Category Archives: Bad Mood

Dear Emily on your 11th Birthday

emilyjuneDear Emily,

This morning I woke with you in my arms.  “What time is it?” you asked me.  “Time for school, kiddo.”

You rolled over, all arms and legs, and groaned.  Moments later you sat down at the kitchen counter in running shorts and a hoodie.  “Casual day today, huh?” You smiled.

“So.  Being eleven has pretty much sucked so far, huh?”

You laughed and your eyes filled with tears.  I turned away and offered to make you some eggs for breakfast.  I don’t usually cook in the morning but I wanted to be busy and I couldn’t look at you.  I knew if you looked me in the eyes you would try to stay home with me today.  I can’t ever fool you.

“It’s just that everything we do all day will make us miss him even more, Mom.  It will really feel real when I get off the bus.  Even though it’s different now, like he doesn’t run down the driveway anymore, he still comes out…”

You stood and I wrapped you in my arms.  You have grown so tall.  And you have grown into this warm, compassionate, funny girl.  We held onto one another in the kitchen until Lucy barged in and broke up our sobfest.

Yesterday, after Fisher was gone, we were sitting in the living room, you and me and Dad.  I mentioned that I should probably throw out his dog bed before one of us was curled up in it, breathing in his scent and sobbing.  Dad broke the silence as he said “Yeah, Mom is really trying to help me save face here because I was just about to do that…” Your laughter was so perfectly right on time.

emandfish

Not an hour before Fisher was gone you were eating an oatmeal raisin cookie and you broke off a little piece for him  You stopped and pulled your hand back “But the raisin….” and we all laughed.  You have my same horrible sense of humor.  But you have a quiet confidence that didn’t come from me.  I love it.

Em, I am sorry that this birthday will always be the day before Fisher died.  But I will never forget the gracious, loving, incredible young woman you turned into when you were only eleven years and one day old.  I asked you if you wanted to be in the room when Fish was put to sleep and you said that you did.  And then I asked you for a difficult favor.  “Baby, I am going to need to be there for Fish. And just kind of do everything I need to do for me to let him go, if you’re there, too, I am going to need you to just kind of take care of you for a minute and I feel awful even saying that…” You interrupted me to assure me that you knew that already and that you’d be fine.

The veterinary assistant was carrying Fisher to the front door when you sat down in my lap and put your head onto my chest.  “Oh, Mommy….” Together, we wept.

This morning the bus pulled up at the bottom of the driveway and I kissed you quickly and said “Don’t worry about me today.” You smiled back at me.  “Impossible.”

You’re incredible, Emily June.  I love you and your big puppy feet.

Love,

Momemandfish2

Fisher Banks: April 1, 2003 – September 19, 2016

I am almost always the first one out of bed.  There is a light on the kitchen counter and I turn it on and head towards the coffee maker.  Right about then there is usually a thump.  Fisher is jumping out of bed.  He heads into the kitchen and I say “Go back to bed, buddy.  It’s early.”

For years he would head straight to his dog bowl but recently he would sometimes head back to the bedroom.  I would return to the bedroom and help him back into bed.  Sometimes when I left in the morning I would fill his bowl and he would still be snoozing.

This morning I went out into the kitchen and wept.  He was gone.

Last week I took Fisher in for a check up.  The days that he decided not to eat had been outnumbering the days that he was eating.  Lab tests came back and indicated that something wasn’t quite right.  Our vet asked if we wanted to come back in later in the week for x-rays.  I explained that Emily would be turning eleven on Sunday and that I needed the weekend.  We started him on some antibiotics and hoped for the best.

On Saturday I almost called the vet to say that I felt like I had my old dog back.  On Sunday morning I fed him before I left for a run. I came home to discover that he had tricked Mike and the kids into feeding him again.  Old man was up to his old tricks. Emily’s birthday was the kind of day where we were all together and everything was just right. I went to bed Sunday evening with my girls upstairs and Fisher curled up on my feet.  If an ordinary day can be almost perfect than Sunday nearly was.

I struggle with Em’s birthdays.  She is getting older every day it seems and her independence is startling.  When I woke up just after midnight I was teary and struggled to go back to sleep.  I ran up the stairs and peeked in on each of the girls.  I let Fisher outside and sat on the couch to wait for him to come back and scratch at the door.  He was out longer than normal so I opened the door and called for him.  For a moment I thought “If that bastard went outside and died tonight I will never forgive him.”  It was dark and I really didn’t want to be out on my knees in the dirt sobbing.  Just then he came around the corner and he looked so tired.  We came back in and he went straight to the bedroom.  I tried to get him to come back out for some water but he didn’t want any.

I went back to the bedroom and patted his spot on the bed.  For weeks now I have helped him get the back legs up.  He would jump up into bed when nobody was home but if I was home he would whine until I helped him. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”  He curled up on the floor and he wouldn’t look at me.  I went back to bed and tossed and turned.  Eventually I joined him on the floor and listened to him snore, pressing my face against his ears as I have done so many times before.

In the morning I told Mike that I was worried about him.  He didn’t eat.  We joked that he was likely still full from Sunday’s double breakfast.  I admitted that I was possibly just being melodramatic what with Em’s birthday and Lucy sleeping in her own bed.  I was running out of babies to baby and was just focusing all of my attention on my old man.  We sat on the front porch and waited for the school bus.  Lucy and Fisher were slow to come back up the front steps.

In the morning I called the vet to schedule a time to take him back in.  They had an appointment in the late afternoon available.  I hung up and put it on the calendar and the phone rang.  “You can bring him in right now if you’d rather.”

When our vet came back in with the lab results she said that his hematocrit levels had dropped rapidly in the five days since they had seen him.  She said his anemia was likely the cause of his lethargy and that x-rays could give us some answers.  I said “I would rather be worried sick and here than worried sick and at home.  We can stay all day if we need to…”

Lucy and Fish and I just lay on the floor and goofed off.  Lucy is good company when I am worried.  She has a pretty black and white world view.  “We don’t even know what’s wrong yet, Mom!” So no tears from me!

When the vet came back in after his x-rays she said “Lucy do you want come up front and color a picture for a minute while we talk to your Mom?” I knew everything I needed to know right then.  “We just took one picture and that was all we needed to see.”

I am not much of a hugger but as she said “It’s cancer and it’s in his lungs,” I clung to her in the hopes that I would not slide to the floor.  “You don’t have to do anything right now.  But you will need to make some decisions soon.  He is one tough dog…”

I explained that I felt like I was crazy this morning but that I knew.  You read those stories about how people live until their grandchild is born and then they pass in their sleep.  Or a husband passes and days later the wife joins him.  He had given me one more weekend.  I had asked him for one more and he rallied.  But he was holding on just barely and I had to let him go.

Lucy was coloring calmly in the lobby.  “Come on, Lu, we are going to take Fish home.” In silence the three of us got back in the car.  It had been pouring down rain all morning, a perfectly gloomy morning. I had seven hours.  Seven more hours to make sure he knew that I loved him.

Mike came home quickly and picked up Em from school.  She knew right away when she saw him that it was Fisher. “Baby girl, Fish is sick…. we have to say goodbye and let him go…”

We spent the day on the floor in the living room.  Shortly before the vet came to the house we tried to take him for one last walk.  He peed on some mailboxes.  He was trotting along and making me doubt our choices and I was sobbing as I watched him.  And then not a quarter of a mile from our house he just sat down.  He was done.  Mike went back to the house for the car and we sat in the middle of the street and laughed at our stubborn old man.  One more car ride and we were all back assembled in the living room.

Fisher was my constant.  In a life of heartbreak and new houses and divorce and new love and marriage and babies and change he was my one thing that was unwavering.   I have been dreading this day since Emily was only a few months old.  When the vet looked at me yesterday and said “Are you ready?” I lowered my face into his chest and sobbed.

Fish, I brought my babies home to you.   I will take care of the babies… you, go.  I got this….

kelly

The Time My Boobs Scared Me

10400783_23189174818_6016_nIt was almost 25 years ago that I realized that my boobs had tremendous power.  My portrayal of Hippolyta in my high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was nothing if not lackluster but the deep v of my black body suit meant that all I really had to do was stand there.  My boobs had the stage presence of an Amazonian Queen (albeit one with a possibly historically inaccurate complete set of knockers.)

My boobs and I went to college and found employment behind the bar.  My smart mouth and my perky young boobs made pretty stellar money for about a decade.  When my older daughter was born and I retired from tending bar I am betting my boobs thought they’d get a break.  Nope.  I put those boobs to work overtime.  I realized that these magical orbs were not only mama’s moneymakers but they were baby’s favorite, too.  200717_4339414818_6821_n

In breastfeeding I found my maternal confidence.  And when I had questions about how to feed my baby my boobs led me to finding my tribe.  Breastfeeding helped me stumble into attachment parenting and co-sleeping and a million labels that helped me to know that I absolutely knew how to be a mother to my baby.  I learned everything I could so that I could tell other new moms to just trust themselves.  Funny that we all need facts to tell us to trust our guts, such is the first of many things that make no sense about parenting.

As my hell-raising and breastfeeding days were behind me and my life settled into that of a newly single mother my boobs took a little hiatus.  I celebrated them both (both boobs as well as the hell-raising and the baby feeding) with this tattoo!10399078_14608134818_1575_n

When my youngest was born my boobs got back on board and played their part.  I imagine that they heaved a heavy sigh and got ready as they knew this time around that it was likely a long road.  Four years and three months later… Lucy has started sleeping through the night. Sometimes she even falls asleep without me.  And without “boobie.”  I can see the end of the road and it is bittersweet.  Nursing babies has been part of my life for nine of my almost eleven years as a mother. It has led me to yet another tribe of women.  Volunteering with Best for Babes has been a meaningful part of my life for several years.12985375_10154095684209819_2276035083554733050_n

As my 40th birthday approached I decided to go ahead and get a mammogram. I did my hair for the occasion.  Like you do.  No big deal, right?  mammoWhen the technician apologized for any discomfort I laughed and explained that my boobs barely belonged to me anymore. These “long boobs” can reach a kid in a car seat in the backseat while I am driving! I kid, I kid.  Sort of.   Think a few glass plates are going to bother me?  Pfft.

“Now most women will receive a call back since this is your baseline mammogram.  Don’t worry if we call you back in.”

Ok.

So then they called.  And I worried.  And worried some more. Because everything is so…. ok. This last decade has been a bumpy ride, y’all.  But I am looking down the barrel of 40 and thinking that this is going to be my decade!  I was ready to coast into 40 with my smile bright, a husband that is crazy about me (most of the time,) two healthy kids, a ridiculous addiction to triathlon that keeps me healthy, my boobs in retirement and sleeping through the night!  Life was looking good.

“Well, I don’t really like what I am seeing on these images so we are going to need to do an ultrasound.”

And my stomach dropped.  I had that moment when your life is a Lifetime movie and suddenly you are Valerie Bertinelli and you are wearing so much mascara and you’re crying and there is shitty music playing and you know that absolutely nothing good is going to come of you wearing this unusually soft cape dress that opens in the front.sad

And so the ultrasound technician does that thing where they bite the inside of their mouth and go back and forth over the same place again and again and I tried to make jokes and she just kept taking pictures and typing illegible things on a screen I could not quite read.  “Now you just relax here and I will take these down to Radiology and be back in a few.”

“Sure,” I said, “I will just kick back and play on my phone and contemplate my imminent death. None of us get our of here alive anyway, right?”  I laughed.  And she closed the door and I let myself cry.

Five minutes later the radiologist came in (that can’t be a good sign, right?) and says “Everything is fine.  But I am going to show you what I am looking at so you don’t have to take my word for it.” She adjusted her dials and smiled at me with her warm face and said “When I was your age and my kids were small we didn’t have all of these fancy machines so we just had to wait and worry.  Since you’re still nursing I am guessing that what we saw before was maybe a milk duct that was full?”

And I started to laugh and cry and wipe snot on my arm since I had no sleeves.  Breastfeeding for longer than  a year can actually lower your risk of cancer.  But evidently it can increase your chances of being certain that you most definitely have it for the five minutes it takes for a radiologist to look at your pictures.

At the end of it all… Everything’s ok.  I will go back in six months when my milk ducts are dried up and my last baby has hopefully weaned and I will get another round of pictures.  And I will surely get called back in because we still don’t have a baseline of images to look at, really.

The other day in swim practice we got to dive off the block and do 25 yard sprints.  I have not dived off a swim block since I was 10 years old and I was petrified.  I told my coach “When something scares the snot out of me and my first instinct is to say No Way – that’s when I know I have to do it.” That has been my Life Plan these last few years.  So far, so good. I considered putting off my baseline mammogram because I wasn’t sure I was in a headspace that could stomach the potential worry.  But I was scared.  So I went all in.

In the last month I have had one of those roller coaster rides of the mind when you imagine that thing, the thing you fear the most.  And I am not saying that I fear breast cancer more than anything else, not at all.  In fact, in the five minutes I waited for the doctor this morning I let my mind go all the way there.  I would fight hard and I would be ok.  And I would get some brand new boobs as a present when it was all said and done and twenty-five years from now I would write another blog post about the twenty-five years I had spent embracing these new boobs.  Because I am in my heart of hearts an optimist.  I am a Lemonade maker.

The thing I fear the most is feeling Stupid.  I have been making lemonade from lemons for much of my adult life.  But in the last couple of years things have started to slow down and I have relaxed into a groove that feels so incredibly … ok.  And deep down I am scared that Life will start handing out something even worse than lemons… Sucker Punches? And I will feel stupid for relaxing and believing that maybe, just maybe, it was all going to turn out alright.

But for today…. I am relieved.  And I am grateful.  And I am bawling and sweaty in a co-op grocery store in a town that I adore while my kids are in schools that I am pleased with and my husband is at a job that he mostly likes after a run that I cut short because I kept crying.  And I am ok.  sweat

I hope you’re ok, too.  And I hope you do things that scare you.  Big ones and small ones.  Because this life is made up of choices, millions of choices. The moments that I have chosen to be brave I have never regretted.  

 

 

 

 

Dearly Beloved….

In the spring of 1997 I thought it would be a super idea to fill every single square in the entertainment center with an aquarium.  Much like the day that I decided to paint my entire living room including the molding and the windows dark green this decision went from thought to execution in about 45 minutes.  I was a lady of ACTION.  I made DECISIONS.  Not always good ones but my enthusiasm made up for my brilliance on occasion.

Operation Fill All of the Squares with Pets worked out pretty well.  At that time in my life my living room was headquarters to a half a dozen ne’er-do-wells and we would while away the wee hours of the morning watching surf videos.  I had a mouse.  And an angel fish.  And a big tree frog.  And a couple of tetras. And a teeny pair of frogs named Jack and Jill.  It is possible that there were a few other little creatures that didn’t hang around long but that was my gang over at 1362B Mt Vernon for a good long while.

And then on one spectacularly sad night we realized that Jack and Jill had passed away. So my roommate and I did the only thing that made any sense at all.  He put on the tightest black pants he owned and I teased my hair and pinned a black slip to my head like a veil and we grabbed a radio and we had a funeral.

We walked into the kitchen where we both worked with these two tiny frogs in a ziploc bag and we blared Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Like you do.

“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here 2 tell u
There’s something else
The afterworld…..”

The glares from everyone in the kitchen made it clear that maybe it was not the best time to “go crazy” so we scooted on out of there and headed to “the Leafe” for a wake.  The Green Leafe was my Cheers.  It was my spot.  I turned 21 there after a few good years of partying.  It used to be that if you were in the restaurant business silly things like IDs and “being of age” didn’t seem to matter so much.

This last week I found out that my beloved college bar had closed its doors.  With my 40th birthday looming ahead I took a moment to look back. I spent some of my finest moments in college at the Leafe. I loved and laughed and cried and drank and smoked (good God, remember when you could chain smoke inside?  How crazy was that?) and then I guess somewhere along the way it had been almost ten years since I had been there.  How did that happen exactly? I guess I am getting older, huh?

‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own”

But I haven’t been on my own and things are pretty a-ok and growing up hasn’t been awful.  Not awful at all, actually.

“And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy, punch a higher floor!

If you don’t like the world you’re living in
Take a look around you
At least you got friends”

I was going to sit down this afternoon and write a funny little something about how my mammogram was a breeze, y’all…. But I opened my laptop and all of a sudden…. Prince.  Everywhere.  Prince.

A lifetime ago “Let’s Go Crazy” was a funeral song for a pair of teeny, tiny fish and today I see it spreading across social media to mourn and celebrate the death of the one and only Prince.

I learned to roller skate backwards to “Darling Nikki.” I was trying so hard not to fall down I guess I never really thought too much about that funky time. Well, not until Tipper Gore told me it was filthy and then you can bet your ass I paid attention.

I imagined my life as a glamorous adult as I sang “Little Red Corvette” in my room in 1983.  I was seven years old and that album, 1999…. it blew my mind. Years later I would (along with the rest of the world) listen to “1999” during what was my absolute most terrible New Year’s Eve.  Ever.

His songs… I could tell you what I think about as I listen to each and every single of his tunes.  But I don’t want to.  I want you to go and listen.  Remember where you were.  Share them with your kids.  Because Prince represents some fabulously synthesized moments of all of our pasts, sure… but he can also play the shit out of the guitar, y’all.

Prince.  You were so, so cool.

prince003

Roll With It

On the back of his chef coat was a design – black octagons in a line down the center of his spine.  He was laughing and smiling and everyone around him was smiling, too.  The first time I saw the design on his coat I had no idea what it was but I was still pretty green.  It was my first bartending gig and I was barely 21 years old.

By the time I saw the octagons on the back of his jacket a second time I had already gotten a few of my own on the knee of the jeans that I wore to work.  Dura_Chef_7_8_Action_Shot_2_LargeKneel down on a kitchen mat to get something off of a shelf and you, too, will have a greasy octagon on your pants.   That explained what they were.  But it didn’t tell me how they got there. Who in the hell would lie down on the floor in a kitchen?

I was working in a restaurant with an open kitchen.  From behind the bar I could see the boys in the kitchen and I would admire their fast hands and their furrowed brows as they made delicious magic happen on dinner plates.

I would look into the kitchen window often for a whole bunch of different reasons.  It was wise to take a peek into the window before you sent in a Sunday brunch ticket with a bazillion “Hold Food” special orders.  You were a fool to not check and see if the boys were busy before you ordered your favorite sandwich for your employee lunch (turkey club with boursin mayonnaise.) Eventually I would marry one of those boys on the line so I suppose I was frequently just trying to sneak a peek at that guy I had just met.

On a busy night in the middle of a dinner rush if you watched carefully you would see one of the most extraordinary things I have ever witnessed in a kitchen.  (Now you know if you have worked in the restaurant business that kitchens are like another planet and a lot of insane things go down back there.) But there is only one boy I have ever seen do a somersault on the line.  Perhaps more astounding than the somersault was that nobody ever looked irritated by this ridiculous display of bravery (stupidity?) in the midst of hot pans and high tempers.  And knives.

Nobody could roll with it like Skillet.  “My name is Skillet and I rooooolllll with it.” He would pop up from the floor with a fresh line of octagons down his chef coat and that smirk would spread across his face and no matter how slammed you were and no matter how much you hated every single person in your station or how outrageously hungover you were all of a sudden you were smiling.  And you were rolling with it, too.

In the last fifteen years I have seen Skillet less than a handful of times.  Some of those times were a little hazy and some of them were a lot hazy (I am looking at you, Urbanna Oyster Festival.) But each and every time I was laughing.

I might not have seen Skillet in ages… but I think of him when I take a deep breath and smile.  Sometimes the choice to remain calm and smiling in the midst of chaos is all it takes to make the people around you  just chill the fuck out.   So very many times I have thought to myself “My name is Skillet and I rooollll with it.”

There are times in your life when you must fight.  You must not back down and you must be willing to give every last shred of your being to a cause.  But sometimes, lots of times, you need to take a deep breath and roll with it.  Because it’s really not that bad.  And everyone around you is just way too serious.  And it will be over before you know it and you need to put a smile on your face and roll on.

Today I learned that that boy who so many of my old friends will remember is no longer with us.  To be honest, it hit me a little harder than I was expecting.  A lot harder.  But I am going to put a crooked smile on my face and roll with it, Skillet.

My deepest condolences to the Atwood family.

Crash & Burn

Heeeey.  It’s been a hot minute, huh? So much has happened.  My sweet, funny big girl turned TEN.  Lucy started preschool. MQD started a new job.   I ran a marathon.  I finally bought light fixtures for the kitchen.

And so much has stayed so very much the same.  I am still nursing and co-sleeping with Lucy.  I am falling in love with my adorable husband more every day.  I am still a mostly stay at home mom and grateful for it almost all of the time.  I am still treading water in a strange place where I am proud of my physical accomplishments and hating the body that makes them happen.

But the big Sameness… the Thing that I thought was gone and has come back and hit me in the face like a long-forgotten boomerang… Depression.  I thought for a while I was “better.”  Or maybe I thought it was seasonal. Or maybe I thought it was just Post Race Blues.  But it was still warm outside when it hit me this time.  The kids were just starting school.  MQD had just started a new job.  Life was rich and exciting and joyous and I was… numb.  Again.  And when I saw it coming like a wave and I knew that there was no chance in hell that I would be able to jump over it – well, I did the only thing I knew to do –   I held my nose and went under.  Marathon training was a nice little band-aid.  A mid-November marathon meant I had miles to run, things to do, very little time to mope.

But still the late summer wasn’t good to me.  I spoke up.  I reached out. I said it out loud. “I struggle with Depression and sometimes it drags me under.”  But I never wrote it here.  Why?  There’s no shame in my game, that’s for sure.  I just didn’t have the oomph to get it all down and play catch up.  By the time I started to feel decent enough to sit and write it seemed like “old news.”  And then I started to feel better again, normal even.  So, I was busy living.

What’s the point of all of this?  Here?  I don’t know.  I miss writing.  I miss getting it all down, the moments that slip away unless we share them.  Our minds are in a constant state of sloughing off the old memories and replacing them with new and I am afraid that if I stop writing them down that they will disappear.  But I fear even more this weird space where what I have shared here is not representative of the Time that has passed.

Because here’s the thing – Depression is terribly boring.  Mind-numbingly dull, really.  Imagine the entry I would write.  “So.  Today sucked.  Why? Mostly because of Nothing.  Everything is Fine, really, but today was super bad.  But it doesn’t matter.  Nobody is probably reading this anyway because I am so terrible and everyone hates me.”  A few of those in a row and then a Good Day just to mix things up.  “Woke up today and felt awesome.  Cleaned the entire house, mowed the grass, ran 871 miles, hugged my people and had a great dinner!  Everything is Awesome!  I did All The Things!!”

I despise this week.  The week after Thanksgiving is the worst.  Christmas season is closing in and I just want to climb into bed and stay there.  I love the holidays, I do.  But they exhaust me.  I want them to be “Perfect.”  Perfect holidays?  Ha! Are this week’s Blues a product of being overwhelmed by a To-Do list a mile long or is this the boomerang of Depression that never really leaves me but just takes temporary leave? The truth is, I am not sure.

I am tremendously sad that the marathon is behind me. It gave me a focus.  A wise friend once shouted to some runners “You can’t run from your problems!” but I beg to differ.  When your problems are just chemicals in your brain you can certainly do a decent job of waging war against them with some exercise endorphins.  A new training plan and a fitness goal for 2016 will help to keep the Sad at bay, I am sure.

I reached out to another wise friend (I am surrounded by smart, good people, another reason why being Depressed is so Stupid!) just to mention that it was an uphill battle to stay out of bed this week.  I pointed out that being a stay at home mother and a Depressive is like trying to get sober in a bar.  When all I want out of a day is to get dressed and stay out of my bed – the stay at home part of this gig is tough.  But I am going to keep on keeping on.

I miss you guys.  The last six months have been terrible and wonderful all at once.  There has been so much more wonderful than terrible and for that I am grateful.  I am going to try to write again soon. I think that my heart needs it.  But for today I just wanted to say hello.  And I wanted to remind you that if you suffer from Depression or know someone who does – the holidays are hard.  Reach out.  Get help.  You’re worth it.  And you’re not alone. 11219421_10153755947064819_9141546464765793859_n

 

Free Crazy

Have you ever been so sweaty and crying so hard that you were not entirely sure if it was sweat or tears that was all over your neck and getting on your sunburn and stinging? No.  Well, isn’t that too bad.

bike

I had a shit day today.  For the first time in forever and ever a good sweat and a workout didn’t seem to cure what ails me.  I spent two and a half hours on the bike trainer today (a special kind of hell that I actually quite like) because I am too disorganized to make a plan for a group ride and too skeered to ride on the road alone.  I think I spent two hours and twenty nine of those minutes imagining every single thing that could go wrong during the bike portion of my upcoming 70.3.  It wasn’t pretty.

And it was hot.  And riding a bike in your backyard and not moving means you are a buffet for the skeeters.  So when I set out to run I was beyond cranky.

About a mile in I thought “Fuck it.  I will just go back home.”  When you are considering turning around and bailing and you only have to run three miles – it is a bad, bad day.  Bad.  So, I started to cry. Naturally.  I kept running.  And crying.  And feeling stupid and slow and defeated and tired.

And then I saw a piece of trash on the side of the road.  It was a Little Caeasar’s advertisement for Crazy Bread.  It was folded in half.  All I could see were big block letters advertising “FREE CRAZY.”

I was running and sweating and crying and thinking about maybe peeing in my trisuit just to see if I hated the sensation and I saw a sign that said “FREE CRAZY,” guys.  Umm.  Nope.  No, thanks.  I have plenty of my own crazy.

So, I did the only thing I know how to do when I think I might totally lose my shit on a run.  I started singing along with the crappy music I run to… “Oh, don’t you dare look back. Just keep your eyes on me. I said, “You’re holding back!” She said, “Shut up and dance with me!” This woman is my destiny!!!!”

It must be time to take a few days off, dude.  I actually cried and serenaded myself today during a workout. This might have stopped being good for me, huh? Took a peek at the calendar and whaddayaknow? Taper starts this week.  Right on time.

 

On the up and up…

The upside of being down is… well, it’s the upside.  You start coming back up one step at a time and before you know it you are back on top.  I beat back the blues (again) simply by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again as fast as I can.

I did not get to use my favorite treadmill today. And I brought the water bottle that leaks.  I turned on my music and I didn’t hit the playlist I had intended.  Instead, quite accidentally,  I started a single song.  On repeat.  Somewhere around the third time the song played I realized that I had it on repeat.  Somewhere on number five or six I had run just far enough to realize that I would definitely hit my goal for the year – one thousand miles.

This morning listening to the Cowboy Junkies’ cover of Vic Chesnutt’s  “Flirted with You All My Life” I ran.  I ran and ran and I cried (yep, on the treadmill like a lunatic) and I realized that I am not ready to quit.  (It’s not the first time that Vic Chesnutt made me realize that I am not ready to give up.) Chesnutt’s tune is about death and suicide but to me it has always been an allegory about letting go and moving on. Death is the absence of change, the absence of moving on and transforming.    And I am not ready to give up on Change.

I am so desperately afraid of that which is Unknown.  But sometimes to accomplish anything at all you have to change.  I am even more afraid of Hope.  But I am certain that in order to Change you have to Dream, you have to Hope.

When I decided that my bizarrely cathartic weeping and sprinting act really needed to stop I hit next on my phone.

And I had to smile.  The Universe was having a time at my expense today.  Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah serenaded me as I crossed my thousand mile marker.

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I updated my Facebook status from the gym today (like you do) – “I try not to be a runner that is all “holy shit, y’all, RUN. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” But if you don’t do something every day that makes you feel like every song you hear is the best. song. ever. and that you are at peace with everything and you totally understand your life – well then, find it. Because it will save you some heartache. Really.”

I can’t seem to find better words than those above. I don’t care what you do.  Yoga.  Meditate.  Paint.  Organize your linen closet. Skateboard. Do it. And love it.  And listen to music and figure out your whole entire life.  I promise you that the Truths that you realize in that hour a day will vanish.  It is similar to the way that dreams tend to evaporate in the time it takes you to roll over and say “damn, I just had the most fucked up dream.”  But for that hour everything makes sense and music sounds so good and your Life feels like no matter what it will all be okay….

I wanted to tell you what I figured out this afternoon.  I wanted to wow you with my simple understanding of Life and Death and Fear and Change and Hope.  But it’s gone.  Up in smoke.  Rather it is up in the grocery store and laundry and math homework and nap time.  But I will find it again tomorrow.

I want that for you. I didn’t run one thousand miles today.  I ran them over the last 343 days.  I have twenty two days to figure out what I will do with the next 365.

If you’re not sure what you are doing with the next year of your life go hide in the bathroom and listen to these two tunes back to back.  You still probably won’t know but they are damn good tunes.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you to all of you that have reached out over the last few days to say “Hey, I am sorry that you’re blue.”  It’s imperative that I write it down when I am hurting.  I need to.  It makes it start to go away.  But sometimes I forget to make the time to write it down when things are on the up and up.  I am back on an even keel, guys.  xxoo

Bikini Body?

Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea.  But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.

It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate.  Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort.  I even tried to tan those mofos.  If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece.  (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)

Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s.  I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.  Bend over.  Sit down.  Eh.  It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok.  But the color?

Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size.  I just don’t know about brown.

I called to Emily.  “Come here.  What do you think?”

She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip.   “Hmmm.  That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.

“The truth,” I answer.

“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath.  “Do you like it?”

I love her. I do.  I should have been more clear, I suppose.  “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.

Back tattoo teapot

If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold.  My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press.  But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time.  The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely.  Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy.  Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me –  “Do I like it?” Maybe.  Someday.

The Power of the Mind

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I believe in the power of a strong mind. Couple a strong mind with tremendous focus and anything is possible.

I put the power of my mom mind to a test this past weekend.

I waited this long to write about it because I was afraid of jinxing myself.

Guys, I willed away a stomach bug. I did.  My sweet eight year old daughter came to me with tears in her eyes and said “I threw up.”  I pretended I did not hear her.  She repeated herself.  “Mom, I threw up.  Like nine times.”

I translated this from melodramatic kid speak to normal english in my mind.  Maybe she just vurped.  Maybe twice.  (Vomit burps, tell me I didn’t really need to explain that.  Vurps, you guys know what those are, right?)

She ran past me into the bathroom.  Her little self was hunched over the toilet.

That wasn’t a vurp.

She stood up and turned to look at me, tears in her eyes again.  I mustered every bit of strength I had and I looked deep in to her big, blue eyes.  I looked past the sweet face of the child I adore.  I’m not sure where stomach bugs reside (in the soul? In the gut?) but I looked there and I said “You can not be sick right now.  Do you understand me?  You can not be sick.  Right now we have lice.”

I was knee deep in laundry when she informed she had thrown up. I had spent more than two hours “nit picking” with the magical metal comb and having my own head picked.  I would spend the next 34 hours doing laundry.

I wasn’t fucking kidding.

There would be no stomach bug.

I was waging a war against lice.  I didn’t have the manpower to take on a stomach bug. And to be quite honest, there was no way I was spreading towels on beds right now.  We had an all out ban on fabric in our home at the moment.  You get one towel, one pillow and one blanket.  It goes in the downstairs bathroom in the morning and you put all of your dirty clothes directly in the washing machine.  I had no space in my washing machine or my head for puke towels.

And it worked.  It worked.  I was rewarded for this feat of strength with a blizzard and a headcold but I still feel like a winner.  At some point this week in between the Lice Laundry and the Snowpocalypse I gave my dryer a little break.  I have slugged enough NyQuil to need a trip to rehab but I still feel like I am coming out on top. Because my head doesn’t itch.  And nobody has thrown up.

Mind over matter, people.  You can do anything.  Anything.

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When I am not doing laundry I like to let my kids out of the car and then lock the doors. They fake cried until I broke down and got out of the car. But for a few blissful moments I was all alone.