The State Line Hoodie

Update: we’ve reached the minimum order! Closing down the order form Sunday night, 4/13. If you’ve already ordered, expect an invoice early next week.

It’s been a year since the KC Street Grid shirt made its debut and there was always a second project I wanted to do – the state line hoodie. Finally, I’m getting off my butt and doing it!

 

MockUp

 

This is a mockup – it’ll be on a very lightweight American Apparel hoodie and only offered in black. Please note: this is basically a long-sleeved t-shirt weight – this is not a fleece-lined sweatshirt. More of an overshirt, if you will.

The lines are county and highway. Notably, the only line that doesn’t actually exist on the design (until it jogs along the Missouri River) is the state line. That’s on the zipper – symbolic of the line that so well divides us but is physically invisible.

Pricing on this one will be around $25 and I need a minimum order to make it happen, so let me know if you’re interested by filling out this handy dandy form: (form closed)

walking a mile in someone else’s paradigm

People always seem to be going up and down aisles and streets looking for closer parking – except when they’re at sporting events. Somehow, the sea of parking is comforting – you’ll walk in a lot for an undetermined distance and it seems okay because you’re headed toward the stadium. Get to a downtown area or a shopping mall, though, and if you’re more than 10 spots back you’re sure there’s another spot somewhere closer.

I used RunKeeper to determine how far I walked from the car to the gate at two separate games at Sporting Park in the past week, both times parking in season ticket holder parking. The first game, we were 0.51 miles from the gate. The second, 0.83 miles. I took a (sort of) average of 0.70 miles and said, as the crow flies, how far away could I park from other venues in Kansas City and still have walked the same distance?

Here we have it – 0.70 mile radius circles over Sporting Park (Kansas City, KS), the Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO), the Truman Sports Complex (Kansas City, MO) and Oak Park Mall (Overland Park, KS).

Context is everything.

Loop_tracts1Sporting Park

Loop_tracts2Sprint Center

Loop_tracts3Truman Sports Complex

Loop_tracts4 Oak Park Mall

run that one by me again.

I was recently visiting home and was chatting with a friend about what I’ve been up to. She told me of her friend that had just competed in a local CrossFit competition, and how a few of her other friends went to cheer her on. She also told me about a joke another friend made about the fact that CrossFit competitions are basically just watching people work out.

Ha. Good one.

Having spent time as a meteorologist, I am accustomed to hearing the same one-liners over and over again, with every person thinking they’re telling me that joke for the first time. Yes, forecasting is the best job in the world because you can be wrong half the time and still keep your job. Yes, we can control the weather. And yes, absolutely, preempting your favorite TV show is the reason we all go into the business. (And no, none of those responses are true.)

I’m not a CrossFit apologist. There are some real jerks that participate in it. I make that admission up front. I haven’t been doing CrossFit that long, but it’s fascinating how polarizing it is. It’s different, it’s controversial, it’s lots of things.

…but seriously.

CrossFit is just working out. So is running, and people show up to support others at 5Ks. So are bike races, but people come out in droves to ring cowbells. So are triathlons, but people come out to cheer for those silly enough to want to do three things in a row.

I can’t believe they televise the CrossFit Games. You know what else is televised? Bowling. Golf. Curling. Fly fishing. Besides – it’s not football season, it’s still early in baseball and soccer season, it’s not hockey season, college sports haven’t started yet – is there something in particular you’re missing out on because of it? Do you also whine about every home remodeling show on HGTV? Change the channel. I’m sure a “real” sport is on ESPN 8.

It’s prone to injury. I know more people who have injured themselves running than doing CrossFit. Anecdotal? Sure, but just making the point that when done wrong, almost anything is “prone to injury.” I danced competitively for years growing up, and one of the routines involved chairs. A girl fell off of it during one of the moves and broke her arm. Does that make dancing dangerous?

CrossFitters can’t do anything besides CrossFit. Show me a marathoner that can just pick up and do an IronMan. Show me a cyclist who can win every tennis match. Show me a golfer who can swim a :30 50m. Just because it doesn’t translate directly into some other sport doesn’t mean it’s worthless.

The people who do it just won’t shut up about it. Yeah, and I can’t remember the last time someone posted about how far they ran that day. Or their new max bench press weight. Or how far they rode their bike. You’re right, posting to social media is totally unique to CrossFitters.

I just don’t understand the animosity. Is it a giant retail machine? Not any moreso than any other popular athletic activity. Are people who do it elitist? Depends on the person, just like every other aspect of life. Do people go a little overboard and become obsessive over it? Absolutely – and have you heard people talk about fantasy football lately?

I obviously don’t speak for the CrossFit community at large, or even for my own gym, but joining a CrossFit gym has introduced me to some really amazing people in my city. I’ve dropped in at other CrossFit gyms in Virginia and Michigan and it’s been incredibly welcoming and a nice way to get a workout in while on the road. I don’t see it any differently than joining a running club or a knitting group or a cycling team. I don’t even talk about it that often, but just like when people would find out I was a meteorologist, it turns into open season on jokes and making fun.

How about instead we all direct our energy toward doing what we enjoy and to each their own?

And fair warning – the CrossFit Games are coming up, so you may want to block that channel on your TV for the next couple weeks.

“I can get by with a little help from my friends”

I mentioned back in December that I was training for a triathlon. I didn’t really know what that meant yet. Now that it’s just over a week away, I’m pretty sure I know what the “training” part means – and goodness, I really had no idea what I was in for.

I’ve always been a solo runner. I don’t like running with other people, mainly because I’m slow and I hate slowing anyone else down. I also relish the opportunity to be alone with my thoughts and totally in tune with whatever my body is telling me to do (or not do). I don’t mind riding my bike alone, although that is generally more fun with a partner or two. Team sports are different – it’s really hard to play soccer 1 v 5.

Point is, when I started doing this training, I started like I always start training for stuff – by myself. I signed up by myself, I laid out a path by myself, and then realized I was failing by myself. If you’re reading this, you probably know me. If you know me, you probably know I can be a bit…um…stubborn. I like to think of it as independent, but it can be to a fault. This post isn’t really about training for a triathlon, per se. It’s about what happened along the way.

I had help in the beginning from a good friend well-versed in triathlons to set up a training plan that would actually get me to race day in one piece. That was great, but said friend lives more than 1500 miles away and wasn’t going to be there to give me pep talks when I hated all the things. Not that I didn’t call her on a semi-regular basis and tell her far more than she ever wanted to know about whatever trial or triumph I’d had that day. Sorry about that. :)

Training went fine, for the most part. I had good days and bad, just like any other training for a race. But in early April, with about six weeks to go, mental breakdown mode started to set in. I wasn’t where I wanted to be – but where did I want to be? I’d never really set a goal other than to finish, so presumably I was right where I wanted to be, it just didn’t feel right. I got cranky. I cried. I made lots of phone calls and sent lots of text messages to the friends I knew might be sympathetic to my plight, but I’d already made the biggest mistake – I didn’t let anyone in before that point.

I don’t generally let people in easily. Just like running, I tend to do a lot of stuff on my own. It’s great to have company, but I’m still going to do the things I need or want to do whether someone is going to go with me or not. Having not been in a relationship in a while, I’ve gotten so used to just doing things on my own that it never occurred to me that I might need someone around for when things like this set in. I don’t need anyone’s help, so why would I ask for it? I got this. I’m good.

By the time everything seemed to be heading south, I hadn’t really told anyone the direction I was headed, so it took most of them by surprise. But there I was, with work being busy, my graduate class wrapping up (and therefore having lots of end-of-semester work to get done), a band concert nearing – everything was coming to a head at the same time, and I didn’t feel like I was doing any of it as well as I could. I didn’t have time to train the way I wanted to, and it became a source of frustration. I started feeling like nothing I did was going to matter and I wasn’t going to be ready, even though I actually still had a lot of time. One night I actually woke up from a nightmare that I took so long to finish I was the only one left on the course, but when I got to the finish line, there were my friends, cheering for me like they hadn’t waited seven hours for me to finish. (Yeah – that’s right. Seven. It really was a nightmare.)

So, I sucked it up and let a few people in on how I was feeling. Mainly it was the same people that had helped me at the very beginning with training in some way so I didn’t have to start from scratch, but man did it feel like I was piling on them. This was my decision to do this race, why on earth would I burden someone else with my stress about it? It’s not like a million people haven’t already trained for triathlons and lived to tell the story. But I had to or I was going to keep feeling awful. I finally understood why people join training groups – it’s not all about the physical training, it’s about a support system of people who know what you’re talking about when you say you had a bad day. You learn from them, they learn from you. 

After I finally admitted to myself (and others) that I needed some pep talks if I was going to make it through race day, things have felt better. I feel strong, and my fantastic friends have been crucial in certain pieces of the puzzle coming together (who knew finding somewhere for an open water swim was going to be so difficult before Memorial Day?). I can’t thank them enough for the mental and physical strength they’ve helped me find over the past few weeks. I knew training for a triathlon wasn’t going to be easy physically – I never anticipated the emotions that would come along with it.

I have some truly great people in my life, some I’ve known for years and others I’ve met in the past six months. It’s been been an incredible journey of self-discovery, discipline, and the art of just letting things go. Pretty dramatic for someone who is just training for a silly triathlon, eh? I know. But I’ve come out of this (the next eight days notwithstanding) with a deeper appreciation for friendship, companionship, and the importance of actually letting people in. I don’t need to do everything by myself. It’s okay to need help sometimes – and who doesn’t like to feel needed by the people they love and respect every so often?

So, I want to say thank you. To everyone who provided an encouraging word, sent a text, or even just liked a photo or status somewhere. To everyone who swam or ran or biked with me, who encouraged me to keep going without fully understanding how important it was at the time, who asked for updates on how things were going along the way. No one gets there completely by them self, no matter how hard they want to – present company begrudgingly included.

KC Street Grid Shirts

3/29 update: Miss out on the original order? Get yours here! http://lacucarachapress.bigcartel.com/product/kansas-city-street-grid-t-shirt

3/9 update: Form is closed for orders – pay your invoices!

3/8 update: Today is the last day to order! The form will stop taking replies around midnight tonight. Please pay the PayPal invoice when you receive it – this order is huge and requires a deposit, don’t leave me hanging! :)

I’ve tried to post info a few places on this, but I needed to be able to put it all in one place, so here it is!

I wanted to buy a tshirt with the Kansas City street grid on it. I searched for one and couldn’t find one, so I decided I was going to make one myself. I told a few people and they seemed interested in one as well, so I decided why not make a whole bunch and let people order them too? And here we are.

Two options: blue with white ink or grey with black ink – like so:

Royal-Blue-Mockup

Slate-Grey-Mockup

These will be on high-quality 100% ringspun cotton tees (Alternative Apparel), and the price will be $15/tee. I will leave the pre-order form open until Friday, March 8th, so if you know someone you think might be interested, send it to them quickly! If you’ve already ordered before both color options were available, never fear – I’ll be in touch soon regarding which option you’d prefer.

Here’s a link to the form: [order period closed]

Order away!

Edited to add: The lovely gents over at La Cucaracha Press are making these for me, and have so far been fantastic to work with!

“everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

As I write this, I am in the process of losing my grandmother. She was made hospice a few weeks ago, and my understanding is that Scan_78we’re looking at the next 24 hours or so. On one hand, no one ever wishes for someone to pass away. On the other hand, everyone does eventually and her quality of life hasn’t been stellar lately. The best I can hope for at this point is that she passes peacefully and is no longer suffering.

She’s my last remaining grandparent, my paternal grandmother. My paternal grandfather died a few years ago after a battle with Alzheimer’s. My maternal grandfather died before I was born, and my maternal grandmother died when I was very young, so I never got to know them. Even then, my dad’s parents always lived in Florida or California while I was growing up in Michigan, and they moved back to Michigan about six months after I moved to Kansas City. Some timing, huh? My point is that I never really had the “go to grandma’s and bake cookies and spend the night” experience that many kids have, but I still felt strongly attached to my dad’s parents as we visited them regularly and they came to Michigan when their health still allowed such travel. My grandmother and I even exchanged handwritten (and sometimes typewritten) letters for a long period during elementary school and I still have all of those letters saved in an envelope. We found our ways despite the distance.

There’s something about losing your last grandparent, though. It’s different. Now my parents’ generation is the oldest remaining generation of their families. It makes their mortality into a clearer reality. One day, I’ll have to go through what they’re going through right now – watching my parents, the people who raised me, decline into failing health and at some point succumb to it. We’re all getting older, it’s bound to happen, but something about losing your last grandparent makes all of that a lot more real.

Have I always gotten along with my parents? Of course not, and if you say you have, you’re either lying to me or to yourself. But it’s all too easy to let things linger and hold grudges until it’s too late. This holds true with any relationship, not just parental. My grandmother has been in somewhat declining health for some time, but you don’t always see it coming.  The older I get, the more I am able to realize and appreciate the things my parents did for me, much of which was not immediately apparent as a kid. I’ve tried as an adult to recognize and thank my parents for those things they did for me growing up that I either took for granted or downright hated at the time. I fully acknowledge at this point that the life I am leading now would not be possible were it not for the support (in many ways) that my parents have given me. I haven’t always gotten along with my siblings, either, but now that we’re all adults, I easily recognize that my sisters are smart, funny, and great to hang out with (most of the time ;) ).

Having moved to Kansas City by myself, and living down here with no family close by, I rely a lot on my friends to be my local family. I say with full confidence that I have somehow managed to surround myself with some of the smartest, most creative, most beautiful and most supportive friends a person could ask for. My long-distance friendships all over the country from home, college or the various places I’ve traveled are just as important. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who has known you longer and knows your back story. Truly, I feel like I have won the friend lottery with all of you. Maybe that’s why I like hosting parties so often – it’s my small way of showing appreciation to all of you who make my life so rich in so many ways.

Now is the time to appreciate those relationships, not after it’s too late to do or say anything. Tell your friends and your families how much they mean to you. Show them how important they are while they can still understand it – you never know how many more times you’ll have the opportunity.

Update: 8:51pm 2/18/13 – My grandmother passed away peacefully a short time ago. Go tell someone you love them.

the automobile: the original individual mandate?

Ever since the Affordable Care Act was passed, there have been people fighting to repeal it, arguing that it will raise the cost of pizza, and the “individual mandate” made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (and survived). The Individual Mandate was a controversial piece of the legislation, in short requiring that everyone carry health insurance or pay a fine for not doing so.

I was thinking about a trip I’m making to Wichita later this month and how my options are limited on how to get there. How it seemed like government policy over the years, starting with the “greatest public works project in history,” the Interstate System, is considered one of government’s greatest accomplishments, but how it has ended up reducing funding available for other forms of transportation, thus requiring Americans to own cars to make it from place to place even within their own city boundaries.

And it makes me wonder.

Is the automobile the original “individual mandate”?

Prior to the rise of the automobile, streetcar systems existed, municipal buses ran frequently, and pedestrians and bicycles were accepted and expected on streets. Once the car began taking over, the streets became less hospitable to non-motorized transportation and the cries of public transit not funding itself often drown out those that understand that the highways also don’t pay for themselves.

So where does that leave someone who doesn’t want to own a car, especially in a place outside the five boroughs or downtown Chicago?

Seemingly rather short of luck.

The average American way of life has evolved to a point where it is nearly necessary for a person who wants to be able to travel between destinations on a schedule to own their own vehicle. The Interstate System has made it easier to travel between cities on an individual basis, and the popularity of cars (among other things) ate away at the availability of passenger rail service.  Intercity buses don’t run nearly as often. Federal funding has long supported the roads-and-highways approach over a more holistic view of transportation that considers the movement of goods and people, not just the movement of vehicles.

Public transit is making a comeback in a lot of places, and the generational differences in many realms are beginning to show as Millenials enter the workforce and property-buying market in higher numbers, but it is still incredibly difficult to exist in many places without a car. I couldn’t make it to my soccer games, dance classes, or graduate classes using mass transit right now, and I live in the middle of the city. This also speaks to the sprawling development that has taken place, and without requisite density, transit just doesn’t make sense. All of this piles on to make an automobile a must-own for residents of most places. The “fine” in this case is either the increase in the amount of time spent traveling between destinations because of limited transit service, or the cost of ownership of a vehicle (which, when examined, really is staggering).

So, has policy over the years essentially made the automobile an unofficial “individual mandate”? Maybe with a little more active transportation, we wouldn’t need quite so much health care in the first place.