Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Are You So Scared Of?

While I was talking to my lunch people today at lunch, the subject of open marriage came up. When I mentioned that five years ago I briefly kinda sorta had one, my lunch people had what I could only describe as a minor freakout. What?! What!? Shocked laughter ensued. What?! You don't seem that wild! the fortyish guy said. In the next few minutes, which was only a few minutes because the bell rang and that was all we had, among other things, the man said he wasn't that modern and then added that he could understand having an affair but no way could he understand having an open marriage.

Okay--
wait.

Am I the only one who sees something wrong there?

This man is so conditioned by societal norms and so comfortable with the notion of dishonesty that he thinks it's better to lie to a significant other than be in a relationship that allows for seeing other people. And he thinks that line of thinking is fine, as undoubtedly would the majority of people faced with the same two options.

Now, I'm not saying an open marriage, or relationship, is for everyone. It certainly didn't work for me. What I am saying, though, is that if two adults decide that the best thing for them and their relationship is to not be exclusive, that's perfectly fine. It doesn't mean that they're "wild," having sex with everyone they meet. It might not even mean that they're particularly into sex at all. It just means what works for them is different from what works for the majority.

Really, though, it doesn't matter what it means. I'm not here to argue the merits of an open relationship. I'm here to express my dismay over the idea that having an affair is fine and dandy--okay, maybe he didn't exactly say fine and dandy, but he did say he understands doing that way before having an open marriage--but people deciding to see other people is not. I'm here to express my disquiet over the judgment and ideas these people had both toward and about me as soon as I mentioned the words open marriage.

I guess what I'm actually here to do is say that society, with its rules and its judgment and its stay-in-the-lines attitude, absolutely, positively, totally
sucks. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Always Doesn't Last Forever

One of my favorite things about being a server was being touched. When you're a server and you're in the wait station and you're crazy busy, there isn't always time for excuse me. There's the hand on your back as someone reaches over your head to grab a straw, the fingers on your shoulder as someone reaches past you to grab a lemon, the occasional hand on your waist as you're moved ever so slightly out of the way so someone could grab a pile of share plates. Some people can't stand other people's hands on them, but I've always loved it, and when the hands are taken away, it's always felt like something is missing.

When I was in high school, my high school boyfriend, Louie, had a specific way of hugging me. Instead of a regular hug where he'd put his arms around me and I'd put my arms around him right back, I would hold my arms up in front of me, crossed into an X, right fist to left shoulder, and left fist to right. He'd then encircle what seemed like my entire body with his arms (it wasn't too hard since he was 6'2" and I was barely 5'), and there we would stand, my head to his big, wide chest, until I felt ready for him to let me go. I used to tell him that was my favorite way to hug because it was the only way he could hug all of me.

The last time Glenn and I were separated, when I was feeling particularly lonely in the middle of one night and couldn't stand to be alone in my bed for another second, I went downstairs to the family room where he was sleeping on the couch and lay down next to him. Since he was lying on his side, facing the room, and since we not only have a pretty wide couch but also an ottoman that butts up against it, space wasn't an issue. What the real issue was, of course, was that I had no business getting "in bed" with an estranged husband who for months I'd had nothing but negative communication and interaction with, but what I have no business doing and what I do are often different stories, so onto the couch I got. I crawled across the ottoman, turned around, and positioned myself right into the crook of his body. I don't know what I expected, but I know what I hoped, and that's that Glenn's arm would wrap around me or he'd pull me closer by my hip or his hand would settle on my arm. I hoped for any kind of acknowledgment at all. After about ten minutes of not getting any, I crawled back across the ottoman and left, even lonelier than before.

Now that I'm once again sleeping alone, whether it be physically or mentally, sleep isn't easy. I just don't do well with too much space.

I don't know why I've always wanted to be cradled, to be touched, or for "all of me" to be held, but I'm guessing having a mother who didn't even bother to call me when I found a lump in my breast substantial enough for my doctor not just to send me to get a mammogram and ultrasound but also to see a breast specialist probably has more than a little to do with it.

But this isn't a mom blog. 

It's not a feel-sorry-for-myself blog, either.

It's just a blog blog, like all the others.

***

A few days after the get-onto-the-couch incident with Glenn, I was telling a friend about what I had done. God, Kelly, you make yourself so vulnerable, she said, shaking her head. How sorry she felt for me--how pitifully she regarded me--was amazingly clear.

My stock reply when somebody tells me I changed my hair came to mind:

Always. 

I don't know any other way to be.

But that's okay because I honestly don't think I'd want one.

This same friend told me once that when her cat dies, she'll never get another pet. She'd already experienced so much loss in her life, she said, that any loss she could prevent, she would. Why get a cat if one day it's no longer going to be here?

I may make myself vulnerable--incredibly, stupidly, embarrassingly, heart wrenchingly vulnerable--but I don't think I'm the one who needs to be felt sorry for. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bitchin' Ca- Matrix?

I'm not going to accuse Griffin of breaking my car, but even though it was working fine when we embarked on his driving lesson, about half-an-hour later, after leaving the park where he almost hit a tree, and after a whole lot of lurching and stalling, there we were, stranded in the parking lot of a Jehovah's Witness church with a car that wouldn't start. That's all I'm saying.

I know it wasn't his fault, and I'm not at all mad, but let me tell you, the experience was...well, the experience was an experience. A learning experience, I guess I would say.


Even though you'd think that it wouldn't be since I've kind of been here before.

Like in my long-ago post, I'm Just a Girl, I was once again confronted with a situation I'd normally rely on Glenn for help with, and like in that long-ago post, I'm not really in a position to ask him. Or at least I'm in the position of really, really not wanting to.

So I didn't. Instead, Griffin and I sat around wondering what to do and who to call. Luckily for me, the Jehovah's Witness church Griffin and I were stranded in wasn't far from the house of a former student I know really well, so I was able to get her to drive over with jumper cables, and, well, long story short, thanks to her father being gracious enough to come and help both her and me out, Griffin and I were able to get home.

Lesson number 1, a lot of which I already knew and is rolled up with a bunch of sub-lessons: I'm not as capable of doing a lot of things as I should be (although no matter how capable, jumping a car without an accompanying car is pretty much as impossible as it gets), and I'm way too reliant on Glenn. Still, I'm able to keep calm in a "situation," and although I technically didn't get my car started on my own, I did find a way to get it started. So in the end, I can get things done.

***

I've never really been concerned with material things, and I think nothing demonstrates that more than my attitude toward cars. I've never been one to care about the appearance of my car, and for pretty much ever, I've judged and scorned people who do. When I see somebody in a crazy big SUV, I generally think that someone's a showoff and an idiot; when someone, like my sister, for example, freaks out about a scratch or micro-dent on her car, I think she's shallow and superficial; if I'm driving and see someone with a TV in their car, I immediately think that person's an ass; when I walk out and see my neighbors, youngish boys who think they belong in The Fast and the Furious, washing and buffing their cars almost every single day, I wonder where the hell their mother went wrong. Way more interested on spending money on things I find enriching like food or experiences, I've long deemed people like the ones above inferior and for years have proudly displayed my falling-apart car as an emblem of my moral superiority:

1. when the roof got mildly dented by a falling tree branch during one of the last hurricanes, I ignored my insurance's call for claims;
2. when I somehow got the faint paint impression of a pole on the passenger side, I pretty much didn't care;
3. when, one by one, my hubcaps disappeared as is a problem for most Matrixes, I was like, who cares? It's not like a car needs hubcaps to drive;
4. when I bumped into a gas station median a few months ago and got a pretty significant dent on the passenger side (not far from that paint impression I acquired years earlier), I wasn't exactly thrilled, but seeing as how I was already missing four hubcaps, had a small dent in the roof, and paint that wasn't supposed to be there on the side, I figured it wasn't really such a big deal;
5. when the passenger side door handle cracked in half and came off in Keifer's hand, I have to admit I was horrified for a second or two, but not nearly horrified enough to spend almost $300 to get it fixed;
6. and when the back passenger side door cracked in half in Glenn's hand last weekend, I paused but in truth, barely batted an eye.

I mean, a paid-off car that I bought brand new that takes me on road trips and gets me to work and to pick up my kids and has room for my dogs and is good on gas, and did I mention the car is paid off, meaning I don't have a car payment and haven't for more than three years and if I keep up with the mechanical stuff might not for three years more?

It kind of makes the cosmetic stuff seem like not such a big deal.

Which brings me to

Lesson number 2: I knew my student drove a BMW, but when she pulled up in the shiny damn thing and parked it next to not just my dented-up, hubcapless, no-door-handled, but also filthy, dusty, hasn't-been-washed-in-more-than-six-months-since-the-last-time-I-went-to-the-oil-change-place-that-washes/vacuums-the-car, the-car-wash-part-wasn't-working car, I have to say I didn't feel very good, and when her dad drove up about twenty minutes later in his truck with the spotless, perfect-looking engine and put his jumper cables in the crud-encrusted, leaf-filled hood of my car, I felt, I think the word is, humiliated. Absolutely mortified. And so it would seem I care about appearances a little more than I like to think. And maybe, just maybe, people who like to have nice things aren't as horrific as I've made them out to be. 

***

My door handles and hubcaps should be arriving from Amazon some time next week.

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Take the Good

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."
                                        -Roald Dahl

Today, I wore a star on my face. A little gold star that from far away probably looked like a piece of dirt or maybe a mole. I wore it right smack dab on my left cheekbone.

Like this (try not to focus on the nose):



It wasn't planned. I want to say it ended up on my face by accident but that wouldn't exactly be true because it's not like I bumped into a gold star with my face. What actually happened was this morning when I bent down to pick up my shoes from the hallway right outside my bedroom door, it caught my eye: a single gold star shining on grey carpet, juxtaposed with my matte black shoes.

Where it came from, I have no idea. Neither Griffin nor Keifer has done any recent school work that would entail using tiny, shiny gold stars, and it certainly wasn't there when I put my shoes on the floor last night. Regardless of how it ended up there, though, there it was, and to me--well, to me, it was magical.

A magical gold star.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere.

A magical gold star that appeared out of nowhere meant for no one but me.

Now, I don't know what you would do if you found a magical gold star meant specifically for you, but to me, there was no choice other than the one I made, and so I brought it into the bathroom, looked in the mirror, pressed the tiny, shiny, non-adhesive magical star to my skin, and what do you know? It adhered.

Just like magic.

As you can maybe imagine, the star invited commentary. Miss, you have a star on your face; Miss, there's a sticker on your face; or Miss, do you know there's a star on your face? were repeated throughout the day. Most of the time, a simple I know from me was all anybody needed, but one girl just couldn't understand. After she asked me if I knew I had a star on my face and I said yes, she asked me if I wanted it there (umm...if I didn't want a star on my face, and I knew it was there, would I have a star on my face?). When I assured her I did and walked away, I heard her saying she didn't understand why anybody would want a star on her face.

What I don't understand is why anybody wouldn't.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Imperfect Boys with Imperfect Ploys

As a feminist and someone with an interest in sociology, I've often wondered about men and women's roles not just in our society, but in all societies (or at least all societies I'm aware of. I realize there may be an anomaly or two out there. If there are, they're too few and far between to be relevant to this post).  I've wondered why and how it is that since the beginning of recorded history until now, men have been the one with all the rights and women have not. How is it, I wondered, that no matter where you look and no matter when you look, women couldn't vote...women were property...women had to cover X part of their bodies...women were stoned or covered in acid or their hands were cut off...women weren't allowed to work or go to school...women were ruled by men's decisions about their body? Was it simply that men were physically stronger? It couldn't be. Physical imbalance couldn't possibly explain the dominant role of men in societies everywhere.

Except I actually kinda think it could.

This summer there was an incident. For reasons that I don't agree with AT ALL, I can't reveal the name of one of the people involved, so for the sake of the story, let's call him Bob. Bob is eighteen and someone I know very well; in fact, I've known him pretty much his entire life. I also know his family, and he knows mine. We're like family, I guess you could say. Well, this summer, I was sitting down having a conversation with Bob--a normal, civil conversation with no voices raised--when, out of nowhere (like, literally, out of nowhere. I had witnesses to the conversation who confirmed it came out of nowhere, that nothing bad or antagonistic was said and that Bob is just a fucking lunatic), Bob says, maliciously and in no way at all kidding around, Fucking bitch.

I don't know what I did, but I imagine my mouth dropped open, I was so in shock. I know I didn't say anything. I was too surprised. And a second later when Bob stood up, said, Whore! and walked away, I also kept my mouth shut, just as I did when a minute later, he called me a pig. It wasn't until he called me a pig face (um, hello, have you seen this Greek/Italian/Jewish schnoz? Has Bob ever actually even seen the face of a pig?) that I said anything at all, which was that I didn't have a pig face because I had a big nose, and that it was funny because he was actually the one with the nose that kind of looked like a pig's. And that's when things got really crazy.

Bob, who's 5'7" and weighs about 230 pounds (there's a pig comparison there, but it's so easy, I won't point it out), came at me threateningly and, with the 90 pounds he had on me, shoved me against the wall and wouldn't move. He just held me there with his big belly, and there was nothing I could do. Nothing. And let me tell you, I was scared. Forget scared. I was terrified. Luckily, it was at that point that Griffin, a soon-to-be man who weighs 115 pounds and has never fought in his life, hit Bob in order to get him off of me (can I just say it's a good thing Griffin is the one I had there to defend me because if it were Keifer, I'd probably have been killed while he continued to sip his coffee and build things in Minecraft?). It was also at that point that things got a little crazier, the short version being that I was in between Griffin and Bob while Bob was hitting Griffin inches away from a sliding glass door and it was only because another man came along and was able to restrain Bob that Griffin and I didn't end up in way worse shape than we did.

What you're meant to come away with from that story isn't that Bob is an unstable fucking lunatic nutcase (although you probably did, and that's okay) but that it was all men running the show. From Bob's attack rendering me helpless to the fact that my fifteen-year-old son who I outweigh by twenty-five pounds had to free me to the other man who physically pulled Bob away (not once, but twice, but I'll stop the story there), it was all men.

I was absolutely, positively helpless.

Only two other times in my life have I felt that way, and yes, they both concerned men. One is a story I've already written involving an electrical cord and a rape, so excuse me if I don't go into it all over again. The other occurred when, five years ago, Glenn forcefully took my phone from me and refused to give it back. He came into our bedroom and ripped it from my hand, and no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it back. Honestly, Glenn is so much stronger than I am, my trying to physically get anything from him he didn't want me to have would be laughable if it weren't so frustrating, infuriating, and sad. Not only could I not get my phone--my phone, my very own phone, which I bought and paid for, which was MINE--but he also wouldn't let me out of the house. Because things were so insane, I tried to go to my sister's, but every time I did, Glenn blocked the doors. We have a front and a back one in my house, and try as I might, run as hard I could, bolt as abruptly as I did, every time I made a move, Glenn overpowered me and got right in front of the door.

Like this summer with Bob, like December 5, 1988, on that spring night of 2009, I felt completely and utterly helpless, impotent and powerless and entirely at the

--at the what?

whim?

mercy?

(certainly not mercy, for not one of the men involved in these incidents showed any mercy)

disposal?

(certainly disposal, for all of the men involved in these incidents saw me as an object, merely a thing capable of reinstating their loss of power)

--disposal of men.

Some of you reading out there, especially men, are probably annoyed or perhaps getting angry, thinking all men aren't like this, this blog is a gross generalization, plenty of nice guys abound and plenty of women aren't so nice at all; in fact, plenty of women fight just like men and are strong just like men and dominate people just like men, but I'm happy to point out that this is absolutely not the norm, and on a biological level, men are naturally stronger than women, and on an evolutionary level, they're dominant from their strong jawlines to their prominent brows. My argument is about none of those things. What is my argument then? I guess I'm not entirely sure (just like a woman, huh?). But when I take into account that even Griffin, who's half Bob's weight and one-hundred percent intellectual and therefore, zero percent fighter, hit Bob in my defense, which is something I would never do, resorting to screaming and panicking and freaking out instead, I think what it comes down to is this:

As "evolved" as we've become, as "civilized" as the world now is, as much "progress" as (it seems) women have made, women will be women and men will be men, and we will always--always--be at their mercy, and no amount of so-called equal opportunity or legislation or feminist ideology is going to change that.

And that really, really sucks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Still, I Thrive

For our first married Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something special for Glenn but wasn't sure what. After exploring a lot of ideas, I came across a recipe in the food section of the Sun-Sentinel for chocolate bags, which involved melting chocolate, painting the inside of small bags with the melted chocolate, peeling away the small bag, and then, voila! having a bag made entirely of chocolate, which was then to be stuffed with homemade chocolate mousse for which there was a recipe, too. It definitely didn't seem easy to me, but it wasn't like the recipe was in a gourmet cookbook or something; it was right there in the newspaper, designed for the masses. If the masses could do it, I thought, then surely I could, too.

I'm sure you don't have to read what I'm about to write next to know what happened: the bags were a bust. I won't go into the dreadful details, but--oh, what the hell? Let's detail it up.

I had worked an entire shift at The Cheesecake Factory, and on my way home, my then best friend, Erin, and I bought the ingredients for the bags and then stopped at my mom's house so I could make the bags and then bring them home to Glenn as a surprise.

I melted the chocolate, got the bags that needed to be "painted," did the painting, made the mousse while waiting for the bags to solidify in the fridge, and then set to work peeling off the paper bag so I'd have nothing left but the solid chocolate bag underneath. And then everything went wrong.

No matter how many bags I tried to paint and peel, no matter how thick I tried to make the chocolate, I just couldn't get anything substantial enough to hold together on its own. Every time I tried to peel the paper bag off the chocolate, the chocolate either came with it or was so thin that by the time I got to a lower part of the bag, it'd crumble--if you could even call it a crumble. In truth, there may not have even been enough chocolate that wasn't attached to the bag for it to qualify as a crumble.

Being three months pregnant and exhausted from having worked a hectic Valentine's Day shift at Cheesecake, I have to tell you that those failed bags seemed like nothing less than total catastrophe. I tried coming up with some other way, some creative way to present the chocolate mousse, but since everything else seemed stupid, I threw it in the garbage can. And then I sat on my mom's couch and cried.

As I sat there on the couch watching Erin and my mother eat the mousse out of the garbage can, all I could think about was how it was my first married Valentine's Day with Glenn, I was pregnant with his baby, and I wasn't going to have anything to give him. It was supposed to be special, but because of my inability to recognize what I can and can't do, I completely messed it up.

Well. Fast forward fifteen years and four months to yesterday, Griffin's fifteenth birthday. You'll be completely unsurprised to find that I still haven't learned my lesson. Every year, he or Kei, whose birthday is five days before Griffin's, asks for some impossible cake, and every year, like a damn fool, I agree to do it. Dragonballs, Legos, Darth Maul's lightsaber, Blink-182 album art. They ask, I do (or to be more exact, we do. Glenn usually gives me more help than not).

This year, though, Griffin made a request that takes the cake. This year, he asked for a Rubik's cube cake. A Rubik's cube cake! Like I'm frickin' Cake Boss or Iron Chef or some other reality TV person that I don't watch because until I got rid of my cable, I didn't even know how to turn on my TV. I told him there was no way I could make him a Rubik's cube cake, that I'm not a cake decorator, and it was absolutely out of the question.

But what the fuck do you think I did?

As adamant as I was about not making that cake, and I was adamant, let me tell you, I started letting these thoughts slip into my head. Okay, so you don't want to make the cake, I told myself. You can at least check them out. Just look them up on the Internet, I thought. It's not like you have to actually do anything.

Ha!

I googled Rubik's cube cake, and of course, because it's the stupid Internet, a million things came up. Images, recipes, tutorials. I clicked on a few pictures, opened a few links, read a few step-by-steps, and then clicked out. Me, attempt to make a Rubik's cube cake? Out of the question. Completely.

Ha!

Monday night, there I was, literally up to my forearms in my first ever attempt at marshmallow fondant (which if not the stickiest substance known to man, has to be a close second. I seriously think I could attach things to the wall with that stuff. Like a refrigerator). The tutorial warned me it would be sticky and to liberally grease myself and the counter up with Crisco, which I did, but I must have done something wrong because my hands were like blocks of cement. If Glenn didn't use a spatula to scrape the fondant from the tops and bottoms of my hands and destroy the webbing it created between my fingers, I'd probably be dead by now.

The next day, Tuesday, because attempting a first try at making fondant and a perfectly cubed cake wasn't enough, I set out to make all-natural food coloring. Poison my children with traditional food coloring? Not me. Hours later, a bowl of cherry juice sitting on the counter top and a white square of cherry-juice-resistant fondant floating inside of it, I didn't give two fucks who I poisoned. Sometimes you just have to choose your battles, you know?

Additionally, while I'm asking you what you know, did you know you have to color the fondant before you roll it out repeatedly, whip out the Boys-Town, he-ain't-heavy, he's-my-brother ruler, and make the 45 evenly-sized squares? I wish I had. I do now. Also, did you know it's best to make the cake before cutting the squares so you have some inkling, any inkling at all, how big you need those squares to be to cover the cake appropriately? I sure wish I had. But I do now.

All that fondant? All those squares? The ones I spent hours rolling and measuring and cutting and perfecting? Lumped back together into a pile, broken apart into separate piles, and poisoned in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. Left in the fridge overnight.

The next day, Wednesday--Griffin's birthday. Noon. I pull the fondant out of the fridge, drop the blue blob on the counter, roll it out, ready to make nine perfectly shaped squares, only to find that the liquid from the poisonous food coloring made it so soft, it was now more like gum than anything on this earth other than gum. Forming squares was impossible.

I know this is an incredibly long story, so let me just skim over the next seven hours of crying, frustration, hating and damning Griffin for his impossible request, and hysterical laughter when my all white Rubik's cube cake ended up looking like, according to Keifer, a spaceship with paneled walls, and according to an old student, a couch.

You know what? Just for fun, let's take a look:



Yes, readers. The above photo is, in fact, the Rubik's cube cake I spent three days and over ten hours working on.

I'll now skip to the part where a friend on Facebook suggested I arrange M&M's in colored squares, so I went to the store, bought two bags (along with a bottle of wine that, by that point, I felt like chugging right there in the parking lot at Walgreens), ripped off the fondant siding, and with a little (read: a lot) help from Glenn, completely redesigned the cake with an hour to spare before Griffin got home with his friends.

Just because I need to save a little face, let's now look at the redesign:



Not perfect, sure, but did you see the first version?

Anyway.

The point of this extra-large blog is not to pat myself on the back for a job well done. It's to reflect on my inability to realize the limitation of my capabilities and consistent attempt to do more than I'm able. I used the story of the chocolate bags and the story of Griffin's cake to illustrate, but this is a consistent theme with me. From major things like teaching a full load of AP Language and Composition classes along with two honors English classes during the day while also sponsoring clubs and driving an extra 80 miles twice a week to teach ENC 1101 classes for a year to getting an MFA while being a full-time high school English teacher, teaching night school, and raising two sons to minor things like thinking sanding and painting my dining room table and chairs when I hadn't sanded anything since seventh-grade shop class or taking my kitchen completely apart, cabinets and drawers and all, and painting it on my own will be a snap, I often find myself completely immersed in something that's impossibly hard for me to do. Sometimes it works out--like yesterday, with Griffin's cake--but sometimes, like with the chocolate bags, it turns into an absolute disaster. But the common thing, whether everything works out in the end or not, is that while I'm in the midst of the situation, whatever it might be, I feel like the Hellmouth is about to open and the world is about to end. I feel like I can't breathe, and like I can't do it, and I'm frazzled, and I'm frustrated, and I want to cry--and sometimes I do. But no matter how much I can't breathe, how much I can or can't do, how frazzled and frustrated I am, and how much I cry, it all eventually ends.

But I don't.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Don't Ever Look Back

Okay, so three days ago I finished the Runner's World Run Streak, a forty-day, one-mile-per-day minimum running challenge. The first thing I have to say is I've practically never felt so accomplished in my life (some of you may think that's not quite the right choice of diction since accomplished means highly skilled or expert, but believe me, it is). The second thing I have to say is that while I understand running between one and two miles a day for forty days, for a grand total of fifty-five miles, might not be a huge deal to a lot of people--like, say, my husband who runs that much, if not more, in a week--people should also understand that it's a lot to me. And the third thing I have to say is I actually have a lot to say, and since I like lists, well, here you go: a list of what I learned from running forty days in a row.

What I Learned from Running Forty Days in a Row

1. I'm a liar.

I began the Run Streak on May 26, Memorial Day. On June 2, after running seven consecutive days and almost nine miles, I needed a break, and I knew it. Same thing on June 8 and June 15. Being notoriously prone to run-related injury, I know the signs of overuse, and for the first time in my life, I heeded them. Instead of running, I did the elliptical (which really is just like running without feet hitting the ground) for 15 minutes and walked a mile+ on the 2nd and 8th; on the 15th, I was in Chicago without access to an elliptical so ellipting (ellipting? ellipticalling? I'm not quite sure how to verb that word) wasn't an option, but I walked about ten miles each day I was there, so I'm pretty sure I was covered. On June 18 I spent over 12 hours in an airport and couldn't do a formal run, but I walked two miles in the morning and sprinted through both Midway and whatever airport is in Detroit, so I got my exercise in that day, too. The point here, people, is no, I didn't exactly "run" every single day of those forty, but I'm calling the Run Streak a success nevertheless. If that makes me a liar, which I guess it kind of does, so be it.

2. My body is my body, and nobody knows it like me.

I read an article in SELF a few months ago called "Think Like an Athlete." An excerpt:

Really feel the burn.

Athletes get comfortable being uncomfortable. They anticipate the pain of a bonkers workout and embrace the fact that it's going to suck at points. Very different from us regular folks who freak out or shut down at any sign of exercise unpleasantness. "A lot of people panic when they experience any discomfort in their bodies," says Epstein. "Elite athletes do the exact opposite—they program themselves not to be rattled. You can see that on pain-threshold tests of elites; they become accustomed to the pain, and even while their bodies are in distress, their minds aren't. You can learn to do that just as you do any other part of training." How? You don't fear the hurt. Instead of backing off when breathlessness takes hold during a sprint, tell yourself, Relax. I know I'm going to be fine. This is not too hard for me, and I can do this. Then take your speed up one notch. Your body already knows it can handle the challenge. You've just got to prove it to your brain.

Kelly again. And a little history:

Yes, I already covered the I'm-injury-prone thing. If you're looking for technical information, in the past eight or nine years since I've been running, I've had, on more than one occasion, shin splints (but who hasn't?), Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and illotibial band syndrome; I've worn a boot on more than one occasion and been scheduled for foot surgery that I went so far as to be prepped for, IV and all, before changing my mind; my feet are also flat, I have arthritis in them, and one of my legs is longer than the other. I'm also not remotely what one would call "thin." In other words, biomechanically speaking, I'm a mess.

I'm also a fool. Despite these issues of mine, I read things, like the above excerpt from SELF, and I believe them. I follow very specific plans laid out by experts, like the SELF Drop 10 that called for running intervals at over 8 mph, and I think of their think-like-an-athlete spiel, and I push myself, and lo and behold, I end up hurt. Then, instead of running even a little, I can't run at all.

This time around, I knew what I could and could not do. I accepted that it wasn't all or nothing (see number 1), and instead of not being able to run anymore midway through the Run Streak, I completed the whole thing.

3. I'm unbalanced.

I see it in the mirror when I run at the gym, and I feel it in my stride. The right side of my body is different from, and does more than, my left (undoubtedly the reason why the list of injuries from above have all occurred on my right side). I try to correct the problem when I run, forcing my right foot to land in the same position as my left and straightening my torso, and I've tried to correct the problem when I'm not running through stretching, strength training, and physical therapy. It seems some things just can't be forced, and the "problem" cannot be fixed. Relying more on one thing than another is something I have to accept--I just have to learn how not to totally upset whatever balance I've achieved.

4. I'm capable of doing more than I believed.

(You may be sensing a theme here.)

Like I said in the beginning, forty days in a row and fifty-five total miles may not seem like a lot to you, but because of my history, I never thought I'd be able to do it (I hate to be repetitive, so I'll just refer you to number 2 for support). By following my plan and nobody else's, I was able to achieve it. Which brings me to number

5. History is not always the best indicator of the future.

When Glenn and I were separated, I once went to a therapist who told me that it was. I could see her reasoning, of course, but it's not the truth. At least it's not mine.

6. When Nike gave us the slogan Just Do It, they weren't fucking around.

So many times, I didn't want to run. My ankle hurt, my hip hurt, I was tired, it was raining, it was hot, I was afraid I'd get lost on the streets of Chicago, a storm was brewing five states away. If I listened to my excuses (the bullshit ones, not the valid ones like impending injury), I'd have failed. Sometimes we just have to tell the voices in our heads to shut the fuck up, or we'll never do what has to be done.

7. Running is a metaphor for absolutely everything.

But that one I already knew.