Saturday, November 26, 2016

When Turkeys Try to Fly

Last weekend, on a road in rural Maryland, I spotted some strange-looking birds in a small flock beside the road.  Too large to be crows or blackbirds, not quite ugly enough to be vultures, I decided they were some type of strange-looking turkey.  The fact that a couple of them flew a small distance into the air further complicated the discussion in the vehicle because, after all...turkeys can't fly.  Or can they?  I insisted they could...but only when they have to...for example, when it prevents their death or dismemberment by minivans hurtling down the road.

Fast forward a few days to Thanksgiving, and the myriad of races and running events unfortunately titled as a "turkey trot."  (There's something in my middle school brain that wants to snicker at the thought of turkey causing the trots, but this post is not about potty humor.)  I had signed up for one of these trendy 5Ks on a whim.  (I get these ideas sometimes lately in which I either think I'm better equipped for something than I really am, or in which I decide that I don't give a rat's ass what people think about me, both of which are anomalies in my brain.  The trouble happens when both of those moods hit at once, as they did when I saw that a friend had signed up to do this race.  It's a cliche, but it sounded like a good idea at the time.)

Anyway, I was signed up for this race, which was to benefit a great cause, The Valley Children's Advocacy Center.  I thought, somewhat stupidly, that 3.2 miles sounds a lot better than 5K, even though they're equivalent.  And I thought, "Ehhhh, two miles is easy...three shouldn't be that much worse."  But as race day approached, my Negative Nancy inner self kicked in.  The idea of the event itself loomed over me.  For someone with a raging case of social anxiety, showing up alone at any event is a daunting task, much less to an event such as this one, in which I'd be very out of my element.  Combine that with a real fear of being the very last person to finish as everyone else gawked at the fat girl finishing awkwardly...well, I chickened out, apologies to all of the maligned fowl.  My internal struggle was real.  Half of me knew that I'd never forgive myself for not going, and half of me just wanted to avoid it at any cost.  As is par for the course, Ms. Self-Doubt won easily. After all, they had my money, what did it matter?

When the alarm went off, I turned it off.  I was just going to go back to sleep and pretend I wasn't supposed to be somewhere.  But then my phone beeped with a "good luck" text message from someone whose opinion I value highly...who also happens to be a coach.  And I begrudgingly told him I wasn't going to go.  He didn't accept that answer, and guilted me in his own special way into getting out of bed and getting dressed, which I did.  I put my big girl panties and my sports bra on, sucked up my growing fear and social anxiety, and went to the event.  At that point, I thought I had the hard part behind me.

What followed was the absolute hardest physical thing I've ever done in my life, and by the time I reached the 1.5 mile mark of the brutally hilly course, I was ready to quit.  Instead of urging myself on and telling myself I could do it, my survival instincts kicked in and I started threatening to cut across the middle or hitch a ride with the event staff in their golf carts.  I was miserable, physically, and growing more and more anxious by the step, as more and more people passed me and left me in their dust.  Even the moms pushing strollers and the guy on crutches easily left me behind.  Each time I heard cheers from the finish line, I wanted to run...or crawl... in the other direction.  The Fat Girl Finishes Last Phobia was in full swing by this point, which made my labored breathing and racing heartbeat all the more difficult to deal with.  And the farther behind I got, the more I wanted to quit.  Fortunately, I had another "coach," who wouldn't let me quit.  He walked with me the whole time, when he easily could have run all or part of it.  He stopped halfway up the most vicious of hills to give me pep talks when I wanted to quit, and he shook his ass cutely at the top of the hills to encourage me to get there in spite of my pain and quivering legs.  Without him, I'd probably still be sitting somewhere along the 10th or 11th hole.

I finished the "race."  I finished--dead last, what I thought was my worst fear.  204th out of 204.  One hour, 13 minutes, and 37 seconds, according to official chip time.  That's a 23 minute mile, not that anyone is counting.  The guy on crutches finished eons ahead of me, as did all of the Stroller Moms. Behind me, I had my own little embarrassing motorcade of golf carts bringing up the chance of me sneaking stealthily across the line and to my car unnoticed.  But.  I.  Finished.  I finished in spite of my shit hip, and in spite of the fact that in order to make it an even playing field, some of the participants would have to carry each other on their backs.  I finished in spite of the fact that it was an emotional struggle to even get there, and in spite of the fact that I was literally in tears behind my sunglasses through a lot of it.  I finished.  And I made people proud of me in the process...all of my coaches, my tiny little cheering section.

What does this have to do with turkeys?

Well, turkeys don't fly because they think they can't.  They're clumsy, and top-heavy, and nobody has ever told them that they can.  They only get short bursts of energy that they can utilize.  In fact, only the wild ones can and will fly, and the others have been bred not to.  Turkeys fly when they need to, not for fun, and they're awkward and silly looking when they do it.  They'll never catch a falcon or an eagle, and they'll never impress anyone when they fly.  But they'll do it, sometimes, and they might even get better at it if they keep trying.  Until then, they'll trot.

Monday, September 05, 2016

"I'm Just a Girl in the World"

I just joined a fantasy football league.  And by joined, I mean stomped my feet and bitched and moaned until I was begrudgingly allowed to take over an abandoned team.  It only took me about two weeks of whining about it, and all along, I was thinking, "You'll just be kicking my ass every week, isn't that a GOOD thing?"  I mean, I just really improved the odds of winning for every other person in the league!  How can that be bad?

I don't know much about football.  Go ahead, say it.  It's because I'm a girl.  Pfffffft.  I know that I have a team I've rooted for since 1986 that I loyally hold onto, even though they suck.  I know that I like to look at football pants.  I know enough about the rules to get by, and I know team colors and mascots... Hell, I even like watching it!  But what I don't know is the necessary information for competitive play in a fantasy league.  Is that because I'm a girl?  Maybe.  Boys seem to have this innate ability to remember stats and positions and who's injured and who got traded...and I just don't.  I could tell you what I remember, but then I'd get sidetracked talking about Odell Beckham's tattoos, and that's just... not productive right now.  But I'm not sure if it's due to the male/female brain thing, or if it's about the learned skills that society has drilled into our brains.

So, why, then, did I want to play?  Simple.  Because I wasn't asked.  The guy running the thing invited every dude he ran into to play, and treated me like chopped liver.  He said it was because I didn't know anything about football....although he never bothered to ask, and we'd never discussed it. But he didn't ask those guys either...he just assumed they did.  Not because of football knowledge...but because of  Grrrrrrrrrr.

I don't know why I got my panties in a wad over gender inequality for such a trivial topic.  I mean, who really CARES about points in an imaginary league with no real bragging rights for a win?  But it seemed like the more I was denied the opportunity, the more I wanted it.  And the more I was denied that opportunity, the more I wanted to argue about other instances of gender inequality that got me fired up...all of them stupid, and trivial, but somehow really meaningful at the same time.  Like being in a room full of guys and the host asking only the MEN if they'd like a shot of bourbon.  I frigging LOVE bourbon, and I'm RIGHT HERE!  Somehow my skirt, or my boobs, disqualified me.

I was fired up over dress codes last week, too.  Reading articles such as this one and this one and seeing comments from friends who have daughters really made me thankful to have a boy (the responsibility just changes a bit).  I remember being fussed at, shamed, for not wearing a bra in my own house frequently in my adolescent years, and how bad that felt, like it was my fault I had boobs.  Like I was supposed to remember to stop to put a bra on under my pajamas before I went to eat my Fruity Pebbles and watch The Smurfs.  Hell no.  Flagrant all means, I'll address those.  But otherwise, kids are doing the work I assigned and not bothering me or each other, so I don't care.  If the boys are distracted, give them more to do and whack them over the metaphorical head with a good case of "act like you have some sense."  It might seem like it's about spaghetti straps, but it's not.

It's human to look and appreciate.  That's not lost on me, as a mere girl. After all, Odell and his ink, and those football pants...well, golly.  I do a lot of looking and appreciating, but it stops there. Anyone who says "boys can't help it" is risking a fight with me, though, because boys CAN help it.   They can help making girls feel bad because her boobs are bigger than the other girls'.  They can help not choosing girls to play on their teams...or in their leagues...because they "don't know shit about football. "  They can help assuming that girls don't drink bourbon, and that girls are there to sit and be pretty, but not be distracting, mind you!  There's that double effing standard that means that we can NEVER win, no matter what we do.  They CAN help it, and they need to be taught to, and so help me, if anyone ever says about MY son, "He can't help it, he's a boy," I'll teach everyone in the room how to help it.

I actually started this post with the idea of writing about how I prefer the company of men to women.  About how it's easier for me to be comfortable when I only have to worry about witty banter and not the conversation at a "hen party."  About how I'd rather be clueless and at a fantasy draft than on level ground and at a Lularoe party...or Pampered Chef...or any of those other approved "girl" things. About how that comes from being raised with a pack of wolves...I mean, an only girl, and from watching the men in my family retreat to the dining room to discuss important family issues while the women did the dishes.  Clearly, they couldn't be trusted with input, but Saran Wrap?  Yeah, we can let them handle that.  It's all of the above, and more.  And I'm just a girl in the world, giving props to Gwen Stefani for today's soundtrack.  (Just press play and turn up your volume, girls.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dear Rick Springfield...

Dear Rick,
     I'm a terrible girlfriend.  I have put my own needs ahead of yours for the last time. You see, you have been there for me on oh-so-many occasions. You've never let me down. You've been on time for our dates throughout the years, and the words you've said to me have meant so, so much. You've given me hugs when I needed them, and shared your soul.  But I suck.  At the first sign of inconvenience, I bailed on you.  Stood you up.  Left you hanging.

I blame it on old age.  Years ago, pre-kid, the eight-hour drive to Myrtle Beach on a Friday night for a Saturday night show didn't even cause me to blink twice.  And that one paid off, in spades.  You wrapped your arm around me like an old friend while I tried not to pass out.  And it was a great night.
But I'm sure you understand.  You'd understand that the last couple of weeks have been very trying for me.  You'd understand the need to recharge and just exist for a little while.  You'd probably even understand that it was a really tough choice for me, one that I'm second-guessing even now, knowing there's no way I could jump in the car right now and drive really fast and still make it to the show tonight.  I don't know if you'd understand the tears I stupidly shed (or that I'm shedding now) when I made that final decision, but then again, that wasn't really about you.  It wasn't even about the waste of the money I spent on Gold Circle seats months ago, when it seemed like Myrtle Beach was the closest you'd come to me. That was about being stuck, straddling a decision like an ever-widening gap, then having to make a quick, final attempt to get both legs on solid ground.  And maybe, just maybe, about knowing you'd been closer and I missed those opportunities, too.

But, see...I don't think I can explain it.  My priorities are just different right now.  It's not that I'm forsaking you for another.  That would never happen.  It's just that I need to focus on myself a little, not in a narcissistic kind of way, but in a hold-myself-together kind of way.  Too many changes in too short a time requiring too much of my physical and emotional energy have just left nothing else.  And I couldn't do it.

So, have a great show tonight.  You'll be on my mind.  I'll be wishing I were center stage for "Human Touch."  I'll be jealous of other women getting Rick-sweated upon.  I'll be wondering if we'd have had a chance to talk before the show, and if Andrew would have gotten to talk to you again and tell you how much he loves "If Wishes Were Fishes" because you drop a couple of F-bombs.  But I'll also be braless in my jammies by about ten o'clock, and my feet will be recovering from wearing dressy shoes to school all week.  I'll be snuggled up with the blankets pulled up to my chin and a glass of the red wine we love so much on my nightstand...and if I want, I can YouTube you from the comfort of my air-conditioned room without worrying about drunks pissing me off, or traffic, or anything else.

And I know you'd understand.
Love, Me

Friday, July 29, 2016

And the Nomination Goes to...

This little nugget started out as a Facebook post, but when I went past three paragraphs, I decided that this was a better venue for my ramblings, and also less likely to get my blood pressure elevated as I was forced to deal with comments from the masses.  We all know I can't ignore things very well, so I'm much better off this way.  The root of it is that I'm not trying to get into a political argument with anyone today, but I AM marking the moment in time for my son, in the hopes that he doesn't have to rely solely on his fading memories in later years, as I do.

You see, he watched the DNC with me all week (the RNC last week, too, because we believe in being well-informed and listening to all sides, and checking facts, even when we don't agree with the opinion), and he stayed up with me last night as well.

He humored me while I told him that someday he will be able to tell his kids that he remembers seeing our first black President speak on the soccer field at JMU after freezing to death for hours and then being disappointed when we didn't get into the official speech in the Convo.
Barack Obama at JMU October 28, 2008

He also humored me while I told him to look around and remember what was happening while Hillary made her acceptance speech as the first female presidential nominee--his father asleep and snoring in the chair, the "porch kitties" chasing moths attracted to the light shining through the window behind the couch, and his sentimental old mom, who was moved to tears and applause, first by Mr. Khizr Khan, then by Hillary's speech.  Don't jump to conclusions, this isn't about Hillary, per se, but because it's been too long in the making.  The fact that I even have to celebrate the nomination of a woman as groundbreaking in 2016 should be cause for dismay.

Save your political comments of disgust or whatever...this isn't about whom I've voted for, or for whom I intend to vote.  This is about moments in history, and I want to make sure he can say, "I remember when..."