Monday, July 9, 2012

The Maybe Marathon

I think I've signed up for the Richmond marathon maybe three or four times already.  Every year it's in November, but I have yet to actually run it.  One year I got hit by a car in August.  One year I found out I was pregnant in September.  One year I'm pretty sure I just gave up.  But this is the year, dammit!  I've been running pretty steadily for the last few months, and today I started my actual 18 week training plan (Hal Higdon, if you're interested in these things).  I set my alarm for an obscenely early hour, and  promptly slept through it.  I'm pretty sure my sleeping self just thinks my awake self is an idealistic asshole, so she ignores me.

I rolled out of bed when I heard Henry crying for me, far too late to get a run in and still make it to work on time.  So when I got home I had to scramble to beat the rain that's looming over us, but hasn't actually fallen.  I trundled through my three miles, dragged the trash out to the street, gave Henry a bath, and am now settling in for the night, promising to get up early and actually get my run done tomorrow morning.

Lots of people have asked me why I'm doing this.  Well, they don't so much ask in words, but in their response to you saying you're going to run a marathon.  I don't go around telling people this, because quite frankly if I fail the fewer people to say "So, how'd that marathon go?" to me, the better.  But when exercise and fitness comes up, and I mention that I'm training for one, the look I get is generally one that you would associate with someone saying something like "So I've decided I"m going to quit work and cartwheel all day" or even "I just crapped my pants."

To be fair, I've heard the second one can and does happen to marathon runners.  It's a legitimate fear.  That, nipple bleeding, and your upper arm flaps catching in the breeze and blowing you back a mile or two.  Well, these are the things that I worry about, anyway.  Although the last one could work in my favor if I catch a back wind and sail across the finish line like one of those flying squirrels.

I used to be a pretty ok runner.  I ran cross country in high school and always placed in the top ten, but was never really a stand out.  I had it in me to be a great runner-I just never tried that hard.  Lately I've realized that there's not too much I have tried that hard at.  I'm lucky enough that i get by on mediocre effort-I made good grades, I do okay at most jobs I've had, I found a nice little weird group of friends.  I think a lot of people are like that.  It's not the trying hard that scares me-it's the failing.  I mean, what if I put everything into something and it blows up in my face?

I decided I"m going to start finding out.  The first thing I knew I wanted to do the best I could at was motherhood.  I knew if I ever had a kid I was going to love the hell out of them and be the best mom I could be-which doesn't mean helicoptering or making excuses for them or spending every free moment skipping through fields of wildflowers or making them completely dependent on me.  My friend at work, Steve, has a saying he got from his dad.  "Give them a strong foundation and wings."  So make a solid kid and then make them want to get the hell out of your house and live their own lives without doing anything too stupid. I try to plant seeds for good growth daily in Henry.

Like today, when he was eating blueberries and Ben was mentioning that he'd seen a guy with a Redskins neck tattoo, and I cradled my son's beautiful little face in my hands and said "Henry, if you get a neck tattoo, Mommy won't pay for college."

And before my many tattooed friends get mad at me, I'm not against tattoos. Quite frankly I think good ones are great.  I went nerd-girl over guys with black glasses and tattoos before Target started selling Ramones t-shirts to hipster tweens (and before nerd-girls realized they could get guys).  I went to a super preppy college, and instead of donning the sweater set and attending semi formals, I found a bunch of townie misfits who were in bands or wanted to go see bands and introduced me to punk rock and who helped me figure out who I am.  I sat in class next to people in polo shirts and capris wearing my Descendants shirt proudly.  Not that all preppy people are jerks and all tattooed musicians are great-there's douche bags in every group, and I"m an expert on that, because I dated all of them.  In my late teens and early twenties I was a goddamn d-bag magnet.  But most of those townies I could still sit down and have a beer with, and I kept in touch with exactly one person I went to college with (and she is a totally awesome mom who suggested we write a book called Mamacide) (copyright pending).

But my point is, tattoos can be great, I married a guy with four and can't think of many people I know besides me that doesn't have one.  That being said, don't fucking get them places where business dress won't cover them.  Because as much as you like the tattoo and that area of your body, you might also like getting a legitimate job one day, and playing punk rock on the weekends.  And guy with a Redskins tattoo on your neck...well, I just don't know what to say to you.

Anyway, I"ve gone severely off track, but my point was, I've got a great kid, I've got a great job, I've got a great tattooed husband and now I've got a marathon to run.  Stand back, people, Megan's going to make an effort.  Maybe we'll all be surprised by the results.

Or maybe we'll all just crap our pants.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


It is way too fucking hot.

Before you say anything, yes, I realize it is July, and yes, I realize I voluntarily live in the South.  In my defense I live in the upper border of the south, and we're often politely included in the "Mid-Atlantic Region", but right now, I'm not able to tell that we're there and not in the pits of the hell that is the state of Georgia.  Sorry if you're offended by that, but I lived in Augusta for four years and all I remember is heat, rattlesnakes, fire ants, and the promise I made to my six-year old self that once I got out I'd never live there again.  So far, so good.

I do have some interesting memories from that time-including one where a rattlesnake was in a neighbor's tree, and the wife called my mom to come get it out.  This probably seems odd, but when all the men were at work, my mom was the closest thing to a guy my neighborhood had.  The women there were Junior Leaguers who wore hose and full makeup to go to the mailbox.  To say my mom didn't fit in is possibly the greatest understatement in the history of time.  She ran, she wore shorts and sneakers to the grocery store, and despite my dad making a perfectly generous salary, insists on wearing t-shirts she got for free until they quite literally fall apart at the seams and/or my dad throws them out.  She didn't hide insults in compliments, she had no time to sit over iced tea and gossip, and she worked.  Probably the biggest scandal was that her best friend, and my godmother, was black, and if you think the South was integrated in the sixties, then you weren't in Augusta in the eighties.  She also, trust me on this one, was not afraid to use less ladylike methods than they did in corralling her four kids.  She seemed to take in the situation she'd found herself in, and rather than attempt to blend, set out to stand out even more.  She planted a herd of pink flamingos in the front lawn, and decorated our house like Vegas for Christmas with the sole intent of pissing off the neighborhood wannabe Southern elite set.  She also acquired a strange flock of poultry that terrorized the neighborhood and more than once ended up swimming in the neighbor's pool.  Most of these women stood for everything that she was against, and if she was going to be the odd man out in the neighborhood, she was going to take it to the next level.  At this point in my life I feel proud of her for saying "Fuck fitting in, I'm going to buy some turkeys" but it was hard to understand then.

So our neighbor calls her about this snake (not the lady with the pool that our geese enjoyed, the one on the other side who still spoke to us), and she went over there with a shovel.  I remember her hitting it once, and then she sent me home, possibly realizing that you don't want a pissed off rattlesnake around your six year old child.  I don't remember what happened after that, but I imagine she gave the snake the look that later made her a very effective middle school teacher, and advised it to get out of there and think about what it had done.  I feel sorry for that snake, and hope it decided to show up on the perfectly manicured front lawns of some of our neighbors to send big-haired women screaming back into their homes, and built its self esteem back up.

When we left when I was nine, I feel certain there was a celebration in our neighborhood, not just from the people who felt we were bringing down home values,  (we were) but also by the various poisonous animals who no longer had to live in fear of my mom.

Virginia has been much kinder to our family, although we all do tend to be oddballs, and my mother is currently at war with one of the neighbors on her backwoods street because he hates her dogs, possibly because they are really loud and tend to escape and roam the neighborhood.  They are also not terribly nice or attractive, as my mom is drawn to the misfits of the human and animal world.  It's gotten to the point where I couldn't guarantee that every animal she has can technically be classified as a dog-at least, not fully.  She has one that looks like a Dalmation mated with a special needs sheep.  I've stopped commenting on them because I've learned over the years that she will always take their side over mine, even when they bite me.  And they do.  She has literally made me sit on the floor because the couch was taken by the dogs.

But back to the heat.

Henry has been bouncing off the walls, he is not used to spending so much indoor time.  We're trying to get out in the morning.  I load the jogging stroller up with dinosaurs and juice, and go for a run.  He gets pretty pissed when I go running without him, and really, it's beneficial to me to run with a stroller.  Because I'm pretty slow at this point, but with the stroller, I look slow because I'm pushing a child here, you judgmental prick, not that I'm out of shape.  And the people who see us don't need to know that I'm just as slow without the stroller.

So we run for a while and then try to find a shady place to sit and have a snack and play some soccer, and I try to wear the kid out a bit before it officially becomes child endangerment to have him outside.  We tried to go down to the little creek the park has, but as we made our way down there yesterday, I heard someone clear their throat, and I saw a middle-aged man in jeans and workbooks just....hanging out in a very random part of the park.  I decided to head out of there to let him have his privacy and also because I like being alive.  When I told Ben about this, he pointed out that it was far more probable that this man was sitting in the woods waiting for a blow job from another man, as our park is a fairly popular hookup spot.  (FYI, guys who go to public parks for illicit sex, you should at least look like you're going for a hike or something.  If I see you head to the trail in a shirt and tie and wingtips, I don't think you're going for a hike).  Either way we left him to it, as fellating a strange man in the park is just above getting stabbed by a strange man in the park on my list of things I'd rather not have happen.

So we headed on home, and spent the rest of the day migrating between the A/C and the backyard, where Henry splashed around in the pool and ran terrified from the sprinkler I bought for him.  I'm feeling really bad for my friends and family in the Amherst/Lynchburg area who got hit really hard by a storm last week, and many of whom still don't have power.  So I'll quit my bitching and send out lots of hope that AEP gets everyone up and running soon, and that you don't melt.