Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"She's so high, high above me; she's so lovely..."

I am not sure why I title all my posts with song titles or lyrics. I think I missed my calling as a singer/songwriter. Of course, I can't sing. So there's that.

Anyway, those lyrics are in my head, because I'm on a runner's high right now. And I had to write this blog to thank all of my friends who are runners -- you know who you are -- for inspiring me to push myself and run.

Here's the thing with me and running. I have always hated it. My favorite thing to say when asked if I run was, "Only if someone's chasing me." It hurt my knees. It hurt my shins. It made anything in my stomach slosh around and find it's way back to my esophagus. It hurt my freaking teeth. I had always accepted that I'd never be a runner.

Then something happened. Well, a lot of things happened. I hit my thirties. My metabolism slowed down. My mid section started to take up more room. None of this made me happy. Then I took a really awesome inversion workshop with a really amazing instructor (shout out to John Vitarelli -- take his class at Yogawood -- he rules!), and I realized that part of the reason I have trouble with inversions is that I have poor core strength. And part of the reason I have poor core strength is that I have some excess belly fat. And part of the reason for that is that I totally do not do enough cardio. Cuz it's boring. And I hate it.

So. The goal then became: find cardio that is fun. So in the summer, there was tennis, but the trouble with that is you need a partner. I thought about joining a league, but that costs money. I have no money. And then there was biking. I bought a bike. But to get super serious about biking enough that I could drop a few pounds, I'd have to have a better bike that I could race and stuff. And there are really no hills in South Jersey, and biking is not that hard with no hills. So then it was back to cardio at the gym. Elliptical. Boring. And my body is used to it. And for some reason, with all of those activities (with the exception of tennis, which involves what?...running), my heart rate never seems to elevate enough. My heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature have always been on the low side. I guess I'm a metabolic underachiever.

A few weeks ago, I was at my parent's house, and I was going to go to their basement to use the treadmill, but it was so nice outside, I decided to throw on my mp3 player and walk outside. But again, I cannot seem to walk fast enough to really get my heart rate up to the point the I feel like I'm working. So I started to run. And I almost died. I was alternating running and walking and all the while cursing the pavement, my feet, my body, the hot sun, the people out running who didn't look like they were going to die. I lasted about 20 minutes. The next day, my shins hurt so badly that I could barely walk.

I consulted my runner friends. Was this normal? Or was my body seriously just not designed for running? My wise, wise friends pointed out that maybe after pretty much a lifetime of not running unless it involved chasing a ball or being chased by a predator, throwing myself full force into a run without even wearing the proper shoes was not the most well thought out idea. And then it occured to me...that is how I had always approached running. I had always expected myself to be able to run full force for miles, even if I hadn't run in years. Or ever, really. I let my ego get in the way of my progress.

Armed with this newfound sage wisdom, I printed a training program from runnersworld.com. I invested in a decent pair of shoes and a decent sports bra. (This is another reason running started to look enticing...it's relatively cheap. All you need are decent shoes and, if you're like me and God gave with both hands in the boob department, a bra that will keep you from knocking yourself unconscious.)

The next day, I hit the pavement again. The first phase of the program was pretty simple. Run 1 minute, walk 2 minutes. And I did it. And the next day, my shins didn't hurt. Much. I am still on that phase of the program. I can't follow it as strictly as I'd like, because yoga training takes up too many of the days. So it will take me longer than the 8 weeks the program is designed for to reach the ultimate goal -- running 2 miles in roughly 30 minutes.

I may never reach that goal. Time will tell. But I am proud of myself. I'm proud of myself for trying something that I never thought I could do. I'm proud that I'm challenging myself. And I doubt I would ever have done it without such wonderful, inspirational friends. To all my runner friends -- Jamie, Sharon, Dave, Bethy -- you inspire me. The light in me salutes the light in you!

Namaste. Peace. Love. Cardio.


Monday, September 28, 2009

"On Love, In Sadness"

"Little things you said and did are part of me, come out from time to time. Probably no one I know now would notice. I never thought so much could change." -- Ben Folds, "Sentimental Guy"

There are things I still carry around with me. That I miss you the most when it rains, and my mind drifts back to when we used to lie in your bed and watch the sky change colors during a storm. That it still feels like taking a punch to the gut every time I see you. That I trusted you more than I ever trusted anyone in my life, and I don't know if I'll ever really get over how much you hurt me. That there have been other break ups before and after you, but that for some cosmic reason I can only hope to someday understand, it is the memory of our relationship that is like pouring salt in a fresh wound.

I am trying not to care. I am trying to realize that it was never going to work. And I do realize that. When I see you, I am trying to see the REAL you -- the insecure, immature man child that you are -- instead of the potential that I always saw in you. I don't want you back. I just want not to hurt anymore. Or at least, not to see you anymore, which I think is really what causes me to hurt in the first place. When you weren't around, I wasn't feeling this way. Or at least I wasn't paying attention to it. This sounds mean, huh? I don't mean for it to. I don't want bad things for you. Wishing bad things on someone else is a waste of energy. And I think honestly it only comes back to us in the form of bad karma.

Maybe it's the time of year. It's harder to be alone when the nights get colder. Or maybe it's because "Dexter" premiered last night, and we always used to watch it together, on your sofa under the afghan with the giant holes in it, after you dropped the baby back off at her mother's house. Or maybe it's seeing your comments on our mutual friends' facebook pages -- a recent photo of you and Addi, so big now I don't know that I'd recognize her. Maybe it's because my brother is getting married on Saturday, and I have to go the wedding alone and read a poem, preferably that I've written. Last time I read a poem at a wedding, you were my date. Seems like a thousand years ago now. Apparently, I am now the poet laureate of wedding ceremonies.

Maybe it's because even though there are many amazing things happening in my life right now, they seem somehow diminshed without someone special to share them with. And it seems unfair that you seem to be always attached to someone, while I seem to be always alone. I shouldn't compare; I know. (Every time I type a semi-colon, by the way, I remember how you used to laugh at me for using them in texts and online chatting.) Anyway, it shouldn't matter what you're doing or who you're with. And I guess it doesn't, really. Except that it does. It matters because I still hurt, and you look at me as though you don't know me, and I feel foolish, and I feel stupid, and I feel used, and I hurt like hell. And I am angry with myself for still allowing it to hurt this much.

I know I shouldn't dwell on negative shit. I know I have a lot of really good things going for me. But sometimes, it just hurts like a motherfucker, and everywhere I look, everyone seems to need something from me -- my friends, my family, my patients -- and I am drained and tired and sick to death of forcing smiles ("surface smiles," I think you used to call them), and I just fee like I don't have a damn thing left to give to anybody. Sometimes, I find myself drinking margaritas with a friend after a night of speed dating hell that was not my idea where I was reunited with a freak from my past who apparently is an obsessed fan and can quote my work to me verbatim, and I find myself telling my friend, "You know, the irony becomes less funny when it's your life, and you feel like it's all just a big cosmic joke." And sometimes -- more often than not -- I find the conversation turning to you, and I find in spite of myself that the tears are stinging my eyes and the lump is rising in my throat, and I am excusing myself to the rest room where I can break down in peace. And sometimes, in the rest room, I find something random and ridiculous like side by side toilets in a single stall bathroom...

...and I think, "Goddamn, he would find this funny." And the hurt that comes with that thought is so exquisite that I can feel it burning from my stomach to the back of my throat, threatening to take me down.

But I refuse to be taken down. I'll write a story about these goddamn toilets. And maybe about you. And maybe about the burning, exquisite hurt that follows a love whose potential went unrealized. And maybe someday, there will be someone for me whose greatest legacy in my life won't be the pain left by his absence, but the pain alleviated by his presence.

Until then, I have words. And I have a spirit. And I will not be broken.