Rolling Into Italy

Despite the fact that I don’t speak Italian and possess the unfortunate quirk of imitating (and probably poorly) the accent of the person I’m talking to, I felt ready I for my Italian adventure to begin. And by that, I mean I felt ready to enact the Lizzie McGuire movie and find my very own Paolo during my month’s stay in Rome. After double, triple, and quadruple checking whether or not I packed my passport, phone charger,  and seven extra tubes of deodorant, the time had arrived to depart.

Despite my collegiate athlete status, I struggled to carry my (ginormous) suitcase down the stairs.  Needing a break, I dabbed off the sweat dribbling down my forehead, ate one handful (or four) of m&m’s, and let out an involuntary grunt before continuing into the garage. As I wheeled my suitcase down the last stair, the back wheel broke.

And by broke, I mean completely fell off.

At first, all I could do was shift my glance between the cracked wheel and the hole on the suitcase where it used to be. In an attempt to stay positive, I tried to drag the suitcase to the car.

Not only was this unsuccessful, but the dragging made the already gaping hole even larger. However, it wasn’t until after my mother informed we didn’t own a replacement suitcase that I cried a little bit.

“If you flip the suitcase over, it still rolls pretty easy,” my dad said, trying to be helpful. “You just have to find the angle, Shan. Pause, and find the angle.”

Looking like a hobo gala-banding through the airport, I barely made it from the the parking lot to baggage check-in. Waiting in line to weigh my bag, I nearly hyperventilated. Between my 40+ scarves, fringe boots, and emergency Recess peanut butter cups, I knew my bag might exceed the 50 pound limit. Sweating profusely, I watch the number on the scale rise to 49.5 pounds––score!

If I’m not so lucky on my way home, I thought to myself, I’ll just break off another wheel to decrease weight (YOLO).

However, after the damage caused by dragging the bag through the streets of Rome on the way to the hotel, I’m not sure I’ll have a bag left to bring home. Although I tried to “find the angle,” I got hopelessly, desperately lost.  Already emotionally distraught from hours of not knowing whether the person sitting next to me on the plane was gazing out the window or glaring directly at me, I wondered whether we would ever actually reach the hotel. Sweating (and this time, literally dripping), blistering on my palms, and nearly crying, the front of my suitcase began to unstitch, and my mind involuntarily flashed to images of my underwear lying all over Rome.

Fortunately, this didn’t actually happen, but as always, the sweating part proved all too real. Between sleeping the same room with a bat, catching swine flu at the Wisconsin Dells, and fainting in a potato field––twice––I regret to inform you this agonizing trek down the cobblestone streets is the worst travel experience I have ever had.

I’m sure I made a great first impression with this city. Let the adventure continue!

Posted in July 2011 | Leave a comment

Things that Happen When I’m Caffeine-Deprived

Some say addiction, I call it a love affair.

Between failing to understand my Stats 110 course, cleaning forgotten Five gum wrappers out of my backpack, and trying to make sense of illogical male persons, I’m exhausted.

All the time.

In order to compensate for my lack of sleep, I consume excessive––and borderline disgusting––amounts of coffee.

“You drink you’re coffee black?” a friend said as we left our 8:00 am class.

“Why would I drink it any other way?” I said.

“No milk or sugar or anything?  That’s hardcore.  You don’t strike me as that kind of person.”

Don’t let my short stature fool you––I take my coffee very seriously.  As you may already know, some people use coffee as a quick pick-me-up.

That’s cute, I guess, but I have a different relationship with the beverage.  I need a cup of coffee within at least an hour of waking up––and many times throughout the day––in order to perform basic human functions at a minimal level.  One dreadful day, I failed to obtain a cup of coffee until 3:00 pm.  I cringe just thinking about it.  My head throbbed, I felt nauseous, and I got lost walking back to my dorm room from class.

“You shouldn’t drink coffee right now,” a particularly pretentious friend of mine suggested one night. “You’ll be up all night.”

I looked at her like she was psychotic.  Granted, it was 10 pm, so her point might be valid for most people, but not me.  I realize maybe I’m the crazy one, but I hadn’t drank any coffee in nearly four hours, so naturally, I didn’t have the energy to care.

“No, I won’t.  Trust me.”

“Right, you’re addicted,” she said with an eye roll.  “That’s so sad. I bet you wouldn’t last even one day without coffee.”

I’m not one to back down from challenge––obviously––so without considering the consequences, I accepted.  Unfortunately, my lack of rest and caffeine caused me to make questionable choices.

The effects of caffeine-detox really enhance my looks.

I arrived at the cafeteria around 11:30 am, and because of my delirium, I did not actually make it inside until approximately 11:47.  Surveying my options, I took a few laps around the salad bar, trying to think of reasons why french fries are healthier than salad, but then I became too tired to make it over to the grill line.

I decided to reward myself for resisting the fries by dousing my salad in french dressing and Goldfish (YOLO).  Although operating a Goldfish dispenser is a relatively simple task, I encountered more than a few difficulties.  After shaking the nozzle violently and unsuccessfully for far too long, I experienced a momentary––and involuntary––breakdown.

“These, ah…these, things, they’re, ah, uh…ah, I don’t know,” I said to the person I thought I knew (but did not) behind me in line.

Apparently unable to formulate coherent English, my breath grew heavy as sweat dribbled down my back––it was a gross.   Ready to give up,  I gave the dispenser one last shake. The Goldfish came rushing out, landing on my salad, the floor, and between the buttons on my shirt.

I backed away slowly, concluding I was not mentally equipped to handle the cafeteria.  Instead, I opted to buy myself a  hands-off, pre-packaged snack at the campus coffee shop.  After ordering my pita and hummus (it’s a way of life), I handed the cashier what I thought was my visa card.

“You can’t pay with this,” she said, holding up my Lifetime Fitness card.


“Sorry,” I said, handing her a crumpled five dollar bill, “I’m really tired.”

“You want some coffee?” she asked jokingly.

Clearly, she was taunting me.

“No, I can’t,” as I walked away whimpering to myself.

After an afternoon of finishing 3% of my homework while struggling to stay awake, I took a few deep breaths before braving the cafeteria for dinner.  After the lunch fiasco I felt a bit on edge, but even that isn’t an excuse for what happened next.

Walking up the four-step staircase with my friend Kristi, I managed to trip.  In other words, I ate it.

“Wow, drunk at 6 pm on a Wednesday?” I heard the person behind us mutter.

1.) I was 100% sober.

2.) I took precautions by holding the handrail.

3.) You don’t understand the emotional and physical anguish this caffeine-less day has caused me, so stop talking.

Kristi tried to console me, but failed to contain her laughter.  Normally, I probably would have laughed to, but no longer in control of my emotions, I let out a neanderthol-like groan, and then proceeded to whimper once again.

Reunited at last.

Fortunately, this challenge only lasted for one day, and the next morning I headed to the coffee shop first thing.

Don’t judge me.  Or do.  As long as I can sip on my coffee, I don’t care.

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Boys Lie

Distressed, contemplating love in an ally late of a Saturday night. Typical.

At the ripe, pre-pubescent age of 12––when I still wore braces, a center part, and muffin-top inducing pants––my father gave me a piece of advice: boys lie.

Unfortunately, he was right.

“They all do, Shannon,” he said to me when I returned home crying after the junior high Halloween dance.  “Even the best ones.”

Sitting in the kitchen eating a luke-warm piece of pumpkin pie, I told my dad all about my crush who didn’t ask me to slow-dance.   In retrospect, I’m not sure why I was attracted to him. He looked like orphan Annie with beard he hadn’t yet learned how to hygienically care for, but then again, love doesn’t always make sense.

Although hiding behind the DJ (who, at my catholic school, also happened to be a priest) while all of my classmates found love on the dance floor isn’t my fondest memory, the fact that he told me he “liked me” the week before stung the most.

He lied.

As it turned out, he lost a bet at the expense of my fragile heart.  I can still remember his best friend pointing at me from across the room, professing mutant Annie’s “undying love for me.”

And that’s where my sad, painfully real, and downward spiraling trend with boys began.  Although the lies may differ in size, they continue to surface.


Lie #1: “I want to see you again.”

If this were true, maybe the boy––we’ll call him boy-who-happens-to-have-the-same-last-name-as-my-high-school-love-interest––who promised to take me out “nice dinner in town,” actually would, instead of making no mention of it never again. That was nice.

My personal favorite example of this lie involves a humid, buggy August night, a house party without air conditioning, and the bible.

“Hey Jeff!” I shouted to the boy wearing a hawaiian shirt and flippers––the party wasn’t themed––across the room.  “I haven’t seen you since our religion class last semester.”

I mainly interacted with this boy in class by discussing the reading he didn’t do, or his separation anxiety from his pet canary,  one night a unforeseen rendezvous occurred.  We never mentioned it again, but like all questionable decisions, it happened.

“Oh, yeah…I remember you,” he said. “What’s your name again?”

So, great. It only took one sentence for the lie to occur and the truth to surface.   While that’s oddly impressive, after attempting to shout my name over of the hubbub of the party three times, I gave up and walked away.

Lie #2: “I’m not looking for just a quick thing, because I really like you.”

This lie usually digresses into one-liners from “You’re unlike any other girl I’ve met,” to “You’re honestly so awesome,” to “You’re really weird––in a good way!”  Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for a heart-to-heat on the kitchen floor to turn into a forgotten fling, never to be mentioned again.  Sure, we still acknowledge each other––or at least, I try to wave while he texts the new victim of his illusive winky faces.

Other times, the boy’s emotional incompetence exposes itself from afar––or rather, much too close for comfort.  I once witnessed Mr. I-am-a-nice-guy-but-not-really on a date with another girl (less cute than myself, obviously) just a few weeks after what I believed to be something between us began.

On my way to meet a friend at the campus coffee shop to bitch about boys (naturally), I walked into a concerning situation. There sat my friend in the corner booth, and there he was with his date at the next table over––holding hands and playing footsie. Cute.

“Hi,” I said with a half-gimp, lingering wave as the two-timing idiot and I made unintentional, yet completely unavoidable eye contact as I neared the table.

“But I mean, you’re like, cute all the time,” I heard her timidly say to him.

Fortunately, before I could vomit I sat down and immediately started laughing.  These circumstances contained too much irony––even for my life.  I kept chuckling and I’m sure he felt uncomfortable, but that was his problem, not mine.

Lie #3: “I’m sorry if I happened to lead you on or something.”

Let’s break down this sentence.

-“I’m sorry”

Is he as sorry as he was the other three times we discussed this issue?

-“if I happened to lead you on”

I think we “happened” to move past the leading on phase when he put snickers in my P.O. and I ate them in front of him––smiling and thanking him profusely––even though snickers make me nauseous. Or, maybe when established we liked each other.  But, I mean, I don’t know.

-“or something.”

I’m not entirely sure what this “something” entails, but he is probably guilty of that as well.  And pretending to share my interests by telling me he turned down the lead in Guys and Dolls even though you “love theatre.” Nice try.

There you have it:  boys lie.  But, it doesn’t end there.   Even though it seems easiest at times, we can’t believe what we know are lies in hopes of finding the truth within them––that’s our own fault. We need to be honest with ourselves, and admit we deserve better.

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Week Five: I Haven’t Quit…Yet

With the support of the entire team, I was still able to stay vertical after the race.

Does anyone out there think it is a good idea to engage in athletic activity at 5:45 am?

I didn’t think so. Personally, I think it’s physically and mentally destructive.

Every Tuesday morning the cross country team has practice at this ungodly hour.  For the first couple of weeks, I strategically set my alarm for 5:00 am, thinking three snooze cycles would give enough time to each into the morning.


I rolled over after every snooze, and instead of feeling relieved to sleep again, it seemed like I barely had enough to blink before the alarmed blared once more. Completely cocooned under the covers with only the top half of my face visible, the reality that I willingly chose to join the team hurt more and more with each snooze. This past week, I had a particularly difficult time with this process.

Attempting to hit––violently smash––the snooze button for the third time, I missed and hit the edge of my desk.  I clenched my hand, and being the good roommate that I am, silently sobbed under the covers.   Like most normal people, my roommate was still sleeping, and I didn’t want to wake her with my whimpering.

Now running late with a half-gimp right hand, I stumbled out of bed.  I quickly gathered all of my athlete items––water bottle, deodorant, and headphones to listen to my best of Broadway playlist on my walk to gym––and accidentally slammed the door due to myuncontrollable frustration.  It’s too early to be functioning, let alone be remotely rational (Sorry roomie).

I contemplated quitting the team the whole way to gym, audibly saying to myself, ‘Why the hell are you doing this? You’re idea of fun is blogging and eating hummus, remember?”  I mean, everyone else doubted my ability to survive, why shouldn’t I?

You’re probably saying, “Aww, that’s so sad! You just need to stay positive” I appreciate the encouragement, but don’t lie.  You know you thought the same thing when you heard I joined cross country.

However, after turning around three times, I finally made it to the locker room.

“Good morning, Hannah!” my coach said.

1.) Good morning?  For your information, it’s still the middle of the night. Regardless, “good” is not the adjective I would use to describe this situation.

2.) My name is Shannon, but I just don’t have the energy to correct you for the 7560348678 time.  I’m over it.

“Hi,” I said, trying––but failing––to wave with my half-gimp hand.

My coach informed our half-awake team that this morning’s workout consisted of a run on the trial of tears.  Apparently, this is a “fun” work out. It might be the overly-analytical English major in me, but “tears” does not indicate “fun.”  Maybe, “awful,” horrendous,” or “repulsive,” but not fun.

Oh well, let the struggle continue.

“Woo! Let’s do this Oles!” I said––enthusiasm is my only contribution to the team I feel completely confident about.

I cried a little bit on the fourth mile of hills, but once I finished, I felt invincible.  Granted, I finished third to last, but I prefer not to get hung up on the details.


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Bringing the Heat: My First Cross Country Race

You may be familiar with Ricky Bobby’s philosophy, “If you’re not first, you’re last,” but since completing my first cross country race––yes, I actually finished––I realized I disagreed.  This lead me to create my own philosophy: If you’re not last, you’re doing fine.  With over 300 runners, those are pretty good odds.  At least, that’s what I thought.

Unfortunately, I was exasperated after the warm-up run.  Apparently, “running at a comfortable, conversation pace with your teammates” means “run as fast as you can for as long as possible and definitely longer than everyone else”  To me, that description seems to fit the actual race, but like all true athletes, I chose to let go of my doubt and push past my limitations.

I tried to be friendly to the opposing teams before the race began, but my good intentions were not well received,  I wasn’t aware, but evidently, some people take sports very seriously.

“I’m going to set my PR today,” I said to girls from the opposing team.  “Want to know why?”

1.) In case you aren’t as hip to cross country lingo as I am, “PR” means “Personal record.”

2.) Nobody wanted to know, but I elaborated anyway.

“This is my first cross country race…ever!”

Feeling uncomfortable as they pretended I wasn’t there––one girl walked to a different part of the starting line––I did something I am very comfortable with: laughing at my own joke. My laugh lingered on until the siren sounded and everybody took off sprinting.  I’m not sure what the hurry was; I thought the idea was to pace yourself in the beginning, but I guess they wanted to show off.


I tried to keep up with everyone for about six seconds, then remembered setting totally unrealistic goals hurts you more than helps, and ran at my own speed.  Some people might affectionately refer to my realistic goals as “slow,” but I won’t let the expectations of other’s discourage me.

I felt good running the course, but I’m sure it didn’t look that way.  Sweaty and sunburnt, I eventually stumbled across the finish line––I thought.

“Good race,” my coach said.


This photo most closely resembles my reaction after finishing the race. I was neck and neck with a few other girls, but I wasn’t last.

I appreciated her compliment, but after such a strong finish all I could think about was drinking water and being horizontal. I deserved it.

“But you HAVE to step all the way across the finish line,” she said. “All the way next time.”

Too delusional to realize my mistake, I assured her it wouldn’t happen again, though I’m not sure how convincing I sounded.  I wish I could say the same thing didn’t happen at my first high school track meet, but it did.  Even after the second time, I’m still not totally aware of where the finish line is––sorry I’m not sorry.

During our cool down run––I don’t think it’s necessary either––my teammates discussed which parts of the course they found most difficult.

Which parts?

Personally, I thought all of the parts were equally horrific.

“I did like the part with all the pine trees,” a teammate said.  “It was really pretty last leg of the race.”

Pretty?  If by pretty you mean tunnel of discouragement and defeat, then yes, I suppose “pretty” accurately describes the scene. My favorite part of the race turned out to be when I got to climb into my bed afterwards.  As I vegetated under my covers, I received an email with the results:

Hannah Cron: Macalester College  (I would tell you my time, but you might feel intimidated).

What can I say?  I’m an unforgettable asset to the team.  Obviously.
























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Cross Country: Week One

“So, you’re really running cross country this year?”

Like theatre, they call this a headshot in sports.  

“Yup,” I try to say with confidence.


The conversation about my decision to run cross country is always starts with concern and ends with confusion––and bets on when I would quit.  The longest was three weeks and the shortest three days before the season started.  I’ve officially survived 6 days, so congratulations, you already lost.

“Welcome to the team!” one of the captains said. “I know freshman year can be nerve-wracking, so don’t hesitate to ask me if you have a question about where something is or––”

“Actually I’m a sophomore,” I said. “But thanks.”

I may look like a short, tense, socially-unaware freshman, but I am an upperclassman.  Shocking, I know.

The next morning the team met in the locker room––a new concept for me––and then headed out for a run.  Things started out smoothly, but then I got tired and the rest of the team did not.  It didn’t take many practices to discover this would be a common trend, but nevertheless, I kept my spirits up.

“Good job, Shannon!” a teammate said as she lapped me––fun times.

On the verge of de-combustion, giving a coherent response was nowhere near possible.  Though I meant to say something along the lines of “You too! Great job! You’re so fast!” a pathetic “Woo!” too quiet for someone standing six inches in front of me to hear squeaked out instead.  I don’t yet understand how the cross country team manages to run, carry on a conversation, and not die all at the same time.

After our run the team returned to the weight room for an ab workout, which luckily involved a lot of laying on the ground.  Not-so-luckily, I still can’t feel my abs.

“Yeah, these ab workouts make you pretty sore,” a teammate said. “But, it’s a good sore, you know?”

No, I don’t.  I don’t know any “good sores.” The only “sores” I know involve pain and difficulty moving.  I guess I don’t speak athlete, but I bet everyone figured that out when I casually referred to practice as rehearsal.

Due to the small size of the weight room, I suffered through the workout squished beneath the water fountain––typical.  No problems arose until one particularly sweaty male runner needed a drink.  Breathing heavily, he leaned over and put his mouth up to the faucet, causing his sweat to drip off of his body onto my face.  Refreshing.

My eyes stung afterwards, but really, it’s fine.

Five pound dumbbells, sweat––so much sweat––awkward interactions with the men’s cross country team, and matching blisters on my inside of second toes made up the rest of my first week as a collegiate athlete.  That, and the near mental breakdown I had trying to figure out the laundry-loop system after seven mile run in my last clean sports bra.  No worries, I recovered with few tears shed.

“So, how was your first week of cross country?” asked a friend.

“Good.  I’m happy I joined,” I said.  “I think.”

“I’m going to be honest, when you first told me your were joining the team I thought to myself, what the hell is she doing?”

Well, even I don’t really know––but I’m doing it.






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Damage Control

“I’ve come to a realization,” I said.

This usually means one of three things:

1.) I thought of another reason why I think the Spice Girls will get back together.

2.) I should try eating natural peanut butter again.

3.) I analyzed all of my past romantic relationships, and once again––because of the emotional attachment I refuse to admit I have––I reached some sort of distorted conclusion about how to move forward with my life.

“I love your realizations,” said a friend of mine.

Considering the potentially socially destructive subject matter of this post, I am going to assume this friend wants to remain anonymous.  You’ll understand soon––trust me.

As we drove down the highway listening to “Some Nights” on the radio for the 7th time that day, I told her about how my past relationships with men––involving false hopes, unclear intentions, and encounters in an unfinished gazebo––have resulted in a single, sad truth.

“I’m damaged,” I said, exhaling deeply. “I’m pretty sure I qualify as emotionally damaged.”

“I think I do too,” the friend said.

Being romantically-incompetent can be exhausting.

Our level of emotional deficiency in romantic situations probably wasn’t a secret to the rest of society, but I felt the issue needed further examination.

“How do we become undamaged?” the friend asked.

“I don’t know, get married?” I said.

“But how can I expect that to happen if I’m not emotionally capable of keeping a boyfriend around?”

“You’re right.” I said. “Maybe you just stay damaged forever.”

As comforting as being alone forever sounded, I decided to try and get to the root of my problem––before I became a single fifty-five year old woman with a cat for every failed boyfriend.  Like all of the other problems in my life, I figured making a list was the first step towards success.

1.) Problem: All men think I hate them because the sarcastic jokes I make via text are often taken literally.

Example: Boy: Hey want to hang out tonight

Me: I only talk to boys who know how to use commas and question marks correctly.  Or at all.

Boy: Oh. Sorry.

Me: That’s better!  But I still would prefer if  we didn’t see each other. I don’t want people to think I associate with you––how embarrassing for me!

Boy: Oh.

Me: Kidding!  Maybe…

Possible Solution: Stop trying to be funny; no one ever laughs anyway.

2.) Problem: I feel stupid when I flirt.  This is because I look really stupid when I flirt.

Example: “Hey hey, you you!” I said. “How are you?”

“I’m doing well,” he replied.  “How about yourself?

“I’m tired, mind if I take a seat?”

(Note: I was referring to his lap)

“Uhh…sure, I guess.”

Considering I can’t go without fidgeting for more than fifteen seconds, both parties ended up uncomfortable.  I got up and left without saying goodbye, though I did give him a half-wave from behind.  Whether or not he saw remains a mystery.

Possible Solution: Stop before I act on my instincts and do something different.

3.) Problem: I am controlling, but not at all confrontational.

Example: “I mean, even though we never really labeled our relationship, I would say we were definitely dating,” I said. “And now that it’s over I would just really like some closure, but I want him to approach me about it.”

“How do you know it’s over for sure?” a sensible friend suggested.  “You should probably talk it out. Especially because you said yesterday that you still like him.”

“Oh, no, I’ve moved on,” I said. “I saw this really cute guy Mark for the first time the other day.  I already decided we are going to date.”

Possible Solution: Don’t make decisions based on the outcome of situations that haven’t happened yet, stop making choices for other people without consulting them, and get over Mark.

The road to recovery is never an easy one, but I believe I can rebuild my damaged self––one realization at a time.

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