Monday, May 14, 2012

Uphill Battles

It doesn’t matter where I run from my house, I have to finish my run with a long hill.  This is good for me, of course.  In the spirit of “getting in shape” and “training for a 10K” (both of which I am, ostensibly, doing), having to push myself up a big hill after I’ve already been running for 30 minutes (I just started training for the 10K – later, this hill will come after 50 minutes of running) is good for me.  Good for my muscles and endurance and mental toughness.


It’s also bullshit and I hate it. 


Well, I don’t hate it before the run.  And I guess I always feel pretty good after I do the stupid hill, but while I’m running it?  Yeah, I hate the damned thing.


I still do it, though.  I leave my house on a regular basis just so I can hurl my body up that hill half an hour later. 


I have lots of running friends, runners even, who push themselves to run half marathons, marathons, and ultra-marathons (Uber-marathons? Ultimate marathons?).  I know people who do triathlons and ironman triathlons.  I have a lot of respect for these people, and a part of me hopes to feel capable of running that far someday (currently, a larger part of me screams hell no).  Most of them listen to music or books on their long runs, but I have this paranoia, one of many: I’m afraid that, in becoming engrossed in my music or a book or whatever, I will not hear a car about to hit me, or a dog coming to attack my dog, or an explosion behind me that would otherwise cause me to take cover. 


So I don’t listen to music.  Instead, I have long conversations with myself.  I compose blog posts that don’t get written.  Or they do, but in my head they sound a lot better.  I also daydream myself into crazy confrontational situations where I have to stand up for someone’s rights and I make amazing, impassioned speeches in a public forum that have people reeling from impact.  In my head, I am that cool.


Or, I obsess about ways in which life could go wrong.  Lately, it’s skin cancer that has me all riled up.  I apply sunscreen three times a day.  I don’t even wear moisturizer on my face, I go directly to SPF 50 and slather it on my whole body first thing in the morning.  My kids are constantly coated.  I know two women who, in their TWENTIES, developed skin cancer.  That’s scary.  And I’m totally at risk.  But I probably shouldn’t fixate on it the way I do. 


I don’t carry anything with me when I run (save the dog leash because, yeah, I make the dog go with me), so I sometimes think about how, if I twisted and ankle or had a heart attack running up the freaking mountain to get home, I would have to rely on the kindness of strangers to transport me to the hospital.  Though it’s unlikely that I would be offered a ride in a stranger’s car due to the presence of my big, mean dog.  I’d probably end up doing just like I do with that God-forsaken hill and gutting it out until I got home.


The really great part of this is, when I get home, safe and sound, no heart attacks, no knees blown out, no gunfights, having saved the world in my head (today I gave a great speech to nobody about why our children will be puzzled that there ever was a national fight over marriage equality and will wonder why some people see “gay rights” as anything separate from “human rights”), I get to reward myself with a glass of wine and some chocolate (after stretching).  Which I probably would have consumed anyhow, but this way I feel as though I earned it.  After all, I made it up that hill.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Of Sleep and Three

We all our have our parental battles to face, and I don’t for a minute think that mine are any worse than anyone else’s.  In fact, I know they’re, in many ways, so much easier.  My kids are healthy and “normal” (i.e., no health issues, no mental health issues, etc) and they are developing at the usual rate.  They are big and happy and bring joy into the lives of us and their grandparents.  I love them both x infinity.


My three-year-old is a little jerk sometimes, but I think it’s only because he is three.  I mean, God, that boy is annoying.  I kid you not, I can’t get anything done around the house, I can’t even walk into the house from the car because of some way that Charles wants to help or wants me to do it differently.  For example, “No! No! No! No!  Mommy, Iiiiii wanted to open to door!”  (throws himself on the ground, kicks, screams, flails about).  Listen, kiddo, if I waited for you to open the door every time I needed to get someplace, I would never get anywhere.  Also, this: “Charles, put your shoes on.”  A few moments pass.  “CHARLES.  Put your shoes on.”  Another few moments pass.  “CHARLES.  What did I ask you to do?”  “Umm, go potty?”  Geez.


Anyhow, that’s nothing new.  Anyone who’s ever had a three-year-old in the history of ever knows what it’s like.  It takes forever to do things and your patience runs out midmorning if you’re lucky enough to make it that long and you are always walking the line between being a parent with fun activities and teachable moments and cuddling, and sending everyone to their rooms for ever and ever amen.


No, the burden that Tony and I have to bear as parents is one of children who don’t sleep.  Neither of them.  They fight going to bed and then they wake up all night long.  Then they get up early.  Way early.  So early I’m not even sure if sensible people can call it “day” yet. 


I wonder, these days, what I’d look like without these black circles under my eyes.  I wonder what it feels like to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I wonder how much more I can take.


Lack of sleep ruins everything.  It will ruin your love life.  It will ruin your work life.  It will cause you to gaze lovingly at your bed on a sunny day when any person in his or her right mind is outside enjoying the advent of spring.


And it sure as hell makes it tougher to deal with a three-year-old. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Trip stress, stress trippin’

People keep asking me, “are you getting so excited?  It’s coming up so soon!”




I’m in full freakout mode because, yes, it is coming soon.  Less-than-two-weeks soon.


On the 21st, I will take my life in my hands and fly half way around the world with my husband and two children.  I’ll give you a moment while that sinks in: half way around the world; two children.


We’re heading to France, to Nantes, the city in which I was a student and in which I taught conversational English to delinquent high school students (okay, okay, they weren’t actual delinquents, but they were sometimes quite bratty.  It’s all right, though – I taught them all the American swear words I could think of and they decided I wasn’t a complete waste of their time).  I lived with a family as a student there and they became like a second family to me.  When I was placed in Nantes to teach, imagine my surprise to be living in the school dorms a ten-minute walk from my old host family!  They came to my wedding, now we are going to their daughter’s.  Other than Sarah, she’s the closest thing to a sister I’ve got, and I dearly love her.


Here is Nantes:




To get there, we must take two planes and a train.  Let’s talk about the asinine way that “rewards” travel works for a minute.


Now, I knew that this wedding was going to happen sometime.  Solene started dating Chris in 2005 or 2006 (Leland was in Europe at the time, which is how I know this).  I think we’ve been saving air miles from our Alaska Air credit card since about 2007 in anticipation of this trip.  Fact: there are direct flights from Seattle to Paris on several carriers.  Fact: these carriers are said to be “partners” with Alaska Air for rewards miles.  Fact: a person cannot fly direct from Seattle to Paris with rewards miles. 


It seems the Delta has the lock on all rewards partnerships flying direct from Seattle to Paris.  In order to avoid a long flight with a stop in New York (or other points east), we have to fly out of San Francisco.  Even less conveniently, we had a choice between staying overnight in Paris before our flight back to the States or staying overnight in San Francisco because the train/flight combinations would not work outside of those two options.  We chose an overnight in San Francisco.


So, yeah, several hours in airports and on planes and then a couple hours in the train station in France and then three more hours on a train to get to our destination.  I’m a little bit stressed.


There’s only so much I can do, outside of packing very, very well, to prepare for this trip.  There are two movies loaded on the ipod (Toy Story 3 and Lion King) as well as hours of kids’ songs.  I have snacks and bribe candy.  The Seattle airport has a kid zone, kind of an indoor playground.  We’re flying at night (sort of), so I’m hoping we’ll all catch a few zzz in the air.  I even bought disposable diapers.


Clearly, we really want to go on this trip.  Oh, sure, we could have planned to leave the kids with Grandmas and Grandpas, but I think that might have been more than they (the grandparents and the kids both) could handle, and Jamie is still nursing.  He’s not ready to wean, and I’m not ready for him to wean, so that seals that deal.  And Charles, well, I just love him.  Let’s just say that I might be overestimating how much my French family wants to meet my kids, but I’m using that as the main excuse to keep from missing them for ten days.


Do any of you have any advice for me?  Other than imbibing in copious quantities of alcohol as soon as we make it through this mess?  I’m confident that, my atrophied French language skills notwithstanding, the stay in Nantes will be a blast.  I figure that if I keep my expectations really, really low about the trip there, not only can it not be worse than my imagination, but also I’m just begging to be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Would You Change?

Do you remember, a year ago or so, when I said I had started using the Oil Cleansing Method as a part of my nightly skin routine?  Well, I did, and I still do. 


I probably don’t do it exactly right.  Because we have kids and I don’t want them to inadvertently scald themselves at the faucet, we have our water heater set to 120 degrees, so I can never seem to get a really hot washcloth to steam out my pores every night.  Oh, sure, I could walk down to the microwave, and I used to do that, but bottom line? I’m lazy, and once I take my contacts out, the stairs become treacherous.  What?  You think I should put my glasses on my oily face?  Come on, that’d be worse than goopy baby fingerprints.


Speaking of, do you know what NEVER washes out of a white shirt?  Banana.


So, anyway, my skin when I’m pregnant is glorious, which is great, because we all know my ass reaches whale-like proportions.  I guess every woman gets at least one break during pregnancy.  Maybe your thighs stayed nice and firm, but your nose widened or now you pee when you sneeze.  I got huge, but I also got nice skin for nine plus months (the postpartum hormones kept things pretty clear, too).  It’s a trade off, is what I’m saying.


Welp, it’s all over now.  I have once again become the textbook example of “adult female acne.”  No really, it’s a thing.  And I have it and I hate it.


I was talking with Tony a while back and I said, “You know how you play that game all through adolescence and then early adulthood of ‘what would I change about my body’?”  And he didn’t know.  About the game, I mean.  Okay, it’s not really a game, it’s a way for teenage and twenty-something girls to feel badly about themselves in a group and point out all of their glaring, obvious flaws to their supposed friends in a twisted show of who-has-it-worse one-upmanship (why do we do this?).  I guess boys don’t play this game.  Good for them.


I told Tony that I had finally figured out what I would change.  All the times I thought about this before, I think I always said my legs.  But the truth is, these legs carry me everywhere.  And yeah, I have big ankles, large feet, big thighs and wide hips, but it all works.  My legs are strong.  Tony likes my legs.  I am a mom, and my legs allow me to chase after these kids.  They bruise easily, but that’s okay.


Really, I’ve come to the point where I feel that way about any and every part of my body.  This body has borne my children and has fed my children.  This body has served me well and continues to do so.  It is rarely ill.  It doesn’t break easily.  I like it, it’s mine.  Besides, who’s to say that changing something about myself, something so significant as my hips or legs or feet or whatever wouldn’t have changed the whole course of my life?  I like my life, I love my husband, kids, and dog, and I wouldn’t trade them for the sexiest legs of all time.


I finally figured it out, though.  My answer in that game.  I would change my skin.  I would get rid of the acne.  It causes me stress.  It causes me grief.  It embarrasses me.  I’m almost thirty-one (thirty-FUN!) years old and I have the skin of a teenager.  I’d love for it all to just go away.


The oil cleansing method works fine, and honestly, I think my skin is in better condition than ever before.  I rarely, if ever, get blackheads anymore – cleaning with oil takes care of those little suckers completely.  I don’t overproduce my own oil, so I’m not as shiny as before.  And who knows?  Without the oil cleansing, things might be worse (in addition to having all those blackheads).  I know that my skin felt awful when I used all sorts of harsh “acne control” chemicals on it before. 


So I’ll keep on keepin’ on.  I probably won’t seek out professional help for my acne due to money and time and an unwillingness to undergo longterm treatment for it, but I will keep hoping it disappears.