Category Archives: My Thoughts

Running My Vote In, or: Who Knew Such Wonders Existed?

runningI had a rare morning off from parenting yesterday. Election Day is a day off for the Small Boy’s school district, and he was off having a sleepover with Gramma and Grampa.

Sleep in! my poor weary brain cried.

For the first time in maybe my whole life, my weary body protested.

Run! my achy (from my first 5K length run!) joints whispered. Run! You can do it!

(Is it weird that my achy joints kind of sound like Rob Schneider?)

The plan formed itself quickly. It’s Election Day. My polling place is about a mile from my house. Run, vote, run home!

I got up, fed the dog, and pulled on my running clothes, thoroughly enjoying the long sleeves, the cropped running leggings, the fleece vest. November in New England is a gray, raw time, but perfect for someone who runs hot–literally.

I apologize to the folks in line with me for Precincts 4 and 7. I was probably a little steamy and sweaty–and not in the good way. When I plugged my ear buds back in, and Chaka Khan reminded me that “I’m Every Woman,” I was feeling pretty smug.

And then a young guy in sleek tech fabric and $200 shoes passed me. Twice. Uphill. Yeah, he was doing sprints up the long hill I was chugging down.

Don’t judge, but Britney gave me back my perspective. I AM stronger than yesterday. Civic duty and a run all before 7:30 AM. I’d packed my lunch the night before. I had time for coffee AND a shower.

I’ve only been running since March. I can only usually run on Sundays because of our family schedule. Other days I do other things to get my fitness in. My progress is slow and steady. For a long time, I ran even though I loathed it. Forty is coming in a couple of years, and getting into–never mind keeping in–shape isn’t going to get any easier. Running only costs me shoes and some key pieces of clothing. It gives me time to breathe (or pant, whichever), and not think about anything but one foot in front of the other. It’s only in the last few weeks that there have been glimpses of pleasure in the aches and the rhythmic sound of feet on pavement to my favorite running playlist.

I recently read a post over at Another Mother Runner that made me laugh, but also gave me some insight into why the running has stuck with me. In a time in my life when a lot of things are out of my control, or spun out of my control and are taking their sweet time coming back into line,

Because guess what you can control? You. And your run. Whether or not you chose to go. Your one foot stepping in front of the other one. Your pace. The route you go, the effort you put into it, the miles you cover, the quiet you keep—or the music you blare.

My right knee is a little sore, and my quads hurt, and I’m already looking forward to Sunday. Who knew such wonders existed?

Last night I dreamed of Zippy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eric via a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Original image courtesy of Flickr user Eric via a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Zippy is our hummingbird. Well, insomuch as a hummingbird belongs to anyone. Zippy is the female hummingbird who, in the dog days of summer, finally discovered our optimistically hung feeder.

The feeder, a gift from my mother-in-law, was filled and hung out in the late spring, probably a little late for hungry hummingbirds, but with high hopes of emerald-and-ruby visitors with delicate probosces and barely visible wings. It was ambitious, frankly, as we live in a dedicatedly suburban place, with plenty of green and flowers and gardens, but also plenty of noise, cars, homes, pets, and people.

Initially, it wasn’t the hummingbirds who found the feeder. Wasps and bees discovered its design flaws and hovered drunkenly, gorging on our homemade nectar. The bees didn’t bother me overmuch. They already frequented the perennials, rolling in rhododendron and azalea pollen and performing their particular alchemy in the neighbors’ peach tree. The wasps were troubling, though, especially when we saw the beginnings of a paper nest in the peak of the fascia.

I left the feeder hanging empty in defeat, a kind of passive-aggressive hopeful gesture. Nothing for you, wasps, but if the hummingbirds should inquire…

About three weeks ago, I was doing dishes in the early morning when Zippy pulled up to the empty feeder. She was a good-sized bird, quick and agile, mossy-green and flecked brown-gray, and disappointed by the empty state of the feeder. I froze with my hands in the running dishwater, disproportionately happy that she was even there.

I had the feeder inside, cleaned, and filled with a fresh batch of nectar in no time, and Zippy, bless her, came back again the next morning.

The bees and wasps staged an attempt to scare her off, and depending on the heat of the day, the concentration of the nectar (one of the feeder’s flaws was a tendency to leak sweetness in great, fat drips from the feeding flowers), and Zippy’s appetite, it was somewhat successful. By the end of the second week, Zippy was coming by less frequently, and I wasn’t sure if it was because of the early sting of Autumn in the air as August wound down, or if the local winged insects were keeping her away.

Mark bought me a new feeder, this one meticulously researched, and touted as being insect proof, and boasting a perch around the feeder’s circumference. Zippy could settle in, if she wasn’t too afraid of the delighted humans on the other side of the window screen. Felix and I washed and filled it, then fought our way to the hanger and took down the wasp-ridden one, sending it to the recycling bin.

Since then, the nighttime temperatures have dropped significantly, and the kiss of fall is in the sunlight. I haven’t seen Zippy in days, and the nectar levels are untouched. I suspect she has decamped for warmer places.

The instructions on our lovely new feeder suggest leaving it out for two weeks after the last bird sighting, just in case, and so I shall. I have a tender hope that Zippy will come back in the spring, perhaps with a gentleman caller, to raise some kids.

I woke from a dream of Zippy at the feeder with that strange, waking feeling of certainty, unsure if I was dreaming or remembering or seeing. The feeder, full and bright in the morning sunshine, tells me she’s not here, but I can’t quite give up hope that one last visit might let me cling to summer a little longer.

If Our Kinship Is A Fire

Kinship.

It’s an old-fashioned word: at its most literal, a blood connection. But also: shared characteristics or origins. Affinity, sympathy, rapport, harmony, understanding, empathy, closeness.

It seems unlikely, even with the heady blend of performance, personal essays, and the topic of motherhood thick in the air, that eighteen strangers could form any kind of lasting bond over the course of two three-hour rehearsals and a single performance.

Kinship.

The spark of it was there as soon as our director sat us down in the first draft of the order of our readings. It kindled amongst shared threads on Facebook. By the time we left the second read through, it burned: a merry little flame of kinship between us.

If our kinship is a fire, it’s a bonfire right now—huge, bright, crackling, still fueled by the power of connection, sharing, sheer nerve, and the magic of performing. Before too long, it will be more the sustained glow of embers. Not nearly so dramatic as the bonfire, but quiet and warm and comforting. That warmth is what we’ll carry in our hearts once the light has dimmed.

I have no doubt that we will carry that light with us. The same way that I still feel the flickering of kinship with the women who shared my camp summers, or the woman who was my first college roommate, or the friends with whom I shared other stages over the years.

Emotional experiences leave their embers in our hearts. The best ones glow forever.

I know I’ve thanked the co-producers and cast of Listen to Your Mother Boston before, but it took me a while to really process the experience. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for your stories and your friendship and your sparkle.

I Found My Word: A Listen to Your Mother/Boston 2014 Story

Once, I was fearless.

I stood up and sang solos. I submitted writing to journals. I once told the boy I thought I loved what I felt, even though I knew he didn’t feel the same. Because I was, while gut-twistingly nervous, fearless.

And then some things happened. Things which eroded my sense of self. I have allowed them to drive the bus too long.  (Where is Mo Willems to write this post? Don’t Let Your Fears Drive the Bus!)

I’ve never claimed a guide word for a year before, but I have friends who do it routinely.

There is, as they say, a first time for everything.

In 2014, I am going to reclaim FEARLESS.

I am going to go for it. My fakeittilyoumakeit Aries self is going to be the boss. I realized this about 5 weeks ago when the auditions for Listen to Your Mother/Boston were announced. I had an anecdote and an idea I wanted to explore, but I’d never written it down before. In the span of about two days, I drafted, edited, fretted over, and ultimately submitted the piece and signed up for a spot.

That audition was great. I mean, I enjoyed it. I was happily nervous, excited, optimistic, and okay with not making the cut if that was how the wind blew. A healthy kind of mindset I haven’t really owned in a long time. (Perhaps it’s my thick author skin growing in? You can’t please everyone all the time.) The producers were kind and funny, and I left thinking, “Good on ya, Cam.”

Well, friends, readers, and any Romans or countrymen who might be poking about here today, I was cast!

I am one of 15 men and women who will share our stories about motherhood in the inaugural Boston performance of Ann Imig’s fantastic franchise. Take a moment, if you will, to click the pretty image. It will take you to our casting announcement, where you can meet my cast mates.

If you’re going to be in or around Boston on April 26th, please consider bringing your mother, daughter, spouse, sibling, cool uncle, best friend, hot date, or that total fox from band practice to see the performance. I’ll be comparing a small child to a large fowl. Sort of. Earlybird tickets are just $16.52 (pesky fees) until March 15, and 10% of sales proceeds will support  the Cambridge Women’s Center.

In Fourteen, I will be fearless. I will embrace the challenges, believe I can do what I want to get done, and push myself to be my best self. To see again in myself that fearless girl I once was.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to be FEARLESS about working out, because these performances are recorded for posterity by way of YouTube, and there’s only so much Spanx can do…