Monday, February 27, 2012

A Running Trail Littered With Bodies, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, And Other Observations From A California Trip

Back from California, with a Hodge-podge of Rants

-Reading on vacation is so much different.  It just is. I am reading A Clash Of Kings and it is an  incredible piece (I call it Game of Thrones, part two). Not so much the prose but the plot and the characters and the vast world George Martin created. Bring on the HBO series.

As much as I love kindles I hate that I can't see what people are reading as I walk through airports and spy readers on airplanes. I always generate backstory in my brain about their lives when I see the title someone is reading, but now all I can tell is they have a kindle. Plus, seeing the title of a book in someones hands is a great conversation starter (slash) annoying excuse to be intrusive.   

The planes of Spirit airlines make noises you don't hear anywhere else, and the seats look like they were torn from a 1979 Ford escort

Out on some runs in California, and it confirmed to me that the best way to see and discover a new area is while you are on a run. Your eyes will see things different, and you'll uncover things  that would have otherwise remained hidden. I stumbled out of my hotel at 4:30 one morning (jet lag) and found a sweet beach area by following a path alongside the highway.  The path was littered with bodies, literally littered with bodies and shopping carts. It was a haven for the homeless, and they all had staked their claim along the side of the path and under bridges while this running dude darted between them. It was early and about 55 degrees, so they were just shadows and huddled in their blankets, still sleeping in the darkness.  Being cautious means I took one headphone bud out of my ear so I could hear any sudden movements.

It was too dark to see, but the smell of the salt in the air as I approached the beach was intoxicating  As I ran out towards the crashing waves I felt like raising my arms in triumph. I had to put one finger in the water to baptise at least the tip of my pointer and prove to my body and blood I had arrived.

Down the beach in the distance was what looked like a huge highway bridge heading from the street out into the darkness, so I ran towards it in a zig-zag, just out of reach of the waves, and as I got closer realized it was not a bridge but a huge pier.  I ran silently as I could down the pier  so as not to disturb anyone up ahead. The deep blue sea around me foamed at the mouth waiting for me to jump in and be eaten. It was as if my finger had just been an appetizer for the rest of my blood which had this strange yearning to just throw myself over the edge and crash into the surf bubbling below. The percentage salt content in our blood is the same as that of the ocean, which always confirms my belief that when we get to the point that earth meets the sea we feel whole again, and our insides yearn to return to their origins.

Yet, I have more life to live, and many miles to run before I sleep, so journeyed on down the pier.

If any fisherman had been up and looking for their morning catch, I would have turned around so as to not disturb their silent sport, but the place was completely empty. The only life aboard was me and a few seagulls, so I ran to the end, went from side to side, filled my lungs with as much of the fresh air as I could, and then back towards the beach. Finally, a few fisherman were at the beginning of the pier, now walking to cast their morning hopes. I gave a little wave but didn't get one back, just some disparaging looks. I was slightly fearful I would never  get back and find the trail in the dark that brought me there, but followed my own footsteps and found my way.  A few miles before home, a bit of the morning light finally brightened the mountain horizons, and men bundled up in big sweaters were summoned from their sleep and carried bags of cans and pushed their belongings in a shopping cart.  I ran gratefully and humbly in between back to my sleeping family who awaited me

That same day, When we got to Sea World at 8:30 AM, thinking it opened at 9 instead of 10, we had some time to kill so I drove back to the same beach in the full light of day with the whole family and danced and ran like silly tourists while true to heart beach bums and surfing rats began their day.

During my runs in California,  Only 1 out of 5 runners I crossed waved back to me. A small sample, but in Michigan I would have easily hit 4 out of 5.

I am going to have to write a novel about zombies or vampires sometime soon, because whenever my brain starts to write, some such monster is always creeping in.

San Diego zoo is all its cracked up to be. The animals just seem happier and are way more interactive. The whole place has a great vibe, and has been engineered with all sorts of twisting levels and pathways for different viewing angles.

That vibe was shattered a bit at Sea World when we paid 14 dollars to park and 40 dollars for four hot dogs, two chips and 2 pops.  Sea world had its moments, and it was great to watch my kids splashed by Shamu, dolphins, and feed some brave sea lions, but was not a must see.

-DisneyLand is like DisneyWorld after it has been smashed in the trash compactor of the Death Star.  Still, we had a great time. We did It's A Small World a total of six times, Pirates of The Caribbean three, tons of other events, parades, moments, and the ride Soaring was incredible.

-My first day back, I had tickets to see Rock Of Ages, a 80's rock musical. Nostalgia looks back with a hue of fondness on everything.  The show treaded this fine line between mocking the same music it was so fond of, and the story of dreams diverted was a bit touching and very comedic, and forced me to look at my days of rocking to Def Leppard with a smirk.  I am glad I went but not on my must-see list.


My novel STRAY has made it to the second round of the Amazon breakthrough Novel Contest! Yipppeeee! 5,000 entries have been narrowed done and 1,000 remain.  The next cut is on March 20th when 750 more will be eliminated. Grand prize is a contract with Penguin and a 15k advance.

Curious about STRAY, check it out here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Yin and The Yang: My Addiction and My Marathons

I will be on vacation for a bit so have written a monstrous, verbose, over sharing, weeks-worth of material put into one single post.  Hope you enjoy.  For further information on this topic, check out this link:   Author Interview On Treatment Talk

The Yin and The Yang: My Addiction and My Marathons

I am nearly 20 years into recovery from addiction.  Yes, it has now been nearly half my life.  There is no doubt I would have been dead had I not made the changes I needed to make in order to be sober.  My pancreas and liver were damaged, my spirit filled with so much despair, my family confused and lost, and after few hospital stays and various other changes, here I am; 12 marathons, two daughters, two novels (that makes four kids) and a masters degree in counseling but still in school as a perpetual PH.D. level stooge.

There is always a danger in talking about your addiction. In order to do it justice, you have to explain its depths and degrees and go into some gory details, otherwise it becomes just a tiny blip in the screen and a hangnail in the adventure of life.  My plunge into addiction was not just a case of one drunk driving, a couple of hangovers, or a few failed attempts to stop drinking. It was much, much worse.

On the other hand, often times when folks discuss their addiction there is a degree of bragging. Circumstances are exaggerated, amounts are tripled, the fish stories get bigger, all in a grandiose attempt to build up the teller’s tale.  I suppose you could call it the “A Million Little Pieces” lie, (referring to the novel where the writer fabricated and exaggerated his condition, all in an attempt to actually feed his ego and sell more books.) 

Strange how folks feed their ego by saying “I’m sicker than the rest of you” but it happens all the time, and it’s happening in a church basement at an AA/NA meeting as we speak. 

“Oh yeah, son? Well, I wrung more booze out of my tie then you’ll ever drink” or “I spilled enough cocaine off a mirror to kill most of you.”

Or then there’s the relapse bragger; the one who describes how he relapsed right in the parking lot of the first 23 treatment centers he went through and therefore his beast of burden is much more fearsome than the rest.

So, in an attempt to do my addiction justice, I need to add some details without glorifying and take the middle, watered-down road.

  By the time I was in high school, I was drinking daily, and this continued into my freshman year in college at The University of Michigan. Drinking was the only thing that made me happy, made me feel content and like I belonged. I was powerful, magical, and full of a nice warm glow that made me shine (or so I thought). These were my glory days, when I was superman and could do well in school, played some sports, was popular and could put all sorts of substances in my body in my ‘experiment of one’.  I was better than the rest who lived mundane existences because I was feeling really alive, on fire, burning with a passion for everything.  I could drink a fifth of vodka on a Wednesday night, go to class on Thursday morning, and come home with a B+ or better on my report card and all was well with the world.

Then of course it turned on me. I had shakes and sweats and got crazy fat. I couldn’t get by without a drink in the morning.  I bought $1.79 half pints of vodka, only to return to the store for another half pint and then another half pint, doing the dreaded half pint shuffle.

These guys used to be so cool until Axl starting drinking too much and got fat.  Hmmm, wait a second, that sounds just like me.

"I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it –
So the little got more and more –
I just keep trying to get a little better,
said a little better than before"
--Mr. Brownstone, Guns N Roses

To stop drinking was to have everything pulled away from me, so this was not going to happen. It was the only thing that made me feel significant, worthy, and filled all the holes in my spirit.  I needed it biologically to stop shaking, spiritually to feel I had a purpose, psychologically because god did I hate myself and always felt like a meaningless twerp.

My family didn’t know what to think and called me “chubhead” because I gained so much weight and was a disgustingly bloated alcoholic. (we all blamed the dorm food)  Things only got worse. A fight had a beer bottle thrown from afar smash on my chin and rip open my face, I had a couple of  police incidents, I had an inability to go to class because I was too gross or was afraid I would vomit or just felt so inhuman. And always, always scrambling to stop from failing out of school, in and out of academic probation, and taking incredible efforts to cover my tracks.

After having to leave the dorms for being put on probation, I moved into a house with some friends.  We had a party with candles and smoking and literally burned the place down one night.  One person was hospitalized but it could have been worse, and instead of learning a lesson, we sat in front of the house the day after full of self-pity and drank.

Worse than all of this, however, were the despair and the loneliness and perpetual bitterness that grew in my belly. It was like I was pregnant with a demon child that got bigger and bigger until it overcame its host. I was lonely, scared, hurt, and thrashing out at others and anyone I could blame and felt resentment at everything because I felt so insignificant.  Yet at the same time my brain became incredibly twisted so that I thought I was better than everyone. The more disgusting I became, the more my brain had to work overtime to create a contrary illusion of myself as some unique, extraordinary intelligent and misunderstood genius on an intellectual adventure.  All of this was bullshit, of course, and I was full of worthlessness in my essence that I couldn’t shake.

And to cope with this situation I just drank and used more. Being in a college town meant lots of opportunities to put different substances to my body, and I experimented and become my own pharmacist, adding a bit of that and a mix of this, which of course just made me grosser and more miserable.  When I think back on it, I can remember the misery and despair in the pit of my stomach, like a phantom limb or muscle memory, it remains there forever.  Healed over but now scarred to help me never forget.

When I finally failed out of school, the one thing that I had that I could point to fool myself that I wasn’t a total waste was gone.  My delusions were being stripped away.  I had no more weapons to fight back against the reality  (and it is the stripping away of weapons that has to happen before one can fully surrender) I had started going to hospitals for short detox stays, had DT’s and seizures, internal bleeding, and pancreatitis that was so incredibly painful.  I had blood in my stool, blood in my vomit, I drank after vomiting, drank in the middle of the night to calm down a pounding blood pressure, and  I responded by putting everything in my body I could to escape the pain of living. With each experiment to alleviate the pain, I was a worse monster for it.

In the end, I had become a sad silly cliche.  The self-pitying misunderstood artist (although I had no art to actually be misunderstood, or understood, I still liked to delude myself into thinking me an artist)

“You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely, But you know you only used to get juiced in it “
 My efforts to get sober largely failed.  I tried all sorts of measures, half measures, they are called. Cutting down, drinking only beer, drinking only on the weekend, writing down a chart (almost like a training plan) of how much I was allowed to drink each day. All of this in failed efforts to try and safe my life.  

Every relapse was bizarre but predictable.. One time I rationalized how it made sense to drink on the way home from the hospital after a three day detox.  Another time I was in such denial that I had convinced myself I had quit even while I was drinking, and with each step to get some vodka it was an out of body experience where I denied it was even happening.  As long as I could try to make everyone else think I wasn’t drinking, then I could live the lie. But it showed in my face and spirit and of course always progressed into something nasty.

I did go to one AA meeting in these early days.  It was so bizarre to me at the time, these happy, caring, but deep individuals who somehow weren’t drinking and seemed to look right through me.  When they hugged me at the end, we held hands for a prayer and their sober smiles tried to connect with my heart, I totally blew a circuit. I left the church parking lot and drove away to a local party store for a 40 ouncer.  Too much reality and connection for me to handle.

And so it went on and on.

It only took a full surrender, realizing and then practicing the concepts of AA/NA and believing that I was worth saving, that finally let some true sobriety take root in my heart.  I have a lot of mixed thoughts on AA, more than I could describe accurately here, but I fully believe in the concepts of the steps.  If you look at others who got sober, even those who say AA is full of crap, --chances are if you trace how they got sober, they also followed a path that mirrors AA concepts.  Having your false ego stripped away, surrendering  all your weapons of living and thinking, and turning ‘it’ over and letting go of anger, resentments, and your perpetual fight at the universe.

It was amazing once I truly let go, and I began to “intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me.”  There was indeed a new freedom and new happiness,

Yes, there is plenty of crap at AA meetings, and at times you could get drunk just from the alcohol fumes on the breath of many despite their claims they have been sober 30 years, but it is the place, as father martin said, “Where priest can learn from Plumber.”  A lot of healing, a lot of caring, and a place outcasts can call home.

The results of the steps are not staying sober.  You won’t find that in there.  The results are ‘A spiritual awakening’.  And once you become spiritually awake you will find a life worth living, that you have your place in the grand scheme of life, and that when you do your part and work with the universe, rather than against it, you will find that the flow brings some remarkable things your way.  Doesn’t mean you don’t have angst and don’t have plenty of issues and aren’t crazy as hell. My life is stranger in recovery than it was in addiction.

Part of what saved me was returning to things that brought me Joy in an earlier time. This included simple things.  The tiny little treasures of life, where joy was packed in tight and disguised. Little things like food, a cup of coffee, an episode of Seinfeld.

Other things that I returned to that once brought me joy included running. 

In high school, running was the only thing (besides a bit of AP English and cheating on my French Test) that I was good at.  I am sure it was body type.  Being fairly slight of frame, having the right type of fast twitch muscles for endurance, and being of the introverted dissociative type of mind inclined to go off on dreamy tangents during longer runs.  I had been a varsity miler my freshman year, turning in a 4:26 in my sophomore year, but then come senior year, I went on my spring break and never returned back to the field.  Spring break 1987 was the end of my early running career, and after years of serious deadly substance abuse, I came out of retirement to run again.

And now I figure if I could keep drinking despite all the pain it caused me, I can keep running no matter the discomfort.   I’m still chasing the high.   

Meeting my wife who was very fitness oriented is what sparked the running flame to burn brighter. She would go to aerobics classes 6-7x a week, sometimes two classes in a row, sometimes followed by roller blading an 8 mile hilly track.  Well, I upped my training in order to keep up (when you are young and in love you’ll do anything) and started to do some running events. My first was an off-road duathlon in which I took second place in my age group.  The second was the Detroit Free Press Marathon.  I ran with my cousin, also a first timer, and finished the event in Tiger Stadium.

This finish line was really just a new beginning.

All of this leading up to my premise that the life of an addict and the life of a marathoner are not that different, yet also polar opposites. Like the yin and yang, they are shapped the same but different colors. 

Both look at limits and blast right past them.

Both are looking to feel free. To use the body to extend past the body.  To modify chemicals to push oneself in order to transcend, because the amazing feeling of power and revelation I get during a run is actually what I was seeking by using substances.  They have that in common.

 Of course, one is based on fear, hurt, laziness, immaturity, and cowardess, and the other is based on discipline, bravery, and inner strength.  I’ll let you decide which is which.

Being a distance runner, you have to learn how to push your body.  Aches and pains are often to be dismissed in order to blast yourself up to higher performance, while care needs to be taken not to injure yourself.  As marathoners, we can run through pain, that’s part of the package.

And that same dismissiveness when the body pleads for you to stop drives addicts to continue to use their drug of choice.  An addict’s body’s always giving them signs to stop.  It’s there from the first bit of nausea when you took your very first drink, to the hangover and depleted energy, anhedonia and depression, but as an addict, you dismiss it for a larger, more powerful craving to get to ‘higher highs.’

“I’m still hungover from last night?  No problem, just get through the first few drinks (um, er, just run the first few miles) and then I’ll have energy to go on. Just get out the door, and push it.”  “That little ache in my head, that pain in my gut, that vomit on my chin, no problem, I am a Warrior and I can push on into something higher.”  In the words of Jim Morrison, ‘break on through to the other side’.

Because the life of an addict means that there is part of the brain that gives you energy, focus, and drive, and even creativity to get to the next high and dismisses all the signs to stop.  An addict craving his drug who needs money is the most creative and ambitious entrepreneur in the world and will come up with amazing quick ways to get funds for his drug. Nothing, not even silly things like ‘family,’ laws,’ or ‘ethics’ can get in the way.

Of course, the drive to feel intoxicated almost killed me, but I am doing the same now, ignoring pains to test my bodies and limits of my highs, only this time they are natural, and that is the difference.  .

If they packaged up the high you get from a run you could sell it at the local dope house, and make some sweet cash. Problem is, with running you have to work for the high, so it's one not everyone will bother with.  Natural highs get better over time, building on themselves; unnatural highs get worse over time. We were built to run, to catch our prey (see the book “Born To Run) and thus we are rewarded. 

When we do things that are good for life, we get rewarded. Life has its own instinct and own built in reward system. Life wants to go on, so when we strengthen ourselves, we are given a high.  That's the reason for the pleasures of sex, food, being physically fit.... Nature is built by a grand designer with built in failsafes to make sure life goes on.

Babies and puppies are cute so we don’t eat them.

Conversely, addiction is trying to ‘cheat’ nature and get a high we didn’t earn. Unnaturally.  We are trying to cheat our body chemically, and thus there is a debt to pay.  And each time we try to cheat it, we are left a little worse off.  It’s the Bizarro, anti-training, that spirals downward..

As someone who has experienced most of the highs that the world has to over, I'm so grateful to have running (and skiing and biking and lifting, but mostly running) as my go-to drug of choice. Running is a true spiritual experience that detoxes the brain, enriches the soul, strengthens the body, rearranges emotions, and lets all the pieces fall into place so that after each run I'm a new being. 

Add to that the communal feeling of a running event, and transcending yourself past previously superficially imposed barriers, and it’s a very psychedelic, long, strange trip.

Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see

With my tendency to be obsessive--,for looking at basic living and saying “you follow those rules”-- I also have a tendency to get wrapped up in other diversions and have plunged into following my goals of writing fiction.

Growing up, writers were my heroes, and so I literally made a bucket list with ‘writing a novel’ near the top.

Running is a form of physical expression same way writing is a form of expression.  While none of my novels are autobiographical, in each of them I have followed the adage ‘write what you know.’  Stray is based on my experiences as a substance abuse therapist (I also volunteered for a 100 hours at a animal shelter) and The Jade Rabbit is a combination of my experiences at a runaway shelter, my life as a marathoner, and my personal experience with adoption from China.

And every run I take a do a little writing in my head. About forty-five minutes in to any run my writing mojo is released. Running makes my ideas more grand, makes them flow, and lubricates everything so loose associations flow through my veins. I have great ideas, my characters have conversations, my plots turn incredible and I am master of the universe.  ROAR!!!

But then I return home and the reality of putting this on paper hits and it doesn’t always translate. I may have unique and grand ideas that sound good at the time, but then they don’t translate to the story and I never get them on paper.

So, I will continue to do my best to run through these posts, paragraphs, and digressions at pace that hopefully feels challenging, strengthening, and inspiring, and that at the end of them I hope you feel refreshed and found your time here worth while.

Read "The Jade Rabbit" - A story of a miraculous marathon run

Reviews of The Jade Rabbit


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GUEST BLOG POST - Memory Burning Movie Quotes

(So, I was complaining to a co-worker/friend about my ailments of late.  Been sick, not running, unmotivated, not writing, when she asked what she could do.  "Write me a guest blog post" I quipped.  Well, I woke up this morning to this post on my doorstep. Enjoy, and with just one word of encouragement, she will be putting herself out there on her own blog.)

Here's Johnny!

Memory Burning Movie Quotes

“… the second star to the right,  and straight on till morning.”
“I’d love to kiss you but I just washed my hair.” And of course the all too familiar
“You can’t handle the truth!!”
I am willing to bet that all of these quotes evoke some sort of image personal to each and every one of you. I know that for me personally I hear a British accent when I read the first one. I hear a rough and tumble Bette Davis with the second, and a convicted, forceful Jack Nicholson with the last. I believe when a screenwriter sets about writing the screenplay for a movie or TV show they don’t know what will or won’t be accepted and become a huge part of pop culture. It’s amazing to me how many lines from movies or television work their way into our lives. If I were to say “ How YOU doin’?” Would you know what I was referencing? Would it make you smile? Would the name Joey Tribiani click for you? It’s not that the phrase wasn’t used prior to the hit sitcom Friends, it’s more that you can’t help but hear Joey saying it now. It’s forever immortalized in Pop Culture.

When Mr. Matthews off-handedly mentioned me guest-blogging for him I basically told him he was crazy. I am not currently, what I would call, a “Blogger.” Essentially, I ramble on incessantly about things that I’m thinking at the time with little or no regard to how an “audience” will take it. It’s just what I’m thinking and in the mood to share with whomever is reading. Are you sufficiently confused yet? Are you bored? Hey YOU!!!! In the sweatshirt, slurping your coffee THIS IS NOT A TEST, Please vacate your daze and follow along, I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you are disappointed…well that’s just too damn bad, cuz for the current moment I’m all you’ve got. 
Anyhow, now that particular tangent is over let me get back to my story, where was I? Oh yes, being asked to write this blog entry. As you have no doubt noticed my writing style couldn’t be further from Mr. Matthews’. His writing is always definitive, intelligent and quite honestly engaging. I feel a bit more free, as I have absolutely no expectations, unless you count me expecting you to roll your eyes and laugh at me or even to skip this post entirely. I hope for the sake of experiments, that you might just continue reading. So, asked to write a post this is what came into my mind, Top 10 Kristi Picks of Movie Quotes to Everyday Life. So, here you have it. Enjoy or don’t. Agree or disagree. The reality is for these few hundred words, it’s what I’m thinking. I hope it at least takes you back. I’m not putting them in any particular order that is entirely too much work.
Top 10 Kristi Picks of Movie Quotes to Everyday Life

10. You can’t handle the truth!!!~ Definitely a classic example of a movie quote making its way into the everyday vocabulary of the common man. Even if you haven’t seen A Few Good Men, you are still pretty familiar with this quote. It’s used in many parodies or representations of the same situation. My favorite would have to be by Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar. Nothing like a little Jim Carrey to make you laugh until you pee your pants.
9.  …Bond, James Bond.~ Enough said.
8. Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.~ I think this is one of my favorites. You don’t necessarily hear “gin joints” when people paraphrase this line, but you hear it all the time. Of all the stores in all the towns…. Of all the little pet shops in all the towns. Wait a minute….Anyhow, its completely classic.
7. You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me?~ Hah this one is used everywhere. Comedies mostly nowadays, but seriously? Thanks Mr. DeNiro you are forever immortalized.
6. Run Forrest, RUN!!!~ Only, insert whosever name you so desire in the place of Forrest. I cannot hear anyone say these words without thinking of Forrest Gump.
5. Toto. I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. Oh yeah, this one is paraphrased and used so commonly it’s just there. Never to go away. Used in movies, books, TV and for us mere mortals in everyday conversation.
4.May the force be with you. The force is strong with this one.~ It doesn’t matter what quote you use from this epic franchise, the whole point is, it’s used every day. George Lucas…you created a monster
3.You complete me. You had me at hello. Show me the money.~ I’m lumping these all together because the amount of quotes that are used regularly from Jerry McGuire are ridiculous. My own Dad uses SHOW ME THE MONEY so often, it’s a family joke. I see people jokingly saying  “you complete me.” All the time. Raise your hand if you’ve ever attempted to fake sign “you complete me” to a friend/significant other or family member. <<raises hand>>

2. There’s no crying in baseball!~ Yep, only insert any form of any activity here and you have an icon of a quote. I’m starting to see a trend here. Tom Hanks you get really good roles.  Anyhow, who doesn’t remember or love that scene?
1.Nobody puts Baby in a corner.~ Okay, I know I know what you are all thinking. She picked THAT one to end with. Well, the truth is we could go on forever. These iconic phrases are used in today’s vocabulary and phraseology, like salt and pepper on steak. I just know these are some that I believe will stick around forever.

Just to make some of the people happy, here’s a list of a few Honorable Mentions, because I just couldn’t leave them out, and I didn’t feel like doing a top 20.
I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too! Wizard of Oz
I’m melting, I’m melting. Wizard of Oz
I feel the need, the need for speed. Top Gun
My precious. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return of the King
Here’s Johnny! The Shining
Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!! Scarface
We’ll always have Paris. Casablanca
If you build it, he will come. Field of Dreams

I won’t torture you anymore. If you made it all the way through this post, I appreciate you and I hope you smiled at least once and had a good memory montage in your head. Don’t worry, all your future posts will be from Mr. Matthews.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Two Weeks Off Your Feet And Building A Better Mousetrap

I was once told, when mapping out and planning your marathon training, to build in two weeks for absences from running where you will be off your feet for unexpected situations. This can be due to injury or illness, and isn't necessarily consecutive, but the premise being you are bound to get sick, injured, or hammered by life on the way and need to take unexpected time off running.
Well, I just used about about 10 days of my two weeks with a heinous sinus infection that has clawed its way deep into my mucus membranes. And it's not one of those "should I run or shouldn't I run" sicknesses, its been more like one of those "I can't ever imagine running again" ones. I tried the zinc, vitamin C route, tried the antibiotic route, and my next step is local exorcists. 

So, no running, not sharp enough to write, but some human experiences.  Man vs. Mouse.

I was pouring my favorite cereal dessert, Reeses Puffs, when a few yummy nuggets fell out of a slit in the side of the bag. Thinking nothing of it, I finished the cereal, and when I went to put the box away, noticed a nice little critter chewed a hole in the side of the box.

Oh no! I recognized the chewings from my Hamsters of yesteryear.  More investigation revealed multiple mouse droppings in the cabinet. We had a mouse, he was eating my reeses pieces, and this naked aggression would not stand.  Sure, i could have made him my little Mr. BoJangles, but not with his lack of respect.  I only imagine what was in that bowl of cereal.

So, I shopped for mousetraps, and found this cool plastic tunnel thing that snapps shut on the critter when they go inside and sends them to mouse heaven. I decided to use the very thing the mouse was attracted to for bait and stuffed Reeses Puffs into the mouse trap.

If only everything worked so well.  BAMN!  Snagged one on the first night.  Got Em. LIfe was back to normal.

But, not so fast, after scouring clean the cabinet of rat poop and other potential microscopic rodent fece material, I returned in the middle of the lite of day to find evidence of another mouse.    Back to get more rat traps, where this time I rubbed a little peanut butter on the resses puffs, and this fellow being a lot more gutsy or just less desirous to live without his friend, went for the bait five minutes after lights out that same night, and before I even fell asleep "SNAP!" got him.

Ingredients for Trapping A Mouse

Of course, there could be more than these two out there, but  traps on the floor - locked and loaded -- remain out and untouched, no sign of any nibbling anywhere.  Once my sickness gets over with, whenever that will be, I will go back to the war on the outside, but for now it's man versus mouse.

***Update:  Another Mouse sighting!  They're back. Oh no!  How the heck are they getting in?  Then again, maybe they are figments of my "going crazy because I can't run" brain and will cease and desist with my next eight miler. ***

Saturday, February 4, 2012


After seeing my doctor already once this week, I had to crawl back to her office. Now I have a monstrously evil and green sinus infection.  Fortunately, I also have a big blue bottle of antibiotics.   It’s a blue versus green battle. Go Blue.
Note to self:  when you get well again and feel like you are ready for running, you aren’t.  When you feel you are ready to run, then you should actually wait another day or two and then you might be ready.
Nobody loves us as much as our dogs and as our five year old children. My five year said to me, “Daddy, I am going to wish on the first star I see tonight that nobody in the world ever gets sick again.”
So sweet, but until the star comes out, I will be sick and accept it, and in the meantime, spend the time resting, sleeping, and dreaming.
I’m a big believer in the interpretation of dreams. It unites us.  There is something about the collective unconsciousness of all of humankind that appears in our unfiltered thoughts, a messy kaleidoscope of psychic barf that lands on the floor, tiny chunks of our head mixed in with undecipherable muck, but still somewhat recognizable as crazy as it all looks.  I am sure our ancestors had some of the same primal fears we do; dreams of falling, of flying, of being stuck in wet cement or swamp water and needing to run but feeling powerlessness.

I hope I wake before I land!

Lebowski in a flying dream

Well, the realm of marathoning has crept it’s way into my dreams, sprouting like tulips into my sleeping thoughts  from time to time,  and it’s probably no surprise. When something really scares you, invigorates you, enlivens all of your senses and has been subliminally implanted into your psyche and soul, it will inevitably end up in your dreams.

After many years of training, the physical experiences have left a mark, a permanent psychological imprint.  The dreams are as likely to happen if I am training for a marathon or not. There have been many of them, and some go like this:
Usually I am trying to finish the marathon but I am lost. The route follows a maze, often actually going into buildings, up and down fire escapes, through the windows and then back out the front of a building. (which would be cool, right, but of course, in the dream I am frantic.) I’ve lost the rest of the crowd, possibly never to find them again, and the whole idea that months and months of training are lost, all for naught, pooof! Out the door, and it's not just that I  wasted a  day, but I’ve wasted six months,  wasted my whole running life, I’m living a meaningless existence cause I’m lost, adrift at sea with no compass to guide me and forever forgotten…
Okay, I’m sensationalizing a bit, but there is huge panic being lost and unable to find the marathon course.
I have also had this same dream of being the leader of a marathon, in first place, but I have to follow these dotted lines to the finish but they zig-zag all over the place.
In one dream I showed up marathon morning in a pair of bowling shoes.  They were the big floppy kind that might of well have been clown shoes.
In another dream I was at the start but I had forgotten my shorts, so there I stood in thick cotton sweat paints, debating if I should try to make it home to get my gear (it was a big marathon and 40,000 people needed to get out of the  starting chute, giving me probably 20 minutes) or just run as is.
So, I guess these are versions of showing up to school in your underwear, forgetting to study for a test, and all our deepest silliest impossible to understand fears coming true.  And if nothing else, I wake up with gratitude knowing it was just a bad dream, just a lesson that things could be must worse, dreams could come true.  Wishing on stars, on the other hand always works.
I looked at a couple dream interpretations regarding marathons. Here's one:
To dream that you are running in a marathon represents life's journey and how you are performing or feeling. It is symbolic of your endurance and willpower. Consider how you feel about the marathon and how you are approaching it.
And here’s a post with the same running fears.. NY times Post on Marathon Dreams
So, I don’t think I have ever solicited for comments on this blog. Mostly because my fear is that the only folks who read it are my cousins down south and some guy from India who googled 'Dobby'.  But, I am curious if anyone has had these dreams, or am I that strange of a bird.


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