Monday, January 31, 2011


I think I will call this picture.... Lazybones.
 Lucy is mostly an outside dog, and while she's out occupying our compound during the day, I usually have to call for her to make herself seen. She doesn't seem to spend much time in her dog house. She will crawl out from under a trailer or a bus if there's a reason to.

I couldn't help but notice today, while I escorted my students back and forth to their classes, that Lucy remained in her dog house for a long time. I figure it was the strong wind today, driving her into a comfortable place.

So with a very cautious step, I creeped out onto the gravel, trying not to make a sound, to capture the above picture.

I got too confident, though, and when I tried to get closer, she woke up. And Lucy wakes up with a really mean scowl on her face. Someone has crossed her and she is not happy.

Last night when my friends came over for puzzling, I ran down the stairs to the first floor of my house and discovered that my house smelled like dog. Good lord, Lucy, you need a bath. I've tried to remedy this smelly house today with some candles, hoping that it will help.

I tend to hoard things, not like that TV show "Hoarders", but I keep things and have a hard time using them. I can't really hoard a lot of stuff, my lifestyle doesn't allow for it (never staying in one house for more than a year for the past 9 years tends make you clean out stuff all the time). But I scrounged around for those candles I bought last year. I knew they would come in handy sometime. If only tying a burning candle around Lucy's neck weren't so dangerous.

It's cold. I'm ready for summer.


Run: 3.4mi/34:00

Yeah - that long run this weekend? Didn't happen. I won't go into details for my attempt on Saturday except to say that folded up contacts under an eyelid are no fun when you're out in the middle of nowhere. And Sunday I didn't have the ganas to do it. I guess part of this whole I-Can-Do-Whatever-I-Want Training Plan is ... I can do whatever I want. Or don't want. Hopefully this can get fixed. Soon.

Dear Mexico,
This morning, you stank.

I decided that I needed more upbeat music on my run. I have both upbeat and slow music on my iPod, but I took the time to delete all slow, flowy, boring music. I need a kickstart, and that's not going to happen with Jon Foreman. Jon, you know I love you, but not for running.  Instead it's all top 40 hits peppered with some loud rock. Jay-Z, take me away. At some point, I need to find a way to download some cheap music to add to this mix. 

Last night The Friends came over to start working on a puzzle. What kind of puzzle? U.S. Presidents puzzle, because we're nerds like that. We like to combine education and fun, and this was an excellent opportunity. Who's wearing pearls? Abraham Lincoln! Yes, that was actually said last night.
I know you will all wait in anticipation for the finished product. In the meantime, my kids will be coming over to my house in about 30 minutes, and to prevent them from ruining all of our hard work, I have to go lay a blanket over it. Those little hands are so quick.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Gabby announced she was going to make apple fritters and asked if I wanted to join her. Umm, apple fritters? YES, YES I would like to join you in making apple fritters. Gabby got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman (the recipe is at the bottom of the page), who everybody loves so much that she might be the next Julia Child. The recipe was much simpler than I imagined it, it's just that frying anything scares the bejeebus out of me. But all went well.

The batter:
We were both pretty unsure about the temperature of the oil, so our first batch was ruined. The fritters were too big, and the oil was too hot, which resulted in fritters with doughy centers and burned exteriors.

Gabby played with the oil temp, and we made the fritters much smaller (especially after we re-read the recipe part that says "drop teaspoons of batter").
Our first successful piece of fried goodness, cracked open to make sure it was cooked through. It was.
Dusted those little yummies with some powdered sugar. We also made a glaze that Gabby dunked some of the fritters in.
What I really liked about these fritters was that the apples somehow got to the perfect texture, even though you only fry the fritters for 2-3 minutes. It was just enough apple flavor. 

I think the equation for today goes like this:
Big salad for lunch + Apple fritters + Diet Coke = Balanced Diet

Yes? No? Okay, no. But let's pretend it does.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pocket Count

After two 30-minute classes with 4 to 6 year olds, my pockets contained:

** 1 confiscated blue balloon

** 1 dirty kleenex used on a kid's nose

** A small chunk of playdough that was being fought over

** One red racecar which was returned to me, because a student in another class had stolen it.


Run: 5mi/50:00

How's that for even stevens? I made myself go slow this morning. I want nothing messing up my long run tomorrow morning, and if I were to get sore from feeling like Speedy Gonzalez, then I'd only have myself to blame. So right now all I can think about is what sort of crazy routes I'm going to take tomorrow morning to be able to get in that many miles for my long run. There are only so many places I feel comfortable running in this town.

I've been thinking a lot lately about eating correctly for running. Other than changing my eating habits a few years ago for the better, I don't obsess like I know a lot of runners do. I try to make sure I'm getting enough water, and I'm even bad at that.

I'm fairly convinced that my poor performance at the half marathon was due to a poor day of eating the day prior. A hotel breakfast, half of a horrible salad for lunch, and a dinner that was too small considering I was going to burn 1500 calories the next morning.

So if any other runners want to weigh in on this - opinions? Do you keep track of what you eat religiously? I know I shouldn't eat six mini tostadas for dinner, but I know I also shouldn't just eat vegetables.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm surprisingly not sore from running my little heart out the last couple of days. To celebrate that fact, I forgot to set my alarm last night, and I overslept this morning, losing my chance for a run. I only run in the mornings here. It's cooler, there are less people out, and there are less cars kicking up dust.

While in Portland I got the opportunity to go to Everyday Music to look for music (Thanks, A!). Being in Mexico, and with a nearly full computer hard drive, I don't get much new music. I've been meaning to pick up a few things, and never got around to it, so getting the new(est) Menomena album, "Mines" was a happy moment. I finally got to pop it in, and I am very, very happy. "Taos" is a favorite so far, mostly because it means Menomena hasn't lost their guitar-driven hooks and can still rock.

"Oh I'll bet I know what you like
At least think I know what you might"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wingin' It

Run: 3.4mi/30:30

I'm diggin' this. I'm doing it on my own. It's DIY now, and I am reveling. I'm officially on the Run-However-I-Want-Because-I-Don't-Have-a-Race-To-Train-For training plan. It feels pretty good to just go with the flow and figure out what I need on my own. I have ideas in my head from past training plans, but I'm telling myself what to do. I've never enjoyed being told what to do, and halfway through training plans I've resorted to whining, "I just don't wanna..." So for now, I'm doing it how I want.

And I guess that means when I say "Wednesday I will run like crazy until I feel like my legs will fall off, and I will do it for 3.4 miles", then that's what I do. That's a serious 5k race pace for me. I've never run a 5k race, but let's just say I ran one this morning. Hey - yesterday I actually ended up running my 10k race pace that I did last Spring, and it felt easy and good. I ran the 5k+ today at a pace 30 seconds faster. Wow.

Actually, I ran some of it at a faster pace, because I know my first mile was about 9:20. Yesssss.

Meanwhile, while I'm sitting in my room on the floor, Lucy is lying next to me, trying to snooze away. I began to sing along with my music, and she looked at me like I was bothering her. Well, sorry.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Run: 5.3mi/ 50:24 (Pushing yourself further, both in time and distance, than you feel like going is a great feeling)

On Friday I had my kids back, but we just played with the toys in my classroom. Yesterday, however, we got down to business. And by "business" I mean singing. Every class went over most of our songs. Do you know how amazing kids' memories are? Those kids remembered hand motions, were able to at least try to sing along with most of the songs, and some could even recall what song should come next in order. I had a good talk with my Kinders about making sure they are actually touching the correct body part for "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". We do not accept laziness! Okay, I didn't say that to them, but it's what I conveyed.

I had a little extra time with one class and we went over our colors, by pointing to our large rainbow. They did such a great job.

They even remembered our method for lining up. They have to sit on the carpet and raise their hand. When I call their name, they say "Please?" I respond, "Yes, you can line up", and they say "Thank you", to which I respond, "You're welcome". I think this has been good practicing for asking and thanking, and they get to hear my responses (Yes, You're welcome). Hopefully sometime soon we'll move into "Please may I line up?"

I've started a new system in the class, and I'm anxious to see how it works out. In the past they had four days of music, stories, activities, coloring, etc, and on Fridays we always had a play day, no matter what. Instead, each class now has a paper on the wall, and we had a discussion yesterday about how they need to earn four stickers to get a play day. I asked them, "How do you think you get a sticker?" and automatically they knew "Be good". Exactly, my little grasshoppers. You are geniuses! I asked them "How do you be good?" and again, those little wonders said "Listen, Sing, Sit on the carpet." Two out of three classes earned their sticker yesterday. My oldest class did not. We'll try for it today.

Whenever I see the kids outside of English class, they spot me and yell "Profe Meghan! Hi! Hi! Profe Meghan! Profe Meghan!" and they're crazy. Today, while I was walking across the parking lot to breakfast, one class of kids was heading in the same direction, and the exclamations started. But, the best exclamation was "Profe Meghan! Te bañaste!?" Si. Yes, children. I bathed. Please don't act surprised.

And I will tell you right now that one of the most wonderful things in the world is to have a 5-year-old grab you around the waist and quietly say, "Profe Meghan, te quiero".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let's Talk Crazy!

While I run for fun and fitness and everything that running stands for (to feel good, to beat personal bests, to energize myself, to have really great legs, to have goals, blah blah blah), there are people who are professionals.

Thanks to SkinnyRunner, I saw that Kara Goucher, a professional Nike sponsored athlete (who lives in Portland), had a 74 minute half-marathon. 74 minutes!! That, in itself, is amazing to me, but umm.. she just gave birth 4 months ago, and she looks like this:
She looks like that four months after giving birth and she did a 74 minute marathon. Her coach says to prepare for the Boston Marathon this Spring she's going put in 100-110 mile weeks with additional water running.

I don't know about you all, but I've got some serious running to do. SkinnyRunner is giving away headphones. I bet if I had those headphones, I could run 100 miles a week. Just maybe.

Long Lost Love

Run: 3.4mi/33:00

I know this has happened to you, especially if you're a girl. You find that absolutely perfect piece of clothing. And if you're human, you lose it at some point. Or it doesn't fit. Or you stain it badly. Something happens and it's not in your life anymore.

A few years ago, to convince myself that it was okay to run in Oregon in the winter, I bought a pair of Brooks running pants. At the time you wouldn't be able to catch me in a pair of those running tights, and you won't ever see me in them now. Instead, I had found these running pants that were loose up top, but tapered at the ankles with little zippers. They were the perfect thickness with just the right weight to them.

When I moved to Mexico and used a treadmill at a gym in Ensenada instead of running outside, I moved the pants into category of lounge pants. Lo and behold, they were just as great to use for watching Jeopardy and eating tostadas. Or ice cream. These babies were functional, practical, and best of all, multi-purpose. C'mon - they had pockets!

 They were kinda like this. Kinda.
I packed up all of my things in June for the move, and somehow these multi-purpose wonders didn't make it into my bags. I have no idea where they went. I accused friends and roommates. I tore apart my boxes of belongings. They were nowhere to be found. I love you, Brooks running pants, I hope whoever has you now loves you as much as I did.

Runners: do you have a piece of running clothing that you couldn't live without? Something you love so much that you'd write a stupid blog post about it?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

7 Things

Small Town Runner tagged me to answer this, and I like doing it because it means that a) I have something to write about and b) someone wants to hear these answers, even if it's just one person.

Basically it's 7 interesting facts about me. It will not include that I like creeper glasses. It will not include that I like peanut butter and jelly. I promise. I cannot promise that they will actually be interesting, but it's worth a shot!

#1 - I have a grey streak in my hair
I started getting it when I was in high school, one small chunk of grey hair. Now that I have actual other grey hairs that are wiry and crazy like normal grey hair, I realize that my grey streak is not at all the same. It's smooth and lays down and it's long like the rest of my hair. I didn't like having it in high school as people usually made a big deal about it, but I love it now. Most often I get told that it's just like the lady from What Not To Wear (the tv show) or Rogue from X-Men. And I've just learned this year that in Spanish it's called a "lunar" or mole, kinda the same as a birthmark.

Most of the time it hides under my bangs and I don't have many pictures of it. 
 This picture is awkward because I did not want Stephanie to take it. Also, it was windy.
And there it is, barely peeking out.
#2 Singing
I've always loved to sing. I sang in a childrens choir when I was in 6th grade, and sang all four years in high school choir. I joined a jazz ensemble in college for the challenge. My mom is a singer and has a beautiful voice, so I grew up listening to music and watching my mom be involved in it. I sing alto, and you'd be hard pressed to get me to sing for you.

#3 Tabor House
My last two years in college I lived in a house with three other girls. The first year we lived in Rainier House, the second year we lived in Tabor House (our college named the houses after local landmarks). We dubbed ourselves "Tabor House", so when I refer to Tabor House I mean these three wonderful friends. Most people have had horrible roommate experiences, but I was extremely blessed to live with these ladies. They are fun, smart, talented, and crazy. Who else would I have created Tabor House band with? Who else would throw a chicken party? Who else would I do karaoke with? Who else would ring doorbells and yell "Mama!" Not anyone else, I can tell you that much.
 And who else would pose for cheesy Christmas cards?
 We graduated from college. Thank God.

#4 I've always been a nail biter
I don't know when I started, but I can't remember a time when I wasn't trying to stop biting my nails. I finally fixed it this summer, though. How? In the grossest way imaginable:
Yes, that is me trying to set up the picture so it looks like I'm picking my niece's nose.
But anyway, getting fake nails helped me realize what it's like to have actual nails. I despise what they do to your real nails, so I'll never do it again (besides being a waste of money), but it was good for the experience. So now I'm learning how to use a nail clipper and file instead of my teeth. It only took me about 18 years, but I'm making progress. 

#5 Volvos
My first car was a Volvo (1979 tan 242DL), my second car was a Volvo (1984 blue diesel station wagon). My third car was a Volvo (1980 tan Volvo Wagon). The last one I had for four years.
The picture I posted for its craigslist ad. Sob.
I love everything about old Volvos except their gas mileage. I shouldn't have ever sold the one above because it was near mint with extremely low miles, and it treated me well. I hope to own another one someday. I know it's weird, but I miss the way they smell, I miss the way they turn, and I miss the sound the doors make when you shut them. I know, I know, I'm crazy.

#6 Organization
I love organization. My mom will scoff at this because she's seen the rooms I've lived in. But I love making schedules, lists, calendars, and setting things up to be organized. When I was kid I would love taking those huge boxes of Crayolas and organizing them to look like a rainbow - every color in its place.

#7 Switchfoot
I won't go into detail, but I used to be obsessed with Switchfoot. From the very beginning, in 1997, I followed them like a fangirl. I even have a scrapbook somewhere with photos and ticket stubs, a broken drumstick, signed items, etc. I was the girl who had to be in the front row at concerts, as evidenced here:
 I don't know what year this was, but sometime when I was in high school, so before 2001.
 Roseland Theater, June 2001
  Wow Hall, Eugene, 2002?
I was also the one waiting around after shows to talk to them, and get pictures or autographs. As evidenced here:
 I also usually hounded them to do their cover of "Respect". I was probably incredibly annoying. There are too many other embarrassing things to talk about for this, including the time I somehow hacked into their website and found private tour pictures. Yeah. Let's leave it at that. 
And there you have it. Seven things you probably didn't need to know about, but now you do, and your life is the better for it!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hace cold

Run: 5.2mi/50:00min

I'm totally guessing on that. I'm too lazy right now to check the mileage. And after I ran 3 miles and came back to get Lucy, I forgot to reset my clock, so I have no idea how long the second part of my run was. It was nice to get up this morning and not feel like I had miles or a certain pace to check off a list, but that I just got to go running for however long I wanted.

Yesterday was my first day back, and I fully planned on running, but I couldn't get myself out of bed that early. Unfortunately, Lucy knew I was back, and that I should have been outside at 6am (the same time our driver comes to get our van to pick up the kids). I didn't show up, and I guess she banged around on my parents' apartment door, thinking I was hiding in there. "Take me for a run!" Sorry, Lucy.

This morning, though, I saw her, and had to leave to do 3 miles first, then come back for her. She was beyond excited to get off her chain to go for a run with me when I came back. She ran out the gate, barking the whole way, and ran down the street, jumped around my legs, and I swear she was smiling the whole time. It's nice to have a running partner.

It's also nice to come back to children who remember what we had covered in class before my break. Every day we had talked about the date and the weather, and at lunch 5 year old named Hanibal saw that I had goosebumps on my arm, and said "Es cold, si profe Meghan?" and I said "Si, yes, Es cold!", to which he replied "Si, hace cold." My heart melted right there. In Spanish you say "Hace frio" or "Hace calor" to indicate the weather, and he had simply replaced the "frio" with "cold". Smart kid.

Another girl showed up to class yesterday completely ready to talk about the weather, because before she sat down she started yelling "Sunny! Sunny! Sunny!" The kids know that word because it's sunny almost every single day here. They definitely know what that means.

Sorry, Oregon runners, I hate to tell you this, but: I ran in shorts and a t-shirt today.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Yesterday I was greeted by my buddy:
 She said to me "and... who are you?"

And today I got to play with these guys:

I know you're all jealous.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Bienvenida a mi! 

A nice welcome back to Mexico this morning. I caught a ride with a guy who works at another ministry in our town. We drove over the border to Tijuana, and stopped at a ministry house to trade trucks. While he packed and loaded the new truck, I sat in the house and talked to the cook for two hours. Practice Spanish? Check. Eat homemade food? Check. Have a great conversation with a wonderful lady? Check. Feel welcomed? Check. I love this hospitality.

Drove the rest of the day and got home about 4:30. I'm tired, and I need to unpack my huge suitcase.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I got asked again last night where I consider home to be. Is it Portland or is it Mexico? Having been away from Portland for a year and a half now, the question is warranted. When I leave Portland, do I feel like I'm going home? When I leave mexico to visit Portland, do I feel like I'm going home? Is Portland my real home but Mexico is my home away from home? Although I've only been living in my Mexican town full-time for 6 months, I've been in and out of that ministry and that town for over 8 years.

On the flight to San Diego this morning, I couldn't help but think about these questions. While today I feel like I'm heading "home" to my house, my belongings, my job, my friends, my church duties, my dog, my roads for running, and my Mexican sunrises, I left my heart-home. I say goodbye to my best friends, my family, my wonderful rain, and anything I could want at my fingertips.

Make no mistake, I continually ask myself if what I do is worth it. Is it worth only seeing my friends and family twice a year? Is it worth missing out on so many moments with them?

It is. I continually ask myself, and I continually remind myself that it is. My beautiful students are worth it. It is worth it when Andrea crawls into my lap to read a book with me. It is worth it when I walk in the cafeteria and they yell my name and want a high five. Those funny, crazy kids at church are worth it. It is worth it when I teach them a new game and make them laugh by falling on the floor. Most of all, it is worth it because I know God is in it.

Am I missing out, or do my gains outweigh my losses?

I am always asked where I feel my home is, but more often I am asked how long I plan to be in Mexico. I shrug my shoulders and say I have no idea. For how long? I'm not sure. But for now, it's worth it.


I'm at the airport with about an hour to kill. The Portland airport is nice enough to have free wifi. I thought that was a given these days, but I've recently learned that's not the case. Portland wins.

This is my hundredth post on this blog. Considering that I only started this blog a few months ago, it means I don't have a life and I will blog about whatever little thing pops into my head. Actually, that's not true. I really do have a pretty good filter. You should count yourself lucky that I don't write everything I think. I would scare you all off pretty quickly.

In elementary school, a lot of classes count the days of school and once they reach the big 1-0-0, they have a big celebration day and talk all about the number 100. I thought I'd glean some ideas off some teacher websites of things I could incorporate on my blog for my big 1-0-0, but they were pretty lame, like "draw a picture of yourself in 100 years". That would be a sad picture for myself. So, instead of telling you 100 reasons I love peanut butter jelly (or 100 ways to eat it), I'll just leave 100 alone.

Instead, to commemorate 100 blog posts, I'll defer to what has quickly become a classic on this blog. I hope for your sake that this is the last time this happens. Here goes nothing.

Amanda hadn't had her picture in the creeper glasses yet!!
 Too cute. She even matches the mixer.
What guys? You think the glasses could come out without me taking a picture? Get real. Let's hope this is the last time. 

In the meantime, I'm listening to Trueb, an Oregon City band from my high school days. I wish I could find an internet page with their music, but I can't. Nathan Trueb was the first person I saw shred a guitar.  Considering he's my age, and I was in high school at the time, it was a pretty big deal. I'm also composing an angry e-mail as to why I can't find a Willamette Week newspaper at the airport.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


You know you've been gone too long when there are changes going on back home that freak you out. I'm going to state three changes about Portland since I've been gone, and because I like a tidy little list, I will list them in order from least crazy to most crazy. I guess that should actually read "least crazy to craziest", but if I were to go back to correct it then I would be pretending to be good at writing.

Three Portland Things That Have Changed Since I've Been Out of the Country (In Order From Least Crazy to Craziest)

1) They changed the Made in Oregon sign! While this is not a shocker (they talked about it before I left), it still threw me off when I saw it. The sign can't make up its mind. White Stag, Made in Oregon, Portland Oregon. Whatever. 

Numbah 2) There are new license plates! What used to be reserved for vintage cars that never got their plates changed has now revamped itself into a 150th anniversary plate for Oregon. Ahh... The Pacific Wonderland. I love you. 

Super Duper 3) I drove my friend downtown a couple weeks ago. I was driving her car because she's from out of town. I acted like I totally knew what I was doing, until I hit East Burnside and 14th. AND WHAT? Immediately diverted to Couch Street all the way to the Burnside Bridge. Color me surprised.

I will leave out any discussion on Cesar Chavez street.

My Portland vacation has come to an end. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to free wifi at the airport, a new Willamette Week, hopefully no touching at airport security, and warm sunny weather where I'm going.

By the way - I think my title to my list is the beginning of a Master's thesis. Am I right or am I right?


Run: 3mi/31:00

I decided I had to get out there and run. I read a blog yesterday that made me think "oh gosh, running is fun", and I was itching to get out there. I still have a pretty sore left quad, but running this morning felt so good. I had to tell myself not to try too hard, to take it easy, and not think about miles. So I did.

I'm spending some time cleaning and packing. The room i'm staying in turned into a pigsty and now I get the joy of figuring out how to fit all of these things I have acquired over the lat 4 weeks into suitcases. One big suitcase will go back with me tomorrow, but some other things my parents will be able to bring back with them in their cars.

I head back to Mexico tomorrow and right back into trying to learn and speak Spanish. The only Spanish I've spoken while being here has been joking around with Stephanie (who speaks better Spanish than I do). It's usually something stupid like "Ven por aca!" and then we laugh like idiots. Yeah, it's not really funny. Just to us.

So, to try to get those Spanish words a-flowin' again, I have to play the lovely Julieta Venegas while I attempt to clean up this mess I call my belongings.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What a day

I actually can't think of a way to write this blog entry without being
a) cheesy
b) nerdy
c) stupid

So, you'll have to roll with me here and hang in there. Yes, today was the half-marathon, and no, it wasn't ideal. There you go, I just gave away the end result there in the first paragraph!

The forecast called for 100% chance of rain, and low 50s. I decided to wear my shorts, just in case you cared. I wore too many layered shirts on top, but kept them on the whole race.

When we showed up to the race, at 7:45, it was raining hard, and we had begun to talk about how dreadful the weather was. (Stephanie and I had planned to go shopping after the race, and her best line was "Well, we might as well run 13 miles, the outlet stores aren't open yet.") Once we arrived, though,  I stepped out of the car and realized how windy it was. Just perfect. But, of course, you have to run the race anyway, so we got our bibs, hung out in the car for a while, and then huddled with all the other runners inside the school until the last possible minute before the 9:00am start.

The story is basically this: It was really bad weather, and I didn't run like I wanted to. I don't know if it was nerves, or if I was upset about the weather, or if it was indeed the weather that made it so bad. The rain was on and off (mostly on), with bad wind that made the rain hit the side of my face. That's no fun. The shorts got soaked and stuck to my legs. I had side stitches the majority of the time (and I never get side stitches). My shoes and socks were soaked by mile 2. About halfway through I knew that my goal time was completely shot. At mile 8 I started counting down how much time I had left.  I had remembered that a running friend told me to really push hard and go for it after the halfway point, but already by then I was so tired. In fact, I kept saying to myself "I'm never doing this again", in between trying to repeat "I love running, I love running, I love running".

The best thing happened at mile 12. I thought I heard someone yell "Meghan!" but I, of course, assumed it was for someone else, and perhaps I misheard because I had my headphones in. Although some people had talked about coming to see us, nobody had confirmed any plans to do so (which was absolutely fine by both Stephanie and me). But next thing I knew, I looked over and my friend Erin was running down the road after me. I hit her in the arm because she surprised me so much. She said hi, that she and her husband, Marcus, were back in the car and had taken pictures, exclaimed about the horrible weather, and told me I was doing great. I don't think I could thank them enough for driving down to see us and for doing that. It was a wonderful surprise and we got to have lunch with them after the race.

I finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes, a full 10 minutes slower than I had been aiming and training for. What a disappointment. I feel fortunate enough that I never walked, I didn't get hurt, I achieved a goal, yadda yadda yadda. But I can't help but feel really disappointed.

After Stephanie and I both finished we got to take showers in the locker room (which was a really nice feature for the race to have), and we headed off to do what best girl friends do best: have lunch and go shopping. We were both very tired and sore, but walking around the outlet mall was actually good for our legs.

Marcus and Erin have both run marathons and I explained to them my confusion over having such a horrible time. I've heard over and over that at races your adrenaline can kick in and you can be pleasantly surprised at how fast and well you run. I don't know what planet those people are from, but that certainly didn't happen to me. I was frustrated because I have run both 11 and 13 mile long runs at a pace merely 15 seconds slower than what I ran today and felt absolutely fine, but at the end of the race today, running a relatively slow pace, I wanted to curl up and die. What gives? I won't analyze it all here on the blog, as it will bore you all to tears.

Information about the race:
~We ran the Cascade Half Marathon, in Turner, Oregon (just south of Salem).
~The start and finish is at Cascade Jr. and Sr. High School.
~They have three distances: Half Marathon, 10k, and 2 mile.
~All three races combined are held to 1,000 runner limit.
~It was a cheap race, $45 for the half marathon.
~We got a technical tee that is a bright neon green that I will never wear. Not any goodies.
~The medal is nice and in the shape of the state of Oregon - I can definitely deal with that :)

Good things:
*A small race means it's not crazy packed with people, and seems a little friendlier
*Having it held at the school was fun, with lots of parking and a lot of space inside to hang out before and after the race
*Flat Course
*Lots of water and Gatorade stations and they had plenty of both
*Fairly scenic
*Use of locker rooms to store items (with your own lock) and/or take showers. Considering the weather and how soaked all of my clothes were, this was really convenient.

Bad things:
`When we crossed the finish line, there was no water, no Gatorade, nothing to eat, etc. There was soup, bread, cookies, water, and coffee in another building and you had to follow the signs. I actually think it is a little ridiculous that they couldn't at least hand out a bottle of water at the end, or even have one more water/Gatorade station at the finish.

My legs hurt. Stephanie and I are going to do some classic mall walking tomorrow. I, myself, can't stand the idea of going for a walk in the rain. But for now, I need to go to bed. Stat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Number Game

Run: 3.1mi/31:30

This morning was my last run before the half-marathon on Sunday. Iiiijole (The Meghan translation of that Spanish word is "oh my word"). I can't run tomorrow morning, I shouldn't run on Saturday morning, so there it is. Now all I can do is sit and worry. Actually, I'm not worried at all. I'm only concerned about what I'll wear. Typical girl.

Our visit to the high school yesterday went absolutely fine. The Spanish teacher was great, we had good conversations with the kids, and met the school principal who is really excited and wants to bring a team of kids down next year. We all thought it was a fruitful meeting. It was especially beneficial because none of the high schoolers beat us up. And afterward we went to a Five Guys right down the street. Pretty productive afternoon, if you ask me.
By the way - at Five Guys, if you order a hamburger, it comes with two patties. Who didn't know that? I didn't know that, and apparently I wasn't paying attention when the girl explained it. So guess who got to take that extra patty off her burger? Yep. In case you were wondering, I got it with "everything", minus the mushrooms, add jalepeños. 'Cause I like it like that.
Inevitably, when I meet people, they think I am younger than I am. This happened yesterday with the Spanish teacher who couldn't believe I was 28. I have to take it as a compliment, and I know I'll love it when I'm 40, but for now it gets old trying to diplomatically answer the question "So where do you go to school? Are you on school break right now?" No matter how much I try to hint at the number of different jobs I've had and places I've lived since college, I guess my youthful appearance fools people. So someone I just met was convinced I was 23, the girls at my church in Mexico thought I was 23, and the Spanish teacher was convinced I couldn't possibly be 28.

Then last night we went to a church for their Wednesday night service. I sat, waiting for the service to start, listening to the teenage girls behind me talk. All of a sudden, I heard "Well, 30's not old, but... it's kinda old." I was this close to turning around and saying something, but I held my tongue. Since when did it become okay for me to defend 30?
To kill time between appointments yesteday, we stopped at a thrift store (surprise, surprise), where I found some great books. I found a couple for me, including Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song (which I hope I will like because I liked In Cold Blood just about as much as you can love a story about an innocent family being murdered), and Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men.

But best of all I found some perfect books for my kids back in Mexico. Arthur Counts, D.W.'s colors, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It's a great book in itself, but I can't help but hope the kids will learn a little something about eating too much bad food. Let's cross our fingers.

Today I am getting a haircut. I have been looking forward to this for 3 months. Nothing drastic is being done, and nobody will be able to tell a difference, but I will, and that's what matters.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Books: Matilda

Matilda by Roald Dahl

I'm an upper elementary teacher at heart, so don't roll your eyes at me! Stevie made me buy this at Powell's when we were there last week. I think that maybe I read James and the Giant Peach as a kid, but other than that my Roald Dahl experience is next to nil. I've read many parts of the BFG because it seems like every fourth and fifth grade class reads that and when I was substituting I read it aloud a lot.

Well, I'll tell you what - Roald Dahl creates great characters. Kids love outlandish situations. Take anything ordinary, say an overly strict principal, a bad home situation, a sweet teacher, a precocious kid, and then exaggerate it and kids will eat it up.
My favorite thing about this book is that although Dahl creates this almost superficial world, the solution to the central problem is simple, nearly believable, and to the point. No drawn out abracadabra. Dahl, instead, uses his book time wisely by creating the world for the reader, and I believe the reader's imagination is better off for it.

(By the way, I found two typos in this version of Matilda, and although it may seem really uptight, it truly bothers me. Who's not getting paid well enough to edit children's books?)

Mmmmm Socks

Run: 3.9mi/35:41

If you can't tell by now, my running has tapered off. And not tapered in the way that you're supposed to taper, just a lazy me taper. As in yesterday I looked outside and the roads looked a little slick and I reasoned with myself "well it is certainly not a good idea to get injured the week before a half marathon", so I stayed in. Nice reasoning.

One of the best simple pleasures in life is new socks. And that statement needs no explanation.

My parents and I are going to talk about what we do to two classes of high schoolers today. I am already praying to God for protection and serenity. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I grew up thrift store shopping. I didn't mind it as a kid, thought it was extremely embarrassing as a pre-teen and early teenager, and then finally embraced it in my late teens. A lot of people blow them off because they don't want to spend the time going through the racks, and I can understand that. However, I'd say about 40% of my clothes are second hand, and I'll bet you money that nobody even knows. Except that I tell everyone. On my blog. On the internetz.

You think American thrift stores are bad? Check out what they got going on in Mexico - the globos. The globos is the traveling market, that comes to your town on a specific day of the week. On that day people set up tables in the neighborhood streets and sell a variety of things: Produce, new clothes, crafts, music, herbal remedies, and a whole lot of used clothing.

Except, it's all piled on tables, in no particular organized fashion. You just dig through a pile of clothes. I used to think I couldn't handle it, being the type of person who loves organization, but through the advice of a friend - I got into it. I have learned to look at the fabrics. Gauzy? No thank you, I never wear gauzy. Bright orange? Whatever it is, I'm not going to wear it. It's actually a pretty fascinating skill when you can look at the hem of a jean and realize it's probably American Eagle, Old Navy, or the Gap. At that point, you pull out the jeans from the pile to see if you like the style, the size, and the length. By the way - no dressing rooms at the globos.

With all I've learned from thrifting and from globeando (which is actually a word a church friend said to me!), here are my Tips for Being an Awesome Thrifter Just Like Meghan.

Tips for Being an Awesome Thrifter Just Like Meghan.

#1 - Do not go with something specific in mind. You're going to be disappointed. Saying to yourself "I would really like to get a blue, yellow, and white blouse with buttons up the front" really just means you might as well stay home. Instead you just have to know what you would like to have, in a general statement, such as "I will look at jeans, blouses, and sweatshirts". This is, of course, only applicable if you talk to yourself before you go shopping, like I obviously do.

#2 - Know what works, and what doesn't. Guess what? If it doesn't usually work, it probably won't work this time, either. I've made this mistake before, thinking "hey... this is cute, and cheap, and nice looking, it might work" and then I waste my time trying it on and, just like the last shirt exactly like it, it doesn't work. I know for myself that I don't buy capris because they look hideous on me, polo shirts hate me, and there is only one style of Levi's that actually fit me. I do not try these things on, thinking that they'll work this time. Cap sleeves? In my dreams. It's not happening. Put it back on the rack, Meghan.

#3 - Look in different sizes. I know, I know, you think you're a size 8. Well, guess what? In Gap you're a 10, and in Old Navy you're a 6. And in junior's you're an Extra-Large. Seriously, it's a crazy sizing world out there, and you better brace yourself for trying on something with a number you don't like. 

#4 - You gotta really love it. If you are standing in the dressing room going, "it's okay, but I can't believe it's only $4, so I'm going to get it", then you need to quit thrift store shopping. This has happened to me too many times in the past, and I don't let it happen anymore. Spending $4 on a shirt you're not ever going to wear does not make it cheap.

#5 - Use your time wisely. I can spend an extreme amount of time in a good thrift store because I like to look at everything. But, using that skill learned at globos, I now usually scan the racks because I know what types of fabrics I'm looking for.

#6 - Take your mom with you so you can get the seniors' discount. I'm not kidding.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Art of the Mix Tape

Run: 3.25mi/33:15

I recently received a mix CD from a friend, and it made me think back to the days of mix tapes. Long before the days of buying (or stealing) music online, the greatest option was to record a song off the radio. I had a CD/tape/radio player and I became a pro and knowing when the commercials would stop and when the song would begin. Of course, the only problem with this was not knowing what song would be played next. It was a lot of gambling. I don't remember exactly what I ever recorded off the radio, but it was probably from KISM FM or Z100, and it was probably Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe in Magic" or something from Ace of Base. I'm not saying those were it, but that's my best guess.

Then a few years down the road came the desire to make a mix tape for a friend. Today most people throw together a playlist on itunes, and the computer can tell you just about everything you need to know for fitting all the music on to the disc: how many songs you have, how many minutes you have left to fill, etc.

Not so back in the day. If you wanted a supreme mix tape, you had to know how long those songs were and add up all the time. While some tapes or CDs told you how long the songs were on the packaging, some did not, and you had to figure it out for yourself. I usually ended up with a 60 minute blank tape, which allowed for 30 minutes on each side. If I added up 6 songs, and they were over 30 minutes, one had to be cut. Not a big deal, unless you end up with 4 minutes of blank space at the end of the tape. Not cool. Obviously not planned out. Rookie mistake.

And don't forget the flow of songs. Today we're used to skipping around to whatever we feel like. I do it on my running playlist on my ipod all the time. Don't want to listen to it? Skip it. On a tape, it's a little harder to do, so the ideal is to fill that tape with not only good songs, but songs that go well together.

And finally, the packaging. This was always my weak area. I was never quite as creative as my friends, and I usually, in my very organized way, just wrote down the songs and artists in order.

These days it's the mix CDs, and still, every once in a while, I get out a mix CD from early college and remember when.

Did you ever make mix tapes?

And right now I'd like to take the opportunity to say how excited I am for Duck football tonight. Anybody else watching?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Books: Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I'll just admit this right out here in the open: I never read a lot of that "required reading". I don't mean required reading like the selections chosen for you by teachers, but the books that every young person is supposed to read. I've discovered over the past few years that I just don't like being told what to do - and that translates to everything. So  - I'm supposed to read The Diary of Anne Frank? Forget it. I've got better things to do. Great attitude, right?

Somehow I ended up with a copy of this book. I don't know how most books end up on my bookshelf, but I think I took this one from the last community house that I lived in, where past residents had left books behind. It was the perfect size to bring on my trip, and I've enjoyed pulling it out to read Anne's thoughts as she spent two years in hiding and growing up.

I don't think it would have surprised anyone if Anne had grown up to be a successful writer. At 13, her observations on interpersonal relationships and the personalities of others is remarkable. I'd like to chalk it up to living in isolation, therefore giving her a greater opportunity to read people, but she starts off from the very beginning of her diary as thoughtful, insightful, and inquisitive. By the time Anne turns 15, she has an outstanding ability to understand herself and her emotions.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A bunch of stuff

Run: 10.8mi/1:51:00

Some day soon God and I are going to have a talk. And this talk will consist of me explaining to God that hail is not okay. Also, I think it should be a rule that if you start out a run on an overcast morning without rain, it should stay rainless. But, this is Portland and those prayers will be laughed at. Wet feet, wet pants, wet shirts, wet ponytail.

Lest I complain more, I will say that it was actually an enjoyable run - I felt completely okay the entire time, I ended well, and it didn't feel like work. That's always a good sign. I missed my tempo run this week. Actually, scratch that. I didn't miss it, I just couldn't seem to do it. We'll leave it at that.

I know, I know. Five years ago I said Ugg boots were ugly and that there was no need for them. I have found their niche, and it's to wrap my tired feet in shearling goodness after an 11 mile run. Can't imagine it? It's like tucking your feet in for a nap, wrapped in a blanket of rainbows and glitter.

It's been busy around here, and I apologize to all my readers (Mom), who have missed my posts. I've had a couple Portland-y days, which have been nice and a good reminder as to why I love this city so much. #1 reason why I love this city so much is that people I love live here. That's a good reason. In the last couple of days I have:
1) Eaten at Ken's Artisan Pizza
2) Belted out some karaoke with my best friends at Voicebox
3) Grabbed dessert at McMenamins
4) Visited the Rhodedendron Gardens
5) Picked up books at Powell's downtown
6) Eaten nachos and burrito at The Taco House, an old family favorite
7) Partaken in Korean bbq
8) Gotten to check out Pix Patisserie
9) Run on my favorite part of my favorite trail, which will remain a mystery to all of you stalkers out there.

And tonight - #10 - College basketball.

Pretty good, no? And now it's time for pictures.

The lovely creeper glasses made a special trip, all the way from Mexico. Safely tucked away in our minivan's glovebox, they anxiously awaited to be on Stevie's face again. In case you missed it last time, the creeper glasses made their debut at my parents' dining room table in Mexico, and then again at a dinner among friends.

Thursday night they made their debut at karaoke.

 But somehow they didn't make it on Amanda's face. This will be remedied in the near future.

One day, one day I will learn how to take pictures that are not blurry. In the meantime, my friends do not stop moving during karaoke, and therefore this is the best karaoke shot I got.

 Stevie gave me the 20 bucks she owes me for drinking hot dog juice. That was a great, great moment.

And pictures from the rhodedendron garden.

 And this guy's walking around, flaunting his style like Kanye. You can't blame him, he's lookin' pretty fly.

Crafty McCraftypants

Have I mentioned how crafty my friends are? I mean, I have talked about my own craftiness (which sounds like I'm scheming up something evil), but my friends are pretty good at it, too. The best part about this is exchanging gifts.

I made brown sugar body scrub and lip gloss for my friends this year. Their usefulness and practicality are a little questionable, and I had to tell everyone that. But I tried. 

My friends, however, knocked it out of the ballpark. Stephanie made personalized t-shirts for us. Okay, she personalized t-shirts for us, she didn't actually make the t-shirts. But how cute is this?
(That M stands for Meghan, guys. Get it?)

And then Amanda did a bang up job personalizing tote bags for all of us. Mine is two-sided and she said I can wear it according to how I feel. This bag will probably be my market bag. I'm sure of it.
 Absolutely, positively perfect. (Do my friends know me, or what?)
 The bag that Amanda made for Stephanie was "I *heart* sweatpants", which is a completely true statement about Stephanie. Natalie's bag has her new nickname on it, but for some reason I don't feel a public place such as this is ready to hear that nickname. This is a family friendly blog.