Friday, December 15, 2017

Thoughts on Highway Driving

Note: This post may contain strong pro-Texas statements; if for some reason you cannot stomach these, you may not want to read further.

Having completed a full week (five business days) of the longest commute of my life, I am now ready to give you my thoughts on highway driving in general, as well as on I-25 between Denver and Fort Collins specifically. I can't promise my thoughts are in any way fully formed or well-organized, but I definitely have them. I also have prayers, prayers to my guardian angel to keep me safe out there!

First, let me address by far the most frustrating occurrence on any highway in any place: slow drivers in the left lane. I have had to come to terms with this phenomenon and to start to look at root causes and possible solutions. Unfortunately, the root cause is the most dangerous facet of my commute and what makes me take it deathly seriously: lackadaisical driving or lack of awareness of what you are doing when you are on the road.

I was raised to be very aware of what I'm doing on the road, especially when I'm going 60, 70, or 80+ mph on the highway, and in fact for Texan drivers this is the norm. You know where you are and where other drivers are on the road. You see cars approaching in your rearview mirror and, crucially, you move over to let them pass you since their speed exceeds your own. This may be why native Texan drivers are among the most courteous, because we know we're all trying to get somewhere and have different vehicular abilities with which to do so (I'm thinking the old beaten down pickups and tractors common on two-lane highways in Texas and elsewhere).

good traffic conditions on I-25 N approaching FoCo

So how does it happen so often that someone can be completely obstructing the flow of traffic in the left lane, actually going slower than folks in the right lane? I think either the person doesn't know--I have, to my shock, met people who have no idea that the left lane is meant to be a passing lane, a huge failure of driving education from whatever state they're from (clearly not Texas)--or has allowed himself to become complacent and lose his awareness as to the fact that he is driving and is not the only one on the road.

I'll be honest, I have actually been guilty of this within the past week: I got in the left lane to pass, the speed of the traffic changed so that both lanes were going slow, and then all of a sudden I found myself getting passed by people in the right lane. At that point, I did notice and move back over to the right lane, but I should have been more proactive about it.

And that gets to another great point about highway driving: anticipation. If you have any significant commute, or indeed are driving at all, you need to learn the skill of anticipation. What this means is being able to predict traffic conditions in front of you as they are developing or emerging. I find myself scoping out brake lights far ahead of me on I-25, examining the type of vehicles ahead of me in each lane and their respective speeds (yes, big trucks typically are slower than the traffic but not always!), noticing cars entering the highway, etc. This skill allows me to remain safe and to stay at a constant speed as much as possible.

Oh, a constant speed. If only. Another key component of my driver's education in Texas was how to use cruise control effectively and safely. Is cruise control a foreign concept in the Denver metro area? Traffic would go so much more smoothly if, cruise control or not, people were able to maintain a constant speed. To do this, drivers would have to move over if their speed was slower than the cruising speed of those behind them, temporarily slowing their own cruising speed, but in turn to pass others going more slowly. They would have to anticipate and to be courteous. I don't know why this is so difficult here, but it is. I can rarely if ever maintain the speed I want, so I usually just settle for going as fast as I can to bring my overall average up.

Maybe I'll do a follow-up post, this is probably enough for now, because I'm still sifting and processing the driving habits here as I experience a hundred miles a day. I will say it gets better the closer I get to Fort Collins; maybe people up there learned the highway driving techniques I learned in Texas, since it is more rural. Snow or other weather is a whole other issue I will have to address.

For now, if you take anything away from this post, let it be this: if you are in the left lane on the highway and people are passing you in the right lane, please move over as soon as is safely possible. Also, it's the law. Drive safely, friends!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Bleeding

Do you approach a relationship situation the same way you do a hemorrhage? If so, please note: the solution here is not to apply constant pressure.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Phrases

I haven't posted in quite a while, but recently I've been having these thoughts (inspirations?) which have proven valuable for me. Basically, they are simple phrases that come into my mind and lend my life focus and direction for a time. I want to chronicle these in the hopes they may be useful to others too.

Here are the phrases I have received so far:

I have everything I need.

This statement counteracts not only my tendency to online shop (documented elsewhere in this blog) but also my tendency to dissatisfaction and discontentedness. Really, I am one blessed girl and I have never known want. I continue to want for nothing; everything I need is provided to me.

Purposely give up control.

This one cuts rather to the core of my long-standing habits. After all, who doesn't want control? To purposely give it up implies that there is good in not having control, good in releasing it to another. In any case where I must give up control, I must give it to God--otherwise, it doesn't make sense.

Relax and just be yourself.

I'm still unpacking this one. So far, it seems to tie in to discovering who I am, not just at the moment, but who I am at my core, my best self. To relax and just be is no easy directive.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Uneasy

I have this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Anxiety, I'm told it's called. I guess one thing is learning to live with this feeling. Just sitting with it, not doing anything.


Another thing is sticking up for myself. I'm a good person and I matter! What I think matters too. Rewind till I find the thing that bothered me in the first place and address that. Get angry if I need to.


The third thing is to pray. If I don't believe that I will receive what I pray for, what's the point? Prayer and belief go hand in hand. "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?" I don't necessarily have a stone, though it may look like one.


Bonus thing: writing helps. I have my notebooks, my pens. In my room is a treasure chest full of writing implements, in fact.

Monday, April 18, 2016

4 Infallible Keys to a Perfect Relationship

In keeping with my time-honored tradition of valuable relationship advice, I bring you the secrets to a successful relationship. Everyone needs them, after all!

  1. Stop fighting. You know those knock-down, drag-out, emotionally exhausting fights you keep having every so often (i.e. weekly)? Stop doing that. Also, don't "fight," which is like a fight except for it has quotation marks; you know why.
  2. Eat meals together. Studies have shown that it's easier to be contented after a full meal, especially one that your significant other pays for--so don't be too hasty about reaching for that check!
  3. Physical contact. No, the usual hugging, kissing, unprintable, etc. doesn't cut it here. I suggest martial arts or dancing, preferably both. At the same time.
  4. Laugh with your partner! This is a good opportunity to set aside social norms and societal conventions: laugh inappropriately. The best kind of laughter is either at an inappropriate time, place, or level of volume. Use your best judgment but your entire relationship is basically on the line.
Any more suggestions from my readers? Include in the comments. If you have a burning question, ask your doctor.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Surprising Onslaught of Dishonorable Behavior with Regard to Dating

After a recent event, I was having a conversation with a friend about how I have a tendency to sprinkle the words "my boyfriend" into conversation with other men, in order to give them a correct impression of my availability.

"You know," she said, "Some men will hear that and think, 'Challenge accepted!'" Sure enough, the next day, I received an email from a man I had danced with once during the event, asking if we could go dancing again.

This kind of behavior leaves me completely puzzled.

Since this occurrence happened within my Catholic circles, I can't really excuse it by any apparent lack of clarity in the statement, "I'm dating someone." If there isn't, there really ought to be, a shared understanding of what that means--particularly in this day and age when the general culture is so reluctant to name any kind of relationship as a "thing."

Also, I just can't imagine actively seeking out someone who has made it known that she or he is in a relationship with somebody else! It's not the first time this has happened to me, but I've never understood it. Are you trying to test my loyalty? If so, do you want me to fail the test?

In a conversation with a different friend, we discussed the phenomenon of infidelity in marriage: in real life, as opposed to in Nicholas Sparks novels, it never leads to a happy ending. As my friend put it, if you make the choice to cheat, you're lowering your standards to the kind of person who wants you to be a cheater. You're basically saying, "I want someone who is willing to put morals aside for the sake of emotional satisfaction."

It's not particularly surprising in the broader culture, I suppose, but to me it is surprising to find that approach to fidelity among Catholic friends and acquaintances. We're meant to be set apart, to be an example for others, not to tempt others to flakiness and lack of resolution, not to mention sinful behavior.

Though dating is by no means the same thing as marriage, we should support our friends who are seeking to discern through their dating relationships, just as we should support our friends discerning religious life or priesthood: rather than seeking to tempt them away from the path they have chosen, we should seek to confirm them and shelter them so that they may be free to answer God's call in their lives.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Longs Peak

Yesterday, I and a couple of friends scaled Longs Peak. Since then, many people have asked me, "How was it?" I haven't figured out a good answer to this question.

There are many things I could say, but the best way to sum it up is this: I lost my sandwich.

When I woke up yesterday at the bright and early hour of 12:15 a.m., I made myself one of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever made for a 14er hike. It was sharp cheddar cheese, cream cheese, a little butter, and some spring greens all on some crusty asiago cheese bread. Yum.

Little did I know that when I got to the summit, I would not have the appetite to eat my most wonderful sandwich. That hasn't happened before. I ate a few bites, but that was all I could manage.

Later on, descending the trail/sheer rocky face of the mountain, I tried eating some more. I think I ate about half of it or maybe a little more in all. I thought I might be able to have some later.

After what seemed like an eternity (really only fourteen hours), we got back to the trailhead. I have never been so glad to see a parking lot in my life. I reached into my pack to find the large Ziploc bag with sandwich in it, but it was gone. I had left it behind somewhere on the trail.

I guess you could say that I had an unprecedented experience yesterday: I failed to pack out my trash and wasted almost half of a perfectly good sandwich. My lack of awareness that I was doing these things says it all.

To close, here's a picture of me on the summit of Longs:

all 14ers are taller than 14,000 ft, but not all of them are so difficult to summit

backpacking

backpacking
taking a break on the trail