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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Singing in!

After the sun set, we piled too much food and our bodies into the car for a roadtrip to Iowa. We had planned to stay in Cedar Rapids, IA for just one day to see my dad. Under the assumption that it would take us about 14 hours to get there, we brought a collection of CD's and a fully loaded MP3 player to keep the driver company during the lonely hours of the early morning. With our two media players, we also brought two converters for the tape player, so that we could listen to our music. Sadly, neither of the converters worked. So, we were forced to spend the duration of the road trip either talking or in silence.

Being that I don't drive and we were left without music to guide our travels - I was the self proclaimed entertainment for the duration of the journey. After downing an energy drink, my friend and I discussed politics for awhile, before my brother took the wheel. This was an initially frightening experience, the car that we were driving was a manual and Brother had never driven one. He learned quickly and then we swapped stories for a few hours until I crashed.

On not nearly enough sleep, we made it into Cedar Rapids and spent the day with Dad. We had an awesome good time, reminiscing and catching up. We ate sick-inducing Chinese food and called it a day, heading out just as the sun rolled down toward the horizon.

After chugging another energy drink, Brother took the wheel and my friend passed out in the back. While Brother drove and my friend slept, I sang every song that I could ever remember. Sometimes Brother would pick up the lyrics I had forgotten and he would remind me of another song that we used to rock out to. The drive home went remarkably quicker than the drive out, which leads me to conclude that you don't need a stereo and music when you've got a vocal box and energy drinks.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Get into it

When I first started attending Metro, I had little interest in doing more than just attending my classes. Most of my friends were off campus, so I was able to snooze a bit in the student lounges and use my down time to complete assignments. When I first registered, I decided to be an arts major, even though I couldn't really draw. After my first semester I scrapped that plan, deciding that photography was just a hobby and if I decided to study fashion design (the original plan), I'd need to transfer schools - so I registered for classes that would help me grow while fulfilling my core req's.

About a year before the last presidential election, I registered for American National Government and Intro to Philosophy. Both of these classes sparked something in me: a hunger to learn as much about the world, politics and philosophy as possible; and then a need to take action.

Once that spark was ignited I changed majors and decided to simply make clothes in my spare time. I've also gotten involved, on campus and off. Some friends and I created a women's art collective called Luna City, which sadly only had a brief run. Then, Last year I participated in Take Back the Night, which is a women's march to reclaim the streets without fear of sexual assault and was an active member of NARAL Auraria (the National Abortion Rights Action League), among other things. I have also traveled to Cuba (where my friend and I rode our bikes cross country) to understand how Castro's regime was working and how the notion of communism had been whittled down to nothing more than a tool for brain-washing.

Also during the last year, I worked on Campus in the Office of Institutional Advancement with a wonderful group of people who are working hard to make Metro State a better place. I.A. is the office where research, grantwriting, fundraising and scholarships are developed and instituted. They also work hand-in-hand with College Communications (which is how I got the blogging job - thanks guys!) and Alumni Relations. Without the experience of working on campus, I may have never felt confident enough to apply for scholarships nor have gotten to know so many wonderful individuals on campus!

Now, I'll admit, it's dificult to find a moment to snooze on campus & I have to hide to get any homework done, but college has become a much more challenging and enjoyable experience. Besides, the more students you know, the less likely it is you'll take a lousy class.

Basically, prospective students, what I'm trying to tell you is that if you get involved college will be more fun than it is work. When you get involved, you might even be as lucky as Jack, Amber & I, and the powers that be will decry that you deserve a soapbox! Or at the very least you'll know more people to throw water balloons at on those first couple weeks at school.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In the mean time...

When you are young and poor - you may find yourself in a similar situation as me. A situation where, in an effort to save money during the school year, you paid for cheaper health insurance than Metro offers to save money. If you find yourself in this situation, do exactly as I didn't, maintain that health insurance at whatever cost. Otherwise, if you are also adventurous, you may find yourself in my current situation, with an injury and without health insurance (opps!).

As I've been tending to an ankle injury for most of the summer; friends, friend's parents, my parents, shoe-sales people and strangers alike have been quick to offer unsolicited advice as to how to tend to my injury. While I appreciate most of their input and have followed-up on many of their recommendations (considering that most of the advice has been echoed by numerous people) - I've come to develop a repertoir of my own. If you, fellow Metro student (or prospective Metro student, as it were) find yourself in just my situation with a similar injury or are simply sick of doctors trying to treat the symptoms instead of healing the whole body - then consider the words I am about to offer you.

I will give you fair warning: I AM NOT a medical professional or a healer of any kind, but I will try to give you an honest impression of my experiences with these healing methods while trying not to bore you.

R.I.C.E. This was the first program reccomended to me.

Rest: Definitely the most difficult, but the most rewarding. When you injure yourself - take it easy (don't be dumb and push yourself the second you start to heal - opps).

Ice: This reduces the swelling and is good for a fresh injury, but will make the area incredibly stiff - so I found it best to massage the injury lightly after each icing.

Compression: This reminds you that you're injured and is helpful as long as the compress doesn't cause you pain.

Elevation: This method works wonders for people that can pull it off, I would not (however) recommend this if you've injured your legs and are hitch-hiking.

Heat: Opens the area up and is best for old injuries.

Homeopathy: Works if you believe it will (banks on the placebo effect) - but has no more healing capabilities than a water filled pill.

Accupuncture: Really awesome for relaxation and pain relief as well as other forms of healing, but I wouldn't reccomend accupuncture for pronated arches and mis-aligned legs. Also, the needles don't hurt AT ALL

Vitamins and Eating Healthy: Speeds up the healing process. Really do you honestly believe fast food and soda are good for your immune system?

Massage: Amazing pain relief that offers no long term fix.

Custom Inserts & New Shoes: By far, the best affordable treatment that I've found. The brand of inserts that I have are "Super Feet," they work wonders and they're pretty cheap (compared to orthodic inserts).

Rolfing: Seems to be the best approach for fixing allignment issues, but is also quite pricey (so I'll be saving for it). Rolfing is a deep tissue (read - painful) massage that seeks to realign how your muscles sit on your bones in about 10 sessions. Imagine grabbing your misalligned muscles and moving them permanantly to their proper place - yowza!

Free Clinics w/ Doctor's who don't know anything about ankle injuries: While these clinics and doctors rock for offering services to the poor - I would skip them.

Cortozone Shots: No thank you!

Until next week....

Friday, July 14, 2006

Coffee talk...

Minutes after deboarding a clammy (and smelly) bus to prematurely end this summer's adventure, I bought a laptop. Spending as much time as I do in coffee shops, I've often pined after the sleek accessibility and transportability of the laptops many cafe-brats carry with them like so many alcoholics who carry their sanity in a cheap bottle of vodka. I simply carried a spiral bound notebook. The laptop I was able to afford is not some uber-new, super fancy monument to modern technology. In fact, very few coffee drinkers will look to my laptop and drool. The laptop I ended up with did not "break the bank" (as they say), nor will I be forced to make payments on it from now until my salt and pepper hair turns silver (yes twenty somethings do grow grey hairs - in fact I've had them since I was 17). Truth be told, I scored my new laptop for the small price of $50. Its old. Its noisy. Its slow. But, hey, I could afford it.

Personally, I don't think my laptop makes me cooler. It doesn't give me special powers. It connects to the internet and it has a word processor. That's all that matters to me.

Every semester that has gone by, I've had to learn the hard way that the computer labs close at 10pm. Until now, it seemed that all the forces working against my homework habits had been culled into being. Now I can pull all-nighters to finish papers without calling everyone I know to find a computer to use. Yes, oh yes, now I can caffeinate while fervently working on assignments. It is oh-so-grand to embrace the world of educational convenience.

Prospective students, if you've hung on this long, allow me to offer a modicum of unsolicited advice: (assuming you don't have one of your own) try to get a computer that connects to the 'net and that allows you to complete assignments at your leisure before starting college. Don't skip college for a computer, but please acknowledge that your life will be SO MUCH EASIER with one, than without.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Challenge!?

My (ex) cycling partner who recently graduated, once explained "that people shouldn't leave college with more than one vice." While I heard this to be sound advice, I wonder how possible it is for many people to leave with only one. It seems like more and more, college is a time for heady learning coupled with caffeine; intense assignments broken up by smoke breaks; and the build up of stress released through alcohol. Maybe a lot of people don't follow that curriculum, but enough people in Denver imbibe, for Men's Health to have considered Denver to be the "drunkest big city" in the U.S for 2004. Beyond that I've talked to enough bleery eyed students clutching caffeinated beverages over smoke breaks, to assume that more than a few students cope with their syllabus this way.

As for me, I'm determined to end this vicious cycle of self-torture, and really what time could be better than when one is healing. Yes, yes, it seems insane to think that someone who would be crazy enough to bike across the country would also smoke cigarettes, but I did. In fact, the second that my ankles started bothering me, I started smoking again. So, in consideration for my health, when I got back to Denver I decided to do a cleanse for a week, in order to rid myself of the nasty toxins that made me crave cigarettes. This worked for all of about four days after the cleanse, when I drank a few beers at a smoky bar, pre-smoking ban, with some friends and started smoking again.

By this time, I'm truly a pro. I've quit. I've quit quitting. And I've always come back to being a quitting quitter who quit quitting (try saying that three times fast). This time, however, I'm going to make it stick, so I've resolved to quit alcohol for as long as it takes for me to quit cigarettes (and maybe longer). After all, in the immortal words of my (ex) cycling partner, college students should try to take only one vice with them post graduation and I prefer coffee. Even if too much coffee and too little sleep make Mary something something...

Here's the challenge, should you choose to accept it: for every cigarette you catch pursed between my lips from here on out, call me out and I will pay you a dollar (and no fair trying to sway the judge with your cigarettes, that's just cheating). Now let the games begin.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Book rant

Since arriving in Denver I've been reading all the books, articles and news that I normally don't have time for, because, normally, I'm reading books, articles and news for classes. I've been lucky at Metro, most of the reading I've done for classes has been enjoyable, because many of the professors I've had care about the students.

Metro isn't a "money" school, it's affordable higher education (say what?!). Yes, it's true, affordable higher education actually exists, it's not just an oxy moron. Many of the professors teach, because they love learning and they want to teach so they can repay the gift of their knowledge. Sure, I've taken some classes with professors that teach from textbooks, but hey, teaching (like most things) is an art that requires practice to perfect.

Spending time amidst so much information is incredible, sometimes I wish I could take the knowledge intraveinously so that I'd have the opportunity to learn constantly. I admit it, I'm a total nerd. I love the smell of book binding glue and freshly sharpened pencils. Judge me if you will, but education and experience are two things no one (except in distopian sci-fi stories) can ever take from you and believe me, knowledge is far sexier than a large bank account.

Friday, June 23, 2006

So it goes...

8 days ago, my cycling partner and I left her family's home in Columbus, to jumpstart our adventure. Cognizant of my ankle pain, we decided to take it easy. As it turns out taking it easy was utterly impossible. We biked about 65 miles and for much of the latter half of the ride I sprinted. I couldn't help myself, it felt so good to be back on my bike with the wind in my face going deliciously fast through rolling country side and yet another Springfield.

During this ride, about one hour before sunset, my cycling partner got the first flat of the trip so we stopped on the edge of town so she could fix her flat and I could get ice for my ankles. After we hit the road again, we found a state preserve about 10 miles later where we could camp.

7 days ago, we woke up, geared up, stretched and took off. Not even 5 miles into the ride, my ankles hurt bad enough that I had to stop. I realized that I could endure the pain and if I was lucky, we could make it to Missouri knowing that I may never be able to ride again, let alone walk. Or, I could make the wisest decision for my body and I could return home.

Realizing this and communicating it to my concerned, yet hopeful, cycling partner are on two utterly different levels of difficulty. We finally stopped about 5 miles later at a gas station & my cycling partner's dad generously offered to come pick us up.

I packed my box and was on a bus within a few hours of arriving in Columbus while my cycling partner decided to stay a few more days with her family.

Since arriving in Denver I've been staying in a house built in the late 1800's with yellow walls, two cats, too many plants to count, a shower knob that you have to turn the wrong way to receive hot water and my good friend.

I'm jobless, homeless (although I do have a place to stay for the moment) and recuperating. I've had the opportunity to make art, read books, think and write (four of my favorite hobbies). Being back in Denver because of an injury, is not where I expected to be in late June, but it's been a good opportunity to do all the things I rarely have time to do.