One more day to go, and then we're onto spring break. My days are filling up fast - D just e-mailed me with my work schedule for this weekend, and it is insane. I have a total of 18 hours spread over 3 shifts, and one of them begins, yes, begins at two in the morning (and runs until 10). I think that's the run on which I have to pick up a van full of UF professors who are flying out of Jacksonville. Hope they tip. :)
I only have one class tomorrow - Language and Culture - which means I have nothing to do until 12:50. I'm thinking I may ride my bike to Target and spend the last $27 on my birthday gift card. Maybe I can find a bikini top that fits for a change. Also, I need some good face stuff, because this chlorine is wreaking havoc with my skin no matter how often I moisturize.
We canceled swim practice tomorrow night because so many people are going home a day early, which means I'll swim with Masters tomorrow and then B (an old high school friend) is turning 21, so I'll head over to his party. My best friend from high school is coming down from Georgia Tech just to be there - the two of them have always been close - so I'll get to see her, too, which is really exciting. Actually, that's the main reason I'm even going - I have to figure out whether I'm going to drive back to Jacksonville really early in the morning to start my 9:30 shift at work, or if I'm going to not drink at the party and drive back late tomorrow night. I'll see how tired I am after swimming tomorrow.
I got the Green Sheet of Death signed by all the appropriate people and turned in today, which is a load off my mind. And I was also made aware of a new option for my classes over there - University College. Universiteit Utrecht doesn't really have a 'campus' - students live in flats and houses all over the city, and the classroom buildings are interspersed with normal houses and offices - but University College is actually a (small) campus; there are lots of international students as well as Dutch students, and they live in dorm-style housing and have a cafeteria, sports facilities, etc. The only downside is that you are required to live on campus, and they want about 3200 euro for one semester. That includes all meals, which is kind of nice, and it's nice to have everything so compact in one area, but I'm still not sure it's worth it. Assuming my letter works and I don't get shafted in terms of housing again, I can live a lot more cheaply in a 'normal' student house, where I'd probably pay about 250 euro a month (so 1000 total) plus around 500 for food. Anyway, I just sent out an e-mail to everyone I know in Utrecht and asked them their opinion of University College and asked them to keep their eyes open for free rooms (sometimes rooms come free for a semester if people go abroad, etc.), so we'll see what happens. I've also e-mailed a swim team over there (found it through the sports center) and they said they'd love to have me - three 1.5-hour practices a week minimum - so I'll be able to keep that up, too.
Okay, I think I've done all I can do for one night. Time to curl up in bed with Angels and Demons (the prequel to The Da Vinci Code). Rereading, if you wait long enough, is almost as good as reading something for the first time.
During the nine-hour drive back from New Orleans (plus an hour with the time change - am I the only person who didn't know that Florida lies in two different time zones?), I got a call from Dad. "Wanna go to the Jimmy Buffett concert tomorrow night?" My response was something like, "Wow, short notice, but, uh, YES!" So we went, last night - my first time in the new Jacksonville Arena - and it was really a wonderful show. All ages were present, from teenagers to senior citizens, and everyone was tailgating and drinking margaritas and blasting music and wearing wild, colorful clothes, wacky hats, and lots of beads and accessories. Once we got inside, it turned out that the concert had also provided about a hundred beach balls, of all different sizes and colors, and they were bouncing around the stands the whole time. It was colorful and exciting (actually felt more like New Orleans than New Orleans had!). And Jimmy put on a great show - he was one hundred percent 'real', no lip-synching or backup tracks for him. He just stood up there in his T-shirt and bare feet, like a beach bum that someone handed a microphone to, and sang all his hits, and it was just so cool! My favorite part was when he sang 'Fins' - there was a huge remote-controlled inflatable shark flying around the arena and everyone was making fins on top of their heads with their hands and yelling, "Fins to the left, fins to the right..." and dancing. I wouldn't call it the best concert I've ever seen - Shania Twain has to keep that honor, since I got onstage - but it was definitely memorable. I got a shirt. :)
Swimming felt so good today! Especially this morning. The O'Connell Center pool was chilled down for SECs - I'm not sure how cold it is, but it's colder than normal - and it's so much nicer to swim in! The jumping-in part sucks, yeah, and the first fifty yards or so is pretty cold, but then you feel this rush of hot blood go through you and you warm up and it feels great. I didn't want to get out this morning - it didn't feel like we'd worked at all! Granted, we only swam about 1200 then because we had to take time to go over the midterms, but still. Tonight at practice we did 3800, so the day's total is 5k. Not bad.
Why do things always seem to go in 'waves'? Either I have almost nothing to do or I don't have a free minute. My current 'stressor' is my Academic Advising form for Utrecht (a.k.a. the Green Sheet of Death). The Utrecht course catalog isn't out yet, but I have to turn in the sheet by Friday, so I have to basically invent some courses to put on the sheet for 'formal' purposes and then e-mail my advisor later on with what I really end up taking. Seems a bit useless in my case, but whatever. Anyhow, other obligations include getting information on the GRE, buying new shoes and a new bathing suit, paying rent, getting a new driver's license, visiting my grandparents, finding sources for and writing a seven-page paper, doing laundry, and who knows how many other things I'm forgetting.
But: only three days until spring break! That's good news, even though I'm not doing anything really exciting - just going home to J-ville and working a lot. (Note to self: pack uniform!) But it'll be nice to have a break (and it'll definitely be nice to make some money!). I don't think any of my high school friends' breaks sync up with mine, which is too bad. Then again, I couldn't get in touch with my friend from UCF - she appears to have changed her e-mail address and forgotten to tell me - so maybe she'll be home too. We shall see.
One last thing: I took a three hour nap this afternoon, and it was wonderful.
Anyhoo, off to finish my book and study for a midterm. Ciao!
This is the whole team at Tulane, right after we finished the meet. I'm front and center, my friend L is next to me with the orange goggles, and the team captain, A, is behind me. (Don't ask me what the guys on the left were doing - I haven't got a clue.)
This is my relay team (for the 'corkscrew relay', of all things, something Tulane made up for Mardi Gras). This was right before we swam in finals. I'm third from the left. No idea why L is cutting her eyes at me that way...
Well, we're back! That was a lot of time to spend in a car, but we had a lot of fun - the girls got 3rd place overall (out of 10) and every single team member made finals in at least one event. So we made a pretty good first showing and had a great time to boot. My personal times weren't all that great - 34.9 for the 50 free and 2:54 for the 200 free - but I know that I'm capable of better than that. I wasn't warmed up well before I swam the 200 and so ended up dropping back into a more manageable pace (it was either that or quit in the middle), plus I was pretty nervous. But I did consistently a little bit better with each event (I swam five), so now I know that I'm just one of those people who needs a really long warm-up. And it was great to watch some of the others do so well - one of the boys broke a pool record and one of the girls made finals in six different events! I stand by the fact that I don't like the whole 'time' concept, but it's a really fun atmosphere to be in nonetheless. Last night after the meet wasn't so much fun - we were trying to get Louisiana-style food and ended up getting a late start, getting lost, walking a really, really long way in the freezing cold, and then not being able to find a restaurant which would take 14 people at midnight (when most things closed). So a lot of us ended up griping and sniping at each other. Anyway, we split up - seven of us went to this restaurant on Decatur called Angeli's (the others went to Bourbon Street) and had AWESOME food. I could have lived on that pasta salad! Then three of us (me included) went back to the hotel (and fell asleep within seconds), while the others stayed out until four or so. Then we drove back this morning, and the rest is history.
Now it's time to go take a shower, cram for tomorrow's exam, and SLEEP. For a very long time.
Update: R's 2003 record in the 400 medley relay just got broken during SEC finals tonight... and she's pissed. She and the other three girls in that relay have their names up on the big record board in the O-Dome, next to their time (3:35:87) - but tonight it got broken; the new time is 3:35:22. Ah, well, at least it was the Gators who broke it and not some other team... but then, if it had been another team, the 2003 Gators' names would stay up.
Still, that exemplifies everything I hate about this sport - the whole 'fighting-over-tenths-of-a-second' concept I keep mentioning. I swim on a team because I like it, but also because it's a means to an end - if I want to swim marathons, and eventually the Channel, I need regular training and workouts, and the easiest way to get that is to join a team. But being on a team means you also have to be able to sprint and race and compete against the clock, and I have just never liked that whole concept. A few inches too deep at the start, a fraction of a second too slow on a flip turn, and you're out of it. Is 0.65 of a second (the time by which they broke the record) really enough to prove one group irreversibly better than another? To take their names off the record board, never to be seen by future Gators, and let their hours of blood, sweat, and tears be replaced in the click of a watch? I understand the reasoning, but I still think it's unfair, and I wonder how many records came before theirs - times I never saw, records about which people said the same things I'm saying now, swimmers who are now essentially forgotten, however amazing they were at the time.
Okay, waxing eloquent - time to get ready for bed.
Tapering rocks... we only swam 2000 yards today; it was over so fast!...
Well, tomorrow's the big day - we leave for Tulane at six in the evening. I'm swimming two freestyle relays (a leg of the 200 and a leg of the 400), a 50 free, and a 200 free, which I'm kind of worried about. Those of you who've been reading for a while will remember that I swam a 200-yard swim test in 3:06 in January while I wasn't even trying hard, so in theory I should be able to get a (by my standards) decent time... and the Tulane pool is short course (25 yards) like in the O-Dome, so it should be fine. Plus I have my new (GORGEOUS!) competition suit, which fits a lot tighter (the one I had on today was noticeably slowing me down, it was that big) but we haven't been able to practice in the O-Dome all week and so I'm freaking out a little, because, as I've mentioned, times in the Florida Pool suck beyond belief. I'm not sure if it's the temperature, the currents caused by the vents, the wide, wave-ridden lanes, the wind, or what. Anyway, it's not that big a deal - this is actually the team's first official meet, so nobody expects us to charge in there and blow everyone else out of the water (pun intended) or anything, but I just really want to do well. My goals are: under 2:45 for the 200 free and under :34 for the 50 free. I don't really care about the relays. Anyway, we shall see. And if I suck, well, we're going out on Saturday night, so we can erase all the bad memories. ;)
What with all the money I've had to give out for this ($57 for the suit, $25 for registration/van rental/gas, then who knows how much for food and clubbing) plus the registration for Swim Around Key West ($65), I've been getting kind of worried about the state of my bank account... but I remembered today (while on the toilet, of all places) that I haven't been paid for Super Bowl weekend yet! So - no worries! Gotta love that unexpected money you didn't know you had coming...
Hanna and her posse are arranging a barbecue tonight, which is awesome, because I've been craving a cheeseburger all day. I resisted the ones in Little Express (where I get my smoothies, muffins, and gummy worms :)) this morning, but couldn't quite get the thought out of my mind... then came home to a hot-pink sticky note on my door inviting me to a barbecue, so that was great timing. :) I can eat basically anything I want until Saturday (go, carbo-loading!) so I plan to enjoy it!
Not so much other news... just that I have a million things to do... research the GRE, buy new shoes, get a new driver's license (with no annoying 'under 21' bar!), figure out which other swims I'm doing this summer and pay the fees for them, finish a paper that L assigned us at the last minute as a cop-out (she didn't feel like teaching, so gave us a two-page paper), study and write down note pages for my Language and Culture test on Monday, try to translate a few lines of the 'Sower and the Seed' parable from Old English, do my academic advising form for Utrecht... the list goes on.
Ahh - another Thursday behind me. It really feels like Friday, probably because neither R nor I had to be at the pool tonight, so all four of us were home for dinner. They're holding SEC Swimming and Diving Championships at the O'Connell Center for the next two weeks, so no one is allowed to swim there except the athletes in the competition. That means that R doesn't have to coach Masters and Club Alligator can't meet at the normal time. Which sort of sucks in a way, because now we have to swim at the Florida Pool, and that's a 'slow' pool (they keep it at 84 degrees, and that's really too warm to do any sort of timed workout), but it means I don't have to go anywhere in the evenings, woohoo!
Anyhow, not much has happened this week except for testing. I had two tests on Tuesday, math and English and its Relatives. The math test was all right; I got a B, which I'm pretty pleased with, considering the class average was a 68. I came away from English and its Relatives feeling like I'd done pretty horribly - it was a short-answer test, the worst kind, and I had to totally fabricate a couple of answers (go, IB training!), plus there was an unexpected section - Gothic translation. (Gothic is the first attested Germanic language... before Old English showed up.) We'd been told that we would need to be able to translate Gothic from a literal gloss - meaning the teachers would take a Gothic sentence and write each pronoun, case, person, inflection, etc. in the exact order Gothic used, and we would have to make some sort of coherent English sentence out of it. However, on the test there was a ten-point section in which we were told to read and translate actual Gothic - which is a really weird, cryptic, non-Roman alphabet which (among other things) uses no spaces and uses letters to represent numbers. But the teachers made some adjustments, and I got three points of extra credit, and one of my fabricated answers turned out to be right on the money (again: yay, IB training!), so I ended up doing well. The teacher handed me the paper - face down, folded in half - and I muttered, "Ugh, I don't think I want to see this..." then flipped it over, expecting to see something in the seventies or even the high sixties, and saw a big circled 90! "Oh - yes I do!" I exclaimed, getting a laugh from my seatmates.
Anyway, it was nice to see an A on something again. My Language and Dialect test last week was pretty awful - not only because it was given the day after my 21st birthday (read: not much studying got done!) but because it was short-answer and really, really nitpicky. That's the only teacher whose lectures I've ever considered taping, simply because ANYTHING she says is apparently fair game for a question. (And now that everyone has realized that, she gets asked to repeat everything, like, three times... LOL!) Language and Culture, given on the same day, was slightly better, a B, but still not as good as I'd expected - it was mostly stuff I'd learned in lower-level linguistics classes. So I was getting kind of discouraged. But I must not be doing too terribly, because I got an e-mail yesterday congratulating me on my 'outstanding academic achievement at the University of Florida' and saying that I was being invited to join the Golden Key International Honor Society. That'll look nice on a résumé. :)
Anyway, I'm heading home this weekend - I've got a hair appointment and an eye appointment tomorrow afternoon, and on Saturday I have to work from 5:45 (yes, in the morning!) till 12, and then on Sunday I'm 'kidnapping' my sister in honor of her 18th birthday and we're going to go basically have a play day - Starbucks, Old Navy, rock climbing, American Eagle, ice skating, the movies, Mellow Mushroom, whatever she wants. Should be fun!
Eight days until we leave for Tulane. I'm actually kinda glad I don't swim tomorrow - no class Friday mornings, and since I have those two appointments, I can't make the afternoon practice either. That means I have the whole weekend free, which is good. I'm feeling kind of burned out, and so is L, another swimmer on the team who's going to the meet. We both think that if we just have a few days' rest we'll be fine, and we're of course all going to taper before the meet - a normal 4000-yard workout on Monday, then 3000 on Tuesday, then 2000, and then just 1000 the day before we leave. So we should be decently rested.
The only thing I'm worried about is these darn SECs, because it means that my swimming classes can't meet, either. A, the teacher on Tuesdays and Thursdays, was kind enough to reschedule the midterm for one of the days, to cancel class on another, and to move us to the Florida Pool on a third, but L, who teaches Mondays and Wednesdays, has had the stroke of brilliance that we should do stadiums instead. (For those who don't know, that's running up and down all the sets of stairs in the football stadium - which is even bigger than Alltel, where the Super Bowl was just held.) Normally, I wouldn't mind - I'd even like it - but I know that my legs get really sore the day after I do stadiums, sometimes to the point of not being able to kick during swimming - which would obviously be a problem. I think we're doing more abdominal work, etc. than actual stadiums, but otherwise I'll have to tell her I'm trying to taper and really can't do all that. She's a swimmer, she'll understand.
And because it's me, she should be okay with it. She and R are friends, but neither of them gets along well with A (swimming drama...), and she knows I have a class with A too, so I think she's been trying to 'sound me out' and see 'where my loyalties lie'. But after class yesterday, she definitely knows whose side I'm on - and it ain't A's. :) (A's nice and all, but it's that 'pheromone' thing again - I'm just not really comfortable with her.) But anyway, I had sent L an e-mail with a couple of questions about distance training, and she forwarded them to a guy whom she said had done a lot of swim marathons and could probably give me some good advice. Then, in class yesterday, she asked if he had e-mailed me back yet. I said no, and she said she could press him about it if I wanted her to, "but he's not really my favorite person..." The way she said it tipped me off that this was the 'player' R had been telling me about for so long, so I grinned and said, "Then I think I already know who it is, and you don't have to deal with him again on my account!" When we were done stretching, I asked her, "So, is this the guy that A's currently dating?" She said yes, and I said, "Oh yeah, then I definitely know who he is." (He's a former UF swimmer, and is constantly hanging around the pool.)
Raising her eyebrows, she asked, "What-all did R tell you?"
"Uh - that she dated him for six weeks, that you dated him for a year and a half, and that now A is with him and thinks she owns the whole O'Connell Center."
There was a beat of silence, and then L dissolved in laughter and couldn't speak for about five minutes. "Perfect!" she choked out. "Couldn't have said it better!"
Anyway, so we're on pretty good terms now - I'm sure we can work something out with this stadiums business.
Other news... R just got a call from N, this guy she met at a bonfire a couple of weeks ago and has been telling us about ever since (sometimes in a bit more detail than necessary), and now she's all excited because they're going out to Market Street. So I'm going to go listen to her recount all the details of the phone call - because R does not often get giggly. :)
(Note to self: expect male presence in apartment tomorrow morning...)
So, today was my first day of 'real' work at Runways. And it was actually pretty enjoyable, although I hadn't expected it to be.
When I got there around 16:00 this afternoon, D (the boss) informed me that we'd scrapped both the normal routes (G-ville and the beaches) for the Super Bowl and so were basically running like taxis, taking people wherever they needed to go - which, in 95% of the cases, was downtown. I panicked a bit at first - I don't even like driving downtown in a normal car, let alone a 22-foot van - it's full of one-way streets, poorly marked areas, and weird lane run-outs. I hadn't expected to like the job much in the first place, and this was really pushing the limits.
But I went along with it - M (a co-worker) drove a couple of people downtown and took me along so I could familiarize myself with the route a little. I'm not sure this really benefited me, because (to add to the normal confusion) the police were barricading road after road as the night wore on, so I had to basically throw the original plan out the window and just thread my way around and hope I got lucky. Sometimes I did - I was able to let 4 half-drunk guys a little older than me off right in front of the Landing, and got a $10 tip - and sometimes I didn't - a barricade was positioned in the wrong place and I ended up having to back the enormous van down a teeny street and turn myself around. And the traffic, needless to say, was HORRIBLE. I sat on Forsyth (a one-way street running east along the river) for literally an hour at one point, creeping along, trying to get to a pick-up point.
But anyway, I ended up really liking the job. Now that I've had the chance to sort of 'explore' the van on my own, I'm much more comfortable driving it than I was during the training. And I've discovered that I'm really good at engaging people and getting them to talk - I heard some good stories, met some neat people (two CBS employees from L.A., an ex-NFL player, etc.), laughed a lot, and got $28 worth of tips to boot. The only part I don't care for is the vehicle maintenance (the pre- and post-trip sheets we have to fill out, cleaning the vans inside and out and checking all the fluids and details). I know they're necessary, and I'm not saying we shouldn't have to do it, but it's really not much fun. That and the preppy uniforms - black pants, black vest, and pinstriped shirt. Ah, well, can't have everything. At least I whined until D said I could wear my own black pants instead of the ill-fitting company-issued ones. A vast improvement!
But it's funny to think how my opinion of it changed so much in such a short time. R called me while sitting in her car at the O'Connell Center after the swim meet (I watched the first hour, then had to leave; she stayed for the whole shebang plus did some massaging afterward, and so was just leaving as I was already starting work) while M was driving and I was watching, and sympathized with me while I sighed and complained. (Her advice: "Ohhh, you're going to be driving a lot of drunk people. Take some plastic bags for them to puke in!") But then once I got to take the van out on my own - no matter how nervous I had been - I suddenly started having fun. And this was the 'trial by fire' - because if I can make it through downtown Super Bowl traffic, I can make it through anything!
Anyway, I left there at 2:30; it's now 3:40 and I'm killing time by writing this while my laundry runs. I'm not going to have time to do laundry tomorrow because I have to work again (12:00 - 18:00) so I figure I'll get it out of the way now while I'm still awake. Once I get it into the dryer, I'll go to bed, and just take it all out in the morning.
I'm dead tired and don't have anything specific to say, but I haven't posted in a while, so here we go.
Jacksonville has gone Super Bowl Crazy (said with the same inflection as 'Wal-Mart Crazy'). Everything is spruced up and nice, there are traffic signs along all the roads directing people to the cruise ships (they brought cruise ships in and parked them along the St. Johns to serve as extra hotels; that's how the city got the bid), and there are a TON of out-of-state drivers. All the Jacksonvillians know where you can speed and where you can't, where lanes shift and/or disappear, etc., but the out-of-towners don't and so they cause a lot of slowdowns. They did yesterday, at least - it seemed like every time I had to blow past someone, the license plate was Maine or Virginia or something random. But after a lot of rushing around, I got my teeth fixed and got my chauffeur's license. That was pretty much my entire yesterday, besides classes and morning swimming.
Speaking of swimming, crazy A (team president) has signed me up for like FIVE events in the meet - two relays (which are fun), a 200 free (scary!), a 50 'Mardi Gras' (nobody knows what in the world it is, but we decided it sounded fun - the meet is in New Orleans), and, quote, 'and there's something else too, I think, but I can't remember it right now.' Nice. LOL. Just don't expect miracles with that 200 free. I'll be happy with just cracking 3 minutes. Wish we had a little longer to prepare. Oh, well, at least our team suits (navy blue with 2 orange alligators) should get here in time. Can't wait for that - my normal suit (which is actually new and a size smaller than I've had in the past) feels absolutely enormous now that I've worn a 32.
Only one more day of work. I was so happy to see J for the last time today - that's this little boy who has (a) the pickiest mother on earth, (b) big loud lungs, and (c) too much body fat - he's barely six months old and he weighs TWENTY-THREE POUNDS. (His brother, who is almost 3, weighs 32 pounds.) Tell me that's not ridiculous! Anyway, his mom is pulling him out (told you she was picky!) and so today was the last day I saw him. Goodbye and good riddance. I will miss my two Ms, though - tiny red-haired M who never cries, and nine-month-old M with enough personality for ten babies. I can't wait till she starts talking - brace yourselves.
Anyway, I have been exhausted this whole week - I haven't gotten enough sleep, due to various things (J-ville trips, exams, and, yeah, the computer) and it's taking its toll. Plus my body is falling apart - not only do I have this stupid knee to contend with, but my glutes are sore for unknown reasons (kicking? biking?) plus I smacked my right hand against the lane rope while sharing a lane during butterfly and it's now bruised and looks like it belongs to a battered housewife. Ah, well, them's the breaks. And the knee is getting better - they gave me a neoprene sleeve (which I also wear while swimming) and although I know its benefit is really more mental than anything - to serve as a 'reminder' of sorts not to hyperextend - it does seem to be helping.