I Need a Back Up Plan

A few weeks ago I talked about my slow descent into bro-dom. I was training for a half marathon, I was drinking daily protein shakes, and I was tracking my nutrient intake. I was so excited and ready to take on the world.

Well, the descent has stopped. Last week, I injured my shoulder and upper back. No, I didn’t hurt myself during a workout or on a run. I am pretty sure I slept on my neck wrong, which makes this infinitely more infuriating.

Anyway, I went to the doctor to get some painkillers so I could actually sleep and she told me I should take it easy for a while. If I kept working out, I might just hurt myself worse.

I was on the verge of having a toddler-esque tantrum when she said that. I didn’t want to stop running and working out. I was just starting to get into a good rhythm with my running schedule and suddenly I have to stop because I accidentally slept the wrong way.

This fucking sucks.

Since I got the news I’ve been complaining a lot to my friends. Most of my friends are sympathetic, but a few have said things like, “Look on the bright side! You get a break from running!”

No, shut up. There is no bright side to this.

Of course I understand they’re trying to lift my spirits, but it’s obvious that they don’t understand why I run. Yes, I run to maintain my weight and stay healthy, but underneath all of that my real reason for running is because it helps me cope with my anxiety.

I am an incredibly anxious and controlling person. I constantly worry about the future, what I’ve done in the past, and everything in between. I’m also the kind of person that will completely take over a project because someone else isn’t doing it right. It’s my way or the highway. Yeah, I’m that asshole.

b51e77d55d22be79491f98404e6d1989Over the past few years, I’ve been getting much better at handling my anxiety because I’ve found a healthy way to work off my nervous energy: running. I like to run because it redirects all of the energy I put towards worrying towards something mindless and calming. When I’m working out, all I’m thinking about is how my body feels and moves. For a few hours, I’m not thinking about all of the things in the world I can’t control.

Well, now I can’t run and I feel like a volcano that’s about to erupt and spew crazy all over the people in my life.

Yesterday I had a crazy day. I had a lot to do at work and I had to take our ferrets into the vet and it just felt like everything was against me. I could feel myself getting tense and panicky and I couldn’t do anything about it. Michael tried to calm me down, but I wasn’t having it. All I wanted to do was go out and run or lift up heavy things or climb something, but I couldn’t.

Did I say this fucking sucks?

Yesterday evening, I kept trying to think of other things I could do to redirect my nervous energy and kept coming up blank. I’ve tried crocheting, cleaning, reading, and yoga, but nothing seems to be working. I need a back up and I don’t have one.

a4a952aa79bd0e37775e715541bd93efBasically, I just want to feel normal again. I want to go back to my normal routine. I’m tired of people telling me that I need to take care of myself. I was taking care of myself! What do they think I was doing when I was out on my runs? I was taking care of my mental state and now I can’t do that anymore because I have to take care of my body.

This sucks!

So my plan for the next few weeks is to look for something I can do that will help me take care of my mind and body. I need something that will help me work off my anxiety while not tying more knots into my back muscles.

I just want to go for a run.

-EMS

 

Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen Parks and Rec, Daniel. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. The characters are genuine, the humor is funny without being offensive, and somehow the story is both hilarious and deeply moving. I am not exaggerating when I say that watching this show has changed my life. This show taught me how to love myself and how to love the people around me.

It also gave me a new role model. When I grow up, I want to be just like Leslie Knope.

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Leslie Knope is a wonderful woman who spends her energy trying to make the world a better place for the people around her. She’s kind, she’s supportive, she’s ambitious, and she’s always excited about her next adventure.

I know I’ll never be exactly like Leslie because I don’t have an endless reservoir of bubbliness inside me and I’m definitely not assertive enough to be a leader. But I can be generous and ambitious in my own way.

Recently, I’ve been planning out elaborate parties and making things for the people around me just because. I’ve been crocheting afghans, planning surprise parties, and buying tiny gifts for my friends because I want to see them smile. While I’m still nowhere near Leslie’s level of generosity in the show, I feel like she would be proud of me because instead of focusing on myself, I’m thinking of the people in my life. I’m showing them that I care about them without being ashamed of my love.

I’m also continuing to push myself to try new things every day. I know that I can sometimes get complacent, especially now that I have my degree and a comfortable job. It’s so easy to lose focus sometimes or forget that there are still things to work for. So everyday I remind myself that Leslie never lost focus. Everything she did, she did to reach a goal and that’s how I want to live my life.

As you know, I’m training for a half marathon right now. Lots of people have wished me luck. Others have asked me why I would do this to myself. I’m doing this because I want to be able to say I ran a half marathon. That’s it, that’s the reason I’m working so hard. Sometimes people won’t understand why you’re working for something and Leslie Knope taught me that, despite what they say, you keep going. Don’t give up.

tenorOf course, Leslie does have her faults. Except, instead of being ashamed of her faults she embraces them. Instead of stubbornly ignoring her flaws, she understands that sometimes she needs help and she reaches out to her loved ones for it rather than pretending she’s perfect. Leslie can be controlling, anxious, obsessive, and self-centered, but none of these things make her an unlovable person because she works every day to make sure they don’t define her.

Damn. Talk about #goals, am I right?

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be perfect. I rarely challenge myself because I’m afraid of failing and I never talk about my fears with the people around me because that would mean I’m flawed. For a majority of my life, I’ve equated being flawed with being unlovable.

giphy1Watching Parks and Rec helped me realize that wasn’t the case. Seeing Leslie Knope struggle with her own flaws and still succeed helped me realize that I can still be a good person without being perfect 100 percent of the time.

Basically, what I learned from Leslie Knope is that sometimes it’s better to be remembered as a fun, generous person rather than a perfect human being who can do no wrong. I want my friends and family to think of me and smile or be inspired or just feel warm and fuzzy rather than remember how skilled or smart I am.

When I grow up, I want to be Leslie Knope.

-EMS

 

My Slow Descent into Bro-dom

I have some very, very bad news to share with you today, Daniel. Something terrible has happened to me and I just realized the gravity of the situation earlier this week. I don’t know how this happened, but it has, and it’s time for me to admit it to the world. I must also say farewell to my spare cash and spare time.

This week, I realized I am slowly becoming athletic.

I know you must be very shocked. How could this have happened? I was so careful!

As a child, I took all the necessary precautions to avoid this horrible fate. I cheated on the mile tests in gym class, I waived all of my physical education requirements in high school, and I even went so far as to avoid the outdoors as much as possible.

But I caught it. I caught athleticism and now there’s no turning back.

I just realized my fate this week, but looking back this really started after college. I was looking for new hobbies to fill the void that school had left in my life and I foolishly decided to sign up for a 5k run. After I crossed that finish line, I placed myself on a very slippery slope to being a true bro.

Over the years, my urge to be athletic has come and gone. I’ve run 5ks, 10ks, 12ks, and regretfully one sprint triathlon, but up until this past month it had been very casual. I was a jogger at best, nothing more.

Well last month I ran a 5k and at the end I was given a flyer for a half marathon in October. I don’t know what came over me! Suddenly, I had signed up for it! I had plugged a half marathon into my new Nike training app!

I was training for a half marathon.

*cue dramatic music*

It got even worse this week. This week I ran 3.75 miles as part of my training program and afterwards I felt very tired and sore. I decided something had to be done, so I went to my friend who has been afflicted with bro-dom for some time now and asked for advice. She suggested looking into protein supplements.

Instead of scoffing and telling her I didn’t need anything like that, I agreed. I went out a bought a blender bottle. I’ve purchased samples of protein powder in multiple flavors. I have done a ton of research into runner supplements and the proper way to recover from a long run.

This was the final nail in my coffin, Daniel. I am officially an athlete. I am officially a bro.

Soon things will begin to change. The transformation into a true bro will start. I will start wearing snap-backs and baggy tank tops that show off my arms. I will start lifting weights and planning out my week based on what part of my body I need to work on. I will never again be able to skip leg day.

Let my story be a cautionary tale to all. Never exercise, never go outside, never let a protein shake touch your lips otherwise you will fall victim to the same fate I have. My spare time and spare cash are gone, devoured by my affliction. I will spend my days chasing that next endorphin high and the perfect running form.

There’s no hope for me now, Daniel. All I ask is that you think of me while you’re enjoying a nice movie or video game from the comfort of your own home. While you’re relaxing, I’ll be out there somewhere sampling new athletic supplements and buying fancy runners’ socks.

What a terrible, terrible fate.

-EMS

 

Serious Adulting Happened

Nowadays, everyone makes jokes about adulting.

Basically, adulting is a verb used to describe any action that fulfills an adult responsibility, like paying bills, cleaning the house, or doing yard work.

“I wrote out my monthly budget today. I did so much adulting.”

“I had to schedule a bunch of doctor’s appointment. Going to pat myself on the back for such good adulting.”

“I actually planned out my meals for the week. Look at me adulting all over the place!”

I make jokes all the time about adulting and about how good I am at it. I pay my bills, I drink eight glasses of water a day, and I get up using only three alarms. I’m such a good adult.

Well, some top tier adulting happened in my life this past Monday and it wasn’t a joking matter. I’m talking first degree, premeditated adulting.

On Monday, I drove up to Spokane and bought a car.

Two weeks ago, while Michael was coming back from Moscow, someone at a stop light threw their car in reverse and backed right into our 1997 Crown Victoria. The other driver managed to take out our entire left headlight, and when I say take out I mean you could see right through the hood of the car into the engine and out the bottom. I could see the blacktop through the hood of the car. It was bad.

Thankfully, the driver was very kind and admitted fault so we got a full insurance payout for the accident. We just had to wait to hear how much we were getting before we could do anything.

Well, Michael and I both considered repairing the Vic. We could probably find an old Crown Vic in a junkyard and pull the headlight for cheap, but fixing the body damage was going to be expensive. We thought it might be better to invest in a new car. Something actually made in this century.

Looking back, this is when we started doing the premeditating I mentioned before.

Two weeks went by and we hadn’t heard anything from our insurance. Finally, on Monday, they called back and said “We’re going to take the car and give you enough money for a down payment on something else. We’ll pay for a rental for five days.”

Well shit, we thought. Time to kick this into high gear. We grabbed our rental, a car that was so fancy I felt uncomfortable being in it, and drove to Spokane to find ourselves a used Prius.

Before heading out, Michael and I had discussed our requirements for our new car. We wanted something made in the last ten years, we wanted it to have cruise control, we wanted it to have less than 100k miles on it, and we wanted it to have no accidents on its record.

Phew, I need to take a minute. Even writing out all of our requirements is a lot of adulting. I need to take a break and go eat a pint of ice cream because no one can tell me not to. Have to remind myself that adulting can also be fun.

Long story short, we found the perfect car. A 2010 Prius for a reasonable price with low mileage. Score.

Since we brought our new car home, I’ve felt giddy. Every time I look out the window, I see our new car and I smile. I feel so cool and so very adult.

On the other hand, I feel light-headed. Looking back we went out, found a car, and agreed to pay for it for the next five years. What have we done? We had no idea what we were doing. What if we screwed up big time? Will anyone tell us if we did?

I joke every single day about how much of an adult I am, but this week I’ve never felt like more of a child. I feel like a five-year-old playing house who just mimics whatever she hears her parents say about buying cars.

Do I even properly understand cars? What does “low mileage” really mean? What exactly is a car loan? Do I even really understand any of this?

I feel like I’m the victim of a very long, elaborate prank. I feel like someone’s going to jump out and say “got you!” I have no idea what I’m doing and I feel like I shouldn’t be held responsible for my actions because, like I said, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I guess that’s the true definition of adulting. Bumbling around, bumping into things, and hoping for the best.

-EMS

Making my Own Opportunities

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

There is some controversy about where this quote comes from. It has been attributed to a Roman philosopher named Seneca, to the football player Darrell Royal, and an American insurance salesman and writer named Elmer Letterman.

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You gotta read this, Daniel. So good!

Before you start imagining me, sitting at my desk, reading classic literature and smoking a pipe, let me tell you where I actually found this quote. I found it in the wonderful novelist Nick Offerman’s book, Gumption.

Not quite as regal sounding as a Roman philosopher or great American writer, huh?

When I read this quote, it really resonated with me. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it or some iteration of it before, especially since it goes hand in hand with things like “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and “you better work, bitch.” However, I think it stuck with me because it doesn’t attribute success to just hard work. Yes, hard work is essential to accomplishing your goals, but in this day and age you could be the hardest worker and still get nowhere.

As a fellow millennial, Daniel, I’m sure you’ve heard all the terrible things people say about our generation. We’re all selfish and entitled and don’t know the meaning of hard work. As a fellow millennial, you probably also know that this is complete and utter bullshit.

It seems like every person I know who’s close to my age works their ass off. All of my friends work forty or more hours a week, find odd jobs around town to make extra cash, and still need to pinch pennies every single week. You can just glance at the news to see that people our age are having a hard time finding steady work, even with college degrees, and yet for some reason lots of people seem to think it’s our fault.

We’ve been preparing all our lives for our lucky break. Now we just need the opportunity.

After reading this quote, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own goals. Some of them I have been actively working towards, like running a half marathon. However, I realized for some of them I’m just sitting around waiting for the opportunity rather than using my time to prepare for when that opportunity arises.

Maybe the previous generation was right about me. Maybe I am just a lazy, entitled millennial.

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Me after a long run. 

One goal I’ve had since I picked up a pen was to write a novel. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school and I would love, love, love to publish one of my stories for the world to enjoy.

Except, in the last four years, I haven’t been preparing for it at all. I have written three, maybe four short stories in the past four years. That might sound like a lot, but that’s definitely not enough to prepare to be a writer. I’ve been sitting around, waiting for something to strike suddenly and change my life rather than getting up and changing my life myself.

I feel like I also sit around waiting for easy opportunities rather than taking advantage of the tools at my fingertips. Yes, it would be so much easier to get picked up by some big publishing company and have them edit and promote my work, but that won’t happen until I get my name out there. And how can I do that? Well, in this magical age of the internet, I can self publish. No one’s stopping me from writing my stories and posting them somewhere. Maybe even on a WordPress blog. What a concept!

This is where I subtly work in our new blog, Write Makes Right. See how I did that? I’m a marketer.

But there’s more to it than just posting what you’ve created on the internet and hoping people will stumble upon it. If I want to make my writing dreams come true I have to be my own editor, promoter, and manager.

Terrifying? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.

Sorry for this one being a bit rambly, Daniel. Nick Offerman talks so much about creativity and hard work in his novel that, once I finished it, I was eager to get out and just do something. Anything! I just felt the urge to create and write and this blog post is a product of that passion.

This is also an example of how I need to hone my skills if I’m going to be my own editor.

See you next week on Write Makes Right!

–EMS

I Fell Down a Hole

I have always considered myself an organized and responsible person. In college I never missed an assignment or flunked a test. After graduation, I worked diligently until I found a job and had a steady income. Nowadays, I rarely miss work deadlines, show up at least five minutes early to everything, and never run out of clean underwear.

I have also always believed that life is all about balance. No one can be organized and regimented all the time, me included. I am very responsible when it comes to work, exercise, and other household chores, but I am definitely not organized when it comes to my hobbies.

When it comes to my main hobbies, like reading, writing, crocheting, and horror movies, there is absolutely no gray zone. I swing between being completely obsessed with a book or project for days at a time and having zero interest in even thinking about it.

I recently came up with a name for my habit. I call it falling down a hole. giphy
A few weeks ago I was sitting with my coworkers outside, enjoying the sunshine and talking about books. We were talking about our favorite genres and, of course, I brought up my obsession with scary stories.

My coworkers, Stephen and Meredith, said that they had read some Stephen King, but can’t read a whole lot of his work. For every book of his they read, they have to read something light-hearted to “recover.”

In my entire life, I’ve never had to do that. When I finish a scary story, I don’t try to find some way to escape from my terror, I revel in it. I finish a scary story and then immediately search out the next scary story I can find. I can’t get enough. I need more, more, more. A few years ago I read my first novel by Jack Ketchum. It was gruesome and terrifying and stomach-turning and I immediately wanted more.

Can’t stop, won’t stop. That’s basically my policy when it comes to my hobbies.
Well, it is until the switch in my brain is suddenly flipped off and I lose all interest. And when I say a switch if flipping, I’m being very serious. It’s not a gradual thing. I put something down and then just don’t pick it up for months and months.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll finish a book if I start it and if I’m crocheting something for a friend I’ll always finish it. But if it’s something I’m just goofing around with then there’s a good chance I’ll put it on a shelf and just forget about it. I have so many partially finished novels and crochet projects just laying around.

You’d think for being the most organized person in my office I’d be more organized when it comes to my own hobbies, but nope! Apparently all of the energy I use to stay on track I use at work.

Fuck everything else in my life I guess.

-EMS

Going Camping

This week, I had planned to write the beginning of a short story that we would both contribute to. I was really looking forward to kicking this off and even had a few ideas for how I would start things.

And then camping got in the way.

This weekend, I’m camping in Dworshak State Park with a group of friends. I’ve been looking forward to this for months and months, and yet it still managed to sneak up on me. So much for being the organized Smudde child. So, instead of kicking off our fiction writing collaboration, I’m just going to talk about why I love camping.

When we were kids, we would go camping every summer. Sometimes we would camp with our neighbors, the Mesners, and other times we’d invite people from the Smudde clan to join us. I remember swimming and biking and roasting marshmallows. Some of my favorite memories are of us sitting around the campfire, blowing bubbles over the flames and eating scotcheroos.

When I was little, I think I liked camping because it felt like an adventure. Looking back, I honestly wouldn’t really call what we did camping. We had running water and flushing toilets and sometimes even electrical hookups so we could watch videos on our tiny TV. But, to a seven-year-old, it felt like we were really roughing it and it was exciting. I felt like I was in one of my fantasy novels, the young heroine searching for a lost treasure or some mythical woodland elf presiding over her kingdom.

Twenty years later, I still love to camp. Even at 26, I still feel like I’m going on an adventure, but now it has the added benefit of getting me away from my responsibilities. Nowadays, I have way more on my plate than I ever did when I was a kid and every year it becomes harder to de-stress. After work, I go home and try to relax, but inevitably find myself looking at my work email or thinking about an upcoming project that I need to tackle. On the days where I don’t do that, I sit around and worry about finances, about my career, about literally everything in my life. The only time I can seem to shake this off is when we go camping.

When we arrive at the campsite, the very first thing I do is shut off my phone and put it away. Basically when I go camping I disconnect from everything, but not just to relax. While camping I physically cannot connect so I’m never tempted to look at work email or poke through social media.

Going camping is not only an adventure, it’s also the easiest way to get away from everything that causes me stress.

I am so excited to head out to Dworshak this afternoon. I’m looking forward to drinking a beer by the campfire. I’m looking forward to finding a sunny spot by the water to read my book. I’m looking forward to waking up to birds chirping rather than a noisy alarm. I’m looking forward to spending time with people I love away from the stress of real life. It’s going to be a kick ass weekend.

Sorry I didn’t start our short story this week like I promised, Daniel. I’ll try to kick it off on my next post.

-EMS