Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Midlife Version 3.0


Somewhere around the ripe age of 25, I planned the midlife crisis.

I'm one who plans, so I figured it was best to preempt the event.  If I plan for trauma, and have a plan of attack, then I'll be one step ahead of the game.  Behold, my midlife logic!  Expect! Divert! Win!

(Ain't it funny that I thought this midlife business a game?  Super funny.  Har har.  Har!)

And so it was, that I planned to play tennis.  When the crisis crashed, I'd hire a coach, find a pal and play the tennis.  The problem, however, is that this plan requires that the player have calves that don't tear.  My current predicament of chronic calf-tearing is a primary problem among two groups of doers: 1) runners, and 2) tennis players.  I did not pick a winning plan. 

Averted! Destroyed! Sticks-in-all-the-spokes! Strings-not-strung!

So no running and no tennis.  Boo.  

I did the next best thing, and that was to see a therapist.  Sheryl the Shrink, I'll call her, because that's what she calls herself on her computer login.  "Sheryl the Shrink! Help!" I said.  On her couch. "I'm super sad because I lost my best friend named Running and now I mope about all the day long day and am miserable and have lost all of my mojo and I'm a total killjoy now and I need help and I feel like I need something I dunno maybe I should go to school but golly I don't know..."

Insert record scratch noise here.

"Hold on, hold on, hold ON!" said Sheryl the Shrink.  "I'm liking this idea of school. That's a great idea."

"Hold on, hold on, hold ON!" I said back.  "I was only kidding.  I don't know where that came from.  Mulligan.  That is not a great idea."

Sheryl the Shrink took her readers off (that is, her glasses used for reading) chewed on the corner of said glasses, entertained a smirk, and enlisted the silence.  

For those of you who have never been to therapy, I'll let you in on a little secret.  Most of this therapy discovery crap occurs during the silence.  The silence, you see, somehow gets you thinking and talking at the same time, and before you know it, you've solved your own problem.  Which makes me wonder why the hell this doesn't work when The Spouse gives me the same enlisted silence.  I think it's because I didn't pay him money for the silence in the first place, and maybe, just perhaps, that if I paid him for some blessed silence every now and again I could solve my own problems.  I can see it now.  Hand him a Benjamin and holler a vehement "Shut up so I can solve my problems!"  

Strangely enough, and as if my possession, I found myself retrieving transcripts, paying application fees, reading a University of Utah stationaried "hurray yer in!" and attending a transfer-student orientation.  It was July.  I sat down at a round table next to five young-ins, 18+ years my junior, and looked around.  I wasn't sure how I got there.  I don't even remember driving myself.  I slid into my chair, slowly, and began to curse the blasted silence of Sheryl the Shrink.

Orientation was the typical orientation, with the exception of the sex ed lecture from the health center services (or whatever it is they're calling themselves now).  For upwards of a complete hour, two finely dressed women, ten years my junior, proceeded to lecture us all on the definition of "consent."  I can sum up this whole business of consent with a few simple sentences: "say no when you mean no" and "when someone says no they mean no."  Also, "make sure your body language matches your no."

The funny thing about this sex-ed lesson – other than the fact that it was the only time anyone paid attention – was that I looked around and noted the number of married individuals in the room and snickered.  We married folk have no problem saying no.  Some of us even have one of those nighty housecoat wonders with a bold "NOT TONIGHT."  In Helvetica.

Three hours and two pieces of cardboard pizza later I had spoken to the advisor, toured the library, declared a major, and registered for three classes.  

What's my major, you say?  Writing and Rhetoric Studies.  Gonna learn to write fer reals now.  Made it through a whole semester.

I have stories.


Friday, May 09, 2014

In the which I Bare my Soul and Leave it Naked and Bleeding


Have I ever told you that one story, the story of how I started running?  No?  I don't think I have.  Now seems the time to tell that story.

As you might recall, I have this previous life.  And as you also might recall, I gave birth to its disgusting details on this here blog about three years ago.  It was a life of deception, despair, depression, drugs, druthers, doom, and desecrating debasement.  It was that life I had while living amongst the dirty deeds of a dude named David, known here discretely as "Jimmy."

(If you want the links to the story mentioned above, leave a comment.  For some reason I'm hesitant to dig them up for display and I plan to roll with that hesitation.  Or, if you want the throw-yourself-off-a-cliff-notes version, here it is: I was married to violent dude with a drug addiction and a girlfriend.)

I turned towards two things during this time: work and beer.  I'd work long, fierce hours, masking my woes with a truculent injection of all things software.  Then I would come home and ingest an invisibility cloak of sorts, my favorite being Mississippi Mud.

Did I have a drinking problem?  It's hard to say.  My job kept me from overdoing it, as the need to perform each day was essential for masking the woes and I wasn't getting trashed.  The need to numb was there, however, each and every dreadful day, and it seemed I couldn't make it without.  The duration of this little phase of life was roughly a year.

I've always tried to look at things squarely.  And when it comes to looking at myself squarely, I tend to over criticize and perhaps see my faults in a less than positive light.  (I'm just throwing this out there, to demonstrate that I ain't all that objective when it comes to me... since I'm baring my soul 'n whatnot.)

One night, as I was basking in the fuzzy afterglow of the evening's invisibility cloak, I thought, "I wonder if I have a problem.  I mean, here I am, drinking alone every night so that I can tolerate my living conditions.  And as those narc-anoners and al-anoners say, if you run to a substance for hiding (I know they say this because I went to the meetings instead of the dork, who really needed to go) then you prolly have a problem.  Addiction is in the genes, evidently, so maybe I should be careful?"

Two things came from this conversation with myself: the decision to run, and the birth of "prolly."  (Invisibility cloaks have a tendency to make the speech sloppy.)

So that's how it happened, fall 1996.  I traded my daily black 'n tan hiding place for a few miles on the road.  And it was glorious.  Ran the Moab Half Marathon in 1997 and was hooked.  Committed myself to the St. George full marathon (pre-lottery, imagine that) then ran my newly divorced guts right out of town!

Barring injury or pregnancy, I've been at it since.  Seventeen years, give or take.

So, why the sudden need to tell this story now?

Because a good story needs a beginning and an end; and because it looks like my running story has reached its final chapter.

"No!"  I hear you say.  "No, Rabid, No!  It's not over, don't give up, never quit!  Go! Fight! Win!"

Two years ago, I tore the left Achilles.  That, I suppose, was the beginning of the final chapter.  I nursed that for a year and limped my way back, but not without acquiring a few calf strains along the way.  (For the record, a few is more than two.)

A year ago, I was able to rehab considerably, and I ran the Utah Valley Marathon.  My sister came to watch.  That was the best part.  The second best part was that I took second in female 40-44.  The third best part was that I qualified for Boston.

Training went well last summer, until – dun, dun, dun – the end of August.  I'll spare the monotonous details and provide you with the jump-off-the-cliff-notes-version.

Injury-fest 2013-2014:  left hamstring tear in August, during the TOU half and had to walk in, that healed quickly, got back at it, left calf tear two weeks before St George (would have been #10,) one month off, two months on – increased mileage slowly, decide I'm in for Boston, buy tickets, tear butt cheek so bad I can't walk, nurse by taking one month off, then another month back on, more quickly this time, because, like, I want to go to Boston so bad it hurts, tear right calf again, cry furiously, cancel Boston, realize I've lost all of my friends because we only see each other when we run, take another month off, walked like a banshee and was bored to tears by it, then finally, another month on – increasing mileage slowly.

Things were up!  I'm running three days a week, slowly this time, and I was feeling pretty good.  Butt cheek still nags, but calves seem strong.  Monday, last, was the deadline to register for St. George.  I woke up with a tight and sore left calf, tight as a whatever-vulgar-coloquialism-you-wanna-insert-here.  I know this pattern.  I've been here for two years.  Me 'n the pattern are now very intimate. I have had five major injures in the last nine months.  Clearly, I'm falling apart.

In the last two years I have a registered and received a DNS (Did Not even freacking Start) on: Utah Valley Marathon, 2012; New York City Marathon, 2012 (there was a hurricane that year, but I was too injured to run anyway); St. George Marathon, 2013; Marine Corps Marathon, 2013; Boston, 2014; and now it's looking like the American Fork Half Marathon, 2014.

I've spent mega doses of moolah on massage, gadgets, supplements, physical therapy, and doctors. Evidently, the recurring calf strain is a common theme among runners and tennis players in their late 30s, early 40s, but no one has an answer.  Anyone in PT grad school?  Please use the recurring calf strain among athletes as your project! Somebody help us find out the why-the, how-the, and prevent-the!

Monday morning, last,  I was going to see how I feel and run.  If the run went well, I'd register for St. George.  Well.  I didn't register for St. George; this was not a good day.  I have nine St. Georges.  I want ten.  Now I know how Beethoven felt when he was pushing for ten symphonies and never made it.  Except for I am not dying and Beethoven was, so maybe I don't know how Beethoven felt.

No, I'm not dying.  Everything will be fine.  The world is moving around and carrying on.  The jobs for Spouse and me are good, the Yahoos are great.  Our lives could not be better.  Truthfully, though?   I am miserable.  I cannot go five minutes without my heart and my soul, yearning, aching, pining for, a run.  I would give every last dime I have, and everything I make for the next few years, just for the guarantee of five more years.

I suppose the worst part of it all is that I must go on.  I must pretend everything is fine.  When people ask how I'm doing I say, "Great!" because, like, what am I supposed to say, "Life sucks because I cannot run, I cry my weight in tears every three days, and it's all because I'm super healthy and my kids are healthy, and life is great, but it all sucks because I can't run?"  

Wah-freaking-wah.

What I really want, is for my family and friends to send condolences and listen to me cry and complain, and offer words of encouragement, and to don dorky pom-pons and cheer me on during this game called life.  I want them to look at me with empathy and understanding.  And maybe even to tell me that I'm fine the way I am and don't need it.

Being as the world is busy with real problems, my mid-life and final running chapter must be dealt with here.  I suppose I'll take notes so that when it happens again to someone else, I'll be there.  If you're there, or have been there, I salute you and ask that you salute back.  Leave a comment or call me.  I feel your pain!  I get it!

It's time I look at things squarely (because I try to do that.)   So without further ado, here we go with the final paragraphs of the final chapter.

Dearest self:

Running as you know it is officially over.  It's time to take the "runner" away and be just Rabid.

Hello, Rabid!

In the mean time, there can always be a sequel, right?  I parked www.rabidrambler.com.  Ramblers can do anything... bike, swim, read a book, hike, play piano, cook, donate, love the Spouse 'n Yahoos and friends – maybe even... nothing.


Friday, February 21, 2014

I need this...


... and the matching bumper sticker.



Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I! Just! Can't! Let! It! Go!


I've got some thoughts – thoughts that border on the obsessive – thoughts that keep coming back to me.  And each time they come back, I holler Let It Go! and then the thoughts come back again, but only stronger.

It's all because the whole premise of my obssessed-thought predicament is predicated upon that Let it Go! tune.  Let it Go!  Let it Go!  Can't hold you back anymore!  

You see the vicious cycle, don't you?  Unctuous thought > heart races with urgency > Let it Go!  > hum the tune > unctuous thought arrives again > heart races with even more urgency.

Over and over and over.

I try to be one of those folks that adheres to the dictum that we shouldn't give stupid, pretentious, self righteous people any more attention, because that's the reason people are stupid, pretentious and self righteous.  But this time, it's different.  This time, I've got my undies in an uproar over being misrepresented.

I cannot Let! It! Go!

I am about to give a stupid, pretentious, self righteous nitwit some attention.  I shall repent later.  First for calling her stupid, because that's just not nice, and not based on facts, and second, because I'm disobeying my own dictum (that of giving stupid, pretentious, and self righteous people attention.)

So there's this Mormon grandma lady who has seen Frozen, at least two times too many.  She has fabricated a blog post on the ferals of a this Frozen flick, claiming first and foremost, with fire and fatuity, and with far too many words and mouse/thumb scrolls, that Frozen is Disney's last-ditch effort to push the "gay agenda."

You can see it here.  If you like.  And if you make it through the whole thing, well... you won't make it through the whole thing, even if you agree with her, because it's boring and has middle-aged harpy written all over it.

This lady calls herself a "Well Behaved Mormon Woman."  This in itself proves the self-righteous and pretentious accusation, listed above.  But, seriously, I cannot let it go.  I feel I need to write the LDS church and demand that she label herself the Unofficial Well Behaved Mormon Woman, because, well, there is nothing well-behaved about her.

Now, I believe that everyone is entitled to their very own opinion.  When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, I feel the same.  We are each entitled to feel how we feel about it.  I will not, can not, impose my view, or express how you should feel about this issue, for it goes against my inner core set of values to demand someone share the same opinion as me.

(I have inserted my disclaimer, now we can continue...)

There isn't a single piece of dialog, anywhere in Frozen, that says "kids be gay" or "girls should love/like girls" or "boys should love/like boys."  Nowhere.  (Or maybe I wasn't paying attention, set me straight, if that's the case.)  Therefore, any commentary of said "gay agenda" is nothing short of an inferring judgement and a hollow 'n haughty accusation.

Let's talk about Judging, shall we?  Lets!

Jesus, the center of the LDS Christian faith, said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."  St Matthew, 7:1-2

Jesus also said, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way." Romans 14:13

But wait!  There's more!  This issue of judging each other was a big deal and He didn't stop there!

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." St John 7:24

"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."  Luke 6:37

"And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." John 12:47

"Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge." James 4:11

In all fairness, I am judging the poor dear, by accusing her of the judging.  But the difference, however, is that I never claimed to be a "Well Behaved Mormon Woman."  No-siree, on-the-contrary.

Bottom line, sweet (not!) Well Behaved Mormon Woman?  You should go to business school.  Disney is not wasting its resources on any agenda; Disney is not trying to woo your precious offspring into homosexuality.  Disney is all about one thing, and that thing is Cash.  They could care less what you think because they have your money.  At three showings!  (Or however many times she saw it.)

I think I can let it go now.


p.s. I might have just placed a giant "X" on my back.  Well Behaved Mormon Woman has 7.3k followers. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Arlington National Cemetery


Happy President's Day!

In honor of some presidents and the place where presidents took care of things, I thought I'd post some of my favorite photos from the D.C. trip.  Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most awe-inspiring, emotional, and visually appealing places I've ever been. We spent hours there.  It was tough to narrow the photo-pickings, so I just decided to post them all.  Kidding.  Not really.


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Robert E. Lee's House

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Paying respect to "Silent Cal," who is our favorite president for various reasons.

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Here we are!  

This last photo, and compliments, goes to some female LDS missionaries who were out sight-seeing for the day.  There's something about missionaries that make you wanna run up to them,  talk to them, and then on the sly, ask them to take your photo.  

I believe this is our only family photo from the whole trip.  I need to work on that.  More family photos.  Means we need to find more missionaries?



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Freedom From Want


Warning... today's post is not happy or uplifting.  If you choose to read on (not really recommended) it'll either make you feel superior, what with my drolling druthers, or it'll ruin your day.  I'm hoping for the latter because misery likes company.  Oh, but the pictures are purdy.  You can just look at the purdy pictures.

Every once in a while I say, "This is it" as in "This is it?"  I have battled my way through the first 25-years of my life – a life of hell, mind you – to spend my days as a tiny, insignificant cog, churning about in the parent, career, church, and society machine?  This is it?

(Just bare with me while I work this out, kay?  I have no idea where this is going.)

It's my attitude, right?  It must be.  Life is about attitude.  Believe and achieve! What you think you become! Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Life is what you make it! Nothing is impossible!

Thing is, I see my kids two or three hours a day.  I see the Spouse less.  And when I see the three, I have to share them with various interludes; interludes that as of right now, take precedence.  Interludes like work, and homework, and friends, and piano, and church, and household chores.  Not to mention the interruptions that just show up and say "Here I am!  Deal with me! I know you have stuff you're trying to do, but I'm here and I'm more important so give me attention and do something for me or else you're being rude!"

It's all enough to squeeze every last bit of air out of my mid-life inflatable lifeboat.

(Remind me to build my next midlife lifeboat out steel.)

I'm not lazy.  I'm not a quitter.  I have the will of a giant.  Anything I want, I will get – through stubbornness alone – all I need is the want. But therein lies the problem.  The want is gone.  Gone, gone.  I don't want anything.  I don't want food.  I don't want a house.  I don't want a vacation.  I don't want more time.  I don't want more friends.  I don't want to ski.  I don't want to run.  I don't want to have fun. I don't want... anything... except the one thing I cannot have.

What do I want?  I want more time with the people I love.  More time to watch, interact, and be –without the distraction of having to "get something done."

While in Washington DC, we were out monument browsing.  One of the last monuments visited was the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial.  It's beautiful.  Cascading waterfalls, statues and this:


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"Freedom from want."  

Ask the Spouse.  I stared at that placard for a good five minutes.  Freedom from want... freedom from want... freedom... from want.  Shield us, protect us, ward off.... the want.  Want is bad. Want is evil.  Want must be kept away.

Now we all know what President Roosevelt was saying back then.  The world was jobless, homeless and depressed; life was a mess for most.  But "freedom from want?"  I know what freedom from want is.  Freedom from want is depression.  

Seems the tools that can get us out of depression (jobs, affluence, luxury, technology, etc., etc.) can take us right back.*

Freedom of....? Freedom from....?   There sure is a big difference.


*I'm mostly speaking of me here... didn't mean to lump you all into my depressed category.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bits of Nothing and Pieces of Something


✮ Nothing much is happening.  It's all work, work, and more work, followed by homework, homework, and more homework, followed by housework, housework, and not more housework, cause housework gives me no joy.  I stop the housework before it gets to more housework.

✮ I guess what I just told myself, with that paragraph, is that while work is work, and homework is work, I get a meager amount of joy from both.  I'm going to hang on to that.

✮ Yesterday I was a bad mom.  Bad, bad, mom.  We all played hooky.  I took the kids out of school and we built New York City.  We swallowed lemonheads and swedish fish whole then washed it down with Mountain Dew. We capped the afternoon with two New York City-filmed movies: Tower Heist and Men in Black.

(They still practiced the piano, though.  Hooky-day doesn't provide a piano-practice exemption.)

✮ Spouse 'n me, we saw Men In Black on our first date.  I'll bet I've said that here before.  Please hold while I check.  Nope.  This is the first.  We had dinner at  Frontier Pies on that same date.  I didn't have pie.  I should have had pie.  I love pie.  Extra especially fruit pie.

✮ On my play hooky day, I still worked eight hours.  Take that!  All you everybody out there that think I'm lazy!  On my hooky-day I worked eight hours! And built New York City!  We Rabids are superhuman.  In three hours we built what took other folks hundreds of years.

✮ How did we build NYC?  With a kit.  The founding Dutch should have had a this NYC kit, so as to sidestep some hassles.  The kit begins with a jigsaw puzzle, that's really a map of Manhattan at the 1700s, then you build another puzzle of the current-streets on top.  After you have the streets, you can plant the buildings.  We planted the buildings in the order of their erection.  It was cool to see how the city was built.

✮ Did I just use the word erection?  Sure did.  Now that's something!


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Proud erectors. 

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Spidey saves the ice cream truck.

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Yahoos are star-struck.  They love their Spidey.

✮ I have Dutch ancestors who lived in 17th century New York.  True story.  I don't look Dutch though.  Maybe next time we should build Amsterdam?  Or Chicago?  Or Paris?  Yeah.... Paris.  I've been there.

✮ I don't really have much fun anymore.  I'm not very fun either.  I turn down invitations because I find myself boring and don't want to subject others to my boring.  Mostly though, I turn down invitations to hang with large groups of women.  Large groups of women are not my thing.  And you will never (ever!) hear me say that I'm going to "Girls Night Out." Will I attend "Stitch 'n Bitch?"  Of course.  But never a "Girls Night Out."  

✮ Speaking of fun, sometimes I catch myself thinking, "I guess I've had all the fun I"ll ever have."  I need to stop saying that.  I'm in a fun-rut.  Fun-ruts are hard to get out of.  And it seems like each fun-rut gets deeper and harder with every dig.

✮ I've picked a theme for the year.  It is: Hope. Engage. Persist.  I'll start this hoping and engaging and persisting by working on the fun-rut.

✮ My current fun-rut came on Monday after a seven miler.  The calf is acting up again and I'll be on the couch for a bit.  This is a real bummer because on Saturday I had a very promising 15 miler.

✮ I want a New Girl episode where Jess gets herself out of a fun-rut.  That could be helpful.  And funny.  New Girl is always funny.

✮ With all this couch time, I started watching Bones.  I'm watching it right now and Dr. Brennan is running around yelling "Where the hell are my bones?!" Snicker.  And maybe a snort.  Earlier she said, "Why does this dead body have skin on it?  You know I don't do skin."  I like shows with quirky characters.  This one is full of 'em.  I'm going to adopt Brennan's "I don't know what that means" with the hope that the target of said phrase would deem me too genius to understand the trivial.

✮ I watch too much TV.  Actually, I don't really watch TV.  I listen to TV and glance at it occasionally.  It keeps me from getting lonely when the Yahoos are at school.  If you would have told me six years ago, that I'd be lonely and missing the Yahoos each and every day, I'd say you were high.  Life has a whole bunch of feast or famine, doesn't it?

✮ While we're on the subject of feasts and famines, let's talk about my employer.  We do tax return software on the internet.  In the past, I've been mum about where and how and what, but have since been given free license to promote!  Go to www.FreeTaxUSA.com and prepare your return.  Federal is free, state (if you choose) is $12.95.  Safe 'n secure 'n authorized – it's great for most.  AND... here's the bonus.... enter AMBERS25 at checkout for a 25% discount.

✮ Gee, that's a funny coupon code, this AMBERS25.  Why is it AMBERS25?  I'll tell you why, the employees are having a contest to see who can recommend the most people.  The coupon code keeps track.  I wanna win!  I wanna win! I wanna win!  Thought about paying people to use my coupon code, but thought again – this avenue could get me fired.  Doh!

✮ Speaking of fire.  It's time for me to get back to work.  Into the Fire!  With Taxes!  (And Sarah McLachlin.)