Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pause for interlude

Growing up I never really put too much thought into my future. Even though pretty much middle school and high school is a constant prep for the after, I never seriously considered what I was going to do, be, live, etc. I just rolled with the punches.

You see, I have this gift for selective thought and memory. Some things just go right by me. A little bit clueless I am. Maybe. Or a master of denial.

I blame my parents a bit. But only a little bit. I think I just have a problem thinking ahead long term. Next week? Planned, hour by hour. September? Consider it booked. January? Nope. Not even on my radar. So how could what I would be doing at 20 be important to a 13 year old? I mean, really. Outside of my day to day schedule at that time existed sleep. I had basketball, softball, cheerleading, long winded phone conversations with my BFF. But where to go to school, what to study, and to what end? No idea. And I didn't care.

Now maybe if I had cared I would be successful ________ now.

But one thing that I took for granted was that I would be at home with my children. (Cause for some reason marrying and having children was always an assumed thing for me...maybe I should check myself into therapy to discuss that with someone).

However, due to the economy, poor (aka, fun) choices in my 20s, and a strong work ethic, I am not home full time with my child. Nor have time to clean my house or do other 1950s housewife duties. After some thought and creative budgeting I decided to get outside help to clean. Because when I come home after work, I don't want to scrub the tub, I want to play with my child. But the tub must be cleaned somehow, and the spiders living in the corners of the bathroom don't seem to be pitching in.

So we hired a cleaner. I was excited. For a reasonable price, these people would come in and scrub my floors, do the windows, and organize my bureau top. I interviewed--in person--the company and chose them because they were nice and affordable. They were a Brazilian couple who, despite making a disparaging remark about my age and my single child status (they were proud grandparents 3 times over at 42), seemed promising. However, she barely spoke English. Not a problem, he promised. He was fluent.

Hubby was a bit more nervous as he had never had a cleaning service before. My mother had at times during my teenage years hired cleaning people in, much for the same reasons I was looking for someone. Except by that time she wasn't looking to play with us as much as she didn't want to hound us to clean anymore. Or clean after working the night shift at the nursing home and then wake up to make it to whatever sporting event, theater performance, or awards ceremony we had. My sisters and I had been more pliable as preteens in her bribes to make us clean the house than when we were in high school. Because by then the promise of pizza no longer carried much weight when we could jump in our cars and get the pizza ourselves.

On Tuesday, the day of the first cleaning, I sent many reassuring emails to husband about the cleaning company. Yes, I had checked references. Yes, I trusted them. No, we really don't have much worth stealing. Yes, I told them about our cats.

Arriving home Tuesday I was excited. We walked in and the back porch was clean. Floor washed, furniture spaced properly. Kitchen was immaculate. The house smelled clean. Like it never had before, despite my investment in every single brand of plug in air freshener.

I felt satisfaction. I could sit. Play with the kid. Maybe, just maybe, even make dinner.

Then it happened.

Husband came out of the bedroom with a frown.

"They broke the shower door."

Our brand new glass shower. I ran in, expecting to see shards of glass and quite possibly blood from some poor cleaner on our new tile.

Really, that may have been preferable. Not the blood, but a big break. But it was a piece of the bottom roller on the shower. It helped keep the two glass doors together and sealed the bottom. Probably a $2 part really. But, it was broken.


No note or explanation left. The piece had been tossed into the center of the shower. We couldn't even figure out how it had snapped off.

The next day the agency called to see how we liked the cleaning.

"Not bad, but we would like to know what happened to the shower door," I calmly said.

"What do you mean? You like job?"

"The shower door is broken, what happened?" I remain calm.

"I don't know what you are talking about. Something broken? These things happen. Maybe it was already broken," he said.

Sigh. Great. Not only does he claim to not know what happen, but then goes the whole, not us route?

"It's a brand new shower. It wasn't broken before today. Your company broke it. We're not angry, but we need to know what happened. And we also need to know why you don't know about it, and why a note or something wasn't left."

Guess what happens? His phone begins to go in and out, his English is suddenly "not so good," and he wants to schedule the next appointment. I told him that he can call me back when he knows what happened and then we can talk about our next cleaning.

I could almost hear the phone being moved to and from his mouth when it started to go in and out. Not good.

Until then, we are back to cleaning ourselves. At least we have a base clean to work from.

Maybe I can start training the spiders.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Running away from it all

So then I took up running.

In 2008 I decided I would train for a half marathon and finished the Big Lake 1/2 up in New Hampshire. Then another friend tricked me into something.

My friend California Girl (CG) wanted to run the New York marathon. Now, there are some marathons you can just sign up for. For example, the Lowell Sun marathon or the Manchester marathon are open to anyone who wants to run them. Or walk. Whatever. Then there are the competitive marathons like Boston where you have to qualify for them--or beg for a number from a charity and raise an obscene amount of money for them (more on that later). New York is a little different in that anyone can run it, but you have to be chosen through a lottery.

Seeing that I never win anything by lottery or raffle, and being slightly interested in marathon running, I said I would do it with her.

Well, you can guess what happened. I got chosen and she did not. So now I was locked into running (they require your credit card number at the time of lottery entry and automatically are charged the hefty entry fee if chosen). I had gone from biker to 5k recreation running to marathoner in very short time. And then I had to train.

NY is run in the fall, which means summer training. Brutal. So I trained through the wet summer, and was up to 21 miles at a time. Really. Turns out you never run the full 26.2 miles while training because theory says that your adrenaline will kick in and push you those last 5 miles on race day. I found a running buddy for the marathon, a long lost friend from my childhood days in New York, and the first weekend of October that year I ran it. The entire thing. And the last 5 miles were the hardest by the way. Theory blown.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Running for nothing

In a million years, sitting in my college dorm room I never thought I be this.

I am a runner.

In my head this is a surprise, as in my teens and early 20s you wouldn't find me running ever. And in my head I'm still 23.

I guess I would do the odd mile here or there. In gym class mainly. I joined the track team for 2 days in high school then stopped going. I don't remember why. But more often you would find me running to the work, to class late, or to happy hour. I can count on one hand the number of times I ran for fun, and one of those included a 5 AM run when I couldn't sleep in college on morning after staying up all night writing a paper and having 4 full pots of coffee. It was run or have a heart attack then.

Now I've been getting up at 5 AM for the sole purpose of running. And if you ask my husband or friends now they would definitely describe me as a runner. Maybe not the first adjective, but in the top 5. (Number 1 is obviously "gorgeous".)

So I am the last to admit it. But I am finally accepting this as a part of me.

Let me tell you how my lifestyle changed from an occasional work out to full out training. First of all, it started with a bike. Yes I said I was a runner, but first I was a biker. Which let me tell you is much easier to admit to than being a runner for some reason. Maybe because you are sitting down most of the time. And a bike is an accepted mode of transportation.

In 2002 I was living in Brighton, MA and loved the idea of biking in the city. I had never biked in the city before, but the idea of me biking to work instead of taking the slow B-line in was exciting. Plus, I was in grad school and having a bike seemed like a very grad school thing to do. Especially as I was going to grad school for writing. Shouldn't I be forgoing transportation and living my existence in the world? Feeling the wind in my hair and all that? I strolled down to IBC in Allston and picked out a Trek hybrid. Then promptly rode it once and put it in the garage. Riding in the city is dangerous people. It remained garaged until I moved to Salem, where I rode it every single day 1.3 miles to and from the train station.

I decided that I wanted to be healthier, so besides having a gym membership (just because you have one doesn't mean you go) I signed up for a 20 mile bike ride. This was the most physically challenging thing I had ever done. I trained and trained and on an October day, the morning after we had a party of course, I dragged my hungover self to Framingham and rode 20 miles for Project Bread. I honestly didn't think I was going to make it. But I did. I still remember feeling exhilarated afterward eating a peanut butter sandwich under a tree, looking out at Lake Cochituate. And tired. So very very very tired.From there it was a 80 mile bike ride for Best Buddies from Boston to Hyannisport. In the rain. With friends that I had dragged into my madness. Then a 2-day 190 mile ride from Sturbridge to Provincetown where I promptly hung up my bike. Cause man my legs hurt.

But in the middle of my bike excursions running became more prominent in my life.

Also in between that was Mrs. High Heels convinced me one fine summer day to run a 5 mile road race with her and her boyfriend. Yeah, right, I said. She convinced me because she knew I liked to bike and had recently completed a solo 40 mile ride one blustery spring day. (I meant to due 30 miles and got lost). The race was in Ayer and we started off together, determined to finish even if we walked it.

But something happened. I ran. I left her behind (sorry!) and actually ran. And liked it. I finished and collapsed on the track, dizzy and happy.

I had been bit by the running bug.

To be continued...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oh look at that moon!

So I read my horoscope once every two or three months. I'm not one of those daily people who are looking for guidance, but do believe the movement of the stars and planets have an impact on our biorhythms and such on a cyclical level. And the moon. Hey, the moon controls the tides and our bodies are like 75% water, I do not see how the moon couldn't have a pull on us in some way. One of my favorite essays is by Barbara Kingsolver from her book High Tide in Tuscon where a hermit crab living with her in Arizona begins responding to time high tide would have been in Tuscon had there been any water around.

The moon is a fantastic thing.

Last night when I peeked my head out the back door I saw it rising through the trees. It made me want to brave the mosquito and tick infested backyard, where there was surely a skunk lurking (OK, maybe they don't lurk, but they scrounge for food at night. And while I think skunks are cute and they can eat all the grubs in my lawn they want, I dont want one trotting up to me while I'm looking at the moon. Because I scream when startled and would be sprayed.) But anyway, the moon was pretty. And almost full.

Tonight is the full moon. It rises here at 8:28 PM, 8 minutes after sunset (how exciting that the sun is setting at 8:28 and not 4:30? I love summer).

Not sure if it's the moon or what, but today I have extra energy. My 5 AM run was longer than my previous 2 runs, and I managed to water the lawn, make my son's lunch, and water the downtown planters before going to work. I'm hoping to harness the rest of the energy after work to clean my house. At least wash the floor.

But the plan for tonight is to light a fire, watch the moon, and enjoy this summer night.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Allergy free? A builidng paranoia

For the past 6 months I've had mysterious skin conditions arise, and countless sore throats. I thought it was a rash, strep, glandular. As I sit here with an itchy throat (I didn't know throats could itch like that) that I'm pretty sure is swelling shut after I ate a bag of almonds, I know I really need to get an allergy test.

But I've never had allergies. Well, once, 9 years ago I had a reaction to something that was blooming one day. My face exploded as I stepped out of my apartment on beautiful May day. By the time I walked the two blocks to the T my nose was running, eyes swelling, and I was coughing. Once I washed my face and took a Benedryl I was fine, and the next day whatever was blooming must have been done because it never happened again.

Not only have I never had allergies, but I come from a family of long time allergy sufferers and have been proud of my non-allergy status. Everyone else carries allergy medication with them or is on prescription stuff. I was free to sniff flowers, eat strawberries, and enjoy other mundane things without thought. But now, well...since I have no idea what I'm allergic to, everything is done with unease.

Here is a list of things I'm potentially allergic to:
Almonds--throat irritant. Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Mango--lip and mouth reaction. Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Cherries--lip and mouth reaction.
Wheat--possible skin irritant; have had throat swelling after drinking Hefeweizen . Maybe life threatening if my throat closes up.
Cilantro--taste like razors. I hate this herb. It has wrecked many burritos for me. I'm sure if I ate a lot of it my mouth would swell.

So, pretty much most of these have the potential to kill me. Nonetheless, I eat almonds and cherries alot (I think the cherry and mango overlapped and want to believe it's just mango that my body had a problem with), and wheat is in everything.

My main issue with these developments is two fold. The first is that they developed very suddenly. In the past two years my body has been through a lot with my pregnancy and subsequent "total body recovery program" I've been trying to maintain. I lucked out in having a wonderful pregnancy...happy, healthy, normal. So now my body decides to be all f-ed up? It's probably the hormones, blood pressure fluctuations, and general chemistry change that happens, but that leads me to point two. What is next?

Am I doomed to continue to develop weird conditions as I age? Isn't aging enough? I am the only person in my family who can wear contact lenses...will that change too? Is it allergy related? I have foot pain now, and although I'm a runner, I'm convinced it's hereditary. Will I need surgeries like my aunts?

This building paranoia about my body chemistry is new to me and unsettling. I guess I better call for an allergy test.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writing and Editing

Last night I had to type up a short preview for an article I will be writing this week, based on what I observed at the town's Board of Selectmen meeting. I was exhausted, but knew if I didn't do it the editor would have some empty space on the webpage and may be scooped by a website that is devoted to being the town's "eye".

A few things crossed my mind while I was writing the preview.

First, how I was not going to use any of the material in the article I will eventually write. It's just not how my writing style develops. Given the limited number of words I have to work with each week--that's word count, not vocabulary choices--the 257 I eventually turned in at 12:30 AM were extraneous to the yet to the be written piece. I know this because my new piece will have a different angle, and hopefully more background information that what I could sift through late on a Tuesday night.

Second, how I wished I was a staff writer at this paper. I moonlight as a reporter (ahem, writer), and frankly hate the term moonlight, although the editorial consultant at my primary job referred to it as such. That made me nervous, not going to lie. If I were a staff reporter, I would do it full time and not have to commute into Boston each day. Plus, I wouldn't have to write up invoices for each picture or article I submit. And I wouldn't have to write real late on Tuesdays and then get up to check my manuscript database and do work early Wednesday.

Third, how some people really don't have web profiles. The article was on a new town hire, and while I'm pretty sure I accessed his LinkedIn page, the only other mention of him on the web was his construction license listing, and maybe an article about how he and his wife met. But I'm not sure on that as the picture of the guy on the bike riding into Sturgis didn't mesh completely with the man I spoke with at the meeting. However, had he been dressed in leather and not in khakis I would have been more sure.

Fourth, how I really wish my lottery numbers would come up so I wouldn't have to write on new hires in small towns, or work with writing companies on returning proofs correctly at my primary job. Then I would hire a housekeeper and be at a country club right now enjoying the July heat.

But, all in all, as my lottery numbers haven't come up, my living room is fairly clean, the article preview is filed and published, and I have a work dinner in Boston tonight to attend to discuss future development and production communication with colleagues.

I've also been thinking about whether or not writing a blog about my work experience is a good thing. Maybe my friend was right in deleting her blog.

I guess I"ll end with this: I love work and my benefits. Yes indeed. My full attention is on you.

You know, until my book is chosen for a Disney movie.