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So, Pocket recommended my own article to me as part of their Best of 2017. Which, like, WHAT?! Then I found out it was one of the most-shared music features across a bunch of sites this year (again, WHAT??!). I’m still processing it all. I didn’t write as much as usual this year, but I’m proud of this piece and so humbled that it was a small part of an overdue story about a deserving and inspiring artist. I hope it helped more people appreciate or revisit her work, and maybe fit into a much larger conversation about women reclaiming their part of the narrative in 2017.

Some thoughts on being a female runner

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This piece originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I really wish this was the only message of its kind I got over the past few days, but it isn’t.

Three women who went out for runs in the past two weeks didn’t come back. All I can think about — and, apparently, all many of my friends, family, and loved ones can think about, too — is how easily that could have been me.

Running is, for the most part, a solitary sport. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. I can count the number of people I run with on one hand, and that’s by choice.

A running partner is a big commitment, at least, it is to me. You have to gel on an unspoken level: who sets the pace, who chooses the course, who moves behind when the path narrows. You have to know whether they’ll push you or force you to pace yourself or match your speed and endurance. You have to trust them enough to be okay with being around them when you’re bare and incredibly vulnerable — no makeup, just out of bed, sweaty and smelly, running on fumes. You have to be comfortable enough with them to know that most of your time together will be shrouded in silence.

Suffice to say, I run alone most of the time.

I run early in the morning, usually around 6:30 a.m., but in my 13 years of running, I’ve been out on a run practically every time of the day — 5 a.m., 3 p.m., 10 p.m., you name it. I run by the East River and the Hudson River and the outer loop of Central Park. I run busy New York streets and quiet suburban ones. I run my old cross country route through my hometown’s wooded park; I run the secluded trails of Central Park. I run in double layers of leggings and fleece tops and jackets and I run in spandex shorts and sports bras.

I am always afraid.

I am always afraid, even when my mother sternly tells me to stay away from the trails if I’m by myself and I laugh it off and tell her to stop being paranoid. I am always afraid because I’m neurotic and anxious and that’s just my nature. I am always afraid because things happen, because solitary women anywhere, doing anything, are always targets. I am always afraid because the female jogging victim seems like such a regular phenomenon that I don’t know why there aren’t actually statistics to source about how commonplace attacks on them are.

Sometimes I am more afraid than others. Sometimes I cut runs short or run faster than I can handle or just don’t run at all. Sometimes that fear quiets itself to just a very slight whisper, sometimes it only exists in the habits I’ve formed, like how I swapped my weightless iPod shuffle for a much heavier iPhone, because what if something happened?

You know what? I’m angry. I’m so, so angry, and this isn’t the first time I’ve said so. I’m angry because these brutal attacks keep happening to women and I’m angry because I’ve been criticized and made fun of for being upset. I’m angry because people have gone so far as to create an entire sub-reddit to mock my fear. I’m angry because this doesn’t happen to men.

All of this anger and fear, even if it usually just exists on a subconscious level, is exhausting. I’m tired. I want to walk out the door one day with nothing but my keys and just go. I want to know what that sort of freedom feels like. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

11 Things Old Souls Are Tired of Hearing, Because No, We’re Not Trying To Be Hipsters

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This post originally appeared on Bustle.

I am secretly 65. Or at least, I’m a 65 year old trapped in a 24 year old’s body. I think I was born old; a feeling that many of my fellow old souls probably understand.

The past fascinates me. I spent a lot of my childhood in the care of an older babysitter who would play Abba and The Mamas and the Papas, and allowed me to watch My Fair Lady over and over. After dinner and bathtime, I would beg my mother to let me plop down in front of the TV before bed. Of course, by that time, the only thing on cable mildly suitable for kids was Nick at Nite. And so I drifted off to sleep to The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

As a teenager, I took an intense interest in the ’70s. I devoured films by old Hollywood icons and drove everywhere blasting classic rock through the speakers of my mom’s minivan. Today, I hunt for vinyl records in my spare time and have seen bands like Fleetwood Mac more times than I can count on one hand. But more than my taste in music and movies, being an old soul has had other implications: I find that I get along remarkably well with people at least twice my age, more so than I do with most 20-somethings.

Old souls are often misunderstood — both by people their own age and by those with years on them. It’s fun to joke about now and then, but really, there are a few things we’re tired of hearing. Things like…

1. “You know, he’s old enough to be your grandfather.”

Thanks, I am well aware that my crushes on men like Robert Plant and Robert Redford are a little age inappropriate and that my mom may or may not have had crushes on them when she was my age. Handsome is handsome! But, like nearly every other celebrity crush, they’re never going to come to fruition. That is, unless, someone invents a time machine.

This goes for real life too. Personally, I couldn’t date someone more than a few years older than myself, but a lot of old souls tend to, especially since we get along better with older people to begin with.

2. “You’re just trying to be a hipster.”

I’m certainly not buying records because they’re cool again. I buy records because I love how different vinyl sounds, especially if it’s an older record with crackles and soft pops. While stopping in an Urban Outfitters to pick up an expensive reissue of a classic rock album is easy, it’s not as fun searching for elusive wants and rarities while building a collection. It’s just what I like to spend my time doing.

3. “You couldn’t possibly like that. It was made before you were even born.”

I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware that I needed to be carded before I liked something. Few things are as inane as regarding age as a prerequisite for taste. It’s just as bad as my asking my parents how they could possibly like Taylor Swift or the latest Hunger Games movie — aren’t they a little old for that?

4. “You’re so boring. Come out! Live a little!”

Old souls are also often introverts. We are very comfortable being alone with a book or movie to digest on our own. Big parties aren’t really our thing, but we will gladly talk about life for hours over dinner with you. We don’t not know how to have fun, it’s just that we enjoy different things.

5. “You’re such a mom.”

We like to take care of people, and we’re always going to be the mom friend, the one with the band aids and extra napkins who wants to make sure you ate something. Better safe than sorry.

6. “Don’t you want to do what people your own age are doing?”

Which is…? There is no set way to spend our youth. We’re all on our own path, doing what makes us happy. And sometimes, that’s knitting to an old record at home.

7. “That band is not as good as they were in the ’70s.”

Any fan of any classic rock band that’s still actively touring has probably heard this one too many times. Of course bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sound different. They’re senior citizens with a hard partying past. We’re not oblivious to this. But, unlike our parents, we didn’t get the chance to see them in concert in the ’70s because we weren’t alive, so we’ll settle for watching them continue to rock now.

8. “You’re kind of intense.”

We’ve probably heard this a million times since we were young. Old souls are more mature — that’s one of the reasons why we get along so well with much older people. We relish deep, intellectual conversations, and that’s not a bad thing.

9. “Do you even know what’s on TV or the radio these days?”

Um, being an old soul does not mean living under a rock. We have an affinity for the classics, but modern pop culture does not go ignored.

10. “I bet you wish you lived back then.”

Actually, no, not really. There’s a difference between taking interest in the past and romanticizing it. As much as I would love to experience certain parts of history, I like the 21st century, with my moderately improved rights and ease of technology. There’s still a long way to go in terms of establishing equal rights between race, gender, and sexualities, but we’re a lot better than we were a few decades ago. Plus, information about all-things-old is much more attainable now than ever before. I don’t think I could trade in either of those modern amenities.

11. “You like everything my parents like. How old are you?”

A lot of things “meant for old people” are just better. Of course, that’s not a hard-set rule, but I’ve found that most things meant for adults are just smarter. If I can enjoy them in the company of other old people, even better, because old people are awesome. (And to answer your question, I’m 24.)

Images: Hedgehog Fibres/Flickr; Giphy

Long Distance Winner

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This post originally appeared on Bed Crumbs.

I started running when I was 11. I was a kid who wanted to go out for every sport, so when I was old enough to, it was a given that I would join the middle school track team. But it was more than that. Running felt natural, it felt right to me. It felt like something I was meant to do.

After school, I would hurriedly change into shorts and a tee shirt, lace up my Nikes, and headed out on a mile long loop that circled my house, the nearby elementary school, and community gardens. It was my time. For awhile, there was no pressure. No one made me run but myself. I was a latch-key kid; I could have just as easily sat on the floor in front of the TV and inhaled all the sugary cereal (which I did on occasion). It was my choice to head out the door every day.

When it came time to pick our events for track, I knew the mile was mine. I was little and quick, and reveled in running suicides during basketball practice, but sprinting races intimidated me. The sprinters were bigger than me. More confident. It seemed like everyone wanted to be a sprinter. Everyone but me.

The crowd was decidedly thinned for the mile. At the time, it seemed like a long distance. Having traumatized so many kids after years of dreaded gym class fitness tests, only the seemingly insane willingly chose it as their number one event. I was one of them.

Roughly 1600 meters make up a mile. Four laps around a standard sized track. When the gun went off, I shuddered, shocked, then cautiously took off. Even as time went on, my reaction remained the same. Surprised by something I was expecting, then nervously bolting.

Here’s the thing about racing. Like life, there are leaders and there are followers. There are those who sprint at the sound of the gun and those who hang back with the crowd. For a long time, I was in the second group.

For the first two laps, I would hold my own, watching the girls who flew wildly at the start fade away. One by one, I passed them until it was just another girl on my team, Molly, and I stretching away from the rest.

The distance between the two of us ebbed and flowed. Sometimes I was right on her shoulder. Most times, she had a solid 200 meters on me and I focused on her back like a target, imagined myself catching up and blowing by her. When we rounded the track into the final 200 meters, I would pull out my not-so-secret secret weapon: a kick. A burst of energy where I sprinted as hard as I could, felt my legs go numb and just flew.

Still. A late burst couldn’t make up for a hesitant start. I was second place, always. Often, mere seconds separated us. But still. Second place burned. It wasn’t first. I wasn’t the best. I forgot about all the other girls behind me, instead focused on the race as existing solely between Molly and myself, and I lost.

“Where do you get that kick?” my coaches would ask, bewildered. Who was that girl I became in the final showdown, and where was she for the rest of the race?

The sprinter was confident. The slow starter was not. She was overly cautious and afraid to fail. What if’s plagued her mind. What if she started too fast, couldn’t hold it, and failed spectacularly? Cautious Carrie hated second place, but she far preferred it to last.

I didn’t win my first race until the day before my 21st birthday, nearly ten years after my second place streak. I set my personal best, running a 5K in less than 20 minutes. That morning, on the way there, I didn’t think I could do it. I knew it was in me somewhere, but I was afraid. “Go out strong,” my dad said sternly. “Have some guts.”

Have some guts. Don’t be afraid. Lead, don’t follow. All lessons that apply to both running and life. All lessons I have come to embrace. But here’s another lesson that I’m just now learning: have guts, but pace yourself.

Months before that middle distance win, I ran the New York City Marathon. I finished faster than my goal time — fast for a first timer, period — and still, within hours after it was over, regrets plagued my mind. I could have done better had I pushed myself more. If only I had started with my actual pace instead of underestimating myself. If only I hadn’t stopped to pee at mile 18. If only I hadn’t walked through that one water stop. If only, if only, if only.

Looking back, even with all those nagging questions still in my mind, I won that day. I had guts. I was fearless because I finished. Sometimes being cautious is a good thing. What if I had gone out hard? Maybe I could have finished faster, but when you’re running a 26 mile race, is that a chance you’re willing to take?

This is why people make that “life is a marathon, not a sprint” analogy. It’s long. The pace changes. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. It’s not finished in one fell swoop. You’re in it for the long haul.

“You’re only on mile six of your marathon,” my dad told me recently, when I was in the throes of a quarter life I am not accomplishing my dreams and goals yet crisis. “You’ve still got a long way to go.”

Whenever I feel impatient or dissatisfied with things, I remind myself of that. Think of how I felt at mile six, still in Brooklyn with three more boroughs and twenty more miles ahead of me. It seemed mammoth. Possibly insurmountable. So far away. And yet, so close, and so achievable. I could picture myself crossing the finish line, just as I can begin to picture my future now. Have faith in the long distance winner.