Sunday, December 21, 2008

holiday truths, according to me

1. When a parent is helping you with a task, especially in preparation for the holidays, regardless of how many times you've done it before, they will automatically assume this is the first time you're doing it and therefor must give you constant instruction and direction.

2. The times when you need to be the most productive you will be the most exhausted, and the times when you need the most rest, you will be unable to fall asleep.

3. Our mothers will always fret about what to wear and what to bring to each other's homes, even though they could easily call each other to confirm that the dress is casual and no gifts are necessary.

4. "Holiday Cheer" will not extend to the woman in line at the check-out behaving as though her holiday deadline is more important and imminent than anyone else's and could you PLEASE hurry up and get that price check NOW before she asks to speak to a manager.

5. You're all the more better off if you can keep patient and then crack a joke to make the clerk smile when it's your turn to check out.

6. Each year we will swear up and down to be done with Christmas shopping by November and have cards mailed out by December 15th, but will always fail to do so.

7. No matter where you live or how unlikely the chance, part of you will always wish for a snowflake or two on Christmas Day.

8. The tree may be greener in someone else's living room, but what matters the most is the company with which you get to admire your own.

9. And as much as we may wish that tree were real, we secretly smile to know we won't be pricking our toes on hidden pine needles months after the tree's gone.

10. In the end, after all the fuss, stress, and lack of sleep, we leave the holiday season with a renewed sense of what's important; family, friends, and enjoying some damn good Christmas cookies your mom insisted on helping you bake even though you've made them on your own for the past 3 years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

no say in the matter

Ever have that experience when you see, hear, or feel something so far outside your expectations that it takes several moments for it to register as being real? I had a moment like that today as I ran by a house, elegantly decorated for Christmas with brightly lit lawn ornaments shining over a lawn that looked to be a very imported shade of green, myself decked out in running shorts and a t-shirt on a 68 degree day in December. It just didn't fit.

I often have these moments with my pregnancy as well, especially while running. The same hill I could power through on a 93 degree day in July, now takes the wind out of me less than halfway up, at what feels like less than half my old pace. These are my legs, right? The same calves, the same hamstrings, the same quads. The same hills too. After all, in Greenville it's just not possible to do a flat, easy run, unless you're on a treadmill. The runner is trapped inside a pregnant lady, with this little thing inside stealing her oxygen and blood.

I'm certainly not complaining, far from it. It's just... strange. We're still a month away from hearing the little thief's heartbeat for the first time and until then, it's silently redirecting me towards a different purpose, whether the runner likes it or not. Maybe it's not helping that I'm caught up reading John L. Parker books (Once a Runner and Again to Carthage), but part of me is hoping I can live vicariously through Quentin Cassidy's often poetic journey as a runner, just to hold on to the memory of what it feels like to conquer those demons along with the miles.

For now, I have to be content to be a spectator, to Quenton, to myself, and to the rest of the running world. Nothing is quite like setting an ambitious goal and achieving it, but nothing else is quite like growing a baby inside of you, either. Just as one can tire of watching others pass by in a race, I know I've been tired of seeing other women's blossoming bellies and not being able to know what that feels like.

As I transition from one world to the other, I have to be careful not to get caught up in the in between, where I don't quite fit as a runner, but don't yet feel like a mom. Like Christmas decorations on a too-warm December day, I look in the mirror and think, "Is this right? It just... doesn't... fit." Well, not yet anyway. It will soon, I'm sure.

"And at last he saw: there was no refuge in cowardice, because he was not afraid. There was no alternative, it just had to be done."

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It's been a strange week, and while the reality of the little bean sprouting inside of me continues to sink in, the world continues on in its own weird way without thought or hesitation.

Tuesday I arrived at work and was told just as the rest of the staff was to wait upstairs in the lounge. The big kahuna and management were meeting downstairs in the dining room and I was simply told: It's not good. First thought was, "great, who fucked up and got themselves fired now," second thought was, "oh shit, are they closing the restaurant?" Come to find out, our chef would no longer be working for the company and - long story short - it was her own doing.

What makes this entire thing very weird for me is the fact that I have had a fearful respect of this chef since day one. She makes me afraid to mis-ring anything. She makes me afraid to forget where seat one is. She makes me afraid to forget what the 12th out of 15 ingredients is in our top-selling appetizer. But all of those things I fear are exactly what make me able to do my job.

I'm not a server by nature, you see. I'm not great with the small talk, it's likely that I won't remember a customer's face if I ever cross paths with them outside of work, and truthfully, I just don't care when a couple is going to their umpteenth show at the theater for the month, let alone what that show is. All I can do is tell you what's in what, what you should try, and how you need to order your steak. When it comes to serving I only care about doing two things: earning a decent tip by making sure you get the food you want and making sure that the food I bring you isn't absolute crap. So when I find out that the creator of our menu and person responsible for keeping a kitchen full of rowdy misfits in line is gone, I immediately question my ability to continue to perform those two tasks.

When asked to step up to the task of helping run the kitchen, at least for now, the sous chef seemed reluctant. For the sake of my own confidence in the restaurant and the kitchen, I practically begged her to consider that she could be capable, even if she doesn't feel it right now. I pretty much told her that while it was for selfish reasons only that I wanted her there, I summed up the reasons why I'm not a server, but working in this particular restaurant reassures me that when I completely drop the ball, the people will at least still be thrilled with what they're eating and I might not lose my entire tip. Bringing the focus back to her, I simply said, "you rock, and we need you."

The restaurant continues on for now and I'll continue serving there until either I accumulate too many hours with school and my - eventual - job at the gym, or my belly gets too big and it starts knocking drinks on my customers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

just give me Bravo and a pan of brownies

Prior to this week, if you had asked me about my running or workout plans throughout this pregnancy, I would have enthusiastically told you about how I planned to sticking to a solid routine, maintaining my good cardiovascular fitness, and that in all ways I wouldn't let being pregnant interfere with my active lifestyle.

Fast forward to today, me reclining in the living room after having gorged on chick-fil-a, watching Bravo with a cloud of shame and guilt hanging dreadfully close to my head.

What I had heard and read about, but could not have been prepared for, was this overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that no amount of sleep or time wasted on facebook can erase. Tuesday I went to work with eyes watering and swelling from tiredness, and left bawling because I worked through it for a whopping $45. I just wanted to scream at every table, "Don't you know how TIRED I am?! Don't you know I have to get up at six-thirty?!? Don't you know that I can't feed a BABY on $45 fucking dollars a night?!?!"

It was at this point that I figured I must be experiencing some of those "real" symptoms that I had eluded so far. Because suddenly the only remedy to my emotional state seemed to be to eat brownies in a bed full of the biggest, fluffiest pillows that release a poof of lavender-scented ambien dust to lull me into the longest slumber imaginable (brownies still in hand).

I also realized that for right now, this would mean that running and workout out aren't going to play a major roll in my pregnancy until I can stand being on my feet again for more than 20 minutes. Yesterday was awful. Lifting weights made me want to cry (again). Today was a bit better as I was able to get through a lower body workout without much stress or strain. I know I need to run today, which I'll manage one way or another, but it'll be slow.

Already I can't wait for what I now refer to as, "the golden period," that magical 2nd trimester when I won't be tired all the time, the thought of hummus won't make me gag, and I may even start showing enough to generate some better tips.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

when can I believe?

I'm having a difficult time actually feeling like connecting with the other women on the message boards of the "Yay You're Pregnant!" - type website I signed up on a soon as I found out (I refer to it as the "babymama website"). It's not that they're not support of each other or anything, but I'm seeing way more negative posts than positive ones, and at the end of only my 5th week of pregnancy, I think the last thing I need to be reading about is everybody's horrible symptoms or miscarriages.

Take a moment if you want to slap me for that last statement, I understand.

I really do have complete sympathy for anyone going through the horrible experience of having a miscarriage, or any other early complication. Still, for those of us who've chosen to share the news despite the superstition that you shouldn't say anything until you've reached the 2nd trimester, it's somewhat disheartening - and makes me just a little frightened - when all I'm reading about is all the things that could go wrong.

Call me selfish, but I want some good stories. I need to feel confident that it's okay to be this excited, this early. I need to believe that it's okay to believe that this is real, and that I can finally stop waiting for something bad to happen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

running with a tadpole

After the initial revelation that I was incubating a teeny-tiny little tadpole whose cells continue to rapidly divide, I was somewhat... paranoid. For some reason I had images of me dislodging the poor thing during a run, or worse, that there wasn't really anything there to do damage to. That it was all a dream and I'd wake up at the mercy of yet another menstrual cycle.

I asked a couple other people if they had those same initial fears, and luckily found out that I wasn't alone. Friends repeatedly assured me- the little bugger is far more resilient than you think. But it was hard for me to overcome my hesitations to bounce right back into my normal workout routine without feeling, well, guilty.

Some people would say it's selfish to be concerned with such superficial things as controlling weight gain and maintaining muscle tone while pregnant. That you really ought to take it easy, put your feet up, and give in to those ridiculous cravings. But I'm not one to typically cater to my more lethargic desires, save for the occasional post-20-miler 3 hour nap. The idea of being sedentary not only seems insane for someone like me, but completely counter intuitive to supporting the health of my baby. But how much is enough, and how much is too much?

Well I'm discovering that I haven't given my body nearly enough credit as I should have to let me know first-hand whether it's ready to do more, or needs to take a break. So far, elliptical might make me queasy initially but is great for when the boobs are too sore for running, and I can still whoop my husband's butt running up a hill. But when I'm tired, I'm tired, and I should take it as a sign to rest. Today I got in a solid 20 minutes on the elliptical plus a full-body circuit workout and I felt really great, joking that the kid's gonna come out doing push-ups.

My motives for staying fit are clear, if not slightly selfish. So I'm scared all my mitochondria will shrivel and die if I don't keep up a certain level of cardiovascular fitness... is that really so bad? The important thing is that I scale back the intensity, and stop when my body tells me to. Hopefully that will help me overcome the paranoia.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

two pink lines times two

Yup. There's a bun in the oven. I am, without a doubt, totally preggers and probably more excited and anxious than I've ever been in my whole life.

This morning I took "The" test, as in the one that in my mind would officially determine what I strangely already knew. Sure enough, two pink lines showed up, clear as day. Six hours and another sample of urine later I was staring at another set of pink dashes, confirming that new cells were, in fact, dividing rapidly within me.

Already my mind is swimming with thoughts of how I'm gonna look with a belly, how badly I'll torture my husband with hormonal mood swings, and everything that needs to be done with the house before we can even consider bringing a child through the front door.

Of course there's also the question about what will come of my running. Naturally I know not to push it too hard, to keep my workouts at a conversational pace, and to not get overheated. I'm hoping my current fitness will not be lost entirely as I slow down, but that continuing to keep strong will make for an easier pregnancy and delivery. Even if running includes multiple pit-stops to pee.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. For the time being, I'll be reveling in the excitement and nervous anticipation that comes with knowing that my husband and I are starting a family (of the flesh and blood and not just furry variety). My sister can't wait to make fun of me when I get my Buddha belly. My husband can't wait for me to experience my 3rd trimester sex drive. My mom... well needless to say she's just ecstatic.

I'm going to be a mom!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

somthin' cookin'?

Sometimes you want something so badly you can convince yourself it's real, even when it's not. I certainly hope this is not one of those times. All I can say for right now is that I've been more tired and foggy-headed than usual, I've had this weird hunger-on-the-border-of-nausea sensation for most of the day the past few days, and after peeing on a stick I saw a second - albeit faint - line showing through the window.

It's funny the things you do differently when your body is changing (or you so desperately want it to be). Through previous months I ran hard and trained as usual, mostly because I had a marathon goal time to work towards. So even though my husband and I haven't used birth control in over a year, nothing happened. I suppose it was my body's way of telling me it was going to do what I wanted it to do, but not if it had to take care of something growing inside of it, too.

But 4 weeks post-marathon, a few lbs back on my frame, and my time spent running reduced by nearly 2/3rds (I've been spending a lot of time doing low-impact), maybe my body decided it was ready for a new task. I hope so.

Because truth be told, I'm kind of tired of seeing girls practically get pregnant every time their boyfriends sneeze, while other couples try for years and years and years with no results. If I AM playing host to a little being in my belly, I know that I'm lucky in that we haven't been "trying" that hard, but I also know I'm ready because a year - or two, or three - is a long time to wait when you've already made the decision to bring a child into the world.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the bad leg

My left leg never liked me. I sprained its ankle too many times, ran too many left circles during track & field, and clocked too many miles on cambered suburban roads. For all its aching and complaining, it never gave me the chance to suffer a "real" injury that could at least result in having some "real" mettle (a-la Paula Radcliffe still running Beijing after a stress fracture and poisonous spider bite).

No, instead I'm confined to ellipticals and stationary bikes and manically painting the bathroom walls until the leg finally stops hurting long enough to starting counting miles again without limping around like House.

Ok, in reality, I guess it's not all that bad. I can still enjoy almost the same pre-marathon caloric intake thanks to a super-revved metabolism (helloooo Ben & Jerry's), and it's a lot less stressful trying to get things done around the house when I don't have to worry about reserving energy for a 15+ miler. And it goes pretty much without saying that the husband enjoys when I have a little energy left at the end of the day as well.

Still, I'm anxious to get back out there. To find out how much more I can do, how much faster I can go. But I guess for the time being it wouldn't hurt to get used to this freedom for a couple more weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

quicker still

I worry sometimes that I seem painfully simple to the people who deal with me the most.

Let's face it, there's not that much to me, and I'm not even saying that to seem self-deprecating in that cute, humble kind of way that we servers learn to be so good at because it increases our chances that the customer will realize that we're just human and we may still even earn a tip in spite of that. But in all honesty, my brain is so occupied with remembering which organs in the endocrine system secrete what hormones when and why and remembering drink orders for a table of 12 that more often than not, there's not much room left for the big topics and conversations.

I talk a lot about my husband, my furry family (3 cats and 2 dogs in case you were curious), and my continued efforts to train the large muscle groups in my legs to move me forward in a repetitive motion quicker and quicker still. To me it seems I'm just sharing the things that make me happy, but I can see how I tend to make myself seem like quite the simpleton.

Truth of the matter is, I used to have the big conversations. Late at night in coffee shops, with lots and lots of black coffee and cigarettes the words and thoughts would flow from one overly-caffeinated self-proclaimed tortured soul to another. I'm far from those days, and the cancer sticks, but as a point of irony that only I would get, I did dress up as a beatnik for Halloween. Still, I wonder, is there any part of the me then - the part that wanted to know about everything and question it at the same time - left in the me now, or did I run it out, literally?

Or maybe it's the opposite. I suppose with running as much as I do I spend a little too much time with my thoughts and ideas. Too much time inside my own head. By the time I'm not alone anymore I'm about ready to get out, talk about the simple things. Not saying I've got the solution to the world's problem up in the ol' noggin or the answer to the meaning of life, but the creative forces that used to fuel my late nights in coffee shops must be driving me now in a different way. I may not have the energy anymore to write them all down or get up on the mic in a smoke-filled room and share them, but they do move me.

Quicker, and quicker still.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

a new day, a new hope

I awoke this morning with a new sense of optimism and hope for the next four years. This was my first election where I did not feel entirely disenfranchised, even if SC was still glowing red on the results map. But damn it, it took me 5 hours to vote and I was proud to do it (story about that to come).

Whether or not you voted for Obama, I hope everyone can appreciate how monumental this election was, and what it means for our country that we are looking at our first African-American president. We still have many gaps to close, and this election in and of itself won't eradicate racism and ignorance, but it's a major step along the way that proves that maybe we are capable of moving forward after all (a fact that, in my misanthropic moods, I sometimes find difficult to believe).

If you got out there to vote, kudos to you. If you didn't, hopefully now you see the importance every single vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

garnering a new audience

"You know you're a runner if..."

If you're a runner, your answer to this ranges from your multiple uses for moleskin to number of toenails you've had to say sayonara to.

I've shared my running adventures and mishaps elsewhere, with friends mostly; non-running friends. Friends to whom I probably seem unusually addicted to this running thing and therefor somewhat insane. Run? For an undetermined length of time? In circles, on a treadmill, or on the same streets over, and over, and over? You go ahead and have fun with that.

In an attempt to feel like I'm not talking to brick walls and blank stares, I figured I'd bringing my running stories and mishaps here. I'm also a server and going to school for personal training, which promises the occasional non-running anecdote. Mainly, I'm too lazy to keep a diary, plus it lacks the organization and interaction this great interweb offers me.

Thanks, I'll be running by again soon.