i know, i know.

I know, I know. This is why I will never have a famously well-read blog that I can actually make money from and then melodramatically complain about the stress of writing sponsored posts for a living. I am lucky if I post once a quarter and look, not even a big splashy photograph to set the theme.

It’s autumn here in southeastern Michigan but still feels like summer. I am still stubbornly single and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for awhile if not longer, since the only male that I can remotely see myself marrying is Jim Harbaugh and he is taken. And would likely be no better equipped to put up with me than any of the other hapless, deer in headlights men that have blithely attempted to date me and quickly realized that for one reason or another they were utterly and completely in over their heads. (I always thought I was a pretty normal person, but based on the state of my interpersonal relations with the opposite sex, I am now willing to concede MAYBE NO). Mercury Retrograde has once again wreaked havoc personally and professionally with an influx of busyness, tasks, stress, and annoyances but I am largely unconcerned with all of them. Morning meditations and evening tea.

Miss L is joyfully back to school and already has math homework that I can’t figure out. (Common core…!#$%) I haven’t vacuumed in a couple of weeks and there is a spider living in the mailbox that is SO BIG that I can hear its legs tinking against the metal when the lid is closed. I am astonished that the mailman is still brave enough to put his hand in the box to put mail in there since I can barely bring myself to pull the mail OUT and have to shake every piece vigorously to ensure that the goliath isn’t clinging to it.

I haven’t vacuumed in a couple of weeks but am keeping well up with laundry. You’d think that this lack of household cleaning would mean that my attention has been focused on the yard, but no. It is mostly dead or dying. The chipmunks have decimated what’s left of the heirlooms, my house was stalked by a raccoon, and the leaves are starting to fall. This will continue until it snows. The maples lose their leaves first, before anyone is remotely ready to rake. My house looks like a Peanuts cartoon – all green lawns up and down the block and then MINE, hidden under a red and gold mound. I will curse bitterly and get these raked up and then the tulip tree will wait until the very end and drop all of its leaves, so I will be raking in the sun and heat and raking in the cold and sleet. Or not raking at all, which will make the neighbors grit their teeth. I don’t mind so much about Snow Hag on the one side, but I do feel sorry for the dentist on the other. He has a really beautiful lawn and gardens and I am quite sure that when GB moved out, the dentist wept, realizing that a divorcee would never be able to keep pace with yardwork. I try, but have become reduced to just mowing the one strip of grass on his side of my driveway so that in comparison, things don’t look so bad.

Rather than doing chores, I am taking naps and reading ‘1Q84’ by Haruki Murakami. I’ve read some really good books this summer / fall but will save that for another post, as well as my running update. I have a goal of publishing once a week (hahahaha…WHEW) I’ve also been helping Miss L’s Daisy troop – we did a great trip to Gleaner’s in Detroit, and I was a parent helper at their last troop meeting. I thought this would be the equivalent of a child’s birthday party (read: painful) but it was actually pretty fun and I made myself proud by getting all of her badges affixed to her vest (finally). I’m scheduling work trips and getting my passport renewed and watching the Weather Channel and ‘Orphan Black’ and wondering why my DVR won’t record the new ‘Muppets’. (Is that a sign from the universe?)

So, the world proceeds apace. See you next week (hahahaha….WHEW) for my next post.

PS – What does it mean when one has dreams over two nights about someone who they haven’t thought about in years? I haven’t thought about my friend from high school in a long time, but the past two nights I’ve dreamt of her and this concerns me vaguely. I’m also dreaming about packing, which is easier to symbolically deconstruct.

mostly about running.

08.2015 run for the hills

This morning, I rolled out of bed and donned my new purple running shorts, and rode my bike down to the park. I had my wireless headphones and my Garmin charged, my brand new Amphipod belt to hold my phone and my bike lock key, and I felt that I was pretty adequately hydrated.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a 4-mile “Fun Run” locally and had the life sucked out of me. I was tired, I hadn’t fueled properly, hadn’t hydrated well. I still finished with a 3rd place age group but I was horribly disappointed with my pace and it was actually the first race that I’d ever walked partway. I walked through the drink stations and I couldn’t even hit the finish line strong.

It’s taken me a long time to come back from my stress fracture and in many ways, that injury reset me as a runner. I thought that once it was healed, I would go back to the same level of running as I’d been at before I was injured, but that’s not the case. I am a slower runner now. Maybe the speed will come back, maybe it won’t. Honestly, I don’t care much, because I feel like I am a smarter, happier runner.

I plan my miles now on a spreadsheet, and I cross-train with spinning and light weight work. I am trying tempo and interval training runs, and I’m not using running as a weight management technique, the way I did a couple of years ago. In fact, I’m the heaviest I’ve been since Miss L was born, but I’m also probably the healthiest, too, and definitely the happiest. I used to flog myself during my runs, constantly looking at my Garmin and pushing for pace, to the point that I’d feel angry at myself if I couldn’t hit the arbitrary goals I set for myself. If I walked during a training run, it ruined the run for me, and I never would have considered walking during a race. All of my PR’s in 5k, 10k, and half were set in 2013. But at the end of that year, I was injured, and 2014 was a write-off because of that.

This morning’s 10k was the Farmington Run for the Hills, a local event benefitting Special Olympics, and the first stop on my half-marathon training. It is a hilly, hot course through the neighborhoods and when I say hilly, I mean hilly. Every time you think you’ve seen the last hill, there is another one, with the last one about a mile from the finish line. It was a slow, hot slog. I had technical difficulties with my running playlist, which shut itself off after a U2 song that I had no recollection of putting on there to begin with (thanks Apple). I remembered various aspects of it from when I ran it two years ago – the dirt hill, the killer hill, the long slow incline, turning off onto the grass before the homestretch, the sun in my eyes. Two years ago, I PR’d the course. Today, I ran it five minutes slower than that PR.

But I learned the lessons from the Bataan Death March Fun Run.

Yes, I walked. I walked several times through the drink stations and made sure I was hydrating. I haven’t run 6 miles since my injury – the longest up til this morning was 5. So I made sure that I wasn’t pushing myself so hard that I felt sick, the way I did two years ago. I could have pushed myself more – I knew that when I was able to ride my bike home and didn’t feel sore or weak or whipped. I could conversationally thank all the volunteers I ran past, and if I’d been pushing myself, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed them. But I remember volunteering at a race last year and feeling so pleased when a runner thanked me, I think I will always try to do that from now on.

I could be disappointed that I didn’t PR or break that magical pace mark per mile that makes me feel great about myself. In a couple of weeks I’ll do the Kensington Challenge 9-mile, which is the second stop on half-marathon training. A lot of my training this late summer / early fall will have to be done on the treadmill, and I have no plans to PR in October when I head up to Empire. But I’m okay now being a pretty average runner and feeling cheerful about that because for me, being an average runner means being a happy and healthy and uninjured runner (hopefully).

blunt force treatments and glass boxes.

magic in the city.

magic in the city.

It started out as a small patch that itched and felt like a heat rash. By yesterday midday, it had grown to a fist-sized area of maddening vesicles surrounded by a bruise. I walked into the Assistant General Counsel’s office to ask her about something and before I could finish my sentence, she was eyeing me.

“What the fuck are you digging at on your back?” she demanded.

I hadn’t noticed I was absently scratching while I talked to her.

“Lemme see,” she said, and I shut the door so I could lift up my shirt and show her the patch.

“Yeah, that’s shingles,” she said. “Call your fucking doctor and get in right away, cuz if you’re not already in terrible pain, you will be soon.”

And lo, I found myself at my old familiar Urgent Care. It seems to be exclusively staffed with eastern European doctors who are prone to viewing my ailments as invading armies that must be stamped out and annihilated with blunt force. No delicate sophisticated treatments for them; they prescribe me antibiotics the size of horse pills, a scorched earth strategy of leaving no small writhing germ behind. I like that.

In retrospect, it has been a pretty stressful summer, both at work and on the romantic front, so it’s not surprising that I find myself in bed dizzy and drowsy with antivirals, slathered in lidocaine cream. There have been scandals and sackings at work, investigations and interviews with stone-faced executives who tell you later behind closed doors that they just wish someone would take this cup from them. And on the romantic front, a meeting and a break up and a make up with someone that I am frighteningly fond of, and all the complications that arise from that.

Dating at my age and as a divorced working mom is an adventure and not for the thin-skinned. The men I’ve met have also been divorced and with children, only they’ve been divorced for much longer than I have. They seem open to having a relationship, to letting someone in, but being on their own has hardened them somehow. They say the right things, they do the right things, their hearts are right there, but closed off somehow, in a glass box. I can see it, but I can’t touch it. They know they can do it on their own, they have made homes and a family for their children, they are wary and protective of having that disturbed, even positively, by another factor to balance.

And I completely understand it because I feel the same way. I know I can survive. I love my home, I know I can make it on my own and be happy with Miss L and my job and the blessings that I have; I want more, but that ‘more’ will have to be pretty incredible, and it won’t come at the expense of what I’ve already earned through blood, sweat, and tears. However, I’m still flexible, and open, and the men I date, their glass boxes have grown heavier, shatterproof. I see that and I don’t want to become that. I don’t know how you date and not grow increasingly protective and closed off, but it seems that at some point, you have to be able to let things penetrate, even if it’s scary and hard.

So I have been spending time with a man that I really like. It’s a challenge, there have been stops and starts and many feelings of ‘this is too hard’ for both of us. But so far, we have struggled through it, and I am hopeful that our friendship will last. I’ve let him into my house, which is a huge step for me, to let someone see the flaws and beauty and small chaos where my private heart lives. A couple of times, I’ve had to tell myself, ‘I’m really proud of you, this is a big step, I know that everything isn’t perfect but it’s okay to let someone see that’. Deep breath, open the door, let someone in.

It’s nice to have someone to go for walks with and sit on the porch with, and see movies with. I don’t know if it will be more than that, but time will tell if we’re able to continue the process of letting each other in. I feel good about going slow with that. It’s hard enough to trust a single person, and incorporate them into your life; we have to know we can do that before we start with other aspects. I hope our glass boxes slowly dissipate, but for right now, it’s enough that we can meet in the middle and know we can survive.

in which i write things i can’t ever say

For the last two weeks, I went on vacation and traveled, and in between it rained, so when I finally had a sunny Sunday in which to do yardwork, things were a bit out of control. The summer is suddenly half over, the solstice gone, and still it tends to rain and shiver and I have only been out to fuss over my tomato plants once or twice. It’s funny how life can change, the once-thrilling expectation of summer harvest suddenly disappears in dampness and melancholy, things are never what you expect them to be.

Sabine, my neighbor-behind, came through the hedgerow to chat. She passed along sad news about the other neighbor’s cat Oreo, who was once upon a time the scourge of the neighborhood; taken by a coyote. With an eyeroll that exuded disapproval of Those Who Will Never Learn, she indicated a new cat lounging indolently on Anne’s patio, licking a fat glossy butterscotch paw. Emmett, from his safe but confined vantage point in my window, regarded it with thinly concealed bitterness.
“I’ve been remiss,” she said suddenly, and pointed to her yard, barely visible through the overgrown arbor vitae along our border. The grass was ankle deep, unmowed perhaps for weeks. She twinkled briefly. “Maybe I’m rebelling,” she mused, “although I am not sure against whom.” The deer, she explained, liked to lie in the grass back there.

After she had gone back through the hedge to her own quiet house and her own feline familiars, and Emmett sulked off into the house to yowl, I stood for awhile swishing my legs with a handful of pulled-up weeds. I realized that it is an odd grouping of women, four women living alone in bordering yards. A dark kind of feminine magic. Maybe just by where I live I am destined to belong to a strange lonely tribe. I feel as though the realtor should have warned me before I signed on the dotted line; but perhaps it is a better trade. A still house of dark magic is better than many things. Sadness about this is old and weary now and comes from a long way away and I don’t have the energy for it anymore.
I thought of my recent attempts to explain a concept; the feeling that some entire lives, and large chunks of other lives, are made up of things beautiful and shiny on the outside and empty on the inside. Like Christmas in a catalog, a painful attempt to buy a life, to triage a mortal wound. I don’t care what it looks like on the outside, I told him, I just want there to be something on the inside, something that matters.
His eyes are glacial green and lovely. They regarded me for a moment of instant, pitying understanding, and then skated away, already bored, already somewhere else.

in which life is good.

06.2015 peony

LIfe is really, really good lately.

06.2015 donut day

And not just because of National Donut Day, which we celebrated enthusiastically.

06.2015 sarge book

I am super excited to be back to running cautious distances with no pain and this morning I rolled out of bed and had my first ‘I feel really awesome’ run in a very long time.

I have a duathlon next week that could change my mind about all of this – run 3 miles, bike 10.7, trail run 1.5 – but I’m even excited about that, and about a 5k the following week.

Life is just really, really good.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.” – Maya Angelou

a few happy things.

05.2015 deer3

  • Tonight the deer was basically standing in our side yard watching us pull into the driveway, with its mouth full of the neighbor’s landscaping. I swear, I feel like I have a third pet.
  • Watching Miss L’s Daisy Scout troop crowd into a booth together (away from the troop moms) to nosh on froyo and banter about their days. Miss L wouldn’t take her bicycle helmet off. :)
  • Signing up for my first race in a year!
  • Being able to run without shin pain. (I mean, everywhere else hurts, since I’ve lost so much endurance, but no shin pain.)
  • Eating dinner late: tabbouli salad with salty salty pita chips and hummus and a splash of red wine in a jam jar.
  • The Mad Men finale…Om.
  • I’ve made time for meditation almost 50% of the days since I started again.
  • Sarge, who watches Gaston the fish with his tongue out.

05.2015 sarge tongue

mostly tomatoes.

05.2015 tomatoes

This is the second year that I’ve relied on Michigan Heirlooms for my tomato plants. Those of you who’ve lasted out a year with me will remember that I am a bit of a tomatophile and that my best luck last summer came from the Paul Robesons.

I kept the Paul Robesons this year but branched out in some new and different directions, experimentally. My other plants are:

Dixiewine – apparently a damn good, workhorse tomato. Likened to Brandywine but reputed to be more productive with a better flavor.

Brandywine Sudduth’s Strain – later to ripen, but considered to be the most delicious heirloom strain available.

Black from Tula – a black tomato prone to cracking but with a sweet, smoky flavor.

Harvard Square – ok, I bought this mostly because of the name. Somewhat new to Michigan Heirlooms but she loved it.

George’s Greek Beefsteak – everyone needs a beefsteak. These are +1lb and reportedly above average production.

Palmira’s Northern Italian – kind of a classic sauce tomato, more acidic than sweet, very productive.

Zebra Heart – apparently a technicolor tomato, lime green and lemon and pink. Michigan Heirlooms says with confidence that this year, Zebra Heart won’t be found many other places in the world – but she has dispersed seed and expects that it will take off.

Michigan Heirlooms was properly appreciative of my order and said that I have chosen well. I’m pretty excited to watch my plants grow this year and I’ll report back on the varieties that I am most fond of.