Monday, November 30, 2009

New Challenge

I've been lurking at triathlon sites, reading about what it takes to complete a competition, when lo and behold, a friend asked me today if I'd be interested in training for a mini. I haven't wanted to spend the money to go to a gym for use of a pool, so I've not taken the necessary step to really train for something like this. But my friend has access to a pool and can invite a friend. How coinky-dink is this? I jumped on the offer, and by the time I left work today, we agreed to begin training for a mini-triathlon that is scheduled for April 2010. We both registered for the event to confirm our commitment, so there's no turning back. I'm stoked.

I've been running regularly on the treadmill, having decided to run a 10K and having decided to work on improving my time, so the running part is coming along. Last night I ran my first ever 10-minute mile. It felt so good. I've had the treadmill set at a 1% incline ever since the 5K, so I do feel like I'm making headway. My goal with the running part of the mini is to run it under 30 minutes. Since this will be the last part of the competition, I know I'm going to be tired from the swim and the biking, but I have almost five months to train. Hopefully I can increase my stamina during this training period.

The only problem I have right now is no bike. I don't think my three-speed cruiser is really cut out for something like this. Maybe a mini-triathlon bike is what I should ask Santa for for Christmas this year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The movie 2012 is absolutely horrible. It is a complete waste of three hours. I knew it was going to be, but every Thanksgiving we have family movie day, and this year the drawing from the hat went to 2012, which wasn't my choice. I had to suck it up and deal with it, and let me say, dealing with it was painful. I mean come on, an end of the world story involving the oceans rising, arks complete with animals, and a main character by the name of Noah. On top of all this, the message about Christians is very clear: Christians are bad and will be the ones who will bite the dust in the end, as is evidenced by the Christ the Redeemer crumbling and the Vatican disintegrating. Pa-leeze. The best parts of the movie were the few intimate last minute conversations between some individuals. Unfortunately the movie has few of these conversations.

My youngest was unsure about seeing this movie since it is about the world as we know it coming to an end. Things of this nature bother him, so to help him out, I talked him through the movie by discussing the special effects. When it was all said and done, he gave the movie the thumbs down and suggested next time we see a more upbeat flick. I have to agree. I reached the point about a year ago where I decided to stop reading the news, watching the news, and watching downer movies or TV shows. I decided to fill my time with lighthearted and pleasurable activities. I haven't felt like I've missed much. Instead, I've had the most creative time of my life, and I am excited about the many ideas I'm coming up with for future projects.

Speaking of which--I need to work on a chapter of the book I'm writing or I can work on a wire sculpture I've started. Perhaps I'll work on both.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gotta Luv It

The breaking news of the global warming emails that suggest cover up, lies, and deceit, such as Gerald Warner's blog article, just make me say, uh huh, knew it all along. I've been a skeptic from day one, and on occasion I've had some intense discussions with family members. Like many in the global warming believing group, family members play the "all scientists agree" card. I've always thought and said if that's the case we're in trouble. We'd be opening ourselves up to further cover ups, lies, and disingenuous discussion. We need scientists who disagree. We need debate.

Being part of the academy, I know only too well how lonely it can be working where the majority hold opposite beliefs. While I have many friends, I make a point not to get into discussions that include politics, religion, and a whole host of other categories. I sit quietly and let my colleagues who are also my friends carry on their discussions which usually have them preaching to the choir made up of each other. One dear friend often refers to these discussions as "circle jerks." At least he sees them for what they are.

Recently several of us have been going back and forth on a very popular book series that has been turned into movies, creating a cultural phenomenon. While I agree the books-to-movies success has been extraordinary, I don't agree the books and the movies offer anything exceptional. I couldn't get through book 3 in the series, and I thought the latest movie was brilliantly boring. The only fun in going to see it was being with my friends who are completely taken in by all the hype. We still carry on debates about what can be deemed worthy in regards to the books and the movies, and I am the odd person out, but the odd people out are necessary. All sides of an issue should be examined. The more gleened from an issue the better it can be understood.

I know lots of people disagree with me even now, but I'm good with that. I want people to disagree--everyone agreeing would make for a tremendously mind-numbing world.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Peace

In March my middle child experienced a situation at the school he was then attending, which resulted in him being disciplined. He wasn't allowed to participate with the track team, and he was given a written disciplinary notice that went into his file. The situation happened during a field trip, and after much discussion between the parents of some students involved as well as some of the teachers involved, I was convinced the teachers were more at fault than any of the students. It seemed the teachers were not supervising the rather large group of students carefully, which resulted in some of the students behaving badly. My son, though he did not actually participate in the bad behavior, was deemed guilty by association. Needless to say, I was furious with how the teachers as well as the administration of the school handled the discipline. This was the beginning of the end for my son attending this school.

The end of his attending this particular school came after two teachers involved in the field trip incident continued to treat my son badly. I was quite vocal about my feelings about the whole matter, and in response, these two teachers took it upon themselves to do everything within their power to prove to me what a bad child I have. It got so bad that my son refused to get out of bed in the mornings to get ready for school. He refused to do his homework, ending up in tears each evening as we sat at the kitchen table, me encouraging him to continue on, him sitting there with tears on his cheeks. Everytime I asked him to talk to me about what was happening, he would just shake his head. Finally, one day I emailed both teachers, asking them if they could possibly send me the homework assignments so I could have them, look over them before the nightly session at the kitchen table. Both teachers refused to send me the assignments, saying the students spend ten minutes each day copying the assignments into their agendas. My question was while the kids are doing this, why couldn't the teachers use that same time to shoot me an email with the assignments listed? Both replied if they did it for me they would have to do it for all the parents. My answer was, yeah, so and this is a problem why? It's not difficult to make a group email account. It's not difficult to attach documents. It wasn't lost on me that these two just didn't want to work with me. So much for parents being involved with their kids' education.

The day these two teachers refused to help me out, I took my son out of that school and enrolled him in the public school not far from our house. The change has been absolutely dramatic. This 12 year old boy went from not wanting to get out of bed to getting up early to shower, dress, eat, and make sure he had all his schoolwork together. His whole demeanor went from dark and gloomy to sunny and happy. His grades went from C's and D's to A's and B's. At the end of the school year, my son thanked me for taking him out of his old school and putting him in the new school. Today, that boy is still eager to go to school, is earning honor roll grades, and is finding out there are nice, caring teachers out there.

So, why tell all this? Because one of the offending teachers used to be a good friend of mine. We have sons who are in the same grade and are friends. Now, however, we don't speak and our sons don't spend time together outside of school. For awhile I tried to talk to her, tried to mend fences, tried to keep our boys together, but she continues to offer the cold shoulder. She no longer speaks to me unless I make a point to speak to her first. She no longer allows her son to spend the night with my son, and if her son does come over, she will not pick him up herself; she sends her husband or her oldest to get him. I've been very sad about the whole situation. The other day, though, I finally gave myself permission to let it go. I decided she didn't want to be friends any longer and nothing I do is going to change that. I also decided I did not have to be friendly to someone who didn't want me to be. Interestingly enough, at that moment, I saw this individual walking towards me as I was dropping my youngest off at school (he still attends there since that's the only school he's ever attended and all his friends are there). I simply turned the other way and left. A feeling of relief flowed through me, like with this decision I had created a kind of peace for myself.

I like peace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Did It!

I finished my first 5K. I even shaved 1 minute 20 seconds off my usual time. I give that credit to my daughter who pushed me the first mile. After that, I had to slow it down or I wasn't going to make it. Poor Dear Daughter had to reduce her usual pace to stay with me. I told her to go on, to give it her best, but she was very sweet and stayed with me the whole race. Towards the end, my legs were feeling quite tired. I don't usually run outside. I'm a treadmill runner. There's a big difference between running 3 miles outside v. on the treadmill, and I was feeling that big difference kicking in. The last tenth of mile I saw my hubby standing at the corner, smiling big. That's all it took for me to kick it in and finish. Between him and my daughter, I was able to find it within to complete what I set out to do. I'm one lucky woman.

My daughter even told me afterwards, "This is going to be a mother/daughter tradition for us."

I certainly hope it is.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thoughts on Listening

Listening is something I'm good at. I get accused of not saying a whole lot, of being "the quiet one." This is because I'm listening. I'd much rather listen than talk.

I know some people who talk just to hear their own voices. Annoying. Several of these people think they're funny. They're not. They're just irritating. Why do they talk constantly? Are they that uncomfortable with silence?

I love silence. I've noticed I've become very sensitive to the slightest noise. Even the hum of the furnace running gets on my nerves at times. I have to turn it off to get some relief. Some nights I've had to leave my bed because my husband's breathing is too loud. While his breathing is not actual snoring, it's close--ragged, throaty breaths that chase the quiet from the room. Since it keeps me awake, I get up and go to the couch. Sometimes I just go to my computer and work until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'll return to bed because I know then I will be able to sleep despite the noise in the room.

When someone calls me the quiet one, I apologize. What else can I say? It's like I'm being accused of something subversive, so I say I'm sorry. Usually the person will then say something like they can tell there's a lot going on in my mind, that I'm just not saying it. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps I just figure some things are better left unsaid. My motto has always been only speak if whatever it is I have to say is worthwhile. And doesn't hurt the person I'm with.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


The sadness over the suicide of a young man I only met once envelopes me constantly. I keep returning to the thoughts of how much potential no longer exists, of what could have beens won't be realized. Of how beautiful he truly was. Why didn't he see these things about himself?

I keep back the tears, not wanting my family to see the sadness I'm wrapped in right now. I'm not sure they would understand. I don't even understand it myself. I didn't really know him but for the one day I spent enjoying his writing. He gave me a gift that day, and I told all I knew who would apprciate it about that gift. He had a gift to give the world. Why didn't he realize this?

What haunted him so much?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I didn't know him well. I'd only met him once, for a day of writing on campus, a day when area high school students came to enjoy the kind of writing they were interested in. He was one of three students I worked with that day. Yesterday he took his own life.

I remember being awed by him. He was the kind of bright that makes a person just want to sit and chat, hear all ideas because they're good ones. He was the kind of writer that worked magic with words. He just did it. So many of us struggle to put words on paper, but his fingers flew over the keyboard. He had so much to look forward to. Or so I thought.

I don't know the particulars. I don't really want to know. I do know I wish he was still with us.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Getting Nervous

My first 5K is just around the corner, and I didn't run all last week. Stupid. Very stupid. The papers piled up, and I just couldn't justify going out for an hour run with three classes of papers waiting to be read. I've always prided myself on only having student work for a week. Never longer. The result was not having the time to run. Today I got out, took a three-mile walk with the dog, and I could tell I hadn't run in a week. Just walking was difficult.

All week, with the pile of papers, I kept thinking there has to be a better way. Part of me thinks I should lighten up on the week-only rule I have. If students don't get their papers back after a week's time, do they really care? I decided to find out. I kept the papers from one class for a second week, telling the students I just hadn't been able to get to them since there were several parts to the whole project and it was taking me longer than usual to get through the papers. All of this is true. The students' response was no problem, totally undertandable. We just went to work on another project, moving forward in the course, and all is well.

For the next two weeks, I'll be working on getting back to where I was before taking the week off. Hopefully I'm not as out of shape as I thought I was earlier today. I am kind of sad, though, that my running ticker isn't moving as fast as it was through July, August and September. I was really hoping to get to 500 miles by December 31. I'm barely into the 200s, and it's that I just don't have the energy to do the 5 miles each day now that I'm well into the semester. With my work, the kids' school activities, and the usual other stuff, I'm barely able to get in 3 miles a day.

All I can do is what I can do. Two weeks to the 5k. I can do this.