Travel

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Happy 40th, Epcot!

I really need to rethink my priorities.

I got tired of answering message after message during Irma (which was our first hurricane as Florida residents), so I started posting #bluedotupdates on my Facebook page. Normally with a screenshot of the current conditions. Of course, hurricanes are hard to predict. They can change course in the blink of an eye. Like, for Irma, it was headed straight for Sunrise, so we decided maybe it would be smart to go north west. Well, Irma decided to go there before we could totally make our minds up. Probably a good thing that we were frozen by fear…

We’re located between Miami and West Palm. Closer to Boca than Fort Lauderdale. We are often in the Cone of Uncertainty. We are often nervous. We are often scared. The #bluedotupdates are often soothing. People know where we are and how we’re fairing. While I can get exhausted thinking about what could happen, and answering the same “Are you guys OK” day after day, I appreciate that people care.

I mean, it’s not like I have many friends… mostly acquaintances. People I want to meet up with when they’re near… then blow me off after making tentative plans. And I get it - I absolutely suck donkey balls at staying in touch with people. I hate the phone, but I would rather talk than text. Texting takes too long and I’m never sure where the conversation actually ends. Quick likes on Facebook are more my speed, but they don’t breed intimate friendships.

I’m a fucking walking disaster.

But anyhoo… that’s not the point.

The point is that I’m Facebook friends with three members of my blood family. Two that I was really close to growing up and one that I became close with recently. M & C are my aunt’s daughters and L is my godfather’s oldest.

I’ll give you one guess as to who reached out to see if I was OK.

I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of being hurt. I’m tired of letting that branch of the family tree live rent free in my head. (...And if you read the archives, I tend to say the same things about my mother.)

The sad thing is that I know therapy would probably help with bits and pieces of that, but every therapist I’ve ever seen wants to dive into the minutiae of my parents’ alcoholism, the physical and mental abuse my mother put me through… and I know that that’s probably the root of all my problems that are outside the scope of the bipolar.

But.

It’s easier to work through that shit here than it is to talk to a complete stranger. I don’t know. Despite everything, I’m still a little protective of my family. Not that they deserve it. (Well maybe my father does. He tried the hardest to do right by me… but the rest of them can go fuck themselves.) Here I can edit my word vomit. Dial back the emotions. Engage in unhealthy behaviours. *shrug*

Maybe I like constantly feeling like shit.

Who knows.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

In other news, and not really in order of importance:

  • We went to Universal last weekend for Halloween Horror Nights. The only house worth the price of admission was the Halloween (1978) house. We had express passes - which is the only way to do the event, tbh - they’re great if we want to do certain houses more than once. (We can justify the cost of those since the HHN ticket is included in our annual pass.) Since we had early access, we were able to get into Halloween before the doors opened to the crowd. And it freaked me the fuck out. (That movie is the only one to consistently scare the shit out of me no matter how many times I’ve seen it. I hear the music and my blood runs cold.) We also got lost in the house. There was one room that was a hall of mirrors and… GAH! That, of course, was the one room we couldn’t find our way out of.  We used the express pass to go through it a second time (when the wait was two-ish hours) and it scared me even more the second time, despite knowing where the jump scares were.

  • I’m running a ridiculous amount of races between now and Wine & Dine: 5K tomorrow, two 5Ks next weekend, a 5K the weekend after that, and a half marathon the weekend after that. Then, I take the weekend off for my first trip back to UConn in years. (And I almost got a room in Storrs before remembering that the football stadium is in East Hartford… I’m close enough to the stadium to walk to the game.) Have I mentioned that I HATE running?

  • My Stetopher fic is a struggle. I haven’t figured out the actual plot yet, so it’s eleven chapters of backstory / exposition. I’m oddly OK with the struggle; it means the characters are more in character than most of my fan fic. I’m also loving bouncing in between the three characters thoughts. It’s a fun project, even if it makes me want to tear my hair out.

  • I’ve taken a break from using italki for Ukrainian lessons. I’m not feeling it right now. I just haven’t found the right teacher and it’s frustrating. I found a (online, yet a true classroom setting) class based in NYC, affiliated with a Ukrainian group that I am familiar with and trust. When I was going through everything with the class organiser, I mentioned my struggles with italki. It boiled down to: there’s a huge difference between a native speaker trying to teach a language and someone who has been trained to teach that as a second language. I looked into teaching English as a Second Language a few years ago, and opted not to because I would essentially have to relearn English. Yeah. No. It tracks. Except now, I’m in the ridiculously odd position of using the Яблуко text for a third class. And, that book has been written in to the point where I have to retype the assignments because I can’t just take a photo of the page. Plus, the paper is C2S so I can’t write in pencil. It has to be pen, and it can only be one type of pen. (Staedtler triplus fineliner, if you must know. It’s the only one that doesn’t smudge… but who the fuck prints a textbook on coated paper?!?!)

    At any rate, we have that basic chapter one conversation: How are you? Fine. (Як справи? (Добре!)) What’s your name? Wendell (Як вас звати? (Вендел)) Where do you live? America (Звідки ви? (З Америки)) What’s your profession? Accountant (Яка ваша професія? (Бугалтер)) How old are you? 47 (Скільки вам років? (Сорок сім)) —and next thing I know, I’m in Beginner Two. ACK!!!! Also, it is an absolute bitch to switch between languages on the keyboard. First world problems?

  • Posted by Matty on 10/01 at 11:56 AM
    #fuckPutincompletely randomFriendspolyglot in trainingrunningTravelUCONNukrainian by bloodPermalink

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Мамо, це не сон!

as seen at St. Mike’s

A photo of Lviv popped up in my Facebook memories today and I abruptly started to cry.

Fuck me. This war needs to end.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

Since someone asked, and it wasn’t really a Facebook post, here is - in a nutshell - my journey. (aka: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU POST THIS UKRAINIAN SHIT ALL THE TIME? Also: fuck you, former friend.)

My grandparents were from a village in Poland, which would become a part of Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine.

They were captured by the Germans and were forced labor in northern Germany, which is where my mother was born.

When she was 3, they came to the US.

She rebelled hardcore against the old school Ukrainians.

There’s a story that I’ve heard a dozen times, that when my mother first brought my father home to meet the family, it didn’t go particularly well. For him.

Supposedly, my grandmother chased him down Pine Lane, waving a broom, and shouting ‘я тебе дам!’ (which translates to “I’m going to give it to you.”)

I think we all understand what exactly it was that my grandmother was going to give him and it certainly wasn’t going to be a bowl of her borscht.

Oh God, to hear about the reactions… you would have thought the world was going to end because my mother married AN AMERICAN.

Anyhoo… they got married in ‘69 and I came along in ‘75.

She tried to get me to go to Ukie School, but I was painfully shy back then and remember being miserable. I can’t remember why I stopped going, but I stopped. With that, my formal Ukrainian language studies ended, and I was left to pick up as much as I could by osmosis.

(It wasn’t very much, as Future Wendell would come to learn.)

So.

1992. Mom died. I became isolated from the Ukrainian community in Hartford, for a bunch of reasons, but that was pretty much the last straw. Then, I got cut off from the woman who practically raised me.

2014? I can’t remember for sure if I decided before or after Russia invaded Crimea, but I was done feeling like something was missing.

I started Ukrainian lessons. I was terrible at sticking to it - and now, *cough* years later, I still struggle with it.

But.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival at Suzy-Q.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival in Toronto.

I hired a company to do my genealogical research and had them arrange a trip to Ukraine.

Then, we went to Lviv and Medvedivtsi.

It was all over for me after that.

Something clicked. It literally felt like a switch flipped. Something in my DNA woke up and it felt like coming home.

Seriously.

I’m in this village where I barely speak the language, standing on a dirt road, and feeling like twelve different types of asshole tourist, but damn, it felt good to be there.

It felt right.

And then I came home, stopped studying Ukrainian, moved to Florida, got fired for being bipolar, and had to deal with all that bullshit.

A few months ago, I decided to pick the language back up. I’m spending more time trying to read Ukrainian and watching Ukrainian videos… and I have been finding all kinds of new music, too.

So. There you go.

Я - українська.

Not at all what I wanted to write, but it’s what you’re getting.

Posted by Matty on 09/25 at 09:57 PM
#fuckPutincompletely randompolyglot in trainingTravelukrainian by bloodPermalink

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Привіт! Мене звати Wendell. Як вас звати?

insert witty comment here

Today’s 5K was a horrendous waste of time.

I was told that the course - up and down the Hollywood Beach boardwalk - was beautiful and shady and quick.

I’ll agree that it was beautiful before the sun came up and there was a nice breeze. I’ll disagree with the shady and quick. As far as I’m concerned, that wonderful shady stretch just meant that the humidity was trapped by the trees that bestowed their shade upon the sweltering masses who decided that running in South Florida is a Good Thing. And, of course, running through soup doesn’t necessarily equate to speed.

It’s the “Fire Hero 5K” - a double whammy because it was held on September 11th - and there were firefighters in full gear running the fucking thing. 3 miles in 20+ pounds of gear. Nope. I wanted to pass out just looking at them.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, most of them not good.

But let’s start with a good one.

My husband and I are firm believers in the fact that a guide book with only take you so far. At some point, you need to put the book down and explore. We spent almost the entire week in Lviv just walking around, just my bad Ukrainian and a city map to make sure we didn’t get too lost… and we had some of the best experiences that way.

Same during this last trip to London. We took the train out to a friend’s so we could meet up and do the Harry Potter Studio Tour together. While we were waiting at the “station” for our ride, we popped into a little cafe right there on the platform. The guy saw our Arsenal caps and… we got an education on Gunner history and lore. AMAZING. (But, he ended up being outshone by the fan seated next to me at Emirates Stadium. I learned… things.)

Also, during this last trip to London, as I so loudly put as we were walking down the road towards Buckingham Palace, WE SAW THE FUCKING QUEEN.

Fun fact - if the Queen (or I guess King, now) is in residence, the Royal Standard flies above the palace. Do not ask me where I learned that. I cannot tell you… it’s like it’s always just been in my head, waiting to be useful. Anyway, the Royal Standard was flying over Buckingham during that trip. We were going to - I think - be tourists and watch the Changing of the Guard again. (I will always try to do the touristy things, but I will not revolve a trip around them unless I absolutely have to.) As we were walking, we were just chit chatting and trying not to run over the stupid American tourists in front of us who were walking stupid slow and buried so deep in their books and maps that they didn’t realise a car was coming towards us. A car that had a flag on it. A flag that just happened to the the Royal Fucking Standard. THE QUEEN WAS IN THE CAR. AND I SAW HER.

I also let anyone within hearing distance know that, “OH MY GOD, THAT’S THE MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN.”

(Shush. Let me have my random moment of being an obnoxious American tourist.)

So yeah… kind of surreal to think that Queen Elizabeth is dead. She seemed… indestructible.

I don’t know. The other stuff that’s been weighing on my mind… I thought I was ready to talk about it, but I’m still not. Two people know about the panic attack at the gas station and the google search that destroyed my Friday night and most of Saturday. Just two… any more and the thought of sharing that kicks up another flight or fight reaction.

I’m not ready to talk about Phoenix Day, or my Ukrainian lessons… none of it.

So, this post was pretty pointless.

I guess most of them are, but this one is even more so than usual.

pssst…. we saw the Queen

 

Posted by Matty on 09/11 at 05:02 PM
#fuckPutinbipolarcompletely randompolyglot in trainingrunningso many fandomsTravelukrainian by bloodPermalink

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Exploration and Discovery

I’d apologise for the impromptu concert I gave on the way home from Orlando, but I’m not sorry.

1) I travelled to Orlando solo to run the inaugural Running Universal 5K and 10K.

I did super well on the 5K, even though it rained. I’ve started taking intervals seriously and they work. I finished the race stronger than I began it, which is saying a lot. I didn’t PR time-wise, but I did pace-wise.

I did pretty well on the 10K, too. Didn’t PR, but I had a blast running through the parks and making friends with a dude in a T-Rex costume. 

I saw a lot of PHRC people and met up with a few before and after the races. Dinner Friday night, Saturday and Sunday I corralled with a Gryffinfriend, yelled “FOR BILL!” with another Claw as she ran past, was jealous of the Puff’s Cookie t-shirt… It was nice to bring the virtual into reality, even if it was for a few seconds each time.

2) Running a 5K and a 10K back - to - back didn’t suck nearly as hard as I thought it would. That’s great news for the Rival Run weekend in April, when I’ll do a 5K, a 10K, and a half over three consecutive days. I just need to get the half under control. And it will be.

3) I finally made a long-awaited pilgrimage to Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

(I have a Challenger/Columbia license plate, so that might tell you a little bit about how important this trip was to me.)

34 years ago on January 28th, I sat in a classroom and watched as Challenger basically disintegrated upon take off.

That affected me more than I could have ever thought possible…

I practically burst into tears the second I stepped onto the property.

That was long before I got to the memorial for the three astronauts who died on Apollo 1.

Long before I saw a space shuttle for the first time.

Long before I saw the memorials to the crews of Challenger and Columbia.

In a weird quirk of timing, I happened to go to KSC on the 17th anniversary of the day Columbia was lost.

In another weird quirk of timing, Ron McNair’s family was on site. His uncle owned a bar in Hartford, CT, and somehow, my father knew Ron. I can’t remember how they met, but I do vividly remember my father’s reaction when his name was read out loud on the news. (McNair was on Challenger’s final flight.)

At any rate, the reveal of Atlantis was super powerful and I burst into ugly tears. As I stood there crying, an employee came over to me and asked if I was OK. (I was so NOT OK.) He told me about how he had worked on all five shuttles and… just a bunch of stuff. It meant a lot to him that he would come over to me and start talking.

Then. I went down to the the memorial area. I cried the entire time I was in the hallway looking at the personal mementos of both shuttle crews. I made the mistake of looking around the corner and seeing a piece of Challenger’s left body paneling and Columbia’s cockpit window frames.

I’m still tearing up thinking about how powerful that was…

 

Posted by Matty on 02/02 at 08:47 PM
#threewordsrunningso many fandomsTravelPermalink

Saturday, November 23, 2019

HOW MANY MILES?


I pr'd this race by FOUR minutes. And came in at a Disney-safe pace.


So.

That half marathon?

Still freaking out.

But.

Today, I did a 5K that I totally wasn't prepared for... and fucking CRUSHED it. (I thought it was next weekend. Whoops.)

Then, I came home from that 5K and signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving day.

So - I'll have done a 5K, a 10K, another 5K, and a half before the Disney half.

If I can continue to perform the way I did today, I'll be pretty happy. I've been stressing about that fucking 16 minute mile pace because my natural pace is about a 20 minute mile. The best I've ever managed on the treadmill was about 17 minutes.

Speaking of, I have this weird thing with the treadmill. I'm afraid of it. Seriously. I've done over 300 miles on the stupid fucking thing and I'm afraid of it.

It's irrational. I get it... but it is what it is. And it is too fucking hot to train outside.

Shit, even today was ridiculously warm and it's NOVEMBER.

So, despite my fear of the treadmill, despite the fact that it's a billion degrees out, and most likely due to a bad case of runner's high... I made the decision that I'm going to re-run all my virtual races in 2020.

It's 550 miles with the double counted races (PHRC/WRC Challenge Medal requirement). That's before adding in all the 2020 PHRC virtual races and any other virtual and IRL races I choose to do. I'm a Perfect Prefect for 2020, but I'm not sure about being a Whovian keyholder again. I did go back and buy all the 2019 WRC medals I was missing - partly to earn the key, but mostly so I could have more bling to open - but I'm not a huge fan of some of the designs. Fandom doesn't have a season, per se, so that doesn't matter.

I've already committed to the Disney half, the Rival Run, races at Universal, and one race locally. I'm thinking about the Miami and Sunrise half marathons, too. I'm assuming that I'll probably do the Naples Pride, Weston 4th and the Bull Run again next year, too.

2020's going to be a busy year.

Of course, 2021 is the Year of the Dopey, so why not re-earn all the medals in the mean time? I'm going to need ALL. THE. BLING. to survive training for a fucking marathon.


Posted by Matty on 11/23 at 08:41 PM
#threewordsrunningTravelPermalink
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