Monday, June 20, 2011

First bike ride

I rode a bike in two areas on my mission. I was perhaps the only sister (or missionary for that matter) in my mission who liked biking as a form of transportation. My first day on the bikes in Liverpool, NY was terrible. We rode approximately 1.8 miles to a member's apartment and it kicked my butt. Mind you, I was in a walk area for seven or eight months prior to this, so I wasn't totally out of shape. That night I couldn't sleep because my legs hurt so bad. But I got used to it. In my last area, we'd ride anywhere from 6 to 20 miles in a day. My friend and former mission companion L can attest to this. She questioned my sanity when we rode to places like Chittenango and Delphi Falls. With that said...

That was three years ago. I decided for the summer, I want to bike into work because its only nine miles down to work and I've got the time and energy to do it. And it will save on gas. And I need exercise and I need to lose weight. It's a win/win situation.

Today I decided to see where I'm at with biking so I took my bike for a 5.5 mile ride. If it was flat, it would be a piece of cake. But I chose a hilly path. On the uphills I was averaging about 5 miles an hour and 14 mph on the flat sections.

After my dad got home he told me about a lower gear I can access on the left handle bar that I didn't know about. So maybe I could have done better on the hills had I known there was a lower gear than what I was doing. I went south just under three miles and then turned around and went back. So I had mostly three miles of downhill followed by three miles of uphill. Note to self: Don't do the downhill part first. Maybe even find a bike path that has fewer stop signs.

Stop signs suck. When stopping, lean uphill rather than downhill. You'd think because I have some experience in snowboarding on hills that I'd transfer that knowledge but I didn't. The end result was hitting that top tube in the last place one would like to be hit. I don't know what the girl-equivalent term for "nutting" is but thats basically what happened.

The other problem is I was riding my dad's road bike which is a 53 cm frame and I should be riding between a 46-50 cm frame. You might think 3 cms wouldn't make that much of a difference but I felt like riding something more my size would be more comfortable. And maybe having a women's specific bike with the top tube a little lower would help when I need to stop.

No matter where on the handlebars I had my hands, I felt a lot of weight on my palms and that was probably the most annoying part.

When I got home, I walked up the stairs and my legs felt like noodles. But I've been home an hour now and I feel fine. We'll see how sore I am in the morning.

On Thursday I think I'm going to find somewhere to rent a bike for a day. I want to try a smaller frame to see if I like that better. But if I do, that will present a problem :) Anyway, I had a goal to be riding into work by Friday this week but I think that'll be put off another week or so. I need to figure out the bike situation and then work up to being able to ride 9 miles uphill.

All in all, I enjoyed my ride today. It was a relaxing workout. Except for the part where I tripped. And the stop signs in the most inconvenient of places. For example, there is this a downhill section followed by a sharp uphill. If I could have started at the top of the hill, sped down to gain speed and then go up, that would have been ideal. But no, there is a stop sign with a cross street with fast cars so you have to stop. then start from a stand still at the bottom of the hill. It sucks. And one time I was downshifting and I think the bike got stuck between two gears and I didn't know what the heck to do about it. I guess I got it figured out cause I finished the ride.

It was like the first day snowboarding. I couldn't stay standing up very long. I fell a lot. Couldn't turn. My legs were sore from using muscles I wasn't used to using. I wouldn't call anyone's first day on the slopes real snowboarding (well except for maybe T's first day). Everyone has a sucky first day boarding but either you love it enough to persevere through the learning process or you hate it enough to never go again.

I'd prefer to keep pushing through till I can ride my bike to Salt Lake and back.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Salad of thoughts

at my internship, it's weird having to switch between the creative, magazine style to the news style for my online news stories. news stories are so much easier to do when all you're doing is working (or you have one class twice a week in the evenings). having so much time and knowing some of the tips and tricks really makes the process quicker and more efficient. 

news stories are the lifeblood of writing for me. i get excited and feel a mild rush as i begin a story. hunting down sources, figuring out the direction. some stories lend themselves to being easily discovered and told though. that same exhilirating rush i can get from going through those steps with some stories can be the very same process that leads me to downright anxiety and frustration. i guess its feeling the success in those steps is where i feel most excited. 

i love seeing how stories unfold. each story is like using a different medium. you have to kind of figure out what the stories medium is and go with that. If you have a story that functions like water color, you cant really expect it to act like oil paint. one of the hard parts of forming your story is figuring out if your story is a piece of wood to be carved, or if it is clay that is molded or pastels that are drawn with. you do have control over the creative process of what you do with the medium, but it can be insanity to the journalist to try and make a story something its not. dont just try and make your story fit into one or two cookie cutter molds and dont assume at the beginning you know how it'll all turn out. allow it to develop itself. 

writing for the daily universe or other church-owned media is like just being another branch of church pr. you have to basically just say good things about the Church.

often when people blog they feel like they have unique ideas, or ways to express them. 

people aren't always who you think they are. 

people need a purpose for their lives. not just "oh i go to work every day" but they need to be making a difference in each others lives. Or else people will be miserable. if you're not experiencing things that inspire you, you'll become depressed. if you're not involved in making things better (even if they are really small things) you wont feel that purpose or excitement for life. 

Katie's camping list for a successful campout

My ward went on an overnight campout up at the Heber Valley Camp. I didn't know what to pack. I mean come, on this isn't girls camp where they provide you with a packing list. But its a good thing this isnt girls camp cause there are boys and I can legally bring my ipod and makeup and drive my own car. So I pack what I think I'll need for an overnight excursion: foam mattress, sleeping bag, pillow, camp chairs, hoodie, change of clothes, bug repellant, pink keds, tan keds (just in case), flashlight, toothpaste, toothbrush, hair brush, qtips and a other random things like a pen, ipod, headphones, etc.

Whats missing from this list that you might want for a camping trip?

I get up there, unload my car and chill out in the pavilion with some other latecomers (the rest of the group was down the hill at a challenge course). I ask one of the leaders what the plan is for the next day. Among other things, she said some people might go hiking. Hiking boots! I didn't think to bring hiking boots! Or socks for that matter. I haven't worn socks in probably three months.

After they got back, we had a kind-of fireside thing. It became very, very cold. My feet were freezing. I wish I had socks. And a real jacket. but everyone else was in hoodies so I didn't feel so bad. But at least they all had their hiking boots to keep their feet warm. I had a thin pair of canvas keds on.

While camping, I was dying to blog. But obviously didn't have technology to do so. So I wrote my thoughts on a piece of paper with a pen. Can you imagine that? I wrote about my unpreparedness for camping and the need to blog. And boy scout juice.

So, I'm afraid of the dark. Legitimately afraid. Not just like a little nervous when its dark. I used to have to sleep with the light on when I was younger. It kind of went away when I was a teenager but now its back. Perhaps the person who knows this about me better than anyone is T. So I'm sitting on my bunk and realize my headphones are in the car. Its dark and late. And I'm afraid of the dark. And there are bears up in the mountains. And boys. I was glad to know none of those boys knew me well enough to try and scare me in the dark. T would probably have done it if he were there (note to self: reconsider going camping with T if given the opportunity). Luckily I made it back to the cabin, headphones in hand,  without being attacked by a boy or a bear.

Aside from my unpreparedness, it was a fun campout. It was fun sitting by the fire at night and hearing people tell stories or jokes. I warmed my feet up by sticking them up next to the fire. Maybe the soles of my shoes melted a little but I didn't care. I ended up bailing early on Sat morning on account that I couldn't go on the hike and I didn't want to just sit around at camp. Most the people who weren't going on the hike were also bailing out early. And I missed having cell phone reception a little bit. But while I was up at the camp I kinda liked not being able to check the internet or my phone. It was nice.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Opening my mind

But not with drugs. Unless you consider music a drug. A friend of mine, T, invited me to a concert for a band I'm not too familiar with called Manchester Orchestra. So why would I agree to attend a concert of a band I've never heard longer than 3 seconds?

Because an experience I had going to another concert. When I went to see Taking Back Sunday with my little sister, I couldnt get into the band beforehand. She burned me a cd and I just couldnt like their stuff. But I had to go to the concert because Christine was young enough at the time that my parents wouldnt let her go without me. And because I already had spent the money on a ticket. At the concert, I fell for their music. Then TBS became one of my favorite bands that summer. From that experience I concluded, some bands are just better live. And some are better when they've been doctored up in the studio (Black Eyed Peas, anyone?)

So Sunday night I say to T, "I guess I have one week to get into Manchester Orchestra." I was excited at the prospect. The first time I listened to them I was not hooked. I could appreciate a couple of songs for their musical qualities but they didn't catch my interest. Pensacola was one of the first I liked for its sound--not so much for the lyrics. T asked me what I thought of the lead's voice. It is very unique. I liked it. I also like the voice of the lead singer in Anberlin who also has a unique voice. And James Blunt. Some people are turned off by those types of voices. And trust me, there are voices of musicians out there that I simply cannot stand. Not the case this time.

I've known for awhile that it usually takes me a long time to like new stuff and I usually hate everything at the beginning. One of my most favorite bands right now, Muse, was a band I was unimpressed with at first.

I've listened to Simple Math every day (sometimes multiple times a day) this week. Monday and Tuesday, I was trying to force their style and sound into my little box. That wasn't working. I wanted to be in love with the lyrics but it just wasnt happening. T knows lyrics is one of the biggest things that drives me to particular songs. With him, not so much. He is more interested in the melodies a song has to offer. I think emotion can be strongly expressed in both ways, but one is a little more obvious than the other. Props to T for appreciating the unspoken emotion of a song. By Tuesday I felt like I was entering into an arranged marriage with Manchester Orchestra on Saturday. I was going to a concert of a band I didn't choose and I didn't want to back out. I wanted to make it work. But it was going to be a mystery as to what the band would bring to the arranged marriage. It wasn't like I felt dismay at the prospect of an arranged marriage. Just this feeling of, "ok, I'm going to make this work despite my preconceived notions."

Wednesday was a turning point for me. A couple of songs really started to stand out to me, like Pale Black Eye and Virgin. Pale Black Eye snuck up on me. It was toward the end of the song when I felt the emotion the lead singer was conveying as well as the music supporting him. As it ended I had to restart the song with this open-mindedness that I might actually like other parts and aspects of the song if only I looked for them. The song grew on me fast.  At first I didn't like Virgin because of how heavy it was and I typically gravitate to lighter styles like John Mayer or Death Cab. I could appreciate Virgin for what it was trying to do, but it didn't catch me. Kind of like how I can acknowledge Jazz music as good and talented without actually liking it. But Virgin grabbed me because of its predictable repetitiveness. Maybe it is a little too repetitive but it got stuck in my head. Then I started allowing myself to feel the emotion of it and then I loved it. I told T a few of the songs were actually starting to grow on me. I gave up on trying to be in love with the lyrics and just tried to appreciate the sound because thats what got me with Pale Black Eye. One of the reasons I had a hard time with this specific band is that I couldn't understand what they were saying half the time.

Today is when I was able to articulate the reasons I had a hard time with this album at first. I've learned from this experience that I'm pretty closed-minded about new music and thats why I usually don't like it at first.  I try and cram music into a box. I want it to sound a certain way. I want the structure of a song to follow a certain format. I have to fall in love with the lyrics. If it gets stuck in my head quickly, all the more better. I like music with predictable repetition. I've got to be able to sing along. But after listening to most of the songs several times, I've realized I have to read a little deeper into the lyrics to understand what they mean. I have to work at appreciating the message. I also did a little googling wed night to find some explanations by the band. Not every song is explained but hearing the central message of what Simple Math is about, I realize that there's a very specific context for some of these songs and its not blatantly obvious. And if you dont know what that context is, you are like a lost wanderer in a foreign land. Anyway, yesterday I accepted I couldn't expect to appreciate the songs based on lyrics alone. And today I realized these songs just dont follow a structure I'm used to. But when I started opening my mind do what they are (instead of what they aren't) I started to feel a new hope that I could maybe really like this band.

I'm still excited to see if they're awesome in concert on Saturday. Thats one question I had from the start and after this whole process this week, it still remains.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Explaining why i have to explain people

I dont understand people. I dont understand where they get their ideas. Why they get pleasure from what they do. Why they treat others the way they do.

I dont even understand myself.

I know that I judge people because its how I think I can make them make sense in my head. Or to put it another way...people dont make sense. when they dont, my first reaction is to judge them. but why is that my response? because if i judge them, i give an explanation for why they are the way they are. Or maybe I dont give an explanation, but I put them in some sort of box and then I feel like they make sense to me now. so judging people is how i fool myself into thinking they make sense to me. or explaining them.

Even though judging them is so wrong in so many ways. I cant assume I know why people are the way they are. I cant put them into a box because usually the box I choose is much worse than what reality is. But I have a hard time dealing with the fact that people are confusing to me. I have to be able to explain 85% of what I observe in my life.

The best I can come up with is that most of the time, people do things the way they do for a reason (even though that reason is not apparent to me).