Monday, November 17, 2014

Someone Alert The Starks...

Winter isn't coming.  It's already here.

First morning scrapping off my car before driving to campus.

Many more to come, I'm sure, White Walkers or no.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How Old Would You Be If You Didn't Know How Old You Were

I have always been a big believer in living how old we think we are, rather than how old we actually are.  My parents live at least 10 years younger than any number printed on their government IDs.  I spent most of my 20s first having a job way too serious for a recent college graduate and then a job that involved living like a recent college graduate when I wasn't one.  And now, in my 30s...I have no idea how old to be.

I should preface what comes next with the fact that for most of my life, I have been pronounced "young."  I even wrote about it when I turned 30.  It's a compliment and a superior-than-thou put-down all rolled into one.

I was numerically young, lived young, called young - and felt young, if only because I was told I was.

I am dealing with a completely different set of pronouncements these days.

To me, graduate school was always something that people did when they were older.  Literally, for the first 21 years of life, graduate students (aside from Doogie Howser, M.D., of course) were older than me.  Then I spent five years working as my friends went to grad school and came back with degrees that cost them money *and* job interviews because employers figured they were over-qualified and would demand salaries higher what was on offer.  I was now at that older, grad school age, but the whole idea was seriously disincentivized.  

So here I am, finally in graduate school because I am "older" and everyone is so young!  Aside from two part-time students in their late 40s, the oldest person in my counseling psychology cohort is 8 years younger than me.  In the SPH, there are two married PhDs in their mid-30s, and everyone else is 30 or younger.  My lab TAs this summer were six years younger than me, and they each have masters degrees and are two years into their PhDs.

One of my favorite party tricks is reminding them that I graduated from college before Facebook, Wikipedia, or Youtube existed.  That I didn't have an email address when I showed up for college or a cell phone until I was a sophomore. {Minds blown.}

The vast majority of time my peers and I get along gangbusters.  I skip the hard-core drinking shenanigans, and know they leave me off certain invites that I'm kind of relieved to miss, but I am included far more than I am not.  'Cuz I'm fun and come with a bunny ;)

On the other side is my professors.  IU isn't a starter college for faculty (Professor Beeball, aside), so for the most part they are older and established, but a few are closer to me in age than some of my classmates.

What about my extracurriculars you ask?  This is where the bottom falls out.  My usual swimming group is comprised entirely of high-school students.  Biologically, but not always socially acceptably, I could be everyone's mother.

With the start of the high school swimming season, I am moving down a swim group for the winter.  This group is comprised entirely of middle school students.  Biologically AND socially acceptably I could be everyone's mother.

One of my favorite party tricks there is making them realize that I will treat them like a peer and teammate, not act like a parent.  [Though a lot of eye-rolling is hidden behind goggles when the 11-year-olds decide to act their age.  It's arguably worse when the 17-year-olds act their age.]   {Minds blown.}

So now: I am considered comparatively old; am numerically comparatively old; live a little bit old - but feel young.  If you asked me how old I am based on how I generally feel, I would say 23 to 25.

Interestingly - and very much along the lines of that post I linked above, written when I turned 30 - I don't have any inclination to be a younger number.  I spend nearly my entire day around people younger (and far younger) than me, and generally keep up with them in practice and the gym, and that makes me feel young.  To feel young is enough because what comes with my older number is just as beneficial: I am so much more prepared for the intricacies of grad school and team membership than most of my peers in any given setting.

And, even more importantly, I don't have to be in high school anymore.

Friday, November 7, 2014

I Won The Internet!

Guys!  I won an (pseudo-)award for writing!

Every five years, before reunion, Harvard graduates are offered the opportunity to write a class report.  The report is basically whatever you want to say (or not say) about what you have been doing the previous five years.  The reports are collected and published in the Red Book, literally a book with a blood red cover that each graduate receives before reunion.

My reports are...very me.

Last week I was notified that my report was chosen as one of the four to represent my class in the Best Class Reports of 2014 book.  Before you start asking when this volume will be available for purchase at your local independent bookseller, it appears this book is only provided to the people whose reports appear in it.

This practice is...very Harvard.

While I am not going to share my original report, I will share my response upon receipt of the Best Class Reports of 2014.

Subject Line: For Submission: 10 year and 5 Month Class Report

Hi Emily - 

I wanted to let you know that I received my Best Class Reports of 2014 this week and would like to thank the Academy.  Of course the Academy is N=1, but while it doesn't have official letterhead, it does have its own email signature.  

But truly, it was a surprise and an honor, I guess, that my description of my existential indecision was so inspiring to people who read literally thousands of these things.  My indecision was more indecisive than nearly everyone else's indecision!  And contained 23.5% more self-deprication to boot!  Mostly it was a surprise because I, and other grads to whom I crowed about my award, had no idea this compendium existed.  Now having been selected, I think choosing the best Class Reports of 2014 is a great idea.

The Best Class Reports of 2014 volume found me well in Bloomington, IN, now attending graduate school and like any good Harvard over-achiever, doing two Masters concurrently.  Nearly everyone at this institution to whom I spoke about doing two Masters concurrently was against the idea, and my response was "this will not be the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life." [Writing my Class Report for 2014 was.  Boom!] This fact is especially true considering that I am doing my masters at a state school.  And by that, I don't mean Yale.

Because you were nice enough to select me, here is a bit of a spoiler alert for my already-in-progress Class Report of 2019: whereas this year's report specified that no live organisms were reliant on me, next report I won't be able to say that.  Today I adopted a bunny from the ASPCA.  Actually - a spoiler alert on a spoiler alert - since no live organisms should be reliant on me, I may not have a bunny by the time the Class Report of 2019 goes in for final revisions.

No matter what happens, I promise that the pages of the Best Class Reports of 2014 will not be lining the bottom of my new bunny's cage.  In all sincerity, it was really nice of you guys (or whomever) to select my report.  I really like writing them and it is great to know that someone is reading and appreciating them, even if it isn't my fellow Class of 2004 graduates.


Kelzie E Beebe
Best Class Report writer evah bee-yatch!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I'm A Magician

I literally have a rabbit up my sleeve.

We had some technical difficulties while snuggling.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Some people have requested pictures of my offices/desk/hovel.  USCENTCOM it is not, but for me it gets the job done, a sort of KEBCENTCOM.

It sits in what was probably once a dank (if the water that comes in from the roof when it rains is any indication), dark, storage-space hallway above Royer Pool, where Doc Counsilman worked his magic.  My guess is that it became office space when the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming opened.

Now it's arguably some of the most scenic, least subterranean grad student desk space in HPER, populated by the grad students associated with the Center.  It comes with a soundtrack of splashing and lapping water.  I got a desk here totally by accident; the professor who runs the Center took pity on me when I was studying in the hall the first week of my summer class.  I got everyone addicted to cheese, Kringle, and my charm, and sacrifice myself to their studies upon request, and it has become my permanent home.

The hand sanitizer is the holy line of demarkation (name that show) between my desk and the next one.

Half of the Center's graduate students are Asian, and when I left for the Best of the West road trip, they made a save-this-space sign that incorporated the phrases for "good morning" in various Asian languages.  

One Monday in September I came in to find a framed print of a firefighter leaning against the wall with things written on it in dry erase marker and never moved it.  I can tell when boredom hits because new messages will show up.  Right now I've got "I'm Ohayo.  This is my desk." and "Hsuan-yu [who was my desk mate for a few months], I will always love you.  - HEART Your Fireman"  I have started using as an out-of-office message board, and my current favorite is "Ran away to join the circus.  Back by X. - KEB"  I added a picture of me running in Death Valley this summer because my interior decorating skills are top notch.  

Next week the under-desk area will be filled with swim gear and the smell of chlorine, and then it'll be a perfect home away from home.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dead Men Walking

It turns out that not all swim meets are all unicorns and rainbows and creative body marking like my first one.  Your meet event line-up dictates whether you are saddling up a unicorn or a velociraptor.

If you ask any pool swimmer the three worst events to compete they will agree and those are the three we swam this past Sunday.  If you ask the same pool swimmers what the fourth worst event is after those three, they might not agree, but no matter their answer, it's something we swam on Saturday.

200 back
200 breast
500 free

400 IM
200 fly
1650 free (aka The Mile)

Sunday PM:

We were pretty much dead men walking, and when we weren't walking, we were sleeping.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Meet Honey Bunny (aka Yolanda)

Please allow me to introduce to you Honey Bunny (aka Yolanda).

Long story short: she's a stray from the animal shelter, disgustingly adorable, and lives with me now.

Also tiny.  I put her on my digital food scale and we're entering her in the super light flyweight class at 1 lb 10 oz.  Size-wise, she's probably a kinda large guinea pig, and looks bigger than she is because of fur poof.

My family and I have had plenty of pets, but never rabbits.  I am learning all about caring for them and greens, parsley especially, are a HUGE hit.  It's like watching a wood chipper devour a small tree, coupled with the imagined sound effects of a buzz saw.  

The parsley stalk goes in....

And GONE.  All of these pictures have the same time stamp and were shot in quick succession.

We have become a pro-greens household.  Consumption continues unabated at all hours of the day and night.

If you're wondering where her name came from, it should surprise no one who knows me that it's from Pulp Fiction.

We're working on her ability to pack heat like Amanda Plummer, but I will not be responding to Pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh MY

My weekly trips to the ASPCA have continued.  I am heartened (and saddened) by the fact that many of the animals are not there week to week because they have been adopted in the intervening six days.   So I pretty much have no idea what or who I am going to find.

"This is my lap.  Get your own."

A tuckered out schnauzer puppy.

We've got our eyes on you.

First I was tested as a viable jungle gym.

Then I was tested for drift compatibility.

Sometimes its a snooze-fest.

Sometimes you meet new people who are the same color as you, but don't speak the same language.

Sometimes you find out that animals that do nothing actually are pretty fun (and what you look like after being sick for a week).

Occasionally I drag people who are related to me, there.

Occasionally I drag people who are not related to me, there.

And sometimes the two of you run into the professor who assigned you the group project that got you together on a Friday afternoon in the first place.

Which is definitely the weirdest thing that has happened to me at the animal shelter.

The First Swim Meet Of The Rest Of My Life

When you've done as many sports as I have at as many levels as I have there are few true "firsts" left in sport.  This weekend I crossed a big one - "first swim meet as a swimmer"- off the list.

As book-ends go it was a good one.  On Saturday, the Ironman World Championship was held in Kona, Hawai'i.  Five years ago I was there, racing one of the longest mainstream sporting events currently held, and on this Saturday I was racing the 50 free, the shortest event in the Olympic swimming line-up.

The comparisons don't end there.   I was warned multiple times about what to expect for the meet warm-up.  Basically every competitor has access to the pool for the same 30-45 minutes to complete their team and/or personal warm-up.  It is "dangerous" and "chaos" and I was going to get "swam over" and "flip-turned on" etc etc.  We dove in and after about 200 yards I had to laugh.  There were approximately 1975 fewer swimmers trying to maul me during meet warm-up than during an IM mass start.  It was so tame.

Despite being half my age, my teammates held my hand through it all.  They answer my very basic questions without laughing (too much) and often look at each other and say "oh yeah, I guess that is something we do at meets."  To them all of this is second nature, just like I could set up a triathlon transition area blind-folded, and we all take that for granted in our own sport(s).

I think that I am enjoying swimming at this advanced commitment level because so much of it is brand new to me.  I might as well be one of the adorable 8-year-olds whose arms and legs and back are covered in permanent marker.  They start with event number/heat/lane on their forearm and get very carried away....

Early in the meet I was timed by a pair of women who carefully mentioned my age, which immediately follows my name on each heat check-in sheet.  I confirmed that I was in fact the oldest competitor by 14 years and they were floored.  I heard from several teammates that these two ladies had asked them "do you know there is a 32-year-old swimming this meet?" not even realizing we were on the same team.  They were just announcing it to random people.

Little do they know that if it was a triathlon I would have been required to write my age on my calf.  Next meet I might do that and write "eat my bubbles" right below it - just like all the other newbies.

One of the lessons I learned this weekend is that the hardest part of any event is the climb out of the pool after its over.  Almost didn't make it out after the 100 back.

I could easily have titled this post "Swim Meets: As If I Needed Another Reason To Love Rice Pudding And Chinese Leftovers".

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Not Buying The Ick That I'm Selling

Never in my life have I been in such constant proximity with so many people in such a confined space.

Now imagine the germs.

Two Thursdays ago one or some of those germs dropped a hand grenade into the middle of my relatively ordered life and walked away with the pin.  I felt fine at the beginning of swim practice and had a sore throat by the end.  So began a frustrating seven (but more like nine or ten...) days.

Hot mess doesn't even begin to cover it.  Swim coaches were forbidding me from attending practice, office mates were holding their breath walking by my chair during the times I was required to show up, and little dogs were cowering in their handbags.  Ok, no little dogs, but those who knew better were staying well clear.

I lost my voice by Saturday afternoon, but since I live alone I didn't know it until I was standing at a counter trying to order a sandwich.

Due to an administrative debacle a couple of weeks ago, my basketball section has already used up its one acceptable cancelled class.  So I was teaching, unable to yell and unable to borrow a whistle because the next person would be doomed.  Layering on the germs, I found out I have one student in the ICU and another diagnosed - on Tuesday, after coming to class Monday - with strep, which is something I did/do not have.  But I bet only barely, since we all share basketballs.

One of the days I was starting to feel better I rode the shuttle to campus and everyone was sniffling and lightly coughing.  Everyone.  It cannot be escaped.

I realized that after these upcoming years, I am going to be either a Super Solider or a shadow of my former self.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Music Dump: The "Over And Over and Over and Over and Over and" Edition

Every major event, big assignment, or prolonged stressful situation in my life has had a theme song.  Sometimes it's a newly released song, sometimes old, sometimes upbeat, sometimes mellow.  Usually the song either matches my feelings or models an emotional state I need or want to achieve.

But no matter it's characteristics, once identified, the song is played over and over and over and over and over and...until the situation has ended or been resolved.  And it is forever identified in my mind as "the song that got me through X, Y, Z."

Scrolling through my iTunes library is like using a pensieve (see: Harry Potter).

I had a big paper due Friday.  The song was Waves, by Mr. Probz.  Incredibly soothing.

Studying for the GRE in January 2014 was Elastic Heart, by Sia, and The Draw, by Bastille.  Both plaintive and a bit haunting.

IM Brazil in 2011 was The Show Goes On, by Lupe Fiasco.  A future-focused pump up.

May 2010 and IM CDA was Airplanes, by B.o.B. and Hayley Williams.  (The two never met in person until performing this song live at the MTV Video Music Awards, after the song had been recorded and released.)

IM Louisville 2009, my first IM that I signed up for 10 days beforehand, was Run This Town, by Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye West.  Obviously.

Writing my "senior thesis" the spring of my senior year in college was a weird collage of instrumental movie theme songs.  I wrote about the technology and federal policy that allowed the U.S. to spy on the USSR during the Cold War.  I basically taught myself to whistle by "singing along" in the library for two weeks.

Shawshank Redemption (just the first half)
Road to Perdition
Last of the Mohicans
The Boondock Saints
LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring
The 5th Element

Fall of my senior year in college was Mama, by Beth Hart.

Fall of my sophomore year in college was Everywhere and All You Wanted, by Michelle Branch, frequently sung with my roommate at the top of our lungs as we compiled assignments for CS 50 (intro programming).  Girls wanting disposable girlie songs to combat a drawn out period of serious pressure and no sleep.

The winter of my junior year in high school was Angel, by Sarah McLachlan.  Who the heck knows, but I listened to it continuously for months straight.  Now they use it to jerk tears in ASPCA commercials.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scratching Post

On Friday I went to the local ASPCA to play with the animals.  Someone told me there are just rooms of animals roaming relatively free that you can play with - and it's true!

When I got there I was a little grumpy.

I looked around a little bit.

I was very suspicious for a while.

I stiff-armed a lot because I wasn't sure of my surroundings.

I wanted to watch rather than interact.

Eventually I got a bit more comfortable.

Soon I wore myself out and needed to sit down.

Which was a bad idea because then I was covered with animals and stuck sitting on a concrete floor for an hour and a half.

Being a pillow (and a scratching post to a 2-month-old kitten aptly named Freddie Krueger who climbs you like a tree) is tough work.

Sadly I didn't see these two there.

PS - Mr. Haugh, if you are reading this, I totally had permission to take that sweatshirt off of school property....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Step Right Up

Two experiences this past weekend starkly highlighted what has been a developing anecdotal observation since I started swimming with my age-group team here.

The seed was planted when my first couple of weeks of practice contained more all-out swimming (or all-out of any physical activity) than my entire previous swimming experience combined.  Most of it was off the blocks, meaning the diving start of real swim races, and all of it was supposed to be as intense and focused as real swim races.  I was nearly overwhelmed with the anxiety of it - the anticipation, the pressure, the pain - and all were (seemed to be) totally at ease.   In fact, all they wanted to do was 100s all-out off the blocks and all I wanted to do was vomit.

Several months later I'm all "you want me to do x, y, z all-out?  ok, lets's go on the next top."

But the funny thing is that the (slow) change didn't even occur to me.  Not once.  Until this weekend.

On Sunday I "watched" the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and putting myself in their shoes, vividly remembered the gut-wrenching anxiety of triathlon race starts.

Except that on Saturday I did 12 (!) race-simulation repeats without much hesitation.

Setting aside the different physiological demands of triathlon versus pool swimming that determine their ultimate repeatability, the practice of swim starts and damn-near-close-to-race-intensity swimming is intentional.  A swimmer could start 6 events in one day of a three-day meet in a season of at least 1 meet/month.  Balking really isn't an option.  You need to step right up - and go.

In that moment - and swim starts, it truly is only a moment - you don't want to think.  You want your body to act, almost in reflex, for the entirety of the race.  Therefore, swimmers practice starts, all-out swimming, and get comfortable with approaching each, a lot.

In triathlon, it's not a moment, it's a week, and all you do that week is think.

All that thinking drives some people batty.  {raises hand}

All you do that week is think because you have never practiced or prepared to do anything else.  The reason I was freaking out so much this summer is because in all my years of cross country, soccer, and triathlon, I had never practiced with any real repetition or dedication, the mental and/or physical start of any event.

Sure, a triathlete may only start 6 events all season, compared to the swimmer's 6 per day.  But that only expands the gap between the number of opportunities that type of athlete has to practice starts - a lot vs. six - and the number of those opportunities they make use of to practice starts - a lot vs. none.  And I can't really blame triathletes for not using those fews races to practice because in that moment you aren't thinking "oh, let me practice my mental and physical approach to starting a race."  Most likely because you are too busy thinking "I am so scared and nervous and afraid, what the hell did I get myself into?"

Swimming is preparing me to be fearless in a way I never have been before.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You May Now Address Me As Professor Beebe


Today I taught my first class.  Of all the physical activities classes that I would actually be qualified to teach, I am teaching a class in basketball.  Thirty undergraduates are relying on me to teach them the basics and intricacies of basketball twice a week, for the next ~16 weeks.

Basketball is the game on ice they play with sticks, right?

Kidding!  I do know more about basketball than that.  There is no ice, there is a ball, and it's white and made up of stitched panels.

Wait, there aren't stitched panels?  That's soccer you say?  I do vaguely recall that from when I played in college 10+ years ago.  If that's the case, then I'm not remembering back far enough.

Oh, there it is.  The last memory I have of playing competitive basketball.  In it I'm not much shorter than I am now, but I am much younger than I am now.  That would be because this memory is from 1995.

Clearly I am ready to knock this curriculum out of the park.

Huh?  That metaphor alludes to baseball you say?

Ok, then I'm fully prepared to knock this curriculum down.

Hmmm, I think that's boxing...

Someone corrected "Professor Beebe" to Professor BeeBall.

And thus, my rapper name was chosen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chocolate Pudding and Mermaids

Yesterday was my first swim practice in almost three weeks, and of the fall short course season.  The thing I find most interesting about the return from long breaks is that water only feels like water after you have been away from it for a while.  Otherwise, it feels like chocolate pudding.  Or better yet, sand.

Water that feels like water is thin.  You push against it, it lets your arm slip right through.

Water that feels like chocolate pudding is thick.  You push against it, it pushes back.

The ideal feel of swimming was once described to me as similar to elbow-crawling through sand, like you see on military obstacle courses.  No wonder swimming is such a lat-focused movement.

I celebrated the return to swimming and thin water with several much needed new suits.  One is a metallic turquoise mermaid print suit lined in pink - so not me and I love it!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bring It Home Fellas

And with that The Best Of The West Tour: Summer 2014 comes to an end.

The last two days have been steady driving across half each of Colorado and Indiana, and all of Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois.  These finals days bring the total trip mileage to 6,633 miles, or more than twice across the continental United States, and the total hours of driving to ~131.

It was one hell of a whirlwind of a sampler platter of the Western United States.  But now I know what I want to see again and in more depth.  Highlights include:

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.  I sure enjoyed taking them and think I did pretty good job considering that at least 80% of them were taken from a moving vehicle.  I guess that is what happens when you travel for two weeks (plus 6 hours) and of the 342 hours in those weeks, 131 were spent driving.

Now back to our more regularly scheduled programming: grad school.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Golden Arches ™

Our probably last national park visit is Arches, just outside of Moab, UT.  Unfortunately it was a bummer of a day to visit: we watched the sun rise on The Windows and then never saw it again.

My own geology lesson for the day was the difference between a natural arch and a natural bridge.  A bridge is formed by a running water, so the rock spans the water and the water eats away at the bases of the sides, while an arch is more traditional erosion of frost, wind, and occasional water separating softer, less stable materials, from harder materials.  In Arches' case, this is salt and sandstone.

Rain finally drove us out of the park and town so we headed east along a scenic route to Colorado Springs.  At Frisco we turned south toward Breckenridge.  With a different tour bus, I would have gone over the unpaved Boreas Pass to Como, the route of an old narrow gauge railroad, but instead we took Hoosier Pass to Alma, the highest incorporated town in the country at 10,578.  [Leadville is the highest incorporated city.  Details details.]

Standing on an ironic mountain in pouring rain

Turning north at Fairplay, passing Como and the Boreas Pass road, we headed to Jefferson, and a right turn onto Tarryall Road (Hwy 77).  Tarryall Reservoir is like the Garden of Eden hidden among the high desert.  Eventually we joined the more traditional highway into Colorado Springs and bombed down past Pikes Peak.  What a final exclamation point on our time in the mountains.

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