Only If Someone Is Chasing Me….

That’s what I used to tell people when asked if I “run.”

What follows is a post that I began writing some weeks ago. It was intended to be light, and funny. But then stuff happened, and I’m not getting into that here. You know all about it, unless you’ve been living off of the grid or under a rock. Essentially, I found the post to seem trite and silly and bandwagon-y after the fact. I wasn’t going to post it.

I changed my mind. Here it is…..

I’ve been working on Couch to 5K for almost three years…. If you aren’t already familiar, this is the program (abbreviated C25K) that is supposed to get you from couch potato to a 5K in 9 weeks, or something like that.

The program itself is really quite effective if you stick to it. Obviously, I didn’t. There were enormous gaps in training. I often skipped weeks, even months, so the program cannot be blamed for my exceedingly slow progress.

Finally, this past Thanksgiving, my sister convinced me to register for a 5k “fun run”. I ran it…
That’s a lie. I totally walked half of it. But, it inspired me to register for a few 5K in the spring.

Recently, I ran another 5K… With Frances the dog. She does run with me sometimes… Sometimes as in, once a month on deserted streets, where the only distraction is the occasional squirrel. I’m not sure why I thought that bringing her to a 5K was a great idea. Lots of people, lots of dogs, lots of exciting things to see and smell. So even though she heels relatively well, it was all too overwhelming to expect her to run in an orderly fashion… Anything resembling a straight line would have been grand. My shoulder was stiff from trying to reign her in. Dogs are competitive by nature. Frances believes that if a dog passes her, she is obligated to give chase… Which is great, except that she is attached to a leash which is attached to me… And I am neither obligated nor capable of catching that faster dog. I’m just trying to finish.

Fortunately, as she (and I) tired, it became easier to keep her moving forward at a reasonable speed. We finished. But next time, I’m leaving her home.

So what have I learned about running? All the things that my running friends have said were true. (I recognize that I just lost half of you, the half that are squarely in the “Only if someone is chasing me” category. That’s cool. I get it. I was there yesterday.) When I get to run, my mood is better, my head is clearer,I have more energy and the world seems to be a better place. There’s the added bonus of being fitter than I have been in years. In fact, I can’t find a down side…. except possibly the fact that I get pretty darn grumpy if I miss an opportunity to run.

I won’t break any speed records (ever, I was, quite literally, passed by a guy in a wheelchair being pulled by 2 huskies at my last 5k), and I won’t go any impressive distances (Hey, I only just got to a point where I can run 5k without needing a gurney)… heck, I’m still not comfortable calling myself a runner. I run. I’m not sure when I’ll get to be a runner. But until then, I’ve found something that makes me a better me… at least for now.

If you’re thinking about running, there are a ton of resources available, although my personal favorites are the people I already know and love (my sisters and my friends) and the Another Mother Runner website.

For some reason, it made me think of you…

I received a package recently all the way from The Netherlands, courtesy of the Fabulous Miss Libby. It said, simply, “for some reason, it made me think of you…”
It is a case for my iPhone, and it looks like this:

It’s completely awesome. I love Beaker.
But I wondered, why did she think of me when she saw it? Was there a resemblance? I wasn’t sure, so I took this picture:

Hmmmm…. Maybe. I see some resemblance around the eyes. What if I had red hair?

What do you think? We could totally be related. But I don’t think that’s where the inspiration came from.

So, to further my research, I watched some Beaker clips on YouTube.
This is Beaker doing Ode To Joy.
Two things come to mind watching this.
First is Beaker’s characteristic “Meep” or “Me”, I hear “meeee” mostly in that piece, which reminds me of the first time hubs and I watched Finding Nemo. It was the moment that he really understood my love of seagulls. Yes. I love seagulls… And pigeons. Shut it.
Second is how Beaker is always reluctantly participating in mishaps that end in some sort of catastrophe. I totally get him. Like this.

Whatever the reason Miss Libby, I do love Beaker, always have. And you totally made my day by thinking of me from clear across the globe.

For an extra layer of fun, the kids hate it, which makes me laugh all the more.
Bear: mommy, you phone is broken! Fix it! *pointing to Beaker’s face*
Buddy: mom, I liked your old cover better. I don’t like that guy.

Hmmmmm…. Maybe they won’t ask to play with it so often any more.
Insert evil laughter here.

I keep it a mess on purpose… So that it’s livable.

There was an appliance repair man here today to fix what turned out to be the ice maker on my refrigerator. He spent much time discussing planned obsolescence of appliances and lamenting how difficult it is to be a repair man these days when appliances are generally built to be disposable.

The man knows his appliances, and he likes to talk… Very much. At one point he sat down at the island to make a call about a replacement part. He casually swept some of the junk aside so there was enough room for his papers and smiled.

“Thanks for having a livable house,” he said.

“you mean messy?” I asked

“No. Livable. Sometimes I go into houses that look like show houses and it’s hard to imagine that people live there at all. Houses like this… You know that people live here with their families, and spend time together. You’re not afraid to touch things, because the people actually use their stuff. It’s not just for show…. People live here.”

Yeah… He probably says that to all the ladies.

But I don’t mind.

Ps- next post I’m going to leave the autocorrect mayhem intact, then post the proper translation. Just for fun. Because blogging on my iPad until I get a new laptop is an adventure.

Every Rose…

I mentioned in my last post our guinea pigs, Daisy and Rose.

Weeelllllll…..*sigh*….. Rose has ummmm… passed on.  Poor little thing.

I have acknowledge that I never warmed up to Rose in the few short weeks she was with us.  She was distant and aloof while Daisy is inquisitive and spirited.  In hindsight, I recognize that Rose was distant because she wasn’t feeling well.  Damn you, prey animals, and your insistence on survival by way of pretending that you aren’t sick.  Pneumonia.  If I had caught it sooner, we might have been able to save her.  We tried, her vet tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.  RIP small one.

After I finished the required exercise in self-loathing for letting the creature down, I turned my thoughts to the next problem at hand: what to tell the kids.  Especially, what would I tell Goose.  Rose was her pig, as Daisy is Buddy’s. I momentarily wished  for a religion to reference.  There wasn’t much time to figure it out.  I had to pick up the children from school and they would immediately ask about Daisy and Rose, and I would need to tell them.

So I did.

On my way to pick them up, my stomach did flips, and I felt panicky.  How would they take it?  Would they understand?  I wanted to find a stand-in Rose to make it all go away, but resisted.  A substitute is just that: a substitute.  It would be a cop-out.  What would I say?

I arrive at school, and pile the kids into the car.  They see the carrier and ask.

“Did Daisy and Rose go to the doctor today?”  Buddy asks.

“Yes,” I answer.

“Are they sick?” asks Goose.

Here it comes.

“Well,” I say, “Daisy is just fine. But Rose passed away.”

I immediately hate myself for using a euphemism.

“Is she still at the doctor?  Is the doctor going to make her better?” Goose asks.

“Well, technically she’s still there, but the doctor can’t make her better. What I mean is: she was too sick, and…”

“Then when she’s better, she’ll come home again.”  It was a statement, not a question.  She was sure.

I sigh.

“No, Lovey. Rose was too sick.  She was so so sick that the doctor couldn’t make her better, even though the doctor tried really hard to help.  But 100 doctors can’t fix Rose.  Rose died.  That means that we can never see her again.  She’s gone…. forever.”

I’m trying not to be dramatic, but want to make sure that they understand that “died” means Rose isn’t coming back.  They stare at me in silence.

“Soooo,” I continue, ‘”what we need to do is take really extra extra good care of Daisy so that Daisy doesn’t get sick, too.  Can you guys help me take great care of Daisy?”

“Sure, mommy.  But where did Rose go?” Goose asks earnestly.

“Well, that’s a tough question to answer, but ummm…” I stammer for a second when Buddy interjects.

“Can we get Daisy a new friend?”

“No.  Not yet.  Not until we make sure that Daisy is well and strong.  Then, possibly.”  I pause. “Maybe in a few months.”

Buddy looks thoughtful for a moment and says, “Don’t worry, Goose.  We can share Daisy, and we’ll take really good care of her. And when she’s really strong, we can get her a new friend.  We’ll name her ‘Share’.” (Note: SHARE not Cher, as people have thought in the oral telling of this tale)

“Buddy, I think that would be a beautiful name for Daisy’s friend.” I tell him.

“I think so, too.” Goose nods.

And that was it.  No tears.  No awkward explanations.  They haven’t asked any more questions and I’ve decided to let it be until they do.  They are only 3, after all.   Thank goodness I  have them to remind me that most things aren’t as complicated as they might seem.

Topped it off with a pair of old shoes…

The other day I stopped at the pet store on my way to work to pick up a few things for Daisy and Rose.

Daisy and Rose are our new guinea pigs.  They are adorable.  Daisy is inquisitive and comical.  Rose is shy but feisty. I’ve never had guinea pigs before.  They are interesting little critters. You’ll no doubt hear more about them at a later time.

Back to the point: I arrived at the store about 10 minutes before it opened, so I waited in my car for a bit.  There’s a man standing outside the store.  I’d guess he’s mid to late thirties.  He is unremarkable, just a guy waiting for the pet store to open.

At 9am, I get out of my car and approach the door.  It’s still not open.  In a completely uncharacteristic move, I decide to speak to the man.

“Hmmmm, My watch says 9am.  Guess they aren’t feeling punctual this morning.” I say.

The man smiles, “I guess not.  My watch says 9, too.”

An employee appears and opens the door.  I walk in and head to the rodent section.  A moment later, the man by the door appears next to me.  I think briefly that it is a nifty coincidence that we are both looking for rodent supplies, but beyond that I pay no attention.

‘Excuse me,” he says, “can I ask where you got those shoes?”

I look at my shoes, thinking that I only own one cute pair and I don’t remember putting them on today.  I am correct.  I am wearing a pair of incredibly plain brown flats which are showing signs of wear at the toe.

“Easy Spirit.” I say, a little puzzled that he is asking about my shoddy shoes.

“Oh,” he says.  “My friend is coming back from Iraq for a few weeks and I wanted to get her a pair of shoes.  Those are nice. Very casual.  I’m not from around here.  Where is that?”

“Oh, it’s at Colonie Center.”

“Oh, okay,” he answers. “What kind of insole do they have?”

I cock my head to the side a bit like a dog that just heard a strange sound. “Ummmm… I don’t know, just regular insoles.”  I slip my foot out of the shoe to show him.

He muttered something about what type of insole it is, thanks me and disappears.

Only after he disappears, does it truly hit me how exceptionally odd that whole exchange was.  It is only then that I realize that I just took my shoe off in a pet store to show a stranger the insole.  It is only then do I realize that he probably has some sort of foot fetish and I’m a dolt for not being more astute.

I think about this for a few moments and try to decide how I feel about it.  Am I offended?  Do I feel violated?  I conclude that it doesn’t really bother me, but that it probably should.  He was pleasant enough.  He isn’t stalking me.  Ultimately, no big deal. I hope I somehow improved his day.

I recall now that these little conversations are the reason that I rarely engage or even make eye contact with strangers.  It seems like when I do, it takes a turn for the bizarre.  On the other hand, it probably tends to go that way because I seem to attract odd people.  Birds of a feather, I suppose….


Life is a Highway: The Car Chronicles

I recently enjoyed a splendid evening in the company of dear friends, during which, we discussed some of the cars we’ve had and loved over the years.  It’s been on my mind since, so I thought I’d chronicle here my current and past vehicle relationships.

There’s a bond between a girl and her car that runs deep and often transcends reason.

I’ll start at the beginning with my very first car… It was 1992, I was 16, and the car was a 1985 (I think) Chevy Cavalier Type 10 hatchback in an off-white color, standard transmission.  She had a name, but I cannot recall it.  It’s driving me crazy for 2 days now.  If any of you knew me while I owned that car and can recall her name, please share.  I would sleep easier if I remembered.

This car was special.  Not just because it was my very first taste of freedom and independence, but because it was such a giant piece of crap.  Let me start by pointing out that there were large patches of Bondo on both doors.  Really very attractive.  I never locked it.  And if a friend thoughtfully locked it for me, I couldn’t get back into the car because the only key that I had did not fit the locks.  No worries, though.  You see, the latch on the hatchback was also broken and could only be opened by way of a carefully placed screwdriver, so I carried one always.

My father worried by my inability to lock my car on campus and holes in the interior door panels in an attempt to “fix” the problem with the locks.  Unfortunately, the locks remained a problem, but whatever trickle of heat the car put out in winter could easily escape through the wind sucking door-holes.  Thanks.

The radio… Ahhh, yes… the radio, the most important part of the car to my 16 year old mind.  It was intermittent.  But most of the time, a well placed knock on the dashboard would have me singing along again without missing more than a few lines.

The horn?  It sounded alternately like a dying animal or flatulence, then it finally quit altogether.

She ate tires every few months.  I just kept buying used ones, over and over and over, because they were all I could afford.

She had radiator “issues”… as in: I kept antifreeze and stop leak in the back seat next to the spare quarts of oil.  It’s really impressive that she carried me back and forth to college for as long as she did.  I loved that car… but by… hmmm… maybe 1996? Was it?  I was ready to move up to my 1991 Pontiac Grand Am.

Sadie.  She was blue and an automatic.  She had a sunroof, which would eventually leak.  That car saw me get married and buy a house, but she didn’t have much personality.

Then there was Pearl, a used Plymouth Voyager.  Yes, I really did own a mini van in my early twenties, well before I had kids.  Why?  I was active in greyhound rescue at the time and used it to haul dogs around.  It was very practical and I wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about driving it although I probably should have been.

Then there was Camilla, the hand-me-down Corolla, who also had no personality.  And she was followed by a pair of Mazda Protege 5s.  A pair, you ask?  Yes.  There were two of them.  It’s a traumatic tale but I’ll give you the shortest possible version.

Mona was my very first brand new car.  A black Protege 5.  I was very excited to have a new car.  Something that only I have ever driven.  Mona was also the first car I had that never slept outside.  My husband cleaned out a garage bay just for her.  I can’t remember the year anymore.  Must have been early in the 2000’s.  I took good care of that car.  I think she was about a year and a half old when I took her to a dealership for warranty service.  She had to stay for a few days.  I told the shop manager that she needed to sleep indoors.  He thought I was mad.  I probably am.

He called me the next day asking if I had taken the car.

“Ummmm…. no.  You have the car.”  I said.

“Okay, ma’am.  Don’t panic, but I have no choice but to call the police and report this car stolen.”

“I’m sorry…. what???”

Yes.  An unscrupulous employee had stolen my car off of the lot and taken it for a joyride.  It was found later that day, 200 miles later, in a seedy part of town.  There was a bottle of sunscreen in the backseat (that was not mine) and some greasy hand prints on the hood from when the perp was arrested. Ewwwww.  I couldn’t drive it again.  Over dramatic?  You bet.  I was not driving that car again. Period.  So the dealership gave us a good deal on another new one.  It was silver because that was the only new one left on the lot.  I called it “Kestrel”, but we never bonded.  It felt like a tainted relationship from the outset.

After that fiasco, when it came time for a new car, I knew exactly what I wanted.  And I got it.  Her name was Lorraine.  She was a red Camry with all the bells and whistles.  That car made me happy. Crazy happy.  Brand new and beautiful.  I called her Lorraine because it was a grown up sounding name but still a little bit sexy.  And that’s what this car was to me.  Hubby and I were talking about starting a family and Lorraine would be able to accommodate a child too.  I was in love…. except when the child finally arrived, there wasn’t one, there were two.  And while Lorraine could carry them, she couldn’t carry anything else.  There wasn’t room for a bag of groceries between the car seats, the stroller and the diaper bag.  She just wasn’t big enough. *sigh*

So we bought a minivan.  Only this time I was embarrassed.  I hated everything about having to drive a minivan and every soccer mom cliché that it represents.  I wanted a black one.  I figured that if I had to drive a minivan, it should at least be black so I could pretend I was part of the A-Team.  I contemplated getting a red stripe added on later…. except that the one we bought wasn’t black.  It’s green.  Pea green.  It’s hideous.  This did not seem like a fair trade to me… my Lorraine for this… icky green van.  It’s just so wrong.  I’m too cool to drive a minivan.

But it is so practical.  Even though I want to hate it, it just makes sense.  I hassle my husband about it all the time, how I gave up my beautiful Camry for this van and the injustice of it all.  I’ve claimed that I would never name it because I have no attachment to it whatsoever.

But it has grown on me…. as shown by the frequency of swagger wagon references (I still want spinners).  And don’t tell my husband, but I call her “Joanie”.

The Cosmic Hula Hoop

Being widely considered quirky (“quirky” is so much sunnier than eccentric or weird) has advantages. I occasionally find random gifts on my desk from people who saw this or that oddball thingamajig and thought that I’d just love it… whatever it is…. And they are usually right.

Recently when I opened my office door, I discovered, to my giddy delight, a beat up, hot pink Cosmic Hula Hoop on my desk. I cannot see a hula hoop without immediately saying, “You know, for kids.” (From the movie: The Hudsucker Proxy)

After my Tim Robbins impression, I grabbed the hula and shook it to see if the lights still worked. One of three lights is still functional. Better than none. And then… I gave it a whirl.

I don’t think it completed one revolution before it hit the floor, but naturally that one brief revolution was long enough for a coworker to spot me. I probably should be embarrassed, but it was just too hilarious. I tried again and again but just could not get into a hula-groove.

So I started asking every person I saw to take a crack at it. Some declined, but some are pretty gifted hula-hoopers. Who knew? Who knew so many people could be crammed into a small office with a hula hoop and come out without injuries?

I have photographed the victims…er… Participants for display at the upcoming office holiday party. Muahahaha.

I really do work, it’s not all play, but sometimes it’s a stressful place and that hula hoop has an amazing uplifting effect on people.  Whether they actually try it or not, even the most somber people can’t help but grin when asked to give it a go.

I even got the phone repair man to do it, but I promised him I wouldn’t post the pictures on the internet and I’ll stay true to my word…. But it was most definitely hilarious.

If the article below is any indicator, it’s good exercise as well as being good fun. 🙂

Maybe they should remake The Hudsucker Proxy and change the line to, “You know, for burned out adults.”