Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why would someone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

Last weekend of summer turned out to be a pretty damn good weekend. Trav and I had a lovely evening on Friday night walking to and from dinner discussing how much we DO NOT want to go back to school. We then donated $10 to a fundraiser the restaurant was promoting. We're pretty good people, I know.

I, then, had two of mah biffles join me at the condo for the latest episode of Jersey Shore. Has to be one of the most entertaining shows I've watched, but enough with the Sammy-Ronni drama. Get over it Sammy, he made out with some grenades...shit happens.

Stephanie, Kasey, and I wake up Saturday morning to get ready for any other normal Saturday. Wait, no....not any other normal Saturday. We got ready to go...SKY DIVING!

Yes, I went sky diving, and it was the most amazing experience of my life. For people who say they would never do that or that they're scared, man up. You have not lived until you've been sky diving.

Steph paid for Kasey and I for our birthday presents over the past 5 years. Pretty damn good friend=pretty damn good present. Thanks Stiffy! I did not get the video which I'm pissed about, so I don't want to talk about it...

The weather was simply amazing. Not a cloud in the sky and no wind. You literally could not have asked for a better day than yesterday. Only three tandem divers could go up at a time, so we thought that would be perfect. Well, we were wrong. Since Steph was the first person to hand her paper work in, she had to go with two randoms. So the girl who paid about $645 that day, had to go by herself. And her boyfriend was actually the third for our trip. Ms. Garrison was not too thrilled. Sorry your shit is weak Steph and you didn't read any of the million paragraphs on the waiver and just signed your life away to be the done first.

Steph is the first to go and when she comes down, the first thing she says is "That was f*cking.... (we're all waiting for: awesome, the coolest thing I've ever done, amazing) sooooooo scary!" Steph then goes on a ten minute rant of how it was the scariest thing she's ever done and it was fun, but so scary!

Thanksssssssssssss. Kasey, Chris,'re up. Good luck!

So once you're in your suit, your partner comes over to strap you in and talk to you. Things got pretty awkward, especially for guys. There is a lot of touching and awkward position, I'll leave it at that.

So we're going up in this tiny plane and there are 6 expert divers in front of us who think it's fun to f*ck with the newbies. I did not enjoy their presence. So we finally get up to 14,000 feet and my diving partner decided to give me a high five. Sorry I'm not sorry my hands were least I did pee myself...or worse...

So Kasey is the first to go out of the three of us and she goes up to the open door with her partner strapped in behind her. On 3, they jumped and then DISAPPEARED. It was insane, now you see them, now you don't. That was after Kasey looked back at me with a look of sheer terror on her face. And after Steph's comments of this being the scariest thing she's ever done, I'm just about ready for jump out of a plane.

So my guy, Walt, and I shimmy up to the opening and I look out to see nothing but blue sky and a tiny landscape 14,000 feet down. I start to think "Holy shit, I'm going to jump into the air with nothing underneath me...What if the chute doesn't open? What if my guy has a heart attack mid-way through the air? What if..." My thoughts were stopped by Walt: "Okay, here we go!"

Luckily I was not the one who had to do anything except lift my feet and go into "banana position." As soon as Walt is happy with my position, Walt jumps out of the plane.

Talk about a truly 'Holy Shit!' moment.

My stomach drops. Wind is slamming me in the face. I'm free falling through the air at about 120 mph. Luckily my stomach only dropped for the first few seconds and I kept thinking "I don't like this, I don't like this!"

I was free-falling for 45-60 seconds thinking "I'm not talking through this entire thing!"

Then Walt pulled the chute. BINGO!

That shit wakes you up!

So now Walt and I are chilling thousands of feet in the air, and I can't shut up. I must have said "This is f*cking awesome!" about 87 times. I also said "This is literally the coolest f*cking thing I've ever done!" about 39 times. It was just amazing. I can't even describe how incredible this experience was.

Walt turned into quite the tour guide. He showed me UConn, Gampel shines brightly when the sun is high. He showed me Springfield, MA. He then whipped us around and showed me Hartford.

And just as I'm beginning to relax, he goes "Are you comfortable? This looks a little tight." And then loosens my chest strap! I grab hold even tighter, white knuckles at this point, and go "Walt! No!! I'm fine, don't loosen anything!" And Walt has the nerve to go ahead and laugh about it!

We then see Kasey floating through the air pretty closely and Walt says, "Let's go see your friend." So we float on over to Kas and her instructor, who desperately wanted Steph.

Kasey and I were like little school girls giggling like crazy and screaming "This is f*cking awesome!" Then our instructors let us "see-saw" with each other and then we eventually parted.

At this point I'm pretty calm, I even let go and was just sort of hanging loose. Then Walt asks if I want to steer. At this point I'm getting pretty damn ballsy so I say "SURE!" I then continue with "You're not going to let go though, are you?"

And again, Walt thinks he's hilarious f*cking with the amateur and he goes "Well what do you mean? Like this?" and he lets go of the steering handles! I, of course, scream "WALT! NO! Are you insane?" Basically having a heart attack mid-air and he goes "It be a pretty dumb design if it stopped working if you let it go." And then I thought well, yes, but that doesn't mean I don't want to punch you in the face any less.

So I take the handles and start making turns left and right, going up and down, and then we tried a bunch of spirals which were freakin' nuts and amazing.

Then Walt drops the ball that I have to make sure I can lift my legs straight up for our landing. So he asks me to lift my legs and I can barely get them at a 20 degree angle. In my head I'm like "Shit, I'm not flexible enough for a smooth landing." Walt then tells me it's because I, I'll repeat that, I (would make that a bigger font if I could) have to adjust the straps. So I have to lift my leg and pull the strap down my thigh making things looser, aka, scarier.

Once I adjust both legs I feel like I'm going to fall out of the chute. Luckily I was only about 4,000 feet in the air. As we come in for our landing I ask Walt if we're going to slow down and he says, "I'm not really sure, most likely since it's not that windy, but possibly no. Okay, Lift your legs!" So as we're zooming into for a landing I lift my legs and we land. My feet hit the ground first which didn't feel too hot on my ankles, and then my ass hit, pretty hard. However, not as hard as this other kid Eric who was pretty sure Walt had a thing for him. We don't think Walt minded the hard ass-fall for that same reason.

So Walt and I get up, he unstraps me, gives me a hug, I tell him how much I love him and then I run over frantically shouted "That was f*cking awesome! Coolest thing I've ever done!" I, then, proceed to jump up and down actually jump on Kasey who is toothpick thin at this point. Not the best idea, but it's alright because she was freaking out just the same.

Walt asked me to sign his log book and I go, "Okay! Can I also write something?" And he said "Sure, if you have some room." So I sign: Lauren Catalano :) F*ckin Awesome. Walt was not pleased. I think he was expecting a thank you.

After we went, we had to wait for our massive group to go. And it was the same for everyone. Scared and awkward beforehand and then jumping and screaming like a moron afterward.

We then went to barbeque and have quite an enjoyable day of day-drinking, which we all know is the best kind. (Cava, I know what I said, but I had to drink after sky diving. It would have been a sin not to.)

Kasey and I then proceed to drive home to Down the Hatch and then we triumphantly ended the night at Tom and Jerry's in Brewster. All-in-all, best day of my life. Garrison, thank you a million times and more for the best present I've ever been given.

And now onto my second year of teaching...this should be interesting...

P.S. 8 Mile Tempo Run on Thursday...Who am I? B-Rabbit.

P.P.S. 9 mile run tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I don't understand...

I don't understand why there are days when you can feel like superwoman and run 9 miles and then, there are other days you struggle through two miles. Today, I ran...and that's not jog, that's not walk...that's RAN 9 miles. The average was 12 minutes and 13 seconds which is pretty damn good for me. I have to say, I did not know if I could even finish the 9 miles with walking included.

The running was relatively easy today. And it was outside with wind and rain. I also had my iPhone while it was raining so I was a little nervous. I brought my hand inside my t-shirt and it looked like I had only one arm. Several people passed me with that "Wow, I'm so impressed by that person who has it worse than I do." I let them think I had one arm.

Speaking of sappy stories of people who exercise and inspire millions, the Hartford Marathon Foundation asked me if I had a story. I mean everyone has a story, so I said yes. Apparently they weren't looking for my story.

After I received the initial email, I told Hartford Marathon Foundation about my blog and my apparently insignificant story, and this is what I got back:

Hi Lauren,

Thanks for sharing your story! I'll be in touch should any media be interested in speaking with you.

Good luck with the training!

Although, this woman who emailed me is very nice, I think she sees that no, there is no story here. At least no story that would send chills down someone's spine or make an overly-sensitive woman...or man...cry out of such inspiration. So I believe you will be my only media for the rest of this experience...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quarter-Swallowing, Toothpick-Stabbed 3rd Graders

So I've had a mental lapse in this whole half marathon thing. I've continued my training, but I'm definitely not as excited about it as I was before. Before, I was like I can conquer the world bitches! And now...not soooo much. I was discouraged on the treadmill the other day. I can run 8 miles on the treadmill on a 0.0 incline, no problem. Pretty bad least, that's what I thought.

After having a tough time on an outside run, I decided maybe I should change the incline to resemble an outside run. Welllll F that. That shit is so hard! It made me start freaking out about the 13 miles I need to run OUTSIDE. So yes, I've started to freak out just a little bit. Luckily for me, Chris LaCava is a very motivating person. We've facebook chatted about these anxieties and he has made me realize that everyone goes through this and I just need to refocus and train harder for the next 7 weeks, which is the plan.

(P.S. My blog is telling me that facebook is spelled wrong...what?! How has facebook not been added to the dictionary yet? I wonder what the definition would be? "A tool is in which most users spend about 53.5% of their waking minutes glued to the computer screen." or "A program where stalkers have many options available to stalk their prey." or "An instrument in which women may monitor their husband's technological flirting." There would just be so many options...anyone have any suggestions?)

So anyways, I have to get back on the hog with this training thing. Now, I have to get back on the hog whilst (I love that word) beginning my second year of teaching. Now my first year of teaching went pretty well, I mean, I was hired again for a second year. However, I did have some catastrophes which at this point are pretty amusing.

First, I had a student who swallowed a quarter under my supervision. My students were working pretty hard, minus one group...I came to find out. I'm walking around the classroom ensuring all students are learning when I hear: "OMG, I can't believe you did that!" I, of course, double take and make a B line toward their table.

I am curious to find out what this student did that the other students were in complete shock of. So I ask, and the student in question says "I swallowed a quarter." Now, I, praying to the heavens above, ask "You mean you swallowed a quarter a long time ago, right?"

And the student answers "Yes."

Sweet, I'm in the clear. I don't care that he swallowed a quarter when he was 2 and then his mom fished it out of his diaper.

......And then this student drops the bomb..."Well yeah, I swallowed a quarter a couple of years ago and I swallowed a quarter a couple minutes ago."

My response: "WHAT?! You swallowed a quarter WHILST in this classroom?!"

His response: "Yeah, there's nothing wrong with it. I've done it before and nothing happened. Annnnnnd, I just won a bet."

Great. Thank you student. I now have to tell the principal and nurse why you swallowed a quarter under my watch.

The policy is that students may not come back to school until the object has "passed." Meaning, yes, the mother will have to search through his poo every day until she finds the prize at the bottom of the cereal box.

The student was out for an entire week missing his first CMT. Bravo Lauren, Bravo.

Another incident. As a third grade teacher, I teach a math unit on 3D shapes. To help students wrap their minds around the difference of 2D shapes and 3D shapes, we made 3D shapes using toothpicks and marshmallows. The students had a great time and the lesson went well because the objective was met. My mentor teacher, who has been doing this project for 20-something years, told me that students may take home one shape to show their parents and explain what it is.

Of course, the project having marshmallows in it, the students are dying to eat marshmallows. So I give them each a huge handful of marshmallows at the end of the lesson. I tell them, "DO NOT EAT THE MARSHMALLOWS FROM YOUR PROJECT! YOUR DISGUSTING, LITTLE HANDS-maybe I didn't say disgusting-HAVE BEEN HANDLING THEM FOR AN HOUR AND THEY ARE NOT SAFE ENOUGH TO EAT."

So the day ends and I send them off with their projects. About 10 minutes after the last bus has left, someone comes running into my room telling me one of my students is in the nurse's office and it seems pretty serious. My first thought, "Oh shit, what happened?" Then the messenger told me it was this girl in my class who is one of the smartest children I've ever met. She started the Harry Potter series in April and was finishing the 5th book by the end of the school year. When I was told it was her, I was safe. This child would not be dumb enough to completely disregard her teacher's instructions and eat a marshmallow, therefore exposing a toothpick. SO I go to the nurse thinking maybe she tripped and skinned her knee or maybe she threw up.

Wellllll, I guess children will be children, smart or not.

This child put her project down on the bus seat, ate a marshmallow, and then stood up. Her project was a cube, so there was a toothpick sticking straight in the air, sort of resembling something out of Saw 57. (How many of those movies at this point?) As this student sat back down (You know how children sit so gracefully...HA.) she slams down onto the toothpick. And when I say slam, I mean SLAM. There is no other way she could have sat because of how far this toothpick was jammed into this poor child's leg.

The nurse and I could only see half of the toothpick, which means about an inch of cheap, spiky wood was lodged into this girl's leg. It was so far in, it punctured a muscle.

So, as a result of my actions, a student has a toothpick spear sticking out of her leg. I thought I was gonna get it when the dad came in. I put my game face on and was ready for the screaming and yelling that was about to occur.

Out of sheer luck, this kid's dad (who I've never met) is freaking awesome and laughed and asked the child why she ate the marshmallow. HA! Yes, always blame the child!

First year teacher is in the clear....

These were two big misfortunes of my first year. We'll see what happens this year. I'll probably need my half marathon training to take my mind off of quarter-swallowing, toothpick-stabbed children.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I promised I wouldn't lie....

Shit....I promised I wouldn't lie, so I can't. This is public as motivation for me to keep going to finish this half marathon.

I got back from a cruise yesterday. Now, this cruise was probably my 10th or 11th cruise. You could say I'm quite experienced when it comes to cruising. I know my stuff. I went on the Holland America Veendam, which might possibly be the absolute worst cruise ship currently sailing the seas. Now, I don't want to complain because I just went on a vacation. I definitely relaxed and had a few (x10) good laughs along the way. However, I will never again take a cruise on the Holland America line. Just to give you a peek at the complaints:

-I found a used loofah sponge in my shower.
-I found an old man's pair of blimp-sized tighty-whitey's in my drawer.
-There was rust all over the ship.
-There was absolutely nothing planned for passengers to do, minus the Lido deck golf tee competition that ended in a woman gushing blood from her head. (Smart idea idea.)

Now this is just a glimpse and I'm sure it doesn't seem that bad, but my mother had a list going of about 25 by the second day of the vacation.

So, it might have been the worst cruise ship, however, we made the best of it. I just finished a week (that's a full seven days) of drinking and eating. I know everyone says this after they come back from vacation, but honestly...all day and all night, drinking and eating. It was actually pretty ridiculous. Every single night, we ordered room service, and every single morning we ordered room service BEFORE going to breakfast on the Lido deck. Absolutely sickening.

Kristen Greene (who came with me) and I tried to work out....once. We were sailing at this point. Let me just tell you, running on a treadmill on a moving boat just plain sucks. You are literally holding on for dear life because every twenty seconds you're being thrown to one side of the treadmill which completely throws off your balance. Kristen was beyond frustrated and freaked out. She got off the treadmill at about 1.25 miles and went down to shower. I finished my run, which was luckily only 2 miles.

Now after that experience, you would think we would never work out again on the ship. Well you're right...we didn't. (Even though the ship was docked for 3 days and we would have been just fine....I told you, I wouldn't lie to you.)

I'm not quite sure what was going through our minds, but we were determined to work out every day. Half of my suitcase was filled with work out clothes, and every morning I'd say: "This will be the day I start working out on vacation." And you know what happened every day...? I got drunk before I could work out.

There was nothing else to do on the ship! We'd be so bored, that we wouldn't know what to do, so we'd just go see Wang Wang. Wang Wang was our bartender, and no, his name is not Wang Wang. His name is actually Emerson and he's the shit. I think the reason we liked him so much is because within the first hour of our vacation he suggested we drink either a "BBC" or a "WANG WANG." I mean, how could you not love a guy like that?! After about 3 days of us Americans laughing at BBC, he finally asked why we were laughing. When we told him what it means "on the streets" he said he would never again suggest a BBC to an American.

Alright, so you caught me. I only worked out once in an entire seven days. I didn't think this would be a huge deal, but you guessed was a huge deal. I just went to downtown Bethel and tried to run 8 miles. Try is the key word there because I, in fact, could not run 8 miles. I could not run more than 3 miles. At 3 miles, I was toast.

I'm not sure of the reason. There are three possibilities I was thinking about as I was basically dieing on the road:

1. I ate and drank my face off for a week.
2. I didn't work out at all during that week.
3. I ran on the road instead of on the treadmill which is indeed easier.

I've come to the conclusion, that it is a mixture of all three of these reasons. So I was pissed. I was really, really pissed at myself. So you may disappointed with me, but I am more disappointed. I guess I have to work myself up back to 8 miles. I will be running every day this week, so I'll keep you posted about what happens.

On a funnier note completely unrelated to running:

If you've ever played the game Catch Phrase, you know how unbelievably fun it is. It is a word game in which you have to get your team to guess the word that only you can see. To hear what people say can be pretty hilarious.

For example: I was visiting Brother in California a couple of years ago. We were playing this game and the word he was trying to make people guess was "Big Bird." Now, instead of saying a large, yellow, fluffy flying thing on Sesame Street, Jeff starts with "Okay 2 words, the first word...Tom Hanks was in this movie!" So I start yelling "Forrest Gump...Cast Away...You've Got Mail...Turner and Hooch!" Then the buzzer goes off. When Jeff told me his word was "Big Bird" I was on the flooring rolling. He went the most roundabout way to try to get me to guess the word big! He could've even said "opposite of little!"

So that is an example of how funny the game can be. (Which may not be too funny, this whole thing might be a "You had to be there" kind of thing, but oh well, I think it's hilarious.) We played on the cruise, and I never thought I would laugh at something said after the game.

Jeremy, Scott, Kristen, and I were playing. We were all doing pretty good, but there were some words the game was showing and we didn't know what or who they were. So we would always talk after each round and laugh about the words chosen and how we would choose to explain them.

The best, however, was when Jer said "Some of the words are just so ridiculous! Honestly, though...who is Pickle Spears?"

Take it in....

Yes, he asked who is Pickle Spears! I was literally hysterical for about 5 minutes, until I could catch my breath and I said "No, no, an actual pickle." Then everyone started laughing, and then Kristen says "Ohhh...but...who would put a pickle on a stick??" Again...I was hysterical. It was the funniest round of Catch Phrase I've ever played.

Alright, sorry for the long post, but I figured since you haven't seen me for a week, it'd be alright.