Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mustard Seed School.

Our family has been looking to adopt. An organization, that is. One we can really give our hearts, time and what itty bitty extra cash we have. And we found it: The Mustard Seed School, an emergency school for homeless children here in Sacramento.

Last week, as a family, we took a tour of the school and brought the swimsuits, towels and sunblock we'd collected from the community for the school's summer program. These kids are going swimming, thanks to the generosity of so many of our friends and family; we brought enough sunblock to protect the entire epidermis of California, I think.

Our tour guide was one of the coordinators of the school, Lianna. She was wonderful, full of information about the school, including the part about how she had once been a parent of a student at the school, back when she was homeless with a seven-year old. She had been an addict, had been raised by addicts and had her first child at 14. And now, here she was, employed, with housing, her children in school and doing fine. Here she was, helping other families get back on their feet, giving them the second chance she got right here. Karma in motion.

Tonight, we made tomorrow's lunches for the kids. We signed up for one day this month and next to provide lunches for the twenty-five or so children that usually fill the school on any given day, kids that are brought to the school from living in their cars, from living on the street, from living in whatever hell or happenstance has led them there. Tonight we made lunches, the four of us, to deliver to the school tomorrow, because as Finn, my three year old said to me: we make lunches because we have food and they don't and if we don't make lunch, the kids will have no lunch.

Sometimes it's just so simple. Three-year old kind of simple.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finish line.

I am a perpetual starter of things. So many of which have been cast aside when I get distracted or bored, or just plain give up. I am the two-year old in love with a shiny new toy, my chubby little fist wrapped around it hard, my heart aflutter. Until something else flashier, sparklier with brighter lights comes along. And then I'm off.

The list of unfinished business is long:

Learning to ice skate
Learning to play the flute
Learning to read music
Writing a novel
Writing a novel
Writing a novel
Learning to REALLY cook
Working out
Eating right
Working out
Eating right
Learning to REALLY swim
Learning to dance
Learning to REALLY speak Spanish

Heavens sake, I'm a dabbler. A dabbler who can't skate across the ice, do a cartwheel or the cha-cha.

And I'm tired of giving up. And I'm tired of having a skimming ability at life. I want to be deeper, better, more proficient forty-year old person. I want to be able to swim, damn it.

That's why I'm putting on my attractive compression socks this morning at 5:23am, slipping into my orthodic inserted running shoes and heading to the gym. 142 miles to go. 10 and a half weeks left. I have a head cold and have lost my voice and I don't care. I am finishing this and that is that.

I am saying my mantra for today: 3.3 miles and that is that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

You could play with me more.

I asked for it: what could I do to be a better mother, Reese?

You are perfect, Mom. You are an EXCELLENT mother, she replied.

I know, I know, but if there was something, anything I could do to improve, a teeny tiny thing -

Well, you could play with your kids more.


What do you mean, I ask calmly. What I mean is NEVER MIND, SORRY I ASKED.

Well, during the week we rush home and you're making dinner and then you're the last one to sit down at the table and then you're the last to sit for books because you're doing dishes -



But you are so sweet, Mama. I love you sooooooooo much. You are an execellent mother.

My good friend and I are at lunch today and I confess this. My glaring deficiency.

Can you believe it, I say, what a horrible mother.

I don't play with my kids enough either she says, and I stay home with them.

YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT MOTHER, I say to my good friend, and mean it.

We are all trying. Our legs are spinning and running like we are on unicycles. And we are doing well, mostly. As mothers, we are doing pretty well. Maybe we should play more. Maybe we should.

We also should say GO PLAY WITH YOUR BROTHER. And go take a bath with a magazine and a glass of wine. But we don't. So there's that.

My good friend and I decide that we will start by leaving the dishes in the sink longer. We will pretend they are not there. Perhaps we will do them in the morning.

Tonight, we will play Candyland.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bodies in motion.

My body keeps getting in the way of itself - and of my mileage goals - with it's inadequacies. Skin issues, stomach viruses and now, shin splints and a head cold.

It's dawning on me: I have spent 39 years not noticing my body. Certainly, not appreciating how well it works, how little it fails me.

These legs and arms and stomach muscles, while not Olympian or particularly photogenic, have been moving my brain and heart around all this time, a vehicle. I've had a perfectly reliable Volkswagen of a body and I've ignored it, treating as though it were an Edsel.

This soul casing of mine has survived chicken pox and pneumonia, acne, two big falls during childhood, breathing way too much hairspray, second hand cigarette smoke and smoggy L.A. air. It's been in a couple of car accidents, one so long ago that it involved flying forward in the passenger seat at full speed, cracking my head on the dashboard. It's survived falling in love, and all the emotions, hormones, and late nights that go with that. Plus, two babies have made their way into the world through me. Two entire people have lived in me. And come out the better for it.

My body has survived all of that, without my asking really.

And now, I am asking it to run just a few miles. Just 145 more miles. By July 18th.

But I've had to resort to walking now; my body just can't run at the moment. And so I'm doing what I've got to do: keep going. Today I walked my 3.3 miles and it took 48 minutes. I noticed a lot more that I do when I'm running. Families splayed out loving on one another. Little kids running from one pool of shade to the next. A big man lying in the lap of his wife. I am in awe of humanity, really. And today, I was going slow enough to see it.

This weekend we went to my sister in law's ranch house and the kids ran wild. This is them, their bodies not failing them, their spirits free. I get high just looking at them.

When I can run again, I will appreciate every step.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Treasure found.

We got a fancy new camera for the holidays and it's like having a house guest, it seems. I just can't get comfortable around it. Just now, I downloaded the pictures we'd snapped over the first part of this year. And so many are of Reese and Finn, together.

I know how close they are, these two. But seeing it here, all anew, it's going to my head.

I want to say this to you, my sweet Reese and my darling Finn: Stay like this forever. Lean into one another. Have each other's back. Get mad and then get un-mad. Practice being your best for each other. Practice being dragons together. Share your blocks and your crayons and your time. Laugh until you can't stand up. Know you have the best father in the world. Be nice. Be nicer. Keep having sleepovers. Eat too much candy. Brush your teeth. Listen to your sister. Listen to your brother. Listen to your mother.

Know that you are exactly enough. That you are way too much. That you and your Dad are my reason for being; you are the light and the sun and the stars and the moon. You are everything and you deserve everything. And I am your mama and it's because I said so.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One for four this week. Done. Snap.

6AM. 3.3 miles to be done today; four days this week. This is Day 1 and my eyelids are stuck down tight. I shove my body in clothes; they don't like it. We stumble our way to the gym.

Ipod in. Fergie saves me.

Oh snap!
Oh snap!
Oh snap!
(Are you ready for this?)
Oh snap!

Oh! It's me, Fergie
The pimp, Polow!
Fergie Ferg, what's up baby?
Come on!

When I come to the club, step aside
(Oh snap!)
Part the seas, don't be havin? me in the line
(Oh snap!)
V.I.P. ?cause you know I gotta shine
(Oh snap!)
I'm Fergie Ferg and me love you long time
(Oh snap!)

I am running. Fergie, half my age, the wench is yelling in my ear about her girls getting down on the floor and it is my only hope. She is my only hope this pop queen at 6 am. My ass is dragging on the end of the treadmill, the dreadmill, the deadmill I am thinking darkly already and Fergie is lecturing me the whole time:

And I'm like, ?Get up out my face!
(Oh snap!)
?Fore I turn around and spray your *** with mace!?
(Oh snap!)
My lips make you want to have a taste
(Oh snap!)
You got that? I got the bass

Fergie is just getting going but I am roadkill. I am treadmill kill. My shirt stuck to me like saran wrap, my face puffy and red. There is nothing good about this today, except the possibility that it will end.

I stop to get paper to take notes on my pain for later, just in case I forget. I am gone 32 seconds and the treadmill reboots and I lose my precious mileage and I have to start again.


And then, thirty-six minutes later, a million minutes later, lead drained down into my legs,pooling at my feet, I am done and am stretching in the front exercise room, the one with the spin bikes where everyone rides but no one goes anywhere. There is the guy who races his stationary bike in full gear. He is like the wind this guy, even though he is standing still. I am afraid to stare but I can't help it: the sweat is flying, his tires are churning so fast; it's the sound of a bee hive on his tail. Whir. Whir. Whiiiiiiiirrrrrr. Then, his breath, gasping and collapsing. Whirrrrrrr.

The energy he's generating with his bee wheels, this guy. The wind energy. I start thinking of ways to light the neighborhood with the power of his rear tire. Me, the sudden environmentalist, ideas bubbling over.

Mickey, the sixty-year old speed walker over on the elliptical, asks how I’m doing. I tell her a half marathon every week, Mickey, I need a half marathon every week to make it to my goal. She asks if I take credit for walking. Not really I say , though soon I’ll be taking credit for middle of the night trips to the bathroom. Strolls to the kitchen.

I push open the door. Rain on my face. Warm outside. Tropical even. A spring storm, the weatherman says. There is a picture of a snow skier on the front page of the Sac Bee. He is in a speedo. And I think of what Fergie would say.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The New Math.

I haven't run for two weeks. Not until yesterday that is.

I'd been derailed by a double whammy: a minor skin procedure requiring stitches (no running with stitches, apparently) and then the nightmare of all stomach flus, one that sidelined three out of four of us here at the homestead.



I've got 12 weeks.

12 weeks from today is my birthday. My 40th birthday and I've got a measly 82 miles run to my credit and 158 to go, in order to get to 240, if you're one of my three followers and are thus, following this.

That means running 13.16 miles per week to get there. That's 3.29 miles, four times a week.

Oh lord, help me.

The good news? I am able, physically able to lose weight, as proven by dropping four pounds from above referenced horrific stomach flu.

Yesterday, I kicked off my last twelve weeks of this effort with a few laps at McKinley Park, my favorite park in the world I decided yesterday on my second lap. Even better than Tuilerie Gardens in Paris. Maybe it's because, McKinley is in Sacramento, not Paris and therefore doesn't come by it's beauty by pedigree alone. It has to work it a little. I like that in a park. The roses are all in bloom and they have names like Playboy and My Sweet Clementine and are showing off like crazy right now, smelling up the whole park.

And the trees are heavenly, did I mention the trees?

Stinky duck pond.

Couples hand in hand, walking. A mom's group lifting weights, hands lightly on their strollers. An old lady walking an even older dog.

What gets me about running is the other runners. There is pure, naked effort. And no attempt to hide it. The audacity of it, the bravery stuns me every time. We are all out there huffing and puffing, fighting last night's ill-chosen potstickers and genetics and time management. We don't have the perfect shoes or knees; our sports bra isn't what it should be.

And yet. We are there.

I am listening to Stevie Wonder and Black Eyed Peas and Be Good Tanyas and Bruce Springsteen and Salt N Pepa and Marvin Gaye and Joss Stone and their voices are carrying me along and so are the steps of the runners in front and behind me. I am floating just on top of the trail and I only have 158 miles to go.

158 miles to go.