Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Raptors have arrived!

The F-22 Raptors? They're here. And tomorrow I get to sit and chat with Raptor pilot Maj. Paul "Max" Moga. I'm excited. Although I had to promise my boss that I wouldn't try to hide in the jet and fly away.

I was supposed to do it today, but then I had a problem getting across the runway.

Because there was a plane crash. An amateur homebuilt airplane stalled in the air and crashed just before the runaway. And two people are dead. So I had to change my plans for the day.

But I did take time out to watch the air show when the Raptor flew. And it was cool. And it gave me chills. And I took a little video. But it really doesn't do the Raptor justice. It is so much cooler in real life. So if you ever get a chance to see the Raptor fly? Watch it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

I read a bit

I can't believe July is done. Where the heck did the first seven months of the year go?

I dunno. But I do know that I managed to read a little bit this month. I finished four books, totaling 1,083 pages. That brings my total to 28 books for the year and 9,057 pages for the year. Not too bad.

So what'd I read? Take a look.

Lost by Gregory Maguire
Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swofford
A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis by Pete Sampras and Peter Bodo
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

And I have exciting news. I actually get to dip into the pile of books I have that has been steadily growing over the past few months. Once I actually get the energy to read, I'm going to start reading Water for Elephants, which has been sitting on my pile for a year. Yes. A year. And before I actually purchased the book? I had checked it out from the library not once, but two times. And I still haven't read a page. But it's going to get read. I'll finish it in the next month if it kills me. Because I've heard it's good. From a lot of people.

They're coming!

The Raptors are coming! The Raptors are coming!

They will be loud. And fast. And if you blink? You just might miss them.

In just over two hours they'll be here. And then I get to talk to their pilot. I'm a happy Badgergirl today.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

If they could have, some would have been dancing in the aisles

If you're ever looking for me, one place you won't find me is at a movie theater.

I just don't go that often. I can't justify the price. And there are about a million other things I'd rather do that sit in a theater for hours watching a movie that I don't even know if I'm going to like. Besides, I'd rather rent a movie, or borrow it from the library. That way I can watch it when I want and in my comfy sweats.

But last night, I ventured out to a movie theater for the first time in a long time. Seriously. I think the last movie I saw in a theater was Finding Nemo. In 2003. When I was living in a completely different state. I'm not kidding.

Last night I stepped foot in a theater though. My friend Amanda from the 'burg came to visit and after we got some dinner we headed over to the movie theater to see Mamma Mia! I'd already seen the Broadway version of the show when it came to the PAC a couple of years ago, but I was game to see the movie version.

Besides, who can pass up ABBA tunes? Fun stuff.

The movie? It was good. Just like the stage version. Lots of good music. Lots of dancing. And who can forget about the many extremely good looking boys - including the fabulous scene where they're all outfitted in swim trunks, swim fins, goggles and snorkeling gear?

It was good. Worth the $7 I paid to get into the theater.

Now the movie theater popcorn? That I had a bit of a beef with. Not so good. And definitely not worth the $5.25 I paid for a small popcorn. Oh well. Maybe the next time I take in a flick at a theater the popcorn will be better.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This was the song that never started

When I run, there's two things I need.

My running shoes and my music.

I must have both. Without one? Running is a bit difficult. Seriously. Running barefoot? Not so fun. And the music? It keeps me going and makes the time go by quicker.

Today I was given a reminder of just how important that music is. As in, I ran today WITHOUT my iPod. Not on purpose of course. It was more along the lines of, I got to the locker room at the YMCA and had one of those "Oh crap" moments when I realized that my iPod was still packed away in my work bag, which was sitting in my car. And I was just too darn lazy to go back to get it.

So I decided to run without the tunes.

And it was hard. And I didn't like it.

But the triathlon didn't allow me to use my iPod on the run and I survived that, right? Yes. But see, there were people to talk to. Fellow athletes to cheer on. People standing along the course giving you high fives and words of encouragement. In other words, there were distractions and other things that kept me running.

At the YMCA? People are all plugged into their headphones. It's silent except for the whirring of the cardio machines. The only thing that distracts me? The red numbers on the machine display that tell you how much longer you've got or how far you've gone. And those distractions? Not very motivating since the time seems to crawl by and the miles go by even slower.

Today's run? It was tough. I needed the tunes.

I needed Kanye West to tell me, "That don't kill me / Can only make me stronger" or even Eminem to give me advice about seizing the moment, "You better lose yourself in the music / The moment you own it you better never let it go, oh / You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow / Cuz opportunity comes once in a lifetime."

And while not all of the music I listen to while running has inspirational lyrics, they all have one thing in common. A decent beat. One that makes me put one foot in front of the other. One that keeps me running. And it helps that the lyrics and music distract me. Takes my mind away from thinking about how long the run is or how painful it is.

That's about all I thought about today. How long it seemed the run was taking. How it seemed like I was running eight miles instead of just two. And how it seemed like the little red numbers on the machine were never going to hit 22 minutes.

One thing is for sure, next time? The iPod will definitely be in the gym bag.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I wonder what the record is

I answered questions.

Then they pricked my finger and watched the blob of blood slowly fall.

I got a seat with a view and a pink squeezable rubber ball. Some iodine and another prick, although this time the needle hurt a bit going in.

Then the blood began to flow. And four minutes later, the blood donation bag was full, the Bloodmobile lady was removing the needle and I was on my way to a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of OJ.

Granted I now I had one less pint of blood in my body. But it's for a good cause. And like I said, it took me four minutes to fill up the donation bag.

And maybe I should have thought about that whole less blood in my body thing a bit more when I got home from work. I didn't go running, which was my initial intent when I got up this morning.

No, but I decided it was perfectly OK to go for a 10-mile bike ride.

And now my head is aching just a bit. Probably not completely from the lack of blood, but I'm sure that has a tiny bit to do with it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My best and worst, at the same race

I may not have done anything super exciting during my vacation, but I wasn't a complete bum.

I took a couple of bike rides, went swimming with The Rugrats and met a friend for dinner.

Oh, and I ran my absolute worst 5K ever. And to think, last year at this time, I set a new personal best when I ran the Sunset 5K, a race run in conjunction with Paperfest in Kimberly.

Maybe my awful time had a bit to do with the weather. Since it's a race run in the evening, it was hot. The mercury was hovering in the mid-80s and the dew point? Yeah. Dew points in the 70s aren't so comfortable to sit in much less run 3 miles. So it was hot. And humid. And I was sweating buckets before I even lined up at the starting line.

And let's not even talk about the lack of water. One water station. And normally that would be OK, especially since we passed it twice since it was a two-lap course. But then the race organizers should at least make sure there's plenty of fluids at the finish line. Because they were lacking a bit on the water at the end.

And even though I took a few bike rides earlier in the week and my legs felt OK, while I was running Friday they just felt like a bunch of dead weight. At times, it was difficult to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe I wasn't as recovered from the triathlon Sunday as I thought I was. Mental note to self, the next time you do a tri, make sure not to schedule a 5K for a few days later.

But I ran it. And as much as I wanted to quit, I kept "running." At a very, very, very slow pace. I only stopped to walk once, right near the end when I was faced with the nasty hill to the finish line. But once the finish was in sight, I ran it in.

And I still cringed when I saw the time on the clock.

40 minutes, 30 seconds.


I blame it on the heat. And the humidity. And that I was still recovering from my triathlon Sunday. And besides, my 5K times can only get better from here on out this year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's done already?

My vacation? It's over.

While I didn't do anything super exciting, it was still nice not to have any big plans. A whole week to do whatever I wanted.

And now it's over. And back to the world of work for me.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Chicagoland Danskin Triathlon Race Report

Vivacious. That was my word for the day.

Granted I wasn't vivacious when my alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. and it was still dark outside. Or knowing what I was about to do. Nervous. That's what I was feeling then. But by the end of the day, I was definitely feeling vivacious.

Like I said, my day started early. It sounds silly, but I gave myself enough time for a quick shower. There's something about a morning shower that wakes me up. And at 4:15 a.m. with a triathlon looming before me, I needed to be awake. So I showered and then Mom and I hopped in the car and drove out to the parking area, where I got on a big yellow school bus full of athletes and went to the race site.

Plugged into my iPod, with Kanye West's "Stronger" pumping me up, I set up my transition area. Then the race officials were telling us transition was closed and it was time to head over to the other side of the lake to the swim start.

I had an hour and a half to kill before my swim wave started. So I headed over to the line for the port-a-potty. At that point, I didn't really need to go, but I was sure nerves would kick in and by the time I got to the front of the line, I need one. So I waited. And waited. And waited some more. But I chatted with the women standing near me and I even met Running Jayhawk, who gave me some good words of encouragement: Good luck and remember, have fun.

Then I headed down to the lake to test out the water and warm up a bit. And before I knew it. It was time to become a triathlete.

The Pep Talk
Heading into the water for the swim start, I started to get nervous. But I got my high-five from Sally Edwards, who then lead us in our pre-race pep talk. Wearing our light blue swim caps, our wave was going to be a group of women who were vivacious swimmers, vivacious bikers, vivacious runners and vivacious triathletes. We jumped around and handed out high-fives, telling our fellow competitors "You go girlfriend."

Then the countdown from 10 began.

The Swim
I'm not going to lie. I swallowed a lot of lake water at the swim start. It was crazy. A group of 100 women taking off for a half-mile swim all at once? It gets a little crowded. Legs kicking. Arms flailing. People trying to swim. The swim angels handing out noodles. It was crazy. I should have just hung back a few moments, wait for the craziness to clear out a bit. But by this time, the nerves had been replaced by adrenaline.

I wanted to swim. I wanted to conquer this triathlon.

So I swam. Once I hit the first platform, it had started to clear out a bit. It wasn't as crowded and people weren't swimming into each other anymore, well except for an occasional stray swimmer who was swimming in the wrong direction. I alternated between freestyle and a backstroke during the half-mile. I just kept swimming. And eventually the swim finish was in my sights.

And the madness from the start? It came back. Once again you had swimmers who were swimming over each other or swimming into you. Occasionally you'd get kicked. But I made it to the shore, stopped swimming and ran up the sandy beach to the transition area.

The swim? It was done.

Transition 1: Swim to Bike
As hard as I tried, I couldn't dry my feet off and put on my shoes and socks standing up. So I had to find a little piece of cement to sit down on. Which I did. Then I threw on some shorts, a tank, bike helmet and sunglasses. I grabbed part of my Clif Bar and my bike and I was off.

The Bike
After the swim, it felt good to be on the bike. There were no stray arms hitting me or kicking me. It was just me and my bike. And we're good friends. So I wasn't worried about the 12.4 miles that stretched before me. The course took me out of the park and onto the Kenosha County roads.

Remember how I wasn't what kind of course to expect? Hilly or flat? Well, that question was answered right away and we headed uphill almost immediately. But it wasn't too bad. I was biking along, passing folks every so often and maintaining a decent pace.

Then we hit mile 7 or so. And it got a little windy.

Like 30 mile per hour windy. And suddenly I was looking at biking into this wind for the remainder of the ride. Hmm. This could be difficult I thought.

But then Sally's words came back into my mind: I will be a vivacious biker. I can do this. And the words that Running Jayhawk told me started echoing through my head: Have fun. What I was worried about? This was just a random Sunday morning bike ride. And it happened to be a little windy. I could handle it.

I kept pedaling. And I kept getting closer to the park. And all of a sudden there was just one hill standing between me and the end of the bike ride. I'm not going to lie. That hill? It was nasty. I mean think about it. Uphill. Into 30 mile an hour winds? Not easy. But I kept pedaling. And even though it felt like I was crawling, I kept my spirits up and kept repeating "I am a vivacious biker" to myself.

And before I knew it, I was at the top. And you know what they say, what goes up must come down. And going downhill is so much easier than going up. Before I knew it, I was back in the park, dismounting my bike and heading back into transition.

Two down, just a run was left.

Transition 2: Bike to Run
The hardest part here was trying to find a place to rack my bike since someone else's bike was occupying the spot where my transition area was set up. Luckily, there was a spot about two bikes down from where I was supposed to rack it.

The Run
After swimming and biking, my legs were starting to feel like lead. Although I hadn't done a ton of bricks during my training, I knew this would happen though. So I took it slow. Very slow. At times it felt like I could walk faster than I was running, but I just kept plodding along.

The 3 miles seemed like some of the longest miles I've run. And there were times when I just wanted to stop running and walk. But I was determined to run every single mile. So I kept running. One foot in front of the other. The only time I stopped was when I walked through the water stations, because it's a lot easier to drink water, and pour it over your head, while walking.

And the guy who was manning the garden hose near the baseball diamonds? That felt good to run under. Thank you.

Pretty soon I was rounding the last corner and I was on the home stretch. The crowds along the path started growing. It was crowds of spectators and athletes who had already finished the race. And they were yelling words of encouragement and little kids were holding out their hands, wanting a high-five.

My pace quickened a bit and I gave out some high-fives and smiles.

And then the finish line was in my sights. And I kicked it into high gear, mustering a sprint to the finish line, where Sally Edwards was waiting with my second high-five of the day.


Sitting here 24 hours later I still can't quite describe what it felt like to cross that finish line. I had a sense of accomplishment. Knowing that I set a goal for myself and followed through with all the hard work needed to achieve it. And there was a sense of pride, knowing that I'll always be able to call myself a triathlete.

Yet at the same time, while it was hard, I know there are people who have it harder. Like the cancer survivors who participated. Or the 74-year-old woman who finished her swim, crashed on her bike, went to the hospital and got five stitches before coming back to finish the race.

Thinking about all of those things, I think Running Jayhawk summed it up best Sunday morning. It was all about having fun.

And I did. The women that I met were amazing. The experience was fun. And I look forward to doing it again.

For two hours Sunday morning I was vivacious.

A vivacious swimmer. A vivacious biker. A vivacious runner. A vivacious triathlete. And I had fun doing it.


So I wrote about the triathlon experience, but I bet you're wondering about the numbers. Like I've said in the past, the time isn't what matters to me. It's just that I finish. And I did. But numbers are nice to look at as well.

Swim: 20:42
T1: 6:29
Bike: 54:06
T2: 4:00
Run: 40:59
Total: 2 hours, 6 minutes, 19 seconds
Place: 2,826 out of 3,650

The numbers are about what I was expecting. I was shooting to finish somewhere around 2 hours, which I did. And the times are about what I did in training. Well, the run took me a lot longer than a normal 3-mile run. Then again, I don't usually go for a 3-mile run after swimming and biking, so my legs weren't really used to it.

But it gives me room for improvement. And I can always use another excuse to have fun again next year. Because I think I'll be back.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

You can call me a triathlete

I survived!

And I didn't even get kicked in the face during the swim. The stomach, yes. The face no.

It took me 2 hours, 6 minutes and 19 seconds.

I'll take it for my first attempt at a triathlon.

Details, and maybe pictures depending on how well Mom did with the camera, to come later.

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's almost here. Am I ready?

The training is done. My bag is packed with everything I (think) I need.

All that's left for me to do is load my bike onto my car, stop at the gas station to put a little bit more air in the tires and point my car south to Pleasant Prairie, Wis. tomorrow where I'll go through all the registration and pre-race stuff.

What for you ask?

That whole triathlon thing. It's Sunday. As in 48 hours from now I'll be a triathlete. Unless of course I die during the race. But I don't think I will. At least I hope I won't.

There are so many emotions running through me right now. I'm scared. I'm nervous. I'm excited. You name it, that emotion is probably running through me right now.

As for the training that I did? Part of me feels prepared. The bike? Considering I've fallen in love with my new set of wheels, I'm pretty sure I'll be OK on the bike, except if the course is really hilly. I know I've put in the time at the pool. But there's still part of me that wonders if it was enough. The run? That's where I'm worried the most, which is odd since I ran a half-marathon in September. But I've been doing some major slacking in the running shoes, so 3.1 miles at the end of a triathlon could be a huge undertaking.

And let's not even talk about the uncertainty that's running through my head, mostly due to the fact that I've never even seen the course. So I don't know what kind of terrain to expect. Is it going to be hilly? Flat? A combination? I haven't got a clue. Looks like I might be scouting out the course tomorrow afternoon to ease those fears a bit.

I have a goal time in my head. But I'm going to keep it there. I've put the monster that lives in my head to good use, entrusting my goal finish time to him. My biggest goal is just to finish. Honestly, time doesn't really matter to me, especially since this is my first tri.

And then I remember to look at the big picture. That it's for a good cause, one that's affected my own family, breast cancer research. And it makes me feel good knowing I'm helping someone out in my own little way and that there are worse things that I could be going through other than a half-mile swim, 12.4 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run.

Good luck to all who are taking on the Danskin triathlon this weekend - including Danielle and Running Jayhawk and anyone else I may have missed!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I did it!

Good news. The bathroom? It's sparkly clean.

When I got home from work, I was soaking wet. Mostly because I got caught in a torrential downpour where the rain was coming down in sheets. And since I was wet and had a new shower liner in my possession, I figured I should just suck it up and clean the bathroom.

So I did. The worst part was actually putting the new shower liner up. Mostly because it's a pain in the butt. But I installed it. And I don't think any curse words escaped from my mouth. I guess sweeping up all the long hair that I've shed over the past two months or so was a pain in the butt as well. But that's because I saw the amount of hair I've lost. Not just from regular daily shedding, but from the nasty medicine I'm on as well. That's a whole other story though.

The point is. The bathroom's clean.

Granted once I finished I got it dirty again. Because boy did I need a shower. But it's still cleaner than it was this morning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Anybody know a good cleaning service?

I'm not a slob. Really. I'm not.

But I'm not a super clean freak either. I don't mind if my junk mail piles up on the counter for a week or so before I get around to throwing it away or shredding it. And as long as the dirty dishes are hidden in the dishwasher, I don't care if they don't get washed for a week. And once a week is plenty when it comes to pulling out the vacuum cleaner.

I like to think of it as a "lived in" looking style. I don't think I could handle living in my apartment if it was so clean it sparkled and looked as though no one lived there.

That being said, my apartment? It's in need of a good cleaning. And I'm dreading it.

Actually, there's only one part left that needs a good scrub down. Over the past few days I've managed to tidy up the rest of my apartment. It's just the one area left that I keep avoiding.

The bathroom.

I shudder when I think about it. I hate cleaning the bathroom. Despise it. Loath it. You get my point.

Normally I can keep it in semi-clean shape by pulling out the broom to sweep up the hair and giving the counter a quick wipe down. But this time? This time it looks like a war zone. And it's totally not all my fault.

Well, maybe it is. But I blame it partly on being sick for three weeks when the cleaning time came. And once I felt better? Well, then the shower drain was clogged (again) due to the whole long hair thing. And my landlord took his sweet time coming over to unclog it. And while I could have partially cleaned my bathroom while waiting for the shower to get unclogged, I figured why have a half clean bathroom?

So I kept putting it off.

Then the shower finally got unclogged but then I went on the spree of 11 straight days of work. And who wants to clean after working for 11 straight days? Not me.

So it's still dirty. And I'm still avoiding it. My excuse now? I mind as well wait until I get a new shower liner, which became kind of nasty during the whole clogged shower thing, because why have a sparkly clean shower if the liner is dirtier than a pig after it rolled around in a mud bath?

Hopefully it'll get done tomorrow. Because I really don't want to deal with coming back from a week of vacation to a grimy bathroom. Besides, I'm running out of excuses about why it's still not clean, I don't have anyone else to blame and the dirtiness is starting to bug me just a tiny bit

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The monster wasn't grumbling about the bike

Normally I'm not one to complain about weather. I understand living in Wisconsin summer is short, so I should enjoy it while it's here.

And most of the time I can handle the weather. But the combination of high temperatures and humidity? Not so fun. It's uncomfortable. And I just have a little tiny window air conditioning unit that kinda of works (hey, I got spoiled with the central air conditioning at my parents' house growing up).

But my biggest problem? The monster that tends to take up residence in my head? He really doesn't like the heat and humidity combination. And then he gets a little angry and cranky. And the head starts to hurt. And that's not good.

So the last few days I've been dealing with a bit of a headache on and off. But I've managed. Since it was nasty outside yesterday, what with the rain and the mugginess, I opted for the YMCA where I hit the treadmill, pounded out 2.5 miles and sweat so much it felt like someone poured a bucket of water over me. Of course, it didn't feel so bad when I jumped in the pool for a quick swim.

But by the time I left work today, the humidity had broken a bit. So I hopped on my bike, pressed play on my iPod and listened to some John Mayer as I pedaled for 12 miles. It was a good ride. I enjoyed it, except for the 5 minutes I spent waiting for a train to go through. The only bad part? Towards the very end, the monster in my head started getting a bit cranky, probably due to the weather and the fact that I should have drank a bit more water.

He's calming down now. Just an occasional grumble. And if he doesn't disappear in a few hours, I'll just remember to drug myself up before going to sleep. That'll teach him a lesson.

And besides, it was too nice, minus the lingering humidity, to skip an opportunity for a good bike ride.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Triathlon Training: Week 11

Um, where have the last 11 weeks gone? They seemed to fly by really fast and all of a sudden, I have just a handful of days before the triathlon.

That's crazy. And scary. And exciting.

And a whole other post. Which I'll write at some point this week.

But now? A recap of Week 11 training.

Monday: 10 mile bike
Tuesday: 6 mile bike
Wednesday: 3 mile run
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 18 mile bike
Sunday: Rest

It was a bike heavy week. But I was dealing with that whole sore calf muscle thing. I'm happy to report that it's feeling a lot better now. No more pain. So I can finish off my last week of training and head into the triathlon without having to worry about a bum calf muscle.

Just a few more days. I can't believe it.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Today we celebrate our independence

The fireworks. The parades. The barbecues. A day in the sun.

However we do it, today we celebrate the Fourth of July. Our country's independence.

For me? The celebration got off to a bit of an early start with a trip to WIR last night to watch my cousin race and then the night was capped off with a fireworks display. But sadly, I had to head back to the City on the Water since I'm pulling holiday reporter duty. I can't complain though. My assignment? Cover the city's Fourth of July parade.

And while it might be easy to forget with all the holiday festivities, while watching the parade this morning, which included a bunch of veterans groups, I was reminded what this day is all about. Our freedom. Our independence. And those things didn't come easily to us. Or without a cost. And today I'm thankful for those freedoms, and those who helped give them to us.
Once my work day is done - which by the way will be the 11th day in a row that I've worked, it's time for a break - I'll point my car north and head up to a family gathering for food, fun times and another fireworks display.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

It hurt, but I still ran

I haven't run in over a week. My calf still hurt. And my triathlon's quickly approaching.

Doesn't sound good to me. In fact, it's a bit concerning.

But this morning when I woke up? My calf didn't hurt too badly. I thought I'd try to sneak a run in. Since it was supposed to be hot, humid and stormy today, I packed my gym bag and lugged it with me to work. I figured I would try to get in a 2 or 3 mile run on the treadmill. Besides, that way if I started running and it hurt too much? I'd only have to walk downstairs to the locker room and then to my car rather than having to walk more than a mile home with a gimpy leg.

Maybe it was because I was sitting at my desk most of the day, but once I got up to leave? My leg hurt. And then I started to worry. And I seriously considered skipping the run and going home. But I didn't. I went to YMCA, laced up my sneaker and hit the treadmill.

And I ran. It didn't hurt too badly either once I finally started running. I was even able to incorporate a little bit of speed work into the run. I ended up logging 3 miles in about 32 minutes. I admit, I didn't run straight through, there were a few times, OK maybe 5 or 6, where I did that whole put your feet on the sides and just watch the treadmill belt keep turning thing. But that was usually after I upped the speed for a bit.

The run itself wasn't bad. If my leg didn't hurt, I don't think I would have had as many breaks.

In the back of my mind I might have been hoping the run would make my leg stop hurting all together. But it didn't. It still hurts. So I guess it's some more Tylenol and ice tonight. And hopefully someday the pain will go away.

I'm just happy. I logged a run. And I didn't die. Let's hope I can keep it up for another two weeks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

They really meant I got to pick a prize.

I swung by the library after work tonight to pick up my prize.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I thought I'd end up with a funky bookmark, sticker, pencil or something else.

So when I went over to the information desk and told them why I was there, I was a bit confused when she grabbed a set of keys and asked me to follow her. I did. Right over to this big cabinet that she unlocked and told me I could pick anything from the top two shelves.

There were no stickers or bookmarks.

It was two shelves full of books. And CDs. And a T-shirt was stuck in there. I was overwhelmed. I didn't think I'd get to choose an actual book or CD. And I felt like I was sort of rushed. I mean, the lady was waiting for me to make a decision so she could go back and man the information desk.

As I scanned the titles, I asked her if she had any suggestions. She pointed out one author and said he was a good suspense writer. Wasn't feeling it. One title caught my eye, I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. But I didn't want to pick it since I've read it already and it's somewhere in my apartment. So I kept looking. The CDs didn't jump out at me either.

I didn't want to chance it by choosing a book by an author I've never heard of. I was getting worried. Here I was, able to pick out a prize and I couldn't make a decision. And the lady was waiting for me.

Then I saw it.

It was kind of hidden in the back of the cabinet. And a green T-shirt was kind of obstructing its view. But it was hard to miss the familiar green onion logo. Yes, a collection from the Onion.

I was looking at Dispatches from the Tenth Circle: The Best of the Onion. I grabbed it. Seriously, how could I leave it sitting there? Do you know how many issues of the Onion I read before lectures began while a student at Wisconsin? Heck, sometimes if the lecture was really bad (and really big), I'd even read the issue while the professor droned on.

So that's my prize. Good stuff from the Onion. And I'm happy with my prize. I'm sure it'll be good reading.