Monday, May 29, 2006

Oh My Sweet Carolina

What can I say?

The days are too short, the moments too quick. Spending time with those you love is like that, isn't it? But like any trip I take, adventurous points of interest still seem to occur.

Just yesterday morning, in fact, I headed out at 7:00 a.m. for a nice run. Already 80 degrees and 800% humidity (rough estimates), I knew I was in for a good time. Afterall, I'm running at practically sea level here and coming from several thousand feet, that feels so good. I can run faster because I am not falling over dead, gasping for breath. That, I expected. What I did not expect was the woman sitting on a bench in her front yard with a loud Southern drawl, "ma'am, ah you craazay?" I answered yes (I've long admitted that, no matter what the context). Or the man watering his flowers, "damn, y'aint from 'round hea, ah ya?" No. That and all the looks that clearly read how dare you run through our neighborhood, have you no idea what is happening in Charlotte today... get your butt inside, open a Bud and watch the race, girl pretty much solidified the obvious fact that I'm slightly out of my element.

However, worry not, my Southern roots are alive and well as I've reverted back to my burried habits of drinking sweet tea and eating okra, neither of which I ever want at home. But here, they're just so readily available. And let me tell you, there are very few things that beat sitting on the Outer Banks, drinking your sweet tea and holding your new baby nephew while you listen to waves crashing and children laughing.

As they say, the sweetest winds really do blow across the South. The people around here are just sweet. That's all there is to it. It is a good place to find yourself in, especially when you've spent the better part of the current year questioning your life and your future and where you should be. Sometimes, the human connection of a stranger's welcoming is all the escape you need.

You can see why I've had very little time to blog. What with all the rocking of baby boy, sweet tea, arcade games and downhome-ness of it all, I'm just too busy trying to figure out a way to stay longer.

Oh My Sweet Carolina
by Ryan Adams

I went down to Houston And I stopped in San Antone
I passed up the station for the bus
I was trying to find me something
But I wasn't sure just what
Man I ended up with pockets full of dust

So I went on to Cleveland and I ended up insane
I bought a borrowed suit and learned to dance
I was spending money like the way it likes to rain
Man I ended up with pockets full of cane

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home

I ain't never been to Vegas
but I gambled up my life Building newsprint boats
I race to sewer mains
Was trying to find me something but I wasn't sure just what
Funny how they say that some things never change

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home

Up here in the city feels like things are closing in
The sunsets just my light bulb burning out
I miss Kentucky and I miss my family
All the sweetest winds they blow across the south

Oh my sweet Carolina
What compels me to go
Oh my sweet disposition
May you one day carry me home
May you one day carry me home

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Believe in Babies

There are a couple of thoughts that cross your mind when you hold a brand new baby for the first time. The first is wow. You experience this incredible feeling of peace and joy. The second (probably more specific to your relation to the baby) is that you cannot believe that you are so lucky to witness the single greatest miracle of the world and life as we know it.

As I held my new nephew in my arms for the first time this afternoon, I was and am undoubtedly certain that there has never been a more perfect, strong, beautiful thing to happen to the world. Without feeling hesitant or at all boastful, I can say that there has never been a better baby born than him.

The wave of love that washes over you when your little sister hands you her first born for the first time is remarkable. It's everything you share as siblings magnified, ultimately. I can only imagine how she's feeling about her child. If this kind of love and pride is in me, what must be going through her mind?

A huge source of this pride today is watching what a natural mother she is. I never really thought about it before but it hit me today as I watched her care for her child in a way that no one teaches. She has just the right touch, just the right tone of voice. He knows exactly where she is in the room, even at ten days old. I am in awe of the bond of this family. The feeling you get when you watch them I can only inadequately liken to seeing a perfect sunset that gives you the reassurance that every part of what you are seeing is meant to be. There is no other place or time for these three people than right here, right now.

Should this little boy ever read this, I would want him to know that he is the most perfect, most loved and most beautiful thing I've ever met.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Roll Over

Last night, while driving home from a friend's house, I witnessed a roll-over accident on the Interstate. I was about fifty yards away when I saw an SUV go tumbling across two lanes of traffic. Dust. Sparks flying. Glass everywhere.

They were headed North and I South so when they skidded, SUV on it's side, near the median, I thought they were going to come right over. Somehow, they came to a stop without hitting even one other car.

For some reason, the universe has a way of putting me in the position to witness a car accident about once a year. So, untrained but accustomed as I am, I turned on the flashers and pulled over. Everything they say about adrenaline is true. I called the police on cell phone and hopped over the guard rail to the SUV. Incredibly, all four passengers were beginning to crawl out of the car. As I talked to the 9-1-1 dispatcher and told her what was going on, two girls and two guys climbed out of this SUV, all showing no visible signs of injury. I watched as car after car passed by this shattered, overturned vehicle and not one of them stopped even to see if anyone was okay.

As luck would have it, the deputy chief of police just happened to be a few cars back. He was able to radio for fire and ambulance as well as talk to the passengers. He did confuse me though as he was telling them to get all their 'debris' out of the road instead of having them sit down. He was also asking for license and registration. I understood that he wanted to assess the situation right away but these people just ROLLED OVER, would it be totally wrong to have them sit down for a minute? He wasn't very nice to me but I had no problem arguing with him (that adrenaline) to let the poor kids sit down. Maybe he was concerned that alcohol was involved, which was entirely possible but probably also a good reason to have the passengers move as little as possible.

I hung up with the dispatcher and went to talk to the passengers while Deputy Important talked on his radio. I'll say it again, it is amazing that they all appeared unscathed. They were all coherent and talking and walking. I couldn't believe it but I was also really glad I did not have to see blood in this accident.

As more police and fire arrived, I said goodbye to the passengers and Deputy Important and headed back to my car. As I pulled away, the adrenaline started to subside. One thing people don't often talk about with adrenaline is the let down after it's over. An adrenaline rush is often followed by an emotional response. I was no exception.

I don't know why I cried. I don't even know what I cried over. Just relief, I guess. All the thoughts that you block out while you're acting on instinct begin to flow. What if it were me? Would anyone have stopped? Who would they call in an emergency for me? Who would be there for me? What if there had been blood? What if there had been children, like that last accident? Wonder what happened to those kids... and on and on until that, too, subsided.

I have no idea why that happens. I don't know what to think of it. Maybe your mind is just unblocked and open to what you're really thinking about. Maybe those emergency situations just cause you to think about what's important to you. Maybe you just need a good cry. I do know that I could never just keep driving; emotional breakdown or not, I will always have to stop.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh, one of THOSE people

Update: After re-reading, I think this post sounds a little ranty. I really found the guy's comment humorous more than anything. In fact, when I walk by him in the hallway now, I act like I'm about to run, just to see what he'll do.

Big Coworker Guy: So, you work out a lot?

Me: Yeah, I guess.

BCG: Do you like it?

Me: Yeah, I do. Most the time, anyway.

BCG: So would you say you'd rather work out than do anything else?

Me: Well, not anything. But probably most things.

BCG: Geez, you really know how to piss fat people off, don't you?

Here's the thing, I get grouchy if I don't work out. It's not like I'm some 5% bodyfat, protein powder obsessed, feel the burn kind of girl, I just have to do something almost every day to feel good.

I wasn't always like this, though. I could get by on one or two workouts a week, sometimes none at all and feel fine. But that was before a lot of things were working against me. Stress, full-time work and age are unforgiving. Soon, a walk around the block or a day at the beach doesn't have the amazing effects it used to on calorie burn. I realized I could no longer just stay in shape by walking around my college campus. So I run. And bike when I can. And do some weight training a couple times a week. And, if possible, go to yoga. They all kick my ass and they all make me a happier person.

It's hard for me now to imagine getting through life without being able to go for a run. When I'm trying to write or figure something out at work and it's just not happening, I go for a run. Almost immediately, the thoughts start flowing. When I can't seem to make a decision, I try a tempo run. Everything starts making better sense when your heart rate hits 160. I don't think I would have survived the Winter break-up of 2004 without my treadmill. I had to replace the belt on that one.

So, no, when I work out I'm not trying to irritate anyone. It's not because I'm showing off, it's because I'm being selfish. I don't do other things well if I don't run or do things that will help me run better. It is about me but I'm not trying to piss you off. In fact, when I tell you I need to go for a run before I talk to you or deal with something, pissing you off is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Room for Criticism

I make it a point to avoid passing judgment on anyone. No matter who you are, where you're from or what you believe, I want to accept you. I could never be a critic. I don't think anyone is paid money to say, "This ______ wasn't good or bad. I see the point, either way." The other day, though, Just A Cool Cat said that I should try being a critic or try criticism or something like that. I read that and laughed. I try not to criticize. I have opinions, that's true, but I don't consider someone or something less worthy of anything based on whether or not I agree with it. With the exception of evil, law-breaking, world-corrupting people, the occasions in which I find myself judging someone's actions are rare.

But they do happen.

The other day, I'm sitting at lunch with a friend and we're having normal girl lunch conversation when she starts telling me a story about a party she and her husband recently attended. Apparently, everyone was giving her a hard time, in a joking manner, that she'd become a little uptight lately. Instead of laughing it off or agreeing or even disagreeing, she became upset. When her husband didn't immediately come to her rescue, she became even more upset. So somehow, in the scorned woman sort of way, she decided the best way for her to feel more comfortable was to insult her husband. She made a joke about him having to do with his ability to uhhh... perform -ahem!- and indicated that was the reason she was uptight.

That's right. You read correctly. She insulted her husband in possibly the harshest way possible, in front of other people. When I asked her if this was the first time she'd done this, she immediately said no. She does it often, and insists it's just a joke. I'll keep my mouth shut on a lot of things but not here. I told her I wasn't surprised in the least that he hung her out to dry. If he is used to regular, emasculating insults in front of others, why the hell would he bother to come to her rescue on anything? She couldn't understand why I sided with him. It made the rest of our lunch uncomfortable and I'm not sure how much she'll share about her life with me from now on.

That's okay though, I stand by my opinion. I think this is all too common. There are women who treat men, especially those closest to them, like something other than a man; like a child or a pet or an annoying responsibility. I will be the first in line to say that yes, often men are capable of some pretty asinine behavior, but reacting to them like you're raising a five-year-old is not going to do you any favors. The 'asinineness' will continue and you are only going to distance yourself from this person. Women might ask "What if he does things like this all the time?" Then why are you with him? Or they might say "If I don't remind him fifteen times a day to do something, it will never get done." No, if you remind him fifteen times a day, it's nagging. "But he doesn't care what I say," she might say. Again, why are you with him? You're not the victim you think you are.

I know this might come off a little one-sided. Maybe you're thinking: what does this single girl know? Certainly not everything, but I do know that there's never a good time to insult your spouse in front of a crowd. And since I'm already putting myself on the block here, I'll venture to say that there's never a good time to do it in private, either. I don't want to meddle, I just want my friend to stop ignoring what she's doing. It would be nice if she realized that if she wants her husband to act like a man, she might try treating him like he is one. Be realistic. If you don't take care to wash the car, it's not going to be the shiniest one when you take it to the auto show. Above all, stop acting so surprised that your Knight in Shining Armor won't rush to the rescue when you've repeatedly told the world that you're unhappy with his sword.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Bullets

- On my regular Friday Starbucks stop this morning, I saw a guy wearing suspenders. Suspenders. He was young, good looking and well-dressed, except for the suspenders. Can anyone explain this?

- I keep having dreams about my new nephew. In my dreams, he's a baby (of course) but he can talk. And he's telling me interesting things and we're carrying on conversations. Can anyone explain this?

- Tonight I have a real date with the person I lied about in my last post. See, I told you it was based on truth. I wonder if I'll ever get the chance to tell him what I did?

- Before said date, I have to be at a fund-raiser I organized. I have received a total of three hundred RSVPs. We reserved room for 150. Yikes!

- A fifty year-old guy in my office just said "nice gauchos" to me. Yes, I am wearing them but I have no idea how he knows what they are.

- There is a show on television in which parents set up their son or daughter on a date even though the son or daughter already has a significant other. Then, they sit there and watch the "date" together with the significant other while making disgusting comments about the person they chose for their child to date. Is this honestly considered entertainment in this country? I'm ashamed of us.

- I'm not entirely sure but I think there is also a reality show based on Hulk Hogan's life. He still has the same mustache and it looks to me like the entire family is bleach blonde. Wow.

- I don't have anything else today. I want to eat lunch, I want to go home. Thrilling post, no?


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pants On Fire

It was a really long day. I was tired, distracted and just feeling a little out of it. So, pretty much the perfect day to run into someone you haven't seen in a while.

I was changing at the gym, minding my own busniess. Walking around the locker room in a bit of a daze, I heard my name. I looked up and saw the face of a girl I knew in college. We run into each other once in a while but I probably hadn't seen her in over a year since she lives out of town.

She was so kind as to fill me in on her life. Great job, great husband, planning to have kids soon, blah blah blah. Then she started talking money. And it became annoying. I hate when people flaunt their money and earning capacity and whatever. It makes me want to throw up and I don't tolerate this well. I think I may have rolled my eyes but that didn't stop her. She just went on and on about how she wanted to wait until her husband was "clearning $200K a year" before they had kids but "you know, the clock is ticking, ha ha ha."

Naturally, after she'd done her best to prove to me she was living in the Land of Superiority, (the human equivalent to a dog peeing around it's house- you know, if it's house were six thousand square feet and made of pure gold) she asked about me.

"Are you married yet?"

"No, not yet."

"Are you dating anyone?"

And then I did it. I took a partial portion of truth and made something out of it. "Yeah, I am."

"Oh really? And what does he do?"

"He's a physician." What am I doing?

"A doctor. Wow. What kind?"

"He's a surgeon." What?

"Oh wow," she says "jackpot!"

"Oh, I really don't know about that. He's a good guy."

"Well good for you."

"Yeah, take care, okay? And good luck with the babies."


I could not believe myself. How could I do that? It was such a natural reaction, I can't explain it. The words just flew out of my mouth like I'd said them countless times before. And I am not a very good liar. I wondered if a lie based in truth is really a lie? I've been tempted in the past to have one of those boyfriends who went to a different school that was really far away but I never did it. Maybe I was just taking my turn. Maybe I just really wanted to end the conversation with this money flaunter. I know, I know. Still ridiculous.

I spent my workout beating myself up a little. Your life is good. You are a great person. Why did you lie? What's wrong with you? You should be more proud than that? You probably make more money than her husband. You know that, right? You are doing quite well! And why a doctor? You're so cliche. Gah!

But I got that out of my head and to tell the truth, I only felt like fifty percent guility about it in the end. The other fifty percent was like "damn right, jackpot!"

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

He's here!

It seems ridiculously irrational when you hear it out of context: I love him and I haven't even met him.

I say it and even I wonder how it can be possible. I adore him more than I ever anticipated. He's here and he belongs. I'm in awe of my ability to completely love something I have yet to see or touch. It's a human function that I feel with every part of me and yet, I'll probably never understand.

Last night, on the East coast, a brand new little boy came into the world. He is healthy. Mom was strong, dad was a trooper. All is fine.

I hope, somehow, they can feel all the love and excitement that is coming from two thousand miles away.

The days between now and when I can be with them will be some of the longest I've ever spent. I don't know how I can wait to see this perfect baby. I don't know if I can wait to look into my sister's face and tell her how deeply proud I am. I can't wait to see this family and tell this kid that I, without question, will always be his favorite aunt.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Things you can learn in a weekend

- You can cut over four inches off your hair and no one will notice. I mean, OVER FOUR INCHES, people! Seriously.

- Your mom is likely the best mom ever and even if you tell her often, it means more on Mother's Day when accompanied by flowers and homemade cinnamon rolls. I get to continue my reign as Best Daughter Ever for a few more days (until sister has the baby and then it's all over).

- I cannot, definitely cannot, date younger men. Tried with the twenty-five year old. Met some other 24-25 year olds. And, no. Just no.

- Mysterious knee injuries can appear on Saturday and disappear on Sunday allowing for a fantastic two hours of running. A big ol' thanks to the knee injury gods. Apparently, you rest on Sunday, too.

- You can celebrate Cinco de Mayo one week late and still have just as much fun. The Great Margarita knows nothing of dates and time.

- All these years later, it is still absolutely no fun and not a good idea at all to save your studying for Sunday night. But I did it anyway so I suppose therein lies the difference between the 26 year old me and the 16 year old me.

- Songs will take you back, no matter how strange. The eighteen year old cousin you used to babysit who is graduating high school next week hates when you tell the story of how you remember the song that was on the radio the first time he fell asleep in your arms. He's embarrassed not because you rocked him in your arms but because the song was Slow Dancing by Johnny Rivers.

- Some things never change. The cute neighbor from down the street who you used to have a crush on as a kid is now bald. And even hotter. He's like the Sean Connery of Colorado (except less annoying and better looking).

Friday, May 12, 2006

In Demand

Last night, I concluded that I was far too popular to study. I had the best of intentions but the phone just wouldn't stop ringing. Apparently, every one needed to talk to me. What could I do?

I first talked to a friend in Tennessee. I miss her. She's such a good, down-to-earth type and whenever I talk to her it's like my own personal reality check. She's a mom to two beautiful kids, the wife to a deployed soldier and a friend to me and she holds it all together so well. I know it must be so hard some days. Away from friends and family, husband half a world away and two kids under the age of five, I cannot imagine. Yet, when we talk, she always wants to hear about me. She lets me yammer on about what I'm up to even though so much must be on her mind. I'm so lucky to have her, even if the friendship can only be fed on phone calls and occasional visits.

I then talked to my sister. At nine months pregnant she is surprisingly hilarious. She told me the story of how she had the classic "barefoot and pregnant" moment this morning when she was half dressed and realized the dog had gotten out the front door and was halfway down the street. So, in her new North Carolina front yard she stood barefoot, pregnant, towel on head, in her robe and yelled "Daisy, get your dumb ass back here!" I was worried how she would adapt in a new city with a baby on the way. Clearly, she's going to be just fine.

Just as we hung up, I talked to another girlfriend of mine. She also has two kids under the age of five and has just completed nursing school. She took finals today and said she did well, though I can't imagine how. I mean, I can't even get studying done when the phone is ringing. She had to study with one kid drawing on the walls and the other wetting her pants. Maybe I just need to learn how to apply myself.

Finally, mom called. She spent eighteen minutes (I timed it) telling me how I needed to meet the son of one of her clients. Apparently he's my age and very successful. And Jewish.

"Mom, is he a practicing Jew?"

"Well, yes."

"Okay, I'm not. Nor have I ever been."

"Well, I just thought it might be nice."


"I guess not. I'm just trying to throw out a line here, honey."

"I'm not drowning. Don't worry."

I know she had good intentions and probably didn't consider anything further than the two of us just meeting but this just goes to show how the mind changes once you're no longer in a certain situation. The strange part is, she never used to do this. Maybe she's going through a phase. She is, after all, about to become a grandmother for the first time. I guess I have to cut her some slack.

I got less studying done then I'd planned. It's okay though, I'm popular and really, we know that counts for so much more than brains. Admit it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Top 10 (as far as today is concerned anyway)

Yesterday was one of those days that I had to work to remind myself why I work so hard. I had to remind myself that just because I feel ugly/fat/dumb/tired/old doesn't mean that I am, in fact, ugly, fat, dumb or old (definitely tired though).

So, taking a clue from Sizzle's posts not too long ago, I made myself list ten things I liked about me on the drive home.

The following is what I came up with:

1. I'm a dreamer. Sure, I have a good base in reality, a good business mind and I'm careful with things important to me but there's always going to be that girl that imagines beyond what's sensible.

2. I like my music loud. This is how I drive home every day. No matter who it is, I like it loud enough that it feels like I'm actually part of the music, or it's part of me. The ride home is for decompression, not background noise.

3. I'm loyal. I will not sell you out.

4. I like underdogs. The littlest guy on the football team is my favorite, hands down.
Hey, I'm a Red Sox fan. I can't help it.

5. I'm driven. I'm not okay with sitting still. I need to keep trying for bigger and better or I'm just not me.

6. I'm supportive. When I believe in you, I tell you.

7. I take care of myself. I know when I need to run more or have ice cream less. I know when I need a mental break or a new adventure and I take it.

8. I use my life. I don't take my time for granted.

9. I have always had nice hair. This is not as superficial as it may sound. I really do like it.

10. My only vices are Diet Pepsi, flip flops and travel. It could be much worse.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Just when things were getting good

For a runner, the only thing more frustrating than an injury is an intermittent injury. Here today, gone tomorrow, only to come back the next. It's tricky and unpredictable and throws you off your routine.

A few weeks ago I wrote about this little knee problem I'd been having. It would only hurt sometimes and only about a mile or two into the run and then it would be fine. So I kept running. Then, about nine days ago (most runners know the exact details and time frames of their injuries- we can be anal like that) I ran my first run with no knee pain whatsoever. It was gone. I was thrilled.

This past Saturday I ran a five mile race on a hilly course and felt great the entire time. The knee didn't act up for even a second. Sunday, I did my long run of ten miles and the knee was still good. I was ecstatic. I thought it had finally become a thing of the past.

Monday was a rest day so Tuesday's run was a six miler. I was about eight minutes in when it started to hurt. About nine minutes in when I started limping. 9:32 when I had to stop. It hurt worse than it ever had before. I knew I shouldn't push it, so I walked home. Honestly, I was pissed the entire time. Truly irritated and deeply mad. I know that sounds drastic but I couldn't believe that after all the icing, massage, bracing and cross training that the pain was gone for over a week and then came back.

It's quite possibly the most frustrating thing I have to deal with right now. Not because I can't walk or won't be fine in a week. It's because feeling good about running is about the only thing keeping me sane right now. When I'm out there, cruising down the road or trail, I don't have to do anything else. I don't have to decipher code or event plan or do laundry, I just get to sort it all out and get away for a while. And now, I can't.

The intermittent injury is not only keeping me from a normal running routine, it's keeping me from a normal life routine. I don't know how much longer I can deal with it.

Oh yeah, and it snowed last night. Yes, snowed.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Ticket Out

This evening I spent about three hours studying at a neighborhood coffee shop. I haven't studied in a long while so when I started a couple weeks ago I knew eventually I'd have to get out of the house to do it. There are just too many distractions at home.

It was nice and quiet at the coffee shop. The music was at just the right volume to not interfere (I was one of those kids that had to do homework with the radio or T.V. in the background) and the people working brought me water twice when they noticed my tea was gone. It was really a perfect environment to maybe, just maybe, start to remember math I learned ten years ago.

One of the employees walked by me just as I was engrossed in a word problem. Yes, the dreaded word problem: "Jim can buy five apples and two oranges or three oranges, one apple and four bananas for the same price. How much are the apples?" Huh? So as I tried to remember why I cared about the price of apples, this employee approached me. She looked about my age but seemed to have twice the energy when she spoke.

"Sorry to bother you... I just wondered what you were studying."

I lifted up my book for her to see the title.

"Oh, what's that for?"

"Grad school, entrance exam."

"Oh, wow. That's some hard crap, isn't it?"

"Yeah. I'm not exactly loving it."

"That's why I'm so glad I'm getting married."

"Wha? Why?"

"Then I won't have to deal with any of that."

"Oh, I see." And I looked back down at my book as fast as I could.

Did I hear her? Do married people not have to do math? Is this some secret that only the marrieds know? Dang. Never in a million years could math been my thing so if I'd have known that, I would have signed up to get married years ago. Like when I was eight.

But I'm pretty sure I know married people that do math so that can't be it.

Rather, I think this young girl has ideas about marriage quite different than my own. Of all the opportunities I believe marriage can present, not once have I thought about it as my ticket out. I've never thought of marriage as a solution to life's problems. A cushion at times, but never a free pass on challenge or adversity.

Already, she's put limits on herself and her marriage. It's as though she already believes that being married is a plan that cannot include some things. She believes it's going to save her from things she doesn't want to do or doesn't like. I know I'm not married, but I'm pretty sure life's likes and dislikes present themselves the same way they always did. I'm pretty sure, vows or not, that there will be hard days and troubles. It's not some carefree amusement park ride sheltered from outside forces. I'm a little sad for her.

I'm also reassured, though. I mean, married people can get out of a lot of things just by being married. Taxes, certain living expenses, and blind dates, just to name a few. But, if they want to take a grad school entrance exam, even they cannot get out of math.

Except for that part about the boat

A friend and I were talking about this song we'd both heard recently. I believe it's called Size Matters. It's about a girl (you know, the nameless, faceless dreamer from most every song) that wants a lot of things in life. Someday.

She wants a big house, a nice car, a huge bank account and even a boat.

Right now though, she just wants a man. A man with a "big ol' smile," "big ol' heart," etc. "Size matters," get it? Nothing materialistic, of course. Generally, I agree with every part of this song, as did my friend and probably many other women. We've had our share of jerks and boring guys and all we really want is to laugh with and feel loved by our partner. Everything else may or may not come later.

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to spend some time out on the lake.

A day of sun, sailing, beer and music is really my idea of a good time.

And I have to say, while that love and laughter thing is definitely on the To-Do list, I'm not sure I'd be jumping at the chance to trade in a boat for it. I mean, the boat is pretty much guaranteed fun. But maybe someday, as the song says.

For now, I'm going to not-so-secretly hope that there would be some kind of compromise and I could have both.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Further proof dogs will eventually take after their owners if they spend enough time together

She may not be able to "stay" but at least she can choose a good wine.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Treadmill Schmeadmill

It's winter in Colorado! Haven't you heard? Oh yes, we have grey clouds and sleet and cold to spare!

So, not wanting to catch pneumonia- which, turns out, is not a disease invented by my mother so I'd wear a coat- I ran on the treadmill today. B-O-R-I-N-G is really the only way I can describe this activity. I set out for a good five miler with some intervals and up until about four minutes in, I was feeling pretty good. I had that I'm-a-runner-and-nothing-can-stop-me attitude. But then something did stop me: boredom.

In four minutes I had flipped through twelve different songs, watched everything on the six televisions I could see from where I was and talked to both people running on either side of me, twice.

So, I decided that it was Let's Make A Deal time in JustRun world. This is a little game I play when I'm running where I start to make deals in my own mind so that I can finish a run. Sometimes, they are simple like "get to the end of the block and then you can turn around." Other times, on the really hard days like today, they're more complicated. I begin equating the completion of a run with totally unrelated events or tasks in my life. Today went something like this: "if you get through this run, you will complete the project you've been working on tomorrow... if you get through this run, you will have no problem finding your way around the new city you'll be visiting in two weeks... if you get through the next mile, your dog will finally learn the word 'sit' does not mean 'run circles around me and bark'" and on and on it went.

Obviously, this is a distraction I use to get my mind off what I'm doing. It's a distraction driven to the extreme by the monotony of a treadmill. But what if that were really how things worked? What if events totally unrelated to one another became the determining factors in our lives? What actions depend on other actions? And I realized I already knew this because this is how it works.

There are no accidents. Gritting through a treadmill run may not mean I'm going to be better at work or at finding directions or making the dog listen to me but it does mean something. It means that though it may not be obvious right now, there is a reason for the miles I'm running. I'll be better for having run them; stronger in body and mind.

And so now I know the reason for the treadmill. It keeps going and going as long as you'll let it. More speed can be added and you can adjust the incline but it just continues to turn under your feet. And you get through it. Not for the accomplishment of today's five miles, but because it's leading to all the miles after.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What I Hate About Twelve Hour Days

Twelve hour day. Those are some bad words right there. Four hour meeting. Even worse.

It's days like these that the little nagging voice in the back of my mind starts to scream "You are not meant to work in an office forever!" At which point, of course, I scream back "I KNOW!" The thing is, right now I like this work. It's challenging, it pays me well and I work with some fantastic people. The other thing is, I don't know what else I should be doing right this second so I do the best I can right here. That's the kind of thinking that comes of a twelve hour work day. Deep, right?

The length isn't really what I hate about the long days anyway. What I hate about the long days is that when it comes to an end, no one knows it but me. No one is sitting here at home or on the other end of the phone for me to tell that my long, ridiculous day is finally over. Sure, friends and family are often there but it is just not the same. I want to pick up the phone and call the person that is designated to me at the end of my twelve hour day.

It's magnified when you get home, too. Instead of changing your focus to someone else, you're still thinking about you. Your work, your day and your thoughts are the only things that get to occupy your time. Yes, I have plenty of thoughts about running and volunteer work and writing that take my mind off me but again, it's not the same. There are days that so much is on my mind I want to just be able to forget about every bit of it by focusing on someone else. Whether they have good news or bad news or no news, I just want to hear it. I want the perspective you can only get from putting yourself aside and being part of someone else's life.

As someone who tends to bounce around a lot I've finally figured out that what I'm really doing is trying to find that place that is a balance of comfort and freedom. There have been moments that come close but to say that they're ideal would be a lie. I know that traveling and working my butt off and keeping up with an impossible schedule are merely pieces of a place that I hope to someday be. There have been times when I honestly felt like I was almost there. But almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, right?

I know my life is good. I know a twelve hour workday is something for which to be thankful. I know I'm blessed and damn lucky. So when I say that something is missing, I don't say it in spite of all that I have. I say it because of all that I have. I won't shed tears over this feeling and it won't depress me into a pint of cookies-n-cream but I can't deny that it's on my mind.

If there's anything to learn from a twelve hour day it's that there are twelve other hours in the day in which you have to live the rest of your life. I just have to ramble on until I'm okay with the fact that I'm not in control of this... or plan a quick vacation to the beach, which I'm going to do right now.

UPDATE: Trip planned. Thank goodness I can control something.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No Good Deed

I headed out for a six miler today. Weather was beautiful, I'd left work a whole half hour early and I felt good. The running gods, however, see days like this as a challenge.

The first mile went well. I was still a little stiff from a five mile race I did on Sunday but that seemed to get better with every stride. As I came around a corner heading into mile two, I saw a flash of white. A bird? A plane? No, a dog. This little fluffy shi-tzu (yes, shi-tzu) comes running up to me wagging his tail. So I stopped, looked around for an owner, saw nothing and looked down at the little thing. He just stood there, collar but no tag, wagging and waiting. I couldn't leave him. Thoughts of my little beast being passed up crossed my mind. So, I coax him up to my legs and try to pick him up. He jumps into my arms as if he'd done it a hundred times before and off we are into the neighborhood to look for an owner.

Thankfully, this search didn't last long as I came upon a neighbor who didn't own the dog but knew where he belonged. He offered to take him until the owners got home and I trusted that he was honest and not the Mile High City Dog-napper or something like that. So back to the run.

I tried to pick things up where I'd left off but I was distracted and out of the rhythm I'd settled into before. I kept going but missed the turn I'd planned on taking and ended up going up a huge hill instead. And then another. And then another. Okay, just a hill workout, I told myself. My calves were pissed, to say the least and I still had 3 miles to go.

Still, I kept going. I ran past what used to be an open space and saw they've started to build condos there (because we need more, obviously) and in case there was a chance at missing the construction, a few non-English speaking men decided to yell something out at me. I had The Stones playing in the iPod so I couldn't exactly hear them. If I had to guess though, it was probably words to the effect of "Hey, hot stuff! Where did you get those killer calves?" But that's just a guess.

So on I carried on to mile five still unsure if I was ever going to actually start feeling good. I was running and I wasn't in pain and my heartrate was steady but I felt bad. It's possible there was a seven ton plow attached to a large chain which had been placed around my waist and I was now turning the fields in the middle of July in blinding sun with no water. I shall now proclaim the new running nickname of "Tractor."

As I finally made it to mile six, I passed two little girls playing in their front yard. I saw they were eating cookies and drinking Coke -their mother, no doubt, is a woman that doesn't mind complete criticism, judgment and ridicule from others- and I was jealous. Part of me wanted to stop for cookies and Coke. And I wanted to tell them to give up the cookies and the Coke now or they'd regret it but I didn't. I just kept running deciding it was not my responsibility to teach them that lesson. They would learn it in college or soon after when their metabolism changes and their jeans don't fit anymore, just like the rest of us.

About two minutes before I would have reached my doorstep, I somehow managed to step in a hole and come mere inches from leaving half of me on the sidewalk. I can now go confidently into my audition for Extreme Running Idiots. Check local listings.

I'd had enough so I walked the rest of the way home. Maybe I should have just left that dog alone.

Monday, May 01, 2006


I can honestly recall when I figured out what it was. Though not old enough to understand, I knew it was there. There was something about it that just wasn't right. It was just an element of life for some yet for others, overpowering. Some have a love or adoration for it while others have an addiction.

It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me angry. It makes me sad.

I can remember the first time I saw him drunk. I remember the way he stumbled and raised his voice at inappropriate times. I remember the way some people tried to run to his rescue while the rest simply turned away. He thought he was fine, as always. We sat through Christmas dinner, trying to say and do the right things. Like any beast, it was better to appease it than cause a stir. Some family members remember this day as a "bad day" and some probably don't remember it at all. For me, it's the day I started tracking what would be the deterioration of a man, an alcoholic, my uncle. My mother's brother. My grandmother's son.

The hardest part of looking back at that time is knowing it didn't have to be. He was friendly, smart and fun. He was the exciting uncle with the nice car that everyone wanted to hang out with. Successful in his field of work and financially comfortable, he had it all. He had the support of a family, the love of a woman and the energy of youth. But it wasn't enough. He lacked self confidence and the ability to make a decision; the pressure too much, the expectations too high.

The bottle was never a stranger to him but the progression from acquaintance to friend to confidant to lover and finally, to obsession was a fast-moving affair. Once a means of escape became a means of survival. Ironically, it will also be the means to an end. It pains me to watch. I can only imagine it to be like watching the sinking of Titanic. What once was a beautiful vessel full of hope and possibility gradually disappearing into the cold sea of despair, piece by piece. It's what happens when the vessel is unprepared for a change in course. He has no way to cope, no way to rally his crew. They just stand by, in inconsolable panic or hopeless shock.

It is always the bystander that suffers most. The infuriation boils in me when I see what this has done to his mother. Her eternal hope is no match for his need. He has taken her money, her time and her heart over and over again to feed this monster. It is pain no one should have to endure. This is what I hate about it, what I hate about him. I want to scream at him and ask questions and get through to him but I know it's futile. He cannot comprehend my feelings. My goal is not his. I want to protect my grandmother. I want her to have a real, present son. He wants his next drink. It's that simple, even though it's not.

This is also the part I will never completely understand. I'll never know the power of that need. I'll never know the point at which a person must be when the only alternative is to constantly drink yourself into obliteration. How does it begin? What goes through your mind? Is it weakness? Is it pressure? Does it happen in a moment or does in sneak in? And what does that moment feel like?

And, my God, why can't you pull yourself out of it? Why, when everyone around you is so willing to throw out the lifelines, do you turn away? I cannot grasp this, no matter how I try.

So I watch. Unable to help and often, unwilling, I simply do what I can to bolster the others, still so hopeful and entwined. I nod my head, as all good sounding boards do. With them I will cross fingers and say prayers, all the while knowing that I'm really doing it for them. My hope is not lost, just redirected.

Maybe it's because I feel the same about them as they do about him. They'll hold out his lifeline, I'll hold out theirs. Maybe it's because they haven't accepted it. Maybe they never will. Essentially, though, I know the reason for my choice. I know why I cannot remain as steadfast and hopeful as they do. Any opportunity I had to form the foundation of those optimistic bonds and unbreakable lifelines was lost on Christmas day, many years ago.