January ’10 was…

January 2010 was all wrong. I put many other activities ahead of reading. Knitting- mom’s blanket was falling apart so I took some time to fix that (as well as add new trim). I also started a new blanket of blue and white. Haven’t figured out why I’m making this one at all. I think it will go to the island because we certainly don’t need another blanket! Working out – been walking & running on the treadmill withe some regularity, as well as weight training and a little yoga. Cooking – been getting back to making real meals which need more time…Bad television – I’ve become addicted to the addict shows: Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Hoarders, and Intervention. I seem to identify with the misfits a little too well.

So, having said all that – reading wasn’t my highest priority. Behold the (ahem*) ‘finished’ list:

  • High Five by Janet Evanovitch ~ in honor of female mystery month (whatever that means).
  • The Semi-Attached Couple by Emily Eden (*) ~ in honor of the book lust of others (again, whatever that means).
  • The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything by K.C. Cole (*) ~ in honor of January being the “start-over/clean slate” month.
  • Echo House by Ward Just ~ in honor of Ward Just’s birth month.
  • In Search of Robinson Crusoe by Timothy Severin (*) ~ in honor of National Geographic month.
  • Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin ~ in honor of Mr. Franklin’s birth month.
  • Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Goethe ~ in honor of letter writing month.
  • The Little Friend by Donna Tartt ~ a behemoth of a book with an unsatisfying end.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program I finished Nothing Right, a collection of short stories by Antonya Nelson. If you are looking for quick snapshots of dysfunctional family life, this is the book for you!

* Sad to say, I didn’t get into these books enough to finish them. I did my 50 page rule and called it quits.


For a Reason

It’s like a mantra. Things happen for a reason. Things happen for a reason. Things happen for a reason. I know this to be true. We didn’t succeed with the first few houses because they were not ours to have. Something bigger and better lay at the end of Ivy. The timing was all wrong in November. February couldn’t be more perfect. Things happen for a reason.

When my friend decided not to walk the twenty miles for Project Bread. I was not surprised, yet disappointed all the same. It took me a day to think things through. Would I walk without? Would I want to? It took me a week to bail myself out. Things happen for a reason. In reality, walking for hunger is a good cause for someone else. I am wedded to the crusade against cancer and domestic abuse. Been there, done that. Keep doing this. I decided to walk away from the Project Bread walk and find my Just Cause. 60 miles in three days. For breast cancer. This I can do. This I don’t mind doing on my own. I walk for Nor. I walk for me. This is the walk I am meant to walk.

When my friend of 35 years had a heart attack I had mixed emotions. A long history of ups and downs, goods and bads clouded my real emotion – fear. You don’t want people your own age to die. It’s not your time so it shouldn’t be theirs. Butbutbut, things happen for a reason. For the past three months I have wallowed in self indulgences. Since Thanksgiving I have been giving into temptations of every persuasion. Fat and lazy, I have become. When someone told me I looked beautiful I knew it was a lie. A sweet lie, but a lie none the less. I’m heavy. My heart failing friend woke selfish me, myself & moi up. Things happen for a reason. As soon as this house thing happens I am running back to healthy. I swear.

When a good, good friend brought up a painful memory it was hard to face it. Hard to take ownership of it and say yes, I really did do that. It’s unimaginable now, but yes, I really, really did that. Blame game. Pointing you out for no reason other than to strike out. Things happen for a reason. I’m glad you brought up the past and that awful time. I’m still struggling with what happened and more importantly, why butbutbut I’m done burying that past. I can dig it up and say I take responsibility for being so awful to you. I take all the blame for the blame game. It wasn’t you. Never was you. Sorry I said it was you. I’m seeing things better now that I’m so removed.


Just ‘Cause

I think I found my next charity event. In memory of Noreen.


Accidental Walk Two

I didn’t mean to walk today. Wow. That sounded weird. Weird and incredibly. What I meant to say was I wasn’t supposed to put in a training walk for Project Bread today. I have a partner for this endeavor and I would prefer to put in the walks with her. But, here’s the deal. I have had a sore throat to the point of pain for almost a week. Someone with a lot of medical credentials at the end of her name asked me if I thought not being able to swallow for a week was normal. Okay, she had a point. I had been living on a “hot” diet for a week – anything cold killed my throat. I wanted nothing more than another week in bed.

Instead I found myself on the treadmill. Trying to read and walk at the same time. I wanted to walk two miles just to say I did. Laundry spinning behind me. Snow falling outside. Kisa on his way home. Me, trying to read The Biggest Elvis, book bouncing up and down. Just to say I did. I ended up walking to a program called “Rolling Hills.” Alternating speed, alternating incline. It was funny, trying to balance the book while all this was going on. In the end it was 35 minutes, 1.6 miles…and no sore throat. Whle I didn’t make two miles I’m psyched. I think I could get used to this walking thing.


Project Hunger Walk One

Project Hunger Walk One – No Laughing Matter.

Gone are the days I can hitch a ride without feeling selfstupid. I hate inconveniencing anyone. I hate relying on anyone. Carpooling with kisa is completely different. We both end up in the same place each night. When it’s all said and done he’s always going my way anyway.
This night was different. She needed me to get her to the gym and I needed her to drive me there. Worked out perfectly that we could work out together. Truth be told, I’m more out of practice than out of shape when it comes to being in a gym. Signing in, finding an empty locker, scanning the cardio equipment for something not in use and a little less than out of order and never mind finding two together.
She got the treadmill in front of me and I ignored the people to the right and left. Or tried to. What is it about treadmills so close together? Like bald tires on black ice my eyes kept sliding over to the chick chugging along beside me. She wasn’t running…yet. But, she was cruising. To avoid further jealousies I busied myself with starting my workout. At first glance I couldn’t figure out my machine. It’s like reading a book in French for hours and then trying to read German. Everything looks nothing short of hieroglyphics. My treadmill at home is completely different than the machine I was now trying to decipher. Sensing complete ridiculousness I pressed “quick on” and started moving.
Speaking of silly, it felt completely stupid not to run. It took everything I had not to crank up the speed to at least a casual jog, an offhand trot. Walking seemed…well…slow. So slow! Out of boredom I pretended I was walking in my grandparents’ day. Ten miles. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways. Then, slowly, I started to feel shinsplints. My ankles started to ache. I wasn’t making fun of not running anymore. This was actually going to take some work. Suddenly this walking thing was no laughing matter.

So, seriously: 2.2 miles/35 minutes. So it begins.


January is…

January is..a little sass

January is..a little sass

What is it about a new year that inspires so much ambition? Where does that fresh start attitude really come from? January is so many things to so many different people. For me it is simply all about the books:

  • Death Comes to An Archbishop by Willa Cather in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January
  • Biggest Elvis by P.F. Kluge in honor of the King’s birthday and P.F. Kluge having a January birthday as well.
  • Book of Puka-puka by Robert Dean Frisbie in honor of National Geographic month
  • Devices and Desires by P.D. James in honor of January being mystery month
  • Red Death by Walter Mosely in honor of Walter’s birthday being in January
  • Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman in honor of Barbara’s birthday being in January

I haven’t decided on any “if there is time” books because I don’t think I’ll get through what I have chosen (Guns of August is over 500 pages long). Also, I don’t know if I was chosen for a LibraryThing Early Review book for January. I guess we’ll find out by the time I write “January Was…”

For Christmas I received only one book, Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David. A gift from my sister, I plan to read it over the next two to three months. It’s not all that long (185 pages) but I want to take my time with it.

For other resolutions it is running just a little more, maybe drinking coffee a little less. It’s eating a little more healthy, maybe seducing the vending machine a little less. It is writing there more often, maybe blogging here a little less. It is giving up crutches and leaning more on the ones who matter most. Like I said, it is so many different things. I want to thank Sarah and Gnash for their inspiration. Both have amazing ambitions and they have no idea how much I will be cheering them on throughout 2009.


October Is…

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October is Halloween! For anyone who knows me, Halloween starts on October 1st and runs for 31 days. This is the way it should be. I have a whole big box of Halloween stuff and every October 1st out it comes. Okay, so this year it was a little early. I bought a tiny skull completely off timeline, too! The skeltons, black cats, bats, witches, goblins, and of course, my fave – jack-o-laterns!
October is also another chance to slip away to Monhegan for a handful of days. Home Sweet Autumn Home. For music it’s Sean, of course. There are other trips, I’m sure. Just ask Joe.

For reading, here’s how it stacks up. For the Book Lust Challenge:

  • Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler ~ in honor of Anne’s birth month
  • Artimis Fowl by Eoin Colfer ~ in honor of National Fantasy Month
  • Big If by Mark Costello ~ October is the best time to visit New England
  • Carry On Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse ~ in honor of Wodehouse’s birth month
  • Crime Novels: American Noir of the 30’s and 40’s by Horace ~ in honor of Crime Novel month

That’s about it. Pumpkin Fest later. Big charity walk for breast cancer on the 26th. Natalie’s birthday…


Forgive Me

Days End

I have been hiding behind book reviews and poetry for days on end. Two poems for every one book. Reading like a fiend seems to suit me. Sorry.
I’ve started to tell you about the weirdest things ~ Kisa murdering the ladybugs in the bathroom, the end of N&ZY, my heartbreak over a breakup, the amazing work I’ve done with MSR, the crap I’ve been handed at AIC, how homesick I am, how little I’ve run, the need to hear my music again (go where we haven’t I don’t dare), Natalie, Germany, Sin City, Taka Tak, being stood up, being letdown, sex in my city, Comic Book Tattoo, Darfur, Boston Celtics, wine, angry black man, gun to my heart, arthritis and friends too far away.

I’ve started to tell you about all these things. Yet, I can’t. Instead I tell you about what I’ve read and read and read.
Forgive me.


Thanks 2 U

musicIt’s the day before my first BackInTheSaddle race. A little 5k-er…in the snow (at least that’s what the forecast was predicting). I’m a little nervous. It’s o n l y 5k, but still…This marks the beginning of my road back to the run. Mentally, it’s a big, huge, colossal deal for me. Mentally, it’s all that I have. Having said all that, I think conditions are perfect. The race is in the same park where I trained for the half. I know it intimately. I love it well. Friends have gotten married there. I’ve seen Natalie perform there. I have so much history there…it’s also the same place where I first felt my knee give out. It’s where I fell to the ground. I know the exact piece of pavement I crumpled on. Half of me prays we avoid that spot altogether, but other other half wants to run over that exact spot with a fukc you vengeance, stomp on that spot…and keep going.

I asked people for input on favorite songs. I made it obvious that I want to make each list into a special mix just for that person, but what I didn’t make clear is that I want to take certain songs from each list and create my very first race mix. Two people emailed me privately with their choices, someone else sent me a text message…and my husband thought the task too daunting to just rattle off 10 songs. As he says, “I really need to think about that.” So, his choices will come later…much later – something for the next run.
So, here’s the 3/15/08 Bill’s Challenge 5k Run Playlist:

  1. We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel (Manda)
  2. Higher Ground – Stevie Wonder (Ruth)
  3. We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister (Sarah)
  4. The Scientist – Coldplay (Heather)
  5. Paint it Black – Rolling Stones (Greg)
  6. Hotel California – Eagles (Rebecca)
  7. These Are Days – 10,000 Maniacs (ME 🙂 )music

My third motive for asking for music was to discover new music. I have some really, really creative people in my life and I am always looking for new stuff to listen to. I love the process of discovery, especially when the education comes from my friends. So, thank you, thank you, thank you for chiming in!


Lining It Up

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(Now & Zen Yoga: photo by Chris Szarek)

Back when I was training for the LLS Alton Bay half I was striving for The Trinity: a good running plan, a good eating plan and a good yoga plan. I’m one of those nutty people that earnestly believes that all these things go together. Especially yoga and running – I’m convinced they go hand in hand. Think about it. Let’s take the run first. Some people say a good run is mind-clearing. Others say it’s a good chance to relax. Okay – so the “relax” factor might be stretching it in terms of physical, but think about it from the mental for just a sec. I don’t know about you, but when I run, there is a cadence to my breathing – one deep count in, two long counts out. Slow & steady with the mantra “must beat cancer” right behind it. There is a rhythm to my running that parallels my practice in yoga.

Now let’s move onto a good yoga session and how it relates to a good run. Tight hamstrings, tight hips, tight anything is bad, bad, bad for running so… what better way to stretch it all out than with a session of yoga? Go on any running site (take Runner’s World, for example). I bet there is an article or two (at the very least) about good stretching. The Y word might even be thrown around a little. I know for a fact Runner’s World has a video of three yoga moves designed to free the hips, loosen the quads and stretch the calves.

My point of all this preaching is not to get runners to become yogis or vise versa. My point is all about me, myself and moi, actually. I wanted to outwardly vent about lining it up – the yoga, the running & the eating well. Only now I’ve added a fourth component so I’ll have to rename the Trinity as the Fantastic Four: running, yoga, eating well and…Hello Mr. Bowflex – strength training!


Bill, My First (not)

CancerI sent in my registration today. It’s in the mail which means there is no turning back now…unless I want to commit a federal offense. I’m committed alright! Committed to the run. Bill, your challenge will be my first even though it’s your third. No. That’s not entirely true. I’ve run one other 5K in my life. Just as I’ve only run one other race besides that. So, come to think of it, your third annual challenge is technically my third race ever. Go figure.
March 15th. Mark my calendar in red. I signed up. I paid to play.
Here’s the deal: Look Park – twice. 8am. Bill’s Challenge III is sponsored by Cancer Connection. Bill was CC’s first client. He was so involved in Cancer Connection that after his death the 5K challenge was created in his honor. Somehow I missed the 2006 & 2007 challenges but thanks to my father-in-law, hello challenge 2008, here I come.

Here’s my deal. I am not running for personal time. I could care less about beating anyone else (least of all myself). I run to fight cancer, honor someone special, raise awareness for issues like domestic abuse, bring places like Darfur into focus…I could go on. I run to help. Always have, always will. If I’m not moving my feet for something good, it’s not worth doing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, show me the cause and I’ll find the fight.


I Found Fire

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I can’t stop thinking about this. I can’t stop the burning because truthfully, I found the fire. Here’s what I needed to do – all I really needed to do: simply talk to someone who runs like me – not perfectly, not professionally, not obsessively. Someone who understands stumbling onto the powerline of running and the electric desire to stay strong. It’s a balancing act to stay on that live wire. Believe you me. What dawned on me was that I had no one to talk to about MY run, MY pain, MY failures. I would try, but deep in my heart I knew the well-meaning ears would only half hear me and the well-meaning hearts would only half understand me. Bottom line – no one got my run. I was another puppet – talktalktalk – and I was probably boring as all hell. No one got me. I mean reeallly got me.
That changed when I got back from Florida. I’m not sure which words struck the match, but I have found the fire. Since getting back I have run five times. Each time no more that 31 minutes. 2.4 miles, 2.45 miles, 2.5 miles, 2.55 miles, & 2.75 miles. Every other day the treadmill calls my name and I answer. I’m running to stupid sh!t like “Cotton Alley” and “2am” but, but. But! I hope that will change when I actually break down and buy myself an ipod. I’ll make running playlists for 2.5 miles, 3 miles, 5 miles…(lawd, I’m a geek). I’m so obsessed about the song that in fact, I now listen to music with an ear on the run. Can I move my feet to this? Is this something that will snag the miles and drag me along? I’m asking for advice, listening to the bmps. Everyone says “Running Down a Dream” is one of the best songs. I still say “Paint it Black” and “Use the Force” are my anthems. For now.


Reviewer Rotten-ly

I shouldn’t care what strangers say about me.
I should say that again.
I should not care what strangers say about me!
Yet, I do.
There. I said it.
I care. I definitely do.

Here’s why: I was cruising around my LibraryThing page, noticed a little “thumbs up” icon on certain reviews & got curious. What did that little icon mean and had it ever been applied to a review of mine? Hmmm….This is where I should have remembered the little saying about curiosity killing the cat because while searching my own reviews for that “thumbs up” icon I came across a review that had “tagged” as not a review. It was like a big, fat warning to all the professional reviewers out there, a flashing sign that read: “hey guys, don’t waste your time reading this horseshit. It’s not a real review.” Okay, so no one actually said that…but, that’s what it felt like. Not a review. Defenses up, demeaning name-calling at the ready: jerks…snobs! Who did they think they were? Then, I went back and read the post in question…Whomever tagged it was right. In the traditional sense it’s definitely NOT a review. See for yourself. Yet, the tag still stung. It’s like being called out as a fraud; no Great Oz. I have been tempted to go back and write a real review, something academically sterile and boring to compensate. I feel guilty because here I am, in the Early Review program and I break all the rules for writing a traditional review: You are supposed to review the plot: one, keeping first person voice out of it, and two, you’re not supposed to quote text. Two things I do all the time.
There is a disclaimer on my site that states I don’t review books in the traditional manner, but rather as proof that I took the time to read something for the BookLust Challenge. So, what now? Maybe I should write a traditional review for LibraryThing and leave my quoting and blathering for this site only???? I’m still pondering that….and sort of practicing that. LT gets the straight up this-is-the-book and WP gets ThisIsWhatTheBookMeantToMe. More work? Yes, but it will be worth it to not be so reveiwer rotten.

By the way …the “thumbs up” icon that got me in trouble in the first place? It was an was-this-review-helpful? indicator… Go figure.


Reunion


This was my team. These were my people. Imagine my surprise when saw them again yesterday. Okay, okay, so I didn’t see these exact same people. Maybe some of them were there. I don’t know. But, I saw their colors of royal purple and kelly green and I recognized their cause. Running either 13.1 or 26.2 – it didn’t matter. New Hampshire or Florida, I recognized them and cheered them on just the same.
Here’s the thing. Before getting to FL not once did I think about Team in Training. Not once did I consider their presence in the Gasparilla. I didn’t think of them at all. Out of sight, out of mind. Really. I was there for one reason and one reason only – to cheer on my friend in her first 13.1. So, when I saw the familiar purple and green I was taken by surprise. My heart caught in my throat and I felt tears well in my eyes. The Cause was here. My own run came back to me mile by mile, minute by minute. Without warning I was overcome with emotion. Seeing their decorated race bibs and TNT decals I couldn’t help but yell words of encouragement. Calling their names, yelling Go Team in Training! You. Can. Do. It. With every thumbs up I felt it wasn’t enough. Something was missing. The run. Bottom line: I wanted to run with them. There’s something else I learned – I will always be a TNT runner. I will always have a place on the team.


Happy Birthday

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I have deemed my 39th year the year of change in oh so many ways. Traditionally, my birthday is the day of resolutions, promises and new leaves turning over. Nothing new there. I have said that before just as I have made public my struggle with 2007. I have to say (again) I’m glad it’s over. I’m more than happy to be putting 38 behind me, as well. Having said all that, here’s how I celebrated the big 39th.

Daybreak doesn’t come easy in my bedroom. Dark forest green walls and brown wood blinds keep out any good morning sunshine. Lying in the dark, contemplating the day, the phone rang. My mother – serenading me with “Happy Birthday Dear 39 and holding….” I wanted to ask her to call back and sing into my answering machine (I’ve kept my mother and sister’s birthday wishes on my machine for the past 2 years). Instead, I smiled into the phone and enjoyed her goofy singing. A great way to start the day.
Later, kisa and I visited Grandpa’s house. Sitting with cinnamon scones and steaming coffee at the kitchen table we listened to the silence. The longer we sat the more aware of other sounds we became: the ticking of a clock, the wind rattling the clothesline stretched across the lawn, the dripping, drumming of rain off the gutters. I swore I could hear the whispers of ghosts.

A big part of my birthday celebration was redemption for the dress fiasco of last week. So, believe it or not, I took me, myself & moi shopping. Yes, shopping. I found jeans called “flirt” and “diva”, black v-neck tops and catch-my-legs in black fishnet stockings. Here’s the thing – everything fit, first try. No struggling, no scrutinizing. My dressing room didn’t even have a mirror.

Next stop, Panera for lunch. I have a soft spot for the sandwich shop thanks to Sarah and a little trip to Saratoga. This time I went vegetarian with creamy tomato soup, crunchy asiago cheese croutons, and a Greek veggie sandwich. Yum. I could have sat there all day.

The rest of the afternoon was spent working out, playing on the computer and opening mail. My sister sent a cool package of goodies (hello homemade tortillas!). I can’t wait to start making my own fajitas from scratch.

Later, a steamy bath filled with bubbles. Getting ready for a night on the town. I modeled two different outfits for kisa because I just couldn’t decide- heels and brand-spanking new jeans or boots and brand-spanking new skirt? Sweater or scoop neck tee? Everything black, black, black. Finally decided on the school-girl skirt in flannel dark, fishnets and braided black top. Something sexy-festive and fun. Ready to hit the town.

Speaking of town – it was hopping. For the first time ever we had to park on the roof of the garage. People everywhere, chatting, laughing calling to one another, rushing to cross the street, others standing to window shop. Smoky breath rising; groups huddled together on street corners, shoulders shrugged to ward off the cold. Neko Case performing at the Calvin, restaurants with hour-plus waiting lists. Stop and go traffic, the chirping walk signal in between the flow of cars. There was a buzz and I felt the electricity everywhere.

We ended up at Zen. Plum wine, a fire boat filled with seafood, bok choy, mushrooms, cabbage, brown rice, chopsticks and soy sauce. Next time we will cook our own meal, Japanese Shabu style. I have the meal all picked out.

Home again, stuffed and happy. My favorite soon-to-be four year old on the answering machine, serenading me with Happy Birthday (I live in a zoo) with a little Fire and Rain and Scarborough Fair thrown in. So damn cute. If it hadn’t been so late (way past his bedtime) I would have called him back to ask if he takes requests. Maybe a little Janitor of Lunacy.

Later, late night – a night-cap of a single cranberry vodka. KBCO on the stereo. Red candles in the dark flickering in the reflection of cds on the ceiling. Happy birthday to me.