Monday, April 16, 2012

(Half)Marathon Musings

I'm not really a runner like you think of when you think of real runners. I'm an accidental runner. I picked it up in my late 20s when I thought I wanted to be a cop. Cops run. I ran. I ran for about a mile and thought I would die. 10+ years later I'm no cop, but I do like to run. 

I'm not sure if all runners have neurotic pre-race thinking, or if it's just me. Either way, here's a bit of what went on in my head the night before and day of my most recent race. It starts with "the shirt"- the sporty shirt given to runners when we pick up our race materials. 


I should wash the shirt. I'll wear the shirt. And it should be clean. It should smell like Tide, not new shirt. Are other people going to be wearing the shirt? Maybe I shouldn't wear the shirt. What if a whole bunch of us are wearing the shirt and then someone shows up to cheer for me but can't tell me apart from the other thousands of people wearing the shirt? (Will thousands be wearing the shirt?) Maybe it's not cool to wear the shirt. Yeah. Last race I saw other people not wearing the shirt. They looked like better runners. Faster. They had cooler shirts. Like I-Don't-Care-About-The-Free-Shirt lookin' tanks and stuff. Their own shirt. I should wear my own shirt. A tank top, I guess. What if it's too cold for a tank top? A pull-over? I can tie it around my waist if I get hot. I won't want to run with a big ol' pullover around my waist. What am I thinking? The shirt seems warmer than a tank top. What if the shirt's too hot? Shit. I need to wash the shirt. I wonder if other people are washing their shirts. I can't wear the shirt. Should I wear the shirt?

Ok. No shirt. I'll wear this tank top. Now, what about shorts? Too cold for shorts? Maybe I'll wear these. They come down to my knees. I'll be too hot, won't I? Probably. Ok. Shorts. Shit. What if I have an accident? Shorts will hide nothing. Nothing. What about these shorts with a skirt thing over it? I saw some nuns wearing something like this in the ocean once. Will I look like a running nun? Do nuns run? Do they have accidents while running? I don't want to be a running, pooping nun. How is it that I'm too old to wear a mini-skirt, but I'll run in this? Which is essentially like a mini-skirt with shorts under it. Screw it. I'll wear them.

Did I eat enough carbs? I had a shitload of pasta yesterday. Did I poop? I didn't poop. Oh no. What if I poop on the run? People do that, don't they? They go, like, right there? While running? Oh please, God. Don't let me be one of those people. Should I take an immodium before I leave? I'll get all bloated. Are other people thinking about this right now? No. Probably not. They're probably pooping. Why aren't I pooping? I'm never going to poop. Except while I'm running. I really, really don't want to do that. Maybe I need to eat more.

I should make a playlist on my i-Pod. Yes. A playlist just for this run. Eh....I listen to that song too much. Eh....I don't really like that band anymore. Eh.....this one's too slow. That's a good one. Should it be later in the playlist? Or first? Later? First? Maybe I don't even want to listen to it. Delete it. it back on. How many songs do I have now? Two. Shit. I need almost 2-hours worth. Okay. Haunted When the Minutes Drag. Good first song. Then, right into some Radiohead. Yes. No. Slower. Andrew Bird into Radiohead. Wait. Maybe some old-school rap. No. Al Green? Shit. Wait. Hanson. Fuck. Why do I always sneak MmmBop into every playlist? It's just going to make me mad when I hear it. Okay. Just put some songs on there. Go. Do it. Hurry. You need to get up in like 6 hours. 


What the hell time is it? 4:30? This is stupid! Getting up early is stupid. Running is stupid. Getting picked up at 5:30 is stupid. Wait...maybe I have time to poop. I don't need to poop. Sweet Lord! Please make the poop happen before getting picked up! Wait! Oh no. What if I have to go on the way down there? Do I ask my ride to pull over? Has anyone ever asked him to pull over so they could go poop before? Probably not. How embarrassing. Oh, man. This is going to suck. Wait. Maybe I won't have to go! But if I don't, I'll probably have to go while I'm running. Do people wear diapers while running? Probably. I don't have any diapers. I'm not going to wear diapers. I'm loosing it. Get up. Take a shower. Now. Eat a banana. Eat some cereal.

Water bottle.
Money for parking.
Safety pins.

Okay. Let's go.


I need some of those compression socks. What are they for, anyway? That dude is wearing some. He looks fast. That chick has some on her arms. What the hell? Do I need those? Maybe I need those. My arms are going to rot off without those. Dang it. Poor arms.

Oh. Okay. We're kind of squishing in here. I see how it is. No problem. So sorry. That was your butt. Totally an accident. Believe me. Don't flatter yourself. How many people are wearing the shirt? I just made eyes with that dude. We both nodded. I think we were complimenting each other for not wearing the shirt.

My nose is nearly touching the neck hair sticking out of the back of the shirt in front of me. That's nasty. Where are the bathrooms? Do I have time to go? Do I have to go? I don't. Okay. I? I might. No....wait. Dang it. I don't have time. Everybody's bouncing around like they're on speed. Or is it cocaine? I can't remember. But this isn't right. It's like we're all barefoot on hot coals. Bouncy-bouncy-bouncy-arm-shaky. What's that arm shaky thing about, anyway? Should I shake my arms? I need some of those compression things. What the hell are they for? I need some.

Oh...More squished. Here we go. The announcer is getting all psyched up and there's a lot of cheering going on. Okay. I get it. Let's get going here.



Oh, for chrissake. We're like old people shuffling onto an elevator, here.

Bigger step.
Bigger step.

Here we go!


and....we're jogging.

This feels good.

Oh yeah. Here we go. Nice beat.
Dart around this guy. And this guy. And this lady.  (Holy shit. Is she really wearing a tutu?) And this lady. And this guy. Oh. Gum. I need gum.


Mile 1:
This is totally awesome. I forgot how great it is to run with a big crowd. Magical. We're alive. Like a big moving being.
Mile 3:
If this were a 5K, I'd be done about now. Keep going! Feels great. Follow that lady. She seems to have a good pace.
Mile 5:
Um. Wait a second. These hills are stupid steep. Okay. No problem. I can do it. Wait! I haven't even thought about pooping! I think this might be a poop free run! Thank you, Lord. Did someone just scream my name? Multiple someones? Wait. Is that? Sheri? And Erin? Holy shit. That's Stacee! Louise? Wave at them! Do it! Lift your arms, woman!
Mile 7:
It's been over an hour. I can do a lot in an hour. Really. Watch most of a movie. Take a nap. Drive to Illinois and back. And what have I been doing? Running. Just running. This is ridiculous.
Mile 9:
Oh, for crying out loud! We're all still running. What in God's name? We're idiots, that's what. "Run like a Kenyan!" that sign just said. You run like a Kenyan. You. And tie a rope to my waist and pull my butt to the finish line, will you? Who just yelled my name? Hey! It's Linda! That's awesome. Whoa. That just put some major pep in my step. Leap, lady. Big strides. You're gazellin' now.
Mile 11:
Okay. I'm ready for this to be over. I ate that nasty-ass Gu awhile back, shorted out my i-Pod when I dumped water all over it at the last water station, lost my pacer, and I'm pretty sure my sports bra is working like a nail file across my underboobs right now.
Mile 12:
Just....keep...going. Really. Don't be a sissy. The whole-marathoners aren't even 1/2 done yet. What do you have to complain about? Is that lady really passing out little Dixie cups of beer? I just licked my face. It's salty. Like a salt lick. A yummy salt lick. It's totally okay for me to lick my face for the last mile, isn't it? I'm going to.
Mile 13: line....
Seriously......does someone.....keep moving.....the finish line....back?......100 more

and across the finish line....I.....go.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Letters to My First Students

A charter school in North St. Louis City- since closed.
2001-2001 school year.

Dear Tremon,
Remember when you crawled under my desk and began eating crayons at a furious pace and then bit and scratched me while yelling "F***ing faggot!" over and over again? That was silly. I still have a crescent moon-shaped scar on my left hand from your fingernails or teeth.

Dear Tre'Sean,
You taught me that "pink is for pimps." I'm not sure what that really means, exactly, but you made it pretty clear during a lesson on about colors. You also accidentally spilled the beans about your daddy being a drug dealer. No wonder you were so angry all of the time.

Dear Sheron,
Remember when I got a police officer to come talk to the class, and upon his removal of his hat and jacket you yelled, "TAKE OF YOUR PANTS!" Yeah. Please don't ask police officers to take of their pants, honey.

Dear Nelson,
I hope you're still dropping to the ground in the middle of class, kicking your legs up in the air, and making dinosaur noises. I'm not sure what that was all about, but I kind of enjoyed it.

Dear twins Raymoni and Jaymoni-
I hope you now know what the word "irony" means, and I also hope that you finally learned how to rhyme.

Dear Latray,
One time I drove you home and you found my wedding album in the back seat of my car. I had been divorced for about a year. Looking through it, you paused and said, "I know what it feels like to be unsure." When I asked what you meant you said, "Well, you look unsure in this picture. And I know what that feels like. To be unsure." I was unsure in that picture. It struck me as the most profound thing I'd ever heard a kid say. Are you still that intuitive?

Dear Shawn,
I like how you used to get really mad at me and suddenly, almost uncontrollably and against your will, give me the finger. I hope you're not doing that in high school, though. It probably wouldn't be as cute.

Dear Labrianna,
First of all, you had the voice of an 80-year-old smoker, and this was a little alarming. That and the fact that you cussed like a sailor. What 5 year-old says, "PUT ME THE F*** DOWN, YOU MOTHER F***ER!" when someone tries to hoist them up to reach the drinking fountain? You. That's who. I hope you have that temper under control, sweetie.

Dear Steven,
You said to me "I know what that says "No ad..mi..ttance. Staff o...nly." And you were right. And being the only kid I had who could read at all, it nearly made me tear up right there in the lunch room. Please tell me you're class president somewhere.

Dear Asia,
I tried to get you help. Someone knew. I did.

Dear Corey,
It was me who was responsible for you getting hotlined. Mothers aren't supposed to leave bruises and pinch marks all over their child's body. I hope my classroom felt like a safe place for you.

Dear Jade,
You were really upset that people were talking about me. You ran to tell me during recess with big, fat tears in your eyes. It turns out that "people" were calling me white, and this devastated you. Guess what...

Dear MiQueal Pillow-Smiley,
You have the most fantastic name of any student I have ever taught or will ever teach in the future.

Dear Keith,
You showed up in my classroom with no adult or older sibling to introduce you. We could hardly understand the mumbles that came from your mouth, and for the first few months, I called you "Nyah-Nyah," because that's what I heard you saying. Turns out your name was Keith, but your family called you "Man-Man." You were saying "Man-Man." I wonder if you go by Keith now.

Dear Everyone Listed Above and All Other Students Not Listed,
I took your dirty clothes home and washed them. I purchased tiny little blue pants and skirts and tiny little white shirts. Tiny belts. Tiny socks. Tiny shoes. Tiny underwear. Snacks for snack time. Pillows for nap time. I hit the "play" button on the cd player and let Norah Jones sing you to sleep while I went around and tucked each one of you in. "Have a good sleep. Have a good sleep." I repeated this over and over and touched each of your heads. I wanted you to know that peaceful sleep was possible and that you were loved. Some of you would continue to stare at me until your lids got too heavy to remain open. Each slow blink= yes, I'm still here. Yes, I'm still here. Yes, I'm still here.

Yes, I'm still here.

Yes, I'm still here.

Yes, I'm still here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

10 Things Hair Can't Really Do

1) Stir Soup.
If you dipped then end of your ponytail in some soup and tried to give it a stir, I don't think you'd be pleased with the results. I guess if you had a whole lot of hair and some shellac, you could make some kind of stirring device. Unless shellac melts in hot soup. Then you're just back to swirly hair. Which really, no one wants in their soup. So, I'd say no. Hair would not make a good soup-stirrer.

2) Get you out of a traffic ticket.
I've heard it said that busty ladies can arch their backs and get all bustier and perhaps the officer who pulled them over won't write a ticket. I can arch my back all I want. Nothing sexy or busty happens at all. I just look like I'm trying to suppress a belch, which officers don't find sexy. I can imagine shaking my head back and forth to show my shiny hair or even grabbing the officers hand and making him pet the top of my head- neither of which I think will end with him not writing me a ticket. Officer =1. Hair = 0.

3) Stop a train.
If pennies on a track won't stop a train (experiment circa 1987), I'm pretty sure a wad of hair won't. I guess you could take a bunch of hair and try to make some sort of train-stopping net to go across the track, but I'm pretty sure the train would just bust right on through it. Aqua-Net, maybe. That could do it. But that's cheating, I think. You have to just use hair.

4) Provide a good substitute for contact lenses.
Take a piece of hair and swirl it around until you have a nice circular shape. Now, pop that in your eye. Open your eye if you can. Look around. Is your vision clearer? I didn't think so. You can't see very well through hair and it doesn't feel so good under the lids, either. I will not put hair in my eyes when I run out of contacts.

5) Relieve a sore throat.
This would involve gargling. Gargling with hair. I don't have cats, but I'm not unfamiliar with their hair-gargling, and perhaps that is to soothe their little throats. But I'm really thinking it through, and I can't see gargling with hair (1) working and (2) making me feel any better. Even if your hair were minty or echinacea-y or whatnot. It's still hair.

6) Pay your cab fare.
Get in a cab. Give desired location. Watch rain dance down window as you're driven through the streets. Smell stale cigarettes. Arrive at location. Pull out a clump of hair and hand it to the driver. Open the door to exit. Pull a smaller clump out and hand it to the driver and say, "I forgot the tip. Here. Keep it." Run.

7) This one's not appropriate for print.  But, trust me. I just pictured about 5 things hair couldn't do and if I mentioned them, I could never see another one of you in public again. Give it some thought. Picture something. Ew! Right? See? Hair does not work. Repeat thought process 4 more times for 4 different results. Blech. There's another thought. I must move on.

8) Defend you in court.
After the first lawyer gets up and makes you feel like a total ass, the judge is all, "It's your turn, hair." And then the hair just sits there on the table or on the floor or wherever it is. Even if you hold it up so everyone can hear what it has to say, it's just hair and no one will take it seriously. Or be able to hear it. Because hair doesn't talk or defend people in court. So it's about now that you realize all of the money you've shelled out is going to get you nothing but time in jail. Hair would be a useless defender.

9) Grade papers.
I put a piece of hair on a big stack of essays the other day and then left for a long run. I was really clear about what that hair had to do while I was gone and I put a pen within reach. When I came back, the hair was still in the same place and not a single essay had been graded. The pen didn't look like it had moved at all and hair was laughing at me. That last part isn't exactly true, but all the other parts are.

10) Go get help in the case of an emergency.
God forbid I ever fall down and really need some assistance. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that hair is narcissistic and downright rude and has no intention of helping anybody out when they need it. I don't know about your hair, but if it's anything like mine, I'm fairly certain that lying in a pile of my own fluids, hair would relax into itself and be totally content to laze about while I work myself into a panic. Thanks for nothing, hair.