Writing, Running, Being.

The finish line is a shifty Thing and what is life, but reckoning?
Ani DiFranco

Friday, December 28, 2007

the same old me

Jonas graduated to a big boy car seat today. As I wrestled with the unfamiliar straps and complicated buckles, a small lump formed in my throat. Wasn't it just the other day I was still in the delivery room going through the same ordeal with the foreign straps of the newborn car seat? An image of an angsty teenage Jonas peeling out of the driveway with no car seat at all popped in my head and I had to bite my lip and blink back the ridiculous tears. Time goes so fast. I'm just biding time with him.

I'm beginning to think that some sort of arrested development occurred in my brain somewhere between 4th and 5th grade. When I close my eyes and try to picture who it is that I think I am, the picture is one of me on the ferry to Fire Island with my dad. I'm almost 10 and I'm wearing a kitty sweatshirt I painted myself with craft paint and a stencil. I have about 40 friendship bracelets on each wrist. And bangs. Big thick ones. I want a hamster and pierced ears and a perm and I can't wait.
Brian's mom gave me banana clips in my stocking this Christmas. I couldn't help but smile at how great they would have looked almost 15 years ago with the perm I never got. You know, often when I see middle aged office ladies that still have feathered hair and shoulder pads I think to myself "What's her problem? Doesn't she know she's stuck in the early 90's?" I guess time just goes so fast that they don't notice the fashions rapidly changing around them. They are in their offices, stuck happily in their primes, probably not even giving a shit about the bright chunky jewelry that has replaced delicate gold heart shaped lockets and cheesy charm bracelets. They don't care that the girls are now straightening their hair, rather than teasing and perming.

I try to stick to the classics. I wear a lot of black because I'm just not hip enough to keep up. Every now and then if there's something that has seriously caught on, I'll jump on the wagon a little late and hang out toward the back, so no one notices just in case I want to jump back off. I do have some pretty big ass sunglasses. One thing you will never see me do is wear fuzzy boots over tight jeans. I'm not really a good candidate for that look anyway because A) I'm too short and fat for it and B) I'm not a movie star.

Brown is the new Black
Less is the new More
Old is the new Young
Skin is the new Coat
Modest is the new Vain
and I am the same old Me

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

constipated in cleveland

in a town where everyone is rooting for the browns, i feel as though i'm the only one not giving a shit. literally. it may be tmi but i haven't pooped in five days! maybe it's the lack of activity. or maybe these gray skies. seriously, does the sun ever shine in cleveland? i feel like this town sucks the happiness right out of everyone. all the people here are pissed off. maybe they're all constipated like me. and they all have mustaches. what's up with that? they just look mean. all the ladies in the stores are so bitchy and they all smoke.

the browns lost yesterday and the only reason i'm upset is because i predicted that if they won, i would take a shit and be relieved of this stifling misery. and if they lost, six more weeks of constipation for me. i knew it. so far my prediction is right.

i miss colorado and its blue skies and its perky, polypropylene-wearing people. i miss my drunk neighbor clunking around in his boots. i miss the option of going snowboarding, even though i can't actually find anyone to watch my kid. i just miss having that option. i miss pikes peak, even though i've never been to the top. i just miss looking at it. i miss my jogging stroller. but mostly the sky. i've taken for granted the luxury of looking up and seeing blue. or any legitimate color for that matter. anything but gray. and i miss colorado's people. its running, riding, skiing, recycling, granola-eating, rock-climbing, polite, healthy, attractive, smiling, new life-going, customer service-oriented, intelligent, beautiful people!

so here are the things i like about cleveland:
westside market
running in the woods
lake erie
all food
the fact that the sun comes out for a few brief moments at the end of the day to set over the lake giving me something to look forward to the next day
jonas making his grandparents smile
brick streets
the big brick houses near the lake
the art museum (the one exhibit that i saw)
brian's mom's fascination with giant discount stores filled with junk
westside market
westside market
westside market

there. i named a bunch of good things about cleveland. now maybe karma will smile down upon me and give my clogged intestines a f***ing break!

Friday, November 23, 2007

my cartwheel

Mrs. Thayer had big frizzy hair and too much blush. Her butt was so big it spilled over either side of the piano bench. We had to drive 30 miles to get to her house and then I had to sit in her dank basement doing homework while Teresa went into the piano studio for her lesson. A toddler Erin would run around the room and my mom would balance her checkbook while tapping her snow boots. Then it was my turn. I hated being alone in there with her. I hated those basement windows that were way at the top of the wall and when you looked out all you'd see was the dirt in the window well and the bottom of the neighbor's house. The glass of water with its disgusting lipstick prints stood beside the metronome atop the piano. They stood there together looking down on me, mocking me as my fingers slipped off sharps and stumbled too quickly through the tougher measures. Then Mrs. Thayer would make me do them over, telling me to focus on the time signature this time and listen to the ticking metronome. She would lean in squinting, crowding my space, invading my bubble so that I could smell each particle of her potent old lady perfume. Begonias and Lilacs. Or whatever flower it is that old ladies like so much... She would shove her swollen hand with all its rings into my middle C position and show me how it was to be done. There was no clock in there so I never knew how much time was left. Sometimes as she was blabbing away about ritardendo or decrecendo, her hand would rise like a maestro and I would strain with all my might to catch a glimpse of the hands on her tiny gold wristwatch. It was just my luck that the thing didn't have any numbers, so if I ever did get a look at the hands I never got an actual time. Just a vague idea that left me more frustrated than anything.

One day Mrs. Thayer left the room for a moment. I don't remember why. Maybe it was to answer a phone call. Maybe to refill her lipstick-smeared water glass. Maybe to take a pee. I really don't remember. All I know is that I, a daring nine year old, was briefly left alone in the piano studio and an urge so strong I couldn't resist came over me. Risk slithered down my spine as I made the decision to do it. My cartwheel.

I did a cartwheel in Mrs. Thayer's piano studio. As soon as I completed my covert little stunt, I scurried back to the piano bench and resumed my studious piano-playing demeanor. No sooner had I smoothed my hair back down and straightened my blouse then Mrs. Thayer opened the door. “Are you ready to try again?” she asked. With adrenaline still rushing through my body, charging to my fingertips, I played a perfect “Allouette” . I finished my lesson with a tiny smirk in my soul. I left Mrs. Thayer's that day with a smug satisfaction. The same smug satisfaction I still feel when I get away with something. Since that cartwheel, there have been few things that I've actually gotten away with. I didn't get away with drinking beer on campus. I didn't get away with driving with expired tags on the Air Force Academy. I didn't get away with parking too close to a fire hydrant in Denver. I didn't get away with unprotected premarital sex.


I do occasionally get away with a free bag of kitty litter because it's on the bottom of the shopping cart. Right now I'm getting away with not having a full-time job. I hope to get away with the payments I've missed on my student loans. But if not, I'll just do another cartwheel when no one's looking. And that will be just as good.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

some thoughts on University Park

On two occasions, completely independent of one another, I have been called a German Shepherd. The first time was by a boy whose name I can't recall in my fourth grade class. The second time was by a girl in my 7th grade class, shortly after the movie "All Dogs Go To Heaven 2" came out. This was years later and at a different school in a different state! That simply can't be a coincidence. I've been carrying around this "German Shepherd Complex" ever since. I hate those stupid dogs. Whenever I happen to be around someone who has one I get all nervous and paranoid. I start sweating and shaking and searching for excuses to get away. It's as if I think the dog owner will pause mid-conversation and say "Hey! I just noticed you kinda look like my dog!" It's absolutely dreadful! When I ring someone's doorbell and dogs start barking my heart skips a beat and I begin praying rapidly "please don't let it be a german shepherd please don't let it be a german shepherd pleasedon'tletitbeagermans
hepherd!" Needless to say, when I am ready for a dog, it will be a Lab or a Husky or a St. Bernard or a Shi Tzu (because I like the name).

Jonas just fell asleep in my lap and Brian just got home so now I can go running sans the jog stroller. I like running at night because nobody else is out. Everyone is at home, finishing dinner. Scraping the last few bites of steak and potatoes into the bowls of their eager German Shepherds. The other night I ran through University Park. I admired all the lovely things I will never have:

A gigantic house on top of a hill with a door that I am not allowed to paint because of the Covenant.
A sixteen-car garage that I could live in comfortably with my family, and store everything I own and use as a painting studio.
A sprinkler system that I would of course only run at night.
Sod (I never liked sod much anyway. It's too pretty, like a wig for the earth, just weird).
A pension.

It hurts, sometimes, to see other people’s things. Especially when they are things that are so far out of reach for me. The University Park residents probably worked very hard their whole lives and this is why they can afford beautiful houses and waterfalls. They have so much money, yet somehow I know they would wrinkle their noses at the prospect of replacing the brake cable on their grandson’s Huffy. Maybe I’m just prejudiced. It hurts me, sometimes, to see people who have everything. Especially when I know that all Brian wants is an education and a little space to build some bicycles.

Sometimes when I’m running, a moment passes quickly by and I wish I could decipher it with Galileo’s insight. I wish I could write it with Sylvia’s words. I wish I could sing it with Aretha’s conviction. I wish I could paint it with Pollock’s nerve. I wish I could run it with Shea’s heart and legs. Wish I could top it out with Peter’s strength. Wish I could kiss it with Sarah’s guts. Lick it up with the reckless abandon of a German Shepherd. Sometimes it passes by so quickly and I am just greatful that the night is cold because I can still see my breath. And this proves I am living.

Friday, November 9, 2007

early morning ramblings

I've been thinking about the grand scheme of things lately. Mainly because I like the word "scheme". Almost as much as Brian enjoys "neurotransmitters". So anyway, in the grand scheme of things, it's hard to tell what's important. How do you not fuck up the Present without fucking up the Future? Why do I always have to choose between these two tenses. I like Past because it's over and there's nothing I can do about it. My brain is full of lame chiches right now because the other night we were talking about forks in the road. Once forks are in your head, you start recognizing them all over the place. What if I do this instead of that? What if I go here instead of there? What if I choose black instead of white? (I stick to gray). And you could drive yourself insane with "what-iffing".
Maybe mental health isn't a choice for everyone, but for me it is. I try to make decisions about the way I feel. I could choose to get upset over something trite and then feel crappy or I could choose not to let silly things bother me and be happy. I could choose to feel ugly or I could just avoid the pro shop mirror and like myself all day. I could choose to let myself sink into criticisms and let them drown me, or I could use them as tools to improve myself. This is much harder than it seems.
I have a new expensive mouthwash that claims to kill the bacteria on the way back of your tongue, ending bad breath forever. I think it works ok, but it makes my throat hurt all day. I've been chewing lots of gum lately. Did you know that chewing gum causes gas? It's because you swallow all those tiny bubbles. It seems unfair that I should be forced to choose between bad breath and gas. Two most unattractive qualities. When I asked Brian what he'd choose, he said he'd rather have gas, because at least asses are supposed to stink, and nobody is going to be kissing it anyway. I guess this makes sense...
I've been so distracted lately. I guess because it's easier than being focused. Last night I contemplated immortality as though I had a choice in the matter. I just feel like I need a few more lives to get it right. Then I contemplated death because I do have a choice in the matter and that was just too much to think about while changing a diaper.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed and my brain spins, pen spits, hand slips, heart shits and I'm right back where I started. Considering the grand scheme of things again as though I have a crystal ball...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

ugly snow boots

So there I was in the shower. Thinking. Just like I always do in the shower. When suddenly I gasped out loud upon realizing that I have done almost everything I have (at some point) vowed never to do. These things include:

wearing Crocs
holding hands in Wal Mart
procreating with someone under the height of 5'10
creating "bathroom art"
reading Harry Potter
becoming obsessed with Harry Potter
thinking like my mom
talking like my mom
going to church like my mom

I've noticed that my hands are starting to look like my mom's and all I can do to prevent their further evolution is keep on biting my nails (and putting off that ring). When I was in the 3rd grade my favorite chapter book was called "Mom, You're Fired!" It was about a girl my age who was constantly embarassed by her eccentric mother. I remember when my only wish in the world was that my mom wouldn't have her jeans tucked inside her snow boots when she picked me up from school. My stomach would ache with anxiety as the final bell rang and I'd gather my books and papers slowly, putting them in my backpack neatly as other kids crammed theirs in and dashed out the door. My heart would fill with mortification at the sight of her standing outside that silver Volvo, waving to me as if I didn't know where she'd be parked. All I could see were those awful snow boots. The shin-high-black-and-pink-g
reen-laced-damaging to my reputation-snow boots with the jeans tucked inside so all my friends could see them.
I hated Minnesota because before we moved to God-forsaken Burnsville, my mom had never owned boots like that. She had always worn normal shoes as far back as I could remember. She wore New Balances in Texas. She wore leather sandals in North Carolina. She wore Sauconys in New York.
My mom's style has since improved. For this, I applaud the ending of the 90's. She now lives in Kansas, where the snow is never deep enough to warrent anything more water resistant than her regular brown teacher shoes. So my question is this: Why do parents get cooler once you move away from them? Why do they turn into regular people just after you learn to disregard them? And how can I ensure that I don't become "that mom" myself?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

puberty vs. post-partum

these past seven weeks of postpartum have been a lot like puberty. i bleed. i cry. i cramp. i break out. i hate my body. and once again i find myself relating all too well to the likes of alanis morisette. at least i don't have homework. at least i don't have mrs. robinson. at least i don't have braces. at least i don't have to worry about who i should or shouldn't sit with in the cafeteria. at least i don't have to sit in front of matt, who liked to put shit in my hair. at least i don't have to play flag football.

Friday, August 10, 2007

soap operas and maternity leave

brian thinks i overuse exclamation points and the word "okay" (sometimes spelled 'OK'). he thinks that might be the reason i didn't get the online tutoring job which is sort of like an instant messenger with a chalkboard where you tutor kids who are in afterschool tutoring programs. i thought i had it because i got a letter that said my application was reviewed and accepted and i filled out all the paperwork and the w-9 but then i guess i didn't get the job based on my shitty online mock-session where i freaked out and they asked me a math question and i forgot all about percents and i felt like an idiot and i was so nervous and then brian came home in the nick of time and answered the question for me but you're not supposed to give away the answer on tutor.com so that's why i thought i didn't get the job but maybe it was my overuse of exclamation points and the word "okay" which i kept spelling "OK". anyway, that job would have helped out a lot now that i'm staying at home and we're living off one bike shop salary...
this morning jonas was crying so i sang the national american university jingle to him repeatedly for about 40 minutes. "get your degree, set yourself free/ national american university" now i can't get that stupid jingle out of my head... "one day one night/ saturday's alright". i've noticed they run a lot of commercials for vocational schools and two-year colleges on daytime television (which i swear, i only watched the first 2 weeks of my maternity leave). i guess they're aiming to motivate all the losers who are home during they day watching lame talk shows and soap operas.
speaking of soap operas... i regret to admit that i actually watched one. those things have to be written for stupid people. the script was absolutely retarded! and i never use that word! the actors kept reiterating their motives like 16 times in a scene. just in case the viewers forgot why a character was angry with another character. they just kept reminding us like this:

"i will make judy pay for ruining my life by telling rob the truth about her love child with philip"
blah blah blah some more stuff happens and then this again:
"but nancy, i just can't let judy get away with marrying rob after she ruined my life. i have to tell him the truth about ther illigitimate child!"
another 10 seconds of dialogue and then BAM:
" as soon as i tell rob judy's big secret, that she has a child with philip, he will never love her and i will have my revenge. she will pay for ruining my life"

i changed the names so you guys won't know which soap i watched...not that i think any of you would know because i'm about 99.8% sure none of my friends watch soap operas.

i swear, these scripts are written for either really dumb people or really forgetful people. i must admit it was pretty funny to watch. i wanted so badly to turn off the tv but i just couldn't. it was like watching a really fat chick in low-rise jeans bend over and not being able to turn away from the dimpled ass crack no matter how revolting...
but really, i think i'm done with soaps. by the way, why is it called a "soap opera"?

well, enough about that. i need to get out of here and take jonas for a run.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

nothing in particular. particularly nothing.

why do they call it a "tall" at starbucks when it's actually a small? i'm 5'0. do i get to call myself "tall"? no! of course not. whatever. so here's some personal information...my cervix is 80% thin. that means the baby is coming soon. maybe within a week! brian and i took childbirth prep on sunday. i had to stick my hand in a bag of ice for a minute and a half repeatedly to practice breathing through the pain. brian had to give me massages. we got to lie on the floor with pillows and blankets and watch a movie about birth. we both slept through it. the teacher said we get popsicles during labor and we can have as many as we want. i hope they're the kind with jokes on the sticks like "where do books sleep?" "under their covers!"
i was trying to do "nesting" today by cleaning my room and washing the baby's clothes in dreft. but the washer broke halfway through the cycle so i just put everything in the dryer. i don't even think anything got rinsed. that sort of defeats the purpose because now the baby's clothes prbably have more chemicals than if i had not bothered to wash them at all. oh well. i tried.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

midgets and pregnant chicks

today i am really easily annoyed. i hate my job. i hate all the customers. like this californian guy on the phone who was like "can i talk to someone who really knows directions?" and i was like "where are you coming from?" and then he said that again like 3 more times. Do i just sound like i don't know where i work or how to get there? he didn't even give me a chance! and so i gave the phone to shea and let him give the directions. the guy was at some random intersection that no one even knew of. it's like, "one moment sir, let me activate the gps system in my brain. i've got this internal mapquest system in my fucking head that tells me exactly where you are, latitude and longitude and everything, hang on, would you like to know your precice elevation and the elevation gain from where you are to the bike shop, you know, just so you can be prepared in case you experience some altitude sickness along the way?" fucking californians. and he made it a point to let shea know that if shea were in california and wanted to know how to get to blah-blah-blah beach, he would be able to give accurate directions. whatever. when brian and i were in san diego we wanted to know how to get to the fish market and the girl on the phone was wrong. just because you live somewhere doesn't mean you know every spot in the city and how to get anywhere from that spot. why do people have to be so demanding and so rude?

and i'm so tired of being pregnant. it's like people just think they can talk to you about all kinds of personal issues just because you're pregnant. they ask you when you're due and is it a boy or a girl and is it your first and are you ready and are you excited and is your (indescreet glance at naked ring finger) um, partner(?) excited and do you have the name picked out and what is the name and aren't you just roasting in here and how is it being on your feet all day and does he kick and aren't you just ready to pop him out and are you going to have an epidural and on and on and on....

now, i realize that i stand out. i have a huge belly and it's pretty obvious that there's something in there besides pizza and ice cream and beer. but do total strangers have to comment on it all the time? take midgets for example. midgets, like pregnant women are rare and cute and interesting. they provoke many questions that i myself would love to ask. why are you so short is it hard finding clothes does it suck asking people to reach stuff for you can you drive do you have really low counters in your kitchen how do you use the urinals in public restrooms where do you buy your shoes do you like to hide in small spaces is it hard finding jobs have you thought about joining the circus do you have a boy/girlfriend is he/she a midget too don't you hate it when people stare at you? but out of basic respect for humans and their emotions i suck it up and refrain from asking these questions. and god knows i would never touch, poke or rub a complete stranger's belly!

ok, enough said. i feel better.

Friday, May 25, 2007

banana clips

My timing is always off. Mrs. Vitt. my piano teacher in middle school made me play along to one of those awful metronomes so that I could improve my timing. The obnoxious ticking just frustrated me and I got worse. She said I had no concept of rhythm, that I just made up my own rhythm and it was never congruent with anything but the voices in my head. She didn't understand that there was a logic to my rhythm or lack thereof and it made perfect sense. I played every song as fast as I could so I could get the hell out of my piano lesson and go play outside. But of course I couldn't play everything super fast becuase some songs had more sharps than others (sharps were my nemesis) and I was forced to slow down. To make a long story short, I quit piano as soon as my mom gave up and realized she was wasting her money. She didn't let me quit without the "you're going to regret this when you're older" lecture. And of course, I do.

The piano was the first thing in my life to hint that there might be something wrong with my timing. Since then I've found other clues. You know, for instance, my hair looks really good in a banana clip. But unfortunately for me, I was born about a decade too late to sport banana clips while in my prime. I can't help it if I have this thick wavy hair, just coarse enough to hold a banana clip with no slippage for an entire day. And soft enough to resemble a serene yet stunning waterfall cascading down the back of my head when gathered with a banana clip.

And another thing, I'm always hitting or running the yellow light. It's the shortest of all three lights. If I were any good at calculating probability I could tell you how unlikely it is that someone who drives about 50 minutes a day would hit all yellow lights. Good thing I'm a pro at running them, or else I'd spend the majority of the day in my car running late and the rest of the day getting in trouble for being late.

I'm always getting all the good advice at the wrong times. My mom called the other day to tell me that she met a guy who registered for an Ironman Triathlon and then got injured or deployed or something and he asked for a rollover entry to the next year's race and it was granted because he took the time to call and ask a favor of a human being rather than reading the refund information on the website and concluding that he was screwed and had wasted lots of money. Why didn't anyone tell me this when I needed a refund from Ironman Couer d' Alene? And why did my mom bother telling me this story now that it's too late? Just so I could kick myself a little more? Who knows...

I meet the right people under the wrong circumstances and I encounter all the wrong circumstances when the timing is right. Does that make sense? I'll never be one of those people who miraculously evades a tragic plane crash because they missed their flight for one reason or another (traffic, family emergency, whatever...) and the plane they were supposed to be on blows up or is hijacked and they praise God thanking him for sparing thier perfect lives and count their lucky stars again. No, I'll be the girl who thinks she has come into a bit of good luck when she win's a all-expense paid trip that she doesn't need to go on but says "ah, what the hell," packs her bags and sets off for a vacation cut short by a plane crash....

Saturday, February 10, 2007

protecting my fruit snacks

Brian has a jar of change in the bedroom that he says we will someday use to go to Alaska. I have a Mastercard that I say we will someday use to go to Alaska. There is a rapidly growing bulge inside my sweater that says none of us will be going to Alaska. I already know that Brian, ever the optimist will leave me a comment something to the tune of "we're going to Alaska, if it's the last thing we do. Fuck yeah."

Sometimes I wonder what Paris Hilton is doing at a particular moment. Buying really expensive shoes? Dropping in on a friend in Venice? Hooking up with a male model who won't know how to spell her name but will buy her anything she wants? I've been trying to figure luck out. How is it distributed? The good and the bad, among all seven billion people in the world?

Sometimes I still think about Red Feather. An old homeless man who lived in Alamosa, of all the miserable places one could be homeless. We gave him plenty of free coffee, and a few times I would sneak him some of the apple turnovers that couldn't be sold after four o'clock anyway. Then he got his foot in the door and started asking for more. Begging like a dog everyday. So grateful when we would oblige, so cruel when we did not. But always finding the nerve, even after condemning me to hell several times over, to come back and ask for more. One night he crashed a party at my friend's house. we were outside drinking beer on the porch when he wondered up in his familiar red hoodie and black backpack.
He wanted to know what we were laughing about. He wanted to join in with his own made-up anecdotes about his own made-up friends and family. He wanted to stand in the middle. He wanted to put his arm around us like old friends. He wanted to pretend he would be going home later like the rest of us. And when the hosts tried to wrap up the party, he wanted a place to stay. And when the hosts didn't want a creepy old man on their couch, free to steal whatever he wanted from them and put it in his backpack, he threatened to cut them up with his knife.

The desparation in that man's eyes, in his voice and shaking hands, has never left me. I remember it when my bank account dips too low and when my car insurance skyrockets due to the untimely unveiling of a one year old 16-20 over speeding ticket. I feel little tremors of that same desperation when Brian steals a fruit snack from me. It's that human instinct to get what is yours, and protect what is yours. And now that I am to be a mother that need to protect has amplified to a sometimes unreasonable degree. Now every bill in my mailbox is no longer something that I owe someone. It is someone trying to take things away fom my baby. It is someone who's after us, trying to ruin our lives.

Then there's Brian's jar of change in the bedroom. keeping me and the baby a little bit safer each time we add to it. And there's my hidden stash of fruit snacks, safely tucked away in a place Brian would never think to look. Not to be eaten, just to be there for comfort's sake...