becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.

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if i’m counting (which i totally am), i’m three days away from my 30th birthday! now i don’t even make resolutions or hopes or wishes on New Year’s because i think that the amount of things that can happen in 365 days is so mind-boggingly vast that trying to predict your progress is just counter-intuitive…but…

i’ve been thinking a lot about my 20s – what happened, what didn’t, what i thought would happen and if it did or didn’t – and relating it to my pending decade of good times and loud laughs.

i turned 20 on the last day of my sophomore year at cornell. seven months later my bulimia and cutting were out of control and i was admitted into renfrew and then, after about six weeks, transferred to a DBT-based program at columbia presbyterian in NYC.

i was 22 when i started my dream degree (voice) at one of a handful of dream schools (hartt).

when i was 25 i started dating somebody. i fell in love with her. i started to think about things like marriage and babies and happily ever after. i graduated from college, got into grad school – two, in fact! – and accepted a spot at the university of kentucky. 25 was a good year.

at 26 i moved 750 miles away from everything i had ever known, to start my master’s degree. i was 26 when i got engaged. i met people who grew to be cornerstones in my life.

and then 27 hit. my mom died. my family self-destructed. “i love you, don’t ever leave me” turned into “you’re not being fair, i can’t be with you any more.” i successfully defended my master’s thesis and graduated, but missed the ceremony because i had my leg sawed into by a wonderful surgeon whom i adore even though it sucked.

with 27 barely in the rearview, 28 brought the decision to stay in lexington another three years and become a PhD student. most of 28 was overshadowed by knee rehab; my physical therapist and my advisor kept me sane and alive that year.

on my 29th birthday i found out that what i had thought was just a bump in the road in my grandma’s health was actually terminal. i sat on the tennis court outside the gym and cried for an hour that day. i went home and booked a flight to florida to visit; it would be the last time i would see her.

the same week my grandma died, i started training with my powerlifting coach – i was actually driving home from our first session when my dad called to tell me grandma had passed away. i broke 5 state powerlifting records while i was 29. presented at my first professional conference, visited texas for the first time, and successfully completed my PhD coursework.

after the crap that was 27, i’ve found myself hopelessly smitten with somebody and it’s weird and surprising and a whole lot of fun.

i have no grandiose ideas for my 30s. i don’t necessarily want to: get married, have babies, buy a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. maybe i will! and that would be cool. but if i don’t, that’s just as cool.

in 3 days, i’ll turn 30. i’ll teach a sunrise yoga class at 630am and i’ll run sprints a little before nine. after i crawl back to the gym i’ll foam roll and shower and i’ll spend the rest of the day at the library, studying for my qualifying exams. my uncle will call at some point, and my dad will too. when the library closes at five i’ll go home and have dinner and look at my training schedule for the next day.

at some point while i’m 30 i’ll pass my qualifying exams and maybe even get a dissertation proposal approved. i’ll start applying for sabbatical replacement positions and for fellowships.

i’ll lift a lot of things and i’ll laugh a lot. probably loudly, because that’s how i roll.

you never know how the chips are going to fall. am i happy that 27 went the way it did? of course not. but am i in love with the way my life is in the last three days of 29? you better freaking believe it. and i’m going to try my damnedest to make 30 just as great.



the obligatory airport post.

as always seems to happen when i fly out of lexington, i made it through security in 3 minutes (NOT complaining!) and now i have an hour and a half to chill and enjoy free wi-fi.

and as always seems to happen when i have an hour and a half to chill with free wi-fi and no grading or papers to write(!!) i shall blog instead.

2012 was a year of heartache. mom’s passing, my fiancee calling it quits, and then i had to have this little surgery.

2013 has been, largely, a year of healing. in the most literal sense, my bionic knee has slooooooowly been working its way back to normal (even though it will always be a bit crunchy). i even ran a sub-8:00 pace half marathon!

when my grandmother got sick, i started crying on may 1st and pretty much didn’t stop until after the funeral two months later. losing her not only broke my heart, but in a way i grieved twice – for her as well as for my mom. when mom died i was so busy being strong, being graceful, being in shock let’s be honest…that i didn’t leave myself room to grieve. so when i knew i was losing my grandmother, the floodgates opened and 18 months’ worth of sadness got funneled into those eight weeks.

this is the year i finally realized that i don’t need my relationship back. i am more than okay on my own; i have everything i need in the people in my life right now.

and this is the year that i finally began to find myself and be okay with what i discovered.

oh, and this is the year i got strong. like, in the physical sense. if you’re reading this i could probably deadlift you, and maybe squat you too. i have two state records and just recently lost my top-10 national ranking in deadlift – which i full plan to recapture in april!

it has been a good year. i am grateful for my students, my faculty, my family, my friends.

wishing everyone a wonderful holiday – time for me to get on a plane!




how to heal during the holidays.

two years ago, on christmas day, my family spent the day at my grandmother’s house. she had bought eggnog and kept telling us to drink it, she had bought it especially for us; finally my dad buckled and poured himself a glass. he took a huge gulp…and proceeded to launch his 6’5″ self across the living room straight to the kitchen sink, where he spit out his eggnog and made a lot of dramatic gagging noises.

“ma, the eggnog’s bad!” he says, still spitting (so dramatic!). then he picks up the carton to check the expiration date.

“ma…you bought EGG-BEATERS!”

at which point my mother started laughing so hard she fell off of the ottoman.

this is, without a doubt, one of my favorite family holiday memories. maybe i remember it so vividly because it was damn funny. but maybe, retrospectively, i’ve clung to it because less than two weeks later, my mother was dead. suddenly and inexplicably, just five days into the new year.

now my grandmother is gone too. i actually told this story in the eulogy i gave at her funeral this summer.

my mother loved the holidays. she loved baking, making candy, she loved giving people things just to see their reactions. on thanksgiving night we would all sing “it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas” on the car ride back from my cousin’s house, and mom would put her favorite christmas CDs on pretty much non-stop from then until december 25th.

while i was driving home from campus today i saw a few houses with lights out, even an SUV with christmas bulbs strung through the cargo rack on its roof. and try as i might, i cannot find it in my heart to be excited for the holidays.

ever since mom died, christmas has done nothing but make me so goddamn sad. and now that i don’t have grandma, either, it’s like the hole in my heart is magnified.

i want to be excited, to enjoy the holiday spirit, to feel that little buzz of excitement you get when you know something wonderful is waiting just around the corner.

but i hear bing crosby singing “white christmas” and all i can hear is my mother singing along. i see baking supplies in bulk and on sale and i’m flooded with the smells of mom’s candied walnuts, fudge, and trays upon trays of cookies. i see trees and garlands and decorations and i think about how my grandmother dubbed me “santa” and bought me my own hat when i was a kid, and i was in charge of distributing the gifts on christmas eve since i was the youngest and had the most energy.

when i went home this summer i packed that hat, along with the ornaments my mom made and all of her recipe cards, in one of my bins of things to keep when we sell the house.

i want the holidays to be a time of love and laughter. but two of the three people i love the most aren’t here any more, and somehow the holiday season seems to augment that void. which means that instead of singing carols and baking cookies and decorating a tree…i kind of want to curl up under my covers and not come out until spring.

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i had been meaning to make a “how i like 5/3/1 so far” post…and then my first cycle ended (how time flies!) so now that seems silly.

BUT i’m running a second cycle, and it started today! i pulled 225# for 8 reps and it was awesome. and i may have peed a little on the last rep.

i also bought these awesome and obnoxious leggings and wore them to train today.

Photo 104they’re a combination of paint splatter and camo haha. also, i had just finished eating a pizza prior to taking this photo. (yes, a pizza. an entire one. it was delicious.)

all in all i liked my first cycle of 5/3/1 well enough. pulling for reps sucks though, my hands have never been so destroyed between that and all of the pull-ups and rows. i finally bought some harbinger straps just to save me on high-volume pulls. the accessory option i chose is also really high volume, which sucks in practice (5×15…really?!) but i’ve put noticeable size on my shoulders and back, so it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing!

i also hit an awesome milestone last friday! i told my coach i wanted a 300# pull for christmas, so “for fun” after we did a shit-ton of box squats we decided to do some rack pulls.

and i pulled 3 plates (315#) for three triples. but even more awesome…the bar bent!! i have always secretly wanted to be badass enough to have the bar bend on one of my deadlifts. now for that 300# pull from the floor!

besides straps, i also decided it was time to purchase some chalk, since my gym decided to finally allow it. however…

Photo 105the description said “one pound of chalk.” i figured, one pound, not a lot at all! i was wrong. i am now the proud owner of enough chalk to last well into my 40s. thank goodness it came packaged in 2-oz blocks.

in other news…we have two more weeks of classes, then finals, then DONE. i submitted five conference proposals today (12/1 is a common deadline) – yale, cinci conservatory, texas, MTSE in tampa (i think?), and MTMA (which this year is in virginia…which i don’t really consider to be the mid-atlantic…). oh and indiana, too. there’s another round of deadlines around the 15th, and i’ll have a couple more papers done by then and might consider prepping abstracts for those instead.

my holiday travel is booked. i’m already having a hard time thinking about christmas. last year was my first one without mom; this year my grandma’s gone as well. and they both (my mom especially) really loved the holidays, so it makes it extra hard.

i hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!!

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i’ll leave the light on.

i can’t adequately sum up my two weeks at home/my grandmother’s funeral/how i feel being back in lexington. but i’ll hit some highlights and thoughts just the same.

  • i firmly believe, now more than ever, that people reveal their true colors in times of duress. the thing is, though, it’s not when they’re the center of the distress; it’s when they’re one or two circles removed. that, i have found, is when you see somebody for what they’re really worth. so they offer the person/people most affected comfort and support? or do they freeze them out, minimize the situation, or try and make it all about them? i saw a lot of that these past few weeks, and it was really sad and disappointing.
  • my dad and i went through our entire house and decided what we’re tossing, what we’re donating, and what we’re putting in storage until the cabin is built. it was difficult to go through mementos and things that had belonged to my mom. i kept one of her sweatshirts, all of the christmas ornaments she made, and a stuffed puppy i found that had one of those customizable sound recorders. i squeezed his ear and i heard my mom’s voice saying “i woof you!” i think i cried for a solid hour after that one.
  • between running a baby smolov jr. on my squat for the two weeks i was home, and driving 2000 miles in fourteen days, my hip flexors waged war. i went to my PT to have them scraped today and the bruises that are forming are horrific. i would show y’all a photo, but being all up in my hip joint is not appropriate for the interwebz.
  • i brought back tons of stuff for my apartment. tomorrow morning instead of lifting i’m going to make coffee and unpack/organize. and it will be glorious.
  • i definitely need to have a tooth pulled and the clinic at the university that offers cheap dental care because it’s done by DDS students doesn’t open until the semester starts. so until then i’ll be eating on only one side of my mouth and trying to not aggravate the issue by poking at my gums and generally behaving like a kindergartener picking a scab.
  • i cannot wait to see my dad and my uncles again.

i’ll be back to my regular blogging randomness shortly!

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the day after tomorrow i will drive home. this hasn’t really, completely hit me yet, and i’m still wrapping my head around the idea.

it’s a 12-hour trip. i already set aside my black dress and shoes, since the funeral is friday.

yesterday i finally sat down and wrote what i’ll say at my grandmother’s service. it’s not too terribly long, has some funny elements, and it’s pretty much good to go with little editing from here on out. i went to panera after i lifted and wrote it there. good, because i focus better in public places; bad because i cried buckets and had to attempt to hide that from everybody.

today is pretty open and i’ll spend it cleaning and beginning to pack. i just got new tires, so the JettaJalopy will make it to NY in one piece.

it’s strange to look back and see how much my visits home have changed in the past 18 months. christmas of 2011 it was a full family, k included. my father accidentally drank eggbeaters instead of eggnog at my grandmother’s house that christmas, and my mom laughed so hard about it she fell off the ottoman.

less than two weeks after that she was dead, and the one thing that had stayed stable since then was that whenever i went home, i could always go to grandma’s house, with its comforting smells and always-full cookie jar.

this past thanksgiving i ran a 5k in the morning and then dad was going to his girlfriend’s family’s house for a while so he dropped me off at grandma’s so i could shower and we could go to the family dinner together. after i had finished getting ready we were sitting on the couch talking and i don’t know how the conversation went where it did but without me even saying anything she knew how much i hated that he was running around with somebody else. and she didn’t judge me or tell me i should be happy for him; she held me and cried with me.

that was the last time i was home, and it was the last time i saw her outside of a hospital.

our house is on the market now, so i don’t know when i’ll going back up again. i’m just hoping to get there safely and that the days pass as painlessly as possible.


recap and precap.

in a nutshell: my grandmother passed away on friday and i have had zero interest in the internet machine. on thursday i wrote her what i knew was going to be the last letter i would ever send. i mailed it to her, but also emailed it to my uncle, who read it to her that night, because we were pretty sure she wouldn’t make it until it arrived on saturday.

we were correct.

i have cried so much since thursday that my eyelashes have been falling out.

my uncle asked if i would speak at the funeral, which is next friday.

i’m driving home on tuesday.

i have a race tomorrow and it’s supposed to be a complete washout but i don’t care. i’ll run in a monsoon. i need to just lace up and go.

i’ll be back, and i might even write something coherent and possibly witty or thought-provoking. but right now i’m going to cry some more of my eyelashes out as i head to bed for my early race-time tomorrow.