Ashley, the Stalker

October 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm (Fun(ny), Life, Rants) (, , )

Ok so as my first post stated, I have made a definite effort this summer to not suck so much at using computers, and I’d say I’ve definitely made some improvements.  I know how to do a lot more cool things than I could before, and I know what a lot of terms mean that I did not previously know.  That, however, is not what this post is about.  This is about yet another reason it sucks to know nothing about computers and the humiliating misunderstandings that can result from it…

I’m obviously new to this whole “blogging thing,” and really wasn’t sure I wanted to do it until my friend, Jackie, convinced me.  Plus, she had a fun blog that I liked reading every now and then, as well as a few other friends of mine.  I figured there was no reason not to.  I didn’t really have much going on this summer besides baby sitting/nannying, anyway, so I knew I’d have plenty of time to figure things out.

So, yes, I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer this summer.  Most of my computer time was spent on search engines, Facebook, Twitter, my dashboard, Youtube, weather.com (my personal favorite), the Furman site, and Pandora.  So my computer (which already drives me crazy) automatically put those sites on my “top sites” screen, meaning basically that a miniature of every one of those pages showed up every single time I got online.  Well, obviously I did not just list twelve site, yet my computer’s top site page has space for twelve.  It therefore automatically fills in the extra space with other sites I “use frequently,” even if that only means once a week or every other week.  I’m obviously not very “computer cultured” so the extra space got filled in with some of my friends’ blogs and my church’s blog.  It wasn’t a big deal to me or anything how my computer chose to fill in the extra space.  I really didn’t care because [I thought] it really didn’t affect me.  I was wrong…

So the day before I had to leave to come back to school, while talking to my friend, he decided he really needed to tell me something.  He first explained that he didn’t necessarily have the same opinion as everyone else (though I had no clue what opinion this was) and that he was going to do his best to explain this particular situation to me “as cautiously as possible.”  I was kind of freaking out at that point, because I had a long list of ideas running through my head of what could possibly be wrong.

He surprised me, however, by going on to ask how often I look at one of our friend’s blog.  I was so caught off guard that I really didn’t even have a clue what to say.  I had no idea how often I looked at different people’s blogs (I really don’t even have that many friends with blogs), and I couldn’t even really remember the last time I had looked at this particular blog.  He went on to explain that there is apparently some way of tracking the IP (internet protocol — yes, I had to look that abbreviation up) addresses of people that look at your blog, and they were just curious as to why I looked at this one so much.

I was obviously humiliated at first, thinking that my friends must really think I have no life and that all I do is read blogs.  I didn’t quite understand why it was so weird to look at the blog once every week or so, but I didn’t want to ask questions, either.  I figured it must have been some computer social rule of which I had just been completely unaware.

Fast forward five more minutes of talking to the point where I find that they apparently think I am reading the same blog multiple times every hour, maybe even somewhere around 100 times in a day.  I don’t really know.

What I soon realized is that because it showed up on my “top sites” screen, which is my homepage, it was showing up that I looked at my friend’s blog EVERY SINGLE TIME I GOT ONLINE ON MY COMPUTER.  Yep, every time.  Every time I looked anything up online.  Every time I checked the weather.  Every time I checked Facebook.  Every time I listened to Pandora.  Every time I logged onto Twitter.  Even every time I got on to update or change something on my blog.  Every time.  Oh, or even if I clicked on one website but then clicked my home page button again so I could choose another.  Yep, it showed up that I was looking at the blog.

So here’s the deal…I was at first completely humiliated by this.  I was so embarrassed that people actually thought I was so obsessed that I was checking the same blogs (most of which don’t get updated more than once a week or so) that many times a day.  I just kept thinking what a sketchy person everybody thought I was.

My next thought, however, was more along the lines of “What the hell was everyone thinking to actually legitimately believe that I looked at someone’s blog at 8:37, 8:43, 8:56, 9:14, and so one throughout just about every day, but still not say anything to me?”  I mean, really?!  My friends legitimately believed that I was stalking one of them…like creepy stalking…for months…and no one told me.  One description given to me was, “Ok, so you know how when you check your email, it will say like ‘1-50’ and then have an arrow to click to the next page of emails?  Well, it would be like 6 pages of you checking his blog before it’d even show a different person.”

Yep, my friends pretty much thought I needed professional help, and yet no one told me.  Plus, they still hung out with me all summer, thinking I was a sketcher!  I just couldn’t believe that

  1. They actually knew me really well (these were some of my closest friends) and yet, knowing my personality, actually had it in them to think “Yeah, if any of our friends was going to stalk somebody, we could see it being Ashley.”
  2. They were stilling willing to hang out with me.  I would be WAY to sketched out to hang out with someone as creepy as they thought I was.
  3. They didn’t mention it to me or anyone else.  I’m just saying, if I ever were that messed up, I would prefer that my friends mention it to someone so I could get help or something.

But yeah…funny…weird…awkward…that’s basically how my life works.

And P.S. I have never stalked anyone in my entire life.

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A Rule Follower

August 31, 2009 at 1:26 am (Faith, Life)

I feel like a lot of time when people talk about Christianity, they talk about a set of rules.  Non-Christians may talk about how they see Christianity at least in part as a set of rules they have to follow to make it to Heaven or just to “be good.”  Christians spend a lot of time talking about how non-Christians view Christianity as a set of rules they need to follow.  The Christians then go on to talk about how there’s really so much more and it’s not about a set of rules and, really, the rules that are there are for our best interest, anyway.

I’m not at all the type of person that tries to hide from others what I think.  I’d actually even go as far as to describe myself as both outspoken and opinionated.  When it comes to my faith, I’m definitely not one of those people who stands on the sidewalk downtown screaming at everybody to repent or spend forever in Hell, but I’d definitely be willing to offer others my perspective if I happened to be a part of some theological discussion.

A common example of a “rule based” discussion is when non-Christian and Christian talk about their views on sex before marriage.  I’ve had this talk with plenty of people and have heard all sorts of different views.  I’ve been told you can’t really know if you want to spend the rest of your life with someone unless you know that person is good at sex.  Or maybe that it’s really up to you whether or not you feel like having sex before marriage, but that it’s stupid to just not have sex if you want to simply because God says no.  I of course do the “Christian thing” by replying with the fact that there is really so much more to it than that.  I’ll talk about how two become one and how much more special sex is when you wait.  I’ll also talk about all the different consequences that can come from not waiting like feeling used or dirty.  Or even if you don’t feel used or dirty at the time because you’re at least dating the person, how much more emotional and intimate the relationship instantly becomes and how awful it can end up being if the two people were to break up.

Another example is the idea of drinking under aged.  I feel like there’s this unending debate about why 21 is the “magic age” where people all of the sudden are old enough to drink responsibly.  I have plenty of friends who would explain to me that they drink because if you’re old enough to vote, die for your country, etc, you should be old enough to drink.  Other people talk about how in other countries, where drinking is a bigger part of the culture at a younger age, there is less irresponsible drinking going on.  I was actually talking to one of my close Christian friends the other day about the idea of underage drinking.  I said that I don’t think I’ll necessarily drink any more responsibly at 21 than I would now or than I would have when I was 18.  (Honestly, the idea of getting drunk just isn’t appealing at all to me.)  Basically, the main reason I am looking forward to being old enough to drink is just the fact that my friends who are already old enough to drink (and also chose not to drink before they turned 21) don’t feel awkward have a beer when we’re all hanging out, even though I can’t.  I also went in to explaining that while I think I could very well drink just as responsibly now, I don’t because God calls me to follow the law, and the law says I have to be 21.  I explain that if I were at a party and drank, even if I “drank responsibly,” it would just be very hard for me to witness to others.  How could I possibly explain to someone that I found a Love worth giving everything in the world up for just so I could follow Him, when I’m not even willing to give up a few extra months of drinking?

This post, however, is not about sex before marriage, and it’s not about drinking before being legal to drink.  It’s about the fact that I feel, as Christians, a lot of us tend to follow the “rules” for the wrong reason.  In both of the above scenarios, my opinions stand.  However, I challenge us as Christians to look a little deeper into why we do and don’t do the things we do and don’t do for Jesus.  You know those times when you say or do something and don’t even realize what your real subconscious motivation is?  For me, I think this is one of those things.

How often do I do the “right” thing, the “Christian” thing, for all the wrong reasons?  I mean, yes, my opinions and beliefs behind the way I live my life as I do still stand.  BUT I would be lying to say that the idea of sex before marriage doesn’t at least in some small subconscious way terrify me because one of the consequences could very well be people’s opinion of me changing.  Same with drinking before I’m 21.  Because as a person who isn’t at all afraid to talk about my faith openly, I don’t want to be looked at as a hypocrite.

Here’s the issue: Is it really even any better to do the “right thing” if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.  I mean yes, I obviously want so much to set an example for Christ and for people to see Him through the way I live my life.  But I cannot honestly say I’ve never at some point been motivated to not drink by the idea that Christians and non-Christians alike may take notice in the fact that I am making some sort of a sacrifice for something I believe…the focus being on my sacrifice over why I’m doing it.  I cannot honestly say I’ve never at some point been motivated to take part in some sort of deep or controversial discussion simply because I think my opinion on the particular topic at hand is at least one of the best being offered in the conversation, and I want people to see how full of wisdom and maturity I really am (because you know I basically don’t have anything else to learn about life at my old age of 20).

I mean how terrible is that?!  And here’s the thing, I know that as much as I may go on and on about God’s grace and not judging others, I am completely terrified at the idea of being “found out.”  I think a lot of Christians are.  We don’t want others to know how we’ve messed up in the past, regardless of God’s grace that we’re trying so hard to convey.  Well, why?  Aren’t the stories that we try so to hard to hide from others often the stories that offer the best picture of God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness and love?  So what, I’m willing to tell others that it’s ok and that God forgives them for messing up, but I’m not willing to tell how much He’s really forgiven me?  Sure, I’ll say that He’s forgiven me, but to be honest about how not perfect I really am would just be tragic.

It’s not ok because it limits God.  As much as people may talk about living a certain way just to bring glory to God, I would challenge that if they are  as terrified as I am at times of being “found out,” then maybe part of the motivation is in fact simply to bring glory to themselves.  Maybe, as I have found is the case with me at times, the actual motivation is simply to be viewed as a strong Christian, which honestly means it’s still all about that person, and not our Saviour.

I’m not perfect, and that’s what’s so great about grace.  It’s like the things I’ve done in the past never even existed.  So rather than be worried that people may look upon as a “not as good Christian” because of my mistakes, it’s time to stop worrying about how others view me.  It’s not about me.  It’s not about the rules I follow.  It’s about Jesus Christ, and if He alone is not the sole motivation for everything I choose to do and not do, then it all means nothing.

So…this is definitely kind of scatter brained because it’s been weighing on my heart and I just needed to get the thoughts out.  Still I challenge you, if you are a Christian, to think about what motivates you every day.  Is it really always Jesus?  Or is it sometimes your want to be viewed as a Christ follower rather than just your heart to follow Him?

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Excuses, Excuses

August 18, 2009 at 9:25 am (Life) (, , , )

So as time until I’m back at Furman quickly diminishes, I have been mentally going through the list of friends I meant to keep in contact with this summer, but just never did.  I’ll ask how their summers have been and explain that I’ve been super busy…except that I haven’t been.  Why is it that there always seems to be so many people I’m going to stay in contact with over the summer or when someone moves or when someone does study abroad, except a lot of the time, I don’t?

In actuality, it’s not a question, but more a decision you have to make: Will you stay in contact, or won’t you?  Neither answer is right or wrong.  Everybody gets busy doing stuff the need to do…and often stuff they’d rather do…than call those people they’ve been meaning to call for a while.

Basically, I’m just saying it doesn’t come down to whether you actually have the ability to stay in contact with a person.  If you want to, you can.  Maybe it won’t be easy, but you’re the one who decides whether it’s worth it.  Is that phone call later worth not wasting forever on facebook now?  Of course it’s easy to say, “Sorry I haven’t called in a while.  I was busy studying for three tests and writing to papers and volunteering at a homeless shelter and organizing a campus-wide recycling campaign and saving the world.”  Not as easy to say, “Sorry I haven’t called in a while.  I was busy screwing around on facebook or shopping Victoria’s Secret and JCrew and Ann Taylor online for clothes I don’t need and can’t afford.”  Or maybe you were playing Halo.  Or maybe you were catching up on your eight favorite t.v. shows you just can’t miss.  Or maybe it’s summer vacation, and you actually have no excuse at all.

Regardless of what the crappy excuse is, it still comes down to whether you care enough to at least learn how to better manage your time.  My friend has a theory, with which I completely agree, that college students in general, myself included, are terrible with time management.  We spend days doing an assignment that could be completed in hours and then complain about not getting enough sleep the night before it’s do.  Still not a good excuse.

I’m not saying that anyone is a bad person if lack of time management keeps him or her from a long needed phone call.  I’m just saying people should stop expecting to stay in closer contact with people than they actually will.  If you want to stay in contact with a person…if that person is really that important to you…then stay in contact.  Make the time.  Otherwise, just accept the fact that we all have lives that keep us busy, and that’s just the way it is.

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Taping My Foot to Help My Knee

August 12, 2009 at 8:47 pm (HES, Life) (, , , )

So it took me a couple tries to learn how to tape my foot as the sports chiropractor did, but I finally have it down pretty well.  Hopefully nobody gets too eeked out by feet…

  1. It started by wrapping a piece around my metatarsal area and the ball of my foot, and then another piece the same direction except back around the arch.  That’s basically what you see in the first picture.  These the front piece of tape helps give some sort of stability to my metatarsal area and the back one does the same for my arch.
  2. Two pieces (one on top of the other) begin on the medial side of my foot at the distal end of my first metatarsal, right before my first phalanx (big toe), and wrap straight around my heel to the same place in relation to my fifth phalanx (baby toe) on the lateral side of my foot.  This helps to give some sort of stability.
  3. Then, another two pieces begin in the same spot as in step 2, but they wrap diagonally across the inferior side of my arch, come up slightly, go around my heel, and then straight along the medial side of my foot to end up where they started.  The same is done, except obviously wrapping in the other direction, with two pieces starting and ending on the outside of my foot, before my fifth phalanx.  This helps to keep those mid-foot bones from collapsing downward so much.
  4. Finally, another piece is wrapped again around the metatarsal, and another around the arch.  These should just cover up the first two pieces of tape from step 1.  This gives the extra support of having two pieces, but waiting until the end to do the second layer also helps to hold the other pieces of tape in place.

One might note that the tape used in the pictures is not medical tape.  In fact, it looks an awful lot like electrical tape.  That’s because it is.  Electrical is used in this case because it is more elastic than medical tape, allowing the necessary flexibility for the foot to move around.  Also, when taping, the tape shouldn’t be super type.  It just needs to be placed on the foot, so that the flexibility of the electric tape can actually do it’s job as opposed to if it were already stretched before the foot tries to move.

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A Runner That Can Apparently Hike

August 7, 2009 at 11:58 am (HES, Life) (, , , , , , , , )

So I was so over the two years of not running that I had just decided I would get cortisone shots in my knee and figure everything else out as I went along.  I just wanted to run.  Thankfully, my dad had a better perspective on my popliteal tentonitis issue.  He told me that if I really wanted to get the shots, I needed to have a plan first.  Otherwise, I’d be wasting precious time trying to figure out what rehab I needed to do instead of actually using the time to do the rehab.

We therefore scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries and bone extremities.  Of course we knew he’d be anti-cortisone shot, but we wanted to hear him out anyway.  This particular chiropractor had worked with many members of my high school cross-country team in the past and had helped a lot of people recover from injuries they had otherwise thought to be hopeless.  I was still a little skeptical because while even my best friend had had success with this chiropractor, she had never been directly told by a doctor that she’d never be able to run again.  I had.

However, I agreed to the appointment, and I actually learned a lot.

My left leg is apparently shorter than my right, which is part of what is making me lock my left knee every time it hits the ground.  Also, the condyles (basically the knobs at the end) of my femur are apparently not lining up quite right with the condyles of the proximal end (the end closer to my body) of my tibia.  Therefore, every time my knee locks, the bones hit my popliteal tendon, eventually inflaming it.

This somehow has something to do with the way my foot is structured.  I have high arches and had issues with my metatarsals (basically think of the knuckle part of your hand, except on your foot) all through high school.  I got orthotics to help with my metatarsals sometime around when I was fifteen, but they apparently were shaped in a way that also messed with my knee.  The medial side of the orthotics is basically a really high arch that matches my foot, but then they almost completely flatten out across to the lateral side, therefore not giving me enough support across my longitudinal arch.  Some of the bones in my foot that aren’t getting support (I’m thinking at least the cuboid bone and lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones…maybe even my calcaneus and talus) are basically collapsing downward every time I step.  That then forces my tibia to come down harder, locking my knee faster and messing with the alignment of my knee condyles.

bonesoffeet_fullsize

So first my chiropractor did something where he kind of pulled my knee back into place because it was so jammed together.  I could instantly tell a difference in the strength of my leg from this.

Then he taped my foot, giving my arch more support and kind of keeping my bones in place.  He told me to just see how it felt for a couple days and let him know at our next appointment.

(It is important to note that I walked the Peachtree Road Race (6.2 miles) with a friend less than a month ago and was limping for a few days after because my popliteal tendon was so inflamed.  The same was the case after I went to Cedar Point with my family.  My knee has even been irritated from trying to stand too long, like at a football game.)

Well, I forgot to mention to him that I was going on a camping trip that weekend, where I would be hiking five miles each way, with a thirty pound pack on my back.  It ended up not mattering, because I didn’t even think about my knee one time the entire weekend…because it didn’t hurt once!  Definitely a big improvement!

I’m not saying my knee is all better, because it’s definitely not.  I’ve still had some inflammation since my last visit with my chiropractor (the visit following my hiking trip).  I still can’t run, and I still think that I want to get cortisone shots.  That being said, this is definitely a step in the right direction, and it’s helping to understand why my knee has the problems it has and therefore what I can be doing to help it.

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Pretty in Pink

August 3, 2009 at 11:02 am (Life) (, , , , )

Just something pretty to make you happy inside.  I took this picture on a camping trip last weekend, and it was basically the only thing I saw the entire time that wasn’t just green and brown.  It was kind of cool, though, because the flower was so little and yet stood out so much.

100_1509

I don’t know a single girl who wouldn’t love to stand out in a crowd the way this flower did in the forest, pretty in pink.

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My City Obsession

July 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm (Fun(ny), Life) (, , , , , )

About six months ago, I had never driven into Atlanta.  In fact, I really hadn’t spent any real amount of time in a big city.  I grew up inside the “Alpharetta bubble,” and then I went to college inside the “Furman bubble.”  Not that I don’t love Alpharetta and Greenville, because I truly do.  It’s just that I spent 20 years imagining every big city to be just like Gothem City from Batman.  I was wrong.  Atlanta (and big cities in general) has definitely earned a special place in my suburban heart.  Now, I can’t even imagine my life without Atlanta.  The friends I’ve made there and experiences I’ve had there are completely irreplaceable and unforgettable.  Thank you to everyone that’s been a part of that.

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta

(Picture taken July 29, 2009)

Plus, I don’t think anyone can deny how incredibly beautiful Atlanta looks at night.  I love it.

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A Runner That Can’t Run

July 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm (HES, Life) (, , , , , )

I am a runner.

I have not run in two years.

Why?

I have popliteal tendonitis.

I’m sure it’s no guess that popliteal tendonitis (also spelled “tendinitis”) is the inflammation of my popliteal tendon, but what does that really mean?

The popliteal (also called popliteus) muscle is a small muscle on the posterior (back) side of the knee.  It begins on the medial (inside) posterior side of the tibia and wraps around and up into the popliteal (or popliteus) tendon. The popliteal tendon then passes through the knee capsule and connects at the lateral (outside) epicondyle of the femur, basically the outside of the outside knot of my femur where the knee joint meets.

Anterior View of the Knee

Popliteal tendonitis occurs from overuse of the popliteal tendon.  Not surprising.  More specifically, the popliteal tendon is my last form of support to keep my knee from hyper-extending.  When all the little muscles in my knee get so fatigued that they can no longer give my knee the support it needs when I land, all the pressure is directed to my popliteal tendon.  The issue is with the extension and landing.  That is why my knee is most easily and intensely aggravated from going down hills.

My doctor told me that a case of popliteal tendonitis as refractory as mine meant that I wouldn’t be able to run again.  End of story.  Well, that may be the end of his story, but I’ve decided it is certainly not going to be the end of mine.

Most articles will say that the best solution for popliteal tendonitis is the basic heat/ice switch-off, accompanied by rest.  Well, I’ve had two years of heating, icing, and resting.  I’ve also gone a step further and taken the ultrasound approach.  Nothing.  So I’m left with one last option.  Cortisone  shots.  This will lower the inflammation in my knee and decrease the pain.  I should be able to run.  It’s true that this is only a temporary fix, and it’s certainly not a procedure I can repeat many times.  It might last a year, no longer.  However, case studies have shown that in some instances, the lowered inflammation and pain from the shots may enable me to do the necessary rehab to strengthen my knee and the muscles throughout and around it so that I can run even after the cortisone has worn off.  So that I can run permanently.

This rehab will include plyometrics, squats, and other exercises to focus on my gracilis, adductor longus, sartorius, and a ton of other inner and outer leg muscles.  Basically, if the muscle exists, I’m going to have to strengthen it.

So, the next step is setting up an appointment to get my shots.  I’ve honestly been avoiding it all summer because the idea of stabbing multiple needles into the back and sides of my knee just isn’t that appealing.  However, I’ve decided that going one more year without being able to run eight miles (or even one mile) is even less appealing.

I’ve got the doctor’s number.  Now it’s time to go through with the rest.

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