Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Folsom to Sacramento Playlist

So I just ran a marathon. Aside from the fact it represented a goal for me (being the 20th and I wanted to run 20), running a marathon isn't a huge deal if you're healthy and you're prepared to spend more time training than sleeping, drinking, or a host of other activities you probably enjoy.

It was a lot of work to get to 20 and not just because of the physical effort. If you're someone who is internally critical of yourself, it's difficult to spend time on a course surrounded by a bevy of individuals who are younger, faster, stronger, more fit, thinner than you or with better war stories. By the way, if by chance the runner is older, heavier, weaker, or less physically able than you, you often feel even worse about your performance. (I'm particularly looking at you, amazing runners who are geriatric, blind, missing limbs, pregnant, or recovering from major surgery.)

This weekend was hugely important to me for a lot of reasons, but among them because this was the first marathon where I tried hard (to a point) and then just let it be. I've spent four years running as a tool to control and process through the challenges of my personal life: my father's illness and death, my volunteer roles, my career, my mother's loneliness, my marriage, and being a mother myself. There's a lot of mental energy that goes into that, not to mention the physical energy required to run 26.2 miles before a sweeper gets you (in addition to processing constant other "runner-to-me" comparison).

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Silly Selfie Battle

"Mommy, let's take a picture!" my youngest child yells.
"That's fine, baby, but make sure I'm not in it."
"Come on," he whines, drawing out the last word in a huff of exhalation.
"Okay, fine," as I acquiesce, knowing full well that once we've taken the picture of ourselves, I'll go into the camera app and delete it.
[whrrp] is the sound the app makes as it deletes the photo. And, like that, the picture is gone. With it, a memory.

In this picture I'm the slightly
more girly version of SNL's Pat.
I don't know when I started to hate pictures but it's been decades. I posed for my fair amount of photographs as a kid for my father who counted "photographer" as one of many of his careers in life. In every picture after age 12 months or so, what I see is a kid with dimpled knees, dimpled thighs, dimpled cheeks, and a round belly and bad hair painstakingly curled and ratted by my mother with a hot iron, hair spray, and ribboned plastic barrettes.

When I think of myself as a child, this is who I see.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Driving Fast and Turning Back

The Moth is a locally-held story-telling event. A story-teller has 5 minutes to tell his or her story which must be true and told well from memory (no prompts or notes), Ten are randomly selected each night to share. I have always put my name in, no matter how unprepared I've been, but my name has never been pulled from the hat yet.

I'm not complaining. This could be a blessing. If nothing else, it's forced me to think through a few memories and put them into story form. "On Hugging" was sketched out on the theme of Feelings for The Moth but it never got on stage. This one below was sketched out for the theme of Fast Lane (which only loosely applies since the only thing fast about either story is that it involved driving above the speed limit on the highway) but I won't be able to attend to try and pitch it.


When I was five or six, the teenaged daughter of a family friend gave me a stuffed bear. It wasn’t particularly cute and it was funny looking. I didn’t love it at first but it looked sad and like it needed a friend so I became attached to it over time and it became my favorite stuffed toy throughout childhood.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On Hugging

I don’t like hugs.

It’s nothing about the hugger, nothing that anyone should take personally. I just don’t like hugging.

I don’t think most people appreciate how much interpersonal skill goes into giving and receiving hugs. What if one of you is sweaty? What if one of you is stinky? How long is a hug supposed to last? What if the hug is misunderstood as a gesture of sexual interest? What if I’m hugging a man and he gets an erection? Am I allowed to notice? Where do the arms go? Do I put them around the neck if someone is taller? Do I wrap them around the back and do a full frontal? Most importantly, consider what I look like. I’m a short woman with larger-than-most boobs. This is really the crux of the situation.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

You Think It's Misogyny. Really It's Being Polite.

Every once in a while I skim through my social media feed and see posts shared by well-intentioned, strong, independent women warning us about the misogyny wherever we look. Men opening doors for women! Men being expected to pick up the tab! Men taking up space! Most recently my feed was hit with share after share of “16 Instances of Micro-Misogyny that Prove Patriarchy Is Everywhere!”

Here’s the deal: I don’t think hardly any of these constitute examples of micro-misogyny or hatred of women. Maybe they’re relics of an older time, maybe they’re just efforts at politeness, or maybe they’re examples of individual displays of rudeness but with all the real issues in the world (Iraq War 3, gun control, health care) is this really something that needs to even register on your irritation radar?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Running Your Wallet into the Twilight Zone

Flickr Commons
You're about to run through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind and endurance. A journey over roads and trails and past trees and parks whose boundaries are that of imagination. There’s a mile marker up ahead that announces you have entered the Twilight Zone…of Running.
Now that you’ve entered the Twilight Zone of Running, allow me to be your pacer in this adventure, particularly its least talked about aspect: the expense. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of a runner’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Don't Take Your Guns to Town...Or at Least Not to Chipotle

Flickr Commons / Ghost Soldier
It’s started to happen: Crazy liberals using a social media campaign have forced Chipotle restaurants to discourage guns in their restaurants. This follows less a year after Starbucks made a statement to the same effect.  While those crazy liberals claim that guns have no place in family establishments and this is only good sense, I call it what it is: nonsense.  I shouldn’t have to choose between enjoying my civil rights and enjoying a good cheap dinner. And here's what a lot of people forget: If it becomes illegal for God-fearing citizens to wear their weapons while eating their burritos, then only criminals will eat burritos.

Chipotle is southwestern Mexican style cuisine. What is more southwestern than guns? Have you all forgotten the OK Corral? Tombstone? The Alamo? Guns are an integral part of the southwest’s history, just like trendy, bland, quick-serve Mexican food. You can’t separate one from the other!

Where does it end, I ask you? I tell you, friends, that I fear an avalanche of restaurants will begin the difficult, painful, and unnecessary separation of food and weaponry. Who will be the next to separate weapons from the enjoyment of fine cuisine?

·       Will Benihana keep law-abiding patrons from enjoying sushi while wielding their katanas?

·       Is Red Lobster going to stop customers from exercising their freedom of speech by bringing their tridents to dinner?

·       Will Sizzler prohibit white-hot branding irons under the guise of preventing damage to their naugahyde seats?

·       Is P.F. Chang’s going to pat down hungry guests at the door and remove their daos and halberds before allowing people to have lettuce wraps?

These are dark days, my law-abiding, Constitutional fundamentalist friends. Eleven score and eighteen years ago, our Founding Fathers foresaw the need for every private citizen to have the right to own their own assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol in order to fight the tyranny of government intent on giving its citizens roads, schools, and healthcare. We are so close to losing the rights that great leaders like Donald Trump, the Nuge, and Cliven Bundy have fought for us to have throughout the years.

This is an issue that should concern every citizen. Remember the poem:

First they mandated emissions and pollution control standards, and I did not stop them
because my vehicle was grandfathered in.

Then they forced people to buy healthcare, and I did not stop them
because I was already covered and wasn’t forced to buy it.

Then they Then they came for the rightfully-owned guns, and I did not speak out
because I was not a gun-owner.

Then they came to take away all my other Constitutional rights, and no one could defend me
because they took our guns.

Now, I’m going to go exercise my God-given Second Amendment rights and take my sharpened hunting boomerang to Outback Steakhouse for dinner tonight. You can never be too careful.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

9 Literature Classics Rebooted as Memes

Forget judging a book by its cover, most prospective readers won’t get beyond a title. Publishers know this which is why Random House, Penguin Books, Harper Collins, Barnes & Noble are engaging in an effort to reboot once-famous classics with titles that share the spirit of the most popular internet memes. 

1.   This Old Lady Taught a Young Man a Lesson about Love He’ll Never Forget – Great Expectations

People went crazy for the teenager who took his grandmother to prom. You don’t need to tell them that this story is about the soul-crushing experience one young man had after falling in love with someone too broken to return his affections. Let them find out on their own.

2.    How I Met Our Mother – Oedipus Rex

With a little less hilarity but just as great a story, Penguin Books will release the re-titled Oedipus Red at the same time that 20th Century Fox releases the collectors’ edition of all nine seasons of that semi-popular TV show of a similar name.

3.   8 Words That’ll Change How You Feel about Relationships – Gone with the Wind

Frankly, my dear, I don’t…want to spoil the ending. You’ll just have to read the book.

4.   Middle Schoolers Need a Dictionary to Read this Book…Do You? – A Series of Unfortunate Events

Some adults turn up their noses at children’s fiction but those same noses love the challenge of seeing who’s smarter than a 5th grader. Are you?
5.   123 Times You Saw the Hand of God but May Not Have Realized It - The Bible

This tagline makes The Bible into a spiritual seek-and-find. Can you find the 123 miraculous manifestations of the Almighty in the world’s most popular book? Rumor has it that in addition to including a special insert of the Ten Commandments in replica stone, Barnes & Noble is also partnering with Parker Brothers to include a bingo card so that locating the miracles can be an entertaining party game!

6.   20 Shockingly Honest Confessions – Madame Bovary

With stories ripped straight from TMZ, this novel is Lindsey Lohan, the Kardashians, and Juan Pablo all in one.

7.   What This Adonis Has in His Closet Will Surprise You – The Picture of Dorian Grey

This gorgeous young man has more in his closet than attire.

8.   Home Decorating Drove This Woman Crazy! – The Yellow Wallpaper

Crazy home decorating isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s left HGTV on for too long, but home decorating that makes you crazy? That’s the exclusive province of Charlotte Gilman.

9.   This Little Girl Fell Down a Hole – Open Here to See What Happens Next! – Alice in Wonderland

We could tell you what happens next, but that would just be…mad, wouldn’t it?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Why I Hope My Kids Are Gay...And You Should, Too

Photo: Purple Sherbet Photography/
Flickr Commons
Earlier today I was at the tire store getting a new set of four nearby a couple toddlers role playing a scene from Disney’s Frozen while their mother and granddad watched. I smiled at the mom.
“My kids love Frozen, too.”

“Yeah, my girls are crazy for it. They pretend to be princesses all the time.”
“That’s sweet. My boys are all about the songs. I swear they have the entire soundtrack memorized.”

“How old are your boys?”
“They’ll be 8 and 10 this summer.”

The granddad, a leathery guy from Malta, bustled in. “Boys? Watching a girly movie?”
“Eh, my kids like the music and sidekicks. They think the princesses are pretty.”

Granddad brushed his whiskers and shook his head. “You’re gonna make those boys gay. You don’t think it now. You think it’s okay but this is how it starts. My sister, she has a gay son and it started this way.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

True Tips for Women about Running

A little less than three years ago I started running “by accident.” A membership to a runner’s group was included in something I purchased. I didn’t want to use it so I tried to resell it – and no one else wanted it either. Being the cheap bastard I am, I decided to join the runner’s group. Ten half marathons and thirteen full marathons later, I’m still running. It’s not because I love it, exactly, and it’s certainly not because I’m good at it (whatever that means). It’s mainly because everyone needs something to “do” and right now, this is what I do.

At 36 I’m a little south still of middle-age (mainly because I plan to live to 100 although I reserve the right to push that date around a bit). I feel I’m somewhat representative of a certain group of women: a little south of middle-aged, professional, enjoys physical activity, some discretionary income. Consequently, there is a ton of advice that is sent to me and my running sisters: what to wear, what to expect, how to act, how to look. That’s all great but I’m here to tell you not a lot of that matters. If you’re going to run, here’s the God’s honest truth about what you need to know.