Sunday, December 14, 2014

Me? A runner?

When I was in 6th grade, my mother made fun of the way I run. She pranced around with her hands up by her shoulders and said that I "run like a girl". For a half an hour that day, she taught me how to run hard by punching my fists out in front of me and keeping my posture straight. This was supposed to help me be a better softball player.  Instead, it taught me to hate running.... and to hit home runs. :) 

Since then, running has been something I wished I could do. I tried. Many times. And usually failed or gave up. In college, my friend and I would run at night on the track. I made it to almost 2 1/2 miles!  Might as well have been a marathon.

So, it has been with great pride that over the past 6 months, I have been running. Well, more like walking/jogging, a few nights a week for exercise. Some days are better than others. I've increased my distance, bettered my time and bought a lot of running gear. But, there are many times that I see another 'runner' and realize a runner I am not. There are many things that real runners are good at.  These are just a few of those things that I will never conquer:

1. The beautiful, runner's glide. In one smooth motion a runner can make a 20 mile course look like a short walk around the parking lot. I, on the other hand, look like a crazed bull, running through the streets of Barcelona. 
2. The ponytail bounce. You know it. The perfect sway back and forth, back and forth. My hair.... usually stuck to my face or drenched in sweat.
3. Breathing. Who in gods name can breathe while running and make their stomach rise and fall. It's impossible. I am a mouth breather. 
4. Electronics. I have an armband but trying to 1) change the song and 2) keep it from sliding down my sweaty arm without having it cut into my skin is pretty much impossible. 
5. The side stitch. Why in god's name does this exist?! And why does it not go away?!?  
6. Sweat. Hot. Cold. You name it, I've got it. In spades.
7. The group run. See #'s 3 and 6.
8. Encountering others on the road.  What are you supposed to do when you see another runner? Smile? Wave? I have not quite figured out the etiquette. 
9. Shoelaces. Seriously. Just stay tied.
10. Drinking while running. Impossible. Splashing, choking, coughing, up the nose. Anything except quenching my aforementioned dry mouth.
11. Boob bounce. No bra in existence can keep these in check.
12. Hills. Again, why in god's name do these exist? And why do I keep running the same route with them?
13. Running in general. I may never be a 'runner', but I am proud that I am getting outside and trying. :) 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Video Game

It started this summer. I thought it was innocent enough. It's just a download. Big deal. What I didn't realize at the time was how quickly it would take over our lives. 

My husband plays a Lord of the Rings game online that is a lot like Farmville. He is in an 'alliance'. Has friends. 'Battles'. He plays it constantly. I know you probably think constantly is an exaggeration. But, it's really not. When we take our dogs out to go to the bathroom. Playing. On an escalator in the mall. Playing. In the bathroom. Playing. Constant. It has taken over. 

It makes him laugh. Frustrates him. Keeps his attention. Makes him happy. He is drawn to it. Obsessed with it. When we're eating. In the car. In bed. 

So, it begs the question. Is this cheating? Is my husband cheating on me with a video game? He spends more time paying attention to the game than me. He has conversations with the other people in his alliance when he could be having conversations with me. He plays it when he's on the phone with me. Not paying attention to what I'm saying, but rather, strategizing his next move. He is never without it. Never.   

I'm tired of it. I've made comments like "wow you're really obsessed with that game." He gets defensive and asks if I really want him to stop playing. YES I scream on the inside. no. I sheepishly say in reality.  Hoping secretly that he will eventually get tired of it and move on to something else. Me? Another game? Reality?  

Is this just a symptom of our society now? Instead of dealing with reality, we escape to imaginary worlds. Boredom is cured by constantly having a device in our hands. Making 'friends' means chatting with people you've never met. We never have to be alone. Or have uncomfortable silence. Or face tough challenges head on. We can just escape. But, if that is true. If that is what is really going on, why is he escaping from me? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

That time we packed my mother-in-laws stuff

It's 3:00 pm and we've been working all day. Hot, sweaty, tired, no, exhausted and ready to give up, I tell myself we're halfway through. We started on Saturday. Packing my mother-in-laws belongings is not something I ever imagined. I never thought about what it would be like to go through someone else's things. Not just go through them, but make decisions about them. And now, we're in it. It started at the storage bin she rented. Years of knitting supplies, Christmas decorations, rugs, curtains, pictures, things she considered treasures. Things we considered junk. We packed it all into a Uhaul truck so that we could bring it to the pod we were loading. The pod that will eventually be delivered to Charlotte. Her new home. Our home. 

Saturday went by fast. Boxing up. Throwing out. Piling up the junk at high as we could. "Why are we saving this?" we often asked out loud. "She is not going to have enough space."  The tension was palpable. Anger. Frustration. Uncertainty. Sadness. Hatred. These emotions and so many more swirled around the mess we were creating. At 5:00, my sister-in-law cracked. She threw a tantrum because my father didn't unplug the cable TV the way she wanted to. Slamming things around. Yelling. Stomping. Swearing. She had cracked. 

On Sunday, the tension increased. We found odd things. Food in the bedroom drawers. A bag of hair from a dead cat. Old used soaps, dried up in the dining room cabinet. Paper. So much paper. 

While I worked on emptying the bedroom closet, an avalanche of puzzles falls on my head. It's 3:00 and at that moment, I want to give up. My sister-in-law runs into the room and yells "I'm sorry but you are going to have a mother fucking bitch that you are going to have to take care of." Then, runs out.

Left stunned I continue working and shrug it off. In this situation, I can't yell back. I can't get angry or throw a temper tantrum or scream. I keep working and working. My hands hurt. My throat hurts. My muscles are weak and my eyes dry. The piles of treasures seem to get larger as we go and to see it all inside the pod makes me question my own treasures at home. Why do we keep so many things? Why do they matter? What really matters? In silence, I ponder philosophical wonders of life. Why do we exist? What is the point? 

By Monday, we've had enough of each other and aren't even talking. We've gotten into a rhythm of carrying, taping, tossing, shifting. On Monday night, I'm left alone with my sister-in-law. The anger she feels has been building over the past 72 hours and she starts to take it out on me. Yelling at me. Screaming in my face. "Stand up for yourself!" my head screams at me. I try to hold back, but yell back "YOU NEED TO STOP YELLING AT ME!" I can't take it anymore. Why is she so angry? Why is she full of hate? I leave the house in a hurry. Sad and alone. Exhausted.

Tuesday is the final day. It's raining. We feel beaten. Defeated. The massive amount of items in her home has found their way into the pod, waiting to be introduced to their new home in a couple of weeks. We thank each other. Hug. Smile. Cry. We don't apologize. We don't explain or try to make it better. In mere moments we're gone. On our way home. Bruised. Scarred. Tired. And, onto this new time in our lives. Taking care of my mother-in-law. Every moment since has been about her. Her medicine. Her stuff. Her health. Her happiness. Unhappiness. And all I can think is how are we going to do this? How are we going to make it through? Be her caregivers? How are we going to figure this all out? We will though. We will make it through. Figure it out. We will because in the end, we love her. Not her stuff. Not her treasures. But her. She needs us and no amount of tension, anger or difficulty will stand in the way of making sure she is cared for. That is the point. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

What does the future hold?

Who's going to take care of me? This question has been weighing on my mind lately. Who is going to help me care for myself when I'm old? Who will make sure I'm safe? Healthy? Happy?  My mother-in-law is 77 years old. She broke her hip in May and has had a long road of complications since. Her hip is healing, but her body cannot handle the medications that they have prescribed to manage her pain. She is retaining water. So much so that she was admitted to the hospital again this week to drain the fluid sitting in her body. She has advanced liver disease. Advanced. She is close to cirrhosis of the liver and her doctor tells us that in 6 months to a year she will need long-term care. She is depressed. Not wanting to take care of herself. Unhappy with the people who love her and want to help her. Sad that she is unable to do the things that make her feel normal. Angry that this happened. 

We live in Charlotte. She is in New Hampshire where her 79 year old sister lives too. Her daughter lives in Pennsylvania. That's it. That is all the family she has. We are going around and around trying to determine what is best for her. Moving her here? Assisted living? Nursing home? Staying in NH in her apartment? What is the right decision? It is all-consuming. We talk about this all the time. Talk to her. Her daughter. My mom.  Call for quotes to move her here. For apartments. Nursing homes. What doctors will she go to? Can she even make the trip down? 

And, hidden in the background is this giant question gnawing at us. Who will take care of us when we are old? My husband I don't have kids. We've always said we don't want kids. But now, my thoughts are upside down. Who will love us? Make us happy? Give us something to live for? Now. Later. Is that why people have kids? So they aren't alone? Seems like the wrong reason. But, I'm wondering if that is everyone's reason.

It's weighing on us. Secretly we think about it all the time. Tonight is the first time we admitted it to each other. Our fears and worries about the future. What is my sister doesn't have kids? Who will take care of her? His sister doesn't have anyone. Not married. No children. No one. Will we be the ones to care for her? So many questions without answers. 

I'm feeling this all the time. Feeling the weight of these questions. The sadness I have for my mother-in-law and the impossible decisions we all have to make for her. The stress my husband feels every time he talks to her or his sister. The uncertainty of what the future holds. All the while knowing that the biggest decision will be the most difficult one of our lives. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kids These Days

I read an interesting article in Fast Company this week entitled Facebook Everywhere. The article included an insert about teens and Facebook called These Kids Today. Basically, what they discovered is that Facebook is not cool. And what is cool? Texting and chatting. 

In 1995, my parents bought us our first computer for Christmas. When we saw the giant boxes wrapped in roll after roll of colorful paper, we knew it could only be that. We squealed with delight and spent hours setting it up. We even bought a special desk for the beast. We installed the free AOL software CD that come with the computer, not really knowing what to expect, and our lives were changed. First, we all had to pick a screen name. This was tricky. It was the first time we had to choose a name other than our birth name. Something that represented ourselves in a different way, a more creative way. My sister, the artist, picked GoreyLori. How could I compete with that? I went with Aimkid2000. Sounds like a robot from the future, right? Still not sure what I was thinking. 

As Aimkid2000, I explored a new world. Web pages, chat rooms, eventually instant message, even email was a new concept. Shortened code words like SWF and emoticons galore emerged. New rules emerged about what what safe "online" taught us to trust no one.  It was a fantastic adventure through dirty conversations, new "friends" and a new way to waste time. 

I didn't start texting until much later. All I knew was it was expensive and a waste of time. Quickly, though, I could turn numbers into words without even looking. "On my way" and "I'm driving" became standard communications to my friends. It was fun to talk in a new way. To try to code words as fast as possible, beating your last "score". "Send me a text" was our new way to saying don't call me, I'll call you. 

When I read the Fast Company article this week, a flood of these fun memories came rushing back. It's often hard to remember a time before 1995 when I wasn't so connected to others. But then I remembered, we were connected. We wrote notes to each other in class. Called our friends at night and talked for hours. We went to the mall together just for fun. Had sleepovers, day trips, vacations. Disconnected from our daily routines. Talked. 

What intrigues me about the responses from today's teenagers is that they are in a way going back in time. Texting and chatting are what they like to do. Isn't that what we all discovered 20 years ago? And loved. They want to connect with each other and spend more time in "reality". Interesting concept.

Maybe we can learn something from these crazy kids. Can we spend more time in reality? Take a break from this this new world?  I know it's scary, but I think we can try. It can be a short break. A day. A week. An hour. Disconnect from this new world and reconnect with reality. Be a kid again. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Insomnia

11:49: What time is it? Ugh. 11:49. I've only been asleep for 2 hours. I guess I'll get up and pee. 

1:27: My stomach hurts. We can't eat those ribs again. The zucchini fries were good though. I need to remind Ryan to buy chicken tomorrow. What meetings do I have tomorrow? Summit? Oh no that's Wednesday. Tomorrow should be good. I'll be able to get a lot done. I should shave my legs. Shave. Shave-a. Shave-a-da-leg-a. Ok, I need to sleep. Ugh. Pickles is not giving me any room. Move. Move.  

2:16: Work stuff. Work stuff. Work stuff. My stomach still hurts. Definitely can't have those ribs again. Gross. I need to get my eyebrows waxed. Work stuff. Work stuff. Ribs. Pickles really needs to move. Ok, Amy. Try to think of something else. I'm on a beach. The waves are gently crashing. Woosh. Woosh. Ugh. This isn't working. Deep breathing. Hum. Sah. Hum. Sah. Huuummmm. Saaaahhhh. One. Two. Three. Four. 

2:40: Dammit. Maybe I should take a Benadryl. I need to call Ryan's mom. Is he awake? Huh. Should I ask? I don't want to wake him up. Hun? Nope. Not up. Pickles seriously. Can you get your feet out of my neck. I wonder if we'll get rain tomorrow. Maybe we can go swimming. I should start that book. Oh right I need to think of a place to meet for the book club. Work stuff. Work stuff. 

2:59: Seriously! Why am I up?!?! I'm tired. Go to sleep. GO TO SLEEP. Forget it. I'm taking half a Benadryl. ......  Ok. Kick in. Deep breathing. Hum. Sah. I should try a meditation class again. I wonder what she does to fall asleep. Hum. Sah. Sleep Amy. Sleep. Sleep. Just turn it off. Come on Benadryl. Sleeeepp. 

6:15: Alarm goes off. Dammit I just fell asleep. 

6:30: Second alarm goes off. Just a few more minutes. Maybe I could sleep until 7. If I don't iron I'll still be there on time. 

7:15: Oh crap. I'm awake. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Saying the V word again

I talked about vulvodynia this week. I know this doesn't seem like a major moment to share. But, I haven't talked about it in a long time. Well over a year at least. And, the difference this time was that I wasn't talking about what vulvodynia is, but rather, how it makes women feel. 

The conversation started with a new acquaintance telling me about a business she started which provides programming to women suffering from infertility. She talked about the loneliness women feel and how important it is for them to hear from other women going through the same thing. She described the language of infertility and how those words have no meaning to others who have not experienced it firsthand. 

In a strange way, I felt like she was talking about vulvodynia. The loneliness. The secret language. The shame. Guilt. Despair. All of the things that I have felt over the years. I shared that I had a "female condition that is rare", hesitating to use the word. I talked about the support group I started when I was up north. I told her about the hope I felt when I talked to women in person and anonymously through phone and email who were desperate to connect with someone who understood their pain. Their loneliness. I shared how rewarding it felt at times to share my story with them. To let them know that I was going through it to. 

Then, I told her that I made the decision to stop talking about it. I just stopped. Talking to other women. Being their support person. Sharing my story. Creating a network. And. She understood. She could relate to the exhaustion that comes with rehashing your past, your pain, over and over again. How even when it feels good to help someone else, you long for someone to help you feel the same way. But, in that moment with her, meeting her for the first time, I was compelled to tell her that I have experienced the same thing. It felt freeing. She got it. I didn't have to give her the details. Just the feelings. It was actually nice to talk about vulvodynia. 

I'm not ready to share it all again. To share my history, my present or my future. But what I felt in that moment is a connection. We didn't have the same medical problem. We had the same emotions. The same spirit. A need to connect with others to lift them up. Be a caring friend when no one else understands. And, really, isn't that what we all need? Someone to share how it feels. To have pain. To feel lonely. To want a change. Who can't relate to that?

So, I'm still not talking about vulvodynia. But, I am talking about how it feels.