Psych Me Up!

On my swim team, we had a thing called “secret psych.” Before meets, we would randomly get assigned another one of our teammates, and we were their secret psych. We would put together goody bags that contained power bars, Gatorade, green and gold nail polish, and if you were a good secret psych, a mix tape. These tapes contained various “Jock Jams” tracks like We are the Champions, Another One Bites the Dust, or Whoomp, There It Is!

One of my favorite presents was a mixed tape that Abby made me before my high school state meet sophomore year. This was the first year that Abby was away at college, and I missed having her around, particularly on the pool deck. Going to college in Ohio, Abby was introduced to a new genre of music: country. This tape was my first introduction to the Dixie Chicks and Tim McGraw. Weird for a psych up mix, but it worked.

In college, we progressed from mix tapes to mix CDs. Before the Ivy Championships, we would make a team CD that had one song from each of the girls (an idea I stole from Abby’s experience at Kenyon). It was always interesting to see the range of songs that girls considered “inspirational.” You were always guaranteed to be introduced to at least one new song. Now whenever I hear “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, I always think of my college swim team (I know, we were so ghetto!)

In college, because I was swimming 20+ hours a week already, I didn’t go to the gym, like many college students. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much though because the gym at school wasn’t very impressive. It was old and there weren’t any tvs to keep you occupied while you ran on the treadmill or used the elliptical. If I did hit up the gym, I would need an awesome iPod playlist or something to read. Needless to say, my workouts never lasted much longer than 30 minutes.

During my senior year, they opened a new gym at the law school, that had cardio machines, each with their own tvs. I am embarrassed to say that second semester senior year, I spent more time working out than going out. I hadn’t developed an obsession with working out, nor was I training for anything in particular. The reason for my two to three hour-long elliptical obsessions was MTV. I didn’t have cable in my dorm room, so I would spend hours working out just so that I could watch “The Real World” and “Road Rules.”

After college, I moved home for a little. During that time I got a job at a hospital and in the basement, there was a small workout room that had one small tv, that was cable ready. Again, my addiction to MTV fueled my working out. I would go down into the room every Monday at 8pm and run on the treadmill for 60 minutes… the entirety of Laguna Beach. I thank LC, Lo, Stephen and Kristin for my great physical fitness that year.

I am happy to say that I am nearly over my MTV obsession. Now when I work out, I mostly watch the food network. I am not sure that is much better though. Now when I come upstairs from the gym, I am starving and saying stupid Rachel Ray phrases like “Yummo” and “Delish.”

So whether it is Jock Jams or the Barefoot Contessa, I am happy to have some motivation in my life. Now I just need to find someone to be my secret psych and give me goody bags before I go to work!

Snail Mail

When I was in 3rd grade, my class was selected to participate in a pen pal program with a school in Zimbabwe. The unique thing about this program was that instead of sending letters through the mail, we used a new system was that was called “electronic mail.” We would cram our entire class into a tiny office that held the one computer in the school with an internet connection. We would dictate a letter, which our teacher would type on the computer. Once we were satisfied with it, the technology coordinator would push a button and “whoosh!” off our letter would go to Zimbabwe. I had no idea where Zimbabwe was or how the letter was taken from our computer to their school, but I remember thinking that it was a big deal that our class was selected for this program. We probably sent a total of 6 emails all year and we were always excited to hear back from our pen pal class every so often.

This morning, I went to an admissions directors breakfast at a nursery school. It lasted from 9:30am until 11:00am. When I walked out of the school and checked my phone, I had 27 unread emails. I didn’t feel quite the same excitement as I scrolled down my iPhone  reading my mail, as I did back in 3rd grade.

While I can appreciate the efficiency and ease of email, there is something to be said about snail mail. Not only is it exciting to receive something in the mail, but a hand written note is so much more person and touching than a quickly typed, often full of typos, email.

Another lost art form, similar to snail mail, is the mixed tape. I remember sitting at home on Saturday mornings, listening to” Rick Dees and the Weekly Top 40″, with Kasey Kasem trying to time my recording perfectly. There was nothing worse than hitting the record button at the start of the song only to have the DJ continue talking over the song. You would have to rewind the tape and wait for the song to come on again, scanning the various FM stations. The amount of work that went into making a mixed tape is far superior to CDs or MP3 playlists. Now to give someone the gift of great music, you simply purchase an iTunes gift card. It just doesn’t have the same effect as creating a mixed tape with the plastic case cover with handwritten song titles. While I do not have a tape player I still think that a homemade mixed tape is the best gift you can receive.

Today I received snail mail at work;  a card from my mom. It immediately brighten my day and gave me something to hang on the wall of my cubicle.

While my mom didn’t design the card, or write all of the words, I appreciate her taking time out of her day to browse the isles and pick out a card that says “just the right thing.” She sent me another one earlier in the school year that has been hanging on my wall since then, cheering me up every time I look at it.

I encourage you all, the next time you go to write an email to a friend or relative, think about sending a card or a letter. I guarantee that it will be one of the “little things” in their life.