Gifted Artist

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Sooo … a neighbor read on my blog that I am a huge Charley Harper fan.

Her parents were fans of his and bought some limited edition and signed prints in the 1970s and then kept them under a bed, never to have been framed. She showed them to me tonight, still in their envelopes on her kitchen table. (You can see his work here: www.charleyharperprints.com)

She plans to put them in her daughter’s nursery. All but one.

 

photo (9)

 

The one she gave to me.

Because, she says, it reminded her of all of Sugar’s adventures in the field behind our houses. Terrorizing mice, snakes, grasshoppers and blades of grass. He hasn’t caught a bird. Yet.

I love that cat. And I love my neighbor, with whom I share a kindred spirit. And now I have my very own Charley Harper print to hang in my home. My heart is happy and I am blessed. (Now, anyone know a great place to get a picture framed? #squee)

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I Ran A Great Time

Confession: My last run was St. Patrick’s Day. I ran 9 miles on empty, got home, showered, and crawled into bed. That day I quit running.

Then I ran 13.1 at the Lincoln Half Marathon in Nebraska this weekend.

Crazy? Yea.
Irresponsible? My right knee thinks so. #holdme
But … I had way more fun this year being a slowskie than I did last year trying to be a speedster.

LNKBib

Last year after I ran my first half in Lincoln, I was pretty sure I would never want to run again. Then after a week or so I thought maybe I would. By December when registration time came and all the college friends were rallying around the race, I was totally game. By mid-March, I was suffering on the treadmill and bemoaning my existence. I was burned out. I gave up. I was over it. And I didn’t really want to face it or tell anyone. I was ashamed. I mean, didn’t I just run 12 5ks in a single year?

Then from afar I watched college BFF Little Rock Jill (who lives in Little Rock — so many friends named Jill, so everyone gets a nickname) pushing through her training like a boss. Jill was one of those I’m Not a Runner runners (sounds familiar) and had only started running last year. And in a single year had gone from couch to 5k to 10k and now was staring down the 13.1 miles in our beloved college town where 10 years ago we drank cheap beer, smoked heaters, and pursued journalistic endeavors.

I was very impressed.

My first half was in Lincoln last year, and I thought all the things I would have done differently. One of them was I wish I had someone to run with. I mentally broke down before my body gave out, and I didn’t want that to happen again and I didn’t want that to happen to Jill. I had pushed through a year of 5ks with the help of encouraging friends who ran alongside me who told me it was fine to hate every minute of it or to just run to that tree or told me I was on a good pace. Apparently I needed that for bigger races, too, and I wanted Jill to hear those things as much as I needed to hear them myself.

(Other things I’d change: wear sunglasses, wear a hat, bring a iPod with awesome music, switch to minimalist running shoes, high five more little kids, thank more volunteers, do anything and everything to avoid burning hip pain in the final miles, bring Honey Zinger chews, don’t beat myself up so much, don’t take myself so seriously, have fun, don’t die, etc etc etc.)

REDEMPTION.

Inspired by a friend who last year did a Half Ironman with only, like, two days of kind of training, I just mentally committed to being kind of uncomfortable for approximately three hours, which was Jill’s goal to finish.  By God I would be Jill’s closest by proximity biggest cheerleader (but I secretly worried that I would hold her back — she at least trained the entire time, while I gave up, waffled about running in general, and then jumped back in very last minute). And maybe Jill wouldn’t need me (but I would need her, little did she know, bwahahaha). I would be a silent running partner, not to be left in the dust of tens of thousands ahead of me.

During the race, while Jill questioned the sanity of runners and cursed the seriously stupid weather (low 40s, gray skies, and wind — not cool, Nebraska, not cool), I committed to cheering her on and, for myself, trying to be present in the moment no matter what.  Meanwhile, inside my brain there were lots of expletives about the stupid weather, my aching right knee,  my skinless left heel, but overall again it was my mind versus body struggle — playing it cool for Jill’s sake forced me to ignore my own woe-is-me. Outside, I was full of smiles, high fiving little kids, telling volunteers how much they rocked my socks off and encouraging Jill to just run to that stop sign before the next walk break.

Running had become very isolating for me this year. I felt alone in gyms and on trails. So I bailed, and that made me sad and frustrated. I needed to have a good run to repair my relationship with running or I might never run again. And while Jill tells folks that I dragged her across the finish line, little does she know that she got me there, too. Insert warm n fuzzy feelings here.

In light of what happened at the Boston Marathon, there was more security measures and no cannon blasts at the start line signaling each wave of runners at the Lincoln Half Marathon and Marathon (thank you for that). On packet info, I noticed a simple statement that I didn’t remember last year:

See something, say something.

Sure, they were talking about shady characters with evil hearts and chaos planned. But luckily I did not recognize that on that Sunday. This is what I did see and this is what I will say to you:

LnkHalfBffs

The Lincoln Marathon/Half Marathon is a truly great event. I love the different personalities of the different legs of the race — the nostalgia of being on the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus, the straightforwardness of South Street, the big trees and fancy houses of Sheridan Boulevard, the wisp of yesteryear of College View, the bland and sucky suckage that is Hwy 2 (seriously, it sucks so bad!), and the tricky mind games played by the final stretch of 10th Street as you approach Memorial Stadium (if half marathons could have a false summit, this would be it).

I love the personalities of the spectators, from the Japanese drummers to the guy in a tuxedo serving runners cups of ice water to the real nuns and the burly guy dressed as a nun. I love the neighborhood that hands out Dixie cups of gummie bears and jelly beans, the house that puts out tables of slices of bananas and oranges, the National Guard who called out our names as we passed by (is there nothing sexier more patriotic than a man in uniform cheering you on?) and police officers who stopped traffic for us, and all those who came out in stupid weather to cheer on people they did not know and made and held funny and inspiring signs. I saw friends stronger and more capable than they think they were. Friends who even as we embarked on something we weren’t very sure about, we were still making each other laugh out loud and applauding each other later over Miller High Lifes and jukebox tunes.

I got to see all of this because I cut myself some slack, and I got a front row seat to a friend’s major accomplishment. And during this race I was already thinking about next year’s Lincoln Half Marathon. Or any half marathon. I’m back, baby.

 

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Three Things

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While I was waiting for the stoplight to turn green on my way home along rural Boulder County roads, a hawk flew right over my windshield with a fat field mouse in its beak. RIP, little buddy. Fistbump, hawk. That was badass.

I have a metal allergy, which means I don’t wear jewelry much (or at all). I don’t even remember/know my ring size. I attempted to have my ears pierced three different times growing up, and each failed as I scratched the earrings right out. So I’m kind of obsessed with any non metal jewelry that doesn’t look like a preschool bead project. If you know of any great brands that sell non metal jewelry that is pretty and sophisticated, let’s talk.

I just bought my first Apple computer. It’s so shiny and purty. I’m almost afraid to use it.

With Everything That Happened

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I was in Boston last week for a conference (which still went on as planned, and I thank the organizers for that) right after the Boston Marathon.

As you can imagine, it was not the trip I planned. My phone/email/social media channels/in person conversations all focused on how I was and if I was safe, “with everything that happened” to this iconic U.S. city.

Bombings
Shootings
Sirens
Senselss death
Catastrophic injury
Uncertainty
Police every place I went
“Shelter in place” — a new and scary phrase
Vacant streets
Military and FBI presence in common everyday places
Unanswered questions
Answers that don’t cure the heartache

The Kid was not made aware, thank goodness. A few of the week’s tragic events happened a little too close for comfort. Meanwhile the city’s residents remained ever so gracious to us guests. I thank all those who cared enough to check in on me and were worried. Even the airline employees were asking me about my time in Boston. A blog post about these memories seems trite to me, but us writer types feel compelled to write, even when we do not always have the words. Not gonna lie: I was a bit worried during those six days, but I tried to find the balance between not being afraid of the sinister “they” the they who is behind the mayhem and not being unnecessarily risky and naïve that the mayhem couldn’t or wouldn’t spill into my normal thankfully boring life. Some moments, though, the thought of walking nearby to get a Dunkin Donuts coffee outside the perceived safety of our hotel seemed a little iffy.

I am always glad to get back to Colorado, no matter where in the world I travel. In that small way this trip was no different. But then again, it was unlike anything I had experienced. As a waiter told me, “It feels like Gotham City outside.” It was a surreal week, and my heart remains with those who are suffering.

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Three Things

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Booking travel online makes me incredibly anxious. Not the travel itself but the online purchasing of said travel. So much so that I have been known to call a BFF, give her my credit card info, and let her book the flight or hotel for me. But I recently booked two trips without any assistance or hand holding, and I consider this a major accomplishment in Things Grown-ups Do.

My fantasy dream job (you know, the kind you think about doing if you won the lottery) would be to open an old-fashioned ice cream parlour in Longmont — like the kinds back home in NEPA with a counter, swivel stools, tubs of Hershey’s hard ice cream and steel cold canisters of malted milkshakes — because the ice cream options in this town are less than desirable (Coldstone and Dairy Queen? Puh-lease).

The Kid, I may have mentioned, is a fantastic little artist. One time I offered to put her in afterschool art classes, and she said “No, I don’t want to do art classes because they TELL you what to draw. I want to draw what I want to draw.” Reason No. 367 why The Kid is awesome.

What Actually Happens

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A milestone birthday.

As we all know, I found out I was preggers with The Kid on my 23rd birthday, in between a trip to the mall to buy a going out shirt (and a pregnancy test just in case because what was the date again?) and the plan to go out to the bars for Thirsty Thursday. Instead I bailed on my friends and drinking 50-cent beers and went to TGIFs with my boyfriend to discuss what two purple lines meant for us and The Future. I made up my mind immediately that if I was going to be a young Mom, then I would give myself the next 10 years to make babies so my 40s could be doing what I was supposed to be doing in my 20s — traveling, rocking my career, and generally being awesome.

Ten years sounded like a lot of time.

But here I am before I know it, at 33 and life looks and feels differently than I thought I would. And that’s ok because 10 years teaches you that there are your plans and then what actually happens.

So at 33 I feel good about my life and how generally awesome it is, even if it is different than what I thought it would look like. My passport never filled up. I didn’t work in fabulous cities and write award-winning journalism. I have a sensible house. I have a stable job. I have a child at the doorstop of angst-riddled tweendom. I feel young and old at the same time. I eye marriage (and birth control) with suspicion. I want more kids but would like to be hitched before that happens this time (if there is a next time — I’m not getting any younger, and if I’m going to procreate, I kind of need to decide soonish, say, 35? 38?).

And then I laugh at myself like I even get to decide what happens and when it happens — have I not learned?

And … This year instead of being done with having babies as my 23-year-old self thought, I watched The Ex and his gf have their own baby this spring. And since the announcement of this baby sister I have navigated a series of heartbreaking and gut-wrenching questions from The Kid:

 

WHY DID YOU EVEN GET MARRIED IF YOU WERE GOING TO GET DIVORCED?

DID YOU EVEN LOVE EACH OTHER?

HOW CAN DAD AND GIRLFRIEND HAVE A BABY WHEN THEY AREN’T EVEN MARRIED?

ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE A BABY?

WHY DID YOU GET DIVORCED IN THE FIRST PLACE?

ARE YOU GOING TO GET REMARRIED?

IS DAD AND GIRLFRIEND GOING TO GET MARRIED?

DO YOU EVER HAVE A WEDDING RING?

WELL I’M NOT HAPPY YOU’RE DIVORCED. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE ASK ME WHAT I WANTED?

 

She often asks questions out of the blue while we are in the car or right at bedtime, and I am caught off guard. I walk away angry and sad on her behalf. The Mom Guilt is relentless. But I let The Kid ask these questions because I don’t know what it’s like to be 9 with two homes and two lives and two of everything except holidays and special occasions where your parents are rarely if ever in the same room.

So I look ahead to my own life, and I wonder some of these very same questions —- Will I get married again? Will I have more kids? Is it worth it? I tell The Kid I don’t have the answers right now. But at some point we’ll figure it out. The answers will reveal themselves.

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Happy Birthday To Me

33
Kind of a milestone birthday
Long story, different blog post

I am truly blessed
health, happiness, lots of loved ones
laughter, good food, good music
a home

But still
On my birthday wishlist
(if I am allowed to daydream because it’s my birthday
and I am and I will because it’s my birthday goddammit):

Still want this from last year’s post

apart phone

Apart Phone by Todd McLellan
source

Amazing bedding
I’m talking sheets, blankets, pillows, shams, the works
I wanna slide in and never come out
I’m talking Ritz Carlton/Magnolia Hotel bedding
Best beds ever
If I had them at home, could be dangerous

And want this for the office:

back to work print

Back To Work print
source

In fact I will just buy it RIGHT NOW for myself. Whee!

A new iPhone
(the glass back of which was shattered a few weeks ago after an unfortunate slip)
and Mac Book Air
(my dear trusty PC has been stroking out on me the last few months. Ruh roh)

Membership in a flower share
Like a CSA but with fresh local flowers weekly
Did you know you could sign up for such a thing?
I didn’t until thrifty friend Sarah
Yes, please

and this

indoor tree

Indoor tree
source

Rom coms
Chick flicks
On DVD
For me to watch
over and over and over and over
with English subtitles on
Just the way I like to watch movies on DVD at home

(It’s my birthday so let me be)

You’ve Got Mail
The Notebook
P.S. I Love You
When Harry Met Sally

youve_got_mail

I think Tom Hanks may be the perfect man.

Someone else to clean my house
And my car
It’s amazing how a clean space lifts my soul
Ahhh

That’s pretty much it.
Thank you for indulging me in a little birthday daydream!
I truly am a lucky lady.

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Three Things

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After a famous falling bear (RIP, buddy) and a mountain lion ventured onto campus in recent years, I can’t help but look up in the trees above me when I walk around the university. Eeeeep. #donteatme

I can’t touch my toes. This embarrasses me.

I signed up for CrossFit. Stay tuned.

 

How To Spend Easter By Yourself

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Despite being the more religious parent, The Kid has spent the last few Easter Sundays with her dad.

His side of the family has a fun extended family gathering in a nearby town and they have lots of little girls and The Kid tells me it’s a good time. In years past I usually go out of town and do something un-Eastery. This year, however, I was home and the world was my oyster. Except you know I don’t really like oysters and don’t really understand that saying anyway.

But this Easter I could have done anything, everything and nothing. So this is what I did.

 

I slept in (as much as I could with The Kid rockin’ out to Top 40 radio and the cat sticking his whiskery face in my face) until 9a when The Kid’s dad texted me he was on his way.

The Kid asked me what I was doing today and when I told her I had no idea, she said “Well then you should come with me!” I thanked her and politely declined. And then she was off to make memories that didn’t include me.

Out of curiosity/boredom, I put on a thrifted dress I intended to sell and it fit me perfectly, which was a huge surprise. I decided to wear the long navy and white polka dotted dress with the racer back all day. I felt very Gwyneth Paltrow/Phoebe from Friends circa early 1990s.

I did not straighten my hair. My hair was very very wild.

I drove to Target, which was CLOSED.

I called my mom.

I went to Starbucks and got an iced mocha.

I drove to my cheapo nail place to see about getting a mani-pedi-brow wax but it was CLOSED.

So I stopped at a nearby thrift shop and methodically looked at everything, even the records and DVDs and jewelry. I bought a large green Pyrex bowl, two metal recipe boxes that had awesome designs, and a Sears Jr Bazaar thrifted dress from the 1980s that had little tiny hearts on a bright blue happy fabric and white buttons on the sleeves.

I drove to the local food bank and donated some canned goods that have been in my trunk forever. The soup kitchen in the center was filled with people, old and young, eating a nice warm meal. I felt glad people can get a nice warm meal from friendly people on Easter Sunday and I felt sad that this is where some people were having their Easter Sunday meal (maybe their only meal today).

I got stuck in the Catholic church Mass traffic. I thought about going to church more often.

I stopped by the local garden center and talked to a very nice women named Ann who answered my questions about hydrangea bushes. I took pictures of the plants that I liked and will need to see if my HOA allows them and if Colorado soil will support them in my yard.

I drove to the gas station and for once proactively filled my gas tank instead of, oh you know, waiting until the light is on empty and praying that I make it to the gas station without getting stuck on the Diagonal Hwy between Longmont and Boulder during my Monday morning commute.

I went to the grocery store. I bought the little food items that I didn’t get at Costco and Target earlier that week. I bought things I rarely buy, if ever, things like Nutella, coconut milk, adobo chilies, more Cadbury mini eggs, and I bought myself a cake donut.

I ate the donut on the drive home, and it was awesome. I sang along to the radio to overplayed songs. I had the windows down. Bluebird day in Colorado.

I made myself a really great sandwich and cut it into fours just like Mom used to. Except this isn’t a sandwich Mom would ever, ever make because it had things like avocado, banana peppers, and spinach on it.

I ate the sandwich in bed, while wearing that dress I meant to sell but will probably now keep.

And now I’m going to nap.

 

Happy Easter, peeps! How was your Easter?

 

 

 

 

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My Kid Googled Me

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After a long week, I took The Kid and I to one of her favorite places, Red Robin, for dinner. I thought it might be nice to spend some quality time together and not have to do dishes for once. But I forgot that my daughter hates to chitchat during meals; she prefers to sit down and eat quietly, zoning out to the sounds of people chewing their food. This, of course, drives her chitchatty mother absolutely mad because god dammit I am paying for a lovely meal with my daughter and I expect to have a real conversation that includes more than “Can I have a sleepover/Barbie/Dairy Queen/playdate/another cat/soda instead of milk?”

Instead I get this:

How was school today?
GOOD.
How was lunch?
GOOD.
Did you eat lunch today?
YES. WELL MOST OF IT. SOME OF IT.
(chewing chewing chewing chewing)
OK, what else did you do at school today?
AT RECESS WE PLAYED GROUNDIES, AND I WAS A TIGER PRINCESS.
Um, ok then (has no idea what “groundies” is) … what did you LEARN at school today?
(chewing chewing vacant staring chewing chewing)
Hello? Did you hear my question?
WHAT QUESTION?
What kinds of things did you learn about at school today?
OH I DIDN’T HEAR YOU BECAUSE OF ALL OF THE NOISE.
(vacant staring chewing chewing)
So …. what did you learn today at school then?
AT SCHOOL WE ARE DOING REPORTS ABOUT STATES AND GUESS WHICH STATE I CHOSE.
Colorado.
NOPE.
Hawaii.
NO, I STUDIED THAT STATE LAST YEAR, REMEMBER?
Yes, I do remember. Um, Florida?
YES, I WAS BORN THERE BUT NO, NO I AM NOT STUDYING THAT STATE.
Nebraska.
NO.
OK then I don’t know where.
PENNSYLVANIA, WHERE YOU GREW UP.
Oh that’s ni–
AND GUESS WHAT? I GOOGLED YOU. BECAUSE YOU’RE FROM PENNSYLVANIA.
(blinking blinking blinking blinking blinking)
AND GUESS WHAT CAME UP?
(blinking blinking blinking blinking blinking)
DID YOU HEAR WHAT I SAID, MOM? I GOOGLED YOU.
(clears throat) Yea … um …

Now, I tell folks, college students especially, to Google themselves and how you really need to be in charge of and shape your online persona, etc etc etc. So my own words, often spoken in classrooms, rang in my ears when I heard my own offspring tell me she had Googled me. There are just certain things that sounds really weird when they come out of your child’s mouth for the first time. Curse words, for one. Really fancy words they are trying out. Any word you didn’t use when you were their age, like “text” as in “Can you text Paige’s mom to see if you can have a sleepover?”

And here she was, telling me she had Googled me and read things I’ve written and saw photos I posted. Including a photo of her.

I SAW A PHOTO OF THAT TIME I CRASHED MY BIKE AND I SPLIT MY LIP OPEN.
Oh yea?
I CANNOT *BELIEVE* YOU PUT THAT ON THE INTERNET.
Oh yea?
YEA THAT WAS REALLY EMBARRASSING, MOM.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you.
WHY DID YOU EVEN DO THAT?
Well, I just —
I CANNOT BELIEVE I STILL HAVE A SCAR FROM THAT. IT WAS PRETTY BAD.
I know. But I’m glad you’re OK now.

 

What does it all mean? It means The Kid knows about things like Facebook, the Internet, Googling people, texting, and that I write and post pictures online and sometimes it’s about her, about us. Like I’m doing RIGHT NOW. Is this how generations before me felt about rock n’ roll? About tattoos? About other new fandangled things that don’t make any sense and feel kind of scary and unknown when put into the hands of our children? And will one day she blog/Facebook/Instagram/insert new fandangled social media outlet here about me?

It’s just weird. #holdme

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