Things You Think Upside Down
A GIF essay with U of A’s Sandi Morris
by The Trailer
Sandi Morris seems pretty unassuming: blue eyes, blonde hair, a southern lilt in her voice. Maybe a strange fanaticism for pole vaulting, but otherwise, you know, normal.
Then you look at what Morris creates, and it’a obvious she’s got a lot more going for her than just a 4.30-meter best.
The University of Arkansas broadcasting major had some time to kill this summer while watching the Olympics from her parents’ home in Greenville, S.C. So she went rabid making GIFs. “It’s better than a picture,” she says. “It’s a series that captures a moment.”
Freshman year, Morris was at the Florida Relays. She no-heighted.
“I have this habit of wanting to be around animals when I’m upset. So I escaped from the team and found the local reptile breeding place—“
You found a reptile breeding place?
Yes, she did.
“I may have used my per diem to buy a red-tail boa constrictor. I snuck him back on the bus in my pocket. His name is Cortez.”
“It was before the Olympics and the Fourth of July, and I was in a patriotic mood. My parents watched out the window while their 20-year-old daughter was drawing all over the driveway with chalk.”
“My dad tries to be a hard-ass to everyone he meets, but he’s really just a giant goofball.
“My favorite part is my mom in the background pointing at my dad. Perfect description of my family: me, messing around with some technology; my dad, trying to be Mr. Serious; and my mom, laughing at my dad.”
“I loved Nike commercials growing up—they always have the chicks run up to the camera and say, ‘Just do it.’ I set my phone up on the tailgate of my car, and was running around the backyard probably looking like an idiot.”
“We like to suntan together.“
“Yeah, he’s my sun-tanning buddy. Sun’s good for them.”
But doesn’t he try to escape?
“I’ve fallen asleep before, but he was still there, on my hand. Or I’ll lay him on my stomach. But then I don’t want to get a weird tan line of a snake on my stomach.”
“This was before the trials—I was trying to qualify, which didn’t happen. Two vaulters from Virginia Tech and I rented a car, and we drove from NCAAs (Des Moines, Iowa) to Earl Bell’s (nine hours away in Jonesboro, Ark.). Just strap the poles on the side of the car with a couple friends and hit the road, go pole vault.”
“Steve is an awesome little dude—well, big dude, depending on your perception of size. He’s now a class biology pet because I moved out here to Arkansas. I just couldn’t fit three 40-gallon glass tanks in the back of my car.” [Ed. note: Morris has two snakes—big ones—with her.]
“The 15 minute rule: practice is at 2:30, which means be in the locker room at 2:15. We have a few minutes to kill.
“I don’t know what non-collegiate athletes think we do in the locker room—all this serious stuff—but no, we’re just laying around, probably eating Cheez-Its.”
“GifBoom had a contest to see who can make the coolest Olympics-related GIF, so of course I spent probably two hours in my room making this.”
You must have won.
“Oh, no. The majority of GifBoom is 12- or 13-year-old girls, so it’s usually 14-year-old boys who make a GIF of themselves shirtless who get all the likes.”