Friday, June 10, 2011

If I Can Do It. . . .Anyone Can

In junior high school I hated Mondays. For all of the usual reasons, the ones I still have today as an adult--the weekend is over, getting up early, etc--but mostly because on Mondays we ran the Short Course. The Short Course was a 3/4 of a mile run that the gym department at my junior high developed so that they could humiliate and torture teenagers in a legal way. Every Monday for three years we all put on ill fitting bright purple t-shirts and short shorts and trudged this course. The athletes and stars loved it and bolted around the thing like their heels were one fire. The rest of us lumbered along red-faced and sweating and just enduring it. Some really unfortunate people struggled even more and had the humiliating honor of being last.

It made me hate running. Hate sweating. Hate gym teachers who wore spandex shorts for a living. In three years no one instructed any of us on improving our times or taught us how to run better. We all learned to just slack off for the first couple of months so that our times would "improve" so we would pass. Most of us actually got slower by ninth grade as our hatred of the stupid thing made running it even more difficult.

After junior high I never ran again. A base or two playing softball. Awkwardly across the street as to avoid being hit by a bus. I made jokes about not even running from a serial killer. Even thinking about running made me remember the shame of being slow, of not being able to breathe. Made me hear the yelling and belittling voices of those teachers.

But around Seattle everyone runs. Everyone. That grandma at the grocery store? Her too. And it seemed a couple of years that basically everyone I knew was training for a 5K or had just run a 5K or was considering a half marathon. And I wondered what their problems were. Didn't they know that running was embarrassing and painful and horrible in every way? Still, I bookmarked the Couch to 5K program three years ago. I had baby weight to lose and maybe that would help.

Oddly bookmarking a running program on the internet doesn't make you lose weight. PRO TIP.

A few months ago my friend L started squeeing about running. She had been a couch potato before this (though we went to junior high together so I knew about her secret jock past) so this was a big turn around. She couldn't stop talking about it. She would just gush about running and doing races and well it made me think. Mostly that aliens had taken over her brain. But also that if a slacker like L, admittedly one with a much more athletic background than mine, could do it. Maybe I could too?

Then she started pressuring me to do the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. Our friend T, a breast cancer survivor was doing it. It would be fun! etc. And I agreed. But still I didn't do anything.

Finally, less than a month before the race, I had a panic attack thinking about how I would run three miles when I had never once run more than one. And that was around 18 years ago. I was going to die a gasping death from cardiovascular activity.

I dusted off the Couch to 5K program and got going. At first it was awful. Running one minute was SO HARD. Couch to 5K is designed to take couch potatoes like me from nothing to running a 5K in about nine weeks. I had three. So instead of three times a week, I ran every day (one rest day per week). But it was amazing how the intervals got easier, how I went farther each day. And I found myself enjoying it. I mean, running sucks, it isn't fun at all. And yet it was time each day when I wasn't strapped to email, I wasn't working, I wasn't commuting, I wasn't caring for my three year old or doing laundry. It was just me and my head and the Ipod.

I had to get up early, at 4:15, to do my runs. But day after day I kept doing them. I bought running leggings and a real (scary) sports bra. I started using a GPS tracker to chart my mileage. I just kept going. I wasn't running to lose weight or for any good reason at all. I was mainly running because I had been telling myself for a long time that I couldn't and I really just needed to do it.

I am by nature a quitter. At least when it comes to physical stuff. Give me a work problem and I will puzzle that shit out but make me try something physically hard and I will give you so many reasons I can't do it. I will quit early and often. It is something I hate about myself.

Last week I ran the Susan B. Komen. I ran it at a snail's pace and didn't do it as fast as I wanted (mother fucking hills). But I finished. 3.3 miles, the farthest I ever ran. I was so proud of myself, amazed at myself. Because my feet swelled up Saturday like little basketballs. I had a major gastrointestinal event that morning that I will spare you the details of. I had lots of reasons to quit. Good reasons to quit. But I didn't. I didn't run fast or well but I did run it.

And then I did something even more amazing. Not the next day but the day after. I got up at 4, laced up my shoes and started running again. And registered for my next 5K next month. Where I am going to KILL my time.

And I kind of want to kick the shit out of some gym teachers.

Monday, May 02, 2011


I think most of us had long given up on anyone catching Osama Bin Laden. I assumed that we had given up, for all of the rhetoric on the subject. The world is a large place, and while he was very recognizable it isn't impossible to hide. Some days I can't find my keys, it seemed more than likely that a mass murderer who was trying to hide could somehow mange it.

My brain didn't know how to process the words that President Obama said last night.

I saw the celebrations on TV. The kids cheering and chanting and singing. A large part of me wanted to cheer too. Not out of joy but something more like relief. Patriotism certainly. Satisfaction. I also felt shame, shame to feel that joy over something monstrous like state-sanctioned, totally justified, life-saving murder. Shame of all of us for acting like our team just one the Super Bowl. My feelings were complicated--are still complicated today--and I bet 90% of all of us feel the same way. I felt the same gross, nauseated feeling today when I started seeing the smug Facebook statuses. All of the people trying to shame others for feeling joy and relief.

My feelings about all of this, 9/11, the "war on terror", politics in this country for the last ten years, how much of our civil liberties we have signed away are complicated. I am angry at all of us and the terrorists that took those things from us. That we gave it all away sickens me. I am angry and sad and yet somehow weirdly proud that we are still here. And watching the demonstrations and the weird political posturing and the smug asshole Facebooking I think that we all may feel the same way.

I don't feel happy that the man is dead. But it is comforting all the same.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Dad Update

I am surprised every time that I see my father now. He has lost more than forty pounds, gone down three pants sizes. He wasn't big before and now he looks like a lollipop--his large round head atop that skinny frame. I can't help commenting on it, even though I know it is awful, because I am so jarred every week. I've only seen legs that thin in commercials for Feed the Children. His watch spins around his wrist.

I forget he is sick.

I forget and then I see his skinny knees and the deep creases around his eyes and it all comes back. The fear. The worry. My mother and I cluck around him like deranged hens trying to find things he will eat. We nag him into wearing pants that fit around the waist instead of ones several sizes too big.

He is a different person. I know my father always imagined he would die young and spent a lot of time trying to protect my mother. He has always been over-insured. He worked brutal hours trying to earn enough money. Now he has reached the age he never thought he would and his health is threatened. He retired, even though financially it is causing a serious shit-storm, and I can see him have to re-arrange his whole way of thinking. He is a different person because I can see now that he sees that this is what he has been working for--there is no future time to worry about. Enjoy your wife, love on the grandbabies, take a deep breath because this is IT.

He is sick but there is something else. A bit of ease around the eyes. A comfort in his slightly baggy skin. A comfort with saying how he feels in a way he never would before. I hate what brought us all here and I would give almost anything to make him well again. But I like this version of my father. The one that comes up and eats a braised chicken (no salt) and fixes my doorknob and chases my daughter and doesn't worry about what time it is. Who just sits on the couch and watches baseball and just IS. He could never do that before.

I hope he can hang onto this feeling, this comfort. Maybe it will help us all with what is coming.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

There Are Always Cracks

It seems odd to put this here, after a glowing post about J and marriage and yet I just need to put it somewhere.

Being married is HARD. And I know this is a big no shitter to anyone who has even dated some one for more then ten minutes but even after ten years it occasionally hits me like a bat to the face. It is true that most of the time J makes me feel loved and supported and like I am part of a team. We have a family and that is a special thing that is more important to me than anything else. But it is also true that he hurts me more and deeper than anyone else.

Because when the person who is supposed to love you and value you does something cold or cruel it hurts more than a stranger.

It is also true that with marriage and now a child I feel more of at a loss than I did before. I am not going to leave him because of something small and yet each time there is something small that he doesn't see (no matter how much I show him) I feel cracks.

It is possible to have some one be the person you love and value and need and yet also acknowledge that there are scary holes in that relationship. As a child with parents who have been married for forty years and grandparents who made it more than sixty I know that those cracks exist in every marriage. Right now I am just sad, the kind of sad that will fade in time.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Am Just Saying The Show Involved a Hot Dude in Gold Short Shorts Singing Journey

I can't say that February was my favorite month.

My father was in the ICU for a few days and we now know he has a very serious liver disease. He has lost forty pounds in the last month. However, he is home from the hospital and working part time and every day he isn't in the hospital is a good day.

The kiddo got a nasty stomach flu and had me scrubbing her carseat, every surface in the house and sadly, MY HAIR, from vomit. Which I then got. For five days I couldn't do anything but stay in bed and hope that one day I would be able to drink water without vomiting up my toenails. I lost six pounds in those five days.

I also missed out on a job that I had been promised. One that would have been challenging and ideally suited for me and also more family friendly than I have now. Also more money. And I am near tears again just thinking about it.

But at the end of the month was J and my anniversary--a biggie--TEN YEARS. I walked around all day in this very annoying way shouting TEN YEARS like I was in Gross Pointe Blank. It is hard to believe that we were ever twenty two years old. Somehow it is also hard to believe that we are not still twenty two years old. I don't know what possessed twenty two year old me to get married--it remains my most impulsive decision of my lifetime. I decided to marry him despite having no logical reason and doing it entirely based on gut. And it has turned out to be my best decision. We celebrated by spending the night downtown in Seattle, in a hotel, after eating an AMAZING meal. And going to a burlesque show. The show was awesome. We drank way too much wine and then more wine at the show. And also shots. And the evening ended with us walking back to our hotel singing Queen all the way.

Marry a man who knows all the words to Fat Bottomed Girls is what I am saying.

May ending February on a high note be a sign of good things for March. Less puking, parents in the ICU and soul crushing career sadness ahoy!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Going To Need A Lot of Pep Talks

Saturday morning I struggled to wake up for Mo's birthday party. I had so much to do. I had been up late cleaning and baking and worrying too much about getting everything ready. And then the phone rang.

My mother apologized because they would miss the party. I still can't believe that this is what they worried about. My father was bleeding in the ER. Had been bleeding all night.

He is still in the ICU and though he will survive and (hopefully) for quite some time I am devastated. We don't have a lot of answers and all that is clear is that nothing will ever be the same. All I hear now is this low level hum of anxiety.

In the months coming up my parents are going to have to make some tough choices about treatment for my father. Because of his type of illness I am going to have to make some choices too. This is what it is to be a family. To feel the sadness that threatens to split you wide open.

My husband gave me a pep talk this morning. Said the words that people need to hear when their world is falling apart. I find myself repeating them again and again. Because I have to get up tomorrow - no matter what happens.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Great Hair

My daughter's hair grows in tiny, perfect spirals. Her curls bounce around her ears when she walks. This is the result of a rather ridiculous regimen of shampoo, conditioner, detangling spray and--shamefully--hair cream. Oh and a wet brush. All hail the wet brush. Her hair turns into a puffy cotton ball while she naps so the it has to be resprayed and brushed again (I know you are not supposed to brush curls but only when wet and seriously the wet brush is gentler than a comb on them). Moms of boys stop me at the mall, at the children's museum, at Target, and sigh wistfully. Older girls ask me if I used a curling iron on her hair.

My daughter can walk in high heels. Her walk in heels is more purposeful and careful and, well yes, slower than her regular walk. Her normal walk is like a mouse scurrying on wood floors--well a mouse who stomps. Her high heeled walk is a like a colt headed for the trough.

My mother hexed me--the way that mothers do and your mother probably did too. After one too many shopping trips during the eighties looking for dresses without ruffles or lace or frills she gritted her teeth and spit over her shoulder and cursed me with, "I hope you have the girliest, fluffiest daughter around." She thought that I would be frustrated by a child so different than me, the way I annoyed her.

Instead, at least so far, it doesn't seem to have to be the two extremes. I don't know what made me a tomboy, it isn't as though I am an athlete or anything. I think I was just drawn to the status that being boyish brought me. Girly things made me seem silly. Maybe our views of gender are different now or maybe my daughter is just smarter than I was because to me it seems as though she doesn't have to choose. She wears dresses all the time--but jeans underneath them. Mixes pink with her Gabba Gabba shoes. She plays dress up and space ship and everything in between. She is getting to be exactly the kind of girl that we all should be, the one that does what she wants and is who she is without worrying about what everyone else thinks. Now all I can do is protect her and hold my breath that she gets to stay that way.

And admire her really great hair.