Monday, August 31, 2009

Food Labels

2 years ago when I stopped eating meat I had several flimsy reasons which over time grew into strong convictions. If everyone in the world were vegetarian it would end world hunger... The fecal pollution from raising enough livestock for mass consumption is a huge part of global warming... We wouldn't eat our pet dog or cat, and all other animals deserve the same consideration... Cutting out meat and dairy, when done correctly, is healthy and promotes safe weight loss.

People always ask me if I eat fish, as though a fish is somehow less of a living creature than a frog or dolphin. There is the constant comment that "fish is not meat." Fish is indeed meat. The definition of meat is the flesh of a living creature, and it confuses me as to why people make a distinction between fish and all other animals. I am aware Catholics are allowed to eat fish on Fridays, even though they are not supposed to eat meat, and that is where the confusion has been bred. My Dad laments not baptizing me as a baby, as though it somehow contributed to my heathen ways, so maybe if he had then I would believe fish is not meat!

On top of not eating meat, I have chosen not to eat eggs or milk, but I do eat cheese because I am only human. Yes I am aware cheese is made from milk, I can only do so much people. Over the last 2 years I've also had the occasional slice of french toast, and once I popped a tiny shrimp in my mouth in Vegas when no one was looking (okay twice!) I felt worse for being a hypocrite then for murdering the shrimp.

That is why things are beginning to change. I had an omelet this weekend, and forced the image of an egg being a chicken's period out of my head. Then it happened, I ordered the seafood combination at Benihanas and enjoyed every bite of that shrimp and lobster. So I cannot call myself a vegetarian, and while some have pointed out I am technically still a pescaterian, I am just done with being defined by my food choices. The fact is that eggs and chicken really skeeve me out... I love pigs, they are intelligent and beautiful creatures (they also have the longest orgasm of any mammal, look it up!)... and beef just looks like bloody carcass to me. Lobster and shrimp have just never triggered my guilt switch, and instead of being a hypocrite I am just going to move on from the labels and eat what I want in moderation. That makes me a flexitarian, which is the new buzzword with all the healthy running mommas, I guess that is one label I can live with.

Friday, August 21, 2009


This morning I had 15 miles on the agenda, and set off with my phone fully charged and fuel belt packed. I headed up 2 miles towards the dam that crosses the lake in the center of Bonelli Park. The directions I had copied from were specific, but as I trotted along I realized there were no street signs. I pushed away my nagging worries and continued on, but soon I was forced to stop, I had reached a fork in the road and again there were no signs. I followed my intuition and it took me in a big circle, I always was bad with directions. I went the only other way there could be and finally made my way over the dam. I tried to look out at the lake and absorb the atmosphere, my breathing was already getting raspy and I was only on mile 4. I passed a dead squirrel, it was keeled over and dead for no apparent reason, it's little buck teeth still sticking out. Ominous, but not enough to slow me down.

At mile 6 the run was finally getting started. I followed the road and my handwritten notes were right on. I passed street names I had scribbled along with mile numbers which I knew were slightly off after the extra half mile I had run. My pink plastic stopwatch showed me that I was staying on track with 11 minute miles, slow but perfect for long training runs. Suddenly I became conscious of the sun beating down on my chest and realized there were no more trees. No more trail. No more park. Just a long stretch of hot pavement quickly getting warmer in the late morning sun. I reached for my fuel belt only to realize all of my water was gone, and only 8 miles in to a 15 mile run. I felt the first pangs of desperation. The usual mental games I played with myself were of no help. Self doubt wedged it's way in and my thoughts were consumed... Is this the wall? At only 8 miles? I just ran 13.2 last month! How am I going to run 26.2 miles if I can't run 8? How many times does 8 go into 26.2... about 3 and a quarter... could I run this 2 more times? If I ran all the way home from here, I still wouldn't have gone 26 miles...

On it went, until I realized I was walking and not running. My first failed run, I was walking! I saw an office building like a mirage, in the middle of a random field. I walked in covered in sweat and found a bathroom. I just needed to refuel, wash my face with cold water, and get back out there! Moments later I was back on the route, and starting to feel better. I followed the street up as far as the directions told me to, then looped back down to look for the southern trail entrance, eager to see if the path back would have more trees and a better view. Only 5 miles left and I passed a little airport, I curiously watched the tiny planes lined up along the field. There were roadblocks ahead but after a slight pause I continued on, and soon saw a fellow runner coming back the other direction. We gave a slight conspiratorial wave and I carried on until I again came to another fork in the road. It was getting so hot, the water was giving me cramps, and again I had no idea which way to go. Frustrated, I kicked a rock and tried to fit myself into the shadow of a tree to cool off. One way was a dirt path and the other was paved, so I chose the paved and just as I started to run again, came upon yet another fork! One way looked like a trail, and the other just a camping area, so I followed the trail. As I left the dusty airport road behind me the trail began to snake closer to the lake. Trees were woven densely together on either side, and joined in an arch, casting the most the most beautiful fear-inducing shade I have ever gone through. I was alone, lost, and surrounded by leering branches but soldiered on. I kept telling myself to just stick to the path, in the general direction of my car, and never give up. I was falling farther and farther behind on my 3 hour goal, when again I came to a fork! I wanted to cry, running was not possible when I had no idea where I was going. I spied a car through above the trail and picked my way across a stream, my shoes drenched I ran to the road and I realized that again, there were no street signs, and I had no idea which way to go. I sat on a big rock and fought back tears, one snuck out and snaked its way down the dirt on my face. I started walking again, there was nothing else I could do, when I saw a streetsign! Somehow I was back on the north side of the lake on the long road that had taken me out past the airfield. I had no idea how, but realized I was about 3 miles from my car. I had to salvage this run, it was not a failure, yes there were setbacks but it wasn't over yet. The final two miles I ran and walked when I had to, when I crossed the dam again I knew I was almost there. As I walked the last stretch and saw the street my car was parked on I felt defeated and elated at the same time. I had run 16 miles and next time I'll know where I am going. Sometimes the trail wins, but that doesn't mean I lost.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I woke up yesterday and stared at my ceiling planning my morning run. I laced up my running shoes, put Mica's hair in a beautiful braid, got in the van and drove to a park. As Mica played I sat on the bench, willing myself to head to the gym as planned, but my legs felt heavy as though I was sliding bricks along with each step. The sun bounced off the sand and absorbed the last of the energy I had mustered up over my peanut butter and banana earlier in the morning. Mica walked up and simply signed "home," not even my offers to push her in the swing could persuade her to stay. I held her tiny little hand in mine as we trudged back to the van and went back home. Another failed run, that was 2 in a row. Why did it feel like the sky was weighing me down?

Paul got home moments later from yet another day in court related to the bar fight he was involved in. He was so confident, I assumed there had been yet another postponement in the case. Instead he just said, and with a smile, that he plead guilty. I felt the air rush out of my body and the anger plump my veins...Why would he plead guilty when he acted in self-defense? It is just ridiculous to me. The other man initiated the entire fight, and we have a witness. Unfortunately the supposed victim was leaning toward testifying against Paul. This makes no sense to me, the man is in a gang. What kind of gang member testifies? Didn't he get the gang member handbook? Hasn't he ever seen the Godfather? ... Paul explained that the DA offered him a deal, no jail time, just a small fine and anger management classes. Paul is ecstatic that the entire ordeal is behind us, and I know I should be too, but suddenly I found myself crying. I just couldn't process the idea that Paul plead guilty, and it was over.

I don't have to fall asleep afraid I'll wake up to an empty bed one day. I don't have to worry about getting jail letters, and accepting collect calls, and driving to whatever hell hole my husband was assigned to each Saturday with JT and Mica in their most adorable outfits, waiting to get a hug from Daddy. Yes, I glad it is over, but I am just so angry it ever began. I'm furious that a person can just push everyone around them until they snap, and then be labeled a victim and recieve support from the court system. I am frustrated that Paul had to miss at least 6 days of work for court. But on top of all of that, I am really livid that Paul should not have been at that bar to begin with.

I never did get out for a run yesterday, I followed Paul around like a puppy dog to get some errands done, keeping him in my line of sight as though at any second he could still disappear. We didn't celebrate or even discuss the situation any further, but I slept better than I have slept in 6 months. Now I am heading out for a run, and I know I will complete it and go on to finish a marathon in 2 more months. No more quitting... no more worrying...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Donut Day

Lopsided pigtails peek over my bed and a tiny mohawk outline creeps past my feet. Suddenly a puppy is excitedly licking my ear and JT and Mica bound onto the bed, jumping on me and signing D right in my face with unabashed expectancy... It's Sunday Mommy! It's DONUT DAY!!! Mica rubs her protruding belly and says I hogrey and JT sticks his lips out in mock sadness as though I haven't fed him in days. I tell them ok, tell Daddy it's time! When Daddy comes back in the door with that little pink box we're all ready and waiting with our pajamas and smiles. Those little piles of sugar may cost just a few dollars, but to us represent the end of another week together, and the beginning of things to come. Donut Day frames our existence and gives us permanence. Even if Daddy is at work all week, or Mommy has been sick, there at the end of the week is a routine that gives us all stability. That is what makes these 4 random people a family. Who knew a donut could be so powerful?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

End of an Era

So the next time I run a half marathon, someone please remind me not to take an entire week off to eat, drink and be... lazy! This week I had to break the bad habits that seem to form much quicker than good habits. My first day back at the gym I stepped on the scale and had gained 3 pounds! In one week! Why does it take 3 months to lose 3 pounds and only 1 week to gain it back? That little stab in the eyes has motivated me throughout this week and I already feel myself getting back into my groove. Eating this week has been excruciating, last week at one point I had about 7 pieces of pizza for dinner, dipped into 2 full containers of garlic sauce and washed down with a couple of beers! Not even light beer! So this week when I attempt to fill up on a normal portion size there is space left over and I am just plain hungry. Do I regret those 7 slices of red crushed pepper covered heaven? Not one bit! Nor the wine, plate of chile rellenos, or 2 bags of Doritos. The extra sets of reverse crunches that trashed my core today were so worth the potato skins and pazookie I added to my regular pizza and 2 pints at BJs. Pizza and beer seem to be a theme here.

Vacation time is now over, JT starts back at school Monday. With the school year comes early alarms, mostly vegan meals, hard workouts, and early bedtimes. Only 9 weeks until I run the full marathon in Long Beach! Oh my goodness I just counted that on the calendar and it is much sooner than I thought, I have a lot to get done, and I'll just have to do it without pizza and beer!
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