Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What do you do with a drunken sailor?

I knew I would write this morning, because I dreamt of Mark last night. It was like a visual reminder, if you want to write, do it every day, something he told me and we all found out he definitely did when we cleaned out his house. Mark was riding around in the back of an old Nissan Sentra, one with bumper stickers plastered all of over the back of it. This car exists in my real-time life. It belongs to one of the women at the farm that drives me crazy. Mark was there, arm draped over the back of the seat, leather jacket, white shirt, singing in a Bob Dylan twang to my friend Staci. Staci, was laughing loudly, and glancing alternately at Mark in the rear view mirror and to her right at me in the passenger seat.

Our destination was some sort of cookout. Mark headed for the barbecue and didn’t come back for the rest of the dream. Staci and I sat at a long picnic table, laughing about something and were joined by a couple, a couple that clearly couldn’t find any other place to sit, judging by how uncomfortable they seemed sitting with us. It only got worse, when Mandy arrived, plate in hand, her well behaved food sitting in its sections ever so careful to not touch. Soon enough, the couple disappeared too. I cannot blame anyone in my dreams or my real world that feels the desire to evaporate when I am with these two women. It’s a little bit like watching twins that have their own language. There is a divider, while not meant to be entirely exclusionary, it does create a space between the us, and the not us.

There was no major revelation in this dream. I had no great insight, or million dollar idea. The world’s greatest novel was not born in this dream last night. I do think it had a message for me. You see, yesterday, was one of those damn days, the ones where I feel that everything I touch turns to complete crap. Where even looking back, what’s in the rear view mirror looks like ruin, both the places and the people. Right about 4 pm I hated absolutely everything about the last 20 or so years. I couldn’t find a nugget of goodness in myself or my ‘doings.’ Fortunately, I know that these days come and they go. I still find them hard to deal with and in truth, spend most of them crying and feeling inept and without value. I think, the dream was reminding me of those who love (d) me the most, those that do see the good in me, even at my worst. I think I needed that reminder, because it is now, during winter, that I can be dragged into believing there is no good, no hope, left in the world.

There is in fact, a poem that ends with this line “nothing now can ever come to any good” it is a poem about losing someone, and the first time I heard it I felt as though it had been etched into my sunburned skin with a shard of broken glass. It is an amazing thing, the power words strung together just so can have. I only need to think of the poem, the images it creates in my head, some memories, some conjured by the words, and I am standing outside a funeral home in Fairfax Virginia on the coldest day of my life while a man named Archer sits inside at long shiny wooden dining table talking to my mother and sisters about “the remains.” I left before I punched him, but not before I reminded him that the remains had a goddamn name.

I felt better this morning, just a little. I suppose it could have been the dream, or just the bright sunshine through the blinds and the cold dog nose pressed to my forearm. In that, there is hope to share.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Meet me in Banner Elk next October.

Fat black sharpie in hand, I crossed off yesterday’s date on my calendar this morning, mentally ticking off the days until the new year. Just four to go. I thought briefly about the past year, about the big things that have happened, and wondered even more briefly what 2010 would hold. Usually, I just feel hopeful at the end of a year, this year, there’s a good bit more fear mixed in. A month or so ago, I met with a real estate agent, got a rough, non-official appraisal on my house, just in case I need to put it on the market this spring. I told myself then, as I do each time I tell this fact to someone, I’d rather sell my house than lose it. It’s true, but it makes me unspeakably sad. I don’t know that I had envisioned the step that came after this little Cape Cod house, but I feel confident it was never, ever, leave it before I lose it. Deciding it was too early for such dark thoughts; I poured another cup of coffee and headed for the couch.

The early darkness of winter makes me nuts and truth be told, a little sad. I don’t know that I’m one of those people that are truly affected by the lack of sunlight, but my spirits sure are. Yesterday morning, sick of just about everything, I shoved myself out the door to the gym, determined to chase the winter doldrums away. I took a new class, one whose ad has one of those perfectly sculpted females on it, and the slogan “Pressure makes diamonds.” This, to a different person, would have been a clue. In early November, I got a horrible cold, worst one I’ve had in years, knocked me back for a good 3 weeks. On Thanksgiving Day when I went to run the turkey trot, I hadn’t run a step in roughly 2.5 weeks. I had no grand hopes; and that turned out to be a very good thing. I ended that run a full 5 minutes slower than the year previous, but with a really cool shirt (purple, with a turkey on it!) and a flier for North Carolina’s newest marathon. I wore the shirt on Thanksgiving Day. I put the flier on my desk and looked at it nearly every day. A week or so ago, I pulled it out and mapped out a training schedule for the half-marathon. I am not mentally ready for school, work (I hope) and full marathon training; the half will have to do. The week starting tomorrow is week 1.

Twelve weeks from now, I hope to have been successful in consistently training for 13.1 miles. I hope 2010 looks better than it did early this morning. If I have put my house on the market I hope it’s because I cashed in a winning lottery ticket, and am moving to Belize, or perhaps, just because I got a job offer somewhere else and am moving by choice, not out of necessity and fear.

Someone told me a few weeks ago that those wooly bear caterpillars are predictors of winter weather, if they have a lot of brown and very little black it means that we are in for a hard winter. Curious about this I went looking for more information and discovered that right here in North Carolina (Banner Elk to be exact) there is actually a Wooly Worm Festival in which the highlight is a Wooly Worm race which ends with the Mayor pronouncing the winner (no doubt he has to pronounce it loudly to wake the spectators) and examining the caterpillar and declaring the winter weather forecast. However bizarre this information, there is some scientific research that backs this up. The one I was examining that day a few weeks ago was nearly all brown. Even without a mayor to pronounce it, it appears this winter is going to be long one. I suppose you can’t argue with a wooly bear caterpillar. So, I won’t. I will hope, just a little more this year than in years past, for a correspondingly brighter spring.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside.

I am struck by the parallels between writing and running. Every question a hopeful runner asks themselves,, is the same a hopeful writer asks.
“How do I get better/stronger/faster?”
“How often should I do it?”
“What do I need?”
“When am I a ‘real’ runner/writer?”

When doubt is winning the war, these turn into declarative statements,
“I’ll never be better/stronger/faster.
“I don’t have enough time to work on it.”
“I don’t have what I need.”
“I’ll never be a real runner/writer.”

This may not be news to anyone. For me it is a reminder. A reminder that running was and still is hard, and that I am capable of hard things.

In running, you just lace up your shoes and get to stepping. I know this because I did it. Less than 24 hours after I quit smoking, I started running.

Now, approaching 5 years later, it is those earliest runs I repeat in my head when I need encouragement. I still see myself, in those blue addidas running pants with the 3 white stripes down the side heading down into the weird part of my old neighborhood, the part where all the houses were dark brown wood duplexes, and there were no street lights. At 4 am, it was dark down there. That part, despite being all downhill, was often the hardest part, to this day, the first 3 to 5 minutes of nearly every run, still feels like a really bad idea.

The next long stretch of road was all flat, full of weird 4 way stops, and the house that was in the news, an elderly lady died there that summer, and no one knew for a very long time. Well, no one except her 47 cats. The entire house had to be demolished. For months, it was just a large dirt spot in between houses. A dirt spot that, I swear, still smelled like cat urine. It was here I got my rhythm, where I got my first inklings of what I thought a ‘real runner’ felt like. I have found little else in the world like the power of moving through t he world powered only by my own feet and brain, and maybe a little Rob Zombie. I remember running along this road, wondering if people would look out their windows as they started their coffee pot, see me, and think 'look at that crazy runner’. I hoped so.

The third stretch of these runs was my nemesis. The hill at E. Maple. Initially, I couldn’t run up even one quarter of it. That changed over time, with practice.

The last stretch, quite literally the home stretch, past the elementary school and the Getty-mart, down the street that ran right to my little condo and the visitors parking lot where I would cool down and stretch. Still alone, still in the dark.

Many more runs came after these first ones, many races too. Yet, it is these practice runs my mind returns to when I struggle with running, and now with writing.

I would quite staunchly defend myself to anyone who declared me not a ‘real runner’ because I can’t run a 7 or even 8 minute mile. I run, therefore I am a runner. The clock does not define me. It may define them, or maybe not them, but something in their world that is important to them. I can, now, let go of that. I have met those people, at races, on the trails, even in shoe stores, they can’t be bothered with so called recreational runners, they have splits to make consistent, or better, to make negative. They have qualifying times to meet; and other very important runner-things to do. I am wasting my time in their eyes. It’s good that I am not looking at myself through their eyes. I see them as dedicated, competent, passionate, and in love with the thing that running has become for them, and not so much the act of running itself. I could be wrong about this.

When I sit down to write, it becomes a lesson in truth-telling. Will I say what I really feel about something – or will I be cowed by the possibility of discovery, and what those that discover it will say, think, feel about me because of the words on the page.

My brother once wrote a poem, a poem that he said was a lesbian, and that poem fucked many other woman poems. He said it, just like that. He wrote it, it was published, and he gave, sold and distributed that book to friends, family, even our parents(!), students, and strangers. He had no fear of saying exactly what he meant, of being exactly who he was.

I think my question about writing isn’t when will I be a real writer, but when will I brave enough to expose the real me. When will I whip out my promiscuous poems (lesbian or otherwise) with pride and not fear?

The truth is I don’t know. So in the meantime, I will follow the path that made me a real runner.

I’ll practice.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deify Plums!

I drink coffee at all times of the day – but that first cup, that morning coffee, is always the best cup. When I lived alone, I used to start the pot brewing, clean up the kitchen from whatever detritus was left from the previous night, and take that first cup out on the back deck with my young dog and his favorite toy.
Since he was very young, a simple game of fetch has been a winner for this dog. So, I would drink my coffee with one hand and throw the toy with the other. My coffee comes in a cup; his comes, most often, in the form of red rubber Kong toy. When the cup was empty the game was done for the morning. I had things to do, a shower to take, a job to get ready for.

Since I lost my job in July, that game of fetch can come randomly, at any time of the day. When I have freelance work, it’s sometimes what I do to clear my head when I’ve been agonizing over something I’m supposed to analyze and interpret in nice, objective, scientific text. This randomness has driven this poor dog of mine nearly over the edge. Now, if you so much as twitch in the direction of the back door, he’s through the dog door like a rocket, whining, craning his neck toward the kitchen sink, desperate to see you, toy in hand, following him out the back door. You can practically hear his little hear pounding in anticipation. It’s hard to let him down.

This morning, I woke up a full hour and then some earlier than I have been since July. I started the coffee pot, cleaned up the kitchen, found my boots and the red rubber Kong. He had not forgotten. We played fetch in the cold and dark, on the hard ground, bright stars overhead. I watched my breath rise above me and his plume out around him as he ran to the far corner of the yard, chasing his toy. Frost made the ground shine in the fluorescent light, and crunch under his feet and mine. We played till my fingers got numb. He was ready for more; I was only ready for more coffee.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A nudge

I've been duly nudged by a friend and reader, that I've been gone too long.

Things aren't all bad, but they certainly aren't what I expected either. I am working a bit, as an independent contractor/freelance writer. It has a strong appeal for me, because it allows me to work from home, whatever hours I need to work. So when I have down time, I go to the gym, ride horses, or train my dog. I also cook and clean more. Interestingly enough, I chose this time in my life, (you know the time where I don't have a steady job), to start taking classes, classes working towards my Master's degree. So, working like this also allows me to do homework, or other class assignments. Sweet, right? Well, kind of. The downside is from one week to the next, I don't know if I'm going to have work. It's nerve-wracking at best, and ulcer-inducing at worst. I'm trying to stay positive, and convince myself that the next job/temporary or not, is on the horizon, and adopt that whole "everything happens for a reason" attitude.
Sometimes it even works, at least for a couple of hours.

My health insurance coverage ended this month, and there's nothing like not being truly employed coupled with not having health insurance to make you suddenly become more interested in the unending health care debate. Honestly I can't voice an opinion because I just haven't sat down and down my due diligence on the proposed bills, but I can tell you, that I think at least once a week, "what would happen to me if I fell off this horse/had a car accident/tripped going down the stairs and broke [fill in the blank], OR (heaven forbid) found a lump in my breast/had a seizure/got swine flu and needed medical care". Maybe because I've always had it and now suddenly don't, it weighs more heavily than for those that just never had it, but geeezy pete, this is not a happy place.

Things at home have shifted a good bit as well. My long-term boyfriend and I took that big "let's live together" step. So he and his 2 dogs (one of whom I love, the other not so much) have moved in. Unfortunately (but expectedly) my young dog has come into his own "maleness" in the last 3 months or so, and has decided he will no longer accept being pushed around by my old dog or the boyfriend's older female. Our house resembles Poland these days, a place divided by the ruling factions. Heh. Yeah. There's a two closed doors between warring dogs at all times policy. There was a bit of bloodshed and a LOT of hurt feelings (mostly on the part of the boyfriend) while we sorted this all out, but so far, it's working just fine. I find myself deciding to move from room to room in order to spend "equal" time with the dogs, which sometimes feels ridiculous but that certainly hasn't stopped me from doing things in the past, so I see no reason to start worrying about it now.

All in all, things could be way worse, and most of the time I'm grateful for what I have that's going right. Sometimes, that doesn't seem like a lot, and sometimes, it seems like Everything. So, if you catch me on the right day, Everything is just fine.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


The last two days, I’ve had the same dream.
I’m standing on the corner of two streets in the neighborhood I grew up in. The park is just behind me on the right, the scene of the first joint I smoked; just a road beyond that is the house I grew up in. The house where my first memories were born, where some the biggest influences in my life first entered. To my left, maybe a block away is the house of the girl who was my best friend in grade school. To my right is the road that would take me to my first experiences with teen love and lust. For me, mostly the latter, for my friends, both in equal measure. Love, for me, was many years away.
I can’t figure out which way to go in the dream. I end up sitting on the curb with my head between my knees. I’m not crying. I am simply too overwhelmed to feel just one emotion. So I just sit there.
I’d have to be dead to not see the parallel in this dream to my own life right now. I feel like I am working really hard at just being okay, and it feel s so much like treading water I can’t figure out why I’m not wet. I can’t quite get to okay though. I am restless and exhausted, never quite sated in any arena, from the work I do to the meals I eat. I’ve had a headache nearly every day for the last 12 days or more. Sometimes they go away for awhile, but mostly they just retreat until I actually need to sit down and analyze data for the contract work I’m doing here and there. It forces me to write, then do something else, then go back and recheck, reword, reanalyze.
The permanent job I thought I had fell through, and while I’m grateful and lucky to have the contract work I do, the temporary nature of it is harder for me to deal with than I ever imagined. I worry all the time and the rest of the time I’m just plain sick to my stomach scared. I will be taking a couple of classes this fall, I’m considering my next degree, because what better time to reevaluate your life than when the one you were expecting to have is suddenly gone? I haven’t any idea how to pay for that anymore than I know how I’m going to pay anything else without regular work, but there I am, signing up for classes and buying rubber mulch for my empty flower beds like it’s any other fall.
I can be cheery and optimistic for the length of a phone call or email, or on a bad day just long enough to throw out a random facebook status update or to conduct a text message conversation. The rest of the time I’m wearing old sweats and thinking about the fetal position and it’s very difficult to type in the fetal position.
So yeah, now you know.

Monday, August 10, 2009

For Joe, all the words I have.

Twice in the last five years I've had the responsibility of relaying the news that someone we love has died. Once, to my mother, who's response was, "I'm coming" followed by a dial tone, and just recently to a friend when we lost a mutual friend. I found her disbelief rocked me almost more than the news itself. Her words, "I don't believe it, I'm calling him right now" and a beat or two later, more softly,"but I don't want him to be dead" sat in my head and my in heart, for at least a week. I wrote them down in my orange composition notebook in all caps and I looked at it everyday. I thought about how there just aren't any truer words to be spoken when that kind of news is delivered. Her grief, her anger, put me in touch with my own. I was traveling, somewhere in Delaware I think, when I got the word myself, I kept it together, more easily than I'd like to admit. But later that night confronted with her disbelief, her grief, I pulled to the side of the Interstate 476and sobbed.

During the week, his memorial was held, and our group of runner friends, they honored our friend by showing up at his service in their finest, accessorized with running shoes and leopard print scarves, honoring our beloved runner/caveman. Those that couldn't attend the service interrupted their normal schedules and ran at the appointed hour. I joined them in this, doing my speed work on the hotel treadmill and not caring much that the guy on the bowflex in the corner looked distressed and a little scared when I broke into tears during my last interval. I was remembering a few years back, when he broke 4 hours at the Philadelphia Marathon, and me, unable to attend, tracked him online all morning, screaming loudly enough to frighten the dog, as I watched his splits bringing him closer to his goal, 26.2 in under four hours. He did it.
And I cried alone in my living room, reveling in his success.

The man had a huge heart, a kind word, an open mind, and a smile for everyone he met. He never met a burrito he didn't like, and his perseverance made me a better runner. Proving time and time again, that the only limitations there truly are, are those we put on ourselves, everything else, EVERYTHING else, is negotiable, and in our own hands.

Dammit, Stace, I don't want him to be dead either.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I got on the treadmill at the hotel the other day and set the time for 45 minutes. My pace wasn't easy, but it wasn't really hard either. I threw a hand towel over the display and turned on the ridiculously over-size flat screen television at the front of the gym. I flipped channels idly, finding nothing compelling enough to hold my attention for more than a few minutes.

Feeling strong, I picked up the pace, and was rewarded with a feeling I don't get often enough. The one that says I could run forever. That feeling came along with the completely emotional one of "and I wish I could just stay on this treadmill forever". Okay, to those of you who don't run, that sounds crazy, but no, I wasn't losing my grip on the last threads of sanity, it was just that running makes everything simple and uncomplicated. One foot in front of the other, breathe, when it gets hard, slow down, when you feel good, speed up, thirsty, drink. Simple.

Life lately, has gotten complicated.

A week earlier, after working very late on a Tuesday night, I was invited to a mandatory teleconference mid-afternoon on Wednesday. I called into find out I was one of 300 people at company ABC, who were being "released" thank you for all your years of service, come in tomorrow and drop off your company belongings, and have a nice day. I took that job 3 years ago, unsure I would like it, and was as surprised as those around me to find that I enjoyed it more than I expected, and along the way made some amazing friends. The kind of friends that remember good anniversaries and sad ones, and throw puppy showers when you bring your new 8 week old four-footed friend home.

Oh, I know, I shouldn't have been so surprised. I'm just one more of thousands of good people finding themselves adding websites like career builder to their Internet favorites folder, talking to recruiters, and hoping that a friend of a friend of a friend really will deliver your resume to the 'right hands' and the 'right hands' will dial the phone and ask you to come in for an interview. I was though, surprised, I mean. Stunned even. I can remember now staring at the contents of the open refrigerator and thinking that I should wait to eat until I was really hungry, because soon, I was going to run out of food. So. Melodramatic. Just where does that stuff come from? Company ABC gave me a severance package, although not huge, it's something, and I certainly realize the gift that 2 months is. Yet, that day, on the treadmill, I still wanted to run forever, just deal with the cadence of my footsteps, and not the rest of what I was thinking and feeling since losing my job. Logically, I know I did nothing wrong, emotionally, it feels somewhat humiliating.

Plainly, it just sucks.

I've done all the right things, filed for unemployment, and of course, I'm actively looking, talking and seeking work. I have my first interview today, and I'm not feeling too bad about it, a little unsteady, but I suppose given the way of the world these days, unsteady is probably the new black.

So, I'll wear my new black to my interview today and see where it takes me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Catching up

So, I look up and nearly a month has gone by, that, was not intentional. Life has been, if nothing else, interesting in the last month., and that is something to be grateful for I suppose, at least I have not died of boredom.

Spring has arrived in North Carolina, and despite several interruptions of rain, rain and cold, cold and rain, and rain, I've already had to cut my grass and just today spent some time wandering around the backyard noting all the new baby grass sprouting in the areas I put down seed earlier in the year.

I went to church on Easter Sunday with a friend. You'll know it was a good friend when I tell you I not only went, but went to a sunrise service in a cemetery. I've always thought religion was macabre, and this fit right in to that notion. I want to tell you it was a beautiful cemetery, but that seems wrong. Just how beautiful can a place full of dead people be? The grounds were pretty, the trees were overwhelmingly beautiful, and the service included an all brass band that performed multiple times and was more impressive each time, but it was, a cemetery. While I have no desire to be planted when I pass on, as the idea of becoming human mulch does not work for me personally, I am a staunch believer in 'to each his own' and I am as respectful of burial places as I know how to be. So I was more than a little surprised as I watched the people joining the service around me as they trod over graves, and bumped into/rested on crypts. To say I was disappointed when I noticed the minister gave his sermon from atop someones stone grave marker would be an understatement.

The service itself, seemed a little dark given that at least in my mind, in my limited prior religious experience, Easter Sunday should be a celebration. I walked away feeling like the minister felt we should all be wringing our hands and weeping while kneeling on a bed of nails waiting for Christ's return. No joy in mudville would be permitted.

The going meant something deeply personal to my friend so I am glad to have done it, regardless of my own (unchanged) feelings for organized religion. My friend and I followed the service with grilled corn on the cob, sweet potatoes and burgers. We read a little on my deck and watched the dogs play and dig and run in the very welcome sunshine.

I had my first interview with the Weight Watchers folks, and although it might still come together, it's going to be a way off., they just don't have the need for more people right now. I can wait. Somethings are worth the waiting.

Last week I returned to Philadelphia for dog training. It was a welcome change of pace to the previous busy few weeks at work. Sleeping in, even in a hotel, and not having to be anywhere until 10, feels like some sort of decadence, especially when I realize the place I have to be at 10 is an open field, with my dog and a trainer, a trainer I love and respect more each hour I spend with him. I leave Philadelphia feeling completely not-crazy for trying to finance these trips or at least I feel comfortable enough with the level of crazy it might be to shrug it off when I tell people and they get the look. The one that suggests they are thinking there might be something seriously wrong with me.

I ran another 10k - my best race in some time. It wasn't a record breaker and the Olympic committee isn't knocking down my door, but it was a success by my yard stick. A (relatively) fast, extremely consistent, happy, feel-good 6.2 miles followed by a trip to the local bakery that sponsored the race for a free loaf of bread and a bag of jambalaya soup mix. In my world, that's a damn good way to start any day.

I got my final receipt for the beach house rental in the mail the other day - just about 7 weeks to go. I bought a polka-dot bathing suit and a multi-colored-striped beach umbrella. I told the dogs we were going. The thought of 7 wake-ups with good friends, good coffee and dog-beach walking is more than enough to get me through the next 7 weeks - no matter what they hold. You're invited to stop by, look for the umbrella, planted somewhere off Sand Road, I'll have a pitcher of mimosas in the cooler and be sitting with the red head with the wicked sense of humor and irrational fear of chickens.

It's guaranteed to be a good time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Just a post about a run

I am, still, after four years of running, completely suprised at how the simple act of moving through the world on my own two feet at a pace of my own choosing can make me makes me so strong, so powerful.

I worked from home today, and just before lunch, laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. Spring has reared her head here, so things are greening and blooming and it was cool and breezy, and bright and clear. Perfect running weather. I dragged out my garmin forerunner for this run, because I at least wanted to know how far I went, regardless of the pace. Technically, Mondays are supposed to be recovery runs for me (which would imply I did something on Sunday to recover from) but I didn't run this weekend, I rode both horses on Sunday, and while my core and abductors are very sore, running doesn't ease riding soreness. So off I went.

I made up the run as I went along. Since I was running along the main road in front of my neighborhood, I left the IPOD at home. I got some running advice from a guy picking up his mail "pick your knees up a little higher", was told to be careful by a guy on a bike, and my personal favorite, was yelled "what are you training for?" by a guy at a stop sign, I smiled waved, and yelled back "the rest of my life". Yeah, I know, totally corny. I couldn't help myself.

Some runs are just like that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I love these dumb things, and it won't stop raining..

1.Your rock star name (first pet, current car) - Sparky Commander!

2.Your gangsta name (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe) -
Cookie Dough Boots (not really that "gangsta" if you ask me)

3.Your Native American name (favorite color, favorite animal) - Red Wolf ( like it!)

4.Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born) - Lynn Johnstown

5.Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name) CRAJE (stupid!)

6.Superhero name (2nd favorite color, favorite drink) -
Green Mojito (awesome!)

7.NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers) -
Richard Wayne
(Scary realistic)

8.Dancer name (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy) Princess Peppermint Patty (hells yeah!)

9.TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Ruble Raleigh (hahahaha!)

10.Spy name (your favorite season/holiday, flower) - Spring Daisy

11.Cartoon name:(favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now) -
Strawberry Yoga Pants (squeee!)

12.Hippie name (what you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree) - Cereal Maple
Mcmuffin Oak (um, whatever)

13.Movie (or porn) star name (first pet, first street where you lived) -
Sparky Bing! (see my email address for how much I love this name).

Carry on with your regular scheduled blog surfing, it has been raining in Raleigh for 5607 days and I can't take it anymore, I need sunshine and flowers and warm weather and green grass and a ride on a horse, or I AM GOING TO START KICKING THINGS.

(It always seems that every one else who does this meme gets better answers than I do.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

The words that hurt you

I realize it is a direct resultof the angry, often-violent home I grew up in, that I learned so well, so very young that words were weapons and best hurled by those that claim to love you for maximum sting. I also remember hearing my mom cry for hours after the words were vapor and Dad was gone.

In high school I took a class called "Human Behavior", I took it because it was open to both juniors and seniors and my dearest friend at the time was a junior and it gave us an excuse to spend another hour together. It was a great class that I did get a lot out of, which is something I can't say about the vast majority of my high school career.

One of the discussions I remembered today while driving around in the rain, we were talking about how in a court of law, a judge can instruct a jury to "disregard previously heard testimony" and were asked if we thought that was really possible.

All around the classroom, we all agreed that No, it wasn't possible, a bell can't be unrung.

All my life I've been a lover of words, of what they can conjure up in one's imagination, the good, the evil, and everything in between.

To this day I can tell you the best compliments I ever received. How the simple words "I'm proud of you" said at an airport one cold November morning choked me up and left me speechless for hours. I can recite the written words of a poem dedicated to me that make me feel more cherished and more loved in 4 simple stanzas than every single utterance of love I have ever heard all stacked up.

These are the words I cling to when I need to remember how much I am/was loved. They are sometimes, the only things that work. They have a value I can't name. They are quite simply everything I want to be worthy of.

Unforunately, I can also recite to you the worst things ever said to me. I remember the day my dad told me my bleach blonde hair made me look "cheaper than dime store candy" (him being right didn't make it hurt less). I remember the Valentine's Day, my boyfriend at the time, Rob, told me he was dumping me for his previous girlfriend because "after all she has the better body", I remember the boyfriend that told me the woman he cheated on me with was no more than "a hole and a hearbeat" (while not speaking of me the fact that I meant so little to be betrayed for "a hole and a heartbeat" was just as painful) and then, most recently, I had someone wish me "a long and lonely life" -- the power of that little phrase has been nothing short of gut wrenching and heart-breaking. That one echoes, loudly and deep in me. It left a big hole going in, but the injury inside is immeasurable.

It is these words that pile on when I am low and hurt and feeling unworthy of any sort of happiness. Most of these words and others like them, were uttered a decade or more ago, and I can honestly say that for me, I'd rather take a punch. I can say that because I've taken a few, also by people that claimed to love me and somehow these words hurt me more*.

I still love words, and wish I could use them better in every situation -- I just don't love those words; admire/detest their power over me, yes, but love them, no. These words make me feel like that last one -- is all I deserve.

I know I will get past this, I have done it before, I will do it again. I will wake up one day soon and know this is just a really bad day, and of course I deserve better/more than that and it was just an incredibly hurtful string of words.

In the meantime, I am trying to remember Dr. Err's advice -- Two tears in a bucket, Fuck it.

*In NO way is this meant to downplay domestic violence/spousal abuse situations. I speak only for myself in *this* situation and am not in any way making light of violent relationships.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Just a post

In about 3.5 hours I'm running a 10K in a neighboring town. The group that organized the 8k turkey trot I did organizes a bunch of smaller local races - races I didn't know about until after that Thanksgiving Day race. I sat down with their website last week and entered random races over the next couple of months. Since my dog training situation is suddenly vastly different than it's been for the last year plus, my weekends just got a whole lot roomier. I see more running and more horses in my future. This is not a bad thing but it feels weird, for sure.

I'm thinking pretty seriously about getting a part time job. If nothing else it would finance my dog training trips to Pennsylvania. I'm feeling a little greedy when I consider having TWO jobs when so many are losing their jobs, but I'm hoping that greedy feeling will pass as I watch my dog learn under the capable (and considerably more gentle) hand of this trainer.

I am in the process of becoming (hopefully) a Weight Watchers leader. I lost nearly 47lbs using Weight Watchers, and don't mind pimping them. Weight Watchers isn't a flashy program, Jillian Barberie, Marie Osmond and Wynona Judd are NOT involved. It's truly the program of 'eat right and exercise' and that's kind of boring, but it is truly the only thing that works, long term. I don't think I know everything about the program, but I certainly absorbed everything I could and I am a believer. I was completely, and utterly frustrated at being in my late 30's and able to own and run a home, hold down a job, take care of cars and finances and animals and friends and travel and running but somehow I couldn't get a grip on how to lose weight and keep it off. That frustration drove me to that first meeting well over a year ago.

About a month ago I stopped in to my meeting to record my once a month weight and walked into a new group member talking to our group Leader and dissolving into tears. I went to make a quick escape and she asked me to stay. She apologized and before I could form the thought I told her to stop, that I didn't know a single woman who hadn't cried over her weight. After 15 minutes or so of talking, she left and my Leader, the woman who helped me so much, told me that was about the nicest thing she had heard one member tell another. She planted the seed, and now it's a vile, wicked, unpluckable weed.

Recently in another, much more dangerous, situation I had the opportunity to help someone, a complete stranger in fact, and I followed my heart and my gut - they both told me it was the right thing to do. So, I did. When that person expressed concern that she was being perceived as soliciting help, I told her the truth. When things were at the darkest in my life a complete stranger stuck out their hand.
I owe.

Yes, the two situations are completely different and only in the extreme is weight loss life threatening, but who am I *not* to help when I can, whatever the situation?

It's the person in the second situation I'll be thinking of this morning during my run. She may be running as well this morning, and no doubt with a heavier heart and load than I will. It's going to be a beautiful day here in my corner of the world, I hope it's as beautiful where she's headed today.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No, you do *not* understand.

Trust me when I tell you, you just don't. The sentiment is wonderful, and kind and yes, it really does mean something., but do not tell me you understand how I feel. Because you don't. I know you don't -- how could you understand how I feel when I don't understand how I feel?

I thought it was going to be fine this year, I got up that morning, wished I could call him, did an emotional inventory and felt okay about it, sad but not bunny boiling sad/crazy. Then I went to lunch. I walked in, sat down, ate an entire meal, and just as we were finishing, I saw the mongolian barbecue chefs slinging vegetables and meat across the hot skillet/table and realized that if he were still alive I'd have been having mongolian barbecue with my brother that nigh to celebrate his 53rd birthday, like we did every year.

I suddenly felt all hot and nauseous, my throat got dry, my heart raced, tears formed and burned my eyes. I was mad. At myself, at my lunch date, at him for dying.

I sucked it up, went back to work, and at 10:15pm as I raised my sharpie marker to cross through the date on the calendar, like I do every other day, I lost it. How could I treat it like any other day? I spent 20 minutes on the floor in my bathroom crying until I vomited then I marked the day off and went to bed.

I believe you care, but no, you do not understand.

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's the first of March

and at risk of sounding just like my dad where exactly did the time go?

I put in a fair amount of extra hours at the office in the last four weeks, but I did it to feel better about the several months before the new year where I did almost nothing. I'm not stupid enough to not get nervous in these economic times when work slows down, despite the corporate emails I keep getting telling me everything is fine. It makes me 'squishy' when work slows down like that.

I wrapped up my portion of the project at the end of the week two weeks ago, and headed north to Pennsylvania. My friend Molly lives just west of Harrisburg, PA and we share a common loss (brothers), a common love (german shepherds) and the same taste in stupid movies (The Pink Panther!) I have known Molly a long time, but until recently we were fairly distant. My friendship with her now,is so close, she feels like family. We spent a few days together and then I headed to Philadelphia to work with a well known, well respected dog trainer. Is it reasonable to think I'm going to drive to Philly to train dogs on a regular basis? No. Am I considering it? Yep. I've already spent a day re-figuring budgets and yeah it's crazy, but yeah, I might do it anyway. It would really help if I could just win the damn lottery though. Really. Not even the big jackpot is necessary, the little one will do. I'm just putting that out there in case the lottery gods are interested.

My favorite quote of the week in PA came from Molly who as she handed me several bowls of dog food to feed her boarding dogs reminded me to push the bowls 2-3 feet away from the chain link fencing. Why? (Well I'll tell you why, because if you leave the bowls close to the edge the chickens will stick their heads in through the fence holes and the dogs, they will bite their heads right off.

For the record, no chickens were beheaded on my watch.

I stayed in one of those cool studio apartment-hotel rooms in Philadelphia. I LOVE staying in hotels, as long as I have a comfortable bed a four cup coffee maker a microwave and a fridge, I'm all good.

We trained from 10 am til nearly 8pm at night, I'm not sure, but I may have been just as tired as my dog. I forced myself to stop the first night and buy groceries and bubble bath. Worth the stop. Hell yes.

I'd forgotten just how cold winter is. It's amazing what spending four winters in North Carolina can do to your memory. I owe a couple of friends a huge Thank You for pushing me to invest in a couple of "winter-wear" purchases. I would never have survived without their insistence on those purchases. For the girls out there in need of warm clothes, find CuddlDuds - you won't be sorry.

I've spent the whole day in my pajamas, and it's snowing outside in MARCH in North Carolina. As much as I want warmer weather, this year is already flying by and I won't be the one to wish it by any faster.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Interview

I asked the lovely L of Just Run Girl fame to interview me. I needed a 'gimmee' post to get back in the swing of blogging again. She very quickly obliged. If I remember correctly, I'm supposed to offer to interview any of my 2 distinguished readers. So if you'd like some interview question sthrown your way, leave me a comment.

1. What's your favorite movie? And if you could watch it with anyone, who would that be?

This is a hard one, I like SO many movies, and for so many different reasons.

Being a homebody with a blockbuster card means I’ve watched a few movies. So, let’s see..
Heathers …. this movie was my first real discovery of both dark humour and Christian Slater.

Bladerunner, I love so much about this movie, the flying cars, the constant rain, Rutger Hauer’s character “Roy”, the idea of replicants.

LadyHawke is probably my favorite lovestory/comedy, ever.

Raging Bull, I was more or less coerced into watching this and was sure I would hate it, I didn’t, not even a little bit.

The Princess Bride and The Three Musketeers (the Kiefer Sutherland version) are both Cravey-comedy favorites. We all needed Billy Crystal to tell us to ‘have fun storming the castle’ and Oliver Platt to point out the appropriate wine choice for a carriage chase.

All that said and done, I think I’d pick Rumble Fish.
On my 16th birthday my big brother took me into DC for a double feature of the two S.E. Hinton novel/movies; The Outsiders and Rumble Fish.
All the way through the Outsiders I was in 16 year old lust with Dallas Winston (played by Matt Dillon) and was swearing I’d never love again. Until Rumble Fish started and I “met” Mickey Rourke.

Hold your groans people, this was hot Mickey Rourke, go check out the move if you don’t believe me. Plus he was the kind of guy I totally fell for, conflicted, angry, possibly violent. Yeah, at 16, I loved that crap. (Thank god I survived it).

Now I could argue why this movie means so much to me and possibly it’d all be crap. It’s possible I only loved it so much because of the circumstances. Bottom line is that might be true. Because if I could watch it again with anyone it would be Mark. No question.

I am going to add in an honorable mention here – to the god awful Natural Born Killers. Yeah, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis on a killing spree. It’s terrible. Yet. I watch it every year on Valentines Day.
Oh YES. Cuz nothing, nothing will make you homicidal like being in love.

2. What's your favorite way to unwind?Unwind from what?
After a work day:
About 98% of the time it’s taking my dogs out in the back yard and playing /working with them. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my entire world revolve around a BALL, but man, it sure looks like fun.

The other 2% of the time (or sometimes in addition to), going horseback riding is on the list. The catching and grooming alone can melt away about 5lbs of stress and tension.

I think riding would rank a higher percentage if I could get there more often, but with the crappy winter daylight hours I just can’t.

After a long run:
A hot bath and big ‘comfort meal’ something involving broccoli and potatoes, and usually, a nap.

3. If you could pick up and go somewhere right now, this minute, where would you go?
Cape Hatteras. ‘Nuff said.

4. Describe a funny/entertaining moment or story from your childhood.
My childhood was a lot of things, but funny/entertaining, I’m not so sure. The story I am about to tell you was not funny when it was happening. (Try picturing it through the eyes of a 8 year old).

Now, it’s hysterically funny to me. This might make me strange..or even sick, but you didn’t say who it had to be funny to.

My dad was a career military man. He retired in the early 80’s a ‘full-bird’ colonel. He had the typical uniform with all the ribbons and badges and things on his left (?) chest panel. One of those things was his name tag. It was something I remember as a little girl watching my dad do, right after coming home from work. He’d head upstairs and take off all the ‘bells and whistles’ they went into a brown ceramic ashtray on his dresser top. The name tag was what I think of now as the old-fashioned kind with the straight pointy-pins on the back and the weird-star-shaped push on nubs.

Well one evening he didn’t go straight upstairs, he poured himself a gin and tonic and sat down in his recliner to drink it. I think he smoked a cigar too. When he got up his nametag tilted wildly, clearly one of the push on nubs had pushed off.

My dad retraced every step he took, searched the car, the carport, the kitchen, the living room and finally the recliner. Quickly he became convinced the chair was the culprit. After turning the chair upside down and still not finding it, he carried the chair out to the front yard. Fascinated, I slipped outside through the side door so I could watch what would happen next. Dad set the chair down in the driveway and went back inside. I stayed hidden behind the camper in the carport, I knew it wasn’t over.
When Dad came back he was carrying an axe.
I watched in silence as my dad methodically destroyed that damn recliner in search of his beloved push on nub.

He reduced that chair to kindling.

And no, he never found the nub.

Even funnier, my mom got home a bit later, got out of her car, studied the pile of kindling, touched the former headrest once, and went inside. She never asked what happened to the chair.

I love my Dad.

5. What's your favorite time of day? Why?I’m going to pick morning for the purpose of this interview. Truthfully, I like daylight hours, and all of them. However, I do love the quiet of mornings, watching the sun come up over the back porch when I’m home. I like the feeling of ‘new’ each morning has. I like the promise of a new day., as goofy and cliché as that sounds.

Follow up questions will be answered. Hell with it, I'm game.

A rough start

When I was young, and making too much noise with either my friends or my siblings, the warning that we were being too loud was always the same.
My father roaring from the floor below us or the next room over,
"I have had enough of this!"

The subsequent arrival of him in the room was almost unnecessary, that exclamation was enough to shut us all up and keep us quiet for the rest of the afternoon or evening.

I'm hoping that I've got just enough of my dad in me to make that same annoucement and have it run off the seemingly never ending parade of viral and now bacterial infections that have had me swilling cold medicines and running to Urgent Care for strep cultures. I have had enough of this.

Admittedly I am not oozing eye good like some people, but still.

The constant sick has kept me from doing almost everything I like to do, because I am expending all my energy on only what I must do. This is what makes Cravey a very dull, very unhappy girl.

Here's hoping the antibiotics do their job and I can get back to living my life instead of just missing it.