Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

But, no, back on the horse that may throw me.

Well, I’ve just been sitting around on my flukey bootie doing nothing.

I did do some laundry.  But only because I ran out of running gear.  A person needs priorities.

I even went for another bike ride.  Becky is an insidious person and acted like I would be doing her a favor if I rode with her.  Eventually I decided to give it one last try, since I’m registered for a Tri.  Because I’m stupid.  Maybe I should not admit publicly that I’m stupid, but, really, not admitting it doesn’t change it.  Plus it’s rather hard to hide the fact when I just typed “I’m registered for a Tri” because anyone reading that knows immediately that I am stupid.

The reason I didn’t want to ride my bike any more is that I don’t like the feeling of sheer terror.  Call me stupid (I know…) but I just don’t.  I don’t get happy with the adrenaline rush, heart pounding, head throbbing with blood rushing through my brain by the gallon, my body shaking with the flood of fight-or-die hormones.

One weekend when I was in high school a bunch of us, as we sometimes did, had a picnic in the desert.  This was always a day-long affair, everyone driving out in the boonies, kids jumping out of the cars and running all over, moms setting out food and visiting.  The dads would take us all out to some wash and teach us to shoot cans.  My brother had a dirt bike he’d bought with his newspaper route money and the bigger kids took turns riding it around.

It was my turn and I was about a mile from camp, doing no more than 25mph (it had a governor) when I hit a wash and the bike bogged in the sand, so I punched it – just as I also hit a rock with the front tire and the bike came to an immediate and abrupt stop.  I, however, did not stop, going head first over the handlebars, landing on my chin.  Prior to that moment it was never on my radar that a person can break their jaw, but I knew immediately and instinctively that I had.  I also had blood dripping on my shirt from somewhere on my face.

A few months earlier I’d sprained my ankle which necessitated a visit to the ER for an x-ray to be sure it wasn’t broken.   So far in my life – and I hope no further – I have broken my finger, my wrist, my jaw, my toe and my foot; I’ve learned it’s good to go ahead and check.  While there a young man in another room had a nose that would not quit bleeding and they were packing it full of something (cotton?  I don’t know).  That kid was screaming like they were sawing off his foot.

Thus my concern, walking the mile back to camp with a broken jaw which I could not feel because actually I was in shock, was not my jaw, but the source of blood, because I had no intention of ever letting anyone near my nose.  Fortunately it turned out it was just a big gash in my chin from the impact.

By the time we’d driven back into town and stopped at the house to get insurance info the shock had worn off and let me tell you, a broken jaw:  hurts.  Like a mother.

And they would not give me anything for pain in case of head trauma.  I hung around the ER for a few hours while they tended to other people, finally x-raying me, the tech apologizing profusely as he turned my head this way and that.  Yep, broken, up to a room where I dozed off and on, in pain, until the next morning when they set my jaw.  Still un-medicated, because they also needed me able to communicate while they set the jaw.  Which I’m grateful for, I didn’t want a crooked face but – it hurt.

I spent the next six weeks walking around with my mouth wired shut, talking funny and carrying wire cutters because if I ever got a stomach virus or bad food things could get ugly pretty quickly.

That’s the end of the story.

Until a week or two ago, when I met Max.  Mas is a beautiful dog, probably a golden-lab mix, who appeared to be maybe a year old, 80 pounds or so, and newly, deeply in love with me.  He saw me riding Matilda, minding my own business, my HR about 189 since Brain wouldn’t quit thinking about how it would feel to go face first over the handlebars, and he knew we needed to be Best Friends.  Flush with adoration, deaf to his owner’s fervent pleas, Max raced out of his yard and down the street after me, barking his joy and devotion.  I managed to slow before he reached me, getting one foot unclipped before he jumped on me.  The other foot was still clipped, and while he leaned against me in slavish love and his poor owner continued to yell at the now-deaf-with-adoration dog I managed to unclip just in time, catching myself before I went over.

Max suddenly and miraculously had his hearing restored at the exact same time the owner arrived at the scene, apologizing profusely and thanking me for my patience and understanding.  I nodded that I do understand, I also have a dog who suffers event-induced deafness.  And I couldn’t have said anything cranky because my heart was stuck up in my throat doing about 250.

Shaking and shivering I got on the bike and wobbled back home, where I leaned Matilda against the wall, took off my helmet and threw it at the wall, following that with my bike shoes and gloves, swearing loudly with colorful words that it was over.  Sorry, Matilda, that’s the end of the relationship.  It’s not you, it’s me, I want a divorce, you can have the storage shed in the settlement; there you will slowly wither and die, covered with cobwebs and eventually rust.

old bike

I knew – I knew – that Becky would not let it lie.  She was good.  She didn’t say anything.  Like, what?  I’m stubborn?  She and hubs, I know what they are thinking when they get all quiet and don’t mention the elephant in the room.

But she’s so darn little and cute when she gets stubborn, and I didn’t want to make her sad, so I finally put Matilda in the back of the car and drove to meet up near the end of her ride.  Since my biggest worry on the bike is not riding the bike – it’s the sudden and unexpected stop that keeps me in panic mode – I had the brilliant idea of riding in circles and stopping.  There I was, in the St. Phillip parking lot, riding in circles.  Ride – unclip – stop – repeat, while the ladies walking into the church looked at me like I might need an intervention.

“Hi, my name is Terri, and I bike…”

 

Happy Flookie Bootie

It’s my birthday!  I may as well admit it; I’m typing so I’m still breathing, so odds are I’m gonna have one of those at least once this year.

It really is a beautiful day, 60 degrees this morning when I woke, gorgeous sunrise and nothing I had to do, not even a race I needed to work which hasn’t been the case recently.  Here’s a pic of the beautiful morning:

IMG_0390

This photo was taken with an iPhone by a total amateur.

I have no work I have to do, and I have nothing I’m training for, so I can – call me crazy – go for a run with … wait for it … NO GOAL.

Right.  Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out … I know you’re both taken aback, I realize the idea of just going for a run like you were a kid with no responsibilities on a Saturday morning is completely out of character for any real runner and could cost me my card.

But, then, I’m just wild and crazy and there’s no stopping me, as we’ve discussed before so you know what?

Nanner Nanner Boo-Boo.

nanner nanner

That’s What.  This photo was not taken by me with my iPhone.  Thank you, icanhascheezburger.com

Now that  we’ve settled that like three responsible adults, as I said, I decided to go for a run.  Just a run.  That’s it.  Not being a total rebel nor completely insane I did not, however, run nekkid.  Garmin and HR monitor are our friend.  Once I did not wear Garmin and HR monitor and while I was gone Garmin committed GPS suicide.  The next run Garmin refused to charge or find the Mothership.  I cannot bear that type of responsibility.  At this point in my life the goal is shedding responsibility, not taking on more.

Becky batshitcrazy-biker-babe Elkins met me and biked alongside for a few miles.  We ran into (not literally, of course, because that would be rude, right?) April “Honeybadger” Henderson and Donnie “Deacon” Baldock who were at, oh, I don’t know, 87 miles or so.  Becky had to peel off back home so I hung with Donnie and April.

Here in my fascinating narration of the un-run we will stop.  You two go watch the Honeybadger vid linked to April’s name, above.

It’s ok – go on – I can wait.

Eew, that’s so nasty.”

 “Look, it’s eating larvae, that’s disgusting. “

(Just entertaining myself here, go ahead, watch the vid.)

Done?  OK cool.  That’s the end of that part of the story, I wanted you to see the honeybadger vid, the rest was just verbiage to get there.  Otherwise this story would be one word long and probably everyone would be grateful.  To bad, it’s not.

PART TWO

In a vain attempt to distract Donnie and April (running animal beasts), and since we’d about exhausted honeybadger quotes, I thought if they heard a story they would be fascinated and slow down, and also because something reminded me of the story but now I cannot remember what, I told them the story of the day our dog Maxie bit my butt.

Actually he didn’t bite it.  I mean, he did bite it, but it wasn’t really a bite, he was barking.

For some reason I happened to be chasing the twins through the house – for FUN! – they were running in circles laughing and I was chasing behind them laughing and Maxie was running in circles behind me barking.  Unfortunately I had to stop suddenly and Maxie didn’t brake, instead running right into my backside while barking and on the downstroke of the bark he bit my butt.

 It broke the skin and bruised, he had a strong jaw, and I had to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic and get it checked.  It was a bit embarrassing but what can you do?  You have a dog bite on your butt.  It’s not like you can say, oh, look, I think I broke my finger.  They’re pretty much going to have to check things out, if you know what I mean, and they don’t believe you when you say you broke your finger but you actually didn’t.

PART THREE

Two or three weeks later I got a phone call.  The insurance company.  “I understand you were bitten by a dog.”

“Oh, gawd.  Um, yeah…”

“I need to determine if there will be any suits filed in the incident.”

“Right.  No.  It’s OK.”

“Have you made any type of settlement then?”

“Uhhh.  Mmmmm…” so I had to tell another stranger about the dog bark biting my butt, that it happened in my house, to me, and was my fault, so probably I wasn’t suing myself.

“…so you see,” I concluded, “it was just a fluke.”

PART FOUR

Immediately Donnie and April composed a birthday song named after me entitled “Fluke Bootie.”  It goes like this:

FLOOOOOK BOOOOOOOOOOTIE

FLUKEY BOOTY Fluke fluke fluke bootAY

FLOOOOOOKIE Flookie Flook BOOTIE

After that you let the band riff for a while.

PART FIVE

The moral here, Boy and Girl, is never tell anyone your dog bit your butt but it was a fluke.

Well, that sucked. YAY!!!

I did six miles this afternoon and it sucked :-)  I can’t hold a pace under 9:45 without an oxygen mask dropping from the overhead, I’m maxing my HR and my heart looked pretty much like this:

bugs bunnyOnly it wasn’t because I saw a sexy bunny.

This means that, one, I really am back to running because I’m no longer jogging along comfy just for the sake of being on the pavement.  Two, I’m running.  You can’t complain about a run if you can’t run.  Thus I had the very sweet luxury of running along thinking *&^% this SUCKS.  I SUCK.  This run SUCKS, and as I thought it I found myself smiling with the joy of a sucking run.

Again proving runners are #crazynutjobs.  But – we’re happy crazy nut jobs so you gotta love us, right?

This week has sort of sucked.  First, I guess because Jen and I had talked about him, and then I wrote about it, Tuesday night I dreamed of my brother.  I never dreamed of him when he died. I wanted to, I’d have taken any chance to see him even if just in a dream, but it never happened.   This dream was incredibly real.  Nothing special, Bret I were talking, about mom and anything else you’d talk to your brother about if you were in the kitchen one afternoon, and I remember nothing other than that.  Then I woke up, which surprised me because I thought I was awake talking to my brother, and I realized it wasn’t real.  It was SO real, and then it just wasn’t, it didn’t exist, and I started crying.  I couldn’t quit and poor Hubs was lying there patting me on the shoulder.  “Is it Murphy?  Are you upset about Murphy?” but I just kept snorting all over, my pillow wet with tears.  It was, quite frankly, rather stupid.  Here I am, again, with my body doing something I have no control over.  I mean, I tried.  I bit the pillow, I clenched my jaw, I stuffed my face in the pillow – nothing.  Just kept crying, except when I stuffed my face in the pillow because then when I sniffed I kinda choked because of course there was a pillow stuffed into my face.  I guess actually you could say it was successful, in that I did quit crying while I choked.  Anyway, I finally drifted off to sleep still crying and then the next morning I looked like I’d run into a wall.

Du Maurier

When I woke I realized I was going to have to call the Vet about Murph T. Dog because he’d been limping around since Monday afternoon and now he wouldn’t eat or drink, and he kept yelping when he moved wrong.  Mostly he just wouldn’t move at all and I had to lift him into the Explorer and back out of the Explorer and he does weigh about 36 pounds hanging there in my arms, miserable.  Then he pooped on the Vet’s front door step.  “My dog just pooped on your door step,” I announced, carrying the limp bag of dog cement into the office, “do you have some paper towels I can use?”   They were very nice and refused to let me try to pick up poop while holding the aforementioned 36 pounds of useless dog and one of the techs cleaned up my dog’s poop for me.  I’m sure this is not the first time she’s had to do that but I still felt bad.

He has a couple vertebra that have been a problem in the past and sure enough, he hurt it somehow, so they filled him with shots and I carted home two pill bottles about the size of a jelly jar.  He moped around in pain and finally hid under the bed, having eaten one little doggie biscuit and two very large, peanut butter wrapped pills.

Thursday morning he came downstairs almost sort of perky and Chunk was not upset when she saw him so I figured that was a good thing since she gets rather insulted when people don’t feel well, like it’s a bother to her somehow.  “Oh, I’m sorry I’m vomiting out most of my insides, Chunk, I know you find it offensive,” I feel compelled to apologize.  Oddly, despite her complete irritation and disdain for all things sick or injured she is strangely fascinated, roaming about smacking inanimate objects and the offender, yet she refuses to leave their side.   “Smack!  Quit it!,” she seems to be saying and it makes me think she was a neurosurgeon in her past life as my experience with neurosurgeons evidenced about the same level of compassion, not that I’m bitter or angry, just stating facts.

Unfortunately Thursday afternoon he stood up, yelped quite loudly and refused to move, just stood there, head hanging, heart pounding.  Well crap, I thought, maybe he’s ruptured a disc or something.  It was too late to call the vet so I carried him upstairs, he scooted under the bed and never came back out.  In fact he appeared ready to stay under the bed the rest of his life so this morning I had to get the mattress and box springs off the bed and carry him downstairs.  Despite not eating much in the past 48 hours I can attest that he has not lost any weight, and we repeated Wednesday morning only omitting the pooping on the door step, which made me happy.

They knocked him out with a muscle relaxer, Xrayed his back and gave him some different steroids and gave me another big bottle of pills.  Since Murphy was splayed out in a kennel like a freshman at 4am during rush week I left him there and will get him later this afternoon.  The Vet prefers – and we concur – to try to treat this medically.  Surgery is an option but I really hope that is not going to happen.  I expect if you could ask Murphy he’d agree.

So – my week kinda sucked but it’s a luxury to have a sucky week with a tough run and a sick dog because I know a whole bunch of people with way worse things going on, marriages and cancer and death so I think what you should do is ruefully shake your head at this week’s travails and go kiss your loved ones and also kiss your dogs and cats despite the fact you will get hair in your nose and sneeze.

The End.

Lent, Part Two

Well, Boy and Girl, I’m home from the whirlwind tour of Arkansas-oklahoma-texas-newmexico-arizona (reverse and repeat), feeling sleep-deprived and cotton-headed and thoroughly tired of anything Subway can possibly offer, eating our way across the country at Love’s Truck Stop/Subway Exit 27/195/362/35/183/328 ad infinitum. It was a time-warp including little social media as mom has no internet

inconceivable

… and my iPad spent a day in time out when it wouldn’t renew cellular data, leaving me in a social media black hole.

Supermassive_black_hole

OMGawd NO!  I’m fading…fading…

Wait, hold on - Mo’s eating a contract.

Right, I’m back, thanks.  It’s fine, it was the extraneous pages of the contract, nothing important, and he didn’t swallow.  This is why God invented Scotch tape.  It’s nice the Scots got something named after them, too, even though a roll of sticky tape is probably nowhere near as fun as a day-long holiday celebrated with green beer and lots of food and parades and stuff.  A roll of sticky tape…beer…sticky tape…beer…no wonder they play bagpipes.  It’s payback to the rest of the world.

SO.  It’s LENT.  I mean, it’s been Lent for a while now, a couple weeks or so but who’s counting?  I’ll tell you who:  my dear friend who gave up cussing for Lent is counting for sure and by dammit, I can tell you that.  I think you have to be some special kind of stupid to give up cussing.  Not that I think my dear friend is stupid, much, but at least for myself I’m pretty sure cussing saves lives.  St. Patrick’s day falling inside of Lent also makes me happy that I didn’t give up beer.  This has probably also saved lives.

I gave a lot of thought to things coming into Lent – I’ve always liked the idea of time set aside to refocus, for renewal of some sort.  I spent a couple weeks considering and rejecting possibilities.

The week before Lent I was working out with Killer and Brenda.  I was so proud.  I announced cheerfully that I’d decided to give up bitching for Lent.

I was quite confused when they shouted “NO!” in unison.

Brenda followed up by announcing that if I quit bitching she will quit training with me, and Killer seconded the motion by noting she would fire me.

Although slightly disappointed at the reaction I was secretly very relieved because I’m pretty sure giving up bitching would make my Brains explode despite taking my meds on a regular basis (you think I’m kidding).  I amended it to quit bitching at Hubs and almost immediately after this decision I went out of town for 9 days.  Coincidentally I did very well at not bitching.

We had a great visit with my mom, the B’ster was an absolute blast and the best-behaved 4 year old I’ve ever seen.  He played on the iPad for the entire 48-ish hours we spent driving, other than when we were eating or he was asleep.  Mom had such a wonderful time playing with him and it was a huge blessing to see her doing well and getting along fine, rattling around in that big old house by herself.  Next month will be two years since Dad passed and she’s moving forward.

I could not tell you if I think of my brother 14 times a day or once a month.  I have no clue.  I do know that I think of him a lot at times like this, when I’ve been back to Arizona and childhood memories fill so many places.  I seldom remember him with anything but joy and the peace of happy memories.

I don’t even know how it arose, Jen and I talking about Bret and what it might be like if he were still here.  I expect he’d be married, there would probably be nieces or nephews or both.  Maybe I’d even still live in Arizona, who knows what course my life would have taken.  He’d be there to talk to, he’d have been there through everything with dad and he’d be there now to share the weight of worry about mom.

It does no good to think of it unless remembering him can bring joy, but today I struggle, finding tears on my cheeks as I drove to Kroger and again just now, as I write.  I am OK with that, it will pass.  He was joy.  He was laughter and smiles, he was a friend to everyone.  When they say the good die young, they must have known my brother.  Raised by the same parents, I was a mousey, scared, insecure little girl who thought far too much about far too many things.

Maybe what I need to do for Lent is realize we’re all not so different, after all.  Maybe I need to realize that we’re all here with our own struggles, our own memories, our own joys; sitting in our mental glass cubicles looking at everyone else doing so well and not realizing they struggle too, and we’re doing about as well as everyone else.

Bret 001

Bret William Eske

Crossroads

peter gathje

These are the shoes of a homeless man.  These are the shoes he walked in daily.  These are the only shoes he owned.
I own a countless pair of shoes, usually wearing more than one pair of shoes daily.
I run, I come home, I put on other shoes.  If my feet are tired I’ll change shoes.

I’m up since 3am and Brain 1 and Brain 2 refuse to compromise and play well together.  I’m going to visit my mom and I’m sure that’s part of the fireworks in the head, lots of adrenalin and “did I remember…” “Oh, shoot, don’t forget…”

It’s Lent.  As we’ve discussed, I have my issues with organized religion but consider myself deeply spiritual despite the occasional (be honest, frequent) F bombs and Dammits.

This week I had the honor of meeting Dr. Peter Gathje, a man who walks in Christ’s sandals.  He co-administers  or directs (sorry, don’t know the correct title) Manna House of Memphis, which I’ve been following since several summers ago when there was an article in the Commercial Appeal.  It was an extremely hot summer.  The article was about the homeless that Manna House serves and their need for shoes, preferably athletic – when you think about it, giving a homeless man a pair of worn out leather dress shoes is not all that helpful if he’s going to be walking miles around downtown daily – and tech shirts, since it was so hellishly hot.

Since I sometimes hang around with runners, I posted that I would collect shoes at one of the RRS 5 milers.  Runners, being the incredibly awesome people they are, left dozens of shoes by my car which I toted to Manna House, dropped them off and left.  I have continued to gather stuff when I can and have toted more stuff down to Manna House, little tiny drops in a huge bucket.

I’ve mostly come to peace with my issues, but it’s Lent, which I’ve always loved, so the wrestling match in my brains heats up.  God, as he does, won’t let go and has shaken things up – again.  Two “chance” encounters at stores I seldom visit and a box of shoes and t-shirts, these are the conversations God and I have had this week.

I know this is vague and likely rambling but thank you, angels, for being where you were supposed to be when you were.  The tangled ball of yarn continues to unwind and you were His agents.  I’m looking forward to learning where the journey will go.  And if this path goes no further I still thank you, Dr. Gathje, and F, and S, for being there at this crossroad.

AT&T: How I Learned to Stop Internet and Love Tech Help

A few miles south of the Canada/North Dakota border there is a field in which cattle roam among the remains of a Depression-era farm, three sides of an ancient barn leaning nearly perpendicular and the crumbled circular foundation of a corn silo the only evidence of a life or lives long gone.

Or are they?

Look closer.  That crumbled foundation is a clever disguise hiding the rumored-but-never-proven Top Secret Headquarters of the AT&T Customer Service Department.

Deep below the earth are two pale, thin men.  Men who spent their high school years winning the Science Fair and inventing robots to do their Spanish homework.  Men who, despite their most sincere efforts, could not fathom the intricacies of asking a female to the Prom, reduced to quivering, slavering mutes.

These are the few, the special, the cream of the technical service industry crop, carefully vetted by the “Home Ec” teacher, in actuality a member of the top echelon at ATT Customer Service.

Years of secrecy, years of scrabbling up the TechServ ladder, learning to play those life-or-death politics, the two men became a team so bonded, so close they finished each other’s sentences, “Thank you for calling AT” “& T”.  Seamless.  Desperately plotting, playing the dirty warfare of TechServ, they eventually triumphed.

Finally they landed in this North Dakota field, 20 degrees below zero, wind screaming, blinding snow blowing sideways; a moment etched forever in their collective mind.  This was their nadir, their Olympic Gold, their Stanley Cup.   Down, down they descended, thousands of feet, emerging from the elevator into a brightly lit hallway, Muzak softly playing their team song, “Muskrat Love.”

Daily they review US hot spots.  Is there an energy crunch?  Snow/ice storm?  Season Finals or the Golden Globes?  Tax time?  This morning they peered gleefully over the reports, clapping their fish-belly-pale hands and bouncing on their little toes.  “OH, lookie, um, ‘BENJAMIN’”, one tech squealed, “ICE!  SNOW!  Hundreds of thousands affected!”

“Benjamin” trilled, “Oh, um, ‘SAMUEL’, how awesome!  And – it’s  Monday too!”

“Benjamin” and “Samuel”, clutching their AT&T 1998 “A Team” mugs full of weak, tepid tea, headed to the console, all the while sighing happy little squeeeees.

The console was blinking like the Rockefeller Square Christmas Tree and the boys knew very well what that meant, millions of customers pressing 1 for service, 2 for billing, 3 for a new account, painstakingly entering their 10-digit service number on the minuscule screens of their cell phones, only to be asked to re-enter the number for security purposes.  A happy little shiver went up their spines and they giggled.

OH, no – it always happened.  As good as the boys are, and they are the best, someone always manages to get through eventually.  It’s usually an accident although mashing the zero button 32 times will always work – but few people know about that one.

“Thank you for calling AT&T customer service where we are here to serve your customer needs may I have the number about which you are calling?”

“Thank you.  And is there another number I can reach you should we get …”

“oops,” they giggle, remembering first grade and that incident with their underwear.

The boys know there are always a few – usually the ones who’ve had far too much strong coffee – who will return, and they are prepared for that.  It’s not for nothing they are here, sealed below the earth forever, turning paler and paler, marking names off in the 10,000,000 Baby Names for Your Child book.

“Thank you for calling AT&T customer service where we are here to serve your customer needs may I have the number about which you are calling?”

“Thank you.  Is there another number I can reach you should we get disconnected?”

“Thank you.  What seems to be the issue today?”

“Thank you.  I understand that you are saying you have no service?”

“Thank you.  I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.  Please hold one minute while I test your line.”

“Thank you.   I have tested your line and have determined that the issue is that you have no service.”

“Thank you.   I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue. Have you unplugged everything, stood on your head, stuck carrots in your ears and whistled ‘Dixie’?”

“Thank you.   I see that you have indeed stood on your head, stuck carrots in your ears and whistled ‘Dixie’.   Am I correct that this did not resolve your problem?”

“Thank you.   I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.   Please unplug everything again, this time count to 100 in German and turn three times clicking your heels.”

“Thank you.  I see that you have indeed counted to 100 in German while turning three times clicking your heals.  Am I correct that this did not resolve your problem?”

“Thank you.  I understand you have had an ice storm there and believe that your service has been interrupted due to that and you simply want to report the issue.  Oh, please, Mrs. Clarke, please don’t make that noise.”

Benjamin snickers.  He hears the Keurig engage and the sound of a thumb being sucked.

“Thank you.  I’ve scheduled your service appointment for Thursday, Juvember 32nd.  Thank you for calling AT&T, I hope I have been helpful.  You will soon get an automated phone call to determine the level of service you’ve received.  Please consider giving me “Excellent” in every category as anything else will not count and my paralyzed child, Little Timmy, will starve.  Have a nice day.”

I’m sorry I spit on your dog…

…but at least she is nice and furry so it froze to fur, not skin, on this cold morning with a wind chill of 15 degrees.  I can’t feel too bad about that temperature, however, as this afternoon it is 17 degrees with a feel like of 1 in downtown Chicago, where my son is probably questioning what the hell he is doing.  Certainly you can write code in Hawaii or Florida.

I’ve hooked up with a new running group!  I just started last week.  This week’s workout popped up in my inbox:

W/U
4 strides
15 min tempo
4 amphitheater hills
C/D

This is very sweet and I find it encouraging that anyone thinks I have more than one pace right now, not that I care.  I’m running.  I don’t give one spit how fast or slow at this point.  And – I finally got cold weather bragging rights, all these winter days I’ve sat inside, jealous of others running and posting pics of their eyelashes glistening white with ice.

Sadly, my eyelashes did not freeze this morning.  Although I don’t really want my eyelashes to freeze, I do want the bragging rights and hold hope it could still happen.

The *ahem* “warm up” consisted of plowing up a hill into the biting wind so I hit 90% HR by 1/2 mile.  That’s OK, I’m good, walk a little recovery and start again.  And again, and again, and every day in every way I’m getting better and better.

I ran in the cold and I liked it (I liked iii-it) except I got a bit phlegm-y.  While we stood around deciding which way to go (since the wind was bogarting 90% of any possible direction), I did what any good runner would do and spit a loogie.  It had a nice arc and distance – and impeccable timing, as just then furry black Quianna ran past.

“Did you just spit on the dog?” asked my friend.

“Yeah, I think I did,” I replied, patting around trying to find it and wipe her off, but I couldn’t find it in the dark on the black dog.

I happily finished five miles and headed to the cars with the group.  Lucia walked by with Quianna.  There was my frozen spit shining on her fur, glistening in the rising sun.

“Is that your spit frozen on my dog?” asked Lucia.

I tried to rub it off but it was frozen fast.   “That’s OK, she’ll probably jump in the lake anyway,” Lucia said, and sure enough, she did.  I guess dogs don’t bother getting all worked up over weather.com, they just take it as it comes and figure there’s a warm blanket waiting for them.

Since I didn’t get enough of all that, I headed to Killer’s for a workout, where my training buddy and I both had just enough energy to spit and not much else.  It was ugly, but we got it done and then I headed to Lucia’s for a session.

The producers of Biofreeze have asked me to extend their sincere thanks to Killer and Lucia.  I shall now liberally apply a third layer of Biofeeze and limp off to the couch for a much-needed nap.  I leave you with the picture of my friend’s shoes which will probably be much less jolly when they find out that despite her neatly (OCD) lining them up as though waiting for another run they’re all actually going to the donation bucket.  Always be sure your shoes are happy, no matter where they’re going.

shoes

It’s a Beautiful Day

It’s a beautiful day, indeed.  This morning I watched the houses across the cove glowing slightly golden in the sunrise as the sky grew bluer, the lake truly smooth as glass although it sounds trite; my soul as smooth and calm as the lake’s surface.

This is the day I’ve struggled toward these past few months, a morning when Brain has decided to quit stomping on the ICK button it’s been stuck on for so long, a day for silent contemplation of the sound of the birds as they flit back and forth, for looking closely at the soft fuzzy buds on the dogwood, for soft, slow, deep, calm breaths.

In the dark night I felt Chunker curled up in the curve of my neck and shoulder, something she did always as a kitten but then stopped.  I don’t know why, perhaps to roam, as she grew into a cat and became more nocturnal.  I reached my hand to her fur, so incredibly soft, the softest cat I’ve ever had.  She stretched her paw to my hand and purred and I drifted calmly to sleep.

It’s easiest, of course, when I can keep it simple but, like most, I seldom do.  Or can.  But I can continue to strive.

Sometimes as I struggled to find a solution to this pain I wondered – more frequently than sometimes, actually – often I worried that I was simply a wimp, that others hurt just as much but don’t show it, they are stronger somehow, they feel pain but don’t succumb as I did.

Perhaps that’s part of my peace this morning.  I’m going to try running ten (very easy, slow) miles with Becky this morning.  I think I can do this.  As I was setting out my bottle, charging my Garmin, and eating my breakfast my mind lingered only on the thought of taking it slow and getting it done, and I realized I had not thought once of how much it would hurt.

It’s a beautiful day
The sun is shining
I feel good
And no-one’s gonna stop me now, oh yeah

It’s a beautiful day
I fell good, I fell right
And no-one, no-one’s gonna stop me now
Mama

Sometimes I feel so sad, so sad, so bad
But no-one’s gonna stop me now, no-one
It’s hopeless – so hopeless to even try.

Mindfulness

The human mind fascinates me.  Who’s in charge?
Do my thoughts control me?
Do I control my thoughts?
Do I generate those thoughts?
Or are my thoughts knee-jerk reaction to external or internal experience?
Are we truly centered in our life, our bodies, our thoughts, our perceived world?

Perhaps not as much as we think.

I was shaken yesterday to realize I do not even perceive the true center of my physical body.  I’m currently near the end of a series of Rolfing sessions, a fascinating journey in which Lucia is attempting to reverse decades of weaknesses and compensation.  It was not a surprise to learn she was an art major in college as she re-sculpts my body, an artist in the physical world, an artist of healing and health.

At the end of yesterday’s session I stood as she visibly measured my form and alignment.  “Put your feet together and close your eyes.”

I did, feeling my body waver side-to-side slightly, trying to find balance.  I assumed it was the ongoing issue of the left-side weakness.

“Open your eyes.  Did you feel that?”

“Yes, I’m still not balanced.”

“Your mind perceives the center of your body to be slightly to the right of center.”

My frame is bent and I’m pulling to the right, which explains the excessive wear on the right front tire.  Only it’s not the frame that’s bent, it’s the engine.

As I sit struggling to put this into words that make sense I gaze out the window.  My desk and monitor are centered on the desk directly in front of the center frame of the window.  I have just realized that every time I look out the window, I look out the right window.  So, ruminating, hoping for words to fall into the proper slot, I shift my gaze to the left window and am immediately physically uncomfortable.  Even as I watch trees swaying slightly, birds flitting, I want to look away to the right although there is nothing any different on that side of the yard.

It’s entirely possible the right side of my body has been compensating for the past 25 years for that ankle injury.  Lucia thinks it’s likely, and it makes sense to me.  Six month pregnant with twins, my body was trying to figure so much stuff out every day that I’m sure it was taking the easiest route.  A year later when I resumed running my left foot and ankle did hurt when I ran; certainly my body could have shifted a bit of the weight and effort to the un-injured right side and this could have become a 25-year habit.

We have other 25-year habits, do we not?  A lifetime since high school still slightly stung by the rejection of the popular kid, the other guy getting starting quarterback, overweight or acne-faced, shy?  Decades of remembering a stinging review by the boss?  And ZING that sucker flies through your brain he said – I didn’t – they should have - and you are right back there as real as this moment.

I went to a Centering Prayer retreat once.  All I brought home was a huge sense of frustration.  I’ve thought about that.  I would describe myself as deeply spiritual  although I no longer go to church for far too many reasons than I care to explore here.  I’m still climbing those steep cliff sides with a hit-or-miss trail to follow, clinging to the mountain trying to work forward, upward, and I have not come to many places to rest and look back, yet.

You have to wait.  You can’t bring those restful places to yourself, you must sit in your spiritual waiting room staring at the same irritating picture of your dorky school kid self, the out-dated magazines of memories; sitting, waiting for an appointment that you do have but the date and time are in a foreign language.  The world is full of waiting rooms if we will take advantage of them and open our eyes to the scene:  a lonely run, time in silence or meditation, the carpool line, anywhere.  You must move forward through each day and try to practice mindfulness, try to center in the moment and not the moment of last night or lunch with your friend today.

Am I being the best I can be in this moment?  Can I let go of everything else?

I say this.  I say to do this.  And I do it.  About once a month for 13 seconds.

Again we return to running.  This is why running is so important to me.  When I run alone I am out of all the other locations of living.  I’m out of my house/office, I’m out of my car, the grocery, I’m out.  Just me and feet and moving.  I try to look at the trees, at the pavement, at the sky, to suck in life.  I am frequently desperate to do this, to get outside of this horrid brain that creates a life that is not real, that drives me despite myself, creating Grand-Canyon-deep habits, and all the while I think I’m in charge.

This popped up in my life a few weeks ago and I’ve held onto it, considering it.  At this point in time, for me, this is the best explanation of God that I have found.  Please see the entire post for the full concept.

“What may be a little more difficult to distinguish is that the energy that forms the cells of your body, and the energy that causes that body to be alive, and the energy that is sparking around inside your head attempting to make the distinction, are all the same.  Nothing exists in the universe, either in reality or in our perceptions of it, other than energy.  If you were to take all this energy and try to imagine it in its entirety, the result would be God… By thinking that “god” is primarily concerned with ourselves, we establish in our minds a convenient level of importance that in reality does nothing more than skew our perceptions of everything else.  Does this mean we are not important? Does this mean we are not creations of God (from an evolutionary standpoint)?  No it does not.  It means that the magnitude of what our dogmatic religions have been trying to tell us is much more profound than we ever imagined: God is not the Creator of all things, GOD IS ALL THINGS.”

Ice Ice Baby

My South Dakota relatives are probably incredulous watching winter news from the south.  My cousin noted on December 23, 2013:  “Good morning from probably the coldest place in the USA. We were a balmy -22 degrees this morning with wind chill of -40 degrees. Aberdeen, SD.”

Here’s a pic of his drive to work last month:

Warner, January 2014Those War of the Worlds aliens are hovering pretty close.

Having grown up in Phoenix I’m spoiled.  It rains about 7 times a year.  Some of those days it rains 3 inches in an hour.  Another hour or two and the water is all gone, sun shining.  During that one hour several vehicles will disappear in intersections filled with five feet of water, but you only have to deal with it for an hour or two.  And odds are good that you won’t be one of the few cars swallowed.  Then, back to sunshine and birdies and puffy clouds floating around.

Silhouette woman run under blue sky with cloudsThis photo, purported to be real (but really, who can you trust?  Me, or Them?), can be viewed here, which is a site about running in Arizona.
You know, in case you get to live there.
Jerk.

Meanwhile most of the US is being repeatedly pounded by Snowmaggedon and Icemaggedon.  There is not a loaf of bread to be found in a five-county area and I don’t care because I know where the beer is, nice and frosty cold.  It took my friends hours to get to work today, here in Memfo, because we are suffering under a catastrophic ice storm.  I repeat:  Catastrophic.  Ice.  Storm.

ICE IN MEMPHIS

This is why we cannot have nice toys.  I actually slipped on that ice.  Yes, I did.  I slipped on 1/32″ of ice.

Thus, ice as the South experiences it:

ice

TotalTrafficMem (which would be more properly named TotalTrafficMayhem) has tweeted at least 60 incidents of Bumper Cars this morning.  Many probably looked like this (below, 64 & Davies).  We don’t have the equipment, Memphis has a couple of salt trucks which manage to cover major intersections and the loop.  We also don’t have experience driving in weather, and the precipitation was so light you simply cannot see it.

64&Davies

I’m renting a car that looks eerily like the little blue Bumper Car up there, and while I’ve got ShuBootAh on reserve in the back of my closet I have no desire to ever enlist her services again, so I’m staying in for the day.  I’m not driving or running anywhere, and I’m going to spend some time trying to memorize this weather to pull out next July.

inferno

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