Monday, July 6, 2015

Don't Ever Look Back, Again

On July 7, what will be exactly a year ago tomorrow, I wrote about finishing the Runners World Run Streak and what I learned from it in the post Don't Ever Look Back. Well, this year I ran the Run Streak again, and--surprise, surprise--I'm going to do the exact same thing.  Like Happy Holiday, You Bastard! 2014Happy Holiday, You Bastard! Take Two, and Happy Holiday, You Bastard!, you can expect this to be a regular thing.

What I learned from running from the day before Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, forty-two--forty-two!--days in a row. In a list.

1. I am so much better than I was last year.

Last year when I wrote about the Run Streak, I talked about how incredibly injury prone I am and how I couldn't possibly run every day because if I did, I'd end up hurting myself and not be able to run at all, which was absolutely, positively true. Now, I'm not saying I no longer get hurt--dear God, I'm not saying that, and if I end up sidelined tomorrow, I suppose I have nobody to blame but myself for jinxing myself on this post--but the 55 miles I ran with some rest days last year did turn into 97 miles without rest this one. What I'm saying, I suppose, is that I'm stronger. I'm stronger than I was, and I'm also more determined, which brings me to number 2.

2. I'm ridiculously dedicated and pretty damn determined.

So during the Run Streak, this:

A. I went to Kansas City for eight days, where I worked from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. scoring hundreds of essays without a day off. Maybe that doesn't seem like such a big deal to you, but any teacher or professor reading this understands just how difficult a task it really is.

B. I drove over 3,000 miles, from South Florida to Charleston to Washington DC to Boston to Philadelphia, with two teenagers, one of whom wouldn't shut the fuck up about how much he missed his girlfriend and how he didn't appreciate my taking him on the trip, and two dogs who barked so much we almost got kicked out of a hotel. Both Boston and Philadelphia were grassless--grassless!--and I had to walk four blocks to a park each time the dogs needed to go out, in Boston through Florida-winter weather and pouring rain.

C. I experienced hill running for the first time. Kansas City, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, South Carolina--nothing but hills. Is Florida the only flat place on earth?

D. I totally twisted my ankle running down a hill in Santee, South Carolina, where we spent the night on the drive back home, badly enough that I had to sit down on the ground, force myself not to cry, and worry about how I was going to get back to the hotel. And you know how I did? I ran. Slowly. Three days away from the end of the streak with .65 miles completed for the day, no fucking way I was going to stop.

Despite A-D and anything else I didn't mention, I got my ass up, and I ran every motherfucking day. In Kansas City when I had to catch the bus by 7:30 to get to the scoring place by 8, I woke up by 6 so I could run, even on days when I'd run at midnight the night before; in Washington when I felt like my legs couldn't possibly carry me back up a hill, I ran up the goddamn motherfucking hill; in Boston, after sitting in a car for a thousand-plus-mile drive, I ran; when I got home with my twisted ankle, I wore the ankle brace I limped into CVS to buy, set the treadmill on a lower speed than normal, and I ran though the pain. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was going to get in the way of my finishing the Run Streak. And it didn't.

3. I can get accustomed to anything.

Okay, so I already said I'm a better runner than I was last year, but there's more. It's like, when I used to run, and when I say used to run, I mean prior to last year's streak and my final separation with Glenn because if I had to pick a distinct separation of my two (running) lives, that would be it, if I ran on the treadmill I set it at 5.5, and if I ran outside, my miles were somewhere around 11 minutes. I also missed days all the time. Now, if I run at 5.5 I pretty much feel like I'm walking, if I run an 11-minute mile I--actually, that would never happen, so I don't even know--and if I miss a day, I feel like something is wrong. I guess the lesson learned here is that if I stick to something--anything--I'll succeed.

4. Happy can be found in unexpected places.

I never thought running would be such a huge part of my life, that it would make me as happy as it does, because it's always been a struggle, but it is and it does. While I used to dread running, now I look forward to it every single day. I don't have very much to say about this one except that even something that initially causes despair can bring happiness if people let it.

5. No matter what's going wrong in my life, I always feel better after a run.

I often think while I'm running that I don't understand why in the world anybody would ever do a drug, that very little feels better than this. Of course my problems are still there after I finish, but they never look as bad.

6. The harder the better.

Yes, sometimes I run easy and sometimes I run long, but by far the runs that feel the most right to me are the runs when I run hard. Putting all my effort into something, pushing myself until I feel like I can't be pushed anymore just feels amazing.

Number 7 isn't really a lesson learned because I wrote the same thing last year, but it's something I must copy, paste, and repeat:

7. Running is a metaphor for absolutely everything.

But that one I already knew.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What Were You So Scared Of?

At twenty-one or twenty-two years old, I made North Star promise me she wouldn't let me marry Glenn. 

At twenty-three, I broke up with him for about the tenth time. Kicked him out of my parents' house and said it was time for us to move on. 

At twenty-three and about three months, we got back together. At twenty-three and about three months and a couple of weeks, I told him we should just get married because it seemed like no matter how many times I broke up with him, we ended up back together. 

A week before twenty-three and four months, our wedding.

Before two months had passed, I wanted a divorce. Got an apartment, packed up my stuff, and moved out.

Alone in an apartment and life for the first time ever, I freaked out. Glenn moved me back in the next day.

At twenty-seven, I had two kids under four and a strong desire for a divorce. My mother convinced me single motherhood would be too hard, and I needed to stay.

At thirty-four, Glenn and I finally separated for real. That one could have been for good if I didn't cave after finding out he had a girlfriend and ask him--beg him--to move back in. 

At thirty-five, Glenn and I separated again. Instead of my mother, it was a therapist's doing this time, but the result was the same: she told me life would be too hard on my own and I needed to stay.

At thirty-seven, the separation lasted two months. That time I even went so far as to pay for an attorney, but old habits, you know?

Not even six months later, when I was still thirty-seven years old, another separation. That one went for six months, but those goddamn motherfucking same old fears.

At thirty-nine, we separated for the last time. At forty, I'm waiting for the divorce to officially be a thing. 

I have never been so happy in my entire life.

Two weeks ago, while I was intensely making out with some super cute guy who I'd just met walking down the street--because I'm totally allowed to do that--a girl stopped and interrupted us while she was walking by.

I love your spark! she said. 
I looked over at her. What? I asked, surprised.
Your spark! she said to me, picking up her hand and waving it around as if to indicate an aura surrounding my being. Then she glanced at the guy I had been kissing seconds before. Yours is nice, too, but hers is amazing. I love it!

I love it, too. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lie to Me

Every time I run, I start out with a plan. I have a set number of miles I intend to go, two to two-and-a-half for an easy run, three for a normal one, and five for a long. Sometimes my run unfolds in the best way imaginable, everything feeling perfect right from the start, my feet hitting the ground in sync with my music as I energetically bounce down the street or the belt of the treadmill at my stupid gym.

Sometimes, though--a lot of the time--that's not the case.

Sometimes--a lot of the time--things start out wrong. My gait feels awkward, my breathing doesn't feel right, the playlist I have on isn't working for the tempo my body chose. On days like this, I want to stop almost as soon as I start, so it's on days like this that I always end up doing the same thing:

I lie.

Depending on the distance, the numbers vary a little, but the inner dialogue pretty much stays the same. For the sake of a more thorough simulation, let's have a look at the convo I had during my last long run.

Okay, five miles is not going to happen. Just run for one, and you can make up the miles later in the week. 

One.

You've already gone one mile, and you're not ever supposed to run less than two. Just run one more stupid mile, and then you can stop. A workout doesn't even do anything if it doesn't last for twenty minutes. Just keep running.

Two.

One more mile. One more stupid mile, and you can stop. What is that, ten minutes of your stupid life? Go the mile so you do at least three.

Three.

You can't stop in the middle of a song, and this is a pretty long one, so by the time it's over, you'll have gone three and a half. Just run for the rest of this song. It's like you're dancing!

Three and an almost half.

It's stupid to stop at a half. It's five measly minutes. Five minutes! Think about how little five minutes is. Imagine how fast five minutes would go if you were having sex.

Four.

Four miles! You've run four miles. Stopping now would be stupid when you're so close to your goal. Do you know how mad you'll be if you stop now?

Five.

You made it! Aren't you happy that you didn't stop?

***

Sometimes--not always, but a lot--it just doesn't behoove us to tell the truth, even

(especially especially especially especially especially especially)

to ourselves.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Not Feeling This

How did I love Tom DeLonge? Let me count the ways:

I loved him with black hair
I loved him with brown
I loved him on guitar
I loved him singing songs
I loved him with a lip ring
--actually, I loved him with a lip ring so much, we'll just stop right here, but in case you'd like a deeper look into my love, click on this handy dandy link to A Little Bit Peter and at the very least read the end.

Anyway--

if you're a reader of me, you probably know I'm as big on change as I am on the scale going up, and if you know me personally, you most likely know that I'd rather spend an afternoon being anally probed than experience change where relationships are concerned. I'm trying, if not to embrace the concept that not all people are meant to be in our lives forever, to at least accept it, but for some reason, for me, that truth is particularly hard. I feel like once a close relationship is established, the loss of that relationship is one of the worst things possible, and I'd be lying by omission if I didn't admit that I actually have the timeline of a former close friend hidden on Facebook because it pains me too much to see her living her life without me. Logically, I know that a Chasing Amy ending is often inevitable as people grow up and grow apart, but emotionally, it's something that for whatever reason, I'm not yet able to accept.

Obviously, I know Tom and I didn't have a relationship--I may be crazy, but I'm not delusional--
but
I followed him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; watched interviews with him on YouTube; read articles about his life; listened to his songs; and yes, even have his words tattooed on my back. What he had to say actually meant that much.

Maybe Tom didn't know me, but I knew Tom.

And I fucking adored him.

But then one day, not so long ago, something changed. I was driving home from work and there in my Facebook feed came a post by Blink-182 about his leaving the band, and then, immediately after, there came a post by Tom himself stating it wasn't true. Internet drama ensued, and sure enough, when all was said and done, Tom was a part of Blink no more. AVA and other things were more important to him than Blink, and his attention was directed somewhere else.

Annoying, yes, but annoying enough to love Tom no more? As if! A love like mine for Tom couldn't be broken as easily as that.

But then one day, not so long after the whole forsaking-Blink-for-other-pursuits-and-then-being-a-lying-douche-about-it thing, the alien thing started to trend.

Okay, so those of you who don't know Tom as well as I do may not know this, but Tom is obsessed with life on other planets, and when I say obsessed, I mean obsessed with a big fat capital O. He wrote the song Aliens Exist years and years ago, which, whatever, it was a song and his preoccupation with aliens was cute, and he's openly expressed his interest in aliens ever since, which also wasn't a big deal, but then, in February, he came across as pretty insane, talking about being visited by aliens in Area 51, his phone being tapped by the government because of his deep knowledge of alien-related info, and being warned by some really smart engineer not to ever get into a stranger's car.

Apparently, Tom had gone bonkers.

So, if we add the abandoning-Blink thing to the crazy-alien thing and put it together with the business-magnate-Tom-has-become thing, selling absolutely anything and everything he possible could in the least punk rock way possible, and compound that with a bunch of other little things that have occurred throughout the years, what we essentially have is what I very regretfully find to be an unlovable Tom.

Now.

When I love, I love hard:

Someone I love can do one obnoxious or horrendous thing and my love will remain intact; someone I love can do two, maybe even three, or sadly, as I've shown in my day, a whole slew of obnoxious or horrendous things, and my love will never waver, but there comes a point when I just no longer can take anymore and just like that, well, poof!

My love is gone.

And as sad as it makes me, that's where I now am.

Things have gotten so bad, I scroll past his Facebook posts and sneer when I come across an Instagram picture. Everything he does makes me mad, and just hearing his name makes me roll my eyes.

All the love I had for him? Gone. The happy feeling he gave me on the inside? Memories.

And that--that change, that loss, that what-used-to-be-and-no-longer-is--

to me, that's the saddest thing that can be. It's not that I don't love him that hurts.

It's that I used to and no longer do.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'm Not Just a Girl

It was just about a year ago that I wrote a blog freaking out about going to Chicago with Griffin and Keifer alone, and by alone I mean in the absence of what I thought of as an actual adult instead of someone masquerading as one, and by someone masquerading as one, I of course mean me. It's funny what a difference not even a year makes because just a few days ago, I finalized plans for a road trip with the kids to Boston with stops in Charleston, Washington DC, and Philadelphia along the way, places that, unlike Chicago where I grew up and have visited umpteen times in the time since I moved, I've never gone.

And I'm not even scared.

Holy shit.

I don't think I've ever uttered those words in my life. Let me do it again:

I'm not
even
scared.

Wait. Let me think this through.

I'm driving over two thousand miles, visiting a bunch of places I know nothing about, and I'm not afraid, yet when I flew to Chicago, a place I know pretty damn well, I was terrified. I felt like an incapable kid being thrust into the real world with no guidance and direction, and I was sure the trip would be a disaster. Now, however, despite the state of know nothing I'm going to be in, I feel sure everything is going to be fine.

I'd force you to come along on an exploration of what's different this time around, but I already know. This time, the difference is me.

This time, the difference is that I'm no longer a person who lived in her parents' house until, at 23, she moved into an apartment with her husband and then pretty much followed his sovereign law for the rest of her time alive. This time, I'm a person who lived in her parents' house until, at 23, she moved into an apartment with her husband, pretty much followed his sovereign law until she was 39, and then went on to live the most recent year of her life on her own, making her own decisions, taking almost sole care of her children, paying her own bills (although, as you all probably know, the money stuff has been mine for a lot longer than the freedom has), and with the exception of having to live in a house with someone who absolutely refuses to leave, living her life the way she wants to live it. This time around, I'm used to making my own decisions, solving my own problems, and being absolutely free to be absolutely me.

This time around, I don't need no stinkin' grownup
because this time around, the grownup is me!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Happiness is a Warm Gun?

Nightmares.

They're bad, right?

I mean, like, by definition, they're bad.

So bad that when something really, really bad happens, it's often described as a nightmare.

Like, for instance, say you're with your very new kind-of boyfriend who we'll call James after a particularly bad breakup with a significant other we'll call Louie who you dated for a significant period of time and let's say you and your very new kind-of boyfriend who we're calling James and his friends want to get something to eat and let's say it's pretty late and you're only eighteen so you don't know any better and end up at Denny's where it's really crowded and they go to sit you and your very new kind-of boyfriend who we're calling James and his friends at one of those big oval booths with two tables that can be connected by a leaf and usually are reserved for big parties but could be used for two separate ones in a pinch, like if it's really busy, and when you get to that table that's pretty much connected to another table, which no matter what, makes for an uncomfortable meal if you're sitting with people who aren't in your party, you see that not only are you going to be sitting with people who aren't in your party, but you're going to be sitting with the significant other who we're calling Louie, the one you just had the really bad breakup with and--wait for it--the girl he cheated on you with. If something like that were to happen to you, it would be so bad that when describing it later to everyone you'd ever met, you just might call it a nightmare.

Unless, of course, you don't think nightmares are bad.

Wait.
What?

There are people who don't think nightmares are bad?

That's what I thought, too, because, as we've just been through with my crazy convoluted, highly unlikely--yet totally true--story,
nightmares = bad.

But listen to this:

A few days ago when Griffin, his friend, N, and I were talking, the subject of nightmares came up. Griffin talked about the worst nightmare he'd ever had and how scary it was, and N, in a totally unprecedented reply, said that he loves nightmares.

Yes, you read that right. N loves nightmares.

Being scared is awesome, N said, and you get to be terrified and have that scared feeling, but nothing bad is going to happen you. I hope I have a nightmare tonight, he said as the nightmare talk concluded.

Okay, so let me just repeat--
Wait.
What?

It's crazy, yes?

Except don't we hear things like The glass could either be half empty or half full; it doesn't matter what you're looking at, it matters what you see; and perception is everything* all the time?

*All aphorisms are paraphrased due to laziness

We do, or at least I do, but despite hearing them, it's never really occurred to me how much of a difference the way someone looks at something could make on his or her life, but then here's this kid taking something that most people think is horrific and traumatizing and acting like it's awesome. Actually, no, that's wrong. He's not acting like it's awesome; he really thinks it is awesome. To him, nightmares--nightmares!--are good.

How fucking inspirational and amazing is that?

(The answer is pretty fucking inspirational and amazing, in case you didn't know.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

When It Starts to Thunder, They All Stare

I've never been a fan of the outro.

I still remember, to this day, lying on my bed late one night when I was a teenager, trying to go to sleep but being unable to because something stupid I had done was keeping me awake, when "Hey Jude" came on the radio. It started out innocuously enough, with Paul telling Jude not to make it bad, to take a sad song and make it better, but before I knew it, I was enmeshed in a quagmire of na na na's and hey Jude's that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't escape. You think I'm exaggerating, I know, but it's the truth. I'm talking, I changed the radio station and listened to entire songs, I went to the bathroom, I read War and Peace. No matter what I did, every time I went back to what was most likely BIG 105.9 but may have been 103 SHE, Paul was still going on and on to Jude.

I wanted to blow my brains out.

To this day, I can't listen to that fucking song without being traumatized, and maybe as a result of that night or maybe because I was just built to not like the outro, I can't stand songs that take a long time to end.

Take Angels and Airwaves, even. My love for AVA can't be denied, but some of their songs are like Hey Jude Juniors, and sometimes, I have no choice but to cut them short. I listen until Tom says what he has to say, and then I skip to the next song, only to do the same thing when the end of the next song starts prattling on.

Actually, though--

Movies don't have outros in the same way that a song does (except maybe that one Lord of the Rings movie that ended over and over and over), but they do have endings, and some of them are entirely misguided and twelve hours too long (GoodfellasBoogie Nights, and Titanic, I'm talking to you). Some movie endings, like long outros, I just can't stand.

(Conversely, some movie endings I like so much, I watch them and nothing else from the movie. Can't Hardly Wait? An Officer and a Gentleman? Love, ActuallyNever Been Kissed? Do better things exist?)

It's funny. I never saw the connection before, but I always kid around with Griffin and Keifer that there's a finite number of X and once someone has reached that point, there's just no more of X that can be done. Example:

My longstanding favorite is There's a finite number of essays that someone could grade throughout life, and once that number has been graded, there's just no more grading that could be done.

And my new one is There's a finite number of miles that someone could run, and once those miles have been reached, that person is physically unable to run any more.

Those are jokes, of course, but they do reinforce the same idea, the same notion, the same value, that my inability to stick around for long outros does.

When things are meant to

end--

(STOP)