Hello, friends! How’s your week been? I have today off in celebration of Veteran’s Day, and am writing this as two succulent loaves of Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread bake in the oven. Thank you, Veterans, for the wonderful service you do for this country–and for giving me a morning to devote entirely to baking.
This past weekend, I road tripped out to Columbus, Ohio, to see my fab sister Lisa. The drive is about 6 hours, but it’s through beautiful rollings hills and lots of quaint West Virginian towns. This was my third time making my trip out to Ohio State, and I think the drive gets easier every time.
We had a great few days together, and could not have asked for better weather. I was really nervous about bitterly cold temperatures and gusty winds, but we lucked out with stunning blue skies and mild sunshine.
I was in Columbus for maybe 45 hours, but it was a learning experience for me. I had a number of “revelations” on the trip, which were honestly things I had probably known all along but had never really stopped to consciously admit them. If you are interested, my friends, they are listed below–
Revelation #1: First of all, and perhaps the most unavoidable realization, is that Lisa and I look similar. Lisa and I have had people saying that to us for what feels like forever now, but I’ve always maintained that we have slight, but very noticeable, differences. I think my nose is a little bigger, she has a mole right above her lip, I have a way better butt, she’s taller and has better hair. But when I got home on Sunday and was uploading pictures to Facebook, the automatic tagging system thought we were the same person. It literally took one picture of us, and listed “Jen N” as both people. How spooky is that? I mean, it’s one thing for people with questionable eyesight to think we look alike, but for a computer to think so, too? I was shocked. So, I guess it’s time for me to honestly admit that Lisa and I look more alike than we think–even though I will always be older, more fashionable, and with smaller shoulders.
Revelation #2: Swim meets are boring. Wow, I feel like a traitor for saying this, considering I’ve participated in what probably amounts to 500+ meets, but it is so true. Ohio State was swimming in a quad meet against Virginia Tech, Dennison, and Cleveland State on Friday night, and I was originally really excited to see Lisa and the girls swim. But after sitting on the cold, hard, unsupported bleachers through four heats of the 1000, I wished my water bottle had been full of Johnny Walker instead of water. Absolutely nothing against the Ohio State women, who looked great for an early November meet, but man, that meet was rough. I
think KNOW that I owe my parents a huge thank-you for sitting through not only the Virginia dual meets, but the week long Nationals and Olympic Trials they came to. It’s tough to watch swimming when you don’t know anyone in the pool, and are really not invested in the outcome.
Revelation #3: Ohio State football is intense. I think the whole country essentially knows this, but being immersed into the student section on a beautiful gameday was quite an experience. Lisa was adamant that we catch the band play at the start, so we were able to see the stadium go from half full to sold out. (Fun fact: the Ohio State stadium holds almost twice the population of Pleasanton!) I noticed that every time Ohio State had a good play or scored, the students around us would scream gleefully, high five each other, and dole out bear hugs to strangers. When they calmed down, they would very seriously say to each other “Awesome job, buddy, that really was great,” or “How do you feel, man?? That was huge!” I was laughing to myself because, wait, what did they actually do? They weren’t on the field making plays, they weren’t putting in the practice hours–but they told each other congrats anyways? Very funny and very intense. If I hadn’t been so afraid of them throwing me over the balcony, I might have laughed out loud at their antics. The most the students at Virginia are ever concerned about during a football game is whether they should have snuck in two flasks instead of one, or how to avoid sweating through their nice sundresses. I would say only 4% of the student body has ever stayed for the entirety of a game. So, this live-breathe-die Ohio State football experience was brand new and totally unusual for me.
Revelation #4: I miss swimming. A teensy bit. I think I have secretly known this for a few months now, but it’s a really difficult thing for me to admit. I decided to swim with the Ohio State girls on Saturday morning, since Lisa was going to be at the pool all morning anyways and I could use the workout. I was at once excited and nervous for it, and had spent the weeks leading up to the trip putting in extra “practices” at my local pool. When we started swimming, I realized immediately what I had been craving–intensity. It’s so hard to find any kind of workout now that comes remotely close to offering the intensity that a swim practice has. When Colleen and I do our weekly “swims,” we just put our heads down and swim straight for 45 minutes. There’s no frantic feeling–that if I don’t make this interval, I will have failed the set; that if I don’t give my very best, the coaches will be disappointed in me; that when this practice is over, I will only be 37 days away from ACC’s. I thrived off of that intense energy, and it’s been really hard to find in any other sport or workout activity. I definitely do NOT miss our 4 hour marathon Saturday mornings, but I miss the comradeship we all had in the locker room beforehand, knowing that we would be miserable together for 10,000 meters but would come out on the other side alive and proud of what we had achieved.
In my practice with Ohio State, I found myself repeatedly wishing that I was in the shape I was during college, that I could confidently go over to the distance group and tackle their workout. Even though I was barely chugging along by the end of the two hours, I really enjoyed swimming for a coach and with a big group of girls again. (Of course, I had an awful nightmare on Monday that I was back on the Virginia team and was getting absolutely berated for showing up late to a practice–something I can confidently say that I do not miss.)
Revelation #5: The college lifestyle is hard! Okay, it’s definitely not hard. But let me tell you–coming home late on Friday from the swim meet, and then waking up early on Saturday for practice, then going straight to the game, then going out until 2 A.M. that night–WHEW! I was absolutely exhausted. I don’t know how I ever did it. Partying all the time really takes a lot out of you. But luckily, when my legs gave out on the dance floor and I had a major faceplant, I didn’t know anybody so I wasn’t even embarrassed!
Revelation #6: Columbus is kinda cool. Mama had given us money to go to a really cool tea place on Sunday morning (thanks mom!), and Lisa and I struggled out of bed to be there at 10. It was called ZenCha and was awesome. It’s a little cafe devotedly to specialty teas and their accompanying food. I had an extremely delicious chai and Lisa had her usual caramel latte something something, and we had a most enjoyable morning. I had these cool green tea pancakes that had a red bean paste on them–very unusual, but I actually really liked them. Then Lisa and I walked around the Short North area, and I found myself really liking Columbus. They had a number of really neat vintage furniture shops, and I came close to buying things a few times, but could never fully commit. All in all, it was a beautiful Sunday morning.
Okay, I think I’m out of revelations. Lisa and I had a great weekend, and I can’t wait to see her and my whole family for Christmas. (Also to raid her wardrobe! I have my eye on a particular dress for New Year’s…)
Up next this weekend is a trip to Mt. Vernon (so excited!!) and a potluck with some new friends. Hope you have a wonderful few days off!