Monday, April 29, 2013

Small miracles.

Dear diary,

Sweet Baboo and I got a cleaning woman.

I'm telling you this, diary, not for bragging purposes but to reveal an evolution in growth. I struggled with guilt for years with the idea, finding it compelling and guilty-inducing, all at the same time. In such a case you have a choice: spend your weekends cleaning, or hang up one of these:

My mom never needed a cleaning woman. Then again, my mom stayed home with me until middle school, when she started a part-time job. I never appreciated clean until I was well into adulthood. I realized then that clean = finding stuff you need instead of searching through piles. But it was too late, I had children.

So here I am, a grownup, and there's something to the notion that

My weekends, which I used to use for deep cleaning, are spent running or flying somewhere to run. This is our hobby. We spend our money going places instead of collecting things, so there's that. Baboo and I are both self-made, and make regular, faithful payments to our students loans. Since we both work for non-profits, we have a small house, cheap cars, all so that we can go places and do things.

Now, I prefer clean, but can usually tolerate a bit of clutter and dust for a week or two....After that, the distress starts growing and I'm compelled to clean. And it's not that I don't like to clean, I do. I love our home and get a fair amount of satisfaction cleaning it up. So much so, in fact, that I will put off running to do it. It's a convenient excuse. i should got run right now, but oh, damn, look at that dust...And therein lies a major problem, i neglect running for weeks on end to conquer dust.

We would come back from a marathon weekend to a cluttered house I would feel distressed and anxious because the house was a mess and I didn't have time to clean it. I started balking at our weekends, and it was around my 48th birthday that Baboo suggested getting help.

DreadPirate had also been after me to try this for quite some time. DreadPirate and her mom Roadrash both used the same woman, so I contacted her. She came over and looked at the house. Her first day would be March 29th, and I waited for it like a kid waits for Christmas.

I honestly didn't expect much would get done, that first cleaning. I was prepared for that. I hold myself out as a pretty good cleaner, given enough caffein, but the back of the house was the most neglected part of the house, and I figured that the kitchen wouldn't even be touched.

I came home early that Friday, mainly because I had worked at least 9 hours on every day that week and I was tired. Was it going to be worth it? How far out of the back of the house would she get?

Unexpectedly, she was still there, and lo and behold, had made her way to the front to the kitchen. I didn't expect that, i expected her to still be in the back of the house. But, I guess if you do this for a living, you get efficient. I didn't want to be in her way so i tiptoed to the back of the house..


holy fuck.

It was clean. Cleaner than I could ever get it, that's for sure. She'd even made the bed in the guest room and straightened up in there. Hissy, our gray tabby, was curled up on the guest bed, and opened one eye to me to signal, I approve. Lily, our scaredy cat, was off somewhere being hysterical, Did you KNOW a stranger was coming in here to clean and move things? Why wasn't I consulted about this?!?

I sat down outside with the Chloe the Wunderdog for a bit, who was more than a little anxious. There's a strange PERSON in our HOUSE. Hey MOM, THERE'S A STRANGE PERSON IN OUR HOUSE!

Eventually, she let me know she was leaving, and then Baboo came home. That night and the weekend was spent discovering things that were now clean and/or dust-free, like our very own Easter egg hunt.

She cleaned the trophies, Baboo said wonderingly.

She cleaned the dust out of the cabinet with the components, I breathed.

Hey, the exercise room is clean! (small bedroom with only a treadmill, full-length dressing mirror, and a tv bolted to the wall)

When I went to open my refrigerator, the door handles felt unusually smooth. Oh, that must be what they feel like when they're clean.

She even made the doggie bed.

The hardest part of all this is working my way through the guilt, and forgiving myself for not being a better house cleaner. That feeling was eclipsed rapidly by feeling like I was in my very own hotel. I was inspired anew to get rid of even more junk. I made a carload trip to goodwill that weekend. We stopped wearing our shoes inside the house.

I'm telling this story because if you have the means, do this for yourself, about once every two weeks is all you need. You may have similar neuroses as did I, but trust me, let that shit go.

The morning after Teresa worked her miracle throughout the house, i sat down at the table, dressed for a run. I looked around for something, anything, to provide an excuse to procrastinate.

There was nothing. Dammit.

So, I went for a run.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If it were easy, it would be your mother.

Dear Diary,

That was on the best-selling shirt at the expo. They sold out. This was the marathon I did Sunday in Texas.

You know, I just love Texas.

I don't want to live there, because spring is about three weeks long in between windy, dry, horrid winter and hot, humid, horrid summer, but for visiting, it's just fine.

I was born in Dallas at Baylor Medical Center. I moved around some with my parents for a few years, but when I started high school, we stayed put. My first two children were born in Dallas. My first husband is buried there. The second one still lives there, just like the old George Straight song. I left Texas in 1991, heartbroken, but returned nine years later with Sweet Baboo when he was doing his psychology internship at the Dallas VA. Sweet Baboo and I were married in a little church near his mother's house just outside of San Antonio. Sweet Baboo is also generally from Texas and played Texas high school football in Wichita Falls.

When I am in Texas, a twang starts to creep back into my speech and I find myself eyeballing whattachicken sandwiches.

Other reasons why ah luuuv Texas:

First off, everyone is so friendly. They just are. As long as you don't say something bad about George Bush or Jesus the entire state is your new best friend. The passive-aggressiveness is even friendly. Why, she's just as lost as a goose, bless her heart.

Second, in April, there are bluebonnets.

Third, everyone there is crazy about soldiers and gives military members steep discounts. The state is just full of Fort this and Fort that. They're all over. I'm married to one so I get all the benefits of being in the military with none of the aggravation.

Fourth, every athletic event that I've been in, from Lubbock to Houston, from ultra-runs to triathlons, starts with a prayer and ends with a beer. You get brisket or chili at the end and usually some ice cold beer. I don't personally drink the stuff but it just seems like a very nice way to end a day of endurance, dontcha think?

Sweet Baboo and I ran the inaugural Army marathon there last weekend.

We flew into Dallas Love Field the day before, rented a car, drove down to Killeen--which is south of Waco and near Fort Hood. At the expo, Sweet Baboo bought me some new compression leg sleeves and some Newtons, which I got with my/our nice, "I married GI Joe" discount.

I was hoping for a really nice experience after getting caught in wind storms at the El Paso marathon in February and the Corpus Christi Navy marathon in March.

And, holy crap, I got it.

It's a point-to-point, 26.2 miles of gentle rollers, all on blacktop, on a protected course, with a net downhill from Killeen to Temple, Texas. It was beautiful, mostly overcast. The sun out a bit during the last hour or so, and there was some wind in the last ten miles, but nothing to get in a twist about. I finished just under 5:30. I really pushed myself. I was motivated by the promise of a shower before our three hour drive back to Dallas.

During the race there was a woman ahead if me I was determined to finish, my very own White Whale. She was relentless. She never stopped running her slow, steady pace. I gave up trying to lass her until the end, when I passed her at mike 25 ish.

I got a nudge to my self esteem by all the young bucks that took off like rockets at the beginning but that I passed near the end.

There were lots of soldiers. The women I recognized from their tight, neat hair buns and the men from their high and tight haircuts. But like many youngsters, they didn't pace themselves well. At one point the couple I was running near came upon a fellow soldier standing near the side of the road, rubbing his calf. They asked him why he'd stopped running and teased him. He looked at them woefully. "This is some bullshit, right here."

When I finished I crossed the finish line and flooped down into the shade. About 20 minutes later another young soldier stumbled over and flooped down nearby, and started complaining on the phone to somebody. First he complained about the hills.

"I should have trained for the hills," he said.

Elevation Profile -->

Then he complained about "all these old ladies out there, and they were kicking my ass!"

I am pretty happy with my pace. It wasn't blazing, but it was steady. Once I get on too of that whole, "speed" thing, I might be a fair marathoner. If you use the Galloway method I will tell you that i used 4:1 run:walk in the first half, the 3:2 for a while, and then the last five miles, 1:1.

Here's my splits:

What I didn't like, and this is my only complaint: Baboo said that the first shuttle started nearly an hour after he finished, to take him back to the start. He quickly showered and then headed back, which is when he found out that he could park no closer than three miles away from the finish.

As a result, he didn't get to see me finish, and I sat around for an hour, wondering what the hell was going on, and then after beating myself up to my blazing sub six-hour finish, I got a three mile hike to the car.

This is some bullshit, right here.


Otherwise, well done. I'd recommend this marathon. Aid stations were well stocked, friendly volunteers, plenty of portajohns, and I believe the cut off was seven hours, possibly longer.

Next up: the Lincoln Marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

The older, wiser me.

Dear Diary,

Two things happened this week that made me feel old and wise.

First, I was part of an interview for a PRN social work position at the hospital where I work. That wasn't the part that made me feel old. It was her resume. On it, she wrote that she had graduated from high school in 2004. I read it and re-read it, sitting in the conference room before she showed up.

What the hell--why, that's not even possible, is it? I asked the other social workers. I counted on my fingers.

, it was 9 years ago. So, yes, said one of my fellow employees. I leaned forward to touch my forehead on the table so that I could silently mouth the words to myself: oh, fuck, I am OLD.

While my collegue nit-picked and asked the candidate to clarify every answer to every question during the interview, I smiled kindly at her, wanting to apologize for my collegue who apparently does not remember being that young and new. Shit, I wanted to say. It's discharge planning. It's not rocket science.

The second thing that happened is that I agreed to take on a master's level counseling intern. She starts this summer, and I'll be supervising her. I interviewed her, and she was disconcertingly perky. She hasn't had her young soul crushed by the reality of managed care. And YOUNG. at one time she asked me about how I would be supervising her, and words just came out of my mouth, on auto pilot. The right words, words that put her at ease. We spoke for about an hour. She had lots of questions. I had answers to all of them. When she left, I leaned forward and touched my desk with my forehead again. Fuck, i am old. But WISE. when did I get so smart?

Followed closely by, this is real grownup stuff. I can't believe someone trusts me with someone else's life, career, and future.

I have those thoughts from time to time, like when I'm doing therapy with a kid, suddenly I'll think, if my high school teachers had anything to say about it, there's no way they'd let me be doing this shit.

I'm settling into my age, finally. Approaching 50 was causing me quite some anxiety. I was desperately trying to stave it off. When I turned 48 three weeks ago, I stood in front of a mirror, pulling my facial skin back toward my ears, wondering how much a mini lift would be.

The teeny boppers on my unit, with the history of absconding, batted their eyes at me today, and said, you're so pretty. Are you 32?

Nice try, I said. You're not making any phone calls.

It would be awesome to think that I actually looked 32. But if I can be the wise woman, that's good. I can live with that.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Blow me was just an expression, dammit. Another race report.

Dear Diary,

Sweet Baboo and I ran the inaugural Navy marathon in Corpus Christi on March 24. this is marathon number three for the year, of the dozen or more marathons we'll be doing for 2013. NOWDON'TMOCKMMEFORNOTWRITINGTHISSOON I don't really think anyone reads this anymore any way *snif*. And by the way, when I say 'ran' I mean that Sweet Baboo ran it, while I did my patented shuffle-jog and spent most of that last half swearing and hating south Texas and nervously watching seagulls, hoping they wouldn't shit on my head.

*Whispering* shhh, see, the day before the marathon, we'd had a stressful day. I'm convinced that pilots have conspired on Dallas to fuck up flights in the rest of the county. When we arrived in Dallas, our flight was listed as being over an hour later. Twenty minutes later it left without us. Fuckers. We had to sit separately. Then we arrived in San Antonio, rented a car, and drove to Corpus. Baboo was totally stressed, so he sat down behind the motel...relax...listen to the waves...and...


a gull shat on my Sweet Baboo. He calmly accepted that this was how this day would end, and returned to our room to shower, where I tried not to laugh but instead to show the appropriate amount of sympathy, as a good wife does.


Sweet Baboo finished just under four hours, which is something I will never, ever, ever personally do. For him, however, it was a personal worst in road marathons for the last year. I spent much of the first half celebrating my awesomeness and the second half whimpering and wondering why I ever do this shit.

This may give you some hint:


At marathon start, there were THIRTY mile-an-hour winds rockin' and rollin' and we walked/ran against them for a mile or so. As you might recall diary, I had a bit of wind in the El Paso marathon in February and GodDAMMIT I'm sick of wind. I ran up and over a suspension bridge, which was pretty cool. At that point the wind was at my back and it basically pushed me over the bridge. Awesomeness. Except...something it pushed too hard, and I would stumble.

I ran down the road that winds along the fancy people homes along the coasts, and it was here that I finally accepted that the entirety of Corpus apparently wasn't a superfund site. Miles one through thirteenish were pretty great. I had about a 12 minute pace. I was a running GODDESS.

Obviously, that wasn't going to last.

Eventually, though, all good things come to an end, and I headed down across a causeway for four miles, during which the wind buffeted me from the side, so strong in fact that sometimes when I picked up my leg the wind would push it into the other leg. Yes, that's right. The fucking wind tripped me. Apparently, I'm built like a billboard. Or a sale. People I had passed gleefully the last six miles inched ahead of me.

Then, I turned around. Another long four miles of cross-winds, followed by five miles heading directly into the wind. I sniffled and wept and felt very, very sorry for myself as I watched my per-mile pace on my Garmin tick upward...upward...upward.

But I felt even sorrier for the people still heading out to the turnaround, one time shouting to one woman, aint this some shit? She just shook her head and tried to stay upright. I could run maybe for thirty seconds at a time against the wind before I would just give ip and walk.

Eventually, I trudged across the finish line around 5:42, which I have mixed feelings about. Got a big hug from Sweetness, and a rediculously big medal:

Then I got a wetnap bath, a subway sub, we drove back to San Antonio and flew the hell out of there. As soon as the late planes in Dallas let us. When we got home, we found out that inexplicably we'd left our car running when we parked it. Which is a story for another day.



 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...