Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Before I say anything, I really wanna say that if you’re a survivor suffering… please don’t get lost in my moments of despair.

I have an upcoming blog post about what it’s like to be writing about this in semi-real-time vs. my open-heart surgery stuff which I got to have years of reflection on before I ever talked about it publicly.

So, it’s weird. And sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m being irresponsible. Is it better to write through the ups and downs so people can feel like they’re not the only ones on the roller-coaster? Or is it better to finish the story, make *sure* I come out “on the other side,” and write about it from a comfortable distance?

I don’t know the answer to that. All I know is I’m writing what I’m feeling today. But if you’re not in a place where it’s safe to read about someone else’s despair, then I ask you please not to. I never wanna make recovery worse for anyone else.

Aaaaanyway.

I like to think of myself as a problem-solver.

I don’t always solve things the technically “correct” way. I don’t always solve things super quickly. But I feel like we can point to things over and over and over in my life where I didn’t give up and I tried to make plans for the future.

I can list a couple of jobs I was unhappy with where I just quit. When I didn’t like how my life was going after open-heart surgery, I did the 52 half marathons project. (There was a world where that might not have worked, but thankfully it worked here.) I wanted to move to New York, so I have… a few times. I make a list of the things I want and I work to get them.

I know I had to work for many years to get out of reality TV. That plan kept changing as various things didn’t work. And I may have to go back. I don’t know…

So, plans aren’t always suuuuper linear. And plans aren’t always super quick. But it at least feels like they’re always possible to put in motion and that I always have ideas for how to help myself…

And this time, I feel like I’m running out of ideas.

Even though there are dead ends and smaller obstacles within bigger ones, some problems still seem a little more straightforward. Don’t like your job? Leave it. Etc. (That’s the biggest clearest one I can think of.) And I understand we all have to pay rent. And I’ve certainly worked a job I didn’t want to before. But it feels like there’s a way out – and a fairly straightforward one… Build contacts, go on interviews, spruce up your online presence, all that jazz. There might be winding roads and you might have to come up with new solutions, but it feels straightforward-ish. And this doesn’t feel nearly as straightforward to me.

How do you stop having nightmares? How do you become comfortable in the new city you’d just moved to where this happened? How do you get through the week without a panic attack? (There actually are technically answers/ideas to these. And I work on some of this in therapy… But it still doesn’t seem as easy/as straightforward to me.)

(I have a whole list of ways in which sexual assault affected me that I’ve been meaning to post. But I’ve been really irresponsible with the posting lately. I’m sorry. But anyway…)

For one thing, it feels like I am affected in so many ways, how can I possible tackle them all? For another, it feels like all my ideas aren’t working.

I felt uncomfortable in my bed so I got a new bed – heck, I got a new apartment! Yet I still don’t spend a lot of time there… I’m writing this post from my office (at 2 in the morning, New York time).

I feel not present. So, I went to do all these things that I thought would keep me present – a safari, chilling with a whale, all this stuff. But I still feel distracted a lot.

“I know. I’ll just run again” to fix everything. That project is helping, but not as much as would be nice.

And on and on and on.

I just want to keep doing things to make it better, but none of the things are a magical fix.

I’m in therapy. I’m in a support group. These things help. I believe in therapy. But I feel like there are a lot of ups and downs. And I feel like today was a big down.

I just want the problem to be “fixed.” So, I don’t know if I’m being impatient, or if I haven’t found the fix, or if it’s “unfixable.”

Who knows. Maybe this just feels harder ’cause I’m in it right now. Maybe I’m remembering other things with rose-colored glasses. There were certainly some situations with a “straightforward” fix that still felt kinda hard to get out of. So, I dunno.

All I know is, while technically anything in this world is possible, this just feels like a giant weight on me. And I just find it exceptionally hard to find the “solution,” – even though there probably isn’t one magical solution. But if anything can give me my old life back, I hope to goodness I find it. (To me the clearest most wonderful thing would be a time machine. But to my knowledge, we haven’t invented those yet?)

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Look, I don’t want to be crazy or way over-dramatic or something…

I know that I’m Aurora. I know I still exist. I know I’m the same Aurora… Like, I don’t actually think I’m not literally the same person.

I also don’t mean any disrespect at all to people who’ve actually died – who truly have no opportunity/no change to turn thing around. I know that’s so different than feeling like a part of you died.

And now that I’ve done such a long rambling preamble, what I’m trying to say is – I feel like a totally different person.

Sometimes there are things that are oh so hard for me to do now that didn’t used to be so hard (just going out in public/being around people I would say is a big one).

And so sometimes, when I’m out and I see something that now is hard, but never used to be, every once in a while, I’ll think to myself, “Goodness, Aurora would really have loved this.”

And I know that I’m actually Aurora. And I know that I am capable of loving it – and that I still do love some things sometimes.

But it just feels like I’m different… Like, I have a ton of pictures of me all around my apartment from various trips and with various friends. And sometimes I think a little about myself in the third person, like, “Dang! Look at this girl! She’s so cool! Look at all the stuff she did and all the people who loved her and she loved right back in return. My goodness gracious. What on earth do you think she’d be doing nowadays since she is so rad?

And I know that technically the answer is I could be doing anything. And I am still alive and I am still me… And yet, that surprises me sometimes. I’ll make a little snapchat for a friend or something, and it’s like, “Oh yeah. Look! There she is! I know that face! I know those little facial expressions. Look! She still exists!”

Or sometimes, I’ll just kind of say something out loud and I’ll hear some sound that’s very “me,” and I’m like, “Wait! I know that sound! That’s Aurora!”

Please don’t be scared. I don’t actually have like multiple personalities or something. I don’t truly think I’m someone else… But I certainly don’t feel like myself at all…. It just feels like a big huge gigantic humongous part of me died… and I do not know what to do about it.

Friday, March 24th, 2017
Aurora filling out her custom forms at the Mexico City airport

(stretching (always stretching) while filling out my customs form in the airport)

Picking up from yesterday

I don’t see a single American around me anymore. Let’s all remember, I don’t speak Spanish. I’m holding all my luggage (and a coat). And I have no idea where to get my bib at his giant place in Mexico…

So, I’m running around from tent to tent, trying desperately to find someone who speaks English. But I can find no one.

Then I find the VIP tent. Well, okay, right?

I mean, if any tent is gonna have a) all the info b) people who speak some other probably popular-ish languages, it’s gotta be the tent for VIPs, right? (No.)

I get waved in by someone who turns out to be the wife of someone in our group. She has the same idea that this seems like a place that might have answers – or at least has a little bit of space, if nothing else.

Also, she probably wasn’t actually even waving me in, come to think of it, because her husband came in closely behind me. And we had a third American coming in at the same time as well.

So, we’re asking around and no one speaks English… until! Someone does. We explain the situation and he says he’s gonna figure it out for us. He calls in on his walkie. No one answers, so he goes on foot to check things out.

We finally take a tiny breather after all this running around with our luggage and we take turns in the port o’ potties. (Might as well use the bathroom while we (barely) have the time…

But English-speaking-dude never comes back!

The race is starting any minute, and we’re getting in a little bit of trouble for being in the VIP area without wristbands. So one of our runners runs over to yet another tent by the start line, while I send out a desperate email and Facebook message to the group asking if anyone knows where we go.

And my new runner friend gets an answer at the start line. We have to haul butt to a tent in center-field where they have our bibs. I get there before him and am told we have to sign a waiver at the table. I’m shown exactly where to sign. (I know it’s generally the same place, but we’re not thinking an in a hurry (and for all I know it’s in Spanish. I was paying no attention. They could’ve gotten me to sign my life away).) Anyway, I get a pen ready of him. As soon as he gets there, I point exactly where he has to sign. We sign and run.

I am carrying my bib and safety pins with me – didn’t even put it on, because we had no time. The race had already started!

Then, when I reach the start, there are barriers surrounding it – and not the barriers like at the US Rock ‘n’ Roll races where we can actually get through, but like these full barriers. So, then I’m pushing through the crowd – saying excuse me, but I’m not 100% sure everyone can understand me because I’m just some dumb American being pushy. Then I leap up on top of the barrier and flip over. (I do not have an easy time with these at Spartan events. But dang. I go over this one like this is my job. I guess anything’s possible when adrenaline is flowing.)

Then I start jogging.

Now, I just have to outrun the shuttle. (Dum dum duuuuuuum [*scary chords*].) And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Aurora's feet on the plane

(just a pic of those mystical warm nuts (and my stretching) on the plane)

Picking up from yesterday –

I love the Rock ‘n’ Roll series. So, when I tell you the beginning of the Mexico City race for this American was a total mess, please don’t take that to mean I don’t love them… I’m hoping you can take it for the love/hilarity/silliness/ridiculousness with which it is spoken.

So.

We’re on this bus. And the race starts in this stadium/horse-race track place. My understanding is that the bus is supposed to be able to drive into the middle area. (I later find out there are indeed buses there, and that our bus picks us up from there later that night. So, it seems like it could’ve been super possible indeed.)

But instead, we end up getting stopped in a parking lot. I don’t know where the miscommunication was or who was really in charge of what… because I guess that horse racing place has some ownership or at least autonomy of some kind when it comes to parking. And I think there’s another international company that’s helping Rock ‘n’ Roll put on the race – like, I don’t think the Rock ‘n’ Roll series actually runs everything and has the final say in everything… Because…

I’m only sort of kind of getting the story (in large part because I don’t speak Spanish). But someone who does speak Spanish is translating as best they can what they can hear from outside the bus. Apparently the parking people are asking for money even though the bus people are trying to explain that we’re supposed to have permission to go on the field.

At first, we’re all pretty strong in this feeling of, “We’re not doing a long walk with our luggage! Let our bus through!”

…Aaaaaaaand then we all realize we don’t have any power at all and when they tell us to get off the bus and grab our luggage, we do as we’re told.

So, here we go.

I’m now carrying a heavy duffel bag and bookbag (’cause they have all my stuff for an international trip that includes two races (plus a dress and such because I stopped in Ohio for my grandma’s 90th birthdya on my way to Texas)).

And we’re going. We’re moving through crowds, trying to figure out which way to go (as the crowd is not all going in the same direction since some are maybe going to their cars or who knows where).

And we come upon this woman from the race standing blocking the path to move through barriers toward the race. Again, I don’t speak Spanish. (Goodness, I should learn!) But someone in our group is explaining to me that she’s saying she can only let people with bibs through…

But we were told we were going to get our bibs once we got there… We don’t know where our bibs are, but they’re somewhere past where she’s standing, and we don’t have them.

So, there’s talk back and forth and then someone from our group has the idea – what if we show our vanity bibs? We got these fun bibs that say #Tex2Mex (even though they don’t actually mean anything). But, they show we’re from a group our something. And there’s more talking back and forth and begging until she reluctantly agrees.

So, everyone is fishing through their bags, and we all get through – or at least, I think we all get through.

It seems like with nearly every step we take we’re losing someone off of our gigantic group who disappears into the giant crowd around us.

We keep walking, walking, and then we go down some stairs which leads us to this giant track and field with tents and people everywhere. And I look around and realize – uh oh… I’m one of the people who’s been lost.

And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017
Aurora at airport at #Tex2Mex stretching

Just putting my foot in my face as I stretch out before the flight

Picking up from yesterday

So, I get through security. Now that I’ve taken that pair of half marathon shoes off, I don’t put them back on again.

When I grab my stuff, I change shoes and socks. I also have some blisters and a couple of little cuts on my foot (I guess from dry skin or blisters that popped. (Ew.))

There’s one of those little spa right next to security. So, I go ask them for band-aids, and they give me some! They also let me sit in a comfy chair. And one woman, whom I tell about my big fundraising effort, even gives me a free 10-minute foot massage!

Then, it’s time to run to the gate, ’cause as awesome as this all is, I don’t have time for this.

I get on the plane, and every single person in business class is a runner. (Cool. In the words of High School Musical (which I’ve never seen, but certainly have seen memes), “We’re all in this together.”

The flight attendant has left gigantic water bottles for all of us – which I greatly appreciate. (I end up going through 3 of them(!)… and using the bathroom twice. Gotta hydrate. It was hot in Texas. I am slightly worried about over-hydrating. But not really. With a plane ride coming off a hot race, I don’t think I’m actually in any real danger of that.

We also get food. (I could get used to business class!) We get warm nuts. (Yes, those are actually a thing – not just a thing fancy people in movies get to eat on planes.)

And there was this awesome salty chocolate they had… I don’t super love chocolate, but I do love salt. And the really nice seatmate next to me scored me an extra piece when I was in the bathroom. (Super cool, right?)

Also, when I got on board, I got one of those little things to fill out for customs. Any international business was new to me, ’cause it was my first international flight!

So, I filled out the thing and when you get to Mexico, somebody checks it and then you fill out another thing about your bags. Then you click a button that tells you whether your bags have to be screened or not. (It feels like we should have things like that in America to make random searches a little more actually random, no?)

Anyway… So, Mexico. We did it. We flew. We napped. (The flight attendant even made a comment about how the people in business class got sleep, but in coach, they did not… Take your party class, y’all! I was happy to nap.) We landed. We made it through customs.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll series had a couple of people with a big sign waiting for us, as they had arranged a shuttle for us. So, we followed the sign, we got on the shuttle. And that’s where I’ll pick up tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Aurora on the plane to MexicoPicking up from yesterday –

So, the Dallas race was over. I had found my uber driver even in the craziness of tents and trucks and everything that is the remains of a half marathon.

And I’m like, “Hey, new friend! I need to get to the airport liiiiike as fast as we can go.”

And we take off and he tells me we need to get gas… Of course.

I’m all, “Isn’t there aaaaany way that maybe just maybe you could get gas after the airport?”

But no. He’s not confident we can make it to the airport with the gas we have.

So, he stops off for a super quick trip. I felt bad that he didn’t even have time to fill the tank, but appreciative that he only got what he needed since we were on a time crunch.

I ate some food in the backseat and took a couple of selfies with my medal, and small talked with Juan (my driver).

Before you know it, I was at the airport. And when I walked in, I might as well have had one of those chorus of angels sound effects play. Because the line for the American Airlines ticket counter was empty.

I go up there and start to hurriedly (scardly (not a real adverb, but I’m using it)) explain, “I keep trying to change a typo of one letter in my last name. Please help me!” And Kim sweetly says, “You’re fine. You’re here. You’ve made it. Take a deep breath. We’re gonna get you on the plane.”

(Woot!)

She’s training someone. So, I kind of hear them talking about options of what they do when there’s a misprint on someone’s name. And ultimately, what she does is write a note on my boarding pass to security that it’s off by one letter, but I am Aurora and they should let me through. And she leaves her gate agent number or whatever is it airline employees have. She signs it. And off I go. I’m told I’ll probably get extra screening (like a pat down or a bag check), but whatever. I don’t care.

So, I go to security. They tell me my pass isn’t good there. “How do we know you didn’t just write this yourself?” They won’t get me go through. So, I go back toward the counter.

Kim is either getting off her shift or taking a break or something because I see walking away from the counter. “Kim! They won’t let me through!”

“Oh yes they will!” she says as she comes to escort me.

She comes over to security and a security supervisor is summoned. Everyone is looking at my documents and boarding pass, and finally, I’m allowed through. (Thank you Kim and everybody! …It was especially nice of her to take time to escort me when it seemed like she wasn’t even on the clock anymore.)

So, I get through security. And this is where we’ll pick up tomorrow!

Monday, March 20th, 2017
Aurora in the back of the uber with her medal covering her mouthful of biscuit

in the back of the Uber, documenting the day/medal while covering my mouth overflowing with biscuit – trying to “carb up” for race 2 on the way to the airport

Picking up from yesterday –

I had tried to get the problem fixed before the race

First, I’d talked to an agent at the airport when I first landed in Dallas. I saw I was having trouble checking in, and she said it was because it was more than 24 hours before the flight. Oh, duh! That made sense to me, of course. (Apparently I’d somehow forgotten how Friday and Sunday work and that they are not in fact within 24-hours of each other.)

Because that was such a simple, normal explanation, neither of us thought to look for anything else, or noticed the typo.

Then, when I tried to check in within the actual 24-hour period, I couldn’t. So, I called in to American Airlines. That was when I was told about the typo problem, but said that it couldn’t be fixed over the phone since we were within 24-hours – I’d have to wait ’til I got to the airport.

As the race continued, and I thought about how relatively little time I was gonna have at the airport, I called American asking if I could upgrade to first class. All I could see in my future were lines and lines – to the ticket counter, through security, and I wanted to try to bypass them (’cause I thought I might not make it to Mexico otherwise.)

Turns out, I was already in business class! (And the flight didn’t have a first class, so I was officially good to go.) I don’t know how that happened. But shhhhh, try not to move and hope it all just stays that way!

Then, since we were already on the phone, I asked if there were any way at all the typo could be changed while I was on the phone…

She said no, but that since I booked through Priceline, they could help me change it.

And this is where that super long hold time came into place.

I felt bad because I totally snipped at the woman who was just trying to do her job. (“We’ve been on the phone for nearly an hour and you can’t help me change one letter in a reservation?” Or something along those lines is what I annoyingly told the poor customer service agent who probably gets snipped at all day every day.)

So, we got off the phone, and I finished the race. As I was turning the corner toward the finish, I made a mental note of the intersection where I saw cars/taxis being able to drive because I knew I’d want to put that into Uber very soon.

Crossed the finish line. Went to pick up my Remix medal. They were out. (They’re gonna send ’em out to everyone who didn’t get one.) I did get my Lone Star for doing San Antonio last year and Dallas this year. Then, over to the VIP tent to grab food and my stuff, and on my walk over there, I ordered an uber (knowing it would take at least a few minutes for the uber to get there in half marathon traffic).

I grabbed my bags and some food. (Yet again I felt bad because I dropped a biscuit and a couple of pickles on the grass, but did I pick them up? Nope. I was like, “There’s too much stuff in my hands and I’m in a super hurry. I just let them sit there… Apparently this is the day where Aurora’s just a big jerk…)

So, I took a new biscuit and pickles and hurried across the field to meet my very nice Uber driver… Who informed me we needed gas. (Dum dum duuuuuum!) And this is where I’ll pick up tomorrow.