Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ten at sunrise

Pi feeding Richard Parker.

Art by Tomislav Torjanac

Ten wonderful things about today's ten-miler:

1. After poor sleep and an early morning of nightmares, those endorphins gave me a major high.

2.  Sunrise over the creek: beautiful.

3.  Solitude in nature is refreshing, always.

4.  I didn't have to take a single walk break and I improved my pace from last week.

5.  That's the farthest I've ever run without a walk break (even counting races).

6.  It wasn't easy, but it never hurt.  I felt good in my body.

7.  I proved to myself that I can run against the wind.  Serious Bob Seger status.

8.  I'm totally hooked on my audiobook, Life of Pi.  It's like Lost meets Noah's Ark.  Kinda.

9.  I'm totally hooked on running with an audiobook to pass the time.  Best idea ever--running and reading.

10.  Being done with 10 miles by 8:00 AM feels like an early birthday present to myself.




Friday, April 29, 2011

Garden time

I'm all planted for the summer!

Little sweet peppers
Bell peppers
Green beans
Eggplant
Cucumbers
Zucchini
Yellow squash
Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes
Corn
Basil
Thyme
(my herb pots are just sitting on top in pots just so they get watered.  I'll move them out tomorrow.)




I'm gonna neaten things up a bit this weekend, but my goal was to get everything in the ground tonight so it could get watered.  It was all sitting on my porch drying out in pots.

As you can see, this is all behind a fence that E built.  It's about 5 feet tall--tall enough to keep a Hurley dog out this time.   I got so tired of him eating my plants last year.  I can't wait to see what I grow.

Oh man, I'm excited for my little garden.  :)  It makes me so happy.

Blarf.

This week was too long.  I'm so glad it's over.  For exactly that reason this is also the longest Friday in history.  I'm hoping to get a ten-miler in tomorrow but I also have a buzillion things that the kids need to get to... not sure that a run will happen unless it happens at oh-dark-30.  My running buddy is running her own race so it's all about me in the motivation department.

Yes, that basically means there's only a 30% chance I'll follow through.  It's so much harder to bail when someone is outside your house at 5:30 AM waiting for you.  Must. Run. Ten. Miles.

I'm kind of bummed about Saturday.  E's planning a big ride with the guys and then a night of watching UFC, so I'm feeling less than enthused about him not being around.

I still haven't planted my garden, so hopefully I can do that.  Maybe pick up the new running shoes I ordered a few weeks ago.  Grocery shop.  Walmart shop.  Costco shop.  Nap.

Okay, it will be a productive little Saturday.  And on Sunday I get to finally see Jane Eyre.  I can't wait.




Really, at this point I'd just take the few days off from work even if they meant I was going to get continuously punched in the face.  It feels like that would be easier on the ol' spirit than the past week has been.  I think I'm ready for summer now.

Please.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What I won't write about:

I'm in a multi-day stretch of not blogging. This falls into the category of if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

I'm pretty open and honest on my blog, but always with some very clear boundaries. I know that's really hard for some people to get. I find myself in conversation with people about writing when they find out I have a blog, and sometimes it's just hard to get across exactly how I set my own guidelines. I have to say (and this is not a jugement at all because there are exceptions to every rule) that it seems to be a generational thing. People older than my parents are more likely to act very wary (or even scared) about the information I put online. I always do my best to assure that I (along with E) have set some clear rules for myself and they actually govern what I write quite well. If I'm ever in doubt about whether or not I should post something about E, I have him read it and I get his okay. In fact, he reads and okays everything I write about him before I hit "publish."

I would never post anything that I felt was unsafe or too specific. That's not really what I mean. I'm talking about the whos and the whats in my life.

I will talk about how I feel about anything. I will talk about positive feelings toward other people and the specific things they've done to inspire those positive feelings.

This week I've been tongue-tied, though, because the things I've wanted to say have violated my two basic blogging rules.
  1. When this gets taken out of context at some point and quoted back to me, will that be a disaster?
  2. Would I hesitate to share this information with someone who genuinely wanted to know? (For example, if an acquaintance asked me about it, would I care if they knew?)
The answer to both was yes this week, unfortunately.

I try not to write negative stuff about my kids (unless it's funny and not potentially damaging). I don't want them to look back on my blog and feel like I wasn't thankful for every single minute. I get frustrated, but I know that reading an angry rant back would be bad for any of us.

Sometimes this comes down to blogging about work. It wouldn't be good for me to blog about how much I'm pissed off/hurt/frustrated by XYZ, because XYZ would have a problem with that, understandably. And I'd regret it, no matter who or what XYZ was. You can't live something down once you commit to it in writing.

The other way this comes up is with specifics of fights with E. While I have no problem saying I had a fight with E, I won't usually give a list of all the things he did that I have a problem with. I won't sell him out to have a post topic. That just seems like it would be all bad. I'd regret that later too.

I won't post pictures of my house when it looks like crap, which (lately) is all the time. No desire to break the magic that is you thinking I'm all kinds of perfect. So, um, photo posts are out. Okay, except for this funny one I took with my webcam because I use my computer like a mirror. I had to see if the back of my french braid was too messy to wear it when I went back to work tonight. It was.


Here's how I see that photo, though:


Anyway. That's why I have nothing to write about.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Grad School Decision


I'm going to UC Riverside.

Specifically, I'll be joining the UC Riverside Palm Desert Graduate Center MFA in Creative Writing Program.  Phew!

Just in case you were keeping track, here are my application results:

Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA: Accepted
UC Riverside (sort of) in Palm Springs, CA: Accepted
Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA: Wait-listed or Fall 2012
Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT : Rejected
Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, WA: Unknown
(SPU isn't considering me until Winter 2011 admissions, so I won't hear until late fall.)

As I said before, I'M NOT MOVING.  All of these programs are low-residency, which means I work from home (just little ol' me) on my reading and writing and then I go twice a year for a 10 day intensive period of workshops and meetings with professors and others in the program.

This process has already been such a learning experience.  I haven't even begun to put my writing on the line and already I'm facing the highs and lows of rejection and praise.  I'll admit that I've been feeling really down since I got the rejection from Vermont.  Even though I knew it was a long shot, the rejection stung more than I thought it would since it came with a sentence about the quality of my writing not being up to par.  On the heels of that letter, finding out I was wait-listed for PLU was a bit of a disappointment too, since I really liked what they had to offer and I felt like I had a good interview with the director.

In talking to the director of PLU, I came to realize how much I valued a small program.  Going back to school to get my MFA now means I have a much better sense of what I like and what I don't like.  I did the "lost in the crowd" thing when I was an undergrad at UC Davis, and it didn't work for me.  I was miserable and lonely and basically I felt like I floated through the system without anybody really noticing I was there.  I really appreciated the personal attention of a hour-long phone call from the director, and I realized that what I wanted was a program with a limited number of participants.

When I didn't get into Vermont it was a blow.  But what I came to realize yesterday as I talked to the director of UCR's program is that Vermont is the type of program that wouldn't have been right for me, anyway.  UCR, like PLU, is a limited number, personal relationship-based program.  All of the things I liked about PLU were true of UCR, plus a few things that I didn't think about before (I'll get to those in a minute).  I appreciated (again) getting a phone call from the director and that he was willing and enthusiastic about answering all of my questions for the better part of an hour.

Conversely, I haven't heard much from Chatham at all.  I received my acceptance by email and then snail mail, but I've had no interaction with their office at all.  I suspect this is because they too are a larger program.  While there are a few things that pique my interest about Chatham, I don't have the same warm fuzzy feelings about it being a good fit for me.

On to the plusses that UCR has in addition to it being very similar to PLU... Some things about Riverside are an even better fit.  Instead of beginning with a residency period, UCR students begin working at home for a quarter and then attend their first residency in December.  I like this idea of easing into the program.  I tend to move slow out of crazy introversion, so this is a good fit.  I feel like I can get my feet wet before I'm reading short stories aloud to a bunch of strangers.  The major difference about UCR, though, that the director communicated to me on the phone, is that they put more emphasis on actually geting published once you graduate.  There's a whole other component of their program that includes one-on-one interaction with editors, literary agents, studio producers, etc.  Since that is the part of this most foreign to me, I am extremely interested in it.

When I decided I wanted to go back to school it wasn't because I had a specific career goal in mind.  I still don't.  My number one goal is to meet people and to learn about things that are out there in this world.  I want to be a part of a community of writers.

Practically, it's much easier to get to Palm Springs (where UCR hosts its residency) than anywhere else.  I've randomly spent a ton of time in Riverside itself because of student Mock Trial competitions, so (even though it's somewhat of a pit) it is not unfamiliar.  Riverside's proximity to LA influences its visiting faculty for residencies, too.  Let's be honest: I don't mind, either, that they host their residency here:


at a resort and spa in Palm Springs.  I have a feeling that when I "have to" travel to Palm Springs in December for 10 days I'm not going to be too pissed.

Just to keep things real, you should know that my phone call from UCR wasn't all good.  I had to answer one question and I was in limbo until I got the final acceptance letter from UCR Graduate Admissions this morning.  When the director called he let me know that he liked my work and wanted me to be a part of their program... but also that he needed me to answer this question: what happened in your last two quarters at UC Davis?  My heart sank a little but I answered him honestly.  He was referring to my less-than-stellar (or less-than-decent) grades in my last two quarters.

I gave him the truth.  I hated college.  By the time I was in my last quarters I wanted nothing more than to get out as quickly as I could.  I had been commuting for 2 1/2 years, I didn't know anyone, I felt no connection to my school and I was planning a wedding in April.  I was working way too many hours in one town and taking way too many classes in another.  I was trying to finish my classes in March so I could be completely done before I got married.  For this reason I thought it was a good idea to take 21 units a quarter.  I was also teaching about 15 hours a week of dance classes in my hometown and dancing 6-8 hours a week in my own classes while I planned a wedding.  I was insane.  And I was 20.

It's hard.  On the one hand that was so long ago.  Almost 12 years.  On the other hand, it's the last relevant academic experience I have, so the University has to consider it.  it weighs more heavily in a UC school than it would for a private university.  Since my undergrad GPA is beneath a 3.5, they had to get special approval to accept me into the program.  The director assured me that he would go to bat for me (which was nice) but it meant that I was a little bit on hold until they gave it the okay.  He said that from my work experience it's clear I can handle the workload of school, and that they consider that with the application.  I remember around that time saying to E something like "what does it matter what my grades are, I'm still graduating--it's not like I want to go to graduate school..."  Yeah.  Whoops.  And I'm making light of it but it wasn't my intention to tank it in my final two quarters.  I just wasn't good at saying no.

That's life though, I suppose.  You learn about how much you can take on and what conditions you need to be successful.

I'm really excited about this program.  I will start in late September 2011 and I will graduate in December of 2013, hopefully with a book that I can present to agents at my graduating residency.  I feel like a new door just opened to me.  I'm excited to see where it leads.



Finding happy

Interview: Me.

I liked Mindy Kaling's interview on The Happiness Project this week.  So I borrowed the questions to ask myself.  Attribution is to Gretchen Rubin at The Happiness Project Blog.

Voila, instant blog post.  Enjoy.

What's a simple activity that consistently makes you happier? 

Running or walking.  I'm better when I just step out the door.  Running helps me to clear my head.  It helps me to listen to my body but also to be alone with my thoughts.  Sometimes it helps me just to be silent.  Sometimes I feel like a kid--it's my chance to play and enjoy the fresh air on my face and smile at the rabbits and ducks.  It helps me to feel much more connected to nature and it reminds me that my body is capable of quite a lot.  I always feel better after a run.  Sometimes I'm just glad I'm finished, but I never regret a run.  Walking gives me peace.  It forces me to slow down, to enjoy where I am rather than where I will be.  It helps me to think quietly through whatever is bothering me.  I always finish a walk feeling settled and calm.  When I get the time to walk or run with a friend, I really enjoy that connection.  

What's something you know now about happiness that you didn't know when you were 18 years old?

You can't choose your way into happiness.  At 18 I thought if I was good enough, smart enough, careful enough, I'd choose all the right things and I'd get to happy by 20 (then I figured I'd just coast).  I didn't realize that even when you're all of those things, life happens in a messy way.  People let you down.  You let people down.  You make wise choices that don't end up being what you really want.  You change your mind.  You change.  People change.  True happiness happens in the moment rather than when you get to some magical finish line of calm.  You have to enjoy life wherever you are rather than waiting for all the stars to align.

Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?

I worry.  I really worry.  I have a hard time letting things go and I can turn them over and over in my own mind until I convince myself that they're much more significant than they actually are or should be.  I'm much better than I used to be, but it's hard for someone as emotional and analytical as I am to not see things as the most important thing ever.  As an adult I find myself spending my thoughtful time trying to sort out what really matters from what is just not important.  I think it will always be a battle.

Is there a happiness mantra or motto that you've found very helpful?

It's an opportunity, not a threat.  I tell myself this before anything that makes me nervous.  I convince myself that it's my chance to shine instead of something to fear.  It works for tests, interviews, running, calling people back on the phone, basically anything I'm afraid of (which is a long list).

Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?

I see my kids dawdling all the time.  They waste time beautifully, and I think it really adds to their happiness.  When we tell Henry to brush his teeth and he locks himself in the bathroom for 45 minutes of naked toothpaste finger-painting in the sink, he's really adding to his own happiness.  I love that kids don't have any guilt about doing what they want.  Sometimes it might drive me nuts, but I know that their happiness is taken care of.  I wish there was a way to carry more of that guiltless freedom into my adult life.  I think I'd be a little happier.

Do you work on being happier? If so, how?

I was way better at this in the fall, but I really worked for a time on redefining Mondays.  That actually made a huge difference in my life.  I work on being happy in my relationship with E by choosing love when I don't feel it.  It's not work, but I allow myself the freedom to enjoy my family and my pets.  I ferociously protect my free time and my time at home.  That makes me incredibly happy.  I think leaving space in my schedule for life to just happen is the best way I work at being happier.



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Here's what

1. I'm spending way too much time watching the Countess and Ramona and Tamra and Gretchen and Andy. If you know who I mean or what RHOanything stands for, you have a problem too.

2. Easter was today and it passed with very little fanfare. It was nice to see my dad's family but it also made me wish I saw them more often. Note to self: take care of that.

3. I've been home by myself for a few hours, avoiding productivity.

4. I ended up with a migraine last night (a bad one) so all day today I have the WORST migraine hangover. I think it's called postdrome, but it's a real thing. And it can suck my left toe.

5. This school thing is really cool, but I find it hard to work into conversation. Like yesterday, I wanted to tell E's family about it but I couldn't think of a way to do so without being all "hey, I got into a few graduate schools and I'm gonna go to one." Well, eventually I just basically said that, but it was ten shades of awkward. Note to self: maybe tone down the shameless self-promotion, or figure it out better.

6. I have a bit of nervousness about going back to school tomorrow. I always get like that after any time off.

7. I only have four more weeks.

8. I am going to try so so so so so hard not to poop out at 3.5 weeks. But I'm tired. And when I say tired, I mean of EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. Mostly of this poor economy and all the infighting it's encouraging in education. Boo.

9. Spring break was not as productive as I would have liked, but I enjoyed it.


10. Oh yeah, I should do a little update on me runnin' goals.

Here ya go.

Fitness goals for the week of 4/18-4/24 stuff I actually did in red

Physical Therapy:
Resistance exercises (2 days) 2 days
Stretching (4-5 days) 4 days
CHECK!

Running:
Short runs, 3-4 miles (3 days) 2 days (but 4.5 each day!)
Long run, 8-10 miles (1 day) 1 day (9 miles)
Still counting as a success... CHECK!

Walking:
Easy relaxing walk (1 day) 1 day (1.5 miles)
Walked the kids and dog to the park... CHECK!

Eating:
Eat breakfast every day think so?
Lots of produce still room for improvement
Cook dinner did it
CLOSE ENOUGH!

Mental health:
Plant my vegetable garden :) :(
NOT EVEN CLOSE.

I'm off school this week, so my number one goal is to PRETEND IT IS SUMMER AND I AM A REAL PERSON. Definitely.
WINNING!

and now for next week...


Fitness goals for the week of 4/25-5/1

Physical Therapy:
same as last week
Resistance exercises (2 days)
Stretching (4-5 days)

Running:
Monday-Thursday: 2 short runs (3 miles each), 1 medium run (5 miles)
Saturday or Sunday: 1 long run (10 miles)

Other:
Easy relaxing walk or yoga video (1 day)

Peace out, nerds.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

In zee early morning

Our path today along the American River

I'm exhausted. I was up this morning at 4:30 to get ready for a long run on the river. I have such a love/hate relationship with the early morning long run. Mostly love... I love everything about running early, I've learned to love running with a group of people, I love nature, I love running in a different place than my own neighborhood, but I have such a hard time getting out of bed that early! Yeeks.

I'm so glad I did, though. We hit the trail at about 6:15 this morning and we were done with our 9 miles by 8:00. My hip muscles are holding strong and I've still been religious about stretching. I'm not having ANY pain tonight which is already an improvement over last week's long run.

We averaged about a 12:07 pace, which is really good for me (particularly over a 9 mile stretch). I had some random migraine aura at about mile 4--not sure what that was about at all--but it didn't affect how I felt on the run. I'm feeling good, like my week of running really paid off. I'm thankful for the time off from work so I could refocus my running energy. Time spent in my running shoes really made a difference this week.

Today we also had Easter (Eve) with E's fam. It was nice to see everyone and catch up. I missed E's mom who was sick and couldn't come, though.

Tomorrow I have a small stack of papers to grade--I've put them off for long enough. The end is in sight! We only have four weeks of school before summer. I think I just might be able to hold on until May 20th. It helps that I have a birthday coming up soon. :)

Happy Easter tomorrow!

P.S. Anybody else on dailymile?



Friday, April 22, 2011

Poetry from movement (inspired by CORE)

Sway

Strum the stringèd spine and strike a raspy breath.
Beat together palms and souls,
wake color in our chests.

Thump the marrowed bones of audience like drums.
Leap, abandon, arch, release.
Chase fear. Careen and run.

The fickle hearts and woozy eyes shake off their thistled weeds.
They breathe, inhaling outstretched limbs,
a corps of golden reeds.

Yours is joy of childish glee.
Yours, the trust of ages.
Yours is clapping, glowing air.
Yours, a body's pages.



Last night I saw CORE perform their spring show, Awake My Soul, set to music by Mumford & Sons.  I was so moved by the performance, I wrote a little poem.  

Dance is so transcendent.  I feel privileged to know courageous, joyful artists like this.  

(Check out their rehearsal video below--but it doesn't do the show justice.  If you're in Sacramento, go see it!)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gonna go see my friends tonight



For a short while a few years ago I was lucky to be a member of CORE Dance Collective. Tonight I'm going to see their new show, Awake My Soul. Can't wait.

And speaking of dance, if you haven't seen this collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma and a young dancer called Lil Buck, check it out.  Amazing.





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Personality

Not to go all high school psych class on you, but how much of your personality is you and how much is your learned normal?  You know, the ol' Nature v. Nurture thing.  Could you give me a quick summary and a cup of coffee?  No?

The E man and Mrs. PDawg are dealing with some relationship issues (blah, blah, when are we not) and I'm giving this some thought.  If there's been a golden strand running through our years of marriage counseling, individual counseling, Retrouvaille and various Kaiser health classes, it has been that normal is just about the most subjective thing a person could believe in.  Your normal is just that--only your own and nobody else's.  So maybe your parents raised you to bang fists on the table and shout "Ma, the MEATLOAF!" before you eat and so you think that it's a crime with a capital C if people sit down and tamely tuck napkins into laps.  And maybe your partner thinks you are a pig because you don't know how to start a meal, what with all the yellin'.

Of course we're not arguing over table manners.  But we might as well be.

Some things:

1) Tonight I re-read my post on my Strengths Finder results.  Vetty eenteresteeng.

2) Imma go ahead and say this is a good show.  I don't watch it religiously and sometimes it's downright weird, but there are little popcorn kernels of wisdom to be had within.  I find myself liking the relationship piece.  I said relationship, not relations.

3) I'm thinking about reading this, cheesiness be damned.

Anyway, back to normal.

The fields where I developed my little seedling of a personality included much more than just my childhood home.  I can think of events at church, school, with friends and at dance that "trained" me in one direction or another.  I get critical of E and his sense of normal.  But it can't even really be pinned on one source or another.  There is no "_____ was like this, so you are."  We're all giant paste-sticky magazine collages of bits from all over.

What's weird is that between the two of us there are many, many areas of overlap, even in our darkest hour.  I can say with complete honesty that we have exactly the same instincts about how to parent our children.  We like to be around the same kind of people.  We enjoy a similar type of decorating, humor, food.  So our normal, when it comes to preferences, is pretty much the same.  This is probably due to the fact that we've basically grown up together.  Some things are so easy.


But several things are downright difficult and even a small thing that occurs over and over will form a deep bruise.  While preferences are learned, there are traits and behaviors that are so deeply ingrained that they are inseparable as dye from the very fiber of you.  Also learned?  Definitely influenced, I'd say.  Maybe some of both.

Our differences in the world of normal are more along the lines of these behaviors and instincts.  We could not be more different when it comes to the how and the what of our behavior.  This week E's been doing some soul searching and I've been doing some serious listening to understand. 

Think about it.

How do you react to anger (your own or others')?
What about fear?
Frustration?
Embarrassment?
Shame?

It's these reactions that form conflict for us.  It's not understanding how the other will perceive your actions, not knowing why you act the way you do.

Retrouvaille gave us the tools to communicate.  I feel like now we've moved on to something else.  We have to both do some serious examination of our own behavior.  E's been hearing a lot lately that the only person you can change is yourself.  It's good for me to hear, too.  There was a time when I felt like working on myself was antithetical to fixing our relationship (and I would argue that at the time, it actually needed to be about us both) but the time has come now for us to look at what we both want out of life and work toward being healthy and responsible for ourselves.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Recipe: Easy Lasagna

This recipe is from my MIL.  It's one of my favorite things to make.  So easy and so tasty.  I never made lasagna the old-fashioned way (cooking the noodles first).  Seemed like too much effort.  This is a way around that and IT'S DELICIOUS!






Easy Lasagna

ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
One 28-32 oz jar spaghetti sauce
1 sm can (8 oz) tomato sauce
One 8 oz pkg wide lasagna noodles (uncooked)
2 cups (1 lb) ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 cups shredded mozarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan (reserve a bit for sprinkling at end)

instructions:

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  In 10 inch skillet, brown ground beef, onion and garlic.  Drain.  Stir in spaghetti sauce.
3.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta, parsley, and parmesan cheese.  Set aside.
4.  In 13 x 9 inch baking dish, layer 1/3 sauce mixture, half of uncooked lasagna noodles, half of ricotta mixture, half of mozarella.
5.  Repeat layers, ending with sauce mixture.
6.  Pour tomato sauce over top.
7.  Fill tomato sauce can with water.  Pour along edges of lasagna.  Cover tightly with foil.
8.  Bake 1 hour.
9.  Uncover and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
10.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring break, day 1: a paragraph

     Spring break, like summer, forces me bow down before the juggernaut* that is home-management.  I'm not worthy.  I always feel overwhelmed on the first day when I realize that taking care of kid/home/eats/da fitnesses is, like, a full-time job.  Today was "feel overwhelmed, avoid doing anything productive" day, but it will get better.  Fun things included morning coffee, the Martha Stewarts, walking the dog and monkeys to the park, nap time, and a delicious roast.  Not-so-funs included: well, nothing.  I eschewed anything too taxing**, save the dishes.  Tomorrow is domesticity go time.  I'm getting a little touch of the Crazies about my empty week filling up.  Today I started getting texts and emails and phone calls from all the lovelies in my life who want to see me/us.  This is all good, but of course my nutso nature does a little baby freak-out when the previously blank calendar starts to fill.  NOBODY WILL UNDERSTAND THAT AND EVERYONE WILL TAKE IT PERSONALLY (which it is not) and people will be all but it's good when people want to hang out with you, and I will be all  I know, but here's an old school SAT analogy for ya: Me:free time::Sméagol:precious.  I'm so weird.  The end.



*I learned that word in my 11th grade history book in 1995.
**Happy Tax Day, kids.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Long run and this week's goals

Do you notice how I waited until Sunday to post this?  That way I made sure I knocked out my long run and I wouldn't have to jump on here and let the world know that I suck at life.  Clever.


I feel good about how I did with my goals for the week.  Not great, but good.  I accomplished quite a bit but I still have the feeling that I need a better routine when it comes to several things that didn't happen.  The older I get, the more I realize how much of me actually getting something done is in the setup.  If it's routine and easy to take care of something ahead of time, then I'm more likely to do it.  Doi.  I know.  But realizing this about myself has made so many impossible challenges seem possible.  Like taking roll every day at school and remembering to email parents back.


Dream big, right?


Fitness goals for the week of 4/11-4/17 results in red

Physical Therapy:
Resistance exercises (2 days) 1.5 days

Stretches  (as much as possible) 5 days



I can't officially say I did two days of PT because I half-assed the second day.  But I did haul out the bands and do some serious grunting and sweating on Wednesday night as I watched Modern Family.  I've been a BEAST for stretching, though.  I think it really helps with how I feel.  I managed to stretch before and after all three runs this week plus at least 2 (maybe 3) other days.


Running:
Short runs, 3-5 miles (2 days)
2 days, 4 miles & 3.4 miles
Long run, 6-8 miles (1 day) 1 day, 8 miles



I feel like doing a Mary Catherine Gallagher SUPERSTAR lunge for all my running.  Though I did cut my Thursday run short after tripping over Hurley dog for the first mile and then swallowing enough bugs for an ol' fashioned Egyptian plague.  I'm still proud I went outside, and I could tell today that even a small run made a difference.


I did my long run today.  It was great--I needed the mental recharge as much as I needed the miles on my legs.  There's nothing like a sunny day and a heapin' scoop of endorphins to put things into perspective.  I took it grandma-slow (I'm still so worried about messing up my hip/IT area) but I had no pain during the run at all.  I am having some serious soreness all day in that region but I stretched and I plan to ice again while I watch TV.  *Added: I just looked at this week's plan and realized I was only supposed to run 6 today.  Whoops.  Oh well!  Felt good!


Oddly enough, when I was looking at Garmin Connect I realized that I ran more miles this week than any week since I started running again: 15.39.  :)


Walking:
Easy, relaxing walk (1-2 days)
0 days


Whoops.


Eating:
Cook.  Eat at home.  Remember veggies.
Done.


Pretty much.  I think I made dinner every night this week (if we're counting hot dogs--which I AM) and I managed to get salads, fruit and veggies on the plate every night.  I spent a lot of this week trying to use up food we already had in the house, which meant we ate some weird stuff.  Today the kids and I hit a giant farmers' market and we're stocked up on late spring veg for the week.  (Tonight I tried making turnip fries to go with our sweet potato fries and they were not too shabby.)


Yummy dinner with farmers' market haul.  Yay produce!
And now for this coming week...

Fitness goals for the week of 4/18-4/24

Physical Therapy:
Resistance exercises (2 days)
Stretching (4-5 days)

Running:
Short runs, 3-4 miles (3 days)
Long run, 8-10 miles (1 day)

Walking:
Easy relaxing walk (1 day)

Eating:
Eat breakfast every day
Lots of produce
Cook dinner

Mental health:
Plant my vegetable garden :)

I'm off school this week, so my number one goal is to PRETEND IT IS SUMMER AND I AM A REAL PERSON.

I'll let you know how that goes.



Friday, April 15, 2011

Our engagement


It's fitting that I finally write this today.  Today is our eleventh wedding anniversary.  Yes, we count it that way even with our speed bumps.  It's all part of the same life, you know?  Even though we renewed our vows two years ago in May, it makes more sense to celebrate our anniversary.  E is as much a part of my life as my left arm at this point.  He's been around since tenth grade biology class, which seems like a lifetime ago.

Anyhoo.

We got engaged in April of 1999 in San Luis Obispo, California.  E had been home from Cal Poly for a year and we wanted to return for a visit while they had their spring fair.  Being the overly-self-critical and black-and-white seeing good girl that I was, I didn't think it looked right for us to go on a trip alone.  We invited some married friends to accompany us and we all drove down.

The day of the fair was nice; we toured around campus and some of the familiar haunts from E's dorm days.  Since it was a big weekend for the school there was a lot to see.  The weather was warm and wonderful, as it always is in my memory of SLO.  It was fun, but E seemed distracted.  He kept obsessing over what time the sunset was going to be that night.  In the pre-smartphone age, that information wasn't as easy to come by.  We all planned to drive up to Cuesta Ridge (pictured above) and watch the sun set over the ocean and the town in the valley.  I thought his obsession with the sunset was a little strange, but I didn't think too much about it.

My friend was pregnant and as the day wore on she started to show signs of fatigue.  Not having been pregnant yet myself, I couldn't understand why she wanted to bail on the drive up to the ridge.  E and I had done that drive a few times when he was at Cal Poly and it was a breathtaking vista of the surrounding area.  How could they not want to go?  I was so not in on the plan.

E and I drove up and found the ridge a bit more populated than it had been on our last trip.  No matter, though.  College kids flew kites and lowered the gates of their big trucks.  We found a flat spot and spread a blanket on the dirt.

For all his worrying, his timing was perfect.  The sun was just starting to set.  To our left glowed Pismo Beach, home of our beloved Splash Cafe.  To our right was the retro, stoic charm of Morro Bay.  Nestled between the mountains, the twinkling lights of San Luis started to ignite.  E sat to my right and I rested my head against his, the warm earth underneath us and the world at our feet.

I remember very little about what we said as we stared at the horizon, only that he started to fidget with something in his hand.  And then he proposed.  I turned my head to look at him and he held out a beautiful engagement ring.  I remember not thinking this was real.  My eyes teared as I said yes.

I couldn't have imagined our life together that day, but in some intangible way I knew he was going to be my family.  I've told him a million times that he is who I want to be with on vacation and at home.  He is the perfect Disneyland mate, the perfect SCUBA partner.  It is his hand I want to be holding when I see the Sistine Chapel or the Champs-Elysées.  He is the one I want sitting next to me on the porch while I slip the pages of my book.  His is the best hug, the one that fits just right.

Happy Anniversary, E.  Thanks for asking me in the first place.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quiet Thursday.

Both kids sick. Husband moving only his thumbs by the low glow of computer and XBox.

I forgot to stretch post-run, am wondering now if it's too late.  I think not.  Roo is tucked in my bed with rosy cheeks and pale eyes that give away her headache.  Henry thumps away at Paper Mario in the playroom.  We're very independent tonight, each of us plugged into our own device.

I type in my running clothes, just like I ate.  (Leftover tofu and some soggy veg.  Not too shabby.)  The backs of my legs stick to the coffee table.

The dog is wrung-out from our jog.  He lays on the back porch like a lumpy bedspread.  Kitten wraps herself around the back of E's computer like a purring neck pillow.

The sky is periwinkle, the best kind of sky.  I weigh the choice to crawl into bed next to my burning daughter against the effort it would take to walk in the backyard, open the spa.

Work is chaos.  Work is bad upon worse upon fear lately.  I've never considered prayer for taxes 'til now.

It's so good here in real life.

Tomorrow's our anniversary.  Eleven years.  Complicated since our separation.  Still a thing to celebrate.  Still a good memory.  Still glad I did it.

He smiles at me across the dark room.  Look at your cat.

I love him.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm a nut for...

cat feet.

SERIOUSLY LOOK AT THE CUTE IN THIS PICTURE. ALL KINDS OF CUTE.

That's not weird, right? I can't get enough of cat feet. (Truthfully, I can't get enough of dog feet or baby feet either.)

I won't leave my kitten alone. I'm always trying to pet her feet and feel the little pink pads on her paws. Unlike Marms, she's not "trained" enough to let me mess with her. She bites me all the time.

I need to do some more training. She must allow this. Twinkle, your feet will be mine. Resistance is futile.

I think I have a problem.

Shh. Don't tell anybody.



Easy Dinner: Stolen "Recipe" for Mexican Gumbo

Lord knows I'm a fan of the burrito bowl.  After buying a boatload of them from Chipotle, I started to make them at home... like, all the time.

Confession: It's one of my favorite things to make when we have people over.  I cook/chop up some options.  Everyone picks what they want in their own bowl.  Everyone loves his or her own meal.  I am praised for fabulousness, I blush modestly.  Success.

We make b bowls about once a week even when it's just us.  It's a handy way to use up leftover meats--generally whatever beast or bird that E smoked on Sunday I shred up and save for a Tuesday night dinner. A little rice, a dash of beans, some corn, avocado or salsa... meal time.

One of the days I was down in Riverside for Mock Trial I stayed back at the hotel with a sick kiddo.  I walked to a nearby Chipotle-esque joint for lunch, Qdoba.  I don't know how popular (or not) these are, but we don't have them around here.  I liked it.

Anyway, I got a good idea for a burrito bowl variation while I was there.  Tonight I totally copied it: Mexican Gumbo.



I sliced up a (very ripe) avocado to top mine.


Mexican Gumbo

ingredients:

cooked chicken, pork or beef of any kind
white rice
beans of any kind
chicken tortilla soup broth (I just mixed chicken broth and a bit of enchilada sauce together to taste)
shredded cheese
salsa
sour cream
crumbled tortilla chips

recipe:

1.  Layer rice, beans, meat in bowl.
2. Add a scoop of broth.
3. Top with cheese, salsa, sour cream or chips.

And just like that a nice variation of the burrito bowl is born.

THE END

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rejected

Win some, lose some.  Win one, lose one (so far).

I applied to five schools.  I've heard from two so far.  As you might remember, I was accepted to Chatham University in Pittsburgh.  Today I heard from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

sigh.


I heard a big no.  And it had to come with a letter that said my writing was "not at the level" they were looking for.  Zing.


It's okay.  It was a long shot school.  It's the top-ranked school of its kind.

I just wish (a little) that the letter didn't come today.  Today was not an easy day at work, nor was it a comfortable day.  It was ten shades of awkward with a giant side of pit-sweats.

Why today?  I'm trying not to read deeply into it.

Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in a beef roast.

LOL-Catted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Combo Food Fail

I stood by the trunk of a spindly tree, cracking peanut butter pretels open with my teeth: holding half in my mouth as I did a slight lean forward to let the peanut butter filling fall to the grass. I looked around to make sure nobody was watching, then I popped the other salty half of the empty shell into my yap and readied another nugget. Around me girls grabbed Dixie cups of Sunny D and settled into the schoolyard grass, unaware of my crack-and-drop routine. Little gobs of peanut butter hailed around my feet. I was glad nobody sat in one, but they looked too icky to eat.

I was 31.91 years old.

Last week I gave my combo-food finickiness a whirl after jogging a few laps with Roo. I don't mean to sound like a big food-waster (even though I am) but I think there's something sick about most combo foods. There's no logic or reason to this preference, so just abandon hope of finding one right now.

I thought I'd give peanut butter pretzels another shot. I hoped that my childish disgust for such things had faded along with fear of brussels sprouts and inability to call adults back. Nope. Peanut butter? Good. Pretzels? Good. Peanut butter inside pretzels? Goes against nature.

Just sayin'.

Just look at them. So smug.


If God wanted there to be peanut butter inside my pretzels, I'm sure they would grow that way on the pretzel tree.

Dipping is another subject altogether. Please don't interrupt while I'm ranting.

Let's see, other examples of gross food combos... Cheese and crackers ain't great either, if we're being honest. The "cheese" is less like cheese than it is like orange Oreo lard filling. I like cheese. I love me some crackers. But both the cheese and cracker suffer in quality when they get into combos. (edited: not real cheese and real crackers. The kind that comes in a pack with cheese-like product squeezing out of holes. Ew.)

The only exception to this made up, ridiculous rule is Chocolate, which God created to go with everything. Amen. (See: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the Book of Awesome.)

I also don't really like it when a "food" (note air bunnies?) is created just because 99% of our "flavors" (there they are again) are made up so they can be put anywhere. Par example: Just because popcorn is a thing and jellybeans are a thing, doesn't mean we need popcorn flavored jellybeans as a thing.

For the love of God.

I have to believe that if there's some teleological purpose, popcorn jellybeans are evidence that we've effed it up. There is no possible end game that involves those abominations, ergo we're doomed.

Other bad idea combos: Lunchables. Where the "lunch" is hardly "able" to hold a candle to such upstanding citizens of the deli counter as lunchmeat and (again) cheese. The combo somehow means quality goes out the window. Look, we cry, things in containers. I don't have to do the work of thinking about what I like to eat with other foods.

I'm getting pretty grumpy as I write this post and that's pretty ridiculous. This all started with me laying in bed thinking about how lame peanut butter pretzels are. The part of me that's rational also wants to add the caveat that meat wrapped in anything is the other exception to this rule (see: corndogs).

I was going to give you a list of other examples, but basically anything shaped like a nugget with goopy stuff inside? Not a fan. Don't send me pro-PBP hate mail. I'll just delete it. You'll never change me because I'm a cranky old woman.

Of course, I could be off my rocker and in ten years we'll all be surviving off peanut butter pretzels because the sun burned up and they're the only thing that exists after the nuclear holocaust. In that case, I owe you a nugget.



Book Review: Bossypants


Bossypants by Tina Fey

I love Tina Fey. Confession: this may or not be a roundabout way of liking myself: I can't read (or watch) anything she dreams up without having a distinct Oh my God, I'm Liz Lemon/Tina Fey thing. I realize of course that this is a grossly narcissistic wish. Tina Fey manages to make awkward look awesome. I just manage to make awkward more awkward.

That said, I went into this book kind of knowing I'd like it. I wasn't sure what she was going to write about, only that I would want to read it (as would E, who is president of the Tina Fey fanclub). The book was actually more like reading a blog -- and not a twinkly celebrity blog with all kinds of GOOP-esque things like mirin and Mario Batali and organic toilet paper made from unicorn fur. (Rock on, Gwyneth.) This was an ordinary story of parents and summer camp and working and being a mother. All of it, hilarious.

There was some talk about poop, so maybe there's more of a connection to Gwyneth's work than I originally thought.

I told E that I hope she makes a sh*t-ton of money on this book. I like it when people make money who deserve it. I laughed really hard through the whole thing and I felt like she offered some salient points about motherhood, working, being female and just being funny. She has a self-deprecating style that makes her relatable. She's smart. I like smart-funny. I didn't want the book to end--always a good sign. I blasted through it in one day, so it's not a long commitment, either.

My favorite sections of the book are about motherhood. She writes a prayer for her daughter that I wish I could reprint in it's entirety. Her discussion of TNs (Teat-Nazis) pretty much made me die. But I have to say I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The little clips of things from the Sarah Palin weeks on SNL were really interesting. Her interactions with Lorne Michaels and Alec Baldwin were, as well.

If I had more than $3.42 in my checking account this month I'd buy you a copy. I liked it that much. It's not for everyone (see: C-word, F-word, B-word, FLURJ) but I have to cop to liking a little profanity in my fun reads.

My recommendation: Read it tomorrow. Read selections out loud to your significant other. Laugh your butts off.



Saturday, April 09, 2011

Taste Memory (another breakfast post)

I use a knife to gently crack a ring around the egg's surface, then I scoop the whites into a bowl and slice them into slivers with the side of a spoon. Unfortunately today the yolk is too hard so I push it off to the side. A scrape of butter on top melts into the white valleys, now sprinkled with salt.

Comfort foods fall into two categories for me: foods that are consistent and dependable, and foods that are taste memories. Soft-boiled eggs are a taste memory, though I am unable to recreate them exactly as I remember. Like a writer trying to write to that one scrutinizing, unknowing reader, I am a chef in pursuit of the recreation of my grandmothers' cooking.

I find myself wondering if I am trying to recreate something that doesn't exactly exist, if memory has taken over at the limits of taste. Could anything I make ever be as good as either of my grandmas' creations, when my memories are tainted with positive associations? What if it was never that extraordinary in the first place? I love that food and memory are so complex.



Both of my parents worked. If I was sick, I went to Gram's (either one). Though they are entirely different, both of my grandmothers would start my sick day with a soft-boiled egg and toast. At Grandma Lila's this was usually sourdough, at Grandma E.V.'s it was a bagel. I have no recollection if this tradition started at one house or the other, only that a day when I was sick meant I got to request whatever kind of egg I wanted, and it was always soft-boiled.

We never had soft-boiled eggs at home. I'll have to ask Mom if that was because she didn't like them or she (like me) was inconsistent in their preparation. We always had hard-boiled eggs as a staple in the fridge; we ate scrambled and eventually fried with great regularity. But soft-boiled was for Grandma's house.

A soft-boiled egg is an exercise in patience and careful timing, so unlike what I eat on a weekday. Soft-boiled eggs are a sit-down food, and most decidedly not driving fare. Monday through Friday I find I'm lucky to make it out the door with a mug of black coffee or a yogurt to eat between classes. Lately I've had a strong craving for soft-boiled eggs that I think mirrors a craving I'm feeling for things like home, family and a slower pace. Frankly I'm no good at them--they're always clear and soupy or hard and crumbly--but even the attempt has an air of familiarity that comforts me.

I wonder what taste memories my kids will have. Will they make batches upon batches of "orange fries" without knowing that garlic holds the secret? Will they try to make my chocolate chip cookies and never know that cutting a few tablespoons of butter will keep the cookies from over-spreading? Or will theirs be a reflection of the hastiness of our generations? I hope they have more to pursue than the perfect bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

photo

Friday, April 08, 2011

Next week's run plan

I cheated a bit on my week off.  Wednesday my little Roo couldn't summon the energy to power through nine laps so I offered to run with her and some of the other girls.  I think I did about a mile--three laps or so--at a pretty slow pace.  Though I'd promised myself not to do anything physical this week, I didn't feel too bad about cheating.  I had zero pain.  I also didn't have any pain walking around or sitting, which wasn't the case for the three weeks prior.

This might have something to do with me not shaking my booty all week.

Next week I'm starting back up again with a regular run routine.  I'm all kinds of antsy to run.  I've been playing around with mileage plans on RunnersWorld.com tonight but since I don't have a goal (race) in mind it's hard to say what I should be running.  I know my body can probably handle 3-4 days of running and something between 6-10 miles for my long run.  Maybe I'll see what Kel is up to that weekend before I make my plan (though let's be real, she's probably up to 20-something and I'm not!).

For this reason and out of pure lilly-livered fear about what my hip will do, I'm setting some open-ended goals.  I'm not going to go nuts thinking that I'll run five days and round out the week with 50 miles.

Simple goals = a better chance to succeed.

Oh, and I got the call that my new shoes came in... I just have to go pick them up.  I am still loving the Asics Kayano, so I went with the newer model of the same shoe.  Here's hopin' that the transition is easy--but my current shoes aren't really worn out so these are going on the shelf as a backup, anyway.


New shoes.  Love 'em.  I'm so grateful to my friends for the gift card.
Fitness goals for the week of 4/11-4/17

Physical Therapy:
Resistance exercises (2 days)
Stretches  (as much as possible)

The resistance work is much harder for me.  I'm just not motivated to do the rubber band stuff.  I know it helps, so I really need to make sure I get in two days at a minimum.  Stretching is easier but I still forget.  On running days this means stretching before (yes, I know that's not the conventional runner's wisdom, but it makes a difference to my dancer body) and after I run.

Running:
Short runs, 3-5 miles (2 days)
Long run, 6-8 miles (1 day)

I'll probably do these runs on my regular routes... I'm less likely to bail that way.  I think I might be able to do four days, but again I don't want to fail at hitting my mark.  If the weather turns bad again I'll do them on the treadmill, but hopefully I can get outside to clear my head.  In a perfect world I'd do my shorter runs before work but I'm not going to commit to that for fear of failure.  No matter when I run it will be a success.

Walking:
Easy, relaxing walk (1-2 days)

This doesn't include my weekly walk with K, which I'd like to also start back up again.  I want one day of just me and my iPod.  It's time for me to start establishing good mental health habits.  Walking is the single best thing I do for my Crazies.

Eating:
Cook.  Eat at home.  Remember veggies.

Enough said.


There you have it.  Now it's written down.  I'll report back next week and let you know how I do.  I'm just excited (and eager) to get back in the game.  Hopefully the weather continues to cooperate, as does my old lady hip.



Thursday, April 07, 2011

Moms and Test Days


Test days were special days. Even if I tried to pretend otherwise, bedtime came early the night before. When your mom is a teacher, you always get a good night of sleep before the standardized test, whether you like it or not.

But those mornings were so special. Regular days meant sleepy eyes and cereal with Lis, usually Life or Cap'N Crunch or a bowl of Cheerios with a snowy blanket of sugar sinking into the milk. Generally I'd read both sides and the back of whatever box was before me, the Trix Rabbit being the precursor to blog writers. But test mornings meant special breakfast and special time: Waffles. Pancakes. French toast. Eggs. Extra time with Mom, who must have rearranged her two-hour curling iron, blue eyeshadow and newspaper routine to make it an event.

It felt like vacation.

There was talk about doing our best, peppered with bits of advice like fill in the bubbles all the way and take your time. I don't think my perception was that any single academic endeavor meant more in my school career than the yearly test. In high school when someone told me it didn't matter because it didn't go on our transcripts, I just stared, incredulous.

Surely that was wrong. There was a special breakfast for this thing.

I remember waiting for my parents to open my results each year, nervously sweating it out to see if I hit the 99th percentile again, wondering why they couldn't just add one more percent to round things out. In years when I "slipped"--I remember an 11th grade dip into the 80's in reading--I felt like a scratch was made on that inscrutable and omnipresent "permanent record."

I'm glad to know now that no such catalog exists. If only I would have known that in 5th grade when I got a citation for the toothpaste that ended up on my group-mate's desk. I was sure that would keep me from ever getting a job.

I'm sure the starchy carbohydrates in my belly fueled a valiant effort, but more importantly I know that the words and time gave me confidence to show what I could do. Test-taking became an opportunity rather than a worry. I got reminders about expectations, but they were wrapped in love (and bacon).

Today we began the test at my school. My perspective is so different and (admittedly) things have changed so much since the mid-eighties when I made my pancake-driven charge into the great world of the bubble sheet. NCLB and other legislation have put so much importance on the test that education has shifted--and maybe not for the better.

But this morning as I drove onto campus I caught myself wondering about the breakfasts of the kids who made their way to class. I can't help but think that there is still a whole group of moms out there who are fueling student achievement, and I was grateful.




Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Je pense, donc je suis.

(I think, therefore I am.)
I think this movie is kind of annoying.  Maybe I've just shown it too many times in class.
I think spring is awesome.  Truthfully, though, I think this is just because I want it to be summer right now.

I think it's the perfect day for a run.  I think I'll wait another week though, and rest my hip.  Sigh.

I think Romeo and Juliet is the worst of Shakespeare's plays to teach.  I'd really like to teach Othello again.  Or Macbeth.  Ooh, or King Lear (never taught that one yet but it's my favorite). Oh well.

I think movie days always sound like a good idea, but then I end up having to give kids the stinkeye for an hour straight.  I'd rather just teach.

I think it's going to feel awesome to finish school in May this year, but also really weird.

I think I'm getting impatient for results from grad schools.

I think I need a weekend away.  I think that's not happening anytime soon.

I think I need to dive back in to crocheting or reading--something that's just for me.

I think pulled pork sandwiches sound wonderful for dinner.  Good thing E is smokin' up some pig as we speak.

I think I need a nap.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Normal, USA

Welcome back to Normal, USA.  This week you'll be brown-bagging all your lunches, getting to bed at a decent hour and enjoying such singular activities as dinner with your family and conversations with husband.  You will use lunch time for eating only, and you will only drive to school once per day.

I know.  Weird, right?

I'm determined to make this week as boring as my 9th grade science class (sorry Mr. D) just to feel some sense of connection to life, home and all things ordinary.  I've had a long run of abnormal and it's high time I did something about it.  I've missed my kids and they've turned into weird little punks with attitudes.  I've missed my husband and he's turned into... well, a weird little punk with an attitude (I kid, I kid...) I've missed my kitchen and it's turned into... HOLY GOD KILL IT WITH A FIRE.

I can't even describe what my kitchen has turned into because I can't currently see it.

Time for some normal.

I paved the way for normal by spending yesterday knocking out my grading.  I let it slip a little (like Charlie Sheen is a little crazy) as things got hectic in March.  I knew I couldn't tackle anything else until I made my way through the tidal wave of essays that needed reading, commenting and scoring.  Check, check, checketty check.  Those are done.

(Just in time to start collecting TWO essays a week in AP, but who is counting?)

This week I'm coaching Girls on the Run twice instead of the usual once since the other coach has some commitments.  (Yes, this is an exception to normal but I'll allow it.)  I'm looking forward to more time with the girls--it always puts me in the best mood to spend time with those goobers.  I can't believe how much they have all improved this season.  I believe we have our practice 5k this week--I can't wait.  GOTR has been good for my soul.

Other than that I have a full week of (wait for it) NOTHING.  Nothing at all.  Just regular school stuff, plenty of time to be awesome.  I can't wait.  I'm about to reconnect in a big way with my DVR.  I'm not even running yet; I'm going to take one more week off in case my hip wanted to still be sore from my crazy dance shenanigans.  I'm going to keep stretching two or three times a day and work my physical therapy exercises (bleh) like it's my job.  I think by the next week I'll be ready to start back in on my running and I can't wait.  I might walk (but if I do it will be slowly and I will be sure to lollygag and dilly-dally.)

Three cheers for normal.  Hip hip... meh.



Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sowing forgiveness

Mark Twain says that "forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it." But who has it better, the violet or the heel? Better to be a noble, selfless violet spending eternity in a trampled garden, or the heel that asks forgiveness again and again? When E and I were in a state of disrepair I heard my calling to be that violet. I wonder now about the message that quote sends.  I wonder about patterns of hurt and apology.  What's right, or is there a "right"?


Forgiveness challenges me like an unyielding treadmill--forgiving myself has always been a struggle, but I also grapple with the idea of forgiveness in my relationships. "To forgive is divine" but in human context it can leave one person with a repeated burden. Unlimited forgiveness is a cornerstone of my faith; it's disheartening, then, to know that human forgiveness is imperfect. A violet will only withstand so much before it withers, yet humans don't seem to be able to avoid injuring each other.

I can usually apologize without too much trouble; apologies don't scratch too deep into my own discomfort.  Asking forgiveness, though, a bulb forms in my throat; I know it's necessary for me to humble myself for the task but it takes an internal fight.  Frankly the most difficult challenge comes when I'm the asked: letting go, feeling better, moving on, trusting again--these are so hard for me. I wonder if those things will ever get easier.  And knowing there are some unforgiveables in life--that troubles me. It doesn't jive with my sense of justice or reason. There are things that just can't be made right or made right quickly.

Tonight E and I mine the sands of frustration and fatigue for nuggets of peace. Taxes are due, tempers are short, eyes are flecked with the glitter of sleeplessness. Sometimes it's all just too much and everything comes to a head. Things get said. Feelings get hurt. Apologies get made. But when does peace come?  What's the right way to handle it?

I wish there was a timetable for forgiveness, a charted healing season. Plant an apology, give it full sun. Sow forgiveness, breed faith in the right weather. Instead it's a guessing game, a scattering of good intentions like wildflower seeds. There's no guide.  I suppose the best we can do for each other is to ask and consider, to listen and respond in love and give it time to take hold.



Saturday, April 02, 2011

Can YOUR teachers do this?

The event:

Staff GQ is a student fund-raiser. Male teachers do a "pageant" of casual wear, talent, and evening wear (tuxedos). In between these sections our female staff members, the Dancing Queens, perform two dance numbers.

None of these people are performers, but they get up and strut their stuff for a good cause. It's hilarious.

This year we did a flash mob intro with the guys:


Our themed routine was early 90's:



and our final routine was a mix of current songs:




Staff GQ has become one of, if not the, best thing we do all year. It brings us together to work on something for the kids but it helps us to meet people all over campus and build stronger working relationships. The kids go wild for it.

It's my favorite. Did I mention that the Dancing Queens are the best part? Not that I'm biased.




I had the time of my life...

Untitled by _AlisGraveNil_
My chest bump.


Did you hear that? It's the sound of an empty calendar.

This is my first day off since 3/20. Those thirteen straight days tested the limits more than Lindsay Lohan on probation, but I made it. And I did have the time of my life. In a way I can't believe that all in the last two weeks I taught English, went to a Mock Trial competition, went to Disneyland, met up with a former student, stayed in one of the jankiest hotels known to man, drove back from SoCal, coached 25 ladies to an awesome performance, and performed with them in front of hundreds of kids.

I'm still smiling with post-performance glow and I still have the fuzzy feeling that comes each year--sad I'm done with weekly practices but also glad to get back to real life. E and I have practically become strangers in the last two weeks and I am looking forward to redirecting my focus a bit. The kids have been clearly disrupted by my busy schedule. Little Roo had two tantrums that looked like the foreshadow of her teenage years. I know that time with Mom will help to bring her back down to earth.

This lazy Saturday morning is as delicious as a ripe summer strawberry. My busy absence from home in the last two weeks means that everything has a rosy glow to it today. I am happy for a quiet weekend of warm weather--it's a reminder that soon I'll be living my quiet (real) summer life. Until then I'm glad I have such great memories to get me through.