Friendship is Magic?

Since I was a child, I have had a lot of friends. I’ve always been the “good listener,” the friend who will support you in any and all of your decisions, the one who understands you and is insightful and who is compassionate and giving and blah, blah, blah.

Well, I’m done with all of that. I can no longer be everyone’s friend. I am just too tired and too annoyed to keep up this façade.

I have friends of many religions and faiths, including Christians, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics and those that just call themselves spiritual. I have friends that are Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Independent, and those that no longer care. I have friends that are black, white, brown and multi-colored. I have friends that are gay, straight, bisexual, and asexual. I intend to continue to be friends with all of you…but I no longer guarantee it.

A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in our country. It is something I had hoped for but honestly didn’t think I would see. I am proud that my son gets to grow up in a country that recognizes people like his uncles (my brother and his partner) have the same legal right to marry as his parents did. It never made sense to him (or me or many others) as to why they couldn’t marry to begin with. And the fact that what we believed should have been true, now is, our lives feel a little better. Like our equilibrium has been restored.

But obviously not everyone feels the same way. Some of my friends on Faceimages5CUW7MLLbook had other things to say, and after looking at the people they were, I realized that I didn’t need to be “friends” with them. It wasn’t the fact that they had different beliefs, although that is why I first thought to examine our so-called friendship. It was because we weren’t ever really friends. They were all high school classmates of mine, but they were people that I didn’t really know anymore. And did I ever know them then?

 

During my senior year of high school, my friend Matt and I were named “Best All Around.” Matt was (and is) a good guy. He’s funny, attractive, athletic, intelligent and sweet. I think I was all of those things, except take out the attractive and athletic and insert “big girl.” But I was everyone’s friend…or at least I was friendly with everyone. I didn’t hate anyone nor had bad feelings about my classmates. I could stop at just about any table in the lunchroom and there’d be at least one person I could and would talk to. I don’t think it was because I was especially kind or friendly, I think it’s because I wanted everyone to like me. To be disliked or perhaps unwanted, was my biggest fear.

But you know what? Being disliked is no longer my biggest fear. Becoming a “big girl” again might be up there on my list of scary things, but one thing I do know is that I can’t be everyone’s friend. I can’t like everybody. Not everyone deserves to be liked by me. And the energy it takes to be true friends with someone with very different opinions than your own? It’s a HUGE amount of energy, people. I know this because I married someone like that.

When my husband and I first started dating, we were both completely open to others’ opinions. We were young and wanted to listen and learn from each other and it didn’t matter that we were polar opposites. We have different political and religious viewpoints…and favorite foods and hobbies and how we place the toilet paper on the roll. He’s conservative, I’m liberal. I’m an Agnostic, he’s not. He likes Miracle Whip, I like mayonnaise. He likes beef, I like chicken. I like to run, he’d rather crawl. We differ so much that sometimes….sometimes it really is too hard. We argue over issues outside of our control (abortion, Rush Limbaugh, President Obama) and occasionally we get so upset that we can no longer hear what the other person is saying. (Kind of like Congress?) Eventually tempers recede or we’ll say something so preposterous that we both start laughing and we’re ok again. But all of that is exhausting. Now don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and am happy I married him. He’s a good guy with a big heart. I just wish he wouldn’t cancel out my vote every election day. :)

So…all of that energy it takes to maintain the relationship with my spouse? I have none to spare when it comes to my friends. None. If it’s not easy, then it won’t happen. Even when some of my best friendships start feeling a little difficult because of one issue or another? I tend to back off and wait for the other person to come to me. I can no longer be that person who initiates the gathering or is the mediator for your discussions. I can’t always be that person who listens to you and offers advice. I’m done. I will no longer apologize for what I believe in or what I think. I have been above and beyond tolerant with so many people for so long.

Now it’s your turn.

 

 

 

 

Jackie Robinson, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Me

42.

That’s the age I became at 11:51pm yesterday and so far I think it’s a good age to be. I’m in a decent place in my life. I’m able to run 4 times a week again and am in pretty good shape, although with more “fluffiness” then I’d like. I’m attempting to let that go, and today, after seeing photos of me with that damn muffin top, I still think I’m pretty cute. Skinned knees and all.

DSCN3029

My son is doing well, and although we have a bit of a rough road ahead, we’re off to a decent start of the summer with weekly basketball competitions and many planned swimming pool visits. Hopefully my husband will be part of these physical activities, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Being a librarian is still a good thing for me to be. I sometimes think I want to do something else so I can be with my boy more, but I don’t think I can. I’m not brave enough to jump ship without a safety net, like some of my courageous friends. As much as I’d love to write for a living or go back to school to be an accountant (no joke), I’m in a place in my career AND in my life, where I’m just not willing to rock the boat. Does that mean I’ll never be great like the 42-wearing Jackie Robinson? Probably. But do I care?

Well….not really. Being “average” is not a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to be better in my work, my parenting, my running and in some of my relationships. But to be great? It just sounds like too much work, like something would have to be sacrificed and I’m just not willing to do that right now. Maybe ever.

I remember being in a meeting once with other librarians, and I said that I wasn’t willing to work past closing time. Several of my colleagues laughed at me and said, “Must be nice!” I was seriously annoyed at the time, but after a while I realized that those people were willing to sacrifice more than I was. I get home less than 90 minutes before my child goes to bed, so if I want to talk to and see my kid before he moves out, I better get my ass home as soon as the library closes. Period.

You know, I really don’t believe that a person can have it all–the career, the family, the social life. Something will suffer or maybe even everything.  And even if you don’t strive to have it all, nothing will ever be perfect or even “just the way you want it.”

I think in life there are good days and bad days. Maybe a perfect moment or two or a hundred. And if you’re lucky, you’ll realize that perfect moment as it’s happening and you’ll appreciate it and remember it and hold onto it.

Who knows, maybe Douglas Adams was right. Maybe 42 IS the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything, or rather the year in turning 42 you will find that answer.

Or was it 54?

Only time will tell, I guess. Until then, enjoy those moments of perfection, my friends. And may they be too many to count. <3

 

 

Keep Your Dogs Under Control

This is why dog owners must tie their dogs up when outside or have a fence the animals cannot jump over.

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I just began my run, literally only a minute into it, when this small dog tripped me. I never even saw him. I did hear his little feet on the pavement but the next thing I knew I was on the ground, face first. This dog didn’t bite me, but it finally did what I’ve been dreading for the past few years when I run past this house. It has nearly tripped me on many occasions.  I know at least one person that has kicked it (and no, it wasn’t me) because this runner didn’t want the dog to bite or trip them either.

You have a responsibility as a dog owner to keep control of them. No matter the size of the dog, they can still hurt someone.

Nothing like a good book…

This morning, my run began horriblly. I had to walk after just a 1/4 mile because my back and hip didn’t seem aligned. I had a painful hitch back there and running was nearly impossible. After a minute it felt better so I started running again…for another minute. This went on for nearly a mile, until finally my body felt “right” and I could continue on. I really wanted to get 5 miles in because I want to do more next weekend. So once my body felt ready to go, I got running.

While on this run, my mind kept wandering to different topics like, “Crap, I forgot to wear sunblock” and “Why is that guy walking around in the field? Maybe I should run faster” and “I really need to change up my playlist.” Finally my thoughts focused on summer reading. Why? I have no clue. I often think about sex when I run because….well, why not? It just feels good!

But today, I started to think about what librarians in the public libraries always face each summer—the dreaded summer reading list. Admittedly, very few parents or students bring these into my library. Occasionally I’ll get a couple of folks who are worried about their kiddos’ reading level, so they get a list from their teachers to try and help them. Now…I’m probably a teacher’s worst nightmare. I don’t discourage picking from the list the teachers provide, but I DO add a few titles I think the kid would actually want to read.

For instance, this book:

fartsquad

I know. Disgusting, isn’t it? Fart Squad by Seamus Pilger is about four kids that get super fart powers due to a bunch of bad burritos served at their school cafeteria. It’s filled with so many butt and fart jokes, that you can’t do anything but laugh.  And I guarantee it’s not on any summer reading list. But it should be. Not because it’s filled with vocabulary words you want your child to know (although flatulence is a GREAT word!), nor is it great storytelling. But it’s fun. And although my child already likes to read, he can’t wait to read this at nighttime.

We’ve been using this as our read-aloud for the past few nights, but today, we used it to fill in a little gap of time. In my last blog, I talked about my son’s weight problem and how things need to change in our  household. Fortunately they are. One thing that my boy needs to do every weekend is to earn his screen time. The timer was set this afternoon and he knew he couldn’t watch tv or play video games while the timer was on. After having various “gun battles,” I suggested we read a smidge from Fart Squad. My boy agreed and he became so engrossed in the silly but hilarious story, that he never heard the timer buzz to let him know he could play a video game. And I didn’t tell him…until later. ;) Normally the kid would be running to the computer when that buzzer went off, but not today.

Of course there are some fantastic reads for kids out there that they will enjoy, that are not filled with fart jokes. And I promise you I am not trying to tell you how to parent, because we ALL have our particular battles to fight and obstacles to overcome. I just ask that you find or allow at least one book for your child this summer, that he or she WANTS to read. If it’s already on that summer reading list you got from the school, then bonus for everyone! And if it’s a book of jokes filled with potty humor, then it may be a long summer for you. Yet if your kid is reading and enjoying it, then won’t it be a good summer?

 

A Big Fat “F”

My child knows right from wrong. He has to take responsibility for his actions and suffer the consequences. It’s been a difficult thing to teach him. It’s hard to see your child hurting, no matter what the reason is. But when he does something “bad” and doesn’t realize it because I haven’t taught him, then *I* must take responsibility for his actions. Unfortunately, though, he will still suffer the consequences.

This past winter, nearly every person I know in New England gained weight. It was a very cold, extra snowy season and it was difficult to go outside. Since I had a lot of back pain during that time, too, I only went outside to go to my car. That was it. And because of *that*, I watched my son slowly put on the pounds. When I realized how inactive he truly was (especially on the weekends when we were at home), I tried to actively play with him more like foam sword fighting and dancing in the kitchen. He used the treadmill occasionally, too, while I lifted weights. We have a PlayStation 3 so we also played gladiator and Frisbee golf games on that to move around more.

But it wasn’t enough. I didn’t do those things with him enough. Each time he undressed to take a shower, I completely freaked out inside because I could see how much he had gained. I got so desperate I started having him do jumping jacks before bedtime. I tried to make a game out of it so he wouldn’t realize how crazy and obsessed and upset I had become.

I started reading up on childhood obesity and how to prevent it and how to deal with it if it was already too late. I wasn’t sure how much my boy weighed but I guessed. From every children’s BMI chart I could find, he was in the overweight category. I took a few deep breaths, but tried to come up with a plan to turn things around. Screen time now had to be earned and not automatically given. Pizza night became pizza and salad night. Wednesday became Walking Wednesday (or basketball Wednesday, whichever he wanted to do). I began to feel a bit better. I was trying at least.

To really know what I was dealing with, though, I asked my son to weigh himself. I told him I just wanted to know how much he’d grown before we go see the doctor next month.  I held my breath as the scale went up and down.

The number was 10 pounds higher than I originally thought. But I didn’t react in front of him. I smiled and thanked my beautiful boy as he hopped off the scale and scampered to his room.

At that point all I wanted to do was pick up the scale and smash it against the wall, hearing the sound of the plastic cracking to bits. But I didn’t. I just slid it back under my bureau and went back to the BMI charts to get the verdict.

I waited until I got to work to check the charts. I looked at 3 different children’s BMI charts online. They all asked for my son’s age, height and weight. Some of the charts asked for my height and my husband’s height. But each and every result was the same….obese. Not overweight anymore, but obese.

I failed.

I didn’t just fail but I failed my son. I failed him completely and utterly with a big fat “F.”

When I drove home that night, I was feeling a bit weepy, overwhelmed, defeated really. And yet I had a smidge of hope. I still had some tricks left up my sleeve. Just that morning before I checked the charts, I bought a hula hoop. Something silly but fun that would get all of our bodies moving. When I got home, I told my boy I had a surprise and to meet me out in front of our house. When he came out, I was attempting to swing my hips and keep the hoop moving. (I am *really* bad at it!) It made him laugh and want to try it, too. So he tried it a few times, laughing, then said, “Hey, Mom! Want to play basketball?”  I replied with probably an overly enthusiastic “YES” because I was so surprised and happy and ultimately hopeful.

My son knows he should be more active. He knows this because both my husband and I have been encouraging him to do so. I am trying to be a good example of someone who eats well and is physically active, but I also know he needs to see that with other family members. Being a fit family is something I have longed for, but I don’t think it’s realistic. I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can do my damnedest to influence my son’s.

It’s my job to fix this.

I feel good about the little things I’ve put in place, like better snacks and integrating more physical activity at home. Thankfully summer is nearly here, which means a lot of swimming and Frisbee and basketball and maybe even hiking. I know this winter will be a challenge, but for now I need to focus on today.

I am also aware that I can’t obsess about this…too much. Any suggestion of physical activity will meet great resistance if I push this too far. For instance, today is a rainy day and my plans of shooting arrows and playing basketball have fallen by the wayside. Fortunately we still had lightsaber duels and dancing in the kitchen to Cello Wars. But my husband and son also wanted to play a video game together. That is something I will never say “no” to. It may not seem like quality time to some people, but for them it really is. I can hear them playing and they’re laughing and calling each other names (in fun) and having a great time. I had suggested earlier that the two of them take a walk in the rain (they both love this) and I hope they still do that, but for now I have to let it go and hope they make good decisions.

Even though I failed my son, this isn’t over. I can’t let him become a fat teenager, or even a fat middle-schooler. Those years are the most torturous *without* being a big kid. If my boy’s tics continue through that age, he’ll be ostracized just from that. He won’t need one more thing to make him feel like an outcast. In fact, being fat could make him feel invisible, not important, unworthy. And I will not let my child feel that way because *I* didn’t get his ass moving when he was 8 years old.

It’s now time to FIGHT.

fight

 

The Damn Pill

Just over 20 years ago, I wrote the following poem after being on the birth control pill for a few months.

Sacrifices

Every morning
I place the pill
on my tongue

and think
of the time
when you came

to me and asked,
“What have you
ever done for me?”

This was one of my favorite poems and one of the few I had published (this was in Hammers, No. 12, 1997, a publication of doublestar press).  I liked writing feminist and angry poetry back then. And of the many things I wrote in college and beyond, this one piece always stuck with me. I feel like it’s still relevant to my life now, except the only person asking me to take this damn pill is my gynecologist.

Three months ago, I had a procedure done to make sure my body was working properly and I didn’t have endometrial cancer. Everything turned out ok but my doctor recommended I go on the birth control pill to slow down the endometriosis that was wreaking havoc on my system. I expressed my concerns, telling her how angry I had been when I took the pill in my early 20s. Of course, I think I was angry in general back then. During the 2 years I was on the pill, I fell in love several times, had my heart broken, graduated from college, started graduate school, got engaged, and was bulimic for a large portion of that time. In other words, I was fucked up. I don’t think the pill hurt my situation (I didn’t get pregnant and that was a very good thing), but it didn’t help my moods at all.

Now that it’s 20 years later, my doctor assured me that things had changed and she thought I’d be ok on this pill. I’d only have my period once every 3 months and it shouldn’t intensify my emotions. I was willing to give it a try, at least for a 3-month cycle.

By the end of the first week of taking this pill, my husband *begged* me to stop taking it. I was not only angry and snappy but I was unbelievably sad.  Of course, this was also in February when things are gloomy here in Maine, my back was still messed up so I wasn’t running, and a friend of mine was dying. I know all of these things contributed to my sadness and the moodiness. But having my husband tell me he could watch me go through a wide range of emotions in just a few hours was a bit unsettling. And honestly, it was exhausting. I sometimes could see myself react to a situation with anger when I knew that I shouldn’t. I’d scream at my son or at my husband and I *knew* I was overreacting, but I just couldn’t stop myself. This had happened once or twice before I went on the pill, like my hormones were raging and out of control, but it happened too many times that first month.

At the beginning of the second month, I started bleeding uncontrollably…for 7 days. I was weak, light-headed and scared. I called my doctor and she told me to stop taking the pill for a few days. She started me too soon in my cycle the month before and now my body was trying to make up for the mistake.  It was friggin’ horrible. But maybe my body was trying to tell me, “Hey! You’re *supposed* to bleed once a month, goober, and not every 3 months!”

This third month has been better, though. Sort of. I’ve only had a few days where my emotions flared up into a firestorm, but I cooled down very quickly. And apologized. A lot. And now I’m in the week with the fake pills that I don’t bother to take. My period has been….weird, to say the least. Not horrible but not my normal, either.

But the one thing that has happened over the past 3 months that I haven’t mentioned, is the water weight. Or what I *assume* is water weight. Over the winter, I gained 8 pounds. Fine. Whatever. But I’ve been trying to do something about those 8 pounds for the past 3 months. I’ve counted calories and exercised. I’m now running 4 days week and walking or working with weights 2 other days a week. SO WHY HAVEN’T I LOST ANY WEIGHT?!?

Has my metabolism really changed this much? I know it’s possible, but much of the time I don’t just feel heavy, I feel bloated. Like a sausage being squeezed out of its casing. I just feel so, so FAT. And it’s seriously messing with my head. I don’t care what people think I look like. If they think I look slim or “just perfect” then that’s wonderful. But I don’t think that nor do I feel that. My self-esteem has diminished greatly. I can feel myself slouching more. I’ve been extremely anti-social. I seem to only be able to talk with my friends via email or Facebook. I have phone calls to return but just can’t do it. For 2 months, I’ve put off spending an evening with my closest friends because I just don’t want to be around anyone.

What I need to know is what this extra weight IS. Did the pill cause this or has my metabolism just changed as my body crossed that mysterious boundary into my 40s?

I really want to know the answer. I NEED to know the answer.

But *today* I need to decide if I continue taking this pill for another three months. Yes, it would be nice to not worry about my period or horrendous cramps for nearly the entire summer. But if this extra weight is caused by the pill, what will this do to my mental health? Can I stop worrying about the weight for 90 days? I seriously doubt it. Maybe I can find some comfortable but cool clothes to hide in for the summer and not feel like my fat is oozing out everywhere? Maybe.

Or maybe just stop taking the damn thing and talk to my doctor next month and find some other alternative? Maybe.

I’m having a really hard time deciding. I just don’t know what I should do. I don’t think either choice is fantastic, but I just don’t know which is *right* for me, you know?

For right now though, I’m going to get my butt out of this chair and go for a run. Maybe that will clear my head and help me make a decision.

Anything is possible, right?

Run Your Butt Off

During the past few months, my running schedule has been nearly nonexistent. My back was not cooperating. I walked a lot on the treadmill and used a variety of Leslie Sansone walking dvds just to try to keep up some level of fitness through the winter.  As my back seemed to get better, I attempted a run or two. Although it felt good at the time, I was usually hurting the next day. I was frustrated, feeling fat, and just plain sad.

Then I found this book.ryob

This was a book my library bought over 3 years ago. I didn’t read it at the time because I didn’t need it. I was at my ideal weight and had already been running for a year or so. But now after a long winter AND spring of being 8 pounds over my ideal weight, I’ve had enough.

You know, I thought maybe breaking it off with Mr. Scale would not only help my mental state, but also improve my physical one. But it didn’t help either my mind or my body. Instead, I counted calories the entire month and tried to workout once a day. And after 31 days? I weighed *exactly* the same. I’m glad you couldn’t see my face when I weighed myself. Hell, I’m glad *I* couldn’t see my face. I must have looked shocked, disappointed, pitiful.

After a few days of moping and probably some angry eating, I started to delve more into this book. I had to forget that I ever ran before. The authors say that in the book at one point. Everyone needs to start at the beginning. And it’s ok. Stage 1 is just walking 30 minutes a day for 3-4 days a week. I had been doing that all winter, so I was at least all set with Stage One. The next part was only running a minute and walking for four. Each stage thereafter is less walking and more running, until you’re running 30 minutes and walking to cool down.

I’m currently at Stage 5, walking for 2 1/2 minutes and running for 5. You move on from each stage after a week or two, depending how you feel. Since I’ve been sick all week and only ran this twice, I will stay in Stage 5 for at least another week.

Do I feel like I’ve made a huge leap backwards? Oh hell yeah. Thinking that I was gearing up for my half just 2 years ago, feels a little like a dream sometimes. But….I have to remember that this is all ok. I have to start somewhere, and at the beginning seems the right place to start.

But….I will say that I wish…oh how I wish….that I didn’t care about these fucking 8 pounds. But honey, my pants would be on fire if I said I didn’t care.

My body just doesn’t feel “right.” My clothes don’t fit correctly anymore. I just returned a medium-sized t-shirt for a large because I felt like my muffin top and back fat were oozing out everywhere. *This* is a horrible feeling!!! If you’ve ever experienced it, you *know* what I’m talking about. And when it’s only EIGHT pounds making you feel that way, remember what it was like when you had those 80 pounds? Or 50? Or 150?

I REMEMBER.

I felt…insignificant. I felt….ugly. I felt….ashamed.

And this is how I feel right now.

I hate it. I don’t want to feel this way. I’ve tried so hard to overcome these mental beatings I keep giving myself. And there are days when I can do it. A lot of this past year has been about me working on loving who I am….but loving my body is just not easy for me to do.

I know my sister often gets mad at me when I’m counting calories and obsessing over food and my weight. She has certainly overcome the body image issues we grew up with, and I’m so proud of her. I keep hearing her voice in my head, telling me to stop being this way. To love my body like she has learned to love hers.

I’m just not there. Not yet.

Do I hope that this Run Your Butt Off program will solve all of my weight problems? Of course I do. Just like I hope buying a lottery ticket will solve my financial problems. But do I *really* think that? No. Not really. I do hope the RYBO program will get me in better shape, though. I think if I don’t push myself too hard or run too many days in a row, my body should be able to run a bit again. And yes, I most certainly hope it will also help me lose these incessant 8 pounds.  But do I think the program will make me love my body? Nope. It’s not a program filled with miracles or brain-washing. It’s just about running.

So…let’s just concentrate on that right now. I need to deal with my body and learning how to run again. How to breathe again. How to warm up and stretch. And just how to enjoy that time outside with my music, my beautiful surroundings…and my body.

 

 

 

 

It made me look forward to running again. It made me love it again.