Monday, September 6, 2010

all i ever wanted...

Ten fingers and ten toes.

That's the shorthand, isn't it? "What do you want?" "Oh, we just want him to have ten fingers and ten toes; a healthy baby, that's all!"

It's so simple, and, right then, so true. Later, things get complicated.

I want him to be kind. be himself. be joyful. make wise decisions. grow up. stay little.

The wants, those daunting tasks, keep you awake at night. And then, he laces his five healthy fingers into yours, smiles, says "I love you, Mom."

It's so simple, so complex, and all you've ever wanted.

This was part of the 100 words challenge, over at Velvet Verbosity. This week's prompt, "fingers".

Saturday, August 28, 2010

100 words....challenged

Encouraged by my friend Gregg, I decided to try my hand at the 100 words challenge. I had actually composed an entry for last week's prompt, but deleted it in a fit of "you are not a writer so why would you play at this?" insecurity. Then G told me I should do one. So. This week, I did. Writing off the prompt was easy, getting it to 100 words was haaaaard.

Here it is...this week's prompt was corridor.

Jim slowed to a walk as he approached the creek bed. Pop's funeral was a damn poor reason to return to Monrovia, he thought. Jim remembered those long-ago childhood Saturdays, felt the cool creek water rushing around his calves as Pop helped him reel in his very first fish. Nothing tasted better than that first bite...

The delivery truck's rumble interrupted Jim's reverie. The creek was actually kind of...brown. Runoff, he supposed, from the condo construction upstream. Jim walked back toward his rental Honda, sidestepping the full restaurant dumpsters, past the sun-bleached sign: "The Monrovia Creek Business Corridor...Progress IS our Future!"

Sunday, May 9, 2010


If every blog entry represents a story, or part of one, this one starts in the middle. Yesterday was the 2010 Sole Burner 5K. I ran in it. It was my first 5K, and I finished it--all of it running, even the Hill of Hope (or as i have been calling it in dread for the past few months, That Damn Hill), in a respectable (for me) time.

That's the middle of the story. The beginning? Well, it depends on how far back you want to go. I could go back as far as grade school, or high school, but that makes the story longer.

So the background information you need is this: all my life, I was not a runner. No matter how in shape I was, or how athletic, I never ran. I Was Not A Runner.

The real story begins in...oh, October of 2008. The cast of characters includes a group of very dear friends, and the setting a lovely apartment with a lake view. There was a gathering--the very first wine club. Four of the wine club members had recently (that day? I think) run a local 5K as a team, and took first place. As we all talked about it and celebrated with them, one of them (maybe all of them) turned to me and said "You should run it with us next time!"

I was flabbergasted. Me? Run a 5K? Were they kidding? Have they looked at me lately? I would just embarrass myself even trying to run with these people.....but that comment stuck with me. I mean, they must have thought I could do it, to say that, right? And I remembered that a year ago, the day before I found out I was pregnant with Benjamin, I had found this training program called Couch to 5K. That sounded about right...maybe I could try it.

There were a lot of fits and starts, but I really started in earnest in Spring 2009. I was part of an online community of friends, and many of the community members were also doing C25K. So I started, on the treadmill. I did some crosstraining in the pool. Later that summer, I ventured outside, and made it up to 2.5 miles by September. Then, the semester came, and I fell off the wagon, hard. By Christmas, though, I was ready to recommit. I had asked for a Garmin Forerunner 305 for Christmas, and got it. And, I was sick of feeling gross, fat, and out of shape. So back to the gym I went. Had some setbacks along the way (shin splints, ew), but made it through the C25K program.

And this brings me to yesterday, standing in City Park in Appleton with about 6000+ other people in the 39 degree weather, with a slight rain and wind, waiting for the start of the Sole Burner. I had been nervous all week, because my training runs leading up to the race were not going well. I just felt kind of burned out on training. So I stopped--Monday before the race was my last "long" (for me) run. I spent the week resting and reminding myself of the one thing that had kept me going...a good run was really quite fun. It felt good. And that's what I signed up to do...have fun, and just finish. That's all I needed to do. The week before the race, the weather forecast got progressively worse. Finally, the night before my race, my parents and I (I was staying at their place in Neenah the night before) sat on their couch and chastised George Graphos for having the nerve to SMILE when he talked about the prediction of snow and rain on the morning of May 8.

As I drifted off to sleep in the little bedroom at my parents' house, in the bed my son sleeps in when he stays over, I told myself that no matter what, I could say my first race was an adventure. The next morning, I woke up to sprinkles and chilly temperatures....but no snow. The rain continued as I drove to Appleton, but it eventually slowed to a slight mist. I stood in the park and watched the kids run around the block in two separate fun runs, and took in the scene. Thousands of people, all with their own stories, united in a common goal of challenging themselves (whether it be in a walk or a run) and in raising money for the American Cancer Society. I saw many t-shirts with dedications to cancer patients on them. I heard one mom say to her daughters, "remember, this is for Grandma!" I saw a man with a shirt saying "I survived cancer and 53's my birthday!" It was a poignant scene, at once sad and celebratory.

This is a big race, and everyone starts at once. Since I knew I was not an elite racer, I lined up towards the back, so there was quite the bottleneck at the beginning. It took over a minute to get through the start, but eventually we were off. We headed toward College Avenue, and then over the new College Avenue bridge. I wish I could give more details about the race itself, but it seemed to go so fast! Here are the things I remember, in chronological order.

**The walkers off to the side who were singing songs as they went
**The beautiful old homes on Franklin and on College Avenue, and people coming out of the houses to watch.
**Someone shouting out "One Mile!" as we came off the bridge, and me thinking "already?"
**The first hill on South River, which many people around me stopped and walked up, even though it was pretty minor to me. That was my first clue that maybe my training had really done something for me after all.
**The water station. I didn't need it, but there were volunteers there cheering us on.
**"TWO MILES!" A volunteer calling out our times, which were about 1:20 off from what my Garmin said
**Wondering when I'd see my parents...I wasn't sure where they'd be.
**Coming around Olde Oneida, where one woman cheered every runner on, shouting "Just one curve and a tiny little hill to go, and you're done!" and "Smile! I want to see smiles! You don't have to breathe, just smile!" It made me laugh
**Seeing my parents' van parked in a lot, and knowing I'd see them soon.
**Glancing across the way at the upcoming Hill of Hope, grimacing, and hearing the person next to me laugh knowingly at my expression
**Hearing a man say to his partner, "just one more hill honey, then we're done"
**Seeing my mom and dad clapping for me, hearing my mom saying "You're almost home!"
**Approaching the Hill of Hope--this is where I finally turned on my iPod, and listening to "Sabotage"--perfect.
**Getting on the hill and thinking "this actually isn't so big..."
**Getting to the top, scanning for my husband and sons, knowing they were at the top somewhere. Running through two walkers accidentally--sorry about that, ladies.
**Seeing Steve, Matthew, and Benjamin, giving Steve a high five and telling him "I made it up the hill!"
**Seeing the finish line, and deciding to sprint toward it
**Getting a little exasperated that people were stopping BEFORE the finish arch we had to run through
**Being done. 33:50, according to my Garmin. Official time, 35:05

I immediately started walking back to where I saw Steve and the boys, thinking they'd make their way toward the park to find me. When I caught up with them, they presented me with a "medal" they had made--it said #1-Good Job, Mom! I couldn't ask for a better prize.

So, that's the middle of the story. It's the middle, because I loved everything about that race. I'll do it again, and I'm going to try to keep going with this. I owe a lot of people thanks--my husband, for never complaining about watching the kids when I would go to the gym or out for a run. And for telling me I WAS going to go out even when I really didn't want to. And for believing in me. J, B, K, and J for being the first to inspire me. MATH for keeping me going. A for inspiring me with her own determination and success in becoming a healthier person through WW. So many more for cheering me on. And that's the story. I'll never be an elite, and that's just fine with me. But I think I can actually say this now, something I never dreamed I would say...I am a runner.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

how to write a love story

Well, I don't know HOW to write a love story, but thanks to my awesome writer friend J, I had the chance to make an attempt tonight. I wrote a bit, shared a bit of that bit, and finished it up after the session. I thought I'd share the whole thing here. It's just a draft, but my writerly friends tell me that doesn't matter. we go!

We'll start with two lists...

Things Steve wants me to tell you:
1. He is very good looking.
2. He is very good at....many things.
3. This one time, he spent his whole day unloading pumpkins, in order to get me a coat. When we were poor grad students, he got his best girl a coat. With pumpkin money.
4. No, Matthew, you can not have more candy!!


Well, he got interrupted. Such is life in the Abler house today. We take our romance where we can get it, in fits and starts.

Things I want to tell you about Steve:
1. He is very good looking.
2. He is very good at....many things.
3. The pumpkin story? It's true. But there is more to that story, that I need you to know. One, I was actually wearing that coat tonight when he told me to say that. The funny thing is, he didn't know that. I don't really wear that coat often. If you could see that coat, you might understand why. It is about ten years old, and pretty tattered. The lining is ripped in several places. Putting something in the pocket is a test of faith...or an expression of a desire to gamble with your possessions as you never know where they'll land. I have other, newer, more stylish coats. I probably should get rid of it--make room in our overcrowded closets, perhaps. But of course I can't. How could I? It's the pumpkin-money coat. It reminds me of that cold day he spent harvesting all those pumpkins. The only day he ever took off his wedding ring--slipping it carefully in his pocket so that it wouldn't slip off his finger.


I could continue on, in a list. I want to do that--want to tell you all the funny, amazing things about the last almost-fifteen years. I want to do a list....but I'd never finish it. I'd never be able to express, explain, illustrate everything. How do you describe a relationship that began when you were 19? How do you capture the fact that 15 years ago, in that dorm room, and on that fateful midnight walk along the lake, and during all those fast-moving years...that back when it all began, you had absolutely no idea what you were doing? How do you express the wonder and amazement that your temperamental soul and his stubborn soul made it when you were not just navigating a relationship, but figuring out who the heck you were? How do you acknowledge how crazy it was that you didn't move apart, that you didn't break up, even when maybe you should have--an dhow damn grateful and lucky you are that you were both too stubborn--or maybe even too stupid, at times--to realize it? How do you do all that while making it clear that this is a love story, indeed, that you know you could never be half the person you are without him by your side?


I guess, you just do. Just like the love itself, you just....write it. Live it. Honor it. I know we have this story, but my memory doesn't easily write narratives. My memory is sharing snapshots. Here we are, at the lake. Here's our first apartment in Blacksburg. And that's the sound of our laughter at some silly radio show, too-early in the morning, as we zoom past Huntington, West Virginia, the sunrise in our rearview mirror, in hour 4 of our 13 hour drive home for the holidays. Here we are, making Virginia our home. And there we were, living apart for a whole year, by circumstance, not choice. Here are the joys. The laughs. The losses. The tears.The fights.The make-ups.The growing.The sharing.The learning. Here are our sons, our beautiful boys, our hearts expanding to make room for more. Here we are today, almost 15 years later, with so much history, and so much more to come. Here's to the fullness of life--a life in which we probably still don't really know what we are doing, really...but now we know we'll live it together.

Here we are, in love.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

end of year stuff

Look, blog. I try, I really do. I LIKE the idea of writing in you more often, even though approximately two people read you. And it's not you, it's me. I know, lots of other blogs have owners who write in them regularly, and it's not fair you got stuck with me. Now, that said, here's a fancy little meme that I will answer just to get writing in you again. We cool?

Originating with Linda at All & Sundry. (I think. It's all over the bloggernets but word on the street is that Sundry started it...)

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Ran 2.5 miles...and started to enjoy running! Crazy! Served on a NSF proposal review panel. Hosted wine club!

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I...don't really make resolutions. I think that's setting oneself up for failure. I did have goals, which were summed up under "Be More Awesome". I think I that I made better choices. I chose to surround myself with people who treated me with kindness and to reciprocate the best I could, I chose to refocus on my teaching and find what I really enjoyed about my job, and I chose to make my health a priority as I am no longer a college/grad student who can get away with abusing her body through eating junk, lack of sleep, and marathon work sessions without seeing some blowback.

Of course, in no way was I perfect. Especially the last one...I fell off the health wagon as soon as the fall semester started, and I can feel it. I realize that I have GOT to figure out how to manage my time so that I can get to the gym and/or exercise on a daily basis. I'm a better person all around when I do. And I need to be more consistent about my food choices. So that's going to be my big goal, I think. In general, though, I just want to be the best wife, mother, friend, and teacher I can be.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Well, there was baby R.! What a cutie.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, but a close family member to a good, good friend did, and that was very sad.

5. What countries did you visit? No other countries, but we did go to Hawaii.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Balance! More time for personal endeavors/family. A house that looks put together and inviting inside and out.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? I don't know if any specific dates...2009 made a lot of memories, but I'm not sure there's a single day involved.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I don't know? I just keep rolling along...maybe the grant, in terms of work? Or the teaching evaluations that said "I took this for a gen ed, but it was my favorite class?" Personally...I think I got much better at expressing what I need and working for that.

9. What was your biggest failure? Time management. Not racing a 5K.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing serious! I dropped my food processor on my hand when walking up the stairs the other night, and that was a total bitch, but I lived!

11. What was the best thing you bought? I didn't buy it, but I got a waterproof MP3 player and a Garmin Forerunner for Christmas. Have tried out the MP3 player, and it is excellent.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? So many people. Steve. Wine Club crew. Will Allen. Robert Kenner. Kitrina. Alexa. Chris. These people keep me going and inspire me.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Many, many politicians, on many, many levels.

14. Where did most of your money go? Daycare. Children. And house stuff--tuckpointing, replacing window glass, patio, exterior paint touchup, gutter guards--you know, the sexy part of being a homeowner.

Fun stuff--probably food and travel.

Steve wants me to say "moonshine, tobacco, guns, and women." So...yeah.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Hmm. Seeing friends get the happiness they deserve.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? Easy. Journey!! "Don't Stop Believing"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? Happier, fatter, richer (a little bit).

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Live in the moment. Exercise. Plan meals. Make a difference.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Worry about things that are out of my control, waste time on the internet.

20. How did you spend Christmas? Christmas Eve--watched White Christmas and wrangled kids, made food for that evening, then wrapped presents all night, finally collapsing in a chair to watch A Christmas Story in its entirety for the first time. Christmas Day--opened presents at home with the kids, then headed to my parents for brunch and more gifts, then to my grandfather's for dinner. Then home, listening to J's mix cd of awesomeness and thinking about how very lucky we are as a family. Next day--total relaxation. only got out of my pajamas to work out, then put them right back on.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Not new love, just kept on lovin' (That makes me sound like Matthew McConaughey, I think).

22. What was your favorite TV program? The Wire (sob!). Mad Men. Friday Night Lights. Top Chef Masters.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? no way.

24. What was the best book you read? Huh. I don't know! I can never remember what I read, even if it was really good. I should start writing it down.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Oooh. The National...was that this year? Well anyway, I'll go with that.

26. What did you want and get? the forerunner.

27. What did you want and not get? Chickens!! Oh, ok, not really. I don't know...I guess I wanted to have the house more organized and I would like to figure out a way to have this living room more cohesively arranged, and that didn't happen.

As for the chickens, their day will come. Oh yes.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Food, Inc.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 33, and we just hung out at home, I believe. Our big trip was a week or so after my birthday.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less general angst and strife at work.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Avoiding the Mom Jeans.

32. What kept you sane? I keep coming back to the same themes. Steve, good friends, exercise, humor.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy? Really? I I don't know.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? So many things, but I would have to say the industrialization of our food supply, and the fact that there are many in our country who are systematically denied simple, healthy, affordable food.

35. Who did you miss? Friends who live far and near, with whom I did not get to spend nearly enough time.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Can I use full names here? Well, just in case, I'll initialize it. It's gotta be G.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. You can't control others, all you can do is be true to yourself and be the best person you can be.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. "It's times like these we learn to live again..."

Friday, November 13, 2009

ripped! from the headlines

"schools close due to flu
but they said they wouldn't!"
calm down, local news.

p.s. am watching old episode of glee. this local ad for the oilerie is AWESOME. "let your heart sing with Glee..." the guy was just so proud of what he did there. I love local ads.

p.p.s. I am a big cheater and counting this even though it was about 15 minutes late.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

day xxxx of proposal review

words lose their meaning
good, very good, excellent
merit and impact