Sunday, July 28, 2013

Train in Vain

Hands-down, The Clash is the greatest band of all time, period. It’s also what I’ve been listening to while running through my neighborhood these days - which is crazy because it’s like a surreal, post-punk soundtrack for my suburban life. No really, it’s true. I feel like I’m trapped in a David Lynch movie as I listen to London Calling on my iPod and wave at Stepford wives with strollers and affluent business men with accessory dogs, all-the-while waiting to see an ear randomly lying on the road. But I digress.

The point is that a few weeks ago I started running again. And by running, I mean that I’m lying to you. I’m actually doing the Couch Potato to 5K, which goes something like this: after you map out a route, get new shoes and make a play list, you have to actually use all of it… at the same time. Now, for the record, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are as many stages of grief as there are kilometers to finish or that they intersect at key points along the way. For example:

At 1K, I immediately go into Denial. This is the part where I say to myself, “Self, I don’t care if I stroke out and die. I’m actually ready to meet my Maker.” That said, whether or not God is prepared to meet me is an entirely different question. Personally, I’m betting no, which technically means that I shouldn’t need to run after all. I’m just saying.

At 2K, I hit the second phase, Anger. At this stage, I find myself furious at people who name races. Instead of things like The Kafka 5K or Dante’s Marathon - Where you think you’re getting hotter but it’s only because you’re going through Hell, they misleadingly call it stuff like, “Run for your life…” which is ironic, because my life was actually better and happier before I went for a jog. Seriously.

At 3K, you begin to Bargain. No lie, I will actually begin to believe that I should just go on Lipitor because it’s possible to achieve better living through pharmaceuticals; which makes me think that I lost the war on drugs; which makes me think of George Bush, who said the same thing about America’s War on Drugs; which makes me laugh because somewhere a bunch of stoners are eating Doritos and winning.

At 4K, because I realize that someone is eating junk food and watching Cheech and Chong while I’m sweating profusely and silently swearing at strangers, I become Depressed. I don’t want to be this person. I don’t want to be bitter and hostile, but I have to be, because God hates me and my cholesterol sucks. That’s right, I’m the victim here.

At 5K, I transcend into Acceptance. In other words, the pain stops but only because I'm finally home. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, if you were to see me pull into my driveway, you would think I had just finished a half-marathon. One because of the amount of time I was gone, and two because I look like Rocky on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. No wonder my neighbor stands at his mailbox and yells, “Finish strong!” I want to scream back, "Fucking really? The only thing I finish strongly are books, doughnuts and New York Times crossword puzzles." But I like him, so I don't. Instead I politely wave and listen to Death or Glory as I limp into my air-conditioned house.

Talk to you later.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Frog and Toad are Friends

I love our house. It sits on an acre of woods with a stream behind it; and, on any given night, you can watch fireflies while listening to the owls and frogs. Likewise, on any given day, you’re bound to see rabbits and cardinals, as well as the occasional sandhill crane, heron or turkey if you’re lucky. Lately though, our yard and patio have been covered with toads… hundreds of tiny, baby toads.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first. For some reason, I like eating breakfast outside. I do, and every day I pour a glass of orange juice, make a bowl of oatmeal, grab a cup of coffee and a tennis ball, then sit on the steps and play with the dog while trying to wake up. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not a morning person. I’m barely an afternoon one, so when I saw my entire patio hopping, I said to myself, “Self, if you’re still dreaming, please turn this oatmeal into the world’s biggest doughnut right NOW.” When that didn’t happen and the disappointment subsided, I became so intrigued that I needed to know what the hell was going on. 

And that’s when I saw them… dozens upon dozens of adorable, little toadlets… everywhere… which immediately made me think of the book of Exodus… which immediately made me want to fall to my knees and scream, “I knew I should have let God’s people go!!!” But I didn’t. Given that I started running again and my poor neighbors have endured enough these days, I went inside and got DB instead.

Now, for the record, I love and adore my husband immeasurably. Not only is he warm and brilliant, but he has this charming, Buddhisty innocence that makes me want to be a better person. And, as we stood there, watching the baby toads, we saw two of them climb onto the patio together. One was curious and brave and determined to blissfully bound and rebound on any and everything around it. The other stood at the edge and watched him like, “What are you doing? Do you NOT see those two giant humanoids staring at us? Come back.” then furiously hopped over to him, all-the-while thinking, “ARGH… Really?! I swear to God, if someone picks me up, I will pee all over them. That's right. They will be covered in warts and toad stools if I plan it right.” 

And in that moment, I was immediately reminded of the children’s book, Frog and Toad are Friends, and I’m Toad. I’m cynical and I’m gun shy and I’ve been on enough patios to know that it can all go horribly wrong in ways that you can’t even predict. And DB is Frog. He’s that friendly, fearless, calm being who believes the world isn’t a terrible place. Sure, it’s big and bad things happen, but it’s more exciting than it is awful and if you don’t hop out of the grass, you’ll never experience the splendor. Also, at the risk of setting the bar low, I want to be that kind of amphibian, but I’m not. I cannot rally that kind of optimism anymore, which is ironic when you consider that, throughout my life, I kissed a lot of frogs who didn’t turn into princes (at least not mine), then fell in love with a prince who also happens to be a Frog. 

I’m off to California to spend a week with DB’s mom and step-dad, who are awesome. Talk to you later.