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.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Twenty-five cents each.

Woke up Saturday morning with a patio set on my mind.

Momentarily money conscious, I garage sale it, my mind focused down like a clamp: four black iron chairs, one tiny table.

Four black iron chairs, one tiny table. Four black iron chairs, one tiny table.

Do not be distracted by pretty sparkly things, I tell myself. By chandeliers and picture frames, linens and old wood.

Four garage sales later I have a single black iron chair, no tiny table and four perfect books.

Close Range, by Annie Proulx
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard

The chair was five bucks; the books were twenty-five cents a piece, sitting in a cardboard box with so many others, like puppies. I had to limit myself to four, an even number, a dollar.

I can't believe my luck. I open randomly to a page and gems fall out everywhere. Pretty, sparkly things.

From Close Range:

"He used to be a pretty good rancher, but his wife died and he's a dirty old boar in a boar's nest now," their father had said. "Stay away from there." Men had that flaw in them, Inez thought, to go over the cliff of events and fall precipitously into moral ruin.

From The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, page 117:

She tried to keep him out of her mouth but it was hopeless. Her forearm ached at the oddest of moments and she could feel his hangdog eyes on her everywhere.

From The House on Mango Street, page 57:

My Papa, his thick hands and thick shoes, who wakes up tired in the dark, who combs his hair with water, drinks his coffee, and is gone before we wake, today is sitting on my bed.

And I think of my own Papa died what would I do. I hold my Papa in my arms. I hold and hold and hold him.

From The Maytrees, page 122

Jane came back blinking. -Why is it always a big black snake? Have you ever seen a small one? Imagine their eggs. She looked at Lou, who had not budged. -Oh, you and your marble calm! Lou laughed and knocked down her water.

While I am doing this, Finn, my three year old just getting over the flu comes and crawls in next to me, his head on his blanket, his blanket on my keyboard. I try to explain all the books, the computer. I love words, I tell him.

Me too, he says. I love words. My favorite word is pumpkin, he says. But it comes out like "punkin."

My second favorite word, he says, is balloon. But it comes out like "bayooon."

My third favorite word, he says, is kitty cat. And it comes out exactly like that.

I have never thought of words so preciously. Even as I have loved them all these years, fussed over them, seen them in print. I have Sandra, Annie P., Junot and Annie D. to thank for that today.

And Finn.

Today, I am rich.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It just is.

As of yesterday, I had completed 79.7 miles out of my 240 mile goal and I was all on track: 11 miles a week until my birthday and whamo, done.

Then, I had this little goofy cyst taken off my shoulder yesterday and stitches were required. Of course they were. When they cut something the size of a small golf ball out of your shoulder (totally benign and harmless) it is going to require some stitching to pull that sucker together, right?

Anyway. I'm a bit slow on the uptake.

Bottom line: I can't run until the stitches come out. No running until April 20th, that's right. That means I lose ten days off my training time. Which means I need to tack on more mileage onto my already taxed running schedule once I can actually run again. And onto my taxed, still flabby body.

Did I mention I haven't lost any weight? Unless maybe that cyst weighed a few ounces.

I'm feeling sorry for myself, acting like I just missed my chance at the Olympics or something. And I'm dreading the idea of running MORE. Farther. And then I have delusional moments where I think of running a half marathon.

When I was at the doctor yesterday, I asked the nurse if she was grossed out by this surgery business. Is it gross, I asked.

"It's not gross. It just is," she answered.

There it is. Sage like words, I think. Not gross. Not lame. Not disappointing.

It just is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Birthday Dad. Lucky 66.

I am reading Bonfire of the Vanities and thinking of you. I just bought way too many books and thought of you. I ate way too much chocolate today and thought of you. I listened to your grandson sing You are My Sunshine and thought of you. I think of you. I think of you.

We had an Easter egg hunt today, but it was pouring rain, so the Easter Bunny only hid eggs in covered areas - thoughtful chap - and your grandchildren darted around the patio with their cousins like little squirrels in hoods yelling out "Found one!" and "Over here!" to one another, carrying their overflowing baskets of plastic eggs filled with stickers and chocolate and gum.

We made it inside finally and they opened every egg, sorting their treasures into piles of coins and chocolates and toys. It was like Halloween and Christmas and a yard sale all in one. They loved it. The big hit was a chicken that pooped bubble gum. A riot, really. Oh and a whoopie cushion. Anyway.

Hey, the other day I got an email from an old friend of yours. He was sad to hear you'd passed away and shared with me this recollection, which felt dead on:

"Your Dad could be quite positive, and also quite crazy! I remember the night
he threw a TV in the pool at a hotel in Florida. I guess he didn't like what
was on."

You never were the most subtle guy. I like that about you. I liked that about you. And it scared me, too. When I think about how different we are, how I would never do what you did, I also think about how glad I am about the ways we are the same. How your appreciation for art and music and literature and children and kindness and animals lives on, in me and my children. How I see so much of your gentleness in my daughter's touch. And your determination and fire in my son's. And your humor and intelligence in them both. And there's hope: I keep aging and growing and understanding more, but you are always stopped where you were and now maybe I can catch up to your wisdom. To your vast heart. To your craziness.

I miss you. I love you. I wish you were here. Obla-dee, Obla-da.

Happy Birthday, Dad.


Friday, April 2, 2010

And so it begins.

My daughter's first blow dry.

My sweet six-year old, the owner of ringlets so gorgeous you could cry, got her semi-annual trim yesterday and wanted the stylist to "make it straight" just so she could see what it would look like.

I let them flat iron my girl's hair. And, of course, she loved it. She is now bargaining for how long she can go until she has to wash it and return it to it's natural state. Like Cinderella at the ball, she doesn't want to go back now.

And I feel I failed her somehow. Never mind that I told her how beautiful it looked, that I still think her "real" hair is ever so much more beautiful. Never mind that I blow my own hair straight several days a week, but let it go curly too. Never mind that I finally reached my own peace with having hair that's different, just maybe a year or two ago.

Never mind to all that.

I want more for my girl.

I want her to want what she has. To love who she is. To see her natural beauty and not want to alter it one whit. I want for her not to struggle. Not to spend thousands on hair product. Not to process or sit with chemicals on her head for the next thirty years.

I want, as we always do, more for her.

And yet, I meant it when I said, she looks beautiful. Sitting in the chair yesterday, I watched her looking in the mirror at her reflection, loving it, smile beaming, head cocked. Her hair smoothed, I could really focus on her changing face, her skin translucent and clear, tiny dots of freckles on her nose and cheeks, just a sprinkling really, her eyes brown rimmed in blue and teeth in transition, some loose, one gone, one coming in.

Beautiful, like I said.

She has always been so lovely, but getting to see her step in and out of it like this, it's the first time really. She will try on things and I will be there to watch and witness. I will be there and I will want more and I will be quiet too. I will be there to say, Reese you look so beautiful, inside and out. And to mean it. To mean it with all of my heart.