Hilltop

Final Countdown

Well. Not final. To be fair, I might write again before all this is over. I just realized it’s been a few days since my last confession. So, here it it: 12 days to go. 33 miles to run. 2.75 miles a day if I wanted to run every single day. And I want to. But, I have obligations. For starters, I have a date with a certain New England football team on 12/24 in Foxborough. Could you see it? Excuse me, Mr. Brady, but I need to run around your football field 4+ times. Can you delay the game if I get a quad cramp? Um. No.
So, here is the plan:
12/21 6.5 miles
12/22 2.5 miles
12/23 6 miles
12/25 5? I’ll be at my sister-in-law’s for an all day brunch. Think they’ll miss me for an hour or so?
12/26 3
12/27 5
12/28 3
12/29 2

I am still (still!) telling myself I can’t do this. I am still waiting for the epic fail. My legs have been holding up and. And! And, I registered for St. Pat’s! So, there’s that. The game plan after 2016 is this: rest for a solid two weeks. In that time, develop a new yoga & strength training routine. Gradually add the run back into the mix. Sometime in late January-early February start training for Holyoke’s notorious hills. This year I have Millz by my side (aka speedy because he finished the Safe Passage 5k in 16 minutes. Yikes!). He’s never run longer than 3.1 miles and I don’t know his hill strategy, but I do know he’s fast!

Anyway. That’s that.

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Mexican Mayhem

Ever since I married into the family I have been a guest at my in-laws Italian Christmas party. Held every year on the Saturday before Christmas, the Italian side of the family gathers for feasting, cookie swapping and hooting over lucky scratch tickets. It’s a thing. It’s their thing. Now it has become my thing. Kisa and I will attempt to host, for the first time in history, The Party.
I am undaunted and unfazed by this turn of events. I’m approaching this party like I planned my wedding: by analyzing how it’s expected to go and doing it all backwards. My first dance was the last dance. My cake was a pie. My champagne toast was many Tuaca shots. I wore boots and a 13 horned hat. I did not throw my bouquet. I almost threw up from fear but ending up laughing outloud.

The Italian Christmas tradition is turning into Mexican Mayhem. We won’t be serving prime rib or swampy vegetables simmered too long. Instead we’ll have a buffet of mix and match fillers: chicken, beef, sofritas, shrimp, salsas, guacamole, rice and beans to fill tacos, burritos, quesadillas. A margarita bar and chili-chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake for dessert. Mustaches, sombreros, and holiday music south of the border style. That will teach ’em to nominate the Kisa and I to cook!

In other news (what else? Running!), here’s the lowdown: 71 miles to go. Covered so far this month:
12/1 = 6.55
12/4 = 9.15
12/6 = 7.00

I’m on track to finish this thing. I’m still not 100% confident and that makes me talk out loud. I ramble on about the numbers constantly. One thing I need to remind me & myself is not to rant too much around the Kisa. He thinks I’m obsessed. No. No, he doesn’t think. He knows I’m crazy. He watches my mouth and checks my eyes for lies. I know he’s looking for happiness; To make sure this is what I want & I’m psychologically sound doing it. Well, you know what ZZ Ward says, “‘Til the casket drops…’til my legs just break…” I’m going to keep going.

So. Having said all that. The agenda for this week: 6 tomorrow & 9 on Sunday. In between, baking Mexican shortbread and spicy sweet chocolate chip cookies to test. Buenas noches.

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The Wait

Summer is just inches outside my door. I can feel it in the way the dill is starting to spread and the chocolate mint is starting to creep. I have been waiting for warmer weather to plant Thai basil, bury cilantro seeds and try my hand at spicy peppers. My garden needs me!
Summer will be transitional from every angle. The words “wait and see” will play on my lips in every area of my life. Work: wait until you see the new offices, new technology, new furniture, new bathrooms, new everything…Home: wait until you walk on the new patio, see the new garden, roast marshies in the new fire pit, sit on the new deck, soak in the new hot tub…
In the meantime there is the ever constant run that has it’s own wait and see. June 20th will mark the official beginning of training for the next half mara on September 10th. This time I am going for time. My first time ever wanting to beat a better time. I’m going for an even two on a course I’ve never seen. Until then, two charity events: Tim Paige Memorial 5k tomorrow (“I’m just here for the pancakes”) and the Worcester Six 6k in three weeks (“I;m just here for the beer”).
A whole lotta wait.

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Starting This Thing

I have always been the pushover peacekeeper. To my detriment I never decide to take the wheel and drive. I’m the one in the back seat, plotting the fastest, convenient, and simplest route. I’m the one never saying a word. If I were at sea, I would be adrift with the tide, meandering with the pull of the moon. I can see me now, bobbing and ducking under the waves. Sinking until eventually I’m more under than not. Finally I drown.

But, no more. I’m starting this thing called Done. D.O.N.E. It sounds terrifying and terrific all at once. Take Christmas cards. I used to mail a card to everyone in my address book, taking care to care. I mean really care. It was rare if I just signed my name and called it good. I really tried. I’d promise myself year after year not to be let down if I didn’t receive one with half as much thought in return. But, every year it was the same thing. I’d feel slightly slighted. This year I’m not sending cards to family or friends. Fukc ’em. Instead I signed up to send 10 random cards to 10 random strangers. I specifically requested international addresses. That way, if I write to a serial killer it will take him some time to find me.

The other thing I’ve started is Over. O.V.E.R. It sounds stupid, but when it comes to my running I’m starting over. Really, from scratch. This week I ran 66 minutes and covered 6.28 miles. No big numbers, No big deal. It has been two months since I ran with carefree joy. These days I run with demons called pain and worry, one for each shoulder. I need to get past them.

Okay. So my real issues are not with Christmas cards and mileage. I’m talking in code for relationships put asunder and death did us part. I’m not ready to confront the walking away I must do…nor the going away you just did.

Categories: Confessional, Hilltop, Holidays, life, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering When

This is a post from SEVEN years ago! It was on the wrong blog site so it had to move.

We have reached a compromise – or so we have been told. It’s now safe to resume packing. All systems go. 251 boxes later and rooms are starting to echo. Walls look a little more bare. Boxes are getting more difficult to fill with just one designation. Suddenly, I’m faced with the nitty gritty of moving. The stage I crankily call “crap packing.”

We have ten “zones” for box designation: living room, kitchen, dining room, upper bath, bedroom, work out room, dude room, utility room, garage & office. Nowhere in the plan is there a room called, “useless sh!t I haven’t seen in seven years” or, “I have no idea what this is but there is no way I’m parting with it.” Letters from strangers who weren’t always that strange, postcards from places I’ve never been, newspaper clippings of faded interest, road maps from before I was born, pictures of places I don’t recognize, mixed tapes from people I don’t know, buttons, beads, baubles. Bullsh!t I said I would do something with and never did. What do I do with this stuff? What won’t I do? It’s utterly amazing the things I have unearthed.

But, for all it’s craptabulousness I am unearthing priceless memories, too. The Paint the Town Red, White & Blue trip mom, sis and I took to New York after 9/11. The orphan Thanksgiving I hosted in New Jersey. Thanksgiving in Quogue with ancient finery and Don’t Touch Anything attitude. My penpal from Africa’s first letter where he states he is 16′ tall. My sister’s graduation. My graduation. My first ‘date’ with kisa. The Early Bird luncheon where I was crowned Queen of the Court. Even sad memories. A friend’s slow decline into alcoholism. Another friend’s suicide note. The journal I kept after dad died. The car accident. The divorce. The miscarriage of twins. Yet. And yet, for all the memories there is a sense of promise. Change of name. Change of address. The keeping of old friends and their letters. All these memories make up my life as it was, as it is, and how it shall be.

So for now, I crabily crap pack. With a smile.

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Inventions

Things happen for a reason. Of that I am sure. I bailed on running last Thursday because my mind wasn’t really on the run. When me & myself spend too much time thinking about work and family there is very little left for moi. The last time I posted I promised a 10k over the weekend. Saturday turned into Sunday but I got the 6.23 done. Yay me. But! But. But, all that other stuff didn’t go away. I’m still a stress knot of nerves. Family. Work. Let’s add Home to the mix. I won’t say much about family except to say these words: ICU, intervention, separation. I’ve been on the phone a lot today. But, a comment – who hasn’t worried about her mother at one time or another? Work. Here are some words – audit, budget, accreditation, the DOE, search committee. It’s all happening at once. Categorically. Then there’s home sweet home. We had an ice dam raining in the house. This is a common occurrence for New Englanders from time to time. I have no reason to bellyache when others are losing their entire houses due to collapse. Only this – we paid thousands of dollars to get the problem fixed last year. See, this has happened before and we thought we had it fixed. Only, this year the ice dam formed two feet above the fix. It’s almost as if motherf^$%^ing nature decided to mess with us, laughing all the while. Here, have some more crap. We spent $– to get the ice removed & just today got a quote for a secondary fix. FukcU. Can you tell I’m beyond irritated?

So. Enough of all that. Where are we with the run? Nowhere. Nothing to report yet. Tonight is 5 miles. Maybe.

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Drownded

I’m currently reading a book called Points Unknown, a compilation of adventure stories. We’re talking hardcore risk takers. People who insist on doing crazy things like climbing Devil’s Thumb by themselves.

One story has stuck to my brain – can’t get it out of my head. It’s the story of a whitewater rafting trip in Ethiopia gone horribly wrong; where a man drowns and his body is never found. The author feels responsible for the death and tries repeatedly to find a body, something, anything to bring back to the grieving family. The story haunts me in part because of a passage in Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm In it he gives his account on what it must feel like to drown. He provides a blow by blow account of what happens to the body and speculates on what is happening in the mind. It scared me half to death.

So, where I am going with this? Oddly enough, my plants. I’m worrying about my plants in all this rain. I lie awake at night imagining their tender roots rotting in the moisture. I’m stewing in the dark, imagining their stalks saturated to bloating. I can practically hear the quiet drowning of the tomatillos, the cilantro, the dill, the cucumbers, the basil, the bok choy, and the rosemary. I planted all of them in above-ground ordinary planters with adequate drainage. Adequate for normal rainfall. Not this torrential day after day crap. I’ve taken to covering them at night with buckets. Yes, the buckets block the light but I figure at night they’re not missing much. It spares them some moisture…I think. I hope.

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Wheels on the Bus

My boss used the analogy of wheels falling off a bus to describe how I should allocate my budget. “Tell me what you absolutely, positively need to have in your budget to make your operation run. What would break your department and send the wheels off the bus?” Hmmm. Interesting concept. When you are dealing with over a half a million in expenses it’s a little difficult to decide, but lately I have been applying the wheels of the bus to my personal psyche. I don’t think the wheels have fallen off my mental bus but I think the tires are running dangerously low…maybe there’s even a flat. I can keep the apathy, like a smothering smog, come creeping back in.
In the last month I learned that my mother from another life is gravely ill. I am ashamed to say I have not been able to face her or her illness. I have not sent one word of compassion. Not one note of courage or consolation. I can barely read her almost daily posts on FaceBook. I am avoiding the whole damn situation. Completely. And it makes me feel like sh!t.
In the last month I learned a friend I fell out of touch with died an early and sudden death. I let a wave of emotions flood me when I first learned: shock (he was only 41), confusion (how come I didn’t know this earlier?), curiosity (what happened?), guilt (we didn’t stay in touch despite being really close in the 90s), and finally, nostalgia (we had worked together, drank together, made memories in New Jersey, Maine and Massachusetts together). After the first cycle of emotions I circled back and found anger, sadness, indignation, and the overwhelming inability to articulate why this death bothers me so.

In the last month a friend I used to hear from regularly has slipped out of sight. I think he’s ill but I haven’t bothered to find out.

In the last month I decided to downsize my office. My current abode is big, way too big. I currently have a huge corner desk, a ginormous 9’x9′ bookcase, a filing cabinet, a standup 1980s server, a second office N&Z desk, five chairs, a three-drawer cart, a large heating/cooling wall unit and oh yeah, a garbage can. And, And. And! I still have room for a dance party. It’s ridiculous. So, I’m giving it up so that two of my librarians can move in and utilize the space better. A new office for me will start construction on Monday. I’m stressed. I want to downsize but did I size myself out of a position of authority? I don’t even know if my big corner desk will even fit in the new space. What did I do?

In the last week my dreams of getting a new kitchen came crashing down when my husband announced his car needs $2,000 worth of work. Like now.

Here’s how I know I surely have a flat tire on my life bus. Just ‘Cause is in three months, less than three actually. I have not started fund raising or serious training. At all. The St. Patrick’s Day road race is next weekend. My 4.82 mile run last Sunday was my last run. Period. I stopped just like that and I don’t know why. My mother wanted me to post pictures to FaceBook. I promised I would. I didn’t do it. I have been meaning to connect with a friend. That phone is always out of reach. I see her doing well on FB and think I don’t need to connect. My sister is graduating from a pretty impressive program. She is downplaying the event and hasn’t asked me to come home for it. Is that the reason why I haven’t made plans to make the trek? Or is it something else? Am I pretending to care when I really don’t or is the fog of apathy so thick I can’t see my true self?

Categories: Charity, Confessional, Fund Raising, Hilltop, Just Cause, Librarianship, life, renovations, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Standing on the Edge

For months I have been on the edge of something. Something like depression but not quite. Something on the verge of dulled apathy but not exactly. For months I have been barely able to muster even a small smile. for myself. It was almost as if pure happiness, exalted excitement, or even honest contentment was out of my reach, just beyond my reaching and straining fingertips. It was if I had been standing on the edge of evil and had the devilish urge to jump. But. In a way, it was if I had. I knew I hit rock bottom when I actually dreamed about the D word. I knew I was in trouble with myself and moi when isolation sounded delicious. Never more had I been such the Ice Queen.

I’m thawing. I have a new edge to stand upon. Joy. I’m on the edge of excitement. For starters, work. I finally hired a crew. A good one. This means I eat my spring break vaca and spend it guiding new librarians. But, what newbies they are! They are young, exceedingly smart, funny, and oh-so-charming. They will bring a zest for the profession I haven’t seen in a long, long time. Can you tell I am excited to work with them?
Home. Kisa and I met with the kitchen guy. For a budget less than we expected we are getting a kitchen double in size. Double in function. “Two kitchens in one,” the contractor quipped. Indeed. Mis en place. Everything in its place. Spice racks and pendant lights. Island and peninsula. Granite and hickory and maple. Stainless steel and brushed copper. My color scheme is designed around a handmade olive oil carafe. Insane. These are material things I am gushing about, but here’s the thing. This new kitchen will foster a passion for cooking that I have held at bay. Instead of being frustrated by the cramped and inconvenient space I will grant my culinary imagination wings.
And finally, love. Kisa knows I hate Valentine’s Day. Knows I want to be loved on an ordinary Tuesday rather than a prescribed Hallmark day two weeks into February. But. But! But, yet last night I came home to a card that said it all. “Grateful.” Didn’t I once say I felt taken for granted? Didn’t I once scream that? Wasn’t my meltdown all about no one noticing me, my laundry, my cooking, my cleaning? Me. Me. Me. He’s grateful for me. That’s all I needed. Tonight we celebrate with Rebecca Correia at the microphone. Cannot wait.

I’m on the edge of believing in myself. I’m on the edge of coming back to being me, myself and moi. It’s about time.

Categories: Confessional, Hilltop, Librarianship, life, renovations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Plan Makes Reality

When Kisa and I bought Hilltop we declared it MIR – move-in ready. We didn’t need to do a thing. It was perfect. Perfect until we peering looking in dark corners and peeling back the pretty facade. We always knew it needed new siding. Soon we discovered just how much. Then came new gutters, a back deck overhaul and a new drainage system. Little things cropped up, things like replacing the back slider (twice!), the water heater, the pool liner, the central vac hose…Okay, so no longer perfect but still a dream home by all accounts.

Then I started to despise and adore one particular room. The kitchen. Now the more I try to cook in this designated area the more my love-hate relationship grows. Little by little I find fault upon fault with my culinary domain and yet it’s one of the better kitchens I have ever cooked in. The state of the art microwave hangs too low over the stove (the electric stove for pete’s sake!) – so low I can’t steam a bunch of lobster or boil a huge pot of pasta. The corner sink is not only incredibly teeny tiny, it’s in the darkest part of the room. If Kisa empties the dishwasher I am useless in the kitchen with him. I can open and close the fridge door to my heart’s content but the dishwasher is blocking access to the sink, the stove and to the counter where I do most of my prep work. The appliances are not (gasp!) energy star. The fridge door dispenses water but not ice. The ice maker works but has no place to spit the ice. I could go on and on about this catastrophe of a beautiful kitchen. Ranting doesn’t really help.

But. A plan does. We just refinanced our mortgage, saving us a few bucks each month. By my calculations by this time next year we can afford to reno the entire kitchen. If done right we could (potentially) flip the entire space. Instead of a claustrophobia-inducing peninsula, picture this: a space-freeing islandĀ  complete with electricity, storage and seating for four. Instead of cramped, narrow cabinets, I see a floor to ceiling pantry. Instead of a tiny kitty-corner sink suitable for washing a rat, imagine, if you will, a huge farmer’s drop sink. New floors (forgot to mention that whoever installed our current tile “cheated” by not tiling under the counters OR appliances). Of course we’ll need new lighting. Maybe knock out a wall. Definitely new appliances that actually do what they’re supposed to…I could go on and on.

We have been talking about renovating the kitchen for nearly two years. Talk, talk, talk about it is all we ever do. But, by putting away new-found money, researching ideas and coming up with a plan we have taken a step towards making this dream a reality. In my mind a plan makes reality!

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