Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monogamy Waltz

If you swapped cars with your husband for a day, slipped into the driver's seat, looked across to the passengers side and saw an unprofessional looking CD called, the Monogamy Waltz, what would you think?

If you turned on the car, the stereo came on, and said unprofessional CD was playing those monogamy waltz's, where would your mind go?

I scanned the package. No names I recognized. No reasons. Nothing.

What is going on with my husband?

This feels two steos awat from the promise keepers.

I will keep you posted...

Mango Rash

When I first tasted a mango, I fell in love. I lived in Seattle, was shopping at the PCC, came across it, cut it open and sucked it right out of the skin.

It was, quite simply, the most amazing thing I had ever tasted. I plunged my face into that fleshy fruit and ate it and sucked it and devoured it.

Twenty four hours later--or less--I developed a strange rash all around my mouth. I made no connection. But I looked really weird and contagious--like a sick clown.

When I went to the U Dub clinic they said I had mango rash. Unbeknownst to us of the colder climes, mangos have a toxic agent in their skins like poison ivy. If it touches your skin--or at least the skin of sensitive people like me--it causes a rash, just like poison ivy. Only on your lips. Horrific!

The doc called in the residents and they all stood around me and stared and probed and looked. Amazing. What a mango can do.

That should have been the end of mangoes for me, but I love them too much to steer clear.

And now my boys love mangoes. I hate peeling them, and I always tell them the story of mango rash, and I cut them far away from the skin, because they, too, have sensitive skin. Especially my fair-haired Benji.

So the other day we went a little crazy. We had two or three mangoes. The Mexican and the Indian, the yellow and the red. We compared and savored.

And today, as I woke up and licked my lips I felt the tell-tale itching around my lips.


So itchy. So awful. And I still don't think I could turn down a mango if someone handed me one.

(I will NOT show you a photo).

Friday, March 25, 2011

Today I am Tired

The endorphins carried me through Thursday. My body is no longer sore. I did yoga this morning and stretched out. But I am tired. So tired.

I feel like I could go to bed now and not wake up til Sunday.

Recipe to Beat the Blues

If you are down, or beat, or blue and need to get out of your funk, I invite you to come to LCW for morning sing.

There, every Friday morning, 88 kids will sing with their wacky/cool music teacher Matt. Parents line up along the back and sides, sipping coffee, holding younger siblings, dragging visiting grandparents, and they try, they just try NOT to sing.

The children sing Willie Nelson, Miss Piggie, and A LOT of Beatles.

When you hear a school full of five to nine year olds belting out "Dear Prudence, won't you come out to pla-a-ay" you cannot be sad. You sing, too. And the world just feels sweet.


Affection was one of Theo's spelling words this week and though he spelled it correctly, his sentence showed he was confused by the meaning. Perhaps he thought it meant "infection"?

I looked at his sentence and asked, "Do you know what affection means?"

He said, "I don't think so."

He was sitting in the nook, doing his homework at the kitchen table. I said, "Slide in."

I said,"This is affection."

I put my arm around him, snuggled close, and kissed him all over.

I said, "Do you understand?"

He said, "I am going to say I do not understand what it means so you will keep doing that."

So much like Jonathan! It could have been Jonathan.

Now that he has mastered the meaning (along with the spelling) he has put it to good use. He asks me at night before bed, and in the morning before school, and when something get him down (like losing his second student council race...): "Mommy, can you give me some affection?"

I say, "Spell it!"

And then I give him some loving.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good-Bye Elizabeth!

I never knew you in your rapturous heyday, I was too young. By the time I came of age, you were just tabloid fodder on grocery newstands.

But I love your passion for life, love, food, men, and your gorgeous lavendar eyes.

And I love these two quotes, which I feel from the heart, and absolutely plan to adopt as my own:

"Enough is never enough."

"My personal philosophy of beauty is to always believe something wonderful is about to happen."


Marathon Aftermath

I was going to upload a picture, but too gross.

First, I was going to upload a picture of my marathon toes. One black and blue. Then a huge blood blister on another toe. And a third that just looks inflamed and sad. But I will spare you.

Then, I was going to upload a picture of my running shoe.

After the marathon as I sat in the car and the rain poured down, flooding the streets, I asked Jonathan if I should take off my shoes. No, he said. Don't.

But my feet had been in soggy shoes for nearly five hours, so I took them off. My left sock was bloody, but so wet I could not find the source of blood. Later I realized I had a huge blister on my heel that rubbed til it bled. But seriously, it never hurt. I guess my body, while ranking all the various pains, said, that blister bleeding on your heel is nothing. Nothing compared to your muscles your chafing torso, and the rest. You know how that is, sometimes you are so in the zone that it is only afterwards that you look down and see the wear and tear on your body. Shocking.

After the race I put my shoes outside, in hopes they would dry. It has really never stopped raining since Sunday--not for more than six hours--so my shoes are still heavy like lead. This morning I decided I would put them in the dryer. They are special shoes now, marathon shoes.

I lifted them up.

My left shoe--the one with the blister and the bloody sock--is so disgusting. It looks like someone wearing the shoe was shot in the leg. The entire back of the shoe is drenched in dry blood. Red, caked, and a lot of it.

They are like dead man's shoes.

Incredible I could run through that.

I think I will take another day off to rest.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pick Yourself

Ok, I am secretly addicted to the blog of Seth Godin, a new-age, rah rah, smarty pants publisher/entrepreneur. I do not even know what he is exactly, but I like his blog, his wisdom, and his big bald head, which you click on to get to his blog (this delights me every time). For where I am right now, he speaks to me.

Yesterday (or sometime in the last couple of days) he wrote this.

It was exactly the topic Jonathan and I have been discussing endlessly these last few weeks, as we did our taxes (how depressingly low our income is!) and assessed our life (we are so happy, but we need to make some serious changes!)

We have always been picked. Picked by the teachers, picked by our friends. We have been picked for great colleges and picked for great jobs. We have been picked for scholarships and honors and friendship. We are grateful. But perhaps being picked keeps you passive.

No one is really being picked right now. If you are waiting to be picked, no matter how talented you are, you could be waiting a long time. You could write books, have a child, train for a marathon, learn a language or an instrument, in the time it might take you to be picked. It didn't used to be that way. But the old institutions are dying, no one knows what is going on, or where the world is going, or what the next model of ANYTHING is going to be, so all the traditional pickers are frozen, unable to do any picking.

This can make you feel really bad about yourself if you are waiting to be picked.

And it is hard to change, if you are used to being adored, courted, told you are smart. If you are used to sitting and waiting for someone to say, "I want you!"

Those days are over. If you want to do something, do it yourself. If you want to make something happen, start now. If you want to be picked, pick yourself.

Seth Godin says it better than I do. But maybe if I write it twice, and you read it twice, we will all do it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just in Case...

You didn't see, here is my Op-ed (no opinion, no editorializing, I promise) about my marathon training.

And, though I never saw them, here is the inspiring story of the two winners.

And just in case you fear I exaggerated the weather conditions on marathon day, check this out.

But if you were here, you know.

Monsoon Marathon

This is me, Mile 16, shot by Erika Quinn, who then jumped in and ran the last 10 miles with me and saved my life!!!!

I finished. I did a marathon. My time was slow, I was so wet I weighed about 800 pounds, and I started crying when I crossed the finish line--combined with some strange emotional asthma attack. But who cares? I finished and I will never do another. I am checking that off my bucket list. Done! I am wearing my marathon medal right now as I type. I think I will wear it all day...even if I go grocery shopping.

The day was insane, from the minute the clock ticked over to 12:01 a.m..

Jonathan returned from a day of writers guild negotiations, and two crazy birthday parties at 12:30 a.m.. At 1:30 a.m. Benji came into our room, stood beside me in the dark and said, "Theo is crying, Mommy."

I went in and Theo was crying in his bed, saying his belly hurt. He is tough, so I knew he hurt.

At 2 a.m. he vomited up three servings of my carbo-load dinner--that is acres of spaghetti, all over his room. I was scared to touch it, because I was so worried I was going to catch a virus in the night.

We cleaned him up, put him to bed by the toilet, and went back to sleep. At 5 a.m. I got up and put on my marathon clothes. J rose with me and drove me to Dodger Stadium in the dark. There was a traffic jam at 5:45 a.m.. He dropped me off and there I was, standing in the chilly pre-dawn darkness with thousands--all of us trying to go to the bathroom one last time!!! J handed me some pepto bismal and I took it. My nerves were out of control.

A woman beside me who had run so many marathons she would not even reveal the number (at least 10, because she rattled off a bunch) said she had decided to run on Thursday to raise money for the Red Cross in Tokyo. How cool. Apparently a bunch of Japanese people were supposed to run a marathon in Japan last week, but with the tsunami, they did not get to run, so Honda, who sponsored the marathon, paid for more than 100 Japanese runners to come to LA to run. They must have thought the tsunami followed them to California when they ran through that deluge. I hope it did not trigger panic again--it was so much rain and cold.

The woman told me to go out slow, and stay conservative until mile 20. Then if I felt strong, go.

The race started late. Then, right as they shot off the gun, the rain started to fall. Big huge drops. Some people shed their Hefty trash bags, so we were running and tripping over them. I kept on my sweatshirt and my big, blue poncho, fished from my ancient bag of backpacking stuff. It was so big you can put a backpack underneath it. It could also function as a sail. We ran down through downtown, China Town, Little Tokyo. It was starting to rain harder, but all of us believed it would end soon. We were happy, and full of energy. There were supposed to be bands and entertainment all along the course, but I think the big bands were afraid they would be electrocuted--so a lot less than was promised. Still, the people who were out to play for us were so amazing it brought tears to my eyes.

On Olvera Street a mini Mariachi band played, all squeezed under a tiny tent. At the top of the hill by Disney Hall a huge band of Kodo drummers slammed out their magnificent rhythms. In the middle of Little Tokyo a strange eccentric man set up his own stage with weird instruments and contraptions and pipes--and played the pipe and the drums and the organ in the rain--belting out "You are my sunshine!"

And the people. They were amazing. The support from all these Angelenos. Of course there were the official volunteers--who were amazing. But there were also all the other people. At Senora de Los Angeles--basically the church for the poor down on Skid Row, people you knew were homeless or barely not, stood and handed us all water. I was so moved.

In Echo Park Latino women chopped up a gazillion oranges as fast as they could, put them in big cooking pans, and stood in the middle of the street handing them out. It felt like pure love.

In Silverlake Jill and Dave and Vivian and Violet came out and cheered me on. Energy!

At Mile 8 I stopped to go to the bathroom. The men went anywhere, on walls, on Dorothy Chandler pavillion, in highway underpasses--but women had to stop, and you had to wait a long time. It was raining harder and harder. When I got out of the bathroom--my enforced 15 minute break--I saw two guys who had started next to me. They were running a mile, then walking for a minute, my exact training schedule. So I latched onto them and we ran.

In Hollywood my beloved husband came out and handed me oranges and ran down Hollywood Blvd. It was starting to rain harder and harder. By now, mile 10, it was getting to be a joke. The rain went between really hard, and torrential. When people threw their cups down after drinking, they would slide into the water and rush along the edge of the road like they were on a river. Just running down Sunset you had to cross pools of water it was so deep it felt like you were fjording a stream in the wilderness. Every drop of us, down to the deepest layer, was wet. My phone wouldn't work--or only intermittently--because it was raining so hard. And J said the entire marathon web site crashed, as millions logged on to try to check the course, and the location of loved ones.

But Erika Quinn, the amazing Erika, jumped in at Mile 16 and ran with us. Now we were four. My running buddies--Rick and Brian (don't know their last names) and Erika. We ran on. She infused us with new energy. She had done a marathon before--but also stayed up til 2 in the morning singing karaoke at a party I had skipped.

On and on and on. My newly forged running buddies said that if we could just make it through the VA hospital grounds at Mile 20 we would be home free. But that place, they said, is the equivalent of LA's heartbreak hill. Just long, slow, uphill, right when you are most exhausted. And it was. We took an extra long walk break there, after the final uphill. On the grounds were what looked like a bunch of semi-deranged vets in camouflage, mostly helping out. But one, who looked especially fierce, saw us, and yelled. "No walking on VA grounds. You gonna walk, get off my property." He was so serious, and so intent, that we started laughing and began to run again.

At Mile 21 I started popping Cliff shots--these weird gummy bear like cubes that are packed with caffeine and who knows what. They are a dangerous, radioactive looking blue. But they did the trick. Erika was supposed to leave (her husband was waiting, trapped in a car in the rain, with three kids five and under) but she was worried J would not make it to the end, so she kept running with us.

At Mile 23 miracle of miracles, Jonathan found me, just as he had promised, without phone or tracking device, and ran the final three with me. Rick ran ahead to beat his time, and Brian, our steady pacer through the whole race hung right behind. We were so close. I knew I would make it. I could feel it. The wind was getting stronger and stronger and stronger.

There was no Mile 25. No marker. No water. And so, for the last two miles, everyone yelled out, "One more mile." But they said it for so long, I began to think I was hallucinating. I was going to be trapped in Mile 25 forever. No matter how far I ran, people were still yelling, "One more mile!" Brian disappeared. Jonathan disappeared. I was alone, and people were still saying, "One more mile!" One guy said, "800 meters!" I could have kissed him. But then the next people were all yelling "One more mile."

The Gods were laughing at me. I was going to die at Mile 25. Worse yet, the rain got harder, and the wind was like a hurricane on the final straightaway.

I finished. I just started crying and had some weird asthmatic attack. All my people were gone. But I did it.

Even now, almost 24 hours later, I cannot believe it.

I guess these were the most insane conditions for any LA marathon ever. It really was like running a marathon through a hurricane. It has never rained this hard for this long. Jonathan said that when he and Benji drove over the Sepulveda pass to Santa Monica it was raining so hard they could not see, and the two of them just starting laughing at the absurdity of it. I ran through that!

I came home. I could not take a cold bath to freeze the lactic acid out of my legs. I was too chilled. J made a fire. I took a shower. I crawled into bed with my sick child, and I lay there, as the rain poured down, and Jonathan cooked barley soup downstairs. I have never smelled anything so delicious in my life. I smelled each ingredient as it went in--mushrooms, garlic, sherry.

I do not know the names of my running companions--but it turned out that the three of us were on KTLA's marathon broadcast. (The boys saw me at home and Benji waved at the television!) By slowing the frame down on Tivo, I was able to get Brian's number--22755. Maybe I can search him down like a detective. Or maybe they can find me through my op-ed piece in the LA Times.

I never saw Gonzalo. I pray he finished well, and that someone he knows sees the story about him and tells him to read it.

As for me. I am basking in my accomplishment. I have never done anything that feels so complete. Usually, when I accomplish some goal, I think, "I want to do that again." Or, "I could have done better." Or, " Next time..." But this time I feel like I did my very best, and I am done. I am moving forward to the next thing. But I regard it as one of my great accomplishments. I NEVER feel like that.

My feet are blistered, I have chafing blisters all over my torso from wet clothing, my body is sore, and I have stuck temporary heating pads on my ankles and knees to relieve pain, but I am proud!

I ran LA's first monsoon marathon!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All Out Body Freak

At the end of a yoga class last week a man warned me: Your body does crazy things in the final week before the marathon.

He said the week before his he ate carbs, felt bloated and off, and basically felt worse than he had during his whole training period. I will be different, I thought. My body just needs a break.

But here I am. I have done my last training run. There is nothing else I can do. My only job is to rest. And my body is freaking out. Or is it my head?

I have a stomach bug that keeps me up and makes me feel slightly nauseous. I can barely eat. Daylight savings time was last week and I can't sleep, no matter how early I crawl into bed. I can't get up in the morning, either.

And after four months of my knee never twinging a bit in the tearing meniscus region today it started feeling weird. I can't !@#$#%# believe it?

Can my hyper-imaginative head with new extra energy be causing these problems? Am I hallucinating? Or is pulling back actually allowing my body to break down--like when you fall apart after exams because your body is done.

Is my body giving out too early?

I haven't run yet!!!!

I will keep trying to eat good food, go to sleep early, take aspirin to keep swelling in my knee down. Perhaps I will just wear running shoes everywhere I go.

I am flummoxed. But there is nothing I can do but rest.

The germs, the knees, the training--it is out of my hands.

Send me good vibes. Oh, please, let me finish this race! (In one piece, not permanently damaged...)

Three Days to Race Day and What Do I Eat?

Three days to race day and I am panicking. I did not do as I was told and practice eating various powerful, chemical substances to power me through my superhuman quest to finish the marathon.

There is much disagreement about what to eat, but the one thing EVERYONE agrees on is this: do not mix it up on race day. Stick to what you know works for you or things could seriously backfire and you could have who knows what running down your leg.

Our supersonic babysitter, who is a nutritionist, actor and two-time marathon runner suggested going natural. She said drink coconut water, eat dates and oranges. The natural sugars will convert to energy fast. She said after 90 minutes you need something. I tried her recipe on my 20 mile run. It was the first time I had eaten anything and what a difference it made. I felt great. For my next few runs I stuffed dates into my jog bra and munched a date a mile for the final five or so.

Oranges are good, too.

But when I quizzed her more she admitted that she never actually ran a marathon on all natural substances. That was before her high nutrition days and she ate power bars as fuel. If she did it now, that is what she would eat. Untested.

Everyone else I know eats gu, or some chemical gel loaded with caffeeine. Even my internist, who turns out to be a marathoner, told me caffeine shots can improve your time by 7-10%. I was starting to panic.

So last weekend I bought a huge supply of Gu. I slipped gu into my new running fanny pack Sunday (my final long run), with six little elastics especially designed to carry gu. When I reached for the gu at mile six it was gone. I think it fell off my belt before I left the house.

So Tuesday morning on my second to last run I decided to try it pre-run. I ripped open the packet and squirted the tri-berry caffeine gu into my mouth. The taste was so awful it made me gag. I almost threw up! I literally cannot get it down.

Now I was scared. What if I start to collapse and I cannot consume these chemical substances that keep everyone going? What is wrong with me?

In rising terror I messaged my cousin, who has done more marathons and triathlons that I can count. He responded by writing me this hilarious and clever poem.

I will carry his poem with me when I run. I will read it to my fellow runners at the starting line. I wish I could post it on the LA Marathon web site.

I have a stomach bug now, so all I can eat is coke and crackers. ARGHH.

But at least I have a poem. And some wise advice.

Thank you, Michael.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Love at 5

Theo found his soul mate at Canyon School, when he was three years old. He can still see that girl all these years later and they have some deep bond that no one can touch. It is as if they knew each other in another life. We adults all step back in awe. When you see it, you cannot deny its existence.

But Benji never had a soulmate like that.

Until now.

This year in kindergarten he found Avery. She is so cute that everyone who sees her is smitten. Teachers, parents, other children, every boy in her class, and the principal, too. She is half-Filipino with red red cheeks a heart-shaped face. She is quiet, but then smart and intelligent like an adult.

Benji says she is his best friend. And yes, she says he is hers. They sit beside each other at their table, and on the carpet.

She has come over to play a few times.

She came over Friday, and I got to see my proud son in courtship mode, showing her everything that matters deeply to him.

"These are our plants," he said, showing her our herb garden. "Do you want to water with me? I will water the strawberries. You can water everything else..."

Then, as they sat eating popsicles Benji finished first.

"Would you like me to play a song for you on the piano?" he asked her. He laid out all his music books on the floor and asked her to pick one. She did. And the serenade began.

"Mommy, sing with me," he shouted imperiously, like a night club performer. So I stood behind and sang. Then Avery sat perched beside him on the piano bench like a Forties film star, legs crossed, sitting almost side saddle, leaning into him while he played.

They finished off playing with Benji's remote control car. Benji would control it and try to catch her, chasing her around the house with his remote control dune buggy. She shrieked for joy and laughed uncontrollably.

Love at 5.

It is the sweetest thing ever.

I swear, it nearly broke my heart.

May he always be so free and open with his emotions, sharing his plants, his music, and his remote control technology!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Words of Comfort from Dr. Seuss

(stolen from Theo)

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose."

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you."

"From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere."

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

"Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way."

"If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good."

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent."

"So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads."

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed."

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

And, if you want to do the assignment...which do you like, and why?

Words of Comfort from My Hubbie

"Sandra Day O'Connor took five years off to be with her kids. Enjoy it."