“Pearls are always appropriate,” Jackie O.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of sitting across a table from me and having a drink – this is pretty close to the experience.

You can dress me up but you can’t take me out.

IMAGE_2892-MOTION

IMAGE_3281-MOTION

Summertime

Just checking in…. kitchen renovation is happening.  Painting and finishing is on deck and I am chomping at the bit to get things finished.  My mother asked me today “So, when exactly do you want me to come down and help you get things finished?  This afternoon?” She was only kind of joking.  I am feeling very Veruca Salt about this whole scenario.  I want it all and I want it now.

But it is summertime.  And summertime deserves a certain reverence.  So, instead of painting and figuring out how to make a  perfect mitered corner in the baseboards I need to replace I am eating watermelon and letting my kids eat popsicles at the pool moments before we go home for dinner and staying up too late and running too little and getting excited when Tone Loc is on the radio and occasionally misbehaving.  Because it is Summertime, guys.

But I miss y’all.  So, I am checking in.

Overheard just now from the living room:

20140623-184958-67798265.jpg

Lucy was terrorizing Emily. Emily yells out “Mom!!! Can you help me? Stick a boob in her face or something?!”

pool breastfeedingShe has a point.  It does tend to chill her out.

20140623-185003-67803136.jpg

I hope you are all enjoying your Summer.  Tell me, what is keeping you busy?

 

I’m really not very busy.

hot mama tattooIt’s not that I haven’t had anything on my mind. I have tons and tons of things to say. Most of it is not private or scandalous or even very interesting.  I look at the images in my phone and I think “what is THAT a picture of?” and I am reminded that I took it because I didn’t want to forget to tell you something.

I just haven’t gotten around to writing it all down.  And it’s not because I have been busy.

I wanted to tell you about all the things I learned by having a ridiculous temporary tattoo for Mother’s Day.

20140603-130408-47048082.jpgI wanted to explain that we have finally started renovating our kitchen and that my life is upside down and I can’t find anything and that it is so incredibly hard to keep vacuuming the carpet that we are tearing out in a matter of weeks.  Ripping out this shelf paper from my kitchen cabinets is like removing a little tiny piece of 1987 and the sweet old people who used to live here.  It makes me happy that this room that I inhabit a bazillion hours a day will finally feel like mine but all in the same breath I am reminded of this little old couple that owned our house.  There is a ramp to my kitchen door for a wheelchair and I wonder if the older fellow that went up and down that ramp is even still around to enjoy this warm weather and here I am just gleefully ripping out their shelf paper.

I keep seeing weird stuff.  Truly weird stuff, like underpants on the ground that do not belong to my toddler (who by the way is totally wearing underpants now, OMG, don’t talk about it or it will all disappear in a puff of smoke like a dream.) I saw a lighter in the water bottle holder at the gym today, who has a lighter in their pocket at the gym?  I keep seeing things and I want to tell you about them and say something funny.  Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 1.23.23 PM

Other things are happening, too.  In my attempts to run 1000 miles this year I am kicking major ass.  I hit 500 miles before the end of May and I am up 8.87% for the year, not that I am keeping track.  I ran my fastest 5K last weekend after staying up too late and drinking Tuaca with an old friend and it felt really good.  It is still not crazy fast but it is faster than I have done it before.  Measurable results.  That really gets me excited.

running mileage

I am not any busier than I usually am. Not really. There are the same 24 hours and the same two small people who need me.  I am not too busy to sit down and tell you about how I think that my Hooters hat is old enough to drink beer now. 20140603-130404-47044077.jpg I stole this hat from my brother in 1993.  My dad won it in a golf tournament and gave it to my brother.  I stole it from him because I love him and that is how you show the feelings to the sibling.  You steal their shit and wear it, right? I wore this hat all the time in the years that I drove a convertible and the inside is so disgustingly sweat-stained but I can’t seem to let it go.

So, if I am not busy why don’t I have the time to write all the mundane nonsense that keeps me feeling grounded?  Even if I subtract the 871 hours I have spent sitting on the floor in the bathroom saying “Close your eyes and pee, baby.  Just close your eyes and pee….” I really should be able to make time.  So, what has changed? I wondered for a few days if maybe I had lost my voice or I had nothing to say or maybe I had such Big Things to say that I wasn’t ready to put the words down yet.  Nope.

I have just been moving slow.  I stopped hurrying.  My house is upside down and it’s ok. There is laundry in my dryer and dishes in my sink and no one is freaking out.  I spent 40 minutes walking to the car today from the gym.  40 minutes.  We walked along the edge of the brick retaining wall and we looked at rocks.  Lucy and I stopped and smelled actual roses and rest assured I snickered.

20140603-130410-47050077.jpg

There is only one week of school left and homework is over for the year.  We just have to read every day. Yesterday, instead of having Em sit at the kitchen table and read to me while I make dinner and sweep up and double-check the calendar and write a blog posts and check emails I decided to just lie on the floor and listen.  And then we went to the pool and we stayed longer than I had planned and bedtime was late and dinner was a sandwich but it felt so good.

20140603-130406-47046635.jpg

It’s so easy to want to hurry up and get to the good part.  Sometimes for me “the good part” is this selfish time that I click click click at the keyboard and record the trivial details of my day so that someday when I realize that this was the good part I can look back and remember how it all went down.  Very occasionally I manage to really be present.  I am trying.

A few of you have emailed to say “Hey, how are you? What have you been up to?” and part of me felt like I was supposed to explain that I have been busy.  But I haven’t. In fact, I am actively trying to be less busy.

Try it. I dare you.

 

Split Seconds

Splits.  If you run than you know what they are.  If you don’t, it’s simple.  It’s a unit of measurement (typically a mile) that breaks down a run into smaller parts.  Ran six miles in 54 minutes?  Your average pace would be 9 minutes per mile but your splits might be all over the place.  Mile 1: 10 minutes, Mile 2: 9 1/2 minutes, Mile 3: 8 minutes and twenty seconds and so on.

But there is another kind of split – the split second.   I became a mother in a split second. One second I was in labor and the next second I had a baby in my arms.  One second you have a full bucket of water and the next second you have water all over the floor.

This weekend I was running down the side of the road, towards traffic, like you do. One second I was running and doing math in my head (a quarter of a mile to the light, turn and head towards the house, one mile down hill and I will be at an even eight when I get home)  and the next second I heard the screech of brakes and the smash of bumper on bumper.  I spun around instinctively and my eyes started to well with tears.  Behind me there were two more runners, my running partner and her teenage daughter. We were all okay.

Three runners.  Two teenage drivers, one that hit his brakes abruptly before turning and another that was following too closely.  Five people.  Two drivers. And three runners.    We were all okay.

20140518-201401-72841689.jpgIt has been four months since Meg Menzies was killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run.  I still think about her every time I cross an intersection, every time I turn to look behind me and every time a driver waves back at me.  I breathe deeply and I know I am safe.  In this split second that I whipped around and counted two more runners I knew we were all safe.

Meg Menzies wasn’t okay.  And I haven’t forgotten.  When I run a long run on a Saturday morning and I zigzag across a few roads here in town I think about her. I am extra careful.  I wave at the drivers and I run towards the traffic.  I wear bright colors.  She was extra careful, too.

Be safe.  And be grateful.  Everything can change in a split second.

20140518-201403-72843271.jpg

Unsolicited Parenting #2: Virginity

If you happen to listen to Madonna while you do the dishes and your 8-year-old daughter happens to ask you what a virgin is – be careful what you tell her.  Don’t tell her that a virgin is someone who has never done “something” before or else she will loudly announce “I am a virgin!” whenever you enter a store she has never been in or eat a meal she has never had before.

And maybe you’ve already anticipated this – but I was rather taken aback when my sweet 8-year-old daughter shouted “I’m not a virgin anymore!” after she left the store and after she set down her fork.

It’s my recommendation that you go with a more specific explanation of the word “virgin” when your child asks you.  And since I am no longer an “Explaining the word virgin to your sweet daughter” virgin – you should really take my advice.

20140516-093925.jpg

Happy Third Anniversary, MQD!

I got lucky.  I met a super boy that became a wonderful man and we got married.  And then I got really lucky and all that worrying I did about being able to get pregnant turned out to be for nothing and we made a honeymoon baby.

So, wedding anniversaries tend to disappear in a mess of kids and baby and soccer practice and mother’s day and my birthday is next week, anyway.

But lately I have been thinking about how important it is to stop and take a breather and honor the marriage that the rest of my life hinges around.  We’ve got a good thing.  So, it seems easy.  But a marriage needs to be fed. Nobody likes a hungry marriage.

Sunday afternoon, after my race, I asked MQD if he wanted to go out and grab a pitcher and some burgers at The Wooden Nickel and call it our Anniversary Dinner.

20140501-085443.jpgAs evidenced by the sippy cup behind the pitcher, we had company.  But she came home from our honeymoon with us, after all.  It didn’t bother me to have her tag along on our Anniversary Dinner.  We laughed and talked and we fed our marriage. 20140501-085456.jpg

20140501-085508.jpg

Nobody left hungry. Cheeseburger plus fried egg plus tater tots plus beers equals a happy marriage, FYI.

We’d planned on eating dinner at home last night.  I would pick up cupcakes from Sugarland (they did our wedding cupcakes!) and MQD would grab sushi from a local place and we’d lay low.  And then I got lucky again.  The stars and the soccer and softball schedules aligned and my kids were invited to eat dinner with my nearest and dearest and her family.  With the kids out of the picture I had to amp up the Wedding Anniversary Shenanigans. Quickly.

Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Dress plus Apron equals a sweet surprise.  MQD called to let me know he’d picked up dinner and asked what I was up to.  “Just playing with the kids and waiting for my husband like a pretty princess.”  MQDHe thought I was kidding.

“When are you not just hanging around like a pretty princess?” I had mentioned wearing my wedding dress all day for our anniversary but evidently he didn’t think I would bother. He got out of his car and we met him on the porch as we often do, only I was a wee bit more glam than normal.  I opted to switch up my greeting from my typical still sweaty in gym clothes “Dinner is almost ready, I am taking a shower” and went with a “You have ten minutes to change your clothes, kids are having dinner across the street.  We are going out for a drink, home to eat cupcakes and we can have sushi after the kids go to bed?”

Nonsense

Three years and counting and he still rolls right along with my nonsense.

From our wedding vows (and Tom Robbins’ Still Life with Woodpecker)

“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”

 

Thank you, nice lady, for taking our picture in front of Mystery Brewing Company! And double thank you to the nut that asked us if we were going to prom when we ran into the store to grab beers on the way home.

20140501-094602.jpg

The Scene of the Crime

I told a man yesterday that I consider him my unofficial Pusherman.  Roughly a year ago it was him that said “And Go.”  (Pool swim triathlons have a staggered swim.  Each swimmer begins roughly ten seconds after the last swimmer.  This is an effort to avoid a total pile up as you snake up and back through the lanes.  It doesn’t always work.  More on that later.)

Last spring I pushed off the wall and started the swim leg of my first triathlon. And an addict was born.

This weekend I returned to the scene of the crime, Girls Run the World Sprint Triathlon put on by FS Series. I was excited, eager to see my own improvement over the last year.  It is hard to really compare race times to one another because the conditions are always different.  This race was hilly, that race was congested.  But I had a neat opportunity to compare the progress I have made in the last year by doing the exact same race again almost a year to the date.

So, how was the race? Well, they say a picture says a thousand words.  I think this picture below says “Holy shit, guys, third place in my age group? So, it was a small race and there were only 26 people in my age group, but holy shit, guys!” Well, to be a thousand words it would say that 35 times.

TRiathlon mama

If you are simply humoring my obsession or you have already asked me “So, how was the race?” and gotten my long-winded reply you can feel free to skip the rest of this post.  My feelings won’t be hurt at all.  Really.  I filled up my wine glass trophy enough times last night that I barely have any feelings today.

Swim: The swim is my strong sport.  It is the one that seems to come naturally to me and I have the advantage of having been a life-long swimmer. I knew as soon as we lined up that maybe it was going to be a rocky swim.  “I am not a very good swimmer, I haven’t been in the pool since I don’t remember when!” Several women around me echoed similar thoughts.  Umm.  Maybe I should have entered a different swim time?  We are lined up by our 100 yard swim times and I was conservative.  Lesson learned.  By the end of the first 100 yards there were four women ahead of me piled up on one another and it is impossible to pass that many people. I did a little breast stroke so I could see what was going on, passed a few folks when I had the chance and reminded myself of the truth I have heard numerous sprint triathletes utter –   “Tris aren’t won or lost in the swim leg.”  In the greater scheme of things being a fast swimmer gets you an early swim start and you waste less adrenalin waiting in line, but that’s it as far as it goes with respect to any kind of huge advantage.

The lap lane traffic jam was evidenced in my times.  5:47.  Last year was better with 5:24 but there was a fair amount of traffic in that race, too.  I am still too chicken to put in an ambitious pace time (sub 2 min/100 yard) for my swim for fear of getting in the way of the “real triathletes.”  Someday.

Bike:  The bike is my weakest leg. I live in fear of my chain popping off.  In spite of the great strides I have made in bicycle maintenance I am still nervous on a bike. I brake when I go downhill.  That does not a competitive cyclist make. But it’s fucking scary, guys. Gone are the days when I would fly down a hill all “Look, no hands, Mom!” I rode my hybrid at this race last year so I knew I would shave some time off of last year’s pace just by virtue of being on a road bike.  Who cares if it is a 30 year old lever shifted road bike (a sweet sparkly blue Sekai 1000, a Japanese bike circa 1980)?  It’s mine and I didn’t need a second mortgage to buy it! I am still too scared to clip in but I didn’t brake on the down hills! Progress, folks!  And my time reflects that!  Shaved just about five minutes off my bike leg.

A girl and her ten speed

 

This picture says “I just changed my clothes in the parking lot because since I have had two babies I no longer believe in things like privacy” or something very similar.

Run: I came into the transition area to rack my bike a little winded.  I pushed myself on the bike and I was a little nervous about the run.  I forgot my Garmin and I have never run without something telling me my pace.  I was terrified that I would burn out quickly or end up running super slowly in an attempt to make sure I could finish.  I slugged some water and racked my bike and figured “Here I go.  Fuck it, I am just gonna get behind someone that “looks faster” than me and go.”  I exited transition and as I ran past the DJ I heard the best sound I could have imagined – shitty synth drums.  I can’t figure out how to spell it out – but you know the drum lead… “Miss her, kiss her, love her…. That girl is POISON! Never trust a big butt and a smiiiile…” I was smiling alright.  Two more miles and I was done.

This race is a pain in the ass, like most in and around Raleigh.  The first mile has lots of downhills and lulls you into a false sense of security.  Grabbed water at the turn around and wrapped my mind around the fact that I had to run back up all of those hills.  My run was… okay.  I should have pushed harder. Live and learn.  And don’t run behind someone that “looks fast.”  What does that even mean?  And don’t forget your Garmin, asshole.  You are technologically dependent, accept it and move on.  Shaved just about a minute off of my run time.  Not impressive for a year’s worth of training, but I will take it.

Summary: I shaved ten minutes off of my time.  My swim was slower, my bike was a good bit faster and my run was a little faster.  My transition times showed huge improvement because I didn’t stand there doing that thing that I do at the airport where I check my pockets compulsively 800 times.  I just put my shoes on and I left.  I did the whole race in my tri-suit.  Last year the idea of riding my bike and running in what amounts to a bathing suit made me want to die.  This year (after a year in a gym locker room and a year working hard to accept and nourish the body that I have) I decided to just go for it.  And guess what – nobody gave a shit.  Not a single person shouted “Go #48!  Go, right back and put a shirt on over that mess!” Go figure.

I don’t usually talk numbers because I think the message gets lost in the details  but if you really wanted to know you could see them on the internet and the idea of you creeping around the internet freaks me out. If you are dying to see the side by side comparison – here you go –   2013 and 2014.

Am I still riding high?  No such luck.  In case you were wondering I figured out the fastest way to knock a girl down a peg or two.  I was standing around waiting for the awards ceremony (having figured out via the wonders of live tracking and smart phones that I had actually placed in my age group.) I’d eaten a bagel.  I’d changed into dry clothes.  I had called my mother.  I had a little time to kill. I walked up to the DJ booth to thank the DJ I Could Have Given Birth To Without Having Been a Child Bride. “Thanks for Bel Biv Devoe, it was right on time!”

He smiled.  It was a smile similar to the teenage checker at the grocery store.  It was the “I am humoring you because I need this job and you seem nice enough” smile.  And then he did this terribly confusing thing.  He stuck his fist out.  Slowly (thank goodness or I’d have thought he was going to punch me.) I stood there looking perplexed for what seemed like an eternity and then I realized he was, as the kids say, fist bumping with me.  I swallowed a guffaw and stuck my fist out.  And then I turned on my heel (not easy to do in flip-flops) and ran.  Because I was in hysterics.  Whatever level of cool is afforded to those that place in their age group at an all-womens popular with first-timer’s sprint triathlon is instantly stripped when a twenty something tries to fist bump you.

So, how was the race?  It was awesome.  Do I have any advice?  Train hard.  Have fun.  Get there early and you will be the first person to use your chosen porta-potty.  And stay the hell away from the DJ.

Cheers!  What do you have planned for the summer?  Fitness goals or otherwise?

Cheers

And don’t even talk to me about the Diet Coke in the background. Change is hard. I don’t drink it as often as I used to.  Lame excuse, I know.  Just gaze in to my “I have had three glasses of wine” eyes and tell me how you plan to kick your own ass this summer.  It feels so good.  All the cool kids are doing it.

Measured Success

The very best part about doing something you have never done before is that no matter how you do – it is the best you have ever done.  In the last month I have set two personal records (PRs.) Having never run a 25K or a half-marathon at all until recently –  I was all set to crank out two PRs.

I went after the 25K with an “I have never run this before ever” mentality  and I was pleased to have finished strong.  Knowing that I had another race in only two weeks that was of slightly shorter distance, I set an attainable goal.  I felt like I had a little gas left in the tank when I finished the 25K so I decided to try and go a little faster.

I’m not fast. A year ago I couldn’t run one continuous ten minute mile.  Last week my half marathon pace was 10:07 on average.  That’s measurable progress.  So many people have asked me in the last year why I run.  It’s a simple answer.  There aren’t many opportunities for an adult to have measurable success outside the workplace. For months and months I wasn’t getting faster so I set my sights on distance.  Mission accomplished. My 5K time is creeping faster.  Slow and steady progress. marathon mama

This weekend I will switch gears (oh man, do you love a good pun!!  Switch gears, I am gonna ride my bike, guys.  I kill me.)  My personal triathlon season will kick off at the scene of the original crime.  Last year I finished my first sprint triathlon at an all women’s event.  It’s technically a super sprint (250 yard swim, 10 mile bike and a 2 mile run.) Last year I wanted to finish.  I rode a heavy hybrid and I had run for less than three months.  I was happy with my finish.  It’s a small event.  I finished 64th out of 126 participants. This year?  I am going back to run the same course.  There should be measurable improvement.  Right? And so begins the sleepless week.  I like to set goals.  I like to achieve them.  What’s reasonable?  I am pretty sure that cups of coffee at 10 pm and loads and loads of googling and looking at my runkeeper graphs for the last year will not help. Getting my bike out of the shed might be a good place to start.

Divorce is stupid

I hate being divorced.  It’s so stupid.  It’s stupid that all of these years later it is still there.

I love where I am right now.  I love my husband.  I love my life and my children and my home.  I can even confidently say that I love myself.  And none of those things would be without my past.  But I still hate it.

I hate that it makes me cry out of nowhere.  I hate that it makes me feel like all of the things that should feel permanent might just disappear one day.

I hate it more now that we have come all the way out the other side.  Last week when we sat on the beach and exchanged pleasantries, I hated every minute. When I realized that more time had passed since I had seen him than ever before in the last 18 years, I hated it.  When we spoke last week and I said “how was your day?” and he laughed and said “not good” I hated that my heart seized up in my chest because I am so ready for all of his days to be “all good.”  He deserves that much.

I hate that I don’t know where he works exactly or what the inside of his home looks like because I used to know everything, even things I wish I didn’t know.

It was easier when I got to say that I was divorced but that he was still my best friend because he was the person that knew me best. He was the person that had known me the longest.  But the truth is, the last six years have changed us both so much that unless we are talking about “the good old days” (which we both know weren’t really very good at all most days) it is like talking to someone I just met.

If it is possible to stand side by side with someone and feel like it all happened to other people how can you not fear that the now, the present that you love so much could all just go up in smoke?

To recap: I love right now, today.  And I loved yesterday and I am certain that I will love tomorrow.  And in spite of the Fear that creeps up in me sometimes, I refuse to feel Doubt.  I will smile and hold on and be 100% certain that I will love my life decades from now.

10001246_602805879801095_4743717070025521868_oMQD made a wind chime this weekend. We talked about getting rocking chairs for the front porch and I smiled and teared up. I gave him a pair of rocking chairs when we had not been dating very long at all and said something cheesy about how it would be nice to sit and rock in them together one day a very, very long time from now.  That was years ago and that pair of old rocking chairs never made it to our new house.

Even though I am divorced and even though that first pair of old rocking chairs rotted beyond repair –  I still believe.  It won’t be easy.  And we might have more than a few pairs of rocking chairs in our future because it’s true, nothing lasts forever.  But dammit, I won’t let hating my divorce keep me from loving my marriage.  Because that doesn’t make any damn sense at all.

To second chances, spring time, windchimes and rocking chairs.  To divorce and marriage and Love and tears and starting over.  Cheers!

Edited to add: It’s strange that I am grieving now of all times. It was easier when it hurt all of the time. I understood that. This part, the part when it is ancient history is a whole new kind of hurt. J, it was really good to see you.  It made me happy.  And seeing you happy made me happy.  And then it made me sad.  Ugh.  Miss me?  Ha! -K

I dug a big hole today. It was fun.

I was not a fan of this bush.  It blocks the light. It has big dead leaves all the time.  Recently MQD and I discussed the fact that he isn’t really a fan of this bush, either.

The Offending Bush

I am also not much of a fan of sitting around on my ass.  Unfortunately (for this bush) I woke up this morning not much of a fan of doing laundry or emptying the dishwasher or going to the gym.

So, I started hacking at the bush with a bolt cutter (like you do.) I gave it an all over inspection and made peace with the fact that my ordinarily green self was most definitely going to kill this bush. Sorry, little birds from last spring, but you will not be moving back into that old nest.  I saved that branch with last year’s bird nest for last and captured the Horton Hears a Who-ness of the moment.

20140415-130542.jpg

The hacking at the branches was a good time.  It was satisfying.  Quick actions and immediate results.  And then I started to dig.  And dig.  And dig.  My tiny helper grew weary and began to ask “You can’t do it, Mom? You can’t do it?”

Oh.  I can.  And I will.  But it was not a particularly good time.  20140415-130548.jpg

I dragged the zillion pound root ball to the end of the driveway.  Lucy asked “All done?  Nap time?”

Nope.  I explained that the fun part was over and now we had to clean up.

20140415-130554.jpg

So.  That’s what we did today.

I skipped the gym.  But I got good and sweaty.

Sweaty Mama

I suppose I will go back to the gym tomorrow.  I can’t just keep digging up my yard.  Right?

20140415-130601.jpg