A Runner's World

You think you know...but you have No Idea

Friday, November 25, 2005

A Year of Loss

If I had to pick a theme for 2005, I would call it "A Year of Loss" or something like that. I lost my sanity. I lost weight. I lost some good friends.

Losing my sanity came from losing a battle with what is turning out to be an ongoing war with anorexia/bulimia/depression. I was doing really well for a few years...totally beating the sh*t out of my demons. Yet a few events left me in a headlock and I'm still struggling to get out.

Eating disorders can literally kill you. But they can also kill you by slowly taking away everything that you value until you no longer have any other reason or desire to live other than to strive for a level of thinness that goes unmatched. Running was the first to go for me. I still had a relatively successful year, but the passion and love I had for running and competing ceased to exist when I became consumed by the anxiety I felt when running races in my uniform. I felt fat and unfit and I was sure that everyone else noticed but was too nice to say anything to me. Instead of fighting it out with my competitors on the course or the track, I was fighting it out with the voices in my head. During races I had to hold back tears that came from feeling fat. In almost every cross country race the idea of running into the woods and hiding crossed my mind. In track, when races weren't going well, I wanted to just collapse on the side of the track and be taken away in an ambulance. Anything that would get me away in a speedy manner, because I certainly wasn't feeling speedy on the track.

I wasn't speedy, or at least not as speedy as I could have been, because I was malnourished and in a mental hell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I had three chances to make nationals this year, and I failed each time. Not because I'm not capable. But because of the torture I was putting my body and mind through. I would starve myself all day, go to practice, and then eat dinner. I would eat breakfast before races, but I would be so upset about getting fat that it would affect my race.

And starving yourself is one thing. But starving yourself, running 80 miles a week, and swimming and lifting three times a week...that's something completely different.

I loved Sundays because I could run 16-20 miles in the morning, go back to sleep until the afternoon, and then eat just a small dinner. I was obsessed with the way my hip bones jutted out and my ribs showed.

I would stare at pictures of other anorexics for inspiration, and read pro-anorexia websites for tips and ideas.

So losing my sanity made me lose weight. And my obsession with losing weight made me lose friends. It's hard to be interested in the lives of others when you're so wrapped up in yourself and how you look. It took energy to hang out with other people, and I didn't have that energy because I didn't eat enough.

The lack of food also made me extremely moody, and even if I did have the energy to hang out with friends, I doubt any of them would have wanted to be around me as I wallowed around in despair.

The eating disorder also affected my mental capacity. I used to be witty and full of life and laughter, but eventually I was unable to complete an entire thought, let alone participate in the lively banter with my friends and family that I used to enjoy so much. Academically...I survived, and I stayed on honor roll, but I don't think I turned in one paper in a class that I felt was my best work. I did everything half assed, if I even did it at all, and that is completely out of character for me.

I also gave up fast food, cokes, and I cut back majorly on candy...which isn't all bad because those things aren't the best fuel for your body anyway. What's bad is that when I eat a piece of pizza, I feel like I'm covered in grease. I can spend 20 minutes in the shower scrubbing my skin and still feel like I gained 10 pounds and there is oil seeping out of every pore on my body. I don't really thing that's normal...

I'm writing this partially in past tense and partially in present tense, which would drive my English professors crazy, but I can't completely write this in past tense because I'm not over it yet. I've got a long way to go.

I started writing this post over Christmas Break and it's now Spring Break and I haven't made any significant improvements. Well, physically I have. I've gained 10 pounds and I cut back on miles in hopes of running faster. I did run faster...I just missed qulifying for nationals...but if you know me well enough to read this blog, you know that already. But my love for running remains absent. My fits of violent anger have progressively worsened to the point where on almost a daily basis I can at some point be found laying in a heep on the ground, sobbing, surrounded by the things I've just thrown, strands of hair in my hand I've pulled out of my head, bruises all over my legs from hitting myself, and voice hoarse from screaming.

I can't afford a therapist off campus and the one I went to last semester on campus didn't really mesh well with me. I plan to try her again though, after Spring Break, because something's gotta give. I'm still throwing up occasionaly. Combine that with the aforementioned violent fits and overwhelming desire to sleep as much as possible because sleeping is the only time I don't hate my body...and because hating my body is so exhausting...and I don't think I have much to lose.

This post has no rhyme or reason to it...so I'm just going to wrap it up with the one amazing gain I had this year, and that's Ron.

Ron had every reason to hate me after this summer. He could have dumped me and walked away and never given me a second thought...but for some reason he didn't. Instead he's become the rock I cling to when the rest of my world is swirling around me like a violent rapid.

I know that everyone on the team is probably annoyed by how stuck up his butt I seem, but I think that if they spent even one day with me they'd probably be just as amazed and impressed by him as I am. It takes one hell of a person to maintain a relationship with a psycho like me. I know I take him for granted from time to time but at the end of the day, I know he's the reason I'm still alive and doing well enough to be kept out of a treatment center.

Annnd since this post is random enough, i'll end it.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"The friends who grew up with you deserve a special respect. The ones who stuck by you shoulder to shoulder, in a time where nothing was certain, all life lay ahead, and every road led home."

We've shared every first together, and I look forward to the day when you'll be my maid (or matron =) of honor. Not many people are lucky enough to have a friendship like ours...you were my first real friend and the person who knows more about me than anyone else in the world. Thanks for being there for me in the last few weeks and 15 years.
Posted by Hello

"'Cause in the end, you always turn back to who was there in the beginning" Posted by Hello

At least part of the reason I'm sitting here right now, late for cross country practice at the University of Indianapolis, is because you were the one that convinced me to swim. In doing so, I became friends with the most dedicated, committed person I know..and it rubbed off. Thank God you got over your fear of me and my ghetto self in 7th grade, or I might be working with Jordan Gilbert downtown

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Never A Dull Moment in 207!!  Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Me and My AWESOME Roomie! Look forward to our upcoming book "The Quotable Roomie" It's got New York Times Bestseller List written all over it! =) Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Caution: TOTALLY Random

Ok so I have to begin with a comment about the homes with outrageous amounts of Christmas decorations. I'm not trying to be Grinch-like or anything, I understand this is the season to be jolly and whatnot, but every year some overly zealous homeowners take it upon themselves to buy every gaudy Christmas decoration Wal-Mart has to offer and then proceed to turn their front yards into the largest aesthetic nightmare I have ever seen. (Run--or travel if you're not the running type--down Lawrence, and you'll see what I mean. lol Elaine, Mir, and Ashley) You would think that taking out a second mortgage to pay their electric bill for December would be enough to make them tone it down, but apparently not. I'm sorry if I've offended anyone who is fanatically festive, but I just have to say it. Less is more people, less is more.

*~Moving On~*

Wow, that little divider just transformed this from a blog to a jr. high note. Memories....

Now, getting to the real reason I sat down to write this blog. I've never been one for Pity Parties. Those who prefer to marinate in their own misery are just digging further into a cut--causing themselves more pain and extending the healing process. I don't see any logic in that, so I prefer "Get Your S*** Together" parties. After the physical breakdown I had Thursday after practice, and the emotional one I had Friday evening, I think I need to start making some serious priority decisions. However, with the onslaught of finals looming, I'm not sure now is the time to be making important decisions. All I know is that I took on too much this semester and my mind and body staged a protest that was not very pleasant.

The last time my body wigged out like it did on Thursday, I ignored it and kept pluggin along and the next thing I knew I had tendonitis in 6 places. BAM! Just like that. If you want to see a DISMAL Karen, take away her ability to run.

Mental Breakdowns, on the other hand, I experience pretty regularly. I know that's probably not good but it's just because I can't seem to take my dreams one at a time. Instead I charge full speed ahead at every one of them and then end up out of gas about half way there. Thus, I take a break at Hyperventilation Station and then I'm on my merry overkill way.

So basically I know the cause of the effects I experienced this past week...I just don't have a solution to prevent these things from occurring. Nor do I have enough brainpower to come up with one AND do well on my finals. Therefore I just hope I make it to Christmas Break in one piece and then I'll come up with a more efficient way to achieve my dreams without beating myself to a pulp and then beating all my relationships to a pulp as well.

Moral of the story is...if you've had to see me at my worst, which most of you probably have at one point or another this semester, I apologize.

Big Apology for Matt for taking most of the heat when I've overcooked my grits.

Shout out to Elaine for reminding me that I COULD be worse. I could be as insane as you. LoL just kidding. You're the best roomie ever, and I don't know what I'd do without you. Probably perish. Well maybe not, but I definately love rooming with someone who shares my extreme type A personality and love of randomness.

And thanks to my little bro Mark for always being the "Nice Guy" and hanging out with me. Taco Bell on Thursday night and hanging out Saturday evening helped me a lot whether you knew it or not. An evening spent at random stores with you is a gauraunteed good time. "Hey Slut" "Frogs!!" "You're KILLIN me" "Ok, I'm puttin it back BUT GOOD LUCK FINDING IT!" LoL

Anyone who has any suggestions about how I could change my life so that I can operate on a level lower than total spaz...feel free to let me know. Keep in mind that I go to school so I can get a job that will pay my living expenses, I run so that I can pay for college, and I work so that I can pay for shoes to run. And car insurance. And gas. And Penn Station. So those things can't be eliminated.

Also, I'm thinking about cutting my hair. Send me your votes on yay or nay.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Few Memorable Quotes From Thanksgiving Weekend

Amanda: So Homer has really bad fleas, and my mom was like "What are we going to do about it?" and my dad said "I know what we can do. Instead of trying to clean up all the fleas from the floor and everywhere, we'll just vaccum Homer". So I was like "You might be a redneck IF YOU VACCUM YOUR DOG".

Matt: "Oh, I thought that sign said Anal for a minute and I was like What? But it just says And."

Grandpa: Is that your sister in there cookin?
Michelle: No, that's my mom
Michelle's Dad yelling to her mom in the kitchen: Boy he's suckin up to you!!

I'm coming home from Matt's one night and the porch light is already off so I'm fumbling around with my keys trying to find the house key to get in and I look up and I can see my mom hovering by the door, clearly unsure of who is jiggling her doorknob at 1am, and too scared to open it. So I knock on the window and she opens the door and greets me with "I thought you were already in bed!" I said "Nope...I'm right here" and she says "Then what the hell is in your room?!"
That is ALMOST as good as the time my mom got up in the middle of the night, opened my door, turned on the light, stared for a minute, then turned it back off and walked back out. I had no idea what was going on, but I rolled over to go back to sleep and about 2 minutes later my cell phone starts ringing and I'm like "Who the heck would be calling me at 2:30 am?!" so I answer it and it's my MOM and she's like "WHERE ARE YOU?" and I said "IN MY BED" and she's like "No you're not! I just looked!" and I said, "I KNOW, you woke me up!"

Uncle Tim joking about Todd and Michelle buying a house before getting married: Yeah, Leslie and I were a little offended that we weren't invited to the wedding. We thought and thought and we couldn't figure out what we did to not be invited!"
Mom: I know! I'm the MOTHER and I didn't get invited!

Me reading from my baby book: "'Took Karen off of...' What does that say? Oh, fruits. 'Took Karen off of fruits'"
Matt, who clearly didn't hear me: I got it! F Suits!

Amanda: "It listed talking as one of my talents. Obviously I like to talk a lot but I always thought of it as an annoyance, not a talent."

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ron, even though "blue streak" is very special in it's own right, nothing quite compares to my 1980 Dodge Aries K! Also known as "The Box" Posted by Hello

Me and Traci sharing yet another first. My first legal drive with a passenger in my first car! I loved that car, I'll never forget jamming in "The Box" to Bad to the Bone with Lora and Amanda after Track Meets. LoL Posted by Hello

Wabash Always Fights! My mom, older brother Todd and my dad. I miss going to Wabash football games to watch my brother kick Posted by Hello

Look. If you had one moment, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted...would you capture it? Or just let it slip...
California 2005
Posted by Hello

I love my little brother Mark! He's always been one of my best friends, and I don't know what I'd do without him. Posted by Hello

Me and My Best Friend Amanda the year we won the Danville Hokum Karum. Cassie Hunt what?? =) Posted by Hello

Me and Amanda again. I miss you so much girl! This whole Kansas thing better be a fling. I expect you back in Indy in 2008 !!
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ignorant Country Kids Meet Inner City Thugs

Wellllll here it is. The long anticipated unveiling of my blog. Funny how the word blog takes away the cermonious ring to that sentence. Where did they get the word "blog" anyway?? Oh well, no use in pondering that question. It's not like it will change anything. I'm an official blogger now.

What gets me though is that this stuff is all over the newspapers and the radio. "What's a blog?" "How to get a Blog" "Why people blog". I was under the impression that this was for high school and college students who have nothing better to do than procrastinate on hmwk. Seriously, do 40 year old CEO's get all excited about checking their co workers blogs? Do they check their competitors blogs to see what they are doing? The idea of a man in a suit and tie laughing at someone's blog while he drinks his coffee in the morning the way I laugh at ron's (or whoever else's) while I drink my hot chocolate seems crazy to me. But then again, I guess they are people too. Maybe they just need a way to release all the chaos in their minds like us. Oh well, I'm sure I'll be one of those people one day anyway. Loser and compulsive writer that I am.

Ok, one story about my Tuesday and I'm done. I swear Dottie. By the way, my blogs may be long but yours are way too short! Beef those puppies up!

Tuesday I had a field experience visit to Tech High School. Everyone in my class happens to be from some Podunk town that has probably one minority family, if any, in it. So naturally they're all freaking out about how they're going to be shot and killed at Tech, and quite frankly if they didn't shut up, I was going to be the one to shoot and kill them.

Anyway, we get into the auditorium and this sweet looking old white lady comes up to give a little introductory speech in which she says, and I quote, "We don't consider ourselves as 'inner city', we like to call ourselves 'urban' because you won't see grafitti all over the walls and we don't outwardly recognize our gangs" She whispered the gang part, which made it all the more hilarious to me.

Immediately I could hear squirming and whispers coming from the future teachers behind me who I wanted to turn around and punch for being so judgemental before stepping into a single classroom. I admit, the gang part made me slightly uncomfortable too, but in the end, that's not going to phase me. My job as a teacher will be to educate the future of America, and that includes ALL students, regardless of their socioeconomic background or their sense of style. By being a good role model, you can help these students choose education over drug dealing and street life, but that's never going to happen if you let preconceived notions about blacks, mexicans, asians, native americans, whatever...influence your actions. What message is it sending to a black male dressed in baggy jeans with necklaces hanging from his neck if you treat him like he's got the bubonic plague? It tells him that he's not understood, and never will be, except for by his brothers on the street.

It's also helpful to keep in mind that Columbine was not an inner city school. It was a suburb of "rich bitches".

And I'm spent. Better Dot?? =)

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Me and Matt hangin' out over the summer....i miss those summer nights! =( Posted by Hello

California Here We Come

"Out of respect for things that I was never destined to do, I have learned that my strengths are a result of my weaknesses, my success is due to my failures, and my style is directly related to my limitations" --Billy Joel

As the best Cross Country season of my life comes to a close, you would think I'd be relieved. For the next blessed week, I don't have to report to Ruth Lily at 3:30 everyday. I won't have to travel on weekends until February. And speedworkouts are in the NOT so near future.

While this is all good and well, and a great burden has been lifted off my shoulders, it was only lifted so that a different burden could be put in its place. The burden of reflection. Yes, I have more time to myself now that XC is over, but that leaves more time to reflect on the past season and reflecting for me is like eating pringles: once I start, I can't stop. Therefore, I have no choice but to ramble away to a blank screen at midnight on a Sunday after a weekend of doing no homework whatsoever. I should be studying, or sleeping, as either would be a more efficient use of my time, but I can't do either until I clear my head.

Life is often referred to as a journey. In runner terms, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Many people miss this concept and spend their time working hard to get from one destination from the next (i.e. graduation, promotion), but never take the time to enjoy and appreciate what they’ve learned along the way, or celebrate how far they’ve come as a person.

I am not one of those people.

What follows is a summary of a mini enlightenment I experienced in the last few years. I warn you that this may not make sense, when I write I tend to ramble and go on tangents but in the end I feel better so it doesn’t matter to me if I don’t make sense to you. In other words, continue reading at your own risk of confusion.

From the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2004, I took several wrong turns in the marathon of my life, wrong turns that led me straight to huge hills labeled “Stress Fracture” “Tendonitis” and “Mono”. I grumbled and whined my way through stress fracture. During tendonitis, I began to formulate a few different paths to take, such as turning around and trying to go back to my first love: dance. As I stood in front of Mono, I threw a conniption fit, and cursed everything that be as I sat down to take off my running shoes, ready to chuck them into the woods where they would be gnawed on my gophers, squirrels, chipmunks, and various other creatures.

But half way through untying my shoes, I thought about my dad’s side of the family. The ones who gave up on their dreams, or some who never even started, simply because they weren’t dealt the best hand in life.

It’s easy for me to see that most of my athletic ability is inherited from that side of the family, but they don’t know it because they were so quick to give up and join the masses for one big pity party that lasts the rest of their lives. They're all cynical, ignorant, and just plain white trash due to their lack of experience in life. They chose it because it's easier, and because misery loves company, I suppose, but as Switchfoot says, We're meant to live for so much more. They lost themselves and I'm determined to never lose myself. No matter how hard the curveball life hits me with.

I'm sure you're all laughing at my dramatization of such a petty situation, I have to say I do realize that my injuries were far from being whacked with a curve ball....more like a flick on the ear in the great scheme of things, but they frustrated the hell out of me and it felt like my entire life was in shambles at the time.

The point is that as I stand and look back at the hills I’ve conquered in the past two years, I've come to the realization that I was never destined to be a cheerleader, or a sorority girl. It didn't matter how kick @$$ my routine had been for the junior high cheerleading tryouts, I wasn't going to make the team, because I was destined to be a runner.

I was destined for my quads to never fit into jeans that fit me everywhere else. I was destined for nasty, calloused, blistered, fungusy feet. I was destined to push my limits, to run until my head feels so light it might float away, but my legs feel so heavy I'm not sure I can take another step, let alone make it to the finish line where I stagger through the shoot to a clear piece of grass so I can dry heave until I either fall over or my parents or a teammate comes to drag me to the location of my training shoes so I can go run some more for a "cool down" even though I'm covered in goose bumps from dehydration.

So okay, it may not be pretty, and Lord knows runners don't get the glory, but I love it. Besides, I'm not one to mess with Destiny. If this is what God wants for me, I'll do my best, even if there are times when I don't understand where he's going with it...such as the two years from 2002 to 2004. Because I know that He IS going somewhere with it and this season was my reward for having that trust.

I needed those two years to learn how to persevere. I needed to fail so that I could learn how to succeed, and not take that success for granted. These are lessons that are valuable in all aspects of my life, not just running.

Now, I'm not even going to pretend for one second that I'm a great runner. Or even that I have the most talent on our team. I'm not and I don't and I accept that. But running has taught me to do the best that I can with what I have and to be satisfied with the outcome when I have done that. To know that there will always be someone worse than me and someone better than me, but that I should neither congratulate myself or berate myself for that. As a result, I'm happier and running better than ever before.

Running has also brought me the "girlie group" that I was so desperately trying to be a part of in my failed quests to be a cheerleader and a sorority girl. I love every one of the girls on the team. They've helped me so much this year with their support and encouragement that it brings me to tears just thinking about it. I think this team is probably better than any sorority I could have joined simply because these girls "get me" without any explanation. They feel my pain, my joy, and my passion for something that most people can't even begin to understand. Ironically enough, the phrase that is on my friend Jenna’s profile describing her sorority fits perfectly for our team. “Uindy XC Bitches: From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it”

So maybe the marathon of my life didn’t go quite as I planned it as a little girl, but in the end I know I’ve gotten everything I ever wanted and more. And now I’m more prepared for those curve balls, hills, bends in the road, whatever analogy you prefer. I’m so confident that I’d be willing to stamp BRING IT ON on my forehead.

Oh, and while most sorority girls will be working a summer job to pay for a vacation to the beach together...my girls and I will be running our way to a free trip to California next fall.

Summer Days Are Gone Too Soon...

"I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I've chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn't have had it any other way." --Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

For the past week or so this quote has been religiously ringing in my head like church bells every hour, on the hour. In a week and a half I'll be moving back to U of I and then heading down to the southern Indiana area with the Cross Country team for camp.

So as all students do when the summer winds down, I've been planning and organizing, hoping and stressing over what the new semester will bring. But first I have to say, it's been an awesome summer for me. The best one I've had since the summer before my freshmen year of high school when I practically lived with my best friend Lisa.

It's been 2 years in the making but I can finally say I'm a HEALTHY runner. I'm running more miles a week than I ever have before and about a week ago I ran a 3 mile tempo run in 18 minutes--a major breakthrough for me.

Although I have my moments, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed my summer job more than I've dreaded it this summer. The majority of my co-workers at the library are fun to talk to and who can complain when a mexican sends you a dozen gorgeous roses? I'll admit, it was a little creepy, but I really think he meant well. He's left me alone since I informed him of my couple-status. I can't say the same about the med student who's a serial library page stalker. He is downright ODD and my gut tells me I'm right in that judgement. Everytime he scares me by popping up behind me while I'm shelving books I can't help but be reminded of the Utah guy that killed his pregnant wife....I mean, wasn't he a "med student"?

My relationship with Matt is nothing short of amazing. We've gone swimming, watched fireworks, rode jet skis and went tubbing, road tripped to King's Island ALONE, made a zillion pancakes and watched tons of movies. We have all the excitement and emotion of a summer fling that lasts all year long.

But like they say all good things come to an end and now I'm trying my best to brace myself for the whirwind I'm about to hurl myself into. This next semester I have 17 credit hours (one 2 credit hour class that is actually 5 hours a week in class time. grrr), I'll be running XC which takes a good 30-35 hours a week in running, cross training, lifting, icing, stretching, meetings, team dinners, traveling, and racing, AND I have to keep working at the library 10-12 hours a week because I didn't make enough this summer to pay for spending money during the semester and Christmas presents. I have my life scheduled from 6am to 10pm everyday from August 30th to December 18th. It's going to be rough to say the least.

I was telling my boss, Kathy, about my stress and worries over the next semester one day and she just looked at me like I was from another planet and said "Don't you think you push yourself too hard?"

Now, let me describe Kathy to you. Kathy is divorced, I think mid-40s, living alone with about a gazillion cats (she's obsessed with cats) because her daughter Christy moved to Washington earlier this year and her other daughter lives in northern Indiana. Her life consists of working at the library, cooking meals, and watching movies. Her daughters were more involved in music and the arts so she has never had much of an appreciation for sports.

For a brief moment I considered the thought of pushing myself too hard. But then I imagined my life without running and school and what I saw was Kathy's life...minus the cats. Which brings me to my quote I started with. Of all the opportunities presented to me, running in college and obtaining a doctorate is the path I've chosen for myself. Sure, it's not always easy and it's not always fun, but it's what gets me up every morning and motivates me to be my best.

For another brief moment I considered explaining this to Kathy...telling her that I feel most alive when I'm sprinting to a finish line with my lungs burning, heart pounding, and legs feeling like 400 pound cement blocks. That nothing can compare to the on-top-of-the-world feeling I get when I've just run a particular distance faster than I ever have before.

I want her to know that literature is more to me than a plot line, or printed words on a page. It speaks to my soul and teaches me the lessons learned by others from all across the world, young and old, thousands of years ago and today. And one day I hope to write something that will inspire others as I have been inspired.

Of course I knew better than to say any of this to her because just as I don't understand how she can feel fufilled by cats and movies, she can't understand why studying and running mean so much to me. We've chosen different paths, that's all, and that's what's so great about our country...we have that option. So instead I just shrugged my shoulders, smiled, and went on to help the next patron.

I'm thankful, however, because unbenownst to Kathy, her inablility to understand the suffer-fest that is my life has been a blessing to me. It's reminded me why I'm working so hard and on the days when I want to throw my alarm across the room and sleep the day away...I can remember that this is what I chose for myself and I chose it for a reason.

So like Nicholas Sparks' wrote in "The Notebook"...

"My life? It isn't easy to explain. It has not been the rip-roaring spectacular I fancied it would be, but neither have I burrowed around with the gophers. I suppose it has most resembled a blue-chip stock: fairly stable, more ups than downs, and gradually trending upward over time. A good buy, a lucky buy, and I've learned that not everyone can say this about his life...I have no complaints about my path and the places it has taken me; enough complaints to fill a circus tent about other things, maybe, but the path I've chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn't have had it any other way."