14 June 2011


My blog, with all past and future entries, can now be found  at Ink and Grit. Please follow me over there.

10 June 2011

Fantasy can't last forever

Today, I'd like to write about a personal pet peeve of mine - one that I've encountered far too often. Worse yet, I've almost volunteered to run into it as often as I do as a result of the circles I choose to run in...but I'm getting ahead of myself. I am, as I feel I've said many times before, a writer. I am also a theater student and a role-player. While a good dungeon crawling session is always fun and something I've been away from far too long, most of my role-play fix comes in the form of PBP (play-by-post) forums.

An explanation, for those who may not understand: These usually take place on message boards/forums where each member writes for a different character. Everyone works together, writing through the eyes of their characters, to tell the same story. It is, in essence, communal story-telling and has been likened to a group of people, all writing the same novel. Each person brings their character and their own personal writing style to it; in the end, hopefully, you have a coherent, cohesive story. Of course, I can't say I've ever witnessed a PBP site reach an official end, perhaps because the characters always have more stories to tell.

All in all, PBP is my very favorite form of RP. It's a writing exercise, after all. By varying things like character types and background, a wealth of possible characterization is available for anyone to tap into. However, there are some who tap into it too much.

I can't stand it when the only thing people do is role-play, no matter what form it takes. Escapism is amazing and can be a wonderful break, but there are some out there who seem to forget about their real world responsibilities. Addictive personalities, perhaps? I've always wondered. In the past, even I have been guilty of this crime, spending a whole day working on a character application, trying to get inside their heads, but I have my limits. When the characters I'm writing for get to be too much, I'll get away from the computer, maybe go for a walk or a run. I'll read a book, something that has nothing to do with whatever universe my characters came from. After a few hours or days in the real world, I go back to the characters and find them fresher and easier to write for.

Excess, in anything, can be harmful to self and to others. I was once friends with someone and broke it off because all they ever discussed was our role-play characters. Frankly, it got to be exhausting. With no opportunity to distance myself from the character I was writing, the fun went out of it and the character was abandoned. I still role-play on various forums, including one I have been a member of since it's inception six years ago. I love it as much as I did when I first discovered role-playing over ten years ago. However, I urge my fellow RPers to take a step back every now and then.

There's a real world out there too. Remember to live in it and visit the others, not the other way around.

05 June 2011

Gone Running

It's time to go. My mind kicks into gear with no hesitation, but my body must be coaxed. I stretch, slowly, letting each muscle tense and lengthen. Muscles too tense, I've forgotten to breathe. As the air wooshes from my lungs, the stretch becomes easier. I can reach farther, curl in a few degrees more. Slowly, my muscles begin to revel in it, to cooperate and move as I want them to. Endorphines are flowing as my blood pumps. Another stretch, focusing on the muscles that always seem to seize up on me - my hamstrings, my sides. I check my laces once more and reach for my water bottle. Another drink, checking that at least eight ounces worth are in my system, and I'm outside.

Nature greets me in one form or another. The sun beats down; I put my shades over my glasses - no need to squint and tense up my facial muscles. The breeze runs past with all the care of a laughing child. I start walking at my normal pace until I reach the spot I've chosen. The cell phone comes out, the timer set for two minutes. I take a moment to survey my domain. Even if I'm in unfamiliar territoy, as I am now, this is something I know. Even if my feet have never before disturbed this ground, I feel it instinctively. This is where I will run. I push a button, my feet moving a second before the countdown starts.

My breathing comes easy, moving with the rhythm of my feet. Four count inhale, four count exhale. Before the two minutes are up, of course, this is completely shot. All I can do is keep my feet moving in time, my arms moving, eyes on the road. No need to look at the timer. When it beeps, I turn it off, drinking in air through burning lungs. My thumb taps a button, re-starting the countdown, as my brain forces my feet to move. This is a walk, a two minute cool down. Through most of it, I pant and gasp, trying to get my breathing back, slow in and out, through my nose. Yeah, right. Too soon, the beep sounds again. Inwardly, I groan. Just a little more walking. Thirty seconds or another minute, just until my breathing evens out.

My discipline won't let me. I tap the button again, feet moving in the same rhythm, seeming stilted and awkward. My run seems, to me, more like a hybrid of a jog and the desperate last minute sprint of the dead tired. Minute three of running passes a little easier than minute one. I hardly notice minute four, determined as ever not to look at the timer. The times I do cheat, I am proud of myself. The mantras for these cheats are one of two. "Only a minute left. You've done one, so do another." "Thirty seconds. If you reach that landmark, that sign, that tree, before the alarm, you can stop." It's all a mind game, of course. The landmark I've picked is too far ahead or so close I know I'll breeze past it and keep going.

More walking. I check my heart rate as I walk, eyes now glued to the timer as I count beats in my head. My pulse seems to be everywhere, my blood humming. I hear the echoing dull thud in my ears. I feel the beat in my shoulders, my legs tingling, aching in a positive way. Even my scalp seems to pulse with the beat of my heart. I count. One, two, three, four. My heart rate is up, where it needs to be. Another minute of walking, four total now excluding the journey to my running space. The next, I know, will be the worst. As always, I hear the beep.

 Why did I ever decide to do this? I push the button, my legs sluggish, objecting as I push forward. Minute five is the best part of my run - for about the first thirty seconds. I feel great, I'm getting fit, I'm doing something I love. All these thoughts are derailed as my focus rapidly shifts to oxygen. My whole world is the breath moving in and out of my lungs, moving too fast, giving no nourishment I can detect. There is very little feeling of relief tied to any inhale right now. It is an automatic thing, something I have to do in the same way my feet have to keep eating up the pavement.

This is the halfway point, my personal mile 20, my wall. Rhythm is gone now. There is no form to the run in my head, no feeling of my muscles working together, my body a well-oiled machine. I gasp and pant and will my feel to keep going. If I reach a hill, I feel the weight pulling at my feet, my legs. I want to slow down, to walk up the cursed incline. I want to lean forward to ease the gentle pull that feels like I'm moving through water. As always, I don't let myself. I count each foot strike, working on the most basic of the human body's actions. Breathe in. Breathe out. Keep moving your feet. One, two, three, four. Minute six seems as if it will never end, but it does. The beep sounds. This time, I come to a dead stop.

I lean over, still gasping, wondering how the hell I must look standing here, hands on knees, breathing too hard to talk. I can't swallow the saliva that has gathered in my mouth, as if my throat no longer works. I spit, just trying to get the collected moisture out of my mouth. Sweat has started. Another breeze comes by, just when I need it most. I start to walk.

My feet are sluggish and feel clumsy. Though there is no muscle ache in my legs, I don't want to move another step. One foot in front of the other. I plod now, breathing in harsh pants, pulling the air in with all the speed I can muster. I breathe through the stitch in my side, knowing that is the only way to work it out. Again, the beep. Again, the running. Minute seven is nearly as bad as minutes five and six. Minute eight is a completely different story. I've passed the wall. I find my rhythm again, or some shadow of it. Air is what it was when I started almost fifteen minutes ago, something that comes easily, in more generous amounts. I've passed the wall and run eight minutes. I walk, wishing, as I did in my walking minute four, that I could just keep running. That feeling, in minute eight, is why I run. In minute eight, minute nine, minute ten, I am invincible. In this time, I truly feel like a runner.

I toy with the idea of running another two minutes. No. Not yet. I know I need to quit while I'm riding the high; quitting a workout while I feel miserable could make me quit altogether. I head home, walking, taking my time, still pulling hard breaths, but I don't care. At home, I'm careful. I stretch, loving the way sweat covers me like a thin second skin. These stretches are slower, cool down stretches. I mentally tabulate the way each muscle feels, the way it moves. Is anything too tight? Did anything pull or hyper extend? Is there any pain?

I find water, careful not to drink it too fast, careful not to stand too close to the fan. Cooling down too quickly seems like a bad idea; my mind rebels against the idea of hopping in the tub immediately after a run or even of sitting down right after. Rather than read or research, I trust my body. My body says cooling down too fast is dangerous as wearing sandals in long grass when you know a snake is there. I take my time, walking, not settling anywhere. My pacing makes others edgy at times, but right now, I don't care. I listen to my body.

I'm home a good ten minutes before I dare to look in the mirror. The sweat is still a sheen on my arms and legs as I move to the mirror. Secretly, I dread the day I come in from a run and find my face bone pale instead of red. That would mean a drop in sugar levels. I can't afford that. Of course, my face is pink, as always. Pink, I can live with. It means I've exherted myself, but in a good way. I've taken care of my body's needs without putting any kind of a toll on myself. My hair is wild, sweaty, my eyes glowing with pride. In the mirror, I smile.

No matter my pace, no matter my rythym, my pink face and the sweat on my skin are a confirmation I find myself needing. Rhythym will come later. Breathing easily will come later. Speed and endurance will come later. I've taken the first steps. I feel great and am ready to face the rest of my day. I am a runner.

02 June 2011

Summer in Dallas

No, I'm not on a glamorous vacation. I got a call, very unexpectedly, last Wednesday, telling me that I was needed at Dallas' Shakespeare in the Park. Translation: I got my theater internship. This means I will graduate on time!

After some mad rush packing, Mom and I drove up to Dallas. She catches a flight out of D/FW tomorrow, more details about the trip coming on her blog. I've spent the past week working up at the theater and have loved it. I'm the sound intern, also known as the E3. It will be my job, during the run of the show, to cue up the programmed sound effects when they are needed. For now, I view myself as just another techie.

Tech work is the thing I love most about theater. Wires and cables, screws and nails, tie line and wood, I'll work with most any material and do most any job. So far, I've hung speakers, ran wires, built and positioned 20 and 30 foot steel towers to hang lights from, cleaned mics, and untangled more cable than I'd care to remember. It's all been a lot of fun. I'm keeping hydrated (it's an outdoor theater), eating well, and even gaining some muscle from helping lug around heavy equipment. My internship is supposed to end about a month before the fall semester starts; maybe I can keep whatever weight, muscle, etc. I develop out here. Fingers crossed!

10 May 2011

Sore muscles

Went on another run today. I am still keeping walking in my alternating routine. I managed to run two minutes in a row instead of just one and did a total of ten minutes running time. My muscles are very sore now, but I'm still loving it. Taking it easy this evening and will determine whether to run tomorrow or give my legs a day to recover. I need to figure out a few more hamstring stretches; my right hamstring is getting sore faster than my other muscles. for now, my focus for each run is time, not distance. After I get some good endurance, a good base on it, etc. I'll start tracking my mileage. Til then, I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other!

I've noticed lately that my interest in spending time online goofing around has seriously waned. I don't want to role-play as much as I used to; I haven't been on twitter or facebook in ages. This has really got me to thinking, wondering why this change has come after a lot of time with the internet as a prime source of recreation that I chose to fill so much of my time. Guess I forgot how much I really enjoy being on my feet and doing things. Maybe in time, I'll be running instead of sitting in front of the computer.  Maybe. ;)

09 May 2011


The semester's nearly at it's end and the past few days have been great. Today, I went to my end of semester conference for the theater department and it went really well. I was commended for my organizational skills and paperwork - something I need to improve in my life outside of school. After the conference and listening to a lot of talk about how I need to design more, be more creative, etc. I realized that I am not a designer. I am a technician. My skills lie in the act of carrying out someone else's design rather than coming up with my own. I'm just not necessarily that inventive on my own.

Thankfully, it was fairly cool out today. I was able to go for a run, my first since deciding I want to try and become a runner. I went up to the graveyard by our house and did some jogging. I jogged one minute, then walked on minute, alternating like that. On the way home, I ran between landmarks I saw, so there was no focus on time. If I'm right, I ran a total of five minutes. It may not sound like much, but as someone who walks exclusively, I'm taking every small bit of improvement as great gain.

I started hydrating a few hours before my run, then got my run postponed while I joined Mom, Other Mom, and Ms. Emma in running some errands. I did regret slightly that I started my run without any fluids in my possession since my water bottle was at home and I got dropped off so I could run sooner. Nevertheless, I did enjoy my run. I need to work on my rhythm and finding my stride as well as breathing properly while I run. I also need to reach a point where I can run for a whole minute without wondering when I can stop. All this, I know, will come with time and practice.

I'm already looking forward to my next run!

11 April 2011

A new relaxation plan

I'm using the word "relaxation" somewhat incorrectly because my plan has very little to do with the relaxing most people think of. I'm not thinking of taking it easy or spending a day doing nothing. Instead, I'm thinking about ways to relax my body, to make me less aware of it, less concerned about how I look to others. Yesterday, I managed it. How do I know, you ask? The answer is quite simple.

At rehearsal last night, the director praised me. He said I was doing a great job and had been doing everything he'd asked me to, from my voice to my movement. Then, he gave me ideas to inject a little more character into my lines. I know this is pretty standard; after all, this is the meat and potatoes of what acting is. However, it's big news for me because I never made it past the basic bread and butter stage of "we can't hear you! speak up!"

I credit last night's extreme relaxation to the fact that I spent the day with Emma. I watched her all day and most of that time was spent out on the swing, me pushing her. I swear we went out there no less than half a dozen times and each swing session lasted at least fifteen minutes. At least, that's how it felt to me. I was completely amazed at how happy she was, just for this simple act from me. All she wanted was for me to push her on the swing, for us to spend time together. I am so grateful that I got to spend so much time yesterday with my sister, even if there had been no benefit for me.