Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Countdown to race day... Meanwhile, life goes on.

One of the hardest things for me to do in this two weeks leading up to my race has been to keep my NO HIGH HEELS restriction that I gave myself.  It's hard to plan outfits around me flats.  (At least it gives me the chance to use me pirate voice, mate!) That said, if I'm this beat after spending my day in flats, I can only imagine how my wittle weggies would feel if they'd been balancing on platforms all day.  I didn't do a single physical thing today and yet my body feels like it was put through a Cuisinart.

A friend and I taught a teacher workshop on campus today.  I can say I'm happy to report that it was an entirely nerve-free endeavor for me.  Perhaps my first?  I'm not sure.  It just felt like I knew everyone there and like the person I was presenting with was completely with it and I didn't really have anything to get worked up about.  Feel free to stand and applaud my lack of crazies over this.  I am.  Look, I'm clapping right now.  Okay, not really.  Maybe just clapping on the inside.

DAMMIT, Internet.  Somebody keeps calling our house tonight.  Somebody with a blocked number.  And then the somebody keeps not saying anything.  It's starting to really piss me off, and it just happened again.  There are only about two people we know with blocked numbers and neither of them is behind this, I'm sure.  I think it's probably a kid--a friend of Roo?  Or maybe it's some punkass student of mine who thinks they're being high-larious (yes, that's intentional spelling) by calling up PDawg and acting like a dork.  You know, I don't really care who it is I just want it to stop BECAUSE I'M NOT REALLY IN THE MOOD RIGHT NOW THANKS.

Back to what I sat down to write about...

I'm excited for Sunday's race and I'm trying to remember all the things I wish I knew last year or that I did know because someone was kind enough to pass knowledge along to me.  I thought I'd make a list for you (and for myself as well, because let's be honest and admit that I love a good list almost as much as I love a good chart...  NERD PRIDE) of things I am glad to know now.

1.  Cotton socks are the devil.  Don't believe me? Click here to see what the devil did to me on my training runs last year.  Polyester all the way, baby.  No trace of cotton.  Thanks.

2.  It's cold when you start a race.  Well at least this race.  You can wear one of those 28 High School T Shirts cluttering up your dresser and then happily toss it on the side of the road when you get hot, knowing that some lovely race volunteer type will scoop it up, wash it, and donate it to a person who needs a shirt.  Last year I chose Sophomores, class of 2010.  I think this year I'll be getting rid of one of my Senior shirts.  Could be a class of 2006 year, I think.  Plus this has the added advantage of making people think you're one of the high school students who would wear this kind of T.  And then SURPRISE, you bust out with your old lady slow pace and they're like whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa???


3.  Slow and steady might not win the race, but it finishes the race.  If you just keep moving, you somehow get to the end.

4.  Everyone is really nice there.  You don't need to be scared.  People want to cheer for you and be proud of you.  Even other runners.  Even the ones that are faster than you.  Even the old people that will totally lap you at about mile 6.

5.  Lots of people will be standing on the side of the road smiling at you.  This is cool.  It will make your day.

6.  There will be all kinds of people there.  You don't need to worry about what you wear, what kind of hydration belt you run with, any of it.  There will be all kinds.  Settle the heck down, Nervous Nelly.

7.  Try to save a little energy so you can stand and go through the free food line.  You will have just run a race, dangit, so get some grub.  Take some free Chipotle before you go home, for the love of Pete.

8.  The stretch from 8-12 miles is going to feel long.  Maybe back off a little bit there in the beginning, speed demon.

I am not giving myself a strict time goal, but I would like to do as good or better than last year. (2:37, approx.)  I feel like that's do-able.  I feel like anything in the realm of 11:00-12:00 min/mile would be something to really celebrate for me.  I'm happy that my friend Kel wants to run with me, at least to start.  I think having company will help me hang in there and maybe not get so lonely and frustrated in the long stretch on the levee.  We'll see.  I got my Gu-s and I'm ready to go, yo.

Meanwhile, life goes on for another two days around here.  School is school for two more days... I'm just hanging in there.  I'm happy that tomorrow's just a normal day--no meetings, no workshops, no nuthin'.  Just one more short run and then a little rest.  Then GAME ON.  And I mean to say slow but steady with reasonable expectations for a still-newish runner who is just happy to participate and get her carefully considered self congratulatory GAME ON.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

History repeating? Apparently.

From time to time I will click on a post from exactly one year ago. That's one of the benefits of having a blog--constant records of what I was doing at any certain time. And apparently what I was doing exactly one year ago was prepping to teach a ridiculously long day full of students followed by a teacher workshop, and feeling random just like today. Not much changes, huh? I say this as I'm prepping my material for tomorrow's teacher workshop and minimum day. I guess last year I was dreading a meeting (and I can't say I am dreading anything in particular so much) but let's just acknowledge the undercurrent of dread that flows not so deep beneath the surface of my being at all times. Something might happen and I might have to dread it. So I have a kind of pre-dread about me. Not my best quality.


One thing I'm not dreading is this weekend's Half Marathon. I'm kind of excited. I feel so much better this year since I've seen the course now. It also helps that my longest training runs this year were 12 milers (twice) which is way better than last year's paltry 10 miler. Holy freaking cow, how did I get a year away from last year's big deal race? It's kind of weird that I haven't run any organized races since, but I'm proud that I'm still running. I'm still a runner, albeit a slow one. I am still moving my body, and that's what counts. I love running. I never thought I'd get there or stay there. But I know it's going to be my ticket to health and activity as I age. That doesn't suck.

I think I'm going to go for a run later tonight. I'm not really sure. This week is an easy week so I don't overdo before Sunday--E was home sick today so he's guaranteed to be there. I don't know, four miles tonight? It's going to be a beezy of a 100 degree evening. Boo. I meant to run yesterday but it's hard to do when he's not around. Plus it just felt more like a macaroni and cheese and taquito night than a veggies and run night. It's the end of the month, and cupboard-cleaning meal prep has begun (the polar opposite of farmers' market/ fresh produce-inspired meal prep). If there's a silver lining to that processed food fest, it's that it only happened two days before payday this month and not at week two or three. Junky food nights are disappointing to me but they sure go over well with the under-7 crowd at my house. Yesterday felt like a day to give in to guilty pleasures; I spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning out my DVR and watching House, The Apprentice, CBS Sunday Morning (what am I, 80?), and Boardwalk Empire. Can I just set aside the fact that I watch TV like it's my job for a moment and tell you that I'm proud that ol' Crazy Eyes (Steve Buscemi) seems to have found himself a happy little slice of life in Nucky? Good for Crazy Eyes. He deserved more than Adam Sandler's weird pizza. Don't go telling me he's like, a real actor. He'll always be Crazy Eyes to me.

Anyhoo, what else is going on in our little world? E's settled in to Lawyerland with a 1960's-TV-dad kind of aplomb. He leaves the house every morning in a suit, comes through the door loosening his tie, and then slips into a uniform of white tees and blue jeans. I love that his hair (still lawyer-slick) still gives him a dash of Don Draper in his evening comfies. On a related note, Henry is suddenly smitten with his own white undershirts. They're quite the pair, my boys.

Roo is writing away, filling notebooks with weird details about animals and beanie babies and random factoids from science class. I love that her imagination incorporates material from her day as though it was the most natural thing in the world. In fact, I think it's what all fiction writers do, yet her prose is deliciously disjointed. She weaves forty or fifty characters into each narrative and illustrates (the solid block of text--no paragraph breaks) in the upper and outer margins. It's adorable. I want to scan the pages and save them, but I don't dare take her precious notebook when she's looking.

The school year is moving along, but starting in August gave this fall an inordinately long feel to it. We're stuck in the doldrums between Labor Day and Thanksgiving and it feels like they'll never end. A heat wave in California is giving my students their own set of Crazies (and I don't mean the kind I get, I mean the kind where a speedball of hormones and high fructose corn syrup renders them incapable of doing anything productive or, dare I wish for it, quiet). I'm praying for a cool autumn the same way I prayed for a gentle spring after last year's long winter. We'll see if my hopes get similarly dashed.





Monday, September 27, 2010

Perspective and Our Cabin

I looked around the classroom. Once stuffed with desks and sporting a Thelma & Louise poster, it was now sanitized of personality by pale blue bulletin board and a few discarded tables. The room that used to feel overwhelming in my anxiousness now felt cramped, awkwardly small.





The river rushed past our car windows, a fluid hand guiding our blue Civic up the mountain like the curve of Cecchetti's 2nd port de bras.  Landmarks I used in youth to gauge how much longer were smashed up together like haphazardly bookended novels.  The drive that used to feel endless now jolted me with its quick finish.








We trudged to the fishing spot. Poles in hand like scepters, we were fisher-kings of Kyburz.  The monkeys mouths complained like their soft legs, but we arrived at the bridge faster than seemed possible.  The grand expanse of beach stretched a paltry ten feet in either direction.  The opposite shore, historically unreachable, was tangibly close.  The river that used to seem broad was now timid and narrow.





Perspective is nice, even when it offers a different narrative than one remembers.  I found myself repeatedly reevaluating memory in the last week: first in my tenth grade English classroom and then again at the family cabin.  It makes me feel as though I've aged when something seems shorter, smaller, or narrower than I remember.  Consequently it also makes me glad to remember it and appreciative of the chance to be there again.

I appreciated getting away for the weekend, too.  In fact, we were only gone two days and only traveled about two hours either direction, but the peace I get from being at my family cabin transcends the geographical distance away.  The cabin (built in either 1928 or 1948 depending on who one talks to) is in the best spot on God's green earth.  The last one on the road (and according to Dad this weekend, the first one built in the tract), it sits nestled between a sweeping granite egg of rock and a thick cover of evergreens.  Across the river is a steep climb of National Forest, untouched by man and sparsely populated by animal life save for the birds that dance across the tops of trees.





It's wrong to use words like "ours" when it comes to a river, but I feel ownership.  It's so rare that we have to share this stretch of rocky, ice-clear water with anyone.  The thunder of current against rock is background to many childhood memories, family summers raking pine needles, hopping rocks, singing into the roar--these are the things I keep close to my heart.  My best friends and loved ones are the only people who've seen this magical place.  It feels protected and safe.  It feels like a tangible piece of myself and though I'm so proud to show it off I do so with a little twinge of fear that someone might not appreciate its worth.

Being there is like therapy.  After the four of us spent an hour staring into the glint of the water, tossing rocks, and dipping our feet in the numbing water, I told E that if I could do that every Sunday, I'd be such a peaceful person.  It felt like church.  Like communion.  Like dancing.



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Indian Summer at the Cabin

We're just back from a short weekend at my favorite place on the planet, my family's old cabin on the American River. Love isn't a strong enough word to describe what I feel for this place. I had to share some of the pics, even though I'll do a longer post tomorrow.



I'm reminding myself tonight that Monday is an opportunity, not a threat. I'm feeling thankful that I have weekends so full of fun and family... hopefully I can wake up ready to take on tomorrow with a smile.

That's the goal. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Shoe York


My next pair, maybe? I kind of dig them.


I bought my first pair of Blowfish flats in New York. This adds an air of exoticism to an item that is decidedly ordinary, like frozen hot chocolate, or H&M. I realize it, but this small town girl is spellbound by the memory of gazing at a Filene's Basement (one I haphazardly stumbled upon: it was directly across from my unplanned subway exit), enough so to breathe a little cinematic magic into a pair of cheap flats. I took the subway alone on that trip because I wanted to see something and it became clear that I was alone in that aim. I wanted to walk through Wall Street, to eat street food, to see the Statue of Liberty with my own eyes. I wanted to see 1 WTC after it was and before it was something new. I was alone, I was terrified, but I found shoes.

That entire trip was financed on a shoestring. Money was tight, E and I had just come back together after separating for the first of what would become two times; as has been our way for the last umpteen years, we were living paycheck to paycheck. I remember furtively checking my balance daily at the B of A caddy-corner to my hotel, quietly calling E at home and ticking off details of deli trips and every morsel I ate. I didn't want my travel mates to know that I had to really make a choice when it came to another $8 slice of pizza. I wanted to make at least one paltry attempt at shoppy New Yorkness, even if it meant eating every breakfast at Starbucks (can you say gift card?) to save real dimes for my wardrobe.

After a mindfully independent excursion to Battery Park and the World Trade Center site, and the ensuing run in with a crazy purse-selling creeper, I descended into the bowels of the city once again, heading north for the Natural History Museum and Central Park. My ability to express the ineptness with which I essayed to travel solo by subway is limited. You can imagine your five year old trying to navigate a Los Angeles freeway and you might get close to my experience. I kept repeating things to myself I'd pieced together from hearsay and Rick Steves. No staring at maps. No phone. No fumbling around. No nervous glances to the subway diagram. Don't look rape-able, mug-able, offensive or rich. Okay, I'm pretty sure those last four weren't from Rick Steves, but I figured they didn't hurt and neither did the small metal loop I'd put through the double zipper on my backpack. Truth be told, nobody seemed to have an interest in me. I agreeably relied on my high school invisibility experience and gave an award-worthy and very method performance of Terrified Provincial Woman Rides Subway.

The calcified grit of New York surprised me more than I wanted it to admit out loud. I exited to the street feeling as though I was caught mid-blight in a frozen moment of New York's decay. It crumbled like the ruins of an ancient city but I was moved within it, driven through some weird moment in its half-life. It throbbed like a throng of electric ants: hunting sugar, cheating death. Decay and frenzy. Hot smells. And yet I loved it in sick fascination of its otherness. I was a foreigner in my own country; I tried to absorb it all, the delicious and the nauseating.

I blinked into the sun like a mole and grabbed at the 3% of air that pulsed past a little fresher than inside. I rose up to meet Filene's, a monument to years spent watching Clinton and Stacy on TLC. Though I was sure that activity was decidedly unchic, I was happy to see anything familiar. (I realize now I was rejoicing at nothing more than a glorified TJ Maxx, but this is hindsight.) Inside I went, past rows of irregular designer jeans and racks of pre-Jon Gosselin Ed Hardy. I took the stairs up the stairway to shoe heaven and found the most comfortable pair of flats ordained by God or man. They're like slippers without the schlub.

As an effort to reduce stress to my legs before running this year's Urban Cow (née Cowtown) Half Marathon, I'm wearing flats for the next two weeks. Heels are off limits. Monday's walk up the ramp to my classroom in the brown New York Blowfish flats reminded me of how I slipped them on my feet in the store that July day and walked Central Park and Columbus Circle. How I glided past Tiffany's and paused at the window like all bad Audrey Hepburn wannabes, feeling myself join the ranks of decades of doe-eyed movie fans. My toes spread comfortably in the lime green suede. The sole was like a ballet flat; I felt light in them, feminine. I wanted to see something that day in New York, but the shoes are a good reminder that I really glimpsed a little at my own confidence, that I forayed into trusting myself and what the world has to offer.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Runnin' Tunes

At your request, here are the latest running tunes, my Summer/Fall 2010 playlist:

Somebody to Love/ Justin Bieber (don't judge)
Hey Soul Sister/ Train
Calfornia Gurls/ Katy Perry
Can't Be Tamed/ Miley Cyrus (I said no judging!)
Break Your Heart/ Taio Cruz ft. Ludacris
Uprising/ Muse
Alejandro/ Lady Gaga
You and Your Heart/ Jack Johnson
If We Ever Meet Again/ Timbaland ft. Katy Perry
Telephone/ Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce
Nothin on You/ B.o.B ft. Bruno Mars
Misery/ Maroon 5
Love the Way You Lie/ Eminem
Like a G6/ Far East Movement
DJ Got Us Fallin' In Love/ Usher ft. Pitbull
Club Can't Handle Me/ Flo Rida
Hot Tottie/ Usher ft. Jay Z
Check It Out/ willi.am & Nikki Minaj
A Year Without Rain/ Selena Gomez
Round & Round/ Selena Gomez (I watch a lot of Disney Channel, mmmkay?)
All I Do Is Win/ DJ Kahled ft. Ludacris
My First Kiss/ 3OH!3
I Like It/ Enrique Iglesias ft. Pitbull
Airplanes/ B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams
Not Afraid/ Eminem
Bulletproof/ La Roux

I make no claims about the appropriateness of the lyrics of any of these songs.  After all, my favorite running song of all time is I'm the Ish.  Not for children.  No.  Maybe not for adults either.  But dang if it doesn't make me run and laugh.

I gotta have something to balance out all the Coldplay and David Grey, right?  If you can think of a good running song I missed, share it with me!

Happy exercisin'!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Redefining Mondays

Do you get the Sunday night dreads? The feeling that life as you know it is over and that your week is about to trample any hope you had of relaxation or rest for the next five days? I do. Generally it's on my mind after about lunchtime on Sunday and I can't stop that feeling of uh oh, here comes the week from creeping up on me. I hate that. It's like giving away half of my weekend to a funk of worry.

Monday hasn't been much better--since I've been among the working people of the world, I have woken up Monday morning in a state of already behind and better hurry. I start work Monday morning feeling out of sorts and annoyed, like I can't remember being there just two days ago.

So I've started trying to redefine the Sunday/Monday spread. Since school has started, I'm reframing them both in my mind into something positive and it's making a huge difference. My tweet from this morning is a good example of how I've been trying to talk myself up with some peppy pep talkin':


Or this one from last Monday:


See? Positivity. Vegetables, dangit! I'm trying, okay! I play a similar game when I go in for an interview. I don't remember when it was that I figured out that "nervous" and "excited" feel exactly the same in my body, but I use that to my advantage and I tell myself it's an opportunity, not a threat. That's how I'm trying to look at Sunday and Monday now. An opportunity.

Sunday is an opportunity to get ready for the week. A productive Sunday almost assuredly means a good week around here, anyway. Yesterday we vacuumed and cleaned and I prepped lunches and veggies for the week. I made a big dinner so we have leftovers enough for a few lunches. Everyone picked out five outfits for the week with matching shoes and got them out where they could be found easily. I mapped out my runs, my dinners, and the kids' week at school. E ironed his shirts. None of that took too much effort, but the time it took will be time that pays off during the week.

Today I woke up and tried to get going with some cheerfulness. (Remember in Eat, Pray, Love when Liz has to practice smiling from her liver? Try that.) For me remaining in that cheerful space means waking up early so I'm not in a hurry. I'm finding that a solo cup of coffee before the kids wake up is such a great way to start my day. I took my time this morning but I still managed to be ready before I needed to leave. Feeling like I have extra time almost always improves my mood, so I built in more than I needed to trick myself. The kids got to my mom's on time, I got to school on time, my plans were all ready to go, and I could ease into the work day. It was a great day and even though I'm tired, the fact that I got in a load of dishes after breakfast meant that I could run after school without house worries. The fact that I got my run done before 4:00 PM means I can enjoy some good ol' fashioned Monday night TV time later, guilt-free.

The thing I like best about my new Monday approach is looking at the start of each week like a new chance to start over. I'm trying not to carry worries from work into real life time, and I'm trying not to let the headaches of a week before blend into the next week. No matter how bad a week gets, I get to start anew on Monday. Whether it's in my diet, my running habits, frustrations with work or E, whatever--a fresh start waits on Monday. It's making a huge difference in how much I enjoy my life. I can honestly say I really like my life, and I couldn't always say that.

I know I've written about this tons and tons, but one of the biggest challenges of my thirties so far has been to get over the I'll be happy when-s. What I mean by that is that for most of the time I was a teenager and in my twenties, I've been telling myself that it was okay to be miserable because at some magical date in the future, everything would sort out. Life just isn't that way. I filled every available minute of my life with obligation because of what it would get me in the future. There wasn't any empty space for life to just happen on its own. I'm so much happier now because I'm trying to appreciate what's going on in and around me every single day. Some days are bad and then we start over again tomorrow. But I try not to get so hooked on a ridiculous date at some point far away. There's so much to celebrate in the here and now. Even a Monday. :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Transformation

I enjoy a good transformation metaphor. Summer leaves, fading to the oranges of Autumn. Butterflies, emerging from chrysalises. Ice, melting. Seeds, sprouting. Night, becoming day.


I could use any of those to show what running has done to me--it's changed me and it continues to inspire change. It is transformative in my life on both a large scale and a small one. I have taken such an inconsistent approach to running that these realizations keep coming to me as though it's day one and I'm setting out for that first run all over again. But I'm happy to write down that my consistency of late has meant some tangible rewards in what I am able to do. I'm running longer, I'm running faster, and I'm running farther. This was a week of transformation.

Yesterday I did a 12 mile run--6 out, 6 back--out on a local trail with my friend Kel and two other people. You know that just the mention of this being a group gave me pit sweats when she asked me to go, but it really turned out to be such a good thing that I sucked it up and got out there. Just two weeks ago I was nervous about running with one other person, and here I was chatting it up (okay, mostly listening) as we floating along and watched the sun rise through smoke-thick clouds that blanketed the sky. The people that we ran with were lovely and the trails were lovely, and I had a wonderful little time. We started at 6:00 and did 12 miles--so I was done before 9:00 AM. Not too shabby.

Our long and winding path yesterday gave me lots of opportunities to test myself: to push through fatigue and my lack of assurance when it comes to how far I think I can run before walking, to challenge myself to meet new people, and to allow myself to dump the frustrations of a difficult week so I can exit the trail renewed. I didn't spend any time thinking about what made me mad at work or what I still needed to do at home in the rest of this weekend, and consequently I was able to find true peace and take a clear breath for the first time in a few days. I'd been writing down all my "to-dos" on my list every day but I was still carrying them around inside of me (to borrow an image from Sandra Cisneros) like coins inside a tin band-aid box. All that jangling meant I couldn't settle. I needed to go out and do something that was beyond myself to silence the noise.

In this past week I only ran three days, but each day brought a thing to celebrate. Tuesday, that I ran for five miles for the first time in my life without a single walk break. In addition, I had my best overall pace for any distance over 2 on that day. Thursday's run was slower, but a chance to feel proud that on the day after an arduously long day at work, I was able to get out and enjoy the humid night--and still (including several walk breaks) come out on the other side under my traditional average pace. Saturday's long run was the second farthest I've ever gone--the only run farther being last year's Cowtown Half Marathon. It felt better to run that 12 miles yesterday than it did to run 9 a few weeks before, and I am feeling really good today. All things to be happy about.

Running has changed how I feel about my body and what it can do; it's changed how much I stop to spend time in nature and taking in my surroundings. It's changed my weight (finally) for the better--and even though right now I'm still not where I'd like to be, I'm holding steady at a decent number. More importantly than that, I like how I look when I look in the mirror. I feel fit. I feel like my body can do things. This is nice. Now if I can just continue to build my cardio endurance and make smarter decisions--no heels for the next two weeks, because my right knee was yelling pretty loud on the last two runs--I think I'll start to see even more results. Urban Cow (re-named Cowtown) is two weeks from today. I feel so much more confident than I did last year.

I'm glad that this week running helped me to get back into a better mood and gain some perspective. My last few posts haven't been very positive and I think that yesterday's jaunt re-framed things for me, or at least helped me to come at them with fresh eyes. I don't want to be a complainer, and I think that if I can keep running I can get farther away from that. I hope so. Thanks for bearing with me while I got my whines out.


Friday, September 17, 2010

To TIRED... and BEYOND.

I have a familiar feeling today. I was tired yesterday with good reason (it was the day after Back to School Night left me drained) but today I'm something else. Something ugly. I'm beyond tired. This is what I remember about most of my years of teaching--this.

I hate to use my blog like a complaint department all the time, but I'm making an exception today so I can explore the depths of this fatigue. It's to the point where I can't really teach, only murmur some confused things at them and throw a few handouts their way, hoping for the best. Thank GOD that Friday is silent reading and group discussion day for my freshmen, or I'd really be in some trouble. Oh, my poor precious little snowflakes. They have no idea how badly I need a nap.

I'm happy I got two five-mile runs in this week, but I'm a little scared about tomorrow's planned 12-14 miler at 6:00 AM. Jeeminy Christmas, that's going to be tough for me. But I really want to do well. Plus Kel is making me. Okay, not really. But it's going to be great to get that out of the way and then enjoy my regular Sunday walk with K the next morning. I'm happy that both runs this week have been at a faster pace than I normally do--and even with some walking last night I kept it under 12:00. Victory.

I could seriously lay my head down on my desk today at work and pass out. I'm like the walking dead. Knowing I have a mountain of essay grading this weekend doesn't do anything for me either; it's like I'm pre-tired so I can get ready for that. We all know I'll push them around the dining room for two nights before I settle in and grade all day Sunday. It's cute how I think I'm going to spread them out over the weekend, but it's not a reality.

If I thought it wouldn't affect my sleep tonight, I'd suck down some more coffee this afternoon. I just know sleep is enough of an impossibility on a regular, coffee-free night that I need to ignore the nagging Siren call of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I will not bend to your manipulation, PSL. You're a cruel mistress and you'll just leave me in the gutter in about three to four hours, tired still but unable to quiet my mind and sleep at night. A paradox of caffeination.

So there you go. Fatigue in a nutshell and some thinly-veiled whining. I'm glad I ran last night so I don't have to tonight. Tonight I need to think about getting to bed before 10:00 so I can be fresh and lively in the morning for my 12-14. It sounds like a prison sentence, don't you think?


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Another one done.



I didn't run yesterday, but my legs are sore enough that it feels like I did.  I guess that's what I get for thinking my cute black platform d'orsay pumps would be no trouble to stand in all day.   "Cute pumps" refers to a pair that are a good half a size too small, but that I bought anyway because they were too good to pass up.  And in this case, "all day" refers to a marathon that lasted from 7:15 AM when I burst through the door until about 7:30 PM when I locked up for the night.   Back to School Night.  Not my favorite night of the year.

Before you go getting angry because I burst the bubble that is your perception of teachers and how they are superhuman and love spending their time doing such things, I just want you to know that I love my job.  I love my students, and I love what I get to do.  But Back to School Night is an introvert's nightmare.  Actually, I'd rather have an actual nightmare than stand in front of grumpy-faced parents for an entire evening and try to fit my entire raison d'être into ten short minutes.  I can't tell you how carefully crafted those ten minutes are, either... they need to be full enough that I don't save any "free time" for awkward question-and-answer sessions, but compact enough so that I get through everything in the allotted time and help the parents realize what it is that they're really there to figure out: Is my child's teacher a freak?

I don't know if it's that I started off badly, when it comes to Back to School Nights, or what.  My first one was back in 2002, I was pregnant as the day is long and terrified to speak to my first class of eleventh grade parents.  The first parent question I ever fielded was this, in reference to Catcher in the Rye:

"How dare you teach that filth to my student."

(Which, I'd like to point out is more of an observation or a complaint than an actual question.  Whatevs.)

I responded kindly that this was not only a classic of American Literature, but a district-approved core novel, and that any time a parent does not feel that a choice is appropriate for his or her student, we provide an alternative novel that the student can study.

Apparently this wasn't good enough, because this parent was concerned that I not teach "that filth" to anyone else's kid, either.  Ah, censorship.  She awesomely and inadvertently provided an example of my yearlong theme with her question.  Not that I could share that with her.  Nothing like starting off on the right foot.  I plowed ahead, but it knocked the wind out of me.

Truth be told, I've never had another question like that, but there's always the feeling in my gut that someone is coming in to my classroom to attack me.  And it didn't help that in the afternoon right before Back to School Night I answered an angry parent phone call about a detention (a detention!) wherein I actually had to use the phrase "whoa, you need to calm down and listen first."  The actual talking during each ten minute session at Back to School Night isn't as bad as the empty time between classes when I have to stand and smile and shake hands and try to look busy.  But it's done.  I'm happy I got to meet a few of the parents of the troublemakers and/or lazy bums, because that's not usually the case.  I had real-time grading info to share with a few of them because I collected notebooks yesterday.  That's always nice.

So now I need to get ready and as I do I'm wondering how on God's green earth someone thought it was a good idea for us to have a morning meeting the day after such a draining evening?  If I wasn't such a do-gooder I'd totally ditch out.  But we all know I'm not so I won't even pretend that is going to happen.  Better go get dressed.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?

I did. That's right, me.

I had the best run of my life last night and though I know I'm prone to hyperbole, I'm totally seriousing you right now. Best run ever, and I mean it.

Let's break it down for why it rocked my synthetic running socks right off.

1. I didn't walk. What, you say? Gasp, you um, gasp? But you always walk, PDawg. I know. And my run with Kelly made me feel like a total tool for doing so, so I'm trying to up my game. I did it in chunks--basically just to each stop light, but then I'd get to the intersection and think just one more, you can keep running. Don't stop, and I didn't. And then once I was three miles in I was just like well, you're three miles in and you didn't walk yet, what's two more? And I did not walk. I'm so proud of myself, and surprised.

2. 5 miles total, 10:31 min/mile average. Splits:


miPace (min/mi)Elevation (ft)
110:096
210:216
310:402
410:09-13
510:530
69:57-2

The fact that none of them are over 12:00 is a victory. Actually, I'd normally be happy with a 12:00 min/ mile average. I'm a little surprised. This tells me that I am still starting out too fast and not so great at pacing myself, but this isn't too bad for someone without a GPS. I have to track it on my phone, so it's not handy the entire time I'm running. But seriously, this is the fastest I've ever been on anything over 3.

3. It was a beautiful night. It was also a little too close to dusk, admittedly, but it was so pretty. The air was still and just warm enough to feel comfortable, the sky was a purplish orange, and I just had the nicest run. I love being outdoors--it's good to have a run every once in a while that reminds me of that.

4. I did 5 miles and I was home in under an hour. This is a first for me.

5. I managed to get to sleep at a decent hour and some post-run stretching kept me from tightening up too bad. My calves are tight this morning, but only in the good way that reminds me I did something great for my body. I also remembered this morning how a good solid run always means I breathe a little deeper the next day. I feel like I use the full capacity of my lungs, and that's a nice feeling to have.

6. Justin Bieber. Usher. End of story. Okay, not the end, but I'm totally eating my words about that little twit because darn it if I don't like running to Somebody to Love. Go ahead. Have your laugh at my expense.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Henry named her

Twinkie.

Twinkle, specifically.




It fits, plus who is going to look at their five year old and say "no way, Dude, you can't name her Twinkle." I mean, seriously.




Roo is completely smitten, though clearly a little let down that Daisy didn't make the cut. So we decided on:

Twinkle Daisy Lulu as a full name. Her formal name, for taxes and drivers' license and to engrave in gold letters on her little cat Bible that she gets for cat confirmation.

Or something.




My boy is a little sad he can't pick up miss Twink. She got spayed yesterday and I no trustie. I'm too afraid that his wild and woolly ways will mean a cat shriek and cat trip to the vet if he forgets to support her belly. So for now he's on scratch only restriction. He played with her for a long time this afternoon, though.

Last night I slept the sleep of the blissfully be-catted; she tucked herself into my neck crevice and purred like a raspy two-stroke engine. Just what I needed in my sleepless little life. She's either set at 10 or 2 right now, all go or all sleep. I love it.




So happy.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Weekend

I realized this weekend that it smells like Fall in the afternoons. Weird.

This past weekend actually started on Thursday night--the combo of our hard week and a bit of laziness meant that our kitchen was nowhere to be found, so E suggested I meet him downtown for dinner. That afternoon we talked and decided to make it a babysitter night (thank you, Mom and Dad!) and we made our way to my favorite, Joe's Crab Shack. It was great to sit by the river and watch the sun set. I didn't even mind driving down to meet him--it seemed like such a nice way to spend an evening. I'll admit that at first I thought about saying no to a date on a weeknight, but in the spirit of trying to make time for real life above work and to keep balance, I said yes. I'm glad I did. I really like my husband, and I really, really like being out on the town with him (particularly if he's in his suit and tie) and particularly if we go out for crab.

I killed off my entire bucket of king crab legs and went after his shrimp. I have a bit of a crustacean problem. after dinner we took a stroll down the river walk to his parking spot. The happy accident of his monthly space meant a nice walk across the tower bridge and in the footsteps of the baseball stadium nearby.

Happy.

*sigh*



Friday night lights
Friday night we packed up our lawn chairs and headed to a faculty tailgate at my school's football game. I haven't been to a high school football game in a long time, probably since I stopped coaching our school's Drill Team, which was quite a while ago. I loved the games then, loved being on the sidelines and watching the girls perform, but I have never, ever loved having to go back to school at 6:00 on a Friday night. It's just hard after a long week. The same was true this Friday, but I'm glad I did. The BBQ was great and there were lots of families there for the monkeys to play with.

Since I went to this same high school, it's a little sad to see that the crowd is a little thinner. High school football games were such a big deal in the community when I was in high school. I was glad when my friend Leah (another teacher and another alum) went down in front of the crowd to get her students to do the roller coaster cheer. Awesomeness. It totally revived my faith in high school football crowds.


Leah leads the masses.
It wasn't a late night--Roo started slowing down and saying "I'm sleepy, Mommy" about 8:00. But since I don't give one bean about sports anyway, it didn't bug me to leave before halftime. Yes, I said I don't care about sports. I like being at the games for the sense of community, but not so much the whole football thing. Silly, right? But we felt like we stayed long enough so we took off and had the kids in bed before about 9:00.

Saturday didn't turn out like I hoped, hence the griping about sleep and anxiety. I spent the rest of the day running errands and (shhh) petting rescue cats at Petco to soothe my sad little cat-missing heart. It was like they knew I needed them--about six came running at me when I sat down. It was one of those days where I don't know what I did but somehow the day was over before I knew it. I hate days like that. It was a day spent in a daze. Fail. I will say again that I hate anxiety.

I think it did give me some perspective and I feel like I have a smidge of a plan now about how I'm going to deal with this recent development. I guess I'm learning (years later) about myself and how anxiety really plays a role in how crummy it can get between me and E. Needless to say it's not the most crummy-free it has ever been around here. Even though it manifests itself as bickering with him, it's inside me. I need to figure out what's bugging me I need to figure out what's making my heart race and my muscles tense for no reason. I'm going to get help and use the tools that I know have worked for me before. What does that mean? A little of this, a little of that. Meditation, writing, exercise, appointments with professionals who deal with this kind of thing. It always works. Counseling always makes me feel better, even if it doesn't "solve" anything. I think it would help me to check in with someone who can offer different perspective again--this time before it starts to affect things like work, worsen my life with E, etc.

Today was another good day, though. Though I was up earlier than I would have liked (6:30) and though I woke up more times than I wanted to (4?) I had a peaceful morning of dish-washing and yogurt-eating. I walked with K (my lovely Sunday morning tradition, as of late), and then we went to the SPCA just to look at kitties. JUST TO LOOK, I told myself, because the whole deal with the shelter is so hard to accept anyway, and I didn't want to get it in my heart that I was taking one home just in case it wasn't going to work out. There's no way to know what waits at the shelter. Of course, this little calico face was waiting in the back corner, talking through the glass to us about how badly she wanted out. We obliged. K had spotted her and immediately thought she looked like a keeper. She was.



Not wanting to hold still for so long...



Checking out the surroundings, more of not holding still...



She let K hold her for a bit so I could get a focused pic.



She was extremely playful and had a healthy, loud purr. She was great about letting me "moogie" (my word for cat snuggle) all over her. After some consideration I decided to put her on hold and bring E and the kids back... When I called E to see what he thought, he said "I just figured you'd bring one home." aaaaaand, SOLD. I decided just to take her. She's getting fixed tomorrow, so I can pick her up at 4:00. I can't wait. I know it's soon and Marmalade hasn't been gone so long, but I realized part of what was so hard to deal with for me about losing Marms was that I didn't have a cat to pet to comfort myself. Strange, right? I knew that this was the right cat for me, and though I'm still grieving Marms I was happy I could give her a good home and take her from the shelter. So many animals are there needing families.

Now if we can just come up with a name for this little cutie. So hard to decide!

Ganked from Facebook: 100 Truths Meme

Yoink!

WHAT WAS YOUR:

1. last beverage ~ Venti Black Iced Coffee

2. last phone call ~ Home to E from the SPCA

3. last text message ~ a picture of the new kitten to my Mom

4. last song you listened to ~ Life in Technicolor by Coldplay

5. last time you cried ~ Writing this post about my cat that died this week

HAVE YOU EVER:

6. dated someone ~ Uh, yeah.

7. been cheated on ~ Not by any technical definitions of cheating, no.

8. kissed someone & regretted it ~ There was this one "spin the bottle" game at an eighth grade party that ended up in a kiss that was kind of awful, yes.

9. lost someone special ~ Of course.

10. been depressed ~ Yes. Pretty sure I was clinically depressed after miscarrying our first baby.

11. been drunk and threw up ~ Were there lemon drops there? Yeah, that happened. There was also this one time when I was dancing after college (well not while I was dancing, but in the time of my life when I was dancing professionally) where E and I had a party after going out to Chevy's and I puked and pico de gallo came out my nose. You're welcome for that imagery.

LIST THREE FAVORITE COLORS:

12. Purple

13. Red

14. Blue

THIS YEAR (2010) HAVE YOU:
Oops... realized after I answered these that I forgot about the "this year" part. Who cares.

15. Made a new friend ~ Yes. Kelly V.

16. Fallen out of love ~ It happens from time to time, and that's okay. I believe a good marriage means choosing to love even when you don't feel it. Especially when you don't feel it. Being chosen and choosing someone when it's not spontaneous is a tremendous gift.

17. Laughed until you cried ~ All the time. I love my friends and my smart-funny husband.

18. Met someone who changed you ~ Many, many, many, many, many of them. Many of them are teachers--either those I learned from or teach with. You know who you are.

19. Found out who your true friends were ~ I would hope I'd have a handle on that by now. I've found that for me, quality is much more important than quantity. And the people who stick around in my life are the ones who are also willing to spend quality time. I have a hard time having friends who I never see. That doesn't seem so friendly to me. But I also realize that some people are only meant to be in your life for a certain time, and that's something to celebrate as well.

21. Kissed anyone on your FB friends list ~ Several of them! Ha.

GENERAL:

22. How many people on your FB friends list do you know in real life ~ All. I don't friend people unless I know them and I am genuinely interested in their lives.

24. Do you have any pets ~ Hurley the boxer pup, Stan the cat (who wants nothing to do with us) and as of 1:00 this afternoon, a yet-unnamed kitten who will be coming home tomorrow.




25. Do you want to change your name ~ I never liked Heather; I never felt like it fit. It seems so early-80's popular girl to me, the antithesis of everything I am. But I suppose it's how everyone knows me so there's no use in considering anything else. And I suppose it was chosen for me for a reason. It's just not a part of how I define myself and I think that's interesting. I was happy to change my last name from something plain to something that felt fancy when I got married. Now I just lament how long it takes to sign on checks.

26. What did you do for your last birthday ~ A simple blog search tells me that I got a pedicure and drank a McDonald's iced coffee drink. Hey, go big or go home, apparently.

27. What time did you wake up today ~ 11:30 PM, 4:30 AM, 5:30 AM and then up at 6:30 AM. Sleep is not going so well lately, and the 5:30 one was when E elbowed me hard in my back while he was having some crazy dream. Not our best showing.

28. What were you doing at midnight last night ~ Sleeping like the old lady that I am destined to become.

29. Name something you CANNOT wait for ~ The next time I get to go to Disneyland.

30. Last time you saw your Mother ~ Picking up the kids from school on Friday. She had yard duty. :)

31. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life ~ More money in savings. Only I can totally change that, so I guess I will.

32. What are you listening to right now ~ The sountrack to a My Little Ponies video the kids are watching.

33. Have you ever talked to a person named Tom ~ Uncle. Yes. He's very punny.

34. What's getting on your nerves right now ~ Not being able to sleep at night.

35. Most visited webpage ~ iGoogle page/ Google Reader, Facebook, Blogger

37. Nicknames ~ PDawg, Heath (only to Aunt Cathy)

38. Relationship Status ~ The most complicated, challenging, but WORTH IT marriage imaginable.

39. Zodiac sign ~ Taurus. Strong like bull.

40. He or She ~ Um, she?

41. Elementary ~ Same one for all seven years.

42. High School ~ Same one where I teach. So I've spent something like 14 years of my life there.

43. College ~ UC Davis, but only for 2 1/2 years. I was lonely so I busted my butt to get out of there.

44. Hair color ~ Mousy brown with brassy fading blonde at the tips. :/

45. Long or short ~ Medium.

46. Height ~ 5'7"

47. Do you have a crush on someone? ~ Daniel Craig. Paul Newman. Robert Redford. Steve McQueen.

48. What do you like about yourself? ~ I think I'm a thoughtful person--or at least I try hard to be. I also think I am willing to admit when I am wrong and apologize for it--or at least I try hard to do that too.

49. Piercings ~ I only use the bottom (1st) hole in each ear now, but I have three in the left and two in the right. I have my nose pierced. I used to have my cartilage pierced at the top of my left ear but it would never heal--my curly hair got caught on it all the time. From time to time I consider a tragus or conch piercing, but I am pretty sure that would put a few people in my life over the edge.

50. Tattoos ~ I kind of (not so secretly) like them, but I could never think of anything that I wouldn't get sick of, or a place on my body that is not already wrecked from carrying those two monkeys for two pregnancies. Maybe someday. E has been saying since we renewed our vows that he wants to tattoo his ring finger (something small) so maybe if he did that I'd get something that corresponded. Again, there are people in my life who would go right over the edge about it though.

51. Righty or lefty ~ Righty tighty.

FIRSTS :

52. First surgery ~ Wrist surgery on my right wrist to remove a ganglion cyst in my junior year of high school. How badass is that?

53. First piercing ~ Ears. Age 13 (?) It was a birthday present.

54. First best friend ~ Was a group in my first grade class that my teacher called "The Golden Girls" because of our blonde hair. Laura P, Lora I, Stephanie and me.

55. First sport you joined ~ I never joined anything, but I had one ill-conceived summer at Wayman Tisdale basketball camp. It was enough to cure me of delusions of sportiness for my lifetime.

56. First vacation ~ How on earth would I remember that? Let's go with the time my parents took me camping with the family and they put me in the (dry) bathtub of the trailer to sleep.

58. First crush? ~ Hmm... I don't think I named anything a crush until E, so we're going to go with Gluten-free E as my first official crush. There may have been others before, but I think I thought of them more as cool people than "crush."

WHAT ARE YOU:

59. Eating ~ Soon: baked tilapia, sweet potato fries, green salad, and nectarines.

60. Drinking ~ A forty out of a brown paper bag. NOT REALLY. I'm not drinking anything, I'm typing.

61. I'm about to ~ Cook dinner, plan my meals for the week, prep veggies for the week (helps me make salads and lunches so much more quickly), fold laundry, get the kids' clothes picked out for the week.

62. Listening to ~ Ponies. I already said ponies. Are you even listening to me?

63. Waiting for ~ E to come inside and eat dinner. But in a grander sense, I'm really really really waiting for my first trip to Europe. Someday.

YOUR FUTURE :

64. Want kids? ~ As much as I'd like to grow/nurse/hold/snuggle/swaddle another baby, I think we're done. It's not that I want other humans, or that I look at our family and it feels incomplete. I think I just miss Roo and Bud being babies. Since I can't go back and make that happen, I think we're finished. Of course anything can happen.

65. Get Married? ~ I think making my family go to two weddings to the same dude in ten years has been more than my share. I think I'm going to just call it done.

66. Career? ~ Lawyer? In my dreams... Or maybe just something different at school. Or maybe just a better version of what I do now, by improving how I teach. Any of those things would make me very happy.

WHICH IS BETTER :

67. Lips or eyes ~ E has both that any person would die for. Eyes first, then lips, though.

68. Hugs or kisses ~ Hugs. From everyone. Two arms, please. Squeeze tight. Rub back if you're feeling up to it. The end.

69. Shorter or taller ~ Who does this question refer to? I'm going to have to complain about the ambiguity of the questions. I would like a new quiz that has been carefully considered.

70. Older or Younger ~ WTH is this question? Older. Like, 102 years old and choc full of wisdom. And soft wrinkles.

71. Romantic or spontaneous ~ Romantic. But I think "romance" is kind of an illusion of youth. I prefer thoughtfulness.

72. Nice stomach or nice arms ~ Arms. But honestly neither will turn my head as quick as wit.

73. Sensitive or loud ~ Sensitive.

74. Hook-up or relationship ~ Good Lord, people my age don't use phrases like "hook up" and if they do they're probably not someone I spend a lot of time with. I'm a shipper. Even if I was still young and dating, I wouldn't ever be the "hooking up" type. Ever.

75. Trouble maker or hesitant ~ If this is referring to me, the answer is hesitant and you already know that. As my friend said on Facebook the other night, I have never been a risk-taker.

HAVE YOU EVER :

76. Kissed a stranger ~ No.

77. Drank hard liquor ~ Haha. Uh, yeah. Think so. One for me, one for my homies.

78. Lost glasses/contacts ~ Both, frequently.

79. Sex on first date ~ Let's consider that I only had approximately three "first" dates in my lifetime. And then let's consider that on all three of those dates I was shy, reserved, a good girl, and about 16-17 years old. The answer is a resounding no.

80. Broken someone's heart ~ Yeah. I'm married to him. Unfortunately I think I've done it to him many times. And I'm not talking about when I put my foot down in Costco about buying a 60 inch plasma TV, but that one probably stung him a little too.

81. Had your own heart broken ~ Yes, by the guy mentioned in the last answer. And it continues to happen and we work through it because he is willing to do what it takes. So am I.

82. Been arrested ~ No, sorry. That would make me seem cooler, right? I got a bail notice (for myself) in the mail once, though, and I almost pooped my pants I was so scared. Fix your fix it tickets, children.

83. Turned someone down ~ Frequently.

84. Cried when someone died ~ Lots.

85. Fallen for a friend ~ Yes.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN:

86. Yourself ~ I think I do.

87. Miracles ~ I'm skeptical of most things called "miracle." But many things can happen that we don't understand, and I believe in that.

88. Love at first sight ~ I believe in lust at first sight, and in attraction at first sight. Love is, I believe, something harder to get to, something you work at for your whole life because of the people that are important to you.

89. Heaven ~ Yes.

90. Santa Claus ~ Yes. My mom says if you stop believing, the presents stop coming. And I believe in the power of Santa for my children. Santa is a beautiful tradition.

91. Kiss on the first date ~ Do I believe in that? Sure. Though E was so shy when we started dating (as was I) that it took him a good two weeks to work up the nerve. When we went to Winter Homecoming together I was so tired of waiting that I planted a big (dry--haha) one on him. He got the hint eventually.

92. Angels ~ I'm not sure.

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY:

93. Had more than one gf/bf ~ Not many more than one, ever. And as I read this again I wonder if it means at the same time? No, never. I haven't really even had that many over a lifetime.

95. Did you sing today ~ No. I kind of don't like singing. I mean that I don't like when other people do it (live) and I'm not so good at it so I don't really do it. Lame. Like even in church, in worship, the idea of people swaying, leaning, lifting hands up is way more interesting to me than how they (or I) push sound through vocal chords. Just not how I'm wired.

96. Ever cheated on somebody ~ Never. Almost never cheated on anything in my life. Too guilty a conscience.

98. If you could pick a day from last year and relive it, what would it be ~ The day E and I renewed our vows after our separation and reconciliation. I wouldn't change a thing, just soak it up again.

100. Afraid of posting this as 100 truths ~ Nope. I'm afraid YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTHS.