Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Problem solved

A friend will listen to your troubles until all hours of the night.  She will let your dog out to pee, watch your kids without hesitation, clean your kitchen and help you navigate the waters when life looks like Jerry Springer: the post-graduate episodes (read: psychosis dressed up with money, a sense of entitlement and fancy vocabulary).

Some friends, when they hear of your quest to find the perfect running bra complete with stash pocket for iPod, will actually search the Internet high and low for them.  They will then kindly send you a list of links, five or six, containing different bras from which to choose because they are "just so curious".  Apparently I am not the only desperate runner who wants to stash items in her bra, one of the oldest hiding places known to (wo)man.  My patients hide all kinds of stuff in theirs, probably where I got the idea.

None of those found by dear Pam appear to be made by Nike, Champion, Asics or Avia which means I was merely looking in the wrong places.  I like the looks of this one by the North Face in particular and hope to find it at REI.  In any case I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

To Whom it May Concern

Dear Nike, (or Champion, or Avia, or...)

I am a runner.  I don't run marathons or even enter races but I am a faithful, regular, solitary, middle-aged (yikes!) runner.  I am requesting that you add a zippered pocket to the front of your jog bras because that's really where I'd like to stash my iPod.  It's not small.  It's a big, flat iPod touch and I have an arm band for it which is fine in the winter, but when the weather starts to heat up it gets  funky and really wet.  I don't want to sport a three-inch white arm band tan on my left bicep either.  I don't like the belt gadgets (too bulky, uncomfortable) and I haven't found a zippered pocket in a pair of shorts or running pants yet that can accomodate my device, nor do I want the pocket on my posterior where it's hard to access.  I currently stash it under the left strap of my jog bras, just under my collar bone.  I find I can grab it easily there when I want to switch songs because despite the fact that I create my own playlists they never seem perfect in the moment.  There is a bit of slippage with my current method as I start to heat up, but the device stays put for the most part.  I tried to run once with my phone in the same spot but it's just too heavy and slid too much and I looked like I had an irregular and oversized pacemaker.  It might work though if I had a nifty pocket, then I could run and talk to my husband at the same time, drives him crazy.

Please pardon me if you make such a bra and I just haven't found it yet.  Believe me I've looked.  And if, after hearing my idea you'd like to add me to your creative team I'd surely be honored. 


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't try this at home

I told a friend the other day that I'm usually the last one to the party.  What I meant was that I'm usually not the first one to hear new news.  I'm not 'in' on the gossip, I don't usually hear of the trends until they've been around for a while, etc.  The kids and I spent the better part of our weekend entranced by these guys slacklining, which is probably old news to many of you (it was part of the Super Bowl half time show with Madonna).  To us, it was a new phenomenon, well, sort of new, until I remembered back to my Athleta catalogs that picture women doing yoga on a 2" tie down strap strung between two trees (really, that's basically what it amounts to).  So, I had seen pictures before, but never seen anyone in person, certainly not doing tricks and flips and flops and crazy stunts and I mean crazy.  I'm sure if you search slacklining on you tube you'll be amazed though I'm not going to dig up the clips for you here.

Besides spending the past few days trying to convince my husband to string the straps he uses to secure the canoe to the top of the car between two trees in the front yard so we can all have at it, I came away from the experience with a new perspective.  New, but old.  New in that it's an old idea in my head that has come to a new place, thereby making it seem new.  Some would call that growth.  Call it what you like, but my 'aha' moment came from watching completely unihibited people thoroughly enjoying themselves, doing something extremely difficult and athletic, something a little crazy but not hurting anyone and not really caring at all about what anyone thought.  No hang-ups from the past stopping them, no worries about what people thought about them, just enjoying pure freedom.  Inspiring.

It changed me a little.  My kids tried it.  My son's friend was hooked depsite his double ear infection (found out later).  My brother-in-law wants one.  My husband thinks we're all a little looney, but then he wasn't there to witness it all.  I can't wait to see the look on his face when he comes home and sees us 3 feet up in the air balancing on his tie-down straps where the hammock used to hang in the front yard.  He has only to join us, right?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bright Spots

oh darlin'
turn that finger 'round
you're the one bringin' you down
you're the one bringin' you down

wake up every mornin' wish you had somewhere to go
had somethin' to show for it
singin' on the sidelines
just waitin' for the wind to blow
~ HoneyHoney

This week's mood brighteners:

1. Picked up training for that half-marathon I may never run
2. Watched my son turn into a budding entrepreneur at school (I knew it was in his blood)
3. Got lost in a new book
4. Seriously found my groove at work
5. Took some advice 347th hand which helped significantly with item #1--sweet relief
6. Continued early waking routine and forward momentum despite amnesia
7. Turned off husband's comments that pertained to my "singular focus" (he may have said "one track mind")
8. Flirted with him instead to create distraction
9. Laughed
10. Listened hard to lyrics like those above. Oh, HoneyHoney. So true.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I guess you're either headed somewhere or ending up somewhere.  --We are Augustines

I came fully awake around eleven a.m. today.  That didn' bode well, I'm sure for whatever it was I stumbled out of bed to write at 5:01, nor did it help me in my efforts to put the children on the bus.  I drove to work wondering if they were adequately dressed, brushed and lunched, going over the mental checklists much too late, and nodded during the morning meeting.  If not for a few colorful and lively coworkers I surely would have snoozed.  I sat next to a new favorite nurse who vacillates between looking either worried or terrified, or perhaps it's just the combination of shock and dismay at the tragedy of how some folks really and truly live either by choice or circumstance.

I drove by the prison, which is situated on one of the most beautiful (and would be expensive were it not for the outlaws) parcels of land in the county.  I was on my way to see a blind woman, belting out this song, thankful for a job that has me outside so much of the time and of course for the ability to see.  My under-caffeinated and mellow self must have been contagious as I saw her nearly nod off right in front of me toward the end of my visit.  I watched my step on the way out and hoped not to fall through the soft kitchen floor.

The shelter of the hospital and our homes protects us from seeing what there is to see, from being where we need to be, from feeling uncomfortable.  I pause then to wonder if I'm going somewhere, merely ending up there, or just along for the ride, blindly following my GPS.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Old Faithful

I told myself I was going to be happy this Mother's Day.  I actually tell myself that every year and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  I know what you're thinking,

This girl is not going to do this.  She is not going to commit the great sacrilege of saying something negative about Mother's Day, quite possibly the most protected holiday of the year whereby on Facebook we pay great homage to all the saints who live, breathe and walk the earth among us, these women we are honored to call 'Mother'.

And you would be right, I'm not going to.

But what I am going to confess is that I've never known quite what to do with myself on this holiday, not really knowing how to BE "Mother". 

Surely my dear you've figured it out after three kids and eleven or so years, you say, and to some extent I have.  But I know that since my first, and my very worst Mother's Day (actually being a mother), where suddenly there were too many mothers on the block and there was hell to pay and I was the one that owed, I've been looking for all the clues I can find as to how I'm supposed to act and that never really turns up any positive results for me.  I've stopped standing in front of the card section at Target thinking God will strike me down for being a bad daughter when I keep turning up duds and sticking them back in their slots.  I've stopped feeling sorry for myself for what isn't.  Today I turn my thoughts to what is.

I look into my husband's face as it erupts like Old Faithful only on a continuous flow, pretending he doesn't have the worst cold of the year as he tells me what a great job I'm doing.  I listen when he tells me to relax, to not be so tense, and that I'm not allowed to touch the laundry or clean or do any cooking or dishes.  I look at the new running outfit he gave me so I "can look cute" when I run, especially when I go with friends, not because of how my appearance reflects upon him but because this is how he hopes I will feel in his gift.  I glance at the toothbrush holder and see how he's thoughtfully set his brush aside because he's equally as afraid of catching germs as he is of giving them to me and I think today is in part about our relationship.  Without it there would be no children.

I look again into the eyes of my kids and squeeze them as they hand me all their homemade gifts, the cards, the picture frame, the bookmark that's really a laminated picture of my littlest with a yarn pom pom coming out of the top that I'll keep forever.  I feel the duct tape ring on my finger that my daughter just brought me as I type and instead of feeling detached and wondering if the kids really mean all of this for me, I decide instead that they do and remember that they are new to the Mother's Day game, that they don't have the forty years of baggage I carry and vow not to give it to them.

So instead of pressuring myself into thinking there's some great thing I have to do or be today, I remember this isn't my last chance.  This holiday comes every year and I get to practice and I don't have to be some super-fantastic-excellent-saintly-does-everything-right-mother and I don't have to have it all figured out.  Today it just means eating a little too much, sitting outside, going for a long run and not much more.  It means listening to my husband drive our kids nuts singing the Barney clean-up song long after they're Barney age just to motivate them to work so I don't have to, and watching him stop every now and then to mop up the blasting geyser.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Top is Ugly

I left the apartment with Jesus and General Lee on the walls and replayed the conversation from earlier.

"Well that's an interesting top you have on today," my patient said.

Yes, I suppose purple North Face is a strange choice for a bright, sunshiny day in May, I thought.

"Look, we match," I said and cringed at the realization.  Silence.

Interesting.  I hate that word.  There was an interesting smell in my house the other day and I sniffed around and scrubbed the toilet down twice before I realized the fifteen year old cat had missed the litter box.  Interesting.

A therapist once told me I should respond with, "well that's interesting" when I was screamed and yelled at and accused of being a terrible person.  "That's just not something I would say," I told her at the time, because it wasn't.  I found none of it interesting then and still don't.

When someone tells me something is interesting I wonder if their life is really that boring, or why they're afraid to say what they really think.  Take the lady today for instance.  She clearly didn't like my top or she would have called it something other than interesting.  I like her, she's very sweet and nice.  She doesn't say what she means but then I already knew that about her.

These days I handle the truth better than lies in disguise.  They're just irritating after forty.  Say what you mean or zip it.  Fleece in May is not fashionable, but I was cold.  Who cares?  I'll pull out the down vest next time, it's my favorite, see what she thinks.

The cat poop smelled rank, not interesting, screaming at me is unproductive not interesting and results in a dial tone.  My tops may be cute or hideous but I doubt there's an interesting one in the lot.  I wonder what else I can find interesting to talk about today?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finding Bottom

I used to let all my air out and sink to the bottom of the pool when I was a kid.  I pretended I was a shark, not a minnow, and lurked about.  Other times I sat recumbent as if in a lounge chair with my hands clasped over my belly.  I did some of my earliest meditating underwater, deafened by it and isolated, until I had to come up for air.  The moments were brief but I'd string enough together and was satisfied.

Or if we were at the lake I'd wear a mask and dive in the murky green, and position my face inches from the bottom to see the shells.  I brought them up, brown, ugly, caked with pond muck and the stench of sulfur.  I collected them on rafts and sand castles and pretended I was Jacques Cousteau.  I dreamed in a world of my own making under the water where it was quiet and I was alone.  I had some of my biggest adventures at the bottom of Lake Lucerne.

Two days ago I rose at five a.m., then again yesterday and today in search of the bottom of the pool, those shells in the lake and the girl that once believed she was a famous oceanographer.  I looked for her at my little desk in the office, perched in front of the computer until my right shoulder pinched.  I moved to the window seat where the light was dim and my knees ached.  In the early morning haze of half-awakedness I put thoughts on screen.  The ones that ramble and race when I run, or vaccuum, or do laundry.  The ones that won't let go of me.  The repetitiveness of the mundane and pre-dawn grogginess lulls me like water.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dog vs. Human

Since her surgery, I give my dog PT three times a day on her knee.  Unlike some of my patients she likes me.  No, she loves me, wags her tail and licks me every time she sees me.  She takes her medicine without fussing or complaining.  She sleeps when she's supposed to.  She walks willingly and doesn't limp for sympathy.  She wants to run and chase groundhogs and I have to hold her back.  She doesn't want to be sick or stay inside.  She doesn't fart on me or cry when I leave or want therapy to go on forever. 

I'm going to be old and sick one day.  I'll probably want therapy (if I have it) to last forever, moan and groan about all of my health problems to anyone who will listen, fart on anyone who stands close enough and then cry when they leave.  Perhaps these PT days are an early penance.

I took a deep breath (but not too deep) today in the midst of the worst of it and reminded myself I wasn't too good for any of it.  Forty years from now the picture will be flipped and some youngish girl who walks too fast and talks too fast and types too much will hang onto me so I don't fall over.  If she's nice I'll try to remember to pass on the brussels sprouts.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

nuthin' doin'

I've munched on a piece of humble pie all week. Each time I looked down to take another bite it was bigger and I laughed at myself and shook my head. It came in the form of a book, loaned by a friend, a writing guide. It was everything I had forgotten and stuff I never knew. Biology was safe, writing is not.

My best friend is my delete button and I've chopped huge sections of a story. I've cringed repeatedly and aligned myself with the harsh edit. I scrapped everything and started something new. I returned to the original. I've been busy with the unecessary.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Vaccuum

I wandered through the Gap yesterday, something I hadn't done in months due to lack of time, desire. I contemplated the name of the store and the rest of the gargantuan mall. I finally had a few moments to shop for myself and turned promptly around and walked back to my car.

"Where are all your clothes?" a friend once asked while she toured my house. I made some lame excuse about how the large closet dwarfed the amount I had and that there were more items packed away in dressers, but the reality was there wasn't a whole lot. Still isn't.

I have despised shopping for as long as I can remember and won't recount the reasons just the overriding theme, I find it a completely empty, life-sucking experience.

If you see me on a regular basis and notice the same merry-go-round of outfits I parade, you now know why. I have favorites and I wear them.

I think of the example I set and wonder if I'm depriving my daughters of some mysterious "shopping skill" that I lack but have accepted they surely won't learn it from me.

It's true, I've been known to say, "I love Anthropologie!" But the reality is I enjoy the experience of being in the store (but then so does my father-in-law). The smells, the sounds, the salvaged wood floor, even the woven shopping baskets with brown leather handles that I can't take home are pleasing. Off I went.

I left the store empty-handed and thought of other ways I could spend my time. While I may not have a little black dress or anything suitable for a cocktail party (dreadful!), my life luckily doesn't require either. Flip-flops and shorts were perfect for my son's baseball game. And later the kiddie ER.