Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Faith in Humanity

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

So, today, I was kind of sad, and I was driving home, and I saw a white man sitting on the side of the road. He had pulled his truck over, and there was a stray dog, the kind of brindled pitbull mix that you find so often, loose by the side of the road. The truck had its blinkers on, and the man was sitting, legs wide apart in a v-shape. I think he was trying to get down on the level of the pup, and coax him over to him, away from traffic. It was obvious he had pulled his truck over, just to help the dog.

I saw a black man with dreadlocks walking towards the other man. He was dressed in a mishmash of stuff, and I guess he was just walking along and came across the guy with the truck. I was sitting in stand still traffic, so this all took place in about ten minutes. The man with the dreadlocks walked up to the man sitting on the ground, and said something, and the man on the ground smiled up at him, and the man with the dreadlocks sat down, too, with the same v-leg position, and they were both talking and occasionally raising a hand towards the dog, and both watched the dog. I had the urge to get out of my car and go sit with them. And I smiled, and the light changed to green. My heart was full.

And tonight, I saw a comment on a friend’s facebook post. It read simply: “It is time for ethnic cleansing.”

And my heart shattered.

Edited to add: My friend’s original post did not say this, but a friend of theirs made the comment ON my friend’s post. Hope that makes sense. I would have zero tolerance for that within my friends.

I am a Writer

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Your own reasonsI had an experience lately that got me thinking about my writing and the reasons I write. Disclaimer: I don’t think of what I write as Art; I mean, come on. I’m just not that pretentious. It’s, more than anything, therapeutic, pleasurable, and a gathering of my thoughts. It is an action rather than a result; a trip inside my brain that might come out with a few souvenirs, but is very much about the journey. I feel better and more focused when I write things down. I remember details of my life and experiences more fully when I take the time to type them out. I sometimes feel a compulsion to sit and write things down, to outline and tell the story of the images in my mind. As I am writing them, I usually remember more detail than I thought I could. The small, poignant pieces somehow come into focus, and things that I thought meant very little take on a larger meaning for me. There is a satisfaction in both the swelling flow of words that come out when I sit down and write, and in the exquisite pleasure of finding the perfect word or phrase. I even enjoy going back and editing what I wrote, and those are the times when I read something and realize, “no, it’s not perfect, but this might make it better.” And aren’t we all just trying to find ways to make ourselves a little bit better? There is satisfaction in improvement.

I write for many reasons: To document pleasurable moments, or pretty vignettes, or to make sure that I never forget a story that made me cry with laughter. I sometimes write down stories that were handed down to me from my family; If I don’t write them down, they may be lost. There are stories I don’t want to lose, and some of them don’t even belong to me. I write because I need to, and I want to, and because it almost always makes me feel lighter after doing so. I write about people and places that made an indelible impression on me that I must not forget. I write about loved ones who are gone, because I am afraid that I will forget some precious detail of who they were. And they were human and amazing and funny and weird and insane.

There are many things that I put into writing that do not see the light of day, that are for my eyes and mind only. Sometimes I write and write, and I am proud of something, or I feel that it is scary, but important. I usually put those here on my blog. I also intersperse those with photos, which sometimes speak louder than words, or tell a story without need of words. I used to write even the small things, a joke my daughter made up, or the made up words my son created, thoughts and anecdotes on my blog and I wrote posts every day for many years. These are the things that I find cool, funny, absurd, ironic, or infuriating. Sometimes they are sweet, sometimes they are sour, sometimes they are salty or bitter. Many times now, I will just post these little things to Facebook. I kind of wish I hadn’t started doing that, because honestly, it is easier to post there, and more people see it that way, but it takes away from my content here. I guess blogs are dead. I don’t know. I still have one. I still put words and pictures on it.

The thing about the pieces I write is this: They are always for me. Yes, they might make someone laugh, or cry, or wonder if they are about you, or someone you know. You might wonder why I would put out to the world something so blunt or crass, or delicate or private or flat out embarrassing for others to read. I do it because it makes me feel good, and it is satisfying. Sometimes it is a release. Sometimes it is because I want people to laugh, or cry, or because I feel good about something, or proud of something, or sad about something, or because I thought it was funny or might ring a universal bell. I have a voice. I want to use it. I am a writer. I want people to read what I write. I am not ashamed of that.

So, when I hear that maybe people see some of the things I write as a cry for help, I like to assume that they care about my well-being, and I take a minute to reassure folks that I will be fine. I am not suicidal, and I am feeling positive about working towards making the changes in my life to be happier. People sure are good deep down – they check in on me when I am struggling, and sometimes they share their struggles and I don’t feel so alone.

Some people though, let’s be honest: Some people will kick you when you’re down, just for the goddamn fun of it.

And when I hear that maybe people think that I am just being dramatic and attention-seeking; Well, I’m a writer. I put words out and people can read them or not read them. Whether they like them or not is truly irrelevant. I am a writer, and I will keep on writing. I write for me, and you read for you. You, the reader, are the one who chooses if you want to continue reading what I write. It seems to work okay; It’s a pretty neat system that’s been around for a few thousand years.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter who reads it. I will continue to write, because it is what I am compelled by my mind, heart, and soul to do: It brings me laughter, joy, release. It makes colors brighter and delicate memories sweeter. It brings loved ones to life again for a moment. It helps me navigate the perilous trails of thought in my mind, and sometimes it tells me which path to take. Writing comforts me, and it sometimes comforts others.  I know this, because sometimes they take the time to write to me, or they pull me aside and talk to me about my writing in real life, and I am not ashamed to say that it makes me happy if someone likes what I read, or finds it thought-provoking, or brave, or crazy, or very sad.

I can think of no better feeling than the feeling of reading something someone else wrote, and knowing just exactly what they mean. There is an awe and balance and satisfying synchronicity to recognizing your own feelings or thoughts or memories in someone else’s words; When someone tells me that they feel exactly the same things that I wrote, that gives me joy and satisfaction.  Writing has made me friends, and at times, it has been my only friend. Writing travels through time and stops the rotation of the earth for a brief moment. It freezes time and distills moments into portraits. Writing is a part of me, and it is a part of me that I sometimes share with the world. It always will be. And if you don’t like my writing, I’m okay with that, too. Because I don’t write for you; I write for me.

I think the author Elizabeth Gilbert puts it a little better. Her book Big Magic is next on my list of books to read. The day after I had this thought-provoking experience, the one that made me think hard and long about what my writing means to me, I came across this quote.  I literally laughed out loud at the joy of the universe presenting me with exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

Just smile

With love to myself and anyone else who puts themselves out there,


You Seem So Happy on Facebook

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

This post has been bubbling up for a while, and it’s not anything that hasn’t been said before. This is a post about perception and image. It’s about the face we put on for the world, and about the assumptions we make about others’ lives based on the face they choose to put on every day.

I talked to my close friend Camille for hours the other day. She is one of those prized and dear friends that knows me in and out, and whom I can go without talking to for months and then call and pick up as if we never skipped a beat. We have talked about it all over the years – boys, music, dreams, addiction, sexuality, marriage, fertility, friendship, siblings, parental relationships, and death. She has been through her rough spots, and I have been through mine. She’s currently in a great place. If you read my blog in the past year, you will know that I am in a rough spot that feels like being caught in the trough of a wave; I occasionally see over the horizon of the cresting wave, but mostly i feel like I am stranded in the trough, trying to get to the top of the wave so that I can see out in all directions. I’m treading water. I have good days and bad days. I have good minutes and bad minutes. I have laughter and tears, and laughter through tears. I’m working on it. I am a work in progress.

When I told Camille that things were okay, but not the best, she seemed genuinely surprised. “Wow. I had no idea things hadn’t gotten better. You seem so happy on Facebook.”

You seem so happy on Facebook.

How many times have you heard someone say that? Or “They seemed so happy.” “Her life seems so perfect.”I bet her house is never messy.”

I have always enjoyed Facebook. I guess I’m addicted. There are things I hate about it, but its strengths outweigh its weaknesses. I use it often to quickly chronicle things my kids do that I just want to put down in writing so i don’t forget. I stay in touch with family. I get to see and stay in touch with people that I never thought I would see again 15 years ago. I reconnected with and stay in touch with childhood friends i haven’t seen since moving in 4th grade, people from high school that i always liked but never would have kept up with otherwise, and college friends who have gone their separate ways, but whom i get to witness doing amazing things and living precious lives right in front of my eyes. Without Facebook, so many of you reading this would only be a sweet or funny memory. You would still be 7 or 17, or 27 years old in my mind’s eye. Instead, you are real people with real lives that continue with time; You grow, you change, you become things that I never imagined you would be. You often wow and amaze me.

I always get a little frustrated with people who hate Facebook because it ends up making them feel bad about themselves. It makes me happy to see old faces, to connect with new friends and learn more about them, and to follow bands and authors and comedians that I like. I don’t look at other people’s lives and think, “Wow. I really need to get my kids into more activities. Mine only play one instrument, know one language, play one sport.” “Wow, look how happy they look. They really have the perfect marriage.” “I wish my skin looked like hers.” “She must work out all the time. I wish I had a personal trainer.” “Why didn’t they invite me to lunch?” “Why didn’t they invite me to that party?” I guess it’s a matter of self-esteem for some. I haven’t had trouble with self-esteem since early high school. One day I just realized comparing myself to others was too exhausting.

There’s more to this, though. Not just the fact that we often compare ourselves to others, but the fact that we assume that the pretty family photo on the beach is that family’s life. Life is not a beach. Life is messy, and full of things that go unsaid. And honestly, we don’t really want to hear all the messy details. We want the pretty.

The perfect meals, pretty front doors, the crafts, and art, and jokes and music. The beautiful, smiling children. The wedding gowns. The couples who look as in love in photos today as they did 20 years ago. So for those who are comparing themselves to others, and thinking they wished their lives looked more like someone else’s, they need to remind themselves of what people don’t say on Facebook. It’s their anniversary. Of course they will wish each other a happy anniversary with a pretty wedding photo of the glowing newlyweds. You don’t not wish your spouse happy birthday, or happy anniversary, or “Congratulations! I am so proud of you for working so hard to get that new job.” You do all those things. We see them all, and we compare ourselves to them, but what are the things that are being left unsaid?

They don’t much talk about how depressed they are, or how confusing their sex life has become to them. Unless they are me. (I kid. Kind of.)

You tell your brother you love him on his birthday. Even if he knew about the treatment you had growing up all those years. Even though he never spoke up about it or acknowledges it now. It’s all there between you, but only the two of you see it.

You smile for the family photo in front of a Christmas tree, even though you know you are leaving your spouse after January 1st. It is just easier to smile. Your sister is smiling, too, even though she knows and it is still a secret. What else can she do? No one wants to ruin Christmas.

You post all those photos about your vegetable garden, or your love of yoga, or how much you ran that morning and what a high you got from those endorphins. None of your Facebook friends know that you absolutely need those endorphins, or the sunshine and dirt, or the deep breathing, just to make it through another day of the emotional desert that your life has become. The running, and flowers, and downward facing dog might be all that person has in the world that gives them joy.

The one who posts nothing but photos of her kids. What you don’t see: She is miserable and hasn’t had sex with her husband in over a year and doesn’t have the financial means, or the will to leave, or doesn’t want to hurt her children.

What an amazing handbag that person just bought. It’s beautiful. What you don’t see: She is $20,000 in debt.

Wow, those two couples seem like the best of friends. What we don’t see: Last night, two of them made out at a party. And not with their spouse.

The friend who travels and works, and lives in that amazing downtown loft with the view and seems to have the most fabulous life. She is lonely. She cries herself to sleep, thinking she will always be alone and never find someone to love, and wonders why she is so defective.

Can’t wait to see the new Marvel movie! What we don’t see. He is just thinking, how do i voice my worry to my depressed girlfriend? I love her and i want her to be happy, and I don’t know how to help her.

The person who cracks the jokes, posts the cat videos. . . what are they hiding? Bulimia, depression, heartbreak, divorce, addiction, that they hate their body, or wish they were dead, or hate their spouse of 50 years and wishes they would just go ahead and die, or the fact that they found out about their spouse’s affair and they’re just keeping it quiet for the sake of the kids, their own affair, the cancer diagnosis, their realization that they are gay, but can’t say it yet, the infertility, the impotence, the fears and guilt about their children, that they cried themselves to sleep because their mother does not remember their name, or the fact that they still haven’t gotten over their mother or father’s or dog’s death. These are real examples of things people have told me. People who confided in me, but who, if you looked at their Facebook profiles, seem pretty happy.  I cannot even begin to imagine the breadth of untold secret pain of so many people who seem so happy on Facebook.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is being left unsaid. A few people have told me, “I wish you would post more, blog more. I miss your writing.” What a wonderful compliment that is to me. I take it as such, but the truth is, there are often things that I leave unsaid. There are many reasons for omitting the dark, painful, brutal truths. I want to try and be positive. Focus on the good things. Be grateful for the beautiful moments. I don’t want to be a sad downer. As my mama taught me, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I don’t always take that lesson to heart, but i try sometimes. And so I write less. I post less.

A lot of y’all are probably thinking, “I thought she said everything. She says things that I could never say. I have always admired her brutal honesty and her ability to say the things I think, but don’t have the courage to say.” Writing this down, it sounds arrogant, but it is true, because people tell me this all the time. “Thank you for saying what I wanted to say, but was scared to say.” “I totally agreed with you on xyz, but I would never have said it in public.” What can I say. I have a big mouth, and I value the truth above almost all else.

Almost all else. I also value people’s privacy, their feelings, and my loved ones. There are so many things I don’t say because it might be painful to someone I know or love. Or because to say it would destroy everything. Or would be giving in to the darkness, and giving up. And so there is a framework to social media platforms like Facebook. There are things we really cannot say out loud. Even me.

When people ask me how I’m doing, I say okay. This is not a lie. They sometimes seem surprised that I am not completely fine now. I am better than I was. I am hopeful. I am trying to be more content in the moment, to slow down and enjoy the little things. I am trying to be grateful, and live in the moment. Those little contentments and momentary joys are the face I put on for the world.

But I still have some depression. I am still confused about a lot of things in life. I know that some things will not get better, that many things are a compromise, that so much of it is out of my control, and that the only surety is change. I am anxious about the unknown factors and variables in mine and my family’s life. I sometimes worry myself sick about friends, about my career choices, and about my marriage and family. I often feel like I’ve failed in promises to myself about what I want in life, about the things i planned to do but never did. I doubt my decisions. I wring my hands, don’t sleep, don’t eat, binge eat bowls of shame, drink too much. I keep things inside because I don’t want to cause others pain. I wake up sweating with my heart pounding about things I would never voice on Facebook, or on this blog. And I know I am not alone.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in my 40s, it’s that we are all just children masquerading as adults. We hurt and yearn and cry and wish like children. We have situations that seem insurmountable, endings that are inevitable, situations that make us feel stuck in concrete, and which break our hearts. We never know quite what someone else is going through. We never really know what someone’s childhood was like, or what demons they battle, what road they have walked to get where they are, or what confusing crossroads they are at right this moment. The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that things are not always what they seem. We never know what is going on in someone else’s life, and that maybe it’s best not to judge someone unless we’ve walked their path. Chances are each person is on some journey of his or her own, one that might be slightly more or less difficult, more or less apparent, or just really different than our own.

So, the next time you are thinking, “They seem so happy,” think twice about it. Few of us live perfect lives.

p.s. If you do live a charmed or magical life, please list all your secrets for achieving perfection in the comments. All of them.


Update: Just wanted to add a big “Thank you” to all of you who shared my post. I take that as a huge compliment and it really means the world to me.

Man Vs. Nature

Friday, October 17th, 2014

I am finding the whole Ebola issue, and the government, political, and public response to it, fascinating. I am not really that concerned, but I do agree with others who are losing some confidence in the government and the CDC’s responses to this. I realize how many people i live near and who are friends that work there, and this is not a personal attack – It just seems to be that maybe the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing? Or that is how it appears to me (and probably a lot of other people.)


It also is interesting to watch the response after having dealt with the CDC during the Crypto outbreak my family experienced. Obviously, Crypto isn’t deadly, but it was kind of eye-opening to see how worried folks were, their reactions, and the reactions from family doctors and CDC. I was one of the folks that met with a CDC focus group, and I’d say the biggest takeaway from that meeting was that the information on their website did not include a lot of practical, concrete direction on what the protocol for those affected should be when someone comes down with crypto. There was a lot of info on what it is, how you get it, etc, but not any step by step info on how institutions or individuals should handle it. (Should i go to work and when? How should the school handle it? What is the protocol for pools? Who do they call?)  Kudos to the people tasked with revamping the crypto site for getting our input.


It appears that the hospital in TX was pretty ill-prepared for dealing with Ebola, didn’t have the right tools/protocol/training to handle it. (Never mind that this CDC person supposedly told that nurse to get on the plane – where is the common sense there? But i guess they were just following protocol? But the protocol doesn’t seem to address the issue if that’s the case.) I also think it will be interesting to see how the government response corrects itself in light of ebola being in the states. I’m curious if there have been any other disease outbreaks of this kind in the states before?


Anyway, just rambling, and again, not being critical of the work that the CDC does, just finding it interesting.


– If the CDC is tasked with disease control, and has an ebola group, why do we need an Ebola Czar? (and I’d be curious how much that position makes? Worst job title ever.) On the one hand, it seems like something the president has to do to quell fears. But it also seems like an admission that what is already in place has not been working.


– The travel ban discussion is interesting. When has anything like that ever been mentioned before? I can’t remember it if it has happened. Do you agree or disagree with Belize’s decision to not allow the cruise ship to come to their shores?


– It’s interesting that those being monitored in TX now are being told they must not be in public. I’m curious about how that sort of thing would hold up in a court of law? Is there precedence for something like this? What happens if they break their signed contract?


– Three weeks til the election and this may be the biggest political surprise I’ve ever seen. How will it affect the elections? What happens if more people come down with this?


– I mean, I didn’t see it coming that Michelle Nun would support the travel ban. That seems like a purely political move to me. On another note, you gotta love the “water kills ebola virus” comment from Deal. [smh] How many people support a travel ban? I have read that they feel that might make people come here undetected and cause more of an outbreak. Thoughts?


– Thoughts on the DeKalb Schools decision to not allow the two kids in Dunwoody to enroll? And the new requirements for new students from West Africa to be okayed by the district before enrollment?


– And what about all the conflicting reports. CDC/govt says not to worry, but then you have news outlets (even CNN) also reporting that there are other ebola researchers and medical doctors who are concerned about things like mutation. Is the govt trying to keep us all calm, and not create a panic? How worried should we really be?


And the most interesting thing to me about it all – Are humans smarter than these organisms? Who will win? Man or Nature?


I basically just vomited all that up, because they were the things I was thinking, reading, hearing. Again, i’m not panicking. I just find the whole thing pretty interesting and was wondering what the thoughts of others were.

The Sweet Spot: Doing the Right Thing

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

I’ve had some sleepless nights of late. I lay awake, mulling over my thoughts and actions and reactions, worrying each piece of the puzzle, wondering if I did the right thing.

I did the right thing.

I did what I believe was the right thing to do. In tennis, there is a sweet spot on the racket. When you hit outside the sweet spot, the shot might feel okay, or it might feel completely off. When you hit the sweet spot, though. . . Oh, it just feels like the hand of God came down and made the shot perfect.

And that is how I feel when i go with my gut, say sincerely what i think is the honest truth, when I do what I feel is right. There is thinking involved, too (hence the sleepless nights), but more than anything, there is a sweet spot when I know that I have done what I know is right, in my heart. I feel it, in my heart. To do anything else is fake, inauthentic, or feels off. It’s like walking a balance beam – when I am following my heart, I am walking that beam with surety, looking ahead, in the zone. When i veer from what I believe in, I bobble, I wave my arms wildly, I have to stop and find my balance.

Sometimes finding my balance is easy. Sometimes finding my balance is so obvious a choice that everyone would agree that there’s pretty much only one way to find it. And then there are the times that keep me awake at night. The times when I find the sweet spot and take my shot and it feels perfect and fluid and magical. And then half the people in the crowd tell me that it was wrong. All wrong.

Yet it felt so sweet. But I lay awake pondering every mechanical piece of my swing, what I could have done differently, how each of those little differences would impact the other players, and what the reaction of the crowd would be.

And I realize that I cannot live with being anything but what I am, what I believe in, with sincerity, and thoughtfulness, and a true desire to help others, even when some don’t see that that is what I am doing.

I will stay lay awake at night, thinking about finding a balance. Because I don’t much give a damn what most of the crowd thinks. But I do care what I think about myself, about each shot. I know that my goal is the sweet spot, and that the shots I take must be true.

So, um, yeah. . . This is not really about tennis.

I Really Wuv Ken Burns

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Well worth the short five-minute watch.

I love his 1+1=3 analogy and the thought that his work is an attempt to wake the dead. I have often thought that bringing back the dead inspires me to write, or often the desire to hold on to life, because it could be gone in a moment.

I’m heading to Chattanooga tomorrow, and it is a place where I really hear the echoes of the dead. I might be waking the dead a bit. I’m thinking of Grandma, and Uncle Charlie, and Aunt Dot, Margaret and Mary, and even little Gretchen. And Jane, sweet Jane. There is something sweet about walking where others walked and making new memories that mingle so closely with the old. Bittersweet, but mostly sweet.

Thanks for sharing, T2.

What is the Point?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I have been a little down lately. Might be the weather, or hormones (bitches!). I really wanted to go to the lake this weekend and the weather was awful, so we ditched the idea and stayed home. The kids were kind of driving me crazier, and everything and everyone were kind of getting on my nerves, for simply existing. I felt, as my sis and I say, that i was so sick of everything that i was getting on my own nerves.

It didn’t help that i had three days of upset stomach, and I didn’t run all week. The more I put off the long run, the more stressed out I became, the more guilt I felt, and the more worthless I felt; it becomes a vicious cycle. If I exercise consistently, I get the endorphins, which are simply and purely an antidepressant for me, and I don’t drown the kids in the bathtub. If I get sick, or life gets in the way and I can’t exercise, I feel down. I totally have withdrawal, as if from a drug, and the cycle continues. I feel down and depressed and know that if I exercise, I will feel better, but I am too depressed to get off the couch and do it.

Even after my stomach was better, i was putting off the run, feeling depressed, and then cranky and depressed because i wasn’t running. It’s very hard to explain to you if you don’t fight depression, or if you don’t ever exercise. (And yes, I realize that exercise doesn’t cure all depression – I am lucky in that my depression is not completely debilitating. I get blue, but I function. I know some folks are not that lucky.)

Oh, the negative self-talk came out in force. I came up with a million reasons not to go run:

  • It’s too cold.
  • I don’t have time to finish.
  • We will never get the house cleaned before our friends come over for dinner.
  • I can’t finish the laundry if I am not at home.
  • I feel guilty leaving Todd with the kids.
  • Ad nauseum.
  • Luckily, my husband has been told numerous times to remind me how much better I feel when I work out and he finally told me yesterday, as I revealed a litany of reasons i shouldn’t, to “GO. Just GO.

    And so I went. I should have just walked out the door, and ran at home, but i got it into my head that it was cold outside, and i went to the gym instead. Six miles on the dreadmill.

    Yeah, that’ll cheer anyone up. Not.

    A little background – My friend Megan convinced me (bugged and badgered me?) to run a half-marathon with her, even though we only had 8 weeks to train and I had not been running a lot when we started. I told her that I would train with her until I injured myself, which is apt to be any time now, since we are adding a mile to our long runs every week, which is obviously too much, too fast. So, I told her we would finish, but i was not going to be fast. I figure if I am adding that much mileage, I am not going to make it worse by being fast. This attitude may be seen as cautiousness, fear, fat runner negative self-talk, or self-preservation. It is most likely a little bit of each.

    So, there I am, on the treadmill, running my tortuously slow miles. The frustrating part about being a fat, slow runner is that you are, as mentioned before, slow. So, 6 miles? That can take a big chunk of time. And on a treadmill? Dear God, the boredom. The sheer will and number of Girl Talk albums required to stay on the machine and not get right off and go eat a slice of pizza and drink a beer are staggering.

    So, there I am, listening to my Girl Talk, but having alternating thoughts of reasons I should just stop, and thinking about all the negative things I sometimes think about –

    What is the point? I might get hit by a bus or murdered, wouldn’t I rather that happen with a full stomach, and well-rested, rather than exhausted and sweaty? I will never lose all this weight. How could i? It took years to put on. It’s not just pregnancy weight. It’s fat. Why do you drink so much beer? Oh, fun? Drinking beer is fun, but what is fun about being fat? Nothing. Remember when you thought you were fat in college? That’s a fucking laugh now, isn’t it? You couldn’t fit a pinky in those jeans today. Yeah, even your knuckles are fat. Or maybe it’s not fat. Maybe it’s the beginning of psoriatic arthritis or RA. Yeah, you are at a genetic risk for that. So really, what is the fucking point in all this exercise and eating healthy? You might be in debilitating pain and unable to run in ten years anyway. We could just get off the machine now. You have been on it for 30 minutes anyway. Someone else probably needs a turn. No one would think anything of it if you hit stop and went home.

    And so on. For about the first 2 miles of my run. And then i attempted to drag myself out of the depths of the negative self-talk by looking around at people in the gym, hoping their hot bodies would inspire me to finish another mile.

    And that’s when I saw him. The cute young guy in a wheelchair. He was with a friend, who was wearing camo pants, and not in a wheelchair. Wheelchair guy was talking to the friend as the friend lifted weights. They were doing upper body. I will not lie – Full disclosure: These men had very nice arms. I looked. I might have bordered on ogling. Do not judge me, because I know that when you are on the dreadmill, you also look around and admire the hard bodies at the gym. If you say you don’t, you are a liar.

    So, I am watching, and camo pants guy stands up, and then wheelchair guy lifts himself up out of his chair using only his upper body, and lifts himself onto the machine. He pauses, and I realize, shit, that would be a workout for me before I ever even started the weightlifting. He takes a chain from around his neck and puts it in his pocket. Dog tags.

    Dog tags.

    And I realize, with not a small amount of shame, that he’s not just a guy in a wheelchair. He’s probably a vet. He probably lost the use of his legs preserving my right to sit and be depressed on my goddamn couch.

    I had slowed to a walk at that point, had given into the negative self-talk, and convinced myself that I needed to walk, that I wasn’t able to finish that mile without a breather. And my heart swelled at the thought of this young man, pulling himself around by sheer willpower, who has every reason to be angry and bitter, and yet, he is at the gym on a Monday, on the holiday. And he is smiling and laughing.

    And here I am, thinking of all the things that I can’t do, all the reasons I can’t do them, all the obstacles I have preventing me from doing them.


    What do I know about obstacles?

    Yes, the unexamined life isn’t worth living and all that jazz. But why am I worrying myself sick over questions like “What is the point?”

    This cute boy in the wheelchair, with the killer arms. . . he isn’t worried about what he can’t do. He’s doing what he can. And he’s doing it with a fucking smile on his face.

    And I knew then, that I would finish those six miles and that every other mile I ever run, I will probably remember this young man, and what he lost, and what his loss gave to me. It gave me, among a million other things, the freedom to relish in 6 miles on the treadmill, sucking air, and knees aching. For no other reason than that, today, i can do it.

    What is the point?

    The point is not what I can’t do. The point is what I can do.

    and that’s why I can’t send you Christmas cards

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

    There’s this song I like by the band Tokyo Police Club. (I hate their band name. Kinda bugs me.) All their songs are so catchy. There is this one song that has the line . . .

    and that’s why I can’t send you Christmas cards
    it’s why I had to keep you in the dark

    Whenever I hear it, it reminds me of someone, and I always think i should write about it, but i always forget, riding in the car or listening to it while I run. And for once, i was sitting at my desk when it came on.

    Someone once told me that they never wanted us to end up being people who just exchanged Christmas cards. And sure enough, we aren’t. We don’t. But i think of him every Christmas when the cards start coming in, and I think of him whenever I hear that song.

    I find it interesting how prescient that comment was, as if he knew what would happen. And how telling it is that I made note of it at the time, even in the throes of overconfident young love, as if really, deep down, I knew how it would end, too.

    None of it matters now, and it doesn’t hurt anymore to see the cards on mutual friends’ refrigerators. If anything, they make me smile. That was lifetimes ago. And songs like that, that remind me of my other lives, make me smile where they once made me cry. And they make me laugh, too, at the naivete of my youth.

    And I wonder how many other people think about the Christmas cards they don’t get at Christmas.

    Update: Got all nostalgic and made a soundtrack for the post. Enjoy.

    A Mother’s Dilemma

    Saturday, March 12th, 2011

    I read an interesting article this morning on, about girls and sports. The blogger obviously has two very athletic girls who like to play sports; she bemoans the fact that society doesn’t seem to be able to reconcile beauty and unisex athleticism. Interesting, but not exactly a groundbreaking discussion.

    But what about this? What if you are a fairly athletic mom, who grew up playing sports, excelled at many of them, loved playing them, and have a firm understanding of how integral a part they played in the confident adult you have become? What if you want that same confidence and love of exercise for your daughter?

    And what if your daughter couldn’t care less about it?

    My son loves sports, loves competition, and is pretty athletic, picking things up quickly, with great hand-to-eye coordination. My daughter just doesn’t have that same ingrained sense of competition or love of sport.

    She likes to sing. And dance. And color. And sing. There is a lot of singing.

    When I put her on a soccer field, she is oblivious to the ball. She is looking for dandelions in the grass, and perfecting twirling in circles as fast as possible. We say, “Just go out and have a good time.” She says, “I hate soccer.” I am making her play out the season, hoping it will click one day, and knowing it probably won’t, but taking her to the game anyway, because she signed up to be on a team, and at least she is learning something about follow-through and being part of a team, and obligation.

    I want her to do some physical activity every season, to learn to make exercise a part of her life. We have done dance. (Suprisingly, she hated it. Evidently, baby girl doesn’t want someone to tell her how to dance.) We will put her on swim team this summer. If nothing else, she gets cheap swim instruction and a practice with friends every day. If she doesn’t want to swim in meets, we won’t make her.

    I have thought that maybe she might enjoy karate, or something like that, more than team sports or ball sports.

    But there is the dilemma: Am i trying to force something on her that is not in her nature? First and foremost, i am interested in her physical health. Am I wrong to force her to try different sports and activities, in hopes that something will catch her interest? I certainly don’t try to subvert her love of art and music, nor would i want to – they are an important part of who she is. I feel that I nurture those, too, but is it wrong to want to make sure she is physically active and healthy? Or am I doing more damage than good?

    What is a mother to do?

    And, God forbid, what if my daughter ends up wanting to be a cheerleader? Because, you know that is probably what will happen.

    CNN Finally Lost Me, I Think

    Monday, October 11th, 2010

    Wow. Both of the big “news” outlets regularly annoy me with the heavy-handed, pointed interviews. But CNN? You clinched it for me this afternoon.

    No, it wasn’t another Molson-drinking squirrel.

    It was the Rick Sanchez replacement. Brooke Baldwin’s interview with Republican candidate Iott was over the top. I’m not defending this guy’s politics, but way to imply that those who participate in historical reenactment are Nazi sympathizers if they dress up as SS for a reenactment. It’s not like he was wearing this stuff to a costume party; he’s a re-enactor. Icing on the cake? Pointedly drag the guy’s kid into it.

    So, Brooke, when you gonna have Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth on the show to ask about their stints as Nazis on TV in Conspiracy? They dressed up as Nazis. They must be anti-Semites.

    So disappointing and insulting to me as a lover of history. From a journalism and political point of view, I just don’t get it. Is this what it’s come to? Is the Left that desperate? So sad. If you have a problem with the man’s politics, discuss that. (And he tried, in his interview with her, to discuss his campaign with her. She promptly cut him off.) But no, Brooke, choose to grasp at straws and bring the guy’s kid into it, too.

    Brooke followed that up with a hard-hitting story about a guy on fire jumping out of a window. As a stunt. I know how to use YouTube if I want to see people on fire. Don’t worry – I’m not switching over to Fox, but why can’t there be a nice middle-of-the-road news outlet that actually reports real news?

    And most of all, the mud-slinging, and tearing down of those with opposing viewpoints in our country is becoming more and more alarming to me. When is it going to stop, so that we can move forward?