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Marathoning Meb

I wrote this today as an entry to a contest to run in the 2017 NYC Marathon alongside Meb Keflezighi, my favorite runner.  I am not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination, but Meb inspires me. 

 

Meb is the reason I thought I could run a marathon. Corny, but true. I watched Meb in the 2012 Olympics, after I’d completed my first half marathon. Meb is an everyman. He doesn’t look like the other runners; he doesn’t act like the other runners. Meb is a friend you’re cheering on, not an imposing elite athlete.

I ran the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon with my twin sister. We were both undertrained and nervous. We dedicated each mile to a member of our family or our friend group. Our first mile, though, was to Meb. “To Meb,” my sister said as we ran the past the mile marker. “Who got us started in the first place.”

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My sister, husband, and I at the end of the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon

I haven’t run a marathon since 2013 or a half marathon since 2015. I had a baby, was beset by injuries. But when I told my sister (who had also been plagued with injuries) I thought I might hang up my shoes she was aghast. “You can’t quit!” she said. “What would Meb think?!” So we bought Meb’s book and we’re both back in the proverbial race. She is racing the NYC Half in March; I’m racing the Brooklyn Half in May. We’d both hoped to get into the marathon so we could say we ran with Meb.

I may never meet Meb. But I know him. And he’s changed me.   That’s why I’d be honored to run with him in NYC this fall.

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Sunday Night #SOL17

slice-of-life

There’s something both sad and hopeful about Sunday night.

On the one hand, the weekend is over and with the end of the weekend comes the  beginning of responsibility again.

On the other hand, the week stretches out before me like a blank piece of paper.  All of the mistakes and the missteps of the week before can be avoided this week.  I can get up early, I can be productive, I can stop procrastinating.  I can be kinder, eat better, run more.

This Sunday night found baby McK in bed early, my husband and I eating leftovers, a favorite movie on TV.  I don’t imagine that we’ll last later than 10:30 tonight.  It was a good weekend but a long one.  Baseball season has begun and with it my husband’s calendar fills up.  We’ve got at least two if not three late nights this week.  We’ll need our rest.

Still, I’m choosing to look at the glass half full this week; to see the possibilities instead of mourning the end of the weekend.  Here’s hoping that will set the tone!

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

 

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Libraries #SOL17

There’s something magical about libraries, isn’t there? 

The possibility of all of those unread books.  All of the things to learn, the stories to read, the lives to live.  

Baby McK and I went to the library today to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  The program started at 10 this morning.  Foolishly, we arrived at 10.  When the library opened.  We couldn’t have possibly known that people had begun getting there at 9:30 to get a good spot.  (Well, to be fair, a responsible Mom might have known.  I did not.). 

So the program was packed (and probably skewed a little old for our 17 month old anyway) so we went into the children’s room where we had the run of the place.  She took book after book off the shelf and lef them in her wake.  The staff had signs everywhere reminding parents that little hands would take things off the shelf and that that was fine, they would tidy at the end of the day.  She sat and read.  And read.  And read.  Mommy’s baby, for sure.


I had a magical idea that, when we were done, she would indulge me and let me peruse the adult new arrivals.  But as we walked towards the circulation desk to check out her books (her first library books!), she caught sight of the balloons and gift bags given to all of the little attendees today.  Needless to say, mom did not get her novel on.

Still, I have so many fond memories of taking book after book off the shelf in my own library, the Flatlands branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.  It was nice to see my girl do the same today.

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Alone #SOL17

I am not often alone.  You might this lack of solitude stems from my role as mother to a precocious toddler who often accompanies “momom” to the bathroom.  Or my role as ELA Supervisor, where I am surrounded by students and teachers.  Or the fact that I am happily married to a man who is my best friend whom I love to be around.  All of these things are true.  But my togetherness started a long time ago.

See, I am an identical twin.  And as an identical twin growing up in New York City, I was glued to my sister’s side for most of my adolescence.  We were allowed to go places–take trains and buses and walk–if we were together.  So my sister and I stuck together.  In fact, I can distinctly remember the first time, as a college freshman, I went to the Barnes and Noble by myself.  There was no one to rush me through the fiction section to get to boring History, no one to nag me not to spend too much money.  It was a surreal feeling.

But I relish my alone time.  I don’t get it very often, but when I do get it I savor it.  Tonight, after a long day at work and buying my mom a birthday gift and what seemed like endless traffic I came home to relieve my mother in law.  My husband had baseball tryouts today (anyone else always want to call tryouts auditions?  Just me?) and then he was going out to dinner with a friend.  So it was just me and my girl and then it would just be me.  I had an evening of running and reading planned for once she went to sleep.

Fate, or the stomach bug she had yesterday, intervened.  I was giving my girl her nighttime bottle, her first milk of the day since we thought she was still recovering from yesterday’s bout of stomach stuff, when she looked at me with sweet eyes and said, “All done.”  Then she promptly vomited all over me.  And the couch.  And the rug.

Fortunately, none of it got on her.  And after her initial fright all she wanted was more Elmo and CooMon (the Cookie Monster doll she sleeps with).  So I cleaned up.  And I poured a big glass of wine and made pasta for one and wrote about it.  Now I’ll watch TV my husband doesn’t watch (hello, Bravo!) and enjoy the rest of my evening.  Alone.

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

 

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Sick #SOL17

My daughter was sick for the first time today.

Actually, let me clarify: at nearly 18 months this was not technically the first time she was sick.  There have been coughs, an ear infection, dreaded coxsackie.  But this was her first stomach . . . Thing.  And this was the first time I couldn’t stay with her.

I’ve never had any delusions that I wanted to be a stay at home mother.  I admire women who are (and men who stay at home for that matter!), but that’s not who I am.  I loved my position as a classroom teacher and when my maternity leave was over (long by American standards, short by standards of the world but that’s another story for another day), I happily went back to the classroom, knowing my daughter was in good hands with my in laws.

Now I’m out of the classroom and while I’m learning to love my job I’m not at the same level of adoration I was before the position change.  Meanwhile, as my daughter gets older and smarter and sassier and funnier I love her more and more.  So when she was sick this morning, once in my arms, I assured my mother in law, who comes mercifully to our house to watch her while my husband and I shape other people’s children, that I could take off.  I had a packed day of meetings and observations and planning, but I could rearrange things for my girl.

She smiled at me, kindly.  She told me that there would be times my girl would be sick and need her mommy.  That this was not one of them.  That she’d be fine.  That I’d be fine.  That she’d give me constant updates as the day progressed.

And she was fine.  In some of the pictures my mother in law shared, she doesn’t even look sick.  She looks like a girl who’s watching Elmo, glad to get to stay in her pajamas all day.

Look at that smile! You’d never know she was sick!

This won’t be the last time she’s sick.  It won’t be the last time she’s sick and I can’t stay with her.  But it was the first time, and so I think it was the hardest.

This post is part of the Slice of Life Challenge held at Two Writing Teachers.  You can learn more about the challenge here.

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Scavenger Hunt

I’m sitting on my couch, in my Christmas pajamas (don’t judge), watching Good Morning America and I just heard something I think I truly needed to hear.

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love is being interviewed about the 10th anniversary of her book.  I read Eat, Pray Love several years ago and I liked it and there are things I have taken away from it but I am certainly not as devoted to the altar of the book as other people are.  I know people who’ve said the book changed their life and I wouldn’t have said that it did change my life, but today she said something that really resonated.

A person in the audience asked Gilbert for advice on how to follow her passion when her passions feel scattered.  Gilbert responded that there are two kinds of people in the world: jackhammers who dig relentlessly at one passion and hummingbirds who “cross-pollinate.”  She pointed out that while our culture rewards the jackhammer our life is a scavenger hunt and we are projects that have never been done before so we SHOULD continue to pursue passions and identities and dreams.

Whoa.  I have always thought of myself as a jackhammer.  I am a type A overachiever for sure.  But I love the idea of cross-pollination–how one area of our life can influence the others.  The scavenger hunt analogy!  That one place can lead us to another and another and another.  That we aren’t stuck in one spot or one position or one role.

I’ve been in flux this year, for sure.  I’m trying to navigate my identities as teacher, mother, friend, wife, runner, student, reader, etc. I think one of the reasons I’ve been struggling is my jackhammer tendencies; I have this idea that I can only pick one of those things.  But maybe I’m all of those things, and all of those things help to inform each other.  Definitely some food for thought in an unexpected place today!

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Stories

Well, it happened.  Twenty-nine days in, and I lost inspiration.  I almost forgot to write tonight.  But I remembered.  But then I couldn’t think of anything to write.  Fortunately I found tonight’s writing inspiration: “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we most need in the world.”–Phillip Pullman

I love the power of stories.  I love the power of stories that repeat.  I love the universality of stories and the way stories can create identity, purpose.  The stories we tell about ourselves are the stories that create who we are, and the stories we listen to shape us in ways we can’t even really know in the moment.  Stories have shaped me for sure: Harriet the Spy and Little Women made me want to be a writer.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn helped me understand what it means to be a reader.  The Aeneid helped me understand the pull between “right” and right.  The Poisonwood Bible showed me what family does and doesn’t mean.

There are stories I love to tell about myself: about the time I tried to pit my mother and father against each other by calling my father “some stranger my mother met on the street and married”; how, at 15, I was precocious enough to read Hemingway but not worldly enough to understand what impotence meant in The Sun Also Rises; the minor celebrity I met and almost dated in college.

The stories we choose to tell and the stories we choose to read say so much about us.  That’s what this month has really been: a chance to think about my stories, tell stories, and learn about the stories of others. I’m glad my story is being told.

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