Five hours before we leave for our Christmas in Southern California, I find myself rinsing off lunch dishes in the bathroom sink. This strikes me as funny—in fact, it was part of an amusing plot in that hilarious show, “The Middle” a while back. I’m glad I still have my sense of humor…just hope I’m not laughing the crazy cackle of the borderline sane.
Nasty germs are being passed around Fort Hood faster than two teenage girls can text each other the latest gossip. I know this because almost every one of my mom-friends has a kid out with something, or did recently. Each day, it seems another boy drops out of our middle school carpool and my nightstand looks like a pharmacy.
I think it’s safe to say that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s kind of a no-brainer, really. Thanksgiving is all about food, friends and family and appreciating what you have. What could be simpler or more appealing than that? Shocking confession: I’m not a big fan of Christmas. The pressure of buying gifts, decorating, sending cards, baking, and somehow “having fun” throughout all these weeks of chores and errands—is all too much for me.
I went for a jog the other night and couldn’t help noticing that my knees felt a little ache and my back was talking to me. Not too long ago, these harbingers of “maturity” would have been cause for alarm, because running was my go-to exercise of choice. Actually, it was pretty much my only exercise. Ever since middle school (and actually, even before that), I have been a long distance runner. In high school, I ran the mile and two-mile races and continued running for “pleasure” ever since. I’ve done six half-marathons, countless 5Ks and 10Ks and one marathon. I’ve experienced the classic “runner’s high” and have also slogged grumpily through many a run, hoping for the endorphins to kick in. What I’ve realized is, I’m not so sure running has always been a healthy outlet for me. It’s taken me quite a few years to admit that I am a bit “all or nothing” in my thinking. And this has applied to health and fitness in a big way. As in, I’m either fit or fat, dieting or eating whatever I want, feeling virtuous and good about myself or in self-punishment mode. This manifested itself in many years of bulimia, which I’ve discussed here before, as well as created unachievable highs and wrenching lows in my life. In my 20s and even into my 30s, running was often a yardstick of how “worthy” I was on a particular day. It’s been a gradual process but over the past 15 years or so, I have become much kinder to myself and less prone to the extreme. In terms of exercise, I no longer see things in stark black and white. Movement is movement and it all adds up. Walking the dog counts, so does strolling with Andrew to school in the mornings, doing five or 10 minutes of yoga when there’s time and maybe getting off the couch for some pushups and sit ups during commercial breaks while watching “Dancing with the Stars.” Of course, there are times when I’ll get to a bona fide yoga class or lift weights in our home gym and that’s all well and good. But I no longer measure my worth by what I ate or whether I ran five miles that day, and the funny thing is, I don’t feel any less fit. (Also, there is nothing wrong with choosing a nap over a workout when your body needs it.)
Making lists has always appealed to me so I am dedicating this blog post to random lists of various subjects. I hope you enjoy it.
My drivers license expired —again.
My sister is getting married in just a few days. This is my older sister, by all of 13 months. Completing the Schwartz sister “triangle” is our much-adored little sister Sally, who was born when we were teenagers. Julie and I were raised kind of like twins, which probably did her more of a disservice than me. We were often clumped together as if we were the same age. To be honest, I don’t think I made it easy on my folks to separate us much. Where she was, I wanted to go and what she did, I tended to follow suit. She did ballet, I did ballet (horribly, by the way). She turned out for gymnastics, I did gymnastics (also rather awfully). She ran track and field, and thus, I did too (I had more success with this one) and so on. Julie had all the qualities I longed for—wit, grace, blonde hair—just to name a few. I, on the other hand, was clumsy, ordinary looking and oh-so uncomfortable being me. We shared an interest in drawing and a serious obsession with fashion magazines, poring over them and then trying to replicate the clothing and even the ads. We played “restaurant,” creating elaborate menus and serving each other bizarre but creative treats made with whatever we could find in the pantry or fridge. Of course it wasn’t all sweetness and light between us. We had wicked fights over clothes…and let’s not forget the time our parents took us jogging at a campus running track and left me there. When it was time to leave, Julie innocently told mom and dad that I was hiding under a blanket in the back of our station wagon and off they went…only to realize their mistake once they pulled into the driveway. Good one, Julie! But these times were fairly rare. We played “Princess and Prince” (my shorter hair usually relegated me to being the Prince), and Barbies. We named the two that most resembled us “Carol” and “Cathy” and had them act out the young adult single life we hoped to one day assume. They lived in a fabulous condo, had cushy jobs that they barely showed up for (I vaguely recall that one of us was a flight attendant) and occasionally had a brief date with Ken, though not surprisingly, our Ken doll was not all that manly. In my girlish naiveté, I honestly thought that one day, she and I might really live like this. But alas—reality always has the last say. Julie ended up spending the majority of her 20s and 30s in Missoula, MT. where she actually did build a “fabulous” career for herself, working various positions before getting into alumni relations for the University of Montana. I visited there from time to time—once for several months after a particularly traumatic break-up. Since then, Julie has been promoted several times and now does alumni relations for Oregon State University in Corvallis. She is by all accounts, a success.
So we’re a little over a month into this deployment and I figured it’s time for an update.
Some kids begin playing soccer…or football…or basketball…around the age of three or four. By the time they are young elementary school students, they are used to eating dinner in the car while being shuttled to practices, and well-versed in waking early on Saturday mornings for games. Then there is us. As I stood on the side of the Harker Heights soccer field this week watching my 8-year-old attempt to maneuver the ball around a series of orange cones, it hit me just how “on the late show” we really are. Most of the other kids had clearly been playing for a few years and it showed in their coordination, agility, and overall confidence out there. (One boy in particular—a strapping and very handsome Aryan-looking kid—had all the grace and poise of a young Pele. And his parents—with their foldable chairs and cooler full of Gatorade—looked like they’d been on a soccer field or two in their time.)