Let’s be honest, the”new year” isn’t every really January 1st, it is the start of school.  Fresh pencils, new schedules, and the opportunity to be the best version of aspirational you – because you have not yet just started to ditch class to watch reruns of Star Trek.  My actual new year also has the new drive at work, my birthday, and my son’s birthday so the rush of Back-To-School comes with cupcakes and all manner of birthday frenzy for both of us.

Over the summer I’ve done a lot of running, and I’ve done a lot of active thinking about what I eat because I was tired of buying bigger pants.  It all came together nicely, I’m on track for August being a 50 mile month, I’ve turned the Marine Corps Marathon into a specific race series that I want to run this year in prep for running in in 2016, I’m signed up for the half-marathon that kicks it off.  I weigh something that feels more comfortable to me.

Now that old twitch of mine has started to show up.  Having identified a number of things that work for me over the summer, spending time and energy to do them, and finding them successful it would be so easy to mic drop the whole thing and go back to the way it was.

Shrug off the running because my foot hurts.

Eat with less thought because “meh”

Stop cross-training.

Decide that it is time to try something new, so instead of doing it as a temporary measure just stop what I AM doing to invest in thinking about a different thing.

Look at a calendar and think “I’m tired” and just sit down.

Skip the sunrises and new successes for futzing on Tumblr.

I’m saying it here and now – I LIKE how the summer went for my exercise and food.  I won’t be a zealot in the next two weeks (or maybe I will if that will keep me on track) but dammit I want these things to make it past Labor Day.  That I WILL be a zealot about wanting to make it through this part of my psyche this time and staying with things that work well for me.

Twelve hours from now we will be back into a new school year – which means that summer is over, before my birthday, and that is just strange.  This summer has been chuck full of blips of vacations and here is where I will try and remember what the hell just happened.

Seattle / Anacortes – The most visceral moment was on a neighborhood beach where I realized just how many carcass crab limbs were around me.  I also enjoyed finally meeting one of Dave’s favorite people after almost 13 years of knowing Dave.  Then there was Seattle City Center and our beautiful hotel which was amazing.  Oh, in a near tie for most visceral moment was cresting a hill in Seattle and having the same chest sensation as every one of my “falling” dreams (roller coaster parking lots are my specialty).

New York – Hedwig (as played by Darren Criss) was amazing.  Running in Central Park was awesome.  Lunch was adequate.  It was a lovely weekend that I needed a lot.  I LOVED getting shoulder checked by some native and just glaring.  It was so good.

Grandma Camp Drop-off – Jeff want to fly unaccompanied minor next year and stay for two weeks, neither of which would surprise me at all.  We got to go to the carnival of my youth with a longtime friend of his, I got to see a longtime favorite of mine in passing and I realized how tiny my town is as I ran every street to get my miles in.  Also, it could use a coat of paint.  Riding in a Tesla was cool, but something I won’t pay for again.  Still deeply grateful and thrilled that Jeff’s friends from LLY were there for him this summer.

Grandma Camp Pick-Up – More running all the streets.  Less time to visit, and the only bit of time I got in Illinois this summer (which was hard for me).  I did see Grammy though, and that makes my world better.

Seeing Samantha – Ok, so that wasn’t really a trip but after not seeing my niece for a long time I got to see her again, along with her new-ish husband.  Although she seemed weary from the month of travel – it was good to see her again.

Cub Scout Camp – We were adopted by people who knew what they were doing and I am so grateful for that.  Also – fucking hell Georgia is hot in July.  Like icky hot.  Also, I am not meant for camping.  Still, Jeff now can use a knife at cub scout things and we both learned a lot.  I did not drink the Kool-aid but I do know where they sell it.

Nephew Visit – The third nephew / niece was able to visit this summer (after being gracious about me putting him off last summer).  A quick overnight to Chattanooga, listening to a Civil War Battlefield park ranger, eating at his first Waffle House.  We made sugar lemons (those two ingredients put together) and that made quite an impression on him.  After wondering for years if they were curious about Uncle John (they were all young when he died) I had kind of stopped wondering if they would ever ask for stories.  I didn’t rehearse them in my head like I had on other trips.  He asked.  It felt good.

Mom in town for Georgia Camp – mom came in to help fill the camp gap here in the home stretch.  It is so good to have her around and Jeff absolutely loves it.  Best part was a 48 hour trip to Tybee Island where mom saw the ocean for the first time. Her adventure spirit is frankly kind of tickling me a bit.

I’m tired and fried.  Dave wishes I was home – ever.  All of these things intertwined between work and runs.  It has been crazy – but it was mine.

I’m still running.

The last few weeks I’ve focused on what I would need to be able to add each week to “Beat The Bridge” at this year’s Marine Corps Marathon.  At mile 20 there is a vehicle bridge that opens back up to cars 4-ish hours after the race starts and it is runners or cars but not both.  The “straggler bus” waits for those who cannot beat the bridge.

I mainly think about it during my long run.  I also do an easy run and that is so short that it mainly just clears the dust from the day instead of moving on towards bigger thoughts.  During the two speed runs every week I’m generally just being pleased.  I really like the Runcoach app and how they have arranged all of this stuff for me.

A couple of long runs ago I realized that I cannot safely train harder than I am right now.  Both my feet are doing different unpleasant things that are manageable right now but I don’t want to worsen.  The school year is 10 days away, the new drive to work is longer, there isn’t time to do the work and recover properly.

I worked on figuring out what I would need to be able to accomplish each week to be ready, and it was too much.  Maybe I would beat the bridge, likely I wouldn’t, and it would be such a force of will event that I’d be too busy to enjoy what all this hard work has produced.

Because I have absolutely loved how this running feels (which I attribute to the fine programmers at Runcoach), even when it sucks (and it does) it also is a slow steady climb towards something wonderful.  I’ve found myself re-tuning the way I eat to fuel runs.  I hydrate because it just feels natural.  It has been a great framework this summer to be more of the person I want to be.

So I meditated on what to do with my entry for MCM (while I ran) and found the idea of converting to 10K just – not it.  I would do fine at that distance and run past all the bits I’m looking forward to but it … just isn’t it.  I never seriously considered just giving up the registration, as gifts from the universe go I’m enjoying this one and want to keep it.  So that left deferment until 2016 – which I did first thing this morning.

It is scary to think of this kind of work for the next 15 months but I suspect that is what it will really take for me to be ready.  In the meantime I’m planning races to give me more experience in the middle.  I’m trying to see how many states I can train or race in while I prepare (I’ve got 4 so far).

There will be a half-marathon right around when MCM happens because that is what I will be more comfortably prepared for.

I am considering trying to run *with* someone once in a while.  I have some more whole body fitness to consider.

When this started I told people “I’m running Marine Corps Marathon” a couple of times and it always felt false.  I switched what I said to “I’m training for …” and that felt better.  I still am training for it, I’m just doing it the long way – which feels right for a long race.

I mentioned before that I don’t typically start things I’m not reasonably sure I can’t accomplish.  So, I’ve been working on getting ready for the Marine Corps Marathon for a couple of months now.  I’ve run farther, and faster, than I ever have in my life.

This morning was something different.

For about a week now the cosmos has pointed at the potential that there are easier ways to achieve some of the emotional high points that MCM might bring (I can transfer to the 10k, a distance I am capable of today), that I am slow for someone who expects to stay away from the sweeper, that I can give my MCM bib to someone else, or say that I’ll do it next year.

Each time I remember that I don’t need to decide today and I keep doing the work.  Still, I would be lying if I pretended that each reminder that the “Exit” is so close, and so easy, didn’t weigh on me a little bit.  Most of the time I’d opt for the 10K and chillax about training – but I’m not doing it now.  I’m doing the work.

Long run today, I’m a slow poke at a short distance but it feels like a proving ground.  If not now, then when… and all that.  The radio played the song “Dumb” (main line, “I feel so dumb.  Duh duh duh dumb. Duh duh duh dumb) and then Britney Spears “Work Bitch” which I knew from Zumba and finally understood the lyrics to.

I got out of my car (I drive into town to run then reward with Dunkin Donuts) and walked a little extra while trying to find a way to start.  No need to think of the route, I have it down pat.  I just need to start.  Start the walk / run timer (no really y’all I’m not speedy, just fucking ready to do the work), and start the course thing and go.

I mainly try to dive into the void when I run, I don’t want to think and I don’t want to plan.  I get neat ideas there but mainly I rest my mind.  It is what I want out of the time:  log miles and stop thinking.  Still, when Siri told me how I was doing I’d take a minute or two to figure out if I was doing ok in the proving ground.  This mile was slower than that one, I’ve gotten a stitch and want to walk more than I have time for…

The penultimate mile is the fastest of all of them – I am surprised.  I have leg for the last mile and I try and use up a lot of it.  I hit stop and I’ve beat the time goal by 4 minutes.  I burst into tears because that is all I can do.  I try and calm down because what I want is to SOB and really, I’m a bit breathless.  I talk to my mom on the way home and cry more.

I want to message my zumba instructor when I get home.  I don’t because even I know that is odd – but when I see her in Target in the afternoon I tell her.  She is lovely and encouraging and as I turn to walk away I start tearing up again.  I’m crying as I type this.

I don’t know what the work is for.  I know why I started, and I know that I don’t need to understand.  I’m just grateful.

I am a creative person.  Oddly so, like I assume everyone is, but after a long time of pretending I was something other than that I’ve decided that calling myself a creative person is ok.

I have not taken time to develop creative skills.  I can dabble in a bunch of ways but focusing in a way to hone a talent is something I never quite get around to – even when I have the time and space to do it.

I am intrigued by creative people.  Especially those who are thriving in the new internet age because it allows them to be really engaged with people who cheer them on.  John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton, Amanda Palmer are big names with large and engaging presences but smaller creatives like Tiffany Ard, and Kim Zoot entice me as well.  Bloggers, musicians, painters, and especially makers make me happy to be around.

It surprises me when people haven’t heard of Kickstarter or Etsy.  That is also a little bit true for Patreon.  These websites allow clear monetary support for the creatives in the world.  Kickstarter does it for up and coming projects, the patron model works differently but supports artists either by “thing” or by month.  I also eyeball micro loan sites like Kiva all the time.

I am mainly a patron.  Not completely a “high-roller and supporter of underlings” version, but dangit if you make an awesome thing I will give you cash because I want you to WIN at doing what you love for money.  When I named this part of myself I got sort of excited.  I really love the idea of being a part of someone else’s victory, I like the idea that I can be where they get a little boost that makes pushing forward a little easier.

Art happens in the creation, to be sure, but the viewing of it is also deeply important for some.  When Amanda Palmer makes a thing, I pay her.  When Roman Mars shows up on Kickstarter I throw money at him.  I own a beautiful camera obscura through kickstarter.  My favorite perfume of all time was a little solid perfume tin with a Doctor Who theme that I can’t get on etsy anymore.  I helped Reading Rainbow get into classrooms.  I’m supporting SciShow in doing great science based videos. I help Wil Wheaton pay for great production on shows that my family enjoys together.

I create stuff because I am nimble minded, but I also create stuff by adding to the tiny spaces in a persons creative mind that DOESN’T have to think about building a resume because they have an order to fill.

The night after we got back from a lovely vacation I cried for a couple hours. It was the leftovers from a number of nearly crying moments during the vacation itself. 

My dad’s birthday is Tuesday. In a different year, I would be tempted to send him photos of us and the things we saw. In my mind I would write notes about what was what. What we learned about naked mole rats from their caregivers, or what the glass blower taught us about the “dime a dozen” Chihuly trained gaffers. I’d talk about how the beaches with a lot of people are amazing, and how the lesser traveled beaches are awash in ghoulish crab legs and horror movie …. things but there is a lot of driftwood that is fun to pile around on. 

I would tell him about our incredible good luck with the weather and how Jeff could not have handled a flight that long a year earlier. I’d talk about driving the Seattle hills that were a physical reincarnation of my “falling” dream. 

I would tell him, because I know only now, what a precious thing it is to have someone who moves through museums at the same pace. I’d thank him for our matching paces. 

I won’t though, and except for the trips that he and I took together I rarely did that sort of wrap up. Last year our May vacation was just beach shots at sunrise – and we didn’t know what we didn’t know. The late July trip included seeing him, with gifts from the Marine museum. By my Pittsburgh conference trip…well, architecture stories were not that amazing anymore. 

I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t do any of that, maybe we would just sit next to each other for awhile. 

About six months after my first husband died I went to yoga camp and for a few days, while surrounded by supportive people who made sure I was ok, I went through the biggest of the realizations that my husband was DEAD dead.   I had done a ton of totally competent adult stuff in that six months, but the list of things I wanted to tell him “next time” had gotten far too long to ignore. 

I have a bunch of stories to tell my dad, but nowhere to send the pictures. 

I don’t start things, generally, that I think will be hard to complete.  Arranging for a year of long, long, vacation? Getting my masters while parenting a toddler and working full-time (and planning / doing long long vacation)?  I actually didn’t see those as things that would *hard* to complete.  Complex, or exhausting, or scary in spots – for sure – but *not* hard.


When John died my mom and I brainstormed doing a “Design Your own Logo” class at a library because he was an artist, his best tattoos (and the one that is mirrored on the back of my head) all had logo qualities to them, and it was a chance to connect with his heart in a different way.  Also, I raised money for the heart association for years and I’m eyeballing a Marfan walk in a month in Roswell because Marfan walks are hard to find.

**grasping at straws**

I haven’t run in almost 18 months.  I’ve never run for longer than a 5K and even those I never *really* felt prepared for.  In the last 5 years I’ve said with the quiet pride of someone who never even came close “I’d never do a full marathon, only a half and even then only the flying pig”.

I’m busy, I’m emotionally and physically drained most days.  I don’t feel like I have much energy to offer those around me and even less for myself.  I don’t have hobbies.  I don’t take time.  The nights that Dave & I watch movies on the couch together it is because he’s found something that he knows I’ll stop and watch.

Moving my body isn’t a priority and hasn’t been for awhile.

** the other nagging true things **

After dad died I got a massage and when my foot stopped hurting for a moment I thought “I’ll run the Marine Corps Marathon” it is beautiful, the finish line make me teary to think about even when he was alive.

I looked up the timeline (late October and not conflicting with Dave’s Ath Half) and the registration rules – a lottery that (at the time) was four months away and resolved seven months before the race.  I looked up if there were couch to marathon training programs (there are) and resolved that the idea would drift away I went on about my life.

Then I entered the lottery, because I remembered to, because I was sure that karma and dad’s good ghost like ghostliness would keep me out of the CONGRATULATIONS pool.  Because … it would be so easy to shrug and say “I would have but the lottery didn’t break my way” then I would sigh and it would be over.

I got an email on Wednesday morning that says, “CONGRATULATIONS”

I feel soft, and scared, and embarrassed for thinking that the time / energy / willpower is available for me to train for this.  I feel dumb.  I am also on my way for my first training run/walk/persevere.

I’m so scared.  Scared is not a reason to avoid something.

One day. One run.


Parents who fly – you know the drill … in the unlikely event of a change in cabin pressure masks will come from the ceiling and you should apply your own before assisting those around you.

The important part (and a relatively recent addition I think) is that oxygen will be flowing even if the bag does not appear to inflate.

… so yeah.

I haven’t felt this level of professional responsibility since 2002.  The difference is that then I was recently widowed and knew (mentally) my resignation date so I had ZERO fucks to give.  I wasn’t going to screw it up – but if the world burned I was going to be the one striding in front of the flames flicking a cigarette.

Now I have a wide circle of friends, a husband, a child, a mom, and an extended family who I adore like crazy.  I own Catie in Bhutan an email from three weeks ago (I SWEAR Catie, you are the perfect TOP of my personal email list I SWEAR).  My local circle of friends are having THINGS (good and tough) that I want to bear witness to.  My sista hasn’t heard from me in AWHILE y’all.  My husband, my son …. let’s just say my mom is super hero that made spring break amazing.  Even still, I bet my husband and son wish I was half the person I normally am.

I will be.  I just need 4 more days.  Or 4 more weeks – I’m not sure yet.

The love flows, even if the bag is not inflating.

Great things in the morning and then two distressing things at lunch. 

Up the Grand Staircase two at a time. People are waiting for me to correct things, to begin things, to bear witness. 

“The hardest working woman here today”

“My fav-o-rite” and a hug. 

My head on the desk for a split second of embarrassed self-pity. 

“We know what you’re doing”

I want to stay here even as we move forward. I am part of a magical time. I was hugged today, my hand was kissed today, I laughed out loud today, I was exhausted with tears in my eyes and scrambling to get away today. 

I went up the grand staircase two at a time. 

“Do you think they’ll fire you?????”

That was the response my 6 year-old had to me talking about feeling nervous about something at work.

See, I’m a believer that the Facebook problem of Their Highlight Reel v. Your B Reel starts long before Facebook. I think that it starts in all of the ways that a child’s emotions aren’t seen/named in the adults that they admire. The hair fidgets, trips to the bathroom, strange times of being short-tempered without the accompanying “I’m nervous about a presentation at work” just leaves a gap.

The gap, I believe, fills in with the idea that what runs through my mind isn’t even sort of similar to those around me. My nervousness is abnormal. If nobody else feels this, then I should not either, and I certainly should not talk about it.

Sunday I was nervous. I felt behind in getting ready for a big visible thing at work. I didn’t want to leave my guys to go to work on a beautiful day. I didn’t want to leave my sort-of-sickly with my working-super-hard so I could do something that felt like it could have been handled within my 8-5 but it hadn’t been.

If I’m going to be honest, there was something else too. It was one of the first times I had gone into work on a weekend since I toyed around with anxiety at my last job. I am glad for the degree to which that event was situational, but also that it opened my eyes to an emotion that I do have on occasion and had never really named.

Anyway. Kiddo asked if I was going to be fired. The look I gave him sent him straight to “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it” land, which felt a little yucky but also … DUDE??!! Really??

Monday I asked if I could borrow his walkie-talkies for the event, and after we agreed on a replacement plan if I broke them he agreed.

Monday my husband went to the make-a-shirt place and ordered just the right thing for me. Wednesday he picked it up.

The good news, it went really well. I definitely did not get fired. The better news was seeing kiddo’s face when I said it went well because he knew that it was something different, that I had been nervous and now I was celebrating the successful completion.

The best news? After a week where I was mentally and physically absent more than I am used to – we are returned.


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