Some Real Talk. Because Life is Hard, Y’all.

Here’s the thing: I want to pour my soul out here. I want to tell this space my secrets and I want to yell and write in all caps and explain this shit to you, but I have this terrible restraint that keeps me from going to THAT POINT, the point of no return.

I don’t want this space to be the place where I lay ruin to everything and everyone. I don’t want it to be a sad place. I want to tell you about goose attacks and Snow White adventures and terrible Bitty cats who just turned 3, but let’s be honest, I’m not in a happy place and I can’t come here and talk about happiness and make jokes about the crazy hilarity that ensues from me just being me.

Clearly, I am going through some shit. Clearly, I am a little bit fucked up. Or a lot a bit fucked up, depending on who you ask. This is some shit. Some serious, fucked up shit.

But restraint. It’s a thing, apparently, that I possess, although I spend a lot of time wondering why.

“Not everything needs a soundtrack,” he says, in the living room that should have been ours, not just mine.

But I want my life to be a movie, I think. I want it to be this dramatic comedy, where love leaves and returns again, where there’s a killer soundtrack that makes you leave the theater thinking, YES, THAT, the soundtrack you download on the car ride home, post-movie.

I think about it a lot, really, the story I’ll write one day, the movie that should surely follow. I think about it when I’m running, the songs that play and I wonder about how much time a movie about my life can devote to running, because really, friends, that’s the shit that gets me through. Slow or fast, race pace or not, it’s the running that keeps me from devastation, from the havoc.

Here’s the bottom line: I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what to say, because so much of what I want to say is part of a private matter, and no matter what I want to yell out loud, I know, deeply, that it should stay that way, that it should stay private.

So I’m a little lost. What do I say here? What do I do?

But really. Bitty turned 3. The cat who attacks my friends, who slept on Andrew’s chest for the first many weeks of her life, when she wasn’t in a box on a heating pad on my nighstand table.

She’s a monster.

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Just like her parents.



The current soundtrack:
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – Birdy
Redwings – Guillemots
 Pretty Girl at the Airport – The Avett Brothers
Hate Me – Blue October

Escape plans, 30, breaking down and more running.

I am planning an escape. I don’t know where I’m going to go, but I am going to go, for a handful of days, somewhere, alone.

I want to visit a National Park, but I can’t decide which. The closest, that I haven’t visited in adulthood, are as follows: Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, and Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

Mostly I just want to get lost in the woods for a little bit and take some time to just be with my thoughts and whatnot, and I’m pretty sure any of those parks would facilitate that, but I can’t decide.

So far, being 30 has been pretty terrible. I’m not ready to call bullshit on it being such a great decade or whatever, but these first few weeks have been primarily filled with rage and sadness, one half marathon PR, one speeding ticket and a lot of beers. It’s not all terrible, but it’s far from great.

I’m over on the Hooray Collective Day, writing about breaking. Here’s a snippet:

It is impressive the measures the head will take to save the heart.

It doles out reality in digestible bites, keeping the full weight of terrible things from settling over us. It still hurts, the parts and pieces it feeds us, but it holds back, the head, from giving us more than we can swallow.

It’s called denial, I suppose, that heady phase of grief that stops us from swallowing all the parts at once and choking on the full weight of the thing. It is the head’s best defense in protecting the heart, I think.

Read the rest here.

On Saturday I’m running the Monument Ave 10k, which is one of my favorite races. It’s very Richmond, an easy and flat down and back on one of the most beautiful streets in the city. There are tons of bands and spectators and great signs and there’s a costume contest and people take it pretty seriously. I’ve felt a little off since getting sick right after the half, but I’m hoping to impress myself at the 10k on Saturday and run hard, especially if it decides to rain.

Also, if it could stop calling for rain every time I have race over 3.1 miles, that would be super cool and spiffy, although, that said, racing in the rain is sort of great, and even though I will bitch about it before hand, running in the rain always makes me feel like a legitimate runner, like I’m a badass for braving some sprinkles or some shit.

A goose attacked me on my 30th birthday.

Alright, you guys. Shit has been real, real sad and real, real vague around these here internet parts lately and frankly, I’m getting a little sick of my own sad vagueness. I mean, divorce is this awful and shitty and fucked up and terrible thing and I think I’m allowed a certain amount of emo-ness, but dammit, I went to the woods on my 30th birthday, alone, and, in true me fashion, I was attacked by a goose. And not for the first time. My life has been a series of goose attacks because apparently, if anyone fucking hates Snow White, it is the goose.

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Post-road trip, I realized I really like being alone in the wilderness. I wasn’t thrilled with turning 30, but I decided I wanted to spend some time in the wild on my birthday, since the peace I found there while we were road tripping was something I was missing. I briefly entertained venturing to a national park, one I haven’t visited, in Ohio or Tennessee, but that seemed like a lot of work and so I headed to the closest state park instead. It took me forever to find the trailhead, but when I did the nearby parking lot was full of crows, which was fitting since I’ve got one tattooed on my wrist. The bridge leading to the trailhead, however, was full of geese. Three of them – two Canadian, and one white, rage-filled goose.

I am not a stranger to the attack of the goose. I grew up on a farm and goose attacks were a common thing in my youth. I imagine I spent most of my 11th year running from a pack of hostile gray geese in Ohio. But still. I approached this goose, and it’s Canadian friends, with a certain sort of swagger that my 30 years had lent me, and this goose hissed and fussed at me but once I reached the bridge and headed toward the trail, he backed off.

I figured I had escaped trouble, had finagled my way through the situation with my Snow White prowess, and so I set out into the woods. I spent some time laying on a rock, touching trees and moss and streams and things and, after an bit, I found my way back to the trailhead where there were two swing sets that I wanted to swing on, BECAUSE 30, but this couple showed up with their kayaks and I was feeling a little bit shy about swinging in front of them, for some stupid reason, so I walked along the river for a bit, feeling a bit self-conscious and waiting for them to get their shit together and get the fuck out of my way so I could behave like a child on my 30th birthday.  It was on my trek back to the swing set that I encountered the goose again.

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We had words, me and this goose.

It walked right up to me on the swing set, reaching out its terrible goose neck and fussing at me and so I stomped at him, and he waddled away and I set to swinging.

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Once I got off the swing set and started back to my car, not really wanting to leave, but knowing I had friends showing up in a few hours, the goose approached again.

AGAIN, YOU GUYS. AGAIN.

And this time shit got real. Real real.

He went in for the kill. I captured it on camera, determined to document the whole debacle.

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And then I chased that mother fucker of a goose across the field, flapping my arms and honking like the mother of all gooses, or, if you prefer, Mother Goose.

And he honked and hissed all the way across the field, flapping his stupid white goose wings, and then I, dignified, clearly, at 30, walked slowly back to my car daring that goose, who at this point couldn’t even look me in the eye, to fuck with me again.

And so it was. I turned 30 and made a goose my bitch.

Cheers.

The Running.

I ran my third half marathon this past weekend, the Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon. I ran it far faster that I had hoped to, far faster than the goals I had set for myself. I finished in 1:50:30, with an average pace of 8:27. I didn’t know I could do that. For a lot of reasons.

When I was younger, new to the Army, I failed the Army Physical Fitness Test a few times because I couldn’t run two miles in less than 18 minutes. Or 20. I couldn’t run a continuous two miles. It was impossible for me then, and I said, for years and years, that I would always be someone who ran at a 9-10 minute pace. Period. The end. And I believed that. Solidly.

And then Andrew left for flight school and everything changed.

I went to California, for a Toyota-sponsored adventure, and I ran while I was there, still solidly on East Coast time and unable to sleep past 6am. So I ran. 4 miles, for both of the days we were in Santa Barbara. And I found, there, running alongside the Pacific Ocean, that I could run. I had been confining myself to treadmill runs, believing that I couldn’t run on the Earth, that the treadmill was the best course of action for me, but in California, it was different.

I didn’t run fast, but I did run faster than I thought I could on the road, but the bigger thing is, I found an incredible sort of peace out there, on the road. I ran next to the ocean, past farmlands and cows grazing on beachfront property and I realized that I could be a runner.

And so I came home. And then I started running. Outside, on the road. And then I ran a 5k. A really, really good 5k. And I went home from that 5k feeling like I was ready for the next challenge and so I signed up for my first half, the Rock ‘N’ Roll USA Half Marathon, with the urging of Andrew and Nicole and Tara.

And then March came, 2013, and I ran that race and it was hard. It was god awful hard. I fell apart in the end and the last three miles were among the hardest I’ve ever run. I finished that race just under 2:15, and I was determined to run another, because the thing about races, like tattoos, is that they’re addictive.

So in November I ran in Richmond, the first long distance race in my own city. And it was different. I knew myself as a runner by that point, knew what I needed to get to the finish and, more than that, to finish strong. I ran a 1:57:13 that day, smashing my previous personal record and leaving downtown with the realization that I am capable of far more than I thought I was.

And that brings us to now, to yesterday. At the Shamrock, I started out too fast. I didn’t want to. I was hoping to run at an 8:45 pace or so, but my first mile was closer to 8:30. But then I saw the 1:52 pacers and I thought about Nicole, about how she decided to hang with the 1:50 pace group during her most recent half marathon, and so I figured, what the fuck? Let’s hang with these cats until I can’t. I reasoned that, by the time I got tired, I would have built myself up to finishing at 1:55 or so, and so I hung with them until mile 10, tired, wondering why the fuck I was running at a 8:20-8:30 pace when I’d planned to run at a 8:40-8:50 pace.

But then, at mile 10, I passed them, the pacers. I pushed myself, hard, fueling myself on the anger and the rage and the hurt because – NEWS FLASH – divorce is fucking hard. I thought about Nicole again then, about how she talked about pushing after the 10 mile mark at the first half marathon she ever completed in under two hours (which, by the way, was my first half marathon), and I went. It’s just a 5k, I told myself. Just 3.1 miles until the finish, until bananas and water and walking and beers.

So I channeled the anger and Nicole’s logic on that last 5k, which, when she talked to me about it a year ago still seemed like a fuckton of miles, but I pushed. I pushed hard. I thought about all the shit, all the absolute bullshit, all the rage that’s been fueling me for the past months and especially for the past weeks and I ran those last miles as hard as I could.

To 11.

To 12.

To 13.

And to the finish, right on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach, in sight of the Atlantic Ocean, wind smashing against my bare legs.

I went through the finisher’s chute, got my medal and my banana and my hat and my shamrock cookie and finally, standing in line to get my bag, checked my phone to see the runner tracking texts I’d opted to receive on myself and realized that I’d run a 1:50:30 half marathon, something I would have thought impossible just two days ago. “Holy moly!” read the text from my best friend, who had also gotten the runner tracking texts.

And yeah. Holy fucking moly, indeed.

He says he knew I could do it, knew I was capable of running at that pace, that I doubt myself too much, that I’m capable of so much more than I realize.

And I guess that’s the moral of the story. I’m not writing this to brag. I’m writing this because running used to be a thing I couldn’t do, until it wasn’t. Because that’s how things work. You only can’t until you do. I know it’s not always that easy. But sometimes it is.

terrarace

30.

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Turned 30 on Wednesday. Slept late, ran 4 miles, shared coffee and donuts.

Drove south, a little, to the woods. Wandered around, laid on a rock for 30 minutes before scaring some deer and sharing my life mess with the wilderness.

Spent 15 minutes on a swing set.

Got accosted by a goose and then chased that goose through a field, flapping my arms and yelling. Because 30.

Came home. Didn’t want to.

Flowers, IPAs and opening presents.

Cake and lady friends, beers and champagne.

To bed, late. Not happy, but not unhappy either.

So cheers. New beginnings and all that jazz.