Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Life happens. You change. Your job changes. Your spouse changes. Your income changes. You lose your job. You lose your spouse. You lose a parent.

Life is a journey. You wake up. You go to work. You eat breakfast. You eat lunch. You eat dinner. You work. You work hard. You have fun. You wake up.

And it just happens again and again. Except, maybe it isn't again and again. I never think of my life as again and again. Life is a journey. So every day, every day could be the beginning of a new journey.

Today is the beginning of the rest of the tomorrows.

I have today and I have yesterday and I have tomorrow. And every day, someone could teach me something. You could teach me something. My boss could teach me something. My friend could teach me something. My spouse could teach me something. The weather could teach me something. A run could teach me something. A delicious meal could teach me something. A glass of wine could teach me something.

Every day I learn. I. Learn.

Life is a journey and every day I step out and embrace it. I embrace the lessons. The ups. The downs. The joys. The follies. It's all there. Life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Street Harassment

Today I was reading an article in the nytimes style section about how people are retaliating against rude people in public places by being equally rude back. For example, when someone is talking loudly on their cellphone, others publicly shame them by commenting on the details of their personal call. I started reading the article because I often feel the urge to be rude to these people and basically the gist of the story was: Two rudes don't make a right. So instead of feeling bad for not standing up to people, at least I can find comfort in the fact that I was polite. The essence of the advice was that the best way to fight poor behavior was to exemplify good behavior, which ties in well with how I think Christians should live. Yadda Yadda. It's a good piece if you want to read it, but not the point of this post

The subject of this post, which is about sexual harassment, was actually brought to my attention when I followed a small link in the above article to a blog in NYC called HollaBack NYC. Basically women post stories about times they have been sexually harassed in public on the streets of NYC. It's suppose to be empowering, I think. There's also a HollaBack PNW, but all the posts are old. Personally I think this is a great idea and I really wish that the HollaBack PNW site was still up and running, because I would post some of my stories.

And here's the thing that got me thinking. Almost every woman I know who lives in the city has stories like those on the blog. Stories of men offering them unsolicited attention of a sexually degrading nature. For example, about a month ago I was walking down a busy street near my house with a community college on one side and small groceries, shops, and coffeehouses on the other. Lots of people walk here. There are a couple buslines and a train line 5 blocks away. It was Sunday. I was with my husband and we were walking to get coffee. A man was with his friend walking in the opposite direction. As we passed, one of these men stopped my husband and said to him "Excuse me, I was wondering if I could offer her some candy" referring to me.

At first I was surprised at a stranger talking to us and then about 5 seconds after he and his friend left, I realized he was referring to sex when he said "candy." To say this pissed me off is an understatement. I think both my husband and I were initially confused when the man approached us, but by the time we reached the end of the block I was determined to turn around and confront the guy. However my husband, with the cooler head, advised against escalating a situation with a stranger who could have a gun.

But what I find so sad about this situation is how very common it is, as evidenced by the HollaBack blogs. Almost every woman I know has been followed by a strange man, been whistled at or had offensive sexual remarks yelled at her. And I want to be clear that I, in no way, dressed in a sexually provocative manner. I was wearing jeans, a jacket and a t-shirt when the above incident happened.

Well the little detour to the HollaBack site then led me to Wikipedia's page on Sexual Harassment, which currently has a warning saying that the contents don't represent a worldwide view on the subject. This led me to the talk page, where, to my chagrin, I discovered that some people actually think sexual harassment in the workplace is "protected speech" on free speech grounds. I want to be clear however that my chagrin was not so much about sexual harassment being a protected private speech, but that it be protected free speech at all!

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE the first amendment. But I have to say I really wish sexual harassment wasn't allowed to happen. And this puts me in a moral conundrum. Basically I have to ask myself if some instances of free speech in public should be limited? For example, hate speech?

I have felt for many years that protecting public free speech was of paramount importance, regardless of whether I find the speech morally reprehensible. In the past I have feared limiting speech based on what the majority finds offensive because that opens the door to MY speech being limited because someone could find it offensive. On the issue of verbal harassment though, I honestly do want this type of public speech limited.

Perhaps it is because I have experienced public sexual harassment and not public hate speech that I am more quick to limit sexual harassment. But then again perhaps public hate speech should be limited as well. All in all, it's a very interesting topic. And one I will be mulling over for some time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I wrote these vignettes because I want to know why I have such an obsession with my own weight, which is, after all, just a number. I find this obsession pretty irrational considering that I don't judge people based on their weight and certainly don't feel very influenced by culture about weight. I think women can come in all shapes and sizes and all those sizes are beautiful. I have never wanted to look like the women in fashion magazines and I was never raised to care about weight. I also have never been a heavy person. So why do I have an unhealthy relationship with my weight? And why does a number mean so much to so many women?

First time I knew how much I weighed:

When I was 12, the summer before I got my period, I went to the Oregon coast with my family. We stayed in a really big, old beach house with my mom's family and all us girl cousins spent the week playing in the sand, swimming and gossiping through the night. All the girl cousins shared a bit attic room and we were all around the same age.

One day we were talking and one of my thinner cousins asked how much I weighed. I had never weighed myself, so we both weighed ourselves on the scale to compare: She weighed 95 lbs and I weighed 105. We were the same height and I remember being embarrassed that I weighed more and wishing that I too was 95 lbs.

First time I realized that others might notice my weight:

During junior high volleyball games, we had to wear short red shorts and long sleeve red and white tops. And during each game my face would turn red when I had to bump the ball because I couldn't put my arms completely together because of my large chest. And all I could think about was everyone looking at me and noticing how "chubby" I was.

There was this one very tall, very slender, very pretty blond girl, who with her impossibly skinny arms and flat chest was our star player. She was the forward, I was the setter. I was short, curvy and brunette. She was what I was not.

First time I was proud of my body:

After I trained and ran a half marathon when I was 25. I remember thinking that my body was absolutely amazing.

First time I was not embarrassed to wear a swimsuit:

I went to Hawaii with some girlfriends right after running my first half marathon. It was the first time I felt comfortable wearing a swimsuit. We spent the week walking around in bikinis and not being surprised at the attention we got. I held my head high and didn't think once about what I looked like. Because I looked good! :-)

First time I went on a diet:

The first time I went on a true diet was when I was 24. I don't count the million 1-2 day diets I've had before and since. I ate only 1200 calories a day. I didn't focus on eating healthy food, though a natural consequence of the calorie restriction was that I did eat healthy food because it was more filling. I lost 10 lbs and then another 10 after I started running.

First time my mother commented on my weight:


First time I really felt ugly:

One of my only male friends in high school and someone I thought was smart and mature drew a picture of me and gave it to me. It was really unflattering. When I first looked at it I thought it was a really funny joke. Like haha, you drew this horrible picture of a hag that so obviously isn't me and said it was me; what an awesome ironic, inside joke. But he didn't laugh "with" me as much as "at" me about the whole thing. And for a long time afterwards I was sure that was really how he saw me: as a hag. I kept that drawing for many years in a box. Which was WAY too many years and way too painful a lesson on how even when you're sophisticated and distant you can still get hurt.

First time I really felt pretty:

When I was a junior in college I went to my school's junior/senior banquet and wore a black velvet knee-length dress and Anne Klein strappy leather shoes. I did my own hair and liked my date. I don't recall him ever complimenting me but he was pretty nervous about his too-tight pants. But I knew that I was pretty.

First time I felt absolutely gorgeous:

First time I met my husband.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Marathon

I did it. Yeah! The marathon is complete. The training is over. The race is done. The pain is now gone. The recovery run is completed. And now is the time for . . . What comes next?

I think this whole marathon training experience has been an interesting one for me. I was forced to train several times a week, sacrifice time with friends and husband, miss church on Sunday morning for several months because of training runs and endure all kind of weather. I ran when I was tired, ran when I was hungover, ran when I was sick, ran when it was rainy, ran when it was hot (the end of the Lacamas Lake Half was, to me, the worst race of my life) and ran . . . well, I ran basically all the freaking time.

I developed asthma or allergies, or some combination of both. Running lost all appeal. Running became boring. I hated running. Basically I got a little burnt out on running by the end.

But I did it. I ran and ran and ran and then my body started to seize up and my legs started to feel like lead weights and the Broadway bridge became the biggest hill of my life! and I kept going and I finished. I was delirious and cold and exhausted and I finished!

It was a great feeling and yet, and yet. The wonderful guilt began to take hold not long after (and not long before). I could have done better. I could have finished faster. I could have recovered quicker. I drank too much while training, I didn't eat enough veggies. While the hell didn't I lose those last 10 lbs?! Oh wait, there was that whole drinking wine and eating dessert instead of carrots thing.

Sigh. But in the end, training for the marathon taught me a LOT. I think there is something powerful in learning how to manage one's time and one's energies in a 26 mile stretch of time. I was forced to mentally and physically prepare for something incredibly taxing and psyche myself up for the biggest butt beating of my life!

I have a friend 25 lbs into a 120 lb weight lost and can't help but think of the similarities between the two.

Something I learned early on in my long runs is that you can't think about the big goal, the 12 miles or whatever, when you first start the run. You have to think about the first 3, when you start to find your rhythm, and then the next 3, when you reach the halfway point, and then the 3 after that, when you finding your pace in the hills, and finally the last 3 when you say, hell, I can run 3 more miles!

And I think weight loss, or any large goal, is like that. You just have to divide it up into little parts and as long as you've already established you can reach those little goals, then hell, you sure can reach the big goals.

And that is POWERFUL! To know your strength, to know your endurance, to know your body and be able to hear it and listen to it. And in spite of all the things I could have done (and of course plan to do in my next theoretical marathon, heh, heh), what I learned was some awesome stuff. And I just CANNOT hate my body for being chubby or whatever when it carried by cottage cheese ass 26.2 freaking miles.

Still lots of things to think about. But trying HARD to love myself for this and not critique what I could have done better.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Droopy Lids

Tired head. Sitting in an airport. Waiting for a flight. Tired head.
Phone is dead. Technology connects. Plane delayed. Head is dead.
Circuitry misconnected. Evening getting on. Feeling misdirected.
Tired head.
Terminal is full. Children hanging on the rail.
Person curled up. Blankets laid out.
Coffee wearing off.
Tired head.
Full day of work ahead. Buried by thoughts.
Fuzzy thoughts. Recollections of past days.
Tired head.
Wanting to board the effing plane.
To fly off to my namesake.
Make my way into the clouds
And not even look down.
But soar home along the way.
And end this effing day.
Tired head.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Feet

Bruised knees
Bent back
Pounding Pulse
Brisk intake
High up the hill, the pace: pound, pound, pound

Round a bend
Then a dip, down, down, down
Stretched back
Sounds, brush, a flicka
Arms pumping the air

Ragweed, hung in the air
Mold on wet trees
Long grass
Splash, splash, mud on ankles
Deep breathes, breath, breath, breath

A grimace, a smile
Knees, ache
Feet, heels connecting to dirt
Pine needles, rocks, pebbles, gravel
Squish, Squish, Squish

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I chortle in my narrow bed

"Narrow the bed, wide the world. "

It's odd to me how loneliness works a magic in my mind. When I'm alone, as I am for a week while my husband's away, my thoughts often turn to existential questions: Why am I here? Am I happy? My thoughts make a mental exercise of wondering where I'd be if I was single and if this now narrow bed of mine was the totality of my existence.

Someone, who never married (and who at 45 was heading off on another trip to India), once told me the above quote: "Narrow the bed, wide the world." The quote then, and now, got me thinking about marriage, and how, while it offers solace and extinguishs loneliness, does narrow one's world a bit. When you're single and your bed is narrow, you're pretty much free to go wherever you please, whenever you please.

To a certain extent, marriage narrows one's world. I don't spend as much time thinking about art, science, and meaning as I once did. Now I've traded those thoughts for worries about my bank account, when we should move out of the city, and if we should have children. When I was single I dreamed about trips to exotic locations, study in marvelous, oak paneled rooms, and my generation's metaphysical longings. Nowadays my life feels like a series of re-enacted episodes to a boring sitcom.

Currently one of our single friends is living with us and I find myself often thinking about singleness vs. marriedness. I know she'd like to be married and yet I also know she wouldn't be able to travel as much if she was. She recently spent 3 weeks in South America and, while theoretically this is a trip a married couple could take, it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to do something like that now.

Yet, I don't want to shortchange being married. In spite of a perceived lack of deep philosophically considerations, I would say I have grown deeply in touch with my emotions as a result of being married. As a single person I often struggled with how to define my feelings. I walked through life never asking "how do I feel right now." And now, being married, I am much more in tune with how I feel. I think that is a result of having somebody strong to hold me when I cry. Marriage, for me, allows me to feel a little more open to being weepy at life. For me, marriage's deep, rich intimacy makes it possible to dive into those deep, piercing hurts of life, and then allow love and trust to draw them out, weep with them and then shore them up.

In the end, there isn't a clear winner or loser. Being married is just different than being single. I suppose its all just part of the journey we take in life and the milestones we touch along the way: marriage for some, a child for others, perhaps its a heart pounding trip to Machu Picchu. We're not all destined to mark all the milestones along the way, sometimes our paths skirt certain signposts and at other times we deftly reach out and touch their well-worned surface.