Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Facebook Runners

I sit down, open Facebook, and start to scroll.

Jesus Christ, look at these people.
Running, running running.

Here they are running through the desert, on a dirt trail, along the ridge
On beaches, among grass, through rivers, over snow
Sharing runs, posting runs, writing about runs

Who are these people? Are they insane?

Here I am at my latest run!
Here's a climb I did up to the highest peak, look at me!
Here's me and a bunch of other people standing at the top - whoo-hoo!

Jesus Christ, seriously? Don't you people have more important things to be getting on with?
Don't you have jobs, responsibilities, families?
What about earning a living?
What about your future, the future of your kids? What about what's going on in other places?
What about the problems that are going on in the world RIGHT NOW that are real and convoluted and downright depressing, but still demand our attention - did you give any though to any of THAT?

I don't think you did. You were too busy running.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More days like Thursday

It was a Wednesday, so it was like any other day
And I worried what people thought.

When I saw my neighbors in the morning as we left the apartment
I worried that they thought we were annoying and too noisy.

When I rushed to drop the kids off in front of the school
I worried that the other parents would think I was disorganized and always late.

When I saw my supervisor at work and she didn't meet my eyes
I worried that she must have heard a negative report.

The eyebrow revolt

It was nighttime in the apartment
And all was quiet and still
But unbeknownst to me as I lay sleeping
My eyebrows plotted against me in the dark.

The plan was a daring one. At 3AM, they would revolt.
Patches (the left brow) would make a break for my hairline
While Squiggles (the guy on the right) would head south
Past the yawning cavern of my mouth
In an attempt to summit my chin by sunrise.

Their list of grievances: too long to ponder.
Their goal: to flee and disperse.

The scheme had moxie, but was ultimately ill-fated.
The team had counted on the darkness to provide cover for their tactics
But what they hadn't counted on
Was my bathroom break at 4:07AM.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Getting out of the rut

Tonight's meltdown felt similar to the others in a weary way that I hated. Dinner was not even on the table yet, and the whining, tantrums, and power struggles had been going on for the last two hours.

I was mentally fried and could already predict the course of the rest of the evening - it didn't look good. And it might even be more spectacularly bad than I was anticipating, but I thought I could manage it somewhat if only I could take a few deep breaths and be patient, and react with thought instead of the frustrated and tired way that I had been.

With one child on his back on the floor bouncing between various stages of sadness, outrage, fury, and remorse, and the other child (amazingly) working on her homework at the table and occasionally casting eyes from under raised eyebrows from him, to me, them back to him, I was more aware than ever that they look to me to know how to react and what to do next. I also knew we were all fed up with each other, and mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Night bandit

Running at night, in the dark all alone
Is my new favorite thing.

Under the cover of darkness, you can be anonymous
But still very cozily yourself
Deep inside.

You are at one with the stars and the sky
You turn off your light when the moon's glow allows

And run like a bandit, like a banshee, like whomever you want to be
Under the stars.

You can be no-one
You can be anyone
The night will never reveal.

Until you stumble, whoops
Or trip up and over that branch
Or that hole or that ditch

And you go down, into a tumble
Scratching your knees, bruising your toes

And decide that maybe, running with a light
Is not such a bad idea after all.

Words vs. numbers

Many days, I spend my time with words
Writing them, reading them, picking the right ones
For this or that
But my mind used to be occupied
With numbers.

They crept in slowly
As all things do
At first I cared not too much for numbers

Except in math class (of course)
Or when counting my allowance (even better)
Or when counting laps in swimming
In the 9-12 hours I would spend in training, every week
In the pool.

But then, I went to a new school
3500 miles from my home.
I begged to go, was so excited
As any 17 year old would be.

Questions

There are some mornings when Caden asks a lot of questions. This was one of those mornings.

Caden:

Don't you know that baby polar bears can live on their own when they are 2?
Don't you know that walruses are 3070 pounds?
Don't you know, there was one president that weighted over 300 pounds? Four men could fit in his bathtub.
Abraham Lincoln kept his papers in his hat.
Does Aladdin live in Egypt? When was he born?
Don't you know that Abraham Lincoln was 6 ft 4 inches tall?
When was Scooby Doo born?
Where was I born?
Where was Sevy born?
Where was Daddy born?
Where were you born?
Is your mom alive? Is your dad?
Does Scooby Doo exist in real life?
Are leprechauns nocturnal?
Are robbers real?
Are ninjas real?
Are Vikings? Are dragons?
Can a skeleton talk?
Do demons live under the ground?
Don't you know that penguins have extra fat to keep them warm?
Does Captain America ever sleep?

I believe in leprechauns. I believe in God. I believe in Santa Claus. I believe in fairies. I believe in every one of you.

Why are we here?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The vendetta

In another life Caden was very wronged by a flock of seagulls, I am sure of it. Nothing else could explain his deep vendetta.

When he was three we would take him to the beach so he could play on the sand. We'd sit down on a towel and watch him happily potter about in that space between us and the waves, only he didn't want to happily potter about, he only wanted to chase seagulls. With ferocity.

Off he'd run, with his shovel swinging in the air above his head - as it turns out, a shovel is not only a very good tool for digging with, but also for threatening seagulls. They'd hop with increasing urgency along the beach as he got closer, or take to the skies - but this only made him run further and faster.

I quickly learned that the line of thought "I'm sure he's just about to give up and turn around now" can never be depended on when it comes to seagulls.


A boy and his gulls.

For a boy who loves animals and other forms of nature, I found it odd and a little disturbing that this same compassion did not extend to seagulls - but it is now three years later, and I have found far other things to worry about. I will never know what the seagulls did to him in a former life, because Caden cannot remember, and the seagulls will not tell.

What did you do, seagulls, what did you do? Did you steal his snacks from his hand? Bury his beach toys, or peck at his ears and toes? Or was it something far more sordid, something not he nor I would even have the capacity to dream of?

But they will never tell.

So he will continue to chase them, shovel swinging, and they will continue to flee, for it is a vendetta that will not die - not in this lifetime, nor perhaps in the next.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The beastie


A little beastie visited my apartment last night.
He showed up just before dinner, and refused to sit down. "I don't like it," he said, when I showed him the hot veggies and rice.
"You've never even tried it. You don't know what it is." I encouraged him to try by holding out a small mouthful, but the beastie would not try it.
I coaxed and cajoled. I changed the subject, then tried to engage. The beastie relaxed and came closer, but would not sit down. I did not force it, but tried to stay open. I know beasties get hungry, and want to be included.
"Tell me what you did at school today," I said.
He held up a book they had made. I raised my eyebrows, nodded yes - I would love to see the book. He drew in closer, became a part of our conversation while we ate, and we talked about the day. He started to look less like a beastie and more like a little boy, but still he refused to sit.
After dinner, the beastie was back. "Where's my treat?" he said.
"You don't get a treat, you didn't have dinner."
"I want my treat!" 
"Eat dinner, and you'll get a treat." 
"But I don't like it!"
"And that's fine, you don't have to eat it. But you're not getting a treat."
Oh, the beastie was angry. He screamed and he whined. He sat on the floor and begged, please, please, please can I have a treat. He laid on his back and kicked his legs in the air. He put his feet on the wall. 
I cleaned up the dishes and tended to his sister. She was used to being visited by beasties and coped with it marvelously - she took her bath, played with her toys, and stepped carefully over the wailing beastie in the living room when she had to pass over him to get her drink.
The beastie was outraged to be so ignored. "Look at me!" the beastie shrieked. "Look at me on the floor!"
I examined the beastie. "Yes, I see you," I said.
The beastie looked aghast. "Don't you care? You're the parent, you are supposed to care! You don't care about me!"
I told the beastie I loved him very much, along with his sister, more than anything else in the world. And I wanted to help, if he wanted. But he could not have a treat.
The beastie howled.
This went on for the next two hours. The beastie wanted a treat. He wanted noodles. He wanted a bowl, then a bigger bowl, then a smaller bowl, then a spoon. I told him he could get these things himself. The beastie wailed.
"You don't love me! Everyone in this family hates me!" 
I told the beastie the opposite was true.
"I hate you! I don't want you in my family!"
I said that was too bad because I wanted the beastie in my family always.
The beastie called me a maniac. I wondered where he got that word from, and tried to hide my smile. 
In between cleaning up I tried to make the beastie laugh, to hug him, to distract him, to be casual. The beastie's sister tried to make him laugh as well and was successful for a while, until the beastie remembered that he was not done being beastly, and he screamed "I don't like funny things!"
The beastie's sister shrugged and decided to go to bed after that. She went graciously and happily and decided to read to herself for twenty minutes before turning out the light.
The beastie was exhausted but not finished. He rolled on my bed. "I - want - a - treat. I - want - a - treat." I folded laundry and waited for the beastie to fall asleep. He was out by the time I got halfway through the socks.
I snuck quietly into his sister's bedroom. She was still reading, The Magic Finger, by Roald Dahl. She was on the very last page.
I kissed her forehead and lay down beside her as she read me the last line of the book - "They'll be sleeping in the trees tonight, every one of them!" This line always makes her chuckle. We put the book away and I tucked her in and kissed her again.
"This is my favorite part of the day," she said. 
I smiled and said good night, then went over to the other room. 
The beastie was no longer a beastie but had transformed into a small boy. His hair was golden in the light cast by the bedside lamp, and his face was at peace. He would not wake until morning. I gave him a pillow, then covered him with a blanket. I kissed the small boy, then crept away.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

On running long distances

The fun is in the run

In the longest possible out-and-back
In seeing two sunrises and two sunsets and in knowing
that you can and must go further

In the simplicity of moving forward at the steadiest pace you can muster
Surging ahead when inspired, then falling back
But still finding time to notice the smallest flower
And the color of rocks
The grittiness of dust in the air, in your mouth
The patterns of light on the wall through the leaves

The fun is in the run

In the quiet of night and a thousands stars
Far more than the thirteen or so you count nightly
In the light-polluted skies over your city.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Pretty

I feel rounded as I run, heavy. I have a good pace, but feel the weight of each step.

I catch my reflection in a store's front window. It's not pretty. I realize I'm that person I see while they are running and think, "Good for them! It's uncomfortable, but they are running. Good for them."

Pretty is for other people, it's not for me. I have never cared for pretty.

Good for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The blanket

Depression can feel like a blanket. It smothers me some days, burying me with its weight. It is oppressive. I feel desperate but I cannot find the edges. 

Other days I pull it closer around me, avoiding the glimpses I see of escape - a smiling face, or a friend's invitation. The blanket is restrictive, but familiar. I see opportunities to get out, but I ignore them.

On still other days, I imagine throwing it off in one quick motion and darting out from underneath: 

"Fuck you, blanket!"
~~~~~

Depression has flitted in and out of my life for as long as I can remember. I have to assume this will always be the case. Running makes it better. Talking with friends and interacting with others makes it better. For me it is manageable, but there can still be days that feel bleak. It can be baffling as ultimately nothing seems to be wrong, but the feeling remains.