Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Last Day of My 20s

It’s 8 pm, the sky is black, and I just finished a Skype call with my family, whose laughing faces were illuminated by lazy Sunday brunch sunshine. I’m an ocean away, in the bedroom of our little apartment. Two doors away, in the living room, I hear the rustling of gift wrap. I am banned from that room for the night: Jeff is preparing a birthday surprise.  Tomorrow, as previously feared, I will be 30. From the vault of my ridiculous and unfounded worries: I will wake up covered in menopause, with a sudden penchant for raisin scones and trousers that button up just at tit level. Tomorrow is the first day of a new decade, and for the first time in my life, I feel like age means something. I mean, I’m not even sure what’ll happen when the gods above see my un-finished 30 before 30 list, but now I’ve also gotta explain (to someone?) why I don’t want kids or a mortgage (…yet.) 
I'm lucky that my friends are all relatively the same age, and we're all making this leap into this new decade, one by one, like popcorn kernels. Everyone else seems to be doing fine, no one woke up looking like Jann Arden, and it really is just another day. Meanwhile, in Ireland, because moving to another country wasn't enough change, I decided to round up my favourite memories from this decade, to hopefully stop my ears from ringing with the fear that I'm going to be Ye Aulde with nothing to show for it. 

Jann Arden isn't old and there is nothing wrong with her, not that there is anything wrong with being old anyway

2006 would be the year that I turned 20. It was also the year of Taking Back Sunday's album Louder Now, a living soundtrack for my post-teen angst, and a very compelling argument for why oh my god you just don't get it, mom. Remember how cool studded belts were? That said, I'll never forget just how much we felt back then. Every heartbreak, every Saturday night, everything was for the first time and so, so loud. 

At 21, I had my first party. It was at the Minto hotel in Ottawa, and I bought 10 bottles of Absolut vodka. My best friend and I both had platinum blonde hair. There was a group pillow fight. We were young and wild.

I found this picture in my Fall 2008 collection, which would mean I was 22 and in university. This kind of autumn is how I always remember my early twenties. The Postal Service on my iPod shuffle, a Tim's chai tea (2 milk, 1 sugar), my class notes, and the orange leaves brushing past the windows of the bus, on the way to campus. It was the realest romance. Well, not this picture in particular, because here I'm just trying to not cry after hurting my hands hanging off a tree branch in an effort to seem whimsical a-la Meg Ryan.   

At 23, I lived and breathed Lady Gaga. Naturally, I spent a month making this halloween costume, constructing a 3D crystal formation out of cardboard and CDs cut up into tiny disco-ball squares. At the club, I was booed offstage immediately: it was a Sexiest Costume competition and the winner was a Sexy Call Centre Agent. I remember striking pose after pose amidst the booing, determined to show off my crafty ensemble regardless of the heckling. If you've ever done that, you'll know it takes an almost inhuman amount of guts. Was a banana thrown in my general direction? My memory is a bit hazy now, but never mind that - on my way out, I was stopped by a drag-queen asking to buy my costume for a show. Baby, I was born this way.

24 marked my official audacity as a full blown hipster. After a brief stint in Brooklyn's Williamsburg, I was no longer a part of the 'normal' world. I emailed The New Yorker with article pitches, wore ironic second-hand sweaters covered in black donuts, told my government job boss that a budgetary proposition was "masturbatory", read spoken word at open mic nights, attended community events dressed like a colonial woman on acid, 'composed' 'music' on my MIDI keyboard (shoutout Cubase and Fruity Loops), and landed a freelance job writing for a fashion studio. I was vegan, I was into Jodorowsky, and my most prized possession was a pair of old mens' sunglasses. No regrets - I don't think I'll ever be that cool again.

In 2011, I was 25 and had this Christmas dinner with my favourite girlfriends. It was in the first apartment I ever lived in on my own, and it remains my favourite place in the world. At night, you could see the snow falling from each of the corner windows, and it felt like you were in a snow globe. The apartment had old wooden floors and a faux fireplace with a mirror built in. That year, as a very influential and important relationship ended, I found the pieces of the new me, and this little dinner party was the first time I felt like myself again.

When I was 26, I went a month eating just raw food. I've always loved trying different lifestyles, and didn't think it would be too difficult since I had gone years being vegan. That January, I learned what it was like not having a life. I was always cold, I was always hungry, a co-worker said she didn't want to be around me since I couldn't eat anything anyway, and a dude told me I smelled too much like vegetables. I was dehydrating zucchini around the clock, and my idea of dessert was a hot shower. To this day, the thought of "agave-avocado" anything makes me shudder..

A lot happened in 2013, between photography classes and discovering our city's new gourmet street food trend, and festivals, and new friends...but one of the funniest memories is the time we went to New York, just my mom, my sister, and I. We had donuts, and window-shopped, and my mom asked the man at the Gucci store if he had change for the bus, and then fake-argued with a wax Samuel L.Jackson, and then rejected an Abercrombie & Fitch model. Sometimes, the best part of something is knowing how much it means to someone else.

One of my happiest memories in recent years is this one Sunday afternoon. There wasn't anything exciting going on, I was 28 and it was a very ordinary spring day. I had come back from a long run, exhausted, and had picked up a loaf of fresh sourdough bread from my favourite bakery, Bread & Sons. My feet were killing in that awesome way that makes you feel like it's totally fine to nosedive into a ball-pit of cheeseburgers, and I showered and changed into a big fluffy robe. The sun was shining through my bedroom windows as I made a couple of cheesy toasties and lay back on my bed watching This is 40. I think I'll remember that moment forever. It was just me, alone, and it was perfect.

And, of course, it just wouldn't be me if I didn't say that my favourite memory from my last year of my twenties was running the marathon. Up until a few years ago, thoughts of the marathon were right up there with Chris Hadfield and the planet Mercury. It just wasn't part of anything I considered doable or even real. And then, one day, I ran it. And it was incredible. That year, I also went to Ireland and umm like totally changed my life and stuff, but that's a memory I'd like to unfold in my thirties, and I'm not there yet, so for now here's a photo of me at 500 metres to the finish line!

It is now 11 pm and I will be thirty in an hour. I'm in Dublin, drinking a glass of wine I bought with the Euros I made from my new job. My blog URL now ends with .ie and I haven't heard the Canadian accent in months. In all of the silly years above, I never could've predicted this is where I'd be, and yet, here I am. It's easy to get caught up in what you haven't yet done, or what you think you're supposed to do, and as I slowly turn into Reba McEntire in this last hour of my youth, I'm certainly caught up in the stark realisation that I am an unmarried woman without child or car payments. 

But this is where I am, regardless, and if the next ten years are as kaleidoscopic as the past ten have been, then I don't want anything to change. "Want to do something silly for your last hour?" Jeff asks, taking a break from what sounds like either smoking a crack pipe or blowing up balloons in the other room. "We can do knick knacks! It's when you knock on a door and run away," he explains. On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, I'll wake up tomorrow and still be me. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

8 Before 30

I love lists. To-do lists, to-buy lists, to-read lists, you name it, I’ve made a list for it.  In my desk, there is currently a growing list of food I want to eat in the near future, because I can’t think clearly when I’m thrashing violently Emily Rose style, seized by the satanic hands of Father Hunger. In my purse is a list of songs to sing in my head when I’m on the train, and a list of dead animals I’ve seen by the side of the road leading up to that train. Just kidding, if I had a list like that, it would only have one item: a rat.  Can I just mention that nobody seems to mind this recurring appearance? I’m the only one clutching my chest, gasping for breath when I find myself nearly stepping on its body, mouthing “Oh my God” to let everyone know I am a compassionate human being, outraged by dead rats, and clearly much more sensitive/distinguished than those who simply walk past it. No one cares, and, in the afternoon, on my walk back, the rat is gone. It’s probably the same rat every time. Desperate for attention, he plays dead a couple of times a week, and when the morning rush carelessly walks by (well because they already know this trick and have had enough, cheers) he slowly sits up, fixes his hair, dusts off his knees, and walks back into the bushes. Number of people gasping Oh My God today: One, his list says, Will return tomorrow.

Anyway, following my girlfriend Amy’s brilliant idea to make a list of things to accomplish by the time she turns thirty, and seeing how cool the end result was- thirty fun challenges crossed proudly off her list-I thought it would be great to make a list of my own. You can read about it here, actually. I made the list well over a year ago, and was convinced I would attack it with the same determination with which I tackle my running training schedules and employee appreciation cakes. Nabokov and Hemingway were going to be my dreamy escapes from the harshness of Canadian winters, until I was ass-deep in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged with no chance of ever, ever finishing it. Look, I tried, but despite reading it twice a day, every day, for three months of commuting to the suburbs, I just couldn’t stay excited about a seventeen hour monologue marrying the metaphor of trains with the fickle human condition. 

That said, that year I rented my apartment in a really cool building named after the lead character’s last name, so there. I will finish this book one day, when I’m feeling like re-opening that can of slow-moving worms, but until then, apart from a few pop literature books I read on vacation...

(Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Jon Ronson's Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Lindy West’s masterpiece Shrill) my reading list remained untouched. 

Eight. Eight items have been more or less completed. Looking at it now, I don't know how I expected for some of these opportunities to just present themselves in the span of two years, but here's what got crossed off, and why:

Running that marathon with that awesome finish time is probably my favourite memory from that list. That one I crossed off, fair and square.  

As you can see, #7 is crossed off with a squiggly line which is kinda the way you tell your doctor that you drink "socially" while keeping your foot firmly over the snack-size bottle of Absolut nestled in your purse.  #12 was to see a broadway show, and thanks to my lovely fella, we saw "Once: The Musical" here in Dublin, and I didn't even barf! When the performers were warming up, I briefly thought about leaving (oh yeah, I hate broadway shows) but I'm definitely glad I stayed because it was as genuine and un-campy as broadway shows get. Plus, I had my moment in the spotlight:

And did I grow all the ingredients for a salad? Well, if you're making a salad of basil, parsley and cilantro, then you bet I did! But the reason I'm squiggly-crossing that one off my list is actually because here in Dublin, I've kept my basil plant alive for TWO MONTHS! Two whole months of watering it and clipping the leaves when they get too old (or eating them). It's unreal. Like, guys, it actually fucking grows back. I can't believe it. 
Okay so then there's #19 which is the one where I help my mom with a big project, and that one I definitely did when I organized her move into her new house and moved most of the stuff and I hope that she can't see this part if she's reading this blog but if she is then sorrayyy not sorray. Also, you can read about that in this blog post.
And directly after that one is the one about taking a cake decorating course, which you will soon see is not necessary for me as I have actually become Buddy the Cake Boss. It was Jeff's birthday a few days ago, and I decided that when you are living in a new city, country, and continent, you should opt to bake a last minute secret cake to feed 40 people with ingredients you have never used before - specifically the terrifying F word: Fondant.  Buddy stretches that thing like it's nothing, but even on his show, the pros are always freaking out about the fondant cracking, sweating, peeling off, or just "not cooperating" (what?).  I've avoided it for years and years, opting for the safe and predictable icing scenario....until now.  I don't know what came over me, but I decided to just do it, and without any practice or any idea how to even handle it, I applied the fondant to my cake at 5 am the morning of Jeff's birthday party day. I won't lie, all of Dublin pitched in with ideas. The cake decorating cake store clerk drew pictures of how the fondant should look when it's flat, the grocery store clerk assured me that it'll be grand, the Irish baker tutorial said it would be just like marzipan so don't sweat it...and somehow, the birthday gods came together, and I managed to secretly bake three layers of red velvet cake, ice them with cream cheese frosting, and cover it in the aforementioned cloak of gastronomical terror. And so, when it was all done, before me stood one of my biggest fears, conquered: a steak cake, with marzipan mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. 

As for the disco roller skating, my very thoughtful guy took me to a disco roller-skating place one day, until halfway through the trip I pulled him onto a bus going to the airport instead, so we could have coffee and watch people travel. No regrets, it was fantastic. We did disco roller-skate anyway, actually, at a music festival this summer…and it was every bit as terrifying as I hoped..

Much grace so elegance wow
And lastly, of course, there was the adventure of getting my driver's license. After a month of lessons with a man named Barry who giggled when I said fuck, and weekends of being an unbearable human being around my loved ones who offered to supervise me while I yelled "I'm not ready for Bank Street!" and "Parallel parking is not necessary in this country!", I passed my G2 test, on the first try. Very proud of that, and embarrassed for the person I was in the weeks leading up to it. Anyway, moving on...

Today is just a few days before my birthday, and I can confidently say that I will not complete my 30 Before 30 list, and the reason that I've written about it here is that I can confidently say that this is the first list I will not complete, in my stash of testaments to my OCD.  Even though part of me wants to bite into a brick, a much bigger part of me is kinda like let’s see what happens. I mean, let’s see what happens when I don’t accomplish a set of crazy goals. Let’s see what happens when, instead of running myself ragged just for the momentary satisfaction of crossing off an item, I let myself have a relaxing few days (nay weeks) and enjoy not worrying about it.  Maybe it's the Irish lifestyle rubbing off on me, or maybe it's the acceptance that the things I did complete have been pretty fantastic, but I think I'm okay with being human, this time. 

And if on September 26th I wake up and I’m still alive, despite that list glowing venomous red with a thousand little Outlook reminder flags, if the sun still shines (well as much as it would in Dublin anyway), then maybe that’ll be the new me: Alisa in her 30s, who’s comfortably nerdy, spends some (most) weekends eating pancakes and watching reruns of Home Improvement, gets along best with old people, and doesn’t always cross every item off the list. Let’s see.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dublin and Me

Hello, do you have brewed coffee? Brewed. Brewed. It’s like…when you run beans through a filter. Nope, not like an Americano. Okay, that’s fine. I’ll have an Americano.

It’s Alisa.

Alisa. A….L…..I……S……A.

Haha, no, I can’t help push Trump out of the elections. I’m Canadian. Actually, I’m from Ottawa. It’s….like…do you know Toronto? It’s kinda beside that. Yeah. I like Drake too.

I’ve been living in Dublin almost 6 months now, and I’m just now admitting that there is no way to concisely organize my thoughts into one short and coherent blog post about my experiences, so I might as well just bite the bullet and talk about the part that’s been sort of the parchment paper lining the uhh muffins of my Irish…adventure. I’ll try to fix this analogy later.

Bull Island, just a few minutes from our apartment

Lovely Temple Bar and basically I'm going to just put random pictures into the rest of this post to counter the seriousness of it..

The paragraph above is what I find myself saying almost on a weekly basis, or whenever I decide to be brave and venture outside the realms of Dublin’s fascination with espresso-based beverages, and it sort of ties into what I’m about to tell you, because what I’m about to tell you is what I’ve discovered so far about my identity here in Dublin. Before coming here, I never realized what it meant to be Canadian, and I never really felt Russian, or Estonian, or Canadian to begin with. Once I learned English in grade school, life in Canada sort of became all-encompassing, the only way to live, and, year after year, I gathered the inevitably naïve perception that “life’s like this”, in the immortal words of Dame Avril Lavigne. Then I moved here and found myself making shifty emoji eyes at everything, like Waaaaaait a minute, why did the post-man make that joke? Haaaang on a second, how come women aren’t as important as men here? (more on that some other day, yikes) and Hooooold up, I’d like cream for my coffee and it…doesn’t exist in this country? (This is, sadly, a fact). Most importantly, I’ve found myself extremely self-conscious of my accent and my general demeanor.

All this needs is an inspirational Instagram quote. Something about the road less travelled or w/e

At the risk of making a ridiculous generalization, I’ll still say this: there is a much greater sense of femininity among girls here, much to the dismay of my “what’s good fam?” greeting, often met with disgust/shock. I can’t remember what the fashion trends are in Ottawa (could I ever? BURN.) (This is the kind of thing I’m talking about that is met with a polite slow clap in this city) (But she burned herself! Tell me how that’s not next level..) (etc.) but in Dublin, you are not a proper lady if your eyebrows aren’t penciled in, your jeans a very flattering high-rise, your tops of the cropped variety, and your hair gorgeously long and healthy. Dublin girls love to wear what’s in style, and dress like their age, if not slightly younger. This of course leaves me and my sensible attire looking like a middle-aged divorcee, which, frankly, I take as a compliment. Yet, I’ve come a long way in these past six months. In the beginning, realizing that my non-Irish accent makes people look up from their newspapers and slant their glasses down to get a closer (disapproving?) look, I became very self-conscious. At first, it was the pause of the bus driver’s hand over the steering wheel upon hearing my (basically) “one ticket downtoon, bud!”, then it was the cashier’s horrified stare as I counted and re-counted the identically-coloured cent pieces in my trembling hand, holding up a line of eighty million frustrated customers. Without even speaking, I felt like all eyes were on me, and not in the “who’s that girl” kinda way, but like if my ass was on fire or if I had covered my face in human turd. I think the last time I felt this way was when I was learning English, armed with a bizarre lexicon of half French half Russian. I thought the days of being different were long behind me, but here I am again!

Sometimes if you're at a pub you can get a little room to sit in, and it comes with a cozy little lamp, candle, and flowers..

Something else that I now realize is a Canadian thing, is politeness. I can count the times I’ve been pushed on the bus in Ottawa on one hand. Most of the times have been catalogued in news alerts the likes of “Passenger spotted allowing himself onto bus ahead of man clearly waiting before him. Avoid Bus 85 Hurdman until further notice. Police are investigating.” Here in Dublin: LOL. It doesn’t matter if you are a girl, woman, not sure yet, growing into yourself, pregnant, old, sad, cold…the minute those bus doors open, anyone who feels they wanna get on that bus are gonna walk immediately in front of you and get right on. The first few times, I just stood there, dropped jaw billowing in the wind. Then, I got used to it. One time, I was like lol when in Rome! and tried to do it to someone else but felt horrible at the last second and let the other person on first. I don’t think it’s because I’m a good person, I think it’s because it’s absolutely fucking mental to be any other way.  An idea: if you get to a bus stop and someone is already waiting there, let them on the bus first.

Sometimes the view is surreal and makes you wanna go swimming but it's cold so
I think that, as with anywhere else in the world, you get some great people and some not-so-great, so again, I can’t say this is just the face of Dublin, but this happens every time I take the bus, so get at me bro.
Another thing I’ve learned about Canadians and myself is that we are polite but reserved. Here, everyone’s always trying to get up in everyone else’s life. Business tends to run on a more personal level (have you ever been called “love” by your tax representative?) and the distant conversations we struggle to maintain in Canada, like “How are you/Good, thanks/Great weather/Yes” go the lengths of “Doing the groceries, are ya?” or, what I personally heard today as I reached for MY FIRST piece of sample cake: “Don’t eat it all, now! Hehehe!” from a man who reached for TWO pieces of sample cake. As with a lot of things though, I’ve grown to like it. It’s strangely comforting to have someone heckle you, especially when you’ve been alone and talking to yourself all day.

Okay just wait until I tell you about the desserts here 
 It seems that, in order to have the efficiency and steadfast hunger for betterment of life, you need to be on your toes, the way Canada is. Being laid back and casual and cute (in many, many ways that I won’t attempt to squeeze into this blog post) the way Dublin is goes hand in hand with, well, the inevitable fact that Ireland seems to be behind on a few things, from their concern about taking care of the environment (it’s quite rare to see recycling bins outside) to their general understanding of customer service, except for at Permanent TSB, my new bank - you should hear them talking about how much they want to serve me better. That customer service is on point man. I almost have to whisper if Jeff’s around (“Yes I’d like to hear more about your online services. Just don’t call back on this phone. You know my other number.”) (JEFF I AM KIDDING). 
I’m proud of Canada and of getting to tell people that I’m from the city that’s kinda close to Toronto, and that I like Drake, and that I’m here because I’ve always wanted to try something different from the life I’ve grown used to. I still feel like my ass is on fire some days, but nowadays it’s for being my usual self, like kissing random people on the cheek (Is that an Irish thing? I don’t know but I’ll do it anyway and see what happens oh my god no. It is not an Irish thing.) and asking a finance manager if she is the overlord of the finance floor (I meant overseer, which in itself doesn’t even fucking make sense.)
Despite everything I’ve written here, you can’t compare Dublin to Ottawa, and you shouldn’t. You can’t compare being Canadian to being Irish in an effort to understand who you are, because, at least so far, who I am seems to exist separately of my nationality anyway. I won’t lie that part of my (this is your cue to pull out your sword and wizard cape) quest was to understand myself better, and while I’ve gotten a better understanding of what it means to be Canadian, who I am is not limited by language or accent. A that’s what she said is a that’s what she said, no matter what time-zone you’re in, baby.

What's long, hard and prickly? Just a shrub I guess

Sunday, January 24, 2016


I took my first trip alone to Europe many, many years ago, and as I sat in the airplane seat on my way back to Canada, I held this little piece of paper:

It was my horoscope, which I had found in a newspaper at the airport that morning.  My knees shook as I took it out of my pocket again and again, re-reading what I was sure was a sign of destiny. 
Don't fear change.
I had loved Europe, from the chaos of the un-street-signed streets of Milan, to the night I spent alone in the middle of nowhere in Spain (one of the most important nights of my life), to the cheeky allure of London. I loved Europe, and I loved Dublin the most. At seventeen, my dreams weren’t yet thwarted by the notion (or the façade?) of responsibility and I decided, reading this horoscope, that I was going to move there.  As I got home, and as the days and weeks went by and real life crept back in, moving turned to maybe I could just travel for a while to maybe I could just go on vacation again for a week or so to maybe someday I’ll see Dublin again.  That was twelve years ago, and the dream of leaving everything behind was tucked far under job contracts and hydro bills that made up the pile called Adulthood. Still, I kept the little horoscope. 

Over the past year, I started writing less and going out more (thanks Drake!), and feeling generally uninspired by everything I saw, from the streets around me to the things I used to love doing. Then,  one day, something truly horrific happened: I ate a Suzy Q maple-bacon donut and thought (if you squint a bit while reading this it won’t hurt as much) whatever.  I think I just stopped caring. Around that same time, I took an unexpected trip to Dublin, and there, against all odds, in the most unexpected way, I found inspiration again.

This time, on the way back home, I didn’t let real life creep back in. Instead, I applied for a visa, bought a one-way ticket, and emptied out my savings account. 

I’m moving to Dublin next month!

I don’t know what I’ll do there, or when or where I’ll work.  I’m not sure of anything Adulthood-related, really, and that’s exactly what I want. Luckily, I’ve located the nearest donut shops and I believe, from my extensive research, that there is an endless collection of exciting yogurts in every grocery store, so that’s settled. I can’t wait to walk down streets I’ve never seen before, to watch people laugh at Irish inside jokes, and for the day everything starts to make sense. Although, with my favourite person waiting for me there, I think it already does.

Thank you to everyone who has been so amazingly supportive as I tearfully bid farewell to my downtown apartment and eventually, to all of you.  I don’t know when I’ll be back, but it’ll be with you in mind. Thank you to my bosses for adamantly offering me ridiculous job opportunities to tempt me into staying – I will think of you when I am splashed by a bus going through a puddle or something equally as dramatic. Thank you, my readers, for laughing about Ottawa with me. Thank you, Ottawa, for being so funny.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Three Fourty-Four: A Marathon

There's nothing like it. Not love, not money, not good news, not great memories. Nothing comes close to the feeling you get when your effort pays off. You can't explain it, and in a way it's inherently selfish: you look at yourself and share your pride with yourself, and yourself only.
I was raised to believe modesty is the only way to be an upstanding member of a (freshly post communist) society. Russians do not encourage. Pride goes hand in hand with guilt, and I grew up with my parents enthusiastically pointing out everything that could ever be wrong with me. Luckily I got you back, mom, through the art of the written word! Who's laughing now?

I ran my first marathon in October. It's been three months and I've only now gotten the nerve to write about it with the pride it deserves. But today I thought enough is enough, it needs to be said: I fucking killed it. If it had come easily, if it had been something that happened by chance, I wouldn't bother writing about it because nobody likes a bragger. It did not happen by accident. I gave up my summer, my weekends, my sleep, some friends, and any sense of physical comfort. I broke a few toes, lost a few nails, and came embarrassingly close to fainting on a number of occasions. I wanted to stop, to skip runs, I wanted to give up more than I would ever admit. I didn't feel the running paying off, I just felt weaker as every week went by. And then, Toronto came. And then it was time to just do it, and I felt the same way I did three years ago, when I first thought about running. I was so nervous I put my mom and sister in a separate hotel room from mine. Anais suggested I get race gear because no matter what happens, I'll always want to remember my first marathon, so I got this one.

I couldn't find the 4:30 pacer so I decided to start with the 3:30 and let myself fall behind.  I didn't feel the first 15 kilometres. They just flew by, song after song, mile after mile, with no breaks or walking.  It was only at the halfway point that I realized my legs had started to shake. 15k later I knew I was in a new place. I had never run longer than 26km and I didn't know how my body would react to this new distance. This is what makes me nervous: the uncharted part. Still, I didn't stop, aside from slowing down to have a power gel. "I figure once we hit 35k, we're in the clear!" a Rastafarian man wearing head-to-toe neon green walked up behind me, eating a gel of his own. Perfect, I'm hallucinating, I thought. I mumbled something incomprehensible akin to "good luck" or something, and we both laughed and began running again.

I could no longer feel my feet in the last 5k. The pain had become too much to process, so I counted on what I memorized as a running stance, no longer sure of how fast I was going. I remember the 41km mark. The numbers ceased being numbers and it stopped being a countdown, but was something my body had decided was a continuous treadmill of pavement. And then..the finish line.  All I hoped was to not fall before hitting it. I remembered my silly goal of 3:55 that I talked about in the blog post I wrote while training.  It couldn't be that fast- I had fallen behind when my knees started to kill - but I knew I would be happy with whatever I got, as long as I just didn't fall. Hundreds of people high-fived us as we ran the last kilometre. I was sure I would cry, but all I did was thank them again and again, gasping for those last few breaths that would get me there so I could finally stop.  Just finish. Don't fall.


Three motherfucking fourty-four. 

Did I cry when I saw this? No. It's been months and I've been waiting to have that moment where I realize how overwhelming it was to see myself beating any goal I could've ever imagined. I thought I would be overcome with a mental slideshow of how far I've come, but I've felt nothing aside from an overwhelming shock. I'm still in shock, months later. 

230 / 1313 in my gender. 50/ 236 in the 25-29 category.  1:46 half-marathon time. *enter every Kanye song that has ever existed* Turns out the Hansons Marathon program really works. It kicks your ass, it's hard as hell, but it works. It helps you endure the pain, it helps you stay strong, stay light on your feet despite feeling every pound hit that pavement for the last few miles. It helps you push the pain aside, and isn't that what you have to do, not only in running but in life? Just keep going.

Running with hypothyroid can be tough.  My body wants to be slow, with my metabolism constantly playing tug of war against the supplements I take to counter it. It's a constant struggle to run faster, run lighter, to persevere despite the voice that tells me to just sit this one out. What screams louder than all that is effort. Effort is what got me here, bragging my ass off, and I stand behind it. Effort has no emotion. It doesn't care about your excuses. It just is or it isn't. You train, you see results. Effort will never let you down. I'm proud that I've felt it, I'm proud to have found the formula, and to have found that it's actually very simple: do it. In a sea of catchy sayings and quotes that are supposedly meant to inspire but don't hold weight in the real world, this is the absolute truth.