Wednesday, May 30, 2007


"What do I have to do to get you to take a shower?" These are the words of my loving husband as I crawled into bed on Sunday night. Sexy.

Actually, he was quite right. This is why it's very important that if you marry, you marry your best friend. Not someone you get along with so-so, but your absolute best friend. That way, you can enjoy a brutal honesty such as ours. I love my husband.

I don't always smell bad. Neither do I usually avoid showering. However, on Sunday, I was coated in the sweaty remains of my second 5k in two weeks. One might think that sweaty remains of any event call for showering. One would be wrong.

Sure, my sweaty remains were tinged with the oddly sweet smell of tequila oozing out of my pores from a fantastically indulgent Saturday. But I'm not one to let odd smelling sweat hold me back from much. Certainly not from basking in the sweaty glory of another race run. When my tired and sweaty self crumpled into bed on Sunday, I just wasn't ready to let go yet.

And so I promised that husband of mine that I'd shower on Monday. And that's love.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Living Here

I have this dream of running away to the South of France. Taking my husband and my puppy, and just going. I used to have a co-worker who was a therapist and I told her this one day. She responded by saying, in a very therapist-y way, "what's in France?" How annoying.

I was thinking about this today as I ran. I hate therapist-y questions. Yet I found myself drawn to answering her question. So hell, I'll play. I'll tell you what's in France.

Bordeaux, for one. Winding dirt roads with open fields and old stone walls. Herb and perennial gardens. Afternoons filled with artisan cheeses and velvety red wine. Exploration and adventure. No strings. No responsibilities. So perhaps I've romanticized a bit.

I have a similar fantasy of St. Maarten. The Dutch side. Just swap in open water, palm trees, and afternoons filled with papaya and sweet rum. No strings. No responsibilities.

And I've got to tell you, romanticized or not, it still sounds like a hell of an argument to me. But every now and then I do this little thing where I crawl out of the depths of my mind and peek out at the living world around me. And I looked up and saw a deep blue sky. Ahead of me was the winding dirt road on which I live. To both sides, open fields with wildflowers and lazily grazing horses. I ran over the old stone bridge and thought to myself, this must be Provence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


So I'm going to run another 5K this weekend.

My first 5K was one of those monumental little moments in life, one of those things that we do "just for me." My goals, as I've already shared, were meaningful, yet not particularly difficult. Not to say that restraining from incontinence is not a fabulous goal...I think it's both fabulous and widely appreciated by fellow runners. And the race was a great experience. As I've also already shared, I had some nice little revelations along the way as I tried to figure out what the hell I was doing.

That said, I'd like to be perfectly clear about my motivation for this weekend's run: free beer. Free Redhook beer.

And that, my friend, is what life is all about. Not beer. Balance. One week you run like the wind because you might just die if you stay still, and the next you run your little bum off because there's beer at the finish line.

Crisp and refreshing.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Me, the Runner

I ran a 5K today. Two months ago, my greatest form of exercise was parking far away at the grocery store and walking 300 feet to the entrance. Well, if the weather was nice. Today, I'm the proud 186th place runner at the Exeter PTO "Get Fit in May" 5k. Yes, I came in 186th place. And I'm not complaining.

I had two goals in this race:

1. Finish without dying, stopping, fainting, crying, hitting or pinching the other runners,
vomiting, soiling my pants, or walking.


2. Don't be the absolute last to finish.

Well, mission accomplished. I did not die, and that's good. I did not faint, stop, or cry, and although I came close, I did not express any violence towards others. Neither did I vomit, soil my pants, or walk. So I'm pretty good on that one. And, although I came in at proud number 186, there were over 114 people who came in after me. Ha.

And I ask myself..."why, why the hell, on a cold, rainy, Saturday morning, when I could be sleeping until high noon, am I getting up at 6:30 am to run?" I don't know if I can answer that one.

Is it because I'm trying to shrink my bum? A little. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally into radical self acceptance. I just want what's best for my bum though, and I think it'd be happier if it were a teensy bit smaller.

Maybe it's because I'm 26 and I'm not where I'd expected to be in life and don't know when or if I'll ever be there. And because the doctor keeps mentioning "infertility" and "endometriosis" and I just got a shot in above mentioned bum to warp me into instant menopause in a last ditch effort to kick some endometriosis-ass.

And because the word "infertility" makes me want to scratch somebody's eyeballs out and I'm a little bit angry all of the time and I've accepted that and I'm working on outletting it in a healthy way even though everyone else finds it a little bit scary.

So I run. And I ran today and I thought about it all and didn't feel guilty when I passed eight year olds who were beating my ass...I felt proud. Because at some point or other they're also going to have to learn that you don't always get to the finish line first and sometimes you end up in a different race entirely. Sometimes, you just have to run for the sake of running.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Dog Whisperer

Being a bit of a dog person, I sort of love the Dog Whisperer show with Cesar Milan.

At the beginning of the show I think there's some sort of little disclaimer encouraging viewers to refrain from trying to whisper dogs themselves. However, I, living on the wild side as I sometimes do, and, being a bit of a dog-professional, really feel that this doesn't quite apply to me.

So sometimes I fancy myself as sort of an amateur dog whisperer. Now with all of her licking and sweetness, I find that Bella really has no call for whispering. A little hardcore training, sure, but whispering, no. Thus I have to save my whispering for chance encounters with aggressive canines. Always a good idea.

And it just so happens that along my little running route, I have quite a few opportunities for whispering. Seeing as though I'm running, I forgo most whispering opportunities on this route because I figure stopping to perform virtual magic on dogs might interrupt my rhythm. But there is this one house that sort of draws me in. Chain link fences all around. Tall, decrepit chain link fences.

On any given day, there may be anywhere from two to five dogs lurking behind these fences. These dogs call for some whispering, let me tell you. Not only do they bark, growl, jump on the fence in a desperate attempt to escape and eat not just my flesh but Bella's too, but they follow me along for about 100 yards...very persistent little buggers. Oh, and they terrify me.

So every day, I run by feeling scared and looking for a large stick to use as a weapon should they escape. And then one day it hit me. No need to be scared...I'm like Cesar. I'm a dog whisperer too. Time to put the magic to work.

I make my ascent on the glittering metal yard. As summoned, the dogs approach, barking and growling. This time, I do not just run by. I will be a victim to barking no longer. I stop. I square my shoulders and push out my chest. I stretch my spine to try and gain a little height. I find the meanest looking dog and I show no fear-I look him square in the eye and focus all of my dog-whispering powers in his direction. He seems dissatisfied with this, which he communicates to me by raising his hackles and stirring up a deep low grow but I don't let that scare me. Nope. Instead, I take a menacing stomp! towards him and push out my chest again. Bella's wondering what the hell I'm doing and why I've chosen to do so with her at my side. She paces around me as if to say, "hey, they're not so bad. Let's just head on out of here...right?" By now I'm pretty sure I look like a deranged arthritic ostrich, but I'm Cesar and Cesar's really not concerned with appearances. So I stomp! again all the while never breaking my power stare with tough guy.

And then it might be working, because he gets really, really, still. So still, actually, that his muscles tense up like he's just a stone statue of a vicious beast, except not quite a statue because he's actually vibrating out of rage. And then he pounces. His body flies through the air, teeth glinting in the sun, ready to crack my bones.

So it takes me about a tenth of a second to decide that I'm not a dog whisperer after all. Bella and I don't stick around to see where he lands. We run. We run like we've never run before. I can hear him behind me hissing and barking and doing all those things dogs do when the devil has possessed their soul. And we run. And run. I break through "the wall" with my pace and suddenly I no longer resemble a turtle when I, I'm a beautiful gazelle gracefully bounding over the landscape and away from the hyenas who want to eat my gazelle flesh.

I've allowed my dreams of becoming a dog whisperer, with all of its fame and glory and Cesar-ish-ness to flutter away in the wind. I'm basically a professional runner anyway, so no matter.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Under the Magnolia Tree

We've planted a magnolia tree. It's small, and by no means does it distract the eye for long enough that one would fail to notice our back yard is a virtual wasteland, but hey, we're trying. So far the tree has survived The Puppy.

Bella, as I believe we've established, has a bit of a thing for sticks. Specifically, Bella likes to drag sticks onto the front lawn on the warm spot above the septic system. She has this carnal draw to poop. And despite the fact that she finally won out with the tea rose, (at some point I just had to accept that the tea rose was dead. Replanting it the fifth time, scraggly little tea rose fronds flopping here and there, felt like cruel and unusual punishment for the little plant) she seems to be scared of the magnolia and thus refrains from immediate attack. She does, however, bark at it regularly.

So yesterday I think of how quaint it would be to sit underneath my three foot tall magnolia and read. I bring out my towel to sit on and plop myself down. I read about a paragraph, which was difficult, because I had seventy-five (yeah, I'm now calling it seventy-five) pounds of puppy squirming in my lap.

Seventy-five pounds of squirming puppy in your lap is not perhaps all its cracked up to be. It's actually a whole hell of a lot more. Sure, there's fur, (lots, and lots of fur) and there's chub, and a whomping! tail, but there's also a matter of sand-papery paw pads with half-inch nails attached and gleaming white teeth. Perhaps these hazards seem harmless, because what snuggling puppy puts them to use? Mine.

Bella snuggles with her whole self. She licks my face and feet, even in between my toes, and she usually saves the armpits for last. She's the only one who appreciates my salty, patchouli-laden armpits. Why do I allow her to lick me all over? Because she's sitting on me and I can't get up.

After the licking, Bella usually goes into the nibbling. She likes to nibble ears and noses and wrists...especially likes the wrists. And the nibbling usually starts out innocently enough, but it's so hard to nibble gently when there's that much puppy love and energy pumping through the veins. Don't write off puppy love as fluffy and light. Puppy love is heavy stuff. Slobbery, hairy, ferocious stuff.

Once she's satisfied with the nibbling, which is practically never, Bella moves on to petting. Not sure how to describe this one, to be honest. All I can figure is that she must think to herself, "nice people pet me, and I like it. I bet nice people would like it if I pet them, too." So Bella takes her gargantuan paws (sandpapery pads and claws included) and strokes my face, my arms...let's be honest, she takes what she can get.

By now every inch of exposed skin is covered in puffy pink welts and fur pasted on with lots of slobber. So Bella moves into the final stage of the snuggle: the wiggle. She flips onto her back, (mind you, she's still ON me) legs kicking joyfully in the air, head thrown back, and has a happy little wiggle. She wiggles until she finally falls off onto the lawn, where she commences to lazily roll in the grass until she gets dizzy, and then sits up and sighs, tongue hanging out of her mouth and clovers embedded in her fur.

So instead of reading, I had a good long dose of some good old fashioned puppy loving. Bella has a way of sensing what's really needed.

And in addition to reminding me to run zen-fully, she reminds me to love...and be loved... boundlessly. Who needs religion?

And hey...Happy Birthday, Jeffers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What We Don't Say

We're terrified of one another. People, that is. Scared shitless. The sad reality that humanity seems to have come to terms with (come to terms with!!!) is that we're scared of people who are different and so we come up with reasons to go to war. I saw a bumper sticker last week that said, "Nuke their ass...take their gas!" Rock on, freedom of speech. When in history did we begin to interpret freedom of speech as encouragement to print and say the most inflammatory things possible? I'm not sure that's what the old guys had in mind when they started out.

But even though war and freedom of speech and assholes with cringe-inducing bumper stickers is an interesting topic, it's not what I'd planned to write about today. Because even though a violent fear of the unknown grips our little world, we're also gripped by a paralyzing fear of those who are like us. And while most (some, certainly; most, no) of us don't become violent over this fear, it certainly causes its own little wars. Not wars in the sense of bombs and troop increases, but familial wars...wars of words and isolation and resentment and distrust.

Why are we scared of one another? Is it because that while we're all supposedly secretly hankering to be just like the Joneses, we're also all terrified of being just like the Joneses?

Maybe we fear that having their minivan means having Tom's roving eye and Judy's penchant for vodka. And so we talk about the minivan...we even let Tom and Judy take us for a test drive and tell us how much they paid and how the sales guy was a real slick rick. We'll all laugh and feel warm and fuzzy over the forged intimacy. But we'll wait until Judy goes to get the casserole out of the oven before making inferences about Tom and the ladies, and we'll quietly wonder on our way home if Judy actually had vodka in that "water" bottle.

And not to point fingers at Tom and Judy. Substitute out those little matters of infidelity and over-indulgence and fill in the blanks with some other infliction and you've got all of America wrapped around your little finger. We stick to safe subjects and leave the darker ones for hurried moments alone on the phone with Judy before Tom walks in and discovers that his wife is miserable.

Funny thing is, I'm an optimist. Maybe a sarcastic optimist, but an optimist all the same. Sure, it sounds cynical to point out that we are human, complete with human flaws and weaknesses. But I only point it out to say that it doesn't have to be that way. Screw sensitivity and discretion. How about sensitivity and communication?

I imagine a world where we just throw it all out there. Where health, fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams, losses, personal demons and struggles are not taboo subjects. I want to live in a world where we know that life with it's hazards is not a communicable disease. Where we all have enough within to give freely without the worry of depletion. I want a world without hushed corners but with wild and brash conversation.

No mom, I'm not Judy. Even if you substitute wine. Even if it's really, really, good wine.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Flying to the Moon

People always ask me if I'm a vegetarian. I think there's something about me that gives off a vegetarian vibe. Probably because I wear Birkenstocks a lot. Or maybe because, to my family's chagrin, I love patchouli. However, I happen to be quite the carnivore. I love meat. And not just your typical meat. I love buffalo, and duck, and I hold a very special place in my heart for lamb. So maybe that explains the dream. Payback.

Last night I had this dream where I was at some sort of sheep farm owned by my step-grandmother. It wasn't a typical sheep farm, because to my knowledge, most sheep do not bite. At least not frequently and viciously and with the goal of drawing blood. These sheep bit, and they bit for blood. Heels, specifically. So I'm going through this dream and my heels keep bleeding because unlike all of the sensible people around me who are wearing sneakers, I'm wearing my Birkenstocks. Of course I'm wearing my Birkenstocks.

The sheep also all had horns like on Rams that you see in pictures of far away mountains in Europe. Woolly, twisted horns. I suppose that would make the sheep in my dream rams as well. Biting rams.

Now my step-grandmother is not much of a housekeeper. Not in real life or in her biting-ram farm life. There are some people who are not big on the housekeeping, and then there are people who you visit and then want to go home and shower in scalding water and bleach for an hour. She falls into the latter category. And no, we're not close.

So I'm at her farm, trying to avoid being dinner for her rams, and she takes me inside and keeps trying to feed me. All of the food is covered in an oh-so-appetizing brown slime like you get when you forget you had cilantro in the crisper and three weeks later find a soggy produce bag full of brown mush. If this has never happened to you, let me give you a little advice on the subject. Absolutely, positively, DO NOT breathe in until you have thoroughly disposed of the mush in an air tight space. Otherwise, you'll be lucky if you're up to eating cilantro a decade later, and cilantro is definitely too fabulous to miss out on for a year, let alone ten.

So that's my dream. Actually, it's not the whole dream, but dreams have a way of evolving into other dreams that evolve into other dreams and on and on. By the end of this one, I kid you not, I was dissembling lawn mowers to turn into rocketships so I could fly to the moon. Except I knew I wasn't quite sure which part of the lawnmower was needed for this feat, so I was stuffing lawn mowers in the back seat of my Sentra to take back to someone who would know, but then I couldn't shut the doors of my car because the lawn mowers were too big. So I was driving along with my car doors open and got the brilliant idea to hold them shut with a bungee cord. I pull over and am looking for that damn bungee cord and then I see this guy on a snowmobile even though it's summer and so I know he's up to no good.

Then I woke up. Also, I cheat when I play Spider Solitaire.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Running with the Puppy

So I signed up for a 10K in September. Running is one of those unexpected flowers in my bouquet. A smelly, slow, sweaty, wilted flower. But a flower nonetheless.

Bella is my running partner. Not because she's a particularly good running partner, we'll get to that in a minute, but because I love her and I love expelling some of her energy that otherwise gets outletted by meticulously chewing the baseboard trim off of my walls.

I read this article from Runner's World about how all runners are both physically and metaphorically running away from or to something else. How poignant. Okay, and maybe true. I guess I'm doing both. Bella, however, is doing neither. She is an accidental runner, or to be more accurate, she's a runner because I force her to be. She lacks my passion and occasional spatterings of anger that arise when my legs and lungs beg me to pick a lazier way to travel.

Bella plods along. She stops and smells delicious puppy smells: mysterious road-side poop, dead chipmunks, dunkin' donuts cups. Sometimes, she decides she must eat these items. I try to discourage that.

So as Bella smells and plods, I run next to her, attempting to convince her to keep up with my grueling 2.2 mph pace, listening to Phish and Juice Newton. Perhaps my musical choices contribute to my break-neck speed.

Most recently, Bella has discovered a new treasure in the natural world: men's discarded underpants. Men! Should you be suddenly consumed by the uncontrollable urge to shed your shat-upon unmentionables outside of the privacy of your own home, I beg you to restrain yourself. Before you strip, I encourage you to envision my seventy pound puppy (seventy! pound! puppy!) hurtling forth through the air, swinging your Fruit of the Looms in her mouth, eight inches of tongue flopping around, and happily presenting them to her mortified owners for a good old fashioned game of tug-of-war. Please.

Today, thankfully, Bella and I did not encounter any tighty-whities. Today we hunted Mourning Doves. Mourning Doves love dirt roads. Bella loves birds. Please do not be alarmed. I assure you, we did not catch any. Picture the aforemetioned seventy pounds of most likely developmentally disabled puppy stealthily stalking a creature with wings, and you can understand why she has to start the hunt half a mile away.

Bella, with her crusty underpants and clumsy meanderings, is my zen for running. It's hard to run with passion and anger when she's two feet away from me, fully content to pounce on and rub her face in whatever the world presents to her. So while I refuse to delight in the pleasures of mysterious poop, I will agree to the symbolism behind it. God knows that whatever I'm running from and to is going to have to be patient...I'm a slow runner.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Something Beautiful

The puppy pulled up my sticks. Most of them, anyway. What might have someday become gorgeous blooms are now scattered across my front yard in some sort of puppy-chewing heaven. All I want is something beautiful.

And my "n" key is broken on my keyboard, forcing me to pound on it multiple times before yielding any result. "N" is actually quite a popular letter, I'm finding.

I think we all have a space within us for something beautiful. Hopefully, we've got space for a lot of beauty. But sometimes when I look at the world, I think starting with just one beautiful thing would be okay. I'm trying my damnest to fill that space.

For a while, I thought I had a hole that could not be filled. Now I'm realizing there is no hole, just space. Space that grows to accomodate what I use to fill it, and then make room for more. So I'm grabbing beauty every place I bump into it and eating it up...adding it to that space. And my collection of "something beautiful" grows. I thought I wanted a single, beautiful bloom. Instead, I have a bouquet.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Planting Sticks

Even though they said it would rain, it didn't. Yesterday was filled with sun, a funeral, a consultation about a tankless water heater, and the planting of several new little plants. Over the winter, feeling a deep and sad longing for spring, I joined Arbor Day. As a thank you, I was assured I would be sent "10 flowering trees plus a lilac bush!" Sure enough, at the "appropriate planting time for [my] region" a muddy bag of twigs showed up in my mailbox. I feel a bit guilty to admit that while I felt mild excitement at my trees, I felt more dread over the thought of trenching ten large holes in the sandy, rocky soil that is my yard.

After consultation with the beloved, if at times finnicky about where to plant things in the yard, husband, we were able to come to a level of agreement ("I'm planting it there whether you like it or not.") on where the "baby trees" would take root. I set about digging my holes.

Now what I wonder, am fascinated by, is the process of growth that, if I followed the planting directions correctly, should now occur. These sticks (and they do look like sticks) will grow into beautiful, overtly showy blooms someday. That is, if my puppy is able to restrain herself from ten new chew-things pointing up out of the ground. How do humans wait for growth? I think of the years that will span before these twigs even begin to resemble plants. Do they have an inner wisdom about what is to come...or do they tumble blindly into the future like people? I feel an antsy anticipation...wanting beautiful trees in the quasi-wasteland of my back yard NOW...and wanting to be one of those people who can peacefully accept the process of each bit of growth week by week, month by month, year by year. Will I still live in this home by the time my twigs have become beautiful trees? Or will I have planted roots for beauty in a stranger's life?

After my dramatic ramblings, I guess I should fess up and admit that I got through planting half the twigs. The rest are sitting in a cardboard box on my front lawn that I'm just sure I'll get to planting this weekend.