I was asked to write an 1100 word max (uh-oh already) article for a local publication. Topic? Running.
As luck would have it, I know a little about both of these things – writing and running, namely because I think I used to enjoy them. Even more importantly, I used to do them. Cheers to Amelia Earhart for saying it best with such accuracy and brevity:
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
(Nike, please put the check in the mail to her descendants.)
So, I ran an ugly 10-miles this morning, came home, showered off the paradox of disappointing and encouraging disgust, and just finished reading some of my former writing material. Nothing bypasses questionable self-talk faster than actionable proof. While it may not be up to Pulitzer qualifying standards yet, I was at least successful in finding several pieces which never made it to this blog, as well as the first chapter of a maybe-might-be-published someday memoir.
In an effort to just do it, I am sharing some of those findings below and will continue to write – both here and elsewhere. Oh, and I just signed up for a marathon 6 months from now to see if I can tackle at least one kind of qualifying standard…
Here’s hoping Amelia isn’t the only one who could fly.
I used to author “Beth’s Top Ten Lists” for my former running partner. Letterman-esque in fashion, they covered work, family, and life topics. I stumbled upon this one which I put together in an effort to start running together again and training for a race after a way too long hiatus.
Beth’s Top Ten List for Reasons Why an Easy-Peasy Run Makes Total Sense
10. We are runners. Well, at least one of us is and if we equate running on the greenway with running for president, halfway capable seems largely appealing.
9. We have little lives, nothing else to do, and all the free time in the world. It’s not like either of us has ever won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
8. We are vegan. Well, one of us is and the other one would like to make fun of that. In person – as he runs out of sustenance. Like so much maize – which you’ll remember, means corn.
7. Help us, Brian Kopack! Help us! We need to remember how to run together! And your training plans worked magic for all of us the first time. Boston was a-MAY-zing.
6. We have endurance. Well, yours has no doubt decreased. But neither have you had to endure any menial stir stick stories for a while. So, when those are reinstituted, you’ll pretend to listen by saying “what, what” like you’re Puff Daddy laying down background vocals on a new track.
5. We have personal trainers. Though I’m still not sure what that means. Or what we’re training for, really.
4. Substitute running partners have placed gifts in my mailbox, said “good job,” told me to “have a great day!” and given me Hallmark cards on recurring intervals, including Kwanzaa. In retrospect it’s only your lack of effort that made you a total running stand out.
3. There have been times when I’ve been so miserable running without you that it was almost like having you there.
2. I can tell you are still a crap lawyer by the mere fact that this has somehow turned into my idea.
1. You see, this hobby is filled to the brim with unrealistic MFr’s. MFr’s who thought their ass would age like wine. If that means it turns to vinegar, it does. If it means it or the running gets better, it don’t.
(We are not gettin’ any younger, dude. Let’s go already.)
Found this written 3+ years ago, but was afraid to post for fear my Mom would stumble upon it out there in, you know, “that iDevice internet cyber web thing.” Writer’s license taken; no offense to my mother intended. I adore her and have no desire to have her baked goods withheld from my diet – even during training.
It’s Monday morning. Which means if I don’t call my little sister by 7:45am, she will call me. The conversation will commence as it always does, with her stating that my Mother is driving her nuts (and yes – even though for the last 36 years I’ve been telling her she was adopted, we have the same parents). I indulge her with my ensuing inquisition and we laugh together. She lives just under 4 hours away, and I miss her.
There were many, many years when I did not miss her in the least. I suppose for the first 17 years of my life that was because she was right there next to me, growing up with me, annoying me, watching me, sharing life with me. But when I went off to college there was an immediate void. Not so much mind you, that when she came for a visit I stayed with her in my dorm room the entire party-infused night instead of hanging out with Andrew McGinnis down the hall. Whew. Andy.
I was happy to have her again by my side at Ohio State, sharing that new season of life with me. Without question, that night was far more fun than the night, years prior, she and I had found ourselves in a heated argument inside our parent’s bedroom. While we don’t look much alike, we were like Siamese twins when it came to the loud, nasty mouth gene pool. Apparently, or at least how the story goes, I won said heated argument and my prize was a horse-like brush being hurled through the air at me. However, thankfully my award was not bestowed with enough speed that I didn’t have time to hit the deck and watch as it lodged itself into my parent’s bathroom door. As I wished her good luck, part of me actually wanted to help the little squirt. Instead, the prideful big sister part of me walked away, smugly pretending I was going to be handed yet another prize as I walked through the one remaining unscathed door in annoying silence.
Today, the post-it note which she carefully placed over the hole in the bathroom door resides in my closet, right next to the Strawberry Shortcake plaque she gave me for Christmas when she was seven and I was ten. It reads: “Dear Mom and Dad, I am sorry about your door, but number one you should have gone with solid oak and number two, Beth moved out of the way in time. Please don’t be mad since we’re not mad at each other anymore either. Love, Sarah.”
Not mad at each other is an understatement, as love her I do – as we continue to share this beautiful life and all the crazy stories together. Especially the ones about her Mom.
I think they call this “realistic fiction.” Otherwise known as “story of my life, you can’t make it up.”
Her mother had taught her many things, namely, that “one day when you become a mother you’ll understand.”
How right she was, not that Mary-Kate – MK to her friends – would ever admit it. She loathed admitting anyone knew more than she did, let alone her own mother.
But that was when she was a typical teenager. Twenty-five years plus later and about to send her only child off to college, she finally understands. And, as luck would have it for her friends, only pretends she still hates it when they know more than she does.
MK’s Mom, Ellen, was born and raised in a generation where “things” were not discussed; rather, grace and class were demonstrated by what you did not say. Restraint apparently took more strength than throwing a right hook or jabbing at an offender with cutting words. Yet, mess with her kids and the gloves were off.
“Hi, Mom,” MK squeaked out.
“Are you sneezing or crying?” her mother responded over a cell connection and hundreds of miles.
“I can’t take this. Why does she have to leave?” MK rhetorically pleaded. “I teach college classes on the side, you know I could totally have homeschooled her.”
“You’ve done your job,” MK’s mother said matter-of-factly of her oldest granddaughter. “This will be tough, but you will both get through it and your relationship will be even better.”
Ellen was always the optimist. While you wouldn’t want to catch her on one of the few non-sunny days, she was never without positive reinforcement, especially on the mothering front.
Once recently, she told her still-learning-to-show-restraint-with-her-words daughter that they (Ellen and MK’s Dad – because ‘they’ have always been “they”) were at a get together a few weekends ago with two of their long-time couple friends. Everything was going swimmingly and per usual – lots of food, lots of conversation presumably about their grown kids who would always be “kids,” and lots of happy in the hour(s).
“She’ll be fine, she always is,” Ellen told the other women as they asked about MK and her empty nest. Of course the better question would have been asking about how much MK loves stereotypes and clichés, but nothing kills alcohol flow like generational disparity.
The three men began laughing over stories about their respective jobs, mostly surrounding labor relations. Joey, the husband of one of the couple friends, owns his own company where, ahem, not all of the employees have cards of the green variety; however, his job in a prior life was the topic of the evening’s discussion.
“I may have been a collector of sorts,” Joey began. “You know, of things which certain suspect people living in the outskirts of Philly could not necessarily afford initially, or pay back in a timely manner when people like me told them face-to face-ish that the bank also knows they cannot cough up anything other than nicotine phlegm.”
Joey’s wife, Carolyn, cringed. She was a debutante back in the day. MK’s Mom did not belong to the Carolyn Coiffed Fan Club.
“Oh, Joe…” she said in her best I love the little people voice.
“What about that bothers you, Carolyn?” Ellen asked, poker face intact.
Ellen had a way of dealing with her dislike of certain people which subdued not only the offenders real-time, but also her propensity of wanting to choke them out subsequently causing a scene absent of grace and class.
“It’s just…it’s just that I wasn’t allowed to date ‘those kind’ of people that Joe had to deal with when I was growing up.” “Didn’t your parents tell you that you couldn’t date anyone that didn’t, you know, measure up?”
Ellen also had a way of dealing with anyone who was intolerant of the entire human race.
“No. My parents liked people for who they were and how they made you feel based solely upon how they treated you. It was a pretty simple methodology that they employed, actually,” she responded, again miraculously without tone or eye rolls.
“Well,” Carolyn went on obliviously. “Even worse than those people, my parents said, were Italians. I could NEVER date those kind.”
“Now that I think about it, my parents forbade me to date stupid people,” Ellen said without hesitation, grace, class, or apology.
They shared a look and a grin that only they understood after all these years.
Comfortingly, MK comes from a long line of hot-tempered Italians and Irishmen alike, all of whom adore family even more than they do homemade pasta, Jameson’s, or putting idiots in their place.
And she knew now just as she always had, that in the midst of generational “things” and life changing seasons, she would always have these kind of precious exchanges and memories – both old and new.
I’ve been writing these kind of poems and gifting them to family and friends to mark milestones for as long as I can remember.
I’ve loved you since before I met you, all 37 weeks of feeling you move,
And when you arrived on February 23rd the absolute thing it did prove;
That it was not possible to love anything or anyone more than this beautiful little being,
I could not fully believe or understand the joy I was holding and seeing;
Through sleepless nights, nervous days, and uncertainty as a new mother,
I didn’t know much about what to do, but I knew there was no other;
No other place I’d rather have been, hugging you, rocking you, watching you breathe and grow,
And today, no longer a baby, but today I do know;
That you are an amazing human being, filled with kindness and compassion and love,
Sent to this earth, our family, your friends as a precious gift from above;
From your first words, to your first walk, to your first hurt, I remember it all so clearly,
Sixteen years later you are still, and shall always be – loved so dearly.
I miss my girl. And I have missed writing. Time to take another run at it.
…1100 words and a 3:39:59 marathon, here I come.