Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Death of a Semester

It is finished.

After completing my second final last week and blog-updating you on the progress, it was back to the grind for yet another fun filled adventure--this one was called Public International Law. Fortunately I had a whole week to prepare for this one. And boy did I ever need it. Day after day passed and I would roll into my bed sometime past midnight, calm in what I thought was a realistic anticipation of everything magically coming together at some point before my Thursday morning final, because, frankly, it always seems to come together in time. That optimism suddenly turned to panic on Wednesday afternoon at exactly 1:47 PM when I sat in a last minute Q & A with 50 of my closest friends and the professor of the course where it finally occurred to me that for exactly 47 minutes people had been discussing the material for a test that could make or break my entire life the next morning and I truly had no clue what was going on. For several minutes at a time I wondered whether people were speaking Hebrew. I just made sure to generally mimic the collective emotion of the class (laugh when they were laughing) so as not to blow my cover over obliviousness. This is a common occurrence for law-school-Eli during the semester but not for day-before-final-Eli who seems to have magically pulled it together by then.

So, despite the great entertainment going on in the row in front of me (Annette, one of my biggest idols and in my top 10 list of smartest people I know, was typing away on her laptop and in true Annette fashion repeating every 14th word that escaped the professor's lips, out loud and in an inquisitive tone, usually followed by a fragment of a joke related to that word; a joke that I can only imagine is utterly brilliant when connected with her thoughts), I quickly gathered my things and sprinted to the fourth floor study area that my friends and I have completely taken over and have recently named "CTU" (we have every intention of renaming it "the clubhouse" when finals are over and we are all allowed to start having fun). I slammed my 600 page case-book on a table and frantically started reading, positive that I was going to get through every page by 8:30 the next morning, or die trying.

My friends must have gotten worried about me because Corey brought me both chocolate and some drink injected with caffeine and then spent the rest of the day periodically walking into the room just to say things like, "you are SO smart! You are going to be great tomorrow. You've gone up against worse." On a side note, I always know when Corey is worried about me because she is willing to part with chocolate, a gesture that indicates that she believes I need it more than she does (and anyone who knows Corey, knows that things have to be pretty bad for her to think someone might need chocolate more than her). Additionally, Annette returned from the review and gave me a high school football coach locker room speech that you only hear in movies (the ones where a bunch of misfits form a sports team that fails until someone believes in them, thus granting them the magical power to defeat the rival team full of quasi-professional athletes (that cannot possibly be in high school based on their size and general facial maturity), which inevitably solves all of the life problems of each of the once-misfits). Her speech started out with something like, "look at me. I'm telling you right now, we are going to be fine." And it ended with her making me promise that I believed her when she swore on her life we were going to survive.

We used every precious minute until deep into the night when we all decided to get some sleep. Miraculously it did seem to come together at the last possible minute. What can I say--I like a suspenseful ending.

Two months ago Annette and I wrote in our planners that as soon as that final was finished, we were going to go to Cafe Rio, and then leisurely wander around the mall all afternoon to do our Christmas shopping. The leisurely wander was total torture after a shockingly long and hard-in-a-lot-of-ways semester, so after 2 hours of not buying anything, we went home and took naps.

Maybe this all sounds a little dramatic. I have been known to dramatize things a bit (or so I'm told). But what I've gone through on this academic roller coaster for two and a half years, and specifically, for the past few months, has really felt dramatic. So drama in my writing only seems fitting, although underwhelming from my perspective. But the challenging experiences have been unique. And I'm really grateful for every minute of it. Law school is making me better than I was. It's been really challenging. Much more so than I thought it would be. Some days it really has been hard to hang on. But I'm so happy that I have. Everyone has their own challenges--some of them are chosen, some of them are not, and some are sort of hand-picked at first but then end up being totally different than expected yet entirely nonreturnable once in their hand. I guess all of the experiences that have made up my law school career have felt like a good blend of all three of those things. Law school has shown me what my strengths and weaknesses are; it has shown me that some of what I thought were strengths are actually weaknesses; it has shown me that my limits are different than I thought they were; it has made me sometimes lose perspective, but has given me the ability to much more easily gain perspective when it sometimes gets lost. I love my law school experience, and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world (except for maybe some good cheesecake and a good permanent tan).

So goodbye semester number five. I'm glad that you are dead. But may you forever live on in spirit.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Down: Fed Courts and the First Amendment

Week one of my 5th set of law school finals has concluded and I'm alive.

My first final was for a class that left me in a crying bloody heap of madness after three and half months of intellectual torture. Never in my life have I felt so dumb (and that includes the time I hit a button in my car when I was bored during a slowly moving traffic jam on state street because I didn't know what it was, only to find out it was the trunk button, which then flew open and stayed that way for the next hour as I couldn't pull over). This was a smaller class (only about 20 people in it) and it was full of people whose names you have to say with a British accent because any other way doesn't adequately describe who they are. These are people who will all end up solving all of the world's problems by 2015 using nothing more than scotch tape and a five function calculator. It matters in law school to some degree who ends up taking the same classes as you because each class is graded on a curve and whether your class is full of the leaders of tomorrow or the partiers of today, the middle grade is set in stone at the exact same place and exactly half can be above that and half below it. And then that grade is taken and added to your gpa which is then ranked against the other 149 gpa's in the 3L class which then determines whether or not your dreams are actually a possibility. And each semester there is a chance to rise or fall, and it all comes down to what happens during these two weeks of finals, sometimes in classes like the one I've just described. And we all felt that on Tuesday morning. Two hours of typing took place in one of the most highly pressurized settings I've ever seen until time was called and 20 shaky people who had just spent every waking second (which happens to be about 18-20 hours a day lately) frantically struggling to grasp incredibly complicated concepts at least slightly better than the others in class, who, both fortunately and unfortunately, are each other's best friends, walked out of the room trying to feel accomplished but probably feeling something more like defeated despite having really done something quite impressive and having really learned a lot.

Then we walked outside, made sure the sun had come up, punched walls, did push ups and whatever else we needed to (for one friend of mine this involved walking to nearby gas station and buying a bag of beef jerky. To each his or her own) to get out the anxious adrenaline that seems to be controlling most of us lately, only to climb back into our holes to prepare for the next one. My next one happened to come less than 48 hours later. Thankfully I had Corey to help me study for that one and the two of us shut ourselves into a small study room (that started looking more like a dorm room after a while) and frantically typed dozens of pages of notes and absorbed every detail we could from about 7:00 AM to past midnight for two days to prepare for our early morning Thursday exam. This one was three hours of typing.

I woke up before the exam pretty early and took a "comfort" shower. Let's just take a quick detour here for some nice blog fodder: I recently found out that showering experiences are very different for the genders. There are two types of showers I take: 1. Comfort shower, and 2. Utility shower. There are no other options. The first is to clean my spirit, so to speak, and requires no effort on my part. The second, however, is a lot of hard work and serves only the purpose of getting me physically clean. My female friends recently informed me that women are not able to take noncommittal comfort showers the same way men can. That is, I can take my comfort shower, climb out, do a 12 second dry off with a towel, throw on a set of clothes, and bounce out the door looking good as new. Apparently for women the shower recovery time is a force to be reckoned with because (so I'm told) woman hair takes somewhere between 7 and 36 weeks to dry (calculated by assuming an automatic 7 and then increasing it by one week for each additional inch beyond one, and then capped at 36). This combined with an array of other problems, mostly involving makeup, is the actual unspoken source of contention between the genders in any conversation in which any of the following phrases are heard: "of course you don't understand! You're a man!"; "you have no idea what it's like!"; "psh! You would say that you heartless [fill-in-the-blank]"; and my personal favorite, "YOU have a baby and then come and tell me I'm being emotional!"

So after my comfort shower I put on my shirt and tie (I dress for success for every final. I have one friend who thinks something is wrong with me because of this as she chooses to dress down as much as possible for test day. Coincidentally this is the beef jerky friend described above). The final happened and I spent the rest of my day getting bombarded with emails and phone calls from frantic 1L's who had less than 24 hours until their contracts final for a class which I am the TA for (for my second and (sadly) final year). I heard the panic and desperation in their voices and emails and I did what I could to provide the last minute support, partly because I remember exactly how that fear of the unknown feels (largely because I still feel it to some degree, although a different one, today). I remember how a totally mysterious process and highly pressurized 1L semester can feel, which seems at the time to be the process and semester that really does determine whether your dreams are possible, for the very first time. I remember coming to school day after day and wondering whether I was really smart enough to be with all of those people who seemed to have it all figured out.

It's strange that the experience never really gets familiar. Each semester my friends and I decide about a month before finals how we're going to tackle the beast this go around. It never really goes exactly according to plan. Too many last minute parties. Too many last minute problems. Too much temptation on Thanksgiving to act like a normal person and just want to hang out with family rather than lock ourselves away in a room at grandma's house for three days while the rest do what they're supposed to do on holidays: spend time together and make memories. And so there is a little give and take and nothing given or taken on either end really seems that satisfying because all of it is either too much or too little, but in any event it's not really ever good enough.

But amid all of the discouragement and, often, exhaustion, there is always that group of friends who don't think something is wrong with me for sometimes being at the library on a Friday night at 11:15 because the only way they know I'm there is because they are too. There is always that group of friends who is willing to explain something to me over and over again to help me understand, even though they have their own work to do. Always that group of friends who are a source of comfort when I catch them out of the corner of my eye during one of these 3 hour typing contests. Friends that remind me every time we're together why they appreciate me and, in being who they are, in turn remind me why I appreciate them. They drop whatever important thing they have going on to drive me  to the hospital when I break my hand, even if it's 5:00 in the morning. They humor me by putting on a homemade 9-headed monster costume and marching around the school growling, just because I ask them to. They throw me birthday parties and get genuinely excited when something good happens in my life. And no matter how stressed and tired I sometimes get, all I have to do is think about these people to remember one of the biggest reasons why this is all so worth it.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Friday, November 19, 2010


The Bears won, 16-0.

See previous post for context.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eli Cares About the NFL?

Let it be written--this is the first time in my life I have ever cared about an NFL game (and that includes the Superbowl).

I haven't blog-announced this yet so I should give you an update before I explain my sudden interest in the NFL: I was recently offered a clerkship with a judge on the Utah State Court of Appeals. This is VERY exciting news for me and something I had been keeping my fingers crossed for for a while. I will tell you the following not to brag or pat myself on the back but just so you can get a sense of how excited I am about this: clerkships with judges are often very competitive to get, particularly clerkships at the appeals level. This year they are even more competitive than usual (I had some judges email me to say they received around 2,000 resumes for 1 or 2 positions). I have been wanting to do a post-graduation clerkship for a while as they are great experience, look wonderful on resumes, open a lot of doors, and seem very interesting. A court clerk works directly with a judge in his or her chambers and helps research, write, and generally get a good view of how a court works and how a judge makes decisions. I applied with many different judges and the judge that ended up offering me this clerkship was actually the one appeals judge that I wanted to clerk for the most from the very beginning of this process so it really is an absolute miracle that it worked out (due credit should be given to the professors at BYU and the attorneys I work with at the AG's office who gave me some great advice, encouragement and wrote wonderful letters of recommendation).

Now, this judge has two clerks working for him at any given time. He has a new clerk start every January and September and clerkships go for one year. So this judge hired myself and one girl (the professor I work for gets mad at me whenever I refer to any adult as "boy" or "girl" and tells me I need to take her "becoming aware" class, which is taught once a year and apparently covers the words "man" and "woman") who is attending a law school in California. He left it up to us to decide which one of us will start next September and which one of us will start the following January (2012). We connected via email and initially neither of us had strong feelings one way or another so we've sort of stewed over it for a few weeks. After getting advice from various trustworthy sources (included Bob and Cathie, who have never led me astray yet, except for one time when I was 7 and Cathie told me that it's important to write in your journal because that way if you ever get accused of murdering someone, you can open your journal to that page and show someone that you have an alibi, thus leading me to a lifetime of consistent journal writing which from ages 7 to 12 contained many very calculated and detailed accounts of where I was at certain times of the day in case the motherly advice I was given ever came to fruition. She also used to tell me that she had an eye on the back of her neck but I still don't know whether that one is true. There was also the whole Santa Clause thing. But in my adult life, they've been 100% reliable), I decided that September would be a better option for me. The other clerk also decided that September would be better for her.

So to resolve it, I proposed that the outcome of our decision be based on tonight's game between the Miami Dolphins and the Chicago Bears (after having my sports savvy friend help me figure out what upcoming game might be close--this is something I never could have figured out on my own). She responded and chose Miami. So there you have it: if Chicago wins tonight, I will start my clerkship next September. My life's fate comes down to a football game.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Happening Again

Bad things are happening with my mind.

We all know that this is normal--law school tends to do this to me as the semesters progress (flashback to infamous incidents such as putting soap and laundry in the washer and never starting it as a 1L, undressing in a study room thinking I was at home as a 1L, losing my shoes at school on multiple occasions without ever remembering taking them off, etc.).

Two weeks ago I got a call that my car was fixed since the big traumatic accident. I had been driving a rental car for about 10 days (and I still don't know what kind of car it was, much to the disappointed shock of one friend of mine who could identify model, make, year, and interior accessories by glancing at any one square inch of any vehicle from 100 yards away). Corey came with me to drop off the rental and then hitch a ride with those people to the auto body shop. Simple project. Unfortunately it didn't all go as well as one might hope.

I told the car rental people where my car was located and some guy gave us a ride to that place. We went in and the following conversation took place with the girl working at the front desk:

Girl: Hi, can I help you?
Eli: Yes, I'm here to pick up my car.
Girl: Ok, last name?
Eli: McCann, two c's, two n's.
Girl: [type, type, type] alright and you have the Honda Civic?
Eli: Yup!
[silence for a moment while she pulls up my records]
Corey: Um . . . no you don't.
Eli: No I don't what?
Corey: You don't drive a Honda Civic. You drive a Nissan.
Eli: Um . . . oh yeah. I don't drive a Honda.
Girl: Um . . . I don't have a Nissan here.

One phone call later I discovered that my car was at a completely different place on the other end of town; a place with a name that was in NO WAY similar to the name of this auto body shop that I had originally instructed the rental guy to take us to. I thought for a moment about a way to explain to the rental guy that my vehicle had been moved, but he looked more intelligent than an animal so I gave up on that plan.

Eventually we made it and I retrieved my vehicle, only to discover the next day that there were a couple of things wrong with it that weren't wrong before. So I drove back to the auto body shop (the correct one this time) and explained my two very disconcerting problems to the owner.

The result:

1. The light failing to turn on automatically is not actually a tragic "electrical problem" (as I had termed when I walked in) but simply a failure to flip the switch from "off" to "on" on the light itself.

2. The automatic locks making a slightly louder sound than usual is not indication that my car is about to blow up, but indication that new power locks were placed in the door and simply have a little more power than the old ones.

I nodded and gave them a knowing "just as I suspected" look as I quickly backed out of the door, only to avoid driving anywhere near that end of town for the rest of my life (or until I undergo enough plastic surgery to be unrecognizable by anyone).

Then this week happened, where, other than making from scratch mac and cheese for 400 people for 5 hours on Wednesday night where I was the only one of the 6 of us who seemed to think we needed to be in a hurry and got really bossy after a while, barking out orders while my arm was stuck in a tall bucket, stirring 70 pounds of noodles and hot cheese sauce (another story for another day), I had the most miserable experience of my life trying to get my fingerprinting done and mailed off for the Utah bar application on Friday.

Before actually taking the fingerprints, a nice police officer with a moustache typed in my personal information into a computer. Unfortunately, this happened:

Cop: Address?
Eli: Um . . . [gives an address that is a mix of the last 3 places I've lived]
Cop: Social Security number?
Eli: [first gives his BYU ID number and then has to stand silently for 15 seconds while the pressure mounts to remember the social]
Cop: What year were you born?
Eli: 2004 (said confidently and without hesitation).
Cop: Um . . . ?
Eli: Oh! Sorry! I mean 1998.
Cop: Um . . . 1998?
Eli: Yeah. I don't know why I said 2004.
Cop: So, you're 12 years old?
Eli: ?
Cop: 1998? That would make you 12.
Eli: Oh, I mean 1984.
Cop: Are you sure about that.
Eli: Well I'm 25 now.
Cop: Ok.
Eli: No! I'm 26! But 1984 is correct.

I then spent the rest of the day wondering why 2004 and 1998 were so significant in my mind that I would declare each as my year of birth. And I'll tell you right now, NOTHING significant happened in either of those years for me. In fact, they are probably the two least significant years of my life in terms of mile-stones or other life-changing events.

Do they make medication for this kind of stuff?

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Accidents, Politics, and Multi-Headed Monsters

There is much to say.

1. The car accident: Last week I climbed into my vehicle with 30% of everything I own (a normal day for me--I always find some reason to pack enough stuff to sustain me on a 6 month backpacking trip every morning when I go to school--this particular morning I had with me: a suit, a gym bag, a change of clothes, my school bag, a sleek extra bag to go with the suit, 3 pairs of shoes, an extra jacket, and my lunch). After pulling out of my neighborhood and preparing to turn onto the main road I take to get to school in the mornings, I was hit from behind. My initial reaction probably should have been a mix between startlement and gratitude (startled because a couple thousand pounds of vehicle just slammed into me and thus grateful that I was still alive) but instead I was annoyed and inconvenienced (mostly because I was already late for a class AND because all of my stuff had fallen all over the car). I climbed out and realized that the crash was much worse than I thought (the back of my vehicle looked like a recent participant in a monster truck show). I suddenly thought through everything Bob and Cathie have ever told me about what to do in case of an accident and then I followed each step as though I was reading a script. A very strange couple of guys sat in their vehicle behind us while we waited for the police to arrive, trying to convince me that they believed the other driver did not hit me intentionally. I'm not sure what of my demeanor made them think I needed to be convinced but in any event, their extreme interest was a little unnerving. Eventually I started piling all of my things onto the sidewalk, sure that my vehicle was not going to be going to school with me that day. As the mound of necessaries grew, odd looks were exchanged by nosey passer-bys. Once the police had arrived and after I had called Bob and Cathie to confirm all of my actions, Corey showed up to take me to school as my car was towed away, pieces of it dramatically falling off and onto the road. The cops gave the other driver three citations, which I thought was a little much (and really awkward for me since I was standing there with them while the cop scolded him for driving negligently). Since the accident I have had a rental car and have tried not to let myself falsely think that I'm on vacation (because it sort of feels that way when you have a rental car).

2. The competition: 2 hours after the car accident, I competed in the final round of the Linda Anderson Trial Advocacy Competition at BYU. Jeff was my partner for the third year in a row and for the third year in a row we made it into finals which was extremely exciting. We competed against 2 of our very good friends and we came out victorious. And I didn't even tell them that I was almost mangled in a horrible accident mere moments before in an attempt to garner judge sympathy. Not a bad day. All except for the accident I guess.

3. The vote: I'm on the board for moot court at the law school and this week we voted on a very divided and sensitive issue. There was lots and lots of campaigning, politicking, and email sending with attachments, some of which I now refer to as "epistles breathing hellfire and damnation upon us all if we didn't vote a certain way." The vote took place on Thursday and my side lost by one vote. It was very disappointing but a good learning experience for us anyway.

4. Law school Halloween: The party takes place every year. And every year it's weird. As part of the party, we have a law school parade where children and adults walk across the stage in costume. This year I hand made a two-headed monster costume which was a huge hit, and an eight-headed monster costume which ended up being a big ol' mess, but very funny for those of us who were part of it. Inside the 8 headed monster costume you could find: a mime, someone with roller-skates, high heels, a devil outfit, green face paint leftover from the 2 headed monster, and lots and lots of screaming (mostly due to suffocation).

5. Halloween 5k: Annette, Elsa, and I ran it yesterday morning. We were dressed up in horrific '80s clothes (I was mostly nude for the whole morning--I just wore what they gave me, and they didn't give me much). I took 3rd overall which was pretty surprising and exciting, although I probably can't brag too much because I was racing against people who were dressed up as cows, clowns, and all the characters from whatever movie is supposed to be popular this year.

3L has been good to me so far.

Climbing into the 8 headed monster costume

8 headed monster getting ready to go on stage

8 headed monster from behind--note Elsa's devil horns

8 headed monster FAILING to look menacing as I directed

More 8 headed monster

Trying to figure out the 2 headed monster costume

Joe and I looking menacing as a 2 headed monster

Micalyne and Emrie came for the trick-or-treating at the carrels (I wonder how much of that candy her 7 month old baby ate . . .)

Annette and I at our carrels on Halloween day. This was far and away the cleanest our carrel area was all day.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Class Dynamics

3L began several weeks ago. It's interesting for me to watch the three classes of law students fit into their perennial roles more and more as the days go on. It's generally the same thing every year; the classes are full of students who make up a group that supports generally the same mentality year after year, adjusting to fit the traditional norm that accompanies their class number. Having now been a member of each of the classes and having seen 3 classes mold into each of the "L's", I have summarized below exactly what takes place with every new academic year:

1L: A large group of students frantically run around the law school like deer in the headlights, stressed to the point of losing all ability to appreciate humor. The true mystery in retrospect is why on earth they are so stressed anyway as 1L law students, in comparison to the remainder of the student body, don't really do anything. Sure they read (but so do people in retirement. Also my 7-year-old niece reads and almost never finds herself on the verge of an aneurysm). Sure they attend a few classes (absolutely convinced that all the students in the class will remember every word they ever say and will eternally ridicule them in their minds if ever so much as a stutter escapes their lips). But other than that, 1Ls don't do anything. But year after year they take the prize for being the most distressed, traumatized, and down-right abused-looking class in any law school. I was no exception to this as a 1L. Also, 1L's generally fall into one of two categories: inappropriately deferential to the point of sickening suck-upism to any 2L, 3L or professor, or tragically annoying assumption that they've got it all figured out to the point of complete disrespect to anyone who actually knows more than them and is in a place where they might be able to help out. Unfortunately some of those in the second category will end up with decent grades and so will never learn their lesson (and as a result will never actually be liked by anyone, whether they know it or not).

2L: True idealism takes form as this recently stressed out 1L class adopts a plethora of responsibilities in various school clubs, community groups, and with slave-driving professors, totally convinced that they will save the world, starting with the International-Law Student Association (or any club of their choice). Having experienced 1L in addition to being in a group which is truly the most opinionated conglomeration of individuals on the planet (law students), 2Ls know EVERYTHING and are not afraid to make sure every 1L knows it on a daily basis. Cue frequent unsolicited advice. Perhaps this occurs because 2Ls are so relieved that they are no longer the bottom of the bottom of the bottom (the three tiers being: young associate, law student, 1L). Or maybe they came to law school for this very purpose. In any event, it is difficult to spend more than 10 minutes with any 2L without reconsidering your entire career path.

3L: At one point someone decided that "3L" should equate with total apathy. The few of us that didn't get the memo (and never fully fulfilled our arrogant and naive 2L idealism) simply took on more than we could handle in a vain attempt to keep the 2L class from fully controlling everything in the law school. Add to that the crushing reality of a nearing end (and for those of us who are about to be regurgitated into the 2011 dwindling and unforgiving legal market, it truly does look like an "end"). The result for all of us, whether we've chosen the apathy or the insanity route: loads of orneriness and I'vehadit-itis (a disease most people don't get until they are in their 70's and they're sick of the neighborhood kids walking across their green lawns). And if you are so lucky to be a single 3L at BYU, comments from all the grown-ups in your life that have suddenly been upgraded to full-throttle at the prospect of a quickly approaching graduation indicate with some intensity that panic and desperation should most definitely be added to range of fear and stress based emotions that already consume your life.

No wonder I feel like I'm 47.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Mud Run

Exactly five weeks ago Annette called me and asked whether I wanted to participate in a team 10k race. I agreed, even after she told me that it was called the dirty dash and that "parts of the course are a bit muddy." Thinking I would just wear older running shoes and prepare to get a little dirty, I put the date on my calendar and didn't think about it again. Then yesterday happened.

As it turns out, "parts of the course are a bit muddy" was somewhat of an understatement. And "prepar[ing] to get a little dirty" was grossly inadequate. This was an obstacle course made up mostly of deep mud pits, swamps, walls to climb, and a 5,000 person mud wrestling fight spread out over 6.2 miles buried deep in the mountains, miles from where anyone could hear your scream. Teams of five were required to finish the race together and "help" one another through the various life-threatening obstacles. Our team was: Annette, me, Adam, Cory (commonly referred to as "boy-Cory" so as not to be confused with "girl-Corey" who would NEVER be caught doing something like this), and Justin.

Teams: The 1,000 or so teams each had a unique and creative name with costumes to match. We saw everything from pink tutus to clown suits to one very unfortunate costume idea where a group of horrifically out of shape hairy men wore nothing other than angel wings and underwear (gag reflex). Our team, however, was classy. We wore simple yellow shirts that said "dirty lawyers" on the back.

The race:

Mile 1: We ran up a giant hill that was, at that moment, getting sprayed down by a "sprinkler" which could much more adequately be described as a "fire hose." Being less than 60 degrees outside, this was less than pleasant. The screaming began exactly at that moment and did not stop for at least 2 hours. The remainder of mile one consisted of climbing a giant mountain. Those with the heavier costumes (such as the prisoner themed team who had full prisoner jumpsuits, heavy boots and were chained together by 50 feet of links) started to regret their poor choices. Those of us with lighter costumers started looking for a sneaky way to just get back to the cars.

Mile 2: 10 sets of high hay-bails littered the course. Adam hurdled them like an Olympian, forgetting that he, like the rest of us, is too old to do that anymore without repercussions the next day. His knees are most definitely feeling it.

Mile 3: Cue the mud walls. This place will forever stand as the site where I lost all self-respect. Five foot walls made out of sliver-prone boards jetted out of thick mud, which in some spots was deep enough to stand in up to the thigh. Someone stood on the side of the walls with a fire hose, spraying anything that moved. Mud was thrown. Things were said. By the time we got over the last wall, our group of five was rolling around in a giant clump of dirty, violently shoving mud in one another's ears, faces, hair, and (as I was accused of doing to Cory on multiple occasions) mouths, all except for Adam who was mostly skirting our dysfunctional team, intent on staying as clean as possible. Women and children stood on the side and watched us with their mouths gaping open, not really sure if they should call someone after Cory, Justin and I finally got up and left a sobbing and barely moving Annette laying on her back completely buried in mud all except for her nose. For those who were wondering, chivalry is definitely dead.

Mile 3: Cue the swamp. We now each weighed a solid 50 pounds heavier. Having poorly chosen to wear three-layer long basketball shorts, which were now filled with heavy wet mud, I found myself having to hold them with both hands to keep them from falling down. This wasn't practical and the next chance I got I stopped, took them off along with my shirt which was now 15 feet long, and threw my clothes to the side of the trail. Thank heavens I had Under Armor on. Also, thank heavens I was still slightly more modestly dressed than some of the teams and so didn't draw as much attention as running through the mountains with 5,000 people around in my underwear might draw on any other given day. Just after the clothes were ditched, we came across a deep pit filled with muddy water which was difficult to climb out of even without Adam violently pushing us back in each time we were almost to the top. I may have landed on a small child at some point. It was hard to say. By this time everything basically looked the same. Then things got bad. We came upon a giant swamp that smelled like a mix between an airport bathroom, mildew, Guatemala, and every farm you've ever visited. Exercising poor judgment, we each engaged in more mud wrestling here (once again, except for Adam). Promptly after the swamp, all silently promised to set an appointment for a 4 hour intrusive physical immediately after the race.

Mile 4: Tires and fences. The sun multiplied the already bad smell by exactly 1,000.

Mile 5: Water balloons were thrown at us by shocked and terrified spectators who, I'm sure, were witnessing something different than they had expected.

Mile 6: We climbed a giant hill to get to the world's largest slip-n-slide that cascaded the very steep hill we climbed. It had 5 places across to slide down, separated by air-filled cushioning. It was basically one of those giant blow-up castles but in slip-n-slide form. And being sprayed down by yet another fire hose. The five of us sprinted and jumped onto it on our stomachs at the same time, expecting a peaceful yet exhilarating glide down the mountain. Wrong. By the time we got to it, the slip and slide was covered in gravel which we skidded across on our stomachs going well over 50 miles per hour for about 200 meters. Blood-curdling screams could be heard from Logan to St. George until the slip-n-slide spit us out at the bottom into yet another mud-pit. For reasons I'll NEVER understand, Annette and I then thought it would be a fantastic idea to continue sliding down the hill on our stomachs, believing the mud looked soft and inviting. WRONG. Thu mud was cold and full of rocks. Cue more screams. We then gained composure and ran the rest of the way down the hill, all holding hands, five people across until we reached the final mud pit which was basically just a pool of muddy water. Adam dove into it head first and was completely unrecognizable when he reemerged. The rest of us carefully crawled through it, wondering how much of it was mud and how much of it was blood.

The Showers: We wandered around like zombies until we found the showers which consisted of about 10 rows of 10 or so spigots wedged closely together so that about 200 people, at 2 people per spigot, stood almost touching each other, desperately trying to get clean before the water gave them hypothermia. We stood in the crowds of near-naked people that slowly and silently inched forward into the showers. I suddenly got the feeling I was in a horror movie that took place in Woodstock. When we finally stepped under the spigots, I no longer knew what happiness felt like. Loud screams echoed through the mountains as the five of us stood in our skimpies and scrubbed while the hundreds around us did the same. Sometime during what was most definitely the WORST shower of my life (and that's saying something--I've been to a lot of pretty questionable places), I stepped squarely onto a tack of some kind. Welcome tetanus to the list of other things wrong with me.

After the showers, I saw the grossest thing that happened that day. A man walked into a porta-potty barefoot. Ew.

Adam, Cory, Annette, and Me (Before)

Adam, Cory, Annette, Justin, and Me (After)
We finally escaped the mountain and spent the rest of the day scrubbing and soaking. And planning our team name and costumes for next time.

Should I be worried about the tack?

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kyiv Temple Trip Pictures

Temple at night
Bre, Me, and Mark in front of the L'viv branch house. This was built after the three of us served in L'viv five or six years ago. Notice that I am holding my First Amendment Law book, as I frantically tried to stay caught up in school all week although I was living on trains and totally exhausted.

My good friend Roman and I reconnecting
Public Trambai--this is how I spent 2 years of my life
Natasha--this girl and her mother joined the church while I was in Rivne six years ago. She was 12 at the time.
Patron housing next to the temple
Temple at night
Church on the temple grounds
Temple at night
"Big Mama"--this was my travel group's favorite thing to see last year in Kyiv. She's larger than the Statue of Liberty. And scarier . . .
"Kyiv Ukrainian Temple"
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"
My friend Brea and I in front of the temple
Orthodox church in Kyiv
Brea and I on "High Castle" hill in L'viv
Old church in L'viv. The statue on top is Christ sitting at the base of the cross with his hand under his chin, thinking.
Very famous opera house in center square in L'viv
L'viv street
Natasha on the left and Yanna on the right. Yanna is the little girl I mentioned in my last post. Yanna and Natasha were baptized on the same day.
Yanna "Talmage" and I
Kyiv temple

~It Just Gets Stranger

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ukraine Temple Dedication

I sit now in the basement of the Sheremetovo airport in Moscow Russia, stranded in hour 14 of what looks to be a 17 hour unexpected layover. I say "unexpected" because I had carefully planned my escape from Eastern Europe to give me exactly one hour in Moscow. When I arrived this morning from Kyiv, however, I was quickly ushered through several confusing lines and stripped of my passport by a woman in a power suit (one who, I think, meant business, if you know what I mean). For the next thirty minutes, a young Ukrainian couple and I wandered the airport searching for our passports, frantically hoping against all hope that we would find them before our flight took off in less than 40 minutes. When we did find them, we were screamed at in Russian and sent away to check back in a few hours. Once a few hours had passed we were finally told that for very vague reasons our flight had been cancelled but not to worry as Delta was pleased to try to get us onto the next flight 17 hours or so later. This would be fine news for me, a Moscow lover, if I actually had a current Russian visa; but as is, I am not allowed to leave the walls of the cigarrette smoke-filled airport. I feel EXACTLY like the reverse version of that Tom Hanks movie "The Terminal."

Fortunately the airport has about 20 stores to browse. Unfortunately exactly 18 of them are exclusively liquor stores (which, if this sort of thing happens frequently, seems totally reasonable). After doing some yelling of my own (but in much less fluent Russian), I was sent down to the first class lounge. Not all it's cracked up to be, but a huge improvement from standing in the borsch-breathe angry crowds upstairs. 

The trip to Ukraine was one of the greatest experiences of my life. For the last seven days I've slept on trains, wandered cities, reconnected with long lost friends, caught drunk men falling down long metro escalators, chatted with cute old bobushkas on the streets, eaten 30 kilos of vafly and fresh bread, up-chucked 40 kilos of vafly and fresh bread, hit up street bands, and flown by the seat of my pants. And I've loved every minute of it.

I went to Ukraine for the Mormon temple dedication which is a huge deal for members of the LDS church in this part of the world. This is the first Mormon temple in eastern Europe and members all over Ukraine, Russia, and a number of other countries have been praying and hoping for this day for about two decades. A lot of work went into the preparations and construction and the temple and grounds are absolutely beautiful.

On Saturday night a giant cultural celebration took place in Kyiv where members of the church from all over Eastern Europe put on amazing dance and other music performances to tell the history of Christianity and Mormanism in this part of the world. They talked about sacrifices and amazing acts of kindness and courage of people throughout Ukraine. The event was incredibly moving for the thousands in attendance. It was even more special for many of us who were able to reconnect with people we hadn't seen for many years. One of these people for me was a little girl who I last saw when she was 9 years old and I said goodbye to her in a dirty hallway while her mom lay passed out from narcotic consumption inside their rat-infested apartment. I've wondered for five years whether she was still alive and safe. She is alive and well and seeing her again was one of the most emotional moments of my life. After the celebration and before, people stood around as long as they could, hugging and crying.

On Sunday I went out to the temple site for the dedication itself. I sat next to a family I knew five years ago from a tiny Ukrainian villiage several hours away from Kyiv. It was surreal to be there with them and to think about so many of the good and hard times we had together. They sobbed as the dedication took place. One woman from Kyiv told me through tears that never in her life did she think she would ever see this day.

After the dedication I jumped on an all-night train to L'viv with a couple of American friends I knew from Ukraine. We stayed in L'viv for two days and visited old friends and enjoyed one of Europe's most unbelievably beautiful cities.

Yesterday I rolled back into Kyiv just in time for Acia's wedding. (You'll remember, I worked with Acia last summer in Moscow where she became one of my closest friends). After the civil ceremony, the small wedding party drove out to the temple site for the sealing ceremony. We rode in a rented van together out to the site and as soon as the temple came into view off in the distance, the passengers started clapping and tearing up a bit, not quite used to seeing the building there in Ukraine. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and it was an unbelievable experience for me to be a part of it. We finished the evening with a traditional Ukrainian dinner together.

I will never forget this week. Whether you appreciate Mormon temples or not, it is hard to see a group of sweet people receive something that they have wanted so badly for so long and not feel joy for them. I have been thinking a lot about freedom lately. I read recently in one of my law school books that "liberty is the secret of happiness and courage is the secret of liberty." I couldn't help but think all week of these wonderful people, truly some of the best people I've ever known, and appreciate the incredible acts of courage I've seen so many of them undertake despite mounds of adversity. And I've thought, their courage has given them something that is making them so happy because it is giving them the liberty to worship and partake of beliefs they sincerely hold to. And I've wondered what I can learn from them as I continue to figure out my life and future paths in my consant quest to define liberty, courage, and true happiness.

But for now, I'll just focus on getting out of Moscow.

Love you all.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Belize and Guatemala

Made it back from Belize and Guatemala on Saturday night. It was an amazing experience. Krishelle, Will, Megan and I started in Belize City (AKA--the sketchiest of all sketch places of all time) and ended in Guatemala City. As usual, we made absolutely no plans before going. And we ended up seeing every square inch of both countries. As a result, I never again want to see a bus, boat, plane, or anything else that moves.

Krishelle is posting the long detailed emails we sent home during our trip and I won't bother repeating that here. Rather, I'll give the list of the stranger things we encountered:

1. MIS-guided by the Lonely Planet Guide, we ventured out to something that we thought was an island called Tilapita. What resulted was a horrifically miserable day of traveling, the most terrifying night of any of our lives in a four dollar "hotel" that had a dirty toilet right in the center of the rodent infested concrete room, a day of getting chased by pink-eye infected dogs and pigs on the world's hottest/dirtiest beach (of which we were the only visitors), another night in a four dollar room where we suffered from the worst sunburns any of us has ever experienced, a long painful escape by boat through croc-infested waters (I'm really not kidding), and an infinite amount of hours on several buses until we finally made it back to civilization (during which the urination incident occurred). My entire body is still peeling and I look like leprosy.

2. We stayed at a place that I think I've seen on every horror movie made before 1970, run by an old couple who starred in each of those films. Likely the targets of the next murders, we rolled out of there just in time.

In the middle of the constant strange moments we explored jungles and ruins, snorkled with sharks, backpacked through cities, tubed down rivers in deep dark caves, zip-lined in the trees, dodged the crazies, befriended the funnies, and searched pharmacies desperately for Aloe Vera. Now we'll spend the rest of our lives in recovery. I need a vacation.

Now life has hit me. And hard. School starts on Monday and I'm wondering why I ever committed to do twice as much as anyone should be able to do. But it will all work out. It somehow always does.

~It Just Gets Stranger

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Deseret News Marathon

It is finished.

The marathon started at 5:30 in the morning, so naturally the race coordinators demanded that we be loaded into the shuttle busses to head to the starting line by 3:15 AM. This was no big deal, of course, because who doesn’t want to get to the starting line up in the dark mountains 14 and a half days before the race starts? So all 900 or so of us got out of the shuttle just before 3:30 to wait in the dark for two hours at roughly 40 degrees for the race to begin. What did we do to pass the time, you ask? The following:

Tent: One two-sided tent was erected, large enough to hold about 100 people standing, bodies pressed up against one another. Being the middle of the night, the runners were quite tired and those who ventured into the tent just stood in the eerily quiet and shockingly thin crowd, swaying back and forth with their heads down and eyes closed. To those of us outside the tent, this looked much like a scene out of “I am Legend.”

Music: Inspirational ‘80s music with the occasional Dixie Chicks interlude was blasted directly into the unfortunate ears of those not in the tent (I’m mostly just grateful they weren’t playing on repeat that horrid “I could really use a wish right now” song that every radio station across America seems to be in a contest to play the most times per day). This, of course, made me ask myself the same question I’ve been stewing over for several decades now: what is the deal with distance runners and ‘80s music? Football players tragically have their country music. Basketball players have their rap. Wrestlers have ring worm. And distance runners have inspirational ‘80s music. Even before the ‘80s, distance runners were listening to ‘80s music.

Porta-potties: Ugh. Two long rows of potties, back to back, jetted out from the tent opening. Initially individual lines for each potty formed, sending me into all out panic mode as I was absolutely not ok with an entire line focusing solely on how much time I was going to spend in there. I contemplated just holding it for the next six hours or so until I got back into the safety of my own home. But others must have felt the same way because just then the lines sort of merged together so that each now targeted four or five potties instead of one. Much less intimidating. The potties on the row facing the tent were quite popular, and the lines extremely social. The potties on the back row, on the other hand, seemed to be for the more tired and nervous poopers. I climbed into a line (on the back row, obviously) and waited my turn only to find to my utter horror that inside the potty it was as dark as when you go on a tour of the Timpanogos caves and they turn out the lights to show you how you can’t see your hand. I stood for moment, firmly resolving that there was no amount of emergency that would ever get me in one million years to touch anything in there. 

Never. Ever. Ever. Never.

Vaseline: I bought a whole new tub and began glopping handfuls of it onto every exterior part of my body until I weighed a solid 32 pounds more than when I got up in the morning. I did this while in mid-conversation with a new friend I made in the Porta-potty line named Lauren (because, when better to make new friends than in Porta-potty line?). I realized I was being rude and immediately offered her some (as one hand completely full of the stuff slipped down my shorts). She looked bewildered and declined the offer. Moments later she disappeared and I never did see her again.

Socializing: Normally the true socializing doesn’t begin until the marathon starts and runners spread out a bit. This is actually a very calculated process, not un-similar to dating or high school lunch tables. Everyone knows you don’t want to make friends with “weird guy” early on in the race. THAT would be social suicide, as you will also be dubbed weird guy from that point forward—something impossible to overcome. You also don’t want to hook up with an emotional leach (these are sometimes hard to spot early on), over-enthusiastic guy (who, not shockingly, is usually also “weird guy”), or ultra-competitive guy (for obvious reasons). Once you’ve picked your friend/friends comes the awkward task of trying to figure out how and when to split up (as you will definitely not finish the marathon together—again, just like dating—in my experience anyway). I normally stress about this for the first 18 miles until we just naturally drift apart without saying anything, grateful that the awkward “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation has been entirely avoided. Because we had two hours to kill, this socialization process got a world record early start, which was completely fascinating to watch (I had already blown it with Vaseline girl and so spent the rest of my time trying not to look too clingy or enthusiastic as I was quite sure some were already dubbing me “weird guy”).

The Start Line: The race finally began right after the announcer explained that one man there was on his 300th marathon (this got oooo’s and ah’s), and that a woman was completing her 129th (which normally would have gotten oooo’s and ah’s but thanks to a very poorly planned out order of announcements, only got one guy in the back to yell out “weak!”).

Mile 1: I met up with Sarah who seemed like a good safe bet to have as a friend. She also seemed willing to run at whatever pace I chose. I recognized that it was very possible that she could beat me but I decided long ago not to let women running faster than me in marathons hurt my ego (this has not translated into any other race distance yet, and hopefully will not for several decades to come) as I learned that, for reasons I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand, women who limp and have a hard time carrying in groceries from their vehicles are often able to step into marathons at a moment’s notice and run at an all-out sprint for 26 straight miles without breaking a sweat. I think this has something to do with estrogen, Oprah, and whatever makes mothers lift up cars to save their children in emergencies (a claim of which I’m still a bit skeptical).

Mile 2: I explained to Sarah the Vaseline experience with Lauren (hoping she hadn’t already heard through the grapevine) and asked her whether she thought what I did was odd. She quickly responded, “oh, some people are really just different.” She never did explain who she was referring to.

Mile 3-6: What I assumed to be rather pleasant conversation took place. Guy in long shorts with a sweater flew by us like the apocalypse was coming. I predicted that we would see him again at some point, and that it wouldn’t be pretty.

Mile 7: Sarah abruptly said, “you should run up there and try to catch those guys.” I wondered if my last comment about how I’d be happy to share the Swedish fish zipped up in my back pocket around mile 19 once they’re nice and warm, was a bit much for our relatively new and still blossoming friendship.

Miles 8-13: Sarah and I split without saying another word. I spent the remainder of these miles wondering if her telling me to speed up was just another way of saying that I was too annoying. No resolution on that still. By the end of mile 13 I was told that I had averaged 6:31 mile pace so far, almost 30 seconds faster per mile than I intended to go. Oops. I didn’t slow down however, as I wasn’t quite ready to face Sarah again.

Mile 14: Woman standing in front of her cabin in a nighty while smoking coughed on me as I went by.

Mile 15: I passed apocalypse guy who was sitting down on the side of the road looking totally bewildered and traumatized.

Mile 16-21: I started eating my baggie of Swedish Fish, which were warm and soft, as predicted.

Mile 22: No mile marker in sight. Sarah caught back up to me and we both started having a panicked conversation about whether mile maker 22 was still coming or whether they just forgot to put that one out. Sarah swore she hadn’t seen a mile marker in several miles and wondered if the next one would be 24ish. I was sure this was overly optimistic and desperately tried to convince myself that the next one would be number 13 so I would be very pleasantly surprised either way even though the last one I had seen was number 21. (I employ this same tactic when looking at the time during boring classes).

Mile 23: The beloved mile marker was found. Sarah left me. My ability to care was almost gone as I was now swaying back and forth across the road, occasionally saying out loud in slurred speech, “I can’t believe how good I feel!” (try mimicking this yourself so you can get the full effect) as though that would make all the pain go away. It did not.

Mile 24: Suddenly “only 2 more miles” didn’t sound that great.

Mile 25: Now on the parade route. And just in time for me to get unreasonably emotional, losing breath as I got choked up upon seeing a float from Salt Lake’s sister city, located somewhere in Japan. I then snapped out of it and wondered what the point was in having a sister city, especially when absolutely none of the residents of either city are in any way aware of the forged familial connection. Then I remembered that my legs were about to fall off and that the guy in front of me seemed to have recently pooped his pants (likely another nervous pooper), so I had more important things to worry about.

Mile 26: I suddenly realized that if I ran really fast, I could finish this miserable thing sooner (plus I would look so good in front of all those people waiting at the finish!). So I broke out of my bounce-walk (this is a step below “churning” which is a step below jogging) and set a world record for the 100 meter sprint, not really sure where the sudden burst of energy came from (probably had something to do with the warm Swedish Fish—bet Sarah wished she hadn’t turned them down earlier on!). I finished with a 3:36. Eh. It could have been worse. (And it was worse four years ago when I ran the same course about 30 minutes slower because David used peer pressure to get me to run it but failed to use the same technique to get me to train for it. Thanks David).

Aftermath: Rolling around on the grass, crying, unable to walk . . . the usual. Sarah found me and explained that she started crying around mile 25 (I assume she saw the Japanese float too. Or the guy who pooped his pants. Or maybe she felt bad about our big fight at Mile 7).

So there you have it. 40 years from now when I consider running a marathon again, I’ll take the lessons I learned today, and completely ignore them, as I’ve now done twice.

Is it really that strange to share Vaseline with new acquaintances? Old friends? Weird guy?

~It Just Gets Stranger

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Tragic History of Sports

This may surprise you all but I'm not very good at sports. That was actually a huge understatement. And this is probably the thing I am most self-conscious about in life (besides my foot disease). The thing is, I should be at least ok at sports. I'm in good shape. I work out every day. I'm young (relatively). I spent most of my childhood with all the neighborhood kids engaged in highly combative street hockey, football, baseball, and one really confusing game we invented involving bicycles which always ended in drama between all 10,000 kids on the block--fights which inevitably resolved themselves over night so play could resume the following day. In fact, I was once a scholarship collegiate athlete (but it was for distance running, which I'm excluding from the category of "sports" for purposes of this blog post and for the sake of avoiding the argument about whether running up and down hills and in circles is considered a sport, of which I stopped taking sides in 1947 when I finished college and moved on with my life). But the truth is, despite much of the exposure to sports as a child, I have a long tragic history of being absolutely terrible at any activity involving a ball. So what I would like to do today is give you all a rundown of my personal organized sports history:

1990-1991: Bob and Cathie enrolled me in a community t-ball league. It was a full calendar year before I realized that rounding the bases led to points. My parents have a picture somewhere of me with one hand behind my back grasping a half-eaten doughnut, the other hand holding onto a participation trophy (the only way I was ever going to get a sports trophy as a six year old). I am thoroughly convinced that of those two things, I was there for the one I was evidently trying to hide behind my back.

1992-1994: Machine Pitch. My only two memories of the experience were, 1. A kid got hit square in the face with the ball and bled all over the field and, rather than feeling any concern, I remember wondering whether he was on my team (because I had no idea--and no, it never occurred to me that my whole team was wearing the same uniform). As a result, I spent the rest of the season running to positions far in the outfield so that could never happen to me. Which leads to memory number 2. I was standing somewhere in the outfield and the ball landed literally within four feet of me. I thought it was a bird so I ignored it (let's face it, I wasn't paying attention). Another kid had to run halfway across the field to pick it up when I utterly ignored the screams from my coach and all 20 other teammates.
1995-1996: Soccer. My friends and I were all on a team together, self-named "The Jolly Green Giants" because of our bright green shirts. We lost every single game. I have more than one memory of sitting down with a friend on the field in the middle of play. Also, sometime during the season Danielle Diamond sprained my finger when I told her she kicked like a girl. I'll tell you what--she sure didn't fight like a girl.
1996-1997: Jr. Jazz Basketball. Obsessed with the NBA, this was a natural activity for me to be involved in and probably the first sporting event that I took seriously. Too bad I played on the same team for 2 years and never once scored a basket. Ever. Or did anything impressive at all, although I tried regularly and desperately. I still feel those same terrified feelings I used to feel every Saturday morning when I would wake up and realize that I was going to have to go play for an hour in front of a crowd of people if I think about it long enough.
1998: Jr. Jazz team 2. Thinking the experience would be more enjoyable, I joined a team with several friends. This was largely the same group that I played soccer with in '95. And unfortunately we weren't much better at basketball. But I did make a 3-point shot in the very last game of the season. Unfortunately it was an accident, magically going in when I tried to pass the ball to someone who was several feet away from the hoop (who I later realized wasn't even on my team). I think we still lost this game by 20+ though.
1998-2002: Cross Country and Track & Field. All I had to do was run. I never had to catch or throw anything. Sure I was terrible at running but it was nothing that several years of 2-a-day gruelling practices and border-line-abusive coaching couldn't fix. But I promised I wouldn't talk about this as an actual sport for purposes of this post. I only bring it up to account for the sudden halt in other athletic endeavors.
2005-2009: I spent a good portion of these years pretending to be busy when friends encouraged me to join intramural teams with them. I did take a tennis class sometime during this period that wasn't too disastrous. Although it was the beginner class. And I'm pretty sure I was the worst person in it, getting beat by the pregnant girl on more than one occasion (in my defense, I wasn't the only one who thought she belonged in the intermediate class. Plus she was only like 7 months pregnant. I would like to see her try and play me at 9 months).
So you can imagine how excited I was when my new ward invited me to come play softball last Tuesday night. After conveniently getting a phone call every time it was my turn up to bat for the first half of the game, I finally got pushed out to the plate. About half-way there I realized that I hadn't held a bat since I was about 11 years old and my neighborhood friends and I decided to start a pretend gang, in which my weapon of choice was baseball equipment (100% of our gang activity consisted of ringing doorbells and then pretending to fight in neighbors' front yards until we all lay dead on the grass. The neighbor would stand and watch and then awkwardly clap while slowly backing into the house. I think we were trying to get some message across that was never really clear to any of us). I swung once and hit the ball directly to the pitcher and made my walk of shame back to the team and then spent the next 4 days in emotional recovery. Is there anyone out there who can help me?

~It Just Gets Stranger 

Monday, June 14, 2010

The "M" Word

I will be running the Deseret News marathon in less than 40 days now. This will be my third attempt to tackle the beast. The first attempt was in 2003 in Park City. The result:

Miles 1-10: High-fiving strangers, thumbs-upping the locals, and the occasional jump-and-heel-click.
Miles 11-13: Fatigue. 225 stops in the outhouses lining the trail. The realization that I never attempted to run more than 10 miles in training.
Miles 14-19: Tears. Some number close to the population of the entire state of Utah passes me, including one old lady using a walker.
Mile 20: Blood in the urine. Yup.
Miles 21-24: Delirium. Hunger. I actually ate one of those power-gel packs that they truly can only get people to eat who are at the brink of starvation.
Miles 24-26: Crawling. Blood Blisters. A six year old girl who started 5 hours late passes me.
Next 3 months: In home hospice care. (I deserved a Lifetime movie).

In 2006 I made my second attempt to tackle the beast in the Deseret News marathon. The result:

Repeat of the 2003 event, but much much slower.

So here we are. Just 40 more days. If you want to see what I look like dead, please attend.

~It Just Gets Stranger