Montag, 3. September 2012

Hell Valley- a.k.a. Job Hunting

On Friday I received pretty much the best phone call of my young life. The call was from UIL, offering me a full-time, salaried position as the UIL Information Writer. I had interviewed the day before but more on that later. For me, job searching was like a terrible valley. Death Valley is taken, so we will call this one Hell Valley and this was my adventure through it.

Depth: Seemingly endless
Elevation Change: Wild mood swings from 0 to 1,000 about 30 times
Distanced Climbed: 50ish job applications
Time: 105+ days (counting from graduation, but I really started before then)
Date Climbed: May 18, 2012- August 31, 2012
Climbing Partners: Dunte Hector, Tori Hector, anyone brave enough to cross my path

The Story
I started applying for a few jobs here and there before graduation, but things were so busy and crazy I wasn’t focusing a lot of time on it. I stressed about each application I sent off, but once I sent the first big one, things got a little easier. This was the flat land leading up to the Hell Valley. The first big drop came the Thursday before we got married. I had found the website for Rare Magazine in Austin. They had a great position available so I got all of my materials ready, had my dad help with a new and edgy cover letter to match their style, and sent it off before spa day with the girls. I was so hopeful for that position. When we returned from our honeymoon, I decided to do a follow-up call. I called the number on the website, and it wasn’t working. I tried a couple times, and then I was starting to get suspicious. I looked closer at the site and realized it had been two years since any new content had been published on the site. Uh oh. I did more digging and learned that Rare Magazine had declared bankruptcy in 2010, they just never bothered to take the site down. Ouch, that one hurt.

I kept applying, and kept getting rejection emails. When we got to Austin the valley got really steep. I have never written about hiking down an actual mountain/valley, but it is absolutely no fun. Your toes jam into the front of your boots, and it is like doing lunges for several hours. Sometimes the rocks under your feet decide they want to go down too, so rolled ankles and lots of falls are par for the course. Each rejection email, was a skid and slide down on a loose bed of river rocks. Once we got to Austin, the major crazy-person mood swings started.

I would go a couple days feeling really good about my prospects. I would have a few applications in the works, things were looking okay. Then I would swing way down again, and think I was never-ever-ever going to find something. The second week in Austin, during a down swing, I looked into working in retail. Surely there were enough malls around that they were always hiring. Then I remembered that I suck at selling things, and had no prior experience. The week I applied for the UIL job, I also applied at Target.

I generally consider myself a fairly emotionally stable person, so this new moodiness was unwelcome in my home. I was snappy with Dunte and annoyed with Tori, just generally unpleasant to be around during a down swing. This all continued until the day of my UIL interview, the final pitch into the depths of Hell Valley. It wasn’t pretty.

My interview was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Thursday morning. I had printed my writing samples and references the day before. My clothes were ironed and everything was ready. The night before I absolutely could not get to sleep. I was feeling sick that morning, so Dunte let me sleep in while he watched the baby. My brain was going 100 miles per hour and I just couldn’t stop. Around 1 a.m., I took half a dose of Nyquil in an attempt to help my throat and knock me out. Both were accomplished, but I most definitely did not see that 7:30 a.m. alarm with kind eyes. I had planned to wake up early and run before I got ready for my interview. I scratched the run in favor of 45 extra minutes asleep. I wasn’t rushed getting ready, there wasn’t much traffic, so I got there early. The interview went great, I think I answered most of the questions well and was very professional. But since my crazy head had imagined them just absolutely loving me and basically hiring me on the spot, or screaming that I was ridiculous for even applying and having security escort me out, I was a little thrown off. I realize both of those are ridiculous, but that is where your Nyquil brain goes at 1:45 a.m. the night before an interview.
When I came home, I had a glass and a half of wine. At 11 a.m. I’m not proud of it, but a beer after an interview is something my dad and I find crucial to the process. With his (sort of) stamp of approval, I poured away. We didn’t have beer in the house, and I just couldn’t bring myself to drink a beer in public at 11 a.m., so wine it was. Then I dropped off a cliff, deep down into Hell Valley. I was upset and sad and grumpy and a little day drunk. I went out with Dunte and Tori, trying to pull myself out of the valley. When I got home I had an email from one of my references, saying UIL had called and seemed very impressed. I was elated again. I swung back up, yes all in one day and was so excited. I got a text from another reference with a similar positive report. I spent the next few hours thinking of (even more) reasons why this was The. Best. Job. Ever. I managed to get to sleep with the other half of the previous nights Nyquil, and woke up fairly normal.

I was headed out the door to Barton Creek Mall to pick up some hair products for my mom. I got in the Jeep, put it in reverse, then realized I didn’t know where I was going. I pulled out my phone to get directions, and it rang. It was an unknown 512 number, so I quickly answered. It was one of my interviewers from UIL! My heart kinda stopped then picked back up at double speed. She asked if I had any more questions about the position, and if I was interested. “Interested, oh yes very very much.” I tried to put the car in park, but my brain forgot how vehicles work. Then she offered me the job. I think my elegant words of acceptance were, “I would definitely like to take that.” Trying to keep my voice calm, but failing miserably, because I think she was stifling laughter. We talked about more details, then hung up the phone and I went running into the house.

I burst through the door, screaming, I mean literally screaming, “I got the joooobbb!!! I got the joobbb!!!” Dunte had just about put Tori down for a nap and she was terrified.  Dunte said something about me scaring the baby and I said, “I don’t care because I got the jooobbb!!” I hugged him, cried a little, then assured Tori that it was okay and that I wasn’t screaming at her. We high-fived and I started calling people to spread the good news.

And just like that I was out of the valley. I could see the sun again, and I was grinning like crazy. I start next Monday, Sept. 10, and I absolutely couldn’t be more excited. This job combines all the things I loved about all my college experiences. I get to write features and press releases, I get to deal with the media and athletics and academics. I applied for nearly 50 jobs, I stopped counting at some point. But when I randomly signed on to the UT jobs site, and found this job description, I immediately knew I really, really wanted this one. Of all the jobs I applied for, this was the one I was most excited about the possibility of. And I got it. Still not sure it feels totally real.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who I have talked to about my job search over the past few months. Several people have had encouraging and kind words. I know several others who have been praying and thinking about me. Thank you all so much. Thank you also, to my excellent references who helped me seal the deal. I will be sure to keep you all posted of life on the upside of the valley.  

Mittwoch, 8. August 2012

Arriving in Austin

Greetings from Austin, Texas! The Adventure Tour officially relocated and it has been a week since we arrived in Austin, and it has been an interesting one.

After the long drive last Wednesday, I went to our landlord’s house to pick up the keys and deliver our first month’s rent. They have lots of cats, and I think embraced a more gothic lifestyle before they had children. Now they are fairly normal parents who happen to have pens topped with little crystal skulls that light up when you write. But I digress, I got the keys and got back on the road to head further south to our new house. I didn’t get lost, but there was a lot of traffic and Tori and I were very ready to just get out of the car.

Driving up to a house you have never seen before, knowing you have to live there for the next 5 months is a daunting task. Even if it was the nicest house in the nicest neighborhood, I would have been a little nervous.

The first thing I heard when I opened my car door was a rooster. Okay, weird, but not so bad.  Then I open the door to the house, which doesn’t stay closed unless you deadbolt it from the inside. They warned me about this, but it is a pain. I look around the house quickly am not thrilled. On the side of the house is a once-enclosed patio area. It is missing some panels but is useful storage, until we discover how much it leaks in the rain. Then I go to the backyard, which is large but in need of some attention. Along the back fence of the yard is a long structure, when I first looked into it I just walked away. It was kinda scary and I envisioned someone (or something) jumping out and killing Tori and I. When Dunte arrived about an hour later, he made a joke saying maybe a goat lived in there. As it turns out, a goat did previously live in there.

Oh and the garage reeked, I mean really reeked of cat pee.  I know this sounds like a long list of complaints, and so I sat on the floor with my mother-in-law and freaked out until Dunte got there. I just looked out the window and complained, a lot.
All of our stuff in the living room the first night we arrived.
Dunte got there and looked around, once he agreed that it wasn’t exactly ideal I felt a little better about my list of complaints. We agreed the next logical step would be to order pizza. Tori went to bed and Dunte lay on the floor not wanting to move. We were tired from driving and loading everything by ourselves the day before, but I wanted to unload as much as we could while it was less than 100 degrees (which is after 9 pm) and while Dunte’s mom was there to help us. After a bit of coaxing, Dunte got off the floor. We ended up unloading just about everything.

Tori really likes the "new house" she has a new big girl bed and a bigger room!
The next day we unpacked all day long. We would take 10 minute breaks every few hours and sit on our recliners, which were facing each other about 10 inches apart and surrounded by a fort of boxes.
Thursday and Friday were mostly just more unpacking and getting lost. I got lost going to Target, going to Once Upon a Child to sell some of Tori’s old stuff, and going on a run in our neighborhood. I was grumpy because I was missing the Olympics and we didn’t have hot water. But we got an antenna (cable is not in our budget for a couple months at least), and our hot water and the door were fixed on Saturday.

One of the first things to
 hang on our walls.
On Sunday I went to a very strange church, and missed Lubbock and my church there a whole lot. Yeah, you heard me, I said I missed Lubbock. Not in an I-want-to-go-back kind of way, but I do miss it. Sunday afternoon I went on a little downtown adventure. I am applying for an internship at an art museum, and wanted to see the place before I finished my cover letter. I milled along in traffic to get downtown then had to navigate the issue of parking. I found a parking garage, went it and parked in a compact car spot I was convinced I would never get out of. To get out of the parking garage I went down three flights of stairs that let out into an ally off of 7th street. The door wasn’t marked, and as far as I know, this was the only entrance and exit to the place. I was then convinced I wouldn’t have to worry about getting out of the spot, because I would never find my car again. All of these realizations made it very clear to me that I have never lived in an actual urban city. Lubbock is a city, but far from urban. Parking and unmarked ally doors and constant traffic have never been part of my everyday concerns.

On Monday we went to the library to use the Internet, this particular adventure took us away from I-35 traffic and yuckiness, which was very nice. I was looking for a place to sell some old clothes and stumbled upon a vintage clothing shop on 1st street called Flashback. It was awesome! While I was digging through the racks admiring all the clothes I had another distinctly city experience. I moved on group of hangers and unsettled a fairly large cockroach. I gasped, stepped back and yanked my hand off the hanger. But I played it cool and calmly walked to another rack and continued my search. We ate lunch at an iconic Austin taco place, Torchy’s, which was delicious!

Monday night I had a meeting with Austin Woman Magazine, I will be interning with them this fall and this was my first meeting. I stressed about what to wear and left an hour early (not completely unnecessary). The offices are in a house off 49th Street, and the staff seems to be comprised of smart, funny, hard-working women. I will be writing a few articles for the web in the upcoming months and I very excited about the opportunity. It looks like I will still be able to write for them when I get a full-time job and I hope this will lead to something full time in the next year. 

Adventures will ensue, and hopefully there will be slightly less getting lost involved.

Dienstag, 31. Juli 2012

Ciao Lubbock (part 2)

So excited this is a one-way trip.
We have a house! I just couldn’t bring myself to write this second part until we were positive we had a house and would in fact be saying ciao to Lubbock. I am sitting in my house now, all our belongings are loaded up into a 16 foot van outside. When we left off part 1, Tori was about to be born. You can read more about that here

We will start with bringing Tori home. My mom was staying with us for a few weeks. And just as it should be, the focus for the first few months was all baby. A couple weeks after Tori was born, Dunte started his job at the Texas Tech Rec. A job that would change his career goals completely.

Tori’s first two years were very similar: two trips to Germany, a trip to Kansas City, school, and juggling schedules. The first year was hard all on its own, without any extras thrown in. The second year got easier, so I decided to add three jobs, graduating and wedding planning just to keep things interesting.

The first few weeks with Tori were tough. I had some breastfeeding issues the first couple weeks, and Tori did what babies do (wake up in the middle of the night… a lot). It seemed Dunte was sleeping more than Tori sometimes, which I wasn’t thrilled about. I would sometimes climb back into bed after putting Tori down in the middle of the night and throw a couple elbows Dunte’s direction before settling down.

After my mom left in the middle of June, we had several visitors anxious to get to know Miss Tori. I loved the company and the help, but Dunte and I were still getting the hang of being a team as parents. In the middle of July I went to Germany with Koko to visit for a month. It was a long visit, and I am still sorry Dunte missed Tori so much of Tori when she was really little.
Despite all that, the Germany trip was amazing. I had so much help, and my family got to spend so much time with Tori. There was always someone to hold her, Tori is blessed to have two uncles and an aunt and of course GJ and Opa who fell madly in love with her during that trip. I got to sleep, and eat and drink amazing German beer. We went to Venice, Verona, and Salzburg. I so wish Dunte could have been there, but I came back recovered from the ass kicking of a pregnancy and delivery. Ready for a new ass kicking of school.

 Dunte and I learned how to work as a team in a hurry. We settled into a routine, then school started. Dunte and I worked out our school schedules so I went to class on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Dunte went to class on Tuesday and Thursday. This made for long days for both of us. I would wake up around 6, pump so Dunte could feed Tori bottle. Then go to class form 8 to noon, come home, eat, nurse Tori then head back to campus for a long class with a lab. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I would pack all of Tori’s stuff into the car and take her to the Athletics Communications office. I was interning there and everyone in the office was nice enough to put up with baby noises and distractions so I could still come in and get some experience.  That was the fall semester, and it flew by. On home football Saturday’s I was gone all day working for Tech athletics. I loved this, the full days of being among grown-ups and doing something I felt was useful was nice (even if it meant pumping in a closet during halftime).

Dunte and I made the trip to Germany for Christmas break. Getting there was a little tough, we had a little 2-day layover in Amsterdam. Thankfully a very nice family let us stay with them. An 8-hour train ride finally got our sick, tired butts to Munich. Skiing/snowboarding sums up our winter trip to Germany, which is never a bad thing.

When we came back it was the heart of cycling season. Dunte would go away on weekends and race two or three times and then never fully recover enough sleep before he left for the next one. I started wedding planning, and went to the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championships. Tori was crawling and standing by this point and was very fun. During the spring semester of 2011 I had the Tuesday, Thursday shift. This makes for very, very long days. I still wasn’t working other than my internship with Tech Athletics, and this was starting to make me a little crazy. Tori was a little more self-sufficient and I was antsy. As the semester ended, we celebrated Tori’s first birthday! We survived a year, and to help us celebrate so many of our friends came up to Lubbock.

I am always impressed with my friends and how much they love and support our family. When I was pregnant with Tori, I was unsure how my relationships with my friends would change. Would I suddenly be the friend with a baby that they didn’t have anything in common with? They blew my fears out of the water from day one. They all love Tori to the ends of the earth, and make the very unpleasant drive to Lubbock often. Somehow this random group of college students has turned into the proverbial “villiage” it takes to raise a child.

Mia, Tori and I went to Germany during the summer. We spent an amazing week in Rome and climbed a mountain. Which I just realized I haven't written about in detail! This is a major problem.

Tori’s second year was exponentially easier. Tori started going to daycare at the YWCA, she absolutely loved being around other kids. I was able to work, which made me much more pleasant to be around. Football season came and went, I went to the basketball Big 12 Championships again. Dunte graduated and wedding planning was in full swing. Don’t misinterpret my nonchalant way of describing it. It was hard and so so busy. But it was the kind of busy I enjoy. Dunte and I always joke that if you don’t have 3 jobs, you aren’t working hard. We were working hard. Our conversations often consisted of baby and car swaps somewhere on campus. The whole college experience was leading up to May 2012: the grand finale of the past four years. My family would return from Germany, I would graduate, Tori would turn two, we would get married, and we would (hopefully) find jobs and move.

Up until May, I had no idea what would happen on May 27th. All the plans were for the day we got married, so who knew what the world would look like the day after. It turns out, pretty much the same. I don’t have any idea what the next few months will look like. I really hope I find a job. I really hope Dunte finds clients and can jumpstart his business

When Tori was born, it was basically the same scary unknown. We made it through that with flying colors, so I have more confidence that we can come through this. Dunte and I have both changed so much since we met nearly five years ago.  

Lubbock is dry and windy and far away and sometimes miserable. But Lubbock, and the people who live here have been so good to us. This will always be the place where we became a little family when Tori was born. This is where we had our first home, where we got married. I have moved around my whole life, and now I have called Lubbock home for longer than any other place. It will always mean a lot to me.

I am so excited about the next step. We have so many adventures in our future; I have no idea what they look like, but I promise to keep you posted.

You can bet there will be dancing. 

Sonntag, 29. Juli 2012

Pikes Peak Climb

The Nitty-Gritty
Height: 14,110 ft.
Elevation Change: 7,410 ft.
Distanced Hiked: 12.9
Time: 10.5 hours
Date Climbed: July 22, 2012
Climbing Partners: Mia Mastracchio, AJ Yingling, Will Yingling, Megan Yingling, Paul Yingling
We started at the Manitou Springs Trail Head and followed the Barr Trail all the way to the top. 

The Story
We rose bright and early around 4 a.m. to start getting ready. It was all business and excitement as we were eating and loading up. AIS (ass in seat) was 5:00 a.m., but we weren’t in the car until about 5:20. It was fairly quiet in the car on the ride there. I think we were all waking up and contemplating what was ahead. I was feeling the pressure of being the person who had done all the research for the trail.
We arrived and were out of the car and moving by 6:00 a.m. We started walking and were moving pretty quickly, we saw the sun rise a couple minutes into the hike. It was beautiful and a reminder of exactly how early it was. In my head it was just the time we had to start, I wasn’t tired. That would come later.

We were moving fast for a couple hours, averaging about 2.5 miles per hour. After a couple hours Megan’s ankle was really swelling and hurting. She had major surgery about 6 months ago. So at that point Megan and Dad decided to turn back. Mia, AJ, Will and I were ready to soldier on. We had to do some backpack rearranging. As we were pausing, we talked about some ridiculous projections of how long it would take us to get up. I expected between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., we didn’t make it to the top until 4:30 p.m. Turns out elevation can be a pretty significant factor.

We moved along pretty nicely, taking a few short breaks here and there. Mia had an app on her iPhone that told us how fast we were moving and how far we had gone. We called her Amy, every five minutes she updated us. Sometimes when we were getting tired I would wait until she spoke up again, then stop for a minute. We had to turn her off because Mia’s phone was dying. We were averaging about 2 miles per hour with our stops, and still feeling good. Maybe a little extra winded because of the elevation, but nothing too bad.
A little after 10 a.m. we got to Barr Camp, which is about halfway up at 10,200 ft. We ate lunch among the chipmunks and were very ready for it. I was hungry and knew we still had a while to go.

 Barr Camp was a little camp nestled among the trees (and the overly friendly chipmunks), a retired couple runs the place. We each carried about 3 liters of water and all of us had finished half of that or more by lunch. To refill at Barr Camp we had to rent a filter for $5 and pump all of containers full. It took about a half hour, which was way longer than we hoped to stop for lunch. It also was a little tiring for the arms.

At the end of lunch, around 11 a.m., we called my mom, who was planning to meet us at the top to drive us down. We told her we would be at the top in four hours. I thought this was a fairly reasonable estimate, we had been going at a steady 2 miles per hour since the beginning without too much trouble. I had been leading up to this point, AJ lead us out of Barr Camp and then things started to get hard.
We were at our pre-lunch pace for a while and quickly realized it was getting a little harder. The trail was still the same incline and difficulty, we were going the same pace. The only explanation was the increasing elevation. At 10,200 ft. we were higher than I have ever been on foot. That is higher than any mountain we climbed in Germany, and higher than the Zugspitze (highest mountain in Germany). For a couple hours after lunch the trial was still nice, we were breathing hard and struggling, but still joking during breaks. The confusion and fuzziness of elevation hadn’t set in yet but we had started to keep an eye out for it. The views were beautiful and you could really tell how high we were getting. We were getting close to the tree line and that was our next big goal. It took longer than we expected but we made it.  

From here on out distance we were climbing was a little confusing. Will took the lead at some point after lunch, and he kept a good pace for us. The pace was a little slower and steady, it felt sustainable. We kept moving and were tired but okay. We started talking about the phases of hiking, when the swearing would start, and when the very serious complaining would start. It is easy to talk about these things when you still have air to spare in your lungs.

We didn’t get any signs until after the tree line, and the suffering makes things a little blurry. With three miles left, I know we were tired and I know it was about to get really tough. I had read and heard that the last fourth of the hike was by far the toughest and that proved to be absolutely true. We were stopping often, and having trouble catching our breath when we did stop. I had a headache, and Mia said my eyes were swelling. I know they were heavy and a little hard to keep open.

 We all had strong moments. Will did a great job keeping us moving for a lot of the time. Mia was encouraging and upbeat. AJ had the quiet determination needed to keep us going. We all had our low moments too. Will rolled his ankle, Mia was having trouble with her hip flexor, AJ hurt his knee. I stepped on an unsteady rock, when it rolled I decided I didn’t have the energy to catch myself. So I fell, a guy hiking behind me was very concerned and helped me up. Towards the end I had a really hard time. I was nauseous and dizzy, we all had dizzy spells and confusion that made it hard to find the right words for whatever we were talking about. We were swapping back and forth leads with another group of guys, they were nice and having just as much trouble as us. Which was great because so many people ran, I mean literally ran, and then turned around and ran past us down. They were super human freaks, I will never understand.

We reached a sign that said two miles, and as were approaching it we guessed (and hoped and prayed) that it was .5 miles, or maybe 1 mile. Two miles, cue swearing. Cue throwing rocks in the general direction of the sign. Two miles, after already hiking 11, was long and it took about two hours. We started setting little goals, maybe a couple hundred yards away. We would say, “When we reach that big boulder there, we can stop and take a breath.”

We couldn’t drink from the camelbacks while we were walking because that would mean our nose had to do all the breathing, that wasn’t working at all. The little goals helped, it was still taking forever. Our feet were barely moving, but we were going up. We knew we were getting close, a really nice runner came down and said, “1.3 miles guys, your doing great.” His encouragement came a great time. He kept us going for a bit.

The last sign said “16 Golden Steps,” when I saw that I knew we could do it. Up until that point, I wasn’t sure. The Steps were a short distance with a lot of elevation increase. After just a hundred yards of walking, we were way above that Golden steps sign. By that point we had decided crying at the top would be a completely appropriate reaction.

We just kept pushing on and then I saw my mom waiting on a rock. I was so happy, I kind of collapsed on a rock a bit. Then let out a pretty pathetic “Help!” The entire rest of the way, I looked at my feet and thought about what we had done. Walked more than 12 miles, climbed a fourteener for the first time, climbed the mountain in Colorado with the biggest elevation change.
We finally got to the top, and we hurt. We were tired and we had done it. That was all that mattered
Taken as soon as we all reached the top. 
We planned to feast at the top but exhaustion and nausea made that less appealing. Getting below 10,000 feet was top priority. We came home and nursed our wounds. It was hard being proud when it took us so long, and so many people ran past us. But when we were out the top, a cog train full of people came up. I felt deservedly superior to the riders.

I never really smiled big and basked in the awesomeness of what we did until the next day. My mom and Megan told two different (fairly fit) local people that we climbed Pikes Peak, and they were proud and said it was impressive and that they hadn’t done it.

I also didn’t realize how much elevation fuzzied our thinking until the next couple days. We talked about a bunch of things, and giggled at very silly things. I can’t think of a single one of them. There are no quotes of the day or big lessons learned because our brains were oxygen deprived.
I am so so proud of us. It was by no means fun, it was an adventure I will never forget. I am so glad I did it and another fourteener is in my future.

Happy Trails 


Samstag, 14. Juli 2012

Ciao Lubbock! (part one)

As Dunte, Tori and I prepare to move to (a yet unknown house) in Austin, I have been thinking a lot about our time in Lubbock and this house specifically. This may be a two part-er, so we’ll start with Lubbock in general.

I decided to come to Texas Tech, Dunte decided to go to New Mexico Tech, and we decided to stay together. It is a well-known fact that freshman year of college is brutally hard. Naturally, we thought making it harder with a long distance relationship would be brilliant.

Koko and I lived in a tiny box of a dorm room for the first semester of freshman year. I spent most of that first semester sick, mono, kidney infection, you know the fun stuff. There were a few of us who were from my high school at Texas Tech as freshman together, and we were all without a car, a typical, but frustrating situation. I sold my horses, which was hard and heartbreaking. Then I used the money from one of the horses to buy an old Jeep Cheroke, shortly after buying it I was driving down 190 in Harker Heights when my wheel, yes my entire wheel, flew off the car. I miraculously stopped the car and wasn’t hurt, but I would soon watch the Jeep, and the money from my horse, get hauled away as scrap metal. That did hurt.

 Dunte and I would talk on the phone in the evening sometimes, on the computer others. We had some very fun and exciting visits that year, weekend visits were a relationship on steroids after being apart for so long.

It wasn’t all bad, there was a lot of football, and good football at that. Of course, Texas Tech’s amazing win over No. 1 Texas jumps immediately to mind. Koko, Jon and I waited in line for at least four hours, managed to snag spectacular seats, which we of course stood on the entire time. We rushed the field (the third, and appropriate time) and partied the weekend away. Several friends were in town, and I will never forget that weekend.

Oh and I cut my hair super short Fall of freshman year.
In December, Koko was tired of Texas Tech and went home. Absolutely the right decision for her, but it left me some very, very strange roommates. First there was Courtney, a 26 year-old physical therapy student. She only stayed for 10 weeks as part of a fellowship program, but she ate a lot of tune in that 10-week period. She was fun enough, but I was really hoping that when she left I would have the whole room to myself for the rest of the semester. Then there was Katherine, who liked turtles and had some questionable hygienic practices. As far as I could tell, she never left the room. So I did my best to stay out of it. This was easier, since mono wasn’t making me sleep 18 hours a day. I played poker (badly) with a group of friends every week. AJ came to visit for a weekend. I took him to a house party, that to this day, is still the craziest party I have even been to. Jello shots, enough said.

Dunte and I went camping in New Mexico a couple of times that spring. One not-so-successful trip, we almost froze to death. Word to the wise, it gets cold in New Mexico in February, especially at night. But we made it out alive, and even had the gall to do it again. Our spring breaks didn’t line up, so I went to New Mexico during mine, and Dunte came to Lubbock during his. Spending time together when we actually had to go to class, and have responsibilities was a challenge. But spending two weeks together was great. 

I learned spring semesters pass fast, at some point during that semester. Dunte decided he would transfer to Texas Tech. I was thrilled, but nervous he would move to the wrong college just for me. Summer time came with a whirlwind of activities. The first was an engagement, which you can read about here.

Dunte and I on our way to our engagement weekend camping trip.

During that summer, my dad came home from Iraq, I celebrated my 19th birthday with Mia and a giant group of friends, there was the Festival that will live in infamy. Dunte and I took a trip to Ft. Sill and Ft. Leavenworth to visit old friends of mine. My family and I visited Pittsburgh and DC on our way to Germany. And I worked two jobs that summer, it was lots of care-free fun.
Then sophomore year started, and it was time to buckle down. Dunte was living in Lubbock, playing rugby, and working for Vector, and going to Texas Tech. Mia and I were living with two other roommates in Murray hall. Not a bad living situation other than a few mishaps. On Oct. 6, 2009, we found out we were expecting a baby. Surprise! Like I said, buckle down.

Fall semester was grumpy, and morning sickness strewn. I went to Germany for Christmas break, tearing up the slopes at 4 months pregnant. And by tearing up I mean leaving my ski-pants un-buttoned and not falling at all costs.

When spring came around, things started to get a little less scary, and a little more exciting. I was still taking 17 hours in school, I also started an internship with Texas Tech Athletics Communications. In February, Dunte and I were walking around registering for baby gifts. I had been limping around and was stiff, but ignored it. We were having such a fun, nice day. At one point we realized that my left leg was much larger than my right and had some definite purple hues to it. Off to the emergency room we went. I had a blood clot, which I just had surgery to repair this past April. I had a fairly stubborn attitude about the whole thing. I was supposed to work an athletic event on Sunday afternoon, when I was still in the hospital Sunday morning, Dunte finally had to convince me I was not going to be able to make it. I think I missed two classes the week after spending the weekend in the hospital. I hobbled my way to all the others. We found out we would be having a little girl, and spirited name discussions began. My wonderful friends threw us a baby shower, and we were busy getting everything ready.

On May 1, we moved into our apartment in Deerfield Village. I was pretty pregnant, and once again our friends stepped up and helped us so much. I finished my last final on May 10th and Victoria was born on May 18th. The timing couldn’t have been better; especially considering my mom had some serious flight delays and didn’t get here until May 16th. Dunte and I lived together for two weeks before Tori was born, and we did our best to get good at in a hurry. I learned one should close cabinet doors, and have confidence in your cohabitation’s handyman skills. Then Tori arrived and the learning curve got pretty crazy. And wonderful. 

This concludes part one the farewell Lubbock posts. Part two isn’t far behind, I promise.

Montag, 4. Juni 2012

The Wedding Adventure

My greatest adventure yet... Getting married. Here is the story. 

Our wedding week was in the midst of so so many events, and so so many feelings. I want to record some of them now, because I don’t want to forget a single second.

I graduated from college on Saturday, May 19th. My entire family (two brothers, a sister, mom, dad, cat, dog) arrived on May 17th and were staying in our two bedroom apartment. They helped celebrate our daughters 2nd birthday on Friday and Sunday and then wedding week sprung into action. Old friends of ours were there on Sunday for Victoria’s birthday, because they are amazing and love her immensely.

The week was crowded, and busy, but wonderful. Dunte, a single child from a quiet house, was patient and wonderful; even when we fed 17 people pizza in our apartment on Wednesday evening. At one point Dunte and I were in our bedroom, with our entire wedding party, minus one best man. One of my maids of honor and my brother were practicing a song they would perform at the wedding. It was breathtaking having so many people we love in one room. And they all came to middle-of-nowhere West Texas, for us. Talk about humbling. But since this is real life, not the movies, in that same room with all our best friends we realized that there were two typos on the programs. The magazine editor in me was kicking myself over and over. Office Depot, god bless them, reprinted just for the cost of the paper. Their amazing reason, “Weddings are stressful enough.”

On Thursday, I packed and organized everything to go to the venue. But I spent most of the day with my bridal brigade at the beautiful Ocean's Spa in Lubbock. Oh my gosh, it was amazing. I was so so relaxed and thankful for my wonderful friends. We had a fun and talked but mostly relaxed oh so thoroughly. That night I printed lists and made pretty spread sheets (with help from We shopped for the rehearsal dinner. I got everything ready to go for the all girls hotel stay on Friday night. There was a little hiccup Thursday night when my bedroom door locked on its own. I was making shirts for the girls, so the iron was on and we couldn't get it to unlock. Thanks to our amazing apartment complex maintenance guy, it was fixed within the hour. 

Tori's windy face
Drinks in the lobby
Friday came, and it was windy. When it is windy in West Texas, it is dusty. We were sitting on bags of chips and trying to keep from blowing away at the rehearsal dinner. We went back to the hotel and my uncle bought all the girls cosmopolitans at the bar. We went upstairs and drank wine, gabbed about old parties and good times. Then we went to sleep, I woke up several times throughout the night. 2 am, nope not time yet. 4 am, not time yet. 6 am, ehh not time yet. 7:15, time to wake up.

Drinks in the room

Dunte picked me up downstairs, and we went for our couple and baby breakfast. I had expected to make pancakes or our usual fare. Instead, Dunte surprised me with good breakfast from a local grocery store. We ate; my mom and dad came by, donning their lists and synchronized watches.  I went to the venue to help setup. I walked into the most beautiful piece of furniture I’ve ever seen. My uncle had made it, shipped it to Lubbock and assembled it before 9 am Saturday morning. I was flabbergasted. In addition to beautiful furniture, we found 30 mile per hour winds. This put most of our preparations outdoors on hold. When I left shortly later, we had put a pin in the decision to move the ceremony inside.  Our amazing day of coordinator, Dawn (also fondly known as my raceo mom) would make the call at 4. I didn’t think about it again.

 I went back to relax before it was time for Jenna was supposed to do my hair. During this time was my only wedding freak out. I needed to shower and was kind of throwing a fit. I had obviously been taking mental notes from Tori, because I made it clear that “I didn’t wanna.” And “I’ll do it later.” My mom had ordered us food to be delivered. An unusually tall man brought it in, saw my wedding dress and said, “Pretty dress, somebody getting married?” I grinned and identified myself, still not really owning the title “Bride” comfortably. Jenna cautiously asked, “Do you want to eat?” I complied, defiantly. We ordered a movie on demand, ate, and I then I was ready to shower.

This set things into motion and it was off to the races from there. I showered, and Jenna started on my hair. My sister and the maids of honor came back, hair beautifully done and headed off to the first round of make-up. Jenna, Mia (other maid of honor) my mom and I followed shortly after. Everyone was getting their make-up done, except me. It seems that another bride accidently took my appointment. She embraced her bride title, and the make up lady at the Clinique counter was happy to do any bride’s make up. So, my make up didn’t start until well after we were all supposed to be getting dressed. All the other girls went back to the hotel, my uncle (and photographer) stayed behind to snap some photos and drive me back to the hotel when it was done.

Girls waiting, looking so lovely.
The make-up was finished and I trotted up a very small section of highway because Uncle Chuck couldn’t drop me in the hotel parking lot due to construction. I scurried up to the hotel room, and everyone was dressed. They all looked stunning. In a matter of five minutes I was in my dress, I had a couple correcting curlers in my hair, two people were tackling the 3 dozen buttons on the back of my dress, my mom but on my necklace. Soon enough I was walking out and stuffing myself into the car.

We were 40 minutes late, so pre-ceremony pictures were cut short. But I checked my phone on the way to the venue, and the reminder I set in my phone 6 months ago said, “Get married, be Zen.”

And so I did.

The ceremony was quick, very quick. But powerful. I made the biggest promises I’ve ever made, in front of 50 people that love us. It was really windy, but we were outside. Just like we had always envisioned it.
First kiss, will never forget it.

Next came a few tearful, smiley moments to ourselves before more pictures, I felt rushed to get to the party and celebrate. And when we got there, it was fun the entire time. It was non-stop smiles and dancing and food. The pizza was causal, and the drinks were good. Dunte and I had a choreographed dance that I was nervous about, and we nailed it. The dance ended and everyone, literally everyone, danced in a circle around us to “Shout!”
You know you make me want to SHOUT!

Dunte and my maids of honor gave amazing speeches that brought tears to my eyes. Then my dad gave a funny speech, he is always spot on, just the right thing for the situation. While he spoke a peacock climbed the tree behind him, who knew peacocks could climb trees?

The dancing continued until it was time to go, then we went to our favorite piano bar and closed the place down. There was a conga line, many drinks, Dunte on a piano, and pure joy. The whole night was a blur of hugs and dancing and tears and friends.

Other amazing things to remember:
·      The shot of jack with the entire wedding party before we walked down the aisle.

·      The amazing musical collaboration. My oldest friend Becca played the processional music on the clarinet. AJ played the guitar while Koko sang a great song. And Krista, Becca’s sister, manned the ipod for the rest of the ceremony music.

·       Dunte dancing with his mom, I’ve never seen her smile so big.

·      The boys wore amazing hats, the girls wore amazing shoes. They all rocked
·      As we were leaving and everyone was blowing bubbles, my brother stalked us out of the venue sneakily blowing bubbles behind us… until the wind turned and they blew back into his eye.

·      At the end of the day, I was married to an amazing man.
Waiting for the cab at the end of the night. Just me and him, forever (=


Donnerstag, 26. Januar 2012

Just Keep Swimming!!

Welcome to the Spring 2012 semester, aka my last semester of college! As many of you know (I say while wondering if anyone is reading) my schedule is pretty relaxed this semester, especially compared to some of the crazy semester in the past. This relaxation includes taking yoga and advanced swimming  which serve Operation Sexy Dress very well, more on that later.

Unfortunately, my yoga instructor is a little misguided so that won't be terribly beneficial but swimming is awesome! I have some exciting swimming goals and I will outline some pretty awesome adventure plans.

In swimming today we did the Swim Cooper Test, which is a fitness test originally designed for runners. The goal is to swim continuously for 12 minutes then use the distance you swim as a measurement of your cardiovascular/swim fitness.

7-9 years
10-12 years
13-19 years
20-29 years
(25 M.)
(25 M.)
(25 M.)
(25 M.)
< 200
< 8
< 380
< 15
< 460
< 18
< 380
< 15
< 180
< 7
< 280
< 11
< 380
< 15
< 280
< 11
> 460
> 18
> 620
> 25
> 760
> 30
> 660
> 26
> 420
> 17
> 560
> 22
> 660
> 26
> 560
> 22

I started the swim and I planned to swim 100 free, 100 breast, 100 back and just repeat that until time was up. I ended up swimming about 625 yards and felt really good. I hit my stride after the 300 yard wall, for some reason after about 299 yards it is just really tempting to stop. After 325, things are better. According to this test, women my age who swim more the 560 yard are in the very good category.

With all this in mind I have some new swimming goals. I want to swim a mile, continuously. That is 70 lengths of a 25 yard pool. Today I only did 22 lengths in 12 minutes, good place to start but plenty of work to do. Apparently, some (crazy) people aspire to swim a mile in 30 minutes. Right now, I have no time goal, I just want to swim a mile before May 1.

My swim class will help with this goal but I also decided to do the 2012 Iron man Triathlon Challenge through the Texas Tech Rec Center. You have 21 days in February to complete all the Iron man distances: swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles. The swim will not be terribly difficult. In addition to the yards I swim in class I am required to swim 1500 yards outside of class. The bike will be a more of a stretch. I ride around 2 miles per day now and to ride 112 miles in 21 days I would need a little more than 6 miles each day. But indoor spinning counts, so I am going to sign up for the 40 minute afternoon spin on Mondays and Wednesdays. Yes, this means I will go to Italian on those days a little bit sweaty (maybe smelly). That is a fair trade off right?

So swim, easy. Bike, doable. Run... uh oh. That will be hard, thankfully walking counts. I will try to run most of it, and I honestly don't have a more developed plan than that. To run 26.4 miles in 21 days I would need to run 1.5 miles each day. Not an unmanageable amount, but in combination with everything else... yikes. I will make a plan, and do my best! I am kinda pumped. Anyone want to be an Iron man (over 21 days) with me?

Oh, and Operation Sexy Dress is pretty simple. I get to wear a pretty awesome dress on May 26th and I plan to rock it.