My great-grandmother shuffled in the front door of my parents’ house, pushing her walker in front of her.
“I was just sitting there, and it fell.”
We rushed outside to see what “it” was; it was a tree.
The tree lived on the edge, literally, of the yard. The last tree on the right-hand side looking down toward the road, the tree also lived on the edge quite figuratively. This particular tree seemed to enjoy being hit by lightning. I mean, I’m not sure it liked being hit by lightning, but it did it quite often and so, maybe it just got used to being struck by a white hot bolt from the sky.
Who knows. All we know is that on a windless, breezeless, absolutely still afternoon on the first of September, the tree fell over. Split in two. Fell to the ground. Gave up the ghost. Kaput.
Sometimes things break.
Our own tree broke last year, and I still feel the grief over losing our evening shade as we sit with our hands over our eyes in the late evening watching our suns throw footballs and ride bikes and tackle each other to the ground. My dad breaks a lot of glass, a combination between his big hands and his tendency to talk with them; things go flying or dropping, shattering on the porcelain til of the kitchen floor. Pages fall out of beloved books, handed to me by a boy with a look on his face that crosses somewhere between “I didn’t do it” and “Oh my goodness, my previous, beloved book is broken; can you please fix it, Mommy?” Cheap toys break, their plastic pieces discarded unnoticed. Expensive toys break to the grumbles of parents who spent good money. Boxes that once shipped cheap or expensive toys to the house and were henceforth confiscated to become a robot or a video arcade or a fort break down, fall apart, disintegrate under the weight of childhood play. Holes get worn into the knees and bottoms of jeans, show up on the seams of beloved shirts.
Sometimes humans break, too.
Maybe just a little, like the time I took a line drive to the ankle on the pitcher’s mound and ended up with a minor stress fracture. We pull muscles and wrench our backs and get cricks in our necks. We need surgery to fix internal things gone awry. Sometimes we’re born with things that don’t work right: my kidney, my Amanda’s heart, my son’s ear. Sometimes we put a little wear and tear on our own bodies, daily use and lack of care adding up together.
And sometimes the weight of everything we’re expected to accomplish and do within a 24 hour period pushes us down, down, down until we break under the heaviness of it all. Sometimes bad news comes at the worst moment. Sometimes good news comes five minutes too late. Sometimes we put too much trust in other people or in the way things are supposed to work or in faith or in society or in humanity, compassion, love, the sheer act of living. Sometimes our hearts break because we can’t fix what’s wrong with the world. Sometimes our hearts break because we can’t fix what’s wrong with ourselves. Sometimes our hearts can’t be fixed, and we sit with our feet dangling, tear drops landing on our shoelaces, and we ask the unthinkable, the unanswerable, “What now?”
It is then, in the “what now,” that maybe—just maybe—we can find solace in the fact that all things break. We, as humans, are more than the discarded cheap plastic toys, the dilapidated cardboard robot, the glass shattered on the porcelain floor. We are real; we are flesh and blood, feeling and emotion, love and hate, touch and hold, beyond even Pinocchio and the Velveteen Rabbit. We are so real, we are so worth standing up, wiping the tear drop, and finding out the answer to the question.
What now, indeed.
The Columbus Marathon is in 48 days, or 1 month and 18 days from today. I have 7 weeks left to train for the Columbus Half Marathon having just finished my ninth week of training.
August. What a weird month this year, am I right? It was cooler than normal, but just as humid. And despite the temperatures, I think many of us learned that the August sun is still the August sun. I fried out there more than once. And actually, during my nine mile run yesterday with my husband, I ended up overheating in the rain. In the rain! I had to stop at mile 7, take off my shirt (while simultaneously thanking Fabletics for supportive sports bras and praying that people didn’t think I was out to steal their partners because some of us run hot… literally). I mean, who overheats in the rain? This lady, apparently. Once I cooled off, I finished strong. But goodness, that felt frustrating.
So, no, I won’t “put my shirt on, dear” if I’m overheating. I’ll run in what I need to run in so that my body doesn’t give out on me, thankyouverymuch.
The week itself went well. I found myself on some decent runs at some decent paces. I came in on Tuesday with super fresh legs and felt like I could have run for days. I ran a medium hilly route with ease. My husband did not come in with super fresh legs and dealt with a second difficult run in a row. I know how frustrating that can feel.
We fell off the Highlights Kids’ Run training this week as soccer practice for BigBrother happens twice per week now. As he runs non-stop for an hour and a half, I really didn’t see the need to force him to run another .35 on any night. LittleBrother and I ran .35 during one of BigBrother’s practices. It was hot and humid, so I slowed us way down. I think LittleBrother appreciated the slower pace and the lack of brother. It’s nice to have some one-on-one run time.
My husband and I ran a great 5.01 at the local trail on Thursday morning. While I rock hills like nobody’s business, my husband is training me at the fine art of pacing on the flats. Every time I run the trail with him, I learn more and more.
Then I accidentally ran a two-a-day on Thursday as my anxiety sky-rocketed. I pounded out a 1.03 late in our evening just to shake out the bad feelings. It worked. As it always does.
On Friday, I ran down into our city for the first time ever. I had been avoiding doing so because when you run down into the city, you have to run back up out of the city. In 2012, walking up that hill with my husband was so difficult. I talked myself into believing that I couldn’t run back up and out of the city. And then I ran the whole thing. I’m so darn proud of that run I could burst. I plan on doing another city run this week!
And then came our long run together: the 9 miler. Minus the previously mentioned overheating in the rain moment, I enjoyed this trail run with my husband so much. I was also glad when it was over.
Monday: Rest Day, holla.
Tuesday, run 33: 4.01 miles, 40:30, 10:06/pace
Wednesday: Highlights Kids’ Training Run with LittleBrother, .35 mile, 3:52, 10:59/pace
Thursday, run 34: 5.01 miles, 48:13, 9:38/pace, and 1.03 miles, 9:23, 9:09/pace
Friday, run 35: 5.03 miles, 51:02, 10:09/pace
Saturday: Rest day/AKA, shopping day
Sunday, run 36: 9.01 miles, 1:27:38, 9:43/pace
Sunday’s run brought my August run totals to…
94.5 miles! WOO!
And my August elevation climb to…
9740.4 feet. Even more than the Pittsburgh Marathon month!
I ran for a total of 15:51:21 in August, burning 10,390 calories. Goodness.
September is upon us. Today was a “rest day,” but I swam hard for 20 minutes in my parents’ pool despite being sick. I don’t know if I have a case of early fall allergies or a My Kids Went Back to School So I Have a Cold cold. Either way, tomorrow’s run and some of this week’s runs might be slower as I need to stop and blow my nose, choke on phlegm, or generally stop to catch my breath. As long as I don’t run a fever, running remains “okay” by doctor’s standards. But I did rest a lot today, napping to and from my parents’ house and for a little while once we got there. Here’s hoping I kick whatever this is quickly.
Because I gain a mile mid-week with a 6 miler and a mile on the weekend with a 10 miler. I don’t have time to be sick right now.
Here’s to week 10!
I read all the good things this week again. I love when you blog about your passions, what makes you tick, your stories, your truths. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Brave: A Father’s Love: You need tissues to read this post, but you need to read this one. The love oozing from this post makes me believe, despite the hard parts of that story, that hope and love make a difference in our world.
Dear Coffee: It’s Complicated (A Story of Anxiety, Creativity, and Caffeine: I really related to a lot of what Hannah shared about her journey with anxiety, creativity, and caffeine. I should probably write about the changes I’ve made to my caffeine consumption too in the past few months. If you’re wondering whether you should or not, check out her post. And give her some love.
Sex Positivity: A Parental Superpower for Raising Happy, Healthy, Kids: YEP. Read it. Internalize. Realize that raising kids to who have healthy thoughts and actions about sex and sexuality doesn’t happen with one singular talk. Talk now, talk often. There’s an extra link and a podcast in this post. Devour everything.
Running Playlist: Top 10 August Workout Songs from RunHundrd: I’m working on my half marathon playlist right now, so I’ll be adding some of these to my list!
Dropping the “Just”: How many times have you said I’m “just” a (insert). Mom. Wife. Blogger. Slow jogger. Read this post and cut that out. (H/t to Sassymonkey who is all about dropping the “just.”
My Relationship with Food—The Whole Story: I love when people speak honestly about where they were, what they went through, and where they are now. Too often we get silent about food issues. I love that Laura told her truth. (Of note: I cannot count calories. Can. Not.) Then while you’re over there, read her newest post, Is Running Bad for Your Joints, and save it for the next person who says, “But isn’t running bad for your knees or your back or your hips or your whatever?” Nope, nope, nope.
Did you write or read something awesome this week? Leave the link in the comments. I’d love to read it.
A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage
I asked first on Instagram and then on Facebook the name of the action my husband was doing in the photo above. It’s been a stress* on our marriage since forever ago. I, hailing from Western Pennsylvania, call that action “weed whacking.” My husband, having grown up in Southeastern Ohio, calls it “weed eating.”
He’s obviously wrong.
I remember the first time he said he was going to go out and “weed eat,” and I just kind of blinked at him. A lot.
“You’re gonna what now?”
And we have this conversation every. single. time. he goes out to weed whack. Which is what it is. Weed whacking. Why? Here’s why, folks. Prepare for me to blow your mind with this logic, with this amazing use of words as an example.
A Weed Eater is a brand of weed whacker just as a Kubota is a brand of tractor. You no more say, “I’m going to go Weed Eat the lawn,” than you would say, “I’m gonna go Kubota up the grass!” No. You weed whack and you mow. You don’t brand name things, people. We learned this in Journalism 101 when my professor chastised us for making Life Flight a verb. You don’t “life flight” someone to the hospital; the patient is flown to the hospital by Life Flight.
QUIT VERBING* THINGS THAT AREN’T VERBS.
So when I asked my friends, a lot of whom live in both Western Pennsylvania and Southeastern Ohio, to describe the action pictured, I got the answers I expected. People back in the Pittsburgh area referred to it as weed whacking. People in this area of Ohio called it weed eating. People not in this area of Ohio defaulted back to weed whacking by and large. Outlier answers included trimming, edging, weed whipping, and my personal favorite from Natasha at The Stay at Home Feminist and her Chinese in-laws, “whipper-snipper.” My husband now says he will use that term whenever he is going to go whipper-snipper the lawn.
Out of 76 comments on my Facebook post, two of which were from my dad because he is very passionate about weed whacking, I ended up with a total of 85 answers. Those who said both were thrown out because you gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, and this is obviously very serious business. This is my marriage, yinz guys! I counted when people said, “I say such and such but my spouse says such and such.” That’s important information to me. I’m pleased to see other people living in multi-regional-dialect homes too; it’s hard at times. We need a support group.
And so, the totals. I know you’re waiting with deep excitement.
Other (trimming, edging, bushcutting, whipper-snipper): 12
And with that, my friends, the discussion is solved. From henceforth, the act of taking the weed whacker out to do that action shall be called weed whacking. Thank sweet baby Jesus, because if I hear weed eater one more time, I’m gonna break that sucker in two over my knee. It’s no big deal though, because recently BigBrother forgot that he likes to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary and referred to it as weed whacking. And my soul leapt with great joy. Great, Western Pennsylvanian joy.
Stay tuned for more installments of Pittsburgh Married Ohio: A Series on Regional Dialect and Marriage. While most of these posts will be written with the understanding that my husband is wrong and I am right, I can come up with at least two pieces of regional dialect that will put me squarely in the “wrong” category. Maybe I’ll write about those on days when no one reads the blog. Like Christmas.
stress = Something we fake argue about because fake arguing is the best arguing.
verbing = I can make up words. I’m an editor. But that made my point, didn’t it? Right.
We’re working to settle into a school year routine.
We’ve got soccer practice on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and by evening I mean five o’flippin’ clock, so I’m usually making dinner while on a conference call. As we always end up with Thursday evenings, the boys will miss the first few months of Children’s Choir, cheating us out of our one hour Thursday night dates. Homework gets done right after school. Right now it’s the easy stuff: read for 15 minutes, go over the math facts you already know, do this worksheet that is eleven billion times less complicated and less interesting than the workbooks your mom made you do over the summer. We try to get outside to play, to ride bikes, to take a walk, to go on a run, to breathe the fresh air while it’s still warm and inviting and not bitter and depressing.
We haven’t quite gotten used to everything just yet. We’re forgetting to do some things, clinging still to others we’d rather be doing, but we’re getting there… slowly and together.
With that comes the return to our library trips.
With the end of summer came the frenzy of “let’s go do all the things.” And so I just renewed the books we had online or dropped off any that simply had to be returned that millisecond. We didn’t make time for browsing aisles and looking up new series on the computer and sitting at the tables while mommy walked the aisles, running her pointer finger along the spines.
Tuesday will be our new library night. The library stays open until well after our early dinner hour. Chores can be finished up, books rounded up, and everyone piled into the car with the sun still shining… for now.
I made them stop at the new books shelf in the children’s section before setting them loose on their own. I like to help them find new books or series or interests before they go off in predictable directions: Pokemon, Star Wars, Puppy Patrol/Place, Hardy Boys Secret Files, anything super hero, and so on. I grab a book here and there and toss it in their bags; this month the library featured a shelf on the solar system, complete with worksheets, so I grabbed two books and some papers for their bags. I never tell them that a book is too old or too young for them. I let them sort that out at home.
At one point, they both wanted a pair of books in a series. The third and fourth book. While all of the books we borrow from the library sit in the same place in our house while we have them checked out, there’s always a “claim” over the one each boy checks out. I suggested that they each check out one of the books and switch when they finish reading. It was as if the idea never occurred to them. They both snatched a book from my hand and dropped it into their bag, moseying onward.
I grabbed some non-fiction for myself, before heading over to the Newbery winners and grabbing three, two off of Janssen’s list and one I knew I hadn’t read before. I want to get some reading in first to find some really good read aloud books before the winter sets in, pushes us inside where we curl up on the couch under crocheted afghans and read by the light of my favorite lamp. I don’t know what we’ll read together this winter, but I bet I’ll remember it forever.
Eventually, the boys made their way to the librarian’s checkout counter. BigBrother talked the one librarian’s ear off about Pokemon. Bless her, she carried a quality conversation on the subject; she must love a child that loves some Pokemon, that’s all I can figure. The boys carried their bags to the car, never once complaining how heavy their bags felt as that is the price you pay for being able to select as many books as you so choose. By the time I got myself in the car and buckled, they both planted their noses firmly between the pages of their book picks.
The ride home was silent.