On pie, the fetal position, and catching lightening in a bottle.

Thanksgiving crept up on me. By the Wednesday before, I was disappointed in myself for a barrage of reasons: I’d worn a ponytail for the third consecutive day that week (assuming the calendar week starts over on Monday). I was wishing for a nap. I was wishing I didn’t have to wait another day for pie.

My Facebook feed was cluttered with people giving thanks, which I liked. It was a nice break from the political monotony that had sabotaged my fragile disposition upon so many logging-ins previously that month. In my mind, I tried to come up with some witty list of my own.

I had a difficult time.

Not because I’m not thankful — I am, times a billion. It’s just that it was a long week, and I was feeling sinister in a clever-ish sort of way. In a turn for the worse, I maniacally brewed over all the things I’m NOT thankful for in 2012, namely:

1. Gangnam Style.

2. The iPad Mini.

3. 50 Shades of Grey.

3. Von Willebrand Disease.

4. Kelly Romirowsky’s stealth photography.

5. Delaware.

6. Growing out my bangs.

…and a few other minuscule hiccups not worth mentioning. But then I felt guilty, and I went the obvious but logical route and started listing items I am indeed thankful for. And then I scrambled them all up so that they appear in no particular order. Because you’d get jealous.

1. Carter Bird. Little toddler messes all around my house. Face grabbing kisses, backseat singing, and a one-inch vertical. Pants that never fit, an affinity for girls’ shoes, and bath time. A love for reading. Man-child laughter. New words every day. For being a 2 and 1/2 foot genius. For occasionally letting me sleep. For “Goonight, Mommy” and “Lub you too”.

2. Old friends.

3. New friends.

4. My parents. I would  probably curl up in the fetal position and disappear if it weren’t for my parents. Sometimes I do that anyway, just for kicks, so you can imagine how godawfully I might hold up without their support. For being my strength and my protection and my wisdom. For letting me raid your cabinets and sleep in your bed.

5. I’m thankful that I have more than I need. Life can’t be so tough if it takes me and Carter a month to go through a loaf of bread. And by go through, I am stating that we have to throw nearly full loaves out because they go bad.

6. For Ashley Butler and all that comes with her, namely Tom, her nectarine-sized fetus, Luna, her parents, her Harry Potter wall, the easy access to the printer in her room, and her cupcakes. The pumpkin ones most of all. Or maybe the strawberry ones.

7. My Uncle Jim. For the advice and the logic and for being there.

8. Patrick and Megan.For being the best roommates a lady and a 1/2 could ask for. For late night snacking, Dance Moms, couponing, Patrick waking me up screaming into his XBox headset, and that one night we went to Zumba and Megan came back pregnant.

9. Michelle. For telling me to get smarter and to use my head. For the best advice of the year award. For being a rock.

10. For Mi.

11. For Lu.

12. For little Sean Patrick, who made a ruckus getting here. For being seven pounds even with soft little hair and sweet little lips, and for having a mother who takes you on daily walks. For evening the boy-girl grandchild ratio.

11. Erin Renee. For half-pumpkin, half-chai and couch-sitting and ladies’ nights. For baby-showering and cooking and for all of the company. For perfect bitty Kami Rose. For FJ forays. For telepathy.

12. For Hawaii.

13. Katie Rodgerson. For the strawberry cookies in the mail and for just knowing.

14. Lynds, for knowing I wasn’t crazy the whole time, and for telling me. For that one night. For yoga and breakfast crepes and farmers’ markets.For being the most positive and thoughtful human, and for hopefully rubbing that off on me.

15. Jesse. For being both handsome and handy. For handling things. (How many times can I repeat hand-words?) For the lime tree and high on summertime. For how wonderful life is now you’re in the world. And, if we’re being honest, for Plex.

xmas 005

16. Thankful for all of my work ladies. Natalie, who has given Carter a new wardrobe time and again as Van grew out of his stylish duds. Heidi, who always listens patiently. Debra, whose excitement for life (but mostly for lunch) is catching. Melinda, for helping build my badass backbone — and for returning my “WTF is that kid wearing?” looks between passing periods. Brenda and Renee, for their love for the Core kids and their educational philosophies that just… make sense.  Kelly for making me laugh excessively. Ok, for all of my better halves on campus who I see on the rare occasion I do get to pop out of my hole — I work with some pretty rad folks.

17. For Game of Thrones, Dance Moms, and Sons of Anarchy. Thanks for the endless hours of escapism.

18. For church. For the ritual. For the dark seats in the back. For Chandler in the nursery. For time spent breathing, or taking notes, or getting my hand held.

19. For Jennifer Steele Rolland.

20. For my grandparents’ love.

21. For Jesse’s parents. For knowing exactly how to play with an 18-month old maniac. For being really, really good at making someone feel at ease. But not for taking that picture of me at Babushka’s.

22. For a really efficient TA. She deserves a medal.

23. For Dr. Lauren Marie Coletta Andrade and her husband. For “turn the lightbulb”, tossing and turning like the cutest bride she was, for “Call Me Maybe”, for introducing me to Liz and Darren, for a last chance to see a close friend, for the most needed vacation.

24. For Megan Kelleher, and for that really sweet note that she wrote.

25. For a huge, nutty family.

26. For Jessie Smith. I miss your guts.

27. For the blanket that Cracker gave me.

28. For The Hunger Games.

29. For Brandon and Janie.

30. For all of “The REAL Cool Kids”. For waking me up when I forgot to disable comments. For LGO and for Groupons. For Cards Against Humanity, Lime-a-Ritas, a lot of car-talk, the lake, trolling, and being the easiest people to fall in love with.

31. The rain.

32. For djdust5. For Livejournal, being my musical soulmate, Suns games, Mean Girls, Cabin Coffee, book club, Casablanca, and that one time we hung out on the swings at Kiwanis Park and found out that I can jump farther than you. Also, fuck Genet.

33. For Instagram. #sorryimnotsorry. Oh, and for Pinterest, too.

34. For my students. Even the ones that write about how strict the Protestants were in The Crucible, how Abigail Williams is a sex addict, and how John Proctor is just like Jon Gosselin.

35. For Champ, even though he sucks.

So there it was, this list that kept on listing. It felt bizarre, all of these blessings stacked in crooked juxtaposition with all of the disappointment and frustration and fear. How was an overthinker supposed to make sense of all of that?

Life wasn’t at all going where I had pictured. Between you, me, and The Internet, my life the past 12 months can generously be described as an egg falling from the roof of a three-story building. I mean, in all fairness, mine was a fine, fine egg. Not one of those half-stuck to the carton suckers with a fast-approaching expiration.

We can think of it as a Humpty Dumpty of sorts.

January fell into March, which tumbled into August. October had never felt so wrong. At least Good ‘Ole Humpty only fell once, so far as I’m aware. Each time I felt convinced of my own personal political slogan, “Things are getting better”, I found it more realistic to agree with the ever-persistent mantra, “Every time I think it can’t get worse, it does”.

So I taught myself what I thought was my most necessary skill set: an on-off switch. I’d feel the electricity wane and then stop flowing, and then I’d not be scared any more — or nervous, anxious, expectant, joyous, or hopeful. Just like that, I shut off. Done.

It’s simple, really. Adaptibility. Survival of the fittest.  And while I know so well how to do it now — like the back of my hand, like a well-traveled surface street, like auto-pilot — I’ve begun to wonder if you can unteach yourself a skill like that, because I for one never wanted to acquire it.

It’s just no way for anyone to live. Life, it goes on, and even while you’re busy running hard and fast just to find a place to catch your breath, you’re really just busy getting stronger. Bandage the damage and keep moving forward. Sooner or later, it heals.

2012 taught me that resiliency is humanity’s most underrated quality. It taught me to laugh out loud without covering my teeth. It taught me that I’ve been one tough cookie (but a tasty one!) all along. It taught me that’s it’s ok to be both the umbrella and the rain, and not to close your eyes during a thunderstorm, or you’ll miss the lightning.

Would you like to come in, out of the rest of the world?

For long moments after the bell had rung, I sat behind my desk with the door locked and pulled tight. I sat behind the door, behind my desk, behind my barrier of half-full cups. (I buy myself drinks as a coping mechanism. I get this from my mother.) I sat and I closed my eyes and I let one expectant minute slip past, and then another. But then, as I was bound to do, I got up, walked to the door, and allowed the waiting herd in. And then the bell rang, pulsating and loud, and class started. Wednesday went back to normal.

Some days, it’s like that.

I recall exactly what as a child I thought adulthood had in store for me. The dream resurfaces easily. In it, I live in a smallish house, a house with a finished attic, and have three children, two boys and a girl. I cook simple things for breakfast: oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, wheat toast with cream cheese and jam. I comb the boys’ hair to the side and cuff their pant legs. I french braid the girl’s and tuck the wispies back behind her ears. I have a bin under the bathroom sink designated for skinned knees. In my stolen time, at night before bed, I read books. I write.

At some point, time began to move faster. Life became a to-do list. Check. Check. Check.

Is this what my mid-twenties is about? Caring too much about things that don’t matter?

I spent tonight in glorious fashion. I curled up with The Smiths and a cherry limeade and alternated between surfing the internet and reading Julia Alvarez. I felt snug in my worn college sweats and cozy by the single bulb of a lamp.

I guess what I’m trying to scratch at is the knowledge (not the realization, because, let’s face it, this is the story of my life) that I need to do more of the things I enjoy and can feel stretching and warming my soul, and less worrying and hustling and bustling.

I wish I were an old woman. I wish I had more answers.

Green.

On Thursday afternoon, there was a noiseless explosion in my classroom. Accident? Malicious calculation? I will never know. What I do know is that before fifth period, my carpet was spic and span. Post fifth hour, there was a large, neon green splatter spanning a foot and a half next to the bookcase.

I hate when shenanigans go down in my classroom and I don’t see them happen. My room is not large, and I am on my feet walking it each entire 50-minute period. Still, I am one in a sea of 35, and juniors are tall and opaque types of people, so I guess I can’t see everything. But it’s just the sort of thing to make you feel helpless, or incompetent, or both.

Was it a busted highlighter? Possible. A broken glow stick? Likely, considering the ever-present Deadmau5 t-shirts that plague my hallways (no offense, Zimmerman). The point is, if someone had told me what had happened, I would have dealt with it with a level head. But no, I got to discover my stained carpet all by myself, at the end of the day, when I was desperate to leave.

How angry I was (very) is not the point. It was compounded because I knew that when I asked  what happened the next day, I would be met with quickly-set blank stares and wide eyes. I knew that the chartreuse blotch on my pretty ballet flats (what a great way to discover the situation) was there to stay. And as I got on my knees and scrubbed, scrubbed until the sweat gathered and my bangs turned to concrete on my forehead, I knew that I was going to be stuck with a large, lime-colored firework on my carpet forever.

Behind a closed door and in between thin walls, I had a breakdown beside trapezoid tables and the school-issued bookshelf. I’d been down and out, feeling sorry for myself, and then my grandma had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. I had bided my time through Open House the night before, staying at school until 9 and missing visiting hours. I didn’t want to wait to see her any longer. She had gotten out of heart surgery, and I was in a rush after school to visit her. Angry, frustrated, and sweaty, I gave up on the stain and left.

At 6:40 the next morning, I unlocked my classroom door to find that my floors had been vacuumed, and there was a new scent in the air: synthetic lemon. The stain on the carpet was gone, obliterated, completely erased.

We have a new janitor in my building. I’ve seen her every day after school. She gets to my room between 3:30 and 4pm. We smile awkwardly when she comes to take the trash — and she always asks me how I am. She’s mended a busted leg on a desk table, takes out my recycling for me, and breaks down my empty boxes.

She erased the explosion that brought me to tears, and I haven’t even bothered to learn her name.

This week, I’m going to learn her name. I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself. I’m going to think about how my grandma is doing better. I’m going to leave work at work and hold my baby because he’s beautiful and take him on walks and laugh at his goofy crawl. I’m going to hold my husband’s hand and make dinner and help Derrick with his homework. I’m going to find something red for my grandma’s new room at my mom’s house.

I’m going to remember that people can make a huge difference by acting in the simplest of ways.

June Fitness Wrap Up; On to July

Well, my “30 Day Shred” became more of a “do 15 days of this video, and throw in some running/biking/strength training when you get bored” — which I did. It’s probably a no-duh moment, but a 20 minute video on repeat isn’t going to work miracles. But it was a good tool, and I’m glad I own it. I plan on popping it in on days (like today) when leaving the house isn’t at all appealing (it’s 116º out, ouch).

Anyway, I’d be lying if I was super excited about my results — I’m not. I don’t see any bit of difference from the original stats taken a month ago. But the measuring tools that be indicate a small change.

Weight: -2 lbs

Upper waist: -.5″

Lower waist: -.5″

Everything else: The same. Which is ok, because I’m not too worried about the numbers.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to continuing my fitness expedition. The harsh reality is that with a baby, it’s not as easy as it used to be to set a summer goal and go balls to the wall. So I’m trying (trying) to make some personal goals this month that are obtainable.

July:

Run 3 miles, 3x a week (I’m not into waking up early… and it doesn’t dip below 105º until after 9pm, so I’m still considering the “how” here.

Strength train 2x a week

Give up soda completely. (Except when I go see Harry Potter. This will be a tough goal. I’m not a huge soda drinker, but I like the caffeine rush and the bubbles when the craving strikes.)

Three goals seems really doable.

 

30 Day Shred: Week 2 Recap

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I was thinking that the first week I might have done a bit too much, just because I was so freaking sore and tired. I slowed it down a touch this week.

Wednesday, June 8th: 30 Day Shred, Level 2. I had to miss weight lifting today and it was sorely (ba-dum-chh) missed. Really. I’ve started to look forward to these. I had coffee and dinner with friends while watching So You Think You Can Dance, and then did the Shred late. It was hard — Level 2 is kicking my butt. I’d normally go on a run afterwards on a day like this, but I couldn’t because it was already after 10pm and, even in the suburbs, that’s a bit scary for a lady.

Thursday, June 9th: 30 Day Shred, Level 2. Again, late. I’m starting to feel like I’m going to bomb all seven days of my goal to get to bed before 11.

Friday, June 10th: 30 Day Shred, Level 2. Ran a mile. Did a “tri-set” of triceps exercises around the house and some extra push-ups/situps because I had to miss Swole Patrole …again… I was watching Baby and let Jordan go do it.

Saturday, June 11th: Level 2 of the Shred. Getting bored of that… Scared to try Level 3.

Sunday, June 12th: Rest

Monday, June 13th: Swole Patrole. Yay! Finally got to go. I’m not going to delineate my workout — it was mostly arms with some core.

Tuesday, June 14th: Slacker day. Should’ve done something and didn’t. No excuses — just had a rough night Monday after I got home from a fun ladies’ quilting night. I stress out over stupid things and wound up in ridiculous tears. My husband is very nice not to make fun of me at times like this.

My motivation is lacking, though. I totally could be pushing myself harder. Need to find that oomph.

At any rate, I’ll leave you with some outstanding, super-flattering photos of me breaking a sweat. The first one’s a real gem.

Note that the cause of my anguish are those way intense 5-lbers.

Look! Debatable definition.

This is how you smize in a side plank pose.

I lasted all of 45 seconds each time I tried this.

30 Day Shred: Week 1 Recap

Sooo… week one of June’s 30 Day Shred Challenge down (my initial post is over here). I met my goals of salad-eating, running twice, and strength training twice. Drinking lots of water is way hard for me! Here’s a snapshot (more for my own logging benefits than for your visual pleasure) of what went down this past week:

Wednesday, June 1st: Strength trained with Swole Patrol (that’s what my husband and his friend call their tri-weekly weightlifting sessions). Did four circuits of:

  • 5 minute jog
  • pull-downs
  • shoulder press
  • squats
  • weighted-step-up-things
  • Then our “How many sit-ups can you do in 60-seconds?” challenge twice. Topped out at 35.

Thursday, June 2nd: Jogged the loop around my neighborhood. It’s a bit of a hill and a little more than two miles (walked about 1/4 mile towards the end of the middle).

Friday, June 3rd: Strength trained with Swole Patrol. Did four circuits of:

  • incline dumbbell bench press
  • barbell rows
  • barbell shrugs
  • barbell squats
  • planks
  • 60 seconds of situps twice — topped out at 37.

This was also the day I officially joined all the other inter-ladies with the 30 Day Shred. Did Level 1; it kicked my butt.

Saturday, June 4th: Jordan and I did the Shred together. It was cute, both of us huffing and puffing alongside each other. Afterwards, I ran a mile around the neighborhood and then Jordan ran after me. I need a jogging stroller, I think. Then we could go as a family.

Sunday, June 5th: Shred and a mile run. It’s funny how during the process, I feel like I’m going to die, and then 10 minutes after, I feel just fine. This makes me irrationally angry. Or crazy for thinking that the pain should last longer. But how can I feel fine just minutes after feeling like death?

Monday, June 6th: Swole Patrol. Did each group of exercises three times:

  • Dumbbell squat
  • Pushups
  • Hip raise with feet on bench
  • Cable row to neck with external rotation (killed me)
  • Reverse crunch
  • Prone cobra (what a name)

Then did the elliptical for 20 minutes and a core circuit with Jordan and Jeff that went like this:

  • Weighted sit-ups
  • Russian Twist (another great name)
  • Wide-stance plank with leg lift
  • Modified hanging hurdle

And then we were spent. At night, when Jordan went to his first gig as a bouncer (don’t even ask…) I did the Shred on level 2. And it was not easy. Ouch.

Tuesday, June 7th: Rest. So… tired.

I think it went pretty well. My bod’s in a bit of shock, but I think that was to be expected. The one thing I have noticed is how much more alert and happy I am during the day. I feel paradoxically sore and refreshed.

My goals for this next week: 

Continue to eat a salad a day (mmm veggies)

DRINK. MOAR. WATER.

Strength train twice

Run three times

Go to bed before eleven every day (my summer night-owl is setting in)

Naptime Momtog