Friday, October 31, 2014

runemployed 07: University of Richmond

In which I try to turn a negative situation into a positive one and explore Richmond in the process.

It's been over a month since I've done one of these posts and, honestly, I've really missed getting out there. (Who am I?) See, I had a terrible case of poison ivy - stemming from a bizarre gardening accident - and I didn't want to aggravate my condition while I was recovering. And when I was ready to come back, rain put the kibosh on some of my planned trips. But in that time I became a member of the Richmond Road Runners (No, really, who am I?) and registered for a couple of races in November, bringing the total for that month up to three. (Stop it. You're scaring me.)

I'm back at it now, though, and what better place to resume this series than my alma mater, the University of Richmond?

Groundskeeper Willie's working overtime.
Though I didn't start matriculating there until 1994, UR was established way back in 1830. (Thank you, Baptists!) I guess some stuff happened before my time, like eventually losing its affiliation with the church and focusing on molding the minds of young men and women decked out in Izod. FUN FACT: while a certain school whose colors are yellow and black has the arrogance to claim to represent the entire city, ours actually has the word Richmond in its name. Plus you have a significantly less chance of getting mugged on our campus.
Insert a "The Waltons" reference here.
Without a doubt, the best years of my life were spent on these grounds. I made several close, lasting friendships and we generated four years' worth of good memories. Oh, and I learned a few things, too. But one thing I wasn't back in the mid '90s was fit. The "freshman 50" hit me hard. Yes, I really committed to that common curse. You should see our dining facility. The Wall of Cereal alone...
Come for the Leadership Studies major. Stay for the beautiful foliage.
I think I can say with authority that one of the things I never did during my time at Richmond was move at pace faster than "hurried mosey." (Okay, maybe if I was late to class I would break into "rushed amble.") Exercise was not a priority. Considering that I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with every meal, you'd think I'd be mindful of that. Nope. So jogging around campus yesterday provided a point of view that was brand new to me.
And that point of view mostly consisted of "Boy, this place sure is hilly." Honestly, I never realized that until doing this run. Sure, Boatwright Drive as you enter campus is steep and twisty, but the other roads on campus never registered that way to me. Earlier this week I signed up to do a 10k here on Thanksgiving morning. What have I gotten myself into?

When viewed like this, the fact that you can't run the lake's circumference bugs me.
Back in my day, the two schools that make up the university - Richmond College for the men, Westhampton College for the women - were separated by Westhampton Lake. Yes, it was like summer camp with textbooks and Milwaukee's Best. Unsure if my old restraining order was still in effect, I kept my run pretty much on the RC side.
Squint through the leaves and you can see my freshman dorm room on the 3rd floor. Good times.
The loop around the lake is a very pretty run. Bonus points if you enjoy looking at water fowl. Sadly, there were no lake dogs there yesterday. I ran past lots of bricks, fallen leaves, and co-eds that (sadly) look like children to me now. Aside from the lake, everywhere I went seemed like I was going uphill, which I probably was. Next time I'll venture over to the Westhampton side and get a feel for its terrain.
There's a pirate joke in there somewhere.
My initial thought for this post's selection from my running playlist was to use a song that was a big part of my college experience. Oh, how I tormented my friends and dormmates with my incessant playing of G. Love & Special Sauce's "Cold Beverage" and Blood, Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel." But this being Halloween time and all, I figured that I should bust out a spooky tune, so I'm going with the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer." There's no personal significance, just a driving beat that'll keep you going. Pretend you're getting chased by Patrick Bateman!

Psycho killer
Qu'est-ce que c'est
Fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa better
Run run run run run run run away
My only legacy.
They say you can't go home again, but I proved them all wrong. In fact, it was really easy. SUCKERS! It was great seeing UR from a new vantage point and recalling some fond memories while doing so. Richmond is beautiful all year round, but especially in the fall. If you don't mind a bit of a climb, I suggest you get out there and enjoy its rolling hills while they're at Peak Prettiness. I'll be back there early on Thanksgiving morning, banking enough calories for me to eat an entire pumpkin pie later on that day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Every Simpson dance now!

When I was invited to my friends Tony and Lauren's Halloween party - in which men were to dress like women and vice versa - my mind reeled at the costume possibilities. My first thought was to go as Marilyn Monroe so I could show off my slammin' new bod. (Sarcastic "Ha!") But then I thought that one was kind of played out. Inspiration struck and I got a great idea. One that would embody one of my greatest passions and reflect what makes me me. So this past Saturday I achieved Peak Simpson Mania and dressed up as Marge Simpson.
I really should've brought a couple of gallons of homemade Pepsi to bring to the party.
I put a lot of time, effort, and money into this costume. Probably way more than I should have, but it paid off. I was a real head-turner. (In a good way, I hope.)
No need to purchase any Blue Dye #56.
It all started with the wig, which also was the most expensive part. At first I was going to go with this one since it was fairly cheap, but I was afraid that the "shiny mylar accents" would look weird, especially up close. So I ponied up a little more and bought this wig. Luckily, I had a lot of Amazon gift cards at my disposal (thank you, Bing Rewards!), so it only set me back a few dollars. It came with these bushy sideburns that obscured my face, but they were easily lopped off. To get it to stand up straight I stuffed newspaper up inside it. Voila! Instant Marge hair.
It really accentuated my curves.
The next problem to solve was what to do about the dress. Goodwill was a bust, as were other retail outlets. It's every boy's dream to have his mom make a dress for him and thankfully my wonderful, caring, and talented mother was game. She put a ton of work into making this for me (in between fits of panicked laughter) and it turned out great. The elastic band around the waist really gave me the illusion of having hips. She left room up top to accommodate stuffing. I'm not proud of it, but I wore a strapless boulder holder, which I filled with stuffing material. (I wore my Fitbit in there, too.) All night I was struggling to keep "the girls" up. I now respect your plight, women.
Sensible just like Marge.
Shoes were also a concern. I found a pair at Payless that would've worked, but there was no way I was going to lay down $20 for some flats I'll never wear again. K-Mart came through and had these on clearance for $5. Luckily, with that chain being the ghost town that it is, not many people saw me trying on womens' footwear. Marge's shoes don't have perforations, but that's a compromise I was willing to make for the price. Also these were originally black and white, though that's nothing a few coats of spray paint didn't fix. I kept them on throughout most of the party until the discomfort became unbearable. Again, much respect, ladies.
Heh heh. Pearl necklace.
The last piece of attire I needed was Marge's string of red pearls. Like with the rest of this costume's components, I was fairly clueless about them. My friend Suzanne introduced me to the world of beads and I picked up these perfect red wooden ones and a length of elastic string from Bangles and Beads in Carytown. Unfortunately, I bought too many beads and learned of the store's terrible "no refunds" policy firsthand. You've been warned.
Mommy's little girl.
The right accessory will knock an outfit out the park and it's no different for Halloween costumes. I think this Maggie Simpson doll that I bought on ebay put it over the top.
Winner winner, pork chop dinner!
The costume all came together nicely. So nicely in fact that I won the contest at the party. Initially I tied with a Samantha from Sex & The City. (Who somehow morphed into Joan Rivers during the course of the night.) I emerged victorious from the tiebreaker by one vote. Hey, a win is a win. A big thanks to everyone who voted for me. I dedicate the fancy bottle of Spanish wine that I won to you.

I've long held the notion that one of the things that makes Halloween great is that, in Jim Gaffigan's words, "women use it as an excuse to dress like prostitutes." Now it was my turn to be the belle of the ball. It was the prettiest night of my life, even if it didn't end with my elbows getting nibbled.*

*I'm confident that one of these days my dream of being dressed as a woman and making out with a woman dressed as a man will finally come true.