Friday, March 27, 2009

Wogging for a Cure

So a few weeks ago I dug my running shoes out of the bottom of my shoe box, dusted them off and laced them up. I donned my new t-shirt, safety-pinned a number to my abdomen, and went to meet a few members of my family for my yearly run.Seeing as I am a shape, but not generally considered "in" one, what was a run for some people ended up being a wog in my case. That's a walk/jog for those of you not hip with my lingo. After a few minutes huddling together in the pre-sunrise chill, the Rex Lee Run run for a cure started up. Uncle Rich took off to work the 10k, and after all those people crazy enough to join him were safely out of our way, the 5k-ers got to start. Audrey and I started jogging from the beginning, and Mom and Janis brought up the rear. Audrey could have dusted me, but was nice enough to keep me company. At my suggestion, Audrey and I walked up most of the uphill slopes, and then jogged on the downhill stretches. I made decent time for me, especially seeing as I've pretty much been in hibernation between finishing up my dissertation and the chill in the weather. I really haven't gotten out much. I fully plan on remedying that. Soon. Tomorrow, in fact.
Back to the race... There were tons of people cheering along the raceway, icluding Scooby-Dooby-Doo! I got a quick breather while Audrey posed for the camera. I did manage to come in ahead of 183 people! I'm not going to mention the exact number of strollers that were breezing past me in the early, middle, and late stages of the race because that will bruise my ego, and how silly would I be to post that kind of thing on the internet?
Audrey came in 42 places ahead of me. Janis came just ahead of Mom, and they beat 36 and 35 people, respectively, including all of the racers that were in wheelchairs.
Audrey and I got in enough ahead that we were able to capture the moment when Janis and Mom crossed the finish line. Uncle Rich got a medal for his stellar performance, and we got to watch him being interviewed for KBYU tv, and being photographed while being interviewed. Goofy hat and all :)
In order to recoup all of the calories we just burned, we went and had a late breakfast at IHOP. Good times all around!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The little bearded man

My roommate Michele is engaged to Alan. As such we see him a lot more these days. All in all, I'm OK with the whole thing. He's nice and all, and he compliments me alot. OK, not really all of the time. Some of the times. Mostly when I have food and he wants some of it. But I'll take what I can get these days! I don't relish the thought of not living with Michele anymore because she's so crazy fun. We'll just have to pack in the fun the next month or so!

Alan is a bit of an enigma. Sometimes I don't know who he is. At times he's so innocent and cuddly-looking, and I can see what Michele sees in the dude.

But there are other times when he's anything but. Every now and then I catch a look of pure animosity directed right at me. This sometimes happens when Michele is around, but never while she's paying attention. And that makes me a little concerned. Does Michele know this side of Alan? Maybe she does! That's a scary thought. Maybe she has a corresponding evil side that clicks with the evil gleam I've caught in Alan's eye. Maybe they're plotting against me!

That's it! I'm barricading myself in my bedroom at night from now on!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'd Like to Introduce You to Me

I know many of you already know, either through facebook or through my sister's blog, but I passed my dissertation defense on Monday. So one day I'm just a lowly grad student, and the next I'm still a lowly grad student, but one who will have a title for the rest of my life. I am now Karen Merrell PhD!

I had some great support. My mom and Audrey drove up from St. George, Connie drove up from Cedar City, Aunt Janis drove down from Pleasant Grove, and Brian flew up from LA to hear the public presentation part of my defense. They were very attentive, and impressed my professors with the great questions they asked me. After my presentation, they kicked everyone out except for my committee and asked me questions for an hour. I was a little nervous about this part, since I had no idea what to expect, but it went over pretty well. There were a few questions I didn't know the answer to, the answer to one of them should have been obvious to me but wasn't, but I knew everything else they were asking me. For the most part, I even knew why they were asking me them.

Well, then they kicked me out, deliberated for five minutes or so and then called me back in and congratulated me. And then handed me back the huge stack of corrected dissertations. And now I have to go back and correct them, tweak the format so they can be submitted to the library electronically, and then I make 6 or 7 copies on fancy scmancy paper, and then submit them to be bound and whatever else they do with them.

Well, that's my story. Kind of crazy! It hasn't sunk in yet, I think. But it does feel great to be done. I feel more relaxed than I've been in months!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Smell and Memory

So there are some smells that instantly transport me back in time. The smell of cinnamon-scented Glade air-freshener takes me back to Grandma Merrell's house in Animas, the smell of Woolite takes me back to washing sheep at the fair, the smell of horses take me back to most of my childhood as does the scent of burning trash (we lived in the sticks, ok? everyone burned trash). The smell of cows takes me back to the interstate right outside of El Paso. The smell of a Pantene sometimes takes me back to the time I went to the Air Force Academy for a week in the summer. Sometimes when I'm walking in the rain, a breeze will rush by adding a subtle scent that I can't really put in words and I'll feel like I'm in Argentina again. All of these are fairly normal to me and don't really catch me off guard anymore. Sometimes I'll pause and bask in the memory before going on with the rest of my life. Every now and then an unusual smell will take me back to an unusual place. Like today, for instance.

I went to the dentist today. Nothing unusual so far, other than the timing. My dissertation is due to my comittee members in about 16 hours or so, so I probably shouldn't have taken the time to go the dentist, but I scheduled my appointment back when I was deluding myself that I would have my dissertation done mid-February. Back to the story...

So I'm laying back in the chair watching the end of Transformers on the ceiling (this is some fancy dentist's office!) feeling a little sad that I had so much work left to do tonight. I wasn't really bemoaning the work, but rather the fact that to keep my wits about me I turned down the opportunity to suck on a little happy gas. I briefly considered it but realized that Dissertation + happy gas+ looming deadline = train wreck. It would probably be a funny train wreck, but not worth it in the long run. I have been working on this degree for just under 6 years now, after all. Not worth the risk.

(Author's note... Some of you squeamish folk might not appreciate the next paragraph. I think it's funny, but my sense of humor runs toward to the macabre at times. Don't say I didn't warn you...)

So I'm in the chair and the dentist is drilling some tooth in the lower left quadrant of my mouth. The sound was pretty much horrible and I could see smoke coming up out of my mouth, but neither of these things really affected me. After all, that's kind of SOP for getting cavities filled. The smell of my own teeth burning, however, took me back about 5 years or so to when I got lasik surgery to correct my vision. Suddenly I was in a different chair, hugging a very large stuffed rabbit for comfort (even though I wasn't all that nervous at first. I'm just saying that if you were laying there with your eyeballs peeled and some nurse puts a large soft plush thing on your chest, you would hug it too!), and instead of my jaws being held open, there were these metal hook things holding my eyelids open. My eyelashes were taped out of the way, my corneas were peeled back, my vision was very very blurry (what with the corneas not being in their accustomed spot and all), and I was staring into a blinking red light smelling my own eyeballs being vaporized. The smell of vaporizing eyeballs isn't the same as the smell of burning teeth, but today my brain linked them somehow. Weird. Neither of these experiences was a bad one. In fact, I'm really happy with my lack of needing contacts and I will be happy with my cavity-free teeth as soon as I can feel the right side of my face.

What smells take you guys other places?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Everything is so Amazing, and No One is Happy

A friend shared this video with me a few days ago. I think it's a great commentary on how we as a society are so used to the amazing things that we have right now. I, for one, have spent some quiet time alone pondering and being amazed at some of the amazing technologies of this day and age. Indoor plumbing, the interweb, cell phones, chocolate, the list goes on and on...