do know that I miss writing. Whatever that means. I'm not having an identity crisis, or a quarter-life crisis so it feels a little melodramatic to say that there are things that you just need to write down, and not writing them down just isn't an option.
Why do you blog? Is it for fame and fortune, to document your life or your child's life, or just because you have more to say than Twitter can handle?
Music has always played an integral role in my life, so it should be no surprise that I rely on it when I've had a hard day. It doesn't matter why my day has been bad, I always turn to the same songs to cheer me up. As you can see, there really is no rhyme or reason to the list--any playlist with both Drake and Supertramp is pretty random--but all of them will put a smile on my face. Especially Hall & Oates, because how can you not dance to You Make My Dreams Come True??