Some stories from my week.

It has been such a busy week I have put almost no thought into what I would write about for my post. Also I spent the weekend with you so you are pretty much caught up on everything that is going on with me at the moment. But I will just do a quick update and tell some of the best stories from the last few weeks.

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I got my hair dyed. It is not hugely different, but the blonde that had grown out mostly to the ends is moved up more into the rest of my hair and it is more of a white/silver blonde. When I went to work after it was done, the only person who noticed/said anything to me about it on the first day was the lady who works at the same job station as me. She told me that my hair looked like her daughter’s horse’s mane.

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I was riding my bike last weekend on a trail just outside of Cranbrook. I came up behind a mother and daughter out walking their (unleashed) dog. I slowed down, they heard me coming and moved so I could get by, but at the very last second their small dog decided to make a mad dash across the path and directly in front of my bike. I immediately slammed the brakes to avoid running over the dog; my bike stopped instantly and I very slowly made my way over the handlebars. I was going so slowly that I almost didn’t make it over, I kind of almost came to a stop above my handlebars and then just kind of rolled forward over into a heap. I managed to miss the dog with both my bike and my body. The owners were wide-eyed and apologetic. I told them it was fine. I have a couple pretty nice leg bruises.

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A guy on the other shift keeps writing notes on things I have written telling me that I have nice writing and doing weird things like circling all the boxes on the length check forms that have my writing on them and ending his notes with hearts. It is weird and I wish he would stop.

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Last weekend I spent Monday in Fernie with Jocelyn and it was absolutely lovely. We went bike riding by the river, we played crib in a coffeeshop, and we ran into Anna and Jeff. It was such a wonderful day and made my weekend feel so much longer and happier. I stayed overnight Monday and drove to work from Fernie on Tuesday. I got at least a full hour more sleep than I get when I go to work from Cranbrook. It was so nice. Instead of getting up at 3:30 am, I got up at 4:45 am. The drive is only like twenty minutes instead of forty five. I’m starting to love Fernie even more than I used to and think that maybe I might want to actually live there.

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I got new glasses. These weren’t the frames I was originally supposed to get. There was months of waiting and backordering and then the eye doctor people just forgetting about my original frames. When I finally called them and they looked it all back up my original picks were unavailable. So I came it and found these ones instead. I am very happy with them. They are grey and this is the only picture I have of them. I took it to show them to you after I had just played an hour of basketball and had some seriously gross hair. I should probably just take a new picture where I am not red-faced and greasy, but I am too lazy. Anyways, they are hella cute.

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This weekend was a busy one but it was also nice. I am glad I got to see you and we got to spend some time together in person. I was happy to drive you to your makeup trial and I am stoked that a professional is going to do my makeup at the wedding. The venue is still as great as we thought it was the first time. It was a bummer that we spent all that time in traffic and then when we got downtown the tattoo place was closed. That would have been a fun finish to our weekend. But it was still very good. And I got that AMAZING skirt from the thrift store for $4.50, we drank champagne while we watched John Mulaney, and I introduced you to Kevin Pillar’s mad fielding skills. So by all accounts, a good weekend.

An Overview

I have, once again, had a full couple of weeks, and so this post is going to be a collection of stories.

This week I’ve been attending a library conference at the U of A, and it has me thinking about everything from how to go about changing and mending the Library of Congress subject heading list, to what counts as literacy and literate activity, to what working at the Jubilee had to do with my construction of a social narrative around myself.

One day one of the conference I took part in a workshop about practically applying critical theory to library problems (thrilling stuff, I know), and it made me think of my time as a liquor supervisor at the Jubilee, and the Work Persona I built around myself to make my life there as a young woman working in customer service easier and safer. I had props to help me do this: I wore an all black uniform, I made liberal use of my radio with its ear piece and wrist mic, I had a ring of keys to carry around, I had a card that unlocked doors to whip out whenever needed, I had a heavy-looking scale for weighing liquor, and I had my nightly reminder of “I can have anyone removed from this theatre.” My secret weapon when speaking with an adversarial patron was pretty simple. I would reply to any call I got on the radio with  “just a moment, I’m just dealing with a patron.” I constructed a narrative of myself as an authority figure, as connected to other people through my radio, as busy with important tasks. I remember feeling safe inside my black clothing and severe attitude, and I was good at my job.

The keynote speaker talked about, among other things, the differences between print (European) literacy and Indigenous literacies. These differences includes concepts of responsibility vs right in storytelling, of what a map looks like, of what “published” means, and what counts as documentation. I’ve been thinking about all this along with other things I’ve been learning about literacy. Earlier in the week I listened to an episode of 99% Invisible about statues of Lenin being torn down in Ukraine as a part of the effort to remove communism from the built environment. During my undergrad I came across the idea that everything is a text that can be read. Rivers are a text, not only because they tell the story of past floods or new development (and therefore societal priorities), but also because they map out relationships and family ties, as I was shown with an Anishinaabe map based on waterways, landmarks, and relationships. A bridge is a text because it has hammers and sickles built into the railing in wrought iron, and tells the story of how a country was taken over by a communist regime. I don’t understand these ideas perfectly, and I want to learn more. I want to navigate a way to do so respectfully.

I’ve been figuring out the bus route between my and Josh’s new house and school. Today was an exercise in not being blown away by 90km/h winds while trying to stay at least slightly dry, while getting turned around and going the wrong way and missing a bus because differentiating between left and right is hard for me at the best of times and only gets worse when I’m frazzled. When I finally made it home, I was soaked but felt accomplished. Whenever I’m taking a new bus route I am so thoroughly thankful for Google. She almost never steers me wrong.

Our house is cute and has a large yard and we are slowly settling in and making it ours. A few of Josh’s photos are on the wall. Some of my favourite dishes are in the cupboards. We have a small table by the window looking out on the front yard. The living room furniture is sort of set up. There is a small jungle of plants by the big front window. The washing machine sings a little song when it’s done the cycle. It feels more like home every day. I’m excited to share it with people. There was a (small, non lethal, it’s fine) fire in the basement of my place in Bonnie Doon awhile ago, and now that the smoke smell is gone the weird cleaning plus smoke sealant plus construction smell has moved in and I don’t spend much time there. It makes this new house all the more attractive and comfortable. We’re making a list of things we need to do (paint two rooms, hang art, plant a tree, plant some vegetables, insulate the basement) even though we aren’t totally moved in yet.

I went to two bachelorette parties in one weekend and by the end I was exhausted. I did get to go play bingo for the first time ever and it is a) a good deal of fun, and b) bizarrely stressful. It is fast moving and if you miss a number, well, that’s on you. And people do a zillion cards! It’s intense! It is also Very Quiet, which was odd. I was expecting music or something but no! It is a big, quiet room filled with concentrating people. After two parties, Josh and I spent a day in Banff. I miss the mountains.

The next few weeks are full of weddings and driving and visits and my bridal shower. It’s going to be full. July is going to be less of a month off than I originally anticipated, and in August I get married. What a world.

Why I run.

I need to tell you about something that is happening to me. I’m sitting here on the floor of my bedroom, still in my running clothes. My socks are still wet because we have been getting a lot rain here and that combined with the snow melt has caused the little creek that runs through town to flood. Which cut off my running path. But instead of turning around I decided to just wade through and then run the rest of the way with wet shoes.

I just ran 6.5 km. This means that in the last 8 days I have run 19.5 km. When I did the math I was annoyed I didn’t run 0.5 km further. Two days this week I woke up and decided that it was a great idea to go for a run before I went to work. Then I actually went out and ran 3-4 km, showered, and headed to work. Like an actual crazy person. Today I woke up kind of grumpy for the second day in a row. I sulked for a bit, but finally got changed, put my shoes on, and headed out into the rain and started running. Within minutes my mood had lifted. My first thought was, “Damn, does this mean that for the rest of my life I have to go for a run now when I want to be happy?” I have to say it was both an encouraging and deeply distressing thought.

So the question is. How did I get here? If you know me at all you probably know that this was (and kind of still is) me:

 

I would like to start off by saying that if you are a runner who has, at any point in the past, tried to get me to start running or to convince me that running is fun in any way, this is not a victory for you. You had nothing to do with this. Me running was a 100% internal thing and I did it IN SPITE of the fact that you tried to convince me I should love it.

Okay. So perhaps a good place to start is why was I so against running in the first place. Easy one. This goes back to my Jr High and High School sports teams. All of my coaches and gym teachers used running as punishment. Especially my coaches. It’s not that I was against physical activity. I could run and work hard for ages if I was playing basketball or some other sport or game. But to just run, with no other goal than to run, was only ever a punishment. If we let the opposing team score too many points in our game on the weekend, we ran lines at practice on Monday. When we didn’t do a drill well enough at practice, the coach would stop and make us run suicides. One year my coach made us run the beep test at try outs and told us that if we didn’t hit a certain level we would be automatically cut from the team. Now I am not saying my coach was terrible for doing these things. Basketball players need to be fit and conditioning needed to be a part of our training, but he really did enforce the idea that running = punishment. At the time I really didn’t realize that this was the message I was absorbing, I just knew that I hated running.

So now fast forward a whole bunch of years and you find me as I was last year. An ex personal trainer with a kinesiology degree who knows a hell of a lot about exercise, who is not grossly out of shape but also not fit, who lives in a reasonably isolated little place in the mountains and has a lot of time on her hands. Over the years that have past since high school I have often wished I was into running. It seemed like a great way to stay fit and I am basically always in a state of wishing I was fitter.

Okay, so there I was. Living in a tiny little cabin with approximately one friend within 15 km of me. Spring came and the daylight hours got longer. I spent hours just sitting in my house by myself. I had no internet at my house I must add, I feel like that contributed greatly to this whole thing. If I had had internet I probably just would have watched everything on Netflix instead. My job was stressful sometimes and I tended to get consumed by it because I lived on site. I was lonely. I was out of shape and unhappy with how my body looked and sitting around my house was just making it worse. Eventually all these things built up into a sort of oppressive force. It got to the point where I hated all of these things more than I hated running. It was kind of like a balancing scale with my hate of running on one side and all of these negative emotions on the other side. Over time they would build up until the scale tipped and going for a run became the better option.

That makes it sound like me running was a super negatively fuelled endeavour. Which is maybe true at first. But the act of actually going for a run resulted in positive emotion. It felt good to be tired and have sore legs because I knew it meant I was building up my fitness. It felt like an accomplishment to do something that was unpleasant because I knew it was good for me in the long run. It was empowering to take something that I used to only do when someone forced me to and choose to do it myself.

It became a cycle. At first I needed the negative emotion to get me out the door. But then the positive emotion became enough to carry me to my next run. I would loathe every single second of the actual running part, but then as soon as I was done I would feel good. And that that good feeling would carry me long enough for me to get my shoes on the next time and get out the door. Then I would hate every second of the next run. But it became just enough to keep me going.

Another thing I desperately needed to keep me going was to only ever run alone. I needed this because I am an extremely externally motivated person. If I run with other people, I will feel the need to impress them. It doesn’t matter how genuinely they tell me I don’t need to, I will push myself significantly harder if they are there. This isn’t a bad thing if you want to be pushed harder, but for someone who is barely making it out the door each time she runs, this would be too much. I needed to know that at any point in my run, if the hatred became too much, I could stop and go home with no consequences whatsoever. That knowledge is what many runs relied on. Once I was actually out and going I don’t think I ever actually did just decide to stop and go home, but I needed to know that it was an option.

I also did not do well with a long lead up to a run. I needed to just spontaneously put on my shoes and go. The longer I thought about it, the more I would dread it and then the more I would hate it. So that is another reason running with other people was/is a no-go. Running with someone means planning ahead of time and knowing for hours if not days that a run is coming.

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So that is how it happened. I really slogged through it last year. It hurt and it was hard but I had so much spare time and so many things that sucked that running just became part of how I dealt with it. I had this vision that I would keep running through the winter. It did not happen. I did work at the mill all winter and apparently that helped significantly to maintain my fitness because when I started running this Spring I was running the same distance and pace that I was doing in the Fall. This year running has been so much easier than last year. I really feel like last year was the hard part and I worked to push through and keep going and now I am reaping the rewards. I am running further distances and I hardly ever stop to walk anymore. A month ago my weekend run was 5 km, last weekend I ran 6 km, today I ran 6.5 km. It hasn’t felt that hard to progress. I no longer hate every second. I don’t love it by any means, but it now only feels like a minor convenience to go for a run. Last year it would take me a full hour to recover after a twenty minute run. A full hour of being about the colour of tomato and flopping around on the floor like a dying fish. Now I run for forty minutes and feel back to normal in about ten minutes. It has become that a run is really just a quick slight inconvenience. If I want to run during the week before or after work, I really can just do a quick 4 km and even with recovery time it is only about half an hour out of my day.

I am noticing improvements in my fitness. My legs are getting slimmer and more toned. I feel great. Last year I had some problems with my IT bands getting super tight and making my knees hurt. This year I am right on top of it and I stretch and roll them out every day and have had no issues so far. But by far the weirdest thing has been this change in motivation. I have no idea what happened that changed it from “I hate this with the fire of 1000 suns and will force myself to do it” to “I just woke up and maybe I’ll go for a run before I eat breakfast.” My best guess so far is that I was abducted by aliens and they did that adjustment bureau thing and altered the way by brain works.

I have this nagging feeling that maybe this is just a phase. I really can’t imagine that I am “runner” now. That is a label and personality I have never wanted. People who are fanatical about running still baffle and annoy me. It baffles and annoys me that I am running this much. But I think for now I am just going to lean into it and try not to talk about it too much so that people don’t hate me the way I used to hate runners.

(I know, good start, write an entire blog post about it. Good job Raiah)

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Related story: I actually had a friend see something I had posted about running and send me a message that said “So I noticed something… you’re running now. I remember you being pretty against it.” It may have been Graham (hi Graham) and I may have given him a pretty hard time when he decided to start running about a year before I did. Like I’m pretty sure I tried to talk him out of it on multiple occasions. But instead of saying some version of ‘I told you so’ he just ended that text message with “good for you!” like the nice non-jerk person that he is.

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Anyways, I will leave you with this video and a promise that I will never ask you to go for a run with me or compare run data, post run data on Facebook, ask you for money for a run (unless it is like some crazy good cause), or just generally talk or complain about it without being asked.

Good Christian Men Rejoice

Recently I was reminded of two instances in my camp-going history, and discovered that I am still angry about them. Talking about these things got me thinking about other things and so this is going to be an angry post! Strap in.

Picture this! You’ve just had a fun week at Bible camp, it’s the last night and that means skit night. Fun! But what’s this? A male cabin leader in a position of authority is doing a skit by himself? Okay! He’s wearing a lab coat and puts up a white board, and proceeds to do a “mathematical equation”. What equation, you ask? Oh, you know, that one where relationships with women cost time and money, and since time is money and money is the root of all evil, all women must be evil! It’s science! Wow, so fun! What a great skit that all the boys are laughing at! The director of camp this week decided this was a good addition to the evening’s program! He was right!

And now picture this! The male worship leader in a position of authority who is supposed to help us feel closer to God is carrying around his guitar and singing a fun song! Let’s tune in to the words, shall we? Oh, what fun! It takes a couple Old Testament verses wildly out of context and says that all women should be kept in baskets! Hahaha, wow!  Listen to those boys laugh! It’s too bad that if I oppose them in any way I will be labeled “crazy” or a “feminazi,” and it’ll have a negative impact on all the other girls and women at camp! Unfortunately, I’m a teen who doesn’t know how to shut other people down (yet)! Oh and also! Bible verses will used as a weapon against me! This is the right way to use the Bible!

Fast forward in time! I’m at a Bible Study! I love The Lord! I happen to mention feeling unsafe and being on my guard when I’m the only woman in a train car, or when I’m walking at night and see a man – but wait! The men have taken offence! They point out to me that Not! All! Men! are a threat to me! Oopsies, for a quick second there I forgot that my experiences and feelings are always invalid all of the time! My bad! It’s a good thing that there are men here to tell me how to think and feel about all manner of issues! Haha, I’m glad they tell jokes about how a woman’s place is in the kitchen, making sandwiches!

How ridiculous of me, I can’t believe that I forgot for .01 seconds that I, as a woman, represent my entire group, while they, as men, represent only themselves! I would have to be more than a fool to think that the systems that benefit, oh, I don’t know, Brock Turner, also benefit other white, middle class men in North America! Where do I get these ideas?! It’s not like I have several years of education combined with a lifetime of personal experience to draw from! I mean, IMAGINE thinking that it’s bad to say all women are evil or that all women belong in baskets! Of course it is good to make sweeping generalizations about women but one certainly mustn’t even imply that something applies to more than one man! They are individuals! I’m a member of a group! It would be so awful of me, an evil basket woman, to say that unknown men are sometimes scary! That might offend someone!

Wow, this post was emotional! Am I on my period?!