Congratulations to the climbers of FSU for crushin’ the competition at the first CCS event of the 2011 season!

While I was out catching snowflakes on my tongue at Horse Pens 40, a stellar group of climbers was representing Florida State University at the first Collegiate Climbing Series competition of the 2011 season.

The results? The ladies scored an impressive 131 points, bumping them up to second place overall. The men came in fourth place with a combined 61 points. Congratulations to everyone who participated!

Here are some snap shots from the competition, which was held at Vertical Ventures in Tampa:


Special thanks to Montana’s mom for snappin’ these photos while everyone was competing

Plenty of Horse Pens 40 updates shall be heading your way – but first, I’ve got 500+ photos to edit, a sore body that needs recovering and a lunch that needs to get in my belly.

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Thoughts on Room 314 and Vince Binder

For the past twenty minutes, I have been pacing in front of room 314, on the third floor of the Diffenbaugh building on Florida State campus. My first class of my last semester begins in eleven minutes, but I’m not sure that I can walk through the heavy metal door of the classroom.

What’s keeping me from entering room 314 and taking my typical spot three seats up from the last row, all the way to the left? – This is the classroom where Vince Binder began teaching me the fundamentals of Public Speaking, before his brutal disappearance. My breath caught in my throat the moment I realized where I was, and my palms have begun to tremble with sweat.

The last time I entered 314, my classmates and I had just received confirmation of our teacher’s murder. Our closely knit class had prepared kind words, sobbed in each other’s arms and shared a bubbly toast in his name. Then, I fled the scene and abandoned the memories contained within room 314.

Standing in front of this door brings waves of recollection. The time I did a spoken word interpretation of Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” and how Vince always wore thrift store shirts that proclaimed advertisements for car washes and little league teams. He always told us, “it’s your world.

The first day he didn’t show up to class, we joked about hangovers and playing hookie. The second week, we wrote down attendance and someone jokingly scribbled “hope you’re not dead” on the paper. What irony. He cried when he realized his foolish humor was the truth. I remember the candlelit vigils, being too emotional to attend the memorials, pouring myself over every news article in hopes of an update.

I considered running back to my car and dropping the class in favor of a different section, in a different room – but I realized that Vince would be mocking me right now, making cat calls about me being a big wimp. He would shake his fat head in disbelief that I’d be such a coward, and he might even get offended that I’m trying to erase the thoughts of our class.

So, I’ve decided to walk inside. This one’s for you, Vince.

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The Sweet Taste of Freedom

Behold this joyous moment: I AM FREE. After weeks of torturous demands and constant work, I have finished my final exams – all that’s left to do are the usual travel articles for work, on my own schedule. The temperatures may be plummeting to unbearable conditions, but I’m feeling quite warm down in my cheerful loins. I can’t remember the last time I simply had nothing to do.


It is a peculiar sensation to look up at the dry-erase calendar that hovers above my desk. Usually crammed with to-dos, assignments and obligations, my calendar suddenly grows silent after December 8th – today, the date of my last final. I am absolutely content to revel in the few events listed for the remainder of 2010: my climber-style pot luck on the 10th, climbing trip to Georgia/Tennessee sometime next week, the first day of winter on the 21st and Christmas holidays to be enjoyed with family in Miami. Beautiful.

Cheers to everyone who has likewise completed their fall semester! Those of you with a few more to go, keep truckin’ and you’ll be reveling in this glory shortly. This feels like an appropriate time to mention how fast this final year at Florida State University is flashing by. This is my last ‘winter break,’ and never again will I have a ‘fall semester.’ It’s a furious clash of thrill, anxiety and bittersweet uncertainty – but for now, that matters not. It’s time for some hot chocolate and a nice, long nap.

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Hittin’ the Road and Livin’ the Life – Roadtrip Nation visits FSU today!

One of my loyal readers shared an event with me that I felt compelled to spread to everyone else. Roadtrip Nation is a national organization that calls for people to embrace the road trip lifestyle, and join their movement towards realizing your passions while hitting the open road.

Folks, if you’re going to be on Florida State University campus today, you better check out the Roadtrip Nation RV that will be parked on the Union Green all day. If you’re not in Tallahassee, check out the tour dates to see when they’ll be visiting a campus near you!

I can’t wait to visit their truck today. What better way to kill time between classes than by chatting with like-minded individuals? I foresee an excellent dialogue about different forms/purposes behind road trips, the connective threads that all trips share and the various experiences we’ve all collected while out traversing American roads.

They recently uploaded a manifesto onto their homepage – and naturally I had to snatch it to share with my readers:

Can’t read the manifesto? Click the link for a full-sized image and in-depth description of RoadTrip Nation’s mission.

They also air a documentary on television, under the namesake ‘Roadtrip Nation.’ Local listings indicate that it won’t be airing any time soon in Tallahassee, but you can watch episodes for free online.

I am crossing my fingers that I can somehow finagle my way towards getting involved with this fantastic organization. They are currently accepting applications for their Summer 2011 roadtrip tours, and I’m thinking that could be an amazing way to spend my first months of freedom after graduation. I’ll bet they haven’t had any climbers yet! Anyone up to join me?

On a similar note, only two days until I hit the road towards Tennessee for the next big climbing trip! Don’t worry, you’ll still be getting your Morning Fresh fix, I’ve figured out how to keep the updates flowin’ even when I’m off playing in the mountains.

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Tasty Thursday – Asian/Mexican Fusion Fish Tacos from WTF

Get your mind out of the gutter – WTF stands for What Tasty Food, and the two ladies behind this delicious website are cooking up a storm of dishes to combat the stereotypical college student’s meal itinerary. Their website says it all: “Kelsey & Megan, two college roommates looking to survive the year on more than just ramen.” – And boy, do they! Amongst my favorites are their Margarita Cupcakes and Vegan Pitas, but what really caught my eye was their latest post, featuring Japanese-Mexican Fusion Fish Tacos. Oh, yes.

Motivated by a remediation assignment on collaboration, Megan Valente found inspiration in a Japanese guacamole recipe, and eventually crafted these tantalizing tacos.

For ingredient lists and step-by-step recipe instructions for both the guacamole and the fish tacos, click the image above or follow this link to the post. The mixture of traditional taco ingredients and unexpected Asian-influenced additions promises to expose your taste buds to something they’ve never experienced before. Mixing avocados, ginger, jalapenos and wasabi in one dish? Unheard of, yet somehow these ladies managed to pull it off.

Visit the WTF: What Tasty Food homepage, and be sure to check out the blog’s Facebook page, which is constantly updated with sneak peeks at upcoming posts. All you Twitter addicts can follow the site on their official Twitter page. – And as always, be sure to give them a ‘thumbs up’ on your StumbleUpon bar!

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Operation Beautiful is TODAY!

As previously discussed in this Morning Fresh post, today is Operation Beautiful at Florida State University – and anywhere else you may be. Across campus, positive notes will be placed on bathroom mirrors, random hallways, car dashboards and everywhere in between. I’ve got my own little post-it pad ready for action, and am heading to class extra early this morning so I can run around spreading the good vibes.

If you see one of these somewhere on campus, you know who was responsible. I sincerely hope everyone takes a few minutes to participate in this inspirational event. I am going to bring my camera along with me to class today, in hopes that I’ll spot some other people’s notes. Check back at the end of the day for a mini-update with the images of Operation Beautiful notes found on campus. If anyone finds any post-its during the day, take a picture and I’ll feature it on The Morning Fresh!

Remember: You are beautiful. What you wear, how much makeup you have on, your hairstyle – none of that really matters, because you are a beautiful person. Pay no mind to the media, or the snappy girls around you – those projected fallacies aren’t beauty, YOU are beauty.

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Why you should take part in ‘Operation Beautiful’

Loyal readers, by now you know that one of my focuses for The Morning Fresh is promoting positive vibes and healthy, happy attitudes. This morning, I came across an invitation to partake in Florida State University’s ‘Operation Beautiful’. This community project aims to promote everything that I stand for – raising self-love, and squashing negative thinking.

On October 6th, post-it notes will be spread throughout campus bathrooms, car windshields, building stairwells and everywhere in between. The event invites women to create their own post-it message and leave it somewhere that other people will be able to absorb the uplifting spirit sent through each little note.

I think that this is truly an amazing way that we can all participate in spreading good vibes throughout not only campus, but the entire town. I plan on incorporating Operation Beautiful into my daily life, and am going to start carrying around a pad of post-its so I can leave a quick ‘You are beautiful!‘ whenever the mood strikes. No matter where you’re from, you should join the masses of women who are striving to erase negative body images and foster healthy relationships with our bodies and minds.

It would be great to see this concept blossom into an entire series of uplifting post-its. Why limit the message to just ‘You are Beautiful‘? I want to leave little bits of inspiration that could change a stranger’s day, or even life. Something like ‘Forget everything else, take that trip you’ve been dreaming of.‘ or ‘Today is THE day.‘ One of my favorite inspiring images that I have come across reads “If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.” Whatever version of this idea applies best to your lifestyle, take it and run with it!

For more information about the Florida State ‘Operation Beautiful’ event on October 6th – click here.

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Ode to the Curious Boy on Campus.

With my daddy’s vintage Ray Bans on and a hurried pace in my steps, I headed back towards my car after a long day of class. As I walked towards the Woodward Garage, I noticed that the boy behind me was stepping dangerously close to my heel. That’s odd, I thought to myself. I quickened my pace, but he kept up.

“Excuse me, are you in one of my chemistry classes?” Clearly he had mistaken my identity.
“Definitetly not, I’m an English major,” I replied.

While this easily could have been the end of our conversation, this boy keep chatting as we walked together beneath the shady trees on our brick path. I asked if my mysterious twin was pretty, and while his mumbled ‘yeah, sure‘ wasn’t very convincing, I took it as a compliment anyways. He extended his hand, and introduced himself as Zack. His firm handshake impressed me; Daddy always said the most important first impression you make is with the quality of your handshake.

“So what if I was this girl?”
“Well, I would have asked how you felt about the test.”
“If I had taken the test, I probably would have failed; I’m an English major. The only thing I remember about chemistry is nomenclature. It’s just a good word!” He laughed at my naivety.
“Binomial nomenclature, there’s a good one for you, English major,” he offered.
“Even better! I love it.”

Our paths began to separate, and I approached my usual shortcut towards the parking garage. As I turned to walk away, he stopped me with more questions. He asked what year I was, and we commented on how bothersome it is to look so young now, but that it would benefit us to appear youthful as we grow older. Our light conversation continued, and this stranger seemed genuinely interested in everything I had to say.

At the point where our paths could no longer continue side-by-side, I bid him a bittersweet farewell. This one’s to you, Zack – pleasant stranger who made my day with your light conversation and friendly smile. Zack in your ordinary blue shirt and your summery shorts, your handsome hawk nose that you wore like a proud family heirloom. May more people follow your example of blind kindness towards your peers. I wish I could contact you again to let you know what a positive impact you made on my hectic day. If by some cosmic chance, you happen upon this – Thank You, Zack.

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