Thursday, September 17, 2015
Monday, May 25, 2015
My mom thinks I'm cool:
On geekery, nerding-out and shameless introspection.
Today is a lot of things. A military holiday, a day of remembrance, and also National Geek Pride Day. (It's also Towel Day, for Douglas Adams, which might be related.) May 25th is here, and I, for one, welcome our geeky overlords. "Geek culture" is something of a phenomenon, if you consider the fact that it's taken around 35 years, half-a-dozen geek billionaires, and Simon Pegg for it to be considered a good thing.
So what's the deal with "not fitting in" being suddenly "in"? Maybe our group has collectively transitioned into adulthood together, and like the baby boomers, is now too powerful and large to ignore? Or, maybe geek culture has simply brought too many good things to society when they needed it most?
To be honest, I've been thinking about writing this post for a few weeks. It's been on my mind and I need to get it out. Coming out as a geek isn't quite as big of a deal anymore, but it still feels good to do so. I even have a friend who's been encouraging me to put some thoughts into a formal presentation. I'm not so sure geek-life would make a good subject, but I just may do it - if I ever find the time. But, before I do, I just wanted to put a few things on paper (or, the online equivalent) and share them to absolutely nobody.
First, as a geek, it is your duty to patronize your heroes - whoever they are.
Last month, on a whim, I learned that a comedian I liked was in town. The day of, actually. It's a good thing too, because if I'd heard about it with a few days to chicken out, I would have chickened out and stayed home. Anyway, we went to see Rhys Darby perform stand up at Club 50west in SLC. I'm a stand-up geek who's never popped the cherry and made it to a live show (too nervous). The venue was really small and intimate and the show had no opening act (unless you count the owner telling 5 minutes of jokes - they were good jokes, though). We had been drinking a lot, and continued to do so, but overall, it was the single funniest night of my life. I have no idea what I expected, but suddenly Murray from Flight of the Conchords (I am such a geek) came out and told stories about being in the army, getting high in Thailand and being married. He did tons of voices and sound effects and I was absolutely dying. After the show, he came out and mingled and I bought his DVD (he signed it!) and took a photo with him. He was so nice. I was an absolute geek and, you know what—it felt really good.
|Be cool, Lindsay!|
Speaking of Rhys Darby, that DVD I bought was pretty good. Although, I was ashamed to learn after I'd met him in person that he was a bit obsessed with robots. Damn, we could have bonded. Anyway, the act in his show had a some similar material, but it was still good. One thing he talked quite a bit about in the DVD was the fact that he was such a nerd. Growing up, it was hopeless. And, it only got worse when he grew up and people just thought he was really weird. He told this great bit about trying to impress girls at a night club and having his wallet stolen. He had his own "dance routine" to impress the ladies, and although it scared most of them (all of them) away, one girl thought it was cool. That one girl ended up marrying him, and it was such a cute story. The moral, of course, being not to change for everybody, because you're bound to impress somebody. Plus, that somebody just might be the one person who actually, really and truly, gets you. The real you.
Yes, we are being co-opted.
So, I also love Simon Pegg (who doesn't?). And Simon Pegg has a great book about being a nerd called Nerd do well. But, Mr. Pegg recently got some flack about some comments he made on a press tour. I fucking love this guy, because–rather than having a canned PR statement—he explained himself. Yes, he's been taking issue with the fact that geek-culture has been co-opted by marketing experts. It's just reality. Yes, he greatly benefits from this in many ways. But, he wasn't afraid to talk openly about it. Being non-apologetic about the things that you are passionate about is what makes you a geek—not your ability to hide them and stay PC all the time.
So, why do I identify as a geek?
Well, I don't know. I just do. Here are a few examples:
When I was a child, I became obsessed—OBSESSED—with sharks. Why? No clue. But, I checked out every single book available at each library in my home town. I was teased mercilessly for being a science geek at school. I was always espousing science facts. I mean, I loved learning science stuff, and I figured everyone else did too. (Not so, apparently.) I have a thing for smart people. Really. I actually do. When someone is really good at what they do, or they are super-duper intelligent, well, it turns on more than just the lights in my head. Even if it's just knowing all the facts about the movie Jaws. Seriously. I had to beg my coworkers to let me blog about that, by the way, and I spent all day—on my holiday—writing about it. Because I fucking love it, that's why. And, they may not even use it. I don't even care!
I feel like I could go on and on. But, I'll just say this. Geeks and nerds are good people. They're great at trivia. They remember all non-essential facts and never, ever forget when someone was kind to them growing up.
"We derive the greatest value not by seeking to build a better case for ourselves. Instead, we do so by understanding better what we value most — meaning, what we stand for most deeply and who we really want to be. Then we use that conviction and those skills in the service of others." - Tony Schwartz (source)
Sunday, May 17, 2015
I'm not that sold on the idea of "winning." Some of us will never be heroes. We'll never win a race. Fuck, I just ran a half marathon trying to keep up with a bunch of much faster, fitter people and it almost killed me. I'll never make the racing team, and I probably won't be famous (still holding out on that one). I guess there's just something that the majority still...lacks.
I mean. Our priorities are definitely out of whack.
We'll never be able or willing to devote 100% of our efforts to what really matters.
We just aren't willing to sacrifice the right things.
And, we just don't work hard enough.
Obviously we don't put in enough effort.
Right? Or...maybe some of us just don't give that much of a fuck about impressing everyone. Maybe some of us are OK with having a 2 hour half-marathon be a "win"...even if it's not as impressive as everyone else.
Maybe it's just running and not worth giving your whole life up for.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
For those of you pretending to know what it means right now, and those who genuinely don't, it means, "Fuck it. Let's do it."
I love that sentiment. Fuck it. What's the worst that could happen? It's the kind of pseudo-optimism I can really get on board with. I've never been comfortable with being hopeful. Optimism does not come naturally to a cynic. Sometimes I worry though. The chorus in one of my favorite songs states, "It's hard to take risks with a pessimist."
I think I still take risks. It's just that usually I take them when I no longer care. Fuck it, let's see what happens. Classic Tyler Durden mentality: it's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. Maybe that's negative. I can see that. But, it's always felt more natural than gleeful, happy optimism. I've never trusted that. I probably never will. I feel like, when times are tough, and the shit hits the fan, I'll be the one with the advantage. Happy people rarely see it coming. Cynics not only see it coming, but they're already one step ahead and making gains. I guess it's just human nature; everyone is different. I just wish there wasn't this constant push for everyone to embrace 'happiness.'
Not everyone is looking for an easy job, a life full of bliss, or an unchallenged experience.
|No good reason to include this picture other than it's awesome.|
Friday, April 17, 2015
Here you are. Running in the desert.
You haven't trained and you don't want to be here. But, somehow, you've found yourself running an ultra-marathon in the middle of nowhere. It'd be funny if it didn't keep playing out this way.
Ryan and I signed up for the Zion 50K back when it sounded like a good idea. But, I ran a race last month and haven't had the ambition or desire to get out again since. Before we knew it, the race weekend was upon us. We had a big fight before we left town and didn't speak for most of the 5 hour drive down. Once we checked into our hotel, we had another big fight.
"Fuck it, let's just go home."
"I'm not driving back another 5 hours now, don't be ridiculous."
"Grrrr...I hate EVERYTHING!"
We went out for dinner with friends who were at a loss for how to interact with such terrible, grumpy people. Then we went to bed. Getting up at 4 am has got to be the stupidest part of this entire sport. We got pulled over on the way to the starting line—which was absolute bullshit—but didn't get a ticket. I was so freaked out by the small town cop in Hurricane, Utah who, if I can believe anything John Krakauer has written, was most likely an elder in his local FLDS ward. We got to the start, checked in and, before I knew it, started racing. I'm not sure how, or why, but I finished. I actually did OK. It was a tremendously difficult course and my heart was not in it. Regardless, I survived. I knew that the experience would be both painful and punishing. But, I felt like I deserved it. Without letting all my hopes and dreams ride on the outcome of one race, I still couldn't help thinking it might be the thing that saved me from myself.
|This is the longest hill.|
Here are six epiphanies I had during my most recent ultra-marathon, Zion 50K.
1. Yes, this is really fucking happening.
I did not want to be at this race. At the start, I had the worst attitude. I expected to get lost, to drop, to suck; basically, I was expecting the absolute worst. Just before we began I said, "I hate EVERYTHING!!!" to my friends who tried their best to cheer me up. We started in the dark and ran a few miles on the road through town. A gradual ascent took us on a dirt track towards an 1800 foot climb to the top of Gooseberry Mesa. I stopped a few times before the climb and tried to pull my hair out. What am I doing out here? I haven't trained. I hate EVERYTHING. I suck at life. I'm a bad person. Is this really happening? The Answer: Yes. This is really happening. You are running a race in the desert. You're 4 miles in! And like it or not, your feet will carry you—kicking and screaming—for 32 miles. Suck it up.
|Burn in Hell, headlamp.|
I got this Nathan headlamp 5 years ago from my work. It was a gift and it has always sucked. New batteries be damned; this thing isn't half as bright as my little iPod nano screen, and the batteries only last 5 minutes. I got to the top of the climb, the sun came out, and I smashed it to bits under a rock. Then I threw it away. This was a zero waste event, so I'm sure it's being recycled right now. I hope it gets reincarnated as a toilet seat.
|Starting to feel better.|
Somewhere between mile 3 and mile 7, I started to let go. I know part of the reason I was running so angry had to do with my constant search for validation. I realized, in a way, that the people who cared about me were here. The ones who didn't would continue to blow me off and flake out. But, it would be OK. My recent, self-destructive behavior aside, I was still out here running in the dirt. I know a lot of people who think that running must be pretty easy for me. I do it so often and I do these insanely long events. But, they're wrong. I did really well in school too and got good grades. Because I wasn't struggling, my family assumed it all came easy to me. It didn't. It was still a lot of work. It's probably this reason that I flew under the radar growing up. I was always killing myself to exceed my parents' expectations, but they probably just assumed I was barely trying. Running a big race like this, I hoped it was obvious that I was still trying. But I guess not. It made me want to keep going instead of dropping out.
|Do you see it too?!|
4. Even though you don't want to eat. You gotta eat.
I ran the first 10 miles without eating or drinking. I didn't want to be here, remember? I figured I could drop at any time. Well, after I realized I wasn't going to drop, a strange thing happened. I kept seeing this large plume of black smoke just out of sight. As I got closer, I realized it was a windmill. I've been on this mesa before and didn't know there was a windmill out here. Was it real? Probably. But, was it supposed to be dancing along to my music? No. No it is not. You are hallucinating. Start getting some calories in.
5. Life is short. Get in the tub.
The RD's eco-commodes were present this year with the addition of a large water tub. Yes, I got into cold bath water connected to a wood-framed outhouse trailer. With strangers. I haven't contracted Typhoid yet, but I hear that disease takes a while to show up.
|Is racist? Is racist.|
I saw several sister wives and polygamist kids during my two days in southern Utah. The LDS community will tell you that Polygamy is so over and that the FLDS have *absolutely* nothing to do with them until they're blue in the face, but it doesn't change the facts. There's still an entire community of women subjugated to the damning effects of misogyny. It's 2015 and these women are
After the race, I felt better. Ryan and I were OK. (Hey, as long as we both run an ultra-marathon each month, we're gonna be fine. It's totally sustainable, right?) We stopped to get a post-race donut and headed back home. We were doing better and could begin being nice to each other again. I guess we needed that. I haven't been running and its really gotten to my head. This is my therapy right now, and I guess I was overdue.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
I signed up for this race because it's always a blast. I run it every year. It's a safe bet that the scenery will be spectacular, the volunteers amazing and the finish line festivities mildly debaucherous. I volunteered a few days earlier with the HUMRs for packet stuffing. We always find a way to put junk into our friends goodie bags when we come across them in the line, and this year was no different.
|Sorry about the glitter folks. #notsorry|
So, I showed up early to run, beginning with the 50K starters, so I'd have time after the race to join Corey's band. Before I left my car, I emptied my race pack of all the crap I'd brought: food, phone, gels. It was cool at the start but I didn't notice. I didn't notice a whole lot. But I'm fairly sure the following list will back up my theory of insanity.
1. About 4 or 5 miles into the race I realized I had been running a race. It was like I'd suddenly woken up. "What the fuck am I doing out here?"
2. After an hour or so, I realized I probably should drink some water...maybe eat. I'd left a few starbursts in my pack and had one. I wasn't hungry.
3. I gave people who were running the opposite direction hugs. I said "good job" to anyone I saw. It's the one thing that gives more energy than it takes.
4. I think I fell asleep on the steep switchbacks in the back of the island.
5. When I ran into Sami, she said I was doing well. I had no idea. I knew I had 5 miles to go, and if I ran them in 50 minutes, I might beat 3 hours on the course...but, I wasn't sure that I cared.
6. I kept hopscotching this woman running with her dog. Everytime she'd get the lead I would say, "Good job." She said nothing to me. She didn't even have head phones. I wanted to beat her. I did.
7. When I finished, I started drinking. Running 16.5 miles on a starburst and then drinking in the hot sun is not a good thing. I missed a lot of details later...
8. I got to sing with Corey's band. I wanted to do it so bad. But, by the time I did, I felt stupid. I'd probably had two beers too many. I wish I hadn't had those beers...
I think about this a lot, because I see people chasing it. We spend tons of money, time, and effort in hopes of finally mastering it. But, I've never run into someone and said, "Oh, they've got it. They found it. They won." If I did, I probably wouldn't trust that person; walking around with a big dumb smile on their face all day, mind full of butterflies and unicorn shit.
Isn't it more important to have something to look forward to? Or, to set yourself up for a challenge that might break you? Isn't that better? Who wants to be content?
I ran the race in 3:12:59...one second slower than last year. It felt a lot easier. I sang in a band. I saw friends. These are the things I look forward to. These are things that keep me going. I'll never master happiness. But then again, I'm not sure I want to.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Ryan and I run the Red Hot 55k/33k each year in February. This year's race fell on Valentine's day, which made it extra cute (I guess, if you're into that sorta thing). Ryan's had an injured hip, so he suggested dropping from the 55K to the 33K and running with me.
Well, this was an interesting proposition. Normally I am completely against couples running together. I look forward to this race all year—would this sour my experience? Would we fight? Would I hold him back? True, there were a lot of things I was worried about. Then again, Ryan knew I was going for a 4 hour finish. He could probably really push me to a new PR. As long as he was OK with us playing it cool and splitting up if we needed to, then I was in. Besides, the idea of him doing the 55K and getting injured sounded like a bad idea.
We drove down to Moab on Friday and realized it was super hot. The morning of the race, it was already warm. By the time we started running, I had to take off my long sleeve after 3 whole minutes.
Did I mention how much I love this race? The course is exceptionally beautiful: red rock cliffs, high mesas, dramatic overlooks. It has a ton of uphill and Ryan kept telling me to slow down and hold back. I was breathing really hard and couldn't seem to catch my breath. This never changed and, looking back, I think my asthma must have been looking forward to the race too.
|Couples who run together...run..together?|
Oh water, I've taken you for granted my whole life!
At the finish, my chest hurt so bad I was sure I was having a heart attack. I coughed up sand for a few hours as we watched our friends finish strong. On the way back to our hotel, I stopped and got my traditional celebratory donut.
A lot of things go through my head when I'm racing. I think about my friends and family. I time travel. This time last year, I had a long road ahead of me. Looking back over the past 12 months, I'm saddened at how much hate I've carried around in my heart. It's been a strange year. A lot of things have changed. Friends have come and gone, I've switched careers, and people I know have been through a lot. I think I take on a lot of pain and sadness that isn't mine. I have a hard time with change. I'm working on it. I guess I also thought this race was going to ... I don't know, save me?
Like, I'd show up, do really well, and be absolved of all my sins in 2014. After the race, it was pretty clear that wasn't the case. I had overwhelming anxiety and my heart felt like I was falling down an elevator shaft. I put on a brave face and went out with friends. Sunday morning, I thought I had enough energy to go for a 10 mile run in the park. But, when I tried, I couldn't breathe. I had a good enough excuse, sure; I'd pushed really hard the day before and one of my toenails was falling off. But in reality? I was scared.
|Jackie in the Alcove|
It wasn't until later when we met up with friends and explored a new trail that it happened. Things got quiet and no one had to say anything. It was so nice. Ryan and I sat on a log next to our car and watched the clouds drift by. Those clouds were the most important business of the day.
..."This is it, " I thought "This is what I've been waiting for all weekend. All year. Just this moment." I was suddenly sad that the race was over. I'd been building it up for so long. I was so worried about the whole weekend—the ghosts from last year lingering just outside the lines. And now? Now, it was over.
I panicked for a second and asked Ryan, "How am I going to remember this moment next time I need it??!! I wish I could bottle this!" The sun was extremely warm, the breeze just right. It was quiet. My heart rate slowed down and my chest didn't hurt anymore.