Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Just a minute or two

I remember when I started running, a friend told me if I could make it to my two mile goal, three miles wasn't going to be far behind. I thought he was crazy. Seriously, athletically crazy.
For a year, I've huffed and puffed my way--red of face and short of breath--around the two mile loop in the neighborhood behind our house. It had taken me five weeks to stretch my run from a quarter of a mile to two miles. It took me a year after that, a year of running about three days a week, to consider myself a runner.
But I wasn't seeing the results I wanted. My clothes still fit the same, and I was hovering at the same weight. Then that comment from Tony began to niggle away at me and a conversation with Ilona cemented the idea: I needed to run further.
So today, as I set out on my loop, I made the choice. I was going to stretch myself--not just up and down the next block, but much further. I was going to shoot for thirty minutes of running instead of about twenty.
When I got back to the house, the place where I usually begin a cool-down walk, I kept running. I turned around and took off down Ridgeway toward the condo subdivision at the end of the road. I ran for 5 minutes, which took me just to the beginning of the subdivision, then turned around and came back. 30 minutes really wasn't much harder than 20. Maybe Tony isn't as crazy as I thought.
I was breathing hard, sure, but not dead. And when I got into the house, I opened my computer and mapped out my route on and guess what? 3.3 miles in 30 minutes. Woo-hoo! I'm pumped. And pretty sore. But very proud of myself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The House Admits

When the man began to pry off pieces of its skull, exposing its brain to the fierce fingers of the wind, the house began to reconsider its choices. Perhaps it had been hasty with the water torture. Perhaps it should not have caused two floods in one day. The house wanted time to think, but thinking is difficult when one's brain is being tugged into the darkening sky.

The man wasn't completely responsible for the lost brains; the house had enough wits to admit that. It was the blasted weather, conspiring against both of them. As the man struggled for purchase on the top of its head, banging and prying and maybe swearing softly when he pounded his thumb between hammer and nail, the house collected its thoughts.

There was the black thing, firmly attached now. The black thing that had looked at the house with such cold disdain. The black thing that was connected to the house's heart and had belched its fiery breath into that heart. The black thing that the man and his family had stood around, smiling and holding chilled hands out to it. What if the black thing was not as treacherous as it had once seemed?

What if the man were not as evil as the house had once thought him to be? The house recalled (wispily) the thorny bushes the man had removed from its breast. The grass and trees the man had pruned and tended. The new exterior the man had laid. The stonework and the addition and the porches and the patio and the paint and the trimwork. What if the man was not seeking to hurt the house, but to help it?

As the house watched, a gust of wind caught the man and he wheeled his arms to find balance. He began to slide off the house. His shoes were old and slippery and his fingers scrabbled for purchase, but the man kept sliding. The house heard him grunt. The house felt the dread in his heart.

And the house moved. It had never moved before, but it moved for this man. It put a chimney in his path and the man grabbed it, his rough fingers like silk on the raw red brick. The house felt the man sigh and it knew then that the battle was over.

The house shivered and let the wind do what it would; the man would protect it from harm and likely make it better when he was done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Something strange is happening

And I don't quite know what to make of it. Last week, around this time, I would have been reading a book. This week, same time, I'm on the computer. And I was last night and the night before that and the night before that. Doing what? Blogging (a good thing). Checking my email and facebook every few seconds (not so good, in my opinion).
What is happening to me? Why am I suddenly more likely to open my laptop than open my book? Right now, Clint and I are sitting next to each other on the couch. He's catching up on Chuck (with headphones in) and I've just gotten done looking at beautiful fabrics I want to buy. Look at this from Anna Maria Horner or these really cool peacocks from Dena Designs.
Sewing is cool, and I feel good about myself when I create something, I feel like the internet has sucked me into its vortex lately, and I want to get out.
So I'm going to log off and go to bed and read until Clint finishes his show. G'night.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why I admire Jesus, Gandhi, and many Catholics

Well, I admire Jesus especially for many other reasons, but the food. That's what gets me. How do they go without it? According to my extensive google research (accomplished in .21 seconds) most Catholics nowadays only fast on holy days like Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. But Gandhi, he fasted 17 times! And once he fasted for three weeks. And Jesus, 40 days. Seriously. 40 days without food is a very long time.
I found out a few weeks ago that I can last for about 60 hours. That's my limit. Why, you ask? Why did I ever test my limit? Well, I am victim to sudden whims of torture, and I thought this diet called THE MASTER CLEANSE sounded like a fun way to spend the last three days of spring break. Now I'm not sadistic enough to attempt a purging diet (read: lots of trips to the loo) while teaching, but I figured, 3 days--I could do that. And I would end right before I went back to school. Perfect. I was hoping to maybe drop some of the flab around my belt that JARED IS TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR and maybe see a miraculous transformation in the spotty condition of my face. I want clear skin; is that so vain?
I won't nauseate you with the details, but this is what it was: steady diet of water liberally dosed with a cleansing potion of lemon juice, grade B maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Oh, I almost forgot: I also drank an organic laxative tea at night and downed a 32 oz glass of warm salt water in the morning. Do you know what that much salt water does to your digestive system? You should try it some time. It's...interesting.
So, 2 1/2 days into my proposed 3 day fast, I was DYING. I made the mistake of taking Lauren shopping (and meeting up with the friend who had talked me into the whole thing--and who was doing the diet as well--we were hoping to morally support each other). And I had to go to the ladies' room 6 times in one hour. My stomach hurt and I felt dizzy. I was ready to be done.
And just like that, I was. We took the girls to Panera for lunch, and while Anne sipped away at her laxative tea, I resolutely bought a whole grain bagel and low fat strawberry smoothie. And guess what? My body, my mind, my whole spirit sighed.
And this is what I realized: fasting is all well and good for those who can stomach it, but I am a girl who needs food. I can't live without it. As I'm sitting here, I'm glancing at my bowl scraped clean of chocolate cake, sipping at a glass of red wine, and feeling desperately happy that I will never again have a glass of water with lemon, syrup, and pepper in my hand again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There is always a first time

If you had walked into my bathroom this evening after dinner, you would have found me sitting on the toilet holding Jonah on my lap. A tear dripped from his right eye, down his cheek, followed a few seconds later by another tear. If you stayed in the bathroom, you probably be relieved to know, upon closer inspection, that the lid of the toilet was closed. You would probably sigh and think, I'm glad to know Kir is not. That. Weird. And I am not.

If you had stayed in the bathroom for five more minutes, you would have seen me rubbing Jonah's back in long strokes and kissing him on his still-smooth jaw. You would have heard me whispering to him, but you probably wouldn't have been able to hear me. That's okay: you'll understand soon.

If you had walked into the dining room maybe five minutes earlier, you would have seen me sitting at the table with Clint and Jared and Lauren. Lauren was very quiet with her head down and wisps of hair covering her face. You would have seen Jonah disappearing into the kitchen with his plate and glass. You would heard me say: "Clint, do you think I should go talk to him, tell him it's not a big deal?" You would have seen him nod emphatically. You would have seen me scurry after Jonah.

If you had walked into the dining room ten minutes before that, you would have seen Clint ask Jonah about chewing gum in school. You would have seen Jonah's cheeks stain with red. You would have seen him drop his head. You would have seen Clint tell me quietly that Jonah got a detention today at school for chewing gum again. You would have heard silence in the room. You would have seen Jared playing with his pasta as he tried to pronounce "detention" over and over again. You would have felt the awkwardness of the silence, the way it draped around the table like the coils of a snake on a circus performer's neck, heavy and repulsive. You would have seen Lauren use the powers she has picked up on a TV show to analyze Jonah's reaction for lies. You would have seen him flee.

I don't know if this is a strength or weakness, but I cannot see sorrow in others and not try to alleviate it. As Jonah sat on my lap in the bathroom, bony arms and tailbone poking me, trying to find a way to fit comfortably, crying softly, I couldn't berate him. I couldn't punish him more. He had done enough punishing already. So he chewed gum in class. He says he has bad breath and he forgot to take it out before school started. He broke the rules; he got punished with a detention. In that moment, it was my place to love him and to snuggle him out of his melancholy.

After he returned to near-normal, and as we were doing dishes, he asked me what I would have done if he had done something really bad, like swearing or de-pantsing someone. I told him very seriously that for a serious crime like one of those, the punishment from me (and Clint) would have been much more serious, probably painful, definitely longer lasting. I told him it was a good thing he had just done a project on torture devices of the Spanish Inquistion at school. They had lots of good ideas that his dad and I could choose from. He almost swallowed his gum.This is Jonah two years ago. Look at that angelic smile. Yeah, he was almost 9 then.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Grand Adventure

Today, Jared and I were on our own: Clint and Jonah went to help Clint's brother with his house, and Lauren was at a sleepover, so Jared and Mommy decided to go on a 'venture. It was such a nice day, I had to do a little laundry first and hang it out on the line, but we got going around 10.

Here was our first stop: Jackson Coffee Company, my favorite local coffee shop. I got an Almond Joy Mocha and a white chocolate biscotti. Jared chose a cinnamon biscotti with dark chocolate icing. We were a few miles down the highway when he said, "Mommy, look at my hands." Yeah, what was I thinking, getting him something with chocolate icing? He had it ALL OVER his hands and face. I tossed him a few napkins and took the broken biscotti from him, then pulled into the nearest rest area. A few minutes later, we were back on the road.

We pulled off the highway, and I trusted my instincts and memory of the mapquest directions to find our primary destination: the Viking Sewing Center. I drove past it the first time and had to call my computer guru (thanks, Ilona) for the street address, but we finally made it. The store is AWESOME! They have loads of Amy Butler and Moda and Art Gallery fabrics, along with lots of others. Look at this fabric!
So we spent a LONG time there, and Jared was very good. He kept dragging me back to look at the shark fabric and the zebra fabric, but eventually I found what I wanted. I went in there looking for fabric to cover the seats of two chairs, one for the dining room and one for my bedroom. I came out with those, along with fabric to make a new skirt, a scarf, and an apron. (sigh). It was so lovely.

Then we headed out for Arborland to meet my friend JJ, who lives in the area. We wasted time (and a few dollars) at Old Navy and Border's, then ate lunch at Potbelly. Jared dove right into his sandwich, and kept himself so busy eating, JJ and I had plenty of time to catch up. Then we got ice cream at Cold Stone (Jared said he wanted green--and then begged for a gumball as I was paying) and he got ice cream all over his arms and the chair while JJ and I talked some more.

After I had cleaned him up, we decided we ought to do something fun for Jared, so we headed over to Gallup Park. Really, we should have known: it was a gorgeous day and the park was packed. There was not one parking space available. We drove around for maybe 5 minutes before giving up. By that time, Jared was sound asleep, so I just headed home.

<- That's the fabric I finally decided on. All told, it was a very grand adventure, and when we got home, the weather was still nice, so I started painting the chair for my bedroom (white--and I'm going to distress it), then I went for a run (pushing Jared in the stroller). Then we ate dinner, took a bath, and went to Jo-Ann to get thread and a zipper for my sewing projects. Maybe I'll have a chance to get started tomorrow!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Battle Rages On

Do not feel entirely sorry for the house. It is not the helpless victim it makes itself out to be. After reading about the violence done upon it by the man, you may be inclined to think the house is wholly innocent and has never committed any wrongdoing. This is not an accurate thought. The house is not innocent and is indeed guilty of certain crimes.
But the house is old and wily, and it has learned in its long life that small lies told sweetly with a liberal sprinkling of accuracy are much more likely to be believed than wild lies or even, oddly enough, the truth. Who really wants to hear the truth? The house is good at listening, and it has observed the reactions to all such sayings. It knows what humans like to hear.
And so the crafty house made up its mind to befriend the things the people set inside it and see if it could not turn those things to its own ends. The black thing--oh, the house still hated that, but the things it had known for ages, the things it had had the time to turn to its own ends...those were the things the house turned to.
The house knew that the woman was more particular about things like dust and scrum than most of other women it had seen, so it sought out the cracks in the floor and compressed them, oozing dust onto freshly swept floors. It shook its walls when they were gone--not hard enough to crack its skin, but hard enough to shake a fine film on plaster onto the gleaming piano and mantle. And it whispered to the humming refrigerator and the banging washing machine and convinced them to plague the woman with water.
These Machines were largely generous and grateful to the woman for cleaning them and polishing them, and were hesitant to rile her. But the house was persistent and persuasive, and they succumbed.
One day, one fine spring day when the sun was high and a pair of blue jays were beaking their way to a fine nest under the eaves of the porch, the house unleashed its plan. The woman opened the refrigerator and found a pool of water on the bottom shelf. Frowning, she bent and touched it. She turned and picked up a towel, and she sopped it up. Satisfied, she turned toward the pile of laundry.
Since it was such a fine day, she had decided to wash her heaviest winter comforter. She had to shove to fit it in the washing machine, and its sides groaned in a small protest. The house hushed it and whispered for it to bide its time. When the woman left the room, the scheme began to unfold. The water in the refrigerator had been a mere foreshadowing of the flood to come.
When she returned to the laundry room, she was met with a violent banging and thrashing sound. She threw up the lid to the machine, stopping it, and checked inside. It seemed fine, so she pulled it out and took it to the line.
The machine fumed its vengeful odor--the burnt rubber smell--and whispered the idea that she should wash another load. The woman sniffed and wrinkled her nose, but she must have listened, for she added another load and started it up. She left again, and this was when the flood happened.
The machine had never vomited before, and it was outrageously painful, but the house was insistent, and it did make the woman angry. She must have heard its heaves and trickles, for she rushed back into the room and made a very small squeak. Her face grew red and a line formed between her brows.
Then she turned off the machine, leaving its belly full of dark wet socks and t-shirts, and she swept all the water out of the room. She swept in furious sweeps, the water splashing on the walls and out the door. She swept, her feet planted firmly on the floor, her white arms flashing and her hair bouncing.
The machine doubted itself and began to disbelieve the house. Maybe this family was not evil and maybe they were not harmful. Maybe they did just like to be clean and warm. It was about to share its doubt with the refrigerator when the woman leaned her broom against the wall and left the room.
The smallest person was speaking and she answered him, cooing, as she opened the refrigerator. She growled a very small growl when she saw a new pool of water on the bottom shelf. She got another towel and bent to mop it up. This time, the house was ready for phase two.
Just as she rocked back on her heels, the pool soaked up in the towel, she noticed a trickle of water on the wall of the refrigerator. She stuck her head inside, leaning on the bottom shelf. That was when the second flood happened.
This flood was not so large as the other, but it somehow sent the woman over the edge. She shrieked and leaped back, slamming shut the door of the refrigerator. She stood up and leaned on it, reaching for the white roll of paper towel. Then she flashed around, whipping the door open, bending with ammunition in hand to fight the water back. She cleaned it all up and called the man.
He came home and looked at the refrigerator and scratched his nearly bald head. He pulled it away from the wall and shone a light on its innards. He shrugged and moved into the laundry room. The man opened the machine and looked inside. He turned its inner workings and took off its front. He found the hose the house had persuaded the machine to let loose, and he pushed it back in place. He dusted his hands and set up a fan to dry the rest of the water and hugged the woman, telling her she had been braver than Noah.
The refrigerator and the washing machine refused to speak with the house, and the rest of the things inside began to grumble loudly at it, posing questions about its motives. The house had lost their confidence and seemed to even doubt itself.
But we don't know that for certain.