Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I Write.

I write to figure out what I think about things.

I write to give voice to my fears, then destroy them.

I write to make real my fantasies or wishes I know can't come true.

I write to create other worlds to share.

I write to see what shapes I can twist words into today.

I write to relax my mind.

I write to sharpen my mind.

I write to exorcise my demons.

I write to feed my spirit and nourish my soul.

I write to feel like a grown-up after a day spent with small children.

I write to feel like a child after having to be the parent all day.

I write because if I didn't, I'd probably explode.

I write because I've wanted to be a writer since I knew that was a job.

I write because I want to have something to show my children when they're grown.

I write because I want to have something to show my children while they're young.

I write to remember who I am, who I was, and who I want to be.

Why do YOU write?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Yes, I can now say I have completed a marathon. While it was hotter than I had hoped and therefore finished in a much slower time than I had expected, still I have a shiny new medal to add to my collection, along with a lot of memories.

As I often do with this blog, I am going to put the main ones down here so that I can hopefully remember as much as possible.

Top Ten(ish) T-Shirts Seen on the Course

10. This was a bad idea. (on the back of a less-than-perfectly fit, middle-aged man)

9. Where’s the finish line?

8. Running is a mental sport. We are all insane.

7. Find your happy pace.

6. Imagine how big my @ss would be if I didn’t run marathons. (worn by a rubenesque woman)

5. My Last Marathon (followed by a list of 6+ marathons)

4. Cheer up, you’re about to pass a Kenyan. (sported by a heavier-set African (American?) man)

3. Yes, I run like a girl. Try to keep up.

2. Does this shirt make my butt look fast? (I actually saw this one at the expo but I loved it!)

1. I’m going to finish this f***ing marathon. (This one became one of my mantras by the end!)

Top Ten (ish) Signs Seen on Course

10. Hurry up so we can go drink.

10. Don’t s*** yourself. (uncensored on the sign!)

9. You PAID for this?/ Where are you going?

8. Come on honey, it’s not as bad as childbirth. By the way, you have laundry to do.

7. Worst Parade Ever.

6. Only 3.6 more miles to BEER.

5. Pain is temporary. Bragging rights are forever.

4. I thought you said 2.62 miles?! (at about 2 1/2 miles in!)

4. 26.2 miles...because 26.3 would be CRAZY.

3. Someday you will not be able to do this anymore. Today is not that day.

2. Running takes balls. Other sports just play with them.

1. It’s long and hard, so do it fast. That’s what she said.

Top 5 Things I Learned Running a Marathon

5. It hurts. A lot. And You feel tired sooner than you think, at least if it's a warm day. I started feeling tired a little less than halfway through, but managed to feel a little bit better for a few more miles at least before I started wondering if body parts would fall off before the end.

4. Forget planning. I could have saved myself a lot of unnecessary worry if I had let go of any hopes of any particular time. I knew from about five days prior that it was likely to be a bit warmer than I had hoped. I knew with at least part of my mind that I should just focus on finishing as soon as they raised the alert level to yellow for the race. Even the first half of the race, I was hopeful seeing all the people still within sight with "5:15" and "5:30" on their backs. But then I kind of ran out of gas around mile 15.

3. Enjoy the run. As much as it hurt, there were a lot of cool things to see. There were several runners and speedwalkers I saw who were over 65 years young and still going strong. There were cancer survivors and fellow charity runners. There was a man running with a full-size American flag on a pole. There was Endorphin Dude, complete with bedazzled blue cape. There was a man who ran and juggled four small bean bags. My favorite, though, had to be the blind runner. He had a retinue of helpers to prevent any mishaps; a few out to the sides, and one guide next to him holding one end of a small piece of rope, the other end of which he held. I didn't even know it was possible for a blind runner to complete any kind of race, and here was one running a marathon.

2. It gets emotional. I was a bit surprised when, right around Mile 23, I started to tear up. I suddenly thought of my dad, how much I missed him and how proud he'd be that I even made it that far. I could really strongly feel his presence, so I knew he was there. I was already so tired but I was determined to finish if I could just dig deep enough to get the last ounces of energy out. I asked Dad to help me, and I believe he did. It's hard to run with tears streaming down your face and a lump in your throat.

1. Having support makes all the difference. Running 26 miles was not even on my bucket list until a few years ago when I started running. The person who first inspired me to run was my brother, who ran his first marathon over 10 years ago. He has always encouraged me, from running my first 5K in 2007 to yesterday, when he ran with me despite my painfully slow pace. He cheered me on, insisting that he would just make sure I could finish the race. He even managed to make me laugh: in the last quarter mile there is a small hill, after which you turn and see the finish line. He said, "If you run up this hill, they give you a medal." I think it was in large part due to him that I found the wherewithal to pull out a slightly faster run for the last 400 yards of the race.
I am also grateful to all of the generous donors who contributed to my fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Your kind wishes and words as well as knowing that together we raised such a significant contribution lifted my spirits when the fatigue was trying to crush me. Knowing that we helped others in the situation I lived through as a teenager made my relatively small accomplishment that much more meaningful. Thank you; your generosity means more to me than I can accurately express. Each of you had a hand in both helping me cross the finish line and bringing a cure for blood cancers that much closer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October? Really?

Wow, it's been too long. Again.

However, dear readers, I managed to come up with an inspiration to write, and I actually acted upon it before said inspiration was forgotten in a flurry of cleaning, appointments, and preschool chauffeuring.

I have always loved the piano pieces of Debussy, and I had the idea to take his Images and write a poem for each piece. This is what I came up with. If you are inspired by my idea, by all means grab one of your favorite instrumental pieces and write a poem that seems to fit it to you.

Reflets Dans L’Eau (Reflections in the Water)

Each wave and ripple a caress to my vision
I contemplate the numberless disturbances
caused by a breeze, a falling insect, a leaf.
Tiny frogs leap, causing little rain showers.
Water skimmers skating impossibly
over the surface as if it were frozen hard,
despite this being midsummer.
A sudden lull, I feel as if I could almost fall asleep
right where I stand, transfixed by this miniature drama.
Now a feather has found its way through the dwarven currents of air
and hovers ever so slightly over the water’s surface,
buffeted, then swirls down to kiss its twin underneath.
A swan eases onto its hundredth journey across the pond.
So still above the water, only its steady black feet propel its body
past lilies and foliage, under the shadowing trees,
to the waiting weeds on the opposite shore.
Peace fills me as I turn away.

Hommage a Rameau (Homage to Rameau)

I have rehearsed the words in my head for days
but none seem that they are appropriate
or in the right order as I pace from wall to wall
in my room.
I pause before the mirror and survey the lines crossing my face.
This examination does not assist me in my task,
so I resume pacing.
Suddenly inspiration seizes my tired mind,
and I fly to my desk to pin the words down on paper.
As fast as inspiration strikes, it slips away.
Pacing resumes again.
I begin to walk backwards, if only to hopefully jog my mind
into betraying the hidden ideas
I have been trying to coax out into the open.
I walk faster and with more purpose until I find something worthy
or until I crash into a piece of furniture.
Either way I will have changed the dreary status quo.
Such a gorgeous collection of qualities are rare in anyone,
small wonder summing up the effect of such an one
is racking my brain to its capacity.
Still, I will do my best to do him justice, it is what he deserves.

Mouvement (Movement)

I awake to the unmistakable
tapping on my window
of tiny crystalline structures.
The first snow of the winter.
In a flurry of activity, clothing wrenched on,
a mad tumble of boots, snowpants and jacket,
don’t-forget-your-hat-and-mittens, then
tumbling out the door to find my friend.
She is already here, laughing,
making snow angels in the yard.
I flop down next to her.
It is still snowing, and the tiny flakes
alternate between tickling and stinging my nose.
We stick out our tongues to see
how many we can catch,
before jumping up on a search for icicles.
We find a roof full of them and break the two biggest off
for tasteless popsicles.
A faint shriek reminds us of a nearly-forgotten activity:
We grab our toboggans and sprint as best we can
in heavy boots sized a bit too big.
The interminable climb is punctuated by
a leap, then tearing nearly straight down,
ending in a fluffy crash in a snowbank at the bottom.
More giggles and ten trips later,
we head back to the front yard, where enough
snow has fallen to warrant our next creation.
Careful rolling and shaping,
adding to a judicious choice of accessories,
and the snowman is complete,
just in time to bid us goodnight as we drag back
into the house for a well-earned nap.

Cloches a Travers les Feuilles (Bells through the leaves)

Thoughts whirl around my mind
as leaves in a cyclone.
I have to keep moving, or if I should stop I may
topple over from the centrifugal force.
Now I pick up the pace,
hoping the increased blood flow will
silence the nagging voices.
Once I get going, a sense of equilibrium returns.
Still doubts hound me, nipping at my heels,
but I know that if I just keep moving forward
they will tire and fall away.
The wind is delicious despite its playful pushing
at my face as I try to imitate the others
gliding along ahead of me.
I’ll never catch them, but I don’t care.
I just focus on the joy that is
keeping going on,
watching the sky grow lighter,
greeting the grasshoppers,
butterflies, birds, squirrels and chipmunks
as they curiously survey my progress.
When my legs try to convince me to slow,
I do my best to ignore the sensation,
until I reach my goal.

Et la Lune Descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends over the ruins of the temple)

The moon is already setting,
giving up her perch among the stars,
even as I wish she were still comfortable
high in the firmament.
I have stayed up too late again,
fiddling with inconsequential things,
losing track of time while doing chores,
but mostly just wasting time.
I shake off my sense of annoyance and
will my mind to relax, to prepare for sleep.
Nobody likes to lie in bed and find their brain
will not shut off to rest.
Slowly I settle into my nighttime routine,
breathing deeply, thinking
of all I have to be thankful for--
my health, my family, good friends,
the successes of the day,
and what I have to look forward to tomorrow.
I have tried my best, and that will simply
have to do for today.
As I lay down my head,
I smile.

Poissons d’Or (Fish of Gold)

Every day is a new adventure.
I leap out of bed, asking,
“What are we going to do today?”
Whatever the plans, my response always,
“Oh, that will be fun!”

Always hungry, I devour
breakfast as soon as it appears before me.
I enjoy bringing my milk and my brother’s
to the table. I’m careful not to spill.
I even put my milk back in the fridge
when I’m all done.

Maybe we’ll go to the park today.
If we do, I'll be sure to say hello
to the mailman in his truck, and ask
for the hundredth time if he’s delivering
the mail to people.

Then I’ll climb to the top of the treehouse
and yell down “Hello down there!”
and “I’m up higher!”
When I come down, I’ll ask
to be pushed in the swing like my little brother.

After lunch, we’ll go to school.
I can hardly be bothered to hang up my bag
before I say “Bye!” and find my friends.
While I don’t like to leave,
I’m always happy to see Mommy again.