Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spandex, A Warm Hat and the Proper Playlist

I have never been much of a runner. Even at my best, I would like to call myself a runner, but I am nowhere near the die-hards. Nonetheless, I do run. I joined my high school's track team my freshman year, but as a thrower for the javelin; it was not until sophomore year, when I switched to the sprinter's group did I really start running. The itinerary consisted of numerous drills, sprints, exercises, and runs up hills at Washington Park. Sticking with sprinting the remaining three years of high school helped launch me into the first emergence when I truly was a runner for a brief summer. I still do not quite call myself a runner, since now as in all my life, I diversify. In high school, I was a three sport athlete. In addition, swimming and anything water related has always been, and always will, be my first love.

Junior year in high school I began running even when it wasn't track season. Initially it was as a break from swimming and the desire to be active for pre-season of track. The season came and passed in the spring, yet I kept going. That summer, I ran five to six days a week generally in the mornings. To this day, I'm not sure how I managed to have that much motivation to wake up early and run during the summer, normally before 7 am. I guess it was better than roasting. I ran between three and six miles every day. While there can normally be an bit of an initial struggle with new exercise routines, I do not remember any such hurdle. All I remember is a sense of being free. There is tranquility for me in swimming, but there is freedom in running.

May it be the morning wind rushing to greet you, the view from looking back after a hard hill, or just the air tingling against your skin, there is a freedom in running. I generally run during the Thanksgiving break because I am away from a pool, however, it's normally a little jaunt around my uncle's neighborhood. This morning, I joined my aunt and several of her friends at a large park at the base of a hill, called "Mountain Park". It was blustery, it was around 31 degrees and I couldn't be happier. Staying with them for the first lap around a local football field, I broke off after to run the large figure eight and off trail runs. There was me, the sky, the ground below me, and that biting bitter wind.

I oscillate between swimming shape and running shape. The two never seem to want to coincide, but remain like oil and vinegar, so while I am sure this is no great feat for some of my runner friends, I was pretty damn proud to run four miles and then rejoin to walk with my aunt's company for the total of an hour.I have not run four miles straight in a while. I have done it before, but it is primarily an challenge of willpower, not of physical stamina. Breaking free of personal limitations, running is empowering. Running is beating yourself, beating a friend, and telling the wind to blow off because you've got your gloves and warm hat on. With the proper playlist and spandex protection, you are invincible. Swimming is tranquility; running is freedom.

EDIT: I normally don't do this, adding topics, notes or editing my blog posts in general, but well the coffee I had at 7 am has definitely worn off. I would like to run more at school, I really would, but my body no longer can stand waking up before 8. This leaves me running after work, around 10 pm, but while I can battle the cold, I cannot battle the neighborhood lack of safety in Troy, thus leaving me to settle for a treadmill at the gym. Last time I ran outside after 9 pm in the winter was when I needed a release or social holocaust would ensue. The time before that, well a good friend tries to prohibit me from running late unless I somehow acquire a Batman quality utility belt full of mace, a light, probably a small knife, and general anti-abducting anti-rape supplies.

Anyone want to help me make a utility belt?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Notable Mention

There are few things in life which can bring about the same kind of satisfaction as a good hamburger.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wish List Wednesday!....Not Quite

Apparently today is Wednesday. Normally the progression of Wednesday into Thursday makes sense, however, since tomorrow's Thursday is Thanksgiving, my mind has been a bit more preoccupied in the business of not thinking. How can one be preoccupied by not thinking? This phenomenon is not the same as "spacing out", but rather a symptom induced by public transportation during the holidays. When I travel for the holidays, normally flying between the coasts, I get in a zone of "get there, get on, get done". I am an experienced traveler, having been flying regularly since I was three. I'm a veteran, a pro, a jaded old man in a sea of inexperienced travelers, which is perhaps why I tend to become irritated quickly with ignorance and rudeness traveling. Adding the peppermint topping to my holiday cake of annoyance is the fact that it's the holiday season; have some courtesy and goodwill towards your fellow man already people.

The modified Wish List Wednesday is thus: a few simple tricks and tips to making yourself courteous during travel in the holidays.

1. Your personal bubble applies to all senses. While no one is a fan of others approaching uncomfortable closeness (hogging the arm rest at the movies, breathing down your neck in line, crowded parties), it bears mentioning that your personal bubble, or personal space, applies to more than just physical touching. If you insist on listening to the newest Rhianna tune, or cannot live without hearing the metallic clash of a sword playing on your Nintendo DS, that's fine. Just remember that not everyone shares your taste or interests, and kindly plug in some headphones.

2. You are not the king of the castle. When waiting for your mode of transportation, be it bus, train or airplane, you will most likely be carrying some form of baggage. Let's face it, checked baggage fees are worthy of blood pressure spikes, however, that does not give you the right to sprawl your belongings everywhere. If you are carrying extra bags, do not rest them on both seats to the sides of you in a waiting area. Chances are, there is someone out there who is also tired, weary and could use a chance to sit down. They are most likely to be too tired to bother asking you to move your belongings as well, so please, keep your belongings close to you and not in the space of others.

3. Be prepared. This last tip of note mainly applies to the airline experience, since that is my most common method of getting to a destination during the holidays. Unless you have been living under a rock in America for the past ten years, you should be well informed by now of the toiletries under 3.4 ounces in a plastic bag and shoe-less rules of going through airport security. With that knowledge in mind, be aware, be prepared and act accordingly. Do not decide to follow the rules at the last minute and unpack the entire contents of your carry-on at the table at security. Airports are stressful enough as it is, so get in, get out, and try not to aggravate your fellow weary traveler.

Having arrived at my destination of scenic New Jersey by train for the Thanksgiving holiday break and having a good laugh at all the travelers in Penn Station, I wish you all safe travels this holiday season and a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Time to Live Up to its Name

For my few readers out there, you might be aware of the title, or name of my blog, "Daisies, Ink and Whiskey". Originally chosen to represent all my random and thought out musings, the three items were chosen as the flagship because they are the items that get me through the good and the bad of life: the stouts and the I.P.A.'s, the bourbon and the tequila, you get the idea. I meant to start an undertaking a while ago when I published in the summer asking for a call of something new to drink. While many a liquid has tempted my palate and landed on my tongue, and sometimes in the sink, I do not claim to be an expert in alcohol. I would like to think I know wine better than some friends, but I do not feel that I can make the same claim for beer or hard liquor. Thus, I am going to attempt to document certain spirits that leave me with a feeling of something more than your average Sam Adams. Be it beer, wine or whiskey, if I try something and really like it, you'll probably hear about it here.

Not to backtrack, but the first two liquids actually came from my 21st birthday. Starting at the bottom and building up, we have something new from a brewery I've known. Widmer Brother's Brewing Company concocts one of my favorite hefeweizens, and with this fondness I decided to take a leap of faith and try something new: the limited release Barrel-Aged Brrrbon.

This craft beer was my birthday present from my roommate Sandra. It was not wrapped, did not come with a bow, but rather came from us wandering around Hoosick Beverage as she bought the beer for my birthday party since I was not 21 yet, but being a good friend, I waited till my birthday party to drink it. It was the first drink of many I had the night of my birthday party, and I am glad that I remember it fully.

The simplest way to describe the Barrel-Aged Brrrbon is that it truly tastes like a combination of beer, specifically Widmer Brother's seasonal Brrr beer and a whiskey. The Barrel-Aged Brrrbon is their traditional Brrr aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, which helps explain it being at 9.4% APV. The lingering taste on my lips from this craft was the smooth caramel tones. Due to a vanilla note, the caramel was light and not overpowering. Not having a kick, the beer did leave the taster with a little bit of a step back at first though. The Barrel-Aged Brrrbon truly was my kind of beer. Then again though, I'm a whiskey kind of girl.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh There's No Place like Home for the Holidays

There are four days until Thanksgiving. While I love Thanksgiving, good food, warmth and family, it's completely separate from Christmas. I'm not diminishing the importance and joy of Thanksgiving, but it's got nothing on Christmas. There are four days till Thanksgiving and 24 days until I fly home to Portland. I love my friends at RPI, and I normally feel a little sad about departing for breaks, but hell, I need a trip home.

Christmas is a time of joy, giving, love and family. While Thanksgiving is also a gathering of loved ones, the holiday has been a bit undervalued for me since I do not go home. I love my family and enjoy the holiday with my aunt and uncle, but one of the reasons I go to Jersey for Thanksgiving is because I do not enjoy holiday traffic and spending around $500 for three days. With this absence of my immediate family, there may have been added weight and importance to my voyage home for winter break, even though there is possibly already an overinflated attachment to it.

I love my friends here at school, but I believe that I love going home so much for the holidays for a similar reason that I love the East Coast. There is an oldness associated with both things. The East Coast exudes a past, an aging, a history. In Portland there is my immediate family and friends that I have known for many years. While not the closest of companions for the entire time, I have known my best friend Patrick for seven years now, and my oldest dearest friend Angelina for 15 years. There is a different set of jokes, values, and sense of things with friends of old. There is a comfort of familiarity that I cannot fully explain. It is a warmth in my heart much like the snuggling against a favorite blanket, or leaning on your father's shoulder watching television together.

My Dad and I have not always had the best relationship due to a complicated intertwining of being too similar and too different at the same time. I am much more outgoing, he is much more business, and we are both too proud and stubborn for our own goods. Despite our disputes, there are certain things in my life that I hold dear because they always can transport me back to being a little girl loving my dad with unwavering adoration as he assembles my doll house for Christmas. My Dad loves Christmas. If he doesn't and I've just been wandering around with a veil over my eyes for the last 21 years, then he's doing a pretty good job of fooling me and I still love him for that.

That is family. Family is the little traditions like going Christmas shopping for Mom downtown. Family is putting up with stubborn stupidity. Family is there whether you like it or not, to be yelling in your face when you need it, to make the world a better place, and to listen even when you are crying your eyes out but they still think it isn't worth it. Family is the warmth you feel sharing the throw on the couch as you watch It's A Wonderful Life together every year. Family is love. In a nutshell, that is the core of why I become such a Christmas freak. I enjoy ever single precious moment of joy in life, and there is nothing greater that the love felt during the holidays. Spread a little love, share a little warmth, and join in if you hear me singing carols to myself as I walk around campus.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Am

Friday was such a good day for so many--still--unexplained reasons. Everything just clicked and it led to this. I actually wrote a similar passage in print in a journal of mine as well as two initial sketchings resulted. It was that great. Mainly though, the token of the greatness and glory led to a seemingly obvious revelation.

I am awesome.

I set out initially to write this post on Friday, full of gusto, filled with the ripe enthusiasm dripping with pride and satisfaction, however, upon reflection, composing it after the fact on what is now Tuesday gives me a greater understanding of it. On Friday I was on a high. The day was great, my friends were and always are awesome and everything clicked. The flip-side to the greatness is that I was enjoying it too much and hence didn't compose an entry that could have possibly been too overzealous. Reflection is a powerful tool in life. While somethings may diminish with time, reflection strengthens and transforms experiences into something even more beautiful than they could have been alone.

This past year for me has been full of ups and downs. Spring had many more downs than ups, summer allowed me some time to myself, and fall has been generally ups. I had one of the best birthday weekends I ever had for my 21st birthday full of fun, friends and sweet sentiment. I am generally an optimistic, open, happy person which suits me but can have some pitfalls that leave me open. I am open because I am me. I am uninhibited, free, open and myself.

Being me includes great joy, but much like this year, some downsides. I have always harbored insecurities in some part of my life. Many of my insecurities I view as faults, flaws that knock me down, or reasons why someone wouldn't want to be around me. A lot of negatives can and did get reflected back at myself without considering that it could be the other person or even circumstantial, and no one's fault. I have hurt greatly in the past, I have hurt others, and for the first time, experienced the pain of seeing your heart shattered right before your eyes. Everything in these situations was my fault. Not to be a drama queen, but everything was about me. This focus is neccessary sometimes, but I realized recently that I never applied my mantra of moderation and balance in life to my own emotions.

In the words of my good friend and roommate, "You're Katie f***ing Lawler".

Yes, yes I am. I'm Katie Lawler and I am awesome.

Self confidence is a trait I've been told I emulate in the past, but I think in the past I did a good job of wearing the mask of confidence. It is nice to know that self confidence is glowing within me even when the mask is off.

I like myself and I am hella awesome.

What is the Magic Recipe?

A lot of people look forward to Friday for many reasons. It marks the beginning of the weekend which is a much sought after time of relief, excitement, relaxation, joy and celebration. Friday marks the end of the work week for most individuals, putting a close on the dreary dull monotomy of the daily grind. The day is like an open point on our continuous cycle of life to me, the limit approaches it from both sides but never seems to be fully reached, hence being represented as an open point. Friday in the morning can be dull, in the end amazing, but what about the midday? For some reason, for me Friday is a good day. Not purely because it is Friday, but today is simply a good day.

Today is a good day, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's because I have not had a Nonlinear Programming homework assignment in a bit, but it's a good day. Generally my Tuesdays and Fridays are fairly relaxed academically only having one class from 2-4 pm. This schedule allows for a good deal of freedom in enjoying Thursday evenings after water polo practice and a way to ease into Fridays. Generally I still wake up early and am productive, but today I woke up around 11. Maybe it was my bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds cereal. That stuff is delicious and almost deserves a post of its own.

Perhaps I'm having a good day because I slept in. Even though I fell asleep between 2:30 and 3 am after a fun trip to the Ruck with friends, I not even hit the snooze button, but instead to change my wake up time all together. Eight hours of sleep really does do a body good. From the lips of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music:
Strength doesn't lie in numbers, Strength doesn't lie in wealth, Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumber

Restful nights of sleep do wonders for one's disposition, health and soul, that and I enjoy lounging around in my pajamas for extended periods of time.

Maybe I've had such a good day due to being able to mentally check out in my graduate course, Nonlinear Programming. We are currently focusing on algorithms, and the professor almost gave permission to not pay attention for those who had already taken Computational Optimization, which I took in the spring of my sophomore year. Maybe the stars just aligned. Maybe red wine, a hefeweizen, and two Jack and Coke's combined perfectly for once?

Perhaps I had a good day due to my workout. Since I've joined Water Polo this semester, more of my workouts are either practices or getting back into swimming. While this is all fine and dandy, I have not run as often as I would like, however, there's only so much time in the day, and only so many times I can resist chocolate and comfy pj's. It could be a possibility then that the adrenalin and endorphins from my workout could have triggered a shot into the goodness of the day.

Maybe I'm having a good day for none of the above reasons at all. Perhaps the serotonin levels in my brain just achieved the ideal optimal amount. I have been happy and content all day for seeming no reason at all. Things are just good. These days are not necessarily rare, but every time they do happen I can't resist smiling to myself, walking with a bit more skip in my step, and yes I do sing to myself in public. I apologize a bit to those chance to hear it, because while I do have rhythm and enthusiasm, I am aware I don't have the best tone.

Today was and is a good day. No matter what the reason, good days just always seem to be sprinkled with a sort of magic. While young, childlike and naive, hoping for a bit of magic makes me smile just that much more. Who couldn't use more magic in their lives?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wish List Wednesday!

It is that time of the week again for another Wish List Wednesday. I recently realized that there are four and a half weeks of classes left in my Fall semester at R.P.I and my current feeling about it can best represented as thus:

This emotional sentiment comes from the compounding of the overall funk that I've been under recently combined with the fact that today was just one of those days where I woke up and really just wanted to hit the snooze button for the seventh time and not actually get up.

Under the latter pretense, the focus of this week's Wish List Wednesday is for pajamas. Along with being cuddly comfort that covers your body, pajamas may grace my wish list for Christmas. Below are three items which make me really want to just lounge around my apartment with a mug of hot chocolate with Bailey's and over-sized marshmallows. First off, despite being sometimes overpriced and having silly poses, I do enjoy Victoria's Secret merchandise, so it should be no surprise that this first set is on the list.

Secondly, while this isn't actually the classic pajama set, it's still part of the cozy ideal. Also, I have a thing for rubber duckies and it's cozy so who can argue the cuteness?

Lastly, it's cute and bright and I love plaid. That and I am getting a bit tired composing this post.

All aboard the Bedtime Express! Sleep sleep!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Murphy's Law

Not to draw too much importance or overly inflated sense of self-worth to myself, but I did enjoy the sequence of my postings with relation to certain events in my life. Namely, I lost my ski cap. I tried to go to the mall on Sunday to buy a new beanie. Plans to go to the mall fell through. On Monday it rained, sleeted, hailed and big moist fluffy snowflakes fell all through Troy.

If I was someone who believed in superstitions, the sequence would be nerve-wracking, however, as someone who laughs at herself on a daily basis, this is pretty damn funny.

I'm hopefully going to make it to the mall this weekend, assuming my friend who's driving me there isn't bogged down with work. Hopefully then, my head will achieve a needed degree of warmth and coziness. If not, well then I guess Troy will see snow again next Monday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Am a Deranged Four Year Old

Thank you God and Mother Nature! Thank the forces that be and everything encompassed in precipitation and climate.

It is currently snowing outside.

I am going a bit insane.

Although I am currently sitting in my Geology I class, every fiber of my being is yearning to be outside. As stated in the title of this post, I am a deranged four year-old. Every year when snow starts to fall, whether it be the first flakes of the season, a Christmas miracle, or even a few additional snowflakes on a blanket of white in Troy, I get a little crazy. Growing up in Southern California and then Portland, Oregon, we don't get snow. I'm not used to it. Every new occurrence is a new discovery full of childlike wonder, awe and amazement.

The first time that I remember seeing snow was on a trip with my family to Colorado to see my Uncle Mikey get married. We had sometime, and that was also the first time I learned and started to ski. Snow was and is foreign. It's white magic. It is fluffy joy. I love snow. My endless bliss for snow is probably rooted to the fact that it is rare for my native lands. Every year I have friends from the Northeast who moan and dread the onset of winter's magic, and every year they look at me as if to ask what the heck I'm smoking.

I'm joyous and crazy and am currently like a little girl who is seeing snow for the first time. It is glorious, joyous, blissful happiness.

I love snow.

I am going to go dance around at some point on campus and catch a snowflake on my tongue.

Is class over yet?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do You Remember?

While many things in life and history are subject to unnecessary and overdone romanticizing, there are a few things where loving nostalgia and idealization of the past is deserved. Childhood is one of those select subjects on many accounts from the small daily activities, places that hold fondness in our hearts, and the subject here, of relations with others and morality. In youth, black and white seemed to be all that there was. In saying youth, I am referring to before middle school, before drama, before puberty and adolescence and the gray areas. Before complications and awkward situations, there were three categories of people my own age: friends, people I didn't know, and meanie-heads.

That kind of social dynamic and world view allows for everything to be black and white. While some might find that simple, I see no problem in the simplicity. There are fewer occasions for feelings to get hurt, and if they did, well you could generally expect to see it coming or weren't surprised by the source. Things were good, or things were bad. In general I do not recall a good deal of wishy-washy-ness apart from maybe being distraught I couldn't see a friend that day.

The source of this posting and reflection isn't simply from a longing nostalgic sense for simpler times and less drama. Although it was not inspired from a large dramatic event either, but rather it sprouted from the general feel and build up of several evenings, last night and a social engagement I am attending tonight. People talk. People always have talked and always will. People change. The same applies to people. I have personally changed a slight deal since my freshman year at college. I am still the same heart, the same smile, the same demeanor that seeks to make everyone around me happy at my own expense occasionally. I still have a large heart, still have trust issues, and still am a bit of a mess and always will be, however, I'm a bit more hesitant, a bit more comfortable with myself, and most importantly a bit wiser.

Last night I found myself plunging into turbulence and tempest social seas. There are many people I like, many who I still find to be a meanie-head, but the lines between those who I am not sure of and maliciousness are blurred. Motives are involved, trust is questioned and too much doubt arises. I dislike doubt. Floating between a friend exuberant to see me and hang out, mutual acquaintances, a friend with a rocky past and someone who I have never felt comfortable around, I found myself talking to all of them. I normally believe the best in people until proven otherwise. Just last night was so confusing. I truly cannot think of another way to describe it but confusing.

When did things get so complicated? When did people stop being either good or bad? While I do not like stepping down from my proud platform of being a big girl, the hurt little girl inside of me really does want to jump down and run back to the sunshine valleys imagined on my walls in my imagination. This reflection is really as muddy as a playground puddle. Life is just confusing sometimes, and it's not even frustrating, it just is what it is: a murky mess. Doubt and I don't get along, unless it's No Doubt.

It might be a bit regressive to desire black and white morality and interaction again, but it's sure easier to paint in black and white than to create varying shades of gray.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wish List Wednesday!

November is officially here and although it is freaking me out a bit that we only have five weeks left in the semester, it is perhaps a good thing for many aspects of my life. The leaves have turned, fallen, and are transforming into a mushy slippery goo that threatens to kill me every time I walk back to my apartment. The cold has dipped down to temperatures in the 40s that feel like the 30s. My hands are cold, but thankfully my hair is not to the freezing point yet.

In that respect though, the cold is coming. Water Polo practices lasting until 11 pm will leave my head as an icy mess. Sadly, my favorite ski beanie has decided that our long, loving relationship must come to an end. After a camping trip, he left me and is either laughing at me from some corner of my apartment, blowing along the Aiderondack's or is on a mountain somewhere in Boulder, Colorado. Nevertheless, I have had my mourning period and now must move on before my hair does freeze.

The initial internet wanderings have led me to the following candidates.

This pom pom style hat makes its way to the list because of the bright colors. My last beanie of many years was a gray knit with red and orange circles, and what can I say? Old flames die hard.

Secondly, knits are always a favorite over fleece.

The second knit is also here due to color choice. I tend to wear a lot of black when I ski, so I like to break it up a bit.

Lastly, all I really have to say about this hat is that it's fun to toe the line between the light and the dark side.

Hopefully a suitable cap will find its way into my heart and onto my head in the near future. I really do not enjoy icicles for hair.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pierogie Pleasure

For various reasons, this past week has not been kind to me, so initially I was unsure and hesitant on seeking the counsel of my good friend Erin. Thankfully though, she is awesome, but also the shared comfort came in the form of food preparation. Throughout high school and when I am home, if I am happy I bake or cook. If I am stressed, I bake and cook. If I am depressed beyond believe and a crying wreck encased in my favorite fleece blanket with two kittens and a puppy on it, I will still find the life in me to wander down into the kitchen and bake and cook. For some reason, this process has been absent recently from my college years despite my sinusoidal, binomial, volatile moods and life.

Cooking always brings me comfort. I started to learn how to cook at the age of seven. My Mom and I were blessed with the best neighbor anyone could have, my next door neighbor, Gayle. Gayle was older than my mother, with her children past college and gone from the house. She was never quite a babysitter, never a nanny, never a grandmotherly type, but always an older friend dear to my heart. In second grade I would go over to Gayle's house after getting off the school bus before I began elementary school homework and dinner time. We would read, play games, and with Gayle I really learned how to cook. I also attribute a good deal of my development in finally learning how to tie my shoes, but that's another story.

Cooking from her own resources and my American Girls Samantha's cookbook, I attempted things that many people would consider more advanced than the level of a six or seven year old. A spiced carrot bisque, blueberry cobbler, pies, apple brown betty, how to sautee vegetables, there was never any doubt that I couldn't try a recipe. Everything was possible, and to be honest, a few things didn't turn out as pretty as the picture, but no matter the end result, everything was prepared with thought and love. While a good deal of my attachment to cooking comes from my own personal reflection and the tranquility that arises, I still attribute a good deal of my foundational love of cooking to Gayle. For that I still hold Gayle dear to my heart today.

On Saturday, Erin and I went to the Troy Farmers' Market and then made pierogies. For those of you who have never had a pierogie, you need to fix that. Now. Right now. Go out and buy some frozen Mrs. T's for Pete's sake. Pierogies are warm delicious happiness encased in dough, and who doesn't love dough? Maybe it's the calories, maybe it's the carbohydrates, but there is something warming and fulfilling to the soul found in dough. While I am still a bit shaky at times, more so than normal, dough helps.

Dough is also tasty as hell in any form.

Thank you Erin.