December 31, 2012

2012, we did all right

What a year! It is safe to say that this year turned out very different from what I had thought. And I couldn't be happier. In order to not write the Longest Post Ever, I'm just going to recap my goals that I set for 2012.


1. Do something ridiculously nice for someone. Complete, though the majority of my acts of kindness are centered around my grandparents.

2. Make cards and mail them to people that make my life awesome. Failed. Big time. Sorry, USPS.

3. Try new restaurants. Definitely did this, much to the detriment of my bank account. My new favorites include Tilia, The Bachelor Farmer, Cafe Maude and Blackbird.  

4. Read books. I completely failed to make time to read anything besides blogs and running magazines. Next year...

one time deals

5. Paint something to hang in my apartment. Done.

6. Get a tattoo. Done. (Pictures to come.)

7. Go skydiving. Failed. I still want to, though.

8. Go one week without buying anything. I kind of forgot about this one. Oops.



9. Expand my vocabulary. I've kicked my cursing habit which was sort of the point to this one anyway. Sometimes I'll throw around big words like obstreperous (but that's typically in reference to Colleen).

10. Simplify, simplify, simplify.  Moving twice totally helped with this. I feel delightfully purged.

11. Travel. India was the big one. Redding and Chicago were fun. Other than that, I was comfortably home in MN.

12. Get stronger, faster and healthier. 2012 has been a year marred by injury (um, hello pulmonary embolisms!) and I never quite found my footing. It became a dream of mine at one point to run a very fast (relative term) marathon but I need to evaluate whether or not it's still one I want to pursue.

So what will 2013 bring? Probably not a list of thirteen goals. 

Last year at this time, I was desperate to get out of a rut that I found myself in. Setting goals helped me look toward the future, one I knew would look different than what I had wanted. To sum it up, 2012 has been a year of release.  There is no more looking back, no more wondering what if.

2013, we're going to have a great time.

December 21, 2012


Yesterday was a day that I've been waiting for for weeks: Grandma's doctor appointment. I knew it would be integral in determining next steps.

On the five minute ride there, she asked three times where we were going. When we got there, she asked five times why we were there, eventually whispering the question to my dad because Grandpa started answering with Ger, please..., a sign that his patience with her was wearing thin. 

When we were called into the exam room, Grandpa stayed behind and my dad and I went. The nurse took Grandma's weight and blood pressure and asked her if she felt safe in her home. Yeah, why wouldn't I? she answered. 

The nurse asked if they were living alone. Yes, was Grandma's quick reply.  I added in the parts she doesn't remember: that my dad and I stop by everyday to lay out clothes for Grandma, empty the waste basket filled with her adult briefs, throw dirty clothes down the chute and make sure she takes the pills that Grandpa has diligently laid out on the kitchen table. I tell the nurse that I come by twice a week to bathe her and do her laundry. Grandma listens but only reacts when I say, No, there's no danger of the stove being left on because I'm the only one that cooks.  She looks at me and says, Well, I make banana bread sometimes.

When the doctor comes in, the scene replays. Grandma tells him things that haven't happened for years. My dad and I shake our heads in the background, and when he meets our eyes, he smiles and nods reassuringly.

When we go over her list of medications, I ask about the expensive one she takes for her dementia, the one that doesn't seem to be doing anything except give Grandpa something to complain about. 

We explain the decline we've seen over the past year and how it's become more rapid. He tells us that the medication is meant to slow the progress of her dementia and that because she is still declining at a noticeable rate, it can be discontinued. The subtext of his statement is there is nothing to do except wait.

My dad stays back to speak with the doctor as I walk Grandma out. When she sees Grandpa in the lobby, she greets him enthusiastically, obviously having forgotten that he was waiting for her there. 

My dad and I walk to the car alone and he tells me what the doctor said: that her long term memory will go eventually and it would be wise to move them out of their home soon. I already know this. What I don't know is how to tell Grandpa. 

I have my chance while Grandma is getting her hair cut. We are sitting in the waiting area. 

When I tell him what the doctor said, about how she'll eventually forget who we are, his eyes fill with tears as he asks, Even me? My heart breaks as I say, Yes, probably you, too. We talk more about the future, what he wants to do.  It's a hard conversation but an honest one.

While the next steps are clear, they will not be easy. I covet your prayers for my family for an abundance of grace, patience and love.

December 17, 2012

oh my god*

Friday was an awful day.

It was a shocking reminder of the evil that exists in this world but also the great love. 

My heart broke for the parents that lost their babies. Oh, how my thoughts were not hidden from God! Fist shaking and all.

Praying mercy in grief, peace in sadness, and grace to walk through today.

*title from Jars of Clay song, excerpted below

Sometimes I cannot forgive
These days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be

Maybe I could get some sleep

While I lay, I dream we're better
Scales were gone and faces light
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other

Sometimes I can close my eyes
All the fear that keeps me silent

Falls below my heavy breathing
What makes me so badly bent?

We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded 

That the pain is worth the thunder
Sometimes when I lose my grip

I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give

Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat 

All the wounds that money causes
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children 

This is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers 

This is our greatest offense
Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God

December 10, 2012

number six


And I absolutely adore it.

December 7, 2012

finding calcutta

I am supposed to be in India right now. Instead, my step-brother Luke and practically-brother Jonathan are there.

l &  j
My plan to go to India was a big reason why I quit my job and didn't take another one, thinking that I'd be leaving the country for three months in November. 

But then I started spending a lot of time with these joksters and the thought of leaving them broke my heart. So I stayed.

g & g

The other day when I was blow-drying my Grandma's hair- thinking about what the boys were doing over there right now, wondering if I made the right decision- the phrase find your own Calcutta came to mind, the famous line Mother Teresa would tell people when they asked to join her in India.

Minnesota isn't nearly as exotic as India. And walking a fine line between granddaughter and elder caretaker doesn't have the same intrigue as living in a foreign country. But this is my Calcutta.


Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.

Well said, MT. Well said.

November 21, 2012

beer, a bad run, and bras

It's Fridnesday! Hooray for long holiday weekends!

I had an adventurous morning but really, the story starts with last night.

It was a semi-late night as Colleen and I went to Republic's new location in Calhoun Square. She peer pressured me into "just one more", bringing my total beer count to three. My stomach only had red curried chicken and veggies (no rice) in it so there was little to "soak up" those fermented grains. 

I very much enjoy living within walking distance to Uptown.

beer flight. three 8oz beers, $10.  do it.
So anyway, this morning when my alarm went off at 5, I laid there for a few minutes but eventually got up and dressed and out the door. Into a heat wave. Tights and a jacket were extreme overkill. I think it was like 45 degrees. Thank you, Global Warming.

My run was fairly uneventful until the last mile, when the beer and red curry from hours earlier began to brawl in my stomach. Fearing I would mar my perfect record of not pooping my pants while running, I did the whole run-walk-clench the last mile. Don't judge, you've totally been there.

I made it home safely and evacuated the contents of my stomach. This whole episode put me into a severe time crunch because I had to be out the door by 6:30 to make it to G & G's by 7, leaving no time for a shower. I quickly threw clothes and shower essentials into a bag and left, planning to get ready there.

Except I forgot to pack a bra, a fun fact I discovered while getting dressed at my grandparents.

I figured my options were 1) Wear one of my Grandma's. 2) Drive home and be extremely late to work. 3) Go to Target and buy one. 4) Go braless. (I actually considered that last option pretty seriously until I remembered that we were bringing two candidates in for interviews. I didn't want them to think we were that type of office. )

So my story resolves with me going into Target (braless), buying a bra, and putting it on while driving to work.

I would like to make a joke about breasts and Thanksgiving but I can't come up with one. At least you know I tried. 

PS- In running news, there is running news! Thanks in large part to KT tape and my foam roller, I'm running again. 20 miles last week, 23 on tap for this week. 

November 19, 2012

on breathing

Yesterday would have been Joel's 8th birthday.

I had been writing a post in my head for weeks but yesterday hit me hard. I tried to avoid even thinking about it, making myself busy celebrating Colleen's birthday with brunch and then threw myself into painting. Nothing distracts quite like cutting in. And paint fumes.

I left my apartment around 4 o'clock to bring my grandparents dinner. As I was making a right hand turn onto the highway, a car that I thought was going to turn- because, you know, they had their blinker on- came barreling through the intersection and found it necessary to blare their horn and glare at me. This small act was the excuse my tears needed because I started to cry. Scratch that, bawl.

Clearly it wasn't about the fine display of Minnesota Nice. To say it was about missing Joel is a massive understatement.

It's not like missing him is limited to November 18 but it brought forth all sorts of memories from his last birthday party, his third. We had to have it at the Ronald McDonald House and Joel had to keep a blue mask on the whole time because his little immune system was so fragile. Things were bad at that time and I remember shuddering at the thought that it could be his last. 

His health improved dramatically over the next few weeks, enough to make us all think that we were over this and out of the woods.

One of the worst- and most wonderful- things about life is that it can change in breath.

It only took a breath for Joel to contract a common virus that changed everything. 

One day I was painting his face and the next, I was holding an oxygen mask to it.

It's not fair, it doesn't make sense and there's nothing you can do about it. All anyone can do is keep taking those breaths that can change everything. Because that's life.

So these days, when I find myself in a place of loneliness, of heartache, of grief, of waiting... I breathe, hoping that the next breath will be the one that changes everything. 

And when breathing feels impossible, I run.

November 16, 2012

i've been doing it wrong


Clearly I need to practice. Who wants to go eat sushi?

November 12, 2012


Since I’m currently going through a rough patch with running (thanks to my knee), I’ve found something else to completely occupy my affection: my new apartment.

I recently moved into the Uptown area into a very old building with many, many quirks. Some people (side-eye, Mom) might say that it’s a bit rundown. I like to say that it has character. 

this is what my block looked like this morning
 It’s a studio apartment that doesn’t really feel like a studio because the kitchen and bathroom are completely separate from the main living space which is very long and narrow, almost like a bowling alley.
the main living space, as seen from the doorway to the kitchen

same space, post move-in

And I have two entryways, one into the kitchen and a more "formal" entryway into the main living space. 
kitchen entryway

I also have two huge walk-closets, one of which is large enough to fit a twin bed in it. So guess what I’m doing? I’m getting a twin bed for the sole purpose of creating a supremely awesome sleeping nook. 
this is an awkward shot of my "bedroom"
the closet extends to the left. just enough space for a twin.

Really, though, this is the first place I’ve lived in that’s felt like me. Every apartment prior has been what felt like a holding cell while I waited for a new job transfer, a new job offer, or a relationship to reach a new level. Boxes would sit unpacked in a corner because I never thought I’d be in any of them long enough to warrant fully unpacking.

But here, I plan to settle. For the first time since college, my life, my whole life, is here in Minnesota. And it’s a really good feeling.

Here’s to roots. 

November 9, 2012


I washed my hair with Palmolive dish soap this morning.

I forgot my shampoo and conditioner at my grandparents when I stayed over there on Tuesday night and I neglected to wash my hair yesterday, meaning washing it today was an absolute necessity. Anyway, it worked out surprisingly well.

That's one of downsides of moving- disorganization. Tomorrow I'm moving in the last of my furniture and other useful items that you don't miss until you don't have them (like kitchen towels).

Tonight I'm going to a party where the dress code is elastic waistbands and the guest list is women only. Excited is too little a word.  

November 7, 2012

this sums it up

I'm still here, just busy moving into a new apartment, doing my best to juggle work and family and running, all while maintaining some semblance of a social life.

still kicking it with g & g on a daily basis
my new studio apt that i'm in love with
it has a lot more stuff now

Speak soon.

October 26, 2012

i hate the elliptical but love this core workout

Today was the first day I ran since last Saturday. My right knee has been feeling like it's bruised (upper-outer knee cap) and it's a pain that gets worse when I run but eventually levels off. Because I didn't do anything to majorly injure it (no trauma), the internet tells me I'm just being a baby. Enter icing, ibuprofen, a brace I got from Target because I'm desperate, and six days off.

For the past week, I've been sticking to the elliptical or bike at the gym. And I hate them. Yes, hate

I'm confident that time moves at roughly half the speed it does while running. Thirty minutes on an elliptical, even with music and T.V to distract myself, feels like an eternity. I have to play mind games with myself to even stay on it. 

However, they are my only options for the times when running isn't an option (unless I'm looking to take a chemical bath in that which is the public pool).

Rant over. 

I've also taken time this week to create a game plan to strengthen my core, which evidently can keep you from getting injured in the first place. I found this ab burner featuring my two favorite girls. 

And finally, if you work out at LA Fitness (or know anyone that does) can you please suggest good yoga and cycling classes? I went to one yoga class at the Edina location and it was a joke. I'm hoping they're not all like that. Day/time/location, please!

October 22, 2012

61 years, a big night & knee pain: my weekend recap

4 mile progression run on a treadmill. My knee hurt.

Dinner with my mom at Number 4 in Mankato, a new-to-me place. I had a wholly healthy salad and then splurged on an amazing dessert. It was gone before I even thought to take a picture of it. 

Nearly 5 miles of trails through Hyland. My knee still hurt. 

Coffee with John, who as of late looks like he should be wielding an axe. He does have a huge dog named Blue, too. There's a Paul Bunyan tie in here somewhere.

Hung out with G & G to help facilitate a little 61st anniversary (!!) interaction. (Gramps gets too nervous to take her anywhere by himself.) After ensuring that they both showered, we went to church and then out to eat at the most romantic place my Grandpa could come up with: Perkins. And it was perfect.

After I got them settled in at home, I headed out for a Big Night. It’s rare that I go out with the intention of becoming That Girl but Saturday night was the exception. Chino Latino vodka-jitos are amazing. So is Mesa pizza. And taxis.  

Slept in. Drank a lot of water. Walked to get coffee. Struck a "sexy" pose in a pile of leaves.  (Colleen's idea.)

pretty sure i laid in dog poop

Then football. Because I care about stuff like that. No, wait, I don’t. I care about cute sleeping babies. 

This probably goes without saying but I didn’t run on Sunday. Or today. Because of knee pain.

October 18, 2012

running, rotted teeth, and candy

Yesterday: No run because Tuesday was a long and emotionally taxing day that made me want to throw my phone across the room when my alarm went off at 5:25. And I had an early dentist appointment.
Today: 7.55 miles, 59:17, 7:51 avp. Made up for sucking at life yesterday by busting out what felt like a solid, evenly paced run this morning. [splits 804, 757, 749, 755, 802, 749, 705 (fast last mile), 821 (.55 cool down)]
Back to yesterday: I went to the dentist for the first time in years. Years. (Gross, I know.) Why? No particular reason, other than it seems like going to the dentist is something very easy to procrastinate on. I'll do it next month turned into, well, me just going now.

So I went, imagining a worst-case scenario of them pulling all my teeth. I was terrified, which the dentist no doubt picked up on when he shook my clammy  hand. He was very nice, though, and I relaxed a little after they didn't gasp when they saw my teeth. 

Verdict: After 27 years with no cavities, my lack of consistent flossing caught up with me: three tiny ones, all on my upper left side. Pretty good, all things considered.
Back at the office, feeling rather exhausted from the lack of sleep- and both defeated (three cavities?!)  and exhilarated (I still have all my teeth!) by my dental visit- I did what any normal person would: Binged on candy. Yep, after 2.5 weeks of sticking to a diet of (mostly) unprocessed food, I ate approximately ten mini pb cups, three mini bags of Skittles and five two-piece packs of Starbursts. If anything, I'm under-estimating.
only three survivors
My body was pretty confused by the sudden rush of sodium aluminum phosphate, potassium sorbate, and butylated hydroxyanisole and wasted little time before making it clear that this type of behavior wouldn't be tolerated.
I gladly hopped back on the unprocessed food wagon today: A two-ingredient pancake for breakfast, and a sweet potato with almond butter and some slices of turkey for lunch. And water. So, so much water.
looks disgusting, tastes amazing
I'm avoiding the break room and its candy deathtrap at all costs.

October 16, 2012

meet my new roommates! (a life update)

Monday- No running. Yoga at LA Fitness. It's been so long since I've been to yoga that I forgot it's not a good idea to wear shorts. I was worried about flashing people the entire time. Not zen at all.

Today- 5.52 miles, 43:41, 7:55 avp. [splits 820, 750, 805, 738, 752, 739 (.52)] Even pacing obviously wasn't my goal here.

l to r: grams, vanna the dog, and gramps

It's funny how plans can change within a matter of weeks.

I gave a broad overview of what I was doing with my time in this post. What I left out (but alluded to at the end of it) was that I was planning on going to India for four months. Between that and the fact that I was kicking it with G & G on a pretty regular basis, I wasn't in the market to find another FT job and was making life work as a Professional Volunteer.

Then some stuff started to happen with Grams that indicated to all of us that things were getting worse fast. Gramps still isn't hot on in-home care and them moving into a facility is still off the table. While I was making it up there a couple times a week, it wasn't really enough to make a dent in what needed to be done.
At this same point in time, my dad's company began to look for a marketing manager.

You can see where this is going, I'm sure.
So long to my former plans and what I thought I'd be doing with my life right now. What I am doing is living with my grandparents (like full-on in their house) and working for my dad's company.

I'm only going to be living with my grandparents until early November, the goal being to help them transition to in-home care a few times a week and to purge the crap out of their house. I know their routines and habits better than most, and more importantly, I know what things to push (and how to push them) and what to let go.

Honestly, though, I love being there. They are the greatest people and I'm constantly entertained by them. Last night before dinner, Grandma wanted to pray but couldn't remember the standard Come, Lord Jesus prayer.

Jim, she said, start me out.  He paused for a second and then said Hello, Lord.

This might be one of those you-had-to-be-there moments but it was pretty hilarious. My Grandpa tells me I can't stay there forever because how will you ever meet anybody if you live here? I tell him that any man worth my time would love to hang out with them, too.

Salt of the earth, seriously.

October 15, 2012

a fall weekend

Recent runs:
Saturday: 5 miles with four 1/2 mile intervals at 6:45 pace, 1/4 mile RBI. Painful but thankfully I had Robert as bike support. He always knows when to talk to me and when to stay quiet. Best ever.

Sunday: A very awful run. Set out for 10 miles but made it only 7 before I called it. Cold, windy and terrible. 8:30 average pace. (And thanks, Robert, for suffering with me. And for rubbing my biceps mid-run.)

Weekly mileage total: 29


Friday was football back in my hometown where my little brother Petey is a senior. Go Giants!

While home, my mom tried to convince me to take this cat they found in a storm sewer. He's probably five weeks old and very adorable. I told her I'd consider it once I move into my apartment at the end of the month. I understand that accepting it would likely be accepting a lifetime pass into Cat Lady Land.

please love me

I was house/pet-sitting this weekend which involved monitoring some chickens, two cats and a dog. One of the perks was collecting eggs every day.

one egg? try harder, ladies.

I also couldn't get enough of the fall canopy.

this picture doesn't do it justice
Sunday was #MaeDay.

look at all her hair!
It was also my brother Matt's 15th birthday so I zipped up to my dad's for dinner and family QT. For some extra cardio, I jumped on the trampoline with my little brother Sammy (he's 9) and he told me I had "the moves" when I did a flip. I felt like that was a pretty big compliment coming from him. Or anyone, really, because I definitely do not have "the moves."

He also showed me three machine guns that he made himself out of paper.

do you feel lucky?

So that's my weekend.*

*Mostly. Some things I don't put on the internet.

October 12, 2012

get in the trailer

Recent runs:
Thursday: 4.38 miles, 34:58, 7:59 avp (my right quad protested a little)
Today: 4.4 miles, 37:19, 8:29 avp (an easy, no pain run. Ready for serious miles this weekend.)

It's Friday.

Do yourself a favor and go subscribe to The Trailer, the funniest, most irreverent blog about the sport of running I've ever read.

I'd suggest starting with this post:

and following that with the rebuttle post:
Shoe-mageddon: “Guess what, Dylan: Running store patrons hate you, too”

They also cover real news, like Matt Gabrielson's retirement and how awesome Andrew Carlson is. 

In short, they say the stuff everyone is thinking but no one will say out loud. It's refreshing. And hilarious. So get in the trailer.* You'll be glad you did.

PS- Follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@the_trailer) if you can handle profanity and aren't easily offended.

*Make sure all of your vaccinations are up-to-date and bring hand sanitizer. You never know what happens in there.

October 11, 2012

happy birthday bebe

Today is my sister Juli's 26th birthday.

We are two out of the original three (same parents) so we're alike but also very different.
she actually has pigment in her skin
Growing up, Juli and I were pretty close. We shared a room in the first house I remember living in and pushed our beds together.

Then we started to grow up and I immediately entered into the awkward phase of childhood. Juli, however, remained cute. That's why I had to become fluent in sarcasm; I couldn't rely on my looks.
thanks, glasses
Then we hit our teen years and things became more volatile, mostly because she got boobs before I did and being two years older, that was unacceptable.  

Really, though, Juli and I have very different personalities. She is outgoing and beautiful. Everyone who meets her is drawn to her and she gets her energy from being around people. 

she slays with her smile
And she's very brave. She went to Africa for two months when she was in college. She was gone for her birthday that year but I managed to take her out with me anyway. 

And Juli is way more fun than I am. While I'm busy worrying about consequences or making a pros/cons list in my head, Juli is diving right in.

i'm worried about it but juli is ready to kick its ass
 Even though she's an adult, my desire to protect her from everything and help her with anything is still crazy strong.

post 20 mile run because i didn't want her to do it alone
 We've done a lot of stuff together, too, like going to Europe for a few weeks with our Opa.

we louvre it
name that landmark
And we've had some pretty epic road trips up to Lutsen where our family spends Christmas.

 Even though I'm older, I find myself following her lead, like dying my hair brown.

she definitely looks better than i do with brown hair
 It didn't last long, though.

i need to be able to blame the dumb on the blonde

 Now we live far apart and I don't get to see her often. I miss her. I miss us.

from our recent chicago trip

Bebe, I wish I could be with you today so we could go for a run and eat chocolate. I love you so much!